Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Emily's Shower!

As you know, our daughter, Emily, is getting married in Bangladesh on March 20.  As we are walking this journey with her, we are finding out that there are MANY cultural differences when it comes to planning a wedding!  We are trying to honor both cultures as she embraces some of the Bengali traditions and lets some of the American ones go.  We approach each decision asking, "What is most honoring to Alpha's family and what is most honoring to our family?"  For instance, most Bengali marriages are arranged, although many of the young people are having what is called a "marriage of love" where they, not their families, chose their mate. So this is how a "marriage of love" would normally work.  The man would ask the woman if she is interested in marrying him.  If she says yes, then the man talks to his parents, they OK the choice with all the important people in the family, such as the oldest uncle, cousins and so on.  Then the man's family sets up a meeting with the woman's family to ask if the son can marry the daughter.  They come to an agreement and within 2 weeks or so, the couple gets married, with the families doing all the wedding planning.

You have to admit, this is a bit different from the way we do things, so when Alpha approached Emily back in May to ask if she would be willing to marry him, Emily immediately replied, "Yes!  But you will need to ask my father."  With panic in his voice, Alpha said, "No, it is our culture for my father to ask your father!"  to which Emily replied, "But it is MY culture for the man to ask the woman's father."  This was an issue of honor Emily was not willing to let go of and, believe me, we do feel honored and respected that a very nervous Alpha asked Jim over skype for our daughter's hand in marriage. 

Now, they still honored Alpha's family by asking his parents, who in turn had the whole family meet Emily and give their approval, then his parents talked to us about the marriage.  I am so proud of the way Emily has balanced walking down this tightrope between two cultures.

With that in mind, one of the things Emily was finding hard to give up was the idea of a bridal shower.  It is not something they do in Bangladesh, but it makes an American bride feel very special and allows her to tell her story and have her friends pour out their love on her.  She had mentioned this numerous times to me, so I knew that it was important to her, but I just didn't know how to pull it off.  She was going to be in Germany with us over Christmas and, not only did she not know anyone here, but the Germans would have probably thought I was crazy to ask them to buy pretty lingerie for my soon-to-be-married daughter. :0)

Emily and Claire
So, I came up with the idea of a surprise "distance-shower", kind of like distance-learning.  I invited a bunch of people to a Facebook group and disclosed my plan.  Anyone who would like to take part could send me money, I would go buy things from them for the shower (is it ever fun spending other people's money for someone you love!) and the two of us would sit in our German living room, open the gifts and read the notes.  Not quite as fun as a room full of people, but it would still be a special shower! 

As this progressed, our friend and fellow JV missionary, Laura Hash, got excited and volunteered host the party at her home in Poland, having some of the JV ladies who had been with us during the early years in Czech and Poland, including her best friend, Claire Patty, who was home for Christmas!

I can hardly remember a time when my daughter looked so beautiful, the anticipation and joy shinning in her eyes, as she was surrounded by people who had loved her since she was a child and as she opened gifts and heard words from friends and family from around the world!

To read about the shower from Claire's point of view and to see pictures of the two of them as children, check out Claire's blog at

I am so thankful to EACH of you ladies who participated, to Brenda Gudeman who collected the money for me, to Laura Hash for hosting and planning the shower and to Connie Patty for giving a beautiful charge to Emily about a true "marriage of love"!
Celebrating with children's peach-flavored bubbly!
 We are SO BLESSED!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Iceskating at the Laundry Mat!

I never expected to meet a professional ice skater at the laundry mat.  I woke up this morning not only to the shortest day of the year, but to a cloudy, cold, dreary day.  I've mentioned before how much I like hanging freshly laundered clothes on the line on a SUNNY day.  Well, as I contemplated the four loads of laundry I needed to do today, my thoughts were NOWHERE NEAR sunny.  I could just see us dodging wet clothes in the apartment for the next two days as they slowly dried. Just as I could almost feel the slap of a wet t-shirt across my face, Jim suggested we take the wet clothes to the laundromat to dry. Believe me, I jumped at the chance.

