Monday, June 30, 2008

I found it!

When we went on vacation a few weeks ago I hid some valuable things around the house in case someone broke in and tried to steal our stuff. Do other people do things like that? Anyway, I hid our camcorder really well and have been unable to find it since. Of course it seemed like the kids have been having lots of super cute recordable moments since I haven't been able to find it! Well I finally came across it today - hidden in the diapers! It was such a good place even I couldn't find it there! Now that I've announced it on the www I guess I will have to find a new place to hide it next time!

Officially applied

It seems like over the past several years we have completed a lot of applications and now we have added one more to that list. We mailed off our application to World Medical Mission for their Post Residency Program 2009. When we first decided to go serve at a mission hospital we researched several different "sending" agencies and found a tailor made program offered by World Medical Mission. It is part of Samaritan's Purse (Billy Graham's mission organization). It really fills a void that exists in mission organizations for doctors. They understand our current time and financial limitations and work with and/or around those to help get us in the field. It's a brilliant idea really - help usher people into the places they want to serve overseas before they settle down, start a practice, get comfortable and find it more complicated and difficult to leave. So we have our application in for a spot in the program where they connect us with a mission hospital, facilitate all of the paperwork involved for medical licensure, visas, travel preparations, etc. and provide us with a food/housing stipend for two years while we are overseas.

Sounds great, huh? Well we thought so too! I wasn't sure how competitive it was going to be (Rhett thought not at all, I thought maybe a little) so we were a little surprised to hear that last year they had 40 applications for 15 spots. When I first heard that number I was caught up in the "oh, no what if we don't get a spot" thoughts but then the fog cleared and I realized what a sad piece of information that is. There are 40 fully trained and qualified physicians willing and wanting to be sent to bring compassionate care to people in the name of Christ and there is only enough money to send 15? That is an abomination to Mark 16:15 (Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.) and Matthew 28:19 aka The Great Commission (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .). As the body of Christ we should be ashamed at our unwillingness to accept and fulfill God's commands and plans for taking the Gospel to all nations.

It is usually at this point that people like to pull out the ole "I'm all about Jesus but I'm not called to missions" card but I hate to break it to you if you are a follower of Christ you are responsible for making disciples of all nations. One scripture often quoted to provide comfort is Matthew 28:20- "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age". If you back up a little bit and read that scripture in context you will find something interesting - in it's entirety it reads: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Did you catch that? In order to get some "I am with you always" you have to "Therefore go". This is Christ's plan to take the Gospel to everyone. We are involved in it but he is in control of it.
Over the past several years as Rhett and I have been grappling with our future plans and praying about going overseas God has done a tremendous work in our hearts relating to missions. Part of that is what I just mentioned - How we ALL have a role in making disciples of all nations. It's the last thing that Christ commanded us to do before he left Earth. So what does that look like exactly? It is more than going on a mission trip once in college and checking that off your list. It is more than sending $50 to another college kid so they can go on a mission trip. It's more than making a special donation at Christmas time for missionaries. Rhett and I have come to truly believe that as followers of Christ we are called to either go ourselves or give sacrificially so that others can go. This is pretty radical is a church culture today that breeds complacency when it comes to the Gospel.

At this point someone might say "Well, what about making disciples here in the U.S. ?Isn't that important too? Who is going to reach all of the people at my workplace, social scene if I run off to Africa?" Good point. I don't believe that everyone is supposed to pick up and go (although a short term trip to a different culture has tremendous benefit for the person going in terms of view of the world) but I do believe that if you stay you have to take your job of disciple making as seriously as someone serving in Africa. I think that is really, really tough. It is really easy to get super comfortable in a busy, wonderful American life and get sidetracked. It is most important for you to be in a place where you are having the biggest effect at the fulfillment of the Great Commission- where ever that geographic location might be. If we can have a bigger impact on the nations by living in U.S. then that is what we will do. If we can reach more people by living in the bush somewhere then that is where you will find us. Remember the light that shine the farthest shines the brightest at home.
I know this is a tough issue that a lot of Christians struggle with. I have struggled with it for years! I am challenged constantly by Jesus' teaching and commands to us as His church. I found comfort in a prayer I read the other day by John Piper. It mentioned something about praying that God would lead you in how you could most be effect in ministry in each phase of your life (singleness, young married, young children, school age children, college age children, empty nest). Each of those phases is very different and our ministry may look different at each of those phases of our life and that is OK too. The most important thing is that we are seeking God's will above our own desires.

