Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry, Merry....

Merry Merry Christmas!  
This year our picture was MUCH less planned!  We decided efficiency was more important than perfection, so we took pictures around the house.  I received a large Nutcracker a few years ago and we keep it in the entrance hall at Christmas.  It's one of my favorite decorations.  In fact, nutcrackers can be found ALL over our house - with over 50 of them (and counting).  We agreed on the picture above for our annual card, but Chad really preferred the one below. 
This picture was taken in our "Game" room.  The original game was pool - but we've added a different type of game recently to the decor.  The large deer in the middle was a 400+ lb red stag and it was Chad's first trophy - now decorated for Christmas, with a wreath around its neck.  Charles shot the Axis (250lbs+) and also the White Tail (in velvet).   We have been well supplied with venison this year!  If anyone had told me years ago that we'll have mounts on our wall, I would never have believed it!!  Of course, I wouldn't have believed that our media room would have a COW HIDE and iron Texas stars on the wall either!!  Never say never.... 

Chad also puts the topper on the Christmas tree every year.  And...every year, he says its the LAST time to use it.  He made the Christmas Angel out of a paper plate when he was THREE, but I've just not been able to replace it.   After 20 years, it's probably time to move on!   
We enjoyed time together - just the four of us - before our trek to see family in Tennessee over the holidays.  The boys exchanged gifts and we enjoyed having the evening just to ourselves.  It is truly a great gift just to have the boys at home.  I miss our lazy casual times "all - agether"! 

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!  Merry on!  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Africa.....really? Africa!

Some things are just out of my comfort zone - and this is a big one!  Charles has accepted a job in Lagos, Nigeria.   It's been a tough decision, but we are anxious and peaceful at the same time.  However, I continue to be amazed at the way that God works.....

We've really been praying for the last few months asking God to open doors for jobs OR to close them tightly.   So far, the doors for this job have been opened all the way.   Charles did not go looking for this specific job - but it came to him.  

On Wednesday, Charles was ready to accept, but I just wasn't there yet.   I kept asking (begging, pleading) God for clear, clear direction and to give me encouragement to go forward.  I received a phone call on Wed night that changed my perspective.....

I'm a small group leader for a worldwide Bible Study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship).   There are about 25 group leaders and each of us has a small group of women (15 or so) where we simply facilitate the discussion with the questions that we are given, then we go to a lecture from the teaching leader afterwards.  We are studying Isaiah and it's a great study!  My first BSF leader (from 5 years ago) moved in 2007 to Angola and returned this year to Texas.  I contacted her  just to ask about her experiences living in Africa.   When she returned my call on Wednesday night, she confirmed where we were moving........then said very quietly, that THEY were ALSO moving to Lagos, Nigeria in January - and it was to be announced on Friday!!  In addition, she has been talking with the international office of BSF and they have a prayer group in Lagos - exactly where we will be living.  I was just overwhelmed with the goodness of God to give me a friend in the new location and a place to serve Him, before I even arrived.  God does indeed walk before us and I am grateful.   

On Thursday afternoon, Charles and I walked on the trails just to talk and he mentioned that there were two doors still 'open'.    I wondered if he should call them to get an update.  Before we even arrived home, he received a call from BOTH of them within 15 minutes - basically telling him that he was overqualified.   I think that God wants us in Nigeria!  

Charles is excited about the job and is very impressed with the company.  If this were a local job, he would have jumped through hoops to get to work with them.  The job is interesting and has potential for the future - and the home office is in TEXAS.   We will keep our house here and not move furniture - so we can come back easily.  In the meantime, we will see this as God's next adventure for us.  Both boys are very supportive and encouraging.  At 21 and 23 years old,
(and both attending Baylor University) they feel like they will be fine without us close!  :)  However, MOM will have a MUCH harder time!

This will stretch us beyond our own capabilities and we know that the road ahead will be challenging.  We don't have all the details yet and we are still working on dates and timing.  However, as Chad says, "God has never led us wrong when we trust him.  He certainly won't change now".     And one more thing......Charles' new boss is a Baylor graduate! :)   He called us today from the Yacht Club - so life can't be all that bad!

I guess I'll work on a new blog of our AFRICAN adventures! :)   Wow!  Really.....Africa?!

Thanks for your continued prayers!

Janet

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Happy 235th Birthday United States Marine Corps!

We were invited to attend the Marine Corps Ball by Jim and Beth Antal.  Jim served  for over 20 years in many locations around the world.  We were honored to be asked to celebrate with them and privileged to attend.  However, the morning of the ball, Beth’s mother passed away, and they headed to Tennessee.  They encouraged us to attend without them in her mom’s honor and we were thrilled that we decided to go on alone.

The Marine Corps Ball is a tradition celebrating the November 10th birthday of the Corps.  The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place in Philadelphia in 1925.  Since that time, the ball has grown and includes ceremony and other traditional observances. 
We began the evening with a reception and formal pictures, then entered the banquet hall in time for the Call to Order, which began the ceremonies.  The deep sound of the bagpipes reverberated throughout the room as the piper and drummers marched in.  The colors were presented and a video shown with greetings from the Commandant.  Every year, the Marine Corps Orders are solemnly read as a birthday message to the Corps. 
MARINE CORPS ORDERS 
No. 47 (Series 1921) 
HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE  CORPS
Washington, November 1, 1921

759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10 November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home,generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.
JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General Commandant
75705—21

The guest of honor, Brigadier General James Lariviere, gave the address and honored many of the men who served.  The traditional cake was cut and as Marine Corps policy mandates, the first piece was given to the oldest Marine present.  The second piece is traditionally given to the youngest marine.  The oldest marine at the ball was born in 1914 and served in WWII; the youngest was a female born in 1988.   
  
There were so many men in uniform and it made us proud of their service to our country.  It was emotional to hear the Marine Corp Hymn remembering Charles’ dad who served as a Marine, which was an important part of his life.  There were many empty chairs due to the local reserve unit leaving for Afghanistan earlier this week, showing the reality of the work Marines do.   There was also an empty table draped in black with one chair signifying and honoring all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  

After dinner, a live band provided entertainment for the evening.  We had a wonderful time and it was so nice to be included in the birthday celebration.  We certainly missed Jim and Beth (thank you for inviting us), and it was a great honor to be able to participate! 

Semper Fi Marines!  We are proud of you!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Baylor Homecoming 2010


 Homecoming Weekend at Baylor is always fun, but this year was special.  Chad & Josh
are both students at the University and also living together in an apartment right off campus.  We wanted to be part of the celebration for Chad's last Homecoming as a 
student and Josh's first one.  As the oldest university in Texas, Baylor's homecoming
events have been a tradition since 1909!

We arrived into Waco just in time to take Chad to dinner at Shogun - a Japanese hibachi grill.  Josh met us later that evening for the Baylor bonfire and pep rally along with THOUSANDS of others!!  The lighting of the bonfire is always surrounded by a carnival atmosphere, motivational speeches and lots of pomp and circumstance.       
   Yell Leaders and students paraded out with lighted torches, standing around the stacked wood in order to get the fire started evenly.  

On top of the bonfire were victory signs as well as KSU (Kansas State University) letters ready to burn.  Chad stands in the crowd with the fire in the background. 

 The fire burned fast and HOT!  We were close enough to feel the heat and had to move back as the fire got more intense.  You can still see the KSU outline.  The crowd close by dissipated quickly, since it was scorching. 

Josh and Liz enjoyed the bonfire festivities between performances of Pigskin, an annual Homecoming tradition since 1958 at Baylor.  It showcases the winning acts from the previous spring's 'All University Sing' competition.  The acts are musical, Broadway-style acts prepared and performed by campus organizations, complete with costumes, elaborate backdrops and props, and complex choreography.  Liz is in Theta sorority and they performed "A Ring by Spring", which was wonderful.   

After the festivities, we went back to the boys' apartment to celebrate Josh's birthday, which was on Wednesday.  We brought him a cake so that we could celebrate his 21st birthday together.  The chocolate cake with homemade chocolate icing was a hit!
 Baylor's Homecoming Parade, which is believed to be the largest in the nation, started early on Saturday morning. The parade was a first-class extravaganza of color which featured bands, horse-drawn carriages and wagons, student and civic organizations, and a stream of dignitaries. This year, we were happy to see some of OUR friends in the parade too! :) A couple from our Sunday School in Dallas (years ago) was chosen as "Baylor Parents of the Year".  Also, a sweet friend from our Woodlands Church small group was honored as a dignitary - since she was Baylor's Homecoming Queen in 1985!  How fun!!  
 Pi Kappa Phi fraternity's float (Chad's fraternity) was excellent!  Since he is a 5th year student, he was able to enjoy it without any of the work!
 

 This float, based on the children's book, Winnie the Pooh
received the honor of 'Judges Choice'.   

 One of the more patriotic Floats was "War on the 'Kansas City' Wildcats".

 Thetas float, "Dungeons and Dragons and Bears - Oh My!" was beautiful.

