Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Family Christmas Letter 2017

Dear Family & Friends,

Well, it’s that time of year again where we look back onto the year almost gone by. We relive each joy while remembering each tear. We’ve had some awesome highs and some very heartbreaking lows this year. Exciting firsts and fun in the familiar! Failed plans that didn’t quite work out, but hopes for bigger and better next time around! Like everyone else we’ve experienced pretty much a roller coaster of emotions and adventures this year! Things that grow us as individuals and also as a family! We pray this year has been good to all of you...We pray that even with the lows, you’ve experienced treasured highs!

This is only our second Family Christmas Letter and I’m still no expert at how this is done...Haha! So bear with me as I take you on our family’s 2017 journey…

Victoria - Our adult child is 19 years old and her year off has come to an end! She is now a Freshman in college! She is majoring in Theater and minoring in Social Work...a couple months ago that was switched around the other way...Haha! Her year off though was a very full one! She found a different job working with children and is fantastic at it! She completed a year of Religious Studies! She also performed in the musical Beauty and the Beast as one of those “silly girls” who have a crush on Gaston! In addition to attending college and working, she’s also added dance classes to her schedule...She likes being busy! Victoria also has a young man in her life...His name is Jacob and they’ve been an item for a little over a year now. He’s alright...I guess! Haha...No, he’s a good kid and we’re happy for them! They actually met while they were both in high school in band class. I guess he thought she was pretty cute then but was just too shy to let her know...Awwwwwe...Sooo cute, right? Anyway when she went to work at our local theater, he also worked there as a supervisor. He’s a year older than she is. So Jacob got his second chance and they quickly became friends and then fell in love...Gross, I know...but sweet at the same time! I’m a bit more ok with this whole thing than dad is though...Haha!
On a more serious note, our precious girl has contracted Lyme disease. This will now always be a part of her. At the moment it’s in a sort of dormant state and hopefully will remain that way! People often go their whole lives living with Lyme and it never ever flares up as long as they manage their health correctly. Through friends we found a great specialist and are thankful! Please pray for her continued good health!

Jordan - Just turned 17 years old this month! He also got his driver’s license this month too! Gasp...Ahhh...Not ready for that just yet! He’s a Junior now in high school and is involved in all things band! If band was an olympic sport, he’d get all the medals!!! He auditioned for and made it into the highest level of the high school bands which is called Wind Ensemble. Of course he was very involved with Marching Band again this year and they were awesome as always! This year he is participating with both jazz and pep bands as well. He is also involved in an after school student led instrumental music group which holds different events in and around our community. Basically his view is, “Band is life!” He does have some other interests outside of band...but just a smidge...Haha! He’s taking a marketing class and is still learning business stuff so that he can take over the world one day! He also seems to have the gift of bartering...which has been interesting! We’ll see where that leads...Haha! He’s also started taking Spanish online recently just because he enjoys it.

Kaylie - Will be 15 in a few months and is now a Freshman in high school! It’s crazy to think this girl is already in high school! Continuing with her love of art, she is still very involved and taking art classes this year. She is quite creative and very talented! She’s even taking an advanced art class! This past year she was involved with the high school’s winter drumline. She was a part of their actor/movement line and played one of their spooky shadows! The drumline had one of their best years and not only scored first place at State Finals but made it to World Finals and placed 5th! This is a pretty huge deal! We were all very excited for her and them!

Grace - Is about to be 13 years old here in just a minute! Ahhh...Not another teenager!!! She’s in the 7th grade and is in a different middle school this year, than last. She’s having a wonderful new school year so far! She says the best yet! She’s involved in Choir which has a lot to do with her positivity and happiness!!! She’s made some new friends and is looking forward to new adventures! She loves homemade everything...from cookies to glittery slime...Haha! She’s thinking about auditioning for the school’s talent show this Spring, for which she’s been practicing a couple different songs. I’m sure she’ll make, she has a great voice! She’d also really love to learn how to play the ukulele!

Isabella - Is 11 years old and in the 5th grade. She still totally wants to be a professional drummer and skateboarder one day! Which you can tell by her love for Converse and backwards baseball caps...Haha! She’s still very involved with softball and her scouting troop with the American Heritage Girls. Her softball team came in second place this year after working very hard during the Playoffs and Championship games! And, she even earned her softball pin for which she worked towards for two years for the American Heritage Girls! She also had quite the exciting year in her walk with the Lord. She was finally baptized after a few years of asking to be and has faithfully joined me in sidewalk counseling. There are days where she gets me up and says, “Come on, let’s go! Let’s go save babies and help Moms!” Her servant heart is very special!

