Thursday, November 8, 2012

Love that Woman!

How do you say how thankful you are that a woman who has shaped you in every way was born on this ninth day of November? She has carefully guided me into womanhood without hindering how God made me deep within.  My mom has been an amazing role model in my life and grown into one of my best friends.

I think what I am most thankful for is her example in loving Jesus and having a relationship that is beyond church and deeper than religion.  She never pushed me to believe what she did.  Rather she set before me an example of what it looks like to have a relationship with God.  Not a perfect one.  Not one without difficulties, struggles, doubt or wonder.  But a real relationship that begins to build on trust, faith, understanding and ultimately peace.  I haven't always been close to God.  Our relationship seems to be much like a roller coaster- sometimes I grip on tight as we plunge into the depths and sometimes I just let go.  Thankfully He is my safety bar, holding onto me even though I foolishly separate myself from Him.  If it weren't for my parents setting the foundation I don't know how I would find strength, freedom and joy when times are hard.  And when times are good I don't know that I would fully understand the greatness and the blessing.

She has also taught me how to be loving all the while being strong.  I know that I don't do it as gracefully as she, but I am learning.  Many of you may not realize how strong my mother's beliefs are.  That's the inside scoop that I get.  Her job calls her to be non-partial and frankly she does it better than almost any person in the news I have seen.  But the truth of the matter is she is strong and she has no fear to stand up for what she believes.  I think there is a misperception out there that if you are passionate about your beliefs that in order to voice them and get your point across you have to be rude, nasty and a bit cocky.  I thankfully, have not seen this in my mom.  She has no problem stating her ground with someone who disagrees and she won't be intimidated by them, but she has a way of doing it in a very powerful way because she leaves no room for smug remarks by her opposer.

And finally, I have learned how to love.  I now have the privilege of understand what my mom meant when she would say, "You have no idea how much I love you."  She showed me how to love and care for children.  She wasn't always perfect, but neither was I.  Growing up, she chose to be a great parent and lead me rather than be my best friend. I didn't always "like" her because she set me straight and let's be honest none of us enjoy being set straight.  This has helped me so much as my adorable toddler with the big brown eyes and criminal bottom lip looks at me with that look, you know that look, hoping to escape punishment after doing something he knows is a "no, no"just to turn around and do it again.  I am reminded that I am here to guide and lead my son into becoming a great young man...not to be his best friend.

Oh mom, I sure do love you!  You are such an incredible woman and my boys are lucky to have a Noma like you! Happy Birthday.  I pray God sends you lots of wonderful blessings today.  They may not be in the form of material things, but rather in joy and peace.  I know that is what your heart longs for most.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"I found him whom my soul loves" Song of Solomon 3:4

Well, my anniversary has come and gone without me posting anything mushy gushy about my one in a million man.  This is in part because these 4 years have flown by and I think we kept hoping time would just stand still so that we could reflect on that special day 4 years ago, thinking of our vows and remembering that fluttering feeling we had as we locked eyes down the aisle.

Time never stood still this week.  In hoping it would I believe I sped it up even more quickly.  But as I looked out onto our property from my porch and saw my man; sweat dripping, covered in dirt (don't worry this isn't going somewhere inappropriate), after working all night only to return home to trim, mow, clean the pond, and fix the sprinklers.  As I looked at him I fell in love deeper with the hardest working man I have ever met in my life.  As he laid in bed, knowing he would only get two hours of sleep before getting up to go to work again, I realized how often I forget to tell him how much I appreciate him.  When he woke up from that "sleep" with a smile on his face, picking up our son to tell him he loved him, my heart melted even more than it did the day I said, "I do".  When I heard someone near us groan about only getting a few hours of sleep the night before I looked at my husband with a smirk.  We both knew that's about what he had gotten the past 3 days, but he didn't complain.  This helped me remember how he never dwells on the negative, but always focuses on the positive.  That makes me want to shed that negative itch I get.  When I hear him praying with our family my soul cries out with thanks that I have a man who bows before the Lord and trusts Him to guide our family.

My man is a man.  He is not physically weak, but he is not afraid to admit his faults.  He is emotionally strong, but finds his strength in God.  He will always give people the benefit of doubt, but on the job I have pity on the fool who dares come against my man.  Each and every day he tells his boys how much they are loved.  Wow, what a lucky woman I am to have married such a good and faithful man.

