Saturday, September 29, 2012

Another Unexpected Goodbye

Our silver Honda

An ode to a teammate that won't be coming with us...

Going through this process, it is amazing the things that bring about an emotional response. Today we continued to process of showing people our car to sell. It is our last physical thing tying us to this country and has been our "home away from home" for this entire journey. She isn't new or flashy, but she has been as committed to this journey as we have. She's a real trooper.

Loaded up in front of the lake
In the last 18 months, she has been through a lot. She has seen many, many oil changes. We had one major repair where she had an entire valve job done. We also had other smaller repairs along the way, each with their own adventure story. She hauled a canoe up to the BWCAW for our canoe trip last summer and has carried our bikes through many states. As we traveled, we first packed every inch of the car with everything we thought we would need. Slowly over time, we realized that we weren't using everything we had with us and we slowly paired down. She was a champ all the way through.

Leaving MN on our last road trip.
Back in 2007, Bethany picked me up from Midway airport in this car for my first visit to see her. And once we were dating, we drove back and forth to MN several times to visit family and friends. Our memories with this car go way back.

Somewhere along the way, Bethany and I realized that we have traveled enough miles in our car to gain airline style "status." We get priority boarding and virtually unlimited check bags. Plus we get to be in first class seating in row 1 every time! 

In all of this, our Honda Civic has represented freedom and flexibility for us. We could travel anywhere we needed to go in it. God has provided through this car for us in so many ways. It was reliable and rarely broke down even as we put so many miles on her. I will forever treasure the memories that Bethany and I have built listening to podcasts and hitting the open road together. Goodbye old friend.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Our Final Commissioning

Nate talks about European mayonaise during our commissioning!
Last Sunday, we were commissioned at Parkview Community Church, our home. It's been really special for us to be commissioned at 3 churches these last few months - at my home church in CT, Nate's home church in MN and now our sending church. We really feel blessed and supported and loved as we go out.

Nate and I found Parkview back in early 2008, at the suggestion of our WorldVenture recruiter, Phil. He had attended Parkview when he lived in the Wheaton area and knew the church had a welcoming community, solid biblical teaching, an outreach focus and a heart for missions. All of that turned out to be true. Since coming to Parkview 4 years ago, we had the opportunity to perform in Children's ministry skits, sing on the worship team, join a small group, help facilitate bible discussions for new believers, and lead a men's morning bible study (that was Nate, of course). I was baptized at Parkview as a believer in early 2009, having previously been baptized as an infant. We were married at Parkview, we are members there, and now we are being sent out from there. It has a really special place in our hearts.
Chuck prays for us

This past Sunday, we sang on the worship team for the last time - very bittersweet! Then Pastor Chuck Howard, who oversees Parkview's missions efforts, invited us back up on stage. He allowed us to share a bit about the needs in Austria and then he encouraged us with the Great Commission, reminding us that we go out with Christ's authority and that Christ will be with us. He then prayed for us. It was really wonderful to get to share a bit of who we are with the church and to know that they will faithfully pray for us and support us on this journey.

Thank you, Parkview, for welcoming us in 4 years ago and walking with us through this journey!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Grand Total...

Photo credit: clarita from
This past Saturday, we drove back down to Illinois from our last visit to Minnesota. And thus ended our road tripping year! Over these past 14 months, we have spent more time on the road than either of us have before. Many hours were spent listening to podcasts to keep us entertained. It's been an adventure to say the least.

Throughout the year, I was tracking two very important numbers. Here are the grand totals of our road tripping year... [drum roll please]

Unique beds we slept in (not including repeats): 50
Miles put on the car: 37,000

It's pretty amazing to look back on when we started this journey in July of 2011 and how far we've come since then. I look at the list of places we've stayed and think about how we were feeling at each stage of this journey. God has been so faithful to carry us through, especially during the times when we were road weary and we missed having a place to call home. Even though it's been hard to be "nomadic", we wouldn't change any of it. We have grown and processed and learned so much as we've driven 37,000 miles and slept in 50 beds. We believe God will use all of these lessons that we've learned when we arrive in Austria. He is faithful!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Video Blog: Intentionality

When we leave for Austria in a few weeks, we want to make sure we continue to intentionally pursue relationships back home. In this latest video blog, hear our thoughts on how to stay connected!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Commissioning at Friendship Church

Yesterday, we had the privilege of being commissioned at Friendship Church in Prior Lake, MN. Nate grew up in this church, and it is very special for us to be sent to Austria with their support and prayers going with us. God used many individuals at the church to help shepherd Nate and lead him towards cross-cultural, international ministry.

Here is a brief video from the commissioning, where we share our vision for ministry and Nate talks about how the community at Friendship nurtured and discipled him. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Temporary Home

Our dining area in the kitchen
We are excited to post that we have found an apartment in Vienna! We spent a few weeks scouring websites with apartment listings and then got feedback from team members on neighborhoods, location and apartment features. We are excited about our choice and eager to move in a few weeks from now!

The kitchen - so excited to cook here and entertain guests!

