Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas Letter to All

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!

We are posting our Christmas letter on our blog this year. I guess that is a way of saying we are coming into the technological world, albeit at our own pace. If we were really all the way techno-savvy, not only would we have a Christmas letter but a video message to go with it. Maybe next year - we are just not that "hip" yet. Onto our thoughts about this year.........

It has been QUITE A YEAR....spent in many places and learning lots of lessons along the way. We started this year with focus on intentionally looking for ways to give more and receive less. We have had the opportunity to participate in various local organizations and support causes from cancer to pro-life.


Giann decided to spend her summer as a missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship. This meant that after a week of training, she (and her teammates) spent the next 7 weeks holding 5-Day Bible clubs in the Birmingham area, sharing the love of Christ and the message of His redemptive plan to children. This was no small task either. Every day, 5 days a week, she was up and out the door by 7:30 in the morning and not finished until 3:00-4:00 pm or later. She had to prepare every night and be ready for her assignment the next day. Through all of the training, hard work and fun, several hundred children in the Birmingham area heard the Gospel. And many are now Christ followers. Even with all the hard work, she is ready to do it again next summer!

In the midst of Giann's busy summer, Craig and I had the privilege of traveling abroad to New Zealand and Australia. A trip we never dreamed would happen and were extremely thankful for the opportunity. The trip was amazing in more ways than one. The posts and pickies (that is Australian for photos) are on this blog if you want to read about it or see some beautiful pictures.

Exciting, yet humbling, was the opportunity God gave us when He had our family lead a mission trip to Guatemala in August. We took a team into the Lake Atitlan area (about four hours out of Guatemala City) to help a local organization and to do three things - build a home for a young family, hold a ladies Bible study and VBS activities for the children, and Happy Feet (a shoe ministry). We wish we could describe in a few short paragraphs all that was learned during those 7 days. There are some pictures and highlights of the trip on Giann's blog at If we had to choose the greatest impact this trip had, we would have to say that it made us aware of the conditions people live in and just how much we have in America. The Guatemalans need help with Bible teaching and training as well as physical supplies (like shoes and building adequate housing). We will be leading another team back to Guatemala in July 2010.

Upon returning from Guatemala, we hit the ground running! Craig started traveling more with his business and the kids and I started school at full speed. Their grade level, Jason, 7th, and Giann, 9th, equates to more work and a heavier academic load. We can't get by with baking cookies and calling it a school day! In November, they had roles in a one act play entitled "Jonah and the German Whale" that they performed for the Children's Ministry at The Church at Brook Hills. The play was very funny and they played their parts very well. Both continue to study the piano on top of their normal workload. Additionally, Jason studies the guitar. They both will be running track starting in February 2010.

We have been challenged by our Pastor to do several things during 2010. They are listed below:

*First, we want to pray for the entire world. Through a prayer emphasis that revolves around Operation World, we want to pray individually and as a faith family for the entire world over the course of the year. We want to give ourselves to strategic prayer and fasting emphases as a church through our worship gatherings, small groups, and many other avenues.

*Second, we want to read through the entire Word. Beginning in January, we are going to walk through the story of Scripture together day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month. We are going to participate in daily Bible readings and weekly worship gatherings, family worship times, and small group discussions that revolve around what we are reading in Scripture. We want to know God fully and love God wholly through a deep knowledge of His Word.

*Third, we want to sacrifice our money for a specific purpose. As a church, we are going to set a cap on our spending at the most basic level we can in order to free up as many of our resources as possible for the sake of urgent spiritual and physical needs in the world. At the same time, we as individuals and families across the church are going to radically minimize our spending on ourselves by setting a cap on our lifestyles so that we are free to give away everything above that cap during the year (no matter how small or large) for the sake of the glory of Christ in His church, among the lost, and among the poor.

*Fourth, we want to give our time in another context. As we give 98% of our time next year to making disciples right here where we live in Birmingham, we want to spend 2% of our time (about a week) spreading the Gospel outside of Birmingham. We're trusting that when we give 2% of our time in another context (Guatemala), it will radically transform the 98% of our time that we spend in this context (Birmingham)!

*Finally, we want to commit our lives to a multiplying community. Fundamentally, this involves a wholehearted commitment to the local church of which we are a part. But even deeper, we want to commit our lives to a small group of believers that is intentionally sharing, showing, and teaching the Word while serving the world together. Together, we want to lock arms to spread the Gospel and glory of Christ from Birmingham to the ends of the earth.

So as we close out 2009 and turn our hearts and minds toward 2010, we hope you will remember us in your prayers. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing in your joys and walking with you through your valleys in the coming year. We are so blessed to have you as family and to call you friends.

Our prayer for all of you can be found in the first chapter of Colossians beginning in verse nine,

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,"

Much love and many prayers,

Craig, Debra, Giann, and Jason

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Giann's Blog!

If you would like to see the recent happenings of the Hoosier Household, please journey over to

Please comment while your there! Thanks!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday.........

to a man who is over.....

Shocking I know......

Happy Birthday Dad/Craig
Love you!
Keep sailn' your way through time! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Being "UP OVER" vs. "Down Under"...the process of re-entry

It takes 24 hours to fly to and from Australia. Twenty-four looonnnggg hours. Going to Australia, you loose a day. On return, you gain a day or you get to do a day over. For example, we left Sydney on July 1, flew 24 hours, and arrived home on July 1. It was a "do over" day. For us, though, we were too tired to "do over."

Someone asked this question....if you are no longer "Down under" does that mean you are now "Up Over"???

The answer is a resounding YES....after you have traveled like that, you are definitely "UP OVER" something. Or at least it feels that way.

But back to the topic at We have now been home for 10 days. The first few days were hard. We were tired and sleepy and just in an overall fog for most of the time. I wouldn't tell you that our days and nights were mixed up from flying; but I would tell you because you were so tired, you wanted to nap during the day which would mess up your sleeping at night. So, you had to fight to stay awake until bedtime. OR, if you didn't, you stayed awake at night. Don't ask how we (well, Craig) know that, just trust us (him).

Re-entry has more issues than just sleep. You have to re-enter back into the world you left behind. Things like your children, extended family, the telephone, the cell phone, the US news, the mail and household managment issues, the dog, yardwork, etc. All those things that you had laid aside to go on vacation. Now, we would have enjoyed having our children with us on this trip. We actually like them and enjoy traveling with them.

But all the other things on the list come down to one thing....responsibilities. And when you are on vacation (or holiday as they say in New Zealand and Australia), you get to ignore or postpone dealing with your responsibilities. Not to mention that someone else is cooking for you, cleaning for you, and providing for you. All you have to do is eat, sleep, and enjoy!

So, I have reassessed our re-entry issues and come to this conclusion:

We did not suffer from jet-lag.

We suffered from being UP OVER....

up over REALITY
--we were not the rich and famous nor
had we been born into royalty, sooo
we had to return
I am not sure which is better......being down under or being up over.....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Invited Guests ?

Wow! We were treated to a very interesting experience our last night in Sydney.

It all began with a small reception where all the winners and guests had been segregated by their respective division groups throughout the hotel and had been given VERY explicit instructions to not leave the reception area until our escorts arrived. After about 45 minutes, we heard this very loud,low tone and this is what appeared in our doorway....

We then were invited to follow them to the Grand Ballroom as they played and chanted/sang. It looked something like this....

A closer view.......

Then they were joined by the rest of the group and shared with us their cultural heritage in dance and song. It was fabulous!

"Climb every mountain......or Bridge!"

While in Sydney, there is a tourist attraction called the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. You can read about it here Craig thought that this would be something fun to do and he was right!

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest single span arch bridge in the world and at its peak, it is 134 meters high (I can't even convert anymore - my brain won't let me-it has rebelled). Here are some pictures of us at various points during the climb......

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pickies from Sydney and the Blue Mountains

This picture is from the Blue Mountains and is a picture of the famous formation called the "Three Sisters". For those of you who are geography buffs, now you know where the Three Sisters are located :).

This is looking out over the Blue Mountains from an area called the King's Tableland. The vastness of this range could not be captured by photography.

This is Craig - atop the highest peak area on King's Tableland! I guess you could say he was "King of the Mountain" that day!!

On our way up to the mountains, we stopped at a national park area and this is what was playing in the open pastureland - Roos ! Kangaroos, that is. This one has a joey peeking out of its pouch.

This was our first view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Looks small in this photo but when you see later pictures of our climb up to the top of that bridge, you will appreciate just how tall it is!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Random? I think not.......

We are now home but we must finish posting about our trip. So, here is the next turn after meeting Peter and George.

On Sunday afternoon, we were assigned to go sailing in the Sydney Harbour. Again, this was a "random" assignment of groups of 10. We were put with a group of 8 people that we didn't know. Craig had chosen that day to wear his Jeremy Camp shirt (for those of you who don't know - Jeremy Camp is a Christian singer). Anyway, as the day progressed, it warmed up and he took off his jacket, revealing his shirt. I was talking with a lady from Georgia (Janet) about some of the interesting things we had learned about Australia from our tour guide the previous day. One of those things was that Australians do NOT have the right to bear arms. Yes, you read that correctly. They surrendered that right years ago after a major killing spree where 37 people were killed. Of course, people illegally own guns but the average citizen does not. Just remember this fact for later in the story.

As Janet and I were talking, she said "Don't you think it is going to get worse for us Christians? I assume you are believers since your husband is wearing a Jeremy Camp shirt." Immediately, the conversation shifted and we began to share about our beliefs and churches, etc. As we disembarked, I made the comment about homeschooling. She and her husband replied simultaneously, "we homeschool and have graduated two!" So, the conversation shifted yet again to homeschooling through high school (they still have one in high school) and preparing them for life, etc. We talked about college, dating vs. courtship, etc. As we boarded buses to return to the hotel, I had to smile. Was this a random meeting ? I think not. It was orchestrated and designed by God.

But the story doesn't end there.

During the course of our conversations, the topic of Hillsong Church came up. Hillsong is based in Sydney and is where a lot of praise and worship music comes from. Both of us had made the comment that we had wanted to attend a service but didn't know how to work it in with all that the company had us scheduled to do. When we returned to the hotel, we discovered that our big Gala night had been canceled due to a small fire in the grand ballroom and we were free. So, we loaded up on a major adventure of trains, buses, and taxis to get to the church (it was about 45 minutes away).

In route to the church, we had to take a taxi part of the way. The taxi driver was a nice man, originally from Lebanon. He had a different view, much different, re: the right to bear arms. The part of town that he picked us up from he said is called "little Texas" at night due to the number of guns that come out at nighttime. I commented that Australians didn't have the right to bear arms and he chuckled. He said "yes, but they do". He asked us "would you have a gun to protect yourselves ?" To which I replied, "yes, and I do and I don't want the government to tell me I can't."

Now, the significance of that conversation has hit home as we returned to the States and discovered that there is current legislation that would affect our 2nd Amendment rights. It is known as H.R. 45, the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sales Act of 2009. Look it up. I think you might be amazed about it. Craig has said when the people fear the government, it is tyranny. When the government fears the people, it is liberty. Ponder that for a few moments and think about what is happening in the US. Whenever we have traveled outside of our country, it increases our awareness of what is happening inside our country. Don't get us wrong, there is no better place in the world to live then here. We just begin to realize how much we don't want to be like the other countries we have visited.

Stay tuned...............we hope to get some pics posted today........that is, I have to find the camera first !

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Peter and George....our steps are designed by God

I promised you in the last post to tell you the story of Craig's new friends, Peter and George.  Here it is.....

On Saturday, the day of the Blue Mountain tour, we were assigned to a small busload of 11 people who were all friends from New York City.  They were hilarious and adopted us "southerners" for the day.  On our way back to Sydney, our new friends asked the bus driver to make a small detour into a village area to purchase some additional snacks and refreshments.  As they were wandering through this village area trying to locate an appropriate shop, Craig began to wander the street, sort of window-shopping.  He stepped into a shop that resembled a general store.  As he meandered through the store, the music playing caught his was Christian!  He approached the counter and asked the proprietor "what radio station is playing?" The two guys behind the counter replied "102.8".  Craig said, "It is Christian?"  they said "yes".  He said "You are believers?"  to which they replied with a hearty "yes, yes," and with very big smiles!  Craig greeted them on behalf of the brothers and sisters in the faith from the United States.  He began to share Scripture and stories to encourage them.  Peter shared that God had been so good to he and his wife in that he had had a very bad job and they were trusting God about a better job so he quit the bad job.  Then God provided not just a job but a business for him to own to support his family !  Wow!  Craig prayed for them, exchanged emails, and agreed to keep in touch after we return to the States.   

Coincidence ?  Not hardly.  Was it an accident that we were on that bus that would pull over in Springwood, New South Wales, Australia that would just happen to stop on the street  that this shop was on?  No way.  

Did God orchestrate that meeting of fellow believers from different continents that afternoon?  Absolutely!  

It was another awesome moment in the journey that has taken some pretty cool turns.

Wait until I share with you about what happened next.............

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Blue Mountains

Saturday was spent traveling up to the Blue Mountains.  They are called Blue because of the way the mist rises and the sun reflects off the peaks and valleys, making the area appear "blue" in color.  It was beautiful and I wish we could give you some pictures right now.  But, again, internet is limited so "pickies" will have to wait.  We did see kangaroos in the wild as we traveled to the mountains as well as some of the largest cockatils/toos I have ever seen.  MaCaws were in the wild as well.  Amazing to see the animals in the wild that we are used to seeing in the zoo.  It is definitely more pleasing to see in the wild.  

Craig has a very interesting story to share about some new friends named Peter and George.  I would have him post that now but he is in a meeting while I am on the internet.  He will have to post later so do return to read this story.  It will warm your heart and hopefully encourage your walk with the Lord as you realize He controls every step you make and every encounter you have - whether in New Zealand, Australia, or North America.  Our God is huge and Sovereign and there are no coincidences.  Hopefully, he will be able to get back online this afternoon so it will be posted when you get up on Sunday morning.  

We are off to go sailing in Sydney Harbor this afternoon....I hope the sun is out so we can get some pics for you........enjoy your evening.......

A Few Australian Observations

Tonight, it is Saturday night for us (that means it is in the wee morning hours of Saturday for you).  We have had two very packed days here in Sydney.  

Yesterday, they put us on buses to tour the city and to learn some of the history of this town. For those of you who are history buffs, this city began as a penal colony a little over 200 years ago.  Seems Great Britain has a pattern of exporting all their criminals to their colonies to get them off their mainland.  It is what they did to Bermuda as well.  Anyway, what the motherland thought would be a penal colony and a way to rid themselves of "lower society" has now become a major city in the Commonwealth.  

This tour of the city included the famous Sydney Opera House.  I have to admit that this icon has been something I have wanted to see in person but never thought I would see it.  It was fascinating and not anything like I would have expected it to be. Yes, it is a venue for theater and concerts (among other performances) but it is smaller than the pictures make it look.  Don't get me wrong, it is a huge building with five performing venues.  For those of you who are into architecture, the design story is fascinating.  The designer used the concept of the sphere in his creation; however, it took numerous mistakes to get the design just right and the building completed.  If you are into design and math, it would be worth your time to read about it.  Interestingly, as we stood in the main concert hall and listened to some musicians warm-up/rehearse, I began to ponder how secular man has influenced the arts since the fall of man.  My thoughts wandered to how God created music......have you really thought about this?  Music is very complex - it is a language all of its own and very mathematical.  The tones are unique and the way they relate are either pleasing to the ear or not. Additionally, music speaks to the soul of man.  It also allows for expression in a form that combines the lyrical voice with the written word.  Deep thoughts, I know, that occurred in a matter of moments.  But I was struck by the awareness that many are wandering in the dark in the arts, looking for something/someone to fill the void in their soul that was made to be filled only by the Creator.  

We finished the day by having dinner on the wharf overlooking the Harbor and the Opera House.  Both are beautiful at night.  I wish we could post pics but we are using macs and cannot download our pics to this computer to be able to put them on the blog.  I guess we will have to do that when we return.  

Saturday (today) was spent up in the Blue Mountains.  I will do a separate post about it later.

Thanks to all of you who are standing in the gap for us and helping with our children and being on standby for Mrs. Hoosier. We have been able to enjoy this trip knowing that they are in good hands!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

We are now in Australia!

