Category Archives: Friends

Friending

Michael and I have been watching a sermon series by Pastor Craig Groeschel entitled “Friending” (you can watch it at www.lifechurch.tv/watch).  The series is about friendship, as you could probably deduce from the title.  The second and third messages really hit me hard—in a good way.  Pastor Craig claims that we may be One Friend Away (message 2) or One Community Away (message 3) from changing the course of our destiny.

 

There are three types of poverty, Pastor Craig says: material poverty, spiritual poverty, and relational poverty.  Our nation is being overcome with relational poverty.  Someone might have 500 facebook friends and 200 followers on Instagram, but the chances are, they don’t even have five close friends that they could call in the middle of the night, or who have “refrigerator rights” at their house.  We can “connect” with hundreds of people around the world, but we might not have anyone we regularly sit down with and have a deep face-to-face conversation with.  In the same way, many people can not say with confidence that they have a community of other Christians that they “do life with”—rejoicing and crying together, bonding as true family, encouraging one another in Christ, ministering to others together, etc.

 

As we have watched these messages over the past three weeks, I have been convicted and challenged.  I realized that I am relationally impoverished.  Sure, I have a lot of people that I am “friends with”—I get along well with a lot of people, and I can have surface level, and sometimes even semi-deep, conversations with dozens of people.  But I have very few people who I would say know me and I know them.  And aside from my husband and family members who I am particularly close to, I haven’t done a good job of staying in touch with the close friends that God has blessed me with over the years.  In the same way, I have experienced true community, both in the Forge at Pine Cove, at college, and with different Bible study girls and couples.  But honestly, the last time I “did life” with someone other than my family was years ago.

 

So I invite you to join me in being challenged to get out of relational poverty, and begin forming (or rekindling) close, deep, face-to-face (or phone-to-phone if they live far away) friendships.  I am going to start by contacting friends that I am removed from physically, but I can still be close with relationally.  And then I am going to pray that God will show me other friendship possibilities.  But most of all, I am going to work on becoming the kind of friend that I would want to have—reaching out to others, being transparent, encouraging them, and just being present.  One year from now, I want to be able to say that I am relationally wealthy instead of in relational poverty.

 

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

 

The Forge

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–Staci

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How are you doing relationally?  What is one thing you love about one of your closest friends?

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Happy New Year! – By M

2012 came to a close so quickly!  It was like all of a sudden we’re into 2013… a whole week into 2013!  So I realize this Happy New Years post is a tad late, but better than none at all, right?

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Since the last time I wrote on the blog we have celebrated Thanksgiving, vacationed at Disney World with my family, went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, played the part of the holy family (you know Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus) twice, vacationed in Oklahoma and spent time with family over Christmas, had both our cars die on us while traveling on vacation, experienced two snows, and now our baby boy is starting to sit up all on his own!

2012 was definitely a great year –full of change and new beginnings.  I look forward to 2013 and all that is in store for our family and seeing Josiah get bigger every day.

I hope that you and your family are well and are getting off to a great start to the year!  May you continually  experience God’s blessings.

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What is the best thing you can look back on from last year?  What do you look forward to this coming year?

Family at Disney World

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-M


A Post Of Thankfulness Part 2 – By M

Hopefully you caught part one of my Thankfulness List.  If you didn’t you can check it our by clicking HERE.

Here is the second half of my list, starting with number 16 through 30 (and as mentioned before, this is in no particular order).

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16.) Friends – I’ve had a lot come and go in my life, but I’m thankful for all the ones that have meant so much to me.  I don’t really have many anymore.  I guess that’s a part of growing up.  But for those that I do have, I am thankful.

17.) District Youth Director Meetings – Speaking of not having many friends, the UM Youth Directors in our area are beginning to meat monthly and I am really excited for the connections we’ve already made and will continue to make.  It’s so nice to be around other adults who totally get where we’re coming from 🙂

18.) Fusion – On a similar note, I’m proud to be a part of a new youth movement here in Southeast Texas that we’re calling Fusion.  A group of Youth ministers have come together, crossing denominational boundaries, to bring our students together for passionate worship with the ultimate goal of breaking down barriers and helping students into a deeper walk with God.

19.) My Guitar (acoustic) – Love my Larrivee!  It’s been a big part of my ministry for 8 years and I still love that it’s not a Taylor or a Martin 🙂   (this is a picture from a while back… you can tell cause of the hair)

20.) My Guitar (electric) – The second addition to my musical family.  I’ve had my Peavey amp for many ears because I got a killer deal on it and never had a good guitar to play through it.  It’s a big part of my ministry through music today and a big part of my contribution to Fusion.

