Archive for Random

Just the Tip

While at a training for missionaries preparing to go on the field, I’ve had some time away from the regular demands of life and have been able to really process life. We are starting a big transition. We just sold our house. We’ve sold a lot of our possessions and plan to sell a whole lot more next month. We are getting ready to move over 6000 miles away from the family and friends that we love. We are going to be completely out of our comfort zones in nearly every imaginable way.

I am super sad about this move. I am really grieving the losses for myself and my kids. I am at this training for a few weeks, but then I will go back and really begin the hard work of saying goodbye to life as I’ve known and enjoyed it. Sometimes, I can barely breathe under the weight of it all. I am now only dealing with the tip of the iceberg; there is so much hidden beneath the surface.

iceberg An Iceberg (credits: Niyazz)

And yet, I am totally at peace. I’ve been doing the hard work to prepare mentally and physically and now I’m starting to really prepare emotionally as well. It isn’t all sunshine and roses, but it is all beautiful. Maybe even more beautiful in the deep sadness that is surrounding me as I reach out for help. God is my ever-present help (Ps 46) and so I need not be afraid.

Often for me the future is frocked in fear, but not this time. Don’t misunderstand, I do have some fears, but I am working to “go toward that!” I am learning to ask God to help me release whatever it is I’m afraid of losing or messing up or whatever. As I am letting God turn my heart toward Him instead of holding tighter to the things I want to control and figure out, I’m finding freedom and hope and great peace. It’s almost like there is some truth to Philippians 4:6-7. 😉

Even in the sadness, I can see God’s with me – his love quieting me, helping me to take the next step forward.

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Summer of Family Fun

I try to be intentional to spend quality time with family and friends. It is important to me that our immediate, nuclear family spend time together. It is also important that we enjoy time with extended family. That becomes more difficult as we all spread out around the country (and soon – the world. Yikes!)

This summer we have had one family fun time after another and it has been really wonderful.

We started off with a wedding for one of my cousins (actually his daughter) in Minneapolis. Then we had a family vacation, tent camping and hiking, exploring and laughing in Michigan’s U.P. We saw the Porcupine Mountains (no Michigan does not really have mountains, but there are a lot of forests!) and Pictured Rocks. We climbed a lighthouse and went on a boat cruise. We swam and skipped rocks in Lake Superior and swatted millions of mosquitos. We spent a few days with friends in Traverse City (so much fun!!) and then made it home in time for the kids to have their own adventures.

After time apart, we were so glad to be reunited and had our annual trips with the Janes’ side and the Yee side. For as long as the kids can remember, we’ve spent a very long weekend at Aunt TeeTee’s, enjoying time with cousins and on the lake. There are official games and lots of snacks and always an ice cream trip too. Then, we went the following weekend to Kalahari with the other side cousins, aunt, uncle and Grandma Karen. They had so much fun at the water park and the arcade and the zip line and the hi-ropes course and even just being in the hotel room. These trips are the highlight for all of us over the summer.

The big trips aren’t the only fun we’ve had this summer. We also enjoyed several trips to the library, the zoo, the village, swim clubs, air shows, and shopping. Our regular routine included plenty of gym time and some church time as well as a few playdates. We didn’t have quite enough trips to the farm (at Miss Barb’s or Walls Nuts Woods), but it’s not too late yet!

We are starting our fall bucket list though as Labor Day and the return to school in quickly approaching… cider mills, hikes through the woods with fall colors, and football games are at the top.

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Out on the Town

I sometimes feel stuck in a rut. While I know that there are lots of fun, different, new things that could be done, in the moment, I struggle to come up with anything other than what we did the last time. So, to help myself, and maybe the other person or two who reads this blog: some date night ideas – at home or out – fun things B & I have done…

Obviously dinner at a local restaurant is a standard option. Living in the metro-Detroit area, we have tried and like:
Antietam
Bacco
Barrio
Cellar 849
Forest Grill (we haven’t been back since new chef…)
Lucy & the Wolf
Marais
Mastuchan
Revolver
Roast
Seldon Standard
Tofu House
Zingerman’s Roadhouse

I know there are those who do not love the fine dining experience or are trying not to spend all the money in one meal. Most of our dates, we try to be a little more frugal. Here are some free (or without extra expense, at least) dates that we’ve enjoyed:
Bike riding
Walk in woods
Library visit
Play games – like Agricola
Watch home videos (or movies we own)
Cook dinner together at home
Rollerblading around the neighborhood
Walk along riverfront
Stroll through quaint downtown areas and watch people
Art museum visit
Summer outdoor concert series
Progressive dinner with friends (at each other’s homes)
Relax on deck
Read books
Flying (Brian has his private pilot’s license!)
Clean out basement/garage/bedroom/____ (productive, but not as fun)

Finally, a few ideas we should try:
Segway rental on Hines
Canoeing – just us, no kids!
Dance class
Hot air balloon ride
Hi-ropes course
Lazer tag
Concerts in the park
Ice skating

What ideas do you have?

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The Next Step

While in some ways the waiting to figure out what we are doing is over. In many others, it has just begun. As of November 1, Brian and I became official employees and members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. We are currently in training. We are taking several weeks of online classes and then our family will head to Orlando, FL for two weeks where we will enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Oh, and also attend more classes and training sessions to prepare us for the next step in our adventure.

The immediate next step is to gather a team of people who will partner with us in obeying God’s call for us to go. We need prayer partners and financial partners and those who will encourage us no matter where we go or what we do. We need people to come alongside of us, to lift us up and encourage us, especially when our close family and friends won’t be alongside us physically.

Our first assignment: advocates for the Bibleless peoples of the world and team building. This part will probably be the most uncomfortable for my introverted husband, as we’ll be talking to lots of people and answering questions about the world, and also about our lives and how and why we are doing what we are doing. Which begs the questions: What are we going to be doing?

Well, the short answer we are going to be working with minority language groups to further the cause of Bible translation. Brian will be doing much of the same work that he has done for the past 15+ years. He will be working as a computer programmer, coding and developing tools for others to use. The difference for Brian will be the end result, instead of lining the pockets of Coca-Cola and the like, he’ll be working on programs for linguistics and others involved in Bible (and health, education) translation to use in their work.

For me, after many years of using my linguistics degree to teach ESL, I will be moving in a different (and very welcome) direction. I will be working with a team of linguists to train locals in linguistic fundamentals so that they can work on their own translation projects. I may work in developing dictionaries, writing systems, and/or grammar and text analysis. I am excited about the possibilities as well as doing hands-on linguistics research and language development.

Our kids will be working on all the same things they are now (and hopefully making great progress, especially in responsibility and kindness!) They will be continuing their education at school and playing hard in their free time.

Now, you might be wondering where we will be doing all of this… well, so are we. God is working it all out (we are trusting and praying for that!) and hopefully, we’ll know that by the end of this year. We won’t be going to our next assignment (in that yet undecided location) until we have a great team partnering with us and all the other details are in place – probably at the beginning of 2017.

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Joint Mission

August 12, 2000, Brian and I were married at the church where I’d been working for the summer with the youth. We both knew that we needed to pay off debt before we could go abroad and felt like God was not directing us to go anywhere right away. We decided that in about 5 years we’d go serve God somewhere exotic. Shortly, we found a new church and found a great group of young couples whom we spent lots of time with studying God’s word, praying, playing, and even traveling. We worked (Brian as a computer programmer and myself as an ESL teacher), enjoyed time with friends and served in the church.

After a few years, we looked into Wycliffe again. We had Wycliffe recruiters who lived a few miles from us at that time. But, still God said: Not yet. Another couple years passed, we made some more contacts and looked into different opportunities in France several times over the years with different organizations and contacts. Always it seemed like God said: Not yet.

Before too long, our family began to grow. And, more kids came. We were happy where we were and yet still interested in the opportunity to live abroad, especially since I believed God really had called us to go, at some point. While raising our young kids, Brian continued to be an integral part of the worship team at church and I continued to lead Bible studies for women and teach kids. I also volunteered as an ESL teacher through the Arab-American Friendship Center and then later at the local library. I helped with our local MOPS group for several years where I learned a lot about leading a group, delegating and being humble. At various times, we’d sense God’s call and seek Him more, but each time God said: Not yet.

We just celebrated 15 years of being married with an amazing trip to Turkey. As of a month ago, I still heard God saying: Soon, but not yet. But, very recently, God said: Soon, very soon.

This past year has been one where we became convinced that God was calling us to go, but we weren’t sure where or how. So, we sought the advice of some wise folks and started looking at various opportunities. We talked to lots and lots of missions agencies, organizations and people. We attended some conferences and looked at jobs. We prayed and asked others to join in praying for us. For a few months, it seemed like we were moving along and God was opening doors and directing us, but then it seemed to slow down and even stop completely. God was saying: Wait.

I had a really hard time with that. I did not want to wait anymore. It’s not that I’m in a hurry to move, but I really want to know what the future holds for our family. I want all the answers and I’d like them spelled out in detail before it all happens. But, it was over this spring and summer that God really showed me how to wait on Him and to trust Him. I’d still like to know what lies ahead for us, but I understand that God is sovereign over all and He is at work – around the world so that many will come to know Him and live with Him forever. He isn’t only interested in the short-term, but our eternal futures.

