Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

Yesterday was Lauren Brooks' birthday!! So, her husband, Joel, presented her with an Elvis Presley pinata full of candy. Fun! After worship, we all gathered on the porch and in the yard for the challenge of who would bust open Elvis! Joel called out any willing young ladies, and we had fun watching some of us girls blindly bat poor Elvis so we could get to Lauren's birthday candy and chocolates.

Joel spins each of us around, we close our eyes, and to the pinata we bat!

Lauren, the birthday girl, and one week overdue with their third little girl, I should add, gets to go first! She's a trooper! Well, no candy.

Caroline's turn!! No candy.
My turn! Nope. No candy. Connie goes for the gold! Still, no candy.
Jenn spins and swings, and, yes, we have a headless Elvis! Way to go, Jenn! about taking your frustrations out on someone!! :) I'm glad I'm Jenn's friend. Heehee.

It was a fun night! I hope Lauren enjoyed it. Great news!! Lauren's being induced tomorrow! So, we should have a Georgia Jane Brooks joining the Brooks' family and the Redeemer family real soon! We're all praying and very excited!!

Love you guys!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Fun Day

Sunday's have been my favorite day of the week for at least the last six years! Basically, since I've been a believer in Christ. You get to go to church, sing praise songs, learn more about our Father, His Son, His Holy Spirit, our faith, who we are able to be in Him; you get to rest, eat brunch or lunch, be lazy, take naps or go for afternoon walks alone or with friends, delight in fellowship all day long and into the evening! It's a fun day! Truly, I do desire to honor the Lord with how I spend my Sabbath, and, now that I'm all married (Love you, Russell!! :)), we get to partake in the treat of our Sabbath gift together!

We've recently started attending Redeemer Community Church, which meets at 5:00 on Sunday evenings. It's been so different, as I'm used to attending morning services. I'm up for either! This has just been a neat schedule change for me and Russell. If you know Russell, he's very outdoorsy! He and his buddies, Ryan and Chris, take every opportunity to get outside and play! They have so much gear that they have to have multiple cars to fit everything!! We're talkin' kayaks, canoes, bikes, camping gear and all the fun accessories! Loads of it!! When they come in from a camping trip or adventure race and unload all their stuff, you can hardly see the floor of the room! Chris' wife, Tara, calls it a "gear explosion!" She's right! :)

Well, Russell and I just got married last August, and I've taken an interest this season in learning what it will take to get me adventure racing. I'm 'stoked'! :) So, we've been heading out to Oak Mountain every Sunday morning (well, it's only been the last two weeks, but that's the plan for coming Sundays) to practice and get me geared up...mentally, physically, every aspect! So, we're training together. So far, we've biked about 10-15 miles on Sundays, trying to get in another 10-15 miles mid-week. Today, we broke out the canoe and kayak after an 11-mile ride!

All loaded up, ready to go! Russell amazingly and efficiently gets everything on the Camry! :) He does want a truck pretty soon!!

My changing room! :) I had to change into my bathing suit after our ride! Hee-hee-hee!

I've got my spray skirt on, all ready to kayak!! I did do some kayaking, just no pics of me in action. :( Next time!

A little flirt with my skirt ;)

Okay, so perhaps the greatest part of this morning (and it was ALL wonderful!!) was meeting a young man out at the Oak Mountain Lake. Russell and I both know that God has a purpose for our meeting him there. We've only met him, and, although we've only exchanged about 30 minutes worth of conversation, we sense an opportunity to share if a future meeting should arise. We've prayed for the opportunity, and we trust that the Lord will continue to lead.

God is so good, y'all. I'd been praying and hoping that the predicted rains would hold off so that we could get our ride and water time in today, and it was so sweet...the rain came just as we headed out of the park, washing all the sand off the gear...couldn't have been more perfect!

Regardless, we praise our Lord! He is good to us.

