So thankful

My sweet husband gave me a fabulous idea.  He encouraged me to post all of my Facebook "thankful things" from the month of November onto my blog.  What better time to do so than deep in the heart of the giving season?  This blog is nothing if not a tribute to the journey God has placed us on.  I would be so remiss not to recount His deeds and glorify His name.  So, here they are!...

  • Day 1: thankful for the sound of my 6 yr old reading me a story right now :-)
  • Thankfulness day #2: Thankful for my man's man who has done 4 loads of laundry and unloaded the dishwasher 3 times...this week! I love you and am thankful for each night our heads lay side by side.
  • Day #3 of thankfulness -- FINALLY getting to be "attendees" at a strong bonds event. Having a great time laughing our way to a better marriage!  Also, SO thankful for grandparents willing to take on our kids for the weekend! Thanks Mom & Dad!
  • Thankfulness day #4: Thankful for the material blessings God has afforded me and my family throughout our lives. He is such a generous God and lavishes upon us grace after grace. All is grace!
  • Thankfulness day #5: thankful for 54 days completed in this homeschool year! So many lessons learned and hills climbed. :-)
  • Thankfulness day #6: Thankful for my husband who was not afraid to surrender to God's calling on his life (even though his bride wasn't sure) The signature line on his email reads: Serving God, Serving Soldiers, Enjoying every minute!
  • Thankfulness day 7: Thankful for the richness and power of the Word of God. Never changing and always applicable!
  • Day 8 of thankfulness: Grateful for parents who nurtured in me a will to persevere, a drive to work hard, and the importance of getting things right. From sports to academia to spirituality, they encouraged me to give it my all and best. Thanks Mom & Dad!
  • Day 9 of thankfulness: I'm thankful for the perks that military life offers. For all the bum raps it gets, it really does have its pluses. For example? Four day weekends surrounding federal holidays. Hurray for this four-day!!!
  • Day 10 of thankfulness: Thankful for the 2 "arrows" God blessed our lives with. Such a measure of trust it is when He places these precious lives into our hands! Enjoying a blanket fort and Tom & Jerry this morning. I hope this never ends! :-D
  • Day 11 of thankfulness: Grateful for all our veterans past & present who sacrificed so much... and sometimes gave their all. And to the families of veterans, who have supported and loved their service member... and sometimes had to say the ultimate good bye Thank you!!!
  • Thankfulness day 12: Grateful for the family I inherited on our wedding day. Tim's mother and father gave him a legacy thru their faithful example of keeping their commitment to each other and living out their faith. Thanks, Shelley, for being the first female in his life and getting him familiar with the ways of a woman! :-D
  • Thankfulness day #13: Thankful for my sister and the joys she has brought to my life. There was no more exciting news when I was five years old than to hear that I was going to be a big sister to a little sister :-) Praying for you today, Elizabeth, as you start this new adventure of a new job.
  • Day 14 of thankfulness: SOOOO grateful for this... "In death, in life, I'm confident and covered by the power of Your great love! My debt is paid, there's nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love!!"
  • Day 15 and 16 of thankfulness (because I forgot yesterday :-)... I was reminded this week to be thankful for both the good and the bad in life. As I learn more and more about the sovereignty of Christ, it is becoming clear that He works both out for His best and the good of those who love and follow Him. All is grace!!
  • Thankfulness day #17: Thankful for the little things today... Like farm fresh eggs from the Browns, a Starbucks latte hand delivered to my front door by a friend, and enough spare time for a soak in the tub. :-)
  • Thankfulness day #18: Thankful for the gift God gave us in the form of music...speaks to the soul the way words can't.
  • Day 19 of thankfulness: Thankful for the seasons and their constant change. It gives such beautiful life to our world. What a wonderful Creator!
  • Thankfulness day #20: thankful for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical personnel, medicine, and the Great Physician!
  • So, I fell off my thankfulness bandwagon, thanks to an illness that knocked out 3/4 of us Raburns...but now that we're feeling better...I'm 3 days worth of thankful for great times with family, overall good health, and the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in this great nation. God bless America!
And just for kicks...
  • Reason #418 I love my husband: After a chilly pre-sunrise run, I came home to our indoor Christmas lights on, Christmas music on, fireplace on, and coffee brewing :-)
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
 And Happy New Year, too!

