Sunday, December 30, 2007

Family Christmas

It's great being with family and friends for Christmas. Dot celebrated with our family, as every year. We went to the Rockettes Christmas show several days before ... and enjoyed seeing a fountain out on the Hillsborough River, and palm trees. Only in Florida for Christmas! The towers of the Univ. of Tampa are in the distance.

I gave Heather and Bruce a German greeting sign: "Willkommen" (welcome).

It was good hearing Bruce preach on the weekend... the stage was fixed up really fun with brightly wrapped gifts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Let it SNOW

No, these are not REAL snowmen in my apartment-- they are made from toilet paper & much imagination. The one to the left "bobbed" from left to right, as if plugged in, during the judging by our little "jury."
For Christmas our Connexxion group had a fun party in which 3 teams were busy at work -- here are the results.

You can also see us singing a few Christmas carols!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Candy canes, Cookies & the Christmas Season

This time of year is marvelous for having little (and larger) get- togethers-- to sing carols, bake cookies, decorate and celebrate the Reason for the Season! Recently 4 of us made festive tea light holders out of a special transparent paper, wallpapering glue and old jars. Marlen was the "artist in residence" showing how everything was done.

We capped off the evening by baking cookies! Mom and Dad, this is a recipe from the Martha Stewart Living cookbook you gave me!
This Friday our campus ministry, along with the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship group (called Christian Union, in England & Australia) handed out about 500 candy canes, along with a description of their meaning. We were inside the lobby entrance of a main univ. cafeteria.I am pictured with Tommy, who is an exchange student from OU. A major THANK YOU to all my friends who sent them in packages from the States quickly during this crazy mailing time of year.
Last but not least... here i am at the Christmas Market in my city, with my friend Miriam and her parents. Funny enough, on the same Sunday I had TWO friends whose family was visiting... and they wanted to celebrate Advent together and also visit the market!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

potatoes and games

I thought you might like to see a photo or two of our Monday night baked potato "party" in the dorms. Isaline, from France, who lives in this residence hall, had a birthday on that day and some of her friends helped her celebrate, too! I think Christoph, Tommy and Katie are waiting for the next game, Taboo, to start up.

I'm out the door now... so being quick, but wanted to ALSO share a fun photo of our group at the Connexxion retreat a week ago. It was our largest ever weekend retreat. THANKS for your prayers!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We have 2 discipleship groups that meet on Thursday evenings, back to back ... this one is going through the "7 Heart Attitudes" and it's a joy to pray together, fellowship and discuss the Bible! As you can see from the coffee table, we also snack together and have tea & Crystal Light!

Kids Weekend

This past weekend I got to have my "niece and nephew" visit me in Braunschweig. Their parents, friends and colleagues, brought them up from Jena and we had a TON of FUN!
It took 3 adults to get dinner going for 2 kids, while entertaining them at the same time --- hmmm.... maybe I am a bit out of practice with babysitting!! :-) Tommy is here for several months as an exchange student from OU, and Lydia just moved here from Jena. She's doing an internship locally in animal nutrition and just bought rubber boots to enter the cow stall!

What kid does NOT like ice cream? And in Germany the Italians have cornered the market for creative and tasty bowls of this stuff! The building here is where the city library is AND a huge, new shopping mall (complete with toy stores, their favorite!). Janine, a college student, was sweet enough to let us use her library card.
The whole family got all dressed up to go with me to the 2nd service at church, that is AFTER we had a marvelous, American- style pancake and bacon b-fast!

Monday, October 29, 2007

just what are you waiting for?

Or better yet, for whom are you waiting? A verse of note confronts me with this question, this answer:
"For God alone my soul waits in silence,
from him comes my salvation....
For God alone, my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken."
(Psalm 62:1 & 5-6)

Who am I waiting on, what am I waiting for? A LOT of things and people, I could answer. For starters, I'm waiting for the German society (as a whole) to be "nicer" and less direct. I could be waiting for friends to come through for me or initiate… OR God could bring people to initiate with me or act upon my overtures & let me know they have interest in a deeper friendship. I could rest in the fact that God loves me. And out of this overflow reach out, in a balanced way, to others.

I could wait on family to be there for me, to notice from a distance when I need a phone call or to realize what would make me happy. To buy the fun things I like to eat when I visit. OR, I could rest in the Lord and give to them without expecting. Be grateful for how they tend to my financial details back at home, and make the first move in researching for plane tickets for me for Christmas.

