. . . and then some more . . . More life. More Jesus.

Monthly Archives: January 2013

You are browsing the site archives by month.

The Parenting Post I Never Thought I’d Write

I knew I would learn a lot living in Germany for a year. I had no doubt my kids would, too. I did not, however, realize I would learn so much about my kids. Nor did I think I would grow so much as a parent.

So imagine my surprise when my turn came up to write a devotion for the Everyday With God blog about discipline and children and wisdom and such. Proverbs 29 is the chapter today. Here’s a bit of what I wrote . . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In June of last year, my husband’s employer offered him a chance to move across the world for a year. So we picked up our two kids and re-located to a small city in Bavaria, Germany. We saw it as an opportunity to teach our kids, and us, more about life than we could have if we didn’t go.

We knew it would be hard on them. Sending our kids to a German-speaking school, making them live like foreigners for a year. Yes, we had no doubt it would be difficult in many ways for our two kids.

When we first arrived, I had a bit of trouble remembering it was good. So I sort of spoiled them and tried to make up for what my kids were missing at home. You know, the comfortable and easy that they would be enjoying had we not come.

Then school started for them, and I couldn’t spoil them out of what we all knew they had to conquer — five hours of German school, everyday, five days a week.

Click here to read the rest. (I think you’ll like how it ends.)

Five Minutes: Again

It’s Friday. And I have 5 minutes. So I’m playing with Lisa-Jo and company today and joining the awesome group that makes up the 5-Minute-Friday community.

Here’s the gig, straight from Lisa Jo’s blog:

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

 

And so, without further ado, I give you my five minutes on the word

Again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Amazing the people whose faces I get to know after living here only 7 months. Like the bus driver lady who drives 307. The Unkrainian couple from my German class. I see them walk down the street several times a week. Today I saw them. Again. We recognize each other and smile and nod. And, every time, my heart jumps a bit because, well, the fact is I live in a foreign country and I know people who live here.

We’ve become familiar faces on routine routes. The butcher lady who probably cringes inside when she watches me enter that always-open glass door of hers. I wonder if she dreads my pointing and grunting and asking for things I really dont want. Again.

And the lady at the bakery. She’s always on alert, I think, when my face enters the picture. Here’s the hard-to-understand-lady with the nervous laugh and the always smile. Again. Then I order my croissant and my cappuccino, and she’s always so nice.

I like that I’m living here long enough to have agains. It makes me feel like I really live here. Helps me soak up the whole of the adventure I’m living. So when I get home, I will always have these memories.

And 5 minutes is up. But I want to end how I started.

Again.

When Germany Teaches Your Kid How to Make Babies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Notes home cause a ruccus when you live in a foreign country. Because they take time to translate, and you still don’t really understand exactly what you’re signing up for.

So when my 5th-grader handed me a note last week that said something about man-to-man and woman-to-woman and important for your child’s development, I knew I was in for all kinds of unexpected. Google translate didn’t really help.

So I signed the bottom of the note and tore off the part that said I would come to a meeting on Tuesday evening at 7pm. Then I handed it to my daughter and started praying for the gift of the German tongue. Or at least the gift of understanding the German tongue.

Tuesday night arrived, and I went to the meeting. My Mann and I decided I would go alone, so the kids could stay home. I chose my seat carefully, front row, close to the door, and next to a lady I sort of know.

I sat down, notebook and pen poised for action. You know, because I would definitely encounter words I would need to translate later.

I could see the screen well, for it was a power-point presentation, so I started writing down words I didn’t recognize from the introductory slide. Words like Werteorientiertes, begleitet Madchen, sexual padagogisches.

I was the only one taking notes.

Awkward.

I gave up the writing once the woman started speaking. For one, she spoke way too quickly. And secondly, well, I got the idea of what this whole thing was about.

I sat in that chair, heart racing at times, intrigued and amused that, of all the years we had to live in Germany, it had to be 5th grade for my oldest. I mean, truly, who would have thought that my oldest daughter’s first sex-education class would be in a country where sex can be found on billboards and late-night commercials?

