Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bianca is Married!

~Posted by Roma

Left to Right: Josiah, Ben, Betsy, Bianca, Jessie, Mark, Rubia, Roma.

So many exciting things happened for our family in 2017—college graduation, high school graduations, big birthdays, great basketball seasons—and one of the greatest events was my sister Bianca’s marriage to Jessie, her beau of three years! It was the greatest blessing to watch this couples’ relationship mature and blossom, and now to watch them become one—wonderful! Praise God!

The marriage of my sister is a good enough excuse for a blogpost to be longer than normal, and she’s also not here to limit me on how many pictures I use--ha! So make yourself comfortable! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Bianca was the most laid-back bride I have ever known. She was determined to be, and to prove that the whole “bridezilla” thing does not have to be a thing at all. In the short five months of her engagement, she was always on top of things, and I know that the wedding coordinator and others loved that about her. It was challenging to plan a wedding in TX when we live in OK, but she has always been a hard worker, and not worried. She did much of the planning herself, up in her room with laptop and phone, but then the times came when we could do fun things together—like shopping for a wedding dress!

We girls and Mom went with Bianca to two places, in two different states. At place number two she found the dress she wanted. Many wedding tasks including this one went so smoothly and I am very grateful to say that I really could do it all over again. Through prayer and others praying for us, it was a smooth enjoyable process, the way it should be.

When the final few days before the wedding came, well, that’s when the fun started happening! ๐Ÿ˜Š Relatives flying in. A bridesmaid coming over to our house to travel with us down to TX, where the ceremony was to be. Luggage and people and suits and jackets and dresses and shoes everywhere; caravanning in three cars. I personally think this is the fun part! Arriving to the hotel where many rooms where blocked off in advance, and reuniting with so many distant relatives and friends! There were guests from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and Arkansas. All our different circles of friends, all meeting one another. What a beautiful thing!

The day before the wedding, everyone came together with their different talents to decorate and get things ready. We made it fun! We had friends who knew how to do the flowers; others who got creative with burlap and pearls and wood and details. A relative of Jessie’s made an incredible wedding cake and grooms cake. Another friend was the pianist; still others ran the music and technical booth, and the photographers were friends who already attended that church. Everyone came together and everything was beautiful!

Trail mix for guest favors.

Ready for cake!

The wedding cake, with a wooden topper made by Jessie. That is Bianca and Jessie’s silhouette.
Nacho Libre fans will appreciate the Grooms Cake! ๐Ÿ˜Š

A truly Texan reception plan!
While all this preparation was going on, Jessie (the groom) and his groomsmen, and the dads and brothers, as well as uncles and cousins all went to a gun range to shoot. ๐Ÿ˜Š We kick the boys out while the women decorate! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jessie’s parents did an amazing job planning a beautiful rehearsal dinner that night with barbeque catered in, live music, and Jessie’s Dad and our Dad speaking. (And getting a little choked up.)

The tables were all nicely decorated with pictures of Bianca and Jessie when they were little!

Then the bride and groom got up and spoke. After all that, everyone said goodbye to each other (until tomorrow!) and went back to the hotel.

We “tried” to get to bed early, but actually while Bianca slept, we did some last-minute things that included borrowing or lending nail polish for everyone who waited to do nails, stuffing 72+ balloons in an elevator for a planned prank, trying to squeeze them into a car but then putting them in someone’s room instead, and other fun things.

The next morning was a whirlwind of fun and memorable moments…Bianca leaving first to have the pastor’s wife do her hair and makeup, and the rest of us moving slower. We go down to the lobby…and we know everyone there. When Mom and Ruby and I were ready we try to walk out the doors but the paparazzi of Grandparents and Uncles and Aunts and Cousins and best friends and their parents all had to pull out their phones and cameras. Haha!! We make it to the church and head straight for the bridal party room; the girls chilling and getting ready and hanging out before the photographers arrive; the boys getting ready downstairs. Trying to sneak Bianca downstairs for pictures without Jessie seeing her.

Getting Ready

The beautiful bride, with maids of honor Roma and Rubia, and her three bridesmaids J, A, and H.

Bianca and the Mother of the Bride!

Mother of the Groom helping him get ready.

The Groom with his 5 groomsmen: Josiah, Ben, J, A, and J, our 7 ushers, and the ring bearer in the center.

