Monday, January 24, 2011


We have already had so much fun in the snow this winter season. And it started early - the week of Thanksgiving!  It is such a thrill for this Houston-grown girl to live in a place that can so easily become a winter wonderland!  Here are some pics around our house and at Logan Park, which offers some great sledding hills!  

The girls were excited that our friends the Fullers were at the park too.  Here they are with Shelby.

My little angels! :)

Our second big snow came the week after Christmas!  So we had to go back out for more sledding.  Such a fun time!  We also had  a good family snowball fight.  I think Hannah won.  She got me good!

Hannah found one of her classmates at the park and they worked to make their own little snowman.  They soon demolished it by sending it sledding! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Our 2010 holidays were happy, despite the busy and sometimes chaotic air about the season. We have so much for which to be thankful and Thanksgiving just gives us one more reason to celebrate and express that.  We recognize that God is the giver of all good things and feel so grateful to Him for His presence in our lives as well as all the extras! 

The girls made Thanksgiving pumpkins.  I stole this cute idea!  They wrote, or had me write in Kaitlyn's case, one thing they were thankful for on each strip,and decorated them.   These served as handy decorations for Thanksgiving Day.
Hannah's thankful list:  Life, Sun, Food, God, Friends, Family, Seattle, 
Home, Church, Kaitlyn, Snow, Birthdays
Kailtyn's thankful list: Toys, Colors, Pictures, Our house, Candy, Blankie, God,
Hands, Hannah, Me, Family, PJs.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fall 2010 in Snapshots

Since I haven't posted much in the last few months I thought I'd cover some family highlights in photos...

Hannah spent a lot of time on her "big-girl" bike with her new-found ability to ride it. She shied away from it most of the summer, and then one day she decided to try it. I gave her a good push and off she went, as if she'd been doing it for weeks!

Friday, January 7, 2011

What Year Is It?

I'm struggling with how to begin the first blog post of 2011. I honestly can't believe we are already into a new year. I know people say that all the time. But as I look back at 2010 I feel like I just blinked from one major event to the next and here we are! I've felt at times as if I was just a feather being swept along by an uncontrollable wind. Okay, maybe sometimes it was more like a nice breeze, but last year went by faster for me than any other year of my life. Yet it was full of so many wonderful things...

It was a turning-point year on a couple of different levels. First, our church, which began 2010 with the name Connect, turned a corner, we feel. The beginning of last year brought several new families who have grown and become an integral part of our ministry here. We have seen people express their commitments to Christ through changed lives, altered priorities and pursuits, as well as baptism. All types of people have stepped up to give of their time and resources to aid our ministry - volunteering, leading out, entering into small group community. And God gave us a new name! Connect became LifePoint in October. The name change represents a connection with a larger LifePoint community in other parts of the world, for the same purposes we had to begin with - to reach people with the gospel of Christ and plant new churches where they are most needed. It's been a breath-of-fresh-air-fruitful year after a couple of very trying and sometimes confusing & discouraging years. The Lord is so good and faithful through it all and we have been grateful for all that He has allowed and done in 2010.

It was a turning-point year for me personally as well. Without getting into the nitty gritty, suffice it to say that our move to the Seattle area from Nashville, TN and the process of starting a church has not been all roses for me. During this time I have experienced some of my most difficult moments to date. Yet, somewhere in 2010 I began to realize just how much I love living here and began to embrace our lives here more than I had before. And, now I continue to cling to God's promise in Philippians, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

The year was also full of some fun travel for us as well as the joy of welcoming friends and family to our home as they traveled to the NW, some for the first time! Dale and I were able to be a part of a former student's wedding, which was such a wonderful time. Right after that we revisited our youth ministry days as we were a part of a week-long camp (Super Summer) while also getting to spend time with good friends. November found Dale and me in the Nashville, TN area again as we visited LifePoint's Smyrna campus. Not only did Dale have valuable time with the staff there, but we were able to be refreshed by wonderful time with old friends...and a little time to ourselves. It was great!

