11.19.2008

My Weekend in Koeln



This weekend I went on a road trip to Koeln with Adena, Jorma, and Jan. We stayed at Jan's parents place and had such a great time. His mom is the best hostess and is so warm and inviting. Along with sight-seeing, we hung out with his family and sat and told stories, made fun of each other, and just had a great time.

In my slide show there are pictures from the Koelner Dom and the area around the train station, and the Lindt Chocholate Museum! Loved going there! Did you know that chocolate is completely healthy for you--dark chocolate that is. As I was reading the articles along the walls in the museum, I was so happy because it confirmed everything I knew about the benefits of chocolate. I made brownies yesterday in celebration of this fact. Do you think the two cups of sugar and 2/3 cup of oil are also healthy? I choose ignorance in favor of the moist, gooey brownies that I can't stop eating!

11.12.2008

I feel so free today! I feel like God has lifted this huge weight off of me and has opened my heart up. I asked him for a new soul, new spirit, to be refreshed and made new. That He has done. Everything that has happened over the last week and a half put me in such a vulnerable position that I immediately reverted back to old coping mechanisms and patterns of relating to people. Simply put, I put up walls to everyone because I felt vulnerable, like anyone could break me and I didn’t want to be broken—I don’t want to be powerless.

So of course I was angry and irritated. I push people away with my anger wanting people to back off and getting angry at them for not coming near me because “Can’t they see I am upset?” I sabotage relationships through my anger. I kill my desires by numbing myself out with food and then getting angry at myself for eating too much knowing I can gain weight so easily and then punishing myself by not eating much at all. I fear touch and become withdrawn because I do not want anyone to feed the fire in my heart that burns to be nourished with physical touch. I fear disappointment when they will not engage me any further and only seek to gain what they want from my physical being and not my soul. I hang my head in pity and self-loathing, feeling unworthy to engage the world around me and begging people to leave me alone. It is a sign of defeat. I completely disengage the world by sleeping off my time, hoping when I wake up the next morning it will somehow be different and I will wake up in another situation without having to face all those things that haunt me.

This was my week and a half and I feel like I can walk away from it today. I say today because I am not so foolish to think that I cannot be in this place again and that it will not haunt me further. There is much more work and healing to be done and I, like an alcoholic, will turn to the same coping mechanism(s) till the day I die or Jesus comes for me. But today I choose to walk in truth. I choose to believe that God has brought me down this path for my good and ultimately His glory in my life and the lives of those around me. I choose to believe that He is enough in my pain, in my weeping, in my fear, in my joy, in my laughter, in my sorrow, in my loss, in everything. He alone can carry me through. He is my anchor of hope for my soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19) I will walk further and not camp out in my pain because He has called me to keep walking with Him and has called me to play.

One of my favorite pictures I always have of God is this man who radiates with joy and delight, playing with this little girl who has long curly locks in a forest. They have found this secluded spot all to themselves and they are dancing and singing, frolicking and playing tag. Today He has run down the dark scary path ahead and has checked it out to make sure it is okay to travel down and that nothing too dangerous is out there. He comes back from the ominous path and is squatting down, with his arms stretched out, entreating this little girl to come and join Him, to take His hand and walk deeper into the woods. He promises He won’t go anywhere and will not leave her side. He will fight off the lions, the tigers, the bears, (Oh my!) and all the things that she fears He promises to give her strength to stand up to. Will this little girl continue to run and play, trusting her father? Yes, yes she will.

11.11.2008

Hard Two Weeks

Needless to say, the last two weeks have been pretty hard on me. I don't have time to go into detail nor do I think it appropriate to online. It is interesting to me that I could go back so quickly to my old coping mechanisms and not even realize it. It really is amazing because God has done so many amazing things this past year and we have walked through them together. I guess some wounds are so deep the reaction is instant.

I am giving grace to myself and trying to get through one day at a time...

I wanted to share the scriptures God has given to me yesterday and today.

Yesterday: Psalm 126

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to [a] Zion,
we were like men who dreamed. [b]
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."

3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

4 Restore our fortunes, [c] O LORD,
like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.

6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.


Today: James 1:2-5, 12

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.




If you think of me, please pray for peace in my heart and God to speak loudly to me. I am often deaf.

10.21.2008

Justice

I receive these weekly articles from Relevant Magazine and today the topic was social justice, as it usually is. Always a story or experience from someone doing something radical to change the world. I admire these stories and they always make me think about my life. I am a big advocate of speaking for those who cannot speak, helping them find their voice, meeting needs where we can, etc. However, what got me thinking today, and spawned this post, were the arguments used to make the point.


"Interestingly enough, the word for love in the KJV is Charity, which when properly translated from Aramaic actually means justice. Love is setting things right. Love is doing something when it's easier to do nothing. Love is fighting for those who have no voice. Love is justice incarnate."

My first thoughts were 1) the KJV is so wrought with error why would you choose from it. 2) I am curious what scripture in particular he was translating from the Aramaic to derive justice as the English translation for love. 3) I am not so sure I easily sit with the last phrase of "Love is justice incarnate." I'd like to stay with this last point for a bit.

I have a hard time agreeing with this definition of love as justice incarnate. If we reason like that, then we only have a partial reality and truth of Christ's death on the cross. Yes, it was just in that Christ absorbed God's wrath, our punishment for sinning against a Holy God, therefore making atonement for our sin, but if it was not accompanied with mercy and grace that is extended freely to us, then it was for nothing. There is no justice in Him extending it to us freely. That is pure mercy in Him offering us the grace that was paid through Christ. Mercy as defined by Merriam-Webster "implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it."

It is seemingly lacking to say "love is justice incarnate" because Christ didn't come for justice. Yes, He came to "set the captives free and bind up the broken hearted…" but that was not the chief end of His mission. Jesus did not heal every person physically when He lived on this earth. He didn't come to make peace in the world, but He did come and put peace in our hearts for those who would accept His grace that covers our sin. These are two very different ideas. He came with a message of freedom, but He cared more about the freedom from the sin within our own hearts, rather than external circumstances of sin against others. The debt towards God is much bigger than our debt towards others.

The title of this article is Repairing the World by George Elerick and that was his main point; that we can bring love to this world by providing justice for the oppressed. I still maintain it is twofold. We do have a responsibility to those who are oppressed to fight for them. I believe it with all my heart. James 1:27 (NIV)
27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

However, the type of repairing of the world Christ came for was first reconciling us to God.

Colossians 1: 19 "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."


His second coming will be for our sanctification. We will finally be made whole and our sinful nature will be left behind.

Hebrews 9:28 "so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

Again Merriam-Webster, here is the definition for salvation: "1 a: deliverance from the power and effects of sin b: the agent or means that effects salvation; 2: liberation from ignorance or illusion3 a: preservation from destruction or failure b: deliverance from danger or difficulty" This is when our sanctification will be made complete, when Christ returns or I die first—in the end it is the same.

I do think helping out those who are oppressed is very important; I just didn't really like his argument and thought his focus was a little off. I am not really sure what my ramblings here have come to, but these few brief lines from this article have got me thinking and these are the thoughts floating around in my head. I always tell people in YAG when I ask difficult questions that I only ask them to make them think because I can't stop thinking myself. So, I am asking you to think as well. What are your thoughts on social justice? Helping the poor? What are ways to engage those who are oppressed with both the spiritual and the physical needs? So, I will continue to wrestle with these questions as well and if I come up with something, be certain that I will write again.

10.15.2008

There is much rejoicing in Heaven!!

There is a party going on in heaven right now! Adena, whom I always write about and is in my pictures, has decided to follow Jesus!! She along with 6 other people were baptised this Sunday. There were also two others there very dear to my heart as well, Katrin and Rosanna.

Adena, Katrin, and Rosanna are the only ones who stuck out Recovery all the way to the end. Of the 16 women who began, these ladies are the ones who have gone through the battle of sin that wages within and held out to the end. (For all of you out there thinking "Uh...isn't recovery supposed to be confidential??? Don't worry, I have been given explicit permission to proclaim to the world what God has done!!!)

That day my heart swelled with joy and pride for these women and such gratitude that God chooses to use me in their lives.

With Adena, how crazy is our God that He sent Adena from Canada and me from Texas all the way to Hamburg, Germany, to meet in the city when we both lived in the country. He didn't put any friends in our path for the first two months so He could bind our hearts together and make us desperate for friends; thirsting for something so much bigger. BAM!! IBC came along and Adena was desperate enough for fellowship with people that she came with me to church and fell in love with the people's love for one another. Started going to a bible study on Tuesdays and hanging out with all these Christians... Then her being such a good friend to me, she decided to help me organize Recovery when it first got started. She also figured since she was my secretary she may as well go too. She had been reading the bible off and on and praying to God, but I really think that having to do the study and getting into the word and having to truly look at her life, had such a huge impact. When I first met her, she told me this was her year to find herself and that is why she came to Germany because something big was going to happen--she could just feel it. When she told me that, I wanted to tell her it that she was going to find Jesus! Only now does she know how true those words were. My favorite thing to hear out of her mouth is " I cannot deny God is real. He has changed me. I am not the same person that I was and I don't even know how it happened, but I know it was Him."

Our God is so extravagant and He will use whatever means He pleases to reveal Himself to mankind. He just asks us to trust Him with the crazy and come out and play with Him. I have had fun playing!

Katrin is a very special woman to me. I am training her right now to lead the recovery ministry here in Hamburg. She has only been a Christian for a year now, but God has called her into deep waters already and she has been obedient to follow. I have never seen a young christian so obediant and faithful to the things that He has called her to and takes delight in it. This woman seeks God with all her heart and wrestles with Him until He wins...

Rosanna has been a believer for a long time. Her baptism I can relate to. She was baptised at 18, she is now 38. After going through this step study and going through her 5th step, she felt like she was truly alive and God had become real to her. All the things that haunted her are gone and she feels free to live and rejoice and see God for who He really is! So amazing! Many people were quite stunned that she was getting baptised because she was well known in the church and people knew her for being a strong christian who had already been baptised....

I praise God for this day and how awesome He is that He would call us to Himself; that He would choose to display His glory in such broken vessels like us. Blows my mind. I am at a loss for words to end this blog. There is not enough praise I could give God for what has happened...

10.08.2008

Baby Pictures

My parents emailed these to me for an event we were having here with the YAG. They are cute, so I thought I would share.

Happy Halloween!


I recieved this picture in an email titled: "When Pumpkins Drink"

I thought it was funny.

10.01.2008

Election Blog

So I didn't really intend on writing about this election because the moment I came over here that is all people wanted to talk to me about and I got quite fed up with it early on. However, that being said I was reading a blog that was soliciting opinions about this article she had read in the Dallas Morning News. The article was talking about a bumper sticker that said

I heart Jesus
You cannot vote for Obama and be a Christian

Well that was enough to send my mind in a flurry and write a response of a beloved rant which I will post here as well:

This election is quite interesting to say the least. I think it will have bigger effects than most of us think. There is something so interesting in that idea as well as the fact we can participate in this process and vote, yet we in the end do not decide. God is the sovereign one and He places the powers and authorities over us.

My question is why do Christians, I say this somewhat carte blanche, seemingly always vote republican because of the two aforementioned reasons of abortion and homosexuality? I say this not because I am for it, but rather why do we want to legislate morality through the government. Have we not already created a Christian culture in the U.S. through good ole television that gives a moral story and faithful church attendance creating a safe feeling through knowledge and works. All that has left is people who know right behavior and right answers with a social pressure to conform if you want to be considered 'good' or 'righteous'.

When did govermental Christianity ever promote Jesus? Think historically to the first century church when Rome decided to take on Christianity as the official state religion. It died. Yet we look at India right now who is facing severe oppression and the gospel is spreading like wildfire and HEARTS and lives are changing.

We will never be doing good to peoples souls for eternity by regulating morality through the governemnt. Rather would it not be better to let people feel the depth of their depravity and love them inspite of their sins giving them the hope that is found in Jesus alone. He alone can change their hearts and no amount of nagging through the government will do that.

These are just my thoughts and ponderings. I have a somewhat far off glance and unbias at what is going on as I sit across the atlantic and watch America toss and turn through the economic difficulties and political warfare. Interestingly enough, most of the world is watching what is going on and I think, like San mentioned, this election will determine how the rest of the world will interact with us. We have upset quite a few contries over the last couple of years....


I also would like to add that the rest of the world is looking at the US as to what will happen because it does have huge ramifications for the rest of the world. I read a critique that many people won't vote for Obama because "he is the European candidate of choice." To that I think what an ignorant reason for not voting for him and how arrogant like an American to not care what the rest of the world thinks. We have snubbed enough of our allied countries with our youthful pride and arrogance thinking we can do what we please and it doesn't matter to the rest of the world. To that I have to say, we will pay the consequences for our pride. We should be more concerned about our foreign affairs than we are at present. My advice, try traveling outside the U.S.. There is a whole other world out there. But I know that request is quite difficult for many considering about 3% of americans have a current passport and actually use it.

Zu ende. That is all I have to say for the present. I am curious to hear what you guys think.

9.24.2008

Germany, Thanksgiving, and English Teaching

What do Germany, Thanksgiving and English Teaching have to do with one another you ask. Everything. I have decided to stay in Germany for another year and do some more work with the Recovery Program here helping it to get up and running on a good start.

How am I going to stay here legally and financially? As an English Teacher I hope. Last time I was looking for a job here, the only thing keeping me from English teaching was a certificate. Germans love their bureacracy, meaning they love certificates for everything. So I am doing an online course right now to get my TEFL certificate.

What does that have to do with Thanksgiving, Caroline? Because of this decision, my parents are flying me home for thanksgiving. I will be in Texas from Nov 22- Dec 10th! If you would like to meet up while I am at home, please make your reservation ahead of time. :)

Things I plan on doing in Texas:
1) Eating Mexican food every day!
2) Eating barbecue every day!
3) Stocking up on clothing and shoes. Clothes are friggin expensive here.
4) Buying spices for Mexican food.
5) Hugging and kissing my nephews to death. It's got to last for a whole year!
6) Bringing back useless things such as my text books that I thought I would use for online classes
7) Getting all my stuff out of the Fry House and eating at Cups and Crepes!
8) Eating real meat!!
9) Meeting with my dear friends and family!
10)Celebrating my baby sister's 21st birthday!

That is my list for now. Definately has a food theme to it, but you don't understand how boring bread and butter is until you eat it for two of your three meals every day!

If there is anything you want from Germany, give me a holla and I will bring it to you! I am bringing two large suitcases half full so I can load her up for the next year!

Can't wait to see you guys soon!

Love,
Caroline

9.10.2008

A Glimpse of Jesus in Cobbler


These past two months in the land where everything grows so lusciously and abundantly have brought so much joy and worship in my heart. All of nature seems to be proclaiming the glory of God and communicating His goodness. Oh how He lavishes His love upon us!

The weather is not always stable here in Hamburg. In fact you can predict it to be unpredictable and more on the rainy side than anything. A glorious moment, is when the weather is forecast for rain the whole weekend--therefore also cold-- but God decides He wants it to be sunny and warm instead. These moments melt my heart into praise and awe for our Creator.

Speaking of melting, nothing melts more heavenly than a great scoop of vanilla ice cream from the warm oozing yumminess of a cobbler. Making cobbler this summer has soothed me with such southern comforts of home. The reward in the end is indescribable from a long fought journey. There is nothing like going to your own backyard to pick your own fresh berries, but even then nature is wild and puts up a fight. There is this plant by blackberry bushes that is kind of like a stinging nettle, but it stings far worse! This malicious plant always stings me and of course the thorns from the bush itself dig into your clothes, trying to hold you captive as you steal its treasure.

I have come to pin these words about berry picking, blackberries specifically: "Blackberry picking is like fighting nature, demanding that she yields her delicious treasure to me. In the end of my battle, I come out scratched and bleeding, but I find it worth the fight, in that I behold something that brings me much greater joy in the end."

Sitting outside with a bowl of warm homemade cobbler and giant scoop of vanilla ice cream while the sun shines on me and a slight breeze sweeps by is such a God exalting moment for me--it is a moment that says it couldn't get any better than this. I know all is right in the world at that moment--it's a glimpse of Jesus.


How wonderful is God that He would choose to communicate His love to me in something so simple as a fresh summer dessert!

8.30.2008

Quenton and Felix

Here and some pictures of Quenton and Felix! If you have facebook, then you have already seen them. But they are soo cute!



8.27.2008

Great Article

Just wanted to write a short little blog. I have so much more to say than I will write, but I felt like writing a little on here. Soliciting help: How on earth do I make pictures not just vertical on here? I want to post some pics of my kids, but I am a little technologically challenged. Funny, I grew up in the technology generation, but it seemed to zoom way past me!

Things are going really well with my new family. I live on a horse farm taking care of two little boys who are 3 and 4 and absolutely suß! I feel like I walked into Doctor Dolittle. We have 5 horses, soon to be 2 more, 2 ponies, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. The ponies graze on the lawn outside and I often see them outside my window in the mornings just eating grass. The animals seem to really like me, which is great! I like them too! One cat has brought me three dead birds on my doorstep--if you don't know animals, this is a compliment and sign of affection. One of the dogs, Inka, loves to go on walks with me and therefore follows me around all day long and one time even hid under my bed as soon as she could get into my room and didn't want to leave! It was soo funny bc Arne, the father, had to crawl under my bed and pull Inka out. The ponies always think I am have something to give them to eat and will rush towards me when they can see or hear me--which is hard for Farina because she is 35 years old and has lost a lot of sight and hearing. But don't feel too sorry for her, she's not so decrepit. She is still feisty and if Inka is not careful, she is going to find herself dead if she keeps messing with Farina! Watch out for that back kick!

I will write more about my adventures with the kids later, but I just wanted to give a short update. My German is also coming along too. Unfortunately not so much my spelling bc I am learning more from speaking, but I can understand quite a bit and communicate on a basic level!.... Everything is going wonderful! I was meant to live on a farm :). The family is so loving and warm and affectionate--which is unusual for Germans to be so affectionate without knowing me. I feel almost in reverse culture shock. I just got used to people being cold and not open, that them being so open and affectionate to me sometimes throws me off and I have to watch myself to not pull away! Isn't that interesting....

Well, as the title of this post states, I have read a great article on Relevant Magazine giving a Q&A about a book written by Craig Detweiler called Into the Dark. The book examines films and finds redemptive purposes and insights into what is actually happening in the films that are reviewed. It is a really great article and I highly recommend you reading it. Let me know what you think about it. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/pc_article.php?id=7658

8.13.2008

One Day at a Time

I was just thinking how a year ago I was in Seattle right now doing counseling. It is amazing what a whole year can bring! I feel like a completely different person from a year ago. A complete overhaul has occured. I don't even know how it happened. There was a few months transition, but the change I can't point it out. I think the biggest thing was walking in the reality of my life and all that had happened. It was when I said it was real and I choose to live in truth, walk in the light, that the shame and the heaviness went away. It wasn't too impossible to face. Not with Christ by my side leading the way.

A thought: My whole life I have checked out and created other realities when things were too hard and I didn't think I could do it on my own. Is that what I have been doing with school? Starting out well with God's help, but as I begin to run, I tell God "Tchüss! See you later! I don't need you anymore." Then I quickly see how impossible it is without Him, but foolishly I don't turn to Him and trust Him with my mess. Instead my pride flares up and says "I got it--I'm fine." But then I fail miserably. I have been trying to do it without God's help. He has repeatedly shown me I can't do it without Him, but I am like a dumb sheep and I don't get it the first four years of school, 7 semesters, 28 classes, 100 papers later. Interesting...

He wants all of me--not just parts. Every part of my rebellious heart that refuses to bow down. I guess I still want to be competent and unabhängig, being able to do things well on my own strength. The truth is whatever gifting/strength I have comes from God. Period. I didn't do anything to deserve what I have been given. I am only called to be a good steward of it. They do not give me value or identity. Only Christ can do that.

It is quite opposite thinking from the world that puts you on a piece of paper, i.e. resume, and says yes or no you measure up. I have to realize that in the end it is really God deciding my fate in that the state of that person's heart is in God's hands. "He turns it like channels of water whichever way he wants." So I shouldn't worry about school, degrees, qualifications, etc. I should just live faithfully to today and what he has called me to today. "Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of it's own."

One day at a time.....

8.09.2008

Ryanair is evil!

For anyone who has flown Ryanair, you know what a major pain in the rear it is to fly and you have to wonder if the price is worth the counseling you will need to seek after the instense provocation of anger from flying with this company.
Simply put: I hate Ryanair. Please shoot me if I ever fly them again.

I found this article while planning my next trip to Rome and I thought it was quite interesting. It's short and will take only a couple of minutes to read. Here's the link: http://goeurope.about.com/b/2008/08/08/ryanair-the-latest-assault-on-price-comparison-sites-and-travelers.htm

When will this company either 1)go out of business from crappy management and a service to the world or 2) Some new manager come in and revamp their CUSTOMER SERVICE department. You know that thing that keeps you in business, making customers happy!

8.02.2008

My Knight in a Silver Shining Mercedes

I am starting my new job today with a new au-pair family. Why a new job? Das ist die grosse Frage. That is the big question. My last family did not work out so well. Quite an unlucky situation it was. I will write about it on here b/c I have written it out too many times to people individually and I keep getting angry every time I write about it, so one more time is enough.

I had been working for the Koch family for about 5 months and everything seemed alright. Yea, there were small problems here and there. Kids were being bratty, but I just figured “oh these are rich peoples kids. That’s how they are. Someone has to love them.” Well, on Monday June 30th, I came home from picking the girls up from school and as I am walking in the front door, the mom begins to tell me what I am making for lunch and the upcoming schedule for the week. Normal things, normal conversation, nothing out of the ordinary. She tells me I am babysitting ( which I hate to be told I am babysitting on my day off. You ask, you don’t tell.) on Friday evening and Saturday morning. In a calm voice (from the holy spirit) I told her “I am sorry, I am unable to babysit Saturday morning. I can babysit Friday evening, no problem, but Saturday I am teaching a course at my church and it is the first one, so I can’t miss it. About 20 people are counting on me. I meant to let you know I am doing teaching on Saturdays, but we just haven’t seen each other over the past few weeks to talk. I am sorry about that.”

Well you can imagine, as I am saying this her face is getting paler and paler and when I finished, she just uttered “Well that’s weird behavior, don’t you think that is weird. Shouldn’t you have asked me before you decided to do this. What am I going to do? Should I have to cancel my lecture?” Amazingly, I was calm throughout the whole conversation. I was not expecting this reaction from her at all. I simply suggested to her that Laura, the other babysitter, might be able to do it on Saturday. She replied “Well do you have the extra money to pay her.” I told her I didn’t see why it shouldn’t matter who is babysitting. That is my free time and I would have been paid as well if I were babysitting. Then she told me she didn’t like the tone I was speaking to her in. Honestly, my tone had not changed, but I apologized anyways. She just began to undress me and throw accusations in my face. She couldn’t even finish the conversation she was so angry. I didn’t see her till she left for work and she didn’t even say a word to me.

The next day I asked her about my visa, if she could go with me to the auslaenderbehoerde--foreign people’s office. I still did not have a visa and had been here for 5 months. She said she would have to check her schedule. I started to let her know the days they were open and she snapped at me. I met my accountability partner that day, like normal, and we just began to pray and talk through the situation that had happened the day before. The last couple of weeks had been difficult with the kids and lately the family. They had begun to be rude to me and nitpick more than normal, so we had been praying about what to do. So many times I wanted to quit the family and leave, but after praying I just felt like God calling me to stay. So once again we were praying about this situation. Again I felt called to stay to the family. I wasn’t going to remove myself from the situation. I had this feeling she was going to fire me, but I wasn’t certain.

Well sure enough, I came home and she asked to talk to me. I wasn’t sure what about. I thought maybe it was round two of taking my head off. We sat down and she plainly said it is not working and than began to run off a list of things she had against me. None of which she had ever spoken about before to me. Some I think that were honestly made up and were ridiculous. She asked that I stay until they went on holiday. I requested my visa to be taken care of and asked if I could go on Thursday when I would normally be working--they have weird hours at the auslaunderbehoerde. She asked if I had anything to say to her. I fumbled for a few minutes half-laughing saying “yes, but I am not sure you want to hear it.” I told her I was and I wasn’t surprised that this happened. I was surprised since we had talked only a month ago about how she felt I was doing and she said things were going well. I had also expressed a wish of staying until May and she said that would be great and that she would arrange it. However, since we had that meeting I felt more and more unwelcome in that house than ever. I felt like nothing I ever did was good enough for them. I told her also how I felt mislead on by the job. She told me it was only 30-35 hours per week, but in reality it was 40-45 hours. Working that many hours and having to teach children who don’t listen to you is quite frustrating and especially teaching English to children who are unwilling…..

So Thursday I went to the auslaenderbehoerde with a friend who is German, but speaks very good English. After a long day (we kind of missed our connection and made it half-way to Berlin and had to back-track) we barely made it on time So we arrive there to find out that the guest mom hadn’t paid for it like she was supposed to and that she had called that morning to change my date of being here in Germany. The paper work was all finished and I was just supposed to go in and get my sticky thing for my passport. But she had called that morning changing it from May 2009 to the 19th of July 2008. This wouldn’t be a big deal except in Germany you cannot be here without a visa or aufenthaltserlaubnis--which is a piece of paper saying you can be in the country. You also have to make the dates match up. Basically I had to find a family before July 19th and get in contact with this office, not even a day late. You cannot be in Germany arbeitslos --without a job. Needless to say, I was very angry when I left the office. It is downright impossible to continue going to language school, work for the family, and search for another job at the same time. The woman at the auslaenderbehoerde suggested that I make a closing contract to make our dealings final.

