Search This Blog

Our Family - click the pic below for more pictures

Our Family - click the pic below for more pictures
Click the picture above to see more pictures!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Missed Opportunities

As I sat in Starbucks, sipping my Grande Non-fat Vanilla Latte and typing away at an email for work, a man pulled up on his bicycle.  He came inside, skipped the line for coffee and sat down across from me.  He had a backpack and a bigger fluffy coat.  Both looked well used.  He put his headphones on and chilled out for a while.  The guy had that "homeless look" - I know that's probably really bad of me or something, but I know you know what I'm talking about.  And I certainly don't mean that to be derogatory either.

After a while, he pulled out a plastic bottle of something and a razor and walked to the bathroom.  Coming back a little smoother faced than before, my earlier assumptions of homelessness were more or less proven.  As he sat back down, I really felt like I should talk to this guy or at least offer to buy him a coffee and bite to eat.  "Ok, as soon as I finish my work, I'll talk to him," I thought.  That's the responsible AND thoughtful thing to do, right...offer the guy some food, but after I finish my work.

A few more minutes of typing go by and a friend's dad walked in that I hadn't seen in a while.  We chatted for a while, exchanging baby stories - cute, I know.  But while I was catching up, the homeless man got up and left.  I remember watching him, thinking "no, no you can't leave!  I'm not done with my emails yet!"  But it would also be rude to excuse myself politely from the chit chat to offer a homeless man a drink and bite to eat, right??  Rude or not (more not), I missed the opportunity to bless that man.

I still feel horrible that I didn't interrupt my work for a few minutes to offer that man some food and maybe a couple of minutes of conversation.  I really felt like I was supposed to talk to that guy.  And who knows what it would have meant to him for someone to buy him a cup of Joe and give him a couple minutes of time.

I wonder how often we go about our day and miss opportunities like this to bless others.  I really hope I see that man again, but I likely wont.  Funny thing is after I finished my work, I went to the bookstore to read and found a book by Max Lucado again and he has a prayer ending one of the chapters:
O Lord, what an amazing opportunity you have spread out before me - a chance to make a difference for you in a desperately hurting world.  Help me to see the needs you want me to see, to react in a way that honors you, and to bless others by serving them gladly with practical expressions of your love.
Notice the "react" part in did I.

Where's your next opportunity!?  Don't miss it!  And certainly don't let it walk away from you!

Random factoid:
There are 10 human body parts that are only 3 letters long.  Name them (without google).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sarah's first blog post ever!

In 2005 I decided to escape the stresses and demands of life in the US and travel to Malawi, East Africa to live in a village that housed 130 orphaned children. My role was to help care for, tutor, mentor and play with these children. The lessons learned and friends made were far greater than any knowledge or comfort I could have passed on to the children and others in the villages we lived in and visited. That summer I spent in Africa, my life in the US continued to crash. My boyfriend and best friend of nearly 5 years was killed in a car accident and my other friends and family were becoming increasingly distant due to differences in experience and poor choices I had made over the past few years. However, finding faith in God and developing new friendships in Malawi was the beginning of a wonderful journey I am still traveling on today.

In Malawi I roomed with 12 other “white aunties.” The incredible experiences of living in a rural African village together for 10 weeks created a very strong bond among us, as you can imagine.One particular woman, Hailey, and I have stayed a part of each other’s lives. We share a bond that began through and is unique to our experience together of serving in that village at that time, openly shedding the baggage we had come with, growing in our faith and seeking insight into becoming the women we were created to be.

It is through her friendship that I met my amazing husband, Ira. After returning to the states I went back to Boston University to take a second chance at advancing my education in International Studies and Hailey returned to her home in Oregon to work, study to become a CNA and be close to her future husband, Joseph, and her family. After all that had occurred among friends and family in the US and the experiences and growth in my life while I was away that summer, my return to Boston was extremely lonely and confusing. I began traveling to Oregon to visit Hailey and other friends who I had made there. This became my safe haven, a place of peace and purity I could have never imagined in my hectic life in NY and Boston.

On my first visit, Hailey introduced me to her boyfriend (now husband), Joseph, and his extremely good looking roommate ;) , Ira. We met a few other times on my visits to Oregon and began keeping in touch when I was back at school in Boston. Soon we decided that continuing our relationship would require one of us to relocate so that we were not living on opposite coasts. I was happy to volunteer as my life in Boston was miserable. Looking back, it was this new start in a new community that was necessary to continue the growth that had begun in my life during my time in Malawi. Ira’s continuous encouragement, support and care from the time we met helped me through difficult experiences in my past and taught me how to better love and care for my family, friends and others. Our marriage was not easy in the beginning as we learned to love and respect each other, flawed and broken as we came into it, and then as we welcomed our first child and had to learn how to be parents together.

