Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yay for a lot!

How blessed we are to be fulfilling our purpose in the Lord as teachers during this stage of our life!

Did we mention our two week vacation right now?? Praise the Lord!!! SO needed.

We are taking full advantage of it by seeing all of our family (through the grandparent level) between now and next Tuesday!!!

If only there was a way to see everyone we love this Christmas...everyone in Michigan, Arkansas, West Virginia, etc, etc, etc! We hope all is well with you. Praise the Lord for the birth of his Son...how selfless of someone to send their only son simply to die for our sorry rear-ends? And praise Him that BECAUSE of Him we are no longer sorry rear-ends in His eyes!!

Much to be thankful for. And you are included in that list. :)

--Justin and Laura

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chocolate fountains make people happy at funerals...

What an enjoyable weekend!!

Friday, we went to Russo's Coal Fired Pizza for dinner...um, AMAZING. If you live in Houston, you have to try it! It's a New York style pizza/everything else Italian restraunt and it was fantastic. There's not much I enjoy more than a date night after a tiring week. Saturday, we woke up and ate a yummy breakfast then went and (almost) finished up Christmas shopping. I then spent Saturday night wrapping and wrapping presents, which was enjoyable. Sunday was productive day with a fantastic morning at our new spectacular church, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and baking. I tried to make Cake Balls (cake and icing covered in chocolate). I had planned on taking a picture journey through my Cake Ball experiment, but I got lazy. My bad. (when's the last time you said that??) They turned out okay. I mean, they were delicious. But I only had a cookie dough scoop and a melon baller would have been a more appropriate size for these treats...therefore, one is by far enough.

I took these treats to my sweet friend Amanda's Christmas party where we played AMAZING rounds of Nelson's. Suchhhh a fun game. One of the topics that night was the great chocolate fountain and how they make people happy, even at funerals. Hence the blog title...it made for a very funny round. If you've never played Nelsons, please ask me for the rules because it might be one of the best group games EVER. It was so fun to end the weekend with so much laughter.

Four more days until two weeeeeks of glorious freedom!

Laura (and Justin)

p.s.- I should have guessed that our blog would turn out like this...all "couple" blogs end up being the wife writing about life.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I love Christmas music

I just love this time of year. And my love has been ever magnified being a grown up and being married.

Justin and I finished school last week on Tuesday and went to Body Worlds at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. A-freakin-mazing. I highly recommend it to anyone. I just walked through amazed at every tiny detail of our bodies...what an amazing Lord and creator we have. On Wednesday, we woke up and I cooked my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner and then drove to Conroe for the Nichols/Packman Thanksgiving. On Thursday, we ate and then drove to Lake Jackson to see my family. It was odd to be on the grown-up side of Thanksgiving, but it was such a needed break. We were so rested and relaxed by the time the week was over...then Monday hit. :)

We now have two weeks until Christmas and the kids are getting crazier and crazier by the day. By the 19th, I'm pretty sure we will be teaching the high school equivalent of chimpanzees. We don't get to end our semester before Christmas thanks to our hurrication from Ike, so we have to actually teach these crazy kids that last week before we get out. It's going to be extremely tough. But the reward will be sweet:

2 week vacation.

This Friday, we went to finish off the Christmas decoration necessities (stockings and tree lights) and picked out our tree, which we love. We made a homemade pizza, decorated the tree, and watched A Beni Hana Christmas (the best Office episode...um...ever maybe). We think we will make that a tradition. We may have to take a break when kids arrive until they are old enough/mature enough to watch the Office and understand it, but we sure do laugh at it. We were lucky to get a lot of ornaments from our mom's and also from my Meemaw. She's been giving us ornaments every year since we were born as a part of our Christmas gifts. They are all so special to me...it was a great idea on her part!! Here is our final product. I turned off the flash on some of the pictures to get the "pretty lights" effect.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Exciting? Nope. Good?? YES!

Over ten days since the last post.

Why, you ask???

Because I'm struggling to find blog worthy material. We haven't gone anywhere cool...we haven't gotten a new puppy or cool new gadget...I haven't cooked anything out of the ordinary (though, I am tackling tofu tomorrow night...). We haven't been yelled at by a student or stopped a fight in the past couple weeks. We HAVE been very tired (yay for Thanksgiving coming soon and Christmas soon after that!!!) and busy at school.

In our super(not)exciting life, we did enjoy a very great weekend. Friday, we debated whether or not to go to Body Worlds. We decided to put it off until next week when we have time off (again, YAY! no kids for almost a week...I never realized that teachers are more excited than students for days off of school) and went to the Galleria to go to the Cheesecake factory instead. The best thing about being married is being with your best friend all the time. We just have plain old fun...laughing at each other and the ridiculous things going on around us.

Saturday, I slept in while Justin went to College Station for his graduate class's seminar and then his high school's football play-off game. I stayed home alone all day...which got very boring very fast. Justin's brother Jeff ran in the state cross-country race in Austin (we were sad that we weren't going to make it...but that tuition payment we made is going to good use!!) and he did really well! I have a feeling next year will be his year. That evening, we met my parents and Micaela in Sugarland for her birthday dinner. The big 17! We shared some awesome PF Chang's food and had a lot of fun!

