Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Call to Prayer

As many of you know, our family has entered a new and challenging phase of life in the past couple weeks. On Monday, June 23rd, my middle sister Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, a week and a half later, we've learned that the cancer is in her lymph nodes as well. Michelle is scheduled to start chemotherapy this next Tuesday, July 8th. It is surreal at times to think of how quickly like can change...but we know God is faithful and He will be her Healer, her strength, and above all will be her constant companion through each phase of what is in store. Michelle is confident that God has directed her to the doctor she is supposed to be with, and she knows that He holds her life in His hands. We are now praying for miraculous healing, strength for Michelle, minimal side effects and pain from the treatments, and daily peace to overwhelm her spirit in the midst of this trial.
As if the spiritual attack on our family was not enough through Michelle's illness, last night I discovered that my Dad has a serious heart condition and will most likely be having heart surgery in the upcoming month or two. Apparently the valve on his heart is not working properly and he will be going in himself for tests just a couple days after Michelle is to start her Chemotherapy.
I feel that this is a spiritual attack against our family and beseech you all for your prayers in this time. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) I know that we are not defeated by these forces, for we have been given all authority in heaven and earth to overcome the enemy. I am confident that God is working in both Michelle and my Father. As Daniel is constantly reminding me, though the facts of life may be daunting, the TRUTH is not limited by fact. The TRUTH is that Michelle and my Dad are HEALED by the blood of Jesus. The TRUTH is JESUS CHRIST, and in that we should trust more than any fact.
I thank you all for your prayers, support and love in this time. I look forward to sharing with you all the joy of life on the other side of these struggles...of celebrating the day that both Michelle and my Dad are completely healed.
Thank you again and God Bless you all.

Making Progress!!!

Okay, so I know most of you who have been talking with Daniel and I recently have come to learn quickly that we have gone crazy with our finances and become "Dave Ramsey" fanatics. Today, I would like to share with you all some of our excitement as we're making progress in this "debt elimination" process.
In January Daniel asked me if I'd be interested in taking a financial class with him at our church on Monday evenings. I was skeptical because I didn't want to give up our "at home" time...but I knew that after a few short months of marriage we were floundering with our money, so I agreed to go. That is when we were sucked into the "Dave Ramsey" world...and it has been the best thing that could have happened to us. We started our class, Financial Peace University, in mid-January. After a few radical changes in our spending habits, and a few months of getting it all going, Daniel and I are now celebrating the leaps and bounds we've made to this point. We've sold my car and as of this afternoon the duplex that Daniel has owned for the past few years will also be sold. That along with massive attacks on our student loans...we have been able to rid ourselves of $90,000 in debt since mid-January. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, we've still a ways to go, but we're both so excited at how God has helped us learn how to manage our money so it doesn't rule over us. Since it's summer time, I listen to the Dave Ramsey show daily on the radio...and I look forward to the day when we will get to call in and shout out for all the world to hear that we are debt free! It's what drives us forward, knowing that we will be out of the bonds of debt and more available to do whatever God calls us to do: to give like we've never given, to go where we couldn't go with all these entanglements on us, to be available for anything. It is truly a freeing process. me crazy, but I love every second of it! And if you hear me mention Dave's name a little too often, please understand that it is only because our lives have changed so dramatically by listening to his advice and changing how we live in response.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Home Renovations

After the Honeymoon and settling into the house, Daniel and I immediately started to change it! We dearly love our home, but we knew that updating it inside and out was crucial! (Besides, I'm married to a project guy, remodeling is a must!)
We started with our own bedroom:
There was a shocking lack of color or character in the bedroom...I guess that's how they built these homes in the early 80's. Anyway...that just would not do for our room. We put up a very nice, soothing light stone blue on the walls and bright white on every touch of wood that trimmed the room. Daniel even painted the inside of the doors in our room. Here's a shot of Daniel after scraping the popcorn off our bathroom ceiling and mudding it to make it smooth.After the blue we decided to get bold and put up a sigle wall of dark slate blue behind the bed and also use that same color in the bathroom alcove open to the room. Finally, to get that BANG we wanted (I say we, but in the beginning it was all Daniel's idea. Now I love it.) we painted the wall behind our mirror a bright fuschia. It really is quite a good way! Now I simply love our is the one place in the house devoid of any "yellow tint" when you look at it. It is cool, relaxing and soothing...yet with enough boldness to not be boring. :)
Then, thanks to the great "Ice Storm of 2007" our beautiful front yard tree began to crack down the center of the trunk. With all the storms that passed through Tulsa earlier this year, that crack began to grow rapidly. Sadly, this Summer, we had to take it out. Though Daniel didn't mind getting to use Dorian's new Stihl. And, contrary to what is seen, I was a huge help by pulling the branches that Daniel cut with a rope so that they wouldn't take out the neighbors tree or our own house.
Sadly enough, the tree did come down, but that made it imperative for us to quickly move onto the next phase of Home Renovations...
Our current project, partly finished, is the entire transformation of our home's look. How is this achieved you may ask? Simple...paint. A LOT of paint. Oh...and the crucial key factor...GET RID OF THE HIDEOUS BRICK! Once again...paint. The horrible thing about painting a home is all the prep-work. We spent over a day just prepping for what was painted in about two hours. In our first weekend we chose to paint the front of the house, which included the portions on the roof. Here I am scraping a small section of the house, which took me hours and hours to successfully scrape. Then Daniel scared the neighbors by spraying on a bright white primer. It was bright white for a day, but I know the whole neighborhood was worried in that time. :) Here's Daniel on the roof taking care of the siding up there. Luckily, our neighbors didn't have to worry too long. After a process that began Friday afternoon, the whole front of the home was painted by Sunday evening. The weekend after this picture we primed and painted the north side of the house. As I write this blog I realize that it is Friday again so this weekend we will be attempting to prep and paint the rest of the house (back and south side). When we finish the base painting we will be having our roof replaced, thank you hail storm and insurance company for getting that taken care of for us. :) Then it'll be trim and's going to look so nice. Anyway, just wanted to share where our Home Renovations have brought us so far! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Newly Wed Fun!

