Here’s the latest…

Well, things have certainly changed in our lives since I last posted! And I will gladly use that as the reason for my lack of keeping y‚Äôall updatedūüôā

So, here’s the short version: My husband got a new job, we moved to Tennessee and I’m pregnant!

For my detail-loving friends, here is the long version:
It all started when we as a family took a quick trip to Pennsylvania at the end of January for the funeral of my Grandma.  She was a wonderful Grandma, full of spunk and life and love.  The weekend was packed full of family, old friends, food, laughter and tears. It also included a conversation that has changed our lives.               #96 015#96 025

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This conversation that took place was between Kenton and a business owner.¬† During the course of conversation this was said: ‚ÄúWe have this new purchasing position we just created in our business. What would you think about moving to Tennessee and filling that position?‚ÄĚ
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What followed next felt like an amazing whirlwind of conversations and phone calls and decisions and “Are we really doing this?”¬† And then came the e-mail that said “You have the job if you want it.”¬† We were so aware of God walking with us through this whole process‚ĶHis peace, good nights of sleep, words of encouragement and confirmation.¬† There was also the fact that our house sold in less than 48 hours!¬†#97 030 And then when we moved, we had literally the exact amount of cardboard boxes and we were able to rent a moving truck for 1/3 the price we had budgeted!¬† All of this and more, have been so good to remind ourselves of when we begin to wonder if we’re doing the right thing.#97 116 #98 057

So Kenton did his week of training and is enjoying getting settled into his new position at the company.¬† He is so excited about working for Wood-Tex Products and being part of this wonderful team!¬† And the really neat part?¬† They’re family!¬† It was my uncle that started the company and now his 2 sons have grown it to what it is today.#98 095

And the pregnancy?¬† Well, 3 days after that life-changing e-mail, we found out the family-growing news that I am pregnant!¬† A friend said “Moving while pregnant is not for the faint of heart!”¬† And I definitely agree.¬† But I took naps and went slowly and thankfully, had some help with packing.¬† I am currently 17 weeks along and feeling really well!¬† Naps are still a very close friendūüôā #98 1302

So, that’s the latest in this journey the Lord has us on.¬† I am increasingly aware of the truth of this blog’s name…He really is “with me always” and we are so grateful and in awe of His presence.

Blessings!¬† –sherri

It starts with me.

¬† Growing up, I often heard my parents say that there will always be someone watching me, and there will always be someone who is looking to see how I do something or listening to what I say so they can do/say it the way I do.¬† I never liked¬† hearing that, mostly because I didn’t want to accept that responsibility.¬† As I got older though, I began to realize the truth of that statement.¬† We all have influence, good or bad, whether we want that responsibility or not.¬† So now, enter in the fact that I have been blessed with two beautiful girls.¬† And what do they do?¬† They observe my every move and hear my every word.¬† Not only that, but they also copy my actions and my words!

There is something I’ve been learning on a deeper level the past few years…attitude is everything!¬† All of life is made up of choices…some are made for us, some we make.¬† But always, always, we get to choose our attitude.¬† What we choose, consciously or subconsciously, can make all the difference in a day, a year, a lifetime!¬† How?¬† Because what we set our focus on, is what sets our days and therefore our life.#94 004

If you choose to focus on the negative, then that is what you will see…the dark clouds, the sun that is too bright, the slow person in front of you on the drive to work, the child getting distracted from their responsibility, or the husband leaving his clothes draped on the chair.¬† But if you choose to focus on the positive?¬† Then you get to notice the sunbeams shining from behind the dark cloud, the fluffy clouds on a sunny day, the happy person singing along with the radio, the child whose imagination has her doing dishes in the Queen’s castle and the husband who remembered not to drop his clothes on the floor.

Anyone, believer or unbeliever, can choose to change the way they look at life.  Just a twist in the way you view your life and your circumstances can change things drastically!  The difference for those who live in the power of Holy Spirit, is when you choose to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, it is multiplied exponentially and an unexplained joy and peace will flow from you that is only because of Him.#94 012

So a few weeks ago as I was thinking about this, I began to realize just how much of what my girls are going to learn in life, starts with me.¬† Whether it’s baking/cooking, decorating, loving their Daddy, making good choices, showing hospitality, having a joyful attitude, serving others, living for God…it starts with me.¬† Why?¬† Because it’s me that they see in the day-to-day of life.¬† So if I want to teach my girls what being filled with Holy Spirit looks like, if I want to teach them anything, it starts with me.¬† It starts with me spending time in His presence so I know how to be the person that God sees me as.¬† It starts with me making good choices so they have a model to follow.

