Saturday, December 25, 2010

6 Countries in 6 Months of Marriage

We are home to beautiful, mountainous, crisp, Colorado and hopefully for awhile! After traveling for 40+ hours to get home we had plenty of time to reflect on our last half of a year and realized that in our short 6 months of marriage we traveled to 6 countries! The United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, China, and most recently Israel. We did make pit stops in Hong Kong, Jordan and Palestine but weren't really at any long enough to "count" them. Anyway, after all of those countries, planes, trains, taxis, buses, cuisine experiences, and adventures we decided we have grown so tremendously individually, in our marriage and in our walks with the Lord. We are grateful for that time that was often difficult but very sharpening and growing for us...

Other than that we arrived last night about 6:30 pm after some close calls with missing flights due to bad weather in Europe. We are feeling VERY blessed to be home and enjoying Christmas in Colorado. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the Nelsons. We pretty much got totally spoiled with BBQ ribs, Black Butte Porter and too many fun gifts. A cappachino maker, snowshoes, and a cute gray peacoat for Carly. Ladder Golf, a knife set, and snowshoes for Ryan. We are wishing you a very Merry Christmas and praying the rest of this day is joyful and full of His presence!

Finally, here are a few pictures of our last few days in Saudi Arabia with more pictures to come of our trip to Israel with Yvonne, George and Stacey! So fun and bonding! And congratulations to Ryan Decker who now officially has his MASTERS in Environmental Engineering!!!

Ryan and Ali-who was definitely our favorite guy to tease and laugh with!

My beautiful friend Cynthia, from Nigeria who I already miss

Ryan and his friend David from Germany...check out those sweet shorts!

Ammar and Bedour who were amazing hosts and friends to us in Saudi














Our table of friends at a fancy KAUST dinner for
graduates












Celebrating Ryan's Masters Degree with the Deckers!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Am I A Hippy?




Confession time: I LOVE all things natural and organic. Food. Natural Family Planning. Chocolate. Make-up. Herbs. Toiletries. And especially, cleaning products. But not the expensive ones that you might think of. And not some diluted crap shoot ones that don't actually work. No, no. I am serious about my cleaning supplies.


You see, much to my husband's bewilderment, I really like cleaning. I do it to de-stress, when I have nothing else to do or just for fun. Really! I LOVE having clean floors and spotless counters. Most importantly I loathe that fake, "lemon-mountain-bleach-breeze" smell that cleaning products offer that truly smell nothing like the lemons, mountains or breezes I have ever known.


So here is what this post is really about. Sharing the recipes for cleaning products that have changed some important health factors in our lives. I get frequent and unbearable migraines that put me out of commission for 1-2 days normally. I have tried EVERYTHING, but I had not even dreamed that maybe it was my cleaning supplies that were aggravating my migraines. Though I still get the occasional migraine switching to natural/home-made products has significantly decreased the severity and frequency of them. So let me share with you the cheap, very effective and amazing recipes I use:

Natural all-purpose cleaner- Mix 1 part vinegar and 3 parts hot water together in a spray bottle as needed. Scent the mixture with essential oil like Tea Tree Oil which acts as a natural disinfectant. You can also dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water for a good general cleaner.


-Club soda-Apply to carpet stains and scrub. So easy!


-Toilet Cleaner-Sprinkle baking soda and lemon juice in toilet, let sit and then scrub.


-Window/Glass cleaner-Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1 gallon water–spray and wipe off with newspaper to avoid streaks.


-Shower Cleaner-Mix baking soda and water until it is the texture of frosting. Rub on with the rough side of a sponge, let sit and scrub off.


These are cheap and so easy to make. I can pronounce every single ingredient that I am using and have seen very clear results. I won't rant about what mainstream cleaners do to you and your health; there are books for that and I have read them. They scared me enough that I started thinking more deeply about the root causes of certain health issues that I have. Although cleaning products did not cause my migraines, making a switch helped the problem. I love natural cleaning supplies and I especially love knowing that my house is filled with the smell of REAL lemons after a grand day of cleaning!




Saturday, December 11, 2010

Moving to Colorado!