Joshua - Is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade. He is all about anything and everything Star Wars or Minecraft! From video games to Lego sets and even drawing free hand different scenes with amazing details! This boy is seriously talented! He’s finally grown out of Thomas the Train, but sometimes will pretend to hold on just a bit longer for mom and dad’s sake...haha! He participated in baseball over the summer again and did super awesome, but then participated during the fall season and really wasn’t that excited...Haha! I’m thinking maybe it could have been because there was older boys playing too and that threw him off. He may or may not continue this upcoming season...we’ll see! Joshua also had a big year...He was baptized as well! He was very excited and giggled the whole time! It really was so precious!

Bryanna - Our youngest little lady is 6 and ¾...Haha! Technically a bit older, but I’m not going to argue with her! She’s in the 1st grade and full of very loud energy...very very loud! She’s like dynamite...small but explosive...Haha! She’s got this girly girl side served with a nice sized helping of out of control! Like her two front teeth...She knocked them both out at different times, so by like 4 she had no top front teeth! I figured that by the time her adult teeth started growing in, she’d be a more calmer and gentler girl...Ha! Nope! This Summer as soon as one of those teeth started coming in...And I’m talking just a tiny little nub was poking through her gums, she busted her mouth against the monkey bars and chipped her tooth! Her adult tooth...actually just a tiny little nub...Sigh! Anyway our dentist fixed it and it looks ok, but holy moly! She’s our stunt fear! She’s also continuing with dance and softball and is involved with the American Heritage Girls as well. Our little stinker was also baptized and is very excited to learn and grow more and more in the Lord!

John - Our tiniest handsome is a whole 16 months old! Whew...That went by sooo fast...Too fast! This year he hit many milestones and experienced all sorts of firsts! His first foods, first words, first crawls, first tooth, first stands, first walks, first runs and jumps...and even climbs! Sigh...My heart is treasuring and savoring it all!!! He’s seeming more and more like a big boy than our little baby boy as each month passes. But, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be stuck with being the “baby” forever...Haha! He’s pretty babied by everyone and has lots of us to meet his every demand! Which he isn’t very shy about voicing! He’s quite the character! He loves music and dancing! He could be totally asleep, but if he can hear some jams, he’ll start dancing in his sleep! He loves cars, trucks and of course Thomas! Our little guy was baptized this year as well...What a gift from God!

Gary - He has had lots of adventures with his business...A good friend also became his partner, new employees, new clients and just this month he got an office! He does still work from home, but most of his work day is now at the office not too far away. It’s an exciting part of the growth God is doing! He’s also started a new fitness routine...We want to make sure he sticks around for a very looong time! We kinda like him!
Heartbreakingly this Summer, in July Gary’s dad Fred took his own life. This has been very hard on him and his family, as you could imagine. Gary goes through waves of emotions...Please be in prayer for him, his siblings and their families.

Me (Christina) - I’m still homeschooling the youngest kiddos and love it! Yes, there are days I’d like to quit my job, change my name and run away to some tropical island somewhere, but most days I wouldn’t change a thing! My heart health is good and I have graduated to going in to the heart dr’s office only twice a year now instead of 3 or 4! My favorite things in the world are anything and everything that has to do with my grande sized family! They keep me busy busy busy and I wouldn’t trade that for anything!

Our family wishes nothing but happiness for you and yours this new year! May you all have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! 

Lots of Love, 
- The Morris Crew 
Gary, Christina (Tina), Victoria, Jordan, Kaylie, Grace, Isabella, Joshua, Bryanna & John 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Superhero Wears Scrubs And A Stethoscope

4 years ago today, I collapsed in a high school parking lot and my heart completely stopped...

But, that's not the end of my story!

Ok so I arrived at my 15 year old daughter's (now 19) high school and pulled into a parking spot with my 3 youngest kiddos ages 2, 4 and 6 at the time. I volunteered to help get the marching band ready for the football game. I was supposed to help with my daughter and the rest of the color guard's hair. It was a super stinking cute hair style too! But well, as soon as I got out of the truck, I collapsed instead! I have absolutely no memory of that day...or even that week! I got the gist though...from my daughter and 3 littlest, fellow band parents and band kids that were all there. A couple (my daughter's best friend's parents...also band parents) ran right over to me and the kids and called 911. Then I'm told another woman ran over...a parent of some sports kid maybe? Maybe even an ICU nurse or something? Anyway, she started performing CPR. I'm told she could only get my heart to flutter but she stayed with me and wouldn't give up. Eventually two police officers got to the scene and had to use a defibrillator which got things jump started...and then once the paramedics got there, they had to hit me again...Ugh! Ya, sounds not so fun...Thank God I was out and have no recollection of any of it! Anyway, long story short...This maybe nurse and her quick actions ultimately saved my life, I hear!

