Today, the 24th of April, it snowed. No, it didn’t stick to the ground, but for a while, it looked like a blizzard outside! Flowers are blooming, the leaves are budding on trees and I could barely see our neighbor’s house because of the snow. Needless to say, I am more than ready for spring and warmer weather.
Yesterday we celebrated Erik’s birthday. I feel like I blinked and he is 17, a year away from adulthood.
I remember the day Erik was born, the husband of a lady in our church died. I felt bad that she would remember his birth with the passing of her husband, but she assured me that life is a cycle of being born and dying. Right now I wait to hear that my dear Granny has entered heaven. She has lived 92 years–not just years but full years. Full of family, love, and giving, moving dozens of times with 6 children as she followed her Army husband around the USA and even across the ocean. Granny was good at adjusting to new situations and making the best of them–a trait I still lack but hope to learn more and more from her example. Having to bury one of her children in his mid 20’s took its toll on her. Although she has been criticized for grieving too much, I have always understood her grief. Maybe I grieve in a similar way. I recently contemplated how crazy I am about my own grandchildren. I adore them and love to tell everyone about them–the cute things they do and say–and show off their pictures. Funny, I never perceived that my grandparents were crazy about me like that, but maybe they were and I just didn’t realize it. I am certain they all loved me deeply. I have been blessed indeed to have known all 4 of my grandparents and 3 of my great-grandparents. Memories do not die, so they live on in my memories and also in how they influenced me.
Even though our weather is not very spring-like, flowers are starting to bloom and add splashes of color to the dreary grey all around us. Last week Kassandra and I bought some flowers to plant by the front door. I also needed a new window box and, of course, was looking at the white ones. She encouraged me to think “color” and I love the result!
Easter Sunday is seldom what I was used to in the States. Since Good Friday and the Monday after Easter are holidays, a lot of people use the extra long weekend for a mini-vacation or visit to relatives. That means, that Easter Sunday is the lowest attended service in the year! And, the whole idea of Easter dresses, bonnets, and other finery are not part of our culture. I do buy some Easter lilies every year to take to church which helps make things a little festive.
Saturday our family listened to a sermon entitled “Christianity without the Cross.” Without Christ’s death, we would not celebrate his resurrection, that is obvious. The speaker used the passage where Peter rebuked Jesus for saying He would have to suffer and die. Peter wanted Jesus to continue to heal the sick and feed the hungry, not suffer and die because he was earthly minded. How easy it is for me to be earthly minded–to think more about the physical needs and earthly pressures than keep my thoughts on heavenly things. God has so much more for me than earthly pleasures!
Easter Sunday was also the 2nd birthday of our precious Anja! I am amazed over and over again at how I can love our grandchildren so much. They are so precious and I am extremely thankful for our regular interaction on Skype.
We are blessed to have 3 of our 5 children still at home. Although family time has to be fought for because everyone’s schedule is different, I am thankful for our children, and as our years of having teenagers winds down, I can only say that I have enjoyed having teenagers.
Erik’s apprenticeship is learning to do bike repairs and run a bike shop. He works from 8:30 AM to 6 PM with a 90 minute lunch break. The shop where he works is about a 5 minute bike ride from home so he comes home on his lunch break and works on home-schooling to finish his high-school work. However, every few weeks he has “career school” which means he has to leave the house shortly after 6 AM take 3 different trains to the school that teaches the theoretical part of his training. After 3 weeks of school, he is looking forward to going back to work and sleeping a little later every morning!
Travis continues his apprenticeship as an electrician. He works from 8 AM to 5 PM–unless they have extra work to do and then he works later. He goes to school either one or two days a week depending on the semester. Right now he is working on his driver’s license which is an ordeal in Germany! Saturday was his first drive on the Autobahn–with his driving teacher, of course. He got up to a speed of 130 kilometers per hour which is about 78 miles per hour!
Kassandra is back to going to school 5 days a week and has to ride 2 different trains. When she is home, I love listening to her music. She plays piano, flute, and ukulele. She has new flute music that she plays along with a background CD. I could listen to her all day long!
Our hours of daylight have greatly increase over the last few weeks. My daffodils are almost ready to bloom and there are crocus blooming all over town. I am ready for some warmer weather and am really looking forward to thawing out this summer when we spend 8 weeks in the States!
Kalie and Anja reading in bed
Kassandra at an aquarium we visited.
Erik trying to un-bomb a photo!
Our family has a lot to look forward to! A new baby joining us in July, time spent in the States with friends and family, and a week plus a few days as a family of 12. But, what about today? At the end of the summer, I have to say good-bye to my grandchildren, my sons-in-law (who are so gracious to open their hearts to our family), and my 3 daughters. Kassandra will be staying in the States for 8-9 months to spend time with her sisters and experience day-to-day life in the country of which she is a citizen but has never lived in. The anticipation of fun times this summer gets gloomy at the idea of a good-bye. So, I choose to live today, enjoy today, have fun TODAY! A constant longing for the future steals the joy of today and I want my joy to be full today!
