Thursday, January 20, 2005

Moving update

Thought I would take this time admidst all of my tributes to just blog on regular ol' life at the moment. The sunroom is FULL of boxes, utilites are ready to be transferred, and we're just waiting to hear on a closing time. The moving van comes in 5 days. FIVE DAYS. Saturday is a packing party, Izak is going to play at a friend's house and Libby and are just have to stay out of the way. Blessings on all of our friends who are coming to help. Help?!? Did someone say heeelllllppp?!? Oh, sorry, that was just my subconscious crying out again.

Libby has established a wonderful, beautiful night routine. We gave her our bedroom, and I think that helped a great deal. (Help?!?! Did someone say heeelllp?!?! Oh... sorry.) She's going all night, like Izak, 7p-7a. Phwew. Now you would think that I would be rested, but of course, I'm not sleeping well now. Matt and I are sleeping in living room on camping mats and blankets. Lol. Pathetic? Yes.

I'm looking forward to watching the inauguration today. I just love GWB and his wife.

Sorry, guys, I'm so wrung out that I really can't come up with much substance.

Musielaks Posted by Hello

Rick and Carrie

There are absolutely no words to describe my love for you two. I cannot thank you enough for everything you've done and been to me. You've healed me with your words, challenged me with your devotion, and led me by your example. I need to stop writing now before I decide that I'm not going to move...

Monday, January 17, 2005

Jennifer G.

I met Jennifer while working for WNY Dialysis. She was returning from maternity leave and I was coming off orientation. One of the first things I remember about her were those blue eyes. They look straight through you-- clear, piercing, honest, intent, anticipating. We hit it off after a few weeks of watching each other work. She has one of the most honest work ethics that I've ever seen, besides my mother. She's intelligent, but always teachable; professional, but always approachable. She was always kind to her patients, going above and beyond to ensure their comfort and care, even if they were rotten and mean. Of all the people I've known, she has been the most consistent in doing the right thing in any given situation. It's like her internal compass knew true North naturally.

Jennifer was a seeker, staring me down in long conversations about God, Hell, sin, human nature, wanting to know what I thought, what I really believed, and why. And let me tell you, you don't lie to those eyes. They know when you're flinching or punting. She knew, above all the questions and answers, that I was devout (and a pastor's wife, gulp). She christened me her "spiritual mentor," wanting what I had. (Did I mention that this sort of responsibility terrified me?!? Lol.) She was so hungry for God. We had known each other over a year, and one day I invited her to just come by the church for a visit. We had a meeting place. sure enough, Sunday, there she was. I gave her the tour, introducing her to everyone I could, wanting her to feel connected and welcomed. She was so excited about the kids' ministries for her little ones (then 3.5 and 1.5), she asked, "How much do I have to pay for them to go to class?" I was agog. "You don't pay. You just come, Jennifer." "No, they're providing such a great service, I should pay them something." And I kept explaining, this is free, please don't pay. I clearly remember standing in the back of the gym service, listening to the band play "Surrender," and out of the corner of my eye I saw her brushing away tears. That day I cried, thinking of her humble, willing spirit, showing up alone, reaching out, willing to give whatever it took to find Jesus.

Jennifer quickly put herself on the path to find Him. She went through Alpha, took her time to go away on the retreat and find childcare for the kids. Her husband wasn't much of a help, especially since she was becoming this "holy roller." Took Wednesday classes, showed up for worship, took notes, asked questions, listened with those steady blue eyes. One day she called me, sobbing, the marriage was over. I went to just be with her, provide some kind of presence, but three days later I was in labor for Izak. Out in the OB lobby, waiting patiently with my mom, Carrie, Audrey, and Elvin, was a broken-but-resilient Jennifer G. One hour after my son was born, she came into my room, smiling, teary-eyed, with a huge turkey/ham sub and a Diet Coke. It was the perfectly right thing to do for me. (And the tradition continued with Libby... after a nine-month flu, a sub never tasted so good.)

Jennifer has always modeled a servant's heart to me. Even when she was alone, exhausted, working two jobs, trying to keep her kids afloat, she made me dinners, counseled me in the night with my hyperemesis, and would have been there at 3 a.m. to clean my toilets if I'd have asked (her words, not mine)... always with an unspoken gratefulness. She is an inspiration to me, I tell her ever chance I get. I have never known anyone who has had the discipline to put one foot in front of the other and seek God with everything she has like she has. She can see her brokenness, but instead of excusing it or whining about it, she pulls herself up by the bootstraps and does something about it. And in my opinion, it has consistently been the right thing.

Her card made me cry. Written on the inside cover -- "You are the one person who has brought me to God." My dearest friend, I merely held the door. You walked in all by yourself. I love you.

Winter's Chill

Good morning. It's Monday, and I'm recuperating from the weekend, albeit briefly...

Yesterday was our farewell party at WCH. It was a red-white-blue theme, American flags... a campaign theme. How fun! Somewhere between 500-600 people were there, the gospel choir came down from the city to surprise Matt and sing for him, people lined up for about an hour to hug us and affirm our time there. Matt says it's like going to your own funeral. You ain't kidding.

Goodbyes are a type of grief, sort of like losing a loved one. There are a variety of responses - shock, anger, disbelief, bargaining, depression/withdrawl, I've seen them all, in the ICU at Roswell and at the church. Working with the dying has taught me a lot in regards to giving people room to process loss. That knowledge been invaluable while helping my friends and acquaintances handle the change that's about to occur. I have a lot more to blog, but I'm off to take my favorite babysitter to tea. Catch you soon. Moving van comes in 8 days.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

further back yard Posted by Hello

backyard Posted by Hello

January in Buffalo Posted by Hello

66 Degrees

You heard me, sixty-six degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it's a lovely May day outside. The snow is completely gone, the grass is green. The trees look like they want to bud. It's just awesome. I welcome these breaks amidst the grey Buffalo winter months. We're supposed to get a lake-effect snow storm over the next few days, but for now - it's beautiful. The kids and I were out pruning the bushes and raking, getting things ready for the Farrells. Then we went for a walk down South Creek Road and saw our horses, the dogs, some chickens and a rooster. Today, I must admit, I cried thinking about leaving my little home. Springtime is a special season, full of flower dreams, weeding, preparing the ground for the perennials to push through. Today reminded me of what I'll be missing. I have a two-acre backyard, complete with fire pit, fruit trees, rhubarb -- and it's bordered by strawberry fields. I have a killer farmers market, Braymiller's, 30-seconds down the road where I can buy anything. In my more emotional moments I think, "What am I going to do?!"

But I'm so aware of the precision of God's timing. How He knew that we'd be outgrowing our home with two babies, that Matt would be pushing out the edges of his job description at WCH, that we would be mature enough at this exact moment in history to follow His call to NWCC. The change came upon us so suddenly, yet with the unpredictable joy and excitement of a spring day in January.

We continue to walk towards the end of our time in Hamburg. 12 days. So many good friends, good moments, points of enlightenment for me as I continue to learn new things about healthy friendships. Precious moments that outweigh the ungraceful, tactless, low relational behavior exhibited by some. Tender times of remembering reconciliation, the end of bitterness, the freedom to change for the better. And on this exquisite day I cannot escape the thought that He has made, and continues to make me, into someone new.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

McGarrys Posted by Hello

Mike and Lauren

Intelligent. Intentional. Intense.

McGarrys are kindred spirits, though not in our small group. We met through Mike's dad and mom, Mike Sr. and Peg, who were in on our initial interview process to come to WCH. Sharp parents. And sharp kids (and kids-in-law). I remember the first time I saw Mike and Lauren. They were standing in the perimeter of the Atrium after service, Mike was holding their oldest son, Thane. Vibrant, smiling, welcoming. I thought, Boy, I like these guys.

