Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Hardest Peace

You know, sometimes when life is difficult, it seems easier to turn a blind eye. Or to stick one's head in the sand, and pretend the hurt and pain don't exist. Or that they do exist, but they don't affect us as deeply as we allow. Pain and suffering aren't popular topics, but we all know they reveal themselves in everyone's life. But what to DO with the pain and suffering? Can it be defeated? Can it be conquered?

My dear friend Blythe has shared with me the struggles of her dear friend, Kara, in her battle with terminal illness. Kara is a pastor's wife, mother of four, and has been fighting cancer for over a year. Of course we pray and pray for a miracle--for Kara's cancer to disappear and for her to live her life out fully-- but it seems God has other plans.

In the midst of such pain and heartache, Kara has kept a blog and has even written a book. This book, The Hardest Peace, is something I wanted to share with you. It's available starting Oct 1, and I promise if you read it, you'll never be the same! To learn more about Kara and her struggle, check out her blog: http://mundanefaithfulness.com/. And please, pray for Kara and her family as they face each new day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Miranda!

Happy second birthday to our sweetie! It's hard to believe you've been a member of our family for two years already. Little did we know that you'd be born less than 2 hrs from the first contraction, and little did we know that you'd live in two continents (and two different countries) before you turned two. Wow! I know you won't remember these things, but at least you can look back and see some of the places and people we've been in your first two years. You bring so much joy to our lives and to the lives of others that we love celebrating you! We thank God for you each and every day, and I know your sisters do too. :)
Daddy and Miranda just a few hours after birth

Whew--made it!
Your first visitors in the hospital--seeing their baby Baranda

Our wonderful Frau Ruth and Herr Armin, whom we miss!
Our sweet Isabel! See you next year.
Caleb, representing his family, who just adore you

Sisters enjoying our last trip in Austria before moving back stateside

Our wonderful Great Gramie, who was so glad to meet you in June!

Uncle Ev, representing more family: "Ma-come" and "Aun Bef"

You love the "packack" and want to go back in it whenever you see it. :)

Love from Nana and Grandpa (and we love the new bibs!!)

Your bud, helping you "ride 'orse"
So fun to love, especially at the beach, with Gram and Pops!

Miranda, where's your birthday cake? :)

You blew out your own candles...impressive. And loved the Happy Birthday song.


Yay, family came to celebrate with us! Love you, AJ and UA!

Love ya, cuz! "You-ck" and "Jo" Thanks for coming up!

We just love you so much, sweetie pie. What fun it is to celebrate you.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday!!

Happiest of Birthdays to our sweet Kate!! 

And of course, I have to post another 7th birthday for a birthday girl oh-so-long ago. What a great cake, huh? Thanks, Mom!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Movin' in!

I realize it's been a while, but we've been swamped! Unpacking boxes and locating items needed has taken most of our free (and not-free) time these last few weeks. And we're still not totally moved in yet, as we're still waiting on our minivan and non-temp storage (sigh!!) but we'll focus on the good points instead of the frustrating ones! :)

We love our house. It is comfortable and clean, and the neighborhood is awesome. We have several wonderful families who live very close by, and look forward to meeting others when school starts at the end of August. The girls are outside as often as they can, playing with neighbors, riding their scooters. We're all right on top of each other here in our beach city, but it's quiet (at night) and very safe. Also, Albertsons (a grocery store), Taco, Bell, Papa John's (pizza), and a frozen yogurt place (not as good as gelato, but similar) are all within walking distance. Oh, so are the library and post office. Score!! Jon's work is only three miles (5 km) away, and his commute can take him anywhere from 15 to 30 min. We are SOOO thankful we decided to live closer to his work rather than take base housing further south. Every day we are thankful!!

Here are some pictures from before our stuff came. (You really don't want to see all the mess, I know!) Here's the front: lots of lots in our town are two-on-a-lot. One house in front, one house in back. Sometimes they share a wall, sometimes not. We share a garage and patio wall with our neighbors (and landlords) which is no problem. But it takes some getting used to see a car (that's not ours) driving up our driveway.
Here's the foyer, just inside the front door. 1/2 bath on the right, living room on left, and dining room towards the door and on the right. 
Dining room

Living room
 Turn around from the foyer and you're in the:
Family room
Turn around from the picture above and you're in the kitchen eating area. 

