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After modifying my outgoing flight the other night my tickets for Thailand are settled! Once or twice a day I read over the whole thing and smile like a very silly girl.

Wednesday, February 4th
Depart Phoenix Sky Harbor at 6PM
Arrive in San Francisco 7:10PM

[ lug suitcase, two carryons and wheelchair up to international terminal ]

Thursday, February 5th
Depart San Francisco at 12:15AM
Arrive in Taipei, Taiwan at 6:05AM (Feb 6th)

Friday, February 6th
Depart Taipei at 8:50AM
Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand at 1:25PM
Depart Bangkok 5:15PM
Arrive in Chiang Mai at 6:25PM

[ experience Thailand, fall in love with many people, show God’s love for the disabled, try not to injure myself ]

Friday, February 20th
Depart Hat Yai at 10:25AM
Arrive in Bangkok at 11:55AM
Depart Bangkok at 2:45PM
Arrive in Taipei at 9:25PM
Depart Taipei at 11:25PM
Arrive in San Francisco at 6:10PM

[ be retrieved by dear Palo Alto aunt & uncle, crash at their home, and then be deposited back at San Francisco airport the next morning ]

Saturday, February 21st
Depart San Fransisco at 11AM
Arrive in Phoenix at 2:00PM

[ talk poor Mum’s ear off all the way home ]

I can’t wait!

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As you know, I’m pretty involved with Joni and Friends International ministries. I’ve volunteered at seven of their Family Retreats, gone on one Wheels for the World trip with them, and will be going on two more this spring, as well as volunteering at at least two Family Retreats this summer. I’m also a member of their Chair Corp, collecting wheelchairs to be taken on Wheels for the World trips.

Joni has a radio show, Joni and Friends Radio, and this week is Heart for the Disabled Week. The premise is to do a segment on a different family each day, and for listeners to write a note of encouragement, ect to be sent in to Joni and Friends who will then get it to the chosen family for Valentines Day. Yesterdays segment was on a wonderful lady I know from Mission Springs, Sherri Hollabaugh, a 60 year old grandma of three young boys, all with varying special needs. She is incredible! I strongly encourage you to go and listen to that segment (http://www.joniandfriendsradio.org/listen-now/2009/1/13/heart-disabled-sherri-hollabaugh/)

Well todays segment was on my family. (Or part of us. There are actually twelve kids, but only  ten of us were at Retreat when we were interviewed.) The segment is incredibly touching and we feel so blessed that we were chosen for this. You can listen here. It is my hope that maybe this little story might encourage someone, or maybe a few people to consider special needs adoption. It is such an incredible blessing in our lives!

Please listen in the rest of the week and consider blessing these other families who are talked about this week, with a kind note or Bible verse. Maybe make it a project for the kids? I promise you that it will bless these families beyond anything you can imagine!

Also, if you have google reader, consider adding her to your subscriptions. I usually listen to her little 4-5 minute clips each morning as I’m getting ready for the day. They are always very encouraging!

Bubbles or underwear?

My suitcase is now officially overweight, and I haven’t even packed my undies yet. Now is the time to start panicking.

1-9-2009

Things finally seem to be worked out with my college. I had been put on suspension from Financial Aid because of dropping out last semester, but they accepted my appeal so I’m set for next week. My schedule has change so many times! But I think I’m finally set for my classes. I’ll be taking English 291: Creative Writing, History 122: History of the US from 1865, Physchology 238: Human Development, and lastly, Speech 110: Speech Communication. The good thing is the Speech class is accelerated so it won’t start till March. That will help with all my abscense fro Ghana and Thailand. I think I’ve finally settled on a transfer school so I had to completely redo my schedule with it in my mind. The only one I strayed with was the English class. I LOVE English so I figured that would be my ‘fun’ class.

My sister Jilly had her tonsils and adnoids out, plus a scope done on Thursday, so the poor dear has been out on the couch since then. She is not a happy camper!

I finally got Joey’s wheelchair back together. Amazing how much easier it was to put it together than to take it apart! We decided to have a plaque made for the chair. I went to pick it up today and the lady refused to let me pay.  It was a much needed blessing as I was in really low spirits. I had just come from the cemetery. It was horribly windy, so I only walked around for a bit, straightening a few things. Then I sat in the car for awhile. I just miss him so much.

