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Monday, 24 December 2007

Traditions

I have been thinking a lot about holiday traditions.As a child you enter into the traditions that your family has established. I have fond memories of various traditions that my family had. The happy birthday Jesus party. Reading the Christmas story and.. my favorite... getting to place the nativity piece, that I was holding, wherever I wanted to in the display! The year we finally got to have a tree. How we would a lot of times have people join us who needed family. I LOVE all the different people I got to know!

I highly value that my mom sought to create traditions with my brothers and I after my dad left. Divorce can greatly change traditions.

As my brothers and I grew older our family traditions changed too.

The one thing that remained the same all the years? My youngest brother Michael had the distinctive honor of handing out our gifts. Then we would open one gift at a time.. one after another. It always felt like that was a nice quiet time of really valuing each other.
My brother Matthew is married now and his wife Monique did not know of this tradition. Ah... a cultural experience. :-)

But then again... Matt being married changes traditions again.

I am thinking that when you are single, and near your family, you stay in those traditions. When you are married, you incorporate both your traditions and create new traditions. And when you have children you incorporate new traditions for them.

Me? I am single, away from my family of origin, away from the friends I grew up with.. so what are my traditions? I love tradition! Someday, if God blesses me to have a husband and children, I want to read the Christmas story, go together to get a tree, celebrate the season of Advent, make gingerbread people, watch Elf and It's a Wonderful Life, visit people we love and invite them over too!
But for now... I find friends to go to the Christmas Markets with me, we freeze and then get hot beverages and hot bratwurst. :-) I eagerly hope for surprise packages from those I love who are not with me. And I try to send packages and cards, to call and email these whom I love and miss.

For some reason, finding and hauling a tree by myself does not sound fun... but... I put out the nativity set that I purchased in Austria a couple years ago. That was a delightful find.. a nativity set that I loved found in the town that I lived in 12 years ago. I plan to always put that out...


So.. .traditions. I feel like there are traditions I am missing (with those back in the States), traditions on hold (for a future family) and transitional traditions that are here now.

I am looking forward to spending this Christmas eve with a family in town. I enjoy them. We will have Raclette... a swiss specialty and common in this area... stinky but delicious cheese with lots of other stuff.. the perfect hang out and chat meal. :-)

And Christmas day with a couple who have been a blessing here to me already! Thad and Jana are a delight!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

My mother

Happy Birthday Mom!!!
Today, the 11th of December is my mother's birthday! there is not room to write on this blog how amazing she is! Happy birthday mom! Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a woman of God. Thank you for modeling what it means to trust the Lord completely during challenging times.

Thank you for getting out of your shell and not being afraid to experience life! I think my mother has done more white water rafting, kayaking, camping, hiking and volleyball than I have!
Thank you for letting me go into God's hands! My mother has always given me courage to follow where God is taking me.. and even though I know that she misses me... she tells me to go with God.
Okay, this may be petty and superficial... but I love that my 59 year old mother looks like she is 49! She is so full of life and joy!
Okay and my mother is not perfect but she exemplifies living in the grace of God in the midst of challenges and trials. She cares deeply for people and loves to love them. She wants to connect with others on a deeper level and she encourages everyone to be who God made them to be!

Happy Birthday MOMMMA!!!!!!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Christmas preparations

Well, it is the season of Advent... the Holiday Season... the Christmas Season. I love how the German's celebrate Advent. It seems that every family have an advent wreath in their home. And every child has an Advent calendar to count down the days. I can not think of a better way to stay focused on the reason for this season that not mark each day of the Advent!

I do not yet have an advent wreath.. and I am about a week behind... but I did decorate a bit for the season. No Christmas tree... because I did not want to haul it up my stairs and then afterwards when it is dried out.. .try to figure out what to do with it. :-) Nothing against trees... just being practical.

i will be spending Christmas here in Kandern. A dear friend will come up from Italy to spend a few days before Christmas. And I will spend some time with different families here in town. It is always strange to celebrate major holidays away from those you have always spent it with. I am simultaneously sad to miss my friends and family in the states and excited to celebrate the season here in Europe with new friends!

Here are some photos of my place decorated for the season. :-)

The formerly blank wall of my living area


view into my kitchen.. love the wooden beams!


My nativity set... in front of a photo of Cannon Beach. :-)


The stairway.

