last october, josh and i took a week off and drove to colorado to visit our friends, kristy and jj, and their lovely kids, braylon and jaxten. since then, the two of them have been blessed with another little one--a precious girl this time--taytum faith. how old are they, you ask? well, 5 months, 19 months, and 3 years. yes, three kids under three. all at once.

i've known kristy since our early days of high school. she was that total hot surfer girl that all the boys went crazy over. don't get me wrong, she's not the girl other girls often despise--she didn't MAKE the boys go crazy--they just did. it was natural! as a matter of fact, you couldn't help but love how much she DIDN'T care that her hair was knotty and full of sand and that she hadn't showered in a day or 3, because it was funny and light hearted, and so is she. but messy hair or not, this girl is drop dead gorgeous.

some 3 years after high school, this wacky, life-loving friend of mine, kristy, stumbled upon a 6'7" basketball player. now, when i say basketball player, i mean, basketball player. yes, he walked and talked like kobe. yes, he wore gym clothes and carried a basketball under his arm all the time. and yes, he loved every minute of simply being a "basketball player". rightfully so--he was good--really good. and in the midst of his international career, he invited his girlfriend, kristy, to join him for a few weeks in italy. kristy, the biggest home-body i've ever met and the first one to get homesick on our weekend getaways to vegas, nervously accepted. a few months later, she accepted an offer to join him for a few months in mexico. the homesick issue dissipated quickly--she thought the world of this stud, and nothing else mattered.

the phone rang one day while kristy was in mexico. "UHM, HI GEEG, SO...JJ AND I JUST GOT MARRIED!!!" "oh my crapness, kristy, i talked to you 3 days ago and didn't even know you guys were engaged!!!" "yeah, i just found out last night, myself. isn't it amazing?" "why, yes, of course. wow. i mean, WOWWW. that's...great. yes, that's GREAT!!!..." i called our other close friends immediately after hanging up. "guys, this is great, right? shoot. i'm not sure. that was....FAST. hmmm. okay, we're all okay with this. he's a good guy... we can support this, for sure." when jj and kristy returned, we welcomed them, excited about their new venture, but already praying hard that she'd/they'd made a smart decision.

then they got pregnant. and sure enough, 9 months later, a baby came. imagine that!!

then they got pregnant. again. and sure enough, as if it were natural, 9 months later, another baby came... i'm seeing a trend here.

with 2 kids under 2, and a 3 year old marriage, and two young adults that were still learning new things about themselves and each other on a daily basis, kristy and jj pressed on. an international basketball career ended sometime during that time, and jj, at a fork-in-the-road-moment of his life, decided to join the army.

i don't know anyone in the army. i know i drive past camp pendelton every so often hopeful i won't accidentally get run over by a rogue humvee, but that's about as close as i've come to armed forces in my life. oh yeah, i went to an airshow at edwards air force base once. i was 10. so, i hear the news, and of course, i call up my close friends. "guys, is this okay? i mean, i'm scared for them. jj's going to have to wear green and brown camo EVERYDAY. like, is he gonna be okay with that? and you know, what if he gets deployed? can jj and kristy handle this? and the kids???" i couldn't tell kristy how nervous i was. she was in the midst of mentally preparing herself for these next few years of uncertainty, and spiritually preparing herself to support her husband in his every need as they decided to take their family down this unexplored path. but jj had made this decision with a clear head. he needed to support his family, and he wanted to do so in the most honorable way he could think of.

last july, jj and kristy moved to fountain, colorado, just outside fort carson, where jj had been stationed. 5 months ago, baby taytum turned the sola family into a five-some, and 3 months ago jj, dressed in his finest camo and boots that were bigger than his smallest child, waved goodbye to his family as he left for a 13 month deployment to iraq. can you imagine? thankfully, a beautiful little invention called skype allows jj to see his kids grow up on the other side of the computer, but it's obviously not the same. 13 months. the sola's just take it one day at a time. and time will pass. and they'll be together again soon.

i now know someone in the army. i know someone brave. i know someone selfless. i know someone honorable, someone strong. and i know someone who is and continues to grow into a strong man of God. i am beyond words when i try to describe how much he and his sacrifices impress me.

i'm equally impressed by my crazy, funny, loving, sweet friend kristy, as she gives her three kids all her love and attention day after day, and as she remains the strong and loyal rock that jj yearns to come home to.

kristy spent the early part of summer here in orange county, and just this week, started the same trek josh and i did last october to return home to colorado with her three kids. they get to see jj for 2 weeks in another 3 or 4 months, as he takes his leave.

this family has been on my mind and in my prayers for weeks now, as my heart is humbled by their story, their hard times, their good times, their strengthand faith found in the Lord, and their beautiful attitudes of gratitude. may they know we love and admire them. and when i say we, i mean more than just josh and i.

jj, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. kristy, thank you for your friendship. bray, jaxy, and tater tot, thank you for the simply joys you bring to all of us. go solafamfam!!

and how's this for old school?

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