Thursday, September 3, 2009

We now return to regularly scheduled blogging....

Hello and welcome back to life with the Nelken's....My apologies for taking so long to get back into blogging...I definitely didn't intend for Easter to be my last post, but the longer I was away, the easier it was to stay away...although I did feel guilty each time I read friends blogs and saw a link to mine with the 'last updated 4 months ago' tag. :)


So...what have we been up to? Since I last posted, several things have changed.

#1---We are welcoming Baby Nelken #2 into our home sometime in the next few weeks (more on that later) We found out I was pregnant again at the end of January, but I never posted it on my blog, because I wasn't telling anyone at work yet. That leads me to change #2.

#2---I quit work at the end of May! Leaving work was a pretty major change for me, but I do not regret it in the slightest! It had been my desire since before Laura was born to stay hone, but there was no way to make it work at that time. After we found out about baby #2, we really stepped up the efforts to make it happen. It has been almost 4 months now, and things are going really well. Finances have been noticibely tighter, but so far, things always work out. After calculating what it was going to cost in daycare for two, I believe money would be just as tight as it is now if I was working full time...and I would be missing out on so much.

#3---Our family continues to expand...My brother got married at the end of May and we welcomed Jennifer officially into the family...and then a couple of weeks later...we grew again....

#4---My sister Amy and her husband Cody found out they are expecting a baby! I am so happy for them and excited that Laura will have a little cousin to grow up with...they will find out at the end of Sept if its a boy or girl...but so far Amy says she's feeling its a boy. :)

#5---Eric went to Kenya this year with our church for two weeks..I will post a link to our facebook pictures.

I think that covers most of the events of the past 4 months...stay tuned for more detailed posts...Laura just woke up from her nap, so my computer time is over for a little while :)










Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me,though he die,yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." John 11:25-28

He is risen, He is risen indeed!


We hope you and your family had a blessed Easter Sunday!











Monday, March 23, 2009

Perspective...

Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa—to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness and devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to go out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.

This was a huge step of faith. At the village of N'dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts.

They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. The only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood—a tiny woman of only four feet, eight inches tall—decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, she succeeded.

But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria continued to strike one member of the little band after another. In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N'dolera to go on alone.

Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina.

The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another seventeen days.

Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, "I'm going back to Sweden. I've lost my wife, and I obviously can't take care of this baby. God has ruined my life." With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself.

Within eight months both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. The baby was then turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to "Aggie" and eventually brought her back to the United States at age three.

This family loved the little girl and was afraid that if they tried to return to Africa, some legal obstacle might separate her from them. So they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota. As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible college in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst.

Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.

One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she couldn't read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross-and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD.

Aggie jumped in her car and went straight to a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. "What does this say?" she demanded.

The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N'dolera long ago...the birth of a white baby...the death of the young mother...the one little African boy who had been led to Christ...and how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up and finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ...the children led their parents to Christ...even the chief had become a Christian. Today there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village...

All because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.

For the Hursts' twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: "Never mention the name of God-because God took everything from me."

After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. "You can talk to him," they replied, "even though he's very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage."

Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed.

"Papa?" she said tentatively.

He turned and began to cry. "Aina," he said, "I never meant to give you away."

"It's all right Papa," she replied, taking him gently in her arms. "God took care of me."

The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped.

"God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him." He turned his face back to the wall.

Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted.

"Papa, I've got a little story to tell you, and it's a true one. You didn't go to Africa in vain. Mama didn't die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life...

"Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you."

The old man turned back to look into his daughter's eyes. His body relaxed. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.

Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America—and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.

A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England, where a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel's spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood.

"Yes, madam," the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English. "It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother's grave and her memory are honored by all of us."

He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, "You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history."

In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who had been hired by her father many years before to carry her back down the mountain in a hammock-cradle.

