Feliz Navidad 2016

Our family would like to wish you the very merriest of Christmas. God has blessed us more than we deserved. It has been an interesting year for the Dear family.  We have traveled across the South a couple of times to see family and to have a little vacation time.  We entered our 12th year of homeschooling this school year. The older girls split their time between homeschool classes, classes at the local high school, and college classes for Hannah.  I am thankful that Hannah can drive herself to her classes.

Here are a few highlights from our family this year:

Noel is in his 11th year as senior pastor of FBC Heath. God is blessing our church and looking forward to the new year. He is also half way through having is doctorate degree from Southern Seminary.  I am very proud of how far he has come in his education, and we can’t wait to see him walk across that stage one day.

Hannah is a senior in high school this year.  She was co-captain of Granville High School girls tennis team and also earned her varsity letter playing first doubles. She is still excelling academically having been inducted to Cum Laude Society at GHS as well.  She is busy with her all of her classes and as well as working on all her college applications. She is excited to be accepted into one of her college choices – University of South Carolina. Hannah is still active in her musical pursuits of piano, flute(where she made district honors band), piccolo, marimba ensemble, jazz band, homeschool band, and steel drums.  Another activity Hannah is pursuing is journalism. She is the new editor of the school paper, and has had several articles published on their website as well as in print form.  One big this she has coming up is the Ohio Distinguished Young Woman scholarship competition in February.  She is representing Licking County and is very excited for this opportunity. It is just hard to believe we will be planning her graduation party soon.

Emily is a sophomore.  She just recently got her driving permit and will beginning to drive – watch out! She is keeping us busy with all of her bands.  She still loves playing her trumpet and is becoming quite accomplished with it.  She is currently playing in two bands – Granville High School Symphonic band (3rd chair) and homeschool band(1st chair). As if these two were not enough, she is in the jazz band for both Granville and the homeschool jazz band. Like Hannah she is in the steel drum band as well too.  As a result of her love for music she has been accepted into two honor bands this year – Ohio University and Cedarville University.  Currently she is working diligently on her trumpet solo she is taking to solo & ensemble this January.   In addition to all the music, she is also on the GHS girls tennis team this year as well.  She got a lot of playing time this year in singles and doubles and earned her varsity letter as well.  She would also like it to be noted that she did challenge up to and make 2nd chair in band, but because of a minor technicality she is still at 3rd. She is happy at 3rd though. One other exciting thing Emily was part of this year was spending 6 weeks of her summer with the IMB’s Endeavor program serving in Southern Mexico.  She really loved her time there serving God and ministering to the local people. She is hoping to go back this next year.

Rae is still making great strides in her reading and math.  She still works with a reading specialist and math tutor. She may complain about having to go, but she looks forward to Fridays with her friends there. She has really developed a love for science and looks forward to her little science co-op.  She is also enjoying her art co-op with Ms. Lynd and Ms. Krumm.  She is quite the artist and loves to draw manga characters.  This school year she was able to start beginner band.  Rae is learning the clarinet and is doing really well.  She has had a challenging year medically with the increase of her seizures.  This month she had epilepsy surgery to help reduce or eliminate her seizures. Everything went well, and we are happy to be home recovering.  We are thankful for how well everything went and praise God for it.  It will be at least 6 months before we will begin knowing how effective the surgery was.  That had to be the scariest day with any of our children. She went back around 7:30 am and we saw her at 6:00pm.

I have had quite a busy year between homeschooling, photography, and doing the farmer’s market.  HER Baking Co or also know as “cinnamon roll lady” had another great season at our local farmer’s market with many repeat and new customers.  I was blessed to have several weeks where I sold out.  I am teaching art again to our teens in our homeschool group. It has been a great year with a smaller group where we have been able to focus on making art as well as art and music appreciation.  Like my girls, I am still involved in our homeschool band playing the clarinet as well as our adult steel drum band, Pandamonium.  We are all looking forward to going to Virginia Beach in May to an international competition. I am still accompanying different people and choirs as well as still playing on the praise band at church.

This year we have learned to trust God more, and that He is bigger than anything we can ever imagine.  We praise Him for all things great and small.  He is truly a Good, Good Father.  We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and that you experience the joy of this season and seek Christ more in the coming new year.  

Rae Update

Here on World Adoption Day I thought I could give you a little update on the little.  This summer we spent a week in the hospital to see if Rae would be a candidate for epilepsy surgery. This was scary because, how do you decided to allow your child to have brain surgery. In addition, to the stay in the hospital, there were many scans and testing.  As the doctor called it – “million dollar testing”.  After all the testing was done, we had to wait for results.

All of Rae’s info for testing was presented before a room of doctors to see if she could have the surgery. There were so many questions. Would we? Would we not? How do you make that decision if it was left to us?

