Tuesday, August 30, 2011

North Carolina in photographs

As I sat down to write this blog, I realized I cannot really put into words how wonderful North Carolina was to our hearts.  I should have pulled the camera out in the airplane as we were landing to show my fellow Texans what the color green looks like on land.  From that point on North Carolina had already captured my heart.  

When we decided to leave our hometown during Holden's birthday week and actual birthday, I was a little apprehensive about what that would mean.  What this week ended up being was an amazing testimony of how God orchestrates every detail when His children work together around the world.  I cannot possibly imagine a better way to celebrate the life God gave us a year ago.  

I always look through photos of a trip and wish I had taken more.  Here are a few that we did get.

I don't have a photo of Whitney and I together, but I think someone took one of us.  She allowed us to take her [brand new] car all weekend, which was a tremendous blessing.  Just like she is.  

Chet and I stopped to eat at "Elijah's" for our first dinner in NC.  We enjoyed a romantic boardwalk stroll together.

 Of course I had to take a photo of the "Henrietta III". :)
 Our first day on the beach.  We didn't realize we would want to swim until we arrived.  We hurried back to the hotel and grabbed swimsuits and spent the whole day there after dipping our feet in the fabulous waves.  The water was warm and perfect for body surfing!

 Definitely recommend Wrightsville Beach!
 My dear friend Ashley suggested "The Bridgetender" restaurant for a date night.  We made reservations and I am so glad we did.  It was lightly sprinkling, but still warm in the high 80's.  It was a perfect date night.  This is the bridge lifting up for a sailboat to pass under.

 The views were amazing all evening.  I felt like I was in a book.
 Sunset...it took me a few minutes to realize why the "sun" wasn't setting on the water.  I haven't been to the East Coast in a while...ha!! ;)  Chet liked to give me a hard time about that the whole trip.

 Before we left Wilmington, Chet wanted to visit the USS North Carolina battleship.  It was HUGE, awesome and sobering.   I felt a little queasy being underneath the very warm (easily 100+ degrees) diesel-smelling decks for the two-hour tour; but made me even more grateful for the soldiers who were willing to spend a year onboard.  (By the way, a sign below deck said it was over 135 degrees while they were working - and fighting in battle - in the engine and boiler rooms, day in day out.  Freedom isn't free.)

 We left Wilmington and headed to Fayetteville on Friday afternoon, before "Hurricane Irene" made landfall.  The very difficult decision was made to cancel the race, as race support (porta-potties, etc.) pulled out on us and made it impossible to hold a race.  The safety of participants and volunteers was too important to continue with the original plans.  This was a lessen in God's plans being greater than ours.  It was an emotional decision, after Amy and her team had spent the last 6 months planning every detail to host the perfect race.  Doors were opened though, and we were graciously offered a room at the Marson's home church to gather on race morning.  The event turned out wonderful and we met the most precious people.  The children were so sweet I am getting teary-eyed just remembering them all...they gave us handmade cards, notes, hugs and the kindest words.  Wow.  Amy and I agreed that not all races are physical, and we learned another lesson that we are to endure difficult spiritual and emotional races in life.  It was so fitting to what this past year has been, maybe even more than a physical race.
God is good.

My RUNNING PARTNERS from Snyder braved the hurricane and joined us for the weekend.  It meant SO much to me that they did.

Amy, in her gift of hospitality, made every.single.detail about our stay with their family above and beyond.  This is part of the reason it has taken me so long to write about this weekend.  Her love was and is overwhelming to me.  She is sisters with one of my dearest friends here in Snyder, and I can honestly say I thank the Lord for their friendship daily.

Look at these COOKIES!!  Each day we walked into "our" bedroom filled with such love like this.

 Both of our race bibs were #28 and we had a photo of our son next to our bed.

Ugandan keychain and necklace with Holden's birthstone.  Such love.  

Breath-taking details.

Because of the races all around the country, spurred on by the race in Fayetteville, Amy's dream to help the most innocent, beautiful babies in Kampala will soon be under way.  Hearing of Amy's time in Uganda, especially the baby orphanage, gave such purpose to Holden's life on his birthday.  I knew exactly what God had in store for this day before Holden was ever created.

