Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hello 2010...

First of all, I need to begin with apologizing for how incredibly awful my blog looks! Eek. I tried to change it up and obviously did a botched job. Shealy, can you help me when I get back to Auburn?

Next, I'm sort of "skipping over" Christmas because my camera is with Justin in Mexico and that is where my pictures are...

Lastly, I wanted to leave a sort of tribute to 2009. It was our first full year of marriage, a time when we learned a lot about ourselves, what it means to put God at the center of a marriage, and we have made a lot of wonderful memories! So, here it goes...

At the beginning of 2009, Justin and I came back to Auburn ready for a new year with one another. We were recharged from a great Christmas break and still very much learning what it meant to be "newly weds". Over the course of the next few months, we began praying over where God would have us, if we should purchase a home or continue to rent, and preparing for a tough 10 weeks of Justin being gone doing research. We enjoyed a lot of fun times together, doing things we enjoy like working out, jogging, watching movies, and ready several good books.

In March, the Fab 5 had our 1 annual beach retreat weekend in OIB which was wonderful! Justin and I actually really love our car rides together because all you can really do is sing and talk, so it's a great time to "catch up" and talk about in depth things..something that is easy to put off when you have the distractions of t.v. and internet after work every evening.

The spring came and went very quickly and before we new it, it was the first weekend of May and Justin was off to the Outer Banks of NC to begin his first field season. Though our last weekend was eventful and I had a blast celebrating Martha's Bachelorette Weekend in Wilmington and spending time with Jillian, the next 10 weeks would be very trying emotionally, as well as rewarding in seeing how much God provides!

May went by quickly with school ending and my new position of assistant volleyball coach began. I really enjoyed seeing the progress my students had made over the course of my first year teaching and I definitely felt like I had learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to be a teacher. Over Memerial Day I spent time with the Thomas' at Lake Martin and summer officially began. I decided to teach summer school to give me something to do during the mornings, as well as make a little extra money, so that's what I did. My daily routine turned into school from 8-11, lunch, work out, time at the pool, and the relaxation. I quickly began to see how lonely one can get living by themselves and being off for the summer! Thankfully, I had amazing friends to step up and invite me into their homes, often nightly, allowing me to feel like a part of their families. God truly provided for me!

During this time, Justin was working hard growing a grungy beard and collecting scat, being chased by bears and living with mice, seriously! Our new marriage consisted of frequent phone calls and emails. The old addage goes, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

As I read great books, became obsessed with Pilates and The Shred, and officially had my own room at other married couples homes, June quickly came and went and it was time for me to head to NC for a whole month! During this time, I was able to celebrate in the weddings of Beth and Lam and Marth and Tom, as well as have 2 family vacations, 1 with my family in Tennessee and one with Justin's family at Holden Beach. Justin also celebrated his 23 birthday and we celebrated our first anniversary while in Wilmington! We enjoyed a night on the town eating at Slice of Life where we had our first date and ending with dessert at the Little Dipper!

Before we could leave NC, we had to pick up our first addition to our family, sweet Mason. What a ride that has been! We finally returned to AL to move into our new house (which God opened up to us to RENT, not buy), with a lot more room and a nice yard for Mason to play in. My new school year began and so did volleyball season.

August-October truly is a whirlwind. With tournaments on the weekends and often 2-3 games a week, Justin and I quickly learned about prioritizing things in our marriage and I also learned a lot about putting my teaching and coaching in perspective. I loved this season however, getting to know the girls, seeing them improve and challenge themselves, and making great friends in my fellow coaches! (I also celebrated my 24th birthday as well as having family visit a few times that fall. We also enjoyed the changing of seasons and of course, FOOTBALL SEASON!)

As fall really began, life finally began to slow down a bit for the Dellinger house hold. Justin and I have continued to challenge one another in God's Word, as well as learn a lot about ourselves and how to love God first, then our spouses. It tends to work a lot better that way. As 2009 has quickly came to a close, we have enjoyed spending holidays with family and friends and being reminded of how faithful God is. During a time of economical uncertainty, we have stable jobs, good health, and new life lessons we are learning every day.

I don't believe in saying that 1 particular season of life is best, for that season will indeed be the best. Every season has it's ups and downs, it's hard times, and it's wonderful times, and 2009 is a year to remember. Justin and I have shared many memories and a year full of lessons I hope to carry through out the rest of our lives. Indeed, hello 2010!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I can not believe it's already Christmas time. I've been teaching my students about different traditions and religions this month and it's been so neat to go over what everyone is celebrating this time of year. We have discussed the smells of Christmas such as pine, cinnamon, and peppermint. We have gone over symbols of Christmas such as trees, lights, nativity scenes, gifts, and poinsettias. And, of course ,we've talked about our favorite sounds of Christmas like the ringing of bells at all the shopping centers and Christmas songs being played in our favorite stores and on the radio.

