Friday, September 30, 2011


Firstborn did her first-ever Secondary School project. This one was for her Bible class and traced the geneology from Creation to the Flood. She decided to do it in watercolor paints. I think it looks great!
She splattered paint on the title with a toothbrush for a cool effect.

Way to go, Firstborn! (Save those ideas...we have 4 coming up behind you!)
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hubs Gone

Last week CC was gone to Japan for a short conference for our organization. He ended up stuck in China for an extra day because of a typhoon off the coast of Japan. He emailed to tell me that the airline had put him up in a hotel, which would be free of charge if he took a roommate. (!) He did! I emailed and said, "What if he is an ax murderer?!" CC emailed back, "He has no ax. Just a saw, and he's sawing logs all night long!" He was also fed three square meals of rice and cabbage while he was there. Needless to say, while he was gone, we missed him. And I suppose while eating only rice and cabbage, he missed us too.

My good friend T's husband was gone, too, so we arranged some time together to pass the single-mommy days quicker.

We had a playday at the park, complete with some little Turkish friends and some bubbles to pop.

We also had lunch together. (Isn't her handprint table wonderful?)
T made me my new all-time favorite Turkish salad...roka (not sure what this is in English but it is a very bitter, delicious lettuce), tomatoes, feta, green olives, walnuts, and nar esmesi (pomegranate dressing)!
Then later in the week, we brought our two families together for a meal of homemade pizza. Everyone has a buddy between her 5 and my 5.

Thanks for making our week a little easier with fellowship!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Story Behind Big Ben

You know, I don't believe I've ever shared this full story on my blog, but as I was drifting off to sleep one night this week, I decided it was time. Disclaimer: You may think we're weird. But when God does something supernatural in your life, sometimes it does not follow our logic and sometimes we just come across as odd. So, here goes.

When we left Singapore, it was with our 3 little girls. We settled in to Turkey and lived through a year of getting the school opened and seeing God work time and again. Along came Fall, I was teaching, and CC approached me and asked if I had thought about having more kids. It's almost funny to me that he asked. We'd never asked each other that question before, because both #1 and #3 were mild surprises. I had 3 under 3 at one point, so we never really discussed "more." Then he suggested we pray about it and talk again later.
Several days later, he approached me with an answer. He said something like, "We should have another." I asked, "Why?" He said, "Because God told me to have another one." Now, both of us have walked with the Lord since childhood, studying His Word, seeking His direction. And most of the time, that direction is from His Word. This time it wasn't. He said that as he prayed he felt a very distinct voice in his heart say, "Have another." He dared to ask Almighty, "Why, Lord?" and the answer was, "Because I am going to give you a son." Then, "Why, Lord?" and the answer was clear, "Because I have a Son." That was the end. He was blown away.
At that point, we proceeded to obey the Lord! :) (Obeying can be fun!) I was soon pregnant and we never asked the doctor (nor had we ever with any of our precious babes) whether it was a boy or girl. We knew it was a son. It was going to be perfect. 3 Queens and a Jack, all born in a different season. AND this boy would be the 4th Campbell. Levi Ross Campbell IV. I told only 3 people about CC's conversation with God.

And then on a Friday afternoon, I gave birth. To a baby girl.

Now, understand me here. Never, never, never in a million years did my husband have even a moment of disappointment when he saw our precious baby girl, Eva Kathleen. She melted him. He took her out of the room and said, "Let's get this straight. This is between God and me, not you and me. I love you and I always will." We didn't even have a name for her. I told him I always wanted to name a daughter after my Granny, and that I'd love to give her CC's sister's name as well. The names were beautiful together. And Eva was perfect in every way.

But the issue was that CC had, in his mind, missed the boat. His heavy heart was due to the fact that if he misunderstood God this time, he must have misunderstood Him so many other times before. We moved on, trusting in God's sovereignty and will, but always wondering about that day when he felt God spoke to him. And we of course needed Eva so desperately in our lives. How could we be Campbells without our chubby-cheeked little Turk. I never knew a babe could be so easy. I never knew a toddler could be so easy. And she was the Songul (Last Rose). She was the end of the babies.

And then one day, just before my 36th birthday and CC's 40th birthday, I discovered I was pregnant. We had prevented a future baby, content with our 4 little girls with no inclination to have a 5th. We were determined to show the culture around us that we loved exactly what God had given us, in spite of the suggestion we should abort so many girls in favor of a boy. We believed that was one testimony we could present to those who looked at our odd and big family. But I was pregnant. The range of emotions was almost indescribable. But I knew in my heart at that moment, this was the promised boy.