The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother's white cross for herself. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks. Later that day, in the church, the pastor read from John 12:24: "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." He then followed with Psalm 126:5: "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

(An excerpt from Aggie Hurst, Aggie: The Inspiring Story of A Girl Without A Country [Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1986].)
_____________________________________________________________________________________

If the entire earth's population could be shrunk to a town/village of 100 people with all human ratios remaining the same it would look like:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 Northern and Southern Western Hemisphere persons
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire worlds wealth and all 6 people would be from the United States.
80 people would live in substandard housing
70 people would be unable to read
1 would be near death
1 would be near birth
1 person would have a college education
1 would own a computer
When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for both acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.
The following is also something to ponder...If you woke up this morning with more health then illness, you are more blessed then the million who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battles, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pains of starvation you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep...you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace...you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
If your parents are still alive and still married...you are very rare, even in the United States and Canada.
If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over 2 billion people in the world that cannot read.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring is coming!

We have enjoyed the last week of temps in the 70's and 80's...It is supposed to be back in the 40's for highs over the weekend, but its been nice to enjoy the sunshine for a couple of days!


Playing in the driveway at home...




Swinging at the Park

Laura is finally moving up to her 12 months clothes, so I've been packing away all her winter stuff...of course she had to help.... :)

And the warm weather has sparked the 'planting' bug in me (and everybody else in Habersham Co based on the soil tests and questions this week at work!)...we are still several weeks away from being able to really plant anything outside...so instead I planted a few things from seeds indoors! We will see how many survive once they get transplanted! :)



Laura's First Birthday

Okay, so when Eric starts asking why the birthday pictures aren't up yet...I know I have fallen behind! Laura turned one on Feb 28th. We had a birthday celebration at home with both sets of families visiting. I think the party turned out fairly well...Laura started teething again the night before, so she was in a little bit of a down mood for part of the day. Not really grumpy, just tired. She was also drooling like a mad woman...I can't keep up with how many bibs she went through in one weekend! She is working on 4-6 teeth up top (can't really get a good look up there!) She slept through lunch (we grilled hamburgers and hotdogs) but was awake and happy to eat her cake! She really didn't eat much of the cake, but she was definitely fond of the icing! :)

Oh...edited to add...Eric made and decorated the cake completely by himself...I think he did a great job for his first cake decorating attempt!

I don't have time to write a lot, but did want to get her pictures posted..!



I also added a video of Laura 'walking'. This is still about as far as she goes...maybe 4-5 steps at a time. She gets so excited about the idea of it though!
video

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"I've got to get away..."

Last week, Eric and I took a short vacation to Asheville, NC. We had a great trip! It was very nice to be away for a few days..and sleep as late as we wanted! :)

It was our first 'official' overnight trip away from Laura. Technically, she spent her first night away at the Gant's back in November when I was in the ER with a migraine..but I don't count that night! :)

My parents and sister came up to babysit...I think they had a great time.I don't think Laura missed us at all *tear* When we got back she was sorta excited to see us, but then just went right back to playing...oh well! I think she was more disappointed to see her babysitters leave... :)

We stayed at a cabin in Lake Lure (apparently its where Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohican's was filmed) It was about 20 minutes outside of Asheville. Monday we spent the day in Asheville at the Biltmore and then Tuesday we were at Chimney Rock State park. You aren't allowed to take pics inside Biltmore, so I don't have many pictures to post, but here are a few from the trip.


Chimney Rock (with Lake Lure in the background)

Outside the Biltmore

Meanwhile...Laura was having a great time with her babysitters!


Can you believe she turns 1 this Saturday? Crazy! Time has flown by...! She is trying really hard to walk...and I think she could if she could just get up the courage...She has taken a couple of steps (like maybe 4) but definitely can't say she is 'walking' yet. She will walk around the house just holding onto one finger...but I know it won't be long before she is getting around on her own...

her 'Ok, I'm standing...now what?' pose
Trying to 'help' me sort coupons before going to the grocery store
Just lounging around...and a very happy (and clean) baby!





Monday, February 2, 2009

Somebody's gotta do it...

Hi there...this is Laura..I have hijacked mamas blog to post proof that I am being being used for free child labor...I mean, really, I have to help these folks do ALL the chores around the house...I don't understand why they don't always appreciate my help...I've only dumped clean and dirty laundry baskets together on the floor a couple of times...and the incident with the dishwasher, I had to take all the spoons and forks out of the tray while they weren't looking. I didn't like the way they were sorted!

Well, I just had to vent...I'm sure all of you will sympathize with me...its a tough life!



Monday, January 26, 2009

100 Things I've done

In the spirit on Meme's and tagging people...I thought I'd do one more...

For this you are supposed to read the list and bold the ones that you have personally done...

