Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Party Girl

My girl is growing up...last weekend was Sophie’s first ballet performance that was not just a mere 15 second toe tapping spin in a circle exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade the hours and hours and hours of sitting through ballet recitals for her 15 seconds of glory for anything. I always am proud of my girl, but this was a whole different kind of deal. This was the Allen Civic Ballet’s Nutcracker and Sophie was one of the Party Girls. She was absolutely stunning (did you notice the hair) and did a wonderful job preforming her parts. As I watched the show I experienced a wow sort of moment and had to reconcile with myself that my girl is growing up.


Saturday, November 21, 2009


It is not Halloween here, just the middle of summer back in 2004 when my sweet Sophie was only 3. Girls love to dress-up and any time is a good occasion. Not sure what Sophie is here...half ladybug, half clown maybe?

I am thankful for the Clark girls’ friendship in my daughter’s life. It has been such a joy watching them grow up together.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Sophia, Tanner, Jacob, Colin
Summer 2007

"You only meet your once in a lifetime friend... once in a lifetime."
~ from Little Rascals

The first time Jacob and Colin met was when Jake was 6 months and Colin 4 months. I flew to Corpus Christi to spend the weekend with Vicki. This was the first time Vicki and I would be together with our babies. We were "moms" now! I felt like a real grown-up. I think all we did the entire weekend was nurse our babies and talk. Not the way it is when we get together now. With 7 children between us, talking doesn't exactly happen. We have to yell to be heard over the chaos around us. Colin and Tanner are like brothers to Jacob. He would rather be with those boys than any other person on earth.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Life

There are rarely pictures of only me. How could there be when I am the one with the camera adorning my neck like a piece of jewelry. So during our spring break camp out Jacob stole the camera while I was enjoying God’s creation and a great book. He took dozens of pictures and shot this one of me. It is not cropped or edited….hmm, I may have a little photographer on my hands.

Every day there is something I want to blog about, a great accomplishment of someone in our family, a cute picture of one of my beautiful children, a fun family camping trip we took, a deep thought or conviction I want to share, our chicken mummy (Yes, we really made one.), but many other things end up taking priority over my blog. You know, all the jobs of wife, mommy, homemaker, and teacher; the dishes, laundry, homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, carpooling, drying of tears, wiping of noses (and bottoms), being referee, etc., etc., etc. And then making the time for all the sweet things, like taking a walk, going to the park, having a picnic, making a garden, playing with play-do, coloring a picture, or teaching Sophie one of the many handicrafts she is begging me to learn.

This may sound exhausting on paper, but I love it! I want to be available for all of the little teachable moments. The internet, e-mail, blog, telephone, or even a good book can so easily distract me from my biggest job and most important people whom God has so graciously blessed me with. I can’t handle regrets very well. I do not want the regret, in fifteen years when my kids are grown, that I was just too busy with my own agenda to truly enjoy them, to savor every minute I have with them. Yes, I always appreciate a date night with Ed or my monthly book club with friends. But I have found, since I started homeschooling two and a half years ago, the more I am home and with my kids, the less I desire “me” time or time away from them. They drive me crazy on a daily basis. But I’ve grown to enjoy my crazy life, my crazy kids, and my crazy family. The day will come when I have time to sit at my computer and share our life with many of you. In the meantime, continue to enjoy my sporadic postings.

No, we do not live in Uncertain, Texas, but certainly could not pass up the photo opportunity while exploring on our recent family camping trip.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Baby

In ten short weeks Viv will no longer be the baby. Being several years younger than Jacob and Sophie, she is catered to and cared for by everybody in the family. I might even admit she is a little spoiled and tends to get away with a bit more than the older two. But they don’t care because they baby her too and will often defend her coming to her protection when she’s in trouble. So what will life be like for Vivian when she is no longer the baby? Only time will tell but my guess is she’s ready to grow up and be a big sister too.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Christmas That Counts

Several months ago Ethiopia and her orphans became heavy on our hearts. We began to research ministries who reach and care for the many “least of these” in this country. We were pleased to find YWAM Ethiopia. YWAM Ethiopia reaches some of the most desperate orphans and widows.

