My Guy is Gutsy: A Valentine’s Day Tribute to my Husband

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He’s a great catch! 😉

Gutsy is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “showing courage, determination, and

spirit.” Related words are brave, courageous, bold, daring, fearless, heroic,

lionhearted, undaunted, unflinching, unshrinking, and unafraid. Those describe Chris Stull!

On this Valentine’s Day I want to do a quick shared reflection on the gutsy

ways of this guy of mine…

• He got up at 1:00 a.m. to start a 5,000+’ grueling hike to the top of 14,259’

Longs Peak…13 hours…just because his sons wanted to do it. Gutsy.

• He took on a “leftover players” little league baseball team in which most of the

boys were afraid of the ball. By the end of the season they were champions.

Gutsy.

• He stepped in to lead a church with amazing wisdom, peace, purpose and clarity

when the senior pastor felt called to another place. Gutsy.

• He walked away from a great job with a large staff at a big church in a wonderful

city near extended family to move and plant a church in Phoenix, not

knowing where that church would meet or what that church would be called.

Gutsy.

• He chose to go from a place of full resource closets, pews and paid staff to “I

guess we should order some chairs so people can sit,” and “Would anyone

like to volunteer to help?” Gutsy.

• He has handled hundreds of difficult human resource incidents with truth and

care. Gutsy.

• He has shared truth patiently, honestly and lovingly with irate people who were

pouring their anger out on him because they were mad at God. Gutsy.

• He has preached God’s Word truthfully when he knew he would not win any

popularity contest. Gutsy.

• In the midst of taking almost a half cut pay in salary to plant a church, he

adopted two children internationally from a country that was rampant with

Ebola at the time of travel. Gutsy.

• He bravely navigates and provides for the needs of 7 children — car insurance,

car payments, cell phone payments, FAFSA apps, etc. Gutsy.

• While suffering with malaria when on a Zambian mission, he preached a full

sermon at a church that was a mile away from running water or any

bathrooms. Gutsy.

• In South Africa, though no one would go near the village witch doctor’s home, he

entered, laid hands on the woman’s sick son, and he was healed. (And the

witch doctor surrendered her life to Christ!) Gutsy.

• He has given probably 100 off-the-cuff messages or impromptu prayers at

unexpected times. Gutsy.

• He helped lead and guide people with wisdom in the horror of a Rockies

mudslide. Gutsy.

• Although a “detail guy” with an MBA in finance, he bravely has led his family to

follow the Lord when feeling the call to give to the Lord well above and

beyond anything that worked on paper. Gutsy.

• His encounters with wildlife deserve a section all their own…

⁃ He was once walking over a log and encountered a rattle snake zinging

with feet on both sides of the log and snake in between.

⁃ He sat down in a boat next to a rattlesnake – not a good fishing partner.

⁃ He was walking through a creek and encountered a moose – both ran the

fastest 40 yards that day.

⁃ He was fishing and ended up in the stream with a mama bear and two

cubs walking the bank.

⁃ He was sitting on the ground with his back against a log when an elk

climbed over the log.

⁃ He was walking in the middle of an open meadow in the pitch black when

he heard breathing and snorting all around him. The elk herd starting

running in that field as he stood in the middle of shaking ground,

thinking he would surely be trampled.

• He has completed over a dozen triathlons — swimming, biking, and running —

some in the heat and humidity, or close to freezing conditions. Gutsy.

• He sat with white knuckles in the passenger seat of a van on the Road to Hana

with his nervous wife at the wheel maneuvering 500+ hairpin turns and 500+

one-lane bridges on the sides of cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Gutsy.

(He won’t forget his driver’s license next time we go to Maui.)

• He has often folded laundry for this family of 7+ (depending on who is home at

the time), having done as much as 6-7 loads in the time of one ballgame or

movie. Gutsy.

• He has done middle-of-the-night clean up on carpets and beds when little

children got sick. Gutsy!

• He has gotten up almost every morning without fail to read the Bible and seek

the Lord in prayer, even when he didn’t feel like it. Gutsy.

If you are wondering how my guy got so gutsy, the answer lies in that last

reflection. He surrendered his life to Christ and is filled with the Spirit of the living

God. Every day for decades now he has been seeking the Lord as his source of

strength and direction. It’s not that he never feels fear. He just doesn’t let fear stop

him. His boldness comes from a deep confidence in God. I have often heard

friends talk about Chris’s “Joshua” spirit, and that’s what I’m writing about. Joshua

1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for

the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Living with him is an

adventure, and I’m thankful to be by his side every step along the way. Happy

Valentine’s Day, my love. You will always be my hero.

