Fall 2013-dark leaves

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayer Request

It's getting close to the ninth hour again regarding the house in Birmingham. There is a showing scheduled for sometime soon (tomorrow? Monday? Depends on our renters). Pray with us, please, that this house will sell. When people prayed for our house to sell back in 07, at the ninth hour, God answered. We need our people to help us because The Lord can do this if he will. Please, Lord, have mercy and take this off our plate in a way that we don't lose money in the deal.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Exercising Gratitude

Good things:

Sarah Frances is growing up into the most lovely young lady.  She is funny and kind.  She is thoughtful about others and willing to put herself out there to be friendly.  She calls it like she sees it and has so far avoided being passive-agressive when she's frustrated.  I love her diligence and creativity.  She loves to read and have her back scratched.  And she still talks to me the most when I'm standing at her door, leaving the room after tucking her in for the night.

Catherine is a giver.  She is so relational that not much else matters.  She can make us all laugh.  She looks to include others in whatever she's doing.  She reaches out to those younger than her, toddlers in particular, but is a real friend to anyone who will be hers.  She'll take one for the team too, when sacrifice is needed.  She loves to bake and makes the best homemade biscuits from scratch.  Nothing gets past her so I love hearing all her stories, which she's eager to tell anytime I'll give her an ear.

Patrick is one of the most discerning people I know.  He loves sacrificially and is loyal to the death.  He is extremely artistic and also loves to whittle.  He's diligent to learn things that are hard for him and quick to laugh even if he's grumpy.  His giggle slays me.  His mind is a steel trap, even if getting a thought out is tricky.  He's an amazing brother, pushing the girls' buttons as well as taking care of and protecting them.  He still jumps up in my arms on a daily basis and will kiss me on the forehead when I ask, just not in the lunchroom at school.

Lillian is delightful.  A delightful mess.  She loves an audience, which works out well when you're the youngest of four.  Her dry humor and wit still surprise us.  She's a helper and a doer and enjoys sacrificially taking care of people when she sees a need.  Her feelings are tender but she's also a thinker and sees things well for what they are.  She loves to create and ask questions about what she's learning.  Her stories come often and easily.  She may be small, but she is mighty!

Brian Brown is an amazing man.  His sacrifices for the Kingdom are inspiring; his trust in the Lord is second to none.  He steps up to do the work that is needed; nothing is below him.  He is a faithful and trustworthy husband, father, friend, and leader.  He is my anchor, always has been, and I am continually blown away at his ability to take care of us in just the way we need.  He is musical, and we all dance because of that.  He is patient and gracious beyond belief.

...just needed to count my blessings a little.  Thanks for indulging me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grand Days

It was Grandparents Day this weekend at the school.  B's parents came in for a visit, and for the first time it really felt like a visit.  I watched my kids give them kisses goodnight before going up to bed, and it took me straight back to when my grandparents came to visit when I was a child.

And it hit me.  My kids will feel about their grandparents the way I feel about mine in that they live far away and we wish it were different, but we get to see them only on special occasions.  Life is different when they're here because they're not usually here.

And it wasn't always that way.  It didn't used to feel like a visit when they came, even last year.  It was like having them in the house took us back to when we lived 10 minutes from them; it took us back to normal.

This weekend I realized that the new normal is without them.  That having them here feels different than normal.  We still do normal things.  We also do lots of fun, special things.  But their presence is exceptional instead of typical.

I'm not angry or bitter or upset about this.  Just realizing it and acknowledging it.  And letting it be a good thing and a sad thing at the same time.  Sitting in the feeling of it.  And verbal processing on paper so that I can really know what I think about it all.  Aren't you glad. ;)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Busy hands, quiet heart.

That sounds like a book title.  Maybe it is?  All I know is that the busier I am the more I get done.  The difference is that today I'm practicing being still on the inside even as my hands fly from one thing to another.  The kids pick up on it either way and respond in kind, which brings me hope as life gets busier as a family.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Full-Time Employment

My original title of this post was Full-Time Work, but then I realized I've always done that.  The news is that I've taken on a full-time job for the first time in 12 years.  It's not in occupational therapy either, to my surprise.

I've known I need to do something more, work-wise.  I've been asking God to show me who I'm called to serve and that my work would be part of that.  The answer has always been--and still is--him first, my family second, and my neighbors third.  That's actually part of what has gotten me up out of bed on the days I've not been working at the school, because I'm called to serve here at home, doing the grunt work I've (enjoyably) been able to dismiss on account of not having enough time to get to it.  So I've been deep-cleaning and organizing and repairing some around the house, as well as working on some relationships I've not had time to invest in for a while.

It's what my heart actually longs to do--serve my family and others primarily in our home, be available to others as they have unexpected need, etc.--but that kind of work doesn't help cover our expenses.  My hope in pursuing OT work has been to make more money by the hour, enabling me to work less hours for more income, freeing me up to serve the way I want.  On my terms.

