"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace"

Monday, November 26, 2012

trusting God & thanksgiving.

Whew, what a whirlwind of a few weeks...I thought the last couple months of this pregnancy would go slow and I'd read a lot and soak in a lot of free time...wrong. They've FLOWN by and now i've got pretty much 4 weeks until my due date! I've decided, ready or not, here she comes and truly, ready or not, we are so excited to meet her. The more I feel her move around my belly the more I try to imagine what she will be like, look like, grow up to be. I also hit these moments of "oh my. I'm going to be a parent forever now, there is no turning back"...that can be pretty overwhelming at times! We've recently been to the doctor quite a bit with some, at times discouraging, news. Many of my friends can attest to how i've always been afraid of having a huge baby because all 5 of my brothers and I were over 9lbs and one was 10lbs (thank you momma for having such big babies, haha :)). I've asked my doctor at least 5 times "Are you sure that no matter what I eat or how much I exercise, it doesn't matter for how much she is going to weigh?"  Every time she comes back with "Nope, it's usually genetic." Oh dear. Well, last week at the OB's office, little sweet Gracie here was already measuring at 6.5 lbs....and I still had 4.5 weeks to go...Oh dear. Next we found out that she has flipped into a non-delivery-friendly position- she is supposedly sideways (transverse for you medical people) in my belly. I read in my pregnancy book that this happens in 1% of pregnancies. I almost had to laugh at that- of course if there is a 1% we will find a way to make that statistic! Thankfully after crying to Seth, my doula, and my mom I was reminded that we serve an awesome God who has the full ability to turn Gracie if/when/how He wants. If she doesn't turn, we face the option of having her externally turned by the Dr in a couple weeks or having a C-section. I was/am terrified (to be honest) of both of those. I've heard it can be extremely painful to turn her and I also have been prepping and planning on trying a natural labor this whole pregnancy only to find out in the last few weeks this might not even be an option. We've been doing lots of processing and crying (me) and praying. We are presenting our requests before God and trusting He has a perfect plan for this delivery- it may not be what I want and that is hard to admit and hard to type. Because truthfully, I really don't want a C-section. really. Especially for my first baby. But this is out of my control and though there may be different techniques I can try naturally to turn her- it's really in God's hands and He's ultimately going to do what is best. I told seth that I want to come to the point where no matter how this baby gets here that i'm not disappointed in my birth experience but that I can look back at it with excitement and joy.

On another note, my heart is so full because my parents were able to make the trip down to celebrate Thanksgiving with us! We were so excited they could make it work and spend 3 full days together! They arrived Wednesday night and left Sunday morning. We had such a fun time soaking in the last time of hanging out as the 4 of us because next time I see them we will have a baby (crazy!!). Thank goodness my mom was here to help make the Thanksgiving meal....there's nothing like her cooking. We had a FEAST for 4 people (but that was intentional so we could eat leftovers all weekend and freeze extra food)...we had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn, veggies, rolls with cinnamon butter, mom's homemade applesauce, and of course pumpkin pie. We also dived out into some of the black Friday shopping- it's a tradition that my mom and I have done together for as long as I can remember and the past few years we have brought along my dad and seth- which makes it even that much more fun. This year was great- because all the stores opened at midnight or before, when we went in the morning there was practically no lines and no crowds to work through- it was great! We just have fun seeing if we can find good deals and spending the time together! We also set up our Christmas decorations and took a hospital tour with them. I was so happy they could come down and so thankful we had those few days to spend together with them, they were priceless. Here's some pics:
                                                                        Homemade pumpkin pie!!

                        Seth and Mom are on Turkey cleaning duty! (Glad I can blame pregnancy for not wanting to do that job :))

                                                  We received this BEAUTIFUL surprise bouquet from Seth's parents!!

                    I made some rolls in the breadmaker and seth had the great idea of making cinnamon butter (mix together softened butter, cinnamon, and some honey)- it was awesome!

                     We got this idea from a friend- each day we write something we are thankful for on a leaf and put it on the tree, it's been a good perspective changer- some of the things are obvious/big things like God and family and some are small things that we overlook often.

