Freezing Cold Weather + Crying Kids = Memorable Photos!

A few weeks ago the kids and I headed up to Indiana to spend the week with my family. While we were up there my mom wanted to get some pictures of all her grandkids together since this was the first time in a loooong time they had all been together at once! My brother and sister-in-law live in Wyoming with their kids, my sister and brother-in-law live in Michigan with their son and Drew and I live in Florida so we’re not all in one place very often (my other siblings do not have kids yet)! We coordinated the kids outfits and arranged a date with our favorite photographer in Michigan – Kim (seriously you should check her out!).

There was one little detail that we didn’t plan for though…. the weather! The day of the pictures turned out to be a bitter cold spring day. Seriously, the weeks before (when we were planning their outfits) had been perfectly warm but this day turned out to be freezing. And of course we were taking the photos outside. We scrambled to try and add layers to the kids’ outfits to make them warmer but they were cold no matter what. This made for some lovely pictures….of crying children. Lol. In their defense it seriously was miserably cold – there was a bitter wind that day! Kim was so flexible and we ended up moving our session indoors to a nearby coffee shop after several failed attempts at pictures outdoors. We ended up getting hot cocoa and taking candid photos and having so much fun!

I learned a while ago that you can’t stress about family pictures. Some years they turn out and some years they don’t…. but that’s ok because it’s a reflection of real life! You just gotta roll with the punches… and when it was all said and done we ended up gaining a few good pictures and a whole lot of great memories. ❤

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L-R: Novalee – 4, Weldon – 6 months, Eloise – 5, Olive – 3, Isaiah – 6, Lincoln – 1.5

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Babies trying to escape!
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Olive’s face! Lol. She was so cold!

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My parents and two of my little sisters.

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Weldon is the sweetest, happiest little guy!

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My favorite!!

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My sweet parents.

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The kids had a great time (once we got indoors!) =)
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Birthdays, Disney World, Graduations, Oh My!

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and for a while now I have been wanting to post a follow up blog post with my thoughts on surrogacy now that I’m 10 weeks post-partum and have had more time to process everything. But March and April have been busy months for us and I haven’t had the time to sit down and write. I’m finally making the time, but before I do that I’ll fill you in a little on what we’ve been up to the last few months.

We made two trips to Disney World! It was the kids’ first time to Disney World and everyone had a blast. Since we live so close we’ve just been making weekend trips and visiting one park at a time. We’ve been to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom so far and are going to Hollywood Studios in June. We’re skipping Epcot this go around but maybe next year! We went with Drew’s parents and the kids’ cousin, Gavin. It was SO much fun and we can’t wait to go back!

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Olive turned 3 and Eloise turned 5 in April. Olive didn’t have a big party this year since she’s too little to have many friends to invite yet (but as a family we did have the Barbie cake that she wanted!). But Eloise, now that she’s in VPK, had a big party with lots of friends invited. She wanted a mermaid party so we did our best and everyone had a blast!

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Isaiah got his Kindergarten graduation pictures taken in preparation for his graduation later this month. I can’t believe that my baby boy is already almost done with Kindergarten. The years fly by so fast. He had a Mother’s Day Tea at his school last week and made some sweet things for me to cherish. ❤ This boy has a sweet and tender heart!

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The card says: “Happy Mother’s Day! You look prettier than a rose. I love you. You are as pretty as sun. Love, Isaiah” ❤

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Both the girls got their first hair cuts last month! Yes, I waited until they were 3 and 5 to get their hair cut for the first time….that’s ok, right!? Eloise also got her first blow out and is in love with how long her hair became once it was straightened. It will stay straight as long as we don’t get it wet….which is hard to do when you have a fish for a daughter but we’ll see how it goes!

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The kids and I took a trip to Indiana to visit my family. I was nervous about flying with all three kids by myself but they honestly did GREAT and I was so proud of them! It was so easy I’m actually crazy enough to be thinking about when we can do it again! This visit was extra special because my sister-in-law and her kids were also visiting from Wyoming so we got to spend time with them as well. The kids haven’t been able to spend much time with their cousins on my side of the family since we live so far away so it was a great time for them to catch up. We were able to get some cousin photos taken as well and even though the weather was freezing and the kids were crying – we managed to get a few good ones. 😉

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We finally got a new roof put on our house! There is no official record of how old our roof is but our best guess is that this house still had the original roof from when the house was build – over 30 years ago! It has served us well and actually wasn’t leaking or having any issues but it was becoming a bit of an eye sore so we decided to replace it. =) I asked the kids what color roof we should pick and Olive picked pink. She was quite upset to come home and find out we had chosen charcoal…She’s disappointed but Drew and I are pretty happy with our choice. 😉

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Drew took a trip to Omaha, Nebraska to go to the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting. He has been wanting to go to a meeting for years and it was an amazing trip for him. He wants me to go with him next year but I’m not sure how interesting it would be to me. 😉

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So that’s what we’ve been up to these days. This turned into a much longer post than I anticipated so I’ll write my post on my thoughts on surrogacy later this week. Stay tuned! 🙂

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A Graduation, Christmas, and a Dog. Warning: This Post Contains Excessive Pictures! =)

Two thousand sixteen ended in a whirlwind and the beginning of 2017 has been just as crazy! Things are finally starting to slow down a bit around here and so I thought I’d update you on what the Hutcheson household has been up to these last few weeks!

Drew graduated from Jacksonville University on December 17 with his MBA! Over 2 years of hard work and perseverance finally paid off and he is DONE!!! Going to grad school with three small children and working full time is not for the faint of heart. It’s been hard but it’s been worth it! We have seen God’s hand of faithfulness to us throughout the journey and it has been an adventurous ride. Not only does Drew now have his Masters but, through a series of events only God could have orchestrated, he’s also already landed his dream job as an Equity Research Associate at Deutsche Bank. God is so good!!!

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Just in case you were wondering Olive is not a red head. She was a pumpkin for Halloween and we spray painted her hair orange and STILL cannot get it to all come out!!!!! =)
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So proud of this man and how hard he works!! ❤

 

The surrogacy is going great! On December 19 I had my 30 week doctor’s appointment and Ben and Kristen were able to come down for the ultrasound! Baby Knox is growing away and looking great! I’ll be 34 weeks this week and can’t believe we are getting so close to the finish line! I am so excited for Knox to join the Berry family!!

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I did tons of baking over the Christmas break. The messiest baking adventure was when the kids and I made Christmas cookies. The kids had a blast.

But cleaning up was not quite as fun. Whose idea was it anyways that making Christmas cookies should be an annual tradition? Dried frosting, cookie crumbles, and sprinkles everywhere. Whew…. I need a nap just thinking about all the cleanup involved.

A few days before Christmas my parents and two little sisters, Janae and Adelynn, came to spend the Holidays with us! They live in Indiana so we don’t get to see them much and it was a real treat. We LOVED spending time with them and had a blast. We packed a lot into their week and a half here and were so sad to see them go!

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These kids love their Meema and Papa!

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Christmas was great except that Livy got sick on Christmas day and threw up 3 times so that was no fun! But we were still able to have a great day and she was better by the next day, thankfully.

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I spy a present that we couldn’t wrap…. Yes, the dog is a Christmas present! (More on that below)
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Each year on Christmas Eve the kids get to open up two presents. One is new Christmas jammies and the other is a new book with their name on it!
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Our Christmas morning tradition is that, before we open up any presents, we read the Christmas story, light candles and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus! It helps the kids (and us) remember why we are celebrating!

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My favorite Christmas gift – a deep freezer!! My husband is an AWESOME gift giver. ❤

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Poor, sick girl couldn’t even make it through opening up all her presents before she needed a nap.

Speaking of presents, the kids got an exciting Christmas present this year. We got our first dog! Meet Cheza! Cheza is a two year old Double Doodle (mix of a Labradoodle and a Goldendoodle). “Cheza” is the Swahili word for “play” and he definitely lives up to his name. He is the perfect addition to our family and fits right in with our crazy kids. He is a very good and obedient dog and plays great with the kids. I have been putting off getting a dog for a long time because of the extra work involved… despite the pleas of my husband and children! But I finally gave in and am so grateful that Cheza is such a great fit for our family.

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Why yes this is Cheza dressed up in some of Drew’s clothes. Sorry, boy, you have joined a crazy family!

Well I think that about sums up our life these past few weeks! We saw the Lord’s hand of faithfulness throughout the ups and downs of 2016 and we look forward to watching Him at work in 2017. To HIM be the glory!!!

2016 Family Pictures

We had the privilege of working with sweet Madeline from Infinite Focus Photography to get our family pictures done this year! Madeline’s daughter was in Isaiah’s VPK class last year so we got to know her through that. She did a great job and had so much patience!

The kids did so well this year (read: last year they did NOT).  They were all in good moods, well behaved, and actually smiled! It was a miracle!! (It might have had something to do with the promise of milkshakes afterwards if they behaved….milkshakes can solve anything.)

We decided when we first had Isaiah to get family photos done each year. Sometimes it can be stressful and some years the kids aren’t in good moods and sometimes the photos just don’t turn out how I had hoped! But I try not to stress too much about everything being perfect… if they don’t turn out one year I know we’ll be getting more done the next. And no matter how the photos turn out I never regret it! Because you can’t ever go back and get those memories again! The kids are only getting older and changing so quickly! Sure I take lots of photos on my iPhone but there’s just something about professional photos. I love having them and looking back on them over the years! ❤

So, without further ado…. our 2016 family photos!

 

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Two and Four?! How Can It Be?

We officially have a 2 year old and a 4 year old in our house! A what and a what? It doesn’t seem possible that Eloise and Olive are already that old! How can it be?

Their birthdays are just 12 days apart so this year we had a combined party for them on the weekend right in between their birthdays. We celebrated them individually on their actual birthdays and that’s the day they got their presents from us but we decided to do their party together this year. They didn’t mind and it made it alot easier on everyone. =)

The most favorite gift of all was a family gift that we bought for Eloise because she has been begging us for weeks on end…. We booked a local hotel for the weekend and had a little “staycation”! The kids love staying in hotels and Drew and I decided we could use a break too so we disconnected from reality for a bit and spent the weekend by the pool and in the room watching TV. It was so nice to have no agenda and nothing planned to do. The kids are already asking us when we are going to do it again. It might have to become a regular tradition in our house!

Eloise (4 years old):

Favorite Color: Purple

Favorite Toy: Her new Boov (“Oh”)

Favorite Outfit: Her “I’ve Got Nothing to Wear” shirt and a jean skirt

What She is Best At: Hula Hooping!

Favorite Place to Go: McDonalds and Chuck E Cheese

Olive (2 years old):

Favorite Color: Pink

Favorite Toy: Her baby doll

Favorite Outfit: Her Elsa and Anna shirt with a tutu

What She is Best At: Fully abusing the power she has as the baby of the family to charm her way out of every situation and make everything think she is cute!

Favorite Place to Go: Anywhere….as long as it is with mommy

Happy Birthday Sweet Eloise and Sweet Livy. We LOVE you!!

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Olive’s Birthday!

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Flowers and a chocolate milkshake caused this girl to pretty much have the best birthday ever!

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The girls’ birthday party. They made out like bandits.
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The girls got matching dresses and new clothes for their baby dolls as gifts. =)

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Eloise’s Birthday! She had ballet that day so she was in her leotard. =)
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She wanted “Oh” from the movie “Home”. She has literally taken him everywhere since this day. It’s safe to say she loves him. =)

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Oh my heart. I am so in love with this Super Awesome Birthday Girl! ❤

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We had so much fun at the hotel. It was a little cold but the kids still had a blast swimming in the pool.
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Love these three so much. ❤

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Superman ice cream!

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Movies in bed!

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Snacks in bed! Breaking all the rules… but who cares? It’s vacation!

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And this, folks, is how a good vacation always ends. With exhausted kids fast asleep, dreaming about the memories we made as a family this weekend. ❤

"If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no"

So I just realized that I didn’t post any blog posts in December. Nadda. Zero. Zilch. Oh well!

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December was a great month for us. Just busy! The kids are at such fun ages and it made Christmas such a magical time this year! But since they’re getting older now we’ve also added more activities to our plate during the holiday season. Isaiah had parties at school and a basketball performance at the half time show of a local basketball game. Eloise had her first ballet recital. We saw Santa at several events. We took one last trip to SeaWorld before our season passes expired (WOW!! SeaWorld at Christmas time was AMAZING! Even though we’re not buying season passes again for 2016 we’re still planning to try and make it there at Christmas time again. Truly magical!). We stayed up late looking at Christmas lights in different neighborhoods. We spent one evening at Adventure Landing for WinterFest. We crammed in as many Christmas movies as we could. We moved our Elf on the Shelf (“Elfis”) around the house every night while the kids were asleep and tried to come up with something creative for him to be doing the next day (man that’s stressful!!).

We hung Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time ever (and then (after hanging up 5 strands) realized we didn’t’ have enough to go all the way around the house so we tried to buy more… and then found out that they were out of stock at all the stores and were being discontinued (thanks Target!)… so, since we didn’t want to buy 10 completely new sets (because just 5 new ones wouldn’t match the 5 we already had) and since by this time it was just a week before Christmas, we just decided to get back up on the roof and take them all down. And…the story gets better. When we took them down we put them in a garbage bag and set them in the garage (why did we do that?!?)….and then a week later accidentally threw away the garbage bag full of 5 strands of perfectly good icicle lights (bangs head on table). Yea, that was one of our Christmas adventures I’d rather not remember!). We read the Christmas story several times and and sang to lots of Christmas music. Drew and his dad spent Christmas Eve (after our Christmas Eve service) setting up the new trampoline we bought the kids so they would be surprised on Christmas day. We made a gingerbread house, Christmas cookies, crafts, and decorated the house. Not to mention buying all the gifts for friends and family which rests pretty much solely on my shoulders. We had alot of late nights and early mornings. It was a busy month for sure!

And now I’m just focusing on rest. I usually don’t add too much to my plate but this holiday season I feel like I did. I’m usually good about putting up boundaries. About saying no when I need to. About declining a play date or forgoing an event if it’s just too much. But as 2016 is beginning I want to refocus on this. I want to make sure that I go all in on what GOD is calling me passionately to and weed out everything else that just creates busyness. If it’s not an emphatic YES, then I want to say no. Of course ministry and serving sometimes need to be done whether we feel like it or not and, if God is calling me to it, it needs to go under the emphatic YES category. I’m talking about saying no to things that I add to my plate that are simply things I want to do or even feel compelled to do. I want to say no to those things so that I can have room to say yes to more important things.

Have you ever heard of Jen Hatmaker? Oh my gosh. If you haven’t you totally need to look her up. Here is her blog. She is an amazing woman of God and an amazing speaker. I could really listen to her for hours. She is actually speaking at the IF Gathering (if you haven’t heard of that it’s so awesome too. Click the link!) in February and my mom and I are going to a broadcast of it at her church while we’re in Indiana visiting them later this month. I’m so excited!

Anyways, Jen posted this on her Facebook a few days ago and it exactly put into words what I want my year 2016 to be. I’ll just let you read this and I’ll slip out the door because, really, what more could I say?

 
“As you move into 2016 hoping for a saner schedule that prioritizes your actual life and keeps you focused on the things that matter the most, let me share the decision-making filter my agent Curtis always gives me:
“If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no.”
So that medium yes, that I-feel-like-should yes, that guilty yes, that coerced yes, that I-actually-hate-this-thing yes, that I-guess-so yes, that who-else-will-do-it yes, that careless yes, that default yes, that resentful yes, that I-probably-shouldn’t-but-struggle-with-boundaries yes?
NO. Nope.
No thank you. I am unable to commit to that this year. Thank you so much for asking, but any new yes I give right now means a no to my family and sanity. I am so flattered you asked and count on my prayers, but I am at my maximum bandwidth right now. I appreciate your work so much, but I’ve already committed my time and energy this year. I’ve loved being a part of this, but I am no longer able to continue. We are aggressively focused on x, y, and z this year, so as a family we’ve agreed on no new commitments. This is what I can give but won’t be able to do more right now.
Now, the things that make your heart race, your blood pump, the fire in your belly burn, your gifts to leap to life, and keep your family and home healthy and strong…the hell yeses? ALL IN, BABY.”

Before and After: The Transformation of our House

On Thanksgiving Day we celebrated one year of owning our home! On November 26th, 2014 (the day before Thanksgiving last year) we signed on the dotted line and received the keys to our very first house!

I’ve been trying to think of a fun post to do to honor our one year anniversary. You have all seen the house tour that I posted here on the blog earlier in the year so I didn’t want to post similar pictures again. Then, the idea hit me!

The previous owners of our house foreclosed on it. An investor bought it, flipped it, and then put it back on the market. When we bought it, it had already been completely remodeled so we never saw the house in the condition it was in before. BUT on the Zillow listing, there were old pictures of the house from when the previous owners tried to sell it. Over a year ago I downloaded and saved those pictures to my computer because the transformation was so shocking to me!

So today I thought it would be fun to post the before and after pictures of our house. Remember, we didn’t do this transformation! We bought the house already completely updated. And thank goodness, because if I would have stepped foot in this house when it looked like the previous pictures I would have taken one peek in the door and said no thank you! I’m amazed that the investor saw the potential in this house and gave it some much needed love and updating. I absolutely love our house and feel so at home here. I’m so grateful it’s ours!

So… here we go! (You can click on the pictures to make them larger)

The outside before:

The outside after:

The living room before:
The living room after:
The kitchen before:
The kitchen after:
The dining room before:
The dining room after:
The master bedroom before:
The master bedroom after:
The master bathroom before:
The Master bathroom after:
Isaiah’s room before:

 Isaiah’s room after:

The fan in Isaiah’s room was the only fixture in the whole house the investor didn’t update! We can’t figure out why. =) But it didn’t matter because we put bunkbeds in his room and replaced the fan with a light anyways. We just thought it was funny!
The girls’ room before:

The girls’ room after:
The guest bathroom before:

The guest bathoom after:

 The playroom before:

The playroom after:
The garage before:
The garage after:

2015 Family Pictures

Well it’s that time of year again. Time for our annual family pictures! This year the lighting was excellent, the photographer was great, our outfits came together perfectly, the setting was gorgeous…..everything was perfect. Except the kids!!

Each year I have to remind myself why I take family pictures. It’s to remember how my children look and act in the current year, which is usually wild and crazy. We’re not a perfect family so why should I expect my family pictures to be perfect, right!?

This year I got family pictures done to document how Olive still needs either two naps or one super long afternoon nap each day – neither of which she got that day. How this made her cranky and whiny. How her cautious personality means she doesn’t often smile for strangers. And how she’s at the age where she just. can’t. sit. still.

I got pictures taken this year to document Eloise’s cheesy smile. This girl has a beautiful smile with a mouth full of tiny, perfectly straight teeth and yet she smiled like she was an old woman trying to prevent her dentures from falling out. Are you kidding me?!?

I got these pictures taken to document that Isaiah is finally at the age where he understands how to sit still and smile a great smile for the camera. He can comprehend the reward at the end of the photo shoot (I promised mini marshmallows!) and is very motivated by the promise of rewards. He understands that when we tell him to smile he needs to smile AND look at the camera (something the other two have a hard time with). He is a sweet boy and loves to grab his sister’s hand even during a photo shoot.

So, guys, this is my family as it is now. A perfectly beautiful mess. As the years go by I’m hoping (praying) that family photo shoots get easier and the kids look better but for now I’m going to treasure these photos (and maybe even laugh someday).

 

 

 

 

Of my heart. If this was the only photo I got from the shoot I think I’d be happy! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think this one is probably the one that I’ll blow up and hang above the fireplace…… Haha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We may not have it all together. But together we have it all! 

Six Years as Mrs. Hutcheson

This post is going to be a bit sappy. But, to be fair, I hardly ever post mushy love posts and it’s my anniversary so cut me some slack. =)

Six years ago on August 7, 2009 I made the second best decision of my life – I married Drew (the very best decision of my life being to give it to Christ!). I had no idea how to be a wife, no idea what marriage was really like, no idea how to truly set aside my selfishness for the good of another person. But I jumped into marriage with both feet and faced the steep learning curve. Let me tell you, marriage is not for the faint of heart. Choosing to combine your life with someone for better or for worse is not an easy task considering the sinful state of human nature. But it’s worth the work because marriage can be refining, healing, beautiful, and fun!

God says that marriage is GOOD:

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22 

I’m so glad God gave me the good gift of Drew. Is he perfect? Nope. But he’s perfect for me. He is weak where I’m strong and he is strong where I’m weak. He balances me out and helps me think from a different perspective. In marriage it’s easy to get stuck on the little annoying things your spouse does. But a few years into our marriage I realized how silly it was to pick fights over how to squeeze the toothpaste tube (FYI: Drew and I now have our own SEPARATE tubes of toothpaste because we finally decided to just agree to disagree!!! =)). But seriously, I’d rather save up my energy to fight battles that really matter, like conquering sin with each other’s help or fighting through difficult life circumstances together.

We’ve done a lot in our six years of marriage. We’ve lived in two different countries, three states, and six different houses. We’ve had three children, completed an international adoption, and lived in Africa for a year. We have said hurtful things to each other and we have forgiven and been forgiven. We have had a blast together on numerous crazy adventures and we have laughed together till our sides hurt.