This morning we woke up in a very cold New Zealand, made a quick trip to the Panel Beaters (a picture to follow later when we get better internet), and then drove a few hours to Auckland to catch our flight to Sydney. We had lunch in the Auckland airport where Craig met yet another friend, Andrew (again, pic to follow later) and we had a wonderful conversation over lunch. Turns out that Andrew is somewhat of a world traveler but more than that, he tests land for gold mining. Sounds kinda interesting. Our flight to Sydney was about 4 hours in length and was rather uneventful.

We hope to post some pics of Sydney tomorrow night but our internet access may be limited here at the hotel. So just keep checking to see if we have posted yet.

Just for those of you who are curious, we are 15 hours ahead of right now, it is 6:45 pm on Thursday and I believe that would mean it is 3:45 am for you. We have already finished the day that you have not even started! We hope you enjoy your Thursday !

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Catechism, Statements of Faith, and the Hoosier Family

Many of the protestant catechisms and Statements of Faith start with this question:

What is man's primary purpose?

The answer is “Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

The Hoosier family has to add this question to our family's tenets:

What is our family's secondary purpose?

The answer is “The Hoosiers secondary purpose is to provide comic relief for their friends and family by sharing their various life trials and events so that those around them can experience a high level of entertainment and experience a reduction in their own life stress.”

By now, you are probably wondering “What in the world have the Hoosiers done now in New Zealand?”

On Monday, in the sporty rental car, Craig backed into a small wooden post causing a small dent in the bumper. Oops. No big deal, because we're thinking, American Express has an extra layer of car insurance for its card holders when they reserve and pay using your AMEX card. Or at least we thought they did, until this morning. Craig called American Express International Services to see what we would have to do before we returned the car only to discover that there are six countries that AMEX does not cover. Do I have to tell you any more? Yes, New Zealand is one of the six. After having the discussion of “why didn't AMEX alert me to this when I rented the car”, we embarked on a mission to get the dent out of the bumper. So instead of touring Taupo as a tourist, we went to the car wash (so we can truly assess the extent of the damage), the hardware store (so we could obtain the necessary tools to suction and/or beat the dent out of the bumper) and then to the local paint and body shop because the car wash showed us that the damage was noticeable and the tools at the hardware shop didn't work. The guy at the paint and body shop did inform us of how to take care of the problem and what would be a fair price to pay. However, he couldn't take care of it and we wouldn't be able to either without a source of heat with an extension card, a rubber mallet and a suction cup apparatus. Hmmmm...the conclusion was that there was no easy fix to this problem! UGH. AMEX did tell us that we could file a letter of reconsideration (I guess that is like filing a request for them to reconsider paying the claim?). Do you think this would really work? Well by this time it is after lunch now and we decide to continue to enjoy our day in Taupo as we ponder exactly what to do about this ummm little blip in our vacation. All we really have done all day is shake our head about it, not really believing this has happened! We will take pictures in the morning and run by the "panel beater" shop (aka body shop) for a written estimate prior to turning in the car in the morning and flying to Sydney. Surely, the week will get better? or is Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day a true book?

Not all is lost though as we enter Taupo as true tourists and wander the streets that line the lake and take in some shopping. We walked into a hunting and fishing store only to discover the lady working there is a LSU fan!! What are the odds of that happening? And you know we do not believe in coincidences so we took that meeting and the time of fellowship as a gift from the Lord to encourage us to enjoy the day. Her kindness and warmth renewed our spirits. Here is a picture of her and Craig in the store....

By the way, did I mention that when we got up this morning it was -4 C? That is very cold. I didn't even do the conversion because here was my thought....if 0 C is our 32F then -4C is below freezing and who really cares exactly how far below freezing it is?......Its COLD!!

Lake Taupo is probably the most well-known and frequented tourist site on the north island of NZ. It is beautiful and to try to capture it by camera and/or video is next to impossible. However, we did try. Here are a few pickies......that's Kiwi for pictures:

Near Taupo is a beautiful site called Huka (pronounced Hooka) Falls.Then we traveled a few kilometers north to the Aratiatia Dam and Falls. Here are a few photos from some of the viewpoints.....

Obviously, you get the idea that the scenery in NZ is beautiful. New Zealand has lush green landscapes and the sky is a brilliant blue. The water is clear and blue except in the thermal areas (see previous post and pics). The air is fresh and clean to breathe. Couple this scenery with some of the nicest people you will meet and you have a wonderful place to visit. Craig would like to become the travel ambassador for NZ – he thinks he could easily encourage people to visit New Zealand and bring their families!

Tomorrow, Thursday, we depart New Zealand and fly to Sydney, Australia for a new adventure. We are sad to leave NZ.....we haven't had enough time to see what we want to see nor to visit with enough Kiwis. We do want to put in a plug, though.....IF you ever have the opportunity to come this way, please do. You won't regret it, we promise!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Homeschooling is a Lifestyle....even in New Zealand

As we completed today's activities and prepared to travel to our next destination, we started to recount all the lessons we had learned today. By the time we finished, we discovered that we had put in a full day's worth of school!

We covered math first....we had to covert the outside temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit because it was -1 C this morning !! Then we discovered we were doing math all day as we were converting metric measurements (kilometers to miles; kilometers per hour to miles per hour, etc.) By the end of the day, we were getting faster at this conversion process.

Next, we covered economics as we discussed the issues of cattle and sheep farming as we would pass miles and miles of pasture land full of herds of cows or sheep. I often thought about our Almighty and the phrase “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills”.

