Saturday, May 30, 2009

Goodbyes...graduation...just life!!

Well, it's getting hotter and this is NOT my favorite season of the 4. But, THANK the Lord for air-conditioning. I am a little behind so I will try to catch up on the life and times of "The Baker"! Today is Hannah's birthday but I will blog about that in another blog because I will probably have so many pic. that it will be a picture blog. It's around 2ish and she has already had an AMAZING day but I will save that for later.

Last weekend was a big weekend. I will start with Casey leaving us and going home to Mississippi - BOO HOO!! She came to Texas 5 years ago to go to Christ for the Nations in Dallas. My girls met her, her 1st or 2nd semester. About 2 years ago Casey was living close to us and we became VERY close to her and she became 1 of our own. She came and stayed every chance she got and we SO ENJOYED her!! She is 1 of those special ladies that the Lord puts in our family for so many reasons. For some she is a confidant, for others she is a shoulder, for others she is the person that makes them laugh harder then ANYONE! For me she was a person that I could sit with for hrs. and bounce things off of - she was and is someone that the Lord used to speak into my life about SO MANY things! Her knowledge of the Lord is incredible, her giving spirit is an inspiration and she IS 1 of the best friends to my girls that they have ever had!! The Lord is already revealing reasons that she needs to be home for this time and from there - the world is hers!! We love you Casey and you will ALWAYS be a part of our family - you know that!! Thank you for sharing your heart, your life and your WISDOM with us all. We are all better because you are in our lives!!
Here is a couple of pictures of the evening she left - quite sad! We had a big dinner - her sweet Momma (Ava) came to drive back home with her stuff. We prayed over Casey with the most serious prayer that this group of people could pray. Everything leads to something funny with them. Thank GOD it was light or we would have all been in shambles!! Everyone held it together in front of her but we have all had our moments since she left!! First picture is normal - then sad (all 3 of the boys are SO dramatic)!

This is the send off of her getting in the car : (!!

Saturday was Casey's send off and Sunday was Hannah and Olivia's graduation party. They also have a cousin Mason that graduated this year so we had a joint party. Hannah has been through with school since last year for the most part and Liv isn't quite done but we went ahead and killed 3 birds with 1 stone (weird saying, I know)! Liv will be done by Dec. and she will then prepare to go to hair school. Hannah is searching for a Nanny job because she feels called to do that. We are SO beyond proud of the 2 women these girls are!! I could go on FOREVER!!!! Hannah has had her challenges with school - she was mildly dyslexic and also had an eye issue that didn't help her reading challenges. She has overcome by fighting, praying and NOT stopping - till she got the victory! Now she LOVES to read and thanks the Lord all the time - something we all take for granted, she doesn't. She always loved learning and I loved teaching her. College she doesn't think is for her and I know it's not for everyone. Her desire is to minister to God's children through being a Nanny and I think that is a very important call on her life. Her main goal is to be a wife and Mother some day and minister alongside her husband. She has been a DREAM child to raise and I don't think I could think of 1 little tiny, itty bitty thing I would change about her!! SO, SO proud of her - I will talk MORE about her in her birthday blog. Ms. Olivia - she ALWAYS stumps me when I begin to write about her. Not for things to say but where to start and stop. I don't know what it is about her but my heart get's BEYOND FULL when I see her face, write about her, think about her. She has been a kid that really had no use for learning. She was a little tough to encourage that you MUST learn this and that! We did it and I'm glad it's about over! She will take her GED (which is what homeschooled kids usually do) and she will move on to making people beautiful, which is what she is PASSIONATE about doing!! Since I don't have a special blog about her till her birthday in August I will just say a few tiny things about her (yeah right)! I LOVE her love for the Lord! The #1 thing in "homeschooling" our children was JESUS!! He came before ANYTHING!! There wasn't a book, a paper, a test, research - NOTHING was or is more important then our daily walk with Jesus! What they learned in our day to day life of living could NEVER be learned in a book! I LOVE THAT about having them at home. People ALWAYS came 1st - we are here to serve and if someone needed us we would drop EVERYTHING to serve someone. SO, Liv got an A+++ in learning how to serve others. Her hospitality, desire to help, organization - just straight up SERVANT was learned - not in a book but DOING!! EVERYDAY!! If it was serving her Grandma that lives here, getting a call that a friend of mine needs her house cleaned because she was overwhelmed, babysitting kids - WHATEVER it was, Liv was right there serving!! She is AMAZING to me in so many ways! I have seriously learned SO MANY things from her. I love, love, love that I have had the honor to be her teacher and her Mom. She is such a delight! SO, congrats to Hannah and Olivia for getting through this hurdle of life. The learning NEVER stops girls!! The book stuff is usually NOT what you use out in the world!! The life lessons that we have all shared together are what is gonna help you on this journey. I love you both so much and I can't believe we are done with that chapter. What AMAZING women you both are. It's hard to think that anyone EVER will deserve the gems that you both are. What amazing men you will have the opportunity to mold with the Lord's help. THANK you for being such precious, precious daughters to Dad and I!!!

