October 28, 2010

Far Away for Far Too Long

since it's been oh, what? close to a year since the last time i posted anything on this blog, i find myself not knowing where to start. imagine that! for awhile there, life was mostly about surviving and making sure my kids did too. then, there were so many changes happening at once that the last thing i had time to think about was writing them down.

now that we have started to settle- at least a little- into our new routine, i decided the least i could do is post some pics of my precious babies. just to give a quick update, as of august, i am back to teaching full time, lorelei is in kindergarten, and everett james spends his days hanging out at mrs. janice's. and i feel like we're all adjusting quite well!

i llllove my job and my students almost every day. and on the days i don't, i still feel abundantly blessed to be able to do something that i feel good about and make some small difference in the world. if i could hire some sort of education minion to do all my paperwork and grading for me, i'd have the perfect job.

lorelei is doing really well so far at school, and she just loves her teacher, student teacher, and her new friends at spring valley. she also just finished her first season of soccer where- though definitely not the most competitive little athlete- she had a blast and looked cute doing it.

i am such a sucker for the fall weather, and when we have pretty days like today, the kids and i spend as much time outside as possible. i tried to get shots of them looking "fall-ish" after church one day, but of course these were the best ones i got:

everett is approaching his 3rd birthday so quickly that i wish i could yank on the emergency brake. he talks all day, every day now, whether the rest of the world understands him or not. some favorite words to use right now are "at-shully" and "i need...somefing!" he's working on potty training and doing pretty well most days, and his "big boy" bedding arrived last night via u.p.s. he's super excited about having a big boy bed soon as well as a construction themed birthday party. i had been calling it a dump truck party, but yesterday he said, "i change my mind. i want back-hoe party instead." hmmm...not sure they make those, son, but i'll see what i can do.

that's all the catching up i have time for right now, but in case anyone still looks at this blog, i'll leave you with a little more cuteness from uncle cody's wedding.

January 31, 2010

30 reasons we can't help but love michele

1. If you ever need the materials to make a scrapbook page of, say, a hamster playing softball in the Olympics with the Jamaican bobsled team, Michele will have them on hand.

2. When you call and tell her you need her help, no matter where she is, she’ll drive fast enough to be on your doorstep within an hour.

3. Michele is the kind of friend who is loyal from the moment she meets you until the day she dies.

4. The girl will tell you if you don’t look good in yellow.

5. She is such an amazing interior decorator that if the blue in the throw pillows doesn’t exactly match the color on the opposing wall in every light, she and Robert will re-paint the wall in their spare time on a Tuesday evening.

6. Michele is the kind of mother who spends hours riding stick horses with her sweet son, and prays fiercely for him to become the man God intends for him to be.

7. She is such a disciplined dieter that she would eat nothing but Caesar salad and granola bars all week if it meant her weekend reward could include a chicken fried steak.

8. Michele is the best shopping buddy ever. She finds sales where no matter what you buy, it’s supposed to be half off at the register.

9. Her marriage to Robert is a true picture of how two best friends can stay madly in love by continuing to make each other a top priority in their busy lives.

10. Though she has her reservations about making a good “preacher’s wife,” all who meet her know that her heart for people and ability to listen without judgment make her a perfect fit for the job.

11. You can live with the girl for years and still genuinely enjoy every minute you get to spend laughing, chatting, and reminiscing with her.

12. Michele was tough enough to teach teenagers with rough backgrounds for many years, and she never stopped working tirelessly to find new ways to inspire and connect with them.

13. The girl really “brings the heat” when pitching a softball, and manages to look cute while doing it.

14. If you check her pre-set radio stations, you are likely to hear Rascal Flats on one, Sandi Patti on the next, and an up-and-coming rapper on another.

15. She says that she doesn’t cook, but she makes delicious dips and addictive chex mix.

16. She’d run a wiener dog rescue if she could, and her beautiful home would be over-run with little old dogs with wheels on their hind legs.

17. Sweet Michele hates asking for favors so badly that her voice rises an entire octave when she states her request.

18. She’s an amazing combination of protective big sister as well as understanding encourager to her brother and sister.

19. If I ever have another wedding, and decide it should be outdoors-- in January-- in Minnesota, I know that my Shelly will be thoughtful enough to make me a planning notebook, throw on warm socks and a bridesmaid’s dress, and stand by my side with tears of joy spilling out of her pretty brown eyes.

20. Michele lovingly named her first car “Poo-Poo Brown,” and then made up for her lost youth by getting a sweet mustang about a year before motherhood struck and the family car was needed.

21. If you ever have a hankering for a marathon of movies featuring either Tim McGraw or Martin Lawerence, Michele’s got the hook-up.

22. Michele has such a giving spirit that if you marry her 3rd cousin, you can expect a thoughtful birthday present in the mail each year.

23. Canton is no match for those shopping and decorating skills we mentioned earlier.

24. Her dedication to Cade was evident when she started pondering whether he should go to college first or take a job as a pro-athlete before the sweet boy was even born.

25. She may not know her own strength, but she is a true rock when it comes to following the plans God has for her life and her family, no matter what the cost.

26. The girl always rises to a challenge, whether it be managing a church softball team or playing a beautiful ballad on a flute for a packed house at UMHB.

27. She’ll cry with you when you’re sad and laugh when you tickle her.

28. Michele does a great leprechaun impression, in fact, that's the only impression she can do.

29. She keeps herself feeling young by using phrases like, “fo shizzle my nizzle,” with her students.

30. Michele will not only laugh at herself while reading this, but she’ll still be our friend tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Shelly bell! We love you!
(written by Mandy and Jill)

September 27, 2009

all i need to know

as i come to the end of a day filled with a roller coaster of emotions, complete with waves of overwhelming exhaustion, i am so thankful to be grounded in the truth of the god i serve and his unchanging character. it is my belief that when we experience gut-wrenching, knock-you-off-your-feet tragedy in our lives, most humans do one of two things. we either doubt the god we thought we knew and run in the opposite direction, or we embrace him. well, maybe it's more accurate to say we cling to him out of the desperation of knowing that there is nothing and nobody else that can get us through this. knowing that he is our only means of survival.

does this mean that the people who do the latter never doubt him for a second? do they never wonder why a loving god would allow such searingly painful circumstances to befall his followers? do they never question how being faithful to this god landed them in relationships where other people could be so unfaithful to their promises?

i can't answer for anyone else, but to the question of whether i have ever felt this way, the answer is a resounding, "OH YEAH." though i love to imagine the idea of being a person who possess super powers, trusting god every second of every day with never a doubt or a question would certainly not be my power. and in all honesty, giving the world the answers to all these questions wouldn't be my power either.

all i can tell you is what i know; and i know that my god is real and he is good. i see the evidence when i take the time to stare at the stars as they twinkle, see the artistry ingrained in every sunset, and look at the toothy grins of the beautiful children he gave me. i hear him speak to my heart through time spent reading scripture- for the first time or the hundredth, and through other christians who love me as they come to my side to encourage and pray over me. i have watched eagerly as time after time he has answered my prayers in the most creative and obvious ways.

and he knows i still have questions, and he knows i still have moments of doubt. yet he continues to love me lavishly, pursue me passionately, and fight for me faithfully. in the face of this truth, my pain and my anguish seem all but washed away by the wake of his glory. so for now i put away the questions, the requests, and the anxiety; and i rest in knowing that the answers don't really matter. if the god who created me and the jesus who died a wretched death to save my soul mean anything to me, how can they not mean everything?

the train of his robe fills the temple, and he is bigger than this current crisis. he's big enough to handle whatever we throw at him, so throw whatever you've got. please-- i beg you-- don't let the cloudiness of your reality get in the way of the clarity of his divinity. he's waiting. he loves you. he's got eternal life and abundant life, and he's offering both. "abundance" isn't the part where the roller coaster gets to the top of the tallest hill. it's where you have the freedom to ride through all it's ups and downs with your hands held high in the air, knowing you are safe and secure in the arms of your savior.

September 9, 2009

isn't she lovely?

30 reasons jill is the coolest chick ever

1. she loves jesus fiercely

2. she could live on pop tarts and cereal if anyone would let her

3. since high school, i have never seen the girl in public with a single hair out of place

4. she was an amazing teacher who was adored by students, parents and administrators alike

5. scott bryant, careful planner that he is, couldn't resist her pouting any longer and proposed marriage earlier than he had scheduled (and he's still glad he did)

6. she prays on her knees for her family and friends on a daily basis

7. jill's bedtime ritual could put most OCD sufferers to shame with it's complexity

8. she is strikingly beautiful, yet not the least bit conceited

9. she's been putting up with me in her life since the 7th grade

10. her faith has stood firm through many trials, and she uses her experience to minister to others

11. she might panic over a hair on the bathroom floor, but when faced with a true crisis, she's really handy to have around

12. did i mention her hair already?

13. she is the most dedicated, patient, understanding mother i know

14. she can spend an hour trying to choose a restaurant, then get there and still not like anything on the menu :)

15. she is so giving that her friends are able to experience christ's love through her attitude

16. our senior year of high school, she was able to easily wear a cheer leading uniform that belonged to our friend tiffany- who happens to be a good 6 inches shorter- and jill rocked it

17. she stands up for those she loves and makes them feel good about themselves

18. she always eats with me whatever crazy thing i'm baking at the time, and never puts on a lb.

