Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our New Home in Germany

God has truly blessed us with our new home in Germany!

















We feel absolutely humbled by God's gracious provisions for our large family. I almost feel like He is giving us enough room to have more kids! We'll see on that one...


We have a master bedroom with an office, living room, kitchen, and bathroom on the first floor. The second floor is 4 kids' bedrooms and a bathroom. The top floor is another small bedroom and a kids's living room/play room. Then the basement has a laundry room, sauna(!), and another shower bathroom that one of the kids uses. In addition, it has a seperate two-bedroom apartment we will eventually rent out. God has richly blessed us! I know I don't deserve it. Each morning I wake up humbled realizing I am living in my dream home abroad.


We are now praying for visitors to come. So feel free to come over and use our house as a resting place in between European travels. "It's free to stay at the Pontiff B&B!"


Here are some more pics of the house. I will include more later once we get curtains and pics up. Thankfully, after 10 days, all the boxes are officially unpacked and put away!!!










Here is a panoramic picture out the back balcony. On the right is a deer farm, too cool!





This is the backyard with a shed/playhouse.












And this blew me away... granite flooring!























This is the kitchen. Enought room for our family of 7 AND guests!
We are so greatful to God for all He has given us. We are anxious and excited to see how He uses this home for His glory!
In Him,
Melissa

Monday, June 29, 2009

Safely in Germany

Whew! What a few past weeks! ALOT has happened in the midst of our move and then having limited internet connection inabled me to update our blog. So here goes the quick synopsis of the last few weeks...

The kids and I said goodbye to Mike on the 9th of June so we could visit family (Dad, Step-mom, and sister's family) in College Station and Houston, TX before flying to Baltimore. We had a great time there and celebrated Dasha's 10th birthday along with one of my nephew's. Right before we headed out to Baltimore, Mike called to say that he was not going to be able to make our flight to Germany with us. The timing of his training in Arkansas would not allow him to make his connecting flight with us. So now, not only were we flying to Baltimore without him, now we were flying to Germany without him too!

My Dad and my sister helped me get to the airport and get to security. What a HUGE help! A funny part was that I was carrying my cat as a carry-on and they had me get her out of the soft kennel I had her in and carry her through the metal detectors. You should have seen the look on her face as she peered at all the people going through security. And then you should have seen me as I was holding her and praying that she would not be scared enough to act like a cat while at the same time corralling my kids through the metal detectors after having stripped them of their shoes and backpacks. Thankfully everyone we encountered had mercy on us!

We made it to Baltimore and spent the weekend with my Mom and Step-dad and his family. It was a nice, relaxing time to catch up with them since I had not seen them in years! We also enjoyed Father's Day with them.

Finally, the big day came to fly to Germany. All those months of hearing, "Mom, are we going to Germany now???" was finally answered with a, "YES! We are!" The kids did fantastic (only a few minor behavioral hiccups) and the military greatly assisted me with the acception of one tiny detail. They told me I could not carry the cat as a carry-on! Even though I flew with her as a carry-on through Continental, they said NO! I was very frustrated, but thankful that God provided a hard kennel through the airport and we were able to check her in as luggage. After that ordeal, I took the kids to dinner in the airport and then got them all Starbucks at 9pm. I needed them to stay awake for our 1215am flight. They loved that they got "coffee". I am already getting them hooked on caffeine! My plan worked well because they all stayed up until just after takeoff and then slept for a good portion of the flight. That really helped us overcome jetlag.

We met our sponsor's wife and a friend at the Ramstein AB airport and quickly settle into our new temporary home. We are still living out of luggage, but know that we are even closer to getting into our own home. Mike joined us the next morning and now the adventures of looking for a home and a car have begun, as well as all the in-processing. I am praying that soon I can write and add pics of our new home. In the meantime, we are greatful that God has brought us this far. We are so blessed to have this opportunity to live in another country.

In the meantime, Auf Wiedersehen!
Melissa

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Movers come...again!

It is two days before our movers come... again and I find myself packing... again. At least this time it in only a modified move since most of our things were moved in November. This time though, I just ache for my own place. And for somewhere where I will not have to move again in a few more months nor live out of a suitcase. All in all, I have been very blessed through these last 6 months. Over and over I was reassured through Mike's training schedule that coming with him was the best thing for our family. Despite the living and car arrangements, we have all been very happy here. Life has been truly simplified.

