Weight: 8 lbs 3 oz Length: 20 1/2 inches
For details on the meaning of his name, Samuel Evan, see Geoff's blog at: www.TraveltheText.com
Born Tuesday, July 29th at 3:34 p.m.
Weight: 8 lbs 3 oz Length: 20 1/2 inches
Samuel had a beautiful water birth with no medical intervention. His delivery was an incredible experience that Geoff and I fully engaged in together; I hope to post more details on his birth story soon. Samuel means "God hears." There were lots of reasons we chose this name, but it carried even more power the week of his birth as we called out for GOD to hear our prayers and bring healing to Samuel's Uncle Kent.
For details on the meaning of his name, Samuel Evan, see Geoff's blog at: www.TraveltheText.com
Meeting his amazing grandparents. Thankful for Samuel's incredible heritage.
This year we spent Christmas with the Carrolls - a fitting theme for the name don't you think? Add to it the tendency of many in the family to break out in singing at sporadic points each day and the name seems even more fitting. Ah, the things about your husband that are so much easier to understand after being around his family for a while. He's a keeper.
Geoff's folks are house parents for a children's home in Abilene. It's an incredibly demanding job and hardcore ministry, but it does come with a few perks. They live in a large house designed to accommodate all the kids they care for, and during their days off when the kids are gone, it is the perfect place to host their large family.
Geoff is the oldest of 7 and as siblings grow up, marry, and have kids the family just keeps getting bigger (and better, I might add as an in-law). Two were unable to join the festivities in Abilene, however. They were in Africa. Geoff's sister Amber moved to Liberia in October with her family as mentioned in this past blog. Caryn and her husband Carl traveled the globe to join them for a little family Christmas all the way in Africa this year. For some brief time on Christmas day we were able to spend some precious time all together via Skype.
We've enjoyed the last several days in Abilene catching up with family and friends at a relaxing pace. Reyah especially enjoys running in the huge yard, and showing off her new toys in front of her cousin (or would it be aunt?) Lucy, Geoff's parents pup.
The Carroll Men's Club has also enjoyed some quality time together on the racquetball court - a sport they all quite excel in to say the least. It is fun to watch them play this sport, one they grew up with.
Donnie (Geoff's dad) is still the champ, and admired quite adequately by his pack of boys. Notice his incredible ups in the match above, while Geoff rushes to hit the ball beneath him. Very nice.
The Carroll Men's Club. The one in the red shirt is my favorite, but they're all pretty spectacular. I'm very thankful to be a part of this family, and for the time we've been able to spend together this week.
Having returned home from the Thanksgiving feasting, we've been able to review our inventory and are ready to begin taking orders for the amazing alpaca products we were able to bring back from Otavalo, Ecuador.
We have a limited supply of beautiful blankets, scarves, and wraps available for purchase. Why? I'm glad you asked, here are a few reasons you should be thrilled with this opportunity.
1. BEST GIFT EVER
Alpaca "fleece" is 3-4 times warmer than wool, and because it contains no lanolin is hypoallergenic and soft against your skin. It is a highly sought luxury item that will keep you, or those you're buying for, warm and fancy all winter. Not to mention, it's the gift that keeps on giving as your purchase supports many. Each item will come with a brief description card about where the item came from, and what the purchase supported.
Alpaca goods are luxury products that will sell for hundreds of dollars on the open market. We were able to buy directly from those who made the products, making sure they were paid a good price, and are passing the savings on to you.
We purchased each item from the very families who raise the alpaca and turn its fleece into beautiful hand-crafted woven products. We hand select each item to ensure the highest quality of craftsmanship available. These products are fair-trade, organic, hand-crafted, sustainable, and hypo-allergenic.
Purchase of these products helps support the indigenous people of Ecuador who raise the alpaca and depend on the income they receive from their hand-crafted, high-quality products.
In addition, the funds raised through your purchase help us pay for our travel expenses to Ecuador, and an additional portion of each purchase will be donated to the orphanage we work with in Olon, Ecuador.
We will continue updating the Alpaca Products page with better pictures, item descriptions, and ordering options but will officially begin taking orders today. It's first come, first serve for our limited-availability selection; we will process orders as they come in doing our best to get the exact colors and items you want for yourself, family or friends. These are the best Christmas presents as your purchase helps care for others, while providing a high-quality gift for those you love. Happy shopping, we look forward to hearing from you!
