Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mobile Mania

So if you'll remember back to a post I wrote last month, I mentioned making a polka dot crib mobile for Bella's room.  Here's a picture of the inspiration:

Well my friend Jennifer and I met up yesterday to give it a go at creating our own mobiles.  We had a blast getting to be crafty together :)  We didn't follow the tutorial exactly--we used a sizzix die and the Big Shot to punch the circles which saved us SO much time and sanity!  This too allowed us to have multiple sized circles.  Also, the bead tutorial from the inspiration seemed a bit intense, so we opted for fishing line and krazy glue (which proved to be intense enough for us!).  Oh, we also used fabric glue instead of hot glue to attach the ribbons--we didn't want all of those strings.

It ended up being a fun little project; and now that we have done the first one, I think any more we make would go a lot quicker.  We had to remind ourselves several times: "this is a project of love and beauty is found in the imperfections!"  But we were both really pleased with the results :)  I can't wait to get it hung in her room!

The original fabric.  I got 1/2 a yard of each and used about half of that.  To make one mobile, you could easily get by with 1/4 yard of fabric (if you're using a larger variety)--but remember to leave yourself a little wiggle room for mistakes!

Finished product in her room!


Tips if you decide to make your own:
1.  Get some really fun and diverse fabric!  This was the funnest part for me, and since I'm not doing a themed nursery or bedding set, my choices were much more expansive.  
2.  Remember to rotate your patterns and spacing when placing the circles on the ribbon--otherwise you'll have the same fabric hanging at the same level all the way around.  Put them in different orders along the ribbon.  Also, as in the tutorial, we did some ribbons with six circles and some with seven.  This helped vary the length of the ribbon and allowed our circles not to be at the same levels all the way around.
3.  Choose a thinner ribbon that is not too busy.  You don't want the pattern on the ribbon to get confused with or overpower the fabric.  
4.  Get at least TWO rolls of ribbon!  Both of us ran out (which thankfully happened late enough in the day where we were just giggly about it!).  Luckily, I had bought 5 different patterns of ribbon and one of them looked decent with the one I chose to use.  I used every bit of that second roll though!  After not liking the original ribbon she got once we started putting everything together, Jennifer and I ran to Walmart to get her some more.  We only bought one roll....  So by the time I left that afternoon, she was only able to finish half of her strands.  Ribbon drama!!
5.  Pick some cool beads.  I LOVED the beads Jennifer used--she got some stained wooden ones of all different sizes from Hobby Lobby and they were gorgeous!  I got some smaller natural colored ones, also from Hobby Lobby, and had my fantastic hubby spray paint them for me :)  It's all about preference and style.  But don't think the beads don't matter--they definitely make an impact!  Make sure you get enough of these too.  A lot of the length of the mobile is determined by the number of beads you use (and of course the length of the ribbon, but we want to keep things somewhat proportional).
The little beads I used--
Hunter spray painted them pink and brown

The gorgeous beads Jennifer used!  and they didn't have to be painted :)
6.  If you find out a stress-free way to attach the beaded section, please let me know!!!
7.  Have fun!  Remember it's a labor of love and beauty is found in the imperfections :)

happy crafting!  love, angie

Friday, July 22, 2011

Well that's "Pinterest"ing!

Ok, I have finally succumbed to the addicting world of Pinterest!  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, it's basically the ultimate idea hub.  It allows anyone to link an interesting or creative idea they find or create, which then allows other members to view and "pin" their posts.  You can "pin" these ideas you love to any "cork boards" that you create--basically allowing you to bookmark and organize the amazing ideas you find, all at the same time!  It is just fantastic...

But fair warning:  browsing this site can be quite addictive!

Today I created my first little inspiration from Pinterest.  Since our office is now transforming into Arabella's room, we had to get creative and repurpose a small, old entertainment center/storage unit in our kitchen.  It's now our desk--Newby household central.  And since I'm a very visual person and a classic list maker, it was driving me crazy that I no longer have desk space to leave out my notepads or my calendar. That's where Pinterest came in handy.  I found this great, easy, and cheap idea for making your own dry erase boards!  And they're so much prettier than those dull white ones...