1. Started my own blog (it would be rather difficult to post this if I had not)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower (not a very good one though...It was a cloudy night)
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea (from our cruise ship on the honeymoon...it stormed for 3 days)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (I work in an Ag Extension Office...I've held lambs, pigs, goats, you name it...its an interesting job...)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (Eh...depends how far back you go)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Europe
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (we were going to on the honeymoon, but got rained out...see #13)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (and in the sand)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (once, in college...bad, I know)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House (well, as close at I could get...it was too close to 9/11 and they didn't allow tours
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

100. Ridden an elephant

I tag anybody who wants to do this one! It was actually kinda fun and I didn't have to actually think of any real stuff to blog about...

4th Photo Tag

Jeez...Okay, so I am a week or so behind on posting again...Its a good thing I didn't make regular blogging a New Years Resolution cause I would be a definte failure!

My friend Jen tagged me to to this photo picture thing where you post the 4th picture from your 4th photo folder...I admit I did cheat a little because I rearranged my pictures by date so and older folder would come up... :)



So...here we go...



Don't kill me Amy...I swear this is really the one that came up. This is my sisters infamous 'monkey face'. I think this was taken around 2004 or 2005 when we were waiting to go on a church trip. I really can't remember many other details...Well, that was fun..and completely random!

I tag Amanda B., Misti, and anybody else who wants to join the fun!


Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm back!

Hey! I have returned to blog-land...I have probably lost all of my readers since I haven't posted in almost a month! I'll be posting several blogs today/tonight so be sure to scroll down to make sure you haven't missed anything. :)



Our family is growing....May 2009

We are happy to announce that our family will be growing again in May 2009...


haha...no, we are not pregnant (not that I am aware of anyway!) but we are gaining a sister-in-law...


On New Years Eve, my brother *finally* proposed to his girlfriend Jennifer and they will be getting married on May 23 in Rhine. They have been dating for 5 years, I think, so Jennifer is already like family, but we are excited that its now official! We love you!






Christmas 2008

Because Eric and I both work for universities, we are blessed to have a generous amount of time off during Christmas/New Years. This year we left work on Dec 19th and didn't return until January 5th! It was a much much needed break! We spent one week visiting both of our families and celebrating Christmas. We then came back and had a full week to work and rest at home.

I am several weeks late writing this update about Christmas so I don't really remember a lot of the details...so I think I'm just going to have to make comments on the pictures as I go! I have realized I actually didn't take a lot of pictures at either house...I think I was too busy chasing Laura. I still need to get pictures from the grandparents cameras!

Laura and her best 'snow'friend...She loved these little snowmen I had out in the living room...every night she would crawl over and 'talk' to Mrs. Snowman :)


Christmas in Augusta with Eric's family....
Funny story...Laura figured out how to clap sometime in December...After our Christmas dinner, Eric asked Laura if she wanted to open presents that night, instead of in the morning, to clap 4 times....Right on cue, she clapped one, two, three, four times...I know it was totally coincidence but it was still hilarious...She got her wish and we opened presents before bed. :)
Christmas in Eastman

I am really lacking in my pictures for Christmas with my family...Mama, I need you to send me the pics from your camera--Amy, I want yours too! :) As soon as I get pictures from them, I will blog about our Christmas celebrations in Eastman....



Stone Mountain Christmas




For the last three years, Eric and I have gone to visit Stone Mt during Christmas. I suppose it is becoming one of our own personal family traditions. This year we invited our friends Josh and Amanda to go with us.

The 'Christmas theme' part of the park opened at 6pm each night, so on the Saturday before Christmas we drove down and got to the park around 6:45 or so...and apparently half of the city of Atlanta had the same idea we did...After waiting in traffic off the exit for about 30 minutes we found out that the park was already at capacity and they were not admitting any more cars that night. I was quite disappointed, but in hindsight, glad we did not get in on Saturday night. I have been at the park when it was crowded (4th of July) and it was misery...too many people!

We gave it another try on Sunday afternoon after church and we actually got in. The park wasn't crowded at all actually. It was COLD though...we had to bundle Laura up in her snow suit when we rode the train. :)


Laura and Josh
3-D Polar Express

Josh and Amanda
Eric and Laura watching the 'snowfall' and fireworks at the end of the night