From a first time blogger, thoughts about life from an American missionary now living in the US after years in Russia and doing a lot of back and forth. Family stuff, Christian content, sports innuendo and lots of quotes from good books.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sonic Guys

Ok, Dad's finally got a few minutes to himself and is able to catch up on his You Tube fix. I love the Sonic guys and their commercials. I just crack up at their stuff. I hate Sonic but I'll almost buy a burger there simply based on these two yahoos. Check out their stuff online by clicking here.


Life has not totally stopped since Anna's birth. There are still 3 brothers here who keep us laughing, learning, and praying a lot. A few photos of how they've entertained themselves since Anna came our way on Thursday night.

Let's start with Aidan...he is training to join a children's roaming circus as a magician/stunt man. We like to fill his wagon up with water, have Aidan put his head under it, balance on his head and arms as he raises his feet upward, and then Benja and Nate pull the wagon at full speed over the bumpiest parts of our yard. So far he's done very well. On to Nate...

Nate has a passion for good dental hygiene. He's been working on a new technique for low cost cleanings that anyone can do with a garden hose, jet spray, and a 911 number close by. Other than some surface tissue scarring he's well on his way to perfecting this technique. We're sure that once the ADA approves this HUGE money is a comin' to his parents as a result of his innovative thinking. Let's hope so anyway.

There are times when the big brother has to lay down the law. This day was one of those days. Benja took it upon himself quite regularly to gun down the younger brothers when they got out of line. Here, Nate cowers for cover as "The Marshall" hunts him down. Nate was fortunate to find some garage refuse to hide behind. Aidan, as you can tell, is trying to get away from the scene as quickly as possible before the Marshall hunts him down using his Head-Bobbing-Circus-Mobile as an escape vehicle.

So, just know that while we are very, very, very excited about Anna's arrival, life does go on in a very normal fashion...


Sunday, May 27, 2007

6 of us

Five no more. We're 6 now. Here on our bed celebrating Anna's 2 day old birthday are me (Rob), Anna, Traci, Aidan, Nate, and Benja. Three days in things are going quite well. Aidan is handling not being the baby pretty well. He really is proud to have a baby sister. The other two are as well.
This morning at church Benja, Nate, and Aidan all had pictures of each one of them with their baby sister. They loved showing the picture to folks when people would ask. Obviously, the parents are proud. Apparently, the brothers are too.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Day Two of SHE IS HERE...

May 24 was the day it all changed around here. Cammo and t-shirts began the slow retreat against pink and lace. Twas a day we won't soon forget.

I did forget though to give the vitals. 8 lbs 8 oz. and 21 inches (3.8 kg and 53 cm for our European readers). Dark hair and lots of it are typical for Browne babies at birth. Nate was more of a blonde at birth which has held true 5 years onward. Anna has plenty to start out with for sure.

Many have asked if we'll call her "Anna" or "Anna Grace". A more pressing question seems to be if we'll say "Anna" with the Russian sound (Ah na) or the American sound (Aan na). I lean towards the Russian sound just because I've been saying the name that way for 15 years. The rest of the family seems bent on the American sound. Stay tuned for this still developing story as Daddy doesn't like it when he does not get his way...

She will be Anna though sans Grace. At least for now. I think. We'll see.

More to come...


Friday, May 25, 2007

Here SHE is

Well, after only 18 hours of total labor and only 6 hours of active labor and only 8 minutes of pushing, Anna Grace Browne is here. Home births allow you a lot of priviledges and we took big time advantage of one of them this time. That's the birthing pool. Wow. What a blessing that was. A big, high sided inflatable pool (far from a jacuzzi but about the same idea sans the jets) set up right in the middle area of our bathroom allowed Traci to rest in warm water through out and even give birth to Anna in the water. From water to water. Kinda neat. After watching four of these births "live and up close" I'm still in shock as to how the whole thing comes off.

Home births also allow you to live on no one's time schedule but God's and the baby's (those two normally work together really well) while letting the Mom dictate the where's and how's of the whole affair. That has always been a huge plus of this whole thing to us. Traci was as comfy as she could be and that made all the difference in the world.

Having 3 little boys in the other room waiting, wondering, listening beside the door...

