The Guestbook

Happy New Year, friends! I am excited about the possibilities that await me in 2017. I have been eagerly working on my list of goals and books to read, and of course, I’m all ready to start my journey through the Word of God again. If you’d like a list of printable schedules for daily Bible reading, then please click HERE and scroll to that heading. (My favorite one is the Robert Murray M’Cheyne schedule.)

A few weeks ago, my husband read this blog post and got a great idea: we would have a guestbook for our home! I only wish we had gotten this idea sooner. We have been married almost two decades and have been blessed to have numerous friends, relatives, church family, missionaries, and preachers visit our home from around the world. We have enjoyed lively conversation and sweet fellowship with so many folks. Seeing their signature in our guestbook would have been a small way to keep those memories alive and strong; a way to savor the time with them and enjoy the echo of laughter down through the years. Well, we can’t go back, but we do plan on going forward with this idea.

I shopped around for a nice guestbook, as I expect that one will last us several years. I found this one at our Hallmark Gold Crown Store.

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This one was casual looking with a place to insert your initial, as I have done, or a photo.

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Guestbooks are usually only used for weddings and funerals – beginnings and endings – missing out on all the fun in between, called life! We want to change that. We decided that our guestbook will be “In Celebration of the presence of friends and family.”

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I chose this one because it had a place for comments. The signer can either just date it and sign, or add comments about his visit, etc. My mother was the first signature in our guestbook. I am eager to see who will be next!

Thank you for reading! May the Lord bless you in 2017 and beyond.

With love,

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Goodbye, Good Friend

If a dog is man’s best friend, then we had the best of the best. Our sweet dog, Libby, died this morning. I’m not really a “dog” person, but my heart is hurt by this loss. I grew up in the city and my parents were not pet people, so I have had little experience with animals. On May 8, 2001, Terry was working at Panther Valley Ranch in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A little dog ran up to him, a dog that had just been dropped off by its owners to roam till it died. Terry took pity on her and brought her home.

We needed a name for her, one that our almost-two-year-old, Lauren, could pronounce. I liked “Lady”, but that was so common. Somehow, we settled on “Libby”. Lauren could say it. Libby would run along beside Lauren while she played and lick at her legs now and then. She would let Lauren pet her and comb her and do just about anything to her. She never, ever barked at her. She did this same thing with the other four children to come. She seemed to know that little people were good people. She would, however, bark at strangers and other animals loud and clear! I always knew when the mailman was at the house, or when someone was riding by on a bike.

She was never used as a hunting dog, but she killed more squirrels than I can count. She killed a possum once…well, we thought she killed it. Turns out, it was playing “possum”! She has gotten in battles with snakes and even a skunk. She won every time. She ran away more times than I can count, too. But she always found her way home.  Speaking of homes, Libby moved with us four times to four different states.

Her last few years were calmer. She didn’t bark anymore or chase squirrels. But we loved her and cared for her, dreading this day – the day when we would have to say goodbye.

Libby’s death is one more piece of my dad gone from this old world, too. Dad’s last act on earth was building Libby a doghouse. Libby lived with them when we lived in an apartment that would not allow pets. Dad loved her.

I know that dogs do not go to heaven. But if there are dogs in heaven, I’d like to think that they are all like Libby.

I’m going to go through my photos more thoroughly in the days to come for the kids, but here are two of my favorite photos of Libby, with our oldest and youngest:

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Lauren, almost two years old, with Granddad and Libby. We had had Libby for about a month here.

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Matt with Libby February of 2015.

It with a grieving heart that we say goodbye to our good friend. She will be missed.

With love,

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Safety is of the Lord

The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord. – Proverbs 21:31

Saturday, October 22, 2016, started out as all Saturdays do for us. We slept late, the kids played and did their weekly chores. I have regular work to do: laundry, ironing, lesson planning, menu-and-grocery-list-making, housework and Sunday school prep. Last week, we were blessed to have Pastor Mark Langley with us from Topeka, Kansas, to preach on Sunday, so we had a few extra things to do for that. I was sitting at my desk working on lesson plans for the coming week when Mitch asked if he could go on a bike ride. He does this almost every day. I said yes. I cautioned him to be careful and told him what time he should be home. I made sure he had Terry’s phone with him, like I always do. I got back to my work. A few minutes later, I heard the blaring of not one, but several sirens. They were close by. But I often hear sirens. Our town has 100,000 people. Sirens are normal, just like the bombing at Ft. Sill. I kept working. A few more minutes passed and I got a phone call from Terry – well, it took me a sec to realize that it wasn’t Terry, Mitch had Terry’s phone. I had already forgotten that Mitch had left for a bike ride. I remembered it was Mitch and figured he’d fallen or his bike chain broke. His first words were, “Mom, calm down.” (Odd. I was calm.) “I’ve been hit by a car.” (Not calm anymore.)

