Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Many of my family and friends have been asking me what's this thing called PWOC that I spend a lot of time investing in and talking about. So I thought it was about time I share a little bit about it and why I'm so passionate about serving. Well,the first thing you should know,it's not just another military acronym, it's actually a ministry... Let me first explain a little about the Base chapel for those civilians out there. The chapel is the church on base/post which caters to all religions. The chaplains are basically in place for military member's freedom of religion. I know what you're already thinking...What?...The Giles at the Base Chapel... Chapels are notorious for watered down messages... You know-The whole church and state thing... Believe me this isn't the norm for us, even though on more than one occasion, we've been told we teach way too much love and grace, and not enough law... What? Isn't that what Jesus' ministry was all about?... Anyways that's a whole other blog.

In our 18 years in the military this is the first time we've attended the Chapel. Usually we find a church home off base in which we choose to get involved. We've found that Aviano, Italy is a bit unique. There's just not that many solid choices off base. We tried all the options, but didn't feel God leading us toward any of them. Hmmm.... So Tom and I prayed and decided that God must be calling us to work alongside the chaplains and military community. So here we are...At the Base Chapel...And let me tell you...This experience has been anything but watered down.

The first thing you need to know about the Base Chapel is the amount of turn-over we're constantly dealing with. Unlike most state-side churches we tend to gain or lose chaplains(pastors) and members of our congregation very frequently. Not just two or three, but sometimes half of the church. We also have a never ending list of people deployed somewhere at any given time. So our numbers can be very erratic. We've been here 2 years and have had 3 different chaplains in our church service alone, which makes it very hard to develop any sort of continuity. The fear of change and the unknown scares many people away. It's like building a church with an uninterviewed pastor, from the ground up, every year or so. But that's another day and another blog...

The Protestant side of the Chapel has three different services: Liturgical, Gospel, and Contemporary. Our family attends the Contemporary service. PWOC is the Protestant Women of the Chapel. The chapel also has CWOC which is the Catholic Women of the Chapel. Basically PWOC is a Christian Women's Ministry based and governed out of the chapel and totally funded by chapel tithes... which means no government money is used or given to us. Our budget is not subsidized by any means... Our members consist of all three services as well as many ladies attending churches off base. Most of you know my love and passion for women's ministry. It's so important for all of us to continually seek growth in our spiritual walk. Without growth we become stagnant or dry and it's very hard to share the "Good News" when we don't know what it is, or have any to share. Often for me just being held accountable and connecting with other Christian women has been exactly what I needed to get me through the tough seasons in my life. It has also been the very thing that's kept me grounded in God's Word and so faithful to His service all these years. A good women's ministry is even more important oversees where dynamic churches are not plentiful, husbands can be deployed for long periods of time, and family is so far away.

I became a member of PWOC about 2 years ago when I first started going to the Chapel. Tom was deployed for 81/2 months and I had to set out on my own. I attended one semester of Bible study and was then asked to lead a study.... Then I was asked to be on the Board as Publicity Chairman... Then I was nominated as Vice President/Programs... And two months ago I became the President of PWOC...

Within this time period I have been so blessed and amazed at all that God has done. I wasn't exactly sure I wanted all the responsibility at first, and fought it, but God knew better. What began as a hour and a half of weekly commitment in my life has now turned into countless hours of joy! I'm so thankful for each and every lady and all the gifts they bring to the table. I have an amazing board that blows me away every week. I'm especially thankful for my friend Kat, who has been my trusted confidant and one of my biggest fans through this whole process. She recently moved to the "Redneck Riviera"and I miss her dearly. And then there's Linda who has been an amazing friend and spiritual powerhouse. She's always ready with a listening ear and supplies me with my daily dose of love, support, and encouragement! Thanks ladies for who you are and what you do!

God has been so good to PWOC, despite our base and community going through our own dose of tragedies. We've grown from just a handful of ladies to about 50-60 ladies attending on a regular basis... Praise God!... Just today we had to scramble to add extra tables to our meeting room and now all our studies are currently full. We have 5 studies with 12 ladies in each and are in the process of adding another study.... 60 ladies coming consistently... Truly, Truly Amazing.... Especially when you're aware of all the tragedy, obstacles, and challenges we've overcome.

Like most things with new growth brings growing pains, obstacles, and challenges. We had to recently expand our child care to two locations, order another Bible study for our new ladies, and are currently working on a way to gain more space with less money... Oh the joys of ministry on a military base and budget... But just this week I was blessed and encouraged by one of the new ladies who has been attending. She shared two scriptures with me ...

"In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple, and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God, and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered" 2Chronicles 31:21

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

She then shared with me two things she saw which were clearly evident about our chapter of PWOC :

God's work and hands are all over it's leaders. and this is not your typical military spouses group, but one that's doing God's work, seeking his kingdom, and spreading the"Good News".

