Category Archives: Random Family Fun

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 

We rang out the old and hollered in the new with the band of brothers and Miss Thing in fine style. 

For Zach and Rachel’s 15th anniversary we offered them a weekend to get away. Their money, their plan…but we would take the kiddos and feed them, tend them, correct them and entertain them for two nights and three days. 

Not sure who spent more, but I know who got more rest…

We had a blast, literally…

Russ was happier than he appears, well actually much happier when the noise makers got hidden away…here is proof…

Mommy and Daddy looked refreshed and a good time was had by all. 

So here we are entering a new month and a new year. 

I plan to continue the start of the month book review, so here we go for the first one in 2022:

Going from top to bottom in the photo, and yes our tree is still up…


Jesus-Centered Daily by Rick Lawrence was my yearly devotion as gifted by my good friend Lisa. She has prayerfully selected my annual devotion for so many years. I don’t know the exact number but they are lined up along one of the shelves in this office bookcase, all marked up and tearstained. 

This was a good one. It was different. The author used a lot of culture sources that I am not always familiar with, but used them to point to Jesus; which was a good example for me of remembering I need to engage in the world, not be of the world, but also not check out entirely.

Which I tend to do frequently. 


The Hope of Christmas by Jack Countryman was the second book I pulled out of the collection of Christmas devotional reading I put out every year as part of our decor and then rarely take the time to read. 

I read a little more than half, just because I ran out of time, not for lack of interest. 

This is a sweet book that uses Scripture and then short writings to reflect on the prophecy, promise and fulfillment of the Christmas Story. It ties the Old and New Testament to our own life stories and I plan to finish it in January. 


Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado.

I read this, or at least part of it, years ago but loved reading it this year. I forgot how much I enjoy his writing and how you can hear his Texas drawl as he weaves stories from his life into the truth of Scripture and the truth of Scripture into the stories of his life.

I found that reading this in the evenings or during the day gave me a break from checking things off a list. It gave me the pause I needed to enjoy preparing for Christmas and not just focusing on a task-oriented mentality. 


The Message Study Bible by Eugene Peterson was my choice for an annual read through. I finished up Revelation on the morning of December 31st. And I can assure you….

best. book.ever.

I love the Bible, of course, but this version is such a treasure to me. It has been marked up over the years and has so many good study points. Peterson’s thoughtful insights inserted in between Scripture often bring me to tears. 

I am pretty sure I ordered on sale from some Christian book seller, but when I googled it to buy a copy for John, I discovered it is out of print and worth quite a bit on the market. 

It is worth so much more than money to me. 

So that’s December and 2021 reading report. 

I have thought about doing the annual read through again this year, but am opting to finish some Bible Studies and go back through The Message and my personal journal and dig into the many passages I starred or highlighted as I read through this year. 

I hope to share some of those with you. 

Every year I encourage you all to read through the Bible. I have done it several years and while I am not doing it this year, I can’t stress to you how much I hope you will read it.

Every time I do a read-through, I discover new and deeper insights.

It doesn’t take that long. 

If you just see how many pages your version is and divide by 365 and read that many pages a day, you can complete it. Sure there are days you will miss, so you read an extra one for a week and voila! You have read the entire Bible by New Year’s Eve.  

I know people say they would rather read small portions and get more out of it. That’s great.

But have you read the entire Bible? How can you say you stand on it as your truth if you have not even read all of it? A Chronological Bible is an excellent one to start with! 

There are many plans out there, but plans do not work for me. 

Keeping my Bible next to my morning chair and reading X number of pages is the only way I have made it a habit over the years. 

I hope you will try it. 

Okay, lecture over. 

Go out there and enjoy the day. 

We actually have sunshine here in the heartland today and I need to find my sunglasses! 

Hugs and I will see you tomorrow <3

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A little photo journal of Austin 2021 <3

For the record, traveling to see our son for the first time after a year and a half of Covid crazy (thankfully he has been able to come home but we have not been to see him) during the 20th anniversary of 9/11 for someone who carries far too much emotion any one human being needs to deal with may have pushed the envelope for this girl right here.

So as I decompress and hydrate myself from water loss due to tears, here are some photos from our little getaway to Austin this past weekend.

First off, I never ever ever get tired of having a window seat on a plane. While I suffer severe fear of heights when my feet are firmly planted on planet earth, I find looking out a plane window to be one of the greatest delights and can’t resist snapping pictures…

We also enjoyed the snacks tremendously since we could remove our masks while eating and drinking…we stretched that out as long as we could…

John had a bunch of fun and interesting things planned for our visit, but first we made a stop to his new office…

and I think all the moms would agree that stuff like this is just the best to get to sit and watch.

I am picture-hanging challenged so I just enjoyed watching these two work their magic.

