What uncommon things do we want to become common?

Things like:
our children having mutual love and respect for each other.
our teenage children having love, honor, respect and obedience for their parents.
us continually becoming better friends and lovers.
our family totally trusting God in all things and putting our faith in Him to fulfill his promises.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Family Christmas

By Granny Kay
Brack's six year old son, Harlem, is spending the weekend with us.  So we're having our Istre family Christmas tomorrow.

Harlem is helping me tonight while Brack is working at Cracker Barrel.  

We are doing something different this year.  Instead of buying gifts, we're doing virtual gifts.  We drew names, then each of us will draw or cut and paste to make a picture of the gift we would buy that person and tell why.  So when Harlem came over today, I helped him get started on it.  He asked a couple of times, "we're only having PRETEND gifts?"  But after he got into it, he found it was quite fun to try to figure out what someone really likes and then "give" them that by making it for them.  We each are making two, so we each will get two.  We must tell why we would "give" them that particular gift or trip or whatever. There will be prizes for the winners. I think it's going to be a blast! And of course, everyone is a winner!  Oh yes, and the prizes are something for them to make or do and be creative with.

Well, Harlem drew Sterling's name and Steele's name.  For Sterling he cut out pictures of Sterling's favorite football player and said Sterling would go to their next game and get to stand on the sidelines with him.  For Steele, he cut out pictures of LEGOS and said he'd give those to Steele b/c he likes LEGOS and "Can I play with him again at his house upstairs with his LEGOS?"  So precious!

Well, once he got into it, he couldn't stop.  He wanted to make one for EVERYONE!

He did stop long enough to help me make three dishes for our Christmas breakfast in the morning and clean up the mess.  He's a great little helper!  Guess I'd forgotten how much fun it is to cook with a six year old...cracking eggs and then fishing egg shells out of the batter!

He's sitting beside me while I'm typing and said just now, "I can't wait until we eat that breakfast we made!"

Have yourself a merry little Christmas and enjoy this RAIN we're getting!

Our New Friend Brack

By Creg

Brack Daniels has been staying with my parents at their house for the last 3 months, on good weekends he has his 6 year old son, Harlem, with him. We met Brack at Faithworks, a non-profit organization that teaches work & social skills with a spiritual emphasis to the underemployed, when we delivered a lunch there. He graduated on Tuesday and afterward was baptized at Jacob's dream at ACU. What a night to remember. He was one of five chosen to make a speech about his life story. Here it is:
"As I live today chasing moments, valuing togetherness, overcoming all obstacles, I think back to the biggest opportunity missed in my life.  I was eleven years old when my mother decided for us to relocate to Columbus, Ohio for a fresh start. I can still remember her words to this day: "Son, you're the man of the house now." It was like I went from being a momma's boy, sucking on my thumb and playing with her ear to fall asleep at night to being something that I never was truly introduced to...a real man. But that's not to say it wasn't possible.  I complained about everything...not having name-brand clothes, shoes and being able to do and have what other kids had. Instead of looking at the most precious blessing in my life, which was a strong mother, who was willing to walk to work every morning through the blistering cold snow to provide for her family. It was that selfishness that caused me not to be there for my daughter and having to serve five consecutive years in prison.While I was incarcerated, my mother would blame herself for me rightfully being where I deserved to be for my debt owed to society.

After being released in 2012, I fell back into some of the same traps. Weeks prior to signing up for FaithWorks, I was shot by two men seeking to rob me of drugs and money. My initial reaction was, "They're gonna die for what they did to me!" Then I thought back to an analogy that reminded me of my self worth. Life is similar to being in traffic. Everyone has his own lane. But there's gonna come a time when a reckless driver attempts to play chicken with you. Your pride and ego will tell you, "Don't back down!" But the Spirit of the Lord will say, "Pull over! Be still and allow that person to go ahead."

To everyone here tonight, life has value, purpose and meaning. FaithWorks has reminded me of my own. As an overcomer, I couldn't have done it by myself. First I must thank the Creator above for all the divine connections He has placed in my life:

*Paul Mathis, as the FaithWorks instructor, who walked with me when the rest of the world walked on me.

*The Istre Family for having the biggest impact on my life over the last two and a half months.

I can finally breathe now, with assurance that I am more than smart. For a smart man prides himself in getting out of a situation that a wise man would never put himself in.

I can finally breathe with assurance that now given a second chance at being a father, the men in my life today are fully equipping me for the job.

I can finally breathe now in the contentment FaithWorks has provided me with a full-time job at RenTech and has brought me to this very moment today.

My baptism signifies me being dead to sin and alive through Christ.

Walking in wisdom is to walk in grace.

Submitting to God is how we seek His face.

Christ set the ultimate standard to how we should live.

So today, this life of mine, Lord to You I give."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Violin Concert

By Creg

Hendrick Hospital
Samantha & Chelsa went with their violin teacher and her other students last Saturday to play a violin concert. They played at the children's wing of Hendrick Hospital and at the Chisholm House nursing home. Needless to say, they were well received by all who were there. 

Chisholm House

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Icy Fun

By Creg

Samantha on the sled ready for take-off.
We were hit with a 9 degree cold front last weekend that came with a little ice & snow. It wasn't fun breaking the ice in the animals water containers, but bring out a sled and a ramp and let the fun begin.

I would back the 4-wheeler to the ramp and a kid would hang on to the sled which was at the end of a long rope.

Steele getting air-born.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions

By Creg
Sterling, Steele, and Samantha working on the Thanksgiving table cloth.
 Since 1980, when I was 13, my mom has had our family write on our table cloth every Thanksgiving. After our hearty lunch we get out the markers and the calendar and fill our space with the many thankful things for the year. It started out with my brother and I writing, and drawing mainly about our favorite sports teams, our own accomplishments, and our girlfriends (All except one has been crossed out :). Now it's filled with stories and pictures about how God has worked in our lives. Since all four of our kids are now participating we go through a table cloth every few years. It's really neat to look at the previous years and remember our blessings.

Samantha and Steele's 2012 Thank You on the table cloth
  This year we added something new. The kids had die-cut some Thanksgiving images on colored paper and we all wrote a note to everyone. Our guests this year were Brack, Lloyd, and Brigitte and her two kids; they were in on it too. After lunch we took turns reading our notes about why we are thankful for that person. We all went home with a lot of neat mementos, a thankful spirit, and a full belly.