A Life Well Lived

IMG_4824

I lost my grandpa today.

It’s a bittersweet feeling. He died doing what he loved: he suffered a heart attack while driving his motorcycle. He was 91 years old.

And what an exemplary life he lived. He was in the Navy and later the Foreign Service. After a stint in Israel and Jordan, he worked in Turkey where he met my grandmother. They moved back to his hometown of Miami, Florida. After they became believers early in their marriage, they dove right in. My grandma regularly had the neighborhood kids at their house in Miami where she taught them Bible stories and God’s truths, and my grandpa was active in the church. Their three kids were raised with missional hearts, and from a young age, my mom wanted to serve overseas.

I mostly knew them in the latter part of their lives, when after my parents were serving as missionaries in Ecuador, we often stayed with my grandparents while on furlough. My sister and I would live with them while my parents traveled and spoke in churches. My grandpa had a thick tickly gray mustache and often smelled of the sawdust from his woodshop.

After he retired, he and my grandma began a new career path. They bought an RV, which they towed all over the U.S. and Canada, spending months at a time serving at different organizations. They came to Ecuador several times while we were there. My grandpa would work in the hangar or on construction projects while my grandma volunteered in the school library.

As they traveled, they took each of their grandkids on a trip with them. In 1996, I spent a summer with them at the Wycliffe Center in England. Again, they modeled servanthood. My grandpa worked on a new building, my grandma reorganized the campus library, and I got assigned to gardening duty a.k.a. pulling weeds. It was a character-building experience for a 16-year-old. On weekends, we explored the country, while my grandpa figured out how to drive a stick-shift on the left-hand side of the road.

My grandma died of cancer in 2004 while I was volunteering with OM. But Grandpa Frank never stopped their ministry lifestyle. If there was a need a church, he was there. He preached every month at the truck stop, where passing truckers could spend their Sundays in a make-shift worship center. He went around to all of his neighbors and invited them to weekly Bible study at his home. Some of them came, and the group continued to meet regularly in his home for the rest of his life. I know my grandpa was instrumental in helping lead some of those men and women closer to Christ.

Since we’ve been in Oklahoma, my grandpa visited several times… driving the whole way from Florida on the motorcycles he had enjoyed his whole life. Everyone was amazed at how much stamina the 80-something year old man had.

He was a reader, consuming books and magazines and sermons. He read everything that I wrote, encouraging us. He supported me when I went with OM, he supported my sister when she joined a mission organization, and I’m sure he did the same for my cousins. I know it brought him great joy to see his grandchildren following the Lord.

Like I said, it’s a bittersweet feeling to know that he’s gone. I won’t see him again this side of eternity. But when I think about it, though my eyes fill with tears, there’s a smile on my lips. He died doing what he loved. He lived well, and he left a legacy of godly servanthood to follow.

For Me It Was the Meat on a Stick. And Handmade Noodles

IMG_5400

Xian was a true highlight of the trip.

Untitled

Not just because I got to see the Terracotta Warriors with my own eyes, but because of the cultures bubbling together in one city.

IMG_5330

Ancient Chinese walls built by dynasties, minority people groups, Muslims, tourists; Xian was an interesting mix.

IMG_5341

(An ancient city wall modified for modern transportation options, with industry looming over the walls and providing that “industrial glow”.)

IMG_5349

I’m certain one reason why it features so prominently in my mind is because of a single meal.

IMG_5412

One evening we wandered down this narrow street in the Muslim quarter, looking for something to eat.

IMG_5411

It was cold.

We were hungry.

IMG_5408

So we ducked into a storefront restaurant with plastic table clothes and a few other diners.

IMG_5407

After one brother took our order, another brother proceeded to make the noodles for our meals. From scratch. Right there on the street.

IMG_5409

And lo, it was good.

Untitled

Untitled

And lo, the halal kebabs they grilled next to the boiling pasta were amazing.

IMG_5403

On sticks.

Untitled

Bellies full, we were ready for the next day’s adventure to see the warriors.

IMG_5414

It was Faster to Fly than to Dig Through the Middle

IMG_5247

China.
January.
10 days.

IMG_5264

5 cities.
5 high speed trains.
4 planes.

IMG_5322

Taxis.
1 near-death experience.

IMG_5270

2 McDonald’s visits. (2 shameful meals)

IMG_5269

2 amazing noodle bowls.
2 lifetime experience visits.