Friday, 30 November 2007

A bit of Greece

The past 3 months I have been working on an annual conference that was held in Greece this past week. Since my name is Greek, I was even more fascinated by the culture than I thought I would be. There is a town called Melissa in Greece! :-)

Anyway, one night of the conference we were sharing the dining area at the hotel with a large group of retirees. When we sat down I noticed that there was a large empty space in the middle of the room and a small band was warming up. Imagine my delight to learn that the band and dance floor were there for the retiree party! I was SO excited to see Greek people dancing Greek dances.

Well.. when the dancing began, a kind woman asked me to move my chair so she could get by and go dance... As I moved my chair, she extended her hand to take me out to the dance floor with her. So.. there I was... 1 american girl dancing with about 30 Greek retirees... it was fabulous! My coworker took video... the actual video was over 9 minutes long... the dance.. lasted about 15 minutes. :-) I intend to put a bit of it on my blog but I am having many issues getting it to load. so you all have to wait.

The time in Greece was very good. I will write about it more in my next musings I am sure. but here are some photos of what I saw when I was there...

Mt. Olympus

6 nationalities working as a team... fun times!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

finally... photos and a video of my new living space

Welcome to my flat! i wish you could come see it in person. But, since that is not possible for most of you... here is a tour... beginning with a video that brings you up the last set of stairs and into my main room. After that are some photos of the other rooms in the house.
video

Here is one half of my bedroom.. the other half is in process... :-)

Here is another part of my bedroom.. Carrie Margaret did the painting of the tree and I did the abstracts. Can you see the Daymed on my dresser? I have been sick for the past week and I am just getting over it...


this is my great balcony!


One side of the bathroom... bathtub AND shower! I am blessed indeed!


other side of the bathroom.. the heat in the room is like a towel rack! Hooray for heated towels!!


So... there you have it... the tour of my flat. Did you see the red and orange in the background of the main room on the video? this is what that area normally looks like... this great chair turns into a very comfortable bed. Hooray for versatility and place for friends to stay when they visit.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

A video on YouTube that High School and University Students should see

Ah the adventures of a new language

So I took a risk with language this week... I know many of you think that I am bold and adventuresome... but I really am cautious because I don't like making mistakes.

Recently I thought... I need to take more risks. Why don't I have any embarrassing language stories? It is not because I am the master of every language... rather it is because I am very very careful and not very confidant. Well.. I decided that maybe I need some good language/culture stories... And wouldn't you know it... I step out and right away... Sigh....

It is good for me to be kept humble.

So to the story...

My brother Matt can do amazing things with pork loin. And I have never tried cooking pork loin. Well, since Germany's main meat is pork, I thought I would find some pork loin to make for some friends coming over to dinner. I found a recipe on-line that sounded really good and then went to the local grocery to find myself a pork loin.

I know that the German word for pork is Schwein. But I ignored that and looked for what might resemble that cut of meat. I took it home... doubt scratching at my mind... but opened the package and began the preparation... at which point I thought.. I really should find out what this is... I tried direct on line translation and came up with something Salmon... but I knew the meat was not Salmon! So I contacted a friend in town who has been here for years and she said that the meat was cured ham... but she was confused by the Salmon word in the name too...

Well, I ended up making a really good piece of ham... which is not quite the same as pork loin... but my friends liked it. So did I. And now I am resolved to find a real pork loin... but I will research before I go looking again.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

I love how God reveals Himself to me!

So this weekend I am taking care of a dog... Aliya is a 10 month old golden retriever.

Still a puppy...this is the first time that her owners have left her with someone else. She is a very obedient dog. Very friendly too.

She loves to play and go for walks and fetch sticks... she does not know how to bring them back to the thrower... that part of the retriever is still to be developed. :-)

I have watched her not eat and sulk around all weekend. It breaks my heart. She eventually eats and she has moments of joy... but she won't always play with me...it is as if her heart is not fully in it.


This morning I sat with her, and as I was telling her that I understand what it is like to have those who know you best leave... and how it feels lonely and if something is not right... I felt like God gently tapped me on the shoulder and cleared His throat... "um... my precious child..."

Sigh... I know when the Lord is pursuing me... and He is so gentle about it. Here I am, back in a place that I love, with people that I love... and yet... I am doing what Aliya is doing to me this weekend... Enjoying it... but half-heartedly. Not always... but more often than I desire.

I opened my journal back to July 19th... the Lord gave me a verse that day which struck me as an odd verse. 2 Corinthians 6:13... "as a fair exchange--I speak as to my children--open wide your hearts also." Paul was telling the Corinthians that he had been very open with his affection for them and he was asking that they return the favor... so to speak. I remember being very puzzled by this verse. Why would God take me to that verse? I am generally very open with my affections!

Ah... but Aliya showed me something... She lets me pet her and play with her... and feigns (I am sure part is genuine) response. How much better would it be if she would fully enjoy the love that I want to give to her?

And how much better would it be if I were to fully engage in and enjoy the love that is extended to me from people on this side of the ocean (and the States) and more importantly from God! And when I say fully... I mean my heart too.

Don't get me wrong... My heart is fully involved in my job here! I love that I get to full-time work toward Western Europe coming back to Christ! But it is my fault that I feel lonely here. It is my fault that I am not engaging fully. And since I desire to live fully in every moment that God has placed me... something needs to change.

I know that settling into a new environment and culture and language takes time. And I am so thankful that God is patient and that time is in His hands alone.

Okay, so there is one of my more personal posts. You get those once in a while. :-)

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Explaining this blog

Hi readers!

I was thinking... I should from time to time explain the components of this site. So here goes...

On the right... I will be putting a photo of some current event in my family or friends life... ie: my brother's wedding, my friend's birthday...

Under that, I will be keeping you up to date on prayer requests and financial needs

Under that is a link to give financially to help me do what God has called me to do here in Western Europe. It constantly humbles and amazes me to know that you make it possible for me to do this here. I hope you are learning more about God through your partnership with me!

Under that a current cultural photo

Under that a couple lists... one of ways you can support me other than financially and one with items that I would love to show up in my email in box or my mailbox. :-)

Under that... a photo of some of my friends here in Western Europe... this may change as a category... but maybe not. :-)

Under that the links of my friends all over the world who have blogs or websites. Granted... all the sites that I know are not listed... but it is a pretty extensive list... If you want to know what is happening in a certain area of the world or just want the thoughts of someone from another part of the world... there it is!

under that is another photo of my choice. :-)

Under that are links to other websites that I like to visit... cool photos or my stateside home church, or fun bubble wrap that you can pop with your mouse.

And the whole left side... with new posts... hopefully once/week.. will contain random thoughts and stories of what I experience on this adventure!

And... if you make it to the bottom of the page...there will be a photo of some part of God's amazing creation that I have been privileged to capture.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think as you peruse. :-)

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Festivals

The Fall here in the Kandern Area is a time of rejoicing over the harvest that has come. I have been privileged to go to a couple fests in the area and I will share some of my favorite photos here with you. this first video is part of the Auggen Parade. It was unarguably the most fun I have had to date at a "cultural event". The hands you see clapping along... belong to a man who seemed to know everyone in the parade. He was great! And his wife was precious too.
video

so... here are some photos from the Auggen Parade....
I remember pictures like this in my books when I was young... it was great to see that it is real! :-)
the dance group that nicely skirted the dirty patch in the road... but look at the woman keeping the little ones away from the offending pile. :-)
Each region that was represented had a different traditional costume... I liked the BIG bows from this region... I wish I could recall which region it was... :-)
Flag girls... and boys. :-)
blowing a horn is hard work!

And here is the festival from Muenstertal where we saw the cows coming home...
They come down the hill... following the band...
The cows are decked in flowers... not sure if they are happy about that or not....
This cow... is saying something....
Then the alpenhorns played a song... it really great to hear and see this live! although.. the modern cars and ambulance in the background felt kind of strange.
and this girl was just too cute not to put her in my blog.

I am getting settled in... I have a working oven and hot water in my kitchen... Photos coming soon!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

tidbits

here are some tidbits about my life these days

1.
i am getting settled into my new flat... here is the front door...

well... it is the front door to the area where my door and two others are located. :-)

2.
I was in portland for my brother's wedding last weekend. It was a crazy quick trip but I am so thankful that I could be there! Many people helped to make that possible! I have a new sister-in-law!!!!


3. I have a 503 number that works now... through the marvels of modern technology and the help of my friend Peter Hibbs... it is up and running.. The number was in my last update and I will put it in my next one... if you would like it send me an email... please remember that for my sanity and yours... I am 9 hours ahead of the west coast.... I would prefer not to be woken up at 2 in the morning unless it is an emergency.

4. my flat is de-molded.. as far as I can tell...

5.
I am going to need a car...

6. It is good to be back on this side of the ocean

7. I should go to bed... it is 10:15.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

What is resounding in my heart today

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

New Beginnings... or rather.. Re-beginnings

I am not sure what this is... I am not new to Kandern or the friends here, but I do have a new place to live, a new office space and new friends here.
Here is a photo of the beautiful nature that I have returned to here.

Here is a photo of Jana, new officemate. She and her husband Thad are quickly becoming new friends.. although.. Thad in his extreme sarcasm might deny that...