There's the hitch--it was my plan, albeit a seemingly good and godly plan, to serve others even if it were on my terms--but it was not God's plan.  My Missouri OT license took long enough to come in (oh my stars it took FOREVER!) that the Lord moved other things around and opened up a need for me to fill at our school.  It is full-time, school hours (more time at work), for more than I was making before but much less than my potential as a f/t OT (although I've not even had an interview to begin with, full or part time).  Notice it's the exact opposite of the ideas that we had going into my pursuing a different job this year.  It would be hard to decide to go this route, BUT for GOD.

I'm going to be the school's administrative assistant, replacing Debby Massot, who replaced Laurabeth Medlock if you happen to know her also/instead.  Administratively, there's our Head of School, John Roberts, an Asst. HOS, Ben Essenburg, and me.  It's a big job.  A huge job.  And Debby's shoes are at least as big as Laurabeth's were.  Enormous.  It's my job to do my best through the end of May.

The exciting truth is there are many big perks to this job.  I'll be with my family, in our second home (the school; Brian's also there with us every afternoon for after care).  I'll be working on the kids' schedule for the most part: there when they're in school, off when they're off.  It's an atmosphere where I'm very comfortable: I already know all the kids in the school, and most of the families, since I've been teaching there for 3+ years.  I also worked for Debby this summer, so I have some idea of what it takes to "be Debby."  It's a steady income, and as a f/t employee, I'll have medical insurance and a break in our tuition!  Woo-hoo!  And a way to pay for the rest of it.  So there you have it.  I'm a full-fledged working-for-pay woman.

More later about how this is a practice of dying to self (because I need to "verbally" process it more, not because you can't put it together for yourself).  And how my OT license is good for 2 years, in case the Lord moves us in that direction another time.

ps--I wrote this a few days ago, and I'll tell you I'm even more excited now than I was then.  It's exactly where I'm supposed to be.  I'm thrilled the Lord would put me right here right now.  I'm hiding out this week, meeting friends and going to the art museum by myself, and I'll start shadowing Debby next week.  So more later...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Green Bean Bundles

2 cans of whole green beans, drained
1 pkg. bacon, halved
1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

Wrap 8 or so green beans in a half slice of bacon.  Place in 8x8 Pyrex.  Repeat until you run out of either gb's or bacon.  Combine butter, sugar, and garlic on stovetop, then pour evenly over all bundles.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 min.  Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

These are basically a heart attack on a plate, but they taste SO good!

Will you make them, Mary Beth?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Body Odour

I'd like to officially apologize to anyone sitting near me tonight at Back to School Night for what was likely an unpleasantly odoriferous experience.  This morning when I was getting ready for work today, I did not have in mind the entire rest of my day.  I did remember that I was going to teach PE then go straight into working After Care.  That's about 5 hours straight being outside.  I did remember that Sarah Frances had soccer practice and needed to pack her clothes and cleats.  And I was thankful we could eat as a family tonight between AC and soccer, although not at home.

What I did not remember was that I had Back to School night.  It didn't even click in my brain when I passed one of our male teachers wearing a tie.  Or when I took note of all the female teachers' pretty dresses today.

Once I remembered, I was glad I didn't need to be there tonight as a PE teacher, just as a parent of 4 kids at the school.  I planned on sitting down in the back, maybe even alone, inconspicuous-like with my own stinky self.

But then when they did teacher introductions, I was included.  So I stood up.  And THEN our Head of School said all specials teachers would be in a particular room to talk, which included the PE teacher.

Well, I was already there solo to hear about 4 kids' classes in 2 periods of time.  I certainly didn't have time to be a teacher.  So I bailed.

I mean, people worry about what to wear to this thing.  It's only parents and really is a unique chance for the school community to be together.  Now, I'm NOT going to worry about what I'm going to wear, but I could at the least not STINK.

So I'm sorry for smelling bad and for still being in my PE work clothes on a night when all the other teachers were dressed up all nice-like...  I'm doing my best, stanky self and all.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Job Search Issues

All this job search business makes me want to throw up.

But for now I'm going to make my new 11year old's favorite dinner (seriously, I'm back to blogging dinners?): hamburger quiche, green bean bundles, and corn on the cob.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dinner: McAlister's Deli

Between soccer practice ending at 6 and volleyball beginning at 7:30, we ate a family dinner at McAlister's.  Since we discovered that two of my four yunguns have genetic high cholesterol, we've stopped going to CFA and are opting for a restaurant with healthier choices.  Ala McAlister's.

I still love their veggie pita.  I miss the tomato basil dressing though--they haven't had that in forever.  When I was in college at Auburn and new to the world of McAlister's, I would go there about 2pm to study.  I'd buy a large sweet tea, bag of pretzels and some honey mustard (is that still around either?) to munch on while I worked.  If I could focus on my studies until 5pm, I'd buy myself dinner: a veggie pita with tomato basil dressing and a refill on the tea.  Good stuff.

So I'm thankful to introduce my kids to McAlister's Deli.  I need to tell them that story about studying there; they'd love it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dinner: Banana Splits and Popcorn

I've been craving a banana split for over a week now.  Last night my sweet husband offered to go make a Sonic run and bring me one home after the kids were in bed.  However, I was too full of that yummy soup, and I declined.  I decided to not make that mistake again and to share the love with all the fam instead of keeping the secret ice cream for myself.

We all started with bananas (of course) and some combination of vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, and vanilla frozen yogurt.

Topping options included: strawberries, pineapple, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, chopped peanuts, granola, chocolate chips, RediWhip, a sea salt caramel chocolate sauce, and (of course) maraschino cherries.

Two batches of popcorn were shaken in a pot on the stove and topped with some Kettle Corn yumminess.

It was so fun.  All the kids loved it (of course), and even Laura (our new housemate) and George (her fiancĂ©) were enticed to come home for dinner.

Lillian kept saying, "Hey, Mom, thanks for the party!" :)

ps--don't ask me why I'm posting about what we eat for dinner.  I suppose because gives me something safe to say.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dinner: Soup and Bread

Cilantro Lime Soup, with from-scratch vegetable stock (what-the-what?? who am I??), without chicken.

Jim 'N Nick's cheese biscuits, the shortcut way, in mini-muffin tins (cook 10min).

I should make a salad, but the spinach has turned.  Maybe next time around...  We had salad last night anyway.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dinner: Taco Salad

1# ground beef
1 head iceberg lettuce
4oz sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 bunch green onions, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 bag corn chips, crushed
1/2 - 3/4 bottle Catalina dressing

Brown the meat.  Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.  (I use 2 heads now for our very hungry family.) Top with next 6 ingredients.  Pour dressing over and toss well to coat.  I add the avocado after this step so it doesn't get mutilated when stirring the dressing.

Brian says this isn't really taco salad, but that's what we called it growing up.  I also call my kitchen Debbie's Diner like my mom did too.  Why mess with a good thing?  Because this is good.  Everyone loves it, and these days there are rarely leftovers.  (We used to eat it all weekend!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reading Rewards Rock!

Can I just say that there are many, many benefits to being a reader, but this summer we have rocked out with the reading rewards our kids are earning:

1.  FOUR super awesome, super HUGE (think 4' diameter) beach balls to take to the beach, to play with in the pool, to use half-inflated as a chair or a blob, and to share with cousins.

2.  FOUR gift certificates to paint a tile at a Painted By You kind of place--that's right up our alley.

3.  TWELVE free treats at Sonic, from hotdogs to ice cream cones to slushies.

4.  FOUR free tickets, plus 2 free adults, to an evening at the Magic House.

5.  THREE free tickets to Six Flags (plus one from a family whose oldest child was the only one able to earn one and it wasn't going to be used).

6.  TWO free tickets to a Cardinals game of our choice--Lillian and I will go see the Cards play the Pirates next Wed. night.  What a fun date with my "baby girl."  And can I just say how grown up am I that I'm taking her there by myself.

7.  FOUR free books of their choice to keep and add to our home library.

Plus these are just the highlights.  I mean, are you KIDDING me?!  What a fun, fun summer it has been for so many reasons, but WOW the Lord is good to us!  Look what he has done through my readers.  Praise him for his kindness and provision and that my kids love to read!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

God and (SEC) Football

"It's nice to think time will make us better Christians.  That just by waking up each morning, we're becoming the men and women God has called us to be, but I'm afraid time just makes us better fakers.  We learn the buzzwords.  We learn what we can get away with.  But that doesn't mean we are growing."
--Chad Gibbs in God and Football, Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC.

I wasn't expecting that from my easy, light beach reading.  It's true of me, except when I'm truly living in fellowship with other believers.  Then they call me on it.  Thank you to my friends and family who will call me on the carpet.  And thanks to Chad Gibbs, who has me weeping on the beach for the South  in general, because I love it deeply and struggle with it madly all in one big messy wad of emotions.

On another completely side note, please keep praying for us as we are looking for a call (job).  We need your prayers to sustain us as we wait.  Brian and I are both so eager to be serving a particular body/people...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ahhhh...the Beach

It's been a long four years since we've seen you.  So good to be back.

I'm praying for good weather, good conversations, and a time of rest. 

I don't think I'll ever forget Brian's face when I asked him how it felt to get in the ocean that first night back.  (He took the kids and cousins down while the mammas hit the grocery store.)  It was relaxed and radiant.  He looked younger.  He LOVES it here.

And the sunset last night--I have no words, and of course no pictures.  It was just after a storm came through.  Truly amazing.

My heart is so thankful to be here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I'm living on the edge--just ate half a banana, the most food I've had at one time since Sunday morning.  Here's to keeping it down!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

You Down with OPD?

Over two years ago I had diverticulitis.  Now I have it again.  It hurts.  It comes from not drinking enough water (true but improved in recent weeks since I've been running more), and from stress.  I guess that means I'm not "resting" as well as I thought.  And it hurts--feels like a knife in my left side that hurts worse when I move.  Like when I breathe.  Drugs have been called in (thank you, BL!), so relief is on its way.

So don't be like me and stress out till you get an Old Person's (intestinal) Disease.  Seriously.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4, 2013

Jogging with a friend, parade in downtown STL where we saw Coach Yost and family, air show over the river and under the arch, Mr. Wizards on the way home, a little housework and rest, then playing and dinner with a crew of new friends in St. Charles for the evening, including a few of our own fireworks, until we drove back to Chesterfield where we parked to watch the big fireworks at the mall.  Whew!  Bone tired from a great day's fun.

But one of the best things of the day was hearing on NPR our nation's Declaration of Independence read aloud by I don't know how many people, about 20 sec./person.  It was amazing to hear all the different accents and voices reading our declaration to me.  I loved it!  I don't remember the last time I read it or heard it read.

Happy 4th, y'all!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Did You Know...

...I'm an Occupational Therapist?  I got my degree from UAB a hundred years ago.  I worked a year for a family where the wife had Alzheimer's Dz, and after that we were ready for a family.  Of course I wouldn't ever work again once we had kids (right?), so I promptly filed all things OT away in the very back corners of my brain.  Now I did have a deep-felt appreciation that I'd never be able to pass the written exam again, so I've kept my license up as much as necessary to avoid that terrible scenario.

Fast forward...our youngest is now in school all day 3x/wk.  My husband is finished with school but has not found a call (job) yet.  Two years ago I worked a half day 3x/wk.  Last year my half days were 5x/wk.  This year it seems our family has a new-found capacity (and need) for me to stretch myself a little more and enter the healthcare professionals world.

I have a lead on a job.  Please pray I get it.  If I have 2 contact hours a week, I'll bring home more than I did working 12 hours at the school.  Truth is though, it's about so much more than the income.  I'm so very, very excited about doing occupational therapy.  I'm remembering why I loved it so much.  And how much I loved it!  It's SO FUN.  (Yes, I know I'm a nerd.  Hard to deny when I took physics in college as an elective because it was SO FUN.)

What a treat--and a testimony to the Lord's working in both my and Brian's hearts--that I could have a degree/potential job that I truly enjoy, that serves families in need, that helps provide for my family,  and that Brian and I are on the same page about across the board about this.

Oh, and I'm keeping the PE job 2x/wk at the school.  Which is also exciting.  I'll be able to maintain my relationships with all the 1st-6th graders as well as teachers and staff at the school where my own kids are.  Seriously--this is the best of both worlds.  The only downside (and it is a big one) is not being with my teacher who I've worked with 3x/wk for two years now.  I'll miss our amazing conversations and keeping up with the goings on in the Kugler household.

But pray I get that job.  And praise God with me for my new friend, Jen Bensinger, a PT, who is my new friend that God provided at just the right time, who is walking me through this process and advocating for me with her contacts.  I don't think I would have had the courage to do this if she hadn't been such an encourager.  (She also does this work as a mother of 4, one who has Down Syndrome, with the heart of a servant loving her family and the families she helps treat.)

And I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Typical Saturday Start

7:20am:  Brian just walked in to a room full of snuggled up kids watching cartoons and asked them jokingly, "What are you doing in my den?"  Right away one of them said, "I'm farting.  I mean tooting.  I mean gassing."  "Yep, s/he is," said the child sitting in the recliner with her/him.  Seriously, people.

Happy Saturday, friends!  It's going to be a great day!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Running Regret and More

I should have gone running this morning when it was 6:30 and I had enough consciousness to intentionally roll over and try to go back to sleep.

I need to remember this feeling next time and not sleep in.  My anxiety is through the roof tonight, and I can't help but think it would be better if I had started the day with a good run.

Too bad it's storming right now or I'd head out.  I think.  Oh, have I said on here I've registered for a half marathon in October.  So now I'm running about 4 times a week, getting ready to really train starting in August.

Good news?  I enjoyed a women's progressive dinner last night with new friends.

Also we've had lots of interest in our house that's back on the market.  One agent (not ours) even said it's a LOT of house for the money.  Yep; it's definitely priced to sell.

