A Lot Can Change In Six Months

I’m sure you’re not too surprised…but with me and my family, that’s an understatement.  When I wrote my last blog over six months ago, we were enjoying the sights and sounds of Hollywood.  It’s the middle of the night here in Metro Manila and we’re watching old movies on HBO.  Brian accepted a job that is based here in the Philippines and we’ve started our next adventure!  We’re in a nice (but small) two bedroom, furnished condo near the Mall of Asia.  People here are very friendly and we’re growing accustomed to working overnight (US east coast hours.)

September and October included fun Hollywood themes and lazy days.  Mitch and I made a quick trip to Mom & Dad’s in Tucson before he moved back to Ohio.  I had the opportunity to watch Kathy Bates get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Jonae, Justice & Juliet returned to California for DeeDee’s wedding and we took a day to enjoy Universal Studios together.  Kennen started college in Riverside.  The middle of October we had a family trip to Laughlin to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday.  A great time was had by all!

In November, heaven welcomed my sweet mother-in-law Mary, when she lost her fight to cancer.  Brian was able to spend a few weeks with the family in Ohio.  She loved Jesus and shared His love and compassion with everyone lucky enough to spend time with her.  I was able to travel to Honduras for our annual Revive conference.  I go with the intention of blessing others, but God expresses His ultimate love for me every time I’m in the presence of these ladies.  Words can’t express how much I needed this trip and it didn’t disappoint.  Thanksgiving was one of my favorite yet – we did pot luck at my friend Katie’s.  She invited her friends and people from her apartment building and we dined with a bunch of “kids” looking to get into the motion picture industry.   Very non-traditional Hollywood Thanksgiving; loved it.

By December we knew we were getting ready for the big move (Brian’s first trip to the Philippines was scheduled for January 2), and our weekends were full.  I met Pam and Michelle the beginning of the month in Irvine and introduced them to Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  They are now hooked and I suspect it will become a tradition for us moving forward!  We all traveled to Cleveland the second weekend in December to celebrate Whitney & Elliott’s wedding.  It was an amazing, whirlwind couple of days and it was wonderful to have the family together.  (The honeymooners have since relocated to Virginia Beach and are enjoying the winter away from Cleveland!)  Brian and I attended a Christmas show at the Pantages Theater and saw an A cappella group at the Dolby Theater.  We also took a Christmas light boat tour in Newport Beach and attended Christmas Eve services at Saddleback Church.  Christmas Day was at my sister’s and New Year’s Eve was quiet at home.

While Brian was away in January, I spent the month sorting, packing, shipping and selling the apartment full of possessions we gathered during our time in California.  I had several visitors during the month and got to go see the Dr Phil show, Griffith Observatory and Santa Monica Pier.   I used my season pass at Universal Studios a few more times and watched Amy Adams get her star on the Walk of Fame.  A few days before I left, I received a call from the Pantages Theater asking if I was still interested in a part-time usher job.  Good to know I had options!

The first week of February, Jonae, Juliet, Naomi and I drove from California to Jonae’s home in Southaven, Mississippi.  God protected us the entire trip!  The only car trouble was before I had anyone else with me (needed a new battery) and the only rain on the very last day (no ice or snow at all!)  We spent two nights with my parents in Tucson and two nights traveling across Texas.  We enjoyed a fun Saturday morning at Magnolia Market in Waco, TX (HGTV’s Fixer Upper town.)   I was blessed to spend almost two weeks in Southaven before traveling to Myrtle Beach to meet up with Erica and the girls for our annual beach trip.  Spent a few days in Ohio (saw Erica’s beautiful new house!) before Brian arrived and we flew to Manila together.  (Naomi my pup is adjusting well to her new home with Jonae and her family!)

Now you’re all caught up.  First two weeks here in the Philippines have been good to me.  I’m falling into a routine and found new workout videos I like.  We attended a church service here today and I was overwhelmed with God’s grace and goodness.  It’s so beautiful that you can find people like us that love Jesus across the world.  I will be in the US for the month of April.  Thanks for reading – Lord willing, next update will be shorter & sooner!  Happy Spring!!!  God Bless You!

 

 

 

Thank you 2015!

This is it:  the last day of 2015!  This has truly been an amazing year filled with so many blessings.  Thank you for joining me on this adventure – you are a blessing to me and keep me motivated to write.  I’m optimistic for what God has planned for all of us in 2016!

December couldn’t have been any better.  I spent 5 nights in Atlanta with Jonae and her family and had lots of baby snuggles!  Juliet is such a good baby!  (I’ve already warned her to watch out with her next one!)  Lots of babysitting time, Breakfast with Santa, Buckhead Church and yummy food.  Very nice pre-Christmas celebration!

Returning to California, I volunteered a few evenings with my all-time favorite ministry, Operation Christmas Child.  I helped inspect and sort gift shoeboxes that will be sent to children in Peru and Malaysia.  The Southern California processing center (there are 9 across the US) was on target to sort through 925,000 boxes that had been donated!  It was a wonderful experience and I’m blessed to have taken part.  (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child)

I was able to take Brian to one of my Happiest Places on Earth – Disneyland of course (his first time to see their Christmas decorations!) We had a wonderful day and he really did enjoy all the lights!

After a few days at home, Brian and I drove to Las Vegas to spend a few days with Whitney and her fiancee Elliott.  We were there at midnight to ring in his 30th birthday!   My sister Pam and her husband Dave surprised them for the 2nd night…more fun, food and laughs!  Adam arrived from Ohio and we all returned to California to spend an evening with my nieces, nephews & parents.

