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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

meet lulu- our newest addition.

I never EVER wanted to own a minivan. I had some sort of disgust toward them for some reason. Honestly, I thought they were ugly and ever so uncool. God has a funny way of humbling me.

This fall  when we were driving back from IL and our awesome 1996 pink Ford Taurus broke down on the side of the road, full of baby shower gifts and me 30 weeks pregnant, we decided it probably wasn't going to be the most reliable vehicle to be driving around with a new baby. We did, however, make the necessary repairs and kept driving it.

Over time we kept hearing other sounds and worried that it was going to give out completely some day. Also, with my recovery it was really painful trying to get Gracie in and out of the car since it sat so low. SO we decided to start looking for a new vehicle. And when I say vehicle, I mean a SUV. A minivan was not an option. Oh sure, we talked about it and prayed about it but we felt okay not going that route "for now" (Seth, on the other hand, has ALWAYS wanted a minivan and thinks they are the perfect vehicle...other than a truck of course). Yes, they would be more economical and probably cheaper than an SUV but I couldn't get past how much I disliked minivans and how badly I'd always wanted to drive an SUV- I've always wanted one, and I was excited because it seemed like it was finally going to happen!

Now, we aren't talking any high-end SUV here...not even something relatively new. We were going to do this the Dave Ramsey style.  In fact when we came up with what we wanted, the idea was pretty much impossible in a realistic sense. What we wanted + the funds available= a very unrealistic possibility. However we believed that God could do it. That He could provide a reliable vehicle for our small chunk of change. Seth searched ads all over the country and locally and nothing was really fanning out.

One Monday he came home for lunch with a rather uncertain yet amazed look on his face. He approached me like this, "So, I know that you really don't want a minivan...BUT what would you say about a free minivan"?! I think my heart stopped in disbelief, shock and dread all at once. I knew immediately in my heart that I couldn't avoid it any longer- we were about to be proud owners of a minivan. Seth looked elated. I probably cried.

I asked him what in the world he meant...a FREE minivan? How do you just get a FREE minivan?! He began to tell me what happened that morning. He was at Monday morning prayer and asked if they would pray that we would find an SUV for an amazingly cheap price. After the meeting a woman, who does not normally attend these meetings/doesn't even live in Little Rock, stopped Seth in the hall and asked if he would be interested in a minivan instead of the SUV we were pursuing. She proceeded to tell him that she has these friends who just bought a new vehicle and would "probably just give us the van". Give a van to perfect strangers?! Who does that?! hence the amazed look on his face as he is relaying the story to me. I was dumbfounded.

We decided to get more details and pray about it for a day....but really the answer was pretty obvious- how do you say no to a free vehicle when a. you need one b. you really don't have the money to buy what you want anyways and c. you've been praying for God to do exceedingly beyond what you can ask or imagine- I think He hit that one on the head.

We talked to a few people, prayed about it and came to the conclusion that this was a no brain-er. To be blatantly honest- I was so thankful for this incredible gift but I couldn't get past how sad I was that I was officially stuck with a minivan in my mid twenties. Seth, on the other hand was riding high on cloud 9- you would have thought someone just gave him a new 2013 Dodge Ram truck or something.

He got in contact with this incredibly generous couple and they even drove halfway to meet him to give us, these perfect strangers and young naive twenty somethings, their van.

And just like that, we owned a minivan.

I was a minivan mom just. like. that. I mean we prayed for a miracle, right? It just didn't come in the form we expected...at all.

One thing I've learned in my life is that God gives you what He knows you need, not always what you want. This van is a perfect testimony to that. I didn't think I would like ANYTHING about it. But now that I've been driving it for a couple months, I love (yes love) so many things about it. I love the doors that slide open with the press of a button. I love how easy it is to lift Gracie in and out. I love all the extra room for traveling, groceries, etc. I love the dual heat in the front so we can each control our own temperature. Seth loves that you can take out the back seat and treat it like a truck to haul things in if needed :).

I'm not going to lie- I thought I was going to be miserable in this thing. But the truth is- I stinkin love it. Yes, it's true. SO that in itself is testimony to how God can change a stone hard heart :). He knew exactly what we needed for reasons that are beyond what we even know yet. We often laugh at the whole situation and how I'm completely sold out on these beautiful things called minivans now. (Though for the record, someday I will get my SUV and it will be awesome).

