Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sam's Version of the Christmas Story

Thought everyone would enjoy this little story-telling session with Samuel. He has been enjoying telling Bible stories with his little New Testament. Not sure where this one originated. As you can see, he never ceases to crack us up. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sam!

Today we're celebrating Samuel's 4th birthday. He is the joy and challenge of our lives, all rolled into one.
I want you to know, little buddy, how much I love you. I love kissing your soft cheeks, listening to you sing, watching you pretend with your toys and see you hug your little sister so gently. I hope that you will grow up to be just like your daddy. He's the most wonderful man I know. We pray for you that you will learn to love Jesus with all of your heart and that we will have wisdom to teach you how to do that. You are such a joy to me. Happy birthday!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Every once in a while I ask Samuel a few questions about God or heaven or something spiritual to see if he is really understanding the things we teach him. Here's how our conversation went the other night at bedtime.

Me: Hey, Sammy, let's pretend that mommy doesn't know how to get to heaven and you can tell me. Okay?
Sam: Okay, Mommy. First, you have to die on the cross for a little while. Then you go to heaven....(and eventually he ended with mentioning something about the Wonder Pets??!!) Somehow, I think we have a long way to go! =/

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Wonderful Husband

This is a recent picture of my wonderful husband, Travis. The afternoon that I took this photo, he was outside for at least 30 minutes, wrestling and playing with Sam, Kara and our nephews while I made dinner. This is a regular occurrence at our house....Travis helping with the children to make it easier for me. This is just one of the reasons that I love him so much.

I've been meaning to post about this for months, so this is a good time for it. In May, soon after Mothers Day, Travis surprised me by taking me to this beautiful bed and breakfast. We had a meeting in a nearby church, drove part way back with the kids to meet my mom for, what I thought, was the afternoon. We would finish the second part of the day alone for the evening service. After we dropped them off, Trav suggested this quaint little town nearby for a cup of tea before we went back for the evening service. As we were walking up the sidewalk, he asked what I would think if we were to stay there for the night and the next day! I was SO surprised, of course. I couldn't believe that he was able to pack MY clothes without me knowing and get them into the van that morning while we were getting ready for church. Wow! The B&B was in New Berlin, PA. We had a beautiful room and a delicious breakfast the next morning. We tried to sleep in, but of course, kept waking up from about 7:00 on. I guess that's the curse of having children! =) Here are some pictures from our time there.

Honey, I just wanted to thank you publicly for the many ways that you love me. You are more than I could ever ask for. I love you. Happy EIGHTH anniversary!

(Maybe our ninth will be on the other side of the world?!) =)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Some recent Pictures

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Great Perspective

I spent the day at my cousin Jami's viewing. At the same time I've been thinking about yesterday's election. If you can spare 5 minutes, check out this link....john piper's view on the election. This has been running through my mind all day. It helped me so much with my view of our place in the world in general.
Make sure you scroll down the page to get to the second video.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My sweet cousin

Last week my cousin gave birth to her first baby....Jenna Leann. After a planned c-section, Jami was not feeling well at all and the doctor found that she needed a blood transfusion. They gave her 2 units of blood and, though she still did not feel well, at least was able to make it home. She and her husband, Josh, took their new baby home, but last evening (Sunday), Jami fainted at home and was rushed to the hospital. She passed away sometime during that time, and they could not help her at the hospital. She was somewhere around the age of 30 or 31. First, I want to praise the Lord that Jami knew Him as her Savior. The Bible says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." These are the words the Lord used to comfort me so often while my dad was sick in the hospital. I was rocking my little Kara tonight before bed, and those words came rushing back to my mind. I have been so concerned for my aunt and uncle (Jami's parents) and my other cousin, Michelle (Jami's sister), and my heart has just been broken all day for them. I am so glad that God promises He will never leave us or forsake us, that we can cast all our care on Him, because He cares for us.
I wanted to show you a picture of my sweet cousin, Jami. She is pictured here with my dad and my Uncle Jack (another of our uncles).

