Friday, April 22, 2016


Today is my mom's birthday!  I want to tell you what I love about my mom and have learned from her...

  • My mom has always been a pursuer of spiritual things.  
  • She's made sure her kids had those same opportunities to grow spiritually.  We were involved in Good News Clubs, CEF camps, and CEF training, Bible Memory Association and BMA camps, church, and mission projects--all our lives.
  • Mom has always been hospitable.  Our home was always open.  She made it seem like a game to clean house in order to have friends over for dinner.  She made us eager to invite friends over.  She's hosted "42 parties" for their friends as long as I can remember.
  • Mom was willing to go anywhere or do anything for a vacation.  That might mean camping in a tent in the mountains or at the lake and cooking over a campfire.  She would pack everything we'd need to travel across the country for one-to-two weeks with 4 kids.  We traveled all over the United States as a family. 
  • Mom taught us to care for others.  We took care of my younger cousins who were being raised in a single household, we invited an orphan to our home for the Christmas holidays, we ministered to other races in a time when that wasn't the norm.
  • I always knew my mom wouldn't care if I  offered our home for any gathering with my friends.
  • Mom was a seamstress and would sew anything I wanted.  I had many matching outfits with my friends--back when it was cool.  She'd sew choir dresses, dresses for bridesmaids, flower girls, etc.
  • Mom wasn't afraid of work.  She was a stay-at-home mom most of my life, but began working outside the home when I got older to help with family expenses.  She's a hard worker and taught us that same work ethic.
  • Mom would work hard to prepare for Sunday.  She'd make bread and pies on Saturday so they'd be ready for Sunday.  Our hair was washed and curled on Saturday, shoes shined, dresses and shirts and pants ironed.  Saturday was a day of preparation for church.  We even put our offering in our offering envelopes on Saturday so they'd be ready for Sunday School.
  • Mom is a wonderful grandmother and great-grandmother.  She would come and get my kids to give me a break many times.  She always made sure she had cookies in the cookie jar for them!   Even 4 years ago, she went with me to help her granddaughter move.  She's also babysat her great-grandchildren.
I'm grateful for who my mom is, for what she's taught me, for who she continues to be.  I love that she has so many interests and has such a full life...and that she's still always up for an adventure!

I love you,

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mark 10:27

I read Mark 10 this week and was struck by verse 27.  Of course, we know that all things are possible with God...but do we KNOW?  I was recently challenged to ask God for the impossible.  And something immediately came to my mind.  And I saw four hurdles preventing it from happening.  But as I asked Jesus what His thought was about those hurdles, I saw myself soaring over them--not just soaring over them--but over mountains which rose high above those hurdles!

So I did a word study on this verse in the Greek.

Impossible:  adynatos--which means without strength, impotent, powerless, weak, disabled, unable to be done, impossible.
All Things:  pas--which means each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything.
Possible:  dynatos--which means able, powerful, mighty, strong, mighty in wealth and influence, strong in soul, to bear calamities and trials with fortitude and patience, strong in Christian virtue, to be able (to do something), mighty, excelling in something, having power for something.

So I rewrote the verse adding some of these meanings--and my faith grew!

"With men, life is powerless, impotent, without strength, weak, and disabled--but not with God!  For with God, He is able to change each and every single thing--down to the last detail--all the way to the whole big picture with His power and might.  He is wealthy (He owns everything) and has the might and  influence to change EVERYTHING!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Let me lick your face!

Yesterday, Shanna stopped by with the kids on their way to visit with her sisters.  It was a nice surprise!  She'd promised the boys she'd get them a Lunchables which they could eat at my house for lunch.  So while she was gone to the store, Dax was finally waking up and was being ornery with his little sister.  He would go over to hug her and then...lick her!  Typical big brother stuff.  Of course, little sis would squeal and try to get away from him and he'd do it again.  So as he walked by me, I grabbed him and hugged him and as he was wriggling to get away-- I licked him!  I was laughing and he immediately got mad!!  And there was nothing I could do to make him un-mad.  Ha!  I love those kids--even when they're mad.

