Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clementine in Hamilton

I bought my first house in Hamilton (a neighborhood in Baltimore) in 2001. The neighborhood had a lot of charm but definitely was transitional. Myriah threw me a surprise shower at a local Hamilton restaurant just down the road from where I used to live. First of all I was shocked how Myriah pulled off such a wonderful shower in such a short amount of time and ... I was shocked how up and coming the Hamilton downtown area is. I love the place we had the shower - so cool. There is a picture of it above.

Thank you Rye - you are the best!!! Love you tons!!

We're Baaaaaaaaaaaaaack

We're back from our trip to PA/MD. It was very eventful (in a good way) and we had a great time. I think I need to do several posts just to capture all of the details.

Thank you to my cuzzy for our luxurious accommodations and all the wonderful things she did.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Hana & Sam

My niece Hana's birthday was Sunday and my cousin-nephew (a title his mother created) Sam's birthday is Friday. Happy birthday and love you both!

Sorry - I don't have a picture of you on this computer Sam-you-smell


Thanksgiving should be everyday but it's easy to get caught up in our plans and daily routine. I have been inspired by another blogger to thank God for so many things in my life.

Thank you God for (not in any order):

- my salvation
- That it is finished
- for the freedom to worship You in this country
- for my naughty dog that is trying to eat my dinner right now
- my husband who knows You and loves You
- my unborn child
- my mother
- My Aunt Annie - who is a prayer warrior and my faithful blog reader (maybe the only reader :) )
- my brothers Vinny and Zac who have loved me unconditionally and our time together living in Baltimore
- my whole family - siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step parents, in-laws and all others
- my friends
- "the cousin gang" of which Vinny was the leader
- my cousin Rye who is my best friend
- my cousin Liz who is my stunt double or I am her stunt double
- my church and church family
- MBC&S - one of the best decisions I have ever made
- Greater Grace - Pastor Sheff who introduced me, Pastor Stevens who taught me to love the Word of God and Pastor Schaller who has stood in the gap and been a faithful friend
- Adoptive Parents - love you Sam-you-smell
- That death isn't final
- Heaven is waiting - miss you Vinny
- those who are faithful to the Great Commission and those who put God first in their lives
- Carol who didn't tell anyone I was pregnant when my mother told her and wasn't supposed to
- my life so far - no regrets - I am thankful for my failures because I have learned the mercy and grace of God; people letting me down because it has drawn me closer to God; my worst fear coming upon me - losing one of the closest if not the closest person to me - God has shown me that He can carry me
- Getting to know God and being on an adventure with Him
- Always being reminded that my failures (there are many) are paid for past, present and future - like right now - yelling at my dog for trying to eat my food
- That He is the great Comforter - He comforted me this morning when an old friend sent an instant message asking me how my brother was and how much he missed him. And I had to tell him through streams of tears how much I miss my brother too.

Love You Aunt Annie

Just wanted to let you know, if you're reading - I love you and hope you have a great Thanksgiving!


For all who knew Vinny well, knew he was an incredibly funny person and loved to laugh. He had a way of summing up a situation that was right on target and was so funny. I think it's because he knew people so well.

"Too bad so sad I'm glad you're mad"... Molly tries to copy that one but never gets it right

"Go get me a drink, cold blue steel". He loved commanding people, especially those who loved to be commanded. When he asked some boy to do something for him once, the boy said, "Please say cold blue steel."

My aunt Molly is always saying she is working her a-- off. So Vinny took a picture of Molly bending over her washing machine (total butt picture and not flattering) and sent it to all of us saying, "Here is Molly working her a-- off."

