The highlight of my day has been spending time holding McKenzie!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The highlight of my day has been spending time holding McKenzie!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Here we go!
1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, am I making you cold?
2. The first Noel, the angel did say, was somewhere far, far away.
3. SNOW!, Over the hills and everywhere.
4. It came upon the midnight clear, another few inches of snow.
5. Heather, Let your heart be light!
6. And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing while still in your bathrobe.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finally seeing Heather and her family (I hope!), tomorrow my plans include dinner with Grandpa-in-law and Sunday, I want to have a car/truck/van to drive myself around in!
For more Friday Fill-Ins, click here.
And on a side note, apparently I found Narnia and it isn't at the back of a wardrobe. It's at the other end of a nine-hour plane ride from East England to the Northwestern America! As I write this, the snow is still coming down heavy and thick. If it wasn't keeping me stranded three miles out of town, it would easily be one of the loveliest sights imaginable.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The bad news: Reese, Zach and Ian are very sick and we haven't been able to see each other yet.
The other good news: We ran into Kristine and Sean in the store tonight! That was awesome! They were wandering around with Grandma & Grandpa.
Here's a little funny story. Holly was in the store tonight too. Amanda ran into Holly and Holly let Amanda know that she had seen Kristine and Sean. Amanda got so excited and asked where they were. Holly let her know to go look in the produce section. Soon Amanda ran back to Holly and says "I went to produce and can't find them anywhere, where should I look?" Holly said "Well, they were at the vegetables when I saw them a few minutes ago." Amanda's response "oh, shoot, I thought that produce was milk...I'll go look at the vegetables". And, off she ran. Thankfully, she did eventually find them.
LOL! I guess that goes to show that I haven't talked with my kids much about vegetables! Oops!
Thanks for checking in on us. I'm sorry neither of us have posted much. It's amazing how when life comes at you fast and hard that time seems to be a precious thing and not everything you love to do can be fit in. I'm really sorry, and we promise that when life calms down we will be back to some regular posts.
A small update on McKenzie: She graduated from a car bed to a car seat. She had to sit in the seat for an hour at the hospital to make sure she could handle it, and she can. She's also taking more bottles instead of the feeding tube! She loves to suck! Thanks for your prayers for her.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
It was about a 9 hour flight, straight from England to Washington. Now we 're waiting for Tim to get here with our rental, them we'll begin the 4 hour drive to our hometown. We're almost home! I'm so excited!
On the down side, The Boys are feverish and I'm starting to feel it too. Ugh. Who needs this while on vacation, right?! Also, the roads are crazy with a storm that has blown in, so I'm nervous about the drive. But I trust God, who didn't bring us this far to leave us.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
When we went to Maryland in October my unbending rule was "PACK LIGHT!!!", which might be easy for four people on a week-long trip to an unfamiliar location but is significantly harder for six people (especially my perfectionist, always-prepared-for-anything hubby) going on a three week trip back to friends and family for Christmas. There are five hundred things we'd like to take back with us- including the large collection of gifts from unsent boxed throughout the year.
I'm just about ready to pack all my stuff into a cardboard box and send it to my in-law's house; then all I need would be waiting for me (or more likely arrive a few days after I do) without me hauling it halfway across the world. The other option is fitting all I need into a backpack and living with three pairs of clothes while I'm there and forgoing makeup.
Another snag in the travel plans involves one of the biggest blessings of military life: we're traveling "Space Available", which means we hop on any military plane that's going in our generally desired direction whenever we're allowed. This has saved us massive amounts of money over the years, but makes for uncertain travel plans and the need to prepare for a likely less-than-comfortable journey. We usually end up on cargo planes, sometimes with huge military vehicles within arm's reach. It's nice to be able to stretch out on the floor and sleep for much of the 9-13 hour travel time (yes, even with massive trucks and the like bouncing scarily above us), but it gets very, very cold and that requires that we dress in layers and carry blankets and pillows galore with us. Some people travel with entire sleeping bag/air mattress setups, but that isn't practical for a family this size. We usual carry one full bag devoted to blankets and pillows, which, of course, means one more bag we have to haul around.