21.) Music – You’ve probably seen some of our music posts on this blog.  I love to listen to it.  I love to play.  Music is awesome

22.) Thanksgiving – (put it at 22 cause that’s Thanksgiving day this year)  What is there to really say… family, food, fun, football!  Second or third best holiday in my opinion.

23.) Christmas Season – This would be the day after Thanksgiving also known as Black Friday.  I hope you’ve experienced the joys of Black Friday, but I digress.  I love Christmas and I love the Christmas season!  The music, the lights, the atmosphere, the weather… it’s all so perfect!  (And another vintage picture)

And now things take a bit of a material/superficial turn:

24.) My Bed – It’s warm, it’s comfy, it’s soft, I love it!

25.) iPhone/iPad/iMac – OK, so I don’t want to sound like an Apple fan boy or anything; I promise I’m not.  But I do love our computer and the iPad is just so convenient and fun.  I always thought the iPhone could be overrated, but I’ve really enjoyed my 4.  It may be 2 generations old, but it works great, it’s easy to use, and I love the apps.

26.) MyFitnessPal/RunKeeper – Speaking of apps; I’ve been really trying to work on getting in better shape and losing some weight.  RunKeeper helps me track my running and I like being able to actually gauge my progress.  MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and I started using it Labor day weekend.  As I’ve followed the daily plans and cut back on my calorie intake, I’ve lost 16 pounds in just 2 months.

27.) New dSLR camera/HD video camera – Staci is big into photography and I love doing video work.  These new cameras have been awesome for our family and documenting Josiah’s early life and our family experiences.

28.) DVD/Bluray Collection – I know, it’s nerdy.  But Staci and I never watch live TV (The few TV shows we actually keep up with we watch on Hulu), so we pride ourselves in our collection of movies and TV shows.  Superficial? yes.  Awesome?  Heck Yes!

29.) Modern Conveniences – I know this is kind of general and vague, but I was running out of space, and I’m just so glad for electricity and plumbing, and cell phones, cars, planes, etc.  It’s just nice.

30.) Upcoming Family Vacation – Family time is something I’ve always cherished and now that we live so far part it’s very hard to come by.  So it will be really special spending so much time with all the family.  I’m glad everyone wil get to spend so much with Josiah too!

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So these are a few things I am especially thankful for this season.

What are some of the things you are thankful for this year?

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– M


Josiah’s Visitors

I (Staci) started working on this back in July, and forgot to post it.  Oops–we’ll call it “Mommy Brain” since I can no longer blame it on “Pregnancy Brain.”

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We’ve been so blessed by all of the friends and family who have come to visit little Josiah.  We thought it’d be fun to do a post of all of his visitors thus far. (Now, through the first month or so…)

We have TONS of pictures of him with our immediate family, but I’ll just choose my favorite of him with each person.

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Grandparents

Vovo’ (sounds like Vaw-Vaw: Portuguese for Grandma) – Staci’s Mom

Vovo (sounds like Voe-Voe) – Staci’s Dad

Grammy – Michael’s Mom

Pops – Michael’s Dad

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Aunts & Uncles

Tia Emmy – Staci’s Sister

Aunt Mandy & Uncle Rico – Michael’s Brother & Sister-in-Law

Titio Marcos and Titia Maddie – Staci’s Brother and Sister-in-law (we don’t have a pic with just him and Maddie, but here’s all of us together)

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Cousin

Elias – Staci’s Nephew

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Other Family

Meme – Staci’s Grandma

Pawpaw – Staci’s Grandpa

Auntie B – Staci’s Cousin, Bethany

Paul & Elizabeth – Staci’s Cousin & Wife (and soon to be babies!)

A – Staci’s Cousin’s little girl

Dodo – Staci’s “uncle”

Angie – Staci’s “aunt”

Trace – Staci’s “cousin”

Kylee – Staci’s “cousin”

Aunt Laura – Staci’s Aunt

Uncle Terry – Staci’s Uncle

Missy & C – Staci’s Cousin and her daughter

Michael & Paix (Daron, Michael’s husband also came, but we forgot to get a pic…) – Staci’s family

Uncle Kenny – Staci’s Uncle

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Friends

Amy & Sherry (& Amy’s son, B – not pictured) – One of Staci’s Best Friends from HS & her mom

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Church Family

Carly & Gracie – our youth

Pastor Robert – our pastor

Gail – friend & fellow church staff


Tyler – our summer intern (and friend from OK)

Barrett – our youth

Craig – our youth

Cal – our youth

M – one of the sweet girls from church

Elizabeth – one of our friends and youth moms

Courtlyn – our youth

Carlie – our youth

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Thank you SOOO much to everyone who came and loved on our little guy.  We are so thankful for all of our friends and family (and those who weren’t able to make it to visit, also).  We love you all!

