Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I always wonder who actually reads my blog and if anyone cares (I don't say that to have people tell me how much they love following me by the way), but I am reminded that this blog helps me keep up with life's events. I started journaling in the 8th grade and I have continued this practice nearly daily the past 12 years. This blog serves as another means to my journal entries.

Going with the title of this post, I hope readers will find my heart transparent. A lot of what I type are memories and life to share with family and friends. However, I also believe as a Christian, we need to be real with one another. I know I have been most comforted when other people have shared their stories with me, and as Pastor Mike used to say at PC3, "Live life together." With that said, I would like to share what the last 12 months has looked like for me.

In April of 2011 (1 short month after Jude's birth), Justin accepted a PhD position at Clemson University in near Greenville, SC. Though I was sad to say good bye to Auburn, as it has become a home to us, I was thankful to stay in the South and to become closer to family; a mere 1.5 hours from Justin's family and less than 3 hours from my own. My heart was filled with joy and excitement with the opportunity to move closer as we had expanded our family. I had begun interviews and we had gone house hunting with a realtor. We were moving to South Carolina. Then, 6 short weeks after this decision, Justin's professor told him plans had changed and it looked like we were needing to move to the research site, which was located in Arizona.

Oh, I was mad. I was bitter. I refused to go. I did not want to move to Arizona, 2000 miles away from everything I knew. Thankfully, I was offered a 3 jobs in AZ before I was ever offered anything in SC. We found a place to rent and things seemed to fall into place. Though my desire to move to AZ really ever changed, I knew I needed to be obedient to my husband and trust him to trust Him in the leading of our family.

In July, about 15 guys from our Sunday School classed met out our home on Dumas Dr. in Auburn to load up the Uhaul. Within an hour, our things were loaded and we were ready to officially move west. As I hugged our neighbors, Dr. Davis and his wife, as well as one of  my best friend's Emily, I began to cry and my emotions took over. I'm pretty sure I cried all the way to the Mississippi state line.

3 days later we arrived at our new home. We were staying in a home that had the dirtiest carpet I'd ever seen and I refused to live there while my son learned to crawl. It smelled funny and the bathroom (the only bathroom) was so small, you could not open the cabinet under the sink all the way because it hit the toilet. However, when sitting in bed those first few weeks, crying and pleading with God to please make this season go by quickly, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the small things; a home, a job, a healthy son, and frequent flyer miles.

Over the next several months, a lot changed for me emotionally and spiritually. I know I had a group of women located all over the South (mostly in Auburn and in NC) praying over my heart and my marriage. There were days I could sense a peace and a certain hope and then I'd check my email to find a random email from a friend saying, "You're on my mind today. Praying for you." Talk about the power of those small prayers. Well, is any prayer really small? I was given the advice from a wise friend "Sometimes, when there is no one else, the only person to turn to is God."

Being a social being, thriving off of "girl time", I had to learn to find my time with God and with Justin enough, especially my time with God. I also began to relish in the small moments with Jude, that I think I would have taken more for granted if we were any where else. I embraced a lot of quiet walks and I can say that God has moved mountains in mine and Justin's marriage. There were more mean words spoken and irrational moments in this past year than I care to admit, but man how God's grace has covered us!

I have learned a lot about being content and have become much more grateful for the small things, like funding at my job, supportive parents, girl friends, and sweet tea. I am more aware of my many blessings! I just have to brag on God on a few of these:
1.) We bought a home, sold it in 7 months, and made a decent profit
2.) Sold Justin's work truck
3.) Sold my car in literally 3 minutes to upgrade to a small SUV (and still don't have a car payment)
4.) Found 2 wonderful Christian baby sitters for Jude
5.) Found a sweet, small church to grow in and be loved on
6.) a few Christian friends along the way to share in our journey in AZ
7.) Lots of visits from family and friends

Ok, onto the next step...around mid-January, we realized that Justin's position as a PhD student at Clemson was not working. There are several tiny details I won't delve into, but we knew that God was showing us another path. We quickly began praying about where we needed to go and even questioned, why move us here for such a short time? I watched my husband struggle with leading us and I was struggling with being submissive. Again, the Lord graciously covered us and allowed us to go to Him for strength.

As Justin began applying to other positions and jobs, we narrowed it down to 2: a PhD position at the University of Washington in Seattle or as a Biologist in Wilmington, NC. Ok y'all, to dreery timbucktoo or to my favorite place on Earth? We prayed specifically for God to open and close doors to and move in our hearts concerning this situation. After about 6 weeks, I had been offered a job at a school district in Seattle that is ranked in the top 25 systems in the nation and Justin has been turned down for the job in Wilmington. Door closed for him, one opened for me, in opposite places...God? We also took a visit to Seattle and I had prayed that God would either grant me peace or solidify me heart on not wanting to go. To my ever so fiesty spirit, my heart was overwhelmed with peace during that weekend. We met several Christians while there, saw the beauty of the city, and God definitely asked me gently, "Please trust me child."

Since that time, we've been making arrangements for yet another move. I hope that this short season in AZ has allowed me the opportunity to do some good in the lives of my students here and in the community. And, I also have faith that God will continue to be ever so faithful in the details of our lives as we move to Seattle. Over the last 7 months, I've seen my parents more than I ever did while living in Auburn. Though our plane tickets are now a huge part of our monthly budget, He is faithful to provide this for our family.