And as a side note- we sold our Taurus- old pinky- for more than we thought we could get for it! God is the Provider. And not just for these material things....but He does care about these details in our lives and I love seeing Him show up and work out these things like only He can.

Here's a couple pictures of Lulu (that's what the previous owners named her and we decided to carry on her legacy):

and there you have it. we are now rocking the minivan.

song of the day: Come Away by United Pursuit & Brock Human

Monday, March 18, 2013

a fun weekend!

We just said goodbye to Seth's parents this morning. They drove down for the weekend and we had a short but so sweet time with them. We love hanging out with them and now watching them be grandparents to our daughter- there is something so beautiful & joy-giving about watching your parents with your child. Needless to say- she received ALOT of lovin :).

We had AWESOME weather on Saturday (um...like 83ish :)) and took a walk in a nearby park...complete with chickfila sweet tea and lemonade afterwards :). We had fun just hanging around our place and playing with Gracie. We took them (or rather they treated us- thank you!) to one of our favorite restaurants here. We played them in our regular game of quirkle and I still didn't win :(! We are so grateful for their spontaneity to make the trip down and spend such sweet time with us. We love you guys!!

                                               She cuddled right in on Grandpa Braker! 

Getting some Grandma lovin :)
                                                   Love love this picture- all ready for church! 

                                             "Talking" with grandma and grandpa while we played a game 

                                                                      too precious!

In the kitchen:
So we love pizza. I wish it was super healthy because I would eat it all the time. It's easy, convienent, not too expensive and just plain GOOD. I also love quick recipes for nights when you haven't thought about dinner until the last minute. I found this recipe on trusty pinterest the other day and was super skeptical. It only involved two ingredients to make the pizza crust- greek yogurt and flour. But as skeptical as I was, I was equally curious because this sounded so easy and quick! Friday was one of those "oops it's dinner time" days. So I tried it....the verdict...we actually loved it. No, it is not the best pizza crust we've ever had, but for what it is, it's realllly good.

The recipe:
1 cup greek yogurt
1 cup self rising flour (if you don't have self rising flour, just throw in some baking powder...next time I might experiement and add some whole wheat flour as well)

Mix the ingredients together and then knead on a floured surface. If it's too dry- you can add a splash of water or more yogurt. If it's to wet/sticky- you can add more flour. It's that easy and that simple.

I had to get creative with our toppings. I have wanted to try black bean pizza for a while so that's what I was planning on doing...except we didn't have all the ingredients. SO impromtu I added some frozen ground turkey we had in the freezer, black beans, and diced frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, green beans)...okay that last one may sound gross, but it was actually soo good. I threw them on a pan sprinkled them when olive oil and salt/pepper and threw them in the oven for about 5 minutes to roast them a bit before adding to pizza- I would recommend this. Then we topped with cheese and baked for about 15 minutes at 425*. (One change I would make is to bake the crust for about 5 minutes without any toppings first- to get the middle more cooked through- ours was slightly soft in the middle). Voila- easy, quick pizza that you don't have to wait for the dough to rise. Good for those in-a-pinch moments.

Here's a few recent pictures of Gracie :)
                     hahaha this one cracks me up so much! "you wanna a piece of me???" :)

                                                  She wasn't as thrilled about her robe as we were :) 

Trying out the bumbo seat for the first time...she loved it (a little uncertain in this picture)

Song of the day:
Oh the deep deep love by Sovereign Grace Music

Friday, March 15, 2013

it's no small thing.

"Loving a person just the way they are, it's no small thing"
It's a line from a Sara Groves song I heard recently that just keeps running through my head. Kudos to my husband for loving me just the way I am. He doesn't demand I change, he just lets God do His work in me and patiently loves me while I change. He endures through my ugly moments and cheers me on through the everyday challenges. He loves me for me. That is no small thing.