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The Continuing Saga

In jr. high, my faith first became my own and I chose to follow Jesus, not just go to church or do what I thought was right (though, I did continue to do those things too.) It was also in jr. high, that I was challenged to start reading the Bible on my own. Read it daily, think about what you read, write down some thoughts and then live out what I was learning. I always excelled when given an assignment, this was no exception. The goal was measurable, achievable, and I was held accountable. There was a small blank for number of days in a row, that I filled in every day for almost a year before I missed one, and that was only because I went to an amusement park and didn’t get home until the next day. I didn’t stop then though, I was hooked on reading the Bible and getting to know God and His ways. I can’t imagine how I would’ve survived as a teen without that. It is through God’s word that I came to truly believe in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.

I was discipled by ladies in the church, who taught me how to study God’s Word and patiently answered my questions and asked me hard questions about choices I was making. In high school, I went on trips to various places in the US and abroad to serve and sing and share the gospel. These things were growing in me a desire to travel the world and live any and everywhere, serving and living for Jesus, so that others might know Him too. One of the trips that I did was a mock-missionary camp. We went to the jungle and lived a rustic existence far from modern civilization. At JAARS, Jungle Aviation And Radio Service, a support branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators, I learned about the great need for people to go and translate the Bible into thousands of languages that did not have the Bible in a language that they could read or understand. They might not even have a written alphabet at all. This was very interesting to me, someone who took all the language classes offered at her high school (include computer ones!) I came home from this trip sweaty and stinky, but excited about the mission field.

As I was deciding where to go to college and what to do with the rest of my life, I attended a huge missions conference, Urbana, and was challenged and encouraged by so many options and ways to share the good news of Jesus around the world. Also, the great need, especially in the 10/40 window, was impressed upon me. It was here, that I first got hold of a book that I’ve used ever since, Operation World. This is a book that details the nations and needs for prayer around the world. Now, I get a daily email reminding me to pray. At Urbana, I connected with some folks at Wycliffe again and also with some other missions agencies. I felt pretty certain that God was calling me into full-time missions, but needed to get educated first. So, I started applying to colleges and intended to study something international. I applied for received a scholarship from our church for students who would go into missions after university.

When my first international course of study, business, was a complete failure for me, I transferred to the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in Linguistics (Language Science). I became involved with the campus ministry now known as Cru. Through this ministry, I was discipled and learned to disciple others. When I studied abroad in the south of France, I met two girls who were doing a year internship with Cru and we partnered together in ministry there. I traveled with them and several others to Tunisia where we prayed and met with staff at the universities in Tunis. During my time in France and at U of M, God taught me to love and teach women and children, especially those of Muslim background, to study His word and to know Him through the Bible. It was also during the time in France, away from my long-time boyfriend and best friend, Brian, that we grew certain we wanted to get married.

As we spent our senior year of college, engaged to be married, we had a lot of talks about our future together. The couple who mentored us made us hash out a lot of our dreams and expectations before we got married. So, it was discussed that, at some time in the not too distant future, we would go into full-time missions overseas, or at least we were willing to go.

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The Journey Begins

When I was 5 years old, I sat my little sisters down in the basement and told them about the love of God for them and that they needed to believe that Jesus was the Son of God who died for them so that they could go to heaven. I told them that they needed to be friends with Jesus starting right then. So, they did. With a successful first missionary experience (that I honestly don’t really remember), I began a life long mission to help others know and grow in faith and friendship with Jesus Christ.

We often had missionaries in our home for dinner when I was very young. I enjoyed hearing stories of where they lived and what they did. I don’t recall any details, but this small thing was something that stuck with me. I would imagine myself traveling around the world and doing all kinds of missionary things… whatever that was. In my mind, missionaries simply flew on planes and then lived in really beautiful, but far away, parts of the world. They didn’t really do much aside from reading or maybe teaching and, of course, they went to church and sang. It seemed the ideal life for me.

One of the church activities that my sisters and I were involved in was Awana. I loved earning my badges by memorizing verses from the Bible. I was really good at it and got lots of candy and had my vest filled up. I still know many of those verses today.

There are some memories from my childhood that I believe have shaped who I am today. I remember people praying at church and so many times hearing amazing answers to those prayers, as people would report back and praise God for the way he worked. Most of all, I remember the ways that my mother trusted God. There were many times when she did not have enough money to cover expenses, but we were always cared for. I know how one day, someone at church stuck a large bill into her coat pocket just when it was most needed. I’ve heard about how for Christmas, my mother didn’t have extra money to but gifts, but miraculously a huge bag of gifts perfect for 3 little girls was left on our porch. There were several families who lovingly came alongside us and cared for us, cut our hair, encouraged and equipped my mother and her girls. And, of course, there’s the story of my favorite blue station wagon. It was beyond it’s last leg, but still barely running. My mom knew the end was near and took it to the car shop to trade it in for a new (to us) vehicle. That little blue car made it all the way into the car lot and broke down in the driveway. God answered prayers and showed himself in mighty ways in my childhood and my mom made sure that my sisters and I saw God’s hand in our lives, protecting and loving us.

