Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wrap Up of 2011, a little Late :)

Hi Everyone,
Since I had a such a difficult time getting caught up with my blog, I decided to just put our 2011 Christmas letter on here to update you about our year of change/transition. . . .This just about sums up our year!

Dear Friends and Family,

 Happy New Year from our family to yours!  We pray that 2012 will be an exciting year for all of us.  2011 was definitely  a year of transition and change for the Huckabee family
 In April, Austin (our oldest) and his wife Brittany finished their 5 years with the Army and in May, left for  Kenya to serve as missionaries with Mattaw Children's Village.  Austin and Brittany sold most of their belongings  and stayed with us until they left in mid-May.  Just a few days before their departure, Brittany and Austin found out they were expecting our first grandchild, due in December!

Georgia (our daughter) and her husband, Jordan prepared for transition also, as Jordan began his deployment to Iraq in May and Georgia moved in with us.  She was able to find a nursing job at Community Hospital and we all mentally settled in for his year-long deployment.

In August, after much prayer and waiting on the Lord's direction,  Todd and I made the decision to move to San Marcos, Tx (which is located almost halfway between Austin and San Antonio, and about 4 hours southeast of San Angelo in the Texas Hill Country)
 Todd had spent much of 2011 traveling to this area,  developing business for the bank, and the traveling was taking a toll on all of us.  Changing locations after 30 years in the same area was a stretch, especially for me, but the Lord prepared the way for us in many different areas.  We felt led to be near Texas State University, so that we could continue our involvement with college students.  And within a few weeks  the Lord led us to a church, Riverstone Community Church which regularly meets on the campus of Texas State, and also brought several staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ into our lives. The Lord has certainly paved the way.

We truly miss our San Angelo friends, church family and our relatives, but God has done some amazing things in Todd's business relationships and our spiritual lives here, so we know without any doubt, that we are supposed to be in San Marcos.

Georgia moved with us to San Marcos, and was a huge help in getting us settled here.  Unexpectedly and thankfully, Jordan's deployment was cut short, and he returned back to the states  a few days before Thanksgiving!  Georgia continues to live with us here in San Marcos until Jordan gets out of the Army in March, so he drives here on the weekends from his base at Ft. Hood, TX, which is about a 2 hour drive.
August  (our youngest) traveled again with WorldView Academy  (worldview.org)  for the third  straight summer .  This Fall, he returned back to Texas A&M as a Junior and  helped lead Bible studies with Grace Bible Church, which he really enjoyed.  During the Christmas break, August flew to Cuba, to take in Bibles and visit pastors with a ministry called "Vision Beyond Borders". . It was truly an eye-opening trip for him and he loved being able to encourage pastors and Christians there.

Austin and Brittany arrived back in the US in October to have their baby after almost 6 months in Kenya.  They settled back near Killeen to be near their church family and friends, and now they were less than 2 hours away from us.  After being 15 days late, Seguin Obadiah Huckabee, our first grandchild, arrived on Jan 4th, weighing in at 8 lbs. 13 oz.  We had forgotten what life with a newborn is like, and we have so enjoyed him (and his parents :)   . .Austin and Brittany are looking to settle in either the Austin or Houston area in the coming year.

 So that's the update on our family. . . We pray that 2012 will be a wonderful year for you, and we would love to stay in touch! Blessings to you! 

Todd, Bonnie, & August Huckabee

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Winter in Colorado 2011

Crested Butte after a fresh snowfall. . .
One of the highlights of this past winter were a couple of trips to Gunnison/Crested Butte in January-February. Todd learned to "backcountry" ski this year, which included wearing an avalanche beacon, and having a poking stick and ice axe with you at all times in case someone needed to be dug out .. yikes! . .a little too adventurous for me, but he really enjoyed skiing in the really high country off the beaten path, in deep, deep powder. . with our friend Chris, who has taken Todd on as his "project". . .Chris knows the mountains like the back of his hand, so I don't worry when they are together. . Chris is very athletic, and a good teacher. . and a wonderful Christian friend for Todd, so I am thankful that God has let their lives intertwine. . .

