Making Big Strides

This past week when I went to pick up Jude or “Judee” as he’s called among our crew, his teacher called me over for a little talk. Anytime this happens I get nervous. Number one: the language. Jude’s teacher speaks no English…zero. And we have to completely communicate in German. I am always afraid that she’ll say something that I can’t properly respond to or that I’ll completely answer the wrong question because I got a verb tense wrong or I misheard the pronoun (that happened with Ellison’s teacher). Number two: Jude’s transition to Germany has been the most difficult among all of us. Just a few days ago he was telling me that he really misses his old house and his old bunk beds(a HUGE step that he’s talking about that). As a result, school’s been harder for him. For the first couple of months Jude wandered friendless and had no clue what was being said to him. I would pick him up on the playground and watch him alone or trying to engage with kids that had no interest.  And then one of you prayed for Jude to find just one friend. And you know what…God delivered one special buddy for him that week!

Over the past 10 months so many people have reached out and asked how he’s doing and have offered loving suggestions. So many people have heard our requests for prayer for him and for us as we figure out how to wisely help him in this transition. And I believe with all of my heart that what the teacher said to me is directly related to Jude’s Father in Heaven and the love that has been poured out on his behalf.  She said to me “Wow Jude has really made a turn around. He is speaking in our morning group, he is speaking directly to me, he is playing better with kids. We have all noticed a change in him.” I wanted to jump up and down in that moment. I’ll never forget Jude looking up to me with that grin of a smile and those big eyes as the great report was communicated to me.

This winter, Jude has also joined a soccer team. Honestly he doesn’t love it but all things considered he’s doing really well. When I remember the child that we brought here 10 months ago who would not shake hands with people or greet people and who didn’t know one word of German and now I see him out there trying his hardest-my heart gets so full.

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So I am really thankful today for the big strides that we’ve seen in our guy. When you take big risks and leave everything familiar you are afraid. You are scared. I’ve been afraid, I’ve been scared. I will be afraid again…and scared again. Not only for me, but for my kids.

They look to us with fear and expect us to be brave, but deep down inside sometimes we’re not. We’re just taking steps of faith and we don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. But thankfully we can trust in a God who does. He knows the plans for each and every one of them…of us and He cares. Last week I read a story in Luke and I was so moved by this verse “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry. (Luke 7:13)” I could write and write about the little intimate details of how God has cared for our family over these past 10 months. How his grace has so incredibly covered us. The past several months have by no means been easy and I’m sure there are more difficult days in store. This week, Jude faces yet another challenge with a German speaking screening. A new environment, new conditions and all in German…Instead of fretting,  I will choose to take comfort in the fact that He knows, He sees and He cares. And I will ask you, once again to pray. Pray for God’s will to be done and for peace for him as he walks into an unknown environment.

Still A Baller

Through a series of people here, Ian got connected with a basketball club in a neighboring   dorf (sort of like a suburb but not quite the same). He’s been playing on the team since the fall and has had a really good time connecting with the men and just being athletic. Ian playing on this team is quite a contrast to his days back in Austria.

One day before a game here we’d had a crazy day juggling kids and just doing life. We both had a good laugh thinking back to his professional days playing in Austria. Back then he pretty much had a very relaxed and stress free day leading up to a game. I can remember learning as a newlywed, not to bring up anything stressful in conversation on game day because we didn’t want to throw anything out of balance. Now a days he’s lucky if he remembers to take all of his gear to the game since most of the time he’s packing up during the kids bath time :-).

We had the chance to get to a game a few weeks ago as a family and it’s always so much fun to go! Lots of the games are at nights or just too far away but when the timing works out and it’s close enough, we like to go.

DSC_0080 DSC_0083 DSC_0084 DSC_0085 DSC_0089 DSC_0095 DSC_0092The kids loved it and I did too. I sometimes need a reminder of why this is important to him. Selfishly it’s hard to watch Ian go to a practice or to a game even though he goes during really ideal times for our family. But actually going and watching him interact with new friends that he comes home talking about and watching him play again, remind me that he needs to have time to do what he loves too. Going to his games helps support our goal as a family to support each other. We want to develop our kids loves and interests as well and hopefully a spark will get lit in them as they watch us do things that we love too.


Our weeks stay pretty full here. With school, homework, language school, Zumba, basketball, kids activities, meeting with speaking partners, church meetings and so on we find ourselves completely spent when Friday comes around. It’s not just the activities, it’s the language and the culture and the position of always being a student of something whether or not you want to be. Being here is indeed one big adventure and with every adventure there are pros and cons. So when Friday rolls in and everyone has returned to the nest, we. shut. down.