Monday brings our movers... please pray that we can get everything organized to pack and that they accept the weight allowance we were quoted when we came here. The office that moves people is trying to tell us that we only qualify to move the active duty member's weight allowance even though we were quoted so much per person leaving Del Rio. For a family of seven that difference is HUGE!

Tuesday is when we say goodbye to Mike and drive to College Station. I know this will be a good time to visit with my parents and my twin sister. Please pray for Mike's schedule to accomadate driving us to the rental car place and for me to be able to pack all 6 of our suitcases in the rental van with the cat and the kids. And then of course, for a smooth car ride that will take about 9 hours.

I will update more specifics when we get closer to fly again. But I do have one more prayer request... Mike's training dates. His graduation date is not set in stone. Yet with a large family, we have to plan to get on planes and make reservations than "winging" it. Now Mike's training looks like it has been pushed back a few days and I might be in Baltimore without him until the day before or day of our flight to Germany. I pray that his training gets bumped back up to his original training date for June 18th. God is the Master Planner and I know He will get us through this... together!

Thanks for thinking of us and keeping us in your prayers.

In Him,
Melissa

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Have to Move Out of House!

God has truly provided so much for us during this long transition of moving to Germany while being TDY for 6 months beforehand. We have not seen out stuff since right before Thanksgiving and summer is now quickly approaching. Nothing makes you appreciate your stuff more than being without it. Thankfully, God has taught me this lesson through a long move rather than a fire or other tragic methods. I realize it is ALL His and He is just loaning it to me. And thankfully, He will trust me again in a few short months to have it all back!

So now, let me explain having to move... again! Back in December, when Mike started training here, base housing offered us a fully furnished TLF to accomadate us for his TDY. They didn't realize that in the timeline Mike was scheduled to finish his training on 18 June while the street was supposed to begin renovations. Well, slowly over the course of the last two months we have noticed that with over 40 homes, we are one of three families left on our street. No big deal! The contractors will start after we leave, right? NO! I went to take care of May rent and to discuss out-processing in June and found out that our house needs to be vacated by 9 June. What to do for lodging for 10 days with 5 kids and a cat? My step-mom had been praying that we would take one last visit down to College Station to see them. And she has warned me all her life about the power in her prayers. I was once again shocked and amazed to see how strong her connection to God is because now I was forced to think of what to do for 10 days. The first thought that came to my mind... go home to Mom and Dad's! I reserved a rental car and the kids, the cat, and I will venture down to College Station on the 9th to enjoy time with my family. The catch... I have to fly with the kids and the cat to Baltimore by myself to meet up with Mike there once he is done with training. Please pray for me on June 19th!!!

Once we get to Baltimore, we get to visit with my mom, step-dad and his side of the family for four days before we fly out on the 23rd. This all follows a visit from Mike's parents over the Memorial Day weekend. We are truly blessed to be able to see so many before we head across the pond. I don't know when we will all make it back. Though, we are desperately and eagerly praying for LOTS of visitors to show up on our doorstep once we get settled in. Stop on by! "We'll leave the light on for ya!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Busted Eardrum

Well, I am adjusting to Arkansas by getting their allergies. I thought I caught a cold from my kids, but after two weeks of congestion I woke up early last Thursday morning with a horrible earache. I could not go back to sleep even though it was only 130 in the morning. By the time the base clinic opened, I was begging Mike to call in and get me an appointment. I got to see the doctor shortly after 8 AM. I explained to him that I felt like my eardrum was about to burst. He looked into my ear and said, "Yes, it looks like it's about to!" While talking with him about how my allergies caused congestion and then an earache, I heard popping noises in my ear and then felt what seemed like a small gush of warm water in my ear. I told the doctor that I just felt something. He put me back on the table and looked at my ear again. This time he said, "Yep! It just burst!" He gave me allergy meds, pain meds, and antibiotics. I needed them!

Thankfully, the pain is now gone. However, I can't hear very well from my right ear. It feels like I am listening through cotton or water. And now my left ear is trying to overcompensate to the point that it is overly sensitive to noise now. I can tell my kids now that whining really does hurt my ears. ; ) This was a reminder to me to be thankful for how healthy God has kept me. I can't remember the last time I needed prescribed medicine. So now I humbly ask for prayers for my ear to heal and for my hearing to be completely restored. I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, we are scheduled to fly to Germany on June 23rd. The kids are very excited. They only have a few more weeks of school until summer break. By that point we'll be packing up our house and getting ready to live out of suitcases again. We are already trying to set up temporary lodging over there in addition to discussing the pros and cons of renting versus buying. Please pray for discernment and agreement for Mike and I as we decide where to live for the next few years. We want a home we can LOVE and also use as a ministry while over there.

Thanks for walking with us through this long military journey. We are thanking God for every fun-filled step of the way!

In Him,
Melissa

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stasia decides to get baptised.

video

Stasia decided to get baptised on 19 Apr 09 (this Sunday). So Mike decided to make a video for her. It explains everything. I hope you enjoy. God has truly blessed us with her adoption (and four others). ; ) I pray that this blesses those that watch it too!

Humbled by the blessing He has given me,

Melissa

(The music is Deeply In Love - words are below - and they are powerful!)

Deeply In Love
by Hillsong United

In my life You`ve heard me sayI love You

How do I show You it`s true

hear my heart, it longs for more of You..

I`ve fallen deeply in love with You..

You have stolen my heart

I`m captivated by You

Never will you and I part

I`ve fallen deeply in love with You

You and I, together forever

Nothing can, stand in the way

My love for You, grows strongereach new day.

I`ve fallen deeply in love with You

You have stolen my heart

I`m captivated by You

Never will you and I part

I`ve fallen deeply in love with You

Jesus, you've stolen my heart

I`m captivated by You

Never will you and I part

I`ve fallen deeply in love with You

Monday, April 6, 2009

Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri

Mike planned a weekend trip to Branson, Missouri so we could take the kids to Silver Dollar City. We had a blast. A cool part of it was that they had a military discount - two day adult passes for the price of one and kids FREE!!! We spent less than $100 for all of us to go for two days. What a deal!

Here are some of the pics from the awesome weekend we had.

This is inside a weird mansion where the room is normal but your body equilibrium tells you its slanted, but your eyes can't tell and so your head feels dizzy after a few moments of being in there. We had to work hard to keep from falling over.



Eli and I are pulling ourselves up on this "do it yourself" swing. When you want to come down, you let go. Very kid (and Mama) friendly!


The kids and I got to see a saloon show. It was fun and my girls loved the dresses.


Here is a picture of me and the kids in this giant rocking chair. It fit all six of us! I liked it because it made me feel small. ; )


OK, the next two pics are absolutely hilarious. Mike wanted someone to go with him on a big roller coaster. Dasha insisted that she go with him, though two others wanted to go too. The problem was that once Dasha got strapped in and the ride started, she changed her mind... a little too late. The first one is her looking at the climb the coaster is about to take. The second one is when it shoots out at 60 MPH! Notice both of their faces.


This is the ship ride where the boat goes back and forth like a gigantic swing. The problem here is that the Dasha and Stasia are behind us in the rear of the ship. And Mike needed another adult on the end to sandwhich the three younger ones. I did NOT want to go, but also knew that if I didn't, neither could the younger ones. So begrudgingly, I got in. Maybe thirty seconds into the ride, I grabbed Mike's hand so hard and gripped it with the three kids in between, Bryan started crying, Alaizha started to get sick and whimpered, I started panicking to fight off the jumps I felt in my heart and stomach, and Mike turned around to see Stasia upset too. Eli, Mike, and Dasha were the only ones who could stomach that ride.


Alaizha and I got to ride the Dumbo ride, another kid (and Mama) friendly ride. She controlled the buttom that let us go up or down.


I got to enjoy a baby roller coaster ride with Bryan. He was too cute holding his hands in the air and hoopin' and hollerin'. Dasha and Eli are in the front and Stasia and Alaizha were at the back (they are not in the pic though).


We got into a water gun war. In the second picture you can see who lost and who won! I think Dasha got the most revenge... she was a quick and accurate shooter and quick to run off too.
I hope you enjoyed the pics. If you ever get a chance to go, it is well worth it!
In Him,
Melissa

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marathon - Finished!

Praise the LORD! I finished my second marathon. I completed the race with Tiffany in about 5 hours and 24 minutes. It was TOUGH, but so rewarding to cross the finish line. I have been asked several times now why I ran the marathon. For one, I run for health reasons. My Dad had a five way by-pass a year a half ago. His active lifestyle kept his heart strong and surrounded with good veins that kep the blood pumping past the artery blockages. I know that I may have similar health problems if I fail to take care of myself NOW. I also gain weight easily and know that I need to keep an active lifestyle to keep the pounds off. Secondly, running is a spiritual endeavor for me. My first running partner, Michelle, taught me to use running as a prayer time. What a huge blessing I received from her Godly wisdom. Not only do I feel revived physically, I feel refreshed spiritually when I am done. HE is using me to do things I know I could not, nor would want to, do without HIM.
So thanks to all that prayed for me! I really appreciate you lifting me up.


