***Note to anyone who comes by here to listen to the music ...You will now have to scroll down to the player on the right side and press play yourself. This is to accommodate those who only come to read and are distracted by the music;}
Our second "port of call" was Royal Carribean's private island. Thankfully we had some great sunshine in the morning because by noon the rains had come and the rest of the day was a "washout". Again, it didn't dampen our spirits. We stayed until close to 2pm and it did look promising, but since the island is small it is "hit or miss". But it truly was fabulous and gorgeous and Jared got to see the Carribean waters for the first time!
I like the picture to the left below, because, not only is it a good belly shot, but you can see the lifeguards getting everyone out of the water. It looked promising, but since there was lightning, no one could go in the water.
This was the last night. I look happy and relaxed, don't I? If you've never seen the inside of a Cruise Ship, it's really somthing. The picture in the middle is the main dining/lounge area and I am posing just in front of it. My highlights of the Cruise were both special things with Jared(of course!). The first was the same night as the formal night. There was a couples "Romantic Dance Hour" and I told him "I don't care if it's just you and I"...well, there was just one other couple that danced when we did and a couple more that straggled in...and we didn't mind at all. It reminded me that we need to dim the lights and put on some "date night" songs and dance more at home! The second was the last night after we had taken in a little bit of the show, Jared led me out to the deck. It was amazing, because we could see the stars (I had prayed for this for 'at least one night') and then the great, vast sea below. I was a little leary with a fear of heights and deep water, but we lingered and sang and truly worshipped. I won't forget what it felt like to be out there and be lost in the wonder of Him.
I don't know if a "getaway" is possible for you and your husband/wife. But, it is so worth it, and I hope you get a gift like this soon!
As we were told before we sailed, one of the highlights of a cruise is the food. This was certainly the case for us, especially the dinners. They were all gourmet and we didn't have to worry about finding the cheapest thing because it was "all-inclusive". We got to enjoy a couple of hours of uninterrupted conversation, order appetizers, multiple entrees (sounds like gluttony, huh?) and fabulous desserts. And, we very much enjoyed the wait staff.
Top right below is our waiter, Komang, from Indonesia. (We loved how many international cruise staff we got to meet!) He did this trick the first night. He balanced four forks entirely through toothpicks! He truly was such a great waiter, so friendly and gave excellent service. The men in white are chefs who we cheered the last night...they truly prepared some amazing things! On the bottom left is our waiter Komang and another man (don't know his name) from Belarus-singing into a pepper mill!-as they sang for us. It was so fun! Doris, who sat with us each night, is in the teal shirt.
The same day that we went to the Bahamas there was a "formal" dinner. I had this great comfortable dress from my twin sister that I loved! They took formal portraits on the ship, but I'm so glad that we didn't get them, because I love these candids so much more!
I loved the towel bunny that was on the bed in our room...I think these touches make you feel so special! Below on the right is Doris, again, and her friend Shirley. They had taken the red eye in from LA to come on the Cruise. They were really terrific young women. They are both Chinese-American believers who grew up together and went to UCLA where they were involved in InterVarsity. We got to hear their testimonies one night, and it was just really great to meet them!
I think it's very funny how I look so happy in the photo to the left. I think it's because even in my pregnant state, I look pretty tiny compared to our BIG BOAT!!! Jared is on the right posing on the main shopping street, "Bay Street" in Nassau.
Below are our several attempts to take a picture of ourselves by the beautiful waterfall along the "Queen's Staircase" and the one on the bottom right is when we were coming back down and found another couple to take our picture for us.
This was a gorgeous tree in the center of town that I think is beautiful no matter how edited. It makes me think of the verse I have long loved in Isaiah 61 "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."
I took these pictures below for my Aunt Debbie. It was a memorial to the Bahamians lost in the "Great War" (WWI). I just found out on her visit that all three of her sons will be in the military. One is currently serving and two are preparing. I thought she would really appreciate it. As soon as she read it, she said it did give her chills, calling it beautiful poetry. In case it is too difficult for you to read: "Bahamians, let this of you be said: 'That you who live are worthy of your dead.' These gave their lives that you who live may reap a richer harvest, ere you fall asleep."
