Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas happenings

Merry Christmas!!  The following is a picture/video storytelling of the"December happenings" of the Raburns. Starting with Jordan's preschool Christmas production...
This front row is Jordan and all her see, she is the only girl in her preschool class.  8 boys, 1 girl!!
Santa had just entered the Sanctuary as a result of the kids singing Jingle Bells.  Ms. Jodi looks surprised as well!

Dylan and I posing for a picture by the tree.  Yup, you guessed it...Jordan wouldn't sit still long enough to join us!
Some really cute footage.  In true preschool performance fashion, she didn't sing but a few words and she mostly hammed it up and checked on her "friends" the whole time.  Priceless!  (Her teacher Ms. Nakisha -- or Ms. Sha-sha as Jordan calls her -- is on the left).  The best part of the evening?  DADDY WAS HERE!

Next, we had a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party for the kids in our neighborhood. We wished more kids could have made it, but we had a great time with the ones who came.

Kids gathered round to hear the Christmas story from the Bible.

Party guests enjoying a little playtime.

Playing "put baby Jesus in the manger" (in the fashion of "pin the tail on the donkey")

A round of Christmas carols led by the kids.

 Chaplain reading the Christmas story.

 Time for birthday cupcakes!

Happy Birthday Jesus!!

Dylan's school also put on a holiday performance.  His Christmas Cantata was a showcase of various Christmas songs and Scripture readings.  Each class took their turn on the stage doing their numbers.

What a bunch of hams!! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

All in a week's work

What a week it's been!  In the past 8 or 9 days alot has been happening on the homefront.  For starters, I went into the garage one day to find a light brownish substance leaking from the front of my SUV toward the door of our garage.  Yikes.  Long story made shorter: the culprit ended up being the water pump.  But thanks to our power train warranty (and the fact that we bought the vehicle new), we were only $20 out of pocket -- and that was just for the assessment estimate.  We were so thankful to God that was all we had to pay, because the estimate came back with a total of more than $500 worth of work and parts! 

Fastforward to 3 days later. A call to my husband to let him know I was on my way home went something like this: "Hey honey.  How are you?"  "I'm fine.  I'M doing okay."  "Okay, I'm almost home."  "Okay, yeah.  I'M alright, but my motorcycle's not..."  Yeah, not the conversation that a wife wants to hear...EVER.  Long story made shorter, again: A car pulled out in front of my husband leaving him little time to stop.  He DID manage to stop, but not without laying his bike down.  He walked away with little more than some road rash.  Again, THANK GOD!  The guy who pulled out in front of him did stop to check on him and assess the damages.  And he's willing to pay for whatever it costs to fix the bike, since he knows he caused the accident.

Fastforward to the next day.  A drive in my husband's car to a Christmas party left me scratching my head in regards to a noise I could hear coming from under the hood.  When I pulled back into his parking space, I could see a puddle where his car had been leaking.  Long story short: Power steering pump hose gone bad.  Not bad for a vehicle with 150k+ miles on it.  Again, we were given a $500 estimate.  But again, God provided a cheaper way.  A friend of a coworker has repaired it and we ended up paying less than half of the estimate.

In addition to this, our big girl moved into her big girl bed.  This went surprisingly smooth in comparison to Dylan's transition.  She LOVES her new bed and tries to show it to any visitors that come over. 

Throw in a couple of Christmas parties and a preschool Christmas program and all of this adds up to a VERY busy week.  However, the busyness is dying down and we are slowing down to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  Last night we read "God Gave Us Christmas" around our tree and sang some Christmas carols.  The kids thought that was alot of fun and recreated the event this morning upon awakening.

Something else cool happened this week.  I accomplished what I never would have thought possible.  I have been running alot this year, so much so that I am going to break the 200 mile mark before the year is out.  But a 5k was about as far as I could go at any given time.  However this week I slowed down my speed a bit and pushed myself distance-wise.  I ended up running two 6.5-mile jaunts around Pope Army Airfield on two separate days.  A total equaling a half-marathon!!  It was pretty exciting to see what this thirty-something body is still capable of!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stationery card

Rejoice In Him Religious Christmas Card
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Thanksgiving trail

Our family recently enjoyed a Thanksgiving road trip to the great state of Alabama.  It was our first lengthy road trip since Daddy’s return and BOY did we have a car full!  The two of us plus two kids and two dogs…Whew...Equals one packed car!  Before we left, we enjoyed a mock-Thanksgiving meal in our own home complete with fine china and candlelight.  D thought it was really something special.  He took one look at the table and said, “Oh, Momma!  Thank you so much for doing this!”  His heart of gratitude made me smile in satisfaction, for our family began a new tradition this year: 30 days of Thanksgiving.  Using a piece of paper from the kids’ giant art tablet, we began to list out daily one thing we were thankful for.  Each of us took turns writing, even D.  It became something to look forward to daily.

