A Thankful Heart

These last few weeks have been crazy busy for us, and unfortunately, they are only going to get busier with the holidays now in full swing. I keep asking myself, how is it already December 1? Christmas is in 24 days and we are up to our elbows in holiday parties, family gatherings, and just the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. So, with all of this business around us, I am thankful that we were able to get away for several days this past week and disconnect.

We spent the last 6 days in Blue Ridge , Georgia with my side of the family for Thanksgiving. Some much needed family time was over due.We were originally hoping Bryan’s parents could join us, but they had already made plans to go to Lawton, Oklahoma to be with Mrs. Shirley’s family for Thanksgiving.

We left last Tuesday at 4:00AM headed to the airport. *Shoutout to Bryan’s dad for kindly driving us there*. Our flight left at 6:00AM, and we didn’t arrive in Blue Ridge until around 2:00. It was better than driving, but still a long trip for a 13 month old, but Caleb did great to be traveling and cooped up for 6+ hours.  I love taking family trips because we always just relax and come away with great memories. We spent our mornings playing with Caleb, drinking coffee as the sun came up, watching the deer, and eating hearty breakfasts. We spent our evenings around the table eating lots of yummy food, making s’mores down at the firepit, watching football, and finished them off with some quality time in the hot tub. We also had an adventure at least once a day. One day we hiked to Marble Falls, one day we took family photos and went into town, we watched the Christmas parade, and went to Mercier Orchards. It was a perfect week away, and I personally needed some disconnection time. As a stay at home mom, I can often misuse my time, spending it on facebook or instagram, or spend hours texting back and forth with friends, and completely miss out on the fun day with my kid. So for me, it was great to have no distractions and just enjoy being with my family.

Here are some fun memories we made:

 

I am so thankful that the Lord has provided Bryan a job where he has a flexible schedule and can take time away to be with our family. Our time away blessed me tremendously, but it also makes me miss my family that much more, 10 hours away is so FAR! We are now back in Dallas and getting back into the swing of things, and we have a busy December ahead of us.

Caleb’s great aunt Carol is in town visiting, so we will get to spend some time with her and Bryan’s parents this weekend, which we are really looking forward to. We also have Bryan’s work Christmas party, our community Christmas, Watermark’s Equipped Disciple Chili Party, and countless other things this month. Since we spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family, we will be staying here for Christmas to spend time with Bryan’s family. We are both looking forward to starting our own Christmas traditions and spending Christmas day with his parents, eating thanksgiving food over again, watching basketball, and playing with Caleb.

One cool thing I wanted to share that the Lord has done in the last month is provide money for the Hope Mommies retreat I am going on in February. I mentioned Hope Mommies in a previous post about our miscarriage. They are a non-profit for women who have suffered from infant loss. The retreat is $285 and we had been praying that the Lord would provide the funds for me to be able to go. Well, of course he would, He’s God and $285 is nothing to him-he owns everything. And, He knows all of our needs before we even ask them. We had already paid for the retreat when a few days later we get a letter in the mail from the surgery center where I had my D&C performed saying the overcharged us $250. Bryan proceeds to say he is going to call them and get our money back. The very next envelope Bryan opens is from the surgery center with a check for $250. We stood in amazement. The very reason I am going to the Hope Mommies Retreat is because we lost Arden and Nasa, and I had to have the D&C. And they are the very ones paying my way for me to go on this trip. How crazy! Well, we were still $35 short, but the following week, Bryan would open a letter from a client of his with a check for $35 because Bryan had referred him some business. Bryan had forgotten all about that. The $285 taken care of. THANK YOU LORD!! He is so good and kind in all of his ways, and though the loss of our children may not have been our plan; He is establishing our steps and walking us along the best path for our lives, and for that I am grateful.

Also, a little update on Caleb: He is growing so fast. At his one year check up he weighed 19 pounds and was 30 inches long. His favorite foods are bananas, apple sauce, sweet potatoes, blueberries and oatmeal with cinnamon. He is walking all over the place. He loves to talk with you. He can sign: “all done and more”. We are working on “thank you” and “bath”. He enjoys reading, his favorite books right now are “Good Night God” and “My Little Pumpkin”. He is still sleeping through the night like a champ. And he loves to listen to music, dance, and play with his soccer ball.

 

Celebrations

Over the last few weeks, we have had a lot of things to celebrate. Our son, Caleb, turned 1, and Bryan and I celebrated 2 years of marriage. These celebrations came a the perfect time, as we have been grieving the loss of our sweet children Arden & Nasa. The Lord knows what we need and when we need it, and the Lord gives good gifts. I strongly believe that. And, he has given us 2 great gifts these last few weeks.

