Monday, January 31, 2011

funny manners

Jones:  "Dad, we had a substitute at school today.  She had four earings in her ears and she had kind of a boy haircut.  She had a big ol' belly too. It stuck way out.  I thought she was going to be on Biggest Loser, but I didn't say that.  That would have been rude."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Song

Happy Birthday to Sister Sheila.  Best sister I've got.  Favorite daughter of my mother and favorite mother of my nephew.
This week's song is for her.  A live performance by one of my favorites, Bobby Bare.  I think this is his first time to be featured here on TOTP, but it won't be the last.   

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random and Butlers

Georgia took pictures of me and West.

Annie took pictures of Georgia, West and me.

Sleeping baby.

Jonesy's latest sleeping fashion. She builds a fort of couch pillows around her and she still wears a headband.

Alison and the kids came for an overnight visit. Cassidy and West, fun toes for Alison, and Georgia, Claire and Jones. I didn't get pics of the twins. :( We did venture out to McDonald's for lunch and an indoor playground with eight kiddos.
We had a fun two days together!

West standing. In his 0/3 mo pants :) They are almost too short, but they still fit in the waist.

West and Jonesy. So sweet.

The girls were being silly and kissing and hugging each other.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Saturday 1-22-11
The kids and I along with Kirsten and Madalyn went to Chili's for my birthday. Two adults and five kids. We were hoping to miss the lunch rush and we at 1. Annie and Madalyn dropped and spilled the salsa, the bowl broke, dropped an empty bowl but it did not break. West grabbed Kirsten's Diet Coke and spilled it. We had a super great waitress(and we tipped extra) We all enjoyed my free birthday brownie and ice cream! Then we all had to tour the ladies two stall bathroom before leaving. I finally asked(after approx.5min.) two ladies to please get out of the handicapped stall. Chili's is not the place to take measurements for handmade clothing.
We left Chili's with smiles and headed for Waco. We joined the Petersons and the Vaughts for an afternoon at Cameron Park Zoo.
Kirsten and Kara surprised me after the zoo with a babysitter and a girls night, but Kaitlyn starting throwing up on the way back to Temple. So, plan B. Jason kept all the girls and Kirsten, West and I went out for about two hours. We went to Lifeway. Spent 10 minutes in the parking lot trying to get two of the doors on the suburban to close. A nice man from the store ended up helping us and we got it fixed. After Lifeway, we decided to have ice cream for supper so we went to Maggie Moos. Yummm. Thanks to Kirsten and Kara for attempting to whisk me away and Thanks to Jason for enduring a "girly" evening (as he was introduced to Hannah Montana). Thanks to everyone who called, sent a text or email, or left a FB message.

The kids and I went to church. Jones is sporting a scarf under her headband. Annie is trying to wear her headband.

Justin took the girls shopping Sunday afternoon when he got home. They had my party at small group. There was cheesecake, flowers, presents, and singing! Justin picked calla lillies, Jones picked roses and Georgia picked orange daises. Beautiful! I also received a fancy new sleeping pillow and the second* best birthday card from my husband. It was great to celebrate with my family and our extended home group family. Thank you for making me feel special!
*First place is from eight birthdays ago. The book with a ring, poems, letters, you singing me a song, and then asking me to marry you is kinda hard to beat! I love you.

Justin, G, A, W and I went to have lunch with Jones at school. We all got in line and had our own trays. Annie was in awe with so many kids in one room that she did not eat her lunch. Georgia was intent on taking note of the lunch procedure.

Our family dinner was at Texas Roadhouse. Good waiter, good food, great family! Fantastic birthday!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TOTP Behind the Music

I looked at my fasebook page this morning and saw this picture:
 I don't know the guy who took it or posted it, but I guess my friend Craig, who is a friend of this guy who took the picture, had commented on it. (I'm still unclear about the way fasebook works)
It is a picture of the cafe in Tatum, NM.  I've only eaten there a few times.  Famous for their steakfingers. 
Seeing the picture made me think of Joel, and thinking of Joel made me think of using Shenandoah's biggest hit as the Song of the Week.
Whenever Joel and I traveled together Shenandoah always ended up in the CD player, with "Next to You, Next to Me" and "Two Dozen Roses" always getting several repeat plays.  I think Joel liked "Two Dozen Roses" best, but it's a heartache breakup song and I prefer this one.
If you ever leave Texas heading west on Hwy 380, don't settle for the Alsup's chimichanga.  Visit the cafe and sit a spell, eat some steakfingers and buy some  metal art.

