Monday, June 22, 2009

We missed another issue! Life has been busy!

Spring/Summer 2009

Graduation from Seminary
After 3 years, 6 semesters, and 95 credit hours, John graduated from Multnomah Biblical Seminary with a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree on May 15th. During graduation week, John was the recipient of two honors. First, due to his success in the classroom, John graduated summa cum laude. Second, John received the 2009 B. B. Sutcliffe Expository Preaching Award. This award is given by the faculty to the most outstanding preacher in the graduating class based on both the accurate study and skillful presentation of God’s Word. John’s selection is significant since several of his classmates are seasoned pastors with many years of preaching experience. As the award recipient, John was asked to deliver a sermon to the graduating class and their families at the Baccalaureate Service. John spoke from Ephesians 5:1-2 – “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

On March 3rd, John went before a panel of three Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) pastors for his ordination interview. This interview was the culmination of two years of study and preparation which included reading several C&MA books, gaining practical ministry experience, and writing doctrinal position papers. In the interview, John was asked about his personal life, his doctrinal convictions and his ministry goals. After 2 hours of questions and answers, the pastors congratulated John and commissioned him as an ordained minister in the C&MA. As strange as it may sound, John now has earned the title of “Reverend” (although he much prefers the connotations associated with “Chaplain”).

Unexpected Change of Plans
Last November, John celebrated 5 years since he heard God’s call to the Army Chaplaincy while serving in Iraq. Unfortunately, in December, he learned that his plans to become a Chaplain immediately following graduation were put on a hold. The U.S. Army (in all its wisdom) decided that John lacked enough ministry hours to enter the chaplaincy in 2009. Thus, John and Bree decided to stay in Vancouver for another year while John continued to do volunteer at his church in order to fulfill the Army’s ministry requirements. Yet, as God would have it, John was offered a job working with ROTC Cadets at the University of Portland! This fall, John will be both mentor and advisor to the incoming freshman class. He will also continue to lead the Wednesday morning Bible study for cadets on campus. While it may not be traditional “ministry experience,” this job will provide a wonderful opportunity for John to transition from the seminary world back to the military culture. The current plan is for John to return to the Army as a Chaplain in Summer 2010.

New Baby
Back when “Jon and Kate Plus 8” was a more “stable” family and show, Lydia used to really enjoy watching it with Bree. Ever since then she has told us that she wanted us to be “John and Bree Plus 3.” So, come mid-February that is what we’ll be! And yes, we know that having 3 means that we automatically create a “middle child.” We think Micah with his fiery red hair and attitude is up to the challenge. J We’re very excited and we’ll keep everyone posted as the big arrival gets closer!

Life in the 1st Grade
Bree officially finished the 2008-2009 school year on June 18th and while she will miss most of her students, she was all too happy to walk out the door that afternoon. When she walked out at 1:00pm on that last day, her classroom was totally packed and clean and ready for a move to another classroom or a move to Bree and John’s garage. Next school year (2009-2010) is still not settled for Bree. She is currently slotted to teach a 1st/2nd grade blend classroom which she is still hoping to job share. Bree will need to make a final decision around mid-August as to whether she’ll teach or take a year leave of absence. Both options have their pros and cons – it’s going to take the summer to think, reflect, and decide what is best for Bree and our family. So after packing up her entire classroom in 2 days flat Bree is now more than ready to face a summer of playing at the park with Lydia and Micah, walks with Reuben, and lazy latte-filled mornings (that is when the “all-day sickness” doesn’t make coffee sound repulsive!)

Kids Korner
I am one! I turned one on April 2nd and I had a big “baseball themed” 1st birthday party. Mommy even made me my own cake to smash and eat all by myself. That was pretty awesome! I got really messy and was covered in buttercream frosting by the time they took the cake away and tossed me in the tub.
Just after my birthday I started walking (now I run!) and climbing EVERYTHING. Mommy and Daddy can’t turn their backs on me for a second. If they do, I’m off in another room pulling stuff off shelves, getting into cabinets, or attempting to climb something not safe. Mommy says one of these days I’m just going to climb out of my crib and walk out of my bedroom – I already know how to climb out of the tub so the crib is next!
Mommy and Daddy recently started cutting my hair. It’s still red, and even though it’s short I still have an attitude that matches my hair! Take something from me or tell me no and I’ll let you know what I think with a screaming fit – sometimes I even throw myself on the floor! It’s funny though, I don’t get what I want even with the fit… hmmmm… I guess I need to try another tactic!
I love Reuben! He is my buddy. He lets me climb all over him and when it’s eating time I sneak him pieces of food. He loves me for that and sits at my feet constantly. When we’re playing Reuben is really gentle and even though Reuben is 60+lbs heavier than me I can hold my own against him. We’re going to be buddies for a long time!

(partially dictated by Lydia) Hi everybody! I’m 4 now! I had a “Horton” birthday party and I invited my friends from “Miss Lisa’s.” My cake was really yummy. Mommy made it! The cake had Horton on it holding his clover and the speck. Mommy also made big clovers that are hanging from our ceiling. It was funny when Opa and Uncle Coco (Colin) would run into them. I really enjoyed opening my presents. Some of my favorites were my new “Guess Who” game, a new baby doll, and my first big girl bike.
This fall I’m going to go to preschool at “Miss Lisa’s” house. I’m super excited about that. My friends ZoĆ« and Rachel might go there too. I’ve already started to read short words and have had fun playing with “word families.” My mommy says I’m too smart and that she’s not sure what they’re going to do with me in kindergarten – whatever that means! J Some of my other favorite “school” things that I like to do is practice counting, combining numbers (adding!), and taking numbers apart (subtracting!) WOW!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fall/Winter Newsletter 2008

Oops! We missed an issue!

If you were wondering what happened to our newsletter this past fall, the simple answer is that it didn’t get sent out. The more complicated answer is that we had a lot going on with John returning from a summer deployment and going back to seminary, as well as Bree adjusting to being back at school full-time, and the kiddos starting at “Miss Lisa” for the school year. Some of you probably thought we just “went green” and stopped sending them. Well, we are “Going Green!” but only for those who tell us they would prefer reading our newsletter electronically. If you would like to see us and hear about what is new on a more frequent basis check out our blog: We have already added a link to our blog for these newsletters. Please email us at: or to let us know if you would prefer email notification when there is a new newsletter. If we don’t hear from you, we will continue to snail mail you a paper copy.

Serving “God and Country” at West Point

On July 1st, exactly 12 years after reporting to West Point for the first time, John returned to his “Rockbound Highland Home” (an affectionate, yet somewhat sarcastic nickname for West Point) to spend seven weeks ministering to the cadets as a chaplain candidate. Upon his arrival, John was assigned to two Cadet Basic Training companies and served the incoming plebes in those companies for the duration of the summer – from R-day (the day the New Cadets report for duty) to the march back (the day the New Cadets complete their training). Over the course of the seven weeks, John was able to practice many ministry skills. He preached sermons on several occasions. He also counseled cadets on topics ranging from theological questions to personal problems. Perhaps John’s favorite aspect of ministry was simply ‘being there’ – being there when they were facing a difficult road march, being there when they were scared about the future, and being there when they needed someone to talk to. By summer’s end, John left with profound disappointment that he could not remain, but with renewed enthusiasm about returning to the chaplaincy full-time.

US Army Chaplain Fact

In 1917, the United States was preparing for a full-scale war in Europe and the chaplain corps was an integral part of this mobilization. Before the war, the Army chaplaincy consisted of only 126 ministers. By war’s end, over 2,200 additional chaplains joined their ranks! Many were decorated for valor including 27 Distinguished Service Crosses and 18 Silver Stars. (Found on

Life in the 1st Grade

Bree went back to school full time starting in August. While it has been good to be back, teaching full time with 2 young kiddos at home poses its own set of challenges. The biggest one being getting out of the door by 7:32am so Bree can “beat” the school buses! Thank goodness John is around this year to help dress and wrangle Lydia and Micah.
The beginning of the school year started off a bit bumpy as Bree has twenty-one 1st graders, many of which have extraordinarily unique behavioral, emotional, social, and academic needs. However, every student has begun to show growth in all areas of the classroom and Bree has really fallen in love with her rough and rowdy bunch! Bree is also very happy to be back at Fircrest where she loves the staff, the administration, and is continuing her leadership role on the staff development team in the area of mathematics.