Personally, my favorite Christmas tradition growing up was our car ride to Mamaw and Papaw's house. We always left from Mimmie and Pawpaw's house. We would usually eat breakfast with them and Pawpaw would check my Daddy's oil and he and Mimmie would stand on the front porch waving good bye, no matter how cold, until we were out of sight. The 6 hour drive would begin for the Lamb family, off to Tennessee. We would usually fight over calling Mamaw and telling her we were on our way. We would sing Christmas carols and play car games and Momma, Jill, and I would have girl snuggling time while Daddy and Zach navigated in the front. Though we tended to almost always have a family fight during that long car ride, I always loved that part of Christmas!

Justin and I have started our own Dellinger traditions! We decorate the day we get back from Thanksgiving with our families and we try and attend all the Christmas festivities at church. We also have been lighting candles on the mantle and turning off all the lights in the living room but the tree at night and snuggling with each other and Mason. It's so nice and peaceful! We also have Christmas goodies we are planning to make for family and friends.

I can not post all this about traditions without discussing the most important part of Christmas, the birth of our Savior. The community of Forestdale, near our house, has Bible verses displayed in everyone's front yard with a beautiful Navity painting in the middle of the community! How could we celebrate family, friends, gifts and all the wonderful things about this time of year without recognizing Jesus Christ, our Lord and His birthday. What a precious gift we have been given and what a wonderful time of year we have to celebrate with the people we love the most!

This really is the most wonderful time of year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So Much to be Thankful For...

Us Girls
Jill after Mason ate her cake...

The damage...

We had such a nice Thanksgiving break this year. With Justin having the whole week off with the University, I went ahead and took advantage of my personal days and took Monday and Tuesday off. We were able to spend the whole week at home! Justin and I made it to my parents house around 1:00 am Saturday morning and were exhausted. We didn't get a lot of sleep due to Mason stirring around quite a bit since he was in a new place. But, we woke up Saturday and Justin and Zach took Mason over to Uncle Dave's to play while Mom, Jill, and I went with Jill to get her hair done and get lunch at our favorite restaurant, Something Different. It was so great to finally just be around the table talking and giggling with my Mom and sister. After lunch we went home to cook and got ready for our big Thanksgiving Celebration at church. This was when Mason decided to take advantage of Jill's Italian Cream Cake cooling on the counter...needless to say, he had a tummy ache! It was so funny though!

On Sunday, we enjoyed a very nice service at my Dad's church, which is growing in wonderful ways, and had a great meal. No one even noticed that Mason had nibbled on the ends of the cake once we iced it, haha!

Over the next few days we continued to enjoy catching up with family and friends, including Jillian playing little nurse and checking all of our blood pressures and our blood sugar.

When were were at the Dellinger's, we continued to enjoy family! We are so blessed to have wonderful Christian homes with families that love us! Thank you Lord...we could not ask for more!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Longing: sa trong, persistent desire or craving, esp. for something unattainable or distant

This definition definitely describes my feeling for my family right now. My thoughts go to how Dad and Zach are doing at their new jobs, how cute Jillian must look in her scrubs, and how I can't wait to feel my Mom's arms hugging me....Whew...I am longing!

As I was thinking about this last night, it reminded me of how I should long to be with my Savior. Not necessarily in a morbid way by not enjoying life and living it to the fullest, but simply longing for my time with Him. Just like I can't wait for Friday night or to see Justin every afternoon, I often do not "long" for my quiet times, my walks to the park, or to worship on Sunday mornings. It has been a good reminder to be thankful for the time I do have with my family, but to also remember to spend quality time with my Lord every day. I long to see His face, to worship Him, to live to please Him alone.

I am longing...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I can't emphasize enough how much I love this time of year. The smell of pumpkin and spice, the colors or oranges, deep red, browns, and yellows, sipping hot apple cider, the football games, having a nice chill in the mornings, but it feeling great in the afternoons...the list goes on and on. I also feel that it allows me to anticipate the holidays coming up! One of my favorite things is Justin and my tradition of carving pumpkins. Since we started dating in October of 2006, we have carved a pumpkin every year. This year, we were able to enjoy this tradition with Brittany, Karibi, Katie, the Busbins, the Freemans. The pumpkin turned out really cute and it looks great on our front step! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Wow, I turned 24 today! I woke up to a sweet husband cuddling me and giving me my first birthday wishes then to my sweet puppy giving me birthday kisses. My day followed with Boof calling first, then Momma, then Coach Jan and the texts, emails, cards and calls continued. My wonderful co-workers and students had cupcakes, brownies, and gifts and Rebecca brought me a pumpkin filled with Jelly Bellys! What a wonderful day to have a field trip! We went to the pumpkin patch, which we all LOVED! I feel so special and am excited to celebrate with dinner and a movie tonight with Justin!