                                 One of the turkeys! (we made two this size, I told you we wanted to freeze leftovers ;))

                                                                         The pro turkey carver!

                                             The amazing master chef, my mom! We couldn't have done it without her!

                                       The mashed potatoes- made just like grandma made them, yummm!

                                                                           The three chefs!

                                                     Here's the table complete with sparkling cider :)

                                                                  Getting ready to dig in!!

                                                 My awesome parents- so glad we could spend this time with them!

                                                                 Grammie, Me & Gracie Mae

                               We made some homemade pizza for their last night here- we were turkey-ed out by then!

                                                           Our stockings- it goes Seth, Ang, Gracie

                                                             Our nativity set- we plan to add to it over the years

              It is so fun to have a big tree this year! We've always had a small tree and this year our friends told us we could borrow their tree because they were going to do a real tree- we jumped on the offer and though it takes up half our dining room, we are LOVING it!

                            We miss our dishwashers- these two were so diligent at doing dishes all weekend! We love you mom & dad- thanks for coming to visit us!

Now begins the wait until Gracie Mae makes her appearance. I have a feeling these last few weeks are going to FLY by and before we know it our lives will be forever changed in so many ways!
This is about a week ago!

Monday, November 5, 2012

a huge gift!


My friend, Jeanne, is an awesome photographer. She has taught me a ton about photography and is so passionate about learning more and more. She took our baby announcement picture and I knew I wanted to ask her to take some maternity pictures for us. We went out friday to shoot some pictures while the leaves were still full of beautiful fall colors. She texts me later that night that she is done editing them- did I mention that she's amazing?! Trust me, I know how long editing can take and for her to finish just hours later is phenomenal! Then we got a text Sunday that asked if we could come over to see the pictures because they had a surprise for us and told me to bring kleenex....and this video is what her husband and her put together for us. I. was. blown. away. and so deeply blessed by their love, thoughtfulness, creativity, and gift. This is something we will have to mark the anticipation of this last month and a half. Plus i'm a sucker for music with pictures! I had never heard this song until tonight, so let's just say i've cried a few tears, it's so beautiful. Thank you Jeanne and Dempsey for blessing us so hugely with this gift we will treasure forever.
To see the video click here: http://youtu.be/LFBuLMdeunA

I'll post some pics later!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

unexpected travel lessons

Seth has recently been studying thankfulness in his guys bible study. So at home he keeps trying to find ways to be thankful in everyday small things, hard things, etc. It is completely a perspective changer when you can find things to be thankful for in the normal or find things to be thankful for in the difficult or any situation. I've found that it often takes the focus from a selfish "why me" way of thinking to a way to find God in all things- maybe this has something to do with how are commanded to rejoice always- so we don't lose focus on Him.

Well about a week ago God gave us some opportunities to choose thankfulness. (not always an easy decision and not usually a decision I usually make right the first or second time around). We headed back to Little Rock from our week spent in IL (more on this trip later). Leaving has never been easy for me and this time saying goodbye was really difficult- I think partly due to the fact that next time we are there we will have a baby and everything will be completely different. A good different, but still very very different.

I didn't feel like choosing to be thankful. As we are heading down the interstate and i'm crying Seth keeps rattling off things that he was thankful for about the week. All I could do was absently nod my head while thinking that I wished he would stop being so optimistic for just a second & to just feeeeeeel the emotions with me. The truth is, though, that is what I needed. He was speaking truth about the week and after getting over my overwhelming emotions and urges to turn around and stay I realized he was right in what he was listing. I think I sometimes tend to miss the beauty of things when I let the pessimistic part of my heart rear it's ugly head instead of sitting grateful in the goodness of what God has and is doing. (I'm guessing this is one of those lessons i'll learn a few more times in life :)).

