So I Tied An Onion To My Belt – 2019 Edition

The start of 2019 required patience — sticking to the same patterns for nearly 4 years doesn’t come easy for me, but sometimes that’s best. Fortunately, we had our first escape in March: a couple’s vacation to Mexico with some great friends from college. Going somewhere just to relax is a relatively new experience, but it went well — aside for a couple days of Montezuma’s Revenge near the end!

When we got back, we started putting things in place for some needed changes. First, Nic got a new car, to keep us in shape for road trips to Canada. Then, after finally getting some clarity on professional transitions, we were able to nail down our summer plans. A July start for a new job meant that we got one more trip to Florida from my previous employer — and allowed me to stick around long enough to launch my second product.

After Nic and the kids were done with Universal Studios, I handed in my two-weeks notice, and we went off to Family Camp — during which I signed the final papers for my new job. We squeezed in one more little get-away with some friends at Darien Lake, then the kids were back to school and I was thrust into almost non-stop business travel. As a result, the fall was necessarily a little more quiet on the home front. Simpler things like tinkering with projects, going on Girl Scout trips, horse-back riding, and kayaking in our beautiful State parks provided small escapes from responsibility.

The best escape had to wait until the end of the year. Ben pushed through another challenging half school year, on the brink of becoming a teenager. To celebrate his 13th birthday, we planned a surprise trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where he and I got to explore the new Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars land. An early morning got us into the brand new Rise of the Resistance ride, and let us see most of the rest of the park as well. Ben built a droid, we drank blue milk, and got to nerd out together on this, the last of his Star Wars birthdays.

We flew out, via Atlanta, where we met up with the girls, en route to Grand Cayman. There we spent a wonderful week with my parents, enjoying their sunny paradise. Nic and I got to try a scuba diving lesson, she and the kids got to play with some dolphins, and we all got to explore the coral reef as we snorkeled around 7 mile beach.

It was a wonderful cap on a pretty great year. 2020 will be an interesting one. Of course, we have some travel planned, having ended up in sort of an every-other-year pattern for some of our favorite adventures. But there will have to be new ones too. Our new teenager starts high school (a year early here) and we’ll have to figure out what makes the most sense for him — as well as thinking hard about what kinds of family experiences are important for our kids in the few years we have left with them.

For now, though, we’re happy and healthy in Ohio, and looking forward to what God leads us through in the next year. Family Photos have been updated — find the link and password hint on the home page.

So I Tied An Onion To My Belt – 2018 Edition

Another year behind us! Hard to believe this is will be our fourth in Ohio, and I’m past the 3 year mark in basically the same job — a record, for me! If 2017 was a culmination, 2018 was an opportunity to enjoy some of the rewards of the work we’ve put into carving out a spot for the Wises in the Mid-West.

Professionally, Shelby pulled in 2 awards for the product, another for the team, and one for me personally. At the same time, we started the follow-up effort, dubbed Sherlock internally. Its been fun working with two talented teams on stuff that has the potential to change an industry, and the recognition is nice too. It afforded me with a few opportunities to travel; San Diego, Sweden, and Poland were great, but going to Sydney, Australia with Nicole was the highlight!


Jon and Nic in Downtown Sydney

For the kids, Nic’s involvement in their school has been a real blessing, giving her the opportunity to guide their growth outside the home. Eli relishes school and hasn’t yet experienced any real challenges. But because of some funding changes, both Ben and Abi were launched into Middle School in the fall, and although some adjustment was necessary, they’ve both managed to find their footing academically and socially in the new environment.

Speaking of new environments, 2018 was the year we finally found a church home: a small gathering of practical and servant-hearted believers in a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation 15 minutes from home. We served at a CMA church in urban Cleveland for our first 3 years here, and this was our second summer going to a CMA Family Camp. We find their doctrinal positions and missions focus to be roundly satisfying, and while no church is perfect, this one feels like home.

The best part of a good home, of course, is having a launch pad from which to take off, and we had plenty of opportunity for adventure — with 3 weddings to attend, road trips to Ontario, and a flight out West to visit dear friends and much-missed family. We spent nearly 2 weeks in Alberta and BC on a beautiful lake, and the mountains in-between, affirming our resolve to get out that way at least every other year.