Today we joined our new church, Community of Faith and are COMPLETELY excited. The Lord combined the type of church we love with a sincere world focus that the church was built on. We are REALLY excited. And if we HAVEN'T surrounded ourselves with high schoolers enough yet, we are going to volunteer in the youth. I really couldn't be more excited about the church...the only sad thing is that their Community Groups go in stages and they are about to take a break until after the holidays. So that kind of stinks that we can't get involved in one right away...but we'll be excited when we can!

Someone who works full time AND finds the energy to work-out, please give me tips. I have the energy to do it on a day that I do not have to chase kids around a classroom (yes, even high school kids still haven't mastered the concept of SIT), but during the week I come home DEAD. So yes...this is a call for work-out tips from someone who has mastered the art of...well..GOING to work out!

Love you!!

-Laura (and Justin)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Country

I am tired of hearing that our country has come so far. Because it hasn't...and I say that because I work with the future day in and day out.

The genius kids at my school sent out text messages last night that said "If you hate Barack Obama, protest by wearing all black to school today to mourn the death of our country." Half of my classes were in all black.

Every African American student was wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt...and then proceeded to argue with every student around them.

I took a kid (my camo cut-off t-shirt sweetheart) to the office for the second time today. The first time, a teacher turned him in for racist comments and a confederate flag t-shirt worn to spite Obama fans. In MY class, he had drawn on his knuckle swaztikas. SERIOUSLY? HECK NO!

We may have an African-American president (by the way...so exciting!), but our society hasn't changed at all. All my kids see is color. And that's how they argued allllll day. Black vs. white.

It breaks my heart that our youth STILL thinks this way.

We have a long way to go.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Fun halloween...
As we were carving that little doozy, our very drunk/friendly neighbors came over to introduce themselves and tell/yell stories to us about their famous tennis player friends and their weddings. Very interesting.

We are off work today (election day) because a lot of our schools are polling places. It's technically a teacher inservice day, but almost all of the teachers earned hours to miss work today. So we get to sit and watch the day unfold...which is interesting.

I keep laughing at how people (coughaggiescough) are so afraid of Obama. Afraid??? Seriously, the president does not have THAT much power that we should fear him. God is in control regardless of who runs our country...and He commands us to pray on behalf of our leaders. I know a lot of people who disagree with what I believe and would vote very differently than I did. But you know what? We'll be okay...our government was designed that way. And I have listened to both of them talk...they both *say* they love the Lord (and I am NOT the person to judge otherwise). And even if they don't....he's still the Lord over them!

I had an entire paragraph standing up for my vote and justifying it...but you know what??? I'm tired of people doing that to me. I have no basis or background to do it to you! I will tell you that I have had sweet clarity and comfort in my decision, as has Justin.

Politics isn't the answer...Jesus is. McCain or Obama, I hope we can agree on that. Pray for our leader even if you think he will ruin our country. That is what we are commanded.

Now seriously...let's get this over with so that my students will stop begging me to tell them who I voted for (which is illegal...I was informed that I am state property from 7:15-3:15 which means I can't lobby for or show favoritism for any candidate). I bet Bush is excited...there's someone else we can put blame on starting in January!!! (Except if I have learned anything from the Aggies hating on Fran...everything will still be his fault!)

-L&J

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So many thoughts in our heads...

...so I'll start with the one that least impacts me personally. Today, my 5th period class (as they were working on a review) began discussing the election. One dear boy in wranglers and a cut-off camo t-shirt decides that he is now a political commentator. He says "Obama is an idiot. His policies will ruin our country. I hope he dies." First, no, son, you are failing 10th grade biology...can you call him an idiot? Second...it's not as if Obama can do ANY worse than what we currently have (and yes, I voted for Bush...I'm just soooo over him). Third...SERIOUSLY?!??!?!?! I told him that his comment was possibly the worst thing I have ever heard in my life and that I am disappointed in him. The whole class then begins to discuss their idea that Obama will definitely be assasinated if he is elected. Which gave me pause first because I would hate for my vote to cost a life. But then I began to think of the SEVERE mess that our country would be in if, in fact, their horrible idea would come true. Can you IMAGINE the racial divides, hatred, and violence that will be incited if that does, indeed, come true?? I can't even put into words how much my students' comments made me think today.

Regardless of your political views...pray for the safety of the winner. And for the safety of our nation...because we need it. Especially if the ridiculously hateful people that are in every corner of our nation follow through with what they say they want to do. Praise the Lord that we don't have to fear! He is in control.

Now, to the part that I WANT to talk about and brings me joy:

All week, I have been wrestling with what to say about Sunday. What a BEAUTIFUL God-send Sunday was! It began with Justin and I driving to Lake Jackson for church at Brazos Pointe with my family. The Daraja Children's Choir of Kenya had been in LJ since Thursday, with three little girls staying at my parent's house. Sunday morning, they performed a couple songs and I was BLOWN AWAY. They praise like nothing I have ever seen. It began by watching a video of these children telling us how/why they are orphans or living at the children's home that my brother and sister worked at in Kenya last summer. My heart wanted to burst for them...sweet Josephine telling us how her father died of AIDS two years ago. This beautiful, gleaming, child of God...and all she can talk about is how He has saved her and she can't help but sing for Him.

