The Love of Christ and "Family"

Last week, we had a very special visit.  I would love to say that the purpose of the visit was just to have fun, spend time together, hang out, and be carefree.  It was not.  The background is quite a long story and not really mine to tell.  I will say this.  We have been in Houston for almost 4 years.  Any so many ways God has revealed to us that we are exactly where he wants us to be.  You see Woody was raised as a brother to my husband.  His parents were military and Woody lived with the Riley's for period of time growing up.  Woody is more than a friend to us.  Woody is our "best man" and Justin is his.  Woody and Justin talk daily.  As I told Nikki, we are family not by blood or birth but family through God's blessings and His grace.  Woody's biological dad had a serious medical condition and he lives in Arizona. Would you know that in all the places that could help him, the surgeon who would perform this surgery was in Houston.  Do I think God knew this even as he moved us to Houston years ago.  Yes I do.  I don't think he leaves anything to chance and he puts us right where we need to be and right where others need us to be.  When Woody explained the surgery (a life or death situation) we immediately jumped at the opportunity for him and his beautiful family to stay with us through the process.  

You will see in the pictures that we had a good time.  You will see that the strength of Christ and love for each other has taught us to find JOY in all situations.  Because we stand on the promises of God.  That He is working all things according to His plan and purpose.  That He will overcome the struggles of this world.  So what did we do?  We made the best and the most of every single minute together this week.  

They arrived on Saturday and spent time with Woody's dad.  Then they came to see us!! We could not wait!  We dove right in and had a great time.  Justin had found out about this German festival that was in right in our area and we said why not?  Should be fun.  Loaded up all the kiddos and headed out.  It was a blast!  Charis and the boys LOVED riding ponies.  The boys were excited about the train.  Over the MOON about the splashpad, and to end a perfect evening together?  FIREWORKS!  

Addy Kate



On Sunday, we all went to church and heard probably the most timely message I have heard in a long time.  I must say I had tears rolling down my face at the end and as I held Nikki's hand I felt God's presence so strongly speaking to all our hearts and showing us once again that He is in control even though we may not understand what they are walking through right now.  Suburban Legends | Sermons | Faithbridge

After church Woody's dad and his wife spent the afternoon with us.  It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  The kids were all having so much fun together.  The meal was fabulous.  The conversation was meaningful and touching.  The prayers in our heart for this man and this situation were continuous.  But the best part was the JOY these kids had together and the JOY it brought all of us just watching them.  So I have so many cute pics and videos of when they all were naked playing in the water.  I put a few "protected" ones but I wish I could share the full on naked cuties!  They were precious!

Nikki made a kids table


Being squirted with water hose 
Kids at their table

Movie watching while the adults ate

Swinging with Uncle Woody
What all kinds of fun did we have last week?  SO MUCH!   Nikki and I are a lean mean kid handling team.  She and I and those 4 kids took advantage of every opportunity to have FUN!  The 4 of us worked out, and danced with the kids, and cooked great meals.

Work out partners

In my bed watching Mickey Mouse

Feeding ducks and turtles

working out with mom and Aunt Nik

playscape at church Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday service


And we went to the ZOO!  It was the first time the boys have ever been.  The first Tuesday of every month is free after 2:00 so Nikki and put a plan together, got them down to nap early, and loaded the wagon of kids to head to the ZOO.  First, it was really so HOT!  Second, we barely saw 1/4 of the ZOO. I can't believe how big it is.  You could go so many times and see something different everytime.  We will be back for sure.  The kids had a blast.  It had a playground and a petting zoo with goats for petting.  They gave out hairbrushes and the kids could brush the goats.  (Check out Beckett).  The best part for the kids?  The water fans!  

Of course, no visit is complete with out girl (momma) time and boy (daddy time).  And each a turn with all the kids.  The boys had a great golf date and from what I hear had lots of fun.  

I can certainly say that the mommas had a great time on their girls night out!  Yummy food, great drinks, best conversation, soul sharing, and lots of hugs and laughs.  The boys kept texting us pictures from their adventures with the kids.  Which was so sweet and helped us relax knowing the kids were having a blast with daddy.

Loaded in the daddy wagon

Look at Charis?  FUN!

Fried pickle break

On our last night together we visited on our most fun and favorite places to go The Sushi Choo Choo.  The kids were crazy stabbing their food with chopsticks all though the waitress needed a really big tip!  We ended sitting outside enjoying cupcakes together.  

As I write this, I have so much joy in my heart over the memories that we created.  The relationship strengthened even more.  Family in Christ.  My heart is also heavy and sad for Woody and his family as we found out yesterday that his dad passed away.  I look at these pictures of him with us just a little over a week ago and I reminded so many times again of the fragility of life.  NO ONE is promised tomorrow.  We are only promised the HOPE of eternal life.  The verse that I put on Facebook about our week came to me from Proverbs 17:17 - Friends love through all kids of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. 

This week with the Armstrongs was life changing for me.  Not in that I feel our relationship is so much closer but that they drew me closer to God.  To see their relationship with Him, how they trust Him even in these darkest times with their struggles, and the love they have for Him, the legacy they are creating for their family with their girls.  We meant to be a blessing to them during their stay for the surgery but as always, they were a blessing to us. Please pray for their family through this difficult time.  

The Riley's

The Riley FamilyComment