Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blessings in 2013

Year 2013 will end much the same way it began – in a quaint little cabin atop the beautiful Smoky Mountains. This is becoming quite the tradition for us! 2013 was a much calmer year following a very eventful 2012. But before I begin our year in review, I would like to reflect for a moment on how monumental 2013 has been for my career. In January 2013, I began a new job and loved everything about it – from my precious patients, their parents, and every single one of my co-workers. There was no doubt that God had led me here using the people he had placed in my life. Which is why when I was offered my dream job at the end of July, it was more difficult that I had imagined. But it was very evident that God was leading me there, the same way he had led me here. So I packed up my second job with all of its memories and knowledge gained and walked into my third – as a therapist in our local school system. I am blessed every day by the children I work with – children who face circumstances and struggles that I have never known. There is no doubt God placed me here for a reason. And I know that I learn as much from them as they from me. It would be just fine with me if God would leave me here for awhile! 

Okay, so as I mentioned we had a pretty laid back year. A few milestones reached, travels to some of our favorite cities, celebrations and quality time with friends and loved ones. Looking back at our year to write this, I am overcome with joy! I am in awe of God’s goodness to us,  much more than we deserve. May we always seek to honor him!

We started the year with some renovations to our house. We replaced the outdated linoleum kitchen floors with a beautiful porcelain tile, ripped up carpet throughout the house and put it wooden flooring, plastered and painted over the wood paneling in the living room, and gave the kitchen and living room new paint colors. I wasn’t good at taking pictures during this time but here are a few of the kitchen.

 In March, Avery Mae turned one! We almost lost her this year but glad God allowed us to keep her – she brings us so much happiness.

We made two separate trips to Dallas/Fort Worth – one in May and one in July – and Andrew took me to my first MLB game! Go Rangers!


In July we went on our annual Young family beach vacation which was heavily rained out but we still had fun!

We came home to find out that Andrew’s parents’ mare had a pony! That we were not expecting! Surprise! 

In August I began my dream job!

In September we celebrated our first anniversary in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

We also became landowners where we hope to build within the next two years!

In October we visited New Orleans, and I went to my first NFL game.. Geaux Saints!

We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Mississippi.

And Christmas at home... with the flu.

We were just thankful to be well yesterday to travel and meet my family in Tennessee to have Christmas with them and ring in the New Year!

We are looking forward to a wonderful 2014! 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Christmas to Remember

We decided to spend Christmas at home this year with Andrew's family since we will be spending the week after Christmas with my parents in the Smoky Mountains. It would have been great, but Andrew got sick Christmas Eve with the flu and didn't feel well on Christmas. Then the day after Christmas I got sick too, so we have spent most of the time since Wednesday night in the bed. Actually, most of Andrew's family was sick too, so it is definitely a Christmas we will remember! I realized I didn't take many pictures on Christmas this year - most of the ones I have are in the few days leading up to Christmas - and ones I snapped on my cell phone.

We had Christmas with Andrew's grandparents the Sunday before Christmas and most of us were still well then.

Santa visited Andrew early this year and brought him a Ranger. He has been wanting one of these for a long time! Avery loves it too!

A few months ago, our church started the Heart to Home ministry that many churches are already involved in. We get together once a month with four "heart moms"/older women without children still in their homes and lots of "heart sisters"/younger women single, married with or without kids. At our December meeting with painted Christmas platters - being the perfectionist that I am, I didn't finish mine that night- so the second picture is the final product! I absolutely love how it turned out!

We did make it to the Christmas Eve service at our church before Andrew started feeling too bad. It is one of my favorite traditions. Even before I met Andrew I used to go to the Christmas Eve service with my family. It is such a sweet reminder of the reason for the season - and I love celebrating Christ's birth with so many of our friends and family.

 The Christmas tree was full at Andrew's parents house Christmas morning. We have more than we deserve.

And the mess left over afterwards...

 And finally... Andrew & I got a new sister-in-law for Christmas this year! His brother, Christopher, proposed to his girlfriend Emily in New York over Christmas! We are so excited for them and ready to celebrate in July!

