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?

Advertisements

why I cried after my brother’s team made it to state

Last night my brother and the Albia Blue Demons won their substate game which means that they are going to the Iowa State Baseball Tournament!! Woot Woot!!

My brother's the catcher and I love the intensity in his face!

My brother’s the catcher and I love the intensity in his face!

Now to clear some things up because I get this question all the time from people down here…

  1. Wait, Sarah, your brother is playing high school baseball in the SUMMER?” Yes, Iowa plays high school ball in the summer and no I do not know why (for my peeps in Iowa, just know that playing a high school sport in the summer is very uncommon).
  2. “Didn’t Gabe graduate earlier this Spring? I didn’t know graduates could play.” Yes, my brother graduated in May and is still playing high school baseball. According to Iowa rules, you can play baseball/softball the summer after your senior year because the season started during the school year. So, yes he did play five years of high school baseball and my sister played 5 years of softball.
  3. “Are you ALL athletic?” Yes, but not all of us are athletic in baseball/softball…or should I just say I am terrible at softball. I have an appreciation for the game, but I can’t hit a softball to save my life!

Ok, now that that’s cleared up, let me continue…

I listened to the last inning and a half on my phone while at my friends’ house last night. As the announcers were exclaiming that the Albia Blue Demons were headed to state, my heart was filled with joy but also a lot of  sadness as tears ran down my face.

I was so happy for him, but I was sad that I couldn’t be there to give my sweet brother a big hug and to celebrate a victory with my family. There are days like yesterday where I find it hard to live so far away from home..

I sent my brother a text after they won congratulating him and telling him how proud I am of him. He sent back a text that said “Thanks. Wish you were here! Love ya” Melt my heart. Those are sweet words from an 18 year old man-boy!

The tears fell because I felt like I was missing out on another milestone event for my family. And I was. There have been a lot of things that I have “missed” in the 2.5 years of living 1500 miles.

But then I remember all of the amazing things that have happened while living in this dry, hot desert and I’m grateful. I still mourn the loss of the familiar, but the adventure Jason and I have been on makes it worth it all.

The next few weeks I will be spending my Wednesdays talking about the adventures that God has taken me on and the lessons I have learned since we took this huge step to move from the cornfields of Iowa to the desert land of Arizona. And I would love to hear from you as well! How has God taken what looked like it would be hard and made it beautiful?

I want to be able to share my life here on this blog and I hope that as you read how God has changed me, you will be encouraged to know that God is at work in your story too. That’s why I’ll be linking up with She Does Justice on Wednesdays…will you join me?

Live Your Story

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. 🙂

AND WE ARE HAVING….

Girls!!

Those sweet hands will be holding ours soon!

Those sweet hands will be holding ours soon!

We have been holding this in for almost 6 weeks now! After we received our 171H letter in the mail last week-a huge wave of relief swept over me! We can now let the world know that we will be a mommy and daddy to two beautiful girls!

It was a hard road to get to this point. And it’s still a long road ahead of us. Right now, though, we are celebrating the gift God has given us in the hope that our daughters will be home with us soon. I was able to share the news with my family this weekend and finally show off their darling faces. I won’t be able to share pictures on social media until they come home for security reasons. 

The girls are roughly 2 & 1 years old. Here on the blog we will call them baby G & baby M. Our hope is that they will be home by this time next year. I know that for many of you that seems like a long time, but the reasons behind it are necessary and important.

Right now here are our most important prayer requests:

  • Pray for Baby G & M’s health and safety during the time they are in foster care
  • Pray for a quick court process this summer so that we can become their legal guardians in Africa
  • Pray that God will provide the remaining $20,000 for acceptance of this referral (we have a tax deductible way for you to give now…stay tuned for more info on Friday)
  • Pray that Jason and I would continue to rest in the peace of God as we wait to unite our family

Monday Morning Thoughts

I’m back from a whirlwind of a week in Iowa!

IMG_0932

Beautiful Iowa Countryside

Whew! Last week was wonderful, emotional, and BUSY! Props to my mom and dad for living this crazy life of soccer, baseball, show choir, jazz band, and every other imaginable activity with each of their 4 kids! And Congrats in being done with it! I’m sure that this will be quite the transition for them as they say good-bye to their youngest son come this Fall as he heads to college.

IMG_0909

IMG_0911

It’s the start of my graduation week…What?!?

And props to my baby brother for graduating with such honors! He is an amazing guy…if you ever meet him you will love him instantly. He’s the most caring 18 year old young man I have ever met. And he’s pretty dang smart! I mean he got a full ride (tuition) to AIB (American Institute of Business)! I think he only slightly understands the importance of not having that debt after college…but soon he will understand and I am THRILLED for him!

This past week, I spent more time on a bench than I have in a long time and my back and hamstrings still throb from it! My mom and I went to three soccer games last week to watch my brother goal keep and my dad coach the Albia Blue Demons (I know..the name is a little much). I was able to go to Parent’s Night and attend the awards night for the soccer team. Watching my dad give his son the Most Valued Defender award was emotional! Seeing my dad choke up as he talked about coaching his son for his whole life was almost too much for my heart. When he shared with the audience “I always tell people that if Gabe wasn’t my son, I would wish that he was”, I could see every other parent head nod their in agreement and my heart about fell apart. Maybe it’s because we are about to become parents that I was so emotional but I think it was because I love my family so much too…

IMG_0910

This is the hard part of living so far away from home. I left home when Gabe was just 8. I didn’t get to see a lot of his development into the man that he is now. I have lots of memories of him being the joyful, carefree little boy that would dance down the aisles of grocery stores and break out in song any chance he had. The funny thing is…he still does that. And I love him so much for it!

