Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

As you can probably tell, we've been a little busy this fall. Our posts seem to get fewer and farther between. This weekend was a nice break from the hectic life as we had a few days off and celebrated Thanksgiving with loved ones through continuous eating. It was wonderful. I made my first pumpkin pie and it turned out great. (Thanks, Rachael Ray.) And I bought almost all my Christmas presents after knocking out only a few of the Black Friday shoppers. (I didn't get there until about 9:00, so the 5am-ers were starting to drag their feet by then. They were much easier to knock down after they'd been shopping for 4 hours.) All in all, it was a well-spent weekend. Now, I will continue my non-stop Christmas music marathon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I get a daily devotional over email that I try to read in silence every morning before I start my day. It has one longer scripture and one shorter scripture of the day. Today's scripture is:

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
-Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

Jack and I did not get to post anything in October. It was a month full of highs and lows. The best high moment was that Jack had a birthday! The lowest moment was that he lost his grandmother after a long battle with many illnesses. If he chooses to post more about that, I'll let him do that in his own time. Anyway, due to everything that has been going on, I think blogging has been something we just didn't think to do. When I checked my friend's blogs over the past month, I would think about updating ours occasionally, but I really did not know what to say.

Today when I read the scripture of the day on my email it made me stop to think about what a gift each day is to us. November is a month when we often think about being thankful. As I rejoice in today, I am thankful for my loving family, my precious husband, my steady job, my home, the freedom I have in my country, and most of all a loving God who created me, sustains me, forgives me, and loves me even when I take all of those things for which I am thankful for granted.

As you go about your day, remember that it is a gift from a loving Father and rejoice.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A year ago...

A year ago this coming Saturday (9/19/09) will be one year since my uncle (dad's brother) suddenly passed away.

There are some things in life that you don't ever think that you will forget about. I foresee this being one of those situations. It was a Friday morning and Francie and I were getting up early to travel for a weekend get-a-way with my parents and sister. While in the city, I was going to get to see my favorite baseball team play against their chief rivals. It was going to be one of those well deserved, do as little as possible, family vacations. It was also going to be an early celebration of my 30th birthday and my wife and sister had spent months planning the trip not to mention way too much money on the game tickets. However just before we were set to get up, I got a call saying that my uncle was going to the emergency room and that it did not look good.

Now for those that don't know that side of the family, this actually wasn't an unusual event for my uncle. He suffered for many years with multiple diseases, and on more occasions than you or I have fingers and toes he has been at the brink of death and then came back. This time was very different. This time he didn't pull out of it, nor would any human been able to. See my uncle, unknown to anyone, had abdominal aortic aneurysm. The aneurysm burst that Friday morning, and because of this, my uncle passed away in his house, while my aunt was trying to take care of him like she had done for so many years.

Because of my uncle's passing away, we did not make the trip to see my baseball team play. We instead stayed home and were with family. Through the help of many family members and friends I was able to sell the tickets. I was told by my aunt that I could go on to the game that she totally would understand. I didn't care anything about the game. It was just a game. I had lost my uncle. My dad had lost his brother. My grandmother had lost her son. My cousins had lost their father, and my aunt had lost the one that she loved for 35 years.

(A quick side note about my uncle and my aunt. They meet in the same building that I now work in. I walk through the area where they met for the first time nearly every day. It's ironic how life works out and things are so connected.)

The next several days passed so quickly, yet seemed to last forever. I vividly remember certain situations that occurring during the next week or so, wishing that in some ways I could forget them however thankful in other ways that I won’t. We have all moved on over the past year. My cousins went back to their homes in a city about 6 hours away. My aunt continued to live her life. My grandmother has had many ups and downs health wise. So has my dad. There have been many joyful events (buying a house, dad making it through surgery, etc). There have been other sad events (grandmother’s health, etc). However we are all still here and we all still love each other. However Saturday will bring back a lot of feelings for everyone.
So if you don’t mind please say a prayer for my family on Saturday. I don’t know how the day will go. I do know that it will be hard on the entire family, especially since we will not be together. May God bless each and every one of you who read this blog. I pray that you enjoy the time you have with your family, however long or short it may be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The House: Before and After...

Last night we hosted our first large group in our home. The life group we meet with on Sunday nights from church came to our house for dinner, games, and a devotional lesson. It was a great evening. In preparation, Jack and I cleaned and cleaned so today, as promised, I have pictures of the inside of our house: before and after the renovations! (Please excuse the picture layout. Inserting this many pictures through blogger was more challenging and time consuming than I expected.)
Keep in mind, all of the before pictures were taken before the previous owner was completely moved out so the furniture was moved out when they left.

Let's start with the utility room:

Notice the green paint, green vinyl valances, and unpainted wood paneling....


Now, it is a utility room so pardon the hangers and slight mess, but notice the beautiful tan and white paint, lovely new valance and new floor. There is also a new light fixture in here but you can't see that from this picture.

Now to the kitchen! Before:

There's that green paint again. And how about those saloon doors?

So the changes in here include painted cabinets, new hardware, new light fixtures (again not pictured), new floors, new window treatments, new blinds, and new paint.
Some of the biggest changes occurred in the living room. is the before:

The living room was originally two rooms: a den and formal living room. The formal living room was red with white carpet and a flowery border that was triple-glued (rrrrrgh)! The den was green (again) paneling and because of the fireplace the room was very narrow and offered few options for furniture set-up. So...we began to think about taking down the wall between the two rooms and creating one large living room for ourselves.


Now we have a large living room and 18 people sat comfortably around last night during our life group meeting. As you can see, we also have new carpet, paint, window treatments, and light fixtures in this room too.
Guest bedroom and guest bathroom. Before:

The guest bathroom had gold lantern light fixtures that cast a yellow light all over the room, not to mention that they were hung low in mirror. Furthermore, there was no shower in the guest bathroom, just the (wonderful) jacuzzi tub. The guest bedroom was fine. The biggest problem with it was a ceiling fan that was improperly hung and no carpet. (Jack and I like carpet...don't judge us.)


In the guest bathroom, we changed light fixtures, added a vent/light fixture, added the shower and marble around the jacuzzi tub, painted, and put in a new toilet. In the guest bedroom, we painted, added carpet, and changed the light fixture.

