The past 2 months have been filled with an extraordinary amount of life.
Here’s a picture blog of my life since October:
In October, Mike and I got to fly to Oregon to visit my sister, her husband, my niece and nephews, and my aunts and uncles.
My Oregon family. I miss them so much!
Mike and I rarely go on extended trips alone together. On this day, we drove along Highway 1 on the Oregon Coast. It was so beautiful. We were the only one’s in the restaurant because a huge storm was forecast. We spent 2 hours in this restaurant, watching sea otters and dolphins swim by the window. Great memories.
After Oregon, I traveled to Fort Jackson, South Carolina with my daughters Tiffany and Lillia. We got to see Tiffany’s husband, Thomas, graduate from Basic Training with the National Guard. Congratulations, Thomas!
Later in October, we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch with the grandkids, Alonzo and Celine. Because of the drought, there wasn’t much of a corn maze. 😦
Trunk or Treating with friends at different churches in Knoxville
November found me busy with friends organizing a refugee baby shower. Here are some of the donated items we delivered to a few different families.
It’s an impossibility to visit an Iraqi friend without being overwhelmed by their hospitality.
I got to meet this cute little bundle on the day she was born. Angel was born on November 7, only 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital via ambulance!
Here is baby Angel with the rest of her family and my daughter, Scarlet. I am overjoyed that this new little baby will never know life inside of a refugee camp. These friends of mine are no longer refugees, so we don’t refer to them as refugees. They are Congolese friends starting a new, abundant life in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Life still goes on at home even amidst the busyness of refugee ministry. Here, Mike is painting our basement. It previously had dark wood paneling. Even with the windows to bring in natural light, we wanted our basement to have a more updated look.
A bright basement with the warm light of the morning sunshine greeted me the day after we finished painting. Even from the top of the stairs, it looks much brighter.
When Isaac needs a haircut, we ask my oldest son, Andrew. Being in the Navy for 4 years and now in the National Guard Reserves, he’s had tons of experience in giving buzz cuts. My 82-year-old great Uncle Bill was watching and decided he wanted to get buzzed, too!
Here’s Uncle Bill getting a military buzz cut! His hair was so thin on the top beforehand. The few long wisps of hair would not stay put when he left the house, so he said he was taking the plunge and cutting it all off.
I was honored to be able to witness the birth of this sweet Iraqi baby girl on December 1. It was an amazing scene with 2 Iraqi moms and another American friend helping the mother during labor and delivery. This little girl is an American citizen. She will never know the fear of living in a war zone. Praise the Lord for new life!
Merry Christmas! It’s already time to decorate the house and put up Christmas lights outside. We’re busy with baking Christmas cookies, wrapping presents and attending Christmas concerts at the girls’ schools.
Another birth! This Iraqi baby was born December 13 via c-section. I considered it a privilege to accompany the mother to her doctor appointments throughout the past few months. I was able to see on the ultrasound how this little girl was growing. On several occasions while arriving at the office, the nurses mistook me for being the mother’s interpreter. They finally figured out I don’t speak Arabic and so stopped asking me to interpret! We used a phone interpreter service to be able to communicate with the doctor. Even though the mother is not fluent in English, she knows enough to have basic conversations with me. And I’ve learned a few Arabic words as well. Still, I have learned a universal truth: Friendship is possible even when words are absent.
I love my church family. The welcoming spirit. Our doors are open to you. All colors, countries, income brackets, those unsure of their faith or sexuality. We live and grow and learn together. As Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second commandment is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) This is what I am trying- in my humanness- to live out day by day.