Thursday, December 20, 2007

Please have snow and mistle-toe and [coffee] under the tree..

Going home for Christmas! There is not much more that i have been able to think about today besides me leaving tomorrow morning for my home town. I love Colorado and i miss my family tremendously. Last year we celebrated Christmas in Georgia with the McBrayer side of our family and the year before we celebrated Christmas with a few dozen orphans in 90-degree Kenya. So, this will be our second Christmas in CO since we've been married, but our first in the last few years.

Wow, just can't wait! I borrowed some of John Fielder's pictures of my hometown for you!

Roxborough state park a stone-throw south west of Littleton.

Sunrise on Grant Lake in my parent's neighborhood.

Here it is!

So Landon's already on his way. he and duvick crammed themselves along with our junk into Landon's blazer this morning and left around 6am. I will leave around 4:30tomorrow morning in order to catch the first flight out of here to meet up with them tomorrow morning. My boys should arrive to my parent's house tonight. I'm a bit jealous that they get to have a reunion without me...but i'll follow just 12 hours later.

So, these next 12 days we'll be in Colorado. To those of you who we dearly love, whom we will not get to see this year, please know that we do miss you and think of you. As we all celebrate Christ together this Christmas, we are in the same heart! We love you all and wish you a safe and joyous Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wonderful Wintry Day!

Landon and i had an amazing Sunday. As you know, Landon is done with his fall semester (YAY!!!) So i had him ALL TO MYSELF on Sunday! We went to church and then we went cross country skiing, and then to starbucks (Landon's idea - not kidding!). Then we took a nap and then went to a movie (INTO THE WILD) and then out to dinner. Awesome day! I totally cherish days like these.

Well, it snowed ALL DAY Saturday! But it was one of those beautiful snows, where it is not icy and windy, but a sweet, warmer, calmer, continuous snow. Which yielded a sunny Sunday, perfect for skiing! We went to a different park for skiing yesterday. Besides dodging snowmobielers, it was really peaceful. Landon made a comment, that since we are pretty much the only people out in the snow, it makes him feel like we are more secluded out here than we really are. I agree, and it's nice. Who would know that we're skiing in a local park - we might as well be out in the country! See Landon, skiing on water!!

When we went to starbucks afterwards in our outdoor get-up, my co-workers thought i looked a bit weird and asked me , "what's cross country skiing?" man, oh, man....

While Landon was at work on Saturday (after i got home at 1:30) i had a chance to wrap the rest of our Christmas presents. I always enjoy doing this. And this year i had a little elf who was SO helpful

(i'm SO kidding!)

Duvick's favorite game besides fetch, is for Landon to push him away and then Duvick charges back, Landon pushes him away, and Duvick comes back and tries to grab Landon's hands with his teeth. Makes it difficult for a wife to get wrapping done. When i push Duvick away from my tedious wrapping, he runs back and pounces on my back, biting my hair. Then i reach back to grab the tape way over there, and he thinks i'm laying prostrate for him, so he jumps on me and tries to bite my hands and my arms. ARGH! I was so mad, i was near hysteria. But i just laughed and laughed - that's what happens when you have a puppy who has been trained to wrestle with daddy on the living room rug...
Duvick kept grabbing my wrapped presents and carrying them around the room, so i gave him some of his own wrapping paper and ribbon to chew on. LEAVE ME ALONE, silly!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Wow, i never thought i would ever say that (or type it!). Not that i'm all done drinking Starbucks coffee, i just really really really need a break from working at starbucks. I love to brighten the days of those coffee-addicts, like my local friendly barista would brighten my day back when i was a joe-addict (or at least when i used to PAY for my addiction). Really, it is a privilege and a joy. Yet, working until 10:45pm or waking at 3:15am just seems like a sacrifice that i really shouldn't have to make for the sake of some one's coffee. WHO IS AWAKE AT 4AM? and WHO DRINKS COFFEE SO LATE AT NIGHT!? Well, i guess someone does, but i just haven't met those customers yet.

Because of my heavy traveling schedule that i have had for ACSI this fall, i have had to pick up about 25 extra hours this month, making this a 39 hour work week (and that's only my starbucks hours) in order to keep my insurance with 'bucks (which took me 4 months of work before i was eligible). And, my insurance is the only reason i work for starbucks, so when i was at risk for losing it - well, that just won't happen.