So the next big question that we are constantly asked is where are you going???? That is another great question and I wish I knew the answer to that one! We find out about our acceptance to WMM in early September and assuming we are accepted we will start the process of deciding where we will go then. Since Rhett is an HIV/AIDS specialist and will be trained in Tropical Medicine I would imagine that we will be going somewhere that he can apply those skills. I've been scouring the internet researching mission hospitals all over the world. If you know of one please let me know - I will add it to my list! So for now we wait . . .

In the mean time we are busy planning for our 2 month stint in Peru next year. I know this is awfully confusing! We will be in Peru February and March of next year while Rhett completes his Tropical Medicine training. So for now Rhett is busy moonlighting to pick up the enormous tab involved in paying tuition and the expenses of moving a family of 4 to a foreign country for 2 months. I'm busy trying to research life in Peru and figure out how in the world we are going to pack everything we will need in 6 suitcases!

So that is where we are. A lot more questions than answers at this point. We know that the safest place to be is in the middle of God's will and that is where we feel we are. Thanks for all of your prayers and support as we start this long period of waiting and preparation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


So last week we took the big leap and got rid of paci. We had talked about it for a few weeks with her and decided that this was the time. I even told Claire that when I was a little girl I had my "Bobbie" (bottle) and I loved my Bobbie so much but one day when I was a big girl I had to say good-bye to my Bobbie just like she was saying good-bye to her paci. I was hoping that with her being 2 1/2 she might not remember giving up her paci the way that I remember being traumatized at 3 1/2 when I had to get rid of my Bobbie. Anyway, we did our normal bedtime routine of bath, books, songs, prayers then she went to bed with just her Bunny - no paci. We kind of held our breath but she did great. She fell asleep and we were so relieved that it had not been as bad as we thought.

The next day nap time rolls around and Claire just laid in her bed and played instead of sleeping. That happens occassionally these days so I figured it was no big deal but was hoping it didn't have anything to do with not having her paci anymore. That night things started slowly going downhill. Let me preface this with the fact that Claire is the best sleeper out there. She happily lays her head where ever we take her and if she is tired she TELLS us she wants to go to bed. She gets a solid 2-3 hour nap and another 10-12 at night. We have come to really appreciate this about her as bedtime is never an issue at our house. Until this week.

In the past week Claire has napped twice for less than an hour each time and has gone to be kicking and screaming each night. She wants us to lay with her, sing with her, take her to the potty, give her water, open the door more, turn the light on, etc, etc. She cries and screams really scared screams. As you can imagine after a week of no naps and not falling asleep until 930 it was beginning to have some effect. She was being very disobedient and just generally difficult. She rarely gets upset when we leave her any where and yesterday she screamed hysterically when she went to school. Her favorite antic this week has been refusing to walk by making her legs limp in public or walking across a street (this is a pet peeve of mine and it absolutely makes my blood boil). I was getting tired of time out and spankings so I know she was! The combination of not having her security object and her exhaustion was just too much. She cried all the way home from school yesterday with her thumb in her mouth.

Yesterday was the breaking point. It had been a week and there was no improvement. We had let her cry it out at night and let her cry all afternoon but it wasn't getting any better. Last night after a loooong day I was getting her ready for bed. We were rocking together and she looked up at me with tears in her eyes, lip quivering and said "Mommy, do you miss your Bobbie?". This caught me off guard because I was surprised that she remembered when I mentioned my Bobbie sometime over a week ago. I told her that when I first had to say goodbye to my Bobbie I missed it but it was OK now. She said "You miss your Bobbie and want it so much". I realized now what she was doing and it just ripped my heart to shreds. Our conversation continued in this code about my Bobbie but eventually we started talking about her paci. It was such a sweet tender moment between us as she shared her broken heart with me.

