Thursday, December 13, 2007

Final Exams!







Well, my last 2 final exams were Tuesday. I think I aced all 3 classes--even Henry's class! It was only 10 credit hours, but still a lot for me to juggle while homeschooling the Fruit.



This is Thursday, and we won't be leaving for school at 1:30. Instead we will be leaving for the airport to pick up my mom. She will be staying here with the kids while Craig and I fly to North Carolina. I appreciate her so much! She has stayed close to us regardless of what our return address labels say.

I haven't felt the sense of relief yet. Maybe it will hit me this afternoon when I pass the exit for the college, or Saturday morning when I wake up in a hotel room and have no plans to go to the lab. (I spent 65 hours of my life in the lab this past 4 months.) Maybe it will all sink in when I check my online grades and see the accumulated credit hours, who knows. I do know that I appreciate free time a whole lot more now than before. I am afraid though that this 1 month break of mine is so consumed with holiday events that I won't even notice all the free time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oklahoma

Last Saturday Craig and I took the two youngest 'fruit' to Oklahoma City. (Tiffani had a solo in the adult choir and wanted to stay here with Jason and Amanda) We went to minister to a couple of dear friends, Bro. and Sis. Kevin and Desise Borders. For the past 9 years, they have been growing a solid UPC church in Norman. Here is a picture of Denise and her daughter in love, Amanda.


Denise has won the cancer battle, and we are so thrilled about it.

We first met Kevin and Denise back when we were both evangelizing and living in tin cans. (Most people refer to these as RVs.) We evangelized just 9 years, but they stayed on the field 15!! Wow, my hat is off to them.

Our weekend was short, but fun. After we arrived, the temperature dropped, and it started sleeting. How nice it was to wake up in the warm evangelist quarters, hear the sleet pounding on the outside windows, get dressed, and walk downstairs into the sanctuary. I really felt bad for all of those who had to get out in the weather.

After church, however, we did have trouble getting the frozen car door open to drive to the restaurant. The kids had fun rolling down the window and punching the ice out. We all laughed and laughed when Craig would come to an intersection and have to open the door and look out before making a turn. Who would have thought to bring an ice scrater. (We don't get much of this kind of weather anymore now that we are in Texas, and we had fun with it.) Pastor Borders had to cancel church Sunday night because more freezing rain was coming in, and so we took the opportunity to get out while we could. (I did briefly entertain the thought of spending the night hoping to get iced in. The evangelist quarters were so comfortable; not even one window in our room allowing us to sleep until...)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cooking from Scratch

Ever since we returned from Homestead with a 5-gallon bucket full of wheat berries, we have been making homemade bread. It has been great. It is so fulfilling to grind the flour, combine the yeast, knead the dough, let it rise, bake it up, and then slice into a warm loaf at the dinner table. (My husband especially likes this.) And, I feel so good about it. It is totally healthy, and (Jason, this is for you) it has SO MUCH FIBER!!

We wanted to try our hand at yogurt with the fresh milk, and we are getting quite good at it. It is really so easy! We have an abundance of yogurt, and so I decided to try yogurt cheese. It is just as easy. It has the consistency of cream cheese. I added fresh minced garlic, salt, and a bit of parsley, and it is a great spread for our rye crackers.

I've also been making these wonderful banana muffins sweetened only with bananas. They are filled with wonderful nutrients with 'extra' stuff I add like flax seed meal, and the pulp from when Jason and Amanda juiced for us. Yesterday I baked a dozen of these little guys, and this morning they were all gone!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007 at Homestead Heritage


This year on the day after Thanksgiving after we did our usual 5am shopping, we headed down to Homestead Heritage in Waco. In spite of the inclement weather, we had a wonderful 2 days.





You will notice that I am not a part of the petting animal experience. Thanks Amanda for stepping in for me.













Bethani learning to cross stitch. She is going to use her new talents for Christmas gifts.












Jeremi at the silversmith's shop making a gold spoon.

The Homestead has many resident artisans, and one of them is a skilled blacksmith. It was here that we watched him form a metal candle holder from a steel rod. With continual heating and beating and shaping and forming, something useful was created. (That sounds like something that will preach.)