I'm looking forward to the glorious time when my oldest son graduates from college, goes into a prestigious science career and invents the transporter with the ability to "beam" a person from one place to another. I'd be all over that technology.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It makes gorgeous coffee. I wasn't even a fan of coffee until very recently, yet this is how much I love coffee brewed in the French press: after a Starbucks Milky Way coffee on base yesterday, I went home and made a cup of coffee and liked it more that the Starbucks coffee! I made half a pot but only had time for one cup before I had to leave the house, and I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking wistfully about the coffee cold and untouched back at home.
I've thought of starting an all-out campaign to convert Heather to coffee fanaticism, but I'm not sure I am willing to be responsible for the consequences of fostering an addiction. I may try, at least once while I'm home, but I doubt she'll put down her Pepsi in favor of coffee.
Anyone picky about the kind of coffee they drink? Mine has to be Starbucks Sumatra, at least at home (which could also explain why I liked my home brew better than the one from the coffee shop). Nothing satisfies quite like it.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Bless you all.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
A few days ago I was walking to the boys' school and a big gust of wind caught my umbrella, turning it inside out. Maybe this should have upset me but instead a huge grin spread across my face! It wouldn't have been half as satisfying had I turned the umbrella purposefully into the wind and orchestrated it; no, it needed to be an accident. Not that my umbrella turning the wrong way was anything I consciously thought needed to happen to me, but when it happened I knew it was one of the things that I needed to happen before I die.
Is this a quirk of mine, or can someone else out there sympathize with me?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I have to finally introduce you girls to our darling new addition. I'm sorry it's taken me so long. I didn't have the heart to show her off yet due to some comments that have been made to my family - along the lines that we shouldn't show her off because she doesn't look "normal" and some people just "don't want to see that". Well, I don't care anymore. I'm going to show her off.
Can I just tell you how madly in love I am with this sweet little wonder? She is doing so good. I look back on this post and I am in awe at how far we have come. We are so very blessed. My sister is amazing and I love watching her be a mom to this sweet girl.
McKenzie is doing awesome. She is taking most of her food from a feeding tube. Last night I was able to watch her drink from a bottle. It's amazing all the little things you take for granted. I was thrilled to see her drink from a bottle when that would be a "normal" thing for any other child. Her swelling is going down. She acts like any other newborn. She squirms, grunts, coos, smiles, holds your finger, startles and gets ticked just like the rest of them.
We still don't have any answers as far as her health goes. I'm not worried. I do know that God is in control, He's brought us this far, he can take us much further. She will have her first mouth surgery in April.
Thank you all for your prayers. Thank you for understanding my absence from the blog. I hope to be back more regularly soon. Things have been very overwhelming. We found out that poor Amanda actually had shingles. She was in terrible pain for about two weeks and had this terrible rash on her elbow. I finally took her in and it was shingles. Our family doctor said that he strongly believes shingles is due to stress. After he said that he calmly said to Amanda "Have you been under a lot of stress lately?". He did not know what kind of question that was! LOL! She's doing good now, but it was just one more thing we had to worry about.
Isn't it neat how language is always changing? Check out these brand-new words as compiled by Cramer-Krasselt, a Chicago-based ad/PR agency. It's a list I can relate to pretty well, as just today I did some info snacking, I "blacked out" when I took Zach to school because I left my cell phone at home (intentionally!), and I love all my dotcomrades.
1.Luxcession: v. - As the economy continues to hit consumers' wallets affecting their purchasing choices, many mass-class luxury items are also taking a hit.
2.Dotcomrade: n. - A friend or acquaintance that you met online but have never met in person.
3.Greenwashing: n. - The practice of bogus environmental marketing.
4. Info Snacking: v. - Wasting time at work by surfing the Web.
5. Blacking Out: v. - To turn off any device that people can reach you with (cell phone, two-way, computer, home phone, morse code, etc.) in order to avoid someone.
6. Compunicate: v. - To chat with someone when you are in the same room, each on separate computers, and you talk via Instant Messenger instead of speaking to them out loud, in person.
7. Defriend: v. - To remove somebody from your established list of contacts, considered the ultimate snub on social network.
8. Generica: n. - Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where you go such as strip malls and fast food places.
9. Mouse Potato: n. - The online generation's answer to the couch potato.10. Googleganger: n. - Another individual with the same name as you whose records and/or stories are mixed in with your own when you Google yourself.
Monday, December 1, 2008
In the midst of the worst sick-day of last week, my Tim came home! I'd spent nearly four months imagining and planning the day he would be home: the kids and I in a neat little row at the bus stop, my hair done and makeup applied, possibly even a couple of pounds lighter than when I had seen him last. We would go home to a nice meal in his honor and end the day with a whole lot of special Tim-and-Reese-locked-behind-closed-doors time. The reality wasn't so perfect: after spending the night sick, I was dehydrated, dirty, exhausted and completely undone. Our friend R agreed to pick Tim up from base. I stumbled down the stairs to collapse on the couch next to Tim. I chatted lethargically, then crawled back up to my bed.
I am so relieved that he's home. What a wonderful Thanksgiving gift, even if I wasn't enjoying it at the moment. He's already relieved my burdens, helping with the kids, running to the store for me, agreeing to pick a few things up on the way home. It' always an adjustment having him back; I've been used to doing things my way with no need to compromise, and so has he. But the benefits of being together outweigh the benefits of being apart.
I've just finished Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which was a beautifully written novel. Beautifully written novels tend to ruin me for reading for a time. In one sense, it restores my faith in superb authors- those who go beyond simply telling a story to weaving magic with words- but since I know the authors who have the ability to move me are few, I can't bring myself to pick up another book till every last glint of magic has left my senses. It's like eating a gloriously prepared meal at a 4 star restaurant, then following it up with a can of Vienna sausages from the 7 Eleven. So I'm left at having read 37 books this year rather than the 50 I was shooting for. I'm not complaining. It's more than I've read in a year before (except maybe when I was in middle school). I'll just start over on January 1st and try again.
I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving weekend. I may follow Kayren's lead and start a countdown to Christmas. I'm feeling the holiday spirit come on strong!!!
UPDATE: Either the magic wore off sooner than I had anticipated or I just don't know what to do without a book to reach for when I get a free minute throughout the day: I've picked up another book!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I am so thankful this year. I know that's what everyone says but thankfulness is something that I love practicing. I can't stand it when people are constantly negative, and I think if I didn't really think about it, I would be one of those people. So, whenever something terrible happens, I always look at what there is to be thankful for. This year, I think we are especially thankful. We didn't loose any people, animals, or things of value in the fire. We have amazing insurance and have been taken care of financially. McKenzie was born and is beautiful and doing so well. We are so thankful for her and her health.
I think that despite all the stress and the chaos of the last month, we have nothing but thankfulness for where we are.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Yesterday morning Zach climbed into bed with me and I reminded him:"Today is your last day of being four! Tomorrow you'll be five!" His lower lip began to quiver and tears welled up in his big brown eyes. "But, I like being four!" He was sure that five couldn't compare to the joys of four.
Today being a "whole hand" doesn't seem so bleak. He is feeling sick to his stomach (unfortunately, most of the family is) so we've had to scratch our plans to take cupcakes to school, but something tells me he's going to muster the energy to play like a newly-minted five-year-old.
Happy Birthday, Zach! I love you.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms
I loved this book and I knew I would. It is set in pre-, mid-, and post-WWII Japan which gives an insight into the lives of the people at that time. You experience with them the pride in their country, the lives lost to war, the fear and hunger as it became clear Japan was fighting a losing battle, the terrible attacks on the people at the height of the war, and the rebuilding after their surrender. Amidst all of this is interwoven the stories of two orphaned brothers, raised by their grandparents, as they become adults and follow their dreams.
There are references to their gods and ancestors in the afterlife, but what can you expect from those who don't know the Lord? It was true to the likely lives and experiences of that culture at that time. There is also a gay man who thinks back (in a vague way) to his lifestyle choice in the past but doesn't live that way in the story. He has a chance to marry a widowed woman whom he loves and to be father to her daughter, but passes because deep inside he feels he is gay.
Overall, this is a book I would recommend anyone read.
Mr. Darcy's Daughters
I wasn't sure I was in the mood for a nineteenth-century-set English novel when I first picked this one up, but I've vowed to work my way down the stack of books in my room and it was next in line. As I began reading I found it refreshing to immerse myself back in Elizabeth Bennett's and Mr. Darcy's world, even though they were in Constantinople and never seen in the book. The jolt came about a third through the book when the main heroine Camilla is found to be engaged to a "sodomite". Yup, another gay guy. This time in nineteenth century England. His character is taken off to Italy in shame when it becomes known in social circles, along with his hunky Italian manservant.