Both Gretchen and I have served with and know well this wonderful ministry. YWAM is a ministry that serves in the US as well as around the world to offer God’s love in action to those in need. Gretchen was trained at YWAM Denver and has served in Guatemala’s remote villages and I partnered with YWAM Dallas serving the inner city youth program. Our relationship with this ministry extends over seventeen years.

Ever bought someone a goat or laying hens for Christmas?? We would ask that you consider supporting YWAM Ethiopia this holiday season as they impact REAL people this year. We have included some links buttons on our blog which will give details to the many opportunities.

To support a specific child or widow see the “Operation Giggle” button. The deadline for packages to be mailed is November 13, less than TWO weeks!

To purchase livestock or other needed items click on the “That We Might Be Adopted” button and then on the “Gift Catalog” button. Your gifts will be purchased in Ethiopia by their in-country representatives and distributed to those who need them most. No administrative fees will be deducted - 100% of your dollars will be used for widows, orphans and families.

Reformation Day

One of our newer family traditions is to go camping over Halloween weekend. All you have to do when you take something away is to give back something even better and camping, to our kids, is much better than trick-or-treating or attending one of the over crowded alternative functions at a local church. Plus, they never miss “Halloween” because they don’t see all the other children in the neighborhood dressing up and walking up and down the streets. So it is October 31 today and we are not camping. We had it all planned out, the place, the food, the friends we invited to go with us. What happened to the tradition? I chickened out. I absolutely love to camp, especially now that we have a pop-up camper. However, the thought of being 30 weeks pregnant and using a port-a potty twenty times a day and multiple times a night just did me in. A family camping trip will have to wait for spring. So we took away camping this weekend but are still having fun. We had a family day! The kids look forward to family nights when we will play games, watch a movie, or go somewhere special together. But today we had an entire day. We started with donuts for breakfast to get them good and sugared up since we were already depriving them of trick-or-treat candy. Then we packed a picnic lunch and headed for a local trail park. There are things I miss about the north, like the turning of the leaves and four seasons, but love that here in the south we have “beautiful enjoy the outdoor days weather” year round. We have a week long forecast of clear blue skies and 70 degrees. So today we walked, hiked, explored, discovered, and enjoyed our time together.


Building a dam.

Sophie had a little nature backpack and notebook with her and took the time to sketch and label many things she found interesting. These included poison ivy, wild mushrooms, an ant hill, animal den and poison oak vines.

Dad sacrifices himself to provide a clean table for the kids to set their food.

After our day at the park we headed to our church for a Reformation Day cookout and worship service where we ate, worshipped together, and watched clips of a historical movie about Martin Luther.

But this was not the end!

So regarding the above mentioned no “trick or treating” thing. When we got to the church for the cookout, I could not help but notice the unusual amount of Chipotle burritos that everyone was eating. In fact, I wondered if maybe the church had decided to splurge and provide Chipotle, yeeee haw. However, that was not the case. We were informed that Chipotle, which by the way is pronounced (chi-poht-ley) see, was giving, yes giving away free burritos, bowls, or tacos to anyone coming into the store adorned with aluminum foil. Now you and I both know that “wearing” foil on Halloween is kinda like dressing up. So what to do???? I hope y’all don’t think I am too pious to pass up free Chipotle over this. Heck, if they said I had to shove aluminum foil up my nose to get a free burrito, I would have been happy to do so. So we did, and had a great time together in the process. The last thing my three year old said to me when I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight was, “Thank you Daddy, I had a really, really lot of fun time today.

Thank you Lord for a great family and a fun day, and thank you Chipotle for the free burritos.


The History of Reformation Day

In late October, people all over the Western world dress up in costumes, attend parties, and consume handfuls of candy. Yet whether or not families join in on the Halloween festivities, very few recall one of the most significant events that ever happened on October 31. On that fall day in 1517, a young monk named Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, which addressed the abuses of the sale of indulgences and which provided the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

Many churches standing in the heritage of the Reformation commemorate this momentous occasion as Reformation Day on the last Sunday of October each year. Luther’s magnificent hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” is usually sung in worship services across the world as well as “For All the Saints” in order to remember all those who have gone before us. Churches with a more liturgical flavor use the color red to mark the occasion. Reformation Day continues to be a public holiday in several German states.

The celebration of Halloween remains a debated subject among evangelicals, but no one can dispute the influence of Martin Luther. He is one of the most important figures in Western history, as his thought has impacted family life, politics, church-state relations, individual liberties, and a host of other societal issues. His translation of the Bible is a high-point of biblical scholarship and did much to shape the development of the German language.

Comparable to Luther is John Calvin, another major figure of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin provided one of the most important summarizations of Christian theology in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, and his thought shaped the worldview of many of the earliest Americans. Economists recognize the reformer’s importance in laying the foundation for capitalism. Calvin’s work also influenced the Westminster Confession — the doctrinal basis for Presbyterians. Their system of church governance in turn is reflected in the judicial system described in the United States Constitution.

Luther and Calvin’s powerful expositions of the Gospel remain their most important legacy. Though earlier individuals such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus would call for reform in the church, Luther’s forceful personality and Calvin’s brilliant systematization guaranteed reform would become widespread. In an era when the Gospel had been eclipsed by a system of human merit, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the other reformers were able to remind the people of God that we are declared righteous in the sight of the Lord through faith alone in the person and work of Christ Jesus.

The widespread acceptance of watered-down doctrine and uncritical ecumenism in our day demonstrates how we cannot take biblical teaching for granted. Luther and Calvin were willing to die if necessary for the biblical Gospel, but many today simply ignore the doctrine of justification through faith alone by grace alone because of Christ alone. This year, let us remember the work of our forefathers on Reformation day and strive, as they did, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We have been busy. Our last post was over six months ago, but for good reason, baby Carel. We found out we were pregnant Mother's Day weekend and life has been about survival since then. The first and second trimesters are way too eventful for Gretchen. We have 12 weeks to go so are on the home stretch and life is getting back to normal (whatever that is.) So we hope to have some new posts soon and some older ones that have been on standby.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

San Diego

Ed, We love you, miss you, and can't wait for you to join the fun on Friday. We are having a great time, but a vacation is not a vacation without the daddy. The kids will be so surprised and happy to see you Saturday morning.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dinner Guest - Part 2

Lawrence did show up for dinner. Jacob greeted him at his car saying, jambo, which is hello in the Kiswahili language. Lawrence greeted back saying, jambo, jambo. He looked at Jacob with surprise and asked how he knew. We later learned that he does not speak Kiswahili, the native language for Kenya.

We had a fabulous time and were sad to see him leave. I truly believe we were blessed more by him than he was by us. Isn’t this the way it so often works? Lawrence is a strong believer, so we didn’t spend our time witnessing to him. We asked many questions about Kenya and he in turn drilled us on America. Many things confused him about our country, our wealth, credit system, personal spending, welfare system, eating habits, our president, and work ethic or lack of it. I was impressed with all he knew of our country. The things that boggled him and questions he asked were embarrassing to me. It made me ashamed of the abundance we take for granted in America. What a reminder of how easy it is to get sucked into materialism and over indulgence.

Lawrence has been in the US for six months and says he cannot keep up with our eating habits. His co-workers take breaks between their meals for snacks, “They eat all day,” he said. He couldn’t understand why people would pay $2 for a bus instead of walking an hour each way like he did the first few months here, he now has a car. Lawrence is 27 years old, the oldest of 9 children, all of whom are still alive. He calls home to Kenya every day and sends money to his mother to provide seeds and beans for planting. He said Kenya is the best place in the world to live if you have money. For this reason, and this reason alone, he is in America. He was a tour guide in Kenya so knew much about the country. He told stories of men from his village who kill lions with only spears. He explained how the tribe will make a circle around the lion and everyone throws their spear. Men always die, but the one who kills becomes respected among their village. They don’t all make it back to the village. More will be attacked and killed on their way home. Yikes! Real live Africa stories. This stuff really happens.

Vivian has always had a fear of adults with darker skin, even though she has an uncle, cousin, and a few friends with brown skin who she loves. We all wondered if she would even sit in her own chair at dinner. She, on her own accord, climbed into his arms, let him carry her and throw her in the air. Jacob and Sophie introduced Lawrence to the trampoline. He has never seen one before and was fearful to get on it. He was worried that it would not hold him, so Ed got on and jumped first. Once he got on and the fear vanished, he turned into a crazy man. He kept saying, “This is so much fun.” I seriously thought he would never get off.

