Sunday, October 31, 2010

Aunt Norma Jean

During our visit to Grandma Hope's we took a day trip to Souix Falls to visit my Aunt Norma Jean.  I didn't include it in my previous post about Grandma's because, well, I figured it needed it's own post.  My dear Aunt Norma is a very special part of my life.  Although I've never lived in extremely close proximity to her, she has always felt close....Besides being one of the sweetest people you will meet, she is also a strong prayer warrior on my behalf.  I'm thankful for her in my life and grateful for her prayers.  I love my Aunt Norma Jean and we enjoyed our visit to her home this past week.

It was Caleb's first time in South Dakota!

It was also his first snow!  He made all sorts of goofy faces when the cold, wet snow hit his face.  Then, once we were safe inside he enjoyed watching it from Norma's big can't see the snow too well in this picture (it was just a light dusting) but he's pretty cute to look at!

Caleb also had all sorts of fun checking out Norma's chair....I think she wins "coolest person" in his book for her sweet ride.....He (of course) loves everything with a motor, so this for sure had his full attention. 

Check out this short clip of Caleb:

He also enjoyed meeting Cokoa (Norma's kitty).

Although, I'm not sure Cokoa enjoyed meeting Caleb quite as much......

But I do have to say, Cokoa handled it well (for the most part)

It was a great trip and I am just so thankful for this dear auntie in my life -- For her prayers, her encouragement, her love, her support and her constant concern for me and for rmy family.  We are so blessed by you, my dear Auntie!

Who reads this lil blog, anyway?

I'm still learning about this blogging business but recently noticed there is a 'stats' page and one feature on it is a map showing all the countries that have people who have viewed my blog.....It was fun to see becuase as I noted the different countries I had a pretty good idea of who in that country might be viewing our little blog....growing up an MK I know we have a lot of friends all over the world and it is fun to be connected to all of you.....Thanks for your love and support!

So far I've had views from the following countries:
United States, Norway, Canada, Germany, South Korea (woohoo!), Singapore, India, Russia, Senegal, and Austria.

If you are a distant friend keeping up with us through this blog, please leave a comment and let me know you're checking in with us!

Bestimor's House

Well, it has been a week and I'm now back to the world of blogging...and Houser Updates.  As Steve posted last week, Caleb and I spent the week at Grandma Hope's while Steve attended his orientation at RTS.  He had a great week meeting the faculty that will support him in his virtual classes, meeting fellow classmates who flew in from around the country, and pondering his thesis topic (family worship).  Caleb and I, meanwhile, enjoyed our stay in Lake Benton, MN...population 703. 

Grandma Hope (or Bestimor, as she prefers) is probably the busiest grandma and great grandma one could ever meet....between water arobic, Bible studies, volunteering at the mealsite, church, nannying for 3 small children, baking pies, visiting friends, dropping off eggs to people's homes, running out the the farm, gardening, canning, cooking meals for people, playing cards, hosting parties and running errands, it is a wonder she has time to sit and have tea with me and play with her great-grandson!  Needless to say, we had a busy week.  But we enjoyed our time and I do have to say it is refreshing to be away from the computer, internet, blogging, facebook and cell phone for a week!  As fun as these things are, they do fill up more time in our lives than I wish they did and it was a good reminder to be better at setting the computer aside more often.

One thing I love about Bestimor is how welcoming and loving she is to so many people....her home is not the biggest on the block, but I’m sure it can hold the most people!  There always seems to be room for whomever decides to stop over and there is always a warm welcome and usually a treat waiting too.

Another thing I love is all the FOOD.  Bestimor seems like she is always able to turn everything into a feast….and there is usually plenty of fresh farm eggs, milk, meat, honey, butter…NUM.

And this time there was real, homemade GRAPE JUICE...grown from her very own grapes in the backyard. When you open the jar (which she canned herself), you strain it out into a pitcher, crushing the grapes up to add to the juice and then throwing out the pulp.  Add another few cups of water and presto--grape juice.  I was impressed, anyway. 

And twist her arm hard enough (which usually isn’t very hard) and she’ll probably bake you a pie or two or three….because you can’t just have apple pie!  What about cherry and custard?!? 

I enjoyed observing her (because she probably makes some of the best pies you’ve had, next to my own mama who hands down makes the best…and I don’t just say that because mom’s reading this) so I thought I’d take my chance to learn a thing or two.

I also enjoyed many, many cups of tea (with tasty treats) and some long conversations, curled up on the couch while that nasty wind almost blew the house over.

