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Date Night Co-op

11 Sep

Have I told you all about our Date Night Co-op? I can’t remember if I’ve ever blogged about it. Here goes anyways…

Ryan and I are firm believers that dating your spouse is a must. It’s not an option really, but a requirement. We feel that setting aside time specifically to be alone is so important and just plain good for a marriage. So, we try to plan dates often. Get away from everyone, including kids, and just go somewhere and talk, laugh & have fun together as a couple. Just one on one, quality time. Thankfully we live close enough to my Mom and she is our all-time favorite babysitter. And bonus…Grandma’s don’t charge! On occasion, we’ve had to hire a sitter, but not very often.

About six months ago, we started a date night co-op with some friends from our community group (idea stolen from Jamie). Here’s how it works. We got three other families that live pretty close to us to go in on it. We picked a night that worked well for everyone and set up a rotation schedule. Our date nights are the second Friday of every month and each couple takes a turn in hosting it. For example, last night, Ryan & I babysat all of the kids at our house. Next month, another couple will host and so on. So, you end up babysitting once every four months and the other three months, you get a free date night! Its also great for the kids, because they love getting together with their little friends to play at each other’s houses. Its neat to babysit for your friends, because you know you are contributing in some small way to keeping their marriage healthy! It’s really a blessing & works out well for everyone involved. Ryan & I LOVE it!

So I would encourage you to 1. always, always, always date your spouse and 2. start a date night co-op with some close friends! It’s so easy and well worth it.

Beautiful One, I Love You.

5 Jul

Last night, we were at some friends’ house for the 4th and this conversation came up…”What do you guys do as parents to introduce your kids to the gospel?” Great question! It really made me think – what do we do?

Ryan & I shared that we try to read stories out of their Children’s Bible at night before bed. We pray with them often and bring Jesus into our conversations whenever possible…especially in those very trying & patience-building teaching moments. Also, we sometimes listen to worship music in the car when we are out and about. Either that or Micky Mouse Clubhouse or Owl City – their other faves. Lately, the girls’ have loved listening to Beautiful One by Jeremy Camp and Glory to God Forever by Fee – both awesome songs. It fills my heart with joy to hear their sweet little voices singing…especially when its a song to the Lord. Even when they don’t get the words right and are off key – its beautiful.

After some conversation, we determined that really…the hugest and most impactful way you can introduce them to the gospel is with your own life. Its not all about what you tell your kids, its about what you ARE in front of them. Challenging for sure. Something I need to work on daily & remind myself often…and honestly fail at frequently. Teaching my kids to live a life of worship and devotion to their creator can be done most successfully when I live a life of worship and devotion to my creator.

God has entrusted me & Ryan with these two little cuties and we certainly want to do whatever we can as their parents to assist them along their spiritual journey. We can’t wait to see how God uses each of their lives in great ways!

Thankful Board

2 Jul

This morning, I went out for a run. With tear filled eyes and a heavy heart, I logged 6 miles in the rain. Physically, it was a great run. Emotionally, it was hard. A lot went through my mind this morning. Today marks one month since my Dad passed. Crazy that its been that long already when it still feels so very fresh to me. The past few weeks have been the hardest of my life and those in my family’s lives. But through this tragedy, I have also seen some very neat things taking place. Blessings.

My friend (and co-worker) Sarah had the idea to make the huge chalkboard wall in our office our “Thankful Board.” Every day we try to write five things we are thankful for on the board to keep our minds focused on positive things and give God glory that is due for everything He has blessed us with daily. From small things to big things. Its been helpful to see some rays of sunshine during a dark time. So as I ran this morning, I tried to focus on things that I have to be thankful for & here are five, out of probably twenty, that I came up with.

So pretend the following is on a chalkboard that has “Thankful Board” written in huge pink letters at the top…

1. The friends and family that have completely wrapped their arms around us and loved & prayed us through this painful time, provided food for us for weeks, have allowed us to cry on their shoulders, and sometimes just came and sat with us – your presence means the world. We are thankful for each of you & the sense of genuine community we have here.

2. The way my Dad’s life is motivating us to make the most of our own lives. Ryan posted an awesome blog about this very thing, you can read it here. Dad used to tell us to always leave a place better than the way you found it. That’s inspirational to me on so many levels! It is overwhelmingly obvious to us that Dad definitely left this world a better place than the way he found it. Now its our turn. I am thankful for my Dad’s LIFE.

3. My Mom, brothers and sister. We are in constant contact throughout each day – phone calls, texts, emails, dinners, etc. Its much needed and somehow produces strength. My grandmother, mostly known as Memaw, told me just the other day that there is strength in numbers & gosh, that is so very true!

4. Ryan, Addi & Kam. There are no words. I LOVE my family with all that I am.

5. The song “Blessed Be Your Name” & the memory that goes with it. For those of you that were with us on the Mexico Mission Trip when my Dad’s truck got stolen – you know the depth & meaning behind this. And now during this time…even though the road is marked with suffering & there is definitely so much pain in the offering, we still continue to say – blessed be your name.

Weekend Overload.

31 May

This has been one jam-packed, fun-filled weekend for sure! Prepare yourself for tons of pics & weekend details that may cause exhaustion.

Starting on Friday with the 30th birthday of yours truly. What an amazing day it was! My family, friends & coworkers made this birthday the best one yet. From a mocha brought to my desk first thing that morning, to cupcakes & Bruno’s pizza for lunch, to flowers delivered from my sweet cousin, to an edible arrangement from my brother-in-law, to a romantic date night with Ryan, and then a last minute party at KE Cellars with friends to top off the evening- wow, it was fabulous day! I appreciate all the FB posts, phone calls, texts and cards – I feel so blessed to have you all in my life. 30 isn’t so bad! Here are some pics from the day…

Saturday, I took the girls to the cutest little tea party ever! One of their little friend’s was turning 5 and had a tea party birthday party – so stinkin adorable! The girls loved it…Addi was in heaven with all of the dress up stuff and Kam was happy because they served ice cream at ten in the morning.

Saturday evening, we had dinner at our friends, the Lee’s house and enjoyed some tasty burgers and an intense game of Balderdash – so much fun. Our girls have a blast playing with their two girls…its cute to listen to them all giggle & squeal!

Then, Sunday after church, we headed to Quitman. It was the 2nd annual Skinner Cousin get-together on the lake. Tubing, sunbathing, swimming with all my cousins…great times were had. Then, that evening my mom cooked some yummy comfort foods for my bday dinner…meatloaf, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, rolls, chocolate cake – was soooo good, especially after spending the afternoon on the lake! My Aunt Debbie from New Hampshire was also in town…its always so good to see her & her smiling face.

And that brings us to Monday. A day of rest & relaxation! We had plans for the day, but overslept & honestly didn’t even care. After all of the events of the weekend, we were all exhausted! We left the house once to go run on the trails, then cooked out and had popsicles. Ryan smoked ribs to go with our baked beans and grilled corn… love days like this!

Happy Memorial Day friends & family!

Glory

16 May

Today, I was very touched at church. I sat up in the sound booth with Ryan, as I sometimes do. As the worship band started to play, I began to gaze around the room at all the people.  I love to watch people. How they interact, their expressions, etc. Maybe I’m a weirdo?

As we sang together, “glory to God, glory to God, glory to God forever”, I couldn’t help but tear up. Such a joy to join with your brothers & sisters in Christ to worship. From the guy on the front row with down syndrome and his hands lifted high to the middle-aged, bald woman battling with cancer on the back row wearing a bandana on her head and looking so beautiful & peaceful as she smiled & sang to the Lord. I thought to myself, if I were in their shoes, could I still sing with all that I am, “glory to God forever?” Touching.

It was inspiring for me to people-watch this morning.  To see all shapes and sizes, old & young, married couples & singles – all different kinds of people with different things going on their lives coming together to worship our great God. To lay our struggles at His feet and to fully focus on Him in that moment. Touching. Then Pastor Doug brought it about God’s glory out of the book of John and how our goal in life should be to bring Him glory, not ourselves – following the example of Jesus. Good day @ Grace Community today. Good day!

Race for the Cure & Mommy’s Day

9 May

Yesterday, the girls, my Dad, and I participated in the Race for the Cure 5K here in Tyler. Addi was so excited to “cross the finish line with Poppy” – that is all she talked about for the days prior to the race. And Kam is just always happy to do anything. We got up early & walked across the street to the starting line. Chilly morning, very surprising for May! It was a packed out race with over 6,000 participants! Dad & I enjoyed it…it was a beautiful day.

This morning before breakfast, I was handed a precious card that led me here for a special Mother’s Day message. Gosh, I am so blessed! I LOVED this. I am truly thankful for two beautiful daughters who make me a Mommy. And for my sweet husband who took the time to make this video for me. It definitely made me feel special! 🙂

After church, we went to Quitman to celebrate with my Mom. Ryan grilled steaks for everyone, Mom made all the sides, and I made a German chocolate cake..delish! I am grateful to have such a wonderful, loving mother. She is such a great example to me as a mom. At nearly 30 years old…when I need advice, I call my Mom. When I am sick, I call my Mom. When my girls are sick, I call my Mom. Her caring heart and Godly wisdom is something I admire. I love you Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my sweet friends who are Mommy’s…I love you all!

Gratitude.

15 Apr

“Gratitude. More aware of what you have than what you don’t. Recognizing the treasure in the simple – a child’s hug, fertile soil, a golden sunset. Relishing in the comfort of the common – a warm bed, a hot meal, a clean shirt.” –Max Lucado

My coworker has a desk calendar with quotes like this printed on each day and she reads them to me almost every morning as we warm up & ease in to our day at the office, which I love. This one is the one from yesterday. Some days the quote will go in one ear and out the other…depending on how sleepy I still am, if I’ve had enough coffee, what’s bustling around the office, etc. But not this one. It touched me and has stuck with me since she read it. “More aware of what you have than what you don’t.” Wow. This is a challenge isn’t it? How often do we sit and think about everything that God has blessed us with as opposed to sit and thinking about everything we think we need, want, can’t change, or lack?

This thought, along with others revolved around servant-hood & helping those in need, is something Ryan & I have talked a lot about lately & are working on together. In fact, its been a recurring theme in our lives over the past several months. At church, at community group, in books we are reading, etc. Ryan even posted a string of posts on his blog about it too.

Being thankful & content in the simple. To be honest, this used to not be the case for us. When we were first married, all we wanted to do was to buy and own the latest & greatest, even though we didn’t have money for it. Keeping up with the Jones’, as they say. And because of that, we are STILL paying off credit cards from years back. And I’m certain paying ten times more for whatever it was we bought thanks to high card interest rates! Dave Ramsey would shudder at some of the stuff we charged.

But over the past few years (probably since we had our first child), God has been working on us – molding us in this area. Showing us that its not about what all you own in THIS life and its not about “living your best life now” in the world’s view. In fact – this life is not about ME at all! Its about God & the work he is doing through me. Its about loving Him & loving others. Putting others ahead of myself. Gosh, I still have a lot of work to do in this area – but I’m trying! And I’m thankful for a husband that is striving to do this as well. As Frances Chan so amazingly explains in the book Crazy Love- as Christians, our best life will come later. For that reason, we press toward the goal!

So I challenge you to “recognize the treasure in the simple” – bask in those moments & praise God for them. Each day is a gift and if we take time to count each blessing, we won’t have quite as much time to dwell in the negative. The next time your child hugs you – soak it up. When you kiss your spouse – relish it. When you lay down at night and cover up, snuggle in and say thank you. When you go out for your morning run, take in the fresh air and smile. And continuously seek out ways to help someone in need – believe me, you won’t have to look far.

Much love & gratitude for all my family & friends!

Traci

Spring has sprung!

14 Mar

I am absolutely loving this beautiful weather! Today was perfect. 70 degrees & sunny. We spent a lot of time outdoors. Took a walk, played outside with bubbles, kicked a ball around the yard, chatted with neighbors, grilled chicken kabobs for dinner. I love this time of year. The changing from one season to the next is exciting…each season has its perks & I always look forward to each. Spring is the time of year that stuff starts to come back to life, flowers bloom, people get out of their houses more, running is easier & a lot more enjoyable, its acceptable to wear flip flops, grilling is a must, and there is just a freshness in the air. Spring is just good for the soul.

Updates with Pics

11 Mar

We have been without internet at the house for about a week now. Its amazing how you feel so out of the loop and in the dark when you aren’t online!  But we are hooked back up & back in action now. I’ve been meaning to post some pics for a while, so some of these go back several weeks…but hey, better late than never right? Soooo….here are some recent (and slightly random) happenings around the Dixon household…

> Grandma & Grandaddy Dixon sent a box full of goodies for Valentine’s Day….we love boxes that arrive on our doorstep from Virginia! The girls loved their cute cards, pink purses, new bears, toenail polish & girly lotion/bath sets…and Mommy & Daddy enjoyed the chocolates.

> Ryan recently did all of the audio for the musical, Singing in the Rain, up at the college where he works. He hooked us up with some free tickets and I took the girls, along with my friend Cristy & her beautiful twins. It was a lot of fun & all of the girls enjoyed it! Addi was a little disappointed because she thought she was going to be the one dancing & singing on the stage…not just watching from the crowd!

