Visit with Nana

Way back in July, my mother was able to come for a visit. I’m just now getting around to sharing about it. We didn’t really do anything big while she was here. The kids played several games of Scrabble with her. We went to the library’s summer reading program activity, which was a singing duo called “The Sugar Free All Stars”. She watched some movies with the kids, listened to them all play their instruments and she read books to them. Of course, she got to hear the world’s greatest preacher while she was in town. ;)

On her last day, I realized that I had’t gotten any photos! I wanted to capture some memories, so I called everyone together and we snapped a few.


Matthew likes using Terry’s compass for all sorts of things. It can be a radio, a laser gun and even a phone! Here, he had to take a “phone call” on the compass right before we snapped some photos.


Where’s Lauren?


There she is. It took us a while to get everyone gathered round.


Nana and a few fans.



Laci loves to climb the tree in front of our house.


Me and mi madre. Oh! While mom was here, I went down and got my hair colored! I am trying to go back to my natural color, which has gotten pretty dark over the years. However, this is quite an adjustment when you’ve been highlighting your hair for years.(Guilty!) It’s fading quite a bit now so it’s not as shocking to me as it was at first.

After we snapped some outdoor shots, we went inside. The glare of the sun on the driveway was really making it hard not to squint or close our eyes.


The whole gang with Nana. Yes, Matthew is still holding his compass– I mean phone!

Even though we didn’t do anything fancy while Nana was here, we enjoyed just having her with us. She loves being with her grandchildren, whether we’re out and about or just snuggling on the sofa. And the feeling is mutual.



Vintage Valerie: Lauren and More

As I mentioned in my last post, I had several photos of Lauren that I wanted to share, but they would have exceeded my self-imposed fifteen photo limit. I thought I’d fit in with “Throwback Thursday” and share some of them today…along with a few others I came across. :)



I was so excited to be able to set my six month old Lauren down on the floor to play with toys one Sunday morning, that I snapped a photo of it! The church in West Virginia had just completed this new nursery and Lauren had just learned to do something new – sit up all by herself! Hard to believe this girl is wanting to start driving now!




Lauren and her dad showing off her new purple coat, Christmas 2000.



Lauren is one year old in the above photo, and I just love her little face as she sees the lit candle coming her way!



Great Grandma got Mitchell (3 months old) laughing so hard when we visited her and Pawpaw in Mattoon in November of 2002. Mitch still has the same sweet smile – except with teeth! Lauren isn’t quite so sure what to think of Great Grandma’s silliness. ;)



Lauren’s first VBS at Hot Springs Baptist Temple, summer of 2001. She was two years old.


Lauren, taking a break from bubble mowing, in Topeka, Kansas, 2003.



I showed a similar photo yesterday which had Terry in it. Terry and Lauren were getting ready to go out witnessing in Burnet, Texas. She was so excited to get to go for her first time! She put a pen in her shirt, to be like Terry, who always had one in his shirt pocket. It was so sweet, I had to photograph the moment. She was seven years old.



Mitchell is all decked out for church on a Sunday morning in Burnet, Texas. He was about four years old.



Mitchell got this HUGE icicle off the house when we lived in Hope. We had something like eight inches of snow in one night and it pretty much shut down the town. Which was fine with me. :)


Last, but not least, I found this old photo from our one and only trip to Florida in April 2004. Unbeknownst to us, it would the last time we’d all be together with Dad on this earth. This was taken at a restaurant in Titusville, Florida. I didn’t think I had many photos of that trip, since I didn’t own a good camera back then. Stumbling upon this and a few other photos from that time is like tripping over a block of gold! It makes me gasp, stare, smile and want to tell the world.

So world, thanks for letting me share. :)

With a heart of joy,


Fifteen Beautiful Years


My precious Lauren Kassidy turns fifteen years old today! I wanted to do fifteen photos of her, one for each year, like I did for Mitchell a few weeks ago. As I started looking through pictures, though, it was really hard to choose just fifteen! I have so many sweet ones of her. The one above is, obviously, her hospital photo. I noticed it has gotten a little stained from being stored and moved so many times. That made me sad because the memories of her birth and the days that followed as I took my own first wobbly steps into motherhood haven’t tarnished at all. In fact, it’s so vivid, it’s hard for me to believe it’s been fifteen years. *sigh*

I did narrow my selections down to just fifteen photos. I may share some at another time for a “Vintage Valerie” post. Please click on the photos to enlarge them if you have difficulty seeing them.

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Lauren is such a blessing to our family. She is growing into a very quiet, poised young woman. She is very disciplined – she gets up at six o’clock to begin her school work everyday, without being told! She works hard and expects perfection from herself. She is tenderhearted toward the things of the Lord and listens closely during the preaching. She often asks questions about the Bible or a sermon. She has already faced some trials in her young life, but she has clung to the Father’s hand and has shown courage that I doubt I would have had at her age. I am so thankful that she knows Christ as her Savior and seeks to do His will.

Lauren is everything I’d ever want in a teenager and more! In short, to know her, is to love her, and I love her with all of my heart.

Happy birthday to my amazing girl!


Hindsight Is 20/20


“Hindsight is 20/20.”  My dad would say this after I informed him of the results of what I had just learned was a poor decision. How frustrating to see so clearly something you would have liked to have seen a day, a week or even an hour before! Once you make a call on something, it’s over.This is true of marriages, business decisions and purchases. If only we could see into the future about certain things!