Interested in a healthy marriage? Listen to this:

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Colossians 3: 12-15

That’s a big pill to swallow!! But the closer to Christ we become the better we are able to love our spouse like this…. and it creates a sweet, sweet marriage.

I must say that my second year of marriage was better than my first, my third year was better than my second, my fourth year was better than my fifth, and my sixth year has been better than them all combined! Our marriage just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter as we continue to learn each other in and out, as we face and overcome trials together, as we walk through valleys and as we rejoice on mountaintops together. There is no one else I would rather live this life with than my very best friend!

Engaged!
Married (we saved our first kiss for our wedding day!)
First Year – Isaiah was born a month and a half after our first anniversary. 
Second year!
Third year! Eloise joined our family!
Fourth year!
Fifth year! Olive joined our family!
And Sixth Year!

I love seeing how our family has grown, our love has strengthened, and our lives have changed in these six short years. And I look forward to the next 6 (and 16 and 60 years, God willing!!).

Grandma’s Funeral and The Time I Almost Missed My Plane

My blogging pattern is usually a reflection of what is going on in my life at the time. When things get quiet on the blog it usually means that my life is crazy, stressful, busy, or sad. That has been the case this past month.

A couple of years ago my Grandma Luckey was diagnosed with cancer. She had chemo and things looked ok for a while. Then, a few months ago, she started to go downhill fast. My Grandma was in Michigan so my parents (who live in Indiana) kept me updated by phone. Slowly we came to the realization that my Grandma wasn’t going to recover this time. On Saturday, July 11, my mom called and told me that Hospice said Grandma had probably 8-48 hours to live. On Sunday I booked a last minute plane ticket for me and Olive to fly to Michigan that Tuesday. Then I scrambled to find people to watch Isaiah and Eloise, cancelled all the doctors appointments the kids had scheduled the following week, and prepared meals for Drew to eat while I was gone. Everything fell into place and I prayed that my Grandma would still be alive when I got to Michigan so that I could say goodbye one last time.

Grandma getting chemo several months ago.

On Tuesday Drew took off work early to bring me to the airport. I flew out of Orlando, about 2.5 hours away. We didn’t leave much extra time for any unexpected delays in getting there as Drew couldn’t take off any earlier than he did. I was nervous about cutting it so close but tried not to worry. Well, about half way into our trip I started to worry!! We suddenly ran into STAND STILL traffic on the high way. After doing some research on my phone (don’t you love technology these days!??!) I found out that there was an accident ahead…. I also found out that there were miles of cars lined up in front of us. This was not going to be a short wait.

As the minutes ticked by and we crawled forward little by little, I began to panic! Olive started getting antsy in the back seat which only added to my stress level. Drew and I could only wait and pray that I would make my flight. After an hour in traffic we FINALLY started to move again. And boy did we move! Let’s just say that Drew went a little above the speed limit!! When we finally pulled into the airport I was nervous and shakey. And I had only THIRTY minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave. I grabbed Olive, the stroller, and my bags and rushed into the airport. Sorry, Drew, no time for a hug goodbye!

There was no line at the check-in counter, praise the Lord. But the lady who checked me in was not optimistic. “I don’t mean to be negative, but you’re not going to make it. They close the doors 15 minutes before the plane takes off,” she said as she pointed to the incredibly long line that I would have to pass through in order to get through security and to the terminals. “Well, I’m going to try,” I said as I took off running. Thankfully I didn’t have any bags to check or it probably would have taken just a few minute too long. I packed light and only took a carry-on!

By the time I got to the security line I was sweating and shaking like a mad woman. “PLEASE, I HAVE to get on my flight. I HAVE to get to my Grandma’s funeral” I sobbed as I handed the gentleman at the beginning of the security checkpoint line my boarding pass and ID (I didn’t have time to explain that she hadn’t passed away yet but that I was trying to make it there in time to see her alive AND to be there for her funeral….it was just too long to say…lol). The LORD was in the details because He caused the man to have compassion on me and he directed me over to a VIP line which was 10 times shorter! Praise the Lord!

