Thursday, January 6, 2011

No Pair-ee for Me

So I have my 5th tip to Bosnia coming up in March…sheesh. Today, as I was looking into airline tickets I noticed one ticket which had an overnight layover in Paris on the way home…hmmm…the wheels started turning.
It would work perfectly. I would arrive at the Paris airport in the afternoon, check into a hotel, and take a taxi to see the Eiffel Tower. I’d take some pictures, walk around a little bit, try to make mental notes of what it’s like to be on Paris soil, and cross "visit Paris" off my bucket list. Then I’d go back to the hotel, have some dinner at a nearby cafe, and depart for home the next day.
Then I really started thinking about how I’ve felt during my last four trips to Bosnia. By the end of the trip (usually 8-10 days) I miss my kids and husband terribly. I’ll get teary-eyed, in the middle of a conversation with someone, just thinking about them. I start counting down the hours until I’m on my 12 hour flight headed home. I’m usually sick and tired of being in a foreign country -- where I can’t read what’s on the menu, and therefore have no idea what I’m eating, I get charged astronomical fees to take a taxi anywhere because I’m an American woman, it’s nearly impossible to find wifi, my clothes smell like cigarette smoke, and I just want to be HOME.
So I did it. Before I second guessed myself, I clicked purchase on the ticket that has me going straight to Bosnia and straight home in as little time as possible (7 days this time -- a new record!). I just had to chuckle to myself, and I guess that’s why I’m typing my thoughts out loud, because I REALLY love my family. When given the choice to spend a day in Paris or a day at home with my family, I choose them. I will always choose them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday was Sarah’s last basketball game of the season with her school team. I absolutely love watching my girl play. And on this Thankful Thursday, I am so very thankful that I was able to see every single one of her games. She had 10 games, all of which started at 3:30 in the afternoon; and I was there for every single one. I saw every basket, every steal, every juke, every fast break…I didn’t miss one play!

I’m thankful for a job with flexibility that allows me to come and go from the office as needed, and work from home when I miss hours in the office. It’s definitely not stress-free by any means, but the flexibility is so nice to have in this busy season of my family's life, and for that I am thankful.

Now I’m going to brag. 
Sarah with the ball
Sarah is an awesome basketball player! She’s always been ambidextrous, which has really paid off in basketball and softball. She can switch hands while dribbling without batting an eye. She’s got the crossover down like nobody’s business. She dribbles between her legs while the defense is pressing; she even dribbles behind her back. She’s fast, scrappy, and aggressive. She's content driving to the hoop and then making a stellar pass to her teammates. I love watching her jump in the air in excitement when one of her teammates scores...she absolutely loves providing the assists. She’s just plain awesome.
Ok, bragging session is over.
All three of my kids are in this picture! Daniel is in the eagle mascot suit, Olivia is holding the flag during the National Anthem, and Sarah is #13.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:14-16

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Re-Entry into Blog World, Take Two...

