Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Four Years Later

Today is our 4 year Anniversary. Even now, looking at pictures from our wedding I can't help but think, wow, we were really young. I wonder what I'll think in another four years.

We've experienced a lot in four years...

We were married at the end of finals week in between semesters during our senior year at George Fox. After graduation in April 2005 we headed on a road trip to Alaska for four months. While we were in Alaska we decided to apply at Twin Rocks Friends Camp for a one-year camping internship.

During our year in Rockaway Beach I felt led to apply to graduate school, to get my Master's degree in Teaching. I spent the spring taking tests and preparing for graduate school. We left TRFC on a Sunday, and I started graduate school the next day in Salem, Oregon, in August 2006.

During our year in Salem Michael began taking classes to prepare for graduate school. We visited Eastern University that spring and decided we'd be heading back there in the fall. In August of 2007 we packed up the rest of our stuff that we hadn't already sold in a garage sale, and headed in our Subaru across country. We had a great year in Philadelphia, though we had a few heartaches along the way. In September, we headed back to Oregon to await our upcoming internship. In less than a month we will be heading to Kigali, Rwanda for three months, and then....

Whoo! We've been all over the place. It's exhausting just thinking about it. But, we've had fun and grown a lot, and our marriage has strengthened through each adventure.

I'm looking forward to what this next year will bring.
Happy Anniversary Michael!

There's no place to go...

This week we have been stuck inside every day. Not only because of the snow storm, or the "Arctic Blast," as the local news channels are labeling it, but because our household all came down with the flu at the same time.

We've been watching a lot of movies, eating a lot of chicken noodle soup, ginger ale, and saltines, and feeling cooped up inside.

We had our computer in the shop for a few days, and so I haven't been able to post any pictures.

Last week I turned 26. To some of you, that sounds young. But to me, I am feeling old! I used to think I would have all of my children before I turned 30. Well, the way things are looking I doubt that is going to happen. And, that's ok. My plan is not the Lord's.

Michael threw me a party for my birthday. My friends came over and we played games, ate pizza, and had the ever-important ice cream cake. He took me out to lunch and we went shopping to get a few items for Rwanda, including a new backpack and a new coat from REI. I had to work on my actual birthday (I believe that's the true sign of becoming an adult), so Michael made me my birthday pancakes and a birthday white chocolate mocha. It was a great birthday and I felt so loved. Now I'm just old. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm Proud of You, Michael!

In case you didn't know, after two years of school and online classes, Michael has officially completed his MBA in International Economic Development. Be sure to tell him Congratulations!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A black Black Friday

On Black Friday we dared to go out. Why? Well, we had been planning on buying a new camera for weeks and needed to be with my mom to use her Costco card. (We didn't even benefit from any extra Black Friday sale price.) Since we were home for Thanksgiving we went for it.

The positive part of the day was that for the first time there was virtually no pressure for us to buy anything. Both sides of our families are choosing not to exchange presents as a family, but to spend that money by giving it to someone in need, or to some good cause.

On the way into town we were listening to the local Christian radio station. They took a break from the music to recite the Pledge of Allegiance over the radio. The DJ said that we must be thankful and give allegiance to "the greatest nation on God's green earth," or something to that effect. Michael and I exchanged perturbed glances. We both agree that too often blind patriotism is a little too closely presented alongside God's will. In other words, why do so many Christians believe that God only wants to bless America? But that's a little off topic.

Immediately following this recitation was the news, where they mentioned this story about a man who was trampled to death and a woman who miscarried at a Wal-mart in New York at the opening of Black Friday.

We should have turned around and headed home right then. We didn't, but I sure noticed the irony of the greed and horrific consumerism that is so opposite of anything Christ stands for, and is ingrained in the culture of "God's greatest nation."

My heart goes out to that Wal-mart worker's family. (There are some news reports that the miscarriage report is unfounded, though it was announced as news and fact on Friday).

May God have mercy on our American lust for "stuff."

Our own Christmas village

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been collecting and adding each year to her Christmas village. When my parents built their current home they built the mantle over the fireplace with the village in mind.

Michael and I helped my mom set up the village this year. It took the three of us over three hours to put it all together. This is because it's more than just placing some figurines around the buildings. The village has a story, and each figurine is placed to tell part of the story. And of course, as we place each piece we have to explain what is happening, such as the couple ice skating on the pond who have been in love for years, or the doctor walking home from work. Oh, and Amy Grant's Christmas music was blaring in the background.

We took plenty of pictures as we set up the village. Michael and I just got a brand new camera and were having fun playing with it as we worked, so many of these shots are our attempt to use our new camera.

Here is the mantle before we started:

The church always goes up on the hill looking over the town, on the far left of the village. This is the "country" part of the village, with the barn and farms and the houses. Further to the right becomes the city, with the town square, the inn, the watchmaker, the post office, the bakery, the newspaper, the school, and the train station. To the far right is the lighthouse, next to the ocean.

The Village Square, with the carolers, the shoppers rushing home with their presents, the ice skating pond, and the fountain in the middle of the town:

A must-have for any Christmas village: LOTS of snow!

This is one my favorite "stories": This is a mother with her young children waiting for her husband, who has been away for a long time, to come home on the train. He has just gotten home and is hugging one of the children in front of the train station.

The whole village:

I have a wonderful husband who not only helped set up the village and untangle the messy knot of cords and wires, but was patient as he listened to my mom and I explain each piece and figurine to him for three hours. Now that's what I call a Love Gift!


For Thanksgiving we headed to Mill City, Oregon to spend time with my parents. My sister and her two boys came down from Washington, and my brother, his wife, and their two kids came also. The only person missing was my little brother who is in Virginia in the Navy. We had a wonderful meal, with my mom's tasty homemade stuffing. It's the best!

This is my cute niece:

And these are my adorable nephews:

There is so much I am thankful for. What comes to mind immediately is my family, as well as the blessings of community and all the love and support we are being surrounded by these days as we prepare to go to Rwanda. I'm thankful for God's touch in my life. I know that as I trust in him he will continue to guide our steps.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm Thankful

On Wednesday night we checked our email and received our first financial update regarding our fundraising for Rwanda. I have never had to raise financial support for anything like this before, so this is all a new experience. I shared in an earlier post how I have been a bit intimidated by the process. In fact, for a long while Michael and I had been searching for a job/internship that would specifically not require getting support. But here we are in the middle of the process, and now I'm getting to see the other side of the coin, the part where I get to see God working, not only in our lives but in the lives of so many who are feeling led to support us both financially and prayerfully.

I don't know if I can really articulate how I felt as we looked over those first numbers, except to say that I was awed. Truly. I am humbled and so grateful. The generosity and support from friends and family this soon after sending out letters brought me to tears. Not to mention the numerous emails and inquiries from many more indicating a desire to support us.

We are so blessed to have a community like we do. Thank you.

Michael posted a thermometer to track our funds progress over the next few weeks and months on our other blog. Check it out!

Goodbye TRFC Hello Quaker Hill

I've been intending to blog for a little while now, and the blog posts are piling up in my head. I'm going to attempt to catch up over the next couple days, so stay tuned.

Last Monday we headed to Twin Rocks for the last time as camp staff family. This will be the first Christmas since Michael and I started dating that I/we haven't been out to the coast during Christmas break (this would have been the seventh year for me). Michael's parents, Bev and Wayne, have officially moved to McCall, Idaho so Bev can begin a new job at Quaker Hill Camp and Conference Center. On Monday night the camp had a farewell gathering and dinner, and we were blessed to be able to attend. It was special to hear all the ways the Chapmans have blessed the camp and the staff over the years. Ken, the director, put together a game, "Are you Smarter than a Chapman?" which was fun. The Chapmans won, but Joseph Thouvenel gave them a run for their money!

Twin Rocks has been a special place for all the Chapmans, and we have a lot of memories there. I spent three summers there on summer staff during college, and Michael and I spent a year there as interns after we were married. We have spent countless other times there visiting family and friends, and know Twin Rocks will always hold a special place in our hearts!

Below are some pictures from the Farewell. Michael and I also had to commemorate the occasion with a visit to a place on the coast we may not see for quite a while.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This last weekend was our church retreat at Twin Rocks. It was a good time to connect with friends and meet some new ones.

The theme for the weekend centered around the passage in Mark that tells us to love God and love others as ourselves. On Sunday we watched a video from the Advent Conspiracy. (To see the video, click here, and then scroll down to the video called, "Enter The Story.") The idea is to give presence instead of presents this year for Christmas. But it goes beyond that. It's reclaiming the original purpose of Christmas. It's realizing that $10 can give a child clean water for life and that $10 billion dollars is all it will take to solve the clean water problem in our world. Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas last year. So, if every person pledged to buy one less present this year and spend that money on helping with this problem, we could really start to see some change.

Our family has begun to talk about what we can do. Last year, instead of spending tons of money just to buy each other random gifts, we pooled our money together and bought a bicycle for a missionary in need. I am excited about passing this tradition down to my own children someday.

The following 4 points are taken from the Advent Conspiracy website.

Worship Fully.

It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

Spend Less.

Before you think we’re getting all Scrooge on you, let us explain what we mean. We like gifts. Our kids really like gifts. But consider this: America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We’re asking people to consider buying ONE LESS GIFT this Christmas. Just one.  Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season.

Give More.

God’s gift to us was a relationship built on love. So it’s no wonder why we’re drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can’t be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids sledding. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right? Need a few ideas? (Head here!)

Love All.

When Jesus loved, He loved in ways never imagined. Though rich, he became poor to love the poor, the forgotten, the overlooked and the sick. He played to the margins. By spending less at Christmas we have the opportunity to join Him in giving resources to those who need help the most. When Advent Conspiracy first began four churches challenged this simple concept to its congregations. The result raised more than a half million dollars to aid those in need. One less gift. One unbelievable present in the name of Christ.

In what ways do you plan to be intentional in celebrating the true spirit of Christmas??

Our other blog

Round two of letters went out today. It's exciting to be at this point in the process, but it's also a reminder of how far we have to go.

Michael and I are going to be trying to post updates about the process on our mutual blog, which is Part of the purpose behind this is to share about what we're experiencing together and have a place to post pictures and experiences while we're in Rwanda. We both will still use our own blogs for personal reflection.

This may prove to be too zealous, but for now this is our plan.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Soldiers of Conscience

I just read about Soldiers of Conscience, a new film from PBS’s “P.O.V.” series, which investigates the issue of war through the voices of soldiers on both sides of the issue, those who believe in war as just and moral, and those who don't.

I'm interested in this movie, and this topic, because I think it's easy to stand on one side of the issue and point judgemental fingers at the other side. This is where the name of my blog came from, the idea that some issues aren't as black and white as we like to think.

The following is taken from an article about the movie. The second paragraph especially stood out to me:

The film features eight U.S. soldiers and the common ground of their conscience. Each faces the same question: to kill or not to kill. Four of the eight believe deeply in the necessity and morality of war, that the strong must protect the weak, and that war and lethal force are morally justified at appropriate times. The others believe equally deeply that killing is never justified, and that peace can only be obtained by individual stances of courage and conscientious objection.

Basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, introduces the film’s topic. “Kill, kill, kill without mercy” is chanted across a field as fresh recruits begin training. Major Peter Kilner, a West Point professor of ethics, shares the surprising fact that 75 percent of soldiers in World War II never fired their weapons at the enemy. S.L.A. Marshall, a World War II historian, found that one in four soldiers of that war became conscientious objectors. The army decided they needed to fix that, Kilner says, so soldiers are now put through “reflexive firing training,” which is designed to bypass natural moral reaction and decision-making.

But such a bypass will eventually require a reckoning, and Kilner has noticed the emotional and spiritual struggle many soldiers meet once they arrive in Iraq and are confronted with the momentous choice to kill or not to. Soldiers can only kill because they’re taught to, Kilner says, but “we never explain to them why it’s okay.” Nor is there much mention of killing when soldiers come home. “We don’t talk about it,” Kilner observes. “It’s a taboo to talk about.”

And the discussion continues.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Video in Rwanda

My sister-in-law Amy posted a video yesterday about Rwanda. I could have tried to post it here, but I've never posted video before and thought this would be easier. So, for those of you who don't already read her blog, I encourage you click on the link above and watch it.