I could wait upon my supervisors to come through for me. To think of me and acknowledge my leadership in ways which I would determine. Or- hey, maybe I should be making THEM look good, and thanking them profusely for opportunities that they have put before me!

No, I want to wait ONLY on God. But how!?

Another thing I've realized is that waiting is not just passive, sitting around and praying for something to happen (though that might sound as if I feel prayer is passive, which it's not; for some of us it's less threatening than "getting out there and acting on guidance from the Lord!).

In Lamentations 3:24-26 it says the Lord is good to those who wait, to the soul who seeks Him. That means that although my waiting may look lethargic or in-active, it is actually ACTIVE – not impatient. But looking to the Lord for His answer, seeking Him for Him. And seeking His action on a matter!

I heard recently from a friend, who told me a lot of church starters that he knows think they can spend hours a week just sitting in Starbucks and then -- whoosh-- a church will appear! James 5:7 talks about the "husbandman" (the farmer) who is patient for the rains, that will bring about the fruit he’s waited for. Maybe he does have a time for a nice cup of Starbucks. But being a farmer? That involves a ton of activity—God is wanting us to expect and wait. But also ahead of time, or during this waiting, to act! To plant, to plow, and THEN to wait. And this activity is repeated over and over again in succession. Plant, plow, pray, wait, plant, pray, plow, wait, pray, etc. Sometimes we attempt to live out this statement: “it’s all about God” in an un-true way. Meaning that we just sit here & think we can be passive. God the Creator is not passive. We, too, can emulate His character, even in the waiting.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More on waiting

I wrote a couple of weeks ago on waiting-- and how I really do NOT like it. Here are other insights I've discovered in this word study I've been doing...

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!"

(Isa. 30:18)

Another translation says that the LORD "waits" (longs) to be gracious to us. God waits. Why? He greatly desires to do good things for us. Oh, I thought if He's a God of justice, then He's ready to "judo-chop" me when I mess up ... ?! He is not "out to get us;" instead He is longing for fellowship to be restored. Is that my image of God, that He's waiting for the chance to show me compassion and mercy? He waits for us to come to Him and get rid of the sin; to stop fleeing from His plan. In verse 15 of chapter 30 it says:

"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
'In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.'"
In this context of 'waiting' this verse makes a lot of sense. God invites me to rest in His arms. To trust His strength versus my methods and busy-ness. To be quiet (not lethargic and passive, or lazy at my job, however). Just quietly trusting. I recently put this verse on my laptop as my screen saver. The words leap out at me: "but you would have none of it." AHH! Is that true? I don't WANT to be quiet and restful? Am I fretting when I could be fellowshipping? Am I stressing, when I could be stable in His love? Why am I worrying -- my mind comsumed with "all I have on my do-list today"-- instead of taking time for worshipping?
This invitation is from God. I'm accepting it, over and over again, by faith-- I want to be blessed, in the waiting. I am in awe of a God who works SO hard, for me:
"From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him." – Isa. 64:4

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hats Off

"Kicker" is the German term for what Americans call "Foosball." And I just found out that Brits call it "Table football." But when you say the word in German "Fussball," that's our American word for soccer. And that's the British term "football." (are you with me?!)...
So which "hat" would YOU choose as the winner? We had a contest/ game at our "hat" -themed party and 3 teams competed. Miriam is Captain Blaubär (blue bear?), Jonny is something innovatively artistic with eyes coming out of the lampshade, and Ruben is Madonna just back from her Asian tour (yes, i had the privilege of "selling" this creative work to the jury). Suffice to say, we had a lot of FUN!

Especially when we swapped around hats and got some great party pics! Julia's grandfather's top hat was a hit! (Aunt Becky, you gave me one of these... and Mom, do you recognize 2 of Grandma's hats?!)

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I do not like to wait. In fact, I think you could say that I'm an impatient person, at times. That is one reason why I'm (sadly, too often!) LATE arriving places-- I know, it stinks! But I don't like to wait. I find it a waste of time, I guess. Or get bored easily.

I remember that Neil at USC used to say when he had to wait on someone (usually standing around the mascot statue, Tommy Trojan), that he'd pray for that person while waiting-- a good idea, I think, because then the waiting doesn't seem so ... well, meaningless... or boring.

