Category Archives: Life

Charlie Looking at His Reflection (Video)

Well, we haven’t done a blog for a while about Charlie, and we thought this little video would be fun to share. We are so thankful to God for this little guy – he brings so much joy to our lives, along with a whole lot of  tiredness!!

Our Little Secret

There are some secrets that are easy to keep and some that aren’t. We want to let you in on a little secret that isn’t staying so little anymore. But thanks to living 8,500 miles away, we have been able to keep it a secret for about 16 weeks.


That’s right, we’re going to have an extra pair of feet to cover this October, another passport photo to get in November, more Christmas gifts to buy in December, an extra plane ticket to add to our trans-Atlantic/trans-Africa return tickets in January, and another car seat to buckle into our SUV when we get back. 

After our miscarriage in January, we have been waiting to make sure that this baby is healthy before making the announcement, and as of an ultrasound on Tuesday and lots of strong movement today, it seems that the baby may give Charlie a run for his high-energy money! We praise God for His good gifts to us and look forward to meeting Charlie’s little brother or sister in a little over 5 months!

Fun in the Sun

Derek and I just got back from a great getaway with our friends, the Hetricks, to Florida. It was a time of firsts for us, as Derek had never been to Florida OR to the Atlantic Ocean, and neither of us had ever been to the Gulf of Mexico.

Apart from the 50+ hours in the car on the way there and back, we spent lots of time playing pool volleyball, swimming in the Gulf (no oil!), jumping waves and boogie boarding in the Altantic, and touring all the must-see places in the Tampa Bay area, like the Skyway Bridge, Ft. DeSoto, Ybor (Little Cuba), and eating at different mom and pop’s seafood restaurants.

August in Florida is HOT and HUMID. The Gulf was about 88 degrees when we went swimming, so it didn’t offer much refreshment from the 100-degree heat index. But the Atlantic Ocean was so fun, and I got to try boogie boarding again, which was a blast!

Here are some pictures of our time down there:

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Can You Smell It?

Spring is in the air. Maybe one day technology will offer the ability to transfer smells through the internet. But let’s just pretend for now that you can smell this blog (assuming that you have the capability of smelling in the first place…sorry, Jenni!).

Isn’t that smell just glorious? The first load of sheets/clothes hanging on the line this spring – aaaahhhhhh. 80 degrees outside with a perfect breeze blowing and not a cloud in the sky. When I think of spring and summer, this is what I think of.

(And one secret that I discovered to bring a touch of midwestern summer to a cold winter is taking that last chance to hang sheets on the line and then storing them away for a couple months. Right around the first or second week of January, beat those winter blues by using these sheets. It really is amazing how such a small thing boosts one’s morale!)

There are a couple other fragrant things I think of at this time of year – and you definitely want to smell these! (Unfortunately, no pics). Basil burgers* sizzling on the grill and then going inside to the smell of hot biscuits for strawberry shortcake.

*Basil Burgers*

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and form into 3/4″ patties. Grill for preferred doneness. And if you like, throw a couple slices of Farmer cheese (or some other white mild cheese) on each burger a couple minutes before removing from grill. Warning: you’ll never go back to regular burgers after trying these babies!

Off To Michigan This Weekend

This weekend, we are heading out to Michigan to speak at Kristin’s home church (First Baptist Church of Mt. Pleasant) about Zambia and the C.R.O.S.S. Project!

Please pray for us as we speak and travel. We will not be arriving until early in the morning Sunday and will have a pretty full day. But we are very much looking forward to spending some time with all of the folks at Kristin’s home church as well as with her parents. It is such a blessing to be able to share with people that meant so much to you growing up and that God used to mold and shape you.
Thanks for all your prayers and support as we prepare to go to Zambia!!

Only 1.5 Years To Live

Right now, I am 28.5 years old and in the prime of my life…no wrinkles, no aches or pains, no need for bifocals or hearing aids, no walker or cane, no mid-life crisis, no blood pressure or cholesterol meds…you get the picture. I still have my whole life ahead of me with lots of plans (God willing, of course) for marriage, family, “career,” hobbies.

My life would look a million times different if I had been born in Zimbabwe – for many obvious reasons. One of which is that I would only be expected to live to see my 30th birthday. Women in Zimbabwe have the lowest life expectancy of anyone in the world due to HIV.

My sister, Molly, just turned 30. She has 4 kids, ages 7, 5 1/2, 4, and 1 1/2. Pretty sobering, huh?

I Will [Not] Miss…

As we have been preparing to return to Zambia, I have sort of been creating a mental list of things that I will miss or not miss about living here and things that I am either looking forward to or not looking forward to about living in Zambia.

Here is my Top Ten list:

10. I most definitely will miss having a Caribou nearby. (One of the reasons I love Caribou is that it’s local…for the most part. But also, their coffee just tastes better than Starbucks – sorry, Starbucks fans!) After having a South African version of a latte, I would even settle for a Starbucks, but the closest one is in either Brazil, Turkey, or Greece (it’s a toss up).

9. I am really looking forward to living in a tropical place.

8. I am NOT looking forward to checking under toilet seats for spiders or cockroaches before sitting down or getting surprised by the 4-inch long grasshopper hiding under the shower head…after already starting my shower!

7. I am going to miss being at all my nieces and nephews’ birthday parties.

6. I am looking forward to my Bible reading coming alive from living in a culture more similar to the Bible’s.

5. I was going to say that I am going to miss driving on American roads, but after this winter and the ginormous potholes it left every few feet, I don’t know. But I will say that it is nice driving down the road without the possibility of hitting a goat, chicken, or stray cow.

4. I am looking forward to living amongst Zambians and learning from them. One thing (of many) I love about Zambians is their definition of “on time.” Let’s just say that it coincides very nicely with the Carlson definition of it, but even more so.

3. I will miss not going to Bethlehem every weekend for church.

2. I am looking forward to living in a place where it’s impossible to not think about eternity on a moment-by-moment basis.

1. I will NOT miss the bitterness of living in the path of an Arctic jet stream for 5 or 6 months out of the year and all the snow that comes with it.