Watching the video Sara Groves made of her visit in Rwanda brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but imagine myself holding the camera, interacting with the people of Africa. My heart has always tugged when I watch things like this, and I am looking forward to experiencing this in person.

I'm even more excited about going to Rwanda in January after watching the video, so thanks Amy for posting it!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Last week we received our (mostly) official budget for Rwanda. We need to raise about $11,000, and our goal is still to arrive at the beginning of January.

I have never had to raise financial support like this before. When I was in elementary school I remember asking a few neighbors and close family friends to sponsor me in our annual Spell-A-Thon. We also sold some holiday popcorn tins a few times as well. As far as I can recall that is my experience with fundraising. I don't like asking people for money. I don't like owing people money. I am always aware of money issues, such as pooling money for a gift or chipping in for gas. It always feels a little awkward to be on the receiving end, even when it's agreed beforehand that everyone will contribute.

I've had many friends and family members raise support for various trips or longer-term missions. I've heard all kinds of amazing stories about how the funds came in at the last moment by some anonymous donor and saved the trip. I have no doubt that the Lord has worked in mysterious ways and provided in unexpected ways for many of my friends and family members.

Now it's my turn.

And I'm humbled by it all. Recently Michael put a Facebook group together called, "Send the Chapmans to Rwanda!" At first I had a little bit of a bitter taste in my mouth about that. It seemed bold and new. The purpose of it is to keep people up to date of our plans and to raise awareness of our financial and prayer support needs. Again I felt humbled about asking for support (mostly financially, I don't seem to have a problem asking for prayer support.) And then I started realizing how many people are excited for us-how many people God wants to use to send us to Africa-how many people will bless us and be blessed by supporting us.

Our current status is trying to get our letters sent out as soon as possible. Again, it's humbling, it's exciting, and it's in God's hands.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Letter to the future 44th President

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

Congratulations and you're welcome for my vote.

I am feeling a lot of emotions regarding last night's results. I am excited and ready to look forward to what the future has to offer. I am brought to tears at the thought of seeing our country move beyond our racist past. I am fearful of being let down, though I think it will be inevitable to some degree. I am anxious for those Americans who don't trust you to get to know you and accept you, and I am hoping that many of the misconceptions and blatant lies about you will come to surface and be cleared in the next few weeks and months.

I have faith and hope in you, but more importantly, in Christ. Jesus Christ is who I must put my ultimate faith and trust in, not you, Mr. Obama. But I am excited for what your election will do for our country and for the world.

I am excited at the possibilities including healing relations with many other countries and focusing on poverty and the needy, issues I'm hoping to see a lot of change in. (I especially appreciate your emphasis on getting to the root of many problems of poverty and social injustice, and look forward to seeing you do that).

As an educator I am excited about your emphasis on education. As a social studies teacher I am excited to be a part of this historic time. It is a very big deal that you have been elected as the first black president of our country. I see the potential for a lot of healing to happen. There is still a lot of racism in this world. I imagine that my own children someday, as well as my future social studies students, will not quite grasp the significance of this time. Why? Because having a black president will be all they know. I will have to teach them the significance so they will not take it for granted.

I know that you will have a lot on your plate over the next few weeks and months. Frankly, that is what concerns me a little. I'll be honest, I don't think you can do everything you want to do, or have promised, and I don't think it's realistic to assume otherwise. I know that as President you will be more limited than we like to believe during the campaign season. And, I know that the realities of politics say that you will be looking to solidify your chances for a second term even as we are still winding down from getting you into your first, and this means you may make decisions with that in mind.

I worry about how people who did not vote for you, including many Christians, will react to your election. I know I shouldn't worry, but I do. I know that you are a Christian and not a Muslim. I know you value your faith and I pray that you will turn to Christ to lead you. I pray you will learn to value all life, including the unborn. I know you care about those less fortunate than yourself, and I pray that guides your administration.

Speaking of your Cabinet, I pray you surround yourself with people full of wisdom, and that you seek guidance from God-fearing individuals. I'm happy to see you in contact with people like Donald Miller and Jim Wallis. This gives me hope.