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–Staci & Michael

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2 Years Later – By M

2 years ago (just a few days back) marks when we moved from Oklahoma down to southeast Texas.  It’s funny how time has flown so much and how much can change in such a relatively short amount of time.

It’s been such a blessing to be a part of Wesley church over these past two years.  I can’t lie that there are things that we miss –being far from basically any family (especially immediate), and experience the seasons with the weather (down here it’s basically hot, not so hot, and really hot!)– but we have also loved being at our new church and new home.

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Here’s sort of a Trip down memory lane since our move (PS… Some have links to previous blog posts):

– when we first arrived, we found out on a very first day at church about the Wesley Pumpkin Patch.  It was crazy overwhelming and made for a very long day, but after two complete Pumpkin seasons and heading into our third it’s been a blast and a great part of our ministry here.  It’s also been a fun opportunity for me to make it onto our local news stations every year.  In fact, one of my most memorable moments was being interviewed by Fox news my 3rd day on the job.  I had fun with that.

– That same day we left for IKEA in Houston and bought some new furniture!  It was my first trip and now I’m hooked.

– Staci went to her first Spurs game at the AT&T Center!

– We celebrated our 2nd anniversary up in Dallas!

– We spent our 3rd Christmas together in our third house, so we had to figure out how to decorate all over again.

– Went on my first Ski Trip!

– We began searching the housing market for when our apartment lease was up.

– My brother got married in Memphis and we got to road trip it up there together which was pretty fun!

– We jumped out of a plane!!!

– We found where we wanted to build our new home and began the process!  Before we new it we were moving in!

– Built my first porch on mission trip!

– Read all the Harry Potter Books and saw all the movies… umm… maybe 3 times….

– Found lots of new good music for all seasons!

– Moved to a new house!

– Got Pregnant!  And shared our story!  And found out he was a boy!

– Celebrated another holiday as a family… the first one in our new home!

– Celebrated our 3rd anniversary together in San Antonio!

– Had countless youth activities including: Christmas Parties, Halloween Parties, Mission Trips, Summer Camps, Retreats, A trip to Sacramento, CA, Beach Trips, Pool Parties, and tons more!

– Our Baby Boy was born!

And here we are starting our 3rd Pumpkin Patch season!  We can’t believe that it’s all flown by so fast (even though sometimes it feels like it’s been a really long, long journey)!  We have been so blessed in so many ways over these past 2 years and we are very thankful!  We look forward to the coming years with our sweet son and our new family unit!

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What have you been up to these past 2 years?
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– M


Quick Update – By M

Staci and I just got back from Catalyst Dallas.  If your not familiar with Catalyst you can check it out Here. So there’s a lot to be updated on… So I’ll list some things out and we’ll probably address most of them in upcoming Blogs and such!  We just have SO much to share!

1.) Catalyst is an incredible Christian Leadership conference.  Check it out and try to go sometime.  It will blow you away!

2.) I totally pulled the star-struck card like a million times this week while at Catalyst.  Too many awesome Christian leaders and entertainers!

3.) Talked with Jon Acuff – Blogger/Writer/SCL, Carlos Whitaker – Blogger/Musician, Tyler Stanton and Tripp Crosby – Bloggers/Comedians, Craig Groeschel – Pastor/Writer, Pete Wilson – Pastor/Blogger/Writer, and many more!  That was exciting!  And it’s so awesome when you see how down to earth all these men are.

4.) Heard from some incredible Speakers

5.) Listened to awesome live music

6.) Spent some incredible awesome quality time with my wonderful wife!

7.) Another really cool part about the conference was running into some friends we expected to see, as well as some that we did not expect to see.  (Including my 5th/6th grade Sunday school teacher, and my youth group worship leader)

Ok… Now Non-Catalyst events:

1.) Saw some friends at Staci’s Forge Reunion

2.) Had some awesome friends come into town

3.) Went to the beach!  And I poked a Jellyfish! (I know… way too easily entertained)

4.) Baked a-bajillion cookies/cupcakes/brownies/and tons more in the last two weekends. I think I’ve decided to start my own cooking show!

5.) Saw our home’s foundation that was poured while we were away!  Frame goes up next week 🙂

6.) Had my first meal at a Rainforest Cafe.  A little underwhelming, but still good

7.) And I’m sure lots of other things, but I want to try to keep this at least somewhat brief!  Hope to have more up soon!

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What have you been up to these last few weeks?  Who has ever left you star-struck?

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-M


Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr…

This post is just what the title looks like:

January, February, March and April.

It’s a time for us to try to catch up and fill you all in on everything that’s been going on.  Sorry that we’ve been such the blog-neglectors.  It seems like we blinked a few times and we’ve already jumped from January to April!  But here’s a quick snapshot of what our past few months have looked like.