In Kenya, his church worshiped on Saturdays and lasted most of the day. He doesn’t understand why Americans are in such a rush to get out of church after only an hour or so. We told him this was necessary to beat all the other “in a rush” church goers to the buffet line at the local restaurant. He understood. We suggested he visit my sister’s church which is very similar to his home traditions and practices, he was very excited and plans to visit soon. I was excited and surprised to find out that the pastor’s wife is from Kenya and there is much ethnic diversity with several immigrants from Africa. He has had a hard time in his search of a good church. I really hope he connects there.

To give him an authentic introduction to Texas, we are taking him to the Mesquite Championship Rodeo which is a must experience if you are ever in Texas. We are looking forward to what God does with this new relationship and hope to get to know Lawrence better. We have explained and shown our kids the unique gift of looking beyond ourselves, what a joy this has been.

I had to include some fun food pictures of our dinner. Rosemary beef pot pie is one of our family favorites, along with Caesar salad, homemade yeast rolls, and a deep dish apple pie for the finale. Yummy!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dinner Guest - Part 1

We are honored to have a very special dinner guest this coming Friday night. Lawrence is his name. I don’t know his last name, his age, where he lives, what he believes, or what he likes or dislikes. I do know he works at Central Market, is from Kenya, has lived in the US for six months, and speaks three languages. I would guess his age to be around 22.

Lawrence checked us out while shopping at Central Market this afternoon. Jacob noticed his name tag stated "Kenya" under his name. He said, “Mom, that’s funny. Last week we had Ethiopia and this week we have Kenya.” Lawrence laughed. We are studying Africa so the kids get excited when they meet somebody from a country we just studied. Sometimes it’s not so easy to know where a person is from. But Lawrence announced it to us right on his tag, so I took full advantage and asked him questions the entire time he checked us out. The way he spoke English, I was shocked to learn he has only been here for six months. So of course I asked and he said he learned it while in college. English is his third language. He also speaks French. He came here alone, lives alone, and is lonely. How do I know he is lonely? I asked him. So we told him goodbye and packed our groceries into the car. I started to reverse out of the parking space when I looked back at the kids and said, “Hey, let’s invite Lawrence to dinner this weekend.” I went back to his checkout line and invited him to dinner. Actually, I told him I was married and that my husband, the kids and I would like to invite him over for an American dinner. Without hesitance, he accepted and told me thank you. I asked him to tell us everything he knows about Kenya when he comes.

I recently read a book titled Fields of the Fatherless by C. Thomas Davis. The book talks about planting seeds of hope in the lives of those in need. A specific line that struck me reads, “One person has the ability to completely revolutionize the life of an abandoned child, a foreigner who is here to study or to work, a single mom, or an elderly widow. Your creative energy could be the very thing that helps her or him keep going and even experience God’s love for the first time.” A living sacrifice starts with being sensitive to those God brings to your attention. I know God brought this young man to my attention. Please pray with me for our time with Lawrence that our family will be a witness of true Christianity to him.

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Piano Girl

Note I got from from Sophie's piano instructor: She did fantastic at the last festival, by the way. You should be very proud of her. It is very hard to get a purple ribbon, Superior + rating!

Jake's four leaf clover

What do you do on a beautiful fall afternoon at Grammy’s house……yep clover hunt. Trust me when I say this is not a symptom of boredom, but rather a game of hide and seek with nature. Jake loves to climb the 60 foot tall pines near the front porch and then scour about for the mystical four leaf clover. This particular afternoon mission was accomplished with trusty side kicks Grammy, Sophie, and Viv. The hunt lasted less than an hour and the reclusive clover didn’t stand a chance with such a seasoned team. The latent joy of such a find might be missed any other place, but not at Grammy’s house.

History of the four-leaf clover:

The four leaf clover is a universally accepted symbol of good luck with its origin ages old. According to legend, Eve carried a four leaf clover from the Garden of Eden.

"The clovers also occupied a position in the cultural life of early peoples. White clover in particular was held in high esteem by the early Celts of Wales as a charm against evil spirits." Clover Science and Technology". N.L. Taylor, 1985.

Druids held the 4 leaf clover in high esteem and considered them a sign of luck. In 1620, Sir John Melton wrote: "If a man walking in the fields find any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.

The mystique of the four leaf clover continues today, since finding a real four leaf clover is still a rare occurrence and omen of good luck.