So, although I didn't get to watch my wedding video over again and cry.  Even though we didn't sit on the porch with our sweet tea reminiscing over that hot August day in 2008.  I was reminded of why I stood before our family, our friends and our Lord to make an everlasting commitment to a man that I am honored to now call my husband!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blackbox Routine

I've had several people asking what my routine has been with Blackbox, so I thought I would post it for you all to use as a reference.

Geniskin Line:
Face Wash: Morning and Night. 1-2 pumps
Treatment Serum: Morning and Night. 1 pump.  This serum pulls out all of the built up bacteria, so my face broke out for the first couple of weeks and began clearing up during week 3.  I encourage people to be really consistent for at least one month.  If you don't see improvement then you may rethink using the serum.
Masque: I used this every other day until my face was clear.  Now I use it on average twice a week.
Scrub: Start with once a week and you can build up to as often as you desire for that silky smooth skin. This is what did wonders at getting rid of my acne scars.

Restoration Line:
Infusion AM:  I put this on every morning. 1 pump.  It helps protect my skin and I feel like my make up goes on gorgeous when I put this on before applying foundation.
Bronzed: A couple times a week.  I just started using this a couple weeks ago and so far like it.  It has the same effect as the Infusion AM with a little sun.  It's a little too dark for me to use more than once or twice a week.
Little Secret Weapon: At Night. 1 pump around the eyes.  Yes, I am putting this around my eyes in hopes of preventing some wrinkles down the road.
Radiance AX:  Morning and Night.  Okay, this one I am SUPER excited about.  I used to not use it.  After having Titus I got those oh, so lovely stretch marks and I also started getting small bumps on the backs of my arms.  I've been putting this on those spots for the last 3 weeks and have been so impressed!

Defiance PM is a great product.  I don't use it because I just put on the Treatment Serum at night and let it do it's thing!

6 minute miracle is just like the scrub in the Geniskin Line, but without the active agents for problem skin. Same with the Sea-Mask.

I have not tried the Revive qx yet, but I'm planning to this winter when my face won't be seeing as much sun.

I hope this helps everyone out and I really hope some of you are seeing great results like I have!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Servicemen Night

So, being the wife of a police officer I often hear my husbands co-workers talk about what a bummer it is to go out to eat, or grab a beer at the local pub just to find that your waiter was someone you arrested or pulled over at some point.  Makes ya wonder what they might do to your food?  Ty and I have been brainstorming how to have a night out for police officers and other service men/women who deal with the same dilemma.  I don't mean to offend those who are not police, fire, or military, but I think it's important for these guys to get a night out to relax and not worry about who they are going to run into.  As I start planning for this night though I need to figure out what type of evening would be the most enjoyable, so I would REALLY appreciate a response to this post....even if the response is, "sorry, I wouldn't come."  Also, please pass this along to anyone you know of who might be able to give me some feedback.  You can post on my Facebook, message me or even send an email

Here are some questions I have:

If we had dinner available, but tickets for the dinner would need to be purchased ahead of time (so we know how many to plan on) would you buy a ticket?  The dinner we are looking at would be tri-tip or something similar, roasted red potatoes, salad, rolls, fruit for $10-$12 per plate.
*We wouldn't require you to buy dinner in order to come

If we had drinks available (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) would you purchase a drink?

Would you like there to be:
-A live band?
-A poker tournament?
-Any other suggestions???

Would you be more likely to come if kids were welcome or if it were adults only?

What day would you be most likely to attend on?

Thanks so much for your feedback!  We really want to do something before the end of summer and hope to make it a great evening where everyone can just relax and socialize!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

R.I.P. Caesar

Well, there's one thing that even most strangers know about us, we are dog people.  At one point we had 16 dogs under our roof (12 of them being puppies, but still a lotta' dogs!).  Today, we lost Caesar and I can honestly say I've never had a better dog.

This is the dog that gave me comfort each night that Tyler walked out the door because I knew that if given the chance Caesar would take a bullet for him.  And I'm not kidding.  It would not have surprised me, if put in a situation that was life or death, to find out that Caesar had leaped and bounded and squeezed his way through a tiny hole just to put himself in between a perp and my husband.

This is the dog that helped me sleep peacefully at night when we had our precious baby boy.  Tyler was still working nights and Caesar was retired.  This is when I felt like he became my dog too.  He would sleep in the hallway between my room and Ryker's.  If we got home while it was dark and Ty was already at work- I'd send Caes in front of us and he would check each room thoroughly.  Let me tell you, it's a good thing none of you decided to throw me a surprise party during this time.  It's very possible that Caes would've found you first and tore apart a limb.

