Friday, December 28, 2007

A Few of Our Favorite (Christmas) Things

The season kicks off with the decorating of the gingerbread houses. We do it in early or mid-December, and it is traditionally held with our cousins at Granny's little gingerbread house of her own. We love going over there, making memories for our kids, just like ones we have of growing up. Same house, same granny. Unfortunately, this year, Grandma I was out of power for EIGHT days. It didn't seem to get to her though. She said, after all, she didn't even enjoy the luxury of power until her third son was born. Good point. Anyway, Kim sweetly offered her house, and Granny came over to join us. It is definitely one of our favorite things.

It just wouldn't be the same without all the musical numbers that are presented this time of year. Kami is a proud member of the Jenks East singers, and loved performing with them this December.

Who doesn't love to party? With parties come friends, food and fun. Ellie is really our party girl. She loves to hang out with friends, probably the most social of our family. Luke runs a close second, but I think Ellie wins the prize for most friends. In fact, whenever there is a break from school, we hardly see the child. She contentedly lives like a hobo, bringing her pack from one home to another, turning a regular day into a party of her own.

I can probably (not probably, definitely... what, am I dreaming?) count on one hand the years I have left to capture the magic of this shot. It's going too fast....

Well, back to Granny again. Words cannot accurately capture the amazing qualities of this woman. But I know you have all had someone in your life who is a warm electric blanket, a donut with sprinkles and a heart-warming movie all wrapped up into one. Comfort. She is comfort. She is love. She is happiness. She is the most with-it 96 year old on the planet. When I was a little girl , I just prayed God would let her live to be 88. I wanted my kids to know her. I wanted to cherish the years I had with her. And God has blessed us with her for longer than that. My kids are getting to know her. They are being covered by her prayers. And they got to spend another precious Christmas Eve at her house. As for me, I spent my 38th one there.

It feels good to have some new traditions of our own too. This Christmas Eve at our house was a lot of fun. We came home from Granny's house and made cookies for Santa, and then had a family game of Twister. Pictured here is the championship game in which the most fiercely competitive members of our family went head-to-head (and leg-to-leg and buns-to-buns) to determine the winner. After that, we let the kids open their presents to each other and tracked Santa on the internet. (Who woulda thought?) Then, we said our prayers and went to bed.

This one probably seems kind of out of place, but if you are in our family and it is the month of December, you are going to be playing in or watching some kind of basketball game. On December 22nd, we traveled to OKC to watch ORU play OSU, and I'll tell you, it sure feels nice to go into Christmas with a win. We've experienced a few pre-Christmas losses, and it takes a bit of the tinsel off the tree when that happens. Here is our little point guard Kami dribbling down the court for her team, the Wildcats. Sorry about the blurry shot... I obviously haven't mastered action photography yet. Think I should try a faster shutter speed, eh?

Well, I'd be lying if I said that gifts weren't one of the kids' favorite parts of Christmas. I just love this picture of Lauren watching Luke open the present she got him.

I'd also be lying if I didn't admit that amid all the butthustling, we don't stop as often as we should to really soak in the magnificent focus of this holiday. When Luke said we were celebrating Santa's birthday (quickly followed by... oh no , not Santa's birthday, Jesus' birthday) my heart dropped into my feet. I prayed to God that we as parents would not let Christmas become just a shiny celebration of Santa. I had to remind myself that this year may be a little more difficult than others since we don't have a church to call home right now. Making the choice to leave First Baptist and look for a church closer to home was pretty hard, and we have put ourselves in a position where our kids are not getting their usual Christmas church focus on Jesus' birthday. It is so basic, so pure, and so important. The birth of Jesus. I happened to turn on the CBS "special" - "The Mystery of Christmas." A title intriguing enough for the Christian and sinister enough to draw in a non-Christian. As I made pumpkin rolls and took in this show, my heart again dropped as I watched basically an hour long campaign for people to doubt pretty much every aspect of the birth of Jesus. They even presented "evidence" that Jesus was probably not born in Bethlehem. It was probably Nazareth. And Mary a virgin? Ha! She was what one "expert" called "nothing more than an adultress." I can barely type the words. My point here is that by the grace of God, in my heart, I know that I know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He was born of the virgin Mary to be the Savior of the world. I am so thankful that the program didn't sway me in the least... just swayed my anger. I pray that the spirit of God will give that peace and assurance to my children. That they will BELIEVE.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dear Santa...