He made up great nick names for people. His roommate at the time and now our friend David is originally from Tennesse but lived in Russia as a missionary kid for many years. You would have to know him to get the full picture, but Vinny pegged him with with nickname Oompah. That was his name as far as our circle of friends was concerned. It was so funny. Vinny always called me Rach- arella after Cinderella (I hated it - he stole it from my aunt) so he called our Hungarian friend Hagi (pronounced Hoggy by many Americans)Hog- a rella. She is a very tall, thin, but big framed woman. Vinny called her this for years. Being from a different country she didn't get that he was combining her name with Cinderalla's. She finally asked him why he was calling her a Hog & Gorilla. We died laughing. He called our friend Tammy who lived with the Awad family Tam-wad. He told Herman the Russian (who he called the Soviet) that he was going to beat him to a bloody pulp which Herman loved and asked him to repeat over and over.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two More Souls with Jesus

My two phone calls this morning were bittersweet. Two more souls under the age of twenty breathed their last breath and went home to be with Jesus. Two more families are beginning their journey of grief. Thank God that He is the Great Comforter.

My first call was from my aunt Molly. A girl she has transported for years died this morning at 5 am. Randy was severely burned to the pointed of deformity when she was an infant. Molly really believed God put Randy into her life for a reason and really loved Randy with all of her heart. Randy was so deformend she only had one patch of normal skin on her back side, her arms were not complete and she didn't really have any hair. Her beauty ran deep and as well as her brattiness. Dave and I first met her in Baltimore when Molly took her to see D.C. She loved Dave instantly and told me he was HER boyfriend and wouldn't leave his side. Once in a great while I filled in for Molly driving her original crew home (now she has tons of kids). One day Randy said a naughty word and I told her not to say it again. She said, "Say what?" I told her she knew what she said. She kept trying to get me to say the word. When I wouldn't, she said, "Oh, you mean ----." She had such a great personality and great sense of humor. I am so thankful to God that she got to live the life with so much light. She was a bright light to all who knew her. Pray for her little sister and her mom as they have a big void now. I pray they will allow the the love of God to surround them.

My second call was from my friend B.J. who said she guessed I had heard the news from Baltimore. Of course that statement put me on edge. One of my Bible College Teachers who is also a friend and has been a true role model of the faith (he is now the President of MBC&S) lost his amazing, godly daughter to an automobile accident. She is a teenager, the youngest of four children. Cristina has an incredible family, extended family and church family. I am sure her life has touched many and many are mourning her death all over the world. I pray that God would comfort the broken hearts of her parents, siblings, family and friends.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baby Boy 24 Weeks/ 6 Months

Baby Boy Umstead is 24 weeks. He's a perfect little person rapidly gaining weight for his little body. I haven't really figured out his sleep patterns. He moves around a lot but I'm not sure it's at the same time everyday. Time is flying by and it's hard to believe he'll be here in about 3 1/2 months.

I'm trying to prepare for Thanksgiving. I thought it might be easier if I do some of the cooking we have to do in advance. So my mom gave me her family recipe for chocolate balls - let me just tell you I LOVE THESE. It's one of my favorite parts about Christmas and DEFINITELY my favorite part about eating at Christmas. I've never made them before and for some reason anticipated it being very difficult. Well, I did it last night after work and I hope they make it to Thanksgiving. They are fabulous. I should take a picture but am too lazy right now. My next hurdle is mastering my grandmother's yeast rolls. I am not a big roll person because usually I think they're rather bland - but a good, home made yeast roll - who can resist?

The town villian and I have taken to walking under the cover of darkness - less people to attack and less chances of us being identified as "the ones". I thought it would be freezing but it wasn't so bad. I did take the poop bag and I almost always pick it up unless it's in a really convenient place to hide it. Like on a hill side where no one lives and I can just push it down the hill with sticks. I don't leave it if it's on someone's yard or the side walk. I do think that's rude. Last night I found it very convenient to just keep walking when the deed was done.

We have this lady who drives some distance to come to our laundromat. She comes because she says that ours is the cleanest in the area. When you look at her you wonder why that is so important to her. Well, she drives a van and has a dog that she calls her child. I know a lot of people who do that (the dog thing). I might even fit into that category. It's beyond that for her. Her dog is a person and her guardian angel. She brings it in in a baby carriage. Last night she came in an threw herself across the table and declared to Dave how exhausted she was. She is very entertaining and most of the time wearing on one's nerves because she demands SO much attention. She was very difficult to deal with until Dave discovered the key to her heart - doting on her dog. Dave was hoping that her declaration didn't mean lots of extra work for him. He helped her bring her stuff in and went back to work in the back of the laundromat. His heart dropped to his stomach when he heard a blood curdling scream come from the front. He thought she cut her finger off or worse. So he ran up front and she said, "a spider". I think Dave was relieved and annoyed at the same time. Apparently the spider came in with her stuff among other things like leaves, sticks etc. Some people must rake their laundry with their leaves because many people haul stuff in looking like that. She did leave some blankets for Dave to wash. She made sure to ask Dave to wash his hands before taking them out of the dryer to fold because they are for her dog and he can't be exposed to bacteria (I would add - wash your hands after you fold them if you saw the cleanliness level of the dog stroller, her body and her van).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Little Kujo