 I loved the Texas Stagecoach - Right from the Old West!

 
 I especially love walking around the Baylor campus and seeing scripture engraved in the sidewalks and on buildings.  To see the word of the Lord honored was wonderful! 

 
After lunch (and a wonderful bean dip that CHAD made), the boys (& friends) headed to the football game, which started  at 2:30, but quickly had a 2 hour rain delay.  We decided to go back to Houston, but kept up with the score.  The Baylor Bears rose to the challenge of Homecoming with a 47-42 win over Kansas State.  With the victory, the Bears have a 6-2 season record so far, reaching bowl eligibility for the first time since 1995.   
What a great homecoming weekend - for ALL of us! 
Sic 'em Bears!
We are proud of you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Fun


It was great to have Josh home from college this weekend, along with his girlfriend, Liz, for Baylor's fall break.  Josh sent his special marinade recipe ahead of time since he wanted to have steaks when they arrived.   :)  It was excellent! 

Orange-Soy Steak Marinade
2 cups orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or minced (preferably minced finely)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Marinade Instructions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a 1-gallon heavy plastic (Ziploc) food bag.
2. Add 3-4 premium steaks of your choice.
3. Seal bag and set in a bowl.
4. Place in refrigerator and chill preferably 24 hours or overnight- turning steaks occasionally

Josh also prepared his "famous" grilled asparagus along with baked potatoes and french bread with sage/oregano butter.  For dessert, we tried a recipe that Nana (my mom) sent, which sounded perfect for Autumn - "Pumpkin Pie Cake".  We loved it, but renamed it "Pumpkin Sludge" due to the texture!  We enjoyed it all weekend, and Josh and Liz took the rest of it back to Waco.  YUM!!  I didn't think about taking pictures, but I thought I would share the recipe anyway. 
Pumpkin Sludge 
2 cans pumpkin (15 oz each) 
4 eggs 
1 can (13 oz) evaporated milk 
1 1/4 cups sugar 
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup melted margarine
1 cup pecans 
Whipped Cream (Optional) 
Directions:
1. Combine pumpkin, eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; beat well 
2. Pour into ungreased 9x13' pan.  Sprinkle DRY cake mix over the mixture in pan. 
3. Pour melted butter over cake mix; sprinkle with nuts. 
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour; cool. 
5. Serve and top with whipped cream if desired. 

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day, so we decided to visit the Pumpkin Patch at the Old Time Christmas Tree farm close by.   We enjoyed a hayride through the farm and had fun picking out pumpkins.   

We also took Liz to enjoy a true Texas fall specialty - the homecoming supply store. :)  The mums are incredible! No other location does mums like Texas and you have to see them to believe the size!  Tons of trinkets jingle on the ribbons and we enjoyed viewing all the choices!  They are beautiful and HUGE!!! I enjoyed creating the mums when the boys were in High School for homecoming!   I do miss that part - a little bit! :)
We went to Willies Icehouse (where Josh worked over the summer) for dinner, and sat outside on the patio, enjoying a burger and time together.   Josh and Liz finished the day by carving their pumpkins, along with a game and a movie.    

Josh cut out the BU (Baylor University) logo on his pumpkin and Liz created a smiley face complete with a bow.  In a household of boys, we’ve never had a pumpkin with a bow!  How fun!!  We added candles, and the pumpkins shone with lots of character on our kitchen island!   They did a great job!!  

On Sunday, we went to Cracker Barrel after church to enjoy a country breakfast.  Shopping at the mall (spending a birthday gift card at Chicos!) proved to be a fun day!  
This was my favorite picture of all! 

Happy Fall, Ya'll!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love you....

Today, one year ago, my dad - my precious daddy - went to heaven ... and I was completely devastated.   The week leading up to this day was very tough, with Daddy's surgery on Oct 6th (my birthday) and a full week in Intensive Care.  During those dark days, we didn't leave the hospital except for an occasional shower at a friend's home.  We were woken up many nights by caring nurses, who prayed with us and took us to see him when he was struggling.  Many friends and family cared for us, bringing food and other needed items and just praying alongside us as often as we needed.  We truly saw God's hands and feet through others and we were so humbled and comforted by their care and support.  While we hoped that God would heal my dad on earth, I know he chose the ultimate healing of heaven.  Oh, how hard it was to let him go, but I am also grateful that we had my dad here for so many years.   One thing I confirmed through this experience is that God TOTALLY carries us when we can't walk on our own.   He is with us in our hardest hours; He does give us strength and He does give peace that passes all understanding.  It is not easy, but we are not alone.  In the midst of it all, we can count our blessings and know that our cherished memories will take over the pain of today.  

