Monday, December 22, 2008

Reflections of Christmas



I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas, the decorations, the food, the songs, buying gifts for the people I love, and even receiving some myself! This Christmas I am back home in the house I grew up in, and it has brought back lots of happy, family memories. I can't wait for my whole family to gather here again to celebrate. It has been over 2 years since I have seen some of them. I am more excited about that this year then anything else. The gifts are way down on my list this year of what I am looking forward to. As I get older, I realize that family, and memories are way more important then the "stuff" we get. I hope my kids learn that lesson as they grow older as well.

Every year as Christmas approaches I also start to think about the reason we celebrate. The wonderful thing that God did for us. The ultimate gift. That he would humble himself to send his son to be born here on earth. To live as fully God and fully man. It really blows my mind. I have been thinking about Mary a lot this year as well. After becoming a first time mother myself(10 years ago), I can imagine a little more what she went through. Except for the fact that she was a virgin and was actually giving birth to the Savior of the world. I am sure she was scared, as most new mothers are, until that moment when we hold our babies and realize everything is going to be okay, but can you imagine how she felt knowing her baby was the Messiah? Wow. Well, I guess I feel like I am rambling a bit. I hope and pray that you reflect on what Christmas is all about. The whole reason for it, is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our King. There is also a great article someone read to me this year called Mary's Reflections by Beth Moore. If you can, take time to read it as well, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our favorite Christmas song this year...



I guess this is an old song, it was recorded in 1950 for a zoo that was raising money to buy a hippo...but I just heard it this year. The kids and I love it and find ourselves singing it all the time! Hope you enjoy it as much as we seem too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

to decorate or not...

This year Christmas is a little different at our house. We leave on Wednesday to travel to California and we won't be home again until after New Years. Usually I go all out in my Christmas decorations and they stay up from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years Day. This year I made the painful decision to only take a few decorations out to put on the mantel, and a wreath on the front door. I decided that I didn't really want to come home and have to take it all down. I thought I would be okay with this decision, but I am going through major Christmas tree withdrawals! I am hoping my mom will have her tree up and decorated when we get there! Funny how we cling to our traditions. We are very excited to be going home for Christmas, we really haven't spent any quality time in California for 2 years now. The boys will get to see their cousins, and aunts and uncles and Great Grandma for the first time in 2 years! We are also very excited to see all our friends there! If we haven't set up and time to see you yet, and you want to see us, please contact me! Well, this week has been full of Christmas time business. We started the week with our OM Arts Christmas party, then the next night we had a Boy Scout Christmas party, then church on Wednesday night, I had my mom's group Christmas brunch this morning, both boys had Christmas feast at school (Jon went with Devon and I went with Ty), tonight is Ty's Christmas band concert, we are skipping a Christmas party tomorrow night, Jon and I have a babysitter for Saturday so we can go spend some time with some great friends here before we leave...and I am sure there is something on Sunday that I am just forgetting at the moment! With all this we have to get our kitchen ready to have some work done on Monday, and finish cleaning and packing to leave on Wednesday! phew! I will be ready to relax on the plane! Anyway, I hope to blog again sometime this month, but if I don't I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Love this picture...


Hey everyone!
We are full into winter here in GA. We have had below freezing temps for a few weeks now...okay, not all the time, but it has been cold! In a few weeks we leave for a partner trip to CA, and I can't wait! I don't like being cold. I hope we see all of you while we are there. I wanted to post a picture of Ty that he took on our computer...I really just love it! I will post some videos of them soon as well!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

To make you giggle...

Okay, I came across this today and it made me laugh... I thought a lot of you could use a little giggle as well.


Q. What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth?
A. Ruthless
Q. What do they call pastors in Germany?
A. German Shepherds.
Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A. Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.
Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
A . Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.
Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. Also, probably a Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.
Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
A. Samson. He brought the house down.
Q. What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden?
A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.
Q. Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible?
A. Moses. He broke all 10 commandments at once.
Q. Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy?
A. The area around Jordan. The banks were always overflowing.
Q. Who is the greatest babysitter mentioned in the Bible?
A. David. He rocked Goliath to a very deep sleep.
Q. Which Bible character had no parents?
A. Joshua, son of Nun.
Q. Why didn't they play cards on the Ark?
A. Because Noah was standing on the deck. (Groan...)
PS. Did you know it's not a woman's job to make coffee?
Yup, it's in the Bible. It says...'He-brews'

Okay, now back to your serious life! More on what the Simpson's are actually up to soon...I promise!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ty takes over



Hey, it's me, Ty and I am taking over this blog! Don't tell my mom about this! She hasn't been blogging that much, so I don't think she will notice this post. I started 5th grade a couple months ago and am getting really bored. During the time I have outside of the educational world (a.k.a. school and homework) I have taught myself how to do some skateboard tricks. I have learned how to jump and do a wheelie. I have started band also. I am leaning to play the bassoon and I am thankful that God has provided a free bassoon and private lessons for me. I am also finishing up Cub Scouts and looking for a Boy Scout troop. What should I put next? Oh yeah,I am also playing soccer, and have scored 7 goals so far this season! Here are some pictures for the blog.



