On turning 50!

In a little over two weeks, I turn 50.  Like the card we got for a friend last year says:  “Turning 50 used to be something old people did!”  Yet, here I am!

The first decade of my life was spent moving.  I remember 10 houses that we lived in during the first 10 years of my life.  A few weeks after my 10th birthday, I would enter 5th grade and the 5th different school.

The second decade of my life brought a lot of new experiences.  We moved to Germany when I was 13, I moved back to the States when I was 16, lived with my grandmother and finished high-school.  After 2 1/2 years of college, I got married a few weeks before my 20th birthday.

By the time I turned 30, I was fully wrapped up in my role as wife and mother.  With a 9 year old, a 6 year old, a one year old and a baby on the way, I had plenty to do!  Between turning 20 and 30, hubby and I had moved to Germany and started our ministry here.

The fourth decade of life brought even more changes.  Now a mother of 5 children, school life was our life!  Heidi turned 18 and started college.  So, although our family had grown, we were already starting to empty the nest.  We bought our house and for the first time in my life, I felt settled without thinking about moving in the near future.

And here I am turning 50!  Two daughters married, adding sons-in-law to our family.  Four precious grandchildren have also joined the family.  All of the kids are finished with school, I started teaching English and also tutor a number of students.  Hubby and I started a church and keep busy loving and reaching out to our church family as well as people in our community.

Here are a few things I have learned:

–I have been blessed far more than I deserve

–life will bring changes

–my relationship to God is the most important part of my life

–my relationship to God influences all of my other relationships

–my work will never be done

–I need to enjoy every moment of life

Me and the grandbabies!

Me and the grandbabies!

Emory

Emory

Me and my beautiful daughters.

Me and my beautiful daughters.

Kalie, Nekoda, and Anja

Kalie, Nekoda, and Anja

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Another grandson!

The last day of January, Nekoda Wald Christianson joined our family!  He is such a precious bundle and I love him to the moon and back already!

Nekoda

Nekoda

Every time I get new pictures of our grandchildren, it makes my day! Here are some other recent ones:

Anja, Nekoda, and Kalie

Anja, Nekoda, and Kalie

Emory

Emory

The 23rd of March I get to fly to the USA to visit.  I am very much looking forward to seeing our daughters, sons-in-law, and our grandchildren.  It will be a blessing to have Kassandra come home with me!

The last few weeks I have been doing an online Bible study with two of my sisters-in-law.  One disadvantage of living so far apart, is that I really do not know them well. The Bible study has been a good way to connect and their insights have challenged me.  So thankful!

Currently my reading material includes “The Broken Way,” by Ann Voskamp.  Here are a few quotes that have challenged me:

”  . . . in our human bodies, the cells that only benefit themselves are known as cancer.”

“Love will always make you suffer.  Love only asks, “Who am I willing to suffer for?”  . . Real love is patient and it bites its tongue.”

” . . a willingness to be inconvenienced is the ultimate proof of love.”

The hours of daylight are increasing here in northern Germany–a sure sign that Spring is on the way!

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2017

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A new year with new opportunities, but what I do, how I react, how much I love, how often I forgive, what I think–all of that will be the formation of 2017.  I desire to make wise choices, walk close to my God, think of other people more than I think of myself, be less critical and above all, keep my mind of heavenly things!

This is an exciting year for me!  In just a few weeks, another grandchild will be added to our family. The end of March, I will have the privilege of visiting my children and grandchildren in the USA.  In June, hubby and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage!  And, I turn 50 in July.

Here are a few pictures of Christmas, which was very quiet this year with only 4 of us here!

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Something to hold onto for the coming year:

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Christmas Time Is Here

Christmas music in the background, a cheesecake finishing up in the oven to take to our Advent’s coffee and cake time at church tomorrow, Christmas decorations all over, and strings of lights making the cold and dark seem a little more cheery!  I love Christmas and every part of it.  Most years I have a list a mile long waiting to get done which robs some of the joy of this special time of the year.  This year I am trying hard to enjoy the moments and not be frantic about my to-do list.

This pictures truly sums up Christmas:

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Here a few pictures from the last few weeks:

Erik and me getting ready to go to the Christmas Market.

Erik and me getting ready to go to the Christmas Market.

My Advent's wreath this year.  Our neighbor gave us the greenery.

My Advent’s wreath this year. Our neighbor gave us the greenery.

Table decoration

Table decoration

This little cutie has grown so much that he had to get his Christmas outfit early so he does not out grow it before Christmas!

This little cutie has grown so much that he had to get his Christmas outfit early so he does not out grow it before Christmas!

Kalie decorating a cookie.

Kalie decorating a cookie.

Our Anja!

Our Anja!

Missing our family especially this time of the year.

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Fall Vacation

Fall school vacation is half over.  This is the time of the year where I love the German school system–we had barely gotten going at school and it was already time for a break.  Of course, the down side is that we often have school until the end of July before the 6-week summer vacation.

Fall is definitely in the air with chilly temperatures and turning leaves.  This past week I enjoyed a walk around the lake in our town (and missed having Kassandra with me).

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Two weeks ago Fred participated in a course for the fire department to learn how to use the digital walkie-talkie.  To celebrate the accomplishment, he decided to take cookies to his group for the end of the next practice–and made the cookies himself!

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Travis is a big fan of the card game “Munchkin” and has about 20 different versions of the game.  The sad thing is that we haven’t played many of them, mostly because Kassandra does not enjoy the game.  So, while Kassandra is off in the USA, we decided to have a Munchkin tournament and play all of the extensions and versions.  That is what we do on Thursdays for family night.  So far, Erik has won 3 of the 4 games!  This past week we played “Munchkin–Nightmare Before Christmas.”

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Home Sweet Home

Four weeks ago today I was on my way to the Minneapolis Airport as the beginning of my long trip home.  The summer trip, so long in the planning, is now just a fading, but wonderful memory.  Here are some of the highlights:

Emory Lincoln Berry joined our family on July 18th!

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Time with children and grandchildren!

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We saw many friends whom we hadn’t seen for years, enjoyed super fellowship in our supporting churches, spent some time with extended family, and I, for one, enjoyed the heat!

The beginning of September, Fred and the boys flew home and I was off on my own adventure to visit my brothers and their families.  Words cannot express how thankful I am for that time!

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Thankful for pictures and for so many memories!

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Almost grandbaby

This morning when I got up, there were pictures from a photo shoot of Adam and Heidi where Baby Berry is obviously soon to make his/her appearance.  I love the suspense of not knowing if it is a girl or boy!

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Adam and Heidi

I grew up hearing that I should read the Bible through each year.  While I believe that is a noble goal, sometimes the pressure to just get through it, gets in the way of reading to understand.  So, last year, I ditched the goal of getting through the entire Bible and have been just reading a chapter in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.  Right now I am working my way through the minor prophets and have had verses pop out at me that are a comfort, challenge, and help!

Jonah 2:8–Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

Micah 6:8–He has showed you , O man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 7:7–But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord.  I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Thanking God today for His Word!

 

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June

Hubby and I celebrated our 29th anniversary this past week.  Although we had a plan for our lives when we got married, there has been so much in our lives that has not been planned.  It was impossible to see into the future or even imagine all of the people that would become part of our lives.  Our 5 children, 2 sons-in-law and our 2 (soon to be 3) grandchildren are such a huge part of who we are, that it is hard to remember life without them.  We have truly been blessed in these last 29 years!

A highlight of any day is getting new pictures of the grandbabies!

Flower girls at their Uncle Jacob's wedding.

Flower girls at their Uncle Jacob’s wedding.

A few weeks ago I was given a bouquet of Peonies.  I remember peonies growing next to our house in Merton, WI, and I remember them always being full of ants!  These were ant-free and changed colors!  They started out a deep pink and ended up pale yellow–so fascinating!

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Another quote from Ann Voskamp:

Busy is a choice

Stress is a choice

Joy is a choice

Choose well!

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Impossible

We have been reading the book, “Things Not Seen” by Jon Bloom, as a family.  Yesterday the chapter was about Abraham and Sarah.  This first paragraph jumped out at me:

“God is not content for us just to understand the idea that nothing is too hard for the Lord. He wants us to have the overwhelming joy of experiencing it.  But the some-times-agonizing period between his promise and his provision can push us to the brink of what we think we can believe, as it did for Abraham and Sarah.”

God, increase my faith, so I will believe, truly believe, that you can and will do the impossible!

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Grandmothers

This past Monday, Granny moved to heaven.  When my Aunt Darleen texted me with the news, my first thought was the quote from Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.”  I am sad.  I have shed tears.  But, I am also happy that Granny is in a place where there is no suffering or pain.  Reunited with loved ones who went on before her.  The thought that I no longer have grandparents is an odd one.  I am almost 50 years old and most people my age lost their grandparents years ago.  But knowing that fact doesn’t change that it is an odd feeling knowing I will never see them in this life again.

What a coincidence that Erik had requested Granny’s Caramel popcorn for his birthday last Saturday.  When I spotted rhubarb in the store this past week, I had to buy it and make Grandma Virtue’s Rhubarb Pudding–which is actually more like cake than pudding.  Both grandmas were excellent cooks!

Grandma Virtue on her 90th birthday.

Grandma Virtue on her 90th birthday.

The last picture I had taken with Granny.

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