A Bigger Story bio picture
  • Hi...welcome to my blog!

    I believe that everyone's life is a story and that God desires to write each person's life to reveal HIS divine story.

    Our stories help reveal the Greatest Story, the one that God is telling about Himself.

    Feel free to follow along as my family and I navigate through life & continue to be part of a story much bigger than our own!

    {For more information on our adoption experience, church, and child sponsorship through Compassion International, browse through the tabs directly to the left.}

JAMAICA: No Problem, Mon

Last Thursday Brad and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary at the Grand Palladium in Jamaica.  It was an amazing trip, and I’m so thankful we were able to go!  I’ve always said sometime I wanted to go “somewhere in the Caribbean where the water is crystal clear,” and Brad surprised me earlier this spring when he told me we were going to celebrate our anniversary with a trip to the Caribbean.  We honeymooned in East Tennessee, and we hadn’t ever gone on a trip like this (so it was overdue!).  We met Brad’s parents in Birmingham last Monday and left the kids with them (thank y’all so much!).  That night we stayed at the Redmont Hotel in downtown Birmingham where we stayed on our wedding night.  The hotel is old and isn’t really anything too special, but it’s sentimental to us so we like to stay there every now and then.

We woke up at 4:30 Tuesday morning and headed to the airport.  After a stop over in Dallas we arrived in Montego Bay early that afternoon and rode about an hour to the resort.  The scenery was beautiful as we drove along the coast, and it was fun to see Jamaicans along the way and get a glimpse of what typical life is like for them.

When we arrived, the resort looked just as beautiful as it had online.  Here’s what we saw as we entered the lobby.

Our room wasn’t quite ready so we headed downstairs to eat lunch at one of the buffets.  I loved staying at an all-inclusive place where we didn’t have to worry about paying for anything!  Soon our room was ready, and we got settled in to our suite in Villa 24.

Here are some photos from one of our balconies.  We could see a little bit of the ocean from there, but next time I think it would be fun to have a room with a full ocean view!

We went for a quick swim in the infinity pool before it started raining.  It’s the rainy season in Jamaica right now, so every afternoon it showered for a little while.  That first day we saw a double rainbow after the rain stopped, and it felt like a little welcoming gift!

Speaking of the infinity pool, it was amazing – complete with built in lounge chairs and a swim up bar.

As nice as it was, though, we spent most of our time on the beach.  We were surprised that most of the guests stayed around the pool, but it was great because we almost always had a little somewhat secluded section of the beach to ourselves!

There were beautiful plants and flowers everywhere, and I couldn’t helped but snap photos as we walked around.

We had heard that the food was just okay, and while we’d probably agree, it was just fine with us.  We weren’t too picky because you constantly have people waiting on you, and not having to cook or clean the kitchen for any meals was SO nice!  There was always a buffet, and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from as well.  Our favorite restaurant was the Italian one.  It overlooked the pool, and we ate there on the night of our anniversary.  The food was delicious, and the view of the sunset was perfect!

We hung out upstairs reading in big, comfy chairs during the afternoon when the rain moved in.  The rain was actually refreshing and cooled us off after spending the mornings in the hot sun.

Before we knew it, our time there came to an end, and we found ourselves thankful, rested and content above the clouds headed back home.

I’m really grateful for the time we had away together.  Fifteen years is quite an accomplishment, and I’m glad we were able to celebrate with a trip like this one!  I loved having Brad all to myself and being able to focus on us without the ordinary daily distractions.  We laughed a lot and had fun exploring together, and it was just good.  Jamaica is truly a beautiful country, and from now on when I hear “no problem” or “ya mon” a big smile will spread across my face and I’ll remember all these precious memories with my very best friend!
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{We booked our trip through www.cheapcaribbean.com, and we would definitely use them again.  We thought the resort was a great deal for the cost.}
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Music to My Ears

Today was our school’s annual CommUnity Festival, and Riley performed with the band as part of the day’s activities.  I was completely blown away by how incredible they sounded.  I’ve heard him practice for hours upon hours this school year, but to hear all the different instruments and parts come together was so much fun!  I played french horn in my middle school band, and I remember like yesterday how it felt to sit in that seat, play my part, and be part of something so much more beautiful than I could ever create alone.  I remember being at a band competition and getting goosebumps as we played.  I was proud of being part of something so beautiful.  Today as I watched Riley play I was so proud of him.  It’s been really fun to see him find his “niche” and develop a skill that he enjoys so much.  So without further adieu, (insert drumroll) I present the Mighty Sound of Midtown!

It’s always fun to hear the drumline play!

Then they moved inside the cafeteria and played “The Olympic Spirit.”

The next song they played was “Electricity.”  I love watching their (AMAZING) band director, Mr. James Robertson, direct them!  He is an incredible musician, and he does a wonderful job with the band.  We’re blessed to have him at Snowden!  Here he is playing a little number on the drums himself!

It’s a proven fact that I get weepy at school stuff like this.  Today I was the weirdo mom on the side wall of the cafeteria getting all teary.  (I was glad to talk to another mom afterward who was as well, so at least I wasn’t the only one)!  When they played this song, I might have gotten a little choked up…maybe.

And last, but certainly not least, “Afterburn.”

Great job, students!  It was a gift to hear your talent today!  Thanks for working so hard and performing so well.  Your practice has definitely paid off!

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Adventures in Little Rock

The boys are out of school this week for Spring Break, and we got the party started right with a weekend getaway to Little Rock, Arkansas.  We thought it would be fun to surprise the boys, so we didn’t tell them about the trip until we picked them up from school Friday afternoon.  I’ll just say that 2 out of the 3 were NOT happy about our surprise.  Those two apparently aren’t the spontaneous types and would have preferred knowing ahead of time.  Everyone pulled it together pretty quickly, though, and by the time we got to our hotel in downtown Little Rock, they were much more excited!

Friday night we ate dinner at Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro and walked around downtown.  Saturday morning after breakfast we headed out to hike Pinnacle Mountain, which rises more than a thousand feet above the Arkansas River Valley.

After stopping by the visitor center to ask about the trails, we decided to take the more rugged East Summit Trail.  We were told that it was a little strenuous, but we were up for a challenge!  This is the view from the deck of the visitor center.

We drove to the base trail parking area and began our hike, following the red and white blazes.  Please note these BEFORE & AFTER photos….

About 2/3 of the hike was through what a brochure calls “boulder fields.”  We had set out that morning to hike on a smooth, dirt trail, but we found ourselves rock climbing!

It was hard, but we kept pushing on and made it to the top!  The view up there was worth the effort!

That afternoon we hung out at the hotel and rested because we were wiped out!  We went to Iriana’s for pizza that night and walked out onto the Junction Pedestrian Bridge.  We liked downtown Little Rock a lot and would love to go back sometime.  There’s a great mix of restaurants and city stuff as well as some beautiful scenery to soak up the outdoors.  It was a fun little getaway, and I’m thankful for some family time spent making memories!

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Lent: A New Tradition

Last night our family attended our first Ash Wednesday service.  Brad and I grew up in a faith tradition that didn’t observe Lent, so it was a new experience for us.  We gathered together with a large room full of people that make up churches across Midtown, and it was a beautiful evening that fed my soul.  Since I’m not accustomed to the practice of Lent, I studied it some this week and thought I’d share what I learned here.  Eugene Cho’s blog post was especially insightful, and I would highly recommend reading it.

  • Lent is a 40 day period (that doesn’t include Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter Sunday.
  • It marks a time of prayer, penance, repentance, humility, self-denial, and soul searching.
  • It helps prepare our hearts for Passion Week.
  • It is NOT about us or what we give up.
  • It is NOT religious practice for the sake of religious practice.  Eugene says (and I agree), “Anything that produces rituals, expressions, practices and the like – without ultimately inviting us to a deeper understanding and worship of the Living God – lends itself to empty religion. And what we need isn’t more religion.  We need Gospel.”
  • When you give up something for Lent, do it with purpose and love for God.  Doing it for the sake of doing it makes us only like a clanging cymbal and resounding gong.  It just attempts to draw attention to ourselves.
  • Lent is about mourning the darkness in our hearts and rejoicing in the light of God who came to save us.
  • Lent – whether we give up something or not – should invite us to give ourselves more fully to Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
  • According to Jessi, “Lent is not about points, it’s about walking. It’s not about doing something better or executing the Christian life in a more tidy manner. The entire point of Easter (and thus Lent) is us celebrating that the work has already been done for us, on the cross. We have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus and no amount of tidying our lives will make us more holy in our Father’s eyes. The work has been done. The sacrifices have been made. We are not earning points. We are just walking closer. And picking up rhythms that help us to get quiet, draw near, and talk with our Father in this special season.”

Last night as ashes were smudge on my forehead, I was reminded that my time here on this earth is so short.  How I spend my days is extremely important.  How I spend my days and the extent that I choose to love others shows what I value, what is important to me.  I was also reminded of the darkness of sin that constantly fights to invade my heart.  I need a Savior because I’m no good on my own. I’m weak and powerless. As the ashes were wiped clean from my forehead, I was reminded that my sins have been forgiven and I’m a new creation.  I can walk in freedom and peace and HOPE!  I took communion with an abundantly grateful, humble heart.  I can’t even believe the scandal of grace that God has shown me.

I’m excited about the Midtown Prayer Collective, which is a multi-church prayer project for Lent.  I’m so thankful for the network of churches and pastors here in Midtown. It was a blessing to worship together with them last night!

If you’re interested in a devotional guide for Lent, I highly recommend this one.

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Stitch Fix #1

Have you heard of Stitch Fix?  I kept hearing about it, and after several months I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.  Basically it’s a personal styling service. You tell Stitch Fix your style, size and budget preferences, and they send you a package of goodies to try on at home. Each “Fix” is unique and hand-picked just for you.  You can even link a Pinterest board to your account to give your stylist a better idea of things you like.  There’s a $20 styling fee, and it can be applied to your purchase should you decide to keep any of your items.  You also get a 25% discount if you purchase all the items in your box.  There’s a pre-paid mailing bag for any items you don’t wish to keep, and it can be dropped in any USPS mailbox.  You can have a “Fix” sent whenever – as frequently or as infrequently as you’d like, and there’s no “subscription” so you can cancel your account any time or take a little break if needed.  Also, when you refer your friends to Stitch Fix, you get a $25 credit!  There’s currently a wait list, and I was so excited to finally get my first “Fix” today!  Isn’t it pretty?!  Even the box looks great!

My stylist, Allison, sent me casual pieces as requested: a pair of Kut from the Kloth bootcut jeans, a Tart shirt that’s grey on the front and striped on the sleeves and back, a Kut from the Kloth pink crew knit sweater, a 41 Hawthorn Aztec scarf, and a brown leather messenger bag by Emperia.

I was excited that everything actually FIT!  Here I am in the jeans, the pink sweater, and the aztec scarf.  The jeans are too long, so I rolled them under to see how they’d look hemmed.

Here I am in the jeans and the Tart shirt with the messenger bag.

It was so fun the receive this today!  I’m trying to decide what to keep.  What do you think?

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, you can learn more HERE!  If you decide to give it a try, come back and let me know what you think!

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