Monday, December 22, 2008

taking up running

i have decided that i want need to start running. i have never enjoyed it but i really want to find a new form of exercise that i have to really commit to in order to be successful. the only time that i have ever run on a regular basis before was in high school when playing field hockey, which was just 1 mile before every practice. i feel like now is as good of a time as any other. i have been trying to drop all the weight i gained in college, plus the extra 50 lbs. or so i picked up since getting married, and i need a workout regimen that will keep me motivated. i have also been doing weight watchers since the end of september, and am proud to report that i have now lost 20.4 lbs and counting!!!! it seems like i have an eternity to go, but it took awhile to pack on, so i'm sure it will take away to take off. ryan has now joined me on the healthy living bandwagon and so we're trying to do this together. i'm going to try the couch potato to 5K running plan so wish me luck because i'm starting today!!

this will be me in a matter of weeks:

a girl can dream, right???

Monday, December 15, 2008

weekend recap

well, what a weekend! i feel very ramped up for christmas now that we've officially joined in the season by attending our first (and second) christmas parties, wrapping christmas gifts, drinking buckets full of hot chocolate, and receiving some delightful christmas cards from our dear friends and family.

saturday night was our church christmas party and it was a blast!! who knew that giving junk from around the house could make for such a comical evening :) wouldn't you know that ryan would be the one to open the nosiest/most annoying gift?!? two words: FINGER CYMBALS! oh yes, he was like #5 to open a white elephant gift, in which was enclosed some lovely finger cymbals. so instead of sitting quietly while the rest of the gang picked/opened/stole gifts from each other, he proceeded to celebrate the whole time by clanging the finger cymbals. much to my dismay, i was sitting right next to him!!! i thought my hearing was bad before...

thankfully after all the gift giving was said and done, linda was sweet enough to trade him her darth vader bobblehead for his gift of goodies. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! we may not still be married if he made it home with those things!

sunday was my dad's company christmas party, which proved to be less than thrilling. i was only there for about an hour but spent most of my time playing babysitter for my sister, who is the point person on all company shindigs, and trying to figure out who would fit the profile of my favorite "the office" characters. there were quite a lot of similarities to dwight, as could be expected in any engineering firm, but no jim and pam to speak of...

after about an hour, my oldest niece, mikayla, started feeling like she was going to throw up, so i got a hall pass to leave with the sick child in tow. poor thing, she must have the crazed stomach flu that's going around. i'm just hoping the rest of the family won't catch it because i don't do sickness very well.

(poor mikayla!! she was so sick that yawkey would not leave her side)

anyways, well that was our weekend in a nutshell. hope you had a great one. happy monday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

as we know it

life update...

ryan is still looking for a new job so he can finally get out of the retail industry. we are really praying that he can find something with more normal hours, like an 8-5/M-F. plus, the job has to be something local because we are absolutely not moving again!! we just got back home and the thought of picking up and moving again makes us both feel sick! he's put out a few resumes and has his ear to the ground on openings, but nothing concrete yet. this is a major prayer for us because we really don't feel like we can start a family or pursue anything with adoption until he has something with more family friendly hours. it's really not about the money, but more the lack of time that he has at home right now. we just don't feel like it would be fair to our child/children to have a dad gone as much as he is right now, so please pray for us!!

i am still plugging away with my new job in louisville (actually, i've been there 7 months already so i guess it's not really new any more!), and really enjoying it. we are currently trying to raise some serious general funds just for our normal operations, and with the current economy, it has been going more slowly than we would like. fortunately, we know God's got a much bigger bank account than we could ever hope for, so the money will come from somewhere if God wants things to move forward.

as far as the rest of our lives...
we are staying busy with church stuff and other extracurriculars. we both are really enjoying volunteering in the children's ministry at fellowship - i work with pre-k and ryan works with infants (scary, i know!!). we have been so blessed to make a lot of good friends through our small group and church, so we've been busy hanging out with them whenever we can.

also, we are both trying to turn over a new leaf and get healthy. i always joke that i didn't gain the freshman 15 in college but the freshman 50. sadly, it didn't just stop my freshman year!!! so, now i've been doing weight watchers since the end of september and have lost 18.8 lbs to date! i've got a long way to go so i'm trying to keep up the workouts and am working on learning to cook/eat healthier. just as of this week, i think i've finally got ryan on board with trying to lose weight as well. it took a little bribing and arm twisting, but the promise of a wii if he loses 30 lbs was just enough to get him in the game finally!!! i'll keep you updated on our progress :)

we are also trying to spend as much time as we can with our families now that we're back in louisville. although this hasn't been as easy as i thought it would be, we are grateful for all the extra time we get to spend with everyone. my sister's kids, brother - stuart and brother-in-law - zachary are all growing like weeds!! it makes me feel so old when i hang out with them!

anyways, we've got a slew of Christmas parties to go to this weekend, even though i'll be flying solo to most of them, so it should be pretty busy. hope you have a great weekend! x0x0-

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


today i have been thinking a lot about what the future of our family will look like. ryan and i have been praying for several months now on what the next step will be and when we will take it (God willing). i keep finding myself coming back to Jeremiah 29:11 -