Kids Korner

Since I’m the big sister, I get to write first. This summer was super exciting. First Daddy went off to the Army and I got to go live in Seattle at Nonna and Opa’s house for 5 weeks! I have a feeling Nonna and Opa were a bit shell shocked when we first arrived! While living in Seattle we kept ourselves very busy. I played lots outside (helping to “water plants”), made friends with “Nonna’s Ruth and John” (next door neighbors), and even got to take 2 weeks of swim lessons with Natalie and Andrew! (The kiddos that Aunt MaeMae nannies for.)

The best part of the summer however was flying on 2 airplanes to go see all my NJ family and Daddy at the Army! Thank you to all the NJ family who helped schlep us to and from the airport, our hotel, and many other places! While in NJ we were able to help celebrate Great-Grandmom’s (“Opa’s Mommy”) 80th birthday and Great-Granny’s (“Nonna’s Mommy”) 85th birthday! Both parties had very yummy cakes with lots of frosting for me to eat. I even got to help blow out birthday candles!
One other major highlight of our trip was going “down the Jersey Shore.” We spent a wonderful day on Long Beach Island where we met Aunt Eileen and Michael. We climbed to the top of Barnegat Lighthouse, Micah and I both dipped our toes in the Atlantic for the first time, and I christened the shore when I “lost my lunch” after tasting ocean water for the 1st time! I’ve played lots in the Pacific but have never gone in enough to taste it! YUCK! Despite losing my lunch I loved the beach and really enjoyed being able to share the shore with Opa and the rest of my family!

Well, a lot has happened since this summer! Sharing “Miss Lisa” with Micah everyday, pumpkin patch adventures, Thanksgiving fun with both sets of Grandparents and “Auntie Glenda” and “Uncle Jeffy,” we’ve even made a trip to see Santa! Christmas is something I am super excited about this year. For starters, Grandma (McDougall) has made me a “Princess Christmas Dress.” I’m also way into this whole “Baby Jesus” thing and even tell people that I have a “Baby Jesus” in my belly. I’m not quite sure what the weird looks and rolls of eyes are about when I announce my big news. Maybe someday I’ll understand. Ciao for now! I’m going to let Micah have a turn!

I am 8 months old now and am crawling everywhere, weigh 20+lbs., and am pretty much inhaling anything in the big wide world of “solid” food! So far I have really enjoyed: oatmeal, yogurt, any and all pureed veggies, any and all pureed fruits, and my favorite is avocado pureed with chicken and mild salsa! Mommy’s blender gets a serious workout on the weekends when she makes my food for the week!
Aside from solid food I’d have to say the most exciting introduction in my life has been College Gameday! College football fans, you know what I’m talking about. It really doesn’t get any better than a Saturday afternoon game, sitting on the couch or bed, and listening to my dad yell, clap, and cheer at all the different plays. Most recently we’ve been cheering for teams like Auburn and Texas (in honor of my Aunt Jenn). Unfortunately, NFL (Seahawks) hasn’t been nearly as much fun to watch this season. Seattle has had one of the most pitiful sports seasons in years, so I’m really looking forward to a fresh start for Seattle sports with Mariner’s Spring Training in 2009!
Well it’s Christmas time and I’m not quite sure what all the hype is about. However, I do enjoy trying to pull ornaments off the tree whenever the grown-ups aren’t looking. I had a good time meeting some big guy named Santa. While I sat on that guy’s lap mom and dad made funny faces, clapped, and made goofy sounds. I smiled and that seemed to keep them happy! Happy Christmas to all!