Family Night with the Nilipour's

Russell got home from drill duty at 5:00 last night, unloaded ALL his gear and cleaned up for dinner with my family! We headed to their home, not even 5 minutes away, and had a great time with everyone! Dinner was delicious, too! We grilled out steaks and chicken, had baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, a beautiful salad, other fixins, and my yummy chocolate-kahlua eclair!
From top left to lower right, me (Shireen), my dad, Soraya (my twin sister), Granny, my mom, Lady Bug (the pomeranian ;))
Soraya snapped a shot so that Russell could join in the family picture fun! :)
We had a great evening and look forward to more time with my family!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Drill Weekend = Girls' Weekend!!

Russell left for drill Friday morning at 4:30. Well, I was awake, so I got my day started, too! I was off to the gym, got in a great workout, went on to work until just after noon, then headed to run errands and get my evening started! Whoohoo! It's a girls' weekend!

Once I got finished with my errand running, it was only 2:00! What to do with my afternoon? Hmmm...I know, I'll go get my manicure and pedicure that my sweet husband gave me for my birthday! An hour and a half later (!!!!), completely relaxed from all the pampering (even the chair was massaging me! :)), I walk out of the salon with freshly polished nails and an "I can't believe this is really happening" attitude. I just feel so spoiled!

An hour later, I'm meeting my sweet girlfriend, Sarah Dunn, at her office, Architecture Works, in downtown Birmingham, ready to peruse the Downtown Art Festival!

Sarah's so modest, but she's an amazing architect, and she definitely glorifies the Lord through her work...serving through ministries both locally and internationally with her architectural skills and heart for people. I'm proud of her.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I've lived in Birmingham ALL my life and have never been here! Sad! Well, here's Linn Park! So pretty!
Look at the water flowing down hill behind Sarah...really neat park!It was a HOT night, and I considered asking these boys if I could join them! :)
Then, we ran into Kate Merritt Davis! I work with her and her husband! She's an abstract artist, and I love the vibrant colors in her work! Visit her Etsy site for more!
I appreciate the primary colors...this sunshine is 3-dimensional! Very cool!

I could have gone home completely satisfied with the day and evening! However, my thoughtful friend Sarah had another surprise up her sleeve...she treated me to a birthday dinner at my all-time-favorite, Jim N Nick's! I tanked up on cheese biscuits, a bbq chicken sandwich and cole slaw! They sent me home with a big ole slice of chocolate pie since it was my birthday! :) It was YUM, too!

What a fun-filled Friday! Fulfilling in so many ways! "Thank you, Sarah, for treating me!!" :) I am so grateful for genuine fellowship in our Lord.

Off to bed, I was excited for what Saturday might bring!

Chocolate-Kahlua Eclair

-Graham Crackers
-3 small packages French Vanilla Instant Pudding
-4 Cups Milk
-12 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
-1/4 Cup Kahlua

-1 stick Margarine/Butter
-1/3 Cup Cocoa powder
-1 Cup Sugar
-1/2 tsp. Salt
-1/4 Cup Milk
-1 tsp. Vanilla

First, make the icing...
Melt the Margarine/Butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, sugar, milk & salt. Stir & cook to boiling. Boil 1 minute, while stirring.
Stir in vanilla after the minute of boiling. Remove from heat & set aside.
Second, make the pudding mixture...
Dissolve pudding mixes into milk, whisking or using a beater, until thick. Fold cool whip into pudding.
One-by-one, soak sheets of graham crackers in Kahlua (both sides), fully lining the bottom of a 9X13 Pyrex with the soaked graham crackers. The more you soak them, the better! Pour pudding mixture over. Add another layer of soaked graham crackers. Pour chocolate icing mixture evenly over. Cover & refrigerate...try to plan ahead so that you can refrigerate a full 24 hours before serving! All flavors are more combined and intensified! Yum! Enjoy!

Servings: 16 or less! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Girlfriends are a HUGE blessing! Cori Dillon and I met through church (I think! We've just known each other for so long...I forget how we met!). We've known each other for at least four years. We've been partners in a lot of things...walks, hikes, Bible studies, Scripture memory (60 verses in 30 weeks!), accountability & prayer, coffee breaks from life, name it!

