May 22, 2012
If you are planning on spending some time in Germany, HERE are 10 things to avoid so as not to offend people. I think I may have broken all 10 out of ignorance.
May 17, 2012
For those of you who may be considering studying abroad, or specifically in Germany, please note that I have updated my page Preparing For Studies Abroad. I have inserted several extremely helpful links to help sort through the nitty-gritty details related to matriculation, residence permits, etc.
And, while I’m posting some links, here are some more helpful resources for learning the German language. Be sure to check out the Goethe institute’s Grüße aus Deutschland. Deutsche Welle’s Audio Tutor helps learners effectively grasp basic vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. Finally, THIS series of texts gives you practice with your listening comprehension. Well, that should keep you busy for a while.
May 14, 2012
Enjoy these pictures from mother’s day weekend. You’ll see some pictures of Melody with pig-tails–this was the first time she ever wore them.
May 10, 2012
What a week it’s been for the topic of marriage. It seems the nation has been forced to think more critically about the topic of marriage. What actually is marriage? Who defines marriage and who writes the rules? This week North Carolinians took to the polls, voting to disallow gay marriage, and President Obama took to the media, announcing that he now supports gay marriage.
Throughout the discussions, conservatives and religious groups repeatedly pointed to the importance of cultural disconformity, arguing for the right to define and interpret marriage according to their sacred, ancient Scriptures.
But what many Christians have overlooked in this discussion is the glaring contradiction staring them in the face–many Christians vehemently fight to protect marriage from cultural (i.e. homosexual) influence without realizing that Jesus’ most basic teachings on marriage have been compromised and ignored by the church for decades. Let me provide an example. Jesus plainly teaches that divorce is not an option for a married couple. Period. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus directly forbids remarriage after divorce, teaching that such an act is sinful (e.g., Matt 5:32, Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18). Similarly, the Apostle Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching, saying, “I command the married, according to Jesus’ own teaching, that a woman must not divorce her husband, nor a man his wife. But if a divorce does occur, they must remain unmarried or be reconciled to each other” (1 Cor 7:11).
Although I’ve only provided two examples, these serve to capture the Bible’s consistent teaching on marriage and divorce. Yet, despite such clear and consistent biblical teaching, these practices are increasingly common among todays Christians. Perhaps Christians who remarry after divorce are just ignorant of the Bible. In my own discussions, however, I find that Christians simply choose to ignore, reinterpret, and make lame excuses to justify their own need to divorce and remarry. How many times does one hear a Christian say, “I know the Bible’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, but surely God is more concerned about my personal happiness. Those teachings on divorce and remarriage are outdated. They were meant for a culture very different than our own.”
Suddenly, one realizes that Christians are using the exact same excuses to justify divorce and remarriage as gays are using to justify their need to marry–personal happiness and a different culture as the end all justification and reason.
If the church has so blatantly ignored the Bible’s teaching on marriage, why should the secular culture be expected to follow biblical norms? Why do Christians picket and campaign against gay marriage, but not against remarriage after divorce? Why do pastors agree to marry a couple that has been divorced? Why is okay to uphold the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality but not on divorce? Why do Christians walk around carrying signs that say, “God hates fags”? Haven’t they read the Bible? “‘I hate divorce’ says the Lord God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16).
May 8, 2012
This week, my wife and I began the daunting task of organizing my study. My task? To decide which books I absolutely have to take with me to Germany, which to store, and which to throw out or pass along. I narrowed my essential books down to these two piles (see picture). The taller stack on the left is the books that will come in suitcases, in the shorter stack are the books I hope to read or re-read before our departure.
Then, once the study was organized, I was able to take some pictures of my desk. Unfortunately, it will not fit into a suitcase and is too big to be a carry on, so I’m going to list it on Craigslist.
May 6, 2012
Greetings to you from the world’s most inconsistent blogger! I thought I’d tell you a little about what life is like for us as we prepare to move in a month-and-a-half. We are selling tons of stuff because we will move to Germany with 4 suitcases. Each additional suitcase would have cost an extra $230. So, as you can imagine, yard sales and Craigslist are our best friends right now.
Here, Hannah Joy is celebrating the completion of another succesful yard sale yesterday (Saturday) afternoon. Thanks to all of you who came and bought stuff! And while we’re on the topic of Hannah Joy, let me brag on her a little bit. People often ask how she’s handling the prospect of moving to Germany, to a country where she does not even know the language. She is thrilled. Hannah Joy has always dreamed of living overseas, so for her this is a dream-come-true. And the thought of selling everything we own is a bit daunting, but we have been anticipating this for several years. All of our clothes come from thrift stores and yard sales, as well as just about everything else we own. Hannah Joy and I were talking last night about how this process gives us a reminder that stuff is just that . . . stuff. Replaceable. Anyways, my wife is incredibly supportive, and thrilled to be moving overseas. She is pretty amazing!
Several items that sold on Craigslist were hard to let go of, including:
I also parted with my Vintage Peugeot bike. But by far, one of the most difficult things to leave behind will be my dog, Sophie. She is a part of the family. My wife and I got her when she was just a few weeks old, when we had just gotten married. We’ve had her for close to 5 years now. She isgreat with the baby. Although Germany is very pet friendly, we are not able to bring Sophie because the housing we have arranged does not allow dogs. I am sure I will weep when I say goodbye to Sophie. I am almost in tears now as I write this.
But, on a brighter note, things are coming together for us as our moving date approaches. We even bought our plane tickets. We fly out of Atlanta on August 3rd and arrive in Munich on August 4th. I can only imagine what the flight is going to be like with a 1-year-old! We will spend the month of July with family, which we are extremely excited about. And we are having some special times here in Louisburg in the meantime. Last week Melody got to pick strawberries for her first time. She loved the whole experience, as the pictures below will demonstrate. We anticipate a trip to my Nana’s in a couple of weeks. Then my younger sister will spend a week with us in June, yeah!!! And as I mentioned, we will be with family during July. Hopefully by the end of July, our family’s will be so tired of us that they will be begging us to leave the country!
I continue to work like crazy on practicing German. I received a big compliment last week. My conversation partner, who usually offers a steady stream of corrections, paused and said, “Andy, your German is really improving.” German has even started making its way into my dreams, but usually as soon as it does I wake up in a cold sweat. I continue to practice the language daily, and plan on only communicating in German once the plane lands in Munich on August 4.
Well, that’s about all that’s new on our end. Please pray that we will be able to sell both of our cars before our move (we have a 1990 corolla-$2,400, and a 1996 Buick-$2,900). I’m going to try to be more regular in my blogging. In the meantime, enjoy our pictures from the strawberry patch.