IMG_5272

Regular 20,000 step days.
More magical places I need to revisit.

Untitled

Big, fancy, empty train stations.
Constant construction.
Uber.

IMG_5338

Designer stores.
Chinese knock-offs.

IMG_5276

Beamers.
Beggars.

IMG_5274

Modern.
Ancient.

IMG_5346

And everything in between.

Louisville for a Day

IMG_4815

Last fall, we decided to go crazy and drive 10 hours each way to Louisville over a weekend with a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old.

Untitled

No, really we wanted to be there because my aunt and uncle had just moved there, and the family was gathering to celebrate my grandpa’s 90th birthday. He is a total inspiration in his life and we wanted to be a part of that celebration.

Untitled

We headed out on Thursday, and broke up the trip by staying the night in St. Louis (a 6 hour drive).

Untitled

Of course, we didn’t decide this until the last minute, so Wednesday night, there we were, trying to book an Airbnb that would fit all four of us. We stayed the night with an eclectic guy who was renovating his historic brownstone-type building. He was into Renaissance re-enactments, video games and his mandolin. I was petrified the kids were going to break something in his house, but we survived. He even made us breakfast in the morning, which was sweet.

IMG_4781

After that, we stopped briefly at the St. Louise Zoo, which is free, and totally makes it worth popping in to see a tiger or two.

Untitled

It was cool and first thing in the morning, so a lot of the animals were out and about, which was really fun. Then we made the rest of the way to my uncle’s house.

IMG_4807

We enjoyed dinner together with the family, and after the kids settled down in the basement, we watched a video my aunt had put together chronicling my grandpa’s life. It started from before he met my grandma when he served in the Foreign Service in Israel and Jordan, to when he met her in Greece, to the little house they settled in in Miami (when my mom was born!), to another house in Miami and the appearance of my uncle and then my aunt, to another move to north Florida where he worked for the state tax commission, then finally through retirement in St. Augustine, and the little Victorian house that he and my grandma built, where he still lives today. It was a meaningful time to celebrate his life and our family.

IMG_4825

And then my uncle showed us Megan Trainor’s “All About the Bass” video.

IMG_4771

IMG_4821

The next day we took a picnic to the Ohio River near downtown, where an old railroad bridge is now a pedestrian walkway.

IMG_4774

IMG_4800

We walked across to Indiana, enjoying the crisp fall weather. (Well, some of us walked. Until my aunt and uncle rode up on this bike contraption.)

IMG_4761

IMG_4823

There was a playground by where we had lunch, so the kids enjoyed that. (And grandma and grandpa, right?)

IMG_4748

IMG_4744

We then headed to Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held, checked out the museum and toured the grounds.

Untitled

Untitled

After that, it was time to head home for a birthday dinner for Grandpa!

Untitled

IMG_4775>

The next morning, we packed up early and headed back home. It was a long drive, and the baby screamed most of the last hour, but we made it. And while we were there for just one full day, it was well worth it.

Untitled

This Little One is Two

   
This little one has a birthday right after Christmas. So we had a small combo celebration at Grandma’s house in December (my sister and niece also have December birthdays), and then once we got home, we had a little hot chocolate and cookies party for her. 

  We had a cookie cake, cookies and a hot chocolate bar.  

And Then I Get All Bossy

IMG_4352//

If you go to Uruguay, you must stop at the World Heritage city, La Colonia.

IMG_4358//

We arranged our ferry from Buenos Aires to deliver us to Colonia, from which we took a bus to Montevideo.

IMG_4354//

It was about a 2 hour bus ride, as I recall.

IMG_4359//

Do not forsake La Colonia.

IMG_4355//

Just don’t.

IMG_4357//

The lunch we found was just so so, but the wandering and exploring was fantastic.

IMG_4361//

We were able to store our bags at the bus station and then wander unencumbered throughout the day.

IMG_4362//

I think there was also ice cream involved later in the day, before our bus ride.

IMG_4368//

Mine was Dulce de Leche flavor, of course.

IMG_4367//

And it turns out our spring/their fall is a pretty fantastic time to visit, with beautiful light.

IMG_4366//

I kind of want to be those old people when I grow up.

IMG_4370//

Repeat after me: Don’t skip La Colonia!

IMG_4371//