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.”