Oh boy, this is embarrassing. I just cringed as I read through my last blog post.
One of my favorite sayings is, “we judge ourselves based on our intentions, but judge others based on their actions.” So very true. Think about it.
Well, I’m asking whoever reads this to graciously judge me by my intentions. I sincerely meant every word I typed 14 months ago. I truly missed this. I honestly intended to do a simple, snap-shot blog post once a week. So, as my 13-year old son would say, “epic fail!”
So why today? Well, today is my 34th birthday. And to be honest it’s been a crappy day. I feel entitled right now to be lazy at work. It’s my birthday and people don’t know it; and they’re treating me like it’s any other day, but it’s not…darn it! :)
Anyways, I’d like to share with you a passage of scripture that I’m hereby claiming as mine for my 34th year of life:
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
Job 23:10-11
You see, I’m in the midst of the desert right now. I’m in a place where I can honestly say I feel there is not one person in this world who understands me, has an inkling of what I'm struggling through, or knows what's in my heart. (Dramatic? Yes. But the feeling is real, and I'm being painfully honest.). But this verse reminds me, without a shadow of a doubt, HE alone knows the way I take. HE alone sees my heart, HE alone understands where I’m at and what I’m up against. And in the midst of this difficult time, I want my feet to closely follow in His steps. I want to follow Him without turning aside. I will not comfort myself with self-pity or excuses. I will be faithful. I want to look back on this season of my life and see I came forth as gold.
When I read through the postings of this blog, it’s like I’m reading thoughts and happenings of another person’s life. It’s at times painful. I miss this past life of LizzyG. Things have changed drastically in our family. I am struggling. I am feeling alone. I am facing mountains which seem impossible to climb, and I just want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head and stay there until God makes the mountains crumble; and it’s safe to come out. But that’s not His way. And one thing this foolish 34 year old woman has learned over the years is, His way is perfect.
As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
So…back to blog world. I’m not even going to attempt to play catch up on the last 14 months. I’m simply going to start from today. My birthday. My life where it’s at right now. My kids with all their imperfections. I’m not going to try to make you believe I have it all together, I’m a flawless parent, my house is always clean, I have a fantastic job, I have a perfectly balanced life, that I rise while it’s still dark to do my morning devotions, go for a morning run, pack my kids’ lunches, put on perfectly pressed and very trendy clothes for work; and my children wake up with smiles on their faces greeting me with a kiss on the cheek while I prepare their eggs and bacon, and after our morning meal together, we all saunter out the door at 7:30 am, and sing praise songs on the way to school.
The only correct statement in the above paragraph is, “out the door by 7:30 am.” I will never confess to what happens in order to get us to that point. I’ll just hint at the fact it may involve pop-tarts, mascara being applied while driving, and my youngest arriving at school without any shoes (yes, it’s happened).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've Missed This

It’s been a while. 189 days to be exact. I’m not really sure why I stopped posting to my blog. I think most of all it was lack of motivation. Yes, of course life has been hectic and busy, but it was more than that. I think I was putting pressure on myself to always come up with something interesting to post, and when I didn’t have anything exciting to write I would wonder “who in the world would want to read about the trivial details of my life and look at pictures of my kids over and over again?”

But I’m feeling that tug again…that desire to try and capture those special little “mundane” moments that happen in our day to day living. This is such a precious time. I have my first child knee deep in the waters of middle school,a head-strong tween daughter who still wants to hang out with me (but is now wanting me to take her shopping for cute outfits and lip gloss instead of asking me to play Polly Pockets) and I have the joy of still seeing life through the wonder and innocence of a 4 year old.It’s a wonderful whirlwind, this season of life that I’m in, and I don’t want to forget one moment. Before I know it, this house will be empty on the weekends as they’ll be out hangin’ with their friends, and Sarah will prefer to go shopping with her group of high school friends rather than with me. I want to look back on these busy days and smile at the wonderful memories we made along the way.

So here I am, right back where I started on June 7th 2007, just wanting to capture these special moments, not caring if this blog is interesting to anyone other than my family, and especially not worried if it makes for an interesting read. I’m excited to chronicle this journey of the Garland family, even if it’s just one post per month. (although I do hope to write one post per weekend, but I won’t say that out loud , as I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. :] ) I even found a site where you can have your blog printed into a photo-album-like excited to do that!

So, I’m feeling motivated again, and for all the right reasons. :) Throughout this week I will be cheating a little. I’ll be backdating posts and will be updating my blog with at least one post per March, April, May, June, July and August.

There were many wonderful memories made over the last 6 months and they’re worth digging back up. Plus, Olivia’s first day of school is just around the corner…you’ve just gotta have a blog for milestones like that.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Turning 12

On April 21, 1997 I held this little boy in my arms for the first time. I'll never forget, that same night, Jon and I praying over him and asking God to give us the wisdom we needed as parents. Today, 12 years later, we still pray for him at night. (and us) Although, I somehow think there's a little more desperation in our prayers now then there was 12 years ago. :) Isn't it amazing how you can love a moody, stubborn 12 year old just as much as you can love a sweet, adorable newborn?

He's our son and we are thankful God gave him to us.
We love you, Daniel!