Tiffani's basket




Jeremi's Watercolor Leaf









Tiffani & Abigail

They spent the night in the RV behind the Wheeler's house. Apparently the 4 girls stayed up late into the night giggling.









Jeremi & Joshua

Joshua has a lot to teach Jeremi. Just take a look at the walls of his room!









This was Bethani's first time to milk a cow. We bought a gallon of this raw milk, and will make butter and yogurt out of it. (If we can keep Craig out of the jar!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Romeo, Where Art Thou Romeo?

Yesterday was quite a fun day at my school. My assignment was to act out a college level literature drama. I chose Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Jessica, another girl in my class was my project partner. We talked about it and decided that Craig would be a much better Romeo than she when it came to the kissing part, so Craig graciously agreed to come to my college class, kiss me, declare his love for me, ask me to marry him, and then die for me. It was all very dramatic and very romantic. I guess you had to have been there...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sweet Sixteen Party





Thank you so much to everyone who came to celebrate this day with us.

The party was a huge success, almost 50 people showed up, making Tiffani feel so special.

Take a look at this brief story of her life:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Birthday Party Prep


We are right now in the throes of planning a Sweet Sixteen party for our, well, our Sweet Sixteen. My mom and grandma will be flying in today, and my dad will fly in tomorrow. On our way back from the airport tomorrow, we will join Craig at a restaurant of said Sweet Sixteen's choice, and the festivities will begin! I will certainly fill in all of the details when the dust settles.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Jersey



Craig and I spent the weekend in Mantua, New Jersey with Bro. & Sis. D'Amico and Angela. We hit it off immediately. Craig and I were able to rest Saturday morning, and God gave us a great conference Friday & Saturday night and all day Sunday. (By all day, I mean alllllll day with a church service in the middle 1 1/2 hours away in which the 5 of us in the car got to know each other really well.)

It was a great weekend and we can't wait to go again. (Hopefully next time, I won't pass out on the airplane--it wasn't pretty.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

XMTX


Extreme Mountain Top Experience

Brought to you by SALT:

My teens are involved with SALT: Student Action Leadership Team. It is a group that trains teens to minister. SALT has challeneged my kids to rise to the occasion and take ownership of their generation. It has motivated them to pray, fast, and focus on ministry.

For the past 2 months, we have been driving our kids back and forth to SALT practice in preparation for a huge production. Last week was the event. The SALT team put on an outstanding program for kids called Extreme Mountaintop Experience. Tiffani together with Tiffany were clowns trying to make it to the top of the mountain. Jeremi, playing the devil's advocate, convinced them that they needed alcohol, dirty magazines and videos in order to make it to the top. They soon realized that their load was too heavy, and they needed to get rid of the worldly 'stuff.'

I am proud of my kids. I know that God has a calling on their lives, and if they continue climbing, and never give in to satan's deception, they will make it all the way to the top.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

California


17 Years Ago


Last Week












Craig and I flew to California last weekend to help celebrate his pastor's 50th wedding and ministry anniversary. Bro. & Sis. Shoemake have been a constant part of our lives, and we love them. We had a great time getting to know them better, and except for the extremely cold temperatures (which most assuredly necessitated a shopping trip to Nordsrom Rack) it was a perfect weekend.

I flew home to Texas on Monday, while Craig drove back to Pismo Beach to his parents. He will stay there until next Monday and we will miss him.

Friday, October 5, 2007

General Conference, Tampa, Florida

This year for General Conference, my mom flew here to Dallas to stay with our kids while Craig and I flew to Tampa.
In an effort to conserve in the finanace department, we opted to stay with my cousin, Lloyd and his wife who live just one hour from the convention center. It turned out to be a wonderful bonus to our trip. Lloyd has just recently (4 years ago) prayed back through to the Holy Ghost, and married a beautiful lady. We got to know Lori and her two boys on this trip. God blessed their home with an adorable little girl, and I just ate her up! !


Lacy is definitely one of a kind. It was so much fun watching her learn the few signs that I taught her last week: milk, eggs, toast, amen!

As is my custom, I went to the minister's wives banquet with my friend Denise Borders. She has just won the breast cancer battle, and I am so proud of her.

