Tuesday, December 22, 2009

City boy in the country

What happens when a city boy gets married and moves to the country?!

Yep. That is Brett. In the bucket of the tractor. Why was Brett in the tractor? Our gutters needed cleaning -- badly. Why use a ladder when you have a tractor?!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This and That

December is half-way over and I've just now logged in to update. I've let Christmas get a little overwhelming this year and I've finally stepped back and simplified every thing (like I should have at the beginning.) I'm proud to say that other than a few miscellaneous items I'm going to pick up today, I'm done shopping! :)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my online friend Adrienne's blog, please take a minute to pop in and meet her new daughter, Lily! Adrienne and her mother-in-law are in Korea now and will officially pick up her new daughter at 11 pm CST! Words can't express just how excited I am for Adrienne, Jim, and their sweet family!

Also, on the right sidebar I have a link for the Bloom bookclub. Bloom was started by Angie Smith and her friend Jessica Turner last fall and they just announced Bloom's new book selection. Starting January 24th we'll be reading Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. I read Crazy Love with Bloom and thoroughly enjoyed the community that this group offers. If you love to read, check it out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. God has blessed me beyond measure and paltry words can do little to express it.

Lord, you knew the deepest desires of my heart and chose to bless me so richly. Thank you, Lord.

I'd like to leave you with some of the pictures we took last weekend up in Mentone and Fort Payne. God's handiwork is quite amazing, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A space to call my own

I feel totally accomplished this evening! After months (OK, more like over a year!) of major procrastination I finally cleaned out our home office. It had gotten so bad that it was impossible to walk more than three feet inside, let alone actually get to the desk and set up my laptop. I've desperately needed some space to work on my genealogy and the dining room table was buried under layers of family tree printouts, census records, and tons of pictures!

Setting the office was symbolic in a way, too. It was my way of accepting the fact that we're here to stay.

And now? I finally have a space to call my own.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I am a planner. I like to have things written out in black and white weeks in advance. I'm the type who begins planning a trip weeks (if not months!) ahead of time. I'm not a big fan of sudden changes or surprises. It's probably not a big surprise that I tend to be weak in the faith department at times, too. I know that God will always have my best interest at heart, but I'd much prefer it if he'd send me a memo every now and then. :)

Brett and I have been praying about our "Plan A" for the better part of a year. We applied for jobs (Brett interviewed with his top choice back in April), found the perfect house (not once, but twice!), and prayed and prayed that the job would come through. It didn't. Another candidate was chosen and we were left back at square one. We felt 100% sure that this was where we were supposed to be and kept applying for jobs and looking at houses. At the beginning of November we gave up on "Plan A" and asked that the Lord open whatever door we were supposed to walk through. The next morning the company that Brett interviewed with in April re-posted the position he wanted. He re-applied for it and we crossed our fingers and prayed. That same afternoon he also applied for a much better job where we're living now. The company here offered Brett a very generous job offer. It took him 10 seconds to accept it.

A part of me is disappointed that we won't be moving to Nashville, Tennessee any time soon. Truth be told, I felt a little bitter that our "Plan A" didn't turn out to be God's "Plan A." In the midst of my self inflicted pity-party, a well known verse in Jeremiah came to mind...

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

In spite of all my well laid out plans, if they are not of the Lord, they will not be prosperous.

That last sentence has a little bit of a bite to it. I've literally spent the last five minutes reading it over and over again. I don't always want to hear it. Sometimes it can actually be painful, but at the end of it all...

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:4-7

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I've spent the last 3 hours immersed in records for the town of Leon, Alabama. My g-g-g-g-g-grandfather's family settled in the Leon community back in the 1820's and most of the town's records are relevant to my personal genealogy research. The Leon Cemetery is actually on land that was originally owned by my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather, William Merrill, and was first used as a Merrill family cemetery. Over the years it was used for friends, neighbors, and eventually the entire community and was officially named the Leon Cemetery.

All of my Merrill ancestors in the Leon community served in the Alabama 37th Regiment of Volunteer Infantry in companies C and D. As I was looking through the burial section, I noticed that there were several mentions of other Leon families who had links to my Merrill ancestors. As was common back then, most of these close neighbors married amongst themselves and their children who fought in the Alabama 37th were related to some degree. This new information also means that over 80% of the people buried in the Leon Cemetery are related to my family and need to be inputted into my family tree.

Translation: I'm going to be busy this afternoon! :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Long time, no update. :)

I can't believe it's been so long since I've really updated over here. We've had a lot going on (both personal and professional) and my online time has really taken a back-burner. I'm very grateful that things seem to have calmed down and we're mostly back to normal. :)

November is a busy month around our house. I'm knee deep in my genealogical research and I'm hoping to take a road trip up to Franklin, Tennessee to visit the Carnton Plantation to document some of it in person. I'm also hoping to take a side trip to Blount County, Alabama to visit a cemetery that many of my ancestors are buried in. We'll be in South Carolina for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving and Brett's grandmother's 90th birthday. Our 3rd anniversary will roll around while we're in Aiken, so hopefully Brett has something up his sleeve for that! I'm hoping to sneak a trip up to Scottsboro before Thanksgiving, too!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Missing New York (Semi-Wordless Wednesday!)

