Sunday, December 12, 2010

CARES and Christmas

We have officially moved in to The Coventry "Luxury Apartments". Amanda worked Tuesday-Thursday night, slept about 2 hours on Friday and began packing the house on Highgrove. Wow, how did we accumulate so much stuff?! The apartment complex let us start moving in on Friday so the first things we tried to pack were the linen closet and the kitchen pantry. We didn't get very far on Friday and finally we had some friends that came over and helped us get things started. Saturday was when the real fun began. The house WAS NOT packed and all our friends showed up to help move. People just started throwing things in boxes for us and loading it into the trailer or someone's truck. I think we got everything over to the apartment. It's been fun opening a box and finding kitchen pans with Jack's dog toys and books all packed into one box - how? We went and cleaned the house on Sunday. Our vacuum cleaner got a work out and subsequently died while trying to vacuum the very last room. So our friend Natalie got a broom and swept the rest of the carpet, haha. The Highgrove house was always super dirty no matter how much I cleaned. The little $30 vacuum cleaner did us good for a year and a half.
The apartment is wonderful! We have a 2 bed/2 bath with a nice size laundry room (which we have never had before!) and really tall ceilings (which Daniel loves!) and a long back porch for Jack to be lazy on and bark at our neighbors. Most of the boxes have been unpacked and the contents have found a home. Many things have gone into "garage sale" boxes. We hope to have a CARES event and do a complex-wide yard sale in the Spring. We'll see.
Jack has transitioned very well. We bought him a new LARGE wire kennel and he is the current resident in our guest room. If you choose to come and visit he will move to the living room for the time. He did great with the kennel, within 5 minutes he was trained. The word "bed" and a treat go a long way with him. We left him out while we ran an errand yesterday for about an hour and he didn't tear anything up! Yay Jack! Progress.
We've attended 2 CARES events that the current team has hosted so that we can start to get to know the neighbors. It seems that most of the people who attend one, attend most all. Thursday before our move was a Christmas wrapping party. CARES provided the tape/scissors/wrapping paper/boxes/tissue paper, and you brought the gifts. And some amazing cupcakes! Yesterday (Saturday) was the Breakfast with Santa and guess who got to be Santa? Daniel.

He did so good with all the little children and didn't fuss too much about having to wear the costume for 4 hours. We had (well at least I had) a good time getting to know moms and dads that live near us and introducing ourselves as the new CARES team. We have some wonderful people who live in this complex and we are so excited to start to get to know people!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Christmas Card by Shutterfly

Christ Wishes Religious Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Card Fever

I LOVE Christmas Cards!!! Especially ones with pictures of the family, all dressed in the same red and green argyle sweaters and khaki pants, or the one of the kids with Santa, or the one with the dogs with elf ears/Santa hats/angel wings/etc.

Last year, Daniel and I sent a card out with our picture and a simple design that said Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. But this year we are going to use Shutterfly to design our photo card. They have so many more options to choose from - and they are so much cuter!

I've used Shutterfly numerous times for my picture needs. You can get great prices on prints and then they usually have some code out for free shipping for a certain amount on your purchases. I made our moms a photo scrapbook through Shutterfly as a thank you for all that they did during/for the wedding and they both loved it! Many people have turned to Shutterfly for scrapbooking - all you do is upload your pictures, pick a design, organize the pictures and add caption and ta da, you have a scrapbook mailed to your doorstep. I made a calendar for the first year of my marriage with pictures of Daniel and I and it was free with a code! I paid $6 for shipping. They have such awesome deals! And did I mention that we ordered all of our wedding pictures through them - amazing quality!

I'm still trying to decide which card I want to use this Christmas. Here are a few that you may see in the mail from us this year:

I can't decide what I like best - probably the last one. It so hard to choose!

So go pick out your Christmas Cards this year with Shutterfly! Here's a link for their Christmas Cards:

And if you're planning a Christmas Party they can assist you with invitations too! See here:

And if you're struggling with gift ideas for family and friends, did you know that you can put a picture on just about anything? Shutterfly knows, and they do it! Start with something like their calendar and make one of you and your friends or family as a gift! Here ya go:

Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, a time for family and friends, and remembering all the blessings that God has given you throughout the year. I hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas this year!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

November in a Nutshell

Going, going, going... seems to be all we do. November has been full of travels and very little time for much else other than work. We celebrated Daniel's birthday the weekend of the 12th - yes, he got a full weekend for his birthday. We drove up to Broken Bow, Oklahoma to camp and attempt fly fishing. Key word: attempt.

Daniel was pretty awesome at the whole thing, but the fish just weren't interested. There was a folk festival at the state park that weekend and we enjoyed some amazing fair food, cute crafts, and folk music. The food was a nice break from canned soups and oatmeal. Jack went with and enjoyed every minute of the trip. He's such a good travel companion and a great guard dog - especially in the middle of the night when he hears racoons in the woods and wakes the entire camp up.

Some of the pretty fall colors!

We got home on Monday afternoon, I worked Monday and Tuesday night, and then I flew to Birmingham, AL on Wednesay for Erika's wedding. Prior to making it to the airport, my car decided to be difficult and breakdown at a gas station. Thank goodness for good friends who are willing to drive in rush hour traffic to take me to the airport in Dallas! Thursday, Kristen and I shopped and prepared for Erika's lingerie party; Friday we decorated the church and reception hall. Erika and Chadwick got married at Tannehill State Park in a 100 year old church and had the reception at an old school house.

The happy couple and us!

The decorations were beautiful and we had a lot of fun putting everything together. They did a rustic themed wedding with grape-vine wreaths and mason jars with candles. I became a master crafter that weekend as I helped make all the bouquets for the Bride and Bridesmaids, I decorated tables, and made/hung chandeliers made out of the wreaths and mason jars.
We decorated the chalkboards in the schoolhouse with pictures and Bible verses. We had more than enough to eat at Johnny Carino's after the rehearsal. The wedding was at 6pm on Saturday and it was a beautiful fall evening. Everything turned out perfect and Erika and Chadwick drove off after running under a tunnel of sparklers - slightly dangerous, but it made for some amazing pictures!

Daniel and I helped pack up some stuff from the wedding and then we made our way to Tuscaloosa to spend some time with my family.

Sunday included Cypress Inn (one of Daniel's favorite places to eat in T-town) and lots of shopping. We got to spend some time with some of my high school friends that night at a new yogurt place, it was great to catch up with them. After lunch and a little more shopping on Monday, Daniel and I headed back to Pelahatchie to spend time with his family. We had a big Thanksgiving meal Monday night and then spent time with family on Tuesday. Daniel had taken my engagement/wedding rings to the jeweler to get them fixed and I went to pick them up on Tuesday and spent time with my friend Brooke - this was much needed in my life! We headed home on Wednesday after stopping in Vicksburg to see Brett and Laura Beth and Kelty. Jack still really likes Kelty (He came with us, but stayed in MS the whole time with Daniel's parents).

That left work on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

On another note, we found out that we got a CARES placement while we were traveling! It is for an apartment complex near our house that we currently live in. It's huge! They already have a team, but they are leaving this week and want a smooth transition into a new team, so hopefully we will get to interview with management seomtime this week. We are so excited about this new journey! This placement will keep us in Fort Worth for 2 more years, but we are ok with that. We're excited to see what God has in store for us over the next 2 years here, and what he has for us after that!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My heart hurts, my soul rejoices

The Book of Job in the Bible tells the story of a man called Job; he was a man of God, and God allowed the devil to put Job through a series of trials. Through it all Job trusted God and he refused to insult God. Job's friends disagreed with Job's attitude. They did not think that God would allow an innocent person to suffer. They thought God was punishing Job. Job suffered and God taught him through his suffering. He learned that death is not the end, that God is good and fair and just. Job showed the love of God to his friends through his suffering. They saw God because of him. God restored Job. God was glorified.

This morning, a dear brother went to be with our Lord. His name is Christian Schmidt, and he was 21. I grew up with him and his family in our church; his brother and I are the same age. The Schmidt family is a family of great faith, and they were always serving in our church and at the schools. They constantly gave of themselves to serve others and share the light of Christ in this dark world. Christian's desire was to become a pastor one day and share the Word with the world. His freshman year of college at Mississippi College, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer that rocked their family's world, but not their faith. He was able to finish out the first semester and came home the second to start some aggressive treatments. Through it all he sought to keep Christ first and glorify our Father with his attitude and actions. Many things have happened in the past 2 years of his illness. He had some good news, as well as lots of bad news. He completed more classes, had many more treatments, loved on his family and friends, and was supported and encouraged through lots of prayer. For the most part, he was without pain for the 2 years which I praise God for. God took that pain from him so the he could continue to do the work that God had planned for him. God allowed these trials to burden his body, but not his heart, mind, or soul. God gave him the strength to complete the tasks that He had set before Christian. When Christian found out about the cancer, he went straight to work to make our Father KNOWN among our town, county, state, nation, as well as internationally. He had such a wonderful and powerful testimony and I'm so thankful that he had the strength and boldness to share his love for our amazing Father. Christian wrote sermons to pass his time. He studied the Word and spent time with our Father. He knew that he may not make it through this trial but made sure that he could leave parts of his his heart and his faith in our Father for others to see and read. Weekly, even daily, he would post a note on Facebook, and eventually started his own blog. A student at the University of Alabama decided to do a documentary on Christian's life, another way to spread the Gospel and Christian's testimony. Christian's fight ended this morning. His battle is over. He was victorious. Christ was victorious. Christian was a true example of what it means "to live is Christ, to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21). If only we were all so bold. I cannot say that I understand why this happened to Christian, but if it's anything like Job's situation, it's because God knew that Christian would prevail through Christ and ultimately bring Him glory.

Please pray with me for the Schmidt family. They have been through so much in the past few years, and I pray that blessings surround them for raising a young man such as Christian. Christian was a blessing and an inspiration to all those who knew him.

To God be the glory, forever and ever, amen.

To read Christian's goodbye and all of his other sermons, click HERE.

And we also lost another brother today, Nick Bell, a football player from Mississippi State. I do not know much of his story, but he also battled cancer. Please be in prayer for the Bell family as well.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happiness in Autumn

I just love fall weather. Leaves changing. SEC football. Long-sleeve t-shirts. Cheaper utilities because NOTHING is on and all the windows are open in the house. Pumkins everything. Mums. Allergies. Yep, fall is awesome.

Not too much has been going on in the Bray Household. We're awaiting the holidays so we can visit our families. Of course, holidays are not on the real holidays as I'm a nurse and I'm required to work various major holidays (and I'm taking off for both New Years Eve and Day so we can go to India) but it's all about the family time and the purpose, not necessarily the exact date. I will be flying home prior to Thanksgiving for a friend's wedding weekend and then Daniel will eventually join me and we'll go visit our families and eat some good food; and I'm attempting to schedule off a 6 day period so we can go home again before Christmas (and get more good food). I just love the holidays!

