Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Happy Thanksgiving! We're still surrounded by unpacked boxes and numerous projects to do in our new house, but it was nice to take a break this week and enjoy some together time as a family.  I wanted to make the "Thanksgiving Tree" an annual tradition, but it didn't quite happen this year.  So we decorated for Christmas on Thanksgiving Day and made these 'thankful turkeys' the day after Thanksgiving...maybe we'll get things in the right order next year. ;)

 They boys had a great time coloring their turkeys and telling me what they wanted to thank God for today.  We're so thankful for our friends and family all around the world and the incredible ways God has carried us, guided us, and completely amazed us this last year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A few of my favorite things...

 We've been in our new house for a couple weeks now, and I think we're starting to feel settled.  Of course, many boxes still need to be unpacked and there are no pictures on the wall, but things are moving along.  :)  So here are a few pictures of some of our favorite things... hopefully it won't be too long before we post more pics of finished rooms. ;)

Even though the house doesn't have a yard, we're so blessed to have a large balcony on the 2nd floor... and the boys are finding it's large enough for bike races, running races, games, etc.  Most homes in Japan don't have yards, but outdoor space is always important and treasured.... and we appreciate that! :)

We loved our last apartment, but it was a middle apartment, so it didn't have a lot of windows.  Our new house has windows in every room, and we're loving all the natural light.

I don't know if they have refrigerators like this in other countries, but we've been wanting one ever since we moved to Japan... you can open the door from either side - how cool is that?!  Of course you can see we're used to much smaller refrigerators; now we can start buying more food than for just the next few days. ;)
LOVE these awesome built-in bookshelves in the boys room!

 The house has a great half-bath right off the living room; Noah especially loves it because he can reach the sink.  I think this last week he has washed his hands about 15 times a day. :)

 The kitchen has very efficient cabinet space but not a lot of counter space.  But right before we moved in, we discovered it had a built-in dish dryer!  It just looks like another cabinet, but it's a place to dry dishes so you don't have to use up counter space.  Our dishwasher (a.k.a. Brian) is loving this unique part of our new kitchen.
We love the open feeling of the living room and dining room... perfect for parties and small group Bible study. :)

And last, but definitely not least, we have a Japanese toilet, otherwise known as a washlet!  If you're not familiar with these, you can get them much fancier than ours, but this one has a seat warmer and bidet.  Make sure you try all the options on the washlet next time you fly through Japan or come to visit us! :)

Friday, November 02, 2012

House Blessing

Tonight some of our church family gathered at the new house to pray for our family, the house, the neighborhood, and our church as we start this new chapter in our church's life together.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship and being together as a family.  All the kids had a blast exploring and playing hide and seek in all the huge closets. ;)  Tomorrow's moving day!  Hopefully I'll remember to take a few pictures of the process.  We are in awe of how God has provided in such a mighty way... please keep praying for our family as we transition and meet our new neighbors!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If you like to talk to tomatoes...

 We just returned from our church's annual 'Trunk-or-Treat' event, and the boys had so much fun getting LOTS of candy and dressing up as Larry the Cucumber and Larry Boy from veggie tales. 
 Of course, it was good we got a few pictures of them smiling, because by the time a friend asked to take our family picture, apparently the smiles had disappeared... ;)
 But after filling their bags with candy and sitting down with a cupcake, they enjoyed a fun evening of playing with friends and found their smiles again. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

10 years!!!

Today is our 10th anniversary, and when I think about the last 10 years, I am in awe of how God has changed, challenged, and blessed us... what an adventure we've had!  Things are super busy right now, so we're planning on properly celebrating (i.e. getting away with no kids) when we're in the states next year.  But I couldn't let the special day get away without a little something, so here's a short look back on the last 10 years...

**Things I learned while making this video:
1.  I struggle with digital media... I'm much more comfortable with paper, scissors, and glue.  What seemed so simple in my mind ended up taking many many hours to complete. :)
2.  We have way too many pictures... I wanted to include pictures of everyone who has been a meaningful part of our journey so far, and I quickly found that was completely impossible.  So, this is just a random collection.
3. We have almost no pictures of just the two of us since we had children... this is something we'll work on in the next 10 years. ;)

Brian, I love you, and I can't wait to see what adventures God has for us in the next 10 years - please enjoy! :)

Friday, October 12, 2012


As I look back through the very random assortment of pictures we've taken the last few months, it seems our life has been filled with "firsts"... the first time of many new adventures. :)  While "firsts"  are sometimes a little scary or overwhelming, I'm so thankful we can always trust our God to be with us at every moment, whether we're feeling nervous or excited.   Here are some pics of new adventures in the life of our family....

