Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Memories of '14's hard to believe that it will be history in just a few more hours.  This year has been filled with its own joys and challenges, but God's love has been abundant through it all.  With such a grace-filled year, I wanted to share a cross-section of some the most memorable moments of 2014.  Enjoy!

1.  Definitely one of our favorite memories of the year, our trip across the western part of the U.S. was an amazing time to grow closer as a family and see a new part of the country.  Daddy had a math conference in Portland, so our whole family took a sabbatical from the farm and went along for a three-week camping trip.  And what a fun, breathtaking, crazy three weeks it was!  We hiked, swam, drove, froze, and melted by turns, and it was all good.

2.  Another highlight of our summer was swimming at Paw Paw's.  He only lives fifteen minutes from here, which makes us feel like we have our own private pool--with the added convenience of free drinks and a beautiful country view.  We would be the envy of all the kids at school.  

Except that we're home schooled.

Which means that I did my English assignments by the pool.

All the more reason to envy us with, my dear.

"And the study book is...JONAH!!!"

3.  Yet another highlight of our summer/fall/year/life was the Bible Bee.  This was our third year to be involved in it, and it was by far the best (but I think I said that last year, too).  From June 1st--when we stopped at midnight on our way to a family reunion just to open our box of Bible Bee materials--on up until  Nationals, God's grace has been so abundant.  I'm so glad He led our family to get involved in this three years's difficult to imagine what 2014 would have been like without it.

4.  God's grace was also very abundant on November 24, when our precious Mama Em went home to be with Jesus after a two-day stay in the hospital.  She was so loving, caring, funny, and generous right up to the end, and I was (and am) extremely blessed to be her great-granddaughter.  If I could only touch the lives of half the people she did...what a legacy!

A bridal shower for our sweet friend Lillie--we're so excited for her!

5.  And while we're on the subject of touching lives, I wanted to share a little about our church family.  We have enjoyed growing with them this year in so many ways.  

Spiritually...through our pastor's Bible-grounded preaching (1 Thessalonians earlier this year, now Leviticus)...

Relationally...through spending time with them at baby showers, bridal showers, prayer meetings, Bible studies, and game nights...

Musically...through leading music with Daddy when our music leaders were on vacation, choir practice, and singing and playing during the Advent season...

And in so much more!  We love you, Pleasant Plains!

6.  Another big part of our year--Daddy's promotion to chair of the math department at Union University!  (And I apologize for the randomness of the picture.  It's the only one of Daddy at work, so now you're also treated to a picture of George studying for the Bible Bee.)  We're so excited for him--and we love going with him to study either in the library or in his spacious office.

7.  And now on to George and Samuel's business venture--the egg mobile!  They have been saving and building for a while now, and plan to buy a hundred chicks in the spring to expand their business.  So, to our neighbors: this is not another storage building balanced on a trailer; to ignorant city-dwellers: we will NOT pull this around the neighborhood like a healthy version of an ice cream truck; but to all who love farm-fresh eggs: George and Samuel will soon be back in business!

8.  The Birmingham End NF Walk back in May--a very special time to support our sweet cousins Philip and Helen, affectionately known as "the other Mosses".  A few years ago, Philip was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disease that causes (normally) benign tumors to grow anywhere on the nervous system.  Aunt Renie and Uncle Philip have done so much work to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for NF, and we were thrilled to be able to go and support them.  Love, love, love you, Mosses!

The "other Mosses" were awarded the Children's Tumor Foundation Strength and Honor Award for their dedication to finding a cure.  To watch it--and to find out more about their sweet family--click here.

9.  Hunting  was another big part of our year (although not as big as George would like, I'm sure).  I started the 2014 Moss hunting adventures back in January when I killed my first deer, a spike--which I felt pretty good about until a few days ago when George shot a ten-point.

Love and tears,
Trying-not-to-be-jealous in Tennessee

P.S.  I was not AT ALL jealous when George and Samuel killed a copperhead in the upstairs bathroom.  It's funny how the choice of game affects your feelings.

P.S. #2  To all the friends who have suddenly decided that they will no longer visit us in the future:  There have been no more snake sightings in the Moss house since that momentous occasion--unless you count the rash of fake snakes that popped up after the occasion, thanks to several anonymous Mosses.

9 Mosses + 6 Wards = 15 lifetime friends

10.  While on the subject of guests, we've had quite a few friends in our home this year (I don't think they knew about the snake).  We have loved meeting Daddy's students, spending time with our church and extended family, and catching up with out-of-town friends--all from the comfort of our home.  We're so thankful for all of you...come see us again!

11.  (Okay, a little background on this one: For our thirteenth birthdays we do a little something special.  The birthday person can do something special, go on an overnight trip, have a party, etc.  July, 2013 was Anna's turn, but she chose to wait until this spring.)  So, for Anna's thirteenth birthday she wanted to go to Montgomery Bell State Park--nothing in particular once we were there, but she wanted it to be completely stress-free.  It would be a special time to relax, eat convenience food, swim in the indoor pool, wear our Bible Bee t-shirts, and generally just be together.  And, believe it or not, it WAS stress-free.  We got to spend time together without worrying about anything! 

12.  Another relaxing time--tubing with Mr. Nick and "Miss" Peggy.  They were Mommy and Daddy's youth group leaders back in high school, and Mommy and Daddy really looked up to them.  They invited us to go tubing and kneeboarding with them a couple of times this summer, and we had a blast!  Mr. Nick is very good at knocking us off the raft, which made for lots of screams, laughs, and flying through the air.  It was so much fun to spend time with people who knew Mommy and Daddy when they were my age.

Dutch Blitz--a new (highly addictive) favorite around here
13.  Chess, Pen, Spoons, Inkum-pinkum-feather-duster, I Have Never, Apples to Apples, Dutch Blitz, Psychiatrist, Snake Oil, Kemps, Settlers of Catan, name it, we like it.  As you may have guessed from the previous sentence, we have learned/rediscovered quite a few games this year.  We each have our favorites, but every one has been a fun way to connect with family and friends.

The Moss Beach Reunion--June 2014
14.  If I had to sum up 2014 with one thing I've learned, it would be to treasure time spent with family; every day is a gift.  Love them, spend time with them, and share the gospel with them.  Two thousand and fifteen is almost here.  Use it to love one another.

Happy New Year!
Lots of love,
Joy for the Mosses

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The very long, very over-due Nationals post

Hi, y'all,
I'm back from the wilds of the non-cyberspace world and socializing that does not involve a phone or the internet.  (Yes, such a thing really does exist.  It's called life around here.)  

And now to share a little sneak peak of some of that life...the National Bible Bee.  (And to tell you that I am fully aware that this is a couple of months overdue, but life took precedence over blogging.  My apologies and resolutions to do better until next time.  It's a vicious cycle).  Now where was I?

Ah, the National Bible Bee.

A special time when families from all over the country come together to encourage one another as they proclaim God's Word.

Something that only happens one week late in the year, but is well worth the wait.

The glorious few days that I am about to share with you.


We rolled into Orlando on Wednesday in time to register, study, hang out at McDonald's, study, and more study. Late that afternoon Mommy and Daddy decided to take the boys across the street to downtown Disney so that we girls could do more--you guessed it--studying, which we diligently did until it was time for...

 ...the Quizlet reunion.  For the uninformed, Quizlet is an online test writing/taking site that has tests on everything under the sun, plus a few things that are not.  Anna (known as biblebee-a in the Quizlet world) wrote quite a few tests on it over the summer and all three of us used it for our Nationals study, especially for Hebrew and Greek key words and Assyrian history (because we were studying Jonah and Nahum).

I felt kind of guilty--I needed to be up in the room studying--but it was great to finally meet the people behind the cryptic usernames, and so fun to compare notes on Bible Bee study.  And then when we broke up into groups to pray for each other...well, at that point it was like tasting heaven.  This is how the body of Christ is supposed to function!   I left the reunion so encouraged and built up.

Which was just what I needed.

*   *   *   *   *

Thursday was the BIG DAY of the test, and capital letters cannot convey how important this was.  (Let me just say that the ACT pales in comparison).  We were excited.  And nervous.  And excited.  Oh, and we were extremely nervous.  I'm really good at writing concise paragraphs.  But only when I'm not nervous.  Or excited.

This was Samuel and Thomas's first year as National contestants, and they both loved it.  (Just ignore their nervous expressions in this picture--I think it had something to do with the fact that they were about to be called for their oral testing round).

Samuel and Thomas in their oral round.  Go team yellow!
The new oral format was scary, nerve-wracking,  After dreading having to say our verses to a room full people (instead of just the two judges), I expected this to be the worst seven minutes of my life.  The end.   Instead, all five of us ended up loving it!   Being in there with other contestants was amazing (and I'm sure the rest of the room enjoyed watching us clap silently for each other).

Anna, Hannah N., and Anna H.
One of the (many, many) highlights of Nationals is spending so much time with dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are such an inspiration to me!  

