Monday, January 31, 2011

Upcoming Travels

One of the things that I love so much about living here in Germany is all the traveling we can do. We have been able to take some amazing trips so far - France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, and lots of weekend trips to other places in Germany. You could add even more if you counted Mike's TDYs. Since we are unsure what this summer holds for us - whether we will move back if Mike gets accepted to school or stay here another year - we are planning as much as we can.

That being said, here are some of our plans:

A spring break trip to the Canary Islands via a nine day cruise leaving from Barcelona. We have never been on a cruise before and are so excited to try this type of travel.

Another trip to Italy this summer, though this time to Rome, Naples, Pompeii and other parts that we didn't visit last time.

A weekend trip to Berlin. I have wanted to see The Wall. My family was stationed here in Germany when I was 12 and my parents got to see Berlin before the wall fell down.

Another weekend trip to the Black Forest.

Instead of buying nice cars or having designer things, we are investing in memories with our kids. Both Mike and I love the memories we have of traveling with our own families when we were young. Plus, I love seeing the uniqueness that God has given each area. He is so creative!

I'll say it again too, "If anyone wants to visit us while we are here, our home is open!" Come enjoy Europe while you have a free place to stay.

In Him,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Year... A Fresh Start

January brings all the promises of a new start, a change, something different than before. Usually they come in the form of resolutions or goals. It's already the middle of January and I am still struggling what to make for my resolutions. I have already been praying that God would continue to help me with staying physically healthy. But that's not a new thing. I have already been praying that God would help me raise our five beautiful children in a way that would bring Him glory. But again, that's not a new thing. I've been praying that God would continue to strengthen our marriage, which He does everyday. But that's not a new thing.

So I ask myself, what then can I make a resolution about? I think it is to see each day as a gift from God. Each day is a fresh start, not just the beginning of the year. We have had a couple of friends die this year. Their death has helped me refocus on the fact that God can call us home at anytime. Am I ready for that? Each day I want to live a life with no regrets. To love my husband with no regrets. To love my children and family with no regrets. I am sure that each friend that died this year would have had a different perspective on life if they had known what the future held for them. I challenge you to do the same... live each day as a gift from God. Don't take a single one for granted. Despite the trials we may face, walking with Him daily brings indescribable peace and joy in all circumstances. Enjoy your fresh start... today.

In Him,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Officially Parents of a Teenager

The holidays come and go so quickly with three birthdays to celebrate in the mix. Then the holidays close out with a fourth birthday, on January 8th, bringing the end of all the present giving and cakes/desserts that one could possibly eat in six weeks.

This last birthday marked a special day for Mike and I as parents. We are now officially parents of a teenager! I know that this may not seem like a big deal to most parents. Each child will eventually hit this milestone. However, Mike and I got here seven years too early. Our daughter is growing up so fast. And yet, we've only had her for six years. When we adopted her from Ukraine back in 2005 as a seven year old, I could have never imagined all that God would have in store for us as her parents. We have been so blessed by having the privilege to be her mom and dad. She has grown up to be a beautiful child, I mean teenager, of God both inside and out. I pray that God will continue to keep her under His protection as He uses her for His glory as she shares her testimony. I am so proud to be her mom! Happy Birthday Stasia!

In Him,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Year End In Review (part 2)

As with the first part, I think the best way to share what we've done this year is through pictures. They say so much more than I ever could with words. Overall, you can see that we are definately enjoying our tour over here in Germany, we are loving life, the kids are growing up so fast, and Mike and I are still enamored by each other. : ) God is so good!

I'll start with some of my favorite family pictures that we had taken this summer at a nearby castle. We decided to do this rather than purchase school photos. At least I know that their hair looks good, their clothes look nice, we can take as many shots as we want, and we even get family shots as well as funny ones. It's a much better package deal to have professional family photos, especially when done by a talented friend.

August was filled with a personal day trip for me to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp. I was glad I finally got to go, yet I just felt this weight of oppression as I walked through the gates. It was overwhelming to think of what went on just inside the perimeter not so long ago.

We also got a surprise visit from Mike's brother, Sarge. He was passing through Ramstein at the end of a deployment when his flight was delayed for two days. Mike was able to talk to Sarge's leaders to let him come home with us rather than stay at a hotel. The kids loved spending time with "Uncle Sos!"

In late August, our tenant downstairs informed us that there were water spots on her living room wall. Unbeknownst to us, there was a leak under our shower . After ripping up our shower, the plumbers were able to fix the problem. However, we had to deal with rationed hot water hours until they could isolate the problem area and fix it. And in the meantime, we had exposed cinder blocks and piping in the bathroom where our shower was supposed to be. Once the dehumidifiers sucked up all the moisture in the walls, we were able to reinstall the shower and get our bathroom back to normal. I was reminded how blessed we are to have a home with several bathrooms, to have constant hot water, to have a home that can be fixed, and to have insurance and finances to cover the repairs.

At the end of August, all five kids started public school. Stasia finished her homeschooling curriculum as started 7th grade at the middle school. Dasha joined her at the middle school for 6th grade. Alaizha began 2nd grade at the elementary school. Eli started his second year of German immersion in 1st grade. And Bryan finally started kindergarten. It has been an adjustment to have an empty house during the day.

Mike's Mom, Mary, joined us for 6 weeks in September and October. It was such a blessing to have her around. She stayed busy with a few weekend trips by herself and a few weekend and day trips with us.

Mary also blessed Mike and I by watching the kids for four days so we could visit Athens, a long time dream destination of mine. We loved having our little getaway in such a historic city. The sites were amazing. It was neat to walk where some of the apostles walked in the book of Acts, to see where they were probably preaching and teaching. It was a beautiful city!

The day after we got back from Athens, Mike and I attended the Annual Air Force Ball with some friends of ours. Carla and Pam are in a Biblestudy with me and my Mike works with Elisha's Mike at the base. Also note my Mike's shirt. He's on fire! He got it custom made while he was in Turkey.

November began with me being able to go to a women's conference to see a longtime mentor and friend, Bea, who was one of the guest speakers. My friend from our Lifegroup, Misty, was my roommate for the conference and drove with me. It was a great weekend to see God grow both of us.

Mike finally finished his job with the Wing by helping them get an "Excellent" on their inspection that takes place every five years. He went back to the squadron to become one of the ADOs. He loves it because he gets to fly a lot more and go on lots of small TDYs. I really appreciated these small trips because Mike was able to get lots of unique Christmas presents for the kids while getting back his passion for work. Not that he didn't love his work before! He is just thankful to be back to flying on a more regular basis.

November ended with two birthdays and Thanksgiving at our house. Some friends from church came over to celebrate with us. Thanksgiving also brought us our first snowfall. It was beautiful to see a white blanket covering everything.

Knowing we had a third birthday just around the corner, we decided to celebrate all three younger kids' birthdays with one big party at a big kids' play place. They had so much fun playing with their friends.

Mike was on the ball this year with our Christmas to do list. We got the tree up early. He started buying presents that needed to be shipped in November. He had me organize the gifts to ensure equality. We even wrapped them a few weeks in advance. Since we were so on the ball with getting and wrapping gifts this year, we didn't want the kids to compare gifts and boast over who had the most or biggest. So we coded them! The morning after we first placed gifts under the tree, you could hear their confusion and excitement all at the same time. Then they decided to do the same thing with the gifts they were giving away. Too precious!

Christmas Day was a fun celebration as we remembered Christ's birth and gave each other gifts. We invited several families over and a couple of friends who are deployed here to eat lunch/dinner with us. It was a full house filled with the sounds of talking, laughter, and the occasional kids' wail from a fight or a fall. We fell into bed that night realizing how much God has blessed us through the gift of His Son - our salvation, our hope, our faith, our family, our church, our friends, our home, everything!

May 2011 be even more filled with God's glory in our family!

In Him,