Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Snowflakes that stay..."

I think the best part of being "snowed in", which doesn't happen much around here, is that we find time to enjoy the simple things in life that we normally don't slow down long enough to enjoy. Oh the fun that we have had in this winter wonderland...and these are a few of our favorite things moments!

...Snowflakes that really did stay on our noses and eyelashes!...

...sharing a first bowl of snow with a friend...

...Daddy getting to come home early from work to be a kid himself... (PS: This snow angel was made during it was not to entertain a baby, but rather OURSELVES!)

Pulling out every warm piece of clothing we own and modge-podging "snowsuits" just so we can play outside! (like my garden "gloves"?... NOT so warm...:) )

... walking through the fields and taking in God latest masterpiece (isn't He the most amazing ARTIST???), with Gavin... and playing fetch!

...Just sitting in the driveway watching Joey pull Braxton down the road behind the four wheeler, on his joke! Shaelyn Jade thought it was so funny....

...watching Briley sled down hills so fast...and crash over and over again... til her face looked like this, and she covered her head in band-aids! I asked her if she slept with a cat in her pillow! :) She is one tough cookie!

Laying in the floor, watching one of my favorite movies, Sound of Music, and watching the boys climb all over Rich... he has the patience of Job! :)

... Dancing in the kitchen with Aunt Courtney...

...Playing bumper cars with Bear...

...being one of the big kids (Shaelyn Jade loved the nonstop-kids-in-her-face...really!) ...and getting to spend time with our friend, Cate Calmus (and her fam)!

...and after all this fun, the best part was that we just put on our PJs and spent the night..not one but TWO nights!!! We loved our weekend, pretending we were helplessly snowed in at Joey and Courtney's house! What treasured memories we have made...

Friday, January 29, 2010


This is the newest name tossed around our family conversations these days.

Kara is the beautiful face above, pictured with my knot-head brother, Gavin. We're still not sure how he managed to get her to look at him twice, but...he did! What can we say...he's a charmer! :) Gavin and Kara have been dating a few months now and we have really enjoyed getting to know her. She's got such a fun personality with a true love for Jesus, and her light really shines! Plus, she's got just enough "spunk" to handle Gavin! :) Kara, we think you're a doll! Come see us again, soon, girl!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

These ARE the days...

Grabbed lunch today with a couple of our favorite "lunch date" partners, Courtney and Barron...and when I went back and looked at the pictures, it dawned on me that these two friends won't always be a phone call away for a quick lunch date. To be honest, I try real hard not to remember that sometime this year, Joey, Courtney, and their family will be halfway around the world from me. That thought makes a big knot creep up in my throat and my eyes start stinging and tears form in my eyes... all from just that thought.

I cannot imagine Courtney not being a phone call away. I call her almost every day for something or another... whether a mommy question, to plan a get together, or just a good laugh with someone. She is so much more than a sister-in-law to me. I have no sisters, really, but she is as close to one as I could ask for. And she is my friend. I have so much fun with her...and I have grown to depend on her. I feel so blessed that I love my family so much---and that I WILL miss them ALL so much! Since they told us they would be moving to Africa, I have tried to ease myself into the idea of her, of all of them, being so far away...but some days, like today, it hits me like a ton of bricks and I just cry. I am so excited that God chose them... they are so qualified, in my eyes, for their calling...but I selfishly do not want to give up these wonderful days, these moments of friendship and raising babies together. I love these days.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Birthday To Our Boyfriend...

Well today is my favorite person's birthday... that's right, folks- Big Rich turned 31 today! I met him when he was 23 and he has given me the best 7 years of my life!

We started the birthday weekend with a surprise for the birthday boy...a clean truck (thanks to Mile's Auto Spa)! Shaelyn Jade and I kidnapped his truck while he was at work and got it detailed...check out those shiny wheels! He loved it... let's just say Rich isn't that into keeping his truck cleaned out! :)

Our dear friend, Robin, kept Shaelyn Jade and we went out for a special "date night" - the classic dinner and a movie... dinner at his favorite restaurant (O'Charley's of all places!) and then to see Lovely Bones (SCARY!!!!). It was such a special date...just like we used to get to do all the time. Funny the things you take for granted that end up being so special...

Today, I told Rich we were gonna spend his day ANY WAY he wanted... and he said he just wanted to stay home and be together...and catch an England soccer game! Love my "home"boy! :) We did have a few visitors drop in to loan him a birthday hat and sing to him...

Tonight, Rich's favorite boys (and their girls...and our MANY kiddos) met @ Chuy's in Cool Springs for a fabulous birthday dinner. Wow that place is BUSY...and just in case you ever plan on taking a group of 26 there... BE SURE you go PLENTY early (as hour early is NOT early enough!) :) Regardless of the wait, we hung out and really enjoyed our time together...and eventually did get a yummy dinner!