We had our yearly lunch date with the Barnes from Fort Lauderdale. It was quite an adventure navigating through the Jamaican fare.

A few of our CLC alumni got together one night after church for pizza at the Embassy Suites, and we stayed and reconnected until 1:30! (It was a long ride home that night.)

We saw so many good friends, got a word from God...

ate some great sushi and Thai food, heard some inspiring preaching, and yet...

...by far the most incredible thing that happened at General Conference this year was the 587 that received the Holy Ghost and the 92 that were baptized in Jesus' name!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Impromptu Weekend

I'm sure my mom inherited it from my grandparents. I learned it from them. That is, spur-of-the-moment, impromptu, shoot from the hip kinds of trips. You know, the kind where you wake up and decide, "I think I need a little vacation today... where could I drive?" It is actually more fun--it feels like cheating or taking a risk, or something, only it is completely honest.

I remember one day when I woke up and told Craig, "Our 15th wedding anniversary is in 2 days, let's renew our vows with a ceremony." I called my mom, and within 5 hours, she was on an airplane with my wedding dress. (Finding a bakery that could get us a wedding cake in 24 hours was a little tough.)

Just last summer I called my mom and told her I had found a car that I wanted to buy--in Florida--and what would she think about a quick girls' trip? The next day we flew to West Palm Beach, and took 3 days to drive home.

Well, last Friday about 1:35, we had a similar kind of phone call. My mom called and asked if I wanted to go with her to a wedding of a friend of our family. You see, I was in Samantha's mom's wedding, Samantha and her brother, Jimmy, were in my wedding, and it just seemed right that I would now attend her wedding. After we talked about the details, (mainly, I can't afford a trip like this right now since General Conference is next week), (mom's reply, I'll take care of it), (argue back and forth), mom won, and after a scheduled optometrist appointment at 3:00, we were all in the car headed for the airport at 5:00.

I flew to St. Louis, and then together, mom and I drove the 6 hours to Cincinnati for the wedding. It was a beautiful drive, with some of the fall foliage making its apprearance. We drove and talked, and did all things mother/daughter.




This is Samantha and Jimmy in my wedding




This is Samantha and Jimmy now.








Mom and I woke up Sunday morning at 5:30 and drove to Indianapolis for Sunday School. After Bro. Mooney preached morning worship, we headed to the airport just in time to catch the afternoon flight back to Dallas. Craig picked me up and we were all able to make it to our church Sunday night.

It was a wonderful little trip, and I am so glad we got to do it together. I feel so blessed to be a part of a family that values time together. I only hope I can transfer that love for each other, and love of adventure to the next generation.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In Jesus Name!

There is nothing in the world more precious
than being present at a birth--except for a newbirth!

Last Sunday we saw 2 of our Deaf girls
baptized in Jesus Name.














Last night we preached in Hurst, TX, and prayed with Jennie as she received the Holy Ghost, and then baptized. God is certainly adding to the church daily such as should be saved! I feel so blessed to be a part of the Body!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Impromptu Lunch Party

While shopping at Kroger a few weeks back, I saw a Deaf couple signing to each other while shopping. After struggling within myself for a few minutes, I decied to take a bold step and introduce myself as an ITP student. I was immediaely rewarded with their obvious excitement. They introduced themselves as Chuck and Cheri Vaughan. This enthusiasm resulted in a 25-minute conversation in the milk aisle. They asked me about what church I attend, and I invited them to join us.

Cheri is very active on the computer, and we kept in contact via email. yesterday Chuck and Cheri came to church, and I did my best to interpret the Sunday School lesson for them. Amanda interpreted for Cheri personally because she has Usher Syndrome which is kind of like an extreme case of nearsigntedness with tunnel vision. While church was going on, I started to dream up some dinner plans, and before you know it, I was planning a small get-together in my mind. When church was finished, I invited Chuck and Cheri to our house for lunch. I also invited Dawn and Doyle and their children. Chandana and Rachael, two other Deaf teenagers were standing nearby, and I invited them to come also. We would certainly want some interpreters, so obviously we had to invite Amanda, Natalie, and Rochelle. Before I knew what was happening, I had invited 18 people to my house, and had absolutely no food prepared!