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year since Caleb was born. What joy he has brought into our lives. He is one of God’s gracious mercies to me in my life. I learn so much from him. He teaches me about my walk with the Lord and the Lord’s love for me daily. Although, Caleb was not in our 3 year plan, the Lord had a better plan and I cannot imagine our lives without the little guy.

We celebrated his birthday on Monday October 19. Our community group put together a surprise party for Caleb. We came home from counseling and Bryan began knocking on our front door, which I thought was really odd. But, I also thought, well maybe there is a babysitter in there and we are going on a surprise date, since the night before we had a disagreement. I was wrong. The door opened and there stood our community group and fully decorated house, all for Caleb. It was the perfect blessing in the middle of mourning. There were decorations and present and dinner and cake. CAKE! I was so shocked there was cake because Bryan and I had talked about not getting Caleb a cake because he doesn’t need all that sugar. But our sweet friend Amy got him a gluten free, vegan cake, and it was delicious in every way. It was the perfect birthday celebration, and I am so thankful for our community who will go out of their way to love us and our son.

caleb birthday 2 caleb birthday 3 caleb birthday 4  caleb's birthdaycaleb birthday 5

This past weekend, Bryan and I celebrated 2 years of marriage. November 9 is our anniversary, which is 364 days after our first date on November 10, 2012. The last 2 years have been a complete whirlwind. My dad jokes that marriage is like a roller coaster, and you can’t ever get off. I would agree with that. There are ups and downs and loops and turns, and you just have to buckle up and hang on. But what fun marriage is. I absolutely love being Mrs. Bryan Robert. God knew that B was the very man I needed to do life with. He sharpens me, encourages me, challenges me, loves me so well, makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, and always speaks the truth to me. I strive to be a better woman, wife, friend, daughter, and mother because of how he leads our family. I am thankful the Lord allowed me to marry such a godly man.

Since we are living on a tight budget these days, we decided a great way to celebrate our anniversary would be camping, and boy was that a blast. We went up to Lake Murray in Oklahoma for 2 nights. We hiked, relaxed by the lake, explored, rested, read, and ate lots of s’mores. It was good for us to get away and disconnect with the world and reconnect with one another. We are now hooked on camping. We’ve only been twice since we’ve been married-in Colorado this summer and then this past weekend, but we’ve decided we are going to be going camping a lot more…time to invest in some camping equipment. Here are some pictures from our camping trip.

camping 2 camping 3 camping 4 camping 5 camping 6 camping

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Joy in the midst of suffering

These last few weeks have been marked by suffering. They have been some of the most difficult days we have faced since marriage. Yet, we have heard from those around us that they are encouraged by our faith during this time and can see our joy even in the midst of the storm.

So what is JOY? defined – the inner attitude of rejoicing in one’s salvation regardless of outward circumstances. One of the fruits of a right relationship with God. JOY was created in the character of God. Joy was born in the person of Jesus Christ. We can have JOY by trusting the Lord, because He is JOY.

So, how can you have JOY in the midst of suffering?

I believe the answer lies where your HOPE is. Our hope was not in our children, our hope was not in being the perfect parents, our hope was not in carrying our babies to full term, our hope was not in having another unmedicated 6 hour labor, our hope was not in the health of our babies; however, our HOPE lies in CHRIST. And He is enough to fill us with JOY.

The bible tells us in James 1:2-3 “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great JOY. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

That verse says WHEN troubles come, not IF, but when. They will come, and you should count them as JOY. God blesses those who patiently endure testing, and when we are patient our endurance grows and then we will be complete in Christ. How incredible is that? Through testing our endurance grows which leads to completeness in Christ. We are made more like Christ through trials. Someone once told us that the 5th floor isn’t the place to get your theology, you better now your theology before you get there, and you will get there, so take time now to seek your father. What great insight is that?

Tommy Nelson once said, “you know you are in the will of God by the adversity you are facing, and adversity births growth.” We cannot grow individually or in our relationship with Christ unless we face adversity. What great news that is! If I want to grow in Christ, it is a GOOD thing to face adversity.

God tell us to “Be truly glad, there is wonderful JOY ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7  I remember when I came across this verse a few weeks ago, it spoke straight to me. I can trust in God because he is working all things for my good and He will bring JOY, I just have to be patient and trust him and his plan.

