Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thirteen years and counting...

How's this for good planning?  Since we were married in the year 2000, we will always be easily able to remember what anniversary we are celebrating.  So, in March (2013) we will (obviously) be celebrating number 13.  Nothing particularly special about this number if you're not superstitious, which we aren't...thankfully.

So, as it is not yet March, you might be wondering what all this marriage talk is about.  Well, we were just recently blessed in a mighty way to turn this 13-year old marriage into an extraordinary marriage that will grow continually deeper and better as the years tick on.  We just attended our Josiah Venture Marriage Retreat.  Where do we even begin to tell you how those 5 days have put us on a course toward marriage extraordinare???

We went into the conference in Krakow, Poland, knowing that we love each other, and truly love our marriage.  But throughout those 5 days, we experienced just how much better it could be when we dig deeper into marriage oneness as God intends...unselfishly, openly, humbly, and in one spirit.  Our JV President, Dave Patty, brought the teaching...humbly and honestly sharing with us what he and his wife, Connie, have learned through the years in their marriage, and especially as it relates to ministry.

We were truly blessed to attend this conference in a beautiful hotel with date-night-every-night...FREE OF CHARGE to all of us, thanks to some very generous donor-friends of JV.  We were given very specific conversation assignments every day, which alone took our marriage to much deeper levels, as we found ourselves talking about so much more than kids and schedules and the urgent.

We feel extremely refreshed as we are now back to life as normal...again talking about kids, schedules and anything urgent, yet basking in the growth that we've experienced and the depth of love for each other, and for our Savior who alone brings oneness like this.

Have we ever mentioned how much we love being a part of Josiah Venture?  We know that we are cared for by JV in our families, our marriages and our lives.  We so appreciate being in this group of people, knowing that as we are all serving in different countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe, we are being both prayed for and ministered to by our team of leaders.  This team is called the Bteam...stands for Barnabas team...and their role in JV is to provide for the JV family care, support and resources.  Thank you, Bteam, for an excellent job of care by providing this conference for us!   We know that a lot of hard work and diligent planning go into these conferences, and we are grateful.

And the biggest plus of this whole Conference, in a Mom's opinion, was the fact that Grandpa and Grandma came to take amazing care of the kids while we were away.  Babysitting five kids for five days was not an easy job to fill, so when Ed's parents willingly agreed to come and fill that role, we were elated!  And they filled that role with flying colors...see previous post.  To know that the kids were with Grandparents was such a relief to us, that we were able to completely focus on the conference and our marriage, because we believe that the best gift you can give to your children after leading them to know Jesus Christ as their Savior is to give them parents who are in love with each other.  What a blessing we've just experienced!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

January Guests

What a great start to 2013!  Wendi's cousin, Mike Heiniger, and his son Drew "dropped in" for a few days at the beginning of the month.  No one really just "drops in" way out here, as not many people we know are on their way to the Ukraine.  So, when someone actually makes it to us, we know that they intentionally made the trip to spend time with us, and we are honored...especially with Mike and Drew.  They came to Europe to visit some missionary friends in Budapest, Hungary, and then wanted to tour some of France.  If you look on a map, you will see that we are not at all in between Budapest and anywhere in France, so we were thrilled that they came way out of their way to travel north and east to see us.  Now...if we could just get Mike's parents, Uncle Lar and Aunt Bon to come for a visit too...

We had a wonderful time with them.  Our kids loved Drew from the start, especially Shaylee who immediately got into a great conversation with him on the way home from the train station, and from then on was always holding his hand anywhere we went.  Mike and Drew were a huge encouragement to us all with the times to talk, with the things they gave us, and with their interest in our lives here.  And for a super bonus, Mike is a very gifted photographer and blessed us by taking some fun family and individual pictures.  Thanks for coming, Mike and Drew!  It was a blast!

Mike even made scones for us!!!

These were the most delicious scones ever...raspberry!!!

Dinner with Mike and Drew...good food and good conversation.

Playing Ubongo!!

The kids enjoyed watching Mike edit his photos of them.

Shaylee with her new best friend, Drew...and her old one, Mom!!

And then at the end of the month we were blessed by Ed's parents coming to us again!  This was their second visit to us and this time they were here for two weeks.  We had such a great time with them.  They actually came to babysit...yes, that's right.  You know you have amazing parents when they willingly travel a good 24 hours door-to-door one direction to take care of your kids! :-)  They were with the kids for the first of the two weeks, Tuesday through Saturday night while Ed and I were enjoying some really nice alone time.  Actually, we were alone together with about 100+ others at a Josiah Venture Marriage Retreat, which definitely needs its own blog post.  :-)

The second week of his parents' visit, we enjoyed great times of one-on-one coffee dates with them, and then some great two-on-two times too!  And, of course, the kids reveled in their time with Grandpa and Grandma...cherishing the times with them and making some great memories.  Grandpa still wins their hearts with good old fun...laughing with them, playing games, being involved in their lives, and even getting down on the floor and playing "dog"!  And Grandma always takes such good care of us all.  I will always be amazed, Mom, how you braved the unknown and the language barrier and went grocery shopping here with just Dad, and that you were even quite successful in it...even to the point of making the best cinnamon rolls ever.  Of course, they tasted as good as yours always do, but the fact that you did it all in a foreign country with only a small dictionary to help you at the store, made them taste even more delicious!  :-)

We love you, Mom!

You've just GOT to see how this GRANDPA still plays "dog"!

And he's even over 60!!!

The excitement on the kids' faces is PRICELESS!!!

I don't know what they were talking about, but it was deep.

Celebrating Shaylee's birthday together with Pavel and Jelka too.

Enjoying our favorite pancakes at our favorite breakfast place in town.

Dad and Mom, we are so grateful to you for coming here to help us, to take care of our kids, and to just spend time with us.  We love you both so much, and love the memories we have of our time with you.