Happy thoughts!

I went crazy and bought about two dozen eight ounce bottles of bubbles for Thailand. No idea what I was thinking. I now have three bags of beanie babies in my carryon and three zip locs of bubbles in my suitcase. I’m trying to figure out what heavy non liquid items I can stash in my purse. Maybe I can just bat my eyes and they’ll let me get through with my overwheight suitcase? Yeah, I thought not.

In less than five weeks I’ll be boarding a plane for Thailand. (Or rather, several planes.) When I go I’ll be taking one suitcase. For any of you who know me well, or have had the misfortune to travel with me, you’ll know that this is incredible! I am the queen of over-packing, while also being the queen of organization & making it fit.
A weeklong trip? I’ll pack twenty outfits and five pairs of shoes, plus a whole bag of jewelry that I’ll never wear. Going overseas? I designate one suitcase just for my food stash.
So why am I only taking one suitcase? My other allotted bag will actually be a wheelchair, Joey’s wheelchair. As most of you know, I’m taking it there to give to a yet unknown Thai child, in Joey’s memory.
While I would gladly give up both suitcases to accomplish this feat, I do still have one suitcase, which for most people would be fine. And even for myself, I can handle that. But a good deal of that suitcase is taken up with parts to Joey’s wheelchair, as well as donations galore. (Beanie Babies, toy missiles, necklaces, balloons, ect.) Well my mother and I love a challenge, and pride ourselves on being able to come up with ingenious answers to various puzzles. So to this end we schemed up the brilliant idea to take Joey’s chair completely apart and then distribute the pieces throughout two suitcases, and just reassemble it in Thailand. I spent a good 2+ hours taking it apart. It was not easy at all, as some of the parts did not want to come off. However I succeeded and then we began to search for two bags that would fit the odd dimensions of a dissambled wheelchair.

We did not succeed.

However, even if that planned failed, I did find several skrews that needed to be replaced, and was able to give it an even better cleaning. Joey LOVED playing outside so much, and you can tell that from his chair. I think that was the hardest thing for him, those last few weeks, being cooped up in that hospital and in his room for so long.

Only sunny skies now, buddy.

csc_0311

And if you’re wondering, my second title won out and so far I’ve packed almost everything I need and still have a good bit of free space.

Adieu!

2008

Thoughts

As this year draws to an end, I’ve been reflecting on everything that has happened. It’s been an intensely difficult year. When someone recently asked me what my biggest victory of the year was I answered that it was simply surviving it.
I know that I will always remember it as the year my brother, Joey, died. There’s just no way around it, that’s how I will always identify this year. But I will also remember so many other things about it. It’s the year I went to Africa. It’s the year I learned to drive, and got my license. I met so many amazing people, and reunited with many more. It’s these friendships that have gotten me through this year.

But even more than them, it’s God who has brought me through. I know I’m not the first to experience tragedy, and I’m not the last, but losing Joey was the most earth shattering experience of my life. It had the potential to break me, to break my family beyond repair. It’s the sort of experience that can take away your faith. Leave you bitter and uncaring. But by the grace of God, it didn’t. Instead it’s drawn me closer to God than I’ve ever been. It’s drawn our family together in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Throughout it all, God has been so evident, through every single event that took place. His plan is perfect and even now I can see some of the ‘why’ behind it all. I may not always understand it all, and some days are horribly hard, but through it all I remain confident that He is being glorified, and that is all I need.

2008

The Good

  • · Being able to serve at four Joni and Friends Family Retreats, and most especially getting to be a small group leader at one. God was truly at work at all four retreats, in so many lives and relationships.
  • · Going to Ghana with WFTW! Heartbreaking, inspiring, life-changing, incredible and so much more!
  • · Surviving another semester of college, and that while missing four weeks of classes!
  • · Getting to meet two of my lovely Xanga friends, Lizzie & Anna!
  • · Having Jamie & Lizzie for two glorious weeks!
  • · Seeing my dear Sara(!) so much this year! And scheming like crazy with her!
  • · Acquiring a new nephew, Kohen Robert!
  • · Experiencing the boundless love of so many people.
  • · A memorable two week vacation as a family to California and Mission Springs JAF Retreat.
  • · Turning 19 at camp, the best place to spend your birthday!

