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.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Here is my colorful ceiling. It's very strange and was not planned, but I have learned to love it and I am so sad to see it go.
Luckily my cabinets have survived. I think they are original to the house, and I would be sad if they had to be ripped out.
I have been feeling very depleted and depressed. I am working on my attitude during this process. At the beginning I was feeling very optimistic, but the last few days my attitude has been negative. I am sad that when I go home, my home will not be the way I left it. Everything will be completely different. I know that I will end up loving it, but this is a decision that has been taken out of my hands. I am nervous because the insurance company will not pay for everything so we have to figure out how to pay for new windows throughout the whole house and possibly redoing the electrical. I am working hard to be very tight with our budget, which is always a struggle for me.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
It started with breakfast with friends. I love this new weekly tradition. Today there were 4 of us and the laughter and socializing with friends was so amazingly therapeutic. I've referenced before my bleak existence in Germany, and days like this stand in such stark contrast. The smile these ladies put on my face lasts all day long.
I got to cuddle with Ian for awhile before he and I walked to school. It's about a 15 minute walk. The clouds are low and heavily grey today. It started misting right as I left the school but didn't actually toss down any significant drops of rain till I'd stepped foot in the door. The exercise was invigorating, the company on the way to school delightful, and the aloneness of the walk back was comforting.
Before I even got downstairs today I checked my email and had a Facebook friend request from a long-lost friend, someone I'd been out of touch with for 5 years. It was great to hear from her, and I hope to stay in touch now. There are definite redeeming qualities about technology, despite how much I wish it was 1800.
I found comfort after yesterday's election disappointment by reading through conservative blogs and listening to my usual podcasts. My mood lifted and nothing seemed as bleak as when I'd first received the election results. I went to see a friend who let me air out my frustrations as well; she's English and doesn't have many pre-conceived ideas about the candidates or the outcomes. It helped me to get it out. Nothing cures me like a good bout of verbal diarrhea.
And here are the photos I promised you all nearly a month ago:
For my birthday I went to see Tim in Maryland. We spent the day in Washington, DC and ended with dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe. I rarely drink and when I do it's generally a glass of wine with dinner. This time I chose a sweet martini that came in a glass I got to keep. Tim says all the pictures he took of me with the drink made me look drunk. This is the best one, and don't worry- I hadn't even taken a sip yet:
When I ordered the drink the waiter asked to see my ID!!!!!! There wasn't a better gift I could have asked for on my 33rd birthday! I thought he was joking and just laughed. But he was serious. When I told him it was my birthday, he waited till after dinner and rewarded me with a free sunday and a trip to the stage where he announced to the whole restaurant that it was my "21st birthday"! He led the whole place in yelling a couple of "Happy Birthday's" at me. It was easily one of my most memorable birthday experiences.
Here are the pics, which are pretty much terrible because Tim was too far away when he took them.
(And now that I've posted my embarrassing birthday pictures, someone might want to nag Heather about posting hers! LOL!)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
I hate that I am away from my sister and the baby. I haven't been talking to Bethany much because she says she cries when she talks to me. She's very homesick and I can't get to her right now. It tears my heart out that I'm not with them. The plan always was that I would be there. I did learn that the fluid is definitely going down on her brain. I'm not sure if I shared this or not, but she can hear. They have put a feeding tube into her so that she doesn't have to struggle to eat. The doctors are very happy with her progress so far.
As far as the house goes, I am exhausted and overwhelmed. We are sick of living in a hotel, and starting to get on each other's nerves. I think on Friday we will move into a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house and we are so excited about that. Yesterday we were able to finish moving out of the house so now it's just a matter of letting the various crews do their jobs.
I guess that's about all I have as far as updates. Prayers for McKenzie and are family are much appreciated! Thanks guys!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I have so much to tell you but will give you a very quick rundown.
First of all, yes, McKenzie is here! She is in Portland and is doing very well. She had her shunt surgery and already the swelling is going down. We do know that she can hear and that is a blessing. She is moving around and follows the sound of your voice when you talk to her. Unfortunately, due to all my house issues I am unable to be with her. My sister is doing well. She is with McKenzie.
Our house issues are moving along. We will probably be out of our home for 3 months. It's starting to take it's toll on everyone and we are all exhausted. We probably have about an hour worth of work to do tomorrow and then the house will be out of our hands. We actually had to throw away about 90% of our belongings.
Anyway, that's the short of where we are right now. I have to head to bed, but will make sure that I update more later. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers.