Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas TwentyTen

"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool." Isaiah 1:18

It's only fitting that the day after celebrating the birth of our lord and savior, JESUS, we are reminded of the reason for his coming. To die for our sins on the cross. Yours and mine. To clean our slate and forgive us of our sins. A beautiful reminder.
Thankful for the ultimate sacrifice.
Forever thankful my sins are white as snow.

All in one nights sleep we went from zero snow to 6 inches or so. Talk about white Christmas!
Our dogs love the snow. Well, let me rephrase that...Leo has SO MUCH hair/fur that he loves anything that doesn't make him feel he's in the oven. Which is freezing conditions. And Mia thinks that a snowball is ice...which is one of her FAVORITE treats. Easy to please! Scott and I woke up and joined them outside, which added to their excitement.
I cannot say it enough, it is stunning.
Here are a few pictures taken from our backyard.

he is sooooo good looking

leo's heaven

oh mia

snow covered trees are stunning

eating the snow. they don't understand that its the same thing right under their feet....dogs!
the back of our house...headed inside

last year with our fake christmas tree. next year comes the tradition of getting a real one...can't wait!

christmas eve pajamas!

opening my pj's
ugly sweater party with our small group

senior staff xmas party at the theater

cheering for the UofA at NC State...AZ WON!
We had a great Christmas season. Blessed beyond measure to be surround by WONDERFUL friends and our new North Carolina "family" :). Our hearts are warmed at the thought of our "real"  California families being together, laughing and enjoying each others company, hopefully talking about us (wink). Excited to see what next Christmas will bring with our sweet Tennley, something we are still having a hard time grasping the reality of, but so ready for her to be here with us :) ...More than ALL of this we are thankful for the true meaning of this season. God sending his ONLY son to the world. As a humble baby. BUT, THE KING OF KINGS! The baby who was sent to die on a cross, to bridge the great divide. WOW. Thankful. What a gift.

Merry Christmas Friends and Family. With each day that comes, I am more and more grateful for the people that surround us, support us, love us and encourage us.
God has blessed us with the people that fill our lives. 
Thank you for being those people.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Pregnancy as I know it - 22 weeks

Alright, I know! I've been awful about blogging, especially about pregnancy. 
But let me catch you up...

My first trimester was typical for most, but totally unexpected for me! My mom always said how she had NO CLUE that she was pregnant. She never had symptoms and definitely didn't have sickness. My mom and I are a lot alike when it comes to being sick or lack-thereof. I just assumed I'd be the same way... :) Oh good lordy, I was WRONG! I got sick as a dog. Luckily I didn't throw up as much as some of my dear friends, but I was sick all. day. long! I had aversions to almost all foods. I literally ate PB&J, Cereal, Mac and cheese and the occasional chicken noodle soup. Oh and chocolate...unfortunately. It was a rough few months, especially since I never get sick and am not used to being down like that. 

THANK THE LORD for Scott. He was a saint. Often times I wondered how long he was going to stick around, lol. HE DID EVERYTHING! He cleaned, he worked, he made me food at the drop of a dime, he held my hair and rubbed my back while at the toilet (something he SWORE he could NEVER do), he encouraged me when I'd break down (not my norm). He was/is wonderful. I experienced his ability to serve at a whole NEW LEVEL. I've always known that he has a servants heart, but this was hard and he STILL did it. ALL. I love him more today because of those few months...not sure he can say the same about me :)

October 15th I entered into my 2nd Trimester...and heavens light shown upon me!...or at least it felt that way. I started to feel a MILLION times better. Praise the LORD! The past two months have been a breeze. Makes me look back at the 1st Trimester and realize how miserable I really was..YUCKO! 

I have grown quite a bit. I AM growing. Tennley is growing. All wonderful things...a bit scary at times if one watches the scale. YIKES! At 17.5 weeks we were able to see Tennley for the second time. The first time she looked like a peanut. This time, she looked like a baby. It was awe-inspiring. Amazing. God is a master artist. She is perfect. Before this appointment, Scott was convinced she was a HE. However, when he saw her on the screen (unable to see ANY part male or female) he says he knew deep down we were having a girl. I like that story. I digress. As stated in Scott's blog, she was active! At the time we attributed it to the caffeine I had beforehand (tisk, tisk). She danced across that screen. She was a sight!

Since then she has continued to develop and has not given up her dance MOVES Although she isn't very strong, I feel her kicks quite often. It's like magic. The neatest feeling ever! I cannot wait till she is strong enough for Scott to feel her from the outside.

I don't crave crazy things at all. I still have aversions to rich foods, some of which were my favorite things to eat pre-pregnancy. I prefer to eat at home...apparently my cooking is safe and bland enough for my liking :) I LOVE oranges. I eat about one a day sometimes two. That's it. Oh....wait....and sweets. Which are and will forever be a weakness for me. Pregnant or not pregnant. Those are my pregnancy eating weirdnesses thus far.

