Friday, August 14, 2009

Ms. Olivia Grace Baker

Today is the day that Olivia Grace turns 17 years old! OH MY!! To think that I was married at 17... She was born at 3 something (HA) in the afternoon but I do know she was 8lbs 14oz. - for some reason I can remember all of the kids weights but really nothing else, stat wise. I do remember their birthday even though I pause often to think about it. It's funny because Liv told me a few weeks ago - Mom, i was 8/14 on 8-14 - WOW, numbers are something that I usually think about when I see them like that but in 17 years, it had never dawned on me. Anyway, she is #4 and the baby of the girls. She held the "baby of the family" (which she use to say so fast and cute) for 8 years. Since her and Hannah are only 14 1/2 mths apart they both kinda shared the baby spot. We actually called them "the babies" for years - like till they were pre-teens. It was way easier to say "where are the babies" or "go get the babies" - so it stuck. Ray still every now and then will call them the babies. So, graciously Liv gave that spot up when Grant came along. She was the CUTEST little girl that you ever did see. Oddly enough she was VERY blond as a little girl (now it ain't so natural). I thought it was crazy that Ray and I would have a blondie when we both have/had such dark hair. Her and Hannah looked absolutely nothing alike. Hannah had the DARKEST hair and the blackest eyes and she is very fair skinned - Liv was the opposite. NOBODY ever believed me that they were sisters but OH YES they are.

I have wrote blogs about Olivia a few times before and I could repeat everything I said - X's a million so I thought, what could I say different today, on her birthday... It is early evening and I haven't wanted to start this because I just didn't know how I wanted to write it. I thought of a few things but nothing would do her justice. You see, she is special - I know, no shock for me to say that but she REALLY is special!! Some of the things I may write she may not even remember or I may not have shared them with her so I am going to begin to share with you and her, and see if I can do her justice.

Hannah was 5 1/2 mths. old when I became pregnant with Olivia. Some could say she was a SURPRISE but she wasn't. For the years that we had gotten pregnant WE had always taken control of when we would have another child. Well after Ms. Hannah was born I began to search the word and search my heart and discuss with Ray about this area of our life. We started to talk about ALL the blessings that we GLADLY will take from the Lord, anytime - financial blessing, health, wisdom, marital prosperity - but when it came to THE MOST amazing, beautiful & incredible blessing of all - we say when, why, how and WHEN! Let me just say I am NOT against birth control, in the least. But for that time the LORD had a plan for Ms. Olivia to come into this world and so He began to show us a different plan. Well we decided that we would trust Him because He was always for us, He always had our VERY best future plan - so we did. SO, 1 mth. later guess who is pregnant? YEP, ME! I was like - what, excuse me!? I would have dialogue with the Lord, "Umm, we had a deal here God - umm, NOW? REALLY?" So I began to question that I had heard from the Lord on this 1 - Ray didn't care if I had or hadn't, he LOVES his children and the more was ok with him. So would you say, "she wasn't planned"? or "she was an oops" but I would have to TOTALLY disagree! God Almighty in His perfect wisdom knew SO MUCH MORE perfectly then I (that isn't a shock to any, I know). He knocked my socks off with just how PERFECT a plan it was. For all of us "planners" this is tough but HE is THE PLANNER and I couldn't imagine Hannah without her Liv...

So now I will explain and ponder through tears I am sure what our family and life would have been without our Olivia. If I would have kept control - this is what WE all would have missed out on. We wouldn't have 2 precious babies in a crib, in the same room. Sarah wouldn't have had "HER baby" (because Hannah was Rachel's). Hannah wouldn't have someone to sleep with in a little twin bed, for YEARS. I wouldn't have had a blonde haired child. We wouldn't have pairs - Rach & Sarah - Han & Liv. Hannah wouldn't have someone to play dolls with. Sarah wouldn't have a few week old baby to hoist over the side of a crib and bring to me. She also wouldn't be as amazing with babies/children as she is. Rachel wouldn't have 1 on each hip. Ray wouldn't have someone to call liv, liv. I wouldn't have someone to match clothes with, like they were twins. Hannah wouldn't have someone to clean up after her - neither would Sarah or the rest of us. Grant wouldn't have "the prettiest sister", sshh, he's partial to blondes. Grant also wouldn't have someone to help him read. I wouldn't have 1 of the best organizers around. Hannah wouldn't have someone to tell ALL her hopes & dreams to. Sarah wouldn't have someone to tease. We wouldn't have someone to make cookies & brownies. Austin wouldn't have someone to cut his hair. Rachel wouldn't have someone that can clean as well as her to work for her. Casey, Ali, Kim and countless other people wouldn't have a bestfriend named Olivia. I wouldn't have someone to do my hair and eye makeup when we are dressing up. I wouldn't have a child that NEVER questions a request, NEVER! Ray wouldn't have an outfielder in softball. We all wouldn't have someone to laugh at till we cry. We all wouldn't have someone to laugh at when she sings every song so passionately (sorry, it's funny). SO many people, girls and guy alike wouldn't have Liv to help them pick out clothes at the store. Forever 21 would not be as successful. The local theaters would not be as successful. I think you get the picture...

Oh life without her would have been, not so amazing. Because those are some of the silly things but the things that I could share all day are the things that MAKE her the rarest of ALL GEMS!!! Olivia is truly the glue that keeps our little family unit together. If you asked Rachel, Sarah and Hannah who they are closest to - it would be Olivia. She has this ability to LOVE, SERVE and GIVE like very few can. I have said before and they would ALL agree, if I was to pick the very best qualities from Rach, Sarah & Hannah and roll it up into 1 person - it's Olivia. She is a JOY and a DELIGHT to parent. She brings JOY to our family like only she can. She lights up a room with her amazing personality and she is always the life of the party! Her humor is SO contagious. Liv is much like her other 3 sisters have been - far older then their age. If I was to name her friends that are her age on 1 hand it would be 2. All of her friends are much older then herself and they are all amazing people to boot. She has learned some AMAZING qualities from the people in her life and I am thankful to God for that. I could never explain to someone what I feel in my heart for her. She is NOT perfect and I would never want to pin perfection on anyone because that fall is devastating but she is practically perfect, HA - just kidding. I think of all the parents that have 17 somethings and I am SO BEYOND grateful for God's AMAZING "Grace" for all my children. Speaking of Grace - if she has any regrets about the day of her birth - it's that I didn't name her Grace!! She is quite partial to that name and I wish I would have to. It's really impossible to have people stop calling you what they always have. But her name is what she is - gracious. It also mean unmerited favor which is what she walks in. Ray and I are SO glad that God gave us our AMAZING "Grace"!! She is our SUNSHINE.

She has GREATNESS and destiny inside her! She will be and is an endtime warrior for the glory of God's KINGDOM!! She started rough with her walk. Liv was my only 1 out of the 4 that wasn't quite so sure about this dude, Jesus. I would talk to her about Him, just like I did the others - when she was 5 and under. I would ask her, "Liv, do you love Jesus"? she would say, "NO - I don't even see Him". HA!! What a spitfire she was and is. She warmed up to Him and began to read the Bible for herself, she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior around 7. Always in our home the children were learning Godly principles and Godly character - that was a norm, way before WWJD. She started to search out HER own real relationship with the Lord when she was about 12. I have seen her grow in her walk so much in these 5 years. She is truly an awesome woman of God. She passionately pursues Christ - she shares her love for Him, wherever she goes - she LOVES His people and is running a race that will never stop! I have wrote before about the servant that she is. She humbles me at her willingness to serve!!

SO Ms. Olivia Grace - the BEST is yet to come!! Your fella will come looking and find a PRIZE, 1 day. I have an awesome picture that the Lord dropped into my spirit about your future. It is bright, it is SO bright and WONDERFUL! I look forward to seeing your future unfold. I am SO GRATEFUL that I got picked to be your Momma! If I could pick from ALL the 4th children in heaven - I would pick YOU! I know my time is short to have you here with me and Dad but we will have such INCREDIBLE memories of this little blonde bombshell that will shake nations for the glory of our KING! I love you Liv - I am so proud of the standards you have, you will have a GREAT reward. Happy Birthday Shugar!

