Sunday, June 30, 2013

North Carolina Trip

We just returned from a wonderful trip to North Carolina and are so grateful for the time we got to spend with Sean's grandma, dad, and uncles.  Sean's grandma got to meet our boys for the very first time!  Sean's dad was also in town with his brothers, so it was a great time to go so we could see them, as well.  The drive there was gorgeous, especially going through the mountains.  Sean's grandma lives in Sanford, NC.  We spent the whole trip spending time with family......and eating!!!!  Perfect!  :)  Here's a few pictures from our time there. 
The boys with Grandma Brewner
I love the way Great Grandma and Ryan are looking at each other (great shot Sean!!!!)
Downtown Sanford had a park and a train depot where we took the boys.  We didn't last too long, it was H-O-T!!!!
Out for ice cream
Andrew was soooo serious on this trip, rarely smiling or talking or playing.  As soon as we got home, he found himself again and was back to our lil Andrew. 
My fave lol :)
On our way home!!!!!!!!  Great trip, but great to be home, too.  I LOVE TN!!!!!! :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sean's surprise birthday party!

I planned a surprise party for Sean last night, and I actually pulled it off, he was SURPRISED!!!  It was funny, he decided to clean our gutters 15 mins before guests started arriving.  He has NEVER cleaned our gutters.  So, when the Nafzigers pulled up he was on a ladder sweeping the roof!  Yup, he was surprised.  We had a blessed time fellowshipping and having fun!  We had cake and ice cream and ice cream cones and some finger foods that friends brought.  Here are some pictures.  The lighting was not so great so sorry for that. Oh and P.S. Sean's birthday is actually tomorrow, June 23rd.  :)
Courtesy of Wal-Mart

Callie Bates, Sean, Andrew, Ryan Brewner

Kim and Kaden Nafziger

Gil Bates, Ryan and Jake Nafziger

Addee and Ellie Bates, Marlin Nafziger

Zach Bates

Ryan Brewner

Judson Bates, Whitney, Zach Bates

Hunter "icing man" Brewner

Ya lookn' at me??!!

What, I didn't do it!!!!

OK, you caught me!!!!

Warden Bates

Ryan Brewner
Me and Alyssa Bates

Ryan Brewner, Warden and Gil Bates, Ryan, Amanda, and Jake Nafziger

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pappy Visits!!!!

My Dad came for a visit, arriving super late Sunday night and leaving this morning, heading to a family reunion in W. VA.  We enjoyed our visit with him so much.  We went to a couple of parks, the zoo, Mexican food, church on Wednesday (we had a special visit from the whole Duggar family), ice cream shop, and lots of play time with the boys!!!!!

The pictures are from Big Ridge State Park. 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

Happy Father's Day, Dads!

We took Sean to the Tennessee Smokies baseball game last night to honor and celebrate him!

AND as I type, my Dad is driving up to see us from Florida and we are very excited to see him!
The Smokies played the Mississippi Braves

Mind Ryan's TOO big pants, even with a belt! 

This little guy just had his 9 mo checkup and is back on antibiotics for another ear infection.  Ry is on antibiotics for lymphadenitis.  We are thankful to God that we have a doctor to take them to and medicine to give them and that they seem perfectly fine and healthy!  :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Andrew just learned how to wave and clap last week!!!!

AND Hunter is officially pabu (pacifier) free!!!  Today is day two!  He is doing amazingly well, all things considered.  :)


Ryan had his first trial violin lesson today!  He is going once a week for 20 minutes.  His teacher, a sweet girl from our church, is doing it for us!  We are renting his violin.  We are very excited for him and hope it works out.  First day went great!

He is also doing daily reading lessons with Daddy.  It's called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  Some days he does great, other days not so much.  I think we have done about 30 or so lessons. 


Ryan attended the Children's Institute all week while we were at ATI.  He really enjoyed it!  They learned about God, did arts and crafts, music, nap time, and on Friday they had a performance.  You can't see Ryan (he was hiding behind his teacher).  Not that you could see him in this any way!  lol He said he was scared because of all the people watching him!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Testimony

In the past I have considered writing a post on how I got saved, but I just never did it.  Then a sweet friend at church not too long ago asked about how I came to know Christ.  Finally, this past week has been such a life changer and I could just shout from the rooftops with joy, that I HAVE to share.  I feel God leading me to do so.  I also had urgings from my husband to do so. 