Our summer was full of week after week of visitors, as well as our live-in and well-loved intern, Alanna! We gladly introduced everyone to as much of the NW as possible during the time they were here. Dale and I could probably get second jobs as tour guides... And anyone who would like to make use of this free service is welcome to come up! Just tell us at least a few weeks in advance. :) Our family took some needed vacation time while our friends the Shrums were here for a couple of weeks. We were able to do some camping during that time, which we love. The laughter and companionship the summer brought was definitely a highlight.

The fall brought the adjustment to our oldest being a full-time 1st grader. We all made it and we are so proud of the little person she is becoming! Kaitlyn progressed in her swimming and had play dates aplenty. Before we new it the holidays were upon us along with all the accompanying festivities. I am grateful for 2010. Although I do pray that I will feel a little less blown about at the end of 2011 than I do now. I know it will be fast-paced, because that is the reality of our lives. But I will seek to cling more to Christ my Rock, who is the calm, steadying force in the midst of winds of change, circumstances, busy seasons... And I am aiming to post more to the blog soon, including pictures, as well as give it some much-needed updating! :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

11 and Counting

Eleven years ago today I received my all-time favorite birthday present when I married Dale Braswell. Our romance began on the campus of Dallas Baptist University in the summer of 1997. To be honest, it took me quite by surprise. Dale and I had known each other for almost 3 years and had served together in a collegiate ministry that toured the state and took an occasional international trip, leading worship, and leading Disciple Now Weekends and camps for youth. He was our drummer and the "goof-ball" of the group, always winning the hearts of the junior high girls everywhere we went. :)

It wasn't until we were paired up to teach together (for the first time in 3 years) at a camp held on the university campus, that I began to see a different side of Dale. Not that the side I had seen was bad - but I got a more complete picture of who he was - and I liked it! He was much more, and much deeper, than the comical drummer I had seen him as. We had a blast working together and playing pranks on each other during those 2 weeks. Then we went our separate ways for summer jobs. I thought about him a lot and had no idea he was thinking about me too.

When classes began in the fall we found ourselves hanging out together with groups of mutual friends - movies, bowling, study breaks... I always seemed to end up riding in his car or sitting by him. I came to find out later he had orchestrated most of these events so he could hang out with me. I had no idea. As Homecoming events approached I was excited at the thought about going with him, but didn't really think he'd ask me. He had many friends who were girls and I thought I was just one of the many.

But one day, as I was wondering about Homecoming, ironically enough, he strolls into the office of my on-campus job and nonchalantly asks me to go with him. I coolly said yes, and then when he left I did a little celebration dance in the privacy of the office. :) Then I calmed myself down, thinking, this still doesn't mean he really LIKES me.

Well, after having a great time together at Homecoming, I still was left wondering, because it took him about 3 weeks to ask me out on an official date! I loved it. When he came to pick me up, instead of bringing flowers, he brought me a 6-pack of original Dr. Pepper - made with sugar cane from the headquarters. I love Dr. Pepper and loved his originality! We headed out to the Galleria, where we had ice cream at Marble Slab - BEFORE dinner - and then went ice skating. I applaud him for this part, because I was much better than him at it and he didn't seem to mind. :) On our way to a great Mexican food restaurant in Fort Worth (my fav!), we passed a Bungee Jump place and he suggested we stop there. Maybe he was thinking he should make up for his terrible skating by showing his bravery? So, on a whim, we rode the reverse bungee ride together where you get bounced up and around while you're sitting in seats side-by-side. It was really fun! And I'm glad that came BEFORE the Mexican food!

In so many ways that first date reflects the life we've lived since... We haven't always done what was expected; Some of the places we've ended up were not on our radar initially; Life has bounced us around a bit, but we've been through it together, and it's always been an adventure! I can say that I sure am glad I gave that goofball a chance! :) He's still a goofball, but he's also passionate about the Lord and our family, a man of integrity, a man who genuinely cares about others, a man determined to live fully the life God has given him, for His glory. I still like what I see in him. In fact, I LOVE it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Hiking!

