Tuesday, April 8, 2014

how i ended up at hope spoken

last spring i heard about this conference called Hope Spoken. i have been following Danielle's blog for several years so i read about it when it was first announced. i knew i wanted to go, but i also immediately thought about the baby that would be here (i was pregnant at the time) and the money it would cost and all the hurdles i felt like i had to jump to get away for a weekend. a couple days later, my sister sent me a text saying she was going and was buying her ticket. she has always been better about making things happen when she really wants something. i've always been more likely to just think about the reasons i can't or shouldn't do something i really want and then just decide to not do it.

anyway, so flash forward a year and my sister and i have made plans to drive to dallas together the weekend of the conference. gregg took that friday off work so he could stay with the kids.  i still didn't have a ticket and was planning to just hang out in the hotel room, enjoy some peace and quiet and meet up with a friend who lives in dallas. my sister really, really wanted me to go to HopeSpoken though, so when she headed over Friday evening she said she was going to see if any tickets were available to purchase at the last minute. i highly doubted any would be and i doubted even more that i'd have the cash to buy it anyway. so, i ordered a pizza and settled into bed watching a house hunter's marathon while eating dinner. i mean, it wasn't that bad of a way to spend a friday night in my book.

a couple hours later i get this text from Brittany, "come over!! free!! come now!!" um, what? i believe that was my actually reply. so, i put my pizza way, put my shoes on and walked across the street. i had no idea what i was walking into really. all i knew was that few of the bloggers i had followed for years would be there but i had no clue who was speaking, singing, leading worship or anything at all really. as soon as i walked in, i saw Danielle sitting at the registration table. she told me that someone had donated their ticket when they couldn't come at the last minute as way to bless someone. she said they meant to put it on social media but in the chaos of everything it slipped their mind so it was free for me to have. i mean, really?? i think i almost cried and i pretty sure Brittany actually did cry. Danielle then handed me this adorable bag full of goodies and off i went into a room of beautiful women, tissue paper pom-poms and the most incredible cake pops i have ever tasted. like, really..these cake pops. thank God i can't get them in Austin.

(sidenote: let me just say this right now, i didn't get to talk to Danielle much but i didn't have to to see that she is the kindest, sweetest and most sincere person. it was so refreshing to see that.)

Danielle spoke about God's faithfulness when we say"yes" when He speaks to us, even in the scary and unknown moments.

Jenny Simmons led worship Saturday evening and I was blown away by her genuine heart and the story of God's work in her life and through her ministry.

like i said, i had no idea what the weekend would hold but every session was such a wonderful surprise. every woman who spoke did so from a place of true conviction and realness that was so refreshing and encouraging. people were genuine and ready to open up and say some of the hard things that are so easy to shy away from.

shauna neiquist spoke about "more love, less hustle"

the sweet girls brittany and i shared a room with for the weekend.

it takes me awhile to process things. i don't always realize that i am learning something or seeing something new right as soon as i hear it or experience it. it's when i find myself revisiting moments, words spoken, songs sung, pages read that i finally start to get that God is speaking is to me, changing me. so when i headed home sunday afternoon i thought about what a nice surprise the weekend was, how fun it was spend time with my sister and do something i wasn't planning to do. i thought about how i saw so many women being changed, challenged, and encouraged over the past couple of days. i thought about how cool it was to meet some of the bloggers i've been following for years and see their hearts for God as genuine and real as their words on the screen portray them to be. but, to be honest, i didn't really feel like i had walked away with a new challenge for myself. does that make sense?

i drove the four hours home with Oceans and Lord of Lords by Hillsong on repeat (both songs i heard for the first time at hopespoken that am now beyond obsessed with. seriously, my kids keep saying.."mom! we just listened to this song. not this again!") i thought over my time there as the next few days went on and i sunk back into mom-life and i realized that i couldn't quite shake this feeling that i had. this feeling that maybe God has something to say to me and maybe He has something for me to say. i've sorta lost myself into motherhood over the last 4.5 years. i've lost sight of the things that interest me, bring me joy, break my heart and make me who i am. as i mentioned, it takes me awhile to process things and sort through my feelings and, honestly, there just isn't much time or energy for that sort of thing with the legitimate constant needs of three little people at my feet every day and every night. i think what happened that weekend (because it's still in process-i wasn't lying-it takes awhile..) is that God used these women who shared their hearts from such real and raw places, to stir something in me. to remind me of the things He designed me to be passionate about it. the strengths He gave me to be used by Him that i had decided didn't exist anymore. He reminded me that I can be and do something in addition to being a mom to three small children and a wife. i have such a hard time seeing past what's right in front me, requesting my presence and energy the loudest, that i needed something like that weekend to help me see better. God knew that and He used the generosity of a kind stranger to make sure I heard.

