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Cross Training 2016

We left the kids with Hans’ parents for the first weekend in October and headed to Cross Training (IV’s fall conference) for a weekend “getaway.” Really, it meant that we stayed up even later than normal and spent the weekend looking at the Bible with students from four UP schools (LSSU, NMU, MTU, and Gogebic CC).

Going into the weekend, we had four Global InterVarsity students signed up. The day before we left, one of them came down with the flu and decided to stay home (which was a good thing). And after we arrived on Friday we found out two others wouldn’t make it due to unexpected grad school complications. We enjoyed the weekend with the students who were there – but were disappointed that 3/4 of our students weren’t able to make it.

Hans spent the weekend leading four students and one volunteer through the new curriculum we helped design this summer called “Come and See: Meet the International God”. (It was designed specifically for non-Christian international students). Ironically, everyone in his group was American, but it worked better than we had expected for them.

Up front

Up front at Cross Training!

My responsibility for the weekend was new for me – I got to be the emcee for the large group times. When I signed up for the role, I didn’t realize that the emcee was also the organizer for the large group times – and got to be part of a planning committee for our InterVarsity region. Through that planning committee, I also got to co-write three skits that were presented during the large groups.

As emcee, I was the one inviting the group to respond to God on Saturday night – which was intimidating. Having only spoken to a large InterVarsity group on two other occasions, and never having presented the gospel or given an opportunity to respond to it in that setting, I was a little overwhelmed as I prepared. But after spending 1 1/2 weeks preparing during naptimes and after the boys’ bedtime, the weekend arrived.

It was a beautiful weekend, and the extra time I had to prepare while everyone was in their groups was nice. And as the emcee, I had the privilege of hearing students tell me what they were learning from God, and had the chance to see them responding to God – both throughout the weekend, and during the response time I led. 11 students committed to following God in mission, 20 responded with specific things they needed to release (or re-release) to God, and 1 student made a first time decision to follow Jesus! (Actually, I almost moved on before he stood up to say he wanted to follow Jesus. Whoops! Next time I’ll make sure to pause longer.)

The student who made the first time decision to follow Jesus was part of Hans’ group for the weekend. It was amazing to be a part of it.

It was a long, full weekend. But it was a good one – and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to emcee again in the future.

The Rollercoaster of Planting

I’ve always liked rollercoasters – it’s something about the anticipation of thrill and the twists and turns. Maybe it’s because I am a wanna-be thrill seeker, loving the idea of living daringly and adventurously, but rather afraid to actually be a thrill seeker. Rollercoasters are a safe way to be adventurous.

Life often feels like a rollercoaster, too, but for some reason as a teenager I thought it would cease to feel that way when I grew up. While thinking about this today, I realized that life will probably always feel like a rollercoaster, with the drops giving contrast to the high climbs and the twists and turns providing excitement.

All of that sounds very poetic, but lately I’ve been unhappy with the rollercoaster. We’re not in deep drops or scary climbs… just bouncing around on the bumps, I guess. Last week I complained to Hans that I don’t like planting a chapter anymore and I want to quit. It’s too stressful. Too hard. We aren’t good at it.

He countered with a (true) statement about how we know this is where God has us for now and he (Hans) wants to see what God will do with it. I wanted to throw a pillow at him.

But a few days later, we sat in a student-run Bible study and read the parable of the four soils. While students asked questions and tried to understand the passage, I sat re-reading the text.

Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!”-Luke 8:8a

And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. – Luke 8:15

These verses grabbed me, and seemed like a direct response to the feelings I had shared with Hans a few days previous. A huge crop was produced… by clinging to God’s word and patiently producing the harvest that God was planting.

And the next day a student texted Hans to organize a surprise birthday party for another Global InterVarsity student. And two days after that I sat in my living room with five other international ladies, singing “Jesus Loves Me” in Chinese and studying the Bible together.

The rollercoaster is feeling a little less horrible today, and God’s faithfulness is a lot more obvious. I still don’t particularly like planting a chapter, but it doesn’t seem so hard. I’m sure the bumps and twists will bother me again sometime in the next few months. But maybe I’ll be able to keep my eyes more open this time, to see the adventure and excitement of what God is doing here at Michigan Tech.

Who knows… maybe I’ll become a thrill-seeker yet!

Family Vacation 2016

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Our big vacation as a family this summer was a trip to Minnesota, prompted by my cousin’s wedding. We headed to Duluth for the wedding and used the opportunity to stay with Hans’ cousin and family. They have four boys and our boys had a blast playing with their second cousins, which was wonderful since they stayed behind while we went to the wedding! The wedding was nice, other than the thunderstorm that cut power to the area for three hours during the reception… but the party continued and it was a nice wedding. Hans, my brother, and I even played a game by the light of the centerpiece during the reception, which was laughed at by my cousin and her new husband, who are big gamers.

Rocks in the lake

Lake Superior with our boys means we spend lots of time throwing rocks into the lake. It was fantastic.

After the wedding festivities were over, we took a few days to stay with our friends in Grand Marais, MN. We had a great time catching up with them and exploring the town. Then we made the two hour trip to Aurora and spent the rest of our trip at my parents’ house. My high school was having an all-class reunion, and we took advantage of the extra family-friendly events in town. Unfortunately the reunion part was disappointing, with really low attendance for the younger classes (I saw two others from my class of 68). But it was great being with family and playing lots and lots of board games.

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Yes, Elliot is riding a moose.

UntitledOne thing that is hard for me about living away from the hub of my extended family is being absent for big family get-togethers, so being able to be there for this one was refreshing. It was a little crazy with 10+ people in my parents’ house, but that made it fun, too.

Lion Caleb

Caleb showing off his lion face, from the family time in the park for the all class reunion. He was pretty excited about becoming a lion!

One year as a family of four

Last month, our little guy turned one. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but when I think back on the past year it’s easy to see that a lot happened.

Birthday pancakes!

One of my favorite parts about becoming a family of four is watching the bond develop between Caleb and Elliot. They laugh together (and at each other) a lot. Elliot smiles biggest and squeals loudest for Caleb – we don’t get such high approval ratings from him. And Caleb takes care of Elliot and watches out for him. It makes me happy to see how they interact, and to envision what their friendship will be like in 10, 20, 30 years.

I saw a glimpse of their bond this afternoon when we were out shopping. We’d spent the morning at the Treehouse (an indoor playground) and Elliot fell asleep in the minute it took to drive to the store. He stayed asleep as we walked inside, and Caleb requested to sit in one of the side-by-side child seat carts. Elliot stayed asleep the whole time we were in the store, and for half of it Caleb had his arm wrapped around Elliot’s shoulders. Before Elliot joined our family I had no idea how brotherly love would melt my heart.

It’s not likely we’ll stay a family of four for very much longer. Last week we submitted our application for foster care – starting the process to get a foster care license. We’ve been thinking about adopting for years, and until recently had planned to start seriously thinking about it in a few more years, when our boys were bigger. But when Hans was at Urbana last December (and I watched some of the conference online), God used Michelle Higgins’ talk to prod us to action. Her statement that there are 100,000 children in foster care available for adoption, and 300,000 (protestant) churches really hit home.

Although we do hope to adopt someday, our plan has now shifted from adoption to foster care, and the extra uncertainty that it brings is looming ahead. But I am excited to get started, and look forward to having more kids join our home. I hope and pray that we can form strong attachments with the kids that come to us, and with their parents. And even though it will be hard, I trust that God will work.