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2016 Reading adventures

I hope to continue to read and learn more in this year than ever. I have plans to really scale down social media and other time wasters to enjoy letting my brain soak up more of what really matters to me most.

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Here are some of the books I’ve read already:

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics– The ultimate, and I mean ultimate, underdog story. Scott and I read this one aloud together, and I think we always wanted to read one more chapter. I’m proud to be an American!

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who needs to breathe; Sally Clarkson is just so darn wise. I couldn’t resist as it was only $1.99. I don’t feel particular desperate in this season, but I thought a little dose of encouragement wouldn’t hurt. Glad I read it. Good reminders in there, and so much wisdom.

The Fringe Hours; The perfect book for me in this new year. I also snagged this one for $1.99 on kindle. If you are someone who wants to be a little more strategic with how to spend your time, and also want to think about how fitting self-care into an already time-tight schedule, then this book is for you.

Gilead– I dubbed this one the right book at the wrong time. This book is quiet, the ponderings of an Iowa pastor who is nearing death. It is also a pulitzer prize winner and written by an author from the great state of Iowa, the same state my husband is from. I think I’ll pick it up again another time.

As for 2016…

Peace Like a River– this one is a recommendation from my mother-in-law. She is a voracious reader and a writer, so I’m looking forward to this selection.

Caffeine Blues– I’m physically addicted to caffeine, and emotionally addicted to coffee. The smell, the taste…even the thought of drinking it can make me feel better. But, I had a disturbing thought recently.  What if it’s actually worse for me than I think? Maybe I should just see…. Guess I’ll find out!

Jane Eyre– I’ve wanted to read this one for some time. It’s our February book club selection, so I’m glad I’ll finally get to enjoy it. I’ve heard great things. I’m excited!

And, well, probably a few more…

 

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Sophia Jane

What a joy it has been to welcome Sophia into our family. What a blessing for Eleanor to have the gift of a sister, and what a blessing for us to get to raise two girls!

Sophia means “wisdom” and Jane means “gift from God”.

She was born on May 17th  at 5:38am after four and a half hours of labor. It was extremely painful, much more painful than Ellie’s birth. In fact, I say it was three times as fast and three times more painful than Ellie’s birth. My theory is that the pain increased so quickly that the endorphins couldn’t keep up with the pain. If you are interested in more details you can watch the video I recorded with the birth story.

She was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 19.7 inches.

And here is a photo bomb of the last month and a half. Some fun highlights: my mom came to help us- what a tremendous blessing! You can see I look tons like her, but the girls take after their dad. Who knew I’d ever live with so many cheeky people?

We had a Starbucks in the hospital- one point over homebirth- and so Scott got us some more than once. Yum!

Ellie loves being a big sister. Everyone always asks us if she is jealous. The answer is no. She’s delighted to have another friend!

My friend, Elif, who is the girls’ Turkish aunt, met Sophie when she was five days old.

One week after she was born my mom, Ellie, Sophie and I hopped on a boat and went to a nearby island. You can see Ellie and I drinking our Starbucks on the boat. What a fun day!

We’re still enjoying lots of cuddles and sweet days with our little one. She’s grown a lot and is a sweet, chunky, hiccupy baby.

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One year in Turkey

While on vacation we celebrated 1 year in Turkey. 1 year! It’s been such a wonderful year, full of so much adventure and blessing. Thankfully, since we started off our overseas life living two years in Hungary, we got out most of our culture shock blues while living there. So even though most would consider Turkey a more challenging place to live, we have yet to experience culture shock. Rather, I adore living here! The people are incredibly warm, the language is super fun to learn, and our neighborhood has lots of parks and adventure to keep both Eleanor and I busy. It’s incredibly easy to make friends, at least compared to Hungary, so my extrovert heart is often overflowing with thanksgiving.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, blessings has been our church. We wanted to be a part of a church where Scott could serve considering the language he’s already acquired and his gifts. But, to throw Ellie and I into a full on Turkish immersion experience early on would be a little much. Our church is an international church in Turkish. We have a lovely blend of people from all over the world, and many Turkish brothers and sisters as well. I’ve been so challenged and blessed by the people in our church. When I think of many of them the word Grace comes to mind. I can’t say I’ve never met such gracious people, but I don’t think I’ve ever been part of such a grace-filled church. Since I struggle understand grace and being a gracious person myself, I’m deeply humbled.

Scott continues to blow me away with his work-ethic and dedication to studies and his work. I don’t think I’ve ever met a hard worker in my life. No wonder he slept so much on vacation! He needed it! He’ll start a grant this fall, and we’re excited to see how this program helps him to finish his PHD. It’s no easy task, my friends.

In case you haven’t heard, I co-authored a book with Scott. You can check it out here!

Even though I helped with that book project, generally I am pretty strict about my time commitments in this season. Basically my three jobs are to support Scott, take care of Ellie and learn Turkish. I’ve not blogged much because I realize every spare moment helps when it comes to language learning. I’ve been waking up at 6am to have time with the Lord, check my email only twice daily, study language for two hours while Ellie naps, and spend the rest of the time hanging with Ellie and keeping up home. We also like to visit friends and I enjoy lessons with my teacher twice weekly. Life is simple in this season since I have so few goals, but that’s okay. I need to learn language, and it will never be easier than it is now.

One year later. Ellie gets the award for most changed.

One year later. Ellie gets the award for most changed.

One year ago!

One year ago!

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What Parenting has Taught me about God

There’s nothing quite like becoming a parent. People tell you about the unexplainable love they have for their children, but it’s a little surreal  until you are holding a kid in your arms that’s yours. And something I didn’t expect, but I’m supremely thankful for, is how much I’ve learned about God in these past 13 months.Godslove

My friend Keri is full of wisdom and I have remembered many wise things she’s said over the past 10 years that I’ve known her. One that sticks out now and I’ve added to is this: “When you are single you get to do things for God, when you are married you get to know God.” I think I’ll add: and when you have kids you really, really, really get to know God.

You see, in theory I have always known God loves me. I’ve always known He desires and wills my good. But until I became a mom I didn’t know what unconditional love was. Now I do, and now I truly understand a little bit more about the character of God.

One specific way I’ve always failed to trust God’s love is when it comes to His provision. This is pretty silly considering He has always provided well for me. I reflected recently with my husband on how we’ve never gone hungry, never couldn’t pay our electricity bill, always made rent. Moreover, we usually have a few extra dollars/liras/forints in our budget for me to have a latte or two with friends. But the abundant love a parent has for their child isn’t about simply meeting their base needs. If so, the market for children’s toys wouldn’t claim billions of dollars a year! Remember the tickle me Elmo riots a few Christmases back? We love our children and we desire to bless them immensely! So why don’t I always believe God wants to bless me immensely?

My friend Kim and I were reflecting on this reality of unconditional love recently, and framing it in the context of our children approaching us how we approach God. She remarked, “If Evan  walked up to me timidly and asked, “Mom, will you feed me today?” my heart would absolutely break. I’d respond, “Of course I’ll feed you baby! I’d starve before letting you go hungry.” So why can’t we believe that God feels exactly the same way about us??!

Walking this journey with Eleanor has helped me to understand the depths of God’s love for me a little bit more, and for that I’m so grateful. And, how beautiful that He loves all his children like this! He made all of us, knit us together in our mother’s womb! godslove2

If we fully do embrace this truth, how does it change us and impact us daily? What does this truth mean to you?

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Life is Never Dull

Living life in Istanbul is many things, but dull is not one of them. Everyday it seems that something seemingly out of the ordinary happens, and I thought it time I document some of these things before they become so normal I forget there was a time they weren’t.

