Category Archives: Moving

Into the Unknown

This morning in Sunday School, we talked about the Prophet Jeremiah (chapters 42-43).  Israel asked him to seek God’s will for their lives as their enemies were coming.  What God told them was completely illogical, and went against what they thought they wanted to do.  We also talked about other examples in the Bible where God asked his people to do crazy things—Noah and the ark, Abraham leaving his country to follow God to an unknown place, Jesus asking us to love our enemies, and on and on.  As the students were reminded, there will be times that God asks us to step out in faith and do something that goes against what the world says is logical.  And when that time comes, if we choose to follow Him, he has something better planned for our futures than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

 

We are at that place in our lives.  We absolutely LOVE our students, youth parents/families, church staff, and Wesley.  However, we have felt God calling us to something new, and we know that when God leads us, we must follow.

 

Words cannot describe the heaviness in our hearts as we deliver this news.  We will miss so many people, and we thank God for the time that He has given us together.  If we only focused on the leaving part, we wouldn’t be able to make it.  But we know that God has a bigger plan and purpose than any of us could imagine.  He has a plan for our family, and He has a plan for the Wesley Youth and their families.  Since He is calling us to begin a new chapter, we also believe that He is already preparing someone to come and love the students and minister to all of the youth families.

 

We would also like to give some insight into this decision.  As most of you know, Staci’s family is in Oklahoma, and Michael’s family is in San Antonio.  This means we are almost 9 hours from Staci’s family, and 5 from Michael’s.  As Josiah has gotten older, it has been difficult being so far away.  It is our desire for him to grow up closer to his grandparents and other family.  As we began to feel God drawing us to a new stage, we felt Him leading us towards the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  This will be a great central location between our families (3-4 hours for each).  Staci also has a lot of family in Dallas, including her grandpa who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Many of you also know that we went to school in Dallas and met there.  All that to say, we feel the DFW area will be a great next step for our family.  We have also considered the Tyler area, because of our love for Pine Cove, the area, and Staci has family there as well.

 

In August, Michael began pursuing his Alternative Teaching Certification in Middle School Math.  One of his favorite parts of youth ministry is teaching the students, and we are looking forward to this new career choice.  We also feel that this will be a great springboard for ministry to students in a different setting, because we all know how much impact teachers can have on students.  While we have absolutely loved working with students for 5.5 years (over 3 of which have been at Wesley), we feel it is time for a different pace.  We will still be a part of ministry at whatever church God leads us to, but it will be on a volunteer basis.  This will also give Michael the opportunity to become more involved in the worship ministry of the church, which has always been one of his passions.

 

We have also applied for a ministry called Apartment Life.  If we are accepted into this program, we will be able to minister to people at our future apartment complex by planning a monthly event, welcoming new tenants, celebrating new babies, etc. in exchange for a portion of our rent.  We will also be encouraged and empowered to build relationships with our neighbors, possibly start an apartment Bible Study, and invite them to church.  Our prayer is that this will allow Staci to stay home with Josiah.

 

Please keep our family in your prayers during this time of transition.  We are trying to sell our house, and Michael is currently applying for teaching jobs.  We have no clue how God is going to work all of this out…all we know is that He is calling us to step out in faith.

 

We will continue to pray for the students, families, and Wesley as they are also in a time of transition.  As we mentioned earlier, we believe wholeheartedly that God has someone wonderful planned to come in and work with the students.

 

After visiting with our pastor and sharing all of this, we have collectively decided that our last Sunday will be January 5, unless Michael gets a job and needs to start before then.  It’s all coming so quickly…and it’s taking a lot of faith to resign without having something else lined up.  But we just keep on praying that God will provide and that He will help us rely on Him wholeheartedly in this time.  And while we are so sad to leave everyone here, we are excited to see what He has in store for our family.

 

Thank you to all of our friends and family, both here and away, for all of your encouragement and support.  We are so blessed to be a part of the ministry at Wesley.  While leaving our students and the youth families is the absolute hardest part of all of this, we know that God has a plan.  And just like we learned in Sunday School, His plan is always better than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

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–Michael and Staci

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P.S. If you’d like to read about our decision to move down here over three years ago, you can click HERE.  It’s a great reminder of how God orchestrates everything and how His plan is always the best.

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A Year Ago-ish Today – By M

I feel like I can’t say this phrase enough, and I know I’ll just say it more and more as time goes on, but “time flies!”  It’s hard to believe that it has already been over a year that we began the process of building our house!  About a week ago, last year, we signed all the paper work and got everything all picked out, and our house started the preliminary stages of being built.

This was all we had… Smiles and an empty lot!

Over the summer (which was, by far, the craziest summer of my life) we saw our house go up and have been so blessed to be in our first and brand new home!

And here we are a year later…

We have now been in our new house for nearly 8 months!  And I remember when it felt like we would never be moved in!

God has blessed us so much!   And we couldn’t be more thankful!  We have been given an awesome and beautiful new house! And a little one on the way!  I don’t think we’ve posted anything with his new bedroom that we have been working on, so I’ll go ahead and post a little teaser pic (I know Staci will want to do a full post sometime later on).

And now we’re only a little over 2 months out from our son’s due date!  ….so speaking of crazy summers…. 🙂

That’s more or less what’s new with us… What has been going on with you over this past year?  I know a lot of you are having babies too!  I think Staci and I counted up about 14, or so, couples of our friends who are expecting or have just had their first baby this year!  So Crazy!  So what’s going on in your neck of the woods?

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– M


Unexpected Happy Endings – By M

As I blogged the other day, I had anxiously been awaiting my new “Toy Story 3” movie to come in the mail!  And It came!  And I was am so happy!  And the heavens rejoiced!  And Staci and I got to watch it last night!  And I loved every minute of it!

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As I had also mentioned in that post, I think Disney/Pixar did an incredible job with the story.  I loved they way that they continued the story in the present rather than picking up the story where it left off in #2.  I think it makes the whole story more believable and (to someone like me who grew up with the Toy Story movies) that much more touching.

