Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chinese Proverb

In a broken nest there are few whole eggs.

Doesn't that about sum it up?

This is was another treasure found in my finally dwindling email box. It came from an interesting article by David Stewart, Jr.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hearts of the Innocent

One of the great things about being a homemaker is that I finally have time to go through the last four years of paperwork, clean up my files and attack my overflowing email inbox. Each day, my goal is to take care of 25 old emails (in addition to the new day's email).

My email has often been used as own personal to do list. So today I found a reminder to myself to add the Kutless song, "Hearts of the Innocent" to the COD soundtrack. The email's only a year old, so I'm not too far behind!

Hearts of the Innocent
by Kutless

I’m looking down into the eyes of hopelessness
They’re crying out to me
I see the pain it’s so much more than youth should know
It tears me apart
What can I do to change what I see
This vicious cycle must come to an end

Can’t you see, we’re crushing the hearts of the innocent
We’re teaching them to fail
And how it breaks me to see how we’re living and punishing the ones that need us to care
To see them hurting
Feels like knuckles to the back of my head
Where have the days gone that a promise was forever
Families stuck together
We wonder why their generation struggles to get by
There’s no one to help what can I do to change what I see
This vicious cycle must come to an end

Sunday, September 09, 2007

All I Want For September...

Jen's new teeth!

Jen's old teeth...

Many moons ago, when I was a young pre-teen girl, I was on vacation with my family in Colorado. We were visiting my mom's sister and her family. One day we were out on a golf course. I had never been golfing before. My stepdad and uncle were showing my cousin and I how to swing the club. Apparently, I missed the part about keeping proper distance from someone armed with, I mean, swinging, a golf club. My cousin made a hole in my two front teeth.

Fortunately, my uncle was a plastic surgeon, and know a dentist who could see me right away. When he finished giving me my new teeth, he warned me that they would only likely last a few years...or until I fell face first into a icy cement sidewalk.

In the last few years, I had more urgent priorities in my recovery. But now, thanks to my husband's insurance policy. I finally have nice new two front teeth!

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Official Wedding Photos: The Ceremony

More wedding photos are now available. These are from our official photographer. There are several groupings. The first batch is our ceremony.

One Year Ago...How Niels & I Met

I've had several requests for this story, and since today marks the one year anniversary of Niels in my life, this seems the perfect time to tell it.


In contrast to those who say that God will send Mr. Right when you have your life in order, my life had to first get complete un-ordered. One year ago...

• My heart was broken from a relationship that didn't work out.
• My adopted family had moved to China.
• I lost a job I loved because my post-head injury health never got back to a point where I could no longer work full time
• I realized that because of the above point, I'd have to sell my house.

Happy times, eh?

I knew I needed a change of scenery to start the healing process. In August, I spent a week in Ohio where, oddly enough, where my ex lives, handing out with some new friends trying to figure out a new life plan.

For reasons I couldn't articulate, I had felt God leading me to move to Ohio. When I first sense to prompting, I was dating someone there and the move made sense. But after our breakup, the leading didn't go away, thus leading me to a very frustrating time of questioning my ability to discern God's will.

I decided to pursue the, move until I sensed a closed door. But I moved slowly visiting for a week a month, for several months. During my second visit, in September of last year, I was staying with my friend, Becca. One night, we drove up to Cleveland to go ballroom dancing. Unfortunately, the place had cancelled the lessons...without updating the website. We drove an hour for nothing. On the way back, we were talking about guys (She had also just broken up with her boyfriend). I was telling her about and that I was starting to browse but not sure my heart was ready for anything yet. When we got home I logged on to show her how it works. I did a search of guys in Cleveland, "if, for example, I wanted to find a guy to go dancing with."

Niels' profile came up and laughed when I read the part about "I'm looking for someone who won't mind that her in-laws will live half the world away." I learned that up until a few years ago, he lived in the Netherlands. He loved to read and travel and his profile made me laugh. I moved my mouse over the "wink" icon to show my friend how that works (at that point, I wasn't about to initiate any conversations). I logged off, went to bed, and didn't think anything of it.

Turns out I had clicked "wink" when I showed Becca the site. Niels got my wink and checked out my profile. As a good Dutchie, he knows all about Grand Rapids--in fact, it was the first US city he visited--and has "adopted" family in Holland, MI. So we started writing...then talking on the phone...and then he made plans to visit me in Michigan.