I am really missing New York this afternoon. I absolutely LOVE living in the south, but there's a tiny part of me that misses Niagara Falls. I miss my family up there most of all. I was never really able to develop a close relationship with most of them and that is something that bothers me to this day.

I was looking through boxes of my grandmother's old pictures (think early to late 1950's) that were taken when they were starting their family in Niagara Falls. The pictures preserved a type of unadulterated innocence that this generation missed out on. The town is SO different now. For those of you who have visited the area more than over the past 10 years, you know exactly what I mean.

As I wrap up what was supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday post, I'll leave you with some more pictures from our January/February trip up there. Keep in mind that this was Brett's first trip up there (even though his dad was born in Buffalo)! :)

I just adore this picture of Brett! This Florida boy was COLD!

My great-grandmother worked here until she retired at age 83 and moved back to Alabama.

I love this picture of Brett and I. As soon as we got home, I framed it!

This is one of my favorite places on Earth! I could eat here every day...literally.

For reference, Brett is 6'3".

Niagara Falls State Park. For the record, the sign is accurate, too. We found that out first hand!

P.S. I added a new song to my playlist this afternoon. I've tweeted several times (and blogged!) about "Hosanna", my favorite song on Selah's new CD. Christy Nockels has also recorded this song and she does an awesome job with it! Listen and see for yourself!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sufficient Grace

2 Corinthians 12:9 has been speaking to my heart now for the past several days (and when I say speaking to my heart I really mean making me bawl my eyes out and lay myself bare before Him.) I'm partial to both NIV and NLT translations, but this verse speaks to me more powerfully in the NIV form.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:9

According to dictionary.com, the theological definition of grace is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. Free. Unmerited. Favor. Love. God places no price on His love. It's free. None of us are worthy of His favor, yet He gives it freely out of love. I'm prideful, selfish, stubborn, spiritually weak, and a laundry list of others too great to count, yet God clearly states that His power is made perfect in my weakness. My weaknesses are nothing to be ashamed of; according to 2 Cor 12:9, I should be proud of them for they make me more malleable to God.

On a wonderful side note, today was the release date for Selah's new CD, "You Deliver Me" and I can honestly say that this is my favorite Selah CD to date. Brett and I had the great honor to listen to several of the songs back in March and April and were SO excited when our copy of the CD came in the mail yesterday. I can honestly say that my favorite song on the entire CD is "Hosanna" and I've probably listened to it AT LEAST 10 times today alone. If this CD doesn't open your heart to worship Him, I don't know what will.

Pete Wilson, pastor of CrossPoint Nashville, is giving away 5 copies of "You Deliver Me" on his blog, so stop in and enter!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Godly Wife (and a Kaden update!)

My job description has changed these days. I'm still staying at home, but I'm not content to just be a stay-at-home wife. I seek to be a godly wife to Brett. My daily goal is for him to see the love of Christ through me every day. Headaches, dirty dishes, overloaded washing machines, and clogged toilets (sorry for the visual!) will happen, but through it all I know I have MUCH to be thankful for.

I stopped in at a small local store on Saturday and bought a small canvas to hang in the kitchen. It wasn't just the colors or design that caught my attention, but the words. The two sentences printed on it sum it up quite nicely, in my opinion. Thank God for what you have. Trust God for what you need.

Thank you God for my wonderful husband.
Thank you God for my loving parents and fabulous in-laws.
Thank you God for my awesome friends who are more like family than mere friends.
Thank you God for a pastor who truly loves our family and is always there for us.
Thank you God for the means and ability to enjoy our hobbies.

Yesterday C and her mom brought Kaden over to our house for a quick visit. Kaden is fast approaching 6 months and is already starting to scoot all over the floor! He's doing really well and we're all very thankful for God's healing and protection. His "big" urology appointment is on September 2 and I'll be riding down to Mobile with them to lend moral support and plenty of laughs! Please be in prayer for this appointment.

Kaden had his first experience with grass yesterday afternoon and it was so cute. He seemed fascinated with the fact that he could pull it up!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A little of this, a little of that...

I've been reminiscing a LOT lately. The past few years have had a lot of ups and downs, but I can honestly say that I wouldn't change a thing. I know that sounds a bit trite, but each of those experiences (and several Max Lucado books!) has helped draw me closer to the Lord. With His help, I've been able to overcome the bitterness that I've been carrying around for 3 years.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or who are on my Facebook, this will be old news, so just bear with me! My dad, Brett, a good friend of ours, and I drove down to Mobile a couple weekends ago and came home with a Kawasaki jet ski. Our lake cabin is right on the edge of the lake and the river channel, so we have two completely different waterways to ride on. Brett prefers the open lake and I love riding up the river. There's something about riding 50 mph through the curves of the glass-smooth river. Each time I go out on it, I always forget to bring the camera. The sunsets out there are just incredible!

Please pray for my mom as she goes in for surgery tomorrow morning at 6:45 CST. We hope that she'll be able to come home Friday (or Saturday morning at the latest).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

There is a time for everything...

A lot has happened since my last blog post, but I've been hesitant to post about it here or on any other public forum. As of yesterday afternoon, I'm no longer employeed with THSC. I enjoyed my job and most of the people who worked there so in a way I'm upset, but after months of prayer I feel like God opened another door for me. I'm going to use this time to get some much needed organization done around the house and focus on my ancestry research full time until God leads me elsewhere. Brett has been absolutely wonderful throughout this and has supported me every step of the way.

I have a complete feeling of peace that can only be from the Lord. Even though my thoughts are all jumbled and I'm having a hard time focusing on anything right now, I pray that He will use this situation for His glory.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Proverbs 22:6

I took a much needed break last night and jumped on the four-wheeler (barefoot!) for a ride in the back pasture. I haven't done that in several years and I was amazed at how young and carefree I felt as the wind whipped through my hair and the grass slapped against the bottom of my feet. (Yeah, I tend to kick my legs out and not use the foot guards. I know that's totally not safe and I don't advocate anyone riding like that!)

Things like that make me realize just how blessed I was to grow up out in the country. I used to complain about watering the garden, spending my Saturdays cutting the grass/bush-hogging, and waking up early every single day to feed the horses, but I'm grateful for every minute of it. When I was 18, the only thing I could think about was getting out of our small town as fast as my car would go. I never knew how much I would miss our little country church with Fall Festivals and hay rides, Sunday dinner with my whole family, riding the horses down the old dirt roads, and sitting down with a good book under the shade of the old pecan tree.

As Brett and I get closer to starting our own family, I look back on all these memories and I realize how important it is to me to be able to provide those same experiences to our kids. As I was riding the four-wheeler last night (watching the fireflies - which is pretty rare around our place!), one of my favorite verses came to mind.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am so grateful that we have had many opportunities to spend time with our out-of-town family, both at home at and down in Fort Morgan, Alabama. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, so here you go! I promise to have a better update here in the next few days!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Well, almost wordless anyway!)

Our family spent Father's Day at the lake riding the jet boat, grilling steaks, and just enjoying each others company. Sophie finally was allowed her first ride on the jet boat, too! I really thought the noise would scare her, but she proceeded to march herself up to the front seat in the bow and take her rightful place as co-captain. This baby LOVES boat rides! Brett and I have a secret hope that she'll be Sawyer's new girlfriend, too! :)

I have a very important "unspoken" prayer request that I'd like to post about. Us Southern Baptists are very familiar with our "unspokens", but for those of you who aren't, please know that I'll post details as soon as I possibly can. At this time just know that each one of your prayers can make a HUGE difference in this situation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week has been full of unpleasant surprises and irritations and I've really felt the Lord gently reminding me of all I have to be thankful for. Today is the perfect day for a Thankful Thursday post!

I am very thankful for some of our wonderful new friends. They really exemplify the meaning of "the Lord's vessel." Thanks guys! :)

I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, even when we don't see eye-to-eye on everything I think we should. He has always been my rock and I love him more everyday.

I'm thankful to hold a full-time job in a less than desirable economy. We're very blessed and sometimes I think we really take it for granted.

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

These are a couple of my favorite pictures from the past couple weeks. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Famous Ancestors

I've spent the last few hours playing around with Ancestry's Famous Relatives search option. I'm astounded to see the eccentric mix of entertainers, artists, writers, presidents, and royalty.

On my Alsabrook side I'm related to:

Judy Garland
William Faulkner
Truman Capote
Audrey Hepburn
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
Bette Davis

On my Rawls side I'm related to:

Emily Dickenson
John Steinbeck
Elizabeth II
Eugene Delacroix

On my Merrill side I'm related to:

Emily Dickenson
Samuel Adams
Julia Child

There are a few more that I'm checking out to be sure they're accurate, but the list so far is pretty interesting! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Flip Flops, Sunblock, and Ziggy Marley

What do those three things have in common? Summertime! At least summertime around our neck of the woods, anyway. :) We kicked off summer a bit early this year by finishing up our jet boat and taking her out for a couple spins up the river.

This boat was the last project that my dad and I picked up together before I moved down to Florida. We bought her in January 2004 up in Wetumpka, Alabama while my mom was up in New York for a couple weeks. She came home to yet another project that needed a friend (or six!) Dad got the boat running in 2006, but pulled that motor out after only a couple weekends. She sat in the garage for the past two years collecting dust. Dad and Brett got the itch to bring her back out a couple weeks ago and we all finished up late Saturday afternoon. Here are some pictures from her maiden voyage! :)