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This paragraph will talk a little bit about the end of the movie, but I promise to leave it vague enough to keep from spoiling the movie if you haven’t seen it yet: As I watch through the ending scene of the movie for the third time (we already saw it twice in theater) it really struck me hard, and I couldn’t help but tear up a little bit (Staci did too).  I really think that the writers hit the ending of this tale right on the nose.  I realized that the ending, although it isn’t necessarily the expected one, is probably the happiest ending that they could have written.  And it made me think (sorry the youth pastor inside me is about to pop out)… Sometimes, in life, the “endings” we experience are not the ones we expect.  But more often than not, if we’re following God’s will for our life, they will be the happiest!

Allow me to elaborate by sharing a little of my own story.  During my junior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to go into the film making business.  I didn’t know how or what exactly, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do.  But then God changed my mind. Not that it wasn’t a welcomed change, because I was very excited about it, but the original “end” I foresaw in my life would not have been the happiest according to what God wanted for me.  Likewise, I would never have seen myself in small, po-dunk America for 2+ years of my life doing ministry, but I couldn’t have enjoyed that period of my life more.  And now here we are in a new town, a new ministry, and a new future that Staci and I could never have planned.  A very unexpected, but but yet very happy, “ending”!

When God puts a new opportunity in your life, and it isn’t what you originally wanted or expected it may just be a small part of the unexpected Happy Ending that He wants to put in your life!  If the writers of a movie can write such a great ending to such a great story, I know that the Writer of all things will have the best ending for you in mind if you listen to and follow Him.

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Have you ever experienced one of those unexpected Happy Endings in your life?

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-Michael


Our Past Two Weeks, Part Two

I know it’s been another week since we’ve moved, but I’ll keep going with the “Part Two” thing…

And let me warn you: it’s a long post.  But feel free to just look at the pictures!

Saturday, October 2

We were supposed to sleep in, but that’s pretty much a non-existant thing for us now.  For some reason, I’m turning into my father and can’t sleep in to save my life.  At least we woke up rested!

Michael and I went to Target and Wal-Mart and came back with everything we need for our new guest bathroom (we’ve only had one bathroom up until now) plus lots of other goodies for our house.

Our families actually did get to sleep in, and they came over later that morning.  We got right to work unpacking boxes!  Let me just say that I have NO clue what we would have done without our moms and my sister — they helped SO much!

We ordered yummy pizza from a local Italian restaurant, and some people from our church brought dinner that night.  We were still just blown away by everyone’s welcoming-ness.

Michael’s parents headed back to their hotel (we’d be seeing them in the morning) and my family stuck around for a little while longer.  We snapped this picture before they had to leave.  (Side Note:  I am REALLY short.  I think I just re-realized that.)

All of “the girls” cried when they left.  It killed me that we wouldn’t see them for a long time since we’d gotten so used to seeing them at least a couple of times a month.  But I’m thankful for my husband who hugged me and let me cry.  He also reminded me something we’d been telling ourselves and each other over the past few weeks:

“At least we’re close enough to our friends and family that it’s tough to leave them.”  So true.

My mom called after a little while and by the time we got off the phone I was lots better.  It helped that we knew that this is where we’re supposed to be — and that our families and friends support us in our decision.

Sunday, October 3

We met Michael’s parents at church so we could go to the 8:00 service.  Let me say that I didn’t know that church could start that early.  It was tough to wake up early the first week, but by last week, we’d already adjusted.

Church was great, and we went down to join the church after the message.  Everyone was SOO friendly, and it was great to meet everyone on their way out of the sanctuary.

We made our way over to the youth center and met a TON of youth students and some parents.  It was a little overwhelming, but really good at the same time.

Michael’s parents had to leave about halfway through our first Sunday School hour.  I really wish that we would have taken a picture with Michael’s parents before they left!  Thankfully we’ll be able to see them for Thanksgiving.

We went to “meet the church” at the end of the second service, and then repeated everything during the third service/second SS hour.

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As soon as church was over, it was time to unload a SEMI full of pumpkins!  We ate a quick lunch at the church and then got to work.  A lot of the students from one of the schools in the town came to help so they could get service hours.  There were people everywhere!  It was great to see everyone working so hard to get the Pumpkin Patch all set up.

I just realized that I need to explain the Pumpkin Patch a little more.  Our church has been doing a Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser for 17 years now.  The pumpkins are grown on a Native American Farm in NM or NV or somewhere over there (I can’t remember), and then a place somewhere around NC or VA or somewhere puts them on trucks and sends them to people all over the USA.  We got one truck-load on the 3rd and we’ll get another this Sunday.

All of the proceeds (after costs) go to the youth for our summer mission trips!  They usually make enough to cover almost all of the mission trip costs.  It’s so great to see people of ALL ages coming together and making this fund-raiser possible.  The Patch is open every day, and people from the church volunteer to work it.  They also open it up in the mornings for day-schools and pre-schools to come for storytime and a little pumpkin.  It’s been adorable to watch the little kids come and look at all of the pumpkins!  There have also been tons of photo-ops.  One little girl (she was a year and a half old) was in a huge orange tutu, and it was just about the cutest thing ever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself….

On Sunday, we unloaded pumpkins for a few hours.  Since I can’t lift the big pumpkins, I helped the little kids put the baby pumpkins on flats.  One little girl kept finding all of the “cuties” and hiding them under the flat so they “wouldn’t get hurt if it rained”.

The grown-ups and big kids unloaded the truck.  They made huge lines all the way down the grass to pass the pumpkins.

Our pastor made sure I got one of him passing the pumpkins.  He and his wife are both hilarious!  The lady that is passing him the pumpkin is the one in charge of the Patch this year.  She’s done an amazing job!

There were rows and rows and ROWS of pumpkins!

And there were all kinds of different pumpkins too!

Normal Pumpkins and Fairytale Pumpkins:

Pumpkins with “warts”:

And even Acorn Pumpkins (I’d never seen anything like this before!):

We also have Swan Gourds and even White Pumpkins:

There were pumpkins EVERYWHERE!  We had a lot of fun helping unload and set everything up.  It was also a good time to get to know some of the youth students and other people from the church.  Even though it was a lot of hard work, we’re both looking forward to unloading another shipment in a couple of days.

