Thursday, April 30, 2009

God, You did good...REAL GOOD.

Last week we celebrated our anniversary. Three glorious years. I was searching for our photographer to see what he's been up to and I found that he still has a few pictures of our wedding on his website! In lieu of including photos in my post, I thought that would be more fun to view if you're interested in that sort of thing.

My man surprised me with a night away to a resort in The Woodlands. Divine.

His present to me was the best present He has ever given me. He wrote down a very condensed version of "our story" from His perspective.

Words. They're my love language. When someone says something meaningful to me, it swirls around in my head over and over. Maybe that's why I must cling so desperately to God's Word.

To be honest, I didn't know Joe was a writer but after reading his letter and shedding a few tears... I was thinking, "Dang." I have wanted him to be a "guest blogger," but he hasn't taken my bait. He also wrote me the most romantic poem but that's just for me, but we thought it would fun to share the letter with you. I guess its the closest I'll get to him being my guest blogger. I hope you get a glimpse of why I'm so crazy about him and it is nothing short of a miracle he puts up with me and all of my shenanigans. God, You did good...real good!


"To my lover and my friend:

Before I met you, I would daydream about my future wife, and all that I could dream does not compare with who you are. An anniversary is a celebration of the love that one holds for another. Today, I celebrate you.

I never knew when I would get married or where I would meet my wife; only God could have orchestrated that she would be my neighbor. I still remember the first time I met you. It was at Life Challenge, and you were wearing Capri jeans, really white tennis shoes, and a t-shirt. I know I was in church, but I thought to myself “she is really hot!” That initial acquaintance was followed by a formal introduction that Sunday night at Ralph Street. Afterwards, when returning home, I told Kenny, “there is something different about that Melissa girl, but I can’t seem to place it”.

The next couple of months were bliss for me. I couldn’t wait to spend time with you. I was so excited at the thought of going on a walk or bringing dinner back to Ralph Street. Those months were such a joyful time for me as I was getting to know the woman that I would spend that rest of my life with.

After that season, you moved to the lake. Many nights I was filled with sorrow and missed you tremendously, but I always knew that it was the best thing. I knew that God needed to have some one -on-one counseling sessions with me. It was tough season for me, but one that I would never change. I remember praying for you every night and imagining that Jesus and I were sitting on the roof of the prayer room watching over you while you slept.

Then came Julie’s wedding. Oh, the joy that filled my soul when you said it was ok that I started calling you. The next few months flew by, and there I was, on a chilly morning in November preparing to ask you to spend the rest of your life with me. That night after our engagement dinner, I lay in bed really wondering if this was all real, and if Melissa Spry really just said that she wanted to marry me!

The winter and beginning of spring was filled with bridal books, and brainstorming and all the while I was falling more in love, each and every time I laid my eyes on you. Then, in what seemed liked an eternity for me, came the glorious day that we are celebrating today, April 29, 2006. That evening, the small country church in Longview, TX began to fill with friends and family. Amidst the hustle and bustle and last minute details, my heart was beginning to beat faster and faster with the thought that in a matter of moments all of us along with the throne room of Heaven would celebrate the covenant that we were about to enter.
Wow, how God has blessed us over the last three years. We have moved four times, given a dog away, taken some nice trips, made some great friends, had some lodgers, laughed a lot, cried a lot, been blessed with the most amazing son, been blessed with the most beautiful daughter (who we will meet one day), and have grown closer with our God. Each day I get to spend with you is another day that I fall more into love with you. Melissa Carolyn, you are truly a treasure and I am humbled that you have chosen me. I love you, adore you and celebrate you today, April 29, 2009.

Forever yours...


Joseph Daniel"

I love you baby!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Redemption

I had committed at the first of the year to share with a girls retreat and it happened to fall last Friday night. Honestly, I just didn't know if I could do it. My heart just felt too raw. I felt like I definitely didn't have anything to say to teenagers. I kept saying over and over in my heart, "God, you knew. You knew. You knew." Reassuring myself that I know His heart is for me and comforting me each day, and divinely enough He also knew the timing of the past few weeks.

Joe and I prayed about whether or not I was supposed to go and we felt like God was going to use Isabel in the situation.

Once I got there, it was so sweet. When I saw their sweet faces worshipping, it was like seeing a vision of Isabel worshipping in heaven. I was so grateful for the opportunity to give life when her life was cut short here on this earth.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" John 12

My time with them was such a blessing and their hearts were so receptive and inquisitive. Each one of them are so precious and I can't wait to hear of all the plans God has in store for each one of them.

Jen, second from the left, planned all of the women's retreat and did an AMAZING JOB! She manages to be a wife, pastor's wife, home school mother of four and plan a conference. She totally hit every aspect out of the park and was completely stress free throughout the whole thing!

I was focused and didn't take a single picture. I snagged this picture of our small group waiting to meet from Crystal, who planned the girls retreat. Crystal, thank you for sharing your girls! What an honor....


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Baby's Bilingual

video

I promised Anna that I would put it a video of my bilingual baby on my blog, so here you go my sweet friend!

Okay, maybe he's not bilingual but a few weeks ago, his 5th word in life was "agua." He kept saying the same word over and over again. I didn't realize what he was actually saying until the next week. We have quite a few Hispanic people who work on the Ranch and he has picked that up. All liquids are classified as "agua" and all food he calls "crak-er."

p.s. him saying the word is at the very beginning of the video and he even says it with a mexican accent, which cracks me up. Because I couldn't leave you with a video of my sweet boy getting all choked up on his water, I had to add this one too.

video

Monday, April 20, 2009

Isabel's Magnolia

I miss her.

I miss knowing she is in my belly.

I know she is in good hands and a better place, but I still miss her.

Yesterday we set out to pick out her Magnolia tree. Magnolia trees are a symbol of beauty and elegance, grace and nobility. Basically...her. We picked the perfect spot- next to the house, near the horses, and closest to the pastures where the mama horses are.

I have been so desperately trying to give her dignity. Trying to make sense of it all. I know God was trying to prepare my heart, but I was holding on tight to what I wanted. The first few days was like someone was suffocating me and I just couldn't breathe. Now I can thankfully breathe, but now I carry around this lingering feeling of nausea everywhere I go. Maybe my body thinks that if "I just throw up" then I'll feel better...

Yet God has been near, even through it all, just as He always is. Every day I see the ways that He demonstrates His comfort. Through Hid abiding presence, sweet prayers of friends, a scripture sent, sweet smelling flowers, encouraging words, and understanding hearts when I don't really have much to say right now.

I haven't purposely cried in front of Isaac but I haven't hid it from him either. Mourning a loss is something we will all experience many times throughout our life. I want him to know at a young age the uncircumstancial joy there is in the midst of sorrow because we know Jesus. The other day we were playing in the living room and out of nowhere tears started up well up in my eyes. Intuitive as all kids are, he tried to start fake crying. I explained to him again about Isabel and that mommy was sad right now. I reassured him that mommy was going to be okay. It was good for me to allow God to heal my heart now because if I pushed all that sadness back down in my heart it would come out some way, some how and it probably would be a lot worse. He stopped "crying" and looked at me and smiled. I think as much as his little 13 month old mind could get it, he did.

Sunday, while we were out picking out her tree, she passed. In the most undignified and dishonorable way. My heart was utterly broken. I want so much more for her. At the very least, I wanted something that could be buried with a white wooden cross.

I guess that's me holding onto this life again. God has been speaking to my heart about holding the people in my life with an open hand and surrendering them to Him. We hold our material possessions loosely, so why would I hold onto the greatest gifts of all that God has so graciously loaned to me...my loved ones. They are His. I am daily choosing to relinquish them back over to who they have always belonged to.

Isabel, I surrender you to the Lord. The way you came. The way you went. Where you will always be. Just so you know, I'm couldn't be more thankful you are my daughter. I love you.

Here are some pictures of our family planting Isabel's magnolia (it is the kind that is going to have pink blooms :). Then, we prayed and worshipped out by her tree. Sweet Isabel, we can't wait to see you in heaven...













"Blessed and enviably happy (with a happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace) are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!" Matthew 5:4

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meet Isabel

This is our family on Easter (all four of us) and I'm 9 1/2 weeks.

Joe and I really had the baby itch when Isaac was barely four months old. Every day with him has been such a joy and a gift, how could you not want more?



In November, we finally got the guts up to start "trying." Considering we do natural family planning, most people say that we are doing that anyways, but we had even more fun...



Then at the beginning of March, we found out we were expecting! We have been so excited. Looking forward to a new addition to our little family. Ecstatic for our sweet baby, Isaac, to be a big brother.



When I was pregnant with Isaac, I just knew it was a boy. No one in this world could have convinced me otherwise. This time, we know like we know that a baby girl would be growing in my tummy. Throughout Pink Impact, I imagined how sweet it would be to have her in my arms next year and couldn't wait to have our own little women's ministry at the Ranch (cowgirl style). As much as we know she's a girl, we know her name would be Isabel. Isabel meaning "consecrated to God." I saw her in my imagination with dark brown hair (like mine is naturally :) and this cute little bob dancing in the wind as she twirled in circles.



I voraciously read every pregnancy book on my shelf like it was my first baby all over again. I get my little baby center updates on my blackberry and I desperately couldn't wait for November 11, 2009 when she was due to arrive.



Yet deep in my heart, I knew something wasn't right.



This last Sunday I started bleeding. I do not believe that it began on Easter day as an accident. Jesus Christ conquered the grave and I believe there is no miracle that is too difficult for him.



