Fun in the Sand... (Our First Family Vacation)

Our family vacation had been elusive.  We had been planing for almost 9 months for our first family vacation and beach trip.  But unfortunately circumstances kept making us have to cancel our plans and reschedule.  Ryan and I wanted to do this family trip before Landon was born.  We wanted to be able to take Ella to the beach for the first time!  Maybe I am just the odd one, but I love being able to do firsts with Ella (and now with Landon too).  It is important to us that we get to experience firsts with our kids and it just be our immediate family (aka the original 3, original 4 and now original 5).  So we finally found a window of time (the day after Ryan returned from one trip and left for another trip the day we returned) that would work!

We went to Orange Beach, AL.  It was about a 6 hour drive from Atlanta, super easy.  We had a wonderful time even though the weather wasn't as cooperative.  Ella loved playing at the pool but wasn't too interested in the beach (aka the sand).  The sand was difficult for her and she wanted nothing to do with it.  Here are a few pics of Our First Family Vacation!  

First view of the beach

First view of the beach

Dinner out on the intercoastal

Dinner out on the intercoastal

Taking a photo with our dinner...

Taking a photo with our dinner...

Beach discoveries

Beach discoveries

Splashin' in the waves

Splashin' in the waves

A stroll on the beach

A stroll on the beach

Trying again on day two

Trying again on day two

Loving the sun!

Loving the sun!

Future Samford Bulldog?!

Ella and I got the chance to make a trip to Birmingham in the Winter!  I loved getting to take her to a place that was so meaningful to me.  Birmingham, really Samford, has so many memories, good & bad, life lessons, friends, firsts, making grownup decisions, and all things ADULTING.  

While we were there we went to one of my favorite places, Gutheries.  While it may not be much to most, to me it is full of yummy food (only chicken fingers) and memories of how Friday nights were spent there "going out". Ella seemed to throughly enjoy it.  And I am thankful that she seemed to like the Gutheries sauce even more than I do.  What I really think she loved from it was the dessert though...

The one big thing I wanted to do was take her to my Alma mater.  Driving into the main enterece, spray painted grass and all, was so fun with Ella in the backseat.  We drove the whole campus, weith me pointing out important things that I am sure she will remember.  Once we had done that we got out and walked.  I took her to the library, the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, Vail (freshman dorm), the caf and food court, and library.  We made a stop at my home of two years and where I made to of my closest friends, Orlean.

As any one can tell you, on a trip to Samford, there is one place that you must stop.  Whether you are a prospective student, freshman, it's Christmas time, graduating, returning to see whats changed, you always visit Mr. Beeson!  This is what I was looking forward to the most.  Some day we may look back on this as she is graduating from Samford and think "this is where is all started."

My future Bulldog!  Can't wait until we go back for another visit!

Leaving Ella

To say going on vacation with my husband was tough is an understatement, and I don't mean this to be funny.  Leaving Ella is one of the hardest things I have had to do.  And it wasn't only leaving her, but when we were leaving and the unknown.  

Ryan had two gigs back to back.  One in Alaska and the other in Arizona; two completely different extremes!  He arranged with with the clients for me to be able to tag along.  That all seemed great 10 months out but as time got closer it started to hit me that I was leaving my baby for a whole week.

To make matters worse, we were leaving on election day.  With the turbulence in our country leading up to the election I knew that one outcome of the other was going to ensue some backlash.  This scared me to death.  What if I couldn't get home to my little girl?  What if Atlanta became crazy?  Too many unknowns for me to have peace about leaving.  

As I began sorting through my feelings, I was reminded of when I went to Haiti in 2010.  It wasn't until I go there that Satan was doing a number on me.  All I could think about was what if something happened to Ryan while I was gone.  Reality is, something could have happened to Ryan while I was in Atlanta; I couldn't constantly be there to protect him from everything (that's crazy).  But my heart was overtaking my head.  

That was what was currently happening when it came to leaving Ella.  I prepared as best I could to ensure things would run smoothly and her schedule would be un interrupted.  I prayed, I had 2 small groups praying, and I had a few family members praying that understood where I was coming from.  

Peace came!  That doesn't mean I didn't cry when I put her down for her nap before I left.  But I had peace.  Ultimately, I am not in control and Ella is a gift that I have been given for a short time.  I can't control her circumstances or ours, but simple trust.  We are in God's hands and who better to be in control!  

Leading through Buckhead

This fall we have embarked on new leading opportunities through Buckhead Church.  Together we have grown and used the talents that God has equipped up with.

Together Ryan and I are leading a Thrive Married group.  This is one of the short term groups that our church does.  It goes for 8 weeks and looks at different marriage topics.  For the past 6 weeks we have walked along side of 3 other couples and talked about all things marriage.  It brings great prospective to our marriage and is a great way for us to continue to have open dialogue.  One of the big things that we have said from the beginning is that it gives us a common language; whether it be phrases that are call backs or helps us name specific things that are going on.  As we have led this group, we have been able to give wisdom and suggestions to certain situations.  Not that we have all the answers, but simple that we have taken the time from the beginning to talk through all things marriage so that as things arise we are able to hit them head on.  As Ryan likes to say, "we sweat in peace so we don't bleed in battle."

I have gotten the opportunity to lead an amazing group of recent college graduates.  BC has created a group that allows for recently graduated girls to get into a group with others in similar situations that has a leader that helps navigate the water of being in the real world, ADULTING.  We cover topics such as spiritual group, purpose/identity, finances, dating, and relationship/boundaries.  To say I absolutely love it would be an understatement.  These girls are amazing and we are having so much fun.  I definitely feel old, but love getting to laugh with them each week.  It has also been amazing as I have imparted on them things that I have learned through my 10 years on being out of college.