Sunday, November 30, 2008

Simple Sunday - Jeff

~ thankful for Jeff, for all of the reasons I've mentioned this month...and SO MANY more!

To finish up my 30 Days Thankful series, I need to backtrack a bit, back to last Wednesday...

Day 26
- I'm thankful that Jeff shredded some Swiss cheese for me on this night, when I was up late getting ready for our Thanksgiving trip the next day. Shredding cheese has always been one of the jobs that he's been eager to do for me, and I appreciate very much this act of service that makes me feel loved. And besides, he's quite a bit faster than me when it comes to shredding cheese, so it only makes sense that I would always ask him to do this job, right? ;)

Day 27
- I'm thankful for Jeff doing so much of the driving on this day, as we traveled about 3 hours each way to visit my brother's family. It was a long day, but Jeff safely drove us home on this night as I was deep into dreamland, sharing a pillow with Josiah in the backseat. By the time we got in the car to come home, I was so tired that I felt like I just couldn't drive home. It's a good thing I didn't have to. :)
~ Jeff and Tobin on Thanksgiving Day
Day 28 - I'm thankful that Jeff loves winter. I'm discovering that I dislike winter more and more as I get older, but I'm challenged--in a good way--by Jeff's love for it. When I want to complain about being cold or having to get the boys bundled up before we go outside or getting chilly, wet fingers while watering the animals, I remember Jeff's appreciation of the fresh, crisp air of winter...and that helps me stop my grumpy words before they leave my mouth--most of the time, anyway!

Day 29
- I'm thankful for Jeff's ability to "roll with the punches" and adapt to changing situations. When he came home from work yesterday, instead of a hot meal on the table and a family waiting to gather around, he found the neighbor girls here (while their parents were hunting in a nearby woods), a mess of books and toys strewn about, even more noise than usual(!), and no supper ready. Rather than express frustration, he simply got to work, making part of our supper, and patiently waited until things got back to "normal" again. And all of that after a long day at work!

Day 30
- There is so much more that I could say! Today I was reflecting on how Jeff does so many things excellently. He has so many roles--and fulfills them effectively. As I observed him today, I saw someone who fed his youngest son and dressed him...someone who had stimulating conversation with the retired English professor who was our guest for dinner today...someone who read a chapter of Mountain Born to two of his sons before they all fell asleep together for a nap (a Sunday afternoon tradition for us--Fisher Family Naptime!--although I didn't get one today because of a rehearsal for which I had to prepare)...someone who unselfishly supports me in my music and other endeavors...someone who had the knowledge and willingness to fix our problematic toilet this afternoon...someone who has made it his pursuit to learn as much about the Bible as he can. Most of all, he's the one who brings joy to my heart with his love and tenderness. I'm so grateful for the friendship we have...for the romantic adventure we continue to live...for the gift of God that he is to me. I had high hopes for my marriage to Jeff; but truly, being married to him is even better than I imagined!

Friday, November 28, 2008

We Gave Thanks... Pennsylvania this year, celebrating the holiday in my brother's home. I was personally very thankful for my sister-in-law being the hostess since, at this stage of life, it seemed easier to take some food and pack everyone up and go somewhere, rather than have a big dinner here!

We had a wonderful time, as we always do when we get together with them. I didn't take the time to snap as many pictures as I would have liked because I was just enjoying the fellowship so much; but at the end of the day, I discovered a random assortment of images on my camera, including these pictures...
...of the place cards that my nephews and niece made for everyone.
Twelve of us gathered around this table, and five of the old-enough-to-be-unsupervised children sat at another table in the kitchen, and one baby--Tobin--rolled around on the floor or got passed from one set of arms to another.
I thought often of the fact that last Thanksgiving, Tobin was still in my womb, still virtually an unknown person to me. Sure, I knew he existed...I knew the way his kicks felt...I knew that he occasionally hiccuped...I knew he was growing and getting ready to come forth. But I didn't know him, didn't know what he looked like or what his voice sounded like or that his hair would constantly stand up and refuse efforts to be plastered down. I hadn't looked into his beautiful blue eyes, I hadn't seen his smile light up my heart, or heard his laughter break out as I tickled him. Even though pregnancy is a time of deep connection, it still doesn't compare to the depth of knowing that I have with Tobin now. Of all that I know about Tobin, the thing that stands out is how much of a gift he is. He's our Tobin Treasure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Must Be Dreaming

This afternoon an angel appeared on my doorstep and GAVE ME A CANON REBEL! I am in complete shock and have almost been rendered speechless. I knew this friend of mine was dropping by today, and I looked forward to seeing her. But I'm not exaggerating when I say that never in a million years would I have guessed that she would have given me such an extravagant gift. I am over the moon with joy about this and want to do nothing else but take picture after picture after picture, stopping only to read more in the manual, then take more pictures to learn and experiment and get used to this new camera.

I have SO MUCH more to learn, but it didn't take me long to fall head over heels in love with the Canon Rebel. Actually, I think this picture was all it took...
It was so very easy to take this picture with my new camera--yet seemed an impossible feat with my old one. To get the focus on just one ball of cookie dough, to have the blurred background, to do all of that in poor lighting--I'm just in awe.
Jeff was working on the computer downstairs this evening, but kept hearing me take pictures in the kitchen. He knew I was supposed to be working hard to get ready for Thanksgiving, so he had to tease me about not getting my work done because of being so distracted by the camera. I assured him that I was only taking pictures when I was waiting to take a batch of cookies out of the oven. I wasn't wasting time; really I wasn't! :)
In addition to taking multiple pictures of the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I baked to take to my brother's house in Pennsylvania tomorrow, I also took plenty of pictures of other random objects. Decorations on the wall...the stairs...a canister of straws...candles...a plastic cup...
...and even Tobin's toys. The boys were all in bed, or I would have made them be my models!

I still can't believe this really happened today. Tonight I am giving thanks for the completely unexpected, over-the-top generosity that was shown to me today! WOW!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The News

I'm only writing this post tonight because I said I would--NOT because I, in any way, feel inspired. Today was a good day--don't get me wrong. It was much better than yesterday, and I'm grateful for that. But I'm just so tired. All my creativity vanished like the water from the tub after the boys' bath tonight. It's just gone.

Anyway...the news. I didn't mean to have that much build-up about it or make it seem like such a huge thing. In fact, after Misty's comment today on the previous post, I've been racking (or "wracking"--a quick Google search didn't convince me of how it should be spelled) my brain, trying to think of what she thinks the good news might be. Obviously, it's not a pregnancy announcement. I didn't win the lottery because I didn't play. I didn't get a job promotion because I "don't work." :) We didn't buy a new car. None of our children is getting married. I didn't receive an all-expense-paid trip to Jerusalem. Hmmm...I just can't think what might be in her head. :)

But, here is the news: Tobin got his first tooth!!!