The message was beautiful. Just beautiful. The theme was injustice which was defined as people not getting what they don't deserve. Think about...drink that in... We live in a just society, which means we get what we don't deserve. Our God is a God of justice...which means He is compassionate (Psalm 116:5), a God of wrath (Psalm 12:5...I love this one so I will write it all out: "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the Lord. "I will protect them from those who malign them."), and a God of rescue (Psalm 35:10). How amazing is that!!!? And what does He command of us??

Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the orphan, plead the case of widow. Isaiah 17:7


Wow. What a command. First, seek justice. Seek out people who aren't getting what they don't deserve. Then he gives us three people groups to demand justice for. The second caught our hearts this weekend.

The orphan.
Carol. Sweet Carol. She is in the first grade at the age of 13. She and her two sisters have been at the Havila orphanage for two months. They were rescued from a coffee farm...and Carol is the oldest. Three girls on their own at their age. I sit here with tears on my face for Carol. She stayed with my family and ALL she could talk about is how the LORD has blessed her and loves her as a daughter. She barely knows a fathers love, but she knows her Father's love. (and she wants to be a teacher...kindred spirits!)

Carol, Josephine, and Varel. They breezed through our lives and I know we will never be the same.

Now, the call. The Lord has called Justin and I to action. First, small actions: we have another child support payment to make every month. We decided to sponsor an orphan (Susan) through the 410 Bridge in addition to Chris who I have had for a few years. The beautiful thing about Susan is that we can meet her! Our next step is likely to travel to Kenya this summer with the 410 Bridge!!!! I am giddy just thinking about it. We are still in prayer about the logistics and money, but we would both like nothing more than to spend two weeks singing with the sweet kids we met last week.

Lastly, adoption. We are passionate about adoption. I have no idea what color, what nationality, or when...but I know when my heart stirs. And my heart was churning for the children we saw. I have an inkling we will end up with an African child because the Lord put Africa on Justin's heart three years ago and on mind since then as well. We are SO open to that door whenever the Lord calls!

Injustice is everywhere. It's the child in my classroom who goes home afraid of her parents. The widow who sits at home alone. The child orphaned in Africa, Asia, America...

Please. Join with the Lord. Answer his call.

Please check out 410 Bridge, Daraja Choir, and consider giving this Christmas to the beautiful faces you will see on this website. There are plenty of places to give on that website and many others.

That was long...but so necessary.

With pouring love,
Laura and Justin

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lazy Saturday

I love days like this. Where it's hard to think of things to do...things you HAVE to do. The only real task we've had all day is cleaning up the electric griddle after breakfast. And Justin did it, not me. We've had such a beautiful day. Except for the fact that I can't find a pair of jeans that fit me to save my life. They're either too low, too tight, to stretchy...etc. Sigh. And it doesn't help that my clothing budget has drastically shrunk. Not that I spent a lot before marriage and teaching, but I had the option of spending more than I do now. Oh well, ugly jeans are a small price to pay for marriage!

On Friday, we had the Cy-Fair vs. Cy-Woods football game. We (meaning Cy-Fair) lost (of course). Poor boys...as an adult, you get to not care about the result but you can't help but feel for the group of boys out there. They deserve a win more than anyone and can't get it. We took Kate and Brian Cruickshanks (Mr. and Mrs. C...it's easier for all of us that way ;) ) with us to the game because we each get a guest pass and Mrs. C teaches at a brand new school without varsity sports (or more important to her, without a marching band). It was a good evening preceded by a long dinner at an okay Mexican restaurant. It was one of those places that you have to wait hours to get in and all we have heard about is how amazing it is...and it was okay, but not worth circling the parking lot and yelling at people coming out to find out where they parked (happened to us by 3 people when we came out).

We slept in (till 8:30...it's hard to sleep much later when you are used to 5 am) and ate a fun breakfast of pancakes and turkey breakfast sausage (if you want pork/beef, do not come to our house...we eat turkey burgers, tacos, bacon, peperoni, sausage of any kind, etc. But don't get us wrong...we still LOVE LOVE beef and pork...we just don't cook it much for ourselves anymore. It's an "eat out" treat).

Tomorrow, we are going to Lake Jackson to see the Daraja Children's Choir of Kenya. It's the sponsored by the organization that Peter and Micaela went to Kenya with and it is composed of children from the orphanage they worked at. Brazos Pointe is so excited because they are housing these kids. My parents have four and are taking them to the Brazoswood HS football game tonight. I'm pretty sure there is nothing more ridiculous/American than a high school football game...especially a Texas football game. That should be a fun experience. I'm so excited to see them and my family!

In other (great) news, we found a church!!! We are so very excited and so very blessed to have found a body that we can belong to again.

-The Two of Us

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You know you were raised in church when...

