God is good, life is full….and I only seem to be able to get one post out every other year. However, God’s grace in the past couple of years has been amazing!
Here are a few glimpses of grace from the last 2 years:
In January 2014, my sister Cindy had surgery for breast cancer and began her journey of treatment which involved chemo and reconstruction. As of today, she is feeling stronger each day, no evidence of cancer, and we praise God for healing grace. One day after Cindy’s surgery, our brother-in-law, Steve, had surgery to replace a chunk of skull that doctors had to remove in Nov 2013 following a subduralhematoma. We praise God for sparing Steve’s life and for the remarkable recovery he has had! During that same time, my mom was diagnosed with osteomyelitis of the jaw, was on medication and waiting to see if she would need surgery. She has now gotten this word from her dentist: “Prayer works…You are a miracle…the bone looks great!”
In May ’14, Jacob graduated from Bethel, and later that year landed a great new job. Yay!
August 7, 2014 Avery Virginia was born! What a sweet, delightful gift of grace! We found out a few weeks later that Avery has cystic fibrosis, a hard diagnosis, but God’s grace is sustaining us all, as we look to Him, our Great Physician.
November 2014, I went to the Philippines to deliver gospel-film-producing equipment, Bibles and other resources to pastors, and to teach women how to study the Bible inductively.
In December 2014, we gathered as a family in Colorado the week before Christmas. We rented a house inWinter Park, on a dead end street, bordering a national forest…BEAUTIFUL!! One night at dinner, we went around the table and shared highlights and “lowlights” or challenges/hard stuff. What a special time, to laugh and cry together, thanking God for His goodness and grace even in the most difficult circumstances.
2015 highlights and lowlights:
- January- Avery had to have surgery to remove a mass in her sinuses, scary but resulted in much easier breathing and feeding.
- May- We finally closed on our house in Austin after 5 years of a roller coaster of “sold/not sold” and God showed us that this process was not about us but about trusting Him for what HE was doing in not only our lives, but lives of others that we met in the process.
- August- Avery turned 1! We are so thankful that God is sustaining and growing her, in spite of the rough patches.
- September- We sold and moved out of our Mounds View townhome (put everything in storage) … and were grateful to move in with Suzie and Steve for 2 months.
- October- Trip of a lifetime to Israel. Incredible, amazing privilege to walk where Jesus walked!
- November- We said a sad, final goodbye to Sammy, our beloved golden retriever. Oh, how much we miss him! Moved into our new home in Blaine and welcomed the whole family for Thanksgiving a week later.
- December- quickly unpacked some more boxes and got the house ready for a fantastic Christmas houseful! The Denver Larsons were in MN for about a week, and we packed in all kinds of fun family time.
2016 so far:
I have taken on a new full-time position at Bethlehem, Interim Director of Women’s Ministry, and praying for a smooth transition to 3 part-time, campus-specific Ministers for Women.
Benjamin turned 4!! He loves Legos, reading and attending their neighborhood school, Stedman.
Matt is working for Medtronic, in a new position that helps track their technology that is currently in use by providers. Ali has her own photography business that is flourishing.
Our “great-grand puppies” were born in January to David and Emma’s dog, Wilson. They will be keeping one puppy, and one, newly named “Dakota,” will be going to Denver to be a therapy dog for Avery as she goes through treatments each day.
David will be graduating from UND Medical School in May, and has just “matched” for a 5 year residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat.) Emma plans to keep teaching tennis and they are purchasing their first house.
Sara has stepped into a new job at 3M, at the same time finishing her Master of Science in Management of Technology. She graduates in May, and she and Dave are also purchasing their first house.
Jacob lives in Robbinsdale, helps lead youth at Eagle Brook Church and enjoys his work with Creek Ridge Capital. He and Sara ran the Twin Cities marathon together last Fall.
In addition to the wonderful news of our first grandson on the way, here is what is going on in the lives of the rest of our kids:
JACOB had an incredible summer of ministry at Camp Shamineau, coming home last week with many wonderful memories and stories of God at work in the lives of the boys he counseled. A special joy was to have Korey in his cabin group one week. Korey is the younger brother of Karl, Jacob’s best friend who died of cancer in 1997. Jacob will return to Bethel this week.
SARA graduated from Bethel University in May, moved home with us in June and began a job search. When 3M offered her a full-time job, she put the pursuit of the MA on hold for the time being. Wedding planning is just one of the fun activities we have together! DAVE is heading back to Virginia for his last year of law school, and they are making decisions on where they will live after the wedding in June next year.
EMMA completed her Masters in May and is joining the Tennis Coaching Staff at UND, along with her teaching and coaching at the club and working as a manager at Starbucks. WILSON, their lab, is super-excited for the hunting season.
Along with May flowers, we have all kinds of celebrations happening in our family!
JACOB is finishing his first year at Bethel, wrapping up the studies and choir, and is looking forward to being a camp counselor this summer at Camp Shamineau, near Motley, MN.
SARA is busy applying for jobs, interviewing, finishing her senior thesis, and studying for finals. Her last Bethel Choir concert is tonight at 7:30pm in Benson Great Hall. It has been such a joy to have both Sara and Jacob singing together under the leadership of Dr. Dennis Port. While there will be tears of sadness tonight, we look forward to many more wonderful concerts! On Monday, May 9 at 8:00 pm, Sara will have her Senior Voice Recital in Benson Great Hall. We would love to have as many family and friends there as possible! Baccaaureate is May 20th and Commencement will be May 21st at 4:00 pm. Sara is graduating with two majors: Biochemistry/Molecular Biology (B.S.) and Chemistry (B.A.). In addition, she has already begun her Master of Arts in Teaching through Bethel University College of Adult and Professional Studies.
DAVID is waiting to hear from medicals schools and working full-time at Cabelas. He is gearing up to host a party for…
EMMA is graduating from UND with her Masters on May 14th! She has had a very busy year of research, writing, teaching at UND, working at Starbucks and teaching tennis. We are planning to drive up to Grand Forks for the celebration on Sunday, May 15th. David and Emma will celebrate 3 years of marriage in July!
MATT continues his work at Medtronic, leading worship at their church and playing in a few bands, but the BIG news is that MAY 30th, Memorial Day, is the JEOPARDY! show…be sure to watch that day, wherever you are!
ALI is working on obtaining her Master in Teaching, and has just received word she will be student teaching in Denver Public Schools, just a few blocks from their house. Matt and Ali recently celebrated their 2nd wedding anniversary and are planning a trip to Minnesota in June.
BARRY is getting used to his new job, still misses patients and aspects of the old job, but more time to be home has been wonderful! PAM is loving her new part-time job as Ministry Assistant for Women’s Ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church and continues her volunteer roles in Vernacular Video Mission International.
We had a fox family move in across the street, and you can view video here.
2010 has been an event-FULL year for our family and we are grateful to God for His grace and mercy in all that has transpired! We began 2010 with a mission trip to the Philippines that was amazing for Barry, Jacob and I. Shortly after returning, we announced our plans to leave Austin for the Twin Cities. Barry had accepted a position with Geriatric Services of MN, where he is now caring for the frailest of the elderly in settings where they need to be seen: long & short term care facilities on the north and west sides of Mpls. We began our move to Mounds View in May, Barry started working in June and I bounced back and forth for a few weeks, and then settled in July.
Jacob (18) ran the 4 X 800m in the State track meet (his relay team crushed the AHS records!) and graduated from AHS in June. He worked all summer at the municipal pool in Austin, saving up for Bethel University, where he is now a freshman. He is loving college, especially singing in the Bethel Choir. Festival of Christmas was fabulous!
Sara (21) is newly engaged (12-19-10) to be married to Dave Merritt! (son of Bob and Laurie) The date will be announced sometime later. Sara is a senior at Bethel double-majoring in Chemistry/Biochemistry, is a TA and alto section leader for the Bethel Choir. Dave is in his 2nd year of law school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and is planning to start his career with Faegre & Benson in Mpls.
David and Emma live in Grand Forks, ND with Wilson, their yellow lab. David (23) works full time for Cabela’s and is applying to medical school. He and Wilson love to hunt together! Emma (23) is teaching an undergraduate class at UND and working on her Master’s thesis, in addition to teaching/coaching tennis and supervising at Starbucks.
Matt and Ali live in Denver, CO with Lincoln, their “little stinker”! Matt (27) is employed by Medtronic in the neuroscience division and leads worship at Denver Community Church (DCC) around once a month. He also plays with Ali’s dad, Chip, in a band. Ali (29) resigned from her job in mid-2010 to begin a Masters degree in Education. It is quite a change for her, but she is loving the learning and the challenge. Ali will turn 30 on Dec 25!!
We are LOVING being closer to our family in the Twin Cities, but miss our dear friends in Austin! We think visitors are fantastic, so please plan to come see us!
If you comment and leave your email, I will send you our new address.
The Austin boys track team has had an incredible season! I’ve been so busy with getting a house on the market, buying a new house, planning a graduation party and attending track meets that I have not had time to update this blog in a LONG time…sorry. The guys have been working hard and training diligently, and that effort has paid huge dividends, as they have advance to the True Team State Meet AND three relays qualified for State. Jacob’s 4 X 800m relay posted a 25-year-record-smashing time at the Section meet in Lakeville to advance to State, and at the State meet they broke their own record by another 3 seconds!! They took third place in State, but the top 5 finishers were within 1 second, so it could hardly have been a closer race! Here are some links to some articles in the local papers on the team’s accomplishments:
ROSEVILLE — Friday night’s quarterfinals round wasn’t too kind to the two Big Nine Conference boys soccer teams remaining in the Class A state tournament.
In the opening game of the bracket, Hermantown beat Mankato West by a 5-1 score at the Roseville Area High School Stadium.
The Austin Packers put forth a much closer battle in the late game of the state quarterfinals against the Simley Spartans. The second-seeded Spartans had more shots throughout the night, but the Packers defense kept it close.
In the end, the Spartans broke a 1-1 tie with a goal in the final minute to get the tournament win. The winning goal came with 59 seconds left in regulation.
Senior forward Oja Ena of Simley dribbled through the defense and banged a shot past Austin goalie Ryan Rasell for the 2-1 win. The last-second victory gave the Spartans a trip to the state semifinals.
The Spartans took the early lead in this game with a goal midway through the first half by Ben Royce. The first goal of the night came on a penalty kick in the 22nd minute.
“They had most of the offense and controlled the play in the first half, then we controlled the flow in the second half,” Austin coach Jens Levisen said. “It was a matter of who had the wind. The weather was that much of a factor. The guys would kick the ball in the air and you could see a wall where the wind knocked it down.”
Only the stellar efforts of Rasell and the Packers defense kept the contest this close in the first half. The Spartans came out firing and had a few close-in shots during the opening 20 minutes of the game.
Rasell, as he has been all season, was up to the task in the Packers net. He turned away most of the attempts by the Spartans, and finished with three saves on the night.
“Making it to state is a big step for the program,” Levisen said. “We were right in there and the defense played great. We showed everybody that we belonged in the state tourney.”
The Packers offense struggled to find its rhythm in the first half as the biting wind made it tough to aim shots. The Austin boys got things rolling in the second half and created some pressure on the Simley net. The Packers finished with four shots-on-goal.
Throughout the season, whenever the Packers have needed a big play they’ve turned to senior midfielder Jacob Brehmer. Once again, Brehmer delivered when his team needed a lift.
Defense held sway for both teams during the initial 30-plus minutes of the second half. The Packers offense then got it in close and the Spartans defense couldn’t prevent a shot from Brehmer. The Spartans interfered with the Packers shooter inside the crease and he got a free look.
Brehmer scored late in the second half to get the Packers back to a tie game. Brehmer scored off a penalty kick with five-and-a-half minutes left in the second half.
It would then be a defensive struggle to the bitter end in the driving rain. The clock wound down and it looked like overtime might be the next step, but the Spartans instead scored the decisive goal.
“The guy hit a shot with a minute left, and they’re seeded No. 2 for a reason,” Levisen concluded. “Our guys gave me everything they had and it was tough to see the season come to an end. But the only way you go out with a win is to win them all at state.”
Austin finished the season with a 14-6 overall record. This was the first ever trip to the state tournament for the Packers.
Simley (18-1-4) next plays third-seeded Hermantown (20-1) in Monday’s Class A semifinals at 2 p.m. Top-seeded Totino-Grace (18-3) plays unseeded Mahtomedi (15-3-3) in the early game of the semifinals at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Simley 2, Austin 1: Simley, in the first half, and Austin, in the second, traded dictation of the pace of play, momentum bursts and successful penalty kicks.
After that back-and-forth affair, it all came down to a last-minute desperation shot — literally.
Just when officials in the Roseville High School press box were discussing overtime procedures, Spartans forward Oja Ena had the ball drop in his direction from 18 yards out. In one motion, Ena turned to his left and booted the ball toward the Packers net. The shot went in with 58.8 seconds remaining, capping a wild regulation victory for the second-seeded Spartans (18-1-4).
Simley’s Ben Royce and Austin’s Jacob Brehmer connected on their respective penalty shot tries.
Austin finishes the season 14-6.
Austin used an unassisted goal from Rolando Rubio in the first half, and an unassisted one from Jacob Brehmer in the second to glide past the top-seeded Eagles 2-0 Saturday in the Section One, Class A championship at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium.
The No. 2 seeded Packers also used excellent play by its midfield, as well as by goalie Ryan Rasell to get it done. Austin takes a 14-11 record into the state event.
Lourdes, which was looking to get to state for the ninth time in the last 13 years, finished 14-5-2.
Lourdes fell despite outshooting Austin 14-11. However, Austin easily had more quality shots, including one that caromed off the cross-bar in the first half.
“Nothing that Austin did surprised us,” Lourdes coach Tom Kane said. “We knew they were a good team and that they had their sights on us all year.”
The Byron Bears, seeded third, were tied with the second-seeded Packers at halftime of this Class A, Section One semifinals game at Art Hass Stadium. The second half belonged to the Austin boys with a flurry of goals in the final minutes to secure a 4-1 win and a trip to the title round.
It was a perfect night for the Packers final home game of the season. The weather was mild and more importantly there were no other sports activities on the schedule, so the student section was packed. The boys on the field gave their fans in the stands plenty to cheer about with the biggest win in team history.
“Making it to the section finals is a big thing for our program; I’ve had e-mails all week from former players wishing us well,” Austin coach Jens Levisen said. “We controlled the ball and the offense came through in the second half. The defense was prepared for Byron, and they did a good job of limiting the shot opportunities.”
Spurred on by the boisterous crowd, the Packers came out firing right away in the first half. Jacob Brehmer of the Packers got open in front at just 10 minutes into the game, but his shot was blocked by Bears goalie Brock Anderson.
A short time later, Anderson had another save on a shot from the side by Francisco Torres. The pressure from the Packers never ceased as they put up 28 shots-on-goal for the night. Torres also had a penalty kick late in the first half that was knocked away, but the Packers had set the tone with their attacking offense.
Despite the Packers pressure, it was the Bears who scored the first goal. Ryan Baumbach took a crossing pass from Matt Thorpe and slipped it by Austin goalie Ryan Rasell. Byron had a 1-0 lead with 14 minutes left in the first half.
Less than two minutes later, the Packers answered with the first of two goals on the night from Martin Manocchio. Jacob Larson directed the pass to Manocchio, who tied the game with 12:35 left in the first half.
From this point on, it was only a matter of when the offense would break it open as the Austin defense didn’t let the Byron offense anywhere near the net. Still, it stayed tied well into the second half.
Pack take control
Rasell faced a few shots in the first half, but only needed four saves for the win. Just to keep the crowd entertained, Rasell ranged out from the net a few times to knock the Byron players off the ball. His high return kicks made sure the action stayed on the other end of the field.
“They got an open shot in the first half, but after that the defenders kept the ball away from me,” Rasell said. “The defense was amazing and it gave me the chance to watch our offense work at the other end. This is an incredible feeling to be going to the section finals.”
Throughout the initial stages of the second half, the efforts of Rasell and his defense were needed to keep the game tied. The Packers kept applying the pressure, but no more goals came until the clock ticked inside 17 minutes to play. When the Packers need a big play, they turn to Brehmer.
Beating the Byron defense, Manocchio laid down a nice pass to Brehmer in front of the net. This time there would be no block from the Byron goalie and Brehmer punched it past him. The goal by Brehmer sent the fans into a frenzy and the Packers were on top to stay with 16:29 to play.
“Marty gave me a nice pass and I had missed on some earlier chances, so I wanted to get off a good shot,” Brehmer said. “I placed it in the corner of the net and it was good to get that go-ahead goal. Everybody went crazy and our crowd was great.
“Our friends were all here from school and we wanted to give them a good show. The crowd was like a 12th man and they helped us play our best soccer of the season.”
Down the stretch, the Packers poured it on with a couple of more goals. Pedro Herrera nearly added to the lead when his shot hit the crossbar inside the final 10 minutes. This merely heightened the excitement for a wild finish.
Alex Klock provided the insurance goal inside the last five minutes. Showing off his defensive skills, Klock stole an in-bounds pass and took the ball down the sidelines. He made a quick cut to the net and fired it home for a 3-1 lead. Manocchio then capped the second half barrage with a goal at the 1:03 mark for the final margin of victory.
“We missed our first penalty kick of the season in the first half, but I’m glad we had to work for our goals and there was no question about the way we finished this game off,” Levisen said. “We were in control and that goal by Alex just sealed it. The guys kept attacking and we didn’t want to drop back to give them any shots. The players are pumped and it’s exciting to be headed for the section finals.”
Austin (13-5) plays top-seeded Rochester Lourdes for the Section 1A championship on Friday at 5 p.m. at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium.