Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shh!....Don't tell Dave Ramsey.

Here's what spending half of our emergency fund looks like:

My daughter building a friend and her family a house.

A mother loving another through service.

A fan club for my son's blonde hair.

Blistered hands and sore backs for my brothers.

Watching the Ortiz's oldest son (hooded sweatshirt) move the earth.

A new kitchen and the opportunity to watch a father pursue his dream.

Hugs for my sisters.

An endless sea of precious smiles and laughter.

A barefoot grandfather working tirelessly so that his family can have a new life.

"Today we lived like no one else, so that tomorrow we might live like no one else."

It is a life well lived.


Ortiz House, Day 1

It's early on Tuesday morning and we are getting ready to leave for another day of building. But, I wanted to post some quick pics for those following along.

First, let me just say....

I am SO proud of my family.

Before we began...

Working hard.

The sweet neighborhood kiddos that wanted to play all day.

Then, we headed back to Guatemala City in the afternoon so that everyone could see and "experience" the dump. I didn't take any pictures this time. But, I'm hoping to post some in the future from someone else that did.

We ended the night eating dinner with our dear friends, the Greene family.

We're off again...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's great to be back!

We are all here... and exhausted from a long day of travel, grocery shopping and dinner.

We also have a 5:30 am wake up call in the morning to begin the project.
Sooooo, on that note... I'm jumping off of here and into my bed.

It's so great to be back... words fail me.
I adore this place.

Can't wait to see friends tomorrow...

Noches amigos,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

With an Open Hand

“She can feel the wind right now wash away her tracks and plans saying: If you really want to live this life, Gotta hold it with an OPEN HAND.” -David Wilcox

At the end of the Christmas Eve service of the church we are attending, we lit candles. It started with one candle up-front and the flame made it’s way all the way to the balcony where we were sitting. It spread quickly….only took two verses of Silent Night to reach us. The end of the song signaled the end of the service. At this point, the worship leader so gently told of a tradition from his church back home. The tradition of keeping the candle lit as long as possible. He said they would see who could make it home with a lit candle. And when he told this little story, everyone in the chapel laughed out loud like he had just delivered a great punch line. I mean, imagine passing a line of mini-vans with small flames burning brightly inside. But he was persistent in saying that they really tried to do that when he was younger. For me, the idea that made worship leader’s story funny (and a little bit unrealistic) also invited me into the metaphor of my spiritual candle, the one that is not to be hidden under a bush, Oh no! The one referred to in the old Christian radio gem, “Go Light Your World”. And I was struck with the profound idea that it will really take courage, passion, desire, want, hope, wish, dreaming to make this flame stay alive until I get it home. To make sense out of the non-sense, I would have to fight so that the flame would not be put out and I would need to take great care not to burn everything to ashes between there and home (kids included).

Dear friends & family, tonight we are packing….tomorrow we depart for Guatemala. We will be there for 7 days. Kristin’s Dad, Mom, brother & wife, sister & husband have decided to join us on our Quest. We are going to be with a beautiful family that we got to know this past summer during our stay. They are the Ortiz Family, a family of 5….Dad, Mom, two boys and one girl. Our “reason” for going is so that our family can build them a house. In reality, our hope is to continue building relationships with each one of them. You see, we have unofficially adopted them. They are our family. They need a new start in their life and this build is our hope at inviting them to it. Just like the candle story, I am struck with the profound idea that this Quest will require the same actions and attributes of keeping the candle flame alive. There will be moments of fight, movements of passion, and the giving of great care so that the flame might be taken so gently and quickly from our hearts to theirs.

We will be updating this blog during our time in Guatemala, so please check back as often as you wish.

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Ano Nuevo!

Darrell and family

P.S. You can read more about the Ortiz family here and watch some video here (sometimes referred to as "the baker") and their big dreams.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy and Full

Hello internet land...

Yes, it has been a long, long time. Too long actually.
However, the lack of blogging is definitely not an indicator that we have nothing going on here in the Vanzant house. Quite the opposite.

Over the past month we have started school, started a business, my sweet sister got hitched, and we all 4 got some pukey virus. Throw in 4 wedding showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, 9 meetings about Guatemala, doctor visits, photo shoots, Young Life, 4 birthday parties, school functions and traveling and... whew!!!
It makes my head spin just thinking about it all.

We are still here, I promise. Though most of August and September felt more like "survival"... this past week has been AMAZING! The routine of school, healthy kiddos and cooler, beautiful Fall weather has definitely lifted my spirit.

My heart is happy and and my life is full.
And, I love it this way.

And... because every post is better with a picture... here are some of our last two months.

First day of school. I love how the word "booty" in the morning makes my kids laugh hysterically!

The Mommy Tackle

Short but sweet visit from the Goodfellow's. Riley and Emma, BFF.
And... Riley has started a REALLY cool project that you should check out here. Amazing.

Lingerie Shower pics for my sis.
Benefit of being Maid of Honor = Embarrassing the Bride.

Due to the nature of the party, I can only show you a very few...
but, I adore the next series of photos.


And... poor Mac. This picture just makes me laugh.
It embodies the last couple of months for us.

Okay... I have MANY more pics to come.
But, this is enough for now.

Happy and Full,

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Bus.

Excitement filled the air, as hyped up kids clinging to pillows began saying their goodbyes to parents. We were finally boarding the buses for the annual 5th Grade Safety Patrol Trip to Washington D.C.
It was a right of passage. An honor to be chosen. And a nightmare for me.

I was a nervous wreck. Full-on-hot-mess, in the bathroom, crying, and begging my mom not to make me go. It was my first trip away from her, away from home, and I was scared to death. Lucky for me, she decided to push me on that bus... for my fate was waiting for me there.

A couple of hours into the trip, I noticed this little blonde boy in the back of the bus making all the girls laugh. It was someone who I'd never really met before, probably because we were never in the same class. And I'm not quite sure if it was his easy going personality or the way he knew every word to The Jets or Janet Jackson... but, I was instantly smitten.

As the Story would unfold, a friendship began on that bus way back in the 5th grade... and, by the 6th grade we were best friends. We never "went together" or even held hands but in 6th grade I knew I would marry this boy one day. Sounds corny, I know. But, it's the truth...

I just knew.

Many twists and turns on the road of life... and years later we reconnected at the end of tenth grade. Still just best friends, we shared laughs, love, and scars from previous relationships. Wounds still fresh from other people's attacks... we confided, wept, and hurt for one another. Two kids trying to figure out life together. It was then that we began to dream and hope for the other one... and it was that same hope that eventually led us to our own faith and trust in God.

Our anger and passion for each other would lead us to much healing in the years ahead... and slowly (but surely), in God's perfect timing, we would begin a dating relationship that would blossom into a Union of two souls.

August 7, 1999.

A best friend like no other... a relationship... a deep soul connection love that would last for eternity... that started on a bus.

We've been best friends now for 24 years and married today for 10.

It's real.

Happy Anniversary Baby... It just keeps getting better...

I love you,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Athentikos: Watch & Pray

My friends arrived in Guatemala to finish filming for Athentikos.

Here are some behind the scenes.
Watch the short videos and then pray for Scott.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Friends In Guatemala

Tomorrow, a team of 4 will be returning to Guatemala to finish filming footage for the Athentikos documentary.

Please keep them in your prayers... and, follow along on our Athentikos Blog. The guys will be updating from in country.

Here they are... Bobby, Bengy, J.Mac, and Scott.

On another Guatemala note: We have neighbors and friends that are there NOW on mission trip. The Lutes family is a sweet, sweet bunch with BIG hearts for Guat. You can read about their trip HERE.

I love that we have so many friends there now... It's a beautiful thing!

Guate Lovin,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Fun

"Let's get a little bit rowdy,

Emma had cheer camp all week and today was her big "show".
Pretty. Darn. Cute.

And, Mac played "Mac in the Box" this afternoon.
I love this kid.

Listen to what my little guy said to me today... I'll never forget it...

(After picking him up from gymnastics)

Me: "Mac, do you love gymnastics?!"
Mac: "No."
Me: "You don't???" (very surprised because he really does).
Mac: "No."
Me: "Well, what do you love then?"
Mac: "You."

I think my heart melted right there on the spot. :)

Happy Friday,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kickin' Butt

In the words of my great friend, Scottie Dancy...

"I've been busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest!"

And, that's no joke!
Here are some pics to catch you (and me) up to speed, since our return from Guat:

The 4th of July Bike Parade.

My kids look like Daisy and Bo Duke in this picture. Now all we need is the rebel flag flying from the monster truck.
It's the East Tennessee coming out.... it's in our blood. Ha! :)

Here are some sweet friends from the 'hood.

Then, we had Mac's Birthday "Extravaganza"... okay, so more like pizza and cake for all the little "Backyardagins".

Fun night with great friends!

Next, we took a little unexpected beach trip.
Good for my soul... and, great family time.

As soon as we returned from the beach, I went to a bridal shower for my sister.
Yes, BRIDAL!!!

As you can tell, I was a little excited! :)

Cali is the most BEAUTIFUL thing... truly, inside and out.

I am thrilled that she and Will are getting married... I cannot wait!

Will and Darrell are already "practicing" for the BIG DAY. They even dress alike.