At the time they were living way out in West Valley, a 45-minute drive into the hill country. Both Cornell grads, Mike was working in environmental engineering and Lauren was using her child development degree (masters as well) in her home. One snowy, bright New Year's Day Matt and I drove out to spend the day getting to know them. We were fused on the spot as friends of similar values and purpose - primarily that of marriage and home preservation. They were so articulate and understanding of the dynamics between men and women, the part personality plays into a marriage, the need for personal responsibility... real relational heavyweights with HIGH relational IQ. They journeyed with us through the transformation of DINKS to SAHM with a newborn. They didn't "vote me off the motherhood island" when they learned of my struggle. Mike and Lauren were actually the first ones to hear that we were pregnant with Izak, the first ones to see my tears of shock and submission and they laid their hands on us and prayed for this new season. Matt invited Mike golfing this year, and would come home so winded and sore -- from laughing!! Mike was an advisor for Matt during the pursuit of a lead pastor position, offering words of encouragement and reflection that only a real friend could. Still, following the announcement of resignation Mike's heart broke and he left us the most tender voice mail of a friend who would be sorely missing us... . Lauren and I have shared pregnancies, mothering, more pregnancies, lunch, thoughts, accountability. Her ability to get to the heart of the matter very quickly and precisely is a relief to me. I'm good at small talk, but sometimes it's a smokescreen so that I don't have to divulge real information. Lauren keeps me honest. They joined us over the last two and a half years for the all-day marriage seminar that Matt does for the engaged couples in our church, though it was always a great time to tweak up my own marriage. And I could go on and on...

Mike and Lauren, your presence has so enriched Matt's and my lives. Thank you for coming alongside us, offering the precious treasure of your friendship. I pray you'll continue to see fruits as you labor for the hearts and souls of young families at WCH. Blessings. XO

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Lar and Aud Posted by Hello

Audrey and Larry

Aud and Lar, some of my earliest friends at WCH. They've know us since our first week there, being the second longest married couple in our honeymoon connection class (the longest being Matt and me). They were high school sweethearts who married on the weekend of the Erie County Fair, a time when the town is buzzing with visitors.

Larry has this no-holds-barred honesty, an approach to truth that I don't think I've ever encountered before. He does the right thing because it's right, not because it's popular. He came to the Lord in high school after hearing Frank Reich's testimony (famous Bills quarterback) and has such a passion for reaching youth for Jesus. He has been a real friend to Matt, no hidden agenda or unrealistic expectations, but a commitment to Matt as a brother in Christ. Aud is a real Mother Earth. I'd never thought much about natural childbirth, but she was so convincing that we (hubs and wives) ended up taking Bradley together during our first pregnancies. We both managed to have babies without pain medicine or episiotomies. Aud is just so thoughtful, I love to get her take on things because I think our thoughts start out in similar places due to our life experiences (Aud also has a special-needs sister). The other night at dinner I was able to finally tell her that I would never be the mom I am today if I hadn't known her. There's a pretty big vein of "acceptable parenting" in the Christian subculture - the right books, disciplines and theories. Audrey has the ability to discriminate what is truth and what is opinion better than me. She has helped me re-think what and why of what I want to do as a mom.

It's a timeless friendship. I value the honesty and godliness of this couple, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I cannot imagine being without them...

Monday, January 10, 2005


I am so thankful for the joy my children bring me. More often than not, I find such delight in their presence. Sure, there can be some challenging moments, but the beauty of my babies is something I fall head-long into. Not much else could top the heady feeling I get when the boy leans into my face, teasing, "Gimme a kiss!" Or when the girl gums and drools and grabs my cheeks in her pudgy hands, trying to chew on my nose! Ah! The softness of their feet, the scent of their hair... if I lost my sight tomorrow could I remember their faces forever?

God has been so kind to allow me the pleasure of mothering. The work is outweighed by the joy, and laughter outnumbers the tears.

I am also caught by the handsome strength of my husband, his grace and wisdom only adding to the pleasure of his presence. Even as our marriage has aged over 10 years, I'm excited by the results of the wine of our relationship. My husband is changing into an image that looks more and more like Christ, and that, girls, is very desirable! Once read an author that said his wife was most attracted to him when he helped her out with the kids' bedtime routine. I understand it now, especially when I think about how hard he works and how much he gives and gives throughout out the day. His ability to sacrifice for the children and me gives me such encouragement on long days.