Dock Life in Moyie, BC with the Wises and Epps


Seattle friends that met us in BC

For 2019 we want to maintain our launch pad, which is budgeted to include some plumbing work and a light kitchen renovation. Our cars are both about decade old and although they’re running fine today, we keep awaiting the day one or both kicks the bucket. And of course, travel is high on the list of priorities. In Ohio, kids are done school in May, giving us almost a month where the popular destinations aren’t too busy (although we’ll likely look outside the popular spots!) We have no more idea what the future holds than we have in year’s past, but looking back, its clear that the Lord is faithful, so as for me and my house, we will do our best to serve Him.


Cousins in Ontario at Christmas

So I Tied An Onion To My Belt – 2017 Edition

So we’ve begun our third year in Ohio, and it looks like we’re sticking around. 2017 was a little more expensive than we had initially planned, but we managed to pull it all off and end the year in the black.
After springing for an over-due trip to Europe for Nic and I in 2016, we got the opportunity to do it again early in 2017 — this time exploring Swiss Alps, piggy-backing on a work trip. Definitely an advantage to having Nana and Papa within driving distance!
The summer was the culmination of my professional efforts here in Ohio, with the launch of my very first product. Not my first product launch, but the first time that the product being launched was mine. As Product Owner for a pretty awesome team, it was exciting to see it coming to life — and get a pretty positive reception from customers and partners alike. It would have been a good time for an exit, something we opted to skip this time — but others did not. There may yet be a second act to Shelby, so we’ll see how that shapes up in 2018. Plus it gave us an excuse to take a family trip to Disney World in Florida, which was great for the kids — especially because Grandma was able to join us!

The kids continue to thrive in school. Ben’s done much better in the gifted program, Abi’s never had any academic challenges but the social adjustment was toughest on her — but she’s got that figured out now, and Eli pretty much runs her first grade class. Nic remains very involved at the school, taking on the role of treasurer of the PTO this year — experiencing all the drama and workload of a workplace, but without any sort of financial compensation for her effort. It does keep her close to the kids, and gives her a voice in school matters. Our county will go through some budget reductions next year, so knowing what’s coming as far as school closings and re-arrangements helps us think ahead.
We’re also on our third attempt at finding a church home. Volunteering every other weekend at a downtown church has been our most consistent church life experience. Finding something close to home to make our regular weekly commitment to has been an exercise in frustration, so hopefully this one works. We did get an invite to join in to a denominational family camp this past summer, which made for some wonderful memories for the kids — and maybe a new annual tradition.

We celebrated Christmas not in snow, but basking in the sun in Grand Cayman, which is a much better place to be than Ohio in the winter. The transition back to the cold and snow was pretty brutal, but it was a great visit with my parents, and definitely another trip we’d like to repeat.

In 2018 we hope to make it west-ward to see my family all in one place, and visit some friends and scenery we miss. Otherwise, more home maintenance/improvement projects, and keeping our older (but much loved) cars on the road should about consume our spare money and time budgets. Some changes will probably be necessary at work, to continue to grow, but we’ll try to keep those limited to ones that won’t change home life too much…

So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2016 Edition

Another onion post! Where does this come from, anyway? Abe Simpson, of course!
Now where were we? Oh ya, 2016 — arguably the worst year in recent history! And that prognosis came before we found out that Princess Leia died!
Still, it was a pretty good year for our little clan. 2015 had another big move, so in 2016 we learned to settle in a little — without ever settling.
The kids found good friends in our new neighborhood, and our home is often filled with the happy voices of kids. We got a trampoline and an inflatable pool big enough for our 3 and the four down the street who appeared often in our house this summer. School is also going well, after some adjustment period. Ben found himself at another new school in the fall, as he was routed into a gifted program due to his “superior cognitive ability” and “exceptional mathematics” — a challenge he took mostly in stride. Abi struggled for awhile with the social aspect of the move (something that reinforces our desire to avoid any more major moves for awhile) but seems to have found her own. And Eli burst into Kindergarten in September, after a year of pre-school here, already reading and quite sure she should be the center of everyone’s attention. Nic volunteers at the school regularly, and enjoys seeing our kids blooming where they’ve been planted.
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We also managed to pull off three great trips: Grand Cayman to visit Grandparents and the West Coast to visit family and old friends, both with the kids, and Paris and southern Germany without the kids. It remains important to us that our kids grow up with a global perspective — but it was also really nice to get away just ourselves. We celebrated 15 years of marriage this summer, so it was worth marking that milestone with a long overdue adventure for the two of us.
We moved churches in the fall. The immediate area lacks the cross-culture exposure we desire for our children, so we thought we should at least benefit from the terrific teaching of a large and well-known church about 45 minutes away. The teaching was indeed fantastic, but the trip was too long, and the church body too large to feel like we could make it home in any reasonable amount of time. We decided instead to do our weekly involvement in a smaller church closer to our house, and get our culture (and drive time!) through periodic ministry with an urban church in downtown Cleveland, where the kids help us teach a Sunday School class every other Saturday evening.
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Despite my original expectation of a reduced pace of work away from the tech elite of the west coast, things haven’t really slowed down professionally. My job is a mix of things I’m good at and familiar with and areas to grow and learn, with a new level of leadership that I’m furiously reading books to try to become competent at — with some success so far.
From where things look now, 2017 promises a new level of adulting, as most of the discretionary funds are already ear-marked for home improvements and furniture upgrades — our sofa set having now survived 3 babies! But although we may be slowing down for a season, we remain excited for the future, eager to serve our loving God, who has shown us such great mercy, and to find ways to show His love to others. I often ask Him why He has not tasked us with more tangible expressions of that duty, but I’m encouraged by the example of others that God’s good work in us is a life-long journey, and we’ve only just begun.

So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2015 Edition

Another year down: another big move, another set of trips and adventures, new schools, new jobs… 2015 was a full one. Since this annual post has become a tradition, and is getting close to the only post a year, it seems like a re-cap is in order.
We had an inkling early in the year that the winds of change were blowing. We didn’t know what direction they were headed, but there was a sense of urgency that we needed to close things out. Truthfully, we always knew our time on the west coast would be limited, but we felt like we had a lot left to see. We squeezed in as many trips as we could as the weather got nicer, and started praying in earnest about what was next. We explored the Olympic Peninsula, flew to San Diego to visit Lego Land with my parents, got back to BC a couple times, and even pulled off a summer road trip with some sweet friends down to Oregon, where we saw Crater Lake and the Oregon Caves.
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I had a few casual discussions with some folks in my network about where I might be able to apply my professional skills, and even flew to California on my own dime to attend a conference from an old employer, and see if maybe there was something interesting to sink my teeth into there. We knew it would mean a move back east — but we’d kinda made peace with that. When we decided to accept the job offer, we determined that this time we were going to roadtrip cross-country and see as much as we could.
It ended up being two road trips for me. One on my own, to start work and scout out the area. The other, with the family, with stops in Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore — and a couple other less memorable places, was a wonderful experience that we’d recommend to anyone.
The new home is great, on a couple acres of property in a township that reminds us very much of where we both grew up in Canada. We can get to Nic’s old home to visit with family in about 5 hours of driving (as opposed to 5 hours of flying!), and we still get paid in US dollars — which is a plus. However, while the base income is comparable, and the cost of living is lower, gone are the days of semi-annual bonuses big enough to buy a new car. Our tour on the west coast got us to all our financial goals, with rapid growth and intense work. Now we’re forced to be a little more deliberate, and to move at a pace that is a little more drawn out. This is true of both the new job, where things move much slower than I’m used to, and the new income, where the “Christmas bonus” was measurable in hundreds of dollars (“don’t buy a pool” said my new boss, when indicating what to expect!)
But these limits are a little more “normal” than what we’ve grown accustomed to. And maybe normal isn’t a bad thing. If we’re careful, we can still do the things we want. This coming year we plan to visit my parents in Grand Cayman (with the kids), go to Europe for our 15th anniversary (without the kids), and visit friends and family (including my new niece!) on the west coast (with the kids.) Add to that some of the smaller adventures that come from being a part of a community — parties at co-workers houses, the county fair, season passes at a water park, our friend’s new hobby farm, road trips to Ontario and to revisit old stomping grounds in New York — and normal life might be OK.
In 2016, maybe we start to settle a little. Figure out how we’re going to get the kids through school. Figure out what life looks like for Nicole when all 3 are off to school all day every day. Figure out how we can serve others where God has placed us. And maybe, figure out how to infuse my new workplace with some of what I learned at my old ones…
In the past, we’ve planned our goals 1 to 3 years out. Now we’re starting to think about 15 — Eli in college, the house paid off, money in the bank for travel… Seems a lot riskier to plan for changes that far away, when we’ve been used to change at a much higher rate. But as we did then, we’re learning to leave the planning to God, and make our focus about obedience with what He puts in front of us. Whatever happens in 2016, we’re confident that His will is good and perfect, and that we want His plan — not ours.

