(How would you feel about moving your family in with the tribe that had brutally murdered your father?)
(How would you feel about moving your family in with the tribe that had brutally murdered your father?)
Nights Gone in March: 22
Books Read in March: 8
The A to Z Challenge starts in April and I kick off with the word Attitude. Getting to be in the background taking pictures when my wonderful friend, Sarah, gets proposed to was well-worth the trip to Asia and a highlight of my year (of course!). Finding out a few days later that she wanted me to be in her wedding party was incredible.
A few days later we hike up the same mountain we tackled in March, this time in the middle of the night. Our plans to arrive at the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunrise were messed up by dense fog hiding the view, but it was still a wonderful experience, ending with two more of my friends getting engaged.
My brother and I arrive home on the 16th after over 55 hours of traveling. With all the time changes, April 15th lasted for over 30 hours for me which was really weird. My phone stopped working about half-way through our stay in Asia, so getting it fixed when we arrived home was wonderful. After a busy 8 days home, my family and I head to Europe for a month.
We spend a week in Vienna, Austria at a business convention.
I don’t take the time to review April. Life is just too crazy.
Nights Gone in April: 22
Books Read in April: 6
Getting to explore so many countries was spectacular. After Vienna, Austria, (where we got go to into catacombs!) we go to a more rural part of the country and get to see where part of The Sound of Music was filmed. We head to Germany next but take a very long detour to Switzerland and spend the day taking in the beautiful view. I’ve wanted to go to Switzerland since I was just a little girl and I throughly caved each moment of sitting in a wide, flower-strewn field under the breath-taking heights of the Swiss Alps into my memory bank.
In Germany we get to experience the culture for a few days while staying in an apartment where we try our hand at cooking German-ish food. Exploring castles in Germany was a absolutely amazing. Especially going to Heidelberg.
Holland was our next stop and a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to go to Holland and see the Beje (where Corrie ten Boom lived) since I was about eight. Reading part of The Hiding Place while in the actual hiding place was something I’ll always treasure. Seeing the Beje and the place where Anne Frank lived on the same day was crazy. Hanging out with our friends in Holland made the trip so much better and our day trip to Belgium with them on the 9th was a whirlwind.
On the 12th we head to Paris and I’m amazed at it. After a few very interesting days in Paris (including going to the top of the Eiffel Tower) we take the Euro Star across the countryside and through the Chunnel to London. London was a beautiful, friendly and filled with places I’ve read about. London was one of my favorite cities in Europe. After too-short of a stay in London we meet up with some of our friends who have lived in England for 45 or so years. They treated us like royalty when we were at their house, including delicious meals in the garden. It was dream-like.
While in England we visited Oxford and I got to go into the Eagle and Child, which is where C.S. Lewis used to hang out with his writing friends. On the 22nd we pack up and head home. A couple of days after we get home we have some friends come and visit. Our time together is lovely.
Nights Gone in May: 21
Books Read in May: 10
Having almost the whole month of June home was a much-needed breather. I spent a lot of the month working with my family on moving to our new house that we’d been building and also discussing plans for Sarah’s upcoming wedding. Midway through the month I celebrate my book’s first birthday. On Father’s Day I surprise my adopted dad by staying with my adopted family and having a totally fantastic time.
I also take time to work on another round of editing. During this time I begin to have discouraging feelings about being a writer that I’ve never had before. I have to make the choice to trust God instead of continuing to freak out. A conversation with a wise friend really helped me during this time.
We move into our new house on June 24th. Deciding an office is way more useful for me than a bedroom, I ditch the whole bedroom idea and create the perfect office for myself. I just pull a sleeping bag out of the closet each night and sleep on my office floor. My office is everything I dreamed of and more. I can’t stop being amazed at how wonderful it is.
Nights Gone in June: 1
Books Read in June: 5
July starts out with exciting news: One of my adopted dad’s songs hit number 11 in the national charts! Helping out with the VBS at church was one of my highlights of the month.
Getting to work with kids is so rewarding!
The second week of July I head out of town with a few family members to visit my sister and her family. I also spend a large amount of time planning a bridal shower for Sarah. July is a month brimming with so many responsibilities and emotions I can hardly keep track. There are some really big things in my life that are changing and I’m not sure how to deal with everything. Being thrown out of routine is hard for me and I struggle with finding peace and joy with being where I’m supposed to be. An encouraging note from a special friend came just at the perfect time and warmed my heart. Five months later I still carry the note around in my computer bag.
Spending several days with extended family is a highlight and we have a really wonderful time. Sadly I’m not feeling the best which puts a damper on the time for me, but I still enjoy it. One of the cousins is getting married so we spend a good amount of time talking about that, including phone calls on speakerphone to his fiancée. Good times.
A few days after our family get-together I head to PA to spend a few days with Sarah and work with a wonderful friend to get my dress made for Sarah’s wedding. My day is brightened by the news that I have a brand new, beautiful niece. I end out the month with finishing setting up my new office, I celebrate by taking some pictures. It was a good ending to a hard, crazy, wonderful month.
Nights Gone in July: 10
Books Read in July: 9
The first week of August rolls around along with Sarah’s bridal shower. The bridal shower didn’t exactly happen without any snags, but I did learn a lot that I’ll put into practice if I ever host another similar event. Overall everyone agreed it was a success. The next week I head out of state for a wedding and I’m shocked to meet a girl who reads my blog while in the food line at the reception.
On the 18th I hit my goal of read 22 non-ficiton books before I turn 22 and I celebrate by sharing a list of the books with Noveltea. Getting the contract signed for the Cool Critters of the Ice Age book that I wrote with my adopted parents back in January was great.
I drop my iPhone and it breaks into three pieces and is only held together by a little thread. I tape it and keep using it, discovering a mixture of tricks to do what I need to even when it begins malfunctioning.
Sarah’s wedding was on the 23rd and I’m blessed beyond belief to have been her maid-of-honor.
The days before and after her wedding are crammed full of tons of out of state guests who came in for the wedding, including some of my most amazing friends ever. At the beginning of the time I prayed that each day would seem like a week so I could store and treasure all the memories I wanted to have. I’m very happy to say it was one of the longest weeks of my life.
(And, one of the shortest, if we’re going according to how many hours of sleep I got.)
So much happiness, emotions, changes, sunset-watching, caring, tears, dreams come true, long hugs and good talks took place.
I end August by going on an overnight caving adventure with my adopted parents. Fun times!
Nights Gone in August: 5
Books Read in August: 10
I arrive home from caving to the delighted welcome of a bunch of little cousins who have moved in next door but spend most of there time over at our house. (Yes, the same amazing ones who I mentioned at the beginning of the year.) When the founder of one of my favorite blogs asks me to guest post, I’m ecstatic. We also have some great friends spend several days with us, a life-changing visit.
Getting to spend a week at the Creation Museum (where I get to meet the Duggar family) with my adopted parents is wonderful and my excitement is overflowing when they buy me a rat for my birthday. The fact that they also give me a genuine whip (I’ve been wanting one for several years now) adds greatly to my delight. Being sick with a horrible cold during my stay with them is a bummer, but I still enjoy my time. I arrive home three days before my 22nd birthday, and then wake up on my birthday with pinkeye. Not fun at all. Thankfully we’re able to get medicine and no one else in the family gets sick. My birthday is brightened considerably by the exciting news that I have another niece or nephew on the way. The perfect birthday present.
All throughout September I’m dealing with a lot of changes going on in my life and I’m having a hard time being ok with some of them. I spend many nights praying, reading and snuggling in my sleeping bag trying to comprehend life and growing up and difficulties and changes. It actually takes me about two months and lots of late-night talks with God and heart-to-heart discussions with my sweet sister and a couple of great conversations with good friends before I finally find peace and accept that life is going to be full of changes and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Nights Gone in September: 7
Books Read in September: 7
October starts out with a crazy writing-related list for me to work on. The plan is for me to dedicate the whole month to work on my up coming Action Kid book release. Going to a concert with some of my sisters and cousins was fun break, but not exactly what I was imagining.