It’s the time where we shut our ears and our lives off to the culture around us and we take in our own culture-Chadwick culture- which has become a blend of where we currently live and where we came from. On most Fridays we eat pizza. We either order it from a local place, make it from scratch, or doctor up some frozen ones. We then make a big salad and we have some sort of yummy dessert afterwards. We all head in to our living room and we settle in for a movie together. We’ve tried to mix it up every now and then with a game or something else, but honestly the most relaxing thing is to sit and watch TV.

Family night has really become sacred to us. It’s special and essential to our existence as a family. We’ve found that we need a designated night to turn it all off and just relax. We need time to be together. Just laugh and unwind from the week so that when we go back out into the world, we are filled.

I really do Thank God It’s Friday. It’s my favorite night of the week.

What about you guys, does anyone have special weekend traditions? Is it Friday night or some other night? 

The Christmas Gift that keeps on giving

I still remember that Christmas. The Christmas where I got everything on my list. The Walking Wendy Doll, Lester the Ventriloquist Dummy (yep) and an easy bake oven. I think I was 8 or 9 years old at the time. It truly was the best Christmas Ever.

Fast forward twenty-something years 🙂 and I’m the parent of an 8 year old. A pretty awesome one I must say! Early in the month, we started asking Ellison what she wanted for Christmas and she couldn’t really think of anything that she wanted. But then one night, as I was putting her to bed she said I know what I’d really like…a hamster. Now this was like just over a week before Christmas and the thought of finding a pet store and figuring out how to care for such animal did not sound like something that either Ian or I wanted to do. Blame it on being overwhelmed foreigners but our plan was to get everything at the one toy store we know of and call it a wrap.  But then it happened. I remembered. I remembered  that Christmas. The one where my parents got everything that I asked for and after some discussion, we decided to go through the work and stress and actually get the hamster for our girl. A big part of the decision was because it’s been a crazy year on this little one. In 2012 she had 3 different educational experiences- 2 of which were here in Germany and 1 in which her teacher was a stressed out mom. She moved away from everything familiar-her friends, her small group, favorite foods and candies and at the end of our packing she had to leave the large majority of her toys behind.  Really hard stuff for a little girl. And.. she has endured every single thing and done so well with each and every change. We wanted to see her smile and be really excited on her first Christmas in Germany.

Well Daddy Chadwick decided to start looking into hamsters on the internet and he felt that a guinea pig was much less rat like (thanks Honey!) and a bit more of an interesting pet. So he and his accomplice Marcel (our friend from the States) were off on the journey to find a guinea pig. After visiting a few stores they found one!! As we hoped, she was so excited about it, as were Jude and Asher. She later on said that it was the best Christmas ever.

So it’s official we now have 2 new members of our family (after some research we found out that they do better with another in the cage with them). So we have warmly welcomed Rhino and Buttons to the Chadwick Craziness! I am still….adjusting and they are growing on me. I’m trying to work my way up to holding them. I can’t deny that they have brought lots of joy to our home and they are definitely keepers.





Happy New Year

We’ve been blessed to have friends visiting from the States for the past 2 weeks. It’s been pretty funny to hear and see ways that we’ve changed and adapted to our new culture here. It’s also been a gift to just be with friends and to have community and to be known in our own language….Ahhhhh.

We want to wish you a very Happy New Year. We hope that you’ve had a good time celebrating with friends and family and that you are ready for a New Year!

Our town

We live on the outskirts of Augsburg which is a small city about 40 minutes away from Munich. Our area of Augsburg is called Bärenkellar. One of you from home mentioned that it may be neat to show some pictures from around our town. In light of the thankful posts this week, I thought today would be a good day to share some of those pictures.

The other day as I was walking to the pharmacy to get some medicine I felt a little flutter in my stomach because I looked across the street and there was Ellison’s school and I knew that just around the block was Jude’s kindergarten. It was this feeling of ahhh we really live here. As with most towns here, we have a small grocery store within biking distance, a bakery (actually 4 of them within walking distance-fresh bread is a big deal here), a  general doctor, a pharmacy and a butcher.



The people here have been for the most part really warm to us and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We’ve developed a relationship with our neighbors across the street and with our neighbor who lives in the other side of our house. Down the street we’ve even met a retired American and his wife who is a native German.

A year ago, we would have never guessed that we’d be here in Bärenkeller walking the streets and actually doing life here. I’m so thankful, however, to be here, to be settled and to know for the most part how to get what we need to live.

Learning German

I really like the sound of German. Call me weird, but since our days in Austria I’ve loved the sound of it. When we moved back to the States, whenever I’d hear someone with a German accent I tried to engage in a little conversation with them. Our decision to come here to Augsburg was to get completely immersed in language and culture learning. So, soon after we arrived we went to work on figuring out how to learn German.