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January

As you all know, we spent New Year’s Eve and Day on the road after our snow skiing trip.

The next week, I got sick.  My friend Sarah came to spend the weekend with us, and she was also sick…so we got to chill out and watch movies all weekend.

Michael also tried his hand at cutting my hair–and he did a really good job!

My Meme and Pawpaw celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in January!  They are truly two of the most incredible people I know, and I’m so blessed to have them as grandparents.  They decided to make a trip down to Beaumont to visit us as part of their Anniversary celebration, and we LOVED having them here!  We played lots of games, visited, showed them our church, and just had a great time.

That next weekend, we took our students to “Hot Hearts Conference”.  There were lots of great bands and Clayton King did an excellent job speaking.  Our students really enjoyed it, and God really did a lot in their lives over the weekend.

The last weekend of January, Michael went on a Men’s Emmaus Walk.  The Walk to Emmaus is a 4 day spiritual journey.  They have them all over the world, and our church is really involved in the ministry.  Michael was able to go to one in January, and I went in February.  He had an incredible weekend, but he came home with the flu (for the first time ever).

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Febraury

February started with another Miche Bag Party.  (I’m SO thankful with how well my Miche Business is doing down here, by the way!  I’ve had multiple parties each month since the start of the year, and they’ve been a lot of fun!)

A couple of weeks later, we were able to go to Ada and visit friends and family!  It was SOO good to be back and see everyone.  Thursday, we spent some time with my Meme and Pawpaw (we stayed the whole weekend with them) and then met up with our friends from the BSU (not all pictured).  We miss them like CRAZY, but they’re coming to visit in May!

We didn’t take many pictures throughout the weekend, but we also got to spend time with my parents and little sister, my family’s best friends, my cousin and her family, and we even got to stop by and visit our youth at our old church!  We pulled up to the high school at lunch time, and kids started running out.  It almost made me cry.  It was SO good to see them!  I just have to add this next picture of my cousin’s little boy.  He’s grown a TON since we moved!  He’ll be a year old at the end of April. Look at those big brown eyes!

The next weekend, which was the last weekend of February, I went on my Emmaus Walk.  I could go on and on and on about how awesome this ministry is!  Check out their website to get information about a Walk in your area.  God did a lot in me during the weekend, and it was so incredible to see what He was doing in all of the women there.  I’m sure I’ll share more about my story in a future post.  It was great.

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March

The first weekend of March, we drove to Dallas for my Annual Miche Bag Representative Conference.  Last year was the first conference, and I had to go by myself (well, with other reps from my area) since it was on a Saturday/Sunday.  But this year was only a Saturday, so Michael got to go with me!  I’m so, so thankful for Michael helping me with all of my purse stuff.  He helps me lug my merchandise to all of the parties, set up the displays, figure out the accounting, and just support me in all of it.  I honestly couldn’t do it without my Miche Man.  🙂

The conference was great!  My favorite part (as always) was the merchandise preview.  There are some GREAT new products and shells coming out this year!  Oh–and I loved the HOPE campaign video and talk.  Miche has given over $700,000 to cancer research and treatment over the past year.  I love being able to be a part of this!

The next weekend, we were back on the road to go to my brother’s wedding!  It’s still crazy to think that he’s an old married man!  The wedding was near Sherman, TX, so we had a good 6 hour drive.  But it was definitely worth it.  A lot of my family is from out-of-town, so my mom and dad rented a ranch house on the same property as the wedding.  It was so much fun all staying in the same place.

The rehearsal went well, save my husband and father being goofs.  Here they were “looking for the bride”.

On the day of the wedding, I went over and fixed my sister’s hair and took some pics of “the girls” getting ready and then came back over and hung out at the pre-wedding family reunion.  Here I am with my handsome husband before we headed down to the gazebo.  The wind was already doing wonders on my hair.

The wedding was beautiful.  The weather was wonderful–much warmer than a typical March day, Marcos and Maddison were so happy, and it was all just really, really good.  I’m proud of my Bud and his new little wife.

My little sister, Emily, came home with us after the wedding.  She was on Spring Break, and my parents took a train trip from Washington (state) to Chicago for their 25th wedding anniversary, so she got to spend the whole week with us in Bmt!  We played games, watched movies, laid out by the pool, and went to the beach.  It was a great week!  Michael and I loved having Em here with us!

It was so windy at the beach that we had to use the car as a wind-block.  But after that, it was really nice!

The next weekend, we took a group of our youth and some parents up to Pine Cove to do a work crew weekend.  I know I’ve probably said this a million times, but going to Pine Cove is like going home for me.  It is SUCH a huge part of my life.  I just love it there.  Our group did an amazing job, and we had a great weekend.  We were at the Shores Camp, which is on the lake, and it was gorgeous.