Ridin' down the road in my pick-up truck
You'd better get ready cause I'm pickin' you up
With a full moon a shinin' and a little bit a' luck
We'll run out outta gas and maybe get stuck

We could get lost baby I don't care
I ain't worried as long as you're there
There ain't no place that I'd rather be
Next to you, sittin' next to me

There ain't no place that I'd rather be
Next to you, next to me

Barbecue chicken in aluminum foil
Just enough money for my gas and oil
Who needs your shrimp and your caviar
I'd sooner have you just the way you are

Rich people got their money to hold
Mansion on the hill 'n diamonds and gold
It can't compare as far as I can see
Next to you, sittin' next to me

There ain't no place that I'd rather be
Next to you, next to me

Radio playin' our favorite song
I'll change the station if the news comes on
When the signal ain't comin' in too strong
We'll make our music honey all night long

If the Good Lord's willin' when we're old and gray
The kids are grown up and moved away
We'll be rockin there side by side
With the barbecue chicken and the T.V. guide

Well, there ain't no place that I'd rather be
Next to you, sittin' next to me

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Last Night's Conversation

When I go to work it’s usually just me and another guy in the cab of a locomotive for 8 to 12 hrs.  Usually someone different each trip.  I get along with just about everybody, but I like working with some better than others, either for personality reasons or safety reasons.  When the phone rang at 12:30 last night and I heard who I was working with I let out a groan.  Double whammy with this guy.  I knew it was going to be a long trip.  No, it wasn’t the guy I wrote about before.Click here to read that story  A different kind of different.  Personality and safety concerns with this one.  He has been pulled from service three times in the last couple of years for signal violations that I know of, and is not someone that I feel especially safe riding the rails with.

The word that comes to mind with this guy is weirdo. (Mom and Sister, think Mr. Jerry Johnson of Lake View science fame.)  
He’s getting close to retirement now.  Legend has it that Rocky (yes, that is his real name) started out his railroad career 30 years ago on a maintenance work gang, but was struck in the head by some heavy equipment.  After having steel plates installed to repair his skull, the railroad offered him a job in train service since he could no longer perform the labor required on the work gang.  If they had just fired him outright he would have had a lawsuit against them.

I’ve only worked with him a couple of times before last night.  One time he didn’t say a word.  The other time he broke out in song every thirty minutes or so, singing 70’s rock anthems and Wierd Al’s greatest hits.  
I remembered that the last time I worked with him he had been going through some health problems so as an attempt at conversation last night I asked him how all of that had worked out.  Here’s the transcript of the conversation that transpired over the next couple of hours..........