We chose to seek the one who could best help us make the decision – GOD! We put our faith in Him. My prayer was that the decision would be black or white – yes or no – simple.  God has gotten us through all the ups and downs of all of Rae’s needs – why would He not be here for this decision.

It was time to meet with the doctors to see what their recommendations where. God came thru – after meeting with her doctor the decision –  as hard as it was – it was basically made for us. We said yes to the surgery.  Are we happy our daughter has to have surgery, no, but it is the best for her.  Is she happy, no, but she knows it will either eliminate or greatly reduce her seizures.  The surgery is to help save her brain function and to improve her memory.  As she has gotten older, her seizures have increased in amount and frequency.  As we discovered, each seizure was actually doing damage to her already damaged brain.

The surgery will be done at Nationwide Children’s Hospital next month.  We are nervous, but we have so placed our faith in Christ. Whatever happen, He is sovereign and will get us through it all. Our prayer is that God will be glorified through this.

What are you listening to?

Hubby and I are training to run this fall. I am run/walking in the Air Force 10K and hubby is doing the Air Force half-marathon in Dayton.  I have run this race before, and I am excited to do it again.  So with that said, while training I need something to listen to. I know I am weird, but I can’t listen to music while walking/running. I listen to podcasts.  I did that when I trained last time, and usually do when I walk.

I thought I would like to share what I am listening to –

  1. The BigBoo Cast – they have been broadcasting for many years and it’s just two women taking about life. So funny!
  2. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – yes, it’s NPR and liberal, but it is funny.
  3. Serial – This was what everyone was listening to last year, so I jumped on the bandwagon. The first season was very intriguing, but the second season not so much.
  4. Deep South Details – This is all southern – all the time.  Love listening to Dana and Kendell and learning about the current southern culture since I live in the north. Bonus they are also Auburn fans.
  5. Front Porch with the Fitzes – So much to say about this – I can’t wait every week for it to come out. So funny with a little bit of Jesus.
  6. Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey – Jamie is a minister’s wife from Texas. She has wonderful conversations with girlfriends. It is fun and encouraging.

Check these out if you are interested in finding new podcasts. What are you listening to?

 

Oaxaca Update

This is an update we received from the field.
Hello friends and family,
I know it’s been a while since you last heard from me but it has been amazing seeing God’s work through my team. Here’s a big update to catch y’all up on my last couple weeks on the field.
June 10-18th was training week in New York and I got meet my teammates – L, E, A, B, M. Our team has been blessed with a team with strengths and weaknesses that together are united in the Gospel, and the Father will be glorified through this endeavor. We spent our mornings learning practical tools for the Gospel and then we were sent off into the city to practice and learn the culture they would be emerged into this summer!
The week in New York was spent training and equipping us with practical tools for the Gospel. It was awesome to see God’s work for the nations still being accomplished in the states!
July 18-27
The first week in Oaxaca was getting settled in our village and getting to know the people. We are currently living with a Catholic family and hoping to be the light for them.
This past week we had the opportunity to partner with a church who had a basketball camp and VBS while we have the opportunity to teach ESL in the afternoon.
We have made several relationships through the English classes and late night basketball games with some of the young women in the village. It is so amazing that we have been accepted into the village and lifestyle!
Life in the village is hard, and living in such a close corders can be very taxing on the teams unity and personal health. Please pray that our bodies will be healthy and that the team’s morale and unity withhold through the spiritual battle that we are in.
July 27-4th
This week we had the opportunity to meet up with some long term folks for encouragement and rest, it’s been a fun week filled with once in a life time adventures.
We will leave and head into the city for preparation for the rest of the summer. Please pray for safety as we travel.
Thank you for your support and prayers!
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Storytelling

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Mexican Hot Chocolate

Merry Christmas

familypicChristmasOur Dear family would like to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

It has been a year filled with ups and down in the Dear family, but one thing we do know is that we have been blessed far more than we deserve.  As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I am humbled that our Father in Heaven would do this for me. Why would He choose this way to save His people? He sent His Son to be born in a lowly stable far away from the crowds without any fanfare. A Son that was born to die for me.  It is something that is hard to wrap my brain around. For this,  I am SO thankful.  He loves me more than I can ever love Him back. He deserves more praise and glory than I could ever give Him.

May you experience the wonder of Christ’s love for you. O Come Let Us Adore Him! Our Redeemer has Come!

The Fringe Hours

This summer I picked up a book called The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  I had heard about it thru social media and decided to pick it up to add to my summer reading list.  Little did I know how much God had to show me in this book.  I have been telling my friends about it since I had started reading it, and since I have finished it.  I would pass the book around, but I have taken so many notes – you need your own copy.

