Saturday, March 24, 2012

Matt - IT Mission Trip to Africa

Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

As some of you may know I had the opportunity to use my job skills as a Network Engineer two years ago to help a Bible institute in India.  Little did I know that this was the beginning of God calling me to start an IT ministry within my church. After that trip I have been put in touch with several people who have helped me to develop a game plan for providing IT support to missionaries and Christian based organizations. We will do this by providing virtual support worldwide from Houston, as well as go on short term mission trips across the globe to help with specific technical tasks. This team is starting out with a trip to Kenya, Africa in late April this year. We are going to assist Food for the Hungry ( with some specific networking needs at some of their offices. Food for the Hungry is a Christian based organization that seeks to end poverty worldwide by addressing the physical and spiritual hungers of people. I am very grateful to be able to serve and support them so they can be more efficient in their mission. You can find out more information about our trip at here:

I don’t think I have many talents that can be used to help people (anyone that has seen my carpentry work can attest to that), so it is an incredible blessing for me to be able to use one of my true skills for the glory of God. Both Ephesians 2:10 and Romans 12:6 make it clear that we are given unique gifts and they should be used to bless others, especially other members of the body of Christ (Galatians 6:10).  This is something that I have felt a real call to participate in as well as encourage others to join me or find out how they have been blessed so they can start a “micro-ministry” of their own.

As you can imagine, any trip overseas has many great expenses associated with it. I need to raise $2700 by April 20th. If you can help to support me financially I would greatly appreciate it. Any donations made are tax deductible and will help a good cause.  Regardless of financial support I need your prayer support. Please pray daily for me, starting April 23rd. specifically for the following requests:
  • For God to use me in any capacity that he sees fit
  • For me to help others in need
  • For discipleship opportunities
  • For me to touch the lives of others and them to touch mine
  • For safety during travel
  • For my wife, son, and daughter while I am away
If you can help support me financially please make checks payable to “CBC” and make sure to leave the memo line of the check blank.  On a separate piece of paper you need to write my name and mention it is for the Africa trip as well as list your name, address, phone, and e-mail address.  Please do not write my name anywhere on the check.  The check and separate sheet of paper need to be mailed to: CBC, Short Term Trips, 11711 Cypress N Houston, Cypress, TX, 77429.  You can alternatively give online here:

This is a great opportunity for me to see God working in the lives of people, including myself, to the “ends of the earth”. I am very excited to be able to take part in this and hope I can count on you to pray for me. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me.  

Matt Nevill

Our "Safari" at the Exotic Animal Ranch west of Austin last summer

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas update!

Consider this our annual Christmas newsletter, since we didn’t send one out. And since I haven’t updated the blog in about forever, I can tell you all about the past few months. At least the parts that I haven’t forgotten already

Let’s see, I left off in August. We took another 9 day road trip to Huntsville, Alabama, for Matt to spend some time at headquarters and for me to reconnect with some friends and bore my children driving around looking at how much the city has changed. I got to see lots of friends, drove by our old house, watched agility classes and caught up with my friends from the obedience club, hit EVERY playground in town as well as several library storytimes, and survived a new level of stress that is young kids in hotel room for nine days. We actually had a complaint about our kids’ thumping feet merely one hour after we arrived at the hotel (we moved to a lower floor with no one under us). I tried to stay outside for most of the day with the kids while Matt worked. It was really fun being back in the Huntsville, but it pretty much curbed the tiny amount of wanderlust that was creeping into our lives – toying with the idea of where we wanted to be 5 years from now. I think we want to stay right here in Houston

Nine days of hotel breakfasts
They had separate beds after a few days
When we got back, Matt and I were SO ready to be home again for an extended period of time after traveling all summer, but it was not to be, at least for Matt! He headed to Colorado to visit a great friend and they went mountain hiking and camping (in the snow) and rock climbing. He was gone four days and had a blast! Then a couple of weeks later he headed out again for a work conference and was gone for a week. Last but not least, he left AGAIN in late October for another week, back to Huntsville for more work stuff. I was glad to stay home and keep the kids in their routine but man, those were some long weeks!
Looks pretty cold to me, but he loved it!

In between all that, we had one weekend visit up to see my Dad, and Addison got to go on her first trip with another family. Some dear friends of ours took her with their son to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine and she had so much fun! Ryan had his 3rd birthday (pirates) on October first and was pleased to finally have something that was all about him. We did the pumpkin patch with some friends and several fall festivals and such, and then had a big Halloween party for Addison’s birthday (dragon cake).
Wolf ears with Micah

Playing on the ladder at Dad's

Making pirate necklaces
Pirate Cake, not one of my better efforts, but oh well
Ryan and Adah, cute pirates

Big Drumming Man like Daddy
In the course of the month of October, Ryan wore his pirate costume (birthday party), knight costume (nursing home visit), Superhero (Church festival) and fireman (trick or treating). Addie wore her homemade fox costume to pieces! We went to Matt’s sister’s again for trick or treating with our nephew Hunter and came home with a huge bag of candy!