After recovering from all that went on with that event...Coma, Arctic Sun, waking up in complete confusion, fear, memory loss, sooo many tests, an implanted defibrillator and so much more...I really wanted to find this nurse. I asked my doctor if I could possibly get any information. There was really nothing and it seemed like maybe she either didn't work anywhere local, no one knew anything about her...or maybe she didn't even exist! My daughter kept saying that maybe she was really an angel...Haha!

I was able to meet and thank the police officers who were there that day, but I always wondered about this nurse. I prayed and thanked God for her...I was so comforted that He sovereignly placed her at the right place at the right time! She was my hero that I would never meet, but who I was so incredibly grateful for!

Fast forward almost 3 years later...August 10, 2016...

3:30 am...Ahhh...Sooo much pain...Oh crap...My water just broke!!!

Hold on...Wait...Let me give that back story...Haha!

So obviously, I was pregnant. Now, I really wasn't even supposed to be pregnant. You know with the whole heart stuff going on. This was definitely considered a high risk pregnancy because of my heart, but then also because I just recently lost a previous pregnancy. (That story is here, in case you'd like to read about him) Well, I was REALLY freaking out! I was worried about this baby's life and also really worried about my own life! Would this baby be ok? Would I be ok? Would my other kiddos lose their mom? Would my husband lose his wife? Very early into the pregnancy I started seeing a specialist high risk dr. She was awesome! I felt very safe and comfortable...I felt confident that we were in the right hands. I trusted her completely! We even waited to tell anyone about the pregnancy until we felt confident...With baby's health and also my heart health. We wanted to make sure that our loved ones felt at ease and wanted them to share in our joy instead of having fear. (You can read that announcement here) I was a bit nervous on the distance though. It took us almost an hour to get there and most of my labors were fairly was less than 35 minutes! But, we discussed that with her and planned on just making sure I paid close attention to my body (haha...or as best as I possibly could). I felt comfortable knowing she'd be with me and help me through the whole birthing process. Weeell, then at one of my appointments in my 7th month I learn that I was wrong...She would NOT be the birthing dr. like I thought. She was just the high risk dr...GASP...What?! There went my total confidence! But, she quickly made sure to tell me that the other dr's were completely wonderful and fully capable to handle this...heart problems and all. Ugh...I pretended to feel confident as I flashed a half smile. I soon after had scheduled a meeting with nursing staff, ob dr's, heart dr's, anesthesiologists, etc... for a birthing plan. Not one of them was convincing that they were able to handle my needs! My husband and I started feeling very nervous. I had nightmares almost every night...I was beyond nervous...I was terrified! I prayed so hard...God please take care of this...Please protect this baby...Please protect me! All of a sudden I felt at peace...I trusted Him.

Days later I get a call from the hospital...They are not comfortable with me giving birth in their facility with my heart conditions and all that would need to go along with that. Long Sigh...VERY long sigh...I prayed...

I got up and decide to call my electrophysiologist's office. When I am transferred to his assistant I tell her, through many tears, my situation. See, their office is located at the hospital which is less than 10 minutes away from my home. And at this very same hospital just downstairs from my heart dr is an obgyn group that I also went to for my previous pregnancies. I'm just grasping at anything and hoping I can maybe get my heart dr to say he'll help the ob dr if there's an emergency with me if the ob dr would pretty please just accept me back as a patient cause I'm totally lost and all out of options! Well there was some hoops to jump through but it totally worked and they all agreed...Praise God!!!

Ok, whew! Now that you're up to speed...Ahhh...My water just broke!!!

I spring out of bed and in a sleepy exhausted daze start barking orders to my shaken awake husband. We rush to the hospital...This is it...This is totally it! We are nervous...but excited. Maybe more nervous. I faked bravery the whole pregnancy...I had nightmares of this moment and here it finally was. I trusted God though...I knew no matter what happened, He was good to me! I knew my baby would be ok and my heart was at peace and so grateful. The nurses are checking to see how far I am dilated and putting in one of those super awesome IV's...Ugh...all fun stuff! We are then moved to our birthing room to just wait...contract, breathe and wait. Ugh...with every contraction my heart rate rises and I am getting scared. If my heart rate rises to high, things can happen not so good for defibrillator may deliver a shock...Or, worse. This is awful! My other births weren't like this. I was always able to work with my body and use the contractions to move things along. I felt like I was fighting against my body each time I had a contraction because I was so terrified each time my heart rate would go up! Instead of using the pain I was fighting against it! I was miserable...not that birth is a piece of cake...Haha...but this was excruciatingly difficult! My nurses were so awesome and so encouraging! The very best I have ever ever had in my history of birthing babies...Haha! I was totally dependent on them...and then they had to do a shift change...No! I needed them!

In comes my new nurses. They both seem super wonderful too...Oh thank you God! One of them keeps looking at me weird though...Hmmm...Maybe she's nervous about all my heart history.

The nurse who keeps looking at me funny then says to me, "Hey I need to ask you something...Well, I have to tell you something." I am feeling a bit nervous now. I worry that there may be something wrong with the baby. She then says, "Do you remember in the high school parking lot when you fell?I..." and then she stopped, she couldn't even finish. Her eyes were tearing up and she covered her mouth. She didn't even have to finish her sentence...I already knew. My husband and I both gasped...and I just grabbed her and hugged her! I cried as I finally got to thank the mystery nurse who saved my life! I told her that I looked for her for almost 3 years! I guess because of privacy laws I wasn't able to get her info or she couldn't get mine, I don't know. She told me what happened that day in the parking lot. It was hard to hear, but I was so thankful to finally meet her! I asked how in the world did she end up in labor and delivery and she said that she needed a change of scenery from the ICU and had just started that week! Some may say what a coincidence...But no, I say how awesome God works! My contractions continued and got more and more they do. My heart rate would rise and eventually the staff started becoming nervous as well. They advised for an epidural and I gave in and had my first ever epidural! I was terrified as they were getting it started and then really freaked out because my husband couldn't be in there with me. My hero nurse held my hand and told me she'd talk me through it and then asked me if I trusted her. Oh my goodness...Of course I did! I never felt so safe! There was some pretty scary moments, but she was always right there by my side. It was all very intense and I will remember those moments forever! But, I will also remember my hero...encouraging me and keeping me feeling safe and brave! There were so many times I felt like things were out of control and like I just couldn't do this! She remained steadfast and was my calm in the storm! She truly was my pillar of strength. You know, honestly, as soon as she introduced herself to us, it was like God was saying, "Christina, I got this!" All of a sudden I became very aware of God's sovereign hand over this whole thing.

After our little guy was born and we were rested up and getting ready to move into our new room, our nurse asked if she could hold the baby once more. She snuggled him closely and with teary eyes said, "You be good to your mama little John. You are a little miracle. You were never supposed to be here because neither was she, and yet here you both are! I have a feeling there are big, wonderful and great things in store for you!"

I am so incredibly thankful to have had the blessed opportunity to meet a real life superhero! Things like that just don't happen everyday! I truly believe that God postponed me meeting her...He saved that meeting for when He knew I would need it most! What a wonderful gift! I will be eternally grateful for my second chance at life and I will always hold a very special place in my heart for nurse, Amy Bennet.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Looking for a Cause to Get Behind?

We all want to help, don't we? There's this thing instilled in our hearts that wants to do more...To give more. And when we are serving others, it just feels good, doesn't it? Like we're a part of something much bigger than ourselves, right? Well, I've got something big for you!

There is this sweet couple (Matt & Helen) that my family pretty much adores. A few years ago they answered the call to missionary work! Although Helen was no stranger to missionary work. She had already been very involved before they met. She had a God-given desire to return to it and soon Matt started feeling the tug as well. It wasn't long after that they together as a couple jumped in! They have been to many different places in both the Middle East and Asia...faithfully serving the Lord together through teaching and humanitarian work. We love them very much and miss them often. We praise God for their brave servant hearts!

They've recently answered another call...In parenthood. God sovereignly placed a beautiful little baby girl in their path and very quickly into their hearts. We will call this sweet little one "Baby A". Her fate is desperate. See, her birth-mother feels she has no choice but to leave the country for a better and safer life. Sadly she must relinquish her rights as mother. The birth-mother has already rejected offers to buy Baby A. Selling babies in this part of the world (and into the sex trade) is rampant! She wants instead to find a good home for her. Our friends are praying for the means to be able to adopt precious Baby A. They are trusting our mighty God to move mountains!

This is where YOU come in. Are you willing to help? This is that something bigger than yourself that you can feel awesome about being a part of! Will you open your heart to this cause? I hate to sound like those crazy emotional commercials with the sappy music playing...but this is truly a desperate situation. Please join our family in praying for Matt, Helen and Baby A. Please share their story. And, please give...There is no such thing as too small of a gift!