"For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

i am so glad to know that He already knows what our tomorrow looks like. He knows exactly how many kids we'll have, their names and even the crap they'll do to get on our nerves. unfortunately, i am a major worrier and planner so i naturally like to have everything worked out a long time in advanced. BUT, as i'm learning more and more, life just does not work that way!! in many ways though, i am so glad that i'm not the one planning my life because i could not have dreamed up some of the things that have happened. i believe strongly in the power of prayer and am just waiting and praying for God to give us the direction He would have our family go. who knows what's in store (well, besides God)...not me but i can't wait to find out!!!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008


its pretty much a well-known fact that i am an INFJ personality type. you can find a description of an INFJ here but it basically means that i have "introverted intuition with extroverted feelings". my sweet husband on the other hand is a definite ESFP, described here, but basically a person who believes that "the whole world is their stage". so basically put: we are from totally different planets...literally, man is from mars, woman is from venus!

i absolutely love to think about God's sense of humor in putting us two together. i just would have never thought that i would end up marrying ryan sweeney!! after all the times he annoyed me in youth group at church or said ridiculous/ADHD things, i never thought that i would become "that girl" to date him (much less MARRY HIM!!) - but i am sooooo glad i did.

after thinking back to all the wackos that i could have ended up with, its comforting to think that God was (and still is) in control! at least i got the lesser of the wackos :)

anyways, i've just been feeling really nostalgic lately and have been thinking back over the past 7 years that we've been together. i really do feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be married to (beware- cliche alert!) my best friend! we've shared a lot of wonderful memories and i can't wait to see where God takes us next...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christ-centered Christmas...

last night at small group, we were talking about the true meaning of christmas and discussing how easy it is to glaze over all the amazing truths that christmas actually symbolizes. i mean seriously, Christ chose to come into this crazy world as a baby - both fully human and fully God - to break us from the bonds of the law. not only did He chose to become a baby, He also was born to a teenage girl and placed in a manger...not born to a king and placed on a throne like He deserved. He truly humbled Himself and took our(my) place on the cross. this should be the true meaning and focus of christmas!!!!

unfortunately, it is just so easy for me to lose this perspective and see christmas only through the eyes of presents, shopping, decorations, etc. basically, christmas has been broken down to how much money i'm going to spend and on who...i'm pathetic, i know.

anyways, it's probably too late in the game for some of these this year but here are some ideas i'm contemplating for a more Christ-centered christmas":
-buying gifts that make an impact on the world, not just on a closet or toy chest of a loved one (Donate Love - Sozo International, World Vision & International Justice Mission)
-convincing the family to pool our money and take a family vacation instead
-shop for a child off the Angel Tree
-free babysitting to friends and family that need a break
-actually reading the christmas story straight from the Bible on christmas morning rather than rushing to open presents
-giving out cookies to our neighbors, especially ones we don't know
-having a christmas pot-luck dinner with friends instead of buying gifts for each other
-baking a b-day cake for Jesus
-going out carolling with the family
-offering to pay for a stranger's gas during the holiday shopping season
-going to a restaurant on christmas eve or christmas day just for a drink, and then leaving a large tip

hopefully verbalizing some of these ideas will hold me accountable. merry christmas y'all~

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

that's what she said!

i'm hooked...absolutely and totally. the office officially and completely makes me laugh and is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. now, i understand that i'm a little late, as this trend has already been around awhile, but ryan and i just started watching it from the beginning about a week ago. i always thought it was funny, but now that i have watched it from the start (actually, we started at season 2 because we don't know anyone who has season 1 - which is only 6 episodes), i can truly appreciate the brilliance of the show.
anyways, now you know what i've been up to lately instead of blogging...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

coming soon to a mailbox & tv near you!

*two things:
1- i FINALLY ordered the sweeney family Christmas cards!!! this is quite a production because it takes me a painfully long time to decide which card to order every year. there are too many adorable card sites and it always comes down to choosing between 3 of my favorites. anyways, i finally just bit the bullet and went ahead with one since i need to get them in the mail asap. too bad i always realize when trying to put together our card that me and ryan never take pictures together. maybe this will change when we have kids...or lose weight? :)

2- as embarrassing as it is to admit, i almost cried when i saw this:

coming to a tv near you on Jan. 5!!!

on abc's website there is even a countdown for junkies like me (currently 41 days, 7 hours and 27 minutes until the 2 hour season premier of mindless bliss!). pathetic, i know...

Monday, November 24, 2008

rainy day, pick-me up

today the weather is beyond yucky and i need a pick me up. i can't think of anything better on a dreary day than a few of my favorite youtube videos. enjoy:

*this sure makes me proud to be from kentucky!

*i know we've only been married 2.5 years, but this is still funny :)

*"i wanna know where da gold at. gimme da gold."

*mmmm...just another reason why i'm boycotting mcdonalds - long lines at the drive through :)


Friday, November 21, 2008

dogs are pretty much kids, right?

so the desire to have kids of my own is growing more and more everyday, but, as everyone always tells me..."you're still very young". i know, i know but that doesn't mean i don't want kids already!!! ryan and i have been married just 2 1/2 years but sometimes it feels like forever because we've been together 7 years already. i mean kids is definitely the next step for us, but it's just a matter of when.

however, until we know that the Lord is giving us the green light on starting our family, i figure that i'll have to settle for the next best four legged children - Fenway Park Sweeney and Yawkey Way Sweeney:

have a great weekend folks~

Thursday, November 20, 2008

boycott commercialized Christmas

34 days until Christmas, and counting!

can you even believe it?!? i sure can't! in fact, i have to be honest...i've kinda come to dread the Christmas season. this year will mark ryan's 4th Christmas working retail sales, and "joy to the world" is not exactly my sentiment when thinking about Christmas from a seasonal perspective.

