Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Looking back on 2019

Where am I supposed to start?!

To begin with - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you! I hope that you all had a beautiful holiday season <3.

It's been a year since I sat down and blogged. It wasn't EXACTLY my intention. I told a friend (hey, Alyssa ;)!) that I meant to "catch up on blog posts and then take a break for a few months". Except I never caught y'all up. And I was gone for more than a few months, if you couldn't tell. To any of you reading this after I left you all hanging for so long, I appreciate you! I honestly considered just not blogging anymore. Life has been busy, my computer is slow, I started running a social media ministry with a friend (hence I didn't need to blog to share theology type posts), and so it just wasn't a priority. But we're looking at another move (more on that later), and that means two things: I'm going to need an easy way to keep a lot of people updated at the same time (because I have been really bad at emails and texting real updates lately), and I'm absolutely going to find myself in need of a place to write again. Blogging is good for me - it's a productive way for me to process things. I might delete half the blog post before I publish it, but that means I've been able to sort out my thoughts through the writing process, which helps me, and then what I DO leave and publish, keeps everyone up-to-date, so it feels like a productive way to do so. Plus, I'm in process of buying a new computer (I had one too many meltdowns over mine this December, lol), so I'm hoping that will take care of that issue. I can dream anyway :P.

For those of you who would like to see what I have been posting while I've been "missing"... this is the new social media ministry that my friend Claire and I officially opened up April 16th, 2019! Everyone should get themselves a Claire <3. She and I "met" when we both started working for KBR ministries a couple years ago. When KBR closed, we weren't ready to be done serving the Lord together... we took the same time and skills we'd been putting into KBR, and decided to turn it into Down the Narrow Path. I feel like 8 months later I'm still kind of figuring this out (again, a truly working computer is going to help this, haha! The past three months have truly been rough in that department :P...), but I'm so grateful for the way Claire inspires, and encourages me through working with her (and inspires and encourages other girls through that work!), and how even though we don't get a chance to sit down and chat very often, I can always know it will be an edifying, faith strengthening time when we do. I'm prayerful that the Lord will use Down the Narrow Path to bless those who find it, and I am hopeful that it will continue to grow over the coming year :)!

This past year has been a busy, changing one for the whole family. It's going to be hard to do it justice in one blog post! Lol. Tori turned 18 this fall, and we celebrated her birthday with a trip to Savannah <3. It's been our favorite vacation spot since Daddy worked with FCS, and so it was a blessing to get to go again, take the boys to the beach for the first time, walk the squares, and just enjoy some time together. Tori also graduated right before her birthday, and got her permit this summer... it's been a busy year for her alone! She's taken on a lot of responsibility and babysitting since I started working, and the bond that she and Isaac have is so absolutely precious <3. They sit and listen to classical music together all the time... she said she wants to give him a good foundation before the others teach him to like Veggietales music, haha ;). She's seriously going to make an awesome mom, she gets such delight out of teaching Isaac and seeing him develop <3.

Bethani is 14 now. I can't tell you how many times in the past year I have said "I want to be Bethi when I grow up"... haha! She's got so much confidence, but not obnoxious confidence ;), and she stays so motivated and busy. She SAYS she's not a very organized person, but I just want to be about half as on top of things as she is right now, lol! She's been working so hard this year, began to write stories, and now is writing her first novel!!!  I can't wait to read it, but APPARENTLY she has to edit it first. Haha ;)!

Andrew grew up this year. Like, that's not even an understatement, haha. At the beginning of this year, he was still shorter than me. By the fall, he was my Dad's height. Literally six weeks later... he was an inch and a half taller than Daddy, at 13. He tried to put on my work shoes the other day as a joke, but it looked like the ugly stepsister trying to put on Cinderella's slipper, haha! He and Isaac have this fun new thing they do together... Andrew holds Isaac on his shoulders, and Isaac can touch the ceiling. Isaac thinks it's the coolest thing! I've definitely called Andrew my big brother on accident before, and he won't let me forget it ;).

Abbi turned 11 this year, and she's decided that when she grows up she wants to work with blind children just like Aunt Tessa. This isn't just an idea, either - she's actively working for it right now, teaching herself braille <3. She got a braille writer for Christmas, and it was absolutely the most exciting thing for her! She and Emmi have also taken to writing, inspired by Bethani, and Abbi worked hard to participate in NaNoWriMo this year :).