Bianca and Jessie wrote letters to each other that each was to read the morning of their wedding day. I didn’t even know this would be happening and it was precious!

I must spend a moment on Bianca’s First Look she did with our Dad, because this was so special! She wanted Dad to turn around on the balcony at our church and look at her in her dress for the first time. When he did…he cried. That’s NOT something my Dad does very often. Bianca teared up too, and he had a handkerchief all ready for her. Every time I see the pictures of this moment that Gingersnap studios captured, it gets to me every time.

Skipping ahead now, to the moment when we line up behind the sanctuary doors and are quiet. Hearts are thumping, Bianca is hiding with Dad behind the fireplace, and we are ready. The doors open…

A walk to remember always.

Jessie and Bianca had a very Christ-centered ceremony. It was beautiful! They had the traditional vows—but made sure the Pastor spoke on why we need vows—the vows exist because sin is real. Pastor N did an amazing job of focusing this entire ceremony on Jesus—how this marriage would be a picture of how much Jesus loves His bride, the church. During the ceremony, Bianca and Jessie took their first communion together as husband and wife, and spent time praying over each other and the congregation, and we spent a few minutes praying over them and asking everyone to pray for their marriage.

 Jessie and Bianca did something unique: they wanted to braid three cords together as a picture of Ecclesiastes 4:12: A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Their first kiss that they shared together was beautiful as well! They saved it for their wedding day. To be honest, in my mind I was wondering if my sister was ever stressing out about this at all, but now, I really cannot think of any time that she was worried about this or any other details, and I so admire her for it. Here’s what I think is the key—this marriage was so focused on JESUS. And may it always be! We see in secular weddings that the kiss is oftentimes the main event. But it is not. Christ was the main event of this ceremony, and proclaiming His glory. Nevertheless, when Bianca and Jessie kissed for the first time, it was such a special moment! Everyone applauded!

And oh my, did we party afterwards! Bianca created an awesome Spotify playlist with quite a variety of music. We had a Father of the Bride and Bride dance, a Mother of the Groom and Groom dance, and Father-daughter dance for everyone. Then we opened the floor to everyone, and that got crazy fun!

Featuring: Bridesmaid, A, is ready to party! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Along with Jessie and Bianca, J, Rubia and I.

One of the flower girls having so much fun!

Abuelo and Mom.

Abuela and Josiah.

While all this festiveness was going on, I grabbed some people from the wedding party and we ran out to Jessie’s mustang to…decorate it! A lot of people came out to help/watch when they noticed what we were doing. I had prepared some tin cans and we tied them to the trunk. (Note: It was raining really hard later when the Bride and Groom drove away, and we found out that the lovebirds got soaked trying to remove these cans. Hehe.) We wrote on the windows, stuffed the car with tons of balloons, and then Mom had a basket full of road trip goodies to put in the back, for them to take along on their honeymoon road trip to Colorado.

Friends and wedding party going out to ruin *clear throat* --I mean—make the car nice.

Back inside, when the dancing died down, and everyone had finished eating and fellowshipping and taking pictures, we were ready to grab the rose petals and send the Bride and Groom off. This was beautiful, and also hard. ☹

They drove off, in the rain, on to their honeymoon. I missed them already!

Several families stayed late to help us clean up. Afterward, we went back to the hotel and celebrated some more with our out-of-town friends and relatives.

We are all adjusting to (and enjoying) this new season of life. We’ve been so blessed to (thus far) to have seen them several times since then. We have been to TX and they have been here to OK to visit us.

What an amazing wedding! The Lord is good! So good!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Exciting News . . .

Hello everyone! The blog has been quiet lately, but our family has been busy as ever! Pop on over to Bianca's blog for some exciting news! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016: A Year in Review

(A note from Roma: for many years, my sister Bianca was the one who ran our family blog. But she has moved on to the college and adult stage of life. So I have been asked to take over. Let’s see if I remember everything she taught me about how to launch a post! J)

2016 really was a great year. There were unplanned adventures for some of us, uneventful days for others, and plenty of going about the usual mundane routine around the house. Which is not a bad thing. Sometimes the day-to-day things seem small and insignificant, but God can use those times to teach you lessons, give you peace and rest, or whatever you need. The days are long but the years are so short! Which is why I hope and pray that we all “fix our eyes on the things that are unseen, because what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18.)

