Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Part 2

Part 2 of our long weekend started on Sunday. A coordinated family photo wasn't the only great part of the weekend ....

Sunday morning started off with church service. I didn't realize that it was such a windy day when I picked out my dress for the day. As soon as I got out of the car at church I handed off Eva and made a beeline right back to our apartment to grab a pair of shorts to wear underneath. I decided not to be the youth pastor's wife that flashed everybody. It was the right choice and it's moments like that when I'm thankful that we only live 5 minutes away.

Right after service our church hosted a family picnic. There was plenty of food and lots of games

 Three legged race - Ryan's team won.

 Water balloon toss - Ryan's team won.

 Egg race - Ryan's team won.

Did you notice the pattern above? Ryan's team won every game. Give somebody else a chance :) What was one of the reasons why he was such a winner? Because I was sitting on the sidelines cheering him on! Or rather, not interfering with his athletic skills. Instead I got to love on this cute face.

We came home from the picnic, Eva took a quick nap, and then it was off to another birthday party! We got to see Ryan's family, including Amanda and baby Mallory! Eva is definitely starting to recognize Mallory when she sees her now.

Happy 6th and 5th Birthdays to our nieces, Kiersi and Kayden. They had a picnic themed party which was perfect for us. We love all of our nieces so much. Kayden was born the summer after I started dating Ryan and I still remember getting to see her in the hospital. Time goes by fast!
Just one of the girls!

On Monday morning Eva and I played in our jammies for a while since Ryan was out golfing with some guy  friends. When he got home we went over to my friend Marianne's for some pool time and a cook out. We were hoping that Eva would nap in the pack and play since we were there for a long time but that dream bubble was quickly deflated. Since nothing says cool party like a screaming baby in the background we decided to let her stay up and boy, was she exhausted by the end.

I love this photo of Eva and her "Aunties." I hope that she grows up and loves my best friends as much as I do because they are awesome. There were some men folk at Marianne's too, but we only took girl pics. Thank you, Auntie Erica, for the beautiful summer dress Eva had on! We love it!

Now that the weekend is over we're back to real life. Back to house cleaning. Back to grocery shopping and laundry doing. And back to apartment hunting. At least we squeezed in every moment of fun we could!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Part 1

Happy Memorial Day! Eva got the memo about staying up late on Sunday having fun, but I guess she missed the one about sleeping in on Monday morning. Bummer. Since I'm up early with this sweet girl I decided to blog about the first 2 days of our Memorial Day weekend.

Our family fun started on Friday since that is Ryan's day off now. We decided to check out the Bob Jones Nature Center in Southlake. It was really just this big hiking area with a beautiful butterfly garden. I used to take my 2nd graders on a field trip to the prairie each year so I was able to teach Ryan and Eva lots of interesting facts. I know Ryan learned so much.

We were able to borrow this baby carrier from a friend and it worked out perfectly. Eva was so happy to hike along with us! I'm sure that most of the year this place has hundreds of school kids but on Friday it was just our family. So peaceful.

Peaceful.... until we were chased by a squirrel! Most squirrels will see you and dart the other way but not this fellow. He seriously chased us for about a quarter mile making his little squirrel grunts all the way. We walked faster and faster trying to loose him but he kept up. It was creepy.

Safely back at the car! Eva was happy when she saw that I had packed her sippy cup and even happier when she realized that I had put lots of ice in it. No need to ever buy her a present, just give her a sippy cup of ice water and she's thrilled.

Mama and Eva at the butterfly garden. There were still tons of Monarchs fluttering around. I would definitely recommend this place for a short family outing. Eva loves nature!

Friday afternoon we went home, took naps, and then splashed in the pool for a bit. Friday night Ryan and I were invited to a 50th birthday party at Buca di Beppo. We had never been there before and it was great! We went with a group from our new church and they were a fun group. The best part was the huge desserts that we got at the end :)

Saturday morning we got up and hung out in our jamies for a while. Eva napped and then it was time for Hawaiian Falls! We were there about 2 hours after they opened. We all enjoyed splashing in the wave pool and floating the lazy river together.