For me, these trips meant days of cross country skiing at Crested Butte, and sometimes in Gunnison. . .I really love to cross country ski. . .it's like gliding on the snow, and it's a form of exercise that is really good for you. . .I am always inspired when I meet folks on the trails that are in their 70s and 80s and still going strong. . I really want to grow up and be active just like that. . .One weekend while we were in the Gunnison Valley, it snowed 36 inches in 2 days. . the scenery was so beautiful that words can't really describe it. . A fresh covering of snow that literally sparkles in the sunlight can't really be captured on film. . you have to see it for yourself.  :)  . . We are really thankful for these short trips to the mountains to mentally rest, see some different scenery, and to connect with our friends there. .

Todd at "Neversink" Trail

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011- January - Fun House Guests!

We started this year by keeping the three Salas children (Alexis, Dominic & Francisco) for two weeks in January while their little brother had heart surgery in San Antonio. . .We became became acquainted with this family through House of Faith ministries. We enjoyed having 3 elementary school-aged children in the house again, but we quickly remembered how much work this phase of life is. . .getting everyone up for breakfast and off to school, home work each night, and constant instruction and discipline, plus lots of laundry and housekeeping chores. . .I told Todd that I don't ever want to forget how busy this stage of life is. . .so that we can identify and empathize with the young families that God puts in our path. . .It's busy but it's so worth it. . .investing in the next generation. . .so to all you young families out there. . .Hang in there. . .you are caring for the next generation of Jesus followers. . . and creating a legacy for generations to come!

Todd caught an armadillo for the children to play with. . .Nothing like West Texas fun!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Finishing up 2010. . .

Well, now that it is March 2011, and I have still not finished up the 2010 review, it's time to close out last year and jump into the new year, for sure!

I will simply say that the Fall of 2010 was filled with House of Faith activities about 3 times per week, and the weekends were spent traveling to Killeen, where Austin, Brittany, Georgia and Jordan ALL lived within 5 minutes of each other. . .Austin and Jordan were both in the same brigade at Ft. Hood, which is really unusual. . .AND of all the places in the USA that our Army family members could be stationed, we were sooooo thankful that both couples were together in Killeen, only 3 hours away from San Angelo.  We knew that this year would be the only time they would all be living in the same town, so we took advantage of it. .  .heading down  there every chance we could get and stopping through to sharing a meal on business trips! Ft. Hood is one of the largest Army bases in the country, and has a really different feel to the city. . As you drive around the town, you see license plates from all over the US, and an overwhelming majority of short haircuts on the guys. . . It truly is a military town. . it's a little sad, in that the town really does not have a distinct Texas charm of its own. . It's a conglomerate of every fast food and chain restaurant in the nation, as well as many businesses catering to the military lifestyle. . .and the motels are always full of military people coming and going from trainings on the base. . .it is a mission field all it's own. . and you can even feel the loneliness of some of the folks there, far away from their families and just ready to move on to the next place. . .When you think of it, pray for the city of Killeen, and for those who minister to the military families who are passing through.  .
We enjoyed an Aggie football game this fall, taking Chelsey Kelly and Marci Menchaca with us.  The Aggies enjoyed a 8-3 season so it was a good year to be an TAMU Aggie fan!

The Fall always brings Deer Hunting Season, which consumes a big chunk of time taking our family,  friends,  and business associates on hunting adventures on the deer lease about 12 miles from our house! Fall is our favorite time of year, and especially this past fall, as we had a record-breaking heat wave in August and September with 30+ days of 100 degree heat. . We were so ready for a break! No, we don't get the beautiful color changes in nature like other parts of the world, but we DO get a most welcomed break from the heat!  October is always the best!

