Monday, May 29, 2017

Greece Trip Part One

I never want to forget this trip to Greece, therefore, I decided to have a written record of it on my blog. Got up at 3:30 in the morning to make it to the airport three hours early for our international flight from Portland to Amsterdam (10.5 hours). I have always been told how awful they are and boy were they right! The upside was Jackie and I realized that we probably hadn't sat down and watched a movie from start to finish in months. That was kind of nice! 
 Vern, Ethel, Jackie and I's feet on the carpet of PDX. Vern thought we were nuts!

 Waiting anxiously to board the plane!

On the airplane!!!

Once we arrived the Amsterdam, I was in culture shock. People didn't wait for you or move for you. I line was a suggestion. I couldn't believe how "rude" people were in my American eyes. I was terrified that Vern and Ethel were going to step out in front of a people move and die! They were going so fast! We had a three hour layover, so we went to a bunch of shops.

 The "lines" into customs were crazy!

 Ended up buying some tulip bulbs from Holland. Thought this was the best way to bring a bit of Holland to my home!

 These painted cows were all the rage! (Jackie)

 Of course beautifully painted wooden shoes!

 Got 4 hour flight from Amersterdam to Athens, Greece. Here is my first glimpse of the beautiful white city!

Flying inland to the airport.

This is when all the scary drama started! After we picked our rental car (that was a story in itself), we got lost in rush hour traffic in a city of 5 million people. Vern was driving and thought he knew the way to the apartment because he had studied the route so much on Google Earth. So we no written directions. After stopping twice and getting thoroughly lost in the seedy side of Athens where we were confronted by beggar children in a grocery store parking lot ( a whole other story in itself). When we got back on the right road to the right Marina, Vern started seeing familiar landmarks. We all realized that one of us should have bought an international SIM card so we could have contacted the poor man who was waiting at our apartment for two hours to give us our keys. By some miracle, we found the apartment and then PRAISE THE LORD, Manos was still there. I was seriously thinking I was going to have to sleep upright in this tiny car we had rented. I probably could have, considering I had been up at 30-plus hours at this point. 

 The apartment was amazing. Everything was inlaid in Marble. Floor, stairway, walls in bathrooms. Counters, tables and fireplace.

 We decided to go to bed at 7:30 p.m (Athens time). But the beds were not what we thought. We ended up making a makeshift bed for Jackie and I to sleep on by taking the cushions off two couches and the "mattress" off the hide a bed. It worked and as we laid down, Jackie said, " I just feel like crying." I replied, "Jackie, I am so sorry I got you into this!" We were both traumatized after all of our "firsts". Crazy Motorcycles, being lost, aggressive beggars, Motorists not yielding to pedestrians (I almost got killed 5 times just getting from the airport, to the grocery store, to the apartment! The next day, I almost got hit by a Tram, because there were no warning lights or sounds. I stepped onto what I thought was an abandoned track, when I got across all of a sudden there was a tram coming. Yowza!!! That was scary! I started looking very carefully after that!

The Acropolis is back there! Could see it from our balcony!

A remnant monument dedicated to the last Olympics held in Athens.

 So the next day we got up and felt the warm climate. We looked out the balcony and were just stunned by the view. We all met in the kitchen and processed the horrible previous day. We cried and hugged and prayed over the rest of our trip. It was good! We had coffee on the balcony and decided if we just stayed in this apartment with this incredible view, it would have all been worth it.
Never was brave enough to use this. They don't want you to put paper in their sewer system. Kind of a pain. 

 The City of Athens. One of our views from the balcony.
 We were in a very safe apartment-like section of town. The only thing that was gross was the smell of stray cat poop and urine. They were everywhere!

 We were on the seventh floor. Gives you an idea of how limited the parking is and how narrow the streets are. People parked on the sidewalk ALL the time..