He was trained in bite work and bomb detection.  He was one of the best.  So much so that he took my husband away from me for our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple.  Ty got to go all the way to Jamaica for a dog demo with his loyal companion.  Even with how well trained and aggressive this dog potentially could be, he's the same dog that let my little cousins climb all over him, wouldn't bat an eye as kids would tug on his tail, and if a child took that beloved red Kong out of his mouth he would just stare at it whimpering and drooling all over until one of us gave it back.

As much as I loved Caes he was always my husbands dog till the day he died.  He would follow that man anywhere and if you put anything in between them he would wine and wine until he finally could be by his side again.  OH MAN.....what a good dog.   Darnit!  Here I am sobbing at my computer.  Not because I am stricken with grief, but because I am so thankful to this dog.  He was a loyal companion, yes.  But he was a protector, a comforter and just plain good.

We'll miss you Caes, but thank you for being a dear dog to us. Thank you for serving the people of Nampa.  And thank you for looking scary and mean (or as they would whisper to one another in Jamaica, "It's Diablo."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Please Get Me a Birthday Present

It isn't very often that I ask for a Birthday gift.  I've always been the person who says, when asked, "oh, no I don't need anything. Just your company is enough."  You know- gushy stuff like that.  Well, this year I am going to ask each and every one of you to get me a gift and not be ashamed of it.  You may think I am a snob as you are reading this.  You may even want to click the little red X sign right now, but hold on.....keep reading....this is something I really really really really WANT :) Please read the whole thing.

As many of you know Ryker is my joy.  He fills me up with so much love I can hardly stand to hold it inside.  My heart aches when he is away from me and oh my mamma heart leaps for joy when he gives me that cute little grin.  It is my hope and my prayer that other families will be able to experience the amazing miracle of adoption.  Tyler and I knew we wanted to adopt, so we would have gone to great lengths to make sure that happened, but on the financial side of things it can get overwhelming.  We felt such a relief when we found out about the Adoption Tax Credit.  Now, this didn't pay for every cent of the adoption, it didn't give us money to spend on fancy things.  It just helped to make adopting possible for us without going into a huge amount of debt.  This tax credit has helped thousands of families make what seemed impossible, possible.

Now, many of you also may know that I am a pretty conservative woman.  I don't preach politics, but I will say I am all for running this country like we run a business, so if you're like me read this paragraph.  If you aren't than you can skip it :)  An adoption tax credit (one time money) of $12,000 to help put a child in a home where they will provide for that child for the next 18+ years (Yes I say 18+ because otherwise statistics show the probability of children in foster care ending up on welfare is much higher than those in forever families).  Well, that $12,000 starts to look like a small number compared to the $5,000+ PER YEAR that child will end up costing the state because they are in the system.  So, yes this is a bleeding heart request, but 'common it's also a 'numbers don't lie' request!

So, back to my Birthday gift :)  I've copied an example of a letter below.  All you have to do is copy this-take out my personal paragraph-perhaps add your own, or just leave it simple.  Then send this along to you congressman and senators.  I also have a link to some facts regarding the Adoption Tax Credit in case you would like to learn more about it.  And I've even attached a link to all of the IDAHO Congressman and Senators.

I know this tax credit may not affect you at all, it may not even be something you are somewhat interested in.  BUT REMEMBER.....It's my Birthday coming up.....and I'm thinking this may be a much cheaper gift than the Horse I was planning on asking for.

I love you all!  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Facts About the Adoption Tax Credit:


Letter Example:

Dear Senator/Representative NAME:
I have the most beautiful blessing who came to my husband and I through adoption.  His name is Ryker and he is 18 months old.  Because of our strong desire to adopt we would have jumped through hoops in order to bring our son home to us, but when we found out about the adoption tax credit it helped to relieve some of the financial debt that we would have incurred.  It is our hope to adopt again someday, but might be unlikely if this tax credit completely diminishes. 
I am writing to ask you to support the adoption tax credit, which is set to expire on December 31, 2012. Since 1997, the adoption tax credit has helped tens of thousands of parents offset the high cost of adoption-like us, making it possible for those who adopt to provide children with loving, permanent families.
If Congress does not take action, the current adoption tax credit will expire at the end of 2012. The credit will be reduced to $6,000, and will only benefit the few families that adopt children with special needs and have qualified adoption expenses. Most families adopting children from foster care, intercountry adoption, and domestic infant adoption will not receive any benefit. Without the adoption tax credit, many parents hoping to adopt will be unable to do so, and others will face great financial hardship. The adoption tax credit is essential to ensuring that as many children as possible find the forever families they deserve and ensuring that those families are in a more stable financial position to provide an environment where children can thrive.
The adoption tax credit must be extended to help as many children as possible find the permanent, loving family they need and deserve. And for 2012 it should be made refundable again so that most adoptive families will benefit from it. I understand we are in an economic hardship, but I also understand the greatness of placing children with forever families rather than paying thousands upon thousands for them to stay in foster care throughout their childhood.
On behalf of the countless children waiting to be adopted, and the many thousands of families that stand to benefit from the adoption tax credit, thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Brianne Gray
Nampa, Idaho