I have always had a special relationship with Jami and Michelle. The three of us are so close in age. I have tons of memories of playing and getting in trouble at Grandma and Grandpa Slye's house. We played the penny game on the stairs guessing which hand the penny was in and moving up a step for every right answer =) (I know, boring...but there wasn't much to do!) We broke the bed one day by jumping on it and got in A LOT of trouble for that! We spent a week one summer swimming in their neighbor's pool...such fun! They always had cans of soda in their fridge (who wouldn't like that as a kid?!). As we grew older, Jami and I had lots of stories to share about our classrooms. We had both studied elementary education in college. Jami was a much better teacher than I ever was though! She even won an award for the best student teacher during her senior year at Clarion University! One of my favorite things about Jami was her great sense of humor and the way she told stories. She made me laugh harder than anyone with her storytelling. I can't share the whole thing here (a little on the risque side), but her story about the crockpot made me cry with laughter. A bunch of us cousins stood around the funeral home at my grandma's funeral listening to her many stories to pass the time at the viewing. I'm just so sorry that this week I'll be attending HER viewing.
The last and most important thing I wanted to write about was Jami's love for Christ. Jami married a man named Scott about 9 or 10 years ago. Scott was not a Christian and after a few years of marriage, left Jami, treating her very badly. Through that experience I never once heard Jami speak hatefully about Scott, but rather, turned her attention and focus to her Savior, Jesus Christ. Over the next few years, while going through her divorce, Jami talked so much about how God was meeting her needs and she maintained such a joyful spirit. She continued to come to all the normal family gatherings, only this time by herself. You would never have known the pain she was going through. A few years ago, at a Bible study, Jami met a wonderful Christian man named Josh. The Lord gave her a wonderful gift in opportunity to be married again. 10 months ago they found out that they were going to have a baby. As with most pregnancies, everyone was so thrilled that God had given Jami this treasure. Please pray for little Jenna, not even 1 week old and without a mommy.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts. I know things were a little random. The body of Christ is such a gift. We covet your prayers for our family. I, personally, covet your prayers as I try to minister to my family members who are so heart-broken. I would love to hear any promises from Scripture that you would like to share.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spit Shine

You may think that Kara's hair is just wet after a bath or something normal like that.  HOWEVER, Samuel brought her to me after playing with her in his room.  "Look, Mom, I made Kara's hair all brown!" he said.  When asked how he did that, he replied, "I used her toothbrush and spit on it, and then I put it on her head to make it all brown."  Kinda gross, don't ya think?! =/

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Biggest Fear

I guess I have a lot of fears.  Probably something happening to one of my kids or a close family member is one of the biggest.  But the greatest fear I have, by far, is to think that my children will reject the Lord.  If I think about it too much, I get very worried.  I don't think there's anything I try harder to do than searching for opportunities to fit in something about God.  In my conversations with Samuel, I'm always looking for something to say to help him see Jesus.  I read a really funny story one time in a parenting book.  It told of a mom who was always looking for opportunities to share these great and wonderful truths about God with her son.  She was SO excited at this chance she had to go to an Easter play with him.  She just KNEW that during this play, they would see Jesus doing miraculous things and showing His great power, and her son would be SURE to ask questions about Jesus, and she would have an awesome chance to share Christ with him in a meaningful way.  Just as Jesus was calming the terrible storm, her son leaned over to her to whisper in her ear.  She was just SURE that this was HER moment...but instead of asking ANYTHING spiritual, he asked, "Mom, how do they make the water look so real?"  She had built up this perfect scenario in her mind, only to be disappointed in the end.  This is exactly what happens to me all the time.  I know Sam is only 3, but I get myself feeling so sure that we're going to have a really special talk about God, but inevitably it ends up rabbit trailing and becoming a talk about what we're going to have for breakfast the next day or something! =/  As I was reading a friend's post the other day, I was reminded of something that I knew but I needed to start putting into practice.  My children's decision to follow/or not follow Christ is fully dependent on the Holy Spirit.  Am I trusting them to Him, or am I trying to manufacture this love for God in them?  Does anybody else struggle with this?  I do the same thing in my friendships with unbelievers.  The friendships that I have made for the purpose of being the "light of the world," like we're commanded to be in Matthew 5.  But I always end up frustrating myself with my lack of ability to relax and just let it come naturally.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts About Family

Trav and I have been talking more frequently about what it will be like when we live in Romania.  One of the things we always talk about is what it will be like to live away from our families.  We have an incredible blessing that few people have...each member of our families (moms, dads, brothers and sisters and their spouses) have come to know the Lord as their Savior.  For our children to have 2 sets of grandparents and all of their aunts and uncles as godly examples to admire and follow makes us so happy and thankful to God.  I've been trying to cherish every moment that we have with our families, knowing that very soon, we will be on our own very far away from them.  Here's some pictures of our sweet family.  I hope this will encourage you to thank the Lord for your own salvation and for the godly heritage that many of you have been given.  My only regret is that I would have been more thankful before now...