Daniel has been working hard in school - lots of reading, testing, and studying. If you want to talk theology, he's your man. We've had numerous nights of seminary couples over to our house to discuss what everyone is studying. The wives learn so much through our husbands. Speaking of wives, I'm also through with the seminary wives class. Yay! I haven't learned too much that I didn't feel like I already knew (but now it's written down and ready for teaching as a missionary wife!), but it's been enjoyable to get to know some of the other women and I'm getting to know some of the international wives. Some of the material that I've received I'll try to use while I'm in India during the women's studies. Other than that my life revolves around working at the hospital. I've worked several weekends now and I don't get to spend nearly as much time with our friends as I used to.

Daniel had his first preaching experience a few Sundays ago. He was asked to preach a Sunday morning worship service at a local hospital about 30 minutes away. Many others have preached on previous Sundays but no one ever attended. We had 3 nurses who joined us and Daniel preached the whole book of Colossians in 45 minutes.
India is still in the picture right now. We sent off for our Visas back in September so we're patiently waiting for those to return. In the meantime, God is still giving up little bits of encouragment in various ways. I've recently found out that two respiratory therapists that I work with are from Kerala State (where we will be going) and they have been a wealth of knowledge about culture and what to expect. Both are very excited that I get to visit their home and they've given me lots of ideas on things to do while we're there. God is providing the money little by little. We started out by selling a bunch of books and DVDs that we don't need and we raised about $300 just from that. We are including all of the extra money that I make at work that is not "normal" pay (such as overtime and rewards). And yesterday I counted change that we've been collecting for the past few months and we had $48. We're planning to do a garage sale sometime this fall and Daniel has agreeed that all of his Birthday money is going to help pay for the trip, along with all of our Christmas money. Tickets are crazy expensive. The cost of being there won't be much, but getting there is the issue. If anyone wants to buy a handmade pen/pencil from Daniel, all that money will go toward India - great for Christmas gifts! We had a friend buy a pen and pencil that match for about $50 - but that's depending on the wood and pen kit. We do special orders and bulk orders! :)

We still haven't heard anything about the CARES program yet, we're waiting to see if they have an apartment complex for us by the end of the year. We would love to participate in this ministry if it's where the Lord wants us to serve. Either way, we'll most likely need to find a new place to live next January because this house is just too expensive for us to be trying to live and save money at the same time.

God is good and he continues to bless us each day. We still love life and love being married and living in Texas. We miss our friends and family at home of course, but we know this is where God wants us for now. Please be in prayer about the trip to India.

My verse for the week:

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it"—when you have it with you." Proverbs 3:27-28 -- Love God. Love People.

Friday, October 1, 2010


David Platt : Radical Series
Listen/Watch/Learn/Grow/Be Challenged

"Suffering. Rejoicing. Squalor. Beauty. Love. Pain."
This young woman faces challenges every day. She sees a lot of pain and suffering, hurt and hopelessness, hunger and abuse; but shares her joy in the Lord and continues to praise Him through it all .

Lord, I simply desire to be used by you each day that you allow me life. No matter how big or how small it may seem. Teach me. Grow me. Show me. Allow me to love others as you love me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

God is good.

It's looking more and more like we're going to India. We asked God to provide if it's His will. And he's beginning to. We received $1000 in about a week. Some because of sacrifices we made, but more because God is just that good. My boss has given me permission to have off work for 2 more weeks. I've got overtime shifts scheduled to help pick up some extra costs. Now we're on to applying for our visas and seeing if the country will allow us access. :) Yay! My mom has been worried about "problems" in India that she's heard about. I've prayed about that as well. I definitely want to go somewhere safe, but at the same time, God may not send us to a safe place one day. We must be bold and faithful that He will provide and that he will watch over us. But the majority of the problems are in the small towns in Northern India and we will be the southern part and in a larger town. We're excited about what's to come!
This week has been ICP (international church planting) week at the seminary. All the chapel services have been about mission work. Monday night we went to the seminary for a meeting with some European missionaries and some reps from the IMB. The missionaries shared some stories about what God is doing in their country and the rep talked about application process and things that have changed recently with the appointing process. He told us that we need to apply about 18 months before we are ready to be appointed - so we're already behind. Haha. Daniel plans to finish his classes here in Dec '11 so we would be ready to leave as soon as he's finished. Yikes!
However, we're applying to be hospitality team at a local apartment complex that requires a 2 year contract, so if it all works out, we'll be here for at least 2 more years. It's an awesome program that works to help aparments with resident retention. We would be called the "CARES team" and we would plan and implement about 3-4 parties/events a month in the community and be in charge of visiting tenants. We've passed the phone interview and we're head first into the application now. Again, we're excited to see where the Lord leads us next.
Wednesday me and Daniel and two new friends of ours went out to "take the hill." The seminary has been working for the past year to make sure that every house within a one mile radius of the seminary has had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Let me just say that there are a LOT of houses within a one mile radius of the seminary. Every student was asked to take 5 houses and were also given a bag with a Spanish and English New Testament, tracks (in both languages) and some other information to leave if no one was home. A few people weren't home, a few didn't speak English, but we did get to talk with one young man. He is around our age and claimed that he knew nothing of what we were talking about. We shared our hearts with him for about 30 minutes, telling him of the love that our Father offers him. While he made no decision that day, he was very interested in what we were saying and took a New Testament and promised to call us if he had questions or wanted to talk more. We thanked God for that oportunity to plant seeds and we pray for someone else to come along and water them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cooking with the Brays

I haven't posted much of the food that we've been baking and cooking lately. I've been trying out new (and some old) recipes and I thought I would share some with my blogger world. It all started a few weeks ago with some recipes that I found online. We eat chicken A LOT, and there are only so many things we can do with chicken. When we went home to MS a few weekends ago, Mrs. Sharon gave us some of her vegetables that she had canned (including squash, green beans, butter beans, and also some jams/jellies!). While we were there, we had a birthday party for PaPaw and Aunt Kim complete with brisket, broccoli salad, squash casserole, homemade desserts, and a bunch of other food that I can't even remember right now. Anyway, I fell in love with the squash casserole and was so excited to find the recipe in our Bray Family Cookbook that Nana made us for a wedding present. So that night, I made fried chicken, Bray Family squash casserole (but I made it my own with a few different ingredients) and green beans. Did I mention the homemade gravy? It was so good! Definitely not the kind of meal we feed our CVICU patients as it was not heart healthy at all and I'm sure that meal clogged a few arteries. The picture makes most of it look like mush, but it was soooo good!