My dad had recently undergone knee surgery to replace his left knee.  So things were a little different than normal at my parent’s house.  Dad had a rough go of things following surgery, so we were very anxious to see him for this holiday.  He improved by leaps and bounds right before our very eyes while we were visiting!  He went from barely ambulating to walking the house with a cane in a matter of days.  The kids weren’t sure what to think of their “Poppy” in his condition.  D kept asking how his knee was doing and J wanted to check on his “boo-boo”.  My mom was doing a wonderful job of running the house (of a sorts) and keeping up with Thanksgiving traditions.  Thankful for their 35 years together!

One of our stops along the way was to visit Tim’s widowed grandmother, affectionately known as “Granny”.  Our kids had a wonderful time at her house.  It is an old Alabama country home, but it is so much more than that to my husband.  As a missionary kid, it was one of the few “constants” in his life.  The place is full of things to do and tinker with.  Stuff of a boy’s childhood dreams.  And now Tim is getting the chance to share it with his son.  On our visit they explored the upstairs of the “apartment”, shot 2 kinds of BB guns, went to the wood’s edge, and told tales of nearly-legendary motorcycle jumps.  D’s fascination grew until he was hooked.  He cried when it was time for us to leave.  J, too, had fun living vicariously through her brother’s adventures, though most of his exploring was done during her nap.  As I laid her down to sleep in Granny’s room gently warmed by an antique gas heater, I too rested my head for a bit on the king-sized bed.  For a moment, all was quiet and it gave me pause to think.  My heart felt grateful for the chance to be so full of things to be thankful for, for holidays, and silence, and family.  For old houses and deep memories.  For things that change and things that do not.  For a sleeping baby and an adventure-some boy.  For the man whose Army medals hung across the bedroom on the wall.  For his service in Korea to our country.  For the life he lived and the love he shared.  For the time my son had to know him.  For the soldier we welcomed home this year and his selfless service too.

It was on our travels that I really took time to notice what great playmates our two little arrows have become.  They prefer each other’s company and the number of fights I have to break up is beginning to decrease.  They seek each other out for play and she can do JUST about anything he can.  At three and a half years apart he is old enough to look out for her but still young enough to play her kinds of games.  My prayer is for a life of peace and friendship between them.

As I blog, our family is making its way back to our Army homestead, traveling this long stretch of rainy highway.  This week will no doubt be filled with decorating for the great December celebration.  I love that Thanksgiving (which our family DOES celebrate as a separate holiday-entity unto itself!) ushers in the Christmas season each year.  What more perfect way to ready our homes and our lives for the greatest, most needed gift to humanity than with thankful hearts?!  Finally I can say it…Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Another week is digested down and the calm pause of the weekend is upon us.  Time for reflection.  Time to breathe.  This the first weekend of November also brings with it thoughts of the season: the season of thanksgiving.  Our family has begun a list, adding to it each day as we take turns putting to paper what our hearts are most grateful for.  And, oh, the things that kids can come up with to give thanks for!  An attitude of gratitude is what we are after.

A good friend (who also yields the pen well) recommended a book to me entitled "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  I, who am a painfully slow reader, have been gnawing away at this book since late summer.  It is not a speed read.  It is a book to nibble on, to mentally savor, to let marinade over on the heart for a while before coming back for more.  The premise of the book is that every day is filled with blessings and joy, it's just up to us to find them and purpose to be grateful for what God has graciously given us, in all things.  On a good day, most of us would agree with that premise if it weren't for the last phrase, ' ALL things."  And it is that phrase which Voskamp works so diligently at bringing to light.

Less than halfway through this read I find myself, as the providence of God would have it, in the pages about giving thanks during, when else, but the SEASON of giving thanks.  (I love how He watches over us in even the smallest of ways.  His attention to detail, so intimate.)  A look into the New Testament reveals a couple of instances when Jesus Himself gave thanks.  Jesus, the God-man, gave thanks?  Must be an important cause, this cause of giving thanks.  It was round the table with His dearest of worldly friends close by, them not fully understanding the symbolic feast that was before them, that He uttered the words.  "He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19) This bread, the symbolism of his body soon to be broken, caused Him to give thanks.  What was He thankful for?  The pain?  The physical agony?  The separation to come between He and the Father?  All of it.  For through all of it would come the redemption of mankind, the purpose for which He entered our sphere.  Jesus' work wasn't complete until He himself showed gratitude for the hard thing that God would bring about.

Earlier in the Scripture Jesus was again with those men-friends in the midst of a large crowd.  The crowd was hungry for truth and food.  The Savior had just finished feeding their souls and was ready to feed their stomachs.  What was He given?  Five loaves of bread and two fish.  Only enough food for a small boy.  How did he handle such an offering?  By saying, "Take it back, boy.  It is but a drop in the bucket"?  No.  "Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted." (John 6:11)  As Voskamp says:

"Jesus embraces His not enough...He gives thanks...And there is more than enough.  More than enough!  Eucharisteo (giving of thanks) always, always precedes the miracle."

Twice Jesus shows us how to give thanks in the midst of hard things, the too-tough and the too-little.  Recently a conversation with friends reminded me of the "hard eucharisteo" (to use Voskamp's terminology) Corrie Ten Boom encountered. The lice and fleas were so thick in their concentration camp barracks that the German guards refused to enter, thus allowing those Jews to escape certain abuse and torture.  Corrie encouraged the other Jewish women to give thanks for the lice and fleas.  Thanks for lice and fleas?  When God is Sovereign over all, yes, thanks for lice and fleas.

In this season of Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks IN ALL THINGS.  You never know what miracle is around the corner...and up His sleeve.  Ephesians 5:20 - "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh, the times they are a-changin'

While fall may have arrived on the calendar it has not quite fully made its appearance in our wardrobes, yet. Besides the seasons, things are changing on the homefront as well. Our once fiercely strong-willed boy who spent everyday in a costume of some form or another now spends his days in a school uniform and has taken to the likes of reading...small books with short words, mind you. But reading nonetheless! Our tiny and "easy" baby girl has become a tall 2 year old with a will that could rival the strength of tungsten metal. Diapers have given way to pull-ups and we are halfway to not needing even those anymore! It feels that babyhood has left this home all together. My point in saying all this is not to discuss whether we are going to have more babies, but to say that our family has changed and moved into a different season. I'm sure we've done it a dozen times before, but this one seems more tangible, more defined than previous times. Sometimes in the sleep deprived craze of having a small baby, I lost sight of our family ever moving past that. I am reminded once again that families DO! And what a joy to watch as my children grow and unfold like a flower opening its blossom upward toward the heavens, revealing their full potential given them by the great Creator.

*Update: since first typing out this post, we have gone back to square one in the pull-up department.  Que sera, sera!!
Our street gang...quite a cute sight, right?!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We treated 'til we trunked!

Tonight was the 319th MI BN's annual Trunk or Treat festival.  Our kids had a great time dressing up as the likes of Davy Crockett and a fairy princess.  More candy was collected than should be humanly possible.  Now to try and ration it out on a daily-dose basis!

 Breakin' into the stash already!

 Davy in the driver's seat of a firetruck
Sweet, precious princess feet

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Life in the fast lane

Two months since my last blog. Sheesh. Kinda pathetic. I think, though, that it's a testament to the break-neck speed our lives have come to reflect since Daddy's return. The first month is a fog, honestly. I don't remember much except wanting to spend every moment with him and the kids. And waking up to the sheer joy of lying next to him in bed. After a couple weeks of reintegration, we ventured to the beach with the kids. It was fast and furious, but the kids had a blast.
As soon as we returned from our sandy vacay, Big D started the Big K! The Lord provided the funds for us to send him to a Christian school and each day he learns not only from his books but from the Bible as well. I cannot tell you how deeply this blesses our hearts. A school that backs up what we teach at home -- what a delight!! It has been such a blessing to see him thriving this early in his education.

Once we were sure things were going well in the Big K (and by that I mean that we, the parents, were going to be okay with our little baby in school :), Hubby and I took off for a more extended vacay ourselves. In case anyone military is reading this, if you don't know already Camp LeJune (in North Carolina) has FABULOUS beach front accommodations that can be reserved and rented through their MWR. For cheap!! We spent a few nights there and then spent a night in Wilmington as well. We intended to stay longer, but, as my husband so tongue-in-cheekly likes to put it, "another woman came between us". Yep, Hurricane Irene thwarted our plans for our last night's stay. So we headed home early to wait out the big storm. Which, for the record, was more like a good rain soaking and wind blowing as far inland as we live. Thank the Lord for his protection.
September and its slightly cooler temperatures brought with it a new routine for our family. One that begins early with a predawn rise for PT for our resident Chaplain. I am up not too long after him to get that sleepy-eyed boy up and at'em for school. Our sweet angel girl suffers the most from this new routine, being woken up some mornings long before her internal clock tells her to rise. Depending on the day of the week, I spend anywhere from 45 min to 1 hr 15 min in the car by 9am. Jordan attends a local Christian preschool three mornings a week and it is on those days that I run errands, clean house, and attempt to improve my time on the 5K. The days seem to go by so fast with afternoon pick-up and dinner preparation. I live and die by the clock. Time dictates everything to me. Not that this is a bad thing, just another adjustment in life. A new season. No complaints here. Our family is moving, and changing, and maturing -- together, as it should.