So my friend, who happens to be training to be a lawyer, helped me make up a contract stating I would take the rest of my paid holiday to look for a family, that after the 19th we were not under obligation to each other anymore, and if I was forced to leave the country, the family would have to pay for my return flight as promised before I came. I gave it to her the next day (Friday the 4th of July J ) and she did not take this too well at all. She started yelling and saying how can you leave us with all the bad and you take all the good, no you have to give us our money back for the month of July. (I get paid monthly) She wouldn’t even let me respond to her whatsoever. So the conversation ended b/c I had to go to an interview with a family. I came home later that night to babysit and I passed her in the driving way and she just said “Hi.” and I walked inside to find Laura, the other girl, babysitting. I was really confused b/c I said I would be babysitting on Friday evening. Well she had left me a note outside my door asking me to do all the kids ironing, clean my room and bathroom, leave 300€ and my house keys. I was really surprised b/c we had said we were going to talk on Sunday about what had happened. I don’t know if she did this b/c I said Adena’s family would put me up until I could find a job or what. But it was a little scary. It was really sad b/c I didn’t get to say a good proper goodbye to the kids--it just ended on such bad terms. And the whole time the kids were saying “Did you leave the money did you leave the money.” and telling me things that there mom had said. Charli told me her mom was going to lock my suitcase in her room until I gave her the 300€. Children should not be involved in the middle of this. So irresponsible of the parents. So I packed my things and Adena, my knight in a silver shining Mercedes, came and picked me up at 10 pm. It was raining really hard outside and I felt like a fugative trying to get all my things into her car so fast. I also didn’t want to see the mom, I was so angry and scared at what she would try to do to me.

I don’t know why I was scared. I am in a foreign land and I don’t really know my rights and apparently my story isn’t valid. I wrote the agency I came with to let them know what happened and to stop recommend ding them as a good family to work for. Apparently she told them another story of what happened and they are believing her; which really sucks for their next au-pair. Also, as I was interviewing for families, it seemed to be that the agency was telling families what the guest mom had said as well. It was quite frustrating. HOWEVER, I have found a new family and just within 3 days of my deadline!! Our God is soo much bigger than our situations. Hooray! Praise God!! I have also been living with Adena for the last month and it has been pretty cool living with her family.

I am glad to have this hellish nightmare ordeal behind me. I am still thinking about it and trying to figure out my faults in it, b/c I don’t think I was blameless. I definitely think I acted out of fear in many parts, but I don’t know if it was a good fear or a bad fear. Sometimes fear is good in that keeps you alive. Was this one of them? Keine ahnung.--no idea. I do also believe this was spiritual warfare from the enemy trying to keep me out of Hamburg. It is no coincidence this happened the week leading up to my first Step Study for Recovery, starting up prayer walking in the city, and visiting the Love Club-- which has been shut down as well. The devil is putting up a strong fight here in Hamburg. This was just one way of trying to prevent God’s purposes from working here.

It is sad what happened with my last family and I really do pity the girls. I am trying to pray blessings over the family and not curse them, forgiving them instead of holding onto bitterness. Some days I am doing good and some days not so good.

I am excited and scared to start with this new family. That was a traumatic experience with this family. They were very hard people to live with and were always trying to find fault in everything I did. I didn’t even feel comfortable eating in front of them. It’s like they couldn’t help but be critical with everyone. I don’t even know if they realized what they were doing it was so natural for them--really sad. ..This new family is very down to earth, normal type of people, from what I have seen. They know about this last family and what happened and we have talked it over. They seemed to be really sympathetic and nice. Hopefully this will go a lot better!
I am grateful for Adena’s family who didn’t even hesitate to offer me a place to stay. God really took care of me in all of this. I am so grateful.

That was my roller coaster month--really week. I will write about my new family later once I actually get to know them. I will have internet with this family !! Hooray!! I have also started recovery and it has been going well, again I will write more later.

Please pray for grace with each other. The family speaks only German, very little English. My German is not bad, but not anywhere near perfect. Cultural misunderstandings happen often enough when you both speak the same language, even more so when communication is lacking. So please pray that my German gets better as well.

I love you guys and I miss you.

7.23.2008

Surrender

Will surrender ever be easy? No, I think not and it shouldn't be. No one walks into a battle field carrying a white flag before the battle even starts. Fighting commences as one walks on the battle field and only when exhaustion and defeat have set in then the white flag is given in surrender of their position and lives. The white flag also pleads for mercy....

So I was having a rough morning today and I just couldn't shake this feeling of depression/ this feeling of defeat and so I decided to write. The writing might be a little scattered in thought, but I feel like it is an expression of a battle within me. (I mean to write later about my recent events here in hamburg, but I have not yet penned them to a page.)


"I don’t know why, but for some reason I am feeling slightly depressed. I have this unrest about myself and I can’t shake it off. A feeling of defeat flying over my head. I feel defeated in my mastery of German and unable to speak/learn it well. I want to give up in it and return to my familiar English. Maybe I am feeling this way b/c I don’t have an agenda today or the next week. It is not good for me to not have work--I need something in my schedule. I also find myself daydreaming about the future--future jobs, future living situations. Like I would love to go live with the some friends of mine up north in the states and hang out with their family for awhile. I just miss them so much.

I also want to go home and put my roots back in over there. When am I leaving Germany? I don’t know. And it bothers me. I would like to decide sometime soon and not have unrest over it. The question is also when does God want me to leave here, when is my work done here? Am I being selfish in wanting to go home? Is it a plot from the enemy dangling comfort in front of me hoping I will take the bait?

I just don’t feel like I have the strength or ability to learn German. I want to, but it seems so difficult. I don’t have the money to afford a good school, and I feel like I should have learned before I came and it would have been easier. Can I give up now and not hate myself later?

I feel defeat sitting on my chest, just like every time I would go to approach school. I would start out so well and bomb it in the end. It always feels too difficult to continue. Why does it always come to this point?

Maybe I need to fast from facebook and looking at peoples lives from afar. I think it pulls me into their lives, but I am not really there. It makes me miss home too much .

I don’t know. I never know why this happens. Am I looking to other things to satisfy me than God? The answer seems to be yes, but what is it? I have never tried harder to be satisfied by God alone in my life. But the thing is I can’t do it. AHHHHH. People and circumstances do not exist to satisfy me only God can.

God I surrender to you. Everything, my circumstances, my actions, my abilities or lack thereof, my attitude, my strength--that is never good enough, my hope, my affections, everything. I can’t do it God. I can’t live my life day in and day out without you. I need you to sustain me, to give me strength. Left up to myself, I am depressed and hopeless and I make a mess of everything. I surrender my ability to learn German. If it is not perfect, than okay--it’s not perfect. I can’t control that. I will do my best and not give up, but in the end whatever ability or understanding I have comes from you and I trust that it is enough and it is all the understanding I need. I won’t beat myself up over not being perfect. I will not treat your kindness with contempt.

So in writing this I realize that I am holding myself up to unrealistic standards that I cannot meet--say perfection. Not attainable in this lifetime. Oh Caroline, “unrealistic expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” Have I not heard this before :) . How many times will I learn this lesson in this lifetime?--at least a thousand.

'A thousand times I’ve failed
still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
I’m caught in your grace.

Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending your glory goes beyond all fame

My heart and my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Let justice and praise become my embrace
Consume me from the inside out.' "

6.17.2008

Random Thoughts

As the title of this blog clearly states my thoughts will not be clearly stated. Here we go...

I am doing well right now. I feel like God is sustaining me in all I do. I am starting a recovery ministry here in Hamburg and it has kept me quite busy meeting with people and doing the leg work to get it started. I have also been working very long and extra hours with my job. I am enjoying Germany and I feel like God has put me here, right now, for a purpose. I know I don't want to stay here long term--I will come back next May, but I am here for this short period of time for a reason. I feel it. God is moving in Hamburg. My heart is burdened for this city even though it isn't where I want to be in the long run. It's beautiful, but in the end it is just a city. But a city full of hurting people who are lost and dying physically and spiritually.

As I previously mentioned I am starting a recovery program here. That has been wonderful so far. It hasn't started, but I have been meeting with people and a step study will begin in July, so just around the corner. Some of the church leadership weren't quite sure how people would react to such a program/study, but I have had quite a large response from people so far. We will see how many actually come and stick it out. I am not worried, God will bring who He wants; I am just genuinely curious. Please pray for wisdom and guidance in how to lead this thing and pray for protection from the enemy who desires to keep the people here in captivity and bondage to their sin.

