Sunday, December 26, 2010

A different kind of miracle.

I don’t recall ever crying on Christmas until this year. The closest I came was probably the year I turned 11 and my brother got a boom box and I got Christmas dishes. That was the same year I met Beth. It was my first rafting trip, the summer before I would enter middle school. A poorly timed practical joke pulled on our raft by Beth’s raft almost left Beth floating down a class 4 rapid, but I anchored her to the side of our boat and we made it to the side of the Rouge River before Blossom Bar.
Sorry these pictures look weird - the computer wouldn't let me put them in except in a bitmap format....the one on the left was taken in 1996 on a Cause beach trip (my sixth grade year) and the one on the right was taken in 2003 on the high school senior retreat.

When I entered the middle school youth group a few months later, Beth was there again. It’s always fun when you already have a history with the cool 23-year-old leader. To say that I was an annoying middle school student would be a drastic understatement. All middle schoolers are annoying. I was the disrupter, the entertainer, the kid who tried to make her friends laugh out loud during communion. Most of the leaders just watched me like a hawk to try and catch me before I became a distraction. Beth just shook her head and smiled THAT smile. She had a great smile.
You should have seen the van Beth drove back then. A boxy blue Astro van might not have been the coolest for a 23-year-old, but it was awesome for hauling us girls to Roth’s for doughnuts in between church services. For months, Beth paid for our doughnuts out of pocket, until we started taking up a collection. I’m pretty sure she still threw away a lot of money on maple bars and bear claws, but she was always happy to stuff us with sugar before we had to sit through Pastor Ron’s First Peter marathon back at church.
Beth turned 24 that next January. In April, when I turned 12, I proudly told Beth that she was twice my age. I was trying to impress her with my math skills, but she just laughed and never forgot the day I started making her feel old.
Every radioactive middle schooler like me needed someone like Beth in their life. Beth was easygoing, but I knew she cared. I wasn’t much for sentiments; reciprocating my love by stealing her floppy sailor hats and making up new variations of her last name: Bartruff. Despite my antics, she never gave up on me.
Funny thing is, even though I always thought I was Beth’s favorite middle schooler in the entire world, I bet there are hundreds of people who felt special in similar ways because of Beth. She made us feel significant – that our problems mattered. For a woman with so many trials of her own, Beth never belittled one of my struggles. She was gentle, and she taught me how to care about others.
I got older, and so did Beth. Eventually, I realized that she needed to be taken care of too. Her fragility only came out at night, when she’d remove her Birkenstocks to reveal swollen ankles, or open up her menagerie of pills to be consumed before bed. In my scrawnier years, I’d walk on her back (upon request), cracking it under my toes, or I’d rub her ankles, if only to provide momentary relief. In the end, I couldn’t fix her; not even with the Jamba Juice I brought her two weeks ago. She was craving Orange Dream Machine that day.
Through it all, Beth was a servant. Her sickness was her thorn in the flesh. Maybe that’s what kept her so humble. She just wanted to serve, and did so by my side on seven mission trips as I transformed from an immature high schooler into a semi-responsible staff member.
She taught me how to tactfully tell a student they needed to dress more appropriately. She taught me how to get people moving when showers were taking too long on mission trips. She taught me how it was ok to laugh at myself. On the day I got married, she was there taking pictures at the reception. I didn’t even have to ask.
I grieve the fact that my baby girl will never get to meet Bethers until Heaven someday, but she will know who Beth was and what she meant to me. Thank you, Beth, for never giving up on me, and helping God turn this loudmouthed middle school rebel into a pastor’s wife who loves her family and the Lord. Fourteen years ago, you stepped into my life, and you never stepped back out. Your physical heart might have failed you here on earth, but I know your true heart of service and unconditional love was strong, because it molded me into the woman I am today.
Happy Birthday Jesus. Your present this year is Beth. Take care of her, because she always took care of me. Tell her we miss her, but understand that miracles don’t always happen when we want them to. Beth’s work here is complete, but the true miracle she leaves behind is that myself and many others will continue on in the Lord’s work, better equipped because of her faithful service.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's not about me.

