Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Hard Parts

We're preparing for our move on July 4th. We go to MS and then sometime in August we will move overseas. We are organizing our belongings. Preparing for garage sales. Getting our medical screenings completed. I ordered a pair of snow boots today. Daniel is working on his teaching certification. He continues to work 3 days a week and I am working 2 nights a week. I am trying to continue to lead a normal life for Liam - playing, swimming, and trying to not let him realize I've been going through all of his toys and getting rid of over half of them. I miss our dog, Jack, who is no longer our dog. He went to do a "trail run" with some friends of ours and we decided since he adjusted so well that he should just stay. Tonight I've been going through things, packing boxes, and posting some of our bigger items online to sell. We found a trailer to borrow so we can take a big load of things home the first week of June.

I talked to a friend recently and she is moving at the end of the month. Other friends are in the process of moving as we speak. That's part of the seminary life. We went through this last summer and the summer before that. People come and people go. They leave their mark in your life and move on. I can't really complain because we are doing the same thing to our friends that we are leaving behind. But it's still really sad.

Yesterday Daniel and I were talking while driving and I said I was going to miss Mexican food. He said he's going to miss Chic-Fil-A. We are going to miss our families terribly. Our friends terribly. Things will happen in America that we won't get to be a part of. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Parties. Church events. Graduations. Weddings. Births. And those are just the happy things. We won't be here to help when family members get sick. When storms (literal and figurative) go through and our families need help picking up the pieces.

When I talk about our move, I always try talk about it in a positive light. I mean, this is what we came to Fort Worth to do eventually, right? This is what I've been preparing myself for since I was in high school. I keep saying, I'll wait to do this till closer to time - well that time is here. In a matter of about 6 weeks we are leaving Fort Worth - ready or not. We are stepping out on faith that we will get visas in a timely manner. That everything will just "work out" with money and plane tickets and timing. We don't have the money to rent a truck to move some of our things home. We don't have the money to buy 3 plane tickets. We don't have a back up plan ready in case something happens and we don't get to move overseas. We will be living off of our families for 4+ weeks until we have visas and plane tickets in our hands. Our friends who are already in our city have signed a contract for an apartment that they cannot afford unless we make it there and help them pay for it.

I don't really know where else to go with this, but I do want to say that I am very excited about this move. And at the same time I'm scared. It's going to be different. I'm not going to know the language. I'm not going to recognize half the food. I may not have my family and friends there, but I will have a team there that will become friends and be like family. I'm not going to have an American church worship service to attend. But what an amazing opportunity we will have to share the Good Word with people who have never had the opportunity to hear! We will be living by our faith and looking for God to show us daily where we are to serve and who needs to hear His Name.

In the midst of my sadness today, the Lord provided some light about our move. I was browsing facebook and someone had posted a link to a website about sponsoring children overseas. It got me thinking about looking for orphanages in our city, so I did. To my amazement I found an organization that has orphanages in several cities including ours! AND it's a Christian organization that isn't hiding behind a secular name - they out front tell people they are Christians and that is why they care for the orphans and the disabled children. And they work alongside the government freely. So I put in a call and sent an email to find out how I could help when we arrive in August. The director emailed me that same day and said she would love to have extra hands to love on the kids and that my nursing skills will be very valuable. I'm so stinkin' excited! Thankful for the little reminders from God about the joy and purpose in this move even when I'm drowning in my own sorrows.

Please continue to pray for us. Pray for my sanity and attitude (especially toward Daniel as when I get stressed, I'm not always very nice to him). Pray for our family and their acceptance of our leaving. Pray for our finances. Pray for our city and our team and the people we will be sharing with.