The move is official! Today we reserved a great apartment right outside of Golden, set in the foothills but still conveniently close to Denver so I can easily get to classes. We are most excited about a large park that neighbors to the east, a big walk-in closet, the den so we can have guests stay with us and a balcony to enjoy Colorado weather!

The Nelson parentals toured an apartment for us today (to check the for the usual rental sketchiness) and with no problems we move in December 27th bright and early. The apartment is 1.6 miles away from work so Ryan can easily bike in about 10 minutes. How nice is that??? Everything is lined up and ready for us to get home in about 2 weeks. The Lord is way too good to us and we cannot wait to wake up to this every morning...



Praying this is what we live by in our new home:

"...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD"
Joshua 24:15

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Money Money Money!


The financial dreamland is over. For the last 4 or 5 months we have been living on the KAUST campus where we were only financially responsible for food and any traveling/entertainment we wanted. The university provided basically everything: housing, medical insurance and even transportation around campus. Come December 24th, when we step off the plane back into Colorado, we enter back into more of a financial reality. A reality where we have bills and responsibility. A reality where we want to be good stewards of the money that we will be making with Healing Waters. It's new, and Carly and I are both super excited.

As you can imagine, this move back home has triggered a lot of recent conversations about how we want to be handling money. Our first priority is for sure to find a way to spend every cent of it on ourselves. I mean, that's what the world tells us after all.

BARF!

Truthfully, we have been thinking a ton about what Jesus says about money in the Gospels. I have never really noticed how frequently He talks about it. It surprised me. The book of Luke alone has so many challenges:

-We don't want to be rich fools. We want to be rich toward God (Luke 12:13-21)
-We want to give, give, and then give some more (Luke 12: 33-34)
-We want to be trustworthy with worldly wealth and not waste the possessions given to us (Luke 16:10-12)
-We want nothing (riches, security, status) standing between us and trusting Christ (Luke 18:18-27)

The overall message we are getting from Luke is, "Be careful and wise with money. It can be so dangerous. To avoid the temptation to love money over God, give it away." We don't think the Bible says to give EVERYTHING to the poor and live in poverty. We are saying that it's easier to give away something that is not controlling you. We don't want money to control us, to take our attention or our affections. We have been given much and we will be called to accountability for that.

I will leave you with a last verse...

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:34

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Homemade Christmas Inspiration

My friend Beth and I were in the Christmas spirit today so we had a homemade card making party! We sipped spicy orange/clove/cinnamon tea from a package that my AMAZING mom sent, listened to our favorite Christmas songs (Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby!) and Beth's apartment is decorated beautifully for Christmas so it was the perfect atmosphere. This was a fun and very cheap way to make some cute cards to bless people with! These are the 4 I had time to make and I am inspired for other holidays too! All we were missing was the snow but we will get some of that in exactly 20 days!

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” ~Harlan Miller














Friday, December 3, 2010

Husband vs. Dwight Schrute

Ryan has desperately been needing a haircut because he has begun to look A LOT like...





Do you think he looks like Dwight? I did so we needed a change and this is the handsome after picture:




Here are a couple pictures of Ryan and his nasty sprained ankle. He finally tracked down some very tall crutches and it made getting around for him much easier. This was a bad week to sprain an ankle because he worked 10+ hour days running around to different labs, doing final research and writing a huge paper. He finished everything right on time and officially graduates with his Master's degree in about 13 days! WOO HOO!



Who knew your ankle could make so many different colors?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Belated Turkey Day Pictures

The glory of TWO perfectly roasted turkeys!

Our endless buffet of every side traditional dish imaginable

We had almost 40 people enjoying dinner together

Our good friends Juno and Qing Yu

Enjoying time together before the stuffing began!

BEHOLD--the perfect glory of desserts for my husband!

Our friend Matt really getting into his turkey leg

The Deckers!

My handsome new friend, Etessam who is 3 and VERY adorable!

Homemade braided bread

The traffic jam we caused using a shopping cart to transport our dishes to the house where Thanksgiving was hosted. Only in Saudi Arabia...