I picked up “War of Words” by Paul Tripp to read once again and have been challenged in so many areas of my life already. Here a quote from page 98:
“To the degree that you have based your life on something other than the Lord, to that degree God’s love and the hope of the Gospel will not comfort you . . . there are only two types of bread: Christ, the Living Bread , and everything else. We set our hearts either on Him or on something else. . . . .Which bread do you hunger for?”
A Schneeglocke (snow bell) blooming in our yard!
This morning I saw a single Schneeglocke in our yard and a bunch more while I helped Erik deliver his papers. The first little flowers the bloom are a sign that Spring is on its way–YAY!!!
Baby on the way!
Our New Year came in loudly and beautifully with fireworks going up all over town. Another year already over and a brand new year for a brand new start. We were blessed beyond what we could imagine in 2015; and yet, there were also unexpected difficulties and trials. No doubt, this year will bring the same–blessings and trials, all unexpected. I am reminded of the Christmas song that says: “You choose for me, dear Santa Clause, what you think is best.” Only, I look to my loving, heavenly Father and say: “You choose for me, what is best.”
Our 3 amazing teens
Hubby and me
Kalie and Anja in the dresses I made them.
This year we had a special treat with the visit of my niece, Calah, here for 3 weeks. We all had normal school/work days, but she fit right in, helped us where she could, and got to experience a few German customs during the Advent season.
Calah helped buy the Christmas tree.
A few more pictures of December at our house:
Erik and his new glasses
Cousin game time
family picture before Calah left
I love Christmas! Immediately after Thanksgiving, we haul out the Christmas decorations, start blaring Christmas music through the house at almost every waking hour, and start the Christmas baking. This year, I once again made our Advent’s wreath from “scratch.” The pine cones were gathered this past summer when Kalie and I took a walk in the woods. What a special memory!
A few months ago, my friend Daniela and I decided to make a croquembouche for the coffee and cake time at the church this December. It was a mammoth project, but for our first time, we thought it turned out quite nicely. Daniela especially had fun making spun sugar!
Daniela and me with our masterpiece!
Last year I found this on Facebook and it captivated me. What a great combination of a typical Christmas verse with the word “forgiven” emphasized–catching the true meaning of Christmas!
As I write, a pecan pie is in the oven baking. Two pumpkin pies are cooling on the window sill behind me. The turkey is thawing and the shopping has been completed. Once again, we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with fellow Americans but also German friends who have ties to the States. Since it is not a holiday here, we have to work to make a Thanksgiving dinner happen. Erik doesn’t get off of work until 6 pm when the bike shop is closed. His boss is part of the group that joins us for the meal, so we have to wait for the two of them to get off of work, get home, and change clothes.
Although the Thanksgiving meal is a highlight of our day, we strive to keep the main focus on “being thankful.” Just a few days ago, I reached 5,000 on my list of blessings that I started a about 4 years ago. The thrill I had when I reached 1,000 gets less each time I get to another one thousand mark; instead, I find myself grieved that I have missed so many blessings and still have not truly learned the art of being thankful in all things. So, tomorrow we will practice, once again, focusing on God’s many, many undeserved blessings!
As this year slowly comes to an end, the book “Praying with the Psalms” continues to be a blessing and challenge to me. Here the devotional from November 19:
“The praising mind moves from the stuff of creation to the data of history. God is not only magnificent in what He has made, He is tremendous in what He does; He has made a glorious world and He acts out a stirring salvation.
Prayer: Thank You, O God, for giving me a splendid world in which to live and for living in the world with me; for providing this place for living and then entering the process of living itself; for being both Creator and Savior to me; in Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Morning sun at almost 8 AM.
Our white board.
One of the big signs of autumn here in northern Germany is that the hours of daylight decrease drastically. Since we are so far north, our summer days have only a few hours of darkness; but, that changes in the winter. Soon, I will be sending the kids off to work/school in the dark. Actually, depending on when they leave in the mornings, they are already leaving in the dark. During the dead of the winter, Travis leaves in the dark and comes home in the dark. A few years ago, an acquaintance mentioned that a storm had gone through and she didn’t realize until the weekend how terrible her yard looked since she goes and comes in the dark. Add to that the people who work indoors–some of them never are out in the daylight during the winter months. So, we go through a lot of candles, trying to make the dreary a little more homey!
THIS, from “Praying with the Psalms”
“God does not interrupt His redemptive providences every time we lose sight of His ways in order to explain and prove what He is doing. He does not take time out to demonstrate the truth of His Word every time we grow impatient. As a result, we sometimes are plunged into obscurity–all dryness and doubts–and fear we can’t make it. Nevertheless, because God is, we can.”