Cali's sweet friend, Amy, came ALL the way from Australia to help celebrate!
Love. Her. "Heaps."

This past week, I shot Cali's bridal portraits... and, I'm SO EXCITED to post them!!! They turned out so well... and, why wouldn't they? She's gorgeous!!!

Since I can't let you see the portraits before the wedding, here's a sneak peak of a few engagement photos. Go HERE and show them some "comment love."

Hmmm... what else???

Oh yes, in my spare time Darrell and I have been working on Athentikos and planning mas ("more" in Espanol) vision trips to Guatemala!!!

Woo Hoo!!!

Kickin' It,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Favorite Moments, Week 5

Yes, so this blog is about 2 weeks late... sorry.

Our last week in Guatemala, we definitely packed it all in!
We stayed SO busy... probably in order to keep ourselves from feeling the sadness of leaving.

It didn't work.

Here are some of my most memorable moments from Week 5.
  • Hermano Pedro... over and over.
  • Getting to hold Gloria, one more time.
  • Hearing Henry and Elmer yell out, "Emma!" in their excitement to see her.
  • New friendships with the HP nurses, Estella and Mary Louisa.
  • Cafe Barista's latte
  • Los Gozosos... saying "hasta luego" with a SpongeBob Pinata Party.
  • Sacred time with the Ortiz family.
  • The afternoon with our friend Cesar.
  • Visiting Hogar de Ninos (Children's Home) and meeting Sean and Glendi.
  • Meeting with Pastor Mike and catching a vision.
  • Dreaming with Melissa and Scott over Pollo Campero. I. love. them!
  • 2 (yes, 2!) birthday cakes for Mac... long story.
  • 1 adorable little birthday boy.
  • Victor's last visit to our casa.
  • Walking the cobblestone streets and saying "goodbye" to Antigua.
  • 1980's minivan with 8 people crammed in + ALL of our luggage + no air conditioning for a 2 hour road trip.
  • Meeting the Reyher family in the Guatemala City hotel and talking adoption.

Ahhhh... I love this country. Love the kids. Love the people. Love the cities. Love the culture.

As much as I love the country of Guatemala, I love MORE of what its done to me and my own heart.

It's changed me. Forever.

The poverty, injustice, and hopelessness has given me a path to engage my own brokeness and need.

I desperately need a Rescuer.
The Rescuer.

So do the people of Guatemala.


***If you are interested in traveling to Guatemala, Darrell and I will be leading some "Come and See" trips this Fall and next Spring, Summer 2010. These would be great for families, groups or individuals.
Shoot me an email or comment if you want more info.

Unexpected Bliss

I am sitting here in my pj's, watching The Holiday with my sweet husband...
my newly tanned feet propped up on the coffee table...

Today I began reflecting, relaxing, playing, and breathing deeply.

We showed up yesterday... an unexpected, unplanned, quick trip to the beach.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Baker

I can't get this man and his family off my mind.
Incredible story that is still in the works... I can't wait to share more later.

Also, I know I need to update the blog with our Week 5 moments, July 4th pics and so on.

I'm just behind a little... and, I'm okay with that! :)

I'm still on "Guatemala Time" friends.
It changes this "Type A Momma".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


We arrived yesterday afternoon and we're officially in what I call the "re-entry" phase. Every time I return, I spend some time in a fog...

Grieving the friendships, culture and country I left behind.
As well as, beginning the difficult process of adjusting to the wealth and routine of home.


Thank you to our sweet friends, the Lutes family, for the welcome home signs and balloons that awaited us.

Please pray for patience, humility, and lots of rest as we return... we are returning home changed and different than how we left. And, my heart is longing for my eternal home... more than ever.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Not ready...

We are currently in a Guatemala City hotel because our flight leaves for the states at 6:00am tomorrow morning.

The kids are snoozing and Darrell and I are procrastinating, watching terrible tv shows that are about 5 seasons old.

I desperately need to be asleep right now since we have such a long day tomorrow. However, I know once I fall asleep tonight then this part of the journey is officially over. And, I'm not ready for it to end.

Not ready to leave this country, one that is now very much a part of me.

My heart is sad tonight...
and, I'm delaying the inevitable...

A 4:00am wake up call is coming way too soon.


Happy Birthday Mac!!!

I love my sweet boy...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One Heck Of A Party!

Yesterday we took a shuttle up to Chimaltenango to say "Hasta Luego!" to our beautiful friends at Los Gozosos. We got to spend a couple of hours there and to our surprise, we were invited to a birthday party (and boy do they know how to throw a party!) for two of the children:


We had so much fun!

Tomorrow we will celebrate yet again because Mac will be turning 4! I can't believe how fast he is growing.

I am so proud of my brave boy!