If you want to help support us, we are selling T-shirts. They are $20 a shirt plus $5 shipping. You can place your order here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Revival in Montana

Billings, MT from the Rim Rocks
Each year during Spring Break, the Seminary sends students and teachers to churches throughout the country to preach revival services for Revive This Nation. Most of the churches that request preachers are small town churches with a small congregation. This was our 4th Spring Break at the seminary and the first year that Daniel was able to preach. We were placed in a church in Billings, Montana. (Just north of Yellowstone) We stayed with the pastor and his wife and served Bethel Baptist Church that week.
We had quite a time getting to Billings (and another interesting time getting home, but more on that later). The seminary booked Daniel's ticket and paid for him to get there. I had to book my own ticket and pay for myself. By the time I booked my ticket, his ticket was too expensive so I decided to fly separately, but we still got there together on the same plane, and left Billings to head home on the same plane. I got an email on Friday night around 10pm that one of my connections was canceled due to weather in Denver. After waiting an hour to talk to a rep at Orbitz they told me they would have to contact United and it was an hour wait on their phone too. We found out that Daniel's flight into Denver was canceled too. The rep told us to just show up early and talk to someone at the ticket counter. So we got to the airport around 10am. We stopped at United and they told us we had to go to American since they were our first flight, they technically bought the tickets for us. We wait in line for about 45 minutes at American and finally get to the counter. The guy spent TWO HOURS trying to get us on a plane. Finally he did. We made it to Billings around midnight. We crashed.
On Sunday morning Daniel put on his suit and we headed to the church.We were way early because the pastor wanted to practice guitar. It was time change Sunday and a couple showed up early. I started talking with them and the man said he hadn't been to church in a long time but he knew he needed to start coming again. His wife and his daughter were with him. His wife is from Cambodia and she is Budist but encouraged her husband to come to church and wanted to come with him. I really enjoyed my conversation with them. There were several other people who showed up but I didn't get to meet all of them. I would guess they had an attendance of about 30. Daniel started his sermon series of John 14-16. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Dick gave an alter call and a teenage girl came up front and prayed to receive Christ. :-D She had been talking with the pastor and her grandmother and that Sunday she made the decision.

We ate lunch at the church with the members and had the chance to start getting to know people. This church is located in a low income area. Most of its members are disabled in some way, whether it is physically (mostly health problems) or mentally. During the week we had the chance to hear some of the testimonies and we were in awe of how these people overcame some of their problems when they found God. We went home well fed and enjoyed a short nap before we headed back to the church for the evening service.

On Monday we hung out at the pastor's house and had lunch and took a walk over to Cabela's to get out of the house. Daniel preached again Monday night.
Tuesday morning we went to breakfast with a woman and her mother and had a chance to get to know them and minister to them. Later that day we went to lunch with two other members. We loved spending time with the church members! Daniel preached again that night. See a pattern here? :) We had a pie and ice cream fellowship that evening. 
On top of the Rim Rocks with Billings in the background.
On Tuesday we met one of the Montanta Baptist Assocation pastors/missionaries and had lunch at Red Lobster. We learned more about missions in Montana and the need for churches and Christians to partner with their local churches. Pastor Dick drove us around the city and up to the Rim Rocks to look out at the city. It was beautiful with the mountains in the background. We had dinner at one of the church member's home. And Daniel preached that evening. 

On Wednesday we took a drive with the pastor and his wife to Red Lodge up in the mountains. We got to play in the snow for a bit and drive up the mountain to look at some scenic views and then we ate at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. There are several kids that would play on the basketball courts at church so I went to Walmart and bought things to make salvation bracelets/keychains with. I got to sit down with 6 kids and explain what salvation meant using the bracelets. That evening we said our goodbyes to the church members and prayed over them.