I am so thankful for the sweet, sustaining experience of my family.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Williams' Posted by Hello

Anthony and Annetta

Matt and I had a lovely dinner with two dear friends, Anthony and Annetta. They are a couple that we met a few years ago during the Angle Tree Project. Our husbands were the point people, our churches were partners (WCH-suburban and Mt. Olive-urban). Anthony and Matt hit it off right away. Good chemistry. And the wives? Well, we're trouble when we're together, if you can imagine. Lol Annetta feels the same way in her role as deacon's wife as I have in pastor's wife, trying to shoulder it as gracefully as possible, but not about to take any undue crap. Surprised by the visitor in the grocery store (when you're not wearing make-up and haven't showered in two days) who wants to chat about church, the phone calls that threaten to upend a family evening, having a message on the answering machine that sets parameters, and a quiet pride watching your husband teach with expertise.

The first time we went out as couples Annetta and I enjoyed easy conversation. Anthony, with his shiny shaved head, was talking shop with Matt, who was enjoying it equally. We shared how we all met and married, how we came to know the Lord. Then came the moment that Matt had to step away from the table for a few minutes, and Annetta asks to me, "So, are you two planning to have children?" I stumbled around with an explanation, being as honest as I could, letting them know that I didn't want kids, but I was willing to be willing, and I felt that God was possibly moving me down that avenue. I was, however, not ready yet, I explained. They both nodded quietly. Thankfully, Matt rejoined us and we moved on to a new topic.

When we said good night for the evening and walked to our cars, Annetta says she leaned over to Anthony and said, "It's over. That girl's already pregnant. She just doesn't know it yet." The next day... two lines... And funny enough, Annetta shared the story with me for the first time at my baby shower. LOL

So tonight we met at the same restaurant, sat in almost the same spot. I reminded her of the prediction she had made almost two years ago, and we had a good laugh. But we really got loud when I told her that, not to be taken off guard again, I had taken a pregnancy test before coming and it was negative.

My friends, I love you and will miss you. If we don't see you again here, then I'll catch you on the other side. XO

Friday, January 07, 2005


Libby had to go see Dr. Rob today for her 6-month check up. (Yes, she is actually 7 months, but we've been a little busy...) Dr. Rob is a friend of ours that we worshipped with for a few years before we transferred to his practice. He and his wife, Jen, are both D.O.s and in practice together. The nice thing about being in such a large congregation is the networking. Need a doctor? We've got seven. Need a contractor? Which four do you want to talk to? Got some wierd stuff going on in your neighborhood? Which under-cover agency would suit you best? FBI? DEA? Local authorities? Lol. (I digress...)

Anyway, Liberty is quite the celebrity in the office. How often do you get to take care of someone with such an important name? And such a charming smile? When we had to take her out to the scale in the buff to be weighed, we plunked her great big fuzzy, white "Mad Hatter" hat on her head. This little naked baby with the big 'ol top hat, grinning from ear to ear. She was glorious! Rob and the nurses kept saying, "She's perfect. Just perfect."

And then came the shots. I always find myself whispering, "These will save your life, baby. This is to save your life." Matt held her legs still (Mommy can only handle so much when it's her own flesh and blood) and she got the two pokes simultaneously. Of course her face puckered up for a few seconds, but she was quickly as good as new. Thank God for immunizations. Thank God for the science that has blessed us with the opportunity to keep our children safe from certain deadly diseases. For all the folks that b*tch and moan about America and all it's warts, you just go ahead and take your baby somewhere else in the world with the limited medicine and glaring health care insufficiencies. And then try to fight the fear back when you hear that particular cough from the nursery, or you're wondering how high the fever will go. I couldn't help thinking about the children in Asia who survived the tsunami but are now vulnerable to disease. Had it been on our coastline I doubt we would be bracing ourselves for a wave of plague like they are. Godspeed the aid and workers to their salvation. The tsunami is never, never very far from my thoughts.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Teething... still

Oh, Libby! It was like old times last night. To bed at 6:30p but up at 8, 10:50, 11:40, 2:43, and 6:15. Poor kid, I know its the teeth. I would offer her the pacifier after giving a little formula and she would just mash her gums down on it, screwing up her face and snorting through her nose. Irritable, itchy gums. I kept the drugs flowing, Tylenol and Ibuprophen, but wow! What a terrible night.

