Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Home is where half of my heart is...

Hello to you all! I apologize in advance for the brevity of this post and also for the nice expanse of time between the time I last posted to the present...! I wanted to say that I have not forgotten about the blog and have been told on numerous occasions in the past 3 or so weeks I have been in the states- that my blog has been followed by people I never expected and also encouraged in ways I did not think possible.

I am currently in Birmingham and trying to manage working two "part-time" jobs and begin "planning" (haha) this next chapter  in my life. Now that things are beginning to settle, or at least those foundational things such as place to stay, job, etc.- I would love to share the end of my 6 month Germany and short China adventures, but also continue to keep the blog through life here and the journey that in many ways, the Lord is only beginning in my life!

As the Christmas season fast approaches and just as quickly leaves, I have had the most wonderful year of feeling His faithfulness and seeing it displayed in my life. I think I might choose Christmas everyday...

Thank everyone for their support and encouragement! Update in the next day or so...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Autumn in Germany Part 3: Harvest of the grapes!

So much symbolism here! Between spiritual and physical harvest, labor in the fields and "battlefields", the glory of God is seen in this sheer beauty and in the community of the church!
 Perhaps on the coldest day we have experienced to the present, a group of us gathered in the vineyards of a fellow brother in our church to help with the harvest. In the words of Hans, the "lord" of the vineyards, this is a sign of community and love between "brothers" in the body of Christ... He then put us to work!
 Cold and drizzly... but stunning.

On the vine next to me, the power team. (They like to think so, at least ;)
 On the left Alex Adolf and to the right-  the Atomics Baseball coach Rob Piscatelli.

 Carrying the loads...

 My two best men, Jakey and Alex. And yes, we all stopped halfway.. reek reek!
 Yes, I am fulfilling every woman's dream of being the "token" girl in the bunch. Take that, "Samford Ratio"! Encouraged by a hardworking but fun group of men.

 Tut tut, looks like rain and home!
 Our reward:
 Many cups of hot coffee, tea, breads, marmalades, meet, cheese, and even a bit of Schnapps to warm up the hands and heart ;) 
It was worth it!

Autmn in Germany Part 2:

** In an inadequate note of thanks to those of you who have financially supported in in this time here in Germany, this experience has changed my life and heart in ways I did not expect. I came and have existed here for the sake of ministry and service to the church and this community, but it has blessed my life to be able to grow and flourish as a person and in my faith- in the freedom of being in a new place and in such incredible beauty. My soul is ministered to sometimes as much on a Sunday morning as it is walking through the vineyards on a cool Autumn afternoon or seeing the Bavarian or Swiss Alps. The people, places, and new experiences have breathed new life into my soul and as usual, the moment i come to be a "blessing" or helpmeet to a ministry or place, I am the one who is so incredible enriched and blessed in return. Here are some snapshots of my life in the the past month or two, THANK YOU for your investment.  I am a blessed woman. 

 On Germany's national holiday similar to our Memorial Day, we all let off school and work and this is how we chose to spend our day: About 3 miles in I began to wonder what I had signed up for...
Yup. It was a 16.1 km hike. 

This is part of the mass exodous to the top of the Belchen- I think this was around the 8k mark?

       Extraordinary beauty around 9 or 10K...

               We made it!!! Through the clouds you could see the Alps

  No explanation needed. BUT for those of you who say there is no God and that you need proof?                                                                
Lazing and grazing a bit at the top. These funny guys are all from my church community representing about a fourth of those hiking with us that day.
 The magic foursome: rode together, hiked alone. From left to right: Jacob Coon (tech and media team from NIC); Steffi Wissman, lovely sister and fellow sarcastic confidant; myself and then Alex Adolf- translator for the NIC and ever faithful protector of all things weak and female (ha)!
Heading back to 16.1.

Autumn in Germany Part 1

I realize that I have fallen behind in keeping my blog for the past month or so, but that does not mean that there have been no happenings here. With the change of the seasons there is much change in my life, that of my friends and family, and in the church here in Neuenburg.

Here is a picture of our basically four-man team in the NIC from left to right:
My boy Jake is over the tech and media team;  The man in the suit is my longtime friend Stephen who also serves as the head and pastor of this church; I lead the worship (for now); and the far right stands the other pillar of this team as head of the translation, Alex. All three of these men are amazing servants and I am honored to work alongside and under them.This was our final Sunday in the old church building.
 Of course this would be my post- as you can see, the front row is right under my nose so those days when my Deutsch pronunciations are wavering a bit..... ehhhh
As I mentioned, this was our final day in the "old" church building. For the past 6 years since its founding the Neuenburg International Church has been meeting in this small room above another business. Our body has grown to about 50 people on some Sundays and many prayers have been sent up over the past few years for a new place that has potential for growth and comfort of space. With a small church and a small budget it is difficult to find a space that is affordable and also meets the needs of the church. Earlier in the summer we found a building with many empty spaces and a large meeting room going up for sale and through blessed meetings and price negotiations we were able to move into this new space a little over two weeks ago! It was a leap of faith for our small congregation to be faithful in their giving and also have the courage and faith to break the tradition of 6 years, but on October 16th we held our first worship service of Thanksgiving and prayer for blessing- and Sunday October 20th we held our first service in this new space! It is wonderful to see a larger room filled with our families, children, and visitors. We have the blessing of more space for comfort in worship, space for the children to have their time during worship without disturbing the service, and just the anticipation of new life and possibility here in Neuenburg. We sang these words during our time of prayer and blessing on the 16th and I think they are so appropriate for our everyday lives and especially that of a growing church in a spiritually dark area. I pray them often:

"Lord, I Need You"

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

**As soon as my pictures from the new church have uploaded I will post them for you all!**

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!" Matthew 5:8

(I just realized that I never finished this post and it was meant to be posted a few weeks ago!)

