Ups and Downs

Well, it’s been a big week for us. A hard one, but a good one. Last week Jon and Gerlinde took off for a summer of visiting and ministry in Europe and Africa.

Jon and Gerlinde with her parents, Sarah and Christoph

However, our loss has been Europe’s gain! While Linda has been with her family, Jon’s been teaching in Rome and now Croatia.

Thankfully, Jon and Linda got to visit Grace and the girls before Jonathan had to leave.

Many hands make light work of getting the girls ready for bed!

Grace is bravely carrying on without Michael while he’s serving our country in “the big sandbox.”

Here’s a shot of the big sandbox: HOT and not so fun

Unless you relish having a fist-sized camel spider that can run like sixty and is not bad at jumping for a pet…

Meanwhile, back at the A. Armstrong ranch, Baby Reid is doing great and looking cuter every day!

This is more of a miracle than we might think, since this week I filmed the memorial service for some beloved friends whose infant son was born just two days after Reid and only survived for three days.

Life is so full of happiness and sadness…ups and downs.

This looks like a sand storm, but it’s really just a misty dune!

As a consolation for losing the fellowship of Jon and Linda, Alan took me to Ludington State Park. You see, when kids leave home, that seems natural and healthy, but when one comes back to your hometown with a bride, you get all excited, thinking maybe they’re going to live in the area and you’ll get to play with some of your grandchildren! So, when Jon and Gerlinde moved back to GR, we had high hopes that they might be putting down some roots here…

However, the Lord had other plans! Just yesterday Jonathan signed a contract to teach at a branch of Moody Bible Institute in Washington State…across the country from us!

Our loss is their gain…but what a loss!

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings.”
~ Hodding Carter

Sometimes—most of the time—it’s hard to know what lies ahead, when something will end and something else will begin…just like it’s hard to tell where the sky and sea meet on a misty day.

Still, in all the ups and downs of life we’re called to be lighthouses to reflect the light of His love and grace!

Someone said that with God there are no endings, just endless new beginnings.

I like that.

May we always look forward to the new beginning ahead as we approach the place where the water meets the sky.

It’s A Boy!

Aaron and Carleen just had their third precious son: Reid Solomon. We couldn’t be more delighted and charmed. 🙂

He was born at 5:02 on Thursday, May 20th, 2010. He was 8 lbs and 14 oz in weight and 21 inches long with a head circumference of 13.5 inches

As parents of two sets of three boys, about ten years apart, you can’t believe how exciting it is for us to experience the joy of three grand sons 20 years later!

Of course, this round Alan and I get to experience all the joys and struggles as arm chair enthusiasts, since the kids aren’t exactly next door…

But I mean, really! How can you resist such brotherly love? Looks just about like Aaron adoringly holding Jonathan thirty years ago!!

Mother and baby are doing just fine, thanks to the loving care of Aaron, Reuben, Gideon…and I dare say with a special thanks to Carleen’s wonderful parents, Dennis and Candy!

“Children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3)

Thank you, Lord, for another wonderful gift of love from You to us!

Greenfield Village

They say the top tourist attractions in Michigan are Frankenmuth, Mackinac Island, and Greenfield Village. Gerlinde had seen the first two, but I wanted to make sure she got to see Greenfield Village before she and Jonathan left for the summer.

Also, Jonathan has been crazy about trains since he was little, and I wanted to make sure he got another chance! Here comes a real-live steam locomotive to take us for a ride…the oldest continuously operated steam locomotive in the country!

Greenfield Village is like a museum park…full of original buildings from historic America. Here is the Wright Brother’s Cycle Shop from Dayton, OH. The plaque mentions that it was a mere 65 years from the inception of flight at Kitty Hawk until Neil Armstrong and the American team were walking on the moon!

This is Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park lab, transported from New Jersey. Over the course of his lifetime, he patented over 1000 inventions, perhaps the most famous being the electric light, although he also did lots of work with phonographs and sound recordings, ETC!

Greenfield Village was a heritage gift from Henry Ford, who began mass production of cars. His childhood home was only 3.5 miles from the site, and in 1929 he had his home transported here as one of the earliest additions. This is his kitchen as he remembered it as a child.

