Wednesday, December 20, 2006

herding kittens

if you have never tried to get 7 children under the age of 5 dressed up for a family picture, you really don't know what kind of fun you are missing. it was a lot like herding kittens that had just jumped out of a bag of catnip. anyway, it was a great day with all the cousins together in Texas. georgia had such a blast hanging out with her family and can't wait to make another visit.

the tree

georgia is thrilled we decided to put up her very own tower of toys known as the Christmas tree. full of bells, crystal and a number of other breakable ornaments, she is truly in heaven. as if it couldnt get any better, we turned on the lights. you should have seen her face. anyway, here is a pic of her the other day in front of her new favorite source of entertainment.

mrs. claus

the happy couple with their very own elf.

here is obviously the better looking half of the famous Claus couple riding into town on a bull rather than a sleigh.

Peacefully Unhappy

so, here i am with a digital camera full of hilarious pics recounting the adventures from the past the month. they include my better half in a mini skirt mrs. claus costume riding a mechanical bull at the squadron Christmas party (rarely have i experienced a prouder moment), our sweet baby girl meeting her family in texas for the first time, decorating the tree and a multitude of other everday events capturing memories that we might otherwise let fade. and while i promise to get to those and post them...really, i will, my thoughts are truly elsewhere and have been for a couple of weeks. we found out a couple of weeks ago that pat will most likely be gone to korea for the next year (departing sometime summer of 07) and while there are a million decisions to be made and a number of things to consider i feel like i have got to sit down and purge how i am feeling about the whole thing. i have had countless people ask us how we are. feeling, is what i assume they mean. and while the first night we discussed this likelihood of the year apart, we were not joyful, we were hopeful. we were not excited, but optimistic. we were not relieved, but very grateful. we were not happy, but completely at peace. here is the deal...there is an awesome divine peace that is all consuming when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt Who really runs your life. that's it. ultimately, pat and i are under the protection and provision of our God. how amazing is that. He has never ever lost track of us and our best interests for even a moment and this moment is no different. we anxiously await for His plan to be unraveled and revealed to us over the following weeks, months and years. a few reasons we are sleeping well...
1. how thankful are we to have a year in korea while over 132,000 families sacrificially give a year to iraq and often times much more. how can we possibly complain about this when this is exactly why pat chose to serve and one of the many reasons i fell in love with him.
2. georgia is at an age where she will not remember this time apart. God's timing is always perfect and we are once again thankful for Him planning this at a time when it will be a time marked in her memory only by pictures, videos and letters.
3. it is impossible to work with pat and not know how paramount his faith is in his life. what kind of an impact might he have on such a large squadron of 500!
4. our marriage can take it. that may sound so odd, but there are a lot of families that we have seen suffer and fall apart during and after long periods of separation. we don't exactly know what our time table looks like, but we do know that while we would not choose this assignment, we can handle it. if that keeps someone else whose family couldn't handle it at home, even better.
5. we have never endured a time apart where we didnt experience an abundance of blessings. the wedding day butterflies that most only feel once, we have felt twice. how lucky are we? when pat was returning from afghanistan, the preparation for his arrival began weeks in advance. there were things to be done for such a monumentous and joyful event! as the day of his return neared, we could think of nothing other than his return and seeing one another again. i quit sleeping 3 days before he got back and had lists of a million things i wanted to do to make his return perfect. there were the parties with our friends, the first dinner home, his favorite dessert. so many plans that were so much fun to make. when it was finally time to pick him up at the airport and i walked in, i felt the same way i did when the doors opened at the back of the church. i would not have traded that feeling or that moment for anything in the world. we have talked about it since that time and agree it was the same feeling and we are so thankful to have experienced it twice.
time apart is not something we look forward to, but we have always felt God's prescence and blessing during it. we anxiously await what He will do with this next chapter. and while we wait with the absence of sheer joy or happiness, we wait with an all consuming peace. it doesn't get any better.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

snow bunny

okay, so there's no snow left (although we have had 2 snows in the last two weeks), but georgia is ready for the next one with her fabulous new boots and sweater dress. we were at a banquet tonight on a girls night out while patrick is in virginia tdy. i will update when i can...its been really hectic lately!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dealing with Stress...define "anything"

I recently wrote this article for a newsletter primarily circulated through moms with younger children like me. i decided to put it on the blog after the kind of week we have just had (more on that later) to remind me to continue to put my trust in Him, who is always faithful to keep His promises to us regardless of the magnitude of the storm we are facing.

