Sunday, June 29, 2008

Onondaga Cave

So these are perhaps not the best photos. . . okay, so not even GOOD photos. :) But the cave was truly amazing! The photos do not do justice to God's amazing creation. We all enjoyed it, even Isaac, and he can be hard to please. It was nice and cool in the cave (I think they said 57 degrees), so it was a pleasant break from the heat outside. If you have not yet been here before, I would encourage you to go. Thanks Adam for the suggestion! It was a very Missouri experience for our Norwegian friends. ;)

Floating with the Staurlands

The Current River
Rebecca, Jofrid, Bjorn, and Andreas

Isaac the Joyful

Elizabeth the Beautiful

Ezekiel the Diligent

Andrew the Strong (or is it the Strange?)

Floating Buddies

St. Louis

Our dear friends from Norway, the Staurlands, have been visiting us this past week. We picked them up in St. Louis on Monday, and took them up in the Arch that evening. As you can see, the Mississippi River was quite high! We normally park below those street lights, on some cobblestones, when we go to the arch. Not this time!

Zeke, Andres (behind Zeke's head), Rebecca, and Bjorn on the way up!

St. Louis from the sky

Hardcore piggy-back ride. Abby and I were wondering if we could hop on as well. . .

We stayed at a hotel in St. Louis that night, and then went to Grant's Farm in the morning. The Clydesdale's were beautiful -- so huge though, I would be quite afraid to ride one! The kids really enjoyed walking around and looking at the different animals. It rained on us for about 15 minutes, and most of the people at the farm decided to leave. We waited it out, and enjoyed a relatively empty park for the rest of the afternoon. :)Zeke, Abby, and Rebecca

Camel and Zeke -- he was far braver than I!

Elizabeth feeding the Camel, with assistance from Andy.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Hope and Trust is in Thee

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You."
~ Psalm 33:20-22

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 4:6-7

"All my longings lie open before You, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You. I wait for You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God."
~ Psalm 38:9,15

"The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him. "
~ Psalm 145:18,19

Friday, June 27, 2008


For a long time, the title of my blog has been bothering me. It was over on the sidebar, and I could not figure out how to get it centered! Well, today I took a deep breath, and entered a very scary world by clicking on the "edit HTML" button. I almost gave up, but at last. . . success! My blog title is now centered, and I even went an extra step by discovering how to make it span across the entire page, rather than just over the posts! Needless to say (and although this may not be a very Christian attitude), I am very, very proud of myself. :) However, there was one thing I couldn't figure out. Although I have maxed out the time-I-can-spend-in-front-of-a-computer-screen for today, I would appreciate comments on this post for the next time I sit down to fiddle around with my blog layout. So for those of you who understand this whole blog business, here is my dilemma: I want to get rid of the gap between my posts and my (newly centered) title. As you can see, the sidebar items come right up under the header, but for some reason there is a huge gap in the main section. This is driving my symmetrical mind insane! Any clues on how to get rid of that?

-Becky, the aspiring computer genius (not!)

In Humility . . . .

Philippians 2: 3-4
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

I've read these verses many times, and each time something new jumps out at me. Today it was this command to humbly consider others better than yourself. Now if I were to do a self-evaluation in this area, I'd say that I'm doing a pretty good job. I'm very aware of the needs of those around me, and normally I do all I can to meeting those needs. However, as I specifically looked at the past few days, I realized that somehow my siblings hadn't made it into the "others" category. I had kind of forgotten about them, shoved them to the back of my conscience. :) And yet, they are the people I interact with the most! I definitely do not treat them as better than myself -- normally I don't even treat them as equals! Rather, through criticism and bossiness, I act as though I am "above" them, and don't act in a very humble way. If Jesus were saying this verse directly to me, I imagine it'd be something like this:

Becky, stop correcting, criticizing, and bossing your siblings around to make yourself look more grown up or responsible! You need to treat them with the utmost respect -- with humility, and a servant-like attitude, considering them not only equal, but better than yourself. Do you have any doubt that this is what I would do? Join them in doing what they enjoy, and show genuine interest in their activities and talents.

I often wonder why it's hard to get along with my siblings, why we seem to have conflicts about every little thing. It brings to mind something my parents have always told us - it takes two to make an argument! I am so tempted to just blame them for any problems in our relationship. But then, I have to realize that I'm not treating them in the way God has commanded me to treat them. And going against His will is going to get me absolutely no where. Kind of like trying to row upstream! This passage goes on to say:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life . . . " vs. 14-16a

This gives me the motivation for treating my siblings with humility. Not only am I obeying God, but I am shining like a star in the heavens -- what better testimony is there, in this world driven by self-gratification, than to give up my "rights" for others? And what better gift to give them than the "word of life"?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee"

If thou but suffer God to guide thee and hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee, and bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God's unchanging love
builds on the Rock that naught can move.