...you feel guilty for not going when you feel sick. I hate that! We went to church without fail until I was in the ninth grade Sunday morning, night, and Wednesday plus any other time the church doors were open (after that we got involved in churches that were Sunday mornings and small groups during the week...beautiful invention). Which was good in every way except for this way...for now I lay on my couch, unable to swallow due to my sore throat, feeling guilty for watching TV on Sunday morning. My good Christian husband went on to church without his ball and chain. And the guilt multiplies. :)

This weekend we watched more football in a two day period than was humanly possible. And I imagine we'll continue that trend today. Friday night, we went to Justin's school game, which they lost. Saturday we woke up and went to College Station where we sat in the Henderson's living room and watched a bit of the OU/Texas game. We then proceeded to drive to campus armed with an amazing parking pass from a season ticket holder, walked the few feet to the stadium, and sat in the shade on the fifty yard line where we watched the (bad)Aggies lose...again. But it was the best game ever due to the fact that we didn't sweat at all. Not once. And we had cushioned seats. After this defeat, we drove back to Houston and straight to MY school's football game. The Cy-Fair Bobcats decided not to mess up the trend we had collected during the weekend and lost, as well. However, they played AWESOME and just barely lost to one of the better teams in the district (we're on a rebuilding year...so that's a big deal!).

I love my husband...and that is why I went along with that ridiculous weekend schedule. I also love spending time with him...I would do anything to spend a Friday/Saturday night with my cutie.

We have a new next door neighbor...who has this beagle named Toby. Toby doesn't do so well in the apartment on his own. And he expresses his feelings towards his loneliness by howling...and howling, and howling. For hooouuurrrrssss. And then when he hears her garage door open, he howls even louder. And then howls as she lets him out. And howls as he is outside. Yay! Haha...

Right now I am reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (please don't take points off...I can't figure out how to underline on here). It's fantastic and I totally recommend it. I love stories!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wisdom wins out.

Well, the Nicholses have made the "grown-up" choice for us. While we would LOVE LOVE a dog, it would be smarter for us if we wait at least until this summer. We went to the several places and just couldn't find "our" dog. Oh well! We took all of our frustration over this as a sign that it is not meant to be. But watch out...if you have a dog, we will probably live vicariously through you!

My favorite thing about being a high school teacher is that if you EVER tell anyone what you do, they respond as if you are some superhero. In reality, I'm a glorified babysitter. Haha, just kidding, but a LOT of days that's how it feels. It's a constant battle versus lazy teenagers. At least they make you laugh! On Friday, my 7th period had so many good excuses for why they just could NOT work during class. Oh silly kids...you don't fool me!

Justin and I are still struggling to find a church...which is EXTREMELY frustrating. Being apart of Houston doesn't make it easy to search for churches because you may come up with one that is an hour away. It's so hard to draw the line between being picky about what you want and deciphering what the Lord wants for you. He gives us desires for a reason, but they can often be clouded. I guess I just get to spend more time in prayer :)

-L

Monday, September 29, 2008

So, 7th period wants to kill me. I'm convinced. One kid comes in daily and says "Miss, you look real nice today." Everyday. Innappropriate? Yes. Very. He also asked me to homecoming. I didn't answer him...awkward. They also totally test my patience. I have called more parents in that class than all my others combined. Whoop. But they will NOT bring me down...I am stronger. I just feel so bad for all of my sweet kids in there because there are so many ridiculous ones in there! I love how classes can be so lopsided.

In other news...we caved. We own a leash, a collar, 2 dog bowls, and a cute dog pillow. Stay tuned for more news on the puppy front...we're close. We have zero self control. Oh, well.

Oh, and insurance, why do you make yourself so difficult?? Seriously, I have a college education and it takes all of me to understand it. And I STILL have to call my mom for help. Sigh...but I used my insurance/prescription plan today! I felt so adult. But then I realized that it's me paying for that co-pay AND the plan. Boo.

Living with a boy/best friend is awesome. I came home from the doctor and he was washing clothes. Love it!

-Laura

Monday, September 22, 2008

We are strong...

...heartache to heartache we stand. Just kidding. But we are strong...we resisted the urge to get a puppy. Even though one was FREE and so so so cute (you can tell that I am not the one who was strong). We are still a household of 2. Which is probably for the best because we also worked on our budget this weekend...teaching is not the field if you want the moolah...OR if you want to feel comfortable. The amount we want to save each month is almost as much as we make. Oh the joys of living on your own and figuring out life. :)

Pray for me...there are some things at work that are taking my patience and energy (not students...I love my kiddos...) and I really need some blessing from the Lord! It's my desire to bring Him with me to the people I work with...and I can't do that without Him! Enough said.

Gotta go pack my lunch...eh...maybe I'll go to bed instead...and yes, it is 9:00. I'm tiiiired!

-laura

Friday, September 19, 2008

I need to go back to work...

...because all I can think about is buying a house and getting a puppy. The first is not even close to possible because we just got our first big boy/girl paychecks last week. The second...well...i want a puppy! We had talked about getting one next summer while we were out of school...but with my parents coming to our apartment to escape Sir Ike and smuggling my dog in our apartment, it has my heart aching. The shelters in Houston are overwhelmed with dogs from the lovely weather system that has granted us an un-needed week and a half off and I think that it is just the time for us to welcome a furry little friend. But don't worry...we WILL NOT be one of those couples that acts like their dog is a child. That makes me gag. But I do want one. So stay tuned...we may impulsively get a puppy this weekend...we'll see how strong we are.

