Thursday, September 20, 2007


For anyone that lives close by to this Hand Clan . . . you know that we have a "swinging door" . . . with rarely a week going by that we haven't hosted a group of family or friends. This week was no exception. Wednesday night was Dad Hand's birthday, and there were 12 of us around our 2 dining room tables. (The second one is usually stored on the porch, just off the dining room).

Even though Brian and I have busy schedules, hosting people is almost therapuetic for us both. Granted it takes time and planning, but we both love cooking . . . and we love family and friends coming together. Being together . . . with family and the body of believers . . . really bears so much fullness: beauty of other people's perspectives and life experiences, wisdom from those who have more wisdom :), encouragement and refining of your faith, support in day-to-day life stuff (i.e. knowing how they can help you with the smallest or biggest part of life's details), bounce ideas around of new things we're learning, sharing bargains that we found, talking about our quirks and particularities, and simply laughing together . . .
a favorite appetizer
We've enjoyed lots of fun times in our first home. It will be hard to leave, but we anticipate many more times like these in our new home. Oddly enough, our new home will have even more room for hosting. That excites us! And, we can't wait to share it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Week of Family and Friends

Joy's 13th Birthday
The birthday girl
Joy and Mar

I cannot believe my little sister turned 13 last week! It seems like just yesterday that I was changing her diaper, and singing her to sleep, and giving her fun hair-dos, and reading to her, and popping her in the back seat of the car to go to the mall, . . . she is the greatest little sister. I don't think I could have ever thought how much she would become a part of me. I have so enjoyed teaching (and spoiling) her over the years. The 14 year spread has been super fun! And, Brian and I enjoy being with her so much. She has practically claimed our guest room as her room -- well, she and her best friend Megan's, since they often come together.

A tribute to Joy who I dearly love . . . someone very comfortable with herself, very excitable and enthusiastic, quite the drama queen, an avid reader (probably more well-read than her older sister), excellent student (who skipped 5th grade), has 7 years of piano under her belt, super stylish, and growing in her love for our Savior.

Some more pictures:
Us and Joy
artistic, or . . . goofy
Joy and Kim (mom)
My dad showing off Tucker's tricks

Krissy was in town! With her friend Abby!
My wonderful friend Krissy (my matron of honor) was in town this weekend from Savannah, GA. Her husband is stationed there in the Army, but . . . he's actually been in Iraq for a year. So, she's in Savannah by herself, . . . but not quite, she's become good friends with Abby, another Army wife . . . who has a super cute little boy Wyatt. I had a girls night with them (and Wyatt) on Friday: dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and a little shopping. It was so refreshing to catch up and to see how God is working in each of our lives -- walking us through new trials and joys and how we ultimately need to trust Him.

Krissy, Me, and good drinks
Krissy and Abby

And, we got to spend Saturday with them too -- at the McGuire's house. For any of you who know, McGuire parties are to the "nines" . . . more gorgeous decorations and more scrumptious food . . . than almost anywhere. You are guaranteed a great time. Another best friend of Krissy and mine was there too: Tamara and her husband Mike, and her three kiddos. It was such a great reunion!

Krissy and Me
Me, Tamara, Krissy
Brian and Wyatt . . . aww Wyatt . . . Gi'me 'nana

Meredith's Soccer Game
After church, Brian and I (along with another friend from church, Lauren) all went to watch Temple University Women's Soccer team play against Villanova University. It couldn't have been a more gorgeous fall day, . . . and we were so excited to see Meredith play. I must brag about her a bit: a freshman at Temple who scored the first goal for the season, scored a goal on her birthday, and has the second highest number of goals for the season . . . oh, did I mention she's a freshman :)!!! Mer, you're a star to us either way! And, we must say that we've missed you since school started!
Mer, in the middle

Monday, September 10, 2007

Moving Again

As some of you know, Brian and I have had a rather unique renting situation -- actually very much a blessing in odd ways. Last August we were connected with a company that owns our rental, along with a few others. The situation: our house is a 4-bedroom, with a screened-in porch, 2 car garage, 2.5 acres, and lots of storage . . . for rent that is jaw-dropping low! But, you must understand . . . another facet of the situation . . . the house would be getting torn down in the "next few years" (for new development), and we'd have a few months notice to find a new place. We knew God would provide our next house down the road, . . . so in August of 2006, we went full-force into fixing up the not-so-kept-up house. We tore up carpet, removed wallpaper, painted, put in new light fixtures, cleaned a ton, . . . and after a month of hard work, Brian moved in. I moved in after our wedding, in the beginning of January. We have enjoyed every bit of the house -- hosting lots and loving it -- except for maybe a few problems with the house . . . like the basement flooding, the toilet leaking into the kitchen ceiling, and the dishwasher that spiratically overflows. Ahh, lovely water. Really though, the positives far outweighed any negatives for us.

But, the time has come for us to get pushed out. HOWEVER, the company that owns our home (and others) notified us of another property they have recently acquired that we could move into. This new house is a fixer-uper too, however, the company will do all the renovating! What a blessing! We even get to pick out paint colors, carpets, and light fixtures! God is so good! So, this past Saturday, we were asked to come over to the new house to take a look. It's a 3-bedroom split-level, with a HUGE sunroom (15 feet x 26 feet, with 16 windows). Crazy, huh? And, it has a nice deck and huge backyard. Unfortunately, there is no garage, but really we can't complain. They did us a huge favor by letting us know about this house. (They initially said we'd have our house through the summer of '08, however, that has now changed to 90-120 days!). So, the new house will be getting done in December, and they want for us to move in January. Thankfully, the house is less than 2 miles away, so we can move gradually. Oh, and the rent is the same and this house has central air too -- yahoo! (There are some other money-savers with the new house, but I won't bore you :).

All that to say . . . God sure provides, and in ways we could never anticipate! We have been blown away! Even though I really don't like moving, . . . I don't think I'll hate it so much this time.

Here are some pics of the house . . . in bare form . . . torn up
the downstairs living room
part of kitchen; cabinets will be white
kitchenette area
the massive sunroom
our aqua & black bathroom

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's beginning to feel like Fall

I think it's the cooler mornings and cooler nights . . . and the beautiful fall sunsets . . . and Brian getting into the school routine . . . and beginning to plan fall youth events/Bible studies. Brian has enjoyed his first week at PBU (Philadelphia Biblical University). His classes have been engaging and interesting, and he's begun to realize how much reading he'll have. He's already been up until almost 2am reading one night this week. And, it's been cool discussing his different readings together. His schedule will get a little busier too as coaching football starts in a week or so.

Other things we've been up to this week:

Getting Mike and Jenna's apartment ready for them to come home, getting a few groceries for their frig, making a meal for them to have when they get home, and getting their wedding present together:

On Wednesday night, Brian picked them up from the airport. We had a chance to catch up with them a little that night. And, the following night we had some extended family over to see Mike and Jenna too. I loved hearing about their honeymoon -- I love learning about other areas of the world. They had some great stories and pictures from Greece. I'd so love to go on a Meditteranean cruise some time.

Last night we had a BBQ with one of Brian's friends, Brad who was in town from California. And, today we local wedding reception for Mike and Jenna. Friends of our from church had the get-together at their house. It was a fun time, with a few reinactments from the wedding :)

The cake
The smashing
A mess
Aww, the newlyweds

And, we had a fun time with family and friends . . .

Extended fam
Friends of ours: Jeff and Tricia, expecting their first child any day
Us, goofing off

Have a great Labor Day . . . hopefully not laboring too much :).