Justin surprised me early with my 2nd wedding band to finalize my set! It looks beautiful! Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes and made me feel so special today!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mason's Vet Visit

So, yesterday Mason and I had an adventure trying to get to the vet. I got home from work and poor Mason was really hot from being in his pin all day. I thought I would be sweet and go ahead and turn the car on to get the air going nice and cool. I get Mason into the car, close the door, and realize I LOCKED THE KEYS IN THE CAR, RUNNING, WITH MASON IN THE CAR! Oh goodness! I was frantic. I ran to our neighbors' house, who happens to be a mechanic. His wife called him and he came home from work and luckily got into the car in less than 2 minutes. I was so relieved and sweet Mason was just chillin' in front of the air. However, on the way home from the vet, Mason must have decided he was mad at me because he puked in my front seat on my new sunglasses! Sweet, sweet puppy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup

So, I was brain storming about some of our favorite things to eat and I put some things together and here's what I got. Justin and I both LOVE Velveeta cheese and he loves Rotel. I love noodles and soup, so we put these together, plus some chicken and veggies and we got Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup. It is SOOOO yummy! I think it's one of our new fall favorites! ENJOY!

-1 lb cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces
-1 can Rotel with chilis
-1 can corn
-2 cans cream of chicken soup (98% fat free)
-1 1/2 cup chicken broth
-1 small package of Velveeta cheese, cubed (I use the one with 2% milk)
-1 package of whole wheat egg noodles, cooked and drained

Add all ingredients to a crockpot. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Don't cook on 2-3 hours on high. The high heat will burn the cheese.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sweet Surrender

"And I'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe, of the one who made it all. I'll stand, my heart Lord, to You surrendered, all I have is You!"

This song is truly my prayer right now. As many of you know, I am "Type A" personality through and through and I have things planned perfectly. I love to make lists and to check things off. I have my Christmas list by September and our summer plans are finalized by March. Though this can be looked at as a good thing, when it comes to letting go of my own control and let God have HIS way, I sometimes have a death grib on my plans.

I am learning that His way is certainly better than mine. My plan, once Justin and I got married, was for Justin and I to live in Auburn for 3 years, move back to NC for Justin to attend NC State or Duke for his Ph. D., begin "trying" to get pregnant, and to continue toward settling down. Well, God has really been revealing that I have to let go. My soul is in turmoil as I think about not being close to home when starting a family, but I think of the many women who have followed their husbands to the foreign mission field to have families and for Justin to go to Virginia Tech or Colorado State certainly is not that big of a deal. God has also been showing me the importance of my family's personal mission field. Justin, being in conservation science, is often the only lone Christian on a team of researchers. He has been able to share his faith in unbelievable ways. I often discount this as Justin's mission field because he has not gone to seminary and not had an official "call into the ministry". However, God has greatly blessed him with a powerful mind and a love for the environment and animals (in a healthy way) and he uses that to bring glory to our Father.

There is the question about children??? With my Mom and grandmother's history of cancer and womanly infections, both were no longer to bear children after the young age of 34. (My grandmother was 27.) I have "my plan" saying this is when I want children, but could it be when I get to "my time" God would say, "if only you had trusted me. I told you to trust me, that I would provide daycare and diapers, but you said it wasn't your time, and now you can't have children. Why did you wait child?" There is always wisdom needed in all decisions. I believe that "If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the desires of your heart." (Galations 5:16). God is also not the author of confusion and He will show Justin and I when we need children, if at all, but I have to be willing to say, ok, maybe will be sooner or later than what I thought. God is so much bigger than my plan!

I often say "I know my own plans, thanks God" rather than resting on the truth that "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to protect and preserve you." Would it be better for me to live where I want, but in misery because it's not what God wanted, or to go willingly to somewhere I never imagined and God use us as a family in ways I never thought could be? Jonah didn't want to go to Ninevah and God certainly got his attention. God had his plan far long before I came to be and He created me to fulfill a certain purpose in His plan. Am I willing to go? I hope so...I am learning about sweet surrender.

Lord, please help me to come to you with open hands and a willing heart. You have a plan for our family. Please help me to be still long enough to listen to your quiet voice and go wherever You would lead. I want to rest in the shadow of your wings. Glorious One, You are God, worthy of praise, and I am nothing without You. May Your will be done...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mason's New Picture

Mason has grown so much and has really become a huge part of our family. Justin and I take turns getting up early each morning to walk him and it's become a family routine to walk him every night. He has house trained really well (knock on wood) and Justin and I are so thankful we've added him to the Dellinger household. He has already mastered the commands of sit, down, and come. We're working on lay and I would like to do "shake" just because it's cute. Justin says that's not really necessary. When we got sweet Mason he was only 8 lbs and now at 4 months today, he's at 26 lbs! Good think I don't gain almost 20 lbs in 2 months! We love "our boy" so much!

Yard Work

This is at our back door, which is what most people use to come in. We have since added some stones and brick to finalize it!
Coming around the corner...I can't wait to see birds in the spring.

My favorite part, our beautiful magnolia tree. I love this!

Our new flower garden by the kitchen door. We are going to add brick around this as well, but we've got to wait until Thanksgiving to get brick from Mamaw Mart's. Notice sweet Mason in the back ground. :)

We had a wonderful weekend with Justin's grandparents. We were able to get so much done in our yard and it looks really great! I really love this time of year and I am so excited to see how our new fall flowers brighten up our yard! Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

All teachers enjoy...

This was an email sent to me by my good friend Beth. If you teach, you will surely enjoy it...

