Huy is gorgeous right now. It's been raining off and on, but every once in awhile, the sky becomes blue. We decided to go feed the ducks last night in celebration.

It made me very happy.

Especially because there were BABIES.

And then the mama must have released some sort of secret call because all of the sudden all 8 babies ran to her and hid under her wings. They all sat there like that, the babies warmed under mama, and daddy standing guard on one foot. It was awesome. And how things should be.

Awesome as well was that we randomly made some friends. There is parking for RVs right by where we were feeding the ducks, and we met a couple who were in town for a few days. It was so great. He spoke a lot of English, and between that and our French, we sat there for quite awhile listening to his great stories while his wife cooked dinner. We got their emails so we can maybe do some site-seeing with them. Isn't that just too fun??

Today we visited the town of Dinant with our friend Ozan who we met in language school. All I knew is that there was a fort there, but I wasn't prepared to come around this corner and see this:

It is like a fairy tale! I expected to see Rapunzel throw her hair down from that cliff! Europe holds so many treasures and I am thankful to have seen another one today.

We rode the funicular up the hill and started exploring the fort.

Men must share some kind of bond when it comes to old war weapons.

Ozan is very brave and crossed the ropes to make friends with this butcher.

More guns.

I love Dinant! I think it is because I didn't really have any expectations of what it would be like, and it just took my breath away.

Here's to exceeded expectations!


First of all, thank you to all of my wonderful ladies who made me feel like I was with you last weekend. We were able to ichat, and I took them on a tour of my apartment :) Let me tell you, that made my day big time. I was also able to call them several times throughout the weekend just to check in, and it made all the difference. I still wish I could have been there, madly actually, but God was good to give me a link with them.

How did she console herself, you may be asking? I find that a good cup of soup and a movie calm most storms. My current favorite is asparagus soup from this book. Sadly, I found out last week at the market that asparagus season is over. Imagine my shock at learning that there are places in the world that I can't get whatever I want WHEN I want it :) I had my heart set on this soup, though, and was able to find 2 bunches of white asparagus from Peru (Now, THAT'S more like it. I feel like I am back at my trusty HEB). Thank you, Peru.

So, soup and Mystery Science Theater 3000 it was.

Today Clay and I went for an extremely long run/hike through outer Huy. So beautiful.

I needed time to think and I find that running, or really exercise of any kind, loosens my thoughts and helps them make their way to my mouth, where they can then be sorted out between the 2 of us. We had a really good long talk. About life and God. Good stuff.

And because I love you and you can probably find asparagus where you are, here is my favorite soup recipe. No need to read further if you don't care what I am eating these days.

Chicken Stock (used in the asparagus soup)
-1 whole chicken (3 pounds or so)
-4 quarts cold filtered water
-2 tablespoons vinegar (I use apple cider)
-1 large onion, coarsely chopped
-2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
-3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
-1 bunch parsley

Place chicken in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley.

Remove whole chicken. Let cool and remove chicken meat. Reserve for other uses. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

Asparagus Soup
serves 4-6

-2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
-3 tablespoons butter
-1 1/2 quarts chicken stock (see above)
-4 red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters (I omit the potatoes, and it is just as good.)
-2 bunches tender asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
-2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
-sea salt and pepper

Sauté onions gently in butter until tender. Add stock, garlic and potatoes (if using). Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add asparagus and simmer another 10 minutes or so until tender. Blend with a handheld blender (or a regular blender). Pass the soup through a strainer to remove any strings from the asparagus (I don't do this). Season to taste.

Enjoy, Friends!



This weekend is something I have been anticipating for awhile. Some little town in Texas is going to be a little bit crazier this weekend because some wild women are coming to town! Every year the women on my mom's side get together for a reunion of sorts. Since my senior year of high school I have been a part of the laughing, crying, and eating that is the WWAC. Today they all meet again. This time without me.... and I am not going to lie, I don't like not being there one little bit.

I am imagining what this weekend will hold for my dear ladies.

The three sisters. Nanny, Aunt Barbara, and Aunt June. Such wisdom and stories. I am smiling just thinking about you. Ok, and I'm laughing too. You make me so happy.

And I'm imagining the late night story-tellings, including 70 year-old stories, interruptions, plenty of corrections, laughter, and tears streaming down our faces.

I'm imagining lots of quality time with 15 women whom I love and whom I also share a face with.

I'm imagining celebrating Caley's recent wedding, and Kirsten's 1st pregnancy (just found that out tonight!!)

I'm imagining a group of women who love me to pieces even though I'm on the other side of the world, and from whom distance can't separate me from.

Rock on, ladies. You fill my heart to brimming.


Happy Birthday, Belgium!

Our friends left early this morning. What fun we had with them! Seriously, visits from home are the absolute BEST! Thank you Zach and Amanda for swinging by our neck of the woods!

Yesterday we walked around Huy, took the cable car to the top of the city, and really just hung around. It was so relaxing and so wonderful to be able to hear about their lives, TBC, and life in Tomball. They asked us what we miss most about home, and after thinking for a minute, we came up with "people and Mexican food. " Their visit helped us with the "people" aspect, but did nothing to satisfy our craving for Casa Ama's. 1 out of 2 isn't bad :)

So, life back to normal in Huy.

Today is the Belgian independence day, so I am sure there will be some interesting things to see. I'm a big fan of national pride, and it is fun to see so many Belgian flags! I'm looking forward to our day, and thankful God has put us here.


We have company!

Zach and Amanda from Tomball are here! They spent the last 2 weeks working at a camp in France, and were able to swing by Huy for a few days before heading home. They are such a great "chill" couple, which is perfect because Huy has never been more mellow. Lots of stores are closed for the holiday tomorrow (Belgian independence day), and the sky is nice and brooding, with just a peep of sun shining through. Cardigan weather is the best :)

Amanda spied this great deal at one craft store. All the buttons that would fit in a paper cone for 5 euros. We left the store with 2 cone-fulls and a happiness that can only come from a purse filled with buttons.

We are so glad you're here, friends!



I feel like time is flying by! Maybe it is because it is summer? I don't know, but we just celebrated 4 months here! That is 1/6 of our time here, people! Crazy. Summer is rolling along with all kinds of fun out-of-the-ordinary activities. Last night we attended our first Belgian wedding! Our pastor's daughter got married, and we enjoyed being a part of such a special day. It was pretty similar to an American wedding, except for one thing. Before heading to the church, we met the family at the bride's house to see the groom come get his girl. It was really sweet! We all stood outside waiting for the him to pull up. Then we got to watch as he walked up to the house, rang the doorbell, and then... there was his bride! How sweet is that? He then gave her the bouquet, and we were off to the ceremony!

Belgians love a party! We left the reception EARLY around midnight, right after cake. At church this morning we learned that many did not leave until 4am! We were all a little bleary-eyed, but wouldn't have missed it.

Church this morning was really special. There was a moment when, while singing one of Clay's and my favorite songs, I realized that, without turning around, I could name pretty much everyone sitting in the rows behind me. And not just name them, but could also tell a funny or sweet story about almost every one of them. So here I am in Belgium, singing to Jesus in FRENCH (and understanding what I am singing!), all while surrounded by the voices of people that 4 months ago were strangers. And now they are dear friends. This church family has been one of the biggest blessings to us. I can't even get over it. What joy to praise the Lord with others who love him too.

In other news, my craft class is finished. It was such a fun thing, and I will miss it, especially the kids. The teacher is starting another class for just ladies later this month, so I might give it a go. We'll see. Here is our class picture :)

And, I think I will leave you with that :)


The week.

Sunday was day 2 of the soccer tournament! It was an awesome day.

Here is The Boss (Brent) surrounded by his worker bees getting ready for the day to get started.

I especially love this picture, because A) everyone in it is precious to me, and B) their funny expressions. Probably a combination of A and B, now that I think about it.

After the tournament was over and we were picking up, the kids couldn't resist doing what I am sure they were dreaming about all weekend :)

The tournament was a grand success! It was a lot of fun for players and spectators alike. Brent, you did a great job! For those of you curious, the sand is actually gone! I didn't believe that it was possible to get rid of so much sand, but as the day ended on Sunday, people were pulling up with trailers, excited to refill their sandboxes or start construction projects. It ended on Monday with a company leaving with bulldozer after bulldozer-full. I wasn't there, but it apparently involved a long day of hearing a bulldozer scrape concrete, and hours of sweeping. Sounds awesome :)

Yesterday, we went with the Boatwrights to visit Sirin and Xavier to celebrate Sirin's birthday. It was so great to see them again! We took a walk through their town and found a really peaceful park. I realized how much I have missed trees!

We also enjoyed spending time with the Boatwrights, as they are leaving in August. Oh, how I will miss them!

And I have to share our Bday gift to Sirin with you. Last time she was over she was raving about our hot sauce. Well, Cholula for you it is, Birthday Girl! It makes my Texas heart happy for my Turkish friend to love Cholula :) Sirin and Xavier are great! They are such sweet new friends.

And on a random note, my lunch today was awesome. Roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, sauteed greens with red peppers and onions, and a big salad. I LOVE market-day Wednesdays!!

Happy Wednesday to you!


Soccer Tournament

The beginnings of a long day of sand spreading...

90 elephants later... (For some reason, I always measure tons in elephants. 2 tons= 1 elephant. Reading Rainbow was good for something) ... 180 TONS of sand!!

Clay and a few of the guys who worked to get the job done.

We have come to find that no Belgian event is truly complete without barbeque. Barbeque here means incredible sausages, grilled and seasoned with herbs de provence, nestled inside a crusty baguette. Clay commented today that these barbeques are among his favorite things about Belgium :)

I loved the system of purchasing the sausages. You paid at the registration table, were handed a baguette, which was then your proof of purchase at the grill to get your sausage. It just made so much sense!

What a fun day!

Amy, Kathy, and Philip manning the registration table.

It was a fun day with teams playing from 9am-9pm! Lots of folks came out from church and from the town, and we were able to get some good video, too.

Can you spot the camera-man?

And we get to do it all over again tomorrow!


The Day I Almost Got Arrested...

Ok, so maybe that's a little much, but I (Clay) did have a run-in with the law today that I won't soon forget. Let me explain...

So this weekend our church is putting on a soccer tournament here in Huy. What makes this stand out from other tournaments is that it's a beach soccer tournament. If you're up on your Belgian geography (and I know you are), you'll quickly realize that Huy is nowhere near the beach. To remedy this, we had 180 Tonnes of sand brought in. Awesome. It's like every kid's (or big kid's) dream to watch 6 semis drop off piles and piles of sand, until you realize that you have to move it with shovels. Fortunately, the city surprised us by sending one of their guys who offered to come on his day off with a bulldozer. The guy saved us hours and hours of work, so we wanted to thank him. He said something about having to leave in 15 minutes, so Kevin and I ran (literally) to the closest grocery store and got this guy a pack of some fine Belgian brew. We knew we were pressed for time, so as Kevin waited for his change, I ran back to the work site with the thank-you gift. As I was running up, I heard Kevin right behind me, then I heard a car right behind us on what is basically a sidewalk. I didn't think much of it with all we had going on until the guys, who turned out to be plain-clothed cops, jumped out of the car and told us to stop. They asked for our IDs and checked our bag. Kevin offered to show him the receipt, but the guy said to keep his hands out of his pockets, so we stood there laughing like idiots. We knew exactly what was going on. This guy saw us running and it looked suspicious. I don't blame him. People barely walk fast on the sidewalks, let alone run, so this guy running down the street with a bag with his friend in tow had to look shady. We explained and the cop even laughed a little (once he confirmed with the system that we weren't wanted).

So, no harm done. Our friend got his brew and Kevin and I got a great laugh out of it.

I'm sure there will be more pictures of the tournament coming soon. It's going to be cool.


Congratulations, Megan and Joe!!

The pictures just showed up on Facebook!!! Congratulations to one of my dearest and oldest friends! I don't care that your name is now Megan Vosters, you will always be "Megan Mc" to me. I love you.

P.S. Girl, you are rockin' those bluebonnets. You make me proud :)

Craftiness for the Foreigner's Soul.

I think most of you know of my need to craft. Pretty fabric, felt, embroidery floss, these are true keys to my heart. And comfort mechanisms, too! For the last few weeks I have been a part of stuffed animal making class. The flier said it was for "all ages," but until today I was the only adult in the class. It is awesome- I laugh the entire time. It is the perfect place to practice French, since kids are so forgiving. And we even have a break in the middle of class where we get to go outside, play, and have some juice (I am not kidding).

Feast your eyes on my first projects (my classmates helped me name them): Blue Dragon, Souris Verte, and Big Head.

I am learning a lot, which is fun, and the company can't be beat. There is this one little boy who only makes aliens and monsters. After he completes one, he always comes over to my chair and makes it "fight" with whatever creature I am making. I absolutely love it.

Ok, off to clean the kitchen. My latest gluten-dairy-sugar free baking experimentation has failed miserably, and regrettably, it appears to have done so all over my kitchen.

Ciao, people.



I am feeling pretty content right now, pondering the highs and lows of the last few days. It has been nice and rainy here lately, which has brought the temperature down immensely. I actually pulled out a blanket today while I was sitting on the couch, and I wore JEANS all day (are you reading this, Texans???). Plus, there was butternut squash at the market today (!) which made dinner especially wonderful. So, yeah, things are really good here in Huy. There's been a lot going on.