Pastor for the week at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, CO

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Stull Family 2016 Update

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In case you saw the Stull family 2016 video and are looking for a little explanation…

“Details, give me details!” Here you go, starting with our oldest:

Dillon's graduation from Baylor University
Dillon’s graduation from Baylor University
img_4514
Home by the fire pit
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Sitting on a panel at B.U.
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Dillon’s reward for paying his way through college (on scholarships)
Rocky Mountain high
Rocky Mountain high

Dillon – Graduated from Baylor University in May.

Was happy to hold Chris to his promise of a new car for any child who pays their own way through college (he did it on scholarships), so Chris is taking on his first car payment in 10 years.

Started the Christian Pre-Health Fellowship his junior year, and Spring of his senior year it was chosen as the best new student organization of the year at BU.

He and 10 of his BU friends stopped by our house on their way home from a Spring Break trip to California. The garage turned into a cozy bedroom with 8 inflated mattresses and it was such fun.

He was elated to finish his thesis and have it published, then went back to do medical missions on the Kenya Nyakach Plateau with Straw to Bread Ministries from Baylor in May.

Then enjoyed working at Wind River Ranch for the rest of the summer before moving to Duke University to get a one-year master’s degree in medical ethics and theology.

He spent all fall traveling around the country interviewing with some amazing medical schools, has already received some acceptances, and we are prayerful that God makes His will clear… and provides scholarships!


Sir Lancelot in Camelot
Sir Lancelot in Camelot
Disneyworld & Epcot
Disneyworld & Epcot
An Opera Buffet
In a medley of operas

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Derek – a junior Music Ed major at Dallas Baptist University.

Highlights from this past year included performing in DBU’s Camelot and An Opera Buffet, being the featured soloist for the Mark Hayes Requiem performed by DBU’s Grand Chorus,

visiting Disney World over fall and Christmas break, where his girlfriend Taylor is in their Disney U. program and working as a performing character.

He wrapped up two years of wonderful service as the worship leader of the contemporary service at Shiloh Terrace BC in Dallas, and began in November as the worship leader at Preston Ridge BC in Frisco.

He and his girlfriend also won second place in a company-wide contest of Plexus Worldwide by creating a music video about their newest clean energy product. It’s super cute! [https://youtu.be/8qJxW-aSXdw]

His band came out and did the music for the second year at Wellspring Church’s youth camp in June.

He’s our BTB (aka BowTie Boy). Almost any day of the week you can find him wearing one of his dozens of bow ties.


Senior Portrait
Senior Portrait
Still loving baseball...
Still loving baseball…
Catcher all grown up
Catcher all grown up
High school graduation
High school graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caleb – Graduated from Millennium High School in May.

He was the All-District catcher and was selected for the Div. I All-Star game at Goodyear Ballpark, where he got 3 hits and had a wonderful night.

He was awarded the MHS Spirit award, as he showed up in support at almost every game of every team, leading cheers and organizing theme nights.

He was Prom and Winter Formal King, President of the Fellowship of Christian Students, and such a bright light on his campus.

One highlight was a senior trip with 3 Texas friends up the coast of California and to Yosemite.

He has always been independent, and that really came out in his ability to drive himself to Oklahoma in August and begin at Oklahoma Baptist University in the fall as a freshman International Business major and baseball player.

He is serving on the leadership team of his local church.  On the weekends he often makes the 2-hour drive to Nana and Pap’s house outside of Tulsa, where he gets spoiled with banana nut bread, steak dinners and quail hunting.


Loving his new camera at Laguna Beach
Loving his new camera at Laguna Beach
On the soccer field
On the soccer field
KJ & Micah ran together their first half marathon
KJ & Micah ran together their first half marathon
One of his favorite things is when Ben comes for a visit or when he goes to TX to visit Ben!
One of his favorite things is when Ben comes for a visit or when he goes to TX to visit Ben!
Lettered in soccer as a freshman and even received the Tiger Award
Lettered in soccer as a freshman and even received the Tiger Award

Micah – A sophomore at MHS and amazing photographer. He purchased a really nice camera this year and has been wow-ing us with his photos.

