Year-End Christmas Card Letter 2016

Merry Christmas from Monterey! (No, we aren’t actually in Monterey anymore. We took this in April. Man, that was a nice place.) We wanted to have a pretty beach family photo for our Christmas card. It didn’t work out.

Want a good laugh? It was INSANELY windy.

It was a year of big changes for us. I didn’t have any more babies, but we did move across the country, change schools, give up home-schooling, and we switched brands of paper towels…

Graduation day. John David kept saying, “I want cake. Can we have cake now? Where’s the cake?”

Alan got his engineering masters, which was exciting. So we said good-bye to the full-time student life and my beloved whales and sea otters and moved back down south to Georgia.

Alan took the older two boys on an action-packed road trip on his way.


As for me, I took my first part-time job since 2005, believe it or not, but I still get to work from home. I’m writing for as well as for Stories of Our Boys. I’m ridiculously relieved to not be home-schooling anymore. I just can’t even tell you!


Joshua is still Mr. Basketball. He loves it so much. He also had his first zit this fall. Times they are a changin’. Next year he will officially be a middle-schooler. I think this is the part where it pays off that they are 4 male children instead of 4 female children. Yes!!


Caleb is patiently waiting for baseball season. He is also honing his art skills. He’s as friendly as ever, and despite having no close-proximity little boys his age to play with, he managed to find kids on the next streets over. They have formed a Nerf Club, and our house is quickly becoming Grand Central Pre-Teen Station again.

Daniel is a kindergartener now. I can’t believe it either, and you’ve never seen a more serious little conscientious student. When he walks quietly through the hall, he does it like a well-trained soldier, and it is adorable. He also told us the other night at the dinner table, “I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!”  (Yes. We’ve been watching Elf.)

He said he made Bullseye into a pirate.

John David is 3 1/2 now. Markers are his favorite thing in the world. Instead of drawing all over himself as all of his brothers did, he draws all over his toys. We are so tired. It’s been 11 years of toddlers now. As in, there has always been at least one toddler/baby/pre-schooler in the house for 11 years. We just don’t even care about stuff like that anymore.

Draw on your toys? Sure. Here’s a marker. They are your toys.

Play in the water hose? Why stop him? He looks so happy.

Wear pajamas all day? Well, they are cozy. I get it.


Best events from 2016:

And read the story of Caleb’s salvation if you haven’t. Caleb chooses Jesus.

-Caleb got baptized.

Alan, Joshua, and Caleb went to the Grand Canyon (That’s a link you can click on to read the whole story.)

-Joshua earned the TNT Clubber of the Year Trophy, a hard-earned award that he got for memorizing a book and a half worth of AWANA verses.

Happiest day of John David’s life. He tried so hard to get that car door to open.

-We went to Disney World WITH our good friends Sean, Amy, Xavier, and Zoe!!

-The boys started a new school, and they are all happy there.

-Daniel learned how to swim and jump off the diving board.

Monterey, photo by Aunt Janet

We do miss Monterey: the people, the waves, and the weather! But we are loving being closer to family too.

If Uncle Keith could take all our pictures, maybe our smiles would always be this genuine! Thank you, Keith!

So, you know, all’s well that ends well, right? Happy New Year, y’all! May God bless all of you. Thank you for reading!


Numbers 6:24-26

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Merry Christmas!! 



Fun Way to Teach the True Meaning of Christmas, with Giveaway!

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids, with Giveaway

This post is sponsored by They are here to teach the Bible through songs.

John David is 3 years old, but he already knows that Christmas equals presents. He is also fully in love with Santa Clause, aka the King of Christmas. And in all fairness, who wouldn’t love a man who shows up once a year just to give you all the things you wanted???? Sign me up for that!

music and DVD giveaway

My sweetie-pie professional product tester. He accepts payments of hugs and toy airplanes.

So you might be wondering why I’m talking about Christmas in October, but the thing is that if you are planning a children’s ministry or want to teach your kids an awesome song to perform at Christmas for their grandparents, then now is the time to order your material.

