God gave me him for the ups and downs

Sunday, January 25, 2015

So lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee

It's been four years since I met my husband via this silly little blog.

Four years later, and I'm the happiest girl on earth.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This past year met Cash and I with so many great things but mostly with growth in love, faith, and marriage.

Now let me tell you about a particular few days in the past 365.

About two weeks ago the music minister at our church asked Cash if we would mind keeping some kids from Uganda for a couple of days. Cash, being the decision maker he is, told him to come find me.

To be very honest, I wanted to say no. Uhh. We just have so much going on, and because we are some of the youngest in our church we get asked to do everything. So I tried to think of a quick excuse, and when I didn't have one I had to say yes.

When I obliged, a couple of things happened. One, Cash looked at me like I needed to be sent to the nut bin. What the heck was I thinking? Two, I was handed a packet of papers that listed what the kids could and couldn't do and could and couldn't eat and when they had to be at church and when they had to be in bed. Whoa.

Eat? Did that mean I had to cook? Yes, yes it did. {Darn. That would've been my excuse had I have known that ahead of time! I don't know how to cook.}

"You will pick the kids up Thursday at 5:00. They will be yours until Saturday at 11:00."

That's all we knew. What we didn't know was that that short amount of time was about to change our lives forever. Eight days after being asked to host, we found ourselves at church meeting chaperones from Uganda who thanked us for keeping 2 boys: Sylus and Eric.

The entire group was from Uganda and members of the Asante Children's Choir. Now I had never heard of this choir nor had much of a heart for Africa. {I know, that is not very mission minded of me. It just wasn't my thing.} But these kids, they walked in single file and sat down so quietly. Their leader, Henry, asked them if they were ready to meet their host families, "Yes, Uncle." they said in unison as they stood.

One by one they walked to the front of the church. Then Henry read off the names of the children paired with the host families. When Sylus & Eric were told they would be with us, they did not walk to meet us. They ran. And they grabbed us for hugs. And they said, "Thank you, Uncle. Thank you, Auntie. Thank you!"

Oh my heart. My heart changed in that moment.

Eric, Sylus, me
You know when you called the Lord your Savior for the first time? Or you met the love of your life? You know that feeling that burns deep inside with passion and excitement? Meeting those boys branded on my heart the love only a parent knows and one so deep that it could only be compared to life's most blessed moments.

Somewhere between "Ask Avery if we can do that" and "But I don't know to cook", God molded our  hearts to be ready for these boys.

That night as we sat around the dinner table (the boys, Cash & I, my in-laws, and the bus driver Bernie), we learned about things the boys like {soccer, basketball, Texas} and things they don't like {spicy food, American football, cookies}. As Sylus finished his dinner, he asked, "Auntie and Uncle, may I please be excused."

I sat there stunned for a few seconds. {My nephew usually doesn't even have clothes on at the dinner table. He definitely isn't asking to be excused!} We excused Sylus, and he began to pick up his plate. Afraid that he would break it, I said, "Sylus, you can leave your plate there, Bud. I'll pick it up." He refused and took it to the kitchen only to emerge and ask every adult if they were also finished. The boys cleaned off the table before I was even done!

I walked into the kitchen, and I could not believe what I was seeing: 11 and 13 year old boys washing the dishes! I did not ask them. They did not say anything. They just did the dishes because they were so gracious for the dinner. And, well, that's what kids do in Uganda apparently.

cleaning dishes and speaking in Luganda to each other
The next day Cash and I took the boys lunch to school, because they really wanted hamburgers from Whattaburger. Yes, they've been in Texas for a while!

On Friday night we took them to the Midland High School basketball game. The boys did not know girls played basketball and were taken aback that MHS had an entire girls' team! They particularly loved watching the guys dunk it during pregame and a few times during highly anticipated plays in the game. We gave them MHS Bulldogs shirts that they wanted to wash and wear again the next day.

Sylus & Eric in their Midland High Bulldogs shirts

The cheerleaders started throwing out shirts to fans, and I taught the boys to wave their arms in hopes to have a shirt thrown their way. They began vigorously waving to the point the entire stands were rooting for these two Ugandan boys to get an XL t-shirt. They were just too precious, and it was obvious the boys had never seen this activity before!

Two cheerleaders saw the boys going crazy for a t-shirt, so they walked two shirts up to us. I could not even get the boys' attention to tell them as they were having such a good time waving their arms back and forth. Finally, they saw the shirts and were elated! They thought it was neat that they sat the shirts down and started waving for another one. Ha! If it worked once, why not twice?
Sylus & Eric enjoying the game and popcorn

Our friends at the game fell in love with the boys. Of course every person they'd meet they would hug and say, "Nice to meet you, Uncle/Auntie." How do you not love that? {The boys also immediately walked into the house after the game and began doing this dishes. I had told them before the game that we were a little late, so we'd do the dishes later. Apparently later meant the moment we walked in the door. They could not stand leaving a job undone.}

Cash, Sylus, me, Eric at Midland High
Saturday morning they asked to wake up early and "play basketball with Uncle." So. We did.

Double-Teamed
 If they made a basket, I would jump and scream as if they were Michael Jordan. They got a big kick out of that. I would yell, "Let's go, boys!" Eric finally corrected me and said, "No. We are Bulldogs!"

Cash got a little winded at one point from playing 2-on-1, and Sylus told him, "Uncle, be strong!" Cash admitted to me later that when a young man from Uganda who has seen the impossible tells you to be strong, you somehow get a second wind!

Sylus, Cash, Eric happy after the pick-up game

the boys decided to play it tough

 
We finished the morning by just playing and being with them. It was becoming evident how hard it would be to take them back just a few short hours later.


Cash and Sylus thumb wresting

Eric & I taking selfies

I am a cry baby; I cry when someone gets kicked off The Bachelor. Cash is a man's man. He is tough and very even-keeled. He gives me reason and strength when I have neither.

I walked into the bedroom before we left for church, and the man of my dreams stood there with tears streaming down his face. "I am going to miss them. I love them. I love those boys."

I had fallen in love no doubt but so had Cash. This was a love we had never expected but found together. It was our first time to love with every ounce of our heart someone we had just met two days before. We could not fathom taking them to church, letting them go back to Uganda, and never knowing what their lives became.

It took us 10 hours to go back home after we had dropped them off. We could not stand the thought of an empty house. It wasn't empty though. We found these sweet and sincere notes: 


On Sunday afternoon we met with Henry to ask options for taking care of the boys. They had blessed us to the very core. They had renewed in us a sense of joy. And they loved us without needing anything in return. How could we ever repay them? What could we do?

We were told we could perhaps visit them in Uganda, but that they would finish through high school their education there. They may or may not ever be back on the tour. But he assured us they would be taken care of with 3 meals per day, healthcare, and a high school education. We felt...okay.

Sunday night we were able to watch the whole choir perform. I sobbed like a baby as they entered the second half of their routine.

A lady from a different church stopped me later. She asked if we had kept any of the kids. When I said yes we had, she responded, "I was watching you, and I know your pain. We have kept some of the kids before, and I know how hard it is to let go. It will get better."

On one hand I hope she is right. I hope it does get better. But on the other hand I never want to lose the feeling of joy and peace that those two boys brought into our lives. I want to go see them. I desperately wish I could find a way to bring them back home; to give them a life here with us. Right now that is not God's plan. Cash tells me that God has bigger plans for Eric and Sylus than Midland, Texas. I am certain He does.

I also believe God does not open a door to shut it two days later. He does not prepare your heart, fill it, and empty it again. God does not just quit writing a portion of your story when he saw what the first few paragraphs looked like. He sees it through. I have no idea what the end of the story will be, but I am trying to remember daily that with patience God will be the best author of our lives. {I do wish God could do some foreshadowing though. C'mon.}

While I reminisce on the most joyful days of our lives, I hope you enjoy this short clip of the Asante Children's Choir. {Please give to Asante if you can. The needs of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi are greater than we can imagine.}

Our boys are in the middle and back row:

Asante Children's Choir singing "Days of Elijah" at Christ Church Anglican, Midland, Texas.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Avery Lately

Helloooo, from Amarillo, Texas!! That's right-Amarillo. I'm up here in the Panhandle working for a couple of days then heading a couple of hours south to Lubbock for a couple more. Then Thursday night I get to go back to Midland just in time to celebrate my hubby's 10 year class reunion this weekend. YIKES!! 10 YEARS!!

