I guess it can't hurt to have a few pictures up here :) Here's our apartment here at school: All of the furniture was (awesomely) provided by the school for us. Gina has also (of course) rearranged several times since these pictures were taken.
The girls sometimes take baths in plastic tubs, since the only bathrooms we have access to are shared men's and women's bathrooms.
...and these are just a couple recent pictures of the day we all went apple picking together.
...and this is one of the first chances I've had a spare moment to sit down and write an update. We have been learning like crazy, busy every second (going out of our minds sometimes), making awesome friends, trying to squeeze in time together as a family, and neither of us really know where the time has gone. I really can't take long to post today, either, because we're going to head off to church here in a few minutes, then i'm off to work at Starbucks for the rest of the day.
We have been learning tons about prayer, humility, what it really looks like to trust God. It seems like we have been through so much in this time so far, but the hard things have been good, we are actually learning to trust Him with the things we go through - something we have really struggled with in the past. I have been really impressed with Gina and the things she has really learned and taken hold of. I guess the only way to describe some of the things that we are learning is to quote one of the teachers:
"If we do not know the “how” of godly living we will soon give up in defeat. If I try to live the Christian life in my own strength, I will become defeated, discouraged, and depressed, then fearful, frustrated, and fatigued. When I’m depressed, I’m living with [this] attitude: Selfishness. The answer is Christ in me. The enablement through Christ is enough to handle all of life’s situations. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man, but God is faithful, who doesn’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able (in His power)! I have to know how this new life is done, then I have to submit to that way! You can’t be saved if you don’t submit to the way that God has made to be saved! This is true of justification, and it’s true in living the rest of the Christian life. God will only accept His righteousness. We can fight this all we want, but it won’t change the rules. The only way we can live the Christian life is through His enablement. He indwells us and has established us in Christ, and has given us His spirit as a guarantee (2 Corinthians). Walking with the Lord is always the right thing to do. There are impure things in my motives because of the constant battle with my flesh, but I can’t second guess every action that I take and be at peace at all! God is faithful to reveal these things to us in His time - when He reveals the impure things, I must be faithful to repent of those things. Second guessing myself all the time could ruin my ministry! I’ve put my faith in Christ, and I’ve learned through the word that I’m positionally no longer a slave to sin. I also know that I’m still capable of sin, but I leave it up to God to reveal those things to me in His time." -Dave Hodgdon
Okay, I'm seriously out of time. Hopefully this gives you somewhat of a clue as to what is happening to us over here. Thanks for reading! -Ben & Gina
It has been such a good morning I need to write it down, just to be able to remember this in the future. We have strongly felt God moving in our lives today, after months of wondering if God would ever let us feel like we were making the right decision.
It started with our Sunday morning community group, and the humbling, overwhelming, encouraging feeling of a roomful of friends earnestly praying for us and our future. We are so thankful to have become involved in a church that preaches the gospel, and is full of dear people being affected continually by the Word. Saying goodbye to you all was difficult, as we wish we could have had more time to get to know you.
So after group, on into the service we go...and oh what a message it was...the best way to describe the message is to just post a picture of my notes, so here's that --
Needless to say it was the message we needed to hear, as we're about to launch ourselves into a time of inbetween (tomorrow! Yikes!) There are so many emotions wrapped up in this, that I'm glad I'm writing this before everything else erupts.
At the risk of sounding too over-spiritual from the last post, I figured I should lighten things up a bit and post a little bit about us, that way you all remember who the blockheads are that are posting all this stuff. So here are some things you should know about me (Ben):
I find it incredibly hard not to speak ironically in normal conversation. I think sarcasm is hilarious, so I often say things that are opposite of what I really mean or how I really feel. I worry that this puts a lot of people off, so we'll see, I may have to learn to do this differently. I will never stop thinking that things like this are funny, though.
I often write with smilies. I know that bothers a lot of grammarians and I know it's not grammatically correct to randomly throw down a colon and an end parenthesis, but at the end of the day I just don't feel like there's a better way to convey facial expression (and thus spoken intent) in casually written language.
I'm SUPER-dee-duper right brained. It's possible that you've never met a less logical person than me. I can't really seem to grasp math beyond a middle school level. I have tried computer programming (which goes great, until I have to do something more advanced than displaying "hello world," then keyboards are flying out the window (If you don't speak computer and you don't know what in the heck I just said, type hello world into Google). I often worry that my personality being this way must get on the last nerve of anyone with even a slight aptitude for logical thinking.
I'm pretty self-conscious. Have you noticed? I think faster than I talk, so most of the time I worry that when I speak (even in normal conversation) I'm not making sense. I've been told that I'm really hard on myself. I have a hard time feeling like I should be trusted. I have a really hard time trusting God sometimes.