Well, as I said in my earlier post, my Aunt Debbie came down to visit with us and to watch JJ so that Jared and I could get away for 3 nights and days...it was a belated 5th year anniversary celebration and both of our birthday gifts to each other, a getaway before Susie comes, and a "splurge" we can hopefully do again at some level (for our 10 year anniversary??). Needless to say, it was such an incredible gift and one that we purposed to not take for granted during it...as all of you who have kids know, it is so much more "special" and cherished to have that time alone together, even though you miss the little ones very much.
Here we are at the "set sail" (I think that's what you call it). The weather was alot like these pictures during the cruise, but we did see a little sun and nothing could really dampen our spirits:) We left from Port Canaveral just 40-45 minutes from our house! This is one huge reason why a cruise is a relatively inexpensive option for us.
Our first "port of call" (all of the cruise terms that I became familiar with will be in quotes:) was Nassau, Bahamas. This collage is a tribute to the bright, happy colors all around the city. All of the city buildings were pink (lighter than in the picture) and I like that alot as pink is (one of) my favorite colors.
The pictures of me with the roses are in the very quaint courtyard of the historic church pictured in the bottom left above. The one of the white buildings where (I think) you can see our ship, is behind the scottish kirk (love that name). Unfortunately, as we were walking along the kirk property a native called out and literally asked us, "Do you want some weed?" Wow. I hadn't been to an island unless it was a part of a missions' trip, so to have so little time and see the need in things like this and the children running around, made us a little sad that we couldn't stay longer to "minister". (don't worry, we knew we were supposed to be "away and relaxing", but that really was on our hearts) So, literally, it was a great time to stop and "smell the roses."
Here we are inan area called the "Queen's Staircase". It was really beautiful. I thought it was funny how in the top right photo you see me with my belly and it says on the plaque next to me "See for Yourself". So, for the many of you who have not seen me "fragrant" (as my mom used to say)...here you go! SEE FOR YOURSELF!!
Hi friends, I recently added "My Playlist" down on the sidebar on the right. If you can't listen and read (like me!), you can just scroll down and hit the pause button. Some of my all-time and current favorites are on there. Jared and I both love "From the Inside Out" which is the first one to play. We first sang it down here and it became an instant favorite. Also, there are two tracks "Love is Here" and "By Your Side" by a group called "Tenth Avenue North" who is from near us here in Orlando. They have led worship at our Fastbreak and Getaway conferences for our region for a long time and have recently broken through nationally, being named "Best New Artist" at the Dove Awards for Christian music. Although I haven't interacted with them personally like alot of the kids we work with, I can say that they are the "real deal" and hopefully you've gotten the chance to hear them on the Christian radio station, if not, CHECK THEM OUT!!
Hope you enjoy this as I've enjoyed many of the playlists on my friends' blogs!
Sorry that I've been away for a little while. I've been literally away and will share or already have shared about Jared and my time away if you are reading this well after I post...anyhow, it's good to be back!
My dear Aunt Debbie came in the day before my birthday and stayed close to a week to visit and then watch JJ while we were away. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of her from the visit, but they should be coming as she has some and will be getting them to me. Well, it was such a treasure to have her here. She took care of all of us! She is my mom's youngest sister and in their adult years they became best friends and so has felt led to do special things for my sisters and I, despite having four children of her own, as much as she is able. She made dinner on my birthday and got this fruit-covered cake that was delicious as my birthday cake. The flowers in the bowl are those Aunt Debbie saved for me as they were from Jared for Mother's Day. I am so glad to get this picture of them. And the other flowers were brought home by my amazing husband on my birthday for me and also for Aunt Debbie to enjoy while we were away.
Ok, so onto JJ and the corn-on-the-cob! He loved it, as you can tell! It really was good corn! There has to be some perk to living in Florida when it is HOT and will be for the rest of my pregnancy and more! He didn't quite get holding it himself, but that didn't stop him from eating it as you can tell. Thanks for the laughs, my sweet baby boy, on your mama's birthday.
Now that's what I call "sinking your teeth into it!" JJ "eats like a man" as my friend Carrie says!