All you need is a picture frame and a piece of scrapbook paper (obviously something not too busy, and a color light enough that you will be able to see the writing).  Cut the paper to the size of your frame, pop everything back in, hang it on the wall, and voila!  You're own little homemade dry erase boards :)

Simple silver frames for $5.99 at Michael's.  Craft paper, $0.59 a sheet.  Less than 15 dollars to create both of them!
I love the little bit of pizzazz they add to our new little "office" area!  Now to find something creative to use a shelf/storage unit over the computer :)

Now I just need a cute and easy way to store the markers...any suggestions?

Happy crafting!   love, angie

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Callin' Baton Rouge

Almost two months ago, we got to add another girl to the family!!!!  Blaine, Hunter's middle brother, married the beautiful Lindsey, and they moved to Baton Rouge.  Well, probably since they got engaged, we've been planning a trip to go visit them.  We had so many things that we wanted to go do together that Lindsey even typed up an itinerary! (she's so cute and organized)

So Friday when Hunter got off of work, we hopped in to Izzy (my little '05 Accord--loaded down with everything we'd need, including my six pillows and box fan) and headed across the Sabine.  We got there a little too late to do anything that night, which ended up being great.  We made nachos at the house, got to visit and joke around, and wrap the night up watching The Lincoln Lawyer (great movie by the way!).  Oh and how can I forget?!  During the movie we had phenomenal strawberry shortcake--chopped fresh strawberries, bisquick bisuits, and homemade whipped cream!  Yummo...

Saturday, we all slept a little later than we had anticipated, but it all worked out.  This was our day full of plans.  First we hopped in the car and headed east toward Abita Springs.  This little bitty town is the home of the brewery for Abita beer.  They have a free tour and tasting every hour and we made it just in time for the last one.  It was neat to see the process and how much the company has grown.  Of course, the boys enjoyed getting to taste the flavors they hadn't had before--along with a couple of their staple favorites.  Lindsey and I enjoyed their fresh brewed root beer!

Blaine and Hunter at the tap filling up their cups.  You could choose whichever flavor you wanted.
Me and Lindsey enjoying our root beer!
Blaine and Hunter in front of the Louisiana made from Abita bottle caps.
Once our tour was over, the sky decided it was time to let the bottom fall out.  So we waded back the car and headed back to Baton Rouge in the storm.  There, we dropped the boys off at Jim's firearms (a gun store that is way too large for me to have let Hunter loose in...I realized that after we left), and Lindsey and I headed to Plato's Closet and a few other places.  When the time came, we picked them up--after three phone calls, they were not coming outside, so Lindsey went and fussed at them in the very quiet gun store :)--and head to Boutin's for some good food and cajun dancing!

Luckily our wait wasn't too long, although there were only 12 tables in the whole place that weren't reserved for the night!  Plus, we got to read the history of the Cajuns and look at some historical photo books while we waited.  We had a decent dinner--the food wasn't quite as authentic as we were expecting--complete with boudin balls (spelled the correct way--Texans like to put an "a" in boudin...), crawfish wantons, stuffed shrimp, grilled catfish, and crawfish etouffee.  Not too shabby if you ask me.  Then after dinner, Hunter and I got to practice our little dance moves we learned with some of the old pros.  I hope when we're old, we can be one of those little (or big!) old couples who just floats across the dance floor.  They don't even seem like they have to think--they're the same little unit just working their way around so beautifully...we want to be like that one day.  Another perk of Boutin's is the dock and pond on the back of the restaurant.  You know those feeding stations for fish they have at hatcheries?  Well this little pond looked like one of those except for turtles!  I have never seen so many turtles in one place in my life--and on top of that, they were some active little boogers!

All of those little brown specks are turtles.  And the picture doesn't even begin to do justice for how many there were.  It was pretty neat to watch!
We wrapped up that night with a little frozen yogurt at Splendido.  It's one of those little places where you get to fix everything yourself and they charge by weight (of course they give you really big bowls to encourage lots of yogurt intake...).  It was really tasty!  But then again, how do you go wrong with yogurt topped with cookie dough and sprinkles?!

Sunday morning rolled around and we were treated to a home cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, biscuits, and bacon--all cooked by BLAINE!!  I was so impressed  :)  Then we got dressed and scurried off to a really wonderful church service.  The air conditioner wasn't working so we were all a little bit uncomfortable--but in a weird way, I was glad.  After having just read Irresistible Revolution and Crazy Love, I'm reminded that our service is not about comfort.  

On the way home, we stopped by Red Jacket--the firearms shop featured on the TV show Sons of Guns--for a quick photo op.  We figured that we wouldn't be able to go in, but they even have a security guard out front verifying you have an appointment or shooing you from the property!  He was kind enough to let us get our photo fix though (Hunter was as giddy as a school child!).

The store complete with Will's truck/Jeep-looking contraption.
After our couple of pictures, we fled the scene and headed home to pack up and visit a little more.  We decided we'd catch the movie we had intended to go see on Friday night that afternoon.  So we went and visited an old family friend and then headed to Perkins Rowe to see Horrible Bosses.  I could have done without the massive amount of profanity, but the show was actually really funny.  And that ended our weekend with our lovely Blaine and Lindsey.  It's so neat to be able to go stay and visit with one of his brothers--and it is a great feeling to see them doing so well!

As we trudged along back to Texas, we decided we needed one last little Louisiana fix and stopped at Coyote Blues in Lafayette for dinner.  For those of you who have never eaten at one, it's kind of like a Cajun Mexican  I got the crawfish and shrimp burrito and Hunter got shrimp diablo quesadillas--so tasty!  Although, I can't tell you that we enjoyed the food more than being in Lafayette and hearing the beautiful Cajun accents!  

And thus ended our journey.  We miss living in Louisiana more than anyone can imagine--it'll always be where we feel most at home.  Great weekend in the presence of great company! 

It's kind of weird to think about, but the next time we'll be able to go visit Blaine and Lindsey, they'll officially be Uncle B and Aunt Lindsey and we'll have a little lady named Arabella with us :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cookin' Up a Storm!

I have always enjoyed cooking (it's really the cleaning up after part that detracts me from the idea...), but when you work full time, it's tough to find the energy and umph at the end of the day to plan a meal.  I know I could have been one of those responsible and organized people who would plan out a menu, or even better, cook up a large amount of a free day and freeze the extras making the work day meals so much easier.  However, that required to much energy and umph too--and the tiny little detail that we needed to be home on a weekend!

But all of that is about to change!  The past two summers I have had full intention of sitting down with my cookbooks and trying all of these new meals--yeah, that didn't go far.  BUT, since I'm not having to go to inservices or get ready for the next school year, that little goal is happening!

My favorite cookbooks are not the kind you buy in the store, but the ones that are compiled by the people you know--like church groups and communities.  So I sat down with my Feeding the Flock (from Boulevard, the church where I grew up) and Table Ties (from Surgicare, the place where my sister Mel works) cookbooks and began my list.  I read through every recipe.  Anything that sounded promising--and somewhat doable for my cooking abilities!--gotten written down on my list.  From there, I got my handy dandy weekly planner notepad and actually wrote out a menu.  It included nights that I wouldn't need to cook as we had other plans and such, along with the page numbers and cookbook where the recipe could be found.  AND the real kicker--I'm actually sticking with it!!

Last week I cooked a roast and rice and gravy--major accomplishment for me!  The first time I tried that (and it was in the crockpot...I thought those recipes couldn't be messed up...), the meat was extremely tough, the gravy was clumpy, and my rice cooker kapooped and the rice was crunchy.  Needless to say it was a disaster.  But this one was good!  This weekend we had steak, crawfish etouffee, and baked potatoes for Hunter's birthday party (we also had homemade snickerdoodles and homemade red velvet cake!).  This wasn't a new recipe, but nonetheless, I cooked!  Last night I made jambalaya, woot woot!  Granted it was a super simple recipe that you make in the rice cooker, but my boy liked it and was proud of me!

Today is Hunter's birthday so I definitely couldn't get away with not cooking.  Normally I would have tried his favorite of red, beans, and rice, but we're saving that for next week.  Tonight I'm braving chicken spaghetti and homemade beer bread (we even have this sweet cinnamon honey butter to spread on it...).  Hoping it's tasty!