My other updates for March are that Mike and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary on March 13th. Compliments of a friend of ours, we got a gift certificate to a VERY nice restaurant in downtown Little Rock. I even got beautiful roses and a journey pendant necklace (there are seven stones, one for each of us in the family) with some matching earrings.


The next update for March was that I celebrated my 33rd birthday with my twin sister in College Station. The kids had their Spring Break the week of my birthday, so we drove down to my parent's house and celebrated there. Mike was so sweet to let me go. But when I got home on Friday, I found that he baked me a cake so he could celebrate too - even if it was late. The kids liked that, they got more desert!


Can you tell which one is me? Email me if you can't figure it out and want the answer!

Well, the kids and I are finally back home from Spring Break and ready for April to begin. I will write again soon with those details. ; )

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Little Rock Marathon in three weeks. Here I come!

Ok, it's official. I am signing up for the Little Rock Marathon which will be on March 15th. I waited to say anything because I hadn't truly made up my mind. I was scared... that I would hurt myself, wouldn't make it, etc. But today, God helped me run 20 miles!!! It was awesome because Tiffany, my running partner, and I met up with a marathon training group. There were easily a hundred people who turned out to run 12 in prep for the half or 20 in prep for the whole. The entire route was planned and they even had a few water stations for us just in case we couldn't carry enough water with us. We met at 6AM, yes I said 6AM. Needless to say, I went to bed by nine... before all of my kids. Then I woke up a little after 4AM to get a good Biblestudy in and a cup of coffee through my system. This worked out great because the day turned out very rainy and ended with the runners soaked to the bone. I would have easily talked myself out of running today if I had waited to see the weather forecast. But I was already two hours into the run when the steady rain hit us. Too late to quit by then. It just reminded me of my run with Michelle in Del Rio where we were gutsy enough to run 13 miles in a thunderstorm. It made me smile. ; ) The only difference was the temperature... it was freezing or at least felt like that since it was in the 40's. I opted for some Starbucks on the way home to warm me up. At least that was my excuse!

So please think of me in three weeks. As you go to church on Sunday, pray for mine and Tiffany's physical, emotional, physcological, and spiritual strength to perservere in another run for Christ. I am so thankful for all of you!

Running for His glory,
Melissa

Friday, January 30, 2009

Marathon training?

Well, not much has happened since we got settled into our house at Little Rock AFB. We have gotten some pretty cold weather, compared to Del Rio at least. The kids even got their first ice storm- no school - day on Tuesday even though nothing really happened in our area. It was a nice, unplanned, relaxing family day.

My only big news, for this post, is that I found a new running partner who is planning to run the Little Rock Marathon in March. I told her I wouldn't mind running parts of her long runs with her. I would just bail out when I got tired. Well, last weekend we ran over 13 miles. So now, I am considering running the full marathon again!!! Yikes! I have never considered myself a runner. And when I ran my first marathon in San Antonio in November '07, I said that would be my first last. God tends to throw me for loops every now and then. Including now! I was satisfied to never run over a half-marathon again and even then only do that every once in a while just to keep myself in shape. But now I feel like God is encouraging me to run the marathon again. I can tell because I am excited to get out there and run for Him. And if my focus is off, even short runs are painful. With Him, they are breaths of fresh air, literally! Please pray for this hard decision. I have a few long runs over the next few weekends (16, 18, 14, and 20) and will use this to help me determine if I can do it again, by the grace of GOD! I'll try to keep my post updated. ; )

In His Strength,
Melissa

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

Happy New Year to everyone! I am glad to say that the beginning of this year is alot better than the end of last year. All of the kids are doing much better, only a few occasional coughs now. And we have now moved into our new, temporary, 3-bedroom home as seen below. I even included a picture of our new living room. It is much smaller and sparse than before. Yet, I am thankful for God's provisions. Just to give you an idea how much we fill up our new home, Alaizha has to store her clothes in the hall linen closet. I put her underwear and socks in seperate bags to keep them organized and in one spot on the shelf since we ran out of dresser drawers between the rest of the kids. She is a good sport about it. ; ) I had to buy two plastic shelving units to store games/toys/arts supplies with my office stuff and another in the kitchen to store food (there isn't a pantry). I am learning to be content with little as well as with much! Thanks for all the prayers during our transition. I feel like I am home now because we are all with Mike!