Friday, April 29, 2011

A righteous man . ..

An incredibly special man went home to be with Jesus yesterday. It's painful to watch a family you love hurt so much. And while we're so thankful that Brad's pain and battle is over, his absence is clearly felt.

Yesterday, as I sat and prayed for Brad, LuAnn and the family, I picked up my One Year Bible and read through the day's assigned passage. As I read through the New Testament portion, my heart stopped on two verses as I prayed.

"Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." Luke 23:46 - 47.

Brad's absence in painful. And I know we can't begin to understand the grief felt more intimately.

But as I thought on Brad, his heart, and his life, I thought how true these verses were.

Countless prayers have been uttered. Lives have been touched. Many have turned their eyes and seen so much of Christ's love reflected in Brad, his family and his life. I believe they too will be able to look on Brad's life, see Christ's reflection and say "This was a righteous man."

How thankful I am for the hope that is real in Jesus!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh sunshine . . .

We miss you!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Florida - Part Two

While we were sad to see Daddy head back home, we were very excited to see Grandpa and Grandma come to join us at Papa Ben's!

My Grandpa keeps a stash of goodies for the kids back in his closet. Ava was thrilled when she got these princesses to paint!!

It was so fun watching the twins swim this trip. They've had a lot less water time than Ava ever did at their age so the difference in the water from the first day to the last was huge.

Kate and Grandma

Shock of all shocks - Olivia was a little dare devil around the water and we had to watch her like a hawk. She'd sneak to the deep end to try and climb in herself, want to go off the diving board and beg to go down the slide.

Jumping to Grandpa

Having fun

I mentioned we had to watch Olivia?

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

After growing weary of the battles of will over trying to keep Olivia safe, we finally started letting her fall in. She went down the slide by herself, jumped in by herself and went under more than once (with water wings of course). The funny part? Kate was the one upset by this. Olivia was mostly just annoyed. Although she did begin waiting for one of us to help her in or catch us.

But I really started wondering if maybe I had finally made my point when Olivia started routinely playing in the pool like this . . .

The entire outfit was Olivia initiated. : )

We made a trip to our favorite Japanese Steakhouse "Da Ru Ma"

Yum . . .makes me dream of sushi rolls for dinner.

With Papa Ben after another delicious dinner!

Grandpa and Ava watching a "horse" movie

Our last night there, we got to attend the "Sailor Circus." It's a circus put on every year by local middle school and high school students. But don't let the description fool you - it really is a pretty impressive and fun night. My girls loved it.

Ava was excited about her butterfly face paint

One of the acts

The lady who helps my grandpa out has a little dog named Rosie. Unfortunately, the twins are in a phase they are terrified by any dog up close. However, they LOVED Rosie from afar and their absolute favorite was being able to be up close and personal . . .behind the sliding glass door. : )

Our last couple days there, Kate became quite the proud and independent swimmer.

Soaking in one last swim with my girls. Ava was a little fish the whole trip. So neat to see her becoming increasingly independent and confident in the water and just having fun with it.

And then we flew back home to see daddy (with my mom and dad's help).

The perfect first trip down I mentioned?

It was not repeated. Kate and Olivia screamed the entire last 45 minutes of our final flight. Made me so thankful I wasn't flying on my own.

So when we got home?

We were all ready for a nice long nap.

Back to real life. : )

Monday, April 18, 2011

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because of your generosity, we found out that we were

FIFTH in fundraising sales and we're THRILLED!!!!!!!!!

Would you believe since Wednesday you all blessed us with $491.24 of sales?!

I can't either!

We're incredibly appreciative. That's $196.50 to be used towards our adoption.

Even more amazing?!

Because of your generosity, through Ordinary Hero, we've raised a total of $338.27!!!

We could stop right there and SO sincerely express our thanks.

But there's more!!!!!!!!

Ordinary Hero decided to give TWO grants, at each award amount, so that the top SIX each received a grant.

Did I mention we placed fifth? : )

So because of you, we've also received a $200 matching grant.

God continues to amaze us as we move forward, and continue to look to Him, how HE provides.

thank you. thank you. thank you.

