Friday, June 30, 2017

Headed to Africa

Wednesday, we arrived at the airport excited to begin the journey to see our dear friends, the Sengoga's who we met a few years ago when Joel and his family came to do the pastoral training program with Fellowship Associates (I blogged about their fair well party here).  Joel and Annie joined our D-group and for that year we got to spend every other Tuesday night getting to know them, hearing about their ministry in Rwanda and enjoying their friendship.  So Wednesday was really exciting for us since we have hoped, for so long, to do this trip to see them and all that they do in Rwanda.  We boarded a plane with some great friends of ours and their four kiddos to round out this posse to a whopping twelve passengers (eight who are 10 and under) traveling for some twenty-eight hours from Little Rock to Kigali, Rwanda with a hope and prayer of safe travels and wonderful memories to be made.

The kids were super pumped to be getting on a plane and didn't fully understand just how long we would be in flight so I tried to explain it in terms of how many movies they would likely be able to watch while in route.  Though we had prepped them for how the flights would be, we could not deter their enthusiasm.  We showed up to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport loaded for bear.  This was just our families checked baggage!!  With six people traveling for ten or so days to Rwanda (where, lets face it, the food would be different then our kids are used to and there isn't a Wal-Mart to grab something,  we packed lots of food and snacks that we knew could get us through trip.)
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Emerson's first grade class will be doing a study with Flat Stanley, so naturally we brought him along too!
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We made it through security and waited at the gate.  The dads decided we'd do morning devotions so John took the first day for our group by making a fun "secret code" treasure hunt of sorts that started with the flight attendant giving a clue to the kids and finally ending with them reading in Matthew 28, about the the great commission.  We gathered as families and prayed right there in the middle of Gate 4 before boarding the plane.
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As already stated (and it goes without saying) with a group this size and kids this cute, we turned heads from Little Rock to Amsterdam; we were not subtle in the least.  We got all kinds of smiles and "wow, what a crew" comments and of course a knowing nod when one of these precious little people had a moment of meltdown or whining.  In Atlanta, we ate lunch and passed the time by running out as much energy as possible by looping through all the terminals on foot; the kids LOVED riding the moving sidewalks, it was quite the treat for them!
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We did ride the "underground train" a time or two and this sweet girl had a blast doing it!
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I won't say the trip was pleasant every single second, sleeping from Atlanta to Amsterdam was a bit challenging, but I CAN say I do not fear the return flights.  We all made it, the kids did awesome with their iPads, Boogie Boards, seat back TV's and of course lots of snacks.
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Being our full time pharmacist as we continue taking our Malaria meds, is definitely NOT my most favorite job, especially since I have to crush Emerson's and Ava Jane's into powder then proceed to try and get them to take it when mixed in juice or milk....I'll just say, it's a tad like a hostage negotiation, but it's nothing an MnM reward can't cure.
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I'm so glad to be traveling with these dear friends!  What an adventure we are on.  I can't wait to live the rest of this story and share all about it with each of you!  We are excited to meet the people who work with Joel and Annie at Divine Destiny and to see up close what we have heard so much about and have already grown to love.  We anticipate getting to see how God is at work among the people there and how we can continue to come alongside the Sengoga's as they work to influence and impact the people around them.  Prayers for health and safety as we travel about would be so appreciated!
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

See Ya Later

In my military life, I learned not to say "Goodbye" but rather, "See Ya Later", it's just a whole lot easier for me to think about it that way.  So when a good friend and her husband finally decided to make a family move to Texas (after many years of debate and prayer), I decided to try and put together a little Girls Night Out, to gather, celebrate and say "See Ya Later."

I met Emily Helm several years back through our kids elementary school.  Upon my first encounters with her, I knew we would be fast friends.  She is kind and thoughtful, encouraging and always willing to help.  She is one of the most patient people I know and she truly desires to love God, her husband and kids to the very best of her ability.  She's a wonderful friend and I will miss running into her and seeing her regularly.  I had the privilege of having her as a member of my Bible Study group for two years in a row and always appreciated her willingness to be open and transparent, to share from her heart all that God was showing her.  Then this last year we were in another Bible study group together and getting to hear all that God was teaching her as we sat around that dining room table was always encouraging.   Getting to watch as God began to shine His light little by little on the path He was preparing for their family, has been so fun to observe.  So, though its bitter sweet that today, she and her family are being packed up and loaded as I type, I'm thrilled for the fact that she will get to be near all of her extended family.  Having personally lived far from family for many years, I know that the fact that she gets to be minutes away from her parents and sisters, and that her kids and their cousins will be able to have regular play dates, just thrills my heart!