We got this lovely Christmas DVD and accompanying CD in the mail called Seeds of Christmas. By the way, it’s also available digitally if you don’t want to have to fool with a hard copy DVD and CD.

I tried it out the first time with just John David because he’s the only guinea pig hanging out with all day while I’m working. He is also a lover of all things music. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Oooo, John David, I have a new Christmas movie for us to watch. It has songs! (JD loves songs.)

JD: Yay!!!  It has Santa Clause?

Me: Well, um, I don’t know. Let’s watch it. We’ll see what it has. I’ve never seen it before, but I do know it’s Christmas.

JD: Yay!!!

Some of the songs are fast, but most of them are slower, very worshipful. I’m going to include a preview below for you to see what I mean.

Music and DVD Giveaway

Every single song line is a Bible verse.

We watched it without hand motions, but if you are teaching a class or your kids happen to like doing the motions, that’s all on there for you. I have four BOYS. They dislike singing in public, and they especially dislike hand motions.

The last video on this disc is BEAUTIFUL. They were all good, but this one was my favorite. It has that wow factor you would want for a program, if you are performing these.

Music and DVD Giveaway

We are only using it at home, but I just adored that last video, called “Joy.” You can’t tell from the preview online just how powerful that video actually is. Watch it without the hand motions, and focus in on the whole Bible story of Jesus’s birth played out in front of you.

So this is what sold me on this video:

We were watching the Joy video at the end, and JD could not stop asking questions!

“Who’s that?”

Music and DVD Giveaway

JD had to know who each little figure at the bottom was and what they did.

“That’s Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus.”

“Who’s that?”

“That’s Jesus.”

“Jesus died.”

“Yes, but this is when Jesus was born. Jesus is God’s son.”

“He died?”

“Well, yes, later on, but this is about when he was born. See, he was a baby, born in a manger in a barn. Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, not about Santa Clause and what we can get from him.”

I can’t remember the entire conversation, but you get the idea. This opened the door to talk about these important things. That’s right. Christmas isn’t just about presents. What a great reminder.

When the video was over, JD actually asked to watch it again!

Now here’s the other unusual thing about this company, Seeds Family Worship. All of their songs are 100% Bible verses. There are no fillers or added words. They are literally just singing the Bible!!

They call it family worship because their stuff isn’t just for kids or just for adults. Anyone can enjoy it and learn. You could get the music to help you learn scriptures! You could use it to help teach your children memory verses. You could even use it for your Bible class or children’s choir. I am impressed with the versatility.

Click here to go to their website and see a preview!

I was excited to learn that Seeds Family Worship is also a touring group. They are traveling performers, and because I have readers in Bowling Green, Kentucky let me tell you: they will be in your city in January. I found this on their website:

Bowling Green, Kentucky: God’s Awesome Word Event, Living Hope Baptist Church, January 8. You can click here for more info on that.

Fun Way to Teach the True Meaning of Christmas


Two more pieces of good news:

  1. The Christmas Set is on sale now for $19.99. You get BOTH the DVD and the CD for that, so it’s an awesome deal.
  2. We’re giving one set away!!!!  Wahoo!!! Click to enter below:                                  a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Christmas Miracle, Followed by My Great Christmas Crash

Our Christmas miracle

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Almost two weeks ago, I set out with my four boys to fly from California to Georgia for Christmas. We managed to arrive in one piece, with all of our luggage, but that was not the miracle.

Or maybe that was also a miracle. ha!

As I shepherded the four of them, plus myself, our five back-packs, and countless electronic gadgets through the security machines, we followed the rules very nicely, and I counted the heads of my children 300 times.

“Is this medicine 3mL?” the agent asked me, referring to my son’s seizure medication.

“Oh, I have no idea, but he has to have it.” (Don’t mess with Mama.)

“Yes, of course,” he replied.

Liquids and laptops have to go into separate security bins for the people to screen, so we segregated out all of my things.

“I’m flying alone with these four boys,” I made sure the agent knew. For this to work, I needed a little extra assistance.

“Oh. Okay,” then he turned to the metal detector lines next to us, and he said, “Hold the lines.” The other passengers stepped back while they ushered my ducklings and I through the metal detectors, as a solid group. I was thrilled! I have never gotten through airport security so quickly!

