Wednesday, January 21, 2009

McKenzie

I tried to post a little video of our house, but it's too long and is taking forever to upload. I will give it a try tomorrow. When I was looking at my photos I found this little mini video of McKenzie. I didn't even know I was recording her, so it's just a small moment, but a precious one!



I really want to thank you guys for your prayers and support. She is such an amazing blessing in our lives. She is up to 8 lbs now. The doctors have told us they can't guarantee she will hear, but we have always known she is able to hear. Bethany took her to the doctor last week for hearing tests and she only has a mild hearing loss, which may be fixed when she gets her tubes. This little ones story continue to amaze me everyday.


video


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Growing Up Spiritually

Jesus doesn’t take us aside and explain things to us all the time; He explains things to us as we are able to understand them. The lives of others are examples for us, but God requires us to examine our own souls. It is slow work— so slow that it takes God all of time and eternity to make a man or woman conform to His purpose. We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We don’t even recognize the envy, laziness, or pride within us when we see it. But Jesus will reveal to us everything we have held within ourselves before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look inwardly with courage?

~Oswald Chambers

I want to look inwardly with courage. And it does take courage. Every time I look inward without prejudice and preconceived notion of what I'll find, I'm disappointed and shamed. I see the work God is doing in me, but I also see the vast stretches of my soul yet to be surrendered.

The theme that God is dwelling on in my life at the moment is loving others. He's teaching me to reach out in love, putting aside all my petty fears, sensitivities, and feelings of personal inadequacies. When I love someone with God's love, it isn't about me. It's about God. I don't need to be perfect or talented or beautiful, I just need to be available.

Now the real trouble comes when God puts the unlovely in my path. I'm finding that he often doesn't warn me ahead of time either, just plops them down in front of me and watches for signs of a reborn Reese. Oh how I flounder and fail! I faced this test on several occasions recently. Even in the midst of it I couldn't be bothered to see beyond my own needs and desires. I must decrease and he must increase in me! "Lord, don't leave me here like this! I want to be a light for you!"

But here are some of the
lovely people God saw fit to adorn my life with. We meet for breakfast once a week, several of us taking turns hosting. Last week it was at my house and I basked in the friendship and girly company my friends provide. I am blessed.

L-R: Linda, Vicky, Jackie and Amanda
Missing are Edyta and Javare'

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Baby is 15!

I'm celebrating today, and not because a man with anti-Christian values and a socialist agenda is taking the presidential oath of office today. No, I'm celebrating a true miracle and blessing, the birth of my first son 15 years ago!


Happy Birthday Sean!
I love you so much.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


It's been f-o-r-e-v-e-r since I participated in Menu Plan Monday. I hadn't planned to this week either until I saw it on Lora's blog and was reminded that it was even a weekly blog event. So much for planning, eh?!

I've thrown together an ultra-quick menu based on what popped into my mind on a moment's notice. The last time I went grocery shopping I didn't have a decent list with me so I shopped specifically for 3 meals. Those 3 meals are the foundation of the menu.

  • Monday: Beef Stew
  • Tuesday: Enchiladas and taquitos. Also birthday cake for my 15 year old son Sean!!!
  • Wednesday: leftover enchiladas, and/or sandwiches. This is always a quick meal before youth group.
  • Thursday: Lasagna with veggies
  • Friday: Sloppy Joes
  • Saturday: Chicken adobo
And there you go. My menu.

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A Day Off

I made beef stew today. It's so easy: brown the beef with onion, dump it in the slow cooker with carrots, celery, potatoes, a can of tomatoes and seasoning and forget about it until dinner time. Today this mindless dinner was necessary because I was taking the day off.

The day started with a visit to a local coffee shop with my Dear Tim. It was just us, which meant it was peaceful and rare. We sat in the glassed-in part of the shop and looked out on the field that was inhabited by wildlife such as geese and wild rabbits. We talked about anything and nothing and shared sips of tea and coffee and bites of scone and cake. It was the perfect beginning to the day.

A quick trip home to feed the troops, and I was off to base. Tim agreed to take Ian to school in the afternoon and pick both him and Zach up after school. It's a ridiculous schedule for us: Zach to school in the morning, Ian to school in the afternoon and both picked up after 3:15. That makes for 3 trips a day to the school for me, with no more than 3 hours, 50 minutes between trips. At least we live close by. Still, it's begun to wear on me. So today it was Tim's day. I took off to base and he did the ferrying between home and school.