Then we visited a Maori village, where we toured a “live” thermal village. You can see their website at Our tour was fascinating to say the least and it covered such topics as cultural studies, history, language, science, home economics, and religion. How did we cove so much in one stop? The Maori people and their history enthralled us for almost two hours as we walked this village and listened to Anita, our tour guide who was a 4th generation Maori guide. Very personal, warm, kind, and friendly is how we would describe Anita. She shared the history of her people, their current cultural practices and some of their language as she escorted us through the village. This is a picture of a Maori sleeping house used in previous times (not currently).....

We covered science principles and home economics as she explained the active geothermal activity of bubbling mud pools, boiling mineral springs, silica terraces, and erupting geysers. This is Anita, explaining the thermal springs to us...

Here is a picture of a mud pool...they used to sell their mud for medicinal purposes but could not keep up with the demand so they stopped. They only use it for their people.

When she opened the hangi, she taught us how they cook their meals using this thermal activity to steam whatever they are cooking. Here is someone's dinner in a hangi.....

She also taught us how they use the thermal pools to blanch vegetables and cook puddings. Finally, Anita took us to one of the churches in the village. It happened to be an Anglican church and there is also a Catholic church. It surprised us that they had churches in their village. It surprised us more when she said “It doesn't matter what church you go to, at the end of the day there is only one supreme being.” Sad, isn't it ? She didn't see the need for revering God as we know Him. Unfortunately she feels it is okay to have any god and every god as long as you recognize that there is only one.

From the Maori village, we traveled a few miles down the road to Wai-o-Tapu, Thermal Wonderland. Off to a major science adventure, especially if you are into geothermal formations and physical science. “This is New Zealand's most colorful and diverse volcanic area.” The pools were varying colors from yellow to orange to lime green to just mud color. You can see their website at Here are some of our pictures of the colored pools.....

Thanks for joining us at school today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Greetings from Down Under

We are here....we arrived after a very long day of travel. It felt strange because we boarded the plane in Los Angeles around 10 pm on Saturday night, flew about 13 hours in the air, and landed in New Zealand at 5:25 am on Monday morning. We missed Sunday! The flight was good and we slept well. When we arrived in New Zealand, it was quiet and customs was smooth. Everyone was friendly and pretty laid back.

We have had some good laughs, though. After getting our luggage and going through customs, we had to pick up our car rental. Easy enough, except for a minor detail. They drive on the opposite side of the road! Which means that the steering wheel and all the controls are on the right side of the vehicle. If you could have seen us in the Hertz rent-a-car parking lot! First, Craig tried to enter the vehicle from the left side (which is normal for us in the US); then, after we loaded and he got in on the correct side, he discovered all the controls were on the opposite side. He said it felt like driving while looking in a mirror. He only had to drive around the parking lot 2 times to “test” it out and then we were off. Thankfully, the sun wasn't up and we discovered that New Zealanders don't start their days very early. Rush hour was not until 8:30-9:00 am so he had plenty of time to practice before the roads got busy. The only thing that kept giving him fits was the blinker control and the gear shift. The gift shift for his vehicle at home is on his right; in this vehicle, it is on his left. He has parked the car twice only to discover later that it was never put in park prior to turning the ignition to off! Then, he discovered that every time he wanted to use the turn signals, the windshield wipers would come on. The funny part was that we were driving in beautiful sunny weather with the wipers going!!

Then check out these road you know what they mean?

Then, true to Hoosier form, we were in the country less than 12 hours and he has met, befriended, and exchanged emails with a true Kiwi (that is what native New Zealanders call themselves). His name is Greg and here is a pic of he and Craig. (Nicky...I thought of your comment about watching Craig in Venezuela making friends with Venezuelans even though he couldn't speak the language well. We now have pictures of Craig with his various friends from all over the world. He is gathering quite an international crew!)

This pic is for our is to redeem their father and his history with rental cars. Only they will understand the reason for including this pic. One of our family stories has to do with Dad and renting a car on a trip to San Diego a few years back. It provided great laughs and life lessons, but it is one story Dad will never live down. Here is a pic of this trip's car....kinda sporty and cute, don't you think? Is he redeemed ?

Finally, here are a few scenic shots from today's adventures. The beach shots are from the beaches around Raglan which are famous for surfers and the falls are called Bridal Veil Falls. They were breathtaking!

Thanks for following our trip and stay tuned, there is more to come. Take Care and God Bless.

Friday, June 19, 2009

THE day or The DAY or D-Day....

Tomorrow, June 20, is THE day or the DAY or D-Day (Departure Day) for us as we fly to New Zealand and later in the week, Sydney, Australia. We have been working up to this day for weeks now and finally things have come together, sort of. It has been a week of comedic errors and I have wondered if Candid Camera was a tv show that still existed ! (Have you had one of those kind of weeks ?) Nonetheless, we are off to see if indeed "terrible, no good, very bad days" exist in Australia (see previous post on Captain Kangaroo) or if we can rewrite the ending to that book !

Hopefully our next post will be from Down Under....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

22 years and counting.....

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary!

Many of you are wondering how that could be...."why, we are way too young to have been married that long." LOL!

You see, I was just 12 when I got married :0!!

I told that to someone today and she replied with "Well, you are from Alabama." (Imagine the drawl in that sentence.)

I see, I am not from Alabama but from a close cousin (Louisiana) where marrying at a young age probably would have been acceptable.....that is if you could have convinced MY parents!

