Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful

I'm sure many of you have been seeing the posts all over Facebook about things that people are thankful for. I haven't been doing that, but it's created this awareness of what I am thankful for. It's helped me foster an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the fact that as Christians we are called to be thankful [in all circumstances], I thought it would be nice to share what I'm thankful for this year!

1. I'm first and foremost thankful for a God who loves me unconditionally despite me failing, in some way, every. single. day.

2. I am thankful for gaining such a wonderful husband this year who loves me so well.

3. I'm thankful that in gaining my awesome husband, I also gained his amazing family. They bless me daily :)

4. I'm thankful for my awesome parents. They have made my life so much easier [and so much more enjoyable]. Always offering love, encouragement, guidance [even when I don't want it but need it :)], and a good laugh.

5. I'm thankful for having four awesome siblings which has multiplied into TEN thanks to their marriages and my own :)

6. I'm thankful for SEVEN beautiful, happy, healthy nieces and nephews [and I look forward to more being added in the future].

7. Sounds silly, but I'm thankful for social media [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, etc.]. I took them for granted living in Virginia with most of my friends and family, but they have proved to be such a blessing in keeping Neal and I connected with friends and family now that we live across the country.

8. I'm thankful we have found a bible-preaching, people-loving church. If you've never looked for a church, let me tell you, it's hard. Thankfully, the Lord has led us to an awesome body of Christ!

9. I'm thankful for grandparents. As I've grown older I have learned to treasure my relationship with them, as well as the wisdom they impart, so much more.

10. I hate change, but I'm thankful for it. Giving up everything I've ever known to move to a place I've never been 8 days after I got married has proved very difficult, but has stretched me and grown me more than I ever could have imagined.

11. I'm thankful that Neal has a job that provides not only for the necessities but also for seemingly frivolous things like last minute plane tickets home to meet and love on our precious niece :)

12. I'm thankful for Cooper [our beagle]. I can't believe it's taken me til #12 to list him! Poor guy. As aggravating as he can be sometimes [whining, barking, howling, needing to be walked in the rain, always chewing on something...], I love him to pieces and I treasure his companionship so much!

There are TONS more things I'm thankful for like the dog park, random packages/letters/cards from home, Target...but I could sit here all. day. long. and list all these things. 

Remember to not only have an "attitude of gratitude" but let the people you're thankful for know that you are, indeed, thankful. Write a card. Make a phone call. Saying "thank you" doesn't have to cost anything but can change someone's day, week, or life. For real. 

"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you, who belong to Christ, to live." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hello, Again!

I've been slacking on this. I apologize!  This last month has seemed to FLY by!

I'm still not working.  I've been looking like crazy and applying for pretty much any job I don't think will make me miserable. I've applied for secretary positions, pre-school teacher and assistant jobs, social work jobs, and Neal's boss even suggested I apply for some jobs on their work site (no worries, that's not happening!).  We're just trusting that the right job will come about at the right time (i.e. God's time).  I'm trying my absolute hardest to trust in the Lord for His provision.  Some days are easier than others. It gets lonely, and quite frankly, boring being a stay-at-home wife a lot of the time. I don't do well just sitting idly.

When we found out we were moving here, so many of you encouraged us to first and foremost seek out a church.  (Thank you! It's awesome advice!) We've gone to several and are beginning to settle into a church here called Silverdale Baptist Church. I've been three times, Neal's been twice (He was out of town, not sleeping in. No worries). This church just seems to suit our needs at the point we're at in our lives.  It's so difficult to find a church that reaches out to twenty-somethings, both  married and single, and this church does an AWESOME job of doing that.  There are so many people there our age.  They also have Life Groups (small groups that meet once a week to discuss that week's sermon with a focus of building relationships) which we intend to join very soon.  We're hoping that this will allow us to really bond with some people at the church. Be praying with us that God will show us exactly where He wants to use us (how He wants us to serve and minister to others).

I also recently discovered a local dog park.  Cooper is in doggy heaven there.  Haha. It's a rather large park and he can just run free for hours on end with 10-20 other dogs.  He LOVES it.  It's important that we're ALL happy while we're out here, Cooper included ;)

I'll let Neal write more about it once he returns...but as a lot of you know, he's been on a hunting trip in Montana with his Dad this week.  He gets back tomorrow night. I'll be glad to have our home 'whole' again.  I've missed him! They went to a place called Dog Creek Outfitters.  I've only had the chance to talk to Neal for about 30 minutes while he's been there (there's NO cell phone service where they're at) but from what he was able to tell me it sounds like they've had a good time! Like I said, I'll let him tell you all the juicy details, but I can tell you that he's had good luck while he's been there...AKA we'll be eating VERY good :)

We're slowly but surely meeting people, but we're realizing how difficult it is to form real relationships with people who share the same values that we do. We miss home but we know, deep down, that the Lord brought us here for a reason.  We want to serve Him in all that we do here. It's really setting in now that we're away from our families and we will be for the next few years...there's no place like home. So, if you've ever wanted to visit Washington, I'd encourage you to NOW ;)  Haha. But really, visitors are WELCOME!

Neal will be posting soon all about his Montana adventures.  We hope this post finds you all well!

Thanks for sharing in all the days of our life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Picture Post!

We all love pictures, don't we? I know I do!  I thought I'd share pictures with you all of some of the things going on with us lately :)

First, here are some shots from when Neal and I were back home in Virginia to meet the lovely Miss Kinslee.