For this child I prayed...So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord. ~1 Samuel 1:27-28

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Lesson in Submission

My return flight from Bosnia and Herzegovina allowed for a day layover in Frankfurt, Germany. While planning my trip, I realized I would arrive in Frankfurt at 6:00 pm and my flight didn’t depart until late in the afternoon the following day. This was pretty exciting to me and I began searching online for the perfect, trendy hotel to stay in, right in the heart of the city. Well, I found the perfect hotel and my plan was to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel and then go exploring the downtown district of Frankfurt in the evening…it was all planned out and I was looking forward to it.

Howerver, just a few days before I departed on my trip my husband began to voice his concerns about this little “end-of-trip excursion” of mine. He was concerned for my safety, and just didn’t like the idea of me walking around Frankfurt by myself.
I was frustrated. I’m a very independent, stubborn person and I like to have my way. But at the same time, I totally understood where he was coming from, and tried to put myself in his shoes. So, because I love him, and would want him to do the same for me if the roles were reversed, I cancelled my reservation in my little, trendy downton hotel and booked a hotel that was right next door to the airport. Thus, producing these enticing photos of my stay in Germany.
Frankfurt Airport

Restaurant in Frankfurt

Authentic German Dinner

Authentic German ElevatorThere you have it folks! My grand tour of Germany.

Try not to be jealous.

Oh, P.S. I had a lovely layover in this beautiful airport in Slovenia. It was nestled in the mountains and felt like we were out in the middle of nowhere...and the espresso was out of this world!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March Madness, part 3

The country of Bosnia and Herzegovina is sharply divided by ethnic barriers. There are the serbs, the croats, and the bosniaks, each with their own dialect, religion and customs. People from these three regions rarely interact and there are major prejudices towards one another. The purpose of the Youth Leadership Program (very quick summary) was to take 6 students and 1 teacher from each of the three regions (Banja Luka, Tomislavgrad, Tuzla), bring them together and have them visit the U.S. for 4 weeks, where they attended a Civic Education Institute at Willamette, worked on community service projects together, visited high schools, lived with host families, and overall learned how we as Americans come from all different religious and ethnic backgrounds, but still volunteer and work together to make our communities a better place…basically learning the rights and roles of active citizenship.

Having said that, I think one of the most rewarding parts of my trip was the very first day of the Pre-Departure Orientation. Lejla (Program Officer from the Embassy) and I waited in the lobby of the hotel for the different groups to arrive. They were all traveling into Sarajevo from their various hometowns. The group from Banja Luka arrived first, as shown in this picture.
I have to admit I was nervous to meet these teenagers, not sure what they would think of me and how friendly they would be. But they were the most friendly, polite, wonderful kids! They immediately greeted me with huge smiles and hugs and we sat and chatted while waiting for the other groups to arrive. The group from Tuzla arrived next and it was so cool to see the kids from Banja Luka spring up from their chairs and rush over to greet these kids, who normally they wouldn’t interact with. It was amazing to see them introduce themselves without any inhibitions. The circle got larger and there was much laughter and boisterous conversations. Lastly, the group from Tomislavgrad arrived and it was the exact same thing…immediate welcoming and we all sat around the table in this huge group getting to know one another. And this is the best part. Take a look at these pictures. These were taken right outside my hotel room door in the hallway. This is what it was like every evening. Every single student in the hallway, playing UNO, talking and laughing until the hotel staff would come up and tell them to go to their rooms. You would never have known these kids had just met. You would never have known these kids were from three distinct and divided regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was an incredible thing to witness.

The daily sessions went well. I would cram each night, preparing for the next day’s sessions, and it always turned out better than I expected.
By the end of the trip, I was flat out exhausted, and couldn’t wait to get home to see my family. I will always cherish the memory of Olivia running up to me at the airport and hugging me as tightly as she could…ahh, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I had missed my kids so much, and it was hard to be so far away from them, and for such a long period of time. I also was able to surprise Sarah by picking her up at school the day I returned. It was so sweet to see her shocked, yet trying to maintain her cool composure while at school, reaction.

And…I get to do this all over again in March 2010. Actually, I don’t want to think about it just yet. Anyways, I’ll leave you with what very little pictures I took while in Sarajevo.