The boys all grabbed their things, I grabbed my things, and we were on our way.

We only had to wait about 30 minutes at our gate before boarding began. JD and Daniel were happy to stand and look at the planes out the window. Caleb and Joshua were sitting in chairs, completely absorbed in their electronic devices. I chatted a bit with other folks near the windows.

The boarding agent called for all passengers who “need extra time or assistance in boarding.”

As soon as I heard it, I wasted no time whatsoever.   I pulled JD and Daniel down from their window ledge, and said, “Time to go, boys!”

I dashed over to Joshua and Caleb, whipped their devices from their game-playing-zombie fingers, shoved them into their backpacks, and said, “C’mon, boys! We gotta board this plane right now because we are the ones needing the extra help.”

They jumped up, zipped their packs, and followed me.

I rushed my 4 little ducklings along, and as I approached the boarding area, there was the usual multiple clumps of people waiting for their turn. I looked at the young man standing in the front of said line. I didn’t want to appear rude by just shoving my way in front of him.

“Are you one of the people needing the extra help?” I asked him.

He chuckled, “No, no.”

“Oh. Well, I sure am! C’mon, boys!” I said as I stepped in front of him, followed by my adorable straight line of four little fellas.

In fact, as I was just about to hand our five tickets to the ticket lady, JD excitedly ran straight on ahead, right past the ticket counter, right past me, and right on down the jetway….or whatever you call that hallway thing that leads to the airplane.

Yikes! I quickly ran over, scooped him up, and apologetically went back to the ticket lady.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “We’re with the needing the extra help group.”

She nodded. “Five?”


“Go ahead.”

“Thank you!!”

No sooner than we had gotten ourselves arranged in our seats, I had a terrible. horrifying. realization. I dug through my book bag, looking for my laptop, but wait. Where was my laptop?

Uh-oh….in the bin…beside…the medicines…and JD’s sippy cup. I did a quick check. Yes, all of those things were missing, and I knew exactly where I had left them. At security.

By the way, that’s not the kind of medication you can just quit cold turkey. There’d be headaches to suffer from that sort of thing.

Nooooooo! So I did what I always do when I have a problem.

That’s right. I called Alan. Poor Alan. He was already on the highway headed home. He said that I should ask the crew if they could help me retrieve all that stuff before we took off.

Yes, I should think of these things on my own, but no, it will never happen. I am not the person you want around in an emergency.

I flagged down the flight attendant. I told her what had happened as quickly as I could.

Raquel was her name, and she is one of my new favorite people. It was a Christmas miracle, I tell you.

“Okay! I’ll tell them we have to have this medication before we take off, or he will have a seizure on the plane!!” Raquel said.

She rushed off. I continued helping JD and Daniel get settled. I said a prayer or two, and I decided not to fret. No need. Fretting cannot help. Only Providence, Raquel, and the TSA could help us now.

And just like that, she was back, carrying all of it! The Macbook, the meds, and the sippy cup, all present and accounted for!

Pure gratitude and elation! I was so relieved! I thanked her profusely. I handed her a wad of cash as I deplaned in Georgia, I wrote Delta airlines and told them that Raquel deserves a promotion and a pay raise.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, and thank you, Raquel!

*******The Christmas Crash**********

My parents were waiting at the airport to pick us up, and I don’t know what I would have done without them. The next day my persistent, chronic, manageable level of hip pain morphed into a roaring, uncontrollable monster, and the rest of Christmas vacation has been a blur for me. I do not know what is wrong with my hip. I did get a steroid shot. I thought, at the very least, it will help my bursitis, and it did help for a few days.

But then I took a four-hour car trip, and the problem is back. I can’t sit down but for a few minutes, lying in bed at night is the worst, stairs are torture, but walking around doesn’t bother me at all.

I will be returning to California with a newly heightened resolve to solve my hip problem, but it is also one of those things that I will have to trust God for. Thankfully, I am in good hands. The Lord cares about our pain.

Hebrews 4:15

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.




1 2 3 4 9