Aside from that, I'd give the book 2/5 stars. The writing is decent, the story a little rambling, and the oldest sister exasperating. I felt that the author tried a little too hard to model her characters after the Bennett sisters. Clearly, not everyone agreed- or cared- as Ms Aston was given free reign to write yet more sequels. If you're looking for something to equal Pride and Prejudice, don't waste your time. If you like light, no-brainer reading from Old England, this is your book.
From a Christian perspective, I find it alarming that this book has sold so many books and is still readily available as a best seller. It is about spirituality, not religion, and eagerly mixes Christianity, Islam, and New Age beliefs. As for the writing, it isn't great. The only reason this book is popular in the least is that it isn't rigid in it's interpretation of spirituality, and the lost will be drawn to a wide open road to redemption. The underlying message of the fable is to follow your dreams, which a Christian can make a Godly case for (try reading Cure For the Common Life by Max Lucado). Trust me here, don't waste your time on this book.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Which is how I came to find out that a seemingly benign lump she found in her breast has turned out to be cancer. I'm in shock over it. Jolene is my age, a young mom. I can't imagine what thoughts must be racing through her mind.
She wrote to me that her boys are on her mind, and her attitude is spectacular- she states with fervor that she will win, not the cancer.
Please keep Jolene in your prayers. Visit her blog here.
Also, ladies, please do breast exams. Honestly, I never do, but I'm going to start. I think I'm even going to request a mammogram. I got an email recently from another friend I met in Germany who has two sisters with breast cancer and she was strongly urging her friends to "FEEL YOUR BOOBIES GIRLS, this is serious." Heather and I laughed about that sentence- while acknowledging the serious nature of the urging. But even that didn't get me thinking like Jolene's news.
Friday, November 21, 2008
2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is, this year, Tim gets home! Finally!
3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is always saved until the last possible minute.
4. Thoughts of snow and sleeping in fill my head.
5. I wish I could wear a bikini without causing those around me to faint in shock.
6. Bagpipes remind me of Neil and Rachel.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching Alias and then going to bed early, tomorrow my plans include doing absolutely nothing and Sunday, I want to wake up to snow!
For more Friday Fill-Ins, click here.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Some things thankfully have not changed like the fact that we are still surrounded by our amazing friends and family. My parents really do try and support us in everything we do. My mom does daycare and takes care of my kids and I don't really have to rely on other people that much. The week of the fire my sister also had her beautiful baby 6 weeks early and my mom ended up spending a week away from home to be with her. What I learned during that week, and have learned during the weeks after, is that I can count on my friends as much as I can count on my mom. Don't get me wrong, I knew that before, but I know that even more now. It was awesome to see as our house was on the fire the people that came to surround us. We have never felt alone during this process.
People have brought us food, clothed us, housed us, watched our children, prayed, helped with insurance paperwork, listened as we cried, called us to make sure we were fine. The list goes on. I can't even begin to write all that has happened. People that I don't even know have stepped forward and gave whatever was on their heart.
I can't tell you how thankful we have been. I can't tell you what a blessing it has been to read your comments of love to our family. I have learned a lot during this process. I know that if this had happened 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago, this could have had the potential to destroy my marriage. We are mature enough now to not fight about it and to just know that we have our children and each other. We didn't lose anything of real value because we have each other.
I know that God is with us. I know that he has a bigger plan in this situation. In fact, I know this had to happen. Our house predates the 1900s. Can I even begin to list the problems with our home that needed upgrading? We didn't have the money to fix them and some of them were major safety issues. In fact, since our bathroom had to be gutted we even learned that our bathroom wall wasn't attached to the house! All of our housing issues are being addressed. New wiring, new windows, new insulation, new heating, new paint, new walls, wired in smoke detectors...I'm not kidding, the list goes on. I am sad that when we move back, in some ways it will be a different house but it will be a much safer home and a home we don't have to worry about.
So, I just really wanted to thank you guys. I appreciate your love for my family, your comments and your prayers.
Monday, November 17, 2008
When I saw her last Monday she looked great, my sister looks better then I have seen her look in years. McKenzie is currently on a feeding tube, which my sister has learned to use. She does take a bottle as well, but due to the cleft pallet they don't want her using up any energy at all to eat, they want her to get as big as possible so that she can have her first mouth surgery. She had her first shunt put in the day after birth and the swelling is going down. She is responding to people around her.
Obviously we won't know the full affects of the hydrocephalus for years to come, but for now, we will just be in awe of what God has done in little McKenzie's life. The doctors are amazed at her. They said that she is so much better then they ever could have imagined.
There are no other words to say except
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Tim, in a dull and unexcited voice: "Great."
R: "What?! Aren't you happy that I finally decided on a career?"
T: "Uh-huh. And I'm sure I'll love Attorney Reese. Just like I would have loved Journalist Reese, Author Reese, Chef Reese, Business Owner Reese, English-major Reese, Paralegal Reese, Editor Reese, Administrative Assistant Reese, Office Manager Reese, Teacher Reese, Nurse Reese, Photographer Reese, Midwife Reese..."
Do you see a pattern of indecisiveness here? It's just there are so many interesting fields one could go into. How can I possibly be expected to choose?
Friday, November 14, 2008
2. When I walk past Tim's cologne I can't help sniffing it occasionally.
3. My favorite thing to cook is soup.
4. Tea is something I can't get enough of. (Who'd have guessed, right?!)
5. That's the thing I love most about England-- the awesome accents and the fact that I can communicate with the people.
6. My neighbor parking his huge SUV in the street, directly in the path of my van when I need to back up always makes me think to myself, what the heck?! Sometimes I even say it out loud.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to babysitting for a friend and maybe having another friend over just to hang out, tomorrow my plans include taking my oldest to do some volunteer work and Sunday, I want to finish my book!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Now my idea of being in ministry has changed. What used to be a title and a job description has become everyday life, reaching out to those around me with the love of Christ. Pastors and those in "official" ministry positions have important and valued places, but sometimes the tough work is best accomplished at the kitchen table- whether you're a pastor, a pastor's wife or a homemaker. As a minister in the field, I have fewer meetings to take up my true ministry time and less planning to do. I'm not concerned with budgets or memberships, sermon preparation or appropriate Sunday attire. What does concern me is the young single mother that God put on my heart at Ian's school. I've started chatting with her, giving her rides when I can and praying for her.
My time in Germany was my personal wilderness experience and now I find myself in a new world and with new ideas of what I'm here for. In the short months since I've begun to see my whole life as fully God's and my daily breath to be used for His glory, it amazes me who I've come in contact with. Lonely new immigrants, single moms, women in difficult marriages, women with emotional issues, women who have lost a mom/dad in the time I've known them. These are all opportunities to share Christ, to be the hands of Jesus in a real way.
We all tend to say we want to do whatever He asks-- but do we mean it? Do you really believe that God has engineered your circumstances to allow you to love someone in a unique way? Look again at your neighbors, your coworkers, the people you go to church with, the cashier at the grocery store; are they your ministry? Does the love of Christ shine through you in a way that blesses them? Have you delved into their lives and seen their needs, how they hurt? Isn't our God big enough for them? Doesn't He live in you? Do you believe God, that he is all they need?
The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can’t understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you. Never put yourself in front of your circumstances and say, "I’m going to be my own providence here; I will watch this closely, or protect myself from that." All your circumstances are in the hand of God, and therefore you don’t ever have to think they are unnatural or unique. Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.
Am I making the Holy Spirit’s work difficult by being vague and unsure, or by trying to do His work for Him? I must do the human side of intercession— utilizing the circumstances in which I find myself and the people who surround me. I must keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit. Then as I lift different ones to God through prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them.Your intercessions can never be mine, and my intercessions can never be yours, ". . . but the Spirit Himself makes intercession" in each of our lives (Romans 8:26). And without that intercession, the lives of others would be left in poverty and in ruin.~Oswald Chambers
After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, "God has called me for this and for that," you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, "Lord, this causes me such heartache." To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy "world within the world," and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being "frost-bitten."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It isn't like that for many parents around the world. To teach their kids about God will surely mean their persecution and/or death. I wonder sometimes if there is a moment's hesitation before they speak the first words of life to their kids. Or is the need to teach them yet more urgent, since their time on earth may be short due to the beliefs they hold? This truth we have is all the more precious and urgent when viewed through the eyes of the persecuted church.
I urge you to keep that in mind today as you interact with your kids.