Today, just a week after we welcomed our second daughter, I am in awe at the bond that my husband and I share and all that we can see which has been orchestrated over the past few years to break us, and grow us, and encourage us to become the people, the couple, the son and daughter, the parents, and the friends who we are today. Of course we still have our flaws and we will always be learning and growing, yet to look back and reflect on how far we have come gives testimony to our faith and to our friends and family who have so blessed us with their unconditional love and support.

Soon we will be taking another big step in our journey as we plan to move to Honduras for about a year. Ira and Joseph have been offered the opportunity to teach at Leadership University (LU), the first English speaking and residential college in Honduras. The goal of the college is to raise educated, responsible leaders for Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. LU is being started by the non-profit organization, Art for Humanity. Art for Humanity “promotes small business development and education so those in need can transition to sustainable self-sufficiency” and bases its provision of humanitarian aid according to its belief in helping the poor help themselves. Ira and I are excited to be involved with an organization that has helped many people to get out of poverty and to lead self-sustaining lives.

Hailey and I are looking forward to serving together again in another country, this time with our families. We will be taking care of our families, working on the coffee plantation and exploring other ministry opportunities within our new community.


Basic Indicators

Source: UNICEF: The State of the World's Children Report

Population: 7,319,000 (2008)
National language: Spanish
Per capita income: US$ 1,800/year (2008)
Life expectancy: 72 (2008)
% of population using
improved drinking water sources:
84% (2006)
% of population using
adequate sanitation facilities:
66% (2006)
Under 5 Mortality Rate: 31/1,000 live births (2008)

Honduras, slightly larger than Tennessee, is the second-largest country in Central America. It's bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Guatemala and El Salvador to the west, and Nicaragua to the south and east. It has a small amount of coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

Fishing and farming are the main staples of the Honduran economy. While some sugar is grown for export, most revenues are made from the sale of coffee, shrimp and bananas. Honduras also has limited reserves of gold, which provide an additional source of revenue. A very wide gap in income and available services between the rich and poor make Honduras one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

Carrying too much Luggage

Ahhh.  Finally another weekend away from work.  Weekends are so refreshing and this weekend I got some work done around the house.  I'm cleaning up the house to put it on the rental market while we're gone as well as sell some of our things to help raise money for our trip.  Which reminds me...if anyone reading this wants to help raise some money by having a garage sale and donating the money or splitting the money 50/50 towards our trip, that would be great help!  I think I mentioned in a previous post that we're trying to raise more than $10,000 initially and maybe a little more for other recurring costs (like insurance and some travel costs) while we're there.

I've already started going through some of our stuff (sold the patio set Friday night!), and realized that we have a lot of stuff.  And some of the stuff we really don't need.  And some stuff you need, like the dresser/shelf thing that stores all the stuff I don't need.  Where would I put that stuff if I didn't have that dresser?  We don't just go buy things whenever we get the chance, but I have to admit there is a fair amount of excess.  I think sometimes we don't feel like we have a lot because of the things that we don't have or the things that others have that we don't.  But that's because we're focussed on what we want instead of appreciating what we have.  I know I can be that way at times.

Before going through a lot of our things, I was reading a book at the bookstore the other weekend.  I think it was called "Travelling Light" by Max Lucado.  Anyways, here are a couple of excerpts:
...the secret of satisfaction.  'The Lord my shepherd; I shall not want.'           David has found the pasture where discontent goes to die.  It's as if he is saying, 'What I have in God is greater than what I don't have in life.'
What's true in jogging is true in faith.  God has a great race for to run.  Under His care you will go where you've never been and serve in ways you've never dreamed.  But you have to drop some stuff.  How can you share grace if you are full of guilt?  How can you offer comfort if you are disheartened?  How can you lift someone else's load if your arms are full of your own....There are certain weights in life you simply cannot carry.  Your Lord is asking you to set them down and trust Him.  He is the father at the baggage claim.  When a dad sees his five-year old son trying to drag the family trunk off the carousel, what does he say?  The father will say to his son what God is saying to you.  'Set it down, child.  I'll carry that one.'
and it goes on to talk about how we can't take anything with us when we die either.  It doesn't matter if you don't believe in God, or do or believe in something else, these are applicable to everyone's lives.  Stuff can hold us back.  Don't get me wrong, not all things are bad, and having a lot isn't necessarily bad either.  It's when we look to the stuff for satisfaction.  You might be satisfied for a short while, but I promise it wont last forever.