2008

The Bad

  • · Losing Joey. The most painful experience of my life.
  • · Saying goodbye to Jacob when he went to live with his aunt. It was the best possible resolution to a sad situation, but I felt like I lost a piece of myself.
  • · Having to drop out of school for a semester.
  • Other Random ’08 Things
  • · Still didn’t settle on a transfer school.
  • · Worked three of same jobs and two new ones.
  • · Got a perm. (BAD IDEA!)
  • · Cut off lots of my hair.
  • · Cute off even more of my hair.
  • · Now have the shortest hair I’ve had since I was a bald three year old.
  • · Signed up to collect wheelchairs through Chair Corp and Joni and Friends.
  • · Made lots of mistakes, doubtlessly hurt people (my apologies!)
  • · Tried my best, and came through to 2009!

So all this goes to say, it was a good year.

2009

Things I’m Looking Forward To

  • · Thailand in February!
  • · Ghana in March!
  • · JAF Retreat in June and July
  • · Other JAF related possibilities
  • · Hopefully seeing Jamie & Lizzie at some point!

  • Resolutions
  • · Exercise more! I didn’t think I was stress eating the last few months, but I recently realized that I had gained about 10 lbs over the last few months. So I’m hoping to lose that and maybe a little more.
  • · Read more! My reading has been way down of late, at least for me. (I probably read between 20-30 books this year, but could read more!)
  • · Try and take as many classes as possible this year so I can have my Associates by the end of the year or after the Spring 2010 semester.
  • · Decide where I’ll transfer and have everything arranged so I can enroll for Spring or Fall of 2010.
  • · Decide for sure about my major, whether I want to be a Physical Therapy Assistant or work in Child Life, or maybe something else completely different!
  • · Spend less money and start to amass a worthy amount of savings.
  • · Look into starting the process to be a foster parent when I turn twenty-one in July of 2010.

Happy New Year!

2008 Recap

What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? Stopped over in London, and went to Ghana, West Africa!

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I can’t remember any of them, but I probably did. And I’m making some for 2009.

Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, my oldest sister, Jessica. Kohen Robert McAfee 9-30-2008

Did anyone close to you die? Yes, my brother Joey.

What countries did you visit? England and Ghana.

What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A degree!

What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? September 10th 2008, the day Joey died.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving it with my faith, sanity and heart intact.

What was your biggest failure? Having too little grace & patience throughout the year.

Did you suffer illness or injury? I thought I had malaria, but it was jetlag. Oh, and I had pink eye! it was traumatic!

What was the best thing you bought? Does my fees for four JAF camps count? Because it was the best!

Where did most of your money go? Camp and Ghana, Thailand and Ghana again, for sure!

What did you get really, really, really excited about? The idea of going to Thailand with Sara!

What song will always remind you of 2008? Blessed Be Your Name.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

Thinner or fatter? Definitely fatter. Stress/depression has not been kind to me.

Richer or poorer? Richer.

What do you wish you’d done more of? Living.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Sinning, through word & actions.

How will you be spending Christmas? Already spent it, with family and friends.

Did you fall in love in 2008? Yes, but only in a platonic way, you ninny.

What was your favorite TV program? House!

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, I try not to hate people.

What was the best book you read? A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis

What was your greatest musical discovery? I really haven’t a clue!

What did you want and get? Many things

What did you want and not get? I can’t think of anything specific.

What was your favorite film of this year? I know I had one but I can’t remember it, haha.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was at the training at Mission Springs. And I turned 19.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not losing Joey, obviously, but God has been at work through it.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? On sale.

What kept you sane? God’s unfailing love, my family, and friends, especially my sisterfriends.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I thought Sarah Palin was pretty nifty.

What political issue stirred you the most? The election, like everyone else, I’m sure.

Who did you miss? Joey & Jacob.

Who was the best new person you met? Lizzie! “Met” in person that is.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. That God’s grace and love is sufficient in all times & places.  His ways are not our ways, but He is at work in all things. He will not leave us nor forsake us, and He supplies all our needs.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name