God offers this bit of advice when faced with stress, "Do not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petitition, present you requests to the Lord." (Phil. 4:6) The reassuring result follows, "and the peace of Christ which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus." How often have we created our own definition of "anything"? If i'm being completely honest, my "anything" has always had a few amendments for those extra stressful situations requiring some degree of anxiousness that i'm certain the Creator of the universe just hadn't taken into account like don't be anxious about anything except that overseas move, or selling the house, or writing at the last minute for a newsletter or getting through one more day of diapers, dinner and a dog that can be far more demanding than my baby or that lump my dear friend found. Whatever the situation may be, i think we are all guilty of making our own minor adjustments to the Word of God when He clearly says, "do not be anxious about anything". While the Almighty gives us countless reminders of how to handle and persevere through life's stresses whether it be plainly stated, "Do not worry about tomorrow" (Matthew 6:34) or for those needing a picture explanation like myself (who happens to selectively overlook clear commands and understands illustrations better) He offers the beautiful image of the painstaking care He lavishes upon even the birds (Matthew 6:26, 27), much greater will His care and provisions be for the children He has lovingly created in His own image! And yet, we as women, wives and mothers who continually transition through our day as counselor, cheerleader, chef , day care provider, domestic goddess, physician and these are just to our kids, not to mention the full time therapist we are to our beloved sisters in Christ, it is easy to forget the gentle reminders and clear commands from our Father who loves us so. Have you ever watched your own child struggle with a task? Whether it be trying to stand up for the hundredth time and falling down or willing the triangle shape through the square opening of a shapes ball? If only they would ask your help, you could equip them with the solution with the love and patience that only a parent who adores their child possesses. As their mother, it would give you such joy and peace for them to turn to you, lay down their struggle at your feet and allow you to take their hands and help them stand or gently guide their little fingers holding the triangle to the appropriate opening. Why is it that we, when faced with daunting stress, continue to bear it on our own when God is watching from above as we grow increasingly weary, frustrated and anxious, just waiting for us to surrender ourselves to Him, lay it at His feet and seek His comfort and peace. It seems like we are more willing to keep it to ourselves, vent it out to friends or tune in to see what Oprah has to say about it than to truly give it the One who can actually give us peace, one that transcends all understanding. I have found that giving all of my stress to and concerns (sometimes over and over and over) to He who is ultimately in control not only gives me peace, but also freedom. It gives me the freedom to be available to sincerely share in the joy or sorrows of others while not focused on my own baggage as well as experience true contentment in my own circumstances. One practical way to shift the focus from my own stress is creating gratitude lists. When i'm running late, feeling stress and willing the traffic to speed up, i thank God for a car that will not break down, a lunch date i'm excited to be on my way to, a child that is healthy enough to accompany me and so on. The list is endless as God's blessings are always abundant when we take the time to think of them. This mental exercise works for all situations when we are feeling overwhelmed and overcome with anxiety. It shifts my focus from the stress of the situation to the multitude of blessings He has poured on me. We have dear friends that we prayed for and with for years as they have watched their beloved son endure a liver transplant, countless ronald mcdonald visits, and threats of rejection and yet, i will always remember them saying that regardless of what mountain their sweet boy was facing, they wouldn't trade it for anything any other family at the ronald mcdonald house was facing. they were able to see God's blessings even in the midst of these most difficult of times. Gratitude lists often lead to a much needed, refreshing change in perspective and before long, my stress is clearly shadowed by my thankfulness. I pray this freedom of laying your worries and stress at the feet of God, obeying our Father and trusting that regardless of what you are facing He had it in mind when He wrote these words, "Do not be anxious about anything" and the multitude of blessings for a mental gratitude list will encourage and sustain you as you persevere throughout your days in the most noble of callings, motherhood.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Working out & Sharing my Faith

What do the two of these have in common? At first glance or maybe to most, the connection isn't obvious. However, to me it is blindingly clear. I have recently decided to take the plunge, join the gym and finally lose the baby weight...someone forgot to mention that i delivered my metabolism with georgia and therefore a change in diet has little to no effect on the fat that refuses to leave my hips, thighs, get the picture. While in college i could put down several high calorie unmentioned beverages followed by orders of breadsticks at 3 am and just eat a few less breadsticks and drop 5-10 pounds, it is no longer the case. anyway, it has been well over a year, (if i'm feeling totally honest, its been about 2) since i have lumbered around a track or spent some quality time with my nemesis, the treadmill. so, here i am blessed with health and the ability to run and yet i avoid the gym. why? the list could go on indefinitely, but several key reasons stick out...i am embarrassed...what if they (as in the complete and total strangers who weren't born with ripped abs and the ability to run for 60 minutes) see just how out of shape i am? what if they judge me and assume im lazy and lack self control and discipline? i just don't want to put myself out there. another reason, what if i stick with it for awhile and then quit? then ill be a huge hypocrite, unable to follow through with what i have said i was going to do. and finally what if it doesn't work?? i know that seems completely illogical, because physics, doctors, nutritionists and my best friend, amy who teaches aerobics, yoga, pilates and works full time at a gym (she's a total expert) says this will work...but theres this self doubt lurking within me. am i really willing to put myself out there, risk judjment or even worse failure??? these feelings about simply going to the gym remind me so much of all the reasons i sin on a daily basis and overlook opportunities to share my faith. It's like i seem to selectively pick and choose from God's commands and the command to share His perfect unconditional sacrificial love, goodness, grace and salvation with others is just an one easy to neglect. why? because i don't do it often enough to feel comfortable doing it. its not a natural part of conversations and so its easy to avoid. while it hasnt been 2 years since ive shared my faith with someone, it isnt part of my everyday or even weekly routine and yet i know it could be, God certainly provides me with opportunities everywhere i look. and then theres the other reason, by opening my big mouth about my Savior, i open myself up to serious judgment. while the defining difference between most christians and non christians is their belief in this amazing Savior, the only evidence of their differences is what they choose to do with their Sunday morning or saturday night. so many believers just check the church box every weekend, go through a few motions and assume that will cover them until next week. no one would actually admit that...what would that say about them, me?? but the reality is that the vast majority of believers blend in beautifully with the landscape of the world. our politcal views may be counter culture, our money may support different causes and our weekends lend themselves to church attendance, but our faith, our real life vibrant faith doesn't seem to have such an impact on our neighbors, friends, coworkers or even strangers. i think when i am given opportunities to speak about my faith, how the God of the universe came in and gradually began changing me from the inside out, i hear things in my mind like "how many hypocrites have they known?" (im careful to not acknowledge to myself the fact that the world is full of hypocrites outside the church too and that our imperfections and sins are what make us in need of a saviour) "have they seen those crazy televangelists?"(enough said on that one) or "will i completely offend them?" and of course the most selfish question..."what will they think of me and how i live my life?" the result is that eventually my mind is riddled with so many daunting questions that the moment passes by and again i have hurt my Lord. here He is, great enough to change me, to love me so much that He died a horrible death for me and yet, i am too fearful to pass that onto someone who is just as in need of His redeeming love as i was when i first encountered it. i find it truly wonderful that Jesus chose ordinary men to be his disciples, to carry on His work for the ages. He overlooked kings, ceo's, politicians, the rich and influential and instead chose fishermen, tax collectors, and regular people. why? so that none of us, ordinary believers, would have a leg to stand on when we excused ourselves from sharing our faith under the "unqualified" reason. what these 12 men had was a profound faith and willingness to be taught by Jesus, to obey Him, to follow Him and to share His message of love, hope and salvation. i recently heard someone say that it isn't just our faith in Him, but His faith in us. what?? He has faith in me? are you joking? the reality is yes. He left His message in the hands of ordinary men willing to do extraordinary work for the love of their King. He had faith in them. and in us. He has so much faith in us that He is sitting to the right of His Father in heaven entrusting us to share His message, rather than walking the earth continuing to preach it Himself. surely if the One who i have my faith in actually has faith in me, i am in fact equipped to speak of His love. and what if it doesn't make a difference? what if i lay it out there, put myself out there as i share my faith and i am laughed at, ignored, questioned, ridiculed or not believed? so what. didn't He endure so much more as He shared His love with the masses? we are not called to change the hearts of unbelievers, we are not capable, only He possesses that awesome power. we are simply called to share it. thats it. put it out there in love and let Him work on their heart. let Him do what He does, changing people, their hearts, minds and souls for eternity. we are simply commanded to be fishers of men, to share what He has done for them and let them decide what to do with that. the Bible is packed with stories of those persecuted for His cause and He never says, "okay, well you're right, it is a little tougher on you than I had originally thought. don't sweat that whole sharing My love thing, just keep loving and serving me on your own and I will carry my message personally to the masses." no. He commands us to share His message, however inept, unqualified or fearful we feel. my thought is that if you had met Him, known Him, and been changed by Him, you wouldn't be able to stop talking about Him. that's who i want to be. so consumed by His love, so overflowing with His joy, so enamored by His power and so filled with gratitude that i can't help but talk about Him. so, here i am, ready to go to the gym, put my out of shape self on the treadmill in front of all those seeminly fit individuals and start to work. and hopefully, while there, i may be presented with an opportunity to talk about my Savior in subtle ways that may lead to deeper conversations that may lead to someone else being changed by His love.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

waking up

georgia takes after her dad in a lot of wonderful ways...her amazing blue eyes is one of my favorites, but it is followed closely by her disposition that follows waking up. i have no concept of waking up and instantly being able to smile or speak for that matter. two cups of my favorite coffee and 15 minutes is the minimum requirement for me to use any words that could be considered english and understandable. so you can imagine my delight at the joy my sweet daughter has upon first waking up. instantly, she is full of smiles and laughter. her dad is the same way, up in the morning and happy...maybe not the laughter part, but im certain if his first thought was funny, he could laugh. i dont care if i woke up to chris rock or adam sandler voice tracks...i would still hit snooze, mumble and hope that sleep would consume me immediately. anyway...this pic is of georgia in her carseat within seconds of her waking up from her nap...amazing, i think.

Devils Tower

We just had one of the best 4 day weekends ever. there was nothing too extraordinary about it, just the amount of time we were able to spend as a family that made it so great. the decision to not go out of town was definitely the right decision and gave us a chance to just relax. the weekend entailed date night, family naps, retail therapy, a block party and a day trip to devils tower. date night took us to a really great new restaraunt for the second weekend in a row and ended with smores and friends at our place. our day trip to devils tower was a great escape for the day and after visiting, its a must see for this part of the country. devils tower (the first national park, i learned ) is a really beautiful place and with its extreme height, unique shape and suprising location, its no wonder why the native americans consider it sacred. we ended up doing the hike around the tower meeting a lot of people along the way (its amazing how many strangers stop and chat to people with a cute baby) and occasionally stopping to watch the climbers (a few of the 15, 000 crazy people that make the ascent annually). how spectacular their view must be! the trail winds its way past astounding overlooks that reveal the vast rolling hills of the area as well as perfectly shaded areas framed by trees and boulders. the sky could not have been any bluer, the trees any greener or the weather more perfect. it was a sneak peak preview of what is to come with my favorite fall days just around the corner. we are already planning a trip back in the fall so we can take in the bright colors of the season from such a spectacular vantage point. it is a perfect place to visit, soak up and thank God for all that He has so perfectly created.