SO, from Sunday September 29, 2013
 Today I was reminded f a sobering reality, one that I am so quick to forget. 

From Matthew 5:8: 
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
How often do we feel guilty because (if we are honest with ourselves) we are not really excited about "seeing God"? To finally "get to glory!" The idea seems a bit surreal and frankly, the idea of for us young women and men, meeting our spouse or planning a wedding create more feelings of excitement and anticipation than those of seeing our Father in heaven...

I am almost fearful to even type these words. But if we (I) am honest with myself I treasure the things of this world over their Maker. However this sobering reality hit me: 

it is OK to love the things OF GOD. He gives us these desires and all good things come from the "Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Be encouraged!

After a long week with many early mornings and late nights I was able to finally sleep in and enjoy my morning. Coffee, Running, and the Lord. I have taken to using my runs to speak with and also listen to the Lord (or at least attempt to listen!) I feel so blessed as I am able to physically move and enjoy the foggy and overcast Rhine at my own pace. I think of how often I take advantage of my physical mobility and complain about the minor imperfections of my body in comparison to what some others endure with supernatural joy...

After having an encouraging talk with my boss and pastor yesterday afternoon, he encouraged me to seek the Lord in the important decisions in my life the same way that I did with the decision to come to Germany. This is the prayer that is flowing from my heart this morning and hopefully more on a regular basis in the future:
1. Does this decision, relationship, or action bring about glory to the Lord's name?
2. Does this bring about the Lord's kingdom in the church and make it more fruitful?
3. Does ir bring about my own personal sanctification?
**For those of you who struggle with big words as I do, "sanctification" means my own pursuit or process of becoming holy or pure in heart. Of course this process is ever ongoing, each day being renewed.**

He encouraged me to not try and answer these questions for the Lord, but to ask them and leave the answers open-ended until I hear the Lord speak. Be patient! As I pray for my own family, decisions regarding the farm, my personal relationships, and those of my close friends and family, I am comforted by the knowledge and peace that the Lord will answer and He will convict our hearts if we are living in Him!  

Sunday, September 15, 2013


We did it, we made it! The Mahler Youth orchestra performed with Jean Yves Thibaudet, Frrech pianist who plays also on the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack..
THIS is how I imagined Salzburg, and really was not disappointed. Should I have been more dressed? Of course. But who really cares about all of that in the Mozarthaus during the end of the Salzburg Festival !

These pictures were not clear but I was soon enthralled with Jean Yves, as he and the Youth orchestra performed the Ravel G Major piano Concerto.

Apparently, although a sick prodigy Mozart happened to be the ah... not most fortunate looking man that all of the portraits portray him to be. This is the approximate size of what Mozart was back in the 18th century: about less than 5 feet!!

In 1993, the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation in Wiesbaden undertook a research project that compared all of the authentic portraits done of him- put them together- to reconstruct what his face must have looked like between the lot of them. THIS is what they found:

 River time.

Love this place...
 Statue of Mozart, of course!

View from the bottom of the Salzburg Fortress:

 View from the side:

 Eine Kliene Nachtmusik?
Concert hall where chamber music concerts were are I believe still ARE held!
SO old...

Dressing chambers of the King:

AND Mom would be in the Sound of Music puppet room in the bottom of the fortress
(I am not going to lie, this place scared me JUST a little)

View of the fortress at night:

Another night of the Salzburg Festival, Grigory Sokolov

This was the first and the LAST time I would ever attend a European concert and not be "dressed". There were 80 year old women who (may or may not have had one too many plastic surgeries...) who looked better than I did. At least, fashion wise! This is the hall mezzanine outside of the concert hall. 

Yes, in this picture I too feel like one of the Von Trapp children in her "curtain clothes" prancing around Salzburg. I have never seen so many gowns and tuxes that were not intended for a gala. They were al to listen to this fabulous music every night and drink and party until late. Truly amazing :)

Here lies the tunnel which leads to the famous golden brass elevator leading up to the Eagle's Next, a gift given to Hitler by the country as he was sure to bring down the world. It is a symbol of the "Summit of Power" and was meant to impress and dazzle people. Gag me.
However, it is one of the few undamaged monuments from the Hitler era.

The elevator in which Hitler ride up to the Eagle's nest. It is quite large but he would only allow himself to ride with (I think I am right on this) 6 people at a time. He was, among his many fabulous issues, claustrophobic, an alcoholic, insomniac, paranoid, etc. But this elevator could hold at least 20.

 Yes, its real! Bavarian Alps from the Eagle's Next

 Yes, this is a real picture that I saw with my own eyes and took... probably the top 2 favorite parts of this trip.
 The only history we really got from the structure itself, there was no guided tour really because this place was used only a total of about 10 times by Hitler.

 My partner in crime :)

 My eagle's perch...


 Mirabell Gardens next to Mirabel Palace- now home to the Mozart Conservatory 
 Mirabell Gardens- the place where "Sound of Music" filmed the children and Maria running through Austria singing, "Do Re Mi"


Mozart's Birthplace

"Sound of Music" Tour:
This would be the lake where the children fell out of the canoes in front of the Von Trapp "home" in the movie which is actually filmed in three different locations around Salzburg...
But, it is beautiful and romantic is it not?

"I am sixteen going on seventeen...."

"I have confidence....!"
(also one of the filming sites for the Von Trapp "home"

The church where the Baron Von Trapp and Maria were married:

The road trip ended here with the car- this is the morning after pic, me obviously with a wet head.. I was just so sad to take this car back. But three words for you guys: