Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving with Friends and Christmas Banquet

We were blessed to give thanks with some sweet friends and colleagues on Saturday after Thanksgiving. Our friends, Bo and Leigh, hosted us all at their place on a farm. It was such a nice time and we enjoyed creating new memories.
Ethan loved spending time with their two dogs, Huck and Sadie.

Then it was on to Storch dorm where I helped out with hair and makeup. It takes quite a bit of time, hairspray and curling irons to get 21 girls looking beautiful. I had a great time.
Mere got ready at Storch with her friends. Here she is with a couple chilling before their "appointments".

This beautiful girl is Jessica. She is Ethan's buddy/babysitter on Wednesday evenings...LOVE this girl!

My amazingly beautiful small group.

Mark and I with one sweet girl..Jae. We're really tight with her:) She calls Mark "dad'!
Esther is another one of our best buds! She has the best smile and sweetest personality.
Mark's small group.
Lizzy is such a sweet young woman. She's an RA at a girls' dorm. We share hikes in woods and sweet times of amazing person.
We've still got it after 18 years! Not a bad looking couple if you ask me!
Meredith and her date, Peter.
Hallie and Max.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Random Thoughts/Happenings

1. Our daughter is an amazing young woman. We are so proud of who she is becoming. She knows what she wants, knows what she believes in and most importantly, she loves God and cares about serving Him with her life. So, when she asked if she could get her nose pierced, we said "yes" because when it comes right down to it, what does it really matter if she has a sparkly stud in her nose? It doesn't. Right now if you ask her what she plans to do with her life, she'll tell you that she wants to go to law school, work for International Justice Mission and devote her life to freeing people from unjust situations (kudos, Dixon!) One of the things that Meredith continues to teach me is that she is not me. She is who Christ created her to be and He is continually shaping her to become who He wants her to be so that His perfect will can be accomplished in and through her...even with a nose ring:)
(Before piercing with our friend Leigh)
(After - such pretty ladies! As a side note, Leigh is one of several young, hip ladies who "pours herself" into Meredith on a regular basis. I am so thankful for the example that Leigh provides for Mere. Leigh has an amazing heart and is the cutest most giving gal around. Thanks, Leigh for being brave with Mere!)

2. Our house is full of people more often than it is not...and we couldn't be more happy! Those of you who knew us way back when I called Mark "Mr. Unapproachable" can share in the joy that we feel when we hear the laughter of teens in the next room or the silence that's heard as a tired dorm assistant naps on our couch. We said when we came here that our house would be open to minister to people and it is. We love it. (Don't worry though, we have our protected family days!) We still continue to be amazed at how God has equipped us (through His people) for this very purpose and how much we love what He has called us to.

Evan with his band buddies jamming in our attic. They are really good!

3. Mark asked me to the Christmas Banquet. Think this looks like a proposal? You should hear some of the things the guys do around here JUST to ask a girl to the banquet.

4. Mark is shoveling the snow off of our sidewalk. I do believe this is a first for him. We've already had two beautiful snows and it's not even December. Quite a treat for us Tennesseans:)

5. Last but certainly not least, we'd like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. About the time you sit down to enjoy a loving feast, we'll be finishing up another day of work here. Yep, no day we are having Thanksgiving with friends on Saturday at noon and then attending a Christmas Banquet that evening with all the students. Go figure...only in Germany and at BFA! We are so thankful for you all who pray for us and financially support us so that our (yours and ours) ministry can continue.

Many blessings and much peace,
Susan and family

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Road Not Taken

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..."

These two paths are part of an almost daily hike/walk that I take in the woods around Kandern. Almost every time I reach this point on my hike I think about the Robert Frost poem and the symbolism that this divergent path holds in my life. I always go to the right when hiking because I am at a point in my life where I am trying not to take the path of least resistance but rather "the one less traveled by". The pathway to the left descends and I want to climb in order to really get a good workout. The path to the right leads to a steep ascent. I love it!

(The ascent - it's steeper than it looks:))

My time walking in the woods is both a physical and spiritual experience for me. It's here that I can clear my mind and talk to God. He is so faithful to give me some real clarity of thought during these times. It's during these walks that I humbly present my requests to Him and seek wisdom for the tasks to which He has called me. There's just something about being out in His creation and really pushing my body hard that is just so cleansing, invigorting and inspiring. About halfway up the steep ascent, my legs are burning, my heart is pounding and my lungs feel as though they will burst. My body yells for me to stop but my mind says keep going. I push further and finally reach the top to take in the scenery and it makes all the work worth it!

I have crested this hilltop many times now and the scene that I take in each time never gets old and it always takes my breath away. I can't help but compare my hike to life and Heaven. Life is hard sometimes and what God requires of us- to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him- is not easy. Sometimes the sacrifices seem too great and we just want to give up, but what a wonderful reward the promise of Heaven is.
As you may have read from my last post, we are beginning to realize the sacrifices that we make in being here. We miss home, familiarity and routine. Believe it or not, even after three months we are still adjusting to life in foreign culture and there is something new to learn every day. It's hard some days, but the benefits and rewards far outweigh the difficulties.
girls that call you Uncky Mark and Aunt Susan, and
appreciative students who are happy for a night away from the dorm, and
fabulous family times in this beautiful place to which God has called us to serve.

Just recently I was reading a daily devotional email that our church, St. Bartholomew's, sends out. Here's an excerpt from it: "There are times when we think that the problems in the world are far too large for us to make any difference when in fact, each and everyone, when living as authentic followers of Jesus, can dramatically change our environments." I am so encouraged to know that where I lack wisdom in knowing how to best minister to these precious students, God is able to manifest His kingdom through me in spite of my frailties and shortcomings. Thanks be to God.
Blessings and peace,
p.s. the countries represented in this post are Russia, Kazahkstan, Slovenia, Korea, Germany and of course the good old U.S. of A!
p.s.s. thanks to my friend Laura for the great idea of adding the "Lately I've been..." feature to the right:)