August was a month for hiking! This time, Daddy got to go with us. We hiked the scenic Franklin Falls trail that followed a creek for a little more than a mile all the way up to a beautiful waterfall.

The area around the falls was full of pools of water, perfect for playing in.

And it was warm enough for the suits!

I took my little climber with me and we scaled up about 25 feet of rock.

A wonderfully satisfying day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hiking with Friends

There's not much I'd rather do on a beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest than go hiking. My friend Lori has been an avid hiker (and climber for that matter). So, since I aspire to be one we've been hanging out more and hiking with our kids. She's my resident expert on great family hikes! I love that my kids are having so much fun exploring the beauty of God's creation that is all around us! They have become real troopers on the trails - MOST of the time. Even Kaitlyn can handle almost a 2-mile round-trip hike on a good day.

In August we hiked to the Ice Caves in the Cascade Range. Here's the little crew.

The view as we cross a bridge over the stream.

Trail buddies!

The caves are formed as the snow & ice melt. By September these are completely gone. They are very unstable since they are constantly melting, so it's wise to keep your distance. So, we told the kids to go only as close as we let them go and definitely not to run inside the caves. Well they received an interesting lesson when we arrived at the foot of them to find adults inside the caves taking pictures. Hannah was very curious about it, and was intrigued to find out that just because an adult is doing something, doesn't mean it's wise. :) The fun effect about standing in front of the caves though was that it felt like standing in front of an open freezer. So refreshing on a warm day!

The kids had fun climbing on all the rocks.

Taking a break...

I'm not sure why Kaitlyn is upset, but I'm guessing Jacob may have tried to take some of her snack. When it comes to her food, you just don't mess with Kaitlyn. Well, right now, you just don't mess with Kaitlyn period - she's 3!

The veiws were amazing. And I especially loved the abundance of purple flowers - purple lupen I think they're called.

Another great hike we went on was the Denny Creek trail that led to pools of mountain water fed by a waterfall. It was a perfect day for splashing around. No one minded the icy water. In fact it was quite refreshing!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Revelation

One thing we did this summer was meet a lot of new people on mission teams who came to help out Connect Church in a variety of ways, and who brought much needed encouragement too! While visiting with one such team, one man asked me if there was anything I didn't like about living here. If he had asked me a couple of years ago, after we had only lived here a few short months, I could have given him a long list of things. But, he had me stumped for a minute. I stammered to find anything substantial to say. I could think of minor things, like having to drive 2 hours to get to a Chick-fil-a (which we've only done once) and no good Tex Mex (although we really didn't have that in TN either)... The only thing that was worth saying was the great distance we are away from our family and closest friends. I definitely don't like that part. Yet, even that group of people is scattered all over the globe, so there's no one place to go that would satisfy the desire to be closer to all of them - yet! :)

So in that moment I began to realize something quite profound - just how much I love living here. I know... that's deep! But I had such a hard time adjusting to our move here that it was a great moment for me! I love living so near the mountains that I can see them in every direction on clear days and it not take long to drive to countless great hiking spots, or snow-sledding spots. I love living near the Puget Sound and many lakes, where we can go canoeing, kayaking, sailing and where we can see beautiful sunsets on the water. I love downtown Seattle - the market, the arts, the restaurants... I love having so many places on our to-explore list that we'll probably have to live here a lifetime to do them all. I love all the amazing camping spots. I love what God has called us to do here - to plant a church in a place of great spiritual need that will plant other churches, all for the purpose of bringing people to Him, the All-Satisfying Savior. I love the people He's brought to our church. I love our community and the fact that I can walk down the street or across the street to go to dinner, a play date, a ladies' night out, a birthday party... and the fact that being outside on a nice day means many kids to play with and conversations with friends.