Check out the Alpaca Products page here for more information...
Introducing our newest nephew:
Born October 18, 2013 at 10 a.m.; 7 lbs. 6 oz and 21" long.
I have never been so happy to wake up before the sun as when I got the text at dark:thirty from my sister-in-law. My nephew was on his way. Only problem, we were in Amarillo about 6 hours from Ft. Worth. All our fears of having to be there the week he was due came true as we made the mad dash through north Texas rainfalls to Ft. Worth yesterday morning.
Cade made good time. For my sister-in-law's sake I was thrilled. However, we didn't arrive for a couple more hours making it one of the longest drives ever. Thought desperate to see him we were so close that I begged for no texted pictures of his little self. After the agony of having to meet my sister's son, Levi, via Facetime from Israel I wanted to see Cade face-to-face for the first time.
We were a little late, but he still smelled fresh when we got there. I am in love.
Holding my sister's son, Levi, while meeting my brother's new son was quite the feeling. I love these boys.
After I got to enjoy holding him for a little bit, Kinley asked for a turn. These 4 1/2 year old big sisters have quite the change in store for them. Ansley, as expressed in the above picture, is quite reflective of this entire ordeal.
Earlier in the week she wanted to talk to me about "what it's like to be a big sister." After all, I am her daddy's big sister so I must be a good source. She is quite the contemplative one; I'd like to think she gets that from her Aunt Jamie. Having thought through all that this little brother business entails, she is rightly excited, nervous, scared, thrilled, worried, and hopeful all at the same time.
After a little more time she was ready for the honor and responsibility of holding her baby brother for the first time. She was thrilled that "he seems to like me." How could he not.
I think Cade is in good hands.
By the way, that's my baby brother. He's adorable. All grown up. And just look at those precious babies of his. He's a great Daddy. I love this picture and everyone in it more than words.
When talking with Ansley as we walked around the hospital, I asked her what it meant to be a big sister.
"It means we need to love him, and take care of him, and teach him about Jesus."
Yup. That about sums it up. Welcome to the family little man. You're loved.
7 years ago today our wedding began at 6:16 p.m. in Abilene, Texas in reference to Jeremiah 6:16: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
That's where the name of this site came from as well, by the way. Carroll Crossroads. We certainly have seen our share of crossroads; and ancient roads as a matter of fact. I couldn't be more thankful in this journey of life than to walk these roads with Geoff, who truly does lead me along the "Good Way."
We've had a great 7 years together full of excitement, trial, adventure, grief, joy, hope, and most of all - LOVE. Marriage is an amazing gift, not just for all the obvious reasons, but for the harder lessons. The lessons of learning how to truly love another, and be loved in return.
Though we often prefer to wrestle with peripheral possibilities of what our life purpose, meaning might be, the answer is all too simple. Love. Love God, love others, receive HIS Love. GOD is LOVE, therefore any act of love around the world can come only from HIM.
Marriage is a hard but incredible to learn more about what love is, whether it's your marriage or the examples of those around you. It's why you stick it out in the hard times because it's not always about "happy" or "romance" but about learning the often sacrificial, overwhelming power of a love that's bigger than all of us. Because it's not easy - and I DID marry Mr. Perfect.
I'm thankful for the refining fire of loving this man, being loved by him, and as a result learning what it means to be a presence of love in the world. I still have a lot of work to do on this subject, but I'm thankful to know it, to be aware of the challenge and opportunity, and to walk with someone excited to grow in that Truth with me.
And besides, 7 is my favorite number, so you know this next year is going to be FANTASTIC! I love you Geoff Carroll! Happy Anniversary, and I look forward to 77 more to come.
"Stand at the Crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls."
Meet my in-laws...
This is a neat family. Geoff is the oldest of seven siblings, five of whom are now married or engaged. Add a niece, nephew and his parents and we had quite the family reunion a couple weeks ago. He has a great, big, wonderful immediate family and I'm thrilled to be part of the clan.
In a recent blog I talked about the love in this family and their blessing to me the same weekend these pictures were taken. We worked hard to find a day the entire crew could rendezvous in Abilene for family photos. Quite the undertaking for this active family and we had great fun together.
