Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Greetings all! It is March 2014. I have to admit that I'm very glad to have 2013 behind me. Really major unexpected losses over the last year, as well as other challenges, made it what I would name as the worst year of my life to date. God has been faithful through it all and has drawn me closer to Him and His heart, but talk about trials and tribulations. Can't say that I'm quite where James would have me be to “consider it pure joy,” but the Lord is growing me into a woman of greater perseverance. He is teaching me to keep my eyes on Him and that which is unseen and eternal. My many flaws often get in the way, but He hasn't given up on me, for which I am tremendously grateful.

German style "bread time" at home in AR
I was able to go home to Arkansas for Christmas break, and it was a blessing I truly needed. It was wonderful to spend time with my family, and I greatly appreciated being able to go through the difficult holiday season with them. We missed John oh so much as we tried to celebrate as best we could. I think we managed pretty well, but it wasn't easy. My grandmother and one of my uncles and his family spent Christmas with us at our house. It was lovely to see them, and they filled the house with chatter and laughter, making the house seem not quite so empty without my brother. While I was in AR I was also able to catch up with some friends and supporters, and even was able to attend the wedding of one of my best friends. I am very grateful for the generosity of those who gave so I could be there for a few weeks. Thank you!

View from my hike on Jan. 25
There were a couple other significant dates that I faced when I returned to Germany in early January. John would have turned 24 on January 25. I thought a lot about how to celebrate and remember him, and ended up deciding that coffee and a hike were in order, seeing as those were two of his favorite things. So I went out for coffee with my co-RA, Tara, and then later went on a hike up to one of our local castle ruins with another RA friend, Jessica. The other date was February 24, the one year marker of John's death. I took a few days off from dorm duties and stayed with a couple in town in order to have some space and privacy. I am grateful for the cooperation from Res Life staff in this. I spent a good portion of the day with my former dorm parents, Steve and Stacey. We watched the videos of John's funeral and talked. When the Storch girls got home from school one of them came into the apartment where I was and gave me a big hug and asked if she could pray for me. What a blessing! I went on a walk into the vineyards as it was a lovely sunny day and spent a while sitting on a bench where I had a view of the Alps and the surrounding hills and villages. It was very beautiful. I just wished that John could be sitting by me enjoying the scenery and talking about life. I miss him so much. I got to talk to my family over Skype on both of those days, and while I am so very grateful for the technology that allows me to see them and talk to them from far away, it is really different from being with them in person. It is difficult to be so far away from family as I continue to grieve. The Lord has been gracious in providing friends here in Germany to be supportive and encouraging, but please pray that He would give me the strength to continue this journey over the next few months so far from home.

Waiting for a train with Emma
There have been some great things happening for our kids here at BFA. Four of my Liel girls played on the varsity basketball team, and they won the DoDDS Division II Basketball Tournament in Wiesbaden! First time in BFA history for the girls to win. So proud of them! We were able to stream the game live at the dorm, so we watched and cheered as they made their way to victory. Soccer try-outs have been happening over the last couple days, and just today we found out that all 3 of our girls that tried out made it onto the varsity team! I love soccer, and I really look forward to seeing them play at their home games. The entire high school also went on a retreat to Nuremburg over this past weekend, where they got to stay in a castle! The castle had been turned into a youth hostel, so they had all the modern amenities. They were pretty excited about it! When the girls came back they told us that it was a great weekend and that the speaker did a good job. They got to spend time with their small groups, which I think they really enjoyed.

One of the things I started doing with some of the girls is reading to them before bed every Thursday night. We are reading “Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast” by Robin McKinley. It's one of my favorites, and I'm loving getting to share it with them. There is a handful of girls that come into my room and curl up on the “couches” as I light some candles, and I set out my store of chocolates and candies for them to munch on as I read (not healthy, I know, but whatevs). It's been fun.

With friends in Barcelona
Coming up in April I will be attending a conference in Turkey during the first week of Spring Break. I'm looking forward to meeting up with other members of our organization that I met at orientation in Minneapolis in 2012, as well as discovering a new country! I was able to take a weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain in February with a few other RA's, and that was fun, too. Loved to see Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral, and speak in Spanish with the locals (even though they predominantly speak Catalan).