Beautiful girl!
I am in LOVE with this sweet picture of Kinslee and her Uncle Neal :)


I wanted to get a shot of her onesie.. "Pinch Me, I'm Cute"
Napping with Uncle Neal. Love. Love. Love.
Sleeping with Aunt Annie.
WIDE awake. It was PROBABLY time to eat. Haha.
   
Last weekend we went out to Port Gamble...slightly northeast of us. They had a festival called "Old Mill Days." It's an old mill town so they have this festival every year...there are lumberjacks and lumberjack events EVERYWHERE. Pretty cool, though!

The next several photos are all examples of what we saw being made with ONLY chainsaws. Crazy!
 
 
 
And one of us, of course :)
 Last, but certainly not least, here's a shot of our new project! AKA..dresser.  We found this baby for $40.  We'll be making some adjustments to suit our needs and before we know it (hopefully) it will be our new TV stand! Stay tuned for updates on this guy!


Hope you enjoyed our little update.  Now that we're not traveling AND we're not sick you'll be getting more updates on life in Washington :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Catching Up

Hi again! Sorry we've been MIA for a while. We headed back to Virginia in mid-September to meet the most precious addition to the Hogge and Sigmon families!

We were lucky enough to go back to Virginia the week after Kinslee was born. Neal stayed Saturday through Tuesday and I stayed an entire week (thanks to being unemployed I could do that). I loved helping Lauren and Mike as much as possible and of course we both loved loving on our brand new niece!

I was sick alllllll last week and am just now really beginning to feel better. Praise Jesus!

This past weekend we made it out to Port Gamble...slightly north of us...for Old Mill Days. It's a local festival focused on lumberjacks. It was near seeing all the things they could carve with just a chainsaw! Neal and I also found an old dresser that were turning into a TV stand. We scored it for only $40 bucks. YES!

I'll be posting pictures soon of our trip to Virginia as well as Old Mill Days and our new dresser AKA project. Can't wait to share!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kinslee June Sigmon ♥

Big news to announce!  On Saturday, Neal and I were blessed to become an aunt and uncle!  Neal's older sister, Lauren, gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.

Kinslee June Sigmon
09.08.12 | 9lbs. 11oz. | 21 in. | 7:35pm
 

This last photo is extra cool because Samantha, Mike's sister, Kinslee's aunt, is the youngest of six.  There were no more babies after her.  Now, ON HER BIRTHDAY, she gained her first niece! What an awesome birthday gift?! :)
*I stole these pictures from Darryl Sigmon Photography (Kinslee's Grandpa, 'Big Daddy D') via Facebook.  Thanks, Darryl!

So, now, how did we find out? Ha. Funny story.  On Saturday morning, Neal and I got up and decided we were going to drive down to Tacoma and go to Cabela's.  It's about an hour drive from here.  So, we walk into Cabela's (literally, we had taken maybe 10 steps into the store) and get a call and find out Lauren's going to the hospital (or at the hospital...it's kind of a blur.)  I was SUPER excited. So was Neal. But I am apparently a little better at controlling my excitement.  Or better at acting on it, at least.  Neal finds out she's going to the hospital and immediately wants to turn around, get in the car, board Cooper, and get on a plane to Virginia.  He literally walked out of the store and when I was slowly trailing behind him he turns around and he's like, "Annie, what are you doing?! We need to go NOW!"  Haha.  It was so sweet :) I finally stopped him and we agreed that by the time we got to Virginia they'd still be at the hospital and we wouldn't have enough time to spend as Neal only has two days off from work and so we need an entire weekend.  SO, we decide we'd just stay in Washington for a few days. 

This experience has taught us to be SO thankful for technology.  Thanks to text messaging and Skype we were able to be a part of the same experience (minus holding Kinslee) as everyone else.  It was SUCH a blessing. Mike's brother, David, pulled up Skype on his phone and Neal and I got to meet Kinslee and chat with Lauren and Mike (and EVERYONE else.)  It. Was. Awesome.  We were, and still are, SO excited.  We'll be heading to Virginia this Saturday and we are so thrilled.  Goodness.  We can't wait to get to Virginia, meet Kinslee, and help the new parents in any way we can!

Yay for our new niece! God is good :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

High Five for Friday

It's FRIDAY. Yes!  Probably seems silly that I get excited about it being Friday since I'm not working right now.  But, it DOES make a difference.  Since we got here I have spent the majority of my days looking for jobs, doing laundry, cleaning, and taking care of miscellaneous, but necessary, tasks (setting up cable/internet, searching for a bank, looking for a church, and trying to keep our tiny little hotel room clean). Not to mention, Friday means that the weekend is upon us, and weekends mean I get my husband for two entire days :)  Can't beat that!

Anyways, "High Five for Friday."  What?  On Fridays, I plan to post the highlights from mine and Neal's week. Feel free to share what you've been doing during the week also!

1. Neal and I reviewed our budget and we have WAY more money left over each month than we thought we ever would.  God is GOOD.  This means far less pressure on me to find a job immediately. (Although, trust me, I'm still looking!)

2. My Mom sent us a package this week and in that package she enclosed an eastern Virginia staple, OLD BAY. I am SO appreciative of this.  Now we can eat seafood the proper way :)


3. I got bored and decided to go to Joann Etc. (It's like Joann Fabrics and Michael's COMBINED, aka crafting HEAVEN!).  I made these easy peasy headbands for my soon-to-be-born niece, Kinslee :) Won't they look so nice on her precious little newborn head?

