Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007 Stories - Tell, tell!!

Let's all share our Christmas 2007 stories!!
Okay, me first!! :) Russell and I hit the road on the Thursday before Christmas, as scheduled, at 2:00pm, taking a half day off from work, coming home to pack and pushing to beat rush-hour traffic. Four hours into our trip to Louisiana, we get to Jackson, MS, and his parents decide to call us to let us know - long story short :) - everyone's sick! Too sick to do Christmas?!?!?! Sad!
So, we turned around and came back home! We got home about 10:30pm, exhausted, disappointed and really trying to be positive about the whole thing. I was sorry that his family was all sick, and I really wanted to see the Lord's plan in all of this. Sometimes, we just don't "get" His plans! :)
Well, Christmas was definitely the Lord's planning and timing, and Russell and I learned some great lessons about God's ways not being our ways, along with lessons about how we each handled or could better handle certain circumstances in the future. :)
Christmas weekend was incredibly LONG and quite boring at times (okay, a lot!). I am not a complainer, so forgive me! :) Just speaking from my heart.
We did get to spend a fun evening with the deVilleneuve's, Ryan's parents and the Broom's ("Thanks, guys! Y'all are the best! Always an open home!") and got to eat some yummy Jim 'N Nick's, my favorite!!
Christmas Eve, I got a head cold :) (sniffle-sniffle). We did get to go to the Wright's and Forbes' here in town for Christmas brunch, which was fun and yummy, but I was so loopy from my meds that I was hardly there! :) I went to the bathroom, while at their home, and I discovered that I wasn't wearing any undies! :) Ha! Ha! Well, I was wearing long underwear, so that sufficed! :) A day later, I'm weening myself off the meds, now, and I'm starting to feel normal again.
God is good, and, Lord willing, we'll get have 'do-over' Christmas with Russell's family at the end of January.
Okay, your turn! Respond with your Christmas 2007 story...I want details! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some Great Gals!

I'm not sure that I have a picture of two of my favorite girlfriends in our blog, so here we go...Jenn deVilleneuve is in the middle; Kathryn Hipp is on the right.
"Love you, girls!"

A Night at the Wright's!!

Carrie Tyson's husband just graduated from Army Basic Training! We've gotten to spend some good, quality time with her, since Dave has been in training these last 3 months. God has been using our time together to be a source of encouragement and learning about whatever may come up in conversation! Since Russell is also in the military, interesting subjects come up...How we got on the topic of MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat), I don't remember!! :) We must have been talking about Dave and all that he's going through right now...field-training exercises, the new knowledge he is gaining and, of course, the mysterious MRE's he's eating! Here we sit, eating them up! Literally!
Russell has MRE's that are at least 5 to 7 years old! We pulled out two of them, and we found pouches of the following, indulging in some: pork chow mein (ugh!), saltine crackers, peanut butter, cheese (yuck!), chocolate-covered graham crackers (my favorite!!), a little bitty Tabasco sauce bottle, something like life-savers, a brown plastic spoon, sanitary wipes, napkin, a single-serving of Folger's instant coffee, matches, two tiny pieces of gum...all the necessaries, evidently! :)
I promise we won't make you try MRE's if we have you over! :) Sure made for an interesting and fun evening!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thoughts & Truth

It's Sunday afternoon, and I just want to add an excerpt to our blog, so I thought I'd share a couple of verses that I've memorized as part of my current daily Bible study, Topical Memory System.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

When I became a believer in Christ in June of 2001, a dear friend and very quickly a father-figure, Pete Wright, had just shared his testimony with me, then inviting me to pray the sinner's prayer in order that I might come to know the Lord Jesus Christ personally. I jumped on the invitation (Praise the Lord!!), and I am eternally grateful for God's divine guidance in orchestrating that life-changing meeting!
After praying, Pete shared 2 Corinthians 5:17 with me over and over again, saying something like, "Shireen, you are a new creation...the old you is gone, and you are now alive in Christ!"
I knew this had to be important, but I didn't "get" it right then. Six and a half years later, I'm better understanding and yet still learning the depth of this truth. As I learn more and more about my Savior, I desire His desires; I desire to be like Him, holy, clean, pure, righteous...
What a gift! I still struggle each day with self and the world, BUT I have confidence that the Lord loves me and has called me to Himself to be HIS representative. So, onward I go, learning and living out the new life!