Tim and I attended his Brigade's ball mid-September. It was a celebratory ball to highlight the end of their year-long deployment. I always enjoy these events as they afford me the opportunity to feel like I'm attending the prom I never went to. Tim picked out and bought for me a BEAUTIFUL dress, which I affectionately named my mermaid dress (because of the color. We had a wonderful evening!
We also had the opportunity to travel with Tim to Arkansas in late September to visit our endorsing church and see our church family. We took a plane ride there, which was fun and interesting. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with friends and were so blessed by their generosity.

Historic Cotham's Mercantile in Scott, AR

Another one of my biggest blessings and yet biggest challenges as of late has been the ladies Bible study that I am co-teaching with my dear Army wife friend Rachel at our local PWOC. God has stretched me, pushed me, pulled me, and grown me through this experience. The preparation is hard work; it makes me dig deep into the Scriptures -- deeper than I would otherwise probably do for a typical quiet time. A good thing. God has also blessed us with a WONDERFUL class of women hungry for his word, passionate about Godly children, and eager to learn. This experience has been one that I will never forget and I look forward to how God will continue to work in the lives of these gals throughout this semester!

Recently we enjoyed an outing with our maternal grandparents to the pumpkin patch. I look SO forward to this time each year with our kids. There's something about the bright orange pumpkins that make such GORGEOUS pictures! Here's a few to enjoy:I loathe BIG "download" posts where weeks and months get lumped into one post. So, thank you for bearing with me through this one. I long to be more intentional about blogging and share our lives in smaller chunks with you. I also long to share more of what God is showing me on a heart level. He's always working, you know! And as an uncle once encouraged me, I want to keep blogging because "one day it will be my family's history."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

He's baaaaa-aaaack!

There's a sound coming from down the hallway in our home. I hear it and it makes me smile...again. It is the noisy "clunk-clunk" sound of ACU's spinnng in my dryer. That sound can only mean one thing: My soldier is home!!! This is a fact that we began celebrating 2 weeks ago tonight. Getting our soldier back was quite the late night adventure.
His unit's plane couldn't land at the Army airfield here on post so they were forced to make a landing at the nearest international airport and ride a shuttle for the remainder of the trip to our post. His arrival time was sent to us via Army text message and we were told to be there by 2:45am. I hemmed and hawed and went back and forth about "should I bring the kids?" or "should I go by myself since it's during the night?" Finally I decided upon bringing the oldest and leaving the youngest to sleep while a neighbor stayed at our house. So, after a few hours rest I gathered up my young lad and off we went to pick up our hero, along with my sweet friend and trusted photographer Elizabeth! Even though we didn't have a Green Ramp experience, it was still quite a momentous occasion. It was the black of night but the heat index didn't know the difference. We were all sweating within a few minutes of arrival. Approximately 350 people gathered under the stars to await their loved ones. Once the charter buses pulled in, screaming commenced. They filed in, marching in formation to Queen's "We will rock you". The elements of the 525th BFSB took the brigade field and awaited their release from the General in attendance. Almost needless to say, we were ecstatic to have our "daddy hero" back. We rushed towards him once the formalities were over and Dylan jumped into his arms. He got the first hug but I got the first kiss. As it should be.
Oh, and baby girl got her own VIP pass to see Daddy the next morning. He snuck into her room and she did NOT know what to think. She has quickly warmed up to his smile and his lap!
Tim was given a 48 hour pass and since then has been reporting to work for half days. His first week home was spent relaxing and reintegrating. Our second week was spent having extended family in our home and hosting a double-party..."Welcome Home!" and "Happy Birthday, Jordan!". Block leave (30 days of paid leave-time) starts this Thursday and we are looking forward to some solid family time and vacation. Thank you, God, for answering SO many prayers with these 2 pictures!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And in conclusion…

A year has passed. I cannot fathom how a year has gone by so quickly and yet there have been times where it seemed like "a day was as a thousand years." I can remember this time last year wondering to myself if there was a doctor out there who could just put me in a coma for a year and wake me when this was all over. What a mistake that would have been…to have missed out on all that God had for me and would do to and through me. To have missed out on the good AND the bad. In my heart and my mind I have been trying to say "goodbye" to this season in my life; to boil it down to a few nuggets I can take away and share with others. It is hard to simplify such an arduous process. Spend any time around Army wives and you will quickly learn that they define themselves and their families in terms of deployments. This is a byproduct of war that I am still not sure that I'm okay with. I am a firm believer that it's not what life throws at you but what you make of it that really counts. So to define myself in terms of whether my husband is home or gone seems like I am letting life's punches call the shots instead of taking my life by the horns, no matter my husband's current continent.