After the pumpkins were unloaded, Michael and I borrowed our new friends’ truck to go to IKEA for a few things.  We went in search of a dresser for Michael, a pantry, a storage thing for our office, and an end table/place for our blankets to be stored.

That store is NUTS.  The first time I went, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even buy anything.  And there were still a few times that I was completely overwhelmed when we were trying to figure out all of the million pieces that we needed to buy for the pantry and storage thing.  But we eventually found everything we were looking for (or so we thought…) and headed home.

It was a LONG but good day.  There’s nothing like a million gazillion pumpkins to welcome you.

 

 

Monday, October 4

 

This day was a WHIRLWIND.  We went to Burger King at 6:30 to meet with some of the students from one of the high schools.  (They meet every week for CrossTalk — a time for the youth to come and get free breakfast and pray before school.)  Even though it was “an ungodly hour” (my words that morning), we were thankful to get to hang out with just a few kids and get to know them better.

We came home, tried to get a quick nap, and then headed to work.  Since we’re the youth leaders and the Pumpkin Patch is a youth missions fund raiser, we’re in charge of “opening” the patch every day and making sure everyone has everything they need to get started.  So we opened the patch and then came back home for the cable guy to set up our internet (yay!).

We headed back to the church to meet with the ladies that have been serving as interim youth directors.  Talk about information overload!  But it was good to be getting the info.  Then we went to lunch with Robert (our pastor), Pam (his wife/the children’s minister), Mark (the assoc. pastor) and Erin (his wife/the newsletter and supply closet coordinator).  All I can say is our calendars are now FULL.  We flipped from Nov to July to Sept to Feb to Oct and back (plus all of the other months) about a million times.  But it felt good to get some dates down and start to see what all was going to be coming up.  And we love both couples (and their families) already — they’re so great!

We went back to the office and met with Robert, where we got a TON of our questions answered (like schedules, youth work, office stuff, etc) and received a lot more information.  By the time we left, we felt like our brains were going to explode.  But in a good way, if that makes any sense.

That night, we put together Michael’s new dresser!  I felt like Bob and  Bobette Villa.

I told Michael to smile for the camera, but he said that real men don’t take pictures while they’re building.  And that’s why women aren’t allowed on the building site.

EXCUSE ME?!

He smiled.  Hehe.

I, on the other hand, was all ready to cheese it up and show off my mad building skills!

(Side Note: I just realized how “daintily” I hold the screw.  I guess I don’t have mad building skills after all.)

Anyway, after we put the dresser together, we Skyped with my family and gave them a tour of what we’d done since they left.  (Isn’t technology amazing?!)  And then it was off to bed.  We were pooped.

 

 

Tuesday, October 5

 

On Tuesday, we worked really hard in the office, trying to start getting the bookshelves organized, put dates in our calendars, figure out email and things, and all kinds of stuff.  It was busy, but we felt like we were finally accomplishing something tangible.

That night, I worked on unpacking some more boxes while Michael had a meeting to go to.  I started working on the guest room shelf unit thing and Michael worked on the pantry.  He got a lot done!  I got one of the parts put together and then I realized that we’d forgotten to buy two main things: the base and the top unit where the filing cabinet goes.  We had the filing cabinet mechanism, but no unit to put it in.  We’d have to wait to finish it until we went to Houston again.

 

 

Wednesday, October  6

 

Wednesday was another super busy day.  It started with CrossTalk at 7:00 for one of the other high school’s students.  There were a ot of kids who came, and it was good to get to know a few more of them in a smaller setting.

Even though I’m just part-time, I decided to go in to the office most of the time for the first week so that I could help get things organized and set up and everything.  And let me say now that we LOVE working together!  It’s so much fun to be able to work together on all of the ministry stuff and planning and just all of it.  We love that we can feel like we’re both truly involved, and we’re able to get paid to be a ministry team!  We’re so blessed.

Anyway…a little while after we got to work, I was asked if I could go to the Patch to help with storytime.  There were going to be little pre-school classes coming all morning long.  Of course I’d like to help!  I just love little kids, and watching them in the Patch was so much fun.

The kids were so cute as they listened to the story.  And afterwards, they were able to pick out a little pumpkin and put it in their goody-bag.

There were a lot of families and individuals out buying pumpkins as well.  I loved seeing how much fun everyone was having!

That afternoon, Michael was interviewed on the local news station!  They wanted to do a story on the Patch and let people know when they could come purchase pumpkins.  They also interviewed a lady who has made a tradition of coming from Louisiana to take her grandchildren every year.  (By the way, some people have told me that they’ve been coming since their kids were in elementary school, and they’re out of the house now.)

Michael did a great job!  It was fun watching him be interviewed (the segment was live, by the way).

Hehe — less than a week in Beaumont, and he’s already on the news!  Our children’s pastor, Pam, asked for his autograph.  I told her he would sign her bulletin.

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That night was our first Wednesday night with the youth.  For the rest of this month, the couple who has been teaching on Wednesday nights is going to continue their lessons.  They were supposed to teach last week, but we found out that the youth are in charge of “rolling” the pumpkins  so that they don’t rot as quickly.  We spent a long time rolling all of them (there are a ton!) and then the hay bales arrived, so we had to move them.  We also took all of the scarecrows from the contest and placed them around the Patch.  It turned out to be a really good thing, because we were able to just visit with the kids and get to know them a little more.

And then Michael had a major break-through with the guys.  He taught them how to play this game where you have to try to poke the other person while making sure they don’t poke you (think a big-scale “thumb war”).  And that’s all it takes with guys.  He’s automatically “in”.

It was a really good night, and we felt, once again, that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be.

 

 

 

Thursday, October 7

 

On Thursday, I went in to the office with Michael and we got through some more of the books and binders files.  Then after lunch, I stayed home and Michael went back to work.  It was SOOOO good to have some time to relax.  I read some more of my book (I’m still working my way through the Harry Potter Books — 1 – 4 again and now I’m on 5 for the first time) and took some time to get some house work done.  It had been such a busy week, and the break was greatly appreciated.

That night, we ordered pizza and watched “Matilda“!  It was one of my family’s favorites growing up, and Michael had never seen it.  We both really enjoyed it.