Amanda and Dawn joined me in a quick trip to Albersons where we started throwing things into the buggy as though we were on some TV game show. Guided by the sale paper in my hand, we raced through that store in record time! When we got home, we tossed the bags of corn on the cob in the backyard with a large bowl and a group of teens, and they took care of that messy job. I put Jason right on chicken duty, and he knew what to do with the BBQ sauce. We whipped up a humongous bowl of macaroni salad, and then had a watermelon cutting contest! (I concede, Jason won). (choleric) We dumped a few cans of baked beans in a bowl, warmed them up, and whala! Lunch was served! (Can you believe we had Sunday lunch on PAPER PLATES!!!)

I really enjoyed getting to know Chuck and Cheri better. They are absolutely the SWEETEST people!! Cheri is BRILLIANT!!! Chuck is not so good with directions (he will fit right in around here) so I gave directions to Cheri. They got to our house before we did and they even went to their home first! One of the first things Cheri asked me when she came in was "Is this a Choice Home?" She guessed right (I didn't even know until I asked Craig.) We found out that they prefer to eat organic food. Yep, Amanda, they will fit right in with this gang! (We need to work on Doyle a little bit.)

The camera was completely forgotten in all of the rush and excitement, so I don't have any photos to show, but everyone agreed that this was only the first of many more to come.

Everyone seemed to have a great time. It was a wonderful opportunity for fellowship, and I believe God was here. Thank you Lord, for allowing me to be a part of this beautiful Body of Christ!

Oh, as a bonus, it dawned on me this morning that I could use this experience as an Outside Communication Activity, one of the requirements for my class! Yes!

Friday, August 24, 2007

School Time


This marks the end of our first week back in school. It wasn't too bad. Really. I think everyone is adjusting to our routine quite well. The subjects are a little more challenging for everyone, and we will need to put some extra effort into our studies, but it is do-able.

Bethani is in 3rd grade, and it is substantially more advanced than 2nd. The papers look more like the older kids, and they are expecting a lot from her already. And she is delivering it. Our goal for her this year is beautiful handwriting.

Jeremi is in 8th grade, and it is much like 7th. He will, however, need to study more. They expect specific answers 'filled in the blank' on tests. A Beka really isn't a 'cake-walk.' Because his schedule is not too heavy this year, we are going to slip in typing and possibly shorthand. (This is something he has shown an interest in.) Apparently this lighter schedule is just a reprieve for him before he hits high school. Look out Jeremi, they don't mess around in 9th grade! Our goal for him this year is to eliminate school procrastination, finishing each day in a timely manner while being thorough.

Tiffani is a full-fledged high school student. She has a heavy DVD load with Grammar/Comp, Algebra 2, consumer math, world history, biology, and French. She started to struggle in French the first 2 days until she found a "suitable tutor." She is excelling now. Our goal for her this year is to cram as much into her little head as possible in order to excel on her SAT and be accepted at Richland Collegiate next year.

They are awesome students! Sometimes I tend to focus only on the things that they still need to master and forget to recognize the good that is already imbedded. I was just pondering this morning on how well-disciplined they really are:

  • Promptly at 8:00 EVERY morning, all three of my children are dressed and sitting in their seats in the school room--all on their own, and most of the time without me. (It is here that I confess to sometimes [okay, many times] checking my email from 8-8:30.) Now, granted, there is a small reward for them if they are on time--not one minute late. Nevertheless, they are establishing a good work ethic.

  • Each morning we gather for family prayer--sometimes with mom, sometimes with dad. Occasionally they sleep, but hey, so did Jesus' disciples! We are setting a precedent for them, (right Jeremi?)

  • We work diligently until 12:30 with an occasional 5-minute break, and then have lunch until 1:00. Any work left-over must be done after lunch. Obviously, the goal is to finish before lunch time, and most of the time they are trying.

Now, before this sounds like pie-in-the-sky, let me confess that just about every day we have an issue with someone. You see, my children are not perfect. But then again, neither is their mother. We are, however, continuing to become. God is helping us, and I believe this year we WILL see more fruit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Riding Blindly

This morning during our devotions, God spoke to me in a powerful analogy. It was so forceful!