*(now don't get me wrong, i am more than thankful that Christ was born into this world to save me and everyone else from our sin - so i am strictly talking about the commercialism surrounding Christmas, not Christ's birth!)

every october seems to bring me an increasing sense of dread. i know that the time of year is coming again when i can kiss my hubby goodbye for at least 6 weeks as he sells his soul to the beloved* (sarcasm implied), hhgregg. as his hours increase, so do our patience for each other. it seems that no matter how prepared we are for it, we are never prepared enough. while the paychecks are a huge help, i would just rather have my husband back!

black friday is just the beginning, but it is obviously the hardest day of all. poor ryan and his fellow co-workers have to report for duty at 4am and are not allowed to leave until at least 11pm...not even for a food break. on what is supposed to be one of the laziest days of the year, ryan is working his tail off (which makes it awful hard for me to not feel guilty about my 'day after thanksgiving' afternoon nap).

anyways, all this to say...maybe this year its time to BOYCOTT COMMERCIALIZED CHRISTMAS!!!! rebell against the system and JUST SAY NO TO BLACK FRIDAY!..ok, that may be a little dramatic. no but really, just remember this Christmas season as your shopping for the perfect gifts to hug a salesman and say thanks for their service.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

stand-in mommy

an opinionated/bossy 6 year old girl + a hyper/attention seeking 4 year old girl + 
a needy/throw-up covered 3 month old boy = one fun tuesday night!!!

phew...seriously, i applaud all the mothers out there!  parenting is no joke.  tonight i have the pleasure of being "stand-in mommy" for my sister's 3 crazy, i mean, lovely children.  after a busy day at the office, we completed the kiddie drop around 5:30, and the kids were mine.  (my parents, sister and brother-in-law drove to Cincy tonight for an Eagles concert...snore)

ryan and i took the kids to a nutritious dinner at steak-n-shake, and even managed to make it through the whole meal with no fighting, spills, or anything of that kind.  we did however get several dirty looks from some of our fellow steak-n-shakers.  i guess they just couldn't understand why two 23 year olds would have 3 kids already, but oh well!

after dinner, it was back out to my sister's house for baths, feeding sam, blowing drying hair, feeding sam, reading, feeding sam, unpacking lunch boxes, feeding baby sam, tucking kids in bed, feeding sam...rinse and repeat.  with one more feeding left, i think i can finally say that we have survived the night.  hopefully jenn will be back before sam wakes up for his middle of the night feeding because that may be more than i am ready to handle!!  seriously, parents rock.

of to play supper nanny.  night y'all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

blessing bags

today has thankfully not felt like a monday, and for that, i'm very glad. this weekend seemed to go way too fast and usually that means that the slowdown on monday is brutal, but fortunately, that's not the case today. i got to work this morning and was reminded that we would be helping hopeful hearts ( pack the remaining blessing bags to be sent to kids in afghanistan, so i was pretty pumped. HH is a great organization and is really to credit for my love of ukraine and it's children, and even my involvement with my job and work in afghanistan.

june of 2005, i went with HH to ukraine for the first time to work in the orphanages and my view of the world was totally rocked. to quote my eloquent husband, the trip "rocked my face off". i had traveled internationally before, but never for anything more than a vacation or an educational trip. for the first time in ukraine, i saw what true need and hunger looked like. not so much in the orphanages, although the need there is undeniable, but mostly in the street children. a boy, about 8 or 9, who smelled strongly of glue, begged our team for food while we stood in line at a cafe - that is a memory that i cannot get out of my head to this day... i came home a transformed person, and hope that i never forget what i saw.
anyways, after traveling twice with HH and seeing the impact they have in ukraine and elsewhere, HH is, needless to say, an amazing organization. they are now also involved with sending supplies for children at B.A. - the resettlement village for around 3000 returning refugees in northern kabul, afghanistan. they collected about 300 blessing bags, stuffed with school supplies, stuffed animals, candy, combs, winter hats and gloves, socks, etc. and filled about 450 others, just for the kids in afghanistan. (not to mention the 1000 other bags that were collected, stuffed, and shipped to orphanages in ukraine!!!) we went to help pack the additional bags and ship them off. although the items in the blessing bags are something that most american kids would turn their noses up to on Christmas morning, the bags will be more than well received by the B.A. kids, and were worth all the time, money and effort.
so, while i had a pretty busy day for a monday, it was all worth it! i am sooooo incredibly blessed to be doing things that i love so much as a part of my regular job. it really makes rolling out of bed at 6:45 every morning TOTALLY worth it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

exhibit hall junkie

(so, i think i'm coming down with a little cold or something. of all times, too! well, i guess there never really is a convenient time for a cold.)

this week, we (aka - the unspecified, non-profit organization i work for) have been exhibiting at the global missions health conference here in louisville and i seriously think that i am an undercover exhibit hall junkie!! i really love it! i like getting to talk to a variety of people from all different backgrounds and hearing about their work too. maybe i could become like a professional trade show person, and travel the country working various trade shows for people that don't like to work their own booths. hmmmm...maybe there's a future for me :) well, that may not be real conducive to have a family so that plan might have to go on the back burning until my kids are in college.

