Sunday, September 30, 2007

Duvick meets Mr. Beaver

Yesterday we took Duvick on a walk next to the river behind the middle school, where landon threw dummies for him to retrieve in heavy cover and in the running water. Duvick was a champ, as usual. Landon never puts Duvick on a leash because Duvick is really good about coming back to us when we call him and he's a pretty smart little puppy. though at the end of our walk he darted after this huge brown thing in the school field. Landon and i both thought it was a stump until it started to move and Duvick started to follow it with much curiosity (and a smart amont of caution). I was terrified! "LANDON!" Duvick didn't want to come back when landon blew the "come" command on his whistle. Instead he continued to follow Mr. Beaver, who was quite perterbed and waddling toward the river. Luckily, the beaver returned to the water and Duvick didn't. Wow, if Duvick would have licked him or tried to play with him, i'm sure that beaver could have distroyed our little pup. Welp, now we know that beavers live there, so we can use more caution in the future. I had never seen a beaver of that hugeness in my entire life - both landon and i didn't even know what it was until it started moving, it was ginormous!

oh, the adventures of the mid-west...


Friends and Fams,

thanks for your thoughts and prayers while I was in Guatemala - i am now home safe and sound.

it was a really short trip - 3 days total in Guatemala. My first day in Guatemala, we visited 3 of our ACSI schools in Guatemala City (see picture). I got to meet a lot of our precious sponsored kids - i recognized them right away when i saw them sitting in their classrooms. They were so grateful for my visit - it was so precious to get to finally embrace these kids after this last year of them in my daily thoughts and prayers!
The second day, we drove a few hours south, to the coast of Guatemala. Once we got out of Guatmela city, the skies opened and through the clear air i could see a horizon of volcanoes - really amazing. Another full day of visiting ACSI schools and meeting kids and "talking" to directors. I was really surprised that practically no one in Guatemala knew english. Wow, that sounds so awful for my surprise, but everywhere else i've been in the world, i have been able to communicate with people at least on a minimal level: thailand, kenya, tanzania, uganda, mexico...but not in guatemala.

The third day we drove a few hours into the mountains of Antigua. This may have been my favorite day. It was so lush and beautiful in Antigua and the people of Antigua wore traditional guatemalan dress, which was beautiful. and we drove beside vast fields of coffee! It's amazing the way the coffee clings onto these very steep hill-sides. Starbucks has fields in Antigua, Guatemala and i was happy to see some coffee!

Then we spent the afternoon in the town of Antigua, which was the first place i saw other caucasian people - i guess it's a touristy town, but it was really an incredible little town. Much unlike the other towns, but really neat to see some old old buildings - all the colors and the architecture were amazing. yet, the people of antigua have been kicked out of the town, forced to sell their property and now walk long distances to sell their goods in antigua, or the students walk forever to continue to attend their school.
(this is a picture from the center of antigua)

It was a very short trip, but a blessing to meet those in our latin american office in Guatemala city and to meet our school directors and especially our kiddies within our schools.

though, i wish that i could have spent more time there as a tourist - i wish i could have learned more about the culture and spent time in northern guatmala as well - maybe another time. my 4 years learnin spanish during my teenage years began to kick in during my last few days there. i was able to understand a bit of what was going on but it was very difficult for me to respond - i kept speaking swahili to the people - gosh, it was embarrassing to try to communicate, i felt awful for being less prepared (should have learned spanish last week before i left!).

I will send more pictures later - these are all pictures i found on the internet of things i saw, but they are not my actual pictures.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This week has been a fast one, filled with nothing too exciting. I've worked under 20 hours at Starbucks this week - the first time ever! It's been nice to have my days at home to do my other job, and get a few naps in after my early mornings. Plus, I feel like i've really gotten to spend more time with my wonderful husband, which is always a blessing.

Landon is continuing to enjoy his classes and he talks to me about what he is reading - it seems he really is challenged by his reading material, besides the fact that he reads over 1000 pages a week. Right now he is at work. I am in a Bible study with wives of men attending Trinity, and my husband is the only one with a job - we've heard that seminary at Trinity is so difficult that it's near impossible to stay both: in school, married, or employed - one of those has got to go! (those aren't the exact words they used at Landon's orientation to Trinity, but it's the gist they gave...)

Duvick has finally mastered the "down" command (yay!) and has only managed to demolish one of my pairs of shoes (my 2002 Z/2 chaco's - nooooo!).

This is exciting: this last weekend we got to meet, for the first time, our little niece, Addison Magnolia! Ann and Addie were up here visiting Ann's brother and we were so fortunate that they had some time to stop by and spend the afternoon with us. What a joy! It's amazing - we've gotten to see so many of the McBrayers since we've moved to this side of the Mississippi - more than ever before! It's really really wonderful to get to see them, though we miss our Colorado family. In a month from this weekend, we will meet the majority of Landon's family in North Carolina at "the mountains", a family tradition that Landon has missed out on since we've been married (3 years in a row!) and is finally going to enjoy again this fall, and i'm excited to get to spend time with family and meet our other little niece, Greenlee!

Shopping for baby clothes is fun, but it is like shopping for a husband for our first Christmas - i have NO idea what size to buy things, or what colors are best, or what would even be most needed or desired! So, in buying something small for each of my new nieces, i must have spent an hour and a half in that baby store in the mall. I was talking to the other ladies there, "aren't these clothes simply precious?" I don't think they were enjoying themselves as much as i was, but they were much more productive.

Monday morning i'm leaving for Guatemala. Everyone i talk to is so excited and slightly jealous and i'm mostly just nervous. I would love it if i were going with a friend or family member (though my co-worker, Dan, is becoming a good friend), or if i knew spanish or at least one of the people over there...but i don't know anyone there, and i'm staying in a fancy hotel all by myself. I'm excited to see for myself the impact that sponsorship makes in the lives of our precious little kiddies in Guatemala. I worry that i will be saddened - missing my African orphans - i have finally moved beyond daily tears of missing them. But i am happy to see Guatemala, to interact with the people, to appreciate our educators and school directors out there, and to play with the kids! I do love my job... If you think of me this next week, please pray for my safety, as Guatemala City does not have the reputation of being overly hospitable to Americans (to put it nicely).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

African adoption

Friends and family in Colorado,

One of my friends from my highschool and APU days is living in Littleton with her husband and daughter and they are actively pursuing adopting in Ethiopia, East Africa. Right now they are trying to raise money for the adoption (it is SO expensive!). They are hosting a spaghetti dinner and silent auction on October 20 to raise money. If any of you have something to donate to the auction or are interesting in attending to support the adoption, please let me know. Brittlee does an amazing job at keeping her blog about the adoption updated, so please check here if you want any more information or are just interested. Also, of you are somehow compelled to help, you can give financially from their blog as well.

Brittlee has no idea that i am posting about this, i just think that one of the most precious things imagionable is to adopt a little orphan from Africa and raise them in a loving family - to give that little one a chance for his/her future. I think that orphan adoption is truly answering God's call to love the orphans and widows. I am just so moved and inspired by what they are doing, that i thought i would share with ya'll in case you are as touched as i am.

(this is a picture Brittlee took while she was visiting the Kibera Slum in Kenya in 2003)

Thanks for taking the time to look at her blog. (for those interested in their adoption process, you can visit their other blog) Also, at this link you can purchase some hand-made jewelry that her mother has made for the adoption - beautiful African pendants and such...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Colorado Autumn

Last night over hot coca and cigars Landon and i were talking about how this is the time of year that the Colorado mountains turn golden.

I know that Autumn is more beautiful in many different places besides Colorado (particularily the Southeast), and Colorado's autumn mostly just smells divine, but is not as colorful as fall in other places because our first snow comes so soon and kills the colorful leaves....yeah, Colorado fall doesn't last very long. But one of Colorado's marvels is autumn in the Rockies.

The golden leaves of the aspen trees flood the mountains. As a child, i remember my entire family would get together and make a celebration of the coming of the golden leaves. We would cram in my parent's minivan and drive the curvy roads of the Rockies to be amidst the golden aspen leaves. The wind would play through the drying leaves and blow a shower of gold through the air and upon the mountain road. What a beautiful thing. Landon and i will miss Colorado autumn this year.

But on the other hand, i am looking into visiting corn-mazes, pumpkin patches, apple orchards, and finding a place that offers hay-rides. I'm sure we will get many colors beyond the apen gold here in Illinois, but i will miss those few weeks of absolute beauty in Colorado.

Autumn is coming here soon, i hope!! Today the temperate is in the 60's and the sun is shining! It is such a beautiful day and i'm wearing multiple layers and drinking coffee to stay warm as i sit here in front of the computer working, not moving much. I am glad to feel the heat leave us a bit! What a relief! Maybe the mosquitos will leave with it?

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Sunday is my favorite day of the week, for no righteous reason, but rather a selfish one. Sunday is the only day that Landon and i both request off of work. It is the only day of the week that we both have off of work, and i guard my Sundays with my husband. We slept through church - but we're honestly trying not to make a habit of it. We ate buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, with eggs over-easy, oj and starbucks anniversary blend coffee(yum!). Then we took Duvi to the beach and then to the park for some retrieves. When we went to the "beach" (shore of Lake Michigan), we hiked down a few trials that led to a more secluded beach. The wake there was too rough for Duvick to do water retrieves and for some reason dogs were allowed on this beach anyway, so after watching the water we drove to our favorite park where Duvick got to do some double-retrieves. He's getting so good! He's also getting really big - 35lbs, our vet told us Thursday when he got his rabies shot. He should be about 85, Landon says, so he's still a little smaller than half his grown-up size, but he's a big boy. He's growing sweeter as he gets older, though, and we love having him in our lives!

Well, we finished planting our invisible fence yesterday so Landon's getting the yard ready for some training.

Then we're planning on going to a biker-bar/restaurant called fatman's. it'll be fun to try a local place for dinner.

Starbuck's grand opening of our new store was fun. It's neat to get to know my partners and it's fun to be in a new store. i miss my old partners a bit, but am grateful for the opportunity i have to invest into a few of the women that i work with. To landon's excitement (and mine too, really) there is a Moe's opening right across from my new store (for those of you who are not from the Southeast, Moe's is much like Chipotle - but Landon will claim that it's much better - i don't agree, but that's between us....just know, it's exciting!).

Also, this week i will be working at Starbucks 4 days, all beginning at 4:30AM! This sounds awful, but i'm actually so grateful - it's been hard for me to balance both of my jobs, and i think that getting off in the early afternoon will enable me to spend more time on Sponsorship. Yay for 12-hour days that start at 4:30am! Just kidding. Well, actually, i'm not kidding, but i am grateful that i will be able to get more done - it's been pretty burdonsome lately to not get to spend as much time on sponsorship as i would like. Even if i'm putting in plenty evening hours, i can't connect with sponsors or headquarters after business hours, so it still leaves me with those things undone. Anyways, i'm hoping that my working 4 days beginning before sunrise will be good for me. I'll let you know next week. hey, if i'm getting up so early, at least i'm going somewhere with a bottomless supply of coffee!

Tomorrow night i have my second meeting of Trinity Wives Fellowship in Gurnee. It's a small group of women (10-12) who live in Gurnee and have husbands going to Trinity. I was so blessed by my 2 hours with them a few weeks ago, i am so excited to attend the meeting this week - maybe get to know some of the ladies better!

Friday, September 7, 2007


Just some picture from when Britta and Trav came to visit with their two labs, Jerry and Gunther. Gunther and Duvick are both 16 weeks, so they had oh so much fun together! Lots of frisky puppies!

Edit: Now realizing we have absolutely no pictures of us or the Emeneckers or us WITH britta and travis. what the heck!?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Two women looked through prison bars; One saw mud, the other saw stars"

Last night i was talking with Britta. She asked me if i had any good Christian books that i might recommend. As i have tried to un-do my past habit of reading only Christian "self-help" books, only one came to my mind. Calm my Anxious Heart written by Linda Dillow, is a book i often recommend to women. It is amazing. I haven't read it for about 6 years, and as i was telling Britta about it, i thought that i should take another peek at it myself. Wow, it was a good reminder for me.

When we first arrived to Gurnee, i was trying to make the best of my time here, telling myself that there are great things here and wonderful opportunities. Eventually i just let myself admit that i think that this place is nasty and i am unhappy and want to leave... better to just not lie to myself... But Landon has noticed "you've been complaining a lot more lately," and i don't want to ever be the wife that would drive her husband to choose the corner of his own roof over her presence.

Yeah, i have been overwhelmed with balancing both of my jobs. And it has been hard because one of the jobs lives in my house - its eyes follow me around as i try to create some time for myself or my time with Landon. Yeah, it just provokes me from my living room, with a guilt that i have things undone that need to be done... I just have a hard time leaving work at work, when work is at home. Not that i'm working 80 hours a week, but i just can't keep work off of my mind because it is always there, waiting to be tackled. And this on top of other responsibilites has created a tiny stress cloud that i am usually pretty unfamiliar with (i'm pretty easy going, wouldn't you say?) And anxiety can easily create in me a discontentedness, a unhappiness.

Reading over my underlined part was good to remind me that my anxiety should be used as a springboard for prayer (p26), that if i am treading through worry, then i am not living a life of trusting God. yeah, somehow trusting God has been more difficult for me after my year in Africa...but i cannot deny or escape his faithfulness. If i am experiencing discontentment, it is not something that i can blame on my circumstances; it comes from within myself - it is a "feeling" that i honestly choose, not one that i have no choice but to fall into.

Joy - was something i learned about after the shooting. Joy is not happiness, it's deeper, it's truer. Happiness is what you feel as a result from circumstances - coffee makes me happy, i am happy when it snows, i am less happy when i am sick, etc... Joy - is a much greater thing. Joy is constant, it is deeper, and it is not determined on what is happening in my life. Joy is the state of my heart (or is it really my mind?) because of the deep knowledge that i know and am known by God. Joy comes from the knowledge and love of God (I think). So my joy should never waver, as God is always at work in my life, loving me and bringing me to a greater knowledge of him. Wow, what i have in Christ is JOY!!! When my life in Christ is the source of my joy, the idea of waiting for happiness to happen is rediculous - happiness by circumstance is hugely trivial compared to the joy i experience always in God.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Mosquito mania!

I'm realizing that the subjects of many of my postings are quite uninteresting. Sorry. But this one is serious. we have a mosquito infestation in our town! I have over 2 dozen mosquito bites on my body, and the village of gurnee has hired a bug-man to go around and spray throughout the town. But if we spend any collected amount of time outside we encounter an army of mosquitoes!

Yesterday i relocated my mums from their window pots to the dirt below (see picture of previously living mums). With the excess rain during the flooding a few weeks ago, all of my blooms dried and died. I contacted the flower master - my grandmother - and she told me that mums do better in the ground, especially through the winter. So, i put them there and i'm hoping they might bloom again next summer!

Yesterday we also began to dig a tiny trench for our invisible dog fence. 500ft. of cord to put into the ground. Landon dug the line and i shoved the tiny red cord into the trench, so little Duvick will learn his boundaries in the yard. The invisible fence is more of a training tool than anything else. I mean, you spend all this money on the "fence" and bury it and mark it with flags and when Duvick crosses the flags he gets shocked. So he learns not to cross the flags. Once he has that down, we remove the flags and he still knows his boundaries. Dogs are amazing like that. So we're hoping that it will only ever shock him a few times and he will learn his boundaries. I'm wondering if there is a cheaper way to achieve these kind of results?

Oh yeah, but with the time spent kneeling in one place: planting flowers on my knees, or shoving a cord into a trench on the ground, the vampirous mosquitoes were swarming. I had bug-repellent on to the MAX and was wearing layers of clothing protection, but somehow i cannot out-smart those little suckers (pun intended)!

Today our good friends from Colorado are coming to visit with their retrievers. We are so excited to see them!!! Wow, i have definitely been feeling the absence of friends and family in my life lately and just longing for someone (besides Landon, of course) that i can just be with and love and not have to be always just getting to know... ya know? Well, we love the Emeneckers and can't wait for their visit!!! Plus, they have a little lab who is only a few weeks older than Duvick and another lab that is just about the sweetest dog in the world, so i think Duvick will be happy to see them as well!

We took Duvick to the doggy park for the first time yesterday. I really need to learn this about my husband: when he asks me to join him and Duvick to the park, i should know not to expect to be home for hours. Meaning, i need to make sure i bring water, food, toilet paper, bandaids, a compass, bug spray, sunscreen, a change in socks, etc... I'm thinking that we'll walk to a field with some water and landon will throw dummies for Duvi and i'll watch and try not to be a distraction and then we'll walk back to the car and leave. yesterday Landon had me going up and down every wooded trail, walking across rivers and bush-whacking! Don't get me wrong, it is a lot of fun to do some extensive exploring, i'm just never really prepared for a day in the wilderness when i'm expecting it to last for 30 minutes. Duvick did well with being exposed to the other dogs, but i didn't realize how little he still is. He is just so sweet and still such a puppy that he got dominated by other dogs. Poor little guy. He's already losing his teeth and has grown so much; not too long and he'll be the dominator!

Well, i'll post again after our exciting day with the Emeneckers - nothing too exciting going on around here otherwise.