So on to the party! On my side of the family my sister Tina had the 1st grandkids. She has 5 kiddos and when my nephew Jeff graduated we all helped plan an awesome graduation party for him. Well we try to not start something for 1 that we don't do for all and we have succeeded in that. Every year that we have a graduate we try to come up with some unique and clever way for them to get their graduation money (they only get cash for gifts). It's usually a pool party with good food. Some years it's real themed - my sister Tricia's son Logan was by himself a few years ago and his Dad is Greek so the whole party was Greek themed with Greek food, we all wore the Greek outfits - he had this amazing scroll that my sister had written out this story in Greek lingo that was long and every now and then money would fall out of it. Rachel and Sarah had 6 cousins in all graduate with them and theirs was a Hawaiian theme. They got their money by all 6 of them being roped together (my idea) and then they went through my sister whole backyard, together, on a scavenger hunt that was leading them to their money. At every stop was a note/letter from their individual family to their graduate and then it led them to the next spot. At the end it led them to the pool where their treasure was in the bottom (dangerous? maybe)! So this year was AWESOME!! Emily gets SO MUCH of the credit for this and I owe her big time. Emily, my sister Tucson, sister Tricia and I got together on Friday and came up with 40ish question (like Jeopardy style) that would be FUN for a game. They weren't challenging questions - just fun stuff. Some of our categories were reality tv, funny movie quotes, more funny movie quotes, texting, random facts -- so you get the idea. Emily, her friend Whitney and my sister Tucson stayed up almost all night Saturday working on the board and it was a blessing to me because I was having the party with Casey (family is awesome!!) Anyways, we had $ amounts you will see on the game but in the end, they all got an envelope with the same amount of money in it. BUT, it didn't make them less competitive, HA!! It was a big hit and they had such a good time!! My big, extended family blessed the girls SO MUCH and I really do have the BEST family EVER!! SO, here is a bunch of pictures of the par-tay! Note - the picture of Austin and Hannah with her cap on is just for Austin. He still get's a laugh that his girlfriend is a little younger then himself! HA! I can't help it that they mature a little faster then the average kids! haha! I decided to do a slideshow because there is just to many good 1's.

But let's start with the 2 gorgeous GRADUATES!!!

ALSO!!! BIG NEWS!! This time next week Rachel will be in ISRAEL!!! We are getting every little thing READY. I will blog about that later too but it's quite exciting around here...

That's all folks. I will try to get Hannah's b'day blog done before to long but things come up... She is having such a fun day though, YAY!! I love to see my kiddos blessed. Ok, love to all!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer is upon us...

Well I know it isn't officially Summer but Grant's last day of school was yesterday and he had his end of the school year party today so in my mind it is HERE!! He only goes 2 days a week and then I teach the other 3 at home so I have no room to complain, but it was WORK! Thank the Lord for Ray and my Mom because some of his 3rd grade, I couldn't help him with. But anyway - no more school till August 17th! YAY!!