...literally, added a new demension to this whole thing too. Seeing Aidan as a big brother is just as amazing as realizing I finally have a daughter. From baby of the family to big boy in a matter of hours.

Nate with two younger sibs now has been freed from being "the" middle child (really a horrible choice of words as Nate never seemed to have an issue with being "the" middle child) and now has two under him to lead, protect, and love on. Nate's gentle heart and kind spirit were very evident when he came into the bathroom/birthroom just about 1 minute after Anna was born. He kinda wanted to cry, kinda wanted to laugh, and kinda didn't know what to do. I hear ya Nate!

And Benja...oh Benja. He and Traci have always had this really special connection. 26 hours of hard, active labor will do that to you I guess. Anyway, Benja came in to see Traci one more time about 3 hours before Anna was born. He broke down. Mom broke down. They just held and loved on each other for a few minutes before another contraction finally pulled them apart. Benja is an amazing kid and the perfect biggest brother in this family we know as the Brownes.

As for the name...Anna (meaning gracious or merciful) is a name we've had picked out for our girl since before Benja was born. As we never find out until they show us themselves what the gender of the baby is we always have or try to have a boy and girl name picked out. We've had Anna for about 8 1/2 years now. That was a no brainer. The challenge on this one was a boy's name. We'd still not come up with anything and had decided about a week ago to wait and get a look at him before naming him. This way that stress never had to be dealt with. Anna is also a very popular name in Russia which bodes well for her future life. She's the only one of us that has a name that works like she's from either place though Benjamin is an old Jewish name that we have seen two Russians named as over the years. Anna is also the name of more than a few dear friends in Russia including Anna Shorina (main strategic partner of WWYC and a great friend to the Browne family for almost 7 years now). Grace was the name of my late father's mother. Maw Maw, as I knew her, was a strong and as dear a woman as I have ever known. I am honored to have children now that carry my father's name, my father's father's name, my father's father's father's name, my mother's father's name, my father-in-law's name, my father-in-law's father's name and now my father's mother's name as well. Anna Grace Browne. Welcome to the world!

Obviously...more pictures and random musings of a dad with things to say still to come...

(Hours later) More musings continued...

In a home birth you do most of the same have-to's that you do in a hospital. The weighing of the baby is always something we enjoy. All 4 of ours have been weighed the same way in the same sling actually. The baby lies in the sling and a scale hooks on to the end. All of our kids have been totally still and quiet during this. It apparently reenacts the feel of the womb pretty accurately. From there you get 8 lbs 8 oz. Maybe a picture is the best way to describe it:

Papa Tim and Mimi are proud to have their 6th grandchild and 2nd grand daughter...

Now...a word about midwives. Debi Thomas (the blonde on the left of the picture) has delivered all 4 our kids. Debi is an awesome woman of God, amazing mom (5 kids) and grandmother (6 grandkids). We met Debi when Traci was 7 months pregnant with Benja. She is a woman of strong conviction but not of any personal agenda. We were almost sold on the home birth thing at this point but meeting her and hearing her share stories of the nearly 500 births she had assisted in pretty much sold us on the spot. She is a dear, dear friend of ours now and our boys have a unique connection to her that's hard for me explain without getting teary eyed. She's had a different assistant on each of our four births as she is constantly mentoring younger midwives in the art, science, and ministry of midwifery. We've been blessed to share her with a number of friends who have investigated home births and most of them have chosen to let Debi assist them in theirs. I just can't say enough about Debi and midwifery in general. They are such submissive to the mom and desiring to let God, the mom's body, and the baby rule the day. No hurry, no outside concerns, no nothing other than focusing on loving and serving the mom and baby. I could go on and on.'s another traditional picture we love...the after glow!

(Sorry for my hair)

Nan also is pretty pumped. 7 grandchildren in less than 8.5 years. 5 boys, 2 girls, 1 more due in October and 1 in heaven with Jesus hanging out with my Dad.

The world's longest blog post will be continued a bit later...


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Baby's Arrival

Well, we're in a holding pattern for Baby Browne #4 right now. Traci feels great but is ready to get the deal done. She had a few contractions last night but, as with all of our kids, when the sun came up the action stopped. It'll start again this evening probably.

There's lots to be learned in these waiting times. We actually treasure these times for what the Lord teaches us. Lots of "his time is perfect" stuff seems to come our way. Apparently, we need to learn this lesson once again. It's a recurring theme in our life. At church last Sunday I shared this very idea thinking it was for everyone else there. I guess that was meant for us actually.

Anyway, she's fine and we're going on with our day as is.

Stay tuned...


Thursday, May 17, 2007

From my friend Barrett came these words this morning:

"The cost of quitting will be a life of peaceful stagnation. We sons of eternity just cannot afford such a thing."

AW Tozer from That Incredible Christian


Monday, May 14, 2007

What If...

Just kinda thinking out loud today about...

  • I often ask team members and co-workers to think about what our organization and teams would be like if everyone on them had their (or my) attitude and gave their (or my) effort. Would they be better? Worse? The same? What if everyone in my church had my attitude towards...the homeless...orphans...other believers...lost non-believers...seeking non-believers...malcontent believers...and on and on. Would anything ever get done? Would anything change? I'm nearly afraid to know.

  • I've rubbed shoulders recently with folks who don't think like I think. They seem to have arrived, through sincere seeking and struggle, at a "stance on stuff" (that's a theological term I learned in grad school way back when) that I honestly feel I've escaped from. They're passionate though. That's for sure. They're sincere too. They've studied it out as well. This is not a lightly regarded landing place for them. It reminds me again that the greatest question in the realm of issues and stances for me is not where you/I land or what you/I think but what will you/I do with the other Christ lovers and Christ seekers who have worked out with fear and trembling their own answers just to find that you/we don't end up seeing things the same way? May grace abound.

  • My wife is posing some of the most thought provoking questions I'm dealing with right now. Why is that? I'll credit it to two main things (among many). First, she is constantly in the Word and prayer. It just where she lives. She truly has no time for anything that is trivial or mindless (though I give her plenty of chances). Secondly, she is daily knee and heart deep into home schooling 3 boys. The oldest, he's 8, is a real thinker. What, when, where, how, and why are just the tip of the iceberg for him. I think he stirs her thoughts which helps her stir mine. Thank you God for Traci.

  • We're just days away from the birth of our fourth child. I remember just after Benjamin was born. We were flying from Dallas to Atlanta after going to some dear friend's wedding. A guy sitting beside us on the plane saw how happy we were with our little guy. He said he had 4 and loved them dearly. I sat there and thought, "Four kids? How in the world? What does he do for a living? How can he be on a plane when his wife it at home with 4 kids?" 8 years later here I stand on the brink of my own #4. "How in the world can he" has turned into "anywhere in the world will we." "What does he do for a living" has been recast as "Wow is God ever a great provider!" and I've spent more time on planes the last 6 months than I ever thought I would in any 5 year period back when we were flying together back from that wedding. Be careful what you gawk at because it in you just might find yourself one day.

Reflecting...a dangerous past time for a guy like me...


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Just had a gut level post locked and loaded on reflection. Deleted it. Sure did. Right off the map of the universe. It's not coming back. I'm bummed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What Happened to My CMT?

Before talking about reflecting...I saw Bon Jovi on my CMT this morning! What's up with that? Crossover is one thing but Bon Jovi on CMT just ain't right. Some things are sacred and Larry the Cable Guy's channel is one of 'em. Back to Jersey JBJ! I can't properly reflect when you're on my CMT!!!!

(Kudos to Jon Bon Jovi though for his work with Delta Airlines and Habitat For Humanity. That's a good thing. Him being on CMT though is not)

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Moving on...

I don't want to spend too much more time jabbing about my trip to Novosibirsk. It's worthy of it but other things are on my heart right now.

I'm back in ATL though after a fast but great trip. My dear friend since 9th grade, Jim Pack, and I returned on Saturday night to Atlanta. Getting home to Traci and the boys was the best. A very large pillow fight served as the welcome home party for Dad. I got beat bad but that was kinda the point I think. I love my family.

As you might know the family will be growing in a few weeks. Traci is two weeks away from child #4. While we've been locked and loaded on a girl's name for about 8 years now we're running out of boy's names. Waking up at 4 a.m. this morning though with a name on my heart for our baby if it is a boy I'm excited to share it with Traci a bit later. Stay's arrival, name, and relevant stats will be posted here.

Upcoming...thoughts of reflection. Reflecting on reflection is what's been on my heart the last few weeks. I'll share more later.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Now This Is Camp!

Well we have another (4th in 6 years) camp site for our WWYC outreach this summer. Someday we will finally find a place to call home. Till then we do our Israel imitation as we wander through the Siberian countryside looking and waiting for home. Here are some pictures to enjoy. By the way I am very, very excited about this location. It's a real children's pioneer camp instead of an adult vacation facility we try to convert into a children's camp. Here we go...

This is me above welcoming you into the safe and cozy confines of our dear camp ground.

Just outside the front entrance to the camp is a soccer field that is ours to use as we wish. I anticipate some races, competition, walking and talking, and maybe a surprise or two taking place here. Some of our past futbol fields have looked more like an unkept meadow than a real sports field. This one is I like...for many reasons.

This is something I have always wanted at our campgrounds but have never had. It is a fire pit. We know both from scripture and from our own experiences that some very meaningful conversations have taken place around fires. Think about the chats you have had with your dad, friends, or maybe even a child around a fire. We have one of these in our back yard here in Monroe and it has already become a favorite place for me and my boys to chat about anything on our hearts. Think also about some of things that Jesus shared with his followers around fires in the New Testament. It was kinda the coffee house of his day.

Just to the right you'll see the living quarters for some of our team members and kids this year. There are 3 of these little houses on the camp territory. Each has 24 beds, two toilets, 3 showers, and a common area. Very cozy. Some of our teachers will live in these houses with the kids and some teachers will live in a separate facility. As said earlier, this is a real children's camp with things like swing sets and slides. This will make a big difference in our program this year I think. Free time will be useful time and not just lost time.

Do you know what this is? It's snow! In shady areas around Novosibirsk (and the camp is obviously a shady place) you can sometimes find snow well into May. This glob of stuff under the pine straw is snow. Jim and I thought it was worthy of a picture. I promise though that it will be gone by July 1 when we move out to the camp ground to get set up before the kids come on July 4.

To the left is a room that some of our team members will stay in this year. There are 4 beds to a room, two night tables, 2 chairs, and a built in cabinet to hang stuff up in. It's very comfortable. The far wall will be repainted or wallpapered by the time we get there. The walls were recently painted in this room and there is a big window just behind me as I took this picture. Just a beautiful view. I really like our location this year.

This is probably one of my favorite things (other than the fire pit) about the facility this year. This is a building with 3 of 4 walls made out of glass. Lisa Hennessey, our Creation Station Curator, will have a great location to plan creative projects that children will work on as part of our teaching program. This building (and the whole camp ground) are exclusively ours during the camp which means no other kids or groups will be there. That means Lisa can unpack and let her creative talents flow for the whole time the camp is going on. This really, really, really is an important part of our program and I'm so happy to have a building that will support this aspect of our outreach.

The point of this picture is that the place is working hard to brighten up itself. An artist was working in this room while I was there painting all the walls in this common area a bright, green and yellow color. This camp ground sat closed for 12 years due to finding shortages after the fall. It's only in its 4th year of operation after such a long down time. I like to think we're ultimately bringing revival to a nation but it is also encouraging to know that this place will be revived as a result of the Lord's presence there through us and the kids this summer.

So that is a sneak peak at where we'll be this year. For those of you going, look forward to it. For those of you just checking in to see what's up, this is what's up.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rolling On...

Being back here is great. Not living in my flat is odd though. We are letting 4 single ladies live there so when I'm here I just live at the orphanage. When the family is here though we all live in the flat. Living at the orphanage definitely has its blessings though. The kids, the kids, the kids.

My friend Jim Pack is here with me on this trip. Supportive in prayer and finances for years he is now getting what all this is about. He is owning his own view of things here is a way to say it. It's moving to him for sure. I love being here with people for the first time. My eyes get a bit jaded sometimes. Theirs are pure and wide open looking to learn and grasp everything they can. Jim is blogging over at thepackboysdotbloggerdotcom if you want to check it out. His take on things here might be of interest to you.

The wifi card is about to run out so I gotta fun.

More later...