Wednesday, December 29

How He Loves Us

Just earlier this year I was introduced to a song by a close friend. It is a beautiful song, I learned it to sing with our praise and worship team at my old church. I appreciated the music and enjoyed the words but it wasn't until I was shown the story behind the lyrics that the song really meant something to me.

John Mark McMillan wrote a song called How He Loves Us. About 7 years ago he lost his dear friend in a car accident. He woke up the next morning and felt angry, hurt. This friend of his had been praying that God would use him to shake the youth of the nation. He didn't understand why God would take such an incredible man with the heart of Christ. He returned to youth camp that year and watched hundreds of teens being brought to the Lord through his friend's death. After witnessing how God used his friend he wrote this song.

Somewhere on Youtube there is a video of him telling this story before playing the song live. I cannot find it for anything... But this recording, at the end, you can feel his passion, his love, his hurt. I'll never hear this song the same again. Even through the darkness, He loves us. He says in the end (6:25), "I know that I still love you God, despite the agony."

Those words could not ring truer to me right now. I cannot get through the song without crying... If you have time, please listen the entire way through. It's moving and reminds me that even in this dark time for my family, God is using the pain and hurt to further his kingdom. We may not see it right now, but God has a plan.

Monday, December 27

A New Way of Living

On Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 my life was flipped completely upside down.  It was on this day that I lost my dad.

It's been almost two weeks and I am still not able to wrap my mind around his death.  I'm on the phone with him one minute and the next... he's gone.

I've been contemplating in my mind over and over if I should write about what happened.  I sat down one night last week and just typed away... I had to get all of the emotion and darkness out.  I needed to write about it, to get it on paper so it would no longer be bashing around in my head.  What came out is far too raw and personal for the web, but it was out of me and I could breathe a little easier.

I honestly don't know what to say.

Words won't form in ways that make sense.

A close friend of my dad keeps a blog.  She suffered from a hormonal imbalance and hit rock bottom a little over a year ago.  She writes to help others that may be suffering from the same painful ailments to give hope and insight into a dark world that not many people will talk about; depression and suicide.

She created a post after hearing of my dad's passing.  It was incredibly difficult for me to read, especially going back and reading what my dad had written to her in response to one of her posts earlier this year.  But her perspective is unique and it helped me to understand things a little better.  Since I cannot find the words to say, maybe you can find answers in hers.  You can find the post here

I'm not quite sure how to move on.  I know that, Lord willing, tomorrow will come and somehow I'll find the strength to get up and breathe another breath.  Some days are worse than others.  It's been an emotional roller coaster and I'm truly exhausted.  My dad's funeral was beautiful.  Christmas was spent with family.  I wont lie, it was hard.  Every minute possible for the past two weeks has been spent with my immediate family.  I've been talking to my mom this morning, telling her how much I miss her.  We wish that we could just stay together everyday, laughing and playing games in our own little world.  But that's not reality.  It's not healthy.

We have to find a new way of living.  I hurt.  I miss him.  Every second of every day I miss my dad.  We shared a bond that most fathers and daughters aren't lucky enough to have.  I didn't just lose my dad, I lost my confidant, my friend.  I do feel robbed, cheated... It's not fair.  But I know that God is good.  He is faithful, merciful and full of grace.  I am seeking my purpose and solitude in Him.  Dwelling in the knowledge that He is my savior, my redeemer, my comforter, my strength, my shelter and my Heavenly Father.  I am on this Earth for a reason.  I am determined to follow through with the path that He has paved for me.  It may get dark, seemingly impossible at times, but I will follow my God wherever he leads me.  I am thankful for my life.  Thankful to get to live one more day and smile knowing that someday I will get to be with my dad again... Not any time soon, but someday.  And because of that, I will be okay.

Saturday, December 18

For my Dad


Daddy,

I'm not quite sure how to start this.  I miss you.

You have been the absolute best dad that any girl could have ever asked for.

