Playing at the Park ~ Photos

Barry and I decided at the last minute to take a trip to see our parents in Louisiana. To add to our excitement, Brandon, our son, Jodi and their three sons came too.

Brandon, with his hands full of love
Brandon, with his hands full of love

The fifteen hour in one day car trip was tough on them, but so glad they are young, adventuresome and love family.

Brandon is holding the twins who just turned two years old. The twins, who enjoy trading pacifiers, are now having withdrawals from being weened off of them.

We decided to go to Lovett Road Park in Central, Louisiana, so our grandchildren could stretch their legs.  Some of the best times we had with our children growing up and now with our grandchildren were/are at parks. Great free entertainment!                         Jodi took all the park pictures!

Triston and Papa bouncing on the Bee
Triston and Papa bouncing on the Bee



Park fun
Scaling the wall to kiss my Prince


You never get too old to slide, climb, swing and bounce on a bee, right Papa? Grandkids keep you young!




Scaling the wall to kiss my prince







Never a dull moment in the Brandon Hoover household! Jodi said, “The twins pushed a chair up to the counter and were eating all of the cookies I had made. Sterling knows he’s been caught. Chandler’s like, ‘Hi Mom! I’m eating cookies.'”

Caught with their hand in the cookie jar
Caught with their hand in the cookie jar


Barry and I, plus our children and seven grandchildren are planning on going to Melinda and Jeremy’s house to spend about four days together at Christmas.

We just found out that Kristen and Dwayne are now expecting baby number 5. We are so happy!!!

Thanksgiving Jar

Here is a Thanksgiving suggestion:

The Thanksgiving Jar

The Thanksgiving Jar is a family affair.  During the year, family members write answers to prayers and drop each one in the Thanksgiving Jar.

Thanksgiving is a way of life all year around leading up to Thanksgiving Day.  Moms may write for their little ones.  Little ones may draw pictures too. Each note can be color coded for each person. All year long, the jar should be filling up with “Thanks to God.”  At Thanksgiving, the notes of thanks in the Thanksgiving Jar are read aloud.  Have Kleenex available! After the final note is read, the jar is dated with the year and put away in safe storage.  Another Thanksgiving Jar begins another year to be read on the next Thanksgiving Day. We are all very blessed! This way, we can remember answered prayer and teach family members about being thankful to God the whole year through.

~When we feel blue during the year, reach into the Thanksgiving Jar before Thanksgiving Day to remember when God answered prayers.

This morning we heard our son-in-law preach a great message and then had Thanksgiving Dinner with the sweet church folks.

Have you ever read in the Bible about blessing God?  Pastor Piper preached on how we bless God by thanking God.  I certainly want to bless God.  God has done so much for me.  The least I can do is thank Him.  Have you ever thought about how you are blessing God when you tell Him “Thank You?”

Aren’t you blessed when your children show you thankfulness? We also bless God when we show thankfulness to Him, because we are God’s children. Just as parents don’t want to miss out on their children’s sweet thankfulness, God does not want to miss out on His children’s heartfelt thankfulness. A child’s grateful heart is a precious memory for his parents.  Guess what! God has precious memories of His children being thankful.  We bless God when we express to Him the gratitude and joy we have in our hearts.

Are you going through a trial this Thanksgiving?  We can bless God by thanking God for His closeness.  He never leaves us. Psalm 63:3,4 “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live…” When David wrote this Psalm, he was in the dreary wilderness.  In spite of his circumstances, David wanted to bless God by being thankful. What place are you in right now? Heavenly Father, I thank You for  ____________.  You have just blessed God!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to your family!!! From Barry and Linda

Happy Thanksgiving From:

Kristen (our daughter), Dwayne, Bryant, Austen, Brianna and Landon

Happy Thanksgiving From:

Brandon (our son), Jodi, Triston, Chandler, Sterling

Happy Thanksgiving From:

Melinda (our daughter) and her husband, Jeremy

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15

Grandparent Family Fun

October was a time of pumpkins, the fair, and Piper grandchildren. Our grandchildren enjoyed seeing the blacksmith and stayed quite a while inquisitively asking the blacksmith questions. Without our knowing, our son-in-law, Dwayne snapped this shot. Do we look like proud grandparents watching our grandchildren?