WoW!!! Thank you God!!! Comments like that are like mana from heaven... They tend to put everything into perspective and make it all worth the various trials and challenges... Thank you Jennifer... You blessed me more than you know...

So that's PWOC .... It's what I do in my spare time when I'm not attending to my husband, children, or wifely Squadron duties... Make sure you check it out if your stationed at any Base or Post...I know it will be worth every bit of your time and more...

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy". Psalm 126:3

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snapshot In Time

Sarah - 10

Hailey - 6

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Day At The Park

I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of Sarah, Hailey, and some of their friends at one of our local parks...It was such a pretty day and they were having so much fun exploring.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spilimbergo Market

Went to the Spilimbergo Market this morning with some friends and decided to take my new camera,The Canon Rebel, along to check out it's potential... Boy, do I love this camera...The options are fabulous...It's worth every bit of it's cost and more!

Both artichokes and radicchio are in season right now. Radicchio is known as Italian chicory. It usually has white-veined red leaves. It has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted. We especially like it grilled with salt/pepper and a little extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top.

We also bought some amazing mushrooms and our favorite cheese - Formaggio Ubriaco or "Drunken cheese". This cheese was born out of necessity: when the oils used to treat the cheese rind became scarce and expensive, the cheese makers decided to use local wine instead. The curds are left to mature for about 20 days before being immersed in black grapes, usually of the Cabernet, Merlot or Raboso varieties, in a warm room and are then doused continuously with pressed wine for 35- 40 hours. The rind grows very hard, and adopts a dark wine color. The inside has a distinctive flavor, piquant and sweet at the same time, and is very fragrant, with a hint of red wine. Yum, parmesan cheese with a hint of red wine... Does it get any better than that?...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Great Blog

A "super hip" friend of mine sent me this great web site... I thought many of my other blog friends might enjoy it... Lots of great products and ideas... I love it!... I'm so getting the pink tool set... Too cool...Thanks Lacey... Keep the web sites coming!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On The Road To Maniago

I thought I would give you a little glimpse of the beautiful view I see every time I drive home from the Base here in Italy. Molto bello!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shopping, Sushi, and Gelato

For our family and friends in the States I thought I would include a picture to show you where a majority of my hard earned income is spent... Here is a picture of three beautiful ladies who love to shop!!! The one in front is by far the ring leader... Actually to be honest we all love H&M and the Udine Mall... H&M has quality clothes for the whole family and the mall is very similar to those in the States. If the Dollar/Euro ratio wasn't so bad we would prefer shopping in Italy over most places in the States. The clothes are of a better quality and not mass produced from someplace in Asia. In Italy everyone seems to have their own sense of style. It's always fun to window shop and view the latest trends... We usually head to the mall for a little shopping, sushi, and gelato!... I have to say the only one real challenge we've come across in Italy is finding something other than Italian food to eat. Trust me the Italian food is good, but a little variety every once in a while would be nice. So far the mall has the best sushi we've come across. The owners are actually Japanese...Go figure... It seems the Italians are very proud of their food and have a tendency to put their own spin on other ethnic foods. There's nothing worse than taking a bite of Indian,Chinese or Mexican food and it tasting like spaghetti.... After a little sushi we always save the best for last.... Gelato! This I believe is the one thing that Italians consistently do well. On the bottom floor below the food court is one of the best gelato places around. Try the "limone con cioccolato" you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Night Out With Issa

Another wonderful date night with Michelle! After teaching many marriage classes, I can't underscore the importance of couples, especially with kids, having a regular date night. Husbands, your wives will love it if you take the lead on this, which means securing the babysitter and picking the places. It's usually the best 100 dollars you can spend (babysitter included).

Last night I took Michelle to this great Jordanian place a friend told me about called "Habibi, Ristorante Da Issa." Wow! From the moment we walked in, we knew it would be an amazing evening. If you've never spent an evening being wined and dined by someone from the Middle East, it's an experience you'll never forget. Fortunately for us, the place was empty so all the attention was focused on our dining experience. After an amazing bottle of Lebanese wine, unbelievable appetizers, to include, Magluba, Couscous, Hummus, Baba Ghannug, and Tabbuleh, we were already getting full. Then he brought us the main dish which was a combination of rice, vegetables, Almonds, and that awesome Doner Kebab meat we've come to know and love. It was awesome! We finished it off with a tasty dessert and an apertif (oh yeah, and some delicious Jordanian coffee prepared with cardamom...yum).

The evening lasted about three hours and they even gave us a gift as we left. Michelle had been admiring these exquisite table cloths, so they wrapped one up just for her. Even for Mr. Cheapskate, the evening was well worth it.