If you see me, encourage me, hold me accountable, join me! It's the most rewarding decision and prayer I've ever made!
God bless you!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Breakfast Bunch

God has blessed us with the most amazing friends, who are family! If you've read much of our blog, you know that the Kear's & the deVilleneuve's are our best couple friends. They love the Lord and in turn know how to honor Him in relationship!
Any time we can get even just a chance to get together, we jump on the opportunity! Chris & Tara passed through town on their way to South Carolina. So, we all met up with the deVilleneuve's at a neighborhood breakfast favorite - Panera Bread - up at the Summit!

We indulged in an hour of good catch-up conversation, laughs, hugs and the best-ever selection of freshly baked bagels with cream cheese!! If you've never been, you've got to go and try their cinnamon-crunch bagel! Oh, the cinnamon-sugar bliss!
Who can ask for a better Friday morning treat??? Chris & Tara, such a sweet & godly couple!
Tara clapping for Rollins.

Oh, we know the Lord has much in store for Himself through our families!
We excitedly continue to serve Him as we hold each other up in prayer and firm accountability!

LORD, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have done for us.
Isaiah 26:12

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our First Christmas Tree!!!

Russell & I have officially put up our very first Christmas tree together!!

This is is my first live tree all-new experience for me! Watering the Christmas tree??? Huh! I'm certainly not complaining! The house smells so fresh and so clean! It's wonderful!

We bought those cute, little red, blue and gold glass balls, gathered the five other 'real' ornaments we have (so far!! :)), got all the little white lights, and a pretty little angel, turned on some Patsy Cline and went to decoratin'!

Russell patiently threaded the tree with over 100 feet of lights! Then, as I hooked each ornament, Russell diligently placed each and every single one onto the tree. Oh, the patience! I sat back drinking hot chocolate and taking pictures!

I love my husband! Now, we just need to get some presents under the tree!! Yeah! :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving, 2007 - My New Family

I give thanks for my new family this year!
Russell & I awoke early Thanksgiving morning (4:30!!) and drove over to West Monroe, Louisiana to spend the holiday weekend with his family. We arrived just in time to share a perfect Thanksgiving meal with the family!

"Mom, the turkey, dressing, yams, cranberry sauce, gravy, everything was absolutely delicious! Proof: You saw me indulge in left-overs for the next two or more meals!" :-)

Thanksgiving is such a sweet time to sit and visit, and that's exactly what we did! Dad knows I stay cold all the time, so he built the biggest fire, and Russell kept it stoked all weekend long! It was wonderful! We got some good, quality time with everyone...

Mom, standing in the kitchen, prepping Thanksgiving dinner!

Russell excitedly sharing his new "survival kit" with Dad.

Todd, Kristie & Little Sierra Grace

Smiles with Tami :) Aunt Sue & Mom

Bundling up before braving the windy outdoors!

21st Century version of "family time"?!?! :)
(okay, so I was blogging so that we could keep you posted!! ;))

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What am I most thankful for this year?

I praise the Lord for my opportunity to know and love Him. I thank Him for giving me a new heart, for making me a new creation. This last year has been the most exciting year of my life! God has pursued me with all His heart through my new husband and best friend, John Russell Wright! God has given me "immeasurable more than all [I could ever] ask or imagine, according to His power..." in this new journey of marriage with Russell! (Ephesians 3:20)
We've been married 3 months today, and we are genuinely enJOYing every aspect and all that the Lord is teaching us in His grace!
We are thankful and praising His name!