Here are a few pics of the Birthday girl!! Here is a RECENT 1 of her in ISRAEL!
Pretty as a picture!


And a few of her as a wee little girl~

Her and her guy (for now) - on their way to ISRAEL!

Her and Rach - #1 sis
Sarah and the BD girl

And a few of her and Han because there is just too many to choose from!

Liv and Grant - ahhh!
Liv and Austin - her other guy (Hannah's bf)

A sidenote to my girls - if you have a burning in your spirit and soul & you know it is the leading of the Lord - pray, seek God - talk to your husband, pray with him. Because you may just be in the beginning stages of birthing out a princess or a prince that will not be an accident - far from it - she or he could bring you more joy then you could EVER, EVER, EVER imagine. I am once again - thankful that Dad and I can hear the Lord's voice and heard it about our Olivia!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Israel is on our mind...

In has been quite some time since I have blogged. If you don't count the birthday tributes it's been too, too long. SO MANY things have gone on this summer and I hate that many will be forgotten. We all can say that they are a memory but OH BOY do our memories fade. I HATE THAT!! I love to take pictures to have all of our memories spurred on - about an event. Video is even better but man do we stink at that lately! Blogging is best or if I enjoyed writing by hand it would be journaling - if I did that NOBODY, not even me, would be able to read about the event - because the handwriting isn't the same as my curvy, swirly days. So where must I start - I really have no clue. That isn't good for a mind that races a 1,000,000 miles a minute. I will try to think back and start with the head of the house and work my way down.

The head of our home - the big cheese - the funny 1 - the 1st man in all of our daughters lives - the very MOST AMAZING man that I know. I will start with him, yes, it's only fitting to start with the most important person to me (since I am the 1 writing)! Ray has a very, very, very exciting event that is coming up in 5 DAYS. He is going on his DREAM vacation to ISRAEL!! YAY!! He is beside himself with excitement and I am SO beyond happy for HIM! As all of my blogger followers know, #1 daughter is living in Israel for the summer with the Benjamin family. She has been there already 2 months and she has a little under 1 month to go. Olivia, #4, has had a ticket since before Rachel left to go to Israel August 8th! She was planning on making the trip by herself and then return with Rachel on August 30th. WELL, before Rachel left and after Olivia got her ticket all of us girls got together and thought - wouldn't it be wonderful if we could send Dad with Liv... We didn't know how it would or could happen but we all prayed about it and dreamed that maybe, with the Lord's help, he could possibly GO! So, with all 4 girls working & a few other people pitching in and I made up the last little bit - we DID IT!! So he is leaving this coming Saturday, the 8th of August! He will be gone for 15 days. He will be with 2 of his daughters. He will be staying with dear friends. AND he will encounter the Holy Land!! The bible that he eats, drinks and sleeps - will come ALIVE! I predict he will constantly be in shambles with the emotion of what he is being honored to see but he will FOREVER be changed after this experience. I am SO EXCITED for him! Do I wish I was going - YES but if 1 of us can go I want it to be HIM! I truly believe that this is a reward from the Lord for Ray! I know I have described how amazing and selfless and humble and precious and EVERY OTHER ADJECTIVE out there but all I can say is this is a reward from heaven! For the 26 years that we have been married the man doesn't take much time off of work. If we go on vacation he STILL answers the phone! The only time that he has had off for more then a week is when he had emergency surgery on his appendix! He is such a hard worker for our family and this is HIS TIME! Work is slow right now even though the Lord continues to provide for our family but it is a good time to be away for 2 weeks so the Lord set that up for him. The only glitch in it at all is the 26 years that we have been married - we have NEVER been away from each other more then 4 nights in a row. SO, this will be slightly tough!! He will be SO busy and Grant will have camp the 1st week and then football - the 2nd week Grant starts school and football. So, we will be busy here! This weekend he did some work around the house that he knew I had been wanting done - he just couldn't leave with me not comfortable in the house. He truly is the most rare gem!! So, please keep him and Liv and Rach in your prayers. They are going to experience something that I think the Lord honors very few to see. They go with NO FEAR, only anticipation of a trip of a lifetime. I am SO happy that he is going to be there with 2 of our children. Olivia is my child that gets SO EXCITED about things and Rachel is our child that marvels at the people she loves, being blessed. She told me, "Mom, I can't wait for them to get here and see what I have seen because it's like a GREAT movie - you love it just as much the 2nd time when you experience it with someone for their 1st time". Leave it to my child to describe it like a movie! We all like a GREAT MOVIE!! So, this week will be full of last minute shopping and packing and excitement and gratefulness! Rachel will see her Daddy and precious sister - family is what she is needing right now. I will stay and hold the fort down with the others kiddos and a few extras. Ray and Liv will go to the beginning of where everything happened that is important to us! What a grateful heart I feel to the Lord, He is SO GOOD to me and my family!!

