Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scrapbooking, Retreats, and My Birthday

One reason I have not been writing much lately is because I have been doing a lot of scrapbooking, my favorite hobby. I am proud to say that I am caught up to November 2006 in our family album! It has been fun looking back on all the memories we created.

Wes and I have an agreement that if there is a fire, we grab the girls then the scrapbooks. Is that sad? Those of you who scrapbook know what I am talking about. You spend so many hours preserving the precious memories.

Here are just a few layouts. Some of the embellishments are hanging crooked and pictures of pictures sometimes look blurry, but you can get the general idea. You can get a better look by clicking on the pictures to enlarge them.

This past weekend I put scrapbooking aside to attend two retreats. Friday, I joined our High Schoolers for our annual Servant Leadership Retreat. Robert Oglesby from ACU, the main speaker, was very inspiring, as usual. Saturday, I left from there to meet 40 ladies from church for a ladies' retreat. This was our second year to go to Selah Inn, a beautiful retreat center located on 600 acres by Mt. Vernon in east Texas. I highly recommend this place if you ever need nice retreat accommodations. Visit http://selahranch.com/home.php for more information and to see beautiful pictures. It was a relaxing and spiritually uplifting time for all of us. Several of our ladies shared thoughts on our theme “Contagious Joy”. They really spoke from their heart and had most of us crying. That is okay…I always feel better after a good cry. I am very thankful for all those ladies and feel so blessed to be part of such a wonderful church family.

The main building at Selah Inn.

The cottage 3 of my friends and I stayed at.

The back part of the cottage.

Tomorrow is my birthday. The big 30. I definitely don’t feel 30, but I am not sad or depressed about it. It seems like just another day. Sweet Wes took me to dinner and to see We Are Marshall. We both enjoyed it and had a fun evening out. We reminisced about the days before children when we saw lots of movies. Dad volunteered to watch the girls for us, which was a real treat. The girls sure do love their Grandpa.

A New Baby

Two weekends ago I went to visit my dear friend Lauren in Shreveport who had just had a baby boy. Her husband had to go out of town for the weekend, so she asked if I would come help out. Wanting to see her and the new baby, I eagerly agreed. She has two daughters around Avery's age, as well. Abby stayed with Wes while I took Avery along, knowing that she would enjoy playing with her friends. I don't know why I bothered to take clothes for her. She loved dressing up in all their dress-up clothes. It was great catching up and meeting their adorable new family member. I had forgotten how tiny newborns are. It was precious being able to cuddle with him and have him sleep in my arms for hours.

At one point Avery asked if she could have a baby brother too. Ha! Not anytime soon!

Sweet Cole Jackson in his swing.

The three buddies!

Two cats and a princess.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

National Conference on Youth Ministries

Each year Wes and I try to attend the National Conference on Youth Ministries (NCYM). This year it was held at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We left the girls with Nana and Paw Paw and headed for the mountains. It was beautiful to see the white blanket of snow across the plains and mountains from the airplane.

We had wonderful time at the conference this year. It is always such a blessing to go to the conference. We always come away with new ideas, as well as, being refreshed and rejuvenated. There were amazing speakers such as David Fraze, Chris Seidman, Patrick Mead, and Randy Harris. It is always good to be together with old friends and to make new ones. We all share a common bond of working with youth.

Before we left for the conference Wes was asked to serve on the board of NCYM for 3 years, which is a huge honor. After praying and doing a lot of thinking we came to the conclusion that it might not be the best thing for him. Being on the board would require him to be gone 6 nights. He will already be gone taking some graduate classes this year. He didn’t want to be away from the family even more. Plus, NCYM is one of the only times he can just be a participant in something rather than in charge. It was a hard decision, but I am proud that he was asked to serve in that way. But, I am even prouder that he chose what would be best for our family.

BRRRRRRR! Remind me not to live in Colorado!

We had to keep warm somehow!!

It was great to see Josh and Shiloh Jones.

Home sweet home - for 4 nights.

One of the many beautiful views from the Cheyenne Mountain Resort.


We celebrated Christmas twice at our house. On Saturday, Wes' family came for a Christmas lunch. After the girls naptime we sang Christmas songs and read two children's boooks about the birth of Jesus. Then we began opening presents. Avery zipped through her unwrapping while Abby wanted to take her time. She wanted to play with each and every gift before moving on to the next. Wes' family stayed the night and went to church with us the next day.