He is the President of Fellowship of Christian Students, a second-year member of the MHS Scholastic Bowl team, lettered in soccer and tennis his freshman year. He even was honored with the  “Tiger Award” by his coach. His tennis team of mostly freshmen had fun going to State and anticipates great years ahead.

His time is pretty tied up with studies for AP classes this year, but he finds time to have fun with photography and his microscope with any free time…and doing pushups! He started at 50 pushups and added one a day for 150 days, getting to where he could do 200 consecutive pushups. We’re talking buff.

With 3 brothers now out of the house, Micah got his own room, which is decorated with canvases of his own photography and serves him well for his studies.

Micah truly lives out his namesake verse: Micah 6:8 – What does the Lord require of you? To love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with your

Senior Caleb came out to support lil bro Micah in his Scholastic Bowl meet.
Senior Caleb came out to support lil bro Micah in his Scholastic Bowl meet.

God.


Kare-bear Karis
Kare-bear Karis
She's fast!
She’s fast!
Mother's Day
Mother’s Day
8th Grade Graduation and such an honor to receive this award from the faculty
8th Grade Graduation and such an honor to receive this award from the faculty
Loves to draw
Loves to draw
Hanging out with Karly
Hanging out with Karly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karis – A freshman at MHS. She and Micah ran their first half marathon in February.

At 8th grade graduation Karis received the Dolphin Award, the faculty-picked top award of Western Sky MS.

She was selected as MVP of the WSMS basketball team, was the co-President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Her club soccer team won a number of tournaments. And her 4×400 track team absolutely smoked 26 other teams.

At MHS she is enjoying being on the Scholastic Bowl Team, playing soccer, and leading in the Fellowship of Christian Students.

Most groups she is in end up calling her Kare-bear. Her caring ways come through in all that she does.


Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach, CA
He's a runner! Great at soccer, too!
He’s a runner! Great at soccer, too!
Finally...we ALL have the last name Stull!
Finally…we ALL have the last name Stull!
Fishing with Dad at Wind River Ranch, Estes Park, CO
Fishing with Dad at Wind River Ranch, Estes Park, CO
Made Mom cry this day -- brought home straight A's in 7th grade honors classes!
Made Mom cry this day — brought home straight A’s in 7th grade honors classes!

John – A 7th grader at WSMS. Has progressed amazingly with his studies, and is now making straight A’s in honors classes.

He has also grown 12 inches in the past 2 years!

He has become a force on both his middle school and club soccer teams, and he made the basketball team this year.

John earned the “full of life” award at Sky Ranch camp last summer, due to his abounding energy.

He saved up and bought his own Xbox.

Both he and Mariama were baptized this last year.

He loves being around people, is caring and helpful, and Mom loves all the hugs he gives. He also whips up a great breakfast. Buttermilk pancakes, fancy omelets, and bacon? No problem!


Our accessory girl
Our accessory girl
She can make anything into a stage
She can make anything into a stage
A music note pillowcase surprise Mari made for Derek
A music note pillowcase surprise Mari made for Derek
One of Mari's 5K's with Girls on the Run. KJ was her running buddy for this one.
One of Mari’s 5K’s with Girls on the Run. KJ was her running buddy for this one.
She can't stand the thought of doing anything without fashion...even fishing!
She can’t stand the thought of doing anything without fashion…even fishing!
Mari's pink pup
Mari’s pink pup
A Red Carpet birthday party to remember
A Red Carpet birthday party to remember

Mariama – a 4th grader at Litchfield Elementary School.

With this girl’s over-the-top passion and creativity, we never know what a day will bring and she definitely keeps us on our toes!

Her highlights were her red carpet birthday party, getting her own room, and going on a trip with Mom to Plexus convention this summer.

We remodeled our former dining room into a bedroom for her, complete with the requested chandelier and canopy with lights.

Drama is her life. If its not there, she finds a way to create it. We look forward to when she can put this drama to good use on the stage. Watch for her either on Broadway or rising as a Youtube celebrity when we allow her to start posting the hundreds of videos she has created.

She is gifted with working with small children – she adores them and they adore her. Truly a Pied Piper. Put her in a room with 3 preschoolers and she immediately becomes an adult!

She took some sewing classes this year, crafting a few pillow cases and a bag.

She also played soccer and ran in two 5k’s through the Girls on the Run Program at her school.

Personality plus.


Laguna with kids over fall break
Laguna with kids over fall break
Laguna Beach 26th Anniversary Trip
Laguna Beach 26th Anniversary Trip
At 11,427' - Hiking in Estes Park, CO.
At 11,427′ – Hiking in Estes Park, CO.
CA Anniversary Trip - night at Pageant of the Masters
CA Anniversary Trip – night at Pageant of the Masters

Brenna has never flown more in a year. This past year the Stulls had lots of celebrations, with 3 graduations (college, high school and middle school) within 6 days…in two states!

Summer was blessed to have time with family and friends in Colorado at Wind River Ranch again. Our kids enjoyed quality time with each set of grandparents, and the youngest 4 were blessed with a week at Sky Ranch Camp while Chris and Brenna visited friends in Laguna Beach, CA, to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary.

Fall trips visiting Dillon at Duke University, seeing Derek in his fall musical at DBU, getting to speak at an OBU alumni event and see Caleb and many Oklahoma friends, earning a 3-day trip with Plexus to Leader’s Retreat and being able to take her Mom as a guest, flying into Dallas with Chris to do a wedding and enjoying time as a couple and special life moments with extended family.

Excited to win first place in the 2016 Shamrock Farms Thanksgiving Triathlon in Goodyear, AZ.

She is finding great joy in her work — continuing to speak for women’s retreats, conferences, and moms groups occasionally. She is spending the bulk of her time as a health coach sharing products that have been life-changing for her health, and it is her joy to see other people’s lives also change as people gain new freedoms to live out their God-given passions and purposes.


Sharing a message
Sharing a message
Doing a wedding at the Nash Museum in Dallas, TX
Doing a wedding at the Nash Museum in Dallas, TX
Pastor for the week at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, CO
Pastor for the week at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, CO
He's a great catch! ;)
He’s a great catch! 😉

Chris – the long-suffering father dealing with a plethora of car troubles that started in May with all 6 of our cars. In spite of doing everything that could be done with having all cars tuned up, between May and October the cars were in mechanic shops in Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Phoenix, Amarillo, and Dallas…at least one or more times. Chris has proven to be a patient and steadfast leader to just do the next thing that needs to be done to fix the latest problem.

Highlights: Easter at Wellspring Church, heading up a Good Friday Breakfast at the Wigwam Resort that included 61 pastors. It sold out at 750 seats 8 days before the event.  Adding staff at Wellspring Church and rallying area pastors to unite for the Kingdom.

Serving as chaplain for the Royals and writing papers and studying for seminary classes keep him busy.

Found time to take kids out to fish, hunt dove, went deer hunting in TX.

This fall, he and Brenna had the opportunity to lead a marriage conference for a wonderful church in Texas.

And over Fall break he took the family to the beautiful California coast! Micah captured our time with his new camera and put together a video: https://youtu.be/vRjX-SZVX0I


Our lives are full and we thank God for His many blessings. Our greatest gift of all is our deep, abiding and eternal relationship with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We pray you and yours know that same joy.

Now here’s to 2017! “Teach us to number our days aright, O Lord, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

 

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The 30-Day Affirmation Challenge

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D
Unknown-1eclare it. Speak it out. Say it. These messages have been at my every turn the last few months. I believe the Lord is telling me it is important not just to believe truths, read truths, meditate on truths, but also to speak truths. Out loud. “ In the Bible it says, “Declare a thing and it will be done” (Job 22:28). That implies a direct correlation between speaking something and it being done.

For me, these last months have been a call to action. I put together a list of 10 scriptural affirmations that I am speaking multiple times a day, touching on areas that I want to live victoriously. I have only been doing this a couple of weeks and it has been powerful in my life. I am encouraged. I am filled to overflowing. I am caring for others in new ways.

I got so excited about it that I made a custom set of scriptural affirmation suggestions for each of my family members so that they might have readily available some scripture affirmations to speak. I am challenging them to decide on their list of at least 5-10 affirmations and then speak them multiple times a day for 30 days to see what might happen.

You know I can’t just challenge my family in this. Friend, I love and care for you too much to let you miss out on this exciting opportunity! I am including my *affirmations below and then some extra ones, so that you might have some to choose from. Practical challenge: Download the “Repeat It Again” app on your smartphone and record at least 5-10 affirmations, then listen to them multiple times a day for 30 days. Or if you don’t have a smartphone, print and post your affirmations in your bathroom, in your kitchen, and at your desk for you to see and speak daily. Maybe you might even ask your family members to join you in this challenge?

Try it! Then let me know how it goes.

