Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2 Wonderful Examples...

Ray's parents and my in-laws celebrated their 59th Wedding Anniversary today!! They are Robert and Jean Baker who married on April 14, 1950. They quickly had their 1st daughter Linda, then came Bob Jr. and then Wendy, Sherri, Debbie, Brenda, Ray and then Mary. 6 daughters and 2 sons! A very big family in any culture. They had all their children but Mary in upstate New York and Ray often says they got to Texas as soon as they could (he was 2). They raised a family with very much love and good hard worker. The 60's and 70's were a hard time to parent because of all the rebellion and such that was going on but they did their best. From the children they have - I know I am going to get this wrong - 27 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. The great-grandchildren is still counting. 1 great is on the way and my gang hasn't even started so the numbers will be double that in probably 5 years. What a heritage of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

I wanted to share some of the amazing things that makes them so special and honor Dad and Mom Baker. They have been such an example to Ray and I for their commitment to each other for all these years. They have stuck by each other through thick and thin, through healthy and challenging times, through lack and plenty - and everything in between. Sometimes in marriages we see that people lose sight of what, why and who brought them together and those people can give up when things get tough. They never gave up on each other and their family.

I personally have so much to be grateful for because of the example Dad was and is to Ray and the model of a marriage that they have shown us. The way Dad worked for his family and still works is such a testimony to Ray and all the boys in the family. His cherishing love to his wife has been unwavering for all these years. He taught Ray how to be a man that works hard for your family and doesn't quit anything. He instilled in Ray to work hard so that if his wife wanted to stay home she could. That was the desire of both of our hearts so that is what we have done in our family. Dad gave Ray SO MUCH wisdom in SO MANY things that made him a true MAN! I love when we counsel young couples, some of Dad's advice is STILL brought up that he gave to Ray. Very wise things like, Son, never ever get into your wife's business in the kitchen - he actually told Ray that a day to late. We have a brownie story for another time and Mom&Dad shared their frying pan story! HA!! I will have to share more of them in the future. He taught him to hunt - not just to hunt but to hunt for food for the freezer. We needed that food in the early years. SO MANY life lessons were taught by this AMAZING MAN. Since Ray was the 7th he got many privileges that the older 1's didn't (he knows he was SPOILED) but 1 of those was his Dad's time. He wasn't working 3 jobs to put dinner on the table so he had A LOT of time to spend with Ray. If it was sports, teaching him to fix things, build things, hunt&fish, play horseshoes, golf, watch sports of TV - so many things Ray had the opportunity to do along side his Dad.

Ray was not only crazy about his Dad but he was and is crazy about his Momma. His Mom taught him how to cook, how to clean, how to sew, how to IRON - she didn't make him do any of those things but she would let him come beside her and he watched and learned. She was the queen of what my kids say is made up saying and Ray&I are passing them on to our kids. They think they are silly and don't make a bit of sense but they will use them....in time. Some are "a bird in the hand.." so many that I am sure Ray and her daughters can quote. It's late and I can't think - why do I blog SO LATE!!!

The best way I seem to learn is by example and she was always a living example of how a Mother serves her husband and her children. Did I say the woman can cook! OH YES!! Talk about the ultimate "daughter-in-law not ever matching up to the Mother-in-laws cooking"! Even if I never have cooked as well as his Mom - he was raised by her to NEVER let me know it. I think I could hog tie Ray and have someone beat him and he wouldn't say that his Mom cooks better then me. Smart MAN!! The special things I learned from my Mother-in-law was how to truly serve my family. She is such a great example of taking care of her children, some of her grandchildren and her husband with such a servants heart! She did things for her family when I am sure she didn't feel like it but she did it with all the love in her heart. 1 major thing that I learned from my Mother-in-law was her gift of hospitality. Her home was ALWAYS, ALWAYS welcoming to anyone and everyone. Their home was the hangout house just like ours is. The woman could whip up snacks and a meal for an army in under an hr. Their home was really my 1st example of being in a home that welcomed, loved on, listened, laughed, played and genuinely loved the people that God brought to them. Ray and I have had MANY people come through our home and there has been many times that I have had flashbacks of our days in the Baker home and random people everywhere. People, community - whatever you want to call it, it's just being there for each other. If you needed a meal, a bag of groceries - whatever it was they were the people that gave and gave and gave. I love that we are passing that on to our children and their homes will be just like that too.

It was always so wonderful to know that we had their support for me to stay home and they always supported us when we were blessed with another child. I would hear friends or sisters that would tell me of their in-laws and how disapproving they were that they didn't work too or that they had more then 2 or 3 kids. My in-laws encouraged us and ALWAYS saw children as a blessing from God.