I read a verse last week while having some "retreat" time in Jena, preparing for the new semester and preparing my soul for some better "balance" with rest. Habakkuk 2:3 says,

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay"
(NASB Translation).

I read this verse on October 3rd, which is a national holiday celebrating the reunification of the (once) two Germany's-- "Day of German Unity" (Tag der deutschen Einheit). Maybe that is sort of significant, since I'm teaming up with God and students to begin a new "franchise" of Connexxion, which first sprang up in the East and has now moved West!

A prayer: I saw this verse as assurance that You, Father, will make things “happen” Braunschweig, and beyond. That even though I don’t feel like wearing myself out with dozens of appointments, etc. (and believe I should NOT do that either), and trying to make things come together in a big way here, right away, I still feel a drive, an urge that I should and could do more… but want to resist that and instead plug into You. Wait for You! Wait for Your timing. Versus burning out. And I realize, too, that good things usually come slowly as You work in hearts. And that people “catch a vision” over time. But over time, it will and does happen. Thank you, Father, for the amazing way you’ve stirred up a vision already here... Wow!

(Note: the 1st photo above is taken of me at a conference on the Rhein, my first time to this touristy & lovely scenery, with spectacular views from a YMCA hotel where we stayed! The 2nd is from a terrace at my good friend's house in Jena. Susanne and Christoph let me spend a week here while they were out of town. It was too cold to sit outside, except for one afternooon... but what a fantastic place to "wait on God.")

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Jolly Ol'....

Can you believe that I got to go to England last month? Wow! And these were my precious "traveling companions" - -Deanna & her 2 -month old!

The great part was the spiritual encouragement, the chance to be with about 100 other women at a conference and just soak up the fellowship and talk my silly head off! And exchange ideas about student work and other fields with those who live in Madrid, and Lisbon, Sevilla, Dublin and Cardiff, Paris, and Munich. It was thrilling.

They had this high tea for us the day before we departed, and some of the gals were actually wearing costumes from the latest version movie of "Pride and Prejudice." My new friend Emily is wearing one and she sang terrific baroque songs during our tea time!

Breakfast Buddies

I wish I could recall all the cool quotes, and amazing sentences people have said to me (that's why i sometimes carry a notebook to a coffee appointment) ... the mundane but yet profound items of note that I've discussed in fantastic, eternal-type conversations... but alas, my memory is detailed only for strange things (and I'm usually not bad with names, come to think of it!). So much of my life is "lost" in the recesses of my memory bank(s?). However, impressions do stay with me... and being with 2 special friends, Deanna and Vera (along w/ Deanna's baby Abby), last week for a Monday breakfast at Stilbruch on the famous cafe street, Wagnergasse in Jena, on a crisp fall morning, was a lovely, encouraging, enduring impression! :-)
Ok-- it's a promise... more impressions of my last month, to come...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The summer is almost gone, and the temps here are cooler- but here are some ways I've experienced it with friends.... such as a grill party in the park (notice the longer sleeves! Katie, Pri and Miriam are smiling on the front row but believe me, they're cold!)...

with Birthe, hanging out in the Park...

welcoming a new baby, Abby, to the world in Jena and letting her get to know "Aunt Martha"... (you can see she's ready for the Georgia Tech football season all decked out in her bib!)...

some final touches on the apartment, painting a wall in my kitchen and bedroom...

learning to cook curry with special friends...
watching a Bollywood remake of the movie/book "Pride and Prejudice" with a pajama theme!
keeping out the way, when friends Christoph and Johnny light fire to their drinks at the Cafe...

... and having games nights with Ulf and Marlen

misery loves company?

The weirdest thing-- in Germany you sometimes have names of cities that are quite "random" and even negative. This town is called "Elend" (meaning "Misery"-- my friend Doro says that near there is the town "Sorge" (meaning worry!). I saw this during my last little "jaunt" about the region with Anja, an afternoon trip into the nearby Harz Mountains.Having her here this summer was a treat!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Munich Memories

I got to go to Munich for a fun weekend trip and see some friends! Above are me with Antje and Stefan (from Jena), and our friend Daniel, who works for BMW in Munich. These photos prove just how enchanting a couple of days in Bavaria can be...

the May Pole is seen in various cities in the town center...

You can eat raklette with friends. I have a griddle also at home, but usually just do it in the winter time.

Outside a cafe... At brunch on that morning, we listened to live piano music -- very classy!