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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December in Pictures

The boys got in on this batch of holly wreath cookies.

Hubby and I tried a batch earlier in the month, but I did have any red hot candies.

Dinner, yes.  But, do you see the salt n pepper shakers?  Hubby got them as a white elephant gift.  They aren't so to me - I love them!

Just a dusting.  December 17.  Later in the night when it was so bitterly cold, we got a visit from a dog from the neighborhood north of us.  I dried him off and petted him by the fire while we waited on his owner.

School is out for two weeks!!

My sister treated us to drinks and treats for my Aunt's birthday.

Life with Lucy and Cyrus.  He was pretty serious about his new bone.

A new spot for the tree.  We considered a taller tree for the living room to go with the high ceilings.  I just can't bear the thought of using a different tree.  We've had this since the year before M was born.

Waiting to leave IHOP.  I was sad that it wasn't decorated for Christmas this year.

Aunt and the boys in front of a random house.  At 10:30 on Christmas Eve the temperature was still in the 50s!

Selfie in front of the same house.

It was tricky to find a service on Christmas Eve that worked with M's work schedule.

We got EVERYONE in this Christmas Eve picture.

Hubby has almost perfected his cinnamon roll recipe.  My Dad used to make them Christmas morning.  He perfected his in the Air Force.  Hubby has been working on his at Church Camp!

She was snoring about 15 minutes into opening presents!!

Quick visit from Hubby's Mom.  This was just to see the plane - maybe a flight another time!
2017 is the year for me to fly again!?!

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Great Reminder or "Read This If You're Missing Someone"

This year felt Christmasy as soon as Thanksgiving was over.  Hubby put lights out front, we've been on track with baking, shopping, parties and such.

However, about a week ago, I told Hubby that the one thing I wanted for Christmas I couldn't have - I wanted a visit from Mom and Dad for Christmas.  My best remembered Christmases as an adult were the ones Mom and Dad (and then Dad after Mom was gone) came to visit.

I've dwelt on that this week even to the point of being quite a Grinch to my family.

So, yesterday I visited them. My sister and I took silk poinsettias to the cemetery for the vases on Mom and Dad's headstone.  We didn't linger there.  I've never felt it necessary since they aren't there.  I know others spend time at the graves of loved ones and that's fine.  Everyone grieves differently.

As I was posting our Christmas letter, I was rereading December blog posts of mine and I came across the one I wrote the Christmas after Dad died. It's called "A Different Christmas" (click link to read) and in it I wrote "Emmanuel, God is with me."  Boy am I thankful I wrote that because it's a good reminder to me today!  The post also has a link to something Emily Freeman wrote "For when everything is different".  Grief is always hard, but especially hard at holidays so I hope both these posts will be helpful to someone.

So, my parents won't be visiting this Christmas.  But, on the first Christmas, Jesus did more than visit. He came to be with us and He's never left!  Yet, at the same time, he left to prepare a place.  A place where because of the plan He set in motion several thousand years ago - Mom and Dad (and other loved ones) will be able to spend Christmas together again.

Merry Christmas 2016!

As I stop to ponder what to write for a Christmas letter, what comes to mind first is God's faithfulness.  Through every high and every low of the year, God is God.

2016 was a very full year - In February we got serious about finding a new home and put ours on the market.  It sold over Spring Break, we found just what we were looking for, and moved in mid-May.  We love our new home so much that it took no transition/adjustment time to be here!  We have great neighbors, know people from church and even have a friend from Scouts around the corner.  The boys' rooms are a bit smaller than before and I jokingly told them we were buying the house for the dogs (they have an amazing back yard!) since the boys will be gone soon!

So, Micah is in his Senior year.  This past summer he spent two weeks in Africa where he preached at a VBS, worked really hard painting and building a fence for a Christian school and assisted with wound care in villages.  He moved from working at Baskin Robbins to Chic-fil-a and continues volunteering at church all while starting college classes.  He has completed 17 hours.  Graduation Day is May 18 and Micah has officially enrolled at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  He'll live on campus.

Levi is a sophomore at Rejoice.  He is amazingly disciplined and competed in a teen Body Building physique show at the beginning of August.  The meal prep stuck and he completely cooks for himself (and sometimes for us!) now.  Levi will be 16 next April so he has begun "parent taught" driver's ed.

Devon has been at Oklahoma Wesleyan for over seven years and I started year 6 for Owasso Public Schools this fall.  One thing we love to do together is travel. A couple of highlights were Buffalo/Niagara and Lavallette, New Jersey (the beach).  Another highlight for me was seeing The Oak Ridge Boys at the fair (I grew up loving them thanks to Mom!). Devon took an (almost) annual Colorado hiking trip with friends during Labor Day and ran three marathons in six weeks this fall (he got a personal record in one of them!).  I know this is much tamer, but sometimes I play Bunco (especially Bunco for Babies, the fundraiser for the Pregnancy Resource Center in Owasso) and go to Book Club.  In the spring I teach at Writer's Workshop or Literacy Fairs for OETA.

I usually end Christmas letters with a Scripture that has been meaningful for the year - this one is definitely it: Isaiah 58:10-11, If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. ESV

I have taken it to heart as I teach.  It seems that each year I have more and more children with greater and more varied needs. I continue to trust God's faithfulness in helping me here (and in all areas of my life and family) and trust He will meet you wherever you are prove faithful to you too.

Keep scrolling for pictures!
Merry Christmas!
Devon, Annette, Micah and Levi

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On The Home Front - September 2, 2016

Outside my window… pine trees and a lamp light.  Outside my window is different than any previous daybook.

I am thankful for… insurance and time off – the means and availability to have M’s wisdom teeth out.

I am wearing… really scroungy clothes

Some plans for the rest of the week… It’s Labor Day weekend – take care of M, clean up the house/take recycling to the recycling plant, help L mow.  No plans that I know of for the upcoming week.  Well, besides a thousand meetings at school!

I am hoping … to get adjusted to this new school year quickly.

On my mind… Hubby being in Colorado.

Hearing…. I hear the fan in the family room because M is both hot and cold.  I can hear the dogs barking outside.  Maybe Lucy has treed a squirrel.  At least out here, barking dogs don’t seem to be as much of a nuisance than in neighborhoods with less land.

I am praying for… wisdom.

From the kitchen….. meatloaf muffins, green beans, potatoes and salad.  I need to write a grocery list and plan for next week.

Around the house… a few things from our move that I need to 1) find a place for, 2) put in the attic or 3) just throw away! 

One of my favorite things…. Reading.  Reading whatever I want – Scripture, facebook, blogs, news, getting a new book.  One of my favorite things is also time – time to read, ponder, clean up a few things, rest, whatever.

From my picture journal… 

Hmmm - it's December and I wrote this at the beginning of September, but never posted because I didn't have a picture to include....