Monday, July 30, 2007

Beach Bums

I did it! I survived a trip to the beach with the in-laws. It was nice, just the usual frustrations of everyone wanting to do different things at different times. Along with going to the beach, we went to the NASCAR Cafe and Speedpark, and all of the boys enjoyed that (TJ included!) Th drove his first real car, and it was hilarious. I so wish my video camera wasn't full or else I would have recorded that momentous event. He drove like an old man, gunning the gas then slowly releasing it to drive really slow! It was quite humorous. Another kid crashed into him and ended up pushing him with his car to go faster. It was a fun time for the kids despite the heat and humidity.

We had a family picnic with the in-laws yesterday. It was okay- extremely humid. Poor TJ had to chase the boys around because where the shelter is, there really isn't much for the kids to do. We had an egg toss, and TJ and I came nowhere close to winning. However, I think we tossed it the longest because we tossed the yolk until it crumbled and flew into tiny pieces. I will post pictures at a later date. For now, Ta is throwing a tantrum and T.G. is preparing herself for breakfast.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Here I am!

I am moving to Blogspot because I can more easily control who reads my blog. I am not too sure how to transfer my old posts over to here, so for now, bear with me. If you'd like to read my old blog, visit Permission is restricted, so please click the link to request access. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eternal Life

It’s been a week since Mark passed away. Since his death, I have been reflecting on his life and the example for living he left behind. Mark’s funeral was more difficult than I thought it would be. I cried from the moment I saw the crowded parking lot. The funeral was a celebration of his life, but what made it sad was just knowing that this wonderful, godly man was no longer going to be sharing in any of our lives. The church was packed with military members, family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, all of whom came out to honor this dear man. I knew he was an officer in the Army, but truthfully, I had no idea he was a Colonel until after his death. When Mark and his family first began visiting our church, our pastor asked if he should address him as Colonel or Dr. Mark Stiling. Mark’s response, “Just call me Mark.” That is a testimony of how humble he lived his life. He wasn’t caught up in titles. I could give example after example of what an awesome human being Mark was, but it still wouldn’t do justice. If you didn’t know him, you missed out on knowing a spectacular person. If you did know him, then you know how blessed you truly are. Mark served the Lord through encouraging and praying for others. I wish I could have encouraged and prayed for him one last time, and told him what a blessing he was to our family. I hope out of Mark’s death comes life, and by that I mean eternal life. Read on.

It is comforting to know that Mark is no longer in pain or having to go through cancer treatments. Instead, he is walking with Jesus down the streets of gold that make up Heaven. That is only possible because Mark had a saving knowledge of Christ. He (Jesus) died so that others could live. The Bible says that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and the payment for this sin is death (Romans 6:23). But, the Bible also teaches that Jesus took our sin on himself and died in our place. He was our substitute (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Although we try to earn our way into both Heaven and God’s good favor by doing good works (going to church, being kind, giving to the poor/needy, etc), Scripture teaches it is only through faith in what Christ has done (died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, was buried, and on the 3rd day rose again) that saves us from eternal death, or Hell (Ephesians 2:8-9). The “work” God requires is this: Believe in the One He has sent (John 6:28-29).

If one person reading this gets saved, then Mark’s death was not in vain. He lived his life to the fullest, sharing the love of God with all he met. Even in his death, Mark is still serving the Lord.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Mark, a dear husband, father, son, brother, uncle and true man of God went home to be with the Lord on July 17, 2007. Mark was born in Buffalo, N.Y., to Major Stewart and Miriam Stiling as the fourth of five children in a military family, living in several places until high school graduation. A decision he made for Christ at a young age set the direction and plan for his life. He earned a BS in Pharmacy at MUSC and after a few years working in pharmacy, he followed his father and grandfather as a career military officer. He served on active duty for 12 years with the U.S. Army as a pharmacy officer, Ass't Director and Director of Pharmacy Services. During this time he met his wife, Valarie and together they returned to MUSC, where Mark earned his Doctorate in Pharmacy. His total service, active and reserve duty, was 29 years. His last assignment, after achieving the rank of Colonel, was the 3297th U.S. Army Hospital Detachment Commander in the U.S. Army Reserves. His current employment was a Regional Manager, Medical Affairs with Allergan Labs.