Col-3-e1420051752146

Because I obey Jesus I remain in his love and have great joy. John 15:10-11

As I follow Jesus and walk in his way of holiness, gladness and joy overtake me. Isaiah 35:8-10

God keeps me in perfect peace because I trust in Him and fix my thoughts on Him. Isaiah 26:3

I thank God for considering me faithful, appointing me to His service of sharing and caring for people in life-changing ways, spiritually as well as physically. I Tim. 1:12

As I consciously put others first, I am learning to serve like Jesus.  Phil. 2:5. Ways I honor others are by swiftly returning messages and by being 10 minutes early to appointments.

My kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones of others. Proverbs 16:24

I am enriched in every way so that I can be generous on every occasion, which results in thanksgiving to God. 2 Cor. 9:11

God is able to do immeasurably more in my life than I could ever imagine. Ephesians 3:20

I trust my hopes and dreams to God.  Psalm 119:116

God is faithful. He’ll complete the good work that he has begun in me. Philippians 1:6

Aren’t those power-packed? Here are some others that I included in at least one or more of the affirmations I gave my children:

In God I live and move and exist. Acts 17:28

Because I place my hope in God, I can soar like an eagle, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

God keeps me in perfect peace because I trust in Him and fix my thoughts on Him. Isaiah 26:3

I live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 12:7

I am able to keep my ways pure, but only by living according to God’s Word. Psalm 119:9

I run along the paths of God’s commands because He has set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

The Lord stands at my side and gives me strength to share his Good News with others. 2 Timothy 4:17

As I cast my cares and burdens to God, He sustains me and I have peace. Psalm 55:22

As I wait on the Lord and am courageous, God will strengthen my heart. Psalm 27:14

The power of God works through me as I affirm that it’s His treasure inside this jar of clay. 2 Corinthians 4:7

I run along the paths of God’s commands because He has set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

The Lord stands at my side and gives me strength to share his Good News with others. 2 Timothy 4:17

I set my heart and mind on things above, not earthly things. This gives me peace. Colossians 3:1-2

I guard my heart because it determines the course of my life. Proverbs 4:23

I try to spend time with wise people. This helps me become even wiser. Proverbs 13:20

The fruit I produce brings great joy to God, my Father in Heaven. John 15:8

I give thanks to God because he is good and his love endures forever. Jeremiah 33:11

When I call out to God He answers me. He tells me things I wouldn’t know otherwise. Jeremiah 33:3

I set my heart and mind on things above, not earthly things. This gives me peace. Colossians 3:1-2

I guard my heart because it determines the course of my life. Proverbs 4:23

I worship the Lord my God and serve only him. Luke 4:8

I know that God cares for me and will meet my needs because I am precious to Him. Matthew 6:25-44

I know that God’s unfailing love surrounds me and that I can trust Him. Psalm 23:10

The Lord is my good Shepherd. He provides for all of my needs. Psalm 23:1

The “fullness of God” is available to me because I am deeply rooted in the love of Jesus. Ephesians 3:17-19

*Many of the scriptures are either from or adapted from faithandhealingconnection.org.

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The Difference Team Spirit Makes

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IMG_4300The Lord uses my kids so often to teach and inspire me. Today I want to focus on my high school senior Caleb. Though I am proud of his personal accomplishments and successes in his own endeavors, I am especially proud of the way he has dedicated himself this last year to cheer on others in their endeavors. Sensing a lack of enthusiasm and support in the student body for his high school and its teams, Caleb took it upon himself to make and lead a spirit section at school games and events. He often walks table to table at lunch and encourages people to come to that evening’s sport event, many times sharing a theme for the student section. IMG_4296

Themes have been everything from school colors, U.S.A., and Hawaiian to businessman, geriatric, white out, and black out. He has held his “Tommy the Tiger” stuffed animal up on a stick and led students to cheer at everything from football and volleyball games to men’s and women’s basketball and soccer games. He leads in positive chants to encourage their teams. He has also been supportive of the MHS scholastic bowl team by attending their meets.  He was recently voted the “Most Spirited” student of his high school.IMG_4297

It’s amazing what a little encouragement and cheering does for a team. Through his God-given gifts of leadership and evangelism he is literally changing the atmosphere of his public school, which sits in the middle of a dry and thirsty land both physically and spiritually. Millennium High School’s school spirit is soaring, thanks to his impact. And I think through encouraging others, he’s pretty encouraged himself.