4. I drove up to the town just north of us, Poulsbo, to go to the bank. I got a little turned around and had to turn around in a Home Depot parking lot, at the top of a very steep hill.  When I turned around I looked up and had this PERFECT view of Mt. Rainier.  I took this with my phone so it's really faint, but still beautiful.  I love how it was almost 90 degrees where I was and yet the mountain was still snow-capped. GORGEOUS.

5. Since we'll be coming back to Virginia in the next couple of weeks to meet Kinslee, I wanted to take Cooper to the vet to make sure they don't have any weird vaccines he'd need in order to be boarded in a kennel here.  Sure enough, he needed a vaccine. He did awesome at the vet but has been pretty sleepy the rest of the afternoon. Poor guy.

So, this was our, okay, well, MY week.  What have YOU all been up to this week?!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

So, you ask, what have we been up to out here in the great state of Washington?  Well, mostly, trying to enjoy this GORGEOUS weather.  Seriously. I can't seem to get over how beautiful the weather is here this time of year.  It's in the 50's when we get up in the morning, usually gets up to somewhere between 72 and 80 in the afternoon, and then cools down to the 60's in the evenings.  Oh, and did I mention there is NO humidity?!  Coming from Virginia...in the middle of the summer..this is a HUGE deal.  It's just perfect.

Anyways, we were able to fit quite a bit in to this three-day weekend.  Saturday we just kind of hung out.  I was really tired so Neal was sweet enough to let me take a two hour nap in the middle of the afternoon.  That evening we went and had our first home-cooked meal since we've been here. A friend of Neal's from work (and his lovely wife) invited us over to their house to have dinner with them and their adorable two-year-old daughter.  It. Was. So. Delicious. Yummm.  He grilled chicken legs and vegetables.  Let me say it again... It. Was. So. Delicious.  And we couldn't have beat the company.  I'd never met them but they were a lot of fun and seem to have a lot in common with Neal and I.  It's nice to know SOMEONE out here so hopefully we'll be able to get together with them again :)

On Sunday we decided to put Cooper in the truck and we drove up to Sequim.
 
"A" is the Silverdale Beach Hotel where we've been living and "B" is the Olympic Game Farm
 
It's a little more than an hour drive.  But it was TOTALLY worth it.  We visited the Olympic Game Farm.  You can read more about it on their site but they have TONS of animals there. Most of which we'd never seen in person.  Well, except for at a zoo, but this is NOT a zoo.  Trust me.  You know it's not a zoo when you have elk and yaks and various other odd animals sticking their face through your car window.  Here are a few of our favorite pictures :)


Neal feeding a buffalo.

European Fallow Deer.

Yakity Yak. Okay. Just a regular Yak. :)

This guy was VERY friendly. I liked this bear :)

I swear these zebras were trying to hide behind these trees.


Llama!

European Fallow Deer. I have NEVER seen so many deer in my life.



Elk. I love this shot.

Cooper and the baby elk were giving each other some love :)

After we left the Game Farm we were going to head back to Silverdale to find something to do for the evening.  But, instead, we decided to follow the signs to this adorable berry farm.  We ended up at Graymarsh Farm.  We each got a bucket and chose a different type of berry to pick.  I picked blueberries.  Neal picked Loganberries.  Which, in case you don't know (because we didn't and had to look it up while we were picking), Loganberries are a hybrid of raspberries and blackberries.  And let me tell you, that is EXACTLY what they look AND taste like.  They're delicious!  Here are some shots from our berry picking outing.


Pickin' away!


Loganberry bush.


Neal's loganberries he picked.

My blueberries.


This may be my new favorite picture of us :)
And oh yeah, our view while we were in Sequim.....






We didn't take any pictures on Monday, but Monday we went down to Bremerton for the Bremerton Blackberry Festival.  It was fun.  For our Gloucester friends, it was somewhere in between the Guinea Jubilee and the Daffodil Festival.  We ate some of THE best blackberry cobbler we've ever had.  They had any blackberry product you could imagine: Cobbler, pie, jam, jelly, soda, etc. Yum!  


I hope you all were able to have as enjoyable a weekend as we were!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Waiting.

I sit a bit frustrated this morning.  Why?  I don't like to be idle.  I feel like ALL I can do here is to sit idly.  It's quite annoying.  To be honest, I'm feeling useless.  A part of me feels like Neal and I trusted in God to just up and move across the country.  That didn't take any second thoughts or questioning.  But now that I'm here, in WASHINGTON, it makes sense (in my mind, at least) that the logical next step would be for me to get a job. Right? But, clearly, that hasn't happened yet.  I've applied for 10-ish jobs so far.  About half of them have already denied me employment for one reason or another.  Boo.  It's a little discouraging. I can't help but think, "I have AWESOME skills. I did great in my previous job. Who wouldn't want to hire me?" Not conceited at all, right? Ha. So, looks like I need a lesson in humility AND patience.  I just want a job.  I want to be busy. I want to contribute financially.  But, clearly, that isn't what God has for me or our family in this moment.  So, what do I do? That's REALLY what I'm struggling with.  It's not so much the not working.  It's that I feel like I'm not able to contribute.  We're living in a hotel room.  I can't cook.  I can't clean. I can't make a comfortable home for us.  I feel like I just sit all day long.  Doing nothing.  While Neal is out working hard to provide for us.  I'm just struggling with what to do in this time that I am unemployed and am unable to make a home for Neal, Cooper, and I since we're living in a hotel room.  I need to learn to be content with just waiting.  With standing still. Being quiet.  Because, God DOES have a plan. He always has.  This is just me, doubting that or something.  No, not doubting that He has a plan.  Doubting His timing. 

