Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lance and I, with some help from my sister, have gotten the chance to do a little minor remodeling in the kitchen/dining room area. Just thought we would share some pics. The before pics are not from when we first moved in, but after we painted the walls green and got new flooring.

Kitchen before:

Kitchen after:
Fresh coat of white paint. New wood blinds. Spray painted cabinet knobs.

Dining room before:

Dining room after:
New blinds. New table and chairs.

And this one is just for cuteness!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Goodbye First Street

I write this blog today with some sadness in my heart. Today my parents leave Alaska, their home for 18 years. As I've mentioned in a previous post, my dad has resigned at our wonderful home church First Baptist Church Eagle River. He plans to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the Fall to earn a degree in Marriage and Family Couseling. I'm so excited about this new step in my parent's lives, and not to mention, thrilled that they will be living so much closer! However, I have admit that part of me is sad. Going "home" won't be quite the same anymore. Let me tell you a little bit about my home.

When I was seven years old, my family was living in North Carolina. When my parents announced the news that our family was moving to Alaska, I was pretty shocked. So far in my young life, my family had lived in 4 states: Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. So I was pretty used to moving long distances. Like any second grader, I was very sad to say goodbye to my friends, and I was a little concerned about moving such a long distance. To a kid in North Carolina, Alaska is pretty much a foreign country. I located Alaska on my United States map puzzle and was instantly confused. My parents spoke about snow and mountains, but the Alaska on my map was located somewhere southwest of California, next to Hawaii in the middle of the ocean! After a quick explanation, my dad confirmed that Alaska was actually not in the middle of the Atlantic but much farther north. After that every time I did that puzzle, I picked up the Alaska piece and placed it rightfully where it belonged on the carpet above the puzzle- somewhere northwest of Washington. Well after that I started to get worried. I mean, if Alaska is so far north that it can't even fit on the map, it may be a little too far north for me.

Weeks passed. Movers came.They boxed up my teddy bears and barbies, and we were off to the Last Frontier. Alaska was much better than I had imagined. For starters, it was breathtakingly beautiful. Each direction I turned displayed one amazing view after another. The small town we moved to was called Eagle River. Eagle River sits in a valley, with mountains in each direction. Over the years, each majestic mountain grew more familiar as I glanced at them each day, hiked them, camped in them, sledded down them, and enjoyed the wildlife that also calls Eagle River home. After a while, I took for granted the beauty around me. I began to forget that not everyone looks out their front window to a view that rivals even the best picture postcards. Not every kid can build snowforts large enough to house the entire neighborhood's children. Not every kid watches baby moose follow their mother across the backyard.

View from our front porch.

When we arrived in Eagle River, I was thrilled to discover that my parents had found a great big house for us to rent. It was fantastic. Five bedrooms. Three bathrooms. Two living rooms. A big backyard and a park down the street! When compared to my teeny, tiny bedroom previously shared with my baby sister, this was paradise. Since I was the oldest and feeling the most nervous about the big transition, my parents let me have my pick of the rooms. I chose a downstairs bedroom facing the backyard with a large walk-in closet. It was a good room and a great house. After living there for less than a year the landlord decided to sell, so my family moved to Laoana Circle, where we happily made memories in our equally fantastic but not quite so big rental. Three years later, my parents felt the need for a bigger place, so we began the process of buying a house. Amazingly, we discovered that our old house on First Street was up for sale, and we were proud to pack the boxes once again and head back to our home. I guess that house was just meant for us.

Our house

A few months ago when I heard the news that the house had sold, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. There are a lot of memories in that house. Biscuits and eggs on Saturday mornings. Family Game Nights around the dining room table. Words fail me when I try to describe the memories I think of when I think of that house. I can't say that I had a perfect childhood, no child does. But I can say that my childhood was just about as good as a kid could hope for. I had a loving and welcoming home. Even as a teenager, I liked to be there. (Most of the time!) I knew that when I got home from school, my mom would be waiting to hear about my day. I knew that if I had a problem, it could most likely be solved or at least sympathized with around the dinner table. I have a great family and countless happy memories.