During that search, we were introduced to a German teacher and we really hit it off with her. It was right in the summer and unfortunately she was in the middle of classes and unable to help us right away. After we moved, we reconnected to get her opinion on language learning options. We opted to try to learn with her as a private instructor with both of us learning at the same pace.

That worked out well for the first two months, but we realized that the best decision for our family was to immerse Ian in a full time course and immerse me in full time keeping us all going. It was really crazy with both of us trying to study like 20-30 hours per week, acclimate our family, figure out how to live  and keep the house going.  We decided, however, that it wouldn’t be wise to completely take me out of language learning but to slow it down a bit. Right around this time, our instructor needed to slow down her pace as well and  so it was a perfect solution. She and I kept meeting and Ian started attending class every day for 5 hours per day.

For the past 2 months we have been meeting every Tuesday night for 2 hours. She then gives me homework for the week, and speaking exercises to complete with a speaking partner. Today I want to express that I’m really thankful for her. She is very understanding and patient, so giving and encouraging. She is just such a nice person to be with and I look forward to the day when we can have fluent fun conversations. Each week we get to learn a little bit more about each other and I learn a little more German. Tonight we actually finished up the A1 level of Berliner Platz and I’m moving on to the next book!

Thank you Katherina for your help in opening up my world little by little, piece by piece.


Love is in the little things

Thanksgiving is coming soon but for us it will look quite different this year. Ian and the kids are both going to be in school and life will be in full gear. We are planning to celebrate the holiday on Saturday with our American friends here. We’ve been warned from others that “it just doesn’t feel the same.” Even as we’ve talked to friends from home who are traveling to their families we’re reminded that it’s gonna be tough. We are foreigners.

I really love Thanksgiving, and we’ve been trying to remember it by incorporating intentional thanks throughout this month. In light of that, today I had an idea for the blog, maybe something that will inspire me to write a few days this week and it’s to tell you about 1 thing in the day that I’m thankful for.

Today I’m thankful for black hair care products :-). One of the first things I thought about when we were coming to Germany was where in the world I’d get my hair done. I’ve been relaxing my hair for as long as I can remember and I decided to just keep it up once we arrived. A friend of mine from home researched a place on line and I went in for my first hair appointment a couple months after we arrived. All was going well until I got the bill. It was a big huge hit in the gut and I knew that I’d have to make some changes to maintain my hair. We tried little things like me cutting the boys’ and Ian’s hair to save, but even with that it has just become too much. So, I decided to grow my hair out to it’s natural state and it has been quite the process. One of the major obstacles to this process is finding the right products that are best suited for my hair. I’ve had a few- ahem… moments over my hair lately and I’ve really been so bummed about it. To the point of dreaming of a secret trip to the US just to take care of my hair (record screech here) ummm no. There have been many times when I’ve prayed about it because I believe that as one of His children He cares about the things that I care about. Even my hair.

Last month I saw a lady of African decent in H&M and I struck up a conversation with her. I asked her if she knew of a place where I could buy products for my hair. She gave me a foggy description of where it was located but she didn’t know the name of it. I then tried to Google it and that came up pretty much void. Today, however, I loaded up Asher and headed into downtown Augsburg in search of this shop. Augsburg is not too big and she mentioned the Bahnhof and a bank so…we just went with it.

And…we found it! “Afro Collection Beauty of the World.” Quite the name right? Y’all it was so fun going in there and finding things that I’ve been missing. I was grinning the whole time. The prices are crazy marked up but I am soo thankful to have an option at least.

Tonight I’m sitting under a hair dryer and I did a roller set on my hair. After over a month of a pony tail and a bun I’m so excited to see the results. I tweeted that I found a store with black hair care products today and someone replied with this “woo hoo! The Lord answers prayers. Love is in the little things…” Yes, Love is in the little things. And I am really thankful for setting lotion, leave in conditioner and a silk sleeping bonnet!

A picture catch up

Man, it’s been a while…again. I keep making a plan for how to keep the blog up to date and then somehow those plans never quite work out. Something always comes up and for us at this stage in the game urgent comes first. But, I love having you guys along so as a quick catch up on life around here, I thought I’d just post some pictures and short descriptions. Does that work? Good. Here we go.

Yours truly turned 35! We celebrated at home with good eating and lots of down time- 2 of my favorite things. In the morning I opened up gifts from friends from home and from Ian and the kids.  After everyone got home from school Ian made a big lunch for all of us, we took a walk with the kids and then came home and ate cake. As I was talking to my mom on the phone her gift came in the mail. I though that was really neat.