anyways, i have really enjoyed the conference so far. it's much larger than i was thinking it was going be and it is full of amazing speakers, organizations, etc. i feel really blessed to be a part of such an amazing industry that is dedicated to doing God's work for people throughout the world!

so, my plans for the rest of the weekend are:
-dinner with my grandparents who are up from chattanooga, tn
-bowling and bonfire with church folks tonight ( permitting
-cleaning the house
-work the conference again tomorrow
-maybe going to the rodeo on saturday night
-skipping church sunday morning for a service with my family where we are sprinkling my uncles ashes (not sure about this one yet. i've never had such an experience and am admittedly, a little freaked out...)
-having a lazy sunday afternoon around the house so i can caught up on all my tv shows i've 'dvr'ed

Have a great one!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


so yesterday, i met with a true visionary. i am so fortunate to have a job, church, family, friends, etc. that are all amazing and pour into me spiritually, and yesterday was no exception. i got to meet with david weston, a man truly after Christ's own heart. he was in town to speak at perspectives ( at SECC, and has been working in central asia and other places for over 17 years. we were meeting with him to discuss some of the projects we have been working on in afghanistan, and specifically our work in B.A., which is our returning refugee community.

it was so inspiring to talk to someone that lives a life of reckless abandonment for Christ. hearing his story about being ran out of towns (literally - by foot...running) in northern afghanistan because of his faith, shook me up. it really made me think, what am i really sacrificing for the furtherance of the gospel? i live in a comfort house, a quiet neighborhood, speak the same language as everyone around me, can pick-up food at a local grocery store, drive to work (even though it's less than 2 miles), etc. it made me really sit back and wonder, what will i have to show for my life when it's over???

now don't get me wrong...i understand that it is not by works but by faith that i have been saved, but still, come on people, let's get something done while we're here!! i don't know what specifically God is going to call me to do and what corner of the world it will be in, but i just don't want to miss it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

home sweet home

so i took a hiatus from blogging, mostly because i wasn't feeling too inspired. not that i'm feeling too inspired right now, but here i am, ready to face the world of blogging again...

most of my time currently has been spent trying to get the rest of our house pulled together. for those of you who are just tuning in or don't already know, we have been in moving/remodeling mode since moving back to louisville in may. actually, we have officially been residing at the beloved 2107 for 6 MONTHS today!! it feels like a lifetime...but i guess for me, it has been :) people always ask me if it feels weird to now own the house i grew up in, but it honestly just doesn't. it feels pretty natural. i just wonder what will happen when we have a housefull of kids (yes folks, i said it...i WANT A HOUSEFULL OF KIDS someday!!). ryan seems to think that we are going to live there until we die, but i know deep down that he'll change his mind when we've got kids and dogs spilling out of every nook & cranny. he'll be singing a different tune then and happily putting a "for sale" sign in the yard.

anyways, the kitchen is complete, minus our new window treatments that we are still waiting on, and figuring out something to do with our kitchen table. our current table is pub height and it's time for it to go!! eventually, we would like to move the kitchen light fixture and put in a booth table but that's gonna have to wait for awhile as the kitchen fund has run dry. we are also almost completely done with the office except for hanging a few pictures and last minute beautifying. unfortunately, after all we have accomplished in the last 6 months, we still have about 10 boxes of junk to unpack! i cannot figure out what could possibly be left in boxes, but apparently there is more. bummer. at least i know what i'll be doing over the next few weeks as ryan starts working crazy holiday hours...

here's a few pics of our remodeling journey:

(before - aka: dark and creepy)

(demo day 1)

(soon to be new/smaller office)

(a clean slate)

(a seriously exciting day!! new cabinets, floor and paint...almost there)

new pics to come...whenever my lazy self actually downloads them from the camera :)

cheers y'all~

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

it ain't over, til its over!

so, thanks for all your prayers yesterday! i was beyond distressed thinking about baby sam going back to his birth mother so quickly and needless to say, i'm ecstatic because we still have him for the time being!! yesterday, my sister, brother-in-law, mom and baby sam all drove to lexington for the custody hearing, which turns out was delayed until next monday. the louisville cps agent and the birth mother both neglected to pass this info on to my sister (a little frustrating considering my sister had even talked to the birth mom that morning on her way to lexington and she "forgot" to mention the delay).

come to find out, the custody hearing was pushed back because baby sam has been appointed his own attorney/guardian ad litem, to fight for his rights and best interests, and he could not make the hearing until next monday. anyways, my sister was a little bummed about making the wasted trip but it was worth it to hold on to sam for a few more days. after talking to the cps agent in lexington and to the guardian ad litem, she has more hope the sam may be sticking around for awhile. God is soooo good and His plans are much better than we could ever imagine!! we were so concerned with losing sam yesterday, and yet He provided us more time to spend with him!! i was having a stinky day yesterday thinking about everything, so that was a HUGE lift to my spirits :)

the good news couldn't have come at a better time either because we had our last connect: afghanistan prayer meeting last night and i didn't want to be all down in the dumps for that. we had a pretty good turn out at the meeting and more than enough food to go around. i don't think anyone really cared that we had to switch our traditional afghan menu for some papa johns, so that was a major relief! anyways, i can't believe connect: afghanistan is over! i feel like a lot of my time has gone into those meetings over the last few months so i guess i need to find a new project to work on!

well, that's really all i've got going on in my life right now. i'll try to update with something more interesting when i get the chance!


ps- i'm loving the more fall-like weather that we're experiencing and i hope it will hang around for awhile.

