An Everyday Person who led an Extraordinary Life

Coweta, Oklahoma not that big on the map really.  It's where my husband grew up and it has a lovely little downtown street. For most of us it is probably not where any one of us would choose two high schoolers to change the lives of people all over the world.  But God uses the least suspecting people who are willing to say yes and not look back to work for him. 

At age 89 a sweet soul went to heaven yesterday and the angels sang. I pass daily a mailbox with the name Bright on it always wondering if they are family and if they know Vonette and Bill and their friend Jesus. In Coweta I often take a "fast" road named after Bill Bright  and I wonder how many people know who he was. Two regular people who said yes. They were trusted with little and given much. They taught me about the Holy Spirit  and how he is the power source to do all God asks you to do. Then they taught me something that no math teacher could ever have taught me... The power of multiplication.  I was blessed to serve on staff as a part of their ministry called CRU from 2000-2007.  

 Both Vonette and Jesus got a really good Christmas gift this year.. A friend they know well. 

Vonette's story in her own words:

Wrapping All the Way

This is the musical that our kids have been working on diligently since September!  They did so great!  They did plays at the orphanage in China so Caroline was a pro on stage and never missed a beat.  She knew the tune to all the songs (not necessarily the words or the meaning of them). Of course she insisted on listening to the CD over and over again in the car every day every time she was in it.  I was about to loose my mind. Actually truth be told I might have lost my mind a few times!

The evening was cuteness deluxe!  A nod to Whoville and Christmas vomit and you got Toonville in all it's glory!  The last minute shoes put it over the top and everything was sugar plum spectacular!

My other two kiddos on stage provided some unintentional comic moments one deciding he was done and screaming at us over the music from the stage that he wanted dinner!  I guess we should have thought about a quick snack beforehand.  Ooops!

The other had a moment with her cousin over the pipe cleaner hair twisty that was aiming for her eye!  I wish I had caught the whole moment in focus but I was literally in tears from laughing so hard.  The best moments are always unplanned.

I don't think they will ever be traveling to Hollywood for work but they are precious to me and they will have the best memories from this sugary sweet show!  The following clips will be probably more for our personal memories unless you like home videos :)

Yearly Getaway

Somethings remind me that we aren't fancy.  Our anniversary get away is one of those things.  We needed to get away from the house and from the kids to regain sanity and enjoy rest with each other.  Life is always busy and at times we feel like we are just surviving which will eventually run you dry of energy and joy.  We were able to persuade two sets of grandparents to take four kids each for a night while we drove as fast as we could across the border east to Arkansas.

It was a wonderful two days celebrating our 8th anniversary.  We watched a "grown up" movie and felt like we could converse with society again over the latest James Bond movie.

One of the days we drove to Prairie Grove and toured the Battlefield in that area.  It is hard to be grateful for what you have now unless you know a little about the past and the sacrifices those people made and what "hard work" actually looked like.   Hundreds on men died on the field just down this path during the civil war.  Real men with real families.
Praire Grove Battlefield
Praire Grove Battlefield
Praire Grove Battlefield
Praire Grove Battlefield
Praire Grove Battlefield

After touring the battlefield we went downtown Prairie Grove to all the antique stores.  So much to look at and enjoy.  This store was our favorite. It went on forever and ever. We happened to be there on customer appreciation day where all the shops downtown were giving out free holiday food.  It was an amazing bonus!!!
Prairie Grove Antique Stores
Before leaving the area we stopped by Appleown Fruit Stand.  It was the end of the season and they were almost out of supplies.  But it is a place that could tell stories and holds memories.  Grant remembers coming here with his grandparents on foliage drives.  To him it was sad.  Old towns die and memories fade but I enjoy hearing his stories since I never had the chance to meet his grandparents he loved so dearly.
 Cracker Barrel is our vacation restaurant we only eat there on trips so it stays special and the kids love it too.  Lots to look at and games to play on the table as well as lots of background noise so our family never sticks out.  It's perfect.