“Well, I had some heart surgery, and the dye they used to track my blood flow destroyed my kidneys.  When I got out they said I was down to 24% and was gonna die, but now they’re functioning at 42%, so I guess I’m getting better.”
I just nodded.
“They don’t really know anything though.  One time a doctor told me that I had sorosis of the liver from my ten years of chemo and that I probably had liver cancer and was going to die.  He said that in front of my wife and she went crazy.  He was a sorry SOB.”
I couldn’t believe it (still don’t really), so I asked, “What did you have that required ten years of chemo?”
“Oh, they were trying to kill that virus.”
“What virus?”
“Hepatitis C.  But, they checked me out before my heart surgery and said that my liver was fine and couldn’t find a trace of hepatitis in me.”  
I didn’t know how to respond so I didn’t.
“Yep, I keep trying to kill me, but I keep survivin’.” He paused long enough to light another cigarette. “I got a bunch of scars though.  My heart scar looks pretty cool now.”  
I think he really wanted me to ask if I could see it, but I didn’t.  I didn’t say anything.
After twenty minutes of silence he said,“I wish I could still drink.”
I didn’t reply.
“I like drinkin’.” he stated matter of factly, then continued,  “but I drank four beers last August and thought I was gonna die.”  
Again, I said nothing.
(two minute pause)
“So, I know I can’t drink Wild Turkey or mess with Jose.”
Then he took another long draught from his second 1 liter Dr. Pepper bottle of the night and I had to ask, “Rocky, isn’t all that Dr. Pepper tough on your kidneys?”
“Nah,” he replied, “I don’t drink half as much of it as I used to.”
An hour later he opened the refrigerator and yelled, “Shit!”
“What’s wrong, Rocky?”, I couldn't help but ask.
“I thought I had another Dr Pepper in here.”, he said with a look of defeat on his face.  
A little while later he opened a bottle of water, took a swig, and went into convulsive choking fits.  When he recovered he said simply, “Drinking water makes me choke.  I ain’t used to it.”  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Glorious but not so Glamorous

This is a response for my dear friend Lisa in Alaska. I am going to try to answer her questions and share some insights into having a “large” family.

A few days ago Justin was calling for me and found me in the girl’s bathroom with Annie in the assumed “wipe me” position. As I stood up we were laughing, and it occurred to me…. My life is full and glorious, but not so glamorous at times.

I always thought I would have four kids. So do I feel “done” since I’ve had number four? I don’t know. Ladies that I have talked to say they “know” when they are done having babies. They describe it being like feeling that overcomes you when you know you found the man that you are to marry. You can’t explain it, but it’s that calming assurance that overwhelms your inner being. I asked my doctor at my last appointment if there was any medical reason I shouldn’t have any more babies. Her answer was no.

Is being pregnant hard? Yes. Is it part of being a woman? Yes. From Genesis 3:16, it’s a part of my role in this life. Do I like being tired or throwing up or being nauseated? No. Do I like not being able to tie my own shoes? No. Do I like the constant worry of feeling the baby move or worrying if everything is ok from month to month appointments? No. Did I complain? Yes. But why should I complain and be bitter about my temporary pregnant condition? I love the rush of love nanoseconds after seeing my baby for the first time! I like seeing other people hold my babies and love on them too. I don’t look forward to that time of mourning when I know my baby making days are done.

We realize that our home is loud, constant, and chaotic to most people. I realize that my life with lots of kids and a husband with a crazy schedule is not for every woman. Some people ask, “How do you do it with four? I am exhausted with one or two kids.” The answer is simple. I just do it. I do my best to be strong and focused. I try to do what needs to be done one day at a time without complaining. I talk myself through the day. One thing at a time. Step by step. Have patience. I ask for help when I need it. I am devoted to my husband and to raising our children to be godly adults.

Is it easy everyday? No. Are there days when I want to sleep, shop, read, eat a warm meal or get to eat first, get in and out of the car without taking 10 minutes? Yes. Are there days when I am ashamed of my behavior as a parent? Yes. But, the days that end with extra hugs and kisses, days where the laughter overtakes the house, when they look at you and snuggle you with complete love make it all worth it. Which one of my kids would I not want? God made our kids so unique and perfect, each in their own way.

We are not perfect parents. We have learned to trust others. I cannot watch my children 24/7 and do it right all the time. We have to have help sometimes, and I have learned to ask for help when I need it. And whether it’s Bible class, a babysitter, or the daycare at the gym, we have learned to have trust, grace, patience, and gratitude when someone else is watching our kids. They are not perfect either. As Francesca Battistelli sings, perfection is my enemy.