Thank Him.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Florida - Part One

We were gifted with the chance to go spend time with family down in florida at the end of march. To say this trip was a blessing seems an understatement. After Ryan's busy season going extra long, have faced and plowed through a huge bulk of adoption paperwork and a busy schedule all in itself, I'll be honest and say we were a weary family. It was perfect timing to step away, catch our breath and enjoy time together. The day before we left, I was starting to pack in my room while the girls played. I stepped into the twins' room to grab a few clothes and saw they'd already started their packing for me. . .by emptying their entire dresser. And since I had two seasons of clothes with the weather we'd been having, let's just say, they wouldn't have gone naked in florida. : )

The day finally came and the girls were SO excited to get on a plane again. It was the first time the twins would have their own seats. On top of that? I'd forgotten that our first plane is always a little smaller. So Ava and Kate had to sit "by themselves" (I was across the aisle). I said a very furvent (and a little bit desperate) prayer and would you believe (I mean, expect?! ; ) ), they were perfect!! I was beyond thankful.

Lest you think my children are always perfect, some time ask me about our flight home. : ) Our first morning down, we went on our first "traditional" slurpee run. My grandpa is a later riser and my girls are not. : ) So when Ava was a baby, we started taking walks every morning to the village where we'd get a slurpee and explore before heading back. It takes up the bulk of the morning and has become such a fun outing together too. Kate happily enjoying hers. We decided to make a stop by the beach for a first look that morning. The girls are still a tad bit small for their summer clothes and this was a common scenario. Oh it makes me smile.
Excited to be at the beach!!

To think that there was a time Ava hated the sand!?! Not anymore!

My sweet beach bum

Olivia was still excited about her slurpee

After some long months of dreaming, it was so fun to finally be there!

There isn't another place that has so many fun memories for me. I love being able to share it with my girls and Ryan.

And with that we had to head back for a swim in the pool!

The girls loved walking alongside the canal with Ryan looking for fish. Our favorite was when one time they were walking and they couldn't see a single fish. Olivia emphatically pointed at the water and told Ryan, "fish - sleeping!!"

Exploring Papa Ben's boat

Scary thought - huh!?!?!

I have a feeling that willingness would not be Olivia's problem.

love this one of Kate

For saturday we headed to lunch at an old favorite - Phillippe Creek.

The crew hungry and waiting

And then my girls proceeded to amaze me.

We had ordered mussels for an appetizer and as the adults started eating them, Kate asked for one. Out of amusement, I thought I'd let her try one. She loved them. Ava saw Kate eat them and wanted to try one. She spit hers out after the sauce was gone but I was so proud of her for trying it!

Then Olivia joined in on the bandwagon and loved them too. They would get the mussel out of the shell, hand it to us to put on a fork and dip in sauce and then they would chow it down themselves.

Ava and Mommy.

I just laughed looking through the first couple days of photos when we got back - we look tired and white. : )

But it was so good to be together.

Playing outside after lunch

Saturday afternoon we spent at the beach.

Kate and Olivia got right to work

While we were playing by the water there was this couple sitting right by the edge. Olivia would just go up to the lady and stare at her. After a bit, the lady put her arms out and Olivia scrambled into her lap. She probably sat with her on and off for the next hour. They were the sweetest couple (down from Canada) that I got to know pretty well. We decided Olivia was missing a grandma. : )

Ava and Daddy spent a good chunk of time out swimming in the water - she rode the waves pretty well!

makes me smile : )

Sunday we drove to Ft. Meyer's for the day to be with Ryan's Grandma and other family who were down visiting.

To say that my girls like Ryan's cousin Stephen and his wife Liz is an enormous understatement. : )

Courtney and the girls ready to swim. Ava was thrilled Courtney was there.

Daddy and my two water monkeys

I'm not sure how to title this: Ava harassing Stephen or Stephen harassing Ava? I'd say both would be a fair statement. : )

My girls loved Grandma Great's golf cart.

Ava and Daddy taking a ride
Ava and Grandma Great

Kate and Olivia get their turn

Ava and Stephen horsing around before dinner

The whole crew at dinner
And with that we came home to our last night with Daddy. While busy season was "over," things were still busy and Ryan still couldn't be away from work for too long.

Olivia and Daddy coloring.
love this : )

So we sent Daddy home and waited for Grandpa and Grandma to come . . .