 

 

Friday, October 8

 

Friday was our day off.  And let me say that it is AMAZING to have the same days off!  In the past, we’ve always only had one day off that’s the same: Saturday.  Michael got another day in the week, but I was always at work.  We kept thinking it was Saturday all day.  It was great!

After Michael opened the Patch, we got ready and drove to Houston to buy our missing pieces at IKEA.  While we were there, we bought a few toys that we just couldn’t pass up (I’ll post pictures later…I haven’t taken any yet).  It’ll be nice when we have kids so we can have an excuse to buy kids’ toys and books.  We just act like we’re buying them for someone else and then add them to our kids’ area in our guest room/office for little kiddos to play with when they come to visit.

That night, we went to our first football game in Beaumont!  I was trying to remember the last time I’d gone to a football game, and I’m thinking it’s been about 6 years.  We sat with Robert and Pam and a lot of people from our church and just had a great time!  The people really are so, so friendly.  And it seems like they have a blast everywhere they go.

 

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This officially ends “Our Past Two Weeks” but I’ll go ahead and do a brief update on this past week as well — since I let a whole ‘nother week pass before I updated again!

 

 

Saturday, October 9

 

We worked around the house and finished putting together our pantry and office shelf thing.  And then we could empty a lot more boxes!  We also went grocery shopping at some point, but I can’t remember if it was this day or another.  We had a nice, low-key morning and afternoon.

That night, we went to see some of our new youth students before their homecoming dance.  We visited with the parents before “picture time”.  We’re really enjoying getting to know so many of the parents.  All of the kids looked great!

And then Michael and I went on our first date in Beaumont.  We had dinner at Pappadeaux (which was wonderful!) and then came home and relaxed.

It was a perfect way to end the week.

 

 

Sunday, October 10

 

We got up bright and early for the 8:00 service.  But by this time we were used to getting up even earlier than this for CrossTalk.  It’s funny how quickly your body can adjust to new times.

It was “Children’s Sabbath” which means the kiddos were in charge of the service, and Pam preached.  We really, really enjoyed it!  The kids were so cute.

Sunday Schools went well, and we opened up the Patch in the middle of the second SS, so we spent the rest of the time doing that.  Oh–and we bought some BEAUTIFUL olive tree things after the first service, but I haven’t taken pictures of those yet either.  They deserve their own post.

We went to lunch with Robert and Pam, and Mark and Erin, and their kids.  We had a great time!

That night, we were thrown a welcome party at the church.  We were able to meet a lot of the students and parents we hadn’t met yet, as well as visit with others.  It was SUCH a good time.  Once again, we were blown away by everyone’s welcoming attitudes and generosity.  We’re blessed.

 

 

Monday, October 11

 

My brother turned 21!  We called him on our way to CrossTalk to wish him happy birthday.  It’s weird that we’re all growing up.  The rest of the day went really well.  Some of our youth had a Boy Scouts Court of Honor Ceremony, and we were able to go to that.  It was really neat to hear about all of their Scouts stuff.  I hope our boys are able to be involved in Boy Scouts someday.

Oh — and before the Scouts Ceremony, we ate a really yummy meal.  In fact, Michael didn’t want to eat his food until I took a picture of it.  We’d bought pre-seasoned pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon at HEB.  And then I fixed mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans, and Michael made some bread.  It definitely hit the spot.  If you have an HEB near you, try this meat!

 

 

Tuesday, October 12

 

I actually stayed home on Tuesday and got a TON done around the house.  It felt so good to get so many more boxes unpacked and housework done.  Michael spent the day going through tons of computer files and contacting people and things like that.

That night, we went and ran errands.  We bought a Christmas present, some games that were on sale, and a map at Toys-R-Us.  (Oh — and we’d bought the Sunday Paper on Sunday so I could get some coupons, and we’d found GREAT deals!)  After that, we went to Hobby Lobby to get some 1/2 price fall decorations with our gift card.  Then we went to Wal-Mart to get bread since we don’t like HEB’s bread.  And then we finally made it to HEB for our grocery shopping.  Let me just say that we have been BANKING on the sales!  I’ll probably write a whole post about it later, but we’ve saved a lot of money over the past week.

We were also talking to my mom off and on the whole night.  Something super exciting was happening, and she was keeping me up-to-date.  It definitely deserves its own post though!

Since it literally took 4 hours to run all of those errands, we just got Papa John’s and brought it home.  We put in a good-ole episode of “Growing Pains” (Season 1) and then chatted with my brother.  It was a good day!

 

 

Wednesday, October 13

 

Wednesday started bright and early with CrossTalk.  It was revealed that I’m not the greatest morning person.  It’s not that I’m grumpy, I’m just not functioning at 100%.  I couldn’t hear anything, and I kept thinking that people were saying the craziest things.  Let’s just say I provided quite a bit of entertainment without trying to.

We got lots more done in the office and even had a chance to come home for a couple of hours before evening church. Church was good (except for the disgusting, rotting pumpkins — one of them were so nasty that it made one of our students throw up!) and we had a good time with the students again.

 

 

Thursday, October 14

 

Since it was Boss’s Day yesterday (actually, I think its tomorrow, but we celebrated yesterday), I stayed home to make some brownies in the morning.  I went in a couple of hours late (but not for me since I’m part time!  Woo-hoo!) and got to work on the bookshelves again.  We had a wonderful Boss’s Day lunch with yummy food and LOTS of laughs.  And then I went out to check on Michael at the Patch (he was helping for a few hours).  We worked in our office and did some more work, and then it was time to come home.

We ate a snack and then headed to a JV football game to watch some of our students.  We sat with the parents again and had a really good time.  We all went to eat afterwards at the new restaurant in the town (it’s a little bitty community outside of Beaumont).  The burgers were good but we waited a really long time for the boys to get their food.

When we came home, Michael and I decided to play one of our new games: Scrabble!

Michael won — 272 to 214!  But we were both happy because we both scored “Expert” (over 200 pts for 2 players)!

It was a great way to end another busy, but great week!

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–Staci

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Our Past Two Weeks (part 1)

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in Beaumont a week and a day!  Where has the time gone?  It seems like forever since I updated last.  It’s been some of the absolute busiest few weeks of my life.  But it’s been good — God is so faithful!