Emmi is 9 now... It's so weird, for the family who used to be "all girls", for our baby girl to be less than a year from her double digits. How did this happen, y'all?! Along with writing stories and keeping up with Abbi, Emmi loves to read and just absorbs knowledge... she reminds me of Tori at her age, and she usually has an answer to the questions the little ones might ask. It's not uncommon to hear "Emmi, how do you spell...?", haha :).

Our little sweeter Peter... he's 7 now, and he still instinctively knows when someone needs a hug <3. Peter learned to read this year! He learned in his own time (we think that,w so many people to read to him, there was little motivation to read on his own, haha), but now he amazes us with how quickly he can read when he wants to.

Josiah is 5 going on 45... of course, he's been going on 45 for 5 years now, so there is no surprise there ;). The biggest thing that happened to Josiah this year was that... he got glasses! I scheduled Mama an appointment when I scheduled my yearly this year, and though she complained that she didn't need it enough to want to go, after seeing what a huge difference her glasses made, she insisted on getting everyone in for a check up. Abbi came out with distance glasses, Peter came out with reading glasses, and Josiah, little bud, came out with a full on, whenever his eyes are open he wears them, prescription. Apparently his vision is second only to mine in how bad it is, haha. I think I was far more excited for him than he was, knowing myself how much it had changed my life to get glasses, haha. He also grew out his hair... my mom has always buzz cut his hair, as it is easy and he never shared a preference... until Tori overheard him tell Peter, "I wonder when my hair will grow like yours." She told him that his hair DOES grow just like the other boys', but it gets cut shorter, and he was a little indignant, lol!

Noah is 3... and I call him my little Imp. He's our true "Abbi like an Andrew", but also a Bethi Jr.... and extra sassy and cocky to boot, and he keeps us constantly on our toes and constantly laughing! His commentary on life is absolutely hilarious, and Mama has said multiple times, she wishes she could attach a camera to his head for even just one day, it would be irreplaceable footage. Every time I go to work, he reminds me, "Don't forget to bring me home ice!" Then when I come home, he'll often tell me "You are the RIGHT Bri!"... because I work with two other Bris, and it was the most unsettling thing to him to meet one of the others this fall, haha! He's my little snuggle bug... if I get to stay home late in the mornings, I can be sure that he's going to come climb in bed with me, and I always look forward to it <3.

Isaac is 16 months already... the past year has just gone by so fast. I mentioned earlier that he loves to listen to classical music with Tori...but he also loves the song Baby Shark, so, he has conflicting music tastes, haha. I was tired of this song before my family heard it, hearing it enough at work, but it's totally his favorite thing, hahaha. He also loves sea turtles. And food of all kinds (except bananas?! Which is unusual for our family). He's a big little guy... his growth curve has him slated to be 6'5" when he's grown. That's crazy, lol. He has curly hair, which he got cut for the first time in December. He looked so much older instantly, it was very bittersweet. Thankfully, he's still got his curls, they're just a little shorter. He's beginning to really talk... and it's absolutely precious <3.

As far as our little pets go, our birds are still as naughty as can be, and quite temperamental...but I have gotten them to let me hold them without biting me... as long as I am offering food ;). I'm hoping to really work with them more this coming year. We are considering getting their wings clipped again, which will help, and I'm having more success with Misty, now that Dawn accepts me grudgingly and doesn't set her on edge. We also acquired two little frogs, birthday presents to Abbi in August, which she raised from tadpoles... these little guys are already as tame as the birds, eating from her hand nightly, haha!

I had planned to take the classes to get certified as a special needs caregiver this fall, but because Daddy was looking for a new job and we expected a move, there was no guarantee that my certification would transfer over to whatever state we ended up in. So, I have continued to work at CFA in the meantime. I'm going to miss the people I work with when we leave, and have been offered multiple places to live if I wanted to stay, but as much as I don't look forward to a move, I want to stay with my family, and while I'm grateful for the sentiment that prompted the offers, I am definitely moving as well (it's always everyone's first question when they hear my family is leaving, so I thought I'd just answer, lol!). I did get my driver's license this summer, and have taken some practice caregiver tests which I've passed, so I'm excited about jumping right into getting certified after we move!

About the move... it's been a wild, slow ride, y'all. Back this spring, we had a friend over for a two week visit. The first week she was here, Mama tore her calf muscle, and was on crutches for a week. Before Mama was back on her feet, we found out that, instead of closing *some* of the stores, as we had been told, LifeWay was closing *all* of their stores. Their reasons aside, this came as a major shock to everyone, and my Dad's store, which was one of the top stores in the company, was also one of the first to close. He was given a recommendation to apply to Tractor Supply Co. by one of his former bosses, and he set up an interview right away. He had two interviews, and was told they were definitely interested in hiring him after his store closed. The Tractor Supply 5 minutes from our house has been available twice since he started looking for a job, but they've been too quick to fill it both times, lol. After his store finished, he came back to Tractor Supply, and also applied to various other companies; he was even interviewed by Bye Bye Baby, but that ended up falling through. The day before his last severance check, he saw that the Tractor Supply location he had applied for had been filled, and he started filling out more applications; immediately started filling out applications, and was in the middle of that when he got a call from Tractor Supply, saying they couldn't tell him what store he was getting, but they were willing to take him on as a manager, being paid more than he was asking, and full pay from the beginning, rather than MiT pay, if he was willing to take the job. With the timing and how everything played out, Daddy accepted the position, and has been training out of state since November. His training is over in February... we don't know whether we'll know where we are headed before that, or not, so that has been nagging at all of our minds, haha. It's definitely going to require a move, though, as he must be placed within the district he was hired in. It's going to be hard to leave... we had expected our last move to be our last, we have a wonderful church that it will be disappointing to leave, and, if I'm honest, for me personally, SC is home. I remember, back when Daddy had a chance to transfer back here from VA, I bawled my eyes out at the thought of moving and started over again. We had settled in in VA, most of my old friends from SC had moved as well, and I hate change (even for the better, sometimes, as silly as that is). Daddy didn't get the transfer that time, and I thought I was relieved, but then, when the manager LifeWay had meant to send here ended up not working out, and the same opportunity was available just 6 weeks later, I had thought about the idea enough that I was excited about it, hard as it was to leave VA. When we got back here... I realized just how much this was home to me. We passed the Toyota car dealership, that I hadn't thought about for 4 years, on our house hunting trip, and I cried because it was so familiar, haha. After we got moved and settled in, we stopped at Lowe's home improvement store, I stepped into the garden center, and I felt like I was 8 years old again and Daddy and I were getting some yard supplies for our weekly Wednesday afternoon yard work. It's just been little things like that... plus, since we've been back, I've put down even more roots, maybe more than I have put down anywhere ever before, and it's just going to be hard. But every move we have ever made has brought it's blessings along with it, and so I'm trying to be content, if not excited, this time. Prayers for the next few months as we make this transition are greatly appreciated <3. We are grateful that Daddy has been able to make frequent visits back home!

I took part in the Reece's Rainbow MACC again this year. It was an absolutely AMAZING round this year!!! I was advocating for Jeremy, and not only did he reach goal... *All* of the babies either met goal or found their families!!!! And early in the evening, last night, too... It was the best, getting a front row seat to watch God using the generosity of so many people to touch the lives of these little ones! I'm already so excited about next year! It was neat, too, just to be working with a lot of the same advocates that were involved last year (and years before that, but last year was my first). Once you get involved in this, it's so hard not to want to continue!

That's a quick, short, very undetailed "newsletter" catch up on the past year... And that's what you'll have to be content with, because a year is a really long time to catch up on ;). I don't know how often I'll be posting, or even what I'll be sharing, because I have some ideas but nothing really solidified yet... But I'm grateful for each of you who care to take the time to read, and I hope your 2020 is full of Christ's work in your life bringing hope and joy no matter what the year holds <3.

Rejoicing in the hope of salvation,
Ambrielle <3

Monday, December 31, 2018

It's the Last day of the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign!!!

Hello all!

I just wanted to share with you an update on the Reece's Rainbow adoption agency's Miracle of Christmas Campaign that I have been sharing throughout the month! The goal for this campaign was to raise $1,000 for each of the little ones on the angel tree, to help their future families in the adoption process, and to raise awareness for their need for a home. You can learn more on Reece's Rainbow's site, but I wanted to share a special little boy with you one last time; Scott.

Scott is the little boy that I have been advocating for this year, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the help that you have been to this little one. We have raised over 600 dollars for his account, and that is truly amazing. THANK YOU for all the money, prayers, and shares that you have given for this little man!

Scott is about five years old now, and has many special needs... But the most important special need? He needs a family. 

And for a family to adopt him is going to mean adoption fees and for them to see his page, and we have the ability to help that happen! Scott is still under goal, as are many of the children this year, and he needs just over $360 more to get to goal, by midnight tonight. Would you consider helping one more time? A donation of a dollar, five, fifteen, twenty-seven... Whatever you could spare, it has the potential to change this little boy's life forever. And that is amazing! And every time you share Scott's page, it has the potential to change his life forever. So today, would you please consider doing that? Donate to his account, or tell someone about this campaign, or pray for Scott to get the funds and family he needs. We have less than 13 hours left to make a difference for Scott during this campaign! His account can be found here: . And thank you, so much, for your help! I appreciate each and every one of you!

And a happy New Year's Eve to everyone <3! 

Rejoicing in Hope,

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thankfulness Thursday

It's a Thursday evening, and this was supposed to be the fifth Thankfulness Thursday post on my blog this month.

It's the 29th of the month, and I'm supposed to have posted my recap for October by now.

It's been two weeks since I started an impromptu blog post after something happened during my day that I really just wanted to share my thoughts on.

It's been over a week since I felt like I truly recovered from Write31, haha. There is such a thing as "too much of a good thing". Writing is my thing, I truly *have* to do it. But writing for everyone to see every single day can be just as draining as it is helpful.

Life is full, and it's good. It's also cold, but don't tell my mom. But it's been too long - I've been so busy I haven't even journaled. And so - it's time to write again. Because it's just as draining to not write at all. And balance is key, right?

There are so many small things that I am thankful for right now. Sweaters. Soft blankets. (Y'all know my obsession with fabric. I know these things usually make the list... humor me. I'm always cold and I like to pretend I'm in a soft, warm cloud, okay ;)?) Being paid 2 cents to buy a book I've been eyeing for months now. Sandwiches made from leftover rolls. A walk on a chilly day with a couple of my favorite people. A crochet hook in my hand. (I have decided that I'm gonna start selling Granny square blankets sometime, y'all. They are so therapeutic to make. But they have to pay for their own cost if I'm going to keep making them, haha.)

The things that seem small, but really aren't. Putting up the Christmas tree with our favorite Christmas CD, hot chocolate, and spending the time reliving and adding to those traditions that make the season one I look forward to. A text from a new friend, letting me know that she wanted to pass on some information that she thought would help me. Kind words and a helpful hand. Isaac's laugh.

Some big things. All of you who have donated to little Scott's adoption fund. I can't thank you enough! And that Ronald has found his family, after being on the angel tree for 3 years now. How kind the Lord is! Finding unexpected blessings where I didn't look for them, and learning more about the balance of resting and investing.

I don't have a lot of time to sit and write down the things that make me smile in a day right now. It makes me sad. And yet, you know what, I am such a creature of routine... I would probably write the same things over and over, because they never get old. Snuggling Noah before we get up. Washing my hair. A cheery hello from the lady who bakes the cookies at Chick-fil-a. I love once-in-a-life things, too, but I find the most joy from consistent, anticipated, looked for moments. There have been a lot of those lately. So if my list looks the same as last year... it might be boring to read, but there is truly so much thankfulness that goes into the writing of it.

And I'm thankful for each of you who still check in on my little blog after it's been so quiet (after being so busy!). I know I have several posts I have promised to share that are still in drafts, but I just haven't been able to do them justice yet. I'm hopeful not to be quite such a stranger in the coming weeks. But no matter what, you each make me smile when you read and comment!

Rejoicing in Hope,

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign ✽ Meet Scott

Lookie who's back already ;). You knew you couldn't get rid of me, didn't you?! Haha :). I wanted to share some news with you today, so I hope you don't mind very much ;).

