Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beautifully Spoken

Earlier this week, I was reading the blog of one of our family members. The words she wrote struck such a cord with me and I have thought about her post a number of times since then. She and her husband were celebrating 18 years of marriage and this is what she wrote: 

“A picture is worth a thousand words” the saying goes… As we crack open the dusty albums of our memories, we take a few minutes to stroll through the snapshots that comprise our lives. Each picture has a story.  A prologue, a theme, and an afterword. We see frozen moments in time:  the smiling faces, sleeping babies, sandcastles on the beach, and milestones and holidays celebrated.  We are grateful to our God for these joyful moments, and pause to smile and “remember when”.
Yet veiled behind the surface, there is always a deeper story:  The argument that happened hours (or minutes) before the picture was taken, the deeper ache just below the surface of the smile, the unexpected turn of events that was to come just around the corner.  It is in the moments, days, and months between the snapshots that we live our lives.  And it is in this broader narrative that the master storyteller unfolds his greatest epic.  It is a story of redemption and restoration.  A story of hope in the midst of despair.  A theme that never changes and a hero who always shows up to save us.
And so it is in life.  We bring to the Lord and to others what we think is our best.  We work diligently to refine and present our talents, giftedness, and God-given dispositions.  We want these things to be a reflection of God and a blessing to others.  We would like the smiling snapshots to represent the total picture of who we are.  Yet there is more…
“Our brokenness also reveals something about who we are.  Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives;  rather they touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality.  The way I am broken tells you something unique about me.  The way you are broken tells me something unique about you. That is the reason for my feeling very privileged when you freely share some of your deep pain with me, and that is why it is an expression of my trust in you when I disclose to you something of my vulnerable side.” Henri Nouwen
So as we pause to reflect on God’s goodness and provision, we do thank him for the smiling faces, the sleeping babies, the sandcastles and cheerful celebrations.  Yet we also give him great thanks for the brokenness, the loss, the despair.  For it is in his constant redemption of these difficult experiences, the smaller stories told by our lives, that the theme of his greater story consistently plays out.  He continues to be the one who does and will continue to “restore the years that the locusts have stolen.”
I keep thinking about how true it is that our cameras catch the snapshot of mostly the "happy moments" in life...like the weddings, birthdays, baby's first ultrasound, and so forth...but we don't stop and take a picture when we're standing in the kitchen talking through what to have for dinner after a long, tiring day...or when we have those harder conversations in the challenging times. Brandon and I are human (!!) and certainly can relate to what was written about being thankful to be vulnerable with one another in our brokenness. It really is a beautiful thing to be able to walk through the "happy snapshots" as well as the difficult ones with your best friend. 
It's amazing how the enemy would love to get us down at times. Even tonight as we packed for the beach for some of our best friends' wedding, we had to stop and pray and ask God to be our JOY as we were both tired, hungry, and so forth after a long day. It was amazing to see how after we prayed...we really did have a renewed sense of peace to move forward with one beach chair at a time (!!) as we loaded up the car to prepare for this special week that we have looked forward to for such a long time. As we wrapped up the night, we gave God the glory for filling our home with His Spirit and giving us the hop in our step we needed to joyfully complete all the tasks that needed to be finished before getting in bed. To God be ALL the glory for the way He is at work. May we not forget to take the time out to acknowledge the need for HIS presence, each step of the way...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20 weeks!

Mama & Nelson at 20 weeks!!!

What a sweet week it's been...calling our baby boy by name!! Thank you again to each and everyone of you for the sweet words of encouragement you've given us over this past week about our precious Nelson! 

I know a lot of you have tried to catch a glimpse here and there of the "baby bump" from pics posted...so I thought I would give you the most recent "20 weeks" shot! 

Not only does everything taste delicious in the second trimester, but I've certainly got my energy back! It's been fun this past week to be in Chattanooga with family for a variety of celebrations: Baby Gender Reveal, Wedding Shower for Liz (the sweet fiance of my brother, Parker), and B's 30th Birthday!! Never a dull moment, that's for sure! Another thing that we've been able to incorporate back into the schedule is exercise! A dear friend sent Mom and Dad this awesome "MaxT3" workout DVD that we've been doing, along with wonderful daily walks as we breathe in the mountain air! Oh yah, and I got a pair of "Fit Flops" to wear around here, there, and everywhere to be making the most of every step! 