Monday, Isaac had a pediatrician appointment already scheduled in The Woodlands so I called to see if I could get in to see my nurse. She had me come in immediately and she put the sonogram wand on my stomach and there she was...in all of her glory. I could see her sweet head and her arms moving around. A gift from God.



Then, that evening the bleeding started again. On Tuesday it got worse. Tuesday night Joe insisted that we go to the ER in Bryan. We had to wait an excruciatingly long time to be taken back. God sent the sweetest angel to take my blood and she said she would be praying for me. I told Joseph that I wish that God would send "the angel blood lady back because I really liked her." Just a little later, here she comes walking through the door, because "there was one that they forgot to order." He cares even for the little things.



Then, this older gentleman in his 50s came to wheel me back to the sonogram room. We were making small talk as he prepared everything. He said that he couldn't give me my results in the room, that the doctor had to do that, but if he saw a perfectly healthy baby he would let me know. At that point, he put the wand on my stomach and his face turned very somber. I knew. I asked if he saw my baby and he shook his head. Isabel is in heaven. I know she is in heaven, but I really wanted her to be growing in my tummy. The sonogram man was very gracious, but I really just wanted to crumple up in a ball. I wanted to be alone....



They made me wait there for another 45 minutes to have the doctor confirm what the sonogram man's face said, what my bleeding indicated, what my blood work showed, and the images from the sonogram.



We arrived home a little before four a.m. and Joe held me and prayed I would be able to sleep. I am married to hands down the single most amazing man. He took the day off yesterday so we could have a family day. He has given me so much grace, served so selflessly, and loved so unconditionally. I know she would have been a daddy's girl.



Thank you for praying for us and we are so grateful for your prayers. We know life begins at conception so we are planning to have a little service for her, so I will be sure to take pictures because we would love for you to celebrate her 10 week old life with us.

James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." God, please help me, so that may be true of me.

Anna sent me this song today. I had never really listened to the words and it blessed me so much. Will you listen to the words?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Praise Confuses the Enemy!

As I have mentioned before, we like to bring a little soul to Southfork with some praise parties. We shut the bedroom door and little man and I get our praise ON! I thought you might want to take it up a notch in your house, so I thought I would send you to one of our favorite links.

"Can you dance with me!?! You know if you were at the club, you'd be dancin'! So you better get up on them 9 1/2s and dance"- Kirk Franklin

Monday, April 6, 2009

Give it a whirl!

So, I have never posted a recipe on here. I got to see Stephanie briefly at PINK and I think in the spirit of Marilyn Hickey, she brushed by me and her cooking anointing passed! I am just kidding and Oh, how I WISH!

Tonight, my father-in-love is in town and we have this woman here who is interviewing for a position. Plus, you never know who may stop on over at Southfork for dinner. I was trying to plan ahead and get things in line. Having a real dinner crisis. I was thinking, "AHH! I need a Stephanie intervention!" I think she knew it and prayed for me.

I recalled this recipe that I made quite some time ago. It really is easy and it tastes a whole lot better than it sounds. You should give it a whirl.

MANICOTTI


1 lb Ground Beef
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 cups Small Curd Cottage Cheese
8 oz Shredded Mozzarella
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Mayonnaise
16 Manicotti, cooked, drained
2 jars Spaghetti Sauce (any kind)
1 tsp Oregano
Parmesan Cheese

Brown ground beef and garlic; drain fat. Mix next 4 ingredients in bowl; stir in beef. Fill each manicotti with about ¼ cup cheese-meat filling. Place in backing dish, cover with spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle top with oregano and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 10 minutes.

**Noodles have a tendency to break so it’s always good to use a half package or so more. It’s hard to stuff the manicotti when the noodles are split to far.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Non-stop

Since December, it really has not slowed down. I really thought with Joe finishing school that life might take it down a notch, but not so much. What have we been up to for the last few weeks.

Spring Break! Katie Iverson came down for a few days, follow by the Graves came out for a few days and we had more fun than I can begin to tell you-whew just remembering it all makes me do a little inner dance. Our little cowboy even got his first horse ride. yeehaw!

Then, I got this dreaded bacterial infection. I have never felt closer to death. When you are that sick, what do you do with your child? Thankfully, Joe is superdad and Isaac watched more cartoons then all of his days combined.

I got mostly over all of that just in time for Pink! It was so wonderful to be with a whole slew of God-lovin' women. Not to mention, Jan, you did such a phenomenal job and how you managed to keep all those balls and plates and bowling pins that were on fire in the air and looking so good...I will never know. I am so proud of you and I adore you!

I got back from Dallas and we left for Austin a couple hours later :) Joe had work to do there and I got to visit with a lot of family. We were both asked to go to the board meeting for the family business. I brought the little man to his first meeting at the corporate office and Corina Lucas and my sister-in-law (who work up there) were so gracious to watch him while I sat in on the meeting.

We are home now and trying to play catch up! Here is the pic of the mister at his first board meeting...

You know we had to go with plaid and not forsake our country livin'!