A Belated Celebration

...for my birthday that is.

Tonight, Steve, Jenna, Chase and went downtown to eat at the Spaghetti Factory. Our good friends from church, the Morgans, joined us. It was a belated birthday celebration and it was wonderful. Danette and I never seem to have enough time to talk and catch up with us usually being in church when we are together, so it seems we NEVER run out of things to say. Plus, I haven't really seen her since my return from Thailand and they wanted a brief synopsis of the trip.

I haven't been to the Spaghetti Factory in years (since my youth) and it was good. I also had the best dessert. It was chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate shavings and chocolate mousse. You know, something chocolate. After we got done eating, Chase had to leave, but the rest of us decided to walk around downtown briefly. A friend of mine recently stated in her blog that blogs were just better with pictures, and I think I agree, so here is one we took tonight in front of the Hard Rock.

Jenna was dying to ride on one of the horse and buggies and it was only $30, so the Morgans split the cost and we took a quick tour of downtown Nashville. It was nice to hear about some of the places that we didn't know much about even though we've all been in Nashville quite a while (all our lives for Steve and I).

This is a picture of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Notice how it looks like a piano? Pretty neat huh? And if you do an aerial view, the entire building looks like a huge music note. Cool.

And lastly, here's a picture of my dear husband grilling my steaks on my birthday in the rain...how sweet...they were good steaks too.

Thanks to Dennis, Danette and Christian (we missed you, KD!) for sharing my birthday with me! We enjoyed our time together and look forward to the next time. We are so blessed by your friendship!

Well, it's after 10pm and I'm tired, so I'm going to head to bed...lots to do tomorrow...clean the kitchen, laundry, groceries etc. 4th of July is coming...more to come on that...

A New Look...

No, not for me, but for my blog. I'm wondering how my girl, Allison likes my new blog look???

I have to give props to my friend Carrie, who designed the new title bar and then instructed me how to change the background color to match.

Just to give you a little background, Carrie was my "best friend" in about the 6th grade. We even had the necklaces to prove it! You all remember those? They came in two pieces and one said "best" and the other part said "friends"? Well, we had them...anyway, I digress. As it happens, Carrie's family moved to Florida and we lost touch even when she moved back to TN. My friend Stacey somehow got in touch with her after we graduated from college I think. Anyway, Carrie and I have recently gotten back in touch and it's been wonderful (I speak ONLY for myself!) It's interesting how we were such good friends when we were kids and now, I see why...we do have so much in common. I'm so glad we got back in touch. I have to give her credit for that though...she was the one that reached out to me.

So, she does a lot of online scrapbooking and I was really digging her blog design (you can find her in my links) and so she offered to create for me a new title bar. Her first try and this is what she came up with. Isn't she awesome??? Anyway, I love it and wish I had other blogs for her to spice up!

OK, enough with the tribute to Carrie. I hope everyone likes the title bar. I sure think it personalizes the page so much more.



So, this morning, I was riding in to work and heard a Mark Shultz song that for whatever reason, took me back to my days as a youth at Radnor Baptist Church.

I remembered a time in which, I was in the middle of a study group called Disciple Youth. As part of going through this very intensive study, we met one Saturday at the church for like a full day of prayer. It wasn't collective prayer, but we each chose a secluded room and had a list of stuff to pray for. There was nothing in this room except a couple folding chairs. We were far enough apart that we could pray out loud, cry, pray to ourselves, kneel, sit...you get the point...as my current pastor would say, it's not the outward expression your prayer takes.

As odd as it is, I remember very vividly my room. It was one of the smaller rooms off of the Joy Explosion room (another memory). There was a desk and several folding chairs lining the wall. To be honest, I don't remember alot of what I prayed for that day except I prayed for my sister, Cindy. Cindy had been missing from my life for some time and she was my "favorite sister" in childhood (i.e. she bought me the most gifts). I prayed that God would somehow bring her back because I'd missed her so much. After that, I remember telling my mom all the things I'd prayed for. And that probably would have been the last I thought of it. However, later that night, the "buzzer" rang (our makeshift doorbell) and I looked out and it was Cindy and Garth Brooks! Later, I found out, the big guy with the black cowboy hat wasn't Garth Brooks (much to my dismay!), but Les, her about to me and still today, husband. All I could think was that God had answered my prayer. And not only did this direct answer prove to me His power, but also most likely impacted my mother as well. I don't know if she ever told anyone that story...I need to check her diaries to see if she chronicled it there also, but I'm sure she did. It was a big day for us, in so many more ways than one.

