June 30, 2009

A Special Seminary Update

Last night we got some exciting news that I wanted to post while I am in updating mode. This spring Lindon applied for a grant that was large enough to cover all of his outstanding expenses for his last year of seminary. Yesterday he received a call informing him that he had received the grant!

We were thrilled with the news, and we continue to be amazed and humbled by how God has provided for us while we have been in St. Louis. Three years ago we began packing our belongings in Alabama, not sure how we were going to be able to pay for four years of school. Now here we are, 75% finished, with funding secure for the last year. And the most amazing part is that we have paid for virtually none of this. Lindon's schooling has been funded almost entirely through scholarships, individual donations, and now this grant.

There aren't words to convey how thankful we are for everyone who has supported us, whether it was writing a check, praying for us, or sending an encouraging email. We could not have made it through the past three years without you. You are an indelible part of our story, and your faith in Lindon has encouraged us during hard times.

For that, we thank you.

June 29, 2009

Summer Adventures

Our summer has been a little crazy, and I realized I haven't updated our blog on some exciting things that have happened. So here is a brief synopsis:

Baby Update: We had our 20-week appointment and ultrasound last Monday, and everything looks great. It was so amazing to get to see our little one and watch it move! Now I am incredibly eager for November to come so I can meet this precious person. Before the ultrasound I was just excited for the changes that come every week, but seeing baby's tiny hands and tiny feet made me want to hold those little hands and feet!

The question everyone asks is, "Did you find out what you are having." My answer is yes, and no. Yes, we have a beautiful, healthy baby whose feet are 3 cm at this point (and very cute). No, I don't know it's gender. And I don't want to know. It's not that I feel this is the "right" way to do things, this is just the way we are choosing to go about the pregnancy. And no, I don't care that I won't be able to decorate my nursery in pink or blue. Frankly, I have no desire to pin my child to gender-stereotypical colors before it's even born. This is our baby, and so we are doing things the way we want to do things. We are thankful for the people who understand this and don't try to give us a hard time about it.

Also, for those who are interested, we have begun our registries. Currently we are registered at Target and Babies R Us.

Lindon Update: My sweet husband is keeping himself busy this summer! Earlier this month he began a year-long job at the pastoral intern at a local church, and he has really immersed himself in this new role. His primary responsibilities include teaching youth Sunday school, holding youth group activities, and doing anything else he wants to do. He has tons of great ideas and lots of hopes for things he can accomplish with both the students and the congregation in general. Yesterday he had the chance to preach in church, and he did so well. I am so proud of him and look forward to hearing him preach more. This is a great chance to Lindon to do the aspects of ministry that he really loves and to figure out more precisely what he would like to do when he is finished.

House Update: Our summer would not be complete without some home improvement projects for Lindon to tackle during his time off from school. Since moving into the house we (meaning Lindon) have renovated the sun room, dining room, and kitchen and put fresh coats of paint in the living room, bed room, and office. The house looks so much better now. The only real project left is to do something about our teeny little bathroom with its crumbling pain, yucky plaster, and sickeningly-pink tile. Lindon has some ideas, and when his father comes out to visit in late July, they will start working on trying to make it feel a little bigger. There might be another project or two thrown in along the way.

Summer Travel Update: We are VERY excited to be spending the July 4th holiday with our dear friends in Montgomery, AL. We will roll out on Wednesday and spend Wednesday night in Memphis (yes, I have had "Walking in Memphis" in my head since Friday). This is one city we have never seen, and we don't know if we will ever again have this chance. So we are spending one night there and hope to eat at one of its renowned barbecue establishments. Then on to Montgomery, more good food, and time with great friends. We cannot wait.

June 23, 2009

The Things I'm Reading

Books make me happy - deliriously, delusionally happy.