I was laughing to myself this morning as I found this out-of-focus photo on my phone.  I thought I was capturing a sweet moment between brother and sister...but caught this instead.  Dax's tongue going in for the big-brother-irritation.

But then I thought about how I get irritated with others over the things they do.  That is, until God points out the very same things are true in my own life.  It's a principle, you know.  Proverbs 27:19 says it this way, "As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man." When we get irritated by the things others do, we only have to look in the mirror to understand why.  It's true in our own lives.  It's also true when we're resisting someone.  We resist those things in others that we don't like in ourselves, or our flesh.

So next time someone licks you in the face and you get'll know why!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sandra!

I was the only girl sandwiched in-between two brothers.  Add to that, my parents' best friends only had boys.  I desperately wanted a sister.  So when I was 7-years-old, I began praying for a sister.  And got one when I was 8!  (My mom was a little surprised.)  I wish I had pictures of my best friend and me pushing Sandra up and down the street in a baby carriage.  It seemed like we'd do that for hours but it was probably only until she started crying.  If Gary thought he was "mothered to death,"  Sandra probably felt "s'mothered" by me.  She was adorable and our entire family doted on her.  We'd laugh at the cute things she'd do and her little attitude she developed.  One of the funniest stories is we tried to call her "Sandy."  But she'd stomp her little foot and say, "I'm SANDRA, not Sandy!"  She stayed Sandra.  We were all very protective of her.  I remember one time she was climbing on the kitchen cabinets and fell.  I began screaming, "SHE HAD A SUCKER IN HER MOUTH!!"  I think she was actually knocked out for a few minutes and Mom and Dad were desperately digging for the sucker to no avail.  She "came to" wailing...because she'd dropped her sucker.  Sandra had an Easy Bake Oven when she was about 6-years-old.  Mom would take cake mixes and make them into Easy Bake Oven portions.  She'd make cakes for hours.  And Bob & Gary, our brothers, would run through the house grabbing cakes and eating them in one bite as fast as she could make them.  Sandra was 11-years-old when I left home for college and 12 when I married.

Sandra is a beautiful mother to 5 great kids!  Five kids who adore her.  Five kids whose greatnesses are a reflection of her own.

She's grown in beauty.  And she has developed the gentle and quiet spirit I've longed to have.  She's everything I wish I could be.  My brother, Bob, said, "Sandra is one of the mildest and sweetest people I know!"  So true.

Sandra's been through some difficult circumstances in the past couple of years.  But it's hard to tell.  She remains steady and completely dependent on God.  I love to hang out with her!  We can laugh our heads off, share what we're learning about God, and point each other to truth.

This past year, we've walked through some experiences together which have empowered us.  Sandra has always been great...but she has found her voice and is becoming even more great, if that is possible.  Every time I'm with her, I see new growth.  She is fearless.

I'm so glad God heard my 7-year-old cry for a sister!  He exceeded my expectations!  

I love you now more than ever.
And that's a lot.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Josiah David

Josiah David turns 11-years-old today!  He's been so much fun ever since the day he was born.  He's the 2nd child in his family and has a big brother and 2 little sisters.  He learned early on how to push his older brother's buttons and then would just quietly step back and wait for the drama to unfold.  It was the first time I'd ever seen someone so young have a sense of humor!!  I honestly saw his sense of humor by the time he was 1-year-old.  And he's kept us laughing ever since.

As a little guy, there were very few photos where he didn't have a scrape of some kind--he's quite the adventurer!

He loves his big brother.  They're about to move into a house where they can have their own bedrooms.  I'm not sure how that's going to go for Josiah.  

He has the best laugh... 

...and he'll do anything to make others laugh!

When Amy began homeschooling Isaac, Josiah & Olivia developed a fun relationship.  They kept each other well-entertained.

When they brought Hadassah home from Ethiopia, Josiah couldn't keep his hands off of her.  He was so interested in everything she did.  He became very protective of her.  He's a great big brother.

This was at Halloween this past year.  This guy is meant to bring fun, laughter, and joy into the world.  (Which is probably why he has such great dimples!)