I know this is a long post, and I apologize once again for how they are so few and far between. Ever since my brother's passing I've had a much harder time staying on top of things like blog posts. Thanks for your patience and grace. Please be in prayer for me and my dorm staff as we stive to bring glory to the Lord in our working relationships and with the girls. There are definitely some really stressful challenges that we face, so your prayers are much needed and appreciated! I have personally felt the effect of them. So thank you, dear ones! The Lord is working in ways in which we are completely unaware, but sometimes He lets us see hints of what He's doing, and it's wonderful.
Liel Ladies at Christmas Banquet

Isaiah 57:18-19
“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life at Liel Haus

This post is long overdue. There is no way I will be able to share everything from the last 3 months, but I will try to give you a good idea of what life at Liel Haus has been like.

Emma, Ruthy, Me, Esther, and Lea at bowling
As I explained in my previous post, I had to change dorms due to German regulations. The transition and adjustment hasn't been easy, but I can see God's hand upon the process. Firstly, I want to say that I just LOVE my Liel Ladies!! What a precious group of girls. They have been so accepting and welcoming, bringing me into life at Liel with sweet attitudes and kindness. I am so appreciative. I admit that I was worried in the beginning that there would be some uncomfortable feelings about split loyalties between dorms, but I haven't encountered that. I've greatly enjoyed getting to know them all and sharing life with them. I love the times that I get to see my Storchies, too. I've been able to go to Storch a couple times to hang out, and I see them at the school every now and then. I love the hugs. I do miss seeing them every day and hearing about how they are doing, but I'm grateful for the moments that I do have with them. I just have double the love now!

Liel Family at Thanksgiving celebration
Adjusting to a new dorm staff has been harder. I appreciate and enjoy the dorm parents and my co-RA, but it's hard to start over with a new staff, new dorm, new girls, new town, etc. We say in Res. Life that working with your dorm staff is kind of like being in an arranged marriage. You don't have the relationship already built on trust and mutual respect, but you have to get to that point very quickly in order to maintain a loving working home for the students. Sometimes it's harder than others due to personalities, ways of being brought up, convictions, etc. We've had our difficulties, but we've been able to talk through a lot of things and make progress. I believe the Lord is working on all our hearts and teaching us lessons that will be valuable for the rest of our lives, not just for this season in the dorm. We want to be unified in Christ and in our team for ourselves as well as our girls. I know God has asked us all to be here at this time, and we trust that He knows what is best. Please remember us in your prayers that we would build stronger relationships with each other and love each other through our differences. One thing I am very grateful for is that we all love a good laugh! They say laughter is the best medicine...well, it may not be the best, but it sure is a good one! Love the fun times that we share.

A birthday whipped cream pie in the face!
It's now nearing the end of November, and today we are having our first snowfall of the season. This winter has been much slower in coming than last year, something that we are all grateful for! The warmer weather and more days of sunshine help tremendously with life in general. Volleyball season has ended and basketball just started. I had 3 girls on the volleyball teams, and now I have 5 on the basketball teams. Glad that they are able to do something they love, be active, and enjoy being a part of a team. The high school choir is leaving today for a trip to Vienna, where they will be performing at several different venues. I have 4 girls on that trip. Our dorm had a retreat a few weeks ago to a place not too far from here. The town, Titisee, is up in the mountains by a lake. It was really beautiful, but very cold! We walked around the town and looked at the shops, then went to an indoor water park and enjoyed splashing around and going on slides, then had a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was fun to take the girls somewhere out of town and just enjoy one another's company. We have also already celebrated Thanksgiving at the dorm. We had nearly 30 people packed into our living/dining room and fed them turkey, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, stuffing, and 8 pies! It was quite the spread. I was thankful to be surrounded by such lovely people, even though it's always hard to be away from family during the holidays.

Tara & I at a castle in Luxembourg
In terms of schedule things look pretty similar to how they were at Storch. I stay busy with staff meetings, grocery shopping, laundry, and cooking in the mornings, have a little free time before the girls get home, and then spend the rest of the day with them, chatting, eating, helping with homework, watching TV shows, cleaning, etc. During the weekends there are often school events going on, or we plan something fun to do as a dorm. And of course the girls have weekend chores and homework to do. All in all, BFA life is pretty busy for everyone. I think we're all looking forward to Christmas break, just 23 days away! I get to go home this year to spend the holiday with my family (praise Jesus!). It's going to be really good to be with them, but it's also going to be very hard seeing as it's the first Christmas without John. We're already dreading the hardship of it, and experiencing it, too. My heart aches dreadfully with the sorrow, and some days I feel like I just can't handle it. God has been gracious in the pain, and my staff has been understanding of my need to occasionally have some time away to process and grieve. But there is no way around's just hard. So I thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family in this, as well.