We don't mean to constantly refer to Abe as her brother, but we can't seem to stop and as weird as it is, we have a lot of friends who ask us how her "brother" is adjusting to having his new "sister" here. we are by no means comparing the two (afterall, abe was potty trained light years ahead of the peach) anyway, they get along swimmingly. abe thinks she's fascinating and georgia thinks he's the coolest toy she has. i am certain she will figure out in the near future that while his tail is easy to find, it is not the most reliable when it comes to trying to steady herself.

Pulling Up

georgia has started to pull up and get into everything. certainly, my days have just gotten busier, but i love watching her explore and find new things. yesterday, she discovered the basket with dvds. she giggled as she emptied the basket. such fun.

Monday, August 28, 2006

crazy cute

i'll post later when i have a chance, but here is a photo i had promised. she really is crawling all over the place and we are starting a swim class in a couple
of weeks. more on this and more later.

Monday, August 21, 2006

two many milestones

We had a pretty eventful weekend as a family and it wasn't just the putt putt and coffee date on Friday, the work day on Saturday, sharing the evening with friends and the firepit on Saturday night or even a great morning at church and time together on Sunday afternoon. Nope. Those were fun, an opportunity for us to share life together and with friends, but the significant milestones took place in a far more spontaneous fashion. So, for weeks now, georgia has been attempting to outgrow us. "Us" meaning her parents. The ones who resist every milestone because it means she is getting older. Yes, we are a bit crazy, but unlike a lot of our friends who just tried to get through the first few months, to endure the period of sleepless nights and newborness (and all that it entails), Pat and I have loved it. Truly. At one point I even said, "if sleeping through the night means she has to grow up, then just keep letting us wake up". Recently, I have resisted the longing for her to not change and am trying to embrace the new stages, the ones where she doesn't need my lap and arms to help her sit up. The amazing thing is that I love this new stage too. On a side note, among all of the unsolicited "wisdom" and well meaning "advice" we received while I was pregnant, one that has consistently rung true is "every stage they get to will become your new favorite." I doubted this very seriously, because I just loved the newborn, fit in my arm and snuggle all day phase and couldn't imagine anything more wonderful. Until she smiled, then giggled, then laughed so hard at herself she could hardly breathe, and finally where we are today, celebrating her two latest milestones. On Saturday afternoon, she was again on the floor at the office where we were hanging out with friends (i was hanging out, Pat was slaving away on some intense landscaping with the other husbands) when I left the room for a minute. I mean less than a minute, like 30 seconds. Upon my return a friend mentioned that "oh, I didn't know georgia started crawling". WHAT?? I didn't either. For a week, she's been rocking back and forth, falling, laughing and doing the whole routine over again. Anyway, apparently, she crawled. Three steps to be exact. I was disappointed I missed it, but considered it God's punishment for all the references I had been making to knocking her over when I saw her trying to crawl in an attempt to slow all steps to mobility. (I never really knocked her over and now wish maybe I would have just once so that her first time crawling would have been when I was in the room to witness it.) Anyway, when I picked her up to congratulate her and more importantly make me feel like I was somehow a part of the event I had just missed, I noticed something small in her mouth. I reached into retrieve it like any good mother would only to realize it was a tooth! WHAT?? Now she has teeth? Great, pretty soon she will be running around with a steak in her hand. For the past two months, I've sworn she was teething. All of the obvious signs from the "experts" were there. Some drool (but not the buckets everyone made it sound like she'd have), and of course everything went into her mouth. However, we were missing the fever, diaper rash and fussiness. I'm not complaining though, just trying to defend how I could have missed the arrival of her first tooth. :) So, there you have it. The peach is now mobile and in possession of one tooth. While she is busy practicing her latest crawl technique, I'm busy teaching Abraham how to gently herd babies. Wish me luck.


georgia enjoying spending time with her cousin, mia, during a recent visit.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Merry Maid

Who knew laundry could be this much fun?? Georgia, sporting one of her favorite dresses courtesy of my best friend, Suzy, (we both had similar outfits as kids, even had pics taken in it for preschool) helping me do her laundry. How appropriate that Georgia, too, would have the famous striped dress. The shoes are also some of her favorites, between the toe sandals. She's already learned that the cutest shoes are almost never the most comfortable ones.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Revolving Doors