While Mark loved the military and his pharmacy career, his greatest joy came from being a husband to Valarie for 21 years and as a father to sons, Kirkland Buist, Max, Cody and Jacob and his daughter, Kassie, all of whom survive him. In addition to his immediate family he is also survived by his parents, sisters, Joanne Henry, Suzanne Brookshire, Kim Baldwin and brother, Ben Stiling. An extended family of sisters and brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces and cousins survive him as well.

Mark was very active in his church and used his spiritual gift to teach others about God's Word. A memorial service to celebrate his life will take place at Harvest Baptist Church, 153 Miller Pond Road, Rock Hill at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 21, 2007. The family will greet friends in the fellowship hall following the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the church.
Whitesell Funeral Home is serving the family.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


A friend of ours from church went to be with the Lord yesterday afternoon. We got the news last evening, and found out all the details this evening at church. It’s just crazy because we just saw him Sunday at church. He has been battling cancer for a while, but his prognosis was stable. He and his daughter were running some errands on Monday and he started acting funny. He was rushed to the ER and it was determined that he was in the early stages of a stroke. Apparently his cancer spread to his brain, and the tumor in his head ruptured. No one knew the cancer was in his head, so he was literally a walking time-bomb.

Mark was such an inspiration. Even though he was fighting for his life, he always put on a good face and had an upbeat attitude. Despite the pain he endured during his treatments, he always took the time to find out about others. He inquired about my dad on Sunday, and encouragingly patted me on the back. Like most people, I just wish we could have said good-bye. He left behind a wife and 4 children, the youngest of whom is either 8 or 9.
We’ve been praying for him as a family for well over a year. Our pastor left a message on our machine, so when we got home last night, I played the messages as usual. I wasn’t expecting to hear that kind of news! I immediately began to cry and felt sick to my stomach. TJ was sort of in shock, and poor Th had a million and one questions! I am thankful that he has a basic understanding of Heaven because it makes death an easier topic to discuss with him. He reassured both TJ and I that Mark was with Jesus “in his mansion and there’s no more pain or tears”. How true it is! Thank you, Lord, for your providence during this time, and thank you for the opportunity to know such a wonderful, God-fearing man and his family.

Please keep his family in your prayers, especially on Saturday afternoon when we hold the funeral. Pray the service would be God-honoring and a blessing to those who attend.

Monday, July 16, 2007


We picked up Ta’s glasses today. He fought me about wearing them as soon as we got them! He didn’t even wear them long enough to get the nose piece adjusted. We met TJ at the park and had a picnic, and on the way home I stopped for a large bag of M&M’s. For each minute Ta wears his glasses, he gets an M&M. I started it after he woke from his nap. It has worked well, and he’s been keeping them on for longer periods of time. He looks adorable, if I do say so myself!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Encouraging Words

I received this email from my pastor, and I want to share it with you. It may not seem like much to you, but it was very encouraging to me, especially this week since TJ was gone.

Thanks for all you and TJ do -- I often sit back and "laugh" with you as I see you deal with Th and Ta -- it so reminds me of Gretchen with Marshall and Joe (and then Andrew) -- of course they had Elizabeth trying to be a second mother to them and driving them all crazy -- so goes rearing children!!
God bless,

I know parenting is difficult no matter what the age, but the closer in age the children are, the more difficult it is. In addition to the ages of the children, their personalities greatly contribute to the role of the parent. If you have ever met Ta, then you know what a handful he is! He is very strong-willed!! Rather than break his will, I hope to redirect it to serve the Lord. This email encouraged me because my pastor’s children are all very close in age, and one of them has a personality similar to Ta. Gretchen (Pastor’s wife) is such a godly woman so it means a lot to me to know she struggled like I do. I know everyone struggles, but most days I feel like an utter failure! This email gave me the encouragement I needed because all of their children have grown to serve the Lord in different capacities. It reminds me of the verse, “I planted the seed, but God made it grow.” ~ 1 Cor. 3:6 As a mom, I am trying to get the seed planted in my children so God can grow and use them. A Christian is useless if he isn’t growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord! My prayer for my children is that God would use them to do His work to His glory.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I feel for those who have traveling spouses. I appreciate mine all the more since he left yesterday afternoon. I cried like a baby and didn’t want to let him go. I was not looking forward to facing my children alone. . . them against me! My dad flew in today for 8 days. He tries to help, but he still doesn’t replace my husband. We work together as a team, and now that I am the team, I miss my teammate! I lost my self-control as I was getting the kids ready for bed. I use the term self-control rather than patience because that’s the truth of it. I yelled, I angrily and sinfully performed tasks, and I had a rotten attitude. The Holy Spirit brought these verses to my mind, so please pray for me to recall them tomorrow as I face the same trials. Also pray TJ has a safe trip home Friday. Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Summer Fun