Finally, our bedroom and bathroom. Before:

Our bedroom had wall paper and no carpet. Our bathroom was green (again) and the shower tiles were falling off the walls. We ended up having to take the shower completely out and re-doing the entire thing. That was one of the largest projects we tackled.

In our bedroom we added carpet, painted (after stripping wallpaper), changed the light fixture, and bought new bedroom furniture (which I love!). In the bathroom, we painted and completely gutted and changed out the shower. We put in marble instead of tile. Hopefully it will serve us well for years to come.
There are other rooms in the house not pictured here (the dining room, office, garage, and outside storage building) but these are the ones that are 1. clean and 2. the most changed. This project took up a large part of our summer and we are very thankful to our wonderful family who helped us with all the work and also friends and family who helped us move.
We feel truly blessed to be in our home. It is great for us and we have learned alot from the renovations (as you may have read if you keep up with this blog). Thanks for your prayers and support!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dear Jacuzzi Tub...

Dear Jacuzzi tub,

Thank you for coming into my life. When we first viewed what is now our home, our realtor showed you to us with some enthusiasm. While I knew your capabilities, I was only mildly impressed. We really weren't looking for a home with a Jacuzzi tub. None of the other homes we had seen had a Jacuzzi tub. It was not a deal-maker or breaker for us. No offense, but your presence in our home was merely icing on the cake. But now, oh now, I know the value that you add to our home. When I have had a long, very stressful, restless week, I begin to day dream about you. Turning on some music, pouring just the right temperature of water in you, and allowing you to work your magic, you can relax at least some of my stress away. Yes, you have your weaknesses. You are a little short, but then so am I. And you more than make up for your lack of length in your wonderful depth and many jets that shower me in powerful massaging bubbles at the push of a button and turn of a dial. Yes, Jacuzzi tub, you are truly one of the blessings in my life.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Welcome to the start of school!!!

Our loyal fans may be wondering where the heck we have been!!! It's over two weeks since we last posted!!! It's amazing the earth hasn't split open and swallowed all of us whole!!

I can best sum up where we have been in just a six short sentence. But first a story...

I was mowing the other day for dad (who by the way is recovering nicely), and I got a call on my cell phone. I didn't fully recognise the number (aka it wasn't a number that I had pre-programmed into my phone), however did think that the number looked familiar. So I turned off the mower and answered the phone. It was the nursing home that my grandmother is now staying in. It took several minutes of me saying "Hello!?!" to get someone to talk to me. It was Granny and the first words out of her mouth was, "You are alive!"

My response, and also my response to those who may be wondering where we have been, was....


Seriously.....that was my response! :) I love my Granny, but one of the things that is weird is that some of our family members are having trouble realizing that for the rest of our natural lives come August , SCHOOL STARTS!! and with school starting, our lives get extremely crazy. However, things are starting to slow down a bit, so hopefully I'll be able to go visit Granny more often in the next several weeks.

Hope everyone else is doing well.


P.S. The phone conversation with Granny was good and we got to talk for a few minutes (I wasn't nearly as straight forward as I immediately was :)). I did get a chance to visit her a few days later, and it was good to see her.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Update on Dad

For many of you that know us personally, we have tried to keep you up-to-date on dad's progress through other outlets. However, for those that don't have access to those other outlets below is a synopsis of the updates.

Aug 7

3:26 PM
they just took dad back. Surgery should be about 4 hrs. More later......

5:24 PM
surgery actually started at 4:15 pm. 5:15 update said that things were going well. Next update should occur around 6:15 with surgery ending around 7:15.

6:28 PM
surgery still going on and progressing. They say he is "doing well". Hopefully next update will be around 7:15 pm.

7:37 PM
survey went VERY well. Took kidney, tumor, and a few Lymph nodes for Pathology to look at. Results not till Wed of next week. Thanks for the prayers everyone. Still not completely out of woods but happy to hear the surgery went well.

Aug 8
8:57 AM
long night last night. He didn't sleep good because of the pain. Doctors have been in and are going to work on the pain. Overall in good shape, woke up from surgery wanting something to eat!! :-)

5:24 PM
It's nearly 5:30. The Dr's have been in twice today. Overall doing pretty good, but a lot of pain. He's went to the restroom, walked, and continuing to eat (however only liquids). The pain is the big thing we are dealing with because when he coughs it's extremely painful. Not going home today, and I'm not thinking that tomorrow he will be leaving even if he is released. Thanks 4 everything!

A very rough day today with a lot of pain and other issues. Very unlikely to get out tomorrow.

Aug 9
2:53 PM
He is going to be dismissed today. We are not very excited about this, but going to deal with it the best we can. He has an appt Tues to follow up the health issue we had yesterday. Because of this appt, he is going to stay in town till Tues. Overall in good shape. Very tired and still in some moderate pain, but overall he is doing good.

8:03 PM
we have been dismissed and are at a hotel downtown. Call if you need the info. Still a lot of pain and slow moving. Thanks for the prayers. They really mean a lot.
Aug 10
10:57 AM
he is doing much better today. He is getting around by himself, eating more, and looking better. We are headed back to home, but dad and mom are staying for the appt tomorrow. Updates will be slower but still as much as possible.

Aug 12
hopefully will come home today. Doctor's appt yesterday went pretty good. Not 100% of what we were hoping for, however overall good news. Expect test results on tumor today or tomorrow.

Aug 13
Tumor on kidney was cancer, however tissue around cancer was clean and lymph nodes were also clean of cancer!! Therefore dad is cancer free!! YAY!!! Thank you God for this blessing! Dad is still moving slow but doing well especially after this WONDERFUL NEWS!! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR PRAYERS! This is truly answered prayers.

As you can tell it was a long week, however it ended well. While dad did have cancer, the cancer was contained and was totally removed during the surgery. We are very excited about the news about the cancer, and are thankful to the Lord for this blessing. Dad continues to recoop, however is doing well overall. Now we just have to get over the surgery.

While this media will not reach everyone that we know, and neither will the other media that we have been using, we want everyone to know just how much we appreciate all of the prayers, calls, questions, and concern expressed to both Francie and myself during the past several days. We are so blessed to have a loving earthly family, spiritual family, and friends who care so much about us and my dad.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day....

For those of you who don't follow my lame excuse of a prayer blog, I thought that I would also post something here.

Tomorrow is dad's surgery. To say that everyone is nervous would be a gross understatement. However we are all staying positive and hoping and praying for the best. God truely knows what we need and He will take care of us. Surgery tomorrow is at 1:30 our time, so please say a small prayer for him around that time (or before so that you don't forget). Fran, my sister, and I will be traveling down to the surgery location tomorrow morning. If you want updates please call or text either Fran, my sister, or myself. Slower updates, I'll try to post here so that everyone who reads this (even you, Mr. or Mrs. Stranger), will know how things went.

Thanks again for the prayers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh's August.

Once again, August is upon us. Jack and I have come to learn that August tends to be a very busy month for us. It seems to have started when we lived in our previous location and were in charge of the campus ministry at our church. The beginning of the school year is always a big time in campus ministry so we usually had many big events with lots of things to coordinate, plus we both worked in schools so starting things up there added extra pressure to the mix. Living where we do now, August is still an insane month for us and as I turned the page on my calendar a few days ago it struck me that the days are upon us now.

So how are we doing now that summer is pretty much over? Well, the boxes are probably about 50% unpacked. I've basically completed the kitchen. I have some items to donate and some to store, but otherwise the kitchen is done and I love it. The other rooms are getting there. I've found myself staring at boxes of things now that I'm just not sure what to do with. I'm sure you have those items-- the ones that you really don't want to get rid of, but yet what do you do with them? That's the stage I'm in. We haven't hung any pictures yet because boxes have been lining the walls and it would be too much trouble to move them to hang pictures. So, there is still alot of work to do, but in time all of that will get done. It may be Christmas before it's done, but it will get there.

I survived turning 30 and I can now use the phrase, "well, when I was in my 20's..." I was able to get together with some of my friends from college, most of whom also turned 30 this summer, and we had a nice dinner. We all marveled at how strange it is that our college years were approximately 10 years ago and how old that makes us feel. I really enjoyed getting to see them and catch up.

Jack and I both had goals we wanted to meet for work that may or may not be met before school actually starts in a couple of weeks. I guess that is just the way life goes. I think God is trying to teach me to let go of my plans and be ok with going on his time schedule, not my own. So I'll continue to work on all of the things on my list and hope that this year's August goes well. Pray for us as we move through this crazy month.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finally moved in....kinda!

Well this past weekend was a big weekend for our family. On Saturday we moved the rest of the stuff from the house we were renting to our new house. There are still somethings in the garage at the old place and the house needs to be cleaned before we turn it back over to the family member we were renting it from. However, for all practical purposes we are totally in our new house!!! YAY!!! Nearly 3 months after we took possesion, we are finally living in OUR house. It's kinda weird though. For the first time I can remember, I kept myself awake last night (not for too terribly long) worrying about everything else that has to be done. AUGH!!!! We haven't even unboxed everything....heck we haven't even unboxed 70% of our stuff, but I'm already worried and thinking about what has to be done NEXT!! DANG IT!

However, I eventually fell asleep and everything that needs to be done will eventually get done. God will provide. While I had a moment I wanted to stop and thank EVERYONE for helping (physically or financially) us during this process. I would try to name those that helped, however I am affraid that I would leave someone out. To everyone that did help we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Without your help we would not be in the house as early as we were. Heck we may not be in the house at Christmas if it was just us working on it!!

Again thanks for keeping up with us on this blog. We hope that you have enjoyed the frustrations, joys, and lessons learned during the process of getting the house done. More will come as we work on the other projects that are keeping me up at night! ;)

Friday, July 24, 2009

NYC, Birthdays, and Moving In

Much has happened in the past few weeks. Jack and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary by spending the night in our new home. Our bedroom furniture came in a few days before our anniversary and with some help we moved in just enough items that we could begin sleeping in the house. It's been good to start the moving process. After this weekend, we hope to get the last of the boxes and furniture out of our old home and be completely moved into our new home. It will probably take a while for all the boxes to be unpacked, but that is ok. It feels good to be in. Once I can get organized enough to take some pictures, I will post the before and afters (I know, I know, I've been saying that for a while.)

This past week I actually went on a little vacation. (Good timing, right?) Well, last winter my mom suggested that she and I go on a trip for my big 3-0 birthday this summer. She and I used to do alot of traveling together when I was in college so this was an opportunity to do something like that again. The idea was to go to New York for a long weekend. So, back in February we booked the plane tickets. By the time it was over with, the long weekend turned into almost a week because flying out on Thursday was cheaper than Friday and coming home on Tuesday was cheaper than Monday and we found a good deal on a hotel. Anyway, all of this happened way before we knew that Jack and I were going to buy a house and renovate and move in at the end of July. But that's what happened, so last week I packed up with my nerves shot and left for NYC. It was a great trip and a much needed break from reality.

Here are my recommendations for anyone going to NYC:
1. If you are going to stay at least 5 days get a City Pass. The pass is an advanced ticket to several museums/monuments and if you want to go see everything on the pass, it's a good deal. Plus you don't have to wait in any lines get tickets. This saved us a ton of time and helped us schedule our trip.

2. Save your money and plan to bring an extra bag home with items you purchase there. I have never seen so much stuff to buy in one place. There are stores, street vendors, souvenir shops, and markets everywhere. And most of them will reduce their prices when you start to walk away. This is a true test of self-control.

3. Get a really good map, especially if you plan to use the subway. New York subways can be tricky. We met one woman from Athens who said she had taken the wrong train three times. She had been to two other countries where she didn't speak the language and had been able to figure out the subway system but was having a very difficult time in New York.

4. If you are planning to see a Broadway show, get up the day of the show and go to TKTS in Time Square to buy your tickets. The line looks long but they move you through fast. If you are really counting on going to one particular show you may not want to do this (they don't sell tickets to everything) but if you are ok with two or three options, this is definitely your best deal. We got half-price tickets to 9-5 (Excellent show!) and ended up being 6 rows back from the stage. It could not have been better and there is no way we could have done that for that price had we bought them in advance.

So now I have returned and this is probably going to be my last time to post while I am still in my 20's. Looking back on the past decade, so much has happened in my life. I've done most of what I wanted to do and I have changed alot since I was 19 turning 20. If you had asked me then what my life would be like now I would have never guessed it would be like this. But that is the nature of life. I can't even imagine what I will be writing when I'm 39 turning 40. What a decade this will be...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lessons on Home Remodeling - Tip #4

Trimming doors when new flooring is installed.