So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2014 Edition

So its annual recap time. Usually I have a wealth of blog posts to draw on, and write this thing by wrapping summary prose around links. This year continues the steady decline of the website, so that all my posts for the last 12 months fit on one page. That doesn’t mean that life didn’t happen, just that there are other tools to document it now — and more and more reasons to document less. As our kids grow up, I’m aware that at some point they’ll have their own online identity to curate, and what I write here can impact that.
Said another way, our identity is slowly becoming “So-and-so’s parents” and it probably behooves us to keep some of our opinions to ourselves. (The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of our children!)
In fact, as much as they still are our little cherubs, I’m acutely aware that my 8-year (in particular, although this goes for the other two as well) is watching us closely, forming his own opinions of the world. While my teen years had their challenges, I enjoyed an optimistic and enthusiastic 20s, and the cynicism of my 30s shouldn’t be allowed to temper my kids enthusiasm for life.
So let’s stick to the facts. We traveled a fair bit this year — myself a little further abroad than the rest of the clan. I forgive myself for this on the rationalization that my need to explore (and the travel requirements of my job) exceeds that of my more easily contended (eg: patient) bride. But this won’t stand much longer, and related to my paragraph above about shaping my kid’s world view, we need to find more opportunities to help our kids explore beyond North America. This summer we had a few chances to stretch our legs along the West Coast, and have decided we liked it. In fact, the desire to wring everything we can out of this time zone while we’re here partially informed our new vehicle purchase. If finances allow, we’ll pay that off this year, then attach a little boat (or at least a trailer) to it this coming summer, and spend some long weekends camping more places like this.
On the topic of travel, Nicole and I enjoyed our first completely kid-free, completely work-free, vacation since our honeymoon. Hawaii was great, but so was discovering that we still function as a couple when we’re not chasing little people to the potty, or trying to convince them to eat food they liked last week but hate this week, or working on new ways to explain simple math or phonics to our young students. I’ve long eschewed vacations as being a waste of time, but it turns out I’d be OK with another trip like that sometime soon.
As usual, we delighted in hosting visitors, and showing them the beautiful part of the world God placed us in. As much as this place feels like home, and we continued to invest in community with whatever spare time and energy we can find, it feels so much more real to show it to the people we love.
That said, there are some things missing here. And we’re not sure how to resolve them all. 2015 brings yet another career adjustment, as I step into a new role again. As usual, I’m excited to learn something new and do something different — this time, I may even find what I’m looking for. But beyond that, we don’t really know what’s next. We know God is in control of that, and we trust Him to show us where to step and when. Perhaps by the end of 2015, we’ll have a better idea of what that looks like.
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So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2013 Edition

As parents, we believe in the power of routine. Routines give children structure and safety. From the foundation of a stable routine, they can be confident in launching out into new little adventures of discovery, assured that they can return to home base if things get a little too overwhelming.
As adults, we see wisdom in that for our own lives. That where ever God puts us, one of our first priorities is to establish routines of responsibility and healthy activity. That “home” is not so much a physical place, rather its what you do and how you behave when there’s nothing more challenging going on. A good routine means that you don’t settle into negative habits, but positive ones. Habits that allow you to recover from past challenges, learn from them, and prepare for the next ones — automatically, and as a default behavior.
So that was 2013 — by and large. Not our most exciting year, but not devoid of little adventures either. Mostly about finding our rhythm, and helping our growing kids find new rhythms of their own. These things are made a little more challenging, of course, when your world shifts around you. For Ben and Abi, and Nicole their chauffeur and guide, new schools were their biggest opportunities to adapt. Each were more than ready to graduate from their pre-schooling efforts (pre-K for Abi, Kindergarten round 2 for Ben), and excited to move on. But of course there was trepidation and emotions involved. For Nicole it was figuring out how to juggle 2 new schedules. And for Eli, life continues to be a race to beat her older siblings to every milestone. (At barely 2 and a half, she can write her own name, and just this morning she got up before the rest of the family, turned on the TV, woke up the Roku, opened Netflix, selected a show, and settled in to watch quietly until everyone else was awake.) For me it was wrestling my professional life back into the right direction after a re-org that was outside of my control.
But of course if you never launch out from your routine, it ceases to be healthy and becomes a rut. So we happily shipped our favorite babysitters over from home and hit the road for Disneyland, entertained a regular stream of guests from both North America and further afield (Siberia and Malaysia!), and I even squeezed in minor surgery as my own routine continues to adapt to a 2 year old accident that still irritates. We also joyfully welcomed a new member of the family, visited home, and attended a couple pretty special weddings.
Combine all that with opportunities to serve our church and church family, new and growing friendships in our new home, some great hikes in the nearby Cascades, biking through an old mountain pass train tunnel, renting a boat and tubing in Lake Chelan, and multiple road trips to Western Canada, and you’ve got an interesting, but pretty peaceful and gentle year. Not a bad thing for a young family!
The Wises 2013
Our outlook and early plans for 2014 look good, 2015 looks to get a little more adventurous again, but our God is bigger than our human plans, and we’re confident that His are the best. So we’ll continue to pursue Him, and try to figure out how to give Him the glory for both the challenges and the many blessings He sends our way. Happy New Year to all of you, and to our friends and family, whom we love very much — regardless of geographic location!