Travis and his brother, Trent

Suzanne (my brother's wife) and her sweet baby Caleb

Tammy (Trav's sister) and Sam when he was a little punkin'

Jeff (Trav's sister's husband) and his little boy, Daniel

My Mom and Dad

Travis' Dad and Kara

Travis' Mom, Sam and cousin Ella (or Allah, Sam calls her!) =)

My brother, Andy with Dad at rehab

Travis' brother's wife, Traci

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reading to Pappy (last post continued)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Conversation with Pappy

Since my dad's brain injury, most of you know, he has been unable to talk.  He can say a few words here and there, but for the most part, he doesn't really speak at all.  Sometimes on special mornings he'll be in a very alert mood when he wakes up.  On those mornings we call to Sam and see if he wants to come in and "talk" with Pappy.  This morning's conversation was especially funny.  

Side note:  When Samuel gets in trouble and has to be disciplined, we've been working on 
repeating the entire scenario to be sure the disobedience is corrected the second time around.  
Sometimes we'll say, "OK.  I'm going to go out of the room and then I'll come in and tell you to 
do blah, blah, blah, and you'll say, 'Yes, Mommy/Daddy.'"  Then we'll repeat the whole process, 
and Sam will answer correctly and least that's the plan =)  

So.....this morning when we called him in to talk with Pappy, it went like this...

Sam:  Hi, Pappy!
Pappy: Hi.
Sam:  Why'd you get up so early today, Pappy?
Pappy: *silence*
Sam:  OK!  Let's try again, okay?
Pappy: OK
Sam: Hi, Pappy!
Pappy: Hi.
Sam:  Why'd you get up so early today, Pappy?
Pappy: *silence*
After a few more times, Samuel decides to do a "retake" (like we do with him).
By this time we're totally cracking up.  My poor dad, forced into this never-ending conversation! =)
Sam:  OK, Pappy!  Let's try again.  (in a very instructive, teacher voice)  I'm gonna go out of the room and then I'll come back in and you can answer me.
By the time it was over, we convinced him to sit up in Pappy's bed and read him some books.  (pictures to come)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Even though she has a few teeth, Kara still chooses to swallow things whole. You would think a banana would just slide down, but she takes such big bites! So funny!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I just wanted to write a quick post to our friends, Dan and Karis. Two weeks from yesterday they will be leaving for their first term in Cameroon, Africa. When we moved to Virginia Beach for seminary, Dan and Karis were our first friends. Neither one of us had children, so it was school, work and friends that made up our lives. From the beginning we knew that we would get along great. Travis knew Dan and Karis from college, but not all that well. They were always just one step ahead of us through seminary and then into the process of choosing a mission board and beginning deputation.

Dan and Karis, you are so special to us. Even though we've spent lots of months away from each other since we moved to Pennsylvania, you have always been very close in our hearts. We have prayed for you so much these last months as God has answered your great desire to send you to Cameroon. We admire you and your faithfulness to the Lord and the strength and determination you have shown to make it through long years of seminary away from both of your families. You spent many Christmases alone in Virginia, while we were close enough to travel home for every one. You waited for the pregnancy of your precious Kayla, whom we prayed for. And then the Lord blessed you abundantly with ANOTHER baby! We are so glad to call you our friends. We don't know when we'll see you again, since our furlough schedules will probably not match, so it could be many years. We cherish the times we have had with you as a couple and now the few times we've spent together as families. We love you, DAN, KARIS, KAYLA, and KRISTA! =)

Friday, July 25, 2008


I receive a newsletter for women in ministry. It's called "Reflections from the Fishbowl". In the June issue there was a wonderful poem that I shared with my mom. We really enjoyed it. So maybe you will too.....

by Russell Kelfer

Desparately, helplessly, longingly I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? You say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers. I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word."

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?"
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no', to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply.

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God,
"So I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine....
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run."

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.
You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of my Spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seems terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still..."WAIT".

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cool Museum

We've been away for the last two weeks doing a couple Vacation Bible Schools. The second week we stayed with a GREAT family...Steve and Elyse Richard and boys (5 of them, actually!) =)
After a busy week at Bible school, they treated us to a really cool museum. I wish we could show here what an awesome place this is. It's called
Strong Museum of Play. I've never seen such a cool place! It's located in Rochester, NY. We spent the morning playing together. Samuel couldn't contain himself; he was SO excited. If you ever have a chance to go, it's definitely worth the time and money. THANK YOU, RICHARDS! We had a GREAT week with you (and we're already suffering from the lack of delicious cookies at our house!)