Welcome to November! I always love the start of a new month, but today is extra special, because the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign is open as of today!!! This means that from now to the 31st of December, Reece's Rainbow Adoption Agency is trying to raise 1,000 dollars for each of the sweet babies on the "Angel Tree"! This is something I look forward to each year, seeing all the awareness raised for each of the children and watching their accounts move up the tree, from 0 to 100 to 500 to 1,000... and knowing that it's helping each of those children have a better chance at being placed in a forever family to love them and protect them <3. In the past, I have donated to an account or two (usually the one furthest down on the tree, because it makes my choice easiest, because, in the words of Abbi, how do you choose how to help?!). But this year, I really wanted to do something a little more involved, and so, I am little Scott's advocate this year! You've already seen Scott on my blog last week, but please be introduced to him a little more formally...

You can visit Scott's page for more information HERE.
How do you choose who to help? It's so hard, truly, and I would love to see all of these children climb the 1,000 dollar wall this year, so please, help wherever you want! But, I chose to sponsor Scott specifically for a couple of different reasons. I started out looking through the files of 0-5 year old boys with "other" special needs on purpose because I knew that 1. Reece's Rainbow is known for their down syndrome focus, so many people would be choosing from the down syndrome pages, and 2. it's a known fact in adoption that boys are harder to place than girls, and so I wanted to up one of these little guys accounts, so that when a family came along for him, they had as much help as possible :). Then I combed through the pages, opened several accounts, narrowed down to the three who touched my heart with the least amount in their grants, and asked to be assigned one of the three, haha :). Scott's story definitely touched me - he's a little fighter, that's for sure! He'll be about 4 years old now, and I would love to hear that this little one who has been through so much was placed in a home!

I would be thrilled if any of you would like to donate to Scott's account - or to pray that he would find a loving, godly family to call his own! When you donate to a child's account, 10% of the money is dispersed in other children's accounts, as well, so you will really be helping multiple children :)! The goal is for Scott's MACC account to be at $1,000 by December 31st, and I can't wait to see what God will do with this year's campaign, not just for Scott, but for all of these little ones on the tree this year! And I want to thank each of you right now for every bit of help that you give <3!

Rejoicing in Christ,
Bri <3

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Reformation Day and Goodbye Write31!

Happy Reformation day, y'all!

October 31st...
...the end of a busy month.
...Reformation day.
...our "Christmas kick-off" evening.
...the end of the Write31 challenge.

Where has the month gone? 3 weeks ago, I was asking, "why can't it be Christmas right NOW?!" and "how am I going to keep up these posts this month?!" Today I woke up and thought, "How is it already the end of October?! It doesn't feel like it's time yet, the year just started and it was so far away!"

We had a fun, busy day today. After working a short morning shift, I came home, showered, and crashed on the couch for an unplanned short nap while my younger siblings watched a Martin Luther animated documentory... opps, haha. But then I was ready to go for all the other festivities ;)! We made little crafts to go with a bible study, treats, and read through some history books and Luther's 95 theses. And colored some beautifully detailed, reformation themed coloring pages, which always reminds me that I love to color and I never do it, haha.

After our reformation "party"... we celebrated our Christmas kick off with chili and a popcorn night with our first Christmas movie of the year :). (Except, technically not our first this year, because I didn't get to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" last year, so I made everyone watch it with me in early January this year, haha... so, first of the season?) Yes, I was counting down the hours until I would be making hot chocolate and could play some Christmas music. I am telling y'all, I am intent on living this upcoming Christmas season to the utmost. Don't ask me why it feels like such a big deal this year compared to others, but I am so happy it's close, haha :).

And now, as I am looking at wrapping this month up, the only thing left to do is post on my blog one last time! I made it the whole month. It wasn't easy, and there was really no theme or even as much prepration as I had wanted in my posts, but I persevered anyway, and I think that I am happy to have done this challenge one last time, before it closed :). The funny thing is, I still have 3-5 posts lined up in my head right now, even after writing for 32 days straight (I posted September 30th, too!). So, despite being busy, I hope to work on those here and there throughout the week and be able to share regularly here still, though not daily. I really do enjoy blogging, though I prefer to do so without pressure to achieve a goal, haha. I have enjoyed the friendships I have found through it, and I am thankful for each of you taking the time to read my posts on my simple little blog. Thank you for joining me this month!

May the Lord bless you and keep you, and give you peace!

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3