Monday, July 22, 2013

the summer of kristen

That's what Aaron has dubbed this summer. I think it has a nice ring to it. ;) I turned the big 3-0 on July 1st. Aaron let me know he had two presents planned. One was a date night to the city on July 6th. The second was my present that was scheduled for July 11th. Those were the only details that he'd give me. Needless to say, I was super pumped! We are both pretty low key and usually do a date night and a small gift for birthdays. Aaron was going all out - I couldn't wait!

I had an idea that he may be planning some kind of surprise. No one said anything and Aaron didn't slip up on any details, but I just had a feeling. Our dinner date was supposed to be in Philadelphia at a fancy and expensive restaurant. Anyone that knows me well knows that I'd rather order a pizza and take the extra money to go shopping. haha. I really do love date nights though, and was looking forward to an evening kid-less. We showed up at my in-laws to drop off the boys. I noticed a few of my good friend's cars parked out front. When we got out of the back door there was a big "surprise!" and there stood 80 of my favorite people. Like I said, I wasn't totally surprised, but when I started to look around, I noticed that it wasn't just my local friends and family. Surprise! There stood my mom, sister and nephew from Pittsburgh, my aunt from Ohio, my friend Sara and her family from Scranton, and my friends the Curytos from North Carolina. I started to cry. I cried harder when Aaron told me that he'd invited my best friends from growing up and my younger sister from Nevada and that they had tried to make it. He had spent months planning, trying to surprise me and wanting me to feel incredibly loved. I found out later that when he was "working late" the night before, he had actually been grocery shopping and setting up tables and tents and working to make the party perfect. I was so overwhelmed with all of the details and love that went into that surprise. That man is amazing. And so are my friends and family. We spent the rest of the day swimming and hanging out and eating. Best gift ever.

Until the next week. I woke up on the 11th to a note from my husband. He took a half day off of work and booked me an amazing afternoon.

The afternoon was perfect and relaxing. I couldn't believe how much thought and time and love went into all of my birthday celebrations. Husband- you did an amazing job of making me feel incredibly loved and celebrated. Best birthday ever. xoxo.

Friday, July 12, 2013

ten months

double digit months. How did that happen?
monthly faves include:

learning to play - SO big!

a new nickname - Graham-apotamus. sweet boy has some fierce top teeth coming in that remind us of a hippo. it's darn cute.

his favorite new face.

good gracious child- we love you so. happy 10 months!

Friday, July 5, 2013

kenya & the neema project

Even before we brought Everett home from the hospital, we prayed Psalms 127:3 over him and hung those words on his wall.

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him" 

With both of our kids, we prayed for them and wanted them and were so excited to bring them home and love them. They were planned for and on purpose. I never worried about where they would sleep and what they would eat. There were parties and gifts and cards given in anticipation of their arrivals. I knew they would have a safe place to call home. I never worried about taking care of them by myself, knowing I had a strong, loving, and faithful husband to walk beside me in parenting. 

In a village thousands of miles from Morgantown, there are women, girls really, who have known none of those comforts. They have been raped, abused, or forced into a life of prostitution to put food in the mouths of their children. They have wondered where there next meal may come from and if their children will be safe for another day. Their stories are heartbreaking. Many of them, teenagers who never made the choice to become moms. Many not wanting the overwhelming responsibility of a child when they were almost children themselves. 

A few years ago, I heard the stories of these girls and the Neema Project; a program reaching these young girls. A program created to educate, rehabilitate, and love these girls in a society and world that had seemingly forgotten them. Ever since hearing about Neema, I have had a special place for them in my heart. I have prayed for them, provided when we could, and desired to meet these sweet girls.

At the end of this month, I get the privilege of traveling to Kenya to visit the Neema girls. I get to celebrate the graduation of a handful of the girls from the program that they have worked so long and hard in. I get the privilege of speaking to them about a God who created and loves them and hasn't forgotten them. I get to encourage them as mothers and women. I am excited and anxious and a overwhelmed all at the same time.

I'd love if you'd pray for me. Pray that I would be able to encourage and love these young moms. Pray that we would continue to build relationships with the people from the village, the teachers and all of the people that we come in contact with. Pray for Aaron as he is responsible for our two little boys for 10 days. Pray for my mother in law and sister in laws as the help us watch the boys. Pray for Everett and Graham- that they would understand that I'm coming back and that they would do okay without me. Pray that lives would be changed, including mine.

kenya team- 2013