One of my goals for 2018 was to update this family website regularly, but when I went on in January the website was not working.  After a lot of back and forth, my amazing nephew, Joe, got it working again! But, I haven’t taken the time to do an update.

In February, we had a whirlwind trip to Frankfurt to renew passports for Kassandra and Erik.  Because they were under 16 the last time they applied for a passport, they had to appear in person (after this, passports can be renewed through the mail).  But, there are no longer appointments available anywhere in northern Germany, we could not get an appointment in Berlin, so we had to go to Frankfurt.  We ended up leaving at midnight to arrive in time for our 7:30 am appointment, and shortly before 9 am, we were on our way home.  It made for a fun day in the car as a family and fun memories!

One of my goals for 2017 was to learn how to knit entrelac.  It was a challenge but super fun and I was very pleased with the result! And, I finally finished it in March of this year.

In April we enjoyed a lengthy visit from my nephew, Joe, and his girl friend, Saragh.  I love being an aunt and it is sad that I don’t really know my nieces and nephews, so this was a super fun couple of weeks.  Saragh and Kassandra did a number of puzzles while they were here.

For Erik’s birthday, he jokingly said that he wanted a cake, topped with a big cookie, topped with donuts, topped with ice cream, topped with whipped cream.  He didn’t really expect me to go through with it, but we made him his dream cake!  Talk about sugar overload!!!

Sometime the beginning of the year, I was feeling quite overwhelmed with trying to keep up with my household, the ministries at the church, all the paper work and correspondence plus more and more counseling opportunities.  Added to that was my job teaching English.  After much prayer, we decided that I should quit my job and that Fred would look for a “mini-job.”  The beginning of July was my last day at the school.  I was honored with letters, flowers, songs and a teary good-bye.  For 12 1/2 years I taught at the grade school in Bokholt-Hanredder and I am thankful for the many memories and many good friendships that came from those years.

Travis turned 22 in July.   We spent the evening playing Cosmic Encounter with him!  And, typical for the middle child, I don’t have any pictures of his birthday! ūüôĀ

Kassandra spent almost the entire month of July in the States and flew back with Julianna and the 3 kids arriving on July 26th.  It was such a joy to have Julianna and her family here for 4 weeks (Nathan joined them after 10 days).  It was fun to interact with the kids on a daily basis.  As always, I am grateful for memories and pictures!  And, since words cannot adequately express how wonderful the time was, here are a bunch of pictures:

And here we are almost at the end of September.  The days are getting shorter, it is turning cooler and signs of fall are all around us.  Exciting times are ahead for our family, but for today, I will enjoy the minutes, cherishing the people I love and all the good gifts God gives me!

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On turning 50!

In a little over two weeks, I turn 50. ¬†Like the card we got for a friend last year says: ¬†“Turning 50 used to be something old people did!” ¬†Yet, here I am!

The first decade of my life was spent moving.  I remember 10 houses that we lived in during the first 10 years of my life.  A few weeks after my 10th birthday, I would enter 5th grade and the 5th different school.

The second decade of my life brought a lot of new experiences.  We moved to Germany when I was 13, I moved back to the States when I was 16, lived with my grandmother and finished high-school.  After 2 1/2 years of college, I got married a few weeks before my 20th birthday.

By the time I turned 30, I was fully wrapped up in my role as wife and mother.  With a 9 year old, a 6 year old, a one year old and a baby on the way, I had plenty to do!  Between turning 20 and 30, hubby and I had moved to Germany and started our ministry here.

The fourth decade of life brought even more changes.  Now a mother of 5 children, school life was our life!  Heidi turned 18 and started college.  So, although our family had grown, we were already starting to empty the nest.  We bought our house and for the first time in my life, I felt settled without thinking about moving in the near future.

And here I am turning 50!  Two daughters married, adding sons-in-law to our family.  Four precious grandchildren have also joined the family.  All of the kids are finished with school, I started teaching English and also tutor a number of students.  Hubby and I started a church and keep busy loving and reaching out to our church family as well as people in our community.

Here are a few things I have learned:

–I have been blessed far more than I deserve

–life will bring changes

–my relationship to God is the most important part of my life

–my relationship to God influences all of my other relationships

–my work will never be done

–I need to enjoy every moment of life

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A new year with new opportunities, but what I do, how I react, how much I love, how often I forgive, what I think–all of that will be the formation of 2017.  I desire to make wise choices, walk close to my God, think of other people more than I think of myself, be less critical and above all, keep my mind of heavenly things!

This is an exciting year for me!  In just a few weeks, another grandchild will be added to our family. The end of March, I will have the privilege of visiting my children and grandchildren in the USA.  In June, hubby and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage!  And, I turn 50 in July.