Speaking of Ike...we're fine. The area is still recovering, though. There are huge areas of town that have no power and stores with no milk/eggs/meat/gas/etc. It's been a very interesting experience, that's for sure. Work starts again on Monday with kids coming back on Tuesday...hopefully.

Oh, and our car failed inspection today...we grounded it for a week because this family is a family of success. Just kidding...but seriously I feel really lame. Now we have to pay to get the computer (which is the problem) fixed so they can make sure my car doesn't pollute. Very frustrating...because there is nothing else wrong with the car. It stinks to be on your own...

-j&l

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kids are funny...

My loudest, craziest student in 7th period (last class of the day) walked in today and looked at me with a big smile and said "You're lucky I came! I thought about skipping!" I wanted to say back "Now, how in the world does that make me lucky?!"

Haha...but seriously...

teaching=great

These kids are AMAZING! I only have discipline problems in 7th period because, for some reason, they thought that it would be fun to put the craziest kids in school who ALL know each other in the LAST CLASS of the day. We'll work it out...they just may not like me for a while ;) This week has been really slow and, quite frankly, boring because there is no way around lab safety. There is no way to make it fun or entertaining...

But boy do I love high school kids...they are ridiculous, think the world revolves around them, break your heart, and make you want to scream....but they also give you such a purpose. I had a kid come up to me today [tardy] and say "Miss, I'm sorry I'm late, but before we start guess what?! I got a part in the play!!" And I wanted to hug her...my sweet, late little girl. And then my precious co-teach (special ed) kiddos make me want to laughcrysmile. They are hard, but boy are they sweeeeet. Then we had a pep rally this afternoon...actually we had two. One half of the school went to the first and my half of the school went to the second. 2 minutes before they rang the bell for us to go, I have a kid stroll into class. He had gone to the first pep rally then SLOWLY walked to class...oh, high school kids.

oh, high school teachers...they might be funnier than the students. one of them today said "you know why we're crazy, right? it's the only way we make it! if we were sane, the kids would just drive us crazy!"
...fact.

Anyways, thank you for the prayers. Both of us are loving it right now. Granted, we get home at 5 and just die of exhaustion (try controlling 30 kids, being on your feet, lecturing, taking attendance, monitoring for cheating, taking up papers, answering questions, monitoring halls...you get my drift...it is BY FAR the most tiring thing i have ever ever done. ever.). School starts at 7:30 every morning...meaning we're here by 6:30...before the sun even gets here. joy.

Love always-
j&l

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All grown up

Justin and I are now real grown-ups. We have started our adult jobs! Justin is working as a geography teacher at a great school and is super excited. I, on the other hand, I'm slightly less excited. As a first year teacher, I am homeless! I have a job at a great school teaching biology (yay!) and environmental science (:\), but I have NO classroom (boooooooo). I get to float between three different classrooms (boo again) teaching two different classes, one of which is a tough discipline issue class. So first year for me is going to be extremely interesting! My sweet sweet husband spent this afternoon while I was at work looking up strategies for floating teachers. One of the ones I saw that I hadn't thought about was to decorate my "cart" (or what my traveling desk/classroom/storage system). This is ABSOLUTELY not what I would've wanted or ever imagined (I'm a science teacher for crying out loud...HOW DO I FLOAT??), but the Lord has given me this for a reason (as my wonderful husband reminded me). My attitude and grace in this situation is going to say a lot about my Savior. Basically, I HAVE to make it work. Pray for me! I'm definitely freaked out...it's enough to be a first year teacher! And the cherry on this sundae is that I was told I was floating and teaching two preps the day before inservice started. Praise the Lord that He is on our side! Without Him, this year will likely end me! But with Him, I have faith that it will be joyous. I'll post pictures of my "classroom" soon...my cart will be the rocking-est cart on the block.

In other news, we are in Olympic mode hard-core! Everything from beach volleyball to water polo to gymnastics. We are loving it. It's amazing to me what some of those people can do. The male gymnists do things that I could not even begin to imagine being possible! It's also been so interesting/strange to watch China try and "pretty" up their image with all of these surface level "changes". It's so strange to see a country think that the world will forget their closed-minded traditions because of bells and whistles. It is a beautiful country and the Olympic games are simply amazing. It's been such a fun week!

Keep praying for us! We get our kiddos on the 25th and we'll need all the prayer you can give us!

Laura

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Married life = good life

So, I'm sitting here with my headache-ing husband flipping between Jon and Kate and the (losing) Astros. I figured it was as good a time as any to update our blog about our trip to glorious Mexico and our (almost) new life.
So, yes, we went to Mexico! We had such an amazing time at a resort outside of Playa del Carmen. It was called El Dorado Seaside Suites and it is the same resort that our sweet friends, the JonesES (I have recently learned how to properly pluralize my own new name and the names of other people that end in an S...thank you fellow grammar policewoman, Beth! I'm so ashamed...you should take my badge away). It was beautiful, filled with British people (which was SO fun), and had the best food we have ever eaten. We just relaxed on the beach all day, ate, ate, and ate. We did go to Chichen-Itza one day which was amazing. The Mayan ruins just astounded us. All of their buildings were so purposeful and designed to keep the people believing that their gods really had power, which in turn helped the government keep them under control. We were also told that every building (and there were HUNDREDS...and even more than that they haven't restored) would have been painted in bright reds, blues, greens, and yellows. It was definitely the history buff in the family's favorite day.

