It’s Time

Time to stop and settle down and ….

just breathe.

I feel like the last six months have been a blur and at the same time full of slow-motion moments. Strange how life can be like that. I just re-read my last post from…waaaaay back. A lot’s happened since then.

We live in Texas. I hear my kids picking up a twang now and then (nnnoooooooooo!) I drive a minivan. My husband has regular work hours. My kids go to school with a PTA and fundraisers and all kinds of stuff that I remember from my own schooling and yet so many things that I don’t remember because it was a different time.

Soon I’ll post some stuff that is different. Sort of as a way to get myself back into blogging world by finding something easy to write about.

‘Cause what’s easier to write about than differences? :-)

From Saxony to Texas

Well, the time has come.

Tomorrow, the 21st of July, we will be flying from Dresden, Germany to St. Petersburg, Florida and then on to Arlington, Texas, which will be our new home. We have lived 10 years in Germany and….well….I just don’t know what to say. I’ve been talking about it in Facebook statuses for a while now and doing my countdown thing…but today is officially Day 1 to the USA and I’m not sure what to think. I could literally think of a hundred emotions I’m feeling all at once right now all the way from ‘depressing sadness’ to ‘buoyant jubilation’ but most of all I just feel….weird. I guess that’s my definition of ‘weird;’ something you can’t understand or describe very well.

We had a nice last day in Dresden…slept in, lunch with friends, saw some more friends, ate our last German meal at a great restaurant and hiked all over the place to find Olivia her favorite food-a crepe. We took a few more pictures and I shed a few tears…but it was a good day.

Tomorrow we step into uncharted territory on the next adventure that God has given us. We’re ready because He’s prepared us for it without us even knowing it. The relationships and experiences we’ve had we will surely never forget and thankfully–yes, mainly to Facebook–we can keep those relationships going. But we’re also excited to see what our new friends will be like and where God will lead us, in order to help others we have not yet met.

Farewell Dresden and hello Arlington. Strange words that I didn’t know ten years ago that I would utter, but there they are.

Let’s see what happens…

Father’s Day

What my Dad taught me: don’t be a quitter, always get back up and back out there and never lose your sense of humor!

Dad during one of his favorite pastimes

Isn’t it great that we have each other? Gut, daß wir einander haben!

I really enjoy small group worship. I also enjoy large group worship. There are benefits to both kinds of groups-both the small group meeting in a circle on Sunday morning, like we are in Dresden and the large group meeting in a huge building singing to each other with hundreds of voices like so many places in the US. This morning we were about 17 people in attendance and we had a prayer/song service. I enjoyed the sun coming in the windows, the homemade communion bread and the sound of each individual voice which I could hear because of the smallness of the group. I know that when we go back to the US I will miss these things, but I will also enjoy the encouragement of so many voices being raised in song together that I cannot begin to distinguish one from the other; looking at so many faces of people who are ready to lend a hand, be a friend and exemplify the body of Christ as one. That is also a wonderful sight to behold.

One thing however, that I will truly miss is singing some of my favorite songs in German. There are some that are translated old American or English hymns, but there are also many hymns written and composed by German writers and one thing about the German language is that it is so simplistically descriptive. Oftentimes a verb is so descriptive in and of itself that it needs no adverbial helpers to go along with it. The texts are also oftentimes more simple, to-the-point and get right to the heart of the matter. One such song that I enjoy is one we sang today called “Gut, daß wir einander haben” or “It’s good that we have one another” by Manfred Siebald. For my German friends, it’s 407 in the green songbook :-)

Isn’t it wonderful that regardless of the size, the family of Christians you worship with is there for you in all their fallible glory but that we have that in common which makes us pure as gold…Christ.

(English translation below)

Chorus (sung first in many German hymns):

Gut, daß wir einander haben, gut, daß wir einander sehn,

Sorgen, Freuden, Kräfte teilen

und auf einem Wege gehn.

Gut, daß wir nicht uns nur haben, daß der Kreis sich niemals schließt

und daß Gott, von dem wir reden,

hier in unsrer Mitte ist.

1. Keiner, der nur immer redet; keiner, der nur immer hört.

Jedes Schweigen, jedes Hören, jedes Wort hat seinen Wert.

Keiner widerspricht nur immer; keiner paßt sich immer an.

Und wir lernen, wie man streiten und sich dennoch lieben kann.

2. Keiner, der nur immer jubelt; keiner, der nur immer weint.

Oft schon hat uns Gott in unsrer Freude, unsrem Schmerz vereint.

Keiner trägt nur immer andre; keiner ist nur immer Last.

Jedem wurde schon geholfen; jeder hat schon angefaßt.

3. Keiner ist nur immer schwach, und keiner hat für alles Kraft.

Jeder kann mit Gottes Gaben das tun, was kein andrer schafft.

Keiner, der noch alles braucht, und keiner, der schon alles hat.

Jeder lebt von allen andern; jeder macht die andern satt.

Chorus:

Gut, daß wir einander haben, gut, daß wir einander sehen,

Sorgen, Freuden, Kräfte teilen

und auf einem Wege gehn.