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Psalm 103:1

Brooks & Bradley Wright

Pete & Virginia Wright's son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Erin, came into town for the Alabama vs. LSU football game. Go LSU!! ;) I got the fun opportunity to keep their 2-year-old twins, Brooks & Bradley Wright! They are so cute and really easy! They kept each other entertained!! They just went around saying, "Cookie!" in their sweet baby voices, and it didn't take much to "bribe" me! :) Here, Bradley's hugging the pumpkin. PRECIOUS!!
Makes me want to have twins!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch - October, 2007

We got to meet up with Ryan, Jenn and Rollins at a neighborhood pumpkin patch!
Rollins got to experience pumpkins for the first time this year! :)

Russell's 31st Birthday!! October 1, 2007

Russell's 31!
His parents came to Birmingham to visit and celebrate with us! Mom made the icecream-sandwich cake - YUMMY! We were treated to Friday lunch at Panera, dinner at Superior Grill, Saturday night at the movies - we saw In The Valley of Elah - and then dinner at Jim 'n Nick's! His parents joined us for church the next morning for the first sermon on a new Prayer series. Then, of course, we headed to brunch at our all-time favorite brunch spot - The Village Tavern!
We praise the Lord for a great weekend of fellowship! I love my new parents!

Getting Settled into Our Home! - September, 2007

We came back a day early from our honeymoon...just couldn't wait to start living life together in our home! The best part is...Russell doesn't have to leave at night anymore!!

Just Married!! - August, 25, 2007

Russell & I were married at our church - Mountain Brook Community - at 10:00am on a beautiful Saturday morning!
I've never seen so many cameras! Never had to smile for so long, but I was SO happy!! Everything was beautiful and perfect! Russell and I made the grand departure around noon, and I remember looking over at him as I was rubbing my sore jaws from smiling so much and saying, "I'm exhausted!" He conquered. Of course, we didn't let that stop us! We went back to OUR townhouse, we packed and loaded our car and headed to Fort Morgan Beach! We were on our honeymoon!! YEAH!!
Please visit our wedding pictures.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

July 10, 2007 - Sierra Grace Mitchell's Arrival!!!

Russell's first niece! His sister, Kristie, is a Mommy!!
Todd & Kristie have been blessed with this new, tiny creation - a sweet gift from our Lord!
Well-natured and easy-going, Sierra Grace is the newest addition to the family! She's definitely loved and her sweet, precious presence certainly puts
life into perspective. Oh, the gift of life!

June & July, 2007 - Wedding Planning & Showers

Just ask Pete & Virginia! They’ll tell you that we initially planned for a small, family, lake-side or garden wedding. As we continued to pray through the details and genuinely seek the Lord’s plan for this blessed occasion, He made it more and more clear that it was to be a celebration to which all of our family and friends could attend! We went from planning to send out 14-15 wedding invitations to sending out 150!
Some time in June, we still did not have a place to perform the ceremony. Russell suggested the church, and I couldn’t even imagine it being available for an August wedding, only two months out! (Lack of faith on my part!) Russell called the church, and much to our surprise and delight, God was reserving that day for us! The church was available for August 25th!!
Russell and I moved on to further prayer, planning and watching. God worked out all of the details, kept us at peace, allowed us to enjoy the engagement season, and we praise Him for loving on us through so many individuals, couples and families, who went way out of their way in helping us plan this glorious celebration!
“Thank you all! We love you!”

Couples’ Shower – Ryan & Jenn threw us an all-out yummy and FUN party!

Sarah Dunn (my honorary bridesmaid) & Ashley Matteo (my matron of honor)
Sunday Afternoon Tea – Mrs. Mack, Ashley Matteo and Angela Arroyo

My New Prayer Partner – “Chelle”

Toward the end of May, 2007, I got to meet Michelle Hines, a first cousin to Russell, more like a sister, and she quickly became a sister to me! “Love you, girl!”

May 19, 2007 – Russell Proposed!