 On our way home we stopped by Siloam Springs.  They have a beautiful downtown perfect for fall pictures if you have a photographer.  Maybe one day I'll hire one for our family for now the timer worked ok ... a tripod would have been nice.
Siloam Springs Arkansas downtown in fall
Siloam Springs Arkansas downtown in fall
Siloam Springs Arkansas downtown in fall

Until next fall....

Gotcha Day Video

This is the last day of National Adoption month and yesterday we as a family went on stage at church and dedicated our daughter to the Lord.  After all she was his alone before she was ever ours.  He is the one that loved her and cared for her from the beginning.  One day our prayer is that she will see his loving hand in her story when life wasn't fair and that one day she will know Him personally.

 I wanted to share with you all a video that we made about Caroline's adoption from China.  It is her story and our story to become the family that we are today.  Some people call the day you receive your child through adoption Gotcha Day or Family Day.
Adoption from China 2015 Gotcha Day Video

Summer of 2014 I watched as many of these videos as I could trying to get a better picture of where God was leading us.  Seeing the process of adoption and the transformation of families who have braved this journey before us.  It was in watching these videos with wet cheeks that I personally solidified that I was "in".  Whatever the journey looked like for us I would follow where God led.  Often times a 5 year old girl who dreamed of a sister watched with me.  And eventually braved the question "Are we going to do that?".

Grant and I didn't tell anyone or ask anyone's opinion because well who in their right mind would tell us (with a 5, 3, and 1 year old) Go for it!  We knew this was God's leading for us.  Our "build a boat even when EVERYONE will think you are crazy" moment.  It is a journey of a lifetime even though the plane rides are over and the sibling arguing has begun the journey isn't done.  Now we go bravely for her heart for her trusting of us and of our God who loved her and formed her in a womb not my own who had a plan for her from the very beginning.  

You never know the power of story telling and how it can change a life...

If the video above does not play here is the link to it on Youtube:

The Good Dinosaur and some thoughts...

I'm not a movie critic.  I'm a Mom who happens to be a Christian so this review is from that perspective.  This the first time we have gone with all four kids to the movies and the first movie in the theatre that Luke (newly 3) and Caroline (newly adopted) have ever seen.  We went and saw The Good Dinosaur.  I had read no reviews and only knew from commercials that there was a green dinosaur and a toddler kid roaming around and getting into prehistoric trouble.

What I didn't know was that there was a movie short called Sanjay's Super Team that showed before the movie.  It was cute and entertaining.  The kid comes around to the Dad's point of view that the Hindu gods are awesome when he sees them as super heroes.

I could tell a few seats down our 7 year old knew something wasn't right when they started praying to the statues in the box.  But I'm sure our 5 year old boy would have thought these are 3 great new super heros to believe in with each their own color and power to defeat the evil forces that were attacking Sanjay. I write this so that parents can be aware and have thoughtful discussions with your children.

Our questions looked like the following: Did you notice them praying?  Who were they praying to? Why? Are they real or pretend gods? Do the statues really have power?  Are superheros (spiderman, hulk, superman) real?   For our family we have talked about the Christian God and other pretend gods like Baal and the Golden Calf before as well as the story of Daniel and praying to anyone besides the one true God so they had some basic understanding when we brought up the conversation of praying to statues/gods.

I'm not saying Christian kids shouldn't see this short film but that a good conversation afterwards would be encouraged.  It is an attractive, fun, introduction to another religion that a LOT of people on this earth believe to be truth.  For us and hopefully a lot of Christian parents it will be a great conversation starter with their kids that different people have different beliefs and when they grow up they will get to decide what they truly believe to be the TRUTH.  I would rather our kids have this conversation with us instead of with friends in college after hearing it from a professor or a kid down the hall.

The actual movie The Good Dinosaur we enjoyed.  And maybe because we were taken aback to see the short film first we had a deeper thought process with this movie than we otherwise would have.  It was a cute reversed movie where the dinosaurs were more human like and the human was more pet dog like.  But out of this film we were able to talk about several concepts.

It is hard to love the unlovable but what if you do?  (Spot showed love and kindness to Arlo despite Arlo's best attempts to be grumpy and mean back to him)

How do you forgive someone who really hurt you? (Arlo forgave Spot despite blaming him for his father's death)

Is it good to be alone? Why is it better to have a friend on your journey through life?  Even though you might be different than another you can share pain and difficulties and be encouraging to each other.

Taking care of the least of these... there is a scene that alludes to adoption.  That family is important and can help you "stand".

There is also a big point being made about "making your mark".  And although Arlo survived a long adventure overcoming fear and one would think that is how he "made his mark".   I would say he "made is mark" by forgiving (enemies and people who have hurt you), loving the unlovable, thinking of others first and sacrificing his life for that of his friend.  This is how you "make a mark" that can lead to a change in our lives and in the lives of others.

1095 Days Old

1095 days plus about 9 months is how long I loved this little guy.  Luke, Lukey, Lukester, Buddy, Little Bro, whatever you call him he is ours and so very loved.

Babyhood has come to an official end and as he will quickly tell you "Big Kid" years have started.  With that comes a huge dash of independence and "I do it".  My laid back kid suddenly has new bravery and is ready to tackle the world with or without us.

The crib is being put away in the attic (because I can't bare to get rid of it and admit that we are done with babes).  A new level of freedom has been found and exercised usually at 5:15ish in the morning.

Luke you have quite the personality! It is warm, caring, sweet, with a healthy dose of boy thrown in.  You are quick to protect your Mom with your superman abilities (snapping all the bad guys away).  You LOVE trains and cars.  Your new sister is quickly becoming your best friend (when Lydie-bug isn't around) and suckers are your candy of choice!

Nightly I've been praying for you that you will know the Jesus in your Bible stories this year and that the God who made you will give you bravery and help us be the best parents we can be to help you follow God on the great adventures he has planned for your life and that we will be brave enough to let you go.

Your smile lights up a room!  Kiss Kiss my big THREE year old!  Happy Birthday!

Pictures from the past:

Birthday Dreams Come True

This year our newly seven year old wanted more than anything to have horseback riding lessons for her birthday.  I thought this was a great idea and for years she will remember what she got as a gift because it is tied to a memory.  

Before her birthday I researched area stables around the Tulsa area and found one I liked KJM stables.  Lessons there start at age 7 so there must be a reason 7 is the magical horse year :)
KJM stables are located on Sheridan between 101st and 91st in South Tulsa.  We actually used to live in the neighborhood right behind the stables and I used to walk Savannah by in her stroller to see the horses through the gate.  It's amazing to me that she is now riding one of those horses! For two reasons really the first being that she is old enough (7 years goes by fast!) and the second is that we can afford it.  I look back on that time when every dollar was budgeted, Aldi's was our store and Walmart was a luxury but God has blessed us beyond our dreams and I want to give a shout out to Him of thanksgiving for provisions in our lives.

I'm sure we are a sight to see anytime we leave the house.  But neither Grant nor I wanted to miss the first horse back lesson so all 6 of us went.  
Thankfully the largest sandpit ever entertained the other three while our oldest daughter learned what it is like to really ride a horse.

The first thing they did was a little horse grooming and finding a helmet, saddle, and other horse related things out of the tack rooms.
I just LOVE her tiny smile in this picture!  Full of nervous excitement!
 I'm not really sure what I expected but the instructor was excellent and patient with Savannah.  She told her a few things and then off she was (inside the corral) on her own putting those things into action.  She learned to go around in a circle, change direction, stop and start, and even walk backwards!  All this and she never said a word (just a click) just soaking it all in.  
Side note little girl has hair long enough for pig tails!!!!  I'm not sure what to do with the bangs yet.
After an afternoon nap she woke up saying that was the best dream EVER!  So sweet.  She dreamed of Casper her horse and her awesome adventure.  She may have never said a word there but I knew it was a memory dreams are made of!

