May 2011

May was a really busy month. There was so much going on: us and my mom and Rali moving/unpacking, family and friends visiting, ministry stuff, a trip to Redding and making our new house a home!

Here are a few highlights...

After all the craziness of Easter and moving we needed a "Brown Fun Family" day. We let the kids pick what they wanted to do, the Carousel and the River (so they could throw rocks in) were their top picks. Followed w/ lunch at Red Robin...where else would they want to eat?

Double Date Night w/ the Glazes! Red Robin for dinner and bowling, I am pretty sure the ladies dominated!

Chesnie turned 5 this month down in Redding and we didn't want to miss another b-day! I had the honor of being there w/ Corrie when she had Ches and I can't believe that was 5 years ago!

All the tutu girls jumping on the bed! The Miller house is one of my kids favorite places to be!

For Mothers Day Corrie and I did a progressive lunch...w/ no kids...just us! It was one of my fav dates w/ Corrie ever. She is my "BCHF" (best curly haired friend) and living far from her is not my favorite, but with times like this it gets us from one visit to the next.

Since Jeff was working Mothers Day weekend and we were in Redding, the kids and I got to spend some of Mothers Day w/ the Browns.

Auntie Juli spotting Sam as she climbs up a rock wall w/ her boots on...Juli is prego w/ Carter in this pic (we didn't know it was Carter then, I totally thought it was a girl!)

Mama Brown enjoyed having some of her kids and grandkids around w/ a low key take out dinner, where everyone got to pick out what they wanted...easy and super fun! Mama B, the kids and I did Thai...yummy!

Nathan and Rachel Greenfield were here in Salem for a few days, sadly w/o their kids Noah and Mercy. The Greenfields live in the Middle East and we have become good friends w/ them through our partnership w/ their work there. They had a chance to share w/ us that they were in the process of expanding their family by adopting a little girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jeff's Bestie from college, Aaron Singer wanted to visit Jeff for his bday. So the lovely Mrs. Lisa Singer arranged for the two of them to come up for a visit. Jeff's friend tank was filled up as we celebrated Aaron; the boys played guitar, stayed up all night playing video games, and took long walks on the beach w/ candle lit dinners...

Jojo and Krista did story time w/ the kiddos while they were here. Joey and Krista are going to be amazing parents! I love watching them w/ my kids!

Pedi's w/ Auntie Krista...and watching The Little Mermaid...livin' the good life!


The "Big Yellow House"

A few years back when we first moved to West Salem, my friend Trina and I were driving to the YMCA early one morning to workout. As we passed this awesome yellow Victorian looking house w/ white trim, a big huge yard, an awesome porch w/ a swing and a basketball hoop outside...I say to her, "I am going to have that house someday, I LOVE it!"
She turns to me w/ a smile and says, "do you know whose house that is?"
"No idea," I reply
"That is the Stumbo's house" (John and Joanna were our Lead Pastors at the time, check out his blog if you don't know their story)

Fast forward to April/May 2011. Jeff is working w/ John on his book cover and toward the end of one of their conversations John asks Jeff about our living situation. Long story short, he and Joanna want to rent their home to us?!? What? Yes, that is right ladies and gentlemen, the "Big Yellow House" as my kids call it!

Meanwhile, my mom and her husband have been living in Nevada for the last 5 years and if you know me and my mom we don't really do long distance well! Her and Rali were looking at moving here to Salem, but needed work and a place to live. With the "BYH" in the pic, Mom and Rali could live w/ us. (More than enough room for all of us!) Now all my mom needs is a job, but wait, Salem Alliance is hiring a receptionist...mom applies, we wait, and Praise the Lord...she gets the job! Now they have a place to live and a job!

What an emotional roller coaster and whirlwind! We had 13 people show up to help us move on a Sunday after Jeff lead worship all weekend. (keep in mind, this is the weekend after Holy Week and Easter, Jeff's "peak season") We loaded, moved and unloaded in less than 4 hours! CRAZY! Annie Dudley made dinner for everyone at the "BYH" we ate and had people home for an early bedtime! So BLESSED BY FRIENDS who LOVE us! Thank you all who helped!!!

I had been praying for 5 years that I would get to live in the same city as my mom again...
I had flippantly said to a friend, "I am going to have that house someday"...
I had prayed for my mom to get a job where she was loved, valued, and enjoyed her work...
God heard me...
He is My Father who loves me...
He desires to give me good gifts...


April 2011

April 1st, 2011 will be a special day that the Browns will always remember! (not b/c we love practical jokes, all though we do) It was the day the Josh and Bex came home w/ their newest family member, Miss Mercy Mann! We were honored to share in that moment when family and friends met Mercy for the first time at the airport. Samaria has been in love with and praying for Mercy since the day the Manns shared their referral pic w/ Sam on Josh's phone. They gave Sam a pic of Mercy and she would eat meals w/ the pic and hold it close to her "rubbing" Mercy's back. What a blessing it has been to watch them go through this adoption process and see how it has affected Caleb and Samaria, having an interest and awareness of what it means to adopt and be adopted!