This is a big part of who I am and how I started on the journey toward God and His way, no matter what or where.

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Closet Cleanse

I’ve somewhat recently learned about a minimalist or capsule wardrobe.

Step One: Figure out my style. What do I love? What do I feel good in? What do others compliment me on?

Step Two: Purge my closet. Does it fit? Is it appropriate? Do I love it? Will I wear it?

Step Three: Fill in the gaps. What do I want my wardrobe to consist of?

Step Four: Relish and refine.

My style… I don’t really know what my style is. I do know that I like to wear brighter colors, v-necks or boat-necks, scarfs or sweaters/cardigans for winter, cotton dresses or skirts for summer, and soft fabrics. I received a compliment on my coral shirt, striped cardigan, … and my haircut. I’ve received several compliments on a hand-me-down black jacket, and it does look nice, but it might not be my style. I’m ashamed to say that it is too trendy for me. My favorite pieces are really old, a bit classic, but still fun. Unfortunately, most of my favorite pieces need to be replaced. Finding a shirt or skirt that fits well, hangs just right, is comfortable and is reasonably priced is a task that takes more time and energy than I have for shopping. Of course, I think I could really enjoy this process if I were to take along a friend or two.

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Some Good Things

In the last year or so, I’ve adopted some new activities and some old ones too that I think have been very good.

I love to read, and I’ve always tried to take a few minutes before I go to bed, usually, to read. I’ve read several good books and here are a few that I thought were well worth the read.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Half the Sky by Sheryl WuDunn
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
All of these books are a little depressing. They are hard to read, not because of the vocabulary or grammar, but because they deal with difficult topics and issues. They are not a happy, life is good, sort of read. They are each the kind of book that will make you think and hopefully motivate some change, to reach out to others, to be stronger in the face of real life, which is not always pretty.

Volunteering regularly at the school has become part of my life, and it has been great to get to know the kids and adults that my kids spend so much of their time with. Driving to and from the different schools is a good time for me to listen to the news and other interesting stories, like Invisibilia.

One of the best things, we’ve done is: Babysitting Co-op. Some friends of ours, who also have three kids, take turns watching all the kids. Every three months, we take a turn to babysit nine kids for 3-1/2 hours one Saturday. The kids get along really well and have so much fun together. We feed them dinner and oversee their fun. For the other two months, Brian and I get to go out for a lovely evening, without the extra cost of a babysitter. It is wonderful!

Cooking club has been one of my new highlights each month. A group of 6 women, who are gourmandes and also happen to enjoy the cooking that goes with the eating of delicious food, gather once a month to dine and discuss. We alternate cooking and take turns hosting in our homes. It is a great time of talking and eating with friends. I didn’t know all of the women when we started, but I have gained several new and wonderful friends through this great club. I think it is probably not a coincidence that several of the women are French.

I am still running and enjoying my Friday cross-training class at the gym. Since it has been almost five years that I’ve been going each week, I’ve become pretty good friends with the teacher and some of the other regulars. We decided it was time to have some fun together outside of our class, so now we are going out monthly as well to chat and relax together.

With a church building, there has been lots of work to do there. So, I have been spending a fair amount of time helping with various odds and ends. Now, I’m going to help with cleaning each week as well. This is a good time for me to think and also be helpful to others. I only wish I found cleaning my home to be as therapeutic as cleaning the new church.

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As The Saying Goes

Time flies when you’re having fun. We must be having a lot of fun!

I think we really are, but we’re so busy it’s hard to be certain. School, church, sports (basketball for Josiah and gymnastics for Eila, plus exercising for me too), and home make up the routine of our days. We are trying to keep Sundays as our family day and play games, take a walk, or watch a movie together. Brian has been traveling for work about once a month, so that adds a little variety to the schedule. Eila’s gymnastics competitive season is in full swing and we are traveling at least a few weekends each month with her. In January, we went to Toledo and then on to Columbus to visit my family. It was so much fun for all of us – playing games with our cousins, shooting pumpkins, eating well, and just catching up with each other. At the beginning of February we enjoyed a long weekend in Chicago where Brian and I celebrated all of our special occasions for the year with a most delicious and fabulous meal at Moto. We also loved exploring the Museum of Science and Industry as well as doing a little shopping. One of the highlights of that trip was the stop we made on the way home to visit some dear friends. This weekend, Eila and I will take a girls’ trip to Holland; we’ll probably try to squeeze in a little shopping during our time away.

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