I want to propose to you that if you are a mom then you are the coach of your home team. You set the pace and the tone, you cheer others toward their goals as you reach your own, and you give the pep talk at the end of a hard day when a team member is discouraged. You can move your team toward victory in every area of life by the daily seemingly insignificant things you do: gather the family around the table for family dinner, place an encouraging note in a lunchbox, or say a prayer over your child at bedtime. IMG_4298

Hang in there, Mom. And keep cheering! Find the positives to praise in the midst of weaknesses and speak truth against those lies your children are being told by their peers and our culture every day. Take the time to get to know each of your children and know what “Tommy Tiger on a stick” you can hold up on their behalf. Your consistent cheers will change the atmosphere of your home. And I think through making a daily habit of dishing out daily doses of encouragement you will find yourself pretty encouraged on the journey.

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2015 Stull Family Reflections

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This year’s was inspired by a question recently posed by Micah, “What one word best summarizes you?”

 

ChrisLEAD. Leading…our family to love and live for Christ, Wellspring Church toward Christ the Living Water, city pastors toward unity, seminary classmates toward wisdom for the road ahead.

Highlights: Wellspring Church moved to new location: better visibility, larger room for worship services, more children’s rooms available, better courtyard area…coming up on 2 year anniversary (come celebrate with us Sunday, January 31!) Gathering area pastors for exhilarating meetings. Spearheading a Good Friday Breakfast at the Wigwam Resort that involved more than 29 churches and 300 community leaders. Hunting trip with friend Doug who killed nice 5×5 bull elk.

Version 2


 

Brenna INSPIRE. Inspiring…family members and women to realize the love of Christ and to commit themselves to walking with God each day as an instrument in His hands, others to embrace each day with joy and live with intentionality. Inspiring others to better physical, spiritual, and emotional health.

Highlights: Twelve days with Chris in Maui and Kauai celebrating 25th anniversary. The whole family traveling two times to see Derek as the lead in musicals at DBU. Wednesday night and Thursday morning Bible studies with the women of Wellspring Church. Placing in the Litchfield Park Triathlon. Accidental shortcut on Thanksgiving Day triathlon to finish first in age bracket…until confession led to disqualification. Seeing friends and family’s health issues go away after getting on the natural products of the health & wellness company she is now representing.

B1


 

Dillon – FOCUS. Focused on…classes, leadership at Baylor University, important friendships, on his future plans, and first and foremost on the Lord.

Highlights: Being a Fulbright semi-finalist. (If he gets selected, he will have the chance to study next year in Scotland at the University of Aberdeen, all expenses paid.) Also being awarded a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship that pays for a year of studies abroad. (He is waiting to hear if he is accepted into Oxford’s Christian Ethics program.) Other highlights included induction into Phi Beta Kappa honor society this past fall semester, his senior year at Baylor University. Founded Christian Pre-Health Fellowship, a new club at Baylor that encourages pre-med majors with dreams of being medical missionaries. He also enjoyed a road trip with friends across Canada and the Northwest United States. He presented to Dallas hospital CMOs a discovery he made while serving as a summer intern at Baylor Hospital (where his momma was born!) Dillon’s discovery could save the hospital some big bucks this next year.

D2


 

DerekENGAGE. Engaged with people…leading them in worship, encouraging them, hugging them, having fun and laughing with them, and entertaining them.

Highlights: DBU gave Derek the opportunity to play two lead roles this last year in their musicals: Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and Jesus in “Godspell”. He was also awarded top freshman male of the year in the music department at DBU. Surprising fact: Derek’s favorite class this year was Music Theory III (hard work in those early years in piano are paying off now!) He continues to serve as a worship leader at Shiloh Terrace BC in Dallas (the church his momma grew up in), and also works at DBU in the music office. In his spare time he rides his unicycles and runs sprint triathlons.

 

Version 4


 

CalebIMPACT. Impacting…the family with his great sense of humor, his school through his leadership in Student Council and other organizations, his baseball team, at Wellspring as he engages people in multiple ways – greeting, handing out bulletins, taking the count each week, working in preschool, leading the offering team, leading and sometimes speaking in youth group and continuing to be one of Wellspring’s best inviters.