We also had he opportunity to go visit some fantastic friends. A little background here: The Pauls are some of my parents oldest and best friends (as in high school and college) and our families have always been very close. John Paul, who is close to my age, married his new wife on the same day as Justin and I. We couldn't have picked anyone better to share an anniversary with! So when we realized that we were going to the same area of Mexico, we knew we had to meet up. So we both took Mexican taxis (an experience!) to Playa to spend the afternoon together. The new Pauls are going to move to Boston in the next few days and we can't wait to come and visit! Fenway here we come!!! We just loved seeing them and just LOVE them.

When we cam back from Mexico, we immediately went to San Antonio to my sweet Ashley's wedding. Ashley and I have been friends since the VERY beginning of freshman year and have been roommates for two years. She married Ben Carter who is AMAZING and their wedding was beautiful. The Lord was so glorified in the whole day and I know will continue to be glorified throughout their lives together. It was a great way to end the honeymoon because it reunited the Hawktree girls one last time before we spread out all over the country.
Right now, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols are in their apartment in Houston. We officially start working August 14th, and right now we are simply soaking up this time together and with nothing to do. We have our apartment all set up and organized and can't wait to have some visitors. So please...come visit...
Love always-
Justin and Laura

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The MARRIED Nichols


We're married! We're the Nichols now! What a day it was. We had so much help from SOOO many people and we could never thank them enough. The whole thing was beautiful. The tuxes, the dresses, everything was amazing. My sweet Mary helped as the coordinator and her little girl was our "flower girl". She's only 1 1/2, so petal throwing is a little bit beyond her. Our ring bearer was a friend from WV and he was a professional. He pulled Sarah in a wagon and did AMAZING.
It took tons of work, but the stage ended up beautiful. It was very simple (like I like it), but still very pretty. All of the flowers were PERFECT. The cute little English Florist (yes...that's her nationality AND her business name) did an amazing job. If you live in LJ, get her to do your wedding. Plus, her awesome accent is a bonus. She kept saying "it's going to be gorgeous" and her English accent was so reassuring.The day was perfect...minus Justin's ruined groom's cake. It would have looked awesome...but the day was just as perfect without it! I can't WAIT to see all the pictures...these are from amazing friends who took a LOT of the day. They are so beautiful that I can't even begin to anticipate what my photographer's will look like. We had lots of dancing, Aggie War Hymning, and eating. And the cake was AWESOME.
Oh, and FLiC was there...Flove, baby.

Married...:) Come visit us. We'll try and put pictures up of the honeymoon in Mexico (pre-Dolly) soon.
Lots of love-
The Nichols

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Honeymoon is almost here...

Sooo tired...I just want Saturday to get here with everything done. Yay for only doing this once.

And YAY for going to Mexico NEXT WEEK with my bff! I totally know why people go on honeymoons...

--The "I hope I make it to becoming a" Nichols

Monday, July 7, 2008

Scared of aliens

Should I be worried about these aliens you are talking about? You know, I do not see how someone could be a scientist and not see a Creator behind it all. I do not know much about science, but when you hear about how intricate and interconnected this whole world is, it's just too great for something random. Anyways, that's not really my area. If you have any questions about Africa or something, let me know.

I feel kind of guilty about all of the work Laura is doing for the wedding. She seems to be going 90 mph trying to get everything together, and I'm going golfing tomorrow. Today all I did was wash my clubs and go for a walk with my mom. I just hope that she is able to relax enough on Saturday to actually enjoy everything she has done.

It's awkward when certain topics pertaining to marriage come up with family members (including your Grandpa). No elaboration needed. Just weird.

-The current Nichols

Sunday, July 6, 2008

mmm bethany dillon...or mrs. shane?

I'm listening to the beautiful, smooth voice of b. dillon right now and pondering the fact that she is now married to a Shane from Shane and Shane. I can't remember which one, though. My roommate, Rebekah, the resident Bethany stalker would know. ;) Love you, reba. One of her songs, You Are On Our Side, could quite possibly be one of the most beautiful songs that paints one of the most beautiful pictures of our Beautiful God that I have ever heard. I love that the Lord could just stay silent, but still he sent His Son for us. He is on our side!!! I am so thankful and in debt (that is paid) to Him. He is endlessly good to us. Why the Creater of all life would love us, I have no idea!