It was a busy day at the laundromat.  All the dryers were in use, but I was sure a couple would come open soon.  As I tuned in to the conversations around me, I realized the two guys pulling dry cloths from the dryer were speaking what sounded like American English to each other. The couple folding sheets together was also speaking English.  The two guys left and I went up to the other couple and said, "I think I recognize your accent, are you Americans?"  "Well, no," they graciously replied, "we are actually Canadians. Aye?" 

So we started talking and swapping stories of what brought us to Leipzig.  Next, a very tall black man came in and heard us and asked if we were Americans.  We all laughed.  I said I was, but that the others were Canadians and that we were all North Americans.  He smiled and said, "I'm 'further' North American.  I'm from Alaska!"  When I asked him what he was doing in Leipzig, he said, "I arrived yesterday and I am a professional ice skater."

OK, now if any of you have been around when I get excited (just ask anyone who has seen me watch a Bronco game) you can just imagine my response when it all come together in my mind and I realized he was in town to skate in the Holiday on Ice show!!!! I gave him a big hug and said, "I can't believe it!  I keep telling my husband we have to go." "Well," he said, "my family is not here and I get a certain amount of free tickets, would your family like to be my guests?"  So, by the time our laundry was dry, we were going to Holiday on Ice for free AND we had invited him and two of his friends over for Christmas brunch, complete with turkey and all the trimmings!  (They skate two shows on Christmas Day, so they will just have to have turkey early!)

So, next time you are doing laundry or just putting on a freshly laundered shirt, take a minute to pray for Lee and his friends, that they will feel welcome in our home and feel a bit of Jesus' love this Christmas.  (And think of me Sunday night, sitting with a big smile on my face, as I enjoy Holiday on Ice!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving, a Polish Angel and a Black Eye

A Polish Angel
We're driving through Poland, anxious to get back to Germany after our Thanksgiving celebration in Czech.  We are already delayed one day because of the freezing rain that had turned the roads to ice.  As we pass through the outskirts of a town, the car behind us starts flashing its lights.  Jim looks down at his speed. No, he's not speeding. He checks to make sure his lights are on, as it is the law in Poland to always drive with your lights on. Can't be that, his lights are on.  The car pulls up next to us with the driver waving frantically.  The car pulls over and we pull over in front of him.  A man gets out of his car and comes up to my window, rapidly speaking and waving his hands.  Jim gets out of the car and through hand motions and pointing, we figure out that our right back tire is loose and wobbling back and forth as we drive.  Upon closer inspection, Jim sees that two of the five lug bolts are broken completely off!  The man drives away and we slowly pull out, looking for a gas station or somewhere to get it looked at.  Within about 2 minutes, we see a tire store with a garage!  We leave our car and call our friends, Dan and Laura Hash, who live nearby.  As we tell the story to Laura, she says, "Wow, that man sounds like an angel!"  To which Jim replied, "Yes, and he looked an awful lot like Dick Patty!"  (Dave Patty's father, for those of you who know him.)

Well, this was the culprit. A small ring, about the size of a bracelet, had mistakenly been left on the axle after the summer tires were removed and the winter tires put on!   Too many more kilometers and our tire would have come completely off!  I'm not saying that all angels are Polish, but God sure sent us a Polish one that day!

A Black Eye

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Czech with about 100 of our American Josiah Venture teammates and families!  (To read more about our Thanksgiving gathering, check out Connie Patty's blog post at

Now, no Thanksgiving would be complete without a rousing game of American football.  So, Jim went down to the field to join in on the game of flag football.  As he looked around, he noticed he was the only one there over the age of 50.  That should have been his first clue!  But, no, he goes ahead and dives in where all other men over 50 tremble to tread!  But, never being one to hesitate, he came back with the greatest souvenir of all, a manly looking black eye!!!

So, weather you think angels are Polish or that black eyes are manly, we know this Thanksgiving will go down in our "Thankful Book" as the Thanksgiving God used a Polish Angel to deliver us and a black eye to remind us that we aren't as young as we once were!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Must Believe in Something

I remember working in an office supply warehouse during college.  We would walk up and down the isles filling the orders to fast, pulsating music.  I'm sure they played this to help us keep up a fast pace.  I specifically remember dropping reams of paper and boxes of uniball pens into tubs on the conveyer belt to the sound of Laura Branigan singing "Self-control".  There was a line in there that always made me think: "I must believe in something, so I'll make myself believe it".

That line came rolling back into my mind as I stood in the Zeitgeschichtlichs (Time History) Museum of Leipzig yesterday.  Walking through the museum is a small walk through the history of Eastern Germany (DDR) from the end of WWII to the fall of the Berlin Wall. We went up two flights of stairs and entered double doors into a shadowy hall surrounded by loud German audio clips swirling through the air. I heard leaders yelling their speeches, loud German crowds chanting and then, suddenly in the midst of it all, I heard the strong American voice of Ronald Regan saying, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall"!

As we walked through the museum, I was drawn in by the pictures of young soldiers, frozen in time, staring directly at me.  Videos of magnificent, historic churches being imploded and crumbling to the ground like a sandcastle. A mural, strategically placed behind a real tank, of a street packed with demonstrators fleeing in panic as tanks rolled into the city. Then I saw the picture that captured my heart...
I froze in front of it.  I slowly stepped closer as if drawn into the eyes of every one of those young people; drawn into their hopes; drawn into their dreams; drawn into the very promise of a future.  And now, I was living in that future.  Where were they now? Did they still have hope, dreams, a future?

Just then, Jim called me over to a poster...
 Our friend explained that it was an invitation to the Communist induction of young people into the Communist party.  He told us that they had done away with the church confirmation of children and had replaced it with a Socialistic type of confirmation.  They even had the "10 Commandments" of Socialism.
 The commands were such things as #1 - Thou shalt always work for the international solidarity  of the working class and all working people as well as securing the connection of all the socialist countries from destruction. #4 - Thou shalt accomplish good for socialism because socialism leads to a better life for all working people.  #8 - Thou shalt educate your children to be formed to the socialistic spirit of peace, characteristics and physically tempered people.

The Communists knew what we know.  If you can capture the hearts of young people, you can change a country.  Now, back to the phrase of song running through my head, "I must believe in something, so I'll make myself believe it".  The generation during Communist times needed to believe in something, so the government tried to give them something to believe in.  And this present generation of young people?  They must believe in something too, but will it be something that they must "make" themselves believe in, or will it be something that they can truly believe in because it is the truth?  Will we be there when they are asking the questions, when they are looking for meaning, when they are gazing with hope into their future?  THAT is why we are here.  THAT is why we left our home in the U.S.!  The young people need to know that the ONLY TRUE foundation of belief is Jesus Christ. 

 Pray for us as we interact with the young people here, that they will be drawn to true belief.  Pray that we will get the German language quickly so that we can share with them the words of life!  Pray that they will realize that there truly is something worth believing in!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jim's laugh pays off again!

Anybody who has met Jim knows that his laugh is one of the most delightful things about him. It's contagious!  It's loud! And it comes from his very depths!  It is actually one of the things that drew me to him in the first place.

Well, today his laugh paid off BIG TIME!!!!!  I told you about the beautiful apartment in the little village I had to give up? Then, yesterday, I posted this on facebook:
"Everyone, please pray. We just looked at an apartment that would work perfectly for our ministry here. The layout, price and location are perfect. We called the landlord and he is sendIng us the paperwork. There are about 20 other families interested in it. Pray the owner would choose us! Most of all, God's will be done."