Hmm let's get to some good stuff, shall we? Both my wife and I love photography, and someday I'm going to make enough money to buy her a rig so that she can join my endeavors with http://www.benbrendlephoto.com. We love to take pictures of our awesome kids, Atalie & Carly.
As a bit of a hobby, I'm currently attempting to develop an i-phone game based on a story that I've been rolling around in my head for a few years. Who knows if it will ever get finished, but it definitely fun working on a video game - that's always been a dream of mine :) Here is a tiny sample of the graphics I've been working on: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/25375424/terrordrone.gif
I hope this helps anyone reading get to know me a little bit. Sorry about my awful personality, I truly feel sorry for you now that you know me a bit better. ;-)
[Warning: Somewhat rambling post ahead. I really hope you make it to the end.]
Hi everyone, it's Ben. This post goes out to all my friends and family, just to get everyone on the same page with what's going on with us. As some of you know or may have heard, we are going to be moving to Wisconsin early in August. We've had a chance to explain to some of you but I know for a fact that I am not that great at communicating, so for anyone who's wondering, here's the 'why:'
1. We feel that God is not letting us be satisfied to stay where we are, with the idea of starting a career, and living a day to day life.
2. We have a desire to teach the Bible, or to serve the church body somehow, and model a Christ-following family to those who have no examples of Christ in their lives. We are excited that we may have a once in a lifetime chance to 'have a job' doing just that.
Let me explain this statement quick, because I want to avoid a mis-communication. We don't have any problem whatsoever with the idea of having a career in the United States. We've spent a lot of time trying to make a life where we are...I've lost count of how many times we've tried to buy a house, move up the ladder in our jobs, considered career-oriented school/training, etcetera. The best way to describe the statement above, is that God isn't *letting* us settle in. He has taken away those options from us on every occasion that they've risen.
Where is this coming from? You can probably scroll all the way back to the first post on this blog to get this history about us, but I'm sure most of you are already about to close this window out and go back to looking at Facebook, so I'll save you having to do that. :) Basically, Gina & I met at New Tribes Bible Institute (NTBI) in Waukesha, Wisconsin back in '04. We were both going to school to study the Bible but neither of us were really sure what to do with our lives at that point. We fell in love and got married in '05, but dropped out of school to settle down and try to get some direction.
Since then, we've lived in 3 states, worked in a cafe', a machine shop, from home over the internet, run our own photography business, interned at a church, of course worked at Dixie Stampede, and raised 2 beautiful little girls from scratch. Through all this, we've done a lot of growing up and changing, and have begun to develop our own convictions about life and the way we want to live and raise our kids.
A lot of people reading this probably know me from Dixie, where I've sort of developed an outspoken aspect of my personality. Some might have met me at church, and I'm sure by now have been horrified by how weird I am. Some of you might not know me at all because you're Gina's friend and have never met me. My intention with this blog is to be as real as possible, and to avoid seeming like we've "got it all together." This is a pretty big, unknown step for us, that has at times left us feeling hopeless.
We are going to go finish our Bible education, and beyond that we are looking in to the possibility of becoming full time missionaries with New Tribes Mission. We haven't had a sudden epiphany, we don't (at the moment) feel like missionaries at all. We have no idea where we would want to go, or what we would even do as missionaries. This is a lot of unknown and to some of you probably seems like a pretty reckless thing to do with 2 little kids. Believe me, we feel the same way sometimes - and the kids aren't a consideration we're ignoring. We have always focused on a family environment where the girls are a priority. Gina has stayed home for years even though it has stretched us financially. We don't like to busy ourselves to the point where we don't see our kids much. We will also hold this conviction in the future, they are definitely a priority.
Really through all these fears and doubts we always come back to the statement at the beginning. We are seeing God put the pieces together. We are genuinely excited to take this step, regardless of not knowing all the answers. We don't feel the hopelessness anymore, because this is a real chance to make a difference with our lives. There is still the fear that this plan won't work out either -- but it's a fear that we can't let control us.
Ok, you made it all the way to the end of this post, congratulations! More to come in the future about our goals, things we've been learning, rants, general silliness and hopefully a lot more pictures. Our Bible school experience so far has given us a small taste of the need that we all have for the gospel. We still have a lot to learn, and are hoping that God teaches us in the areas we know we're lacking. Our attitude isn't perfect and I'm nervous whether or not we're going to 'fit in' to a largely Christian culture, but I'm sure we could write a lot about whether or not we even want to. Thanks for reading!
Well, we've been accepted to return to NTBI this August! Ben only has a semester left and I have two. We're excited, but I've been stressing a little bit more now that it's getting more "real". I'm not the best blogger... *ech-hem* obviously, and I just finished writing an e-mail to a sweet friend so I figured I'd just copy and paste it in here. That way you can see a little bit of what's going on in my crazy brain. Please ignore the insane amounts of rambling. And the lack of any pictures. Which, let's face it... is all any of you want to see. :)
Can I vent to you? By "vent" I don't mean gossip about horrible things in my life... more like... spill a bunch of stuff that I've been struggling with in the form of "word vomit". If you're saying no... How are you? I miss you. Love, Gina. No need to read further... :) If you said yes. Good. Here goes.
