Tuesday, January 27, 2009

where the players play!!!

This past weekend Andy and I with two of our (did you hear that Andy, OUR, Julie is MY friend so that makes 2) friends, Chris and Julie took a day trip to Atlanta. I was not really sure what to expect from this trip as we were going to visit a dear, dear friend of Andy and Chris that has recently been sick. Can I just tell you that the trip was so much fun. We had a blast on the way down, stopping only for coffee - twice! The conversation covered just about everything that you can imagine. Let's just say that Andy and I are a lot closer to Chris and Julie... and we will leave it at that. The three hour drive down there flew by and before we knew it we were getting ourselves lost in Atlanta. Now I don't know about you but there is not much scarier than driving around Atlanta, lost, with crazy drivers, your driver all hopped up on caffeine trying to input your destination into the GPS system of a car that he does not normally drive (it was his mother's - here is a shout our to Natalie and T for their A-W-E-S-O-M-E car), all the while doing his best not to kill all of us. It was an adventure alright. We finally made it to our destination, oh a couple of hours early so we went and ate lunch. Andy and I got burgers, Julie got soup and salad (she is such a lady) and Chris, well he got the skinny burger - a burger with 2-3 slices of ham, a mound of cheese and a side of fries. He ate the whole thing. We made it to our visit and when it was time to leave we loaded up in the car to head on back to Knoxville. I don't think that we stopped laughing the whole way home. My sides, my cheeks and my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. We only stopped one time on the way home and I will ask that all of you when you see Chris, ask him about yelling things out across gas stations in Cleveland, TN. I don't know what Andy and I would do without Chris in our lives but it sure would be a lot less funny. Thank you Chris and Julie for a fun and memorable day. Thinking about it right now still is making me laugh. We love you both and are so glad that we can call both of your our friends.

This picture is from Halloween,
how terrible is it that this is the most recent picture of the four of us!!!
Something that we will have to remedy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I am a SISTER!

I wrote the following post a while ago HERE. Way back when I posted a very vague post and most of you thought that Andy and I were pregnant. I hope that this clears things up. I said in that post that we are blessed more than we know. We are and I hope this explains it a bit better. It is a bit long but I think well worth the read.

As most of you know, I love my blog. Would you believe that a year ago I did not really know what a blog is and now among my friends I am probably the person who talks about and gets excited about blogs the most? I guess that my verbal skills show up in my passions. I am a passionate person and at times it gets me into trouble. I love to tell people about the latest thing that I am thinking about or reading about. This leads me to what I want to tell you about today. It is something that I have kept quiet. It is not bad so fear not. It is one of the most beautiful, yet tragic stories that I have heard in a while. The story makes me burn with passion about something that is so important to me. F.A.M.I.L.Y.
First a side note. Last night Andy and I went on a run. A 5 mile run. That is the farthest that I have run in a while. I know, I have been a slacker. Before we started Andy mentioned that he was not sure that I was going to make it. I had some doubts myself. (Don’t tell him that.) He later told me that it was not that he did not think that I could make it but that I was going to start complaining and getting grumpy and he was going to take the brunt of it. (Not sure where he got that idea, because that has never happened before. Hee hee hee.) As Andy and I started the run on the Boulevard our pace, as it usually does when we run 5 or more miles, started slow and picked up as we got into a rhythm. Although we were making pretty good time, by the time that we got to Kingston Pike it was dusk/dark. We started down the trail to the Greenway, and it was dark. We could barely see the path in front of us, and I started to get scared. I think that I even said, “Oh, this is not scary!” Please read that with the most sarcastic voice that you can muster. I was scared and not to mention that there were people at the bridge at the bottom of the hill. As quickly as I became scared, and passed those men, I looked over at my husband and my fears subsided. I knew that he would protect me. The run continued and I picked up the pace because it was getting darker and I wanted to get back to the car. Now, some people listen to music when they run. I am not usually one of those people. I am not sure why. It may be that when I was in college during our countless fitness tests we were not allowed to run with music, or because I like to challenge myself without any outside help, or if I just like to hear the bike behind me before it hits me. Whatever the case may be, if it is less than 7 miles I usually don’t have any music on and this night was no different. So, because I don’t listen to music, I think a lot on my runs. Sometimes it is about mindless things that help me pass the time, and sometimes it is about the next soccer practice and what drills I would like to run, and sometimes I pray. Last night I knew that I needed strength to get through the run, and so I prayed. What I prayed for is the story that I want to tell you about…
There is a woman. Her name is Stephanie Nielson. She might just be one of the most beautiful women that I have ever seen. I have never met her and probably never will. When I first saw a picture of her I did not think much about it, but as I read her story (blog) I began to see her heart and her beauty really began to shine. Stephanie is my age (27) and has 4, yes you read that right, 4 adorable children. Her blog is about being a wife and a mother. She tells her story from the perspective that although her life is crazy at times, you can find beauty in everything. I am not sure that all of you know but I can’t wait to be a mom. Andy and I are not quite at the point where we are ready to start a family, but I can’t wait until we ARE ready to start a family and be given the greatest gift of becoming someone’s parents. Stephanie takes time to cherish her husband and children. She makes every moment important. This is where the tragedy comes in. In August of this year Stephanie and her husband, Christian (who was getting is pilot’s license), were in a plane crash. Christian sustained burns on 35% of his body, the instructor lost his life do to his injuries, and Stephanie suffered burns on 80% of her body. The story does not end there. This family has an amazing extended family. They have all stepped in taking various roles to help Stephanie and Christian. One of her sisters purchased her a house so Stephanie and Christian can move from Arizona (where they currently live and where the plane crash occurred and where Christian’s family lives) back to Utah (where Stephanie’s family lives and where she longed to live for some time now.) Utah is also where Stephanie’s children are now living. This to me is one of the more amazing parts of the story and very amazing to see God’s hand in this family’s life. One of Stephanie’s sisters already has 8 children, the other had just recently been married, and one had been wishing for children for some time and had recently given birth to a baby boy. The latter sister, Courtney, took on the HUGE task, although somehow I don’t think that she sees it that way, of caring for the three older children. She lives near the one that recently got married, Lucy, who is taking care of the baby of the family. They bring all the children together every night for dinner and are always helping each other out as well as traveling to Arizona (a 10 hour drive) to visit their beautiful sister. When I was running and praying I started off praying for Stephanie’s healing. She believes in God and although we don’t totally agree on everything… the bottom line is that she believes in God and so do I. I want God to heal Stephanie because I know that He can. I want her legs to become strong again so she can continue to enjoy running, as I do. I want her to be able to move her hands and feel her children’s touch. I want her arms to heal so she can continue to take care of her family the way that she always has by cooking them meals and taking care of her home. I want her mind to be strong so she can see the beautiful woman that she was and will continue to be. I want her heart to know all of the people that she has touch and inspired to become better women, wives and mothers. I want her to know that no matter the scars… she is an amazing woman of God.
Then I prayed for myself. The thing is, I want to be like Stephanie and Courtney in the very same breath. I want to take care of my family the way that Stephanie takes care of hers. I want my home to be filled with as much love and happiness as we can fit in it. I want to be like Courtney and be there for my extended family in whatever circumstances that our family will face in the future. I want to be strong so that if our family ever has to face a tough time that they know that I will always be there. I will take care of their children, visit them no matter how far away, and pray for them always. I want to be better. I long to be better and I will strive for it. Stephanie has opened my eyes wider to the importance of taking care of your family no matter the sacrifice. For this I am indebted to Stephanie. I am an only child and admittedly spoiled. Since Andy and I got married, my eyes have begun to open to a whole new relationship that I have never experienced before. I am now a sister. Andy and I will have been married for 2 wonderful years in July and slowly since that day I have started to remove the “in-law” status from his family. It just seems so formal and distant both of which I don’t want to be. I want to have a deeper and close relationship with both my brothers (I will have a new brother in June!) and sisters (three of them and they are each so beautiful and so much fun.) I know that it will not be easy as we have not always been family, but FAMILY is what matters. Years from now, we will still be family, we will still get together for holidays, we will go to each other’s birthday parties for our children, and we will love each other through tough times and the happiest of times. I love my siblings more than they will ever know. In the past 2 years they have taught me more than they will ever know. I wish to never disappoint them, although I know I will. What I want them to know the most is that they know that I will always, always be there. If they were to ever need anything, I would be there. So to Jeff, Danielle, Megan, Scott and Cally I love you all so much, I treasure the relationships that I have with each of you and in the future I can’t wait for the life that we have together as F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We will keep praying...

For some reason God started off this year for Andy and I in a season of deep and continuous prayer. A great way to start the year even if we look at it as not for the reasons that we would have liked. We are so very thankful for answered prayers thus far. We will continue on in this season of prayer no matter how long it takes. God has placed some tough times on people that we love and are so dear to us, and so as this new year begins we are praying.