Highlights: Caleb’s club team the Gauchos winning the U18 Gold Division of the USSSA Winter Nationals Super NIT, one of the biggest baseball tournaments in the U.S., as it is a qualifier for the World Series! (Caleb was the catcher and one of his best friends was the pitcher, so it was pretty special!) Getting a homerun in Goodyear Ballpark, home of the Reds and Indians. Hiking trips in Sedona with a friend. Earning a spot in MHS’s Spartan Army by proving himself through some grueling athletic feats. Setting records in the MHS weight room.

C1


 

MicahTHINK. Thinking about…building new machines out of spare electronic parts and batteries, more efficient ways to do things, new math concepts, solutions to problems, interesting facts, ways to improve his game, ways we can serve the Lord better. Basically…so many things to learn, so little time.

Highlights: Graduating from middle school and receiving the top student of the school award and top male FITKid award, which recognizes character, academic, and physical fitness. Voted MVP of WSMS Soccer Team, most improved player on WSMS basketball team, and won some area tennis tournaments. He also was awarded top scorer of the district in math. As a freshman this year at MHS he made the school’s Scholastic Bowl team, was voted Homecoming Count, is captain of the JV soccer team, and plays up with the varsity team when needed (even started as a forward in a recent tourney).

M2


 

KarisCARE. Caring for…family members 24/7 in a myriad of ways, mostly through encouraging words and service, peers in school, whomever she encounters with special needs, people by greeting and working with preschool children on Sundays at Wellspring Church. But somehow, she is able to be over-the-top caring and also a tenacious competitor on the field.

Highlights: Being chosen as the female recipient of the FITKIDs award at her school. Enjoying winning some tournaments with her club soccer team, winning the district championship a second time with WSMS girls’ soccer, playing basketball, running track and playing tennis. She was also able to travel again to Tennessee over fall break to visit the Wolford family, dear friends we met through Wind River Ranch.

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John INQUIRE. Inquiring about…the schedule for the day and week, the menu of the next meal, science facts, what is going on, the culture, details of our family members’ lives.

Highlights: Loved Wind River Ranch. He also enjoyed his first Phoenix Suns basketball game with Caleb this fall. John is enjoying sports – played recreational soccer in the spring, swim team during summer, and basketball in the fall and winter. By his second season playing soccer, he was such a dominant goal-scorer that his coach had to move him to defense after the first quarter of nearly every game in order to keep him from embarrassing the other teams.

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Mariama CREATE. Creating….fancy out-of-this-world outfits and accessories for herself and her dolls, tasty soups over rice, videos that include instructions on how to make doll clothes, do yoga, and her latest songs.

Highlights: Mariama drastically brought up her online reading grades, earning a 100 percent party, which included good food and good friends. Mariama participated on summer swim team and played soccer in the fall. She earned her first trophy this month when her soccer team won the end of the season tournament. Weeks before receiving a sewing machine for Christmas (or having her first sewing lesson!), she had friends eagerly anticipating her promised designer dresses full of frills, colors, and sparkles.

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One word for our family: CHRIST. Without salvation through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, we would have no hope, no peace, no purpose, no future. He is our everything and we try to live each and every day in a way as to honor Him and love more people into His Kingdom. Our greatest prayer for you is that you would also know the truth and that the truth would set you free to be everything that God created you to be and do everything God created you to do.

We live full-to-overflowing lives – we have a growing church, the practices and games of 8 sports teams, 2-3 loads of laundry every day (and a basket mounded with unmatched socks), a grocery cart that usually includes 7 gallons of milk and 6 dozen eggs, and a dinner table that often seats at least a dozen people. We thank God for each of these things, and his provision for each day and each moment in that day.

God’s best to you, in you and through you in 2016!

 

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Cinnamon Tea Ring

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937036Had it not been for the invention of the breadmaker, I am not sure I would have had the patience to carry on this lovely and delicious holiday tradition. But with this tool, it is fast and fairly easy. True confession: I have 5 breadmakers (most passed on to me by friends), and I typically use them in groups of at least 3 to make the most of my mess and efforts. Here is one of my most requested recipes.

 

 

 

Ingredients

2 ¼ tsp. yeast

4 ¼ c. bread flour

¼ c. sugar

heaping tsp. salt

2 eggs

1/3 c. oil

1 c. milk

½ c. water

You wil also need: cinnamon, sugar, powdered sugar, and milk. Pecans are optional.

Directions

Add the 8 ingredients into your breadmaker in the order listed. Set on “manual” or “dough” mode and press “start”.