I want to go back and update about everything that’s happened over the past two weeks.  I think that I’ve experienced about a million and three emotions.  I think I’ll start at our last Saturday in Ada…

Saturday, Sept. 25

I’m pretty sure we packed and did a few things around the house during the day.  And then that night, Danna and Jonathan came over.  We ate dinner and then played lots of games.  We played this card game that they taught us (I can’t remember the name).  You play with partners, and Danna and I definitely won!  Our secret sign was great (You have to get 4 of a kind and then do a secret sign.  You win the round when your partner sees your sign and says that you have all 4.  But the other people can’t find out what your sign is.)

We also played Apples to Apples and Last Word.  I’ll have to do a whole post about Last Word later.  It’s SO much fun!  We had a great time with our friends.

Sunday, Sept. 26

Even though it was our last Sunday at our church in Ada, it really didn’t feel like it.  I think that since I knew we still had another Wednesday night with everyone, I didn’t let myself think of it as a “last”.  I think the weather also had something to do with us not being upset — it’s really hard to be upset with sunny, 63 degree weather!  We had a great time with our church family that morning, and then went to my Meme and Pawpaw’s house for lunch.

When I was little and we lived in Ada (there were 6 years that we lived out of town, but the rest of the time my family lived in Ada), we ate Sunday lunch with Meme and Pawpaw every week.  Meme is an excellent cook and we all loved getting to enjoy her food and spend time together as a family.  When my family moved to OKC two summers ago, it became just the four of us at lunch.  Even though there were half the number of people at lunch, Meme still cooked a huge meal with dessert every week.  Michael and I loved being able to go over there and spend time visiting and eating together.

For our last Sunday lunch, Meme fixed steak, potatoes, and lots of yummy stuff to go with it.

Pawpaw grilled the steak:

And Michael, Meme, and I set the table:

The food was delicious (as always)!

And for dessert, we had Chocolate Pie!

I only got teary when Meme and Pawpaw gave us this beautiful going-away gift.  It didn’t help that Meme got choked up when I was opening it.

The side really got me.  The saying fit perfectly.

After lunch, I helped Meme look for some Christmas presents online (I introduced her to etsy!) while the guys took care of the dishes.  We hung around for a long time and just enjoyed our last Sunday afternoon together.

Monday, Sept. 27

On Monday, we went to OKC to run some errands (picking up Dr. records and things) and then had birthday dinner for my brother.  His bday isn’t until October 11, but we celebrated early so we could be there.  As always, it was a great night with my fam!

Tuesday, Sept. 28

We went shopping for some new work clothes in Norman since I can now dress down and Michael needs to dress up.  We finished packing some things and then a few of our friends from the BSU came over.  Kristin left with our creepy “Dirty Santa/White Elephant” gift from last Christmas.  She named him Michael.  I’ll miss my Tuesday nights with these girls!

 

Wednesday, Sept. 29

 

On Wednesday we worked on packing.  Then that night we had our last time at church.  Our church gave us a “sandwich send-off” and we had a great time visiting with everyone during dinner.  We ate with some of our older friends, and it was such a blessing!  We felt so, so blessed and loved by all of the hugs and gifts and well wishes.  We’re so thankful for our church family there!

When we went upstairs to the youth area, our students had a special surprise planned for us:

All of “our kids” who are in band brought their instruments and played a song for us.  It was so sweet and thoughtful of them!  A lot of them are in band, and it meant so much to us to know that they planned something special like this for us.  They also gave us a DVD with memories from our time there and made us promise to now watch it until after we moved.  They’re SUCH great students and we love them a ton!

There were “personal space invasions” (group hugs) and then we played “Ninja” and “Mafia” — two of our group’s favorite games.

We’d invited all of the parents to come up after youth time so that we could do something special for all of the students.  At Pine Cove Camps, the counselors give each of their campers “Character Quality Certificates” or CQs at the end of the week.  They’re a way to affirm the campers by telling them qualities that we see in them.  When we found out that we were leaving, we decided that we wanted to do CQs for our students.  It was such a blessing to be able to bring each of our kids up and tell them the qualities that we see in them and tell them that we’re proud of them.  They really are incredible students, and we’re so thankful that God has allowed us to serve with them over the past two and a third years. They each hold a very special place in our hearts.

 

Thursday, Sept. 30

 

Thursday was a super busy day.  We had to load the moving van that night, and we had a lot of things that we wanted to do before then.  I wanted to visit my Granny (Meme’s mom) one last time before we moved.  She recognized me immediately, which meant a lot to me.  The rest of the time she kept us very entertained with all of her different stories.  When we left, she kept reminding me to love Jesus and telling us that she loves us.  I’ve thankful to have a great-grandma who has lived this long.

After that, we had to run some errands in town to take care of some last-minute things like shot records and insurance.  It felt like we had WAY to much to do in the time we had left.  But somehow we got it all done!  We had some friends come over at different times to tell us goodbye one last time, which was great.  And then we had a friend from church, a friend from the BSU, and my grandpa come and help us load the moving van.  After a little bit, my parents and Emily came to help us finish up.  I’m SOOO thankful for all of the help that we had!

Michael and P came over later that night.  He’s so stinking cute!  We had a great time visiting and passing baby P around.

Thankfully my brother is buying our couches so we had somewhere to sit!

He fell asleep while I was holding him.  Sleeping babies are just about the sweetest things ever.

We’re going to miss Michael, Daron, and P!  I’m glad we got to spend such a long time with them before we left.  And thank goodness for iChat — we’ll still be able to watch him grow up and visit with Michael and Daron.

We went and told Danna and Jonathan bye at their new house.  I’m so glad we got to see their new place before we left (They’d just got the keys that day).  It was tough saying goodbye to our friends!  That night we went to my Meme and Pawpaw’s house to spend the night.  Michael, Emily, and I stayed in “the little house” so we could sleep in the next morning (we’d been at our house late, cleaning).

