Romans 12:1-2

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

2014 has been a year of change…

Devon has been working at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (our Alma Mater) for almost five and half years now.  In late summer he moved from the online program to be the director of a brand new program, the Masters of Arts in Apologetics and Theology.  Devon still enjoys running and flying.  He and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary on a cruise this summer to Cozumel and a few other places.

I’m still teaching in Owasso.  This is actually my first year ever not to move a school, grade, or room!!  But, education is always changing!  Our state standards changed and at the beginning of the school year I had 27 first graders.  After a new teacher was hired, I am down to a more manageable 21.  Hmm…I’m trying to think if I do anything besides school…..I’m on the Alumni Board at OKWU and I volunteer in the church nursery.  Other than that, I try to keep things going for the boys and at home.

Speaking of boys – they are becoming more and more independent.  Micah got his driver’s permit.  He will be 16 next April.  He’s still enjoying his leadership activities at church and school.  He was accepted (by way of a lengthy application) to go to Truth and Peace this summer. Truth and Peace is a week’s worth of leadership training at Welch College in Nashville and then a week’s worth of serving at the Free Will Baptist Church’s National Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Levi’s big change was school as he started eighth grade at Rejoice instead of Owasso.  He hasn’t been exactly pleased with the change, but we can see some positive outcomes from it.  Levi is a social guy and he’s made friends quickly.  He also played football for the first time and did well.  Since Rejoice is a small school, he played both offense and defense. This summer Levi was quite the entrepreneur and mowed several lawns in the neighborhood. 

We’ve been blessed this year with wonderful family times, new friends (and seeing longtime ones), and fun times traveling.  There have been down times too, but we keep pressing on and relying on God in all times.  Perhaps our biggest family change was losing our dog of almost ten years, Jazzy.  We’ve found our family misses having a dog in the family so even as I write this we are in process of adopting again. It’s like having a baby in the house again!

Whether you’re local or someplace else, if you’re ever nearby, please let us know – we’d treasure the opportunity to get together. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season and a Happy New Year!

Devon, Annette, Micah and Levi

Hebrews 13:8 (The Message) For Jesus doesn’t change – yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

We camped in June with Devon's brothers and fams - the boy in the flag shirt is my nephew.

I'm calling the spot in the park where we took the pictures Jazzy's Ridge.

I had trouble choosing pictures to put with this letter because most of the pictures are already in my blog or on facebook (or both) already.  Please take the time to click on the other months to see highlights from the year if you'd like.

Friday, November 14, 2014

On the Home Front

Outside my window… leaves are scattered across the yard.  There is a for sale sign in our across the street neighbor’s yard.  Once they leave, I think we’ll be the ones on the street who have been here the longest.

I am thankful for… medical care, warm sweaters, an involved Hubby, and holiday plans.

I am wearing… jeans and brown cardigan sweater

Some plans for the rest of the week… M. is working a dinner theatre tomorrow night.  Next week L. has a dentist appoint, M. is (hopefully) getting his driver’s permit, we are packing our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and Thursday night is Literacy Night at school.

I am hoping … to feel well and have a productive weekend.

On my mind… my children’s spiritual life.

Hearing…. Hubby’s pen writing and the heater.  It makes a scratching noise because of the desk surface.  Every now and then I will hear him talk.  He’s on a conference/video call, but he’s using earphones so I don’t hear everyone else.  I also don’t hear J. the dog – there have been many times on the spot of the post where I mention I hear her snoring. She was usually asleep nearby whenever I was working on the computer.

I am praying for… hunger for God.  I’m also praying for a couple of friends who are going through cancer treatment.

From the kitchen….. barbecue pork (one of our favorite’s with green chile) is in the crockpot for tonight.  I need to write a grocery list and plan for next week.

Around the house… bits and pieces that need put away. 

One of my favorite things…. Going to church with my family and running in to people we know when we’re out – especially Aunt and having an impromptu snack.

From my picture journal

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What We've Been Up to Lately

Seriously?  It's been close to two months since I've attempted any kind of blog post.  What happened?  One word - SCHOOL.  I started the year with 27 first graders.  Our new teacher was added two weeks ago and I'm just now starting to come up for air.  This isn't in chronological order, but here is what we've been up to in addition to school...

Selfie in front of the Will Rogers Birthplace

A kind passerby took a family pic of us with the lake in the background.  If I hadn't already printed Christmas cards, I may have used this.

L and I watched Hubby and M taxi and taxi and taxi some more.  I got a little nervous.

They lifted off just before the trees and I was thankful that L was with me and not adding weight to the plane!

Hubby's first day of classes for traditional campus, not online.

M's first day of 10th grade.  Don't have one of L. because he wasn't cooperative and it would have been in football practice gear anyway.

M has had some preaching opportunities - this was the first in the sanctuary on a Sunday night.  We're so proud of his growth and excitement to keep following what God has for him!

I was looking in to the son, but I'm pretty sure L. is in this photo some place.  We've been enjoying going to Jr. High football games home and away.  L. is doing a great job too!  His last game he caught a pass for a two point conversion, got an interception and made a couple of great block/tackles.

I love my nephew!  We enjoyed our weekend visit  for my niece's 2nd birthday.  I didn't do a good job with pictures of her (they must be on the boys' phones).  You can tell by M's legs that he is ready to relax!

Both the boys knee boarded - L managed this 360. It was a very relaxing and fun few hours - just what I needed! 
I'm glad that I am posting these pictures.  They've helped me realize that even though the beginning of this school year was absolutely dreadful, we've had some really nice times too.  God has provided help, grace, guidance, peace and exactly what we've needed.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What I Learned in July (and a Few Days in August)

1.  Slowing Down is a Really Nice Thing to Do

I bought Hubby rocking chairs for the back porch for his birthday.  Does this mean we're old?  He mentioned he wanted some more patio furniture and I noticed he had been sitting in the porch swing with some regularity so I suggested it and we shopped together for something we both liked.  We've enjoyed them some together in the evenings, but I've really used the rocker in the mornings!  We were home quite a bit in July and we had some beautiful weather - especially mornings.  We even had rain to watch and enjoy.  A normal time on the porch went like this:  Sit and watch the going-ons around me, just be, and ponder; let the dog back in and then let her back out less than a minute later to sit on the porch near me or lay in a flower bed; check the weather for the day; read something in Proverbs, Psalms, and the New Testament - pray while I'm reading it; pray for pressing situations; check Facebook and make a response or two; pray for friends on FB; sit and be a few minutes more and then go inside to face the day.

This morning I was thinking about this slowing down thing.  I watched bees for a while.  Many of them flew around the crepe myrtle and then the huge-est one I've ever seen flew around the grass and then the porch.  I was really thankful that I wasn't a flower!  Today was my last day of slowing down - Monday I "report for duty".  Once we I was telling Hubby how much I've been enjoying the porch I asked him how I could keep doing it once school started.  He suggested getting up earlier.  Eeeewwwww.

2.  I can snorkel!!

I cannot swim.  Well for any substantial length of time and I absolutely do not like getting my face wet!  I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking (except I knew he'd enjoy it), but I booked a kayak, snorkel, beach time excursion for Hubby and I when we went on our just the two of us cruise.

I made it completely clear to guide that I was a non-swimmer (maybe I was thinking he'd let me out of this part).  The guide said that wasn't a problem - he brought a ring and I held on the whole time!!  I only had a little bit of panic when I saw how far away from shore we were getting and my life vest wasn't blown up.  Hubby quickly fixed that.  As soon as learned how to blow the salt water out of my mouth through the snorkel life was good.  I saw all kinds of fish and they swam right under me!  We saw a conch, some stick looking crab, coral and the opening of caves.  My favorite part was watching Hubby dive down to take a closer look!  I'm so thankful I didn't let fear get in the way - of this or the kayaking.  We also enjoyed some time on the beach and eating the best mango ever!


3.  No two summers look the same.

I guess I'm feeling this summer ended more quickly than I remember last doing.  And I didn't complete as many items on the summer bucket list (though Aunt told me I should include the do kind of items like cleaning out the closet).

But here goes, this is what I DID complete:  read Captivating, complete extra work (two projects), tour the new apartments in town, run again (just a bit), pick blueberries, Parade of Homes (just two houses), clean out the game closet, and read 10 books.  I did drive some with M. and give the dog more attention (we took her to the dog wash each time we picked her up at the kennel too), but not nearly enough to count.