My tension eased, however, as the presentation went on. For reasons I can only call God at work, I had peace. And here’s why:

  1. She’s heard it before. Thankfully, we had “the talk” a while ago, and, while it completely grossed her out, my daughter is well aware of what it takes to make a baby.
  2. She only understands most of what is said on any given day in class. In this case, I must say, I’m kind of glad she might not understand every word of every question that any girl may or may not ask.
  3. I get to take my girl out for coffee or cocoa or coke when it’s over. Because, really, we must debrief. I will ask her what she understood. If she has any questions. But mostly I will instill in her the truth that the gift of her sexuality is one of the most precious gifts of all. We will talk about purity and grace and the value God gave her when He threaded together who she is. And, well, quite frankly, I’m kind of excited to start this open conversation with her.
  4. I was no longer taking notes. And, well, that’s a good thing considering I was in a completely German-speaking meeting, full of completely German-speaking people. It’s also good because I think people were starting to wonder how I had children if I needed to take notes on how to make a baby. 🙂

How To Find The Gift of Right Now

We entered 2012 with hopes of high adventure in a land of what was yet unknown to us.

It took longer than we’d expected to actually arrive and begin our year in Deutschland. So we had lots of time to feed our romantic notions with expectations of what life would entail. Apartment-living, walking to the market every day for groceries, riding our bikes all over town rather than driving a car, learning German and becoming part of the life for a whole entire year. These were the things we dreamed of. The stuff we looked forward to.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then we arrived, and it was harder than we thought. Because walking with groceries is sometimes hard. And the apartment’s really small. And riding our bikes in the cold makes it even colder. Not to mention the German language is just plain hard.

I was thinking about that the other day. About how this is what we wanted, with all the realness of life in a foreign land. I thought about how it’s exactly what we expected in many regards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only it’s life.

So it’s not quite as dreamy as we’d imagined or hoped.

And then I realized life is full of that kind of truth.

We once dreamed of having children. Kids running around all crazy and happy and throwing Cheerios under the table and chasing the dog and making him growl.

Then it happened.

And suddenly the mystique flew out the window with the black Lego spaceship and the laundry from all those crazy kids spilled over into our romantic-no-more bedroom and the dog peed under the table and the baby ate the Cheerios anyway.

Remember dreaming of home-ownership? Painting walls whatever color we wanted. Mowing lawns and planting gardens. Then we had to clean the paint brushes and, well, mow the lawn, and the garden grew weeds that have yet to be pulled. And it’s January.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yeah, life has a way of filling up with reality.

So here’s the thing: we have a choice. We can find the reality behind the high hopes and let it crush the dream. Or we can realize we’re living right where we wanted and find the gift inside.

I’m choosing the latter.

Because, after all, this is exactly what I wanted. Only I didn’t picture it this real.

Is there some reality you’re dealing with right now that turned out different than you expected? Why not share it in the comments?

What I Learned on Christmas Vacation

We’d planned out each of the 14 days. Almost to the hour. Having waited four months in Germany for a trip home to the States, we thought it would be wise to account for every moment on paper before we actually arrived. We’d even accounted for sleepy jet-lag time.

What we had not accounted for, however, was our youngest daughter’s illness which landed her two days in the hospital. Or my husband’s eight-day bout with influenza two days after we arrived.

Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say (v 33, MSG).

As much as I wish I could say we found all kinds of great gifts inside that 14-day Christmas vacation, I have to admit, I’m still not crazy about the outcome of our time Stateside.

But one thing is sure: God’s plans trumped ours. And, for reasons we may never know, this time His hand guided our family through a few weeks of difficult and straight into the truth of His I-am-in-control-sovereignty.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am in no way suggesting that God desires illness or heartache for His children. I don’t think Solomon would say that, either. What I do know, however, is that His way, not ours, prevailed. Just as it should. And, somehow, even through the sickness and the hospitals, God established our steps as we walked through the toughest Christmas vacation we’ve known to date.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps (v 9, NIV).

I used to think verse 3 of this particular chapter in Proverbs was a sort of formula to get what I wanted.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

But when I study that word commit more in-depth, I find something altogether different. The original Hebrew word is galal. It means to roll away.

The verse I always thought was my ticket to whatever I wanted is actually an invitation to trust God with everything I do so that He can firm it up.

It takes the kind of humility that’s willing to hand over the reigns. Surrender every last bit of control. Sure, we can make plans and schedule our days, but the wise and humble will hold them loosely before Almighty God. We can make the agenda and then roll it on over to Him, with the humble knowing that He gets the final say.