When I was pregnant with the girls I threw up mornings and nights for the first four or five months and then again the last month or two. I threw up so much that Jones would mimic me. Half way through a meal, she would run to the bathroom. With West I was nauseated all day long. I would be so tired that I would parent from the couch. We would read lots of books, color, puzzles, blocks, sing, watch PBS and movies. Most mid mornings we would still make it to the gym, story time, or ladies Bible class. The afternoons were usually good for me, we would nap and then go outside or in the garage to play. After supper or after the girls went to bed was when I would try to get the dishes and laundry done. The days I did feel good, I made the effort to do the deep cleaning jobs. When Justin is home, he steps in and makes supper, does the dishes, and lets me sleep late in the morning. (I say that sentence in present tense because he still does all those things and more.) It works well that he is a morning person and I’m a night person.

Justin and I also made it a priority to make sure the youngest could do certain jobs before the next baby was born. They could pick out their clothes, dress and undress themselves, get in and out of the kitchen chair and be able to sit to eat/color etc., feed themselves, get in and out of the bathtub, use a washcloth in the tub, do their own seat belt buckles, be able to walk in stores, church, and library holding my hand and follow commands as we walk through a parking lot.

I have two terrific mentor moms. One is a grandmother who doesn’t have any of her own grandchildren here. She (they) have taken ours in as adoptive grandchildren. They have four children too, and she and her husband are so wonderful to us as they teach us, love us, and help us with the kids and our marriage. The other lady is such a blessing in my life. She has taught me to cook, she is awesome at crafts, she is my workout motivator, and my go to for advice and counsel. We cried together this past September as her youngest went off to college and our oldest started Kindergarten. Her husband has a job with a crazy schedule too, so she is wonderful to talk to because she has experienced the lifestyle I am living. I am a big believer in Titus 2, learning from the older women.

Justin and I have been listening to Vision Forum’s Baby Conference over the past several months. It has covered several different topics from naming your child, to adoption, the effects of feminism on today’s families. It’s been a real eye opener. Our family is now considered a large family in today’s society because we have more than two children. We know one family who has seven children, and I met a lady at a restaurant this past week with her tenth baby. This is a new experience for Justin and me since we both come from two children families.

We are learning as we go, but the Lord has provided for us all along the way.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Happy Birthday Jonesy. She had a birthday party at Burger King with friends, Jamie H. and Mimi, and then a birthday dinner with family(Justin made it in) at Golden Corral(her choice) . Thank you to everyone who wished her a happy day. She has blessed our lives and we are grateful to God for entrusting her to us.

Jones worked hard to earn money for the past several months. She saved to pay half the cost of her new bike. She got her ears pierced for her birthday and she bought a new dress and shoes(from Gran-nola). The snowman (presents) were from Mimi. Thanks for the great decoration Mimi!

Happy Birthday to Jones---Amen, Bro. Ryan

 Today is Jonesy's 6th birthday.  She got her ears pierced for the occasion and is hosting her own surprise party at Burger King this afternoon.  I adore her "style".
Ryan is an insurance salesman, not a preacher, but he delivered a humdinger of a message to his home congregation last week.  If you have children you need to hear this.
6-01 Truth vs. Fiction by R Versus

Justin, Ryan, and Baby Jones.- January 10, 2005

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In Response...

“I request that both you and Leslie write on the topic so I can hear both of your perspectives, if that's not too much to ask. How did you decide to have four children? We're about to have number two, as you know, and are considering at least one more... but have some questions about how that would all work. Seems like you guys are doing great at it, and our families have lots of similarities (I'm a stay-at-home mom, too; Dave's schedule is erratic and nutty; we want to please God and raise our kids to know Him; our families don't live nearby - though we have you way beat on this one!; etc...).”            -Lisa in Alaska

I’ll begin with saying that I believe in the Providence of the Lord Almighty.  It is a beautiful mystery and I don’t claim to understand it.  I believe and profess a faith in it.  
I could end my response right there, but I suspect that you want a little more than that so I’ll try to explain a little more, but in reading the rest of this and in your own day to day, I encourage you to keep those first three sentences in mind.
Another thing to keep in mind:  Words are important.  I believe that we are created in the image of God, therefore I believe that the words we speak into our world have power just as the words of God have power.   I’ll probably work on another post further exploring this idea.
You asked how did we “decide” to have four children.  Unless you are adopting, and even then outcomes are uncertain, you can’t decide to have any number of children unless that number is zero.  I’ve seen a lot of heartache result from people using words like “we’ve decided to get pregnant”.  God the Creator is the Giver of Life.   

When we were first married Leslie was on the pill.  After a few months of marriage I found myself watching that little packet of pills on the counter and dreading the fourth row.  When she got to the fourth row, my normally kind and sweet wife became not so sweet and kind.  I didn’t know how to handle it (what man does?).  She would get upset with herself and apologize.  I tried my best to be understanding, but we both grew tired of the emotional rollecoaster.
Like so many newlyweds we had a desire for children, but didn’t feel confident that we were financially secure enough to start making babies right away.  We talked a lot about it and finally fell back on our belief in the Providence of the Lord.  Leslie went off the pill.  We had faith that if and when she became pregnant that the Lord would provide.  Her emotions smoothed out even though Aunt Flo’s visits were still a little stressful sometimes.  About six month later, I started working for the railroad and a week after that we found out that she was pregnant with Jonesy.  
Our kids are, 15 months, 22 months, and 27 months apart.  Believe it or not, we did employ some other forms of pregnancy prevention between them, but our love for our children and the desire for more always won out.  In fact Leslie was disappointed at not getting pregnant fast enough between #3 and #4.  
I think Leslie would agree with me that our attitudes about having children have changed, matured, and taken on new perspective over the course of our marriage.  
Today’s cultural norm is to get married, delay childbearing, and “decide” to have two children.  Among Christians and pagans alike it is the norm.  Why? ( I could give you a list of reasons why I think that has become the norm, but I think I’ll leave that to those of you who wish to take advantage of the comments section. )  
Over the course of my marriage and experience as a father, it has become difficult for me to reconcile praying “thy will be done” and reading scriptures extolling the blessings of having children with today’s family planning culture.
My mom was one of six kids, and her father was one of thirteen.  When I was growing up she often proudly pointed this out to me.  I remember wondering to myself, ‘If a bunch of kids was so great then why does everybody just have two these days?”  My dad was one of four, and both of my parents grew up in houses that weren’t any bigger than the one Leslie and I own.  We recently heard someone say that our generation has come to love drywall more than children.  Is that true?  Leslie and I are often baffled by people who love our kids, always want to hold our babies, and tell us how precious they are then say that they don’t want to have anymore of their own because they can’t afford them or don’t have room for them.
I believe that children are a blessing, not a liability to be figured into a cost analysis. I’m proud that the Lord has seen fit to bless us with four of them, but please understand that I’m not saying that a barren womb is a curse.  Having a beautiful voice is a blessing, but that doesn’t mean that not being able to carry a tune is a curse.  
I believe that if you are willing to accept the blessing of children from the Lord, then you should give it over to Him.  I don’t have any official stats, but I would guess that raising up a passel of children in the fear and admonition of the Lord is probably more effective in fulfilling the great commission than leaving your life savings to a missionary fund.
Like many newlyweds who grow weary of the “So when are you going to have kids?” questions, Leslie and I sometimes get weary of “don’t you know what causes that?” and “are you done?”.
My answers are we enjoy what causes that and we’ll let the Lord decide.  

I know that Leslie is working on her response to Lisa’s question, and I’m sure that she’ll offer a different perspective.  I know my response may lead to more questions and I welcome them.  As I often say, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a lot of opinions.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Song of the Week

This week’s song is Nora Jones performing “Hands on the Wheel”, from Willie’s Red Headed Stranger album. 

Red Headed Stranger was released in 1975 and became the first platinum selling country album. It is a brilliantly constructed concept album that is best listened to in its entirety.
It contains the song “Time of the Preacher” which I borrowed for the title of this blog, the classic “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, the gospel classic “Just as I Am”, and “Red Headed Stranger.”  The album and the story it tells were eventually turned into a movie of the same title with Willie in the staring role.  It should have won an Oscar for best picture in 1986, but was shunned by the Academy in a political conspiracy that gave the award to Oliver Stone’s “Platoon”.