I waited nearly a week to tell my husband. Of course! It all made sense now. That's why I was falling asleep during Bible story time at 7:30PM. I can't say that I will ever know exactly how Mary must have felt, but I did get a little glimpse that week. Scared. Excited. Full of wonder. Confused. Alone. At one point, I said to myself, "For heaven's sake, Sara! You are a married woman." But it was all such a mystery to me. And then this deep deep peace began to reside in my heart as I realized that my great and mighty God wanted this to be His work alone. How much more glory He would get this way.

And so, at our birthday party, in front of many friends, I passed a card to my sweet birthday-boy husband with a note revealing my present...a new baby to come. He was speechless, he cried and smiled at the same time. And we both knew, it was the boy. (But I must say after we dropped everyone off, he said, "And HOW did THIS happen?!")

God even told us what to name him, but that's another post. Suffice to say with a name like Benaiah, he will be asked all of his life, "What does that mean?" And when he answers, "Son of the Lord" he and others will see God's glory.

My heart is full. Amen.
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How We Celebrated Big Ben's 3rd!

My big little guy turned 3 on Monday! I have another post in mind about how God gave him to us, but thought I'd just get these pictures posted today for all those grands and aunts and uncles and friends who love my kids! We celebrated on Sunday night with pizza and cake and ice cream. CC, as the director of the school, invites all new students for a pizza and Coke lunch in his office. So, basically, he eats pizza every day for 2 weeks! So we thought we'd get his week off to a good start with a pizza night! I had made this train cake, with an idea I got from my friend (and sis in law of my sis in law). See her blog here: Mandy 
It seemed perfect, as I bought him a train set last summer to open for his birthday. No licorice for the train tracks, but hey, we do what we can over here in Turkey! As always, I bake the cake, get ready to serve it, and then am reminded by CC that birthday cake can't be served without ice cream. One Campbell girl popped up to run downstairs and buy some ice cream. (Apartment living can have its' advantages.)

After singing and cake, we headed to the den for presents. This gift was a favorite. Spidey on a four-wheeler. It can't get much better. CC noted that Spidey now wears a helmet. How safety conscious he has become.

B's Campbell grands also gave him a Spidey mask. I wondered if he might be afraid, but not Big Ben. I think we all know what he will be for Halloween. Or maybe CC will be Spidey...those of you who've read this blog for awhile will remember this post: Halloween

He received a sword and laser gun from his Fish cousins. The photo below was not posed. CC really did steal Big Ben's new toys.

Grandma got Big Ben some cute new long-sleeved t's and warm up pants. He liked them all so much, he wanted to change clothes multiple times during the day between his two new shirts.

Two of his sisters found this treasure in a trash dump, cleaned it up, and presented it to Big Ben for his birthday.

And his final gift was the new train set.

The next morning, on his actual birthday, we went to the school at 8AM and let the staff sing to Big Ben and his birthday buddy, Mr. Elliott. After Mr. E blew out the candle, B was upset that he didn't get to, so we re-lit it and let him have a turn. Happy 3rd birthday, Big Ben!  We wouldn't have been complete Campbells without you! We love you!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sweet Sue

My sweet second cousin Sue went to heaven today. She was found in a diabetic coma last week and never woke from it. She was my mama's flower girl so many years ago.

Sue married young, and then gave birth to a precious baby girl, Erin, who was born with spinabifida. Erin never walked. She used to grin at all of us cousins when we came to visit. (Sue was told when she was born that Erin would only live a matter of days. She defied them and lived eight years.) When Erin was born, her own daddy decided he didn't need troubles like that and left without even looking back. But God sent Sue a man, Kelly, who loved her with his whole heart and took little Erin as his own.

I remember when my first daughter was born, and I gave her the name Mary Erin, after her two paternal grandmothers, Sue wrote me and told me she was so happy her little Erin had a namesake. That made me happy, too.

And it just occurred to me how happy she must be today to see her little Erin again today.

Campbells Camping: Part VII (S'mores and More)

Perhaps the most anticipated event of our campout was the fire we were going to build. The kids collected brush, pine cones, twigs, and sticks all day. CC built us a great fire. We had a bag of charcoal starter in the van, but he didn't need it! I had been given a gift of some USA hotdogs, and I froze them to save them for this weekend. I think everyone ate at least 2!

And of course our side dish was s'mores. We made the Turkish version. Little biscuits (a mildly sweet cracker) for the graham crackers, thick chocolate bars for the Hershey's, miniature marshmallows that we squeezed together for the jumbo marshmallows. They were perfect!