I got to spend only one hour with her last night, but I was on a high and praising the Lord for our time together! We met up at the Summit Barnes & Noble and sat outside and just chatted up a storm, catching up on anything and everything that hit our minds! Cori's married to "Big" Daniel and mommy to "Baby" Daniel. :) She's so talented...a wonderful wife and mommy, a nurse and pilates instructor by profession, an artist, an amazing encourager and my friend! :)
"I love you, Cori!! Let me know when you're ready for an early Saturday morning hike!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Redeememer Community Church Fellowship Dinner #1

Redeemer Community Church officially "launched" in the Crestwood home of Pastor Joel Brooks and his beautiful and very welcoming family on Sunday, March 31st. We meet at 5:00 each Sunday evening, prepared to worship our great God with transparency! We get to sing worship songs together; someone shares a passion or testimony; Joel leads us through a message - currently, we're feeding on the reality and applicability of the Gospel...not merely knowledge of it, but living it out; we sing more songs of worship to our King; then, we're encouraged to go out to dinner - "Get to know someone!" as Joel exclaims each week. :) It's FUN, it's challenging, as it should be! Russell & I are thankful to be a part of this newly birthed church within The Church!

We delighted in our first fellowship dinner, much like a "mixed-up supper" last night! You don't know who you're going to 'end up' eating with when you sign up weeks ahead of time, but you go, and you find out soon enough! :) What a great way to meet and get to know your brothers and sisters in Christ! God has blessed me through opportunities of fellowship, as I've learned so much about Him and so much about who I and my siblings-in-Christ are to be, as we seek and follow Him! I was so encouraged and so impressed with everyone's story last night!

We had fun, as we shared a pot-luck meal in the home of the deVilleneuve's... Ryan & Jenn deVilleneuve
Russell & Shireen Wright
Sam & Emily Hawes
Scottie Stone, Emily Whitty & Jenn deVilleneuve
Hopefully, this is just the first of many RCC Fellowship Dinners! We had so much fun, and if you're reading this and interested in learning more about Redeemer Community, post a comment or email me at, and I'll share more!
P.S. Scottie, I'm impressed with the choice on dessert - Boston Cream Cake!! Chocolate's always a winner! :)
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25
God is so good to us!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh, the Surprises to Which We Awake!!

We awoke to a great and beautiful morning today; both Russell and I slept so restfully and solid last night! I was so excited, getting my morning started off so that I was ahead of schedule - my morning 'quiet time' was fulfilling, moving on to shower and dress and pack my lunch, even looking forward to getting to work early! Russell kisses me goodbye, walks out the door with his Bible and journal in hand, heading to his men's Tuesday morning breakfast & Bible study. A few minutes later, he walks back in! Oh, maybe he wants another kiss!!!!

Next thing I hear, "Honey, I've got a flat. I'm gonna change it real quick!" I'm thinking, "Oh, bless his heart! Maybe I could help!" Mind you, I have not a clue on how to fix a tire! Well, I could say that this morning, before I asked if I could watch and learn. So, now I can fix a tire! I hope to never have to, but if the need should arise, I'm thankful to know what to do!

Of course, being the newly-intentional blogger, I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple of shots of my diligent husband as he literally coached me through changing a tire. So cute, so patient and such a good teacher! I love him!

Loosening the lugnuts. :) (mechanic lingo!)

The culprit!


It took him maybe 8 minutes from start to finish, and he was so calm throughout the process! Not a smudge of grease on him! SO impressive!

P.S. He made it to Bible study, I got to work...almost early. ;)

Too Funny Not To Share!

I guess Russell and I have been married long enough (all of 8 months!!) for him to give me this birthday card! :) I asked Russell to scan it so that I could share!
A couple of old foagies havin' a little fun while doin' the dishes. Ha Ha!! Yep, sums us up! ;)

The card reads, "Happy birthday to my main squeeze!"

Well, thank you, honey!! Very cute and very sweet! I hope we're still this silly in our 90's! (if we're still kickin' ;))

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Wonderful Birthday Weekend!!

