Saturday, September 14, 2013

all together in one place

We just got home from three days in beautiful McMinnville, Oregon, where we enjoyed our annual Northwest Rally. This event happens every September, and we look forward to it every year.. basically it's just a time for all of the churches in our fellowship to get together and hear excellent preaching for a few days, while reconnecting with friends from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.

My kids would tell you that there are several things they love about the rally- swimming at the hotel with all of their friends, enjoying breakfast in the hotel lobby with everyone, and playing basketball with their friends in between church services. I love that no matter how much time has passed between the last time they saw everyone, they just pick up where they left off. These kind of friendships will last them a lifetime, and I'm so thankful for good Christian kids who share the same values as mine.

Sam and I have the same kind of feelings about the rally, and added to that is a profound appreciation for the solid preaching of the word of God. Being in the ministry can sometimes take its toll on your emotions spiritually speaking, so just being able to sit and listen to sermons without any distractions or responsibilities is like a breath of fresh air.  It's like our fellowship's version of "school starting" - we get focused on what we hope to see God do for the next six months, and we leave McMinnville with a renewed vision for the future.

And as silly as it may sound, I love having all of my kids in the same room at night with us. We share one hotel room, and there are kids piled everywhere...but somehow I love going to sleep to the sound of all my little people breathing around me. I love my family so much, and so often we are caught up in the busyness of life- the rally is a time where we can all be together in one place.

I have a few Rice kids to highlight this week, because my family series got a little sidetracked by the sudden arrival of our first granddaughter. When I started the series by featuring Abigail, I made the disclaimer that I might interrupt the line-up if I had something exciting to post - little did I know how quickly that would happen.

I can't even begin to express the joy that this little girl has already brought to our family, and how perfectly she fits in. I brought Hayden over to Jason and Naomi's one afternoon to sneak in a little Nana time with Norah. Suddenly my four month old didn't look quite like the newborn I brought home from the hospital in May. How is it that babies can change so much in such a short period of time ?

That sweet baby girl on the left is going to be catching up to her Uncle Hayden in no time - she's already surpassed her birth weight and is nursing like a champ. I can't wait to post pictures of her playing with all of her uncles and aunts in the days ahead.... it seems like one day we were praying for a miracle adoption to happen for our kids, and the next day it was as if she has always been here.

Sam on the left, holding Jason...Jason on the right holding Norah Jane

I'm so thankful, so very thankful for the gift of grandchildren. I had heard over the years what a blessing it would be to experience all the joys of being a Nana, but I think it's the same thing as parenting- until you get there you just don't know. I love my grandkids every bit as much as my own children, and I am so so blessed to be a Nana to two of the sweetest babies on the planet.

But Norah and Koa aren't the only ones God had in store for us.

One week ago today- the day after Jason and Naomi brought Norah home from the hospital  - our son Josiah and his wife told us they were expecting....

That little video was just a tiny taste of the excitement in the air that afternoon. Monique was in Arizona for her grandfather's memorial service...she had been feeling queasy all week and decided to do a pregnancy test while she was there. She called Josiah while he was driving over to pick up our kids to go see Norah for the first time, and they decided to FaceTime us all to share their secret. And there it was - one of those all together in one place moments that I will cherish forever - my kids screaming and cheering and laughing and our hearts filled to the brim with joy.

More little snippets of joy from last week...

my golden girl. she RADIATES joy !

Jackson's eyelashes and freckles. I love them.

minnetonka moccs I won on ebay for Hayden - $7.  hallelujah !!

Lily, Hayden, and Brock in nursery last Sunday. Sweet friends .

Daddy took the little kids to visit big sissy at Coffee Culture

enjoying the last days of seeing her in these sandals - fall is coming !

suspenders from Jackie Aulson - his first pair :)

her favorite new pose

sneaking onto sissy's bed and shopping online. win/win

date night with daddy xoxo

^^^ heaven. right here.

favorite time of year !!!!!!!!!!

pizza in the park after the rally

my happy boy

It's late now, and there are bedtime baths to give and babies to put to sleep....we are tired and happy and feeling the grace of God smiling down on our little family...

...all together in one place :)


Beckey said...

So much excitement for your family! Glad you enjoyed your time away. Curious how you fit all your family into one hotel room. Now that we have 4 kids I assumed that we'd have to get 2 rooms, but maybe not . . .

Landreneau Family said...

My favorite part of the video is Sam's reaction! It's precious!

Marietta said...

it is so good to have your batteries spiritually recharged. Lots of excitement in your family - what joy!

nicole said...

So, so many blessings.

MamaV said...

I love eBay for clothes! So many almost-new things at awesome prices!
Congrats on another grand baby!

Faith Kopp said...

Pick me up off the floor. I am so overjoyed, so excited. Now you know how heartwarming it is to have grandchildren. God keeps blessing us in His own time and when He does it is a powerful blessing indeed. Love you all, Mom/Grammi/Greatgrammi

Tammie said...

Congratulations, the family that is growing leaps and bounds and loving every minutes of it! Thanks so much for sharing such a happy time for your family. I love how excited they all were! So cute!

Race Bannon said...

Are you sure Hayden doesn't have Downs? He looks happy all the time...

Amy said...

The announcement and the pictures has me in tears. I love all the joy in your family. When I first found your blog I just wanted to live your life. Unfortunately it doesn't look like that's in God's plans for us family size wise but I hope that at least we have the bonds and joys in our life that I see here.

cara said...

Congratulations, congratulations, and congratulations!!!!! I am SO thrilled for all of you all! I love seeing all these blessings just multiplying. xoxoxoxo

Merideth said...

YAY YAY YAY!!!! Congratulations! I couldn't make out what she said (I(listened like 3 times haha) but the joy was clear!

SO excited for you and your family. One day I will have a life as awesome as yours. I'm working on it anyway.


Monique Rice said...

Merideth... I asked Jon Jon if he would like a boy or a girl :)

Jane George said...

too fabulous for words xxxx