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said: 'Let me see if I've got this right.'You want me to go into that room with all those kids,correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dresshabits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning. 'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride. 'You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how toregister to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job. 'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardlessof their disabilities, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card. 'You want me to do all this with a dry erase board and marker, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps. 'You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN'T PRAY?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Brownie Points

Since Justin and I got married, we have learned quite a bit from one another. We each have our own quirks and we are continuing to learn what makes it each tick. One of my personal pet peeves is dirty clothes in the floor. I believe there is a place for everything and dirty clothes go in the dirty clothes basket. Justin, however, does not have this deep desire to place things in the appropriate place, especially his dirty clothes. It is a daily routine to find Justin's dirty clothes literally in the middle of our bedroom or bathroom floor. Yesterday morning, annoyed but not mad, I couldn't help myself from asking Justin why his boxers and t-shirt were in the floor. However, he was quite quick and scored some good brownie points. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: "Justin Sweetie, if you can give me one good reason why your clothes should be in the floor instead of the basket, I will never ask you again."

Justin: "Honestly, I just like to see your fine tail bend over."

I laughed so hard I almost peed my self.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yellow Jackets

Ok, so on Sunday Justin and I woke up to a GORGEOUS Sunday morning and we were going to take Mason on a job before going to church. While sitting in the floor putting on my shoes with Mason, I heard a buzzing noise. I looked up and saw 2 yellow jackets. I went ahead and swatted them with my shoe. I opened to blinds to see a few more. I felt that this was strange and called Justin into the sunroom/Mason's room. We opened the blinds on both windows and there were over 30 yellow jackets at the top of the windows, inside the house! Though they were strangely calm and not trying to sting/bite us, we went ahead and "Raid"'ed the room. This entailed having to mop the floors and clean the windows since Raid can poison dogs and that's where Mason sleeps. Needless to say, we missed preaching and only made it to Sunday School since we were dealing with this invasion of yellow jackets.

Since then, we have found a few buzzing here and there. Justin sealed the windows extra tight and we can not figure out where these things are coming from! Does anyone have any suggestions? Fortunately, we are able to close all doors from the sunroom to the rest of the house so they're only in that one room, but it's still strange and quite a nuisance....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Playing with Mason

We are loving our sweet boy! He is very playful and loves hanging out with Justin. He is a great runner and doesn't even need a leash for him to run along with him. I am so thankful we have added him to our family!

One week down...

Wow, I can't believe how quickly the summer went and now the first week of school is already over. It's crazy how things zoom by! I am so excited about the school year! I have a wonderful group of students and I'm eager to try new things with them. I'm also really looking forward to being the assistant volleyball coach! Jan, Mindi, and Abby (the other coaches) have welcomed me to their staff to be each of their assistants as needed (each of them is head coach of varsity, middle, and JV) and I am loving it. Though I do get home later than I'm used to and I have to get up at 5:00 am to work out because I can't go to the gym after practice each day, it's totally worth it!

Justin and I were just talking about how this is our favorite time of year. Since Justin has been in school since he was 5 and so have I, since I started teaching right out of college, our years are defined from August-May and the summers of _____ (fill in the blank with the year). So, Justin's 2nd year in his master's program and my 2nd year teaching has begun! We both love the fall because of the excitement it brings with starting a new school year, the weather cools down, football begins, the leaves begin to change, and everything about fall is simply lovely. The smell of burning leaves, pumpkins, seeing school buses stopping...I love it!

So, now, with one week down, we have 174 more days until the summer of 2010 is here...I'm kidding, I'm really not counting down!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Family Pictures!

The Lambs; Momma, Daddy, Zach, Jillian, Justin and me
The Dellingers 1; Derrick, Gina, Cody, Justin and me

The Dellingers 2-Me and Justin
God has greatly blessed us with wonderful families. It's amazing to see how God is faithful to those who serve Him. Our parents and siblings are reminders of this amazing faithfulness. We were able to share an entire week with Justin's family at Holden Beach, NC a few weeks ago. On Wednesday of that week, my family was able to come and join us. We enjoyed long days at the beach, catching waves and laying out in the sun, and playing games around the dining room table at night. Aside from all the good stuff, I was sick through out most of the week with an "issue". I had to go to the doctor and have some yucky stuff done along with new medications that make you sensitive to the sun! Who wants to be sensitive to the sun at the beach? NOT ME! It worked out fine though and it still was a great week of relaxation and catching up with our families. I love family vacations and 2009 is one to remember!
More Summer pictures are still to come.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


First of all, we have a new addition to our family. To those who don't know, we have a new Plott Hound puppy, Mason! Second, thank you for all who prayed for our little pup. The night we picked up Mason he began vomitting and did not eat for almost 30 hours. At first, attributed it to nerves and being in a new environment, but Justin and I both had a bad feeling, so we took him to the Auburn Vet Hospital. The little guy was so sick, he had a tummy full of worms and he had to stay in the puppy ICU. It was so sad to have to leave him so soon, but he's been home with us since Monday, eats like a horse, and has already almost mastered "come" at only 9 weeks!

We are so happy to have him home! More updates about the last month in NC are yet to come!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weddings, the laughs and the tears...

