We are entering a slower time here in my sunny south. The weather is gently changing to cooler nights and brisk days. Leaves are spiraling down from the trees in the perfect dance between them and the breeze…I love autumn.
I love the slower pace. I love seeing a tangible reminder of the old things being stripped away in preparation for the new growth to come.
It is a season of changing and remembering; of thankfulness. Of remembering that even in the storms of life, we are to just be still…. peace, be still. It is a reminder to rest in the promises of our Father above to sustain us, to hold us, and to set us exactly where we need to go- it’s beautiful.
Just as the weather is shifting, I too am in a season of growing…of changing. Each and every day brings my husband and I closer to the arrival date of our precious son. I’m feeling my body be stretched to limits I didn’t realize it had. Even in the midst of being in pain for various reasons, or being so sick to my stomach that I wonder if I will ever enjoy food again, every day I carry little Oliver is a blessing, even when I feel like I can’t possibly go any further. After having experienced a loss and then having some really scary moments earlier on with this pregnancy, I am so much more aware of what a gift it is to be carrying a child that is doing well, growing, and seems to be flourishing. Every time I feel him kick or have the hiccups, I am reminded of the Lord’s tender mercies in knitting him together in my womb. I am praying that just as my body is growing and stretching to accommodate my growing boy, the Lord is growing my heart into what it needs to be so that my actions and words will always point back to Christ, especially as this new endeavor of motherhood becomes one of my greatest life works.
I’m watching my husband transform into such a wonderful daddy- he cares for me so tenderly, and prays over me and our growing son every single day. Watching him assemble the baby crib this past week made me want to sit and cry with thankfulness over the Lord’s goodness in bringing us together. Our discussions very much revolve now around what would be best for all three of us, whether it be short-term or long-term goals, or even just day-to-day decision making about what we will eat or what we want to work on around the house.
Even as the storms of life seem to rage and roar around us, I am thankful that the Lord provides peace and rest in Him. I am thankful that in this season, He has provided dear friends and wonderful opportunities for growth. I am thankful that even though I am ready to reach the finish line with this pregnancy, He is there- ever constant, ever faithful…ever reminding me through His wondrous works that I simply need to faithfully walk this race He has set me on…faithfully follow Him wherever He leads…and to be still and quiet as I rest in His goodness and mercy to me. Peace, be still….
I’ve sorely neglected my blog over the past few months. Life has just been extra crazy and finding time to write is often-times few and far between. I figure I’ll just start from where I left off, and blog around the pictures as I find them.
December brought lots of health challenges. God is so faithful, and He continued to show His hand at work through the good, and the bad. We are so thankful that each and *every* His mercies are renewed. Great is His faithfulness. <3
December 1st was the Christmas parade in Centreville. This is always a lot of fun for us and a highlight of the Christmas season for my family! This year, Daniel got to join in for the first time, and that was especially wonderful as well. 😀
Setting everything up:
Darby was a little Christmas elf! <3
Parade lights through the fog:
One of the things that I love about the Centreville parade is that they always take the parade route up right in front of the nursing home, and they bring the residents outside and bundle them in blankets so that they can see the parade. It brings tears to my eyes every single time. <3
Next up was my birthday- my very first since getting married! The first week of December had been a particularly difficult one for me for many reasons. I actually told my mama that I just wanted to forget about my birthday and move on for the year…I’m so glad my mom and husband knew better. 🙂
Mama and I went out for breakfast, and she brought me birthday ice cream! I so enjoyed getting to spend the time with her for a little bit.
Daniel took me out for dinner and then for a fun evening of bowling! My birthday fell on a Tuesday, so that meant $2 bowling games and $2 shoe rental! Perfect timing, that deal was. 😀
All in all, I am so thankful that the Lord chose to allow me to see another birthday. He is so merciful and good to me in all ways. <3
Next up was the first snowfall we have experienced together!
Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever? I love him so much. <3
I absolutely loved seeing everything bathed in white…we don’t get snow very often in Alabama, but when we do, we sure do love seeing how beautiful everything is covered in snow.
We began attending a new church a few weeks after getting married. It just became very obvious that the Lord was moving us on from the church we had been attending. So, we visited a couple of different places, but ended up settling down in the sweetest little church that is quite close to us. One of the things we love about this church is their heart for reaching the community for Christ. A week or so before Christmas found us passing out candy and tracts to the local community at another Christmas parade.
Afterwards, we went and looked at the Christmas trees on the Tinsel Trail at the West Blocton Coke Ovens park. Everyone did such a great job with their trees!
It was also high-time for us to get our Christmas decorations up. Daniel had the coolest idea for the Christmas tree….
We are STILL having folks come and make comments about how cool that tree was! I’m so thankful for my imaginative guy…he makes life so much fun. 🙂
Some shots of the inside:
The sibling gifts were my idea…these were just too good not to do. 😀
And Daniel made this Christmas card holder for me!