Monday, September 8, 2008

prayer needed!!!

i just wanted to drop a quick note asking for prayer today as my sister and her husband have the custody hearing for baby sam. they have had temporary custody of him since he was born a little over 3 weeks ago. his mom has recently expressed interest in getting him back if cps allows. we knew this was a possibility all along but the reality of letting him go is much harder than we all imagined. although, we've only known him for 3 weeks, he's already left a huge impression on all of us and is a part of our family. i spent quite a bit of time with him and would love to be able to continue watching him grow up and change, especially in a healthy and loving environment!!!! its hard not to love him already!

my prayer is that if his mom does get custody back that she will really be ready to embrace the changes that are necessary to raise him properly and that he will not have to go through the things that his older brother has had to endure. if she's not ready to make these changes, i pray that he will not have to go back to her, now or ever...

please pray for Jennifer and Jason specifically, and even for their daughters Mikayla and Mikenna as they are going to take this very hard. the hearings at 1:30 today, so i'll keep you posted.


Monday, September 1, 2008


with this long weekend has come an exciting opportunity for me: staying in the house and becoming a hermit!! seriously, i have not left the house in over 27 hours and that makes me feel like a hermit. what in the world?? i guess after a summer of being on the go, i just need some down time! it seems like life has just gotten away from me since moving home and i've lost a great sense of privacy. when ryan and i were living in nicholasville, we would always go to lexington to hang out with friends or would mostly go home to visit family. our house was like our little haven away from everything. now, our house seems to be a revolving door: ryan bringing friends over on lunch, family stopping by from time to time, friends are coming and going, people working on the house, etc. needless to say, i feel like i don't have much time to myself anymore! i'm not saying that is a bad thing necessarily, but it is something that takes some getting used to...

anyways, since i have the opportunity, i decided to come home from lunch yesterday after church and stay awhile in our humble abode. yesterday, i was quite unproductive. i mostly caught up on all my missed episodes of project runway and big brother, but today on the other hand, i've scrubbed sinks, put away mountains of laundry and unloaded/reloaded the dishwasher plenty of times. i'm feeling pretty good about my personal retreat/hermitage weekend :) hope you all enjoyed some relaxing down time this weekend too!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

family ties

as most of you already know, my uncle passed away on monday night while in the palliative care unit of baptist east hospital. thankful, sunday night, after everyone else had left the hospital for the night, ryan and i got a whim to go back up there and spend some more time with him. he was very peaceful and seemed to be getting some quality rest after a busy day of visitors coming in and out. we just sat quietly with him and held his hands until about 11:30. we both knew that he was going to pass away sooner or later, but i guess we just didn't guess that it would be so soon. my aunt susan, cousin amber and grandparents were there with him when he left for heaven, so i was glad to know that he wasn't alone. we had a service for uncle chuck last night in crestwood, where he's lived for as long as i can remember, and it was nice to see everyone who came out and said goodbye. uncle chuck had no kids of his own so in some ways, he was like a second dad to me. we spent a lot of time together when i was younger and it makes me wish we had more time to spend together now.

it has been a really tough week for my family, but it makes me appreciate how tightly knit we are. situations like these also solidify in my mind that come hell or high water, my family will see me through anything.

Monday, August 25, 2008

choas strikes

so by now i hope that you've figured out that i've made it home safely! unfortunately, since i arrived on friday, i honestly haven't had a moment to even think about updating... our travels home went smoothly and all the flights were pretty pleasant. i was even able to sleep a great deal of the time during our 15 hour flight thanks to jody's advil p.m. :)

when i arrived home, i was pleasantly surprised to see ryan waiting for me at the airport. i was expecting him to be working but he was able to convince his boss to let him leave to pick me up. sadly enough, that was really where the pleasantries ended! from the airport, we went straight to the hospital to see my uncle chuck (my dad's brother), who has been losing a fierce battle to lung cancer for the last 9 months. after talking to my family via skype from afghanistan, i knew that he was in the hospital but i really had no idea the extent of his stay. once i arrived at the hospital, my parents and ryan sat me down and discussed his prognosis and what to expect. needless to say, it wasn't good. he hasn't really been conscious or even opened his eyes in nearly 6 days now. since he has a living will that says he does not want life support, we are basically just waiting out the inevitable at this point. it is a really hard time for my family, who have come from all over the south to be together, but we know where he is going is much better than here!! it seems like this has really hit us all hard but especially my dad and papaw. please pray for them to have peace with the decisions they are having to make and for my papaw's alzheimer's to calm down so he can fully understand the reality of the situation.

in other family sister and her husband jason are getting a new addition today!!! they are taking at least temporary (but hopefully some day full) custody of jason's cousin's baby, little samuel. unfortunately, jason's cousin cannot take care of the precious boy right now and so they are opening up their home and family to him. born last week, at a little over 5 lbs., he is adorable!!! he's been in the NICU at UK hospital undergoing de-tox and treatment but the doctors believe he is now healthy enough to come home. i know this is going to be an emotional rollercoaster for my family, especially because we all love kids so much, but its good to know that God has truly orchestrated for little samuel to be with us right now. we will cherish him and love him for as long as we can!! there is a custody hearing on september 3rd but we have no reason to believe that he will be turned over to his birth mother at that time. if you could pray for protection for samuel and his best interest, as well as clear minds for my family, i would really appreciate it.

well enough drama for one entry! here are some of my favorite pics from the trip, enjoy!!

(water pouring from the deep well we dug in B.A. Community)

(my sweet new friends...the older girl even gave me a kiss on the cheek when i left)

(more kids from B.A. & their new school in the background!!)

(view from the clinic in I. Community)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

bags are packed :(

well, i guess it's already time for this trip to come to an end! it seems much shorter than what i was thinking... my bags are all packed up and i guess i have no choice but to head home. saying that i have really enjoyed my time here is an understatement. i have loved everything about this experience and would gladly come back!

there are so many images that i will store in my mind from this beautiful country forever. i especially loved finally getting to see I. Community yesterday. the views from the village are breathtaking and it was so encouraging to see how successful we have been with our clinic and our CDE (community development education) program there. i got to travel there with one of our CDE trainers and a doctor, both who are afghan ladies on our staff, and i enjoyed their company and getting to know them better. i was actually surprised when the doctor began asking me questions about prayer and "my book" (aka - the Bible). i got to share a little bit with her about my beliefs in a non-threatening way, and i know that was definitely a God appointment. please be praying for her and that God would use some of the things we discussed to make her more curious about Him!!!

this morning, we woke for our last breakfast in the guesthouse and it kinda made me sad. this place is almost surreal in many ways so i'm not sure i'm ready to return to reality yet...or take the 15 hour flight back from dubai to atlanta :( i didn't take nearly as many pictures as i would have liked to but i hope to post some when i get home. i'm not sure if i'll have internet this time around in dubai but we will see! please pray that our flight goes well and that we all make it safely to our destinations...



hi there,

sorry i've haven't been updating every day as planned! i must confess that over the last 3 days, i've found myself with my nose stuck in a book at every free moment possible. on the way over to afghanistan, i was bound and determined to finish the last 50 pages or so of Three Cups of Tea, which i did on the flight to atlanta. after finishing that, i thought for sure that i would pick up A Thousand Splendid Suns, which Joyce (my mother-in-law) gave me to read on the long flight over but i didn't find the motivation...that is, until 2 days ago. i started reading it on sunday, and on monday night, i stayed up until it was finished!!! i loved it and would definitely recommend it :) it was so funny how much more of the culture i understood after having been to afghanistan than i did when i read The Kite Runner. i also didn't realize how much i have really missed reading. i guess i was a little burnt out after college so i took a little hiatus, but it's all over now!..anyways, enough about my nerdish habits and on to my trip:

so, i have been keeping busy during the days around here too (when not reading). on monday, because of the national holiday - afghanistan's independence from the british in 1919 - we were sequestered to the guesthouse for most of the day. since we were staying in, we figured that it would be the perfect time for our staff planning meeting with the american and afghan staff. we met from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and then again from 2:00 to 4:30 which made for a long day. Things did however seem to move along quickly and were very productive. i think everyone was pleased with the outcome and the meeting reminded me of what an amazing organization that i am blessed to be a part of!! it's so awesome to see how God has truly pulled 2 completely different cultures and countries together, yet we're united with a mostly common purpose :)

yesterday, i went with the polish team and bob to S.D. community. we were able to see the clinics that we run in 2 different villages. the staffs at the clinics were very professional and seemed passionate about their work. there were many women in burqas holding sick babies waiting in the lobbies to be seen and i was glad to see that they actually had somewhere to go. it was encouraging to see what B.A. community has to look forward to when we are able to complete the clinic there this fall (hopefully)! we also went into one of the schools and were able to observe and introduce ourselves to some of the classes. knowing what the taliban did to discredit the education of girls in afghanistan, i was soooo happy to see the girls in the classrooms being attentive and hungry to learn. i never thought i would value my education as much as i do now knowing what a gift it really is...

last night we were supposed to have some guests from the ISAF (international security assistance force) over for dinner. unfortunately, on their way to our guesthouse, they realized that we are not in the "green zone" (aka - where it's safe for them to travel) so they had to turn back and return to the base. while it was a little disheartening that they couldn't join us for dinner, it was even a little more disheartening to realize that we must be in the "red zone"!! oh well, i still slept good last night :)

anyways, i think that's all i can write for now! i'm sleepy and my new book (finding faith by denise hunter - which i found in our guesthouse library) is calling my name. i'll try to update later tonight if i don't get drawn into another serious match of phase 10!

love y'all~

Sunday, August 17, 2008

long overdue

sorry, i meant to update again yesterday before bed with the happenings but wasn't really feeling like being tied to the computer last night. i apologize in advanced for the length of this entry!!!