My next attempt at a new recipe was for the 4 Cheese-Veggie Lasagna Cups. Basically, biscuits, tomato sauce, cheese, and frozen vegetables. Again, I just used what I had at the house, so I didn't use the ricotta cheese or garlic or parsley, but they still turned out very yummy!

1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® Flaky Layers refrigerated original biscuits (8 biscuits)
1 bag (12 oz) Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen broccoli, carrots, cauliflower & cheese sauce
3/4 cup diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and onion (from 14-oz can)
1/3 cup Italian-style tomato paste (from 6-oz can)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (5 oz)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Separate 2 biscuits into 3 layers each; add 1 layer to each of remaining 6 biscuits. In ungreased jumbo muffin pan, press each biscuit on bottom and up side of muffin cup.
2. Microwave frozen vegetables as directed on bag. Pour vegetables into medium bowl; stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and garlic.
3. In small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of the parsley. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon ricotta mixture into each biscuit. Top each with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese and rounded 1/4 cup vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and parsley.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and filling is hot. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Carefully run knife around side of cups to loosen; remove from pan. Cool 10 minutes longer before serving. Serve warm.

(I added tops to mine, but that's evidently not the way I was supposed to do it! Haha.

Friday when I woke up to go to work, I found this on the counter waiting for me. A delicious catfish fillet with peppers and onions and tater tots!

Last Sunday we had a fellowship meal after church. We always have some sort of theme or style of food and this Sunday was Breakfast. Daniel made a Cheesy Hasbrown Casserole with ham and bacon. (it's the mostly yellow casserole in the picture) The Joostens made a Sausage Caserole, and the Jencks made an omlet casserole. We also had pancakes and some wonderful desserts including coffee cake, pretzel salad, and a Cherry Delight cake that I made. Yum Yum!

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole
1 bag frozen hashbrowns
1 stick butter
4-6 cups of cheese (depends on how cheesy you like things)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz of sour cream
ham cut into small pieces (we used sandwich meat)
crumbled bacon
Cook the hashbrowns in a skillet with the butter and add your choices of seasoning. When they are tender, mix everything else together (save a cup or 2 of cheese for the topping) and place in a 9x12 baking dish and heat in the oven at 350 for 15-30 minutes until it is all warm and the cheese on top is melted.

Cherry Delight Breakfast Cake (or for any other meal!)
from Left to right: pretzel salad, coffee cake, and my cherry delight.

1 pkg. cherry chip cake mix
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1/2 c. slivered almonds (I did not have these, therefore I did not use them)

Mix together cake mix, butter, and eggs. Pour into ungreased 13 x 9 pan. Spread cherry pie filling over top and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. (I had to bake for about an hour)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
mix together and drizzle on top

This past weekend my mom informed me that my Nannie passed away. My Nannie was not a blood relative, but she was just like a grandma to me when I was young. She lived in Oklahoma and I spent many afternoons during my visits to OK with her baking. She has some amazing recipes that I now have in my collection. Her infamous chocolate chip cookies, pecan pies, pecan nut rolls, and brownies are just a few. My mom and I would always try to make her recipes at home after leaving, but we never could make the quite like she could. We always said that it was because she put so much love into her baking. Cheesy, but it's true. Nannie was a special lady and in memory of her I made chocolate chip cookies from her recipe. Of course, they we're even close to hers, but it took me down memory lane and I got to relive some of my precious experiences with my Nannie. That's what cooking is. It's memories and love and fully bellies. :) I'm so thankful for those experiences.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Those Christians"

I haven't posted anything exciting lately because, well, nothing that was super "blog-worthy" has happened since New Mexico. However, this past week, Daniel got a job, started back to seminary, I started the seminary wives' class, we have the opportunity to go to India, I got 5 days off work in a row and we actually stayed HOME, and we're preparing for a trip to Arkansas with our good friends Brett and Laura Beth, and Bobby and Vanessa, and maybe a few other special friends that it's been way to long to visit with.

Job: Daniel is now working for Rockhaven Learning Center here in Fort Worth. He was originally hired to be what they called a Site Director (he would have been over the tutors and a liaison to the school and RLC), but RLC recently found out that the schools were going to be charging an outrageous amount of money for them to use the school's classrooms so they won't be tutoring in the schools this year. So Daniel is now officially a tutor. Thanks to "no child left behind" and your tax dollars, Daniel is now employed.

Seminary: Daniel is taking 13 hours this semester. He's in his 3rd semester of Greek, and also taking Church History, Old Testament, and New Testament. And he's still loving it. He's like a school-aged boy who comes home and has to tell mom everything he's learned during the day. Except he's a grown man and comes home to his wife and is teaching her in the process. I had my first seminary wives class last Tuesday. There are over 100 wives in the class. Four of the women in my church are taking the class with me. It's going to be an interesting class as the teacher is the president of the seminary's wife, and she is Superwoman. She does it all and I'm excited to learn from her.

