Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wild and Crazy!

This morning I looked at the calendar and is December 8th already? Has it really been a whole month since I last blogged? Sadly, it has. I think it's this time of year, combined with the truth that life is busier this year than it ever has been before. I spent 2 weeks of November battling a hideous illness. My immune system, compromised by a great deal of stress--financial and familial--couldn't cope. When Matt got a few cold sores, my body picked up the herpes virus and couldn't fight. I wound up getting 50+ canker sores in my mouth, and hundreds down my throat. Add in a high fever for a week and joint pain, and I was pretty much miserable. Two weeks of my life down the toilet. Two weeks of a painful reminder not to take good health for granted. Two weeks to get a taste of what so many people deal with constantly. Two weeks to grow in empathy for those with chronic illnesses. But man, was I glad when the fever broke and the last canker sore melted away. 

Pretty much all of the rest of my time has been filled with getting ready for Christmas. In a year of limited resources, I have had to get creative with my gifts. And wow, have I had fun! I have spent many delightful hours figuring out digital scrapbooking, and I think I pretty much have it mastered. Having a family room upstairs has made it possible for me to leave my sewing machine set up all the time. Great pattern and fabric sales at the fabric store have kept me busy sewing doll clothes for Snapper's dolls. There's another great story that goes along with this, but it will keep for another post. Between sewing and scrapbooking and the continued editing work I am doing on my sis-in-law's wedding pics, I have been really busy. Oh yeah, and I can't forget that since we're not at FamilyLife anymore, I no longer have a mail room that will take care of our ministry mailings for us. Lots of hours spent sending newsletters, too. 

There have been some wonderful highlights in the middle of the crazy life, too. First, we got to spend Thanksgiving with the Bright family. Bill and Vonette Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951, and they are some of the people I most greatly respect and admire. Bill passed away several years ago, but Vonette is still living, is a most gracious, beautiful lady. On Thanksgiving, we sat around the dinner table for hours, and had the privilege of hearing her stories firsthand. She is so dear. Snapper especially loved her, and spent part of the evening cuddled up with her on the couch, discussing dolls, little brothers, and friends.

The other great highlight was made possible by my new friend Michal, who has a coupon blog for people in Florida. She did a giveaway on her blog last week and I won. The fabulous prize: 4 tickets to Disney's Magic Kingdom for the filming of their holiday parade! I took the kids out of school for a day last week, and we had a magical time at Disney! Watch Disney's holiday parade on ABC on Christmas Day. Snapper and Pepper will be on it! Look in the audience during the segment where Debby Ryan from "The Suite Life on Deck" sings "Deck The Halls." We were right on the curb, and the cameras parked in front of my kids for a good portion of the filming! Disney also loaned us a flip cam to use to record our family's personal parade experience. They may use some of our footage from that, too! Yay!

Okay. I think that's a pretty good update. More later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flora Christine

Let me introduce you to my Granny. Her name is Flora.

She has always been a Most Important Person in my life. In fact, she is the reason I am in this family. As you may recall, I am adopted. Someday I'll have to share my whole story. But to set up my walk down Memory Lane, I need to tell Granny's part of the story.

My parents were married in 1972. For several years they tried to have a baby, but due to unchangeable circumstances, they were unable to conceive. Granny and Grandpa knew this, and they mourned along with my parents. Grandpa was a country doctor, and as such, he had many friends in the medical field. In the summer of 1979, Grandpa took Granny with him to a party hosted by a fellow doctor. At that party, Granny met a prominent OBGYN, and God put it in her heart to ask him if he ever had babies available for adoption in his practice. He did. He had one young mother right then who had not yet decided on a family for her baby. Granny gave that doctor my parents' contact information. Knowing that my grandparents were well-respected, quality people, he recommended my parents to my birthmom. After reviewing several portfolios of potential adoptive parents, she chose my parents.

I think I have always been extra special to Granny because she feels responsible bringing me to our family. I have so many memories of time spent with her through my growing up years. Picnics in the patio under her kitchen window. Sleepovers in the back bedroom that had belonged to my mom. Malt-O Meal for breakfast at her house. (She always let me load it with sugar if I wanted to). Christmas Eve, rich with tradition, at Granny's house. Easter egg hunts in their beautiful yard. A 2 1/2 week cruise with Granny and Grandpa when I was 11. Feeding the stray cats that lived under Granny's deck. Grilled cheese sandwiches and split pea soup. Reading for hours together on the couch in the breakfast room. Eating all the carrots out of Granny's backyard garden. Memorizing Scripture together. Granny's presence at every musical, every awards ceremony, every sporting event. Her red plaid skirt and scarf on Christmas Day. Long walks in the Japanese garden next door to her house. Boxes of stale chocolate. Beautiful, homemade Christmas and birthday gifts. Homemade lingerie at my bridal shower (peach polyester with lime green lace, and a "made with love by Granny" tag sewn in the neck). I could go on, and on, and on.

But the sweetest of my memories are of Granny teaching me how to sew. Granny tends to be a hoarder, and she has never been even remotely organized. Her sewing room was so cluttered crowded that I could hardly walk in it. But out of that sewing room came wonderful creations. Every Christmas Granny made me a new nightgown. Snapper wore one of those nightgowns to bed last night, in fact. Several years she made my Christmas dress as well. When I was 9 I was into roller skating, and every time I had the opportunity, I visited the skate shop to drool over the beautiful skating dresses. Granny made me a skating skirt, royal blue, and way too long. She insisted on sewing bike shorts into the dress because she thought anything else was improper. And then she taught me to sew. My first project was a doll dress. If I close my eyes, I can go back to the sewing room. I am seated at Granny's Pfaff machine, looking out the warped window at the spectacular view of the Silicon Valley in California. Granny's home was on a hilltop in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I can still hear the snip of scissors, the crinkle of the pattern, and her sweet voice issuing me instructions. I can see her capable hands demonstrating how to thread the machine, how to make a dart, how to turn a square corner. These times together were just for us. I don't know if she taught any of my cousins to sew or not, but she taught me. I have retained the skill and the memories that come along with it are crystal clear.

When I broke out my sewing machine to make Snapper's Halloween costume, I was immediately flooded with thoughts of Granny. She is turning 93 in just a few weeks, and she lives in a lovely retirement center in her hometown. She has grown frail, and is plagued by Parkinson's Disease. But her love for me is unchanged. Whenever we go to California, I spend a day with her. Her eyes are all for me, and even when she has nothing to say, she watches me, radiating love. She adores my children, and is especially thrilled that my son bears Grandpa's name. This month as I work on other sewing projects, I am thankful for my Granny, for her role in shaping me. Mostly though, I am thankful for her love.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catching Up

Dear Blog,

Oh, how I have missed you.
Wait...that's not true. I have been too busy to miss you. Busy with unpacking. Busy with photo edits from 5 photo shoots and a wedding. Busy playing with my precious niece who came with her mommy to visit us for a week. Busy with swim meets, where my fabulous fish daughter has been swimmer quite splendidly. Busy with sewing a Halloween costume for Snapper. Busy with the annual scrapbook I send to my step-mom for Christmas, the scrapbook that must be ordered this week. Busy with the business of getting well from this atrocious bout I've had with oral herpes. But now the company, the edits, the cleaning, the unpacking, the sewing, all are behind me. Now I just have to focus on getting well again. For the record, 50+ canker sores in the mouth and hundreds down the throat: B-A-D. Fever and body pain: B-A-D too. Fatigue: Also B-A-D. I think I am on the mend, but the doctor says it will likely be 2 more weeks before I'm back to normal. Ugh. On the bright side, when you aren't able to eat anything that has any flavor or texture, or that involves chewing, you are bound to lose weight. Adios, 6 pounds!