The main focus of this book is about making time for yourself.  It has been a theme God has been showing me thru multiple things He has put in my path.  I am important. If I don’t see that, then I am no good to anyone.  Some of this started with my journey I started this past February (more on that later). I pray He keeps me on it.

We need to find balance. Jessica Turner in the book say, “Balance isn’t easy, but fighting for it is alway worth it.” We get caught up in being busy, and we are proud of it.  I feel it has become an idol for so many people. When we get together with other people, we try to out do one another by how busy we are than others. Why? Is this something really to be proud of? I have been guilty of this.  No more. Let go of it! God did not call us to be busy.

This book helps you work thru different steps where you can take back control of balance.  It will help you find that time for you and let go of what is not important. Give yourself permission to do it. We don’t have to do it all, and we can’t do it all.  Why would we? We need to take care of ourselves, mentally, physically, and spiritually. All three of these work together hand in hand. When you have that time to do something for yourself whether it is getting a massage, going for a run, learning a new hobby or revisiting an old one, or just meeting with a friend for coffee you can be better prepared for the rest of what God has you to do. You are important.  I do love in the book how she stresses the importance of your quiet time alone with the Lord. All of the other cannot work unless you have that time with our Creator and seek what He wants for you.

You may wonder why she calls it the “fringe hours” Fringe is what we use to make things more beautiful. It that extra something special.  We do have those extra times that we can find to make our lives more beautiful.  I didn’t think I had, but you know what – I DO! We all do, and you need do seek it out and treasure it.  You cannot most likely do it alone.  Enlist the help of family and friends so you can.  You can do more in community than not.

While in the fringe hours you can get many things accomplished for you, but sometimes you need that time to rest. God wants us to rest.  Jesus took time to rest. God commands it.

The parts she works thru in the book are:

  1. Explore – what do you want to do for yourself? where to find balance? getting rid of the guilt.
  2. Discover – changing your perspective. how to care for yourself and how to find the time.
  3. Maximize – steps how to get there. how to ask for help. how to overcome the obstacles(my favorite part of the book) – YOU ARE WORTH IT!
  4. Living Well – when you can get there – how sweet it is. it is ok to rest.

Everyones fringe is going to look different. There are times when it is hard. Just keep going.  Give yourself permissions to enjoy the fringe.

Here is one thing in the book I love –

Once you have discovered the importance of taking fringe hours to take care of yourself and steward your passions you must also make room for rest. The practice of Sabbath might not be easy at first, but through quiet moments, simple enjoyment creation, and prayer you will discover abundance peace.  That peace will center and invigorate you to live a more balance life.” 

This is so true, and I am starting to realize this in my own life. God has repeatedly shown me this in the past couple of months. For instance, I needed to get some writing done while the little one was at her reading class and Emily was at band.  I usually take this “fringe” time to get blog work or pictures done.  One day this past week I decided to take time away from the computer. It was a beautiful day, so after I dropped them off at their locations I found a nice park bench in town and sat and read.  I gave myself permission to enjoy my book.  I enjoyed it so much, that I did it the next day, and actually finished this book.  Doing this gave me new life for that day, a sense of accomplishment, and some rest. It allowed me time to finish this book, so I could share my thoughts with you.

I have read many books in the past, but this books has had such and impact on my life and hopefully will echo into to my friends and family’s lives.  I just had to write and share about it.  Every woman needs to read this book.

In the end she shares this –

“The real point of making time for you isn’t about what you do during that time as much as it is about how it makes you feel and the ripple effect that has on the rest of your life. Truly is is about living well… everything comes back to three core questions:

  • do you choose joy

  • will you celebrate your victories?

  • are you thankful?

Please pick up this book and take the time to read it.  There is so much freedom in these pages. I leave with this verse –

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness: his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

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Do You take Time for Yourself?

I have been reading a couple of books since we got back from sabbatical dealing with doing what is important to you.  Making smart choices. Many of us are too busy taking care of everyone else we don’t take care of ourselves – mentally, physically, and/or spiritually. When we take care of ourselves we can better take care of others.  We need to decide what we love, and what can go away.  Don’t waste your time on something that doesn’t make you happy or bring fulfillment to you in some way. Or something that you can do to bring glory to God.

Today was one of those days that I chose to make a little time for myself.  Three days a week the little one has her reading teacher while Emily is at high school band.  Many days I take my laptop and get some type of work or writing done. Today, I decided differently.  It was a beautiful day, so I took my book, found a park bench, and enjoyed being outside.  It was nice to take that time out and enjoy reading and being away from my electronic distractions.  It may have been for only a short time, but it was wonderful. I was sad that my brief time had to end.

What an you do to take some time for yourself?