She went to bed with her paci last night and fell right to sleep. Rhett and I talked about it and decided that she should keep it. We didn't realize how much she was attached to it because it is strictly a bedtime paci. She has taken every other change in her life in complete stride - big bed, new brother, using the potty, any and every occasion that she has to leave us. This is where she has drawn the line. We have decided to be fine with that and respect it. She was trying so hard to do what we wanted her to do but it just broke her and made her so very sad. Up until our little chat she never even mentioned her paci even when I'm sure she wanted it so badly. She just wanted to please us. We are so proud of her for trying so hard to make this adjustment.

I hope it doesn't seem like we have caved to bad behavior because we really think it was more than that. So we will have to budget for orthodontics at some point but we have decided that it is a small price to pay for a happy, well rested little girl who feels safe and secure. At this point we have no plans to get rid of her paci - it can just be our dirty little secret. Perhaps all of these problems will be just "bigger and badder" when she eventually gives it up but we will deal with that when the day comes. The transformation back to normal was pretty quick - straight to sleep last night, darling and obedient today and asleep for naptime now. We created the paci dependence so we will have to deal with the consequences of that dependence at some point - just not at 2 1/2.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The next time you are at the Pediatrician's office . . .

remember this.

This is a pediatric ward at a hospital in Ghana. All the people in the middle didn't get admitted in time to get a bed. Can you imagine being here with your sick baby? It makes me so thankful for our health care system in spite of all of the problems associated with it. So maybe the next time I have to wait for 45 minutes in an air conditioned waiting room while I read a magazine and my kids play with toys I will think of these Moms and realize that it's not that bad. I wish I could carry a picture of this around the hospital with me and share it with certain parents who are overly concerned with the firmness of the bed they are provided or the channels on the television in their child's room.

Back to Nature

We hit the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park one day during our trip. It was Ford's first hike as a Big Boy in the backpack and he loved it! It was also my first hike toting a little one on my back and unfortunately I can't say I did as well as he did. It took a while to get the pack adjusted right (like half the day) so I was sore from carrying the weight wrong for most of the trip. Rhett assured me this was a family friendly, easy, shortish hike. Our ideas about the perfect hike vary greatly. We've come a long way in compromising since the 14 mile hike into a volcano on our honeymoon but we still have little way to go. I've come to realize that I like "Nature Walking" much more than what is considered "Hiking". Key things to a great nature walk 1. a nice flat trail (as in no incline or rock/boulders to climb over) 2. reasonable distance (I'm willing to go 5 miles if key thing #1 is met) 3. beautiful scenery 4. a great lunch. Well, this hike fell short of all of these except for #3. Luckily the kids were much better sports about the whole thing than I was.
Ford just chilled the whole time and konked out at one point. Even the rain (yes, rain) while we were hiking back UP the mountain on our return trip didn't dampen the kids spirits. I had visions of flash floods so the love of my children got me motivated to kick it up a notch to get out of there.

Rhett and Claire going to explore . . . a girl after her Daddy's own heart. I stayed with Ford in the shade and almost lost a finger in a very peculiar run in with a container of bug repellant wipes.
This would have been a great time to break out the picnic basket and eat a yummy lunch but poor planning on our part prevented that from happening. We settled for a generic brand pop tart and warm water then headed for the house. A McDonald's cheeseburger (or ham-a-burger cheese and Claire calls them) was in order on our way back considering all we (I) had been through. Did I forget to mention that Rhett carried Ford in his arms the last 1/4 mile up a really steep hill? I know pretty wussy on my part but what could have taken 45 minutes took 15 instead. My hero! All things considered, I really do like being outside and enjoying nature from this angle. I'm glad my kids do too. Claire loves going hiking and even took her new "Snow White Garbie" on the hike with us.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Trip to the Mountains

We are home from our wonderful week away in the mountains. We loaded up the car (we took the Prius for this trip since gas prices are skyhigh. Surpisingly we were able to fit everyone and everything including a stroller and two kid-hiking packs very comfortably and averaged 50 miles a gallon for the trip. Nice.) We headed up to Rhett' parents mountain home in Bryson City, NC affectionately known as "Shirley Ridge". We planned a few days of just relaxing and enjoying being in a different place besides Birmingham. Rhett's Dad came up to spend a few days with us and my parents drove up to spend the night with us too. A fun time was had by all. We missed Rhett's mom who was at a wedding in Wyoming. The kids had a wonderful time visiting with the Grands and Rhett and I got to have a little rest too!
Most of our time at Shirley Ridge was spent at the table pictured below. We ate here, played here, read here and just enjoyed being outside in the slightly more mild temperatures. I love having an outdoor living space like this. It would be great to have a great screened porch area that we could live in at our house -especially with the kids. They get cabin fever being cooped up inside so much because it seems like most of the year it's either too hot or too cold to hang out in our yard. Maybe it's just too hot and too cold for me and I need to get over that.
So we played and ate and read and waiting anxiously each night for the beautiful sunset. It is neat to be in a place where you can't help but stop and appreciate the beauty of the sunset each day. So many days go by that I don't even think about the sunsetting but up there in the mountains with this view how can you not stop and be amazed at the beauty of God's creation?
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Where in the world is Malawi?