I am a bit homesick right now. It is hard to think about all my friends going off around the world on all their mission trips. I so badly want to be their to hug you and say goodbye and to welcome you home with a big hug and tears... I dislike the fact that my youngest nephew turns one in two weeks and I won't be there. He will actually be almost two years old before I come home. That hits hard--missing almost two years of his life. I know that I will have plenty of time to spend with him later, but I really want to be there to watch him grow up. I missed the earliest years with my oldest two nephews, but was able to with my 4 year old nephew... I miss all my friends at church. I want to be there in the everyday to stand beside and hear the stories, to rally them on, to be a part of their lives so intimately as we once were. I miss you all so very much and I think about you often.


I feel like I have clearer instructions on what I want to do when I get home to the states. I am trying not to dwell on them too much or it makes homesickness worse, but it has been fun dreaming of the possibilities when I get home. Only God knows what the next year will look like. I feel like being here has been a good training experience in every aspect of that word. Training spiritually, educationally, and vocationally. This journey has been a long spiritually refining one. God has been leading me into deeper waters way beyond myself of anything I could imagine. Everything I have been taught and learned has been put to the test and I have been standing in faith on it. It has been amazing to see! Educationally with learning the language has been great! I feel like when I go home I will focus more on linguistics. No idea what that will do, but I feel like it will open doors for better jobs in knowing more languages. Vocationally, I feel like this has helped so many ways in being able to write I taught/tutored English as a second language for almost a year and a half. Also being an au pair in another country, I feel like looks good on a resume and maybe with a combination of the language skills, maybe I can teach before I finish my undergrad. We will see, these are just some thoughts....

I don't have much more to write, well I do, but I don't know how to reign it in or what the point would be. So I will leave it at this. I am doing well, I love and miss you guys, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Love,
Caroline

5.29.2008

My Holiday in London



It’s been awhile since I have updated this. So much has happened I don’t even know where to begin. I was on holiday in the U.K. from May 8-17th. Everything was fabulous! I will try to post some pictures. If you have facebook, that is the better way to look because it allows so much more space and is easier to look through.

Lately traveling has been a bit rough for me this year. Something always hiccups in my plans. On our way to London, the international security guys were stamping us out of the country and they looked at our passports (mine and Adena’s) and saw that we had been in the country for 3 months and 1 day. The legal allowance without a visa in Europe is 3 months. I have a visa, but it is in process. He asked me what I was doing in Germany and whether I was going back to the states after London. I told him my stuff was here so I am coming back. He told me I shouldn’t come back, that I needed to go home. Needless to say I was a bit frazzled that in this rinky-dink airport that is more like a plan hanger, these security guards are trying to give me hell for being here one day too long. They must be people who don’t like the states, otherwise outbound flights don’t get checked. What can you do?

We stayed at the oh-so fabulous “Ritz” as we lovingly call it. The five star hostel downtown London in Bayswater formerly known as “Smart Hyde Park Inn”, every backpackers nightmare. I am just kidding. It was an adventure. The hostel definitely wasn’t the cleanest or organized. We had to switch rooms almost every night we were there even though we had a long term reservation. The pictures on the website were definitely misleading. It was like they took pictures of it right after it opened….a 100 years ago. We didn’t shower much on this trip (yikes! But it was scary in the shower stalls and the water had no temperature control, so either extremely cold or scalding hot.) I have to say it was fun staying there. We met a lot of great people on our trip. That was probably the best part of staying in hostels was meeting people. We met one guy from New Zealand named Nathan. He is the most hilarious person. New Zealanders are called “Kiwis” and I didn’t realize it was after the national bird. I was thinking of the fruit. So every time he said “Oh that’s kiwi humour for you,” I would picture these kiwi fruits laughing. He is actually living in London and was looking for a job, but London is so expensive. It is cheaper to stay there in the hostel, find a job, and then a flat. Luckily he found a really great job on our last day there, so we went out and celebrated his job and our going away. It was great.
What did we do in London? Are you ready for a novel?? Just kidding. I’ll only give highlights.

The first day we went to the British Museum and first had breakfast in the park that is adjacent to the museum. It is very lovely if you have ever seen it and quite peaceful. At the museum, we saw a demonstration called “The way of Tea” and women from Japan who were in a school for tea and serving it, gave the demonstration. It was performed in a replica tea house in the museum. I was one of two people who were volunteers to have this ceremony performed and taste the tea. I really enjoyed it! The next day we took a tour all over the city on one of the big red buses. I definitely felt like a tourist, but we had some pretty funny tour guides and it was such a lovely day when we went, no rain, only sun. I actually got a sun-burn. I didn’t buy any sun tan lotion because it was 10 pounds for one bottle of lotion. That is $20!!!! Sooo expensive( in Deutschland wir sagen sehr teuer!!) Saturday we went to the Tower of London and it was absolutely incredible! So rich in history. Our tour guide was one of the actual guards and he was hilarious. I like the Brits for their humour, much better than German humour; although sometimes a little too saucy for my taste.

Monday we took a train to Bath for the day. Bath has to be one of the most beautiful cities!! All the architecture is the same as from the 18th century, nothing has really changed or modernized. It is also home to the Jane Austen Centre and the Roman Baths. We toured the Roman Baths and then we went to the Jane Austen Centre and had a high tea. It was very beautiful and very peaceful. Even as I write this my heart is again put to rest and filled with delight. We sat and drank tea and scones for quite some time just enjoying our break away from kids and soaking in the culture of the 18th century in Bath. We took a tour of the house, which was very much like one of the houses Jane Austen lived in when she resided in Bath. I bought a biography at the store on the Life of Jane Austen. I am only 60 pages in and it is very insightful.
The next day we went to Edinburgh and stayed in the worlds greatest hostel! This time I am being serious. It was very new and everything was better than the website stated. Plenty of space, very clean --we actually took a shower in this one. Gotta take ‘em where you can. Lockers were free and the place had like 6 kitchens and they were sanitary!!! I wish we had stayed longer in Edinburgh, the place was beautiful and the lodgings were great and cheap. While we were there, we saw the Edinburgh Castle. I saw a museum that paid tribute to Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. I only found it though , while walking on the street, but it was near closing so I only had 15 minutes in it. After I went there, I toured the Scottish Whiskey Heritage Museum. I loved it! They give you a glass of whisky before you start the tour and you get to keep it. Great day! Later that evening we went to the local pub and had haggis and something else that is a traditional Scottish meal and a good local cider. It was actually really good and really cheap. Eating out in the U.K. is uber expensive.

We went to York the next morning and we saw a lot there. That morning we had a traditional English breakfast, eggs, toast, beans, hash browns, sausage, and bacon. You could tell that it definitely was a farming community by the way the sausages were made and tasted. It was good, but I think I might die of a heart attack if I ate that everyday! One of my favorite places in York was the York Castle Museum that had pretty much the history of society in York, but much emphasis on the women’s life. It was really neat. It showed the evolution of many common household products and how they had changed over the years. There were these older women in there who remembered using some of the original products, scrubbing boards, and such who would come over and tell me about their experiences with it. They were really sweet and reminded me so much of my late grandma. She really would have enjoyed the museum. My next favorite place was the York Minster. It was incredible. Words can’t express the awe and wonder one feels when they step into the grandeur of this neo-gothic cathedral. You really feel how small you are and how grand and glorious, ominous, and majestic God is. Solemnity captures the heart and mind in reverence towards God. I lit a candle and went into one of the side prayer gates and prayed. My heart was heavy that day.

We traveled back to London that night exhausted and went back to our rooms to find we were rooming with more Germans! Oh I didn’t mention, that every night at the “Ritz” we were always paired up with Germans. It was pretty cool…Anyways, we slept in the next day and then went to “St. Arbucks” to pay our tribute to the American saint. Coffee actually wasn’t too expensive there as it is in Germany. I think it is because there is a St. Arbucks on every corner where as in Hamburg, there are two. That day we went to see “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. The play was absolutely incredible!! The actors were dead on in their timing and downright hilarious. They were familiar with all the little nuances of particularly their characters and in general the way Shakespeare meant this play to go. Fantastic! Had me laughing so hard I was crying. I am so glad we went to the play. I will never forget it.
That night we went to a Tex-Mex restaurant because I have been craving Mexican food forever and I was desparate. The lady assured me it was authentic. I first ordered a pina colada and guess what ?? It came out on the rocks! I couldn’t believe it. I sent it back to be blended. Who ever heard of a pina colada not being frozen?? The food was definitely like eating Mexican food up north. Yankee Mexican food. It was supposed to be enchiladas, beans, and rice. It was tortilla with cheese--no sauce, ranch beans, and yellow rice. AHHHH!! And it was 20 pounds all together which is $40 American. No bueno. Most expensive non-Mexican, Mexican food I have ever had. The lady asked me how it compared because I she knew I was from Texas. I was nice, but honest and told her it was nothing like it at all. She tried to justify it, but I just smiled and said it wasn’t. I think she felt horrible, because the bartender came by with the bill and two free shots. Nothing in Europe is free, so she must have thought we were going to stiff her. For the record we didn’t. It’s not her fault the food isn’t real. I waited tables way too long to do that to any waiter.

Friday, we went to the Tate Modern and Westminster. They were both great. I enjoyed looking at the line of Kings and Queens and reading some of the Latin. I was impressed on this trip with my language skills that because of learning four Latin based languages, I was understanding a good bit of the Latin inscriptions. Later on that night we celebrated with Nathan and this French girl at a little Italian restaurant down the way from the “Ritz”. We said adieu and went to bed early (12) because we had to get up at 3 to catch our flight. We woke up early that morning, checked out, took a cab to the train station, took a train all the way out to Stanstead Airport. We got in line to check in for our flight. (You can only check in online if you are an EU citizen. They are very seclusionistic like that over here. All about the EU. Kind of creepy...) Anyways, after waiting for some time and the line not moving, they closed down our flight for check in. We talked to the people and they wouldn’t check us in, even though we had been there for quite some time. They sent us to the ticket counter. We still had plenty of time to get on the plane, but all the people we talked to were rude and called us liars saying their was no way we were at the right check in desk and they always give last calls, yadda yadda. They didn’t have a flight until Monday and they wanted US to pay extra for it. I was so angry at this point I was laughing. No one had any flights for us and we needed to be home to work. The only flight was with AirBerlin for 189 pounds!!! That is $400 U.S. dollars. AHHH!! We ended up taking the train back into the city, the tube to Kings Cross and taking the Chunnel to Brussels, the train to Cologne, then the Deutsch Bahn to Hamburg, and arriving in Hamburg 14 hours later and out €230 each. A complete nightmare. Needless to say I wrote a letter to Ryanair yesterday demanding a refund for our extra expenses home. Hopefully they will grant it. I am trying to rest in the whole God knows better and is sovereign over everything. The only thing I could think of is that because they don’t check passports on trains, maybe this was His way of smuggling us back into Germany. I don’t know, but it was quite frustrating to end our trip that way. But I was definitely glad to be home. I unpacked, did laundry, and took a long hot shower.

All in all, it was a great trip, a great experience, and I think I might study a semester in Bath.



5.05.2008

Life is like a flower in blume

Adena

Two Germans, a Brit, and a Ukrainian playing Baseball. Yes that is a beer bottle for a bat!


Life has been incredibly wonderful the last few weeks. Let me re-phrase that the weather has been perfectly wonderful the last few weeks; and it makes all the difference. I woke up one day and Spring had arrived right under our noses. It had been warm already for 5 days and I was sitting on a bench waiting to take Charli home from school as I looked up and gazed upon the most beautiful cherry blossom tree I have ever seen. The moment felt like out of a movie as time seemed to stand still and I soaked in the beauty and glory of the fuchsia stained blossoms hanging in graceful splendor. Something within my heart just sighs and says yes this is what home feels like. This is what rest feels like. Winter is gone. I can breath with ease once again.

I never thought I would utter or write this phrase, but I miss Texas weather or summer that is. All of you (y’all) in Texas are ready to stone me right now, but it is absolutely true. Hamburg is finally warm, everything has come to life, and the sun is shining for more than a couple of hours in a week. The sun brings back memories that are imbedded to my soul. I listen to familiar music while the sun shines into my window and I can’t help but think about times of jamming out in my car to music while the sun poured in. Or feeling the sun on the back of my neck, a cool breeze rushing by as I watch my kids play in the backyard and the gardener tending the ground; it makes me miss my garden. I even dreamt about my roses last night. I even miss digging in the ground in 100 degree weather because I was determined to plant my roses when I wanted. I know these feelings are nuts, but I lived in Texas for 22 years; however, I never thought I would end up back in Texas, but I feel it calling me home sometimes.

Back to the weather in Hamburg. I truly believe the weather has an extreme influence over people. I watch people come our of their ruts and turn into truly charming people all because the sun has come out. Studies have shown that it doesn’t make a difference chemically to the levels of serotonin in your brain, but I believe behavior analysis would beg to differ. My own experience of observing people and interacting with them in every day life has proven otherwise. I also feel as if I appreciate Spring so much more because it was so nasty for so long, so dreary and dull. As if I didn’t struggle with depression enough without any help. FYI: I am actually doing well as far as depression is concerned.

It also appears like spring in the way events in my life have turned. I didn’t have any friends for so long and it was quite a bit lonely. Then I started going to church and started learning the language better and suddenly things started to progress. Before I knew it I was speaking German and I was busy almost every free day of the week with a social engagement getting to know the hearts of the people I am surrounded with. My life is blooming here. I feel at home at IBC (International Baptist Church). No it’s not my specific cup of tea, but this is where God has me and I love the people. Ministry is beginning to evolve for me here and a desire to see God move amongst the people in Hamburg is strong. I love watching all the different cultures in the church as well. I went to my first International wedding on Saturday and I so didn’t know the people! Everyone was invited and said to come even though I didn’t know them, that it would be a good experience. A German woman married an Indian man. It was a great ceremony.

Check this out. I was in the Stadt Park last Sunday with the Young Adults Group from church. The weather was amazing, the park was beautiful, we were grilling some bratwurst--which is actually really good, and drinking some beer--like every other German! The best part of it was when a couple of people turned an empty beer bottle and a hackey sack into a game of baseball. As the game grew into teams, they realized they didn’t know the rules and so being the good ‘ole American they asked me, so I taught them baseball. I love it! In a park with people from all around the world we played baseball with a beer bottle and a hackey sack switching between English and German with many moments of mix-ups between languages that can only be appreciated by those who have been in such a mixed company. When else can one appreciate when a man from Ghana utters, “Why are we leaving guys? It’s so hell outside.” Hell is the German word for light. So awesome!

This past Thursday was Mai Tag/Vater Tag/Himmel (May Day, Father’s Day, Ascension). All having many purposes for this day. Everyone was off work. Mai tag is a day for workers to have a free day. I had this day off J . Father’s Day is supposedly a celebration of fathers, but all I saw at the Schlosspark (castle) in Reinbek, were a bunch of young kids getting drunk “celebrating” their fathers. I asked them where their dads actually were, and they were like “uh..nach house” (at home). So it is basically an excuse to get drunk; hence the neo-Nazi rallies in downtown Hamburg. Apparently it made the world wide news. I am just waiting for a phone call from my family saying my grandma saw it and says to come home right now. The last reason for the day is celebrating the ascension of Christ into the Heavens (himmel). From what I saw, the day was pretty much a day of kids getting drunk and starting fights with each other. After two hours I was pretty bored with it even though it was gorgeous at the park. So that is father’s day! Every youths dream.

I am heading to London on Thursday. Please pray for safe travels for Adena and me and pray God gives us wisdom and discernment. Neither of us have been there before. We are traveling the hostel route and by train. We are spending five days in London, a day in Bath, a day in Edinburgh, and a day in York. I keep having dreams of getting mugged. Maybe a little paranoia, but prayer never hurts. J …

I feel like so much has happened that I can’t write it all. Please keep in touch and send me email, mail, whatever form of communication is best for you. I miss you guys.

Love,Caroline








Breakfast of Champions- Nutella on a sesame brotchen.

Die Alster- Downtown Hamburg

Downtown- This is my view on the way to school everyday! It's a hard life.

If you look close enough, the bridge is actually the railway I take everyday.

4.26.2008

What a crazy Friday!

Oh last Friday, what an exciting crazy filled day. I should have taken the hint from nearly being attacked by a wild pig it was going to be a crazy day.

Yes, I said it. I was nearly attacked by a wild pig. Let me first paint a picture of where I live. Wohltorf is a small town East of Hamburg just south of the river Elbe. In fact it runs right up to our property, I could put my feet in it. Wohltorf is one of those small quiet towns that appear to have nothing happen to it. It’s like Noonday, Texas, nothing happens to this beautiful little lakeside community. Wohltorf is actually the second richest city in Germany to live in--yea I picked ‘em good huh?

So in my sleepy little town that doesn’t have its own post office I went for a walk with our two dogs and the oldest daughter at 4 in the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day and the sun had finally come out after many months of hiding its face. We start out the gate with the dogs and I look to my left and watch the au pair next door letting the police come in. I call out “Alles klar?” Is everything alright? She shrugs that she doesn’t know what is going on. I just laughed because the mistress of that house is notorious for making up wild stories from a tiny portion of truth.
Emily and I headed behind our house where there are many lovely trails crossing over and along the Elbe. About twenty minutes into our walk a man calls out to us. We are at this point in the woods and not many people are around and he looks desperate, but not in a harmful way. He asks, all in German, if we had seen a young man in a black jacket. We said no and told him the direction we had just come from. We run into him a little bit further down the path and he asks for the location of the school and the park. Apparently he was trying to find this young man because he had stolen something from one of our neighbors cars and ran through my next door neighbors backyard. Although a little creeped out by a thief running around, we proceeded ahead.