So as to not reveal our exact ages at marriage (I was over 12), the family "rule" I lived with was you had to finish your degree BEFORE you were eligible for matrimony. And that meant your undergraduate degree, not just a high school degree. I graduated from college in May, married Craig two weeks later, and then moved 350 miles away from family to start our journey. And what a journey it has been !

At times, marriage has been an arduous trek. And at other times, it has been a a slow, peaceful stroll. But, at ALL times, always with the Lord. He has never left us, nor forsaken us as we have traveled the path He has laid before us.

As Craig said from day one -

"Marriage is an enhancement to life!"

Our lives have been enhanced and enriched because the Lord gave us the blessing of marriage. He has taught us to rely on Him and to trust Him with all things and in all things. He has been faithful to two young adults who started out on this path 22 years ago who had little of nothing but each other, some huge hopes and dreams, and the Lord as our guide. We walked pathways we never dreamed we would walk and we have experienced struggles we never dreamed we would have to go through. We have experienced great highs and very low lows. All while we were learning not just about each other but, more importantly, about the Almighty God we love and serve. Love does grow deeper as the years go longer.....both for your spouse and for the Lord. What a wonderful God we serve!

We pray our marriage testimony, in some small way, encourages you in your walk with the Lord!

Many smiles to you........debra

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life Lessons learned from Captain Kangaroo

Did you ever watch Captain Kangaroo as a child ? and Mr. Green Jeans ?

I did. And I remember very clearly a book that I was introduced to by the Captain that has stayed with me over the years. It was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

In case you didn't watch the Captain OR you are not familiar with the book, let me recap the story for you. It starts out with this.....

"Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in his hair. And it got worse... His best friend deserted him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV!" And his solution was "I think I will move to Australia."

Well, around our house, we had Debra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad WEEK! And I thought about life and Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans and being a small child, sitting in front of the tv, listening to the Captain read this book and I wondered "Can I move to Australia??"

So, you ask, what happened ? Well, the week started with having the pleasure of helping a friend by keeping her two children while she did her civic duty. You can read about her experience on her blog It was interesting, to say the least. Her post is a good start to our week. I think she might have been thinking about Australia at the end of her first day of civic duty :).

Tuesday, Jason and I left early for an appointment only to receive a text message from Giann to tell me that nothing in the refrigerator was cold and the ice cream in the freezer was mush! Great, I thought. We are either in for a hefty repair bill or a new refrigerator purchase. Neither were on my list for the week. Giann, being the organizer she is, had moved the perishable things to the small refrigerator we have in the basement and the stuff that had not thawed to the deep freeze. I just had to take care of the rest of the stuff and call the repair man.

The repairman came and was a Louisiana guy that had been displaced due to Katrina (I guess that was a blessing in the midst of it all) as he told me he would do everything he could to get my refrigerator back working. Well, well, well, the part wasn't on his truck. Wouldn't you know it ?

Repairman leaves, supper is cooking, and Craig and I begin to look for Jason. We are calling him on his walkie-talkie and not getting an answer. Not even static. Very uncharacteristic for Jason. He ALWAYS answers his walkie-talkie. Craig rides around the neighborhood calling him but not getting a response. He is with a friend and the other mother hasn't seen or heard from them either in a few hours. The older brother then tells us that they had gone to the tunnel that connects the nature trail creek to the other creek on the other side of Hwy 280 ! Craig and the brother go to the nature trail and the tunnel, Craig crawls through it and cannot find them. He is calling them and still no answer. It is now 6:30 and we are very concerned. I called a personal friend who is also involved with fire and police and he was finishing a city council meeting and happened to be sitting with the Fire Chief and the next thing I knew, here came Search and Rescue,etc. Needless to say, it was tense. About 45 minutes later, the boys came out of the woods on the other side of the neighborhood, at the other child's house. Praise God they were okay. They had no idea that we had been looking for them. The walkie-talkie - had been dropped and gotten wet, thus, it was not working properly. communication. Then we had to deal with the Sheriff's Deputy....that will have to wait for another post or just leave it to your imagination.

Hmmm....Debra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week was just getting started......Australia was looking more like a good solution........

Wednesday comes around and the repair company informs us that the part is out by the airport and that they would not be able to fix the refrigerator until Thursday morning. My inital response was "no". The lady was speechless. I replied with "I appreciate how far that is for you but I want my refrigerator repaired today". I just couldn't take it. I had two ice chests full of food, the ice was melting, I had had a horrible Tuesday, we are still trying to finish school work, etc. etc. You know what it is like. It just was not acceptable to me that just because the part was by the airport, I was going to have to wait another 24-36 hours for it. Please! (And note....I was very nice to her. I just wasn't willing to schedule the repair on Thursday so we were at a stalemate.)

Funny how things happen when you state your need in a nice manner. She finally said "if you will put a deposit on a credit card, I will make sure someone repairs it this afternoon." My reply was "I will put the whole amount on the credit card if you will guarantee someone will be out here by mid-afternoon!" She did. And they were. By 2:00 pm. Amazing! I began to think the week would get better. You know...thinking CAN get you in trouble at times.

Thursday morning arrives and we are working on finishing up those last pieces to call it a school year. However, I awoke with this very sharp pain in my back that was like no other I had had before. Great. Now what have I done ? I had a rib that had slid out of place. Once it was manipulated back into place, all the pain subsided. So, again.....I am contemplating that the week has to just get better..... either that, or I need a Australia.....