India: This past Sunday our pastor told us about a trip to India at the end of the year. He's invited Daniel and I to go. There is a friend of our Pastor who has started over 200 churches around his area, a Bible college (or a few, not sure), and children's homes for orphans. Daniel will go to teach at the college and encourage the believers. I will be going to hopefully help with some basic medical needs, love on some precious children of God, and encourage the women. We are still praying about this trip as it is quite expensive and we currently do not have that kind of money to spend. But we are making sacrifices (selling things, not buying things - not animals) and seeing how God leads our finances in the next week or so. Please be in prayer about this decision.

5 days off: Not a very exciting time around the Bray house. Lots of sleeping, cleaning, watching movies, and playing with Jack.

Arkansas: I actually got the entire Labor Day weekend off so we are heading to Arkansas for some camping, hiking, and rock climbing with some amazing friends! We had originally tried to get a bunch of our couple friends from MS to join in, but people have jobs and other plans so that didn't work out.
Now for the Title of this blog. Daniel read this to me earlier today as we were discussing what it truly means to be a Christian and what it should look like to the world. In his Church History class, their textbook had this anonymous letter that was from the second century. It is referring to Christians of the early church.

"For Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language, or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect or have some peculiar lifestyle.
This teaching of theirs has not been contrived by the invention and speculation of inquisitive men; nor are they propagating mere human teaching as some people do. They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food and other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the wonderful and certainly unusual form of their own citizenship.
They live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.
They marry and have children just like everyone else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present 'in the flesh' but they do not live 'according to the flesh'. They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives.
They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.
Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.
To put it simply -- the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians through all cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but not of the world."

We don't know if this person was a Christian or not, but just think, what if he was a non-Christian and this is how he recognized believers of the early church. Is this what non-believers see in Christians today? Christians were not luke-warm in the early Church. They stood up for beliefs and defended their faith and were ultimately killed for it in many cases. We are so consumed by the world sometimes, we forget what we truly live for. This world has damaged us as followers of Christ. We are sidetracked so often with material possessions, worries, money, and our day-to-day lives, when really it's all about our relationship with our Father and the love that he wants us to show others. So I guess the question is are you one of "those Christians"?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jackson and the Water Hose

Our dog does some silly things, and he constantly keeps us entertained and laughing. Since it's been so hot lately and he stays outside most of the day, we go out and hose him off to try and keep him cool. He likes to play with the water more than cool off.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One life at a time...

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference, it's impossible!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.
Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one.”
- from somewhere else, but reposted on The Journey Blog *see below*

Goodness, my heart is breaking right now. For the past 4 years now, it has been a huge desire in my heart to work/own an orphanage one day. Recently, my amazing friend Katie (who by the way was just diagnosed with Malaria - please pray for her!) has been to and from Africa twice this summer working with an orphanage in Ghana. Reading her stories and seeing her pictures just fill my heart with sorrow and joy at the same time. Hearing her stories, led me on a search for other stories of African orphanages and I have found two girls who have given up their lives in order to serve children in Unganda for our Lord. I've been catching up on their blog posts (I am starting from back in 2007) and my heart breaks. There is so much pain, suffering, hunger, and death in their stories. But amazingly, there are also stories of love, compassion, faith, healing, and joy. God is truly a loving Father, and I thank Him for sending these girls, as well as others, to Africa to share His love to an seemingly unloved people group. God is the God of hope and of healing. I just cannot truly put into words how much these stories have touched my heart and the emotions that overflow from my soul. My heart and soul yearn to share the love of our great and wonderful and powerful Father with these children who are fatherless and unloved by any human. But until then, my heart serves Him here, in Fort Worth, in my hospital, in my church, in my community. I pray that I do not become content with where I am, and I continually seek His face and show His love to all those around me. I cannot do it all, I am only one person. But with the Lord, hearts can be mended, physical ailments can be healed, love can be restored. One life can be saved. Be bold.

Serving His Children
The Journey
Katie's African Adventures

Also from The Journey by a girl named Katie (not the Katie with malaria, although I'm sure this girl has had malaria at one point or another in her life). This post was from November 2007, after being there since June of the same year. There are so many things I wish I could share from her blog, her stories, her children, her love, but this is just a small piece of a sister's heart. It's challenging.

"someone asked me the other day, "really? is it really as great as you make it sound?i could never do that! are you really happy?" for all of you who wonder, this is my response.
you know what i want sometimes? to go to the mall and spend a ridiculous amount of money on a cute new pair of shoes. i want to sit on my kitchen counter chatting with my girlfriends and eat a whole carton of cookie dough ice cream. i want to watch grey's anatomy, or any tv for that matter. i want to cuddle with my sweet boyfriend. i want to hop in my cute car, go to the grocery store, and pick up any kind of produce i want. i want to wake up in a house with my loving family, not all by myself. i want to go to blockbuster and pick out a movie to watch with my little brother and his friends and i want to cook for them at midnight. i want to spend mindless hours with my best friends talking about boys and fashion and school and life. i want to go to the gym. i want my hair to look nice. i want to wear cut off jean shorts. i want to be a normal teenager living in america. i do.
but. you know what i want more? ALL the time?
i want to be spiritually and emotionally filled every day of my life. i want to be loved and cuddled by100 children and never go a day without laughing. i want to wake up to a rooster, my two africa dogs, and a splendid view of the nile river. i want to be challenged endlessly; i want to be learning and growing every minute. i want to be taught by those i teach. i want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. i want to work so hard that i end every day filthy and too tired to move. i want to feel needed, important, used by the Lord. i want to make a differnce and i want to follow the calling that God has planted deep in my heart. i want to give my life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. i want to be here. right here. "

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation to New Mexico

Daniel, Jackson, and I took a road trip to New Mexico a few weeks ago for some much needed "family" time. We packed our camping gear, bought a few more things we needed for rock climbing, and took Jack some treats and we were on our way. I don't remember much of the drive over as I had my nose in a Francine Rivers' book. Jack did great in the back of the car, finding his spot behind my seat so Daniel couldn't throw him around on the slippery backseat while driving.