Suddenly, a Walking, Talking Tree caught our attention as it slowly walked down the road.  The Walking Tree was kind and stopped long enough for us to take a picture.  Our grandchildren didn’t know how to act. It was difficult for our grandchildren to look at the camera with such an unusual sight behind them.  Bryant decided to keep one eye on the Walking, Talking Tree and one eye on the camera. I think Austen froze stiff and Brianna just went with the flow. lol

Barry and I took a picture in front of a 500 lb. plus blue ribbon winning pumpkin with three of our four Piper grandkids.  Landon was sleeping in the stroller at this point.  As we were taking the picture, a lady with teen children gave me parental advice.  She said, “Enjoy your children at this age, because they will be teens soon enough.”  I smiled super big at the compliment the lady did not realize she had just given me (and my husband also).Landon's Birthday

November 15th, Landon, our youngest grandchild turned two. We celebrated with a family Birthday Party.

Kristen, our daughter cooked up a feast. Kristen cooked a roast, rice and gravy, the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten, sweet potato casserole, green beans, corn, and a yummy strawberry cake for the Birthday boy.  We laughed because we did not think about the cake being pink.





It was a cold and rainy day outside, but we spent a snuggly cozy time inside.  Sometimes I like rainy days.  Do you? Flames were dancing in the fireplace and candles were lit. One of my favorite things to do is to read books to our grandchildren, so Bryant had books ready for me to read, which I did.

Our grandchildren are so well mannered and love us so much.We get many hugs and kisses from them all. They are such pleasant children to be around.

I heard another lady this past week mention how she gets her grandkids to snuggle up to her.  She buys lotion at Bath and Body Works. The lotion makes her smell like a sugar cookie. lol I have no problem in the snuggly department with our grandchildren. Sweet!!!

The child said, “I think I like Santa better than God.”

One Christmas season long ago, a four year old little boy with curly blond hair and big brown eyes stood gazing at all his Christmas presents from “Santa Claus.”

Yes, this is a picture of the little boy riding with his younger sister in his brand new Coupe car he got for Christmas.

The cute little boy had been taught the Bible and about how God loved him and he deeply desired to love God better than Santa Claus.  On that Christmas morning, the boy’s parents did not understand their child’s concerns. The tired parents were thrilled they had done such a good job of playing “Santa Claus” and “Santa’s elves” by putting toys together for their children until the wee hours of Christmas morning.

The little blond curly headed boy with quizzical brown eyes asked his parents the question that concerned him, “Does Santa fly through the sky in a sleigh?”  “Yes,” lied the parents who were trying to make Christmas a fun time for their little boy.

The next question of concern was, “Did Santa bring me all these gifts?” “Yes,” lied the parents again trying to add excitement to Christmas for their child.  With a sad and downcast look, the little boy added, “I think I like Santa better than God, because Santa flies to my house to bring me all these gifts.”

This was a true story that happened one Christmas long ago in our home.  After our son said this unbelievable statement, Barry and I looked at each other stunned. We then had a quick discussion about what to do. The decision was an obvious one.  What would you do if your child said he thought he liked Santa better than God?

We decided to tell our children the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Santa Claus. Brandon, our deep thinking little boy sighed relief when he was told the truth.  He was actually glad Santa Claus was make-believe and that his four year old mind did not have to choose between liking God best or Santa best. Knowing the truth that Santa was make-believe was freeing to our little boy.

Knowing our children knew the truth about Santa Claus was actually freeing to Barry and me too. Why?

  1. We did not have to lie anymore!
  2. We did not have huge expectations to live up to anymore trying to be the limitless gift giving Santa Claus.
  3. Our children gave us the credit instead of Santa for all the hard work we went through and the money we spent in trying to make Christmas nice for them.
  4. Our children were much more grateful for their gifts and thankful to their parents and to God, our Provider. In order to make Christmas lists, kids who believe in Santa pay close attention to what advertisers tell them they should want, which in turn encourages unbridled greed and consumerism. The retail stores love for all our children to believe in Santa. Why? Ch ching.
  5. The focus on Christmas was now where it should be: Jesus! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Some parents, who found out our kids no longer believed in Santa didn’t want our kids around their kids because of fear. Fear of what?  Our children telling their children about Santa being make-believe. We had to assure these parents our children would not “tell.” Our children did not “tell” out of obedience to us after we explained how parents get offended.

But, our children observed something sad about some of the children who believed Santa was real.  These were the same children whose parents were afraid of our children telling their children the truth about Santa.

That Christmas, our children were shocked at one little girl saying, “Santa did not bring me the Barbie Doll house I wanted,” as she stamped her foot while looking disgruntled at an almost life size Barbie Doll house.  Another little girl cried, because she did not get exactly what she wanted from Santa.  Our children felt sorry for these children’s parents because their parents had done so much for them, and their children did not realize the truth. Our children observed that the belief in Santa spoils some kids. These kids were not having the “fun” their parents thought they were having with the belief in Santa after-all.

Fast forward to today. I asked all my grown married children if they were going to play Santa with their children.

Melinda, now 26 years old and married, was the youngest and never had a chance to believe in Santa Claus. Melinda did not think she missed out as a child. As for the future, she said she would be truthful and she liked the idea of having fun with a make-believe Santa. She thinks  that makes it still fun, yet you don’t have to miss out on your kids being grateful to you and God for providing the gifts.

Our eldest daughter, Kristen believed in Santa for six years. She is now a Pastor’s wife and mother of four children. “The most convincing argument for me, about not teaching little ones to believe in Santa Claus is our real life experience of Brandon as a little child, saying he thought he liked Santa Claus more than God, because Santa Claus gave presents. Also, I remember, that same Christmas, ( I think I was around 6 yrs old ) coming out of our rooms to see a living room full of amazing toys. On the inside I was really excited. Because I thought Santa brought the toys and at that moment he couldn’t see me anyway, I didn’t express much outward excitement over all the neat toys. I remember thinking, ‘It is so easy for Santa to bring anything for kids and any amount of toys he wants to bring.’ I know I just didn’t feel the same excitement, gratefulness and thankfulness I did in later Christmases, knowing that Mom and Dad picked out each toy and paid for each toy for each of us three children.”

Kristen continued, “In later years, every time I would see that home video of my lack of outward expression of excitement over all the toys, I would feel so bad for poor mom and dad who worked hard most of the night to get everything ready for us. I know many parents have fun with their kids believing in Santa Claus. For me, as a child, I actually had more fun knowing that two people who loved me and knew everything about me, took the time to choose special gifts to give me on Christmas day, as opposed to a magic guy in a red suit who I didn’t even know.

As I reread what Kristen said,  something really stood out to me in Kristen’s words: “I know many parents have fun with their kids believing in Santa Claus.”  She didn’t say the kids have fun, but the parents have fun. Hmm.

And what about the curly headed little boy who was concerned because he might like Santa better than God? Brandon, our son is 28 years old, married, and has a four year old son and twin two year old sons. Brandon said, “I don’t want Santa getting the credit.  We will tell our children the truth.”

This true story is about the year our little boy gave us a wake up call on how much he trusted his parents words as truth; a wake up call about why this “harmless little lie” about Santa was not so harmless.

Barry and I both grew up believing Santa was real. We both thought it did not affect us, so we carried on the tradition.  I can remember the effect on others when I was younger who were acting like spoiled brats because “Santa” did not bring them exactly what they ordered from the Sears Catalog. I do remember when I think way back as a young child how I lusted over the toys in the Sears catalog making my very long list. Maybe belief in Santa affected me more than I realized. A child’s character is being formed in the child’s early years. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Proverbs 20:11)

Every Christian parent makes a decision at Christmas:

  • Some parents don’t have one thing to do with Santa at Christmas~”none of Santa.”
  • Some parents lie as we did about Santa to their children hoping to make it fun for their children. They do not realize the lie may be harmful to some of their children. Some of these parents, use the “lie” to try to get their children to be good.~”all of Santa.”
  • Some parents tell their children from the beginning that Santa is make-believe. They still have some Santa fun with their children at Christmas  keeping Santa in the background.~”some of Santa.”

What will you do with Santa this Christmas?

Our decision: We decided the “lie” about Santa was the problem. The lie makes Santa have Godlike characteristics; he sees all, he knows all, he can be everywhere in one night, and he gives gifts to all.

After we taught our children the truth that Santa was not real, we still had fun with make-believe Santa. We watched Rudolph the red nose reindeer cartoon and other Santa shows, we made a night of seeing Christmas lights around town that included Santa decorations, a friend dressed up like Santa and our children sat on Santa’s lap if they wanted to~most the time, they did not….

Our children enjoyed our decision of having fun with a make-believe Santa so much better than believing in a lie. Make believe Santa was in the background while the Lord Jesus Christ was way in the forefront of Christmas.  After all, Jesus is the reason for the season.

What about Christmas gifts? Do our children know that the best Christmas Gift was the ONE God sent them in Bethlehem?  What will you do with Jesus this Christmas? Let us make Him room!

Do you have any Christmas experiences or thoughts that you would like to share?


10 Thanksgiving Family Traditions

November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving; a time of prayer, giving thanks and praise to God. How do we teach our children and grandchildren to be thankful?

