Thursday, April 8, 2010

Moving On...

After nine months in Grand Rapids, we're moving on. Nothing against GR, mind you—we enjoyed our time there. God simply called us on to something else.

So, once again all our worldly possessions (save five suitcases) are packed away in a 5 x 10 storage unit. We left our Grand Rapids home behind a week ago today to spend the next three months on the road in our Honda Civic, visiting friends, family, and strangers to raise awareness and funds for The SOLD Project. Our journey will take us from Michigan to Nebraska to California all the way back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…and then on to Thailand at the beginning of July.

There, we’ll be living and working in a village in Chiang Rai province, home to The SOLD Project's prevention program and the children they work to protect from a life of sexual exploitation. After visiting SOLD’s operations in Thailand this past January, we’re eager to return and commit the next year (or more?) of our lives to serving these kids, learning their language, discovering their culture, and helping give them hope for a better future.

Learn more about our work at

Also, while we're speaking of moving on, I'm moving my blog to Tumblr (click here). I hope to see you all there!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love Without Constraints

On the envelope of a note to my wife dated February 13, I wrote "For you on this happy day..."

Today is a happy day, my dearest Heather.

For today--like every other day of our lives together--is the day I love you. Yes, more than yesterday; less than tomorrow.

When I knelt down at your feet between the seats on the New Jersey Transit and asked you to be my wife, and six months later when I took your hand before our great God and a whole host of human witnesses and claimed you as my bride, I was starting something richer and sweeter and far more meaningful than pastel colors and tasteless candy hearts. The commercial sea of gaudy pink and red baubles for sale at the local Walgreens can add nothing to our love.

Ours is not a love to be commemorated once or twice a year by an obligatory box of chocolates or the mushy sentimentality of some uninspired copywriter at Hallmark. (What does he know of our life together? Of the roads we've traveled?)

"Happy Valentine's Day!" people everywhere say out of habit, because culture says to do so. Routine words, signifying nothing. Devoid of imagination and sincerity. That's not the life--not the love--I invited you to share with me, until death do us part. No, our love is better than that.

When I said "Let's Kiss," I meant "let's share everything...just you and me." When I said "Hug Me," I meant "I need you so much closer; I'm at home in your arms." When I said, "Be Mine," I meant forever. Now, tomorrow, and the day after that. On and on and on we'll be together, yeah. And I want to celebrate that every day we live. Not with occasional greeting cards, but, as I vowed, "every day and in all things" by seeking to "meet your needs, know you better, trust you more completely, and love you more complete and humble dependance on the grace and power of our faithful God. Amen."

I'm not saying we can't light candles and pour ourselves a glass of wine now and again; I'm saying that's just a part--a natural part--of something so much bigger, something unconstrained by particular times and dates. Something found in the laughs, the prayers, the fears. The hard conversations and uncertainties. In the warmth and closeness, the knowing glances, the unspoken understanding, the comfortable silence, and everything else that sparks and pulses between us.

Ours is the love of life.

Always yours, on this day and every other,


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Away We Go Again

After more than a month of vagabonding, Heather and I landed in Grand Rapids, MI. And, for whatever reason, that's where we felt we should stay. For now, at least. So, we signed a 12-month lease on a small apartment in Heritage Hill within walking distance of downtown; we'll move in at the end of August.

Heather left this morning for Philly, so I'm "home" alone. I'll join her in a week once I wrap up some work I've been doing for Dot&Cross. Then, we'll spend time with friends and family we haven't seen since January, sell a bunch of stuff, pack up the rest, and drive out to GR to--finally--unpack our bags. After that...we'll see.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Home is Where We Are

We're "home," loosely speaking. We've already been back in the States for more than two weeks; still, it's a bit strange to be back on this side of the Atlantic in the land of cars and obesity and giant grocery stores.

Heather and I packed up our lives in Bratislava a few weeks early when we heard about David's brain tumor and caught an earlier flight back. We arrived in Omaha, met Heather's sister Angie and her two beautiful girls at the airport the next day, and road tripped out to Rochester, MN together to spend the week with David and Amy and (most of) the rest of the family. When David and Amy returned to their home to regroup before further treatment, the rest of us parted ways.