We siblings kicked off 2016 by ice skating with Bianca’s special man, Jessie. What a fun way to start off year! Winter was spent driving around doing photo shoots (our favorite thing to do around here); a surprise trip to Texas for us girls; hanging out with friends; hosting a really sweet missionary family from Ethiopia (another thing our family likes to do as often as possible—we love missionaries!) and celebrating our Mom’s birthday. And Josiah was playing a lot of basketball as well. (And still enjoys it today! A post about that will be coming up soon!)

Bianca and Jessie on a cold photo shoot I took them on. But worth it!
Going to Texas to reunite with friends was the best Christmas present from sissy ever. Thank you Bianca!

SPRING TIME came, which meant joining a large homeschool coop for the first time in a long time. This coop has come in handy for doing fun classes and educational classes (so that if we cover those subjects there, we don’t have to cover them at home!) We’ve made new friends, gone on fun field trips, and have done other fun activities such as bonfires and barn dances. It’s a very neat group with lots of God-fearing home school families. We celebrated Easter and Josiah’s birthday, and for spring break, my Mom’s parents came for a nice long visit. We watched the amazing film: RISEN. (Joseph Fiennes.) If you haven’t seen this film, it’s a must. Then came Ruby and my birthday, and what our recent blog post was about—the awesome road trip U.S.A to Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and…I’m pretty sure we hit other states too. That was a highlight this past year, seeing and meeting relatives and friends. Read about that here.

Barn dancing with homeschool kids and parents. We got lots more people to come out on the floor later—don’t let the picture fool you! J
This was Easter Sunday. What you don’t know is that I had to walk across the street, climb a big ladder, (first carry the big ladder up and down our super long curvy driveway) and cut this branch from a high tree to capture this photo. The things I go through to get the perfect picture that says SPRING. J
SUMMER TIME! Sports camp at our church; Bianca going to Colorado with her man and his entire family on vacation; and Ben doing ministry in Guatemala for a whole month! Life changing for him. Halfway through his internship, I Face-Timed him and showed him my passport. I was going to join him for one week! It was unexpected—I went with our old church in TX, replacing someone who couldn’t go, so I went for free. I was thrilled! Other summer activities included more photo shoots just for fun, and splashing in the sun at a water park. We experienced crazy weather and having to take shelter in a public building as soon as we had finished swimming; a 4-day power outage in the heat of July; and car problems multiple times, including when we were all dressed up for a photo shoot. But it was still a fun summer. We even got to visit the people who now live in our old house in TX and saw the house again!

Ben and I at the top of Cerro de la Cruz in Antigua, Guatemala, Sacatepequez. My most favorite part of 2016!
Josiah, Mom, and Rubia cooling off one warm July day. Perfect weather. Right before the weather drastically changed and we took shelter at the drug company Bianca works at because of tornado warnings, some serious strong wind and rain. J
FALL TIME brought us enough left-over vacation days to head to Ohio in September to spend time with the Puerto-Rican relatives. It included a day in Amish Country, a wonderful stage production, good food, a cute market and hiking. Still very hot weather at this point, and not very many fall colors yet, but that’s okay. In October, we had our Third Annual Cobbler party at our house and it was delightful! Perfect. Our favorite outreach that we do every year. It included over 80 guests, a tree swing, two piรฑatas, cobbler and ice cream and fellowship. I pray that the Lord uses these events for His glory! For Thanksgiving, we had all the relatives come and see us again just like last Thanksgiving! So fun to have all these people in the house, reflecting on the goodness of God and Jesus Christ.

Cobbler party fun—breaking into the piรฑatas!
“Bio” (Abuelo) and Rubia enjoying guitar together over Thanksgiving break when all the relatives flew down. Mikey is enjoying a snooze.
And now I will just skip over to Christmas vacation in Ohio with the relatives, amazing Puerto Rican food, (are you starting to see a pattern here?) chocolate, lights, music, laughter, my teenage cousin doing that weird dance he used to do as a toddler, and singing and candlelight service and telling the story of the birth of Christ…I didn’t want it to end, but it did and we just got back recently and have unpacked and are doing a lot of laundry!

Everyone in Abuelo and Abuela’s living room after presents had been opened.
So, that was 2016! I realize most of our blog readers have probably read a lot of these things in the beautiful Christmas letter my Mom composed and mailed to all y’all, so this post is mainly for people who don’t get our letter, and also to just sum up this past year.

