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.
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.
One 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.
Lately, it seems like there’s always a trip or two in the works, and another that I’ve just finished up. I recently counted up my travel with InterVarsity over the past year, and this is what I’ve come up with:
- July 1-14 – Chapter Planting Cohort training in Madison, followed up with visits to ministry partners and family in Iowa and Ohio.
- October 2-4 – Fall Conference #1 – Big Bay, MI
- October 19-20 – UP Team Spiritual Retreat – Little Lake, MI
- October 30-November 1 – Fall Conference #2 – Wisconsin Dells, WI
- December 7-10 – Regional Staff Conference – Green Lake, WI
- December 26-January 1 – Urbana – St. Louis, MO
- March 15-17 – Bible Speaker Training – Grand Rapids, MI
- March 20-22 – Campus Visits to LSSU and NMU – Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, MI
- April 14-22 – Visiting ministry partners in the Twin Cities and the Chapter Planters Retreat – San Diego, CA
- April 30-May 13 – Chapter Focus Week – Cedarville, MI
- June 5-9 – Regional Staff Conference – River Falls, WI
Adding in a couple of trips visiting family, I’ve spent over two months away from home this year. Yikes! Read More…
Two weeks ago we left for a two-week “vacation”. Most of the two weeks weren’t really vacation (although not having to cook for two weeks made it feel that way) since we spent one week in Madison, WI, for training with InterVarsity and half of the next week visiting supporters (which also felt like vacation… we love getting to spend time with people!). The last part of our trip was spent in northern Ohio, visiting part of Hans’ extended family and attending his cousin’s wedding.
The training we attended was for planting an international InterVarsity chapter* at Michigan Tech. We’ve been trying to get something going for the past few years, and the training we received is going to help make that happen. We were matched with a coach (another InterVarsity staff who has experience planting a chapter) and were brought through several cycles of activities to help us really see how we can grow a student group that multiplies itself.
Our biggest takeaway from the week in Madison?
Students are seeds to be scattered, not sheep to be gathered.
May was not the month I was expecting. We entered the month with crazy end of the semester life while Hans, Caleb, and I experienced bouts of the flu. Then it got a little crazier…
Hans left for his first week of Chapter Focus Week on May 2, the same morning the boys and I left for Minnesota to spend most of the week with my parents. While we were there my grandpa went to the hospital when his defibrillator zapped him 30 times or so in a few hours. He was life-flighted to Duluth (at 10pm) and I woke up the next morning to find out that my parents were both in Duluth (and had been all night). Two days later my grandpa went home from the hospital, to die.
It was a good week, but a hard week. The boys and I extended our stay and spent the next days with the whole family crammed into the two small rooms in my grandparents’ assisted living apartment. I left Minnesota to come home on Monday, May 11th, knowing I would never see my grandpa alive on earth again, and the next morning he passed away.
I am so thankful that we were there before my grandpa went to the hospital. We had two wonderful visits with my grandparents before Grandpa got sick, and lots of good time with the whole family after that.
We travelled back to Minnesota the following week for the funeral, and I gave the eulogy. I thought I would post it here, in memory of my grandpa.
Looking around, I know that many of you knew Gene as a friend. A few called him Dad… and some of us knew him as Grandpa. I want to share with you what Grandpa meant to us – sharing some of my memories of him and some memories that I have received from my cousins. Read More…