I voted for you because I believe you will look to the "least of these" in our country and around the world. I voted for you because I believe you are passionate about helping our country get out of the muck and mess that we're in. I voted for you because I like your emphasis on education. I voted for you because I am a statistic, one of the many without health insurance, and I believe in your plan. I voted for you because I believe you have the potential to be a good, maybe even a great president.

So, Mr. Obama, I pray that you will not forget the promises you have made. I pray that God will use you in ways we can't imagine. I pray you will be humbled by this.

I will be praying for you because you are my leader and God has instructed me to do so.

May you seek Christ every day and in every decision you make.

God Bless every global citizen; we are each created in His likeness.

And God Bless you, as you take on the challenge of leading this country for the next four years.

A Christ-Follower Who Happens To Be An Obama Supporter

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Under Control

Last week I had strep throat and was stuck at home all week on antibiotics. I missed out on at least three jobs, which was a bit frustrating, and now I'm trying to get back into a routine. Luckily, tomorrow will be my third job for the week.

Things are progressing with our plans for Rwanda. We were officially accepted with EFM (Evangelical Friends Mission) yesterday. We're waiting for the final budget, which should be done sometime in the next week, but the numbers we've seen so far, even for a three month trip, are looking like we have a lot of work to do! It's a little intimidating, and scary, but I'm learning what I think just about anyone does who has to raise financial support: God's got this one under control and I just need to trust.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thoughts on Not Being a Patriot

I grew up in a family very involved in the military. My sister was in the Oregon National Guard, my brother is currently in the navy. I have cousins in the army, and a history of family members in all branches of the military.

I grew up with the idea that this has been their patriotic duty, and I want to clarify, right now, that I absolutely respect and appreciate each and every one of them and their own personal decision to fight for our country.

My own journey, however, has brought me to a different place. I'm not sure when I started to really question war as an entity, but it's been happening for some time. During college I studied history and therefore wars. I remember having discussions with Michael about war, and it was truly the first time I'd really heard a pacifist point of view. I could appreciate it, but I really felt like there were times when war was required, especially from studying the historical events leading to many wars. And now I find myself saying what Michael was saying to me only a few short years ago, that we think war is necessary because it's in our frame of reference, it's all we know how to do to handle problems.

I'm not sure if I'm a "pacifist." I probably am but haven't quite come to terms with that label. And to clarify, being a pacifist does not mean you don't take action, or that you are passive. It means you are not using violence to achieve your means.

Pacifist or not, I no longer think war is justified. Ever. (For more on the Just War Theory and Just Peace Theory click here.) I don't believe a Just War Theory exists. War is never just. I don't believe Jesus would have us fight in any war. Yes, there was some warfare in the Old Testament, but Christ came to change that (see link for Jim's blog at the end of this post that covers some Old Testament war issues).

And here's where the ultra-patriotic Americans will have a problem. A few months ago I had a turning point. I was at a family reunion and an older relative was asking me about my husband and if he'd ever served in the military. I replied no, he hadn't, and probably never would (if there were ever a draft, I think he'd apply as a Conscientious Objector), being a pacifist and all. And my great uncle, having children in the military, said (paraphrase), "Well, I guess we will leave the fighting for our freedom to my children," implying that someone needs to do it.

This is where I've always had a conflict. Again, I appreciate that so many feel this desire to keep our country safe. But I've had a problem over the last few years with the verbiage that is used to describe America as God's country, and the pride that makes us think we are better than every other country in the world. It actually sickens me. But as I thought about this conversation a question or two emerged: Who says America must be kept safe (especially when killing others is the requirement)? Where does it promise in the Bible that we will be safe and live in freedom?

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my freedom and can't imagine living in a country where these freedoms don't exist (though I may live in a country like that at some point in my life). But, I don't think it's justifiable to demoralize our enemies in order to feel okay with killing non-Americans that get in our way of staying great. And a close look at the Bible shows that many of God's people lived in captivity of other great nations, and through their suffering God worked in them.

To some, this is blasphemous. Unpatriotic. Crazy and Liberal! But I don't care. Because at the end of the day, I am a citizen of Christ's Kingdom first, then a citizen of this world, and lastly a citizen of America. In that order.