I remembered our tandem ride last week along the coast. Because Craig is so much bigger than I am, when I sit behind him, my view is completely obstructed. I can see to my right and left, but there is always this huge wall of a back in front of me. It is higher and wider than I can see. If I were to try looking around his side, we would most certainly 'dump over.' If I were to stand up to see above him, I would have to stop pedaling, and if he didn't...well, not good. Two people on a tandem have to pedal together in order to go forward. (Now that will preach!)

It had been a while since we had ridden a tandem, and my first feeling was a bit of anxiety. That same helpless feeling came over me briefly, and then I had to remind myself of the facts. I trust that he is not going to run us into a wall. I trust that he sees other motorists and pedestrians, and will steer accordingly. I trust that he won't ride through a mud puddle. He is taking all the precautions, and, well, I trust him.

Eventually I was able to relax and enjoy the view to my right and left. It was kind of nice to realize that I was not responsible for any driving mistakes. I was not the one directing. (I did, however, have to pay attention to which way we were going soI could actually help my directionally challenged husband get back.)

I don't know what my future holds. I could worry. I could stress.

The message this morning from God: "You don't have to see what is in front of you to go forward. Relax. Let me lead. I won't steer you wrong. We will not go the wrong way. Trust me and I will take you where I want you to go." I felt comforted to realize that we are in this together, and He is not going to abandon me. After all, a tandem ride is not possible with just a passenger, and I don't feel comfortable in the driver's seat. So "Jesus, take the wheel. I will sit behind you and trust that you know where we are going. I don't have to know. You won't even get us lost!"

Thursday, August 9, 2007

17 Wonderful Years





Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.

I love you more now than ever.

I will be here.

Always.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Summer Grand Finale




Well, this was the last big hurrah before the end of our summer. Nana flew in, picked up the kids, and took them back to her house to stay with Papa and Grandma for 11 long days (just ask her).

This summer trip has become a tradition for them that they look forward to with much anticipation. This year they went camping in Nana and Papa's RV. I am sure that had to bring back memories, at least for Tiffani and Jeremi. Jeremi proudly declared that he was the only one who caught fish, but Tiffani defended her cause by saying that it was only because she didn't participate.

They got back on August 7, and they are already making plans for next summer. Thanks mom for making such great memories a priority.

Friday, July 27, 2007

UPCI Annual Deaf Conference


What a great week this has been! The Annual Deaf Conference for the UPCI met right here in our backyard this year, and we took advantage of it! It started out with a picnic in the park. Natalie, Amanda and I went and met so many wonderful people.


Luther and Gail are some of the most precious people I think I have ever met in my life! Everyone enjoyed Luther's funny antics.




Monday night started the conference, and we took a van load of people from our church. It was beautiful to see Dawn beaming in church, surrounded by old friends and a host of capable interpreters. The service was in her language, and I enjoyed watching how much she enjoyed it.



The Deaf Mass Choir sang Wednesday night, and brought the house down! What an awesome presence of God came in when Deaf saints of God from all over this country came together to lift up His name! It was an honor to have Bro. Haney as the night speaker on Wednesday.

It was, for me, a brand new experience, one I will never forget. I have truly fallen in love with this language and culture.


Tuesday through Thursday were day classes, and Tiffani, Amanda and I soaked up as much information as we could. We were challenged, motivated and inspired. The Holy Ghost really moved on us in Thursday's class, and we bought the DVD.




These are the people that received the Holy Ghost Friday morning (most of them deaf). Faith was so high in the sanctuary! I think the total count for the week was 9 people!

The girl in the front center is the daughter of one of the Deaf leaders. They have prayed for their wayward daughter for a long time, and God has heard their prayers. Praise God!




My faithful mother flew in with Grandma to stay with Jeremi and Bethani while Tiffani and I spent the days away. Morgan, my only niece, was here with them, and they enjoyed each other's company.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of all of this. I feel God doing a work through me. I want to do my part to educate myself in order to have the ability to work for Him with excellence.