Well, WE GOT THE APARTMENT!!!!!!  Jim had asked the owner, Herr Swartzenberger, on Saturday how he would choose who would to live in the apartment.  Herr Swartzenberger replied, "It is a feeling in my stomach!"  Today when he called, Jim asked him why he chose us and he said, "You are so funny!"  Now if you know anything at all about Germans, they are not usually known for their frivolity so, to tell you the truth, I don't think a one of them had a chance against Jim's laugh if Herr Swartzenberger was looking for someone who was funny!!!!

Today, before we heard from Herr Swartzenberger, we were watching someone in the building we are staying in move out.  It was quite amazing!  They had this little elevator thing that went up and down from the 4th floor window to the back courtyard!  It was so cool I told Jim, "I hope we get to do that soon"!

And now we will be able to!!!  We will be moving into our new place on February 1 and staying in the apartment just below the one in the picture until then.  That is another answer to prayer.  The family we are staying with right now owns this whole building and the 3rd floor apartment is available until...yes, you guessed it...February 1, so they had said we could use it if needed until that time.

God is so incredibly creative in His care for us!  He uses people, little elevators and even my husband's laugh to take care of us!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Complexity of Simplicity

I have often thought about how I would love to make my life simpler.  Kind of "go natural".  Don't rely on machines so much.  Live close enough to a store to walk instead of always driving.  Take the stairs instead of the know, things like that.

 I will tell you that I got my wish and I am loving it...most of the time!  I do love hanging the laundry out on the line on a beautiful fall day like today!  It's just...well...the last couple of days when it was cold and rainy and I had to hang it in the bedroom to dry.

So, I'm trying to figure this out.  I like walking to the store...when it's nice out and not too far away.  I like cooking from scratch...when I have enough time and all the ingredients on hand (and can understand the recipe!).  I like hanging my laundry out...when it's warm and it will dry and I don't have to hang it in my bedroom.

But what about when I HAVE to walk to the store because there isn't enough parking for me to take the car?  What about when I HAVE to cook from scratch because they don't have "Cream of Mushroom Soup"?  Yes, there is a complexity to this simplicity and I know that once I hit my rhythm it will start to feel natural, but in the meantime...

So, we have been here Germany for almost 4 weeks and here in Leipzig for 3 weeks.  Right away we started looking for a place to live and found a beautiful apartment on the square of a small village!  It is everything I want in a place.  Lots of sunlight, an open floor plan, big rooms and a big kitchen, a guestroom, two bathrooms and an office!  Perfect! And it is in our budget, albeit the top of our budget.  We started the paperwork and have until the 21st of this month  to sign it.

Have you ever heard of God's grace in saving us from ourselves?  It seems that He often does this for me.  I get something in my mind and can think of a million reasons it is the best plan.  When we first arrived in Leipzig, we were living with a family in that little village.  The last week, we have moved into an apartment in the city of Leipzig to house-sit for a family while they are gone.  Every day we have people dropping by, eating meals with us, using our shower and restroom, sitting down to drink coffee with us.  Hum...remember the part about "Coffee in Leipzig"?  Oh yeah, it's at the top of this blog...  But I LOVE the place in the little village.  In fact I love it so much that I asked God that if it was not His will for us to have it that HE would take it away, not Jim...because I didn't want to be mad at Jim.  (Yes, it's true, I don't always smile at my husband and say, "OK, Dear"!)  Well, God had a better idea, He had ME take it away from myself!  As we have been in the city center this week I see how much I LOVE having my house accessible to people.  I love being surrounded by conversation, laughter and...yes, you got it...COFFEE!!!!!

So, pray for us that God will guide us to the right apartment and in His timing.  I am praying we will be able to move in somewhere by Dec.1, since Emily and Jared are coming Dec. 14 for Christmas...but I'm starting to hold on to that loosely, also.  (Notice I said "starting"?)

It is such a privilege and JOY to be here!!!!  Thank you so much to each of you who made it possible.  God is already giving us incredible relationships, great German teachers, connections with the youth and the youth staff and such a peace about His plan! Now if I can just figure out which store I need to walk to to buy more clothes pins!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm so glad I'm not on this honeymoon by myself!

Twenty-five years ago today I said those words to my new (all of one day) husband.  We had flown to Minneapolis from Denver the day after our wedding and were driving our rental car to the "North Woods" where we would spend our week-long honeymoon in a time-share condo my parents had gifted us for our wedding.  It was a beautiful drive down tree strewn back roads.  I was drinking in the lush green, as I was from the brown high-desert of Colorado.  My eyes could not feast enough on the vibrant colors!

Suddenly, there was a loud bang and our car started swerving crazily.  My "knight in shining armor" carefully guided our errant steed to the side of the road and got out to check the problem.  Yep, we had a flat tire.  This new bride watched as Jim deftly jacked up the car and changed the tire.  As I stood there observing, that's when I uttered those loving words for the first time, "I'm sure glad I'm not on this honeymoon by myself, or I'd be changing that tire!"

That phrase has become our battle cry as we enter into hard situations, new adventures and uncertainty together, "I'm sure glad I'm not on this honeymoon by myself!"

A couple of days ago, as I was going through a drawer to get it ready for moving, I found this card that I had given Jim on one of our first anniversaries.

Notice, the little old lady even has red hair!!

So yesterday, on our 25th wedding anniversary, I gave it to him again!  I think we laughed even harder than the first time I gave it to him! Actually, without knowing it, I had set the theme for the anniversary evening Jim had planned.  As we sat in the restaurant at a romantic table by the fireplace, Jim handed me a gift bag.  Inside was this:

 Yes!  He had gone through every letter of the alphabet and written one or two memories!  What an incredible time we had laughing and reading through each page as we ate the delicious dinner Nate and Raine had given us for just such an occasion!  (Aren't Groupons great!!)

So, let me share some of those memories with you through pictures.

The happy couple 25 years ago!
Tired, but happy, on the way to our honeymoon!

The happy couple 25 years later, a bit older, but still happy neither of us are on this honeymoon by ourselves!
As we head on this new adventure to Leizig, I am extremely glad that I am not on this honeymoon by myself!  Jim is my calming presence when I get overwhelmed. He puts the "add" in "adventure", without the addition of him, it would just be a venture.  He laughs at all my silly jokes and air-headed ways!  His insight and wisdom keeps me grounded.  He is the best anniversary gift I could have!

So, here I am again, telling Jim, "I am so glad I am not on this honeymoon by myself!"

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fouth of July Cultures, Communities and Quirks!

Being from a small town in Colorado, Fourth of July was always a day to look forward to.  We would get on our bikes and head to downtown Loveland to watch the parade.  I loved scrambling after the candy thrown from the floats!  I would excitedly jump up and down and wave my flag back and forth as the Larimer County Queen would ride by in her glittery chaps and dazzling cowgirl hat, wishing I could be her!
In Loveland, you may very likely see the Budweiser Clydesdale coming up the street,
while in nearby Greeley, it would be Longhorns,
and there's nothing quite like watching the marching band in Steamboat Springs ski down the street!
Yet I experienced something this Independence day that I had never experienced before...the Anderson, Indiana Fourth of July Speedway Race!
There was the ear shocking cacophony of engine clamor, cars spinning out of control, a driver jumping out of his car to try to smash his fist through the window of the driver who caused him to crash, trailers with things such as a toilet or a couch strapped to them fishtailing behind pickups!  I never could have even imagined an afternoon like this, then follow it up with an incredible fireworks display and much laughter as we headed back to our friends' house to fall exhausted into bed and I think we had about the most perfect Fourth of July ever!  I love small-town America with all her various cultures, communities and quirks!  What a way to celebrate our independence!

