Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Tacky Christmas!

We once again had a "Tacky Christmas Party" with our small group.

The kids and I were Christmas trees.

The winner of the tacky awards goes to the family that dressed up as a 80s home school family (they home school so they can make fun of homeschooling, right?). Drum roll please....

Wish you could have seen them up close, because they are all so precious...

The whole lot of us. I love you people and I'm so thankful for each one of you in our life!

O Christmas Tree!

Meet Tim.

This is our 3rd year to go to his farm and pick out a tree. We love driving further out into the middle of nowhere and join the ranks of other country folk to pick out our own real, live tree.

This one.

This one right here. We went with a fur this year instead of a pine. I like it much better!

We love preparing for Advent and the sacred Christmas season! Oh what a joyous time!

Monday, December 13, 2010

God's Sweet Gifts

As we celebrate the birth of our precious Lord, He still miraculously continues to give and give.

These friends are some of God's sweetest gifts to us.

We met last year at Barnes n Noble and immediately connected at the heart. They are originally from Iran and came here for higher degrees. They have stayed and now they are both working and living in BCS.

They are so precious and dear to our family. We come from opposites sides of the world, distinct cultures, diverse foods, and contradistinctive religions yet we love each other like we have been lifelong friends. We enjoy every particular thing about the other and relish learning from one another. Only God could give us such sweet gifts and knit our hearts so tight.

If our love were a picture it would look a little something like this...

"For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." Romans 5

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Scenery, Sickness, Sweets, and Snow

3 Surprises for 30.

Yes, my man completely outdid himself.

The first surprise was that we were going to Colorado!

All four of us in the suburban all the way to Colorado.

I love road trips. I love every restroom stop, stretch break, eat random things in random towns, creating things to escape the boredom, and heart to heart conversations. Also, please do not forget the sleeping. My parents tell me that my dad would rock me for hours when I was a baby. When I get back in the car, the rhythms of the road must bring me back to those days as an infant. Even when I can't possibly sleep any more, I can will myself to sleep.

To make matters even more fun, these seven loves of my heart were going to be in Breckenridge at the same time. Sigh...heart melt.

We left the weekend before Thanksgiving and my man was a road warrior and drove the entire way. Just about when we were arriving in our condo and dreaming of what our week had in store for us, Isaac started feeling a little funny. Within a few hours it was apparent that he had the croup.

I was really disappointed. We had been battling sickness for almost 2 months prior to our trip and I was ready to be done. Between an altitude headache, nursing my baby girl extra because of the altitude and taking care of my little guy it took me a couple of days to get out of my funk of self pity. So gross.

It was unseasonably cold the week we were there (negative temps several days). Those temperatures, lots of snow, and strong winds were not a good combination for the babies so we spent countless hours in this living room.

We reacquainted ourselves with "Go Fish" and "Yahtzee" doing anything to keep us from cabin fever.

In the mornings we would take turns hanging out with the kids while the other person would go to the gym. If I'm going to be that close to a mountain and not snowboard, then THIS is how I like to work out...

With the negative temperatures, Joe was stoking the fire every hour for sheer necessity not just ambiance. We did made a pact to spoon by the fire every night and it was divine.

With all this sickness going around, our men sent us out for some girl time in the quaint downtown. I got to enjoy Nicole's wonderful company over a shared decadent salad and a latte...I could get used to that. I just love everything about her.

(pic to come)

While we were in CO, I had really hoped that Joe could do something fun and adventurous...let his manhood roar. Ice climbing and dog sledding were not in season. So snow mobiling it was. Him and John took the three older kids and by the time they got to the top of the mountain the kids were crying because their little bodies were so cold. What warriors!

Thankfully everyone recovered (mostly) in time for Thanksgiving so we could get together and have a feast. And a feast it was. John and Nicole had been watching the Food Network and they went all out. It was delicious.

The boys got to finally venture out into the snow for a little sledding!

Our last day in Colorado was my actual birthday and the Graves offered to watch our little people so we could have a lunch date. Lunch, coffee, and a little shopping with my man in the mountains on a gorgeous day...yes please!