Because everyone's schedule is so full, we combined Thanksgiving with Christmas this year. . by having a big Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends on Thursday, and a Christmas dinner with our family and grandparents on both sides on the next day. . .It means we all have to do our Christmas gift shopping early and decorate the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving Day, but it really frees everyone's schedule up to go to the other side of the family's Christmas gatherings without juggling time off, traveling arrangements and special Christmas events. . .so the 2010 Christmas season was very relaxing for us, as we had had our family time together, and we could simply enjoy the Christmas season without the stress. . .Georgia and Jordan had a wonderful trip to CA to spend time with Jordan's family, Austin and Brittany spent time with her family in New Waverly and August headed to Denver to help with a WorldView Academy conference with all his buddies.  Who knows what the Christmas season will look like next year, with our family being scattered to the four winds. . . but we have learned to take each year at a time and not to be regimented in our holiday planning. . .Todd and I really want to be flexible for our children as we grow older. . .fitting into their schedules instead being bound up by a certain pattern of expectations during the Holiday season. .I always feel so badly for young families who are completely worn out from traveling during the holiday season.  It's easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas when you are stressed out by family obligations. . .

Without a doubt, 2010 was one of the most monumental years for us. . .but it was a good year with many many blessings to recount!  We are most thankful for God's guidance and protection as we participated in our busy schedules. . .and made big changes in our lives. .  Romans 12:12 became my life verse . ."Be joyful in hope, patient in afflictions, and faithful in prayer.". .

We have lots of changes on the horizon for 2011. . Austin and Brittany leave in May for a year in Kenya at Mattaw Children's Village as staff missionaries, Jordan leaves in May also for a year in Iraq and Georgia will move home to live with us in San Angelo while he is gone, and August will spend the summer traveling again with WorldView Academy Ministries. . . Hang on to your hat . . .HERE WE GO!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 in review- Part II - May-August

2010 review continues. . .
Lindsay Wright's wedding was a big event in early May, as Lindsay had lived with us for 9 months and had become like part of our family. It was definitely wedding season at our house, as we prepared for Georgia and Lindsay's wedding in the same year. . Lots of wedding magazines laying around. . .We loved getting to help her with her wedding plans and we are thankful that God let us be a part of her and Brandon's life as they prepared to unite as a couple. . .both of them had been a part of our college Bible study group for a couple of years and we were especially close to them. .almost like second parents. . .I offered to be her florist for the event, which has always been a secret ambition of mine, and I learned alot . . especially that nothing is as easy as it seems, even when it comes to preparing and arranging flowers! Lindsay was beautiful on her wedding day and we loved celebrating this event before the Lord, their friends and family. It will be such fun watching to see what the Lord does with their lives.

May 15th was Georgia's college graduation and pinning as a RN. . .a huge accomplishment!  I wish I could say that the weeks before her graduation were easy sailing, but as I said in an earlier post, we all prayed and sweated with each exam she took, even up to finals week.  . . and after visiting with some of the other nursing students' family at graduation, Georgia was not the only one walking the graduation tightrope. It's just a very difficult program, so there was much to celebrate once the grades were in. The pinning ceremony was beautiful as all the graduates were in their white lab coats.  And graduation was great fun, as we knew many of the students graduating from the college Bible study that met at our home for 3 years and many of Georgia's friends.

Georgia immediately started studying for her state nursing board exams, which included attending a review course in Austin to help her prepare. . . On about the end of the 2nd week of June, I rode with her to Abilene as she took her state board exam. . . Well, it was a long, very stress test- about 4 hours, and when she came to the car, the look on her face was tense. . .she really felt like she had failed it. . .so we rode home in a somber mood and talked about options if she had failed it. . . .For a little extra money, she could find out in a couple of days if she had passed the test instead of waiting two weeks by regular mail.. . .so she paid the extra money and looked up the results on the computer. . I'll never forget it. . she said in a solemn voice. ."Mom, it says I passed.". . Really unsure whether to believe it or not, she did not get excited or celebrate. . .until a couple of days later, when she double checked with other past nursing students to see if the computer results were really accurate. . .THEN the celebrating started!! Not only celebrating, but a HUGE relief from the pressure that had been on Georgia all semester. . .really all through nursing school!  NOW she could relax and soon it was time for Georgia and Robyn to drive to California for the long awaited wedding week!