I did a little shopping, sipped a coffee leisurely at the base coffee shop while I skimmed through a newspaper, then browsed the book store for an hour. I managed to buy a bottle of cinnamon syrup for coffee and hot chocolate at home, which I've been trying to do for about a year (they were always out!). I got some baby hair clips for my baby-fine hair and splurged on one of my favorite guilty pleasures: French onion dip with baked Lay's.

Then a trip back home where dinner was bubbling and waiting to be scooped into bowls. Does it get any easier than that?

And tonight I'm starting my new book, The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. I'm giddy with excitement. I finally finished up Extreme Measures last night, and let me tell you, it was a hard read for me. It felt shallow even though the topic was heavy. I think it was a man's book, with no offense meant to our male counterparts. It was about torture and brawny, testosterone-charged secret operatives and how they go about their business. I found it very, very boring, unlike the lives of the real CIA "spooks" who do the tough stuff every day with little acknowledgment. God bless 'em.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some Promised Photos

There has been a lot going on here the last few weeks, which also includes computer issues that didn't allow me to post pictures.

Once Reese and her family were over their sickness and the snow died down we were able to spend quite a bit of time together. Holly, Reese and I had dinner without the family, we had multiple family get togethers, we went to the tea parlor and had lunch, Reese was able to meet McKenzie and we went to the second hand store for books...the list goes on and on.

Here are a few fun photos. I'm sure Reese will eventually add a few of her own.

Here's Reese & Tim attacking Amanda during an exciting game of Apples to Apples :)

Reese and I at the tea parlor. Holly had been with us, but she had to run back to work. I think she just didn't want her picture taken

I'm sorry there are not any more photos. I uploaded these earlier in the day at work, so that's all you get for now :)

Things on the house front are moving along. We are desperate to get home. As of right now the deadline is January 31st and we've officially started the countdown. This week has shown us that the end is near. There is paint on the walls and it is beautiful. Here's a small preview.

Most of the downstairs is painted this neutral brown. I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but I really love it. Eventually I will paint some accent walls, but for now I am thrilled with this color.

This is my new office space. I wish the pic was better. The color is a deep sage. This used to be Mark's nursery and is my favorite room in the house. I'm claiming it as my own when we get back.

Here's Mark's room. His is a much lighter sage green and by the time we get home, the pink trim will be gone :)

Can you guess who's room this is? Yep, the girls!

This is my mess up in the house. The color was my kitchen color prior to the fire and I loved it! I decided I wasn't ready to part with it and had the contractor paint my bathroom with it. I do not think this was the color of my kitchen and it's terrible! Can you guess what I am doing this weekend? Yep, I'm fixing this nasty mess! I was thinking I wouldn't have to paint during this process, but I can't let this color stay.

Next week they start installing the floors so I'll have more pictures for you then.
I have saved the best for last and if you made it this far, you get a reward. Here's McKenna and McKenzie. Aren't they amazing? McKenzie is doing awesome. I am so proud of my sister and how selflessly she cares for McKenzie. The amazing thing is that she doesn't need that much extra care compared to other newborns. She truly is our miracle.



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Monday, January 12, 2009

"Honey, I Think I Should Drive..."

About a week before we left for Oregon, Tim was driving our older Nissan minivan home when the driver's side window fell into the door! It simply disappeared. He had rolled it down and was putting it up, but it seemed to have other plans and started a game of hide-and-seek. We haven't had the opportunity to fix it yet, we just covered the window, parked the van in the garage and left it there.

So, today Tim's sitting at the base Car Care Center with one of his co-workers. Her car was in the shop for repairs and he'd volunteered to take her to pick it up. He was driving our other minivan. (Yes, we have two. Tim loves minivans.) They were sitting in the parking lot when the back window exploded. Exploded! As far as they can tell, there wasn't anything that happened to cause it, and the force seemed to have come from within, as the glass shattered outward rather than into the van. It's totally bizarre.

Tim's been home one day. I've been driving the newer Dodge minivan for several days before he got home and this was his first day driving. What do you think, should I allow him into any of our vehicles once they are fixed?! I'm thinking he's jinxed.


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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Heather's Best of '08

I also was wondering how I was going to pick my best read of 08. As I type this, I still can't figure it out.



I am terrible at picking books out. I am not a literary or grammar person. I just like a good story and don't even care how well it's written as long as I am entertained. I always go for the same type of book. If left on my own I will get a Christian Romance based prior to the 1900s. The other books that I love are anything based in Ireland or Scotland. I want a book that is going to leave me very happy.