One good thing about all of this extra time is that it gives me a great opportunity to meditate on God's word.  As I was reading this morning I swear EVERY page I turned to had SOMETHING that was perfect for me in this season.  Here are a few:

"The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him."
          -Lamentations 3:24

"It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
          -Lamentations 3:26

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
          -Psalm 27:14

And the scripture that spoke to me most today:
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I put my hope."
          -Psalm 130:5

Isn't it so awesome that we can put hope in His WORD.  We can't do that with people.  You know why?  People's 'word' will fail us.  Daily.  But John 1:1 reminds us that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Whatttt?!  You read that correctly.  The Word was God. Yep. Amazing.  So when Psalm 130:5 says, "in His word I put my hope," it's saying, "in God I put my hope."  And let me tell y'all, that is the ONLY place for our hope to be, in the Lord.

Pray with me as I pray for contentment in the Lord and as I can continue to seek hope in the Lord.  I'll do the same for you :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mr. and Mrs.

Hello, again! I'm now writing as a MARRIED woman :) I couldn't be more
excited. I am absolutely loving everything about married life.

While marriage IS a HUGE change that has recently occurred in mine and
Neal's lives...it's not the only one.

As I shared previously, Neal's company offered him, well, us, the
opportunity to move across the country. Literally. It had been placed on
our hearts to be open to relocation. When we got the offer to move to
Washington we knew it was 100% of God. Within a week's time we had almost
all of the plans made. Part of this plan, though, included me quitting a
job that I loved. In this economy it probably seems dumb to quit a full
time job, especially one you love. But, we had (and have) no doubt that God
has big plans for my career.

Also, in case you forgot, Neal moved to Washington in July. That meant he
would be gone for the entire month before our wedding. Some people were
worried about this. But really, Neal and I weren't. The only time it got
really difficult was about week before the wedding. I was trying to pull
together last minute details of the apartments top of preparing not one
but TWO apartments for our big move. It was hectic and I was missing
Neal. But, just when I started to get weary, my best friend came into
town! Yes! God. Is. Good. She was just what I needed.  She made me
laugh and was just the right amount of help :) (Thanks, Rach!)

Then, before I knew it, our wedding day was finally here! Saturday,
August 18, 2012. It was supposed to storm all. day. long. One of my
bridesmaids went with me Saturday morning to get our hair done.  The
sky was black the WHOLE time. I was a bit nervous. It wasn't until I
was getting ready to walk down the aisle with my Dad that I realized
the sun was shining and there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. God
truly blessed that day. It was perfect. Not 100% traditional, but 100%
us. And that's all we wanted. Our friends, family, and parents put in
SO much work to make our wedding day exactly what we wanted. It
overwhelms me how awesome the people in our lives are. Really. We
couldn't have asked for more!

So...what are we doing ten days later? Well, I write this from our
hotel room in Silverdale, WA! We made it to the west coast :) We are
thrilled to begin our marriage out here and to experience all that God
has in store for us here. Continue reading as we share our west coast
adventures!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

West Coast Bound!

Today is the day! Neal left for Bangor, WA first thing this morning.  He starts work out there tomorrow.  This has been such a fast-paced change but we are so excited about this opportunity!

A few weeks ago, June 19 to be exact, Neal emailed me and said, "Holy crap.  I just got asked by [my boss] if I would be open to going to the explosives handling wharf job.  It’s another Navy job, but it’s in Seattle….We can talk about it."  I think he expected me to be very sceptic of just up and moving across the country.  But what did I say?  I responded with, "WHAT?!  I'd totally go." And so, we're going!  This is 100% a God orchestrated event.  A week before Neal emailed me I had been at work and had some time on my hands so I wrote Neal this letter about a few things that had been on my heart.  The focus of the letter was about how God was preparing me for something.  I told him I wasn't sure what but that I felt we were being led to move somewhere.  I had NO idea where that meant God was leading us, but I knew God was working and I just wanted to let Him do whatever He was going to do.  I then decided that there was NO way we'd be moving anywhere anytime soon.  Neal had just been put in the home office and he'd been told he'd be there for a while.  So, what did I do?  I didn't give him the letter.  Silly little me thought that if I couldn't see the pieces of God's plan coming together RIGHT that moment then that meant we were going to be staying in Virginia.  How wrong was I?!  I about fell out when I got that email from Neal.  I couldn't believe it. 

Neal and I both feel SO at peace about this decision.  It's crazy.  Really.  The majority of people we've told have been so incredibly supportive and we've been so blessed.  There have been those few people who say, "Well, what if this 3 year project turns into a 5 year project?" "What if you regret it?"  "What about the stuff in Virginia you'll be missing?"  Honestly, we're just trusting 100% that God will take care of us.  We are so excited about all of the people we will meet and places we will go.  God is going to do something awesome.  SO awesome.

Neal will be in Washington from today on.  He'll be coming home for a weekend trip in August and then he'll be here for about 10 days for the wedding and the official move.  I'll be going out to Washington in a couple of weeks.  My first time to the west coast!  And Neal's first time is today! :)

Please pray with us that we will follow God through this journey and that He will use us to accomplish His will.