Amish adventure

We spent some time today with some of our new friends from Fort Campbell and hit the roads of Kentucky on an Amish adventure.  There is a loop of roads not far from our home that lead to one Amish farm after another.  Everything from tomatoes to honey to beef to giant mums!  We were able to count this trip towards schooling as a field trip.  Not only did the kids get a great lesson in agriculture but also in CULTURE as well!  We saw cattle, sheep, cattle dogs, pumpkins, flowers, gardens, a greenhouse, an Amish bakery, a buggy, and a bulk food store.  While visiting the cows at one of the farms, the kids and I took note that one particular cow had a cow tag on its ear that read "12-24-11" (its date of birth, we assumed) and was named "Noel".  Too cute!

I couldn't resist this we were walking away, a group of them seemed to approach rather quickly, as if to say, "Hey! Where ya goin'?"  To which I wanted to reply outloud, "To eat more chicken!"

Alas, not many pictures were taken during this escapade.  At times it was all I could do to wrangle my two and take in the sights myself.  I find it refreshing to drive to rural areas such as this one and soak in the scenery of the simpler way of life that the Amish lead.  The fields that go on forever, the green pastures, the quietness, and yes, even the smell of farm life!   It is good for the soul.

We finished up our outing as the cows would have wished...eating more chicken!  Our gaggle of kids played their hearts out while us Army wives enjoyed some good food and conversation.  Perfect way to end the morning!
Thank you, God, for this new group of gals you've brought into my life.  Thank you for how they are making the foreign seem more familiar.  Thank you for the sights and sounds of rural life.  Thank you for the touches of grace that abound in nature. The whole earth is full of Your glory! (Is 6:3)

Trash to treasure

The school year is marching forward at a steady pace.  Homeschooling is in full swing and so far things are going well.  My biggest challenge is keeping our 3 year-old occupied and calm while I attempt to work with our first grader!  I knew it would be this way so it is no surprise to me.  Last week I saw evidences of both of them falling in line with the routine we've been trying to establish, which is a VERY good thing!  The Lord provided a preschool opportunity for our sweet 3 year-old girl, so 2 days a week she gets to go hang out with her new friends and do her "school" with Ms. "Esser" (Esther).  The highlights of this week will be our first homeschool field trip and a road trip to see grandparents.

Chaplain recently returned from an field exercise back on the east coast, affectionately called a JOAX.  He got to see his men and women close up in action as they piloted, supplied, refueled, and air assaulted.  It was a great introduction for him being so new to an aviation battalion. He even got to go up in a "bird", as they call them. Soon he will be heading out again for more training.  This time for even longer.  Every soldier is called upon to be ready at a moment's notice, but what does that mean?  LOTS of training.

Everytime I look at this picture I can hear his voice say, "This is your captain speaking..." Oh, I crack me up.

We are continuing to try to find our niche here at this new post.  We have connected with a few families in our off-post neighborhood, but most of our neighbors seem to enjoy their serenity and anonimity.  Which is completely fine and is within their every right.  We are finding other outlets of connection and community: Taekwondo, PWOC, Chapel, AWANA, Adult Bible Study, Worship Team, etc.  Most of those activities mean a trip onto post.  Our frequent trips through the gate have had me contemplating the fact that we live off-post but have such an on-post lifestyle.  For me, it is important that we support my husband and his ministry, as well as the ministries of the chapels and chaplains.  So we NEED to be on-post.  All of this, though, has equated to me questioning our decision to live off-post.  Chaplain and I discussed and rehashed all of this recently and came back to the same conclusion that God has us here for a reason. (Duh! Surprised?)  Too many incidences point to the fact that God wanted us here. Or at least wants us here for now.  I can't say that we may not move onto post at some point.  But I can't focus on that right now.  I have to stay honed in on blooming where I'm planted now, not thinking about transplanting!  Seeds of discontentment grow too easily in the soil of regret and second-guessing.
I thought I would share a few an obnoxious amount of pictures with you of a recent Sunday afternoon.  Our project was making a tire swing (and by our, I mean his).  But I also snapped a few photos of the kids and one of our dogs doing their own thing while Dad flexed and sweated.  Stay tuned to the end -- their is a moral to this story!
This tire used to belong on my SUV.  But a run in with a certain curb rendered it useless to me.  But I'll get to that later.  Said tire is now set to become a swing...
 Wow, he has alot of muscles...Oh, I digress already?!  Anyways, first step was putting drainage holes into the bottom of the tire/swing.  You know, for rain and stuff.

