31 December 2009

Up, Up and Away on New Year's Day!

Our time in the U.S./Cayman has quickly come to an end. We aren't quite sure where the 6 and 7 weeks we spent here went. But the calendar tells us it's time to go so we'll trust it.  We'd ask for your prayers as we travel back to Aberdeen on Friday 5pm (Central time) until Saturday afternoon 2:30pmish (Aberdeen time). We particularly ask for prayer that we'll make our flight in Philly that is headed to Heathrow. When we booked he flight we had a 2 hour layover, but our flight got switched and now we have a meare 1 hour and 20 minutes. If I didn't think we'd have to go from a commuter terminal to another one via an airport transfer bus, and if I didn't think we'd also have to go through security again due to such a move, and if there hadn't just been a terror attach beefing up security, then I would probably feel better about it all. I mean, last year we only had a 55 minute layover in Philly and miraculously landed and took off about 3 gates from each other. Let's pray that happens again!

Thank you for your prayers thus far about my health, eating and taking my thyroid pills. I have probably felt better the past 6 weeks than I have felt since I first started getting sick about 6 years ago. The thyroid pill taking seems to be going well and I'm almost up to the full dose the doctor wants me on before retesting my blood to see if we need to readjust the levels again. I'd ask you keep praying for good health as we travel and re-adjust to being back in Aberdeen.

And you can keep praying they let me keep my ice pack on the plane with me (so I can keep my salad with meat cold since it is all I'll get for dinner)! I've had two guards try to take it from me (one in Aberdeen and one in Charlotte) during our various travels. Praise the Lord the doctor's note has saved me both times. I pray that it will continue to be sufficient for these new security measures. We shall see!

To those of you in Aberdeen, we look forward to being reunited! To those of you here, we'll miss you but are grateful for the time we've had to spend with you!

To all: HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (And no, we aren't going to ring in the New Year.  We need our sleep in preparation for not getting any the following night.)

25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

We hope that everyone is having/has had a good Christmas! I know we have. We continue to be grateful for all of the blessings God has given us -- not the least of which is His Son, Jesus.

My parents joke about how there are two types of family Christmas traditions regarding opening presents -- "rip and tear" and "savor the moment." My parents came from opposing family traditions and had to decide early which our family would be. They settled on "savor the moment" -- when each person takes a turn opening a gift and the others watch. We laughed today, though, that Yafo, upon receiving his one gift, instantly dug in deciding "rip and tear" was the way to go.

After he opened his one gift, he snuggled up to Dad and spent the rest of the "savor the moment" ritual like this

While I was given some fantastic gifts, one deserves special mention -- the peptobismol pink Snuggie (actually, it's the Breast Cancer Awareness one). Thank you Mark and Grandma (they both had the great idea to give me one since I'm freezing pretty much always). I've had it on most of the day. It will be perfect for Scotland. Like Mark said, he should have gotten me one years ago. Here's me with both the Snuggie and another blanket.

Love to you all. May your heart have the joy of Christ within despite where you are and how you are celebrating this holiday season.

21 December 2009


Mark has a new name. Superstar. Yes, folks, his littlest fan is pretty hardcore. Today, Alison, our niece came over for a visit. Mark's started coming down with a cold today so was napping when she first arrived. But when he woke up and came into the living room she got so excited! She just wanted to go straight to him. We had to deny her this time so that he didn't get her sick. (The photo is from the other night.) Can't have her sick for her first birthday on Tuesday! But they waved at each other from across the room and she squealed with delight - until he left the room. Three times she repeatedly cried when he walked away. That's hard core infatuation right there. Her poor Daddy tried to see if he could get the same response (because he was the original Superstar and I think feeling a bit slighted), but it seems Mark's powers are greater at this point because she had no problem with her Dad leaving. So at least until Wednesday when we leave, Mark will hold the title as reigning Superstar.

18 December 2009

Virtual Postcard

I'll try not to torture you with too many more paradise photos, but I did want to include this one....a new fav of mine taken today between the torrential rains we had off and on. Take it as a virtual postcard from MO and RO since we don't have enough money or time to send them to all of you. 

And in case you haven't seen the sweet little lizards I took yesterday, see them here.

Without further ado:

16 December 2009

Top 6 Reasons to Love Cayman

Well, these may not be the exact top six (and there really are more than 6), but they are up there.

1. Sun, Sand and Sea (and I'd add to that Snorkeling - it had been several years since I had done that until the other day. It was so peaceful and amazing to see/swim among God's brilliant Caribbean fish. And yes, I did think of y'all and wished you could have all experienced it with me.)

2. Year Round Flip Flop Wearing
(I'm trying to make up for my lack of flip flop wearing the past 2.5 years)

3. Getting to be Auntie Rachel and Uncle Mark
(This is priceless since we miss so much of our nephews and niece growing up.)

Dominic (age 8 - he's wearing the purple jersey with the ball) playing football and winning!

Chad (age 4.5) in his Christmas concert/play today (he's top right behind "Halo-girl" as I dubbed her because her halo was almost always blocking his face making photographing him difficult.)

Alison, who will be one a week from today! We met her for the first time last Thursday when we arrived. She adores Mark (we think because he looks like her Daddy, pictured below, and she's a Daddy's girl). In fact, when we went to meet her, she lunged for Mark before we were even in the doorway! I went to intervene (as I usually do when babies are being offered to Mark), and took her, but she still wanted him and lunged again...he did not deny her request:-) It was adorable! I'll have to get a photo of them together at some point.

4. Washing Dries Quickly (even outside)!

5. Wild Things!

My hunt for the perfect Rooster photo continues.

I was delighted to see this lizard out the car window today, even if he refused to look at me.

Palm Trees

6. Sunsets

Yes, we are enjoying our time - in case there was any doubt.

12 December 2009

Little Buddy

I promised photos of "His Royal Cuteness" but haven't posted any -- mainly because I've taken surprisingly few. Yafi, that this trip I've given yet another nickname, "Little Buddy," has a very funny habit of not eating his food out of his bowl. Instead, he likes to pick it up like so:

And then toss it, hoping some food will spill out. Sometimes it doesn't work, like below, but you can see it is sort of bouncing off of the floor. He wasn't too cooperative when I was photographing him. That was when he chose to actually eat out of the bowl like a proper dog.

Maybe that's why he seems to grumpy in this photo! Not his most flattering photo. Nonetheless, he is still a precious little buddy and Mark and I thoroughly enjoyed giving into (nearly) every whim he had to play tug-of-war or fetch. And we even sometime filled his food bowl when it was empty and he chucked that at us (another very funny think to watch).

I'll also have to photograph him "twirling" for his biscuit when we are back for Christmas. He's quite the two-legged performer/dancer.

11 December 2009

Blast From the Past

Sorry for the lack of silence. I've started two posts and haven't finished them. So here is one of them!

How do I describe the joy of having the opportunity last Friday night to meet up with a friend that I met half my lifetime ago?! The summer of 1995, just months before turning 16, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime -- a 7 (or was it 8?) week mission trip to Honduras. I signed up with Teen Missions not knowing what the summer would hold. Turns out it held a lot - both good and challenging! My faith in God and relationship with Christ grew 100-fold that summer making all the challenges worth it.

Around 30 other teens and 6 leaders (none of whom I knew or met ahead of time) converged at "The Lord's Boot Camp" (yes, it's really called that!) in Florida for 10 days of intense training/preparation. Each team going out had to run a mile or so long obstacle course each morning. Somehow our team was the lucky one who got to go first every morning at 6:00am. And somehow we also had one of the tent sites the furthest away (at least a 1/2 mile). In addition to physical preparation we also had construction-type classes, as well as puppet practice. It was honestly a very grueling 10 days in the hot, humid Florida summer heat (remember I said we were staying in tents!) But in the midst of these challenges some amazing friendships were beginning to be formed.