Is there something right now that you need to roll away and trust God with?

 

**I wrote this post for the devotional blog I help write. This month, we’re studying the book of Proverbs. You can check it out here.

2 Tips For Your Next German Bus Ride

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I sat toward the back of the bus, next to the window. It wasn’t crowded when I got on, so I took the liberty of placing my bag on the empty seat next to mine. I’d done it dozens of times, the bus-riding thing. The interacting with people in this foreign land I call home for right now. But somehow I forgot the unspoken rule.

So when the bus grew more crowded and I moved my bag so the elderly lady could have a seat, I greeted her with a smile as she sat down.

I thought nothing of it for the brief moment after my happy “Hallo!” Then I saw her utterly confused, decidedly befuddled reaction.

Oops! I thought, I just broke the cardinal rule of German culture. I spoke happily to someone I do not know!

I’ve done it before during my seven-months here, but never so blatantly, I suppose. I’ve smiled at strangers, spoken to old ladies. But never have I engaged someone I do not know in such a personal way. At least, I don’t think I have. Well, maybe I have, but I’ve never had such a hilariously daunting reaction to my American stupidity.

I laughed as I turned to face the window. Laughed at my forgetting. Laughed at her shock. Laughed at the craziness of an American living in Germany, breaking unspoken rules of culture and speaking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then I resolved to tell you, my friends here, about it. Because I want you to know two things about bus rides in Germany.

  1. If you are ever in Germany, I want you to know what is expected. And I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made. Whatever you do, do NOT greet a stranger on a bus.
  2. Be ready to laugh at yourself. Always. If you cannot laugh at yourself, you  will have a very difficult time enjoying not just your bus ride, but nearly everything about it here.

Remember those two things, and you’ll at least know how to conduct yourself should an elderly lady sit next to you on a bus. The rest, well, I’ll leave that to your own experience. After all, experience is the best teacher.

 

If It’s Good Enough For the Birds . . .

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds (v26, The Message).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been thinking a lot about birds this past week. Because of the whole I-want-to-live-out-Matthew-6-this-year thing. Trying to notice the way they survive. How they fly and land and just be.

Careless in the care of God.

I wanted to consider birds like robins or cardinals or woodpeckers or goldfinches. You know, the pretty kinds that don’t really annoy people. But, I live in the middle of a European city, and it’s the middle of winter where the only birds I can find to observe are pigeons.

So Saturday when I saw a bunch of them lining the rooftop of the Altes Schloss in the middle of town as I walked home from my photography class, I had to take their picture.

Just perched up there waiting for whatever it is birds wait for. Some of them would fly down to the ground  in search of crumbs or trash. But mostly they just sat there looking over the city.

Nowhere to go, I imagine. Nowhere except anywhere. And that is what I find so amazing about pigeons.

They’ll go where the food is, without worrying about where they might find the next crumb. They have this innate calm that just knows their Maker’s gonna’ provide enough. A trust that enables them to gather on a rooftop on a sunny Saturday afternoon and hang out with a bunch of other birds.

I consider this about pigeons, and I think I’d like to try it. To just know that my Maker cares enough about me to provide for every next moment. To be where I am, not worrying about where I need to go next. Or about where I will find my next piece of sustenance to get me through whatever awaits me around the bend.

To hang out on rooftops all bold and waiting for whatever food He shows me. And then to fly down and grab it just as soon as I see it. Not a moment too soon. Not an instant too late.

So, I guess Matthew 6 living means thinking like a bird? Does that mean I’m gonna’ have bird brains by 2014?

Seven Reasons I Love RightNow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was an impulse purchase at the Metzgerei. I was actually buying meat for the meatloaf I’d planned, but I saw what looked like homemade Schnitzel, so I went out on a limb. The sign said Rinderbraten, but it looked like Schnitzel to me. So I pointed right at it and asked for the Rinderbraten. The lady behind the counter smiled nicely and confirmed my suspicions, so I nodded and happily said Yes, please.

Clueless American gets brave and orders more than the pre-planned meat at the local butcher. You know, the order she practiced in her head the whole way there. Turns out, the unafraid life leads to happy things in the RightNow.

