Some of the perks of this time of year, beyond all of the Christmas festivities, is the knowledge that you'll finally see some of the people you never get to spend time with (i.e. Riley family). Another visit that had been pre-planned for months prior was seeing Julie. She flew in from Oahu Thursday, made it to her home in Cannon Beach at 3am (snow all over the roads), had a dentist appointment back near Portland at 1pm on Friday, and arrived at our house around 5:30pm Friday night. How blessed we are that we get to be a priority for Julie to schedule her all-too-short trip to Oregon around.
Heather and Kaela are very dear to Julie as well - (as she is to them) so the seven of us set off for Red Robin (yes, second night in a row...we love that place!) to have dinner together around 6:30. Unfortunately, the wait was around 45 minutes, it's a good thing we had lots of catching up to do. Once again, the kids had to climb all over our "special guest". (Need I say just how blessed we are as a family in light of the previous post?!!!!!)
Eventually, we all got seated, filled our empty bellies with good food - and then returned to our house to finish making cookies for all of the girls. (Heather is a big fan of a Cocoa Peppermint one that she calls "Christmas in a Cookie" - I'll snag more pics from Kaela's camera and the I-phones of Heather and Julie later).
This little excerpt of the evening was taken from Kaela's blog:
"Once she was done with the cookies, we headed out to the living room to watch the ABC special Country Christmas Concert. John was passed out on the couch because he was so tired. Julie was snuggled up next to the fire. At one point while we were watching the show, we hear John go, "Where's the hamburger?" Julie and I look at each other then look over at him. And he wakes up and says, "Isn't there a hamburger?" And we were both like, "Um, what?" He tries to rewind, fast forward and nothing. Yes, he was apparently dreaming about hamburgers and talked in his sleep. We laughed about it." =)
Julie and Heather snuggled in the living room while Kaela and I chatted over the batch of Pretzel Cookies I was making specifically for her to take home. They were posing for Julie's I-phone while John snapped these from a different angle.
I TREASURE these three ladies. They are all family - and I love that I've been invited into their hearts and lives. I love that a night with these gals can be so uplifting, yet so "chill" without pretense, worry on how to entertain, or superfluous conversation - instead it goes straight to the heart (or funny bone) with our dialogue.
Julie ended up staying up bonding with Brayden - the two night owls of the family group - John, Mikayla, and I couldn't keep going, we had to hit the sack. They bonded over "The Mistletones" and eventually Julie fell asleep around 2am. (Crazy, huh?!)
The next morning, Kaela showed up at 8:30 to join us for "Dutch Babies" and more catching up. Excellent breakfast, excellent time together....
From there, we stopped off at Heather's cottage - to show Julie the farmhouse where Heather lives now and just how perfect it is for her life. I love what Heather did to decorate her fridge. She got major kudos and praise for the Christmas decor all over her tiny cottage.
Heather had to head to work, so we had just about 90 more minutes to kill before Julie needed to leave to go back to home in Cannon Beach. As is the case of being so comfortable with her (not to mention the other two gals) we spent our last time together just driving to the grocery store for me to get my favorite candy for Sunriver. There's nothing more priceless than a friendship that can just pick up instantly where it left off and is as effortless as ours is.
Our last stop was to introduce Whitley to Julie as the Whites are a special part of her life too. Stephie has been sick and fighting all sorts of junk, so they weren't able to join us at Red Robin the night before. But, graciously, Stephie welcomed us in just as Whitley had awoke from her nap to let her meet Julie (and vice versa).
Whit poured on the charm - no worries that those two wouldn't hit it off.
Julie's immediate comment as we returned to the car after a mere 10 minute (max) visit with Stephie (who wasn't even feeling her best or dolled up) - was how amazing Steph looked and how fulfilled and complete her whole demeanor was. I have sensed that, seen that, and marveled at that - this transformation - unfolding for nearly the last year, but to have Julie see that so immediately was super heart-warming - and such an affirmation Stephie has every right to be proud of and rejoice over.
Interestingly, John and I could say similar things about Julie. She's a full on "grown-up" now - living a life that glorifies the Lord in so many miraculous ways. She has touched so many people's hearts in Oahu - and while that chapter may or may not see an ending in sight, I'm so excited to see how God will use this powerful young woman to impact even more the lives of those here in the northwest (I'm hopeful she'll soon end up back here). Needless to say, our lives have been among those most deeply impacted no matter where her physical address reads.
This is a picture Julie took of us while I was driving - and she later sent this version to me....LOVE that girl....