It's even better when they are both your sisters in Christ AND your real sisters!  This was my first year to be in the same age division as Delie and I loved it.  She is such an encouragement to me both in the contest and out (plus, she's absolutely amazing at all things Bible Bee).

After a long day of testing and reconnecting with old friends, we headed down to the ballroom for the opening ceremony, one of my favorite Bible Bee events.  It's a great time for the contestants and their families to encourage one other and recognize the hard work and time that each Nationals contestant has put into their study over the past few months.

Cutest.  Primary.  Ever.  The contestants are lined up in height order to go up on stage, and guess who was the shortest of the short?  Gotta love this boy!  (And just for the record, he was not only the shortest contestant, but--at seven--also one of the youngest.  Way to go, Thomas!)

And then the best part of the evening--which for some unaccountable reason they keep until the end--the announcing of the semi-finalists, which included...

 (She's behind the third and fourth yellow shirts from the left, if that helps.)

After semi-final training, Mommy and Daddy took the younger guys back up to the room while we four oldest stayed down and visited, because there is no such thing as too much socializing at Nationals.

Anna, Delie, George, me, and Ellie H.
You know how you meet some people and immediately feel like you've known them forever?  That's how we feel about the H. family.  We met them last year when their Anna and our Anna were in Juniors together and this year we were thrilled when both Anna and her sister Ellie qualified.  The five of us spent many hours studying/visiting over Skype between Locals and Nationals, and now we're trying to convince them to come visit us (they only live about six hours away--close, by Bible Bee standards).

And by the way, I'm pretty sure that the Anna's could pass for twins (if appearances didn't matter).  They both know what everyone scored for both Locals and Nationals, what they would have placed if they were in Seniors, who they tied with and who those people tied with last get the idea.  I'm surprised that they have any room in the their brains left for Bible Bee study. :)

This is what happens when you try to take a picture with a couple of friends at Nationals.  Somehow our little group grew exponentially--and I wouldn't have it any other way!  So, so thankful for all the fellowship and friendship-making/strengthening.  (And also for fragmented sentences that convey feeling so much better than stilted, correct ones.)

*   *   *   *   *

Prayer with the other semi-finalists...I love how God is the focus of the whole entire week.  We're all here to give him glory and fellowship with one another and we remind each other (and ourselves) of this fact frequently.

(No other words needed--just sweaty hands and weak knees on my part and  beautiful, heartfelt recitation on hers).

"'Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, 
for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 
And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. 
And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.  
And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.'
Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."
From Zechariah 2:1-13, one of the memory passages that Delie recited onstage.

"Thank you, Delie.  That is...correct!"

High fives, applause, hugs--these contestants really know what it means to "encourage one another and build one another up" (1 Thessalonians 5;11-13).  My favorite part of semis (other than cheering on Delie--obviously) was watching our friends Matthew and Courtney M. congratulate one another each time one or the other got a passage correct.  Such a sweet brother-sister pair.

As you probably remember from a previous post, Delie did great, but did not advance to finals.  So instead of studying, we got to eat supper with our dear friends, the H. family.  (Not being in finals certainly has its perks!)  We talked and talked and talked.  And then we talked some more.  Somewhere along the way, we found time to eat, but I'm still not sure how we managed it.

Note: A big thank you to the H. family for this picture and several others in this post!

*   *   *   *   *


I don't have any pictures from Saturday until that night.  It was a busy, crazy, fun day, and I left the camera either in the room or in my purse for most of it.  But that night I remembered to get the camera out at the Closing Ceremony and capture a few memories.

Singing "By Faith" with hundreds of fellow-Christians--need I say more?  Between my joy in what God had accomplished over the week and my sadness at it all coming to an end so soon, I had a hard time not crying.

But the real don't-cry challenge came when our friend Meredith won the oratory award!  The joy and love on her face as she quoted God's Word were so moving and inspiring.  And let me tell you, she's even better in person. :)

Our sweet friend Rachel--we met her at Nationals back in 2012 and were absolutely thrilled when she qualified this year.  So good to talk to you again, we both have to qualify next year so we can talk some more!

And then there is Bella--sweet, encouraging, amazing at Bible Bee, and one of the best pen pals a girl could wish for.  Her letters always brighten my day.  We met last year at Nationals, and I really enjoyed catching up with her this year--and getting to know her twin sister Kenzie better, too.  Next year is their last in Bible Bee as well as mine, which means that if one or the other of us does not qualify next year, we may never see each other again.  Oh, why does Pennsylvania have to be so far away?