These Christmas cards have a really special meaning to me. It’s a very tangible display of how the Lord shows us love in amazing ways… I had told Daniel I didn’t think we would get very many Christmas cards this year, because we were newly married and most folks don’t have our address. Christmas cards have always been one of my favorite things to look at and send around the holidays. The next day, I found out from a friend at church that we had been added to the Christmas card list at church, and she brought me a huge stack of cards from the Christmas card mailbox there addressed to us! I am continually amazed at how the Lord works in our lives, in both big and small ways. <3
We had our big family Christmas get-together on Christmas Eve…we ate entirely too much and laughed and cut up and exchanged gifts and just enjoyed the time together. This year was super-special- Daniel’s first Christmas with us! 🙂
On Christmas Day, Daniel said that we ought to go and drive somewhere and do something…so we did. 🙂
Mobile was absolutely beautiful, and COLD!! 🙂
That about does it for our 2017 adventures…. stay tuned for how we started 2018 with our trip across the country to see Route 66, the Pacific ocean, and to find some sunshine!! 🙂
God has been taking us on quite the wild ride of life around the Shevchenko house lately! We’ve been having to work through so many different situations across all areas of our lives- I am so thankful that the Lord already has everything worked out, and we need only to trust Him.
My husband reminds me every few days that we need to trust in the Lord. Trust in His provision, trust in His mercies, trust that He will lead us through every possible situation that comes up. There are so many things that have happened over the past few months, many of which I cannot fathom nor understand. There have been roads we have had to walk that I never would have pictured myself needing to go on. There have been changes in relationships, changes in situations, deaths of people who were dear to me, extreme sickness, and so many other things. I found myself trying to pray over one of the situations a few days ago, and realized that I didn’t even have the words. As I was sitting and contemplating over it, I remembered the scripture verse about the Spirit interceding for us in groans too deep for words…
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:26-28)
I started sobbing thinking about that verse and the fact God already knows what I need. He knows the sorrows and cares of my heart better than I. He has been working all things (yes, EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING!) together for the good of His saints since before time even began. As my husband continually reminds me, I just need to trust Him.
The sermon at church this past Sunday evening was from James chapter 1. More specifically, the sermon was about “counting it all joy”. We are supposed to “count it all joy”. It doesn’t matter how bad a trial seems- we are to consider it to be a time of great joy because the Lord is working in our lives! No trial is ever greater than the grace the Lord provides to us as we are in the midst of it. The passage goes on to say that trials, or the testing of our faith, is what produces steadfastness and patience in us. James elaborates that when patience completes it’s work, we will be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Patience is one of the things God grows in us through the process of our sanctification. As our pastor pointed out on Sunday, the very best way to grow in patience is to go through a trial. You’re going to realize very quickly if you have any or not. 🙂
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (patience). And let steadfastness (patience) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Further down in James 1, we come upon verse 12:
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
The prayer of my heart over the last few days is for the Lord to mold and shape me into the woman who remains steadfast under trial. The woman who says, no matter what, “I fully and completely trust in and on Christ Jesus”.
“Behold, we consider those blessed who have remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the LORD, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11)
May we all seek to be steadfast and earnestly seeking to trust Him more. <3
When asked about our honeymoon and how we planned to spend it, we answered that we weren’t sure where all we’d end up- that’s what happens when two lovers of adventure get married. 😉
Rather than plan a formal honeymoon, aside from one specific place we wanted to go to on our wedding day, we wanted to just play it by ear and see where all we’d end up. We also wanted the flexibility of going nowhere and doing nothing if that’s what we felt like that day. While our time is somewhat flexible right now while waiting on the finishing of Daniel’s immigration paperwork, we have a rather unique opportunity to structure our time how we like, and leave at the drop of a hat if we so desire.
We’ve been taking full advantage of that, haha! 😀
When we left my parent’s home after getting married, we came home and changed into more suitable clothes to climb the many stairs to the top of Vulcan! We’d made plans for months about going up to Vulcan to watch the sunset after our wedding…. the view is incredible, and sunsets and sunrises have been a favorite shared love for both of us. We couldn’t imagine a better place to go that day.
It was surreal, driving up there with just us, and being able to rejoice in the fact that we were married! I don’t think we hardly quit holding hands and stealing kisses the whole time we were there. 🙂
And looking down and seeing the wedding bands on our fingers made me catch my breath…. <3
God is just so good, y’all. I can’t even tell you how good it was just to be standing on the platform holding the hand of my best friend, whom I was now married to. Some things are just felt too much to be able to explain them in words. <3
We watched the sunset from high atop Red Mountain on Vulcan. It was magical- simply magical. We stayed nearly until closing just taking in the sight and enjoying the wonders of God’s creation through the sunset. It was perfect. Afterwards, we grabbed a milkshake and headed back home to start settling into life in our little home in the valley.
It was time to start figuring out what we liked to eat…
How long it would take to walk to the local convenience store and post office….