well, i was supposed to go to I. Community yesterday but didn't end up getting to go because there were no other females on the staff available to escort me. according to islam/afghan culture, it would not have been proper for 1 woman to travel alone with a group of men. needless to say, i was pretty bummed that i missed out because i was excited but it was a good opportunity for me to see the B.A. Community Committee Training instead. it is truly amazing to see how the elders of the community want so badly to help themselves and their village. they were so involved and interacted well with jody and our other trainers. they thought of ideas, like chicken farming, and such, that our western minds hadn't even considered for them. everyone has gotten the impression that they really understand that we aren't just here for relief work, but want to help them help themselves develop the community into what they want it to be so that one day we can back out. i love that this trip is really pulling together so many pieces for me about our work and it is so encouraging to see what we talk so much about playing out in real life!!

after the Committee Training (and an afternoon nap, of course), we went to the most amazing restaraunt - Lai Tai. i had the best tai food that i've ever had! it was fun to get out and really see the city because until then, i was mostly sequestered to the guesthouse. when i spoke with ryan on skype, he asked me if i felt safe here or if i had been scared at all. my answer was that i feel completely safe here, UNTIL...i get in the car! the driving here is the craziest, i repeat, craziest thing that i've ever seen! they don't drive on any specific side of the road and honk at each other constantly. it's really funny to watch but i find myself constantly pressing on my invisible break :) after dinner, we came back to the guesthouse and caught up on a little bit of the olympics. i really enjoyed watching them before i left so this was a treat!

however, today was by far my favorite day of the trip yet! after breakfast, we loaded up in the suvs and head out to B.A.!!! i have been imagining visiting this place in my mind and what it would really look like for so long. i have heard stories, seen pictures and prayed for this community many times. the ride out there was fun as we had all our staff team in one car so we could pray, chat and catch up about the specifics of the projects. because tomorrow is a national holiday, security was very tight on our drive out. B.A. is about an hour or so drive from kabul so we were stopped many times by the newly trained afghan police forces, which was actually nice to see. after getting around many traffic jams,wrong turns, and road blocks, we finally drove up on the desert community. i was impressed by the size of the community - around 2,000 acres of land, which was much bigger than i had in my mind. we first met with the MORR (Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) about the water system that we have begun to put in place.

(new B.A. clinic - under construction)

**quick sidebar -- B.A. Community is the community that we are working with that consists of around 3000 refugees. these people were relocated by the afghan government to a plot of land in the desert with absolutely no resources - including water, food or jobs. our organization has been working with them for several years trying to provide relief with an eye towards full development. we have dug a deep well that will eventually provide water to all the community, and are in the process of finishing the first official school and clinic for the community.**

ok, now where was i...after visiting the well and the future resevoir, we got to go into the community and interact with some of the people, including the children (which is my favorite part of course!!). the kids were so cute but very mischevious. they wanted picture after picture taken of themselves and were hungry for any attention anyone would give them. some of the children followed us everywhere we went - the well, the resevoir, the clinic and the school, even though we drove from place to place. the boys played very roughly with each other, wrestling on piles on gravel and such, just to gain a second look from us. at one point, we were in front of the clinic and heard lots of splashing. we walked towards the back of the building only to see several of the boys belly flopping into the pool of water used for the construction of the clinic. it was quite a sight to see the boys swimming in the middle of the desert, in a place where they could absolutely not have survived without the precious gift of water.

we wrapped up the afternoon and headed back to the guesthouse for lunch and another nap! after hanging around the house and dinner, we got the opportunity to go to Camp Eggers, the Coalition Forces base here in kabul for their sunday evening worship service. it was nice to walk onto the base, show my U.S. passport and shed my chadar (head covering) for a few hours. the preacher shared a great message on evangelism and it seemed like many of the troops were encouraged by the message and the worship time. after the service, we went to the "green bean" which is a coffee shop on the base for a little bit of fellowship. as we left, our escort told us that everyone on the base is on particularly high alert tonight and was instructed to have their armored gear with them throughout the night. tomorrow is one of the afghan independence days so they are preparing for any efforts by the enemy to rain on the parade of the afghan people by conducting attacks. because of the security risks while traveling around the city, tomorrow we will stay at the guesthouse all day for our safety.

please be in prayer that our armed forces and the afghan police would be safe throughout tonight and tomorrow. please pray that the efforts of the enemy would fail and that the afghans will be able to enjoy their holiday in peace. also, please pray that by the whole team spending the day at the guesthouse tomorrow that we will be able to minister to our afghan staff and encourage them in some way.

well, it's nearly 10:30 p.m. here now, so i'm off to bed. good night and thanks always for your prayers!

Friday, August 15, 2008

good morning, sunshine!

good morning!

i made it through my first night in kabul and was actually able to get some sleep. i woke up around 5:00 a.m. - afghanistan time this morning and just laid in bed and enjoyed the fan blowing on me. we don't have electricity at night so it was super hot but i was very glad when it clicked back on this morning. anyways, i'm off to I. community today with the polish guys. bob and jody are going to stay here for the last day of B.A. community Committee Training, while i get to enjoy the sights :)

i'll post some more details later when i get back.

safe and sound

hey y'all!

i'm in kabul FINALLY and glad to be here!!! i didn't sleep real well last night because of the jet lag/time change so i ended up being up long before my morning wake up call at 3:30 a.m. - dubai time. having a room and a nice bed all to myself last night was such a blessing after being crammed with strangers for so long on the plane to dubai.