Gut, daß wir nicht uns nur haben, daß der Kreis sich niemals schließt

und daß Gott, von dem wir reden,

hier in unsrer Mitte ist.

And in the best English translation I can manage without help (send me a message if I got something wrong!):

Good, that we have each other, good, that we see each other,

We share cares, joys and strengths as we walk one path together.

Good, that we not only have each other; that the circle is never closed,

And that God, who we talk about together, is in our midst.

1. There is no one who always talks; there is no one who always listens.

Silence, listening and words all have their worth.

There is no one who always contradicts; there is no one who always fits in.

And we learn how to love one another even when we argue.

2. There is no one who is always joyful; there is no one who always cries.

Often God unites us through our joys and through our pain.

There is no one who always carries others; there is no one who is always a burden.

Every one has been helped; everyone has taken hold.

3. There is no one who is always weak and no one who always has strength for everything.

There will always be those who can use their God-given gifts to do the work that others cannot.

There is no one who needs everything and no one who has everything.

Every person lives off of everyone else and every person gives the others enough.

Chorus:

Good, that we have each other, good, that we see each other,

We share cares, joys and strengths as we walk one path together.

Good, that we not only have each other; that the circle is never closed,

And that God, who we talk about together, is in our midst.

Commitment

I wanted to share this video and article published by the Christian Chronicle of recent goings-on at Harding University. I started to write a status update on Facebook about this, but it started getting out of hand, so I thought it warranted a blog post :-)

I want to say now that you are welcome to disagree with me in the comments section. I’m cool with that, but your comment will be deleted if it’s profane or bullying or downright mean. Just sayin’.

I’m simply writing this because I want to say I admire President Burks for staying committed to his beliefs. If you read the  in the Christian Chronicle: http://www.christianchronicle.org/blog/2011/03/harding-university-defends-decision-to-block-website/  and the rest of the article of what’s going on, you will get a better picture of what I’m talking about. Here’s the video:

You may not agree with Hardings or Burks views on homosexuality, or whether or not scripture is God-breathed or even Hardings policies on suspending people who have sex outside of marriage, bullying or ‘unacceptable behavior.’ Then again, you might agree. Let me just go ahead and expose myself by saying I do agree.

But that’s not really what struck me about this situation. I admire their commitment. Harding University was founded on biblical principles and has never tried to disguise that fact. Quite the opposite. I know of other universities, institutions, organizations and individuals who cave at the first sign of pressure from the public. What’s even harder is when you’re being pressured by your own family…in Harding’s case, it’s students. The fact is, it’s right there from the tagline on their website “Faith Learning Living” to their explanatory mission. I agree with Burk that you are entitled to think what you want to think. You’re entitled to believe what you want to believe. But an organization that is founded on certain principles and expects their students to obey their guidelines as a private university is, in my opinion weaker if they give in and backtrack on their resolve just because people want them to. Just because students no longer want to follow those guidelines doesn’t mean the university should change…it means they should go somewhere where they DO agree with the principles. Just like if you don’t like this blog you don’t have to stay and here and try to push hurtful comments through. Go to another blog where they’re welcome.

But I said it wasn’t all about who stands where and so I’ll get back on track. I see so many divorces. I see so many children rejecting their own families…because of trend not because of abuse or legitimate reason. I see “news” giving in to what the public wants – reality tv – and broadcasting more and more sensationalism instead of information. I see parents being swayed by one parenting fad after another instead of committing to parenting their children based on their true beliefs. I see parents giving up altogether on parenting and letting society do it instead. I especially notice Christians when they allow themselves to be sucked out of their commitment to live as Jesus lived.

All because people don’t want them to. All because of opinion. Before I close and condemn myself in some people’s eyes altogether I just want to say first that that does not mean I believe you can’t change your mind. I change my mind, sure…after careful thought and consideration. I listen and I observe. I don’t believe in turning a blind eye and I don’t believe in trying to live in ignorance just to seek bliss. But I do think that if you commit to something…then you commit. Did you see that period?

I committed to being a Christian 14 years ago. That was a big commitment and one I didn’t take lightly. I admire Burks. I admire him because he knows what he stands for. He knows what the university stands for. I couldn’t be happier to see such a display of commitment among all the students and public who are trying to adapt one organization’s belief system to their own.

Stand up…

…for what you believe in.

Yesterday I had other blog themes on the brain, but it was a very important day of remembrance in Dresden, Germany. On February 13th, 1945, the heart of Dresden was destroyed by Allied Forces.  You can read about it here, because I have neither the qualification nor the heart for recounting it in my blog. It’s a sad story, but one that I am glad to have read and had recounted to me as a reminder of what war does to humankind. Not just to soldiers abroad, but to average families who find the enemy at their front door.

"Nazis, No Thank You"

I find it fitting, though, that the infamous February 13th…a day full of sadness and hate…is followed by the beloved February 14th…a day of love and hope. Today on Valentine’s Day I saw some pictures from Joel, our H.I.M. worker from the demonstrations downtown and it made me think of some verses from Romans 12. You see, in Dresden, the Germans don’t simply remember their fellow countrymen who passed away on that horrible night.