Speaking of that, I was reading about microorganisms on the internet (nerd) and someone had commented on this article about Archea (which prefer to live in boiling water and/or in super concentrated sulfurous places...how cool?). It caught my attention because the person had said something to the effect of "I can't wait until they find life on other planets. It will be hilarious to see how crazy bible thumpers handle it." And I got mad at first...then I agreed. I was first mad because the bible doesn't discount this idea. Granted, it doesn't say that the Lord created life on other planets. I believe He has created lifeless planets that only serve to bring Him pure glory. Even though we can't see them, they shout to Him in praise. But, the bible also doesn't say that he DIDN'T create life on other planets. After all that I have seen Him create here and the creativity He has expressed through them, I couldn't possibly say that I would be surprised if there were life on some other planet. Our God is BIG and can do whatever the heck He wants. Hence the name God. So, when I first read that comment, I wanted to find that person and tell them all of that plus my stance on evolution and Christianity. But then, I got sad, because I saw what he was saying. How many Christians would argue until their face is blue about something so trivial as life on other planets (likely knowing little to nothing about this topic)? While science time and time again points to God (and I could go on and on), we can't PROVE to a dead set scientist that everything was created by Him. And that's how the Lord designed this whole creation. You can't, in the end, deny He did it...but you can certainly overlook that fact because it requires a touch of faith. And faith isn't proven by a formula or by fossil records. And faith can't be forced. That's what Christians (generally ones who know little about science) try to argue onto the world (and into textbooks).

Am I saying that Creationism isn't true? Hecks no. What I AM saying, though, is that the Christian community has taken things like creation vs. evolution, anti-dancing (STILL ridiculous), anti-gay, and many more and just run wild with them! Now we are to the point that people laugh about how we will handle life on other planets. We should just rejoice for our God is so much bigger than we know! We are flawed...and this is another example. I can't wait for the day when the church is like Jesus! But until then, let's let the world see us as love and not fight, k? (speaking to myself, as always...flawed to the bone)

We had a Tool Party for Justin last week. He got all sorts of manly gifts like hammers and screw drivers. It was fantastic fun. It was great to see my little man so excited about things like shop towels and super puddy. He's perfect...;)

We are all "moved in" to our new apartment. And that is in quotes because our stuff is thrown in there. So technically it is in, but I wish you could see a picture. It's hard to even walk around the rooms because of all of the junk we have in boxes/piles! It's a brand new apartment complex and the drains are doing this weird thing that whenever you turn on the water, they start to smell like nasty sulfur drainage. It was unbearable at first. Then we were told that because it was new, you needed to flush the drains out. To do that, we have to run water down every sink for 20 or so minutes, run the dishwasher several times, run the washer several times, and flush the toilet...over and over. What a waste!!! It kills me to do that! And it makes me kind of grossed out that it is doing this to us. Oh well.

One week :)

--The ALMOST Nichols (L)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our turn

Well, we just got home from the LAST wedding we are attending before our own! Praise the Lord!!!! It was (of course) beautiful. We drove all the way to Brownwood to see my dear friend Lindsey marry Brett. She looked gorgeous and he looked excited. I love looking at the groom as the bride walks in...his face says it all. And Brett was so so happy. After we went to the wedding, we went and had dinner in the thriving metropolis of Brownwood (hehe) with some other dear friends. Bridget and Jonathan got married last summer and are getting ready to move to east Texas. That dinner was one of the most enjoyable conversations we've had in a long time! Those two are so sweet and we pray the Lord keeps them in our life!

Today we went to sign our lease at our apartment. I dropped off a car load of stuff...and I feel like I'm coming undone at my seams right now!!! I'm trying to pack up the house I've lived in for two years and collected massive amounts of "stuff" in. In addition to the horrors of packing, I'm also trying to figure out what is going to Houston with us, Lake Jackson with me for the next two weeks, Mexico with us for honeymooning, and Lake Jackson permanently. I'm not a very good packer. Seriously...I will start to pack a closet, move on to another closet, then the bathroom, back to the first closet...etc. There are odds and ends everywhere and I have NO idea where this will all go in our apartment. I love moving into new places and this move is pretty much the highlight of my life (love you roomies, but it's true), however, it is downsizing. I'll have more space in the kitchen but much less space in the bedroom and way less "working" space. It's a sacrifice that is well worth it, though. ;)

I'm sitting staring at blank white walls right now wondering how I am possibly 2.5 weeks away from marriage. Just yesterday I was a girl who had never kissed a boy (with seemingly no prospects, either!) and today I'm almost my first kiss's new wife! :) God is good.

I had to choose an energy provider today (scary and intimidating)...and figure out how we are going to live without money until our first pay check...SEPTEMBER 15TH! It would be so nice to go to school forever...but that's not possible. The Lord is definitely using everything He can right now to teach me not to worrry but bring it to Him in prayer and petition. It's amazing how He comes through time and time again. The endlessly faithful God for an extremely faithless me. He is so good! (that just doesn't express it...it's so much more than that).

You should come help me move...if you can put up with a bewildered me!

--The (almost) Nichols

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rants and Raves of a Teacher

While I may not be an adept speller (bless you, spell check), there are things about people's grammar that drive me NUTS:

1. When people ask a question but don't put a question mark at the end of the sentence. Example: Are you going be there!! Or Are you so excited!!!!!
That's not right, people. If you want to express excitement, use a question mark and an exclamation point. But please be sure to include the question mark. It's vital.

2. When people misuse your and you're. It's not that hard. I know you can do it if you put your mind to it. You're is a conjunction of you and are. Your is possessive. You're getting basic English wrong when your sentences contain those words incorrectly!

3. When people misuse their, there, and they're. Now, we all slip up and our brain types/writes without thinking...but let's make a pact to check that more often. There is a place, their is possessive, and they're is a conjunction of they are. Not hard.