Here's the link to their story and updates...

Precious Baby A
Just look at that big beautiful smile! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Season of Lent (for the Protestant)

I have quite the mixed up faith background...Haha! My parents, who were "practicing" Catholics (or maybe not really committed in practice, but just went with it) baptized me as a baby. Then during that same year they converted to Protestantism. They sadly eventually divorced and my brother and I stayed with my dad. My dad lived out what Christians call a "man sold out for God" life. We prayed before every meal...even in restaurants. He would read to us every night out of our Children's Bible before tucking us in, saying prayers and kissing us goodnight. We attended a Pentecostal church twice on Sundays, Wednesday evenings and also attended their Christian school. My dad even held bible studies in our home and I'd hear him and others talking well into the long night about God. We were very involved and I loved it! My dad eventually remarried and well, that didn't last so long. When I look back, I think with the now two divorces under his belt, my dad just stopped attending church. He was embarrassed over failed marriages and also frustrated with God. He still loved God very much and he'd still have those wonderful conversations with my brother and I about who God is and why he wanted us to grow in our relationships with Him. We just didn't attend church anymore...It was hard on me and hard to understand why not. That's when I started attending church with my Grandma (my mom's mom). She was a Catholic...So, I guess that's where this story begins...

Growing up observing Lent was fun...Yep, I said fun. Some people might think that's weird, but I was excited and I looked forward to it. My grandma and I used to encourage each other to stay strong and to keep going with our promises to refrain from certain treats or whatever it was that we gave up. We'd remind each other of Christ's sacrifice for us and that we should be able to sacrifice this small thing for him. Lent is a time of renewal and reflection...and time of remembrance. So yes, of course there is a very serious somberness to it...but there's also joy! The word Lent means Spring. When I think of Spring, I think of renewal and growth. I am always so excited to see the new buds on the trees and sprouts of life in the dirt! I am in awe of the changes all around me!

This is what the season of Lent is like. And, it's not just a Catholic thing either. Protestants can enjoy this time too...and should. I would actually argue that it's a Christian thing! Lent is a rich season of preparing our hearts for a huge celebration! It's a time of remembering the ultimate sacrifice of Christ for us. It's a time of reflection. It's a time of renewal. Lent is also a time of self-denial...fasting, giving something up that you enjoy or serving others, etc...

Well long story short, several years later I eventually started attending a Protestant church. Personal stuff...blah-blah-blah...Anyway, I no longer observed Lent. But, my heart just couldn't let go. It was strange to not have that reflection time...I know, I know...Just do it. Why should you need Lent to examine your heart and repent? Do it daily, right? Right...Yes...I agree. There's just something different when a group of you are all doing this together collectively and at this specific time in preparation of Easter...the celebration of our risen Lord!

And so with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I recently started observing the Lenten season again...and I am very thankful for the renewal that has taken place in my heart!

Are you interested or curious? Are you just confused? Here's a cheat to speak...

* Lent starts on Ash Wednesday...That's 46 days before Easter. There is a special service (not just in Catholic churches, but also in Protestant denominations as well) where the congregation will receive ashes on their foreheads. The ashes are a symbol of mourning, death and repentance. There is much scripture that speaks of ashes being used as a symbol of mourning and repentance...Therefore the receiving of ashes is done in remembrance of the suffering and death of Christ. To be clear, the ashes are not given as a sign of fasting as in Matthew 6. There is no gloomy or disfigured faces here, just repentant hearts thankful for the sacrifice of their Lord!

* 40 day fast...Why 40 days? Well, the 40 days correspond to the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting and preparing himself in the wilderness before he began his ministry. And, not 46 days because you don't fast on Sundays (the Sabbath). Sundays are always a celebration of Jesus' resurrection, so even during Lent there's no fasting on the Sabbath, just feasting! Now, you don't completely fast of all food for 40 days. You are to eat small and simply...basically just enough to give you energy. Meat (though fish is ok) is given up on Fridays. Meat is also given up on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well...and you are to eat two smaller meals with only one fuller meatless meal. Now you understand why those who observe Lent also celebrate Fat Tuesday so heartily...Haha!

