Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I knew several weeks ago and I feel the Lord affirming it each day- my new years resolution is to say no to half the opportunities that come my way and half of the ideas that I have, (there are many!) And to prioritize- my kids are growing up- I don't have a second chance to teach them certain things...I need to focus on what's lasting, what's best. God's always been good to lead and I feel this is very important. So here's a pic from my old!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

travel bags are put away (for now anyway)

Well this is my old worn out luggage loading up for our Christmas travels...

trip #1 We started on Monday of this week going to Tulsa for time with my family. It ended up me, my family and my brother's kids with my parents. not a bad combination, we enjoyed the time and always love going " home" for Christmas. Tulsa is not my home, my parents are...I love them dearly.

trip #2 after a get together with Cody's mom's side of the family on Wed. night we set out ahead of a blizzard to get to destination #2 Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine, TX. Cody's parents Christmas present to us. I discovered a new way to cart stuff around in a blizzard- tubs. We took the 4 wheel drive truck south. We beat the storm, they met it head on. It took them and the other set of grand kids 8 hours to make the 3 hour trip. Cody's sister and her husband got snowed in and couldn't come until mid afternoon Christmas day. We carried on and Golden Corral for lunch wasn't so bad. The Gaylord Texan was amazing that afternoon and of course Great Wolf delivered plenty of entertainment. We came home today on mostly dry roads.

We opened our gifts with the kids tonight and as I write I am listening to a new Lego set being put together (Cody and Silas), Cady on her new DS and the quiet hum of last year's present- the washer/dryer set. My heart is content with the love of our family but I somehow feel we haven't given our Lord primary focus this week and with the cancellation of church tomorrow I hope we can change that. We celebrate that more of Cody's mom's side of the family have accepted Christ's salvation and are growing in Christ, that his cousin is expecting a "Moore" son in April and that those we love are close. We grieve with my sister in law who lost her daddy Christmas Eve and many who've had problems due to the weather. But as I set my kids by that huge snow drift just north of our home I am reminded that we don't have to pay big bucks for "an experience" like we saw at the resorts in TX- there are amazing things all around us, God is the author of creativity-

So I am putting the travel tote's up. There are plans on calendar for reuse but not soon. I will rest in my nest awhile. "A man may plot his course but God determines his steps" , I'll be looking for you,God, every step.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Christmas Letter- a year in review

Dear friends and family

We started off with a huge house remodel project. Demolition started a couple of weeks into the New Year. We designed a new kitchen and replaced flooring throughout the entire house. Our church graciously provided this for us. Our home is always a revolving door anyway with my music students but it was even more so with constant workers in and out. The dust and constant disarray were rough, especially with a new walker on the loose. We managed and by the end of March we had our home in order again. It’s beautiful and I can now talk at length about hard wood floors, countertops, wood stain and appliances.

We left the mess behind for a week in Feb. and took the kids out of school to do a little ministry. We traveled to Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix meeting with church planters in 3 different new churches. The kids had a lot of homework to do but we saw most great sites from here to there (Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, LegoLand, La Jolla beach and the seals)

In March Cody, Silas and I headed west again on a church ski trip. Silas is getting much more comfortable on the snowboard. My mom stayed with Cady and Charis.

In April Cody and a fellow pastor friend headed north to Chicago for a conference. I finished a 10 week session on a new project- a secondary homeschool choir. We ended the time with a concert featuring “spirituals”. I quite enjoyed the time and hope to do it again. The students I worked with were a lot of fun.

On April 9th just after Easter our town was evacuated due to a large uncontrolled grass fire. We’ve been through this before but never had it hit the town. Cody has served as a vol. Fireman. These were much worse than the 2006 fires, we had 20 families displaced and set up aid immediately. The closest home burned was about 3 blocks from us. We did relief work all summer long on Sunday afternoons. Three families from our own congregation lost homes. One couple in their 80s lost a lifetime of irreplaceable treasures. They moved in next door to us, we hope to be a blessing to them in the aftermath.