And while Caleb was napping (he did eventually nap some) and Grandma was out running around, I got some reading done…..Including the book To Fly Again by Gracia Burnham, which is a book I’ve read before but re-read and remembered again how much I enjoyed it the first time.  I devoured it in an afternoon and have decided to add it to my list of books to read once a year.  It is that good.  I would highly, highly recommend it.  It is an easy, fascinating read full of truth for life.

Caleb enjoyed finding the tupperware cupboard! 

And when we weren't running around or napping, he spend most of his days here....pulling everything out, laughing and chewing on the various plastic he found.

Oh and curiously watching Bestimor bake, cook and clean.

We ended a great week welcoming Steve back and making Ableskivers….

Incredible NUM.

And not pictured, the chocolate ganache filled ones she made for ‘dessert’…as if breakfast needs dessert!

Thanks, Bestimor, for a fun filled week and for all the tea times.  Love you!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week at Grandma's

Sarah was not able to write a post before she left this week, so she asked me to update you all on the plan for this week.

I am going to be in Charlotte North Carolina for my orientation at Reformed Theological Seminary. I leave early Monday Oct 25th and come back night of Oct 27th. It will be a busy 3 days for me...

But it might be an even busier 3 days for Sarah. I drove Sarah and Caleb 4 hrs to Lake Benton MN today, so that she could visit with her grandma while I am in Charlotte. They plan to take a trip to visit Aunt Norma who lives in South Dakota, and then to spent the rest of the week relaxing. May sound good, but what you dont know is that Caleb has become a full time job, especially getting him to sleep. He is such a good kid, except he hates sleeping. So relaxing is always hard to come by.

Wish us luck and check in later

Sorry...Thats not very calvinistic of me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nothing to do and no where to go!

Today was a wonderful, almost as-perfect-as-they-come day.  Caleb and I got to stay put in one place with nothing (specific) to do and no where we needed to go.  We got to follow his normal routine (including all three walks!), I was able to clean the kitchen and catch up on laundry, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same place and we were able to enjoy one of the last remaining gorgeous days of MN fall weather.  I think mama needed it almost as much as baby did (maybe more).

And what was Steve doing while we enjoyed our day?  He was back at Apt. 105.  Cleaning. 

I feel honored and I feel loved today.  I am undeserving.  I am grateful for Steve's desire to serve and love us in this way, to allow us to lean on him during this transition.  I'm thankful for Steve's servant leadership and the way he calmly, quietly and faithfully leads our little family.  Even more, I am thankful for the Model that Steve looks to and the picture of Christ's love for His Bride (the church) that Steve portrays to me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where are we right now?

We are currently (mostly) moved of our apartment and living in Zimmerman at Steve's parent's house...they are gone on vacation to St. Thomas Islands (jealous!) and we are enjoying house living for the week.  It's great having a grill to grill on, a big kitchen to cook in, and lots of space for Caleb to crawl around.  Next week Steve has his first class in Charlotte and after that we plan to rotate grandparents until deparature date.  Speaking of that, we don't have a date nailed down but are working on finding flights and are targeting mid-November (ish).  We can't believe how many little details there are to take care of, loose ends to tie up and people to see....we've never been busier and are starting to feel Caleb's (and mom's!) stress over our constant whirlwind....trying to brianstorm ways to allow him to stay put more and be able to keep him on more of a routine.  More to come, but that's where we're at for now!

Steve as Daddy

I love Steve's Daddy-heart

'Nuf said!

A few dedication pictures

It meant so much to be surrounded by so many friends and family at Caleb's dedication...Thank you to everyone who was able to make it and for all your love and support in our lives and Caleb's!  Thank you for your prayers and your desire to help us raise Caleb to be a man of God.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Great Article

I had an email from my dad tonight with a link to an article about North Korea that made him think of us...It is titled "Weeping for North Korea" and I am attaching the link below.  I would agree with my dad that it is a very touching article, full of applicable truth.  It helps that the topic is close geographically to where we are about to move but the article's relevance really is not bound by geography or life situation....I'd encourage you to check it out!