And to figure out what we were going to do about the car situation, since the truck decided to go kaput the night before we got married. 🙂 It was also time to start researching what sort of tools Daniel would need to start purchasing to replace the ones he sold in Australia, as we wanted to build a chicken coop and furniture for the house. That meant hanging out at the Home Depot…
A lot. 😀
We also stocked the freezer with the basics. Which is basically ice cream. Y’all already know we have a history with that….. 😉
Daniel found a listing for a Ford explorer on Facebook that looked interesting, so we went to check it out. We both loved the car, and decided that she was going to be the latest addition to our car family.
Her name is “Macy”. 😀
Macy came in very handy a bit later that week, when we found the couches for our living room.
A day or so after we got the couches, we started discussing about how fun it would be to take Macy out on a road trip and see how she did. We kicked the idea back and forth for a while and then decided that we should DEFINITELY take her on a road trip and see how we liked it.
The question then was where to go…I suggested Cades Cove in Tennessee. It was starting to get a little cooler, so I figured it might be pretty this time of year. A bit more debating and we decided we were going to leave the next day.
We packed our bags and loaded the car!
The first stop was the mechanic shop, just to have her looked over and make sure everything was good for a 1,000 mile+ adventure. They topped everything up and declared her fit and ready. We were actually doing this!
Coffee… can’t do a road trip without coffee. 😉
First we drove into Georgia:
And then we crossed over into Tennessee!
Hello, Tennessee! The SuperShevy’s are excited to see you. 🙂
Cades Cove was so, *so* beautiful. We could have easily spent several more hours (maybe even a couple more days!) exploring the area and taking it all in.
Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church
One of the other churches…I can’t remember which one this one was, but it was really pretty on the inside!
Some of the other buildings that we got to see and walk through:
Kiss stealing…. 😉
Here is some video footage from the working waterwheel mill at Cades Cove:
Us in front of the waterwheel!
More mountain views… <3
Riding through Cades Cove….
At this point, we were so close to North Caroline that we decided to drive on over…why not, right? 😀
A sweet couple saw us trying to get our picture in front of this sign, and offered to take a picture for us. They did, and then asked us to take a picture of them in front of the sign, explaining that they were back celebrating their wedding anniversary. When they were there for their honeymoon, nobody was there to take a picture of them both, so that only had a picture of the wife in front of the sign. They were tickled to death about it and we were too- it was a very sweet moment. <3
Daniel grabbing a picture of the mountains…
Before too long, we were ready to come home. We tracked out our route and saw where we would be going through a Cherokee Indian reservation if we went back a particular way. It was a very interesting thing to see!
We also realized that we could go straight through South Carolina and add another state to our little mini-road trip roster, and so we did. 😀
We stopped for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel…couldn’t resist the opportunity to take another rings pic either. 😉
We slowly but surely made our way back to our little home in the valley, with a fresh adventure under our belt, and the plans for many new ones in mind for later. We had such a delightful time and can’t wait to see where the Lord leads us next!
Stay tuned for more about us getting settled into our house and a general sense of routine. It’s been so nice to get the blog here somewhat caught up. 🙂
September 8th of 2017 dawned bright and early. It was our wedding day, finally. 🙂
We had a few unexpected situations happen that morning- car issues, clothing issues- if you can name it, it probably happened! I am thankful that the Lord carried us through, and that all of the last minute details started falling right into place. 🙂
Thank *you* to all of our family members and sweet friends who pitched in and helped get everything set up and ready to go! My family and several close friends helped finish getting the food together, cleaned up the last couple of things inside, got the decorations finished outside, made sure the littles stayed seated until it was time, directed people down to the eating area, got the cake layers stacked up and that sucker decorated in record time- I will never fully be able to thank everyone as much as they deserve for the incredible feats that were accomplished to pull everything together. 🙂
2:00 arrived and with it, several of the helpers and the photographers. While I was finishing hair, makeup and such, they went ahead and started taking photos of the area, of my dress, and other pretty little details. 🙂
The wedding programs
The dress and the old goat shed
The dress hung up from the arbor
My bouquet, the boots Daniel sent me from Australia, and my engagement ring
My dress, the boots, and the bouquet, artfully arranged in front of the arbor
Once the photographers had finished taking photos of some of the ceremony elements, it was time for me to retrieve my dress back and finish getting ready.
My dear Mama handmade my veil. <3
More veil arranging
After getting the veil arranged and ready, it was time to go ahead and knock out some of the photos that could be taken before the ceremony. I made my way to the back yard to get started….I never realized how heavy my dress actually was until then! 🙂
My girls and I….the photographers told them all to look at me, :p!!
That’s better. 😀
My Mama and I. <3
“Joyful Noise”and I- these girls were such troopers and had been practicing the music for our wedding for very nearly a year!!<3
Once some of those were knocked out, it was time to get the bridal portraits done. 🙂
It was nearly time for the ceremony to start, so the very last last-minute details were taken care of, and I went back up into the house to wait. At this point, I was fighting tears- there were so many emotions swirling in my heart. I was so thankful to finally be marrying this wonderful man whom I love more than I ever thought possible to love anyone- the one that God had chosen and made *so* very perfectly for us to compliment each other as we traverse the path of life together- better together than apart. <3 On the other hand, I was melancholy at the thought of leaving my family home; of not living day-in and day-out with those folks whom I had been with my entire life. I knew it would be an exciting change, but it was still bittersweet.