Well, as you've hopefully read in the last entry, my birthday weekend started out so sweet! Lots of fun, good fellowship and yummy treats and foods with great and special friends! Thank you all, again, my sweet friends!
I forgot to mention that we got to spend Saturday morning with Dan & Ashley Matteo at Oak Mountain, hiking the morning away! We did snap a couple of great pictures at Peavine Falls, just before Ashley's camera died, but I'm gonna have to sweet talk her or Dan into emailing me those. :) Arrgh, I forgot my camera! We hiked a good 2 or so hours, and I was IMPRESSED that Ashley was so energetic and fearless being 6 months pregnant! My quadriceps were shakey, and I was truly scared at several inclines and declines! I wish I could prove to you with pictures how steep and narrow parts of the trail became!! "Ashley, you impressed me!" I was both humbled and encouraged to be more courageous!
Russell and I had also taken our bikes (well, I've borrowed Dan's), so we were planning to practice a little riding after hiking. We were too pooped after the hike! So, we planned on going back to Oak Mountain with the bikes the next morning, and we did! It was perfect weather, and SO much FUN!!! I've not ridden a bike since I was probably 11 or 12 years old! That's 20 years ago, y'all! WOW! So, I took it easy getting started, learning how to shift the all-too-many gears :) for the first half hour out there. Russell is so patient and such a good teacher, so I had a quick 101 on biking, and then we took off! We went 12 miles before we knew it! It was the most invigorating outdoor workout/activity I've experienced in so long! I highly recommend it! In fact, if you want to go for a ride, let me know! I'll go!

Here are some fun pics that encouraged me to blog!

"Okay, foot (size 11!!), get into that stirrup."

Russell made riding a mountain bike look SO easy! He's on one tire!!

After a birthday morning bike ride, Russell and I went to one of our favorite brunch restaurants, Village Tavern! I got my favorite Florentine Omellette, and he indulged in the Prime Rib! We were hungry! Thank you, Rusty & Claudia (Russell's parents :)) for treating us!! :) It was so yummy, and it was fun to get all dressed up for an afternoon brunch date!

We actually met a couple of friends there...Whitney Wright (great last name!! :) no relation) and her beau, Jason. :) We had fun visiting, guys!

Again, a wonderful birthday weekend!! I am thankful for God's blessings of friends, the opportunities for fellowship and for this last year and whatever this next year may bring! Amen!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back from yet another hiatus...

Sorry, friends. I've not been very motivated to blog, recently. Blogging is very give and take, I'm learning. I've gotten the 'taking' part down, as I glean from you wonderful bloggers, but I've not been a good giver! So, forgive me! I want to be better! Please feel free to hold me accountable with emails or comments...hopefully of encouragement! ;)

We've had such a great weekend! I've learned, too, that if I have pictures, I'm much more likely to blog! Well, some of our activities were documented this weekend, BUT by others' cameras, so maybe I can share those pictures as I get them later. For now, I'll just share about those good times via good old fashioned word!
This is my birthday weekend! YEAH! My actual birth date is April 20th, and I'll be 31! I feel like I look age 15 or 16, certainly not 31!!! Darby, if you're reading this, I'm much like you...very natural, very little make-up, pretty darn plain jane...hence, the youthful 'facade' :). I also act so young, and I like to believe it's because I'm so joyful in the Lord! Truly, I took on this joyful demeanor upon becoming a new creation in Christ, and it's wonderful! So, I praise the Lord!

Friday night, Ryan & Jenn surprised me with a birthday evening! Russell and I walked into their home, prepared for dinner and care group evening, and I saw the 'Happy Birthday' streamer that Jenn had hand-made for Rollins hanging up in the kitchen...I thought to myself, "It's not Rollins' birthday. Huh. Oh! It's MY birthday!" I screamed, and I was elated! They remembered, and I felt SO loved! They surprised me yet again a few hours later with one of my favorite desserts, presented with lit candles, their yummy Eclair! What a sweet evening! Thanks, guys! :) Love you!