When Claire was at VBS last week her teacher reported several very interesting and funny things that she told them. The first was "My Daddy is a doctor. He's helping people in Honduras" and the second was "Aunt Chrissie is in Malawi this week". Her teacher was a little surprised that a two year old knew anything about such places. It turns out that is just the tip of the iceberg. We have quite a little geography whiz on our hands.

Let me start by saying this started as a joke. We saw a 2 year old little girl on a talk show that could recite the capitols of just about every country. I was pretty impressed but Rhett wasn't really. He was like "Well, sure it's just memorization. Their brains are wired for memorization at this age. It's just a matter of what they are memorizing. Claire can do that". I wasn't so sure but I happen to have a map of the world place mat so I put it out for her to eat on and just for the heck of it started teaching her countries. At last count she knows 24 countries on the map - she can name it when it is pointed to and/or point to it when named. It is amazing how her brain works to make little tricks to remember them like "Italy - it's a boot!" or "Japan - that's where Ama lived" or "Russia - it's big" or "New Zealand - it's broken". You might be thinking those are pretty easy countries to remember. Well we thought so too so we started upping the ante a little bit. Now she knows the likes of Mongolia, Kenya, Algeria, Kazahkstan, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and yes Malawi. It is true that Aunt Chrissie is in Malawi this week so it was just another occasion to learn a new country!

Rhett and I both have a love of geography and maps and I guess she got this gene. It's become quite a fun hobby teaching her new countries and she absolutely loves it! I wish is was so easy and fun for me to memorize and learn new things. My old brain is just too hardened and set in it's ways. So the question is - where is Malawi - anyone? (hint it's in Africa and on the map above but it's still pretty difficult to find!)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Claire's quotes of the day and latest happenings

Claire's been on a roll with cute things this morning . . .

"Awww, Bunny it's OK . . . Mommy, Bunny is upset" Why Claire? "He wants to go back to Disney World. It's OK Bunny we will go back to Disney World soon."

"Soon I'm not going to have a paci anymore. The garbage man is going to come pick them up and throw them in the back of the trash truck with Ford's stinky poo poo."
(For the record all I told her was that soon she wouldn't have a paci anymore. I wasn't as brutal about it as she was).

Claire is very into matching these days. We are working on coordinating colors because we were very monochrome for a while. She doesn't think that a green bow goes with a pink dress because it "doesn't match".

She has also learned her right from her left so everything is now has to be designated "my left shoe", my "right hand" etc. etc.

She has also learned to skip which is borderline hilarious. The only thing I can liken it to is Phoebe running on Friends if that is a familiar image to anyone.

Monday, June 02, 2008

More from the lake and VBS thoughts

Ford had a great time too even though he is working on two teeth that are absolute bears! Hopefully they will pop through soon and give him some relief - poor little fella. He loved his bath in the sink in the motorhome and taking walks with Pa Pa.