Peace out and good night!
Ty

oh, one more thing, I found this video on youtube and I wanted to see how many of you like it. If you are reading this, watch the video and then comment on it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Godspeed, bill leahy, jr., on your flight

from jon's blog...

our circle of friends has shrunk by one this past week, and this world has lost a good guy. our hearts and prayers go out to our dear friends (wife, children, mother, father, brother, sister...) who are experiencing such a greater sense of loss than i can imagine. may the confidence we carry in the hope of being reunited someday bring light to this too-often overcast world.

redwood city daily news article

kntv news memorial

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Dev!

My baby boy is turning 8 today. Unbelievable. He is turning into such a remarkable young man. Anyone who knows Devon, knows that he is artistic, funny, silly, cuddly, smart, and ACTIVE! He will talk your ear off, and he is always making us laugh! God has given us such a gift with Devon! I am excited to watch Devon grow and become the man God wants him to be. I pray that this year is full of new, exciting adventures for our Noggin! Happy Birthday Devon, we love you tons!



The picture is of Devon wearing his favorite color and eating his favorite snack! I think we will be going out to dinner tonight (Chick-fil-a), since Devon wants nuggets and fries, and since he is not big on cake, I will be baking him an apple pie for dessert!

Funny

You know your from Georgia if...

1. You know Atlanta is pronounced ADD-LANNA, not AT-LANT-A

2. You think people who complain about the heat in their states are sissies.

3. A tornado warning siren is your signal to go out in the yard and look for a funnel.

4. You know that the true value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but by the availability of shade.

5. Stores don’t have bags or shopping carts, they have sacks and buggies.

6. You’ve seen people wear bib overalls at weddings and funerals.

7. You think everyone from a Yankee state has an accent.

8. You measure distance in minutes.

9. You go to the lake because you think it is like going to the ocean.

10. You listen to the weather forecast before picking out an outfit.

11. You know cowpies are not made of beef.

12. Someone you know has used a football schedule to plan their wedding date.

13. You know someone who has a belt buckle bigger than your fist.

14. Almost everyone you know is either Baptist or Methodist.

15. A Mercedes Benz isn’t a status symbol. A Chevy Silverado Crew Cab with extended bed is.

16. You know everything goes better with Ranch dressing.

17. You learned how to shoot a gun before you learned how to multiply.

18. Ironically, you only crave Chick-Fil-A and alcohol on Sundays . . when neither is sold.

19. On one side of the road there’s Wal-Mart and on the other is a cotton field.

20. The directions to your house include “turn off the paved road.”

21. Fried chicken is a major part of your diet

22. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are the only kind of doughnuts you eat.

23.. You call it a cold Christmas if you don’t break out in a sweat in your new sweater.

24. When a single snowflake falls, the entire state shuts down, even if it doesn’t stick. The radio and TV news will make snowstorm reports every ten minutes and the grocery store will be completely sold out of bread, milk, bottled water, toilet paper, and adult drinks.

25. People actually grow, eat, and like okra!

26. You know the difference between a hillbilly, a redneck, and a Southerner.

27. Your dog and your wallet are both on chains.

28. Panama City Beach, Florida, is a big deal.

29. You understand that at least once a year your car will turn yellow with pollen.

30. You know at least one Bubba, and maybe a few guys named Bo.

31. You say “tuna fish sandwich.”

32. You use “Sir” and “Ma’am” if there’s a remote possibility that the person you’re talking to is least 30 minutes older than you are.

33. Braves=good. Yankees=bad.

34. You love sweet tea, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and all Southern comfort food . . . and Southern comfort.

35. You know the whole peach state thing only applies to those below the fall line.

36. You have a flip-flop tan year-round

37. You use “The Big Chicken” as a basis for all directions.

38. You get dressed extra nice TWICE a week . . . once on Sunday morning for church, and once on Friday night for the football game.

39. Y'all is a word...and plural is all y'all.

And finally . . . 40. You are 100% Georgian if you have ever had this conversation: “You wanna coke?” “Yeah.” “What kind?” “Dr. Pepper.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Okay, it took me a few days to post again...but we are home. Our flight from Istanbul to JFK was fine, until we landed. We then had to sit in the airplane for an hour and a half until a gate opened up. I guess there had been tornados and thunder storms in the area all day and it really messed the airport up. After clearing customs we rechecked our bags and ran to our next gate, at the other end of the airport! We got there only to realize that our plane was delayed. Our 7pm flight didn't board until 9pm and then sat on the runway to wait out a storm until midnight! We landed in Atlanta about 2am. Then we had to wait for all the luggage to come off the plane until we realized that Jon's guitar did not make the flight! So, we made it home (thanks to our friend Nigel who was willing to come get us at that ungodly hour and then wait at the airport for another hour while we did the luggage thing!)at 4 am. We all went to bed and slept for about 5 hours. Today is our 3rd day home, and I think the jet lag is starting to go away! It is amazing to me how the boys seem to be able to jump from time zone to time zone and it doesn't seem to affect them too much, but Jon and I are dragging!
Today is also Jon's birthday. No big plans, just spent the day together. I am grateful to God for putting Jon and I together. He is my best friend, and I love being on this journey of life with him! Happy Birthday Baby! I pray that you continue to let God guide you this year and that you continue to become the man who God created you to be! I love you lots!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

On our own

Today the team (minus the boys and I) drove 3 hours to the city of Bursa. They left this morning, will have a concert tonight in a bar (which is why the kids and I did not go!), and will be back here in Istanbul about 4 am! This is the last concert of the tour. So, the boys and I had a really lazy day at the apartment. We played computer games and watched some tv...The Weakest Link on BBC! Then we left and went for a walk down by the Sea of Marmara, it is so beautiful! I love being by the water again. The boys stopped and played at a park for a while, and then we went to a local restaurant and had dinner and a really yummy piece of cheesecake! Then we walked back home. We only have 4 days left before we return home. The time here has gone so fast! In many ways I am ready to return home, and in some ways I wish we could stay here longer. The feelings for going home do out number the ones for staying! I will miss the food here! God has given us such a special gift with this experience. Even though the ministry side of things didn't go as expected, with all the canceled concerts, I really have seen God move. Last night we were invited to join a 24 hour prayer service. Jon with the band lead worship for an hour. There was about 40-50 people there, and man...they were singing out praises to God! It was so uplifting to just be in the presence of these believers! I think it was knowing that here we were in a country with only a few thousand believers in it, and to hear this small group of people praising was something I will never forget! You could just feel God in the room! It was exciting! I just found myself praying out for these people, to be strengthened, and encouraged. For them to just be able to go out into the city of Istanbul and bring more people into the Kingdom. How cool would it be for a full out revival to start in Turkey! Anyway, that has been my prayer these past few weeks. We may not have been able to do what we came here to do, but I still think that God has used us, and I know that I have a bigger view of God now. I have been changed. The next few days will be filled up with more site seeing here in Istanbul, last minute shopping and saying goodbye to our friends here. I am sure I will post again before we get home!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Changes...

Well, we were supposed to leave today to drive back down to the Izmir area. But the show that we thought we had down there, was canceled...once again we were denied by the local government. It is becoming something like a broken record with this tour! We were all feeling a bit disappointed, frustrated, and not sure what to do next. We came together as a team to pray and worship. It was an awesome few hours of worshiping, and crying out to God for this country and it's people. Also, really just asking God what He wants us to do now. So, it was decided for us not to make the 9 hour drive down there for a bar gig that we had lined up just to fill a night while we were there. The bar was called and they understood that we could not afford to come just for that night (they weren't paying us)and now we are still in Istanbul. The leader of our team reminded us that for this tour, we were trying things that have never been done in Turkey and of course the enemy is not happy with us. We have felt that at every turn. So with all that, we are also not going to see Ephesus. I was really disappointed about this at first, but quickly decided that there is not anything anyone can do about it, and that I was still enjoying everything I have seen here in Istanbul. I really just had to pray for God to take away my disappointment (it took a few times praying it, because I wanted to keep taking it back!), but I think in the long run it worked! I am completely okay with missing Ephesus...it will just give us another reason to visit again someday!
Today (Wednesday) we woke up to a little rain. Jon had to be at a band practice and the boys and I decided to go with another team member to go sight seeing. We were going to go back to the European side to visit the Sultan's Palace. So, we took the train to the ferry stop, got on the ferry, and about half the way over there, it started to STORM! Thunder and lightning and lots of rain! Of course when we got off the ferry we had to walk. By the time we got to the palace, we were soaking wet, and cold. We decided not to go inside after all (it cost 10 lira per person). We decided that we would enjoy it more on a dry day when we weren't so miserable! So, we walked back down to the ferry, and went home. We were supposed to meet up with the team this evening for the band to do some street music, but decided against it because of the weather. The boys and I decided to have Burger King for dinner. Funny, it taste the same as it does in the States...you can take that to be good or bad! We have been here 21 days now, and my stomach has been fine, until tonight...thanks Burger King! Tomorrow we are meeting as a team again for more prayer and worship. I will try to write again tomorrow night!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amazed in Turkey

Wow, I feel so grateful for this opportunity my family has been given. To actually be able to live in another culture for a month. It is completely eye opening and life changing. I walk to the grocery store almost every day for fresh bread and fruit. At first the grocery clerk ignored me, but now she smiles and tells me hello (merhaba). I feel like I have been accepted! If this had been a "normal" tour for Jon, I would not have had this experience of being in one place for so long. He usually gets to the country, and they don't stay in one place longer then a few days. I think this is great for the kids as well, to be able to experience this at a young age. To really know that the rest of the world lives nothing like we do in America! It also had made me realize how blessed we are to live in America. Turks are very friendly people, they smile at you (especially at the kids), and they really do try to communicate with you even if they don't know a word in English! I have felt very welcome here.