Finally, one of the greatest parts of cooking--Hunter takes the leftovers to work the next day instead of going out to eat which saves us tons of money!  I've also saved money by checking my pantry and actually making a grocery list based on what I need for the recipes on my menu.  Before I would just stop at the store on my way home from work.  I'd pick up things I thought I needed (when in reality I already had it) or buy things with plans of making something specific.  But the tired and busy would kick in and the food would go to waste before I even cooked it.  No more!  I hope to be in a good habitual swing of meal and grocery planning by the time little AJ gets here--the more routine I can have taken care of, the better off I'll be!

It sounds like a pain, but it's so worth it!  Make a menu, coordinate the list.

And if you have any delicious recipes you'd like to share, please don't hesitate to pass them my way!  Happy cooking :)

love, angie

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

One of my absolute favorite habits that Hunter and I have gotten in to is reading every night before we go to sleep.  We don't read the same book (right now anyway), but it's a nice, peaceful way to wind down, but yet it still feels like we're spending time together.  Now those of you who know Hunter may be surprised to find out this little tid bit.  It took me years to get him to read a book; and now he's unstoppable!  But like any "librarian" knows, you just have to find what interests someone.  I started him on The Shack and then Fireproof.  Since then, he goes through books left and right!  He discovered that he really enjoys reading historical and political non-fiction (gag me, but to each his own!).

Anyway, that long and crazy introduction was to introduce the book that I am currently reading.  I had started Irresistible Revolution, but gave it to Hunter's brother B.A. to read and I wasn't quite finished with it.  It is absolutely phenomenal and will deserve it's own post when I get a copy of it and can finish and quote it.  Absolutely a must read.  So anyway, this sudden lending of my book left me searching my shelves for my next target.  Books are one of my worst weaknesses.  I love them.  I have shelves of books (I just purged them with the help of my loving sister, Michelle) that I haven't even read yet!  So as I perused my collection of colorful spines, my eyes fell on Crazy Love.  That was the one I wanted.  I had picked it up at Lifeway a long time ago because it sounded like a promising read.  Now over the course of time since I bought it, I've heard of so many small groups using it in their studies, friends who really received a lot from it, and our latest youth camp at Lubbock was focused on it.  So it seemed to be time for me to start it.

As I flipped through the pages of chapters 2-4 last night, a specific section spoke to me and I felt the need to share it.  I think it was even more powerful as I read this following Irresistible Revolution (if it gives you any hint at how powerful these words are:  I HATE "dog earring" pages in books.  I cringe when I see others--including my husband--do such to those beautiful pages!  But both of these books have caused me to dog-ear several pages in them!).

Crazy Love as the title of a book...hmmm.  What's that number one and two commandment of the New Testament again?  Oh yes,  "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  Matthew 22: 37-39 (NIV)   It sounds like such a simple task, but it is one that so many, labeled Christians in particular, struggle with.  There's a popular country song out right now, "Love Like Crazy".  People understand that--when it's people that love us back, people who are like us.  But what about a complete and absolute surrender to love for God as we're commanded?  And who exactly is my neighbor?

The section that caught my heart last night was on being lukewarm in love.  Now those of us who grew up in the church have surely heard the lesson written to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3: 15-16:  "I kow your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  But what does it mean to be lukewarm?  Going to church when you should?  Tithing to the church?  Reading your Bible and praying a certain amount every week?  I speak from experience and the only person I'm judging on this matter is myself.  As I read the notes last night, which I'm about to type below, my heart was pricked.  I am often guilty of being a lukewarm person...

Chan, Francis.  Crazy Love.  David Cook, Colorado Springs: 2008.  (pages 68-80)

"...the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity.  The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance.  Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered.  That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard.'  Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.  Would you describe yourself as totally in love with Jesus Christ?  Or do the words halfhearted, lukewarm, and partially committed fit better?"

See if you can relate to any of the following examples he gives of being lukewarm.  I know it was a wake-up call for me...

