And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

I am spurred on. I feel truly blessed by such a good weekend catching up with friends. Their positive influence was such that as I drove home late on Sunday night, I was buzzing with motivation to be the best wife and mother I could be and didn’t need my usual dose of highly-caffeinated drinks to stay awake. Which is quite a change from how I have been feeling since I returned from Hong Kong.

It was wonderful to spend time with two Christian friends that really know me and accept me (and my children) as they are. We can talk frankly about a whole range of issues — usually with the children suitably occupied in another room.

It’s also nice to visit friends who are in the same stage of life so that the house is pretty child-friendly. I found that when a child needed to nap on a bed, any bed was fine — just like it would be at my home.

I certainly hope that when I have guests over here that they feel the same warm welcome that I received in both residences.

Lauren, Nigel + Melinda, October 2009
Whenever I'm with Nigel and Mel, we always play board games. Nigel likes to think that he's superior at them all, but I KNOW that I'm the best. Mel plays for the fun of it.

Brioni, 3yo, Z, K, Aisha, 4yo, + Calista, 18 months old, October 2009
My three girls just loved to watch the antics of the older children.

Lauren, Allison + Calista, 18 months old, October 2009
Here we are together! (I had to finally pry Calista from Allison's arms at the end of the visit.)

Calista, 18 months old, D, Brioni, 3yo, + Aisha, 4yo, October 2009
The girls loved playing together in the pool.

D, 3yo, + J, 6yo, October 2009
Allison's two girls shared their toys and house so nicely with my three.

Aisha, 4yo, October 2009
Aisha in particular loved the water!

Calista, 18 months old, + Brioni, 3yo, October 2009
This was the first time that I had put Cali into a float suit. Although the size is still way too large (it's size 2), the flotation is enough to keep her head above water if she accidentally goes in too deep.

Calista, 18 months old, + Lauren, October 2009
We were able to sit leisurely by the pool and watch the girls play.

J, D, Aisha, 4yo, Calista, 18 months old, + Brioni, 3yo, October 2009
The girls spontaneously lined themselves in the warm sun while eating their morning tea.

D, Brioni, 3yo, Aisha, 4yo, + J, October 2009
The girls intended to sleep together in the same room, but this arrangement lasted about an hour before my two girls were back in my room. (But by this time Calista had fallen asleep, so it was a peaceful transition.)

Brioni, 3yo, Aisha, 4yo, J, D, + Calista, 18 months old, October 2009
Can you spot all five girls in this girlie playroom?

Brioni, 3yo, October 2009
Brioni seems to think a girl just can't have too many shoes!

Allison + Cali Mae, October 2009
This visit wasn't really about me. It was to give Cali and Allison a chance to get to know each other, and if I hadn't remained vigilant I could have ended up driving away without my youngest. Calista shares Allison's middle name (Mae).

During my time at each of the two homes, I witnessed a difficult discipline issue that I could totally relate to. In both cases, the parents handled the incident magnificently and thoroughly, and this has encouraged me to keep pressing on through the tough times that sometimes crop up. (And not to slack off just because I’m tired or lazy!)