You can't tell by this photo, but Eva loved to people watch and play in the water. Ryan and I took turns holding her for a bit so we could each ride a slide.

Saturday night we went to a friend's 5th birthday party! I love this photo of Eva and her friend Aundrea. She was so happy to play with her.

 A 50th birthday and a 5th birthday in the same weekend? Yeah, we're pretty crazy :)

Happy 5th Birthday, Avery! She's the one dressed up like Dorothy about to blow out the candles. Her birthday was a Wizard of Oz theme. We had a great time! 

We had a busy Sunday and have big plans for today - more Bradley adventures to follow .....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is it too hard?

In case you missed it, I recently posted this update about where we are in life. We are in a situation that is definitely shaping us to be more patient, to trust in God more, and to wait. This morning I was reading in my Bible from Jeremiah. The book of Jeremiah is the story of God warning the Israelites of what would happen as a result of their disobedience and also God's promise to ultimately restore them. Jeremiah 32:27 says, "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"

If you know God, and know what the Bible says, the answer is clearly no. Nothing is too hard for the Lord to accomplish. I find such peace in that. I'm not dumb, I know that most of the world would look at our situation and think we're crazy. We are moving in about a month, but we don't know where. We aren't sure what Ryan's job will look like. And yet we have peace. We have hope.

We don't believe that the Bible teaches that if you're a Christian you will be rich, healthy, and have everything you think you want. That's false. We do believe that God has a wonderful plan for us. Somebody once told me that there is no safer place to be than in the middle of God's plan. Every day we are asking God to lead us and direct our path. We just want to go where we need to be.

I believe that if God has planned for Ryan to have more clarity and direction about his role in ministry in the next month, He will do it. I believe that if God has planned for our family to move to be near the church He wants us at, He will do it. The fact that everything needs to happen more quickly than seems possible isn't a stumbling block to God. And I believe that even if it's really hard, if God has planned for our family to experience trials as a part of our testimony, He will allow that to happen but will never leave us or forsake us. Nothing is too hard for God.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Just Another Tuesday

Does it look like this girl is about to crawl? Maybe so ... but not yet. She can roll over and over to the bookshelf and is quite excited to see all the books that are almost within her reach. She gets so excited to try to crawl but mostly just balances on her tummy and wiggles her arms and legs. We're working on it.

Guess how many eggs I cracked in this bowl? 2? Nope. Just 1. I cracked open an egg today that had 2 yokes! I didn't even know this was possible. I was so in awe. I kept showing Ryan, who was trying to work, and even had him google it. I found out that chickens hardly ever have twins. Sometimes there are 2 yokes, but rarely does it result in 2 live chickens. Interesting.

This was the tasty dinner I made tonight - Avocado Chicken Parmigiana. Thank you Pinterest for great recipes!  This one was pretty healthy and very delicious.

And this was our dessert. Cookie dough cake drops! The other night Ryan needed just 6 cupcakes to take to a Young Life event so I used the rest of the cake to make cake balls. I created the recipe above using french vanilla cake mixed with vanilla frosting. I didn't have any almond bark or candy coating to dip them in so I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and poured it on top. I didn't take the time to dip the cake since it was an experimental dessert just for us.  It turned out sooooo good! It tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough but is safe to eat since the cake is already cooked. (Does anybody really not eat cookie dough? I always chance it). Enjoy with a glass of milk and you have the perfect snack for watching the finale of Dancing with the Stars!