 

Friday, Oct. 1

 

Moving Day!  My parents got up early and took the van and one of their cars down.  The plan was to meet up with them a little later since we’d be able to drive faster.  We got up and spent some time with Marcos and Meme and Pawpaw before we had to leave.  We love them SO much!  I’m so thankful that we were able to be this close to them over these past few years.  We met up with Lane at the Donut Shop and then headed down to Texas.

Emily kept me company, and we followed Michael.  We had fun jamming out to some girly tunes like “Taylor, the Latte Boy“, “Merry Happy“, and “A Walk to Remember” soundtrack — oh, and some good-ol’ “Elton John’s Greatest Hits“.

It was a great drive except for the fact that there were TONS of slow drivers on the road!  There was one stretch where I got behind someone going fifteen under and there was absolutely no way I could pass them.  Every single time we weren’t on a highway, we were behind someone slow.  So needless to say, we didn’t catch up to my parents.

They dropped the van off at the apartment complex and then went to check in to their hotel.  We arrived about 30 minutes later.  We were excited to be at our new apartment!

We took a few pictures of our view before we went in.  Our apartment is on the second floor (with no 3rd floor above us), with our windows facing west.  This is from the top of our steps:

Looking out the little window to the right of the stairs:

Back over the stairs:

Woo-Hoo!  We were really exicited!

Our living room.  We love the Bay Windows!

And our little bitty kitchen:

Michael’s parents came a few minutes after we got there, and we all went to the club house.  One of the staff members from our church was waiting to greet us outside our apartment when we got back.  It was so sweet and thoughtful to have someone there to greet us!

We decided to start unloading one of the cars, and my cousin Paul and his wife, Liz, pulled up.  It was SO great to see them!  We’re really excited that we’re only going to be about an hour and a half from them.  My parents came back to the apartment, and shortly afterward one of the families from our new church came with dinner.  It was so, so sweet of them!

More and more people showed up to help us move.  We didn’t count, but there had to have been at least 20 people from the church that came to help.  We were blown away by all of their kindness and generosity!  Everyone was so great and welcoming.  It literally took less than 45 minutes to unload everything!  It meant SO much to us for our new church to reach out and help us like this.  I’d forgotten to take pictures of everyone helping us, so I snapped a few after the work was finished.

When all of our new church friends left, we sat down and ate dinner.  It was SUCH a blessing to not have to worry about what we were going to fix!  Michael’s parents, my parents and sister, and Paul and Liz stayed.  It was good to be able to relax after such a long day (even if we did have to sit on the floor).

We decided to not even unpack anything that night — we’d have plenty of time in the morning.  We were exhausted.  But we were SOO thankful to have such wonderful friends and family to help us.  We went to bed feeling very blessed.

 

It’s getting late, so I’ll update about our first week in Beaumont in the next couple of days.  I will say one thing, though.  There have been LOTS and lots of pumpkins.

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Thank you all SO much for your thoughts and prayers over these past few weeks. They’ve meant so much to us.  We’re so thankful that God has provided such amazing friends and family for us.  We love you!

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–Staci

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Leaving Stinks

Actually, the words that came out of my mouth as tears were streaming down my face yesterday were, “Leaving sucks.  So bad.”

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It seems like I have to tell another group of people bye every day.  And therefore I’ve been crying every day.  I’ve moved a ton since I was little, and it’s always been hard to leave friends and family, but this time has just been different.  When I was growing up, I was devastated to leave my friends, but then I went to my new school and made new friends.  And since we were always within a few hours of our old town, I could still see my friends and family that we left.

When I left for college in Dallas (2.5 – 3 hrs away) I was so excited to start this new phase of my life.  And I also knew that I’d be back in town for every break and on some weekends and things.  When I took a year away from school to go to The Forge, I thought that I’d be back at DBU the following year, and I was able to come and visit a lot, so it wasn’t as hard either.  Moving back to my hometown in Oklahoma was easy since it’s where I grew up (for the most part).  It was also easier because all of “My Forgies” were going in different directions after the program.

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But this time has been SO much harder than I expected.  I think I pushed the leaving part out of my head for as long as possible because I didn’t want to think about that part.  It’s like I knew that we were going to leave people we love, but I didn’t really know it.  Now I do.  This sounds super dramatic, and I’m not meaning to be, but I feel like a little part of me breaks off every time we have to say goodbye again.

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Thursday night was so hard.  As Michael said in his last post, we’ve become really involved in the college ministry at the BSU here in town.  He’s been leading worship for them for about a year and a half, and I started going with him on Thursday nights last fall.  Then in the spring, I started leading a Bible study at our house for some of the girls.  We went through Beth Moore’s “Believing God”.  As anyone who’s gone through a weekly Bible study knows, you get super close to the people in your group.

By the time this fall semester started, Michael and I knew that we would probably be leaving soon, so I didn’t start another Bible study.  Instead, we had “girls’ night”!  We played games one week, and then these last two weeks we’ve watched movies.  Some of the same girls from last spring came, and then some of them were new.  I’ve just loved getting to know these girls.  It’s been a huge blessing to be able to share life with them over the past year.

Thursday night was our last night at the BSU.  We took this picture before things got started:

I love these girls.

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I had a few tears during the music, but I was able to hold it together pretty well.  But then Rob (the director) called us up to the front and gave us a gift from everyone and talked about our ministry there.  And as soon as we sat back down, I couldn’t hold it in anymore.  And when he’d finished the lesson and we started hugging / saying goodbye to all of the students, my heart was just breaking.

But we told them they could stop by next Tuesday night, so hopefully we’ll see a lot of them again.  And since they’re college students (well, most of them…a few are “oldies” like us), hopefully some of them will be able to take a road trip and come to visit sometime.

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And then yesterday was my last day of work.

I’ve been at my company for a little over two years.  And during that time I’ve made some really good friendships.  There are only seven people in our department, so we really had an opportunity to get close.  It wasn’t just a place of employment where we only talked business.  We talked about everything.  And we shared life together.

When I came back from lunch, they had a little “going away” thing for me.  All three of the departments on our side of the 4th floor had gone together and given me a sweet card and a beautiful plaque and wall cross.  One of the other departments’ supervisors had also made an incredible pineapple cake/bar dessert.  It was so sweet.

