Football + Family Traditions

My husband has been graciously nudging me back to this old blog the past few weeks. He keeps reminding of how much I enjoy writing and that I need to just start writing again. And he’s right, even though my creative juices feel like a thing of the past right now, I know that the desire to write and share my heart with you, my friends, is still here…somewhere…so I just need to write. He even gave me a blog topic to write on this week, just so I didn’t have to try to brainstorm one (he’s super sweet). So here it goes…

Jason moved to Tucson three years ago this coming September! I can’t believe that it’s been three years already. It feels just like last Fall I flew down here to help him move all his stuff into the apartment, but in reality, a lot of life has happened between then and now. A Lot.

That first weekend I came down to visit Jason, he had found cheap tickets to watch the U of A football team play their home opener against The Citadel. Jason knew that I LOVED football and spending a night watching two college teams play with the pigskin would make me feel SO much better about leaving him in this hot desert land for four months without me. So we enjoyed our first ever college football game together and it was wonderful. HOT, but wonderful to experience something that I had loved since I was in my mother’s womb with the love of my life.

First UofA game

Fast forward a year and I had moved down to Tucson after the wedding and it was the start of football season again. I was aching for something familiar, so Jason once again purchased tickets to the U of A’s home opener. We learned that year that you can park & ride much much cheaper, so we got to the parking lot early and grabbed Chic-fi-la for dinner and rode onto campus. And If I remember right, the Wildcats crushed Northern Arizona and it was so stinkin’ hot! (one of the downsides of living in the desert is that football season doesn’t feel like football season till almost November)

Football game with friends!

Football game with friends!

Fast forward again to 2012,  a client of mine gives Jason and I tickets for one of the best seats in the house because he and his wife can’t make it to the home opener. We parked at Reid park, grabbed Chic-fi-la and rode the bus to the stadium. That night is one that we will remember for ages because it was about 110 degrees, with thousands of people surrounding us, and we had forgotten to bring cash for water…so we were hot, dehydrated, and maybe a little grumpy! To top it all off, the Wildcats decide to let NAU get in the game and the game goes into DOUBLE overtime! We got home close to 1am (did I mention that we are diehards, even if we are hot, dehydrated, and grumpy?!).

wildcat football

 

And It was at that game, that we realized that we had created a family tradition for the Wood family! A tradition that we both love and enjoy. Traditions have always been an important part of my growing up, so when I realized that we had created something to pass on to our family, my heart was full.

Tonight we are headed to our 4th home opener! We are looking forward to parking at Reid park, grabbing dinner at Chic-fi-la and taking the bus to the stadium (and hopefully a great win for the Cats!)

With being married 2.5 years ago, this is the longest standing tradition we have as a family! I’m looking forward to the days where we can take our sweet girls to the home opener and share with them our family tradition and love for football!

What long-standing family tradition do you have? Or what tradition are you hoping to cultivate for your family?

four lessons on transitioning well

Anyone who knows me well knows that I struggle to transition into different life stages. This was not always the case. My mom recalls my first day of kindergarten with no tears and no looking back. When I moved into my first dorm in college, I nearly pushed my parents out the door. I loved new seasons and all of the new experiences.

Then I moved across the country. I thought it would be the same experience.

I was wrong.

My husband and I were married on January 1, 2011. I woke up the next day and burst into tears!! My poor new husband didn’t know what was wrong with his brand new wife and I couldn’t explain what I was feeling.

Looking back, I know that I was feeling all of the losses I was about to endure in the next few days and months. You see, we were meeting our family for breakfast, opening presents, and then we were moving away from everything I knew…to Arizona of all places.

the day after our wedding

the day after our wedding

I knew this move was good (Jason had a job!), but at that moment all I could think about was the loss of my last name, my city I’d lived in for 8 years, my friends and family, and my comfort. The only thing that settled me down was a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears in the playoff game (that would make any day better).

All in all, I was a mess.

When we arrived in Arizona, I felt disconnected and lost. I cried EVERY SINGLE day for 6 months. I was always talking about when we could move back and how I just couldn’t do this anymore (poor husband…a word to new brides-don’t do that). I hadn’t prepared my heart for this transition. I was too busy preparing for our wedding.

For those of you who are facing transition or are in the midst of transition, I want to pass on the some words of encouragement to possibly give you some hope and help.

1. Give yourself grace and prepare your heart. Right now you may be preparing to make a move, get married, have a baby and it can consume your time. Don’t let it. Give yourself the time to seek the Lord in preparing your heart for what He has to teach you in your upcoming transition. Enjoy the season that you are in right now, embrace the gifts you have been given in your current season. I had made myself too busy to spend quality time with the friends and family I was leaving. And when you are in the midst of your transition, give yourself heaps of GRACE. Don’t believe the lies that Satan will try to use to discourage you (for me it was a sense of intense loneliness and the lie that no one cared that I was all alone).  Feel what you need to feel, but be careful not to let it overtake you. Always go back to Jesus.

2. Find a friend or a mentor who has already walked this type of transition. I did not do this when I first moved and I felt SO ALONE. By God’s grace, an old friend from college noticed a comment I made on Facebook and sent me an email. She had struggled with a move across country after marriage and she recognized my pain through my words. If it hadn’t been for the encouragement through her words and listening ear, my transition may have taken a much longer time. If you can find someone who you know who will listen to you, encourage you, and just walk through this new season with you, don’t be afraid to ask.

3. Make time with Jesus a high priority. God teaches us through every life circumstance and He grabs hold of us in unique ways during transitions.  He knows that in communion with Him you will find a peace, joy, and wholeness found nowhere else but in Him. There were days  I spent hours in the word, in prayer and reading Jerry Bridges’ Trusting God Even When Life Hurts. It was in that time where I came to truly believe God will work this out for my good and His glory.

4. Sometimes in order to see your sin, you have to walk through a hard transition. This was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn. I had become very comfortable in my old life. I had a strong community of friends and family who I went to with any hardship, joy, or frustration. When I moved, I had no one to go to for comfort or approval.  It took me a long time to realize part of the reason God moved me was to strip me of my comforts so I would run to the ultimate Comforter. Jesus wanted a relationship with me more than He wanted me to be happy in my community.

And finally, it does get better! Two and a half years later I have a community and I love our city. I have also learned to hold on loosely to the things of this world, or at least I’m learning!  There are days when it’s still hard, but I continue to remember that God is for my good and for His glory. He is for your good too!

Do you have any other suggestions for people who are in transition?

 

Live Your Story

when you feel like you have 700 million things to do

I woke up this morning feeling groggy and anxious again. The never-ending list has seemed to haunt my dreams as of late. The fundraising letters, thank you cards, fundraising plans, dishes, laundry, care packages, blog entries and the list could go on were whirring around my heart this morning and into the afternoon.

But all I wanted was for it all to be quiet.

The days of feeling like I have all the time in the world to get things done and I’m actually checking things off the list seem to be a distant memory.

Just yesterday my husband was updating a friend of his on our adoption and he mentioned how we are in a season of waiting and don’t really have much to do right now. I laughed to myself and shook my head as I looked at my long to-do list, with most of it regarding our adoption. It was then a little voice quietly spoke to my heart, “Sarah, you’re becoming bitter and discontent again.”

I was and to be honest, I’m still fighting off bitterness and discontentment. The toddler in me wants to throw a tantrum because I just want one thing in our adoption to be over! I would love to use the double “F” word (fully-funded) or to say that we have passed court. I fight the fear that my emotions and anxieties will take the better of me through this process and I don’t want to be defined by being an anxious busybody.

I long to be quiet. Not just the noise level, but I long for a quiet that washes over this tired soul and lifts it up to a peace that passes understanding.

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zeph. 3:17) 

This morning as I was washing the dishes and putting away the laundry, I stepped outside and gazed at the summer sky. I took a deep breath, and prayed that God would quiet my heart. And for a moment, He did. I pray for more of those moments.

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Yes, there will always lists to complete and I will have to work hard at times to help bring home our girls, but in order for me to stay sane and to enjoy this season that God has placed me in I need to take captive my thoughts and cling to the truth that Jesus brings quiet to my life even when there are 700 million things on my to-do list.

How do you quiet your heart and mind when life seems out of control?

California Vacation

Our 2200 mile road trip through Northern California will definitely go down as one of our favorite vacations! We were able to do all of our favorite things…read, sleep, rest, talk, drink lots of coffee and wine, eat very good food, explore a new city, hike, sit by the ocean, and take a few crazy adventures.

Here are some pictures to document our trip:

We spent a night in Palm Springs and have found it to be a new, fun weekend trip!

We spent a night in Palm Springs and have found it to be a new, fun weekend trip!

Palm Springs is about a 5.5 hour drive from Tucson and we (Jason) thought it would be a good place to stop before we landed in Monterey. We were right on with that decision. We stayed in a small inn called the Movie Colony Hotel. The community aspect of this hotel was unlike any other place I’d been before. We’d love to go back!

We started the long drive to Monterey the next morning. It was one of the prettiest drives that we’ve taken. Pacific Coast Highway is a beautiful route to take, but don’t take it if you want to get somewhere fast! Thankfully, we wanted to take our time. We stopped at Paso Robles on the way for a wine tasting and we were served by a fellow Green Bay Packer fan! We enjoyed Niner Winery for a wine tasting and lunch.

Niner Winery's outdoor seating

Niner Winery’s outdoor seating

Once we arrived in Monterey, we were a little disappointed with our Inn’s accommodations, but the location was phenomenal. We actually stayed in Pacific Grove, which is a small community next to Monterey that is very quaint. The ocean was a 7 minute walk from our door, so every morning we took a walk by the ocean and watched the waves crash against the rocky beach.

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While in Monterey we went to the aquarium. If you ever get a chance to go to Monterey, the aquarium is a MUST GO. We were able to see sharks, deep-sea fish, all kinds of jellyfish, seahorses, etc. The facilities were beautiful. It’s a perfect spot for families as it had many “kids corners”.

so many exquisite jellyfish

so many exquisite jellyfish

everybody loves penguins!

everybody loves penguins!

so many diverse fish in this huge tank

so many diverse fish in this huge tank

After our trip to the aquarium, we walked around the cannery district and then had a small dinner at a restaurant by the bay.

we were able to do some reading at the beach

we were able to do some reading at the beach

love this

love this

a beautiful view of the sunset on the bay

a beautiful view of the sunset on the bay…and some yummy wine

After our two days in Monterey, we started the trek up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) again to Sonoma County. We stayed at Sea Ranch Lodge in Sea Ranch, which is a small vacation village. This was my favorite leg of the trip. Our room was right on the ocean. The lodge was so quiet and calm that I felt like we were there for a week, not just three nights. It was there that my spirit finally started to feel at rest.

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my favorite sitting bench…I think we’ll need to get us one of these…and maybe one of those views

taken on one of our hikes

taken on one of our hikes

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i love the power of the ocean

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i love this guy

we are ocean people

we are ocean people

Another favorite part of the trip was our wine tasting day. We drove the wind-y drive to Healdsburg and went to 6 wineries. It was such a fun experience to talk to all of the people and learn more about how wine is processed. We loved wine before, but this trip gave us a deeper appreciation for how it’s made and the people who put the effort into developing yummy Pinot Noir’s, Zinfandels, Cabs, etc.

a very fun day

a very fun day

After our quiet, restful few days in Sonoma County, we headed back south to San Francisco. A city booming with people and activity. We were able to do some fun touristy things and also connect with one of Jason’s long time friends and his wife.

can anyone guess where I am?? ("everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there's a heart, a hand to hold on to...")

can anyone guess where I am?? (“everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there’s a heart, a hand to hold on to…”)

Lombard Street...why would you build a street like this? (I know the actual reason, but come on...)

Lombard Street…why would you build a street like this? (I know the actual reason, but come on…)

our tour guides for the weekend...love you Dave & Jennie

our tour guides for the weekend…love you Dave & Jennie

took a cable car ride!

took a cable car ride!

and of course went to Ghirardelli Square

and of course went to Ghirardelli Square

took in the fireworks on the 4th of July at Fisherman's Wharf

took in the fireworks on the 4th of July at Fisherman’s Wharf

And that was a “brief” recap of our vacation! I hope that you enjoyed the picture tour! There were so many other pictures that we took, but Jason wants to be able to use them on his blog too, so I just used mine. Our vacation was very special to us as it will more than likely be our last as a family of two. We are excited to see what our vacations will look like as a family of four!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Ocean Calms my Soul

So it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted. Part of the reason is because I’ve been on vacation and wanted to try to disconnect from the internet world as much as possible. The other reason is because I’ve been low on words to say lately. Everywhere I look I feel that other people are saying what I want to say more eloquently. I’ve been enjoying using my time to read and connect with  friends and family, but I’m getting the itch to write again!