this morning, i met bob and 6 men from the polish team in order to prepare for our long trek to kabul. we transferred by bus to terminal 2 of the airport and got on our flight to kabul. the flight was packed, but surprisingly, mostly with american men doing contract work in kabul. we made it without a hitch! i even had my first cultural experience of the gender roles in afghanistan when i got instructed to go to the "business class" line of passport control because i was a woman, leaving my fellow male travelers to wait in the other long lines :) all in all, it was a very good trip and i'm thankful that we all made it.

the mountains here are breathtaking and i am really looking forward to getting out and about more in the next few days so i can see all the sights! today is friday, which is the muslim equivalent to the sabbath so we do not have much planned, except to hang around the house and catch up on rest. we left the airport and came straight to the guesthouse. it is very pleasant and homey feeling already and our staff is everything that i've heard from other people...very welcoming and great hosts, and i feel very safe at the guesthouse. we had lunch at the guesthouse and then spent some time talking about what we'll be doing over the next week. we will probably not be out in the actual city of kabul too much because of some ongoing security threats but i am really looking forward to visiting all the communities that we work in and getting to see them with my own eyes!

please be praying that our team can minister and bless our afghan staff while we are here. they've worked so hard making preparations for us and we really want to show them Christ's love in our actions and attitudes.

well folks, that all i've got for now. i hope to update tomorrow after a visit to our I. Community.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

dubai at last!!

well folks, i've successfully made through the first part of my journey! i arrived in dubai about an hour ago and am ready for bed! it's a little after 1:00 p.m. at home, but here it's after 10:00 p.m. i've got to get up to catch my 7:30 a.m. flight to kabul in the morning in about 5.5 hours so this is going to be short. i just want you all to know that i've made it and am all in one piece as far as i can tell! anyways, for your amusement, here are a couple of highlights from my journey so far...

-i cried like a baby in the louisville airport saying goodbye to ryan, to the point where the man in the security line behind me asked if i was going off to the military...thankfully i told him "no, i'm just an emotional basket-case"
-mad props to my bladder!! only had to make 4 bathroom breaks during the whole 14 hour flight, and that's really good for me :)
-man snoring so loudly that people were request ear plugs sat just 2 seats away to my right so sleep was difficult
-successfully achieved level 10 on the bejeweled game on the plane's entertainment system - an all time high for me that i'm very proud of!
-got a little turned around in the dubai airport alone but finally made my way to the hotel after a little culture shock from all the different cultures/dress/etc.
-thank goodness for mcdonald's! had a little cheeseburger action once i arrived in dubai
-my hotel room is sweet, and even has a LG LCD tv...i'm guessing a 32", Ryan :)
-i was pumped to find that i could pick-up free wireless, i thought i wasn't gonna have it until kabul
-and now, bedtime!!

good night ladies and gentleman. hope things are going well at home and i'll update you when i can. please pray for safety as i take my first step on Afghan soil tomorrow...

much love~

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

anxious are we??

so at church on sunday ( our teaching was about being anxious and the different types of anxiety...1- the kind that can be beneficial for getting off your butt and doing what you're supposed to do; 2- the kind that can cripple you and cause you to take your eye off of God's Will for your life. anyone who knows me very well, knows that both types have played large roles in my life! i can remember being excessively fearful and anxious even when i was a child. i was never the daredevil type, even to the point where i never rode my bike without holding onto at least one handlebar. some of my friends have nicknamed me "safety-mom" as i can frequently be quoted as saying, "that's not safe!!" well all this to say, that leaving for afghanistan tomorrow is something that i never thought that i, being the "safety-mom" and all, would ever do...(and ryan either!!)

while a trip to afghanistan is far more dangerous than a hands-free bike ride, i can truly say that God has given me a peace and assured me that He has called me to go. the doors that opened to lead me down this path are too obviously the work of God's hand for me not to trust Him, even if my gut sometimes tells me otherwise.

anyways, i got to spend some quality time with my family sunday night at my parents' and then at the herde's last night, so now all i have left to do is finish up some final packing. i cannot wait to finally experience for myself all the smells, sights and sounds that i've heard and read so much about in the "land of diesel"!!

please be praying that i will have a safe and uneventful trip, especially as i will be traveling alone to dubai. i am not too excited about the 15 hour plane ride but hopefully delta will offer a nice variety of movies that i haven't already seen :) pray also for the other members of our staff that are traveling from sri lanka and the team that is traveling from poland. finally, please pray that everything i need will fit in my carry-on. i am not a light packer so this is quite a challenge for me, but i'm up for it! (i just hope i don't forget anything important: toothbrush - check, clean underwear - check, long-sleeved shirts, pants, long-skirts - check...)

i hope to keep everyone updated on my daily activities while there because we have wireless in the guesthouse, which is a luxury that i haven't even had at home since we moved back 3 months ago!

Monday, August 11, 2008

blogging: my dear, old friend...

well, hello blogging, my dear, old friend!

while it seems weird to throw all my thoughts and ramblings back out there for all the world to see, i feel that it is necessary and timely to begin a new blog. i had a blog on xanga for a while in college, mostly freshman/sophomore years (before i actually had to do any real school work). needless to say, i let my xanga go and moved on to bigger and better things. funny how things always come full circle and i find myself blogging again?!?

i always found blogging therapeutic and i guess i need some therapy in my life :) well, here goes nothing...