Here's a photo of my adorable daughter in her adorable Laura Ingalls Wilder dress that I made for her. Yes peeps, I am quite proud of myself. I broke out my sewing machine for the first time in 5 years and made this dress. I had so much fun doing it that I think I will make her a Christmas dress, too.

And here is a photo of that adorable niece with Snapper. Geez, she is so super cute! I am so attached to her.

After Christmas I will post some of my scrapbook pages. Until Christmas, they are top secret. Especially since I know my lovely step-mom reads my blog. No spoilers, Nancy!

But during my absence from bloggyland, I have been inspired, and you'll be hearing more from me in the near future. It is nice to be back.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wedding Photos

Little Rock Portrait Favorites

Baby Ashten's 1-year portraits. 

Brand new Grace Elizabeth 

The BFF's family

What A Ride!

October 1st was a long time ago. That was when I last posted here. So much has happened in the last 3 weeks. Probably the best way to sum it up is in bullets.

  • October 1st. I finally arrived in Little Rock, 24 hours late.
  • October 1st-3rd. I had a great 3 days at the FamilyLife women's retreat, where I spent time with friends, soaked in words from God, cried some, and was greatly refreshed, both spiritually and emotionally.
  • October 3rd-6th. Spent another 3 days with my BFF Karon. We talked a lot. Good, good times.
  • Did 2 photos shoots for friends.
  • Spent lots of time with my MIL running errands for my sis-in-law Debbie's wedding.
  • October 6th. Matt, his sister Suzie, our niece, and the kiddos drove up from Orlando, pulling a 6x12 trailer to pick up the last of our stuff from storage. In between Memphis and Little Rock, he hit debris in the road.
  • Our car spent our whole visit in the shop getting $1500 of repairs. Insurance paid for a rental for us.
  • The wedding was October 10th. On the 8th, I learned that Debbie was planning on having me do her flowers. So I went shopping for flowers and arranged them.
  • On October 9th I did a photo shoot of Debbie in her wedding dress. SO MUCH FUN!
  • That night was the wedding rehearsal and a surprise bridal shower for Debbie.
  • The wedding was beautiful. It was my first time as a wedding photographer, it was Matt's first time as a caterer, and it went really well. Debbie was a gorgeous bride, and the wedding was a lovely, intimate affair.
  • October 11th. Time to go home...or not. The insurance company had forgotten to send payment to the shop, so the shop would not release our car.
  • October 12th. Still no payment. I had the privilege of doing photos of a 5-day-old baby. Little Grace Elizabeth is so precious!
  • October 13th. We finally got the check in the mail. But it was made out to us, not to the shop. Our bank does a 7-day hold on any check over $200. We took it to the bank, explained our situation, and the branch manager made an exception for us and cashed the check.
  • Matt went to hitch the loaded trailer to our van, but discovered the trailer was riding too low.
  • October 14th. We spent most of our gas money on new shocks for our van. Then we unloaded and reloaded the trailer to balance it better. We finally got on the road at 12:30 p.m.
  • On the interstate just west of Memphis, the trailer blew a tire. It took 4 hours to get a new tire and put it on the trailer. At this point we realized we weren't going to make it to our friend's house in Atlanta that night. We were down to $50 with no place to stay and 900 miles home.
  • We sent out an email to a few of our friends and supporters asking for prayer and for God's provision. Within 10 minutes of sending that email, we had received word from 3 different individuals that they wanted to help. One used frequent traveler points to put us up in a hotel for free. Two others wired us enough money not only to get home, but also to pay the buy groceries and pay 2 bills that were waiting for us at home.
  • October 15th. We pulled into our driveway right around midnight. 
I learned some things on this trip. Some were new discoveries; some were much-needed reminders.