Sleeping is becoming less fulfilling. I toss. I turn. I use pillows. I don't use pillows. I have pee :) It could be and WILL get worse. I am aware of this. My back has begun to ache. And I have about two outfits that currently fit, both of which are preggo clothes. By no means am I complaining, just say'n! All part of the process, each stage very exciting.

Grandma and Grandpa Higley bought Tennley her crib. It is beautiful. It should be delivered within the about reality check! So excited to get it in. 

We had our monthly appointment this past Wednesday. We don't get to see her via ultrasound until 28 weeks or so, so this appointment was just listening to her heartbeat. Still very cool. Once the doctor was able to catch her (again, she was moving ALL over the place) she confirmed that she is healthy and her heartbeat is right on! God is good.

Today Tennley is 22 weeks. She is compared to a spaghetti squash this week...I am pretty sure that is JUST for length comparisons.

I get emails each week updating me on Tennley's growth. Below is the email for this week...

Your Baby in Week 22 of Pregnancy
This week, your baby weighs in at a whopping pound and measures nearly eight inches, about the size of a small doll. But your little doll (who now has eyebrows, eyelashes, and maybe even some hair on that little head) is a living one who can now perceive light and dark. She can also hear your voice, your heartbeat, your gurgling stomach, and the whoosh-whoosh of blood circulating through your body. And as her brain and nerve endings develop, she may reach for her face (or whatever she can reach) just to experiment with her newfound sense of touch. 

I am continually thankful and humbled by this little life that has been entrusted to us. I am constantly reminded of her whereabouts in my tummy, and for that, I am blessed. She becomes more and more of a reality with each passing day. Ready or not here she comes :)

Thanks for reading...and stay tuned!

 5 weeks
 12 Weeks
 20 weeks

a WONDERFUL surprise!

Often times I think the older sister gets gypped! Yea, I typed correctly. My sister has this ability to throw thoughtful bridal showers, bachelorette parties and a FABULOUS surprise baby shower. I can't say that I've lived up to the example set forth (sorry des!) Someday, I hope to return the favor. I blame my lack-thereof on my adolescents ;)

During our visit to Sacramento there was an evening set aside to have dinner with both sides of our family. Out -to-eat sort of thing. The plan was to meet at Arcade church which was the "half-way point" for all family members. We arrived around 6pm-ish and Phil suggested we go wait inside where is was warm (geez, Sac was cold that week!) As we walked into the room we were greeted by about 50+ of our closest family and friends in the NOR-CAL area. WHAT. A. BLESSING.

My Sister, My Mom and Marie planned a surprise baby shower for Tennley, Scott and I. It was Beautiful. Fun. Overwhelming. Heart Warming. Generous. And PERFECT in every way! Tennley got 6 pairs of shoes(!), some ADORABLE outfits, beautiful blankets, her first baby doll and a diaper bag! ...not to mention gift cards that will go a LONG way. Showered with love and gifts.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, DES, Mom and Marie. It truly meant the world to all three of us. So special to have been able to share this time with YOU and all wonderful people in Sacramento. What an incredible blessing!
 The cupcakes were FABULOUS
 Beautifully done Des, You have a gift!
 Thanks for all the YUMMY treats Mom & Dad!
 So Blessed!
Scott's best friends growing up...minus Brooke.
 Put me down auntie...

 Brody doing his thing...eating!
 Eli helping dad clean...
 Eli changing the trash...without being asked OR prompted to. 
He's a HOOT!
Wonderful wonderful friends and family who are always supporting us!
Thank you to all who came and were apart of our shower! 


Scott and I realized we aren't quite sure when the last time we spent Thanksgiving with family was...possibly the beginning of our college careers? 6-7 years ago. Not sure! Nonetheless, it's been a while.

The time spent in Sacramento was precious. HIGHLIGHTS: OUR NEPHEWS! Eli and Brody are both at ages where they do ALL the entertaining. And entertaining it is! Both such different personalities, but there personalities play off of each other SO well. Dynamic Duo.

Thanksgiving day consisted of waking up to the scrumptious smell of Joni's homemade cinnamon rolls. Megan, Drew and Brody coming over to watch the Macy's Day Parade (this is a MUST on thanksgiving day, such a fun tradition I grew up with that I still LOVE <3) After the parade, or close to the end, Scott and I drove to my parents house to help cook the Thanksgiving meal that both sides of our family would be apart of. I made the sweet potato souffle...and ate LOTS of crab lorenz (a Grandma Joanie tradition, i sure do miss her). A few games of cards, munching here and there and before we knew the whole gang was there ready to chow down!