What can these anxious cares avail thee, these never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee o'er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
the heavier for our bitterness.

Be patient and await His leisure in cheerful hope, with heart content
to take whate'er thy Father's pleasure and His discerning love hath sent.
No doubt our inmost wants are known
to Him who chose us for His own.

God knows full well when times of gladness shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness and from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
and makes thee own His loving care.

Nor think amid the fiery trial that God hath cast thee off unheard,
that he whose hopes meet no denial must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
and sets a bound to everything.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving, perform thy duties faithfully,
and trust His Word, though undeserving, thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
the soul that trusted Him indeed.

"Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." -- Psalm 55:22

Hymn #518, The Lutheran Hymnal - By George Neumark

Friday, June 20, 2008

California Trip!

Trips to Starbucks -5 (I'm not even telling you how much that cost. . . )
Friendships renewed - far to many to count!
Nights spent -6
Malls visited -2
Movies watched - 6
Beaches visited- 3
Flight time - about 8 hours . . .

Memories and time spent with old friends - Priceless
Okay, so that was corny. :D But anyways. . . our trip to California was wonderful. We left on Thursday, mid-day and arrived in the afternoon. We got to spend that evening with our "forever friends", the Brewers. They have a beautiful home, and sure understand the meaning of hospitality! We ordered some amazing Mexican food, and Mrs. Brewer and Julianna made us some amazing guacamole. Hmmmm. . . yummie. Julianna, Elysia, and I all slept in the same bed, reminicsent of old times. ;) I found however that it was a little tighter than when we were young.
Mum and Mrs. Brewer

Friday morning, Andy and I went to the pool with the kids, and then after lunch we all took off for San Pedro. When we got to San Pedro, we headed to Ben's house to freshen up and get dressed for the banquet and graduation. We arrived at the banquet just in time, and saw so many people from the "olden days". As always, many "oh you've grown up so much" and "you're so tall!", etc. The banquet was wonderful. I got to sit by my good friend Chelsea, and see many of my old teachers and classmates.
Me and Chelsea
Kindergarten Class of '08

Andy and Me
Andy figured out that Mum was trying to take a picture. :)

The four faithful staff members -- Mrs. Hobby, Kindergarten teacher; Mrs. Baine, Monitor; Mrs. Wallmark, Supervisor; and Mrs. Csiha "Office Lady"

After the banquet we went to the church for graduation. There were four graduates, all girls - Sarah, Chelsea, Noel, and Ashley. It was the class I would have graduated with, had we not moved away, so they were friends of mine. Dad spoke, mostly about how we need to carry on the support of families and family values despite the fact that the school would be no more. It was a bittersweet ocassion - many fond memories were made at the school, and it was hard to be there when it ended. But God was present, and to see His hand throughout this season of life was such a blessing.

Once the graduation was over, we joined the Hobbys in celebrating at their home. I spent the night their at their home, and surprisingly, Chelsea and I didn't stay up too late talking. . . we were both pretty worn out!

Chelsea and me with our Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Rich.
Me and Andy with our first grade teacher, Ms. Wright

Andy and me with our teachers for elementary school, middle school, and junior high: Mrs. Wallmark and Mrs. Guerrero

Dad and Mum with one of the graduates, Sarah Csiha
Saturday, the next morning, Chelsea's uncle took us to breakfast at the San Pedro Diner - amazing food. We met up with Mum and Dad at Hobbys' house after that, and then Mum, Dad, and I drove around the Peninsula, seeing our old house, driving down the switch-backs, and going by Andy's baseball fields. It was wonderful to see all the old places, and although it was somewhat overcast, the coast was beautiful. We picked up Andy at the beach (he had been doing surf camp with our old youth group), and drove to Long Beach for our friend Zach's graduation party.

Driving along the coastOne of Andy's ball fields -- and yes, it has a view of the coast and is surrounded by multi-million dollar homes.

The Beach

There weren't many people we knew at the party, aside from our Zach and the Mabrys(his family). It was nice to see them and catch up a little. For some reason, I didn't get to see them last time we were out, so it had been 3 years. I was quite disappointed to find all Ben, Luke, and Zach taller then me. :) Seeing these people, who I remember as children, all grown up makes me feel quite old.
From there we drove a short way to the home of our old friends, the Bogiches. They remodeled their house since we were there last, doubling it in size, so that was quite different. Hannah and John also seemed all grown up, which didn't surprise me, but made me feel all the older. ;)
Andy, John, Hannah, and Me

Dad, Mum, Mrs. Bogich, and Mr. Bogich

Then, after a quick visit with them, we rushed back to Pedro and met up with our good friends, Amanda and David for a show. Amanda hadn't told us what it was, so we were quite surprised to arrive at a theater, and be handed tickets for the Golden State Pops Orchestra! They were doing a tribute to fathers in honor of Father's Day, so we got to hear music from the soundtracks of "guy movies" -- Indiana Jones theme song, Jurassic Park, the Godfather, Back to the Future, Rudy, Gladiator, etc. I had never been to see an orchestra live like that, and it was a perfect evening. . . very relaxing after having been running around all day. After that Amanda took us to Starbucks, where she worked, and introduced us to her co-workers (one of which Andy went to Kindergarten with - she commented on how tall he'd gotten. lol). Then she took us both to our respective "homes" and said goodnight.