The above picture prompts a deep blog about how they are always supporting one another and how wonderful that is. It's true, but I'll skip the usual soliloquy and let the picture do the talking.
Accept the things to which fate binds you,
and love the people with whom fate brings you together,
but do so with all your heart.
The Carroll family I had the good fortune of marrying into has one tradition in particular that really sets birthday celebrations apart. When someone has a Birthday the whole family takes turns speaking words of affirmation to them. Around the table they go saying, "What I like about (bday person) is..."
And so this past weekend it was my turn. I received several renditions of "What I like about Jamie is..." and was overwhelmed by how affirming the experience was, perhaps this year more than ever.
Time dedicated to affirming and encouraging one another is a lost art at times; their words restored my soul. As we struggle to control the whirlwind that is our life at present, it was priceless timing to have people who know and love me remind me of who I am; of who I am called to be.
They took turns speaking such things as:
I love how well you love Geoff; how you seem to care about what's going on with me when we talk; how you're okay with trusting GOD to reveal what's next during transition; that you're hospitable and love to serve.
It was hard to hear their words of affirmation above the sound of my own thoughts attempting to contradict.
"I do love Geoff, but I fail far more often than I succeed at loving him as I should."
"I do care about what's going on with you, but I should be more involved in your lives than I am."
"That's sweet, but I am not trusting - I freak out regularly about our situation(s)!"
"I'm not as hospitable as I should be, I'm a selfish introvert far more often."
This voice echoed against me as my family sought to affirm. Yet I was able to quiet it more than usual to receive their words of truth calling out the person GOD made me to be. They didn't say I was ALWAYS those good things. They could have spent far more time picking apart my weaknesses - I'd have joined in more readily for that.
But they didn't.
They could have picked apart any number of mistakes I made that day alone. Things like, "Jamie, we noticed you weren't patient with Geoff when you asked him to feed the dog..." and launched into reasons I should have been, how I was wrong, what an ungracious person I was and on and on. They would have been right.
But they didn't.
They took time to call out the person they saw I was created to be. Praise GOD I was able to hear. To receive. To believe that I can be those things by HIS Grace and Strength. They spoke His Truth into my life. I am thankful for family who will surround me and speak words of encouragement and blessing. I am also thankful to know these same people would speak to me when I mess up, not by picking me apart, but by helping me pull it together.
We are often trained by society in mock humility to beat ourselves up rather than to call out our strengths. We excel at identifying weakness in others and ourselves and focus our gossiping tongues to such degrading conversation far too often.
What if we only called out each other's strengths? What if we never slandered another person - our selves included? What if we talked about such things as church "issues," others mistakes, or even politics (you mean don't slander even the President!?) with love, encouragement, and grace rather than the more common condemnation, arrogance, and disrespect.
I think we'd all be better for it. I'm guilty of condemning, arrogant, slanderous talk EVERY DAY. I hate it. It is poison. I want to speak TRUTH in LOVE. I want to speak Life, not despair. Blessing, not curse. Truth, not gossip. Love, not fear. I'm so thankful for family and friends who remind me of this.
"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching...Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
- Ephesians 4:14-15
Since you haven't officially heard from me since my twenties I thought I should check in with a review of the B-day weekend.
First off, thirty isn't all that bad. We managed to rock in the new decade in fine style.
After spending the week in Amarillo we returned via Abilene for time with Geoff's family on Saturday. Everyone got together for family photos, an incredible feat in that large family. It was so good to see everyone all together and we soaked up every minute of the time we had with everyone.
Geoff's family spoiled me big time. One of his sisters made excellent gluten-free birthday brownies and my beautiful blonde niece, Ruby, was great help adding a pile of green sprinkles on top. Geoff's brother and his fiance made awesome homemade salsa and my joy was made complete. They blessed me with incredible words of encouragement and strengthened me more than they will never know.
For birthday fun we caught a half price round of golf at HOT-o'clock in Marble Falls on Sunday. Though a golfer through high school I haven't had the opportunity to play much since then. Geoff and I played our first round together about 7 years ago right before we got married and hadn't been able to play again since. It was time.