I don't know what in that song made me remember this memory, but I'm glad I did. We all need to be reminded from time to time the power of prayer. Sometimes it is a direct answer just the way we asked for it and other times it is an answer, but nothing like what we expected. And then the hardest time is when the answer is either "No" or "wait"...because we, as humans, are instant gratification people. We want to tell God how we want Him to do it. Yet, when WE do it, it just gets all messed up. You'd think by now, we'd learn.

Well, that's my deep thought for the day. For those Radnor folks, I hope Disciple Youth and Joy Explosion take you on a trip down memory lane!


Happy Birthday all around!!!

Welcome to the World Kaleigh!!!!

I'm a tad bit late on my welcome, but very close to midnight on June 25, Kaleigh Alecia entered the world by c-section! Kaleigh was a tad early in her arrival, but she was fine, weighing in at well over 7 lbs. Mom, Nova, is one of my bulletin board friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Nova and the other "Mamas" from our board about 2 1/2 years ago in NJ. These are the ladies that I mentioned in my post below with the video. Nova tried (as did we all) for years to conceive and after several failed cycles of IUI and IVF, she and her husband decided to start adoption papers. Well...she had no more than gotten her portfolio ready when God blessed her with the biggest miracle of her life (at least so far!! ;) )...she got pregnant!! So, on June 25, when baby Kaleigh entered the world, all of us Mamas were part of one of the greatest miracles ever! Congratulations Nova and Chris and WELCOME BABY K!!!!

Also, I'm sending belated happy birthday wishes to myself! I turned the big 3-3 yesterday! Woohoo! Yesterday was exactly like every other day except I got free lunch from my co-worker Erica (thanks E!) and a gift from Steve and Jenna (speakers for my iPod!). I did get well wishes from most co-workers and calls from my Dad (which was good since he forgot last year!), sisters, brother, stepmom and bunches of friends. I was trying to plan a night out with them all on Saturday, but as it turns out, no one can come, so it will be just myself, Steve and Jenna and we're going to the Spaghetti Factory downtown and walk in "the city" as Jenna calls it when she seems the skyline. I'll have to hook up with everyone else another day. While I was a bit disappointed that my birthday plans for Saturday fell through, I was a happy woman to spend the evening with my two favorite people in the world. Steve even grilled IN THE RAIN...steaks at my request. And for the first time since mom passed away (almost), I had a birthday cake! So, all in all, this Momma had a wonderful day!


I would die for that...

Below is a video whose link to YouTube was posted on IVF Connections, a board for those battling infertility and the place where I have met some of the most wonderful women in my life.

For those that have children or are expecting, please listen and be oh, so thankful for your miracles. For those of you that are in this battle, this one is for you. There is ALWAYS hope.


Scolded again...pics from Thailand!

Good grief...my friend Stacey has scolded me again for not updating my blog! Just so you know (and to make her feel guilty for giving me a hard time ;o) ), I've been sick as a dog since returning from Thailand. I believe what I have is a cold due to good old fashioned allergies in the US. Gotta love it!

For those that have wondered, I did finally get my bags from the airport. Apparently, someone turned the church loose on them and gathered all the bags and brough them to the church for pick up. It was a very nice gesture and surprise. It saved me a trip to the airport, which I appreciate. I took off again on Wednesday, but went to work Thursday and Friday and it would have been fine had I felt better. I'm starting to feel better today, but still so tired (even after 12 hours rest last night). I'm going to google "jet lag" after this post to see if I can find some tips on making myself feel better.

Now, on to what you have been waiting on...because I was working while in Thailand, I didn't get the chance to do much sightseeing, but I did get some pictures and some I stole from a fellow traveler. Our day started at 5:50 when the alarm went off and then we were out the door to breakfast by 6:30am. Typically, we'd have breakfast and then run to the computer/phone room to use the Skype phone and log on to the internet to blog or what have you. Because of the 12 hour time difference, this was about the only time to call back home where we wouldn't be waking folks up! After all that, it was time to head to our classrooms and start the day. VBS was from 8-12 and then after that we had lunch, nap, snack, recreation, swimming and then home for the kiddos (at 5pm). The days were long...
Here is a picture of the elephant ride we took...