Natalie and Jeremy Tamer, June 15, 2008
The Dellingers, July 19, 2008

Beth and Lam Armstrong, June 27, 2009

Marth and Tom Shafer, July 11, 2009
Weddings are a beautiful reminder of God's love for his children. As I've watched some of my closest and dearest friends take the hand of their soulmates over the last few weeks, I am reminded of how our Savior pursues us, loves us unconditionally, and gives us His strength to do all things that have been called according to His purpose. We are such weak beings in need of redemption, and God's love pours over us. I find it so interesting how God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, completely and utterly unconditionally, willing to give his life for her. He also commands wives to love their husbands and to be submissive to his authority as we are submissive to God; to trust him to do what is in our best interest. In the year, almost, I've been married, I have realized that marriage is the hardest thing that we will have to work at as humans. It is a daily reminder of our need for grace and His strength. It is also a beautiful example of how God blesses us and wants us to know Him and enjoy Him in all his gifts. I am so thankful to have been a part of these special weddings days as my friends committed their lives to one another and to our Lord.

Aside from a marriage relationship, I think that is it CRUCIAL to have fellowship in every day life. While growing up, God strategically placed people in my life to teach me lessons, hold me accountable, and push me to be a better person. These people certainly included my Momma, my sister, and my grandmother, but it also included people outside of my family. These people may have lasted a short season or for years. I do believe God absolutely uses divine appointments to reveal himself to us. After high school graduation, God gave me a wonderful group of friends whom I am so thankful for. Many young women prayed for me, laughed and cried with me, and we all helped stir one another on in our walks with Jesus. God also gave me a wonderful mother-in-law who is also a friend.

Now, after moving to Auburn, God continues to show His faithfulness in the friendships He allows me to have. I am surrounded by wonderful godly women in my workplace and church. Thank you to each of you who allow God to use you.

We can look at scripture and see the importance of friends. Jesus himself had his most special friends in his disciples, especially in Peter, James and John. Naomi and Ruth were amazingly close and David and Jonathan were the best of friends. God did not create us to be alone. He wants us to have fellowship with him and with others.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Before and After...

BEFORE, the wilderness man has come home with a thick auburn colored beard, his locks curling, and about 8 pounds lighter. As aforementioned in my previous blog, he resembles Noah from "The Notebook" quite a bit...

AFTER, my handsome, wonderful husband after a good shave and hair cut. Wow, what 10 weeks in the woods will do to you...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Updates from NC

I can't believe I've been home for over a week. Much has transpired....I had my reunion with Justin after our 8 week seperation which was wonderful! It is so true, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." When Justin got out of his truck, his auburn colored beard looked like Noah from "The Notebook" and he had lost 10 lbs! For those who know Justin, weight is not something he needs to lose! After he swooped my off my feet we couldn't stop holding hands and being strangely touchy. Usually PDA is something that totally groses us out, but I guess after 8 weeks of absence from one another, we didn't care. Justin and I had a great time with my family, as well as our college friends over the weekend at Lam and Beth's wedding. After a wonderful dinner and dance celebration on Friday night, the girls spent Saturday sprucing up and getting Beth ready for the plunge. She made a breath-taking bride and with over 500 guests watching, said her vows to Lam. It was a simply beautiful ceremony! It was so great to see so many friends from school there to celebrate in this union.

This past week my family and I (Justin had to head back to Manteo for 2 more weeks) have been in Athens, TN visiting my Mamaw and my Mom's family. We spent a lot of time playing board and card games and visiting with one another. There really is no place like home.

This summer has flown by and there are still so many events yet to come! Pictures will be coming very soon!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here Lately...

Nearly 8 weeks have gone by since Justin's been out doing his research. It's gone by quickly, but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime. I have a very high respect for families that have soldiers fighting and people whose husbands have to be away on business constantly. I miss Justin terribly. Though we talk daily, I miss him being here. I miss waking up to him, doing his laundry, praying with him, cooking dinner and simply living life with him. I can not wait to have him home!

However, during this time, I have also learned a lot about being me and trusting God to fill my heart with His love. I have had to rest on the promise that God is enough and that He would bring my husband home safely to me. God has also revealed to me how faithful He is! We have prayed diligently that Justin would not get poison ivey and after 8 weeks in the woods and swamp in hot weather and high humidity, Justin's body is still clean, with the exception of several bug bites. God has also been faithful in providing wonderful friends to be here for me. People have offered their homes to me, invited me for lunch and dinner dates, and days by the pool. Almost daily, I have had encouraging comments whether it be via email, text message, or phone call, telling me that they were here if I needed anything and asking about Justin. For that, I am so thankful. Justin too has seen people's sweet generosity. Friends of ours were vacationing near Justin and took him to dinner, the high light of his time away.

I write all of this to remind people of the importance of a simple word or act of compassion. God has overwhelmed me with the love of Him through His people. It takes only seconds to send someone an email telling them you're thinking of them, or even a few hours to have someone over for dinner. Do not forget that we are called to love people as Jesus did!

Here lately, I have experienced God's love in amazing and different ways. I thank each of you who have been the vessels that were used to show me this beautiful love. I also hope to remember this special time and always offer my hand to those who need to feel Him. It's a beautiful thing to learn more about our Savior. He is forever faithful and worthy of all praise.

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." -Romans 1:8

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Daddy! I have always been a "Daddy's Girl". When my siblings fought over sitting beside Momma, I gladly requested Daddy. Some of my favorite memories of my Dad are him going on my zoo field trip when I was in kindergarten, playing hide and go seek at Mimmie and PawPaw's, seeing him in the stands of ALL my sporting and academic affairs, cheering me on, our many talks about everything, him sitting in the recliner and me on the couch, and him laughing. His laugh is quite contagious. My Dad truly is one of the hardest working men I've ever met and I am very thankful for him in my life. I love you!
I also want to say thank you to my wonderful father-in-law. You helped raise my wonderful husband and I am very thankful that you are in our lives!

*In memory of Paul Lamb (PawPaw) and Tom Brackett (PaPaw). I love you and miss you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Healthy Living

Good morning to all! I have been inspired by my friend Chris to post about my "healthy living" lifestyle. Chris has recently started a new exercise and diet regimen and I thought I would share mine. I really enjoy working out. For many people, exercise is tedious or boring or intimidating, but for me, it's my destresser. I really NEED to walk after many of my days at work. Justin and I also love to do active things. We enjoy walking together, throwing frisbee or football, playing basketball; these are things that we naturally enjoy doing. We have a card game that pushes us to do all sit-ups and crunches. Sitting on the couch watching t.v. is just not something either of us can do for extended periods of time, though, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. Exercise truly is a hobby for our family.

With that said, I also LOVE to cook and cooking healthy is also something I enjoy. I don't really see the point in cooking things in grease when you can use olive oil or using whole milk and cheese when reduced fat is available. I also despise tons of processed food. Again, this is not everyone's opinions, and trust me, I totally get the convenience of it, but our family tries to do it in moderation. Eating whole foods, including lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables just make you feel better! Processed food takes out many of the natural nutrients God put in the ingredients in the first place, so I TRY to stick with as many natural foods as possible. Again, we definitely enjoy our share of Hamburger Helper and granola bars, but again, in moderation.

Please don't get me wrong, I enjoy some doughnuts and some potatoe chips just like everyone else, but we try to do it sparingly. Again, it's a lifestyle that Justin and I are both passionate about. With that said, I definitely want to promote a book that my sweet friend Elizabeth shared with me...In Defense of Food. It's a very interesting and practical read. Definitely look into it.

A main reason why I think eating natural foods is best is because it's not a fad diet. We have all seen the Jenny Craig commercial with Kirsty Ally and bless her heart, she can't stay at a healthy weight. God created certain foods to grow and flourish (fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, yogurt, meats) These all naturally occur in our environment...they were not man made in a factory. With that said, God's way has to be best, right?

I think the most important thing to remember is moderation is key to everything in life. Too much of anything is a bad thing, the old adage goes. So, I do not starve myself, nor do I deny myself. If I want some ice cream, I eat ice cream. I get an appropriate serving and enjoy myself. However, I do not eat ice cream every day nor do I consume several servings in one sitting (well, I again, try not to).

I think it's so important to remember the lifestyle we live has been created by our busy schedules in desperate need for convenience. My grandparents' generation walked to the bus stop every day (1 mile 1 way-There's my 2 mile daily walk right there.) They gardened and ate their own food and drank milk from their own cows. They slaughtered their own pigs. Simple chores like washing clothes was hard work. (Hand washing everything, going through the ringer, and hanging everything on a line.) People naturally ate better and exercised in every day routines. We are now expected, as busy as we are, to make time to go to the gym and make meals comprable to our earlier generations and we question why everyone is having heart attacks and cancer. Whew...

So, I encourage you to be healthy. Enjoy the foods you love and find means of exercise that you enjoy doing. If you hate running, don't do it! Find something you love and stick with it. Try to have a balanced diet and allow yourself one small treat (less than 150 calories) a day.

Lastly, I do have to throw in a plug for the home video "The Shred". I was encouraged by some girls in Sunday School to try it and it really is the best at home video I've ever done. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4 Years Ago Today...

4 years ago today my family was sitting in the waiting room of Children's Hospital in Washington, DC, waiting for my brother's 8 1/2 hour brain surgery to be completed.

For those who don't know, I want to share this miraculous story. For those who do know, rejoice and praise God with me as we boast of His greatness and faithfulness! My older brother Zach was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at the age of 2. This disease causes fibroid tumors all over his body, coming and going, changing frequently. Many tumors are not a problem, but when Zach was in the 7th grade (I was in the 5th and Jillian was in the 2nd), during an annual MRI, Zach's neurologist found a tumor in his brain stem. At this time, the tumor was considered inoperable and my family was at a loss of what to do. We were given the information that as long as the tumor did not grow, Zach would be ok. Well, that's exactly what happened. For 10 years, Zach's tumor lay dormant. During Zach's junior year of college at ASU, our family began to see signs of things changing. Zach's speech began to change dramatically and his fine and gross motor skills were deteriorating. At Zach's MRI over that Christmas (2004), it showed that Zach's tumor had indeed began to grow and there was major pressure on his brain stem, as well as causing fluid to form on other parts of his brain. Over the course of the next 5 months, Zach, along with my parents, began going to specialists to see what could be done. Well, God's grace and sovereinty shined through...There was now technology that would allow Zach to be operated on! Praise be to Jesus.