It's time for the weekly installment of Home Remodeling tips from Jack and Francie!!! (I started writing this and then Francie beat me to the post so I had to slightly modify mine. NO big deal.)However, regardless of that this week you get a two for one deal!!! Call it our summer special! ;-)

Tip #4: Trimming doors when new flooring is installed.
Last week the vinyl was laid in the kitchen/utility room. Because of the people who laid the vinyl having to also lay down underlayment, the doors in the utility room leading to the garage and outside needed to be trimmed. BUT the people who laid the flooring didn't trim doors. SO in mentioning this to others they said that the carpet people should trim the doors. Thinking that the doors to the bedrooms might also need trimming, we hoped to just have him also trim the doors that the vinyl layers did not. In the famous words of Ray Stevens......WRONG! The carpet is being laid today and when asking them about the doors, they also said that they were not suppose to trim the doors either! SO now we have to try to trim the doors ourselves or find someone who will. So tip #3 in the house remodeling of the Jack and Francie's house is...."Ask before you buy the carpet/vinyl/tile/etc if the layers will trim the doors. If they don't develop a plan assuming that the doors will need to be trimmed."

Lessons on Home Remodeling- Tip #3

Never celebrate too early.

We have learned over the course of this house remodeling venture that nothing is as simple as it seems. Most things take longer than they should and don't work the first time you put them up, hook them up, hang them up, or turn them on. Yesterday we decided to go ahead and move the washer and dryer to the utility room closet. There is no hook-up at our current residence so the washer and dryer have been in storage. I am very excited about the idea of being able to do laundry in my own home again once we get moved in! So we discovered first that the dryer will not plug into the current electrical outlet because the outlet and the plug on our dryer don't match. Ok...we have to switch another outlet. So we brought the washer in to hook it up. Everything was connected beautifully. Time to try it out. Hot Cold Warm Hallelujah! Something works the first time!! I did a dance in the utility room. "Celebrate with me! Something works the first time!" But, alas, remember Tip #3. We began to drain the water we had just put into the washer and behold....water all over the floor. There was a bad hose that needs to be replaced. We spent the next 30 minutes or so sopping up water with some kitchen towels we found from the previous owner and a few paper towels. When Jack disconnected the hose...whoosh! another big rush of water. We got it all cleaned up and dry but needless to say we have a washer and dryer IN the house but neither are in working condition at this time.

Oh yeah, and this weekend was the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day, everyone. We did take Saturday off-- away from work AND the house-- to enjoy a break and the festivities. It was a nice day for both of us. Praise God for the courageous men and women who serve our country and protect our freedoms. May God bless us even in our weaknesses.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lessons on Home Remodeling- Tip # 2

When the previous home owners leave you a cabinet full of cleaning products, take the opportunity to use them and assess their value.

Today, I will evaluate three-- that's right THREE-- home cleaning products for you. Kaboom! (in honor of the late Billy Mays), George Foreman Knockout Multi-Purpose Cleaner (our former homeowner must have liked infomercials), and Windex with vinegar (yuck). I cleaned the guest bathroom last night because it is finished. Yay! Both bathrooms are actually done, but I was only able to get to the guest bath last night and I really need to give it another good cleaning, but last night gave me the opportunity to test out these three amazing products. Here is my assessment:

While I mean no disrespect to Billy, the Kaboom! disappointed me. It left a weird white residue on the counter top and just didn't seem to clean well. So it was out. Same goes for the Windex with vinegar. I searched through the 15 bottles of cleaning products I inherited with the house looking for another glass cleaner, but to no avail. This Windex left several streaks that I could not remove so I'm going to have to clean the mirror again. So, out of our triple product test, the winner is....George Foreman's Knockout Multi-Purpose Cleaner! Actually, this was pretty good. It seemed to clean well on multiple surfaces and didn't leave any kind of residue or film. Is there anything George Foreman can't do?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lessons on Home Remodeling- Tip # 1

When an electrician comes to your home to create a place for new ceiling fans and install them, DO NOT take the time to put the ceiling fans together to save time for the electrician. Your efforts will be futile.

Wednesday night, before the electrician was to come on Thursday, Jack and I decided that we needed to put our two living room ceiling fans together to save the electrician time and save us some money. Mind you, our home has no lights right now because we took them all down (again to save us some money) so the electrician can check the wires and secure the boxes where fans used to be. So Jack and I sat in the living room with head lights (flash lights on an elastic band that you attach to your head) and put together ceiling fans after church Wednesday night. Thursday when we came to make sure the electrician had no questions for us, the ceiling fans were all but completely disassembled in the living room floor. "We can't hang them assembled," the electrician informs us to our dismay.

Things are moving along and hopefully the house will be move-in ready soon. It will probably be ready for us before we are ready for it, considering that I haven't packed one box. Not one. I think I am avoiding the whole situation. I would rather take one or two mad packing days than begin to pack slowly and take one box over at a time for several days. As soon as things are complete I promise I will post the before and after pictures so you can see what I've been talking about for the past two months or so.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here a year...

It hit us this past weekend that we have been in the town that we now live in for a whole year (Saturday, June 20th was actually exactly one year). It's amazing how things change and yet how things stay the same. When we left the town we were living in we were very excited about moving, while at the same time very sad about leaving some of our dear friends behind. But here we are a year later and it's funny how things have changed. We are glad to be moving where we were, but as the saying goes "You can never move back 'home'." How true this has been. We are excited about being close to family, however this presents unique challenges (in SO many ways). We are excited about our jobs, however this past year has been very, very, very stressful on both of us (and unfortunately this doesn't look to be getting any better). We are excited about working with a ministry that has a leader and a church that strongly supports it, however the "perfect" situation really isn't all that "perfect". We are excited about buying a house, but the jobs that we (and everyone else) think that we should do before we move-in never seem to cease. We miss our lives in the town we left. We really miss some of the people we left. We miss the smiling faces of the students we left.

Will the other saying of "time heals all wounds" fix these problems that we seem to have? Who knows. Stay tuned! ;)

Monday, June 8, 2009


Last week I decided to make a call to the contractor just to see if we were still on schedule to have the wall taken down between our formal living room and den. According to what he had told us when we had the estimate done, this job would probably be done about the middle of June, so maybe next week-- if we were lucky. Thursday morning he called me back and when I asked him when he might get to us he said, "How about I come today?" TODAY?!? My heart started to flutter. This was the big job I was waiting for-- and earlier than I expected. But on the phone I kept my cool. "Sure, today would be fine," I said in my most professional sounding voice.