They also stand up for love and tolerance against Nazi protesters who choose the day of February 13th to make their own demonstration and who, for years, have made it not only a day of remembrance but a day of political turmoil. Last February 13th in 2010 was an important day in this regard as Dresdeners formed a peaceful human blockade to stop the largest Neo-Nazi march in the post-war era.

Human Chain against neo-Nazis

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

They were standing up for love and hating evil. I love this phrase “stand up.” It implies doing something. Obviously, you can’t stand up to something when you’re sitting down. You have to get in the way and show your sincerity by saying with your physical presence, “this is not okay with me.”

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I love that the Menschenkette (human chain) formed of 17,000 people yesterday to symbolize blocking out the neo-Nazis was a peaceful event. We should hate what is evil, but leave justice and vengeance to God, as Paul goes on to describe later in chapter 12. Our job is to actively stand up for love in as peaceful a way as possible.

Human Chain of 17,000 in Dresden 2011

That is why I’m so proud of my German friends and friends of other nationalities who have gone downtown to say “I stand for love.” Though I, as a Generation X American cannot fully comprehend what this emotionally- and politically-charged day means to my fellow Dresdeners, I have still learned so much from their example and I rejoice in the fact that after spending 10 years in Dresden, each February 14th, the “day of love,” holds new meaning and hope because of what I witness each February 13th.

Gott wird dich tragen (God will take care of you)…

Isn’t it strange how a song will strike a chord with you (no pun intended!) for some reason even though you’ve sung it many times before?

We had a pretty small group in our German worship today due to sickness; It was a nice, cozy sort of atmosphere and I was present for the first time in a while, since Randy was home sick with most of the kids and I didn’t teach the children’s class.  We listened to Joel’s first German sermon–of which I was very proud!–and I was reminiscing about a time when I, too, was still very unsure of my relationship with the German language. When I still made funny or not-so-funny unintentional mistakes (which Joel did not do, I should mention!) or just nodded and smiled at something I didn’t understand, while desperately wishing I did. When I suddenly realized I followed an entire conversation and secretly rejoiced on the inside or used a colloquial phrase correctly for the first time. These were very uncertain times in my relationship with the German language and I often went back and forth claiming it as my friend or declaring it my worst enemy all in one day.

Of course, reminiscing about learning German took my mind back over the years to all the memories I’ve made here in Germany and all the ways I’ve tried to get to know the culture and the people–eventually coming to love them in a way I didn’t think possible.

And now we’re leaving.

At least we will be at the end of July and already we are having to make preparations and shift our focus from Germany to the United States. We made our decision fully aware of the consequences both happy and sad and I’m coming more and more to grips with such a dynamic change in our lives. However, lately, I have certainly had feelings of insecurity in our future. We know our deadline for finding another source of income and we know when we will have to have preparations made, but we still don’t know WHAT job or jobs we will have, where we will live or exactly how we will accomplish everything we need to accomplish. At times, it sort of feels as if the bottom has dropped out from under us and we’re only being held up by God’s grace. By His hand. I trust in Him, but at times I feel a little like Peter and feel myself sinking when I let my fears get the best of me. So it is times like these when God sends an encouraging message through a song like this one that reminds me God’s hand is the best and safest place we could be…exactly where we need to be.

(English below)

“Gott wird dich tragen” Satz: Friedrich Hänssler

1)Gott wird dich tragen, drum sei nicht verzagt,
treu ist der Hüter, der über dich wacht.
Stark ist der Arm, der dein Leben gelenkt,
Gott ist ein Gott, der der Seinen gedenkt.

2) Gott wird dich tragen, wenn einsam du gehst;
Gott wird dich hören, wenn weinend du flehst.
Glaub’ es, wie bang dir der Morgen auch graut,
Gott ist ein Gott, dem man kühnlich vertraut.

3) Gott wird dich tragen durch Tage der Not;
Gott wird dir beistehn in Alter und Tod.
Fest steht das Wort, ob auch alles zerstäubt,
Gott ist ein Gott, der in Ewigkeit bleibt.

Refrain:

Gott wird dich tragen mit Händen so lind.
Er hat dich lieb wie ein Vater sein Kind.
Das steht dem Glauben wie Felsen so fest:
Gott ist ein Gott, der uns nimmer verläßt.

English original version written by Fanny J. Crosby

“God Will Take Care Of You”

1) God will take care of you, be not afraid;
He is your safeguard through sunshine and shade;
Tenderly watching and keeping His own,
He will not leave you to wander alone.

2) God will take care of you, through all the day,
Shielding your footsteps, directing your way;
He is your Shepherd, Protector, and Guide,
Leading His children where still waters glide.

3) God will take care of you long as you live,
Granting you blessings no other can give;
He will take care of you when time is past,
Safe to His kingdom will bring you at last.

Refrain:

God will take care of you still to the end;
Oh, what a Father, Redeemer, and Friend!
Jesus will answer whenever you call;
He will take care of you, trust Him for all.

I really liked the German translation of the refrain that we sang today which is quite different than the original English:

“God will carry you with loving hands. He loves you like a father loves a child. There is a faith that stands as firm as a rock: God is a God who will never leave us.”

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