During the 10 hour drive, Jack was either doing this:

Or this:

I don't think Daniel or I realized how beautiful New Mexico is. The scenery from Fort Worth to Santa Fe just got better and better as we got closer to the mountains. We had a few encounters with rain storms, but overall the drive was incredibly beautiful even with some dark clouds along the way.

We made it to Santa Fe Saturday afternoon and got a book on local rock climbing and bought some dinner at Cowgirls. The restaurant had a patio, but they weren't too dog friendly so we took it to go and sat at a picnic table near the train station.

Downtown Santa Fe was incredible, and everyone loved Jack. We even found an REI in downtown and got Daniel a pair of climbing shoes. I also forgot to mention that it was drizzling most of the afternoon. Thank goodness for rain jackets! Before it got dark, we made our way to Santa Fe National Park to set up our accommodations for the night. We found a nice little patch of dirt by a creek that was away from the other campers so Jack wouldn't disturb the peace. It was raining by the time we started setting up the tent. We took Jack a "pop-up" kennel that we found at Walmart so he had his very own camping tent. I think he appreciated being out of the rain, and he slept all night without making a sound.

Daniel and I were not prepared for how cold it was in NM. Our nights in FW are like our days. Hot. Not so in NM. We both woke up numerous times throughout the night shivering. I thankfully took 1 long sleeve shirt and 2 pairs of pants, but Daniel brought neither. We had two fleece sleeping bags and a sheet that I had used in the car. Not very warm to say the least.

After a restless night, we packed up and hit the road to to some site-seeing in the mountains and find some rocks to climb.

There is one big loop through the mountains and it was beautiful. It was drizzling again that morning so we held of on trying to find the rock climbing until the afternoon. Once the sun came out we made our way to an overlook near the rocks we were planning to climb. We dried out the tent and other camping gear and enjoyed the view.

To get to the rocks we had to go into a residential area, walk between two houses with a viscious dog in one of the backyard and climb down a large cliff. Jack needed quite a bit of encouragement, he wasn't too sure about the small steps down the side of the cliff. But in the end he made it, and had a great time running around on the rocks.

We spent about an hour and a half climbing before the sky opened up and we were soaked. We had planned to drive to a different campsite for the night, but in the end decided to go back to the place we knew, but we picked a different patch of dirt this time. Jack didn't care for his kennel as much the second night, but he was barking at everything when we left him chained up so we literally had to wrestle him into the kennel. We all got really dirty.

After another cold we night, we woke up to a bright sun-shiny day! We headed to the overlook again, had lunch, dried our gear, and walked down the overlook for some other places to climb. Jack again needed encouragement but he did great once we got going. The overlook area was incredible.
Sorry no pictures of Daniel climbing, just me. It's hard to take pictures while belaying someone on the rope.

After climbing for a while, we took a break and just laid on a rock enjoying the view.
I really like this picture.

We finished climbing and drove a few hours to another campsite near Toas. Our plan was to make it to Toas for camping, but it got dark too soon, so we took a detour to another national park nearby (and by nearby I mean an hour and a half off the highway). Again, we wrestled Jack into his kennel and we all passed out for the night. We drove into Toas the next day to find some good food, and ended up a very good local Tex-Mex restaurant. We then stopped by a juice bar so we could get some WiFi and find a place to stay for the night. We decided to pick a park with some showers. We couldn't have asked for a better campsite. There were quite a few people there, most in campers, but the views were awesome.
Our tent and the view.

We took a short hike to the top of one of the nearby mesas. You could see for miles. Gorgeous. I really wish our cameras hadn't died. I just can't even explain how awesome it was. We woke up at midnight to nearby lightning and thunder. When we peaked out the tent to see how close the storm was, it looked pretty viscous and close, so we decided to go sleep with Jack. We had decided not to fight Jack into the kennel for the last night and we just let him sleep in the car with the sunroof open. (It was also cougar and bear country and we really didn't want Jacked eaten on our last night camping.) The storm missed us so we went back to the tent around 1am, but then our neighbors decided to go the bathroom across from our site, and then two crazy guys were cursing at the top of their lungs at each other, which all sent Jack into fits of barking. So, I got the pleasure of sleeping in the car with him overnight to keep him calm. I'm pretty sure it was warmer than the tent. We headed out early in the morning after making a stop at the showers. It's really nice to shower after 4 days of only using baby wipes to try and get clean. Another 10 hours and we were home, in our own soft comfy bed, and we finally got a good nights rest. We can't wait to go back to the beautiful mountains of NM! Who wants to join us?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

$$ I Love Saving Money! $$

My latest big-savings trip to my local Kroger!

Total before sales and coupons: $123.70
Total spent: $43.86!!!

Highlights of the deals:
Cottonelle 12 pack double rolls - $3.99 (I have more coupons, and I will definitely go back and stock up on this! - that's cheap for good TP!)
Tombstone Pizzas - $0.49
Philladelphia Cream Cheese - FREE!
Suave Deo - FREE
Rolaids - FREE
Smart Balance Milk - $0.99
Wishbone Dressing - $0.74
Whole Wheat Pasta - $0.50 (actually from last week's deals, but I added it in too)
Hunts Tomatoes - $0.45
Pepsi Products - $0.79
Rice-A/Pasta Roni- $0.79

Plus a few of the other staples such as bread, milk, and ice cream.