On October 20th Daniel and I arrived home, to OUR home! We had quite the welcome home with wedding gifts filling the entire living room, and a few hiding in places around the house. After opening all the amazing gifts we were blessed with, we started to set up house! Daddy surprised us both by purchasing our cookware for us!!! Which, consequently, has already been put to the test quite a bit with our "cooking at home" habits.

To the amazement of many, I have actually learned to cook quite a
bit from all my time of living by myself in Costa Rica and Argentina.
In the beginning it took a while for people to realize this truth, but yes, I too have stepped into the role of being a "house wife" and love to cook, bake, and scan each Kraft magazine for new recipes to add to our dinner reportoire. I am blessed that Daniel is a great cook as well!! For a while, he was making homemade bread for us each week...then he remembered how much he likes sticky buns, and that was the only bread he made after that! :)
(Actually, I usually made them for him!!!) Having our own home and experimenting with new foods all the time is a blast.
We have definitely grown into the habit of eating at home instead of eating out.

The best thing about finally being married is sharing those little moments of joy, peace, and relaxation. Many evenings Daniel pulls out his banjo and slows things down with a few moments of music and rest.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Honeymoon Snapshots

For our Honeymoon, Daniel and I flew down to a fantastic all-inclusive Sandals resort on the island of Antigua in the Bahamas. It was absolutely incredible with beautiful weather every single day! I admit it, we layed out on the beach all week long! It was fantastic and so restful!!! Here is a view of the resort from out in the ocean. If you're wondering how we were able to take this fantastic shot of the resort, here's how: Daniel and I loved to take out the Hobycat sailboats...and I let Daniel steer most of the time. When I tried, it was rather comical. :) Daniel became proficient at it and even attempted to bring one side of the raft up off the water...which I wasn't such a fan of. However, it was a great way to enjoy the ocean and get a better look at the island we were staying on.And here's a shot of the cabin we stayed the view from the ocean we stayed on the left side of the resort, which was full of little cabanas and private pools, with lush plants and flowers everywhere we looked.Part of the beauty of staying at an all-inclusive resort is that all the restaurants are included!!! We were able to dress up and eat out at different restaurants each evening. Our favorite place to eat, by far, was the small sushi bar below the Hibachi restaurant. We told the chef that we like sushi and just to be creative...and boy did we get some AMAZING SUSHI!!! It was the best I've probably ever had!Of course, we didn't stay on the resort every day! One day we went into the island of Antigua and had lunch at a local restaurant there...with a lobster big enough for both of us!!! And here's one for Grandpa!! While at the resort I was able to find a couple "tickets" that I just had to get a picture with! :) Just because one is out of their country doesn't mean that old habits pass out of mind. :)
It was a dream-like Honeymoon. Daniel and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to rest, just be together, soak up the sun, and begin sharing the rest of our lives together.

Wedding Bells are Ringing...

Well, it is time that I began a new blog to document this new, exciting time in our lives...the lives of the Parkers. More specifically, Mr. Daniel Parker and Mrs. Jennifer Parker!!!! Wow, that sounds great!On October 13, 2007 Daniel and I became husband and wife. And it was about time! As most of you know, Daniel and I dated for 13 months from separate continents...and only a phone line to bring us together. Even with all those miles between us, God wove our hearts together and built between us a friendship that is deeper than I ever knew possible. Hence, our wedding day was like a dream come true...the day when we finally joined our lives as one.

Our reception was outside at a local park, with the sun setting in the background and candle light creating the most romantic atmosphere. Mom made the cake, of course, and it was spectacularly gorgeous!!!!

The evening was full of music, dancing, and plenty of fun!
We are so grateful for our amazing family and friends who shared in this eventful occasion with us. And for those who were with us in spirit, you were not forgotten!