Zach and Zane (twins)

Zach, Zane, Luke and Micah

Sweet Luke

Elyse and little Isaiah

Kara is definitely Daddy's favorite girl!

Everybody hugging Clifford





Our Wonderful Friends (Steve and Elyse)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Sam's been cracking us up lately with his renditions of Veggie Tales.  He's really into "Dave and the Giant Pickle."  (a spin off of David and Goliath, in case you couldn't tell from the title) =)  Anyway, the other night on the way to Bible School, he was quoting in the back seat something from one of the "Silly Songs with Larry."  Bob and Larry are talking in Spanish for some reason and one of them says, "No Comprendo??!!!  I'll show YOU no comprendo!"  Well, Sam was saying, "No Comfriendo??!!  I'll show YOU no comfriendo!"  It was hilarious!  I have big plans to post a video of Sam playing Dave and Travis playing the Giant stay tuned!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Best Dads Ever

Father's Day is tomorrow. I wanted to take a moment and thank the Lord for the 2 best dads in the world. The first one became my father on June 5, 1975. It was his last day of school (he was an elementary school teacher). This was just the beginning of my inconveniencing him. Now that I'm a parent, I realize the sacrifice that it takes to raise a child. I wanted to name a few things that I remember specifically about my childhood and to thank my dad for his sacrifice.

My favorite memory is my dad coming into my room each night to pray with me. Before the seriousness began, he would so often sneak in and "get" me! It was so suspenseful; you never knew quite when he'd come through the door. He'd always call to me through the door that he was coming, and I would squeal with excitement.

In "teeth losing years" my dad would dress up in my mom's robe and a little frilly hat, pull his glasses down on his nose, and ring a little bell announcing his appearance as the Tooth Fairy. "Did somebody here lose a tooth?" he would say in a little squeaky voice. We always got huge sums of money for lost teeth, like a dime or quarter. =)

My dad was my principal in Christian school for all of my elementary school years and was also my kindergarten teacher. Though he made me call him "Mr. Heckathorne" like everyone else, when we passed in the hallway by ourselves sometimes, we'd sneak a little hug and kiss.

As I grew older, in college, Dad would send me little notes in the mail sometimes.

Once, after college, when my boyfriend broke up with me, Dad held me in his arms and told me that God allows hard times to come to make us strong. I'll never forget that hug.

The last time my dad talked to me, he said what he has said thousands of times: "I love you." This was before I left him in the hospital the night before he suffered a cardiac arrest which took his speech from him and left him with a serious brain injury. We've had some very understanding looks between us since then, though, and I'm so glad to know that he still loves me. Now he just tells me with his eyes. I love you too, Daddy.

The other best dad in the world is my husband...Travis Mitchell Gravley. I would not want any other man to be a daddy to my children. I will never understand the love of God for me that He would give me a husband like he has. I have been blessed abundantly more than I deserve. Travis is the most sacrificial person I have ever known. He is constantly serving me and our children. Samuel and Kara love their daddy so much. He plays with them, feeds them, bathes them, and dresses them. There is nothing he refuses to do (even the yuckiest part of potty training that you can imagine!) =) If I ever go away, I am sure that they are being taken care of, just like I would do. I remember one time recently when I went out shopping with my mom. When I returned, Trav had fed the children dinner, played with them all evening, dressed them for bed, cleaned up all the toys, and was just finishing the dishes when I got home. This is just one example of how he takes care of our family. He quietly leads us in loving the Lord with all of our hearts. He disciplines Samuel so patiently, and humbly reminds me to do the same =) There is no little girl that he loves more than his baby Kara. I remember when we learned we were having a girl, Travis immediately said, "What are we gonna do when she's 12?!!" I have absolutely no fear. If my little girl looks for a husband JUST like her daddy, she will have found the greatest treasure!
One of the dearest sacrifices Travis has made for me has been just in the last year. He has agreed to be the main caretaker along side my mom for my own father. I cannot begin to describe my thankfulness. I love you, Travis. You mean more to me than I could ever describe. I am the happiest girl in the world!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kara!