So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2012 Edition

For new readers, this oddly titled post (a Simpson’s quote, which possibly only my brother and sister will properly appreciate) is my annual tradition. Check out last year’s if you’d like!
2011 wasn’t our greatest year — the brightest light being the birth of our third child — and we were determined that 2012 would look different. Less pain and disappointment, and more of that adventurous spirit we hope to raise our children with. It turned out that 2011’s tough times would prepare us for 2012 in ways we couldn’t have predicted.
We started 2012 in a very good place to spend a cold Ontario winter month: in Florida — with some visits to old friends along the way. We had an inkling even then that our month in a different home was a foreshadowing of things to come: the idea of a relocation had been tossed around at work, and subsequently at home, for a few months now. We rented a house in Florida for a vacation, a reclamation of a mostly lost summer, and to exercise the freedom that my job at the time offered. But we also did it to see how the kids would handle doing life in a different place. It turns out we can handle it just fine.
When we returned, it was to a project that seemed to perfectly fit the experiences God had provided for us in the past, and we were pleased to dig in with a little church planting team and learn some more from the other wonderful church leaders God had connected us with. These felt like final things, though — like culminations of relationships and education that rightly closed out a season. And as things with my accident were settled financially, we began to feel even more like we were poised for something… we just didn’t know what. We began preparing the house, and our other responsibilities for whatever that thing was, all the while trusting God — and trying to follow Him day-by-day.
It was May by the time the next step became clear. Although we had assumed an eventual move with my then-employer, organizational changes and diminishing opportunity opened us up to looking elsewhere. I secured a job that I now know is a very tough one to get, and with the suddenness of a starting gun at a race, we were off across the continent… where God had clearly gone before us, providing the paperwork exactly when it was needed (and not a moment before!) and a beautiful new home (nearly twice the size of what we were leaving, with a mortgage payment in the same neighborhood!)
While it cost us a month of togetherness, by August we were whole again, planning school for the kids, finding a new church home, and exploring the beautiful part of the world where God had led us. I have been delinquent in blogging about the mountains, the trees, the lakes — the beauty which surrounds us, but I need to be clear that this place is wonderful. We discovered last weekend that while there is rarely snow at our house, just 30 minutes up the highway into Snoqualmie Pass they have 10 feet of wonderful fluffy stuff; enough to comfortably coat perfect ski and tubing hills in a winter theme park of fun. In the warmer months we’ve been here, we’ve ridden the ferry to a nearby island, hiked through the forest to a waterfall, and picnicked at the foot of a mountain.
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We’re excited too to have family relatively close. After years of rarely seeing my brother and sister, we’re now within a days drive of each other, and got to spend a fun Thanksgiving weekend exploring Seattle and hanging out with them. The in-laws cottage in BC should provide some fun summer get-togethers, and the annual visit home with my parents should be a lot easier now as well.
Greg, Liz and Dave
It hasn’t been as easy as maybe I’m making it sound. There was, and still is, the loneliness of being somewhere new and missing your friends and family, the stress of managing finances in two different countries, the risk of starting a new job, and the uncertainty of leaving what is comfortable. But as we make new friends, and learn new things, and see God’s world from different angles, I hope everyone reading can understand that we will always be strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). The only home we desire is in heaven… but while we’re here, we want to see everything we can, steward wisely the blessings God gives us, share what we have with others, and raise our children to know obedience, and the glory and wonder of God’s creative power.
I’ll wrap up 2012 with my favorite quote I learned this year
The important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.
Are you ready?