I love to read, and recently I have found myself ravenously fascinated with the lives of others. But with the craziness of the last few months I had not picked up a new book in a while. Then on Saturday I decided to meander over to the library, renew my library card, and see what I could find. Typically I enter the library with a particular book in mind, and it's rare that I just spend time roaming through the stacks. But last weekend I had a book craving (probably pregnancy related, like my food cravings), and so I started rummaging through the biographies to see if anything would appease my literary appetite.

30 minutes later I emerged with more books than I will be able to finish, but my heart was so happy! I resisted my urge to dance or sing of hug the shelves. My craving for real life was satisfied and then some. I don't remember all the titles, but here is what I found:

- Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel; Dr. Seuss has always been one of my favorite authors, but I never knew anything about him. The more I read about this intensely shy man with a zany sense of humor, the more I like him.

- A biography of Eudora Welty; What? You've never heard of Eudora Welty?! Shame. She was a quirky Southern writer from my native Mississippi. My father always lamented that he never asked her to sign his copy of Delta Wedding when he was her neighbor.

- A biography of Dorothy Sayers; Sayers' name came up time and again in my British Literature classes during college, but I know virutally nothing about the woman who earned her way into C.S. Lewis' inner circle and published a plethora of material on a variety of subjects.

- In the Beauty of the Lillies by John Updike; I wanted to start Updike's Rabbit series, but when the library did not have the first book in the series on hand, I opted for a different angle on this recently-deceased writer.

- A Curtain of Green by Eudora Welty; Considered by most critics to be Welty's finest work, I thought it would be a good followup to her bio.

These five books sit on my coffee table, and I get such great pleasure from seeing them there! I have started the Dr. Seuss bio and love it so far. I want to attack more of these books, but I already have a pile of books I have begun and need to finish. They include:

- The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer; This man was amazing, and his genius blows my mind.

- Your Pregnany and Birth; Not surprisingly, I have a few pregnancy books open at the moment. This one came from my doctor's office, and it is a fantastic overview of pregnancy and birth. Great for moms-to-be, like me.

- What to Expect When You're Expecting; The mother of all pregnancy books (ha), this comprehensive month-by-month guide to pregnancy is priceless. I would recommend it to anyone who is pregnant.

- The Bible; In particular, the ESV Study Bible, recently named the 2009 Book of the Year by World Magazine. If you like study Bibles with helpful material on how to read and understand the Bible the way it was meant to be read and understood, get this book. One of Lindon's seminary professors served as the general editor for this edition, so we are a little biased. But it's still great.

- Norton Anthology of American Literature: 1945 - present; Because while good literature never goes out of style, it's far more enjoyable when it's not required reading for class.

What are you reading this summer? I always like good book recommendations, even if I have to tuck them away for a while and come back to them later in life.

June 14, 2009

Our time in PA

So at last our Internet is back and reliable, and I can post some photos about our time with family! As I have said before, the trip was great. We had fun with all our family, but it went by far too quickly!

Our adventure started last Wednesday when we hit the road and spent the night in Zionsville, Indiana with some friends from Alabama. Pat was the pastor of our church in Alabama when Lindon came on staff, and he and his wife Laura have been wonderful friends. We always plan on seeing them at Thanksgiving when we spend the holiday with Laura's family at the farm, but it is an extra bonus when we can see them on our way to or from Pennsylvania. We had some much-needed catch-up time that went late into the night (when was the last time I saw midnight and it wasn't because I was waking up to pee?), and it was fabulous.

Pat and Laura also gave us our very first piece of baby clothing! Laura works for a children's clothing boutique, so she was able to find adorable clothing in gender-neutral colors. Our little one is going to look so cute in its little hoodie and blankie. This was our first article of clothing for the baby, so it felt strangely surreal to open it. Holding that little tiny sweatshirt made me realize I am going to have a little tiny person who will wear that sweatshirt. It's kind of crazy...

Thursday morning first thing we headed for Pennsylvania. That evening my brother became the fourth Smith kid to graduate from Butler Senior High School. There were 599 students in his class, so it took a LONG time to seat everyone. In fact, half the ceremony was just getting the graduates seated. The other half was speeches filled with logic-defying, sugary-sweet nonsense. And those were just the adult speakers...

Here are some of the family photos we took that evening. Most people think my brother looks more like Lindon than like me (thanks to the blond hair and blue eyes). But he really is MY brother, I promise. Oh, and you can also see my 18-week pregnant belly in this photo.

On Friday my mom, sister, and I went shopping! This was lots of fun for me because I came away with tons of maternity clothes. Mom and Katherine were very patient while I tried on TONS of clothing. Never before have I tried on so many things in one store. I was afraid I would never make it out of there, but I did. And I have lots of great clothes as souvenirs.

Saturday morning Lindon and I went to the local soccer fields to watch our nieces and nephew play. Since we live far away we miss many of these everyday activities. It was so nice to have a chance to be there and watch. And it's amazing how quickly they are growing!

Courtney is in the pink shorts.
Carter is in the blue shirt about to kick the ball. He scored his first goal of the season that day, and Lindon captured the whole thing on our camera!
Audrey is a 5-year-old soccer phenom. She scored more goals than we could count and still found a moment during the game to look at the camera.
Saturday evening we headed to East Brady to spend time time with Lindon's parents. Their house is almost right on the Allegheny River, so we meandered down to peek at the wall their neighbors are building to keep out flood waters. And since the sun doesn't set until after 9, I spent some time on their dock reading while Lindon and his dad played in the garage.

On Sunday we spent more quality time with the Fowlers, and we headed back first thing Monday morning. We arrived back in St. Louis around dinner time. It's a LONG drive. While it was wonderful to see everyone, the quick trip did make me wish we lived closer and could see our families more often. It's not very often that I wish I lived closer to Western PA (it's a dreary place to live, in my opinion). But now that our family is growing it makes me want to live closer to grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Who knows where we will land after our adventure in seminary. But I hope that one day we will have a schedule where we can see our loved ones more than twice a year.

June 12, 2009

Internet woes

All week I have wanted to post photos and share updates about our time in PA with family. However, the Internet has not cooperated. Our connection at home has been sketchy at best, and at times it's nonexistent. It's VERY frustrating. So the photos and length update will have to wait until our connection returns to normal. Sorry!

But in the meantime, take a moment to celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins - Stanley Cup Champs!

June 9, 2009

Home again...

The Fowler trio (me, Lindon, and baby) are back from a whirlwind weekend in Western PA. It was a wonderful trip, but far too short. Soon I will post photos and perhaps my thoughts on "home" inspired by this trip.

Oh, and this little one is growing like crazy! My bump becomes more pronounced every day. Thankfully I now have an extensive wardrobe of maternity clothes, courtesy of several hours in Motherhood Maternity and the expert opinions of my sister, mother, and the store clerk. Oh, it was such a good time!

June 1, 2009

Hitting the Road

The Fowlers hit the road this week. On Wednesday we will trek back to PA to spend a little time with our families. The primary reason for our visit is my youngest sibling, Nathan, graduates from high school on Thursday! Since Nathan is 7 years younger than me and 8 grades behind me, it's been a while since we've both been in school. Nathan has had to sit through 3 high school and 3 college graduations before he finally gets one of his own. As long as Lindon and I have been married, we've been determined to make it to Nathan's high school graduation, regardless of where we lived at the time. Now we can finally watch him walk, and I for one am thrilled. When you're the youngest of 4 kids like Nathan, it's easy to get left out or left behind. I am glad Nathan finally gets a day that is distinctly his.

As usual, our time in PA will include some time with both families. We look forward to some time with Lindon's family as well. And Lindon will be doing something at his home church on Sunday, too. We don't know what that might look like yet, but it's fun that he can be involved somehow in the service.

That is all the update I have for now. When we return I will post photos and tell you about what a great time we had with our families.