We have been so fortunate this month to have a constant flow of visitors. The most recent guests at the P&K B&B was the Sutherland clan....Mike, Lyana Zachary, Aiden & Mia arrived from San Antonio for the week just missing the Huff family heading back to Frisco by a couple of hours. We thoroughly enjoyed having all of them here, Abraham and Georgia were entertained continuously and we had a great excuse to visit some of our favorite spots. We made all the usual stops, Bear Country, Reptile Gardens, Mount Rushmore, Alpine Slides, Alpine Inn, Custer State Park and of course our favorite bagel shop, Black Hills Bagels. We have a 3 day break in the company and have friends that will passing through for two nights next week.

Here we are with the Huff's grabbing lunch at one of our favorite places, the Alpine Inn.

Us & the Kiddos at Bear Country. The twins are very similar to the bear cubs, rolling around and bouncing off one another. Mia is right there in it with them, too. So much fun!! The Peach taking in the Gator Wrestling Show at Reptile Gardens. She at least appeared entertained.

This giant tortoise is like 122 years old!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More On Georgia's Special Day

We had the privilege of dedicating Georgia this weekend. Many have asked what that means. Without going into a lengthy discussion or explanation, the short version is we have publicly sought the support, encouragement, accountability and prayers of those present and loved ones far away in raising Georgia to know, love, serve and wholeheartedly pursue after our amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have the tremendous blessing of having our own families seeking the same pursuits. We have amazing parents who love, guide and pray for us continually. We have siblings who model Christ's love to us and to their children. We are forever grateful for the families that God chose to place us in and know that His provisions have been abundant. It is the love of our families and the love of Christ we have always seen in them that led us to where we are today, dedicating our own beloved daughter to the One who generously gave her to us. We are always mindful that He has entrusted His precious child, Georgia, to us to love, nurture and most importantly guide to Him. We will one day be held accountable for what we do and do not do as her parents and our greatest hope and prayer is that our Father who gave her to us is pleased with us as we seek His will daily. We were so fortunate to have dear friends of ours, Kyle & Diana Huff and their sweet girls, Claire & Anna, drive all the way from Texas to be here for this special occasion. Kyle was the best man in our wedding and their friendship has certainly been one of the many perks of marrying Pat. It was great to have them here to be a part of yet another blessed milestone. The beautiful gown was made with love by her Grandma Sutherland and will be a treasured reminder of this day. One lady at the church even remarked, "whoever made that for her surely loves her". I don't think it could have been said any better.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The "It" Factor

I was thinking of a time that I experienced with Georgia a few months back during our maiden voyage of "girl time" while Pat was TDY. She was struggling with pain in her tummy that I felt helpless and quite honestly inept as I struggled to soothe her. Tired, overwhelmed and discouraged, I held her in my arms and asked God for the patience and strength to love her like He would want me to. It was at that very moment, (you're thinking, really, that exact moment, and the answer is unequivocally, yes, at that exact moment) I got "it". "It" would be the profound realization and understanding that throughout my own life, both in the infantile stages of my faith as well as now in the story of my everdays, I have required an extreme, albeit excessive amount of patience, grace and unconditional love by my heavenly Father. How many times must He have been tired of my fussing, crying, or struggling (often times over the same issues) and yet, He never put me down. Never walked away and left me to cry it out, get over it, or reconcile it first. Rather, during these countless moments, He held me close in His arms, close to His heart and poured out unconditional love, waves of mercy and grace and boundless patience. How great is He to draw me closest when I am the most difficult to be near. Knowing that Georgia has been created by this amazing God, in His image no less, and always remembering that she is first and foremost His precious child, I promise to love her with all that I have, with all that He gives me. When she cries, struggles and fails and I am weak, tired and feeling inept, I will let go and let God and overwhelm her with the same grace, patience and love that have never failed to overwhelm me. That is my hope. It is my prayer and I know that while I am still incapable and inept at times, with His love and grace, we will both be sustained.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bunnies & Baths

We have discovered (okay, we've known it since her first bath) that Georgia loves the water. There have been times that when she was fussy, we would simply put her in the tub and she would immediately calm down and start playing. We thought we should snap a few pics of her enjoying one of her favorite times. What girl wouldn't love a great bath followed by a relaxing lavender massage before slipping into your favorite bathrobe with matching slippers??