A few weeks ago we graduated from school... I find this very funny since we were only in school for 10 weeks. The ceremony was awesome. There was a long speech, a few students were called to get their diplomas, and then the word was given for the rest of us to scuttle to the front of the room to rummage for our own certificates. I was laughing so hard as we joined the herd of cattle rushing the stage. It felt so... distinguished.

We celebrated our 3 year anniversary on the 1st by having breakfast at a new restaurant. It is one of the few places that we have found that serve eggs for breakfast!

July also happens to be the month that EVERY store has huge sales! What a nice anniversary surprise :) I have always had a favorite store in Huy. I don't even know the name of it, but I spotted it over a year ago when we first visited here. They have the most incredible window displays that they change atleast once a week, and every time I walk by I soak it all in. Very unique, pretty clothes- kind of Anthropologie-esque but with some feisty euro added in. Anyways, it is very expensive. I have actually only been in once, and haven't allowed myself back since. For months I have been a window stalker. Enter glorious July. Clay was so kind to accompany me and help me pick out a few things to celebrate our anniversary.

Here I am in the pants I bought, very excited to actually be matching the mannequins that I so admire :) I also must say that these pants mark a milestone for me. They are the first thing that I have bought here that I would classify as "euro." I call them my jasmine pants :) They are extremely comfortable and I wish they came with a magic carpet.

(If you think they are hideous, you should see the more exaggerated version that we have here: jasmine pants like mine but ankle-length with a crotch that sags to the knees. Are people dressing like this in America?)

Clay has been chomping away at the growing pile of video projects. We just shot some footage yesterday evening up at the fort.

Every week there is a work day for the men at the church, and Clay has been joining them since we arrived. It has been a good time for him to get to know the men and get some French practice in too.

It is fun for me to head up to the site and check out his hard work (and appreciate the fact that the ladies aren't expected to be there :)

Yesterday was an especially fun day as we got to visit the home of Jean-Francois and Isabel (remember them?). Clay helped some men work in JF's yard, and I got to hang out with Isabel and Caleb. It was awesome, ya'll. Being in a home, just hanging out with a friend is something I have missed. There was nothing fancy planned, and I just got to sit at the kitchen table, coo at Caleb, and chat with Isabel while she did normal household stuff. It was Caleb's second day of eating solid food so that was fun to be a part of. He is truly precious. And I got to practice so much French! Isabel is so kind and patient. It was an awesome day. I felt like I belonged.

Maybe that's what's changing here that is making me feel more content lately. Belonging. Belonging doesn't make one miss what they've left less, but it slowly begins filling up the hole that was made when they left it. Thank you, Jesus.


Yesterday was just an all around good day for us in Belgium. Possibly the best day we have had. At church, French was really clicking. The songs made sense, and we both agreed that the message was the easiest to understand yet. Blanca said later that she and Michael were watching us and laughing because we were paying such close attention to Daniel's words. I probably looked like I was about to fall out of my chair I was leaning so far forward, trying to catch every single syllable. Now, of course, I have to qualify that by saying that when I say things were "clicking" it by no means translates to "we understood everything." But it was still so encouraging to actually "get it" somewhat, you know?

We also got to have a good long conversation with Blanca after church whom we have missed so much (In Spanish, thank goodness! Oh how thankful I am for Spanish :) ! We haven't gotten to spend much time with Blanca, Michael, and Sofia since those first few weeks when we lived with them, and we had a lot to catch up on. It was so good to laugh, like really LAUGH, with someone. I am usually really quiet here, mainly because of the whole French thing, and also because of shyness, but in Blanca I have a friend and a language that I can speak. It felt really GOOD to relax and laugh!

We celebrated Daniel's birthday with a barbeque at his house after church, and it was the biggest blessing and encouragement. We got to flitter around and spend time with people we haven't seen in awhile, all the while pecking away at French. It felt like my tongue was loosened a bit yesterday, as I tried to speak more than I ever have. This was true encouragement from the Lord! I am sure I didn't make a whole lot of sense, but to be able to communicate on any level brings a certain freedom! :) Thank you, God!

I have always loved church potlucks and picnics, and this one was just as wonderful as the ones back home. It is so good to belong to this family here in Huy.

We walked home tired and a little overwhelmed by the day. God answered several prayers in a very real and big way yesterday. We thank him and praise him for it.