Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Meditation

I was in a meeting recently where someone shared the shepherds' account from Luke chapter 2. We got to the final portion of the passage where Luke comments to his readers in verse 19 that "Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." I had always loved that idea of Mary contemplatively pondering what had just happened and her experiences, but I hadn't thought much about the contents of what she was actually pondering. The word "these things" in the text felt really general.

One of the key concepts we try to communicate when we are teaching bible study methods is to read multiple translations. What's interesting is that looking at Luke 2 in a few English translations, this observation didn't jump out at me. My meeting was in German, and so I had a chance to look at the text with new eyes. As I read the text, I noticed that the German text said that Mary "kept these words." Just that transition from "things" to "words" got me thinking, what is it that Mary is thinking about? What is she pondering? What "words" is Luke talking about?

As I asked this question, I looked back through the passage and realized that verse 17 gives us exactly the answer to this question. The shepherds "made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child." This is to say, they made known the "words" that had been told to them about the child.

As someone who has spent a lot of time with the Christmas story, this was really powerful. I always thought the shepherds' primary role was worship, which is still really important. It is an expression of God choosing the lowly and the outsider to celebrate and worship him at his birth. But looking more closely at this text in Luke, I realized that the shepherds had a role of proclamation, as well, and not just to the surrounding villages and people to whome they were connected. The shepherds told Mary and Joseph (though Mary is highlighted in the story) a confirmation of what they both had personally experienced in dreams and angelic visits beforehand. This message from verses 10-12, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of David, the promised Messiah, that will be for all people. This is what the shepherds said. This is what Mary held onto. Even the prediction of where he would be and how they would find him. All of it was a confirmation for her, for them. God was at work; this was his doing, and he sent them unexpected messengers to complete the task. These are the words that she pondered and treasured. This thing proclaimed by angels and shepherds. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Church Plant Launch

November 7th, 2021 was the official first Sunday church service for Crosslight - Evangelikale Gemeinde Leopoldau, our church plant! After 9 years in Austria and 5 years up north living in our target area, we were thrilled to finally see all of our work and waiting come to fruition. 

Moving into a new house and launching a church plant are not recommended to take place on the same weekend. Needless to say, it was a very stressful week and weekend for us leading up to the church plant launch. Our move went smoothly but all of the work on house-related things took our attention away from the service prep. Nate was especially challenged to find enough time to write and prepare his sermon for Sunday.

Despite all of these challenges, God blessed us so immensely! Our church planting team really showed up and did so much prep work to transform the building we rented into a very welcoming space for people to worship in. The service went really smoothly and was a really blessed time together. We had way more people than we expected (32!) and it was fun to see all of those people show up and to worship together. After the service, we offered coffee and tea and then ordered pizza for everyone. This really encouraged everyone to stick around and enjoy community time together and get to know one another better.

Here are some photos and videos from our time that Sunday. Thank you again for all of your prayers for us. Please continue to pray as we prepare for our next service (we are worshipping bi-weekly for now) on November 21st and especially for God to lead the right people to join us. Thank you!

Our little assistants, helping with the set-up.

Set-up of the tech.

Empty rows ready!

Welcome table with coffee and tea.

Prayer time before the service.

Visitors gathering before the service.

Our banner by the street.

Social time before the service.

Nate preaching his sermon.

Reinhold, one of our elders, explaining our prayer time and why we pray together.

Thanking the building owner for allowing us to worship.

Worship time

Some video from Nate's sermon

A snippet of one of the songs

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Video Update: Church Plant Launch

 Our first church plant worship service is coming up on November 7th. We would appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

July Highlights

 After our family reunion in Pigeon Forge, TN, we had the chance to visit some friends in the Nashville area and then Nate's grandma in northern Wisconsin, all on our way up to Minnesota. Here are a few recent highlights from those weeks!

Canoeing fun in TN!

Enjoying time with our TN friends

Milwaukee Children's Museum

Fishing at Grandma's house with Uncle Evan

Swimming with cousin Rosie and Uncle Neil

Cousin snuggles!

Fireworks on the 4th

Posing with Nana

Sparklers before the big fireworks show

Fun in MN, back at the Mall of America

Mini-golf with Rosie

Play date with MN friends

Home Assignment Debrief Week at WorldVenture Headquarters in CO

Our awesome debrief group

Receiving a certificate for reaching 10 years with the mission

Group photo of all the missionaries at the home office

The WorldVenture kids program! A huge blessing for the girls last week. They made pillow cases with various fabrics to remind them of special places and memories in their life.

2021 Veerman Family Reunion in Pigeon Forge

 Every few years, the Veerman family gathers somewhere for a family reunion. This is a reunion of my dad (Paul) and his siblings, their spouses, their kids (my cousins) and all of our spouses and kids. This year was our biggest one yet, with 49 people together in one house! The "palace" in Pigeon Forge was great for our group, because staying all together in one house meant lots of chances for fun, memories and conversations. We played games, did outings in the local area, ate great food and made memories together. It was so fun and I feel so blessed to be a part of such a great family. I was also, however, relieved for it to wrap up, because our family played a key role in planning the event! But it meant a lot to have helped make it all possible.

Here are a few photo highlights!

Group Photo

Enjoying the swimming pool

Ellie and Maya performing a karaoke song from Trolls

The "Wisest" Generation!

Watching and cheering for the pool tournament

Enjoying a day at Dollywood

Playing group games (this is called "flip the bottle tic tac toe")

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Group Games - view from the upper level

Late night cigars

Leading worship on Sunday morning


Whitewater rafting

Making announcement (something I did a lot!)

Celebrating 50 Years

 After we wrapped up our time in the Chicago area, we drove down to Asheville, NC to spend 3 days with my family and celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. A lot of what we planned for those days was a surprise to them, and it was a really special time together. Their legacy of faith and love for each other is inspiring to all of us, and we're so thankful we could celebrate all in person together!

We invited a professional photographer to come and do a photo shoot. It was really special to have all of these great pictures taken of our family. It was the first time we were all together (with all of the grandkids)!

The original 5

Ellie & Maya with Grammy and Grampy

The Whole Group

All of the Cousins with Grammy and Grampy

Celebrating our two high school grads the first night

Fun in the hot tub

The photo shoot in action

John giving a toast to kick off the anniversary party

The special couple enjoys a special meal

Mom and Dad posing with their hand-painted family tree

Checking out the photo book we made for them with notes and pictures from friends and family