Plus I got a RedBox coupon good for one free night!
I think I see a date night with a frozen pizza, bottle of Pepsi, and a RedBox movie coming up! :)

Thanks to Couponing 101 for helping me find my deals!

More from the much needed vacation

Another relaxing beach picture for your enjoyment.

Mom and I ended up buying a beach umbrella at Walmart so I could at least go out on the beach and sit in the shade. (renting a chair and umbrella on the beach from the resort was like $30/day! Ridiculous! We spent $30 at Walmart on a chair and umbrella.) I did get to tan a little more, just very carefully and covered in SPF50. I just enjoyed the beach too much to not at least to sit out there, listening to the waves, having sand between my toes, and reading a really good Francine Rivers book. On a side note, if you're looking for a good book to finish out the summer with, I highly recomend any of her books. I've only read 4, but I can't wait to start some more! Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion series are amazing! Those are her most popular. All 4 of these books are very challenging and make me realize how little faith I have at times, and they remind me how great our Father's love is for us. She is an amazing author and her words have ways of drawing you into the story and turning your heart. (Praise! A friend of mine's mother read Redeeming Love and gave her heart to the Lord after talking with her daughter-in-law about the story and it's meaning about God's redeeming love for His children!)
Back to the beach: Mom and I spent a lot a time being lazy, watching movies, eating, eating more, shopping, and laying on the beach being lazy again. I at 16 cupcakes in 5 days. That's pretty gross now that I think about it. But they sure were good at the time. My dad came down on Wednesday before I flew back to TX, and I was glad to be able to spend some time with him.

Had to get some palm tree pictures.

How cute is my mom with her pose? Haha.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The 4 S's: Sun, Sand, Shopping & Sunburns :)

I just love this view, don't you?

Mom and I have made it to PCB, Florida. I left Dallas on Thursday, after working Wednesday night. My flight was supposed to leave at 3pm, but after boarding, our plane was delayed for about 2 hours and we just sat there on the tarmac waiting until the storms passed. We finally arrived in Birmingham at 6:30pm. Funny side note of the trip: one of my next door neighbors from my childhood was on the same flight. We had a good time catching up. Friday morning mom and I hit the road headed toward Florida. After a stop in Chilton County for peaches and a stop at a gas station for some snacks, we arrived at the hotel, where mom realized she had lost her credit card at the gas station. They eventually found it so I drove 2 hours back to Ozark, AL to get her credit card. We got to our condo on Saturday afternoon and went out to the beach for a few hours. The condo is nice, across the road from the beach, and that have an awesome lagoon pool on the beach. We're loving it here!

What our villa looks like. There are lakes all over the resort and there is a golf course.

We spent Sunday morning/early afternoon on the beach and I enjoyed taking some pictures of the sand and water. I guess we spent a little too much time because I've got a nice sunburn on my shoulders. :)

We found a part of the beach that wasn't so crowded.

Beautiful. And hardly a cloud in the sky and not a tar ball in the water.

The bird looking for some minnows on the shore.

The kids next to us were making a sand castle.

I took my ring off to put sunscreen on and I thought it was a pretty picture.

And here is my mom getting attacked by a wave. :)

While I've been here, Daniel and Jackson took our friends Bobby and Vanessa to a state park in Texas for a camping trip. I only get to talk to Daniel every so often due to lack of service in the park, but they've been having fun in the water and sun as well thanks to a river that runs through the park. They've been hiking, swimming, and exploring. Daniel said that Jackson kept them up all night last night with his barking at various sounds that he's not used to. The last time we went hiking with Jackson, he was a puppy and was staying in his kennel or in our tent, plus he didn't know how to bark at that point. Hopefully they will have a better night tonight.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thinking, And Procrastinating. :-)

Since I never really posted anything about the Expo while we were in China, here is a link to my facebook album if you would like to see pictures. I tried to narrow it down to the most interesting - but all the buildings were interesting! Haha.

Daniel and I at the Seed Cathedral (UK's Pavilion)

I have had a fantastic 4 days off from work and I've loved being able to spend some time with Daniel. I have one more night off, then I go back for 4 nights in a row, then I'm flying home to head to Panama City Beach with my sweet mom who has planned a get-a-way trip for the two of us! I'll fly back to TX after a week, and the day I get home, I work again for 3 nights. Yes, I know I'm crazy. Poor Daniel is going to have almost 2 weeks without really being able to spend time with me. He said I deserve a vacation with my mom though. I love my husband. :) Everyone (at least those who have had a happy, Christ-centered marriage) told me before our wedding over a year ago, that if I thought I loved him now, just wait 30 years and then I'll know what real love is. They said that the love grows deeper with each day you spend together, and every day you pray together, and they couldn't have been more right! I look at my patients who tell me they've been married for 30, 40, 50, and sometimes even 60 years, and I tell them I look forward to being with my husband for that long. Old people in love are just so cute!

So, since I'll be away for a week, and unavailable due to my work schedule for another 7 days, it's time to clean the house and make sure I don't have a disaster of a house to come home to. I'm slightly lacking motivation at this point.

PCB in 6 days! Yay!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1st Anniversary, "Going", Friends, and Weddings!

Well, I had planned to update the blog with pictures of recent events, however, I can only find one of the memory cards at the present time.

Back to our "going" life.