I liked it........I hope you do too.
Thanks, Dad!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Baby Dedication weekend

We are dedicating Caleb at church this weekend.  Baby dedication weekend has always been one of my favorite services but this time it has a different feel, we have some skin in the game!  It is taking on a much more solemn tone, in thinking about the covenant we will stand and make before our families, our church, and our God.  These are the promises we will make and hope to keep to the best of our limited human ability, by God’s grace and with God’s help:
Parental Promises at Child Dedication
  1. Do you recognize these children as the gifts of God and give heartfelt thanks for God’s blessing?
  2. Do you now dedicate your children to the Lord who gave them to you, surrendering all worldly claims upon their lives in the hope that they will belong wholly to Jesus Christ?
  3. Do you pledge as parents that, with God’s fatherly help, you will bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, making every reasonable effort, with patience and love, to build the Word of God, the character of Christ and the joy of the Lord into their lives?
  4. Do you promise to provide, through God’s blessing, for the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of your children, looking to your own heavenly Father for the wisdom, love and strength to serve them and not use them?
  5. Do you promise, God helping you, to make it your regular prayer that by God’s grace your children will come to trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for the fulfillment of all his promises to them, even eternal life; and in this faith follow Jesus as Lord and obey his teachings?
Following our promises, these will be the words of dedication prayed over Caleb:
“Caleb, together with your parents who love you dearly, and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God, surrendering together with them all worldly claim upon your life in the hope that you will belong wholly to Jesus Christ,forever.”
I can’t read these words without tearing up.  They are weighty promises and heartfelt prayers.  They are hard to stand by, hard to live by, hard to carry out.  They are impossible to do in our own strength or by sheer determination.  I don’t think I had a clue until about 8 months ago what parenting really means or the weight it fully carries.  I’m not sure you can, until you hold your own in your arms for the first time.  And then it hits you like a ton of bricks—That you have been entrusted with a life, and more than that a soul, and that for the next however many years of life this little one will look to you primarily (and often solely) for leadership, guidance, provision, and teaching about this world around them and the next to come.   This parenting responsibility has already been a continued lesson in grace that I’m sure has only begun…It is with fear and trembling that we look to our own Heavenly Father for the wisdom, strength, help and grace needed to model to Caleb what life is really about and to whom he should ultimately look to and depend on.

These lyrics come to mind as I write, “In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light my strength my song, this Cornerstone, this solid ground, strong through the fiercest drought and storm…No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.  From life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Visas approved

We had a call late last night from Pastor Nelson in South Korea that our Visas were approved.  We can now move forward with shipping our things and working on scheduling flights....soon (Lord willing) we will have an actual departure date.  Pastor Nelson thinks we should aim for around the second or third week of November.  Today we are working on figuring out which Korean embassy to mail our passports to (I am currently on hold with the Korean Embassy in Chicago as I write) in order to get the visa approval attached to our passports.

Later today we will be looking at flights and deciding which airline we want to use....this way we can begin accumulating frequent flier miles.  Any suggestions?  Our choices seem to be United, Delta and Korean Air.  We've heard United has a good frequent flier program...If any of you readers have experience to share, feel free to leave a comment! =)

In addition to this, Steve is starting on his pile of books he needs to have read before class (coming up in 2 short weeks) and is brainstorming his thesis topic (which he also has to choose before class).  It has been fun hearing his thoughts and ideas. 

On the Souh Korean front, it sounds like they have started looking for a home for us (now that our visas are approved) and also for furniture.  Since we are not bringing much with us, they are graciously providing us with most of what we will need.

Everything is suddenly feeling a lot more real.  That is both good and hard.

Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moving Day (Part 1 of many)

Today is the first of many 'moving days' to come.  We are moving out of our little corner in #105 at 1504 St. Clair.  Steve picked up the rental moving van this morning and we are moving all our furniture to various locations, friends and family.  We are moving our many boxes labeled "stay in US" and "ship to Korea" and "Give away" to our parent's until we either ship it or organize it into their garage and possibly a shed we may build in their backyard.  We're thankful to several close friends who have allowed us to borrow some space in their homes and basements to house some of our things and very thankful for our families who have graciously allowed us to inconvenience them with many boxes of things to store while we are gone.  THANK YOU dear friends and family for supporting us in this very practical way.

The plan is to move today and tomorrow then clean over the weekend.  We'll stay at Steve's parent's house this upcoming week while they are on vacation and watch their dog and hang out.  Steve has some homework he needs to work on for his class in Charlotte in 2 weeks and he'll also start workng on some curriculum for the youth group and further praying through and planning his approach to youth ministry.  After that, we'll head to my folks for a week or two and then re-evaluate based on our leave date.  We have a few mini trips we want to fit in as well, visiting my brother and Steve's sister at college, some friends down in Iowa etc.  That's the plan for now....subject to change, always.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures up of our move soon and will continue updating but for now Caleb and I are off to the Zoo with a friend and her (adorable!) 9 month old daughter.  Enjoy your day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

my favorite blog - EVER

It's no secret that I enjoy reading other people's blogs.  I like the sneak peak into other people's lives, thoughts, homes, and souls.  I like hearing things people might never actually say in person.  I like the tips I learn, the life lessons I glean from and the encouragement I find.  And mostly I'm just snoopy (as Steve likes to point out regularly).