Now as some of you may know, for a long while now I've wanted a Jeep. Any Jeep would be thrilling, but the dream Jeep was a 1983 CJ - the year I was born. I have been particularly Jeep crazy the past few months thinking about how perfect it would be to get when turning 30 addition. The Jeep and I could turn 30 together, and we'd be sure to help each other stay young. Alas, it's pretty hard to find a Jeep that age that met my criteria. Had to be a 1983 CJ, dark green was preferred, running was convenient, and price had to be LOW. Much to Geoff's relief such a Jeep didn't exist.
Then on our way back to Belton we passed the above Jeep on the side of the road. "STOP!" Geoff kept driving. I told him there was no way it really would be an '83, or be a good price but that if he didn't turn around to check then in my memory it would always be "the perfect Jeep you didn't even check out."
Odds were in Geoff's favor. Check it out, confirm it wasn't an option, move on. He took the bait.
"Hello sir, just calling about your dark green Jeep for sale. It's an '83? Runs well? What price??"
It was my Jeep. It was perfect. I loved every little rusted inch of the thing. I could already see "JC's CJ" airbrushed on its cute little fender. We would grow old together.
Alas, I had to say goodbye. But it was mine for a little while.
With all the efforts to overcoming materialism Jeeps remain my kryptonite. It's amazing the sacrifices and ideas I can come up with to figure out how to justify purchasing that thing. If only I could work that hard to come up with ways to love on other people. So far I've managed to leave this one by the roadside but it was a hard fought decision. I may yet go get it one night while Geoff is sleeping...
In effort to party as long as possible we celebrated with my parents on Monday. Now, my rule with cake is if I can't eat all the wheat-filled junk the rest of you eat in front of me all the time I shouldn't have to share my gluten-free cake that is much harder to come by. My mother and husband clearly disagreed.
My folks took us out for a fabulous Thai food feast and we enjoyed a great time together. Even had a special Thai dessert that they also helped me eat. What would I do without them.
We had a great weekend and it was good to be back in our own bed Monday night after being gone over a week. I'm so thankful for my husband, awesome family, and friends who helped remind me who I am throughout this weekend. Bring on the thirties - it's going to be the best decade ever (especially after I sneak out tonight and pick up that Jeep! Just kidding...).
When you give a mouse a cookie...
There are understood implications.
When you sell/get rid of most of your things before moving out of the country...
The implications may surprise you.
By March of 2012 Geoff and I had done a total sort of our earthly possessions. Items worth the time to sell were liquified through Craigslist and garage sales, useful smaller items such as clothing and kitchen items were donated, selected heirloom/keepsakes were carefully stored, and our fairly respectable tool collection was divided between our dads.
Our Aspen bed we built our first year of marriage found a home in an empty guest room at my parents house with our nightstands. We kept a tote of clothes, a couple "personal" boxes of keepsakes, winter coats, linens in my great-grandfather's old trunk, and framed pictures under our bed. Geoff sold, gave away, and loaned out a majority of his library while still managing to preserve quite a few - boxes. (I hadn't realized how many we still had till last weeks unpacking...that boy can study!) We kept our cookware and pottery we got at our wedding and a few other misc. items for one reason or another.
We didn't plan to move back to the States for a while hoping our journey to Ecuador would be a longer one. However, as it got down to the nitty-gritty we felt the caution to preserve at least a few basic living items for if/when we did return. We could always get rid of them another time. A year-and-a-half later we're thankful to have a few such items around.
Our goal in purging assets wasn't so much a vow of poverty as it was the dream of simplicity.
It was an interesting transition watching things go away that year; either in exchange for cash, or in a donation, or to the trash. I remember feeling ashamed at how many times my heart ached over the disbursement of our material possessions.
Gifts and keepsakes were the hardest. It seemed reasonable that things with sentimental connection should be preserved. The things my heart was attached to for one reason or another. But wasn't that what materialism was all about? We wrestled with that a lot in the purging process, even still.
One great benefit of the spring purge - fastest unpacking ever on our return. We are feeling the highs and lows of simplicity and sacrifice much stronger on this end of the experience. Several times I've wondered where This or That could be. On the other hand I feel more organized than in a long time without the piles of Stuff that, although useful at times, are ultimately unnecessary.
The freedom of simplicity is proving far more valuable than the burden of luxury.
Though we still instinctively look for a few items each day that will not be found we are ultimately thankful for the Great Purge. In fact, one of the first things we did when we unpacked our remaining clothes last week was sort through and thin them out yet again. Our wardrobes are not extensive by most any American standards, but we still have so much more than we need. This applies to most every area of our life - STILL. Excess is a sneaky devourer.