It's a quiet day here. Got the kids in their snuggly outfits today. Izzy is wearing a big hand-knit sweater that my mom made him, and Libby has on a fleece jogging suit. I'm in my comfy pj's, no intention on changing anytime soon. :) We are under a blanket of new fallen snow here in Buffalo. 20 miles south of us has closed schools and day cares today. We're still in business, however. And it's beautiful. They say it should thaw by the weekend. But until then I'm gonna soak up the winter. It's my second favorite season, first being autumn. Might even put a fire in the fireplace today.

Our new home has a real wood-burning fireplace, full size, I believe (vs. a more decorative one). It also has a fenced in yard, a formal dining room, and a porch just begging for a swing or some rockers. I'm really getting excited!

Yesterday a great friend of mine came over to visit. I met Lori in Bradley birth class. She and her son, Milo, came over for a much-needed play date. Milo is one month younger than Izak, a bit shorter, very sweet and nurturing. He's into trains and bugs! So Mi brought Izak his very own crickets in a little bug carrier! There are four (poor, ill-fated) creatures in my care now. Izak immediately ran off with the apple that we were supposed to feed them, and has adopted the rocks as his "clouds." When I showed him that there were little, live animals in the carrier he started shaking the cage and attempting to throw it. I'm trying to rescue the crickets, shouting, "We must be kind to all creatures! Gentle! Gentle!" Matt suggested that we just turn them loose outside, which evoked this bizzare cry from me, "But they'll freeze to death! What an awful way to die!" As of now I think I'm the only one looking out for them; Matt's washed his hands of them and Z, thankfully, has forgotten that they're there for the moment. I'm thinking about naming them...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Libby's smile Posted by Hello

The Furr Four Posted by Hello

Tool of Motherhood

I have thought for many moons that this should be an ongoing series in my blog. I think that motherhood has been the biggest change agent in my life, second only to my faith in Christ (which sometimes has to be jump-started by the power of motherhood issues). Never before have I been so challenged to get it right, to get better, to grow up than when I look into the faces of my children... and see them gazing back at me. Some of the biggies - emotional health (getting over grudges, taking responsibility for my baggage), getting a handle on anxiety (it is not lovely or godly), continuously striving toward being content in "all situations."

Motherhood has been a level for me. It lays on my life, the little bubble sliding back and forth when troubles come, encouraging me to be steady. What may look even-keel might not be when compared to what scripture has taught me. Lead a quiet life, lead a simple life. Mind your own business. Be an example. (I Thess. 4:11-12) It doesn't mean that I have no troubles or distressing times, but it does help to quiet the drama queen in me. It tells her to go home, there will be no show today. God is enough. He loves me and has not overlooked me. He has not forgotten me. He has written me on the palms of his hands. Level out, bubble in the middle.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Goodbye, Roswell

Yesterday concluded my work at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. It's been such a privilege to serve the oncology community, doctors and patients alike. As you may know, I worked four out of the last six days. It was a chance to save up a little extra money for the big move in 21 days. I really enjoyed it, but couldn't get over leaving the kids everyday. I don't know how moms who work full time do it!

My co-workers bought me lunch and got me a farewell cake. It was really sweet. A bunch of the docs made a point to say goodbye and other kind words. One particular doc who has been friendly towards me (i.e. he says, "Take it from your big brother..." and as offered to even the score with any grumpy surgeons who give me a rough time) was bowled over to find out that we were moving. (Warning: this next part will be inappropriate in some people's eyes. Just skip to the next paragraph.... you've been warned!) His first response was, "B*tch! I really like you. You should stay!" I was a little startled by the spontaneity of his reaction, but we continued to talk and he guessed that it was my husband's job that called us away... "What does he do?" "Oh, he's a pastor." "Oh? Sorry about the b*tch comment." I about died laughing. Matt got a real kick out of it too. :)

So last night Matt took me out to dinner to celebrate my last day of work (for a little bit, anyway). When we got home he was complaining of general yuck, I wasn't feeling too hot either, but attributed it to fatigue. I slept on the couch, just in case. Well, today it appears that he has the flu. Fever, N/V, achey, et al. Poor guy. I'm fine so far and the kids are okay, except for some pretty intense teething pain that kept Libby up from 11-12:30 last night.