As he tells it, he was smitten from the first time he saw me (about two weeks later). It took me a little longer, and because he came on so strong, my messed up heart got confused. But he was amazingly patient and won me over.

When we first met, my comment to friends was, "I've never been a fan of the idea of having a guy as a best friend, but with Niels, I can see the appeal." He's smart, fascinating and I love spending time with him. But I don't think my heart knew how to accept real love, so I was unsure of my romantic feelings.

In October, while in Ohio, I was rear-ended. Niels drove from Cleveland to Canton to check up on me. But the first romantic spark came for me later that month when he was visiting me in MI. I was still pretty sore from my accident and I needed to go to Chicago to get my visa for my upcoming trip to China. Niels took a day off work (making me feel special) to drive up to GR, and then take me to Chicago. The night before we left, Bailey needed to go out. Niels saw that I was finally comfortable on the couch so he took her out. She went #2. Niels didn't have a dog, but he came in, got a little baggie and got the do. I saw him go into the bathroom to flush it, and heard him gag as he did. But he never said a word or complained about it. At that point I thought, "There's a guy who's willing to love sacrificially"

We had a great time in Chicago the next day. He impressed me by driving to Chicago for the first time and finding the consulate without once referring to a map. (He had Googled directions before coming to MI). We were able to take care of business at the consulate by noon, and spent the rest of the day enjoying the great city. We had a great time and on the way back we had an amazing conversation that really turned my heart to him.

Shortly before I went to China for Christmas and he went to Holland we had a really good talk about what a future might look like together. We didn't have any timeline in mind, but we liked the overall idea. My heart was still afraid he might change his mind...after all, there are plenty of non-head injured, employed, thin American girls for him to choose from. Fortunately, he was undeterred. He wanted me. :-)

Two days after I arrived in China, there was an earthquake in Taiwan, which destroyed the internet cables connecting mainland China to the rest of the world. I was there three weeks, and never had a connection to US sites. But, after a few days, I could connect with Niels because he was in Holland. So it was a trust exercise for me. He was my only connection to the US.

So he was checking my email and telling me if I got anything interesting. Dad sent an email telling me he was going to Israel and had a layover in Amsterdam. I hadn't told my parents about Niels yet, so my comment to Niels was, "That's not fair that Dad gets to go to Holland before me!." That led Niels to the Net where he found a cheap flight to get in Amsterdam the same day as dad.

In January when we got back to the States (I was starting to live with a family in Ohio at this point), we decided we never wanted to be apart that long again. We started talking dates, again, kind of as a joke. I said that my COBRA expired in November and he's at a point where it would be cheaper for him to get a green card than face the legal fees of the next step in his residency process. From there, we knew that the Kennedys would be in the States in July, and my friend Jen was due July 9. So we called Lakeside Banquet Center, recommended by friends, and they were free July 27 and 29. When I realized that July 29 would have been my mom and dad's 40th anniversary, we decided to redeem the day.

Things went pretty fast after that. I help Niels buy a house in North Canton in February. We went to Europe in March. I met his family, he met my dad, and on March 20, he proposed to me in Paris in a garden at the foot of the Eiffel Tower (sigh)...

We had a hectic but wonderful four-month engagement, and on July 29, 2007, I became Mrs. Niels de Jong!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gates and Walls

On Tuesday night, Niels and I were at small group with our house church. In recent weeks, we've been focusing on the topic of Good News, and what it means to live out Christ's gospel in a practical way. We've been talking about the people in our lives...friends, family, co-workers, neighbors. Those who have been part of life for all of our lives, those who've moved or we've moved away from, and new friends.

Sometimes in conversations like this, I discover word to describe concepts that have been hidden just out of my mind's reach. On Tuesday, I found new words: Gates and Walls.

It's not always easy to connect with the people of lives. Sometimes physical distance creates a hurdle. Sometimes emotional distance create the block. At the same time, the people in our lives tend to come in groups: family, church friends, co-workers, fellow sports enthusiasts, etc.

On Tuesday, a friend shared a list with us, of friends and family with whom he'd like to more closely connect. The list was overwhelming, so he asked us for help getting started. As he spoke, I made a mental list of my own. I think we'd all like to be in the position of knowing that everyone we values, values us equally in return. Unfortunately, reality tends to look differently.

As I considered the groups in my life, I realized that some people are Gates and some are Walls. I tend to get down when the Walls don't open like Gates. I tend to underestimate the power of Gates to open the way to make new Gates. When overwhelmed by the relationships in our life, it seems that a good start is to go through the Gate.