When my good friend and neighbor, “Grandpa” Eddie dies, it’s harder on me than I expected it to be, but I’m so thankful for the years I knew him. In the middle of my extremely busy month getting ready for the book release, I head off on an last minute trip to my sister’s house for a week (with pretty much zero internet) to help her out cause she hadn’t been feeling the best. While there I’m amazed time and time again at all the work mothers do. I also get a call from Helena (another sister) asking me if I want to go on a road trip to Nebraska with her in some friends in November, then we’ll fly home. (Our friends live in Nebraska.) Of course I happily accept since 1) Road trips are awesome. 2) Sibling time is amazing. 3) Some of my best friends live out in Nebraska. It was a win-win situation. The last day I spend with my sister I get to see a bunch of hot air balloons which was crazy-cool.
October also marks the start of my “23 Before 23 Challenge”.
On October 27th I begin the two week countdown until the release of my Action Kids book. My furious paced work on the book release details continue. I self-published the book and we ran into a few snags with the formatting that gave me several days of craziness. My brother, Logan, is a huge, huge help to me during this time. I couldn’t have pulled it off without him. He’s an amazing example of being a servant. I read an extra few books during the late nights when I can’t sleep because I’m mildly freaking out about Action Kids.
October in review.
Nights Gone in October: 6
Books Read in October: 13
My stressed out, jumbled emotions are totally unexpected and only heighten as November comes into focus. It took me two or so weeks to remember that I felt the same way leading up to the release day of my first book. I have everything (other than runaway-emontions) under control with the book release now, so I can focus on some big events going on at my non-writing job. When I’m not working I’m pretty much curled up in my room, freaking out or reading books late into the night cause I can’t sleep or listening to the Bible on audio to escape the stress. (I read ten books in the nine days leading up to the release.) Mom endures several sessions of me freaking out and asking what is wrong before I finally calm down a bit.
The day of my book release and the launch of my blog tour finally take place and leave me feeling rather let down. I spend several days musing over being an author, wondering if it’s worth every thing I’d been going through. (I’d been working on the Action Kids concept for over four years by this time.) It will take me several more weeks and some really good talks with wise artist friends before I can accept how I felt I failed and move on and have joy in being an author again.
My phone gives up the ghost for good and I miss having my iPhone kindle and music a lot.
Meanwhile, we have some friends visiting and also family coming in for an early Thanksgiving. Our family Thanksgiving takes place on the 15th and the news that I have yet another niece or nephew on the way is the highlight of the week.
On the 21st some of us head to Nebraska, and after about nineteen hours we arrive at our destination. Those nine days were life-changing for me. I was able to let go of the stress of being an author and just enjoy living life as a person, not a writer. I was almost constantly surrounded by sweet children and wonderful friends who were loving and made me feel so special. I had a very healing talk with Helena that helped me overcome some things I’d been going through all year long and change my mindset about some big things happening in my life.
I also had some epic writing related conversations with friends out there that helped me see life/writing in the right perspective again. Right before we head back home, Helena and I receive the news that our long anticipated trip to Africa that had been post-poned is back in motion!
I arrive back home the last day in November.
November in review.
Nights Gone in November: 9
Books read in November: 15
Soon after getting home I read my 100th book for the year. My goal was 50, so I’m pretty excited. December if filled with extra-long hours at my non-writing job, good family time, preparation for my upcoming trip to Africa (leaving Jan. 10th, 2015, Lord willing), lots of editing and reading. I also get to go to the Creation Museum twice: Once with my family for the day, and then the next weekend with some friends and I end up staying with my adopted parents for several days. It was wonderful.
A quick trip out of state with some extend family turns into a great memory-making couple of days and when we arrive home late on Christmas Eve, I’m ready for Christmas.
Christmas and the days surrounding it are filled to brimming with family, board games and fun. The day after Christmas I start on a five day juice cleanse. It’s a good (exhausting) experience and I hope to do it again some day when I can continue for longer.
The last several days of December are spent reviewing the year, working on goals for the next year, deep-cleaning my office, getting work done and getting a yellow fever shot before Africa. We also have tons of family and friends over for multiple game nights and hanging out times.
I have a delightful time finally eating again on December 31st.
December in review.
Nights Gone in December: 3
Books read in December: 24
* * * *
Nights gone in 2014: 133
Books read in 2014: 121
I am so ready for a totally wonderfully God-blessed 2015!