Have you ever seen someone in need of help you couldn't supply?
Yesterday, I was waiting for my checks to be cashed in the drive through at MaPS Credit Union when I saw a guy whose car had obviously died in a very inconvenient place. He was on a connector road, where no one seemed to be driving by, and to top it off, he was trying to push his car uphill into the closest parking lot. He was trying to steer his car and push at the same time, which was not going well. A few cars drove by, ignoring the obvious need.
I felt almost as helpless. There I months pregnant and entirely incapable of pushing a car up a hill...nevermind the fact that I was alone, and helping a random guy by myself probably wouldn't be the smartest idea. But still...I felt like I was the only one who really noticed this 30-year-old frumpy looking guy straining to push his beat up car. Every time a car would pass, he seemed to expect some kind of help, but the people just kept driving by.
Sometimes you just have to pray that someone else will provide help that you can't. A couple of cars pulled into the parking lot in front of me, and every time one drove in, I prayed they would stop to help the poor guy. Finally, after three cars and my growing disapointment in people, a van pulled up and into a spot and out jumped a mom and four teenagers. I was so blessed by them, I almost cried. The jogged down, and had the car up the hill and into the parking lot in a matter of seconds. By the time I got my deposit slip, the family was back on the road again, and the guy was in a much safer place.
I'm very thankful today...thankful that if I'm unusable in a certain situation, God finds another way. Sometimes it's even more of a blessing to watch others doing God's work. Because it's not all about me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great American traditions

Domestic I am not, but occasionally I try my hand at something my mom always made look easy. First it was caramel corn (which is still NOT easy) and last week, it was apple pie. Getting my husband to eat fruit is a chore in itself, but he ate as much of this pie as possible, with some help from me, Lauren, Heather and Angela. That's what I call success!! This is our first Christmas as homeowners, so we got to tackle the job of putting up Christmas lights ("we" meaning Bryan)! We discovered that icicle lights are extremely expensive, and lucked out to inherit some from Bryan's parents. With a two story house and no ladder, Bryan had to get creative to hang the lights (climbing out our bedroom window). Needless to say, I just took pictures from the ground because I was not getting up on that slippery roof!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In the Christmas Spirit

It's Christmastime in our house! Lauren got to decorate her first Christmas tree this year!
This is her being sad that the tree is naked. And the fun begins! One of her favorite ornaments.... Macie proudly presents the finished product! We decorated on Saturday night, and then on Monday we got a surprise Christmas present at our door! A big box with this inside! Well Bryan had to put it together, but in the end, we have a brand new glider rocker, thanks to my boss, Martha! We are so excited to use our new rocker!! We are so blessed by generous people surrounding us! Thank you!
By the way, here's the latest ultrasound on Nov. 9....the two floating blobs above her are her hands. And she was swallowing, but you can't tell.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blazer fever

Last Saturday, Bryan and I got to go to a Blazer game with some college students from church. We had a great time wandering around Portland (despite the freezing cold temps) and just enjoying a night out together. Our baby's first game! Can you see the baby bump?? 99 days to go!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

Years ago, as a faithful AWANA participant, I would take much pride in compiling a shoebox full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child, and this year I am once again blessed to do so. Our church is sending boxes to Samaritan's Purse, so a couple of the high school girls and I went out last wednesday to do our shopping and wrapping. Our host daughter, Lauren (on the left), and Lois wrapping their shoeboxes - which by the way is really difficult to do when you have to wrap the lids separately!!I bought this Santa hat for my OCC girl, and I'm going to send the picture of me wearing it with the box.Sidenote: below is me at 24 weeks (6 months!). Since this picture (taken three days ago), I feel like I've grown a ton, but I've promised myself to limit the number of belly pictures on here because they can be quite redundant.

I did reach a milestone on Saturday, though. A woman I didn't know asked me if I was expecting...and that's a first, so that means I'm showing now, I guess!

Things that are now uncomfortable to do:

- tie my shoes

- put on socks

- fill up Macie's food

- sleep

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back from Afghanistan!