If you were around them for a short time or often you always knew and saw their undying love for each other. They have shown us that affection to each other doesn't ever have to stop, no matter how long you have been together. I always loved seeing them steal a moment with each other - if it was a glance or a touch or a kiss, it was always so tender and sweet - such a GREAT example for me from how I was brought up.

I have regrets, many regrets that I didn't take advantage of all of my Mother-in-laws wisdom in so many things. If I had it to do over again I would be quite the different daughter-in-law to her. I have made it my prayer and my mission to have my daughters be AMAZING daughter-in-laws and they WILL learn from my mistakes! I will bring the unfortunate, to be something that my daughters will gain wisdom from! Why must we learn so many things the hard way when they are so valuable and important!?

Ray and I love you both very much!! We honor you for the love of family and love of each other that you have shown to us and everyone in this BIG family!! The VERY MOST IMPORTANT thing that I have been able to see in their lives is the 2 of them come to know Jesus as THEIR personal Lord and Savior!! We are SO GRATEFUL to God for their example now of seeking God's face and serving Him. We had many years that we prayed for them and along with a lot of others prayers. But because of God's AMAZING GRACE and mercy, they now serve the Lord with all their hearts, soul and minds. I am not sure how many years it has been but it has been over 15 years since they feel in love with Jesus. They now spend time in His word and do it together. It is so precious to us and theirs has been a testimony of HOPE to so many that you don't give up on, "you and your household WILL BE saved"!!

As the Patriarch and Matriarch of this Baker Family, your son's Family would like to speak a blessing over you... 'May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.' Number 6:24-26
We love you both so much ~ Ray, Teddi, Rachel, Sarah, Hannah, Olivia and Grant

Here is a picture of the dashing and beautiful young couple!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Life should be simple...

I am up late - what else is new, but tonight is different. It's 2:32am and I have been to bed twice, trying to shut my mind and my spirit off, when I knew I was really suppose to get up and pray. So after praying I thought I would blog what the Lord is downloading to me and maybe He would release me to go to SLEEP! Funny thing is I am taking medicine for allergies that should have me OUT but OH NO!!

For the last several days the Lord has been stirring up in me simple, simple truths. Things that I don't know about you but things I need to focus my life on. It is SO simple that it would probably make my theological daughters look at me and say "really Mom?". I will get to the simple truths but 1 of the times that I tossed and turned I woke up my sweet Ray and he of course starts down the list - are the kids home, YES - have the kids out of town checked in, YES - are you feeling OK, YES. But after that I just started sharing with him and bless his heart he sat up 1/2 awake and listened then he finally got committed to the convo. and he was awake. Bless his heart!! We start talking about the simple, simple message of a follower of Jesus. Now it's going on 3am and I know the word/bible, I could give you chapter and verse but if I'm gonna do that I am going to question myself so I will need to look them up and frankly it's to late/early and my "older/healed" eyes would probably have a hard time adjusting (I haven't succumb to the Grandma glasses)! So I am just going to share my heart and you can search the Word for yourself. But back to my conversation with Ray that has been going around and around in my spirit for the last few days.

I think of when Ray and I began serving Jesus when we were 18 and 21, the years that followed were really tough in alot of ways spiritually. They were tough because we really made them tough! Let me explain, as a "Christian" we really hate to put a label on our relationship with Jesus because to us it isn't religion AT ALL and to call me a Baptist or Pentecostal or anything would just not work. So we have tried to not major on the minors as believers - just love EVERYONE, not caring about their label. Our only desire is that we ALL believe in Jesus, because He is the major and all of our differences as "Christians" are minors. SO...stay with me. We spent really our 20's and probably most of our 30's majoring on those minors. We tried and we tried and we tried not to but we did. I would like to tell you that EVERY single thing that we have learned/studied and been taught from day 1 as a Christian, is the exact way we still believe. It isn't, I think it's the same as anything in life - OH IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER AGAIN - how many times have us older Mom's thought that about raising our kids? It's the same thing in all the different things that we have learned as Christians. We studied till the cows came home MANY, MANY different "things" - healing, no healing - tongues, no tongues - deliverances, no deliverances - pre trib - trib - post trib -- once saved always saved or no - how long am I "suppose" to pray - prosperity - SO MANY THINGS, the list could go on!!!! We would bog ourselves down on all of these MINORS!! It got in our way SO MANY TIMES -- in our walk. Then over the last several years things have changed --- the simple truth came back to us, the thing that meant SO MUCH to us when we were just newly saved. THE LOVE OF JESUS - the simple, redeeming LOVE OF JESUS!! The same LOVE saved me from death - that saved me from having a life with NO hope in it. You see the world has a false hope, it may last for a time but in the end it is empty. I have felt that hopeless life without Him.