Julie Andrews sang in my head all the way home. “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens . . . doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles . . . ” I joined her with my own voice as I worked my magic in the kitchen tonight. Even danced a bit.

So in honor of Julie Andrew’s Maria VonTrapp’s favorite things, I thought I’d share a few of my own today. You know, some of my favorite things about RightNow, in completely random order.

  1. German food is amazing. From the pumpkin seed bread, to the apple strudel to the plain croissants, and, yes, straight to the Schnitzel with the noodles. Amazing. And don’t forget the beer, the brats, and the rolls.
  2. I got to ride my bike to the grocery store today. I love this because of the cute little basket on it’s handlebars. And because, at home in Ohio, I have to drive my bike places if I want to ride it. (Too many hills, in my opinion.)
  3. Have I told you about the bathtubs here? Deep enough I can fill them up to almost overflowing. And they don’t drain the water unless I open the drain. Love. This. Especially with lots of bubbles. So this morning, I took one.
  4. Sometimes when I walk through the city, I see someone I know. It always amazes me that I know people in a foreign city.
  5. Yesterday when I got on the bus, I’m pretty sure the bus driver recognized me. And he smiled nicely when I said Hallo! I am choosing to ignore the reasons as to exactly why he may have recognized me and simply deciding to believe he’d missed seeing me because my smile is recognizable, not my broken, clueless German.
  6. Every morning, first thing, the girls and I read the Bible together. We have never done this together before — especially not in the morning. And, I must say, it is truly one of my favorite things about life right here, rightnow. We’re reading through the kid’s version of the devotional book Jesus Calling. We take turns being amazed at how relevant a particular day is to our specific goings-on right then. Amazed.
  7. We just planned out the trips we will take for the remainder of our year here in Germany. Let me tell you, Lord willing, it’s gonna’ be a fun spring! Berlin, more Vienna, a beach near Venice, and the Sleeping Beauty Castle called Neuschwanstein in the Alps. The anticipation is well, one of my favorite things at this very moment. Can’t wait.

So there you have it. Seven things I love about life RightNow. How about you? What are some of your favorite things about RightNow?

Three Truths That Help Me Live Inside the RightNow

The start to the year has been slow and not very steady here at my house. I’ve somehow managed to meet a deadline for the devotional blog I get to be part of, despite my struggle to move fingers over computer keys and produce legible things.

I’ve been thinking a lot about taking the RightNow for all that it is. Enjoying the every moment and finding content right inside. Because it’s my word for the year, and well, it’s the beginning of the year.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like the way I got to hang with my kids yesterday when they weren’t feeling well. And the wide-open windows that I’ve been letting air out our home after two weeks of closed-up tight.

Then there’s the whole I live in Germany thing.

RightNow there is hard stuff about it. Stuff that mostly has to do with the fact that my youngest despises that she has to go to German school and fights it every morning. It also includes things like figuring out how to carry 20 pounds of groceries four blocks home in my big old blue striped grocery-getting bag.

But this is the RightNow I am living.

And I am learning to be glad for it because of what I know.

Because I know that she is learning things no school book ever could. And I realize I’m gaining muscles and walking off pounds I never would.

Mostly, though, I am starting to realize how very awesome it is to get to live this adventure. RightNow.

The Year of RightNow

Today starts a new writing year for me. Forging ahead with new goals and aspirations, a new focus finds itself in the forefront of my mind. A new word for 2013.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

RightNow.

As in:

I will not worry about what might happen, or what will happen, or even what I cannot control. Because God has given me all I need for RightNow.

I don’t know what’s coming, but He does. In fact, because He is the eternal Alpha and Omega God, He’s somehow already there. So when not yet turns into RightNow, God will be there waiting for me with everything I need. And I know I will have what it takes to deal with every single RightNow no matter what.

Yes, 2013 is the year of RightNow

It’s the year of resisting the temptation to glide through one RightNow so I can get to the next one. The year of trusting Almighty God for every RightNow by giving up my propensity to worry. It’s the year of being present inside of each moment rather than biding my time until the next.

This is the year of Matthew 6 living.

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes (vv33-34).

No worry. First things first. RightNow. 2013, here I come. . .

Do you have a word for the new year? A flavor you hope 2013 takes on?