We had issues getting home the next day. Our reservations had been canceled because of everything that happened when we were trying to get to MT. Long story short, we sat in Denver for a long time until we were finally given seats on a flight straight to DFW. We got exit row seats and a free dinner out of it though. When all the problems happened while we were trying to get to MT, I blamed Satan. I was thinking that he was trying to keep us from getting to MT for the revival. But now that I look back on the situation, God totally had control the whole time. Our flight from Denver to DFW that we finally got on was amazing. I sat next to a woman who I was able to share the Gospel with and encourage her in her faith. In the end she didn't make any kind of decision, but she did indicate that there was something missing in her life. Planting seeds. :)

We learned a lot from this church and it's pastor. A lot of times we go in with ideas and misconceptions of what a church is supposed to look like. But church is just a building where people can come to hear the Word of the Lord and be accepted because we have something in common - we all love God and His people. This church was unlike any other church we have ever been a part of. Most of the people are hurting. Most of them had some sort of disability. Most of them were considered "outcasts" in regular society. But this church and it's members accepted them. Just as Jesus would have. Christ died for everyone. We all have sins and we all need a Savior. We were very thankful for the opportunity to serve this church and get to know it's members. We had an idea in our heads of what missions in North America looked like, and this trip opened our eyes to a whole other side. Churches like Bethel need help. They need people who are willing to serve and love those that others reject. This church has been faithful to it's neighborhood and members and God has blessed them. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Journey for the Brays

If you know us at all, you know our heart for missions and for the Lord. Since I was a freshman in high school I've always known I wanted to live overseas. Daniel's call was a little later than mine, but nonetheless, that is his heart as well. We moved to Fort Worth so that Daniel could attend seminary and we had intentions of moving overseas and working with the SBC company. Apparently God had other plans. If you've followed the blog or talked with us, you know that for various reasons we backed out of that process and were waiting for God to show us a new plan. Daniel decided to go back to school this semester and complete a different degree. After taking 17 hours this semester, he will graduate on May 10th. He started applying for some pastoring jobs around the US but nothing looked really promising so we continued to pray about what we were supposed to do after graduation.

In February, a sweet friend of mine from high school called to catch up. She and her husband have been serving in East Asia as English teachers at an elementary school since last August. She called to tell me that they were looking for more teachers for the next school year. Everything she was telling us was incredible - almost too good to be true. She sent us some information, we started emailing one of the founders of the organization that helps the teachers find jobs, and started praying. Basically, this organization helps find us a job, we work along side a team of other teachers in a city, we get a salary and housing stipend from the school, and we build relationships and share with the people we meet. We don't have to raise support for our daily living expenses (although we do have to raise some money for moving costs and start up in the city like buying furniture and all the household items we will need). We get to work with a team so we aren't by ourselves in a foreign city. They provide language tutors to help us adjust. There are two good breaks during the school year that we can come home and visit family. For every year we renew our contract with the school, they will provide us with a round trip ticket to come home and see family. It's only a year to year commitment. As far as certification to teach, all that's require right now is a 40 hour online course.

So we're moving to East Asia. In August. We don't really know for how long. We are selling a lot of our stuff, and we will store a lot too. Jack needs to find a new home. We are trying to prepare ourselves for 24hours of travel with a 2 year old. There are a lot of unanswered questions about how this will all work out, but we know that if this is truly something that the Lord has prepared for us, then it will all be taken care of.

Will you pray with us? This is a huge adjustment for all of us, especially for Liam and our families. Will you pray that the money will be there when we need it? Will you pray for our team and the schools we will be working in? And pray for my sanity as I'm trying to organize our life into 3 different categories - what goes with us, what stays behind, and what we get rid of.

We're excited about our new journey!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Liam Micah is 20months old

Well, we missed a few months in here. Oh well. :) Sorry Liam, one day I will not be able to tell you everything that happened between your 16th month of life and your 20th. I'm sure you'll be heartbroken. So let's see if I can remember some of your milestones recently.
Liam's vocabulary has taken off. He knows a bunch of words. He's even starting to put words together to make 2 word scentences. Like "get off", "come here", and the ever popular "no Jack". Pretty much everything revolves around Jack. Haha.
He loves hats, shoes, and socks. He especially likes our hats, his rainboots, and wearing socks on his hands.
Still loves dancing and he's been improving his moves. 
 He likes sitting at the table rather than in his high chair.
He loves dipping his food in ketchup/ranch/whatever else he can dip his food into.
Mr. Independent will not let us feed him anymore. And he likes to use his own silverware rather than his hands. But hands are always there for backup.
He's recently started playing with his puzzles and actually putting the pieces back rather than dumping them out and leaving them on the floor. 
He's been my big helper and can do simple tasks that I ask him.