Our little swinger has graduated from the baby swing to the big girl swing. She is afterall a professional. I had to put all of my images of head trauma aside and let her go as high as she wanted. She has her Daddy's adventurous spirit which I love. I'd love it more if I had spent the past 7 years taking care of all of the bad things that can happen to kids in the PICU. I have to find a balance eventually if I'm going to survive motherhood.
Rhett got home safely and we had a day to hang out and now we are back to the grind. He is working like crazy this week and we are doing Vacation Bible School at our "old church" (as Claire calls it). I had first graders last year and that was a bit overwhelming so this year I am back in my comfort zone with two year olds and it is tons of fun. It just makes for a long week having something to do every day. I'm also mulling over a message from our new church yesterday about the centrality of the home when it comes to the Gospel. I never do justice to David's message but in this one about the Gospel and parenting he talked about how American families have in effect out-sourced the spiritual training of our children to our youth groups, preschool ministries and vacation bible schools at church. God's design for the training of our kids is very clearly in the home. So why is it that was send our kids to church or on retreats and expect that they will get what they need there while in effect ignoring our responisbilities in the home on a daily basis? All of those ministries are not bad things at all - in reality they are great things- but they should be the cherry on top not the ice cream (that was a yummy analogy, huh?). This year at our new church instead of sending the kids off to VBS at church they are bringing VBS into homes all across the area by having small groups of kids meet for a couple hours a day with small group leaders (both men and women) in host homes. How wonderful to breakdown this wall between "church" and our homes. Very cool.

If your kids haven't been to VBS lately let me tell you around here it is somewhat of a spectacle. Gone are the days of simple crafts and bible stories. Everything revolves around a theme that has decorations that you would not believe and there are sports, activities (electives like sign language, wood working, dance etc.). It's all a little over the top in my humble opinion. What is the purpose exactly? Is it just to fill days for parents and entertain kids? Or is it to genuinely teach them who God is? Most of our day today was spent revolving around this beach theme instead of around any biblical anything. Sure there was a story about Moses but the rest of the day was turtles and fish. At one point the other teacher and I looked at each other and asked "how can we bring this back and tie it into the Word?". The very least we could do is send something home with parents telling them what we learned and talked about, what songs we sang, what verses we learned so they could continue to nourish the seeds that were planted. I hope I'm not sounding critical I never really even thought about it until yesterday and now I just see it. I realize I am talking about 2 year olds here but lets not sell them short. They are more than capable of learning simple biblical truths. I just hope we don't blurr that message with lots of things we think we need to add to make it more "fun".
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Over the river and through the woods . . .

Off we went to Grandmother's house - or Ama as we call her. Rhett was off on yet another adventure in the developing world (in Honduras on a mission trip this time) last week so we took advantage of the summer slow down and headed to my parent's house in Athens. I don't remember the last time we were in Athens just to hang out and visit without a busy weekend involving a football game, wedding, reunion etc. I was excited to come and hang out for a whole week! My first priority was eating at as many of my favorite places in Athens as I could (well the low end - family friendly ones anyway). I ate at the Taco Stand 3 times thank you very much and it was delicious. There is something about the little local restaurants in Athens that is just special. Other favorites are Add's lunch counter, 5 Points Deli, Lumpkin Cafe, The Grit, DePalma's and the list goes on. They may not look like much to outsiders but they are special and I miss them. Anyway, enough about food. We had a busy week filled with many hours of playing with dolls and dollhouse. There is something so special about seeing my little girl playing with my Cabbage Patch Kids and being obsessed with dollhouses like I was as a little girl. On our next trip I want to take her to Babyland General Hospital up in Cleveland, GA. I went when I was a little girl and it was so much fun to see the Cabbage Patch Kids being "born" from the cabbages.
We also went to the pool and the big "Wow" park. I guess they call it the "Wow" park because that is what you say when you drive up and see how big and fun it looks. I also think it is because you say "Wow" when you realize how hot it is at a park with no shade trees or canopy during the summer in Georgia. Claire LOVES to swing. Rhett and I have wondered how long she would actually go if we didn't make her get out. My parents put up a swing for her at the house so she got lots of swinging time in with Pa Pa on our trip. During the middle of the week we headed down to Lake Oconee to go "camping" in my parent's new motorhome . . .
For as long as I can remember my Dad has wanted a big motorhome to go wandering around in. So now that he is finally officially retired he and my mom bought 36 feet of motorhome bliss and are hitting the road. They leave for their first big trip up the east coast to Maine and Nova Scotia in a few weeks. Even with the three of us and two kids it was very comfy - the sides pop out giving more space when it is parked. It even has bunk beds for the kids. Ford will graduate from the packnplay to the bunkbeds one day anyway.
We had a fun filled few days walking around the campground and enjoying being away from the "city" for a while. There was a beach at the camp ground but we skipped it this trip because when I asked Claire if she wanted to go to the beach she said she didn't want to get her feet dirty. Maybe next time little Princess.
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