Okay - so today on our walk my sweet little hound dog who loves everyone to the point of being annoying tried to viciously attack a non-threatening middle aged woman walking by. These attacks used to be attacks of love - jumping and licking - but now are bordering on killer dog. I know the cause. She's been increasingly like this since I've been pregnant and she's doing her job protecting her mother and little brother. It's quite surprising and scary. Especially to a frail framed woman who looks like the wind could blow her over. Here is this cute, medium sized, friendly enough seeming dog that lunges at you like a rabid raccoon. I can't even hold Maggie back. I don't think she actually bit this woman but came very close. I know it's not funny but with my sick personality it kind of is. This woman probably has no idea that I'm pregnant because I was wearing a winter coat. She thought, "Oh, here comes a nice young woman with her cute little dog". Which turned into "there's the town psycho who walks Kujo around town so her neighbors can get attacked".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We went to our doctor's appointment last Wednesday. Dave was the only guy there this time. He did really well and even participated in the game. We played charades on the discomforts of pregnancy. Dave got sore breasts. It was quite the hit of the class. The baby's heartbeat was great and always makes me laugh. You could hear him kicking as well (I can feel it too). Everything seems to be in line for March. I did gain more weight than I thought. It was a really weird situation. I thought the scale was off and used the upstairs one. It said the same weight but the other woman who said it was off said she was 8 lbs lighter upstairs. Oh well. We have thought of many names but are not telling anyone our choices.

Friday night I went to the Pen Bay Christian School Auction. They did a really good job and had some great items up for auction... it was just a little long for me to sit for 3 hours. I am not sure it's because I'm pregnant or just plain don't have the attention span. I did pick up some gifts.

Saturday we had our first youth night at our house for our church. Our friend Zach came over to make pizzas and he did a fabulous job. The young people had fun playing with our basketball game in our garage and are looking forward to more activities. Our church is small and we don't really have anything for preteens and teens. Dave and I are hoping to fill that gap with God's leading. My wreath making idea wasn't such a draw for the young women. Why? I don't get it. It think it's so much fun to go tipping for Balsam branches and make beautiful Christmas wreaths. My aunt Stacey taught me how and that's how I made my Christmas money when I was 14 and 15. We used to have a blast. Freeze to death but have a blast.

Sunday I was pretty drained. Church was great but we made the mistake of eating at the Olde Mill Diner again. The food is outstanding, you just definitely have to go to bed after. So we didn't do much Sunday afternoon. We didn't even have anything for dinner and we were so lazy (didn't want to go to the store) that Dave decided to create some fried rice concoction from the bare minimum ingredients we had. It wasn't bad.