Look at the yummy Eclair cake!!
Of course, Russell has learned how important birthdays are to me! :) Not just mine...others too! It's a day to be celebrated for at least a month! I mean, come on! Draw that celebration out! He's so sweet! He gave me a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure, which I truly need because I will never take the time to stop and do my own nails! Even as I type, my cuticles are taking over my nails! It's really bad. Okay, Stephanie, don't come looking at my nails tomorrow night! Or'll give you something to blog about! ;)

Then, tonight, continuing on with the birthday celebration, we got to go over to our neighbors', Aryvia & Kate Holmes,' home, where we acknowledged (never actually sang or lit candles...sad!) both Kate's and my birthdays! Happy birthday, Kate! She turned 27 on April 17th! The deVilleneuve's and Drake's were there, too! We had a fun time! Aryvia grilled all our meats - hot dogs, sausage, venison, chicken, kabobs, you name it, we had it! Kate, your salad and cream cheese-pepper peach preserve appetizer with crackers were YUM! Jenn, your potatoes au gratin...delicioso! Birthday dessert - traditional yellow butter cake recipe smothered with milk chocolate icing! Highlight of the night - GREAT fellowship! Heidi, we're serious about the adventure racing! You'd be amazing!

Pictures from tonight:

Kate & Aryvia Holmes

James, Heidi & Isaiah Drake

Heidi & Isaiah, Jenn & Rollins

Russell & me :)
Well, it's passed midnight! I went to sleep at 10:30, and I woke up hungry at 11:30, so I came downstairs for a 'midnight snack!' Nothing like a glass of chocolate milk, followed by a bowl of oatmeal with a spoon of Naturally More peanut butter! :) Surely I'm not the only one among us bloggers to get up and snack at midnight!?!?! Well, at least I blogged! :)
Thanks for letting me share! Hopefully, more to come!

Love! And Happy Birthday to anyone else who may have a birthday in this sweet Spring month of April!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

There's a Canoe in our Living Room!

I love my husband! He is so fearless! Such a child at heart! I truly want to be more like this!! I'm praying even now that the Lord would continue to work in my heart, releasing me of the bondage of all fears to which I hold so tight. I want to live out the Truth that sets me free!

Yesterday, I get home, just as a storm is brewing, and he wants to go to a sporting goods store! Not only that, he wants to go because they're having an outdoor tent sale on their kayaks and canoes with a temporary pool to try out any water 'toys.' Okay, so we head out the door, me in his spare pair of Chaco's, a pair of capri cargo pants and my new, huge rain coat! :) I'm ready to be brave and daring with my husband...I want him to be so proud of his strong and courageous wife!

We pass our neighbor as we lock the front door, and she does not hesitate to let us know that we're crazy for getting out in this messy weather. Russell did not hesitate to continue on to the car, so I followed, acting fearless and my heart racing in the moment! We head that way, rain clearly ahead, lightning in the distance, thunder catching my attention, and I quietly begin to pray. Russell put his hand on my knee, "You okay, Honey?" "Yep, doing great. Just praying. Oh, but I trust you, Honey. I do!" :)

So, we get to Dick's, and they're temporarily shutting down the outdoor show due to more coming storms. Russell even braved asking (in the gusty winds, I might add!!), "Can I just have 10 minutes with one of your canoes in the pool?!?!" to which the kind gentleman said, "Sorry, sir. We'll be open tomorrow and Sunday, if you can come back."

Russell went back today! He bought himself a new canoe and is even now 'perfecting' it with appropriate our living room! :) He hasn't told me about the experience of trying it out in the pool yet. I'm looking forward to hearing about that. I was just too proud of him and too intrigued to not share with you! Gosh, I wish that I could 'get into' his world of outdoor sports, but my idea and his idea are completely different. He needs to be rough and tumble with his guy friends. I much prefer the gentler experiences of the great outdoors. :) I told him today, "Honey, I fully support your outdoor activities, and I want you to go have fun with your buddies. I'll be home with dinner ready when you're finished. I'll be your more domestic partner." ;)

Well, thank you for letting me share, or brag, on my ambitious husband in whom I find great joy and delight. God continues to bless our lives and marriage!