One of my favorite things...

Today I want to share one of my favorite things.  A podcast.  I love that I can listen while my hands are busy getting ready or making lunches.

My husband actually introduced me to this program called Focus on the Family a few years ago and I resisted.  To my credit when he told me about Focus on the Family he kept telling me about all the episodes that would help me to know how to be a better wife and about the husbands needs and how a wife can help with that.  ;)  Early in our marriage I was really, really independent and basically really prideful.  I think I am doing much better in those two areas but God still has a lot of work to do I'm sure if I was to ask him.

So back to this "program".  I finally gave in after a few months...still reluctantly.   The first episode I listened to wasn't about marriage.  I don't remember what it was about but I enjoyed it.  So I listened to another and another.  Finally, I fessed up to Grant that I had started listening to "his" program and I was enjoying it (seriously so prideful that it was hard to admit!).  It took me awhile before I listened to the marriage ones but I eventually did and God did his thing to my heart and melted the pride that was there so that I could actually listen to Grant when he brought the topic up again.

Now Focus on the Family Podcasts are apart of my everyday life.  Even the topics that I don't think will apply to me will have a little nugget of truth that I needed to hear.

So are you up for the challenge?  A 30 day challenge?  Just try it.  I'm sure other phones have this option.  But if you have an iPhone click your podcast button.  (It's purple on my phone)  Type in "Focus on the Family"  the picture icon looks like this:
Focus on the Family Podcast

I listen when I'm getting ready in the morning or when I'm at my desk or sometimes even in the car.

Just give it a try and see what God has to say to you.  Even if you don't totally believe in God and the Bible the program will have great things to inspire you in your relationships.

So pick up your phone and do it now.

Let me know if you take my 30 day challenge or if you already listen regularly.

By the way there are plenty of messages to help husbands in the marriage department to!  Or if your not married Tuesday's message was "Getting Organized for Christmas" and Wednesday was "Healing the Wounds of War"  so there really are messages for everyone.

Praise Jesus Hallelujah

Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
In everything Give Thanks 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Grant came home early ...way too early one day in April.  It was awful.  He came home and said he was laid off.  The company he worked for ran out of work and they didn't need him.  

When those days happen it is hard to rejoice always and give thanks in everything...but it is easy to pray without ceasing.  Which is what we got busy doing.  We weren't super spiritual, I wish I could say that we gave thanks that night but we didn't.  We were honest in our prayers that this is scary, and that He would have to give us faith to trust Him through out this process as long as it took.  

Under obligation of law we had to admit a major financial change to our adoption agency and China.  Tell the truth no matter what is what we tell our kids all the time but now it was our time and with tears streaming down my face I wrote the hardest email I've ever had to write.  We were within days of hearing if China approved of us as parents for the girl we had chosen, prayed for, and loved from afar.  What if they said No?  Logically we couldn't see how they would say yes.  

"Trust God with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

It was this verse I repeated throughout every day.  I even wore it around my neck.

This morning November 9, 2015 life looks different.  Grant is going to his first day of work as a full time employee.  And I am driving four kids to school.  Our life is full and God never left us and for that I praise Him. We did a lot of asking why us?  and definitely why now?  but He had a plan a better plan.  Grant's old company tanked and got sold.  The job market in oil and gas is now saturated.  We didn't know all that would happen...but God knew. He called us to a girl and when we thought we would loose her God made her our daughter.  

My prayer now is that next time a crisis comes I'll remember this marker in our life of trusting God and staying the course. I want to remember that God never abandoned us and saw us through.   I want to remember because he didn't promise life with Him will be easy and I'm wise enough to know more hardships will come our way unexpectantly again and next time I want to have enough faith to give thanks on day one of the trial and not just when the trial ends.  Although PRAISE JESUS for a JOB!!!!

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