Grant is very excited - he will be going to college for kids this summer for 3 weeks - he will go to a week of day camp at Camp Thurman - he will also go to a vacation bible school or 2 with cousins. I am debating on getting Hawaiian Fall passes but we will get the standard Six Flags pass for him and Ray. He is quite the bookworm so we will take exciting visits to the library where I will sit with a magazine and he will spend HOURS looking at books. A couple of cousins have pools so we will venture to those. So, congrats Mr. Grant - YOU are a BIG 4th grader now!

This is a pix. right after awards night at school where he was awarded to be on the Honor Roll.

This is our 1st trip of the Summer to the library!

Over the past week or two we have had Rachel's birthday and Mother's Day. Rachel turned the big 24 - I can't believe it - mostly because it makes me 44, YIKES! She had a great day but she kinda shared it with me because it was Mother's Day. Actually 24 years ago I had her on the Friday before Mother's Day and brought her home on MD. Every now and then her birthday falls on that Sunday - so we have to share the day. It was wonderful and I was VERY blessed with all the kids here with me. I don't know how lucky I will be in the coming years to have them all around the table but this year, I was blessed. Ray started the day with serving us both breakfast in bed, that's a great way to start the day. We didn't go to church anywhere but had our own time with the Lord at home. Rachel went out for a lunch and shopping with the sisters and a few friends. I enjoyed a beautiful, lazy day with my boys. Oh, I forgot to mention that Ray had gotten up EARLY that morning to go shopping for breakfast stuff, flowers for us and stuff for an AWESOME birthday/mother's day dinner. So, while the girls were out he began to prepare a feast for dinner. We had steak, shrimp and ALL the fixins! Austin was here because his sweet Momma is in Israel - so I was blessed to stand in her place for the day. He grilled the steaks and did a FAB job! Megan came back a bit early and did her famous salad and helped with everything. It was truly a PERFECT day. We went around the table in Baker fashion and said things that we truly treasure about Rachel and they did the same for me. It was funny, sweet, unlifting, touching and glorious to be sitting there with my gifts from God. Another GIFT from God is that my sweet, precious, angelic Mother was here with me on our Mother's Day! She also enjoyed her day and LOVED the dinner (even if she like shoe leather steak)! She is 1 of the biggest blessings and joys in my life and everyone around her! I FOR REAL couldn't have asked God for a BETTER MOMMA!! So that covers the most recent Birthdays/Holidays!

Rachel's birthday outing with her buddies!

Random pix of Rach with Casey!

Rachel --- she is in the news at our house!! Boy oh boy, it's getting exciting around here awaiting her departure for Jerusalem, Israel on June 8th (I was wrong - she leaves ON THE 5th of June, the 8th is Megans b'day)!! She is beyond excited and we are ALL beyond excited for her! She is such a hard worker and she has been working SO HARD at her job and the Lord has blessed her with so many people that have wanted to sow into her trip! It has been quite overwhelming - like it always is. I love to see how the Lord leads peoples hearts to help fulfill His call for other peoples lives. It's such a testimony to the body of Christ and how we all work together to spread the Word of God. She also has had people get in touch with her and say, please give me your address - I must give! 1 person is supporting her by paying all her bills here while she is gone. This woman said that the Lord had put it on her heart that she was partnering with her like she was actually going herself. 1 older couple said that they had ALWAYS wanted to go and knew that they couldn't, so they felt that they were fulfilling their dream, through her! It is very humbling to see people give to your children! If we ever have any doubt about giving to help advance the Kingdom of God in Israel, God always reminds us of His words about Israel - “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3) Isn't that awesome that He will bless those that bless Israel! Rachel actually had a wonderful prayer time that some amazing friends and her sisters prayed over her about her trip. 1 of the friends felt VERY impressed while praying that 1 of the reasons that Rachel was going and working in Israel was to fulfill a dream and a PRAYER that had been prayed - for generations in our family. The prayer is on video and I played it for my Mother and she began to cry. She shared with us and I already knew that she had ALWAYS wanted to go to the Land where our Jesus had walked. She said that she planned trips, saved for trips, prayed about trips and dreamed of trips but she never went.... She also shared that who knows how many other generations had prayed that 1 day they would be able to go to the Holy Land. SO - we feel she is fulfilling her dream, prayers and call but also fulfilling generations before her, prayers!! Isn't that awesome how our prayers are NEVER discounted? We just don't know exactly how they will be answered or when!!