Our friends Jim and Karri (Karri is in the same program with Michael at Eastern) are currently serving in Burundi to fulfill Karri's internship requirement. Jim recently wrote a fantastic post where he is wrestling with some of these same issues of non-violence. Instead of copying the whole post, here is the link to his blog. If you really want to understand where I am getting this idea of non-violence from the Bible, Jim provides a long list of places in the Bible where this is discussed, and also provides some quotes by some of the earliest Christian thinkers in regard to war. I would absolutely love to hear feedback on these passages.

I'll end with one that spoke to me as I read his blog. Why do we think we need to gain the whole world, to conquer and defeat our enemies, for the sake of "Freedom"?

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?” (Mark 8:34-36)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Meaning of "Life"

For those friends and family who are trying to understand some of my views, I found an article that may help you understand me just a little better. This is a link to another blog I read, and this is where you can find the article. The following is from the blog:

The article will be the cover article in November for Sojourners magazine. It’s called “The Meaning of ‘Life.’” For the article the authors interviewed 21 Christians from nine cities around the country, representing 6 ethnicities and aged between 26-66. They were asked about the issues that matter most to them. The key discussion that takes place in this article is that ‘life’ is still a really important issue for Christian Evangelicals and for a majority of the people interviewed here it is being interpreted in far broader than has been typical for those influenced by the Religious Right.

One of the main points includes the idea that being "pro-life" goes far beyond the abortion issue. This is true for me. Though I may disagree with some of Obama's specific stances on abortion, I believe his platform on so many other issues much more closely aligns with my idea of "pro-life." The article also covers war, caring for creation, and social justice issues.

I'd love to hear any thoughts or reactions.

Our latest plans

I haven't posted in a while, but I've had quite a few posts rolling around in my head lately.

With the election drawing close, I have had a few thoughts I've considered posting. I had made a decision recently to stay clear from politics for a while on my blog. I was getting emails and comments from mostly family members who think I've become a "crazy liberal." And maybe I have. It's something I'm increasingly passionate about (not politics itself but the issues). There's something about our two-party system that is divisive and that's when I'd rather stay clear for a while. But stay tuned, I may not be able to stay quiet for long.

For an update, Michael and I are settled back in Oregon. I have begun substituting, though a little more sporadically than we'd like. Michael has had a hard time finding a part-time job in the area. He is keeping busy with his online classes as well as all the paperwork to get things moving for our internship in January.

As of now, we are working towards going to Rwanda in January. Through a series of events Michael began talking with a family in Rwanda about an internship possibility. The Thomas family has begun a development project that will be getting off the ground in December/January, and it will be a great time for Michael to be able to see how things are run in this type of business. We've decided to go for three months. We have to raise support and are in the middle of that process right now. We have a lot of work to get done and at times feel overwhelmed by it all. But, we are excited about this opportunity and are praying that this time in Rwanda will be a time of discernment for us. We are not sure what will be after Rwanda. We're using this time as a "vision trip," in part to see if we may feel called to go back to Rwanda longer term, or to see what other opportunities may arise there or elsewhere during our time there.

I will try to post regular updates about this process. We are excited about it all and trust that the Lord is guiding us in this direction for now.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mitch Thomas

This week I found out that a friend from Spokane passed away. I spent my elementary and middle school days growing up in Mead, Washington, and we moved to Oregon right before I began high school. We had started attending a new church and my parents had become official members at Timberview Christian Fellowship. My dad had helped with some of the building of the new church.

We felt welcomed and at home at this new church, and this was largely because of Pastor Matt Thomas and his family. This week one of their sons "graduated to the throne of God," as his family described on the blog they kept. Mitch was diagnosed with Leukemia in May of 2007. He married his sweet wife in the hospital just a couple months ago. If you have a few minutes to read the blog, it's a wonderful testimony of God's love and grace during a difficult time.

My memories of Mitch are few, but it's been a blessing to be reminded of the kind of person he was by the comments on his blog and by all the support him and his family received.

Mitch taught me to snow ski. He was a couple years older than me, so at the time he was a sophomore in high school and I was an eighth grader, which is worlds apart at that age. We went on a youth trip and he spent the entire day with me. I had never skied before, and he was a patient teacher.