After I completed my exit interview, I came back to  pack my desk area.  One of my friends stood and talked with me the whole time to help keep me distracted.  When everything was ready, Michael came to pick me up so he could carry everything.  Two of the people in our department were already gone, but the rest of us took a picture.

After we’d finished laughing about Adam (our boss) being so much taller than us, it was time for goodbye.  I started getting really teary-eyed after I’d given hugs.  I really couldn’t ask for better co-workers.

By the time we made it to the elevator, I couldn’t take it.  It just felt so final.  I’d like to think that we’ll see each other again, but the truth is that we probably won’t.  And the reality of that hit me hard.  I cried for the next half-hour — I just couldn’t stop.  I’m thankful that God allowed me to work with such great people for the past two years.

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Last night we went and spent time with my aunt/cousin Michael and her husband and little boy.  (I wrote about being bossy to her when we were little a few months ago.)  We had SUCH a good time.  We always love going over and spending time with them.   I just wish we’d been able to more.  Michael let me help give baby P a bath and get him all ready for bed and everything.  He’s just about the cutest thing in the world!  I didn’t get any pictures of him last night, but here are a few of him growing up over these past few months.

1 day old:

In July (he was about 2.5 months old):

 

And on Saturday with Michael and then with my dad:

Isn’t he the cutest thing?  He’s SO expressive with his eyes, and he’s getting to be so big.  We had a GREAT time eating dinner and visiting with them.  I told Michael I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye, so we’re going to see them next week before we move.  And thankfully I know we’ll see them again since they’re family : )  It was SUCH a good way to end a tough day of saying goodbye.

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–Staci

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Any tips on saying goodbye?  Or staying in touch?

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The First of the Lasts – By M

So I think I’ve begun my new signiture for my posts… the title will end in “by M”

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Now to the post…

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Thursday night marked the “beginning” of the end of our ministry in Ada.

Over the past year and a half I have had the oppurtunity and privilege of leading worship for the Thursday night Bible study held at the local college’s Baptist Student Union (BSU) called Encounter.  This ministry has been a complete God-send for me here in our town.  Although I am (or “was”, but that just sounds weird right now) the music minister at our church, I didn’t exactly lead the kind of music that I love to lead.  I thank God for the music ministry there at our church, and I feel honored to have led the church in worship over the past 2+ years.  However, hymns, piano, and organ (with a little bit of “praise choruses” — as some would call them — and guitar sprinkled in) are not really my cup of tea.  I have always been a fan of contemporary worship with a band including drums, bass, electric and acoustic guitars, and possibly even a synth thrown in there somewhere…

…This is the style of worship I got to lead at the BSU.  (here are a couple of pics of my last night there)

 

And beyond leading worship, I invested in many lives of the students who were involved in the BSU ministry.  It was so refreshing to be able to come to a place where I was free to worship in the way that is the best for me.

Staci was also very involved with some of the girls.  She led a Bible study on Tuesday nights last Spring.  The girls went through a Beth Moore study.

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So we begin to turn the page as we made it through our first “last” before we leave for Beaumont in just a few days now.

Also, Staci just finished her last day at her job here, but I’m sure she would rather share about that.

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Other “Lasts” on the agenda: Sunday Morning Service, Sunday Night Service, Wednesday Night Service, Weekend

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Thank God for technology so that we can stay in touch with those whom we love who will be very far away.

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— Michael

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Boxes and Paper Plates

Our guest room now looks like this:

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And I cooked dessert on a paper plate a few nights ago because all of our dishes and most of our baking dishes are already packed.

In case you’re ever moving, have no baking dishes, and are running low on groceries, I’ll go ahead and share this super easy dessert I put together.

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Apples a la Microwave

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large apple (Granny Smith apples work well)
  • Cinnamon (you choose the amount)
  • 1 Tbs Brown Sugar (approximately)
  • 1 Tbs Sugar (approximately)
  • 1-2 Tbs Butter (I used Braum’s salted sweet cream butter)

 

Directions:

  • Peel and slice the apple.
  • Place in microwave safe bowl (or doubled paper plates).
  • Top with cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar, and sliced butter.

  • Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave another minute.  Stir.
  • Repeat until apples are desired softness (I think I probably microwaved them for 2-2.5 minutes total).
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

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How easy is that?!  It was really good too.  Michael said that he liked it almost as much as apple pie.  And it couldn’t be easier or quicker to make.

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I am looking forward to the day when I can get my dishes back, though.

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–Staci

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Tears, Dreams, and This Time Last Year

Tears

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Well…last night it finally hit me.  We’re moving VERY FAR AWAY.

As in EIGHT HOURS from my family.

If you know me, you know how tough this is going to be for me.  My family is SUPER close.  Apart from Michael, they’re who I’d want to spend time with out of anyone in the world.  I’m not saying this to brag or anything, but we’re easily the closest family I’ve ever known.  And it’s going to be really hard to move so far away.

I’ve lived away from my family before (Dallas — 2.5 hrs, and Tyler — 5 hrs), and they live about 1.25 hrs away from us now, but it’s always been a “doable distance”.  8 hrs is a long, long way.

Last night, Michael and I were watching Mrs. Doubtfire and I think the end is what really got me.  You know:  the part where “she” talks about families and how some don’t get to see each other for weeks or months or even years, but if they have love, that’s what being a family is all about.  Well, the credits started rolling, and I started bawling.

We’re not talking a few tears here — it was the whole sobbing to the point where I could hardly breathe thing.  I’m so thankful for my sweet husband, though.  He just held me and let me cry.  And he didn’t even get upset when he saw that his entire sleeve was black from my mascara.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I finally regained composure, and I was even able to talk on the phone with my mom later on.  I’m so thankful for technology because it’s going to make all of this a lot easier.  I can’t imagine what it would be like back in the old days…

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Dreams

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Last night, I had another dream about Disney World (I’ve been having them a lot lately).  It’s not a secret that I absolutely love Disney, and I’m dead serious that I want to work at WDW when we retire.

Well, my dream was pretty weird.  At one point we were all on this boat, and we were trying to not get rained on, so we hid behind a house.  Then at some point, I was playing this game or watching a movie or something that let me fly over Walt Disney World.  I would zoom down on different parts of the parks to see the attractions up close.  While I was flying, some of my favorite Disney movie songs were playing.