To close, I will share with y’all my personal goal for 2017. I want to write down on blank sheet calendars for 365 days, 12 months, 52 weeks—what I am thankful for. I am learning how thankfulness can fight so many sins—anxiety, worry, jealousy, covetousness, selfishness, etc. It can also humble me, as I realize how much God provides, protects, and blesses in one single day. It helps me to not focus on what I don’t have, but on what I do have: this peaceful, 10-acre lot with cats and a dog, chickens and roosters, lots of wooded areas, gorgeous sunsets, my parents, four best friends, and friends coming to visit soon.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, and I hope 2017 is filled with blessings, life changing moments, adventures, hope, peace, love, and joy, and a deeper relationship with God.

~Roma (and the rest of the clan)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

~Posted by Roma
Our goal for 2017 is to Post. More. Often! ;) So beginning next week, look for more regular updates coming on Eagles Wings! For now, our family would like to wish all of you a blessed New Year in 2017. We look forward to all that this new year brings!
Here is a blessing over all of our blog readers for 2017:

“…To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor:
To bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of
a planting of the LORD
for the day of His splendor.”
(Isaiah 61:2a and 3)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Virginia 2016

~Posted by: Roma
We recently got back from a really awesome vacation! It was a much needed one. J I am so thankful we were able to finally return to Virginia after six years. If you have been reading our blog for a really long time, you may remember that we all went to VA in the spring of 2010. We spent one whole week visiting family (many were relatives we kids had never met before) and exploring Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, and then another week in Washington D.C seeing all the sights. Since then, we often talked about going back to Virginia, but hadn’t been able to for various reasons. Well, six years later, we were finally able to pack our bags and take a road trip! Praise God!

This time we did not go to D.C at all, nor Williamsburg or Jamestown. This time, the main goal was to see our dear Aunt Gladys, who is now 91 years old, and there were also lots of other relatives and friends we wanted to make sure we would see! Most of this trip was time spent in the car driving—from OK to MO, from MO to TN, from TN to VA, driving from town to town in VA (because the relatives are spread out) and then driving from VA to TN, then TN to HOME! (Yes—a lot of driving. In a minivan with exactly seven seats and a trailer hitched to the back. But we made it! t’s a good thing we love each other because we needed to be squished together for days--ha!

Our first stop was…Branson Missouri! For awhile now, we have been wanting to go to the Sight and Sound Theater in Branson to see the production of “Moses.” Sight and Sound is incredible—they have a theater in Branson and in Lancaster PA, with Christian actors and actresses who do a fantastic job bringing the Bible to life! Our good friends, the S family from Texas, wanted to see Moses as well, and so we road-tripped up there with them to see the production, and hang out together afterwards. We had so much fun with the S family, we are determined to make this a tradition! J After the show, we all went out for BBQ together, and then since we were all staying in the same hotel, we hung out in the lobby late into the night playing a card game. So much fun!

The next day, the S family headed back to TX and we hit the road again and headed to TN for one night, and then on to Virginia.

The first stop in VA was Danville. We went to my Dad’s cousin Bill’s house to have dinner with him, his wife Becky, their daughter Monica, Monica’s three girls Kayla, Bethany, and Hannah, and Kayla’s daughter Logan. Lots of family! J We hadn’t seen Cousin Bill since our Grandma Ruby’s funeral and so it was a happy reunion to see him again. As for everyone else, it had been six years and so everyone has grown so much!

We had a yummy cookout that night and caught up on all the news. Next morning, we all went to Cousin Bill and Becky’s church and then out to lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant.

After saying our goodbyes to Cousin Bill, we headed over to see Aunt Gladys. When we got to her house, however, we saw a note taped on the door. “I’ve been waiting to see you all since noon. It is now 4. I am at ______ restaurant if you want to meet me there.” Apparently, there had been a miscommunication, and while we were still hanging out with Cousin Bill, poor Aunt Gladys was all ready and waiting for us! (Southern people are very patient.) So Dad found the restaurant on his GPS and we were off to chase down Aunt Gladys, LOL! We found her and her daughter Patsy and our Cousin Cynthia all at the restaurant. So we sat down and ate, and afterward we all went back to the house to visit.