He also tells us in 1 Peter 5:10 “After you have suffered a little while the God of all HOPE who has called you to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord will himself RESTORE, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN and ESTABLISH you.” He will heal us, he will restore us, we simply must hope in him. It is that simple.

Through my HOPE in Christ, I can have JOY in ANY & ALL circumstances, because my JOY is not dependent upon what all is going on around me. My JOY comes from Christ and him alone.  No matter what situation you are facing-good or bad-take it to the feet of Jesus, and find rest in him, ask him for JOY and he will gladly give it to you. You will face trials in this life. How are you going to respond when you get the phone call, or the doctor gives you the news you didn’t want to hear, or your job lays you off? My prayer is that you would be JOYFUL always and give thanks in all circumstances. This does not mean you cannot weep or be sorrowful, it just means that in the midst of the storm, you can still find JOY, there is still a reason to sing.

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

For Arden & Nasa

I have been trying to write this post for several weeks now, and every time I sit down to write it, I don’t like the way it sounds, or I get stuck with what to say and how to say it. I am by no means an English major, or a writer; however, I do enjoy expressing my thoughts through writing. These are the hardest words I have ever had to write…so, here goes the raw, real, unedited thoughts to my sweet precious tiny babies:

Arden Hope & Nasa James,

I miss you so both so much. Is it crazy to miss someone you’ve never even met before. How can 2 people who never walked this earth have such a HUGE impact on your life? It has been a month since we found out you have gone home to be with the Lord, and it has been 2 weeks since you were taken from my womb. I have been wrestling with guilt and shame by having you removed from my womb, verses letting you pass naturally. I still wonder if God could have revived your lives had we not chosen to have the D&C, but we will never know the answer to that. Most days, I just want to lie in bed and not get out, because then I have to face reality. Every day is a struggle, waking up to what seems like a dream, but knowing I am living in dark reality-a hard reality that I have to face-that the Lord decided to take y’all home; therefore marking me as a women who has had a miscarriage. A miscarriage, never in a million years did I think that would happen to me; although to admit, that was my BIGGEST fear with this pregnancy. I was so terrified the Lord would take y’all from me before y’all were able to be here on this earth, and indeed he did just that. Part of me is thankful that y’all do not have to endure this hard, dark, and broken world; and part of me is sad because I will never get to hold you, hear you laugh, hear you talk, give you advice, watch you grow up, play with you, enjoy life with you, make memories with you and watch you do incredible things. That is the hardest part, wanting something so badly and never being able to have it. But as he has been teaching me over the last several years, His plans our not our own, and his ways our not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts.

Every day feels like a physical beating. Some days are harder than others. It’s hard to look around me and see friends who are now pregnant, see the birth of babies all around and know that I will never give birth to my two precious gifts. For the first time in my life, I am really questioning God. Why did this tragedy have to happen to us? Knowing God doesn’t make mistakes, but still asking, are you sure God? Did you get it wrong this time? How is this plan for my good? I have been asking him “WHY?” lately too. WHY did he have to take y’all? WHY did y’all have to die? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? I have grieved, been sad, mad, angry, confused and afraid. Afraid that my womb will be closed forever. Afraid that I may never give birth to any more children. Afraid that miscarriage after miscarriage will continue to happen. And those fears can eat me alive because I want a big family, I want lots of children..So many questions and so many fears that I have brought all before the Lord;  he hasn’t given me any answers yet, and I may never get them, but I have choose to believe that He has good plans for us, hopeful and prosperous plans. And through all of this and all the pain, all the hurt, all the questions, he has been right here with me, and with Bryan. He is our refuge, our shelter, our strength, our place of rest. And he is carrying us through this. And even though we may not understand, he does. And he is still in control, he is still sovereign, he still holds me in the palm of my hand. And he gives me strength for each day. He tells me not to fear or to be afraid. He is guiding me. And he is writing my beautiful story. The story he planned out for my life before even time began.

I hate that y’all don’t have the chance to get to know me or your father or your big brother Caleb or your grandparents. You would love your daddy’s goofy side. He would chase you all around the house and kiss you all over and wrestle with you and teach you about the Lord, and how to walk with him daily and how to memorize scripture, and the importance of managing your money and teach you how to play basketball. Caleb would have been your best friend. He would have looked out after y’all and not let y’all be bullied. He would have played with y’all, and kept y’all company when you were feeling lonely. He would laugh with y’all and watch cartoons with y’all. And me, I would teach you the importance of manners, and how to cook and host people, and I would tell you that I love you and am proud of you every day, and I would let you eat a snack in the living room, even though your daddy hated that; and I would teach you how to dance and how to write and read to you. I would let y’all sleep in the bed with us and snuggle with you for hours. I would hold y’all on my hips in my arms for hours on end, just to have you close. Oh how we all love you both so very much, and though you are gone, you are not forgotten. And though you will not come to us, we will one day come to y’all.