I asked him where he was and he told me the street name. “Next to that brown house,” he said. What brown house? I thought. Finally, “Just drive like you’re going to church and you will find me,” he said. We hopped in the car and did that. Around the corner from our home were two police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance with the stretcher out. No wonder I heard the sirens so loudly…and they were for my own son. Mitch was seated on the curb talking to paramedics. I leapt out of the car and rushed to him. I did my best to remain calm. I’ve been in enough of these type of situations to have learned the hard way that panic never helps, nor do tears. I did feel choked up and misty-eyed as I saw my boy. He was scraped and bruised, clothes torn and asphalt-colored grime all over one side of his body. He complained of wrist pain and scrapes on his arms. The paramedics said they could take him to the ER or we could, but either way, we should have him checked out. We signed a paper releasing the paramedics and loaded him and his bike into the van.

Police explained to Terry on the scene that the driver who hit him had fled. Mitchell came to with a man and woman asking him if he was all right. They helped him out of the road, called 911 and remained on the scene to give police the license plate number of the driver who hit him, as well as the description of the events. Terry and I were so shaken up at the scene, that neither of us had the presence of mind to inquire as to who the witnesses were or if they were there. We would have liked to thank them. We hope to be able to do that when the police complete their investigation. That’s right, it’s an ongoing investigation as they try to find the person who hit Mitchell and left him in the road, unconscious. The witnesses said Mitch went up on the windshield of the car, maybe up over the car, and the driver stopped to let him roll off and then sped away. I am so grateful that there were people who cared enough to get involved, to help a complete stranger. I will be forever grateful to them, and to the rapid response of our police and paramedics.

I have so many emotions flowing through my mind as I write this. Because we had a busy weekend ahead of us, I had to compartmentalize these events and move forward to the next thing. I’m usually the type who pauses to process my emotions, it’s just how I handle life. I cry, usually in private, then I get up and move on. I have not cried, not really. But as I sit down and write about these events, I can feel the tears coming to the surface. All of the “what ifs” come to mind: What if he had died? What if he were in a coma? What if he couldn’t see or walk? And to each of those “what ifs” come a resounding reply from my heart, “Thank you, Heavenly Father!” I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Lord’s protection. My mother often quoted Proverbs 21:31 to me as I was growing up. Its truth was illustrated to me in living color last week.

Well, we got home and had Mitchell shower and change clothes. He was a bit disoriented and pumped-up on adrenaline at first. In his confusion, he put on the same clothes he had worn in the accident after his shower, so we had him change. He wanted to go out to eat as we had planned to do that night, but now he had to go to the hospital to be examined, so the meal was put on hold. He was unhappy about that. He couldn’t remember the accident and he felt like it was his fault, but we don’t know. We told him it didn’t matter whose fault it was, he was alive and we were so thankful. We decided to take him to the MedExpress Urgent Care Clinic in town and avoid the ER. They took an x-ray of his wrist and told us it was just a bad sprain. They gave him a support splint for it. They said to check him every two hours for the next 24 hours for a concussion by having him stick out his tongue straight, asking him questions like, “when is your birthday?”, having him close his eyes and touch his nose, checking his pupils and things like that. We had a very long night on Saturday checking him. Terry and I took turns waking him through the night.

Needless to say, it has taken me a while to recover from that one day as I have tried to keep going with our normal routine: Co-op on Monday, school work through the week; on Tuesday, we found out Lauren would have her wisdom teeth cut out the very next day – Wednesday! That went well, praise the Lord, but has involved a long recovery process for her. She is still on pain medicine and only eating soft foods.  Yes, it was a long week, but a hugely blessed week.

Here are a few photos of Mitch the day of the accident:

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Here he is on Tuesday, October 25:

 

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Wednesday, October 26:


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His bruises have continued to heal even more and his black eye is less swollen and dark today. He has more range of motion in his wrist after wearing the support for a week. I knew the pain in his wrist was bad when I didn’t have to make him wear the support. Today is his first day without it; today is one week since the wreck. What a week!

I am thankful that, while I do all that I can to be a good mom and prepare for the worst, ultimately, safety is in the Lord’s hands.

And I trust His hands.