June 23rd- Six of us flew to Corona, CA on Wednesday before the wedding--Todd, myself, August, Sara Warren, Adam Skelton and Jordan. . .Austin and Brittany joined us later that evening, and the grandparents arrived to Corona a bit later. . .We enjoyed Wednesday night dinner with the Monroe Family, Thursday was Bachelor and Bachelorette Party day--with the guys going Paint Balling and the girls for a nice Dinner and time on the beach, Friday was "Zip Line" day with the Texas folks and Friday night was a very fun Rehearsal Dinner with different members of the family and wedding party providing the "entertainment."  Wedding Day , June 26th, was perfect, with 80 degrees, a cool breeze and lots on sunshine on Saturday afternoon. . .Lots of great memories that day. . . for all of us.

We flew home from CA on Sunday following the wedding and were home a week, then headed to CO for the July 4th holiday. . .Georgia and Jordan joined us for the last half of their honeymoon, which included the July 4th festivities and hiking, biking at Paradise Divide, north of Crested Butte and a quick trip to Lake City. We really enjoyed spending the holiday with the newlyweds! :)

We returned back to CO to host 6 of August's friends from his Teenpact internship for a week in the mountains. . .these students were from all over the US, and several had never been in the mountains before . . .we were "tour guides" all week. . mainly hiking, kayaking, and a little rock climbing in the Hartman Rocks area.  We are still thanking Jesus for protecting August when a rock gave away and he fell about 30 ft. off a cliff and tumbled like he was cartwheeling down the mountain. . I have never felt so helpless to be standing a good 300 yards away when I saw him fall. . .and Todd was completely scratched up from scurrying over sharp rocks to try to get to him. . .We really thought he was dead. . .He was pale, pretty shaken up and had skinned up his hands badly. . but otherwise he had no broken bones. . .it was a miracle. . .We spent 5 hours in the ER waiting for a doc to look at his hands because they looked pretty bad, and I think the whole experience was a lesson to the whole group that all college students are not invincible.

August returned back to A&M at the end of the month, and for the first time in 4 years. . .our house was empty.  .all the children were gone and the girls who had lived in the extra bedrooms had moved out. . . I think it was a good break for us. . .because communal living always has drawbacks. . but for the most part, it had been a blessing for all of us. . .but the house didn't stay empty for long. .

to be continued. . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in review- Part I . .January- April

It has been a crazy event-filled year. . . .I thought the high school years with the children were busy. . .and they were. .but the past 12-18 months have been so filled with significant events in our family, that I wanted to recap them so I will remember the time line when I am in the nursing home. . .you know how we get our years mixed up and we argue about who is right and when things happened?  Well, I'm going to chronologically go through the year, so that when the arguments occur years from now.. .I will be right!  :)
Brittany moves back to Killeen after spending 8 months living with us while Austin was deployed in Iraq.  We had 4 college-age girls living with us during most of 2009, so our house seemed like a college dorm. . .It was communal living at it's finest. .someone was always coming and going, but for the most part. . .it was great fun. . .We all learned to be flexible and considerate of each other and to operate out of our comfort zones. . . you have to do that to get along . .Georgia, Brittany, Lindsay and Myranda used all the extra bedrooms and poor August was a little homeless when he would come home from college and from traveling. . .but that wasn't often and we all managed.

August leaves for a semester of travel with Teen Pact as a student intern. August had been offered a internship with this ministry (http://www.teenpact.org/ ) but had already paid an apartment lease and a meal plan for the Spring '10 semester at Texas A&M. . .He tried all fall semester to sub-lease his apartment with no success, so he thought he would have to decline the internship. . However, on Dec 1st, some of his friends from Teen Pact offered to raise the money for him to replace the funds in his college savings that had already been spent on housing and meals.  If they could raise $3,000 to cover what had already been spent, then we told him he could take the internship. . .His friends did all this fundraising strictly through email and Facebook.  . It looked like it was not going to happen, but on Christmas Day 2009, he got a phone call that all the funds had been raised. . .so God definitely opened the door for this opportunity and when January 2010 began, he was off to travel through 10-15 different states to lead Teen Pact conferences till May. . . .Only God could orchestrate that series of events. . .

