Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas 2016

We had a great Christmas holiday. Here are a few pics of the season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Candy Houses

Our great aunt Anne taught us several years ago how to made sturdy, larger gingerbread houses. We have now made this a tradition.

To make these houses more sturdy and durable, you create a house structure with a cardboard.

You then lay icing as mortar and graham crackers as brick. BRILLIANT! A finally, we use icing to embellish the house.

Here are our 2016 houses. We ended up taking two to the local nursing home to spread some cheer. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Floydada Trip

We love this time of year because it brings us out to rural west Texas. Our hearts look forward to time with our farming family.

We enjoy walking through the cotton fields and watching our Uncle Robert strip the cotton.

We also enjoy the many many many many pumpkins. We can pick as much as we want!! :)

But the most enjoyable times in Floydada are the times spent with the family, especially our Pawpaw Barnes. We know our times our limited with him, so we want to soak up every minute with him.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


DJ is 11 today and we celebrate!! We love having this lil' man around. 

He is courageous, never bats an eye at adventures.

He is a servant and loves to fix things. He really is the 2nd man of the house.

He also has a great sense of humor and is always joking around. 

He's pretty ingenious, almost scary at times! 

But most of all, he dearly loves his family and is the most loving uncle.

We love you Dylan!! Happy 11th!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Strickland garden 2016

Strickland Summer

Ephesians 5:15-17 says "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." We try to emulate this in our household, but sometimes we find ourselves watching an entire season of Amazing Race within a few days time. ;) In general, we do take this admonishment to heart in our scheduling and daily grind. I find the more proactive we are in our planning the less reactive we have to be. 

I've always been a planner, but not so intentional about summertime until the spring our pastor introduced a new idea at a staff meeting. He challenged the staff and congregation to intentionally think and plan the summer. I am so thankful for his wisdom. He created a template to fill out to consider a few things. I have compiled his template, with a few of my tweaked versions, along with his teachings on this subject into a drop box file. 

Fast forward almost 7 years, I feel a bit rhetorical in our summer planning. SO much so that I have this desire to share the whats/hows of our summer planning and scheduling. Sometimes I fear judgment/criticism as I share. Please know I humbly submit these ideas. Please also know we are an average family trying to pursue the will of God and glorify Him in all we do. We do this imperfectly but nevertheless continue on that great mission for we know it will bear great fruit. 

With all that said, I'd like to share the ways we operate during the summer months. These methods and ideas have been adapted over time from others who have gone before me or have been alongside me in the trenches. Each family is different so take these ideas to use, not use, or adapt as you see fit.

As a homeschooling family, we divide our year by thirds. We have the spring segment (Jan-April), summer segment (May-Aug) and fall segment (Sept-Dec). We organize our home, activities, and academics by these thirds. This helps me stay sane. So, right now we have begun our summer schedule. Yes, May is considered summer in our house! YAHOO! 


FIRST: A few weeks before each segment, I sit my family down with these templates mentioned above. We list out goals, desires, and needs. I get a four month calendar ready and gather, write out, and list all of our commitments, trips, meetings, and such. 

I then plan out certain days to do certain things based off our needs.
--> We will continue to homeschool two days a week this summer. (We never stop reading, learning math and language. I also take this opportunity to help my kiddos with any weaknesses.)
--> We have the other days for fun summer activities. For instance, we have been swimming at a friends pools for 9 years now. They have been gracious to allow us to come every Monday. SO Mondays are swim days. 
--> We also like to have FUN FRIDAYS. This is a time to go do something fun. (Zoo, Nerf Gun Wars, bowling, laser tag, skating, museum, slipnslide, outside adventure of some sort)
In the past we would have SCIENCE DAYS, COOK DAYS, and all kinds of days that met needs and activities that stretched our family in a good way.

SECOND: Once the calendar is all organized, I create a weekly schedule so everyone knows what to expect each day. I print and laminate this weekly agenda and post it up by the calendar. 

NEXT: A valuable resource I found was the acronym BORED. How many times do you hear the kids say "I'm bored!" Or want to just veg out on media?? This BORED acronym has revolutionized my household. I tweaked the original I found to fit my family. I printed and posted it by the calendar. You will notice the weekly agenda has it listed too on each day of the week we are not schooling.

Ways we flesh out BORED.
B: This is the opportunity to let your kids create. Usually its something with Legos in our house. Sometimes I make them draw something. Or what a great way to get these kids cooking! Today DJ made cookies for a gathering tonight. 
O: Outside play is self explanatory. Early in the morning is a good time when its too hot. We also have a small pool for the boys to waste some energy on. 
R: I make the kiddos read AT LEAST 30 minutes each day. We usually do this in the afternoon. It makes for a nice quiet time. We have certain books we read over the summer, but the most of the reading is pleasure reading.
E: This is a double E. No one has complained thus far. One E is less gratifying than the other. The less gratifying, exercise, can be walking our dogs, using our step master, or doing rounds of pushups. I usually measure what exercise will look like each time. (ten pushups, 300 steps, two blocks of walking the dogs, etc) The more gratifying E is earning. I created an opportunity for the kiddos to earn money OR media time. Behind each card is either money or minutes for media. The kids sure do enjoying the fruits of their labor.