* Self-Denial...Along with fasting, people often give something up that they enjoy. Most common is sweets. But it can be anything that would be food or eating out, social media (I gave up facebook this year...Haha!), limiting your cell phone usage, coffee or tea, shutting off the tv...anything. The goal is for this to not be easy. Then when you're tempted or start getting frustrated over not being able to participate in whatever it is that you gave up, instead use that time for God...Pray, sing songs of praise, read scripture, thank Him for His own sacrifice for you! This is very personal and should be just that. Don't feel like you have to give up something just because another person did, this is between you and God. Ask Him to show you what may be taking up too much of your time. What is distracting you and distancing you from Him? He'll answer if you sincerely seek Him and ask...and when He does, let that go. Sometimes what we need to give up for these 40 days is actually something that we just need to give up period. So ask Him to help you grow during this time and to change your old habits by putting on new ones! (Ephesians 4:22-24)

*Service...You don't have to, but there's just something about simply serving others that makes me less focused on myself and more focused on God.

Spending time each year to reflect on our relationship with Christ is important. Lent is the perfect season for preparing our hearts as we reflect on His passion (sacrificial death) and resurrection.

We are not quite a week into this year's Lenten season and I already feel so full...though I'm fasting! My heart is overwhelmed by God's goodness! I am truly looking forward to the following weeks as I reflect on scripture, my Savior and his ultimate sacrifice for me! I look forward to growing in my relationship with him and I encourage you to join me!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hungarian Goulash

Just the veggies look yummy...and even kinda pretty too!

Alrighty, so people have been asking for my Hungarian Goulash recipe...Here it is in a nice easy spot to keep and share.

*Oh and just as an FYI goulash is NOT macaroni style noodles, ground hamburger and tomato sauce. OG goulash is all tastiness and no noodles! Just straight up paprika and yummy stuff! 


- 4 lbs. chuck beef (cut into chunks/cubed or cheat and the buy pre-cut cubed stew meat)

- 2 med. onions (more if you love them) cut into chunks

- 4 carrots (cut into chunks or cheat and buy those tiny carrots in a bag)

- 2-3 parsnips (cut a little thinner than the carrots)

- 4-6 potatoes (we like the small red ones best...cut into chunks)

- 3 big tomatoes (cut into chunks or cheat and buy canned diced)

- 3 nice sized green bell peppers (cut into chunks)

- 3-4 tbs. paprika (this will be used during the actual cooking time) Sweet Hungarian Paprika is the yummiest...More or less depending on your own taste (Note: DO NOT FORGET THIS VERY IMPORTANT INGREDIENT if your Mother is Hungarian, or she will throw a temper tantrum and criticize your cooking efforts! Hahaha!)

- "Meat Seasoning Mixture"...flour, paprika, salt & pepper (to taste)

- 2-3 tbs. Vegetable Oil


- Place meat in flour and seasoning mixture (salt, pepper & paprika)
*NOTE* If you put it all into a zip lock baggie it will be easier.

- Pour oil in a frying pan and sear the meat a little bit on all sides.

- Throw in the onions and gently brown...not to much...just until tender.

- Then put the meat, onions, and all other ingredients into a large crock pot.

- Season with more salt, more pepper, & yep, more paprika...Lots of it! (About 3-4 tbs. depending on your own taste)

- Cover meat & veggies with about 4 cups of water, or just enough to cover everything about an inch. Add water during cooking if needed.

- Cook until the meat is so stinkin' tender it practically melts in your mouth (about 4-5 hours).

- Eat & Enjoy! (I like to serve with some crusty bread)

I hope you love it...Let me know how it turns out! :o)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

Dear Family & Friends,

I have always wanted to do one of those “year end” Christmas letters that give you a rundown of how that family’s year went. They’re pretty cool and I look forward to getting them each year from those that I receive them from. I told myself that I was going to start doing almost 10 years ago...Hahaha! I always had the excuse that I was just waaay too busy...maybe one day. Well, I figured I’d start today since I haven’t purchased any Christmas cards yet (since we’re always pretty much last minute over here) and it’s too cold out to go to the store anyway ;o)

Please bear with me as this is my first one and I’m just flying by the seat of my pants with this idea...Haha!

2016 has been very good to us. We’ve had our ups and downs like everyone else, but God is always faithful! To start off the year, as a surprise to us, we found out that we were expecting another little one! We were nervous...Not just because of my heart stuff, but because we’re getting stinkin’ old...Haha! Right away though, we had a terrific medical team and I knew that God had placed us in good hands.

The next big thing to happen was that Gary (my Babe!) officially became self-employed. This was something that he had been working towards since 2014 and to see it actually happen was truly awesome! But with big exciting things sometimes bummers can happen as well. During this transition from employee to self-employed he lost close friends, but in God’s kindness we also gained new friends! Gary works very hard and our family is so very proud of him...I am very excited to see where this still very new adventure will take him! Ok wow, that was a lot of very’s...Haha! If you wouldn’t mind praying for him, I’m sure he’d more than appreciate it!