Then we were going to Universal Studios with my family (I’ve never been there, btw).  It was around 4:00 and my mom was asking if we wanted to go into one of the parks and use our ride tickets.  I kept trying to explain to her that we’d be wasting a whole day’s pass.  Then I told everyone to be sure to bring their swimming suits because there were tons of water rides since it was on the ocean.  Before I woke up, I started doing the whole flying over Disney thing, and some songs from Beauty and the Beast were playing.

So needless to say, it made me want to go back to Disney World REALLY badly!

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Which brings me to my third topic:  This time last year.

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On September 20 last year, Michael and I were flying to Florida for an incredible week at Walt Disney World!  It really was the trip of a lifetime — we had SO much fun together.  Since I’m missing Disney a lot, I thought I’d go back and look at all of our pictures.  Here’s a little re-cap of our trip:

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Day 0:  Travel to Dallas

We drove to my Aunt L’s house in Dallas since we were leaving really, really early the next morning.  We had a great time hanging out with Aunt L and my cousin’s little girl, A.

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Day 1:  Arrival at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Downtown Disney

We had a really early flight to Orlando.  We were beyond excited to get to WDW (I’d been planning for 11 months…), and Animal Kingdom Lodge was absolutely INCREDIBLE!  We hung out at the resort for a while, and then went to Downtown Disney to spend the rest of the evening.

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Day 2:  Epcot and Magic Kingdom Nighttime

For our first full day in the parks, we went to Epcot.  We were there until mid-afternoon when we took a break and went to explore the Grand Floridian Resort.  We  went back to Epcot for our dinner reservations at Coral Reef, and then finished up some more attractions.  We loved all of the hands-on, interactive stuff.  Michael was even chosen as a contestant for a Velcro game show!  That night, we went over to the Magic Kingdom for SpectroMagic and Wishes.  It was a GREAT first full day!

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Day 3:  Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios)

We were both really excited about this day (well, we were excited about every day…but extra-excited about this day) because we were going to our favorite park:  Hollywood Studios!  We arrived in time for “rope drop” and stayed until the park closed.  We saw great shows and enjoyed all of the attractions.  Michael was even picked to be an “extra” in Indiana Jones.  We had dinner at the Sci-Fi Drive-In, and it was just a fantastic day.

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Day 4:  Magic Kingdom

We made it to the Magic Kingdom well before the rope drop show (which was great).  We stayed until early afternoon and then took a break to rent Sea Raycers and enjoy our resort and the pool.  We had dinner at Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort, and then went back to the Magic Kingdom for some more fun.

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Day 5:  Tour, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot

Michael and I went on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom and loved every minute of it!  We highly recommend it to anyone.  It was so great to see behind the scenes and learn so many interesting facts about Walt Disney and about the Magic Kingdom.  Afterwards, we did a little more at the MK, and then went to Epcot for dinner at Teppan Edu.  We tried on hats in all of the countries and then watched Illuminations.

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Day 6:  Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

We went to Animal Kingdom and had a great time watching the shows and riding the different rides.  We went back for a break in the late afternoon, ate dinner at Boma (in our resort), and then went to Hollywood Studios for the evening.  We watched Fantasmic, and then went to the Boardwalk.

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Day 7:  Disney’s Hollywood Studios and flying Home

We went back to Hollywood Studios for our last day since it’s both of our favorites.  We saw each of our favorite shows again, and enjoyed all of the things we missed on our other days and/or wanted to do again.  Late afternoon, we went back to our resort to catch the bus to the airport.  We arrived home safe and sound, with TONS of amazing memories of our trip.

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Sigh.  We miss Disney.  We were talking about it yesterday, and I think we’re going to try to go to Disneyland in California in two summers!!  We’d love to go back to WDW again, but we want to see new places, and I’ve never been to Cali.  I REALLY hope it works out!  I absolutely love vacations of any kind, but there’s just something special about a Disney Vacation.

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So that’s a little about where my mind has been over the past 18 hours or so:  Tears, Dreams, and This Time Last Year.

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–Staci

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“Go With God”

Levi Smith is one of our very favorite artists.  His lyrics are so clever, and his music is great.  One of our best friends from college introduced me to his music because her sister was friends with him, and Michael saw him in concert at DBU our freshman year.  Every since then, we’ve both been huge fans!

Most of his songs don’t have anything to do with God or faith.  In fact, my favorite is called “Bitterness is Sexy”, and it’s about being dumped.  The lyrics are hilarious — I’ll have to post them sometime.  Anyway…even though most of them are about other things, he has a few really great songs about his faith.

One of his songs really goes well with what we’ve been going through over the past few months.  I thought I’d share the lyrics with you.

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Go With God by Levi Smith

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Seemed like a chill swept the room
As you slowly broke the news
And shock spread across each face
Disbelief is soon replaced with blank stares
Into nowhere
And though I knew this day would come
I’m not ready to be left undone
And some say that nothing good can last
How quickly time has passed
It hurts, you know
To see you go

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But don’t look to the right or to the left
Set your gaze to what lies ahead
There are trails to blaze and memories to make
And so whatever it takes

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Go with God
If you can’t stay
I’d be a fool to stand in your way
And go with God
And follow ’til
‘Til you find yourself in the middle of His will

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No one could take the place you have among us
Or fill the void left in your wake
And all that you’ve done here will not be soon forgotten
But you can’t be contained in the pictures we take

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So don’t you look to the right or to the left
Set your gaze to what lies ahead
There are trails to blaze and memories to make
And so whatever it takes

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Go with God
If you can’t stay
I’d be a fool to stand in your way
And go with God
And follow ’til
‘Til you find yourself in the middle of His will

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Roll on
Roll on
Roll on my friend
Roll on
Roll on
Roll on

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It hurts, you know
To see you go
Go with God
Go with God

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Who knows what tomorrow holds?
Who knows what tomorrow holds?
Who knows what tomorrow holds?
But I know who holds tomorrow

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And though I knew this day would come…

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–Staci

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PS.  Sorry for all of the . s … the paragraph space isn’t big enough.  : )

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