After they left Aaron, Janet, Mylen, and Dad joined us that afternoon. We attended our special candlelight service at church and then came home for some of our own traditions. We sang some more Christmas songs and read a book to the cousins about why we give gifts and celebrate Christmas. After the kiddos went to bed we took turns lighting our own candles while sharing our praises from 2006 and our prayers for 2007. My family has done that for several years now, and it is always a special time of sharing our hopes and dreams.

Here are a few Christmas pictures:

Our little Santas before the madness began!

Avery in her new Ariel wedding dress.

Abby's new icecream set.

We love you Grandpa and Aunt Janet!

The cousins wrestling with Uncle Aaron after he took them for a ride.

Cousin Mylen is so fun to play with!

We had to celebrate with Aunt Katy and Uncle Blake after Christmas because poor Blake got sick. :(

Better Late Than Never...

This Holiday Season was whirlwind of Christmas parties, birthday parties, church activities, and Chritmas productions. While it was fun, I am glad that things have slowed down quite a bit.
I wanted to include a copy of our Christmas letter that we sent out. Hopefully most of you got it. If you didn't get it, we didn't have your address. Ooops! Feel free to give it to us and we will make sure you are on our list next year.

The Encalade Gazette vol. 7

Dear Friends,
Merry Christmas all. It’s time once again for our unannounced, self promoting, and unnecessarily long family Christmas letter. Yes, it’s our chance to update many of you on things you’re already well aware of and others of you on things you could probably care less about (otherwise you would have picked up the phone and askedJ). We pray you’ve had a wonderful 2006. Ours has been joyous, trying, and tremendously blessed.

We write this letter from our warm and cozy living room. The tree is up, the stockings are hung, and a fire burns across the way. This is our first Christmas is our new house, and we are delighted to host our families for the first time this year.

We moved here (2803 Pyramid Circle) in April after selling our last home and renting for a short time. The first projects were painting, putting in new carpet and getting the girls’ swing set up in the backyard. There’s always more to be done, but we love our new home and are so grateful for Granny’s help in getting here.

Many of you have been in prayer for our family since the loss of Naomi’s mother, Cyndi. We want you all to know how appreciative we are of all the love and support we’ve received in the past few months. We miss her dearly, but her love lives on. Our girls often hear and tell stories of Grandma and the great woman she was. Richard, Naomi’s Dad, has moved to Denison, and is doing very well. It’s a blessing to have Grandpa so close and we are enjoying spending such quality time with him.

Our girls are doing so well. They keep us on our toes and always laughing. Abby, who will be two in February, is talking a lot. She blows kisses to everyone she sees, and absolutely adores her big sister. Avery (turning four in March) is becoming such a big girl. She’s a big helper for her Mommy and is her Daddy’s best buddy. She started Preschool this fall and is loving it. She comes home singing new songs, showing us what she made and telling us stories about her new friends. The girls’ favorite activities include story time at the library, playing with their friends at Mom’s Bible Study, reading books (especially Avery’s ‘Twenty Greatest Quarterbacks’ book), and dance parties with Daddy’s iPod. Our girls bring us so much joy. I can’t think of a sweeter sight than watching Abby hug and kiss her big sister ‘night night’.

Things are really good in Naomi’s world. She loves being a stay at home Mom, and we’re so thankful she’s able to continue doing that. She still scrapbooks when she has time, but she’s found a new hobby: blogging. Check it out at www.encalade.blogspot.com. Her young ladies’ Bible Study is a highlight each week. She is most thankful for her time with the girls but also quite appreciative of occasional breaks giving her a moment to herself or a chance to visit friends.

Wes is continually challenged and rewarded through his ministry at Park Avenue. The teens continually amaze and inspire him and he is especially grateful for the team of ministers he works with daily. In his free time he’s playing in an adult soccer league, reworking his golf swing, and doing his best to dominate his fantasy sports leagues. He’s still got a ways to go, but has become more ‘handy’ over the past few years. No longer does he call-in help for changing the AC filter or hanging pictures J. He actually has big plans for a deck in the backyard this spring… Naomi is skeptical.

That about wraps up our 2006. We hope you have enjoyed catching up with us. God has been so good to our family. We love Denison, Texas. We love the Park Avenue Church of Christ. We’re thankful for the home we’ve made here, the good health we have experienced, and the love we are shown daily. We look forward to 2007 and the ways God will work in and through our family.

Lots of love and warmest Christmas greetings,
Wes, Naomi, Avery and Abby