The other day I was walking to the seaside with my friend, Zeynep. I was pushing Ellie in the stroller and we walked along enjoying the beautiful day and conversation circling around topics with a depth that only friends of 9 years can share. Out of nowhere a woman approached and asked while looking at Ellie, “Eleanor, isn’t it?” My friend was amazed. “You are famous in this neighborhood?!” The truth is no one gives a lick about me, but Eleanor with her big blue eyes, darling dimples and charm that would sweep the queen off her feet definitely is a star in our neighborhood.

Two days ago I was buying milk at a grocery store. Unfortunately, their card machine wasn’t working. So, they told me to just come back later to pay. Could you imagine this happening at your local store? Another local store I know keeps a list of the people who owe him. It’s like pioneer days. I love it!

Another time I was walking down the street minding my own business. (I realize all of these sentences sound like I’m about to tell a joke) A woman ran out of the local print shop with a roll of tape. A few days before this incident Eleanor and I were strolling down the street and one of the front wheels came off her stroller, unfortunately, not for the first time. I popped into the print shop, bought some tape, and taped that bad boy with all the gusto I could muster. In my joy at solving our problem I left the tape in the shop, thus the reason for the woman running with the roll of tape. I employed one of my new language learning strategies on her. In these early days, instead of learning verbs and nouns for opposite things, I just remember one and then negate it when necessary. So, in this situation instead of saying to her, “Oh, I forgot it!” I simply said, “Oh, I didn’t remember it.” Genius? Why thank you.

Today new adventures await me. I wonder what shenanigans this happy girl and I will get in to.

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Goose egg- a sure sign your baby is soon to be a toddler

Don’t worry. She’s okay. I’m okay. We both have recovered from the incident. Who am I kidding? She’s recovered! I’m traumatized. My daughter leapt off the couch and plowed straight into the floor. She was sitting there reading and I turned around to turn on her noise machine and this is what happened! She swelled up immediately, panic flooded my heart, and all the what ifs pounded on the doors of my mind. I was able to ice it for a bit, and when Scott walked in the door from getting  a new lock for our mailbox, she was all smiles and giggles. I called a friend who has three boys, I figured she’d know what to do, and was encouraged that I am in fact not the only mother in the world whose child has hurt themselves! And,  no, I’m still a good, caring Mom. No, I’m not irresponsible (but a little more untrusting of Ellie’s squirmy tendencies). And, yes, yes, she’s days away from being called a toddler. Gooseegg

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A man’s Christmas List

Sadly today we had to send our dear friends Derek and Darren back home. On the upside, I was so happy they stayed with us here in Istanbul. It’s fun to share our home and daily life with people. Additionally, two really good things happened. One night Derek made dinner.

Here are the guys about to enjoy the scrumptious meal!

I’m so happy I’m breastfeeding because no matter how full I get I’m never that full and can keep eating. So, that’s what I did to the delicious Asian meal he made. Well, I also may have drooled a little.

The second good thing was I sat all of the guys down and had a talking to with them. I asked them what are some good man gifts for Christmas. That way, if you, like me, don’t know what to get your hubby, brother, dad, cousin-in-law, then you have some good ideas right here! And, if you go to Amazon through my page I receive a small commission with no cost to you! That would make my Christmas Merry, so please help out if you plan to shop at Amazon. Thanks!

TECHNOLOGY

Ipad– Apparently they are all the rage.

Kindle Fire– I do have a Kindle, and I love it! I’m a little bit of a Kindle evangelist.

MacBook Case– In case you’d like to look like you work for the CIA.

Manly Thermostat– America is awesome. We invent amazing things.

Wireless Video Camera– Again… Wow!

High Tech Switch- This is far too high tech for me. I cannot even describe what it is.

Pointer– In case you are lecturing and want to impress.

Head phones– I can’t hear you. Speak up!

Camera- I want this!

APPAREL

Manly hat

Shirt– This one was recommended by not the guy I would think it was recommended by.

FITNESS MAN

Protein powder– yum?

Shoes– New year’s resolution anyone?

Shoes– ….

Fat fryer– Fries anyone? For after your run that is…

Every man needs a knife– a Swiss one, that is

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

 

 

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