She Speaks 2014.

“You have to go to a conference called She Speaks,” my friend Monica said to me last fall. “I’ve heard great things about it.” 

Monica and I were on the phone talking about the last two years and everything that has happened to Ian and me. 

“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with our story,” I had said to her. “I know God wants me to share it with others, but I’m not sure how to do it.” 

Fast forward eight months. Today is Sunday morning, and I’ve been at the She Speaks Conference for the last three days. I’m at the Charlotte Airport, waiting to board my plane, anxious to see Ian and my babies. As I walked closer to my gate, I smelled a delicious, familiar scent. Cinnabon. That cinnamon roll was calling my name. Some warm coffee sounded good, too. Thank you, God, for the last few days and for this yummy treat that reaches my soul as much as my stomach. 

I’ve been away since Wednesday morning, five days, the longest I’ve been away since, well, I can’t even remember when.   Since I have a couple of hours before my plane takes off, I decided to take some time to ponder what I’ve learned here and what my next step should be.

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I met the most amazing women this week. Tuesday before the conference, at the last minute, I pushed past my comfort zone and decided to ask women attending the conference if anyone needed a roommate. I ended up rooming with not one, but two, amazing girls. I met about a dozen other ladies who have amazing stories, too. Upon getting to know them, I learned we all share the same goal: to share our stories of what God has done in our lives with others.

This cinnamon roll I’m eating reminds me of Lysa TerKeurst’s story from her book, Made to Crave. She tells about her struggle with her weight, specifically, one morning when she was faced with the decision to eat a delicious cinnamon roll or stick to her diet. She ultimately decided to eat it and start her diet ‘tomorrow,’ which left her discouraged. 

I’m applying that thought to the message Lysa spoke last night. She said it is our job to make God’s name known in all the world. Her message struck a cord with me, and I want to follow through in making his name known. I personally feel called to share God’s message of encouragement and hope because I have experienced it for myself.

My prayer is that I start following through today, and not talking myself into starting ‘tomorrow’ like Lysa did with the cinnamon roll. 

My next step is to finish writing my memoir. The first three chapters are completed, and I am going to focus on writing the remaining chapters. In the last couple of months I’ve been asked to speak to MOPS groups in town. I’m realizing that, although I don’t feel equipped, God has chosen me to share his story of encouragement and hope.

I’m grateful for She Speaks. I’m thankful for the women who coordinated it, as well as the speakers who taught us so well. Thank you, God, for the opportunity to attend, for the wonderful new friendships I’ve made, and for the lessons and wisdom I’ve learned. I continue to be in awe of what you do for me. Please guide me as you prepare me for what you’ve already prepared in advance for me.  (quote is from Christine Caine)

Day 3: San Diego Zoo & dinner in Coronado.

I’m going to keep it short and sweet tonight because I am exhausted. This city is so beautiful and the weather is perfect.

I have to say that today is the two year anniversary of Ian’s leg amputations. I think I’ll try to do something fun on that date every year. Ian couldn’t care less about the date, but it’s meaningful for me. Last year we were at the beach for the first time since the amputations on the 11th. Today we celebrated at the San Diego Zoo.

The zoo was fantastic. It was 120 acres of awesome greenery and happy animals. The kids loved it.

After the zoo we met my cousin, Oliver, who lives here for dinner. He and his wife have an adorable little girl and I was finally able to meet her.

We are having a great time, but we are beyond tired. The kids begged to skip baths and go straight to bed when we got back to the hotel. I couldn’t let them do that after our hot, sweaty day, but it made me realize that maybe we need to slow down a little.

Love,
Denisse

Here’s a few pics of today.

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Day 2: We made it to San Diego!

And it was not a piece of cake. The kids were tired, the drive was boring, and I was cranky. Oh, and Ian hurt his stump yesterday and bruised it, so he started the day with a slight jerk in his step. Thankfully his leg is doing better.

We are all excited to be here and start the real fun. As I’m writing this the kids are still in their bed wiggling and whispering, AND IT’S 11:15pm local time, which means it is 1:15am Texas time. They are crazy. Crazy tired! Me, too.

Highlights of the day:

We stopped at a rest stop in Arizona and Jack spotted this sign. He loved it and had me take a picture to text his friend Dane. My eyes were glued to the ground all around us. My heart rate may have increased a little bit.

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We toured a large area of Tucson today thanks to Google maps. The kids needed to get some energy out after being crammed in the car all morning so we looked up the closest ChickfilA. (It’s the only playground restaurant with acceptable food.) Google maps graciously took us well into the city so our quick lunch turned out to be not so quick. Did you know they don’t have grass in Tucson? People’s yards are covered in rock or gravel. It’s not the most beautiful thing, but I envy that they don’t have to mow anything. Here’s a pic of us staying positive.

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Jack reached a bit of a milestone today. We had dinner at In and Out Burger and he had his first cheeseburger. Like, ever. He’s never been interested in trying one, but when they don’t have chicken or hot dogs somewhere you have to branch out. The good news is he liked it. I’m glad he’s willing to try new things.

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I’m off to shower and then bed. Hopefully these little lovies will be asleep when I’m done.

Tomorrow is zoo day!!! Can’t wait!

Day 1: On the road.

We had a great first day and drove over 650 miles! We are spending the night in Deming, New Mexico.

Things I learned today:

I thought I was going to like my new Honda Odyssey, but today I discovered how much I LOVE it! It’s cozy, yet spacious; it’s big enough to fit our stuff comfortably and I’m still close enough to pass the kids snacks and toys. After years of saying I would never drive a minivan, I take back anything negative I ever said. Never say never. Especially when your kids are involved.

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When we travel I always try to see places with a fresh, new perspective. Usually it’s snow or the beach, but today I found beauty in the mountains of west Texas. Brown and dry, they have gorgeous patterns in the rock, and can be seen for miles around. God created those mountains, too and they are lovely in a rocky mountain sort of way.

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My kids are rockstars. We spent all day in the car and they did not complain even once. We stopped several times throughout the day, but it was because Ian or I had to go to the bathroom! They did amazing on the road. I’m one happy mommy!

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Good day. Hoping for the same tomorrow. San Diego, here we come!

Less is more.

Packing for five people stinks. It stinks even more when you have to pack for ten days. I started packing a few days ago, and my goal was to pack as little as possible.

When Emma was three months old, we took our first trip to visit the grandparents. Let me tell you, I would have taken the entire house if I could. We took her Pack N Play, baby bathtub, twenty outfits (for three days), six pairs of shoes, a chest full of toys, five of her blankets, three lovies, oh my goodness… We took more with us on that trip than we will be taking tomorrow for five of us for ten days. I’ve learned so much in the last eight years.

Kids adapt. They can sleep in other beds. They will be fine if they have to wear the same outfit a few times. And most importantly, they can find things to play with anywhere.

Moral of the story: less is more when we travel with kids. It’s taken us this long to figure that out. We’ve learned if you forget something, there is always a Target close by.

God is great. Two year ampu-versary.

This upcoming week will mark the two year anniversary of Ian’s amputations. As a matter of fact, as I’m typing this I’m realizing that at this time two years ago Ian was about to have surgery to amputate his fingers. His legs would stick around for another five days, until July 11th.

Call me crazy, but I just can’t forget that particular date. It’s a big day for me. July 11th marks a day in our lives that changed our paths forever.

Last year we were at the beach for the first time since the amputations on that day. This year, God has blessed us with the opportunity of another trip. This time we will finally be taking our kids to the much anticipated Carsland in California. Woo hoo! I’m not sure who is more excited, the kids or me.
This time of the year is a time of reflection for me, and I’m thankful for some fun time with my family.

I have to share an amazing way that God continues to provide and bless us. Several months ago Ian had started working again (yes, it took two years!) He is a freelance software developer and gets paid through PayPal sometimes. He logged into his PayPal account after over two years and discovered that there was money in his account. He immediately freaked out and wondered if he owed that money or worried that he needed to pay taxes or something else. After looking into it he figured out that it was income he had received that January before he got sick. Amazingly, it was money that was legitimately ours to spend.

Like any other wife, it didn’t take me long to find something to spend it on. It was a no-brainer. When Ian got sick we promised the kids we’d take them to Carsland when daddy got better. Well, daddy’s been better for a while, and we still haven’t taken them. We could not afford to go on a trip like that, so it was obvious to me that this newfound money was supposed to be used for the trip.

As our trip draws closer I am more anxious and excited. In many ways this little trip will finally close a chapter for us. The last chapter of the story will be complete. Once we follow through with this promise it will mean that daddy really is better and we can move forward.

I’ve known for months that we are at our new normal, but this will be a marked milestone, sort of like crossing the finish line actually. I’m thankful that we made it!

Thank you, Father, for your love and provision. Thank you that you have always been by our side strengthening and encouraging us to move forward. Thank you for preparing our children and for giving them the accepting and loving natures they possess. Thank you for Ian’s spirit and never-ending determination. Thank you for choosing me for this that I would have never chosen for myself. I am grateful.

California, here we come!