By the end of the next day, we had a big, beautiful, open space where a wall once was. Jack and I sat in our lawn chairs in what used to be a small formal living room and looked into the open space that is now our whole living room. It's terrific. We are so pleased. The job is not completely finished, but close. Painting is well on its way. The bathroom showers are getting their marble treatments today and hopefully Jack and I will make flooring decisions soon. Things with the house are really falling into place. Soon, I hope to post some before and after pictures of the inside of some of the rooms so you can see the transformation. I want to wait for completion so you can really see the difference (paint and all).

On another note, I started a summer Bible study with a few friends today. We are going to meet weekly and I am excited about it too. I think it is going to be a real blessing to me to spend time with some other women each week discussing God's word and learning how we can pray for one another. My summer class will meet for the last time this weekend and then I will just finish up grading and be able to check that off the list of things to do this summer. I hope I can continue to be motivated to do the rest of the work I need to do but with God's help, I know I will be able to do what needs to be done and let go of the rest. Thanks for your prayers. I have been able to feel his peace the past few days.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grow in Happiness

Friends and loved ones...pray for us. I was sitting in the doctor's office this morning, reading the text book for my summer class (because of course I can't let any time go to waste) and I ran across these sentences: "Indeed, part of human happiness depends on not feeling overburdened-- at least not for too long. Few things are as debilitating as feeling frazzled by having too much to do and too little in the way of resources to do it." This is at least my third time to read this book and when I read those sentences I stopped and re-read them at least 3 more times. What a true statement to characterize how Jack and I have been feeling for the past year. I don't know why this particular life adjustment (new jobs, move, new house, etc) has been so much more difficult for us than previous similar experiences but it has continued to drain our resources and doesn't seem to be letting up. I realize that in some ways we probably bring these feelings onto ourselves, but they don't make the stress any less real for us. So, I ask for your prayers that we can learn to manage our lives and balance our responsibilities so that we can prioritize properly and feel a sense of peace and rest. Within that, with God's help, we can grow that "human happiness" the author speaks of in my class's text book.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Work Continues...

Demolition continues at our house. We officially have a hole where the master bedroom shower used to be, but we also have a new shower head where there previously wasn't one in the guest bathroom. Tiles have been removed and I think I saw a little smile on Jack's face when he got to take a sledge hammer to the shower floor this past weekend. It is fun to work with tools and tear stuff up, no matter what it looks like when you are through.

The wallpaper removal is a whole different story. Whoever put up the border in the living room and dining room loved wallpaper paste. LOVED wallpaper paste. I think they must have found a good sale on it somewhere and just hated not to use it all because they double or triple pasted this border on this wall. It was going no where. This border had to be removed in layers-- the top layer, the backing, and then the sticky residue left behind kind of like when you remove a price tag from an item and the residue is left, but worse. My mom, Jack's mom, and I, along with my cousin, and a few others from time to time have worked on it for days and we have about a wall and a half left to remove.

We are beginning to consider paint colors and floor coverings so everything is moving along nicely. We are rather boring when it comes to paint, so that choice shouldn't be too difficult for us. And when it comes to floor coverings, we prefer carpet. I know, I know...hardwood is beautiful. Hardwood is THE thing to do. Hardwood is easy to care for (sort of). We've heard all of the arguments and seen all of the eye rolling when it comes to floor covering. We do have some original hardwood in the house, but we just prefer carpet. So, we will protect that hardwood by choosing a carpet that we like and enjoying the comfort of nice, soft, warm carpet. Thank you.

Between all the work at the house and all the work I'm doing for my summer teaching, I completely forgot that this past weekend was a holiday weekend until last Friday. So while I enjoyed having the day off yesterday and spending some restful time with our families, I now have to be mindful of the shorter work week in completing what I need to do for my summer class. I am trying very hard to focus on enjoying each process that I am dealing with this summer, from the house, to teaching, to all of the other work I am having to do. I know how quickly this summer is going to pass me by and if I spend all my time worrying about how quickly it's going to go or wishing the house was done and I was moved I'm not going to enjoy any of it. So instead I'm trying to learn as I go, take pictures, and enjoy the processes I'm involved in. I hope that will help me make the most of this summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


We closed on the house two weeks ago tomorrow. It feels great to have a home even if we don't live there yet. Since my job is more flexible than Jack's and allows me more opportunity to slip away and meet plumbers, contractors, etc for estimates, I've been calling people and meeting them for the past several days.

Some things have been difficult about this part of the process that I didn't expect. For example, do you know that there are multiple ways to take down a wall in a home? We met with 7 different contractors/carpenters who were qualified to take down a wall between two living rooms and each of them described a completely different way that they planned to take down our wall. Some of them seemed viable, others seemed a little scary. All of it was a little overwhelming. The fun part for me was listening to all of them talk about what they would do and how they would do it so now I can ask some questions and talk about taking down a wall and sound half-way intelligent about it. "So are you going to put a header up there or are you going to use an LVL beam in the ceiling?"

That's right...just call me Francie Vila. Or better me after one of those people on HGTV who never actually does any of the work but stands back and watches other people while smiling and talking about it like she knows what's going on. Yeah, that's who I want to be.

We have pretty much settled on who is going to do most of the work now, so it's a matter of making some of the detailed decisions and waiting for when they can work us in. So far-- so good.

Summer has begun as far as my school year goes. I am teaching a class that begins shortly so I haven't really gotten to take a break yet, but I look forward to taking one soon...maybe.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

House Update

Quick update folks-- we are closing on the house tomorrow morning. I know for some people this is no big deal at all. For me, this is huge. I feel the need to celebrate and freak out all at the same time. We don't plan to move in for a while because we want to do some renovating to the inside and we are blessed to be able to stay in our current location until that work is done. I know the next few months is going to be filled with decision-making, first experiences, and eventually moving which may all be stressful but it will be worth it to enjoy our first home together. We are truly blessed. Hopefully as the summer moves on we will be able to post updates on our progress. Keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


We celebrated a wonderful Easter Sunday with our families this past weekend. Our minister and song leader were used by the Holy Spirit to deliver an outstanding worship service and I was literally moved to tears as we sang Worthy is the Lamb. I am thankful that he who had no sin was sent to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)....the righteousness of God. When I think of myself and my inadequacies, I cannot imagine being the embodiment of the righteousness of God. But that is the amazing gift of grace that God gave us through Christ, his sacrifice and his resurrection.