This is a blurry picture, but it is precious. Aunt Gladys is one special lady! All of her siblings, including our Grandma, have all passed on, and she is the only one left in that generation. She is strong-spirited, candid, southern, and full of spunk. And we love her! She still drives her own car, lives alone, walks around with no cane or walker or anything, and when I started to feel nauseous that evening and was sipping water, she came marching into the room and declared, “She shouldn’t be drinking water! Diet Pepsi will help!” So she gave me some and sure enough I felt much better! How did she know Pepsi would help? J I miss chatting with her and Patsy and Cynthia about politics, religion, family, and memories already.

On Monday—Memorial Day—it was time to go see cousin Em! We checked out of our hotel in Danville and started driving towards Richmond. Last time we came to VA to see Em, his wife Lois was still with us. Cousin Lois passed away a few years ago, but Cousin Em recently remarried, to a wonderful woman named Irma, and he moved out of his home into Irma’s condo. So we were reunited with Em and met Irma for the first time. We love her! She is a very pleasant lady with a neat background so we enjoyed talking with her. After dinner at Cracker Barrel, we took a tour of their beautiful home and landscape outside, and spent some time just visiting. Then goodbyes were said.

Ruby trying to get near the baby goose at Cracker Barrel. I don’t think mama goose appreciated that as much so she and Ruby are making eye-contact right now. J There were also lots of ducks there that cousin Em and we kids enjoyed watching while relaxing on the rocking chairs!

And that wraps up Dad’s side of the family. Now it was time to go to bed and get ready to meet our friends the W family the next day!

Enjoying time with the W family in the living room—here Bianca and Rubia are with Alexis, Kimber, Cassilyn, and Lydia. They were the sweetest girls!
Dad and Bianca met Mr. W and Alexis at a Father-Daughter Retreat in Georgia many years ago, and we kept up with their family through social media for many years, but it was so wonderful to finally meet them all in person! They homeschool like us and we are similar in many ways. My parents really enjoyed talking with Mr. and Mrs. W, Caleb got to hang out with Ben, and Josiah loved playing with their son Josiah!!! J They showed us their rabbits, cats, dog, chickens, and cows—we took a walk together to a horse farm and back, and enjoyed lots of fellowship. I hope we see their family again!

We have gained lots of new friends. J
And last but not least, the next day we drove to Quantico to see some of Mom’s side of the family. After 6 years, 5 months, and 5 days (YES—I figured out exactly how long it had been) we got to see Mom’s Marine cousin Matt and his family again! We love our cousin Matt and we were very excited. We went to their house and saw Matt, his wife Courtney, and their kids—sweet little Cross and precious baby Charlie. Cousin Mark (Matt’s brother) was also there with a friend, and our Titi Wanda, Matt and Mark’s Mom, lives there as well.

Besides Matt and Courtney’s house, we also toured Titi Wanda’s apartment next door, saw the chickens and horses, and then all went out to eat at Golden Corral. Afterward we came back to the house to visit for a while.

Our time with all our relatives was definitely too short. L But I am still so thankful we got to see so many of them. (Despite the fact that Josiah and I sat in Urgicare during this vacation due to bad coughs and congestion, and I struggled with motion sickness on Day One of the trip. But God is still good! We made it through the whole road trip A-Okay and had lots of fun.)

We also turned the road trip home into a fun occasion! Driving out of VA, we stopped for a tour of Michie’s Tavern, which was fascinating! Next we stopped in the music city for a whole day of family fun! Our day in Nashville included: getting a tour of the Carnton Plantation, owned by the wealthy McGavock family during the civil war; eating lunch at a delicious local bbq place; exploring a toy store with over 20,000 toys in it, and relaxing outside over refreshments at a very hipster coffee shop.

When we got back to our suite, we all jumped into the outdoor pool and hot tub and then got into an intense volleyball game in the water—just the seven of us! It was so nice! That day made me very grateful for the family God has put me in. I love all of them!

This GPS (Maggie) really came in handy during our road trip. If you look closely, my Dad turned the little car on it into an airplane. That is the inner private-pilot coming out in him. J
So, after 10 days, thousands of miles, 6 hotels, family, friends, laughter, lots of food, and making new memories—our road trip came to an end. We have so many other GREAT pictures I would post here, but it would make this blog post way too long. I hope we get to see all those people again soon, Lord-willing, and it was great to just be able to get away from normal life for awhile and do something different! And, to combine Ben’s, Rubia’s and my birthday trip all into one trip. What a great vacation.