Thank you all for sharing in all the days of our life!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quickly Approaching!

Just this past weekend, yesterday as a matter of fact, my wonderful beautiful bridesmaids had a bridal shower for me.  It was so beautiful and organized and perfect.  Seriously, I couldn't have planned a more perfect shower if I would have done it myself.  I was surrounded by people that I love and we were able to eat lots of sweets and just enjoy each other's company. I am so blessed.  My best friend, Rachel, one of my bridesmaids, was even able to be here despite currently living in Oklahoma. Neal and I received some beautiful gifts from some beautiful people :)  Thank you notes will be going out promptly!

Wedding plans just seem to be falling into place perfectly.  My aunt, who is altering my dress and doing all of my flowers is amazing and after just talking to her on the phone about everything, I already know how gorgeous all of the arrangements will be.  Again, I am so blessed.  She lives in South Carolina so meeting face to face is a little difficult with me being in Virginia and all. She's bringing my dress back, with alterations done, next weekend and then the weekend after that I'm doing...BRIDAL PORTRAITS.  I'm excited to get my dress back on and feel really bridey.  Yep, just made that word up :) 

Neal and I have made a to-do list of what needs to get done before the wedding and while it just seems to keep growing and growing it's really not that long, believe it or not!  It's just all the small details that we have to work on from here on out.  Gifts for everyone...that kind of thing. 

In other news, my sister-in-law, Lauren, invited all of us to go to a 4D ultrasound with her and her husband on Friday.  It was SO neat!  I am so stinking excited for this precious little girl to be here in a few months.  She is going to be so spoiled, but mostly, she will be so LOVED.  Goodness.  I already love her to pieces!  I'm really excited to be throwing Lauren a shower next month :)  It's taking my mind off of wedding stuff and I'm just so excited to celebrate Lauren and this beautiful child. 

Goodness gracious.  Life is just filled with so many wonderful things right now!  God is so good and I am so blessed.

Thanks for sharing in all the days of our life!

P.S. Only 75 days until the wedding!  But...really..who's counting? :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Preparing for Marriage

Get this...in 2009 18.9% of men and women in the United States were divorced.  That's 2,318,615 people! WHAT?!  Ridiculous, right?  I really can't even wrap my mind around that number.  I can't explain why so many people get divorced...but I would be willing to bet money that if more people prepared for the marriage as opposed to the wedding they would be in a much better place in their marriage.  And maybe there wouldn't be so many divorces.  Just maybe.

In saying this, Neal and I are in the midst of this awesome book.  Neal's Uncle Billy is our pastor and will be officiating our ceremony in August.  He is doing pre-marital counseling with us as he does with all couples that he marries.  The book is "Preparing for Marriage," by Dennis Rainey.  Getting married?  Thinking about getting married?  Read it. 



Neal and I are really open about everything and we talk about everything.  In saying that, this book touches on every detail about marriage that you could possibly think of.  It touches on several things we hadn't talked about.  Like, where will spend the holidays? And, who will do the grocery shopping?  And, who will clean the bathrooms and keep up the maintenance on the cars? And that's just the surface stuff.  It also digs into your spiritual beliefs, family backgrounds, opinions on child rearing, financial goals, etc. 

The book is meant to provoke thought about these topics as well as lots of discussion.  It does just that.  I think it's perfect for marriage preparation.  If you're looking for a wedding preparation book...you're out of luck.  But, remember that the wedding is really a symbol of the marriage to follow!

Thanks for sharing in all the days of our life!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thankful

I mentioned that things have been pretty busy here recently.  Well, there's no sign of things slowing down anytime soon.  But, amidst all of this chaos I have found myself just really being thankful.  Not for the things I have, but for the people.  My fiance, my parents, the in-laws I'm gaining (siblings and parents), my friends, and mostly...my God for bringing all of these people into my life.

So..Sunday Neal and I signed a lease on a house that we LOVED.  It was perfect. It was the right size, the right price, the right location.  But...some things came up and we just couldn't make it work.  A LOT of unexpected expenses came up so we called the landlords and nullified the lease just four days after we had signed it.  In the midst of all of this my parents were a saving grace.  They were willing to do anything, and I mean anything, we needed them to do for us to get out of this lease.  Luckily the landlords decided to allow us to get out of the lease fee-free.  Amazing, right?  That's a God thing right there.

I've also become more and more thankful for my in-laws.  My mother-in-law hooked me up with this awesome babysitting job just 10 minutes from my apartment.  The baby is stinkin' adorable and the parents are just the sweetest people on Earth.  I love kids and while I work in a high school I miss the days when I taught pre-school and got to hug on babies and toddlers all day.  It's nice to spend some time with a cuddly 8-month old once a week :)  I've also grown close to my sister-in-law.  We've always been good friends but that's only increased as I've dated her brother.  Now that she's pregnant and I'm getting married we get to share in each other's journeys and it is so so great.  She's awesome and she and her husband are such an awesome example for Neal and I!

Some things have happened around me recently that have really made my grow even more appreciative of my fiance.  He lets me vent after nonsense has happened all day at work.  He comes over and cooks dinner for me when I'm just completely burnt out.  (He even does the dishes!).  He encourages me in SO many ways.  He loves me.  He prays for me.  And recently, the thing that has really stood out to me, is that he shares scripture with me daily.  He gets to work MUCH earlier than I do so he emails me and I get it when I come into work. He'll email me a passage that he's read so that I can read it too.  And vice versa.  It's so lovely.  I'm just so thankful to be marrying a man who digs into God's word and doesn't just keep it to himself but shares it with me.  It's just such an incredible blessing!