Our leaders gave us a number in order of our arrival to Boot Camp. You would think after calling my number out a gazillion times I could remember if I was 19, 20 or 21, but I sadly can't. Regardless, it was one of those. The dear friend, Kelley, I met up with last week was number 22. This meant that all summer we were in line near each other as we ordered ourselves numerically. Each time we moved from place to place we had to make sure all members were present and we had to "count off." Anyhoo, Kelley and Josh (who was also near us), kept me in stiches the entire summer since both of them are rather witty and always up for a good time. They, along with many other friends, made the summer what it was - amazing and life-changing. Although many of us do not keep in close contact any more, I still hold them dear to my heart for what we endured together. It was our own sort of "Survivor" experience (except instead of getting to vote people off we had to learn to love each other since we were stuck with one another for so many weeks!).

While I could go on and on and on about this trip, suffice it to say, it was truly wonderful to meet up again with Kelley. Hopefully, since she lives in Nashville and now Mom and Dad do too, maybe we can see a little more of each other.

I had a photo to post, but just realized that I think I accidentally deleted it! Oh no! To see Kelley's cute face, and to hear her version of our time in Honduras, see this post. (Oh, and there are some crazy old [and scary!!!] photos of me on there if you are that hard core and need to see them.)

03 December 2009

Still Thankful

Every Thanksgiving affords a great opportunity to stop and reflect on what we are thankful for, this year has been no exception.

Being back in the U.S. during Thanksgiving after being away for the last two was extra special. We are grateful we had the chance to be here. It was the first time our entire immediate family was together since Mark and I were married. I think we figured the last time we were all together on Thanksgiving day was about a week after Mark and I started dating 8 years ago!

And if that wasn't enough, my Grandma and her husband, Marv came to visit from Missouri for a whole week. This was my Grandma that had triple bypass heart surgery this summer so we were all incredibly thankful that she was doing well enough to make the long trip. We had a great week together, including some time at Opryland Hotel. Here are some shots of our trip.

Two shots of the inside of two of the atriums. And these weren't even the two largest ones!

 There was this nice waterfall with a little bench so we all stopped to get photos (this was the day before my brother arrived that's why he isn't pictured)
My new favorite photo of us :)

There were tons of different orchid varieties, as well as many other flowers. I could have spent a very long time photographing in there!
 Aren't Grandma and Marv cute?!
And finally, Nessy is visiting Nashville this Christmas too!

Another fun time was taking photos of my single, hot bro. Let me know if you have a good, Christian girl wanting to meet him :) Go here to see those shots. I had fun not only taking those shots with him, but editing them. And in case anyone wonders what the haze is in some of the photos (like the first one), we were going for some fun sunflare shots, but it was an added bonus that some neighbors (we took the shots in my parents' neighborhood) must have been burning leaves so there were small particles floating adding a funky texture/ambiance to the photos.

Other fun family times included playing Apples to Apples (I forgot how fun that game was!), playing Smith Family Cut Throat Spades and watching Nacho Libre. And of course being entertained by Yafi. Sadly I haven't taken many shots of him yet. Keep watching this space.

Mark's been studying hard in my parents' bonus room. I've been impressed he's kept working so diligently. But not too much that he hasn't been able to enjoy being here. Don't worry, he's been taking breaks too!

Monday I got to take a long walk with a friend, Avery, we met in NC at my parents old church. Her parents and my parents have been good friends for years now. It was her parents that put my dad's name in the hat to come and be their pastor here. Avery and her husband (and 4 year old son) are missionaries in Cambodia, so it was great to catch up with her. On our walk I saw this sign that I enjoyed.

Last night we got a call from my Uncle Harry who lives in Chicago saying he was flying down for business in Nashville, so we met up with him for dinner. It had been about 4 years since I'd seen him (5 for Mark we decided) so that was a special treat as well.

All in all we have felt and continue to feel incredibly blessed and thankful for this chance to be home during this time.