--"Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly.  It is what is expected of them, what they believe 'good Christians' do, so they go."  --Isa. 29: 13

--"Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living.  If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so.  After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?"  --1 Chron. 21: 24, Luke 21:1-4,

--"Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.  They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church;  they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives." --Luke 6:26, Rev. 3:1, Matt. 23:5-7

--"Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin.  They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them.  Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one."  --Rom. 6:1-2

--"Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for 'extreme' Christians, no average ones.  Lukewarm people call 'radical' what Jesus expected of all of his followers."  --James 1:22, James 4:17, Matt. 21:28-31

--"Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion."  --Matt. 10:32-33

--"Lukewarm people gauge their morality or 'goodness' by comparing themselves to the secular world.  They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street."  --Luke 18:11-12

--"Lukewarm people say the love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives.  But only a part.  They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives." --Luke 9:57-62

--"Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength.  They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors and missionaries and radicals."  --Matt. 22:37-38

--"Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves.  Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people the know and connect with.  There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable.  Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached."  --Matt. 5:43-47, Luke 14:12-14

--"Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give."  --Luke 18:21-25

--"Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often that eternity in Heaven.  Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation.  Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come.  Regarding this, C.S. Lewis writes, 'If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.'" --Phil. 3:18-20, Col. 3:2

--"Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.  They are quick to point out, 'Jesus never said that money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.'  Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel 'called' to minister to the rich; very few feel 'called' to minister to the poor." --Matt. 25:34, 40, Isa. 58:6-7

--"Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty.  They want to do the bare minimum, to be 'good enough' without it requiring too much of them.  They ask, 'How far can I go before it's considered a sin?' instead of 'How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?'  They ask 'How much do I have to give?' instead of 'How much can I give?'  They ask, 'How much time should I spend praying and reading my Bible?' instead of 'I wish I didn't have to go to work, so I could sit here and read longer!'"  --1 Chron. 29:14, Matt. 13:44-46

--"Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God."  --1 Tim. 6:17-18, Matt. 10:28

--"Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.  Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a 'Christian nation.'"  --Matt. 7:21, Amos 6:1

--"Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to.  They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens--they have their savings account.  They don't need God to help them--they have their retirement plan in place.  They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live--they have life figured and mapped out.  They don't depend on God on a daily basis--their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health.  The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God." --Luke 12:16-21, Hebrews 11

--"Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less that average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever.  They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong."  --Matt. 23:25-28

Makes you think doesn't it?  "We are all messed-up human beings, and no one is totally immune to the behaviors described in the previous examples.  However, there is a difference between a life that is characterized by these sorts of mentalities and habits and a life that is in the process of being radically transformed."

love, angie

you should read it

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All-American Girl

A few weeks ago, Hunter texted me the video to Carrie Underwood's song, "All-American Girl."  He had been gone on his aforementioned "mancation" and it was such a sweet way of letting me know he was ready to be home with his girls.

The words to that song are so incredibly accurate for Hunter!  He has always wanted a little boy.  ALWAYS.  He would even tell people at the beginning of this pregnancy that he was incapable of creating a girl--Arabella showed him!

I just know he's going to be such a sweet daddy.  I absolutely love seeing his eyes sparkle when he sees little outfits with "I love daddy" or "Daddy's little girl" on them.  Probably my absolute favorite part of being pregnant is when he is able to feel her move around--it's such a precious little experience for us to have together.  Last night during our youth devotional, she was getting so excited that you could even see her jumping--another sweet moment for us to share.  He's going to be overly-protective and completely wrapped.

My sister Michelle has a friend that does monogramming.  Therefore all of the kids have wound up with several personalized outfits and bibs including "I love my Aunt Chelle" and "Take me to my Aunt Chelle's!".  Well Arabella got her first one this week for Hunter's birthday.  In honor of him wanting that little boy so badly, Aunt Chelle had this created for him :)

He loves it!  He calls her his little lady (love it!)--he doesn't like the princess or angel bit.  She's got to be modest and know how to stand up for herself and what she believes.  She probably will be one tough little cookie--mentally and physically.   She's going to know how to play golf and load/shoot a gun.  I'm sure she'll be taught how to spiral a football and understand all the ins and outs of the game (a little Saints fan no doubt!).  She'll go camping and fishing and there may even be a little hunting thrown in there too.  But the bottom line, she'll be daddy's little All-American girl...and I can't wait!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

That's a lesson Hunter and I learned the really hard way 5 years ago.  The year of 2006 is one that was absolutely miserable for us.

The only good things I can remember happening that year:
1. My precious first niece Abygail was born in April.
2.  Hunter's brother Blaine graduated high school in May.
3.  Hunter and I got engaged in September.