Monday, July 23, 2007

VBS

This week has been VBS at our church. Bethani was the only child young enough to register, but the SALT (Student Action Leadership Training) team worked with the adults to make it a smashing success. There were about 120 children registered, and I believe 10 children received the Holy Ghost. In our family, however, the most exciting thing was how SALT transformed my teens. They were forced to rise to the occasion, and rise they did!

The second day into VBS, after the children went home, the SALT team had practice from 3:30-5:00. Jeremi called me around 4:30 and said that they had started with prayer before practicing, and they were still praying!! They hadn't yet gotten around to practice. He was so fired up about how God was moving and ministering to him and his peers. When they got home, Tiffani was bubbling over with how God had used the Gifts of the Spirit to speak a specific word to them, and it was the teens who were operating in the Gifts!


The week continued in this same way everyday this week. God used Tiffani in the Gifts of the Spirit. I encouraged her not to seek after the Gift of the Spirit, but to seek after the Fruit of the Spirit, and the Gifts will naturally follow. It is awesome to see their enthusiasm and love for the Lord.

Sunday night, the entire youth group rallied around one another, and it was a beautiful thing to watch them pray and support each other. For a while, they set aside their differences, and worked together for a common goal. They asked Jeremi to stand and tell what he felt about the week. He talked about unity and working together to achieve a common goal. I saw the man he is becoming, envisioned the minister he will be, and I felt so proud of him.


Raising Godly fruit can be a long and tedious process. It seems that the fruit will never grow, and then when it does, it seems it will never ripen. I have to confess that there have been many occasions recently where I have wondered if any of what I have been trying to teach is actually getting through to my children. It has at times truly felt FRUITLESS! However, it is the times like this week that I am so thankful that I have not given up. "For in due season, we SHALL reap if we faint not." Thank you Jesus for giving us a hopeful peek into our children's future.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Support!


I have wonderful parents. They have believed in me all of my life in whatever endeavor I happened to take up. I am now taking up ASL, and here they are, at my school and in my class. Thank you mom and dad for supporting me in everything I do. I love you!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Happy Birthday Jeremi!


Well, it finally happened! I am now officially a mother of teens (in the plural). Yesterday Jeremi turned the monumental 13 and was thrust along with millions of other young men and women into the Sea of Turbulent Teen Years. Now, don't get me wrong, the change didn't happen overnight. Oh no, my friend, we have been witnessing many changes over the past 6 months. When he answers the phone, it sounds like a grown man on the other end of the line. When I take off my church heels, he stands just a bit taller than me, and (Shhhhhh he has shaved his upper lip once.) Well, needless to say, there are a lot of emotional highs and lows around here, but with the grace of God, we are plowing through it all. His sweet spirit comes shining through from time to time reminding me that underneath the dark clouds called hormones my sweet little boy/man is still intact.

Nana and Papa flew in to help celebrate this birthday mile-marker, and they helped to make his day very special. From lunch at the Grand Luxe, to ice skating at the Galleria, to ice cream from the Marble Slab, to a rodeo in Mesquite with the youth group, his day was filled with all the things he loves most.

Happy birthday Jeremi. I am so proud of the man you are becoming. Always know that you are special to dad and me. We love you so much

Monday, June 18, 2007

Crusader Camp


I promised to update you on all the happenenings around here, so here goes:

Last Monday, I took a van load of kids to Lufkin, Texas for church camp. There were 12 of us in the van for the ride there, and just two of us came back home. Jeremi and I had a chance to talk--just the two of us, and it was good. All went smoothly, even the Taco Bell stop.(Ordering for 10 kids could be a bit intimidating!) Tiffany Ramirez was a HUGE help. She stayed as the dorm matron, and they had a wonderful time.

This was Bethani's first time to go to camp as a 'registered, bona fide camper' and she was SO EXCITED!! Bro. Loyd Squires was the camp speaker, and everyone knows he is just phenomenol with the kids. Bethani told me somewhere around 90 kids received the Holy Ghost! Thank God for this precious truth. This Holy Ghost experience is real!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Relaxation!


Oh, what a wonderful weekend we had. There is nothing like a room with a view! I am planning to catch you up to speed with what all has been happenening in my world, but for now, suffice it to say that this weekend was a blessing from God. Tenney, you are a doll!