Oh no, is that a burglar? Umm, no. It is the maintenance worker who is painting our building. We knew that the workers were out painting earlier. When I was making dinner I saw the ladder going up past our living room window so I knew they were nearby. We sat down to eat and saw the ladder moving over towards our balcony and dinning room area. And then we saw the worker climb over the balcony. Right there. As we were eating. Thankfully, he was coming to move stuff closer towards our patio door so it wouldn't get paint on it, but it sure seemed like he might be robbing us. Plus it was super awkward because we were just sitting there eating our wonderful dinner on the other side of the glass. He seriously just hopped over the balcony, moved our patio furniture, and hopped back over without talking to us. I kept looking at Ryan and laughing, and then tried to take a sly picture as he was on the way out. Even re-imagining the moment right now is cracking me up.

This was our day.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wedding on the River

Outdoor weddings are so beautiful. This weekend Ryan was a groomsman in his friend Mason's wedding. Mason and his bride Jackie chose to get married along the river in Liberty Hill, Texas just outside of Austin. 

Let me give you a million kisses!

The first step for us to get to the wedding was to say goodbye to Eva. It was my first time to leave her overnight and it was so hard to leave. I knew that her Nana and Papa would take great care of her, but who would take care of me? Seriously, she was the one laughing and smiling. I was the one crying. It didn't help that she had a little tummy bug that morning and I was still a little worried that she might be sick. After a few hours though I knew she was feeling better and decided that it would be a good thing to have a short break from being a Mama.

Bye, Eva! I love you soooo much! I promise to come back tomorrow!

Trying not to cry too much. But how could I just leave that sweet smile?

Once we were finally on the road we were excited to get there. And since we left about 3 hours later than planned we were in a bit of a rush. Of course, we still stopped in West, Texas at the Little Czech Bakery. Some things are just necessary. I love kolaches!

Finally at our destination! This was the resort where the wedding was held and where the wedding party stayed all weekend. It was the craziest place. Here is the website so you can see for yourself. Wild, but fun!

Our room was actually outside of the main lodge in a streamliner. The whole inside was decorated from top to bottom in a "Cowboys and Indian" theme. As in, every square inch was covered. 

The bathroom. Even the toilet cover was themed. When I walked into this place I died laughing. Some very creative person picked out all of this.

Sadly, we didn't actually end up sleeping here. There were a few unexpected critters that wanted to stay there with us. We ended up letting the scorpion stay and we found a room at a local hotel late that night. Probably a good decision ... Ryan was still able to hang out late at night and be back there in time for breakfast in the morning. 

The wedding started at noon and it was so beautiful! Mason and Jackie are some fun loving hippies so this was the perfect ceremony for them. I loved the backdrop of the river and hills behind them. Very romantic. After the ceremony and brunch reception we all changed into our swimsuits and floated in the river.

Wacky groomsmen. Since Mason and Jackie aren't so traditional, neither was the attire. Check out my handsome hubby in his orange bow tie and suspenders!

What a charming hunk! My black dress fails in comparison to his beauty.

I was so thankful to make a new friend, Kirsten. She is married to Ryan's highschool buddy, Steven. I was actually at her wedding a few years ago but didn't really know her before this weekend. We had a fun time hanging out with Kirsten and Steven and I was happy to have a friend to talk with when the guys were busy with wedding things. Plus she's a mom too, so we were both missing out little babies.

The wedding party! I made this photo larger so that you can see how the whole ensemble went together. I loved their wedding colors.

 The brunch. Creme brulee french toast, fruit, eggs, and bacon. I always enjoy breakfast foods.

And for dessert? Not traditional wedding cake ... but a whole table of pies. Oooh, I really like pie too! What a feast!
Mason and Ryan have been friends since 8th grade. Mason was actually one of the first people Ryan met in school after his family moved to Royse City. I know they have some crazy stories that I should probably never hear about.

Congratulations, Mason and Jackie! Thank you for letting us share in your wedding weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life's Great Adventure: Chapter 3

When Ryan proposed to me years ago, he asked me specifically if I would join him in serving the Lord. I said yes, and so began our sweet adventure together in ministry. The first part of our adventure together began as newlyweds. I was teaching 2nd grade and Ryan was finishing college (and working at the Olive Garden!).  We attended Denton Bible church and Ryan volunteered for their Student  Ministries. The second part of our adventure began when we moved to Roanoke. Ryan got his first real grown-up job. We served hard. We were blessed with Eva. And now the third chapter of our life begins....