My mom and dad said goodbye to Eagle River and the house on First Street today. I guess this is my way of saying goodbye too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Things change really quickly. Have you ever noticed that? One minute it's 30 degrees out and you have to bundle up to check the mail, and then the next it's 90 by breakfast. My husband and others who know me well will tell you that I'm not very observant. I have a little bit of a one track mind. I focus on a thought or a task, and I forget to notice my surroundings. In fact, once Lance bought me a dozen roses and left them on my night stand in my room. When I arrived home from work, I walked into the room, changed my clothes, glanced into the mirror, and walked out without even noticing the beautiful flowers! Yeah. It's a problem. I like to blame it on my astigmatism, but deep inside I know that's just a cop-out. I am really bad about directions. I am not a landmark direction follower. People will tell me, "Yeah you know that little yellow house? The one with a red barn behind it? So-and-so used to live there. You know? Well drive that road over two bridges, and then drive past the cell phone tower and make an immediate left when you see a red dirt driveway. It's gonna be the 5th mailbox you see." Oh my gosh! I can't handle directions like that. I honestly don't have a clue where in the world I'm supposed to be going when given those types of directions. I don't remember the color of the house. I don't ever look behind people's houses to see if there's a barn there. I can't keep track of how many bridges I've crossed or mailboxes I've seen. I'm just not that observant.

I have to make myself notice things. I mentioned that there is quite a bit of change going on right now. The first major change is that somehow, overnight, when I wasn't looking, my baby boy turned into a toddler. He zipped through the walking stage rather quickly and moved onto bigger and better things: Running, climbing, spinning in circles, walking backwards, and other physical acrobatics. He's also all of a sudden and very social little person. He waves, blows kisses (when he's in the mood), hugs, high fives, says a few words, follows simple commands, barks at dogs, shakes his head no, throws mini-tantrums, throws balls, and other toddler behavior. He's very normal, but to me he's amazing! I love watching these little changes. Sadly, he's waved bye-bye to his baby years, and is leading full charge ahead into toddlerhood!

Our family will also being changing a bit too. We will be welcoming a new addition to our house very soon. And before you freak out, NO I'm NOT pregnant. It's a dog. Calm down. Don't get too excited. His name is Merrick, and he's a beautiful Sheltie. He's my parent's adorable dog. Merrick will be our foster dog, and he will be calling our house his home for a few years while my dad is in seminary. They will be living in an apartment, so Merrick will have to chill with us for a while. I'm so excited to have him. He's very sweet, good with kiddos, and hopefully will become best buds with our dog, Max. We know Caleb will be pleased to have another playmate!

And the biggest change of all: My family (parents and little sis) are moving from Alaska to New Orleans, LA. Only three hours away! My dad will be attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to finish a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. Rachel, my sister, will be a freshmen at Louisiana College a few hours away. I can't tell you how glad I am to share this news with you. For years I have wished my family was just a little bit closer, and those thoughts have been on my mind even more frequently since I had a child. I'm so pleased that Caleb will have a chance to get to know his other set of grandparents. Skype is great and all, but it's nothing like being in person. My parents have sold the house and are busy packing. They plan to drive from Eagle River to New Orleans and arrive by mid July. It's always been my parent's dream to travel the Alcan (Alaska/Canada highway) and travel down to the Lower 48. (as we Alaskans call the Continental US) Rachel and Merrick will be flying here to stay with our family in a little less than 2 weeks. Rachel was not too thrilled at the idea of 2 weeks on the road with my sightseeing family. Knowing my sweet mom, they will be carrying a Milepost and stopping at every scenic view from AK to LA!

I'm thrilled with all these life changes. Just wanted to share what's going on with all of you. Have a fantastic day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ant Invasion

Ants have invaded our backyard. I found this amazing ant killer. It's Bengal, so you know it's good. It completely kills the nest overnight. All you have to do is dust a little powder over the hill, and Wa-lah! No more ants. Supposedly. However, I think I have some kind of everlasting ant breed living in my backyard. Or maybe they just come back to life, not quite sure. Somehow days after their home has been demolished, they start building a new home a few feet away. In like 2 hours the hill is complete. And I'm talking about a mansion of an ant hill. I wouldn't be surprised if they got some kinda HDTV and a indoor swimming pool in that thing. It's that big. So, I drag out the powder and go after it again.

Well, today I noticed a new hill. My plan was to drop a little powder poison, and then take Caleb inside for his nap. Well, Caleb was not so happy about being asked to come inside. Poor kid didn't play outside at all yesterday and was in desperate need of some quality time in his Cozy Coupe. So, I sat my chair a few feet away from the poison covered ant hill and began reading my book.....

Five minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I see little man sitting contentedly next to me. (See, I was so into my book that I sorta went brain dead on the whole poisoned-ant-mansion next to me.) Probably no more that 2 seconds went by as my brain registered that my child was sitting in an ant hill. Ahhhh! But not fast enough. (You know how when you are in a car wreck time seems to slow down and everything happens in slow motion. That is exactly what happened.) Caleb's chubby little fingers went straight into the white powder, slowly coming up, closer and closer to his face, and OH NO!!!!!!!! My child just stuck ant poison in his mouth!!!!! I jumped up, grabbed the kid, heart pounding. Heart literally about to jump out of my chest as I said "oh no oh no oh no" about a hundred times. I'm sweating. I'm holding back tears. I'm freaking out. I'm standing there thinking, "Is it possible that child services might take away my kid for poisoning him with ant killer and covering his helpless little body in ant bites?" I hoist him up, begin running frantically to the sink, swatting the hundreds of ants that I was sure were crawling all over my baby, biting him to pieces. I stick his entire body into the bathroom sink and turn on the cold water full blast. I begin scrubbing his legs, arms and face. Scooping water into his mouth. I hear little sounds coming from my baby. I'm sure he's about to die. These must be the last sounds he'll ever make. I'm positive that they're helpless, pitifull crying sounds.........Until, I turn down the water, glance at my child, dripping he giggles at his crazy mommy.

Then I check his legs, which a few minutes ago I was sure were covered in hundreds of fire ants, only to find three tiny little bites. I check his mouth for signs of a rash and only see his seven shiny baby teeth. He laughs at me. My 14 month old toddler laughs at me. My heart begins to slow down, and all I can do is laugh right along with him. "Sorry Caleb, your mommy's a big dramatic."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Piece of Paper

Graduation is in the air! Frantic seniors are rushing to fill out last minute paperwork, applications, and finals. Their mamas tear up at every completed step. "Oh, my baby got her senior portraits. Oh, my baby addressed her last invitation. Oh, my baby finished her last final. Oh, my baby got her cap and gown. Oh, my baby is growing up." Their little siblings carefully plot the best possible use of the soon-to-be-empty bedroom. Their dads give last minute life lessons: how to balance a checkbook, how to check the oil, how to change a tire, how to beat off college boys with a stick. :-) Yes, graduation is here again!

This year is a pretty important year for my family. My younger sister is graduating. As the youngest of four, she has patiently waited her turn to leave the nest and is very ready and excited. She graduated on Wednesday, and although I couldn't be there, I was cheering from 5000 miles away for my baby sis.

I have been to quite a few graduations in my life. The graduates parade into the auditorium dressed in their cap and gown as moms begin to grab the tissue. Pretty but usually pretty boring music plays for what seems like an eternity. Especially if your graduating class was close to 500 like mine.A well respected teacher or community member gives a motivational speech. The class valedictorian gives a speech as well. And then eventually everyone gets up, walks to the front, tries desperately not to fall, and accepts a piece of paper.

It's funny that all this hype is over a piece of paper. The paper says that you worked hard for a designated amount of years and earned a designated amount of credits toward your education. And without that paper you can't continue your education or obtain a good job. But it's not really about the piece of paper is it? So what's graduation about?

I think it signifies a new step, a new season of life. It's a celebration of the past and looking forward to the future. When I accepted that piece of paper in May of 2003, I didn't have a clue what to expect. I was so excited and nervous and sad and happy all at the same time. It all worked out though. I had some difficult experiences and many wonderful ones. I believe that God directed my path, and I am confident He will do the same for the graduates that follow Him. Lance and I have talked with many high school seniors about thier plans and worries for the future. They worry (and so did I) about following God's plan and God's will for thier life. We, as humans, think we have to have it all figured out. We want step 1, 2, 3, and 4 to fall easily in place. We want to see the entire picture, and we want to be confident that God will back us up in the path that we have chosen.....I don't think it works that way though. God doesn't hand us a blueprint or a step by step manual for our lives. I think He doesn't do that for a reason. Planning is a good thing. It helps direct our lives, our goals, and our futures. But, planning is not all there is to it. God never commanded us to plan. He commanded us to trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6

I'm so proud of the graduates in my life, my sister Rach-h, my nephew-in-law Brett, and our students here in George County. Trust God. Follow all the commands that He has written in His Word. Everything else will fall into place. Enjoy your time to celebrate. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for your future!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hanging with the 65+ crowd

Today, I ate good. Really, really good. I went to the monthly Senior Adult Lunch at my church.

As most of you know, I'm not a senior adult. I'm 25 actually. But being the youth minister's wife definitely has it's perks. One being the fact that you have an open invitation to just about every event the church has to offer. Also, since I live in the parsonage, which is about a 2 minute walk from the church, it's really convenient for me to just zip on over for a little while. Well, I say 2 minutes walk- technically it takes about 10 because I have an independent little toddler who wants to walk everywhere! And 1 of my steps equals about 5 of his. Plus we have to stop to notice the birds, the ants, the trees and the flowers! Anyways, so I attended the Senior Adult Lunch. Senior adults are awesome.

Here are my top 5 reasons to hang with the 65+ crowd.

1. They cook amazing- I'm taking about dishes filled to the brim with perfectly seasoned home-grown vegetables, homemade rolls, delightful chicken casseroles, pasta dishes, and rich/sugary/gooey/delicious desserts.

2. They like to teach.- Most senior adults like to pass on things that they know how to do well. Ask them for their recipe and not only will they write it down for you, but they'll also tell you the tips and tricks to make it just right. (The stuff you'll never get from a Betty Crocker cookbook!) My husband has really enjoyed working with older men. Lance asks them to show him how to do building projects or electrical work. He has learned so much and is quickly becoming a handyman!

3. They adore children.- Well, most of them. I have come across a few elderly ladies and gentlemen that give me dirty looks because my kid is too loud but for the most part this is true. I am sorta on the shy side, but conversation is easy when you have a cute toddler. All Caleb has to do is give them a little grin and a wave, and they love him! Caleb is always a hit with the over 60 crowd.

4. They are wise.- Most things that I struggle with, an elderly lady has too. She can sympathize and give advice of how she overcame obstacles. Yes, I know that some senior ladies tell long, long stories, but trust me it's worth it to listen.

5. They want to know about us.- Older people grew up in a very different world than we do today, but that doesn't mean they hate our world. Some embrace it and jump at the chance to learn something new, even to the point of texting with their grandchildren or catching up with the world on facebook. However some senior adults, don't understand our fast, high tech toys and tools. But, this afternoon Lance talked for close to an hour with a man who is interested in learning to email but is unsure about how to set it up.

I think it is sad that young people don't spend time with older people. We are quick to judge them, pointing out their boring music, outdated technology, and old-fashioned values. Just as I'm sure you have, I have met some elderly people that did not posses many of the qualities I have mentioned. But that doesn't mean we should give up on the whole generation. If you met a 23 year old who was a jerk, would you stop spending time with all 23 year olds? Of course not, that would be ridiculous.

Titus 2:3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers of addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (emphasis mine)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Most Important Story I Will Ever Tell

I like things to be simple. The Bible is complicated sometimes. There are so many stories that it can be overwhelming at time. This blog is my attempt to simplify the story of Jesus in my mind, and hopefully yours as well. If you know Jesus, maybe it will be a good refresher. If you don't....just check it out. At the very least, you'll hear a pretty amazing story. His story.

At first there was nothing. Then God made the world, and He made everything in it too. He made a man. Next, He made a helper for the man, called woman. Their names were Adam and Eve. God put Adam in charge of a very special and beautiful garden called Eden. Adam and Eve could eat anything they wanted to in this fantastic garden, except for one tree. God told them not to eat from this one tree, or they would die. God gave them a choice to obey. They chose to disobey. Satan, the deceiver, tempted Eve to eat fruit from the tree, and she fell into the temptation and sinned. She gave some to her husband, Adam, and he sinned too. It may not seem like such a big deal to you. Yeah, it's just fruit right? See, the problem was that they disobeyed. Anything that we do that disobeys God is sinful. And sin and God don't mix. God is perfect, so sin is just not a part of Him. Sin equals death. Adam and Eve were warned that if they ate that fruit, they would face death. The death was not immediate. They didn't fall flat on their faces dead the moment the fruit touched their mouths. The fruit wasn't poisonous. The disobedience, the sin, was the death factor. They were sent away from the special garden and away from God. At that point, sin became a part of the world. Every one that has lived has sinned. In fact, they were born with a sinful nature. As humans, we desire to do sinful, selfish things. That's where our big problem comes in. The sin problem.

Time passes. Adam and Eve have children. Their children have children. Sin continues to be a big problem. It just gets bigger and bigger. It gets so bad in fact that God decides to destroy the earth by a flood, leaving only a few good people to repopulate the world. I'm sure you've heard that story: Noah and the Ark. So Noah and his family repopulate the world. But remember like I mentioned before, people have a sinful nature so sin was still a problem. But God had a plan.

God had a plan for a man named Abram. (Who his name later gets changed to Abraham.) God promised Abraham that he would make his family into a great nation and that his family would be blessed. Abraham's family's story is very interesting, and if you have never read it I encourage you to check it out, starting in Genesis 12. But for times sake, and for the sake of my fingers who get worn out after too much typing, I'll summarize. God gave Abraham everything He promised. A great big family tree and wonderful blessings. God renamed one of Abraham's grandson's Israel. (His given name was Jacob.) Israel/Jacob had a whole bunch of sons, and they became known as the 12 tribes of Israel aka: the Israelites. Those people were known as God's chosen people. God gave them a special land, called the promised land and they were successful in many ways. However, they went through a lot of struggles. Many of these struggles, they brought on themselves because they still had that sin problem, and a lot of times they were disobedient to God.

Another important man in this story is named Moses. Moses was a leader of the Israelites. He helped lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. God also chose to give Moses commands and laws to share with the people. These laws were given so that the people could deal with their sin problem. The laws would help them be holy. The people were taught how to receive forgiveness from their sin. Remember we said that sin equals death. They had to make sacrifices to atone for their sin.

Many, many years passed. The Israelites were still God's chosen people. They had their glory days when everything was going great. They conquered other nations, they had wealth beyond measure, they had wonderful leaders. Unfortunately, along with the glory days, they had some not-so-fantastic days as well. Evil kings, famine, idol worship, poverty, and a split kingdom. Many more years passed. They were still God's chosen people.

I used to wonder about why the Israelites were God's chosen people. What makes them so special? Why did God give them good land? Why did He allow them to conquer all these nations? I am not biblical scholar, but I think I am beginning to understand. See, remember that guy Abraham? He was promised a great nation and promised to be blessed. I doubt Abraham really understood the blessing that he was going to receive. But a big, huge part of his blessing was to be the great, great, great, great, great, great....great......great......great granddad of the Man who was going to solve the sin problem.

That man was Jesus. I assume that you've heard the Christmas story. You know about the manger, the virgin, the wise men so I won't go into great detail. (If not you can find all about it starting in Luke 1.) Jesus is God's Son. He is also God. So, as we said, God is perfect. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. Sin equals death. Since He had no sin, He didn't deserve death. However, all of humanity does.

God's plan was this: The perfect Jesus, took our place. He took the punishment for sin, even though He was sinless. Because of Jesus' sacrifice our sins can be forgiven and our hearts can be clean. That is exactly what Jesus did. He was killed by crucifixion, one of the most painful ways to die. If you read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) you can read all about the events that led up to Jesus' death. His teaching, miracles, and ministry. Then about His friend, Judas, betraying Him and handing Him over to the people who wanted Him dead. It's a really sad story. But, the story gives me hope because it was all in God's plan all along. In fact, if you look back in the Old Testament there were prophets who foretold the events surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

So, Jesus died. Most people's stories end at their death. The cool thing about Jesus' story is that His death was when things really started happening! He was dead. Then he was alive again! Seriously. Literally, alive again. Over 500 people got to see Him, and historical documents besides the Bible tell about His resurrection. People touched Him too. And he ate. So, He was really alive. No ghost or anything weird going on here. Literally alive again. Cool huh? (I realize this is getting long. Sorry, I'm really trying to summarize. There is just so much to tell. Hang in there. we're almost through!)

After spending 40 days hanging out with His disciples and basically letting other people know He was really alive, He goes to heaven. He commands His disciples and followers to tell others about Him, and He explains that He will come back one day. No one really knows when He's going to come back. But, we do know that when He does it will be for judgement. Followers of God will have the reward of eternal life with our perfect God. Those who do not follow Jesus, will face the punishment of death, and eternal separation from God in Hell, a horrible, painful place. Because remember, sin equals death. The only way that followers get out of facing that terrible consequence is because Jesus took away our sin by dying in our place.

I know some people that read my blog, know all this very well. If you do, awesome. But if you are wondering so how do I end up becoming a follower of God, I can simply say: Your relationship with God can start with a prayer and a commitment. You have to tell God that you believe in Him and believe that Jesus is God's son. You have to admit that you have a sin problem, and you need his forgiveness and sacrifice. Then you have to commit your life to Him. This isn't just a quick little prayer that you say and then forget all about it. This is a life commitment. Everything about you will change. You still won't be perfect because remember, humans have that sinful nature. But, you will want to serve Him and follow Him. And most importantly, you will be His child.