I know they have the fourth day of July every year in Leipzig, but I have my doubts that it will look anything like Fourth of July in Indiana or Colorado.  I'll have to get used to fireworks on January 1 and "autobahns" (highways) that look like speedways, as they have no speed limit!  I know I'll miss much about living here in America, but I also am looking forward to experiencing the culture, community and quirks of living in Leipzig.

I would love to hear some of your Fourth of July traditions and memories!  I'm sure they're as quirky as mine!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Tale of the Bobcat and the Baby Bird

What do a bobcat and a baby bird have in common?  They both make lots of noise and they were both in my back yard today!  I knew the bobcat was coming, but the baby bird was a total surprise!

This morning, our friend John Smith brought his bobcat and his crew to clear away the rubble the Bible Study Boys had left in our yard from the sun room demolition. He brought his bobcat, his dump truck and his crew!

That bobcat was SOOO cool!
It had a hammer...

a shovel...

and LOTS of noise! (Notice the ear muffs!) :0)
And the dump truck!

Way Cool!
So, it turned this...
into this!

So, what about the baby bird?  Yes, it was there all the the birdhouse right by the demolition sight!  As I went to check it out when it was done, I kept hearing loud peeping, and there that baby was with his mouth wide open, waiting for the dust to settle and his mother to come feed him.

And by the way...

I don't need the "ear muffs" for this noise, 'cause this the sweet sound of a job well done!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Coffee, Please!

You know how it is when you come to the end of something you really enjoy and you just want more?  That is where I am right now.  I told you about my "mom's place" where Jim brings me my cup of coffee, I take in the beauty outside of my window and I meet with God.

View of Leipzig from the top of a university building
Last fall, my women's Bible Study did a Beth Moore study called The Patriarchs. This was the first Beth Moore study I have ever done, and it seemed as if God was talking directly to me.  As Abram was being called to leave his home and go to an unknown country, God was calling Jim and me to leave our home and go to Leipzig. As I read about God telling Abraham that He would give him every place he stepped his foot, it was as if He was telling me to spend much of my first year in Leipzig doing prayer walks, claiming the city for Him.

View of the university square
Since that time, I have worked through A Woman's Heart: Study of the Tabernacle and just yesterday morning I finished Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent.  As I was nearing the end of this study, I started feeling like I do when I near the end of a good cup of coffee.  I kind of slowed down and wished for another!  God knows my heart very well and so does my wonderful husband.  Just as he keeps an eye on my coffee cup in the morning and brings the pot in for a refill, he kept his eye on my study book and a couple of days ago came home with a fresh refill!  So today I started Children of the Day: I&II Thessalonians!  Just as he refills my coffee cup before I can say, "One more cup of coffee, please!", so he refilled my soul before I could say, "One more study, please!"

A fresh cup of coffee
A fresh Bible study

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Buy, Fill, Gone

So, what do you do with all kinds of trash, including huge pieces of glass from our sun room?  I have many times in my life wished for a magic wand that I could wave over a mess and say "gone" and off it would disappear.  Well, that didn't EXACTLY happen today, but replace the wand with a crane on top of a trash truck, and you pretty will have it!!!

We were in the house early this morning when we heard the "beep, beep" of a large truck backing up. Sure enough, Jim ran out front and was able to capture the "disappearance" on his camera! 

Some of the Glass that went into "The Bag"

Some of the junk that went into "The Bag", not Emily!

Guys filling "The Bag"




's gone!!!!!
Now, if only the rest of the house packing were that easy!!! :0)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Coffee, Donuts and a Sledge Hammer

Today was our church's "Great Day of Serving" and did we ever get served!!!  The guys in Jim's Bible Study came over and demolished our sinking and ever-flooding sun room!  They brought sledge hammers, a chainsaw, cement saw, hedge clippers, squeegees, coffee and donuts!  They not only took care of our sun room, but trimmed trees and bushes, washed windows, sanded iron railings and had an incredible time laughing and working!  They ended by praying over us and blessing us, our house and our move to Germany!  What an incredible day!  Have fun looking at the pictures!

 Thanks, Guys!!!