...some of Rich's closest friends...

And to end his special day, Rich enjoyed his favorite dessert--- Mrs. Sue's Chocolate Cake! Ms. Sue is our dear friend who owns Sue's Gyros in Franklin (next to Subway on 96). She and her precious (late) husband, Kimo, have been so good to us over the years and we always tell everyone we can to go eat there! Great food served from a big heart! I just stopped in for a salad yesterday and she INSISTED that I let her make him his birthday cake. He was so surprised and happy... and the whole crowd LOVED it! Everything she makes is fantastic!

We had a great couple days celebrating Rich's life...but I must say that every day with him in my life is so special. It has been the most incredible journey over the past 7 years. When I met him, he was an atheist. Today, he is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and seeks, every day, to let His light and His love shine. He is the most kind person I have ever known... that's my favorite quality about him. But, really, there are so many things I love about him: his love for Jesus, his humor, his height,his love for soccer, his strength, his love for books, his compassion for the less fortunate, his heart for orphans, his adoration for his baby girl...and the way he has always made me feel like the MOST special girl in the world, just to name a few!

Rich, you know that you are the best thing that ever happened to me, and I love you with all of my heart. I am so THANKFUL that God gave me YOU to spend my life surpass all of my wildest dreams! This past year has been amazing as I have watched you become the best Dad to our Shaelyn Jade.

I can't wait to celebrate the next 31 years together... "It's you and me, baby.... til the wheels fall off!!!" I love you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hidden Talents...

Have you ever wondered if there are hidden talents laying somewhere within you---- amazing, God-given abilities that you have yet to discover...that could dazzle, possibly change, the world??? Well that thought struck me tonight when I found the following youtube video. It's 8 minutes...but I promise it goes by so fast, and is well worth that time. I wondered, "How in the world did this girl discover this amazing, artistic ability within herself... with SAND???" I found myself focusing on a, "perhaps", undiscovered talent somewhere within when I remembered the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Basically, a master entrusted 3 servants with different amounts of "talents". The first 2 servants went and increased their talents, and the master was pleased with their efforts when he returned. The third slave, however, went and buried his treasure. When the master returned he presented his one talent he was given back to his master, who was very angry...and banished him. I realized that it doesn't really matter what talents lay buried within me, undiscovered, if I am not making the most of the ones that I am SURE God has entrusted me with.

Friends, I desperately want to use my talent for painting for God's glory, and ask that, if you have a minute today, would pray for me? Sometimes I think I am waiting for the clouds to roll back and God's voice to thunder through creation for me, to confirm exactly how I am to use it...rather than trusting that the talent within me is confirmation enough. But really, I just think I am afraid to begin. Perhaps that third servant was just afraid, but it didn't really matter, in the end, WHY he didn't make the most of his talent, but just that he didn't. Pray that I would have courage to go out on a limb with the talents God has given me.

I would love to know what talents lie in each of you, my readers, that "perhaps" could be useful for God's kingdom...and I promise to pray for each of you, as well. Leave me a comment and let me know...and tell me what you think of this youtube video!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Babies Don't Keep...

I didn't even realize it until tonight that it is Shaelyn Jade's 8 month birthday today...but I guess it was appropriate that I had my first "mommy meltdown" earlier today. Our new thing this week is mimicking each other. She makes a silly noise, like blowing bubbles, and I do it she repeats it. Then I will make a different noise and she will do it after me. She is getting so smart! :) Anyways, today in the nursery I looked into her big brown eyes and said, "Can you say BA BA BA BA???"...She smiled so proudly and just belted the exact tones back to me..." And I am not exactly sure why, but that sweet babbled phrase just sorta hit me in the gut and I realized, in an instant, that my little baby will grow up someday...and I cannot hold her in my arms forever. One second later I found myself in a heap of tears, holding her as close as I could, pleading her to stay just like she is today, forever... telling her that these past 8 months have been the best days of my life, so far... and she has brought me a lifetime of joy already! She just babbled on and on to me with that smile that steals my heart each day, like she perfectly understood every word I said...and I imagined that she was making a promise not to grow up! But when I put her into her PJs tonight, which she got for Christmas, and which are fitting "snug" already, I was reminded, again, that "babies don't keep". Alas, my little weed will keep growing, no matter how many tears I cry, so I will just try to capture all these memories forever. As Shakespeare so aptly said, "Tis in my memory locked, and you yourself shall keep the key of it...", my Shaelyn Jade.

I found the following poem a little while back, and it is perfect for this day. As I "busy" through each day with my "to-do list", I pray, Dear Lord, that I will have wisdom to slow down and just hold my precious baby girl.