So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2011 Edition

Here we go again with another year, and I’m already behind on my annual retrospective post!
This past year has a lot to commend it, and a few things to condemn it. Three events, really, can sum it up — but of course there are additional details that shouldn’t be totally excluded.
We started the year possibly feeling a little chagrinned to discover that there would be no changes in the housing situation. Our little house in the prarie did not find a satisfactory buyer in the time we were willing to put into the effort, so we gave up and tucked in to wait for the new baby (and settled on a new van instead). Feeling not a little trapped, I was grateful to have a motorbike to experience a little adventure on. Little did I know how painful an adventure that bike would lead to!
By mid-May, I was confined to a bed with my leg in the air, while Nicole was home with a newborn, and two toddlers who needed their (obviously distracted) parents more than ever. Fortunately, my mom, who spends most of her time doing much better things overseas, was home to help prepare for my sister’s wedding, and was able to lend a helping hand — and then some!
Nicole was recovered, baby settled, and me hobbling in time for the aforementioned wedding — or two, as some very special girls wed the young men who’d become so important to them. We were excited that our family got to have a part in both ceremonies. We were excited too, to celebrate our own 10th anniversary.
With the summer over, and winter looming before us, promising more snow, gray and gloom than we really thought we could handle after such a tough year, we began plans for at least temporary escapes, affording the kids their first flights — among other things. Nicole found and booked us a vacation home in Florida for the entire month of January — something we’re enjoying even as I type this, and possibly our first successful (albeit hybrid) vacation ever!
And there you have it: 2011. Of course their was some home improvements, seminary, changes at work and various projects that I dove into, in the continuing hope that there will be more to life than what the last few years have offered us; there were first days of school, and soccer, and other new things for Ben and Abi — and the joy of seeing those things through their eyes. But at the dawn of a new year, with our philosophy of adventure looking a little battered and bruised by the winds of change and the realities of adult life, we are looking forward to finding, seizing and exploring more of the world that God gave us in 2012…

So I Tied an Onion to my Belt – 2010 Edition

Another year has passed, and as is my tradition, here comes my year-in-review of posts that marked some of our deepest thoughts, and biggest adventures.

Its easy to look back on 2010 and feel underwhelmed — certainly we aren’t the same crazy, broke, adventurous kids we were when this blog first began. But to say this year was boring wouldn’t be fair. In some ways it was a year of review – of re-visiting things we’d conquered before, but this time approaching them with a little more maturity and patience. Hopefully, too this was another year of preparation and learning for whatever comes next.

The figuring out of what comes next was, at the start of 2010, and still is, a major area of contemplation for us. Discerning God’s immediate plans, and choosing activities that hopefully lend themselves to the longer term ones  remains a process we don’t completely understand how to best be obedient in. Meanwhile, though, my insatiable appetite for places novel and interesting was kept at bay through some neat destinations that my work allowed me to visit. And of course, the motorbike helped — a purchase that probably gave Nicole both anxiety and relief (since no one likes living with a caged animal.)

Fortunately, we both had plenty of opportunity to stretch our travel legs when we took our second trip as a couple to Asia, where mental, emotional and spiritual stimulation is found at every stop. This time we got to enjoy the company of a travel companion possibly even more adventurous than we are – an experience that undoubtedly shaped, or affirmed the shape of, our views on child rearing.

When we got home, it was to a good-bye, as my grandpa passed away – thankfully in the presence of family. Our own mortality marched forward into another decade, and shortly afterward we learned that we were going to be parents, yet again. As milestones slid by into the rear-view mirror, both for ourselves, and for our little ones, it was nice to get some visits in with those who’ve known us since before we were grown-ups.

With the news that our family was growing, and financial stability no longer being a distant dream, we decided to find out if God’s plan might include a move to a slightly bigger place. At the moment it appears it does not, and if that’s the case, we’re content to make the best we can of the home He’s blessed us with right now. Wonderful visits to other places that are or were or might be home, reminds us that we are strangers and foreigners on this earth – longing first for that better country.

2011 looks at least to bring another baby into our lives. We haven’t completely given up on the new house idea either, although if nothing happens by March, that thought will go on the shelf for awhile. As of now, there are no international trips planned. School, work, family and part time ministry seem to be the extent of what God has entrusted us with for this year, and we’ll do our best to be grateful and earnest stewards of these things – and continue to hold out hope that some day they add up to something for His kingdom. Of course, should anything a little more adventurous come along, we’re up for that too!