Thursday, March 31, 2011

Walking Girl!!

Ellie took her first steps on March 14, about a week and a half after her first birthday!  She's been really cautious since then, not ever wanting to do it - especially not on cue.  But, the last few days, I think she's realized that walking is pretty cool and has been doing it a lot. :)

I finally was able to get a few steps on video the other day.  When you watch it, please ignore my screaming.... I mean, wow, can you say excited, obnoxious mom?

When I see Ellie walk, and especially when she walks toward me, this wonderful sense of joy and excitement and delight wells up in me.  I scoop her up and hug her and say in that high-pitched, excited-mommy voice, "GOOD JOB!  You did it!".

Do you think this is how God feels when He sees us doing something that He created us to do, especially when its risky?  I wonder...

PS - The couple in the video are our good friends (and soon-to-be neighbors!) here in Tyler, Carolyn and David.  Ellie LOVES them, and she loves their son Hutch.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

These Days

Our new house!  Inside you will find lots of boxes.
Running a fun 10K in our new neighborhood.
Spring springing.
Loving our boots and the weather.
Learning to use the sippy.
Hanging with Hutch.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

God's Hidden Hand

We recently studied the book Esther in my Tuesday morning Bible study, and I was so encouraged by its theme:

God's plans may be hidden, but his hidden hand is always working for His glory and for the good of those who love Him.

I sometimes wonder... why did this or that happen in my life?  God, why have you moved us from Austin to Dallas to China to Boston and now to Tyler, TX?  Why have we moved every 2-3 years?  Why did my businessman husband go to seminary?  How in the world did we end up in Tyler, where we never thought we'd be?

Could it be that one of the many reasons we have moved to so many places so that it has provided me with a larger audience of people to (hopefully) encourage with music?  Maybe...

Could it be that one of the reasons we went to seminary in Massachusetts was because, there, all fertility treatment is free for those who have insurance?  Did God, in His sovereignty, so sweetly work that out for us, all behind the scenes?  I will never forget that feeling when I realized God's tender and providential care for us in this.

Could it be that Nick went to seminary at Gordon-Conwell not to become a pastor but to serve in other ways?  What those ways are, we don't fully know quite yet... but we are seeing glimpses.

Could it be that, in Tyler, we are exactly where God's hidden hand has guided us to be for now?  To serve our church?  To love high school kids?  To make new friends that will deeply affect us and live life with us?

God is telling a Story and, crazily, He is using our small stories to tell it.  We can take great comfort in knowing that the Story maker's hidden hand is working, even if we can't see what it is doing, and it is working and moving for our good and His glory.

This song from Esther reminds us of this truth... I hope you like it!

Can't see the player?  Click refresh or go here to listen, even on your mobile phone.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ellie's 1st Birthday Party

Ellie turned 1 this past Sunday!  So hard to believe.  We had a little party for her on Saturday, and it was really fun.  

I had been excited about giving Ellie a one year birthday party for months... I can't explain why exactly... I'm not usually one to get excited about this type of thing.  But, I think I just was so excited for her.  I couldn't wait to celebrate her life.  It's been one amazing year, and I think all of that pent-up joy, delight, and effort needed to get out somehow... and somehow it turned me into Betty-Homemaker-Cutesy-Party-Thrower.   Hmmmm.

Ellie's invite was my first-ever Photoshop project, which takes care of #18 on the "30 before 30" list!
I was proud of myself.
Having just moved back to Texas after 4 years away, I thought it would be fun to go with the "Texas" theme, which I know all of our out-of-state friends will think is just so.... well, typical.  Texans have their state pride, that's for sure.  Who else frames their flag and hangs it on their wall?  No one, apparently.

That flag is always there, by the way!  See? Texas pride.
Ellie already owns her first pair of boots, courtesy of Target.
We had a Texas flag cupcake cake, PBJ sandwiches cut in the shape of Texas, pink Texas-shaped sugar cookies, Dr. Pepper, sweet tea, layered dip, and yummy ham and cheese sliders from Annie's Eats (not a Texas thing, but still... soooo good!).
Texas flag cupcake cake, made "girly" by using pink and turquoise instead of red and blue.
Hmmm... what to think?
She loved it!
All the friends and cousins, minus Felicity.
Melting down.
Future BFF Felicity who drove all the way in from Dallas.
We are so thankful for Ellie's first year, with all the ups and downs.  Thanks Thomas and Bozeman cousins, Flarey, and Mimi and Papeaux, for driving in from so far away just to celebrate Ellie with us!  And thank you to all of our friends and Nini and Papa here in Tyler for being there.  We love you.

Nick's Trip to Sierra Leone (Pics!)

A few posts ago, I told you that Nick was going to Sierra Leone, Africa with a team from our church.  Well, he's back now (yay)!  Nick and the team got back just ta week ago today after 10 days in SL, and it was a really good trip.

The thing that amazed me most about this trip was the way it fit Nick's heart and experiences like a glove...

Our church is partnered with a ministry there and, in many ways, ministries are just like businesses, right?  The team weighed in on management decisions, small business opportunities, and met with the ministry's board.  An amazingly perfect fit for Nick's business/management brain and his interest in social enterprise/microfinance (he took classes in seminary on this because he wanted to learn more).

The other part of the trip was pouring into the churches and church members - preaching on Sunday and teaching Bible courses (thankful for those preaching classes and seminary).  Of course, our year in East Asia with Crusade was helpful from the missionary aspect too. So cool.
The church where Nick preached.
We are so thankful to God for allowing Nick to have this opportunity that used all of his "random" patchwork of things he is passionate about - social enterprise, business, and ministry.

The thing that surprised and saddened Nick most was definitely the level of poverty that he saw in the city of Freetown. The unemployment rate is especially high there (something like 75%), and the economy is only slowly recovering after so many years of civil war.  We have seen poverty before - in Mexico, in China, etc. - but he said this was definitely different.

If you think about it, please pray for peace among the staff, wisdom for the board, and wisdom for our church as we continue this partnership.  If you are hungry for more info, you can go back and read some of the day-to-day updates on our church's blog!  More pictures hopefully to come soon too!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Birthdays and Trips Gratitude: #71-90

As part of my "30 things to do before 30" list, I'm keeping a running list of everyday things I am grateful for.  It helps me be more fully aware of the daily gifts that God gives, and all the sacred moments in a normal day.  Inspired by Ann Voskamp's 1,000 gifts project and my friend Kit.

71. Glass of cold water before bed
72. Pancakes for breakfast
73. Husband home safe
74. Lingering breakfast with an old, dear friend
75. A warning instead of a ticket
76. Singing for friends who haven't heard me in a long time 
77. Meeting other songwriters
78. Middle-of-the-night rocking to sleep
79. God's hand working in all things

80. One year with her, with all the ups and downs

81. The help of moms and mother-in-laws
82. The pink smear of icing and cupcake
83. Long dinner with old friends
84. A friend's vulnerability
85. More freedom in prayer
86. Job's responses to the stripping (Job 1:21 & 2:10)
87. Husband's trip fitting him like a glove
88. Making it 10 days without him
89. A night of recording music
90. New life in the middle of my dead plant