We did not travel for a full year after Charis was born but made up for it this year. We all went to Louisville, KY for the SBConvention in June. We also did Falls Creek youth camps. I had a popular blog this summer entitled “the 90 days of summer”. We found picture worthy things each day and posted for our facebook friends. It was a great project. Practice for the book I hope to write one day!

July was Bible School (I just helped) and a preteen leadership camp I put on (another new project). I continued to teach one day a week in the summer, gaining a few new students. At the end of July the kids and I joined a friend and her kids for a week in Branson at a lovely resort. We had a blast enjoying all Branson has to offer, (my third trip there and yet to see a show!) We started letterboxing again. Where you get clues off the Internet and find boxes with stamps in them hidden all over the world.

August Cody and I celebrated 13 years of marriage in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in a tree house. A wonderful 3 days while the kids hung out in Tulsa with my parents. I applied for an elementary teaching job in Duncan but God had other plans for this school year. I now have over 20 piano, voice and guitar students and teach 2 days a week in Duncan (20 min. away). I also started yet another new project- children’s theatre in the fall. Used our church as a starting place. We just finished the program this past weekend and it was a huge success. 9 scenes, 7 main actors, 10 or more minor speaking, 10 songs, 51 kids total ages 5 mo to 13! It was a privilege working with that group of kids, there is a lot of talent here that is undeveloped.

The traveling reached it’s zenith for myself when I went exactly half way around the world to Nepal with a team of 5 others and my dad. It was an experience beyond my wildest imagination. From the gorgeous backdrop of the Himalayan mts (including mt. Everest) to meeting the sweetest believers and traveling 50 hours by plane- it was something I will do again. The time with my father was priceless, brings me to tears even now. I reported my experiences in yet another “blog” on facebook. The response was overwhelming.

We’ve also endured chicken pox (Charis), a tanning bed burn (Lori) and a severe case of poison ivy (Cody). & traveled multiple times to Ft. Worth to my brother’ s new home, we’ll end the year traveling (seems appropriate) first to Tulsa then to a surprise destination with Cody’s family for 2 nights. I was also in a wedding in Oct. and led 2 Bible Studies this year- one on Esther, one on the book of Daniel.

The kids are growing fast, Silas and Cady both have been involved in Karate, 4H and mission clubs (GA’s/RA’s) this year and will start basketball in Jan. They are now both reading well and we enjoy learning about all kinds of things. They are in 2nd and 3rd grade. Charis keeps us entertained and has a special relationship to us all, esp. daddy since they spend a lot of time together when I teach. She is very smart and we are trying to potty train.

Our biggest and best news of all is that Silas has decided to receive salvation and is awaiting baptism. He did this on Aug 16th, the same night my life long friend Becky Graves had her precious baby Levi. They share a birthday! One spiritual, one physical. We know God is working in Cady’s life and hope she’ll join Silas one day soon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recital Season

Tis the Season for music- Christmas music that is. I have been carrying this gift tote bag around for 2 months, finally after this week I can put it away. Cady went with me to our recital on Saturday. She and Silas have been doing this for a few years now (going to my recitals) . I keep hoping they'll get inspired and want to put more into thier own playing. I have yet to push music on them. We'll see... anyway I put her in charge of the camera- the video she got of her cousin is hilarious- we'll enjoy it emensely in 10 years!

So the tote bag- I am giving them the gift of music I have told them. I need a change every now and then. In fact this is the first year I have thought, " I am sick of this version of Jingle BElls!" It's true I've taught nearly every student I've had the same version for 15 years. Enough is enough.

I am looking forward to a week of games and playing for fun having finished their Christmas recital saturday.

Inside the tote is a new book for the intermediate student that I've loved, a Jingle Bell Boogie and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Also I feel in love this year with Chris Tomlin's Winter Snow from his new Christmas CD. We ended the recital with that one.