When we picked this weekend to take our students to PC, we had no clue that my mom and sister were going to be there for a mother/daughter retreat.  When we found out, I was even more excited about the weekend.  I started going to mother/daughter retreats at PC with my mom when I was in 3rd grade, and I went until I graduated high school.  So it was extra-special to see my mom and sister throughout the weekend.

At the end of the weekend, I went back to Oklahoma to spend a few days with my family.  It was sad to leave Michael behind, but I’m so thankful I was able to spend that time with my family!  My sister had a minor surgery on Wednesday, so we wanted to have a ton of fun Monday and Tuesday before she’d be sent to bed.  We went to the movies and played games and went shopping and all kinds of stuff.  It was great!  She is SUCH a brave young lady.  I was so proud of her before, during, and after her surgery.

I flew back to Houston on Thursday, and it was SOOO good to see my husband again!  We had a nice, relaxing weekend and just enjoyed being at home for a change.

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April

On April 1, we finally got a chance to use my Christmas gift: SKYDIVING!!!  We’ll do a full-post soon, but here are a few teaser shots.  It was incredible!

After our skydiving adventure, we went to Paul (my cousin) and Liz’s house and had a great time with them (as always!).  We had a camp meeting the next morning, and then we met back up with them and helped move my cousin Bethany in.  Bethany and I have been trying to live close to each other for years and years, and we’re finally only 1.5 hrs away.

Last weekend was my birthday, and Michael planned a wonderful trip to Houston for us to celebrate.  I’ll do a whole post for it as well, but here are a few pics:

We had a great time!  We came back home Friday night and on Saturday (my actual bday), we just chilled out at the house for most of the day.  It was a fantastic bday weekend!

We were supposed to have a district-wide lock-in at our church this weekend, but it has to be postponed, so we actually have a free weekend!  And then next weekend we’re headed off to TN for Michael’s brother’s wedding, and the next weekend, we’re going back to Pine Cove for my Forge Reunion.  It’ll be busy, but good!

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So that’s pretty much what we’ve been up to for the past few months.  Whew.  I got tired just remembering it all.  🙂  Sprinkle in youth activities and school lunches and work and running and all kinds of good stuff like that, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve been a little busy!  But it’s been a good busy.  We’re so thankful to be here, and we know that God has us exactly where He wants us.  It’s a pretty common thing for one of us to say “I like our little life down here” to the other.  It’s definitely a good fit.

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Thank you SOOOO much for being so patient with us.  We love being able to write about our lives and share it with you all.  Much love!

–Staci

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Q for you:  So what have been some of the highlights of your last four months?

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December in a Nutshell

Now that December has come and gone, I guess I should finally get to posting about it.  Needless to say, it was a BUSY month!  I’m sure you can relate.  Instead of trying to go back and do an update for each individual part of December, I’m going to just write one big update with little glimpses of everything that went on in December.  As always, feel free to just look at the pictures.  🙂

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Gingerbread House Decorating

Michael and I decided to buy a gingerbread house to decorate.  I hadn’t made one in years (my Meme used to help us make them out of graham crackers and milk cartons), and Michael had never made one.  We were super excited until we started making it.  It just would NOT stay together!  We even tried blow drying it.  By the end of our decorating, it would have made Hansel and Gretel cry.  Let’s just say we’re pretty convinced that the box lies.  (We found out later that some of our friends hot glue theirs together before they decorate it.  If we ever try this again, we’ll be “borrowing” their method.)

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Road to Bethlehem

The first weekend of December, our church put on a huge event called Road to Bethlehem.  Our gym was transformed into the village of Bethlehem, around the time that Jesus was born.  We had people of all ages helping and taking part, from a four month old baby, to elderly men and women, and all ages of families and people in between.  People from all over the community were invited to come and “meet a beggar and the King on the Road to Bethlehem”.

Guests would enter our gym and find themselves in the Bethlehem marketplace, complete with weavers, brick makers, a wedding procession and feast, food stands, a beggar and a thief, and plenty more village people.  Michael and I were the inn keepers.  We all stayed in character, and the guests were able to ask questions and interact with us.  At the end of the “road”, they came to the manger scene with Baby Jesus.  I loved being able to be a part of something like this.

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Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens

The next weekend, Michael and I went to Houston to visit my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Elizabeth, again.  We had a great time!  On Friday night, we went to Moody Gardens in Galveston to see the Festival of Lights.  All four of us have been to the Festival of Lights in Chickasha, OK, which is absolutely incredible.  So we weren’t expecting a ton from this Festival.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  Even though there were some very strange displays (zoo scenes, pirates, blooming flowers, and lots and lots of ocean scenes), it was really nice!