His Mamaw taught him the Clean Up song and he sings it frequently when he is putting toys away.
He's got a good arm when it comes to throwing a ball. Not to good at catching or kicking.
He loves to throw things away. Most of it doesn't need to be thrown away and we have to fish it out of the trashcan.
He also likes to put dishes in the sink. Even clean ones. Or toys. We find lots of toys in the sink.
He's found that he can splash in the bathtub. And so he does. 
Mommy is no longer in his vocabulary. We are both Daddy now.
Favorite word is definitely No. And it is the response we receive to all questions.
One of his favorite past times is playing in Jack's food. He takes the food and throws it at Jack, and he takes the food and puts it in his water dish.
He's gained a passion for coloring. With pens, markers, crayons, sharpies, highlighters, whatever makes a mark.
His laugh is contagious.
He likes sleeping with his sock monkey which he affectionately named "Me" and one of his blankets.
He loves light switches.
Favorite toys include his barn and the animals, a ball, his tricycle, and his guitar.
Clothing size 18-24mo.
Diaper size 4.
Shoes size 6.
Still waiting on his incisors to come in, but he's been messing with his mouth a whole lot more recently. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Christmas 2012

We decided not to do a Christmas card this year to save a little money since Daniel decided to go back to school for one more semester. So we sent out a Christmas card Text. :) Merry Christmas from the Brays!
Our Christmas this year was one that we will never forget. Liam's first Christmas was last year, but he was only a few months old and didn't really get to "enjoy" the festivities or be involved at all other than to be the center of attention and the subject of pictures - which he was again this year. :)

Daniel and I discussed whether we want to do Santa with Liam and we have decided to not make Santa the focus of Christmas since that's not what the holiday is really about. However, we did take pictures with Santa this Christmas. We went to downtown Fort Worth one evening with Liam and a young girl who lives in our apartments and helps us out with Liam. We took her to see the Santa in the Square so we took a family picture with him as well.
We also had a CARES event with Santa at our breakfast so we took another picture. So much for not involving Santa at Christmas. Haha. :)
Right before we left to come home for Christmas, I had the pleasure of taking some sweet friends' family pictures. I took their Christmas card and Prayer Card pictures in November and they asked us to come out to their parents' and take some family pictures for them. They are about to move to South Asia. We had so much fun playing on the playground at the park where we took pictures!

Worst part about our Christmas this year: The stomach bug.

We were supposed to leave on Thursday to head to Daniel's parents to celebrate Christmas. On Wednesday, Liam woke up and was a little cranky, but nothing out of the usual. I put him in his high chair for breakfast and he wouldn't eat anything. So I got him down and gave him some orange juice and he went to play. Then about 5 minutes late he threw up everywhere. :/ It was one of those moments that I had no idea what to do. But I handled it. I cleaned him. I cleaned the carpet. I cleaned myself. And we repeated that process about 4 more times during the day. Poor baby. He was just pitiful all day. We laid around on the couch all day watching movies and TV shows that he liked.

Thursday came and Liam had diarrhea and was still throwing up. So we didn't leave. Friday morning Daniel and I both woke up with nausea and then Daniel was sick. Mine never progressed to true sickness but I just felt bad. I think God spared me because someone had to take care of Daniel and Liam. Daniel and I both felt 100% on Saturday and Liam was doing well so we decided to go ahead and hit the road to Mississippi for one of the family Christmas parties that night. (Yes, we know we are stupid, and yes, we know the whole 24 hour rule but we did not follow that.) We made it to MS fine. Enjoyed the party with the family. And then Liam got sick again that night. But he had fun with all the family and got to open a few gifts.