Our elephant was Poo Boonpeng and he was 29 years old. The girl elephants had names starting with Mae (pronounced Ma) and the boys were Poo. It was unbelievable to go and I would highly recommend it if you have the chance. The elephants are treated very well in Thailand. The other picture is one of me posing with an elephant who decided he liked me enough to give me a big, ole, sloppy kiss. Rachel, who had my camera, had perfect timing on this one!

There's so much to tell, but for today, for this post, I'll leave you a picture of the whole reason I went to Thailand...


Home Sweet Home

Just so you know, this post was written at 4:48am on Tuesday morning. In the last 24 hours, I have been in 3 countries and 4 states. I began my journey home on Sunday afternoon about 5pm (Thailand time). The flight to Bangkok was only an hour, on time and very uneventful. We spent the night in Bangkok and had to be up at 3:50 to be to the airport in time to make our 7am flight to Tokyo. The flight from Bangkok to Tokyo was about 5 hours, on time and uneventful. I finished reading my book and put back about 4 magazines I had packed. We had only a short layover in Tokyo and then began our long leg of the trip…13 hours…to Chicago. It was another long flight, but I had an emergency exit seat, so no one in front of me and lots of leg room. Problem was that I wasn’t able to sleep much and I finished my last magazine the first hour on the plane. I watched Catch and Release and Music and Lyrics (which I highly recommend) several times.

Even thought the flight was long and we hit a few minor turbulents, it was uneventful. We didn’t have a long layover in Chicago and had to go through immigration, customs and security (AGAIN!), so we had to really rush to make the 4pm flight. The majority of us were on the 4pm flight and the rest on the 7pm flight. Soon as I re-checked my bags, the gentleman in Chicago told me which terminal/gate to go to, but said our flight was delayed. When I got to the gate, it was delayed until 7pm. I was so disappointed because I was looking forward to getting back to Jenna and Steve like you wouldn’t believe. The only way I have been able to make it through the week and ½ was to not allow myself to dwell on how much I missed them. If I allowed myself to sit and think, I would have been a basket case and never able to do what I was sent to do there in Thailand.

We hadn’t been at the gate more than 15 minutes or so when the announcement came…our flight was cancelled. Well, after 36 hours of no sleep, being back on American soil and so close to home but not able to get there was more than I could take…I just lost it…

Unfortunately, the weather (which was apparently bad in the Midwest) was causing many flights to be canceled. The lines at the customer service counters for United were very long and when we finally got there, they told us the rest of the flights for Monday night were either already canceled or full. All direct flights from Chicago to Nashville on Tuesday were completely booked and the earliest they could get me out of Chicago was Wednesday morning about 11am, connecting through Dulles and then on to Nashville, arriving about 5pm! So, our travel leader began to work on chartering a bus to drive to Nashville. The second flight only had about 15 of us (including Rachel) on it and they were delayed. However, by 8:30, the bus had arrived and the decision had to be made on whether to leave those people behind hoping their flight would still arrive and be able to fly out or not. Each person had to make their own choice. The original flight was 7:14pm, was delayed once to 7:48 and again to 8:48. All of those that had confirmed seats on that flight, stayed and took their chances that the flight would make it. The rest of us boarded the bus. The sweetest words I have ever heard were, “Let’s go home”.

The bus idea wasn’t too bad…there were so few of us that we each get our own row of seats, so sleeping was very feasible. The bus driver stopped every 2 hours, so we could get out, walk around, use the bathroom and get a snack if we wanted. So, I slept for 2 hours, then would wake up and walk around and then sleep again. Right now, we have already made our final pitstop of the journey and have crossed the Tennessee state line. We are going to stop at the airport to see if any of our bags made it to the airport on the flight last night. Then, we’ll get on to the church and Steve and Jenna will meet me there. I can’t say in words how much I am looking forward to seeing them. I think I will cry I will be so happy.

So, by the time I actually post this blog, I will be home. I intend to get a quick nap this morning when I get home (depending on what Steve and Jenna do) and then take at least another ½ day tomorrow at work. I’d intended to go in to work, but I’m just not sure I can make it. I’ve been in Thailand, Japan and the US and in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee all in the last 24 hours. I’m tired and want to be with my family that I’ve missed so terribly.

