Saturday, December 18, 2010

christmas stress simplifier

We have a tradition-- sometime around the Christmas Season we soak up the atmosphere at the Wilderness Lodge at Disney. Sometimes it's warm enough that Northerners are outside swimming in the pool/ lagoon.
My niece now has a german teddy bear!
Heather & Bruce discovered a special bakery on the Food Channel -- Babycakes! Its showcase store is in NYC, but they also have a kiosk in Orlando at the Disney Marketplace. They have yummy desserts that are gluten free, (also vegan, aka without eggs), which made everyone happy.
I love the Wilderness Lodge-- it's fireplace is as majestic as the tree. Think: Grand Canyon or another mountain- situated national parks' lodge.
So the waiter asked my dad: "Can I get you a little more tea?"
Christmas smiles! :-) No matter when you schedule it, I'm never fully ready for the gift exchange until the last minute.

I've discovered a "Christmas- stress- simplifier": do the family gift-giving a week early-- (yes, for those of us who know that Santa does not bring the gifts). We celebrated early for other reasons, but here's a side effect: now that we've done our gift exchange, we can concentrate on other important things... such as visiting a good friend in the hospital, attending the funeral of a neighbor's mom, writing Christmas cards, catching up with friends, getting ready for my aunt's visit, & prep-ing for a big Christmas Eve service (at the new "re-birth" of a church here in Tampa that my family is involved in)!

What is your new or tried- &- true Christmas- stress- simplifier??

life with attitude

The 7 heart attitudes are a fabulous "base," the bottom line of how I try to live out life, & in ministry. I refer to them all the time and 3 churches that I've been involved in use them. What an amazing help they are in relationships, (especially if we both have agreed on them!). I learned them first through Hope Church & Harold Bullock in Texas. He has a new book outlining these attitudes, called "Life with Attitude"!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Party

Playing a kids' game, where you have to wear a winter scarf, gloves and knit cap-- while others roll the die-- and try to break into a bar of chocolate and then eat a bite, one at a time, until the next person has a turn...
with Dodo, and Jacky- Dodo (her nickname) had made special Cookie Monster muffins!
the kitchen is the best place to hang out at a party... Anja is the Christmas "hostess with the mostest" (in green)
hanging out with Markus and Lars...


The universities of Germany are known for showing an old movie every Christmas, to sold-out audiences of students. This was my first year to go, invited by our friend Christian, who graciously wanted to be sure that I learn more of German culture (I told him upon re-entering Germany, that there were many things I'd like to grow in knowledge of about this culture and the language).
The movie is about several men having a drink around a bowl of glowing punch (you light up a sugar cone above a bowl of hot wine). They make a bet that one of them can not survive going undercover to high school (he has been reared in a wealthy family where he had only private tutors).
The name of the movie is the word for this special punch: "Fire tongs bowl". After the movie we celebrated with sparklers outside in the snow... here is our friend Thanh!
Celebrating with friends Hannah, Sabrina, Anja, (me) and Birthe.
There were 2 showings that evening on campus, with probably 500-600 attending each one.
Elli, Hannah and Anja (we serve on staff of Connexxion together).

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner (a week later...)

A week after Thanksgiving, we celebrated!! Yes, the real last Thursday in November was a day before our big retreat weekend, so we postponed a good thing... and it was YUMMY! This was how my balcony looked that day (guess where I put the steaming pot of cooked cranberries-- so they could cool?!)
My new friend Nikola brought two friends, Henning and Thorsten! I like meeting new people!
What really makes things fun is when friends come to help ahead of time... such as Jonny, and Christian.
Jonny carved the turkey!! It was 17 pounds (or 7.8 kilos) I didn't really have a roaster THAT large, so a lasagna/ cake pan did the trick fine.

More Fall Weekend...

It was the coolest thing-- right after the Fall Connexxion weekend, Anja presented me with a hand-made Advents' Calendar she had worked on -- little envelopes on a string--inside is a verse for each day & a packet of tea! (cozy!... and meaningful! Danke, Anja!)
Winter wonderland...
Does this look cold? Snowy?...
Enchanting? It was all of the above... here are amazing friends & Connexxion staffers Birthe, Anja & Vera!
It was also work... here is our breakfast with the team-- ( Thomas K. on left). We sometimes stay there after the students leave, so we can "retreat" ourselves, plan, catch up, share vision, pray, and be refreshed by fellowship, and do even MORE planning. (out of order-- this event was JUST after the following photos)
Saying "good-byes" is always hard after a weekend-- Daniel, in the middle, had driven all the way from Munich (maybe 6 hours!). He has a cool story of how God met him, years ago, when he was driving home from just such a weekend.
Lydia and I have been friends since Jena days... she now lives in Braunschweig and is Anja's roomie.
It was cool to catch up with my buddy Burdy, who used to study in Jena and is now a counselor.

Snowy Fall Weekend

We had 30 attend our Fall Retreat weekend with Connexxion-- this time from 3 cities!! (Hamburg being our newest Connexxion start!)
Our guest speaker was a well-known pastor & author, Klaus Schoenberg.
It was a blessed time to explore the topic of "spirituality" and see how God can meet us in fresh ways. Here are some of our Braunschweig students... (Christiane, Lydia, Steffi, Nikola & Elli; the guys behind them are Olli & Simon)
One our final evening we had a fun "murder mystery" complete with pirates (for instance, Christiane & Anja)

... and a princess on a ship! (Birthe was the captured princess! She played the part WELL!)

Wanna see more things we've done this fall with Connexxion? Check out this blog....