Yikes! It’s Oct 22. That means 2 things. First, I’m very behind on my promise of a monthly post. But hey, it’s still October. Second, this is my last day in the 20’s. Yep, the big Three-O is tomorrow. Considering my mom’s 30th birthday party is one of my earliest memories, I’m beginning to feel old. Kinda.

Brandon is really enjoying his classes at Covenant. One of his classes requires him to be in a small group with other first year students and a professor. The professor in his group is “Bob” Yarbrough. He’s a well known New Testament scholar and author. One of his books was actually recommended to Brandon prior to attending Covenant. Ironically, when Bob was in seminary one of the guys in his small group was Matt Floding, the NWC chaplain Brandon’s freshman year of college.

Joanna is saying new words nearly every day. Although she’s still quite a bit behind most of her peers, we’re encouraged by the progress she’s made in the last month. We had her 2 year pictures taken the other day, and I can’t believe how much she’s changed into a little girl instead of a toddler since we came back from Israel. This is the outfit she wore in her pics…

Ellie is sleeping through the night most nights. Yeah for sleep! She’s such a happy baby and quite frequently indulges us with smiles. This is a pic from her 2 month birthday.


It’s finally happening. After 2 months in Saint Louis, we’re actually finding routine. It’s been quite the rollercoaster of events these past few months.

First we had the move, unpacking, finding our way around St Louis and preparing for a baby.

Then came the baby. Ellie joined our family one month ago and Brandon’s RA staff arrived the same day. (Talk about impeccable timing). Brandon was super busy with training and preparing for campus to open so Grandma Barb was here for the first week and Grandma Kathy came for week 2. Kathy’s visit was cut a bit short due to the death of Brandon’s Grandma Van Marel.

We got word on Saturday that it probably wouldn’t be much longer for Grandma so Brandon drove Kathy back to Orange City. He was able to talk to Grandma and say his goodbyes. She passed away Sunday morning. After being in OC 13 hours, he was on the road again for the 9 hour trip home. We had 3 days to pack and get things in order here, and then we were all headed to Orange City.

On Thursday made the trip to Orange City in 10 hours…not bad with 2 kids. 🙂 We were able to be at the visitation that evening and the funeral the next morning. Grandma was a special lady and she blessed many people in her 97 years.

Friday afternoon we traveled to Omaha for Kelly’s brother’s wedding. Friday night was rehearsal and Saturday afternoon we had the wedding. Joanna was a super cute flower girl. She ran down the aisle, realized she hadn’t dropped any flowers, proceeded to hold the basket high above her head to dump out all the flowers, and promptly found her place by Grandma and Grandpa. Three week old, Eliana slept through the whole thing, but she sure looked cute in the dress Grandma Barb made for her. Hopefully our beauties didn’t show up the bride and groom. Brett couldn’t have found a better match and we’re glad to have Amanda as our sister-in-law.

Sunday we headed back to Saint Louis. Unfortunately this trip also took us 10 hours when we expected it to take 8. Boo! Oh well, at least we were home safe.

Last week was our detox week. (Grandparents and aunts/uncles sure know how to spoil these kids.) This week I think we’re all finally on track. Although life has been a bit of a whirlwind, God has sustained us through it all. We are grateful for his strength. Who knows what September will bring.

On August 8 at 3:55 a.m., Eliana Jean was born. She weighed in at 6 lbs, 8 oz and was 19 1/2 inches. Her name means “God has answered.” In the past year, we have experienced many answers to prayer and several of them had her in mind.

We think she looks a lot like her big sister…

Joanna is adjusting quickly to being the big sister. We’re praying these sisters will also be good friends.

Until next month…

Many of you have been praying for us and our next step in life. The past week has been quite a whirlwind and God has answered those prayers. Last week, Brandon was offered a job as a Resident Director at Missouri Baptist University. We accepted on Friday and are packing the moving truck on Thursday night! Crazy? Yes. And here are answers to some questions you might be asking…

Why so soon? There is a 1 month wait period before we can get on the college’s health insurance. They agreed to have Brandon’s contract start on July 1 if we’re there by Monday. That means insurance kicks in August 1, giving baby girl #2 a 10 day lead time. Please pray that she doesn’t make an early appearance. I know that’s a strange request from a pregnant woman in the summer, but I’m willing to wait this time around.