More drainage holes.   I just wanted to show how big this drill bit is!

First coat of spray paint.  Who wants a black, rubbery booty? 
 What's 'a matter, dog?  So bored it's like watching paint dry?

Second coat.  That is SUCH a good hair cut.   Again, I digress!

Out with the old hardware...
...and in with the new.

Chain leading to the tire swing.

Here's where I really digress.  Forsaking all that was going on outside, leaving children to fend for themselves and dogs to run willy-nilly, I headed inside to finish/make dinner.  Corn had been roasting on the grill outside and was perfectly done.  Yumm!

More digressing...Let me just say I am SO glad that I let a dear friend talk me into getting one of these.  They are wonderful to cook in.  I can't wait for cold weather and slow cooking in this baby! 

This is the delicious product of slow cooking in that baby!  Enough with the digressing! 

 And this is what happens when you go inside to finish dinner.  Your husband finishes his project!

Our clan enjoying a yummy meal and celebrating Dad's workmanship.
Now, for the promised moral.  This tire, which had to be taken off of my vehicle due to a run-in with the curb, had become useless to me.  What's more, it was a source of embarassment (my own fault!) and had cost us quite a chunk-o-change to replace.  Now?  It has been redeemed!  It is going to serve as a source of joy and fun for my sweet kiddos.  Sounds alot like what God does for us!

From the tarheel state to the volunteer state

Two months.  Two months ago today we started our journey from the East Coast inland.  We coupled our move-time with chaplain's leave-time and took our sweet-time getting to our new home!  A trip to our see our Alabama family was followed up with a trip to a Florida beach, sans kiddos!  Tim and I enjoyed our chance to be alone together, altough with an impending move-in of all our wordly goods looming over our heads it was a bit hard to fully relax.  God was good, as always, and enabled us to get through the whole relocating process safely and enjoy our family along the way.

Chaplain has been assigned to an aviation brigade and is the chaplain for one of their battalions.  He ministers to alot of helicopter pilots and their support personnel.  It hasn't been too drastic of a change for him coming from an intelligence unit to this aviation one.  He is also settling in at his place of ministry within our chapel.  God has blessed Fort Campbell with a beautiful, new chapel that rivals some civilian churches in terms of space and stature.  It will house the weekly AWANA meetings as well as PWOC.  This past Easter Sunday was their first Sunday to have services.  We excitedly anticipate what God will be doing in and through this chapel ministry!

At this duty station we are living off post.  God provided a lovely home for us to rent from a Christ-centered couple who have been very kind and generous towards us every step of the way.  Good landlords make ALL the difference!  On the down side, we just traded a street full of military families who were like family to us for a street full of people we don't know and are having a HARD time getting TO know.  This has been a real shock to my system and to the kids' too.  They went from having 6 friends to call on within a 300 ft radius on any given day to knowing NO one.  A couple of families reached out to us right away, and for that we are grateful.  We are building friendships with them and their children.  But the openness and instant sense of community, the immediate sense of having things in common is definitely gone.  We are having an ice cream social in our driveway this weekend in the hopes of luring out more families.  I don't mean to complain; our home is lovely and the community is a nice one.  Being military and living off post isn't bad, it's just different.  VERY different.  It makes you feel less, well, military!  Not hearing the bugles every day, not seeing soldiers do PT from your kitchen window, not being 2 blocks from the barracks... it's just different.  Who cares? you might wonder.  Why does it matter?  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't.  My husband is still Army and his day job is the same.  Still, I think I felt that I could be supportive of and be a part of Army life better when we were living on the post.  I am wondering, and only time will tell, if chaplain will like it here better.  Maybe he will come home and feel like he is truly off duty, with little to no signs of military life anywhere.  A silver lining, perhaps.

Another decision that our family has made is to homeschool.  There were many factors that led to this decision, the biggest was God's conviction on my heart that this was best for our son at this time.  I am considering this a God given adventure that was meant to be handled one day at a time (with a li'l bit of prep work beforehand ;-). Curriculums have been selected, lesson plans have been made, and a start date has been set!  At our last duty station, the Lord provided several outside-the-home ministry positions for me to take part in - I am so grateful for those opportunities and learned so much about the Lord and about ministering to others.  I am not sure what the Lord will have me be involved in here, but I know that the bulk of it will be home-eduating my kids.

For now?  We are sucking the last bits of life out of our summer!  Woohoo!  Thank you so much to all who prayed us through the journey of the last two months. I dare say I speak for all of us when I say that we are not looking forward to another PCS anytime soon!  But it is such a comfort and encouragement to know that when we do, we have you all to lift us up in prayer.

For God and Country...

Summer journey

Flashing yellow glows.  Gentle and tiny flickers. Change has once again descended.  Symbols of June, Fireflies dance across the lawn sending out their call, signaling summer.  The winds of change blow also for our family.  Closing out our East Coast chapter and moving closer to the Heart of Dixie.  A call has been given to us, signaling a new season.  Like the fireflies we have begun our flight, our journey, to a new destination. Once dragons, now screaming eagles.  Prayerfully and joyfully we go.  Ft Bragg in our rear-view window and Ft Campbell ahead, we go. Journey with us, if you'd like. Pray for us, if you will.  Rejoice with us - you must!
Until later, Ft Bragg!

On the road to TN!

They're worth it!

All the "good" parents do it.  Especially the first timers.  You know, baby proofing the home.  We painstakingly plug every outlet with a cover, agonize over the top-safety rated carseat, cover every sharp corner with a rubber corner cover, anchor every heavy piece of furniture to the wall, secure every cabinet door, and lock up all the cleaners.  We are religious about it; and for good reason, too.  We know what's at stake: the safety of our most precious possessions -- our children.  When it comes time for schooling, we do something similar.  We devote hours to thinking about and comparing schools.  Private? Christian? Catholic? Public? Homeschool?  Again, for good reason.  We know what's at stake: the minds and future of our children.  So many times and in so many ways throughout the course of our childrens' lives we are intentional and purposeful about making decisions on their behalf.  But what about when it comes to their spirituality?  So often that gets relegated to the pastor or the Sunday School teacher.  Othertimes, it gets lost by the wayside in the hustle and bustle of choosing the best sport or lesson for them.  Think about that in light of the baby-proofing phenomenon.  Would we dare say, "I don't have to baby proof my home.  The home safety police or Child Services will come out and do that for me!"  What if we treated our children's schooling choice that way?  "I'll just drop them off at the nearest school and surely they'll absorb something!"  We wouldn't dare neglect to send them to elementary school, but many parents forget that kids are just as much a spiritual being as they are a physical being - and that spiritual side of them needs tended and nurtured. 

Parents, I believe that God is calling us to be more intentional about our childrens' spirituality than anything else in their lives.  More than which doctor, what sport, which school, or even what career.  One of the main purposes He has for us as parents is to shepherd their hearts toward Him.  Jesus taught us to pray, "Not my will, but thine be done."  That IS God's will for our children - to be shepherded into His fold.  To have their hearts turned toward and tuned into their Heavenly Father.  So as you shuffle school applications or insert outlet covers, be proactive about instilling spiritual truths from the Bible into your children.  Use everday opportunities and occurences to speak to them of God and His story.  Shape their world view by using the truth contained in Scriptures.  Spiritually care for them daily.  They're worth it!

So many things...

Another six weeks has passed since my last blog entry and our life continues to blaze on into 2012.  The end of January brought another birthday for me.  #33 was not so kind to me as I spent the majority of the week surrounding my big day SICK!  So sick, in fact that I had to take a rain check on a much anticipated road trip to Seagrove, NC...home to some of the best pottery in the U.S.  I will be sure and hold that soldier to his rain check promise! 