With love,

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Oklahoma and Goliath

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Our area was impacted by winter storm “Goliath”, but just as in the biblical story of David and Goliath, the Lord protected us from this giant which hurled not spears of brass, but of ice and sleet. We had had lovely, sunny, mild weather all week, so this change was a drastic one. Strong winds and heavy rain began on Saturday afternoon. This turned into sleet and ice by Sunday morning as the thermometer dipped 30 degrees colder. Our services were cancelled on Sunday, not only because of the slick conditions, but also because of the 50 mile per hour winds. This “blizzard force” wind lasted Saturday, all day Sunday, and Monday morning. By Sunday night, our power lines had taken all they could and gave way leaving us in the dark.

And let me tell you, our house is dark. I have made it through a few strong storms in Oklahoma (if you’ve lived here longer than a month, then you probably have, too) but this was the first time we lost power. When the power went off at 9 PM Sunday, the darkness was palpable. I felt my airway constrict like I was suffocating. I know! Isn’t that crazy? Thankfully, I got a grip and we found candles and used our phones for flashlights. Since it was bedtime, we all made our way to bed, beneath lots of blankets since the heat wouldn’t work without electricity. We were blessed not to have needed to eat, so we made sure the fridge and freezer doors stayed closed. The lights came on for about an hour between 2-3 AM, which gave me time to charge my phone to 100%. (Yes, I have my priorities right.) During the night, I could hear the sleet hit the windows, sounding like someone was throwing gravel against the glass. The wind whistled through the eaves and across the chimney pipe, creating a mournful sound in the darkness. I was thankful for strong walls and a good roof!

We all slept late Monday morning on purpose because, well, when you don’t have power, what can you do? We couldn’t do laundry, iron clothes, write blog posts, cook, vacuum, or even shower! The hot water heater has to have electricity, too. We tried to start a fire in the fireplace, but the wood wouldn’t light. The house was growing colder and colder, and we had no idea when the power would be restored, so we got dressed and made our way into town.

The damage from the winds wasn’t wide-spread, but it was noticeable. The awning over the gas pumps at a nearby gas station had fallen, balancing precariously across the pumps. The Subway restaurant sign had turned 180 degrees. Lots of dead tree limbs and trees were toppled, and some living trees were blown over at the roots! When we moved in almost three years ago, we had two dead trees in our backyard. Some sweet folks  in our church helped us cut them down and haul the branches away, and we burned the wood for fuel that winter. I am so thankful that we got rid of them promptly, because had they not fallen before, I feel sure they would have in this recent storm. We were so blessed! We sustained no other damage than the loss of power.

Well, after driving around town for a while, eating lunch at one of the few places that were open, and dropping by the library to pick up a book that had come in, we checked the church to see if there was power there, and there was! We went back home and collected a few blankets and computers to take to church to try to pass the time. We also put our milk and a few other things in the snow to try to save them from being ruined, and turned on our porch light so we could see if the power was back by just driving by the house.

We were only at church for about an hour when a church member, who lives near us, said they had power at their house. They were kind enough to drive by our house to see if we had power (thank goodness for that porch light!) and we did!

We headed home and rejoiced at the sight of lights! We got the heat on and surveyed the damage to our perishable food, which wasn’t much, thanks to the snow and cold temps outside. It didn’t take long to clean up, start laundry and get a much needed shower.

It was a wonderful blessing to awaken today to a warm home, with light! I’m sorry to say that I often take for granted the blessings of electricity, but not today.

With love,

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Christmas Break Has Begun

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Wow. What a week! We began last Monday with a funeral of a dear lady in our church. God gave her 97 years to live and love and serve. My husband preached a wonderful Gospel message.

On Tuesday, I began feeling ill. I soon realized I needed to see a doctor. We had planned to go out to the Wildlife Refuge and take our family Christmas photo using a tripod, but my doctor’s appointment and subsequent pharmacy trip made that impossible. Leslie and Mitchell had piano lessons, but my husband was able to take them for me. Lauren had her Christmas band concert that night also, but I was able to go even though I felt terrible.

Wednesday, we snapped a family photo in front of our fireplace for our Christmas card. It wasn’t as nice as an outdoor photo, but I think it turned out okay. After that, we went to church, which was a huge blessing. In the midst of shopping, teaching, cleaning, decorating, wrapping, and sickness, I needed to hear the great preaching. I was also able to get some church work done before services, which saved me a trip back later in the week.

Thursday was a break. Well, we still had school, but there was nothing that evening. I went to bed early and slept well.