Folks were beginning to arrive….
And then it was 4:00, and time for the processional to start. 🙂
Videographers ready to go!
Grandaddy and our honorary Grandma, Ms. Ruth
Josh, Kylie, Gabriel and baby Derek
Meredith and Darby
Now, Jackson had a special mission to deliver a very special note…
On the way….
Some minor confusion on Daniel’s part because we didn’t rehearse this…he didn’t know it was coming! 🙂
But I think the note made him happy. 😀
The rest of the family coming down…
The guys getting the runner ready!
And waiting! 🙂
The next several photos are of my Daddy leading me down to the arbor. <3
Once I saw Daniel in the distance, the tears ceased to flow. I was walking towards the man of my dreams…my husband-to-be, and we would be getting married in just a few short minutes! No more days of a 10,000 mile separation….<3
And it was time to get started. My former employer and an elder at our church kindly did the opening portion of our ceremony. He and his wife have been very special to me over the past several years, and it made perfect sense that he open the ceremony. This worked out perfectly, as I wanted my dad to give me away and perform the marriage ceremony. 🙂
Please be seated
Let’s open with prayer
Who gives this woman?
And so, my Daddy proceeded to marry us. <3
And then we shared our very first kiss.
We were finally married!! God is so good.
Now it was time to go to the reception and take the remainder of the pictures that couldn’t be taken before the ceremony. 🙂
Mama, myself, Daniel, and Daddy
Grandaddy, myself, and Daniel
C and D and Ms Ruth!
The couples <3
Family picture try #1
Family picture try #2
Family picture try #3
All the siblings!
Next, it was time to go and cut the cake. 🙂 As mentioned earlier, Mama and Jess did the cake, and it was so beautiful!
After cake, we slipped away with the photographers to do the couple pictures. <3
Now it was time for the send-off! I had spent hours making bubble wands to use for our reception. They turned out much better than I expected! 🙂
And we were off!
All in all, it was perfect. <3 All of the family was able to be there, the weather was absolutely perfect, the little decorative details made me smile each time I saw them, I was FINALLY marrying my very best friend….it was all so beautiful. I am so thankful for how the Lord made each thing fall into place. <3
My friend, Lydia, did a special highlights video of the wedding that you can watch here:
My friends, Sydney and Denalyn, did the photos which were so beautiful!! A big thank-you to them and anyone else I’ve forgotten to mention over the past few posts….we couldn’t have done it without y’all! <3
More about our “honeymoon” adventuring to come soon! 😀
Now that Daniel was officially in the country, our 90-day countdown had begun! We had a number of different things to take care of now that he was here, but before we got married.
One fun thing we got to experience together was attempting to view the solar eclipse. Daniel had sent me a special coffee calendar for my birthday last year, and one of the dates I had penciled in was watching the solar eclipse with him. At the rate the visa stuff was processing, we weren’t sure if that was a reality, but were absolutely giddy when we realized he would actually be here!
Solar eclipse day fun….<3
One of the first orders of business was to find somewhere to live. We had been praying that the Lord would open up the perfect door and we would know exactly where it was we were to go. We both wanted to stay in my home county, if possible, so that we could live close to my family and close to the church folks, and that we could stay close to my music students and just be able to continue to participate in the community in general. I posted in some of the local Facebook groups asking about the possibility of places to rent, and received an unexpected message from some friends of ours. They were letting us know about one of their houses they would be willing to rent to us, if we were interested. Daniel spoke with them the following Wednesday evening, and then we went and looked at it a little later that week. It was a perfect little house for our needs, and in the perfect place as well! We spent some time praying, thinking, and discussing it, then Daniel called to let them know we were very much interested in moving forward. After the rental agreement was drawn up and signed, we got our utilities hooked up, and we were given the keys to our first home.
Now that the house hunting was knocked out, it was on to other important projects. But, of course, in typical Lambert fashion, we took some time for goofines amongst all the planning and preparation….
Guess who everyone is!
And this was taken shortly after chicken wrangling with the 4H crew!
But, it was time to get back to business. We started looking at possible wedding dates that would fall before our 90 days were up. Between my dad’s schedule, my brother and sister-in-law’s vacation, and my younger brother’s participation in a national 4H competition, we realized we had two possible days available for a wedding. One was 13 days from when we started trying to pick a date, and the other was at the very end of our 90 day deadline, not leaving much time to file the next set of paperwork.