I took a 2-week trip to Ghana with Cindi Dauphin to visit Joel and Hollie Dickens, medical missionaries and long-time friends. . .Joel had asked Cindi to stay with Hollie while he attended a medical conference in Kenya, and Cindi asked me to join her since I had traveled there with Brittany and Georgia in 2009. . .There is nothing like traveling to the other side of the world to a 3rd-world country with only one other person. . it really cements the friendship!  We definitely shared an adventure of a lifetime, spending time with Joel and Hollie and the children, visiting with the other missionary doctors who were filling in for Joel, seeing the clinic, the Ghanaian culture, and the incredible need of the people. . while also doing a lot of spiritual evaluation on ourselves. . .lots of memories. . .

My dad, Bill Helwig (age 80)  passes away on March 3th, 2010.  Dad had fallen while trying to pen some cattle in Nov. 2009, broke his hip and spend 40 days in the hospital. He lost over 40 lbs and his health did take a definite turn for the worse. .He was strong enough, however, to come home for Christmas and Mom did her best to care for him at home as he struggled to recover. . . His circulation in his legs was very bad and he had congestive heart failure, and when he woke on March 2th with a huge blood clog on his foot, Mom immediately took him to the hospital for treatment. . .The doctors seemed to think it could be dissolved with drugs easily, but early on March 5th, his health started failing fast, his organs began to shut down and he went into cardiac arrest. . .he was revived, but Mom made the decision not to do any other lifesaving measures with him, which was his wish. . .and he slipped into a coma and died that evening. With the serious heart condition that my dad had since he was 52, he lived alot longer than anyone ever expected. But life does change when you lose a parent. . . . The rest of the month is pretty much a blur. . . cleaning out and giving away Dad's things, making repairs on the house and helping Mom get adjusted to being alone.

Austin returns home from Iraq about April 10th after a year-long deployment. It was a much-anticipated return and one of my very favorite memories from 2010. . .It was joyous and patriotic and you could feel the sense of relief from everyone- the families and the soldiers. . .My heart went out to the soldiers who had no one there to greet them when they returned, as their families were too far away and it was too expensive to make the trip to Ft. Hood. . .I learned that if  I ever attend one of these homecomings again, I will be giving away lots of the hugs and trinkets to the guys standing alone. I think everyone, especially government officials need to attend at least one send-off and a return of a brigade of troops from these long deployments to see for themselves the emotional and physical sacrifices of these troops and family members. . There is a cost. . .freedom does not come for free.

On April 15th, Georgia and I traveled to California to make final wedding plans and attend a bridal shower given by Jordan's family. . .We also spent an evening with Aunt Kay and Mal Bruce, my mom's youngest sister who coincidentally lives 25 or so miles from Jordan's family. Thanks to Jordan's mom, Cyndi Monroe, the wedding plans were finalized with wonderful friends who helped out and great vendors. . .and it could not have gone more smoothly. The bridal shower was my first chance to meet Jordan's extended family and friends and also see the location where the wedding was going to be held.  It was an afternoon of great fun and wonderful memories.  The Monroe family showed us off-the-charts hospitality and I loved getting to know them all.

The last weekend of April found us at HEB camp in Leakey, TX for House of Faith Family Camp. . .The location was outstanding, and it was total fun to watch over 300+ folks- parents, grandparents and children enjoying the Texas Hill Country and the Frio River- - canoeing, hiking, fishing, swimming and doing crafts. . .and the Video and Bible teaching , skits and worship were great! Todd and Scott Cotton helped at the canoeing station and were pros at it. . .It was a great chance for us to get to know the House of Faith staff and meet more of the families.  We loved it!  Can't wait till next year. . .

to be continued. . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 recap - House of Faith- "GO and make disciples. . ."