Friday, November 26, 2010

Ambulance Ride

Ryan took his first ambulance ride last night. He has a badly sprained ankle but he is doing well otherwise. We both went to the gym last night to work out and about 20 minutes later one of the gym employees came and notified me that "my husband was very injured". Turns out he was playing 1 on 1 with his good friend Mark and landed wrong on his ankle. He heard a pop which is never a good thing so they called the ambulance and rushed him to the on-campus clinic. After x-rays and ice it turns out he sprained it.

The whole story (because we are in Saudi Arabia after all) would not be complete without some hilarious and ridiculous moment happening in the midst of all this. SO...as it turns out the clinic does not adequately supply crutches for a man that is 6'2". Instead they handed Ryan two small hand crutches that were literally meant for a 9 year old child. It was RIDICULOUS seeing him try to use these. I did have to get a little fired up to request a wheelchair at least to get him to the curb! Oh Saudi Arabia...

For now Ryan is resting, icing, elevating and loves being babied. I think he will be just fine, especially on his tiny crutches.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving!

Point of View

By Shel Silverstein

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.
Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck.
Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
'Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! We dedicate this poem to Tyler & Anna Decker who we're sure have thought about the turkey's point of view this year-we love you both!

Our Thanksgiving Day plans are very busy and exciting this year. Our first celebration together will involved mashing over 50 potatoes, having dinner with 40ish people and being surrounded by sweet community in Saudi Arabia! The Americans on campus are hosting a LARGE traditional dinner for all the non-Americans-they just have to show up and get stuffed. We're having two turkeys, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pinto beans and cornbread, sweet potato casserole, SEVEN pies and one cheesecake. This will be feast to end all feasts!! More important than the food will be who we are with and Who we are praising. This is a unique opportunity to learn how cultures and traditions merge to give praise to God for everything He has done for us. Above all else we are excited to learn and thank the Lord on Thanksgiving Day with people from all over the world!

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
-Psalm 69:30

After lunch; rest; after dinner walk a mile.
-Arab Proverb

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pictures from China!

Here are a few of our pictures, enjoy!

Speechless? So were we when we saw this was out hotel balcony view!!


We DID get to experience autumn-this was on our long hike!


Hilarious old man rowing on his bamboo raft


Our bamboo raft driver w/ Ryan drinking the local beer


Traditional rice noodle and pork breakfast always eaten with chopsticks. DELICIOUS!


Ryan and I in front of the karst mountains


Cow crossing?


Every meal is served with green tea, we got very used to delicious Chinese tea!


The Hong Kong city line from the top of a mountain

Thursday, November 18, 2010

我们从中国回来 (We are back from China)

video


Long time no post! We are home from busy, wonderful China! It was hard to leave actually but very nice to get home to our apartment and routine. So far China and Hong Kong are definitely sitting near the top of our list of favorite places we've traveled so far.

The last half of the trip was the best part (after the conference in the city). If you ever need to escape the real world for a few days go to the place we went: Yangshuo Mountain Retreat in Guilin, China (http://www.yangshuomountainretreat.com). I don't know how to adequately describe it other than: breath-taking, authentic, refreshing and serene. That little flip video did a great job capturing our hilarious bamboo rafting adventure and the scenery was just indescribable! We spent our days hiking through the karst mountains (those are the huge rocky formations covered in trees you can barely see through the mist), biking over 20 miles into a little village for market day and spending time outside soaking up fresh air.

We learned a few thing in China:

1) You can definitely make it through a country knowing just a few words of the native language as long as you get creative in expressing what you want and being very very polite and helpless looking. Example: On occasion Ryan could be found theatrically pointing towards his groin and making a squatting position when telling someone he needed a bathroom. Hilarious!

2) We learned what it meant to be hospitable and an excellent host to guests. Our friend Li Jien from China was with us for some of our stay and was the ultimate tour guide. He is the epitome of generosity. He bought us dinner, paid for our bus tickets much to our protest, treated me to a Starbucks and graciously translated all our needs into Chinese. We want to host people in our country like he did for us in his. Li Jien taught us how to graciously serve with love and kindness backed with the desire to build stronger community.