Hmmm...Let’s see...Oh yes! We also took a much needed trip to visit my family in California! I finally got my Babe and babies waaay over on the other side of the country to see where I grew up and to meet some family. Unfortunately it was only a week (including drive time) and we didn’t get to visit like we really wanted, but it was still a wonderful time! Looks like a Summer 2018 is being planned! You know, even getting stranded in the Utah mountains for almost 5 hours cause the truck broke down was wonderful...Long story, but God is good!

Ok, onto our kiddos…

Victoria ~ She turned a whopping 18 years old and graduated from high school!!! Ahhh...Way to make me feel really old! Right now she is taking a year off...I say taking a year off, but I don’t think this girl has been any busier! She is working at our local movie theater, volunteering as a leader with the girls’ scouting troop, all while taking religious education classes at our local church...Plus some! She is pretty sure that she will be returning to school in Fall 2017 and is considering Special Education. She is fantastic with kiddos and has such a sweet patience with those that need it! Please be in prayer for this too...That if this is God’s will, His will be done!

Jordan ~ He just turned 16 whole entire years old this month!!! He’s now a Sophomore in high school and very involved in band. Band is pretty much his life...Haha! He plays the trombone and is First Chair in Symphonic Band, which he had to audition for to join! He is also learning Dad’s business...It’s cute watching those two and listening to them talk on and on about computer stuff that I have no idea what any of it even means...Haha!

Kaylie ~ She will be 14 in just a couple months and is in her very last year of middle school (8th grade). She loves listening to music, painting and drawing...and her phone...and sleeping...Haha! She’s basically 13 going on 24!

Grace ~ She is going to be 12 in just a few weeks and is now a middle schooler (6th grade). She also loves art...but more drawing than painting. She likes cooking and baking...and singing...loudly...very loudly...Haha!

Isabella ~ She is 10 and in the 4th grade. This girl is probably one of the most coolest chicks you will ever know! She’s always busy! She’s played softball since Kindergarten and is also involved in scouts. She has this humble confidence that is unheard of! She loves to love and has such a servant’s heart! She aspires to be a professional skateboarder, surfer, snowboarder and drummer...Oh, and she also wants to be the President someday too!

Joshua ~ He is 8 and in 2nd grade. This little guy is sweet and sensitive...But also, wild and crazy! He’s been playing baseball since Pre-K, but you’ll often find him playing in the dirt or cloud watching out on the field...Haha! He loves being outside, trains, nerf guns and drawing.

Bryanna ~ This little pumpkin is 5 years old...Oh, I mean 5 AND a half...Haha! It’s VERY important to her that the ½ is included! This girl is our little firecracker! She’s a feisty little thing who I’m sure won’t take any junk from anyone or be a pushover...Haha! She’s such a girly girl princess while dancing in her dance class, but also a sporty star out on the softball field! She loves climbing trees, coloring, tea parties, Barbies and our cat Nacho who she carries around like a baby.

And last but not least, Little John Russell ~ He’s now 4 months old and 18 pounds of adorableness! He’s our beefcake already wearing 6-9 months clothing! Such a sweet and happy little long as he’s in Mama’s arms. Right now he’s snuggling up in my lap as I type this one handed...Haha! He’s our surprise blessing! He came at a time in my life when I was trying to figure some stuff out about faith. He is a much needed gift that has completed our already large family...Haha! His pregnancy was such whirlwind and his birth was absolutely incredible! Every birth is is so precious, but his was such an amazing moment. God every way. May I always remember God’s faithfulness and goodness to me!

Oh wait...Me! Haha...Well, this baby is starting to lose patience with my attention being divided so I’ll try to make this short...I’m good. My heart health is good. I’m so in love with and very thankful for my family...every day! And, I am thankful for all of you! I love my Lord in whom all blessings flow!

May you all have a very Merry Christmas & a wonderful New Year’s!

With Lots of Love,

~ The Morris Crew
Gary, Christina, Victoria, Jordan, Kaylie, Grace, Isabella, Joshua, Bryanna and Little John

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Justice For Harambe?