Jeri (our small group leader) had her table set so beautifully and we had ordered a very tasty cake from Mickey's that we all enjoyed after a delicious meal from Taziki's.  It was fun just being around the table one more time simply talking and laughing together.
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Hearing these women share how and when they'd met Emily and what we love most about her was really fun!
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For me, I will always be grateful for Emily sharing a Bible study called The Daily Walk, I'd never heard of it, but it has been a game changer for me.  You can purchase the book or you can get the App, which is what I use, and I.LOVE.IT!  It has you read chronologically through the Bible in one year.  I've tried to read through the entire Bible three times now but never made it all the way through, due to the fact that I couldn't keep up with my daily Bible readings while also keeping up with my Bible study group material.  I have literally been in or been leading a Bible study group every year since I was in the 7th grade, so for twenty-two years now, what?!!!  (How can that be?)  I always love the encouragement from being around other believers and studying God's word together, but I've decided for the rest of this year, I plan to stay steady with The Daily Walk so that I can make it all the way through this time.  Going straight through God's word, reading it and asking the Lord to show me new things has been really awesome and honestly, I have found myself craving to read and understand more of who God is and who I am because of what He's done.  The study does a great job of giving a little depth of insight but also has personal application questions that I may or may not have thought about as I was reading through the chapters.  If you're at all interested in reading through the Bible, I would highly recommend this study, it's been very eye opening.  I will always be grateful to Emily for telling me about it and for how God has truly put a hunger in my heart to spend more time with Him.  
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Emily, I am thankful that God had our paths cross so many years ago and will always be grateful for our friendship.  May God bless and keep you, may His light shine down upon you and fill you with peace as you begin this new journey.  I'm praying for you and Ryan as you make this move, know you are dearly loved and are always welcome to visit (and I just may have to take you up on your guest house out back!)  Love you sweet friend!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sweet Summertime

We spent Memorial Weekend at Lake Ouachita and kicked off our start to summer there.  The kids were literally counting down the days till we could pack up and leave town.  Going to the lake truly is a stress reliever for Adam and its a really fun activity to do as family, the memories we've made with our kids will last a lifetime and I look forward to making many more!

Here's a little taste of our weekend.
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We had most of our meals out on the covered deck over looking the water, it was quiet and serene, we  all enjoyed our time there.
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Lake time with the three amigos looked something like this.  They set sail on an unknown adventure out into "Wakeboard" cove.
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Ava Jane was beside herself to tube with the boys this first time!  Last summer she hardly ever wanted to tube, this kick-off weekend, she couldn't get enough of that yellow and orange package full of fun!
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There were some beach balls and a volleyball net to play with, so the kids kept busy while we grilled burgers and hotdogs. How cute is my girl?
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When I asked Emerson what he wanted on his hamburger, meaning, mustard or ketchup, cheese or no cheese, all he said was "just the ham Mom."  We all died laughing...he didn't even know why we thought he was so funny!  This will forever be one of those quotes I'll remember him saying when he was a kid (and in case I forget, I've got it documented here.)
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Ava Jane ruled the pool, no one else was using it the whole weekend...could it have been because the water was some 65-70 degrees....but who cares, right?!  Not the four year old!
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The kids were glad to get to spend the weekend with my parents.
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We had dinner at Cajun Boiler's, where I enjoyed eating a plate full of crab legs; I don't do that very often, but I sure do enjoy when I do!!  
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My sweet girl, was pretty tired after a fun day on the water, she zoned out for a bit while we waited for our appetizers, I couldn't resist snapping this sweet picture.
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While Ava Jane zoned out, Lawson thought it'd be fun to take my cracked shells and play with the claw from my crab legs.  He went so far as to try and attach it to my Dad's ear lob, then tried to look surprised at the occurrence.
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And after our dinner we decided to take a sunset cruise and I snapped this picture before we took off.  These little people of mine, truly make my heart want to burst. As I see how big they are getting and realize I simply have eight more of these summers with Peyton before he heads off for college or full time job responsibilities, my heart wants to break but it also inspires me to make the most of these days.  To try and soak up each little morsel of time that I have been given and to make the memories, get wet even when the waters cold, to ride in the tube, laugh at the crazy and just enjoy what God has so graciously blessed me with.   So, here's to sweet summer time and to more memory making!
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Norah Jane's Sip and See

I'm at that stage where I'm not getting regular invitations to many weddings anymore and honestly not even many baby showers either.  So when two families in our D-Group each adopted precious baby girls within weeks of each other, us ladies began thinking about how to celebrate the excitement of this news.  We got to celebrate Lizzie Hutchins precious life a few weeks ago (which you can see here) and last weekend we joined together with more friends to welcome sweet Norah Jane.  After our initial text of trying to find a date that worked for most people to host it, we determined that literally the very next Saturday was the only weekend that worked for most of the hostesses due to summer plans and family vacations.  So we threw this little soirĂ©e together within seven short days.  And if I do say so myself, I think my talented friends and I did a fabulous job pulling it off.  We chose to go with a color scheme that mimics what Marla is going to do in the nursery, black and white stripes with pops of hot pink and bright colors.  We had a fantastic brunch complete with a mimosa bar as well as a coffee one too.
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This group of ladies are some of my most dear friends (Nana and Megan, what fun it was to do this shower together.)  




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Marla is not short on exuberant expressions and I LOVE that about her!!  (Here she is showing off  Norah's adorable bedding!!)

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And I'm always in my happy place when I'm getting to snuggle a precious baby and this one is no exception!!

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Marla, what a privilege to have gotten a front row seat to this God story.  From start to finish, what a remarkable, thing God has done for your family.  I'm so very, very glad that Nate "got to bring his 'work' home!"  I CANNOT wait to see what the Lord is going to do through this precious little bundle of joy!   May God continue to knit your hearts together as you bond and may He fill your hearts with incredible peace as you and Nate continue to follow after Him.  
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14th Anniversary Celebration

Adam and I try to get away with each other once a year.  This year, in the span of a month we have managed to get away twice (thanks to my p...