We decided to take the plunge and become proud owners of our first mini-van. I’ve been thinking that it felt like a really big step for us to become parents to Bradford, but sometimes I still don’t feel like a mom. I look at him and feel like he can’t be mine. In some strange way, getting a mini-van makes me feel marked as a mom, solidified in the role. I’m looking forward to many years with our newest addition.
We have done more traveling in the past 6 months than I think I’ve done ever. I just have to say that I am so proud of little Bradford. I know he’s only 6 months old, and he doesn’t really get it that he’s traveled all over the place, but the little man has just done great. He’s made it possible and so much fun to be able to visit family in Oklahoma, New Orleans, Augusta,Norcross, and soon will go to Nashville. He went without complaining a bit on 2 beach trips with 2 different youth groups in Florida and Alabama. Those both included a lot of teenage girls wanting to hold him and pass him around. He’s traveled to Boca Raton, Fl. and will soon make the trip there with us for his new home. He’s slept in and out of his pack n’ play, crib, different rooms, around different noises, and been held by a lot of different people. He’s adjusted well to new foods, new schedules, and new situations pretty easily. He’s not perfect, but he sure has been a great baby and has been super adaptable. I am just so thankful for him and how much joy he brings us each day.
After 3 good years with our beloved cat, Winifred (Winnie), she has sadly decided to pack her bags and leave us. We believe that she heard we were moving to Florida and she decided that the combination of the 11 hour car ride with Opal Dean and the hot weather once we got there would be too stressful for her. She was slightly overweight, and the magnitude of fur on her body would not lead her to do well in the year-round heat. So, sadly, she is gone. We have had many good memories with Winnie, and only a few bad ones (she did pee on my parents carpet earlier in the year, which they had to replace so was still in a little trouble for that incident). She was our first pet together, so it is sad to see her go. She lived with us in 3 different houses, and was always up for a good snuggle as long as the dogs were not around. We will miss her!
Although a trip like this can be exhausting, it was a really, really good trip. It was pretty bittersweet for Andy and I, because this was the last beach trip we will go one with these kids, and the last time we will spend a lot of time with many of them. Andy still has one more trip with them, but for me, this was goodbye in a way. Since Andy took the job at Westminster 3 years ago, we have spent a lot of time caring for, worrying about, praying for, and loving these kids. We were welcomed in 2007 with a warm prank about every week, including several incidents of rolling our house with toilet paper, waking up to find tampons stuck all over Andy’s car, and a student breaking into our house after he mischeiveously stole and copied one of our keys. The entry wasn’t always easy.
However, we have been impacted in ways that it is hard for me to describe. These kids have been such a huge part of our lives for 3 years now. Because this was Andy’s first job, and we were experiencing so many of our “firsts” together as a married couple, the youth group has helped us learn so many valuable lessons: it has taught us about ministry and God, how to love teenagers, how to better love each other, patience!, what it looks like to serve together in a lot of ways, and created certain desires in us in raising our own family. We are leaving with a sadness and will miss so many of the relationships we have with the kids, their parents, and fellow leaders.
Our theme of the week at the beach was “Once upon a time.” We heard several testimonies of how God had been working and changing different lives. We were challenged ourselves and challenged the kids to truly think about their stories and to reflect on how God had been, was currently, and will in the future, work in them. Now that we are saying our goodbyes and preparing to leave, I am realizing how much this church and youth group truly will be a part of our story. It was an emotional last night, as we reflected on this and said our goodbyes in many ways to these kids (event though we will be around for a few more weeks.) I am looking forward to the move, but also looking back with a sweetness towards this place for what it has taught me.