> My cousin Christi has two little boys with birthdays close together. Brody & Mitch had a combined birthday party at McD’s and the girls had a great time playing with their cousins! Plus, they loved the cake & icecream & the kazoos.

> Grandma Clark bought Kam & Addi some new sleeping gowns last weekend and they LOVE to wear their “dresses” to bed. I mean really, I know I’m biased – but does it get any cuter? And notice how they are just about the same height these days.

> With the warmer temperatures & Spring in the air, we have been spending a lot more time outside & loving it! Walking around our neighborhood, taking a jog with the new stroller at the trails, or just hanging out & playing in the yard is a fave around here this time of year. Ryan & I have made a goal for ourselves to become more “neighborly” and really reach out & befriend those living in our area. We moved into this house last Fall and the cold weather hasn’t really allowed for much outdoor time until now…so we’re hoping to intentionally get out & get to know those living around us this Spring. We have a cookout in the works w/our next door neighbors…they have little ones too (and an awesome meat smoker that Ryan secretly hopes to borrow on occasion).

> My little brother Jeff recently moved to Tyler. It is still crazy to me that he is in college now…much less living in his own house! Makes me feel so old. Little Jeffrey is growing up! Here is a pic that my mom took at one of our normal Sunday lunches at their house…us with Jeff & his sweet girlfriend Amy.

> Is anyone else having a hard time believing that its already March? Much less mid-March! 2010 is seriously flying by. On New Year’s Eve, I posted this blog with my 2010 Resolutions. For those of you holding me accountable, here is an update for you…

  • I’m on track with my “Everyday Bible” reading plan. I’ve missed a day here & there, but caught up the next day. I have to be honest…I LOVE IT. Reading every day has become like an addiction for me. I can’t wait to get up & read. It has been SO good for me in my walk with Christ. Even reading through Leviticus. 🙂
  • As for running…we are training now for the upcoming Azalea 10k that is at the end of this month here in Tyler. Also, Ryan, Dad, and I are all registered for the Capitol 10k in Austin in April. Two 10k’s back to back should be a lot of fun! Once I get those under my belt, I’ll start upping my mileage and start preparing for the next half.

I guess that’s about it for now…I apologize for the randomness of this post. Have a great weekend friends!

Get real.

24 Feb

Over the past few years of my life, I have set a goal for myself. BE REAL. Be open & honest. Be transparent. Be…well, be myself.  Hi, I’m Traci. Nice to meet you. If you want to know something, I’ll tell you. If I’m excited, hurt, upset, happy or angry about something, believe me you’ll know. This may or may not be a good thing all the time! My life is an open book. I don’t hide things well and now I think, its OK because I don’t want to hide things anymore. Ask Ryan. Ask my family. Ask any of my friends. Ask my coworkers. I have come to determine that life is way too short to be something  you aren’t. To put on a facade just to impress people – well, I’m just over that. Its very tiring! And its a lot more stressful trying to “play it cool” than to just be honest. Being who God made you, now that IS cool. Being the same person at work that you are at home & that you are at church – that is incredibly freeing. Living from the inside out. I strive to please God with my life & yearn to be more like Jesus daily. But I fail and I screw up all the time. I am not perfect. Because of God’s grace, as long as I am running towards him – I am on the right track. He is at work in my life, molding me into who He wants me to be and I love that! At a college bible study I used to go called Paradigm, Jon Randles used to say all of the time, “What’s in a man, comes out of a man.”  What’s on the inside, shows on the outside. You can’t hide what’s going on in your mind & heart from God – He knows. And I’ve come to find that if you are transparent with your life to others- God can use that in awesome ways – this can be such a great testimony to those around you. Being real helps to hold you accountable in your walk with Christ. As I’ve mentioned on here before, I’m so thankful for our community group. We have made some dear friends through this & for that I am truly thankful. True community is a beautiful thing. Ryan & I have been starving for this for quite some time and have just found it recently. Friends that can come together, share and be real with each other – its amazing to have this. So I want to encourage you two things here in this post. 1. Try to live from the inside out. Let others see the real you. If the real you needs work, thats OK – we all do! Set your eyes on your Maker and He will help direct your steps & give you the strength you need to get through. There is such freedom in Christ! 2. If you don’t have a community of friends that you can share life with – find one immediately! Pray for this. Having people come along side you, pray for you, encourage you, and hold you accountable, its vital. Not to mention a lot of fun!

Just a little something from my heart to yours…love you all!

Traci