You may get Ray to discuss with you his knowledge on this and that but we have finally came FULL CIRCLE back to the 1 truth - Jesus died for me, He died for me and was tortured and he took on MY horrible, disgusting, terrible sin - FOR ME!!! But He did it at the MERE CHANCE that I would LOVE Him back. Isn't that something to think about. I don't think we put enough thought into what He did for you and me. He hung on a cross and died and was beaten to a point of not being recognized as a human being. Can you imagine all the sin of the world, all the sickness and disease of every one of us? Can we only imagine... He took on MY SIN not knowing if I would give up MY life to follow Him. I love, OH HOW I LOVE that we have come full circle back to a simple message - He loves us! I don't know if you have heard many messages of the kingdom of God and that is Ray's love to preach but its SO SIMPLE people. There isn't anything hard about it. God sent His Son into the world to die so that we can LIVE - but not just live but live for Him!! Walk around not judging everyone that doesn't believe like me but just loving people the way Jesus would love if He was walking the earth still today. We have 2 commands and that is to Love the Lord our God and love our neighbor. Are we doing that today? Am I doing that every day? I fail SO, SO much but I try to get up (sometimes I am a little slower).

I just wanted to share what the Lord put on my heart and maybe it is for you too. He loves me and I am going to love Him by loving every person He brings to me. I have used the analogy before that when you bless my children you bless me or when you love my children you love me. Isn't it the same way with God - in my complicated days of "doing works for the Lord or is it GRACE", I would KNOW that the Grace of God was how the kingdom works but I would then get to thinking that I must EARN His love and EARN faith $$ so that when I needed Him I could cash them in. OH MY!! That ISN'T how we LOVE Him!! We love him by loving his creation - His children! I know some theologians would disagree and they have a million page list on "ways to love the Lord" but He said come to Him as a child. Do you think that maybe He wants us to stop being SO analytical, philosophical, theological and just come like children? I will never forget Grant when he was young and the girls had a friend over Kari and she LOVED Grant. Well she knew that Grant was a little prayer warrior and I bet he wasn't 4 years old anyway she had a bad headache and she asked Grant, would you pray for me, he said SURE and walked over to her put his hand on her head and said, "be healed in Jesus Name"! That's all, nothing long and she was SO moved by his prayer - it was as simple as that but it had so much POWER behind it!!

So as my sweet Sarah blogged about 1 time that was so profound to me - How are we loving Him today? How is our love walk today with the saved AND the LOST? I don't know about you but I want to be found faithful in the little things. Faithful in a smile to a broken heart, a nonjudgmental look when someone is struggling, a heart that breaks at the person that has no hope in Jesus. I want to be found loving Him with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind and loving everyone around me. We don't get to pick only the lovable people to love. Sometimes we are made strong by the 1 that "wants to judge us". Someone may look down on you for the color of your skin or the degree you don't have or the money you don't have. We must love them anyway - we have times that we have EVERY right in the world to be offend but as children of God we have no right to walk in offense. Remember we are gonna be persecuted for His name and that could even be by Christians. It only makes us stronger. But we have to keep on loving...we can't get weary in loving people. His mercy is new EVERY morning with ME can't my mercy be NEW every morning for someone that needs that mercy from me?

I could go on - OH MY I love to share His truths!! For all my fellow brothers and sister in Jesus - let's stop, even if it's for 1 day, Easter, and just put down ALL the things that can clutter our mind and our spirit. All the great sermons that have actually brought you to a place of - "can I follow this man, Jesus, is this too hard?" and let's remember the simple message that He came to bring, and that is He came to die for you and me so that we can now receive Him as the Lord and Savior of our lives and then we can spend eternity with Him. But after we ask Him to take over our messed up lives and we surrender our lives to Him - NOW we are called to share that same AMAZING love to everyone He brings to us!!

I close at 4:25am with such a grateful, grateful heart!! A heart that is SO grateful for a Savior that loved me in my sin, His word says "for God so loved the world!" but He didn't stop there. He gave His only Son - that whoever believes in Him will NOT perish - and the BEST news is we are promised Eternal LIFE!! And that good people is John 3:16. Thank you Jesus for loving me, thank you for forgiving me and thank you for my hope of eternal life with YOU forever!!

I pray you have such a blessed Easter Sunday - but PLEASE remember more that it is the RESURRECTION that we celebrate as believers!! I have been thinking on what He did through his death but OH MY WORD - in 1 day from now He may have me up blogging/preaching about His GLORIOUS RESURRECTION!!! Take time to remember what He did for you!! He is alive people - the only "religion" in all the world that the person that we worship, is ALIVE!! Anyone that wants to change my mind about Jesus has come WAY to late. He has walked with me and talked with me and I'm telling you He is ALIVE!! God Bless You ALL!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring has SPRUNG!

Well today is opening day of Ranger baseball (not that I really care but Ray, Grant and Austin seem to think its a big deal)! It just always marks for me the beginning of a new season. We all love Spring and it never last as long as any of us would like but we all enjoy it all the same. ***As I am finishing this blog I was informed by Grant that the Rangers kicked butt and won 9-1.

Lots going on here in our home and in our lives. Megan has been living with us since January and she has been out of town for a month with Blaire. It was way to long but she got back last week. We all love her being here!! Rachel has purchased her plane ticket to leave for Israel on June 3rd (I think) and she will be gone 88 days - she hasn't paid for the ticket but it has been purchased (credit card!). She is working her fingers to the bone to do all she can do and I know the Lord will do the rest. Soon (like yesterday) I was suppose to be finished with her support letter to help her raise money for her mission trip - I'm almost totally done RACHEL!! She is SO EXCITED!! I will post her letter soon so you can all hear her heart on Israel and what she is going to do. IT'S EXCITING!! She is going with Gary and Jerri Benjamin and their youngest son Preston. They are the parents of Austin, who is Hannah's boyfriend. It's crazy how the Lord connects people - He is SO clever... The Benjamins are leaving in 2 weeks to move there for 1 year. All of my girls are so sad because they have grown to love them so much - just like family! Hannah is SO sad but grateful that she has had over a year to really get to know them. Sarah has been at her new job for 1 week. She is back at the same job she had before she went to KC. Her same friends are there so she is loving that. She is quite under the weather right now : ( - but she is tough as nails so she will bounce back. Olivia is working her 2 jobs and really doing good. I on the other hand miss her SO MUCH!! She was my last girl to be around the house all the time and now it's just me and Grant. Liv just got offered a Nanny job for the months of June and July. She actually hasn't purchased her ticket but she is wanting to go to Israel. Her wish and prayer is to go around the 1st week in August and then fly back with Rachel. She would be there around 3 weeks so we shall see. This nanny job would actually pay for her whole trip so as soon as she knows if she got it - we will start making plans. She would have to fly alone to Israel so we will see if her Daddy will agree to that! Mr. Grant is keeping us all on our toes!! He is quite the comedian around our house.

Ray is as wonderful as ever and we are loving life together as usual. He is working very hard these days, as so many are with the wonderful world economy like it is. I am happy that we can depend on God's economy and in it there is NO LACK! Our Summer is filling up with things and Ray is marrying 2 couples this Summer and 1 of them is our sweet niece Katie and her guy Justin. The other is another daughter of ours (she just doesn't have our DNA) Bink (or Brittany) and Davi. We have been preparing for some pre-marital counseling (our most FAVORITE kind of counseling). 1 thing new I read and I thought I would share was this - Before you get married write down the 3 biggest things that bug you about the other/the things that you would want changed. Then vow to each other that these 3 things will never be talked about or even slightly brought up again in any negative way. We will give them to the Lord and have HIM change the other. What I know from being happily married for 26 years is when we do that - WE CHANGE most of the time and sometimes even the Lord changes the other. Of course we are always growing and changing - THANK GOD! I think that is something we should ALL do, no matter how long we have been married or in a relationship. In my case Ray probably had 10 things he wanted changed about me -- but I never knew 1, because he let the Lord change me...just a little nugget - for someone I am sure!

That's an update on the Baker gang. One other young lady that lived at our home for a couple of years is Emily. When she was living here she was going to Bible School at CFNI, wishing she had a boyfriend (like the rest of the girls around here) and she was a real JOY to have live here. She has been gone a few years and in that time she got MARRIED - her 1st date with Josh he actually picked her up from our home. Well this weekend we got a call that she is PREGNANT and they are so, so excited. We are all so excited because she will always be 1 of our girls and 1 of the girls sisters. Some of you know but around a month ago her Dad found out that he has cancer. He has been given no hope medically but LOTS OF HOPE by the REAL HEALER, JESUS!! His name is Bill Wells and he is Emily's Daddy and her little babies Pop - PLEASE put him on your prayer list and pass his name to anyone that you know that believes that Jesus still heals! He is an amazing man and he is AN AMAZING Daddy! I had the honor of taking her wedding pictures almost 2 years ago and here is a couple of pictures of Emily and her Daddy.