The kids are kickin' it in swim team.  Patrick and Sarah Frances are the fastest on the team in their primary strokes in their age groups.  I'm a proud mama.  We have an assistant coach who is an Alabama fan, and my kids have a running "competition" with him.  It began when Patrick wore an Auburn shirt after practice.  The next day Thomas wore his Alabama one.  The next day all four of my kids paraded around in their AU ones.  His mother (whose mother (Thomas's grandmother)--get this--worships at my parents' church in itty-bitty Thomasville, AL, and who is herself an Auburn fan) said to be sure to tell her when we plan that again so she can get a pic of him with "his swimming kids" all in their Auburn gear and put it on FB for all his UA friends to see.  The NEXT day Thomas gave them each a bag of orange and blue jelly beans, hand picked from the bin at the grocery store.  A sweet peace offering, I think.  We love our team and our coaches!

And I have a new friend at swim team just for me.  Well, for all of us.  She's a pediatric PT with 4 kids whose husband is an elder at their church who home schools and works part time.  Our kids all get along really well, and it's a mutual affection all-around.  I'm thankful to have a new, good friend to see every day this summer.

Oh, and a touch of sad news.  Mary Martha is gone.  She moved out this weekend, and now I'm selfishly sad.  She's in a great spot, and I'm very excited for her.  But I miss her terribly already.  I miss her face and voice and steps coming down the hall.  And her listening ear and her stories.  And her earrings and shoes and electric kettle too, if I'm honest.  It was a WONDERFUL 2 years having her here with us.  Thursday morning (our standing coffee date for 3yr10mo) can't get here soon enough.

Anyway--I'm remembering when I was 8 months pregnant I would s.w.e.a.r. I could run a marathon if only I could.  It feels that way now.  If only it weren't storming.  At least I want to go run.  Next time I'll go in the morning.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Coming To Terms

Clearly I should just get settled in the unsettledness of life.  It seems we Browns are not granted much settledness apart from simply resting in the unknown and the always-coming changes.

I struggle with cynicism, but this is not that.  This is a fight for rest--even if it's not a deep rooted settling in.  For joy--which looks like smiling at my kids instead of barking in my fears and frustration that really have nothing to do with the frustrations they're actually causing me in the moment.  For not waiting for a job to do purposeful ministry--investing in relationships even if we're here only a while longer.

It changes lots of things.  Letting go of what everyone else calls "normal" and accepting that this right now is what God has called us to right now.  That only we have to (completely?) understand it.  Dropping my defenses that look like fists ready to pop whoever (unintentionally?) makes me feel...needy. wrong. weak. incompetent. unproductive.

It's looking ONLY to the Lord to provide for all of our different kinds of needs, however he desires to bring them to us.  It's finding gratitude for all he has provided and saying that it's enough.

It's letting go of rigid planning.  It's living with open hands and doors and schedules.  It's making the most of what's available when it's available.  It's not living with blinders on (where IS that light at the end of this tunnel?), but leaning into relationships.

Epiphany--I don't really want to stay the same anyway.  I'm working out my salvation, asking God daily to change me to be more like his perfect son, Jesus.  How can anything settle in too far if I'm going to keep changing anyway, Lord willing for the better?  Especially because he uses my people and circumstances to bring me to repentance and humble reliance on him!

How's that for verbal processing "on paper?"  Suh-weet!  Rebecca, rejoice in the ever-changing, plan-less, budget-less life we've been called to right now!  It's good to see changes!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Dinner Ever

Made the "best dinner ever" tonight.  Everyone asked for seconds.  The only things I adapted were that I used the frozen spinach and thin spaghetti I had on hand instead of fresh spinach and twirly pasta.

You're welcome, Amy. ;)


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Graduation Pics

The Procession (cape over his arm).

Walking back to his seat after receiving his diploma.

We graduated!!

Our parents and niece came to help us celebrate!

I LOVE Summer!

I mean I really, really love summer.  I suppose it has something to do this year with it being my second year that my job has stopped when school let out, so I've got it like I like it.  I'm home.  The kids are home.  We're enjoying all being together.  The girls are best friends again, using their imaginations together to come up with games to play.  They're both including the younger two who can almost entirely keep up with them.  Even the housework has been delightful to do--I am home to do it! (and it's been so long that there are remarkable results when a job is finished, lol.)

All four of the kids are ravenous readers right now too (someone is reading to Lillian).  And still into learning, which is so fun.  We're all learning US Geography from songs.  They discovered Khan Academy recently, and Catherine just might understand Algebra by the end of the summer if she keeps at it.  Patrick LOVES getting a star in the back of the reader that he completes.  I've found Sarah Frances in her bed reading when I expected her to be on a screen.  (Delights my heart!)  And Lillian is relearning a letter each day using a curriculum I had for homeschooling the older girls.  She woke me up early this morning asking if it's time for the letter of the day. :)  There have been nights where the TV is not turned on at all because we're all in the same room reading after dinner.  Dreamy.

Summer is also open season for hospitality around here.  The front door seems to revolve in the summer, and it suits us all.  We don't get that as much during the school year.  It feels right and good.  Normal.  Makes everyone happy.  And during the day we're free to go do fun things together, like drive down to City Garden for the morning.  Just because we can.

Happiness.  Contentment.  Fun.  That's what this first week of summer has brought.  That's enjoying the here and now, and I'm thankful for eyes to see and a heart that is resting in the now.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Allllllllmost Done

Brian just got an email that his field ed hours have been completed and approved. He's writing his last paper right now that is due tomorrow. And he has his last final ever on Friday. There may be a few loose ends to tie up by Monday, but we are THAT close to being finished with seminary.

Last thing is to pay any library fines. They won't let you graduate if you owe them even $0.10. For real.

I can hardly believe it. Surreal.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Here is Enough

Many of our friends are getting jobs and preparing to move on from St. Louis and seminary.  We still don't know where God is taking us.

It struck me this past weekend that if I were planning and preparing for whatever is next--looking at where to live, the schools in the area, what's fun to do there, how far it is from friends and family, not to mention cleaning out and packing the house--I'd be focused on the future.  I'd be so busy that I'd miss things here.

It would be nice to miss some things here in the present.  It's a big job to parent these kids, helping learning to relate well to each other--SF and C, SF and P, SF and L, C and P, C and L, P and L, me and SF, me and C, me and P, me and L, me and B, B and SF, B and C, B and P, B and L.  That's FIFTEEN relationships just in our immediate family.

But I'm seeing the blessing in not moving forward yet.  It's been a long four years of seminary, surviving monthly or weekly, often daily or momently.  Survival posture doesn't leave much room for living intentionally; it's mostly reactive.  Right now I'm thankful for some space to live intentionally, specifically focusing on parenting better.

I'm practicing resting in the not-knowing.  Not fighting so hard in my mind to figure it all out, scrapping for a plan and playing what-ifs all the time.  The here and now certainly has enough to keep my mind occupied.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lord, help me.

Please help me to live well with, yet above, my people and my circumstances.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Life Update

The girls are playing softball on the same team with girls all from their school.  Weekly practices; (mostly) weekend games.

Patrick is playing with some classmates on a team based out of a community league.  Weekend practices; week-night games.

Brian is currently working on a translation paper that's due tomorrow.  He passed up chance of a lifetime (for him) for *Cardinals home opener/Stan Musial Day* tickets with good friends in order to finish it on time.  That was a character-building experience, and I'm so proud of him.  He could have asked for an extension, or just turned it in late, but he never considered it.  I did.  He's a better man.

Our school's Fun Run Fundraiser that I'm in charge of is on Friday.  It can't get here soon enough.  I'm beginning to drop important balls that I've been juggling.  Time to wrap up this particular gig so I can make space in my brain for other things.

Lillian turned FIVE last month--or did I already say that sometime on here?  It's crazy how she's changed into a big girl in the last few months.  She's a funny, funny, funny person.

Patrick has changed too.  He's coming up on SEVEN in just a couple of months.  I'm sorry, but the boy is ripped.  His body is so filled out, muscle-wise.  I asked Brian if he had a chest, abs, and arms like that when he was that age, and he quickly said, "Not even close!"

Of course, at the end of the summer, Sarah Frances will be ELEVEN!  She and Patrick will both compete this summer as the oldest in their age group on the swim team.  It's going to be a great summer, swimteam-wise.

...assuming we'll still be in STL the entire summer.  Nothing is moving in a particular direction regarding a ministry call for Brian, but we've been encouraged by people remembering us, Senior Pastors recommending us for particular openings, other students making sure we see particular job postings.  I can say with full confidence that whoever gets Brian Brown is getting a huge secret.  A friend said well that he (and her husband) are the kind of guys who it's good to have around initially, but after a little bit they are indispensable.  My prayer at this point is to be somewhere for when school starts.

I haven't mentioned Catherine... This NINE year old (all caps for continuity) lives for others.  Seriously.  Total self-disregard, but will bend over backwards to care for someone in need.  She's excelling in school--first in her class in math.  It's amazing the things she "sees" in math.  It all fits together easily for her.

And, I don't think I've mentioned yet, that I did end up getting a tattoo this winter.  It says "rest" in Greek, like the rest for your soul in Matthew 11.  Look it up--good stuff.  I forget I have it, then see it.  And it seriously helps my anxiety/fears/worry.  I seriously love having it.  Oh, it's on the inside of my left foot in black ink.  And very pretty.  Seriously.:)

Alright, I'm off to start a load of towels before I completely crash.  Or not.  But if I put them on now, I can dry them in the morning.  But if I start that, I'll keep working till too late.  Oh, decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blown Away

I heard tonight that my friend from seminary, truly the first person I met on the campus playground after we moved here, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Erica had on Chacos and runners clothes, and I p.r.o.m.i.s.e. I knew she was a therapist before I even talked to her.  Turns out she IS a physical therapist, which she just finished her doctorate in, btw.  Turns out the Lord took us to her and Dan's church to join for our time here.  Turns out they were one of the only families to invite all 6 of us over to dinner in their tiny campus apartment, where they introduced us to Birds and Bees coffee from Kaldi's.  Turns out her oldest son was in Patrick's class that year, a friendship that had Patrick and Brian calling Alex and Dan to go to a Cards game for his birthday when we ended up with 2 extra tickets.  Turns out they kept reaching outward, willing to invest in new people, even though it was their fourth and last year, a trick many (of us?) have trouble with.

I am blown away with sadness.

And I got an email tonight about another May grad likely getting a job.  And I'm not trusting right now.  My take-over-control-freakiness is fighting, pushing against my skin from the inside like some alien trying to escape the shell of my body.

I MUST trust and rest.

And finish this glass of wine before I go to bed.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Winter 2013 Newsletter

For some reason, I can't get the pdf of our newsletter onto the blog.  Go figure.  Let me know if you want one via email, with pics.

Graduation: May 2013
With only 2 months until graduation, we are trusting God to place us in the right church at the right time.  

Two months until graduation begs the question, “What’s next, Browns?”  We can honestly say we don’t know.  Brian has applied for a number of jobs, Assistant Pastor or Solo Pastor mostly, but so far we don’t have much insight into where God is taking us.  We are learning to take life a day at a time, faithfully doing the work that is put before us.
What we are learning more than ever is that God loves us perfectly and is caring for us even in this time of uncertainty.  We are practicing resting in His goodness and His perfect plan.  Someone gave me a word picture I (Rebecca) like: our future is still blurry and out of focus.  It is down there, at the end of this tunnel named seminary.  We know it’s coming, and we couldn’t stop it if we tried, but we can’t quite make out what any of the details are.  So we wait.  And PRAY.  We are eager for a call, but we will love people here until God provides one.
For now, Brian continues working as a Missions Intern at the Kirk of the Hills, the Aftercare Director of Kirk Day School, and a researcher with the Missouri cohort of the Pastor’s Summit.  I am an aide with the 3 year old class as well as PE teacher at Covenant Christian School.  I’m also a researcher with the Pastor’s Summit, just quarterly.  All of these jobs end in May.  Please PRAY with us for whatever is next, that we will trust God’s faithful timing.
        But if we hope for what we do not see, we 
        wait for it with patience. Romans 8:25

Friday, March 1, 2013

Juggling Pots and Pans

Tuesday Patrick threw up once.  And that was it.  He missed his field trip on Wed, but that was the worst of it.

Today, while getting ready for school, Lillian threw up.  Brian decided to skip class so I could go to work.  Later, on the way to the seminary so that B and I could tag for his very important class, she threw up in his car.

He headed home in the "throw-up car," gave up on going to class, and I was heading back to the school to sub for the afternoon when we got the call that Catherine had thrown up in the hall on the way to the bathroom.

I decided to quit the sub job (my sick bebes needed their momma, and their daddy needed her help), and headed home.

Brian had Lillian in the tub, we tagged anyway, and he left to bring C home.  I've been doing my best to keep up with cleaning out the pots as needed since then.

At least it's the weekend, and maybe we can all be well by Monday.

And why would you want to know about this??  I'm hitting Publish anyway, really against my better judgement...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Run Away

I need to start running. To burn calories. To get away. To exhaust myself. To stir up those crack endorphins I hear about. To cope. To feel good.

I think the kids are old enough of me to make a loop around our block, passing the house every 2 min or less? I'd be a better mother too, if I took better care of myself like this. Maybe I'll leave them in aftercare today and go run at the park for 30min.

Maybe today is the day. Maybe. It should be. I mean, why not?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two quick updates

1. We're not approved for church planting in the US, they said.

2. I was away on what I'll call my once-a-decade Mother's Sabatical for four full days this past weekend (it was WONDERFUL, more later), and tonight, my first night back, my big-little boy threw up. Welcome home, right? Truthfully I'm so glad it's me caring for him, although he keeps asking when his daddy is going to be home.

And that's all I know.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Church Planting Readiness Seminar

It's a big weekend.  We're going to this CPRS at the seminary tonight for 2 1/2 hours and tomorrow for eight.  There are talks and interviews, times to give information and to learn what church planting looks like.

We've called in favors and farmed our kids out.  We've prayed about and prepped (a little) for how we'll communicate our hearts about our call to love others.

Please pray with us.  This has potential to be a hard weekend.  It absolutely will be exhausting.  Pray for clarity for our calling.  For willingness to hear the good and the hard.

For the kids to be cooperative and kind with the other families.

And ask God to provide a calling for us at the end of these four years of training.  And for peace until one comes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just Hanging Out

How do I spend my time these days in STL?  Oh, you know, just hanging out with Rampage (the mascot for the STL Rams) and Fredbird (the Cardinal's mascot).  We're buds now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ginny's Cancer Story

Ginny Bourland, our friend with ovarian cancer who I've mentioned before, is going to MD Anderson soon.

Here is her most recent update:

Ginny Bourland Caring Bridge

We are praying she is cancer free soon.  Again.  I won't update you on her all the time, but I also didn't want to leave the story where it was at my last post..  She needs our prayers.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Broken and Ready

I was reminded tonight of how--before I was a parent--I used to know how to parent.  I could give a solid, logical, sensible (and correct!) suggestion of how to handle almost any situation the kids could present.  I could also logically and directly (and correctly!) explain how parenting contributed to the issue at hand.  Basically, I was educated and aware but cocky and over-confident.  Unfortunately I didn't really know this was my posture (about many subjects, if I'm honest).  Even after we'd had kids for a while.  A long while.

There may have been truth to what I saw and what I had to stay about it.  But I was wrong in my approach and judgement of the people and circumstances involved.

Tonight I had a fresh and kind awareness about myself.  Fresh because it's a new topic.  Kind because the Lord has opened my eyes to my pride and arrogance.  Because I'm in danger of adopting that awful posture again, this time regarding being a pastor's wife.  Not so much in judging others but feeling I've got the answers.

I'm in a class this semester where seasoned pastor's wives discuss topics unique to our calling.  Brian and I have also been researchers for a group of pastors and their wives for the last 18 months, listening to their stories of what it's like to be a pastor (or his wife) and to be a man who is a pastor (or woman who is his wife).  Part of our training for the research job is to hear of others' stories too.  And of course Brian has been taught so much about this in his classes at the seminary.  We have been privileged to hear many, many wonderful and awful stories; what a blessing to feel so well prepared, so eager to GO do the work.

But the bottom line is I've never been a pastor's wife.  Until it IS my role, I really have no idea what it's going to be like for me.  And I can't think I know what I'll do until I'm actually there, until I have a real grasp of all the factors playing in to my life.  I'm left needy.  Prepared, but needy.

It is good to be reminded of sin patterns.  To see God's work in changing me.  To fight against cycling back into old habits.  Reminded that I've been broken, humbled to the dust.  Because only then can I offer the mercy I have received.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Recipes for Amy

Monterey Chicken

Jackie's Rice Salad is in the first (?) FPC cookbook.

Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas

Broccoli Cheese Soup

And other recent hits in our house, just because I love you (all on my Pinterest food board)!
Quinoa and Roasted Butternut Squash
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
That Crockpot Chicken Recipe
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Cookie and Oreo Fudge Brownies
BOARS chicken

What's For Dinner, You Ask?

Monterey chicken with a spinach salad and roasted broccoli / brussel sprouts, because Monday is the only night we'll all be at the house to eat dinner together at the table.

CFA, because it's Tuesday.

Jackie's Rice Salad with curry dressing and spinach wrapped in a tortilla, because it's easy and portable to take up to the church so we can eat with our church family.

Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas, because it's in the crockpot and a Thursday (crazy).

Pizza for the kids, because Brian and I have a date.

Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe and crispy baguette, because it was a huge hit last time.

Left-over scrounging for Sunday.

Other options--Trader Joe's pasta and soup
                        My spaghetti sauce
                        Hoagies in the crockpot (think Momma G's)

I'm off to the kitchen to do as much as I can, because it helps me SO MUCH during the week!  Maybe.  Or maybe I'll read Pride and Prejudice instead...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

February Girl Trip

So my friend Karen moved to Colorado in October.  We've said from the beginning, wouldn't it be great if I could go out to see her?

Well, God started working out the details last summer, months before she even knew she was moving.  We had planned to drive down to AL as a family in August, but I was going to need to come back to work at boot camp before the others needed to leave.  So I booked a one-way flight from Bham to STL for myself.  Non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Then I was able to quit boot camp and cancel the ticket.  But keep the credit with Southwest that was in my name only.

So I've got to fly SOMEWHERE or lose it, right?

Well, the weekend Karen invited me out in Feb actually works great for us here.  I thought I'd fly out after work on Friday and come back Mon. afternoon, giving me two and a half days there and losing only one day of work here.

But flying in the early morning on Friday saves more than the income I'd make by staying for work that day.  And I was already going to eat it for Monday and get a sub.  And my credit covered over half the cost of the flights.  And I already have the rest and some extra for spending tucked away in my jewelry box from extra work I did this fall.

So...bottom line...I get FOUR DAYS in Denver with my dear friend whose husband is going to be out of town.  In February.  It's going to be so beautiful.  And it's my second girl trip ever.  What sweet timing that God would provide this respite in a crazy season.

Let's all pray we're all healthy and nothing thwarts these best laid plans!