Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's a WRAP!! 2013

Tonight I thought I'd write just a bit of our year and wrap it up nice and neat with a pretty bow on it... 

It's New Years Eve and it's Ray, Grant & I...oh, and the Dallas Stars, some random other football game and who knows what other sporting event they'll come across on the TV...borrrring!! I know my life very shortly will be me with these 2 guys and SPORTS...WHY ARE MY GIRLS LEAVING HOME!!!? ; ) just kidding!

Ray and I are celebrating year 31 next mth and just got home from Hawaii where we LOVED it and will go back - hopefully with our kids. We love being together and every time we go on a trip we miss our kids but we leave saying - man, when they're gone...we will be a-ok! Marriage is amazing and I recommend it highly; ) He's still the best and I couldn't be more grateful! Health is good, happy, work was amazing this year and GOD, is AWESOME!! Many opportunities to minister this year - young couples is what we love but anyone that needs loved on and an ear to listen, we are there. Looking forward to walking by my handsome hunk of a husband in 2014!! We are ready to welcome our 1st grandbaby into our family NEXT MONTH!! Lyla Ray is due in 53 days but who's counting...I AM!! We believe we're about to walk into the greatest season of our lives! It's gonna be the best!!

So, Rachel and Sarah are in Israel right now. I've lost count how many times Rachel has been there but I think 5 or 6. Sarah has been 1 other time but it was in 2006 and she was in a much different time in her life. I'm SO happy they're there and they're together. They're having a wonderful time and the icing on the cake is MEGAN came over from Jordan to spend the 10 days with the girls. Lots to say about these 3 amazing women. Man oh man!! They're so brave to travel so far away, to an area that the world says is not so safe, (even though they feel safer there then some place in America) and be fearless and responsible and adventurous and awesome!! I'd sooo love to say they got it allll from ME, but that isn't even the truth! The Lord so perfectly planned it all out and it was a sight to see - how perfect everything went. Did I mention they planned the trip within 2 weeks of leaving? Yeah, thats the favor of God! He so loves to bless my kids. I like to tell them that it's because they're such good kids to us (I think they bought it because they've always been THE BEST) - so, they're there seeing the land and enjoying each other. New Job for Rach this year & she moved out so she could be closer to that job. She has the most precious roommate and we couldn't be happier for her!! It'll be a full year at Gateway Church next week but a new position in a different dept and my oh my, she LOVES her job! Sarah is coming back from Israel and starting a whole new job. I'll let her announce that but we're super excited for her. She still leads worship some at her church and loves her community there. They're both just a joy to parent!! It's unbelievable to see your children walking out their destiny & purpose. I love my 2 eldest! They blow me away at their maturity in the Lord, their wisdom and their trust in the Lord's plan for their lives!! They both lead such full/fun lives and it makes this Momma HAPPY! 

Hannah & Austin - OH MY GOSH!! We can now officially say that next month LYLA WILL BE HERE!!! Hannah is 32 1/2 weeks pregnant and she is probably the most beautiful pregnant lady there ever was, for real! She's had a pretty good pregnancy and I really couldn't be any prouder of her. We're having a blast decorating Ms. Lyla's room and in a couple of weeks she'll have her baby showers. That will be so fun to put the final touches on the room. It's seriously so unbelievably exciting, that our family really can hardly talk about it because it makes the wait harder. Hannah is so ready to be Lyla's Mommy! I can't wait to see her heart burst out of her chest when she lays her eyes on her daughter!! She's gonna be the best Mommy - oh my, Lyla is blessed to have her for her Mom. Austin is at a new Lifechurch campus in Keller, since around Aug/Sept. He's loving it there and it's a bit far for us to go every week but we go when we can. Love our son in love, SO much!! Such a perfect fit in our family. I equally can't wait for Lyla to be wrapped around his little finger! He's going to be the BEST!! The patience and love that he shows my baby, it's the most precious thing to watch. So the Benjamins are looking forward to this year wrapping up because next year (next MONTH) is sweet baby Lyla!! Did I mention we can't wait?? Proud of these 2. Their marriage is strong and their relationship with the Lord is even stronger! I love that!! 

Olivia is great as always! She's had a fun year and a not so fun end to her year. BUT, if there's anybody out there that's more trusting and happy and positive, I want to meet them. She's the most happy-go-lucky person, easy going, positive and precious!! 21 she turned this year but my goodness she's so far wiser then that #! She's still a nanny to "her" precious twins and she loves them so much & I think the feeling is mutual. She's still the glue that keeps our family together tight, our rock and the 1 we laugh at the most. I'm expectant of a happy 2014 for my blonde beauty and all I know is she'll be happy and have fun doing whatever God has her doing. My prayer is all her life she does everything with such excitement, always up for anything and lives life to the very fullest! Love my Liv! 

Mr. Grant. My baby. My son. My boy!! Ummm...he's officially now taller then his DAD!! 5'10 at 13 and he couldn't be prouder! 1/2way through his 8th grade year and highschool is sneaking up on us. HOW?? He played football for school and loved it. He's still a great student. He loves his video games but loves being with his family more. Such a precious little brother to his sisters and the finest son a Mom & Dad could EVER raise. He's my "i love you" kid. Never does he leave a room without shouting - i love you Mom. Probably over 10 times a day he yells it out. And not just to me, to everyone. He's still Grandma's buddy and he spends a lot of time with her. He mowed all Summer, YES and he's a really hard worker. He loves to go get wood and do whatever they do there. He's a fine MIT (man in training) and I thank God for him. 

And last but not least - Grandma! SHE'S AMAZING as always!! Health is great, still sharp as a tack! Loves working on alllll her many projects and spend lots of her day PRAYING for our huge family! She's the best and we can't believe that this last Sept was the beginning of 18 years with her living in our home. We LOVE it!! 

So that's a wrap of 2013. Quite the thumbnail of the year but I feel good writing a bit of it down. Odds are good the next time I blog it will be because LYLA is here. Maybe I'll blog about the baby showers but no promise. HAPPY NEW YEAR friends and family. I pray a blessing over you all!!

Here's a couple pics of the kids last week at our family Christmas party. Austin was still at work when we took the pic of the 5 so here's 1 of the 3 of them, when he got there.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My BABY Girl is 21 !!!!

Olivia, oh how I love you...
Today you're 21 and I've been fighting my memories all day to try and understand how this happened. But the day has come!! 

In some ways you were our biggest and BEST surprise of our life. I shouldn't have been too surprised when I became pregnant with you but I kinda was. Trusting the Lord was 1 of the greatest things we ever did - because Olivia Grace came from that trust! I've asked the Lord all day which way He wanted me to write because we all know your Mother can chase a rabbit or 2...especially in the wee hrs of the morning. 

But 1 word I've heard all day is humility. I talked about that word to you at our family dinner but I wanted to elaborate... I love that you're so humble that you wouldn't even say your humble. That's awesome! But humility has been something you've worn all your life. In Proverbs 22:4 it says - true humility and fear of the Lord leads to riches, honor and long life. The Lord began to show me that humility is going to be your legacy or 1 of them. True riches that He's already given you in relationships with amazing people and the respect that people have for you is true honor and I'm believing for a very, very LONG LIFE!! Those 3 will grow and look different and many, many stories will be told about this Godly woman of humility. The humble receive more grace - in James 4:6 it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. And Grace just happens to be your name. But because of your humility God gives you more grace and where there is grace there is FAVOR! And that favor from God follows you and it even hunts you down!! So, I speak that word over you and believe that your life will continue to be a life of humility. That you'll receive blessings from God that you can't even contain. That people will be around you and be convicted of their pride & freedom will come to people that are being destroyed by pride. AMAZING things are ahead for you my dear and I'll be praying and encouraging and believing in you all the way!! 

This year on Mother's Day you stayed up super late and cut out with your own 2 hands, words for a banner for me. The words were - Thank you's not good enough - I love that banner and I'll probably keep it forever like silly Moms do, I don't care how old you are. But I want to turn that around and tell you - Thank You will never be good enough for all the joy you have given us!! - You know what you mean to all of us - it was clear around the table how much your family adores you. The words - selfless, funny, caring, the best friend to all, humble, encourager, loyal, submissive, our rock, constant, peacemaker, FUN, beautiful, wise... I could go on and on. Watching you receive all your words from the people you love, was pretty moving for me. The laughs, and there were many, but I could tell that you were on the verge of exploding with tears too - it ain't easy to hear the impact you have on people's lives when you're just being you. 

So my sweet #4 daughter, my blonde beauty that makes me laugh and cry! The one that encourages me and challenges me. The church police that loves the word and worship and prayer and PODCASTS! My beautiful girl that has brought me more joy than 10 lifetimes, I LOVE YOU!!! I love you and celebrate your life that has meant so much to me!! I don't feel deserving of you because I want to be more like you - how can I be your Mom? If you were anyone else's daughter I'd be sooo jealous! Thank you will never be good enough to God...for giving me YOU -- Happy 21st Birthday Ms Olivia Grace!!!!
Here are some of her favorite people!!

And the Birthday Girl - she's BEAUTIFUL, inside and out!!! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013


My story of the BEST SURPRISE EVER!!!

Well, yesterday around 8:30pm I received the BEST surprise of my life. Not the kind of surprise that you go, WOW, that's an awesome new purse or ahhh, I always wanted to go to that restaurant... The kind of surprise that will forever be etched in your memory, till the day I take my last breath!!

It was a typical day in some ways - in the middle of the day some of us went to an awesome live play that our sweet friends, the Cawoods were in, it was Ray, Grant, Hannah and I. Totally enjoyed a nice lunch before and then on to the show. We got back and I went to lay down. Sleep avoids me most nights so I lay down when I can, if needed. So I went to lay down and went fast asleep. Around 8ish Olivia came to wake me up because it was "Family Night" & I had slept long enough. Family night isn't "an event" because it happens often. All 6 kids and always extras, thats the way we like it around here. Everyone was eating randomness and I went to the kitchen to find Megan making me 1 of her famous salads. I made my plate and joined everyone in the living room for dinner and the Ranger game. After the Ranger game we'd planned to watch an old movie. Nothing really unusual about the evening until what happened next... Meshali said she had a gift for us & she was gonna go run get it. It wasn't really unusual...she loves to give but I thought, ok... She asked Ray to change spots and come sit by me and we STILL didn't have a clue - my thought was it was some awesome picture or pictures of my kiddos!!! She told me to open the big gift 1st and then the small gift. Well, Im usually the 1 giving gifts so I enjoyed this but was hoping I wasn't going to do something wrong since I couldn't figure out which was bigger. Finally got through that and pulled out the most amazing surprise gift of MY LIFE!! This is what was in the bag...
The smaller gift was a book that had all of these in it... (my 1st of many brag books)

 Thank You Meshali for taking these AMAZING PICS!!!!!!

Aren't they THE MOST PRECIOUS COUPLE EVER!?! MY BABY IS GOING TO HAVE A BABY!!!! WHAT!?! Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus!! After waiting patiently ALLLLL of my adult life (i actually wanted to be a Grandma before I was even a Mom, I think I always understood the awesomeness of Grandchildren) in an INSTANT my life is changed!!

Han asked me months ago if I would want to just know or be surprised when she got pregnant and I picked - be surprised - WELLLL, I never knew in a GAZILLION years that this child of mine would be able to pull this off!!! But she did and it was absolutely PERFECT!!!
She's known for over a week but she wanted to tell us all together and 2 of the girls were out of town so she had to wait extra long. Bless her heart but she did it!! She had to stay away from our house and 1 day it got too hard so she had to leave when she came by - HAHA!! I LOVE to give surprises and never really thought surprises were my thing but this was THE BEST!!! My reaction is on video somewhere and i'm sure it'll show up sometime but I was literally IN SHOCK!! The pictures didn't register that they were my children so when I saw the cool frame I just thought - ahhh, this is so cute...for the future! Someone hollered is this a joke... - i looked over and Hannah said, WE'RE PREGNANT and all I could say is WHAT? It didn't make sense!! They had started trying back in Nov (after they celebrated their 2 yr anni) and then stopped or so I thought! I thought she was gonna start trying again next month so I was super excited for that. I just didn't think that she'd already be almost 6 weeks and already visited her Dr, before I knew! It was PERFECTION!!! All those details DONE and all we had to do is enjoy the news!! My sweet, precious Momma was 1 of the few that knew ahead of time and she prayed over Hannah - oh that makes my heart melt!! And last night we got to put her in the hot seat and we all gathered around her - then I did the same thing that I did the day she was born and then again minutes before she got married - I put my hands on her precious tummy & we prayed...

SOOOO....I know I've been pregnant 5 times but I truly do believe this is going to be the 1st perfect child known to mankind!! Ray and I are over the moon to think that a dream we've always had, to become Grandparents, is going to come true in roughly 7mths, 3 weeks and 6 days!!!

Just like the gift said -- Happy Grandma and Grandpa Day -- June 29th will forever be Our Grandparents Day!! And I'm sure we'll celebrate it with a sleepover!! SO many dreams & memories to make with all our Grandchildren!! All the ballgames, recitals and plays - you name it and we won't miss ANYTHING that is humanly possible for us to be there for!! So many toys to play, books to read, trips to the park, trips to Disney World, Christmases and BIRTHDAYS, camp at Papa & Grammy's every Summer, prayers to pray, boo-boos to kiss, cookies to make...so many things!! I look so forward to seeing my other kids be PERFECT Aunts and Grant be an Uncle and Ray to be THE BEST Papa the world has EVER seen and of course me to be a Grammy... but MOST OF ALL I can't wait to see my PERFECT daughter Hannah and my AMAZING son Austin be THE BEST PARENTS EVER to MY GRANDBABY!!!!

The day after the big news: waking up & thinking I was in a dream - am I really gonna be a Grammy!!

So we are waiting to post anything until all the family knows and with some of Austin's fam living in Europe, it's been a bit longer - but that's totally been fine with me! The sisters on the other hand are freaking out to tell everyone!! Liv actually knew yesterday afternoon - a few hrs before us. She promptly went to Target (her favorite) and bought "AUNT" stuff! She told the cashier that she had just found out that she was gonna be an Aunt for the 1st time and she was soooo excited that the cashier told her she needed to settle down! HA!

Well, Ray, Liv, Grant and I got up and went to Lifechurch. 1 little, bitty, tiny exit away in BUY, BUY BABY....my plan was that we leave church and go shopping, head to get flowers because Ray wanted to give her flowers and then have the flowers and gifts waiting when they got home from church. But it didn't happen that way. The 4 of us got in the store and we looked at EVERYTHING!!! We wanted to buy a baby boy gift and a baby girl gift - then if she wanted to bring either back when she finds out what she's having, she could. Well Grant wanted all things sports, I wanted to look at everything but I wound up following them around because they were having such a good time. Ray found a swing he loved and he found the crib he wants for our house and then he happened onto the recliner area! Yes, that's where he got hooked!! Not sure on the recliner but we have time; )

Notice who's looking on the clearance rack...I tell the girl - I want the cutest outfit in this store and she goes to the clearance rack! OH MY!!

This is what we came out of there with...

AHHHHH...precious baby girl clothes!! But we DO NOT care if it's a boy or girl, duh!!!

The Texas hoodie is for sure for a boy or girl...

And Uncle G of course got him or I guess her - 1st BALL!!

Needless to say...Ray said I need to get a part-time job for all the things I want to buy! I just want to have my house set up for baby so when they come over all they gotta bring is baby!! What a dream that would've been when I was having babies! Ray said he wants to be able to come by at any point that's ok with them and pick up his baby & have a sleepover! He doesn't want to mess with hauling crap every time. Did  I tell you he's excited? When he hugged Austin his words were...WE DID IT? HAHAHA, did he do anything?! I think he meant, we prayed this baby forth? I don't know! HA!!

You'd like to think this is the 1st gifts I've bought the babe and his/her Mom but you'd be wrong...I don't have all those pics but I think the babes Momma took some pictures of those. Just every known thing a pregnant woman could need. I've been stashing stuff since November just waiting for last night and the moment I could pull all of that stuff out! Pregnancy pillow, belly bands, preggo pops, tummy lotions, books and journals and more books and a book for Austin. If I forgot any must haves, please let me know...

CONGRATS to the New PARENTS, of course! Congrats to my 3 girls that have waited soooo long and sooooo patiently to become AUNTS and of course G will be the best Uncle! And a BIG congrats to all the Benjamins - seasoned veterans with this being Grandbaby #10 - WOW, double digits!! I know that # 10 is just as wonderful as #1 to Poppy & Gigi! We love you all like family and I couldn't pick a family in a lifetime that we would want to share our Grandbaby with -- (i'm sure i'll say that w/ every family) We love you ALL!!!

So, I end this obnoxious Grammy Blog with a strong warning - if you think William and Kate's baby will be photographed and written about more than MY grand baby...you better think twice...you've been warned!!!

I love you precious daughter of mine & I love my "GrandBaby Daddy!!"

And little Benjamin Bundle of Joy - I already love you more than you'll EVER know!! You will FOREVER be my MOST FAVORITE 1st Grand baby!! You already have GREATNESS on the inside of you and you better watch out because every one of your family members will take part in birthing you out to be the most amazing Man or Woman!! I've prayed for you since your Momma was in my arms for the 1st time! You have destiny and purpose and you will do AMAZING things for the GLORY of God and HIS kingdom!! I love you and don't ever forget that!! PS--Your Mom is the most precious and your Dad is the GREATEST... but you'll find that out shortly!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

30th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 30th Wedding Anniversary!! Wow, I barely remember what my life was without him. What a ride it’s been!! With sooo many more ups then downs!! 30 years, 5 kids, 1 son-in-love and so many amazing memories!! What an AMAZING God we serve for giving us each other. To walk through life with and enjoy the scenery! I’m grateful beyond belief for these 3 decades and I understand God’s love for me even more!!

My husband, who still to this day pursues me like he did when he was trying to win my heart! That’s so important guys - a girl wants to be pursued, always! He has honored me and cherished me and been right by my side and laughed with me and loved me and led me and prayed for me and respected me and served me. What a wonderful example for our children of a righteous and Godly man!! Thank you honey for giving me a life that I wouldn’t trade for ANYBODY’S life in this whole entire world!! I’ve loved you since I was a silly little 12 year old and I’ll love you till I take my last breath (hopefully together like Noah & Ali) – you are my guy, my best friend, my devoted husband, my LOVE!!

Here is a note that Ray read to me after dinner and we together, just the 2 of us – renewed our vows to each other.

I want to start off by saying that the vows that we made 30 years ago have done pretty darn good and we shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Having said that, I also realize that 30 years ago around this time I had absolutely NO idea what I was saying and how it would impact us some 30 year later. It was only after gaining a somewhat working knowledge of the Word of God, that I realize now what the Lord has done. Our lives were knitted together with those vows. With those vows, we have been joined together, with Him, to make us "One" - one couple that is joined to the Lord by those simple vows.  Set up by Him,  to walk beside Him, to be led by Him, and sometimes carried by Him - for the sole purpose of demonstrating His amazing faithfulness & love for us, in us and through us to others. His Grace is how we make 1 year, 10 years, 30 years.

So I asked myself - What did my vows do?  How did just reciting a few words keep us married of 30 years?  Will they keep us another 30?  Will simple words keep 2 people together for years?  If that’s true why do I see so many marriages failing right and left? Why do we see so many couples struggling to keep the vows that they have made? Men and women cheating on each other, throwing their hands up after years of marriage, only to say, "we missed it.”

WHAT IS OUR PART?   What role do we play in this amazing game of life & marriage?  What do we do as an individual, as a couple, to remain in our marriage?  Are the ones that last until
death do us part, just the lucky ones?

Then the Holy Sprit gently reminded me of His Word. “For a man to find life, he must lose his."

That's it!!   That's the Answer in a nutshell. The answer is so simple! Lay down your life. Lay it down. Take no thought of yourself. Take no thoughts of your  wants, your desires, your needs. Lay it down, lay it all down,  just as Christ laid His life down for you.

Only it's not so easy. In fact, not only is it not easy, but it's hard as heck. How do I lay it down? Well after 30 years of marriage this is where I started and this is where I return;  First was a vow to To Christ Jesus, my messiah…
Then to my sweet and caring, incredibly beautiful wife. I VOW…

#1 - I vow to fall in love with Christ all over again and again. To return to my first love, because its out of that love for Him that I can love you.
#2 - I vow to lay my life down for Christ to have. Because I know that when I lay down my life, He will raise US up to a life filled with Him and the plans He has for both of us.
#3-  I vow to give Him my mind.  I know that His thoughts are not mine, but my desire is for them to be. His word says for me to repent; to change the way I think. To think like Him will help me to be able to put you before myself. To put your wants, your desires and needs, before mine. That is my heart.
#4-  I vow to give Him my eyes so that He, in His love for us, will allow me to see things the way you see things. To be a more compassionate man for you. To always see the amazing beautiful woman that I fell in Love with years ago. That is my heart
#5-  I vow to give Him my hands. I want Him to use me to be the best husband I can be for you. I want to be the handy man you need to fix things around our home and at the end of the day to hold you and tell you how special and beautiful you are to me. That's my heart.
#6 -  I vow to give Him my feet. I know He has placed me in your life to be a helper for you. That also includes running errands for you.  Being a servant to you. That is my heart.

My Vow to you, is to Love Abba with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength.  To be the man that you deserve, the man that lays his life down for his wife, just as The Lord did for Is church.

To love you till the end! I love you Teddi, with all my heart. Here’s to another 30+ years!!

*** We are on our 3rd day of our cruise and yesterday we watched the Notebook – me oh my, we both cried and cried! What a love they portrayed! We thought it would be fun today to do a question and answer of the last 30 years. We didn’t know the dates would be so hard to remember. I’m glad we did it because we’ll have it to look back on or our kids can. LOTS and LOTS left out but it’s a thumbnail. Just an afternoon of reminiscing and oh what fun it’s been. Nobody on this earth I enjoy doing nothing with, like Ray!! For most it will bore you and I understand but here’s just a little fun we had before our big night starts tonight!

****Let’s talk about the 1st 5 years.

Me: What was the best thing that happened in the 1st year, in your opinion?

Ray: Not having to take you home anymore. That was #1.
Remember we weren’t really walking with the Lord… Enjoying that tiny mobile home at the hill in Granbury that you made such an awesome home for us.

Me: Anything else?

Ray: I didn’t have to travel back and forth from Granbury to Arlington to see you.

Me: What was the worst thing that happened in the 1st year, in your opinion?

Ray: That you miscarried our 1st baby. That really probably was the single most horrible thing that’s ever happened in our marriage.

Me: Anything else?

Ray: That you had to work and I hated that you had guys that hit on you.

Me: Ok, lets talk about the next 4 years. Good things…

Ray: The 2nd year we really began our walk with the Lord. Found that little church in Granbury that the Lord used to grow us up. You stopped working and you’ve never worked since. Then in 1985 Rachel was born. The excitement of having her and nervous…loved having your Mom there for those 6 weeks. The weekend we celebrated our 3rd anniversary we moved to Corpus with a job transfer. Not the happiest time for you being away from your family. Sisters having babies and you missing out on that. All the dozens of trips you and Rachel made in that station wagon, no cell phone (what was I thinking letting you do that.) Loved being on the beach but it wasn’t home. Got pregnant for Sarah in Corpus and headed back to Arlington in a little rent house. We lasted about 10 mths. away. Transferred back with the same company and stayed about 6 mths in that rent house. Then moved in with your Mom, Jake and Traci. Brought Sarah home to your Mom’s house in July of 1987. And lived there about 1 ½ years. Left there and went to a big apt. with us and the 2 girls. That 2 years was some serious growing up in the Lord for us both. I started to become the man of God that He intended me to be and you grew a ton with women in your life that helped you. Lots of fun times with friends, camping and having a good time with our little family.

Me: Anything else?

Ray: It was a great 1st 5 years. Grew a TON! Had lots of revelations about being a husband. Loved being a Dad.

Me: What were some of the challenges those 1st 5 years?

Ray: Financial challenges, communication challenges, finding time for us brought on challenges.

Me: OK, year 5-10

Ray: Early 1990 I started at AFISCO, where I still am today, wow! Rachel started school at COP and you became pregnant with Hannah in the late Summer of 90’. Brought Hannah home to the apt and when she was 6 weeks old we moved to that awesome farm house in Midlothian. At the end of Rachel’s year of Kindergarten we decided to homeschool. Setup our 1st classroom & got our very 1st computer. 1991 was the year we got our 2nd car. 6 years with 1 car. Quickly after Hannah was born, 5 ½ mths, we were pregnant for Olivia. Just as we decided to homeschool, God gave us another arrow in our quiver. That was a trusting God time that we could do all that He had called us to do… Olivia was born in August 1992. 2 cribs in 1 room was amazing. Those 5 years were awesome – bday parties in the “big patch” – schooling our girls – SPORTS began with Ms. Sarah.

Me: Not so good times in year 5-10? 1988-1993

Ray: You going with Jan to Mississippi and me & Paul watching a total of 9 kids. Me having my appendix rupture while you were gone. That wasn’t a good time. Rachel got bit by that dog and I got bit by brown recluse. You dealing with fear really bad. Not fun at all. Growing of that farm house with 4 little girls that had a bunch of girl stuff. AND 1 bathroom for 5 girls!!! Nightmare! Never getting anywhere on time was a memory.

Me: Year 1993 – 1995 What do you remember…

Ray: Well Olivia was born late 1992 so I was the blessed man of 4 of the cutest and sweet girls. Proud, proud Dad. Our sports with kids started with Rach and Sarah playing on a YMCA team with their cousins and it was my 1st time to coach my kids. Sarah began her years of gymnastics and then softball and basketball. Sarah was a challenge because she climbed everything. Remember the time we found her on the frig? Then at 4 Hannah started softball and Liv right behind her. It was Fall Softball & Summer Softball then Winter Basketball. Also we had all 3 little girls in Gymnastics. Busy, busy sports family! We were homeschooling all 4 by them and loving it! My job was great and kept busy but flexible for you & the kids. Lots of great trips with sports and family vacations. Camping was what we loved to do. Teaching the kids about Jesus was a daily walk. Us teaching childrens church and our marriage was as strong as ever.

Me: Between 93 and 95 what do you remember was the things that kept our marriage happy and alive?

Ray: I was thinking that was a busy time. Busy with church and kids and sports. Our relationship with the Lord was growing, we were taking care of kids and all they did but in that time we began to realize that we must take time for each other. Then is when we really started faithfully having date nights. In all of it we were happy but we missed being alone with each other. 1 of the major things that helped through that time was our ability to laugh. Laugh at each other, with each other and especially at our children. Laughter has always been something we could do for the other. You know you’ve become more funny because of me? (Yes I know)

Me: 1995 to 2003 – were some exciting times, talk about that time.

Ray: Went on our 1st family vacay to Colorado. That was a great trip. Job was great and it was time to leave the 1 bathroom… Started looking for a house and decided to build. That process started in late 1995 and we moved in, in Sept of 1996. Everyone but the babies (Han & Liv) had their own room and your Mom came to live with us, which was awesome. That house was and is a great time for our family. We were spread out and loved the 4 bathrooms.
For the 1st time in our married life we were putting roots down. As soon as the big girls started youth, I started going with them to most everything. You were with the babies and I was with the big girls. Then began our years & years of teenagers allll over our house. Lots & lots & lots of hang outs & parties. Feeding them, ministering to them and loving on them. So much fun!! In 1999 you came to me & said you thought we should have another child. I need to pray but soon after I was in agreement. Brought the kids together and that very fun discussion and voted whether to have another sibling. So we did and in Sept of 2000 we were all blessed by the 1st boy in our family, GRANT! Things slowed down but not much. Our 1st Disney World trip was in 2001. Still homeschooling & still doing sports with Hannah & Olivia. Sarah had moved on by that time and was super involved with youth and the youth band. Rach was involved with youth also and was a vital part by being a leader. Church and cell groups and youth and sports were their life. We were in full time ministry and didn’t even know it. This was exactly what God had called us to do. We were youth Pastors with no pulpit and it was awesome!! We poured out our lives into young people…from that time to this.

Me: OK, 2003 to 2008

Ray:  Rachel & Sarah finished homeschooling in 2003. And in December of 2003 at 16 years old, Sarah started at CFNI. Then a semester later Rachel joined Sarah. Lots of fun times w/ Praise band worship and ALL the young adults that came through our house! Megan came into our life and so many others. Many will be lifelong family members. Sarah went on her 1st mission trip at 16 to India for 3 weeks. That was a challenge to you and I but we did it because of our faith in God with her. The little girls were growing and always close steps behind their big sisters. Then came YFN and the girls leaving for the whole Summer – that was different. Then Rach & Sarah going to the Philippines with Rick & those guys. Also traveled in the states with Rick and also with Kari. 2005 they were done at CFNI. Rach & Sarah both started working. The Summer of 2006 we went to Disney World for the 2nd time. Grant started at Grace Prep in the Fall of 2006. In the Summer of 2007 the big girls went to Israel with friends from Shady Grove. That was when they met Austin – our 1st son in law. Rach was forever changed for her heart for Israel & went back almost every year since. In the beginning of 2007 we started our Home Church and we had that till late 2008. What a great time that was with so many great people. In the Summer of 2008 we travelled all over for 3 weddings. 1st was in Mississippi for Marcie and Zach then I married the Kuehns in Tennessee & the Unraths in Idaho. All in 2008. In May of 2008 Austin came to me and asked if he could pursue Hannah. That began their love story. Fall of 2008 Sarah went to IHOP for 3 months. In August of 2009 I went to Israel with Olivia to see Rachel and see the sights for 2 weeks. In late 2008 Hannah and Olivia were done with homeschool and that ended a HUGE chapter in our lives.

Me: Challenges of that time.

Ray: Making time for each other. Time for each kid. Grant growing to be a young boy that needed me. Boundaries we needed to set but usually didn’t. Financial challenges to keep up with everybody’s wants and needs. Work was good but times were shifting and in late December of 2008 we noticed the economy slowing down.

Me: Ok, 2009-2013 --- Good times and bad!

Ray: I like to call the year of 2009…the year from hell. Financially the year was from hell but in many, many other ways it was a time of seeing God’s faithfulness, over and over again. The economy for my specific industry didn’t see any change from the end of 2008 and progressively got worse as 2009 went on. Banks failed, car manufacturers went out of business and home foreclosures were ridiculous. It was trying and as a family we grew to see what was really important. Over and Over again we saw God take care of our family and we grew as a family. About ½ through the year the economy began to recover and things got much better. Everyone pitched in, we all prayed, cut every corner and made it through. November of 2009 Austin came to me and asked me for Hannah’s hand in marriage - I said yes. They got engaged in January of 2010 in Israel and then began in the wedding planning. Married in November of 2010. It was 1 of the best days for our family and unforgettable. Sarah moved out for a time in 2010 and then moved back. --- 2011 was a travelling year for the girls, Sarah and Meshali went to Belgium, Paris, Amsterdam --  Liv and Rachel went on a 2 week tour of Ireland with Coty. Liv went to California with Hannah & then onto Seattle by herself. Then early 2012 she went with Sarah, Hannah and Meshali to Europe and they visited Belgium, Paris and went to see the Comiskeys in Ireland. We had lots of wonderful family time. Christmas of 2011 we went on the ski trip to Colorado with all 8 of us and it was a trip of a lifetime. Skiing, hot air ballooning, snow mobiling, sleighing and such a wonderful time with us all.  ---In 2012 Rachel went to Amman Jordan for 3 weeks to see Megan and she visited Israel. 2012 began a challenging year of my health. In the 1st 3 mths trying to figure things out. By April found out the results of thyroid and other things that were totally treatable but those months were dark…but we survived and survived it together. Rest of 2012 enjoyed good health and in November I turned the big 5-0 which wasn’t so bad. That is when we went on our 1st cruise and LOVED it! Christmas 2012 was great to still have all the kids at home and 2013 is starting off to be GREAT! Here we are in the middle of the Caribbean, reliving the last amazing 30 years and I can’t help but give so much glory and praise to the Lord. He is the reason for our success in our marriage, our family, us ministering as a family and my work. Thank you Jesus!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Sarah is a 1/4 of a century old!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Today is my 25th Anniversary of birthing my 2nd daughter…wait – this isn’t about me (even though…doesn’t it make sense we get at least a thank you for our part?) – but seriously, TODAY is Sarah Jordan’s 25th BIRTHDAY!!! Can it be? Is this really happening? She’s really out of her teens? I’m this OLD? A ¼ of a century? WOW!!! Time, where did the time go? As we all know, birthdays are a very big deal for us Baker people and a 25th birthday is even a bigger deal! Who made the rules, I don’t know – I guess me? But the 1st, 5th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 25th and then…well we haven’t hit any of the others so we shall see. But a ¼ of a century, WOW!!

So Ms. Sarah, I’m going to share, don’t worry I’ll try not to embarrass you… You came into this world with people waiting and watching your every move. You see, you had a room full waiting anxiously for your arrival. It was super duper early in the morning – 4:09am I believe and it had been a long night. You were my 1st of 4 epidurals after going all natural with Rach (what the “H” was I thinking: ) but it was a wonderful labor and delivery. 1 I’ll never forget. I had 5 of your 6 Aunts on my side in the delivery room, a future Aunt (Jen) who wasn’t married to Uncle Jake yet, Grandma Short and even Uncle Jake was right outside the door listening. An audience for sure! Also a waiting room FULL! But I’ll never forget Aunt Tucson’s face as you were being delivered and her saying, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus! It was a precious time. You came out a bit of a blueish/purpleish color but before our eyes you hit a shade of red. You skipped the pink shade and I should have known right then that pink would NEVER be your color. My red hide Indian baby that to this day can tan like nobody else in this house! For the next several years you grew to be this spit-fire that never saw a counter you couldn’t climb – never met a ball you couldn’t throw and early we knew we had to get you some training because you had to learn how to land a jump from 7ft up in the tree! My God gifted athlete that people couldn’t believe could throw a ball from short to 1st like a shot gun or hit a ball outfield and slide into home like a pro. You my dear gave us hrs and days and YEARS of joy – in watching you do what you loved!

About the age of 4, was 1 of the 1st God encounters I had with you. I tried to take turns with you girls and take you 1 at a time when I'd go on errands and this was your day - we were riding in our car & we were chatting. Because you didn’t talk a ton even then, when we’d have our dates I’d try to draw out of you things that I thought you’d like to chat about. My no nonsense girl that usually had enough of big sister chatting it up so I tried to be careful, not to shut you down. But this evening was different because I hit something down in your little spirit – I was telling you about 1 of cousin Katie’s friends and how she’s allergic to peanuts. You tuned up and couldn’t imagine the thought of no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We went over all the things that she couldn’t eat and at the end I said – we need to be praying for her… Those 6 words set you on course for a life of prayer. With your big almost black eyes, you looked at me and said… well we need to get in agreement and pray (we had been teaching Rach and you about agreeing in prayer and the power of agreement.) With tears streaming down my face, I was thanking God it was dark outside. So I said - Ok, then you pray and I’ll agree. So off you prayed a powerful prayer and that was the day that prayer was birthed in you! From that day on we began to stir up that gift inside of you. Anybody that needed prayer, you were there to lay hands & pray.The Lord showed us that you had a gift and it was our job to stir that up! My little prayer warrior!!

Then fast forward 20 years to a month ago and you on a stage leading worship with your brother-in-love and friend…then after a song you begin to minister and pray over the women at that night of worship – it took me right back to that 4 year old – I stood there and cried tears of such gratefulness for your life. Your heart is so kind – your passion to see people set free is so genuine – your love for Jesus is so evident and precious!! I stand in awe of a life that so passionately pursues the heart of your King! I respect you and celebrate you and honor you and I love you!! I can’t hardly wait to see what the Lord has for the next 25 years of your life!

What an honor it has been to be called to be your Momma! Your 25 years of living has packed in probably 4 lifetimes of adventure. My traveler that loves nothing more then to pack a bag and GO!! The Lord showed me 1 time in my prayer time, before you took your 1st trip, that in the spirit realm you had your suitcase packed and ready to go in your closet. You’ve seen so much, experienced so much and I know that the adventures certainly aren’t over yet! Next week you and your sisters and a couple of girlfriends go to celebrate more in Colorado and I pray the memories you guys share will last a lifetime!! Happy Birthday my sweet girl! I look forward to MANY, MANY more birthdays, celebrating your incredible life!! I love you more then LIFE!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A story of a real man - Father's Day 2012

So, it's Father's Day weekend - yes he get's the weekend because 1 day just isn't enough! Father's Day to us is a day that we think is pretty much 1 of the most important days of the year. A day to celebrate the great Fathers in our lives!! 

Now that my own earthly Father is gone, it's a day of reflection for me personally. What was, what I always hoped & dreamed for and what could have been. To be honest it could be a sad time for me because my own Dad was not emotionally there for me. To have a husband that is 1,000,000 percent there for his children...sometimes it shows me even more what I missed out on. The Lord has brought great healing to me as I watch and witness the way Ray loves our children - God has used him to help heal my heart. But still, going through the journey of life, I wonder what I could have done different and the regrets I sometimes have. Could I have prayed more, could I have done something that would have made my own earthly Father - love me in a way different way. Not in a physical way or a financial way - we were taking care of very nicely. He was there pretty much every time I had a big event in my life. But I can remember only a few times when he was there emotionally for me. And the saddest of all - I don't ever remember 1 time that he was there for me spiritually. I don't doubt that he prayed for his children and loved us and was proud of us - I know all that to be true. But children/teenagers/young adults - need to feel all of those things. Parents must - physically be there, financially take care of them, emotionally protect their hearts & most important, spiritually guiding them!! They need to see love in action!!  I don't blame my Father for the ways he was absent and that's taken me a long time to say and really mean. I know that he did the best he could for alllll the circumstances that he was given. So even though my earthly Father is gone I still want to honor him on this Father's Day for his hard work, for our family. He provided for my Mom to always be home with us kids and we always felt secure that our daily needs would be met. I'm so grateful for that. I know the day is going to come in heaven and I'll see him again - and that overflowing love will come out of him because he will be free!!

So, what are we to do to see that our son is there for his children? How are we to be SURE that his daughters are raised with the assurance that their reflection of God is 1 that can bring trust to their hearts & minds? That has been our journey as we've parented for 27 years. To raise children that can trust in a Heavenly Father for everything - I don't mean some things, I mean EVERYTHING!!! We want our son to be that Father and my daughters to be able to submit & follow a man who spends every moment of every day living for the Lord and right after that, he lives for his family. 

So, I'd love to honor and brag on my children's Father on this special day! The day that we get to spoil him, celebrate him, encourage him & BLESS him - with our words & deeds & GIFTS. I think anyone that is around Ray Baker for more then a day will know 3 things pretty quick...he loves Jesus, he loves me and he loves his children!! Just in that order! Because you see, that's the order that God intended us to live. As Fathers and as Mothers, ANY other order - is OUT of order. Jesus - Job - wife and kids --- is out of order. ANY other order is out of order!! Ministry is the biggest thing that people get tripped up on but even that comes AFTER! There isn't any other thing under heaven that is more important to my Baby Daddy then his Heavenly Father - ME - and our 6 children!! Do you even understand the security I feel knowing that is the order he lives his life by! Do you comprehend the security & love our children have knowing that their Dad would move heaven and earth for them!! It's because it's the order of God. Everything just works! If you want it to be God - You - Job then PLEASE don't get married & have children! OK, I know I'm preaching/teaching but I think this is a subject that needs some attention. It's our passion so it's what we like to talk/write about. Some talk about abortion or adoption or many other passions. Our passion is family & everything that goes with it. If families aren't strong then every other problem comes from that. We wouldn't have an abortion issue if Fathers were the Fathers that God intended. So it's a very important topic that's very important to God!! It's a mirror of Him, His Son, His Kingdom -- that's something that MUST be important to Dads! 

I wanted to share with Ray and my kids some of the moments I've loved seeing Ray be a Dad & walk a bit down memory lane. Who doesn't like to do that? You aren't American if you don't like that. Some are funny, some are sad, some are moving & ALL have helped heal my heart! 

