Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Traditional First Day Pictures

This tradition was started by my dad. I have a picture every year on the first day with my fingers held up for what grade I was going into.

Here's my sweet middle girl, going into 8th.

And my handsome son, going into 2nd. With hardly any teeth.

And my baby, who isn't even the baby, but always will be. Going into 5th grade.

Sweet second born, going into 9th. High school?

And my precious firstborn, on the countdown now. 2 years left. Going into 11th. And she is so cute even with wisdom teeth pulled just a few days before!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Classroom

Our school has outgrown its space! This summer CC carved up a little room that had gone unused before and made it into a classroom for me. I love it. The funny thing was that we cut a hole in a wall that used to be solid and also walled up a door. So people stumble in and scratch their heads still! We are calling it the "Tower Room" since it is in the top corner of the building. I love that we have a room devoted to Bible classes again, too.

So, right after the retreat, I got to work fixing it up. No matter what grade I teach, whether Kindergarten or College, we'll have birthdays on the wall.

I added this fun "phone" for my Middle School Bible students. I know. It says 9 apps, and there are only 8. And so far only 1 student has caught it. I gave him candy. 

These are the books of the Bible, which I put on a poster board make to look like a bookcase.

I loved being able to post verses on my walls!

I went with a PacMan theme. PacMan is so retro and cool to my middle schoolers. So hip to me.

And soon school would begin! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bolu, Turkey

We had such a lovely time. We all chipped in and cooked meals and had clean up crews. We hiked and interacted, bonding as a new team.

Here we wrote things we were thankful for.

I am thankful for this staff!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On the Road to Bolu

Last year our staff traveled a couple of hours north of our city for a Back-To-School staff retreat. It was such a success, we decided to make it a yearly tradition. It gives us a bit less time for our general meetings and classroom prep, but the spiritual advantages far outweigh all that.

On the winding road up to the retreat center, we passed cows in the road and lots of village folk...

And then we arrived. I love this place, built for exactly this purpose, by some very brave people. 

I enjoyed waking early each morning and finding a quiet spot.

I also enjoyed time with friends.

We had wonderful worship and talks. We organized ourselves for a staff picture.

Here we are. The 2015-16 Oasis teaching staff!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Back Home

We hit the ground running, as we do most Augusts. CC was up for work the next morning. I was at the office to register my residence and work permit. I did have a goal for the first week, which was to unpack all the bags, get the house organized, and freeze some meals for my crock pot. I managed to get 31 in the freezer. This was such a big help to me last year when school started. 

Before school began, we had a visit from an old friend, Nilufer. She and Twinkle have been buddies since Kindergarten, but she moved away to Istanbul a few years ago. We were delighted to have her come and spend the night, while visiting a relative of hers in our city. 

They've grown so much. Though they are further apart, I am so thankful they are still friends.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Trek Home

My trip home loomed in front of me. I'd be traveling with these three kiddos. Our flight schedule was less than desirable. We had to fly out at the crack of dawn (which meant a 3AM wake up). Then we had about 10 hours in North Carolina. At the suggestion of my friend, I did something I normally don't do. I ventured out of the airport. Especially when traveling without CC, I lock the hatches and don't try anything remotely crazy. But I researched this and had a plan. Once we landed in NC, we took a 5 minute taxi ride to the Billy Graham Library. We decided to spend as long there as we could. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Our first stop was Bessie, the talking cow!

And then we went into the movie presentations in the various rooms, organized by the decades of Billy Graham's life.

We spent time at each exhibit. I showed them all the US Presidents Billy Graham had met.

And then we went into a portion of the exhibit that showed the across the globe outreach of Billy Graham's ministry. I was shocked to see this woman's video clip. She was sent out by my church, and CC worked with her one summer in Jordan.

We also got to see his boyhood home, moved brick by brick and place here on the grounds.

His kitchen

We saw where Ruth Bell Graham was buried...

...and George Beverly Shea.

Then we had a delicious lunch that was way cheaper and much yummier than the airport would have been!

We really just hung out for a very long time, much longer than the scheduled tour. The staff at the center was so very kind, and we began to get to know them. They all wanted to know where we were from, etc. We explained we were on our way to Turkey. This dear, dear man used to work for the CIA and now volunteers as the Library's security manager. He came to me and handed me a wad of cash and told me to take the kids into the bookstore and buy them some sort of keepsake. I choked back tears. If only he could know the depth of encouragement he was to me, about to board that plane. Indeed, we have family all over the world, don't we?

And so we taxied back. Our driver was a Muslim from Africa. We had an interested conversation about what the Library contains. We hung out at the airport, played devices, rested. And Big Ben pulled a tooth.
Our flight over was a good one. It was near empty, so as soon as the seatbelt lights went off, we bolted for the back of the plane and took an extra seat each. We napped and did just fine.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baltimore Wedding: Ceremony, Reception, and Farewell

The wedding was beautiful! I was so proud to stand with my sweet friend. And, uh-hm, actually served a purpose as a bridesmaid. During all the hooplah, the groom's ring was forgotten. The preacher was asking for the token of their love. No token. I quickly slipped off my anniversary band, passed it forward, and this happy couple married with my 10th anniversary band. Meanwhile, my groom was boarding a flight with my oldest two daughters. It was a happy thought to me, whether my ring was on my finger or my groom was with me, he's still mine and my thoughts were on him. And yes, I got my ring back!

Our sweet little friend came to the wedding in her finest.

Sweet Cheeks was happy to be seated by this little friend at the reception dinner. I love, love, love their glasses and smiles!

The groomsmen were great guys. Along with the groom's mom and sisters, they sang a rap to the new couple.

These amazing cupcakes were made by a precious woman and her daughter who drove all the way from East Tennessee to Baltimore to bake for her. She created these cupcakes flavors for the wedding. The Caramel Creme Latte Cupcakes were based on the favorite Starbucks drink of the couple. Her website is She is a mom, wife, believer, baker, speaker, and music maker. I would call her salt of the earth.

The bride set up a fun photo booth. Here's the gang from Turkey.

My precious friend G drove down an hour to the wedding, after just arriving from overseas the night before. She blesses me every day. I can't think of a time that I have come to her and she's been too busy or not rubbed my arm or hugged me while I talk to her. She's like a sweet fragrance to me.

We ate, partied, laughed, and then it was time to say goodbye.

What a joy to get to do this! I know this couple will last a lifetime!

We sort of knew this was coming. Happy and sad all mixed in, such is the life.

We quickly changed, then piled in a pick up truck for a ride to the airport with our sweet friends. A quick flight back to Nashville, one last church service, one last Mexican lunch with my brother's family, one last sleep, and then it was goodbye for the year. Lots of "stuff" in my heart that weekend. I'm truly thankful for all God has done for me and given me. I am thankful for friends that are hard to bid goodbye. I am thankful for a family that welcomes me for the summer, then gets me back on that plane, understanding my call.

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