Todd helping with crafts during House of Faith Family Camp this past spring.
 I guess the biggest spiritual philosophy change that Todd and I have had during the past 12-18 months has to do with Matthew 28:19, where Jesus issues that command "GO and make disciples. . .", which is a change for us. . .For all the years prior, we felt called to minister to folks that God brought through our church, PaulAnn Baptist, where we have been members for 22 years. . .I remember specifically praying for God to bring people to our church property so that we could minister to them. . We had been active in almost every facet of that church's ministries. . .youth, children's ministry, college, Bible studies, small groups, . . .you name it. . .and this has been a good thing. . absolutely no regrets. . .we are thankful for our church family. . .

But after our last child left for college and our day-to-day parenting was over. . .we began to pray that God would show us what was next for us. . .and we could sense a change or restlessness in our spirits. . .Our friends could tell we were restless. . . Now, we believe he has showed us through His Word, and through Bible teachers such as David Platt, Francis Chan and others to journey down a different path. . . .

 In the next phase of our lives. . .we believe we are to  "GO". . .go to the streets, go to the unchurched, get out of our comfortable surroundings, . . go and help the poor, the needy, the widowed and the orphans. . .and we began to do that through a local ministry already in place here in San Angelo called "House of Faith". . HOF ministers to approximately 950 at-risk children by taking Backyard Bible Clubs to neighborhoods and elementary school campuses, as well as 200+ high school and middle students. . .( http://www.hofministries.org/ )We had taught weekly at a Backyard Bible Club that was actually held on the PaulAnn property for 3 years.  .we would show up each week, teach a lesson, take kids home. . .responsibilities done. . . no regrets. . . glad we did that. .

This year has been different. . . sensing that God wanted more from us and desired for us to dive in with House of Faith, we approached the staff at HOF and asked to be put to work . . . .and that has happened.  We assist with the Goliad Elementary club on Wednesdays, which is the largest club in the ministry, averaging around 130+ students per week. . .and we lead the Fannin/Blackshear club on Thursdays, which averages around 60 students. . .The Fannin/Blackshear students are now like our family. . .we get to be surrogate parents, teachers, mentors and friends to children who absolutely love having another adult in their life who cares about them. . . and we are getting to know their families and become involved in their lives, praying that all we say and do points them toward  Jesus. . . We see these new friends more often than our own family. . .We now do something involving HOF families almost every day.

It has been a convicting year. . .this fall, I have been on many streets in San Angelo that I have never been on before. . .and I have lived here all my life. . . it's like a scene out of the movie "Blind Side" and I am ashamed of that. . .and I have asked God to take away my fear and hesitation and to get me out of my comfort zone. . .He has done that. . .and I have learned that love, a smile, sincerity, and respect goes a long way in building trust with new families. . .and God is also shaping and molding us more into his image each day on this journey. . .

It has not been easy. . .I would be lying if I told that it has been all fun, cheerful and uplifting. . .No, it's very tiring and the Enemy will battle you for every relationship you make with a lost person- adult or child. . so there are days of tears, frustration, and physical and mental exhaustion. . . . but really. . .what are we entitled to? The Bible says Death. (Romans 3:23). .so anything else we get to experience through knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior is a gift. . .even the hard stuff. . .

God may want you to "GO" and minister in a different context this year. . .in your own city and neighborhood  . . .or on the other side of the world to a people group who have never heard of Jesus as Savior. We are thankfully not all called to do the same thing. . .but we ARE called to do something!
This is where we are in 2010. . .doing ministry in a different way than we have ever done it before. . .and loving it. . . can't wait to see what God is going to do in 2011. . .

Some of our House of Faith students after a hike in the state park and making feather headbands. .
Fransico and Dominic ready to go hunting. . .