Could we pull together a wedding in time to try for the earlier date? It was time to find out! 🙂 Neither of us wanted a big wedding, nor a super-complicated one. My mama had also been very diligent to be working on different things that would be needed for some months in advance, so we already had a lot on hand that would be necessary. My dress had been found and altered last year, we had already gotten many of the flowers, a cake design was in mind, the layout for where things would go in the backyard had been decided, and I had my little music group practicing for many months in preparation for the wedding that would happen “at some point”. 🙂 There were, however, still a lot of logistical things that needed to be done, so it was time to get to it!
The wedding was to be in my family’s back yard. I wanted an arbor and enough seating back there for our guests to be able to sit during the ceremony. Some friends of ours at a local lumber company blessed me immensely with a deal we could not pass up for the wood elements. The stumps of the benches were from trees on our property, but all of the rest of the wood for the benches and the arbor were from the sweet folks at the lumber company.
My family, Daniel, and another sweet family who attends our church got the back yard all cleaned up and ready for the wedding. Grass was cut, weeds were trimmed, trees were cut down and cleared out, immense clearing was done in preparation for the ceremony and reception areas- it was amazing to see what many hands could accomplish! Here are a few snapshots from getting the area prepped and ready!
In the meantime, I found the most perfect wedding announcements online, and had them personalized and sent. They would arrive with just 5 days to spare until the wedding date! 😀
I also designed fans for our guests to use during the ceremony that had the lyrics for “Come Thou Fount” on the back, and spent a few hours fighting with the printer to get them printed. A wonderful lady at our church (an adopted grandmother for Daniel and I), and my friend, Lydia, worked on the finishing touches for the fans, tying the ribbons and getting them glued down and ready.
My mom and sister made the cake- they experimented with the recipe and were baking and tweaking and baking and tweaking for days…it was THE BEST wedding cake I have ever tasted, and I’m not even biased!! 😀
Daniel and I went and applied for/received Daniel’s social security number- we were both so thankful that the application process went so smoothly, and we weren’t given any issues whatsoever. I had read horror stories where the process doesn’t always go quite as smoothly, so I was VERY thankful! 🙂
We also went and applied for our marriage license. It was almost surreal- he was finally here and we were actually doing this and WE WERE GETTING MARRIED SOON!! 😀
License in hand!
It wasn’t too many more days after getting our marriage license that Daniel dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. <3 <3 <3 He then slipped the most beautiful and perfect engagement ring unto my finger- it was a surreal moment, and one that I will treasure for all of my days. Once again, it was getting very real....WE WERE GETTING MARRIED!! We also went ahead and announced our ring engagement at this time on Facebook.
We were nearing the end of the backyard preparation when it was time for the rehearsal dinner! 😀
Everything was so pretty. It was Mama’s idea to do grilled, loaded hamburgers fitting with the more country and laid-back theme of our wedding, and goodness…..it was so so so good!! I don’t have a whole lot of pictures because I was a little busy. 🙂 My daddy also put together a really sweet look-back video for Daniel and I with photos from childhood on up to then- when we were preparing to get married! We were both crying- it was so sweet. <3
The other funny thing that happened was as we were walking down to the ceremony site to practice the walk, it started pouring rain with lots of thunder! We simply proceeded to practice anyway… memories!! <3
Next up- our wedding day!
Just thought I would take a minute to say “hi!” while stock is simmering away on my stove in preparation for cooking dinner.
I’m not entirely sure where to begin….my last post stopped where my Daniel and I had both agreed that a formal courtship was where we were headed. We had been seeking the Lord as to where He would lead, and were very comfortable continuing to get to know each other.
His visa waiver expired last September, and he had to fly home to Australia. We planned for him to come back in October, but when he arrived at LAX, they sent him back to Australia. According to the U.S. government, it was too likely that we would get married on the visa waiver, which is not allowed.
With his visa waiver rights revoked, we began a series of discussions with my dad, with our now-lawyer, with other folks who had done international visa processes, and prayed a whole lot! With new information in hand, it was decided that we would pursue a fiancé visa. 🙂 We became engaged on October 21st, 2016. This caused a bit of confusion for folks who didn’t know what we were doing, because the first question was always “where’s the ring?”, haha! The response I would typically use most of the time is that the country didn’t allow my fiancé in the country to put it on me yet! ;D
Fiancé visas are a bit tricky- they require a LOT of paperwork. Like, a LOT of paperwork. The stack of paper I mailed to Daniel for the interview at the consulate was easily 6″ tall! After you fill out the necessary documentation, you also have to prove that you have a bona fide relationship with the foreign fiancé. This meant that we had to send them copies of all of our emails, texts, phone records, etc., and include photos of us together, letters stating our intent to marry, letters from friends who observed our relationship and knew that we were wanting to get married, etc. It was a LOT of work! We got everything filed in December of last year, and then began the long wait on the government to get their act together.
On April 12th, 2017, we received the news that our petition had been approved!
How we told Daniel that the petition had been approved
It was time to wait on an interview date, which ended up being July 25th, 2017. Daniel was nervous, I was nervous…everyone was nervous. It was the moment of truth….and up to the Australian consulate as to if we would have an approval or not!
