Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Day in the Wild Wild West!

Today we really enjoyed a family fun day. We've been anticipating for a long time our community's wild west celebration. There were booths galore, jump houses, and the kiddie rodeo to top it off. The rodeo actually didn't start until 12:30p and honestly, we had thought about leaving around 1p to get everyone home for naps before church. Glad we stayed.
Timothy, in the 4 & under category, signed up for barrel racing and bull riding. He had a great time with both, enjoying his stick horse games alot. He got some good points for his barrel racing skills, but not enough to win.
But the bull riding competition was another story. (Again with a bull head on a stick horse), Timothy was having so much fun. I'm sure that was a huge hit with the judges. After the first round, Timothy and another 4-year-old were tied. So they had a ride-off and the tension was mounting (OK, Dad was sweating bullets and heart pounding....Timothy was digging around into the hay somewhat oblivious that he was in the finals!) But when it was game-time, Timo did great...even better the second time. He scored a 7.0 from the judges after his 8 seconds. We politely cheered on the other kid (ha) but my heart leaped when the judges posted his score at 6.9. What a proud and fun moment to hear Timothy's name called out by the rodeo announcer as the Champion Bull Rider! He was called back into the "arena" and presented a shiny new Justin belt buckle by the mayor himself! What a fun day.
We loved celebrating with him throughout the day....he was so proud of his buckle at church tonight! And when I was praying for him as he went to bed, he smiled so big when I said in my prayer, "and God thank you that my son is the World Champion Bull Rider." He is such a cute kid and I love him so much!
It was fun to be with all our kids and see them have so much fun. What a blessing!
Friday afternoon football with Timo aka Woody, Payton, Benjamin and Jonathan

FUNNY ! ! ! !

This cracks us up! We have laughed so hard each time we watch it. Called "The Mom Song" or "William Tell Momisms", here's the author's personal website so you can find out more:

(Click on the arrow button in the lower left to activate and view the 3 minute short clip)

Have a great Saturday - we're off to spend a few hours at a festival nearby celebrating the wild wild West - lots of fun stuff for the kids. -Randy

Monday, September 24, 2007

Look at this beautiful girl's hair!! These curls are precious and she has a million of them! Yes this is a challenge for me but I am learning little by little!

Our weekend was filled with family time...washing cars, a picnic in the park, drawing at the kitchen table, and just hanging out around the house. It was good to be together.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A great time in Abilene

We have had a wonderful time this week in Abilene. Since last Friday our entire family has been to either Baird (where we have a family ranch) or to Abilene in shifts. Timothy and Tori were able to go for the weekend with Aunt Becky and Uncle Tony, Payton and Benjamin, Uncle Andy and my parents...they had a blast! Then Tori came home on Sunday night with Uncle Tony so that she could go to school on Monday. I left Monday morning with Jonathan and Lael to go to Abilene so that I could hear my sister Becky speak at the ACU lectures. She spoke Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I returned home Tuesday night and Randy left early Wednesday morning so that he could spend 2 days in Abilene, attending lectures and talking with professors and special friends. He just returned this evening. Although we have been separated as a family we have had a wonderful week of reconnecting with people who are so dear to us.

There is something about being in Abilene that just feels so good. ACU is such a special place and I LOVE being on campus. It looks so different from when we were there but the Spirit is the same and the memories of my time in school and the transformations in my life that took place there are such treasures in my heart.

The Lord richly blessed a classroom full of people through my sister this week. I know I was blessed, encouraged and challenged with deeper thoughts and of course her thoughts were appropriately filled with lots of stories drawing us into tears one second and hearty laughter the next!

We received a great progress report from Tori's teacher this week. Tori is doing well and getting in a groove where she is comfortable and more able to concentrate.
God is answering so many specific prayers in regards to Tori's third grade year.
I am so thankful to the Lord and I am SO proud of Tori.

I have had some hilarious moments with my kids this week that have just caused me to laugh hard outloud....this is a sign to me as well that I am getting more into a groove where I am comfortable and more able to concentrate and truly enjoy my children! Thank you Lord!

This picture was taken Monday night before Paw had to return to Fort Worth...he literally was slow crusing around with these 5 fun loving kids. They are crazy about their Paw!

These were taken on the ACU campus Tuesday evening as we were leaving after attending the WACU dinner (Women for ACU) where Peggy Nelson spoke. She was delightful. She is a wonderful refreshing shining light for the Lord and I am so blessed to know her as a dear friend. Jeanene Reese, another dear friend had arranged for 2 ACU students to babysit our kids so that my mom, Becky and myself could attend the dinner. They were such fun girls that our kids hardly noticed when we dismissed ourselves from the room. It was also a blessing just to see how content the kids were (my 3 and Becky's 2) just as long as they were in the same room together.