Josiah is a gifted and talented pianist.  It comes quite naturally to him.  I can't wait to see how God is going to use him because he could choose so many different avenues for his adventurous life.

I love you bunches & bunches!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gary!

Today is my little brother's birthday!  Gary is two years younger than me.  And I've always loved him and been proud of him.  I also may have "mothered" him to death.  (For some reason, he called that being "bossy.")   Of course, as we went through our teen years, we may have had a few conflicts.  I objected to having to take him to work in my car, using my gas before he had a driver's license, so mom made him cough up gas money.  I honestly don't remember a time that he didn't have a job.  He went to work at a young age--Dad took his sons to work with him, teaching them a good work ethic.  I also tormented him when taking him to school.  My car horn had a bad habit of honking when I turned left.  So I insisted on dropping him off by his friends at junior high--at the left turn.  And I'd wave and yell "goodbye" as he got out of the car.  I like to think I helped build his character.  I also helped him write his campaign speech for class president...but I never would have run myself.  He and his friends called me the Gestapo when I was stage director for our musical (yeah...the director should have known better than to give me that much power!).  But actually...I've loved that guy all his life.  

I used to go to the church nursery and ask for my baby brother.  They never gave him to me.  It may have been because I couldn't even see over the Dutch door.

You only have to look at these photos of a young Gary to know he was destined for greatness! He always insisted on dressing this way, mom says.

Matt was Gary's first nephew.  And from the time Matt was born, Gary became very intentional about investing in each of his nieces and nephews. 

And he continues that tradition...

with ALL of my kids.

And with Sandra's kids.

His great-nieces and great-nephews love Uncle Gary!  And they can name each of his dogs.  He's made big deposits in their lives.  He reminds me so much of my dad.  He loves people and loves life and wants to enjoy it with those he loves.
And it's not just family who knows Uncle Gary.  As he began teaching at WTAMU, he was walking across campus and heard, "Uncle Gary!"  He turned and saw a good friend of one of his nieces.  

And, of course, Amy, his wife, has always encouraged Gary's relationships with his family...she's the best decision he ever made!

Gary loves woodwork, which he learned from our dad.  He made me this Little Free Library which my grandkids have loved! 

And he makes beautiful pens.  This is the fountain pen he made for me recently.  He's also gotten a nephew involved in making them.

This is "just" my little brother.  But he's a great man.  He'd be embarrassed if I told you about all of his greatnesses--like being Senior Vice President and General Counsel for El Paso Electric and named as one of their top employees.  Actually, we probably have no idea about all of his accomplishments--because he never talks about himself.   He's currently a professor of business law at West Texas A&M in Canyon.  I won't tell you all about that, but you can read about it here.  

(And that kind of reminds me of the time when I promised I wouldn't tell on him...but wrote a note to mom instead.  Only in an effort to protect him, mind you.)  
It really is amazing he likes me.

I love you...and am so very, very proud of you!
Always have been.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hadassah Melat

Hadassah Melat came to us from Ethiopia.  Many people ask if Hadassah was her Ethiopian name. was Esther's Hebrew name in the Bible.  But Melat is her Ethiopian name.  This photo was taken after her mom and dad met her.  She turned 5-years-old on Sunday!

I was blessed to babysit the three older kids while mom and dad went to bring her home.  We couldn't wait for her to get here!  And she's been encircled by love ever since.

Soon, her personality was blooming.  One thing about Hadassah (or Dassie, for short) is that she's been well-loved since birth.  Her nannies in the orphanage loved her and gave her lots of favors.

And with so much love from her family, her personality has blossomed bigger than life!  She never meets a stranger and is just as loved by everyone else.

She has a big sister who LOVES her.  They are best friends.

Bookends.  I love that they have the same heart-shaped face.

She is so sweet and goes full-out all day.  But when she crashes, she crashes.

Her mom and dad gave her a "Frozen" bicycle for her 5th birthday!

She'd never ridden a bike, but she took off like a pro!

And never looked back.

And she blew enough bubbles for the whole neighborhood to enjoy!  We can't believe our little Ethiopian princess is 5!  

I love you,