We pretty much spent the day enjoying the park…which means by mid-afternoon we needed to stop for an ice cream break. Jon and Linda treated us all!

This is the Logan County Courthouse where Abe Lincoln practiced law, transported from Illinois

We stopped at a milliner’s shop to try on some lovely hats…

And enjoyed lots of settings from colonial America.

And a few from other places as well. This is the oldest building, a lovely stone cottage from the 1600’s, brought over from Cotswold, England

If you ever get to the Detroit area, you might enjoy visiting!

Mothers’ Day and the Holland Tulip Festival

For any of you who are facebook friends, you will have already seen these pictures, but I wanted to tell you about the Holland (Michigan) Tulip Festival!

But first, I’d better back up and tell you that I had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Here I am surrounded by all our Michigan family! From left to right and top to bottom row: Carl, Stephen, Alan, Joel, Jonathan, Daniel…then Kathy, me, Gerlinde, and Brianna!

After a lovely tea time party, Alan took the kids and me over to Holland to see the tulips, of which there are over 100,000!

Here are Stephen and Joel enjoying the day!

The colors and variety are fabulous!

I never cease to marvel at God’s creativity and the beauty we can enjoy!

Stephen’s Graduation

The last of our seven kids graduated last Saturday from Michigan State University.

MSU is Michigan’s largest university and “one of the top 100 research universities in the world.”

The guest speaker at the graduation for the college of music was Dr. Anton Armstrong from St. Olaf’s College. He has not only had a stellar career as a musician, he’s a dedicated Christian who gave a most memorable and inspirational speech. He encouraged the students to shine brilliantly as children of God, to ignite the spirits of others, to enrich their minds, to empower themselves and others to productivity, and to enjoy the challenge of developing their creativity to bless others even during this very challenging time in world history. He ended by singing “This Little Light of Mine.” I was totally charmed and inspired! Wish I could claim him for a relative! Maybe somewhere back there!!

Stephen graduated with a 4.0. We were all so thrilled for him! Here he is receiving his diploma from his mentor, Debra Moriarty, who is the head of the piano department. Debra debuted with the Boston Symphony when she was only 11 years old, and it has been an incredible privilege for Stephen to study with her. She’s not only a fabulous teacher, she’s a great person who took a genuine interest in Stephen as a person. She’s graciously “relinquished” him to begin pre-medical studies. If he likes medicine, he may go in that direction. If he can’t resist his love for music, he may go back to M.S.U. for an M.A. degree in a year or two, knowing that it might be harder to make a good living in music. He loves music, but he’d also like to have a steady income, so he’s trying to figure out the right balance for him and make the best career choice.

I think the hardest part of leaving school is inevitably leaving dear friends. He had become good friends with a number of really talented young people in the music department. Here he is with Yerin (from Korea, who’ll be going on to the Cleveland Conservatory), and Hiroko (from Japan, who’ll still be at M.S.U.).

Fortunately, he had lots of his brothers and sisters to support him at the graduation and bring him back home to party down!

And, of course, his “proud as peacocks” dad and mom who are so thankful to God for such a great son, so delighted with Stephen and all his hard work, and super happy to have him coming back home!

It also probably helped that we stopped for one last visit to his favorite “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant that serves incredibly good Korean food: Emo’s!

Way to go, Stephen!!!

P.S.—Stephen started summer classes here in GR before finishing his final exams in Lansing, and he’s at a chemistry lab as I write, so there’ll be no grass growing under his feet this summer. Still, I hope it’s a wonderfully happy summer, and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy hearing lots of good music when he’s got some spare time, since he’s still going to be taking lessons from Professor Moriarty! Each ending is just a new beginning and a new chapter. So…I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

He’s in the Army Now…

Michael left for a week’s training and then on to his deployment this morning. One of my closest friends is coming over to pray with me for a couple of hours, for which I’m most grateful. I’ve prayed for lots of other guys, but somehow, when it’s your own son, it’s even more traumatic!

When you think of him, would you please pray for him? Truly, we need to be praying for our troops and their families all the time. They’re suffering for our safety, and that’s a pretty incredible sacrifice.  I pray every day for world peace. I think we may not find it until Jesus comes again. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”