It was so great to see our kids walking around the campus! We certainly dream of the day they will be there together making memories and forever friends!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thoughts from Randy

On re-entry thoughts: in the past week, Kelly and I both have been blessed by opportunities to speak to churches regarding our experiences in Benin and how good God is! What a privilege to share all that God has done in us and through us. I know, too, that with all the preparation for speaking, our hearts have been more attune toward our friendships in Benin. ALL of us, including Tori and Timothy, have all been talking more about that life. We have no regrets about leaving Benin and we desire to embrace completely this life as we are experiencing it here in America. They are so drastically different, though! During my speaking last weekend, I related a piece that I caught on the PBS channel. It was on kids at NASA seeing what it was like to be an astronaut. Cool! The kids got their own suits, helmets and loved the weightless experience as they experienced what it was like to be without gravity. Then the part that caught my attention: as I watched this one kid, all giddy with excitement and a smile bigger than his face, the announcer said, “now for the re-entry simulator machine.” The kid was strapped in to this contraption with every cord, belt and harness they could find. Still, the 12-year old boy thought he was the coolest thing on the planet. Then all that changed. They turned on the simulator and it rocked him in every angle, flipped him randomly and vigorously, and then did it backwards! It was a very short moment, but when that young boy stumbled out of his seat, he was not a happy camper, quite a bit nauseous and so dizzy he couldn’t stand up straight. The astronaut coach told all the kids in a very unassuring voice, “we want our astronauts to feel the full affect of atmospheric re-entry. We purposely intend for this machine to disorient them.” I couldn’t help but relate as we have recently crashed through the wall of cultural re-entry. As one passes from the magical world of mission work where we are constantly in a land of new discoveries and experiences, in order to re-join our families and life back home, we have to break through that barrier. It is challenging, confusing, draining, and totally disorienting! But it is not impossible, as God is eager to walk us through each and every day, each experience of pain and every baby step of victory! We feel like kids learning how to walk! But we also enjoy a unique perspective having stepped foot on another world. We are different because for the past decade, we have poured ourselves into people much different than us, learned to communicate in 2 different languages nothing like our native English, and we did it all with our Savior by our side. He is walking through each step of re-entry with us! If you are soon to go through Mach15 explosion into American atmosphere, get ready! God is ready to go before you, go through it with you, and be at your back at every turn.

Tori is enjoying 3rd grade…tomorrow is school picture day! Tonight was her school’s annual Elementary School parade and carnival. We love Tori’s teacher and know confidently she is the one the Lord picked out for our 8-year-old. Thank you Ms. Goin for reaching out to Tori in such special ways. As the pictures show, when we got home, the kids were so hot and sweaty (plus sticky from the free popsicles), we decided “the car” needed a good washing. It was fun to get all wet (saved time on bathtime later!) and the car did get clean in the process.

At this time, I am enjoying much exploring from so many different angles and talking to a number of mentors and people involved in the marketing/graphic design/advertising industry. Ever since I was in high-school, I have loved this field (thus my degree in Marketing from Abilene Christian). It is fun and yet I know it is a field with many challenges, competition and so much new software out there! I am enjoying my new MAC (thanks MC for the encouragement down that road) and my Adobe CS3 software. I am getting to spend a good part of every day learning all this software can do. The more I learn, the more I can do freelance. If the Lord desires we be in business for ourselves, we will pursue this full-time. We are also sensitive to His guidance if we could find employment in this arena alongside others.

My 3 Wal-Mart Shoppers!
They are SO precious!
We tackled grocery shopping together was defintely a BIG event for all of us.
I hope what we bought will last for a long time because
I have no desire to tackle that task again for a long time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bedtime stories with Tori! After dinner we had some family football!!

Jonathan has made his own car and he is going places!

Going to school!

Last week was a difficult week. I became very sick with a throat infection and it completely wiped me out. It also seemed to be the week that everyone in our family started verbalizing how much they miss Benin. We do deeply miss our friends there. In the same breath I have to say we are SO where we want to be right now....adjusting just takes time. And it is hard to give myself time.

This past Tuesday I was given the great privilege of speaking to the Preston Crest Church of Christ's Ladies Bible Class. It was such a privilege and blessing for me. I was asked to speak about our life in Africa and about how our faith sustained us through the years....I knew immediately that this was something I would be so thrilled to do! This is most definitely always an opportunity to show off MY GOD! I was so blessed in the preparation as I recalled the countless ways that he demonstrated his presence to us in ways that forever changed us!

The verse that I believe could be the theme for our entire time in Benin is Genesis 15:1

Do not be afraid,

I am your shield.

I am your very great reward.

Just 2 years after being in Benin, we had experienced trauma, confusion, disillusionment, and we were struggling with depression. And we were alone. We were acutely aware that we were very fragile and that we could not continue to live there in our own strength. We had been too casual in our approach to how we would live. We realized that we were going to have to be intentional, making deliberate choices to be in the Word, setting aside time for worship, and choosing to believe God to be who he says He is, even when we could not understand Him at the time. As we spent time in consistent study of His Word and spent time in Worship, we were reminded of who God is and that He CAN be fully trusted with the details of our lives.

Over the years we came to LOVE our life in Benin and find great joy in living there. Our minds became trained to look for God in a hard place where the difficulties seem to never stop.

There were always a million reasons to go home. Even so, God poured himself into our broken lives and filled us up with HIS perseverance and His strength. We could never look back on those times and think we are really tough or super strong. Randy and I both know we were weak and the fruit that has come from our time in Benin was from God and not from us.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Knowing Him and enjoying his full attention became our great reward. That is his promise,

that HE IS (presently) the great reward.

God is so good. I could never say enough about Him. I love Him completely and believe that there is nothing better that we can do with our lives than to be loving him and serving him.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

All 4 Jeffrey kids, Randy, Tony, and Emille, all 8 grandkids, and my Mom and Dad were together this weekend at
Rock Ridge Ranch in Baird, Texas!
We had so much fun being together. These pictures tell the story!