3) Culture shock is very real. A little story for you: We decide to spend the afternoon in a bustling, very authentic Chinese market where no one speaks English. As we are walking through the aisles crammed with sweets, produce and other various goods we spot what looks like a whole roasted pig. Despite immediate suspicion based on its appearance, we tried to convince ourselves for awhile that it was in fact a pig. Um, no it was a dog. A DOG! We knew this given the long straight tail and very obvious dog-feet. (insert cringe). No wait it gets worse. Later down another aisle Ryan announces loudly, "Yes, it was a dog!" I timidly peek around the corner to see a black lab very dead on the floor with his pink tongue rolled out of his mouth. I went into a bit of shock and stumbled away dizzy, promptly bursting into tears in front of many confused Chinese people. From this we learned that culture shock is REAL and that our culture is not the only way of doing things. I have no judgement for the Chinese diet, but I was more shocked that not everyone sees dogs as inedible. The bigger problem here is that I have a more narrow view than I thought of specific issues foreign to me and I need to learn how to accept cultures different from my own. This I struggle with.

4) Finally we learned that we will serve the Lord anywhere, especially China! We love the people and we both connect well with friends from China. The cities provide endless adventures but best of all there are mountains and beauty here (unlike a place we currently live). Psalm 148 is all about praising the Lord for His creation and that was our "China Psalm" and worship for this trip.

So there are a few things what we learned and continue to learn as we process this trip. More pictures to come in the next few days and can't wait to share more of this privilege and blessing of a trip with you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Morning Glory China Muffins



We're flying to China tomorrow for a week! China is strongly on our hearts and we are excited for our first time in Asia. We have many friends from China so it will be incredible to share out experience with them after hearing so much about it. The main purpose for the trip is so Ryan can attend a KAUST sponsored academic conference on sustainable infrastructures. After that we will go to the mountains of China for a much needed break from the desert and sight-seeing. We will miss out on the Great Wall this time, but that just gives us more incentive to go back again!

Here's how the Decker's traveling relationship usually works: Ryan plans the trips, itinerary, finds fun places to see and works out details while I, Carly, plan the snacks! This is an important task that I do not take lightly! So for China, the main snack attraction is...

Morning Glory Muffins!!

Ingredients

1 cup evaporated sugar cane (or regular sugar)

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

3/4 cup organic Raisins

1 large organic granny smith apple, peeled and grated

1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups grated organic carrots

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (or substitute with applesauce)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Sift or whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the coconut, raisins, apple, pineapple, carrots, and nuts, and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and blend well.
Spoon the batter into a buttered muffin tins, filling each to the brim. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why I Deleted My Facebook Account



It's over. I've deleted my facebook account though it will not be "officially" terminated for another 14 days. Thanks for that last string of hope Zuckerberg. I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I do not want or need a FB account.

Top Reasons for Deletion
-My data and information is not truly private
-It is a waste of time (ex: farmville??? mafia wars???)
-FB is not oriented towards God but towards a societal norm
-Did I mention the time waster one yet?!
-They were using me. FB is the company and they sell ads. They make money off of me. I was another statistic for them to make some major cash. I served as an upaid employee.
-FB practices some questionable business ethics-I want disassociation from their brand
-Can I really call 953 people my friends? I want to pour into REAL relationships.
-FB proves to be an easy temptation to avoid getting meaningful work done

"Having turned inward in a search for meaning, we turn outward in a search for direction, scanning others for the social signals they emit regarding what is in and what is out, what is desirable and what is not. . . . This person is oriented not to inner values but to other people. It is in the peer group that acceptance is found and outcasts are named. . . . Where once people took pride in accomplishments and in their character, [they] think only of how they stand with others. . . . Once people worked to achieve tangible ends, to accomplish things. Now, such accomplishments are of far less significance than one's "image." Once people worked; now they manipulate. Once people sweated; now they seduce. Once people wished to be respected, to have their accomplishments recognized; now they wish to be envied, regardless of whether they are envied for anything they have actually accomplished"
-David F. Wells in his book titled "No Place for Truth"

I feel totally solid in deleting FB. For those people that keep it I hope it serves as a useful and encouraging tool in your life for purpose and authentic community. No judgment here, I only know why I got rid of mine. Instead of spending my time staring at a screen and disconnected from REAL people I dig hanging out with I'll instead spend my time doing even more of these activities that I love:
Developing authentic community, time in God's Word, hanging out with friends, being outside, playing guitar, drawing, writing letters/postcards, praying, serving my husband, planning a surprise for someone, baking, drinking coffee at the library, learning something new, volunteering, having friends over, writing a Bible Study, and watching Nacho Libre.