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Baby Brother is Graduating!

Tonight my baby brother will graduate from High School.  For so many reasons I am proud of this young man.  I am seven years older than my brother, Chase.  As soon as I was old enough to understand the difference between having a sibling and being an only child I began praying for a little brother or sister.  I remember desperately wanting someone to play with and someone to look up to me.

Unfortunately, I didn't take the role of big sister very well.  I soon figured out that I wasn't the center of attention and my selfish, bratty attitude came out.  When he began walking and getting into things I quickly figured out that I could blame things on him even when I was the culprit.  It often didn't get past my mom and dad, but sometimes it did.  I now look back and feel horrible for the times Chase took the brunt of the scolding rather than me - all because I pointed my finger.

Pretty soon we became the typical bickering siblings, but I tell you what as much as we fought I better not hear someone else say a bad word about him!  And he was the same way.  I still remember a note he left under my door my senior year of high school.  I had been dealing with a couple of boys who were being really hurtful toward me and one day after school came home in tears.  My brother slipped a note under my door that night telling me he was sorry that people were being mean to me and that he loved me.  He even offered to go beat them up.

Now, I look at this young man who has so much personality and so much potential.  He is such an incredible brother.  He's been more than helpful as we have begun our business venture.  My boys absolutely love him and it;s been so sweet to see how great he is with both of them.  A few weeks ago he could see I was feeling overwhelmed with Titus screaming and Ryker being a busy body.  He took Titus and walked around with him to give me some relief.

My brother is such an incredible young man.  He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve, but he cares deeply for people.  You wouldn't consider him a bible thumper, but he is a man who loves God and desires to praise Him.  He is so smart and wherever he goes he is able to ignite the room.  His personality seems to just overflow in any situation he is placed in.

I am so excited to see where God takes him and what wonderful things lie ahead in his life!  Congratulations Chase!  You deserve all the best in life.  I am proud of the young man you have become. I am proud to call you my brother.  Enjoy celebrating this wonderful night!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Thank You to ALL

My appreciation for memorial day seems to grow with each year.  As a child I loved this holiday because we would usually go to the parade or a ceremony where I got to see really cool looking men and women in their uniforms.  They looked like super hero's to me! When I was in high school I really enjoyed those ceremonies and parades even more because who doesn't love a man in uniform?  My appreciation grew deeper because I knew friends who had lost family members who were serving our country.  I also started to understand the stories my grandfather told me about his time overseas. My heart went out to those who were away and those who had lost their lives.  To me that was the most noticeable sacrifice.  This is when I began to notice that every time I saw the flag fly and heard our national anthem, or the sound of that lone trumpet- my eyes would begin to well up.

Then as an adult I married a man who serves his country daily.  Not by going overseas, but by night in our own city.  I realized that he was seeing and experiencing an entirely different town than I had grown to know.  Each night that I lay my head on my pillow he heads off to a call that would most likely be a night mare for me.  This is when I began to realize that the men and women who go overseas to serve our country don't ever return "uninjured".  The things they see are unlike anything I can imagine, the circumstances they endure are unlike anything I could cope with and the pain they have to overcome may not be in the form of their life lost or a limb missing, but their heart torn from the life they gave to keep us free.

I want to deeply thank those who are away from their families right now fighting for our freedom.  I want to sincerely thank those who continue living on without their loved ones, so that I may set food on free soil.  But right now I would love nothing more than to embrace the ones who have returned.  Whether they are actively serving or not, I now understand that the sacrifice they made was not shed the day they hung their uniform up for good.  No, what I now understand is that sacrifice is one that will forever live inside of them.  They gave so that we may be free.  I pray that they too are able to be free.  Free from whatever their hearts, minds and souls had to endure.  I will never understand and I will never truly realize what goes on as a soldier stands at the front lines, but I will always be thankful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend-Signing OFF!