Something to hold onto for the coming year:

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Christmas Time Is Here

Christmas music in the background, a cheesecake finishing up in the oven to take to our Advent’s coffee and cake time at church tomorrow, Christmas decorations all over, and strings of lights making the cold and dark seem a little more cheery! ¬†I love Christmas and every part of it. ¬†Most years I have a list a mile long waiting to get done which robs some of the joy of this special time of the year. ¬†This year I am trying hard to enjoy the moments and not be frantic about my to-do list.

This pictures truly sums up Christmas:


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Fall Vacation

Fall school vacation is half over. ¬†This is the time of the year where I love the German school system–we had barely gotten going at school and it was already time for a break. ¬†Of course, the down side is that we often have school until the end of July before the 6-week summer vacation.

Fall is definitely in the air with chilly temperatures and turning leaves.  This past week I enjoyed a walk around the lake in our town (and missed having Kassandra with me).

Two weeks ago Fred participated in a course for the fire department to learn how to use the digital walkie-talkie. ¬†To celebrate the accomplishment, he decided to take cookies to his group for the end of the next practice–and made the cookies himself!

Travis is a big fan of the card game “Munchkin” and has about 20 different versions of the game. ¬†The sad thing is that we haven’t played many of them, mostly because Kassandra does not enjoy the game. ¬†So, while Kassandra is off in the USA, we decided to have a Munchkin tournament and play all of the extensions and versions. ¬†That is what we do on Thursdays for family night. ¬†So far, Erik has won 3 of the 4 games! ¬†This past week we played “Munchkin–Nightmare Before Christmas.”

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Hubby and I celebrated our 29th anniversary this past week.  Although we had a plan for our lives when we got married, there has been so much in our lives that has not been planned.  It was impossible to see into the future or even imagine all of the people that would become part of our lives.  Our 5 children, 2 sons-in-law and our 2 (soon to be 3) grandchildren are such a huge part of who we are, that it is hard to remember life without them.  We have truly been blessed in these last 29 years!

Another quote from Ann Voskamp:

Busy is a choice

Stress is a choice

Joy is a choice

Choose well!

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We have been reading the book, “Things Not Seen” by Jon Bloom, as a family. ¬†Yesterday the chapter was about Abraham and Sarah. ¬†This first paragraph jumped out at me:

“God is not content for us just to understand the idea¬†that nothing is too hard for the Lord. He wants us to have the overwhelming joy of experiencing it. ¬†But the some-times-agonizing period between his promise and his provision can push us to the brink of what we think we can believe, as it did for Abraham and Sarah.”

God, increase my faith, so I will believe, truly believe, that you can and will do the impossible!

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This past Monday, Granny moved to heaven. ¬†When my Aunt Darleen texted me with the news, my first thought was the quote from Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because its over, smile¬†because it happened.” ¬†I am sad. ¬†I have shed tears. ¬†But, I am also happy that Granny is in a place where there is no suffering or pain. ¬†Reunited with loved ones who went on before her. ¬†The thought that I no longer have grandparents is an odd one. ¬†I am almost 50 years old and most people my age lost their grandparents years ago. ¬†But knowing that fact doesn’t change that it is an odd feeling knowing I will never see them in this life again.

What a coincidence that Erik had requested Granny’s Caramel popcorn for his birthday last Saturday. ¬†When I spotted rhubarb in the store this past week, I had to buy it and make Grandma Virtue’s Rhubarb Pudding–which is actually more like cake than pudding. ¬†Both grandmas were excellent cooks!

Grandma Virtue on her 90th birthday.

Grandma Virtue on her 90th birthday.

The last picture I had taken with Granny.

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Lost and found

This past Thursday, hubby had 3 different tests at the university hospital in Hamburg.  A few years ago his Vitamin D had depleted (from one of his medications) which led to his bones starting to lose calcium.  One of the tests on Thursday was to see how he was doing after taking Vitamin D for over a year.  Part of the test was to measure his strength and he had to remove his wedding band.  Thursday evening he realized that his wedding band was still not back where it belonged but after a search through all of his pockets we were still missing his ring.

Let me insert here, that I am by far the more emotional one in our relationship, but the missing ring really upset hubby.  Sure it would be sad to lose a ring after almost 28 years, but, hey, we could always buy another ring.

I had this feeling that I should look in the car, but kept putting it off. ¬†Finally, Sunday morning, in a rare moment that I was ready to leave the house before the rest of the family, I walked 1/2 block to mail 2 letters and then decided to look in the car for the ring–and sure enough, there it was! ¬†It really does not make any sense and we have no idea how it got there, but we are thankful. ¬†I walked into the kitchen where hubby was washing some dishes and said “I have something for you.” ¬†He knew right away and actually teared up at having his ring back.

How thankful I am that our marriage is not dependent on losing a ring or many other little things that can and do go wrong.

Kassandra has a class at school where she works with metal.  On Friday she came home with bruised and cut fingers, and also this beautiful copper rose that she made all by herself!

Copper rose that Kassandra made.

Copper rose that Kassandra made.

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