I also remember a time when Spokane was hit with a crazy ice storm, and we lost power for over a week. Mitch and his family came over and we played pinochle by candlelight.

My heart aches for the Thomas family. Please pray for them as they are grieving and finding Christ in all this.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lord, Make Me a Good Steward of Now

This week I went with a friend to her ultrasound appointment. There had been slight concern and she was just getting everything checked out. As we were waiting in the room for the doctor I realized that this would be my first ultrasound with a living baby. This also happened to be very near the one-year mark of my own miscarriage, so I felt a little emotional as it was, and I was hoping and praying everything was OK with this baby.

As soon as we saw the heartbeat on the monitor I began to weep. Tears were streaming down my face and I just got all blubbery. I knew I might cry a little, but my emotions just flooded down my face. I was so thankful the baby was healthy, and to see the heartbeat of a tiny, tiny baby really is a miracle. I'm sure there was some element of me remembering my own single ultrasound when the screen was turned away from me and there was no heartbeat, and thus no joy in the moment.

So, the rest of the day I continued to feel extra emotional. Michael always knows just how to respond to me. We were reading our devotions together, and the chapter was called "Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter." The basic idea is predictable, that each season has different purposes. During the Spring we plant seeds. We are full of hope and anticipation. Spring is important because what happens in this season affects the rest of the year. Summer can be long and tests our perseverance. Fall is when we reap our harvests. This is when we receive blessings that we hoped for during the Springtime. Winter is a time to slow down and reflect on the previous three seasons. It's a time of rejuvenation.

The part that has been on my mind all week was in the prayer that followed:

Father God...May we realize that we must be good stewards of our seasons.

This is my prayer this week, that I may be a good steward of this season of my life. To be diligent and focused and to realize that I cannot skip ahead to the next season, but rather must wait patiently and be intentional in this one.

The final question: In which season of life do you find yourself in?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Then and Now

One year ago today I was in shock.

One year ago today I felt that a part of my heart was missing.

One year ago today I was lying in a hospital bed, in a town I had been living in for only a couple weeks, awaiting an open time slot for surgery.

One year ago today I couldn't stop crying.

One year ago today my expectations changed.

One year ago today Michael and my relationship was strengthened.

One year ago today I had questions without answers.

One year ago today I was trying to understand.

One year ago today I discovered the importance of having a strong support system of family and friends.

One year ago today I found myself relying on Christ, because I didn't know what else to do.

One year ago today we lost Baby Chapman.

One year later I am hopeful.

One year later I am healing.

One year later I am still waiting.

One year later my expectations keep changing.

One year later my husband is still my best friend.

One year later I still have questions, but am at peace with not having all the answers.

One year later I realize I may never fully understand in this lifetime.

One year later I am thankful for friends and family, and getting to be close to some of them here in Oregon for a little while.

One year later I have to daily trust the Lord about our future, and must be patient and wait for His Perfect Timing.

Today, I am remembering our loss. Today, I am looking forward to the future.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We're back to Oregon. I almost cried as we pulled through Portland, I was so excited. There's definitely a feeling of being home for us.

A few reasons I'm happy to be back to Oregon:

No humidity!
The Oregon coast...Twin Rocks
Reconnecting with friends and family
Seeing my nieces and nephews
Chapters Coffee...Stumptown!
Free wi-fi everywhere
Newberg Friends Church
Good pizza (especially Papa Murphy's)
Good Mexican food
I'll be working just one job
Time for scrapbooking
Fred Meyer-Oh, how we have missed one stop shopping!
Cost of living is much less than Wayne, PA
Our roommates for the next few months: (I took these pictures in July...April, Hudson, and Caleb...Luke is missing from the pics)

A few things I miss from PA:

White chocolate mochas from The Gryphon (where Michael worked)
Dunkin Donuts Coffee (not the same out here)
Being close to some exciting places
Being close to some of my family

Hmmm...that's all I can think of for now. I'm glad the first list is longer.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Road Trip!

Our car the morning we left. The rack is loaded and so is the inside as you can see in the next picture.