After hours of waiting, I got a very happy text from Daniel….APPROVED!! It was time to make travel plans. 🙂 The only thing I could think over and over again is about how good God is. I will never understand all the reasons why we had to wait on the visa as long as we did, why Daniel was denied entry in the first place, etc. I’m sure there are countless other reasons we won’t know on this side of heaven, but one thing is for sure and certain: God’s timing is best. God leading us together in the first place, God having us both wait to bring us to the point of marriage, God putting together each and every detail before we were ever even born…His timing is perfect. <3
On August 16th, 2016, my baby came back home to me.
There are no words to describe what it was like just to *see* him again, much less to be able to interact in person once more. <3
First photo after being reunited!
We spent the next week or so just enjoying the time together. It was so indescribably good to be back with my darling again. Long-distance relationships are hard. They test every ounce of patience in you. I am thankful for my Lord, who listened to the many late-night prayers and tears shed while praying over the process…I’m thankful for my parents, who would listen to my ramblings and hold me while I cried. I’m thankful for the friends who would text just to make sure I was doing okay, and ask how they could be praying- y’all know who you are, and your friendships are an immense blessing to me.
Now, the fiancé visa had one particular requirement….the U.S. petitioning citizen must marry the fiancé visa beneficiary within 90 days of them entering the country! 🙂
The next post will be about our marriage ceremony preparation and some of the special things that happened as we were counting down to the big day. Stay tuned!
June 13th was here- finally. Unfortunately, it was going to be a long day for Mr. Australia….oh, wait, I guess I can call him by name, can’t I? It was going to be a long day for Daniel, who got stuck in customs and then had delayed flights to deal with, and for me, who was tracking his flights and thinking that they were kinda taking half of forever to finish up. 😀
Around 11 that evening, we heard footfalls on the porch and a knock on the door- he had arrived! I opened the door and asked him to step inside- he was real! My family and I spent some time talking to him for a bit before we called it a night- the next morning was going to be an early one, as I was taking the kids to their 4-H forestry competition and Daniel was to go with us.
The next day, as anticipated, started very early. I remember hearing talking out on the porch that morning and headed out to see Daniel talking to a few of the “middles”. I was very much looking forward to having the opportunity to talk to him and was glad that we were finally in the same time zone- in the same country, state, town, and on the same porch even! 😀 We all small-talked for a bit and introduced him to a couple of our cats, and then it was time to head to Prattville for the competition.
The competition was a two day, all-day event, and it provided lots of time for us to be able to talk about various things as we continued to get to know each other. In addition, we got to see a lot of beautifully scenic rural Alabama backroads making our way down to the sticks. It was such fun!
Over the days to come, we began to settle into a bit of a routine. There was lots of coffee enjoyed…
My mama had also picked up a puzzle so that all of us could chat and get it put together. This was accompanied by ice cream on many nights…
As it turns out, Daniel likes ice cream as much as I do….we may have went a bit overboard acquiring it at times….
As the days went by, we were able to spend a lot of time in conversation, and found another pastime to enjoy together- washing dishes! I don’t know how many hours we spent washing them, but I’d reckon it is probably quite a high number. We talked, laughed, and just thoroughly enjoyed the time. 🙂
Daniel started introducing me to all sorts of different kinds of fruits…. lychees were one of the favorites that I tried!
And the fourth of July was rapidly approaching as well, so that meant it was time for us to introduce Daniel to a little taste of celebrations at our house. We typically do a large Independence Day bash, so now was the perfect opportunity to let him see how we par-tay. Or something. 😀
Fireworks o’ plenty were gathered up….
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos on my phone from that, because I was taking them all on the big camera! Ah well. :p
I introduced Daniel to Kool-Aid….bless his heart….he’d never tried it!
It was also about this time that we started doing some bona fide sightseeing. Peavine Falls was the first official destination after seeing photos of the falls online.
And of course, summer wouldn’t be complete without more 4-H activities! It was time for day camp, and I was an adult volunteer for the two-day summer day camp. It was such a blast! (Made moreso by the fact that Daniel got to come along as well. 🙂 )
We got to visit a pottery studio one day…
And a stable one day…..
It was such fun!
Daniel and I were continuing our many, many conversations, and were still realizing that we were very like-minded and were headed in a similar direction. We continued to spend time together doing little projects around the house and sight-seeing, as well as going to church and visiting with friends. Tannehill State Park became a fun excursion after doing market days. 🙂
And then there was “Cow Appreciation Day” at Chik-Fil-A…..this photo brought more questions from friends, haha!! (“Who is that guy standing next to you??”) It was so much fun introducing Daniel to the amazing fun that Chik-Fil-A provides each year with this event. 🙂
Back to Tannehill!!
Daniel really encouraged me to cross the waterfall….which I didn’t want to do, but did anyway. It freaked me out majorly, but I am so glad I did it now! He, like my dear mama, encourages me constantly to step outside of my comfort zone when I wouldn’t otherwise. And, just like when mama does it, I always learn and grow from the experience and am very glad that I did it!
