29 June 2010

The Church in Ephesus

I wanted to write this particular blog about the Bible study, the one that Mike and I went to on Friday nights back in Oklahoma. The Bible study has changed in many ways over the years that I have been going: some good, some bad. And just today I realized the full impact of one particular change that wasn't so good.

On our last night at Bible study in Oklahoma, the Friday night before we left to head to New Mexico, Asher was able to teach the Bible study. Asher and Abby happened to be visiting Oklahoma that week and Asher, having been the previous Bible study leader before he PCS'd, taught again. He had a really great study on the Seven Churches in Revelation, in Rev 2:1-3:22. He went through each church and paused afterwards to ask us, the Bible study, which church we were. It was agreed upon all around that we had become the Church at Ephesus, the church that forgot its' first love. Asher than went on the remainder of his study (really wish I had taken notes) about how to get back that first love.

Asher taught on this topic because of various things he had heard about the changes in the Bible study, especially over the past year, from various people, including myself and Mike. Having been the previous leader, he felt responsible and wanted to talk to us about it.

It used to be in the Bible study that when everyone came to the study on Friday night, they were prepared with their own study to share in small group. Somehow, over the course of time, people stopped doing studies, myself included, or didn't do studies as often, or didn't share when they did do studies. And certainly, in my own case, the caliber of studies decreased. We turned more towards fellowship and hanging out and soemtimes only the person who was leading that particular night taught a study. Not to say that fellowship is bad, because it isn't and is necessary and vital to Christian life. That is what movie night and dinner night were for though. Friday night was dedicated to study of the Word of God and how to grow in the Word. The Bible study just wasn't what it used to be.

Perhaps this was the natural progression of relationsips, as we are all very close. Perhaps it was the natural progession of our lives - a lot of us had babies and life got very busy. Perhaps it was spirital warfare. The point is that it changed, and I know for myself, I got lax about doing Bible study. Accountability seemed to have weakened as well, and though some tried to make others accountable, it wasn't felt to be done in love, which angered some, and caused some to leave. Other issues caused some to leave as well. Drama is never a good thing.

In the spring sometime, some realized what was happening and tried to bring the Bible study back to where we came from, but it didn't quite happen.

Asher's study was very convicting for me, and it needed to be. However, it wasn't until an email with a close friend that I truly realized what my laxness, personally, had done.

It had done nothing.

When I came to the Bible study, I learned through the Navigator books, through the teachings of Asher and Joe (mostly) and through Elizabeth, Abby, Michelle and Sarah's small group lessons how to study the Bible. By studying the Bible, I mean reading, memorizing Scripture, using the concordance, taking verses in context using the historical and cultural setting and learning the Biblical audience of the author and how to apply what I learned to my life. It used to be in small group that I would take what I learned, share it and hopefully others would learn from my study as I learned from their studies.

My friend was emailing me about how she was learning all of the afore-mentioned, some she knew beforehand, but was really learning how to use these skills and apply them to her life. Perhaps I take too much responsibility, (I feel it is justified), but I feel responsible for not teaching her these skills that she hadn't previously learned before . . . we had met several times in her home to do Bible study together, we went to Bible studies together, we are good friends . . .I mean that is what II Tim 4:2 is all about, not to mention Titus 2:3-5 and so many other passages.

I don't fully understand what happened to the group but I know that I got lazy and I did forget my first love. Who else could have benefited from our group if this hadn't happened? Now I am no longer in Oklahoma and it may be too late, at least for those I knew in Oklahoma, for me to do what I should have been doing all this time.

To those who remain: I challenge you to continue to do your studies faithfully every week and to share them. If they are personal - that is great, you never know who is going through the same thing. If you aren't doing a study consistantly, and I'm not talking about a study from a novel or a book, but getting into the Word of God, examing, meditating, learning and applying, then I challenge you to start. Learn from my example of what not to do.

To my friend, you know who are. I apologize for not doing what I should have. Please forgive me.