I would like a toy parrot and a plain Password Journal. Be Safe. Ellie
Post Script:
We must have been one of the last stops on his list because Santa was fresh out of "plan pass wrde grnols." All he had were the Pet Shop ones, and they're just not quite as cool.

A Christmas Connection

Finding time for friends is not easy in the stage of life we are in. It seems like months whiz by before we can get together. This Christmas, we got a date on the calendar, and all the stars aligned just right! We were able to spend the evening with the Sammons and the Streeters. The kids had a blast and the adults talked til we dropped.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Can you Imagine Having...

This many children? (pictured w/ spouses)
this many grandchildren? (pictured w/ spouses)and this many great grandchildren?
Her children arise and call her blessed!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Blog Is Born!

Two years ago I had no idea what a blog was. I just had some foggy notion that it was something that technogeeks did in cyberspace. About the same time, I became overwhelmed with my beloved hobby of scrapbooking. Although I absolutely loved doing it, I was trying to slap together five different books for three different kids and running about 2 1/2 years behind. I would rush to a scrapbook night and sweat like a crazy woman trying to get as many layouts done as scrapbookingly possible.

Then, (cue the piano music) my friend Kelly introduced me to digital scrapbooking and blogging. It was like we had won a big game. I felt elated! I felt free! I felt released from the scrapbooking dungeon. Since then, blogging has become a near-daily treat. Like a yummy Merritt's cupcake, I look forward to my blogging time. I know some people think it's strange; after all, I don't live in Dubai or have parents who live in a different town than I do. I really don't care what they think though... because when it comes down to it... this is for me! Blogging is a way for me to record the daily fragments of life that would otherwise get lost in the grind. You know how when you try to recall a moment from the past, you find yourself remembering pictures that were taken of that time? (At least that's what I do...). I am steadfast in the belief that I am rescuing memories from the shuffle of time. I have the vision that years from now, 5 years, 10 years, more, that we will be consulting this blog as a way to recapture our past, not only looking at pictures, but reading my personal thoughts as well. It is precious to me and I can only hope that in the future it will be precious-precious to my kids. With scrapbooking, I was always trying to catch up and had to squint my eyes trying to remember the specifics of the particular scrapbooking moment, but with blogging, I take 10-15 minutes to record something that happened that week or even THAT DAY! One final benefit... like scrapbooking was a creative release for me, so is blogging something that I enjoy. I get my creative writing fix, I guess you could say. Finally, although h-is-4 is for me, I am happy to know I have my faithful readers out there. I love it when out of town (or in town) family and friends check in! And comments, well, comments are always appreciated! All this to say that I am proud a new baby blog has been born. It is so big and beautiful, you might not know it is a baby at all, but please check in on my friend Chere, who has recently begun her blog. Oh, and one more thing... I had to chuckle when I walked in on Kami, who was creating her own blog. She had it all set up herself and only needed me to help her with the images. My own little technogeek! Ha! Check out Kami's first post here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa Claus Isn't Coming to Town

He's already here. That according to Miss Tell-It-Like-It-Is, Ellie. She did enjoy sitting on his lap and telling him what she wanted for Christmas (an obnoxious Fur Real Parrot ), but when I asked her later what she thought of Santa, she off-handedly said in her low voice, "Well, I don't think Santa is going to get me what I really want." I questioned, "why, you told him what you wanted, didn't you?" She said, "I think he was just a Santa Clone."