I remember the day we found out we were pregnant with y’all. I had a gut feeling we were having twins because y’all had made me so nauseated. We were so excited, but were quickly filled with grief when Dr. Hagood told us neither one of y’all had heartbeats. I couldn’t believe it, it didn’t seem right. We didn’t understand-at all, but we knew it was a chance for the Lord to act and for us to trust in his will for y’all. We prayed fervently for you both to be raised from the dead. We asked God to bring breath back into your dry bones, to begin to let your little hearts beat again (Ezekiel 37). We wanted a miracle, we wanted y’all to live here with us. We asked others in our church body to join us in prayer; friends and family all around were praying for you both. But the Lord chose not to answer our prayer in the way we wanted, but he did answer. He gave you both breath and you are living again, only its not here with us, and I have to be okay with that, because he doesn’t have to answer us the way we want. But it still doesn’t take the pain away and I still do not understand why. But I do know that you both were fearfully and wonderfully made and that he had your days numbered before you were born and that every day of your life was recorded in his book. Every moment of your lives were laid out before a single day had passed.

It has been a hard month sifting through the pain, the questions, the tears-a lot of tears. I don’t like to face reality, because when I do it is hard, very hard to come to grips with the fact that neither one of you are here. I know in my head that you both are in a better place, but its my heart that is having a hard time believing. I know you are with our Father being loved on and cared for so much more than you could have received from anyone here on earth. But that still doesn’t mend my brokenness. It does however, give me hope, because I know one day we will be reunited with each of you, we one day meet you and be able to love on you and worship our father together. So, until that day, I will continue to trust the Lord and his plan for us and continue to hope that we will one day meet y’all.

Know dear children you are dearly loved and dearly missed. So though, for now, we do not understand, we are trusting on our God and his good and perfect plan for us, knowing that this trouble is producing for us a glory that will last forever. And we are choosing to fix our eyes on what we cannot see. At the end of the day, he is enough and that is what we are choosing to belief.

Our prayer for this tragedy has been that the Lord would glorify himself through the twins, and that he would show us how he will glorify himself. It has been so incredible to see him already answer that prayer, as we have begun to share about our loss with others around us. Understanding my Father and his ways, is something I will never be able to do. But it is so sweet to watch him work and bring hope to even the darkest of situations. He is a good good father, it is who he is. And we are loved by him, it is who we are.

“Come, let us return to the Lordfor he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lordhis going out is sure as the dawn; he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3

Our precious twin babies
Arden Hope and Nasa James received their names on 10/18/2015. Arden & Nasa both mean “to be lifted high”. They went home to be with the Lord on September 4, 2015.

If you or someone you know is walking through miscarriage, know you are not alone. Know, it is very common. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Know that you are loved and cared for and prayed for and that God is right there with you. When you walk through deep valleys-He is with you. When the storms rage against you-He is with you. He will carry you through. There is a great ministry called Hope Mommies that is for moms who experience the loss of a child. Please check our their website at http://www.hopemommies.org

Veggie Edamame Noodle Pad Thai

Last night Bryan and I had planned to have tilapia & broccoli for supper, but when we left our tilapia at his parents’ house, we had to come up with Plan B. I had already planned to make some Asian inspired dishes this week, so I thought I would rearrange our dinner menu for the week.

While we were at Costco on Saturday we found these organic, gluten free edamame spaghetti noodles. Since we don’t eat gluten or grains (minus the occasional quinoa and organic brown rice) I thought this would be a great substitute for pasta.

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I thought I would try to make some homemade veggie pad thai for the first time. Since we had a TON of fresh vegetables and we had just bought this big box or organic edamame spaghetti…and boy, it did not disappoint.

Several friends have asked for the recipe, so here is how I made homemade veggie pad thai:

  1. I boiled the noodles as directed on the box, but only used about 1/3 of the noodles because there are so many.
  2. In a medium skilled, on medium heat, I sauteed chopped broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onion, and garlic together with coconut oil & coconut aminos

Pad Thai Sauce (combine all ingredients & whisk together in small bowl):

  • 1/2 cup almond butter (we use Costco’s kind)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut aminos or other soy sauce (we don’t eat soy, so we use coconut aminos)
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes (can omit if do not like spicy food)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • i added a few tablespoons of water as needed to thin the mixture

Once the noodles are done and the veggies are thoroughly cooked, strain the noodles, pour back into pan & add a little bit of avocado oil or butter to keep from sticking together, add the veggies, and then pour the sauce over & mix together. Serve immediately.

pad thai

Living on Mission

We have spent the last 10 days in Alabama and Florida for my best friends wedding and a vacation for Bryan and I. Caleb stayed at my parents for what my mom calls “Bama Camp” while Bryan and I were able to get away for a few days and relax. It was so nice to spend some much coveted time with my family, our friends, and alone time with Bryan.

My best friend since 2nd grade, Rachel, married her college sweetheart, Matt on August 8. I was honored to be apart of the wedding. I absolutely love weddings, not only is there usually amazing food and dancing, but it is the perfect picture of Christ and the church. I love being reminded of his love for me and my responsibility to Him. It was so sweet being able to celebrate Rachel & Matt with my family. I was also able to see some old friends that I had seen in years; trying to catch each other up on our lives in line while waiting for food or meeting each other outside the bathroom lobby. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3 that says “for everything there is a season” and that weekend was a great season of celebrating & feasting.

FAMILY AUGUST 2015
The whole gang at Rachel & Matt’s Reception
RACHEL AUGUST 2015
Rachel & I at the rehearsal dinner
WEDDING AUG 2015
My sweet family at the reception

Bryan and I left on Monday headed to Panama City. Some dear family friends of ours let us use their beach house for the week. Time away with him was much needed, as we haven’t had a vacation or extended alone time since before Caleb was born. I was a little anxious as to how the week would play out, what we would talk about, and what we would do, since we didn’t have Caleb to tend to at every moment. But the sweet Lord came through, as he always does and filled our time. We threw the frisbee on the beach for hours on end, talked about our dreams, goals, jobs, future children; you name it, we talked about it. We found a local restaurant that we loved and we ate there twice during our stay. We had veggie tacos pretty much every night & we topped of the nights with a glass of red wine and some popcorn (one of our favorite things to do together), we were able to eat at one of my favorite seafood restaurants, Captain Anderson’s and spent our last night at this incredible Frozen Yogurt place called Chill. It was a very sweet time laughing together, praying together, reading together, and just relaxing. We couldn’t have had a better time or asked for better weather.

CAPT ANDERSONS AUGUST 2015
Bryan & I at Captain Anderson’s
beach august 2014
Sunrise at PCB
PCB 2015
Hanging on the Beach

But I would say the biggest blessing of our time away was reading and working through Francis & Lisa Chan’s book “You & Me Forever”. If you are married, dating, or heck, even if you’re single, I highly recommend getting a copy of this book and working through it. It really opened our eyes and help us see that we need to be living on mission. When we are living on mission & focused on the mission, our marriage will succeed. I think Francis said it best when he said “The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on the marriage.” Rather, focus on the mission, daily die to self & focus on Christ. Then your marriage will be great. So my question for you is What does living on mission look like in your life? Is it moving to Africa and loving on the families there? Is it choosing to be faithful where you are? Is it making a conscience effort to share the gospel more? There are so many options, so many ways to live on mission. We believe right now in this season that God is calling us to be faithful where we are, with the people and boundaries around us. Our prayer is that God would help us live on mission and provide us opportunities to do that here in Dallas through our jobs, church, friends, families and people we meet every day; and the cool thing is, is that we have already seen him beginning to answer that prayer.

As for Caleb, he is almost 10 months now. He has 7, yes 7, teeth! He is full of so much JOY. It radiates off of him. He is one of the most joyful people I know, even if he is only 9 months old. We are savoring this time with him. He loves having us read books to him. His favorite books are The Color Book and Moo, Ba, La La La. He loves listening and dancing to music. His favorite foods are bananas, oatmeal, and applesauce. His favorite thing to do is walk around the coffee table. His favorite time is when Bryan comes home and they spend that last hour together. It is so sweet to watch Caleb’s face always light up when Bryan walks through the door. I dare say, it’s one of my favorite times of the day as well.

caleb august 2015
Caleb eating lunch in his favorite chair
Caleb's favorite toy at Gran Bama's & Gidge's
Caleb’s favorite toy at Gran Bama’s & Gidge’s

The remainder of this month is pretty low-key for us. Bryan is busy getting back into the groove at the bank and I am trying to maximize my time at home with Caleb in the best possible way. Today we started Transform30, which is similar to the Whole30, but less restrictive. I love when we treat our bodies as the temples that they are. My prayer is that through the next 30 days the Lord would be honored by our efforts.