I will end with this:

"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs - he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this." II Tim 2:1-7

:(

I'm really missing Charlotte today . . .

27 June 2010

Whoa! Look at that!

So this morning Mike and I got up and got ready to go to church. We decided to go to the chapel on base first (as in first church here in ABQ). I thought I had read that there was Sunday school at 0900 and then service after that. So we got to the chapel just in time - at 0900. Only there wasn't Sunday school and it was Catholic mass. I briefly considered going to both mass and the Protestant worship, but Mike said no. So we decided to drive around the base and Mike was going to show me where his squadron was and then come back to go to the Protestant worship service.

I discovered a few things on this little outing:

1) Never leave home without your camera! Especially when living in a new area
2) There are a lot of prairie dogs here - they're everywhere!
3) Was that a coyote?!? Yes - it was!
4) Kirtland AFB is huge!
5) The speed limit on base is 50mph!
6) There are road runners on base! And they don't look like the Warner Bros. cartoon either
7) Mike's shop is so "secret" that you have to go through a second gate to get to it after you're already on base
8) There really are mountains on the base, and Mike's shop is located right up against them - about as far as everything else on the base as you can get.
9) Kirtland AFB is huge!
10) It's not really that hot here. It actually felt cool when we opened the outside door of the hotel to go to church and it was only 82* at 1000 (compared to 90*+ in Oklahoma).

So we were driving along on the way to his shop, which we didn't actually go to, just the gate to get to the shop - it's further away after you go through the gate, and I'm looking at the vast landscape (there's nothing out by Mike's shop) and there's a coyote trotting along! I couldn't believe there was a coyote out in daylight! There are coyote's everywhere in Oklahoma, you just never see them because they only come out at night and stay away from the city limits (usually). I guess we weren't exactly in the city limits, but still, it was daylight!

I was definitely regretting not bringing my camera with me. I didn't bring it purposesly too, it wasn't like I forgot it! I looked at my camera on the table, debating whether to take it or not, and thought "Nah, we're just going to church and coming back to the hotel", so I left it where it was. Big mistake!

The service wasn't too bad. We watched a clip from "The Matrix" - not sure how I feel about that yet. The chaplain's message was pretty good, although he definitely wasn't Pastor Mark. (We miss Pastor's Mark's teaching!) There was a small coffee and cake fellowship afterwards, although people aren't as friendly as they are in Oklahoma. (Translate: no one came up to introduce themselves or say welcome or anything.) Although during the service there was a young couple with a 4 month old baby boy who we met. Her name is Stephanie and she goes to PWOC - it was nice to meet someone from PWOC. The way she talked about it though it sounded like the PWOC hadn't been around too long . . . I found out that PWOC doesn't meet until August 25th! So long!! :((

Well, have to go - hungry children. . .

26 June 2010

The drive from OKC to ABQ

















Moving and TLF

 Butterfly being like Mommy with her, I mean my, bag and cooking spoon, lol.
Practicing to be like Mommy.

The moving truck arrives.
Boxes being moved out . . . at least it wasn't raining.

We had 39 boxes of books, not kidding!

Little Man's arrival in TLF (Temporary Lodging Facility)
 Butterfly exploring our rooms in TLF. We had a full kitchen!

Monotony

Well, monotony seems to bring about a decrease in intelligence for me - I even had to look up the correct spelling of that in the dictionary!

It seems like when I got pregnant with Sophie I started losing words - by that I mean I forgot spellings, definitions, even words themselves ... I felt like Sophie was taking my brain away! I started taking some DHA supplements at Michelle's suggestion, and it did help some - it at least helped decrease the severe fish craving . .. well, I figured I would get my brain back after I delivered Sophie. And I did, a little. I have since had Edward, and still no brain back - in fact in seems to have gotten worse! Sometimes I feel like I get my words backwards when I talk or I say the wrong word or the opposite of what I'm trying to say. It's very frustrating.

I've sometimes wondered if it is the lack of intellectual stimulation, at least academically speaking, that I've had since having children - I don't have the time to read as much as I did and I spend most of my days with a toddler who isn't speaking yet and an infant . . . And since I'm not in school anymore, I'm not researching topics and writing long papers (which I actually really enjoying doing). I've thought about writing some essays on my own, but I'm very critic oriented and it's hard for me to write something, such as an essay, without someone giving me some constructive feedback . . . And not in a placating kind of way, as can happen when good friends critique work - I worry about that ...

As far as what this has to do with monotony, I had a point, I really did . .. this week I have been watching a lot of TV, which I really despise. I feel like television dumbs a person down, especially the commercials - what an insult to intelligence and the smart consumer! No wonder other cultures despise us - the amount of immoral behaviors and materialism on television is despicable, even on the "family channels" - and I'm not talking about the shows themselves! (That's for another blog!) I feel like it zaps you of wit, time and energy - and I don't know what to do about it. It is just so monotonous - boring and degrading in so many ways.

Okay, I could just not turn on the television. But there's only so much cleaning and such a person can do in a hotel room! Maybe when Sophie and I are fully recovered from this GI bug, I'll have the strength to take Sophie and Edward out somewhere . . . and now that I have a car, that helps too.

Although as far as taking Sophie and Edward places, at this point I don't feel very comfortable in this town. And I'm not talking about being worried about getting lost. I'm just not comfortable with the people here. People in Oklahoma are so nice, and here I get stared at a lot. I'm not really sure why, but it makes me really uncomfortable. Maybe I'm being paranoid, I don't know. I just feel vulnerable here, especially with two little ones. It is a weird feeling because I used to be so fearless - I lived alone in a ghetto part of Del City (the guys in the Bible study were so happy when I moved). I slept with a knife under my pillow actually . . .and I only heard gun shots in the vicinity three times or so . I never had a problem driving anywhere in OKC alone with the kids. And years ago I drove from Oklahoma City to Richmond alone when I was 22 - I felt safe then. Perhaps it was a false sense of security? Leftovers from the teenage invincibility era? I used to go clubbing alone in Ybor (Tampa) - okay, that was pretty stupid and I was lucky to not have something happen - especially the way I used to dress. But the point is, I didn't have a problem with it. And now, I do. Perhaps because I hold two lives in my direct care and responsibility - kind of ensural of survival if you will . .. So for now I'm kind of stuck in the hotel . . . dealing with monotony. At least when we get our house on base I'll be busy setting up the house and probably by the time that is all finished Mike will be leaving, so I'll be really busy keeping busy ..

And it doesn't help that I"ve been chewing on my tongue at night, so it's sore and a little swollen, so I feel like I can't get my words out right . . .ce la vie, eh? That's unconscious stress for you . ..

21 June 2010

PSC to New Mexico

I turned the page in my calendar this morning, and turned a page in my life. It was as if turning the page and seeing an appointment marked out because I wouldn't be in the state affirmed that we have indeed moved. I am no longer in Oklahoma and am now living in New Mexico. It's a weird feeling that this is home - that it isn't vacation, we aren't going back to Oklahoma.

I drove around a bit today (because I had to take Butterfly to the ER because she has a GI bug - she is ok) and the landscape is so vastly different from anything I've ever seen, let alone lived in. There is brown everywhere - the dirt, the rocks, the buildings, even the people. There are some trees, but they are short, and look as if they are in need of water. The Sandia Mountains are to the east of the city and rise up looming in the background everywhere you go. They are very pretty, especially at sunset where they change colors, turning from brown to pink as the sun lowers on the western horizon.

It's hot here, but not as hot as Oklahoma. At least it doesn't feel as hot. The high today was 96, but it certainly didn't feel like it. It's a dry heat here, another thing I've never really experienced. The sun beats down on you stealthily - if you aren't careful, you can get a sunburn driving 10 minutes in your car - which happened to Butterfly today. It was a little over 4 miles to the hospital and she got pink on the way there. Albuquerque is over 5,000 feet in elevation, the same as Denver, CO, and so apparently being closer to the sun, and in the desert, makes for an easy burn.

I keep thinking about Oklahoma and all my friends there that we left behind - it's so weird knowing that I'm not going to see them again soon. I wanted to cry saying goodbye to everyone, but the tears just didn't come. Except for when I said goodbye to Nathan, Aaron and Jacob - Nikki's little guys. Saying goodbye to them, knowing that they wouldn't fully understand that this wasn't a normal goodbye brought tears to my eyes. I quickly tried to hide my tears, not wanting to upset them. I think about how Nikki and I used to do Bible study at her house and Butterfly, Nathan and Aaron would play together, I think about driving around with Terri and talking and hanging out, I think about Bible study small group with Sarah and Michelle - they have so much wisdom in being Godly wives - so much to pass on to other women. I think about how later in life I'll tell Butterfly and Little Man that they were born in Oklahoma - they are true Okies, knowing that they won't remember their life there. So many memories - working at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, earning my associates at Rose State, starting nursing school at the University of Central Oklahoma, going to Capital Hill Baptist - how M and I already miss Pastor Mark's teaching so much! And seeing the familiar faces of friends every Sunday. The Sunday night Couples study led by Chaplain Smith and Jennifer . . . and the three Joe's there. Tuesday morning PWOC and all the wonderful ladies there - Harriet and Delores and Jeannie . . . PWOC on Wednesday nights with Vicki and Ellen and Karol and Kristie and the others ladies . . Breakfasts with Becca at Starbucks, Pride and Predijuice with Bonny, hanging out with Marilyn watching Princess chick flicks, all the shared pregnancies and so many other wonderful memories. Too many to name here . .. years worth of memories and people that I care about.

Our drive out to Albuquerque from Oklahoma City was certainly not uneventful, to be sure. There was lots of pulling over for the little ones of course- that cant' be helped with a 14 month old and a 3 month old, and once for Jack, one of the cats. And on Sunday the car broke down right outside of Tucumcari, NM - the water pump out of commission. This was of course after almost $900 in repairs the week before so that we wouldn't break down. .. ce la vie, it couldn't be helped. After being towed the mile or two to the nearest car repair place, which was closed since it was Sunday, I walked over to a motel across the street - Motel Safari (on Route 66) and asked if they minded if we waited in their air conditioned lobby for a few hours. The reason for the wait was because M's supervisor was already on his way from the base to pick us up and take us the rest of the way. Gayle and Richard, the owners, were exceptionally kind and gave us a room for a few hours to stay in and even offered to watch the car for us while we were in Albuquerque until we could come back and pick it up. They are the epitomy of Good Samaritans. The car has since been fixed and we are going tomorrow to pick it up. M's supervisor, Wes, and his wife Karen, have loaned us their Honda Civic to drive out to pick up the car. We have been met with such kindness since leaving Oklahoma City - the Lord has certainly been watching out for us.

We are staying at the Hotel Marriott Country Inn and Suites - a very nice suite complete with a mini-kitchen. We will be here until 6July, when we sign the lease on our house on base. As of right now, our address will be Periwinkle Court - but I will wait until the papers are signed and keys in hand before giving out the address. I'm sure we will have a view of the Sandias from somewhere in the house - I can't wait to see where. Because we only have the truck, I have had to stay at the hotel, and haven't even been on base yet . . .I can't wait to see the base though!

I have taken this opportunity to get some rest though. Little Man is still up 1-2 times a night to eat, depending on what time his last feeding of the day is, and I haven't had a nap in I don't know how long. So the rest is nice . . . perhaps the car breaking down is the Lord's way of making me slow down!

So far M really likes his squadron - they apparently are gone a lot though. M is due to leave for two months at the end of the summer to an undisclosed location. The work sounds so cool though! Doing satellite launch support or something . .. I am happy for M. The length of TDY's depends on the mission - anywhere from a few weeks to a few months - they actually did go to Afghanistan for six months recently and were only home for a few weeks between that deployment and the previous TDY of 2 months. It will make for an interesting four years, that's for sure.

Well, I must go - M is home and I need to go to the commissary . . . life goes on.

10 June 2010

PCSing

M has received orders to New Mexico. So we are moving! Let the adventure begin . . .

We actually found out for sure that we would be PCSing the name that Little Man was born. Yes, I am a little late in getting all of this on my blog . ..

I immediately began to make numerous check-lists of things to do. Checklists for packing for our drive out there, checklist of things to do around the house to prepare for the packers and movers, checklists for errands to do around the city before leaving (i.e. picking up medical records and transcripts), checklists of things to do when we get there (i.e. get enrolled in Tricare Southwest, get enrolled in the medical system on KAFB, housing stuff, etc), checklists for pre-packing cleaning, after-packing cleaning, Balfour Beatty cleaning specifications, etc etc. It's pages and pages of lists, literally. I like checklists though because it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something when I check things off of them. And there has been lots of checking off . . . which is good because that means there is progress being made.

To back up, M and I knew about the possibility starting back in January when the commander of the squadron asked M if they could come and interview him. Unfortunately the interview was cancled because Tinker was closed due to a blizzard. So we, or I, thought that was the end. Then sometime later they emailed M asking for his current commanders contact information. When M told me that, I knew that they wanted him to be in their squadron. (He had already sent them his LES', bullets, transcripts, etc - and M has all outstanding markings on his bullets. (I can brag about my husband on my blog. :) ) I got a phone call from M a few weeks later asking if I would be okay with PCSing in May - about two months from the current date. I said yes, I would follow him anywhere, he knew that. A week or so later, shortly after I gave birth to Little Man, M got a call from someone in his squadron saying he had received a RIP (unofficila official orders) saying we were PCSing to Kirtland.

Apparently when you PCS, you usually get several months (more than 2) of advance notice. They had asked M if he would be okay going on short notice, which is why he called me. I am surprised to find out that usually one has 4-5+ months of notice, up to 12 if going overseas. The date of reporting was originally 1 June 2010, but they later moved it to 30 June 2010, which was really great of them. I am grateful, definitely.

At first I very excited at the prospect of moving and didn't feel any sadness or anything. It really hit me when Rob and Terri came to visit me in the hospital with baby Charlotte [from Terri's hospital room since she gave birth the day before] and Terri and I were talking about our babies. I was thining of all the plans that she and I had made for the upcoming summer and hanging out together and Little Man and Charlotte growing up together in their early years and I started to say something to that effect and caught the words right before they rolled off my tongue because I realized that we would be gone. We weren't going to be there in the summer. Then the sinking feeling of moving hit me full on. We weren't going to be at Tinker with our friends any longer after June.

For a few weeks I had a mix of excited anticipation and remorse for leaving. After Charlotte died, the excitement was gone though. To be honest, any positive emotion was absent from my life for several weeks.

Finally, I started to research Albuequerque, where Kirtland is located, and willed myself to excitement and the sense of adventure that a new move brings. It has helped. There is a lot of really cool stuff to do - I think M and I are really going to enjoy our 4 years there.

I am also excited for M for his new job. He is going to be testing satellite telemetry. It is something, he tells me, that he has joined the Air Force to do. He finally feels like he's going to be doing what he joined the AF for. He won't deploy (what a relief), but he will have numerous short (a few weeks) TDY's to various spots all around the globe. I am excited for him in this aspect as well.

The past few weeks have been very hectic getting ready for everything - from various and numerous outprocessing appointments for M to collecting things for me (medical records from at least a dozen locations), getting things organzied, briefings, etc. Goodbyes have already started being said. It still seems a bit surreal however, because I am not packing the house and the packers have not yet come.

Indeed, the PCS season is definitely upon us - two other couple-friends are leaving as well. Sharon and her husband James have left for Virginia and Jeremy and Steph Peltier are leaving for Kansas City, MO to go to International House of Prayer University (he has separated from the AF).

Other families in the neighborhood have packed and left and new families have moved in to replace them. And thus the cycle of military life goes on. Balfour Beatthy already has a new family lined up to move into our home and their memories will add to ours and those from the psat that the walls of this house have borne witness to.

09 June 2010

It's been a while

So it's been a long time since I wrote anything . .. things have been stressful to say the least around here. In my last post I wrote about my dear friend's daughter passing. The morning following Charlotte's funeral, I got a phone call from my friend Jake to say that his wife Brenda had given birth to their daughter Brooklyne (she was 33 weeks pregnant) and she (the baby) had only lived two hours . . . Just when I thought things couldn't worse, another tragic loss, another mom with empty arms. Jake asked if Mike and I would come up to the hospital to visit them, so of course we did. First we drove up to Edmond to drop off Sophie and Edward with Chaplain Smith's wife, Jennifer, and pick up Chaplain Smith, and then we all drove down to the hospital together.

When we came in the room, I was momentarily surprised to see Brenda holding Brooklyne in her arms. I had forgotten that hospital policy is that in cases such as this, that if the parents wish, they can keep the baby for a few hours or a day for closure. She was wearing a butterfly sleeper and wrapped in a bright pink blanket . . .she still looked alive. Brenda asked me if I wanted to hold her. How could I refuse my friend? So I held Brooklyn, and cried and cried and thought of my Edward . .. who was alive .. . Brenda cried too. Chaplain Smith and Mike also held Brooklyn. I think holding my friend's dead baby [especially being a new mother myself] is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I don't really know where my strength came from in those moments, except from love for my friend and from Christ. As I held Brooklyn, I kept expecting her to sigh or breathe . . . it was like she was only sleeping. . . and of course she never did.

While we were visiting, Mike asked Jake how he was doing. Jake replied that since they had a lot of problems with the pregnancy, about six weeks ago they decided that whatever happens would be the Lord's will, no matter what. He said that He knew the Lord had a plan and it would all be to His glory, even if they never saw that in their lifetimes. I was quite amazed at Jake's faith. I have known Jake to be a man of tremendous faith - but wow - in such a time of tragedy - hours after his firstborne child died . . . I was rather speechless. Mike was very moved. Jake also quoted King David when his first son by Bathsheba got sick and passed away and he got up and put on his clothes and mourned no longer because he knew that he would see his son again in Heaven. Brenda was very like-minded with her husband and talked about how Brooklyne would always be there daughter, she just wouldn't be with them in person.

The next day I took Marilyn up to visit Brenda and Jake. Brooklyne was supposed to have been taken the previous evening, but for some reason still unbeknownst to me, she was still with them. However she was starting to turn colors and her lips had turned black. It was painfully obvious that she was deceased. Jake was still carrying her around like she was alive. Marilyn consequently had nightmares from this scene for at least two weeks afterwards . .

I wasn't afraid for Edward's life when Charlotte died, but after Brooklyne died, my thoughts were literally "Ok, Lord you've taken two children from us [us being our Bible study], who is next?" I memorized 2 Tim 1:7 'For the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and a sound mind." It took two days for that intense fear to leave and revert back to the normal motherly paranoia of losing one's child. It took at least another week for the most recent image of Brooklyne to not be the last thing that went through my mind each time I laid down to go to sleep.

Friends from Bible study have gotten together several times for prayer and support and it has really helped to unite us together in Christ. On the spur of the moment, several of us read from passages from the Bible that really helped to comfort. I cannot imagine not having my Lord and Savior to lean on in times such as these. I feel for those who do not have the hope of being reunited with their lost children in Heaven. My heart still very much aches for Terri and for Brenda.