The Sweet Peach Tries Some Sweet Peas

So six months have flown by and georgia is ready for something other than the tasty rice cereal cuisine. We started off with sweet peas last night, fully prepared for her to spit them out (similar to her first month with rice cereal) and were suprised when she inhaled the entire container. Hmm, makes you think the rice cereal really must be terrible. It was like she, too, had been counting the weeks until she was finally offered something better. I resisted every urge to give her sweet potatoes as her first vegetable. A girl has got to love her carbs and is there a healthier carb than the sweet potato?? I mean other than fruit, etc?? Anyway, those will come sooner than later, but today is another day of peas. Yummy.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Outstanding ORI Party

For those of you that are unfamiliar with what an ORI is in the military, I'll give you the civilian version (its the only one i know). In a nutshell its an extremely stressful inspection done very infrequently that will cost the active duty person countless hours of sleep and months of stress leading up to it. (Pat may add more to this later). Anyway, Ellsworth has practiced for this ORI 6 times over the last year. It has been a long year for Pat and everyone else preparing for this monumental week. With every passing day into the inspection, Pat's load grew lighter and lighter as he saw his flight not just endure the long hours of hard work, but thrive and excel at it. They accomplished a great achievement, the highest possible rating a flight can be given, an Outstanding, the first for any intel flight in the past 3 years. The hard work, the countless hours of preparation have paid off. I am so happy for and proud of Pat. He not only works hard, but sincerely cares for the people he works with and wants to see each of them excel individually and as a team. To celebrate the achievement, we hosted a huge party at our place with over 70 people attending. We bashed Kim Chong Il's head in and watched him spit out liquor and candy. We ate a record amount of mexican food (I got smart and had it catered) and we all enjoyed an abundance of margaritas. It was a really great time and we were happy to be able to host the night.

Here is one of the lieutenants taking a swing at the Chonger. (the rope broke at this point and we were simply pitching it)
Here is one view of the friendly dictator. Here is one shot of the folks watching the pinata bashing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

More Hills Alive...

We were able to take a picnic and go hear Third Day on Saturday night. We met up with friends, but once the band started, we gave up our prime spot and headed to the back of the park. We thought it was a little too loud that close to the stage for our little peach. Anyway, our friend, Paul, took the band around to see the sites for the day and confirmed they really are genuinely nice and apparently really really smart. They are actively funding and participating in some great relief work in Africa. Speaking of Africa, if you have not already signed up at, get smart on it and consider getting involved. We heard a great message in church yesterday studying the question, Does God Care? The obvious answer is of course, yes He cares. But the reality is, while He cares very deeply about the hardships we individually face on a personal level as well as global atrocities and suffering, He desires to help us help one another. Similar to when He came to Moses and offered to help him rescue His people out of slavery, He is eagerly waiting to partner with each of us to make a difference, an impact, a positive change in the creation He loves. I could blog about this for awhile, but I won't. Just suffice it to say, Paul did a great job encouraging us to continue to look for opportunities to partner with the Almighty and share with everyone just how much our God, who by His very nature is love, does in fact care.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hills Alive 2006

There is an amazing free 3 day concert series here in Rapid City every year and we were able to check out some of it last night. We had heard really great things about it last year, but were unable to attend as I was one with the couch and Pat was new and swamped at work. Now he's just swamped at work and not new. :) We figured it is exactly what we needed the night before thier huge ORI kicks off and a great way to spend some family time together. After grabbing some sandwiches, we met some friends and had dinner in the park where we heard a great band, a comedian and Coach McCartney, former head coach of Colorado and founder of Promise Keepers. We are hoping to go tonight to see Third Day, Mark Shulz and Newsboys.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Blessed Be