I always loved hearing the story about the day you and mom brought me home from the hospital.  You played isn't she lovely by Stevie Wonder on the car ride home and it's been our song ever since.  Dancing with you at my wedding to that very song is one of my favorite moments we've ever shared.  You were so nervous to bust a move in front of everybody but you did it for me anyway.

You've taught me a lot in my 24 years.  You showed me the beauty and passion behind music.  You took me to my first concert.  You sat there in the congregation at DFC when I had my first choir performance and were on the edge of your seat hoping my dress wouldn't go an inch higher as I held it in my hands and danced. You are the driving force behind my love of music and I will never hear or sing a song without smiling and thinking about you.

I was so blessed having a cool dad growing up.  You were always the one me and my friends came to talk to about our seemingly horrific teenage angst.   You were Dad to so many people and I was always proud of that.  Not many dads would take their teenage daughter and her friends out in the middle of the night to TP some boys house and then later answer the phone in your sleepy voice to scare them off.

As much as I hated it growing up you taught me the value of hard work. Every year on the first day of school you gave me the same speech, "First impressions are the most important thing, sit in the front of the class, pay attention and look your teachers in the eye." I graduated college and the advice stuck with me, I always remembered you words and my children will hear them too. 

You used used to make Tony and me do so many chores.  On those days we all called you the General behind your back.  We hated picking rocks out of the grass and scrubbing the baseboards with toothbrushes, but here I am at 24 and I absolutely love to clean.  That, I got from you Dad.

I have always been a lot like you.  I have your eyes, your smile, your heart and even your brain.  Though it's had its negative moments I am very proud to be compared to you.  I am and always will be a self proclaimed Daddy's girl. 

I will always cherish our Daddy Daughter dates.  There have been too many to count.  You have been my rock, my best friend, and have always listened to me without question.  You are the only person who has fully known, understood, and cherished every piece of me.  I could always trust you with my deepest, darkest secrets and you held them so well.

From day one you have supported me in every situation.  When I was 14 and wanted to be a model you found the money to put me in modeling school.  When I wanted to be an interior designer you bought me books on decorating.  When I wanted to be a zoologist you took me to San Diego and bought me books on primates.  In college when I wanted to be a personal trainer you purchased the materials for my testing.  Whatever avenue I wanted to pursue you walked beside me and cheered me on as my biggest fan. 

I know that we had our moments together.  There were times where I felt I hated you, like the time when I found out that you ready my diary when I was 14.  But you've always had my best interest in mind.

I could go on for hours talking about my favorite moments with you, but I know that you know and see my heart and we just don't have that much time or paper.

Daddy, I miss you with every fiber of my being.  Every bit of me yearns to be in your arms one last time.  Your hand brushing the hair out of my face and your strong, gentle heart beating by my chest.

I know that you are in a much better place right now.  A place where no headaches, no anxiety, no pain, and no depression can hurt you.  You are with Jesus just in time to celebrate His birthday with Him. 

I know that you will have a front row seat for every big life event.  You will be there in the delivery room when I have my first baby.  You will hold my hand during every difficult moment I may face.  You will cheer me on at every concert and program I sing at.  Just because you aren't physically here does not mean you are gone. 

Thank you  for always teaching me and guiding me in faith.  Thank you for sharing your love of the Lord with me.  I am confident that when this life is over, you will be standing behind the gates of Heaven with your arms wide open and a beautiful smile on your face ready to embrace and welcome me. 

You will continue to be my source of encouragement even in your absence. 

I want you to know that I love you with all that I am and that love will never fade and never falter.  you are my daddy and the best man I ever knew.

I will miss you and love you until the day we meet again in Heaven.  I know you're celebrating your birthday with Jesus today, and I am so sad that we cannot be there, too.  Just know that today we do not think about your death, but we celebrate your life. 

Happy Birthday Daddy. I love you more than words could ever express. Put a good word in for me to the choir of angels. I'll be seeing you soon.

Love,

Your little girl

Monday, November 29

End of the Year / Christmas Letter


To our loved ones,
           
      We cannot believe that it has been over a year since we said, “I do.”  This past year has been full of amazing times, unexpected obstacles and lots of wonderful memories.  Now that life has started to settle into a semi- normal routine we decided to start the tradition of a Christmas/ End of the Year letter. 

   

     We have heard so much about what to expect in the first year of marriage and I must say that no matter how many preparations you take, or how much advice you’re given you will still run into things that completely throw you off!  I am really blessed to have a husband as wonderful as Josh.  He is the cleanest, most organized man I’ve ever met.  I thought, in the beginning, that I’d be the one nagging to him about putting the toilet seat down.  I quickly learned that this was not the case when he approached me soon after our wedding and asked very sweetly, “Honey?  Do you think that you could remember to put the toilet LID down when you’re finished?”  I was shocked… Now it’s become a habit for me and no matter where I go I have to put the lid down on the toilet.  He is incredibly helpful around the house, always helping with dishes, laundry and everyday cleaning.  I honestly cannot believe how blessed I am to have gotten such a wonderful husband. 
            
     Early in the year we made the decision to change churches and started attending Travis Avenue Baptist Church here in Fort Worth.  God has been so amazing and has provided so many opportunities for us in the church.  I quickly became a member of the praise and worship team for the early service and am loving being able to sing praises to our Lord and share the gifts that He has given me.  Recently I was approached about becoming the Pre-K choir director and I said yes without hesitation.  These little 4-5 year olds are so amazing and I am beyond proud of how wonderful they are doing.  Our first concert will be December 5th and we are all looking forward to it!  Josh has been playing on the church’s softball team for a few years now and I really enjoy going to every game and cheering the team on.  They even took first place in the spring league this year!  I can’t help but yell out, “That’s my husband!” every time he hits one over the fence.  I’m definitely proud of him.



I’ve had a few health struggles this year.  A surgery in April and lots of doctor visits, but I think that finally, after much trial and error and testing we have gotten things taken care of.   God has been so wonderful and we really appreciate all of the prayers from each and every one of you.  We’re praying that my health continues to improve and that we’re done with doctor and hospital visits for a while. 

Earlier this year our whole family was blessed as my brother and sister-in-law moved to Texas from North Carolina.  They found out that they were expecting their first child and our whole family’s excitement was through the roof.  On October 25th, Matthew Ross Koch was brought into this world.  He weighed in at 6lbs 14oz and was 19 inches long.  He has beautiful blue eyes just like his daddy and he has Melanie’s nose and mouth.  I am thoroughly enjoying being an Aunt and could not love little Matty any more than I do.




Josh's sister also had a big year this year!  She was married this past summer and the wedding was beautiful.  She and Kenneth are now in the process of building a home here in Fort Worth and are really enjoying their marriage.  We love having them so close by!



Josh and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary by traveling to Destin, Florida for a week.  The weather was incredible and we even got to catch up with some friends that we hadn’t seen in over a year.  Unfortunately we were only able to swim in the ocean one day as there were jelly fish, man o war, and high tide every other day we were there.  I had my first jelly fish experience and was stung twice in one day!  We really enjoyed our time together and looking back over the past year. 






With as many wonderful things that God has given to us this year we have also had to experience some of the most difficult moments in our life together as well.  Late this summer Josh’s Papa went to Heaven to be with our Lord.  He had been ill for over a year and God was finally calling him home.  Papa was one of the strongest, most genuine, loving men I had ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Josh was especially close to him and everyone misses him deeply.  We are confident in knowing that he is up in Heaven looking over each and every one of us and were blessed to have had him in our lives.  Not a day goes by that we don’t think about him.
  

 
We are really looking forward to all of the things that God has in store for us this next year.  I can already tell you that there will be many exciting new changes in our lives (no, not babies just yet :) ) and we look forward to sharing them all with each of you.
           
           We pray that this past year has shown you many blessings and that your Holiday season is full of family, friends and lots of love and laughter.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Josh and me.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  God is good, all of the time.

With all of our love,
Josh and Nicki

Sunday, November 14

Brooke Fraser Concert

Back in August I was wasting some time reading everyone's tweets on Twitter when I stumbled across one of Brooke Fraser's posts saying her tour was coming to Dallas.  For those of you who don't know who Brooke is go to iTunes and download all of her albums ASAP.  She is one of my biggest inspirations for music.  As soon as I saw that news I yelled to Josh in the other room that I was going to pre-order tickets.

This past Friday night Josh and I drove out to Dallas to see her perform.  We ended up making a whole evening out of it and had so much fun.

To avoid traffic we left around 4:00 and drove to the Galleria to do some shopping and waste some time before the concert.  I was craving Mexican food and was SO excited when we spotted a Mi Cocina inside of the mall.  The food was incredible, I could eat their chicken tortilla soup every single day.  After dinner we made the drive to the House of Blues.





This was my first visit ever to the House of Blues and it was an awesome experience.  We got there so early that we ended up being first in line outside.  It was freezing cold and I was so tired of standing but I knew that it was worth it.  Josh stood there by my side in a crowd of young women (mostly) and kept a loving smile on his face the entire time.





FINALLY, after waiting for nearly two hours we were inside and waiting for the show to start.  Her opening act was actually pretty good.  The whole crowd was a little shocked when the singer dropped a few F bombs in one of his songs, but their stage presence was awesome.  After their set the stage crew prepped everything for Brooke as we all continued to stand waiting.





The whole room erupted with excitement when her band members walked on stage and began to play, every eye was on the door as we all anxiously awaited Brooke to join them on stage.  The atmosphere was incredible.  She came onto stage and the whole room sang with her.  We were asked not to take photos or videos prior to the show, I did my best to restrain but I couldn't help but to snap a few pictures and get a short clip of her singing one of my favorite songs.





At the end of the night Brooke came out to sign autographs and meet her fans.  While in line Josh spotted his cousin whom he hadn't seen in nearly 5 years.  After getting to meet Brooke and having her sign my ticket and one of my guitar picks, Josh and I spent a good half hour catching up with Matt.  He's a wonderful performer and some of you may have heard of his band, The Matt Wheeler Band.  A few minutes later Kari Jobe comes running past me and plopped down on a couch with one of her friends.  Matt laughed and said, ahh that's Kari... With big eyes and my mouth wide open I looked her direction and said, Kari JOBE!?  Haha, I am such a dork. Anyway, the night was amazing and I am so thankful that we were able to go.  I really am thankful for Josh, too.  Concerts aren't really his thing, but he stood by me the entire night with a smile on his face and he even ended up having a great time! 



I cannot wait to see her live again.  Hopefully sooner than later!

Saturday, November 13

Our One Year Anniversary Vacation

This past year has simply blown right on by.  It's now been over a year since Josh and I said, "I do," and in celebration of our anniversary we booked a trip to Destin, Florida.

Thursday morning we were up bright and early packing our things in the car, we dropped Charlie off with my family and Mom drove us out to the airport.  We got there around 7:45 and our flight was scheduled for take off at 8:15.  American Airlines has a policy that as long as you're checked in before the 10 minute cutoff you can board the plane.  Unfortunately we got a grumpy lady to check us in and she said there was no way we would make it to our gate in time so she changed us to a later stand by flight. 



We were crushed!  Turns out we could have made it to the plane in plenty of time, the woman who checked us in ended up getting reprimanded by her supervisor after I complained.  Long story short, Josh and I sat in the airport for another 5 hours before we could catch another flight.  We passed time by playing Angry Birds on our phones and card games on our pillows.  Finally, at 1:30 we were on our way to Florida. 

After picking up our rental car and making the one hour trip to Destin from Pensacola, it was evening time.  We checked into our amazing condo, took in the sites and sounds of the beautiful ocean view and then headed out for dinner at McGuire's Irish Pub.  Josh had the steak and I had an amazing sandwich.  With our stomachs full we headed back to our condo to get a good night's sleep. 