We turned the corner near the bahn overpass and unaware I kept continuing while Emily stands still and starts to freak out. I see the dogs run off to our left in the brush and begin to taunt this ugly looking beast of an animal. I had no idea what it was--I had never seen something so ugly in my life except on tv. It looked like the massive rodents from Princess Bride. I thought we should just walk away when Emily runs and climbs up a tree. I thought it was absurd and I told her to get down. She told me it was a wild schwein and they could out run us and would eat us. The best thing to do was to climb the tree. So climb the tree I did. I had the two dog leashes and a bag of candy in my hands as I shimmied up this tree to get out of the way of this wild schwein. Eddie came to the base of the tree and began to whine--he is just a 7 month old puppy who has an appetite for my shoes. He’s not the brightest. Easy- the 7 year old dog, begins to get bored and starts swimming in the river. We waited for 5 minutes and it finally had gone away.

We arrived safely at home scared, exhilarated, and with a wonderful story to tell to an over-protective mother, who actually received it with laughter. Our tiny town is not so innocent. There have been several deaths of people falling in the river--this last spring break an old lady of 92 fell in. The Russian mafia actually had a hit out for audi cars and Wohltorf was there main stealing ground. Not the sleepy pocket community of Hamburg as it appears.

Then later that night Adena, the old au pair Maia, and I went to the Reeperbahn, Hamburgs main club strip. I had forgotten that my book had wrote that was the wildest part of town. The street next to it is where you can pick out your prostitute of choice who is sitting in a window. We did not go on that street thankfully. Reeperbahn is like Vegas. Bright lights, loud music, and drunk people everywhere. That is one of the only times I have been insulted for being American. To get into the clubs you either have to pay or have a ticket to get in. People are standing in the pedestrian street picking and choosing who they want to come into the club. You make your way through and choose the best offer you want. Well people somehow knew we were English speakers and automatically started speaking English to us and asking us where we are from. Believe it or not my accent has a bit of a British slant to it because most of the English learnt here is British English. Well, this one guy asked us where we are from and I said the states. He threw his hands up in the air with an gasp of exasperation and walked off. He turned around and made gun noises and a gun gestures with his hands as if he was shooting everyone. Well I had been drinking and I was completely offended so I said “Oh how rude! You don’t even know me!” He then replied “well do you like Obama?” I said yea I do. Then he said “oh, well that makes up for it.”

People here can be really rude that way and they don’t separate the idea of people and the government being different. Sometimes I just want to say I am from South Africa, but many times I want to loudly start singing “And I am proud to be an American…” But I am not ready to get shot and die just yet, so I keep my mouth shut.

Anyways, that night was crazy. To make a long story short, and to not completely expose myself on the internet, Adena and I had a lot of fun, met some fellow southerners from the states, but we drank too much and made complete fools of ourselves. Consequently I have banned myself from the Reeperbahn. Das ist verboten fur mich.

Words of wisdom- don’t go to the Reeperbahn drunk.

4.17.2008

Crazy/Funny Things that have happened to me in Germany

*I got locked out on my birthday night and almost had to sleep outside in the freezing cold. That was not fun.

*I was stuck on the Bahn (train) for over 45 minutes one night because some drunk people were on the gleis (the tracks). The police were trying to talk them out of getting them off the tracks. I thought--if we were in Texas, they would have been tasered by now and thrown in jail.

*I was full body checked by an old lady the other day. ( I am not joking. People here don’t really care if you are walking, if you are in their way, they will move you. In grocery stores if you take to long checking out, or really are just standing in line, the person behind you nudges you oh so kindly in the back with their buggy.)

*I quite often see people drinking on the bahn--the craziest is when it is 8 in the morning!! How bad is your life if you are downing a couple of beers before you go to work/school. (They don’t have open container laws here in Germany, people walk around with bottles of vodka and drink from the container. Sometimes it’s a little scary at night when you are the only one on the train and it smells like alcohol before you get inside and there is only one other person….but this is Germany)

*The weather is totally nuts here! One minute rain, then sun, the hail, the sun, the sun and hail, then darkness, then sun and snow. This happened one day in March, it was totally nuts!! When this happens, everyone always says “Ah das ist Hamburg wetter. Komisch” and everyone knows exactly what they mean. I always expect too much out of the weather when it suns, it always disappoints and starts raining when I go outside. Sometimes I think a rain cloud follows me, lol.

*I went to a classical concert the other day with two friends. We saw the Cicinnatti Symphony Orchestra with world renowed pianist Nikolai Lugansky. He played one of the hardest concertos. It was incredible!! He played at the first half and played the most beautiful solo encore. The second half was the orchestra and they played three encores because Hamburgers are known for clapping forever long (yes, they are called Hamburgers J .) We clapped for like 10 minutes straight, my hand hurt so bad!

*The same day Adena and I were coming by train downtown to the Hauptbahnhof (central station) and everywhere we went we were getting hit on left and right. Men in our faces and chasing after us on the station. It was crazy. One pair of guys didn’t get the hint. They asked if we wanted to go dancing (in german of course) I said “Es tut mir leid, wir sprechen kein deutsch.” (Sorry, we don’t speak any German.) (I usually say this when I don’t want to talk to people J .) He kept persisting, saying really I don’t believe you ,come dancing with us. He would leave us be, so I told him “Bitter schon, gehe weg!” (Please, get away!) This is what you tell dogs and animals.

*When we were coming home it was worse, we were getting hit on in every language. I think it was because we were dressed really nice and they all were totally drunk. The soccer game was playing that day, fussball to be correct, and it is a big deal here. People get really drunk and violent… So my words of wisdom, when soccer is playing don’t leave your house.

*On a more fun note, I went to my first German barbecue a few weeks ago. My family has a second house in Jarnsen (small town on the way to Hannover) and there were hunters celebrating their hunting season and we were invited to the party. Adena was spending the weekend with my family and I at their house so we went. It was actually a lot of fun. A bunch of crazy woodsmen, who are actually really well off (financially and educationally), but they looked like the typical small country town German. They were very down to earth and very kind and friendly. They served wild schwein (wild boar) and deer, fabulous potatoe salad (different than our, but OOOhhh soo good!) There was plenty of beer to drink, which I really like German beer, and their were people going around with bottles of fruit liquor and shot glasses. There was a bonfire cooking, what else, but bread. Bread and butter are a staple here, Germans would die without it! The whole party was a lot of fun and the people were so nice to us. It felt like back home when I was a kid when my family used to barbecue all the time.

*Oh, I bought a Justin Timberlake cd for €5! Which is unheard of. I think it was a mistake because most of them were like €17, which is $25, but I grabbed the one from the €5 stack and it is the exact same cd. I thought what a great deal. So Adena and I have been jamming out in the pool to Justin.

4.06.2008

Ich war krank...I have been sick.

View outside my window one morning.



Lisa and Charli (respectively)

Bergedorf




I have been sick for the last week, so I have been slacking on my communications. Please don't be offended if I am lagging on writing you. I am horrible as it is and without a steady connection to the internet and being sick, I apologize.

Today I went to an English speaking church with Adena. It is an International Baptist Church (IBC). I really liked it--and I never thought I would say that about a baptist church! Yes, I know The Village is baptist, but it isn't really baptist. Not the East Texas Baptist churches I know. It is run by many people who immigrated from Africa, so you know it has soul! Afterwards they have lunch three of the four services a month and it was really good. We were also invited to this guys house for coffee afterwards with a bunch of people from the young adults group. It was really nice to meet people from all over who speak English and German and whatever other language. The young adults group meets on Tuesday nights for bible study and sometimes games. This works out perfectly for me because that is my night off during the week! Adena is going to come with me too which is amazing because she says church normally bores her and she isn't really religious at all. But she really enjoyed going to church with me and meeting everyone because they were so genuinely kind, warm, and inviting--quite a contrast from the people we meet randomly. This is what the body of Christ should be salt and light in a dark place, warmth where there is cold. It should be said of the body of Christ that they were the ones to whom someone who doesn't know Christ feels most accepted and loved, instead of the common comment, that I often heard at home, that wasn't the case from people who don't know Jesus.