Take a few moments today, or this weekend, and think about who you are thankful for. Then...go tell them! :)

Thanks for sharing in all the days of our life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Busy Busy Busy!

Things have been super busy around here lately!  I thought I'd pop in and let you all know what is making us so busy recently.

Neal and I have been on the hunt for a place to live once we get married.  Neal's current apartment is way out of the way..in a lovely area....but way out of the way.  So we have been looking and looking and looking for a place that is central to both of our jobs and fairly close to both of our parents.  Lucky for us our parents live less than 10 minutes from each other so they are in a central location. As far as our jobs...Neal and I work about 30 minutes apart.  This posed a slight challenge.  Who gets the longer commute?  Do we live closer to Neals' job or mine?  How do we decide?  Well...we looked and looked and looked.  And we prayed and prayer and prayed.  Then, my wonderful father sent me a website for Military by Owner.  This website caters to military communities.  This was perfect for us. While we are not in the military we definitely live in a military community.  We happened to find this adorable little house on the site.  We decided to drive by it one evening and loved it even more in person.  We called the owners and we were able to look at the house THAT night!  We fell in love with it.  And luckily, the owners got a good vibe from us..and....lucky us...we signed the lease yesterday! YAY! :)  It's within our budget.  Has two bedrooms plus an office.  Has one and a half bathrooms.  Has a fenced in backyard and dog door for Cooper.  Has a laundry room.  And has PLENTY of storage.  We. Love. This. House.  We happen to love it so much we asked about a rent-to-own deal.  They're totally open to it and so that may be a possibility further down the road.  The only thing it's missing is a dishwasher.  I HATE doing dishes.  But, lucky for me, Neal knows that and has offered to do the dishes the majority of the time.  YAY!  Let me say it again. YAY!  We are so excited about this little house.  God is good.  That has been made VERY clear to us through this whole process.  God is good ALL the time!

ALSO, more exciting news!  My soon-to-be-sister-in-law, Lauren, is pregnant.  I've already told you all that.  I couldn't be more thrilled for her and her husband, Mike.  They deserve this and God is blessing them and everyone around them through this child already.  They are going to be such amazing parents.  Seriously.  Anyone who even slightly knows them knows how awesome they're going to be.  Again, God is good!  Why am I so excited about this RIGHT NOW though??  Lauren and Mike go this week to get an ultrasound.  I know...she's pregnant...of course she's getting an ultrasound.  Right?  Right.  BUT...this is an extra special ultrasound because they are finding out the sex of the baby this week!!! YAY! :)  I canNOT wait!!  We're all getting together next weekend, after Lauren and Mike find out and have a little time to enjoy the news, to hear the big announcement.  This child is going to be so spoiled.  And so loved.  Seriously. Just between Lauren and Mike's immediate families there are eleven aunts, uncles, and grandparents who will love this baby to pieces.  Goodness gracious.  I just could not be more excited for Lauren and Mike to find out more about this beautiful child of God.  I also can't wait to celebrate the news with them later this week! God is good.  All the time.

I'll share more about the house as we start painting, decorating, and moving over the next few months :)  And...of course I'll share the news about the baby when I find out!  Thank you for sharing in all the days of our life.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wedding Plans!

Neal and I are deep in the midst of wedding planning.  There are roughly four months left before the big day.  Exactly 128 days left from today.  So...what's going on, you ask?  LOTS!  First of all, let me say that I swear this has been WAY easier than everyone told me it would be.  I attribute that to two things: 1.) A fiance who actually wants to be involved and cares about the decisions made, and 2.) The fact that Neal and I rarely discuss wedding plans if we're not ready to make a decision.  We're really good at making decisions.  We're decisive.  I love this about us. LOVE IT.

Now...where are we with the plans?  We've made decisions on all of the big things.  We'll be getting married at Severn Church.  Neal's Uncle Billy, the pastor at Severn and our youth pastor as we were growing up, will be officiating the ceremony.  He's also leading us through our pre-marital counseling. I'll share more about our pre-marital counseling in a later post because IT.IS.AWESOME.  You can check out Severn Church here.  They also have a Facebook page, you can find that here. It's a wonderful church and we're blessed to be members here!  It's the perfect church for us to get married in.  My Dad wrote a song about Severn, he describes it as "the little white church down in Severn."  That's exactly what it is.  A little white church in Severn.  Perfect for us!

Next, reception.  Our reception will be held at Ware River Yacht Club; it can be found here.  We looked and looked and looked for a reception venue.  It felt that way at least.  Then, we set WRYC aside as our last resort because it's close enough to the church and it's cheap.  Well, we chose it!  After we looked and looked, we went back and visited WRYC and Neal and I both just fell in love with it.  One wall of the building is strictly windows....looking out over the Ware River.  It's beautiful!

You can go to our wedding website and check out who is in our wedding party...if you're curious :)

Wondering what our wedding colors are?  Here they are!  Well, these are our "main" colors.  We're using TONS of different shades of these colors.