We stayed around and hung out on Saturday, and Paul even taught Michael how to take someone’s blood pressure.  He was pretty excited.  (Paul is in med school, and you can read his story here: http://storyofawhitecoat.wordpress.com/)  It was a GREAT weekend!  We’re so thankful to have family/friends so close!

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Anniversary Trip in Dallas

For our second anniversary, I planned a trip to Dallas.  (We’ve decided to take turns planning each year and then plan our multiples of 5 together.)  I did the “name your own price” thing on Priceline, and once again I was VERY pleased.  If you’ve never tried this, try it!  You pick your destination, star rating, and price, and then you see if anyone accepts your bid.  We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Dallas for $60 (regularly around $230)!  And we stayed at the Hyatt Regency the next night for $50 (regularly over $100)!  Anyway, I love using this feature.

Since we have Fridays off, we drove up to Dallas on Thursday night and checked into our hotel.  It was really nice!

The next morning, we slept in (after waking up at sunrise), grabbed some breakfast at Panera Bread, and went to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.  The theater was empty when we got there, and only two ladies came during the movie.  It was fantastic!  We’d just finished reading the book, and we loved the movie even more than the book.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, be sure to rent it when it comes out!

We went to check in at our new hotel, and we got a free upgrade to the Deluxe King room just by asking about free upgrades!

After we dropped our stuff off, we went to downtown Grapevine to eat dinner at a local Italian place called Napoli’s.  Grapevine was decorated so nice!  I wish we’d had more time to wander around, but we were on a mission.

This was the part of the trip I was most excited about:  ICE! at the Gaylord Texan.  My cousin had told me about this, and I knew that Michael would love it.  Every year, the Gaylord Texan brings in ice sculptors from Japan to make an ice display.  They use colored ice, and some of the ice even has lights inside of it.  It was so cold inside that they issued everyone parkas!  But the ice sculptures were definitely worth it.  This year was “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which is one of Michael’s favorite movies.  It was incredible!

After we went through ICE!, we walked around the hotel and looked at all of the decorations.  It was absolutely gorgeous.

We both loved seeing ICE! and exploring the Gaylord Texan.  It had been a perfect day!

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Christmas with Mom’s Side of the Fam

The next morning, we went to my uncle’s house to have Christmas with my Mom’s side of the family.  I was so happy that it worked out for us to be there, since we didn’t think we’d be able to make it up for Christmas this year.  The adults play “Dirty Santa”, and the gifts were hilarious, as usual.  We also took a new family picture, complete with Maddison.  I loved being with my family, even for a few hours.

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Kayla and Sean’s Wedding

To complete our Dallas trip, we went to two of our close friends’ wedding.  Kayla and I have been friends since we were on the same hall our freshman year, and I think Michael and Sean have been friends since freshman year too.  Sean was one of our ushers.  Needless to say, we were SO happy for them.  The wedding was beautiful, and it was great to see some of our college friends.

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Christmas with Michael’s Mom and Sister

Michael’s mom and sister, Sarah, came to visit for a couple of days before Christmas.  Sarah lives in New York, and we hadn’t seen her since last Christmas.  We were SO happy that they were able to come visit!  We went to dinner, opened presents, and played lots of games, including the BluRay games on Beauty and the Beast (I’ve said this before, but they are so much fun!).  Even though we wished they could have stayed longer (and that Michael’s dad could have come too), it was sooo good to see them!

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Christmas Eve

Our church has three Christmas Eve services, and this year we chose to go to the 6:00 and 11:00 services.  For the 6:00 service, we sat with one of the families that we’ve gotten close to since we’ve been here.  I’m so thankful for their family!  The service was wonderful, and the candle-lighting was beautiful.  Afterwards, we went to the associate pastor’s house for tamales and chicken tortilla soup.  Yum!  We helped run sound for the 11:00 service.

When we got home from the 11:00 service, it was already Christmas (technically), so we decided to go ahead and open our gifts from each other.  We’d decided that we just wanted to do stockings from each other, and then plan something special instead of getting traditional gifts.  For my big gift/event, Michael is taking me sky diving!!  I’m SOOO excited!  It’s something on “my list” (which I plan to post sometime soon), and I can’t wait to go!  I planned a mini vacation to Destin, FL for us for this spring.  (We may or may not be taking it though, because we’ve decided to start saving for a house.)

It was fun opening our gifts and starting our “just the two of us” Christmas early.

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“Just the Two of Us” Christmas

This was our third Christmas since we’ve been married, but our first to celebrate “just the two of us”.  Even though we both missed our families a lot, there was something sweet about just being together for Christmas day.  Since we were up way past midnight, we slept in late and then had a big breakfast.  We played some games, watched a few of our new movies, did laundry (we had to pack for our ski trip), and just relaxed.  It wasn’t like any other Christmas, but it was really nice.  That evening, I made a big dinner.  We’d bought a pork tenderloin from one of our youth, and we saved it for Christmas.  I also made red skinned potatoes, green beans and carrots, bread, and my apple roll-up.  (I took some pics for recipe posts that I’ll post sometime.) It was yummy!  It turned out to be a wonderful Christmas at home!