D: There is alot to do around here. I am always willing to accept any help I can get. Helpful things can include checking the mail, helping with a chore, or assisting with a meal or a project. The sky is the limit here. 

LASTLY: While I like order and structure, I've learned I need to allow room for spontaneity and life's curveballs, and more importantly, the Holy Spirit, who cannot flow in and through me if I remain rigid and closed. So we allow room for changes and adjustments to our schedule as needed. 

Here is to a fun, refreshing summer!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Spring Formals

I'm These lovely ladies have had the opportunity to dress up this spring. These girls are so beautiful. It sure is fun seeing these girls all polished up.

Spring Protocol
The girls come together with their class to review proper etiquette. The everyone dresses up to have an elegant night on the town. Sure was a fun time.

A few weeks later these girls enjoy prom. The theme was ONCE UPON A PROM. It was a lovely evening with friends.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Murder Mystery

We threw a fun SWEET 16TH party for our daughter. It was a MURDER MYSTERY. This was a fun time for everyone to be guilty until proven innocent.

We basically came up with a plot with characters. We invited friends to come and assigned them a character to create and embellish. 

We were having a "CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION" for the town. We had the mayor, townspeople, a realtor, farmer, baker, business men, sheriff, and more come to enjoy a picnic together. 

Suddenly, someone falls ill and dies. It appeared to be a poisoning. After the CSI team scans the land they find the poison bottle with a receipt. This ties the murderer to a few more items, a ring pop, and doritos. 

As everyone was questioned and it was finally concluded who the murderer was. EVERYONE did a fantastic job! We then enjoyed cake and ice cream and ended with AWARDS. 

We handed out specific awards to everyone. It sure was a fun party. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Taylor's 9th!

Happy birthday to our joyful nine year old.

Seriously, this guy was smiling in the womb.

 He has always been marked with the spirit of Joy from the very beginning.

So blessed to have him in our family! 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Prince Henry the Navigator

One of the many things I love about our homeschooling program is the many opportunities we give our students to take in history firsthand. It's as if they are a real life Liberty Kid. :)

Here is Prince Henry, aka Dylan. He got to write a research paper on a historical figure. He chose Prince Henry of Portugal. 

He got to put to work the many skills he had accumulated over the year. (research, writing, presenting)

His paper, titled A Princely Life, is linked here.  Read and enjoy!

He then dressed up as Prince Henry and presented this information to our community during the End of the Year picnic. I'm so proud of this boy and all of his hard work and skills! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The story of us

This picture was taken at Easter 6 years ago, which marks the beginning of a great story.

Lately, we have had so many friends ask us, "Who did you marry off?" and  "Who is that baby?" I think we have given a few people heart attacks thinking we now have a grand baby.

Our daughters are 17 and almost 16 and the boys are 10 and almost 9. All too young for babies!! And Joel and I haven't even hit 40 yet. We aren't old enough to be grandparents!

Well, the Lord would have it another way. Here is the story of us.

My first memory of Sharron and Brittini was in 2009 as they served in the children's ministry of our church. I oversaw most of the events that happened in the children's department. These two were always seen together. They just loved people so well.

In the fall of 2009 I would see the pair all around town. I felt the Lord was prompting us to initiate a relationship. Our families connected so well and so quickly.

We invited them over for the first time at Easter. We hit it off so well. Sharron even took the picture of us all on the swing in the garden at the beginning of this post. Sharron being a single mom enjoyed the family atmosphere, and our family enjoyed their fellowship. Mid year, we struck a bartering deal. Sharron would come over twice a week and help with laundry in exchange for a home-cooked meal.

This was a pic from FAMILY NIGHT. Sharron and DJ were on a team to make a structure out of marshmallows and noodles.

The fall of 2010, our relationship went deeper. Here is a FB post from Sharron in 2010.

Joel and I were intimately walking alongside Sharron and Brittini in 2011. Brittini was an unruly teen and Sharron had a hard time parenting her. I admired Sharron's strength and humility. She was willing to do anything to help her daughter, even if that meant to do something unconventional. Joel and I co-parented Brittini for almost a year. Sharron affectionately named me "Momma T". It was messy at times, for we had alot of work to do. We always ended with love and forgiveness. 

Here is a picture from our annual NEW YEAR'S HIKE. The kids LOVED having Britt around.