At this point in life, I am the one they see doing these things…I am their model of what a mother and housewife/manager of domestic affairs/home manager looks like.¬† I am their model of how a wife shows love & respect to her husband, and who models how a woman should be treated.¬† Even now, with the holiday season having just ended, I get to model how to enjoy the season without stressing out, or eat the yummy goodies while still exercising self-control or how to laugh when the baby just destroyed the plate of cookies meant for a neighbor.¬† I am their model of what Jesus looks like.¬† And when I am acting out my negative emotions?¬† It means I have a chance to show them how to stop acting that way and choose to act out of the love and joy that is in me, because of Who is in me.#94 0482

I’ve heard it said that the mother sets the tone of the house…”If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”¬† Right?¬† And I’ve found that to be so true!¬† I’m usually very quick to want to take the credit for happy children and a peaceful atmosphere.¬† But honestly?¬† When there are tears and whining and grumpiness?¬† Well, then it’s not because of me and my impatience or attitude, but it’s because the baby needs a nap or someone’s hungry or…you get the picture.

If I want to teach my girls that they are in control of their attitudes and feelings, who better than me to show them?¬† Who else is going to teach them that it’s okay to take a “mommy time-out” so I can set my mind right and then speak to them in love?¬† Who else is going to show them that in the business of homework and supper preparation, we can stop and¬† dance to a song and reset the mood in the house?
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This responsibility could be heavy at times, but it’s not.¬† Why?¬† Because I’m not doing this alone.¬† Yes, I have my husband and he is amazing and I am so blessed with how he helps me when I need it.¬† This job, this responsibility, would be overwhelming and so heavy without my Jesus!¬† He is the One whose presence I need so I have strength for this awesome responsibility of raising my girls.¬† He reminds me to stop and think before I speak.¬† He gives me peace in a crazy situation.¬† He gives me patience when I want to hurry them up.¬† He helps me laugh when I want to cry.

It is because of Him and only with His help, that I can accept the responsibility and do my best at being wife and mommy.¬† It is because of Him that I can choose to live life with joy and love.¬† And it all starts with me recognizing that He is my everything and with Him I can do anything…It starts with me.

Blessings!
–sherri

Change.

Change happens. ¬†All the time. ¬†Whether it’s a positive or negative¬†change, whether you like change or not, it happens. ¬†I always said that “I don’t deal well with change” until just recently, when I realized what I was actually saying and a major mind-shift¬†happened.

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It all started with this new season of our lives…having a school-age child! ¬†I thought I was ready for Abigail¬†to go to school, but in the days leading up to the big day, it became very obvious that I was not okayūüė¶ ¬† ¬†She was so excited for her first day and while I said I was excited too, I really was not looking forward to it, because “I don’t deal well with change.” ¬†And this was a big change!

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Two nights before her big day, we went to her restaurant of choice to celebrate this milestone, and thanks to my husband & his words, my mind-shift began that night and continued to reveal itself into¬†the next day. ¬†I had been busy getting things ready for her first day…clothes, shoes, supplies, etc., all the while thinking subconsciously “But what about me? ¬†What about her mama? ¬†Sure, Abigail’s excited about school, but what am I going to do while she’s gone? ¬†Doesn’t anyone care about my sadness and how I’m going to miss her and how I don’t deal well with change?!” ¬†(Yes, it really was as bad of a pity party as it sounds!)

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And here is where the mind-shift began to happen…Yes, it is a change and yes, there is an element of sadness to it and yes, it is okay to shed tears. ¬†But. ¬†What about my child and her excitement/nervousness for this change? ¬†How can I be genuinely excited for her when I can’t see past my own feelings of “poor me”?¬†¬†Because really, this is not about me. ¬†To think that it is, is¬†quite honestly, kind of selfish of me. ¬†It’s about her and the new friends she will make and the exciting¬†things she will learn this next year. ¬†So, in the words of my husband, “let’s celebrate her¬†and the beautiful milestone that this is in her life!”

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We had a wonderful time of celebration that night and when school started on Monday morning, I was so excited for Abigail and the adventure that she was starting. ¬†And you know what? ¬†She¬†absolutely loves¬†school! ¬†She’s said multiple times, “I love going to school and I love coming home.” ¬†That right there is confirmation to us that¬†she is where she is supposed to be.

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I recognize that I could have handled this change a little better differently. ¬†But I¬†also know that the next time a new season comes, I will be able to handle it better, because this is what I felt¬†the Lord telling me…”You are learning and growing, and you are able to handle change well, because I¬†am walking with you and I am showing you how.” ¬†The best part about experiencing changing circumstances, is that I serve the God who never changes and never will!

This is only the beginning of the many times we will need to let go of our children.  But I know that the same Spirit that is in me, is also in them.  And with all my heart, I choose to trust Him in them and trust that together they will make the choices that will best give Him glory.

Blessings!
–sherri

Christmas in August?