So Rach is buying things to get ready, she's seeing the dentist and the Dr. for last minute check ups. She actually went to our family Dr. today and he was SO excited for her. He gave her many precaution prescription and set her mind at ease that Israel has some of the most advanced and very well equipped hospitals in the world. Her only need now, that if you could join us to pray, is a computer. She doesn't have a laptop and it would be VERY useful for her to have 1 to take. Since the internet will be her only way to keep in touch with home, she needs to be able to take 1 with her. She is believing God and we know it will happen somehow. She is SO prepared - she is my list maker, crosses every "t" and dots every "i"! I love that about her (and she gets it from me) so we are trying to not forget anything that will make her trip, THE BEST!

Olivia will be flying to meet her there on August 8th (i'm thinking now I don't have either date right, HA) and she will be flying by herself from Dallas to Atlanta with a 3 or 4 hr. layover and then from Atlanta to Tel Aviv! YIKES, my almost 17 year old flying by herself. She will do amazing and we have NOT a worry in the world about it.
Olivia is working hard too and will pay for ALL of her trip herself from working other then a bit of graduation and birthday money. She is SO, SO, SO excited and as her time gets closer we may have to lock her in a room because she will be so excited, she will drive us all CRAZY, HA!! But Liv will be there about 3 1/2 weeks and she will fly home with Rachel at the end of August.

So that is the updates on the world travelers! Ray, Sarah and I are going to Florida in a couple of weeks to go to Brittany and Davi's wedding - Ray will be marrying them and Sarah will be a bridesmaid. That will be a nice/busy 5 day getaway. We are very excited for Bink and Davi. We finished up counseling and the ceremony details last night. They are an AMAZING couple that we LOVE so much! They are no doubt my children! Here is a picture of the soon to be married couple!

A week before Brittany and Davi's wedding Ray will marry my NIECE, Katie. Her and Justin are a PRECIOUS couple too and we are excited to see their journey start. Here is a picture on the day of her wedding shower. The girl cousins (missing 6)! Not an ugly 1 in the bunch!! The bride-to-be is the 3rd 1 on the right, on the back row.

Thought I might better put a few random 1's of Sarah and Liv - don't want to leave anyone out! This is Sarah and our new harp!

Liv bowling at Casey's birthday party!

Hannah and Austin are working and enjoying LIFE! They are 2 of the cutest people together. They have SO MUCH FUN together and are always doing something. They are constantly going - concerts, movies, plays, sporting events - they are very busy enjoying each other and building a wonderful relationship together. My last blog told about their 1 year festivities so here is a few pictures of their day in San Antonio.

This is of them EARLY that morning making the day drive to San Antonio

Hannah surprised Austin with "Lunch with Shamu" - it was great food and they loved it!

This is after a water ride! OH I love PICTURES!!

Them at a Ranger game - OK, I'm done with them. They just do so good taking pictures!

It will be a busy Summer for us all - it will go fast - it will be TEXAS HOT - it will be Summer 2009 - it will be a Summer to remember...

Stay cool, stay safe, stay sunscreened up, stay BLESSED! love to all!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Joys of getting OLDER!!

**disclaimer** -- could be TMI or too much information!

The joy's of getting older! Well today is the anniversary of my birth. 44 years ago today I was born - the 6th daughter in a family of 8 children. I have 1 sister and 1 brother younger so that makes 8. I have had a pretty good life for the most part. I was raised by a WONDERFUL Mother that is truly THE woman that I look up to the most. She had a tough life married to a man that was, lets say difficult but she did her best and I must say she raised 8 incredible children. All of us are pretty good people if I do say so myself. We all have loving spouses and 5 out of 8 of us have been married for longer then 25 years. My life really took on a very happy time when I met Ray, when I was 12. For the last 26 years of marriage I have had a DREAM of a life. Really wouldn't do-over 1 thing! NO REGRETS!!!