If you sat down with me in my living room and asked, "Kate, what's been going on in your life lately?" I'd have an earful to tell you. I've wanted to write this post for a while but every time I sat down to do it, I couldn't find the right words.

Redeemer Church, where Ryan has worked as the Director for Student Ministries, announced at the end of April that the church as a body was entering into a time of transition. From the stand point of being a spouse of a staff member, I can tell you that this was a hard decision to make and that our church leadership has put lots of time into praying through all of the big choices that are ahead of us. Our church was planted in Westlake a little over three years ago. Ryan and I joined when he came on staff about 2 and a half years ago. Even though we were sad to leave Denton and the great church we were a part of there, we knew that this was where God was calling us to serve. We knew it 2 years ago when we moved to the area. We knew it a year ago when I quit my job to stay home with Eva, not knowing at the time that Ryan's position would become full time within 2 weeks of my last day at my previous job. We've had a love for our students and have been blessed to build relationships with so many people in this area.

After a few weeks of having home church in our Pastor's house, it was decided and announced that Redeemer would be merging with Bara Church, another local nondenomenational plant church that meets in Trophy Club. The people at Redeemer are so, so wonderful and it is our hope that most of the congregation can transition to Bara and remain together. Our first Sunday at Bara was last week for Mother's Day and it was awesome to see both church body's be merged together to worship God and hear true, Biblical teaching. How awesome is it that we live in a country where their are so many good churches and we are allowed to worship the Lord freely? Pretty awesome.

So, where does this leave our family? Oh how I wish I could answer that question definitively right this moment. But I can't. Right now Ryan and I have begun meeting with Bara's student ministry and this Sunday will be the first time for us to transition and have hopefully all of our Redeemer students meeting with the Bara group. Ryan is technically on staff at Bara but it's such a unique situation that is dependent on God's plan for us and on the resources that are provided to Bara. In an update that we sent to our close friends and family a few weeks ago we said that we want to go where God calls us. If God's desire is for us to stay here and serve, we will gladly do so with the trust that our daily needs will be met. If God calls us to another church family, we will go, being sad to leave behind close friends but looking hopefully towards our next season of life.

We do know that we are moving out of our apartment by July 2nd when our lease ends. We know that God's love for us is true and sufficient. We know that either a decision to stay or a decision to go will require an act of faith. Times of transition are always challenging, but we can consider it pure joy when we face trials because that is how God shapes our hearts and builds our character. Every time I get that rush of fear or feel the tears building I remind myself of who God is and what our ultimate purpose is. And I promise you, that every single time that I have spent time reading my Bible instead of sitting on the couch crying, I have felt the comfort and peace that comes only from Holy Spirit. It's real. I pray all the time for God to lead us to where we can tell the most people about Jesus. That Jesus died for our sins. That by faith we can be forgiven and find love in our Savior.

God is good all the time. Not just some of the time. Not just when you have all the answers. All the time. Thank you to our friends and family who are joining us in prayer for our next great adventure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And the award for athlete of the year goes to ..... Kate Bradley!??!?!

Friday night Ryan and I had the honor of attending the Westlake Academy athletic banquet. We got to cheer for some of our graduating Seniors and Ryan got to stand up with the baseball team because he was the assistant coach this season. 

When they shared all the great things about this group of Seniors I was beaming with pride! Thank you to those of you who have blessed Redeemer Student Ministries. Ya'll are some awesome athletes!

The baseball team - State Finalists! This group of guys worked hard to improve their game this year (so Ryan tells me). Ryan got to announce each member of the team and his speech was definitely the best. I may be biased, but he kept it short and energetic. Way to go, Coach Bradley!

Here's a good a team photo taken before the State Championship. Ryan loves these guys and hopes to help out with the team next season.

And just for clarification, I was not given any sports award. I have no athletic skills.