This blog is my absolute favorite.  I can't get enough of the truth that pours forth and I love the way Ann writes.  I've never met this lady (and I'm not even sure how I found her blog) but I'm totally encouraged and convicted every time I check in with her.  I hope you check it out and are blessed in the ways I've been blessed.

A quote from a recent blog post on the importance of each day that I'm tossing around my mind and life today: "The ways we live our everydays is the way we live our lives"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In love with my best friend

"Boy I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea"

"I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard"

"I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again"

"Lucky we're in love in every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed"

"Lucky to be coming home someday"
(Song by Jason Mraz "Lucky")

I've heard it said that:
 "Home is any four walls that encompass the one you love"
Steve makes it easier when life gets hard...
He makes it possible to move to the other side of the world and still be 'home'
I am lucky blessed to be in love (and married to) my best friend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Move Update

Since many people seem to be asking and since this is supposed to be a blog about our time in Korea, I thought I’d answer some common questions that I’m asked regularly these days.  But that isn’t to say you should stop asking….I really appreciate the care I feel when asked, so feel free to ask away!

Right now we are still pending our visa approvals.  To live and work in South Korea we need missionary visas and we are waiting for South Korea to approve them.  Once they are approved, we will ship our things and we will follow several weeks after.  We are still working on (slowly) packing up our apartment and deciding what goes, what stays, what to give away and what to sell.  I’m glad for the chance to simplify our lives (a goal of mine for over a year now!) but I’m surprised at how hard it is.  I never thought of myself as clinging closely to my things (they are only THINGS after all) but it is surprising how easily our hearts get attached to our earthly possessions and we don’t even realize it…It is scary really. It gives new perspective on “our hearts are deceptive.”  Ick.  I don’t want to be someone who clings to things that moth and rust will destroy.  I want to be someone who doesn’t live life focused on the possessions I’ve accumulated but someone focused on people and relationships and the God whose image they are made in.  I want the real and lasting things to be the focus of my life, not the passing and fading things.  But all that is harder to do than to write. 
Our apartment looks like piles and piles of stuff and boxes and trunks and bins…Mostly clothes and books.  We own a lot of books (we are realizing) and I guess it makes sense since we both love to read…not a bad thing to collect, I suppose.
Steve was accepted at Reformed Theological Seminary this week!  That is a huge praise and I’m a proud wifey =)  This means he can attend their mandatory in-person training the end of October before we leave.  He will be doing the distance education program they have but they do require you to attend (in person) the orientation session prior to taking classes…Perfect timing, Lord.  Why am I surprised? 
While I’m on that topic, let me just send out a loud praise for all the ways He has perfectly ordained and worked together so many aspects of this move and this change in our lives….There are so many answered prayer requests bound up in this move. So many things I have brought to the Lord for over 2 years and felt like He would never answer…and here they are…all answered. Perfectly.  In ways I couldn’t have dreamed up if I had tried.  A different job for Steve, a ministry outlet, a youth pastor position, the ability to live and work overseas, working with the next generation, seminary, a bigger place to live, traveling, a mentor for Steve to learn from and be challenged by, simplifying our life, shifting our focus, the ability for me to be a stay at home mom, paying off our student loans, being challenged, not wasting our lives, just to name a few (huge) prayer requests.   And my faithless heart is put to shame by our faithful Father (“Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means!” Rom. 3:3)
So while I have both my good days and my hard days, my emotions of excitement and my emotions of sadness in this time of transition, most our days are marked by thanksgiving and thankfulness.  I trust that whatever the next years bring and whatever this move means, the Lord will be faithful.  I trust that we are following His direction and that He is leading. 
That’s our update for now.  Once our visas come, we will ship our things ASAP and then we will follow…We hope for this to be our last week in our apartment and then we hope to live with our parents until we leave.  It will be a sweet time of hanging out with them and of them getting to be with Caleb in these last weeks. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

What do leaves taste like?

Caleb loves going "bye bye" and we have been enjoying about 3 walks a day lately. 
Sometimes we stop and "explore" while we're out.