Monday morning i did something that every barista shuns and avoids and hates. i "clopened" where, you close at 10:45 the night before and start work at 4am the next day. only making it physically possible for you to get 4 hours of sleep - and that's only if you can fall asleep immediately when you get home. It was awful! But i needed the hours in order to keep my insurance. So, i feel like a walking-starbucks-maniac.

I am drowning in coffee... i'm sick of the smell of steamed milk and the smell of myself when i have a layer of coffee-smell in my hair and on my clothes. i took a shower when i got home from work this morning and put on all fresh clothes from the closet and still smell like starbucks!!! eek! i think it's my bra.

Well, in these 2 weeks i only get one day off, and that day is sunday, which is soon! so i'm looking forward to that, and i really should not complain because i won't have to work for the week and a half that i have in colorado for christmas. ... but yes, for now, i am sick of starbucks.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Psalm 124

If the LORD had not been on our side -
let Israel say-
if the LORD had not been on our side
when men attacked us,
when their anger flared against us,
they would have swallowed us alive;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters would have swept us away.

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler's snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

This was once my praise. What a precious psalm this has been to me ever since my life was so close to being taken away. We discovered the intentions of the shooters at Columbine high school, and realized that there were bombs planted directly beneath us that weren't detonated. Cowering below our desks, we watched the shooters walk past our classroom door and toss a bomb into the room next to us. We sat next to a dieing man for four hours who perished after we were finally evacuated at gun point... And i carried a great guilt for surviving that day. I carried that guilt for a very long time. And then this passage, this song of David, became my song. When other's asked, "how could God let this happen?", i wondered, "why did he save me?".

The events of yesterday have me thinking on that day. I want to say "those days" because the pain and healing and repercussions of that single day lasted years.... And i hurt terribly for my friends at New Life church and those of YWAM just north of my hometown. News like this always hits a little close to home and saddens me greatly. But this, even more, as i know the people involved and i can see the place, and picture it all from my memory. And i know the pain and difficulty in healing from surviving a terrible thing.

Yesterday during lunch, Landon and i had a discussion about evil (as he is the resident expert on the metaphysics of this issue). I'm not sure if we agree that people are inherently evil - i tend to think that they are inherently good, but have the capability of being truly evil if they are persuaded to by an evil power. But that has always been a fault of mine - my steadfast hope of good and trust in others...

If it were a year ago, the shootings Sunday would have persuaded me even more that God had abandoned them as he has so many others. Yet, last Sunday i realized a truth that is so deep and simple, i am so ashamed to not have clearly understood. As Christ's suffering on the cross was more than his physical pain, his true torture was being separated from God. Only in separation from God, could Christ carry and atone for the sins of the world - for one that is God must be separate from sin. And so i see, that Christ was abandoned by God (for that short time) in order that we never again would be. And this is the truth that i understand and cling to. As Christ said, "in this world you will have trouble. but take heart! i have overcome the world...and I am with you always..." (John 16, Matt 28).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Skiing in Illinois

Last night and this morning blessed us with a beautiful snow here. Our last snow ended in an ice-storm, which made the snow nasty. So this one was very welcome, with big floating flakes and sunny skies, leaving us with quite a "measurable" snow (that's what i heard it's called on the radio when it's more than an inch). We actually have about 9 or 10 inches and it's all soft and great!

This Christmas my parents bought us some cross-country skis, as we are desperately looking for some sports to enjoy here in illinois, that we don't have to have a gym membership for. We know that it is a Christmas present, but we just couldn't hold off on the chance to enjoy this sweet snow!! We had SO MUCH FUN cross country skiing in the park about half a mile from our house behind the local highschool. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Note to self, when Landon tells you to do some cool move, DON"T DO IT!

Down hill skiing, illinois style!

Look at Landon go!!! of course, someone had to cut that awesome trail for him...

Duvi boy, loving the snow!