So after the tears subside for a bit, I decide to lay back and rest for a while. I'm trying to recline my seat and it won't go back. I see one of those reusable grocery bags in the way and so I try pulling on it to move it. I guess either i'm stronger than I thought or the bag was weaker than I figured (most likely the latter) and with a swift jerk back I punched myself square in the nose. Yes I said that right- I punched myself in the face. Embarrassing to admit. A mix of shock, pain, frustration, embarrassment, and unbelief hit me in less time than it took for tears to be rolling down my face. As Seth looked over at me holding my nose and crying (he didn't see this happen) I wasn't sure if I should bawl because it hurt so bad or laugh hysterically because I seriously had just punched myself in the face- who does that?! Try to find something to be thankful for about in an-almost-broken-nose. Thankful point- that my body can feel pain and react to it & that it gave us a good laugh...eventually.

After I recovered from this and we were driving along for a while I decided to try resting again. I had just gotten comfortable (slightly difficult at times when 30 weeks pregnant), eyes closed, and ready to rest when I felt something change. We were slowing down, drastically. And not because anyone in front of us was slowing down or that we needed to exit, but just stopping on the interstate. I look at Seth trying to figure out what's going on and I can't tell if he's going to laugh or cry or what. He had one of those "this is not good" looks on his face. This is how our conversation went:
Me: Are we slowing down?
Seth: yes. (as he glides the car onto the shoulder of the interstate)
Me: Are we stopping?
Seth: yes.
Me: Is that our car that smells? (as I smell a terrible odor once we stopped)
Seth: yes.
Me: Is that smoke coming from our car? (as I see steam/smoke/something come out from the hood)
Seth: yes.
Me; Are we going to blow up??!!
Seth: no.
Me: Can you tell me what's going on?!
Seth: the temperature needle is above hot and the car just shut off. I'm going to go look at it, you can start praying :).

Thus began the unexpected interruption to our trip home. We were almost exactly halfway between here and there. In the middle of nowhere. On the side of the interstate. Pregnant. Car loaded with baby shower gifts and other miscellaneous items. Too far for anyone to come meet us. Times like this i'm very thankful for a level headed man who doesn't get frantic (like I would) in this situation. After his assessment of the car & talking to our dads and a couple good friends, it was very clear we would not be driving this car anywhere anytime soon. So we called for a tow truck and waited. Something else I realized I was thankful for= that Gracie was inside of me for this moment and not outside crying at all the loud cars going by. The tow truck came and we piled in his cab. At this moment I wasn't sure if I was going to breakdown and cry from exhaustion and unknown or laugh that we were squished in the cab of a very kind tow truck driver with a thick southern accent. I figured the best thing to do was not to cry. He told us he called ahead to the repair shop about 6 miles up the interstate and they should be able to look at it and get it fixed, no problem. We pull up to the repair shop and after the guys got the car down and pushed it into the garage we stood there. I wasn't sure what to take in first- the fact that the repair shop looked like it was barely standing or the fact that the repair man was rattling off prices and problems that were way beyond what we were expecting. At first we weren't sure if we should trust him- I mean how could he know what was wrong from a 2 second look under the hood?? The more time we spent with him we realized how kind of a man he was and I instantly felt bad for judging him based on the looks of his shop, etc. We realized the car was not going to start- something about a blown head gasket, heads, water hose, coolant, etc (I know a bare minimum about cars so it's likely that I don't have the technical names correct).

He saw I was pregnant and had instant compassion on us- it was amazing. He weighed through & offered different options such as renting a trailer and him towing us back to Little Rock just for the price of gas or mentioning his brother might be able to tow us home. Though these ideas weren't realistically possible at that point, I was amazed at the generosity and care that this perfect stranger had for a young pregnant couple. We were blown away by his heart. When we were on the side of the road earlier- stuck and without a clue and my job was to pray- I prayed that God would send us an angel to help. I'm not sure about him being an angel but I know God was definitely taking care of us by introducing us into the care of this man.

He told us that this car would need a few days of work and that he could take us to a hotel if we wanted (and by hotel I mean motel and by that I mean no holiday inns or anything near that close by). My heart sank. I didn't want to. I was tired, I wanted to sleep in my own bed- not some small town motel, I wanted to be home. Maybe this sounds spoiled, selfish, and ungrateful- but I was at the end of my rope emotionally by this point.

I asked if there were any places we could rent a car. He thought for a moment and told us he was going to call his neighbor who worked up the road at a dealership to see if they could rent us a car. Praise GOD- they had ONE car on their lot that they rented out. And it was still there. And the receptionist was going to wait past close of business for us to come. And the price was going to be really pretty affordable! Next dilemma- how do we get from the repair shop to the dealership 15 minutes away? Again this kind repairman came through. He told us he would be glad to take us for no cost- he just needed to call his wife and tell her that he would be late for dinner :). It was such a good reminder to me to see someone doing good for someone out of the kindness of his heart expecting nothing in return. Another thing to be thankful for- if this would have happened 30 minutes later, the repair shop and the dealership both would have been closed and we would have been stuck for sure. God's timing is a beautiful mystery.

We checked out our rental car and headed back to load up all our gear and headed home. I was so thankful we did not have to stay there and that we were going to be able to get home, no matter how long it took.

So we decide at this point (about 3-4 hours after breaking down) we are starving for dinner. We decide to stop at Wendy's. We usually love Wendy's. Not so much this time. We walked in and I thought "awesome, it's not busy...only one person in line ahead of us!". We stood in line and stood in line and waited. and waited. Finally we ordered. and we waited. and we waited. What should have been a 5 minute in and out ended up being almost 30 minutes of waiting. I looked up at Seth as we stood there- exhausted, hungry, and just plain worn out- smiled and said "tell me what there is to be thankful about now?" "Hot food" he said with a smile :). Hot it was, even if the order ended up being wrong after all that, haha :).

We finally made it home about 4 1/2 hours after we planned and though the trip home was not what we expected and changed a lot of plans we had, we realized that we had a lot to be thankful for too. And not in a "we should just say this because it is the right thing to say" type of thinking, but feeling truly grateful for several things.

Now we wade in a decision that we weren't expecting to make right now- buy a new vehicle or try to fix this one and trust it will be safe? We definitely are not on the same page if we buy one- Seth (practical & logical) would love a mini van. Me (dreamer & hopeful) would love an SUV. We have our reasons (which I won't go into now because this is long enough!) but we just want to make a wise choice in the end. And as Seth keeps reminding me, God knew this would happen and He knows what vehicle we need and He will provide to get it. It really is such a small thing in the scheme of things, yet i'm so glad that it matters enough to God for Him to take care of us in it!

Friday, September 28, 2012

wrestling with my heart.

Whew. I didn't want to write this blog post because it's easier to keep these feelings to myself instead of exposing myself to the world. Those deep parts of the heart that are easier to just cover up. But this morning I read a friend's blog who lives overseas and how having a baby overseas and away from family isn't what she ever wanted and it's hard. That's what i'm struggling with- minus the whole overseas part. After I read that God probed and poked my heart and told me to write too. I didn't want to because my pride was telling me that it would look like i'm just "copying" or emotionally responding (haha part of that actually may be true :)). I hope this will all make sense because I honestly feel like I am about to take my heart and dump it out all over this computer screen.

I don't know if I ever realized how much I wanted to be close to family once we had a baby. I always knew that is what I wanted but I never knew how much I would really want that. It's a crazy thing, really...God has given me incredible friends here, but yet I still find myself feeling so alone and not even sure of who I am anymore at times. It's an ongoing identity crisis and now I add trying to figure out who I am as a mother. A mother.

I want to be by my mom to teach me how to be a mom. I want to take Gracie to her grandparent's house and for her to love all the things that we loved about growing up there. I know we've been here over a year but I can't run to my parent's house on the weekend and smell my mom's apple crisp on a fall Saturday and no amount of time here will ever make me not miss and want those moments. I think I am homesick....not like "let's go visit and cure this homesickness" but truly homesick, the aching kind. But I don't know if the cure would be to move home, either....because for different reasons God has us here. I often ask what will come after this chapter? Where will we be? Where will we live? Will we have to start over again? Why can't families move with you when you're called somewhere? haha (selfish, yes, but I still want it sometimes!). Alot of my friends are having babies back home too, and I feel like i'm missing everything....we were all supposed to do life together- you know those dreams you have in high school and college?

I know everyone is only a phone call away, but it's not the same as sitting in the kitchen with your mom & dad or meeting a best friend for coffee or a walk.

I took a walk last night and told God that I felt so alone and He whispered to me that "no matter if you have no-one you still have Me, you're not alone". I felt full for a moment that I wanted to last. But why can't I feel that all the time then?

I want to share from my friend's blog:

"So much of me hates admitting that. So much of me wants to write about how I've overcome the anxious thoughts and have moved on to greener pastures. So much of me thinks God is disappointed in my poor attitude and lack of trust. But as I was praying and thinking about it a couple of days ago, I think God has me exactly where He wants me. Never before in my life have I had to work out my faith like this. And I don't mean it in the same way that people use "walking by faith". For me, walking by faith was moving to Thailand and trusting that God had gone before us to prepare the way. Working out my faith looks like a daily, gut-wrenching, tug-of-war where I don't feel like believing in His goodness but choose to anyway. It's when I feel like calling it quits, but choose to stay. When I feel like giving in to my selfish desires, but choosing to believe God's way really is better.

And mostly, it's when I don't feel God, but choose to believe that He's still right by my side, caring for my heart and all my needs."

Much of my wrestling with God recently has been the hardest battle my faith has ever withstood. I don't know why and I don't know why now but I've never doubted, felt so alone, and unsure of who God is as I do at times. Part of that has been just not feeling Him like I am used to. I know He's teaching me something about simple trust that He is always who He says He is, but I don't know how to grasp that yet.
I don't want this blog to be a pity-party or poor-ang. It is just where i'm at...hopelessly hopeful that God will do all things well and knowing that because He loves me, He won't leave me alone or abandon me. I write these things to tell them to myself- that I can trust God. That He is good. That He hears me and cares about how I feel. That He never turns a deaf ear on me but instead is working good at all times.

I find myself timid to approach God at times- fearing rejection or not being met with. I know these are not characteristics of God, but I still wrestle with them. This morning was good. God washed over me with His love. And then I questioned it. "God do you really love me like that?" "Are you really that faithful?" "Are you really that good to ME?". I landed in the psalms (my place of comfort this past year) and He spoke verse after verse about His steadfast love, He unending promises and faithfulness, His compassion on the hurting. His delight to bless me.

I think it's at times of greatest struggle you meet God in ways you didn't know He existed...in magnitudes of power and love that keep you trusting when you are weak and believing when you can't see. I can only imagine the season ahead of us is full of moment to moment trust and believing He is with me. Maybe that is partly why my heart is being trained now to deepen that and to wrestle through some of the scariest places in my heart- my fears.

Writing can be healing for me- which is why I journal and blog. It helps me to see True things and get outside of the inside of my head. Thanks for walking with me through this journey.

[I have pandora on as I write this- which could be good and bad as my emotions fluctuate with the songs, but regardless, it's been constant song after song of God's promise to be here no matter what. Thank you Jesus.]

Here's a couple that hit my heart strings:
"If you want me to" Ginny Owens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMKp4g_ZrGk
"Never let go" David Crowder Band http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jHrbXEcee8

favorite quote of the day: "YOU [God] are stronger than any terrible possible scenario today".

Friday, September 14, 2012

happy 4 years!!

Happy Anniversary Baby!

Can you believe we have been married for 4 years? That's 1460 days of marriage. To some that may seem like nothing and that we are just pee-wees at this marriage thing- but in my opinion, dear, we've lived a lot of life in 4 years. A lot of amazing and and a lot of really really difficult life.

Do you remember our first date after you asked for my hand in marriage? I think our conversation went something like this:
me: "are you sure you want to marry me?"
you: "are you kidding me?"
me: "no, i'm serious. I am not sure if you know what you're getting yourself into"
you: "i'm up for it and yes I want to marry you"
Oh my dear- if only you knew then what you know now :). Though, knowing you, I know you would've still said the same thing, even if you did know it all.