We took in a baseball game at Round Rock with one of John’s high school buddies who also migrated to Texas.

John wanted us to see Fredericksburg this trip and particularly the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg is the home of Admiral Nimitz and let me tell you, they have spared no amount of square footage or ink to detail the entire story of the Pacific portion of WW 2.

It was like taking a history class…we literally spent three hours walking through and reading as much as our brains could absorb.

If you remember from my opening paragraph, my emotions were already on high intensity overload and when I read the dates of things and thought about my own parents being married several days before Christmas 1942, it hit home what things they lived through and just soldiered on with little complaint of the hand they were dealt.

My dad was born into the first great pandemic and the opening shots of WW1. My mom was born a year later. They lived through the Great Depression, the terrible flood of Louisville the year my mom should have graduated from high school. They were married at the onset of WW2.

They worked hard to make life good for me and to serve others and I am so thankful for them increasingly as the years pass.

The museum was hard. The hatred and conflict and horrors of war was not played down in the displays. Things our country did..things other countries did…showed the depth of cost that wars bring.

And so it was rather sweet to step outside and visit this lovely garden…

a gift from the people of Japan.

This sweet sign explains the heart behind it:

My mom and dad served in Japan after the war and made lasting friends with several Japanese families. They loved the country and their time there and I am grateful that is my memory planted from the war as a gift from my parents.

We returned to Austin in time to watch this one play softball..

which was fun to be cheering him on again from the bleachers and he still blows me kisses when he scores a run so that was sweet.

Afterward we made a run to Home Depot, cause that’s our thing…

We ate lots of good food, enjoyed being a part of a slice of his every day life and as always unsuccessfully fought back tears when we parted ways.

Always fun to visit Texas and always hard to leave that boy behind….but thankful he is always close at heart.

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Beach life, best life <3

I should have labeled this a bunch of randoms. Also be forewarned, it is as much photos as words, but both are important so bear with me.

We stayed at Santa Rosa Beach this time and found it to be quite family friendly area. The condo we stayed in provided public beach access within walking distance, lots of food and ice cream places and miles of walking.

It is not as congested and built up as some areas closer to Destin and we enjoyed the beach area, although one day we did enjoy a beach located in a state park area.

Once again the trip coincided with dear friends and the kiddos had a blast whether on the beach, in a pool, ordering ice cream while their parents had a date night…

or stalking reptiles in the wild…eeeeek….

all good.

I pray protection over these ties that bind in the years to come and hope these two families grow up and grow old together. We have been blessed to enjoy the ride and be included in the fun.

Friendships are fragile.

Sometimes they are lost on ground that one or the other or both cannot move past.

We know the heartache of this kind of loss and we know the joy of longevity that decided there was nothing more important than the relationship.

One day we enjoyed a little “golf” outing on Zach …

reliving Rachel’s childhood.

We took our three to Big Kahuna’s back in the day and as far as we can tell they have not changed one single thing except the prices….$$$$$$$$$$

Rachel proved she still has it with a couple of holes in one…

and while we sweated off several pounds of water, we had a great time.

And this one proved you don’t even have to swing a club to enjoy Big Kahuna’s:

Russ treated us to a Dolphin Cruise again.

We did one two years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The first one we did was on a smaller craft, this one was a double decker – both wonderful.

We saw a lot of dolphins and even some jelly fish which was interesting to watch.

At the end, the captain thanked us for joining the fun and reminded us that Jesus loves us.

That was a perk we weren’t expecting <3

As I looked through other photos, I realized that beach pictures can reveal more of us and our children than we need…but I am vulnerably sharing this one because it represents a most tender realization that this may have been the last year Caroline comes to tell me she’s tired and would I please hold her so she can rest a widdle bit.

I also share it as proof positive for those of you in my life who, when I say I cannot just wash my hair and go and you have told me you are sure it would be fine…it isn’t.

Now let’s all thank the good Lord I live in an age of blow dryers, curling irons and enough hair product to transform that hot mess into something that is presentable <3

We talked some with the kids and adults about the value of returning to the same place annually and landed on the fact that it is exciting to go and see new places, but there is also a kind of comfort in returning to an area and visiting familiar restaurants, doing the same night time crab hunt, ordering ice cream at the same window, hitting up the beach one night in your good clothes for a sundown pic…that feed the soul.

In a crazy world that changes hourly, there is something about the ocean that reminds me of the constancy of God.

Day in…day out…

the surf rolls in, the tides ebb and flow…

They bring their treasures up from the deep and return for more…

while we go on with the daily…

trying to keep our footing on calendars and schedules and relationships….

God is in control.

He created the vast ocean and all that lives in it and He created us.

He cares for us and He holds us together.

He sustains our lives and our times are in His Hands.

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