So, it is Sunday evening and the weekend has slipped by in record time. However, in spite of it flying by, Thursday seems like an eternity ago. I'll cut to it, Pat and I had our first incident with Georgia being sick. Initially, I would follow that up with "really" sick, but after a brief minute of thought, I realize just how ridiculous that sounds. On Thursday evening after putting her down for the night, she awoke with a scream followed by 45 minutes of inconsolable crying. A traumatic first for both of us. She fell asleep again and slept for just 2 hours before awaking this time with a fever and severe vomitting. After calling the doctor, we decided to take her to the ER to make sure she wasn't dehydrated. After a couple of hours there, with encouraging news, (she was simply fighting some respiratory issues), we headed home and continued the sleepless night. On Friday, I just felt like it would be best for her pediatrician to check her out. After looking at her, her doctor ordered an x-ray to rule out pneumonia, a blood draw to test the white blood cell count and two shots of antibiotics to help her fight whatever was going on. After wrapping her in a straight jacket type sheet with only her little arm left out, they asked me to hold her face still in my hands while they attempted to find her vein. We both wept together as they tried in vain and ultimately drained the blood from her big toe. This is something I know she will never remember and I will never forget. As the nurses left the exam room and I held her close, my prayer as we both cried was not for healing, but for thanks. Thank you, God, that she is over 5 months old and has never had a blood draw before. Thank you, God, for her health and her joy. Thank you for blessing us with such extraordinary health that 2 hours in a doctor's office is all we've spent. How my heart aches for the parents all over in hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses dealing with real illness. In the 20 minutes I waited for test results, I thought of our amazing friends, the Harasimowisz family and wondered how many hundreds of times they have waited and wondered, prayerfully anticipating God's miraculous works in their son, Joshua. Yes, we have had a long weekend, one of utter joy and thanksgiving that it is simply a weekend and that we are blessed with health.

Whoa Es Me

I couldn't help but snap this photo of our little peach and her dad. She would be able to hold her own bottle by now if she didn't strike this pose everytime she ate. Regardless of how tired or hungry she actually is, her hands are always up over her eyes when she eats. It must just be exhausting to be her. :)

Happy 4th and What Not

So we had a fantastic 4th of July wishing America a happy birthday. We ended up hanging out at a bbq with some friends from the office and learned that you should not use a duraflame log to roast marshmallows. Of course we read the package complete with all warnings after putting down a record number of smores off the firepit and dangerous log. oops.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New Baby for the Spencer's!

Nick, Nikki and Emily Spencer now have a new, long awaited, much anticipated addition to their family. Noah Spencer has now arrived and we could not be any happier for their newest blessing. Nikki and i have known each other since high school and have spent many days praying for a little one. now he has arrived. how thankful are we!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Badlands Not So Bad

In an attempt to create some 4th of July family traditions, we decided to visit a national park and check out some of the diverse landscape this country has to offer. Pat has been wanting to visit the Badlands for quite awhile and I was admittedly reluctant...the name doesn't exactly conjer up warm fuzzies within me, nor does the fact it was in Starship Troopers, (a fact Pat proudly revealed on the way)entice me. However, it's family weekend and the planner for Sunday was Pat and he had Badlands on the brain, so off we went. Wow. Was I ever weak sauce. What a cool place! Once I moved beyond the memory of my geology professor raving about it, I really loved it. We have been truly fortunate to see so much of this country and its breathtaking diversity. God is truly a God of wonders! How great is He to create so much beauty for us to see. So, Badlands, not so bad. Actually, really really good.

Walking the Dog

Georgia is already practicing how she will walk her brother, Abraham. We have been amazed, although not suprised at just how gentle and wonderful he is with her. She can't seem to take her eyes off of him and is constantly reaching for him and laughing. I think Georgia thinks he's a pony. We have been teaching her that he's more of a "dony"

Daddy and Georgia

are they not the cutest? I could watch the two of them for hours. How thankful am I that he is here for these special moments with his little girl while so many are away from theirs. we are truly blessed.

Canyon Lake Park

So, with 4 days of family time at hand, we thought we had better make the best of it. We kicked off our Happy Birthday, America weekend with a picnic lunch at Canyon Lake Park.