The one costume he DIDN'T wear out

Addison on her birthday


Fox and Fireman
Addison, a friend, cousin Hunter, and Ryan
CBC Fall Festival

Addie and Caroline, year 4
Addie and Ryan on the horse

Right after that, Matt and I set out for our long-awaited 10th anniversary trip to Hawaii! We left the kids with his mom and took off on November 3rd. We spent two days in Honolulu, then took a cruise ship to Maui, where we went to a luau, hiked to a volcano, and drove the road to Hana (best hike of the trip was at the end of the road), on to Hilo (waterfalls galore), Kona, (bummed around town), then two days at Kauai (more hiking, snorkeling, bodyboarding) before heading back to Honolulu for two more days. The APEC conference was in town, which I’d never heard of but is apparently a pretty big deal, so we got to see lots of military, cops, noisy protesters, and several blocks’ worth of silent Chinese protesters trying to show the their yoga/religion was good (the Chinese government banned it for encouraging too much independent thought). We had a great time, but were really ready to get home. Matt’s mom kept the kids for a couple of days, then my mom was down all week while Addie was in school, then his mom kept them the last couple of days. The trip was really interesting but not very relaxing, and we all took a couple of weeks to readjust to our normal routines. By the way, we tried to find matching Hawaiian clothes for the whole family, but couldn’t find the right sizes, so we settled on guys and girls matching. Hence our Christmas picture
Rainbow over Honolulu as we were departing

Matt and the banyan tree

Me at Pearl Harbor

At the luau in Maui
Matt on Waikiki Beach
Me on the lava lake. 

Along the north shore of Kauai

We went to our annual Thanksgiving at the farm again, and had picture-perfect weather. I’m really thankful we have such a fun place to go hang out with the extended family!

Pilgrim costumes at the library

Addie at the farm
The next day we took our first family trip to the Christmas tree farm. We have a nice fake tree, and real ones are kind of pricey (to cut down, at least), but we liked the idea of this tradition, so we cut down a short tree which became the kids’ tree and set up the fake one too. We have several ornaments that were just for the kids, and they liked the idea of having their own tree to hang all the various crafts they make

Addison has been changing so much I can barely keep up with her. I ask her lots of questions about books we read and movies we watch and her comprehension is really growing. We are doing reading work at home and she can read simple books (although she complains a lot about practicing). She’s also in private and public speech therapy classes, which have worked wonders in just a few short months. I feel much better about her speech at this point. I’m not sure how much longer she’ll be in the classes. She also started gymnastics, and while she has fun, she’s not terribly coordiated! Oh well, I wonder where she gets that from! =) Her favorite toys are still her stuffed animals and plastic animals and pet shop animals. She’s great at puzzles and makes up all sorts of adventures for herself and Ryan. She helps me a lot more around the house and constantly asks questions about, well, everything!

Ryan is a…boy. He skipped the terrible twos (mostly) and ran headlong into the terrible threes! Defiance, arguing, disobeying, and pushing pushing pushing the limits are the key points of his personality right now. He certainly has lots of sweet moments, especially when Addison is in school and it’s just me and him at home. Ryan thrives with one-on-one attention, and sometimes I think Matt and I forget that he is just three – it’s hard to remember the responsibiliites we gave Addie at that age and I think we might expect too much from him on occasion. But most of the time, he knows exactly what he’s doing! He hates being called "little", as in "little guy", "little man", "baby", etc. and will correct you if you happen to say anything like that to him. He wants to be just like Dad and will show us his muscles. The fact that his legs and arms are not as long as Addison’s is a huge source of frustration for him, as he just can’t do everything physically that she can do. I am amazed, however, at how much he CAN do – he figures out new things every day on his own, that I know Addie couldn’t do at that age. He is determined to catch up to her.

The kids play great and fight loudly, on and off, all day. Ryan is learning to annoy her, and Addie is learning to manipulate him into getting her way. I am constantly on my toes trying to figure out how and when to referee, correct, intervene, or just stay out of it. Sometimes they will play outside for hours together and other times you can just tell they need distance. Addie by nature is more private and plays by herself a lot, where Ryan is constantly wanting companionship and interaction. It make for interesting observations in their character development, sibling relationships, friend relationships, and interactions with Matt and I.

Playing train

We have lots of stuff going on – we have a great Sunday school class on Sundays and greatly enjoy all our dear friends there. We meet once a week with a small group doing different studies, and the kids started Awanas this fall, which they adore. I’m on the steering committee of our MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group at church (I’m the craft person), so I stay busy with our meetings. Addie has school three days a week, speech two days a week, and gymastics one day a week, plus Awanas once a week. We still try to get to the zoo and/or museum occasionally. Matt is always busy at work on various projects, but we are still loving having him work from home. I count that blessing every single day! He’s nearing 10 years with ADTRAN and it has been an awesome relationship from day one.

That catches us up somewhat. We’d love to hear from you guys!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer of Travels

I spent Memorial day weekend up in Dallas helping my sister move, and then as soon as I got home, Matt had to leave for a week to drive up to the lovely town of Sherman, Texas. Then he was home for a week, then I took of for San Francisco with my best friend Kate for a wedding in Napa. I've know John since 2nd or 3rd grade - we took piano from the same teacher and played duets at the state competitions several years in a row.  He flew to Texas for my wedding and to Louisiana for Kate's wedding, so we were happy to make the trip out to California for him!  It was a fun mini-girls weekend, especially since Kate is moving from Baton Rouge (5 hours away from me) to ORLANDO! Although I'm thrilled to have free room and board at Disney World, I will miss having her close enough for a long weekend trip.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Castello de Amorosa Vineyard

Me assessing the wines. Sweet like apple juice, or gross?

The lovely wedding reception

Christin, John, me, and Kate

While I was gone to San Francisco, Matt got an urgent call from work - they needed him back up in Sherman by Monday morning, and I wasn't getting home till Sunday evening, so Matt's sister came over and watched the kids for a few hours so he could get on the road. He was gone another week, and during all of that, I was getting ready for our big road trip to New Mexico to visit my brother for a week. However, Patrick's town was in the line of some forest fires, so we waited and waited until he finally had to evacuate, which effectively cancelled our trip. Matt came back home and, since our vacation got cancelled, we took an impromptu family trip to the Exotic Animal ranch west of Austin. We toured the Blue Bell creamery on the way and stayed in a cabin at the ranch, where animals were just roaming around. We petted kangaroos, buffaloes, deers, etc. The kids swam in the pool and that's where Addison just took off with her swimming, floating on her back, and treading water. It was amazing. She has gotten better and better every day and can swim 25 meters all by herself without stopping, as well as tread water perfectly and jump off the diving board at our pool. I am so, so proud of her! The next morning we took the safari around the ranch and got to feed lots of animals. The kids really seemed to like it, and Addison cried when it was time to go because she wanted to live in the cabin forever. She got a stuffed camel named Suzanne and Ryan got a Zebra as their souvenirs.
Outside Blue Bell

Inside Blue Bell

This deer kept sucking the swim water out of Ryan's swimsuit

Big red kangaroos

This was a very clingy deer. Matt grabbed its snout.

The zebras were slightly aggressive

Gross buffalo toungue

On the safari ride

Suzanne the camel
 We had fun over the weekend of the 4th, enjoying time at home and then going to a pool party with l0ts of friends and celebrating that evening with more friends. No fireworks this year, due to the drought. Which is still in full effect by the way!

Turns out that Patrick and Erica were able to get back to Los Alamos on Monday the 4th, so after much rearranging and last minute decisions, we decided to go ahead and head to New Mexico, since there would not be any time to go for the rest of the year.  We were bracing ourselves for our first super long road trip and split the 16 hour drive into two days.  The kids were amazing in the car, much to our relief. They watch movies, listened to tons of music, and played a lot with their toys. We got them a new Etch a sketch and a Travel Aquadoodle as their special toys for the special trip. Both days, Ryan got a little bit fussy for about 30 minutes at the end of the day. We didn't have to stop a whole lot, and we ate sandwiches that we brought in the ice chest. We stopped in Childress on the way and the kids were very excited about the Super 8 hotel we stayed in.  The next day, we drove through the barren plains of west Texas and New Mexico until we finally got into some hills and then the mountains, which we could see smoking.  We got to Pat's around 3 or so on Wednesday. They don't have air conditioning there, and there were still fires burning, so during some of the times the smoke was pretty bad and we'd have to close the windows, so it tended to get stuffy. Usually the mountain air is cool and nice!

The kids had a blast with their cousin Sarah, who they haven't seen since last summer and before that, she was an infant. She is about 3 weeks younger than Ryan, and they all played beautifully.  And noisily, I might add. They ran around the back yard, played in the rooms, ran around singing loudly, etc. We went to the pool (COLD!) and library music time and just had a good time spending the days with each other.  When the kiddos are a little older, we'll head out there for Christmas when there's snow everywhere and go sledding. 

At night you could see the fire burning and Patrick called it Mordor

Addison, Ryan, and cousin Sarah

Most of the time they played really well together
Uncle Patrick and Ryan

The kids were wiped out after our long trip

 We headed home the next Monday and the drive home went pretty well too.  We stopped in Wichita Falls this time, and then got home on Tuesday afternoon. We were all ready to be home!
However, we had some bad news awaiting us. Our friends Sarah and Shane had kept our dog Casey while we were gone and told us that she had been having accidents in her crate every night.  We had noticed her peeing and drinking excessively  for many weeks now and we had started leaving the dog door open at nights so she could go out. She'd also been eating like crazy and getting into the trash, which was very out of character for her. I took her into the vet that Friday thinking she had probably a urinary tract infection. The results were negative, so they tested for diabetes, which was also negative.  The vet seemed surprised, so she asked more questions and I mentioned the excessive eating and getting in to the trash.  She immediately suggested Cushings disease, but wanted to do some (expensive) bloodwork. I agreed, and it came back showing elevated liver levels, which is a red flag. The vet said that to narrow it down, we'd have to run more tests, so I brought Casey in the next Monday. On Tuesday, the vet said that the results were negative (which was good), but that she was still pretty convinced it was Cushings and even called the lab to double check the results. She said she would call a specialist and consult, and then let me know what she found out. By Friday, she called back and said that the specialist asked if the dog was a Rhodesian Ridgeback, because he had seen in a small percentage of Ridgebacks specifically that the test gave false negatives.  So our vet was even more sure that we were dealing with Cushings, which can be treated but not cured. We'd already spent nearly $500 just on tests, and we'd have to have another $400 test to be sure before we could start medicating. The medication alone would run us probably $80 a month and she would need to be carefully monitored during the first few months and have frequent retesting to check levels. 
Matt and I talked a long time and came to the conclusion that we didn't think we could do what it would take (financially, mostly) to start the treatment.  We have started speech therapy for Addison and have expensive dental work ahead for her (starting now, plus braces later), and we are going to be traveling so much this fall that we don't know what we would do with Casey during this initial treatment phase. Also, Casey would turn 10 in August, and the lifespan of Ridgebacks is 10-12 years on average.  It was a hard, painful choice filled with lots of guilt and second guessing, but we decided that it would be best for our family and for Casey to have her put down.  We told the kids, and Addison at least understood what it meant, although the implications didn't really sink in.  Our friend Sarah watched the kids while Matt and I took Casey in.  The night before, we'd bought a turkey leg, since turkey was Casey's huge food weakness, and let her devour the whole thing. I brought the rest of her dog food and let her eat it in the office. The vet gave her a tranquilizer and we held her as she laid down and then went sound asleep. She was snoring loudly and we petted her and cried, and then when the vet came in with the other injection we left.  It was pretty horrible.

Baby Casey - the first of our babies to sleep on Daddy's chest

In her prime at the Rhodesian Ridgeback National Specialty in Dallas

At the vet clinic, almost 10 years old. We love you, Casey.

Soon after that it was August and we actually had one weekend at home together with nothing to do! We moved Ryan from his crib into a big boy bed. I haven't really redone his room yet, but we have bedspreads with cars and trucks, so we're using that for now. I'm also going to paint the downstairs bathroom, so I took off all the wallpaper and need to texture and then paint down there. Then I want to do the kids' bathroom (in my spare time). I drove to Dallas on August 3rd to drop the kiddos off with my sister, and then I flew to Nashville for the MOPS International convention with 5 ladies from my group. It was tons of fun! Good speakers, beautiful hotel, and lots of ideas to bring to MOPS this year. The kids stayed two days with my sister and niece, then two days with my mom. I came back Sunday night and drove home Monday, with my niece Camryn in tow. Matt had flown to Alaska the Saturday before with his dad and brother in law for a fly fishing trip, and he got home just this morning (Wednesday). Caitlin came down here last Wednesday and we went to Galveston with all the kids on Thursday. The waves were big and the kids had a blast, and then we went to Rainforest Cafe, which is always a hit. We did the River Adventure Ride too, and that was a hit as well. Friday we went to the Childrens Musuem and Saturday we went to the pool at the YMCA. They left Sunday since Cammie starts school. This Friday, we're leaving for Huntsville, AL, for nearly two weeks so Matt can get some training and put in some face time with his colleagues, and go to meetings for some projects he's been working on for months. The kids and I will see friends all week. I"m really looking forward to seeing the town and the people since I haven't been there in over three years. Then I'll come home with the kids while Matt stays three more days. Then things will slow down a little in September, although I'll be kicking off with MOPS pretty soon, and once October hits, we'll be sprinting to the new year. Yikes!
At a cousin's wedding in June
At the wedding, after the chocolate fountain