I couldn't resist sharing the latest "Family Workout In The Kitchen" video with ya! If you have two minutes, check this out

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


We are thrilled to announce: IT'S A....BOY!!!! 
"Nelson Nall" is on the way!!! 

We're 19 weeks along and had an ultrasound today in Chattanooga at 3pm. We let the ultrasound tech know that we wanted to find out tonight with family and to try not to let us see anything that would give it away! So after our appointment, she called a local bakery (that already had the cupcakes made and was waiting to hear if the inner icing filling was going to be blue or pink) to let them know "boy" or "girl".

First, I have to say that I have never seen something so amazing as that ultrasound of our very own baby. The brain, the heart, the two kidneys, the legs, the feet, the hands...unbelievably amazing. I had tears in my eyes as I was watching that precious one kick his/her feet and chills just seeing how God was literally knitting this little miracle together in my womb. 

Second, I kept wondering how anyone could ever question that there is a "God" after seeing something as miraculous as this. I have been reminded of "life" a lot lately as I feel more and more in "bloom" everyday with a growing belly, now seeing this precious one on the ultrasound, the beautiful weather all around, and pretty flowers popping up everywhere. Even in the midst of a lot of pain in the world, so sweet to be reminded of God's fingerprints of LIFE all around. 

OK...so back to the "gender reveal" story! Tonight at 6pm, Mom, Dad, Parker (my brother), Brandon and I had pink and blue all around the room...with cupcakes in the center of the table that would soon tell us the gender of our precious firstborn! We had Brandon's brother (Steadman) on FaceTime (where we could see him on the iPhone and he could see us) and a neighbor came over to take photos. We counted down from 3...2...1...and then all bit into the cupcakes at the same time. And the inside icing was...BLUE!!!! We all screamed, hugged, jumped, and thanked the Lord with such excitement for this precious one! 

Ever since Brandon and I got married, we knew that we wanted to name our firstborn son, Nelson. There is a pastor out of Denton, TX named "Tom Nelson" who has been a real encouragement and role model to Brandon over the years and the author of the "Song of Solomon" series that Brandon led us through when we were dating. Brandon even emailed Pastor Tom Nelson back in 2008 (when we got married) to tell him that we were going to name our firstborn son after him! When we were sharing this story about a future son's name with Brandon's family over Thanksgiving this past year, they joyfully informed us that "Nelson" is a very strong family name on the Nall side of the family. That made it all the more special. 

As soon as we knew it was a boy, a text was sent to our "secret messengers" in Dothan who had a special delivery ready to be taken to Brandon's parents! So it's been an "It's A Boy" celebration all over the Southeast this evening! 

So much more to say and still soaking in the special news (!!) but knew that we didn't want to leave you hanging any longer! Thank YOU for your messages, texts, emails, calls, but most of all for your prayers for our precious SON! We praise the Lord for a healthy growing baby and are so thankful to have you walk alongside us on this journey!!

Closing statement from the man of the house: "It's hard to sum up all that I feel right now. There was a part of me that has always wanted a son so badly that I just knew God was going to give us a girl first. Now that we know our firstborn is a son...it's all surreal. Not even sure it's started to sink in yet. What has started to sink in is that GOD is amazing and we cannot wait to hold NELSON in our arms in August!! Enjoy a few snapshots from our celebration this evening..." 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures in Odyssey

I'm not sure how many of you remember Focus on the Family's "Adventures in Odyssey" series (which I loved as a child) but that's not what I am referring to today...

I am referring to the new adventures we will have in our HONDA ODYSSEY!! When we moved to Birmingham last summer for Brandon's sales job, we knew that his Camaro would not be the most ideal car to drive around all of North Alabama in everyday! Needless to say, he started driving the Ford Explorer in the Fall and started looking for me a new car. (New to us, not "new" as in fresh off the lot. For those of you who know us well, you know that we are more of the 'Dave Ramsey' mindset and do not plan on ever buying a brand new car. Ha!) Anywho...around December is when the search got serious. Brandon would come home from work and get on the computer to continue his research. 

Just to recap, our first "big purchase" as newlyweds was a queen size mattress, then our house in Nashville, then our most favorite sectional couch ever...but this is our first CAR purchase! We knew we wanted something with great gas mileage, ideally less than 100,000 miles currently on the car, and we eventually narrowed down the search to a car that sits up "higher" than what I call a "car that sits low to the ground". I know that you like what you get used to and the only car I'd ever driven was a Ford Explorer -- but even when testing out other cars that are lower, I felt like I was constantly stepping down into a hole. Maybe it's me being tall, who knows. Bottom line is...I didn't want to sound picky but if B was asking me to be honest, I had to say that I liked feeling like I was up higher. We looked at Ford Escapes, Honda Pilots, this that and the other, and finally our search narrowed in on the wonderful "Honda Odysseys". I never in a million years imagined how jazzed I could get about being the proud driver of a mini-van. As I've told many peoples, I still don't even feel like it is a van! 

So our search was narrowed down to the specific car we liked and we had started going out and test driving some on different evenings and weekends. Then we come to one of the first Saturdays in January when I hear Brandon on the phone with a dealership in Memphis. I knew by the end of that call that I better get up, put my contacts in, pack some snacks, and get ready to hit the road. Memphis is about a 4 hour drive from us -- which would be 4 hours there and 4 hours back. Oh, and we had just done that exact drive a week prior when coming home from a friend's wedding!! SO...it was time to put on my big girl panties and deal with it! HA! I knew that the outcome was something that was worth going for, especially since the planner in me could look at our upcoming calendar and know that we had 5 weekends approaching where we were both in different cities in January/February. 

Off to Memphis we went. I was praying that we would actually return with the car, otherwise I would feel like this was a total waste of time. Brandon was reminding me that we had to be open to this not working out and that we couldn't put all our eggs in one basket with this car. We got there and the guy at the dealership was the best we'd worked with yet. He gave US the keys to the car and told us to come to him if we had any questions. No joke, he was not pushy at all and let us do our thing. We were comparing two of the cars on the lot. I knew the minute we got in the sage blue one that that was our car. I had such a peace about it from the get go. Turns out that B had the same peace. He was so precious in saying that he was so thankful to find one (in our price range) with all the bells and whistles (sun roof, automatic doors, heated seats) because he "wants to give me the world" and this is a way he can love me. Precious! 

After test driving the car, taking this purchase before the Lord in prayer, and talking it over...we went inside to buy our first car together and sign the papers. Off we went, back to Birmingham with our new (to us!) car!!! It had each specific item we had been looking for (within the budget, under 100,000 miles, only had one previous owner, good gas mileage and so forth)...amazing to see God provide! 

We knew we couldn't make a peep about the Odyssey before we told you about the baby on the way, or it would be pretty obvious! I was even hoping not to pull up next to any friends at a stoplight between the first of January and middle of February, otherwise they would put two and two together that we MUST be starting a family!!! HA! The Odyssey has two seats in the front, two seats (can be three seats if we want) in the middle, and three seats in the back. As Brandon said, we have one baby on the way and need to work on filling up the rest of the seats. Love him! All in God's perfect timing! 

Here are a few pictures of our recent purchase. Thanks for being excited with us. It's been a great car for road trips and we look forward to the many more to come! Hope to see you on the road sometime!! 

Closing comment from the man of the house: "As you know, making big purchases as a married couple is a big deal. It meant so much to me to have Whit's patience and support as we did our research to make the best, well-informed decision. We could not be happier about our new Honda Odyssey. It's been fun to find out other friends who are in the 'Odyssey Club' as well. We even get excited about driving to the grocery store now!! Very cool to see how the Lord is into the details and provides what you need and more. Team Nall is so excited to have plenty of room for our new addition!"