Monday, December 17, 2007

One Cute Chick

Mom often gets on to me about doing too much. "Slow down!" she squawks. Well, I wonder where I get it? Here is one of the many activities my mom is involved in. Over the past few years, my mom and her friends have developed an act called "The Dixie Chicks." This group dresses up like beautiful, fluffy, yellow chickens (no I am not kidding), practices faithfully, and puts on darn good shows for different groups around town. Here are pictures of their Christmas production where they sang (bawked) their rendition of "Deck the Halls" and performed a Polynesian Christmas luau. They brought down the house and Nana's granddaughters were very proud of her, showering her with flowers after the performance.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


There's nothing like the POWER of nature. What can fell a 40 foot pine tree? It would take 3 men, $1000 and 2 days to chop it down. But a POWERful ice storm did it much quicker and easier than that. And the ice didn't only get one tree, but thousands. That's the kind of POWER that is humbling. POWER. We got ours back on Thursday. One hour without it will make you grouchy. Four days without POWER.... well, that's just torture! Actually, we had it easy compared to a lot of friends. We didn't have to endure sleeping in a cold house or being without technology. The worst of the ice storm for us is the neighbor's towering pine tree that fell over our fence and into our yard. This is just a minute inconvenience in comparison to lots of other people in the city. After driving through midtown, I was shocked at the damage. It's hard to describe how bad it is down that way. Plus, lots of people (including Grandma I) are still POWERless. We are praying everyone will stay safe and warm during this time. POWER. Ephesians 1:18-20- I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great POWER for us who believe. That POWER is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. POWER.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back to the Pioneer Days

Nearly everyone I know has lost their power. (The news reports that there are nearly 700,000 homes and businesses without electricity in Oklahoma-the most ever.) Several of our friends are sleeping under loads of blankets with a fire burning in the fire place. Kim and Scott were lucky enough to get a hotel room and Tom and I had a major stroke of luck... Tom's mom lives in a small pocket of homes (about 5 square blocks) that still has power! We have been staying here and will be here until the power comes back on. The estimate is that the power will be fully restored in 7-10 days. What's amazing is that here at the southern edge of our city, we didn't even get the worst of it. Here are some pictures of the farm that Dad took. The ice accumulation looks to me like it was twice as thick out north. These pictures show trees that were planted when I was born, and the second one is a tree that was planted by dad and his brothers in the 50's. Mom and Dad are sleeping in a room with a stove, and using candles and flashlights to get around the freezing house. There is no hot water, no TV, no phones (except cell phones) no computer... quite a change from the life we have all been living. It's been a chance to step back and look at the way things used to be... and say......... thank God I live in the 21st century!!!! The good news is that we are all ok. Getting the trees removed will be a pretty big expense for a lot of people. A couple of friends actually had trees crash through roofs or into windows. But we are all safe with family, and as they say, that's what's most important. For some pretty pictures of the ice, check Kelly's blog.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sweet and Gross

I know, I know, that title doesn't make much sense. But just think Sweet Tart, and you might understand. This 4 minute video is gross, yet sweet to me. Yes, it does involve cow poop, but it is so much more than that. It is a slice of time that Ellie and Papa spent together out on the farm "checking the whales." When Ellie was 5, she really thought that Dad had a large farm of blue whales. And that he went out to check on them every morning, feeding them fish and other things. In her little big imagination, she thought that he would pet them and play with them. So, one day he took her out to check the whales, and she found out that there were really no whales at all, but oil wells, and lots of cows, horses, rabbits, fences, hay, gates and other wonderful sights and smells you could imagine out on the farm. Checking the wells became a fun thing for Ellie and Papa to do together and this is just a funny (warning: gross) moment from one of their trips. (sorry Luke) For me, it isn't the poopy moment caught on tape, it's the conversation between the two, Ellie's raspy voice, Papa's interest in all that's around them, the beautiful green of the farm, and just remembering our girl at an age that has passed us by already.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Let's Dance!

This is my and Kami's new favorite song!!!! Just push the play button and enjoy!