I included “Hands on the Wheel” on the first mixtapeCD that I gave to Leslie during our courtship.  It is a beautiful piece of poetry set to music. 

“Hand’s on the Wheel”
At a time when the world seems to be spinning hopelessly out of control,
There's deceivers and believers and old in-betweeners,
That seem to have no place to go.
Well, it's the same old song, it's right and it's wrong,
And living is just something that I do.
And with no place to hide, I looked in your eyes,
And I found myself in you.
I looked to the stars, tried all of the bars.
And I've nearly gone up in smoke.
Now my hand's on the wheel, I've something that's real,
And I feel like I'm going home.

And in the shade of an oak down by the river,
Sat an old man and a boy,
Settin' sail, spinnin' tales and fishin' for whales,
With a lady they both enjoy.
Well, it's the same damn tune; it's the man in the moon.
It's the way that I feel about you.
And with no place to hide, I looked in your eyes,
And I found myself in you.
I looked to the stars, tried all of the bars.
And I've nearly gone up in smoke.
Now my hand's on the wheel, I've something that's real,
And I feel like I'm going home.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time of the Preacher Resolutions for 2011

1.  Now that I have a laptop to take on the road with me, I resolve to not have extended lapses between posts.

2.  I’ve decided to join facebk as a way of increasing traffic here at TOTP.
I heard the other day that facebk is now worth $50 billion.  When I went to the facebk site to check it out, I saw that they have a slogan:  “It’s free, and always will be.”  Then I started thinking.
With advertising revenue down and most subscribers more than six months behind in their subscription payments, I’ve decided to offer Time of the Preacher free to the public.  It is my hope that by joining forces with facebk, TOTP traffic will increase leading to increases in advertising revenue.  I plan to eventually be bought out by gougle or yahou.  Then I’m going to retire and move to Mexico.

3.  I’m going to keep a record of the books I read and try to do a review of each one.  I’ve intended to do this in the past, but I’m going to resolve rather than intend it this time, so hopefully it will get done.

4.  I’m going to document a week of life on the railroad with as much detail as I can.  It is it’s own micro-culture and is a hard thing to explain.  I think if I can document a full week, then perhaps my friends and family will understand why I don’t know if I’ll be there tomorrow, but I fish a lot in the middle of the week.  

5.  I’m going to take requests.  I’ve done this a time or two and am already working on the first one of 2011 (see the comments section from the Jan 1st post), but I’m going to open it up to all of you now.  If you have a request for an article you can email me or leave it in the comments section.

6.  I resolve to resume the reader profiles that I started last year.
I think six resolutions is enough.  I hope your new year is off to a good start. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where are you headed?

As 2011 gets underway, I feel a need to take stock of things as they are, count my many blessings, and set about forming a vision for the year to come.
Leslie and I recently heard something from an older woman on a panel discussion on parenting and family life.  It was a very simple statement, but also very true and it has been on my mind continually since I heard it last week.  She said, “You will end up where you are headed.”  She then described taking note of some friends when she was younger and thinking to herself, “They are headed for a divorce if they don’t start treating each other better.”  They did eventually divorce.  They got where they were headed.   And of another couple she thought, “If they don’t stop spending money like this they are going to end up bankrupt.”  They did end up bankrupt.  Simple yet profound.  We will reap what we sow.  
I’ve heard a lot of talks and seen plenty of books and commentary on the fruits of the Spirit, and most of them seem backwards to me.  They often admonish us to do or be the things described in Galations 5, love, be joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, etc... in order that we may be filled with the Spirit, but that is not what St. Paul said.  He said, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” and that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Fruit is the result of seeds planted.  My prayer is that I may sow seeds of righteousness in my life, that my family might reap the fruits of the Spirit filled life.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”  Ecclesiastes 11:1

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year

Even though the rest of the world has flown to facebk, I’m going to continue on here in the blogosphere.  My number one reason for keeping this blog is to have a record of our life for my children to look back on when they are older.  My number two reason is to keep our current readers updated on what is happening in our life.  My number three reason is to allow myself an outlet for my writing.  I’ve always enjoyed writing and this is a great  format for me.  As I’ve expressed in several recent posts, I’ve struggled lately to find computer time at home to write and post.  Well, Santa Claus brought me a laptop to take on the road so I should have ample time at the hotels to write more this year.  As an aside...My daughters all learned the words to the Christmas classic, “Santa Looked a lot Like Daddy”.  Makes me smile every time they sing it.see
I’m considering opening a Time of the Preacher facebk account to reconnect with some people and to be able to see pictures of family and friends. 