What I love about you:
-I love when you smile. really love it- your eyes light up and my do you have pretty eyes. That was the first thing I ever noticed way back in high school when we first met- though you don't remember that- what an impact I made on you :)
-I love love love when you laugh. It does my soul good.
-I love when I don't want to wake up in the morning and you come in singing some kind of ridiculous song or talk in some goofy voice until I finally cave in.
-I love watching you build things. I think this is one of my favorite things about you. You are so skillful and so intelligent with tools and wood and design. I love watching your creativity at it's best. This is when you're truly in "your element"
-I love when we are driving down the road and you find it a mission in life to point out various different buildings, trucks, etc to me and then proceed to educate me on the function of them. I've learned more about crop dusters, lumber mills, and fields than I ever knew I could learn :)
-I love how much you love our daughter already. How you get so excited to feel her kick and how you talk to her in your different voices that way she knows them all. I love how you think you have to get right up close for her to hear you, haha :)
-I love your surprises- you are so good at them. I love how you express your love through surprising me with outlandish places and ideas!
-I love your saturday morning omelette's...you're the best omelet maker EVER. You've even mastered the "flip" in the pan.
-I love how precise you are. Though it drives me crazy at times, I love how I can trust you know where are are going and how we are getting there.
-I love your logical-bring-me-back-to-earth-thinking. We make a good team most of the time :) though as you know I love it when you entertain my crazy ideas, even for just a bit!
-I love how you try to show extra emotion for me when i'm sharing something or telling a story- I know it's not easy all the time, but thank you- it blesses me.
-I love watching you with our nieces and nephews. They love their Uncle Sethy!
-I love your super dry-old-man sense of humor...but what I love more is how funny you think it is- I think that makes me laugh the most!
-I love watching you grow. In 4 years I've seen a new man spring forth. Your thirst for finding freedom in Christ is so awesome to see and I love seeing how God is continually growing your heart day by day.
-You are passionate about our marriage and that we don't settle- sometimes I hate this, but in the long run I love this.
-You are a hard and loyal worker. People like to have you on their team because you do a good job and you are dependable.
-You help me clean- seriously, thank you!
-I love your beard. you just look so cool.
-You are going to be an awesome dad. Our little girl will be SO loved...even if it means having raw pinkys :)
-I love how you love me and try to make connecting a priority!

4 years is a lot of memories. I have been thinking through the things we have done and learned together and it's really amazing how much you can pack into 4 years.
I thought a fun way to recap 4 years would be to remind you of some things we did!

When it all started:

This was when we were in love with eachother but neither of us knew it :)

                                            I love this picture because your eyes hold so much love in them.

                                                               One of my favorite engagement pics!

On September 14, 2008 you and I promised forever to each other in front of hundreds of people. Do you remember what it was like standing at the front of the church in front of everyone?! I was soo nervous and so excited at the same time!! I couldn't believe after a few short words we were husband and wife! Even though the entire downtown peoria was flooded on our wedding, I think it was perfect :).

                      We started off so young, naive, and poor. Now, love, 4 years later- we are still pretty young, not much
                        less poor, but i'd say definitely wiser!

Thus began year one: Remember how year one was packed with me studying for nursing school in our basement apartment in the middle of nowhere (to a city girl) with that beautiful lake? I loved taking 4 wheeler rides with you on those cool fall days and watching the dear jump through the fields. I loved taking walks around the lake and searching for the infamous beaver. I love how you killed a snake for me so I could take a walk. Our memorable and lesson-learned honeymoon :). I loved hosting people and having bonfires in the backyard. Mart & Eric's wedding. Celebrating our one year anniversary at the Goldmoor Inn in Galena. You having to leave work to come pull my car out of our driveway when it was snowy. Those many many times the electricity would go out and we'd be stuck in the dark and you'd have to make up excuses for the sounds I heard.
                                                                    Our Honeymoon- St. Maarten
                                                      Our first thanksgiving together in a Residence Inn!

My college graduation!

                                                I loved our chalkboard wall and the notes you would leave for me!

                                                        again, I loved (and love) your little notes & surprises

 Our first Valentines day- when we started the One World tradition and met our favorite waiter, Dave- who we liked to pretend remembered us :)
Yes, you killed it. Thank you.
                                     Your science project, Bart. That had to sit in our dinning room for MONTHS!

                                                                 Celebrating one year at Galena!!

 Year two. I started my first job as a nurse. You let me call you crying every day on my way to work. We moved to Goodfield and had an awesome duplex and planted our first garden- that yielded award winning crops. We took many long walks out into the country and rollarbladed a lot. The freeze-out campout with our bible study that chilly october weekend! God moving in our hearts to look into missions and opening doors to FamilyLife. Going to staff preview. My new job. Haiti. Hawaii. Sarah & Jason's Wedding. Orlando. Whew- what a year!
                                               Our awesome Halloween costumes!

                                      In Orlando for staff training. We celebrated our two year @ Disney World!!

                                                   Parasailing in Hawaii- me freaking out the sharks would get us!

                       One of our favorite things to do together was to go spend weekends in Chicago for fun!
                                                    At the Staff Training for FamilyLife- we had no idea what was ahead of us!!

Year three: Raise support , raise support, raise support to head to FamilyLife. Bebo Norman concerts- our favorite! The beginning of a difficult and refining season for us! Texas trips. A HUGE blizzard & we got snowed in! Cori & Adam's wedding. Kenz & Mike's wedding. Went to CSU in Colorado. Move to Little Rock. Start work at FamilyLife. Travel to Honduras & Costa Rica. Celebrating our third anniversary at a BEAUTIFUL b&b in Hot springs!
                                                           At a Bebo Norman concert in Chicago area!

Our favorite person to see in concert- Bebo Norman.

                                                              Hiking the Colorado Mountains at CSU!
                                               Our Christmas tradition of making homemade pizzas!!
                                                                           My cookie decorator!!
That HUGE blizzard with like 2 feet of snow! You even did a Jillian video with me!
Celebrating year 3!!!
Year four: baby- what a growing, stretching, refining year for us! One of the hardest and best yet, i'd say. We've adjusted to Little Rock and Southern culture this year. Went to texas, went to IL, went to Kansas. Camping out at Chickfila.We braved our first Little Rock winter (like a charm) and then truly braved a Little Rock summer (not so easy). Lots of growing spiritually- new friends, new bible studies, new church, new home, new activities, new lots of things! We got pregnant with our first baby & she's a girl!! Lots and lots of walks at 930 pm after the humidity has slightly lifted (or at least we like to think so). An awesome babymoon/vacation out west to Washington, Oregon, and CA. Megan and Mitch's wedding. Family and friends visiting us. Getting involved in PATH and watching God work that into our hearts deeply. Your first triathlon! The beginning of pinterest inspired everything :). Finding out who we are and who we are in Christ.
Our first Chick-fil-a campout! 104 coupons richer!
Ugly sweater contest- you won!
                                                               Your amazing skills at work!
                                                   Best birthday EVER. You blessed my socks off this year!
                                        Valentines day dinner, so fun to get dressed up with you my love!
                                                                    We are having a baby!!!

At Megan and Mitch's wedding....you are SO good looking!

                                  Our babymoon/vacation out west!! loved having those memories with you!
                              That's me, now, 25 weeks, with our little Gracie Mae growing and being knit together!

Wow. Doesn't it just make you stop and sit back and stand in awe. Baby, you and I both know that I didn't even scratch the surface of all the places we've been, the things we've done, and the memories we have made. I know we have both said that marriage has been the hardest thing we have ever done, but I promise and sincerely mean that I would not trade it for anything. You are a gift to me. You have stood by me through some of the hardest seasons we could imagine, and it's only been 4 years- who knows what is ahead. God is building a foundation for us. It's taken and will continue to take work. I've learned that love is not always a feeling, it's a choice too. There are so many things I could say to you, but mostly I want you to know that I love you so much. And that I am so thankful for you. They may sound like simple statements, but hear the depth of meaning in them. You are my best friend and my love. We are about to embark on one of the scariest and most exciting adventures yet- parenthood. Let's keep doing this life hand in hand and step by step. You keep me grounded when I get overwhelmed and you remind me that I am loved by the author of Love. Baby, we have an adventure ahead of us- heck, we don't even know what we are going to be doing in a year! But i'm so glad I get to do it with you and follow you through it.
I love you I love you I love you. Thank you for the life and the love you have given to me. Thank you for teaching me and leading me.
Happy Anniversary of 4 very full, wonderfully, difficult, crazy, fun years!!!