A dark view of the orchestra. . . the conductor was like 75 or 80 years old. Quite amazing really

Sunday, we went to church in the morning. Wow, that was awesome. The service was a tribute to the school, and many people stood up and reminisced during the time set aside for sharing. It was wonderful to hear the memories and ways people were blessed through TLS. Before the service, our friend Maria had acquired some of the school uniforms, so Andy and I put those on, and got a few laughs from people in church. :) I never thought I'd voluntarily put on one of those uniforms! And believe me, it came off as soon as I felt it had served its purpose. Luther Nelson released 34 (or 35) doves, one for each year of the school. There was a reception after the service, and old pictures and trophies from the school were set out. Many memories and people from the past. . . very good times.

The front of the sanctuary

Maria, Philip, Andy, me, Sarah, and Noel in our school uniforms

Releasing the dovesWe went to lunch with our good friend Ben, his son Mike, and our grandparents who were also visiting for the graduation. Hmmm, Acapulco. . . best Mexican restaurant in the world - enough said. Then to see the Wallmarks - Mrs. Wallmark was our teacher throughout elementary, middle school, and junior high, so many memories came back with that visit. Mr. Wallmark has brain cancer (I think that's what it is), and is on chemo, feeling awful about 100% of the time. We prayed for him, and saw him smile, which made the whole visit seem more than worth it.

Onto the beach that afternoon!! We had a bonfire at which many old friend from TLS came to hang out. We played volleyball on the beach, ate hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, and just sat around catching up. It was a wonderful time, many thanks to Nicky for arranging it!

A group from the bonfire - this wasn't everyone who came, but all the people who were there at the time someone had a camera out. ;)

Late that evening, we headed to the Rothlisbergers' home. Many, man memories there . . . Mrs. R had kindly filled the the M&M jar for us, although I was sad to see our old Garfield mugs gone. ;) They were kind enough to stay up and visit with us till around 11. We slept well that night to say the least!

Monday -- we all drove to the airport. There we met up with the Brewers, and said goodbye to Mum, Dad and Andy. The Brewers and I spent that afternoon at the mall, walking and talking, and just enjoying life. :) The kids all had piano lessons, so Julianna and I watched a movie on her laptop. Then we went back to their house, picking up dinner at (where else?) Taco Bell on the way. Julianna and I stayed up late . . . ummm I think till about 5. ;) It was so wonderful to have that time alone to catch up on life. "Forever friends" are truly a gift from God.

Saying goodbye to the Hobbys -- Chelsea, Andy, Mum, Dad, and Mrs. Hobby

Andy and his buddy, Simeon

Andy, Julianna, Elysia, Simeon, Micayla, and me. Simeon burped at the exact moment the photo was taken. It was perfect timing, truly amazing. He is Andy's hero I think.

This is me, goofing off at the mall. Julianna and Elysia put together an outfit for me to wear. . . skinny jeans and all. I felt very California for all of about 25 seconds. :)

Tuesday morning, Mrs. Brewer and Julianna kindly drove me to Hunington Beach to meet up with my good friend Amanda. I said goodbye to them, quite reluctantly, and with much encouragement to come visit us in Missouri. Amanda and I then walked out to the pier where we enjoyed lunch at Ruby's. It was somewhat overcast, but hey - the beach is the beach! Another wonderful time spent catching up with an old friend. She drove me back to the Hobbys' home in Pedro. Then it was off to the mall with Chelsea, just like old times. We shopped, had dinner at P.F. Changs, drank Jamba Juice (yum!), and watched the new Indiana Jones movie. We also stayed up late, talking.

Waiting for our movie. . . isn't that a gorgeous smile?

Posing for the camera.

We enjoyed the revolving door at PF Changs. 'Tis fun to never grow up, eh?

Wednesday I got to sleep in for the first time during our visit! Hurray! Mrs. Hobby then took us by the school and I got to pick out some of my favorite books from the school library to keep. Memories are wonderful, and having something tangible to help spark those memories is always good. From their I went out to lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Hobby, and Chelsea and then they took me to the airport. A short flight, and there I was. . . home again. Mum was kind enough to bring Elizabeth, who ran into my arms and give me an enormous hug. And now I am home. . . and it feels so good, so right to be here with my family.

Thank you all for bearing with me in this epically long post. Maybe I set a record or something! Also, thank you so much to all those who hosted our family in California and who made our visit so much fun. . . you are still just as dear to us as when we left.

Love to you all,