Deuteronomy 33:27a

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Unexpected

I don't know how to begin this post, so I will begin by saying I don't know how to begin. That should do the trick.

John's memorial tree with a plaque we made
Since my last post I traveled to the USA and returned to Germany. I spent nearly 8 weeks back in Arkansas with my family. It was a blessed time to be with loved ones and rest. I didn't do a whole lot, but I rested, went camping a couple times, visited with some people, and went to California to go to my cousin's wedding and visit John's grave site. While it may not have been the most eventful summer ever, I feel more prepared to face this year at BFA because of it. And I will never complain about being able to spend time with my family. How precious they are to me.

The school year ended fairly well back in June, and though it was hard to say goodbye to my 3 seniors, I am excited for their future endeavors and all they will learn. Please pray with me as they enter this first year out of high school that they would rely on the Lord's strength and grace to see them through all the transitions and adjustments. When I left Storch for the summer, I felt grateful for the rest, but I was also excited to have my second year back at the dorm with the girls. I had been able to get to know them over the course of the year and was looking forward to building on that. When I came back to Germany almost 2 weeks ago, I was still looking forward to it. I was envisioning how our team would work to improve our partnership and make the dorm feel even more like home, how I would strive to deepen relationships with the girls, and how it would be to see them through another year at BFA. But if there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that the unexpected has a way of showing its face where you least expect it. Go figure.

Liel Dorm, in the town of Liel
A couple days after returning to Germany, our dorm staff was called into a meeting with our Residence Life supervisors, who explained to us that the German Youth Authority has regulations regarding the degrees held by Res Life dorm staff. They require that one staff member per every 12 students holds a Bachelor's Degree in either Social Work, Education, or Psychology. They were willing to overlook the exact ratio as long as there was at least one person in the dorm who had one of those degrees. Unfortunately, Storchenblick was the only dorm that had zero staff with such a degree. My co-RA, Callie, has made a commitment to stay at BFA for a total of 3 years, while my commitment stands at 2, so our administration decided it would be best if I were to be the one to go in order to maintain as much consistency for our girls as possible. This makes sense. It was also very hard to hear. And it came as a complete shock. We tried to appeal to the government by arguing that my degree (Intercultural Studies) could qualify me to work in certain areas of Social Work, and also by providing evidence that I was employed in the field of education for the 3 years prior to coming to BFA. This wasn't sufficient, however, so I am now no longer a part of the Storch dorm staff. I was able to give my supervisors my preference for where I would be placed, and now find myself an RA at Liel dorm, a girl's dorm with 13 high schoolers.

New Liel dorm staff!
While I am grieved and disappointed over the unexpected loss of my life at Storch, I am looking forward to getting to know the Liel girls and loving on them this year. The dorm parents here, Mike and Sabina Tackett, are new as well. They have two precious little boys, and I'm sure the girls will love to have them here! My co-RA is Tara Ritzenthaler. She is a huge blessing to me in all of this because over the last year we have developed a wonderful friendship. I am happy to be able to serve with her and the Tacketts here at Liel. It is currently and will continue to be a significant change and adjustment for me. I am going through yet another process of grief as I make this transition, but at the same time I am certain that God still wants me here to serve as an RA this year, and apparently He wants me at Liel. So I wait in anticipation to see what plans He has in store for us as a dorm this year.

Please remember me in your prayers. I find myself very tired of all the loss that I've experienced in the last 6 months. One of my former students from when I worked in Arkansas passed away this spring, and while I was home this summer one of my friends from college took her own life. This is the same friend I mentioned in my last post who encouraged me after John's passing by telling me that the unseen is more real than the seen. I don't know why the Lord is allowing me to go through this time of testing and stretching, but pray that it is a process of refinement, that He would be bringing forth the gold and removing the impurities. I don't like being on the anvil, but if this is what it takes to get me where He wants me, then so be it. But please pray for extra strength and grace, especially during this period of transition for me. My stress levels and emotions are pretty heightened, which doesn't make it any easier. Thank you for your support in this.

Tara and I on dorm staff outing to Colmar, France
I also ask that you would pray for Storch as they transition with getting a new RA, a few new girls, and losing the ones that graduated. Pray that I would be able to maintain my relationships with them even though it will look different now. Pray for Liel as we build our new team and prepare to welcome our girls. Pray that the girls would be ready to come back and open to forming new relationships with dorm staff. This is a very transient community that we live in at BFA, and it's not easy to have people come and go constantly in one's life. I know these are a lot of things to remember, but know that I am so very grateful for this team of prayer warriors, encouragers, and supporters that God has put together for this journey. You are loved.

A passage of Scripture that the Lord gave to me during my time of waiting on the decision of my dorm placement comes from Psalms. I was feeling very anxious about it all, and needed this reminder that God alone is my constant, my hope, my salvation. I think this will become a theme verse for the year/for forever.

Psalm 62: 5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll

This is a very difficult post for me to write. I've been putting it off for a long time. In the last one I wrote, I talked about how looking into the new year full of possibilities was scary but exciting. Little did I realize that the hardest experience of my life to date would occur just weeks later.

John. What a beautiful smile he had.
On February 24, at about noon in California, my little brother, John Clifford Peters, went to be with the Lord after his heart stopped suddenly while he was at work. He was just barely 23 years old. He had no previous signs of heart trouble, and the doctors couldn't figure out what had happened. Nothing they tried helped, and after about 13 hours there was nothing left to do. My parents and my brother Caleb mercifully made it to the hospital the hour that he died and were able to say their goodbyes. My sister Hannah had stayed back in Arkansas to hold the fort down. When they had flown out they weren't aware that the situation was quite as serious as it was, so she didn't know to go. I, of course, was halfway across the world in Germany. The distance has never felt so incredibly far and unbearable. Every time the phone rang my stomach would sink and I would drag myself over to answer. I am so thankful for Steve, Stacey, and Callie, my fellow dorm staff, who were there supporting me literally and figuratively during such a dark hour. With the time difference, I was getting the news in the evening on that Sunday, and Stacey had a ticket booked for me by 11pm that night for the next morning. God was gracious in providing a low-cost ticket with only one layover so that I arrived in Los Angeles on Monday at about noon. The joy of seeing the rest of my family was severely diminished due to the circumstances, but I cherished my time with them and needed to be with them. Residence Life at BFA was very understanding and gave no complaints about me being away for 5 weeks.

Seriously handsome kid. Love this picture.
The support, sympathy, and prayers of so many people around the world has been very touching over the last few months. During that first week we were overwhelmed by the generosity of John's coworkers and friends as they put on a memorial benefit at the cafe where he worked to raise money to cover funeral costs and medical expenses. It was amazing to hear all the stories of how John, our little John-John, had been impacting so many lives through his love, kindness, and gentle spirit. I didn't realize that he was reaching so many people for Christ. I'm so proud of him. The funeral service was another expression of the love that people have for him. About 200 people showed up for the viewing and graveside service, and most everyone wrote a note to John on his casket with a Sharpie marker (John always carried a Sharpie in his pocket). His gravesite is on a hillside looking out towards the mountains, ones that he loved to hike and admire. I like to imagine him hiking the most amazing mountains ever with Jesus right now.

Our family in 2003.
There is no way to express the shock at John's sudden passing, or the pain that cuts to my very core. I thought that I had experienced some heartbreak before, but nothing that I've experienced comes close to this. Yes, I have hope in the salvation of Jesus and that I will see John again one day, but it is so hard in the meantime. It is difficult to keep our eyes on the eternal and not the temporal, the unseen rather than the seen. A friend wrote to me and told me that the unseen is more real than the seen. The world we live in is merely a shadow of what's to come, and it will be glorious indeed! But as I said, the waiting, the loss, the pain, the's still real, and we still feel it keenly. My sister is also going through a different and yet extremely painful grief on top of losing our brother. In March, she and her husband of 6 1/2 years finalized their divorce. I won't go into any details, but suffice it to say that she has her double measure of sorrow. My brother Caleb is 12, and the loss of his only brother has taken it's toll on him. My parents, Cliff and Jeannie, are still trying to understand the idea that they've lost a son, and the pain goes deep. John also left behind his girlfriend of nearly 4 years, Alicia, and she is facing a very different life and future than she had envisioned. Please continue to be in prayer for us all as the losses that we are experiencing are still settling into our hearts and minds. Pray that we would remain faithful and grateful to the Lord, trusting in His goodness and sovereignty.