Chapman, Kansas near Abilene, hometown of Dwight Eisenhower (for you history buffs). Chapman Creek is right behind this sign also.

Driving into the west means we get to see the sunset.

We've been in Colorado Springs since Thursday.

Pike's Peak
(History Trivia: This is where the inspiration came for the song, "America the Beautiful.")

The famous donuts at the summit.

Isabelle didn't have donuts, but I think she enjoyed her sweet potatoes...

We decided to enjoy the nice weather and go on what we dubbed The Family Walk. We even brought the dogs.

I can't resist taking lots of pictures...Can you blame me?

Uncle Mike Time

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Driving Home

We're in Colorado Springs, CO. We arrived here late Thursday night after driving for 18 hours to get here from Indianapolis. We're excited to spend time with Tim and Amy, and our niece Isabelle.

Our last week in PA was crazy, as we were trying to pack up our apartment, take our stuff to Amtrak to send it all home to Oregon, sell all of our furniture on craigslist, tie up all the loose ends, and Michael was trying to work on his two online courses for the Fall (Yes, we keep saying he's done with classes, but he actually still has two more online until December). But we made it, and we are happy to be on on our way. Most of our friends from PA had already left, though not all, and it was sad to watch the community we had slowly erode. It is exciting too, to see our friends prepare for their own overseas adventures.

The next few days and weeks and months will be spent processing this last year as well as preparing for our upcoming time abroad. Michael and I are really looking forward to being back in Oregon and using it as a time to reconnect, reflect, and prepare.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


We are in the middle of packing up our apartment. We leave a week from yesterday, and we don't want to wait until the last moment to pack. We're sending some stuff on Amtrak, and just fitting the rest in our car.

Last night I was going through one of our closets and I found a box of clothes. It was a box Amy had sent me when we were pregnant last Fall. It was full of some maternity clothes, a book about pregnancy, and our first and only piece of baby clothing we received while we were pregnant. It was a little 6-12 months Onesie, yellow, and it said "Tiny" on the front. It was so cute. I was thinking about the fact that it was a piece of clothing intended for a specific person (our baby), and it sort of hit me. We never had an ultrasound (until we went to the ER), and so this little yellow outfit is the most tangible evidence I have that we were pregnant at one point.

I got sad. I started to cry. Michael walked in while I was holding it up. He hugged me. He wiped my tears. He understands my heartache, and shares in it.

This whole Waiting-Until-We-Have-The-Next-Phase-Of-Life-Figured-Out is difficult at times like this, when I am reminded of not only our loss, but the Uncertainty of our future. As always, I am just waiting upon the Lord (or trying to) and learning to trust in His timing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Washington DC trip

Yesterday we headed south for Washington D.C. It took less than three hours. We had a fun day, meeting with my uncle at USAID, as well as seeing a few of the sites. We only had a few short hours in the afternoon, so we didn't see a ton, partly because we spent over two hours in the Holocaust Museum. It was an intense experience, although Michael and I agreed that going to Dachau near Munich, Germany was even more intense. But I recommend this museum to anyone, especially if you've never had the chance to go to Europe.

The great thing about all the tourist sites in Washington D.C. is that everything is free. You need tickets, but it's pretty much all free. If we had wanted to, we could have spent just a couple dollars in advance to reserve tickets. It would be a great family vacation, the biggest cost would be getting there! And, it's educational!

US AID (Agency for International Development)

Stickin' it to The Man (IRS building)

World War II Memorial. This was new since I had been here in early high school.

Another view of the WWII memorial.

The whole monument is surrounded by pillars with the name of all the States and territories. (53 total) We found Oregon...

...and California right next door.

In front of the Lincoln Memorial

In front of the White House. I'm not looking at the camera because there was a huge flock of geese flying right over our heads and I was afraid they were going to leave a present on my head.

My Great-Uncle George. He works for USAID and the main reason we went to DC was to see him. He set up a few meetings with some people who are very familiar with the country we will most likely be going to in December.

Washington Monument

View from the top of the Washington Monument. This is the view onto the Lincoln Memorial.

View of the White House

When I was born my mom worked in DC on H Street, so I took this picture for her. Enjoy mom!