To start this year’s blogging I’d like to review 2010......

  My son was born.  He tops the list for 2010.  “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full with them!”

Jonesy and Georgia went camping with me.  So much fun that we’re planning to do it again this year with Leslie, Annie, and West hopefully making the transition from daycampers to overnighters.

 Leslie and I completed Financial Peace University and, in the midst of the “Great Recession”,  had our best year ever financially.  Not because we made a lot more money in 2010, but because we budgeted every paycheck and were faithful in our giving.  
Jones has been saving for the last several months to buy a new bicycle.  I told her if she would work to earn and save half the cost of the new bike that I would pay the other half.  She recently surpassed her goal.  Before we went bicycle shopping, I took her aside and did my best to explain to her about giving of our firstfruits when the Lord blesses us.  I showed her our budget notebook and she saw that at the top of each budget is our giving.  She cheerfully side a portion to place in the offering at church.  I was awed at her understanding and further encouraged to do my best to be a good example of stewardship for my children.

Jones started Kindergarten.  This has been a big life changer for our family.  After years of living on a railroad schedule, or lack of schedule, we’ve had to adjust to a school calendar.  We’ve been blessed to have a great teacher, principal, and school for our daughter.

Georgia started Tuesday/Thursday pre-school.  She continues to mature and has become quite the big sister and is especially protective and possessive of her little brother.

Annie is continuous entertainment.  She loves to sing and talk and is usually doing one or the other if she is awake.

Leslie held us all together.  She painted toes and kept other people’s kids for a little extra income and continued to lead and participate in Mother’s Of Pre-Schoolers, her Ladies Bible class, and her mom’s meet-up group.  

I read a lot of good books in 2010.  I’ll try to recount some of the highlights here in no particular order:
I read the first eight of the seventeen books in Louis L’Amour’s Sackett saga.  Lots of powerful life lessons in those books and I look forward to reading the rest of them.
I read several of Elmer Kelton’s and Zane Grey’s books.  My favorite being “The Call of the Canyon” in which the West was almost its own character and confirmed for me the naming of my son.
I read (and am almost finished with) Herman Wouk’s “Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance”.  I’ve learned more about World War II from these books than I ever learned in any history class.  
I read a few more of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.  Great entertainment.
I read Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s “The Duggar’s:  20 and Counting”.  This was one of the most encouraging, practical, instructive, and spiritually uplifting books I’ve ever read.  I would highly recommend it to anyone.  
I read a couple of Francine River’s novellas.  “The Priest” and “The Prophet”.  I’ve never been disappointed by any of her works.  She ranks as one of my favorite authors.
“Story Craft” by John Erickson, the author of Hank the Cowdog.  A book on writing, art, and life.  
I read the History of Roosevelt County, NM.  I don’t remember the exact title, but it was compiled by the editors of the newspaper there and published in the 70’s in celebration of the county’s 75th anniversary.  I also read a couple of other books and booklets on the settling of that region that I received from my Grandma.  It’s important to learn about where and who you come from.

I got to attend the 3rd Annual Weekend at the Lake with a bunch of my college friends.  There were 12 of us there this year.  It has become one of the highlights of each year and plans are already being made for this  year’s get together.

I had to say goodbye to Willie, my faithful canine companion.  I often told people that I’d had him longer than I’d had my wife.  He was a good dog.

Jones and I got to meet Willie Nelson the day before West was born.  Just a short visit at the Austin airport, but a chance meeting that I will always remember.
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