Our goal for the next two months while living in this temporary place and time of transition is to further streamline our possessions.
We'll keep the rocking chair my maternal grandparents gave me money to pick out when I graduated from high school. They wanted me to have a good-quality piece of furniture that would last for years to come.
We'll keep the trunk my great-grandfather used when serving as a congressman and the beautiful redwood slab table and clock paternal grandfather built for us.
We'll keep the incredible cookware (that I likely missed more than anything) from Geoff's family, and the stunningly intricate, award-worthy, quilt his grandmother made for us.
Such pieces are worth keeping with us whenever possible. They help remind us who we are, where we come from, and what a gift it is to be loved. Thinning out the other clutter allows them to be more cherished as well. Yet in the midst of clinging to even the most priceless, sentimental of possessions we are learning to guard ourselves against the greatest challenge of materialism. That of replacing the Good with the Thing.
I look at the rocking chair and remember my grandparent's love for me. But I do not love the chair or I make it an idol, minimizing the depth of their love and significance in my life. I do not love the trunk because it was my great-grandfather's, but I love my great-grandfather and remember his legacy when I see the trunk. Anything more would be reason to let the object go, lest it distract as a poor reflection of the reality of love it is meant only to represent.
More than anything the Great Purge and the struggle with overcoming materialism reminds me of how often I am tempted to honor the representation, or idol, instead of GOD. Even the greatest gifts HE gives, say, the Bible or family, are not worthy of worship. Only HE.
So thankful for the times of cleansing, purging, and refinement. Though at times painful, inconvenient, and challenging, I am thankful for the opportunities to remind myself of where Value and Treasure are truly found.
Only in Him.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
We arrived in the States last Thursday afternoon and spent the next 5 days traveling from Belton to Early to Abilene to Dallas to Belton to Ft. Worth and by late Tuesday night were back again to Belton.
We got to see Geoff's sister's (Amber) family on our most recent trip. Their blonde haired babies are growing up so fast and were so much fun to be with. We are going to miss them all so much when they move to Africa as medical missionaries. I have a strong feeling Liberia will be added to our travel itinerary in the next year or so...
In the midst of all our running around we soaked up the "honeymoon phase" of re-entry. Time with friends and family, playing with nieces, nephews and our pup and satisfying countless food and drink cravings has been wonderful. Hot sauce is back on the menu.
Then Wednesday happened.
Yesterday was one of those days that is best to have as a YESTERDAY.
Wednesday was a culture shock nightmare from the beginning. We went to a mega grocery store; something that should be avoided as long as possible upon re-entry. The kind of places that hosted our grocery shopping over the last year of travel would easily fit between just one of the massive aisles.
We were fine at first. Food heaven. We were so happy to have "easy" access to food and familiar tastes that we soaked up the adrenaline rush/sensory overload in high style. Even ran into a dear friend from highschool I haven't seen in years - highlight of the day. Well, mine anyway. The sample of BBQ sausage or the smoked cheese was likely Geoff's.
Then we crashed.
It was around our fourth lap across the massive complex (in search of basic, simple foods among the packaged, processed abundance) that we were overwhelmed. We stayed too long.
Slightly frazzled, we survived the grocery experience and were on to the day's primary task. In the midst of catching up with family we have been searching fervently for a used car in our price range. We've discovered something. In our price range most cars are advertised with words like "parts only." This is a problem for us.
We considered buying a moped but Reyah didn't prefer to run alongside. We discussed ancient transport methods but the horse and buggy lanes seem to be disappearing. Long story short, we found a car. It's so ugly it's cute. Its first trip will be to the shop. Oh. Dear.
But even that wasn't when the day totally fell apart. Let me try to keep this short...
Today Geoff allowed me to hideout most of the day trusting me only with monotonous tasks like bill paying, laundry, etc. done from the safety of the house. Baby steps. Tomorrow we get to work on a house doing basic repair, painting, etc. There are no words to tell you how excited we are to engage this form of productive therapy. Bring on the 100+ degree weather and outdoor work!!!
Travel with us as we explore new lands, engage cultures, and learn to better love each other, those we encounter, and the Lord Jesus Christ at every crossroad of life.
Where Are We Now?