for that, i am grateful.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

how we met.

in two weeks Gregg and I will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. it's hard to believe this time 8 years ago we had just spent a weekend together in Austin, meeting in person for the first time. i don't know that i've written out our story so i thought i would take the time to do that this year.

it's a long one..so

in december of 2004 i graduated from Texas A&M and started looking for my first post-college job. i had a BS in Sociology so it wasn't one of those degrees that guarantees you a job right out of school. i ended up moving back to Brenham and working at the restaurant i had worked at off and on throughout college. after a few weeks of living at home with my parents, i moved into an apartment with a friend in brenham and spent a lot of my non-working time online looking for jobs. i also spent a lot of time reading blogs. back then, blogging wasn't it's own industry like it is now. it was just people writing about the randomness of their lives and days and i loved it. i was skimming through blogs and looking through blog "groups" when i found one that was Christian themed in some way so i clicked on it. the next page had all these little profile pictures of it's "members" with a few sentences about the person's blog. i remember clicking through a few pages and for some reason Gregg's picture caught my eye. i can still picture it my head, a tiny tiny little picture of him in a blue polo. i clicked over to his blog and started reading and immediately thought to myself how similar we seemed. i noticed that he lived in florida though so i didn't really think much of it but i did continue to go back to his blog and read it daily. this went on for ONE YEAR. yes, i blog stalked him for a year before he knew i even existed.

flash forward one year and i'm living in austin now. i had moved in june of 2005 for a job and was living on my own. i loved austin and i loved living by myself but i was struggling with feeling lonely and so, so broke. i had just stopped dating a guy from work and was still hanging on to some confusion and hurt from a college relationship. all this time i had kept reading Gregg's blog and thinking about how we seemed so much alike. one day he had a song playing on the background (it was dennison witmer 24 turned 25) so i decided to leave him a comment asking about the song. the next thing i knew he had responded on my (super interesting..) blog and our back and forth conversation continued with paragraph long comments for a few days. i remember getting so excited every time i logged in and saw another response from him. now, this was in January of 2006 and AOL instant message was still the way to communicate online, so naturally we moved to that. we spent hours talking on AOL for a few days before he asked for my number. i'll admit i was a little hesitant at first, talking to guys online wasn't really normal for me but something inside me just knew it was okay. the first time gregg called me, i looked at the ringing phone for a few seconds wondering what in the world i was doing, but then i answered it. as soon as he said hello all the power in my apartment went out. i am not making that up, literally, as soon as i heard his voice, the lights in my apartment went out. i did panic for just a second thinking maybe the two were related and he had tracked me down and was about to break in or something..but then i realized it was just random timing and we talked for hours that night....and the next night. we also emailed long emails all throughout the day to one another. this went went on for about a month before he asked to come visit. again, i was hesitant at first but just knew it was good. i did not want to tell my parents because what parent is cool with a random internet guy coming to visit their daughter?? no parent. but gregg insisted that i tell them and my friends so it was some sketchy, secret thing. so i told my mom and she made me promise to take a friend with me to pick him up from the airport. my lucky friend samantha volunteered/was coerced into risking her life and coming along with me.

these are pictures of samantha and i on the car ride to pick up gregg for the first time. we were practicing our scared faces but i was too excited to look scared...
i knew before we even met in person that i was going to marry him but was just not ready to go there yet in my mind. the night before he flew in, i sat on the floor of my apartment and cried and cried. i was scared of moving forward and letting go of the past and i knew that is what was coming.

i'll never forget gregg coming down that escalator. he was wearing khakis, a blue and white striped GAP polo and some sort of brown loather boat shoe type things- a look i have not seen him recreate yet in the years since we met. ha. there was flight drama with him getting here (another long story i will skip..) so he didn't get in until 10pm. we picked him up and immediately went to kerbey lane for pancakes.

that first dinner at kerbey lane 

i remember just wanting to be close to him on that car ride and it taking a lot of self control to not grab his hand. after a few days of hanging out, it was obvious he was serious and knew the same thing i knew-this was "it". again, it scared me to no end so i wasn't ready to verbalize it yet.

a few months went by and a few more back and forth visits were made before he ended up moving to austin for the summer. he found some roommates through my church and lived in a ridiculous hot and cheap attic apartment by the UT campus from may until the end of august. at the end of the summer he had to go back to florida to finish college (we are the same age...he just took his time in college) and i knew i was going to go too. i was antsy at my job and liked the idea of moving somewhere new. i ended up loading whatever belongings i could fit into his 2 door ford explorer and making the move with him. i rented a house 2 blocks from the ocean with a couple of girls and we got engaged in Savannah, GA the week after we got back to florida. 6 months later we got married-almost exactly a year from the time we first met at the austin aiport.