My parents drove Zach up to D.C. where the specialists were who could operate during this invasive procedure. On June 10, 2005, Zach went into a surgery that had NEVER been done before, on a part of the brain that is the absolute most senstive and dangerous. (For all those Grey's Anatomy Fans, you understand!) There were people from all over the world in the gallery watching the operation. After several hours of waiting and praying, the doctor came out of surgery. He told us that Zach had done well and things looked good. However, not to be surprised if Zach didn't wake up for at least 48 hours and he would not be out of ICU for a few days. Well, God didn't stop there. Within an hour, my sister and I were in the room TALKING to Zach! He was released from ICU the next day! Praise be to Jesus! He even was home, in our living room, within a WEEK! Man, God is good!

After his surgery, Zach went through an intensive 6 week bought of radiation at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, NC. Though he struggled with lethargy, he still continued to work his summer job! Today, he is healed. Through speech and physical therapy, you wouldn't know Zach had gone through such a terrible ordeal. We serve a risen and healing God!

I share this story to emphasize the importance of prayer, family, and friends. Without these, in this order, my family would not have been able to endure this time in our lives. My brother is a strong and courageous man and I am so thankful for him in my life. My parents are true ROCKS for one another. My sister, she is my best friend. She and I always stick together. God has a mighty plan for my brother. He allowed technology to get ready for Zach, and ready it was! Thank you Father, for your healing power over my brother!

I love you Zach!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In Christ Alone

While visiting my family this weekend in Tennessee I went to church with my aunt and uncle. We sang the song "In Christ Alone" and it reminded me of the beautiful gift we've been given and the victory that is ours who are God's children. Here are the lyrics...

In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace. When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh Fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save.

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied; For every sin on Him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain.Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the grave He rose again!

And as He stands in victory Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me; For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand ‘til He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

What amazing truths! I encourage you to download this song and take a minute to really worship our Savior and Victor!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beautiful Flowers from a Wonderful Husband

This is a little belated, but I wanted to brag on how sweet my husband is. On May 22nd, Justin sent me these gorgeous flowers to school to celebrate the last day of my first year of teaching! How sweet and thoughtful. God has greatly blessed me with such a wonderful hubby!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Frozen Hawaiian Pie

-1 can condensed milk
-12 oz. cool whip (thawed)
-1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
-2 tbsp. lemon juice
-2 graham cracker crusts
1. Combine condensed milk and cool whip and beat on low speed for 1 minute.
2. Fold in pineapple, nuts, cherries, and lemon juice
3. Pour into crusts, freeze for 4 hours
4. Let thaw for 20 minutes before serving.

This is REALLY YUMMY and a great summer dessert. You can also buy fat free condensed milk, cool whip, and reduced fat crusts to make it a little healthier! ENJOY!

Studying Micah

So, we just finished up a great study of the book of Micah in our Sunday School class. (Ally and Jason did an awesome job leading us!) I had never even looked at this book and I really enjoyed learning about the prophecies. Here are 2 of my favorite verses from the book:

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

"Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me." Micah 7:7

What amazing truths and promises. I definitely encourage you to read and study this book. It's only 7 chapters but loaded with insight and wisdom! It may continue to be the bulk of my summer study!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tribute to Graduation!

Zach's graduation from ASU-May 2007
Graduation from UNCW-May 10, 2008

Jillian's graduation from ERHS, June 2007
I had a wonderful visit with my family this past weekend and it made me think of the awesome successes we've had as a family over the past 2 years. My parents have had 2 children graduate from college and another graduate high school (who is now a nursing student!). God has really been teaching me about counting my blessings. I have been so wonderfully blessed with my parents and siblings. Without each of them, I would not be the person I am today, and this weekend helped remind me of that. I hope to have my mother's strength and determination, my father's perseverance and big heart, my brother's willingness to stand up for what he believes in, and my sister's amazing sense of humor.
This Sunday the seniors at our church walked across the stage as we honored them as a congregation. It made me think of how quickly the moments go by and how important it is to make every moment count. High school and college graduation are HUGE mile markers and I've already drove by them so quickly. I am so thankful for where God has placed me and look forward to His many promises yet to come!
And, thanks Momma and Daddy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank You

I just wanted to say thank you for all the prayers that have been lifted up for Justin and me this past week. We can feel God's presence over us. I really appreciate all the phone calls, emails, and text messages. Please continue to pray for safety, peace, trust, and productivity.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Martha's Bachelorette Weekend!

Jillian, Candice, and me
Boof, Nat, and Candice

Me and the Bride
We had a wonderful time in Sunset Beach/Wilmington for Martha's Bachelorette Weekend! Shopping at Outlets, Fondu, Downtown Wilmington...who wouldn't have fun? I can't believe Martha and Beth are both getting married. I remember when they both were just giggly about Tom and Lam. I also love to look back at old prayer journals and see the prayers that were prayed over their relationships, especially in the beginning! What an amazing story they both have. Congratulations to you both! MUAH!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Fab 5

The Fab 5 (my best friends from college) made a vow to always get together once a year. At the end of March we had our 1st Annual Fab 5 Girls Weekend. We had such a great time catching up and enjoying stories about each others lives apart from each other. Candy dish (Candice) is working at an accouting firm in NJ, Nat (Natalie) is teaching in Raleigh, Martha Bee (Martha) is teaching near Pine Level and planning for hers and Tom's wedding, Boof (Beth) is teaching in Burlington and also planning a wedding...with Lamar! I am posting this because this Sunday, May 10th, will mark a year since graduating from UNCW. After spending the weekend with them, celebrating Martha's Bachelorette Weekend, and then spending time with my sister in Wilmington, I became very nostalgic. I am so very blessed to be where I am, to be married to a wonderful man, and to live in an awesome town, however, I really miss my girls! God is so good and allows for awesome connections to form around every corner. The Fab 5 will always be so special to me!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chocolate Age Calculator

Ok, so this is really neat...try it out!

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10)--Mine was 7, once a day!
2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)
3. Add 5
4. Multiply it by 50 – I know, go get the calculator
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1759 ..If you haven't , add 1758.
6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born. YOU SHOULD HAVE A 3 DIGIT NUMBER! The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).

Monday, April 27, 2009

This weekend...

We had a wonderful weekend! Justin's grandparents (Caldwells) were in town and we had us a good ole time. We ventured out to Auburn City Fest Saturday morning, grabbed lunch and then took a little hike that afternoon before dinner. Justin has us all pooped! Sunday was a great day to spend with Justin. We loved spending time with his family and once we sent them off in early afternoon, Justin and I enjoyed spending the day together...

I'm not sure how I feel about laying out on my driveway however. I'm used to the sand or a beach chair by the pool at all times...concrete was a new thing for me to venture out to. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What a year...

Since my first "real" post was pretty serious I feel the need to lighten our blog up a bit. As for an update, Justin and I are planning for an interesting summer with lots of travelling, really, quite a bit, our first anniversary, Justin's 23rd birthday, and hopefully a dog sometime before August! We are so excited!

Justin and I have LOVED being married. During our engagement we heard such horror stories of the first year of marriage. Though it has not been what I would call easy, I would not change a single thing. God has so greatly blessed us and I have really enjoyed getting to know my wonderful husband's quirks. (I.e. He leaves his dirty clothes in the middle of the bedroom floor, he enjoys drinking from the milk jug way more than using a glass, and he typically needs some "boy time" about twice a week.) However, to see how he has grown in a wonderful leader for our family is amazing. He asks me how my quiet times are going and is always eager to hear about Bible study. He does the dishes after I cook and keeps up with ALL the finances for our family. He's very loving and I can count on him to make me laugh. One of my favorite things is since I've been going to the chiropractor for physical therapy and was told to NEVER sleep on my stomach, which is my favorite way to sleep, he will wake me up in the middle of the night and say, "Sweetie, roll over. It's not good for your neck."

What a great guy!

Just this morning...

Just this morning I was watching Good Morning America and I was really disapointed with the negative publicity that the California Miss America contestant was getting because she was standing up for what she believed in. For those who have not followed this issue, she was asked a question pertaining to Vermont passing a law that allowed gay marriages and if other states should follow suit. She proudly stated that she did not feel that it was appropriate, that marriage was designed for a man and woman. This has outraged many people who support gay rights.

I feel that regardless of what a person believes, we miss the beauty of being allowed to boldly state what we feel is right according to our first ammendment right of free speech. Some how "social conservatives" are often blasted for having bias and intolerant beliefs. Many people who do this are not open to hearing what this group truly believe in are just as close-minded. I think that we MUST be willing to stand up for what we believe in, regardless of which side we fall.

We live in a society when all people are not going to stand on the same beliefts, values and morals. However, we must agree to disagree. The gay judge that asked this young woman this question must remember that she has the right to say she does not feel that gay marriages should be legal just as much as he has the right to think they are. The difference is, she kindly and honestly spoke the truth; he is blasting her values on his blog and national television for all to see. We must show love and kindness people! We're not all going to feel the same way about things people and it's OK!

**I hope to not put many of these kind of issues on my blog. However, this has weighed heavily on my heart and mind today. I am proud of this young woman who was placed in such a difficult place. She was willing to say the truth in her heart and give up something she had worked so hard for by doing so. Not many people would have done that. We must teach our youth to stand on what they think is right and to lead them in a way that is going to show love, compassion and encouragement to those around them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our First Post

Well, I finally gave in and decided to start our own blog. My sweet friend Shealy designed it while Baby Kate was napping, so I guess the easy stuff is left for update everyone on our life here in Auburn, AL! There is more to come...