Friday, we finished school! My husband took me out to eat at Outback Steakhouse, where I bumped into some dirty dishes on a table, broke a glass and cut my finger. (Thankfully, no one was seated there at the time.) The staff quickly got a band-aid for me and asked me over and over if I was okay. I was humiliated, but there was nothing they could do about that! My finger throbbed for a while but soon settled down. No stitches were needed. From there we went shopping for Christmas gifts. Thankfully, I didn’t break anything else or hurt myself again. *insert sigh of relief*

Now, I get to focus on mailing Christmas cards, finishing my shopping and wrapping, and doing the normal housework thing. I am finally feeling much better and I hope next week is a little less exciting. 😉

I hope you are having a relaxing holiday season, wherever you may be.

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Leslie’s Baptism

It is my joy to share that our middle child, Leslie (age 9), was born again of the Holy Spirit of God on November 21, 2014. She had told us she was saved a few years ago, but we felt that she was just mimicking the things she had seen in others. We waited for her to mention it again, or to request baptism, but she didn’t. We took that to indicate that she had not been regenerated and we continued praying for her salvation. If you are familiar with my salvation testimony, which includes two false professions of faith as a child, then you understand why I am careful when dealing with any child about their eternal soul.

In November, Leslie tearfully came to her dad and shared that she needed to be saved. She trusted in Christ alone and at that moment was born into God’s family! Again, prudence dictated that we wait and watch and pray for a time, which we did. About three weeks ago, she came to us again, this time requesting to be baptized. She is a shy girl, and was very nervous to come before the church and testify that she was saved, but she did it.

I wanted to share the video for our loved ones who pray for our children. We are blessed with many family members who model lives dedicated to Christ. They encourage our children by their sincere faith and genuine love for the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the author and finisher of our faith.

Here is my view, taken with my iPad mini:

Lauren took this view from the auditorium using my Nikon and my zoom lens.

We praise the Lord, from Whom all blessings flow.

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Snow Days and a New Series

I feel sorry for my friends in the North who have to deal with snow all the time. They have so much of it, that they have to get tons of fancy equipment to scrape it off the roads. They have to have piles of salt to spread out and melt the snow immediately so they can shuffle off to work each day. In the Southwest, we thank our lucky stars when we get to see some of the white stuff. Our mouths gape open in utter amazement. We walk outside, with great trepidation, wondering what this cold, fluffy stuff is. The smallest among us begin to shout for joy! They run around and make snowballs and snow angels and snowmen, even if they are a tad muddy because it’s only 3/4 of an inch of snow. The older ones grab their cameras and begin snapping away, until they have somewhere around a hundred photos that all basically look the same. We shut down schools and stores close their doors. Why? Because of the SNOW! Snow days are like vacation days. You aren’t sick, so you can stay home and do all the things you want to do on vacation. When my mother was expecting me, she was in her first year as a Special Ed. teacher in Jessieville, Arkansas.  She was exhausted and overwhelmed at work. The Lord blessed her with sixteen snow days that year. What a joy those days were! She had more time to figure out the requirements of her new job. The Lord was also helping her rest up for the huge challenge of raising me.

Snow days are a blessing! I hope you can get out and enjoy one.

Or sixteen.

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All bundled up and ready to play! We didn’t have winter gloves, so we used regular gloves and water-proofed them by putting Latex gloves over the regular gloves. It worked well! (Special thanks to my mom for this idea. 🙂 )

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Terry didn’t realize he had so much camo stuff! There is a man there, in case you missed him. 😉

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The dog even got to come in out of the cold.

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Before I go, I wanted to let you know about a new series that I’m starting tomorrow. Spring is around the corner, even for you folks in the great white North, and I thought you might like to start it off by reading Proverbs every day. It’s sort of like a book club. We each read the chapter of Proverbs for the corresponding day (Proverbs 1 on the first, chapter 2 on the second, and so forth). I’ll share a verse here that is a blessing to me, and you can do the same. Or, just let me know you’re participating, without sharing a verse. Or, just read it by flashlight under the covers and tell no one. It’s up to you! So, how ’bout it?

I know it’s a bother to read a blog post every day, but I promise they will be short. You can also subscribe to my blog (see the link in the sidebar) to receive the posts automatically in your email. This series should arrive each day at 6 AM CST, if all goes as planned. There’s no hassle that way, right? Feel free to join me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+  as well. I hope you’ll join me! God’s Word is our necessary food, so why not eat together?

Reporting to you from beneath my fuzzy blanket,

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