I am so glad to walk away from the cyberworld and back into the real world.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Small Groups

Hola amigos! We're still riding the waves of adrenaline, excitement and sheer awe of Ryan's new job!! HWI works heavily in Latin America so Spanish speaking employees (and spouses!) are highly desired. Hence the blog greeting and I'm sure you'll see more of what we attempt to learn in the months to come. Ryan actually just translated an entire email update from a pastor in one of the countries sent to the COO and employees that was in Spanish!

For now we wanted to share a picture of our beloved small group. This groups meets every Sunday night for worship, teaching, community and always delicious food. Believers in the picture represent America, England, Uganda, Nigeria, Mexico and South Korea. This is just one of many small groups that meet which pumps us up! At KAUST we are allowed to meet with others to practice our religion in the confinements of our home but we must avoid anything public. Fair enough Saudi Arabia. Outside the protection of our sugar mama (aka KAUST) it is illegal to proselytize, have a Bible, and freedom of religion is non-existent. Hope that didn't dishonor the country or people we love here-just stating the facts. Thank you Lord and KAUST for giving us freedom! We love what it means to meet with people from all over the world-this isn't your ordinary western model of church! We're grateful for 6 more weeks of meeting with our "family" here and then starting an adventure in Denver!



Ahora bien, el Señor es el Espíritu; y donde está el Espíritu del Señor, hay libertad.
-2 Corintios 3:17

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Employment!

Ryan is officially a full time worker! We talked to the CEO and COO of Healing Waters International last night and they shared the great news that they wanted Ryan to join the team! Wow we are praising and thanking God for this! Only He could have allowed Ryan to get his dream job with such an amazing company. Here's the really cool thing: Ryan and his best friend Marc both applied for jobs in August with the company. We were always under the impression that they could only hire one of them. But God rearranged the company and worked it out that they BOTH got hired! Different positions but they will be working together.

Ryan starts work January 1, 2011 and we get back to Denver hopefully on the 25th of December. Lot's of changes happening now but we couldn't be more excited and grateful for direction.

Check out company and there vision here: http://www.healingwatersintl.org/


Pic: A woman in the Dominican republic helped by HWI water systems


I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
-Deuteronomy 32:3

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Very Saudi Halloween



Our costume planning skills were top notch this year. In case it isn't completely obvious, Ryan is a "gangsta" sleeved out in fake tattoos and Carly is a rock star. We also had a ninja, janitor, KAUST apartment and "bad-ass". Halloween isn't a huge thing here but the school did throw a party that we missed but heard it was fun. At our hang out we all watched Monster's Inc and stuffed ourselves on sugar and snacks. Not your typical Halloween when it's 85 degrees outside, but great nonetheless! Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where are We?!?! Part 2

As a continued post to our last one, this will keep you all on the edge of your seat! These are pictures of our KAUST apartment! Honestly Saudi Arabia is way too good to us. All the furniture came with it and we love the size, color, EVERYTHING!! Included with our apartment was pans, silverware, dishes, couches, pretty pillows, IKEA furniture and everything else we could possibly need. We are in a great location as we are close to the smaller of the 2 grocery stores, right near the gym, 1/4 mile from the beach and walking distance to every coffee shop. We're blessed to call this place home for a bit longer!

The upstairs open loft and study where Carly does her classes everyday...

Our beautiful kitchen! Love the colors...

The enormous family room--our favorite room!!

Our Colorado Stairway-calender pictures are on the wall to remind us of home!

The dining room. The table has a turning 'lazy susan' that is AWESOME for serving dishes to every corner of the table at dinner time...


So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
2 Corinthians 5:9

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