I've finally figured out my sleeping schedule and I am officially back to my old habits when I have to sleep during the day for work. (That is, I cannot sleep throughout the entire day and wake up in the middle of the day for a few hours and go back to sleep.) I'm an early morning riser now, getting up anywhere between 6 and 7:30 most days. Mom I know you're proud. But it's been great because I can actually get things done while Daniel is still asleep.... laundry, dishes, couponing plans, grocery shopping, and play with Jackson. Speaking of couponing, guess what I did this morning? I have been searching high and low over the house for my check book (that I lost about 2 weeks ago) and $18 in register rewards from Walgreens that I acquired this past Monday. Well I found both after days of searching. The checkbook was in the couch, and the RR were outside, in the trashcan, in the bottom of the bag under a whole bunch of nasty food. Yuck. But, they were still in the bag so they only smell a little. :) Hope the cashier doesn't mind. But hey, it's $18!!

We have officially been married for a year!!! :) We celebrated on June 12 and 13th for our 1 year anniversary. We didn't get to go away or do anything super fun due to my work schedule, but it was still special nonetheless. We gave each other our gifts on the 12th and just spent the day being lazy and watching movies. It's amazing how much we miss each other when I'm working and he's in class! After spending 2 straight weeks with each other in China, I figured we would be sick of each other. But no, it made us miss each other even more when we were apart. We went to church on the 13th and then went to pick up our friends Bobby and Vanessa from the airport, then went to eat Mexican food with them at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We're so thankful for their friendship and yes, we did spend our anniversary picking our friends up at the airport. :)

Last weekend Daniel and I had a great roadtrip! I was called off work on Wednesday night due to a low census of patients so I got to sleep and pack. We left Thursday after Daniel got out of class and arrived in Vicksburg, MS around 8pm to stay with Brett and Laura Beth. We got to meet their sweet puppy Kelty and LB cooked a wonderful dinner! The boys watched the basketball and the girls got to catch up on life. I got to go shopping with LB the next day which was much needed! It's no fun to shop by yourself, and it's just not the same shopping with your husband as it is with another female. We stayed for lunch and then headed to Hattiesburg, MS to see Emily and Justin. Justin was on a business trip and didn't make it home until about 1am, but I got to spend some very much needed time with Emily! We went shopping for their new home that they just finished building and I think they are moving in this upcoming weekend! So exciting! I haven't seen Emily since December... and that's a long time for us to be apart since we spent the last 4 years of our life together constantly. Saturday morning I got to see an old college friend (that sounds so weird!) Lydia and we all went to see Justin and Em's new house. Then we were on the road again to Starkville, MS for 2 weddings and to see my parents.

David and Sara's Wedding was at 3pm. David was a college friend of Daniel's. We call him Big Dave. He's just as tall as Daniel. They were in the BSU together and played basketball. He married Sara - a perfect match! Their wedding was beautiful and full of worship and thanksgiving to the Lord for his blessings.

We saw lots of friends at their wedding, but couldn't stay long and had to get to Zach and Stacey's wedding at 5pm down the road. Their wedding was also very beautiful and we were so excited to be able to be their for their special day. They served their guests communion which I though was very special (and brave for Stacey carrying grape juice with her white dress!). Their reception was in West Point, so we were on the road again to the Ritz, an old theater turned reception hall. Great sit down meal of fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, salad, and ice cream in lieu of wedding cake! Stacey was a very important part in the story of how Daniel and I met and ultimately fell in love and we couldn't be more thankful for her friendship! Stacey was there for me on my wedding day and I wanted to make sure that she knew how grateful we were to have her in our life! Congrats Stacey and Zach!

After the weddings, we got to go back to the hotel and visit with Brad and Cari - again, much needed time with amazing friends! They are in Seminary at New Orleans, so we hardly get to see them. We can't wait for a camping trip with you two! When they left, Daniel and I got to enjoy our wedding cake topper! My mom had it in her freezer and we didn't see them before our first anniversary, so she brought it a week late. Still very yummy!!!! I now have the secret to freezing cake and having it last for a year! The cake was still white - the lighting was just bad.

By the way, my parents were at the hotel as well, we just didn't get to see them very much on Saturday due to how busy we were. Sunday we all went to church at our old church in Starkville. Again, got to see numerous faces that we haven't seen since December. For father's day we went to an old favorite - Old Venice - Yum! Daniel went to Columbus to play disc golf with some friends, and I hung out with my mom in the pool for the afternoon while dad napped. That night we introduced them to another favorite - Umi's. Mom wasn't very impressed, but dad ate some of the sushi that Daniel and I ordered. I ate way to fast to be able to enjoy it. But we haven't had good sushi like that since we left in December.

Monday we went to Dirt Cheap and got our hair cut then hit the road again. We stopped in Jackson to see Daniel's dad and my friend Brooke, then back to Fort Worth. We were glad to be home, but had an amazing time seeing everyone and can't believe how grown up we all are! Haha.

The other day our friends Bobby and Vanessa came over and informed us of an organization in Fort Worth called World Relief. They work with refugees from overseas and find homes, furnishings, jobs, etc. for these individuals and families who have had to flee their nations. Daniel found a job listing on their website for a position that was exactly what he's been looking for, so please be in prayer for this job. We were able to meet one of the refugees that they have become friends with. Such a blessing to our heart to hear this brother's story and be able to lift him up in prayer. We're excited out meeting more people and sharing our hearts and life with them. I've finally figured out what all my couponing freebies will be going to! :)

Friday we got to take our pastor's 3 oldest kids to the FW Museum of Science and History - so much fun!!! I'm not sure who had more fun, us or the kids. We played in the grocery store, dug for dino bones, went on a 4D ride to find natural gas, rode horses to herd cattle, played in the water, and came up with new inventions, as well as saw some of DiVinci's old inventions. Such a fun day!

That's been our life in Fort Worth as of lately. Hopefully I'll start blogging more and won't have such long posts!