Colorado, you know of my love for thee and thank you for treating us so kindly. We won't be back until our littlest is at least 4 (and we are hoping for more children)so its going to be awhile. Please don't take it personally.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Closing a Decade

Well folks, it is here. I get the blessed opportunity to spend my last day of my 20s on Thanksgiving. God orchestrated such a poetic coincidence to remind me of His hand on every detail in my life. When I look back at my 20s that is all I can do is fall on my face in utter Thanksgiving.

A Decade of His faithfulness.

When I have continually been in over my head in pride, self righteousness, anger, fear, vanity, love of this world, unforgiveness and unbelief yet He set His affections on me. He pursued my heart and graciously lead me to repentance.

He is my righteous. He is my peace. He is my utter joy. He is why I have anything to be thankful for.

God has blessed me so richly with this man to worship with, love with, and to walk through trials with.

Our son, has been a way God has brought deliverance. From myself. From idols. Isaac and I will dance in the face of every lesson we learn together and every stupid mistake I make. (of course he would stop dancing if he knew I was taking a pic so its from the back :)

Our girl, a picture of God's grace. A life we only hoped would make it. Her spirit is a joyful reminder of God's miraculous power.

My loving parents who sacrificed in every way, who love extravagantly, and who are my greatest cheerleaders. This decade has been a wonderful gift of reminding me of how grateful to have both of them not only as my mom and dad but as friends. They have taught me how to live life at its fullest and not hold anything back.

My gracious in-laws, I only could whisper a prayer for them for lack of faith to actually believe. God took that whisper and gave me more than I could have ever imagined. I will spend my life reminding you how thankful I am for all that you poured into my husband.

My brothers and sisters, the whole lot of you. You make life fun. You make me laugh. I cherish your friendship. I celebrate how incredibly different we all are and yet God saw fit that we be close not just because of blood but because of love.

My dearest friends, you are a gift. You are family. Your life begs everyone around you to reevaluate their own. Your encouragement reminds me of His truth. Oh how I dream about being next door to every last one of you.

One of my favorite parts of THIS year and how grateful I am that God brought a sweet friend to live near us! They have endured every last headache of country living with grace and a smile. After living in the country a good drive from from those we love, we have relished every day that they have been so close.

20s you have been good to me. I hear 30s get even better; I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Orphan Free Uganda- HIV/AIDS

The AIDS epidemic reached its peak in Uganda in the 90s but has been dramatically reduced in the last decade. It still affects over 6 % of their population which includes roughly 120, 000 children. There are still children who are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.

As we pray for Uganda today, let's first praise God for the mercy He has shown on their country and for the lives that have been transformed by the education, awareness, and aid they have received.

Uganda has now been set up as an example to other African countries to follow so lets pray:

-The people of this country would not only receive aid but the gospel.
-For God's continued protection over the health of the men, women, and children.
-People who are living with HIV/AIDS would have the medical treatment that they so desperately need.
-The children that have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS would have the care and love that they need.
-God would move in more people's hearts to open up their home to give these children a family.
-The aid that Uganda receives for this cause would be free from corruption.
-The people whose lives have been changed will pour out their lives for His glory.

So thankful to have each one of you standing with me and praying for God's kingdom to come in Uganda!

"God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me!" Psalm 161:1 The MSG

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Team New Life

Run for Compassion 2010, I <3 you.

This all started in 2004 when I first met Joe at church. Our house of girls became friends with his house of guys. Then mysteriously he would appear out in our neighborhood running when I was out running. He quickly became an avid runner. I just assumed that his interest in running was rooted in a deep passion for the hobby.

When we began courting and then became engaged, I had visions of us running around our future home, Dallas. I had visions of us pushing our kids in a jogging stroller. I had visions of running dates. I had visions of us running with our teenagers. I had visions of our family running to raise money for the kingdom.

Somehow our pre-marital counseling missed the question of - "Joseph Daniel, do you really like running?" My visions all came crashing down once we got married.

He likes to run for a prize. Running just to run is not his cup of tea. He described it more as...torture. Yes, yes he did. Ouch.

For the first four years of our marriage, I would head out for a run missing my partner. I laid down the idea that we would ever run together. I did pray on many occasions that he would make his health a priority (and maybe...just maybe... my running partner would come back).

We love Compassion and last spring we wanted to run to help raise awareness for the Child Survival Program. We ran a little before the race but we were both so out of shape that it was ugly. real ugly.