I was riding the bahn (the train) and I just started laughing when I realized I have been trying to figure out what I am supposed to do with my life and trying to plan it out and position myself when God had just been doing it. All the time in counseling my counselor would ask me "What do you want to do with your life? What are you passionate about? What do you see yourself doing in ten years?" I never could point out anything specific, but I knew the things I would like it to involve. I would respond that I am passionate about people, specifically children. I feel like God has called me to missions, but I don't know what. I love English, but what on earth am I going to do with an English degree. I love to teach and I love to travel to other countries and learn other cultures. Umm, guess what I am doing? ( I laugh so hard when I realize this) I am an Au Pair in Germany---HELLOOOO!! I work with children every day. I am teaching them English and coming up with my own curriculum (it's so fun.) This is definately missional in sharing Christ in such a spiritually dark place. My home is my missions field in that I am called to serve them and show them the love of Christ in everything I do. The people I come in contact with everyday I am called to share Christ with. I am learning German steadily. The lady I work for said she was very impressed with how good my German is for only being here two months. So does this look like everything I am passionate about or what??

God totally has bigger dreams for me than I could ever imagine. I know this, but it is so funny to think that I am in Germany. There are still many days that I sit in awe thinking "How on earth did I get here??" I had no dream or desire to be here, but God obviously did. I don't know what this year holds for me, but I have no doubt of the sovereignty of God in all of it. He planned this all so perfectly--I didn't see it coming. My heart is overwhelmed with God and humbled that he so intimately writes my story and cares to weave my passions into His great plan. It gives me hope after three years of giving up all my dreams and taking up His. It makes me hope even more. That is the crazy thing of being here, I am filled with so much hope-- for things back home and for what God is going to do in my life and through my life. He will not be silent.

I am also writing a whole lot more before and I feel like God has been revealing so much of Himself to me it is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. I don't know what I am to do with all the writing. I might put it on here as installments. I might send it out to close friends for critique and introspection. I don't know, but I don't feel like it is to be kept to myself.

Over and over again I am so amazed at how God doesn't let me go and still comes after me when I am so foolish enough to chase after my idols. Even though He rescued me once again the week before. My heart is an idol maker and when I don't come to God first to satisfy my heart, doubt crowds in and lies to me, telling me this idol or that idol will satisfy, go ahead and try it. God has been so gracious in rescuing me, even if it is making me sick for a week with the flu. Sometimes I am waiting for Him to say "Caroline, really, again? Have we not been through this all before. I am sorry, you are just going to have to learn the hard way. You have had too many chances." This could be further than what He says. He greets me with "Welcome home! I am so glad to see you again. What do you want to talk about today. No, stop. What are you doing? There is no need for penance. My son's got you covered. Shall we take a walk? The sun is acutally out in Hamburg today and it is quite lovely if I say so myself."---nothing but kindness and love changing my heart to desire Him more than anything else.

Since I have been here I have been struggling with over eating. I wasn't really sure why, but I just never seem satisfied when I ate and always had this fear of starving. --I know ridiculous seeing as I am living with really rich people why should I be starving? I was reading the other day and a light bulb dawned on me. I wrote this about it:

"I have been thinking about my eating disorder. I have a problem wtih eating too much food, eating it too fast, and never feeling satisfied, but overstuffed. I was reading The Wounded Heart and listening to the cds and I began to wonder about this. There was a phrase thaqt caught my attention. Living life on one's own terms is an attempt to avoid relationship with God. The violation of trust and intimacy inflames the determination to live without the pain of unmet longings--and thus live without the raging thirst of a soul that pants for God alone.

The last phrase struck something in me regarding my struggle with eating. My eating so fast is a refusing to feel any hunger. I demand to be full and satisfied. It refuses to acknowledge my need for God to satisfy me alone. I think I need to practice fasting and learn what it feels like to hunger for God. This isn't really a horizontal issue, but rather a vertical one. It is a desire to avoid the reality that we are not home and the peace of Eden has been broken. It also is a lack of hope in God fulfilling all my desires and needs-- not trusting Him once again. So it is great news that I am sick. I believe God to be sovereign in it, to teach my stomach to be empty, but really my heart to hunger for Him alone.".....

It was snowing last week and it was glorious! I will put some picutres on. My girls are so cute.
These are my rambled thoughts. I hope they find you well.

3.23.2008

Today's Revelation

I was reading and praying today and this is what I journaled.

"I think I finally understand what it means when in the scriptures people began to praise God for being persecuted and were thankful for it. I believe it means they were thankful that Christ was so evident in their life and actions and that is why people hated them. They were thankful also that Christ was glorified through them.

It makes sense. If you don't have Christ, your heart is hard and cold. Those who are following Christ give out warmth with their kindness. Those who are bent on hating God or determined to do life on their own terms feel that pull of kindness begin to melt their heart, but it is felt as an affliction and threat. It goes against their self-seeking self-preservation.

Therefore a natural response is to bite the head off of the person who is kind and invites them into God's rest through their kindness.

So rejoice! God is working in and through you. It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. Persevere and do not repay evil with evil. Pour heaping coals of kindness on their heads.

Lord give me strength. Comfort me. Guide me.
Make a way that you want me to go.
I am done doing it my way.
Over and over I surrender my way to you.
I want yours."

I keep reminding myself that I am here to serve and love people. Just as Christ, King of EVERYTHING, humbled himself and became human and laid down His life willingly. He came to serve others--not to be served.

I also keep remembering Hebrews 12 where it talks about for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the Cross, scorning its shame.

I just so happened in my reading yesterday in Matthew to end up on the Lord's supper, Christ's cruxifiction and resurrection. As I read about Jesus's betrayal, the words stuck out to me where Jesus said it had to be this way fulfilling the scriptures. Something in it made my heart sad in His betrayal, in that God chose it this way.

That is amazing to me.

We all have experienced some sort of betrayal, but for those who it has peirced so deeply the heart, there is something that screams out from within "Why would you choose this!! How horrible!" But Christ was so in love with the Father and trusted Him more than his feelings, desire, and comfort that He chose God's way. This amazes me.

I find that being here my thinking is on over-drive and I am left often to my thoughts. Many things I have finally begun to understand. Like a veil has been pulled of my eyes.

This is what God is doing in my life. Stripping everything away. Making me dependent on Him.

It is glorious and utterly frightening all at once.

3.21.2008

It's About Time

I know I know. It has been long awaited for me to begin this blog. Here it is and I hope it will live up to your expectation. Internet here in Germany has been difficult for me. I don't have it in my house yet and so I have been using cafe's or my friend's computer....

Life in Germany...I have been here for 6 weeks now and I feel like I am finally adjusting to the schedule of my family and getting down how things should work. You would think it shouldn't be so difficult because the tasks are the same as the US, such as ironing, cooking, laundry, etc. However, they are not. I feel as if I am having to learn everything all over again like a child. But I can say I continuing to learn in abundance humility in this whole process.

I am a nanny for three kids ages 4, 6, and 9. They are all girls. My schedule is pretty simple and set forward. Wake up and have the table set for 6:30 in the morning. Yes I said 6:30 AM. Then get the girls ready for school. The eldest girl takes the train to Bergedorf at 7:10. The younger girls I get ready and the 6 year old, we do an english lesson for half an hour and then go to school at 8. I come home or go to my language class. I start up again picking the girls up at 12:30 or 1 o'clock depending on the day. Then we eat, have an English lesson with the eldest, and then whatever activity I have to take them to by BIKE or walk to the train. Yes I walk everywhere or ride a bike. I wasn't so keen on it at first, but now I am really beginning to enjoy it. It is exercise built into my day and I don't have to take time out for it! ..Anyways, we eat at 5:30 a typical German dinner of bread and butter, some kind of sandwhich meat, and cheese. Everything we buy in our house is high quality and very fresh. I really like it...The girls go to bed around 6:30 and the oldest at 8. Then I am done for the day and have my weekends off. I also have one day of the week off minus mornings, and a partial afternoon off.....This is my schedule and it doesn't really change much.

On the weekends I spend by myself or at my one friends house who is an au pair in the town next to me. We met at language class (sprachcourse). My life is kind of boring at this point in time. Well, maybe not boring, but rather lonely. I don't know a lot of people so it is hard finding something to do. I have been reading and writing a lot and I have rather enjoyed it. I am not fluent in German and so it is a bit difficult trying to meet people who can't really understand you or don't want to try. I have met some people at my friend's house because they have older kids and it is party central at their massive house. Many of the people spoke English, but they are around 18 years old and after awhile I find I don't have much to talk to them about.

I have gone shopping downtown in Hamburg and I have planned a trip to London in May. My friend and I are going for 9 days, mostly in London and surrounding areas, and a day in Edinburgh and a day in York. I am very excited about this trip. I felt very grown up in booking these trips all by ourselves. That is one thing I definately have felt with the move to Germany and being here--grown up. Adult. I am 22 years old and the last four years I have spent feeling undeserving of the title grown up, adult. I felt like an imposter. I don't anymore.

I am finished writting for now. I will post pictures later and some of my journalings. They are much more insightful than this moment.

I hope this finds you well.