Here is a different angle of the office space we are in.
my desk is to the right along the wall... Thad's is on the other side of the divider...where you can see the computer monitor.


This is how we all enter the office space... G.Paul started it... way to be a leader!!! :-)

I was privileged to enjoy the local Budenfest... it basically kicks off the fall season... here are some photos... I did not have my camera for the opening so you miss the photos of the older man waving the Baden flag as all in the square sang the Baden anthem. And you miss the photos of the Buergermeister giving the opening speech... I am told it is the same speech every year. And you miss the photos of the children running around with strings of pretzels, like candy necklaces, around their necks... But here is a photo of the most common food stand at any festival...

And here are the locals enjoyed good local food at the wrestling cafe... it is there every Budenfest... good food!

And here is a photo of the dead bird that came down when the man installing my kitchen had to take some insulation from a hole up to the attic... apparently it is not his job to dispose of it... sigh... I'm a girl... I don't want to touch the dead bird!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Birthdays

It really makes me sad when I miss the chance to tell a friend happy birthday on the actual day! And it seems that when I am in transition that happens more often...

so... I missed my biological Dad's birthday,
my friend Allison's birthday, (dark hair on the right)... I think I missed Cheryl's last December too.. which means I missed Kendra's too... sheesh.

I met Allison the summer of 2001 when we went to Lithuania together. She is a delight! I thank God for your friendship dear one! And Happy Birthday!!!!

and my cousin's wife Jen's birthday (the other girl in the photo...the guy is my cousin Brian.) I have always liked my cousin Brian a lot, but now even more cause he married a GREAT girl! I have had so much fun getting to know Jen. She is dear to my heart!


Today is Ginny Holladay's birthday! She is fantastic! It blesses my heart to have known her over the past 6 years. And tomorrow is Heather B's birthday. Heather... I have no current photos of you! I carry my camera all the time.. I guess I just need to use it more often. :-)

Anyone else????? I am sorry if I have forgotten your birthday. It has not been intentional!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I made it!

Just a short note to say that I am in Kandern! :-) After one of the most fluid and problemless trips ever... I arrived with all luggage intact! God is good!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Here I Go

Well, I am at the Portland Airport preparing to get on one of the planes that will get me to my final destination of Basel, Switzerland, where I will be picked up by co-worker friends and whisked back to Kandern.

Pat and Rakel and my Mom prayed over me this morning. I love how Pat and Rakel come, pray, give hugs and then give the goer special time with family. They are precious! Thank you guys! I love you!

In the past few days I have said goodbye to many of you... I have tears in my eyes as i think of all the life events I will miss. ... new relationships, engagments, marriages, babies, tragic moments, road trips, new experiences...

Saturday my dear friend Bekah organized a little gathering.. We watched Shakespeare in the Park (Taming of the Shrew) and had a picnic. Thank you to all who came! I did not take photos... shame on me...I am waiting for someone to send me the few that they took. :-) Anybody???

Sunday I got to hang out with a really great church family that is on my team. Columbia Community Bible Church. Real potluck with fried chicken and all.. so great! I am excited that they are on my team.

Sunday night I hung out with some of my extended family... here are some photos t prove it. I love them so much! especially great was having my cousin Kim and her husband and 6 kids there from Michigan! As I drove away, I cried and wiped away the tears... I really love my family.

here are some of them:
My Uncle Bob and Aunt Jan and Cousin Erik with his wonderful wife Doreen and their three kids Jacob, Annalise and Micah... I hope no one is offended by any misspellings....


My Cousin Kim and her husband Dave and their kids, Julia, Gloria, Melody, Grant, Nathan and Elliott... I have always had a ton of love and respect for my cousin Kim. She was an all star in high school and college and she is a great mother to her kids!


My Cousin Ryan and his lovely wife Bethany and their great kids Caleb, Natalie and Jeremiah. and two boys that they are taking care of. :-) I love how they love on kids! and adults. :-)
.

I am blessed indeed.

Friday, 17 August 2007

the way I see it...

I am amazed at what I get to see. The Rocky Mountains at 10,622 feet up! The double rainbow I saw up in these mountains.


I see evidence that God is calling people to Himself. In Rotterdam, Netherlands two staff men were sharing the gospel with a student who was not interested but while they were sharing a man was pacing back and forth behind the student. The two staff were wondering what was up with that guy... when the student left, the man came up to the two staff and said, "I have been praying that you would come. I am the only Christian I know here and I want to learn how to share my faith. Will you teach me?"

What do you see God doing? :-)