It is a happy day when a soldier returns to safety, especially when that soldier is your best friend's husband! Ben is officially done with his tour in Afghanistan, and I was lucky to go to his demobilization ceremony this past Friday to see him for the first time! After all of the big wigs thanked his unit for their year-long deployment, he finally came into the crowd to say hello. Below, he is obviously saying hi to Alicia first.
A long-awaited reunion picture.His medals he was awarded in Afghanistan.Saying hi to friends... and his mom.
Talking with his superiors.Unfortunately, Ben could only stay home for the weekend, then had to go back up to Ft. Lewis in Washington on Sunday. He has to stay there to supervise the wounded soldiers in his unit, until they get transferred. No one is sure how long this will take, but we are praying for Ben and Alicia and their families, that they will make it through this extended transition time as smoothly as possible!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A date with a pumpkin

Time with our friends is a premium, as we normally spend time with the younger folk. Last weekend, we did get the opportunity to spend some Q-T with the Salem friends, inviting them over to have dinner and carve pumpkins at our humble abode.
I found a sweet idea online for Halloween tortilla chips, so Alicia and I tried it out. After scouring Corvallis for Halloween cookie cutters, we took them to our corn tortillas.
Me deep frying the bats...
Sizzling pumpkins!
And the finished product! Yummy chips that were gone very quickly!
After dinner, we dove into pumpkin goo....well most of us did. The boys did most of the carving, since Mal and Kari were busy nursing babies. Alicia and I did carve pumpkins too. We missed having Ben (Alicia's husband who is in Afghanistan) there with us for this tradition, but we look forward to his return very soon!!!
Alicia and month-old Eden. The finished product. From left to right, these are the artwork of Alicia, Bryan and Kyle. Next, Isla's pumpkin (also carved by Kyle), mine and Josh's. All of them together.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Half-way done, believe it or not!

Today I hit 20 weeks of pregnancy! I also decided it was time to take a belly shot, but I have to admit, they are pretty pathetic (see below). I think this one shows how much wider I am getting, but it's not much, I will admit. I am definitely feeling it though!
For everyone who needs more proof that I really am pregnant, here's the latest ultrasound...
The technician thought it was a girl, but she was moving around so much that we had a hard time getting a really good look. For now, we are going with girl and my mother in law has already been out shopping! Oh boy, so it begins! Please be praying for our little one, as the ultrasound (taken 10-6-10) showed some small white spots of calcification on the heart and lungs, which could mean many things, but we will check up on her again next month. God is in control, and there's nothing we can do but trust in Him. Sidenote: this baby is very active. Yesterday it took three nurses and our OB about half an hour just to get her heartrate because she moves around so much! I can see her rolling around in my stomach, and Bryan has gotten to feel her move too! The only bad part is I never get any sleep!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Playing house.

June 23 was a big day for us. Ironically, it was my cousin Blake's birthday, but that was the last thing on our minds. I had spent the day racing around, finishing shopping for the Arizona Mission Trip and taking Macie up to Salem to stay at my aunt and uncle's house while we were gone in AZ. Driving back to Corvallis from Salem (around 3:00 pm) I got a call from our mortgage broker that we were supposed to sign for our house today! So I called the title company, and they said if we could get there (Salem) before 5 pm, we could finish up the whole house-buying fiasco we'd been mired in for the past few months. I raced back to Corvallis, picked up Bryan, raced back to Salem, stopped at MaPS to get a cashier's check (which we were JUST informed that we would need) and then drove downtown to Ticor Title. By 5:45 we were house owners! Living room. apparently Macie likes to be in the pictures. I did not plan this.Kitchen/dining room/ stairs to upstairs on the right.With little time to celebrate, we headed back to Corvallis, to load up the vans before the 7 pm AZ prayer meeting that night. After the prayer meeting, we got home and did some last minute packing, and headed to bed. With Bryan already half-asleep, I decided to take a pregnancy test just in case....because I didn't want to worry about whether or not I was pregnant over the next week and a half. Turns out, I was pregnant! My friend Kim and her family gave us our first baby present last week when they were visiting from Cali. It's kinda weird opening clothes for MY baby, but I have to admit they are pretty cute.