Surprised? Feeling let-down? Not all you imagined it to be? I'm so sorry; I'll try to be more careful with my words next time so I don't cause undue excitement. :)

In any case, I was very excited to notice a different look to his mouth yesterday when I was feeding him his oatmeal; and sure enough, when I rubbed his gum, I could clearly feel his sharp little tooth sticking up. It's his bottom right one, and I didn't even realize it was coming because he had not been abnormally fussy at all during the last several days. He continues to be an easy-going little fellow, even when it comes to teething. What a blessing!

Day 25 - We spent some time with Jeff at the barbershop today, and I was reminded of how extraordinarily well he runs his business: besides doing an excellent job with the actual haircuts, he is also caring enough to reach out to people, learning their name (not the easiest task for him), sometimes even jotting down a bit of information about them so he can remember them more personally, making them feel special as he serves them. His loyal clientele is evidence of how well he does his job, and I'm so proud of him!

Monday, November 24, 2008

In a Cave


That's exactly how I feel today...which is exactly why this post is going to be very short--and why I need the reminder of the plaque pictured belows: "For everything give thanks." Really? Everything?
Day 24 - I'm so grateful that Jeff rescues me from my predicaments, like when I let a package get rained on and the label smears and becomes completely unreadable and the mail carrier can't take it and I don't know how to print a new one and I don't know what to do. Between Jeff (and my mom, who took the freshly re-labeled package to the post office for me), I'm in good hands.

There was one happy thing that happened today, but I can't say what it is yet because Josiah wants to be the announcer of good news to Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa at the supper table. If I wrote it here, they might read it and spoil the surprise. I'll write what it is--tomorrow.

Back to my cave, I go...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Simple Sunday - A Warm Woodstove

~ thankful for this wonderful old woodstove which has stood faithfully in its place in this house since before I was born...when Jeff and I were making plans to move here, I remember thinking about--gasp!--getting rid of this woodstove (actually, saving it to put into our log cabin someday...a girl can dream, right?) because of the lack of designer style it brings to the living silly of me!...I didn't realize I would fall in love with its warm heat (and yes, some heat is warm, and some is not; woodstove heat is warm, and heat pump heat is not) I can't imagine making it through a cold winter without it!
Day 23 - I'm grateful for Jeff's willingness to uncomplainingly pay the bill for our wood supply, as well as his willingness to occasionally go to get wood himself, as well as his willingness to carry wood from the woodshed to our porch--three thankfuls in one! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Rest of Life

Although baby news has been the entire focus of this blog this week, in reality, life in all its fullness and diversity continues to flow on around me, leaving only brief moments of personal contemplation of the life growing within me.

Here is a recap of the week:

~ a nice, normal day at home, enhanced by some fun homeschool time in the morning and the discovery of a few SNOWFLAKES floating by the window in the afternoon--the first for this season!

~ when we awoke and looked out the window, we thought, "Could it be? Yes, it is! SNOW!!!" enough to nearly cover the roof of my parents' house at least...but not nearly enough to cover the grass...ah, well, it still counts as the first snow of the year, and still brought an extra dose of excitement to the boys as they dreamed about future snow adventures
~ up on the housetop: snow, snow, snow!
~ snow on the grass...
~...and on the garden and the neighbor's field...
~ and on the picnic table

~ later that morning, we had the privilege of picking up Amanda and her baby Nolan and going to the Sacra's home for tea...completely delightful!...since I didn't take my camera along, you'll have to click here to see photos on Emily's blog--who knows? you might even spot a little boy that I adore!

~ after we came home, I got Josiah and David set up for quiet playtime upstairs...after a while, their quiet time became very quiet, so I tiptoed up and this is what I found:
~ Josiah asleep in his bed with the adorable tip of his nose sticking out from under the covers
~ and David asleep on the guest room bed...that tea party sure wore them out! :)

~ Jeff took Josiah and David to town to run their usual Wednesday errands, leaving me to enjoy the blessing of a napping baby and a quiet house
~ the only photo memory I have from this day is David, still bundled up from helping Jeff feed the animals, playing with our Fridge Phonics letters...and who is that behind him? little Tobin Bear, watching and holding, for the first time, the letters he could reach and absorbing all this fascinating information about what to do with these new things!

~ Josiah threw up on this day; and for the first time ever, I was gleeful about it... here's why...I awoke early that morning (around 3:30 AM) feeling very ill; and as I lay there contemplating the condition of my insides, I realized that I would soon lose my lunch, so to speak, so off to the bathroom I scurried...fortunately for me, throwing up is something that I have done very little of during our married years; in fact, I could probably count on both hands the times it has happened, and I think less than 10 times in more than 11 years is a pretty good record (especially considering the pregnancies that have been involved) I wearily lay in bed in the darkness and tried to assess how my stomach felt, I thought, "oh no, I sure hope this isn't morning sickness. oh, if this is, what am I going to do? how am I going to survive? how many weeks of this will I have to endure? oh, I can really understand now why some women don't ever want to get pregnant again. oh, God, I don't think I'm going to make it!"...a bit dramatic, I know; but that was how my mind was working in the early morning darkness...I was so relieved when Josiah threw up sometime after 6:00 that morning, and I realized that it wasn't morning sickness I was feeling, but an intestinal virus--hallelujah!...I can get over the flu a whole lot quicker than I can get over morning sickness :)...nevertheless, Thursday was a miserable day, made even worse by the fact that not only were Josiah and I afflicted, but also my dear mother...Jeff called my dad early that morning to see if Mom could come up and help me out, right after Dad emailed Jeff to ask if I could come down and stay with Mom! reality, neither Mom nor I could budge from our respective survive, I let Josiah and David watch lots of movies while I suffered along on the couch...once I had to throw up while all three boys were watching me; that was awful since, for me, the only thing that makes throwing up worse is having an audience...the best part of the day was having Jeff come home for a few hours in the afternoon to help us out and having him skip an evening meeting he was supposed to attend so that he could care for hero! :)

~ although still weak, I felt SO MUCH BETTER on this day; and I realized once again that sickness is beneficial for at least one thing: making me appreciate health! wonderful to be able to change Tobin's diaper on his changing table, rather than on the floor as I had the day before in case I passed out partway through! refreshing to be able to sit in a chair and feed him his cereal without immediately throwing up afterwards! fun to feel well enough to do a load of laundry! exciting to live life in a normal way!

~ because of the germs we might be carrying around, we skipped our homeschool co-op on this morning and did some of the school stuff we had neglected the day before...then, just for fun, I taught Josiah how to add larger numbers, including this one (which I couldn't even say in words if I tried because what comes after quadrillions anyway???):
+ 8,257,594,813,745,576,424,519,395
...he LOVED it! and really, it's so simple, once you know how to carry...he kept asking for more long problems like this because he was having so much fun
~ the picture of the day for Friday is this one of David holding a ladybug on his finger: a ladybug that he found, incidentally, on our kitchen table...hmmm, wonder how that got in the house?...David was so sad to put it outside since he really wanted to save it for suppertime to show Daddy...I assured him we could show Daddy the picture and then put the ladybug outside where it would be much happier (and would probably also freeze to death, but I neglected to mention that little fact to David dear!)

~ two special events: the first was an elegant ladies luncheon, Come to the Table, to which my friend Ceci invited me...the best part of that was seeing Twila Paris perform at the luncheon; I deeply admire her heart for worship...the other special part of today was a date with my love...Kate Sacra babysat the boys again (and David wept when she left), and Jeff and I had dinner at Dona Rosa's...a wonderful time of reconnecting with him!

I have several 30 Days Thankful to catch up on! Here we go...

Day 20
- This one is a no-brainer. I'm so thankful for Jeff's assistance during my sickness. His help with everything and cheerful attitude was a life-saver that day!

Day 21
- My Family Night was this evening, and I appreciate Jeff bringing home pizza for our supper--just what I was craving! Even more, I appreciate the kind words he wrote about me in the gratitude journal we use to record what we share about the honored person on Family Nights.

Day 22
- I know I've said this before, but I am just so thankful for this new tradition of date nights that we are establishing. They are one of the true delights of my life these days! One thing I am thinking of especially tonight after our date is that I love how I can talk with Jeff about anything--even hard stuff--and he helps to gently shift my perspective to a healthier one. I love how his advice is a guiding light for me; I would feel so blind without it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Start Spreadin' the News"

I'm too young to remember Frank Sinatra making this line famous; in fact, by the time I came along, it had become a mere ditty in a commercial, probably for margarine? However, during the past week, this melody has often floated through my head, making me smile repeatedly, because one of the undeniable joys of early pregnancy is, of course, spreading the news.

One thing that sets this pregnancy apart from my other ones is that I'm not going to buy a pregnancy journal! This is huge! Ever since my San Diego friend Stephanie Marlin (now Silverwood) bought me a pregnancy journal during my first pregnancy, I have been addicted to them and have carefully selected a different one for each pregnancy. Josiah's is filled out completely...the majority of David's is sadly NOT filled out (but it was a very thorough one, and it would have taken so much time to write out an answer to each question--that's my excuse, anyway!--but I'm grateful for what I did take the time to write down in it)...Tobin's is mostly filled out, and one of these days I'll finish it, using info from my blog to fill in the blanks in my memory. I even have a pregnancy journal for the one that ended in miscarriage. The first 2 and 1/2 pages were filled out, before I wrote one last entry to say goodbye. For me, choosing a pregnancy journal is one of the most important decisions in early pregnancy--or sometimes, optimistically, before pregnancy.

This time, however, I realize how thoroughly I like to document pregnancy in this blog so I plan to simply write thoughts here (and share pictures, of course) and then, at the end, print out a blog book using only the posts that pertain to this pregnancy. It saves time to do it this way, and it will also look really nice. That's the plan anyway. :)

So, in the interest of preserving all these wonderfully delicious moments of pregnancy pleasure, I want to jot down how the news was spread!

The first to know, of course, was Jeff...but my original plan of telling him on our date on November 8 didn't work out like I thought because even though I took a pregnancy test that morning (and to tell the truth, which I sheepishly will do, another test that evening before we left), I didn't get a clear positive. I shouldn't have been too surprised since it was technically earlier than I should have tested, but it surely is hard to wait!!! Despite my lack of a definitive yes, I happened to smile or laugh or do something that evening as we were waiting for our food in Texas Steakhouse; and Jeff wondered what was going on. So I told him the news...that I might be pregnant...and we laughed and talked and were amazed by it all.

Two days later, I took another test: another unclear result. Rats!

After two more days, Jeff himself bought another box of pregnancy tests for me since I had run out. He had Josiah and David with him; and as they were running their errands, it was no problem for him to pick up some. I asked him anxiously after he got home, "Did they notice anything? Did they ask you about it?" He said that they only thing they asked was, "Is it time to go yet? How much longer?" :)

I know you're supposed to wait until first thing in the morning to take pregnancy tests, but do you think I could wait any longer with a brand-new box of tests sitting there looking at me, holding the answer to the mystery that had kept me enthralled for days? Of course not! Off I went to test, and--sure enough--I got a positive! I immediately told Jeff and mercifully we had time to sit and process the news in peace and quiet since the boys were occupied. We were both happy--excited--surprised, yes--but not at all disappointed or upset. Jeff even remarked at some point that it is probably good that we're going ahead and having another one now since he's getting so old! He always thinks he's older than he really is. ;)

We weren't sure when or how to tell the boys and my parents, but as it turned out, we told them the next night at dinnertime. Josiah had finished one of his schoolbooks that day, so it was a good excuse for a celebration. I got out the "Celebrate" plate for him; but instead of turning it right side up, I put it upside down with a "we're proud of you" note and a Hershey Kiss underneath. Every family member had a note and something special under their plate, and I didn't let anyone turn the plates over until I said so. The boys went first, of course...then Jeff...then my mother (I had put a small snowman plaque under her plate since she loves snowman decorations)...and finally I told Dad to turn over his plate. This, along with a note, is what he found (although that hand is mine in a pre-dinner photo opp, not his in the actual moment of discovery)...
Being a doctor and all, it didn't take him too long to figure out what it meant. ;)

My parents were a bit astonished, I think, but excited. Josiah was very excited! David was not. That surprised me because David loves Tobin SO MUCH that I thought for sure he'd be delighted with the thought of another little brother (or perhaps, by some miracle, a sister!). Not so. He wasn't enthused at all. But if all goes well and this little baby grows and thrives and comes home with us in July, I have no doubt that David will fall head over heels in love with it.

It's hard to keep a baby secret for long, especially when little children are around. I found that out during our fellowship potluck when Josiah spread the news during a discussion around the dinner table about--of all things--whales. (Now I think that's June when I start to resemble one, I'll probably find it less so!) I'm not sure exactly how whales came up, but Austin was remarking that whales come from eggs and his mother Amy was correcting him by saying that actually, whale babies grow in their mommy's tummy...which prompted Josiah to pipe up, "Just like my mommy has a baby in her tummy!" The cat was out of the bag, for sure! (Not that we were planning to keep it in for long, anyway; but we didn't plan exactly that method for announcing it!) :)

On Sunday morning a similar thing happened in Children's Church. The teacher was asking each of the children what they are grateful for, and David said, "Joelle" -- this Joelle. :) But when one of the other children said that they were thankful for the baby in their mommy's tummy, David said, "My mommy has a baby in her tummy, too!" So much for secrecy. But really, I'm very glad that they could be such a big part of it!

OK...switching gears...30 Days Thankful!

Day 18 - Jeff told me I should write this one. :) In all our years together, Jeff has carefully honored my request that he never ever ever tickle me. I HATE being tickled, and Jeff knows that. Rather than taking advantage of that to "have fun" by tormenting me, he has respected that 100%...and now our boys are learning to do the same.

Day 19 - Last night, Jeff was stretched out on the couch getting warm by the woodstove, and I gingerly laid down beside him, fearful of rolling off the couch. It's not the widest couch ever, which makes it hard to snuggle like we used to as newlyweds when we had old, beat-up, incredibly comfortable couches. In our first apartment, we had a bad habit of falling asleep downstairs on that crazy couch because it was just so cozy; and then we would wake up sometime in the early morning hours, stiff and sore, and struggle our way up the stairs to our bed where we could stretch out and sleep better. But I love the memory of those moments with Jeff! I love that he's my best friend...the partner in all those silly memories...the love of my life...still the one I love to cuddle with. Sometimes when the boys are around when we're cuddling, they push their way in and try to get right in the middle. I like to say to them as they occupy the prime spot right next to Jeff: "Just remember--I was there first." And I was--for 11 and 1/2 happy snuggly years of marriage so far!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Because I Would Want to Know

Answers to questions people have asked us (or haven't, but probably wanted to)...

Q: Was this planned?
A: Uh...not exactly. Although we had never had a strong sense that our family was complete, we didn't know how or when another child would be added. We certainly didn't expect another one now; and I've actually felt a little sheepish as I've told people the news, expecting the reaction of "don't you know by now how these things happen?" But people have been gracious and have shared our joy excitedly...and God is good and knows best...and we are more than grateful for this unexpected blessing. I've quickly learned that unplanned doesn't mean unwanted. The funny thing about this (one of the funny things anyway) is that I was an unexpected fourth child...and so was Jeff. Maybe this was meant to be? I remember clearly that at one point in my adult life, I needed to ask my parents how long it took them to "want me." To clarify, I always grew up feeling extremely loved and cherished and wanted...but as an adult, I knew that if I was unplanned, perhaps it took a little time for them to get used to the idea of having me. My parents' response was that they wanted me as soon as they knew I existed, and I understand them now more than ever before.

Q: How far along are you?
A: 5 weeks, 2 days

Q: What is your due date?
A: July 18, by my calculation...I don't have an appointment at my midwives' office until December 10, so I won't know the "official" due date until then, but I don't think it will change much.

Q: How old will Tobin be when the baby is born?
A: 18 months...which is very different for me than the 2 year, 10 month interval between Josiah and David, and the 2 year, 9 month interval between David and Tobin...what makes me even more nervous about that is that neither Josiah nor David walked much before 18 months; if Tobin follows their pattern, I don't know how easy it will be for me to be 7 or 8 (or 9!) months pregnant and still carrying him around!

Q: How are you feeling?
A: Physically, I feel great! A little tired sometimes...I can't stay up as late at night as I used to (which is actually a good thing)...very minor abdominal pain from time to time as ligaments begin to stretch...but nothing at all to complain about. Mentally, however, I've experienced a HUGE range of emotions. The most bothersome is anxiety. There are a few similarities between the beginning of this pregnancy and the beginning of the pregnancy that ended in miscarriage in December 2006, and I am well aware of the fact that just because we've seen a positive pregnancy test doesn't mean we'll end up with a real baby to take home. However, I'm determined to rejoice unreservedly and savor each moment of this little one's life--however long or short it may be.

Q: Why are you telling everyone so early in the pregnancy if you're concerned about the possibility of miscarriage?
A: We're telling people now because we strive to live our life as an open book, and I personally think it would be infinitely more difficult for me to go through a miscarriage if no one even knew a thing about what was going on. We are so grateful for our friends and family who walk the path with us, whatever difficult thorns or sweet-smelling roses we might find along the way.

Q: Have you struggled with the idea of 4 children age 7 and under?
A: Oh, yes! In fact, the night after we got a definite positive pregnancy test, after my initial elation wore off, I had a really rough time with everything...which had more to do, I'm sure, with parenting my already-born children than it did with this precious unborn one. That night, before I let my head land on my pillow to sleep my cares away, I happened to pick up this month's Focus on the Family magazine; and in the column by Dr. Dobson, I read these words:
...Now I'd like to highlight the value of children.
To those of us who are familiar with Scripture, this subject might seem like a no-brainer. The Bible is full of expressions of God's care and concern for the young and vulnerable...
Unfortunately, this perspective is becoming increasingly foreign to our modern world, where children are often seen as a burden and a drain on natural resources....
Nevertheless, it is a serious error to intentionally avoid or reject something that the Lord calls a gift and a blessing, especially in the interest of pursuing fleeting pleasure...
What could possibly be more rewarding than raising an impressionable young child in the fear and admonition of the Lord? Is there anything more important than being able to answer questions--such as "why is the sky blue?" or "who is God?"--for the little ones entrusted to our care? The pursuit of comfort and convenience is utterly meaningless in comparison.
This was exactly what I needed to be told. Message received loud and clear! Thank You, God!

Q: Got any pictures?
A: Do I have pictures? Did the sun rise this morning? :) The first picture is a re-enactment of the pose (except in reverse) that Misty and I did last October when we were each obviously pregnant with our third child. Now we're both pregnant with our fourth, even though it's a little less obvious that there's a baby in there! Actually, when I look at myself, I see the 8 or so pounds I didn't lose...and the 1,000 or so sit-ups I never did. Oh well, might as well enjoy myself now...and tighten those stomach muscles later. Somebody pass the chocolate raisins, please! :)
~ at 4 weeks, 6 days
~ at 5 weeks, 1 day

Day 17 - For my 30 Days Thankful post today, I want to change the subject and highlight Jeff's confident speaking ability and excellent choice of words. He functioned in the role of worship leader for our church service yesterday; and because of the unique format of that particular service, he had quite a bit of speaking to do. He did a great job--so well, in fact, that when he was telling the story of the shouk bombing, I got chills--even though I was there and know the story like the back of my hand. But the way he brought new information into it and weaved it all together was very meaningful. I just love to sit and listen to him talk! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Simple Sunday - SURPRISE!

Given the nature of this particular post, I don't think the title of Simple Sunday cuts it. Spectacular Sunday is closer...even Shocking Sunday would apply. But oh well, I'll stick with the pattern and go with Simple Sunday...

~ SO thankful for the miracle of new life!
If all goes well, we should meet the newest member of our family face-to-face sometime in July 2009!!!!!!

Day 16
- This one is obvious: grateful that Jeff is the father of my children, born and unborn!

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127:3-5

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family Life

Day 15 - As I think about the gift of family today, it is easy to know what to say for my 30 Days Thankful post...I am so very grateful for Jeff's good relationship with my parents. Too many times, the in-law relationship is stereotyped as something horrible; but not so with us...and I give thanks continually for that!

Here are some recent family moments I caught on film. When I see them, I'm simply reminded of how sweet it can be to live so close to extended family. What rich relationships our boys have with my parents!
~ Grandma and David snuggling on the couch before supper, while David does some pages from a kindergarten workbook (a recent fun activity for him which completely surprised me, but he kept asking to do more and more pages!)
~ on that same evening, Grandpa listened to Josiah read a book...having both Josiah and David occupied productively and happily made that particular night pass without a piranha hour :)
~ our living room on Nov. 10
~ a closer look shows Grandma in a rocking chair with two boys on her lap listening to a story...and both of them are sucking their thumb :)
~ Nov. 12 - Tobin turned 10 months old! what a big boy!
~ some fun snuggle time with Daddy
~ Josiah didn't want to miss out, of course, so he came running and climbed up on the top of the couch
~ this morning, Josiah and David climbed up on a chair by our Thankful Tree and were busily reading what everyone wrote last night :)


In other family news... A good friend of mine in Singapore sent me this info a few days ago about a way to make a positive difference. The least I can do is pass this on so that those who wish can become involved in this way. It only takes a minute or less, but is very significant.

I'm writing to let you know about a terrible piece of legislation called "The Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA).

FOCA would establish the right to abortion as a fundamental right (like the right to free speech) and wipe away every restriction on abortion nationwide.

It will eradicate state and federal abortion laws that the majority of Americans support and prevent states from enacting similar protective measures in the future.

Please read the expert analysis by Americans United for Life (AUL) and sign the Fight FOCA petition

Friday, November 14, 2008

Do My Parents Remember?

Tonight we enjoyed a rowdy fellowship potluck--although, using the adjective "rowdy" doesn't really distinguish it from any other that we have. :) I did have to wonder, however, when it was over, "What do my parents think as they see and hear all these children running, squealing, chasing, laughing, dancing, drumming, playing as hard as they can, and making all sorts of raucous noise?"

Do my parents remember the small group meetings we had when I was a child? Sometimes we called it "cell group," sometimes it was "home group"...but the idea was the same: fellowship as the body of Christ. Here in this house, in the very same space in which my boys scampered tonight, I scampered with my brother David and our friends. Do my parents remember how noisy we were, especially after the official meeting was over and our pent-up energy could be released? Do they remember how, during one indoor game of tag or hide-and-seek or some such game, the wrap-around skirt of one of the Connor girls fell down as she stood by the hearth, creating a good bit of panic and mayhem? Do they remember the night the electricity went out, stranding us all in the dark until Dad's trusty pen light led someone to the cupboard for matches and candles? Do they remember how terribly exciting that was for the little folk? Do they remember that there was some significant ballgame being played that night, and the men went down to the garage to listen to it on the car radio since there was no power in the house? Do they remember...

So, Mom and Dad, do you remember? :)

Here is a picture of part of the group tonight, which included the Myers, the Wampoles, the Evans, and my parents. Interestingly enough, some of the "regulars" weren't here; but it still felt like a full house anyway. :)

Dear Cindy made me go eat while she sat on the floor and fed Tobin.
This picture of Adam and David is actually a little blurry, but I'm still grateful for it because it captures a moment at the "overflow" table.
Josiah helped me make the leaves for this Thankful Tree today. Everyone got to write what they're grateful for, and we'll leave this up on our wall for a few weeks until it's time to put up Christmas decorations. The really neat thing about this is that I save these leaves in our fall decorations storage box and have the pleasure of looking back on them in years to come. Today I saw some of the ones from 2006 and enjoyed the trip down memory lane that they provided. Tonight on Josiah's leaf, he wrote one word: SEASONS. Jeff was David's scribe and wrote what David told him to, that David is grateful that Kevin and Doris are his friends...neither of them were here, but I'll make sure they hear the news that out of all the things he could have given thanks for, David chose to give thanks for them. :)


Time to catch up on my 30 Days Thankful posts; I've gotten much further behind than I would have liked!

Day 12
- On this day, Jeff came home from running errands with the boys with an early Christmas gift for me! He told me he had something for me, then debated aloud with himself about giving it to me now or waiting for Christmas. One thing I've learned about Jeff is that he's not very good at waiting to give gifts. ;) So he decided to give it to me immediately which was OK with me! The gift was a digital photo frame; and as he showed it to me, he said excitedly, "Haven't you always wanted one of these?" a matter of fact, no; actually, I've never really thought about it before and certainly didn't long for one. :) However, now that I have it, understand how it works, and have a bunch of my favorite pictures loaded on it, I am ecstatic about it--simply ecstatic! I have it set up on the counter between the stove and the telephone, my worst-by-far Hot Spot in the kitchen. I'm hoping that seeing the beauty of the pictures in that place will inspire me to keep all the other junk cleared away from there--I'm nothing, if not an optimist! Anyway, when we lived in Israel, our computer was in our living room in our very small apartment, so I constantly saw the screen saver rotating through our pictures...and I loved it. Pictures are treasures to me, each one like a piece of gold; and I never get tired of looking back at old photos. Here in our present house, our computer is downstairs rather than in our main living area, so I don't have the pleasure of watching our pictures cycle through a screen saver. The digital photo frame fills that gap for me, and I'm so very grateful for it...and for Jeff's willingness to get me a gift that he knew I would love way before I realized that I did indeed love it!

Day 13
- Somehow in the few miles between Jeff's work and our home, he is able to switch mental gears and come in the door ready to give to his family. It can't be easy to give to people all day in the barbershop and then come home to give to rambunctious boys who've been waiting and waiting for their daddy and who overflow with excitement the minute they hear his noisy Jeep coming up the driveway. But Jeff doesn't snap, "Give me a break." He doesn't go into the library and shut the door to get away. He doesn't grab a newspaper to bury himself in. He doesn't turn on the TV...wait, we don't have a TV :)... But the point is that he doesn't let himself have an immediate escape when he comes in the door at night. He's involved--ready to grill the steaks or fill a hole under the fence where the dogs got out or answer a boy's many questions or swing light sabers in the living room with another boy. At the table, he's present--really present--sharing in conversation with me, our boys, and my parents. I've never forgotten the concept of men needing a cave (from Men Are From Mars...) and I respect that, but somehow Jeff keeps himself out of the cave when he walks in the door at night; and for that, I am grateful.

Day 14
- Jeff didn't feel well today, yet he stayed at work and fulfilled the obligations of his busy schedule there. Then he came home, ready to entertain a houseful of guests and serve/lead us in an evening of fellowship. I think I could count on one hand the number of times he's "called in sick" to work in the 11 and 1/2 years we've been married. He's extremely conscientious. Thank you, Jeff, for the great example you set in this area...and so many other areas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Homeschool Hits

If it wasn't for this 30 Days Thankful thing I'm trying to do, I probably wouldn't write a very thankful post today. It hasn't been the easiest day. However, it's easy to find good things to say about Jeff since he's been my comfort and rock today!

Day 11 - I'm thankful that Jeff is so supportive of homeschooling and appreciative of the time and energy I expend to educate our sons. We have always been unified in this decision, and I don't take that for granted. I'm also grateful for his input; when I need some help figuring out what would work best for our homeschool, he always has good advice and ideas that make a lot of sense and prove very helpful!

And speaking of homeschooling, I continue to thank God for the privilege of teaching this wonderful son of mine...
Since we're a few months into the homeschool year, I wanted to jot down several things that have emerged as first-grade favorites so far.

1. Missionary Stories with the Millers - this is included in Sonlight's first-grade curriculum, and it has quickly enthralled Josiah...he always gets excited when he sees this book on our pile of books for the day...and I get excited by his enthusiasm for these stories of true heroes of the faith, men and women who were willing to endure great personal risk for the sake of the Gospel...I want his faith to be nourished by these stories, and it's icing on the cake that he loves it so much!

2. The Usborne Book of World History - I've always enjoyed the Usborne books with their wealth of information and colorful, detailed illustrations...each page is like a little feast...and now Josiah announces often that this book is one of his favorites, and "can we read just one more page, please?"...this book gives a fairly comprehensive overview of what was going on in different parts of the world at the same time...I guess this is really the first time we have studied history in this way, and since I find history so fascinating, I'm happy to see that Josiah feels the same way about it, too!

3. Tut's Mummy: Lost...and Found - we read this a week or so ago, and both learned a lot from it while having fun--and seeing an incredible example of perseverance in the life of the man who discovered Tut's tomb (he searched for years for it) ignited Josiah's imagination so effectively that he decided rather than exploring the underwater depths to find Atlantis, his new goal in life is to become the archaeologist who discovers Tut's father's tomb! :)

4. Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Rock - I randomly picked up this CD at the library the last time we were there and soon discovered, once I started playing the music, what a fortunate bit of randomness that was!...this is a great CD, and what a fun, simple way to learn multiplication...this is not included in the Sonlight first-grade curriculum, and actually I wouldn't think of teaching multiplication in first grade; but Josiah is such a talented math thinker that he was ready for this...when we "officially" learn multiplication, I'll be sure to get this CD again and use it in a more focused manner

5. Sacajawea: Her True Story - while in Gift & Thrift recently, I saw this book and didn't have any trouble deciding to pay the 75 cents price for it!...yesterday I read this to Josiah, and again, we both learned quite a bit from, he read it himself--his most advanced reading yet...this book gave us a perfect opportunity to compare the life of Sacajawea to the life of Joseph: how neither of them wanted to be taken as captives, but how God used each of them to positively influence the lives of others which would never have been done in the same way if not for their captivity...once again, I was reminded of how much I treasure the opportunity to study all aspects of life from God's perspective

6. The Children's Bible - Josiah declares this is his favorite thing we do in homeschooling which makes me glad again that I switched from the suggested Bible reading in Sonlight's curriculum to's old, copyright 1965; but it's the beloved children's Bible from my childhood so I find much pleasure in reading it again--and especially, seeing the pictures...the only part of it I wish I could change is that it uses the--ahem--old-fashioned word for donkey, a word which I don't want Josiah to hear often lest he begin to think it's OK to say that word, thus shocking his hearers who know the more modern connotation that it holds! as I read along, I do a quick substitution when I get to the word a--, and Josiah isn't watching the page closely enough to see the switch so I get away with it :)

Oh, there is more I could say because I'm having so much fun reconnecting with some old favorites of mine as well as finding new treasures that are sure to become favorites. Homeschooling is grand with books such as these!

And speaking of homeschooling, the youngest blogger I know, Emily, is a homeschooled 12 year-old who just made her blog public. If you have a bit of time, jump on over to A Roller Coaster Ride and say hello. I promise you won't get motion sickness from this roller coaster! :) Who knows: you might even find your blog in her blog roll!

Monday, November 10, 2008


David continues to delight us with the random things that come out of his mouth. I remember thinking, before he could talk, "What is going on in your head, little boy?" Now I find it fascinating to have these little peeks into the workings of his mind when he decides to open his mouth and express himself. :)

Some recent gems:

~ "I've got bugs in my feet!" - several times he has said this, and I'm sure it must be when his feet "fall asleep" and then start to "wake up"...I guess it does feel like bugs in our bodies when that happens :)

~ "Do we get sick because we sin?" - two weeks ago, David wasn't feeling the greatest (and a few days later, Josiah caught the sickness from him--I really think it started with Tobin though who, the week before, had had a runny nose and seemed a little off, the first time he's really been sick)...this question was asked by David in the minivan on our way to Josiah's choir class, and it started a great discussion about the issue Jesus dealt with in John 9 ("Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?")...once again, I'm reminded of how blessed I am to be the one to hear David's questions and have the opportunity to answer them

~ "When we don't like God, does He still love us?" - another great discussion-starter!

~ "Does everybody in the whole world love me?" - almost everyone, my dear boy; and those who don't probably would if they could only meet you! :)


Every Monday, I receive a Mind Change Moment email from Tom Jones, and today's had these words about Matthew 6:12 which sunk into my brain and have been reverberating therein:

Jesus brilliantly, or should we say spiritually, has us pray that we will be forgiven only as we have forgiven those in debt to us. It is as though I am saying to God, "Forgive me, Father, but only as I have forgiven my dad, and my daughter, my friend, and, yes, my coworker who really doesn't like me."

There is a mind change: "If I have not shown them grace, I ask you not to give any to me."

Practice this and you will see that it also brings a life change.

I'm not sure I really want to say, "If I have not shown them grace, I ask you not to give any to me." I'd much rather say, "Please, Lord, give me lots more grace than I find myself capable of giving to anyone!"


Day 10
- Jeff is willing--even eager--to involve our boys in his activities. Someone once said, "Make your children your hobby." In other words, don't be so intent on developing your golf swing or your stamp collection or your bowling skills that you use your time for that, rather than for/with your kids. Jeff is exceptional in this area. When he's making pottery, he's getting out a lump of clay for the boys to use to make whatever they want. When he's playing chess on the computer, he's got a boy or two right there with him and is explaining to them the finer points of chess strategy. When he's raking leaves, he's got two little sidekicks "helping" him. Even at work, he likes having us come to visit and enjoys the times when Josiah gets to stick around there and do his special job (sweeping up hair, which Josiah really enjoys because he gets "tips" from some of the barbers and even a customer from time to time...the last time he did this, he made $6.00...the time before that, he made $5.00...he benefits from the generosity found in that shop!). Anyway, I appreciate so much how Jeff is a hands-on dad, not selfishly grabbing for alone time to pursue his interests, but devoting himself to his family.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Simple Sunday - Molly

~ thankful for our dog Molly, for the simple fact that she's still alive!...two nights ago, she and Jasper got out of the pasture and went wandering who-knows-where...the next morning (yesterday), when Jeff first saw her, it seemed as if Molly didn't see/recognize him until he spoke to her; that was strange, but he put her back in the pasture and went to work...later in the morning, I found her lying on the ground having a severe seizure; I had never seen a dog do that and was caught off-guard completely...we suspect she got into something poisonous during her night escapade, and we hardly knew what to do...even after the seizure stopped, she was not normal...seemed to not be able to see right (or at all), was lethargic, had shaky legs, did not act normal at all...several times throughout the day, I was sure she was going to die--first, when she was having the seizure, and later as I watched her recovery--or lack thereof...amazingly, she seems to be her normal cheerful self this morning which seems rather miraculous to us!...she was even energetic enough this morning to chase our poor rooster who made the mistake of escaping from his pen to the pasture; fortunately for him, he evaded her and is back safe and sound where he belongs...Josiah and David have been encouraged by her recovery, as we all have; and Josiah even shared with the whole congregation this morning during our open-mic time about how God healed Molly...I was so proud of my little man--and so grateful to God for sparing the life of our sweet dog
~ this photo is of Molly on the day we first got her back in January 2006...she was just a few months old and was as curious as can be...she still is, I guess; and that's what almost killed her...we're hoping she's learned her lesson!

Day 8
- Jeff and I had a date last night which we've been doing more consistently recently, due to having a babysitter--the beautiful Kate Sacra--lined up on a regular basis (every other Saturday evening) who is trusted by us and adored by our boys. Back when I was babysitting as a teenager, I don't remember the kids I babysat ever being as eager to see me as my boys are to see Kate. :) Not only am I grateful to her, I'm also extremely grateful to Jeff for allowing this to be a part of our lives even during this time of financial uncertainty. I love the security that comes from knowing that we'll have these special times together every other week, and I absolutely love spending that time with him! He's my best friend, for sure.

Day 9
- I'm grateful to Jeff for embracing a country lifestyle. Jeff was raised in California, but is not the "normal" surfer dude one might think of when recalling that lovely state, particularly because most of his early years were spent in the mountains of California. When he and I met, I was country, and he was mountain. He literally looked like a lumberjack. :) And after we married, we lived in cities. But now that we're here in the country, he has been quick to express his appreciation for the scenery we have, the pace of life we enjoy, the space we relish, and especially the opportunity to have animals. I didn't know when I married him that he would be so excited about having chickens. :) But, Jeff, I love that part of you!

By the way, Sally at Honey Run is also writing a thankful post every day this month. I think she's more consistent than me. :) Check her blog out if you need more inspiring grateful thoughts!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Doubly Thankful

To begin, a picture!

The photo below captures a peaceful sibling moment between Josiah and David last evening when they were playing (or rather, Josiah was teaching David how to play) Guess Who. It's good for me to see this picture because I've been discouraged recently at how unloving and unkind these two sons of mine are to each other. Sometimes it seems like all they do is intentionally provoke each other; and man, are they ever good at pushing each other's buttons! Today I thought, "If there was one thing about my life that I could change now, it would be to have these two suddenly get along and be loving and kind to each other." Dealing with their conflicts is tiring, and I grow weary of the referee role. The crazy thing is that they can be so wonderful towards each other so why, oh why, don't they do it more often? Big sigh... Anyway, here's a happy moment captured in a picture with a healthy dose of reality captured in words along with it!

But on to happier thoughts!

Unfortunately, I missed posting anything yesterday for 30 Days Thankful. Fortunately, that means I get to do two today! :) Just in case the theme of my 30 Days Thankful hasn't become obvious yet, I'll go ahead and state that the theme is Jeff! What better thing to focus my thoughts of gratitude on this month? (Although, of course, there are so many other things for which I am also profoundly grateful!)

Day 6
- What I was planning to write yesterday is that I'm so thankful that Jeff is willing--even eager--to not have a TV. I've talked with a number of women who have said that they wish they could ditch their TV, too, because they see how much time their family wastes watching it and how much of a negative influence it can be; but they can't get rid of it because their husband wouldn't allow it. Of course, I realize that sometimes, those same wives are equally as hooked on TV as their husbands are and shouldn't cast too many stones at their men; but I know that I'm in a very unique situation with my husband agreeing completely that we shouldn't have a TV, and I'm so, so thankful! (Just to be clear...I'm not saying that TV is essentially bad or that no one should have one, and I'll freely admit that once in a while, I'll have an evening where I wish I could just veg in front of a TV...but I'm absolutely convinced that our decision to not have a TV at this point in our lives is a very healthy one for us as individuals and as a family.)

Day 7
Tonight was Jeff's family night; and for that, we enjoyed a quiet evening at home with taquitos for supper. Jeff was the cook for them as he always is when we have taquitos, and he also delighted me by making some homemade corn tortilla chips. I'm crazy about those chips! Normally tortilla chips are not a food passion of mine, but Jeff's homemade ones are a different story altogether! I consumed a large quantity of them and barely ate anything else--sort of a lopsided meal as far as the food groups, but it will all even out tomorrow. :) Anyway, as always, we took the opportunity to celebrate Jeff and share something special about him. Josiah said that he likes that Jeff plays Knighthood, an online game through Facebook (and that's really all I know about it, except that I'll hear Josiah talking about how many pieces of gold Daddy has and what he's building on his castle and other such mutterings!). David said that he likes that Daddy wrestles with him. And I said that I'm grateful for Jeff's patience. He has been so patient with me throughout the years of our marriage; and when I've grown impatient with myself, he's had enough patience for both of us. In addition, he's shown patience in life when he's found himself in difficult circumstances. Rather than rushing out of the situation regardless of the consequences, he has stuck it out, done the right thing, and exercised patience as the desired change of circumstances finally came. He's a great example for me. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good Eats

Who needs a cookbook these days, when almost any recipe is available online--and, even better, my blogging friends post scrumptious recipes? :) I've been having lots of fun recently trying some new recipes from various blogs. Here are some that have gotten two thumbs up and a hearty "make it again!" in my household.

Spicy Lime Chicken from Renee at A Baker's Dozen -- so easy, healthy, and delicious

Baked Spaghetti from Lisa at Destination: Photography -- spaghetti is easily one of my all-time favorite foods so I knew this would be a hit for me...I wasn't disappointed :)

Macaroni and Cheese from Christy at Between Here and Home -- another of my all-time favorites

Wild Chicken, also from Christy at Between Here and Home -- I love the unexpected twist of water chestnuts in this!

BLT Salad, from Christy at Between Here and Home, again! -- I like this salad so much that I'm going to take it to Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's's that good

OK, my turn to post a recipe! This is for Southwestern Black Bean Chili, and I first made this for a Super Bowl party back in 2006. Most recently, I made it on my mother's birthday when we had about 25 people here for a Friday night fellowship potluck. The recipe doesn't specify using a crockpot, but I have done it that way for extra convenience (after browning the hamburger in a regular pan, that is).

1 lb. hamburger
1/2 c. onions, chopped
1 package (1 & 1/4 oz.) taco seasoning
1 can (14 & 1/2 oz.) corn, drained
1 can (14 & 1/2 oz.) black beans, undrained
1 can (10 oz.) tomato soup
1 & 1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. jalapeno peppers, diced (I've made it with jalapenos...another time, I added diced chilies...other times, I've omitted this completely, depending on the perceived spice tolerance of the eaters)
1/2 c. sour cream
16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
green onions
additional sour cream
additional shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, brown hamburger and drain, if needed. Add onions and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add taco seasoning, corn, black beans, tomato soup, water, and jalapenos; stir. Cook until hot. Add 1/2 c. sour cream and 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well. When cheese is melted, pour into individual bowls and garnish with additional cheese, sour cream, and green onions, as desired.

Day 5 - For my 30 Days Thankful post, since we're talking about food, I must mention how much I appreciate Jeff's willingness to eat anything! He is not a picky eater at all, and I've been extremely grateful for that from the beginning of our marriage until now--and beyond. When I try new recipes, he's an eager guinea pig. When I make the same old stuff, he's still thankful. Even when I make bland-to-his-spicy-tastebuds comfort food, he never utters a word of complaint...although he might reach for the hot sauce to rev it up a bit! It makes my life so much easier and more joyful to have such a husband!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Tuesday

Has this presidential campaign really been the longest ever in history, or does it just seem that way to me? Whatever the result, I'm simply glad that it's over--so glad, in fact, that I was tempted to make that my Day 4 item for 30 Days Thankful.

However, what is more significant to me personally is a characteristic of my beloved husband so here is my real Day 4 thing to share.

Day 4 - I'm so thankful for Jeff's fresh ideas of fun for our boys. This has shown up in the blog before--i.e. tenting in the living room, inventing a game, etc.--but when Jeff did it again the other night, I realized again how good he is at this. The photo below shows the latest memory-making moment for Josiah and David; and just in case it doesn't all make sense, let me explain it a bit. There are two hula hoops stuck vertically between the couch cushions; the boys like to put them there when they're pretending that the couch is a ship. Jeff's addition to the activity was to drape a few blankets over the hula hoops to create a little hide-out. What little boy doesn't love a hide-out? I've seen the hula hoops on the couch dozens of times, yet never once thought of putting blankets over them. I so appreciate Jeff's creativity and desire to create special moments for and with his sons.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What I Was Going to Say...

All day, I have had a number of thoughts float through my head about what I would write tonight. I knew I wanted to do my 30 Days Thankful post for the day; and I had a number of other, random things that I wanted to share as well. All of that changed in an instant though when we received a shocking email tonight from dear friends of ours in Tel Aviv, Yacov and Natasha, the couple to whom we transferred pastoral leadership of the congregation of which we were a part when the time came for us to leave Israel. After reading the email, what I was going to say suddenly became almost meaningless as my perspective shifted from the temporal to the eternal.

This email is from Yacov, and I'm going to post an unedited version of it. Yacov's first language is Russian; and besides that, he knows Hebrew and English (and maybe another language?)...interestingly, none of those languages share a common alphabet. So as you can imagine, his English grammar and spelling are a little rough; but I think the message comes through loud and clear. He writes...

1 Peter 5

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Yesterday i came back home after meeting in Beitlacham. It was about 11 at night and I stared shere with my wife about the church there. At the meting we discus about sufferings, that they will come anyway and throe them we can be more united and more focus on God. Later on i go to bad and at 3 o'clock at the night i woke up. I sow fire i the hall , i called my wife and tried to put out the fire. It grouse more and more , than i fold and hurt may self at that moment i realised that we need to leave apartment as soon as possible. I screamed to Natasha to take a Little one and get out of app. In same moment i run to Ron's room but because of smoke i couldn't see my sun. To the touch i found him and took him away.Out side we sated all most naked and barefoot, we observed haw to burn down our home. We are weary [very--my note] glad to God for what happen course it is shows that we never now when we go to haven - Be ALERT. We are weary glad to God for what happen course it is united all church. We are weary glad for brothers and sister love and care. Please prey for us , just get a new home .With our love , Jukovski's family

Along with the email, he sent these pictures...

I cannot imagine what Yacov and Natasha (and their children Ron and Nichol) are experiencing right now. If my heart hurts--and it does...if my stomach feels sick--and it does...what must this be like for them?

A flood of memories has been rushing through my mind in the few hours since I first read their horrible news--sweet memories of pleasant times together, encouraging memories of their incredible faith, funny memories of relating to each other across cultural boundaries. Both Yacov and Natasha have hearts of gold...I can't say enough good things about them. They are a treasure to all those who know them.

I had to go back through my picture archives and find some photos of Yacov and Natasha from 2005, our last year in Israel. (And, by the way, I've mentioned them in this blog before: here and here.)

~ in yesterday's post about the quilt, the picture of our bed showed a heart-shaped pillow on it...that pillow was made by Natasha and given to me on my 29th birthday which we celebrated together in Tel Aviv...when we left Israel, that was one of the things that I KNEW we would take with is an everyday reminder of our friendship since I can't help but think of her when I make my bed!
~ Natasha holding David when he was 10 days old
~ Natasha and my mother during a Pesach (Passover) celebration in Jerusalem, April 2005
~ Natasha holding David again, this time when he was a month and a half old
~ Yacov holding David...Yacov has the heart of a shepherd...he's a caring father for those in his physical family and his spiritual family
~ Natasha holding David again!...she snatched him every chance she got, it seems :)
~ we spent our very last evening in Israel with Yacov and Natasha and their son was a hot July night, full of emotions of excitement for our future and sorrow at our parting...I'm so glad we spent it with them
~ Ron & Josiah playing together that night
~ this last picture was taken in October 2006 when Yacov had the opportunity to come to Virginia Beach for a conference...we drove 4 hours there and 4 hours back in the same day, just to have the chance to spend a few hours with him...we would do it again in a heartbeat...their friendship is so worth it

It feels a little strange to be doing a 30 Days Thankful post in light of what the Jukovsky family is going through; and yet, I am grateful. So here are a few things for which I give thanks today.

Day 3
- for the privilege of knowing Yacov and Natasha and calling them friends...for God's hand of protection on them...for His overwhelmingly good gift of sparing their lives and the lives of their precious children...for the inspiring and astounding response that sprang immediately from Yacov and Natasha (in the email, Yacov writes several times, "We are very glad to God" -- you are? wow!)...for the eternal perspective that Yacov shares, the reminder to be alert because we never know when we'll go to heaven

To those who read my blog...when you think of them in the days to come, would you please pray for Yacov and Natasha? Despite their faith, this has got to be extremely difficult for them. May all their needs be met, may their hearts be comforted, may their children be protected from the emotional trauma of the fire, and may God use this to, in some way, be glorified and draw many to Himself.