Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Family Reunion

I'll catch you up to speed really quick. . . The Power and Love Conference was excellent and we loved the amazing, challenging teaching (we also got to drive into Quebec to check out the French- Canadians). From there we visited some friends in Grand Rapids, MI and Cuba City, WI. It as so sweet to reconnect with friends and see their lives.

We are at the tail end of weekend long family reunion here in Story City, Iowa.  It had been 7 years since I'd seen some of my cousins. The weekend was such a great time of eating, hanging out, laughing, watching old photos and eating some more. We even managed to squeeze in a baby shower and birthday party.  

Here is the whole gang -just some California family missing, sad :(

We went canoeing down the Skunk River

and planted a Japanese Maple tree in honor of Nana
Three flavors of homemade ice cream!

 We beat the heat with the slip- in- slide, water balloons, and sprinkler

Today we celebrated Memorial Day with a town parade and service the the cemetery.  I love the expression on Josiah's face as he watched the soldiers do their 21 gun salute.
 Our time in Story City would not have been complete without a ride on the Antique Carousel.  This is Annette's face before she starting crying because it was going so fast!
We will be back in Hong Kong in a little over a month!  I am very ready to get settled back in, but at the same time think I will have some culture shock. Grassy yards and big blue skies in small town America have been dreamy.  I think I'll dream just a little longer . . .

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane (sometimes)

Here is a quick rundown on our last week
 Visiting an Amish Colony in Indiana (I've got a soft spot for Amish)

 Spending a couple days in South Lyon, Michigan with our good friends the Conrows. Alan and Jason have been best buds since Kindergarten.
 Staying a night in with Jason's cousins Chris and Keri in Toronto. It was great getting to see their "world" and catch up with them. 
We loved the diversity in Toronto an exploring the different neighborhoods including China Town
 From Toronto we had a "four" hour drive to Ottawa which turned into NINE hours due to a horrible accident involving two semis. Our car sat on the highway hours without moving an inch. Everyone was out of their cars talking to pass the time.  The kids found lots of creative ways to entertain themselves and those around us. 

 When we finally starting inching along Jason let Josiah "drive"which made his day!

We came to Ottawa to attend a conference called Power and Love.  Jason attended a Power and Love conference in Connecticut three years ago and it was really significant shaping his own identity in Christ and how he ministered to others. Half of the conference is spent in the church meeting and the other half takes place on the streets of Ottawa. The focus is on activating people to reach out to others with the love and power of Jesus. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Inspirational Mothers

Remember these mamas? These women are my heroes.  They work from early morning til sunset providing for their family what I can supply in three minutes by turning on the faucet and opening the refrigerator.  Being a mom is hard work in any context, but especially when it is such a struggle to just survive. The strength in a mother's heart to love sacrificially, relentlessly, and against all odds is a beautiful and powerful thing. 

Now meet some other inspirational mamas.  After hearing about the clinic in Meize Village they decided to take action.  This group of women organized a potluck dinner and raised $1,150 for the mamas!!  That could take a Mozambican three years to earn.  Imagine the life- giving milk that money will provide.  

And here is my amazing mama (right) who shared about the ministry with the ladies that night.  
Happy Mother's Day Moms, you inspire me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reflections from a 31 Year Old

Yesterday was my birthday and we celebrated in the Windy City which was lots of fun. My brother let us use his Marriott points for a couple nights (thank you Erik) and I experienced what the big deal is about Chicago pizza. Let me tell you, it's a big deal. Yum.
 I feel like I've done ten years worth of living in this last year (the bags under my eyes would agree). A lot of people have been asking me, "aren't you tired of moving around so much?"  The answer is yes and no. I had anticipated that by this point in our journey I'd be ready for some routine and stability. And I am.  Waking up in the same bed (my own bed) day after day sounds dreamy. I fantasize about exotic things like having my clothes on hangers, checking my mailbox, and making kefir smoothies in my bathrobe.

But surprisingly, and by God's grace, I am still loving the ride. This last year has been such an incredible experience of living for more. I think it is safe to say that I have been *nearly* cured of my type A personality.  Having so many circumstances outside of my control and daily needing to throw myself into the hands of the Lord has taught me to release control.

I love reflecting back on my 30th birthday a year ago.  My friend Emily and I welcomed the new decade by throwing ourselves off a  75 story building. For me, it really was a prophetic act of stepping out in faith.  I have seen this last year that there comes a point where you just have to jump.
When the Isrealites crossed the Jordan River, they had to step in the water before it parted. Likewise, God has taught me a lot about living in faith, fear.
                A year ago I had so much anxiety about taking our kids to Africa, and now I have none
A year ago I was worried about financial provision, and God has taken care of all our needs
 A year ago I was anxious about our health and safety, and we are alive and well

Looking ahead to this next year I know there will be a temptation to settle back into being comfortable. Although our circumstances may not force the same reliance on God, I want to grow in him more and step out when he asks me to.  After all, he is so faithful.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Check it out. . . .

We were so excited to see that Mama Heidi was on the cover of Christianity Today!  The reporter who wrote the article was actually in Pemba the same time as us and we almost went on the bush outreach that he described (instead our group went to another village).  Although the article had a strange ending, I thought it did a good job describing their ministry and core values. If you have the chance, check it out!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cousin Time!

fort time
 swing time
 tubby time
 make- believe time (at Milwaukee Children's Museum)
 Miller Time!
check out all these cases of beer
 splash in the gutter time
 two year old time
 play time
 Saturday morning football time
 first pony ride time!!
zoo time

Life is really fun and full staying here at my brother's house. There are lots of hugs, giggles, tears, and time- outs everyday. It is so special to have this time together and Josiah would love to never leave.  The adults have been enjoying the time to tell stories, laugh and catch up once in the kids are in bed. We've been staying up way too late, but it's worth it!  Today Jason and I had to chance to share with Erik's Sunday School class on "Hearing God's Voice" which was really cool for us. We'll just be here two more days til we move on.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Old McDonald Had a. . . . Birthday

Josiah has (nearly) three cousins that share his birthday. It has always been a dream of mine to all celebrate together. My amazing sister- in- law Laura planned a farm themed party that we had at her parents' beautiful farm in Iowa. It was such a fun time of laughing, eating, playing and best of all just being together!
Olivia- May 1, 2005, Soren- May 1, 2009, Josiah- May 1, 2008, Anya- May 3, 2010

Annette and Anya are only a month apart and quite a pair

The farm really has sheep and chickens- don't you love it!!

We brought a bunch of hay in the garage (it was freezing outside) that had coins hidden in it. The kids hunted for the money and collected it in their little pails. Notice the little sheep behind Josiah? 

There were 20 pregnant ewes on the farm and about half gave birth before we got there, and 2 gave birth while we were there. I was in love and they even gave me some cuddles.

The sleeping new born lamb.

More tractor photos. . . 
 Steve and Bev gave us a horse pulled wagon ride around their farm which was a fun end to a wonderful day!