Christmas Eve we went to an afternoon church service.  Pam’s family & my parents joined us for a late dinner and we had fun exchanging gifts.  I awoke early on Christmas Day to watch Pam’s family open their gifts (at my house I had to wake my boys up at 11!)  We enjoyed unwrapping presents and returned to Pam’s for mom’s famous lasagna.  A very “happy” Christmas as Mitch told me later that evening.

We ventured to the movies on Saturday and I drove Whitney & Elliott back to Vegas on Sunday for their flight home to Ohio.  Brian and I worked this week and are looking forward to a nice long New Year’s Eve weekend.  Heading to Pam’s shortly to ring in 2016 with her family and friends.   Beyond blessed.

I am mindful that my life is not necessarily “normal” and that many of my friends have experienced pain and sorrow in 2015 that they do not want to repeat.  My prayer for all is that Jesus will reveal Himself to you in a new and passionate way in 2016.  Draw close and allow Him to love & bless you as only He can.  Smell the flowers.  Stop and gaze at the clouds and sunsets.  Smile at a stranger.  Breathe deep and don’t take any moment for granted.  Choose joy.  Life is precious.  God loves you and so do I.  Happy New Year!  Welcome 2016!

Nonstop Family Fun

Hello!  I wanted to give you a quick update with some pictures from the last few weeks.   I’m headed to Atlanta in the morning to see the kids and baby Juliet (she’s 4 months old already!)  Time is passing so quickly – I’m being mindful to enjoy every moment.

Thanksgiving was a very fun gathering and the food was delicious (my sister is an excellent cook!)  The weekend that followed included a little black Friday shopping and a Turkey Shoot soccer tournament for Zander.  The weather was cool but it was so nice being outside.  Mom & Dad made it safely back to Tucson and Adam returned to Ohio to finish up his first semester.

Brian has an incredible knack for finding really good deals – whether it is through facebook groups, craigslist or yard sales.  He found us a 9 foot artificial Christmas tree for just $40 – exactly what we needed for our California living room.  It was a treat to have Zander help us decorate…he really enjoys all my musical Hallmark ornaments.  Brian also started his world-famous Christmas light display – although on a much smaller scale this year (didn’t make sense to ship all that stuff across country.)   He definitely misses the larger production, but was pleasantly surprised that it only took him 6 hours to decorate.

My brother and his family were able to visit this past Saturday.  Pam and I grabbed lunch with Tiffany and Michelle before shopping at the church Global Fair.  We also found ourselves spending several hours in Kohl’s on Sunday (after church, of course!) before we enjoyed a yummy Italian food lunch.   So nice to have extra girl-time…and now I’m ready for some baby snuggles!!!

Have a blessed week!  Remember…Jesus is the reason for the season.  Love to you and yours!

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Christmas in July

How fitting that my very last weekend working part-time at Hallmark would include the 2015 Christmas Keepsake Ornament Premiere.  I volunteered to work the late shift (6p-2am) with a couple of other girls and I’m so glad I did.  We had fun prepping the ornament displays and organizing the “Snoopy themed” snacks.  A steady stream of customers until we locked the door a little after 2 this morning.  I returned this evening to complete my two year employment as we set to venture on our journey.  I am super thankful for the friendships I made and the experiences shared as a result of my time there.  Live as Hallmark says, “Life is a special occasion.”

Christmas was one of the central themes at our home last weekend as well.  We had a *very* successful yard sale and sold many of our treasures at a deep discount.  Brian sold a lot of outdoor Christmas decorations and lights and he has a nice little fund started for our California Christmas.  We also parted ways with hundreds of DVD’s that were taking up space (how silly that we thought we’d watch them over and over again!) and many household items.  Overall it was a great sale and it’s exciting to see the floors and shelves of closets, bedrooms and the basement.

The next few weeks will give us the opportunity to spend time with some wonderful people and to finish sorting, packing and purging.  Three weeks until we head south!  Stay-tuned and please keep reading!  God Bless You!

HP 1    Hallmark Last Day

A Monumental Event

I’m not entirely sure where January went and I suspect February will soon be a memory.  Things are getting exciting as the countdown continues to Adam’s high school graduation.  Only 15 weeks left!  That’s less than four months.  Woohoo!

A monumental event took place at our home just a few weeks ago.  My dear husband held a Christmas sale and parted ways with some of his beloved treasures.  It was the first time in nearly twenty years that he sold any of his extreme outdoor collection!

One would never have thought that this day would come.  God started preparing his heart during this Christmas season however, as the annual display faced some mighty challenges:  huge wind storm, broken cables, busy work schedule, limited help, and sickness.  Sorting items into “keep” and “sell” piles forced him to think about what was most important (and what made the most sense to store and use again.)

The event was truly blessed as the January snow had melted earlier in the week and the sun made an appearance right before the mid-day sale.    Five or six families visited and they scooped up on some great deals.  My husband smiled as he made transactions and willingly watched the items go to homes where they would be appreciated and displayed for years to come.   (It may have helped that we put the money in an account designated for “future Christmas light displays.”)

One young boy displayed the “Clark Griswold” excitement as he wandered around the yard for over an hour and tested multiple items before making his selection.  His mom shared that he had decorated both his house and his grandmother’s this past Christmas.  Even at age eleven, he asked intelligent questions and it was evident he was hooked on extreme outdoor illumination.  My husband beamed with delight as was hopeful for the next generation of decorators.

This video was filmed last year but it will give you an idea of his passion.  As we continue to purge through items in preparation for our moving adventure, we hold fast to the amazing memories God has blessed us with.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-8JdcUGM4U&feature=player_detailpage

Christmas sale