A full year had passed since our first date! All my girlfriends and I just knew the question was coming! It couldn’t be too soon! Russell and I had prayed and felt that the Lord was leading us to continue our dating relationship for a full year, which was great! We got to spend each season of the year together, learning a lot about our preferences in weather, outdoor interests, etc. Our first date was May 22, 2006, so it was time! I look back on that time, and I was really praying for patience and grace to trust the Lord’s timing!
Russell mentioned on a Monday night that he wanted us to go on a “date day hike” the coming weekend. What do you think I said??? Of course!
That Saturday, we went back to one of our first date spots, hiking to a hidden geo-cache at Oak Mountain State Park. We opened the geo-cache, read some entries since the last time we’d been there, signed our names again, and sealed it. That was it?!?! I promise, I was thinking, “Good grief! Get me out of here! This is not all that I was expecting!”
Well, Russell wanted to hit another spot before we walked back to the main trail. He pointed due west with mention of a hollowed-out tree. I saw it, so I asked if I could lead the way. I did, and I went so fast that Russell could hardly keep up. I just wanted to “knock out” this other ‘geo-cache’ and move on with our day!
I got there, and leaning into the hollow of the tree was a wine bottle with rolled-up message in it! I was shocked and could hardly think or speak. I kept trying to say, “You had to do this, Honey! But how?! When?!”
Then, I read it…

Before I knew it, Russell was on one knee, asking me, “Will you be my wife?” to which I exclaimed, “Yes!!” over and over in squeals and pitches neither of us knew my vocal chords could reach! He put the beautiful 6-prong solitaire diamond ring on my finger, we hugged, laughed, enjoyed the moments, and I delighted in knowing that I would soon be Mrs. John Russell Wright! YEAH!!!
“Thank you, reader, for letting me share and reminisce!”

April, 2007 - Reunion on the Lake

The Kear’s came to Birmingham to meet Rollins! So, we had a weekend reunion of all the brothers and their wives (and Rollins :))!
Ryan, Russell & Chris:

The deVilleneuve’s:

Rollins peering up at Tara:

We praise our Lord for such wonderful family!

February, 2007 – Introducing Rollins to the deVilleneuve Mix

Ryan & Jenn share the same hometown of Slidell, Louisiana as Russell! Please visit the deVilleneuve's blog. The guys go back to being friends, more like brothers, since before high school.
Since introducing me and Russell, standing in our wedding and supporting our relationship to the present, Ryan and Jenn are another of our very favorite couples! We are now in the same community group – Alpha Omega – at Mountain Brook Community Church. Russell and I just need to have a baby to really fit in! ;)
February 8, 2007 marks the date of God’s new blessed gift in their lives – the birth of their son, Rollins.
This little boy is a bundle of energy, keeping Mommy and Daddy very busy! Russell and I are very grateful for the opportunity to share in this season of life with the deVilleneuve’s. God opens our eyes to new knowledge every time we get together, whether learning about marriage, child-rearing, life’s circumstances and experiences we can share and glean from each other. We are currently meeting with the deVilleneuve’s every Sunday night for fellowship, accountability and prayer, while we go through Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. We’re all learning a lot!

Gatlinburg, TN – Bringin’ in the New Year, 2007

Russell was so sweet! He reserved a cabin in Gatlinburg for the long, New Year’s weekend! We had a hot tub on the outside deck, overlooking the most picturesque skyline! We could even see the ski slopes and ski lifts! Oh, it was so romantic!
No worries…we had chaperones. Gordon and Margaret Duncan joined us for this vacation.
Standing in front of the Village Fountain:

Christmas, 2006 – Meeting the Louisiana Wright's, my future family!

Russell finally took me to meet his parents! I loved them immediately! Rusty, Claudia, Tami, Kristie and Todd and Zeke embraced me with welcome and warm hearts! We ate, visited, laughed, shared stories, and they absolutely lavished me with sweet and meaningful gifts! Christmas is a special time with Russell’s family, and this was my first Cajun Christmas! “You make a great Cajun St. Nick, Dad!” :)
Oh, what a fun Christmas weekend! Everyone quickly learned that Shireen’s favorite seat in the house was not necessarily next to Russell, rather right in front of the fireplace! I mean, come on! It was December! And, oh, what a wonderful fire!
Meeting the family went very well, and it was only a matter of time before they would become my family!
“Thank You, Lord!!”