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Bible App

I am a big fan of the Bible app from You Version on my phone and iPad. I use it for taking sermon notes, my quiet times, and general Bible reading. I have also used some of their reading plans. It is great to always has the Word of God with me wherever I am.

One of the best features the app added is creating pics from scripture verses. I love being able make them from various verses I read in the Bible or during my quiet times.  I use verses that really speak to me, and I am able to share them on social media.

Here are a few of my favorites. You can see more on my Instagram feed.

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The love of the Father is always with us.

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First Day of Homeschool 2015-16

Wednesday was the first day of Dear’s Homeschool for Girls.  We were going to start the day before, but an expected medical issue came up and we had to delay the start.  One of the perks of homeschooling is that you don’t have to worry about what you are going to wear or rushing out the door or buying all the school supplies.  It is almost like any normal day – get up breakfast but instead of goofing around – we started school.  It was a little slow going, but we started back into the groove.  I had been working on getting rid of clutter and cleaning up the schoolroom for us to start this week.

I had not finished everyone’s lesson plans, but we were going to start – ready or not.  Not every subject was starting, but we had a nice start. I am excited about this new year.  I will have 2 in high school and 1 in elementary.  Hannah is somewhat self-motivated and get her stuff done and we just have to double check and keep her motivated.  With Emily, we have to keep her focused on task which we have had to do since she was little. Rae just wonders why she has to do all of this and why she is not doing the same thing her sisters did when they were her age.  She is a different kind of learner, and so many things have changed since they were in 4th grade.

I asked them all the same question about the new year. What subject are they looking forward to? Favorite school activity? Least favorite?

Hannah – She is looking forward to her AP English 12 class. She loves reading and writing and this was easy for her.  Favorite activity that she currently is enjoying is tennis. She is not looking to some of her college classes where she has to drive to multiple places.

Emily – Now being in high school (YIKES!!) she is looking forward to her Spanish and Writing class. As far as activities it is drama because she moves up to the high school homeschool drama group. Her least favorite, which has been the same every year, math (Algebra 1)

Rae – She is excited about learning Astronomy and starting tennis back up. She is not looking forward to history. While taking this pic she also informed me she doesn’t like school at all.

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Keeping it real for what it is like to take pictures with these 3. Life in our school.

 

My prayer for our new year is that we do everything for His Glory. We strive to always do our best even when it is hard. I also pray we will not get caught up in the busyness of the world around us, and we focus on what is important and do what God has called us to do.

Hears to a new year – may it be the best one yet!!

 

10 Years

When you saw the title, you think – celebrating marriage or birthday? No. Ten years ago our family moved to Ohio.  It is kind of strange how I remember when we moved here, but it was the same time Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. We moved out of AL before the hurricane hit the coast.

the girls were so little when we moved here

10 years ago – the girls were so little when we moved here

Moving out of the South was a big change for us.  We had been married for 10 years and had 2 girls.  We had spent all of our lives in the South, but God chose to move us out of comfort zone.  While many may be scared of moving to a totally different area, we were not.  It was new adventure for us. The girls actually thought we were moving to Idaho or Iowa.  They had never really heard of Ohio till we came here.

We started talking with our church in the spring of that year, but we did not tell our girls because it would be hard for them to understand.  We had to be a little creative in how we told them, especially because they were getting to ride on an airplane for the first time to come to Ohio to visit with the church. They had never been part of a church move before.  In our last church move I was pregnant with Hannah.  They only knew Alabama and their friends there.

In the last 10 years we have been thru a many things – good and not so good.  Some of my favorites –

  • CFE – Finding this wonderful homeschool group has been the best thing. All of the parents and kids in the group mean a great deal to us and our girls. So many memories and experiences we have had and done.
  • Our church – They are a wonderful group of people who love us, pray for us, and miss us when we are away. It has been truly amazing to do life with the people of our church. We love you!
  • Blessings – I could write multiple posts on the blessings God has given our family, but God has really been so good to us more than we deserve.
  • Adoption – God chose to truly burden our hearts about after we moved here. It was truly one of the best blessings we have had outside giving birth to our two girls.
  • Travel – Living in almost the middle of the country, we can get to many fun locations easily.  We have been able to see some new and exciting areas we would not have been able to do if we didn’t follow God’s leadership to move here. If we didn’t drive to some of these locations, flying was often cheap and easy.

The past 10 years have been really great. We have often said that we could spend the rest of our lives here if God so chooses.  The downside of living here is that our girls have not been able to grow up around their grandparents and extended family.  That is one thing many ministers’ families have to deal with.  It comes with choosing to follow God’s leading and go where He wants you to go.

Our family has grown in so many ways over the past 10 years. We are looking forward to the next 10 or more years.