4. Alot is not a word! If you want to express a large quantity of something you should say "I have a lot of beavers" or "there are a lot of hippies here".

5. It's and its are not the same thing. While most often we tack on an apostrophe s to show possession, in this case, it's is a conjunction of it is.

I'm totally taking off for this stuff next year. My students will whine and complain because their papers that use texting language (and it's not a joke...they turn in junk like that) will be marked to shreds. Cry all you want, dear, you WILL write at least somewhat correctly. And yes, I am a biology teacher. And no, this isn't English class. But just because it isn't English doesn't mean you can write like a 2nd grader.

They're going to hate me...but they'll never ever forget again.

--The meanest soon-to-be Nichols (Laura)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Slow down life, we can't keep up!

We are now 24 days out. Crazy? Yes. I have a list as long as my arm of things yet to be done, decisions that need to be made, etc. Praise the Lord that wedding planning is only a tiny, tiny part of this whole thing. It doesn't help, either, that Justin still has a couple weeks of graduate classes left.

Two days ago, I created the slideshow for our wedding and it was so fun to see little baby Justin! He's way too cute (and still is...) for his own good. I had a lot of visions of my own little ones as I looked through the pictures. Hey, I'm a girl, I can't help it. Granted it may not be soon that we have some of our own, but it COULD happen. Scary thought... This picture could be my favorite of them all...the classy white diaper, ice cream up in his face (which adult Justin doesn't really like), and that cute, cute hair.This weekend, we went to what felt like our 100th wedding this summer. It is so fun to see everyone's take on a wedding. Every one that you go to is a little different, a little more custom fit to the couple. It's fun to see personalities come out in the wedding. This all got me thinking about how our wedding fits us--so much of it I LOVE, but I've had a breakdown about the location. It's at my church in Lake Jackson which is extremely special to me and my family but...it's in a shopping center. I just realized how odd that is...and began to wish that someone had told me that before a month out!! I've kind of resigned to the fact that I'm getting married in an old Weiner's (yes, an old Weiner's store...), but I still wish I had gone the more traditional route. The inside will be beautiful and we are going to work hard to down play the ugly paint color on some of the walls, but people are still going to drive up thinking "what the heck? this is ridiculous!!" And add to that the fact that the church decided to tear up the facade the week before the wedding (thanks for that). At the end of all of this, we will still be married, which is great. I still have that little insecure girl inside me that is freaking out about what other people are thinking about it.

We have been so blessed by the showers and pre-wedding gifts we have been given. While we are still panicking because we are lacking in some necessities (sheets, towels, and pots anyone???), we have been given some fantastic gifts. What's not so fantastic is that they are all sitting in my room taking up loads and loads of space. I've arranged and rearranged all of the stuff, but there is no way around it...my room is a mess. What's even LESS fantastic is that all of these gifts are still in their boxes. I love household items and Justin and I love to cook (you know how they say sex begins in the kitchen?? yeah...we'll be okay!), so it makes me sad that we can't use them just yet. But trust me, I look at them all every night before I go to bed. They're all so beautiful and they're all OURS. :)

Okay, I (Justin) can take it from here. Being in grad school has definitely been hard, mainly because I do not really have time to hang out with Laura that much. She is in Lake Jackson doing wedding stuff as you can see. I am excited about the wedding, (so, yes, to all the people who ask if I am excited about getting married) but even more than that, I am ready to move and get started on the next phase of our life together.

As you may know, Laura and I have teaching jobs in northwest Houston for next year. Sometimes it is a scary thought to know that students who are on summer break right now will soon be sitting in desks wondering how anyone could be that excited to talk about geography. I was sitting in one of my classes the other day, and it hit me that I have so many advantages over my fellow future teachers. First, I know that my success as a teacher has nothing to do with my own skills, and everything to do with God's. And second, I have the best support system anyone could wish for greeting me when I come home from work everyday. Not only is Laura smart and tells me how to do things, but she is so encouraging when it comes to me teaching and working with kids.

About the church being in an old Weiner's, I am not really that concerned. I think it is going to look great. No one will notice the building anyways. The only thing I remember about the past three churches I have been in for weddings is the hymn numbers posted on the walls and creepy floating baby angel heads.

--The (soon-to-be) Nichols

Monday, April 21, 2008

2.5 Months Out

Technically we're not "The Nichols" yet, but we're close! 2.5 months away...82 days. We are so excited! It feels like our whole life has been leading up to this point and we just want to get there! Three years has never felt so short and sooooooo long at the same time.

In anticipation of this whole "moving in with a boy" thing that I am about to do, I decided it would be good to rid myself of all of that stuff I already know I will have no use for. 5 trash bags full of old throw pillows, clothes, shoes, picture frames, and purses. I'm sure it sounds as if I have a "stuff" addiction, but it's quite the opposite. I hate to throw something away that I may use again. Now, why in the world I thought I would use a teal feathered picture frame again, I'm not sure. But I hate to be wasteful...so in a way, all of that extra stuff is really me trying to be frugal.

Speaking of moving in with a boy, it's so foreign to me that this will be allowed in 2 months! All of these years thinking that it would just be easier if we lived together and we're about to! But now part of me thinks that maybe it won't be easier, just better. And better is good.