Living through 5 pregnancy, he deserves a $1,000,000. All the nights that we had a new baby that he woke up WITH me - couldn't do much but was there to get a diaper or just be up because I was. Then there was all the nights of me and him literally arguing over who got to hold our sick baby! I'm THE MOTHER, give me my baby! Him wanting to nurture them and be there for them just as much as me - man oh man! ALLL the softball, football, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, baseball practices and coaching jobs - what AMAZING memories!! Having daughter #1 - #2 - #3 - #4 - and then a SON!!! Every moment in the delivery room when you cried. You coaching me through a natural labor & delivery with Rach & never even thinking about leaving the room for 1 sec. Then the minute we were alone for the 1st time, with every baby, you'd bring them to me and we'd PRAY - we would bring anointing oil or find something for you to anoint our newest gift!! Then you'd pray, laying your hands on their tiny head & give them back to God, and tell Him He could trust us with them!! How we prayed over their little bodies and their minds and their hearts and their future and their spouses! You prayed for their children right then. It's moments like that I will never forget! Every skinned knee, every stomach bug (OH MY), every fever!! YOU WERE THERE!! The movie nights that we'd have and make forts in the living room. All the trips to the movies! The chic-flicks that you've grown to love because you wanted to share them with us girls. What a guy!! The sponge hair rollers you'd help me take out on Sunday morning & the toiletries you've bought! There's this special look that I see on your face sometimes when you look at 1 of the girls and it melts me. It's a proud look and a look like you are the most AMAZING daughter on this earth! They feel it and I know it! The way you taught Grant to mow. The "talks" you have with him about how to treat me & the sisters because 1 day he'll have a wife and he BETTER treat her this way. The day we had THE talk with him, uh huh, mems!! All the times you've had "dead man talks" with Grant & all the talks to come. All the Love Wars we've had & our children have seen that example. The trillion times you put me before yourself is the greatest example to our children. All the birthday parties that you made them go to because you couldn't imagine if that child wouldn't have many kids there. Every gentle, gentle word that you've spoke that calmed our home. ALLL the wonderful vacations that we've been on and how you worked soooo hard to let us go make every memory!! Every opportunity to make a memory - you wanted us to take it! All the b'day cakes your decorated for the kids! The times you fell rollerblading with Sarah & that 1 time you came in so distraught because it finally dawned on you that you were getting older! Every $$ you've let me give and that you have given to help someone and show our kids what a giving LIFE looks like. For all the recitals, ball games, speeches, plays, preaching - you never, ever missed!!! Every tire you've changed, every rescue you've done on the side of the road, every alternator you've changed with your son-in-love. ALLL the songs you've sung in our home with the start of 1 word! Every encouraging word - you're so beautiful - "you are an amazing man" to Grant - you can do anything - you're sooo wonderful - you're the BEST -- the encouraging words are too many to list!! The "talks" with boys. The boys that came to say that God said I'm going to marry your daughter and you saying, He didn't tell me. The prayers you prayed when 1 of them would come to you with a concern. The way you love Austin like he was your son from birth. The day he asked you if he could date Hannah & the way you handled that. Then THE day I'll never forget when you came back & told me he had asked for her whole heart!! The things you said to him...about how you expected him to treat your baby. Then, the wedding day of your 1st daughter to be married...the look when you saw her for the 1st time in her wedding dress and how nervous she was for her Daddy to see her. The pride in your eyes that you were giving a man your daughter that day and he was going to get the most precious gift!!! How proud you were that she was so ready to be his selfless, Godly wife, that would bring him nothing but joy! How our girls have trusted your leadership in our home & the place the God has given in as their spiritual authority - what comfort & security they feel. All the counseling we've done with young couples. The times you've been woken up in the night because someone is sick or someone had their heart hurt by a boy or someone needed to talk. For all the emergency room visits with the kids. You're ALWAYS there!! Every time you've pursued me still, after 30+ years and showed our girls what that looks like & what they should expect! Every flower you've brought me, just because, every precious fb comment you send me - speaks volumes to our kids. For the 27 years that I've NEVER had an outside job because you wanted me to make a home and a sanctuary for our family. The 3 jobs you've had at times so I could stay home. For all the late nights that you didn't care I stayed up because teenagers were in the house... Every bouquet of flowers you've brought our daughters on their b'days and on Valentine Day! For every dinner you've made - the 1's when you've made something out of nothing! All the cleanup from toilets running over (even from famous people)! The people that you've let live on our home soooo selflessly! WOW!! All the weddings you've performed. The tears you've shed with the girls when their hearts have been broken. The way you've guarded and protected their hearts. The way you have the keys to their hearts until you give it to their husbands. The times you've knelt down in front of them to repent when THEY'VE been in rebellion - because if the homes out of order it must come from the top (thank God that's not been often). The years of homeschooling along side of me! The time you stood in our classroom & drew on the marker board a tree & the branches & the roots & so perfectly taught about abiding on the vine. The time you explained to the older 2 why you must spank them and what the word of God says about it. ALLLL the spankings you gave when you came home after a tiring, long day and you'd look at these 4 little girls and ask them - how did you treat my wife today? - The tireless way you've disciplined that has developed 5 of the most incredible people I know!!! How sometimes you'd cry after you spanked them. How 1 of the girls (she knows who she is) trusted you so much and asked for a spanking because she knew it would get rid of her rebellion. Thank you extra for listening to me sing to our kids in the car with my same songlist of songs, HA! For all the bull rides, the sleepovers in the tent outside, the throwing of balls, trips to the pool, teaching them to golf, the car rides to somewhere, for all the times they'd ask you "what's that building Daddy?" and you had the most serious, unique answer (when it was all made up.) For giving our girls a love for all sports & sitting down with them & explaining the games - even when they didn't get it and asked the dumbest questions. For making our home a home that has LAUGHTER!!! The way you have developed in them that they can do ANYTHING!! I don't think you'll ever know how much it means to me that you love our children so fully and completely! 

Those are mostly silly, funny things. Those are just a thumbnail of these AMAZING 27 years of being parents together - but the most important is the eternal things, that is what matters the very most to me and of course to you. Thank you for your devotion to Jesus. Thank you for being an example of Jesus and not just speak about Jesus but LIVING a life that is a true reflection of Jesus. The way you serve our family - can't even be written in words! The spiritual things that you've sown into our children's live's, will live on for generations!!!! 1 scripture that you kinda switched up a bit but has been your parenting motto is from Mark 8:36 - What good is it for me to gain the whole world, yet lose my family. - Nothing & I mean nothing, was going to get in the way of you losing a minute w/ your family - to lose 1 of our children to rebellion for 1 day because our home was out of order, was too much to you. Fortune, fame, self, nothing has been more important then the gift of our family to you. The greatest thing is out of our devotion has come a "ministry" that we've always dreamed of. Touching 1 life at a time! So let's go on, the time Sarah was in India for 3 weeks and you fasted the whole entire time! The trips you've gone on with the kids & their bands. The numerous times you've toted Sarah's guitar and amp to places she was going to lead worship. The spiritual Father you are to SO MANY!!!! The way you can explain the word of God to our children and they have this awesome lightbulb go off. The time that each came to us and wanted to receive Jesus into their heart and we knelt beside their bed and prayed with them! EVERY sickness or fear - you would take authority over! Any spirit of fear had NO chance in our home! Thank you for giving them a love for prayer & for worshipping & especially for God's word. For all the MANY mthly times in a house full of girls & you just handle it like a champ. For not believing the lie that sibling rivalry was "natural" but that our home and our children were to live a life of peace. Now look honey, they adore each other!! I know they'll guard that peace in their homes!! Every single youth camp you went to and youth service!! All the Sunday morning church services that you TOOK our family to. The nights of theological discussion in our living room between all of us. Sarah's blog is perfect and I can't say it better & I don't need to http://sarahjbaker.com/2012/06/14/dads-be-doers/. You are a DOER!! The times you've had the honor to baptize our children and MARRY our daughter to her husband. Let's talk about all the children's church service we led, the object lessons you'd do that were sooo animated. The way you worship the Lord is such an example. The young men you impact and lead is a sight to see. Your living example is just amazing. So constant and kind, you are. Your thirst for God's word and for His Kingdom, is so passionate. The countless prayers you've prayed for our children, the confessions that you've spoke over them and the blessings you've said and believed for their lives...Babe...we've got some AMAZING fruit!!! Daughters that are so secure in their worth & that has been made evident because you've shown them - now, they know their worth in Christ! Hannah is the most AMAZING wife & the rest will be too! And an amazing young "Man" in training, your mini-me son!! I can't even imagine the man he will become under your leadership. Our precious son-in-love & the other 3 to come - what love you already have for them. Our daughter-in-love will have the best 2nd Father. 

ALLLL of the above has been a HUGE reason that we have such incredible, Godly, humble children. It's been worth it all! I can't hardly stand to think how amazing their children will be!! And the Grandpa you will be - OH MY!! You my sweet, precious husband - you have led our family in the most Godly way. I thank you for every second of every day of these last 27 years - you ARE the most incredible Father! Thank you for selflessly putting God 1st & then our family!! I love the way you love us...