seven years and three kids later, i forget that our story is unique and so sweet. i never thought i'd get engaged 6 months into a relationship and i NEVER would have guess i would meet my husband online in such a random way. of course, i don't really believe it was "random" but rather God using the internet to bring us together. i'm thankful for our story and it's craziness. and, more than ever, i am thankful for Gregg and the way he has always pursued me and made me a priority. it's a blessing and gift to live this life with him.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

abbey lately

oh abbey, i am convinced she truly believes she is the 3rd parent in this house. she is SUCH a good big sister. sure, she fights with tucker and gets him in trouble at times. in general though she is patient, loving and looks out for him. she is always explaining things to him and he goes to her with questions almost as much as he does to gregg and i. if i'm busy and he feels needy, he asks abbey to hold him and she always does. if he is crying, she'll go track down his blanket and offer to hold him (unless of course she is the reason he is crying..). she loves him and it's obvious. she does try to discipline him from time to time too, which is pretty funny. the other day she told to him sit in a chair and watch her do a workout dvd with me but then assured him that " it's okay, you're not in trouble. you're not in time out, i just want you to watch me."

 she also takes her role as a big sister to eisley VERY seriously. if eisley is playing and starts to get fussy, abbey immediately runs to her and tries to entertain her. she talks to her in that baby talk voice adults so often use, "oh, eisley, you don't have any toys! let's get you some toys!" and so on. she picks her up when she falls over, she pulls her around the backyard in the wagon over and over again and just generally adores her. she tells me so often that "we should have had this baby all along instead of keeping her in my belly so long" ha.

she has the crazy, out of control, fine curly hair that never stays in any ponytail or clip i put in. she pushes her cute purple glasses up on top of her head when she is tired. she talks A LOT. she has started to appreciate hugs more often. she sleeps with her strawberry shortcake and ladybug girl book under her pillow and reads them every night after i leave her room and before she lays down. she talks about God more frequently lately. the other week i heard her explaining to tucker how God lives in us, and that we can't see him but that's okay because we can feel him. yesterday she lied to me and gregg about something and when i disciplined her for it i told her that the Bible says lying is a sin and that we don't want to sin because that makes us far from God and we want to be near him always. the next day she came and asked me why we don't want to be far from God and today i heard her explaining it all to tucker again.

she is growing up so much. she is understanding more, have more in depth conversations, asking hard questions and stealing my heart a little more everyday. i love her so much it hurts.

a good weekend

we have had some insanely nice weather lately and i have been loving it. i feel like we don't usually get much of a spring before summer takes over so if it wants to show up in spurts in february i'm all for it.

this past weekend was just a really good, simple weekend. we aren't busy people so we rarely have hectic, planned filled weekends but they still tend to be more draining than relaxing. i think it's because we end up spending most of our time at home and after awhile the kids just do not handle that well and it brings us all down. but something was different about this weekend (probably insanely good weather) and it was just good being at home. we spent all day saturday outside, grilled out and even had dinner outside. it was one of those nights where the pile of dirty dishes in the sink felt so worth it. gregg ended the night for our kids by turning on pandora and the deck lights and having a "dance party". they loved it-even eisley. once they were in bed, a friend came over to hang out while they slept and gregg and i went to hang out with some new friends. it was fun to spend time getting to know new people without our kids along. it doesn't happen often that we get to go out, much less go out and be around other people!

sometimes, you just need a really good weekend and i'm thankful we had one.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

some things...

  • i recently joined some on-line garage sales on facebook for our neighborhood and have started selling random things around the house, kid's clothes/shoes, old stroller, unused curtains, etc. it's sorta addicting. now i'm walking around my house all the time hunting for things i could sell. it's funny what people will buy.
  • last week i got a stomach bug (or maybe food poisoning) and ended up being in bed from 9am tuesday until 7am wednesday. i slept that entire time with the exception of trips to the bathroom for sickness sake. it was miserable but the funny thing is, i woke up wednesday still feeling sick but also feeling the most rested i have in years. 
  • i don't make new year's resolutions (as previously mentioned) but if i did some of my superficial ones for this year would be:
    • choose jeans over leggings more often. jeans are not my thing, i find them uncomfortable even when they fit well but they do look a little better every now and then over leggings. sadly.
    • buy new brown boot.
    • try to brush my kid's teeth more regularly. i fear their dentist appointments.
    • make dentist appointment for kids 
    • attempt to style my hair at least once a week