Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sabbatical Starts

Andy and I have been given our 2nd sabbatical since being at month every three years is just amazing. It comes at a good time for us. The spring and summer have been jam packed ~ full of good and productive and fun things, but we are a bit weary and in need of a break. Thru the winter and spring we had some amazing help finishing up the Upper Room project here at Cedarly. It is a beautiful room and several groups are already committed to using the space, some on a regular basis. We are grateful it is finished. We are praying that God will provide the last $4000.00 to dig a well and put in a pump for a water supply (ie bathroom) out there. The dedication was on Sunday, June 22. We would not have been ready if our wonderful small group hadn't helped us clean the garage, the stairwell, and the room with us They also helped with food after the ceremony. We hope to have some pictures up on the blog before, actually after the sabbatical.

Right after the dedication Faith and Avery came, then Aimee, Gary, Sarah and Joel joined them, then the Hagen clan arrived, and then we had the Ekedahls here one afternoon, too. It was a whirlwind of activity and a very good time of good eating, lots of laughs, fun activities, catching up...

The year at Cedarly started out slowly as far as attendance goes, but since Easter we have been full just about every week...and we will be full until at least Thanksgiving. God continues to encourage us as we see Him at work in pastor's (and spouses) hearts and minds. It is truly amazing what He can do in just 5 days. It's a great ride, but a long stretch.

Unfortunately Andy and I haven't had a lot of time or energy to prepare for this sabbatical. We have some good ideas ~ where to go, things to talk about, books to read together, ideas to consider ~ so that is a start. We'll head out and go for 10-12 days on our sailboat, the WHITE IRIS. We hope to go across the pond from Manitowoc, WI to Manistee, MI. It takes a full day ~ about 65 miles. We are trusting God that the winds and the waves will co-operate. From there we will head north along the coast to the small fishing villages of Frankfort, Leland, Northport and possibly Charlevoix.

Then we plan to take a road trip, ultimately ending up in Colorado just after the arrival of Baby J. Joel is going to take a few days off from work when the baby arrives so they can enjoy some special time bonding as a new family together. So, we will take off, traveling thru southern Minnesota, across South Dakota, and around Wyoming, enjoying the natural wonders along the way. When we get the word that Baby J has arrived, we will still have a few days to make our way to meet him. We are trusting God to work out the details, the safe arrival, and the timing.

I have just finished reading a little book called GIFT FROM THE SEA by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Have you read it? It was originally published in 1955 and was a "ground-breaking, best-selling work". Now fifty some years later, it is still helpful and insightful. Lindbergh spent two weeks alone in a little cottage on Captiva Island on Florida's Gulf Coast. She shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment ~ things she thought about and wrote about during her time on the beach picking up shells and reflecting on life. Much of it strikes a cord with me because she talks a lot of time and space for contemplation, quiet, simplicity, and we do here at Cedarly.

I do not have any desire to write a book while on this Sabbatical, but I am taking a Journal with me. I hope to reflect on my where I have been and where I am going...consider how I want to grow in my relationships...pursue getting to know God in new and deeper ways. I do not know where else the Spirit will take me. I will have to share that when Sabbatical Ends.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Moms and Dads

Absolutely Avery

Avery is absolutely the sweetest little two year old ever. She gets along so well with her big sister and big sister is so good with her. I think Avery seems older than she is because her vocabulary and understanding is great (I'd say advanced but you'd just think I am a doting Oma).

It really was fun and quite easy to have the girls around. This first picture (below) is on the 4th of July just before we had our very own fireworks display here at Cedarly, put on by Uncle Jon from SC. Avery was waving her 2 flags and calling out "America, America"...very cute!

In the late 50's after my Grandpa Severin left a long time job at Rockford Screw Products, he started another company--making little cards to use around the yard (above). Many of them ended up on plantations in South America. My brother and my cousin each have one of these "Yard Bee" cars. Cousin Al brought his to Cedarly the day of our Ekedahl/Severin reunion...and the girls just loved it. They would have spent all afternoon driving around if we had let them. Cedarly was just the right environment to do it.

Avery loved the playground at Frame Park (above). She is not quite as adventuresome climbing or going down slides as Faith is, but she finds ways to have fun. At the Children's Museum she loaded and unloaded her grocery cart endlessly and enjoyed taking calls at the car repair shop.

Avery waited very patiently on the shore (below) while Faith and Opa were out on the kayak. She could hardly wait for her turn ~ her first time out on the water with Opa.

For several days, Avery would not go anywhere without 2-4 of Oma's old necklaces aroun her neck. Here she is on the train at the Zoo ~ ready to go.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Featuring Faith

Oma had the wonderful opportunity to take care of Faith and Avery for six days (with great help from Aunt Connie and Opa) while Gary and Aimee went to British Columbia for a few days to celebrate their 10th Anniversary and a Marx family wedding. We had such fun. It was my objective to keep them busy, experience new things, and be so tired they would fall into bed at night. It worked and we had an incredible time together. These first couple of pictures are at Frame Park along the Fox River. The girls love playground parks and this was a new one to them...they loved the HUGE sandbox and the HUGE creature living in it!
One day we three went to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in downtown Milwaukee. We got there at 11:30 and I couldn't get them to stop for lunch until 2:00. By 4:00 we had the place to ourselves and ended up staying until 5:00 when it closed. They were good about staying together, they made friends with other kids, and they tried just about everything. Faith especially like an area where there was a post office, a bank, a grocery store, and a car repair shop. Each area was connected by telelphone, so I would call them from another area and they would be so surprised when they answered the phone.

My sister Connie joined us for the weekend and we went to the Milwaukee Zoo...again we stayed for about 6 hours. It was a beautiful day ~ not too hot. This picture (above, right) was on the train ride around the zoo...a real hit with Faith.

Last year we started a tradition of making spritz cookies together...Christmas in July (plus they are Aimee's favorite so she loves it). This year we made them at 7:30 a.m. Avery was sleeping 11-12 hours a night, so we took advantage of the time alone to make green wreaths and trees.

One afternoon we were able to be together with my brother Jim's 4 grandchildren. There are 5 kids in my family and so far just 6 grandkids...with Baby J on the way. We spent a couple of hours at a friend's pool and got them to pose. They all LOVE the water and took turns doing their favorite jumps and dives off the board...even Avery joined in the fun. Faith had some good form on her jumps and a name for each one.

Another favorite activity is taking out the kayak or canoe with Opa. Faith isn't much help yet, but she doesn't weigh much either. This year they saw three turtles and gathered some pretty water lilies.
This picture is not the best one of Faith, (below) but I was so proud of her, I must include the story. Both Faith and Avery fell asleep in the car several times during our adventures... a little cat nap worked really well. Connie was with us when we discovered this funny pose of Faith out cold.

We could hardly take the pictures we were laughing so hard in the front seat. When we showed the picture to Faith, Connie commented, "You like like an animal but I can't figure out which one." Faith immediately came back with, "A pig with a snout!" At that point she started laughing so hard she couldn't stop. It was encouraging to see her enjoy the joke on herself and enjoy it as much as we had.

1st Official Hagen Family Reunion

This year Andy and I hosted the 1st official Hagen Family Reunion at Cedarly over the 4th of July. It was a great time with wonderful weather, fabulous food, and lots of fun events...some played golf, many went to the Brewers game, several went out on kayaks or canoes, most played ladder golf and cornhole, and everyone clapped and cheered over Jon's fireworks display brought from SC (well, maybe not Avery who was in the house holding her hands over her ears). What a special treat to have the cousins together again. It doesn't happen very often, but everyone loves it when it does.
We plan to get together AT LEAST every three years, rotating who hosts/plans and where we meet.