Having all the people, that help make our worlds turn, in one place at one always magical. I cherish these moments captured. Thankful for our families. Blessed by the time we were able to come out (Thanks Phil!) LOVE YOU ALL. Until next time

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the verdict is in

Pregnancy is hard...and I'm not even the one who's carrying a baby.

Ashley and I just realized that we (she) hasn't even blogged about being pregnant yet. Oh well. Read a book about someone elses pregnancy.

Last night, I drove with Ashley to go to one of her pitching lessons. I don't usually go, but we had business to cover. We HAD to nail down the names of this baby. So that's what we did. We talked, we dreamed and reminisced about important people in our lives who we would name our child after.

The names were set. We arrived at her lesson which was at an indoor pitching facility...and by that, I mean old warehouse. There was a dirty mattress in the corner of this warehouse...and self-storage spaces. I tried to imagine how many people could have been held hostage and tortured as Ashley critiqued her pitcher. I imagine at least 9...hopefully, less are actually there, though.


This morning was our big day! Our morning started at 8am as we drove over to grab some McDonald's. I take any chance I get to go to McDonald's...I love that place. It was Ashley's suggestion. She was craving it...she never wants McDonald's. I love pregnancy cravings.

So we grabbed our food and sat down in the booth. We had heard that drinking a little bit of caffeine before the ultrasound would help with baby movement. Ashley has steered clear of caffeine during the pregnancy, so her medium Dr. Pepper hit the spot.

We drove over to the ObGyn and waited. The lady behind the desk was both the oldest and slowest woman ever. Nothing wrong about that. Good for her, a working independent woman, but we were in a I was irritated.

Finally--the nurse called us back and walked us to a room...Her name was Amy. Amy turned the machines on and we were in business. I sat down next to Ashley and watched our child flash onto the flat screen television in front of us. Incredible.

It looked like a human.

It looked like a baby.

It looked like our baby.

And holy cow...this kid was bouncing all over the place! (The caffeine might have been a little much. Possible caffeine overdose.)

But serious somersaults, flips and turns were happening in front of our eyes...everything. Literally, all over the place. With legs closed.

We saw the face.

We saw the hands.

We saw both feet...5 toes each!

We saw a healthy beating heart.

We saw everything that made up our child. Well, almost everything.

Legs. still. closed.

Amy said that she would have to take a few measurements, and then she would go back to trying to determine the gender.

So she started measuring...everything.

We watched as different parts of our child flashed on the screen. It was amazing. Surreal. Powerful.

With the baby bouncing around so much it was tough to take the measurements. But Amy decided to try to sneak another peak at the "goods".

And again...Legs closed and tucked up underneath.

Amy had a hunch. But didn't want to say just yet.

We started to get a little concerned that maybe today we wouldn't be able to find out if we would be having a boy or a girl. Both of us, praying in our heads. Hoping for the best.

She sent Ashley to use the restroom in order to take the final measurement. Ashley returned and Amy started the machines up again.

Finally. A clear shot.

A perfect look at our perfect baby.

The verdict was in. 100% confirmation.

The weight is right on track.

The length is right on track.

Everything about the development is right on track.

Our baby GIRL is right on track.

Tennley Joan Stevenson is right on track.

Healthy, beautiful and growing.

(Joan is Ashley's grandma's name who passed away in NOV 2003)

I'm going to be a dad.

I'm going to have a baby girl.

A Daughter.

We're ecstatic. In awe. Blessed.

And cannot wait to meet her.

I'm not scared of girls. But I might be scared of daughters.

I have my work cut out for me.

Fathers and daughters have a special relationship.

I pray that I can be the father to her that she needs. Show her how she should be treated. Show her how she needs to be loved. I pray I can show her who Jesus is and who He can be to her in her own life. And I pray that she will never ever doubt the love that I have for her and her mom.

I am ready though. I really am. My wife is incredible. She's sweet. She's godly. She's amazing. And I can only bet that this other girl in my life will be just as incredible and sweet.

I cannot express how much I already love this little girl. It's amazing to say the least. I don't know how we could ever be the same.

Tennley Joan--already changing lives.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

2am thoughts and musings

i have never known whether i am a "night person" or "morning person". To put it simply, i like my sleep. i don't want to wake up early, and to be honest, i have no problem going to bed early either.
But tonight i am a night-owl. or insomniac...i'm still trying to decipher the two.

it's been a while since our last blog. new things are happening. not even sure of where to begin.
but it's 2:33am EST. and i am wired. i know i'll be an angry grouch tomorrow...but i'm prepared for that. not sure if others are, but that's how the cookie crumbles.

lots of questions rolling around in my head tonight. "does anyone still read this?" is one.
don't know. don't care. it's too late for that.

but how about an update on our lives on the East Coast. I wish i could use a "middle-east" joke on here like on Anchorman, but i openly know very little about the geography over here.

ashley accidentally locked me out of the house for 2 hours while she had coffee with a friend. i was angry at first...angry at her, but then, realizing it was an accident, i became angry at the situation. it was about 90 degrees outside and humid. i was in jeans and a tshirt. bored. i took a nap on the deck. watched the muted tv through the window. and tried to spit on a lizard.

ashley finally came home and let me in.

we then went out to chick-fil-a for dinner. i'm only a fan of chick-fil-a when i haven't had it for a while...i get "over" that place quickly. but tonight it was refreshing.

as we shuffled into our booth in the almost empty restaurant, ashley smiled and said, "it's been a long time since we've done this". we used to visit chick-fil-a quite often in our early dallas days...but the chicken-novelty rubbed off. and they raised their prices.

we sat across from each other, separated by diet coke and sprite cups, two sandwiches, some fries and sixty-four used ketchup wrappers scattered on the table. just talking about random things. random life-change.

we talked about this move. this lifestage. this step of faith. this move to a new state, even further away from anyone we know or anything we've ever known.

to say the least, we are content. i never know if 'content' is a good 'Christian' term to use. i guess it's a mindset, and not an action plan. does that make sense?

we love our lives here.
yes, it's hard being away from 'blood-family'. but we've acquired new family here. a family away from family. and we feel blessed.

God has shown us over and over again that we are in the right spot. we're scared at times. sometimes we're even sad that we're so far away from "home"...but we're in our new home now. assured that we're called to be here. meant to be here. for a reason. for a purpose.

...and we're content in this. ecstatic at what God is doing. and humbled that we get to be a part. and incredibly in love with this place. these people.

sometimes i ramble. blame the 2 gallons of strawberry-lemonade crystal light that i've consumed in the past 36 hours. i'm addicted.

sometimes when i write i remember my appreciation for things...for people.
as ashley sleeps, i can't help but be in awe of this woman i get to live life with.
i love that woman. i love my best friend. i love my wife. i love ashley ann.
i don't say that near enough. to her, or anyone.

i have no desire to proof read this. so i rely on my spell check.
and i'm not going to apologize for the lower case i's.

this is what you get for 2:33-2:58am.
random, yes. genuine, absolutely.

it's our life.
and we're in it together. forever.

3am brings music videos on mtv.
they're starting it off with jennifer lopez "waiting for tonight"'s such an old video, she's not JLo yet.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

week of firsts

My apologies to our dedicated blog readers for the 6-month gap between posts...not that i know of any hopelessly devoted blog readers, but sometimes things surprise me.

My hope is that whoever is reading this, already knows the backstory that takes us to where we are today, but i know there is the occasional creeper, and i get each his own. But if you don't know the backstory and you're dying to know--i'd be happy to fill you in.

So today is June 15, 2010. Ashley and I have been on the "East Coast" for a total 80 hours. I sit on our couch, in our new home, while Ashley and the dogs sleep...thinking about this pilgrimage.

I just sat down from rummaging through cabinets for something to eat to watch the 1 channel we get on our digital converter box...catching up on the latest happenings in the gulf and thought i would chronicle the latest news in our own lives.

So...we are here...the culmination of 4 months of conversation and preparation.
Unsettled...still living amongst the clutter, but slowly making this house our new home.

I find it hard to believe that less than 5 months ago, we were living in Dallas.
Home...completely oblivious to what was about to take place.

But here we are. In, what seems like, a new world.

I still can't comprehend what's really going on.
So many different emotions running through my body.
I am excited for this new beginning...but terrified because it's just that: a new beginning.

Just 3-years-ago, Ashley and I were starting our ministry together in Plano, Texas. Doing new things, experiencing a new world and meeting new people. And this week, we begin that all over again.

This week is a week of firsts:
Tomorrow is my first day in the office.
Friday is our first youth event.
Sunday is our first official Sunday.
This is the beginning of this journey.

I'm ready. We are ready.
We have a ball of fear sitting in the pit of our stomachs, but the peace that we have surrounding this entire event makes everything alright.

3 years ago it was so easy to fall in love with the students that came into our lives.
And that love is still there.

And now we get that opportunity fall in love all over with another group of students. A chance to be impacted by a group of jr. high and high school students and to be allowed into their lives. How we were blessed with an opportunity like this, i have no idea.

I'm thankful for this opportunity.
I'm thankful for this journey.
and honestly, I'm terrified...but incredibly ready to dive in.

We want our lives be used for something that matters.
Fear is part of that process.
Nervousness is part of that process.
...but this is our calling.

And we're in this together...with God preparing the way, we are ready to make it happen.