It’s hot.¬† There is no way around it.¬† So in an effort to keep cool, I am going to let my imagination run wild and pretend that it is a cold, winter afternoon, the tea I am drinking is actually a peppermint mocha, and the following pictures happened only last week.¬† In light of that, here is our Christmas 2013 family trip.

We packed our vehicle to the max, and headed to cold (and hopefully, snowy) Ohio.¬†¬†¬† #86 040¬† #86 049We made a stop in beautiful North Carolina and then, many hours later, we made it to our first stop.¬† There we were hosted by Kenton’s brother & his wife, and enjoyed some wonderful family time.

There were family pictures taken…
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Stories read, kiddos cuddled…
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Evenings relaxing…
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And snow enjoyed!!
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Then it was time to move on and go to Pennsylvania to be with my family. There, new family members were introduced…
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Games of¬†“try to get away from Grandpa” were played…
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More family pictures were taken (our family with my grandparents, who deserve a post all their own)…
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More snow!
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A family field trip to Herr’s Potato Chips
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Games played…
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And wisdom bestowed…
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Then it was time to leave the cold north and head home. ¬†And while this sweet baby did not take a turn in driving, she & her big sister did an amazing job traveling and we considered this trip to be a smashing success! ¬†The neatest part was to notice how individuals in each of our family’s have grown spiritually, and to then have the chance to speak life & encouragement over them. ¬†We all agreed…this was the best Christmas yet!
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Now it’s back to reality and the fact that it will still be a few months before I actually need that peppermint mocha to warm up.¬† Until then, I will enjoy my beautifully air-conditioned house and wait patiently for the cooler weather that is bound to come!

Stay cool, friends!
–sherri

 

California, part 2

So we left San Francisco Saturday night, driving 3.5 hours to Redding.¬† We were both so tired, but we wanted to make it to our destination so we wouldn’t have a long drive in the morning.¬† And we made it!¬† We found a scary motel and fell into bed.

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We actually overslept on Sunday morning, which was no surprise, considering how tired we were.  We went to the early church service at Bethel, arriving halfway through.  After the service, we were honored to talk with Bill & Beni Johnson.  They played a big part in our pregnancy journey with Elana (more on that story at a later time), and it was so rewarding to show them pictures of our miracle baby and thank them in person for their part.  We stayed for the second service too, and were so blessed by the people and their heart for God!

After lunch, finding a new motel, and some much-needed naps, we met some new friends at the coffee shop, and then had a wonderful evening of celebrating people getting baptized.¬† This was a baptism like I have never seen before…celebrating and honoring and rejoicing with those who were making a public declaration to follow our Jesus!

And those new friends we made?¬† Well, after the service we enjoyed more fellowship & food with them :)¬† I just love it, because when God puts people together, there is an instant connection of relationships that defy the length of time.¬† The neat part was that this couple was from our area…we just had to travel to the west coast to meet!

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Monday was a beautiful day, perfect for our plans.  We drove up to Whiskeytown Lake and hiked up to the falls.
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It was absolutely beautiful!  The weather was perfect for hiking, the scenery was gorgeous and the trail not too difficult to make us ache the next day.

Tuesday and Wednesday we sat in on some classes at the Bethel school, relaxed, spent some time at the Prayer House, relaxed, ate amazing food (thanks to a friends recommendations), relaxed, did laundry, relaxed…Can you tell we had a relaxing time together?ūüôā

Wednesday afternoon, after school, we joined a friend in her Revival Group.¬† We had an amazing time of worship and remembering God’s goodness in our past.¬† Kenton was even able to share briefly of our journey and how God proved Himself faithful.¬† The leader of the group felt led to pray over Kenton, speaking life and blessing and prophecy over him.¬† It was so beautiful & God-ordained!¬† How else can you explain a complete stranger being able to speak into Kenton’s life about a heart-dream, except to give all credit to God?

It was the perfect way to end our time in Redding.  We still are in awe at all that God had planned for us that week and the many ways that proved He is the ultimate Travel Agent.

Thursday morning we headed south, taking the scenic route to Napa and the Valley.¬† Beautiful, beautiful country!¬† We wound our way through the mountains, stopping often to take pictures and stand in awe at God’s handiwork.¬† I especially, was thankful for the open windows and fresh air…it helped ease the rolling of my stomach as we rode the ups & downs & arounds of the mountains!
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The vineyards were empty of any fruit, but it was still beautiful and I can only imagine how that beauty is multiplied when the vines are lush with fresh grapes.
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We wound our way over to Sonoma (where we stopped for a picnic lunch), up through Santa Rosa, and on to Guerneville.  We stopped at the Armstrong Redwoods State Park and walked through the forest for a bit, marveling again at the what God created.  Our plan was to spend the night in Guerneville, but someone (uh,me.) wanted to keep driving, thinking that surely there would be towns along the coast and we could find a motel for the night.
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So we kept driving.¬† We found no motels, but we did find a most gorgeous west coast!¬† “Beautifully rugged” are the words that come to mind.
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We ended up driving down to San Francisco that night yet, and woke up on Friday with two goals for the day: walk the Golden Gate Bridge & get on an airplane.