We visited TJ’s great aunt and uncle this past Saturday. We haven’t been to see them in a year, so this was their first time meeting T.G. We had a great time! Their children and grandchildren live in New York, so they enjoy when we come to visit. My kids love spending time with them, and love being spoiled for the day! Aunt Joan & Uncle Joe live in a beautiful development. There are 7 lakes within the community ranging in size from very small to very large. Along with a pool, clubhouse, playground, and other amenities, there are several beach areas to swim in the various lakes. The boys had a great time swimming and playing in the sand. Along with swimming and playing, they also enjoying tractor rides on the riding mower. Just as we were leaving to go to the beach, it began to rain. Since we were already in our swimsuits, we played in the front yard in the rain. We had a blast! It was a first for the boys, and it’s been a while for TJ and me. We played tag in the front yard. It was nice to act like kids and run around like crazy people!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Eye See, Eye See

Our anniversary was nice. TJ brought me a dozen red roses. We were going to go out for dinner but we couldn’t get a sitter. It actually worked out better because Rock Hill's Independence Day celebration was Tuesday night, and we would have missed it! That’s one thing I love about living in such a small town! We didn’t have to fight traffic to get there or back home, and the “crowd” is very small, maybe only a thousand people. Most people go to Charlotte to watch the fireworks, so the atmosphere is much more kid-friendly! My friend, her youngest daughter, and her husband joined us for the celebration. Let me back up to earlier in the day. . . Ta had an appointment at the eye doctor, and TJ informed me that he wouldn’t be able to go with me because he was so busy at work. I called my friend to see if she would keep Th with her so I could devote my energy to Ta. I had a feeling he was going to need to have his eyes dilated, and I knew he’d be apprehensive about being at the doctor to begin with. She said yes, and we went on to make the arrangements. I didn’t have any money to pay her, so when she said her husband was working late that night, I invited her to join us for dinner and then head to the fireworks. It all worked out well- she wasn’t alone all day and night, and I was able to give Ta my full attention.

Now, about Ta. I thank the Lord that He brought us to this particular eye doctor. This is ahuge answer to prayer! I have noticed for a very long time that his eyes would sometimes cross. Family members (I won’t name names) dismissed me, but I was persistent. He didn’t do it all the time, but when he did do it, it lasted only a split second. I informed the pediatrician, and she had me keep a log to monitor when he would do it. I began to see a pattern. It was mainly first thing in the morning, around lunch, and in the evenings. The connecting piece to these times is that it is when he is tired. She (the pediatrician) gave me a referral to the eye doctor. Sure enough, Ta’s right eye crosses because he is near-sighted in his left eye and far-sighted in his right eye. When he looks at things close up (using his left eye), his right eye can’t focus on it so it sort of “checks out”, as the doctor put it! He told me if I hadn’t brought him in, it would have been much worse as time passed, to the point of not being able to correct it. He will be wearing glasses full-time from now on. We ordered him a pair on Tuesday and they should be in sometime next week. I’ll post pictures when we get them. That’s about all for now. We are going to the pool today with some friends, so I need to get a picnic lunch prepared before the baby wakes. Have a great day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Lifetime of Love

Tomorrow is my 8 year anniversary. If someone would have told me 8 years ago that I’d be married, own a home, attend church 3 times per week, have 3 kids under the age of 4, and stay home with those kids, I would have looked at them like they were crazy and laughed! However, that is the reality of my life, and I am so blessed! Time has passed so quickly. I remember meeting my in-laws for the first time- after we were married! We drove from California to South Carolina and then up to New York for a 3-week “honeymoon”. On the way back home to Cali, TJ got deathly ill and I had to drive the entire way. I am the type that likes to take the scenic route and make the best out of long road trips. TJ is the complete opposite and just wants to hurry up and get there. I took advantage of him being sick and made a short stop on our way home at some salt flats outside of Salt Lake City. He thanks me today for that. We have pictures of us standing on the salt flat, and some of us actually at the Great Salt Lake.

Memories- they’re great, aren’t they!