When dough is ready (about 1.5 hours later), divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll each into an oblong rectangle about 15”x9”. Melt 3+ Tablespoons of butter and spread. Mix 1 c. sugar and 1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon, and sprinkle some on the rectangles. (We save leftover cinnamon sugar for cinnamon toast.) Optional: Chop ½ c. pecans and sprinkle on. Roll beginning at the wide side. Pinch together to hold in roll. Form into ring and pinch, then cut 2/3 way through at 1 inch intervals. Turn each on its side to fan pieces out. Let rise 15-30 minutes (optional), and bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden. After cooling, drizzle with thick icing mixture made of powdered sugar and milk.

This will make 3 tea rings that fit on 10-inch plates. You may also make one jumbo ring instead of dividing the dough into thirds to make 3 rings.

*To make large cinnamon rolls instead of rings, simply roll, pinch, and cut into 1 inch slices. I like to use fishing line for easy slicing. (Place line under the roll one inch from the end and wrap around and cross, to slice.)

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Slow Cooker Spicy Marinara Chicken and Vegetables

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This is a family favorite and staple meal at the Stull house. In the morning, throw all the ingredients for this easy recipe in the slow cooker. A hearty and healthy dinner will be waiting for you when you get home. Whenever we make this for company, they almost always ask for the recipe.

Preparation: 7 minutes
Time to Cook: 6 hours
Number of Servings: 8

Ingredients
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
breasts
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cans Rotel diced tomatoes
4 medium ribs celery, diced (1 cup)
2 small zucchini, diced (2 cups)
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 jalepenos, seeded and diced (optional for more spice)
1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme

Directions
1. Place the chicken in the slow cooker; add the
garlic, Rotel tomatoes, celery, zucchini, and peppers.
Pour the marinara sauce over all, and sprinkle
the basil and thyme on top. Also sprinkle salt and pepper.
2. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 6
to 7 hours. Before serving, shred the chicken
with a fork.

Serve over cooked rice.

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High Heel Hiking

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On a recent three-day trip to the mountains, I failed to check the kids’ suitcases.

Ten minutes down the road I glanced down at my youngest daughter’s feet and noticed she was wearing her white dressy heels. (You would have thought I might notice this before, especially since she was also wearing a fancy dress.)

“You packed other shoes, right?” I asked.

“No.”

“Not even flip flops?” Not only had she not packed any play shoes, but she hadn’t packed undies, pajamas or her toothbrush.

But there she sat with her doll on her lap, and surrounded by her doll stroller, doll backpack, and doll beauty salon chair! It cost us about a half hour in the turn around, but thankfully we were able to get her tennis shoes and everything else she needed before leaving town. When we arrived at our destination, we opened up her suitcase to find the doll’s entire wardrobe complete with all the accessories! (She hadn’t missed a thing!)

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What a great reminder to have packing lists on your computer to print up bfore vacations or short trips. The lists will save time and empower your kids to do more for themselves (which will free up time for you).

A sample list from our Colorado trip:

  • Jeans (3-4)
  • Shorts (5)
  • Shirts (7)
  • Underwear (7)
  • Socks (7)
  • PJ’s (2)
  • Western shirt/square dance outfit
  • Sweatshirt (1)
  • Jacket
  • Tennis shoes (2)
  • Boots
  • Cowboy hat
  • Flip flops (1)
  • Swimsuit(s), goggles, cap, towels
  • Workout clothes
  • Hat or visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Flashlight
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel, lip balm, etc.
  • Vitamins/medicine
  • Hair bows/bands
  • Bible, pen, devotional
  • Water bottle to carry for the week
  • Sunday clothes: girls: dresses, guys: khaki pants/polo shirt
  • Tennis racquets and balls, baseball gloves/baseball,
  • Hammocks/spike ball/slack line
  • Camelbacks for hikes
  • Camera (and charger/extra batteries)
  • Stuff for car: pillow, snack bag, books, magazines, backpack
  • DVD’s and Mom’s laptop
  • Note to mom:
  • Hostess gifts
  • Notecards
  • Stop mail
  • Speedy – instructions, crate, bowls, food, treats, leash
  • First aid kit
  • Extra trash bags
  • Bags for dirty clothes
  • Laundry soap
  • Fanny pack
  • Use hitch-all and car topper.
  • Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues and paper towels for car

For trips we make regularly, I like to list favorite restaurants, rest stops, and hotels we enjoy.

Children can lay out their items, and then (as the high-heel sotry would remind us) mom can check itmes off the list as they are packed in their bags.

Happy packing!

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