Storchenblick Dorm
It has been so difficult to be away from my family during these most trying of times, but I know the Lord wanted me to come to BFA to serve, so here I am. I will be returning to the States for the summer on June 18th, but plan on coming back for another year to serve as an RA at Storch. Today was the last day of final exams for our students, we did dorm cleaning yesterday, and graduation is on Friday. I kind of feel like I've been in survival mode for most of the time that I've been back, but there have definitely been precious moments and memories with the girls, staff, and friends. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here, and it was so much easier to leave family knowing that I would be coming back to the people here. I am looking forward to summer break, to being with family again, but I'm also looking forward to next school year. Pray that the time back home would be a time to grieve, remember, rest, and be rejuvenated before returning to BFA in August. Thank you to all who have been so supportive and faithful in your prayers.

Precious photo of my precious brothers.
Here is a passage of Scripture that I realized has come up several times over the last 10 months, but especially more recently, in people's notes to me and in my devotions. Specifically verse 10.

Isaiah 41:8-10
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Numero Uno

First post of 2013!! Just barely squeaking this in before January is over! How has the new year been treating you so far? I hope well! I've never been one to make New Years resolutions, but I always love the idea of a whole new year with so many new experiences and roads to travel. You never know what the future will hold, and while that can be scary, it is also exciting! So here's to a new year full of adventure and growth!

At the Baths
I have really been loving this new semester so far. And it all has to do with the girls. It's funny to look back to September when they were first arriving, and compare it to their arrival back at Storch in January from Christmas break. Very different experiences! It was awesome to meet them for the first time, but it's more awesome to have them come back and be excited to see you again! I loved the squealing, the hugs, the laughter, and the stories. Now that we've laid a bit of a foundation for our relationships in the first half of the year, we're ready to continue building on that. There haven't necessarily been any crazy breakthroughs yet, but just the fact that we're more comfortable with each other makes it easier to have conversation and share our thoughts and feelings. Obviously each person is different, and my relationship with each person is different, but I'm just so excited to know these girls on a deeper level. We as a staff are planning ways to spend more intentional one-on-one time with the girls, and I'll be having an ice cream date in my room on Thursday with one of the seniors. :) Please pray with me that the Lord will have His hand on these relationships, and that He would guide me and the other staff in how to approach each girl in a way that they would feel especially loved and important. We want them to know their individual value as well as our value as a “family.”

We've already had some pretty fun things going on in the last few weeks (as well as exams...ugh). We took a trip to the baths one evening, and enjoyed swimming around in the warm mineral water while outside in freezing weather. Stacey brought her underwater camera with her, so we had a grand time taking loads of ridiculous pictures! Another fun thing we did one day was play Zombie Tag in the dorm. We bought nerf guns at the Euro store, turned off all the lights in the dorm, and had a crazy game of zombies chasing gun wielding civilians haha. They totally loved it! And some people think girls don't do things like that... :P Another thing that the girls have really been enjoying (as well as Callie and I) is the new PlayStation that the Babiches bought for the dorm. We have a bunch of dancing games that go with it, and most days the girls go out in the living room and dance away. Great laughs, as well as exercise!

Birthday banners outside my room
So my birthday was two weeks ago, and let me just say that it went way beyond my expectations! I think the Lord knew I needed a boost since I was away from home during all the holidays, so He provided some great encouragement from friends here. Callie, my fellow RA, let me sleep in for an extra hour and took over my breakfast duties, put banners up in the hallway, and had the girls write notes for me to hang in my room (the notes were SO precious by the way...melt my heart!). I had small group that afternoon, and one of the gals made me a funfetti birthday cake, another made Sopa de Mani (peanut soup from Bolivia!! So awesome!), another made jelly filled croissants, and our group leader made super yummy baked brie with brown sugar and walnuts. YUMMO! I got two bouquets of flowers, gifts from home, homemade cupcakes from a friend, a very loud “Happy Birthday” song from my girls, a short call home, and tons of well wishes from all over the place! Oh, and get this...on the way out the door in the morning one of my freshman got down on one knee, kissed my hand, and called me “Your Excellency”...haha!What a blessed day! So a big thank you to the many people who helped make my day special!

I would like to ask for prayer for good health. Colds and flus have been going around, and several are sick with colds at Storch, including myself. It just makes life so much harder when you can't breathe well and don't have much energy. We also have been without a stove for the last 6 broke and maintenance had to order new ones. They're supposed to be installed in the morning, so just pray that there are no complications with that! God is good and He's been carrying us through the slumps by His grace.