Saturday we had a sight seeing day. After sleeping in we got up and took a train (we always take a train!), and a ferry boat across to the Europe side of Istanbul. From there we walked to the Grand Bazaar. Wow...that is like nothing I have ever experienced before! Very crowded and people doing everything they can to get you into their shops! I am not big on the whole bartering thing, but you realize you have to if there is something you really want. Because they start out REALLY high! I was interested in buying a table runner for our piano and I found one I like that is mostly silk. The shop keeper started his price out at 170 lira (about $150)...okay, there was no way I was paying anything near that price. I really just wanted to walk out of the shop, but he wouldn't let me! I told him I only wanted to spend about 20 lira on something...and he said no way for the silk one and showed me a few cotton runners that would be about 20 lira. Well, I didn't like any of them, so I just decided to keep looking. I was a little bummed because I really did like the runner, but I don't have that kind of money (even if I am American!). As I was walking out of the shop, he gave one last offer of 30 lira. That I decided I could handle and bought the runner. If it is even worth that, I will probably never know but I was amazed at how much the price went down when I decided to walk away! We were also able to buy some gifts. We also went to the Hagia Sophia which is more then 1,400 years old. It used to be a Christian Church, but was later taken over by the Muslims and turned into a mosque. It was amazing to walk around in it and look at the mosaics that are still inside. We had fun talking about the Christians who used to worship there and how amazing the singing must have sounded in that building! There are still a few other places we want to visit in Istanbul, but it will have to wait until the last few days we are here. We will be traveling back down to the Izmir area on Wednesday. Sometime during the week we will get to go see Ephesus! I can't wait to see it!
Today, we slept in and had a very lazy day at the apartment. About 4:20pm we caught the train and met up with Chris. He walked us to his apartment and we stayed and visited with him, Sara, Sara's mom (from Canada), and baby Jude. He is so cute and tiny! It was fun to hold a tiny baby!
Right now I am sitting in the apartment again, the kids are in bed, Jon is playing Nintendo DS and we are listening to the call to prayer through the open window. I don't know, I actually like the sound of it. I know some people don't, because it is part of the whole Islamic religion, but I have been using it as a reminder for me to pray for the country and it's people. It has become kind of a sweet reminder. It adds to the whole exotic, foreign atmosphere as well!
Well, we have 3 concerts left that are scheduled and maybe one more that is still in the works. I have lots of mixed feelings about still being on an adventure, and ready to be heading home as well. Well, anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings!

Us walking through the Emperors door at the Hagia Sophia




The Grand Bazaar

Friday, July 11, 2008

Update on our trip to Izmir

Well, I am sitting in our apartment in Istanbul once again. The boys are tucked into bed, and Jon and the band are on the European side of Istanbul for a concert tonight at a nightclub. For obvious reasons, the boys and I are skipping this show. Actually, I would have loved to be there, but oh well. The show doesn't even start till 10:30 pm...so I am sure they won't be home until at least 3 am!