We parked as close as could to the bridge, but still walked more than a mile to get to the bridge.¬† We weren’t rushed for time, so we were able to enjoy the scenery and San Francisco for one last time.
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We are on the bridge!
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We knew the Golden Gate Bridge was big, but when we got up close and personal, we realized just how BIG it really is!
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We ended our time in San Francisco with another great meal and some Peet’s Coffee.
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We made it to the airport with hours to spare and then we jetted across the country,  reuniting with our girlies the next day.  The trip was so much more and did so much more for us than I could ever explain, even in person.  We were so blessed on this trip and will forever carry the memory of it and all that God did, in our hearts.

–sherri

California!

Part 1
For many years, Kenton had been dreaming of visiting San Francisco, CA.¬† I caught his “adventure fever” and several years ago we started saving and planning; we planned to go for our 10-year anniversary.¬† But a few months ago, we were talking & dreaming and decided “there is no time like the present” to take this trip.¬† So, tickets were bought, motels booked, babysitters arranged and bags packed.¬† And then we left for an amazing week to celebrate us and our marriage and our life together.

We flew into San Francisco late at night, and despite the 3-hour time difference, were up bright and early the next morning.  We had a loose plan of what we wanted to see and do on the trip: a few attractions, but mostly, we just wanted to relax & enjoy being together.

Our first day in San Francisco, we parked our car in down town and began walking.  Apparently, we parked at the bottom of a hill, because we climbed walked up & up & up!  We kept thinking that we were at the top of the hill soon, but the street kept going up! :)  And then, sweet relief, we reached the top and could finally descend.
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We walked through Chinatown and Italy, and made our way over to Coit Tower.  The tower is the highest point in the city and has a beautiful view of San Francisco.  Unfortunately for us, the tower was closed for construction, but we could still visit the park area around it.

This is the street leading up to the tower.  It was so crazy steep, cars had to park perpendicular to the street!
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A view from the tower.
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Another view (with some explanations (click on the picture to view it larger)).
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From Coit Tower, we walked down the hill and up again, to Lombard Street.  This is at the top of Lombard St., where we could look back where we came from and see Coit Tower.#88 038
From there, we walked down to Ghirardelli Square where we sampled some amazing chocolate!
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From the square, we walked along Fisherman’s Wharf and finally found some delicious food for us to eat!¬† Maybe it was because of all the walking we did that day or the fresh air we inhaled or being by the Pacific Ocean, but the burger & sweet potato fries we had for lunch were absolutely a.MAZ.ing!

We found a beautiful spot to rest before it was time for the Alcatraz tour.¬† We also found the “bush man”…a man with a sense of humor who hides behind a bush and then jumps out to scare unsuspecting passersby.¬† Thankfully, we were walking the right way and were able to watch the scene unfold, rather than being the unsuspecting passersby!
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We took the early evening Alcatraz tour, so we were able to watch San Francisco light up as darkness fell.  The boat took us around the island and then inside the prison, we had an audio tour as we walked through.  Some of the audio was actual guards and prisoners that were in the Alcatraz prison.
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After the Alcatraz tour, we decided to take a cable car because we were tired and it would be faster than walking.¬† Unknown to us, the car we chose to ride on was having mechanical issues.¬† The mechanism kept slipping off the underground cable, so the repair truck had to come out and push us to the shop and then, with everyone still on the car, they put a new one on and we were good to go!¬† We finally made it back to our car and said “good-bye for now” to San Francisco.
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Our first day on vacation was amazing and it was only the beginning of a wonderful week that God had for us.  We saw His hand so many times, and as we drove 3.5 hours north that night we had no idea what He had planned for us in the beautiful city of Redding.

But that will have to wait until another day!

 Be blessed!

–sherri

Learning…

…how to better mother & love on my two precious girls.
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…to take her up on her volunteering to mop the floor (she did an amazing job!).
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…that the memories of eating cookie dough are more important than worrying about the tiny bit of raw egg she would consume (because really, what is a childhood without experiencing cookie dough?!).
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…to see and feel God in all of creation & in every moment of every day; to recognize my completion in Him & allow myself to grow into that complete person.
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So that’s what I’m learning these days.¬† That, and how much I can fit in one carry-on bag for a week-long trip!¬† Yay! to spending time away with my man!

Still learning,
–sherri