Friday, July 25, 2008

The passing of our beloved Benjamin

I'm finally working up the courage to post the sad news. On Wednesday evening, our beloved chocolate lab, Benjamin, had to be put to sleep. At nine and a half years old, we thought he had so much life left in him. What we thought was just a little flu bug last week though, turned out to be something far more serious. On Wednesday when I came in from mowing the lawn, Benny was breathing funny and refused food, even when I offered to spoon-feed him. I called my mom and explained what was going on. Then when I tried to take him outside so he could go potty, he staggered and almost fell over, leading me to believe that he had another ear infection which was messing with his equilibrium. When I got him back in the house, he started crying and Ben NEVER cries (he was always an incredibly quiet dog). So I called my mom at work again and she came home early to help me get him to the vet. I really believed that we would get to the vet's office, he would be diagnosed with another ear infection, given some medicine and we'd have him safely home by 5:30. But the vet just looked at us sadly after listening to his heart and checking his vitals and told us that he was in critical condition. It was as if someone had just poured cold water over my head. He was in pain and his heart was shutting down. It was so traumatic watching my beloved Benjamin fade so quickly and even worse to hear his labored breathing. Walking out of the vet's office that night was one of the hardest things I've ever done, especially since I went in never dreaming that he had congestive heart failure. I loved that dear dog so much. I've always been more attached to animals than to people, but Ben was so much more than just a wonderful dog. Through everything that has happened over the past 9 and a half years, he has been such a stable, constant, cheerful presence in our lives and the past seven years (after Grandpa gave him to us) he has never ceased to be the most faithful companion; our house seems so empty and awful now that he's gone. I've cried and cried and cried. Everything is so dark and depressing right now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Lord, As the Day Begins"

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." -Psalm 5:3
Lord, as the day begins lift up our hearts in praise
take from us all our sins, guard us in all our ways:
our every step direct and guide that Christ in all be glorified!

Christ be in work and skill, serving each other's need;
Christ be in thought and will, Christ be in word and deed:
our minds be set on things above in joy and peace, in faith and love.

Grant us the Spirit's strength, teach us to walk his way;
so bring us all at length safe to the close of day:
from hour to hour sustain and bless, and let our song be thankfulness.

Now as the day begins make it the best of days;
take from us all our sins, guard us in all our ways:
our every step direct and guide that Christ in all be glorified!
-"Lord, As The Day Begins" Trinity Hymnal (Blue) #399

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Busy Week

I was spending time with the Lord this morning when it hit me--this has been a wonderfully eventful week. God has blessed me with some very enjoyable time with my family, I've met some new and incredibly nice people and have run the full gamet of emotions during this time as well. So indulge me as I reflect on this week at length.

Sunday started with a God-saturated time of worship. I love Midland Free so much--rarely am I able to walk away from worship without having encountered our living God and enjoyed such sweet fellowship with the believers there as well. Pastor Jay's sermon on spiritual gifts was yet another reminder of how far God has brought be during this academic year (and how much He has worked through my mentor Bev to bring me to this point)...and also how far I have yet to go. :-) I still am not entirely certain about my spiritual gifts, but I did experience this year while serving in Chidren's Ministries that "joyful exhaustion" that Pastor Jay mentioned. I loved serving in this capacity and I loved how it so greatly affected my week as well. I was continually ruminating on our lesson for the children and God would bring many of them to my mind to pray for. I couldn't wait to see their little faces on Sunday morning and to help in teaching them God's Word, whether in play or in the craft or in the little activities after teaching time. I miss the kids so much and I know I want to be involved in Children's Ministries in whatever church I end up at next year.

Then after church Ciaran and I took my fifteen-year-old-cousin Katelen driving. She's just learning to drive (just got her pink slip!) and since Ciaran spent the better part of the past winter and spring learning how to be a driver's training instructor, we had a blast having her drive around Heritage's driving course and around Ciaran's neighborhoods. Katelen is a great driver and Ciaran of course is a great instructor. Katelen also got to meet Ciaran's parents and a couple of his siblings and then we took her out to dinner and back to my house for the rest of the night. It was so great to be able to sit around with her and talk and watch movies and just hang out; it's been a long time since we had extended time with her together. And she's grown up so much, she was just eight years old when she first met Ciaran...and now she's driving! Does time fly or what?!!!

The beginning of the week also included Ciaran and I going with my cousin Adam out to Delta College (Ciaran knows a number of people out there in admissions). Adam got so much done that morning (testing, meeting with an academic advisor and financial aid...all in just a few hours) and then of course we enjoyed a nice lunch with him. Adam's getting into the computer science field and it was SO much fun to spend time talking with him about that and just hanging out with him. But before we went out to Delta (just shortly after Ciaran pulled into the driveway to pick me up) a huge semi pulled up in front of our house. The moving van had arrived for Carter's stuff. As soon as Ciaran and I left my house, I burst into tears. I had been SO excited for Carter up until that point, but I don't know, it was as if the full realization of what was coming hit me full force over the head. My brother is moving to California!

Then also during the beginning of the week, Ciaran and I trekked to the west side of the state to go visit his new school (he had a meeting with the athletic director) and then we went and looked at apartments. Ciaran starts coaching on the 11th which is coming up pretty soon. We had a blast exploring the area and as for the school he will be teaching! The school he taught at out in New Hampshire was phenomenal (think small New England college least that's what it felt like) and obviously this new one can't compete with that, but it IS incredibly beautiful. Brand new building (they've only been in it since 2005) and it is huge! It's a class A school, but it still seems enormous!

Now on to the middle of the week: my first official teaching interview. This took place outside of Lansing and although I was pretty nervous the night before, the day of the actual interview I felt incredibly calm and just generally excited (all by God's grace of course). The interview itself was so much fun. They asked really insightful questions and posed quite a few challenging scenarios, but come on, two hours where all I talk about is teaching is right up my alley. I didn't want it to end. It was such a positive experience for my first teaching interview. I can't wait for the next one!

And now for the end of the week: Carter is winging his way to California right now. I cried and cried and cried. I promised myself I wouldn't cry in front of him, but of course, as he started finalizing things this morning I started getting all choked up and when we hugged good-bye right before he left, I completely lost it. You'd think I'd be better at goodbye's by now (after all those Ciaran and I had to go through), but I'm not. But I'm excited for Carter, this is such an awesome opportunity and he's going to have so many cool experiences traveling the world with this job. This is a good thing. But it's still sad right now. All right, Ciaran's on his way over to cheer me up (we're going to hit a few golf balls out in the field...that's right, Ciaran's teaching me how to golf--I'm HORRIBLE, but it's still pretty fun to laugh at how horrible I am).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Offline for the Next Few Days

Instead of e-mailing everyone, I decided to just post this here. After a couple weeks of computer problems, we've finally decided to have our computer reformatted. So for the next 3-5 days, I will not have access to my computer. Just didn't want anyone to think I was ignoring their e-mails. Hope everyone's having a great week!