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good…” Psalm 136:1

10 Thanksgiving family traditions you may already be doing and some you may want to consider adopting:

1.  Begin on November 1st and thank God for a blessing. Continue each day through Thanksgiving adding another reason why you are thankful. Many of my facebook friends are posting daily thanks. I have enjoyed reading them. Each family member can make a thankful paper chain with each link representing a different blessing from God and giving Him thanks.

2.  As we all gather around the Thanksgiving Table, a wonderful family tradition we have done in the past is to allow each family member to say what they are thankful about.  This is usually the highlight of the day with many tears. This tradition could be done before the meal or after the meal is finished.

3. November is a time to study about the lives of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.  The Pilgrim story is amazing and their testimony of being steadfast in the midst of tremendous hardships is something to be admired. In 1621, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for their bountiful harvest by having a celebration. The Indians, who helped the Pilgrims survive were invited and brought venison.Our family loves reading books together about the Pilgrims. We also did Pilgrim unit studies with other families that made lasting impressions on our children. The Pilgrims are heroes and heroines our children need to know. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

4. For young kids, they can design the Mayflower:

  • Cut off the bottom of a cup. Cut two slits with the tip of your scissors at the center edge of the cup. Place the cup, bottom side up, into the center of a cup holder.
  • Cut 2 paper rectangles per boat to make sails. Cut 2 tiny slits at the center of each sail at the top and bottom. Push stirrers  through the slits.
  • Add a paper flag to the top of each mast. Push the sticks into the slits in the cup.

5. Do you have a Thanksgiving Turkey main dish tradition?  It is believed that the Pilgrims menu included turkey as well as corn. The pilgrims supply of sugar was low, so they may not have baked pies for the celebration, but pies are usually a family Thanksgiving tradition.

Turkey Trivia: Did you know?

  • The first meal on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, in foil packets, was a roast turkey dinner!
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted our national bird to be the wild turkey instead of the eagle.
  • Male turkeys are called Toms.  Female turkeys are called Hens. The chick is called a poult.
  • Gobble, gobble~ Only Tom turkeys gobble.  Female turkeys make a clicking sound. Turkey gobbles can be heard as far as a mile away.
  • Big Bird, of Sesame Street is actually dressed in turkey feathers. Although Big Bird is not a turkey, his costume is made of nearly 4,000 white turkey feathers, which have been dyed bright yellow.

6. One of my friends makes a Thanksgiving Tree.  “I draw a tree on poster board with lots of branches and no leaves, then hang it on the wall. I then cut leaves out of construction paper in all the fall colors (orange, red, brown, yellow). Throughout the month of November, every time someone comes by our house to visit, I have them write on at least one of the leaves something they are thankful for, and we put it on the tree. Our goals is to fill the tree with leaves. It helps to keep us mindful to be thankful, and not get so wrapped up in Christmas buying, etc.” Make sure your children’s “thanks to God”are included on the leaves. You could also use a real tree branch if and put it in a bucket with sand.  There are many creative ways to make your Thanksgiving Tree.

7. Invite a widow, widower, college student or someone who is lonely to share in your family Thanksgiving meal. I remember when our son went away to Bible College in California, a sweet family invited our son to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal with them.  I was grateful for that family’s hospitality and kindness.

8. In the past, our family handed out “Meals on Wheels” to needy families on Thanksgiving Day.

9.  Celebrate the weekend before Thanksgiving with a “Pilgrim Play” and invite family, friends and neighbors. 

10. Make Pilgrim Hat Cookies as a family.

  • 16 Keebler Fudge Stripes Original cookies
  • 8 ounces chocolate-flavored confectioner’s coating
  • 16 regular marshmallows
  • Canned white frosting
  • Yellow food coloring


1. For hats, place Keebler Fudge Stripes cookies, stripes sides down, on baking sheet lined with wax paper.

2. Melt confectioner’s coating according to manufacturer’s directions.

3. Use fork to dip marshmallows, one at a time, into candy coating, scraping excess coating from bottoms of marshmallows. Place one coated marshmallow on center of each cookie. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until coating is set.

4. Tint frosting yellow. Use to pipe a buckle on each hat.

After Thanksgiving, I am sure many of you ladies participate in the Black Friday tradition!  I love good deals, but not huge aggressive crowds, so I have never gone shopping on Black Friday. I may start a Black Friday Internet tradition for the bargains I enjoy. I won’t have all the stories to tell sitting all by myself in front of my computer. If you decide to get out into the crowds on Black Friday, stay safe! 🙂