Sooo... we ARE going to be at NTBI in August! YAY! Sort of. Which is where the word vomit comes in. I didn't realize that I'm this much of a control freak, but I'm stressing out about all of the "unknowns". How will I bathe the girls since we not only don't have a bathroom in our apartment, but we don't have a sink either? When one has to poo, do they just abandon their children in their apartment? or take them with on a grand trip to the loo? Will I be able to handle leaving my girls for three WHOLE hours every morning (note the sarcasm - making fun of myself)? Will I be able to handle the school work, mommy/wife-ing, homework, ben being really busy? Are we staying the full year so that I can finish (even though I'm just taking the wife courses?) or are we only staying till Ben finishes? ... anyway you get the drift. Control freak! Holy cow! All of those things.. ALL of those things will work out in some way or another once we get there! I guess I just like to feel like I have things figured out. Don't even get me started on post-Bible School "planning". :) Did you go through anything like this? am I a total freak? (don't answer that... I know I am.) I want to be Mrs. I'm-so-stinking-excited-I-don't-ever-worry, but that doesn't seem to be happening. A year ago when I pictured us about to go back to Bible School I was always so excited!! What's happened to me?? I've turned into... dun-dun-duuuuuunnnnn... a mom. Anyway, I could vent for a very long time, but you're a busy lady. I HONESTLY - no fake excitement laced with dread - honestly can't WAIT to see you and your sweet family! :)
I stumbled on Pete and Bree Ammerman's blog today. I haven't ever met them but they've started the training with New Tribes Mission, and since I grew up in New Tribes I thought I'd snoop at what they're up to. God's really given them a heart for Missionary Kids. What they're doing is so cool - there's not much more scary than feeling like you're all alone and your parents are a country away. Pete and Bree are right now at New Tribes Bible Institute in Waukesha - where Ben and I are hoping to be this fall! It's so neat to see them already ministering to the MKs there. I particularly liked the part about the MK winter retreat. The lessons they learned there really hit home to me. I've gone through so many of those emotions and so many times it's easy to feel like you're the only one. Anyway, check them out!
Aaaand, because I know that some people *cough, cough... mom* only really check this for pictures of my little peanuts... here ya go. And I love you.
Well, it's still snowing. I love snow and all, but c'mon. I'm feeling a little cooped up here. So far I've made a batch of cinnamon raisin swirl bread (x4 loaves), 2 loaves of whole wheat bread, triple batch of whole wheat tortillas, refried beans, and I'm pretty sure some other stuff that I'm forgetting about. Needless to say our freezer is well stocked. There's baking/cooking that I can do before I lose my touch, though. I had planned on making a nice big pot of turkey and homemade noodles, so I put some turkey in a pot with four cups of stock. The turkey was part of one that we had made a few weeks ago, divided into bags and put in the freezer so I figured it would take a while to boil. Meanwhile I decided to fight my cabin fever (and my muffin top) and hopped on the elliptical. Half hour workout and a shower later I came out of the room and was smacked in the face with the horrible smell of burning turkey. All four cups of stock had evaporated and the turkey was charred to the bottom of the pan. Totally inedible and a total mess. We cracked the windows, lit a candle, and my sweet loving husband worked his fingers to the bone scrubbing on the pan. I decided to make up some quinoa and vegetables. The girls loved it! Well, I was distraught from having just cremated our poor turkey dinner, so I did what always makes me feel better. Made cookies. Peanut butter cookies. I've managed to just have one so far, but the night is young.
Good things have come from these snow days. It's forced us to slow down and just enjoy a few days home together. No trips to the store, no errands to run, no appointments, just enjoy quiet simple times as a family. Every year I'm so grateful for this time that Ben has off. There isn't much better than time together with Daddy... for all of us. :)
PS. Yes. I did have a mild panic attack when I saw the "bean mess" on the carpet. Nothing the good ol' dust buster couldn't handle! Plus the girls loved it.
Today we enjoyed a cozy day at home thanks to Snowmageddon. The weather predictions varied, and I'm not even sure how much snow we've even gotten, but it's more than enough to hunker down and have a day of snuggling and baking. The only venturing out that was done was to the mailbox and to take the trash out... both done by my sweet husband. This picture is from our front door. We have three steps up to the front door and that thing you see poking up out of the snow is a 2ft planter.
All in all it was a very productive day - Ben got a lot of important things done on his computer (and some fun things too), the girls had fun playing and watching the snow and birds,
laundry soap is made, two loaves of bread are baked ...