Friday....we start our day like normal to discover that Buddy, our dog, had an inflamed snout. His snout is raw and bleeding from having been scratched and he is just plain miserable. Plus, the hair on his snout has fallen out. Then, accidentially, we overdosed him on benedryl. But, we have discovered that it really didn't matter because it did nothing to him. He didn't even get woozy. We gave him 150 mg of benedryl (he weighs 60 lbs) and he acted normal. Can you believe that? We had to make an emergency trip to the vet only to discover that the dog has intensive environmental allergies (vs. food allergies) and he was the third dog in there that morning with the same profile (it was just 9:45 am). One shot and 3 prescriptions later, we returned home. Do they have allergies in Australia ?

Hmm.....maybe Alexander had a good idea....maybe things will look better in Australia.

I don't know but Craig and I will have the opportunity to find out.

You see, he was awarded a trip to Australia for all his hard work this past year.

We leave June 20.....maybe, just maybe, there won't be any terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days while we are gone........

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Camp Smile-a-Mile

Yesterday, it was "Orange Day" for Craig's company and our family joined his company in a day of volunteering. (It is called "Orange Day" because his company's logo color is orange.) Anyway, we joined about 60 other people from all over the state of Alabama and converged at Lake Martin to prep Camp Smile-a-Mile for the summer. If you are not familiar with Camp Smile-a-Mile, let me tell you about it. This is from their

Camp Smile-A-Mile (SAM) is a non-profit organization in Alabama for children who have or have had cancer. Year round programs are provided for the campers and their family at no cost. It's permanent camping location is on Lake Martin.

Why did Camp SAM start?
Before Camp SAM, children with cancer in Alabama couldn’t go to overnight camp because of chemotherapy or other medical treatments. Now, children with cancer can attend camp while receiving the medical care they need. More than 400 children participate in Camp SAM annually

With the creation of Camp Smile-A-Mile in 1985, these special children would be able to participate in a normal camping environment while remaining under medical supervision. Before Camp SAM, many children were not able to go to a sleepover camp because they were undergoing chemotherapy. Now every child up to age eighteen who is a current or former cancer patient can go to camp through our program. Qualified medical personnel from the Hematology-Oncology Department at The Children’s Hospital stay at the camp during each camping session. They administer chemotherapy as well as take care of all the first aid needs of the campers.

We did everything from plant new flowers, mulch beds, paint flowerpots, make gift bags for the moms and daughters to have "spa night" to repair bicycles, build picnic tables and wash boats! Here are some pics......

We were slways aware that this facility was used to minister to children and families who are currently struggling with cancer or had been struggling with cancer. At lunch, the Program Director shared with us that a group of families would be arriving that night that had just been diagnosed with cancer. Don't you know that their world was spinning ? I couldn't even begin to imagine the amount of emotions those families were experiencing. And all we had to do was give of our time and skill (somewhat limited in some areas!) to add a little sunshine to their lives. We gave 8 hours - really not much in the big picture.

But we were challenged to give more of our time and of ourselves. Twice.

Once by the program director when she issued a very simple challenge at lunch. She said "We need volunteers to give of themselves during the summer camps and I guarantee you will receive more from coming here than going to lay on any beach anywhere in the world!"

Second, by Craig's former boss who asked me a simple question after lunch. He said, "Hey Debra, do you think you and Craig would join Kay and me in giving a week of your time next summer down here ?" Without hesistation, and speaking for Craig since he was somewhere else, I replied with "sure - if they let my children come too!"

I was reminded of Jesus who told his disciples "Let the little children come to me." Don't you know the children smiled at the sight of Jesus and at the sound of his voice and the touch of his hands ?

Oftentimes, our pastor has said, in matters of love, one must go himself. I think in situations like Camp SAM, it is nice to give financially, but these children and families need to see and feel the Body of Christ envelop them as they walk through the journey of cancer.

In matters of love, one must go himself.

Jesus did.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Birthday Tea and April's Giving Bank

Dear Family and Friends,

It is with JOY that we celebrated Hayley's 16th birthday! Giann has come to enjoy her friendship and her sweet fellowship over the past several years. I was going to upload pictures to our blog but thought it might be easier if you just visit Giann's blog and see the ones she has posted. Her blog is listed to the right of this post and is called "My life....unscripted".

For her birthday, Hayley's request was for her friends to gather in a time of fellowship with her over a Tea. Additionally, if they felt led, her heartbeat was to provide some basic clothing items, school items, first-aid supplies, etc. for children in the Sudan. Her uncle has a ministry that will be returning to the Sudan in July and the items she collects would be able to go with him. What a perfect opportunity for us to use our giving bank in April! For more information on this ministry, you can go to their website at If you want to get involved, there are plenty of needs. Again, our prayer when we started the giving bank was for the Lord to show us how we could be aware of needs around us and participate in them in a small way. All we do is put change in the bank when we have it. Oftentimes when we are out and about and have spent cash and received change, I will give it to Jason or Giann and tell them to put it in their pocket so when we get home they can put it in the bank. That is how we accrue money to give away. It is not lots but it a small way for us to stay aware and to keep giving in front of us at all times.

Again, go to Giann's blog and enjoy the pics!


Snake followup

Hmmmmm.....some of you had very interesting comments about Craig and the snake-handling event. But the most interesting one came from a forester friend of ours who reports some interesting facts.

First, he said that the statistics say 50% of snakebites come from people trying to kill a snake. Oops. Glad we did not make that statistic. Remember this though when you are in your yard or in the local woods and come upon a snake. Your odds are not good.

Second, he said when he doesn't have his truck tire or his pistol handy to take out the enemy, he has been told by snake experts to get a 5-6 spindly branch and use it like a whip and "waa-pow" the snake at the back of his head (kind of where his so called neck would be). This is suppose to kill the snake ?! I had to ask if he had indeed seen this technique and he had. However, I just couldn't see someone try it who had never used it or seen it being used. A large rock seemed like such a better option. Of course, not having to deal with a venomous snake at all would be the preferred choice!