We had a really nice birthday party on Friday evening for Kara. She turned one! I can hardly believe that she is already one year old. Her Ninny and Papop and cousins Grace and Ella came from Mechanicsburg. My parents were there, of course, since we live with them. Andy and Suz (my bro. and his wife) and their three boys came from next door =), and my aunt and uncle who live nearby were all here for the celebration. I wanted to make her a girly cake, so I talked to a few people and looked online, but I kept coming back to the idea of a flower. Here is my attempt. I was pretty happy with it, but I am just NOT "Becky Home-ecky," so don't get too excited. =) I made the main flower part from a round cake pan, the petals from cupcakes with a little notch cut out of them, and my favorite part....the stem from green finger jello! I was pretty proud of myself for that idea. Even though I'm not very good at baking it's still really fun to make birthday cakes for your kids. I think I'll try to do it every year. We ended up just giving her a little round cake to dig into, cause i just couldn't let her destroy my "masterpiece". Here's some pictures of Kara's special day. I love you, my sweet Kara Suzanne!
P.S. Something very special happened on Kara's birthday. Travis' brother, Trent, called to tell us "Happy Birthday to Kara AND her new little cousin, William Riley Gravley!" Isn't that cool? Cousins born exactly one year apart! We love you, little Will.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Nursery for Heaven

First, I want to thank my blogging wife for allowing me this guest appearance on her blog.  If you didn't realize it was "her's," take note of the now very feminine blog template.  If it were mine, that would never fly.

Anyway, I wanted to pass on something God has been pounding into my thick skull lately.  I have been challenged by the book of Deuteronomy to step up and make my home centered on God and His Word.  Deuteronomy 6 says,
6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise
So, first God's Word needs to "be on your heart," then like an overflowing cup, it should flow out of your mouth all throughout the day and night.

I was reminded of this challenge again today as I read this segment of a prayer from Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers (this prayer was posted on for Mother's Day),
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory;
A nursery for heaven -- trees of righteousness -- Wow!  What a thought!  As we continue day by day participating in these divine institutions (family and church), may we be known as those who knew and loved the Scriptures.  May it be ever on our hearts and on our tongues that our children and those under our influence may become trees of righteousness in the garden of the Lord.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Samuel has now completed his potty training....HALLELUJAH!!!!! I really thought his senior year of highschool would be quite embarrassing with having to wear a pull-up. So glad we can put this"behind" us (if you know what I mean....heeheehee) =) Don't ask me for ANY potty

training advice. I have nothing to offer except, for this kid at least, he wasn't ready until he was ready. Last week he began sitting up on the potty (with his pull-up on). I called it "practicing". I noticed that he was always doing his thing while standing up. So....I decided to work on the sitting down part first. He did a great job with it. He would tell me when he had to go, and then I would run him into the bathroom and sit him up on the seat with his pull-up on. He'd do his thing and then I'd clean him up. Crazy, I know, but I was trying everything I could think of. Then on Mother's Day night (I'll spare you the gory details), we caught him in the act and made a big, funny deal out of it, resorting to "potty talk". He thought this was hilarious and jumped right in on it, cracking himself up about it all. The next morning, out of the blue, he asked to go to the potty and for the last twp days.....well....SUCCESS!!!! Tonight at bed time he said, "Mom, when you pray, thank Jesus that I'm not afraid to go poopy in the potty anymore." And so I did, because I really AM thankful!

Samuel - potty training begins (spring 2007)

Samuel - potty training ends - (Spring 2008)

Monday, April 28, 2008


Kara's been killin' us with this recent face. She loves to feel the new teeth coming in on top with the two teeth on the bottom! HeeHee =)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Daycare Center, PA

Just a few months ago, Travis and his good buddy, Dan, decided to head to a pastors' conference for a time of refreshement and encouragment. Dan's wife, Karis, and I figured that the week would be a lot more fun away from our husbands if we got together here at our house, so our kids could play. Just before the conference, however, I learned that my sweet friend, Carissa, would also be alone for the week since her husband was heading to the same conference. That is when the mayhem began! I decided to invite BOTH friends to my house along with EVERYONE'S kids. Carissa's blog gives the greatest description of last week. 7 kids ages 3 and under together for 3 days! Please check it out here. Here's some extra pictures from the week. It was absolutely crazy, and I think I am just now recovering, but I would definitely do it all over again for the wonderful privilege of spending time with my awesome friends and getting to know their beautiful children. Because of our plans to serve the Lord in 3 different parts of the world someday (us in Romania, Karis and Dan in Cameroon, and Carissa and Ben here for now), this was a very important time for me. Thank you so much for coming all this way just to be with us. I LOVE YOU, CARISSA and KARIS!