Besides, we got to take this nice picture of us together:
As the days went on, I found myself realizing that I was more and more interested in this amazing Australian fellow who had flown so far to come and spend time with me… I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but I had many conversations with my parents about how things were going and what they were observing. I’m so thankful to have had so many people with their eyes on the situation who were praying and encouraging me to seek the Lord’s will in however we moved forward.
On July 21st, Daniel asked to speak to Daddy for a few minutes. A little later, Daddy came and found Mama and I and said we (along with Daniel) would be having a discussion later on that evening, once the littles were down for the night. He didn’t say what the meeting was about, though I had my suspicions.
Now, this was rather funny…I had recently began teaching piano lessons professionally. The mama of my student that day asked if I had any plans for later. The only thing I could think was “Yes! I’ve definitely got plans for later!”, but, I simply said that I knew I had a workday I needed to finish up and then I’d do whatever else popped up. 😀
Well, as you’ve probably figured out, that day seemed to creep by. 😀
We sat down that evening and discussed many things, but most importantly, Dad asked both of us if we wanted to proceed forwards into an official courtship. Our answer? A resounding yes! 🙂 And thus a new chapter was started….
Tobias’ arrival our home marked a new chapter in our lives, that’s for sure. We have been so blessed by his cheerful and joyful disposition- he’s like a little ray of sunshine in our lives!
I was still plowing through school, and making somewhat decent progress. I was paying for school as I went, and each new lesson arriving in the mail made me more and more excited to reach the end goal.
Spring had also very decidedly set in….and with it? Mud!! I got the John Deer stuck in the mud and had to get it all dug out…. oops.
Homesteading projects were in full-swing….
….and so was writing to a certain Australian. Remember me mentioning that I had signed up for that dating website again? Well, someone amazing wrote to me during my time there. We traded a few emails, and then started writing every day. We also traded Instagram handles after we realized we had a mutual love of photographing sunsets and sunrises, and that was a good way to be able to see the pictures each of us had posted.
After a couple of weeks of our writing back and forth, he expressed a desire to be more intentional in our correspondence, so I went and took copies of all of our notes to my parents. I was going to print them out to make it easier to read, but upon realizing we had exchanged 53 pages worth of correspondence (in TWO weeks!), I thought it might be better to just take the laptop instead. 😀 After discussing my thoughts with my parents, and asking their advice on the matter, I decided to write back and let him know that I was interested in being more intentional with our correspondence, with one condition- we would have to spend a great deal of time in communication with each other, and we would need to meet and spend a substantial amount of time in person. He responded back with a “no problem!”, and planned a trip to come out and meet my family and I to see where things might go. I emailed a few mentors in my life and asked them to be praying over the situation and that we would have wisdom to make the right decisions, no matter what the end result was.
Now, after a few weeks of us being friends on Instagram, I started to have other friends noticing that I had a new friend on Instagram….and so the questions started. 🙂 “So, who exactly is this guy that is suddenly quite active on your Instagram?” “Dare I ask who this guy is?” “How did you meet?”….etc. 😀 You see, this Australian and I were starting to realize more and more by the day of just how much we had in common, and conversation was easy between us.
We had our first phone call not too long after “that” email. I remember being so terribly nervous….we are both introverts…would we even talk?!? To my surprise, we had a rather nice phone conversation- not too long, not too short, and we had broken the ice. It wasn’t too many days after that when Mr. Australia sent me his travel dates…he was actually coming here to meet us! We had a few more phone calls in-between him sending the travel dates and him arriving here, each growing longer than the last. I think the last one was right around 3 hours long! We were also still emailing pretty much daily, and by this point, had a text conversation going, were friends on Facebook, and were ever-more active commenting on Instagram. I couldn’t wait to meet him in person, and find out if he was the same in person as he had been online and over the phone. I was becoming quite interested in learning more about this guy from the Land Down Under…
While counting days until his arrival, life continued to roll on at the Lambert Estate…
I had just finished installing our first round of bees, and caring for them each day was such a delight:
I was still working:
And of course, enjoying the lovely sights of my beloved Lambert Estate….
Learning new skills…
Oh, and Jacob purchased a shiny red ‘Stang….. it has been such fun to go on various adventures with him with the top down and our hair blowing in the wind….
I was still working on school….
And branding for a new endeavor we were working on….I was so tickled to see things I had designed on the computer arrive and turn out so nicely in person!!
Hand’s down, having the booth at the farmer’s market was one of my favorite things that we did over the spring and summer. I loved working together with my family to get everything done each week, and then later on with my stock tracking buddy (you know who you are! 😉 ) to make sure that the inventory was being tracked correctly. We loved meeting people, developing our products, trying new experiments for marketing, and so many other things. It was a huge blessing!