If you'd like to see the actual list, click here.  Mentioned in that post were a mission trip and football conditioning and Hubby's new position.  Trip went great and L. made it to conditioning (except when he was gone or I forgot and slept in).  Actual practice starts Monday.  Hubby has made the transition - his work replacement is here now with his family and settling in the job.  Hubby has participated in some recruitment and conferences for his new job and is gearing up for the fall semester.  It's been a welcome transition for me to - to have him around the house some in the mornings!

We got to see my niece and nephew a couple of times (quickly) in Texas.

The boys saw their Albuquerque grandparents and went to Durango.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review - A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Mosley

A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Mosley

I was so excited to get this book so I would have something with paper pages to read on my cruise.  It was a perfect summer read for me – not too light and not too heavy.  After reading a lot of bad reviews for this book too, I was anxious to find out for myself.

It was actually refreshing to not have the character’s faith all tied up in a neat package.  For most of the book both main characters are very cynical, but there is change and I can see how someone growing in their faith could benefit from seeing a character grow and change.  A mature believer should be able to handle a character grappling with faith issues.

Two of the books themes – forgiveness and sacrifice – have been coming up a lot lately in things that I’m reading.   I thought Mosley handled these themes in an honest way and although I haven’t personally dealt with the specific issues (besides death of a loved one), I’m sure that many have.  I did figure the mystery part out (except for a little tweak) part way through, but that didn’t make it less of a mystery or not worthy of a read.

Like I said – not too light and not too heavy.  It’s a good read.  I enjoyed the time and am glad I read A Stillness of Chimes.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 11, 2014

One Thousand Gifts

Really - I'm just going to have to deal with the fact that 100 of these aren't digital.  If I wait to "catch up" I won't put any online.

I continue to count gifts and be thankful...

1722  Wiggly clean almost two year old
1723  The love and hospitality of family
1724  The hope of doing it again
1725  Figuring out the right direction
1726 Rain – so many places in need (gifts in water)
1727  J’s expression of adoration for and pleasure in vacationing with is family (words)
1728  Fluffy clouds – something to look at when we drive and I could look at clouds for hours (white)
1729  Five days in the Black Hills
1730  The sound of the water from the back porch fountain
1731  Bug spray
1732  A second way inside the house when the inexperienced in flying birds are flying in the front
1733  Watching them have a flying lesson last Sunday
1734  Starting book number ten for the summer
1735  Teenagers having dinner
1736  Teenagers upstairs
1737  Throwing a tomahawk
1738  New rockers
1739  Knowledge and love (I Cor.)
1740  A kindle for several years and an IPAD now
1741  Sharing family times with true friends
1742  M. going to Inner City Chicago (Gifts in Challenge)
1743  Reading before watching TV (Conflict)
1744  Hubby is in the midst of his job transition (Change)

Not everyone is looking, but I like the close-up.  I can't believe how much they've grown up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Things I Learned in June

1.  I learned even more about phonics and some new strategies to help readers.  I had the privilege to attend a week long workshop for Structured Language Basics.  I'm looking forward to using it in my classroom and am going to take further training with it over the school year.

Before having dinner, Aunt and I visited a doll museum at a local library.
Although I had to be away from home a week (the one that was being offered in my hometown was going to be while we were away on vacation), Hubby came to visit me one night and Aunt came another for her birthday.  Plus I got 2 books read AND I made a very quick trip to Texas one night to see my niece and nephew.

2.  I learned I can conquer fears and still have a lot of fear.  I did an aerial park with Hubby and the boys.  The obstacles I did were about 25 feet up in the trees (they went on to do higher and more difficult ones without me) and we were tethered the whole time and I survived!  We did things like walk across hanging logs and ropes and grab on to this triangle wood thing and swing to the next platform.  I must say, I was so nervous that I was nauseous, but like I said, I survived.  However, I gave my last hour to my sister in law and took her zipline ride.

M has a cousin, M!  He's 8 - and he finally got tired of waiting for me!
This was after Hubby came across on the wood triangle swing.
Not too much later, I found myself taking the chairlift up the mountain with my nephew and riding an alpine slide down.  We could see Mt. Rushmore from the chairlift!  Here's where the fear comes in: before starting the slide they cautioned us that if we didn't brake around corners, we could flip the sled. So, what did I do? No, not flip, but I used the brake entirely too much!  Next time though, I'll cruise fast and furious down the mountain.  It got me thinking how I use the "brake" in my life when I'm scared. Hmmmm.......

That's it, just two things - after all, I am on summer vacation!

(Normally, when I do these particular posts I link them up at Chatting at the Sky.  However, Emily is on a bloggy break this summer.  Check out her writing though. Emily and Anne at  A Holy Experience are two blogs I try to read somewhat regularly.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Surprise in The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

Lately I have been reading Christian fiction that is heavy on the mystery side with just a little bit romance so when I first picked up The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, I was a bit leery.  That feeling lasted less than a chapter because new author Lori Benton is amazing!  This book had beauty, romance, and adventure!  It even had a mystery that I never saw coming.

Benton does a wonderful job painting beautiful word pictures that make you feel like you know the setting and understand the feelings of the characters.  The book is very fast paced and I enjoyed the historical part.  The Overmountain settlers and The State of Franklin were unfamiliar to me before this reading.

If you'd like to read the blurb, you can find it here.  I absolutely recommend this book!  I also recommend you read it when you have a little time - I read it through in one setting because I couldn't put it down!

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What I Learned In May

1.  I really can run in to a cousin just about anywhere!  

My sis-in-law jokes around with me about being related to so many people where we live and not really knowing them.  Last Friday night Hubby and I went to a dinner/auction for the University where he works.  The dinner music was a wonderful western group and as we were listening I kept saying to Hubby, that's Bob.  We went back and forth: it is/no it's not and when the song ended Hubby said, "Are you Bob?".  The singer responded, "Hey, we went to the same family reunion" and then yelled across a couple of tables, "Hey, Vicki - your cousin is over here!"  After the auction the band played by the pool and Vicki and I visited.  It was a lovely evening and enjoyable people all at an amazing historical ranch.  Of course I texted all this to sis-in-law (PGG) who responded LOL.

You can see the "ranch house" in the background and the amazing trees in the circle drive.

2.  All those snow days I loved so much this winter didn't seem all that wonderful when I had to go to school after Memorial Day.  

Honestly, we had to give so many tests that once they were all over, I've been coasting.  Well, not coasting so much, but letting 1st grade be focused more on fun than standards.  It's officially end of school - I made our traditional enchiladas that commemorate the occasion. (L found a recipe in a Hank Zipzer book in 4th or 5th grade).

3.  I learned that we weren't the only ones to move home to help with ill/aging family.

Our new principal that was just perfect for our school and we all liked so much is moving.  Both she and her husband have family members that need help.  We all understand, but are apprehensive about what the next year holds.  I've learned so much this year about data and it's been so nice to have such a positive cheerleader.

4.  I should really take care of myself when I know I'm sick.

One Wednesday in mid-may when I went to work I didn't feel well and by noon I was home sleeping the rest of the day.  I went to school Thursday in pain and to the doctor right after school.  Thankfully, I was able to find a sub for Friday (they aren't easy to find on Fridays near the end of school) and thanks to antibiotics was feeling much better by Saturday.  I should have gone to the doctor a whole day and half earlier instead of pretending I wasn't sick.

5.  Teaching someone to drive isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Maybe it's because I didn't do a whole lot of teaching.  I let M. drive in our neighborhood to home.  I wasn't nervous or frantic or anything like that.

I linked this post up at Chatting At The Sky.  Check it out if you'd like!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Summer Bucket List 2014

Last year, I made a summer bucket list and wanted to do the same this year.  Last year was one of the best summers in a long time (not necessarily because of the list).  We had much cooler than normal temperatures (a welcome relief!) and I felt like I had a lot of time at home just "being".

This summer we have lots of away time scheduled and I have some work scheduled, but I'm looking forward to another great time of break from our normal routine.  M. is going to be going on a within the States mission trip and L. will start football conditioning and has already been finding mowing jobs.  Hubby will transition to a new position at work (one he is really looking forward to).  I'm so proud of his success and how much his current position has grown in the almost five years he's been at it.

So here's the list - it's a bit shorter than last.  I didn't include vacation things on it, but I'm looking forward to our plans for that!