Dressed like Steve for "Twin Day"...or quadruplets ;)
When the new year rolled around, I started reading the devotional book entitled “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. If you haven't heard of it before, each reading is written from the perspective of Jesus in the first person, and He is speaking to the reader. The main themes are living in the presence and peace of Jesus in very real ways. The Lord has been teaching me more and more about what it really means to live with Him and how to focus on Him. One thing I would like to do is start practicing more spiritual disciplines. I would appreciate some helpful reading material on this, so if you have any suggestions, let me know! I read “Streams of Living Water” when I was in college, and that had some great insights, but someone might have another book to recommend. Thanks guys :)

Matthew 28:20b
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Friday, December 28, 2012

Frohe Weinachten!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Watching Steve carve the turducken!
Has 2012 flown by for you like it has for me? I know I say a lot how time just gets away from me, but it's true! I can hardly believe that in just a couple days it will be 2013. I hope you all have been having a wonderful holiday season with loved ones. My first Christmas away from home wasn't as depressing as I thought it might be, but it also didn't feel a whole lot like Christmas to me. There were definitely some good moments, though. The Christmas parties with the girls were fun. We put together a couple stockings for them, made lots of yummy goodies, and did fun Christmasy activities with them. We had a Secret Santa gift exchange, and I love the hand-decorated candles that Mimi gave me! Love seeing the talent in this dorm. Another great thing was hosting a Christmas Eve dinner here at Storch. Callie went home for the holiday, but Steve, Stacey, and I had about 13 people over for a big meal. I didn't want other people (specifically singles) to be alone cause I know that's rough, so it was a real joy to share the evening with them. Steve made a turducken, which was pretty awesome! We watched White Christmas and shared laughs. A couple other RA's spent the night at Storch, and in the morning I made an oven omelette and Dutch Apple Bread, a tradition in the Peters household. We opened stockings and gifts, then headed over to another dorm, Liel, where the dorm parents and RA were hosting another great meal for us “orphans.” In the evening I got a chance to Skype with my family for about an hour, which was great. So while it was not the same as being with them, the Lord still provided lots of good friends to share the holiday with me.

Storch sign-out board
Our girls are currently all over the world, from the USA to Russia to Korea to Jordan and lots of places in between. They were excited to go home and see family and take a break. We were excited for them! It can't be easy to be away from parents and siblings for a whole semester at a time. We do our best to provide them with a great home away from home and love them dearly, but it's not the same. It is interesting, though, to think about what we are really doing. It is such a privilege and huge responsibility that we've been given to help raise these girls. For one reason or another the Lord brought these girls to us, and their parents have decided to share the responsibility of bringing them up with us. I'm sure you all have differing views on boarding school, but for some people this is their best option, and I've seen some wonderful growth among the girls over just one semester here. There have been bumps in the road, too, but it's a joy and honor to walk with these girls through high school and all that entails. I went and saw “The Hobbit” the other day (great movie, by the way!), and on the way home I was talking to my friend about what his favorite parts were. There is one part where the Dwarves question Bilbo Baggins as to why he went along with them and left his home to help them in their quest to take back their realm. Bilbo says that he misses his home, that he thinks about it often, and that the Shire is where he belongs, but that that's why he is with them, to help them find the home that had been taken away from them. My friend says that he relates to Bilbo because that's kind of what we do here at the dorms. We leave our homes to help these kids have a home. There are sacrifices (like not going home for Christmas) but it's quite rewarding.

Dorm Christmas Party...fooood!!
This building is much too empty right was meant to be full of life, but
right now it's just me. I miss my gals! I AM grateful for all the rest that I've been able to get. I've enjoyed reading, watching movies, spending time with friends, and seeing some of the wonderful areas around here. For New Year I will be going to nearby Switzerland to stay with a friend for a few days. We'll be joining in the festivities in Basel to bring in the New Year. I'm quite excited about it! I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed to be missing out on the fireworks in Kandern, though. Apparently it's like a madhouse at the Blumenplatz in town, everyone setting off fireworks at the same time! Maybe next year I'll get to have that cultural experience. In the meantime I'll enjoy the more orderly setting off of fireworks in Basel. :) 