Have you ever flown on an airplane? You know the drill. Take off your shoes, empty your pockets, take out your baggy of liquids. I hurriedly and shakily did all this, looking down at my phone and seeing that I had 20 minutes before my flight was scheduled to depart….and FIVE minute before the lady at the check in counter had told me they would close the doors! My perfectly straightened hair was now all kinky, drenched with sweat. I felt like I was going to pass out. Drew, who was waiting to see if I would make the flight before driving home, texted me if I was good to go. I didn’t have much time but texted back NO. I was so frazzled I couldn’t get the stroller collapsed and for a second I seriously thought that darn thing was going to prevent me from getting on that plane. I finally just told the gentleman that I could NOT get the thing collapsed and that I was just going to have to push it through the detector instead of putting it on the belt. He took pity upon my tears and my shaky hands (and probably thought I was loony) and let me push it through. Olive was FREAKING out at my behavior and would not walk through the detector on her own. Every second of a delay made me think more and more that I wasn’t going to make it.

After I made it through the detector and got Olive to walk through I started putting back on our shoes and repacking my bags….and noticed that my diaper bag had been set aside for additional screening. COME ON!! “PLEASE do it quickly. I NEED to make my flight!” I told the lady (again, with tears running down my cheeks). Thankfully she did work quickly. She just did a quick check on Olive’s sippie cup and when she was done I grabbed the bag and RAN!

I had to take a tram after that to get to my terminal. By the grace of God a tram arrived within a few seconds and I hopped on. A man on the tram asked me if I was ok, he probably thought I needed psychiatric help!! As the tram got closer to the terminal I could SEE my plane!!!! I started to feel hopeful that I was going to make it. I got off the tram and RAN to my gate – Gate #35. Thankfully I had a stroller so I didn’t have to run while holding Olive, my bag, and the diaper bag. She rolled along smoothly in the stroller!

When I got to the gate my heart sank. It was closed and empty. I rested my arm on the check in counter and cried. An employee came over and asked if I was ok. “I HAVE to get on that plane. Please, let me on. I HAVE to get on” I sobbed. He smiled, “Are you heading to Chicago? You’re at the wrong gate. It’s gate 34 behind you and…. they’re still boarding.” =) I felt like kissing that man (sorry Drew!). I looked behind me and HALLELUJAH! He was right! They were still boarding MY flight! I got in the line and was the second to the last person to board. I called Drew and told him to head on home! Praise the Lord. Thank you Jesus! I have never before in my life been so relived to make it on a plane. I was going to see my Grandma!!

Finally on the plane! What a glorious feeling!
This photo was actually taken in the airport on our way BACK from Chicago. There was absolutely NO time to take pictures in the airport on the way there. Haha. =) 

I arrived in Chicago safe and sound and stayed with my parents in Indiana. The next day we drove to Michigan to see my Grandma. It was truly heartbreaking to see her in the condition she was in. She was sleeping most of my visit but she did come to enough at one point to recognize that I was there and even said, “Oh, hi Amber.” That alone was worth the cost of a last minute plate flight and a stressful trip. Through tears, I was able to see and touch my Grandma one last time. I was able to kiss her forehead and hold her hand one last time. One last time I was able to tell her that I love her and am thankful for all the wonderful memories we have together. I was able to say goodbye.

The family had an early 80th birthday party for Grandma exactly one week before she died. This is my Grandpa and Grandma at the party. 

My Grandma had a strong will to live and fought hard. She held on much longer than anyone thought. I went and saw her again on Saturday but this time she didn’t move or even open her eyes. We knew the end was near. And early Sunday morning, the Lord took her to Heaven. She met Jesus face to face on July 19th, 2015 – exactly one month before her 80th birthday. Oh the joy and pain mixed together in that moment.

This was taken a year and half ago but here is Grandpa and Grandma with many (but not all!) of their grandchildren. 
And several (but not ALL) of their great grandchildren!

I was scheduled to come home on Wednesday but I ended up changing my flight so that I could be there a few days longer and be there for Grandma’s funeral. That was a very hard and sad day but I am so glad that I could be with my family and friends during that difficult time. I come from a very close knit family. My Grandpa and Grandma got married when my Grandma was only 16 years old! They have 8 children (plus spouses), 33 grandchildren (plus some spouses), and 25 great grandchildren (with more to come)!! I love this big, beautiful Luckey family!!

This is the Luckey family members at the burial where we said our last goodbyes to Grandma. 

Grandma, you have left behind a wonderful, godly legacy of men and woman who will follow the Lord behind you. It was a sad, tearful goodbye but one day we know we will rejoice again with you in Heaven. I love you, Grandma. See you later!

(Oh, and my flight back home was extremely uneventful….Praise the Lord!) =)

*Grandma’s obituary can be found here*