Road Trip!

During our first two months with Ethan, we’ve experienced a number of firsts. This week, we will experience another first — a road trip.

Tomorrow morning after breakfast, we will drive to Asbury in Wilmore, KY where we are scheduled to defend our dissertations Thursday afternoon (Randy) and Friday morning (Joleen) before driving back Friday afternoon and evening.

The trip normally takes us about 9 hours, but that’s with minimal stops. We expect the trip tomorrow and Friday to take longer because we’ll be traveling with Ethan. The question is, how much longer.

Adding to our concern is the fact that Ethan is not a big fan of the car seat idea.

We’re hoping for a good trip with Ethan, and for a good report on both of our defenses!

Back on Mission

It’s our first day back to work (after parental leave). As we get back to the cause of leading our churches in mission, I’m thinking about an image I saw while we were in Korea.

"The world is my parish!"
“The world is my parish!”
During our tour of Kwanglim Methodist Church, I saw a large wall poster of John Wesley on horseback, which included the phrase (in English and in Korean): “The world is my parish.”

I saw the poster as we walked by it in the hallway. A couple minutes later, I went back to take a picture of it because it had really caught my attention. Here was this incredible church (70,000+ members) — plus all of the other Methodist churches in Korea — that was the fruit of John Wesley’s amazing ministry.

It’s a good reminder that what we do for God can make an impact on the world — in our lifetimes and beyond. It’s also a good reminder as Joleen and I get back to the mission of leading our churches in the work of God’s kingdom.

How Was the Trip?

Whenever we return from traveling (or at the end of some important experience), we’ll commonly ask each other: How was the trip? It gives us an opportunity to reflect on things we enjoyed, things we didn’t enjoy, things we learned, and things we’ll carry with us forever.

Here at the end of our 10-week journey (i.e. parental leave), which involved going to Korea to get our baby and 8 weeks of creating a family with Ethan, it’s a good time for us to reflect on our trip.

General Highlights …

  • Time in Korea. We enjoyed our time there, experiencing a new culture.
  • Making new friends at the Korean Methodist churches, especially the small group with whom we spent our first evening with Ethan.
  • Spending time with Ethan, getting to know him, sometimes entertaining him, and many times being entertained.
  • Introducing Ethan to family and friends.
  • Completing our dissertations (mostly).
  • Memorializing this experience and inviting others on the journey with us, through this Web space.

We’re grateful for God’s incredible gifts to us. And we look forward continuing this journey with God and each other.

Round 2

Today, Mom came to our house to spend the afternoon with Ethan while Randy and I went to State College to run some errands.

Round 1 involved a lot of separation anxiety, but in Round 2, Ethan had a wonderful visit with “Grandma!” They played together. Ethan had one of his favorite snacks — yogurt. And NO crying this time!

Ethan just continues to amaze us as he moves forward in his adjustment. What an encouragement on our last day of parental leave!

Ethan Meets the Twins

IMG_0675My cousin, Kevin, had twins twelve days before Ethan was born. Ethan got to meet Steven and Evin (corrected spelling!) and the family on Friday.

The twins have each other to play with (or steal toys from), but this was the first time Ethan was around any babies his age.

IMG_0680The 10-month-olds were cute together. They would reach out and touch each other. Evin was in a laughing mood (corrected with the name of the right twin!). The three just hung out together. After awhile Ethan ventured from Mommy’s lap to check out the wide array of toys.

Hopefully we can do this again soon!

Separation Anxiety

Last Wednesday, Randy and I had our first time apart from Ethan. Mom volunteered to babysit while we went to Altoona to pick up our pictures at JCPenney Portraits. We had a few other things to pick up, as well (formula was at the top of the list!). And, Randy and I planned to have a date.

IMG_0609Just as we arrived in Altoona, we got a call and could hear Ethan’s frantic cries in the background. He wouldn’t eat lunch and he wouldn’t be consoled. Randy and I hit the fast forward button, got the essentials, and called Mom to see how he was doing.

Ethan was okay at the time, so we opted for lunch at Tijuana Flats Burrito Co. (our first time there), which we thought would be quicker than Marzoni’s where we had originally planned to go.

After the initial crying spell, Ethan was back and forth between cries and being okay. His grandma soothed him with an early bottle, found a new toy for him to play with, and entertained him with the speaker phone.

After being away for about two hours fifteen minutes, we arrived at Mom’s. As soon as Ethan saw us, he came scampering across the floor toward us, panting heavily! Needless to say, he was very happy to see us (and us, him 🙂 ) How wonderful to be loved and missed so much!

Ethan remained somewhat clingy that night and into the beginning of the next day. This all makes us a bit apprehensive about our first Sunday back on April 20. But it’s all part of the ongoing process!

Ethan’s First Professional Photos

After giving Ethan some time to adjust to his new home, we took him to a professional photographer at JCPenney Portraits a couple of weeks ago. This week, we picked up our prints.

As a nice touch, JCP offers (for $5) online access to all of the pictures that were taken (including the many that we did not buy). This allows us to share them online, including posting them on our blog. 😎

These were our favorites

One Step Closer

Just before the local post office closed this afternoon, we mailed our defense drafts — 3 copies from each of us — to the doctor of ministry office for the members of our dissertation committees.

Every step is one step closer to the finish line.

Throughout this program, which we began more than 4 years ago, we’ve experienced a lot of pressure, and at times, a lot of relief (e.g., the end of each class and at various milestones of the dissertation writing process). But this step brings the greatest sense of relief so far.

We’ve got a *few* steps left, including …

  • Defend our dissertations at next week’s defense hearings in Kentucky (mine on Thursday and Joleen’s on Friday).
  • Then, we’ll have three short weeks for final edits, including, (1) making committee-recommended changes and (2) making final revisions after our drafts are edited one last time.
  • Then, we go to graduation — in 46 days!

Along with the extra sense of relief tonight is an extra dose of gratitude for God’s presence and help throughout this part of our journey!

Balancing Dissertations and Peekaboo

After lunch today, we needed to split shifts between dissertation work and hanging out with Ethan so that we can mail them tomorrow afternoon.

IMG_0594At the time I went to my computer to get started on my work, Ethan thought it was a good time to play peekaboo. So we did.

Life can be a real balancing act, at times. That’s always true, and it’s especially true for us these days with finishing up dissertations and caring for Ethan.

That will also be true when we go back to work around the middle of the month.

Life is an adventure. That’s never been more true than now!

Got Milk?

Sometime ago, a local dairy farmer/parishioner was in our home and noticed the gallon of milk in our refrigerator–something that is the norm in our house, so I didn’t think a thing about its presence, and was surprised that she had noticed! (Probably it’s like me, a pastor, going into someone’s home and noticing their Bible on the coffee table!)

IMG_0590Well, the latest dairy news is that we now not only have one gallon of skim milk, but a half gallon of whole milk–Ethan is now drinking milk! At Ethan’s doctor appointment last Wednesday, Dr. Ettenger suggested Ethan begin drinking an ounce of whole milk 3-4 times/day (4 ounces/day). In a month, he can go to 8 ounces/day.

I have been anticipating this day, so I can begin to indulge and have whole milk in my coffee if I want!