I have allowed my bridesmaids to choose their own dresses.  I gave them a guideline of color with a paint chip I picked up from Home Depot.  I also requested it not be floor length and not have a pattern, just a solid color.  They were all thrilled to choose their own dress and while it has been a challenge I'm SO excited to see what each of my bridesmaids choose! :)

Speaking of dresses...check out these ADORABLE dresses I chose for my two flower girls to wear.  The flower girls will be my two nieces, Emmie and Taylor.  They're already adorable as it is.  In these dresses, it will be unbearable cuteness! :)



This is getting REALLY lengthy so I'll share more later.  We're getting down to the nitty gritty details at this point...this is where all the fun begins in my opinion :)

Thanks for sharing in all the days of our life!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Did We Meet?

Now that you all know a little bit about who we are....I wanted to give you all some insight about how we met.  Just a disclaimer, I LOVE telling stories about how we met so this may get a little lengthy :)

This story begins in 1997.  Neal and I were both in the third grade.  We went to two separate elementary schools.  We lived in the same county but lived at two separate ends of the county.  So...how did we meet?  My parents were looking for a new church.  My older sister, Kati, and I were friends with two sisters who went to a church...Neal's church.  They invited us to church and Kati and I went with them several times. Finally, my parents saw how much we loved this church and thought that this might be "our" church.  So...at the end of my third grade year my parents started attending this church also.  We fell in love with the people at this church.  There was a group of kids, five to ten of us on any given Sunday, who were all the same age and we clung together very tightly.  Of course, Neal and I were both kids in this group :)  

Neal's family was VERY involved in this church.  His grandparents had attended this church for the majority of their married life.  His Mom had played the piano at the church since she was 17, led the youth choir, led the children's ministry, helped with the youth, and about a million other things that would take up this entire blog (she's THAT awesome!).  His Dad sang in the choir and taught Sunday School.  His Uncle was the youth pastor.  And the rest of his family all attended the church and was active in a variety of ways. 

My family started to become very involved also.  My sister was in the youth group at this point.  My Dad helped teach an adult Sunday School class and ran the van ministry.  And my Mom taught the two-year old Sunday School class.  This began to feel like home to us.

As Neal and I continued to grow up in the church we also grew closer.  Neal grew to have a little crush on me and would ask me out every so often.  I always said no. Poor guy.  Haha.  The youth group at our church began when a person entered seventh grade, so after knowing each other a few years we'd grown pretty close and we entered the youth group eagerly together.  Our youth group was VERY active; we had activities at least four out of seven days of the week and Neal and I both attended almost all of them.  This led to us spending A LOT of time together.

Neal continued to ask me to be his girlfriend.  I kept saying no.  Well, with the exception of one time.  We were in eighth grade.  I finally agreed to "go out" with him. I was his girlfriend.  Now, keep in mind, we didn't live near other, we didn't go to school together, the ONLY time we saw each other was at church.  I don't even recall talking to him on the phone.  So...this lasted for about two months and then I decided I wasn't really feeling it.  So, poor guy, I broke up with him.  

Side note!  When Neal and I dated in the eighth grade he gave me this card for Valentine's Day.  It was one of those homemade on the computer cards.  On the outside it said, "Some people prefer roses...."  On the inside it said, "I prefer tu-lips."  Hahaha.  So cute, right?  He didn't get a kiss. Despite his desperate attempt.  I was a cruel girlfriend, huh? :)

Anyways, so we entered high school.  This is where things really changed.  Neal, being a teenage boy, was VERY interested in girls.  I, on the other hand, could have cared less if I had a boyfriend, and quite honestly, I didn't want one.  It just seemed like too much drama and stress.  No, thanks!  In high school Neal was what I referred to as a "serial dater."  He went from one girlfriend to another.  But, really, he just dated the same girls over and over. 

This is where things get kind of complicated.  Though I turned Neal down over and over, it wasn't because I didn't "like" him.  I did.  I thought he was cute and he was funny and we always had SUCH a good time together.  But I just wasn't ready for a boyfriend.  I wanted to be ready and I wanted it to be right.  Also, my best friend moved here our ninth grade year and pretty much immediately fell in love with Neal.  Now, what kind of friend would I be if I just stepped in and dated him.  Not a good one, that's for sure.  So, I didn't.  Well, we were now in tenth grade.  My best friend, Rachel, now had a boyfriend. I thought maybe this was my chance.  Neal was single.  I was single.  One night we went on a double date with my best friend and her boyfriend.  Guess what happened that night?  My first kiss!  Yes, people, Neal was my first kiss and he will be my last kiss too :)  So stinkin sweet, right?  I love it.  Well..we hung out for a while and were "talking" but after all was said and done we just agreed that the timing wasn't right. 

As high school continued Neal and I grew closer and closer.  When he had a girlfriend I didn't see much of him but as soon as he was single again we were the best of friends.  Well, let me rephrase that.  We were never NOT best friends.  We just didn't talk everyday like we did when Neal was single. 

We were heading toward college now.  My parents had agreed to pay for all of my tuition and fees, anything beyond that (books, meal plan, dorm) was on me.  I didn't want to graduate from college with thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loan debt so I decided to live at home, work part time, and attend a local university, Christopher Newport University.  Neal decided to attend Old Dominion University, about 40 minutes from my parents' house.  The funny thing about this is that we both only applied to one college.  There was no possibility of either of us to go away to school.  We both stayed local. Usually, when people go off to college they lose touch with most of their friends from high school.  Neal and I were an exception to this. We talked probably four or five days out of the week.  We talked on the phone, we i.m.'d, we Facebook-ed each other.  We just really enjoyed each other's company. 