I love teaching and music gives me lots of creative outlets- I am holding my new guitar here too. It's sweet- I am glad I have performed more this year on it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday Bag

Well who doesn't love a bargain? And black friday shopping is, as my dear brother Chris says, "the super bowl" of bargain shopping.

So I combed the internet and studied the ads and plotted my course. Part of the fun of black friday shopping is doing it with a friend. Not only do you snag items for each other (improving odds of getting what you want) but one stands in line while the other shops. You know that's a biblical principle- Ecc. 4:9 says 2 are better than 1 for they have a good reward for there toil. And best of all you have someone to talk to while you wait, which inevitably you do.

My husband and I have gone before, last year we stood in the cold for over an hour to get a new front loader washer/dryer set for $500! It was worth it. This year I had 2 quarters in the shopping super bowl. One at midnight and the other at 4. At the midnight run the line was 5 blocks long at Toys R us and the traffic horrible so we went home after an hour. Distressed I called my bestie in CA who is the guru of black friday shopping bargains. I asked if you could get the same deal online and so as we went back to my brother's home she ordered it for me online-

My sister in law never woke up at 4- so I went on a solo mission within minutes of their home. I hit walmart, target, staples, kohls and home depot. It was a blessed time, I even shared some good conversation with others. Cody's sister helped me when I couldn't find a gamestop store in Ft. Worth by buying what I needed in Duncan.

So the totes above (both new) - my bag from Nepal that I've been carring around these days and the little red thing is a fold up reusable bag I got black friday morning at target. They actually had run out (I asked) and I found it on the ground as I people watched. There was nothing I needed in that store worth waiting hours in a checkout line. The tote found me :)

So begins the Christmas holidays... I still prefer Thanksgiving. Did you know the early settlers didn't celebrate Christmas? they thought it had gotten too pagan....

I did get out the Christmas Boxes- several years back I bought 4 large golden tubs after christmas and vowed I would only have that much Christmas stuff ever, it all had to fit into those boxes each year. Sometimes it's hard but I try and I have to pack smart. The whole tree fits in there too! 4 Christmas boxes are apart of my "rules". I have certain codes I live by. For instance- birthday cakes are always homemade. Today I told silas to stop putting more than more ornament on a branch, he said, "Is that a rule? " Yes it is. I love family traditions but I am not a legalist. There is much grace in my house probably because God's given me so much of it.

Our tree this year is neat, until last year I did theme trees-music for years, then a natural tree with hunting stuff and feathers. I had a small tree for all the kids ornaments and last year we combined and the thing is like a historic monument revealing all kind of windows into our lives.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Me and the Purple High Sierra backpack

I had mentioned in the last post about my incredible backpack that had lasted a long time and been everywhere with me... here are the long awaited pictures of the tote above all totes....

the one above is my favorite picture, our first hike up to the church

My promised and unforgetable motorbike ride in Nepal

getting the directions from new friend and fellow American to all important shopping destinations

arriving in Nepal that bag is right in front of me on the left there....exciting times- thanks for reading...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Old Purple

Well I have been home over a week now and I am still putting it all together (my life, my experiences, all this new world I've been exposed to)

I am patiently waiting for more photos to share (my friend, the photographer took most of the pictures) . But I did have access to this one and wanted to share it.

This is Anand Bhaka, he's pastor Bishwa's 11 year old son. He's a typical boy and I enjoyed meeting him very much. I hope to take my son to Nepal one day so they can meet. He spoke English well. Here we are up on top of a building overlooking the rented church building for Inspiration Fellowship. I am always sneaking around and he led me here. I just love kids. That was what I found very interesting is that kids are kids in any culture. The Nepalese children were well behaved and sat on the floor in front of me for hours- praising, singing, praying, dancing, bowing on their knees and even flicking paper and getting into things. One little boy inverted his eye lids and turned around to the other kids to show them, I couldn't help but laugh. Kids are kids in any culture.

But since I am the tote girl I have to comment on the tote that carried my money (rupees ), my journal (I wrote a lot about everything I saw, ate, smelled and did), my encouragement notes, my precious Bible and blessed passport around. This is old purple, my backpack from high school and carring it on any trip is more tradition than anything. It's beginning to look a little worn out and dated. There are much better looking backpacks out there but none with the character old purple possesses and faithfulness- never has it let me down. It's gone all over the U.S. on every airplane ride and road trip, every single one. It's gone with me to Mexico, Canada, Jamaica and now Belguim, India and Nepal. I am forever grateful for it, it's been comforting and utilitarian. It is the tote above all totes in my house.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A new bag from the bride...

This is my dear friend Casey Smith, now Schneider. Isn't she beautiful in her mother's revamped dress? I was so honored to be in her wedding Oct. 17th 2009. We are very much alike and I am sad she's moved to TX but I know we'll stay close. I was so excited when she gave me this bag with my name on it!!! I have great uses for it and I love the colors.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lessons from the Remodel

Okay so here is the tote in which I carry all the info- measurements, prices, pictures, samples, contractors- it's all in here. I had no idea about remodeling before this undertaking. It has been crazy fun. I will not miss this tote when this is done- it's been a lot of work.

I am blessed to find God in every possible situation I find my self in and low and behold he shows up on my kitchen floor. Well I had to dig deeper, the lesson was way at the bottom layer.

You see the home we live belongs to the church Cody pastors. And they have been so gracious to allow me to remodel. ( I already have an idea to send this to the Baptist Messenger because this has got to be a big deal)

Well for some reason we never really hired a floor person so that kinda fell into our lap so once the cabinets were removed we went to removing the old linoleum ( I thinK I may be finally spelling that right, you shouldn't have some thing on your floor you can't spell). We'll wouldn't you know someone was lazy and decided to just go over an exisiting layer of linoleum instead of taking the time to remove it. So the first layer came off well, then we began the 3 step process of removing the bottom layer because in order to tile (like every should do) we have to have even concrete. So we began. We rented machines, one got the vinyl off but not the paper and glue. the next one didn't do a thing ( a waste of 60$ ) then we were left with a razor blade to scrap inch by inch off (easily 150 sq ft) We clear maybe 6 an hour and Cody can only do it for an hour at a time because it's so hard and only about 3-4 times a day. Anyway it's laborious....

so what does this have to do with God?

Here's the deal in life, there are a lot of times when we just want to make things look pretty and we don't take the time to remove something or deal with an issue. So we just cover it all up. We don't want to deal with our sin, our pride, or our past and we just go on pretending it's not there. But down below the surface of cheap linoleum is stuff that just needs healing, needs be given to God, needs to be talked out with a trusted friend. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there and someday it'll need to be dealt with.

So here's my experience - deal with it when it comes up. Deal with your past, your issue or your sin. Confess it, Discuss it, Give it to God and leave it for the garbage man to pick up. Start with a clean slate because when we let our feelings or dreams or sin get covered up it's a pain to deal with later. I wish someone would've taken the time to rip up a little linoleum 20 years ago- I wouldn't have had to chisel away at it now.

Don't be lazy in your spiritual walk with Christ, keep a clean foundation with friends and family.

You know another take on the whole idea is- sometimes in our lives there are things that need to be changed and we may deal with it some but we get lazy and say" forget it, who does it really hurt?"

Read Isaiah 39 where king Hezekiah is reprimanded because he did something he shouldn't have done- because of his sin his grandchildren where going to be taken captive and he just put on the new layer of linoleum saying well at least I won't have to deal with it.

Sometimes we believe lies, we make up our own doctrines or make God in our images instead of taking seek truth. The way is narrow, few find it, but I have and it has made all the difference. Me and Robert Frost. :)

Don't take the easy way out. God will honor what you do for his glory and for his name. So that we may shine like stars in the universe- a reflection of him.