Thanks to all my prayer partners and others for supporting me while I was away. The prayers were needed and felt. I have lots of thoughts and insight as to all I learned this week, but going on just a few hours broken sleep in the last 48 hours means I cannot get them down now. I’ll try to get more a blog with some pics posted soon. I have so much to tell and share with you…

Edited at 5:44pm: I'm home, but my luggage is not. I've slept most of the day and am still beat. I hope to have my bags with my souveniers tomorrow, but we'll see. I think they may still be in Chicago. More later...


My last Thailand blog...

I can’t believe it’s almost my last day here. Unless something changes, this will be my last post while I’m actually on my trip. Again, I’m writing as my kids nap. They had a big night last night with their parents and so they are more tired today than normal.

Yesterday afternoon, we got to take “off”. We went to visit an elephant camp. I’m sure right off, that doesn’t sound like much, but it was very interesting and we even got to ride the elephants. Let me give you a little history of the elephant and Thailand…

Many years ago, the elephants were domesticated and used for logging. What that means is that they would take the elephants up on the mountain to bring down trees for wood. This wood was used to barter with other countries in order to avoid them attacking Thailand. The elephant was big and strong and the best “vehicle” to bring the trees down from the mountain. As time went on, tractors and other things were found to bring the trees down, but then more, smaller trees would have to be cleared for tractors to get to the trees. Eventually, it was found that the elephant was just the best source of transporting the wood.

Unfortunately, after a while, the king of Thailand said that there would be no more wood trade with other countries. This left huge amounts of domesticated elephants, with no where to go. Thailand decided to re-introduce these animals into the wild. The US liked that idea and partnered with Thailand in a program that would take domesticated animals and release them back to their natural habitat. Of course, after spending so many years in captivity, this did not work. Many of the elephants could not survive the wild and many were killed for their skins and tusks by poachers.

Today, most of these domesticated elephants are now in elephant farms or sanctuaries in Thailand. These elephants are used to give rides to visitors (and we are talking 30 minute – 1 hour rides, unlike the circus) which are considered very easy work for them (considering the size logs they used to transport!). They are trained to do “tricks”, but they are trained in a kind manner and most of them are not what we would consider “circus” tricks. They aren’t things taught that isn’t already somewhat natural to the elephant.

All that to say, the trip was unbelievable. These huge animals were so gentle and loving…we have some awesome pictures and I can’t wait to get home and post the pictures.

Speaking of home…Jenna’s birthday was yesterday and I think she had a good one. Steve told me he was taking her out to dinner. I’m curious as to how many times they’ve gone out to dinner since I’ve been gone. But they still seem to be doing well and I will tell you, I couldn’t be more proud of Steve. I mean…he has done exceptionally well. Now, he might be not telling me everything, but it seems he is really doing well.

At any rate, we’ll leave around 7pm tomorrow night to fly to Bangkok where we will spend the night. Our flight from Bangkok to Tokyo leaves early Monday morning and we’ll arrive in Chicago about 4pm their time. I should get back to TN by 7pm on Monday night. I took Tuesday off (thank goodness) and then it’s back to work on Wednesday. Well, I’m going to run…get a few things done before the kiddos wake up. I may not get to blog again before I get home, but I’ll definitely post pics when I arrive.


Day 4 from Thailand

I just wanted to quickly share with you some pretty amazing things that have happened so with the children…

On Tuesday, we were asking for prayer before snack and one of our little boys raised his hand to pray. He asked for permission to pray in Thai and then proceeded to pray over our snack in Thai. It nearly brought me to tears to hear this 4 year old boy praying in a language that I can’t begin to understand, but knowing that God understood every word.

We have a child whose parents are stationed in Cambodia and one in Vietnam. Best I can tell from our conversations with them, the boy from Cambodia has recently moved there. Seems to be about a year I guess. The girl from Vietnam doesn’t seem to remember anything other than Vietnam, so perhaps she was born there. The interesting thing about her is that she is blond hair/blue eyed, so I’m sure she sticks out in a country of mostly olive skinned/dark haired inhabitants! One of our other girls parents are about to go “stateside” which means on stateside assignment. For those of you who don’t know, stateside assignment is what was used to be called furlough. They are moving back to Alabama (I neglected to ask for how long) and they will have to continue to minister there by speaking at churches, going to conferences etc. A boy that we feel like we know personally through his grandma is living in Chiang Rai, Thailand. His grandparents are here on the trip with BBC and are truly enjoying their time with son and daughter-in-law. He can also speak a little Thai after only being here a short time. It’s amazing what little minds can learn.

On a different note, let me tell you a few things that are different over here…first of all, they call air conditioner, “air con” and they never use it. The rooms do not have air on (or lights for that matter) until you put your key chain up on the little magnetic strip. Now, you might be thinking, well, just remove the key fob from the key and leave it on, but the key hook is soldered so you can’t do that. They only provide you one key, so when you leave the room, you must take the key with you which means the air and the lights go off until you return. The hotel lobby, elevators and other common places are not air conditioned, so it stays quite warm.

There are children here from all ages…BBC is responsible for bed babies up through 6th grade. The rooms that we are keeping the children in are hotel rooms. The beds are cleared out, but the only room we have to play, do crafts, do music, tell stories etc. is the size of a standard hotel room without the double beds. Now, imagine we are in here with whatever age we have, for a full 8 hours a day. It can get quite cramped and the kids can get restless. So far, the Lord has provided and we’ve had everything we needed. You have no idea what kind of planning this type of trip takes. The sheer numbers of supplies that have to be carried is just amazing, yet somehow, the group of planners from the church has made this happen. Wow.

Something else in Thailand, they drive on the opposite side of the road from us. And there are TONS of little motorbikes. They make our stupid cyclists look like amateurs. They weave in and out of traffic and never hit the breaks. If any of these people came to the US, they for certain would get run over. The other night, coming home from the night bazaar, Rachel and I rode a tuk-tuk back to the hotel. What an experience! I’ll have to post a picture here as soon as I can.

There’s so much more to tell, but I can’t get it all onto a blog. I’ve read all the comments, gotten all the prayer-grams and felt all the prayers. Continue to pray as I am starting to really worry about and dread the flights home. I’m looking forward to getting home to Steve and Jenna though. All week, I have refused to think about them because I just can’t hold it together because I miss them so much. Although I’ve talked to them a couple times this week and they seem to be doing well, so either Steve’s a good liar or they really are surviving which makes me relieved, happy and proud. Jenna is counting the days until I’m home and that makes me happy. I know I’ll cry when I see them. In fact, just writing this is making me tear up so I need to get on with something else.

I’m writing this as my kids nap. They are leaving at 3:30 today instead of 5pm because we are doing a parents night out tonight, so their moms and dads can go on a date. I’m leaving at 3:30 with them, going to grab a bite to eat and then walk around the mall that is attached to the hotel and have to be back to sit with the toddlers tonight during the Marketplace which is what they are doing for the older children for parents night out.

Last night, we went to the gem factory which was really a glorified jewelry store. Most everything I picked up was about $500, but in the US it would be double or triple that. Steve will be happy to know that I only spent about $60. Tonight we work here, tomorrow we are going to ride elephants and probably back to the night market. I have more Baht to spend and I don’t intend to have to take it back home and exchange it to US dollars!

Well, more later if time allows.


More from Thailand

I can't believe I'm able to blog as much as I am, but here I am again...

Last night (Tuesday in Thailand), we visited the night market. It was very interesting. It's like a huge flea market and the Thai people show their wares. It is custom here to negotiate a price, so it was weird getting the hang of that. But once I watched someone else do it, I was buying stuff left and right.

On our way back to the hotel, we rode on a tuk-tuk. I took videos of our ride. It's definitely an experience! The driving here is unlike any other.

Tonight is a visit to the gem factory. I'm guessing there will be plenty of jewelry to be bought. Things here are really cheap compared to the states.

Well, I better get moving along. It's morning here in Thailand and we are about to get started for another day.

I'll blog more as soon as I can.


Another post

First of all, let me thank those of you who have sent prayer grams to me. It’s like a little taste of home and it’s just wonderful! If you want to send me one, go to http://www.brentwoodbaptist.com/, click on the missions area and you should be able to find a link there.

Today (Tuesday in Thailand) was our first day of the conference and VBS with the children. We have 8 four-year olds. There are 5 boys and 3 girls. They come from places all over the globe…Vietnam, Thailand, Texas (?-but that’s what he said), Laos etc. So many different cultures but all children nonetheless. Hopefully I’ll be able to post pictures of these unique and interesting children once I get home.

Tonight, we are planning to go to the night market/bazaar which I’m sure will be an interesting trip. I will get many of my souvenirs there. The US Dollar goes a lot further here than in the US. The exchange rate was a little more than 33 baht to the dollar. I think I gave the exchange $200 USD and got somewhere around 6,770 baht! I plan to take pictures at the bazaar tonight and video too. Tomorrow night, we will go to a gem place which I guess will be jewelry. There’s so much to do and not enough free time to do it all. Plus, you don’t want to explore alone and my roomie, Rachel is tied up all day with the Toddlers. Speaking of, pray for her…she needs it…being in the room for 8 hours with such young children. There are 13 of them and something like 3-4 teachers. Because of their age, they are unable to leave the room for lunch or go to the pool like we are. I’m sure her patience will be running pretty low tonight.

I can’t believe the week has already begun. In the blink of an eye, the conference will be over, the children gone and I’ll be on my way back to the states. But the need in the Pacific Rim and southeast Asia will still be here. The M’s will still be here with their families. I can already tell my life will be forever changed by what I’ve experienced here. I encourage you to add M’s from all over the world to your prayer list.

While I will probably post this during the evening, I am typing it during naptime which is almost over, so I better go and get these kids up. We’ve already had lunch…3pm is snack time, then recreation at 3:30, then the pool at 4pm. After the pool we have to get the kids back upstairs, changed into their dry clothes and ready for pick up no later than 5:15. After the last child is gone, we have another team meeting at 5:25 and then free time until the Night Bazaar trip at 6:30. Then, it’s to bed until it starts all over tomorrow.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support. I truly can feel them. God is at work this week.Sawat de kaa (goodbye in Thai)


We've arrived!

The flight from Chicago to Tokyo was a long one…13 hours! Not to mention, I got up at 2:45am in the morning to make a 6:30am flight. All the flights have been on time or a bit early.

I didn’t get in bed until 11:30 Friday night and because Micah and Gage were staying the night, Jenna was in our bed. She’d crashed at about 8:45pm on the couch downstairs. There’s just not room for 3 of us in the bed, so I didn’t sleep well for the 3 hours I slept. When the alarm went off, I was ready to get up. I got ready fairly quickly and got my luggage downstairs and then didn’t know what to do. So, I went to the bedrooms and prayed over them. Praying that the days would be good while I’m gone.

Rachel and David arrived about 3:30 and we were off! I loved on Steve and Jenna and left…with my emotions in check! We got to the airport a little after 4:00 and got checked in. There are about 20 of us traveling this leg together. We had prayer and then stood in line at security and waited for the flight to board.

We arrived in Chicago on time but then had about a 4 hour layover there before our flight to Tokyo left. I think the 13 hour flight was by far the worst part of the trip so far and it was tolerable. As soon as we took off, they served us drinks and pretzels and not too long after that, lunch (which was delicious considering!) I took a Tylenol PM and tried to sleep. The bad part is that you just can’t get comfortable in a plane. I think I slept 3, maybe 4 hours, all broken up into hour increments.

We arrived in Bangkok late (about midnight) and my head hit the pillow at our hotel about 1am. We got to sleep until about 7am, so that was awesome.

Our flight to Chiang Mai was uneventful and it is a beautiful city. We were on the go all day yesterday with the conference. Last night, I was about to pass out from exhaustion, but it was a great day. We met all the kids in our 4 year old class room. They are sweet...

As I got on th elevator yesterday (which was Mondayafternoon here), my M family got on the elevator too! I was so stunned that I could not speak...just point...but we did end up talking and they are such nice folks. I have a totally new appreciation for the M's.

My eyes have been opened like you wouldn't believe here. I think us in the US are ignorant regarding how other cultures live (unless you have been exposed to other cultures), but in reality, there's not a lot of differences...these people need Jesus just like those in the US do.

I'm missing my Steve and Jenna like crazy. I have talked to them a couple times, but it is expensive to call, so it's very quick calls and some texting. I'm not sure when this post will date/time itself, but I'm writing this on Tuesday morning about 7:30am. It is 7:30PM on Monday night in the states.

Well, I have a pretty good connection here, so I am going to send a few emails and then get to my classroom.

Keep those prayers coming and add to them the people of the Pacific Rim. Will post more later.

From Thailand....



It's nearly time...

It's after 11pm on Friday and I'm debating on whether to stay up or try to rest a few hours before having to get up.

Everyone else is in bed. Poor Jenna crashed on the couch downstairs at 8:45. So much for spending quality time with her before I leave. :( Steve went to bed about an hour ago and now Micah and Gage have gone to bed as well. I am waiting on my iPod to charge because I just KNOW if I don't wait up and just leave it charging, I will forget it in the morning.