So. Lately. Y'all, I have been having the time of my life. Cash and I celebrated our one year anniversary (one year of being a Mrs.--unreal) in July. Two weeks before that I had had surgery, so our anniversary trip was delayed until this past weekend. I'm not much on selfies, but for those of you who know me will be SHOCKED by this one. I did it. I had the surgery. I said goodbye to the girls. Glorious moment.

feeling good! (and actually getting to run around!)
 I never had our wedding or honeymoon pictures printed to my liking (I'm lame), so in their place we enlarged and framed the envelope and congratulations letter from President and Mrs. GW Bush. We put them side by side in our hallway, and I'm over the moon pleased with how the art gallery came through for us on the framing. They did a fantastic job all around. The envelope may be my favorite, but I doubt my parents would be thrilled if I displayed their address on my blog. :)
 
favorite wedding card

At the beginning of August we met my parents in Ruidoso, New Mexico (where we got engaged--holla!), for a fun-filled weekend of horse races, history, and gondola rides. We rented this cute little condo/cabin that faced the woods. The deer would walk by in the mornings and evenings. One night I was able to get them to come up to me. Unreal!

the deer whisperer, that's what I call myself

In September I switched roles at the bank. When I was hired, it was known that I would be a Personal Banker for some length of time. Then I would eventually start a Training Department. September 3rd we officially got that up and running, and I have been eyeball deep in creating training material ever since. Four years of teaching and two summers of bank experience ended up being the recipe for the perfect job. I am traveling a lot now, but this is something I could have only dreamed of doing. It took 9 years between college and professional work to finally get to this point. I had always hoped I could just land in a training department. To CREATE one and have that trust from my executive team is something I can't describe. Unbelievable. Oh, and my boss is a Razorback. Make me lucky times 1,000!!!

Over Labor Day weekend Cash and I went to Santa Fe to go white water rafting. The rapids weren't too high, but it was still a nice day on the Rio Grande. Our guide had just finished a canoe race that went from Kansas City to St. Louis, so we learned a lot about rafting from her. Plus, Santa Fe is becoming my "gift" city. Last year, Cash bought me a super amazing road bike at the REI store there. This year he found a Jeep.

When we got back to Midland, this is what that sweet man bought for me...
I didn't live until I had this thing!!
I never thought my heart would let me trade in my 4Runner. It was the last bit of my single life I had left. But when Cash took me for a test drive in the new Wranglers, I could've cried I was so in love. It was the best choice we ever made. I love taking the top off (even if it does rain!) and driving all over West Texas. I am a Jeep person now, no doubt.

The first weekend we had it we took it out to the dove lease. I even killed my first dove! I was so proud.

my first dove
Even though I am no longer on the retail side of the bank, my old boss asked me to be in a golf tournament with him a couple of weekends ago. We played in the Bosworth tournament. Living in Midland, you learn you didn't really survive until you had Bosworth in your life. They take care of every single problem you could imagine having in your home or business. Since I moved to Midland I have become good friends with their CFO, so my former boss and I were on the team with her and their President. I spent the day trying to cost-effectively get them to Arkansas to work on our home there. 



Ron, Stacy, me, and my old boss Martin
This past weekend was finally our anniversary trip. We left after work Friday and headed to Kerrville, Texas, home of Johnny Manziel. (Hey, I'm an Aggie now.) We spent the weekend at the Texas Hunt Lodge, and I can promise you no one has ever had more fun than I had this past weekend.

Saturday morning we woke up to the smell of breakfast, then we headed out to go hunting. Cash bagged a catalina, so we took it to the processor and headed in for lunch. They had a full-time cook on staff, so we were fed to the brim at all hours of the day and night. After a power nap, we went out to find a ram for me. I wanted a painted desert. We finally saw a group of rams, so I popped this one. I could not stop shaking. Literally. I was so excited my heart was going 90 to nothing.