Jeff and I got to celebrate w/ our friend Shannon for her b-day along w/ some other couples at Pok Pok up in Portland, one of our fav restaurants and the BEST WINGS EVER!!!

Our dear friends Luke and Joc came home from the Middle East for a visit w/ their new little guy River! We had a blast w/ them while they were here, we never have enough time w/ them! Sam had her hands on River every chance she got and the only part that made their departure to return bearable, was that we were headed there in August!

Seriously LOVE her!!!

Caleb and Sam had a blast opening their Easter packages from Grandpa and Grandma Santos

We did our Easter Egg hunt a couple days early, as Daddy had to work Easter week and weekend. Ally helped the kids find their eggs...such a great doggy.

The Girls

Mom and Rali w/ Caleb and Sam for Easter Sunday. The dress Sam is wearing my mom made for me for Easter, so neat to see my little girl in it!


March 2011

My little sister, Jean Louise is living out at 5 Rock Ranch and she is loving it! I can't believe how much she has grown and matured in her time out there. She is responsible for a number of things from cleaning bunk houses, cooking, part of the team pulling pull off events, in a Bible study w/ other young women her age and living in community w/ other people that are pursuing God. We went to visit her in March and had a great time! The kids love seeing Tia at 5 Rock!

Meeting the Boys

Sometimes you have friends that become family b/c you have shared so much together. Mel and Justin are some of those friends. Mel and I have been friends since our first year of college, we played basketball at Simpson, were roomies for a few years and did ministry together. Justin came on staff at Redding Christian Fellowship as the Jr. High Pastor and shared an office w/ Jeff and playing ping pong during their lunch break was just the beginning. Justin and Melissa said they were "just friends" for awhile, then realized they were best of friends and didn't want to walk this journey of life without each other! Jeff and I stood up w/ them in their wedding and it was one of the most beautiful weddings I have been apart of.

We did life together, ministry together, bought houses together, tried to get pregnant together...well, not together, at the same time...you know what I mean! After a year, Jeff and I got pregnant w/ Caleb. They rejoiced w/ us. Then 7 months after Caleb was born, we got pregnant again w/ Samaria. They rejoiced w/ us, despite the reminder our 2nd pregnancy was that they still did not have a child of their own.

Countless nights Jeff and I pleaded w/ God on their behalf, knowing they would be AMAZING parents and they would love and provide only the most and best they possibly could for their children.

God answered their prayers, our prayers, and countless others prayers!!! Hank and Jack were placed in their home this Feb! You can read their account of the journey to expand their family. Its an amazing one that only God could have called them to, giving them exactly what they needed when they needed it.

All this to say, we got to meet the boys!!! We made a trip up shortly after Hank was placed in their home just me and the kids. Then later in early March Jeff was able to come so we could all meet Jack! I can't tell you the tears of joy cried when seeing Mel and Justin love these boys for the first time. Gods faithfulnees lived out in these two little boys...boys that have been prayed for and desired for years, longed for, before they were even born.

Febuary 2011

This month started out w/ a visit from some of my favorite girls in all the land. The Miller girls came up to visit us from Redding, CA. Caleb and Samaria love them dearly (they believe Mattie and Ches are their cousins) but then it gets awkward when Caleb talks about not knowing which one of the girls to marry. Everything from pillow fights to the Gilbert House...we had a blast!

Samaria is beyond her years, vocabulary and relationally. Most of her little friends were 3,4 and 5 when she was 2 1/2 and she fit right in! She attended her first bday tea party for her little friend Emily/Roo. Sam had a great time and she even stuck her pinkie out when she drank her tea!

We had little snow and made the most of it, since it doesn't happen often here!


January 2011 .

So, its been awhile since I last did a blog post. I have decided to look back at this year and bring you all up to speed on the happenings in the Brown journey month by month w/ a few pics and some highlights.

January: The Merediths were here and we LOVE them, what a great way to ring in the New Year, w/ some of our fav family members!!!

Lots of B-days this month (including my hunk of burnin' love who just wanted a family dinner at Red Robin...imagine that!) a celebration of Mike Gowers life at Simpson University where we got to see lots of old friends, and I started working at the YMCA teaching a weight lifting class (body flex) class Mon, Wed, Fri, mornings.

My favorite part of the month was 3 days and 2 nights away w Jeff at the Oregon Coast. (Courtsey of Ryan and Mandee Wilmot) We had the honor of doing their premarital counseling, Jeff married them, dj'd their wedding and I coordinated, in return they stayed w/ our kids and provided a place for us to get away at Neskowin in this adorable apartment w/ a Murphy bed! (the cool kind that folds out of the wall!) I LOVE BARTERING!!! The kids had a blast, we did too, and I think it will be awhile before Ryan and Mandee have kids!