Thank you for the cross, Lord.
Thank you for the price you paid.
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love you came
And gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love, Lord.
Thank you for the nail pierced hands.
Washed me in your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the Throne
Crown you now with many crowns
You reign victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus, Son of God
The darling of Heaven, Crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I know we haven't posted in a while. This month has been CRAZY. Spring is busy for me in the semester at work, but we have also been busy personally and had to take care of a few things. I do want to say this-- thank you for your thoughts and prayers on the house situation. We found one. :)

This past weekend, Jack and I were out working in the yard. While moving trucks around we missed 4 phone calls from our realtor. She left a message on both of our phones. When I did get back in touch with here is how our conversation went:
Realtor: "Are you in town?"
Me: "Yes..."
Realtor:"I have a house you need to see. It has some great features for you and a huge outbuilding that Jack will love. You need to come see it."

So Jack and I talked briefly and we asked her when would be a good time to come by.
Realtor: "Now."
Me: "Well, we've been working in the yard all day, we aren't cleaned up at all."
Realtor: "Doesn't matter. No one is here. Come on over. You've got to see it."

So Jack and I got into the car with the faint smell of our outdoor workmanship and headed off to see this house. Part of the reason the realtor was in such a hurry was because the house was priced very well. Very well. Her concern was that if we wanted it and we didn't move on it soon that someone else would make an offer before us.

So we went to see it and it was great. We brought our families in and they loved it too. While we normally take a long time to make these kinds of decisions, we also knew that other people would be seeing the house that afternoon. So we went ahead and made an offer. By Sunday afternoon, we were on our way to buying a house! Now we are in the process of inspections, securing the loan, etc and it is wonderfully distracting. If everything continues as hoped we will move in sometime this summer after we have done some updating to the inside of the home.

Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. We are very excited that we have found a home and we pray that everything moves smoothly from here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

With this ring...

Our Wednesday night Bible class at church (which is aimed at college students) is about Christian marriage this semester. It has been interesting for Jack and I as we are called on from time to time to offer insight on the subject. Last week we were asked to participate on a marriage panel. Other couples also participated. The couple who was married the longest had been married for over 50 years which is no small thing these days. There was a "newlywed game" which Jack and I lost and then some time for us just to answer questions. Getting different perspectives from different couples who had been married for different lengths of time was eye-opening, even for me.

Tonight I went out to dinner with 3 other wonderful Christian women. Two of us were married and the other two were single. As usual, part of the conversation dealt with men and those of us who were married found ourselves talking about the adjustments that marriage brings to your life. Issues like where to squeeze the toothpaste tube and which side of the bed to sleep on can become sources of stress like they never were when you were single and had complete control of your own toothpaste. Shortly after Jack and I were married I accidentally gave him a black eye with my elbow when I turned over in bed. Oops. We went to church that week and everyone gave me dirty looks. I had alot of explaining to do.

I am thankful that God created marriage. Being married to Jack has richly blessed my life. That's not to say that we don't have challenges...all marriages do. However, with God's help we have been able to work together through tough times and I believe we will continue to work through them as they arise. We've got the toothpaste thing figured out (with a handy little tool that you put on the end of the tube). We're still working on some of the others. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

What is God Saying? - Your input is requested

For those that know us well, Francie & I try very hard to listen to what God is telling us. Without giving too much of us away, on every move/career change/etc we have striven to listen to what God was trying to tell us in the situation. And for the most part, we feel that He has guided us (or for this blog post - told us) through various incidents, "signs", etc as to what we needed -or what He felt was best for us - to do.

So we find ourselves again at this crossroad and we are trying to listen to what God is telling us to do in regards to buying a house where we now live. To try to help you understand what we mean, without giving too much away below is a timeline.

  1. After accepting a job, we started looking for houses to potentially buy. Know that we have never owned a house before so we are virgins at this and trying to not make mistakes as we go along. In looking at houses, we got in touch with a real estate agent and a financial broker (both we know personally and consider friends).

  2. We didn't initially buy but continued to look over the period of several months while we have been renting from a family member (a HUGE blessing that we feel so blessed to be able to use). NOTE: We have enjoyed where we are living but there are a few things that we miss that are kinda driving the desire to buy a home.

  3. After several months of searching we just did not find anything that we loved. Because of our current housing situation we weren’t willing to "settle" for something. We really wanted to find something that we loved and would be happy in for several years. Doesn't have to be permanent but we’re looking at least 5+ years of living there.

  4. While we were looking, both our real estate agent and our financial broker left the business because of the current economic times. We by no means fault them for making the career change, just a part of life and taking a while to buy a home.

So in all of this we started to think that maybe God was trying to tell us to wait on buying a house. After all we really didn't have 20% to put down on a house in the price range that we were looking in. Besides this we had several other family issues that we were having to deal with (some that have been documented on this blog and Jack's Prayer Requests).

So we were just waiting. That is until this past Thursday night.

Since we have started looking we have had family members occasionally tell us about houses that they have come across. This has been very handy in the housing search as both Francie and I have been swamped with other issues but it allows us to know about houses that we might have missed.

This past Thursday night my mom sent me a house that she found online that we were interested in and I was very interested in (and for those that know me best this is a rare event). So since our agent had resigned from the business we decided to just contact the person selling the house in order to at least look at it.

Well the house went under contract LAST NIGHT!!! WHAT LUCK! AUGH!!!

So my question to everyone out there is.......What do you think God is trying to tell us? We would like to finally get “settled” in the town that we live in, however we don’t want to make an unwise decision and would like to continue our history of listening to God in these life changing decisions. But we are just SOOOO confused. And if God is trying to tell us to wait, how long do we wait? Or is God trying to tell us that we need to move on this more quickly because we might miss out on what we need? The last three times we have been semi-interested in a house by the time we asked to see it, it was under contract. Are we too slow on the trigger? What is your perspective?


Jack and I went out of town this weekend to the place where we used to live. We hadn't been back since we moved last summer and it was wonderful to see old friends and drive around in the town we lived in for 4 years. There's alot to be said for distance. While distance can be difficult if you are separated from someone you love, distance can also be healing. Getting away from difficult situations can begin to heal you. Even when you have to return to those places of hurt, leaving for a short time can give you new perspective. I'm thankful for distance, not just because it has helped me to move forward from a difficult couple of weeks but because it has helped me in other ways and other parts of my life too.