IMG_0935

Look at that sweet, smiley boy!

I was also able to hang out with my sisters this weekend and we all worked hard on getting the house ready for Gabe’s graduation party. It was fun to look through pictures with them and remember all of the fun times we spent as a family throughout the years. The cleaning part was okay too… 🙂

IMG_0947 IMG_0938

My favorite memory of the weekend would be sitting under the stars with Katie, Mom, Dad, & Jason talking and listening to the frogs croak after the graduation ceremony on Saturday night. We finally were able to relax after a full week of preparation.

My parents are about to embark on a new journey of being kidless & having some other major changes in their lives. I’m excited for what the future holds for them!

IMG_0956

Jason had quite the introduction to small town life this weekend! I didn’t prepare him well for the Senior Awards Night on Friday night…maybe on purpose! The night is to honor and award Seniors with scholarships and accolades for finishing this season of their life. It lasted over 2.5 hours and there are only 75 graduates this year! Everyone in town seems to have a scholarship to award to the graduates. It’s a good thing, but it was a LONG night for a guy who flew all day!

IMG_0977

He’s a high school graduate! Yay!

Gabe spoke at graduation. He was the first and only Gravert to speak at his graduation and he did an amazing job! I had to pinch myself a few times because I still can’t believe this baby brother of mine has grown up!

On Sunday, the church held a special service for the graduates. This was potentially the most emotional service for our family. Gabe was highly involved in the youth program and as we watched him perform his last song with his friends, tears flowed freely. I’m so excited for his future and I know that the best is ahead for him, but all I could see while he sang was the little boy who was a ham in every single church program. And when he started crying as he sang…there was no hope!

IMG_0978

It was a good weekend. It was a hard weekend. And I’m so thankful to have been home during Gabe’s last week as a senior. As I said before, Gabe’s best years are ahead of him.

Thank You, Mom

Happy first day of being a mom!

Ann Voskamp wrote a post earlier this week about how mother’s day is for the birds. I love how she described motherhood:

“Motherhood isn’t sainthood and we’re all a bunch of sinners here and don’t let anyone tell you any different — pushing something out of your womb doesn’t make you a better woman. Real Womanhood isn’t a function of becoming a great mother, but of being loved by your Great Father. Someone write that on a card with a bouquet of flowers. We all need that.”

Isn’t that true? It doesn’t matter what our title is or whether or not we are mothers, the only way that we can truly thrive & survive this life is through the great love of our Heavenly Father. My mom displayed  this picture of real womanhood to me. It’s not by your title of “Mom”, “Wife”, or “Worker”-it’s who we are in Christ.

28 years ago, my mom celebrated her first mother’s day with a tiny babe in her arms (me) and I’m sure she was overwhelmed by the thought of caring for this tiny little person. The thoughts and dreams of what I was going to be like and how were my dad and her going to parent this child and the question of whether they would ever sleep again ran through their minds often, I’m sure.

wedding9

Today, I look to next year with hope that our daughters* will be home with us and we can share in those feelings of fear, excitement, and newness.  I also look back to when I was a child and how mom cared for me. I remember cookies baking, trips to the park, bike rides, Sunday afternoon car rides, sleeping at volleyball practice, countless books read by her, kisses goodnight, and back rubs when I couldn’t sleep. I remember mom teaching me how to sew in 7th grade. I remember her at every single volleyball game, basketball game, track meet, play, speech performance, band performance and countless other activities I was in (sorry for being so busy mom…). I remember hugging her good-bye as they left me in my college dorm room. I remember telling her about Jason and how I thought that he was the “one” and how she said that she thought so too.

IMG_0544

As motherhood draws near for me I have been thinking more about my mom’s role in my life.Without her even knowing she has taught me that to be a mom is to daily practice the sacrifice of your wants and desires for the sake of your child. A child will never say “good job mom!” or “thanks for wiping my bottom”. Daily a mom’s job is to comfort, feed, teach, forgive, and serve…always serving. It can be decades into the job before you hear a “thanks mom for all you did”.

My mom taught me to live with the end in mind. She knew that the importance of investing the time, the prayer, and the never-ending discipline (also known as teaching your oldest daughter that you show love to your sisters though hugging, not hitting). Both my parents prayed that those countless hours of sacrificial love would pay off in dividends when we left home.

Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it Prov. 22:6

Mom-I hope you know that I have grown into the woman I am today because of your sacrifice, your blood, sweat and tears and because you lived with the end in mind. Thank you for showing me how to be a mom, more than that-thank you for showing me that real womanhood is being loved by my Heavenly Father.

Now we're all here...ready to cause trouble!

Now we’re all here…ready to cause trouble!

All grown up...time sure does fly by

All grown up…time sure does fly by

*hopefully more to share on that subject soon 🙂