I love it when Reese hands me a book, because I would NEVER pick it unless she told me too. Some of my favorite books are because she just happened to hand them to me. This year Reese recommended The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Saving Grace by Denise Hunter, The Happy Room by Catherine Palmer and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I loved each of these books but A Thousand Splendid Suns was a very difficult emotional read.



I also did something a little bit different this year and read books about lives of real people. I Am Proud of You was a wonderful story about Mr. Rogers and his influence on one persons' life. Steve and Me was written by Terri Irwin and told about life with The Crocodile Hunter. The Last Lecture was a good read by Randy Pautsch, he died in 08 of cancer. Missing Identity is a must read! There is too much to say about that book and I can't break it down in one sentence. Those families were put through fire and now because of their faithfulness have amazing testimonies of God's goodness even in terrible circumstances.



I can tell you one thing, there was only one book out of my 29 that I didn't like and that was Happiness Sold Separately. I truly did not get the point.



I am rambling now because I can't pick which one was my favorite. I learned the most from The Shack and it truly changed by life, but I don't know that it was my favorite. I also broke my "No Oprah Books" rule and read Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Those were both extremely long, but great books (although they did have some sex and violence so if that bothers you, don't read them.)



I wish I could pick the book I finished this week - Safely Home by Randy Alcorn because that would be my favorite!

Okay, so I'm looking over my list and I have decided that Sabrina by Lori Wick is my favorite of '08.

In general I know that when I read a Lori Wick book I will be happy at the end. People in her books tend to have good lives where good things happen and everything is good. In this book she touches on the subject of prostitution and everything is not good. I loved the forgiveness and redemption in this book.

So there you have it. It wasn't my most exciting read of '08 but because none of them stand out as an ultimate favorite, I am picking an old standby author.

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The Best (and Worst) From Reese's 2008 Reading

Choosing one "best" book of 40 read proved to be an extremely difficult task. As Kayren pointed out, I do try to read a broad assortment of books which means that I may have enjoyed some books equally but for completely different reasons. For example, I found Clarence Thomas' memoir My Grandfather's Son to be enlightening, as it gave me a glimpse both into what an African-American faces when he/she chooses to stand with a conservative political agenda, as well as a front seat view of what was involved in Justice Thomas' confirmation as a Supreme Court justice. It's hard to compare that with The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones, a book I found to be interesting as it discussed ancient Chinese customs and cuisine, choosing to see the romantic interests of the main character as a side story- one I wasn't very interested in, to be honest. See what I mean? How can I compare Godless: The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter to Bag of Bones by Stephen King?!

I've done my best.

When I'm choosing a book to read(if it hasn't been recommended by a friend), I must admit that the title draws me first. If it's a cheesy title I probably won't even pick it up. (In fact, the one I'm reading now has a terribly cheesy title, in my opinion. I'm almost embarrassed to admit I'm reading a book called Extreme Measures!) Next, cover artwork. It's not essential, but if it catches my eye I'm more likely to open the cover and read the spiel in there. I usually read the back cover as well, skimming for anything that hints of offensiveness or boredom. Then if I'm still iffy on it, I'll read the first paragraph. If I'm still not sure, I won't bother.

Fourteen of the books on my list are on the subjects of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and immigrants in America or are set during WWII. I'm interested in Asia in the past, Afghanistan and the Middle East in more recent history and currently, Africa as it is currently, and all settings for WWII. I haven't read any strictly historical books on the second World War, but I do have some waiting in line.

Some books come recommended, such as Safely Home, which was recommended by Lora, if I remember correctly. I read amazing reviews of Khaled Hosseini's books, as well as of Stephen King's books. I loved the former and hated the latter. Clearly, recommendations may or may not help.

But what gets me most isn't a good story, it's excellent writing. The most awesome writers can weave magic out of the mundane and typical. They don't need brilliant stories or specific genres to propel them to noteriety, they do it with the sheer beauty of their words. They have the gift of magic.

And so here are my choices for best book of the year, from my own reading list:

Honorable mentions:

Safely Home













Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds












First Place (tie):


Bel Canto













A Thousand Splendid Suns













Worst Books of 2008:

Dishonorable mentions:

The Lovely Bones













Bag of Bones













(Note to self: don't read anything with "Bones" in the title.)


First Place:



Change of Heart













I realize the 3 books on my "worst list" are either very popular books or by popular authors. I've chosen them mostly for their offensiveness factor, as well as elements of the ridiculous. If I'd chosen them by boredom rating, The Alchemist would have made the list, as well as The Prayer Chest. Both were glorified snoozefests.