I don't know if I will ever have an answer to some of the "why's" and I don't think I'm owed that. God is good and He is sovereign. His faithfulness amazes me and I am so grateful to serve a mighty God who calls me His. Though I have had a very "dry" season in the last year, God has still produced much fruit and I am so thankful!

God works all things for good for those who love Him...Romans 8:28

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shoes Please

 Sorry the quality of these pictures aren't great, but I have not updated to a Smart Phone or anything and this is what you get with something old school. Jude man turns 14 months today. He is the sweetest little booger, yes, I know, I'm probably a little bias, but he really is. He is soaking up things like a sponge. Right now, he loves playing Ring Around the Rosies, especially the "All fall down" part. He likes to dance and being tickled. His favorite toys are his blocks, his animals, and his race track. He's definitely all boy and enjoys playing in the rocks and dirt in our yard.

He still eats like a horse and other than green veggies, will eat about anything, except mac and cheese. Strange, I know but I think it's the texture. He also will only eat cheese when it's melted on something now. He still gets his veggies by me hiding them. I make smoothies almost every day for him and I always add spinach leaves. He'll also eat broccoli or asparagus when they are covered in cheese, which I'm ok with since he needs the calcium. :)

Jude is a snuggle bug and still sleeps like a champ. He is an early rise though, getting up by 6:15 am every morning. Never thought I would think 7 am was sleeping in. We're really looking forward to our summer in North Carolina and can't wait for these last few weeks of school to be over!
Cute little story I wanted to share...Jude's feet STINK...I mean like man feet, so I decided shoes that could air his feet out more would be a better choice for him. Who knew $3.87 could make a child so happy. I picked up these cheapies at Wal-mart yesterday and the kid won't take them off. He shakes his head "no" when I tell him it's time to take his shoes off. This morning, when Papaw walked in (Justin's grandparents are here visiting) the first thing Jude did was go get his new shoes, sit on the floor, hand the shoes to Papaw and say "Shoes please" while pointing to his feet. Precious!

Until next time...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Almost Summer and Surprises

 It has been a little warm in AZ lately. To most people's surprise, we don't live in the desert. The small town where we live is actually in the Pinal Mountains, about 4500 above sea level, so the higher elevation makes for nice weather. We stay consistently 10-12 degrees cooler than Pheonix. We have been averaging temperatures in the mid 80's, but with no humidity, it's not that bad. It also still gets into the low 70's at night which is perfect for our evening and morning walks.

A few weeks ago, we had an unseasonably warm day in the mid 90's and we decided it was time to break out the pool. Jude didn't know what to think of it at first, but he did have 1 last ring pop left from his Easter basket, so once we coaxed him in, he was sold. This kid LOVES water...he cries when bath time is over, but the water was cool since it was straight from the spicket, so that didn't help. He loves to splash and throw everything into his new toy, including his toothbrush and paci. Mason also likes having it in the back yard so he can take a dip while we're at work.
 Last weekend, Jude and I made a suprise visit home to NC for an early Mother's Day for my Mom and Mother in Law. My brother, brother in law, and father in law all knew so they could correlate picking us up and making sure the grandma's could get time off. It went off without a hitch. No one had any idea and we had a wonderful visit. The weather was wonderful and we had a great time enjoying cup cakes from Brittany, breakfast at Chickfila, and playing on his birthday slide and on the golf course with Nana. I love giving surprises, so to see everyone's faces was great. I think my favorite had to be my sister. Though she's not a Mom, I wanted to surprise her too, so Phillip helped make sure she wasn't scheduled to work. I thought we would be awake before she got to Mom and Dad's but we weren't, so I woke up to her in my face asking, "Why are you in my bed!?!?" Too funny. Of course, Jude was spoiled and given all the attention. It was so nice to be home and I can't wait for our trip this summer. We plan to be home all summer, making trips to North Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, Auburn, Tennessee, and spending lots of quality time with family and friends.
On another note, this little guy continues to melt my heart. He is so sweet! He has added the word "Please" to his sign vocabulary and uses it very well. He has begun to use 2 word sign phrases like "Milk please" or "More please". He'll also say "Cracker" then sign please. He still doesn't say a lot of words, but he seems to communicate effectively without a whole lot of whining, praise the Lord and knock on some wood people. Just this morning, he wanted his toothbrush and signed "more" after pointing to it. I didn't get it quick enough and I asked him to "Ask nicely please" and he quickly got quiet and signed "please". He still loves Mason and they are so good with each other. Jude has begun to get really attached to me. He wimpers and cries when I leave him, but his sitters tell me it's only for a few minutes. We have definitely had to discipline this little guy, especially when dealing with meal time and him sticking everything in the dog food bowl. Yesterday I gave him a carrot to gnaw on and this child was caught "dipping" it in the dog food bowl. He would stick it in the food, lick the carrot, then repeat. Gross!

He cracks me up. Last nigth we taught him how to play Ring Around the Rosies and he loved it. He kept signing, "More please" and he would grab onto mine and Justins' hands for us to get up and do it again. I can't believe how quickly he's changing and I'm trying to soak up every minute. I am so thankful to have such a flexible schedule with teaching and I'm eager to spend every day with him this summer.

Next weekend, Justin's grandparents, The Caldwells, will be visiting and we're really looking forward to their visit. :)