My life growing up was harder than some, but easier than most.  I do want to say first of all that I love and honor my parents, as we are commanded to do so.  This in no way should be taken as anything but that.  My mother gave birth to me, chose to give me life, and my mother and father cared for me and raised me the best they knew how.  They made mistakes, I make mistakes, we all make mistakes.  Both of my parents were alcoholics.  They divorced when I was five.  My mother has also suffered from mental and emotional problems most of her life.  I lived with my mom and saw my dad every summer and every other holiday.  We moved a lot.  I was sexually abused by my grandfather.  I was physically, verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused by a boyfriend that I lived with for three years who was very controlling.  I myself was an alcoholic and I tried many different kinds of drugs.  I had several boyfriends that I lived with.  I also had sexual relationships with other guys as I was growing up.  I became pregnant at 15, but had a miscarriage.  I dropped out of school when I was 15.  I was angry.  I shoplifted multiple times.  I lied often.  I dishonored my parents and my elders.  I was far from God.  I do remember, however, often times praying, even as a little child. 

When I married Sean and we moved to California in 2005, he deployed to Iraq with the Marine Corps.  It was at that time that I started really praying and I also started reading my Bible.  I didn't know what else to do.  I was so fearful I was going to lose him.  However, I still drank a lot, hoping to numb the pain. 

After a season of suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression, Sean and I started to feel like we were becoming "good" people.  We started going to church.  We even got baptized in 2007!!!  We prayed regularly.  We really tried to follow God and to be obedient.  We tried to teach our children about God.  We tried to honor him with modesty and with guarding our eyes, ears, mouth, and heart.  We tried to cleanse our lives of things ungodly.  We had family Bible time most nights.  We really tried to immerse ourselves in everything we could that would bring us closer to our Savior.  We saw God working in our lives.  We have been blessed by Him. 

Unfortunately, I was never taught one simple truth.  At least not in the way that I needed it explained to me.  Until this past week.  You see, I was still trying to do everything in MY on strength.  I have had years and years of waking up every morning, promising God that this time I was going to do it.  I was going to be perfect.  I wasn't going to sin.  I was going to be who I thought I was supposed to be and who I thought God and others wanted me to be.  I failed. Everyday.  I got discouraged.  But I would pick up the pieces and try again.  Everyday.  Some days I thought I did better than others.  I believe I would have gone to Heaven.  I believe I was saved.  However, I was not experiencing true joy or victory.  And I knew it.  I saw it in others.  I wanted it. Bad.  But I didn't know how to get it.  I would get so angry at God sometimes.  Wondering why He wouldn't give me the fruit of the spirit.  I questioned my faith.  I didn't understand.   I remained bitter, angry, critical, jealous, envious.  I even tried to not love God anymore.  Nothing worked. 

Then this past week we attended 4 days at the ATI homeschool conference in Nashville.  The first two days were horrible.  I felt even angrier.  Even more bitter.  Judgmental.  Envious.  I couldn't be as good as all these other perfect families.  Why didn't God want me to have victory?  Then I heard exactly what I needed to hear by Mr. Jamie Lash (one of the speakers).  He told me how I am not a sinner anymore.  I put away my old self when I was saved and now I am a new person.  I have always been taught that I am still a sinner and unable to help myself.  I'm not.  I'm a saint.  I don't have to sin anymore because I have God's power, strength, and might.  I am a saint who will occasionally sin, as Mr. Lash puts it.  What freedom!!!!  What victory!!!!  To know I don't have to be my old self and that I don't have to try to fix it in my own strength.  That God wants me to be exactly who I am in Him.  It doesn't matter if I wear a skirt and watch G movies and go to church three times a week, that is not want it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Yes, I believe these things are good and important, by they were not giving me victory.  I want to tell everyone how much Jesus loves them.  How much He loves me.  He died for me so I could have freedom and victory.  So that I could know the truth.  That the fruit of the Spirit is in me.  I don't have to try to obtain in my own ways.  That I was made to love God and to love others and to serve others. 

It's funny, variations of this have been presented to me countless times, BUT I finally get it.  And I'm never letting go of these promises.  If I get frustrated with my children, which I will, I know that I don't have to go down the anger path because I have God.  I can't do it on my on, but I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. 

One other major point that I took away from this amazing conference came from Mr. David Gibbs.  He told me how I am an ambassador for Christ.  My one and only job in life is to represent Him.  What an honor and a privilege. 

I pray for anyone who reads this that you are encouraged.  I am here for anyone who wants to know more about the love of Christ. 

Jesus loves YOU!  And ME!

Here is the site for ATI

Also, for 9 dollars a month, you can subscribe to the Embassy Institute to hear more powerful messages from amazing people.