And as the sun set the second night, it began to get much colder. We were thankful for the heat from our fire. There were several fire pits left behind, and we surmised they were from shepherds out tending their flocks at night. In this country, that is most likely correct. We had a wonderful weekend. On our drive home late Saturday night, we passed through a little town. It had a one lane road and no stop signs. It was tiny. But everyone in the town gathered for a wedding in a field. We stopped and watched for a bit. Then all the Campbellkids dozed off on the drive home, and CC got us home to our comfy beds. Thank you, God, for weekends that remind us of the world out there You created!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Campbells Camping Part VI (More Forced Family Fotos)

One of my goals was to get a family photo of all 7 of us in front of the tent. I told Big Ben to smile at the blinking light. I think he did a pretty good job of it!
Anyone on staff can tell you how stressed I become at our staff photo sessions in August and at Christmas. Mr. P clicks the timer and then slowly strolls to position, all the while I am hissing, "HURRY! It's about to TAKE! Oh please, this is so stressful. RUN!" It's awful. I love and hate the timer feature all at the same time. Please look carefully at this photo below. Do you see the hand at the right of the picture? It's CC's. Can you tell I am saying, "You AREN'T going to MAKE it!" Look at Twinkle Toes' and Miss Middler's smiles. They knew their daddy wasn't going to make it, that it would stress me out, and they thought the whole thing was funny.

Much better.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bomb, Babe, Ballerina

I feel I must interrupt this series of Campbells Camping posts to comment on recent events in Ankara and in my life.

First, a car bomb was detonated in our city. It killed 3 people and injured/maimed many others. We learned about it before even the news stations did. Our school's caretaker was within a mile or so of it, and he called us. He, believing God intervened on his behalf, said, "Had I left one minute later, I would have been in it."

Amazingly, he was not even supposed to run that errand. Our Turkish Vice Principal was. She was expecting a baby and about 1 week until her due date when her water broke late at night. While in labor, she realized she had a paper that needed to be delivered urgently to the government on behalf of the school. She contacted our caretaker who ran the errand for her. So in reality, the delivery of her child prevented her from going. And that saved her life. And God spared the man who did go on her behalf.

I went to see her that very night. And I saw this...

( Very dangerous for me, a woman who is 'done' having kids.)

We have since learned that the police believe the prime suspect had breakfast and stored his car in our little neighborhood prior to his crime.

But life goes on. Sweet Cheeks begins her first-ever ballet class tomorrow. She asked me tonight if I could perhaps create a special ballet breakfast for her tomorrow morning. I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Oh, maybe make my breakfast look like a ballerina and everyone else's just look normal." 

Campbells Camping Part V (Adventure Girl)

On almost every vacation in Turkey, CC wants to go on a hike. He's pushed the kids really hard in the past, and I've been very impressed by them. (from my station back in the hotel, watching over the sleeping infant.) They are troopers. Once we even took them up a rock cliff that Alexander the Great decided was too hard to climb with his troops! This weekend CC gave the kids a choice if they wanted to go or stay back. Only Miss Middler went. She's always up for an adventure.

And she made it to the top. We could see two little dots up there and flashed a mirror in the sun so they could see us.

Here's another panoramic view of our location. Do you see the little dots? They are homes.

Here's a closer one. We determined this must be just a little logging town. At night, none of these homes had electricity. My kids said, "Really?! That is SO cool." I think I'll remind them of that when our power goes out here at home, as it does weekly.

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Campbells Camping Part IV (Forced Family Fotos)

I told them one day they'd thank me for all these photos.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Campbells Camping Part III (What We Found)

When the Campbells go anywhere, there's always collecting involved. This time, we collected:
pine cones (in the hat)
snail shells
a rock in the shape of a gun
a stick in the shape of a gun

Guess which ones Sweet Cheeks collected. Guess which ones Big Ben collected.

And here is what "I" found! I knew this picture was blurry, but I wanted to post it anyway. Amid the harsh winds, desert climate, and dry ground was this beautiful little plant. It was changing colors, and in it I found yellow, orange, red, green, blue and violet. Does anyone know what it is?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Campbells Camping: Part II (Down By the Creek Bank)

My daughters were thrilled that they got to act the part of Little House on the Prairie when we finished breakfast. I basically said, "Find some water and wash these up." The daughter pictured above, Miss Middler, is so adventurous sometimes, that she scares me! She headed out, tub on her hip, without a look back. She did find some water between two ridges. Straight down she went.

Later in the day, when I went down to the water via a winding back path, I glanced back up to see how far down they had come. It was so steep I wondered how they made it back up!

CC advised me later in the day that he felt eating off dirty plates might be preferable to eating off plates washed in that creek. Each time they pulled up a bit of water, they found little swimmy bugs with lots of legs and slimy bodies. I asked CC if he thought they might be parasites. He reminded me parasites can't be seen. So we decided these were non-microscopic parasites. And yes, I rinsed off the plates with our clean drinking water!

You know as much fun as a computer, tv, dvd, wii is for kids...nothing beats God's creation outdoors, in my opinion.

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