We got to go to the Beje see here and here and then proceeded to drive to Amsterdam where we succeeded in getting extremely lost and separated and quite freaked out (Amsterdam isn’t the best place to get lost…). The wind was the strongest I’ve felt it in a long time and we stood outside, clutching our jackets to us for over an hour while waiting so we could tour the building where Anne Frank and seven other people hid during WW2. Touring the Anne Frank building was very sobering and made me wish everyone studied history and learned from it.
Holland was a mixture of friends, driving, grayness, reading, dreams come true, cookies, walking, rain, good food, lots of memories and late nights.
What about you? Have you ever been to Holland? Have you ever wanted to go?
|I sat on the windowsill and had this view of the street below|
|They went in feet first, most of the time.|
Last night, I dreamed about being in the hiding place, and in my dream, there wasn’t the hole knocked in the wall. My overwhelming feeling in my dream was how dark and claustrophobic it was. I had climbed into the space, planning on closing the trap door, but then freaked out and had to climb back out. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in there for several days with five other people.
|The narrow street the Beje’s windows look out at. The Beje is the building on the right.|
For those of you who don’t know who the Ten Boom family is, I’ll give you a quick overview:
The Ten Boom family lived in Holland in the town of Harlem, in a narrow house over a watch shop that had been in their family for several generations. During WW2, Corrie ten Boom, who was in her 50’s at the time and a watchmaker herself, became very involved in the underground work. At this time she lived in the Beje (their nickname for the house, pronounced bay-yea) with her father, and older sister, Betsie (I actually have a sister who was named after Betsie ten Boom). Their house was a kinda in-between house where Jews would stop on their way to some safer place. Eventually though, they had a group of Jews that stayed with them because they didn’t have anywhere else to go.
One day the Ten Booms were betrayed by a fellow Dutchman and the Beje was raided. the family was taken to prison and eventually to concentration camps. Thankfully, they had built a hiding place and the Jews and some underground workers were able to hide there (more about this tomorrow).
After the war, Corrie traveled all over the world, sharing about God’s love and forgiveness. She even went as far as to turn the Beje into a home where Dutchmen who had betrayed their fellow countrymen and turned them in to the Nazis could come and stay. She also found out who it was who had betrayed them and wrote to him when he was sitting in prison, about to be killed for his war crimes. She told him what he had done to her family and how she forgave him and then she told him about Jesus’s love.
We left our cars quite a ways from the Beje, and were walking all over Harlem, trying to find the house. I hadn’t realized we were so close to the Beje, until someone said “There it is!” And I realized I was standing just across the street from this history and loved filled building. I had been recalling and telling stories to my younger brother about the Ten Boom family during our car ride to Harlem, and it felt so amazing to be standing on the very street corner where these accounts had taken place. The watch shop is a jewelry shop now and they had watches displayed in the windows, which made it feel almost as if time hadn’t really passed. It was a marvlous experience.
When we first went in, we were in the dinning room, and my first impression was “Wow, this is so small!” How they able to fit so many people in there, I have no clue. I remember how Corrie often mentioned how crowded the table would be when everyone was gathered around, but I hadn’t realized just how crowded it really was. There were so many of us in the room I didn’t get many good pictures, and then after we left the room, they said we weren’t supposed to take pictures, so sadly I don’t have many.
I was standing there, looking at the table, then I looked out the window and I saw how we were about nine feet up from the street, and that’s when I was suddenly like “OH MY GOODNESS!” Because I could very clearly see in my mind the scene where they were sitting around their table with all their Jews and suddenly they saw someone’s head right outside their window and they kinda freaked out since generally people couldn’t see in the window and hence it being safe for them to have the Jews eat with them. Right away they had begun singing happy birthday and acting like they were having a party so the person wouldn’t think anything unusual about so many people being there, then they realized that why he was so tall is because he was on a ladder, cleaning the windows. It turns out he had gotten the address confused and was cleaning the wrong windows, but they were still scared for a while that he was really spying on them.
I can’t describe how it felt to remember that part of the book while standing in the very room it took place in. I wished I could have just spent all day, or all week, walking around the house, reading the books and imaging them taking place there.
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Check back tomorrow for the next part of my trip to the Beje! And don’t forget to get more entries for our European postcard-tour giveaway! As always, when you share about the giveaways it really helps me! Thanks so much for passing the word along, y’all are great!