Thanksgiving, 2006

Russell had just come back from 2-week Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) in Louisiana, so we decided to stay in Birmingham for Thanksgiving. We had an early lunch with the Forbes’ and Wright’s, which was great, as Russell was still getting to know “my side of the Wright’s.” We ate and ate and visited and visited! Always a fun time with the Birmingham Wright’s!
Then, we went to our next big meal at Missy’s! Missy, Katie and Kali had been cooking since the night before to make Thanksgiving’s dinner a perfect and an absolutely beautiful display! It most definitely was the most colorful and picture-perfect spread, all-out delicious with every traditional Turkey-Day dish!
“Thanks, girlies! Y’all are culinary artists & gifted hostesses!”
Russell cut the turkey!

Raid the Rock 2006 - Little Rock, Arkansas

This is where Adventure Racing comes in! Russell and Chris have been sporting this event for several years! I’d heard about “adventure racing” for months, really intrigued and thinking “how cool Russell is!” I mean, anyone willing to take part in a 15-36 hour, physically challenging, extremist’s race is hard core! So, I was very interested to find out what this was all about, and although unwilling to take part in it myself, I was certainly willing to join in as a member of the support crew, a very necessary team member! ;) I was finally getting to see the guys in action!
So, we drove over to Little Rock on a Friday and met up with our team members to form the team:

Chris Kear – Team Captain
Russell Wright – Team Navigator
Dawn Langner – Team Member
Tara Kear – Support Crew
Shireen Wright – Support Crew
Scott Harris – Support Crew

After Friday night registration, a hearty pasta meal at The Olive Garden and about 3 hours of sleep (!), we were on our way to the starting point! It was 4:30 on Saturday morning, the weather windy and bitter cold. First event: canoeing!! Brrrrr… All racers were launched into the lower end of a lock, which was then flooded so that racers could float into the open waters. At the sound of the horn, all canoes were off!! 14 hours later, the team had canoed, hiked, biked, repelled, climbed and crawled, successfully smiling their way to the finish line! I was SO proud of them!
“Go, team! Y’all rocked Raid the Rock ’06!”

Team members in action:
Chris, transitioning to the bike portion of the race!

Russell, in navigation mode!

Dawn, practicing her repel!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Russell's Birthday at the Beach

My life was getting very adventurous as Russell continued to pursue me! Oh, what fun! We were headin' down south - to the beach!
We took off the last Friday of September, 2006, loaded up the car and played something like "Twenty Questions" the entire 5-hour trip down. We learned a lot about each other, our families, our faith, our strengths and weakness, desires in life, etc. Chris and Tara drove down from Arkansas and met up with us into the wee hours of Saturday morning!!
What a relaxing weekend for all of us! The weather was gorgeous, and the fellowship was absolutely refreshing!
This trip marked our first "real" kisses! ;)

Meeting the Kear's & Hiking Winding Stairs

Toward the end of July, 2006, Russell drove me to Arkadelphia, Arkansas - our very first road trip! - to meet one of his very favorite couples, Chris & Tara Kear. I'd heard about "Chris & Tara" for months! It was time to finally meet! We had a grand time together! They cooked us yummy chicken and vegetable fajitas upon arriving and what great hospitality! "Tara, you have a gift for interior decorating and being a most gracious hostess. Chris, thank you for the fajitas and Sunday morning pancakes before church!!!"Another purpose for this trip was to show me one of Russell's favorite hiking spots, Winding Stairs. What a glorious day! "What a beautiful hide-away, Honey!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not like BAR-B-Q?!?!

So, how can anyone not like Bar-B-Q? When Russell learned that Shireen is not a vegetarian, he pursued onward! Jim 'N Nick's was another early date spot, and it has been since! I typically order the Pig in the Garden Salad w/Bar-B-Q chicken. Russell stands firm on their Garden Club Salad w/Buffalo Chicken Tenders, but every once in a while, he'll deviate to the Sliced Black Angus Beef Brisket. If he orders fries, it's an understood that Shireen's gonna eat several! "Thanks, honeybun! I know you don't mind sharing!! MUAH!"
We both agree that Jim 'N Nick's cheese biscuits rule! I dare you to try one!
Please visit Jim 'n Nick's! Take a gander through their menu!
Heck, I'm getting hungry!