After teaching a class last semester at our on-post ladies Bible study, I decided to take some "time off" from actively serving on the forefront of that ministry and just be ministered to, with occasional bouts of serving when I was led by God.  Or so I thought.  In January, when I was supposed to be down-timing it (but still enjoying serving the Lord through our music ministry at Chapel), I had two opportunities fall into my lap and felt the Lord tugging me toward both.  One is helping to select the leadership team for next year's executive board at our ladies Bible study and the other is helping out a dear friend by acting as Administrative Coordinator within the Bible study group so she could tend to her terminally ill mother.  In hindsight, I now see that the Lord was leading me to keep my plate empty so He could fill it at the right time!  Otherwise he knows I would have signed up to teach another study! The work has been rewarding and manageable - not too demanding on my time but still giving me an opportunity to serve Him in a big way.

After about 5 months of daily struggling with a VERY strong-willed two year old, hubby and I believe we MAY be seeing a glow which would signal a possible light at the end of this tunnel.  This has just begun to happen within the last couple of weeks.  I don't want to speak too quickly and have to take words back later, but having been so tuned into her behavior and attitude issues we can definitely say that things have lightened up at least a little bit as of late.  This is DEFINITELY an answer to prayer and a much needed break from repeated and disappointing moments of discipline.  Our prayer is that God helps us to break her will, not her spirit.  It may be too soon to declare us "out of the woods", but we are thankful for even this slight reprieve.  It has given me a chance to refocus and see her more as a person, as a child of God and not so often as the object of my correction.

I, too, have joined the world of Pinterest and have not been disappointed with the creative ideas floating around out there!  I was so hesitant to join in light of the frequent comments I'd been hearing of the website literally being a timewarp.  Last semester the last thing I needed was anything that would demand more time from me.  But I endulged myself this semester and have enjoyed being inspired and learning to craft. I have begun to delve into the world of stamping, Cricut machines, bow making, paper crafts, wreath making, among others.  My favorite thing about crafting is making gifts for others.  For our family, I made this banner that allows us to celebrate each family member's birthday and attach the appropriate number for their age.

Speaking of birthdays, our first born just celebrated his #6.  Can't believe that!  I know I hear it all the time and it sounds so cliche, but when you experience TRULY is hard to believe that my first baby is a 6 year old!  We celebrated in style with a birthday weekend.  Daddy came home from a week in the field just in time to celebrate with us.  Our 'Bama grandparents made the trip over and joined us as well.  He received so many wonderful and great gifts, overwhelmingly fun blessings.  His dad and I gave him a new "big boy" bike as promised since he finally buckled down and learned how to ride his li'l kid bike WITHOUT training wheels!  During lunchtime on the day of his birthday, sister and I carried a cookie cake to his school as well as a McDonald's lunch (per his request) and celebrated with his Kindergarten class as well.  We also had a party in our home, inviting a few close friends to join us for a "Lego Birthday Party".  I think the weekend was a big hit with that big boy!

Our favorite chaplain has been faithfully plugging away at his garrison ministry.  We led a marriage retreat a couple of weekends ago in nearby Asheville and have a couple more planned for this quarter.  Hubby's brigade finally brought in a chaplain and so he finished up his time as acting-brigade chaplain and is somewhat relieved to be back to his battalion chaplain duties only.  A new HHC commander and battalion commander have both been installed and that change has breathed a fresh breath of air into the life of his battalion.  Perhaps the biggest news for our family is that we will be PCSing (permanent change of station) soon to Ft Campbell, KY.  I say soon, but as of this writing we still don't have any paperwork or official orders.  But we are expecting a move in either May or June.  Ft Campbell is located on the KY/TN border and will put us living 3 hours or less from my side of the family and only 6 hours from Hubby's parents!   Thank you, God!  We are excited to live so close to family at this time in the life of our family and with our kids at the ages they are.  We are already dreaming of weekend trips and of meeting the grandparents halfway to do the "kid drop-off"!  Life will get alot crazier before we get to the happiness of those moments, but I am focusing on several different things to keep the anxiety monster away.  First, the Army may give us the orders but I firmly believe God has His hand on their decisions.  In otherwords, we have given our lives and our family to Him and we are only going where He wants us when He wants us to.  Second, change is good.  It makes us into better people.  And moving means we'll have to clean and purge our drawers and closets.  And, man, that feels good!  Third, it's exciting to see God work out all the details of our needs when we don't stress and when we let go.  I'm looking forward to this adventure and can't wait to catalog how God carries us there!