I am reading Hudson Taylor's autobiograhpy. AMAZING. It's not very long but I have learned so much from his life. His writing has really convicted me to pray more and trust God to answer in stead of taking matters into my own hands and making things happen. He really learned that at a young age preparing to go on the missionfield to China. He saw God's faithfulness time and time again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This morning when I woke up I was thinking about certainties. My pastor from Baltimore preached a message called Certain Certainites (probably before I was born but it was such a hallmark it is still being sold). I have listened to that but can't remember it well and am not talking about that. It's easy to think about death when someone so close to you dies. I think it's so weird how I deal with it or maybe how many people deal with it. I am walking down the street with my dog and a leaf blows past me and then all of the sudden something is triggered inside of me. Oh my brother is dead. I haven't talked to him in over four months and I am not going to talk to him again on this earth. I think it's so strange that death is a certainty that WE ALL face but like to pretend it's not there. I think our culture makes things that aren't certain the certainties and things are certain not certainties. It is certain that I must have a mother and father to be created but it's not certain I will have a mother and father in my life. It is certain that I must sleep but it's not certain that my house will be there when I get home. It's certain that I must do something to make money - either fill out government forms to be on welfare, go to work or build a business. It's not certain that my business will be there tomorrow. It may be certain that I love my child with all my heart but it's not certain my child will live through the next hour. Some people look at creation (they don't call it that) as a certainty - the mountains, the oceans - but the grass withers and the flower fades. We all have dreams and part of our humanity believes that it's too inconvenient of a time for us to die. I haven't finished high school yet, I haven't become a teacher yet, I'm not married yet, I don't have children yet, I don't have my PhD yet, my child is still so young, I have plans to travel. I can tell you that my brother had many plans when God took him. We talked about them when I was with him a week before he died. He was planning on selling his house in Rockland and buying a house in Virginia. He was planning on spending the weekends at my house if I moved to Maryland. He had a plane ticket to go marry his fiancee and bring her back to Virginia. He was planning on coming to my cousin's wedding in Maine. Tomorrow or even the next minute is not promised to us. Whether we believe it or not, it is certain there is a God. It is not certain if you will spend eternity with Him. It is certain that all of the prophecies in the Bible have come true and there are still more to come. If you read the Bible, it is certain that God loves you and God has given us a certain way to know Him. God gave His only Son to die, shed His blood and pay for our mistakes past, present and future. It is certain that if we believe on Him, we will spend eternity with Him no matter what our failure is. I like to tell people this life is so short. We can't take our dog with us (I wish), our degrees, our money, or anything but our relationship with God when we die. Shouldn't we get to know Him on this earth? That's my second train of thought after I think my brother is dead. I remind myself that he knew the living God and is in heaven now. I will be with him soon enough.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

It seems weird to say Happy Veterans Day. Happy doesn't sound appropriate. THANK YOU is more like it. Thank you to all of the men and women who have served during war time and all of the families that have sacrificed through that service. Thank you to all the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom and all the families that lost someone so dear. My late brother was a veteran and taught me a lot about serving our country and being patriotic.

Monday, November 10, 2008


My mother took me to see Beauty and the Beast yesterday afternoon. Sherman, Vicki, Molly, Wayne and Sam went too. The Camden Hills High School always does such a great job on their musicals. The acting, costumes and set were amazing. It was such a treat. Thank you Mom!

Dave and I spent some time in Augusta looking at baby stuff in Target. It's so overwhelming. I guess we'll just start chipping away at what we need. Dave is really getting into it. He found the cutest outfits on BabyGapdotcom. Of course he'll grow out of them in no time, so it doesn't make sense to buy all of his clothes there.... but a few really cute outfits ... who can resist. By the way, if you're wondering the name, we are not disclosing that. Too many opinions. We have the next Dr's appointment on Wednesday. I told Dave he didn't have to come. It's mostly the mothers but fathers are welcome too. Last time I told Dave all the dads were coming and only one other showed up. When we were discussing the next appointment I told him I was fine going by myself. I really meant it. He really wants to go, though. I think it's so cute.

I am not exactly sure what's happening with the planning of Chris' funeral. I haven't talked to Zac or Steph in a few days. Last I heard they were having a service on Matinicus and one on the mainland as well. It's a little more complicated than someone just dying because they have to file a missing person report and I am not sure what goes along with that. Please keep them in your prayers. It's so hard to lose someone so young, so unexpectedly and especially without saying good bye. Unfortunately, I and they have been through this less than four months before Chris passed away. They definitely need love and prayers. I know with Vinny it was very painful and shocking for the first week or so and then when reality set in, the pain got worse. There's nothing easy about this type of situation. Good things do come out of it. And I know more than ever in my life that God is faithful. I take is plan willingly and thankfully because there wouldn't be this much of a loss or pain if my memories of Vinny weren't such a blessing. Like Job said to his wife in Job 2 - can we take the good from God and not take the bad? I wouldn't trade one second of the pain if it meant I had to trade one small part of my relationship with Vinny. I just pray Steph can find comfort in the arms of God as well.