Everything except my makeup and morning stuff is packed. Rachel is coming to get me at 3:30am in the morning. I seriously don't think I'm going to get up until 3:00am. All I have to do is put my make up on, zip up my bags and wait.

I can't believe the time is already here. I will do my best to blog when I get to Bangkok and then when I get to Thailand.

I still covet your prayers...

In Him-



Just a few more hours...

I thought I'd better get a post in quickly...tonight is my last relaxing night at home and I wouldn't say it has been all relaxing. I went to the funeral home tonight to pay my respects to the Hutchison family. One of my best friends from high school, Staci, went with me...we met there...and then we stood in line for 2 1/2 hours just to see the family! Yikes!

Anyway, most everything is packed. Well. I guess that depends on your definition of packed. :) Most everything is either in the suitcase or laying on/in/around the suitcase! I have to work all day tomorrow but tomorrow night will be busy.

Several of our group has already arrived in Chiang Mai and we are getting updates. Hopefully our trip will be just as uneventful as theirs!

Please continue to pray for us as I go. Pray for Steve and Jenna to get along and things to go smoothly here. Pray for me as I travel and work with these children.

This will most likely be my last post for a few days. I'll update when I can. Thank you all for your support up to this point.


First Loss...

Today has brought sad news for me. I learned late this afternoon, that my high school classmate, Kyle Hutchison, passed away suddenly this morning. As far as I know, this is the first loss from the Graduating Class of 1992 at EHCS.

Kyle and I went to school together since Kindergarten. We weren't what I would call good friends, but the type of friend you have just by being in the same place for 13 years! Because Kyle's last name was Hutchison and my maiden name started with "J", we sat next to each other frequently through the years and at graduation. Because we went to school together for so long, my mother and his mother, Linda, knew each other well. Later in life, his father took the President's position at my Alma Mater. His mother was a professor at the University I attended, so I kept up with them through my 4 years of college.

I last saw Kyle at our 10 year reunion and he was friendly as always. I remember thinking he'd turned out to be a fine looking man and seemed to be successful in owning his own business. I thought it odd at the time that such a successful and decent (seemingly) man would not have found a mate. However, in retrospect, perhaps the Lord was sparing some wonderful woman the pain of losing her husband at 33 years old (although I do hear he had a girlfriend).

One thing I do remember was that Kyle came to visitation at the funeral home when my mother passed away. She died about 6 months after I graduated from High School and I was surprised to see him (and others) there because I guess I thought no one from school knew or cared. But it impressed me and it's something I've never forgotten.

Tonight, not only do I ponder how short our lives can be, but how precious. And my thoughts turn to his parents who are now facing burying their oldest child which no parent should ever have to do. It's not natural. Kyle had two younger siblings, Craig and Keeley who I think of now and wonder how they are coping with this tragedy. I do not know arrangements yet, but you can be assured that I will be there, paying my respects to the family of the man who impressed me when he paid his respects to mine.

As we enter into the next few days, remember the Hutchison family in your thoughts and prayers.


Birthday Fun

The birthday was a resounding success yesterday. I will admit, I was a little nervous because I felt so out of control with it. The sportsplex does not allow any outside food, so I was at their mercy for the cake and drinks. They provided paper goods and everything. But the kids loved the swimming and Jenna had a great time and got lots of nice stuff. I was a little disappointed at the small number of kids from her school class that showed up...only 5 I think...out of 18. Of course, counting her, there were 6, so I guess that's about a 1/3. Just seems like last year there were more. I guess that's the vice of a summer birthday... Here are a few snaps of her.

This is her and 2 of her school friends Annabelle and Ally. Annabelle's mom was the other room mom this year and they were in class together last year in Pre-K AND will be together in class next year in Pre-1st. Ally's mom and dad knew Steve from his younger years...Ally's mom, Rhonda is absolutely fabulous too (although she somehow eluded my camera the entire party).

Finally, here's a pic of her opening presents...watching her is her other classmate, Lee. Lee and his parents go to BBC with us and they are a wonderful family. Lee is just darling and Jenna told me a few week's ago she was "in love" with him (BIG eyeroll here!)...but in reality, I wouldn't mind if she hooked up with him, later in life of course! They are such a nice family.

