Saturday, July 30, 2011


The correct answer is what??
Oh my goodness, Alaska with family is a beautiful thing! After not being together for two years, the Ooms family--complete with Zack's fiancee, Leigh--headed waaaaay up to Anchorage, Alaska to enjoy each other's company, meet the newest member, and camp in this great wilderness.

Highlights for me included talking late into the night as the sun nearly set, getting into camping again after several years of being city-fied, and reveling in the sight of Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley), the highest peak in North America. Alaska is a strange and glorious place unlike any other locale I've experienced.

Check out the always concise and creative commentary and (more) photos of my dear sisters-in-law, Anne and Leigh. Really, visit Anne's blog to appreciate the photography skills of my family and catch a glimpse of the last frontier.

Denali National Park is only open to official bus traffic.
There it is! Denali.

We had a wonderful time together, but this vacation did bring out the deep reality of the "daily goodbye".  I had to come to terms, again, with the distance, the leaving, the separation through which we live. In the midst of laughter, dinner preparation, and Zack and Leigh's bridal registry, I was caught off guard by and wrestled with how very different my life in Hungary is and how much I miss by living so far from family. The truth of the situation wasn't new, but its depth occasionally surprised me. It's worth it, make no mistake, but missing day-to-day life with family is painful.  Our rich time together brought this truth to my mind and heart again and again.

After the difficult departure from the U.S. in a little over a week, I will be very thankful to enter back into life and ministry at the International Christian School of Budapest. Then, each day with students, neighbors, and friends will serve as a reminder that I don't give up family because God wants me to sacrifice. I don't face the daily goodbye in order to prove my faith or earn God's love.

No. I get to embrace a life lived by the Holy Spirit in me. I get to reflect on a God who gave up his family to come in human form and rescue me. I get to work toward and await an eternal home where I will worship a loving Heavenly Father alongside my family and my students and people I have yet to meet. The temporary sadness is real but so is the eternal reward.

Until then, I'll enjoy the family time we're given, work through the goodbyes, and laugh and weep with the God of the universe who carved the mountains, knows my heart's cry, and is planning a glorious ever after.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


English conversations whirl around me. Air conditioning and clothes dryers hum. Stores with endless shelves of goods stretch out before me. Billboards shout messages that I can fully understand. Friends and family are close at hand. It's summertime in the USA!

I am glad to be back for a visit after a couple of years of huge distance. Our family just got together in Alaska for a wonderful reunion. I'll be in Colorado at a conference until July 18, in Chicago the weekend of July 21st, tripping on down to Dallas, Texas shortly after that, and returning to Budapest on August 9th. Let's get together in the meantime! :)

(Today, I noticed several blog posts that I had written but never published. Sorry!! They are from throughout the spring semester. Time for a little catching up.)

It's nice to be back.

Thinking Christians

And the first place prize for a short story in the senior division goes to...

ICSB's Robert Brown!

pictured here as the comically evil Monsieur Thénardier of Les Mis

   A great delight of my job at the International Christian School of Budapest is the platform from which I may encourage students to be thinking Christians, to love God with their minds, and to worship with their whole lives in response to the Lord's mercy. This spring, my students represented this ideal well at the Short Story Competition hosted by the American International School here in Budapest.
  Several students placed in each age category and dear Robert (keep an eye out for this talented writer and film director) won first place. How wonderful that these students can be recognized for their efforts, worship God with their best, and show the gathered students and teachers from other schools that those who live by faith can also think creatively and deeply in this world. 

After all, we are made by and serve a creative God who holds the mysteries of the universe in his hand.

Since Then

Here is a really cool photo album (not mine) that incorporates old images of Budapest into the modern landscape. The website offers great views of this place I call home.

Quiet down

This weekend, the cold I had been fighting for days triumphed, so I sank onto the couch not to stir until Sunday evening. I'm thankful for a job that can be accomplished from a prone position on the weekends. Catching up on the sleep was important, but two days of whining (to myself) and emptying Kleenex boxes got old fast.

<--Picture me huddled here.

Tonight, I showered, bundled up, and set out on a walk. With another Kleenex in my hand and a mellow playlist in my ears, I walked to my favorite bridge for fresh air and a bit of perspective. Finally able to get my attention off of my own condition, I stood amazed at the instant perspective and stillness I found over the Danube. Turning my eyes to Jesus, I was renewed in spirit and reminded to worship.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:25-26