So what I am going to blog about is the joys of getting older. I am going to start with the "joys", when we all know that is a very sarcastic remark! If time permits I will talk about THE JOYS!! Speaking of time that will be the 1st joy that I will speak of - getting older I really have no internal time clock - it's 1:30am and I feel like my evening is just getting started. The house is STONE COLD quiet - well other then the 6 box fans running in every bedroom. I am up, alone. Hannah just went to bed because she has a big day today - her and her boyfriend are off to celebrate their 1st year together at Sea World. We personally think they have a lot to celebrate because we all know that the 1st yr. of anything is the toughest. OH HOW EXCITING and I think that is what got me reflecting on what I am going to share. So if at the end you would like to blame someone, blame Hannah and Austin.

Which by the way I would love to write a few sentences (HA) about how proud I am of both of them. Hannah waited for just the right fellow to come along, her very 1st boyfriend and the Lord brought her a very special guy, Austin. Some that know our family know that the whole boyfriend/girlfriend isn't taken lightly around here. You really must earn our daughters hand to date them. Austin has done that and then some. I have seen this young man really transform into a man before our eyes. He is the most caring, encouraging, doting, loving fellow to his girl that I have met, since Ray. Ray and I love seeing relationship grow and flourish. The wonderful thing about the Lord is our relationship with Him and with our loved 1's - never should stop growing. To see how much they have grown in just 1 year has been a testimony only to God. They also both lead each other to Jesus in so many ways. This has been the easiest year for Ray and I in being here for the 2 of them. They go to each other and to the Lord to figure out things and we just stand back and marvel. Hannah couldn't be a better girlfriend to him if she tried and I just love to see them together. They have kept a pure relationship before the Lord and HE is guiding it just the way HE wants. I don't know what the future holds but the Lord does and we will keep it in His hands. We also all ADORE him and his whole entire family!! It has been PURE JOY to get to know them all. SO, HAPPY 1st year together Hannah and Austin--it IS a big accomplishment and worth celebrating. You 2 are a true reflection of Jesus' love to each other.

So back to what I was talking about - wait, I forgot - OH THE JOY!!! HA! Anyway, I talked to my almost 79 yrs. old precious Mother today and we both, while laughing, came up with this conclusion.... WHY when we are younger/teenagers - do we want to get older? Then... comes Teddi pushing the baby carriage... those years with 5 children go on for a long time - lets talk about the pregnancies -- roughly, 1,350 days or 45 months or 3.75 YEARS of being pregnant. That's just the pregnancies - don't get me started on nursing, changing diapers, teething, training, potty training, and on and on and on. Forget that I homeschooled them ALL! SO, we came to the conclusion that we have our child hood - then we hit adulthood and family stuff comes - then they get grown or are close to it and stuff in our body starts to change. The gray hair, the unwanted hairs, the thinning hair, the unwanted spots, the unbalanced hormones, the weight gain, the wrinkles, the insomnia, the not being able to see close and all the other things that my daughters would kill me if I discussed.

These are some of the joys of getting older. I have 5 older sisters as I mentioned and they are every single 1 of them some of the most wonderful women and mothers. The great, funny, comforting thing is - we are all going through this "getting older" thing together. It's quite funny to hear our conversations now. Not so many years ago we were talking about our babies and now we are talking about what progesterone cream works for them, what vitamins we should be taking, helping each other wash that GRAY out of our hair, what strength each others bifocals are and so many other things. I am SO grateful to have them because I can call any of them and they know what I am going through even if our symptoms aren't the same. To have 8 close sisters (including my sister-in-law, even though she isn't 40 yet and probably can still do a backwards handspring, but we all still LOVE her and know her time is coming - HA!!) the most awesome thing is - what 1 hasn't experienced, the other 1 has. I love that my girls have each other and will always have each other!!