Last Sunday we loaded up the van and drove 9 hours to the city of Izmir. We stayed in a host home. The men had the top level of this house, the women the second level, and our family was in a little unit outside of the house. The levels of the house were also like separate apartments. In our unit, Jon and I had a mattress on the floor of a bedroom, and the boys had bunk beds in a room to themselves. We had a mini kitchen, but no fridge, and a room with a toilet and shower together (this is common in Turkey). The bathroom was very clean, and that pleased me! Basically, I looked at it as a place to sleep. It was about 100 degrees in Izmir and of course no air conditioning made sleeping difficult. We did leave our window open in our bedroom, but our curtain rod kept falling, so most nights we just left the curtain off and hoped no one peeked in! We had our first concert on Monday night. It was in a town that has no church and no believers in it. They had a new amphitheater that we were playing in, so new that they didn't even have electrical power until a few hours before the show. We got there for set up and people were still working in it! There was no shade to be found and we were working on set up in the hot sun for hours. This was the first of 3 concerts we were doing this week that were set up with the city council. I think this was new for TACO as well. We had about 200 people show up to the concert (this was what we call a closed concert, which means we don't actually talk about Jesus from the stage) and everyone really seemed to enjoy the music. We handed out lyrics in Turkish and also had a "fan club" sheet that people could sign up on. This is basically a way to get contact info for people who would be interested in attending other concerts. The city was suppose to feed us dinner after the show, and put us up in their new hotel and feed us breakfast. Well, when we got there we were told that the hotel is not finished, it has no power or beds. Okay, at least we still had this other house to stay in. After the concert there was a little scuffle with the police. Someone had complained to them about the lyrics of the songs containing the name Jesus. That is when it seems like accusations started flying at us. Apparently we were promising people jobs, collecting names and addresses so we could send out New Testements, and praying with minors. Now, this is a country that you are legally suppose to be able to worship how ever you want, but it is against the law to try to convert a minor. We were told this at the beginning of the tour, and if someone did actually pray with a minor, I am not sure. Needless to say, our dinner was canceled. The next morning we got up and had a phone call from the city where that night we were suppose to do a concert...they had gotten a phone call from the city from the night before. They canceled us because they had "electrical problems". We decided to use that day to go to the next town where we were scheduled for the next night and do promotion. The town didn't have any time to put up the poster we had sent them. After waiting for about 2 hours to get permission to do this (and having to answer questions about the other concert and reassure them that we were not passing out Bibles we started going store to store asking to hang posters. After about an hour of this and hearing lots of people say how excited they were to come watch, we got a phone call...yep we were canceled! AHHHHHH!!!!!! I don't think I really ever heard an official reason for it. So, with our tails tucked between our legs we went back to our house and decided what to do. Of course through all this there was lots of prayer going on. We decided to take the night and set up a acoustic concert in Izmir (where we were having a show Thursday night at a church) along the water front of the Aegean Sea. It was beautiful there! We had lots of people sitting around to listen and we handed out lots of flyers. The concert Thursday night was great. I did see a few guys come that we had met the night before. But after reading through some of the stuff we had, they decided to leave. bummer. I think it was mostly church people there, but it was great to be able to encourage them. They really enjoyed it. Then Friday morning we loaded up the van again, drove 9 hours back to Istanbul, to drop the boys and I off...and now they are doing the nightclub tonight!

Tomorrow is our first official day off. I know Jon will want to sleep in, and then I am hoping we will go back to the European side of Istanbul to do some site seeing! We have been here 2 weeks now, and have not had time to do that!

There is a concert Sunday, and then I think on Tuesday we head back down past Izmir to Selcuk (I might be spelling that wrong!) to do more concerts. Next week I will also get to visit Ephesus! yippee! I hope that catches you up on things. Please keep praying for this country! We love you guys!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Izmir

We are now in Izmir. I wıll post more when we get back to Istanbul next week. We have had 2 concerts cancelled this week at the last minute. I wıll try to go into detail next week. It is really hot here...please keep praying! Thanks!

Friday, July 04, 2008

aghhhh...

I did not sleep last night at all! We went to bed shortly after midnight, and I just laid there feeling wide awake! One of the problems I am having at night is it never seems to get really dark. I like it REALLY dark when I sleep. It gets sorta dark around 10 pm and then it is daylight again by 5:30 am. I finally felt like I started to drift off to sleep when the 4:30 am call to prayer started up! It seemed like it went on forever! This was the first time I had heard it early in the morning. Then I started to go back to sleep when I was woken up by Jon's alarm at 7:00 am, he had to leave for practice by 8. I am hoping I got a few hours of sleep...I think I will go make some coffee! Tonight is our first concert, and it will be a super late night...I think I will take some Tylenol PM before bed, hope it helps! Oh, by the way Happy 4th of July everyone! :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Be Flexible...

I have been hearing this phrase for months now, either from Jon, or at church, or from friends who have done trips like this before. Well, today I am realizing why. We woke up this morning to our phone ringing. It was a TACO team member, telling us that our drummer and his wife are in the hospital. She is pregnant and her water broke this morning (she is 5 weeks early). This threw a bit of a wrench into the plans for this tour. Our first concert is tomorrow, and another one on Saturday. We leave on Sunday to drive to Izmir for a week of touring (I think there is a concert planned for everyday). Do we scramble and look for another drummer, or switch the musicians around that we do have and have Jon play bass, and our current bass player switch to drums...or have Jon try to drum and sing at the same time...or maybe just scale down to a more acoustic group and not really worry about drums? What ever they decide to do, it is going to require more practice, either to learn new parts or whatever. The nice thing is that nobody seems too stressed about this situation. It is nice to know that God is in control, and we will move forward to do what we came here to do. He will be glorified! Right now, I am thankful that she went into labor today, and not a few days from now when we were actually 9 hours away! I am excited for them also as they begin this new season of life and become parents!

Ty and Devon have done really well on this trip so far. They have had to sit through some pretty long orientation type meetings. Yesterday, we did some advertising for the concert on Friday night. We went into Istanbul on the Europe side and set up on the street to do a mini street concert (very stripped down) across the street from where the concert was actually going to be. We couldn't actually hand out anything on the street, but we left the guitar case open with little poster type things in it that people could take. After about 2 songs, the police came and shut us down. We packed up and started walking back to the train. After a few blocks the decision was made to set up again and start playing. This time they played for maybe 45 minutes. There were times that quite a crowd would stop and listen. Anyway, back to Ty and Devon...after we got back to the Asia side of Istanbul, we went to a town square type place to actually hand things out. The boys really wanted to help out with this! A little background on turks and kids. They seem to love children! We can't go anywhere without someone rubbing Devon's head, or touching his face. I guess it is because he is blonde. Dev has been really good about this, and it doesn't bother him at all! I would have freaked out at his age if it were me! Anyway, we used that to our advantage when it came time to hand things out. And anyone who knows Devon, knows he is not really shy. He was having so much fun handing these papers out! At one point I was watching him, he was standing behind Jon (who was also trying to hand them out), people who would tell Jon no, would then take one if Devon handed it to them! It was hilarious! After a while we just all gave Devon and Ty our piles and they handed them out for us! I have pictures that I will get posted soon. After that we went to get some dinner. It was probably about 8:30 pm when we got to an outdoor cafe. I was told this was what Turks would consider fast food. Now, I don't know what my sandwich was called, but I will describe it for you the best I can. So far the food here has been excellent! Now, let me warn you, this might not sound so good, but it was so yummy! It was basically a grilled sandwich which was stuffed with some kind of meat (closest I can think of would be salami), white cheese, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, (this is where is gets a bit weird), kinda like a potato salad, and french fries. It was so yummy! Ty and Jon each had a sandwich with shaved chicken, lettuce, tomato, pickles and french fries and wrapped in like a flat bread. Devon has some like meat ball thing, except they were kinda flat and oval shaped. It all tasted really good! On our way back to the train to go home for the night we stopped and got Magnum bars (really yummy ice cream bars...kinda like Dove bars, but better!).

I am sure there is so much more I could tell you...there is a lot I am trying to process in my brain right now before I right it out! It has really blown my mind, the experience of being in a foreign country for the first time. Anyway, I am sure I will write more about that side of things in the next day or so!

Thanks for reading, I promise to get more pictures up soon!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Life in Turkey

Here are a few things we have learned the past few days of living in Turkey.

1. Never flush toilet paper down the toilet. There is usually a little trash can next to the toilet where the paper goes... enough said.

2. Always remove your shoes when entering someone's house.

3. Watch out for cars, because they are not really watching out for you!

4. The call to prayer happens 5 times a day and sounds a bit like an air raid siren when it starts up!

5. Never overcrowd a turkish elevator.

This last one we learned by experience. The first day we were here 5 of us crowded into our flat's elevator. We pressed the floor button to go UP, the door closed and locked, then we felt the elevator drop a few inches and the lights went out. Now, anyone who knows me pretty well, knows that I do not do well in tight, enclosed spaces. I was in a corner, in a crowded elevator, where the heat seemed to rise at least 5 degrees instantly, trying not to panic! I noticed Jon knelt down in front of me, not sure if he did this to try and give me more space or what, but I was grateful. I just sat there praying that we would get out soon, and trying to not have visions of being in this elevator for hours! Luckily someone was out in the hall and realized what had happened. They got the key to the elevator door and opened it for us. I am sure we weren't even in there for 5 minutes, but it seemed like hours! Needless to say, I have not stepped back into the elevator...I will us the stairs from now on, thank you!

Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday Jon has had to be at band practice, so the boys and I are on our own. We have walked around our neighborhood quite a bit. Yesterday, I had plans in the morning to go find the money exchange place (we were told it was about a 25 minute walk), and go to the grocery store. I was supposed to bring a dessert to the team dinner that night. Devon woke up not feeling very well, but we thought maybe he was hungry (he hasn't eaten much since we got here), so I got him to eat a little breakfast. Thinking he was going to be okay, we set out on our adventure. When we were walking down the street he threw up. I was ready to turn back to the apartment, but Devon said he felt much better, so we kept going. A little later, he needed to stop and rest. Then we started going again, and a little later he threw up again! Okay, at this point I wasn't really sure what to do. We were almost to the money exchange (at least I hoped we were!), and I really needed to get some of our personal money exchanged. So, the loving mother I am, I convinced Dev to keep going and told him we could stop and rest when ever he needed to. Needless to say, the 25 minute walk turned into 1 hour. We finally found the place, exchanged our money, and started back to the flat. Devon threw up again, this time right in the middle of the sidewalk. I was trying to help him and no be mortified that he was doing this right on the sidewalk, when a little old lady came up and started rubbing his back and saying something to him. She smiled at me and I think said , "tamam" which means okay in turkish. I thanked her in Turkish, which surprised me, because I have trouble with the turkish word for thank you, must have been a God thing! I poured some of my water bottle onto the sidewalk, to at least help clean it up, and we were on our way again. Devon let me stop at the grocery store, where I bought him some Sprite, and we looked for something for dessert. I thought if I could find something that looked like rice krispies I would make rice krispie treats, no such luck. I looked in the dessert aisle and thought, "who am I kidding, I can't read the directions to any of these things!" So, I bought some cookies and fruit. The fruit here is amazing! So fresh and juicy! Ty and I also bought our first (and I am sure will NOT be our last) Magnum bars. Kinda like Dove ice cream bars, but waaaay better! Why don't we have these in America? By the time we made it back to our flat it was over 2 hours later! Devon threw up I think 5 times during our walk. When we got back he laid on the couch and watched a movie, and then was fine the rest of the day. By the time dinner was last night, he was hungry...a good sign!

