Tag 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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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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Our 3rd Anniversary

Three years ago today, I married my best friend.  It was the greatest day of my life, and everything I hoped for.

We decided to see each other before the wedding, and our special time of praying and communion together is one of my favorite wedding day memories.  Our wedding was beautiful, with poinsettias from the church all over the stage, and the greatest thing was seeing all of our friends and family who drove to Oklahoma in the freezing cold to show their love and support.  I know I’m biased, but our reception was a blast!  So many people danced (from 1 year olds to grandparents), and it was just a great big party.  Since we were so busy  at the reception, we didn’t have a chance to eat, so we went to Subway on our way out of town.

So many great memories!  It was wonderful.  Here are some of our favorite pictures from that day (and from my bridal portraits before the wedding).

Happy Anniversary, Michael!  It’s been the most wonderful 3 years I could have asked for.

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–Staci

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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: 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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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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3 Hours of Catching Up

Last night, I met up with one of my really good friends, Amy.  She was my first friend when my family moved here before 8th grade, and we’ve been friends every since then.

There were times that we were inseparable, and then there were times that we didn’t hang out much.  But we always stayed friends.  I wish I hadn’t packed away my photo albums yet, because I have some great pictures of us over the years!

In 8th grade, we dressed up as “OU Girls” for “Twinkie Day.”  We were completely matching from our OU face-paint to our shirts to our crimson hair ribbons to our painted Keds.  Looking back, we were dorks.  But back then we thought we were so cool.

In 9th grade we started Yearbook together.  We were the only two freshmen and we were in charge of the whole junior high section.  Most other grades added people to the Yearbook team throughout high school, but it was still just the two of us when we graduated.

We’ve shared laughter, tears, excitement, secrets and tons of memories over the years.

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Last night was the first time we’ve seen each other since Amy and Andy got married almost a year and a half ago.  We had SO much to catch up on, but we picked up right where we left off.

It’s always good to run into people and catch up, but there’s something special about getting together with people you’ve truly shared life with and haven’t seen for a long time.  Even though time and miles have separated us, we’re still connected at the heart.  It’s hard to explain, but if you have friends like this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

As one of my favorite heroines, Anne of Green Gables, would say, “We’re kindred spirits.”

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–Staci

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