I've attached the website just in case you're ever in Casarsa, Italy. But make sure you call first. He likes to set up the experience for you well ahead of your arrival.

Here's the website I promised.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm Having Another Baby!

Oh, not really!.... The truth is my Mini Cooper S is currently being built at the MINI factory in Oxford,UK. We made our final payment and received our Vin number today. So it looks as though, if all goes well, my new baby will arrive sometime during the first week of February. Isn't she beautiful?.... Okay guys, this is where I need some help! Get your creative juices flowing. Now that she has a number she needs a name. Does anyone have any ideas on what I should call her?..... She has a Pepper White exterior with Black Leather interior... Send me your thoughts....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Friulan Experience"

It seems that Tom and I have become quite fond of a common Italian aperitif called a "Friulan".

In fact, lately we tend to prefer it over a glass of red wine, which is all a bit strange, especially since most of you know our fondness for good red wine. One thing I've discovered more and more lately is the amount of truth behind the statement, "The longer you live in one place the more you assimilate to it's culture."...which leads me to share this little story with you.

The first thing you should know about this region of Italy is their observance of something called "Reposo." Reposo is basically a long lunch break between 12:00- 2:30, in which everything is closed except for local restaurants and wine bars. I've heard other countries call it "Siesta" but lets be honest.. in Italy there's more eating and drinking going on than actual sleeping. Basically it's tends to be a huge inconvenience for most Americans because lunch is not usually our biggest meal of the day.

So we all know how friendly Tom is right? The man loves to talk! Basically he can strike up a conversation with just about anyone and before you know it they're inviting us over for Christmas dinner with the family. Well on moving day he strikes up a conversation with the movers. They immediately fall in love with him and decide to break for reposo and take Tom along for the experience. One thing you should know about most Italians is how typical it is for them to have a drink or two with their lunch. Our movers took Tom to a local pizza joint and insisted that he have a Friulan while they waited for their meal. They told him that a Friulan was the drink of choice for most "local Italians" between 10:00am - 7:00pm. If he was going to be one of the locals he would have to learn to enjoy them. Tom tried the drink but didn't quite understand it's appeal. Later Tom told me that I probably wouldn't like it either because it had a bitter aftertaste, which seems odd now, because everyone knows I'm not exactly fond of sweet drinks. I would much rather drink a dry Cabernet over a sweet Moscato. But nevertheless, ever since that very first day, we've seen countless Italians with the ever-so-popular orange drink.

A few months ago at one of our favorite hangouts we decided to revisit the Friulan again. There's this great wine bar across from Maniago's town square. I have to say after just a few sips I was hooked. It's very refreshing and light. Ever since falling in love with the Friulan at "our spot" we've tried it at many other locations, but no one seems to make it as good. This led us to do a little investigating. We decided once we discovered the recipe we could even make them at home. The next time we were out, we carefully watched the bartender, and discovered their secret. The key four essential ingredients to make a perfect Fruilan are: 3 parts White wine or Prosecco, 2 parts Gasoso (slightly sweet fizzy water), 1 part Aperol (which gives it the distinct orange color), and an orange slice to top it off.

So for those of you wondering about our Italian status, it looks as though, it's only taken us about two years to finally become a friuli local. Which now has caused both of us to wonder what's next in our cultural assimilation?..... Loving reposo?.... I don't think so!...

So for those of you who live in Italy and have been curious about the orange drink phenomenon and are interested in having the best local "Fruilan Experience," make sure you venture out to Maniago and stop by the corner bar in the square. It's impossible to miss! Just "eye spy" the cafe' that has a row of tables full of orange drinks.

Friday, January 04, 2008

"Date Night"

These are some pictures of one of our favorite restaurants we like to go to on our "Date Nights". It's located in a small village about 10 klicks from our house. It has this great fire pit in which all the meals are grilled right in front of you. The menu changes every day so you never know what your going to have until you read the menu. Along with the great seasonal food it also has some of the best local Italian red wine in Italy. Bon Apetito!

Here's our Steak. Yummm!

This is the owner "A Typical Italian Mamma" who grills
all the meals over the hot coals.

Enjoying the local wine and food!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

We wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Blessed New Year! We have been so blessed by the friendships we have made this year, both in person, and a far. And by the relationships that continue to bless, encourage, and inspire us as the years go by. Thank you so much to everyone who has blessed us through your encouragement and friendship. It's not always easy to be so far away from home especially when tragedy strikes. We have had to say goodbye to a few of our dear friends and we were so thankful for all your understanding and support. So to our friends, both old and new,and to our family, both near and far, from our family to yours. May you have a blessed New Year!

Some pictures from New Year's Eve.