What about trials? Have you ever had 20/20 hindsight on those? Perhaps, looking back, you can see how maybe you were the problem when you had originally thought it was someone else? Yeah. Me too. That stinks. Or maybe you can look back and see some good that has come from a trial, something that you would not have had or appreciated very much before that burden pressed forcefully on your shoulders?

I’m reading a wonderful book by Dr. Peter Masters called The Personal Spiritual Life. I’m only three chapters into it and already I’ve been convicted several times. Chapter three outlines Paul’s positive plan for holiness. One point is that we must fight the flesh. Everyone fights their flesh about something. It may be anger for one, gossip for another, laziness for yet another. One thing is sure, we each one struggle in some area(s). This thought led me to recall something from one of the churches my husband pastored. Some people got very angry at his stand for God’s Word. I was afraid they may actually try to harm us or our property. The worst thing that happened was that someone put sugar in our gas tank and ruined the fuel pump. The events of that time brought out terrible anger in my heart. I had been angry before, but never to that level! It was actually hatred for certain people. I shared it with my husband one night, and as soon as I spewed it out (because anger doesn’t seep – it spews), I immediately felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit for my words and feelings. I repented of it and began working on that weakness in my life. I now guard carefully against anger. It’s one more thing I must fight my flesh over.

Today, some years removed from that situation, I can see clearly that God was using that time to shape and mold me. I didn’t know I was capable of such anger. The circumstances of those turbulent times were like fire, bringing the dross to the surface so it can be removed. Viewing these past experiences as part of God’s plan for my life helps remove the bitterness I was feeling about them. How can I be upset about something which God used to refine me? I want to be pliable in the Potter’s hands. God uses the wicked people in the world to bring about His will for His children (e.g., the Sabeans and Chaldeans helped bring about God’s will for Job’s life in Job chapter one.). Realizing this, how can I be angry at those people who harmed us in the past? It was all part of God’s plan to bring about good for me.

Not every trial has been explained to me, nor will I ever understand every hard thing God has put in my life.  Romans 4: 3-4 says, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” My experience gives me hope, and hope is a very good thing.

Perhaps you’re struggling today with a trail.  Maybe you’re wondering what it’s about? Why you? What are you supposed to learn? Just keep trusting Him. One day, it will be in the rear view mirror and you’ll have 20/20 vision. Until then, remember that it’s all for God’s glory.

It’s not about us, it’s about Him.

With love,


Are You Ready for the JW’s?

Please forgive me for the following, rather hick video. I thought making a video would be easier and quicker than writing, so I am trying it.  I hope this information helps. Thanks for reading…I mean watching!



Here’s the lecture by Dr. James White, which is a great starting point for understanding the JW cult:

Click HERE for a link to it on Youtube.

Click HERE for the 20 Questions that I mentioned in my video.

Click HERE to write me and say I’m not a hick.

Just kidding.

Have a great day!



I just wanted to post an update on my heart. I have received several encouraging words from friends who are praying. I just want to say thank you. Tests like these never seem important or scary when it’s on someone else. When it’s me, I’m a little concerned. I think we are all that way. I know you each have your own lives and problems to deal with, so the fact you are taking time out of your life to pray for me, means more than I can say. Words can not adequately describe my appreciation.

I finished wearing my heart monitor yesterday and mailed it back to the company. I went to the doctor’s office bright and early this morning for my echocardiogram, which is a fancy ultrasound of the heart. The lady who did the test was very kind. My follow up visit with the doctor is September 8, so I was concerned that I might have to wait that long for these results. “If they see something, they will call you today or tomorrow. If  I see something, I’ll get up and leave the room during the test and tell them.”  She got me hooked up and then told me I could go to sleep during the test if I wanted to. I said with a laugh, “Sorry, that won’t be happening. I couldn’t sleep last night, much less right now!” She laughed too. I asked if it was okay to talk during the test. And that’s pretty much what I did the entire 45 minutes.

At the end of the test she said, “I didn’t have to leave the room.”

“Yes, I noticed. I was watching carefully for that to happen.” I said with a smile.

I haven’t heard anything official on the any of the tests I’ve had done, but I am encouraged that at least there was nothing so serious that the sonographer had to call for backup.

Thanks for reading and, most of all, thanks for caring.


Mexican Lasagna

I am certainly no Betty Crocker. Or, Ree Drummond, for a name from this century. :) But I do stumble upon some easy and tasty recipes now and then that I enjoy passing along. I hope you like this one!



Mexican Lasagna

Make in one hour or less, 9-12 servings


1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped green pepper (I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use any.)

1/2 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup water

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 oz)  petite diced tomatoes (or Rotel if you’d like more zip)

6 flour tortillas (I used the large ones)

1 can (16 oz.) refried beans

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend


In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and green pepper until beef is no longer pink; drain. Add water and taco seasoning, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for two minutes. Stir in the black beans and tomatoes; simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes. (I cooked mine for ten minutes and it was a little too thick for me, so just simmer until it isn’t too soupy. You just want a happy medium, as with everything in life…but this is actually achievable!)

Place two tortillas in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Spread with half of the refried beans, then with half of the beef mixture; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Top with sour cream, avocado or anything that floats your boat. :)