Our vacation was wonderful. The days we spent in Monterey and in Sonoma County were some of the most relaxing times I have had all year. There’s something about watching the waves crash against the rocks as the tide rolls in that calms my spirit like nothing else. In the mornings we would go for walks around the rocky beach and every day I was reminded that God is FAITHFUL and POWERFUL. As I sat by the powerful, yet calm ocean I would sing Oceans by Hilsong United and tears would run down my face.

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Tomorrow I’ll share more pictures and some of the fun things we did, but I wanted to share today how my heart found peace again on our trip. Now the hard part will be to continue to hold on to Jesus when the storms of life are still a reality.

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
[x6]

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

 

Today I linked up with Desire to Inspire (A Royal Daughter‘s weekly link-up)

 

Five Minute Friday: In Between

adoptionannouncement

These little shoes have little feet to fill them.  Those little feet are on the other side of the world, where my heart is.

We are living in the in between of not being parents and being parents. Every morning I wake up and wonder what our daughters had for lunch and if they are laughing and playing with their foster mom. Every night I pray that they are sleeping with full bellies and healthy bodies. Knowing who my daughters are, but not being able to care for them is just plain hard.

The in between stage for the majority women is a well defined 9 months. When people ask us how long we will wait, I go into a rehearsed speech of why it could be 7 months or why it will more than likely take at least a year for them to be in our arms and then explain that there is always the chance it may never happen. Every time my heart hurts when I speak those words.  I do not do well in the in between stages of life.

It’s here in the in between that I have found a deeper need, no a desperate need, to hold on to the One who holds time in His hands. He is the Only One who will be able to hold me in this season of longing for our daughters, to having in our arms and have our hearts filled with their presence. He is who I cry out to every morning, afternoon, and evening to be near our babies and to be near me.

I have found something special here. My loving heavenly Father is nearer now than ever.

In my in between.

Today I linked up again with Lisa-Jo Baker & her Five Minute Friday community. Every Friday a one word writing prompt is given and for five minutes you share your heart on what that word means to you.

Did you read my post where I shared my heart on the loss of our first referral? You can check it out here.

How We Vacation

In about three hours my hubby and I will be driving out of the 116 degree temps of Tucson and hitting the road to tour Northern California! I’m so excited that I couldn’t stay asleep. So while, my husband is still sleeping, I’m going to share with you how we vacation.

My Idea of Vacation

My Idea of Vacation

My sweet husband and I vacation very differently! It’s one of those differences between us that we didn’t realize until exactly 17 months in when we were on our postponed honeymoon to the Cook Islands and New Zealand (it was awesome by the way). I am the type of vacationer that likes to sit by the ocean or on the back deck and read till my heart’s content or talk walks along the beach or hikes in the mountains. My husband loves to be doing something, seeing something because in his mind if we traveled there, don’t we want to see as much as we can?

Jason would tour this city all day!

Jason would tour this city all day!

I totally get that, but I am an introvert and an HSP (highly sensitive person…I should post about that sometime…), so having a lot of noise, people, and just stuff stimulation wears me out and makes me feel a bit crazy. My husband is a high extrovert and is amped up by all of that stimulation that makes me lose my marbles. How do we balance those two personalities and vacationing styles?

We are still learning. Last year when we went to the Cook Islands, we laid out by the beach and snorkeled in the ocean for the majority of our time (my perfect). In New Zealand we caught all the sites we could in two of the three cities and I slept through most of the other one because I was so exhausted. It was in Rotorua where we learned that we have differing vacation styles 🙂

This year as we tour Northern California, we are balancing our time. I want Jason to be able to see the sights and feel energized by the new surroundings. And I know he wants me to be able to be in the quiet and be near God’s beautiful creation.

So we devised a plan. We sat down a few nights ago and made a list of all the things we would like to see in San Francisco, Monterrey, & Sonoma. We then narrowed that list down to a more reasonable number and left the rest of our time as coffee shop time, beach time, or walking in the natural beauty time.

We are extremely happy with our google spreadsheet itinerary (we are both the first child in our family…it shows) and we are both willing to tell the other if we want to do something more or less.

We are hopeful that this vacation will meet both of our needs, but mostly we are hopeful that as we separate from this busy season of life, we will come home refreshed, reconnected and ready to take on what ever life has in store for us!

Have you found that you and your significant other have differing vacation styles? How have you managed that?

Now we only have 2.5 hours before we hit the road, so I think I’ll head out for a run to expend some of this energy. 🙂