Fall arrived here in Germany. For the past month or so we’ve put all of our shorts and t-shirts away and we can not leave the house without an extra layer. There are lots of beautiful leaves falling all over the place. When it’s sunny we try to get out of the house and burn off some energy. But, just as we were enjoying fall weather…

Snow arrived! It was such a cool surprise. The kids were really excited and were anxious to put on their snow gear. They got all in the snow and at one point we spoted Jude face down in the snow making snow angels. We’ve heard it’s pretty unseasonal to have snow so early, but it most certainly feels like winter here (or as I know it anyways).

Our Halloween was a little different this year. We talked a lot about Reformation Day and we went to  a church in the downtown of Augsburg where Martin Luther stayed while he was asked to recant his 95 Theses. After that we came back home and let the kids get creative and dress up from their closets and had a candy hunt. Ellison decided to be a flower fairy and Jude used his Peter Pan costume. The kids had a great time and were perfectly content until our door bell rang later on in the evening. It turns out that some people do trick or treat here (whoops) but it’s not nearly what it is in the US.

I hope all is well on your side of the screen. I’m going to try and write again this week, but please don’t hold your breath for that one.

Have a great week!

Driving- the post that could be like 5

Let me just preface this and say that this is a long post and it cannot accurately describe all that we’ve had to figure out with driving here. It has truly been harder and more consuming than getting our visas!

Pretty soon after we arrived, we heard that we’d need to get German Driver’s licenses. We were told that we had 6 months to complete the task. Unfortunately for us, our US licenses are from the state of Georgia, and as such, Germany will not automatically transfer them. Had we been holding licenses from the great state of South Carolina, however, the transfer would have been possible :-). Now I love South Carolina..was born and raised there, but driving in Atlanta, Georgia is a whole ‘nother ball game. Just on that point alone, I have to question the reasoning behind this law.

The lady in the driving department gave us a sheet completely in German of course outlining all the of the steps that we would have to go through to obtain a license. With so many things on our plate to figure out, like um…finding a place to live and getting our children in school, it fell to the back burner until about 2 and a 1/2 months ago. What we figured out through many questions and help from friends here is that our first step needed to be to find a driving school. We found one within walking distance of our home and after meeting us he was a bit perplexed. He’d never dealt with people in our situation which meant he had to do a lot of conversing with the officials in the department of motor vehicles to even figure out what they were really requiring of us. Which meant lots of waiting for us.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, our driving school instructor secured a spot for us to take the theory portion of our driving exam. We understood that there was some software we’d need to load on our computers to be able to study for the exam and we came home ready to dive in. Honestly we were thinking, this can’t be so bad. We’ve been driving for over half of our lives..Oh, no, no. After working through some technical difficulties with the computer, we were finally able to load the program. There were 916 practice questions on that thing! Right when I saw that number, a nervous sweat came over me. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Now some of the questions were hilarious but a lot of them were hard y’all. Like what in the heck is this. I’m talking anti-lock breaks, calculating breaking distances using formulas and all kinds of crazy stuff. At one point I was like do we really need to drive here? My laid back husband of course said “Beth come on, we got this.” To which I was buddy you got this but I’m the girl who always messes up on tests like this. I’m a classic over thinker.

About mid way through the week before we were set to take the exam we obtained international drivers licenses due to some recommendations from Facebook friends. Hallelujah! Those arrived on Friday, the same day that our Georgia ones were invalid here! On Monday we were set to take the tests. The days in between we were basically glued to the computer screen quizzing each other on the questions and putting in another DVD to keep our kids occupied.

Monday morning arrived and I walked in feeling like I’d been run over by a bus. I was so tired and I hadn’t felt that way since college. Asher and Ellison had to go to the test with us and we found out once we got there that they’d have to wait out in the hall way for 30-45 minutes alone. Great. Just what I needed -more stress. So now we’re prepping Ellison on how to take care of Asher, we equip her with a secret weapon (chewing gum) for if all else failed and we prayed silently so she wouldn’t feel the pressure of the moment. (She did awesome by the way!) I walk into the room and after the official explained some things and unlocked our computers we were able to start the test.

For the most part the questions were not hard. I didn’t have any that required me to use an algebraic equation but there were a few that threw me for a loop. Some based on wording and one in particular I answered falsely because I assumed that the biker in the scenario would be allowed to go in front of me.  At the end of the test I missed 4 questions. The maximum allowed was 3…so I failed. I was mad, angry, frustrated and disappointed. I wanted to pull a Clark Griswald. You know the scene when he found out his Christmas bonus was to a jelly of the month club membership.  I waited out in the hall with the kids until Ian was done. He had, however passed as he’d only missed 2 questions. He was equally frustrated after I told him about the ones I missed which was really sweet.

So….now I will be taking the test again. Not sure exactly when but I’m not looking forward to it to be honest. Ian will now complete driving time with the instructor and then prepare to drive with officials for another test.

Quite the process don’t you think?