This morning we are taking it easy at the flat, and then around 3pm the boys and I will catch the train to an outdoor market, and then meet up with the team to help stuff envelopes or something like that for some concerts. They said the boys could help stamp them. This will be the first time we have taken the train by ourselves. It is amazing to me that these things are not making me scared. I don't normally think of myself as a very independent person, but here I am walking around, exploring, shopping, and catching trains in a foreign country and feeling fine about it! I even told the boys I would take them out to lunch today! God is so good! I know that is the only reason I am here, because He loves me and has enabled me to be strong in that love. I truly feel like I am only trusting in Him, what a great feeling! I will write more later and let you know how the day went!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 1...or is it 2?

Merhaba!

Greetings from Turkey! We arrived safe and sound after about 14 hours of travel. We got into Istanbul about 10:30 on Friday morning. Since the airport is on the European side of Istanbul, we got to ride a sea bus across the Bosphorus to get to the Asia side. I think it took us about 2 hours to get to our flat in Istanbul... first we took a bus, then the sea bus, then a train, and then we had to walk a few blocks... phew! This is a big city!! We got kinda settled in, and then took a nap for a few hours. We had a team member meet us here again to take us to another team member's house for dinner. They surprised us by also giving Ty a birthday cake! We had really yummy Thai chicken and rice for dinner...yummm. After walking and taking the train and walking again it took about an hour to get back to our flat. We all went right to bed! The boys slept in pretty late this morning; Dev didn't wake up till 10:00! Jon had to be out the door pretty early to go to band rehearsal, and the boys and I had a pretty lazy morning. We watched a little BBC on TV... the only English channel! After lunch, another team member came and took the boys and I around our neighborhood to show us the grocery store and stuff like that. We also did a little grocery shopping for us... quite an experience since all the food looked strange to me! But, I managed to find stuff to make spaghetti, or at least something like it! This afternoon Ty, Dev and I also went for a walk down by the Sea of Marmara. I think that is where it hit me, "wow, I am actually in Turkey!". Since it was Ty's birthday we let him pick where we were eating dinner tonight. He picked a local outdoor cafe. The whole time we were walking there, he kept saying, "finally real Turkish food!", and then he ordered a cheeseburger! Go figure. He did order Ayran to drink, which is Turkish... kind of a salty yogurt drink. He said he liked it and did drink quite a bit of it. Devon ordered it also, and after his first drink said,"not a big fan of this Ayran stuff!". He also ordered a hamburger. Jon and I went a little more Turkish with chicken kebabs and rice. It was very good! We also tried the Ayran, and I think we agree with Devon. We will see if Ty actually orders it again! Well, it is almost midnight here, and I am tired. Tomorrow we are having a lazy morning and then spending the afternoon with friends. I think we get roommates as well. Hopefully they will like living with 2 not so quiet boys! Keep checking back, I am hoping to post regularly!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ty turns the big 1-0


Well, I am blogging this now, because I won't be able to do it on his birthday. Ty is turning double digits! I can't believe he has been in our family for 10 years already! God has blessed us with such an amazing young man. He is kind, sensitive, funny, smart, and always willing to help others. He is a wonderful son, and I am excited to watch him grow and become a man. My prayer is that he lives a life running after God's heart. To find the passions that God has placed in him and use them to glorify God and expand the Kingdom. I was watching a video of him the other night and it made me cry! He was 3 years old and singing "Be Still And Know That I Am God"...I will try and post it on here as well. Ty has been growing his hair out and it was past his shoulders, tonight he decided to cut it all off for our Turkey trip. So I am posting before and after pics as well!





Happy Birthday Ty! We all love you tons!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Devon gets dunked!