All in all, it was a great time and I am thrilled it was. Thanks to all who came.


"The Biggest Loser" and Birthday Fun

I thought the "biggest loser" is the best way to intro this little piece of news...as many of you know, I was in the running for a pretty big promotion at work. It would have been my first shot at manager. There were 4 internal candidates and I found out late the week before last that I was one of the final two selected. Yesterday afternoon, I found out I did NOT get the promotion, but they offered the job to the other guy.

Although it was a huge disappointment to me because I knew I could do the job and really felt like I'd worked my behind off the past 6 months, I was OK with the decision. One of the ironic things was that when the position was posted, 2 of my other co-workers who were really close friends of mine applied and I was very scared about going up against them. I think the world of them both and did not want this to hurt our friendship or our working relationship. Ironically enough, a dark-horse candidate from another department within HR threw his hat in the ring and beat us all out of it.

The reason I'm OK with this is because I truly prayed for God's will to be done. I know the committment this position would require and I did not want my family life to suffer. I know this was in their mind when they made the decision. And I truly think I was prepared and ready to accept the news even if it was bad. I don't know why God kept me from this. All I know is that HE knows what is best for me and for the first time in my life, I am OK with God's answer being "No" even if it wasn't the answer I wanted to receive. We sure could have used the extra money, that's for sure, but He'll provide in another way.

On a positive note, when my AVP told me, I handled myself well and kept my emotions in check (which was a big concern for me because I am by nature pretty emotional). He had so much positive to say about me and some of those things really did make me feel good, mostly because I know (at least I hope I know) that he doesn't say this type stuff if he doesn't mean it. Of course, he could have just been panicking that I was going to get mad and quit, but I think he knows me better than that. I figure, I have one week to make it through and then I'm off to Thailand and by the time I get back in the office, I will have forgotten all about it (not really) and be ready to jump back in and start putting out fires! I think the new manager will be fine and we wil make a great team. My efforts are not going unnoticed (or so I've been told) and I expect good things for my future there.

We have our last team meeting on Sunday and much of my stuff is packed. The excitement is building and I'm glad to have some closure at work before I go. The only thing I have left to purchase is my laptop voltage converter which should work with my iPod charger, camera charger and camcorder charger as well. I am going to have them all charged before I leave and maybe won't have to use them, but I'll have it just in case.

As I said before, my trip is paid for, but Steve's is not. Yesterday we received two $100 checks from a good family friend and mentor to me. I was astounded and wish in every way I could be like her. She's an awesome woman and I am fortunate to have her in my life. Anyway, Steve got an email yesterday that no additional money has come in to his account outside his deposit and the church's scholarship and he is pretty bummed. I know there are two checks at the church waiting to be transferred to Sweet Sleep, but are unsure of the amounts. In addition, with the $100 check he received yesterday, we have in hand, about $250 to go toward his account. My account has $15 extra that will transfer to him but past that, if he doesn't get the money from donations, he can't go. So, this Sunday during his team meeting, he will tell the leader that very thing. If they want him to drop out now, then it's better than waiting until the last minute.

Today is Jenna's 6th birthday party. We are having it at the Sportsplex and it's a swimming party. She is so excited! I'm surprised that she is still asleep. We are expecting about 2o folks (at least that's what I paid for) and no matter what, she'll have a good time. I know she'll get tons of stuff and while it really threw me for a loop having to have it this soon, it's good for us to see what all she gets so Steve and I can go birthday shopping after the fact. As you know, her actual birthday will occur while I'm in Thailand, so we'll celebrate her birthday with us as soon as I return.

Yesterday, Steve and I "celebrated" 11 years of wedded bliss. I say "celebrated" lightly. We worked all day and then had dinner at Shane's Rib Shack and did the rest of my trip shopping at Target...all with Jenna in tow. Tonight we have a babysitter and most likely we'll treat ourselves to a nice dinner (maybe at Red Lobster???) and then probably go back to Target to do Jenna's birthday shopping! I guess after the big 10, then others are just days of the year until you get to 15 and then 20. One of these years, we're going on a cruise to celebrate. Now that's what I call a CELEBRATION!

So, I guess that's about it from here. Seems like I'm forgetting something important, but I just can't think...guess that's what I get for going to bed at midnight (WAY past my bedtime) and getting up at 10 minutes till 7am! I'll post pictures from the party later today (if I have time after we get back and unloaded before our date).