The next day we spent on the beach.  We fell asleep in the sun, played in the ocean, did some grocery shopping and enjoyed our time relaxing.  While playing in the ocean Josh met up with a not so friendly crab and got his poor pinky toe pinched. He tried to hide it but I could tell something had happened, he was afraid that if he told me I wouldn't get back in the water. :)



That night, dressed in blue to support our Rangers in their World Series game, we headed out to a shopping center and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  The food was incredible and I've been craving the apple crisp I had for desert ever since!  Even better, the Rangers won their first World Series game ever that night.





The next day our friends Dwayne and Kirstin drove in from Tallahassee to spend the next two days with us.  We headed out to the jetties to see if we could do some snorkeling.  Dwayne was the only one brave enough to get in the water as on our long walk to the jetties we spotted several jelly fish that had been washed up on the sands.  He was in for maybe ten minutes before he got right back out.  He had gotten stung by jelly fish on both arms and one of his legs.  OUCH! 







After that we headed to Fudpucker's for lunch.  This place was really unique, bright and colorfully painted it also had an area full of alligators, not to mention the food was wonderful.  We finally made it back to the condo and onto the beach where Dwayne showed us how to really enjoy the sand by making what they call, "sand beds."  I had a blast when I discovered that seagulls would hover over you if you had food and enjoyed some time feeding them despite Josh and Kirstin's pleas for me to restrain myself.  It was way too much fun not to do.  :)





video


While playing in the sand I ended up getting stung twice by stray jelly fish tentacles and decided it was best to stay in my sand bed.  After going out to dinner that night at Fisherman's Wharf we played games and enjoyed their company for the rest of the evening before finally calling it a night.

The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast at Another Broken Egg Cafe and then headed to the outlet mall to do some shopping.  We talked them into staying just a little longer for one more afternoon on the beach.  Unfortunately there were still Jelly fish and the tide was getting really rough, but we found ways to entertain ourselves.  Dwayne was dying to bury someone in the sand so I volunteered just so long as the sand didn't go past my thighs.  I had to explain to them that sand gets into way too many terrible places and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. :) So I was buried up to my thighs and left to fend for myself in getting back out. 






After they left to head back home, Josh and I got ready to go out to celebrate our anniversary.  We got all dressed up and headed to Ruth's Chris for a romantic dinner.  We had Ruth's Chris for the first time together in Hawaii on our vacation so it was very fitting that we went for our one year.  The food was phenomenal.  We ate every single bite of our steaks, mashed potatoes and even our desert! 


The next morning around 3:00 I received a phone call from my mom, they were headed to the hospital because Melanie was finally in labor and starting to push.  I could have cried I was so excited!  I had a hard time sleeping the rest of the night.  Matthew was born early morning on Monday, October 25th weighing in at 6lbs 14oz and 19 inches long.  I hated that we had to miss the birth but was just thankful for a healthy mommy and baby.

Monday and Tuesday were spent lying on the beach and doing a little more shopping at the outlet malls.  Unfortunately there were double red flags up which meant we couldn't get in the water.  We still really enjoyed lounging and relaxing on the beach.

Wednesday we were all packed up and ready to go.  We spent the morning on the beach, took a long walk and really tried to take in all of the beautiful scenery before we left.  We were shocked to see several Man o War washed up on the shore and had to be very careful of where we stepped. 

We spent the rest of the day driving to Pensacola, had lunch at an awesome sports bar and then headed to the airport super early to avoid missing our flight.  We ended up getting there so early that we caught an earlier flight home and Josh was able to get home in time to watch the Rangers play in the World Series with all of his friends.  While he did that I drove to my parent's house to finally meet my beautiful nephew. 

I teared up seeing him for the first time.  He is this tiny little bundle with the most beautiful blue eyes, a perfect nose and a beautiful mouth.  He looks a lot like his mommy.  Holding him for the first time was one of the best moments I've ever experienced in my entire life.  He's been such a wonderful addition to our family! 



It was a busy, fun packed vacation and we had a wonderful time celebrating together.  Next year will probably be a little more low key, but we are just thankful that we were able to have such a great anniversary vacation this year.  :)