Rochelle's Birthday Party
On another note, I'm quite excited about the new year for all of the relationship building that it will bring. This last semester has been good, but a lot of time has been spent just getting accustomed to the routine and how everything works around here. It's been the same for a lot of our girls since more than half of them were new this year. So I'm looking forward to being able to focus even more on relationships and spending one-on-one time with the girls in this next semester. Please pray that the Lord will give wisdom in this and fill me with lots of grace and love. Sometimes the tasks become overwhelming and I get tired, and then it's tempting to not put in the extra effort to build those relationships, but that's what I'm here for after all. I definitely feel like this is where I'm supposed to be, that the Lord called me here, and I know He is faithful to those He calls. I'm grateful for His continued presence in my life, for the way He has poured out blessings upon me, and for how He has asked me to join in the work He is doing here. Thank YOU for joining in as well! May you know the grace and peace of God as you anticipate the coming of a new year and reflect on all He has done.

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give Me Jesus

Me, Mary, Stacey, Rochelle, Carissa, and Callie
Have you ever heard that song that goes, “You can have all this world but give me Jesus”? I really like Fernando Ortega's version. I recommend giving it a listen if you haven't already. And if you have, I recommend listening again, because it's good. This is something that God has been revealing to me over the last couple there really is nothing I have, no relationships, no stuff, no reputation, nothing that compares to Jesus. And if all those things were stripped away, would Jesus be enough for me? I was sitting in a local coffee shop, Heitzmann, on a day off a while back and as I sat there and pondered this, in that moment I felt entirely secure in the idea. I didn't feel particularly emotional about it, but I envisioned myself in a completely bare room. There weren't any doors, windows, lights, furnishings, nothing. Just me and the knowledge that Jesus was enough. I'll admit that the idea of losing everything is certainly not a pleasant one. We know what a struggle it was for Job to go through that tragic time in his life. But if the world were taken away, could I answer, “Just give me Jesus”? I hope and pray so. The holiday season is coming on in full force, and being away from my family is not easy. I'm sure I will cry on Christmas, and perhaps other times as well. But I'm challenged to really ponder where I place my hope and joy. Is it my family, traditions, being comfortable, etc? Or is it my Lord and Savior? As I write this I am reminded of my Discipleship & Evangelism professor who strongly emphasized that in the Christian life we can't ignore any of the three Persons of God, so I don't want to neglect mentioning how all-important GOD is; Jesus, Holy Spirit, & Father. Can't have one without the others. I just wanted to share some of what's been on my heart lately.

Thanksgiving at Storch Dorm!
Since I mentioned holidays, I'll go ahead and tell you about our Dorm Thanksgiving. We celebrated American Thanksgiving last Thursday (a week early mostly due to Christmas Banquet being on this upcoming Saturday) in the dorms, and it was a great time! We were blessed to have turkey provided for us, but the rest was up to us and our dorm subs! At Storch we had mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (a real treat seeing as sweet potatoes are hard to come by and expensive!), stuffing, jello salad, green salad, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, mac & cheese, crescent rolls, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. It was quite the feast! Lots of work in the kitchen, but worth it :) It was great to see the girls get so excited about it, and to be able to share this tradition with people that represent many different cultures. There is so much to be thankful for!

Mimi's Cathartic & Clothed Cuddling Club...hahaha
Yesterday the dorms all went to Basel, Switzerland (~30 mins from here) to go ice skating. It was a blast! I think it's awesome that Residence Life is able to host this type of event for our kids. Thank you to everyone who helps make it possible! Can't say that I'm much of an ice skater...been 3 times total now...but it was fun! I never fell, which is amazing really, although at one point I thought I was going to get body checked by Wayne Gretzky (yes, that is the only name in hockey that I know). Fortunately, little Wayno was a much better skater than I and veered off at the last possible second. Whew.

Would you like a spot of tea?
Remember how I said that November is sort of notorious around here as being the horrible, no good, very bad month? Well, so far it's not been half bad! And it's half over! Thanks for your prayers! We've been thinking of things to do with the girls to help lighten things up during the week, so a week or two ago I hosted a tea party in our dining room. It was pretty fun. They had to either wear a dress or a hat in order to attend, and we giggled over our British accents and lifted pinkies. I really love doing that sort of thing, so I was glad to have the opportunity to share it with my gals! There are just 4 weeks left until Christmas break, so please keep us all in your prayers as we anticipate the vacation time. Pray that the girls would be able to finish the semester strong, that they would get enough rest, and that they can keep their eyes on the Lord in the midst of everything. Thanks, friends.

John 11:25-26
“Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'”