Sorry for the randomness and shortness of this post! I am still in the bed recovering! Hope you and yours had a wonderful and healthy Christmas this year! May God bless you!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas

 We are now approaching our second married Christmas and although I didn't expect to still be in our "starter" home, I enjoyed adding lots of new decorations this year and hope to continue to add new things every year! We have done alot of renovations since last Christmas including new floors, new paint, and a few new pieces of furniture here and there. Our goal is to be in our new house by Christmas 2016 -- we will begin building around Christmas 2015 if all goes as planned. Anyway, here is this year's cozy abode.

My wonderful husband built this coffee table for me -- I love it but haven't gotten decorations for it just yet.

And this year's Christmas card.. although we had taken several pictures when we were in Punta Cana that I thought I would use for our Christmas card, I decided we couldn't have a Christmas card without our precious Avery. So I used a picture we took at my parents on Thanksgiving and then put our picture from Punta Cana on the back. I think they turned out great. I used www.minted.com and have never been disappointed with anything I have ordered from them!

 And another picture from Thanksgiving just because :) We have so much to be thankful for!

Hope you and yours are enjoying the beginning of the Christmas season! I pray that we all may have the power to understand the greatness of Christ's love - how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is (Ephesians 3:18) and to spread his love in tangible ways to those around us!

Much love!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Punta Cana {First} Anniversary

We spent our first anniversary in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – it was the perfect vacation and completely opposite of our honeymoon. We spent our honeymoon in Maui and we packed our week full of activities, wanting to enjoy everything the island had to offer. Our honeymoon was fabulous but this year we decided to do absolutely nothing but lay on the beach and relax.. and that is exactly what we did. It was perfect to just refresh and enjoy each other. We are so thankful to have had this opportunity. We know that as the years go by, life will just get busier and we want to take advantage of the time we have now to just get away and focus on our relationship.

Arriving in the Dominican...

We stayed at the Excellence Resort and I would definitely recommend it. The grounds were beautiful and the staff was amazing and so very generous. The only tricky part was getting from the airport to the hotel. We had arranged a taxi transport service prior but we had no idea that it was a little over an hour drive to the resort. We left the airport in a taxi with a Spanish-speaking driver (neither of us know much Spanish) and had no idea where we were going. We drive for about 30 minutes before our driver pulls off on the side of the road by a rundown stand? fruit market? Andrew looks at me and in an attempt to make me laugh says "Have you ever seen the movie Taken?" - at the time that was not funny. I was a little scared to be honest - I felt completely at the mercy of this stranger to take me where I needed to go. After a few minutes he got back in the car with two cokes, a bottled water, and a bag of chips and handed it all to us but one coke for himself. What a relief and I felt extremely grateful for his small act of kindness - proof that kindness can surpass even language barriers. 

I'm going to back track a little, but as we drove through the streets of Punta Cana (which got worse the further from the airport), I was reminded how blessed I am to live in America. Where nice roads and clean houses are too often taken for granted. I wish I had taken more pictures during the drive but at the time I was a little too nervous. Looking back one thing sticks in my mind. Every one I saw was doing something productive. From the crews working to build new roads to the lady sweeping the dirt floor of her fruit stand, no one seemed to be sitting around waiting on someone else to get things done. The more I think about that, the more it saddens me that although we have so much in America, we have become complacent. We are too "settled" with the way things are. We should never stop trying to make it better. 

Okay, so back in Punta Cana. When we got married we had a sign at the entrance to the church that said "Choose a seat, not a side" - we had written it on a chalkboard and I kept it. We took the same chalkboard with us and wrote "1 year" on it. My plan is for us to take a picture with it every year on our anniversary - I don't know if we will always remember - but I will always treasure these we took on this trip.

On the night of our anniversary we had dinner at The Lobster House. Our waiter was so generous and brought us a bag of Dominican coffee as a gift, as well as whipped up a heart from towel napkins and sprinkled it with rose petals to decorate our table. I fell in love with the Dominican people - they were such happy, generous people.

Each night there was special entertainment, but on Monday night they fixed an extravagant dinner and set it up on the beach. It was a beautiful night.

Other pictures from around the resort. There were two pools but our favorite was the cascade pool - where there were lounge chairs in a shallow part of the pool. It was the best idea ever. Especially considering the heat there - I only thought Louisiana was hot and humid.

And I just couldn't leave without taking a few more pictures of us on the beach. There was a wedding our last night there and we took advantage of the wedding gazebo.

Happy first anniversary to my sweet husband! Thanks for taking me on this trip - I will forever cherish the memories we made! Ready to see what the next year brings!