One of my favorite dances--Samuel's in front in the white shirt; the rest of us are scattered all over the room.
After visiting with friends until ten or so, we headed over to one of the conference rooms for the annual Bible Bee square dance.  It was so much fun, and then the man calling the dances left and a couple of fellow-contestants started leading it--which was even more fun.  I think next year we'll just have to hire them!  We danced until they closed the conference room, and then we danced in the hall until midnight, when we headed up to bed.  We heard next morning that they kept going strong another couple of hours. :)  Bible Bee families tend to be night owls, if you haven't guessed it already.

*   *   *   *   *

Our hotel
We packed up fairly bright and early (considering the fact that we four oldest didn't get to bed until after midnight) and went to Downtown Disney to eat breakfast and do some Christmas shopping.

Oh, and some carousel-riding, thanks to our Disney gift card.

Goofy's Candy Co., also known as one of the sugariest places on earth.  I don't think I've met that much sugar outside of a nightmare (ask me about swimming in apple jelly--it's not easy).  I walked in and immediately lost my desire for sweets for a whole five minutes.  It was that powerful.

A crazy mirror-selfie, in which I forgot to turn the flash off.  I'll spare you the picture that stretched our necks to giraffe-like proportions.  Not exactly something to share on the blog.  (Although I might save it for blackmail. ;D)

I would save this one for blackmail as well, except that there's no disgrace when a one year-old falls asleep in public.  If only teenagers were treated with the same social tolerance.

But maybe they get too much tolerance already.

I digress.

Our last stop--Ghirardelli.  I can't remember why George is smiling.

Maybe it was because we were in a chocolate store.  He loves chocolate.

Or maybe it was because he just got a free sample.  He loves saving as much as he loves chocolate.

Or maybe it was because he was eating it.  He loves chocolate just as much as he loves...chocolate.

Big shocker, people:  GEORGE LOVES CHOCOLATE!!!

I love surprising you.

And then we all had ice cream cones.  And then Nationals was over. (Because nothing is ever officially over unless you have ice cream, right?)  And then we all piled in the van and cried, stared out the window, and/or slept, depending on our dispositions.  

Because Nationals was over.

But, oh, it was an amazing time.  Memories were made, friendships were strengthened, God's Word was proclaimed--and we really, really want to come back next year.  

(So, if any of the Bible Bee staff are reading this, could you pull some strings and get Nationals to be in our area?  Then we could come even if none of us qualify.  Thank you.)

And to all our Bible Bee friends...stay strong and keep studying God's Word!
Until we meet again,

Friday, October 31, 2014

Bible Bee Update

Those of you who watched Delie this afternoon already know, but for those of you who didn't (poor you), she did GREAT!!!  She flawlessly quoted every passage given to her and, more importantly, she did it with joy and to the glory of God.  I was so blessed to hear her proclaim God's Word.

Although she did not miss a single word on stage, her preliminary test scores were not quite high enough for finals.  Instead, she, along with Samuel and Thomas, have something very exciting tomorrow!  (I'm not sure if I can say what, due to confidentiality agreements--I'll keep you posted if I can).

However, I highly recommend that you watch some of the finals tomorrow.  Every single one of the finalists is amazing, and such an encouragement to be around.  Plus, we know at least one person on every division--so help me cheer on Abigail in Primaries, Carrie-Grace in Juniors, and Daniel in Seniors!

Lots of pictures to come once we get back home. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Drumroll, please

After a wonderful (albeit nerve-racking) day of testing, we were thrilled to discover that...


(I'm very excited for her, if you can't tell from the punctuation.)

For those unlearned in Bible Bee, this means that she placed in the top fifteen in her age division and will compete tomorrow on stage!  If you're in the area, you are welcome to come and watch her, but if you're not, you can watch a free webcast of the competition.  Just go to the Bible Bee website ( and click on the big "watch now" button.  She's in the Senior division, so be sure to catch her tomorrow afternoon!

Until tomorrow,

You know you're in Bible Bee when...

...your idea of a Disney vacation is taking an hour-long test on the book of Nahum.

Hi, y'all,
Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday.  Life was crazy, and when it wasn't we were studying, visiting with friends, and eating supper in downtown Disney (which really is magical after dark).  Yesterday was registration day, so all we had to do was sign a bunch of papers and get settled in.  But today...well, today is the day of THE TEST.  In just a few minutes Delie and I head down to take our written test with a hundred other brothers and sisters in Christ.  We're excited.  We're nervous.  We feel unprepared.  And we really want to give God the glory.

Please pray...
For Anna, Samuel, and Thomas who are already taking their written and oral tests.
For Delie and I as we head downstairs to do the same.
For all the other contestants who have become such dear friends and encouragers over the past few months.
For all the Bible Bee staff members who have organized all this.
And that God would be glorified in whatever we do and say.

Last night we got together with a group of other contestants, and as we fellowshipped and prayed with one another, I realized that that is a picture of what the Bible Bee really stands for--encouraging and equipping believers to do God's work.

Now it's time to go live out all that I just wrote.

P.S.  Check back tonight to see if we or any of our friends advanced to the next round--if they do, you can watch it live via webcast!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bible Bee Locals 2014 (and yet another time when the Moss family hits the road)

If you know our family at all over the past three years, then you know that we are very involved in the National Bible Bee.  We love its focus on family discipleship and God's Word--and I really like that we all get to do it together!

After studying the book of Jonah and memorizing passages that crossreference to it, Thomas, Samuel, George, Anna, Delie, and I (Joy) competed in the local competition held in August (and, yes, I realize that this is a couple of months overdue--where did the year go?).  Everyone did very well, and we are thrilled that five of us scored high enough to compete in the national competition...this week!

So we are packing, reviewing verses, studying Nahum and reviewing Jonah, and getting ready to head out to Orlando, FL tonight.  Stay tuned for pictures of five people trying to recite verse in the van without driving everyone else insane, driving through the night, and other assorted craziness.

We plan to blog almost daily--we'll see how that goes--so check back tomorrow!  Now I need to go review verses, wash dishes, pack cameras...oh never mind.  The more I type, the longer my list grows, so I should probably go. :)

Until Orlando,

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 24: There's no place like...


Okay, so this gas station isn't exactly home sweet home, but we were getting close.  Plus, our van almost felt like home after so long.

The only problem is that our van far surpassed our house in clutter and dirt.  We cleaned it out every day, but if the order lasted for ten minutes we counted it amazing.  FYI, the lower left corner (the one with the laptop, pillows, tablecloth, Bible Bee study materials, and other odds and ends) is the aisle.  So just imagine the rest of the van.  Or don't, if you are prone to hyperventilating.

We breakfasted somewhere in MO at the Apple Barrel.  It was so good to be in the Southeast again and to hear the lingo.  Although we dearly love our you guys-ing, pop-drinking friends north of the Mason-Dixon line, there's nothing like a waitress who calls you "hon" and your family "y'all". 

After breakfast we got back on the road for the last time.  It wasn't long before we saw the mighty Mississippi River in front of us, which means...

"One-a-see, two-a-see, three-a-see, four-a-see, five-a-see, six-a-see, seven-a-see, eight-a-see, nine-a-see...


One more hour, and we were HOME!!!  Seven thousand miles, seven hundred and seventy meals, twenty-four days, and eleven people on one wonderful trip.  It was good to be gone; it is even better to be home again.

Until next time...
The Mosses

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 23: Wall Drug and Sioux Falls

Tuesday, August 12

Day twenty-three, the last full day!  We filled up at the hotel breakfast ('cause some of us could eat forever on that kind of food--muffins that are really cupcakes and decaf coffee, here we come!) and hit the road. 

We look tired.  Our van looks messy.  I wonder why.

After driving past many, many signs for it along the road, we stopped at Wall Drug to buy a few souvenirs, stretch our legs, and--of course--to get some of the free ice water for which Wall Drug is famous.

Delie, William, Thomas, and Samuel in one of the many shops at Wall Drug.  We were spread out all over the plain; I still can't believe we didn't leave someone there.  :)

The boys enjoyed the "people" playing bluegrass instruments.  I love the way the way Samuel is talking and imitating them--typical Samuel.

John's first high five :)
We were thrilled to spend a few hours with our good friend Betsy.  She's been to our house multiple times, both as Daddy's student (we have all his classes out to the farm) and as a member of our church body.  When she graduated and moved back home we didn't know when we would see her again. :(  But then we had our big trip and went right through her city!  We met her at a park for a couple of hours of fellowship. 

John was happy to be out of his car seat for a little while.

And so were William and Samuel.

Come to think of it, we were all glad to take a break from the van.  It's a nice van, works great, but you just get a little weary of sitting in it after hours and hours and hours.

Keep calm and swing on--even if all your brothers run off and leave you hanging. :)

We were able to see several hot air balloons, including this one that took off from the park.  Several of us were trying (unsuccessfully) not to covet their ride.  Imagine seeing the west from an aerial view!  Although I guess we would have a hard time finding something big enough for all of us. :)

We gathered with Betsy for one last picture before we parted ways again.  I'm going to miss her, her calm spirit, and her way of empathizing with everyone.  We love you, Betsy!

Next up: The best place in all America!

Posted by Joy