More kitchen, taken from the bar

The above picture is more recent, as I realized I didn't have a picture of the main part of the kitchen. Isn't it gorgeous and so big!!?? I love it!! Look at that American-sized fridge!! :)
Now we'll head upstairs to the bedrooms: K and E's room is at the top of the stairs. It's nice and big, and has a huge walk-in closet. They love the window seat.
Here's the guest room, next to the kids' room. Actually, it's between the kids' rooms. Miranda's room (which I now realize I don't have a picture of!) is the same as size as the guest room (below) but has the door and closet on the opposite side of the room below.  All rooms (except the master) have ceiling fans, which are invaluable in the humidity!! (of course, no A/C!)
Guest room. (It has a bed now, and is ready for visitors!! :)

About 1/2 of the master

About the other half--with two side-by-side closets complete with mirrored doors and walk-out patio
Here are some more fun shots of our getting used to life in CA: 
At the beach! (Photo courtesy of Gram!)

All the empty boxes driving me crazy, piled up in our garage. :)

The newest member of our family: a Mazda 3

 And Jon has earned his "furniture assembly" merit badge TIME and TIME again. He's done such a great job researching our needed appliances and organizing the purchase and delivery. Here he's getting a little help from K. Oh, and check out the size of our trash cans-- Hallelujah!!! :)

M with hat

Having fun in the paper of the dining room

Fun neighbors enjoying a rare thunderstorm

The girls in front of their school (starting in August)

Our plumeria tree (It's between our garage and our neighbor's)
And here's one for the record books: our first meal in our new house. It powerfully reminds me of God's faithfulness when I think about the first meal we had in our house in Germany--the day before 22 month-old Ellie was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. The same God who was with us in Germany and saw us through that rough transition is with us now--ready and waiting for us to trust Him. Through good times and bad, we always know He is present and loves us! And as we enter this new phase of life, we are thankful to Him for His many, many blessings. I hope you can see His blessings in your life today as well!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hanging Out

Life in transition here in CA is moving along well! We are so excited to live near some family for the first time in almost 7 years. Here is a picture of the girls with Jon's cousin's sons. (Of course, his cousin is named Jen!) It's great to reconnect with Jen, Gabe, and the boys. Both boys were so sweet with the girls--especially Kate, who kept talking their ears off. :)

We spent one night at Jon's aunt and uncle's hose (Sorry, I didn't get a picture of you guys!! That will have to change!), then we drove down to San Pedro, where the military temp housing is located. What an amazingly beautiful place! It's right on the water, and you can see the piers of the Port of Los Angeles just over the fence. How fun to think that's the exact place our stuff was off-loaded when the container ship arrived! Our temp housing had plenty of room to spread out, but their availability lasted only five nights.  
The port where our stuff came in

Jon and I spent those five days house-hunting like crazy. Thanks a million to JoAnn, who came and spent two days with us while Jon and I scoured the city for places to live. After she went home, we ended up taking the kids with us, which was nice because they could give a little input on what we were seeing. Also, it gave the landlords a chance to meet the whole family, which turned out to be good for us b/c we found a house while the kids were with us. We get to move in next week, and are so excited! The girls will be so close to their school, and Jon will be only 3 miles from work. We're just a few miles to the beach, and we hope to have some great neighbors. Our landlords have two homes on one lot (common for this area of LA) and we have the front home while they live in the back. We hope to have a good relationship with them like we did with our wonderful landlords from Germany (miss you guys!!). We are so grateful that both shipments of our stuff will be delivered on the same day next week, and if we could just get some info on our minivan (still in transit) we'd be all set. But things will come, and are trying to be patient and deal with things as they come.
So now we wait and are living in a hotel that's walking distance from Jon's work. The girls and I are enjoying swimming at the pool each afternoon (their tan lines are already setting in) and we're trying not to go stir crazy sometimes in the mornings. But there are items we need (like a fridge, washer/dryer, beds for the girls, etc) and we're working on getting those items as well. It's slowly coming together and it will be an interesting few days when we're in our house with nothing but what we brought on the plane! But we're borrowing linens and towels and hopefully an air mattress or two, and I'm sure the girls will love "camping" in our house.

The girls, hanging out in the hotel room.

reading with Daddy

LOVING the dresses hand-made by Nana!

 While it's really fun to have a pool here at he hotel, it's also sometimes a logistical nightmare trying to get everyone dressed appropriately, with the correct eyewear, carrying a towel, etc. But we're getting faster at it--practice makes perfect--and I hope to make a similar plan when we start going to the beach. We attempted the beach only one time so far which was a lot of fun, but takes quite a bit of forethought with all three girls, one of whom has no fear of the ocean or understanding of the danger of the water. And if you've ever been to the beach, you know how much stuff you have to cart with you! But still, an adventure we're willing to take on. So plan to come visit us! We'll have plenty of room when we get moved in. Stay tuned!
Ready for the pool