There have been many moments that I thought I was teetering near the brink of insanity. Usually this was due to something my beautiful and precious childrens were bringing to the equation at the time. For those who have read my previous posts, I'll not take you to that crazy place again. Suffice it to say that God undoubtedly knew that was a path I needed to go down in order to better sharpen and hone certain facets of my character. What I feel now is stronger. Stronger physically, stronger mentally, stronger emotionally. Running and yoga have been my "outlets" this past year. They allowed me to free my mind and free my body as well. As Eric Little said, I definitely felt the Lord's pleasure as I pounded out many a mile while listening to worship music or rattling off my thoughts to Him. Mentally I am stronger because I have been under constant stress and pressure and have had no choice but to deal with it. There was no "out", no other adult in the house with me. It was up to me and God to work it out and see it through. Problems that would have once made me throw my hands up and walk away required that I stay and deal with them. I was remarking on this recently as I found myself easily finagling a series of events that at the beginning of this deployment would have tripped me up and ruined my attitude for the day.

I mentioned an emotional strengthening as well. When it came to emotions, my husband was that rock solid wall that I could run to with any emotion I was feeling and could spatter it out against his strength knowing he could take it and it would not topple him. In his absence, I have had to turn more often to the Lord first rather than him (I usually found myself at His throne eventually but sometimes my first place to go was hubby). I have also had to work through some tough emotions on my own without his listening ear and guidance. I wish that I could say that I burdened my husband very little with the cares and worries of home while he was away, but I fear they were brought to his attention more times than I would probably care to remember. He lovingly told me each time that he didn't mind listening to me and cared about each concern I was having. He would even venture to offer wisdom and suggestions. But it was up to me to do the hard task of steadying myself and wading through the emotional waters I encountered. I am proud of the job I have done this year. Not proud in an idolatrous way. It's more that I am satisfied with the job I have done this year. I know the time is soon coming when I will be able to take a deep breath, "rest", and look back on this and be pleased.

My husband and I joke with each other that things were going well in our marriage until we separated for a year. In all seriousness, another conclusion I (we) have come to is the irony that our marriage has never grown so much in the past 11 years as it did this year we were apart. It forced us to grow, to adapt, to look for new ways of keeping our love alive. To focus on the things we love and miss about each other. We were deprived of the physical pleasures of marriage which made us seek to speak the other's love language even more. My husband loved on me diligently with "words of affirmation", which I deeply crave. My challenge was to find different ways to love him through physical touch (his #1 love language) which I did through care packages and "touching" him each day through e-mail communication. The #2 love language for both of us is quality time, so a phone call every day met both of our needs. We have now put down roots on different and deeper levels and I look forward to seeing the health and life that will bring to our relationship once we are back under the same roof.

I recently read an article on "Independence in Marriage". The gist of it was that a woman can be strong and independent and still submit in a godly way to her husband. The article's title got me thinking on the independence in our marriage. What the Army has taken our marriage through is a messed-up myriad of weirdness. Two people, deeply in love, forced to live apart, living independent lives full of difficult choices they must bear, yet at their very core they are inseparable by a covenant made before God and man. Good thing that our God is sovereign, hmmm?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summertime Blueberries

I took the kids blueberry picking today (with another friend and her 3 girls) and these pictures are the result. Gardening and fruit picking has become my new favorite kid activity. Abundance of vegetation to be picked, little hands busy doing work, learning about God and his delicious creation, snacking while we work, no mess to clean up – a perfect activity! Dylan is being allowed to dress himself in the summertime (thank goodness for uniforms in the fall!) which is why he is STILL wearing his VBS shirt…from a month ago. Oh, and we scored 5.75 pounds of blueberry goodness…a $5 feast!!

The story we heard was that Cindy, the lady who runs the blueberry farm, bought the house and property many years back not knowing that the gnarly rows of trees near the back of the property were perennial blueberries! She nearly had them cut down! So glad she didn't.

One of our dear friends Willa.

Found a lone grape vine. A neat sight for the kids. We talked about the vine that grew up over Jonah's head in the last chapter of his book. I know it was most likely a gourd vine, but it's the closest thing the kids had ever seen to a vine that could provide shade.

Our blue-tiful harvest!