We spent Christmas Eve in MS with Daniel's family. We ended up making Nathan sick on Christmas Eve. We went to Nana and PaPaw's on Christmas Eve to have dinner and open gifts. We put Liam to bed and then we opened more gifts at Daniel's parents. 

Liam woke Christmas morning and had thrown up again that night so his cute Christmas PJs were not worn for pictures that morning. Oh well. We actually didn't even take pictures that morning haha.

After breakfast we headed to my parents to spend Christmas Day with them. Liam stayed in his PJs all day. We opened gifts that evening and had dinner. I'll just say this, Liam is spoiled. :) His grandparents and great grandparents sure do love him.
Before we headed back to TX, we had made plans to go to Hattiesburg to see some friends who had recently had babies! I loved getting to snuggle with the babies and Liam got to play with his friend EG! Liam was not happy about me holding the babies though. At one point he just laid down on the floor and threw and absolute tantrum because I had another child in my arms. Glad he doesn't have a little sibling yet. We ordered pizza that night and enjoyed the company of our friends from college while the kids played and we talked about what life as parents is like. Emily just had her second and Lydia had her first and then there's me with mine. :)

Nothing fun happened on New Years for us. I worked that night so I celebrated with my coworkers and patients. Liam slept right through the New Year. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Thanksgiving 2012

Little late posting this, but it was such a great time with family that I don't want to forget it. :)

We were able to make it home for Thanksgiving this year. Since Liam had spent over a week with Daniel's family in October while we were in the Philippines, we decided to spend most of our time at my parents so they could get some special time with Liam.

We stopped off at Daniel's home on the way in to see some of the family and love on our new little cousin! :) Liam wasn't too sure about me holding another baby.
Liam and I headed to my parents house while Daniel and his younger brother (along with Jack) went camping for a few nights in the Sipsey Wilderness. It was great bonding time for them. :) Daniel loves camping and Nathan had never had the chance to go camping with him before. They had such a great time and came home exhausted!

While the boys were camping, Liam and I just hung out with my parents. Liam got to go to the preschool that my mom works at and attend the Mom's morning out program. He got to participate in the thanksgiving feast (yummy vegetable soup) and listen to all the kids sing songs about the pilgrims and Indians.

After Daniel and Nathan got back to my parents, we had all my close high school friends who were in town over for pizza one night. It was a fun night of catching up on each others' lives, talking about 'remember when' and stuffing our faces with Mellow Mushroom pizza. Yum. :)
Liam made some funny faces while we took pictures with each other.
I love these girls so much! I'm so glad that Liam gets to spend time with them. :) (We missed you Allison and Kristen!)

On to Thanksgiving Day. This Thanksgiving was very special because we were able to spend it with both sides of our immediate family. Daniel's parents and brother and my parents were all together. When I first asked my mom about having Daniel's parents over for Thanksgiving, I thought I would ease her mind about having to cook for so many people and tell her that I would cook the entire meal. So I did! I used several of Daniel's family recipes and some of my own to create a delicious dinner. Mom bought the food and I prepared it. Daniel's mom brought ham and homemade bread and an apple pie.
Rosemary Turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, bread, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, squash casserole, cheesy carrots, sweet green beans, cranberry sauce - YUM!!! I wish I could eat this meal for every meal!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Bray Boutique

My embroidery and sewing work now has a facebook page. It has brought me many more orders! :) I had a somewhat hard time thinking of a name. I wanted to do something that matched - like the B's (Bray Boutique). But as an RN I sign my name A.Bray and I really liked the sound of that. So that's what I went with.  Here's some of the recent stuff by A Bray Boutique. I've learned a lot and expanded my ordering options.
My newest obsession. These shirts are adorable!
I learned to sew a straight line and started making pillowcase dresses!
I had several Valentine's orders!
Love pink and green! And this font!
This was a gift that I gave a sweet friend from college. Made me so happy to do something with Lockhearts and the W!
I started embroidering dish towels for Christmas gifts.