I don't know about you, but I prefer the NOT having to deal with the snake. By the way, I wasn't the cameraman for this event. I, very purposefully, was sitting inside the recreation hall, visiting with a friend until someone returned and told us the snake was dead. It was only then that we exited the building and returned to our dorms, watching very closely every step we took.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

If serpent handling is a sign of true salvation then......

A few weeks ago, our family went on an overnight field trip with our cover school to our local 4-H center where we discovered just how adept Craig is with a large rock and a lot of adrenaline! Here are a few pictures of his foe:

While he was considering his options, his foe took this pose:

Some of the boys, Jason included, had run to the main office seeking the maintenance man for assistance. What they found was sweet Mrs. Betty who called the maintenance man and received these instructions: "if you have an adult with you, you may kill the snake". Well, well, many times do you have to give 12-13 year old boys permission to kill a snake ? not many because within seconds they were back down the hill with the instructions for Craig to kill the snake. Of course, there was no implement with which to carry out this task. So, being resourceful, he reached for a very large rock and proceeded to hurl the rock at the snake's head. I am sure he felt somewhat like David as he faced Goliath with 5 small stones......but he won! What once was a venomous 3 1/2 foot threat to 40+ people had met his match!

So, I ask, did he pass the serpent-handling test ?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lazy or too busy ?

Well, our DESIRE was to post more on our family blog but that isn't happening. It is because of one of three things:
1) we are too lazy,
2) we are too boring, or
3) we are too busy.

I am choosing option #3.

April has been a very full month. It always is and I guess will be for the duration of our homeschooling lives. It is the time of the year that all things converge together....drama performances, SAT testing, piano competitions, track meets, sports events, end-of-the-year field trips, birthday parties, etc. And it all comes at a time when we have SPRING FEVER! Oh well....we are trying to pull it together to finish this year before the end of May.

Speaking of the end of May....let me share with you what Giann will be doing this summer. She has been accepted to be a local summer missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship where she will be one of a team of seven who will be conducting backyard Bible clubs throughout the Birmingham-metro area for 7 weeks. She has to go to training from May 30-June 6 and has tons of Scripture and material to memorize. Everyone that she has talked with and we have talked with that has done this has loved it, even though the work is hard. She is excited.

Jason.... we haven't figured out what he will be doing to redeem his time this summer. We will be working on that plan in the weeks to come.

Again, our desire is to be more diligent in our postings! We are trying and maybe as life slows down a bit, we will be successful!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

From crutches to wheels !

Yes.....Jason has progressed from his crutches to a thing with wheels...not a wheelchair but this....

and because he has learned to share...we had this.....

Jason has tried to wait patiently as we have searched for a mini-bike for him. We had tried to find him a good used one for 2 months and found one today at the local pawn shop. He has had a blast riding it around the neighborhood and on the trails. Happy belated 12th Birthday !!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Giving Bank

Hello All,

Many of you are very interesting...well, all of you are interesting but I think I am talking about in reference to the blogging. You read the blog and then instead of posting a comment, you send me an email. That is fine but you could save yourself a step if you would post on the blog. I am all about efficiency!

On to the post for today.......our giving bank (see previous posts if you are not sure what this is). This month, we have struggled with our bank and who/what to give to. Our church has a Family Assistance program that they collect donations for at the beginning of each month so Craig donated to that program. Then we weren't sure what to do. He didn't get money from the giving bank, per se; he took it from his wallet. Well, that left money in the bank. After three weeks of praying, we still do not have any leading from the Lord about who to give this money to so we have decided to leave it in the bank until next month...let it build. Additionally, we have found two old pair of eyeglasses that we will donate to Target's ONE SIGHT program. See their site for more information

I think the Lord is reminding us that not all giving has to be monetary....another reason why we are cleaning out drawers, cabinets, and closets. We will be making a trip to the Hannah Home collection boxes soon to give away those things we do not need.

I think I am going to borrow this saying from a wiser woman......

"I aim to live simply so I can give generously"

Happy Giving,

Friday, March 6, 2009

Football Days.....

Flag football practice started last week! Jason was excited because he enjoyed the game so much last fall. He has the privilege of being coached by another homeschooling father who is also a family friend. Knowing what the coach expected and a lot of the plays, Jason was thrilled for the spring season to start. At practice this Tuesday, he was sprinting down the field and felt like he was off to a good start until he heard a "pop" and fell to the ground. Now, instead of sporting cleats, these are his new appendages....

And this is his new "THRONE.......

Needless to say, he is bored stiff and sad that he won't be playing in their first game tomorrow. We are hoping for a full recovery soon so he can return to his team. Go Tigers!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow on the First Day of March!

We awoke to a white yard and blowing snow. It has been snowing pretty strong all morning and the kids and Craig went out in it to play. Because of loaning my skiwear to various members of our family (Giann had my snow shoes, Craig my ski jacket because he had loaned his to someone outside the family, and Jason with one of his ski mittens and one of my ski gloves), I had to stay inside and keep warm :). I managed to endure the warmth of the home while they romped in the snow. Below are some pictures, esp. for our friends who are experiencing 75 degree weather today.

This is a view of our home around 8:30 am.

Craig and Jason enduring the cold!

I couldn't resist this one.....a cardinal enduring the snow to get some food.

The neighbors and Giann "eating" snow.

A different type of snowman!