The Best of Both Worlds

For anyone out there who knows Hannah Montana songs by default, because they are a constant background music to your life, then you will surely know "The Best of Both Worlds" refers to a song that describes the fictional double life of Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus, both of whom we rocked out to in concert yesterday in OKC!!! I have to say that Billy Cyrus' little girl puts on a great show... even I found myself singing and dancing and joining in the adolescent hysteria. And do I mean hysteria!! The concert began late, but before it did, the smallest movement of the curtain would spark a dynamite explosion of high-pitched screams... you cannot imagine how loud it was. Like 10,000 mosquitoes on steroids. And then the music just about blasted us out of our second-row-from-the-top seats. But believe me, I am not complaining. If it were not for the luck of Papa, we'd be like lots of other disappointed people out there. Ticketless. I wish we could have taken our friends and family with us... but Papa got only 4 tickets by the skin of his teeth! This memory will go down in history for Kami, Ellie and Hallie as their first concert experience. After all, I never forgot sitting in the Mabee Center in 1977 listening to the Bee Gees perform "Stayin Alive." The first concert experience is a big one, and I am quite sure a great one for the girls! Our only regret is that Luke could not be there for the one Hannah Montana song that he likes. He cringes when he has to listen to most songs, but when it comes to "Nobody's Perfect," he belts out every line of the song:

Everybody makes mistakes... Everybody has those days... 1 2 3 4!
Everybody makes mistakes... Everybody has those days... Everybody knows what what I'm talkin' 'bout... Everybody gets that way...

Sometimes I'm in a jam
I've gotta make a plan
It might be crazy
I do it anyway
No way to know for sure
I'll figure out a cure
I'm patchin' up the holes
But then it overflows
If I'm not doin' to well
Why be so hard on my self?

Nobody's Perfect!
I gotta work it!
Again and again 'til I get it right
Nobody's Perfect!
You live and you learn it!
And if I mess it up sometimes...
Nobody's perfect

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not So Easy to Answer....

(Click on the picture to enlarge and read questions)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Day

The main reason I like to call Thanksgiving "Turkey Day" is to remember all the grief we used to give my sister growing up. Somewhere along the way, someone gave her the nickname of turkey, and it seemed to stick. And on Thanksgiving, it was inevitable, someone (usually Uncle Rex or Grandpa) would tell her we were going to eat turkey for thanksgiving... oh wait, that means we are going to eat YOU! "Nooooooooo," she would scream! The funny thing is that as a kid, somewhere in your mind reality blends with possibility and you become kind of desperate, thinking that they might actually throw you pot and cook you for dinner! I told my kids the story this year, hoping we could bring back the old tradition of calling Kim "turkey."

Here is a page I digiscrapped for Thanksgiving.
I can't believe how much I love to scrapbook on the computer. I will confess that this page took me just as long as a paper and sticky tab page, but, hey, I am out of practice.... one good thing is that I made this page for free, didn't have to sink $10.00 and surely more into 3 kinds of paper, sticky tabs, photo printing, letter stickers, ribbon or vellum! Woo hoo!! Hopefully, this page will also last longer than a paper one too! I have the option to print it out, and if it gets ruined, I can always print it again. One last thing, if you buy off-white letters, but upon affixing them to your page, you realize that dark brown would look better, then you are stuck as a duck with those off-white letters. But in this case, I just grabbed my digital paint bucket, and woop! oh now the letter is darker! So easy, so fun! Check out the awesome and free scrapbooking sets at Absolutely LOVE them!

On a different note, look at that plate of food Kami fixed for herself! It was a heaping high plate! Looked so funny in a little girl's hands. But she (as did we all) enjoyed every bite of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which included Granny's heavenly mashed potatoes, Nana's creamed corn and for dessert, Kim's yummy fudge. Oh, to have that meal again before next year! It was soooooooooo good! And a WONDERFUL day with family.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Assignment

Inspired by my friend Chere (a 4th grade teacher), I wrote this prayer of thankfulness to God.

Through the years, Father in
Heaven, you have led my steps,
And at every tiny turn, you have watched over me.
Now, I thank You, the God of All Gods, the
King of the Universe, yet Savior of my soul... I
Sing a song of thankfulness to You, for all You
Give, for all You wisely withhold. For all You Are.
Immense, Amazing, Unconditional, Full of Love.
Victorious. Mysterious. Mine. O Lord, my God...
I thank you for the blessings you give, too
Numerous to name!! Even amidst the trials, my heart says,
"Great are You God. You are my Rock"

Friday, November 16, 2007

One Reason I Love ORU

Moses Ehambe. He was the "celebrity reader" in Ellie's class on Friday. Talk about a great guy! He is one example of the wonderful people you will find at ORU. In Ellie's words, "that Moses... he's sum' thin' else!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Double Whammy

Tonight, as I checked on the score of our game (OUCH!), I happened to click on a news site where the top story was about ORU, and how the tenured faculty had voted "no faith" in current President Richard Roberts. (DOUBLE OUCH). Not to be confused with the Board of Regents, this group of people (don't know how many) made a resolution (non-binding) basically announcing their feelings of no confidence in Richard. Excuse me while I throw up. Having been affiliated with ORU for 8+ years, (admittedly as an outsider), I have had nothing but wonderful opinions and interactions with President Roberts. To see him, his family and many who love this university going through this battle is.... well.... like dipping my arms in a pot of boiling water. It hurts! It stings! And the healing will take a long time! And if I feel this way, my goodness... how others closer to the situation must feel. I have always felt like God has put us at ORU for a reason. Only Jehovah God in Heaven could have matched me up with this good-looking basketball junkie, all the while secretly matching my sister up with another handsome basketball player, then to (of all things) find a way to make them both Division I basketball coaches and um, while He was at it, decided that they would work together at the same school, which just happened to be ORU??????? A place we could call home! A place that our children love to go! A place to be proud of! A place we pray for. A place that is part of us. A place that is being torn up right now. I don't know the truth. I don't know the answers. I know A LOT of people are loving it. But I am hating it, and I am asking for your prayers. Not your judgments. That He has made clear is HIS to do. And it is a lesson I am learning myself. Will you pray for this ministry, this university, and our family? Pray that we will trust in the Lord with all our hearts and rely not on our own understanding... that in all our ways we will acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Get'cha Head in the Game

ORU vs. Texas A&M, Tuesday November 13th

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Gap

I'm looking at Ellie as much as I can. I'm keeping my eye on that GAP in her mouth. I'm enjoying it like I would a warm cup of tea or a funny movie on a lazy Saturday night. I'm watching those rubbery, swollen, gums like a mom watching her kid get on the school bus for the first time. Because I know that GAP is not just a GAP in her mouth, but a GAP in time that will eventually be a bridge between Babyhood and Teenageville. I adore my sweet, little girl who still likes to read The Runaway Pancake, play with blocks and thinks family meetings are cool. (After our last one, she said, "Mom, that was a GREAT family meeting. When can we have another one?") She eats up life like she gobbles up gummy bears. She is innocent; she is awesome; she is a free spirit. And although I pray those characteristics won't change, I cannot stop the fact that my "little one" is going to grow up and those big, white, rectangles will soon invade her mouth and fill that lovely GAP. They will look awkwardly big for her head for a while before she blossoms into the grown up girl God has made her to be....... but before that happens, I am just going to keep my eye on the GAP.

Maggie's Baptism

A special day in Maggie's life... and for all of us who love this precious, adorable, little girl!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Tricks, Just Treats

Well, I got the question tonight as we were driving home from Granny's house: "Why do some people not celebrate Halloween? " As I tried to explain this touchy subject, I could anticipate The Princess of Hearts next question: "Then why do WE celebrate Halloween?" The only thing I could say is.... we don't celebrate Halloween. We celebrate life. On Halloween night, we don't pay tribute to the things of darkness. Quite the opposite: we soak in the things of light! We spend time with family; we spend time with friends. We leave nice treats for others. We try to brighten someone else's day. We have fun in our neighborhood and smile at everyone who walks by. We soak in the creativity of the costumes. We marvel at the kindness of all our neighbors. So, yes, even though we have here a scary skeleton/ghost and a spooky witch (plus a plucky cowboy), I feel sure that tonight God kept his eye on us. As for others who don't celebrate Halloween, I hope it is clear that I pass no judgment against their decisions. We all have to what we feel is right in our hearts for our own families. But for us, this was one awesome night. Plus, Kami won the quilt drawing tonight at Grandma I's house! What could be better than a Halloween-themed, hand-stitched, flannel-soft, sweet-smelling, quilt that your 96 year old granny made? Tonight, Kami hugged it and said, "this is my treasure for life." We are truly blessed on this Halloween night, and to God I lift all the glory, honor and praise!