I was privileged to speak at his funeral and I wanted to share the words spoken below.    
 
_____________________________________________________
Just a little over a month ago, my Dad in his typical style asked me to stand here on this day and speak about family. I broke down when he asked me and I’ll probably break down now, so just bear with me as I try. 
For those of you who attended the visitation last night, I so enjoyed hearing your stories.  Some told me things about Daddy at work and we are so proud of all he accomplished.  Others told me that you knew him from church, or from the neighborhood or from SES.  Many of you grew up with him or knew him from the grandparents club at Sycamore Elementary or maybe just seeing him around with Mother or Brandon or Alexis and Amanda.  What a blessing you were to him and now to us!!  We are so blessed by your memories and your thoughts and prayers.  Thank you for that!  I was amazed that most of you knew that he has a daughter in Texas, a son in Spain and a son that lives across the street from him – and we knew that he spoke about us often to his friends.  However, as that daughter from Texas and the oldest of my siblings, I want to tell you a little bit about the personal side that we know.
Growing up in the HOLT household meant many things…..We had many advantages in that we knew our parents cared about us.  We trusted each other and enjoyed spending time together….at home, at Pickwick on the boat, at grandparents and cousins’ homes, on vacations, at ballgames, at schools and even with Daddy at work.     
Sometimes when we were young, we would go to work with him on Saturdays.  We would go into the computer lab which was a large room, kept very cool, where all the computers were kept.  He would push some buttons and about 15 minutes later a Snoopy Dog would print out….on long rolls of green and white computer paper…all ready for us to color!!  He loved to talk about how technology had changed since that time. 
As children of RAY HOLT, we knew all about the school system and we FELT Daddy's passion of his work.  He worked hard and loved what he did.  We felt pride that he made a difference in so many peoples' lives.  And he LOVED it, yet we never felt that it was more important than his family.  In fact, we stayed involved....even from the beginning.  In fact, I was the VERY first medical claim right after he went to work at Memphis City Schools and they set up new insurance coverage for the employees families.  It went into effect at midnight on October 6th and I was born the same morning!!  Our family stayed involved through the years during teacher strikes and busing (as he drove the first bus out of the barn), redistricting and many other events....but the things we remembered most were the snow days.  See...we felt like we helped make those decisions!  When the first snowflake fell, we started begging and then our friends would call.  But do you want to know the real secret of how the decision was made?  Daddy would head out at 5am to see if the streets were slick....turn a few donuts, then ask the policeman who inevitably stopped him if they thought the schools should close!!
We learned so much growing up about faith, about integrity, about values and helping our neighbors. We were taught the golden rule by example to treat others as you wanted them to treat you.  In Galatians 5, the Bible says; “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command; “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  It gives this command 11 different times in the Bible, but we saw it lived out daily, not in big ways but in hundreds of little ones.  Putting others needs before his own was just the way Daddy lived!!  He treated everyone with kindness and respect, no matter their rank or position or background and we cherish his example.   
Then in 1986, my dad was in a terrible car accident with an 18 wheeler.  Laying there in a scrunched up car, with the “Jaws of Life” cutting him out, he wanted to talk to Mother himself so the paramedic wouldn’t scare her – He was always thinking of others.  We learned that resilience and determination over the many months of rehabilitation allowed him to walk again, even though the doctors said he wouldn’t.   Through all the traction, pain and inconvenience, he still had an unbelievable attitude.  He knew that having a positive attitude not only helped him, but it also helped us!  But through those tough times, he always saw the glass half full……..and with a smile in the midst of it all.  And as he has struggled through the years with heart issues and other ailments, he was always more interested in us than in complaining about things he couldn’t change. 
As you can see we lived a very blessed life, a life of love and extended family – and a life of fun and laughter.  Daddy often told us that he had had a good life and he was so grateful……It was nice that he accomplished a lot and had a wonderful career, but what really mattered to him were the friends he had and the family around him.  He was so grateful for all of us….My mother, my brothers and their wives, his grandchildren….and all the extended family….His family meant the world to him.  His legacy will continue on through generations……
My dad was everything to me.  He demonstrated each and every day his priorities of Faith, Family and friends and with gratitude for every moment.  He valued people above everything else in life and understood what was important.  He had a great sense of humor and loved to socialize and visit – to be surrounded by people he loved and cared for….All of you here are proof of that and oh…how he would have enjoyed this reunion!!   
His absence from our family will be impossible to fill, however his imprint will continue to live in our hearts and actions.  He gave us love, acceptance, encouragement, and unyielding convictions along with memories that we will cherish forever.
And while I know that he is having a party in heaven and celebrating with people long gone by, I still hurt….He was my knight in shining armor, he was my first love, he was my Daddy and I will miss him greatly.
 I love you Daddy!! 