First and foremost is that God's ways are not our ways, but God's ways are best. God knows what we need, and when we need it. He will go to whatever extremes He deems necessary to give us what we need. He knew that my heart needed a few extra days in Little Rock. He also knew that my heart needed the difficulties we faced in getting home. I have had a really tough time adjusting to Orlando. The extra days in Little Rock gave me time to see a few friends and to do a few things that I really wanted to do. The struggle to get home showed me how much I missed home, and made our arrival at home very sweet.

God knew that Matt and I needed to be reminded that we must be fully dependent on Him, and that He will provide for our family when there is nothing we can do. We have been raising support for our ministry full-time for 6 months now, and we are getting rather weary of it. Seeing God's amazing, swift response to our desperate situation reminded us that God is in control of the timing for our support-raising. He will provide if we are obedient to ask for others to join our team. We have renewed vigor for this task, and we are praying He will bring the balance of our funding in quickly.

We also learned that our response to trials can have a big impact on other people. Matt's sister Suzie was with us through all of this drama. She was a helpless participant in the car trouble, the insurance issues, the financial woes, and the frustration of delayed travel. But she also got to watch us react, to hear us pray, and to see God come charging in to our rescue in immediate response to our prayers.  She needed too see that as much as we did. 

So, my friends, I have recovered from the trip and I am once again in the frame of mind to write. I am ready to take another swing at making Orlando our Home. And I am ready to get back to support raising so we can get going with the awesome ministry that is waiting for us.

Friday, October 1, 2010


 sorry about punctuation. my shift key on my phone keypad isnt working.

one canceled flight
one missed connection
three ridiculously overpriced airport meals
ten hours in the atlanta airport
one hour on the phone with customer service
one upgrade to first class
free wine and chocolat
one extra layover in memphis
another canceled flight
eight hours in a memphis hotel
one blessedly short flight sharing half of my seat with a feverish, coughing, fat man
twenty four hours late
one big hug from the bff
one very happy me, safe and sound in home sweet little rock.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Don't is only temporary! Tomorrow I am flying to Little Rock! I will be gone for 12 days. Here is what is on my agenda.

  • Spend lots of time with my Arkansas BFF, Karon
  • FamilyLife staff wives' retreat. I'm not on staff anymore, but they are letting me come. I can't wait to spend a few days with some of my favorite ladies!
  • Eat at Larry's Pizza, my favorite restaurant in Little Rock
  • Do Ashten's 1st birthday photo shoot. I have done photos of him at newborn, 3 months old, and 6 months old.

3 months

6 months

  • Take my dear friend Stephanie out for frozen custard at Shake's, my favorite dessert place in Little Rock.
  • Go to Thursday morning Bible study at our church. I was in Bible study with the same core group of ladies for 4 years, and oh, how I miss my Thursday girls!
  • Enjoy weather that is less than 75 degrees, which is the lowest temp I have felt in 8 weeks.
  • Help my sis-in-law get ready for her wedding.
  • Take Snapper and Pepper for annual check-ups. We're also having Snapper evaluated for ADHD. Her inability to focus, complete a task, follow directions, remember where she has put stuff, etc. is getting worse, and is starting to affect her at school. We've been waiting since she was 3 to see if she will outgrow it, and she is not outgrowing it. It is time to find out what is going on.
  • Take Snapper to a swim practice with her old team. She is beside herself with excitement!
  • Spend time with a few other friends
  • Work on raising support
  • Play chauffeur to the various family members who are flying in for the wedding
  • Photograph the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Photograph the wedding--my first wedding on my own. My dad did wedding photography when I was growing up, and I often was his assistant when I was in high school. I am both excited and nervous. Here is the collage photo they sent out in their invitations. Photo credit goes to me. =)

  • Drive home to Orlando
Yup! It's gonna be a great trip. I won't have internet access other than on my phone, so I doubt I'll be blogging while I'm gone. I'm sure I'll have lots to talk about when I get back. So for now, fare thee well, my friends!