Sunset here. The park closes at sundown, so those pretty colors through the trees were our sign to jump out of our skiis and get on home.
Our lovely 30 minutes in the snow culminated with warm cups of hot cocoa!
Now Landon's back in his books and i'm back to answering emails and sending mail for sponsorship. But it was nice to have a great break. Today was Landon's last day of classes for the semester. He gave a presentation today and turned in a paper. Just a few more papers to write and a final to study for, and come next Friday, his first semester of seminary will be complete! But until then, he is BUSY in the books!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

new (soon-to-be) sister in the fam!

Pooks slipped a ring on her finger thanksgiving weekend...

And fitting with the name theme of married-in McBrayer women (Ann, Anna, and Hannah) (with an exception to Crystal), her name is LeeAnn (seriously!). So sounds pretty perfect.

What a sweet picture of the happy couple. Their wedding date is scheduled for May 10, 2008.
For those of you who can't keep the McBrayer Nation straight, Preston (Pooks) is landon's cousin-brother, who is the same age as Landon. We love him.

Friday, November 30, 2007

the raking of the leaves

it took only one night of below-freezing temperatures to usurp our golden, dangling maple leaves and wither them to the earth...leaving us with a yard full of leaves! our land-lord left us only one rake (and who wants to buy another one when that means that she would have to help!), so landon spent several hours of wooing the leaves to the curb.

we have the coolest waste management system here than anywhere else i've ever lived! it's great: we have the opportunity to recycle EVERYTHING recyclable for only $4 a month! and beyond that, during the weeks of november, the WM guys come around in this special jumbo-vacuum truck and suck up all of the trees in the neighborhood - if they're swept to the curb.

landon and i have decided that we're pretty sure that we had the most leaves of anyone in our neighborhood. oh yeah, and what is really awesome is that our neighbor, whom we have never before spoken to, came over into our yard with his leaf blower and let landon borrow it - then he came with his rake and helped landon before it got dark! what a nice guy. that was surely a blessing. the more i get to know our neighbors, the more i like living in this neighborhood.

one thing my colorado-born-and-raised mind can't understand..... why is our grass still green and my mums still blooming purple?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving in Gurnee

Some pictures from our thanksgiving holiday with justin, anna, and their boys! click on any picture to catch a (much) larger glimpse!
The Shedd Planitarium in the Chicago moonlight

The Field Museum, next to the planitarium

The man-eating lions of Tsavo, KENYA, who ate 140 men! wow.

Patrick partying-out in the museum

Landon in front of Mt. Kenya! He has conquered this mountain!
Uncle Dooney with Aeneas. (Landon was smiling on the inside)
Justin on the bed of an ancient Egyptian

Patrick after his blue lolli-pop
Downtown Chicago at night

Landon and Justin carving our fried free-range turkey. These guys made an AMAZING Thanksgiving feast!

Aeneas is playing with Landon's stubble and asking him for a cousin to play with!

Justin, Anna and Patrick in front of the light-house on lake Michigan in Waukegan

Patrick is SOOOO excited to be on the train!

Walking on the Des Plaines trail on Thanksgiving day. We had our first snow!

Momma Anna with Patrick

Aeneas all bundled in the stroller

Patrick - master pianist. Wow, he REALLY loved to play on my keyboard. great little player and composer.

We had SO much fun with Justin, Anna and the boys on Thansgiving! What a blessing and a treat to have them come visit. I hope you enjoyed our several pictures and that you also had a blessed Thansgiving with family.


Each year, it is tradition in my mother's family to decorate my grandmother's Christmas tree. Each year my grandmother and my mother give us Christmas ornaments to put on our own tree at home. Here are some pictures of us with our new ornaments this year!
My Georgia boy proudly displaying his Coca Cola pride! He also got an ornament from Grandma Marsha that is a Santa in full camo and a rifle!
here is a picture of me with an angel ornament Grandma Marsha gave me. I also got a Precious Moments ornament from my mom and dad (keeping with tradition).

Duvick also thoroughly enjoyed opening Christmas ornament presents!

Thanks Mom, Dad, and Grandma Marsha!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Those of you who followed our blog while we were in Kenya, or who know us more intimately, know that this little boy was a constant source of joy and heartache for us! While Landon and i were in Kenya July 05 - June 06 we fell in love with Daniel. We had strong hopes of adopting him, until his mother returned to the orphanage 2 weeks before we left, claiming that she wanted him back (we were so surprised to see her - everyone thought she was dead). Daniel had no idea who she was, and had asked us to take him home with us and never return him to the orphanage. I remember our flight to the US from Kenya, i just cried and cried, feeling like i had abandoned him back in Africa, feeling like leaving without him was so contrary to everything within me. And every special moment the next year, every holiday, i felt a loss for not having him to be a part of our family, to be with us in those special moments. Anyways...that's beside the point except to say that somehow in my mind, i was going to be this precious boy's mother and am not, with no hopes of soon having him for my son.

