Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy spring!

Hello, just a note to say "Spring is here!" A cold front blew in yesterday, that one from Colorado, I believe. We had some rain and even a dusting of snow overnight! Spring is certainly back now though. The strong winds are pushing the clouds and cold right past us. It is warming up and the green leaves on the trees are dazzling in the sunshine right now. Can you believe Easter is only two weeks away?! Are there signs of spring where you live?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Remembering God

The Bible study I am in has been so good. We are using a Beth Moore study called Believing God, and, packed with solid scripture, it is so useful in opening your heart and helping you know God more and more. It is hard to even put into words what I have experienced with and because of God over these past two months. I can't help but try to put it into words though because I desperately want this for you, too.

The part of the study on my heart this morning is about remembering God. Beth writes: "You have not gotten this far in your journey with God without His footprints planted all over your path and without His fingerprints all over the doorknobs to every new season. You have not arrived accidentally in your present place on the map of your Holy Land. You have had an amazing ride with God, whether or not you realize it." This is true for all of us.

God is always with us, and has been always with us, even when we haven't realized his presence (Isn't this amazing!?). Many of us have experienced great wrongs and sorrows in our past that we carry with us everyday. We don't necessarily think of them constantly, but they are the things that sting when something happens to remind us of them. Then they weigh us down and sadden us right down to our marrow, but they don't have to.

Through exercises in this study, it has been very healing for me to reframe my memories with God in the picture. He was there, and the events were part of a larger plan. Remembering this changes my heart from downcast to encouraged! In particular, as today is the second anniversary of Dad's passing on, I want to share with you the way I have reframed my memories about Dad that have caused me the most pain.

Dad's leaving and drug use: Dad was searching for God and finding him over and over again. This was his cycle of behavior just like I have one (Mine seems to go like this: ordinary life and going through the motions happily, disaster, call on God, God rescues me and I live abundantly, back to the beginning). When Dad died, he was at a peak of belief. He knew God, believed Him, and was prepared to live in heaven.

Not seeing Dad much at Christmas (2006): I don't think I've ever told this to anyone before, except God, but when we were home in December 2006 for Christmas and our wedding, I have been feeling like I really screwed up. I didn't get to see Dad as much as I wanted because we were so busy with wedding things. The day after our wedding, we opened wedding presents at Mike and Cindy's house. Dad didn't come because he wasn't feeling well. Later that day I came home for a little bit and I remember that when I came inside Dad and Tara (one of my bridesmaids) were talking and laughing in the living room. I was jealous. We were heading out for New Year's Eve though. I saw Dad for only a little while the next day before Matt and I drove back to Texas. I have been bitter about this because it was the last time I saw Dad. This still really hurts, but I can put a new frame on that picture. With God, I know Dad didn't mind that I wasn't there with him. Of course he would have liked me to be there, but it was the day after our wedding. He was happy for me. God was the only one in the room who knew it would be the last time we'd see each other.

Saying goodbye to Dad: Even though I didn't make it home in time to talk to Dad, we were able to say goodbye to each other on the phone. We both know the purity of unconditional love that was present then. It includes forgiveness. Saying (shouting really because it was hard for him to hear me), "I love you, Dad!" and him saying, "I love you, Brooke!" erased all the bad and brought forth all the good experiences together.

Dad's passing on: Dad lived life. The cancer took his body, but certainly not his heart, mind, or soul. Dad had endured enough of this world. God chose to bring him home, and he died in a way that would forever impact (for good) the lives of those who love him and knew him.

All this was for good. God began a good work in Dad and completed it. He also begins good works in me and you and will complete them.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:11-12

Praise be to God!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To the boneyard

A few weeks ago Matt had the opportunity to take a Tweet to the boneyard. The boneyard is a place set aside for retired aircraft. Many of them are models that have been discontinued and replaced with something new or were too old to fly anymore. The Tweet is both.

Matt and a fellow IP flew to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ to lay this jet to rest. They get a little sentimental about this sort of thing, so they had to take some classic "hero" shots to show how proud they were of their plane.

There are rows upon rows of planes at the boneyard. They are essentially preserved in the desert and are flyable, should the military need them or their parts at a later date. The jet Matt flew there would be added to the ranks, but he was told it was being sold to Pakistan.

The Banshees are the last of all the UPT bases to switch to the new plane, the T-6 Texan II. The reason they are last is because it took a while for the other NATO countries involved in ENJJPT to sign off on a turbo-prop versus fully jet airplane. Matt is currently in T-6 transition (meaning he is TDY in San Antonio learning to fly the thing) along with a number of other guys and gals from Sheppard. The T-6 certainly has its advantages and disadvantages compared to the T-37, but it should be good in the long run.

In case you were wondering, yes, these pictures are all legal.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!!

Today would be Dad's 50th birthday! Can you believe it? Dad always seemed so young that 50 doesn't seem possible. Not that 50 is ancient. I don't mean to offend anybody. You know what I mean:) By the way, I still don't know whether to say "is his 50th birthday" or "would be his 50th birthday". If anyone figures this one out, feel free to let me in on it.

I believe this picture of Dad was taken in Estes Park, CO, somewhere along the main street downtown. Dad was always doing funny things like posing for pictures with Native American woman statues...)

Here's Dad in the Rockies again. Although he was only there a few times in his life, this was definitely one of his favorite places! Lisa sent me this picture. Lisa, do you remember where this one was taken or on what trip?

This is Dad at home in his and Mom's bedroom. This is how he always looked in the morning, even at about 5 am he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. That's his Tigers' hat. As for the t-shirt, he had one for nearly every sports (mostly football) team around. And most of them were either (a) free, (b) cheap, or (c) purchased with Mountain Dew, Pepsi, or Marlboro points.

Here's another classic Dad pose. I don't remember this particular Christmas gift, but I'm sure he played around with the nephews with it until it broke and then considered it a dud. Please notice that Santa is wearing shorts and a t-shirt even at Christmastime. Dad was almost always more comfortable in shorts it seems like.

This is Dad with Charlie the first day we got him. He was a little ball of fur. He was (and is) sooo cute! Mom, what town did we drive up to to get him? They had all these puppies on this farm an hour or so up North. When we got Charlie home, we just played with him outside in the yard for the longest time. It was the perfect summer afternoon. I remember how a water dish was such a novelty to him. It was so interesting to him that he would just dump his whole head in there. And it was really funny when his ball landed in it. He'd try for a minute to get it and then look up at you desperately for help.

I've been thinking about Dad a lot lately. Sometimes I get so interested in stuff and things of this world. It helps to remember Dad and think about how he lived. Everything was so simple. For instance, if you get hung up about clothes like I sometimes do, think about Dad's wardrobe. It can be summed up in five pieces: t-shirt, jeans, sweat socks, white tennis shoes, and maybe a belt when you're feeling fancy. Dad just lived and had fun doing it. And he figured out all the big deal things about life along the way. That's what I want to do. Thanks for the advice Dad! I never knew how much I'd learn from Dad after he was gone, but he just keeps on usual.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A visit from the 'rents

(Brooke, Abby, Matt, Sarah, Gary, Mike, Emily, Cindy)

A few weeks ago (wow, it's already been a month!), Mike and Cindy came to visit us. We were so excited to have them here. They arrived on a Wednesday evening. Matt had class, but Mike, Cindy, and I got to catch up over a long, lazy dinner. We were all in bed by the time Matt got home because he had to play around in the Altus C-17 sims for class that night.

The next day Mike and Cindy explored Wichita Falls while Matt and I worked. Later that night we cooked out on the grill (yummy tacos al pastor) and relaxed together. We hadn't seen any family since Christmas, so it was good to catch up again.

On Friday we headed to Austin to visit Gary and the girls. When we got to Austin, we stayed only a minute at the hotel before heading over to Gary's place. He lives on the North side of Austin in Round Rock. The best part of his place -and I think the girls would agree- is an awesome backyard. There is a pool (a Texas necessity), a wonderfully large canopy of trees, and an outdoor fireplace on the patio. We chilled (rather literally, it was "cold" for Texas that weekend) with some New Belgium brews (this made me nostalgic about Fort Collins).

On Saturday, we followed Gary, the girls, and some friends on a meandering path to the Hill Country and into Driftwood, Texas (perhaps the torrential winds of Texas have the same effect on wood that the Great Lakes waters do?) to experience The Salt Lick BBQ ( I loved the casual atmosphere of this bbq joint. We knew ahead of time to expect an hour or so wait for a table, so we brought a couple coolers of beers and hung out at the picnic tables outside. The girls bought and devoured a couple packages of Girl Scout cookies while we were at it (not that us adults didn't also induldge). When they have new flavors, you really must try them, you know?

When we were seated, we ordered family style, and enjoyed plateloads of sausage, brisket, ribs, potatoes, cole slaw, beans, pickles, and onions. Their barbecue sauce was amazing, too! After splitting some blackberry and peach cobblers for dessert, we rolled ourselves out of there and down the road back to Round Rock.

These pictures are all from Salt Lick. We would have had more, but our camera battery died shortly after we got there (note, remember to check the battery before family outings). Perhaps we can get some more from Mike and Cindy. Abby was their official photographer for the day and she got a lot of neat shots. She might even have a future in photography!

Back in Round Rock, we enjoyed the patio again and some peanut butter cake for Matt's birthday. Happy 26 years Matty! Matt and I started to think of how much we would enjoy a yard!

I just have to mention one other awesome restaurant in Austin that you must try if ever you have the chance. It is Chuy's ( and their Mexican cuisine is deee-licious!!
At the end of the weekend, Mike and Cindy went on to travel to San Antonio, New Orleans, and even over to Florida before heading back North to Michigan. I can't wait to see those pictures!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back to the blog

Hello again! Sorry for the severe lack of posts lately. I have been very busy with student teaching, and that has taken a lot of my "free" time. Also, I have been trying to actually live my priorities, um, in order, meaning doing the most important thing first. A new concept, I know:) Blogging just hasn't made the cut until now. I still love you all, I just knew you could wait to hear what's happening with us. The last reason is because Matt and I have been trying to spend a lot of quality time together before his TDY (Temporary Duty), for which he left today.

That brings me to the two most recent news-worthy events: TDY and Laryngitis.

Matt left this morning for San Antonio. He begins T-6 transition there tomorrow. He is currently driving there, towing the boat and hauling more stuff than he ever imagined. He thought he would live really simply while he is there. Choosing to bring the boat, however, meant choosing to bring the life jackets, the skis (all four of them), the spare tire for the boat, a friend's wakeboard, and various equipment for upkeeping the boat while he's there. He's also hauling the bike of a friend who will also be in transition. The friend is flying his plane down there instead of driving. Hopefully Matt will be able to catch a flight back here once in a while in exchange for Matt driving and boating the friend around San Antonio.

Matt will be in San Antonio until early to mid May. The drive between us is about 6-7 hours, so we should be able to see each other a few weekends. In fact, I have Spring Break next week and I will be going down to visit him then. It should be a nice trip, and I am excited to see San Antonio for the first time.

As for the Laryngitis, that's me. My voice was pretty hoarse yesterday, but still audible. Last night it grew worse. Today there was little voice to speak of, unless I had rested it for a couple hours. When I rest it for a while I can speak a couple of sentences before it goes fairly silent. If I "yell" it reaches the volume of a decent whisper. According to the Mayo Clinic website, though, whispering is even worse for your voice than actually speaking. Today I began walking around with a small white board in hand to convey messages. This is great for adults, but doesn't work so well for the kindergarteners. They just look at me and say, "I still don't know what you're saying." There's no telling how long this might last, so for now I'm keeping my mouth shut. Feel free to email me:)

On another note, regarding my Laryngitis, I really believe this may be a battle for who I will serve with my voice. Yes, there are certainly environmental (shouting for kindergartener's to be quiet for several weeks) and physical (my allergies and the acid reflux I've had in my throat for the last week or so can contribute to Laryngitis) reasons for theLaryngitis that I am experiencing. What Matt and I have been learning, though, is to look at the fruit a situation would bear. If a situation bears good fruit, it is most likely working for the glory of God. If the fruits are sour, though, it may be the Enemy attempting a stronghold in you.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." Gal. 5:22-23 **I'll come back to this later.

In my Bible Study, I have learned that our beliefs are even more powerful as spoken words than merely thoughts. They are very potent. Therefore, Laryngitis, an inability to speak, is certainly a threat to the power of our words. God used many people in scriptures to reveal a greater potency of words we speak than words we simply think. This is especially true for prayer.

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak." 2 Cor. 4:13

Scripture also demonstrates the power of our words over our own selves:

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Prov. 18:21

A cursing tongue brings death and destruction (as its fruit); a praising tongue a life of freedom in Christ(as its fruit).

"The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." James 3:6

It is harder to make your mouth obedient to Christ than any other part of you.

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" James 3:9-11

"For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

Our words are the truth of our heart.

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor. 10:3-5

I have several ideas rolling around in my head about this:
=The fruit of Laryngitis is an inability to speak the truth. The words I speak are potent, therefore, an inability to speak strips me of some amount of strength. The Enemy could be trying to defeat me. This comes at a peak time in Bible Study -which I know he doesn't like, and the very day Matt leaves for TDY. Without my voice, he sure could try to stir up some miscommunications and misinterpretations between us. We know all to well how dangerous those are.

=The fruit of Laryngitis is also an inability to speak against God or for the Enemy. In this way, if my words were about to get me into trouble and corrupt all of me along with my mouth, Laryngitis is actually a lifesaver! It could be God's way of saying something about my voice needs to be changed and put in check so that it can be used to glorify Christ. I have (clearly) been shouting a lot at school, at fairly innocent children. Is my voice too prideful or controlling? Is Laryngitis a way to prune my voice (take away the nasty, dead parts and leave only healthy leaves and blossoms remaining)?

=At the same time, God does not allow us to be sifted unless we need to be sifted. And his plans are complicated and huge. I'm grateful he created me with a mind to analyze even though I certainly can't understand the magnitude of all his mysteries.

I leave you now with two wonderful scripture passages.

First, Luke 22:31-34. Simon Peter was sifted. Remember how he was asked about Christ and denied him three times. Christ, however, knew "when" (v. 32) he would turn back and that this season of trial would allow him to strengthen his brothers. In v. 31, the "you" in the original Greek is a plural, collective "you," meaning all of us. Satan will ask to sift us all, and Christ -if we believe Him- will use the process for purification.

Finally, Isaiah 6: 1-8. The angel touches Isaiah's lips with a live coal from the alter. There were many alters in the Jewish synagogue, but it is believed that this atoning coal came from the alter of sacrifice. Atonement, forgiveness, can only come from the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Heb. 9:22

The coal purifies his lips. This reminds me of the Last Supper, when Jesus washes the disciples' feet. Once humbled enough to allow Jesus to do this, Peter asks for Jesus to wash his hands and his head as well. Jesus says, "A person who has had a bath [cleansed in baptism] needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean." (John 13:10). Similarly, the coal need only touch our lips. The words from our lips have the power to save our whole selves. If our lips are pure, so will our heart (from which the words of our mouth overflow) be.
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