Song For A Fifth Child

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

~Ruth Hulburt Hamilton (1958)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finally Here.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a mom. More than anything else, really. I guess the same way that some people want to be a doctor or lawyer or astronaut... I have always wanted a family. A large family, at that! Since I never really had many boyfriends, I remember wondering (at the ripe old age of 20) if I would EVER find a husband and have my family. Then I found my Rich...and now we have our baby girl...So on nights like tonight, when I walk into Shaelyn Jade's nursery and see this......I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. I am finally here. These are the things that really matter.

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
~2 Corinthians 9:15

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For Victor and for Genesis

The story starts in England, about 30 years ago, when a middle-aged woman, who was feeling useless in the world, stumbled upon the opportunity to "sponsor a needy child." She thought to herself, "I have no family of my own... and I have the extra few dollars a month...", so she signed up. She didn't choose the child... she just decided to let God send her the child He wanted her to help. She later thought to herself, "Odd English woman and an African BOY...wonder if he will even respond to me?"... but she decided to write him a letter anyways...and thus began their correspondence. She asked him to write back to her what he liked to do, what he was good at...

This little boy was feeling equally useless in his world, but the news that someone, somewhere (albeit an English WOMAN) cared enough to sponsor him filled his heart with excitement, and he wrote her back immediately! However, he really could not think of anything he was really good at...he was mediocre in school, mediocre at sports, mediocre at home...but he told her that he liked to RUN.

Oh how excited she was that her little boy wrote her back! She could hear his need of encouragement, and suddenly she had a purpose, no matter how far away he was. She wrote him back and told him that God loved him...she began to tell him about Jesus in her letters...and she told him that if he loved to run, then to "run with all your heart!!!!"

Through the years, as they both grew older, this unlikely pair became dear friends. They waited for letters, they prayed daily for each other, they experienced each other's joys, and sorrows. She always asked how his running was going...and he would proudly write back that he was the fastest boy in his class... he was the fastest boy in his school... he was the fastest boy in his VILLAGE! Her letters about Jesus led him to his first Bible, and to a personal relationship with His Savior.

One ordinary day, this elderly English woman heard a knock at her door. She opened it to find a tall, bright-eyed African man standing before her. In his hand he held an Olympic GOLD Medal, and though she'd never seen him in person, she knew immediately that this was her little runner, all grown up. With big tears in his eys, he said, "This is for you. Without you, I never would have run with all my heart."


This is the story that a man from Compassion International told at our church a couple years back that stirred my heart to sponsor a child. Well you know us- Rich and I LOVE children... so we actually adopted two! And thus, our stories have begun with two children far away. Victor Muzoora lives in Africa. He is the cutest little 11 year old boy you have ever seen! He loves SOCCER, like Rich...and Jesus already! He always draws the cutest pictures of animals, and we can tell by his letters that he loves the satisfaction of helping others. Genesis Sarai Alvarez is only 6. She was the sweetest little round face on the table, the day I picked her. I correspond with her mother and sister, since she cannot write, yet...but wouldn't you know God matched me with a little artist, and I receive the most precious pictures every time.

God sends some of us directly to these needy people, like my brother, Joey, and sister-in-law, Courtney. Who knows where God will lead us, but we pray we will have the courage to follow Him. Until then, I know that God placed these two kids in our "remote care"... and our monthly donations make all the difference in their lives, as well as our love letters. Sometimes, a child only needs encouragement.

Are you at a place where God could use your "extras" to change the life of a child somewhere? If so, I encourage you to follow my new link on my sidebar to Compassion International, and sponsor a child. As is always the case, we have found that WE are the greater recipients. We have been SO BLESSED by Victor and Genesis, and pray that God will use us to help them find their "gold medals".

If you do decide to sponsor, please let me know! I would love to follow your story, too!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Partying like it was 2-0-1-0!!!

To ring in the New Year we got a group together for dinner at Sportman's Grill and then headed back to Joey and Courtney's house for more fun. We laughed and laughed at Briley's Cranium charades, and our family favorite (aptly named) the "Family Game"...and even stayed awake to see the ball drop!

We worked really hard on getting partnered up to try and put together 2-0-1-0 with our hands for this picture...and most of us STILL didn't get it right!

Then we spent New Year's Day on our land doing what Hosanna and Emily had been wanting to do all week.... riding four wheelers! It was freezing cold outside, but thanks to Nathan's camou-fetish they were bundled up warm...and only their toes almost froze off! :)

Happy New Years to ALL... May God continue to bless you in 2010!

Sippin' & Strokin'!!!

Well, my mother-in-law and I decided that we needed some catch up time, so we left the rest of the group and headed out for a "girls night out" on our own! We had so much fun eating dinner at Swanky's and then going for my second round (her first!) of Sips N Strokes. If you haven't been and you like painting at all you need to go! It is so fun an relaxing...and we just laughed and laughed all night. It was just what we needed! I love you, Mum, and am always so thankful for our relationship and the times we get together! Miss you already and can't wait for you to come back!!!