In the fall of 2011, we all decided it would be best for Brittini to move in with us. We announced the news to our family and friends. I shared two specific words from the Lord. 
"On Monday someone, who has no idea our current situation, approached Sharron with this vision, copied word for word: "I saw a storm taking place in the desert but there was a castle and Brittini ran into the castle to find there had been a room and a place prepared just for her...warm and cozy...a solid shelter from the storm. The father sees her and knows what she needs in this season and hes the only shelter there is for miles around leaving her no choice but to find herself safe in the fathers love."  

Then on Friday, I received another vision from a friend who knew about our situation. Here are her words " I had a dream about you last night and I never have significant dreams, but I felt like I should share...You had a little girl that you were adopting, she was little like maybe 1-2, but she just perfectly fit into your family. You were so full of joy and peace in loving her and your family- you were proud to show her off. There were a couple of times in the dream where I was talking to you and you were actually nursing the little girl. I feel like she symbolizes Brittini and that there will be peace and joy on you and your family as you "adopt" her. She will fit- even when it's hard and parenting her takes a lot out of you it will all fit in with your family and what all of you need. You will be proud to mark her as yours- she will grow to represent your values/the kingdom values. I felt like the nursing thing was significant. I don't know what Brittini has been through in her life, but I feel like God is wanting to go back to her beginning childhood through you and nurture her healing through your love. As you tenderly "nurse" her she will get the sustenance that she missed and needs from a nurturing mother, a healthy family and from God her Father."
We ALL enjoyed having Brittini in our home. There was so much joy. But then, there was so much sorrow. March of 2012, Sharron started to feel intense pain. She would later find out she has Lymphoma. We started to support Sharron by helping with appointments, food, and maintaining a blog for family and friends. The blog still remains, I cant let myself delete it. This is a picture of us at he hospital. This was right before got her hair all cut off.

We tried to make Britt's senior year as normal as possible. We enjoyed prom and graduation. It sure was an experience! Sharron was so proud of her daughter, and we were too..

During Sharron's sickness, there were many sweet times where we were able to care for her. She loved her some Bush's ice and mashed potatoes. I still have grocery lists from her that I refuse to delete. She continued to lovingly call me Momma T and share her heart for her children. The6Stricklands loved her dearly and continued to support Sharron during her hospital visits and home health. 
Here is a rock the kiddos made with her famous slogan with a rainbow- God's Got This

 Brittini moved back in with her mother the summer after graduation. I believe things were better with the two back under one roof, but it wasnt perfect. We supported and cared for the two the best way we knew how and could. Brittini eventually moved to the DFW area. 

Sharron tried to maintain a regular lifestyle, but with her declining health, she just needed more care. I remember giving her baths and powdering her neck, her favorite. :) She ended up moving to DFW to be close to her son, Michael. On April 19, 2014, Sharron would leave this earth and enter into heaven with a whole body. She was so dear to us all and is greatly missed. 

This is our last photo together. The kids were crushed.

I think its safe to say that after Sharron's death, Brittini took a darker road. Sadly, we didn't connect alot during that time. It was a hard, and scary. The kids asked about her all the time. The Lord gave the parable of the prodigal son as a hope. We had a quiet confidence that Brittini would return home someday. 

That day came in July of 2015. 

At a place of desperation, Brittini and her boyfriend at the time, Troy, needed to make a life change. They found out they were pregnant! The Lord brought them to Waco and we were all SO HAPPY! The kid's hearts were full to have Britt close.

We had a slogan for Troy and Britt - First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Troy proposed and the wedding was December 11, 2015. 

It was a beautiful wedding. We were so proud of these two. We knew Sharron would have been too! She had loved Troy, she shared stories about him and even wrote him letters before she got too sick. 

It was during the wedding festivities that Joel and I realized we were truly the parents of the bride. For a long time I felt like the big sister, but the Lord was moving me into this motherly role. It's been a joy and privilege to mentor and show Brittini what it is to be a good wife. 

Then it was time to focus on the arrival of baby Lani. I was able to watch these two morph into parents firsthand on Feb. 11.  It was the biggest honor to be at Lani's birth. 

This was the 1st Lockenour family photo

I was reminded of the name Sharron would always call me - Momma T. I realized this is what I would want Lani to call me. In no way would I ever want to take the grandmother title from Sharron. She actually would have been called "Mimi". She would have LOVED to have seen Brittini as a mom and would have LOVED to grandmother Lani. 

I relish in the fact that I am in a position to be a grand. And OH how grand it is! I also grieve over the fact that Sharron can't be here. I know she would trust me with her grandbaby. I will not take that trust lightly and will joyfully "co-grandparent" that sweet girl forever!

It's been a joy and privilege to mentor and show Brittini what it is to be a good momma. She is doing a fantastic job! 

Someone recently argued with me that I am not a Momma T, I am just an Auntie T, I'm just too young. They almost got a fist in their face. Don't get between Momma T and her Lani girl! :) 

So that is the story of us. It's truly a remarkable story of Gods faithfulness and the beauty of family. We all would have it no other way.

I look forward to cherish many more memories to come and to add to this beautiful story.