Ever since last summer's church picnic, Devon has been asking to be baptized. Today was finally the day (our church usually does a big group of baptisms once a year). It was so special to watch Jon baptize our youngest son and, yes, I did cry. Our prayer for Devon is that as he grows into the man God wants him to be, he will live out his youth with a desire to know God more, and with the love, freedom, peace, and purpose that only God can give. We love you, Dev!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sad News

I just got news today that my Uncle Jim died unexpectedly last night. I guess he is actually my great uncle. He is my dad's uncle. I have tons of memories of him from my childhood. He and his wife (my grandma's youngest sister) Wilma have a ranch in Delhi, CA, and we used to go visit there quite a bit. There were grape orchards (is it an orchard of grapes?), walnut groves, and a river to play in. He always took us to the river to go fishing, and funny enough he always saw the big fish with our name on it just the day before! When I was really little he smoked cigars (it might have been a pipe, I don't really remember now), but I always like how the smoke smelled. He had a great laugh, and was always fun to be around. I will be unable to fly back to California for his funeral, which makes me a bit sad, but I hope I will be able to see him again someday! Uncle Jim, you will be missed!
Jon just told me that it is a grape vineyard (duh, don't know why I didn't remember that), and that it might be walnut orchards not groves. Anyone know?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Warm Evenings

I love this time of the year. The days are in the mid 80's, but not too humid yet, and the evenings are just perfect for sitting out on the back porch with an ice-cream cone! These kind of evenings always bring to my mind images of Southerners sitting on the porch swing with a nice cold Lemonade or Mint Julep (one of these days, I will have to try one of those!). We also pulled out the tent tonight for the boys to "camp out". We figured since this is the first time they have slept outside by themselves, we would start out with the tent on the deck...easy access to the house if needed! They were pretty excited, and I think they will stay out there all night!




If all ya'll want to stop by for a cup of sweet tea just give us a call! Actually, you won't find sweet tea at my house, but I will find you something cold to drink! And don't forget your bug spray!

Friday, May 23, 2008

SUMMER!

Today was the last day of school for the boys! I think I am more excited about this then they are! Ty and Devon really enjoy school and both the boys are in the gifted learners program. Devon finished the year with straight A's and (for the first time since he has started school)Ty finished the year with 2 B's and 4 A's. Ty found 4th grade to be a bit of a challenge, and a lot was expected of him this year. We are so proud of both the boys and what they have accomplished this school year. Ty had a bit of a special treat happen. He made the Millionaires Club at school this year. This is a program for the 4th and 5th graders to challenge them to read more. He read over a million words this school year, and this was just in the books he read at school, I didn't even bother to keep track of the MANY books he read while at home! Both boys have turned into avid readers! I love it! Anyway, for reaching this goal he got to ride in a limo to Chick-fil-a for lunch and Sonic for ice-cream! What a treat! He was so excited! There were only 2 4th graders who made this goal and only 7 students total. Here are some pictures of his limo ride!


I have finished working at OM for now, I will start again in August when school starts back up. I feel so blessed to be working with an organization who is allowing me to take this time off to be with my kids. They grow so fast, and I really don't want to miss out on my time with them now! We are looking forward to hot days, swimming, summer reading program at the library, a visit from my sister, nephew and parents, a month in Turkey, and a trip to Florida, and hopefully catching up on my scrap booking...phew, busy summer! If you are in the area, give us a call and we will fit you in! We would love more visitors!


The boys and their AWESOME teachers!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Arrivals and more


Here are some cute new arrivals we have on our front porch! It has been fun watching them from the living room window! They are so sweet when the mommy bird comes and they all open their mouths really wide! I hope we get to see them fly away!
Life here in Georgia has been good. We are busy with the last few days of school and excited about a visit from my parents, sister and nephew next month! We are also preparing for a month in Turkey! We are so excited to have the opportunity to travel to Turkey with Jon this time! Jon will be co-leading a tour with a band that is over there. God has provided in some amazing ways for this to happen!I am hoping to post a few times while we are there, but I guess we will just have to wait and see how it goes.
The boys only have a little over a week left of school, and I only have a few days left of work (I am taking the summer off, and will go back to work at OM in August). We always love summer! Here are some more of my new favorite pictures...enjoy!


my awesome husband!



our cute dog!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Awesome song

Just a quick post...Here is a song and video that I just can't get enough of!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Spring is on the way!


The first signs of spring have started to pop up! I noticed these daffodils blooming in my front yard, and others are starting to push up out of the ground in the backyard! After 2 long cold months, I am ready for warmer weather! Everything around here is really brown and dead in the winter, so this sudden burst of color is wonderful! On Wednesday we will be on our way to Oregon to visit churches, family, and supporters. We have also been blessed with a quick trip to California. I will be able to see my brothers, sister, and Grandma again after 14 months! Needless to say, I am very excited! Anyway, I just wanted to share this first picture of spring with you...enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SNOW IN GEORGIA!






Unbelievable...we have had snow 2 days this week! Today, things are covered in snow, and I have heard we should have about 4 inches by tomorrow morning! Ty and Devon (Jon and I too!) have had a great time playing outside! One of the funny things we have noticed, is that southerners don't really know what to do when it snows. The first thing everyone does is run to the store to buy bread and milk. We are not sure why that is but I guess they are afraid of being snowed in for a while. Crazy. Luckily, we have enough bread and milk already, so I did not have to make a mad dash for the store! Here are some pictures...enjoy!