So, sell all your stuff and donate the proceeds to our trip to Honduras!

Today, you get some of my random thoughts...a peak inside how my head works all day.  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

7lbs 11oz of pure joy

I don' t remember the last time I cried before Sicily Kate was born on 1/7/11 at 7:59am.  It was such an amazing experience to be a part of that I couldn't help it.  More on that in a bit....With Olivia's birth, I have to admit, I wasn't well educated about the birthing process, Sarah's rights as a mommy, and everything else that accompanies pregnancy.  Sarah and I (especially Sarah) educated ourselves on the birthing process this time after she talked to more friends that had kids and what they went through.  Much to my surprise, there was a lot I didn't know about, and a lot I wish I would have known for Sarah's pregnancy with Olivia.

During the whole pregnancy with Sicily, Sarah did about as much reading and studying as possible about having a baby.  She was able to learn a lot of techniques and rights etc etc about pregnancy and birth to make it the best experience possible.  Sarah chose to have a natural birth - meaning no drugs to induce and no drugs for pain. There were several reasons why she chose not to have these drugs during birth, including:
1. She wanted to let her body do the work "naturally" and she felt that her body would know when it was time to have the baby
2. She wanted to be fully cognitive before and after the birth to be able to take care of the baby and herself as best as possible.
3. She didn't want the baby to be a non-consenting party receiving the drugs, when there is no reason the baby should have the drugs.
Anyways, there were other reasons, but those were the big ones.  And we're both really glad that we chose to do it that way.  As I said, it was a phenomenal experience for the both of us.  Now saying that, I know from the blood curdling screams that it was not easy or painless.

I think because I was more invested mentally and was able to see Sarah go through the pregnancy just the way she wanted to go through it, and I was a small part of the birth (more this time than last), I was affected emotionally also.  Or maybe it was simply the emotions that flood you when experiencing the miracle of life with the one you're in love with, or all that combined, I'm not sure, but the point is, I was crying.  Which isn't the "manly" thing to do (I'm not sure blogging is either), but it shows how extremely joyful I was for the birth of our second little girl.  Enough to cry!  I know I'm joking a little about it, but it really was an awesomely amazing thing to go through!

Why the heck am I telling you all this.  I'm not too sure, but I really just wanted to write about it I guess, and isnt that what a blog is for anyway?  I did want to say again that I highly recommend learning more about the whole birthing process for all the young couples out there that are thinking about having kids.  You never know, you might learn a thing or 2 and it might even make you cry...err...enjoy the experience more!

2 side notes:
1. (This is mostly for the men) Crying for me is like a couple tears, ok, I wasn't balling or uncontrolled or anything, and I'm not even sure if Sarah saw me do it, but they were pure tears of joy.  Don't be afraid to shed a few tears at anytime, it feels good, just don't blog about it if you don't want others to find out.
2. I never know when to use Effect or Affect or what the exact difference is.  It bothers me enough to think about it every time I write them and get a little annoyed, but not enough to figure out the difference...hope that doesn't bother you English Majors.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Ahhh, a new year.  It can be time for a new beginnings and new resolutions...that don't make it through the spring, but usually January 1st is just another day for me.  However, this year feels different to me.  I feel like I have a lot of "new beginnings."  Our baby should be here any day now, which will double our trouble at the house and make me outnumbered 3:1.  (Side note: I am happy to say that Olivia chose to sign up for a basketball class at the Rec Center, so she could play like daddy.)  Another new beginning is our moving to Honduras.  Though we wont move until June/July-ish, we will begin a lot of our preparation for leaving soon.  We must get our house rentable and rented, get rid of some of our household items, raise money to build a house in Honduras, prepare lesson plans, and I must quit my job.  There are other items also, but those are the main ones.  And I also, for whatever reason, feel re-energized for work, even though I can't wait to leave for Honduras.  Maybe it's the start of a new quarter or I'm just ready to get back to routine...and maybe (probably) I will feel different after my first week back on the job, but I got it now, so I need to harness as much of the positive energy as possible!  Anyways, there are a lot new things happening in our lives and we are excited.

All these new things, though exciting for us, will also bring with them extra challenges.  The money raising, lesson planning, getting the house rented out, and other preparations will require more time and energy from us, while we also welcome our new baby girl to our family.  I am so excited for these changes/new things, but please pray for us!  We have a lot of hard work in front of us.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and has a safe and happy new year!