I hit him through both lungs and the heart. If I must brag! LOL. I made a better shot on mine than Cash did his, and I just wanted to point that out. I am currently trying to convince my boss to let me hang this above my desk at work. She said a hog, no big deal...but a ram, ehhhh. I am still working on this though!

painted desert ram taken at Texas Hunt Lodge

Texas Hunt Lodge houses 35 ranches and over 100,000 acres. It is mostly for exotic hunting. We were able to shoot ours on a safari hunt then spend Sunday photographing the other exotics. It was quite amazing. We saw wildebeests, springbock, water buffalo, axis deer, pere david deer, many typs of rams, tons of different sorts of African antelope, whitetail deer, elk. They have a hunt lodge in Africa as well, and I'm determined my husband will take me there. Italy is out. Africa Hunt Lodge is in.

We drove the 4 hours back to Midland last night. Then I repacked and headed to Lubbock. I stayed there last night and drove the other 2 hours to Amarillo this morning and worked here all day. The COO even took me to see our new building; sometimes I can't get over how great it is to work for our executive management.

After work I checked into the hotel and headed out to Palo Duro Canyon. It was gorgeous! If you ever get the chance to go through Amarillo, take time to see this. I met an elderly couple from Australia while I was taking pictures, and the gentleman was kind enough to take my picture.

Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo
Traveling for work isn't quite the same as traveling with my husband, but I usually try to make friends in the other markets or find some sort of attraction to enjoy. If I'm going to be away from home, I might as well enjoy my time...and eat good! I am ready to smoke some steak from Las Brisas Wednesday night!! By smoke I mean eat it until it's all gone.

Well, that is the latest and greatest from the Pullin house. When I get settled in one night this week I plan on changing up the look around here. I miss this ol' blog world.

(*Note: News about the Razorbacks has intentionally been left off due to embarrassment from this past weekend.)

Later!
Avery Jane

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Demolition Area

Well, well, well, blog world. It's been a minute or two. Hope all is well with each of youins. We've been soaking up life out here in West Texas, with the hubs gone all week to Houston I have a spare second to catch you up!

After attending Christ Church Anglican for a solid 10 months, Cash and I were confirmed and joined our precious new home. Father Eric spent many hours with us, mostly trying to make my Baptist-reared mind understand new ideas. In the end, the only difference is the methodology. To that I say I do not think God cares particularly about that as long as you are doing it reverently and with purpose to praise Him.
Cash and I with Fr. Eric after confirmation
In July I had surgery so my sweet momma, sis, and niece came down to help us out. The day after surgery was the 4th of July, and seeing how that's my FAV holiday, we marched ourselves right on downtown and enjoyed some fireworks. I had bumped into our CFO that afternoon, and she gave us VIP seats for the show. It was a great time; half of it I had some super meds in me and didn't feel a thing, but I'm fairly certain it was a great time. :)

Uncle Cash and Addi headed to the fireworks show


 
During that time we also started some major renovations on the house. I am not sure if I should give Pinterest or HGTV more credit for the inspiration, but it was highly accepted nonetheless.

As you can see the outside of the house was brown purple blue gray something. I loathed whatever color it was.

What color is that?!
Now it's more calming and more of a real color. All the things we really tried to shoot for.

new. everything.


painted the rocking chairs!
The master bath (or as I've learned from HGTV--the en suite) needed some, umm, MAJOR updates. Before the contractor got to the house, we (meaning my husband, mom, and sister) took off the old wallpaper and underneath found this amazing 1969 original wall.


removed the vanity, closed off the door, changed the walls


that. wallpaper. ahhhhhhhhhhh

Okay, so it was atrocious. Luckily, we really did hire the best contractor in Midland, Texas. I couldn't be happier with the results.

new vanity, sinks, faucets, mirrors, and striped walls (the stripes are gloss)


towel warmer, towel holder, new toilet, new floors



new shower

And while in the reno' spirit, I tried to find some curtains that were striped with large navy stripes. They don't exist in case you're wondering where to get some. So I endured the over 200 mosquito bites I got on a Saturday night and painted myself some floor length curtains. It feels more and more like Maine in our living room every day. I. Love. It!

new curtains
It's back to the grind for one more day tomorrow, and my hubby comes homes! Woohoo!! Until next time...


WPS!

Avery*Jane