The Bible study I am in this semester is the book "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller.  The Lord is teaching me so much through this detailed study of prayer.  One thing He brought out to me recently through this study was Isaiah 57:15 "For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite'."  I have read this verse before, but I don't think I've thought about it in the context of prayer.  Isaiah is conveying the truth that our God is infinte and yet personal.  The response of my heart to this text was, "Why?  Why would God who resides in the splendor and majesty of the realm of glorious heaven also choose to be present with the broken, sorrowful, oppressed, crushed, and scared?  The depressed, the outcast, the junkies in the backally, the homeless under the overpass, the abandoned, the messed up?  What sense can we make of this?  Isaiah tells us the "what" of what God does for those people; He restores and revives them.  But why?  Through this study of prayer I have come to believe that this is because both places -heaven and the broken- are where God's glory is most demonstratively displayed.  In heaven, God rules and reigns supreme without limits and in His fullness.  His full glory on display at all times.  Where else do those aforementioned people have to go?  And to whom else can they turn?  Their ONLY hope is in that lofty God coming to their aid.  And when He does, ALL glory is His.  His strength made perfect in not only our weaknesses, but in our utter inability to do anything for ourselves.  I heard a famous preacher once say that God deserves and desires glory more than anything else.  In fact, God's ultimate end is the manifestation of His glory.  So where else would he seek to reside but the holiness of heaven and the humbleness of human heart?

Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon

 One of the opportunities Tim had this week was performing what the Army calls an invocation at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon conducted by his brigade, the 525th BFSB.  Tim has been acting-brigade chaplain for 2 months now, and this invocation is part of what the brigade chaplain would noramlly do.  So, he had the privelege of reading a passage of Scripture and saying a prayer over the luncheon.  He did a FABULOUS job!  As I listened to the different speakers who performed readings from some of the writings of King's family and intimate friends, I was struck by how deeply spiritual a man he was.  He was a minister, found himself constantly in prayer, and quoted the Bible daily.  His overarching message was "We will overcome", yes, but also "We will overcome without violence."  It was a wonderful time of reflection and rememberance.


Because I never seem to say enough about him, here is an entire blog post dedicated entirely to that man of mine.  My husband is fantastically one of a kind.  God truly broke the mold after making him.  Having spent the last 2 weeks with him (day in and day out) I am reminded of just how blessed I am to have him in my life.  He has the brain of a genius, the brawn of a athelete, and the behavior of a REALLY nice guy. Everywhere, everyday I see evidences of just how wonderfully God made him. There is almost always alot of thought and effort that goes into his actions (whether or not I can see it at the time!).  And if I can't figure something out, you can bet your sweet bottom that HE can!  He has the amazing ability to think of things that, even if given a month, I would never think of.  During our deployment I grew to miss his ingenuity and get-it-done-ness all the more.  And it has been SO nice to be able to say to myself, "Don't stress about it.  Tim can fix it!" I have often called him my "Renaissance Man" because he knows something about just about everything.  From rugby to computers, from cars to astronomy, from conservatism to physics, he is such a smart dude!  Just today we were at the store together doing the mundane task of shopping for groceries (I love doing the mundane things of life with him...makes it so much more exciting!) when lo-and-behold he brings up quantum networking and tries to make an analogy between that and the neural pathways of the human body.  I'm tellin' y'all, he's SMART!!  And to boot, he is KING of coming in solid at crunch time; he rocks the 11th hour stuff!  Me?  Not so much...

But for all his brilliance, he also has the uncanny ability to slow me down, to decompress me, to make me "stop and smell the roses".  I have a tendency to run, run, run until I drop and he keeps me balanced by encouraging me to take time for myself, to sit a little while, to relax.  He endulges me in the things that are not "mission critical" to the home front but are entertaining and of interest to me alone.  On this the 4th anniversary of my blog, I thought it fitting to write about the guy who seldom gets the credit but so often deserves it.  I love you, Tim Raburn.  Thank you for making me yours :-)

From Drowning in Disappointments to Upheld by Hope

It’s not supposed to be this way... I chose to revisit one of my favorite books yesterday.  (Love Lysa’s story!) And my whole heart resonat...