I have 7 more pages of My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas. I am totally blown away by this man's life. I highly recommend the book and I don't think you'll look at things the same way after reading it. While I respect the President Elect and will pray for him as he prepares for his new office and while he's in office, his life is such a contrast to Clarence Thomas'. Clarence Thomas has never had the victim mentality and let me tell you, he suffered A LOT. My next book will by The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. I am so excited to start it. This is an amazing Chinese man who has impacted millions of people all over the world.

I am also excited about our Thanksgiving plans. Lord willing we will be staying in PA at my cousin Rye's apartment. Her mother and my aunt has been in a special program for months and Rye hasn't seen her. She is getting out for the day and we are going to surprise her with our visit. I can't wait. Rye and I will be cooking a feast all day and then are looking forward to a Scrabble marathon. I have to admit, I use to be the champ but I have been out of practice for so long I am anticipating getting crushed. We'll see. I don't think Dave cares so much for Scrabble, but I am sure it will be nice for him to get away after the tough year it has been.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Baby Umstead - 22 Weeks

We have new ultrasound pictures - this isn't one of them. We did find out the sex this time (November 5, 2008 - just before 3 PM) but will leave that a mystery for a little while.

Baby Umstead is doing great - moving a lot and still receiving gifts from Grammie Sue. Grammie Sue gave Baby a car seat - now we have two which is great. Mom and Dad are glad they can finally go shopping for Baby. The next dr's appointment is November 12.

4 Months

It's been 4 months today since Vinny went home to be with the Lord. It has been the most challenging 4 months of my life, but God IS faithful. I don't know what I would have done without my relationship with God. I miss Vinny very much and, although I have accepted this as God's plan, God's will, sometimes the thought of never seeing him again on this earth is very overwhelming. I had one of those nights last night. It is very comforting, though, to know that Vinny isn't feeling any of those emotions.

Love and miss you Vinny!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Comment on the Election

"Remember that it took a President Carter to bring us to a President Reagan"
I stole this quote from a blog I read and she couldn't remember who said it. I like it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"I Didn't Drink the Kool-Aid" as Vinny Would Say

I didn't drink the Obama Kool-Aid today as Vinny always said. We'll see what happens. I miss being able to discuss these things with him. He would have been so worked up today - he's way past that now.

A Halloween Eve Night with Special Friends

Elvis singing
Stacy & Louie
Shane & Vicki
Scott & Kelly
Dave as a Pirate
Louie dancing with the witches
Melvin dancing with his girlfriend
the gang
Melvin and Kelly
Scott the Scarecrow, Rachael as Dorothy, Louie as Tinman, and Melvin the Lion
We're off to see the Wizard

Monday, November 3, 2008

From our Muslim friend in Turkey

hey rachael and dave, in the election you better vote for Mccain, because after i heard about acceptance of armenian genocide by obama (for gaining armenian lobbies vote), i understand that obama is a big liar. It is not so easy to accept it because big countries cannot be governed by childish decisions and if accepted USA will loose Turkey the most powerful ally in the middle east and around israel, and will stay alone with iran, russia, china and forced to trust arab ( they always hit back), So it is suicide to accept genocide in the long term but obama has short brain to govern USA, and it is just a unrealistic decision by obama and i am sure if he will be voted (i think he will be president) he will give many many more bad decisions about USA and the world.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Acts 27:25

I fell in love with this verse in Bible College. It's so simple and so true. Believing God. It can be applied to any time and any circumstance, whether good or bad, in my life and in your life.

Acts 27:25 I believe it will be as God has said.

What has God said?

God never said that if we follow Him we won't have trials, we won't have tragedies. He told us our life will be as His life was on this earth. The best news is God already paid the price for us and His grace is sufficient, so all we do is rest in His plan. Of course, that sometimes is easier said than done. But He teaches us to trust Him even though we may be broken hearted, to trust Him even though it's not clear why things are happening, trust Him even though the pain is deep. Thank You God that I can trust You!

Proverbs 3:5&6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

1 Thes 5:16 - 18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.