Well, Kevin, our friend and fellow missionary from Africa had a chance to return to the Limuru Children Centre as he was preparing a missions trip for the youth in his church, and his wife, Cori, sent me this current picture of Daniel.
I thought that some of you would really enjoy seeing this picture of Daniel. Hasn't he grown so much since we last saw him in June of last year? He is still at the orphanage. His mother is unable to care for him because she is dieing of AIDS and can't keep a job or acquire a place to live. I'm not sure the current story about her, as after my last email to the orphanage, i sort of threw in the hat. Patrick sent the sweetest reply to my email, saying that his extended family would not be against our adopting him, but the mother is. Of COURSE, she is. She is a dieing woman with one precious thing in the world - of course she would want to hold onto this sweet boy as long as she has life! I don't blame her for this, though, as i love Daniel, it is my ethnocentric and selfish perspective to wonder if her wanting to keep him at the orphanage for her every-once-in-a-while visits is not the best thing for him.... But he looks happy, and with his now 3 years at the orphanage, it seems he has found a family and a home there with the workers and the other kids. If we receive an email some day from the orphanage indicating that Daniel is available to be in our family, Landon and i would jump at the chance!
Here is Landon with Daniel a few days before we left...

Friday, November 16, 2007

The grind

here are some interesting pictures from our life...

This is the extent of my Thanksgiving decorations - and i actually burned the ceiling of my house with the candles. oops!

A few weeks ago, the fire people were coming around through the neighborhood and "flushing" the fire-hydrants. This was shooting 3 times as far when i ran to grab the camera. This is also a picture of our front yard.

Landon's most recent instance of Grilled chesse blasphomy.

Back to it. Life. I haven't had the chance to read in awhile. I've been drinking coffee a lot more lately. I woke only 3 hours after Landon went to bed this morning. This is life. Landon's been cranking out the hours on his first of 3 majors papers this last month of the semester. While he's at his computer, I am frantically busy at mine, trying to catch up with sponsorship matters, as my trips out of town put me majorly more behind.

It was Landon's idea when we first moved here to put our desks in different rooms. Mine is in the main room, which gets the most sunlight. landon's is in the "study" (the smallest room in the back of the house), which gets the least sunlight. But i guess that's appropriate, as i work at my desk during the day and he works at his desk during the night. But on days that Landon is not at school or Erehwon and we are both at our desks, i guess he had great foresight in putting our desks in separate rooms. As I am easily distracted and he needs quite and structure.

So, nothing new here, just back to our jam-packed days of nothing too exciting. Though, this week has been COLD! My mornings working at the drive-thru at Starbucks in the dark have been very challenging because they have been SO COLD! it is difficult for me to make change, when my fingers are so numb and hard to nimble-out the change. This morning when i arrived to work at 3:55a the sprinklers were going, and before the sun came out, our customers were sliding through the drive-thru on patches of black-ice! That makes for happy customers: not only are they sleepy, without caffeine, on their way to work, and freezing cold, they are challenged by black ice! Sometimes our customers are so uninspiring. Oh, except yesterday - i had two customers purchase the coffee for the cars behind them! Wow!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dirty Duvick

This is the look Duvick gives us when he's in trouble. Only, in this picture he is not in trouble, but he IS very dirty and landon is giving him a "bath" (just rubbing him down in the river). Duvick actually never gets a REAL bath, because he's an outside dog and the oils on his fur take a long time to build up and they are very valuable in keeping him warm and dry in the winter. so, we just love our stinky, dirty boy.

Wow, look at him book it toward the water to get that retrieve!

Dirty toes.

Super boy!!! and he is not carrying a roll of toilet paper.

um, there was a puddle of leaves here in the calm of the river and Duvick through it was land - he jumped right in and was covered in whatever it was that was floating on the water - gross!