Last night at the dinner table we were talking about how sometimes he wishes he could've been in the military to experience the discipline and challenges that they receive and endure. I looked at him and told him that I understood but that he was being challenged everyday to be the leader of our home and a husband and a father- and that takes major discipline. This isn't a journey that has come easy for us [at all.], but I'm so grateful for redemption, grace, re-dos and perseverance and a man who isn't afraid to be challenged in his role and step up to the plate.

The other day I was having a rough morning- just feeling sad for no particular reason. I guess Seth must've picked up on this because I walked out to the kitchen after he had left for work and found this multicolor pack of sharpies:

You may laugh and think "Sharpies?? Really Seth?" haha, and at first I, too, was super baffled. "Why did he leave me a package of sharpies? I mean yes they are super cool and I love surprises but it's just an interesting choice"....and then I read the note that went with the gift and in the note was this line: you've taken me from shades of gray and brought color to my life!

melt my heart. what a difference his thoughtful "just because" gift made in my day.

On a different note, I heard this song on spotify and immediately thought of my parents. They always tell us they aren't "fancy" in how they do things or what they do together- that they are just "simple". But the love they have for each other is amazing and all their children and certainly attest to that. So to mom and dad, here's a new dance song for you :) love you tons and thanks for showing us kids how to have fun being in love with your spouse. It may not be "fancy" but it is extraordinary.
Song: Nothing Fancy by Dave Barnes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R353Inq3rHg 

Happy Friday!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

3 months old!

Baby girl,

Are you seriously already 3 months old? That’s a quarter of a year! You have changed so much over the past month. You have become very observant. You’ve started following us as we leave a room or walk across a room- but you haven’t started crying about that yet- maybe that comes this month :). My favorite time with you is right after I feed you and you give me those million dollar smiles….they are unbelievably sweet. You have started to sleep like a champ and we are loving it! You had your first tears this month and it broke my heart…I cried with you. You have the goofiest expressions that just crack us up. Dad likes to try to get you to “talk”…he says something in a high pitched voice (which is quite hilarious) and you respond with an a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e coo. You are definitely a drama queen at times- which you get it honest :). We’ve learned to never wear nice clothes around the home- you like to give us both spit-up showers.

This month you went on your first home depot trip…your dad has been dreaming about that day since before you were born. It was quite amusing to watch the two of you as he told you to breathe in that beautiful scent of wood J.

This month you had your first day back at the pregnancy center with me. You were a CHAMP! I was nervous about how it would work out to feed you and do ultrasounds, but you were so patient and did awesome—let’s hope it’s like that everytime?! J

I read a quote recently in my bible study:

                “Our Father, remove from us the sophistication of our age and the skepticism that has come, like frost, to blight our faith and to make it weak. Bring us back to a faith that makes men great and strong, a faith that enables us to love and to live, the faith by which alone we can walk with Thee. We pray for a return of that simple faith, that old fashioned trust in God…” –Peter Marshall in The Prayers of Peter Marshall

Sweet girl, I pray that for you- that your faith will be strong- like a tree planted by the water and sends it’s roots out by the stream- that doesn’t fear when heat comes, and it’s leaves are always green- that you never fail to bear fruit and you don’t worry during drought (Jeremiah 17:7-8). I pray that you would not be a skeptic of the Word but that your faith would be strong and steadfast- not hardened by things you might learn or experience. That your heart would be soft for Jesus. I pray you would see God as your closest friend and refuge and that your faith would not rest on just what you see, but what you don’t see- the eternal hope of glory. You are loved so fiercely by Jesus and I pray that you can understand that love He has for you and that your heart will trust in no one but Him.

We love you little muffie. Thanks for bringing us joy with your sweet spirit.
Love your goofy faces!
Sporting your razorback camo!
You didn't quite know what to think of this, not quite big enough yet!
                                                                  All dressed up for church! 

Got your hightops on to run errands with mom and dad!

                                     You're supposed to be sleeping....but I couldn't resist this adorable moment of you watching me! 

                                                 This is often how you sleep, all sprawled out haha

                                                Getting ready to cry......
                                                      .....gettin madder.....

..."that's it, mom, i'm done!"

My 3 month girl!
                                                                          You are beautiful.
                                                                 Sweet bracelet from Aunt Jackie!

 You are a great delight to Jesus....song of the day "Sing over your children"- Matt Maher