Back to the point if there is 1. My 2nd sister, "the college grad", and she is very intelligent even though for the life of me I can't teach her photoshop,(ssshh, she's over 50) HA! She has been the most help to me. We haven't had a ton of convos about it all but 1 of the wise words of advice - that I probably run through my head every other day, she said, "Teddi, you just have to laugh about it"! Simple wisdom, aah, just what I needed. I need to remember when the hot flashes come, just laugh about it. Another beauty of "getting older" is the time will come that we will have A LOT more time to learn photoshop and many other interests we all have. But of all the blessings that I wouldn't give a $1,000,000 for -- it is having the most supportive husband that will sit and read a book about women being per-menopausal. He will laugh with me and he tells me every single time I have a new thing come up in the aging process. He says - I'm gonna love you till your last breath or mine, I don't care about anything but YOU! He is a rare gem out there and I think we will do just fine through this joyous time of aging. I see now why people say your 50's are so wonderful because you have the children birthed, the children raised, the children married (maybe) and then the JOYS of grandparenting which will make ALL of this worth while!! I can't wait for those days!! I have to see that this is just part of it. I can pray for this to be an easy transition, and I do but what comes my way WILL make me stronger because I am determined for it not to get the BEST of me!!

Happy Birthday to me! I am grateful to GOD for my health, even for the changing of the "seasons of my life", for my FAMILY, for my children, for my husband but especially for Jesus - without Him I could have done nothing that I have done in the 1st 44 years of my life. I am so grateful to have been born to Christian parents that raised me to love Jesus and then to have grown up to serve that Jesus. Then to have a husband to walk this journey of life WITH, 5 amazing children that all LIVE for the LORD! It's been a wonderful, wonderful life. So the joys of my life FAR outweigh the "joys" of getting older. I have so many more things to do in this life of mine and I can hardly wait. 1 thing that comes with age is learning to be patient and I think I am doing pretty good with that 1. So today my husband will shower me with love and he will make the day ALL about me. He will plan secrets along the day and he will wait on me hand and foot. Because I expect it, nope, because he is just that wonderful, he is just that cherishing and he is just that selfless. It will be a wonderful day and I can only hope and pray that everyone will have 1/2 the great life that I have had. So daughters of mine and ALL the bonus daughters - enjoy EVERY season of your life. I've said it before, it goes SO FAST! Make every opportunity count, for eternity! See life's challenges and with God - conquer them. It is worth it ALL to serve such a great and mighty God. He created each and every 1 of us SO different and wonderful. Love yourself because He loves you SO, SO, SO much! You couldn't be any more precious in His eyes then you are this VERY second. Serve Him with EVERYTHING inside of you. It is WORTH IT!!!

If you are over 40 and have any advice or secrets to this joyous time, feel free to share - we ALL need sisters to help each other out. If your under 40, I don't want to hear it! HA, just kidding (not really)! Just enjoy your life, you single ladies and young Mothers - all the seasons are SO SPECIAL in their own right! Also, have mercy on us older people. We were as young and hip as you - once upon a time, heck I think I am still pretty hip! But we had our glory years (I tell my girls I have passed the torch to them) but now we are in our GOLDEN years!!! You will be here sooner then you think so be kind to your older parents - we are usually much wiser then you (I always am, HA!) and as for Ray he will always be much cooler then you! This is about women even though men can for sure chime in but maybe soon we will talk about the changes in men!! HA!! I will dictate some of Ray's thoughts on that because you guys aren't immune to all the fun!! It's all for FUN isn't it, it's all 1 big journey and shouldn't we all enjoy the ride with as much dignity and worth and humor that we can find?!?! Thank God He has a sense a humor - just look around - He does, trust me!!!

Thank you Lord for another WONDERFUL, AMAZING, BLESSED and JOYOUS year of LIFE!

P.S. -- 1 praise report that I didn't share is that I AM proudly 44 and I still don't need Grandma glasses. I am very PROUD of that - my arm is still long enough to stretch out for me to see things (if your over 40 you understand). The few times I have needed a little magnification - it was ONLY because the type was much to little, HA. So, I am holding out as long as I can for that 1. Oh course I need glasses to see far so...