I'm sure I could come up with a few more things I love about this place, but you get the idea. :) In so many ways I feel like I was made to live here, and that's a gift from God that I'm so grateful for!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Went a Pickin'!

Looks like I'll be playing a little catch up to finish out our summer fun, since I've gotten a little behind in my posting...

This summer the girls and I began regular play dates with a group of kids and moms in and around our neighborhood. It's been so fun! We LOVE our neighborhood and are so thankful for all the friends we've made just living here. And glad there's an abundance of kids to play with too!

One of our outings took us to Blueberry Blossom Farm in Snohomish where we picked blueberries... and ate them too! I'm amazed that we ended up with 6lbs to take home with all the munching going on! But they were just SO GOOD! And the kids had a blast!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"I'm A First Grader!"

These are the words Hannah has excitedly told our neighbors and everyone who called to ask her about her day today - the first day of First Grade! It came with great anticipation. The last week has been full of accumulating school supplies and needed clothing as well as many conversations. Once she realized she would be at school all day there was a barrage of questions about lunch and how that worked. She was very concerned about knowing exactly what to expect! And the two things she has consistently voiced when asked what she has been looking forward to about being in 1st grade are: 1) having 2 recesses and 2) getting to check 2 library books out each week. :)

With Monday afternoon came the excitement of seeing which teacher she had and who would be in her class. I will say, going up to the school and looking at the postings brought back a flood of memories of doing the same thing YEARS ago and all that the start of a new year entailed. For a moment I wondered how I had arrived here with my own school-age child doing the same thing? Anyway, she was happy to see that several of her kindergarten friends would be in class with her. The sadness about those who were not in her class dissipated when I assured her that she'd see them at recess.

Yesterday, she seemed a bit apprehensive as we walked back to the classroom to meet her teacher. She became her usual shy self, as she does in new situations and with new people. But by the time we left, she was asking if she could stay and go ahead and start school!

This morning might have just as well been Christmas. She was up early, got herself dressed in the outfit she had picked out yesterday, brushed her teeth & hair AND made her bed - all before breakfast! And with no prompting from me! Usually we have devotions & prayer at the breakfast table and she prayed such a sweet prayer, asking God to help her have a wonderful day at school, to help her make the right choices and to help her obey her teacher. What a big girl she has suddenly become in my eyes!

Here are a few pictures of our morning.

She was excited to get to sit by one of her friends from kindergarten.

I had a lump in my throat all morning, but somehow I managed not to cry! She seems so grown-up, and I marvel at how quickly these 6 years have flown. I guess I need to get used to that! I am so thankful for this little girl and look forward to seeing all the ways she will grow in the year ahead.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fun on the Water

On my 35th birthday last year I made a vow to myself that this would be the year for trying new things. One of the things on my list I knew I wanted to do was kayaking. What better way to experience something new than to take some friends along! So, before the Shrums headed back to Nashville, we kayaked with Anacortes Kayak Tours, near the San Juan Islands, and we had a blast! I will definitely be doing this again!

The guide didn't know quite what to do with our rambunctious group... Can you blame her?

Here we are in action.

We spent close to 2 hours on the water and even rowed one kayak at a time into a cave. While we were out we got to see a lot of sea life. The coolest things were the 2 porpoises we watched for awhile, but we didn't get any pictures of them because as soon as they were coming out of the water, they were diving right back in.

Here's Big I with a moon jellyfish.

A giant purple starfish

A blue heron

There is a TON of kelp in the Puget Sound waters. Our guide not only showed us that it is edible (and yes I did try a bite - why not? I wouldn't make a meal of it, but it wasn't that bad actually), she showed us how it can be made into a musical instrument. Here is Kevin giving the kelp horn a good blow. He looks like he came straight out of The Lord of the Rings here!

After our kayak adventure we stopped off at Deception Pass, one of our favorite spots, to see the beautiful scenery and climb on the rocks

Another exceptionally enjoyable day!