I'm so done...I pray the Lord returns quickly or stops us from acting like the fools we are. Here we have a mother who is receiving death threats because she loses sight of her child for a moment. Her child falls into a gorilla enclosure. Her 4 year old son is dragged around like a rag doll through the water. Mom starts to panic...As would any of us. People are saying the gentle giant (an over 400 pound silver back gorilla with 10 times the strength of a man) was just trying to protect the child and that they were even holding hands for a brief moment and shared a touching look into each other's eyes and that the child wasn't even scared. Ummm...Ok sure, maybe that happened. Or maybe that's just fantasy we only want to believe happened. That child was terrified, come on, let's be honest here. Maybe the gentle giant didn't want to hurt him, but he was indeed hurting him, and he could have crushed him and killed him in a second, even if it would have been unintentional. The zoo had to make a split second decision...Sit around to see if this ginormous gentle giant would get bored with dragging the 4 year old boy around and let him free or should they save the boy from any further injuries and possibly even death by unfortunately taking the gorilla's life? They were sadly forced to choose the latter. All these self righteous people out there saying this mom deserves to pay for the death of the gorilla are being ridiculous. If they are not parents, then they should really just stop talking. If they are parents, do they always know where their children are every millisecond of every day? Probably not. Just because their child hasn't fallen into some animal enclosure doesn't make them super parent of the year and entitled to throw stones at this woman. Do I know if this mother was watching her child as she should have been? No, I don't...But how do you all know that she wasn't. And again, stop pointing your high and mighty fingers unless you have super human abilities to always be in the know of where your children are at all times of the day. Our 5th child was accidentally left at church one Sunday when she was 8 years old. This was the first and only time something like this has ever happened (as of current...haha!). My husband assumed she had gone home with me. She told one of her older siblings that she had to use the bathroom real quick and to tell dad. Well when dad got in the car said sibling forgot to tell dad. My 8 year old was left at church...Sigh. Friends brought her home and we all joked about it...Cause you know? Large families. Was I a bad mom for leaving her after she said that she wanted to ride with dad? Nope. Was dad a bad dad cause he left after getting in the car? Nope. Was older sibling a bad sibling for not remembering to tell dad? Nope, but she did learn an important lesson that day. Was my 8 year old bad for having to go potty? Nope, but she also learned an important lesson that day too. The point is, things like this do happen. Maybe not to this extent, but they both big families and tiny ones. Animals losing their lives is very sad...especially in this type of situation. But, this child's life was in danger...maybe unintentionally, but in danger none the less. What has happened to this world where we view the life of an animal more important than the life of a child? Now please don't get all crazy on me and twist my words into something I didn't say. I did not say that animals are worthless, or unimportant. I LOVE me some animals...But, human beings have a distinct place above them. Don't like that? Well I'm sorry, but it's true. Imagine how you would feel if this was your child. Just for a moment, imagine that. Your child walks away from you and falls into a gorilla enclosure. You are now about 15 feet above watching this HUGE animal drag your young child around by his ankles. Are you going to calmly say, "Oh it's ok, this gentle giant is just curious." ? I'm guessing probably not. You'd want someone to do everything they could to save your precious child...even if that meant the gentle giant lost his life. You'd feel regret, but thankfulness at the same time, right? Of course you would, and if you say otherwise, then I beg you to please not have any children. Human beings are going crazy and humanizing our pets. Hey, I'm very guilty of it too. My family literally carries our cat around as if he's a baby...and he's sooo stinkin' spoiled! But I promise you, if he started to hurt my family, I'd have no choice but to put him down...with a heavy and broken heart. So now we're screaming justice for Harambe the gorilla's death. We want this mom to pay for his life being lost and for being an irresponsible negligent mother. Real justice would have been for Harambe to be released into the wild, not held in a "cage" for 17 years. Real justice would have been for those that are screaming for justice for his death, to have been angered about him living without his freedom. Captivity isn't justice for wild animals...It's cruelty. Real justice for Harambe now would be to remember him and his life. He is said to have been very gentle. He lived a long life and was loved by many...including the zoo that had to make the tough decisions of ending his precious life. It's ok to cry about his untimely death, it's tragic and very sad. But let's be careful to not glorify him to the point of human or even god-like status. In a way that almost diminishes what has happened. You take a way the tragedy of what took place. He was a wild animal held in captivity behaving like a wild animal, a child fell into his world, he was curious and became confused and agitated by all the commotion, he reacted as he should, the child's life was in danger (even if unintentional) and unfortunately a decision had to be made. A decision that deeply saddened many...and rightfully so. A terrible accident took place here and hopefully things that went wrong will be corrected so that future accidents don't repeat themselves. I am hurt with the majority over Harambe's death, but I also praise God for sparing that poor child's life who will probably always remember this terrifying event.