Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day

What a wonderful time we are having with our family. Here is a peek into our Christmas day:

My Cousin

This is my 5th cousin: Alexis Mercedes Benz

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

This year, our family decided to try something new with our Thanksgiving meal. Okay, actually I came up with the idea. It was a good one, and I think it all went well. Here it is: Everyone is to take ownership of one of the food items. It was their responsibility to find the recipe, gather the ingredients, prepare the item, clean up after themselves, and present the dish on the table. Since this was just the first year, it went fairly well. I kept charge of the turkey and gravy and made a sesame asparagus salad; Craig decided to bake sweet potato casserole; Bethani cut up the bread and baked the cornbread for the stuffing; Jeremi was in charge of the mashed potatoes (and did a great job even without a mixer)(wouldn't you know it, our Kitchenaid died just one month ago); and Tiffani and Jeremi together made the Cranberry chutney. Our new friend, Jason Talley joined us for our Thanksgiving meal, and he brought a chicken shepherds's pie.

When we sat down, (after taking multiple pictures) we followed our tradition of passing around the taper candle, and listing the things we were most grateful for. We were all grateful for the things that we have: the Holy Ghost, truth, family, friends, home, things. I added this year the things I was grateful for things that I don't have: sickness, disease, poverty, debt, etc.

After all of the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, we did what we always do: Sit in the living room floor surrounded by the sale ads, and map our our plan of action for the next day. It seems every year we are waking earlier and earlier to seize the opportunity of sales. This year was no exception. Craig was up first, and headed to Walmart for the $130 Kitchenaid mixer to replace ours. Because there were only six mixers, and several greedy people, he did not push and shove to get one of those, but he and Bethani did get a GREAT bargain on one at Kohls. Tiffani and Jeremi went to Firewheel mall with Jason, (apparently Aldo was having an incredible sale) and I went to several stores that I can't mention (don't want to spoil any surprises).

God has truly been good to us this year, and we are so thankful.

The day after Thanksgiving, Homestead Heritage always has a huge craft festival, and this year was our second year to enjoy it. Click HERE for last year's experience. This year we enjoyed the various choirs, and the very skilled orchestra and craftsmen. Also, the kids handcrafted some Christmas gifts (shhh)and enjoyed some organic, (somewhat) healthy treats. The simplicity of the lives of those at Homestead Heritage is always enticing and inspiring. After hanging around them for a couple of days, we came home with a desire for greater godly character.

We stayed Friday night in an RV, and for Craig and I it was the first time since we had sold ours. What great memories and flashbacks that inspired. Some day...

Saturday night we were in our own beds, and Sunday morning we traveled to Gunbarrel City for church. We are true Texans now that we have been to Gunbarrel City. And, what an initiation some of us got! I won't go into all of the details except to say that it included two girls, four wheels, and a lake; a boy and a broken chain; a very windy day, mud, shivers, scratches, and bruises. (Don't worry Grammy and Nana, the only thing really hurt was a little pride.) (I don't know why, but they have invited us back for an Easter weekend that includes a tail, a mane, and four legs. I'll be sure to post about that.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy 17th Birthday Tiffani!!

Nana and Papa flew in one week early to begin the celebration week. We ate at her favorite restaurant: Macaroni Grill. What a blessing to have family that is so involved in our lives!

What a great week she had. It started with her favorite: riding horses.
Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. Even when the horses started running and it didn't look like they were going to stop. Even when the horses had them pressed against the barbed wire fence. Even when it was bumpy. Even when they got off and could hardly walk. Even when, one week later, ankles are battered and bleeding from the ride. They say, "It was worth it."

It is hard to buy surprises for a teenager, so she knew most of her presents.
We did manage to surprise her with a jacket that she had been drooling over. "The White Jacket"

The day after her birthday, Nana flew in again for a day of shopping and lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant. What fun that was, just the girls. After we took her back to the airport, Tiffani and I finished up our shopping at Arlington Mills.

Well, she is 17 now. A beautiful 17! It seems to agree with her. Her spirit is as beautiful as she is, and I love her.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

Just when we thought that the season was over, our tomato plants came to life! Thus far it seemed that it was a futile attempt, but they came through after all. Bethani has assumed the job of resident cherry tomato picker.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deafblind Camp

This is one of the new passions in my life. I have learned to love and appreciate Deafblind people and their culture.

Just last week, Tiffani and I joined 4 other friends and colleagues and drove with our teacher to Eunice, Louisiana for a 4-day, 3-night excursion. We volunteered as SSP's, (Support Service Provider) and gave these precious people the freedom to do what hearing/sighted people do. We played hot potato with water balloons, went to the local fair, rode scary carnival rides, and went rock climbing and horse back riding. You know, what you might expect from a Deafblind camp.

We met so many wonderful new friends. I especially appreciate the amazing attitude of the special speaker, Kim Powers-Smith. Kim was born Deaf, and because of Usher Syndrome has become, in her adult life, completely blind. She is absolutely one of my favorite people. There is very little that Kim is not willing to try. She has been scuba diving, on the scariest roller coaster and carnival rides, bungee jumping, and even jumped out of an airplane!! Fearless she is!!!! There is nothing that stands in her way, and she is not looking for an excuse or pity. Amazing!!

Tiffani and I followed Kim and Judy (her personal SSP for the week) at the fair just observing and learning from them. Together they function as one person. Judy is Deaf, and provides Kim with all of the visual clues around them. When the day was almost over, Judy said that her hands were tired and asked me to take over. I was stunned, honored and challenged. I did not, however, realize how difficult it really was. After all, Judy made it look so easy. (Isn't that the way it goes with anyone who is very skilled? They make it look so easy and effortless.)

I offer my apologies now to Kim for all of the errors I made. I forgot to warn her of the metal strip at the gate, and she almost tripped. I didn't tell her in advance that we would be climbing a rather steep ramp followed by a set of stairs to get to the ride. I did not adequately explain the buckets they were to ride in, and she bumped her head. I made many errors. But, true to form, Kim took it all in stride. Judy was right there to give me instant feedback. What a treasure. I believe I learned as much in that 1 1/2 hours as I did the whole week combined.

Tiffani enjoyed the week as much as I did. (Well maybe not as much as me.) She certainly had as much "hands on" practice as I did. It was a great weekend that we will never forget. Now, only 358 days until Deafblind camp 2009!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Clowning Around

Last Saturday Jeremi, Tiffani and I had a blast volunteereing as "Deaf Clowns" entertaining the children. Tiffani was "Bubbles" I was "Troubles" and Jeremi was Juggling JO. My theme for the day was to be just like Bubbles. I tried everything I could to imitate what she was doing. When I grow up, I want to be like her. "Where did you get your shoes?"

Make photo slide shows at

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Girls of Grace

Bethani and her friend Melissa

There is a precious woman at our church who has a deep love for the young girls in our church. Cheryl Vaughn has made it her ministry to mentor train and teach our 10-12 year old girls how to gracefully transition from that awkward stage we call adolescence to godly young ladies. This past weekend she and her staff pulled together an incredible sleepover conference at our church. They went all out decorating and making this a very special time for everyone involved. There were various booths set up to teach the girls on coordinating and stretching their wardrobe, hair care, preserving character, crafts, and even dress up clothes (hence the picture.) From what I am told, there was pizza, and snacks and fun well into the night, and then more food at 8:00 in the morning before devotions. There was a very special speaker who ministered to them on their level.

I am so thankful for a church body that cares enough about this upcoming generation to invest their time, energy and resources. Thank you so much to all who helped to make this possible, and thank you Sis. Vaughn for loving our girls.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Milking The Cow

Although very much out of character for me, I am posting for all the world to see...enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

School Has Officially Begun

Yup! We are back at it. Two high schoolers and a 4th grader.

As an added bonus, Tiffani and I will be taking classes at CCCC this fall. Her class, ASL 2 and my class, Int. 2 just "happen" to be at the same time on the same nights. Isn't God good to work out the details for us?

I am looking forward to this new way to bond with my oldest daughter. We will have so much more in common and so much to talk about.


Okay, so when I got back from Austin, I immediately took my 2 final exams, passed with 2 A's, and then began packing 5 suitcases for California. We spent 12 days in the Pismo Beach area. We did a prophecy conference and visited with Craig's family. It was on this trip that we got to meet our new niece/cousin. Craig helped to officiate Savannah's dedication.

Before I left for Austin, I pleated a bishop for my new niece, Savannah, and worked on it until the moment the plane touched down. (I had to work on the bonnet after we arrived.) Here she is wearing the finished product.

We spent some quality family time at an apple orchard. The Gala apples were the best!

Grammy was determined to have a bonfire on the beach at night. It would have been chilly, but the fire kept us warm. I know the kids will never forget it.

Here we are doing what we really enjoy.

I'm Back

It has been a while, but let me do a little recap here:

The first week of August, Amanda, Tennie and I went to the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin for a Communications Skills Workshop. It was at the end of that grueling week that we all took the BEI Certification test. They have told us it could be up to 3 months before we get the results in the mail. If we get an envelope with a thick card in it, we have passed. If there is no card, only a letter, don't bother opening it. Here we are in our room:

We had a great week of immersion and came back home completely worn out. I think I learned more about interpreting in these 4 days than I have in the past 4 months!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

18 Years

Monday will mark 18 years of marriage to the most wonderful man in the world. Craig and I celebrated today by shopping for each other and then dining at our all-time favorite Japanese restaurant.

I am so proud to call him my husband. Not only is he an incredibly handsome gentleman, he is also a dedicated and faithful man of God. The fact that he is a preacher is just a bonus.

Just this week I was talking with Tiffani about the time in my life when I was seeking out a life partner. I have to tell you that none of the other men I was interested in could hold a candle to this one. I think the main thing that attracted me was his love for prayer. I saw some things in him that I lacked yet desired. I rationalized in my mind that if I would hang out with him enough, maybe some of that devotion would rub off on me. When I made a list of the positive and negative things about Craig it looked like this:

Positive things:

Loves God
Wakes at 2:30 every day for 4 hours of prayer
Knows the Bible
Is called to preach
Keeps his dorm neat and tidy
Is faithful
Diligent worker
Adores me

Negative things:

Wears overalls
Enjoys Murell Ewing type of music

After seeing this list on paper, I couldn't deny that this was marriage material. Surely I could modify his taste in clothes and music. And, if not, I could learn to live with that. When it came to the important things in life, he had his priorities straight. I have never regretted my decision. God truly smiled on me when He put Craig into my life. I will forever be grateful. "Thank you God for ordering my steps all along the way."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fun in the Sun

What a blessing to have a husband who loves to play with his kids!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Anamosa, Iowa

Amanda and I had an amazing trip to Iowa for the annual UPC Deaf Conference. It was a week of fun and learning that we will never forget!

Tonya, my long-time friend and maid of honor drove over with her husband to see us Sunday night at my parent's church. I was so honored.

My dad lent us his convertible for the week, and this added a very fun aspect to our trip. We drove with the top down almost exclusively, and we have burned foreheads to prove it!

A few of us went to visit the state park, and took some pictures on the bridge. Some of the brave girls explored the ice cave. We had a beautiful afternoon getting to know each other better. The best part?? Amanda and I were the only hearing people in the whole group!

Here is a picture of all the Texas registrants. Bro. Wesley Swanson, the Texas Deaf Director,(standing above me) was the special speaker Thursday night.

As always, the Deaf Choir was the highlight of the week. About 60 Deaf people comprised the choir this year. The anointing that fell on them while they were ministering was overwhelming.

Sis. Libby is one of my all time favorite people. I hope one day I can be like her. An added bonus that I was not expecting was to see my very first ASL teacher/mentor, Esther Henry. It was so cool for me to introduce her to my present teacher/mentor, Amanda.

What I was not expecting was when on Wednesday night, one of the leaders turned to me at the altar service and asked me to relieve the current interpreter. I was wearing a black suit, and apparently, that is all the qualification I needed. With Esther pushing me on one side, and Amanda pulling me on the other side, I walked as in a daze up to the platform and did my best. I had Amanda feeding me signs from the floor, and Esther taking video. You can't imagine the intimidation of being a beginning student, signing in a room full of about 100 skilled interpreters!

This must be the most beautiful working prison I have ever seen, right in the middle of downtown Anamosa. We opted out of the tour.

These are our new friends, Melody and sweet Luke, the pastor's daughter and grandson. Doug and Melody opened their home to us, and their hospitality made us feel at ease. I thank God for allowing us this opportunity. The church services were poignant, the fellowship was sweet, and the presenters were knowledgeable. So many more things happened that I won't detail here. Suffice it to say that it was certainly a rich experience.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tulsa, OK

This past weekend we went to Tulsa, OK for a prophecy weekend. Pastor Martin put us in the DoubleTree right downtown. Because we had two adjoining rooms, Tiffani and Jeremi had their own beds and bathroom. With the down comforter and myriad of pillows, it was delightfully comfortable!

Sunday morning I opened the curtains, and had this view of the church as I was ironing. (Of course this was not our church.)

Had it not been for the complimentary vouchers, our breakfast would have cost $75. It was an incredible buffet: biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, you know, all of the things I would eat... They didn't leave me out, don't worry. There was a chef cooking made-to-order omelets, granola, and a huge fresh fruit bar!

Not even the fire alarm that went off at 1:15 a.m. forcing us all to evacuate onto the muddy lawn in the rain could dampen our spirits on this trip. What a great weekend!