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We left for our ski trip a couple of days later, and I’ll write about that in another post.  Thanks for catching up on the December happenings with us!

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–Staci

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Q for You:  What was your favorite thing you did in December?  Did you stay at home or visit family for Christmas?

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Catching Up: Black (and Silver) Friday

Yes, we’re those people…the ones who get up early and head to the stores for crazy Black Friday deals.  Yes, it’s early.  And yes, there are lots of people.  But it’s SOOO worth it!

Last year was my first year to ever do the whole Black Friday thing.  Michael’s family had been doing it for years, and we decided to carry on the tradition in Oklahoma last year.  We found a ton of amazing deals, and decided that we’d be doing it every year we could from then on!  Last year we had a list of lots of things we were looking for, and a big time game plan.  We were at Kohl’s before 4:00 (yes, A.M.) so we could be there when the doors opened.

This year we decided to take it a little easier since all we were looking for were clothes.  So we didn’t get to Old Navy until 5:00 (I know…so late, right?!).  Michael’s mom went with us, and we just took our time shopping around.  Literally everything in the store was on sale. We got some really great deals!

When we left Old Navy, we went to the mall.  We were going to just go to Aeropostale and JC Penny, but we saw that New York & Company was having a 60% off everything sale.  So we went to those three stores, found some amazing deals, and went back to Old Navy for a few more gifts before we went to breakfast.  Richard and Amanda were finally getting started on their shopping when we finished breakfast, so we dropped Michael’s mom off with them and then we stopped in at Bath & Body Works, picked up a pair of ski pants for Michael at Academy, and went back home to relax.

It was 12:00, and we’d already been up for 8 hours.

But we’d saved over $420  so it was WELL WORTH IT!!  I can’t get my brain to figure out the math, but I do know that we saved well over what we spent!

Look at all of our Black Friday goodies!

These pictures aren’t the best quality, but here are a few of our favorite deals of the day:

It was a GREAT day of deals!  And we had lots of fun shopping.  It was fun to have his mom with us this year.

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After we relaxed and watched a movie, it was time to put on some Black and Silver–we were going to a Spurs game!

Michael’s family has been huge Spurs fans forever.  Even though I’m not a die-hard fan (like I was when Michael Jordan played for the Bulls!), I enjoy cheering for the Spurs with Michael.  We’ve been to two Spurs vs. Thunder games in OKC, and we had a GREAT time.  But this was the first time I’ve seen a Spurs game in San Antonio.  And they were playing their biggest rivals: the Mavs!

Michael’s dad had called a while back and asked if we wanted to go the day after Thanksgiving, and of course we said yes!  All 6 of us went together, and we had such a great time!  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Sarah (Michael’s sister) could have been with us.

We got there in plenty of time to walk around, shop, take some pictures, and even shoot some hoops before the game.

The brothers and soon-to-be sisters-in-law:

Mom and Dad E

All the championship rings!

These guys were making tons of noise and getting everyone all ready for the game:

They even had shooting games set up in the “fan zone”

When it got closer to time for the game to start, we headed over to find our seats while the team warmed up.

Michael’s mom sat with Richard and Amanda above us:

And we sat with his dad on the row below:

We went to get some food during half time and ran into H-E-Buddy

It was a REALLY good game!  The Spurs lost, but it was still a really exciting game.  We had to take our traditional “We won/lost picture”.

We had a great time!  It was so much fun to be there with Michael’s family!!

After the game, we went to Freddy’s Frozen Custard (YUM!) and headed home.

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It had been SUCH a great trip to San Antonio!  I’m so thankful we were able to spend Thanksgiving with Michael’s family this year.

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Do you shop on Black Friday?  Have you ever been to a NBA game?  Who is “your team”?

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–Staci

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Catching Up: Cousin and HP Weekend

I’m so behind on blogging — sooo sorry!  I’m home today since I’ve been working lots of crazy hours, and I want to try to get all caught up on the blog.  Sorry in advance for them all coming at once, but I know this is the only way I’ll get caught up.  🙂

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First of all, we went to Houston to visit my cousin, Paul, and his wife, Liz two weekends ago.  They helped us move in, but this was the first time that we were able to meet up after that.

Since we have Fridays off (we work on Sundays), we were able to relax and sleep in and then head over to Houston that afternoon.  Liz was leaving work when we arrived, so we visited with Paul until she came home.  And then we were given the grand tour!  Their house is adorable.  I should have taken pictures.  They live in a cute townhome, and everything is decorated so cute.  They also had all of the fall decorations out.