If I'd been able to choose one from this year, the only one I've read would have made it. I LOVED Cane River by Lalita Tademy. As a rule, I don't read Oprah books, but I'm glad I bent that rule in this case. A very interesting story based in fact from Louisiana, starting before the end of slavery and working up through three generations until 1936. A great novel.

Cheers!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Heather's Official 2008 Reading List

Since Reese posted her list, and I have finished my current book, I thought I should post my official 2008 list. I didn't get as many as Reese, and I didn't even have a goal. I'm just excited that I read 29 books. I completely quit reading when the fire happened or I would have read more. I'm not sure how many books I'll read for 09 but hopefully more than 29!

  1. Bygones by Kim Vogal Sawyer
  2. The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
  3. The Christmas Jar by Jason F. Wright
  4. The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
  5. My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogal Sawyer
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  7. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  8. Jessie by Lori Wick
  9. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston
  10. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  11. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
  12. Around the Next Corner by Elizabeth Wren
  13. Every Fixed Star by Jane Kirkpatrick
  14. A Name of Her Own by Jane Kirkpatrick
  15. 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  16. Saving Grace by Denise Hunter
  17. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
  18. The Happy Room by Catherine Palmer
  19. The Vineyard by Barbara Delinsky
  20. Mistaken Identity by The Van Ryns & The Ceraks
  21. The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
  22. The Shack by William Young
  23. My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  24. Second Chance by Jane Green
  25. World Without End by Ken Follett
  26. Sabrina by Lori Wick
  27. I'm Proud of You by Tim Madigan
  28. Steve and Me by Terri Irwin
  29. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

    I'm not quite sure how I will pick my favorite...that should be fun!
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Reese's Official 2008 Reading List

  1. Digging To America by Anne Tyler
  2. From The Bible: John, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Collosians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude
  3. Rebecca's Tale by Sally Beauman
  4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  6. Mr Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston
  7. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama
  8. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
  9. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  10. Things We Couldn't Say by Diet Eman
  11. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  12. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  13. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  15. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
  16. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
  17. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  18. The Prayer Chest by August Gold & Joel Fotinos
  19. Saddam's Secrets by Georges Sada
  20. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  21. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  22. Angela & Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt
  23. It's Not About Me by Max Lucado
  24. I, Richard by Elizabeth George
  25. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
  26. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  27. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (audio book)
  28. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  29. Godless: The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter
  30. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  31. Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
  32. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
  33. Red Letters: Living A Faith That Bleeds by Tom Davis
  34. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  35. Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure by Ravi Zacharias
  36. Bankruptcy by David Limbaugh
  37. Ribbon of Years by Robin Lee Hatcher
  38. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  39. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  40. My Grandfather's Son; A Memoir by Clarence Thomas (audio book)
My goal was 50, which I reached if I count each book of the Bible separately. I had planned to count the entire New Testament as one book, so it feels like cheating to count any of it at all!

On to 2009's list...


(BTW, yes, I'm back home now! More on that after I've completed the things irking me most over the past few days: needing to update the blog's reading lists, and the need to pluck my eyebrows. Somethings just need to be done pronto!)

(Oh, and also: I think I'm going to choose my "book of the year" from my reading list, and hope Heather will too. It might be a challenge to pick just one, but don't you think the choice would be a nice clue into a person's mind?!)

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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Silence Is Broken

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy One Year Anniversary to Us !!!

Have you wondered where we went? Well, we have been celebrating Kicking It In Crazyville together, in person! Yep, Reese and I have spent the last two weeks together, or together as much as possible.

I don't even know where to begin. We had an absolute blast.

We have several traditions that we have when we get together. One is have as much fun as absolutely possible, talk until there is nothing else to say, visit our local tea parlor and go second hand book shopping. We were cutting it close but on our last day we accomplished the tea parlor and the second hand book shopping.

I actually just wanted to do a very quick post asking you guys to pray for Reese. She left on Friday to head back to England and as of today, has still not made it home. As far as I know, she is stuck in Germany with four kids. She did send an email today and she is hanging in there. She has seen God move in her circumstance by providing the blessing of good friends that she met there when she lived there. The cool thing is that these friends live an hour away from the base Reese is stuck at right now, and they had no clue she was there. They literally just ran into one another and they were able to give her support and help her out. How cool is that.

I promise we will be back with a lot of updates and fun stuff. Thanks for checking in. I really miss you guys and I'm sorry we've been so quiet.

I was going to attach some pics to this post but I am using a new computer and I cannot find the card reader. I am sorry. I will attach some photos tomorrow from work.



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