So we'll be resting today... as much as you can with little ones.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Random assortment 2005

Happy New Year, everyone! I actually made it until a little past midnight with hubby and the Musielaks to bring in 2005, then I crashed. I'm beat, but it's a good kind of tired. Work went very well. Here are a few little things that I've been musing on--

1) I don't think we're done having children. I've been prayerful since Libby's birth, waiting to hear for God re: "being done" (see previous post). Christmas week I thought I was pregnant and inside I felt a deep joy well up. It was so striking that didn't talk with Matt about it for about 5 days. I waited and prayed, didn't want to knock his socks off until I was sure. Then one evening we discussed it, and I saw this incredible openness in him, a willingness to add another if God would, a readiness to love another life. And it blessed my heart. So I believe God has spoken very clearly to us, and I thank Him for His direction. NWCC, I hate to say this, but if I do get pregnant, you are gonna have one sick girl for nine months. Sorry...

2) Spiritual shepherdess or incognito pastor's wife? As the news has spread at Roswell re: our move, and people find out that I'm a "pastor's wife" I've had numerous spiritual discussions with my co-workers. They ask questions about religion, the pastorate, my faith, and make observations about their own beliefs. It's been an issue that I hesitate talking about b/c I'm more shy about my close alliances with "religion." But as I've been honest about this cornerstone in my life I've begun to see my friends in a warmer light, weaving their spiritual dimension into how I relate to them. I've felt more free to be myself, happier, more relaxed. In Lake Villa and at my new job, wherever that may be, I want to be known for my faith, not my quiet kindness or smiling face, but my spirit. As I'm climbing into my thirties I have a little wisdom that could be an encouragement to my younger (sometimes older) seeking friends. I remember when my dear friend, Jennifer, was digging for spiritual truth from me and I was trying to dodge her, she looked me in the eyes and said, "You're my spiritual mentor." So there. I am starting to learn that it's not about me having answers or sealing the deal, it's about loving and leading by example, and about always being teachable.

3) I'm nervous about being a lead pastor's wife. Might as well admit it. I had a moment of realization a couple months ago and called my mom bawling, "I'm not ready to be a grown-up! I can't be the lead pastor's wife!" And she just laughed, "I've been waiting for this phone call." And she took a few minutes to loan me courage and perspective. Last night I had this awful dream that I was going to my first BBQ with NWCC, dressed in t-shirt and sweat shorts, and after we arrived Matt said to me, "You'll have to go home and change. I think the leaders are upset because you're not dressed nicely enough." Auggh! I awoke so rattled. LOL Oh well.

4) I am so amazed by my husband. He is one of the coolest, godliest men that I know. He warms me with his words and loving kindness. This is gonna be a huge year for him, doing the thing he's been made to do. Lead pastor. As much as the move from Hamburg is hard for the kids and me, it's small in comparison to what Matt is risking. He's leaving a very good situation, one in which the known outcomes are all good, for the unknown. If it wasn't for the voice of God I think we'd be nuts. A few years ago Matt was reflecting on "Desert to Promised Land" experiences, and he said something that kinda surprised me. He said, "I know this sounds silly, but as great as it is, I feel like Hamburg is my desert. My Promised Land is yet to come." My heart is filled with a mixture of emotions for him as he swings to hit his sweet spot. I love you, Honey.

5) I've heard from my friends in Tamil Nadur, India, and Singapore. They and their families are alive, but they have lost loved ones in the killer wave.

Well, Libby and I are enjoying football. She loves the colors and motion... that's my girl!!! Z is napping. This evening will be a little crazy as Dad is preaching and I'm on worship team. Zgodas are baby wrangling for us. I'm bummed to miss my boys in the Rose Bowl! My husband can talk all he wants, State lost in triple overtime to the Wolverines this season. Looks like he'll be wearing blue and gold for another year, hee hee hee.