My Mother's Day weekend was filled with lots of fun and many blessings.  We had such an exciting open house (Saturday Showcase) on the 12th.  It was really exciting to see all the people who came out to see the new improvements at Still Water Hollow.  I couldn't help but smile as I saw many of our couple's strolling around the property dreaming and picturing their special day here.  What a true honor it is to have a hand in helping create a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere for those making such a sacred commitment. We have always prayed that people would feel God's presence when they step foot on this land and when I heard comments like, "We just don't want to leave." "It's so peaceful here." "Everyone is so joyful." "There's just something about this place."  I knew that something was Christ and how exciting it will be to see those who don't know Him begin to experience His love in a real tangible way, here.

So even though Saturday was amazing it took a lot of time away from my kiddo's.  There were three days straight that they were being passed from one babysitter to the next and even a few weeks before that where my attention was always distracted from focusing on them.  My gift to them on Mother's Day was to actually be their Mother.  I shut off my phone, I didn't check my email, didn't check Facebook and just loved on them.  It was the most perfect day!

I have decided I am going to start doing that every Sunday.  There's nothing more that I want than to be a mom and when I spend so much time being distracted it's only hurting my relationship with my kids in the long run.  There were several times on Sunday that I thought, "Oh I should post that cute picture on Facebook of Ryker.  That's what a good mom would do.  I should update my status to "loving spending time with my kids on Mother's Day!"  That's what a good mom would do."  Then I realized a good mom would just do it!  She would live in the moment that that photo would speak of.  She would actually love spending time with her kids on Mother's Day so much that nothing could distract her from that- so that's what I need to start doing.  I get way too caught up in this social media world!  What did they do without email, status updates, blog posts, twitter feeds?  Were there still good moms out there even though they couldn't post anything about how much they love their kids?  YES!  I know this because my mom was an incredible mom and she never did those things while I was growing up.  The times I knew she loved me the most weren't when she told everyone else about it, but when she showed me how much she loved me by putting me first and all other things aside.

So, here I am blogging about the fact that I don't need to blog, facebook or twit my love for my kids.  Ironic eh? Well, I guess I'm just preparing the world for my social media faux paw- I'll be signing off every Sunday.  If there's an emergency you'll probably have to call me 5 times in order for me to answer.  It's not that I don't love you all-it's just that I love being a mom even more!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Warning Label on Friendship

If my friends could have read a warning label on me before entering into a relationship with me, I believe it would have read something like this....
Has tendency to plan projects while pregnant that she can not perform, therefore will ask you to complete them for her. Including, but not limited to; painting, moving boxes, deep cleaning with chemicals, staining and putting on large events.
When asked to go on a walk -will suggest her place, which may or may not result in the following; picking up rocks, removing cinder blocks, planting sod and cleaning.
Phone calls/texts will always be responded to, but there is no guarantee she will press send, call the right number, or remember where her phone is in the first place.
When Girl time is planned she may or may not remember booking a tour, which will result in you watching her two boys for her and girl time officially becoming babysitting time.
If offered dinner consult with your husband first. He may be asked to bring heavy machinery, move a house, or remove a Ram from atop a mountain. If your husband is gone for more than 4 hours seek new friendships immediately.
All of these symptoms have or will occur during your sustained friendship-but you will be loved, you will be appreciated, you will be respected & said friend will be forever grateful.

I'm so thankful for the friends in my life! I appreciate their patience with me & the love they show me! I'm a lucky girl :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It Ain't Suga' Plums & Roses

Here's some great advice I have learned and continue to remind myself of.  There's no sense in complaining to others- half the time their thinking how they can one up you and the other half they are wishing they could talk about the good in life rather than the bad in yours.

I'll just be honest right now there is a lot I could complain about.  I'm sure you can imagine with two kids 12 months a part, a new business, a very large yard :) and just life in general my list of complaints can get quite long some days.  BUT just as I'm writing this I think about.....
The woman who has TWINS AND a toddler
A friend of mine who has been through more tragedy the last few years than I will probably see in a lifetime.
The one who goes to sleep each night aching for their little boy who is still thousands of miles away
The grandma who can't remember what day it is or what she was planning on doing 10 minutes ago
The mom who has a full time job, teaches at the University, has a speaking engagement at least once a month, stays up all night with her grandkids to give her daughter a chance to get rest and still manages to keep her home looking like it's out of a Pottery Barn magazine

The list could go on and on.  The fact is there is always something to complain about in life.  Like they say- Life ain't always suga' plums and roses, but by golly sometimes it's waterfalls and little white chapels.  Sometimes it's my lil man wrapping his sweet little arms around my neck and patting my back.  Sometimes it's someone telling me I'm a good mom.  Sometimes it's looking out my window at my oh so gorgeous husband on his John Deere.  Sometimes it's realizing my in laws love me like their own.  Sometimes it's a helping hand when I have nothing to give in return.  Sometimes life is so real and so close to heaven I can feel God's hand in mine and Him saying, "I trust you.  I trust you with all these precious things I've given you."