This apartment will be our "temporary home" for the next 3 months, from October 7 - January 5. We are excited to move into a fully furnished place for our first stay in Vienna, since we can focus on getting settled in the culture without worrying about buying all of the items we'll need for a home. We can focus on getting cell phones, exploring the city, learning to shop and finding a language school. (We are only renting it for 3 months because we have to leave the country for 90 days in early January due to via reasons.)

Bedroom and wardrobe

We have been without an apartment for over a year now, and it's definitely weighing on us. It's hard to live out of a suitcase for so long and to feel "scattered" all the time. I keep losing things because I forget where I put them! And we are so excited to cook our own food together again. Cooking is a really fun and special hobby for us that we love to do together, so we've really missed it this last year.

Living room

Thinking about this "temporary home" in Vienna made me think of our "temporary home" while we're here on earth. Like our new apartment, we know as Christians that this is not our permanent residence here on earth, but that God can use us here and do great things before we move on to eternity. Even though it's not the end goal, we can be blessed here and see purpose in being here. But ultimately, our hearts long for the permanence of our long-term home where we can be at peace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Amazed by the Ordinary

I have heard it said that photography does two things. The first is taking the experience of truly beautiful places and distilling it into a single image. It takes places about which most people only dream and captures the magic of that experience. The other is taking ordinary places and pointing out how they are extraordinary. Both of these are fun...there is something about finding unique angles to everyday objects.

This is why I love macro photography. It takes small areas of our world that we see every day and explores them up close. It shows us a whole new layer of complexity that is right under the surface of our own world. It gives us a brand new perspective on the objects we interact with all the time. It reminds me that I need to be

Today I came across a blog I follow. Josh posted two macro photos of dragon flies that were exceptional. Click the link to head over there and see them. I had one of those, "Wow!" moments when I saw them for the first time. I have seen dragon flies so many times, but I don't think I have ever seen them this way.

What gives you that feeling of wonder a curiosity?

Friday, September 7, 2012

One Month from Today

One month from today, fall will be in full swing. Pumpkin lattes will be everywhere. We will be thinking about apple picking, bonfires, and getting winter clothes out of storage. The fall air will be crisp and clean. We will be able to wear sweatshirts with out feeling uncomfortable and sticky. In a month, the school year will be well underway, with students collecting leaves for biology assignments and writing essays about great works of literature. The dog days of summer will be gone.

One month from today, something else will be happening. We will get on a plane and move to Austria. This is honestly a pretty surreal thought. This is something we have prayed about and looked forward to for a very long time. This month will be a season of lasts as we say goodbye to dear people and look forward into a great unknown. It feels like we are standing close to the edge of something great and marvelous, but at this same time, it feels like a normal Friday.

The last year and a half has been a lot of fun, but it has also been very hard. We have been back and forth across the country, staying in guest rooms and our friends' basements. To think that we are only a month away from leaving is a heavy feeling. We continue to face into the things that we are giving up as we move across the ocean. We know that He has a plan, but it is hard to say goodbye.

So when you are picking pumpkins up at the grocery store or baking an apple pie, remember us in prayer. And thank you to everyone that has walked with us through all of this. You are truly dear to us and we cherish the time we have with each of you as we prepare to go. On October 7th, we will be able to say, "look what God did working through his people."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

30 Days of a Wonderful God

Here we are with our 30 Days of Prayer behind us. It was really wonderful to hear how everyone joined in and connected with God through this period of time. I can’t believe how quickly it went. God provided so much for us! We are happy to be fully funded and looking forward to what God will do when we arrive in Austria.

These last 30 Days truly were a vision of how God works in the world. It wasn’t flashy, we didn’t see any spectacular sky writing, and we didn't have a magically enthralling experience. There was no booming voice from heaven. But we saw Him active in so many small ways. We saw him move in the hearts of others to lead them towards himself. We saw the people of God coming together in prayer and seeking Him in community. And sometimes those small leadings included us and our needs.

All this was ultimately done for God’s glory and not our own. I was reminded that God is not focused on my happiness, but He does know how to give good gifts to His children. His heart is good, and He provides for our needs. I was consistently reminded that I need to learn to say no to things that aren’t inherently bad but can become idols that draw on my time with God. And I was reminded that prayer is a constant posture of life, not an action I start and stop.

So now it’s your turn. For those of you that participated in the 30 Days of Prayer, what did God teach you? What did you learn?

Thanks to everyone that participated.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Last Year of My Twenties

In 2011 when my birthday rolled around, I thought it would be my last birthday in the States for awhile. Although I was wrong about that, I'm so thankful that God has opened the door for us to depart for Austria soon. Buying tickets for Vienna was an early birthday present!

Nate and I celebrated my 29th birthday last Wednesday, a few days early. (On my actual birthday, we had to drive 15 hours to Connecticut, so Wednesday was a much better day to celebrate!) Here is our birthday adventure in pictures...

Crepes for breakfast from Chef Nate.

Nate bought me my first pair of Toms shoes!

We had lunch downtown at RJ Grunts - delicious burgers!

A cute owl at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Beavers - they were so cute!

I'm bonding with my new friend.



The Meerkats look right at you!

Nate's favorite animal - the River Otter.

A huge tiger


Gourmet cupcakes :)

Dinner Menu from Volare - a delicious Italian meal...also where we dined after we got engaged!