Vern made us breakfast that morning. It was so nice of him. Watching him back in the place he loves is priceless. He used to live in Athens back in the 1950's and worked at the air force base for 2.5 years. He knew quite a bit of Greek and everyone was impressed at how good he did with their language. He kept being taken for a 50-60 year old even though he is 80! One waiter even guessed he was a pilot! I guess he just looks like one. Vern loves to fly and even had his own place when I met him.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Storms Result in Blessings

"Have you ever asked the Lord to make you more like Him? Have you ever desired the fruit of the Spirit and prayed for sweetness, gentleness, and love? If so, then never fear the fierce storms that even now may be blowing through your life. Storms bring blessings, and rich fruit will be harvested later." -Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Advice for When Your Firefighter Starts Slowing Down

I am going through a transition right now. It has been long, interesting and I think note-worthy. Maybe some of you are going through this as well? When I met my firefighter, Steve was 26 years old. He is now almost 50 and things have changed.

When I first got involved with Steve, he would go on 3-4 (two hour) call backs a day if he was not working. After we got married a year and a half later, I remember him having his pager on all night. He would get up in the middle of the night over and over again to go to the station. It was great money, but the interrupted sleep for both of us took its toll. 22 years later, he doesn't even have his radio turned on. In fact, I am not even sure where his radio is! He gets texts of calls sent to his phone but he keeps it on silent. It has been almost 3 years since he has gone on a call in the middle of the night on his days off.

Although my husband seems to never struggle with PTSD, (he puts on an extremely tough emotional front), yet I wonder if that will ever catch up with him. When we had children, he would come home and be very silent when he went on a bad call involving a child. He would usually open up to me by the afternoon and we would talk about it. I can't imagine the horror of seeing a dead child, let alone touch him, or work on him. This would be my worse nightmare. I don't know how he can not dwell on it and just move on. It scares me sometimes. What if all those images suddenly come back to haunt him and he may not be able to cope? I recently read an article about PTSD and firefighters. The article stated that a firefighter has a virtual Rolodex in his brain of all the bad calls he has been on. As he gets older, it gets bigger and bigger. I never thought of that. The only PTSD my husband has ever admitted to is when he is driving and someone is driving like a maniac around him. He gets extremely agitated. I finally asked him why he was so angry. He said "It is because I am the one that has to pick up the pieces when he wrecks." That made total sense to me. Crazy drivers take him back to his bad car wreck memories that are filed in his Rolodex.

Another change that has affected our relationship is the fact that since he doesn't go on so many calls, we have more time together. I used to be pretty much parent the six kids on my own. He was gone for work, or for overtime much of the time. I learned to be very independent. When, Steve started slowing down on the call back, he was around way more. That took some adjusting. We had to learn a different routine. Different but good. I feel like we are more "man and wife" now. Maybe this is how normal people live! LOL!

The last thing that has drastically changed is how tired he is after his shift. Even if he doesn't get up to go on a call (he is a Captain now, which means he stays at the station way more), his sleep is still interrupted by loud bells, lights coming on and radios blaring. This is so hard on people's bodies. Years and years of this has taken it's toll. Now when he comes home, he needs to take long naps. At first I used to get mad because it felt like he was just wasting the day away. Now, I realize how much his body needs that rest.

I would love to hear your stories as well!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


"We were under great pressure, that we despaired even of life...But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." -2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great length;
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength;
Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,
Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.

(Author Unknown)

This poem resonated within my spirit. There is so much pressure from being "pressed". I once heard someone say, "When you are pressed what comes out of your heart? Is it hate, bitterness, or resentment? Or is it love, kindness, patience and gentleness? Oh, to be the latter!

Right now, I am feeling squeezed. Six children all in school. One about to graduate. Everyone except one child are in multiple sports. It is just so busy. When I am gone for games and appointments, the housework builds up and then I feel pressed even more. I feel pressed when I know my husband needs attention when he gets home from the fire station. I feel pressed when I know my children need their individual attention and I am always trying to build and maintain relationships with the ones that are struggling the most in their teen years. I feel pressed when it comes to ministry at the church, because I want to help. I want to serve and I want to see people taught in the Scriptures and discipled, there is always so much to do and there is only so much time that I have to do it. 

This is when I must remember the term "seasons". Ahhh, God knows this. Jesus had seasons, the prophets of old had seasons, I only need to do what God asks me to do and do it well. I need to listen to him and see what He wants me to give up before I add something new. 

Being pressed isn't bad. It makes me dependent instead of independent. It makes me willing to ask my husband and children for their help. It even allows grandparents and friends to represent me at a game if I can't make it. 

Are you feeling pressed? I would love to hear your thoughts and your encouragement if you have come through this season of life victoriously!

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