So why complain?  Why remind ourselves of the bad when there is OH SO MUCH GOOD! I'm reminded tonight that I AM LOVING LIFE!  I am so thankful for the blessings I've been given and in those times when I begin the play out the complaints in my mind I pray I will start crossing them off and writing down my blessings next to them. For that list is never ending each and every day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BIG Easter Thanks!

Where do I even begin to thank everyone who helped me over the Easter weekend?  Well, I think I'll start from the beginning.  My husband, mom and dad were involved from the get go!  They jumped on board with this picture I had in my mind of creating a full weekend of activities for Easter.  Little did they know how much work would be involved :)  The picture God had given us was a weekend to be "Immersed in His love".  I truly felt like I was immersed in His love all because of some wonderful people who stepped up to the plate.  My parents went above and beyond to make sure that we had everything we needed to make this a special weekend.  They were behind the scenes helping plan the events, making flyers, running errands, purchasing candy for the eggs, making the coffee, putting together decorations, watching my kids, oh the list could go on and on.  My husband spent every day before work getting the grounds beautiful- mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, removing ALL the cactus, setting up chairs/tables, and much more.  My brother was out in the FREEZING cold scrubbing down the chairs.  He spent practically his whole spring break out here helping us get rid of ALL the cactus.  His lawn mowing skills were put to the test as he mowed our lawn, which looked gorgeous.  Grandpa Gray spent countless hours digging holes for the ivy, trimming bushes and trees.  All of this to make Still Water Hollow absolutely perfect for the weekend.

Tim, Erin and their kids pulled in early Friday morning (3am to be exact).  As they all rolled out of their van and into their beds to finish the nights rest they all had smiles on their faces and excitement for the weekend ahead. Tim and Erin made the weekend so meaningful with their testimony and Tim's message on Easter Sunday was so inspiring!  Audrey and Savannah helped take care of my boys while I accomplished tasks throughout the weekend and Lily made my boys giggle while I was busy.  Savannah captured some beautiful moments on Easter Sunday that I am sure have brought many of you joy as you look through the photo's posted on Still Water Hollow.  Overall their entire family was such a blessing to many of us.  We so appreciate their willingness to drive all the way from Oregon encouraging us and teaching us more about God's amazing ways!

Jake VP, Jake Englehorn, Troy Ferguson and Nell Hill took time out of their Good Friday to use their amazing talents during our Worship Night.  We had so much fun practicing, eating chili together and using music to celebrate that wonderful day.  Heather Beam also came early on Good Friday to make sure everyone who walked into that little white chapel felt welcomed and loved!

Tausha and Mary helped me tremendously on Saturday.  There were many tasks to complete to make the Couple's Night a success and they put the pedal to the metal.  Mary also shared that she will be a "Still Water Bride" this summer during the Couple's Night, which is now my favorite phrase :).  It was such a blessing to get to know her better and I was so touched that she was willing to help us make this event so wonderful.  I also really appreciate Tausha, who found someone to watch her three kids, so that she could spend pretty much all day out here.  She took such a huge load off my shoulders!  Not to mention it's always more fun to work when you have someone right by your side.

Gabe & Michelle Dean....WOW! They made THE MOST delicious dinner for our Couple's Night.  I could have gone back to the buffet line until they had to roll me out of the reception hall.  They spent so much time, energy and love into making the meal incredible and I heard many raves about it Saturday Night.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say that was one of the best parts of the evening.  Tim used his talents that evening to make us laugh, encourage us in our marriages and challenge us to ask God for more.  It was wonderful to look around the room and see everyone enjoying their spouses as well as the company at their tables.

My Grandma, Robyn and the Forrest family all spent their Saturday evening helping me by watching my boys.  There's nothing like placing your children in the hands of people you trust when you have to be away from them.  I know how difficult it can be to watch two little ones who are only a year apart and it means the world to me that they all were so willing to do so.  They also did a great job of wearing them out because they slept for 6 hours straight- I desperately was needing that 6 hours!