Now those three milestones were all wonderful!  But over the course of a year, that is seriously all of the joy I can remember.

Let me give you a brief re-cap of our year...It started in September of 2005 when Hurricane Rita gave our hometown a direct hit.  In January 2006, Dustin Kendall, a childhood friend of Hunter's and a member of our youth group, was killed in Iraq.  In March, the horrible saga of Hunter's parents' divorce began (and with that came all of the misery and heartache you would associate with such circumstances).  That summer, PPG workers went on strike leaving Hunter's dad in a constant struggle of trying to make everything work out.  In June, Hunter's dad was in a serious four-wheeler accident which landed him in the ICU.  In July, Blaine Morrison, another long time friend and mentor of sorts passed away.  In August, we found out some news about some of our dearest friends that would be quite a struggle.  In September, another friend of Hunter's, Jess, was killed in a motorcycle accident.  And from there, we just kind of went numb...

Dustin Kendall

Blaine Morrison

Jessica Holiday

These memories are fresh on my mind because this past week was the anniversary of Blaine's death.  Five years...that's unreal.  Has it really been 5 years??

That year formed us into who we are today.  While we were going through it, we thought things would never get better.  We grew calluses because we were so scared of being hurt again.  It was trying on our relationship and on our humanity.  But as time went on, we began to heal.  And the saying "that which does not kill you only makes you stronger" took on a whole new meaning for us.  We truly had to learn how to rely on our relationship with Jesus because through all of those trials, He was the only constant.  The Casting Crowns song "Praise You in This Storm" became our anthem.  It was unbelievably difficult to truly believe that all of these events were part of a master plan, but we tried our hardest to rely on Him through it all.

That year challenged and changed us down to our core.  We are completely different people because of it, and we are a completely different couple because of it.  Those difficulties and losses taught us about life and its inconsistencies--along with its incredible ability to ignore fairness.  I don't think we've asked the question "why?" so much.  But it also taught us how to grow up; how to accept those challenges and embrace the changes they bring; how to grow in wisdom through choices; how to lean on each other and the only constant that is offered--Jesus's love.

I can now say that we are truly thankful for those lessons we learned.  I don't believe we will ever be "grateful" for the tragedies of 2006, but we are able to realize and be blessed by the changes that year made in us.

If you are having challenging times, rest assured that you are definitely not alone.  Keep your head above the waves and your heart in Jesus's hand.  Allow yourself to be blessed, even if it comes through raindrops...

love, angie

Monday, July 4, 2011


"Love your country.  Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him."  ~Giuseppe Mazzini

Today is set aside in our country to remember those blessed events that occurred 235 years ago in a small room in Philadelphia.  Men of great bravery and conviction stepped forward to document the beginning steps in freeing our country.

But what does it mean to be free? provides several options from which to choose.
1.  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.
2.  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another
3.  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken
4.  unrestricted use

So as these 56 committed treason against their former country, they pledged to bring freedom to the inhabitants of this new land.  They desired freedom to worship; freedom to live.  They provided us the ability to loose our constraints when making choices that affect our own lives; they lifted the veil of ownership that the British government had placed over its citizens; they enabled us unrestricted use of what we've been given and the privilege to be outspoken about it!  

One of the utmost reasons these people longed and fought for freedom was to escape the religious oppression they were facing.  However, I think we as Americans don't truly remember that.  We know it; we say we're grateful for it.  We fight for "in God we trust" to remain in our pledge and on our money, but do we fight for God to truly be prominent in this country?  Those brave men allowed us freedom from governmental rule (to an extent), but they allowed us to experience something in this great country that is even greater--freedom in Christ.  We have been given the privilege of being frank and outspoken; our constraints are lifted; and the slavery of this world, sin, and death are no longer ours!  

So as you enjoy your Independence Day holiday, enjoy your family and friends.  Remember and thank our veterans and current military soldiers and their families.  Celebrate this great country in which we live.  But also remember that every day is a celebration of Independence for those saved by the blood of Christ!  Fight for and understand that freedom as much as you do the one provided by this country.  As the opening quote states, this is the home God gave us--and it is simply a means to prepare the way for ourselves and others to go home to Him.  

"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."  ~Abraham Lincoln