Thank you for all who have been praying for me and my family. God is good.

Monday, February 16, 2009


When Jack and I started this blog I hoped it would be a light-hearted way to share our lives with people we know and occasionally people we don't know. I often find myself laughing out loud when I read blogs from Mandy or smiling when my friends share stories about their children. Unfortunately, our life has not been as light-hearted as I would like it to be recently and that is why I have really avoided posting anything.

I have had a personal experience recently where one of my family members has found himself trapped deep in complicated, messy, addicting, and stigmatized sin. It's the kind of thing you would never expect to happen in a "good Christian family." Many people, myself included, are still reeling from the news and while I am mostly able to move through my days as if everything is well and normal I do have emotional break-downs from time to time. The whole situation has had me thinking quite a bit about God and Satan, the world and eternity. To God, we are all broken, fallen creatures. Suffering through our weaknesses whether they be private or public. No sin, whether it be jealousy or murder, is worse than any other in the eyes of God. And ending your life in that sin will cause you to face eternal punishment regardless of what it is. In this world, our sins have consequences. And those consequences create levels for us that make us feel as though one sin is worse than another. What's worse, at times the consequences we face for our own sins have drastic effects on those we love even though they had absolutely no control over our actions. Sin and Satan are two powerful forces.

I'm not writing this to draw attention to myself. Although what has happened is in my family, it is not an immediate family member and the effects on me personally are really going to be relatively minor. My concern is more for those who are going to be deeply affected for the rest of their lives. Romans 8:26 says, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." That verse holds a great deal of meaning for me right now on multiple levels. Please pray for this situation and take time to consider your own weaknesses. If you are struggling in an addictive sin and need help to get out of it, please get the help you need before it is too late. Let us allow our Christian brothers and sisters to help us through our weaknesses and follow the words of Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lag Time

I know it's been a while since we have posted. Without going into detail...we've experienced technical delays. We are almost back to normal now so hopefully we will have more to talk about and be able to post more regularly. For now I'll just say that we are moving along through the cold days of winter. This time of year is usually a little less than exciting for me. I've come down from the Christmas high and have yet to be excited about the spring changing of the weather. Maybe you've experienced the same feelings. Anyway, I've added a Bible verse of the day to our blog so I hope it will cheer you during what could be construed as a dreary time of year. God bless you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Getting Away to the Gulf Coast

This past weekend Jack and I attended a conference in Panama City, FL. Gulf Coast Getaway has been happening in January for almost 20 years. In recent years, it has moved to the MLK weekend because there are so many students that travel great distances to be there, they wanted to allow an extra day for travel.

I've written before how much singing is an encouragement to me in worship and this weekend is the epitome of great singing. Imagine nearly 2000 college students praising God with more joy than when your favorite team wins the Superbowl. It's incredible. I'm thankful for having the opportunity to be there and witness it. Students are also blessed by great speakers and opportunities to give and serve. Lives were changed this weekend.

College students are the future of our world. Their lives are turbulent, changing, and forming during these difficult years. It is our responsibility to guide them into becoming who they will be for the rest of their lives. Events like Gulf Coast Getaway can impact those students in ways that mold and shape them. Praise God for people who understand how important those college-age years are and who work to provide for those students. I'm thankful for those who created weekends like this past one and the ministers and volunteers who agreed to take students to it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Beginnings

Living on a school schedule provides an interesting viewpoint on time. School marks definite beginnings and endings multiple times each year. While most people are thinking about what's new around Jan. 1, for me it's more like mid-January and mid-August.

Each year at the beginning of a new semester, I usually have both feelings of eager anticipation and trepidation as I imagine what my new groups of students will be like. Even classes I've taught multiple semesters are made new by the arrival of a new group of students. And each class usually develops its own special personality. What will this group offer? Will they be enthusiastic? Intrigued? Bored? Frustrated? Nervous? Probably a little bit of all of that and more as the semester continues.

Next week will begin a new 16 week semester full of surprises, new relationships, and learning for the students and myself. Next time I blink, I'll be walking into graduation and this new beginning will become an ending. That is one thing I do love about this job-- change in new beginnings.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Taco Soup

One of my favorite things about winter is soup. It's comforting, easy, and delicious. I'm making a recipe for dinner tonight that I thought I would share. It's from a friend of mine at church. If you like chili, you will certainly like this soup. It reminds me of chili, but it's different enough that it offers some variety.

Taco Soup

2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 (.05 oz) packages powdered ranch dressing mix
2 (1.5 oz) packages taco seasoning
1 (16 oz) can black beans, undrained
1 (16 oz) can pinto beans, undrained
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans, undrained
1 (10 oz) can Rotel, undrained
1 (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 (16 oz) cans white whole corn
2 cups water

1. Cook onions and meat together until brown, drain
2. Stir in dressing and seasoning mix
3. Add other ingredients and simmer for two hours
4. Garnish with cheese, serve with tortilla chips or crackers

This soup also freezes well. I put some left-overs in a gallon Ziploc bag and laid it on a cookie sheet to freeze flat (you can stack multiple bags on the cookie sheet to freeze). The frozen soup bags take up almost no freezer space and when I need a quick lunch at home I can quicly defrost and reheat this soup and it's delicious. Enjoy!

New Background

We are experimenting with a different background for the blog. Let us know what you think!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas & New Years

Well it's Saturday, Jan 3th at 11:30 PM. My vacation for all intensive purposes is over. My employer gave us 2 weeks off this holiday season in order to try to save some money in energy costs, and also to give the employees a small token of a gift since we didn't give cost of living pay raises this year.

I personally really enjoyed the time off. To say that it's been a extremely stressful semester would be an understatement. Anyone who has moved, had both spouses start new jobs with huge projects demanding your time in the first 2 months of employment, a death in the family, and another family member having major health issues would totally understand. But please understand I'm not trying to complain or seek sympathy from anyone, but pointing out how stressful the last half of 2008 had been. However like I said, I was sure glad that I got the time off.

Since Fran also had the time off we used the time to visit old friends, spend some time with family, and just lay around the house and relax. Here are some of the stories of what we did.

Dinner out - we took the opportunity to eat dinner with some old friends (Michael & Lacy) from a town that we previously lived in. We went and ate at a popular restaurant that is famous for a special meat dish. This restaurant also has their complex decorated to the nines with Christmas lights. This is also the place where I asked Francie to marry me. It was nice to get to spend some time with old friends and celebrate personal accomplishments with each family. The accomplished that were celebrated were: Francie & I celebrated Christmas, Fran's graduation, both of us getting jobs, our 5 year anniversary, and us moving to the town we live in now. Michael & Lacy were celebrating both of them graduating, their 5 year wedding anniversary, them buying a house, and both of them starting new jobs. We had a wonderful time and miss spending time with them like we use to. Hopefully now that we live 1 hour away instead of 5 hours away we can get together more often.

Shopping - Francie did some shopping during the break as well. This actually was a huge blessing because we didn't have all of our Christmas shopping done. Two FULL days later and several hundreds of dollars, the she was able to finish up the Christmas shopping and also spend some quality time with her mom, aunt, and grandmother.

Christmas Eve - Christmas Eve can be a stressful time for the two of us. Both sides of the family celebrate Christmas on the same day and usually at the same time. We have been blessed since we have been married that both families have been flexible to adjust the time so that we can spend more time with each side. However it's still a very busy evening and makes us feel rushed in trying to get everything crammed into 3 hours or so per family. Things may change in the future regarding this as the families get older and bigger and certain members pass on, however for now it is a very busy night.

This year we started with my family first. My mom's family gets together and everyone eats a pot-luck meal (as good, if not better, than a country church pot-luck meal). After dinner presents are usually opened. We didn't get to stay for most of the presents being opened, however did manage to stay for the big present for Granny H. The cousins went together and got Granny a 15" digital picture frame for Christmas. She had been using her laptop (Christmas present last year from her kids) as a glorified digital picture frame, so this year in trying to keep her laptop working as long as possible; the cousins went in together and got her the real thing. She really likes the present and I hope that is provides her hours and hours of joy. Another present that Granny got was a popcorn popper. Back in the mid-70's several of Granny's kids were getting married. One summer three out of the six kids were married within 6 months of each other. Shortly after that Poppy (mom's dad) said that kids were going to start popping up like popcorn, and sure enough it happened. 30 years later a lot of the next generation is starting to have kids. So one of my cousins got Granny a popcorn popper. It was a very touching tribute and gesture by my cousin and I hope that Granny enjoys.

After spending time with my family we drove the 15 minutes to Francie's aunt's house for Christmas with Fran's family. They had already eaten dinner so once we got there we opened presents. We are a very blessed family and really fooled Santa this year by the amount of gifts that we both received.

Christmas Day - Christmas day we also have to split the time with each family. However unlike years past when we drove in for Christmas, this year we were able to sleep in our OWN BED!!! It was soooo nice to be able to get a good night's sleep in your own bed during the Christmas rush. We started Christmas morning with my parents opening presents with my parents, my sister, and us. After all of the presents were opened we enjoyed a full breakfast that mom, my sister, and Francie cooked. We were able to get Granny D (dad's mom) to come up for the opening of the presents, however due to not feeling good she wasn't able to stay for breakfast. Again we are a very blessed family and really fooled Santa this year by the amount of gifts that we both received.

After opening presents and breakfast we went to Fran's grandmother's for lunch. No presents were exchanged but apparently Santa made a stop by Nana's house and left something for us on their tree. :)

Doctor's appts - we also was able to take care of some medical stuff during the break. Both Francie & I had some tests ran (nothing major just making sure a couple of things are the way they are suppose to be), and I had a follow up visit with an allergy doctor. All in all we are in good health and pray that God will help us continue to be this way for many, many, many more decades.

Baby visiting - Over the last month we know of four couples (yes FOUR couples) who had babies. Three of the four were babies of my cousin's and we were able to visit two of them during the break. The fourth was a child of some friends from church. We were also able to see him while still in the hospital. All parties involved are happy, healthy, and doing well.

Birthday celebrations - we were able to take the opportunity during the break to celebrate Fran's step-grandfather's b-day. He and Fran's grandmother will have been married 8 years (on 1/8/09) and I know that the family is happy that he is in our lives.

New Year's Eve - This year we really didn't have any major plans for New Year's Eve. In years past we would go downtown to a festival that was held in the town that we lived in. The town that we now live in doesn't have any of these celebrations so it's an every-man-for-himself type situation. The church that we attend did end up having services NYE (New Year's Eve) and after attending that we had a late dinner with the campus minister and some friends. Afterwards we went back to the campus house and played games till the ball dropped. After watching two stupid morons perform Evil Knievel type stunts and watching the ball drop, we continued to play games until about 2 AM.

Work - Yes, even though I was off from work I did have to work some. However, the work that I had to do was regarding my private consulting work. There were a few issues at the church that we attend that I had to take care of, and another issue at the campus ministry house that the church supports. I also did some work on a computer that Fran's mom gave us since she wasn't using it any longer. I was also able to use some money I got for Christmas to upgrade the computer slightly, however that stuff hasn't come in yet. :S

Rest - Believe it or not we did get some much needed rest. Both weekends in the break Francie & I spent the day in the house, in our pajamas, and enjoying the avoidance of the stressful life outside the four walls of the house. It was nice to get some much needed rest and sleep for both of us.

Fun times - Francie & I also did some fun things during the break. We were able to go to have a date (we saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, went out to eat, and then went grocery shopping). This was our typical date nights where we lived previously while Fran was getting her PhD. Having a "Jack and Fran date night" was really nice because it brought back some good memories of our previous lives in another town. We also bought a board game and have been playing that. We got the idea from Nana & Bob as they love to play Scrabble. However because I can't spell AT ALL, we decided to go with a game that didn't require spelling but did present some mental thought.....MONOPOLY!!! So far we have played 4 games and I'm ahead 3-1, but whose counting.....right! ;) HAHAHA

Overall it has been a very busy break, but at the same time a very relaxing break. Monday will start the new year for the two of us from any employment sense, and the list of things to do at work are long. However with God's help and some patience on our part we will get everything done.

I hope that each and everyone of you had a wonderful holiday break (no matter how long it was) and that you were able to rest, relax, spend some time with family and friends, and take care of some personal issues just like Francie & I were blessed to have the opportunity to do.

Love to all,