On Sunday Joan came out to help hide all of the Easter eggs for us.  She has such a heart for childrean and I know the joy in those kids faces must have been rewarding for her.  This was quite the task considering there were over 400 eggs, I believe.  Kapree also came to help hide the eggs and she made a last minute trip for us to help keep the flies away :) Shelly, Rhonda, The Weathers, Gayle, my Grandma and many others brought yummy desserts.  I wish I knew who all brought desserts, but just know that I am so very thankful.

This weekend was very powerful for me.  I've felt this huge desire to have events out here that bring Glory to God and that bring joy to families.  To see all the smiling faces, all the laughter, the friendships made and the happiness that exuded from each and every one of you who attended was the biggest blessing to me!  I'm so thankful that God showed up this weekend.  He made a statement and I truly believe that He showed how deeply he loves us all in the beauty he blessed us with.  Thank you to each and every one of you who felt God calling you to be a part of this.  You have no idea how deeply touched I am that you would step up and go above and beyond to help make this last weekend so meaningful.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Easter Weekend Volunteers

I want to preface this by saying that there are many of you who have helped us immensely and we do not want you to feel we just continually ask for you to take time out of your family/work life to help us on our projects.  Equally, we want anyone who volunteers to be able to fully enjoy the events, so we are only going to "allow" you to volunteer for one thing, so we don't take advantage of anyone :)  Thank you for reading this and all the prayers and support we have already received.  God is doing great things with Still Water Hollow and I'm so excited to see how he continues to use this place to minister to others!

As many of you know Tyler and I are on a new business venture, and we’re excited to say it’s going well. This is a gorgeous place for weddings and we feel a great responsibility to help make Still Water Hollow weddings unforgettable and we pray that everyone who comes here will feel His presence.

But we want you to know the “rest of the story” when it comes to Still Water Hollow. From the moment we started writing up the business plan we sensed God had something more in mind, That He had great plans to use this place for His glory. We are continually praying that we will feel his nudge and hear His voice when it comes to glorifying His name with this beautiful piece of land that after all … belongs to Him.

We’ve been praying that God would lead us in creating wonderful opportunities to use this place as a ministry. Recently we’ve felt led to hold an entire weekend of events where the focus would be on Christ, His sacrifice, His grace, the freedom we find in Him and the calling we have as husbands, wives and families to build our foundation on God. We have decided to do this on Easter weekend. We want you to know all about it because first, we hope you’ll come and be a part and invite your friends (especially those seeking Christ) but also because we hope some of you will feel called to participate on an even deeper level. Let me tell you what we’re planning.

Our weekend will start with a special night of worship in the Still Water Chapel on Good Friday, April 6th. We are prayerfully designing an evening for families that will draw people to the cross and the love of Jesus mainly through music. This will be a free event.

That will be followed up with a Saturday evening event for couples. This will be a time of fun and fellowship with a delicious dinner created by our dear friends Gabe and Michelle Dean. Our special speaker will be Tim Bruce, our good friend and pastor who now lives in Oregon. He’s funny and relates especially well to men. We will charge for this Saturday evening event to cover the expenses. The night will be filled with inspiration, laughter, and encouragement.

Then to round out Easter weekend, we’ll invite families back on Sunday afternoon (after lunch - around 2pm) for a short message from Tim in the chapel (realizing many will have gone to their own churches in the morning) followed by an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids in the Still Water Hollow Village. We’ll have a potluck dessert spread in the shop with coffee and drinks so people can stay and visit if they want. This will also be a free event.

Throughout the weekend we plan to keep the chapel open for those who would like a quiet place to pray and just focus on Jesus.

I know many of you already volunteer in various ways, including your home churches, and Easter weekend could be a busy one for you. I’m just asking that you pray about this with me and if you feel led to volunteer for any of these events we would appreciate it so much. Our prayer is that the weekend will be filled with volunteers who are fervently praying for each person that steps foot on Still Water Hollow- that their hearts would be open to what God has to say whether it’s through music, teaching or fellowship and that each volunteer will do so because they sincerely feel God is asking them to be a part of this.

Once you’ve spent time in prayer and if you feel led to participate - here are the areas we need volunteers in.

Getting the word out- taking a few flyers and handing them out to family, friends, neighbors, letting your church know about the events, inviting people on Facebook and other media sources.

Greeters (Friday, Saturday & Sunday)
Direct parking (Friday & Sunday)
Set up crew on Friday at 6pm
Set up crew on Saturday at 3pm
Clean up crew Saturday evening (no more than 1 hour around 9pm)
Set up crew on Sunday at 12:30pm
Clean up on Sunday (no more than 1 hour)

Please let me know where you feel God is leading you, or if you just want to help out in any way at all … we are in need. Thank you for praying for this journey and that many will come to know His love and His grace through the events held at Still Water Hollow. We are very grateful for our many brothers and sisters in Christ!

Tyler & Brianne Gray

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daddy Vs. Mommy Scenario's

Why is it that my husband and I can do the same exact activities, but consistently have very different outcomes.  Such as bath time.  Without fail bath time goes very well when my husband has the children.  They'll spend hours in there without fail.  I used to love bath time with my kids (the first two times).  It gave me a good 30-45 minutes of pure joy.  No children crying, no one needed food, no one was pulling at my leg while the other was in my arms.   It was a little escape, without actually escaping.  The Honeymoon ended quickly though.  Now my bath time with the kids looks a little more like this.....
Splish, splash, happiness!
Titus poops.
HURRY- pull out Titus, wrap him in a towel, pull out Ryker and do the same.
Drain the bath
Fill up the bath
Put Ryker back in.  Put Titus back in.
HURRY- scrub the kids before anything else can go awry
Titus poops.
HURRY- pull out Titus, wrap him up.
BANG- Ryker falls in tub.
I RUSH, about to have a heart attack.
Grab my sopping wet toddler and try to console him.
He pees on me. I wipe him down.
Wrap Ryker in a towel.
Titus is screaming, so I attend to him.
Now Ryker is screaming, so I attempt to attend to both.
Titus pees on himself before getting the diaper on.
Sponge bath it is!
Diapers on- CHECK! Lotion on- CHECK! Clothes on-CHECK!
Me getting the chance to take a check

What I love about these scenario's is that about the time I finally get things in order, have Ryker happy with a bottle and kick up my feet to feed Titus, Ty walks in,  making it look like I've been lounging around all afternoon.  I think there is a conspiracy happening between my two children already.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thumbs up for this Cosmetic line

Alright Ladies I am letting go of some insecurities for this blog post in hopes that it might help some of you, or someone you know.   I've always struggled with acne and it seems like I've spent most my life (and funds) trying to find solutions for it.   When I was in high school I took acutane after many attempts with topical creams, medication, different cosmetic lines, etc.  Thankfully the acutane cleared up my skin and I was able to feel some sort of freedom for a while.   Unfortunately, that only lasted a few years and pretty soon the acne was back.   It came back around the same time that I got married and because of the serious side effects of acutane if you become pregnant I just wasn't willing to take that risk.   So the hunt was on again for something that would work.   Lots of money was spent on face wash, spot treatments as well as laser treatments (hoping to get rid of the scarring too).  This last spring my aunt told me about a new line called Blackbox Cosmetics.   Since they were just getting off the ground they only had a face wash and lotions out at the time.   I tried those and while they did leave my skin feeling great and didn't seem to make the acne didn't get rid of my acne or my scarring.   Just a few months after using the product, Blackbox sent out an email looking for people who were willing to participate in a trial for their new acne line.   I sent them a photo of my skin and they sent me the product (face wash and treatment serum).  I was excited about the idea of trying something without loosing more money.   Right before they sent me the trial kit my skin actually began getting worse and worse.   A week after using the product I found out I was pregnant, so obviously my hormones were going crazy and that was making my issue even worse.   The trial kit lasted me 8 weeks and I've attached my before and after photo's.
I'm not a salesperson and I'm really not trying to sell anyone on this.   I understand everyone's skin is different, but coming from someone who has literally tried everything, I hope that if any of you are struggling with the same issue this might be the answer for you like it was for me.   Blackbox has just released this acne line called "Geniskin" and you can read more about it and/or purchase it from the link below.   There's some real positive things about this company:
1. You can purchase the "pretty" packaged product your first time, but each time after that you can just purchase the "refill" at a discounted price.   This way you aren't paying for the pretty packaging every time.  The refill just slips right into your old case.
2.  You honestly only have to use 1 pump of the wash and the serum to get the job done, so they last 6-8 weeks.
3. The masque and the scrub tend to last 10-12 weeks for me because I only use them 1-2 times per week.
4.  When I priced it out I am spending about the same as when I was buying the cheap stuff at Walgreens.

I really hope this info helps someone out!
Blackbox Cosmetics Geniskin Line