What happened to seminary? MoBap is actually located within walking distance from Covenant Seminary, Brandon’s #1 choice for a seminary. The RD job at MoBap will be much less time intensive than his role at NWC. At NWC he had 9 RAs and 200 men in the dorm. MoBap has 4 RAs and 100 men. Given the structure at MoBap, Brandon will be able to attend seminary part-time for now and possibly full-time in the near future.

Where will you live? In the dorm with 100 guys. My odds are getting better! When we started at NWC it was 201 men and me. Then Joanna came and we doubled our end of the ratio 2:201. Now I’m getting another girl and there are less boys…3:101! We’re also getting a very nice apartment. It has 3 bedrooms, new carpet, appliances and paint. Oh and did I mention there is a guest room down the hall? Visitor’s are welcome. 🙂

How come we haven’t heard from you in forever? Blogging, aka free writing, is not my favorite thing to do. I think I’d rather clean the bathroom. I thought blogging would be a good way to keep up with family and friends while we were in Israel and share some of our adventures with them. When we got back, I needed a break. Now that we’re moving away from family and friends again I’ve decided to return to blogging. Kinda. My plan is to blog at least once a month. So look for me again in late July or early August.

How are you adjusting? We’re all doing pretty well. A friend from Israel summed it up best, “Life in Israel is simple but not easy. Life in the US is easy but not simple.” We enjoy the ease of life here but miss the simplicity of Israel. This paragraph could go on but I’ll keep it short and sweet for now.

And in order to indulge Joanna’s Grandpas, Grandmas, Aunts and Uncles, here’s a cheesy picture just for you.

We wanted to jot a quick post to let everyone know we made it to the states safely. We left for the Tel Aviv airport at 12:45 am on Thursday (Israel time) and arrived at our “summer home” in Orange City at 9 am on Friday (Israel time). We would love to say the trip home was uneventful, but we ran into a couple snags. At first Joanna wasn’t ticketed correctly in the system so we spent some time in Tel Aviv straightening out her ticket. In Frankfort we had a 1/2 hour flight delay due to mechanical problems. When we arrived in Chicago there was a delay in getting our bags off the plane, related to that mechanical problem, which made us miss our connecting flight to Omaha. Thankfully they were able to get us on the next flight. After 32 hours of travel, we are very thankful to be done with that part of our transition. Now we need to work on the jetlag.

3 days left that is! Yikes! Where has the time gone. We’ve had guests here the past week and they’ve loved on Joanna quite a bit. Here are some of the pics they’ve taken.

One morning while we were getting ready, Joanna came up to me dressed in this…nothing but her diaper and tennies. Very funny guys!

Please pray for our travels home. We have a layover in Germany so we need prayers that the volcano doesn’t cause flight cancellations. Our flight departs at 5 am Israel time on Thursday (9pm CST, Wednesday). We have layovers in Germany and Chicago and will arrive in Omaha at 7:15 pm CST on Thursday (3:15 am Friday, Israel time). Then it’s on to Orange City to sleep off some jet-lag. 🙂

Sunday we went with the JUC group on the student activity day. They do one each semester. Last semester we went hiking in the Golan Heights. This time we went on a short hike in the Shephelah and then to the beach in Ashkelon.

The Shephelah is agricultural land here so it was really green. We got rained on a bit and it was cool, but the hike was beautiful and not too difficult for the pregnant lady. 🙂

At noon we barbecued and then headed to the beach. Joanna’s been near the beach a couple of times here but never in the water. This time she got to go in the water. She was very hesitant at first and took a little while to warm up to the idea of water rushing at her feet. Eventually, she figured out that the water came to her and she got excited each time a wave came close.

This was our last big outing as a family in Israel, and it was so much fun!