Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anniversary Surprise

Jen here. The summer was difficult. In Hong Kong we still had work, and then were a bit sad to leave new friends. Returning to the US, we spent brief time with family and then headed to Seattle to live in a new area, attend a new church and (for me) to work a new job. In all the adjustments and change, we were not without trials. Yes, we had sweet times and rejoiced in seeing friends and family again! But we were also stressed, worried, anxious and grumbly (especially me). One of my dearest friends kept telling me (as I poured out my heart to her) Roy and I are going through major life changes...of course things will be hard!

Our 3rd Anniversary is one of those heavenly sweet times between the trials. As mentioned earlier, Roy and I stayed with friends for about one month while we found and moved into our home for this year. Roy had already begun working and every so often I would go to work with him, just to be with him and get some fresh air. Roy invited me to go to work with him one August 17th and I thought nothing of it. "Sure" I said. Courtney made us pancakes to celebrate Judson's 1st birthday and then we headed to work. As we drove, Roy missed the exit to go to Chess4Life. Hmm... he must be distracted, I thought. But he didn't turn around, he just kept driving down 405 South. Something's funny. He began talking of taking the morning off...or maybe the day off. We could go to Mt. Rainier, he suggested. I love mountains, especially Mt. Rainier and I hadn't been there before. I've only seen the colossal mountain from 3 hours driving distance away...and it still looks huge.
As it turns out, Roy planned a surprise anniversary get-away, and expertly, I must say. I had no idea. We kept driving and headed into Mt. Rainier National Park. We went toward Sunrise, an area of the park with a visitor center and spectacular views and hiking trails. We chose a trail and hiked. BEAUTIFUL. AWESOME. Wildflowers everywhere (check the photo!) and God's awesome creation of mountains. Mmm... As the day went by, the depth of Roy's plans began to show. He packed some things in the trunk and every once in a while he would grab something out--maybe my tennis shoes, or hiking pants or my camera. This is more than just a day trip, I thought...but I'm going to soak it in no matter what it is. :)
Roy spoke of returning to civilization in time for Community Group and asked what I wanted to do. I made up my mind: let's spend time together instead of rushing back. We slowly drove around the park, stopping at overlooks and shooting many pictures. When we exited the park, Roy was following secret driving directions to somewhere, and it turned out to be a cabin he rented! Ah! :) How precious! He carried me in and set me on the couch while he brought in the rest of our stuff. Aww....
I could go on forever. :) The whole plan unfolded was two nights and three days in the cabin just a few miles from Mt. Rainier National Park, followed a day and night in the city. We made meals for one another, sang to the John Denver CDs, played Scrabble, built a fire, ate s'mores, soaked in the hot tub and just relaxed together. It was a wonderful time!! I cannot describe how sweet our time together was. :) Praise Jesus for that huge grace! And thanks to Roy for planning it!

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever." -Psalm 125:1-2

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hospitality of Friends :)

Jen here. God is so gracious and generous. I am continually blown away by His provision, protection and blessing. We arrived in Seattle in the end of July and began searching for housing. Two friends from Mars Hill Church graciously offered their guest bedroom and opened their home to us. It was a huge blessing to be in a home with familiar faces and loving hearts. We treasured time getting to know Mike and Courtney more and LOVED seeing their 11-month old Judson crawl, cruise and learn to walk. Here's Courtney, but this darling baby isn't hers(you'll see a photo of Judson later). This is Eowyn, my niece!! Courtney and Mike are date night babysitters for Dan and Christie, so we got to see our little niece more than planned. She is adorable...and I love spending time with her.Roy and I looked for housing, met up with old friends and continued going to our old church Mars Hill Church | Shoreline. It was a blast to be back and to see our church family again. Oh how we missed them! When we walked into Schirmer Auditorium for the first time, we felt so loved, so cherished. Hugs and tears abounded. :) After leaving the service, Roy and I looked at each other and said, "Can't we just live up here, go to church here and commute to work?Do we really want to do church in the same city where we work?" :)
MHC | Shoreline had their annual BBQ Beach Baptism in the beginning of August and we attended. Pastor Steve preached a great message and several people decided to be baptized. It was a great time of rejoicing! I LOVE Washington's beaches, water and mountains all in one. It is good to be back in Seattle. For a while we double-dipped in regard to church. We attended our old Community Group from Shoreline during the week and on Sundays attended the MH campus near our work (and house to-be) in the morning and our old MHC | Shoreline campus in the evenings. We began searching for a community group at our new church in Bellevue.

Our housing search was long. Long before we left Hong Kong, we were told of a house for rent owned by a former Chess4Life employee who just recently found a job in Washington DC. He and his family were preparing to move there and wanted to rent their house to fellow Christians...they wanted their house to be used for God. We were in contact with them and planned to check out the house. We did and it was awesome. It is a rambler (whatever that means...) 3 bedroom 2 bathroom. The living room, dining room and kitchen are open and spacious. Beautiful. Clean. Spacious. Perfect for entertaining.

To be wise, we continued looking at other places, but none of them compared. Our hearts were set on this house. We prayed for God to provide housemates to share the cost and live in community. Roy began working in the beginning of August and we decided to rent the house.
Courtney did an amazing job taking care of Judson; I was blessed to talk with her and see her interact with Judson. He is so adorable. Roy and I laughed with him, crawled with him, played peek-a-boo with him. He was a true joy to see every morning, so smiley. :) BTW, he was born about a week before we moved to Hong Kong...and he celebrated his first birthday while we were staying with Mike and Courtney. :)

What a blessing our friends and church family are to us. Mike and Courtney's gift of hospitality was vital in a peaceful transition to life in Seattle once again. Thank you!! And praise Jesus for His people!

Driving to Seattle: Leg 3 | More Yellowstone and Idaho!

Jen here. Our 3rd leg consisted of packing up, sight seeing in Yellowstone and driving to my birthplace. Yay! After freezing during the night, we packed up our things and prepared to leave the campground. I was hoping we would see some wildlife--especially for Roy's sake. It was his first time to Yellowstone! A buffalo wandered into our campground grazing the grass. The other campers watched at a distance but weren't surprised. They said he came there every morning. Hm. I got out my camera and shot some photos at a distance (with Dad's voice in my head warning me about all the people who have been gored by buffalo) and Roy headed to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Several minutes later I wondered why Roy was taking so long. I wandered toward the bathroom and BUFFALO and Roy! Apparently he was thirsty so he decided to drink the puddle of water outside the men's bathroom door. Roy noticed and was very careful not to make any sudden movements. The buffalo slurped the water up like a dog and looked at Roy a few times, then went back to drinking. I went back and grabbed my camera and shot some pics of Roy's encounter with a buffalo. Yay! :) Disclaimer: Buffalo (or, okay this may be a Bison...really, does it matter?) are very dangerous and I praised God that Roy and everyone else were safe. The buffalo eventually walked away and Roy snuck out the door and we were off.
We drove around most of the main road loop in Yellowstone looking at the GORGEOUS scenery and some wildlife along the way. We saw a few bears (in the distance), many buffalo and a fox. We stopped and hiked near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone--AMAZING! I could have stared at the scenery all day and still wanted more. At lunchtime we stopped at Tower Fall and planned to go for a short hike, but I was hungry and Roy was hot. He headed into the gift shop while I grabbed some food from the cooler. I shuffled back and forth between the front door and back door and one time the door shut before I caught it and I pulled on the handle and...NOOOO! It was locked! Oh no!! The keys were on the seat by the cooler...and next to my sandwich I just made. NO!! I prayed and tried to open every door. No luck. :( Shaking I went in to find Roy to tell him what I did. He was very calm and told one of the rangers he locked the keys in the car(What a husband! He claimed my mess up!). The ranger gave him a phone and number for a mechanic. Roy called and then told me to pick out a prize from the gift shop. Needless to say, I had TONS of time to browse. I know every piece of merchandise that shop carried. Most of the shirts, mugs, cups, glasses and bowls had buffalo, but some had deer, elk or moose. If you gave me a piece of paper and had me draw up the floor plan for the shop, I could do it. The mechanic had to drive from Cody, WY through Yellowstone up in the mountains on the 35mph road to us. Yikes. About two hours later he came and it was no big deal to get in our car, though it was a big cost. :( I picked out a mug, though reluctantly because I thought it would remind me of my awful mess up and our miserable time waiting two hours to get into our car. Now I smile looking back at it. It was no fun. I was hungry, Roy was feeling sick, it was hot outside and we just used up the last bit of our time in Yellowstone browsing in a gift shop! Anyone who has seen my drawings of mountains may recognize these. The mountains of my birthplace!! This was my second time returning since my family moved to Ohio in 1998. We stayed with my God-parents and got to catch up with them and two of their sons whom I haven't seen for years! It was a GREAT time...I love going there. We need to spend a little more time there sometimes. Both visits were less than 24 hours... :)My God-parent's oldest son was looking for a ride to Missoula, MT to pick up a truck so we condensed our things to create a spot in the back seat for him and off we went. Over the three-hour drive we got to know Crispin a lot. He's at least 10 years older than me, so when I was a kid I never knew him; I only heard stories about him. He was a kind of mysterious older brother of my friends. I enjoyed catching up with him and hearing his take on life, which seems to be very common to the west coast. I took it as a cultural learning experience and time getting to know him. We were able to share some about our life as well and had a great time. We dropped him off in Missoula, stopped at a McDonald's for the free WiFi and a bite to eat and continued on. (Hong Kong totally took away my bias against McD's.)

Seattle is about 9 hours from Missoula; we arrived just after dinner.'s nice to be back to Seattle. I wonder what it will be like to live here again. :)