19. she has been married for 7 years, and she is still constantly striving to better herself in her role as a wife

20. for all the high maintenance jokes we make, she is great at laughing at herself

21. if you ask her what time it is, she's likely to say, "it's 5 to the 30," or some similar statement

22. god has blessed her with a beautiful voice, and she uses it to glorify his name

23. her precious daughter hasn't slept well since birth- but instead of complaining about it, jill will say things like, "at least none of us has a terminal illness"

24. i once told her i had the urge to push her off the balcony of a hotel- just to see her fall- and she's still my bff

25. she's encourages by writing sweet cards, praying scripture over people, and giving gifts when people are down

26. once the girl gets a tan, it lasts for like a year

27. she can scrapbook like no body's business-- and she's even frugal about it

28. she dove head first into my icy river with me, and she's content to ride it out until it gets better

29. every boy who ever knew her fell in love with her, but it still broke her heart when she had to let them down

30. she asks really poignant questions like, "how will we know when the bus comes?"


September 3, 2009

oh, how he loves us

it has been a long time since i've posted on my blog. i've been busy. busy drowning in an ice cold river. this river is filled with doubt, anger, fear, and self-pity to name a few. the cold is not the least bit refreshing, but rather paralyzing. it leaves me disoriented, numb, and struggling to catch my breath.

i'm not sure when i fell in, or how i'll pull myself out. i'm battered and bruised from slamming into one rock after another, each one causing enough pain to break through the numbness and remind of the reality of the situation.

fortunately, i have some life preservers. they come in the form of my friends and family. i have many encouragers standing on the bank of my river, cheering me on and praying for my safety. there are also some who are as close to the rapids as possible, allowing themselves to be cut and bruised, while reaching into the icy cold to try and pull me out. i am sometimes able to grab on to them and get a break from the beating, but the current is too strong for me to remain.

still, there are a select few who do all they can to save me from this, and who would willingly trade places with me if they could. of course, i would never let them, but they will never know how much it has meant to me to have such overwhelming help and hope and love to remind me to keep breathing and fight for the future.

when i awoke this morning at 2:00 am, engulfed in the raging chill of the river and feeling the weight of the water on my chest, i was afraid this would not be a good day. certainly- some days are better than others, but i had a feeling this day would bring no relief. i thought about my life preservers, but even the most dedicated would be sleeping at this hour, and i know that none of them has the ability to actually pull me out of this place.

so i began to pray to the one person who is big enough to calm the water, dry it up, or pluck me out, if he so desires. and something miraculous happened. i began to smell salt in the air, and feel a warm breeze pushing through the oppressive clouds. ever since i was a child, the smell of the salty ocean has been as instantly calming as a valium for my soul.

as i drew nearer to my savior, the raging rapids became the slow, lulling waves of an enormous new body of water. i felt myself begin to relax as the water temperature increased and warmed me from the outside in, and there was no more need to struggle. i was peacefully surrounded by the real, living ocean of god's love. my breath came effortlessly as he held me in his hand, and i was able to glimpse the beauty and glory of the dawn breaking way off in the distance. i could sense that sunrise would be majestic, and i know now that it is coming for me.

i know the "new day" may be a long way off, but for now i will wait here and try to be patient. will there be moments where i once again experience the fear of the icy abyss? without a doubt. but i pray that in the pain of those times, i can remember the calm of my ocean, and the faithfulness of my god. my prayer for you is that even if your day begins in with you drowning in a raging river, it will end with you sinking in the ocean of jesus's unconditional, lavish love.

maybe this song will help us all grasp that.


June 3, 2009

tiny dancer

well, my sweet lorelei had her very first dance recital last weekend. i have to say that i couldn't have been more excited, but i did set my expectations for her performance fairly low. that's because the child just turned 4, and i have taught classes this age where they know the dance perfectly in class but still just stand there awestruck on such a big stage with the bright lights.

the best part about this dance class is that she got to do it all year with her bff's, sohie and lucy. they are both still 3 years old, and they did a great job at the rehearsal and recital. all of our precious girls had great attitudes through the entire weekend, and i couldn't be more proud.we had a small celebration playdate at chuck e. cheese with the girls, the babies, and hudson on the morning of the recital. i made a ballerina cake to pump them up, and i think it was a hit.

at one point in the dress rehearsal meg, who also used to dance, just looked at me as the older girls danced their hearts out on the stage and asked if i was jealous. yes- i was, but i suppose no one wants to see an almost 30 year old mother of two up there shaking her groove thing, so i'll continue to try to be the supportive- but not psychotic- stage mom for now.

anyway, watching my first born dance and smile at the audience brought tears to my eyes. even if that's the only recital she ever does, i will cherish the pictures and memories forever. can you believe how cute they are?

May 23, 2009

goin' to the chapel

it has been so long since last i posted, that i'm just going to let the pictures update you on the happenings of our last month or two. here goes:
my boy is still a monkey...
who got his first haircut... given by his daddy...

on our kitchen table.

our easter (which was also my birthday) was great...
complete with the bunny.

we met my precious nephew, wallace...
and found out that uncle michael and aunt brook will give us another niece or nephew in nov!

my girl is still a princess...

who loves bluebonnets...

and her brother.
my sister is anxiously awaiting the day she holds her first child...
which should be sometime in june... and i can't wait!
what else was i going to tell you about june?
oh yeah...
my mom
is getting
pics of the diamonds and the man soon to come. we couldn't be more excited!