This day at the beach actually happened over a week ago and so it was 2 days after JJ's Mother's Day Beach Trip. Our good friends from our Staff Training with Campus Crusade, Joshua and Bethany, were going to be in Florida. They are nearing the end of their support raising (almost 2 and 1/2 years, but a little over a year full-time) and made a trip from Ohio to Florida for some appointments and a little time away. Their son Winston (left pictures below) was 2 at the end of March (5 months older than JJ) and Bethany and I were the pregnant ones at our Staff Training, so we bonded. They had a baby girl, Etta, at the beginning of February who will be about 8 months older than Susie. It was so great for Bethany and I to connect and Jared and Joshua as well. When you've gone through the support-raising process, especially as a young family, you have this amazing kindredcy with anyone going through the same thing. We had a great morning visit that was so encouraging for us, and we hope it was for them as well! Also, as you can see, JJ was quite interested in "Baaby" Etta and wanted touch her and give her kisses. It was so sweet, and encouraging, to see this...he really has taken such an interest in babies and is so sweet with them and other kids too...very affectionate!
As you can see, JJ continued to love the water, and is keeping Daddy more and more "on his toes" as he runs straight for the waves. I kept yelling for Jared to "get him" because with the beach empty and the vast ocean ahead, I just saw my son running right into oblivion...but the water was ankle/mid-calf deep for awhile and OF COURSE, Jared had it all under control and wouldn't let anything happen to JJ!
This actually happened a little over a week ago (I am behind on blogging) and I think this is a really great view of the progression. On the top left ones (hair longer) I feel like I can picture him as this cool teenager (something about the loppy hair and no shirt). He looks almost angry, but then you can see that he's concentrating on the video in front of him. He actually did so much better with the clippers than with scissors. I used the longest attachment on the top and a little shorter on the sides and back (just like I do with his Daddy--who got his haircut right after). And then the very last one...WHAT A LITTLE HUNK! We are in trouble...we better be praying harder for the right wife and that the Lord would keep him away from those that aren't right for him, because I think he's going to be hard to resist!!
We hope you know how much we all love and miss you! We are so sorry we didn't get you something special to have in your hands for your birthday...as much as we would like there to be a good excuse, (except for JJ--his age is a pretty good reason why he didn't write out a card you would have by your birthday) we're afraid it was just too much self focus...thank you for loving and forgiving us!!
We can't wait to see you (yes, ESPECIALLY JJ!!!) in Myrtle Beach!!!! We are counting down the days...we hope you had a very special day today:)
Love, Jared, Abby and JJ (and we think we can speak for the rest of your family too!!!)
Our friends, Jamie and Anita, on special days like Mother's Day, birthdays, etc. always let the honored one pick what they want to do. Anita picked to go to the beach for Mother's Day and we thought that was a great idea, so we tagged along. After early church, lunch and decent naps for kids, we left the house at 3, were on the beach by 4! and got to spend over 2 hours of solid fun there! before heading back home for bed:) It has definitely gotten to be unbearable (esp. for preggo me) outside, but it was 10-15 degrees cooler by the beach! There was a great breeze and the water was cool and refreshing. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon! Anita and I actually got in a couple of pictures, which is great for Mother's Day:) But it was also great to watch our hubbies have fun with our kids while we relaxed on the beach:)
JJ loved to jump the waves at the beach. At one point, he and Jared were pretty far out where it actually got more shallow. I went to them and was jumping myself, but, at some point, I remembered I was pregnant and jumping isn't the best idea:) so I went back and watched my two favorite men have fun.
...how much fun JJ had at the beach on Mother's Day. Even though these pictures are all of Jared with JJ, that was a great Mother's Day gift to "rest", watch and enjoy my son loving the beach. We have a couple of beach trips and plenty of others we can take living less than an hour from the beach...it's so great to know JJ will love it!!
While our friends, Jamie and Anita's kids--Abby and Lil JJ--seemed to enjoy sandy food and drinks (top left especially), you can see that us parents-of-one (for now) were a little more protective and fed JJ in his stroller...Jamie and Anita joked with us about how different we would be with two next year...I think it will be good to help us relax a little more and let our kid eat some sand!
We are so thankful for fun friends with kids like Jamie and Anita. If they hadn't told us they were going to the beach and let us tag along, I think we would have missed out on an amazing way to spend Mother's Day!
It was such a special day and I am so thankful to the Lord for that!
GIRL!!!! Those of you who have known me for a while, know that we didn't find out if JJ was a boy or girl until he was born! We were intending to do the same with this one, but started to re-think it a few weeks ago. I went back and forth and finally told Jared it was his decision...the main benefit of finding out would be being able to prepare for a girl--if it were a girl. We won't change from the neutral nursery we had for JJ, but it will be nice to be able to get some clothes for her from sisters and friends:)before she comes. When the ultrasound tech told me that it was a girl I sort of screamed and scared her. I guess I didn't realize how much I wanted a girl. It doesn't seem right to say so, because I love my boy so much and would love a brother for him, but many of you may know that we've wanted to name a girl after my mother, Susanne (Susie:) So it was quite special to find out a few days before Mother's Day that we'd have a little Susie...a happy and rejoicing thing in what can be a sad time since my mother passed away (it will be 7 years this month!) On the left picture, you can see her heart and might be able to make out the four chambers! She has her hand up in both photos and you can see a bit of her arm on the one to the right too. We are most happy that she is developing perfectly and you can already see that she is beautiful:) (I apologize for the quality...we haven't figured out our scanner yet, so I had to take a picture of the sonogram pictures)
JJ reporting on the blog: I was really excited when I woke up from my nap the other day and saw my friend Ella from church. I thought it was willy neat that she came to my house to play! I really like to give her kisses, but Mama and Dada don't know how many is too many. I just think she's really cute especially with her blonde hair like me.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures (yet) of Annette (our German team member here for the year...although we'd all like her to stay longer) at the party our team threw for her last Saturday. I was kind of "in charge" so I was running around and had no time to snap pictures. Annette is the one with me on the wave runner (top left) and to the right in the boat picture (top right). She turned 40! I don't think she'd mind me telling since she is as youthful (in a great way!) as they come. She is full of life and has blessed us all so much. We were so happy to throw her a big SURPRISE party American style--something she has never experienced and she was COMPLETELY surprised. I made her cake (bottom left) and used my friend Anita's awesome cake decorating stuff. She loved this too and so did Gloria (bottom right enjoying the cake!)
This is what JJ says when he spills something or makes a mess of something. Except I don't think he said it in this case. I also didn't take the picture when he was sitting in the middle of the sprawl of wipes (yes, that's what those white things are). Jared was cleaning up dinner and I was in the bedroom and I thought JJ was being really "quiet" out there, but I also thought Jared could see what he was doing...anyhow, Jared called me out and said "You've got to see this." and I came out to JJ sitting in the middle of all of the wipes. He emptied almost the entire package, but neither of us could get upset, because it was quite funny. However, we did tell him "no" and I put the wipes back in their package (had to cut one end and duct tape it). Lately, JJ's been saying "uh-ooh" alot and spilling more things. I know a part of it is him understanding "cause and effect" so I've been trying to not get upset, but to have him help clean up and to ask him not to do it again (which doesn't always work, so I'll just take it away). I think I'm learning how important it is to have perspective as a parent and by God's grace, God is giving me patience with my funny, loving, mischievious, almost-2 son:)
Well...just when I was thinking, "wow! I haven't had the nesting urge yet in this pregnancy"...I think these pictures are proof that it has come a little. The organizing unit on the left I found used on-line and went to pick it up and on the way home picked up the one on the right for our living/family/playroom. Part of the reason that I don't think I felt the urge to nest is because we have been unsure if we will move (yes again) to be closer to the school where we work. We sensed the Lord's leading to do this, but then have been weighing some factors recently that make it seem like staying might be the right decision. I would definitely like to have the freedom to get a space ready for the baby where we are...and to not have the stress of moving in my third trimester of pregnancy. You all can pray for us with this, as we certainly want to be faithful to the Lord's leading and open to His best for what He's called us to.