Just a bit about Rachy. I have started 2 blogs about her time in Israel and I haven't finished either 1 of them - OH BOY! She is doing WONDERFUL. She is LOVING her time in Israel and is having a bit of a hard time thinking about leaving a land that she has grown to love more and more. She knows that the Lord gave her these 3 months to stamp her for eternity and what a grateful soul she is. She misses her family, her friends, her bed, American food, air conditioning, driving a car - but there isn't anything that can compare to being near to the people that the Lord has called you to pray for, the Jewish people! SO, I think coming home will be a transition but she knows she has work to do here too. If it's just to work to plan another trip - that works too. We have missed her SO MUCH this Summer but there is nothing like God's AMAZING GRACE! Of course skype is wonderful too - I'm so grateful for skype. It's so great for her to come in from a day filled with AMAZING memories and for her to share them with us while they are FRESH on her mind. So that is a bit of what is going on with Ms. Rachel. Here is a few pictures of her time in Israel.

This is the family that Rachel is staying with. The parents - Gary and Jerri, and then their son Preston. Their daughters Courtney and Destiny came for a surprise visit for 2 weeks with their sons Shiloh and Judah. Rachel has been in WONDERFUL hands with people that are now family to her and our whole family.
This is a window that is in the Prayer Room at Succat Hallel - it looks out over Jerusalem and faces the Temple Mount (the gold dome).

This is a picture of the Western Wall (wailing Wall). You can see the men are on the left and then a wall separates them from the women.

This is the Dead Sea and Mineral Beach.

This is a picture of Shiloh - the 1st permanent place where there was a sanctuary built to house the ark of the covenant. Many, many other things happened in this city. To think that this was most likely the holy of holies! WOW!This is a brief video clip of Shiloh

This is the Temple Mount and Ms. Rachel

The Tower of David - near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Eastern Gate!

This is very few pictures that she has taken but a few highlights for me.

So, that is a enough for this blog I believe. Sarah I just wrote about on her birthday. Hannah is looking for a job and loving life with Austin. Grant is playing pee-wee football and loving it - and he starts 4th grade very soon. I am loving being a wife, Mother and mostly a child of the Most High! Grandma is feeling wonderful and blessing us with every day that she is with us.

I will leave you with a couple of my favorite scriptures that are very fitting for this blog -- the 1st 1 is what the Benjamins and Rachel are doing in Israel - "I have posted watchemen on your walls, O Jerusalem, they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth" Isaiah 62:6&7 and then a short by powerful scripture that God actually said if you do this I will prosper you - Psalm 122:6. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper". The Father loves Israel - it's amazing to think on that.

That's a wrap on the life and times of "The Bakers" - for now. I know I should blog more because I can sit here and think of many things I have NOT blogged about that were important! But hey, I do the best I can!!

~Much love to all!