Time was winding down until Mr. Australia arrived….and then, finally, it was June 13th- the day he was to arrive. Was he really real? We were about to find out…
If you had told me of the things I would be doing this year, of the people I would meet, the places I would go, and the things that would happen each day on this grand adventure of life…..I wouldn’t have believed you. We’ve had so many different things happening each and every day- I hardly know where to begin!
I guess I’ll start at the beginning- that’s a very good place to start. 🙂
In January, we were delighted to have the Wissmann family with us once again for a bluegrass gospel concert!
We thoroughly enjoy getting to visit with them every year and listen to the delightful music as they seek to minister to others. They are a huge blessing to our community and church when they come down each January!
February marked a change for me- I was starting to get an idea of what exactly I needed to do next, and the Lord brought a lot of clarity and direction to my life.
I knew that I needed to finish piano technician school, and I had so many ideas for different things I wanted to do and try…the interesting matter would be figuring out where exactly to start! I continued on with work and was reading and studying lots of different things.
Josh and Kylie invited us and Kylie’s family over in February for a fire and smores roasting…I so love smores, and the fellowship was delightful!
Of course, adventuring was still on the lineup on into February….we spent each week trekking up to Centreville for 4-H Forestry Bowl practice:
We saw lots of Centreville by day, and Centreville by night.
I started taking fiddle lessons from the amazing Mrs. Sharon Bounds!
And I took my first mandolin class as well!!
I did a little poll working:
And of course, a trip to Vulcan was in order as well. 😀
I never get tired of the beautiful view from there.
4-H was back in swing for livestock somewhat by March, so I took the siblings down to Auburn University’s meats lab for a workshop on different meat cuts and processing procedures. I LOVE road trips, and this one was no exception!!
Planning the route:
My meat lab participants… they were so excited to be there:
I picked back up woodburning as well, after a very long time of not doing any! I’m having so much fun with that….
We also decided to do quite a bit of kitchen remodeling. Here are some of the “in progress” pics:
And here’s a pic with it pretty much finished up. We are so loving the new floor, especially. You’ve never seen someone so excited to be rid of the white vinyl composite tile in their kitchen!! 😀 😀
After we had the kitchen remodel somewhat behind us, we celebrated National Sibling Day. Cause all the feels…we weren’t able to get everyone together, so I decided a bad photoshop job was in order. Because yeah…
This was the last sibling pic pre-Tobias…. 🙂 Oh, did I mention Tobias? 😀 He is my sweet and precious newest little sib!! 😀
Tobias’ day of birth began early…Mama had to be up at the hospital at 4am, so I took her and Daddy up there and dropped them off. It’s just easier to keep all the cars at home when Mama is having a baby since they wouldn’t be needing it anyways.
Mama’s labor ended up being very long, and Toby had gotten rather comfortable and wasn’t helping much with the labor process. He wasn’t really getting settled where he needed to be, and was causing little to no progression of labor.
Later that evening, I went ahead and came back up to the hospital. I had all of the luggage/supplies for after the baby was born in the car, and I didn’t want my parents to be without what they might need. We were also all figuring that labor would move a bit faster. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with my parents during that time, and for being able to watch them together….my mama’s love for Toby, my parent’s love for each other….the prayers that were being offered up on Mama and Toby’s behalf… watching them, I was realizing once more that if it was the Lord’s will for my life, I really wanted to be a wife and a mama. I had been considering signing back up for a particular dating website for a while, and made the decision that yes, I wanted to try that again. So, whilst waiting during the labor process, I went ahead and filled out the application to sign back up….(more on this later. 🙂 )
Late in the evening, it was decided that the safest thing to do would be for Mama to go ahead and have a C-section. There was some concern that both Mama and Toby would end up in distress if the labor continued for too much longer, especially since her water had been broken since early that morning.
That was my first time to be at the hospital when someone who is dear to me is rolled out for surgery. After they took my mama to go and get her prepped and ready for surgery, I just sat and absolutely bawled. I know that C-sections happen all the time, but this was *my* mama….I’m thankful for my dad, who gave me the biggest hug and told me everything was going to be just fine, and for a friend of mine who was texting me through the evening reassuring me everything was going to be just fine…..
After about 10 minutes, they brought my dad scrubs and he began to get ready to go and see mama and get Toby….the whole surgery didn’t last more than 1/2 hour. When he came back, he had Toby with him, and he had been able to talk to Mama and knew everything went well and that was doing wonderfully.
I spent the next couple of days driving back and forth to the hospital so that we could visit with Mama, Daddy and Tobias.
In between driving back and forth to the hospital, making sure things were running smoothly at home, and getting the necessary shopping done, there was quite a bit of coffee consumed.
It was finally time to bring Mama, Daddy, and Tobias home from the hospital.
During the duration of Mama’s pregnancy, Jackson was telling everyone that he was pregnant too….with a black chicken. We thought it would be quite funny if a black chicken came home from the hospital with Toby, so I made one! Mama wrapped it up in a blanket and put it in the car seat with Toby. We brought it home to the proud papa:
After Tobias was born, life started settling back into a routine….