Janet 
 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meet Erick

Erick Alexander Chavez Velasquez is 10 years old and lives in San Antonio, Guatemala, north of the larger city of Quetzaltenango.  As a family, we have decided to sponsor this little boy who lives in the mountains through Compassion International.  

Currently, Erick lives with his mother and is responsible for making the beds in his home and for running errands.  His mother is employed as a seller in the local market.  San Antonio has a population of 37,000 people and typical houses are constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tin roofs.  The  common diet consists of maize, beans, bananas, rice and potatoes and the average income in his rural community is less than $188 a MONTH.  

We recently learned that Erick's favorite activities are soccer, playing ball games and listening to music.  He attends the Rayos de Esperanza Student Center which provides Erick with Bible teaching, sports, birthday celebrations, cultural activities and tutoring.

We are privileged to be able to write to Erick often and maybe visit him someday.   As he deals with his world of poverty, we are praying specifically for him and letting him know that he matters to us AND he matters to God.  To learn more about child sponsorship and meet the precious children waiting for a sponsor, click www.compassion.com

"and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday."
Isaiah 58:10

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Texas - It's a Whole Other Country!

I ran across this information recently and loved it! It's been a LONG time since I posted, so I thought I'd start back with some fun TEXAS information.

Enjoy!!

Janet


Need to be cheered up?
Happy, Texas 79042
Pep , Texas 79353
Smiley , Texas 78159
Paradise , Texas 76073
Rainbow , Texas 76077
Sweet Home , Texas 77987
Comfort , Texas 78013
Friendship, Texas 76530

Love the Sun?
Sun City , Texas 78628
Sunrise , Texas 76661
Sunset, Texas 76270
Sundown, Texas 79372
Sunray , Texas 79086
Sunny Side , Texas 77423
Want something to eat?
Bacon , Texas 76301
Noodle , Texas 79536
Oatmeal , Texas 78605
Turkey , Texas 79261
Trout , Texas 75789
Sugar Land , Texas 77479
Salty, Texas 76567
Rice , Texas 75155
And top it off with: Sweetwater , Texas 79556

Why travel to other cities? Texas has them all!
Detroit , Texas 75436
Colorado City , Texas 79512
Denver City , Texas 79323
Klondike , Texas 75448
Nevada , Texas 75173
Memphis , Texas 79245
Miami , Texas 79059
Boston , Texas 75570
Santa Fe , Texas 77517
Tennessee Colony , Texas 75861
Reno , Texas 75462
Feel like traveling outside the country? Don't bother buying a plane ticket!
Athens , Texas 75751
Canadian, Texas 79014
China , Texas 77613
Egypt , Texas 77436
Ireland , Texas 76538
Turkey , Texas 79261
London , Texas 76854
New London , Texas 75682
Paris , Texas 75460
No need to travel to Washington D.C.
Whitehouse , Texas 75791

We even have a city named after our planet!
Earth , Texas 79031
And a city named after our State!
Texas City , Texas 77590

Exhausted?
Energy , Texas 76452

Cold?
Blanket , Texas 76432
Winters, Texas

Like to read about History?
Santa Anna , Texas
Goliad , Texas
Alamo , Texas
Gun Barrel City , Texas
Robert lee, Texas

Need Office Supplies?
Staples, Texas 78670

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus , Texas 76084

You guessed it..it's on the state line.. Texline , Texas 79087

For the kids...
Kermit , Texas 79745
Elmo , Texas 75118
Nemo , Texas 76070
Tarzan , Texas 79783
Winnie , Texas 77665
Sylvester , Texas 79560

Other city names in Texas , to make you smile.....
Frognot , Texas 75424
Bigfoot , Texas 78005
Hogeye , Texas 75423
Cactus , Texas 79013
Notrees , Texas 79759
Best, Texas 76932
Veribest , Texas 76886
Kickapoo , Texas 75763
Dime Box , Texas 77853
Old Dime Box , Texas 77853
Telephone , Texas 75488
Telegraph , Texas 76883
Whiteface , Texas 79379
Twitty, Texas 79079
And last but not least, the Anti-Al Gore City - Kilgore , Texas 75662

And our favorites...
Cut n Shoot, Texas
Gun Barrel City , Texas
Hoop And Holler, Texas
Ding Dong, Texas 
and, of course, Muleshoe , Texas