We do not have a "grand total" for the races yet, which is a wonderful "problem" to have, because donations are still coming in.  I KNOW that next time Amy visits Uganda, she will get to kiss those beautiful little faces and see how healthy their lives are because of the clean water they will have to mix in their formula and take baths in.

I find it a little strange that a piece of my heart lives in a country I have never even traveled to yet.  Maybe it's because our son's life has such meaning there.  It has taken a lot of growing this past year to understand the intricate plans God has laid out.  As soon as I land on Ugandan soil, I will be taking the first ride I can get to this orphanage.  I want to tell those babies how much they are loved.
Dear Holden,

How has a year gone by?  How has it been a year since we gave you your last kisses on earth?  I didn't know how we could live one day after you went to heaven a year ago.  I didn't know what today would look like at all.  

We miss you so much.  It has taken me a couple of days to write your birthday letter, because I have not been able to put into words what I feel.  I simply miss you.  

By God's unfailing faithfulness towards us, we have made it here today.  We haven't only existed until today, we have found joy and purpose in your life.  

For your birthday, there will be a deep well drilled at an orphanage in Kampala.  Hundreds of people helped support runs on your birthday weekend that has allowed this to be possible.  I remember thinking of how we would plan the 'best birthday party' for you a year ago.  I know you see this is a much better birthday present.  Your birthday has more purpose than I could have imagined.  We will meet those babies one day and tell them about you.  

Happy Birthday to our sweet son.  We couldn't ask God for you to be here with us today.  We love you too much for that.  

Until that day when we will no longer count by days and years....we love you more than we ever have.

~Daddy & Mommy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

North Carolina, Hurricane Irene, Running for WATER

The second we spotted the lush North Carolina countryside in our plane's window, I was ecstatic and a little emotional.

Everything is so gorgeously green here.  Maybe I have been in dry, drought-stricken West Texas for too long, but seriously...it's GREEN.

There is WATER everywhere!  It's a PERFECT setting for a run that is all about clean water!

The Holden Uganda Family 5K Run/Walk officially kicks off three mornings from now.  I cannot believe it's actually here. Our run coordinator, Amy M., has worked tirelessly for 6 months on this run.  She has a team of people who literally give me goosebumps.  They are all unselfishly working for the Kingdom- praying, giving, dedicating their time, etc.  I absolutely cannot wait to hear of the grand total the runs here, in Snyder, Michigan, Colorado and Arkansas.  What a perfect way to celebrate Holden's life in heaven: building at least several water wells!!  (Teams in each of those other locations are also working tirelessly for the Kingdom.  It almost makes me dizzy to think about!)  Get ready to learn of all this soon!

Some of our trip highlights thus far:
We made our connecting flight in Dallas, although there were certainly doubts and some practice running required.
Our luggage wasn't so lucky.
My dear friend Whitney met us at the airport and has allowed us to borrow her car all weekend.  I loved our [too short] convo and look forward to more this week.
Not having any plans for today and tomorrow, so leisurely driving through the historic towns with my handsome man all the way to Wilmington.  Hunger pains made us speed up a little...
After eating a 6am breakfast and getting to skip lunch, (see connecting flight above), we found a very yummy place called "Elijah's" on Cape Fear.  Fresh seafood and sunset on the water is hard to beat.
Chet enjoyed some ice cream from a little place off the boardwalk.  He said it was some of the best he's ever had, but I think that could be due to jet lag.  It was the cutest quaint little shoppe though, and it made me wish (for the hundredth time) that I liked ice cream.
The Smiths rescued our stranded luggage on their way into Raleigh.  I am forever grateful for the toothbrush and everything else my bag contains.
Hurricane Irene has made more of an impact on our friends back in Texas than people here.  I assure you we are safe and sound.  The locals haven't mentioned it once.  The weather is calm and pleasant.  We are not staying in a high danger town.  We will be off the beach when it hits.  Anddd... the race is safely inland (Fayetteville).
Chet's theory is that we should appreciate getting to experience rain! :)
We happen to serve the One who creates hurricanes, so this race is protected.
We brought our Canon camera with us, so hopefully we will have good documentation of this experience.  I will post the tons of photos when we get back to Texas next week!