So, for the past week, we've been living with our friends Brittany and Andrew up in Chaska, MN. It's been a wonderfully relaxing (and even somewhat productive) time--talking, reading, watching movies, cooking, wrapping up work for TWR, riding bikes for the first time in forever, and learning to play Speed Scrabble.

What's next? We're not sure. And, let me tell you, that's a very unsettling thing to hear yourself say.

There are two questions Heather and I have been getting more than any other: 1) "So, where are you from?" and 2) "What are your plans?" The first question turns out to be much harder to answer than it should be: "Uh, Philadelphia. But we've been living in Slovakia for the last six months. Actually, Heather's from Omaha and I grew up outside Philadelphia. But we met in Ohio and both ended up back in the Philadelphia area which is where we started dating and everything. So we spent the first year of our marriage in West Chester, just outside Philly. But we don't live anywhere now." Concern and surprise usually lead to the second question, to which we respond with a reassuring "We don't know. We don't really have anything lined up." Jobs? Not really. Place to live? No. Are you busy this Thursday? No idea.

So, "home" is where we are. We're vagrants. Nomads. At present, the only place we have to call our own is a Honda Civic and a storage unit on the East Coast. Which pretty much makes us for the hospitality of others. As Ingrid Michaelson sings, "we might not have any money, but we've got our love to pay the bills."

Believe it or not, we're fairly content. Don't get me wrong, we hope to find an apartment somewhere and unpack our bags at some point. And we hope to receive some clue or direction about what cause or causes we should dedicate the next phase of our life to. But we're confident that God will provide for us. In the meantime, there's no need to worry. There really isn't.

I have all I need.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Operation 55 Zebra

Two weeks ago, on June 7, we were shocked to learn that my brother-in-law, David Wenzel, has a brain tumor. Turns out, he's probably had it since childhood. Thanks to a freak collision with a concrete pillar, the resulting seizure, and the subsequent MRI at Stanford Hospital in CA, the 7 cm tumor was detected. Since then...well, it's a long story, and he tells it best. Quick summary: David transfered to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where a series of tests revealed that the tumor is inoperable; it's nestled in real good with the part of David's brain that allows him to communicate. He went in for a biopsy and will have the full results early next week, but initial meetings with the oncologist and radiologist were encouraging--they believe the tumor will respond to radiation and chemotherapy.

If you want the details, check out David's blog, Jump David Jump, or follow him on Twitter (#55Zebra). His wife, Amy, has been posting updates on her blog as well. There's also a Facebook group.

If you want to help...first, pray. Pray like crazy. We're praying for complete healing, but even beyond that, that God will tell a powerful story through David and Amy's lives in these circumstances. I love and respect the two of them so much; already their faith and their attitude has been truly inspirational. And they'd be the first to tell you their strength and their peace comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. It's already so evident that our great God is at work.

Second, if you'd like to do something a little more tangible, I know they'd probably appreciate a hand with some of the medical expenses they have been and will be accumulating. One really easy, secure way to give is through PayPal's Send Money service--all you need to send money is the recipient's email address. If you don't have either of their addresses just ask.

OK, so what's with the zebra thing? David's case at Stanford was also known as "Fifty-Five Zebra". So, naturally, he adopted it as his call sign.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A TWR Epic Story: Reaching the Roma

As a PR Strategist for TWR, one of my major responsibilities for the past few months has been overseeing production of new short films for TWR Europe's series of Epic Stories. This particular story, titled Reaching the Roma, highlights TWR's ministry among the Roma people.

When I arrived in Europe six months ago, I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know who the Roma were; today, I would count many of them as friends--as brothers and sisters in Christ. So it is with great pleasure that I present this short film to you. I hope that as you hear their story and see their faces you'll be inspired to help reach them with God's unconditional love.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Photos: Adventures in Europe

Heather and I love living here in Europe. Bratislava is a great little city that feels like home--we can't wait to show it off to Heather's parents when they visit us at the end of this month. Plus, living here and working with TWR has given us many opportunities to see some of the surrounding countries as well: Austria, Bulgaria, and Germany for starters (click the links to see some of my photos).

In fact, Heather just returned from Romania a few days ago and, today, we're leaving for a short trip to Paris...followed by a weekend visit to Rome! There will be more pictures to come, I'm sure. Until then, au revoir!