Colorado

Well, July has definitely been a busy month. Bryan was in Colorado for 2 weeks attending banking school at University of Colorado at Boulder. It was really an answer to our prayers that he was able to go, and God provided in crazy ways while he was there. Since he was gone for such a long period of time my momma came to help me with Caleb. We had so much fun! We went to Waco one day to visit the Magnolia Market and eat at Vitek’s BBQ.

magnolia

We went swimming, visiting the farmers market, went to church and cooked lots of yummy food (one of the many benefits of having my momma here). It was such a sweet time having her here. I love watching her love on and play with Caleb. I cherished that time so much because I know that may be the only time it will ever be just the 3 of us. 

momma & caleb 1

Bryan finished school on Friday and I was able to fly up and meet him. My momma graciously stayed here and watched Caleb for us (THANK YOU A MILLION!!)  God answered our prayers and provided us with a sweet camping spot near the Mount Elbert trailhead, right next to a creek.

camp

We had such a fun time setting up the camp in the rain & cold and then freezing our butts off at night because it was in the 30s and neither one of us brought super warm clothing. Saturday morning we woke up and prepared ourselves for the beast that faced us. We started hiking up Mt. Elbert; but I don’t think either one of us were prepared for how difficult it was going to be….5 hours later we reached the top!

elbert 2

It was the hardest thing I have ever done, yet the most rewarding thing! Nothing is more humbling than being on top of a 14,000+ foot mountain to make you realize just how small you are. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I am so thankful God gave us the strength and endurance to make it to the top, because there were several times we wanted to quit. But, God taught me a lot about perseverance, the importance of community, and encouragement while on the trial. If we would have stopped, we never would have seen just how beautiful all those Rocky Mountains are. Had it not been for the others climbing to the top with us, we wouldn’t have made it. Had it not been for the people coming down the mountain encouraging us, we wouldn’t have made it. All of those aspects I can grow in. I am thankful God used a mountain to teach me about his power, and show me just how small I am and how much I need him.

Then we needed to come back down the mountain; that took another 2 1/2 hours. That night we went to sleep at 7 and slept for 12 hours. It was awesome! Sunday we were able to hang out at the camp before packing up and going to explore the tiny mountain town of Leadville. Fortunately for us, this town has THE BEST pizza place I’ve ever been to, along with the quaintest little coffee shop. We also went rafting that afternoon before heading down to Colorado Springs to stay the night.

It was hard being away from Bryan for 2 weeks, but our weekend together is one I will never forget; fill full of laughter, s’mores, good local beer, great food, adversity, and lots of memories to last a life time. It was a great way to celebrate Bryan’s 31st birthday! I am so thankful we were able to go! Colorado, you treated us right and we can’t wait to visit next summer.

mt elbert 3

For Our Family & Friends

Living in Dallas has been rewarding and also challenging. It has a lot of similarities, but also a lot of differences from my home state, Alabama. I remember the first time I went to the mall here, I called my mom crying because all the women were “done up” like they were going to church. I didn’t realize what I was walking into. But, I’ve slowly adjusted. Even with the differences, and culture shock, a lot of good life changed has happened here too. I found a great church home, I met my husband here, we got married here, had our first child here (during an Ebola break out), and we sold and bought our first homes here. There are so many incredible memories and all within the last 3 years. Yes I said 3 years. We live a fast-past life.

Since our son was born, I have tried to keep our families connected as much as possible since several hundred miles separate us. I decided I would start a monthly email to keep all of our distant friends and family in the loop, along with those we do not see that often. After about 3 months of sending page long emails, Bryan suggested I start a blog. I wasn’t really sure about the idea, even though I love to write. After some thought and discussion with close friends, I decided to give it a whirl. So here we are today, embarking on this new journey of “blogging”. I hope this is a place you can come to and feel welcomed and loved, a place where you can laugh and cry and feel as though you are walking through this life journey with us. I’m not sure what this blog will entail, predominately life updates and what is going on with us, but there may be a few recipe entries (since cooking is my favorite hobby) along with health updates. Whatever ends up on here, my hope is that you would come and stay a while.