I can't imagine writing today without mentioning that today is the one year marker that Holden's friend Reese has been living in perfect Glory.  I have thought non-stop about Reese, Reese's family, and what kind of profound impact she and her mommy Mary Beth have made on my life, and thousands of other lives.  Reese and Holden share a heavenly birthday week, which makes me believe there is a humungous celebration going on right now.
Happy Birthday beautiful girl.  I am glad I have eternity to learn about you one day.

Chet and I realize we would never have boarded the plane this morning, had our life not taken this path.  This trip is quite bittersweet, although more sweet than bitter.  It is a picture of how GREAT and TENDER God's love for us is.  I stand amazed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Today I had a really long list I wanted (need) to accomplish, which means I turned to Facebook to avoid starting on it.  I am good at that.

I saw that Chelsea had posted four blogs today, and knew I had to read them, since her heart for God is life-changing.  As I opened up her blog, the song Lifesong by Casting Crowns was playing.  If you are ever wanting to know how to make your Lifesong sing to the King...check out her ministry.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Birthday Planning!

We are in full swing of birthday planning!

This birthday celebration does not involve two cakes, balloons or wrapped toys.  But it does have thousands of laughing, beautiful, precious children...who can celebrate more happy birthdays!!!

We couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate Holden's birthday weekend than to be given the awesome opportunity to allow children make it to more of their birthdays!!  Can you?

The Holden Uganda 5Ks are coming up...and it isn't about running or walking at all.  It's about birthdays.  Can you please help us help cutie pies like this little one make it to their next birthdays?
That is one more day to learn about Jesus.  One more day to know that He loves them so very much.

They also will answer, 'Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" Matthew 25:44-45


I think people (myself included) use the term "life-changing" too loosely.  There were many events in my life up until last year that I called life-changing.

I finally understand what a life-altering kind of change means.  A few mornings ago as I was getting ready for work, my mind wandered to the girl I was a year ago.  My walk with the Lord was lukewarm, Chet and I had a good (or we thought good) marriage; our life was just what we wanted. I was selfish.  If you would have mentioned other people's problems and pains to me, I would have thought about it, prayed [genuinely] for them, and likely forgotten about it a few days later.  I can even think of many senseless things I said and did when people around me were grieving. (I have to remind myself of this when I am encountered by an insensitive or perceived rude person.  I believe without knowing pain, it is almost impossible to empathize with or understand it; I too was that insensitive person at one time.)  

If Holden would have stayed with us, who knows what kind of hearts, life and family we would have.  

I can say that although I have fought it many times year, I believe God's plan for us is loving.  He placed our son in His presence, and allowed us to truly "break our hearts for what breaks His".  

Will I understand why we want(ed) to be parents so very badly, yet happen to be the only couple in our close circle of friends without children on earth?
Will I ever understand the events leading up to Holden's passing?
Will I ever understand why a healthy baby can just die?
Will I understand why that baby was our baby?

Do I have to understand?

Even David asked God if His faithfulness extended to the grave (Psalm 88, specifically verse 11).  He answered that in Psalm 89.

Nearly a year has come and gone.  Although a lifetime away from perfect, I am grateful for my changed heart.  I believe I can finally grieve for what grieves God.  Chet and I both agree that our marriage has never been stronger.  My walk with Christ is so much more vibrant and real.  When I have pushed Him away and wanted to do anything on Earth rather than pray, He has pursued my heart.

We were given a gift in our firstborn son.  I hope there never comes a day that we forget what God has done for us through the gift of Holden's life.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.  Psalm 89:2

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

lights of this world

Just 17 days until the Holden Uganda Races.
Just 18 days until Holden's first birthday.

We want happiness and joy on Holden's birthday weekend, as that is all our son knows.  We already have joy knowing about all the amazing people coming together across the world to run in and support these races.  They are ultimately digging wells of water that will allow people to have the amazing privilege of clean water. 

It is a feeling I cannot describe to be a part of so much love and hope.   

...among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:15b-16 (Emphasis mine)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Run. Snyder Edition.

Holden Uganda
5K Family Fun Run/Walk
Snyder, Texas
Saturday, August 27th, 9am
Prairie Dog Town in Towle Park

Online Registration - $20 

Registration on the day of the race:
Pavilion in Towle Park - $25
Registration fee includes a Holden Uganda run t-shirt. 

Lace up your shoes, bring your whole family,
and provide life-saving water!