School started!  Justin entered K-4 this year at Okinawa Christian School International.   I (Julie) have already been serving on the OCSI board, and we are friends with many of the faculty and staff, but we are so excited to join this community as students and parents.  Justin was a little nervous the first day, but after he got past his normal initial shy-ness, he is in love with school, his teachers, and classmates... let's hope this continues for many years. ;)
Noah also became a "big boy" this year and entered a 2-day program at the same preschool Justin attended.  Noah was incredibly distraught when Justin started school... they became quite inseparable this summer.  We thought he would have fun spending a little time with new friends while Justin is away.  He didn't transition as quickly as we thought he would, but he's okay now... I think he is just too used to a lot of one-on-one attention. ;)  I also think what thrills him most is that he now has a backpack, takes a lunch, and goes to school like his big brother. :)

We also had our first trip to the emergency room!  Noah loves closing doors, and one Saturday afternoon as a typhoon was approaching Okinawa, Noah smashed Justin's pinky finger in their bedroom door.  It was definitely a little scary, but praise God for helpful Japanese neighbors and google maps on Brian's iphone that quickly helped us get to the nearest hospital.  Justin's finger was broken (it was quite a smash), and we're still not sure what the nail and end of his finger will look like when it finishes healing.  But after the initial shock and pain, Justin's bandaged finger hasn't kept him from any of his normal activities.  He's starting to get excited about the "new nail" we keep telling him will someday come, but I think he might grow impatient when he realizes it has to take time to grow and it's not something we can just get at the store. ;)
But through this process, it has been amazing to observe his growing understanding of God and how he works in our lives.  As soon as the 'smash' happened, I started singing 'Jesus Loves Me' to Justin, and he not only stopped crying, but was very calm as we drove to the hospital.  We kept reassuring him as we talked and prayed that day and throughout this process that Jesus is always with him and is helping his finger heal.  The other night we saw a small improvement as we changed the bandaid, and his first response was, "Thank you, God!"  There are no words to describe the joy that comes when you see your children genuinely express praise to and trust in our amazing God. :)

Well, this is definitely not as dramatic as the last story, but it's a fun part of our life in Japan.  We love sushi, and frequently eat it at restaurants and at home.  Noah was excited recently that we let him eat seaweed like the rest of us (he finally has enough teeth to chew it).   And Justin was super excited  that we took him to a kaiten sushi restaurant for the first time.  If you've never been to one before, all the plates of sushi go around the restaurant on a small conveyor belt, and you just choose which ones you want to eat.  It's very fun, but we hadn't taken the boys yet because we thought the temptation to interact with the conveyor belt might be too much to overcome at their ages.  Justin was well-behaved, but he did get pretty distracted watching the conveyor belt, and ended up taking off more plates of sushi than he could actually eat. :)  We will be in the states for 3 months next year to speak in churches, and I'm very curious to see how our 'Asian' boys survive without things like seaweed, Japanese rice, and sushi on a regular basis. ;)

And now for some very big news.... we are moving!  Not away from Okinawa, but to a new house!!!  For many years our church has been renting a house or apartment for the pastor to live in.  We love our apartment, but it makes much more sense for the church to purchase a house for the pastor.  So about a year ago, our leadership team prayerfully decided to start looking for a house or land.  It has been an interesting time of waiting on God and trusting that he would show us where he wants us to be.  At times it was pretty discouraging; when you looked at our budget and the area of the island our church is in (very expensive), it seemed we may never find what we were looking for.  But we serve a God of surprises and faithfulness, and a few months ago, we found a house in our budget, only 10 minutes away from the church, and meeting and exceeding nearly all the criteria we listed when we first started this process.  It was obvious from the first time we visited the house that God was leading us in this direction.  It looks like the final papers will be signed sometime next week and we plan to move in the first weekend of November!!!!

So it's been an action-packed fall so far, and as I look at the calendar, it will just get busier.  Please pray for our family as we continue to adjust to new schedules and adventures.  Pray for our church as we are taking a step of faith with our parsonage purchase.  And pray for us as we enter a new neighborhood and seek God's guidance on how he is working in the lives of our new neighbors.  Well, thanks for making it to the end of this long post... maybe the next post will be pictures of our move... yikes, I need to start packing! :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Fun

 I can't believe the summer is almost finished... as usual, we looked forward to it for so long, and it went by so quickly. :)  Here's a brief recap of some of the fun we've been having this summer...
 Our summer started with a visit from Julie's parents!  This is a picture of the boys after decorating Grandma Jill's room. :)  We spent a lot of time just relaxing at home (always wonderful), but we also did some new things together...

Bingata - Mom and I had so much fun learning about this traditional Okinawan style of painting fabric.

We visited the Tropical Dream Center in the northern part of Okinawa - amazing flowers and gardens!

We also visited "Okinawa World" in the southern part of the island - it has a really cool cave, lots of cultural demonstrations, and a snake show!

As always, it was hard to say goodbye, but we'll see them again in less than a year!

After they left, we started to fill our days with trips to the zoo....

and LOTS of time at the beach. :)
We have also been spending a lot of time at home: reading, playing outside in the sandbox, creating new games, and trying out ideas Mommy finds on pinterest... like painting with cars. :)


We have also been planning a family vacation!  This was the first real vacation we've been on since Noah was born, not counting visiting family in the states.  Since we're blessed to be surrounded by beautiful beaches, we decided to head north to the mountains of mainland Japan.  We spent 4 days in Norikura and had a wonderful time of relaxing, hiking, playing, and just enjoying being together. Here are a few pictures, but MANY more can be found on Julie's facebook. :)

One of the highlights of the trip was taking the boys to play putt-putt golf for the first time.  Justin has only seen golf on TV, so he first asked if people were going to watch us and cheer for us... Then after each hole, he picked up his ball, held it high above his head, and turned around for everyone to see... I definitely see a golfer in the making... :)

Before we headed home to Okinawa, we visited Matsumoto Castle, the oldest castle in Japan.
So, in two weeks, we have Vacation Bible School at church, and then Justin will be starting K-4 at Okinawa Christian School International! Enjoy the rest of your summer... we certainly will! :)