Well, during college Neal was actually single. What?!  For those of you who know him you know that this is a shocker.  Haha.  This was the best thing he could do for himself, to stop dating.  I was thrilled that he was single.  We began to hang out with each other, one-on-one.  This never used to happen, well, rarely.  We usually hung out with a group of people. 

So..how did we start dating, you ask?

It was the summer between our sophomore and junior years in college.  One of my good friends was leaving for a mission trip to Brazil.  I went with his family to take him to the airport....in Norfolk...where Neal goes to school and was living that summer.  Well, lo and behold. We got lost.  So, who do I call?  NEAL!  He just happened to be within like 2 blocks of where we were. He told us to meet him at this Church's Chicken and we could follow him home.  So, I jumped out of the van I was in and jumped into Neal's truck with him.  We were stuck in traffic for almost 2 hours.  We talked the WHOLE time.  He was on his way back to Gloucester.  For what?  To go on a date.  Ha.  So, he dropped me off at my house and told me he'd call me after his date.  I SERIOUSLY doubted he would actually do this.  Another one of my friends had come over to hang out with me.  Then, much to my surprise, Neal called me at like 11 o'clock at night and told me his date went terribly and wanted to know if he could come over and talk.  I said yes.

Neal came over, my friend left, and we just sat up for HOURS talking and watching movies.  After a while, Neal leaned in and kissed me.  WHAT?!  I hadn't kissed him since the tenth grade.  I knew something bigger was happening here.  It freaked me out. Scared me.  But excited me to no end.  A few weeks of this went by.  We continued to hang out and talk and he took me on a few more dates.  One night I drove all the way to Virginia Beach, after work, just to meet him for dinner.  I was crazy.  Haha.  Now, usually it's the girl who asks this question, but I will never forget, one night after hanging out Neal drove me home.  We were in the driveway and he said, "So, Annie, what are we?  Are we dating?  Are you my girlfriend?"  I said, "Um, yeah, I think so."  And so Neal+Annie began!!  Hahaha.

Thanks for reading all of this...assuming you actually made it to this point :)  Next, I will share with you all how we dated and ended up engaged.  I also LOVE this story so it'll probably be another long one.  You have been warned :)

Thanks for sharing in all the days of our life!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nice to meet you

Well, yesterday I kind of introduced our blog....today I want to introduce us!  I'll post more later about how we met, how we started dating, and our engagement story :)  I love to tell those stories so I hope you love to listen.  If you'd like to go ahead and read some about that portion of our lives/relationship, you can read about it on our wedding website. But, first things first.  Let me tell you who we are. 

First, I, Annie, will be doing most of the blogging.  But, since this is also about my fiance, I figured you should know a little bit about him too :)

So, I'm Annie. Hi!  I'm 22...I'll be 23 a week from today. Woo hoo! I am the youngest child of five.  I love being the baby :)  I'm a daddy's girl.  100%  None of my siblings, nor my parents, would deny this.  I just graduated from college, Christopher Newport University, last May.  Hard to believe it's almost been a year already!  I studied social work and I love it!!  If you're studying psychology but want to do counseling or something similar, STOP what you are doing, go see your advisor, and switch your major to social work.  It's THAT good.  Yep.  I've always had a heart for teenagers and social work gave me a way to turn that passion into a career.  As a matter of fact, I got a job straight out of college thanks to my internship I did my senior year in college.  I now work as a behavioral counselor in a local high school.  I don't make a ton of money but I make enough and I LOVE the students who I work with.  They stress me out to no end some days but the days that they make me laugh until I cry totally make up for the stressful days :)  I got engaged in December to my best friend and we're currently in the midst of wedding planning.  The big day is August 18, 2012.  142 days to go!  Woo!  I can't believe I almost forgot this next part...my wonderful fiance knows that I have wanted a beagle for QUITE some time now.  So, what did he do?  He found a beagle puppy, drove me to North Carolina, and now I have an adorable fourth month old beagle, Cooper!  I'll post pictures later. I'm sure you'll grow to love him just as much as I do.  His floppy ears are hard to resist.

Now...on to my fiance.  His name is Neal, N-E-A-L.  Not N-I-E-L or N-E-I-L. Or any other crazy spellings. N-E-A-L.  He's also 22.  He'll be 23 in June.  He's a few months behind me.  Haha.  He decided he needed an extra semester of college so he just graduated in December 2011.  He also was very blessed and was offered a full-time position straight out of college by the company he interned with all through college. His degree is in civil engineering (VERY complicated stuff.  Bleh.) and he works as a field engineer.  He loves being outside in the field and the company he works for is AWESOME.  It's also awesome that his pay check is much larger than mine :)  He's the baby of his family too. Except instead of five kids, there are only two of them.  He has an older sister, whom I adore :)  She is Ah-May-Zing!  His whole family is as a matter of fact!  Neal grew up with all of his family living within like 2 miles of each other....and most of them STILL live that close...so it's nice to be able to see all of his family together pretty often. 

I saved the best for last.  Neal and I are both lovers of Jesus.  God is good.  All the time.  We believe that whole heartedly.  Our lives, and our upcoming marriage, are centered on God, and without him we would 100% not be where we are today.  We were both blessed to be raised in Christian households with loving parents and siblings.  We are striving to create a marriage based on the truths found in God's Word which will result in us creating a Christian household for our own family just like the homes we were brought up in.

I hope this gives you all some insight into who we are and where we're coming from.  Feel free to ask any questions you'd like to know.  We look forward to sharing our lives with you!