1.  Read Captivating and use the journal
2.  Complete some extra work
3.  Take a tour of the new apartments in town (just because M wants to see them)
4.  Visit our town's museum
5.  Run again
6.  Pick blueberries
7.  Go to the Parade of Homes
8.  Clean out the game closet
9.  Read 10 books
10.  Make carpet squares for the Magic Triad (school)
11.  Eat at the cafe in the church down the road
12.  Drive more with M.
13.  Go back to WW
14.  Make contacts for fall college Homecoming
15.  Give J. the dog more attention

Mother's Day

Friday, May 2, 2014

School Projects

L recently had to take eggs with the yolk blown out for a project in Spanish class.  It's a miracle these things ever got done!  I kept getting emails about them and the whole time, I kept thinking it was an extra credit project.  Finally, the Friday before they were due, I got an email reminder with a clarification: this isn't extra credit.....

L and Hubby were camping for the weekend so Sunday afternoon (best time to complete school projects isn't it?) the three of us worked on the eggs.  He turned them in plus a few extras and then on Wednesday, I realize that Friday (Good Friday - a day L was planning on missing at school so he could go to his brother's Good Friday service at school and spend time with visiting family) is when L's class was painting and completing their cascarones.  I emailed L's Spanish teacher and she's such a superstar!  She arranged for him to come to her class from another one on Thursday so he could complete the project.

And he left them at school!  I thought his baby cousin would have enjoyed seeing them crack and the confetti come out.  Silly me, I just now realized you're supposed to crack them "over" and not "on" someone's head!  Anyway, the cascarones finally made it home and I think he did an excellent job.

Yesterday, L. served with a group from National Junior Honor Society at a soup kitchen in the city.

The project today was actually just a paper - and it finally made it to school too.  L. did what he was supposed to and emailed me his essay so I could print it.  I kinda forgot.  So....I emailed it to his teacher this morning. Then I got a call from Hubby who said I needed to print it, the teacher wouldn't take it via email (I'm so thankful M's school takes electronic submission.  I'm thankful for his school for testing reasons too, but that's a rant and I won't go there.)

Hubby then got a frantic call from me because the printer wouldn't work!  I absolutely had to leave so he came home to take care of it. (It gets crazier.)  I forgot something so he met me where I dropped off M. for tennis, but when I grabbed the bag he had brought me, I also grabbed L's paper that Hubby was on the way to school to take!

I realized it and honked and honked.  Hubby stopped and got the paper and headed off to L's school to save the day.  He's our hero!

Did I mention that M. has three weeks of school left and L. and I have four?  We. Are. Ready.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

After a Long Winter

I absolutely love to blog.  It's my outlet. My family record.  I have been absent too long and as near as I can tell the reason is two-fold: winter blahs and feeling that teenagers don't want their information shared for the world.  Actually, now that M. and L. are in the Instagram world, they are more okay with me sharing pictures and things about them.

All April birthdays are behind us.  The first weekend of the month we celebrated M. with several friends at our house.  The following weekend was me with Aunt and M. and then the whole family at Genghis Grill (Hubby and L. were away repelling and getting poison ivy.).  Finally, last weekend our Texas family came for L's birthday (party with friends at our house) and Easter.

Easter Egg Drop at the park next to our house
It was so fun to have a little one in the house again for a holiday!
Two peas in a pod
Thankful to have Aunt so close
Family picture after church

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fun in San Antonio

My family traveled infrequently when I was a little girl.  Perhaps that is why I enjoy it so much now.  Hubby and the boys had been to Sea World twice, but this year we decided that would be our Christmas destination and Aunt's Christmas present.

I must say, even getting to and into Sea World is much less stressful with teens than when they are three and five.  However, it's also not quite as magical. (Don't get me wrong, I still like traveling to the same spot - we've been to the Outer Banks three times now.)  The boys weren't as cooperative to pose for pictures and there wasn't anything they were seeing for the first time.  Mom to the rescue!

We had rushed to the aquarium part so we could see the sharks before that part of the park closed.  The manna rays were near the beginning and I made a silly face and told M. that it was my impersonation of the ray.  He snapped a picture with his phone.  Ah ha!  A connection point.  As we went through he got me on camera doing a piranha, fish, and shark.  I'm not sure where L. was when we were doing all this.  He was probably hiding, hoping no one would notice that I was his Mom.

Later M. begged to post a picture.  I don't think so!!! After much pleading, I finally agreed to the piranha. What do you think?