After we visited for a long time and ate dinner, we were ready to go to The Painted Potter to make Christmas Ornaments — or so we thought.  Liz realized that she left her wallet at work, so we made a quick detour to her school.  I’m glad it turned out this way because we were able to see her classroom!

I was really excited about going to the potter painting place because I hadn’t been to one since I was in elementary school (we made my dad father’s day gifts there one year).  Michael had never been and he kept telling people he was going to pottery class.  Hehe.  Friday and Saturday nights are “Date Night” and they give you a discount on the fire and paint fee.

It was such a cute place!  I could have spent hours and hours looking at all of the different options.  We knew we wanted to make ornaments, but even then there were so many to choose from!  Michael ended up picking a reindeer and I picked a snowman.

Next, we picked our glazes/paints.  There were SO many to choose from!  Then it was time to get busy painting.  You can get a glimpse of how many different colors there were to choose from in this picture:

We were all concentrating so hard!

The 3-D ornaments were harder than they look!  There were so many little details.  Paul and Liz made OSU orange & black snowmen.

Michael painted his reindeer brown (obviously) and my snowman had purple, blue, and green snow clothes. (By the way, they look completely different after they’ve been fired.)

We had such a great time!  It was so nice to be able to just sit and talk and be creative at the same time.  It’s been a long time since I’d done any artsy stuff (besides graphic design stuff, but I don’t count that), and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.  We knew we’d definitely be back!  (It took 6 days to get everything fired, by the way.  I haven’t taken a picture of the finished products yet, so I’ll add that in a later post.)

When we got back to Paul and Liz’s house, it was time to eat some snacks and play some games!  They’d told us that the games on the “Beauty and the Beast” blu-ray were SO much fun, so we decided to play them first.

The first game we played was a character guessing game.  We each used our phones to call in and get a character.

Then we used them to answer “yes” or “no” questions about our character and vote on who we think other players were.  It’s so crazy how interactive these games can be now!

After we played a couple of rounds of that (it was SO much fun, by the way!), we played the other game.  This one was incredible!  It’s like an interactive “Clue” type game.  Our mission is to find Belle’s missing friends.  You choose a room to visit and then pick a hiding place to uncover.  You could find a character, the Beast, a magic mirror, Gaston, or nothing at all.  In order to be able to look, you have to answer a trivia question right.  Most of them had something to do with a song from the movie.  Some of them were really hard!  We had a ton of fun playing!  If you have (or can rent) the “Beauty and the Beast” on blu-ray, I highly recommend playing the games!  Michael ended up winning the second game.   I was Player 2 — the one with no friends found.

Oh–and their dog, Dasher, was helping us play.

After that, we played Scategories (I think Liz won) and then sat around and talked until 2 a.m.!  It was SO good to be able to just talk.  We’ve missed having a married couple our age to hang out with.  And what makes it better is that they’re family too.  My brother and I have always been really close with Paul and his sister, Bethany.  I’m thankful that we live so close to Paul and Liz now.  Especially since all 4 of us are so far away from our families.  We had a GREAT time, and we’re excited to go back next week to go look at lights and go ice skating!

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The next morning, we slept in, had some breakfast, and then headed back to Beaumont so we could take the youth to see Part 1 of “Harry Potter 7“.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Michael and I watched all of the movies this summer (I’d only seen the first 3) and then I decided that I wanted to re-read the first 4 books and read 5-7 for the first time.  I made it my goal to have at least 1/2 of 7 read by the time the new movie came out.

Well, I made it!  I had a couple of chapters left in book 7, but I finished it that night after the movie.  So that means I’ve read 4,100 pages of Harry Potter in 3 months!!  And it was well-worth all 4,100 pages.  JK Rowling is a very gifted author, and I really, really enjoyed reading these books.  It’s funny how books mean so much more to me when I read them now.  There have been quite a few books that I’ve gone back and read over the past year or so and I think I can just appreciate them more now.

Anyway, all that to say I was really excited about HP7!  Michael was excited too.  We got there super early because we thought it was going to be really busy (we’d purchased the tickets early), but it wasn’t at all.  We were the second people in line, and we ended up having tons of time to kill.  We wasted time taking pictures and playing cards.

The movie was really good!!  We all really, really enjoyed it!  It wasn’t as good as the book, but they rarely are.  I wish they didn’t leave some things out, and they changed some things that I don’t think they should have changed, but other than that it was GREAT!  It just stinks that part 2 doesn’t come out until the summer.

It was a fantastic weekend!

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Now I just have to catch up on some more happenings….

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Have you ever painted at a pottery place?  And did you see HP7?

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