Autumn 2012

Autumn 2012 flew by.  As soon as we were settled into our home, Gregory and I both continued in language school.  And then October brought us our big news: a June baby!  With lots of illness for me during the first trimester, we simply survived each month, especially late October through early January.  Here are a few pictures from September through Christmas.

We discovered the local water park!

Nathanael's first chocolate chip cookies!

 Saturday morning pancakes!
 A Simit date with Mom after a stop at the local market
Cuddling with his animals
Fun in the sand on a chilly autumn day
Mom made a big mistake on his haircut, accidentally had the guard on its lowest setting!
Helping make dinner, showing Dad that he gets to wash the brocolli
Lunch and books on the balcony (with Mr. Bear, of course)
A BK date with Mom
Our news (which we made known around December 8th)!
Probably his last sandbox fun for the season
A family hike near the Lainzer Tiergarten
Winter has arrived.
Winter colds
Nathanael earned an ice cream cone for good behavior!
Our church small group, minus one
We decorated the American way, right after Thanksgiving!  (We also hosted some Austrian/German friends for a big Thanksgiving dinner, but sadly, we forgot to take pictures.)


July/August Photos, Waiting and Moving

July and August were full of craziness, with waiting on our apartment, preparing it, waiting on our container, and unloading and unpacking.  My parents came to assist, for which we're forever grateful.  And by the end of August, we were home.  Here are random pictures from those two months.

Gregory and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary at the end of July.  We had another family staying with us (in our host's home), and they took care of Nathanael while we visited a Heuriger.

Nathanael's first very own highchair (evidence of our transitional first two years of his life)
Playing in the sprinkler on some very hot days (at our host's home)

Playing in our empty apartment; I think Gregory and my dad had been working on furniture assembly this day, and Mom and I came to visit and play.
Fun times with the grandparents and attempting to see a little bit of Vienna, in the midst of the moving chaos

The container arrives!
 One of our first evenings in our apartment, the view from our balcony
 While Gregory and I unpacked, drilled in the walls, and hung light fixtures, Grandma kept Nathanael busy at all the neighborhood parks!

We also discovered the Wienerberg, a large park near us with a very large pond. It almost feels like we're out in the country somewhere!


A New Home, A New Season

We've made it.  Finally, we are in our home.  I am tempted to detail for you all the incredible blessings God has poured out along the way, but the list is simply too long.  We are amazed at God's perfect provision, His abundant goodness, and His all-encompassing wisdom.  Only He knows our needs; only He sees and forms a bigger picture that ensures His ultimate glory.  We are so thankful for His sovereignty.  We are so thankful that we are finally in our new home in Vienna.  We trust He doing many great things in our being here, both in our lives and in others.

Tomorrow begins a new season for us.  I love beginnings.  And appropriately, our church here is beginning a week-long study of Genesis together.  I am beginning a new Bible reading plan through the ESV Study Bible.  We are beginning / returning-to full-time German studies.  And we are hopefully beginning to rest more as well.  The pace of our last two months of moving has not been sustainable, and we are ready to reclaim our well-being.

I love how God speaks about newness in our lives.  He says that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation.  The old has passed away; the new reconciled life has come.  (2 Cor 5:17) And His mercies in our lives are new every morning, according to His great faithfulness.  (Lam 3)  He speaks of doing a new thing, to refresh His people, in a way that only He can bring about, as making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  (Isa 43)

I am thrilled to be on this side of our move.  Oh that we would continue to honor God in our living here, just as we have sought to honor Him in our waiting to live here.  Only He can lead us in doing so.  Be glorified, Jesus.

(I promise to work on taking pictures and/or a video of our home to post soon!)


Choosing Contentment or Complaint?

The past month or so, at the recommendation of a like-hearted friend who recently moved with her family to Spain, I picked up Elisabeth Elliot's book, Keep a Quiet Heart.  What a blessing this has been to read and pray over in the mornings.  I feel as if I am sitting across the table from a wise and godly woman who is not afraid to say difficult things to me.  And I am so thankful for the mentor she is to me right now.

One key area that God has used her words to encourage me is in the area of contentment, as opposed to complaining.  God had been prompting me to choose to be content with our last few weeks in the home we're in, before moving into our apartment in August (which He abundantly showed us at the beginning of July!).  I began praying regularly towards this, and the Spirit has clearly checked my attitude and corrected me when I would begin to give in to discontentment and/or a poor perspective of this waiting time.

Mrs. Elliot brought my attention to a few verses to this end that have consistently been an encouragement in my life.  I am so grateful.

Verses like these from Psalm 73, "You hold me by my right hand... There is nothing on earth that I desire besides You... God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever...  But for me, the nearness of God is my good..."  And these from Psalm 16, "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, You have made my lot secure... The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance... I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices... You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." 

And then some that took on new meaning, like James 1:2 (Phillips' translation), "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders but welcome them as friends."  And Matthew 16:25, "Whoever loses his life for Me will find it."

Speaking with both Gregory and a friend last week, I was telling them how God has been leading me to proactively resist the temptation to complain.  We're still in the honeymoon phase of culture shock.  The differences are fascinating and intriguing and even quaint.  Soon, I know, some of these differences will become sore, glaring, unwelcome reminders that, "I am a foreigner here," and I so deeply want to honor God in the midst of those feelings.  I want to choose to be content in what He has given, to rejoice in these trials and even thank Him for them, not to give in to complaint and discontentment.  I believe that our God is good, and that in Him, I have great grounds for rejoicing.  I long to choose to do just that.

At the inspiration of two others who have done this before, I accepted a challenge to 14 days of absolutely no complaining.  Though cracked and broken, I believe the Spirit is bringing about beautiful, everlasting fruit in this pot of clay.


June in Vienna

After over a year of praying for our residence permits, God responded clearly.  Here we are holding our 2012 permits.  We get to stay!!!
Nathanael has a hand and mouth full of snacks in that picture, the only way we could get him to look at the camera and hold his permit! :)

Nathanael and I love the mornings when we get to be with our friends.  Here are a few pictures from our outings.
Sunday morning fun at church

Our twice monthly Moms and Tots group at church just had our final meeting last week.  We went to the zoo!!!  Nathanael loved watching the tall giraffes eat from a hanging basket.
 I can't believe I caught this photo before they were off and running around some more.

We love to get away to parks, and that's quite easy to do in this city.  They're everywhere!  Here we are in Prater, one of our favorites, just after a rain.  Nathanael wanted to jump in every puddle.  We stripped him down in the middle of the park and changed his clothes before heading home. 

For a holiday, we took a day/morning trip just over an hour to the Vienna Woods, hills overlooking the city.  Here's a picture looking down on our new home, most notable here, the Danube and the tall buildings on the left around the UN.

I hosted my first afternoon coffee a couple weekends ago.  I made a special Austrian, orange-flavored cake, and it was magnificent!  (I ate way too much of it...)  We had a wonderful time with our friends, and they were so incredibly patient with us and our minimal German.

We're still looking for the right apartment.  One Saturday morning when we were walking around the neighborhood praying, we ran into a festival for our district, held in the square with the huge church in the area (picture below).  There were tons of Turkish cultural tables there, and it was fun to experience all the Turkish food, flags, music. and people right in the neighborhood where we'll live.

Austria is a grilling culture.  We love it.  We finally bought some coals and used our hosts' grill to indulge in some delicious Viennese wursts!  Oh my, they were good.  Nathanael ate two entire hot dogs and was asking for more!  And with the hot weather recently, it was nice to keep the cooking outdoors.