Race day came. I was 2 months post pardum and I was having a really hard time. I think in Joe's mind, he has always pictured himself as "high school Joe"... you know the one at the pinnacle of the athleticism. Then, he was amazed to see all these older men and women pass him with ease.

It was a reality check and a reminder to both of us that we needed to kick it into gear. God has only given us one body and we needed to be better stewards.

Since then, my man has been working like a rented mule up and down our country roads. He would MAKE time to work out. He would have a long day with work responsibilities, grab a kid or two (put them in the stroller or bike trailer), and head out for some country air and a little dust in his mouth.

He has been committed and I couldn't be prouder.

One night we were laying in bed and he said to me, "When are you going to stop acting surprised that I'm working out?" To which I apologized. I just honestly was trying to adjust from him exercising very rarely to working out several times a week no matter what he had going on. That's a big shift and I needed a little time to adjust.

He decided to sign up for an adventure race with Chris, a friend of from church. They set off for a three mile orienteering trail run, one mile canoe, 9 mile bike, mystery events, and then finished up with a three mile wrap up.

Similar to a triathlon, there is a transition area and the kids and I were so excited to see the guys after the second leg. I was trying to run after the guys holding Ely in one hand, camera in the other, barking orders to Isaac to keep up in the other all while trying to get the 411 from the guys. This team of two women yelled at me, "Hey baby mama, they are trying to compete. You need to step back."

Oh right. Forgot. No price is too big for a good pic, right?

It was a pretty chilly so in between transition times, the kids and I hung out in the car cheering them on.

The guys did great! I was so excited for them.

Now we are vacationing in Colorado and one of the things he was looking forward to was finding a gym to work out in (I mean, is this my husband??? wanting to work out every day of vacation...oh no, I'm really trying to quit being surprised).

Compassion, thank you for reminding us what is important in so many ways!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moms just want to have fun!

It was Megan's birthday and we were a little late celebrating so we were going to do it right.

A few of us met for dinner. There was talk about something "wild and crazy," but its Monday night.

What happens on Monday night? Nothing.

Ideas? Walking around Target. Is that not the most MOM suggestion you have ever heard. And it was mine. LAME-0.

After a few minutes of deliberating, out of the recesses of MY high school days came, "We could pull a prank on someone."

We were sold.

Between the three of us there were three husbands and five sleeping babies at home. Are we too old for this?

We called the best pranker we knew to ask for some free consulting and she happened to be headed to the exact coffee shop parking lot that we were sitting in. She hopped in the car and she told stories of her most infamous pranks. We laughed until our bellies hurt reminiscing of devious old times.

We decided on Kirby's brother and his roommate were prime targets for saran wrapping their cars. We got there to find that his roommate's car was the only one there. We decided to go for it anyway.

Please try to picture the two beautiful women that I am with are pregnant. And pranking. I am really out of my "A" game. A site for sore eyes.

"Someone" bumps the side mirror with her elbow and the car starts to make some really abnoxious noises. They immediately bolt off; I've never seen two preggos move so fast. I, on the other hand, duck down into the grass and get into Jack Bauer mode. Then I realized they weren't coming back so I took off towards the car.

His car= too sensitive. This prank was a no go.

We have supplies and we are out late. We can't go home with our tail between our legs.

Who else would think this funny? None other than the queen of pranks herself. Yes, we decide to go back to the coffee shop parking lot and pull a prank on one of our favorite college girls.

There were parking lot lights as bright as the sun. She was parked in the very front near the doors and there were people walking out of the coffee shop about every minute. We didn't get arrested and not one single person said anything to us. Not one.

Then, we took this picture and sent it to her.

We love you, Stephanie. Thanks for inspiring us!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Baby book guilt

Baby book guilt.

We all have it. Things we forgot to write down. Wish we would have written more often. For the life of me, the things I thought I would never forget are lost in the sea of mom brain mush.

So for our anniversary last spring, Joe used Blog2Print to print my blog. Its one thing to see your writing on the computer screen, but its another to hold it with your hands. It felt like it put weight to 2009 and I could pass that down to our kids. So they could look back and hear from "my voice" what life was like then. The good, the sad, and the fun.

For Nicole's birthday, I printed some of her blog for her. She sent me this picture of her sweet daughter who got inspired from one of their stories to dress up in order to finish reading.

For all you bloggers out there, who do you need to forward this to for Christmas? ;)