Asher-What’s in a name?

Asher turned 1 at the end of April and we had so much fun celebrating him.

Grandma, what is that strange noise you're trying to make?

Before Asher was born we thought he would be named Luke. Luke was honestly a name that we settled on becasue we felt like Asher was popping up everywhere. After he came and we held him for the first time Luke just didn’t feel right. He was an Asher. The name Asher actually means happy and blessed. What I love is how he has really grown into his name.

Just before he turned 3 months he started to smile.

And ever since then he has not stopped.

Asher makes us all a little happier. Whether it’s hearing him squeal with delight at the sight of Ian’s car at the 5:30 mark or saying Mama just when I need to hear it most, he fills us up with joy! He loves to pant like a puppy (learned that from the older ones playing puppy all the time), he loves to rub heads and faces with his brother and sister, climb up stairs, and plays with any ball that you throw his way. But what really has us all happy is his big decision to do this….

An Austrian talks about Austria

Our sweet friend Annemarie wrote this for us for our June newsletter. We loved it so much that we wanted to post it on our blog too. Hope you’ll enjoy reading her words on life in Austria and the need that exists for people to be aware of the way that has been made for them to have a relationship with their Heavenly Father. Happy Wednesday!

When people think of missionaries they tend to think of Africa, Asia, South America …far away places, “unreached people”. Missionaries to Austria almost seems a little funny. Austria is a beautiful, modern country with a rich history and lots & lots of churches. Most people born in Austria are Roman Catholic and they have the birth certificate that says so. There is no separation between church and state and being Catholic is part of most people’s tradition. The kids have religion in school & most of them go to church until they can decide for themselves.

The most unfortunate reality of Austria’s “religious system” is that it is a tradition, something we all do, part of who most of us are.

My name is Annemarie Livingston. I was born & raised in Oberndorf, Austria, a little town outside of Salzburg a city you may have heard of in Sound of Music. Oberndorf is actually famous in its own right as it is the place where “Silent Night” was written and first performed in 1818.
I had the privilege of growing up in a wonderfully idyllic town, where everybody knew everybody and life was lived at a slower pace. Most of my friends married somebody they went to elementary school with and still live within a few miles from where we all grew up. Growing up in Austria was a blessing. Life was slower & relationships deeper. I may have known less people but the people I knew, I really knew. We went to the butcher for our meat, to the baker for your bread and to the farmer for our milk. Apples & plums came from Opa’s garden. Family was close by and most big issues were discussed over a cup of coffee & cake. Austrians REALLY love their cake. I miss the cakes, the coffee, the fact that we don’t drink coffee we “have coffee” – it’s and event you know… I miss the slower pace, the mountains, the appreciation for nature and most of all my friends and family.

For the past ten years I have lived in Johns Creek Georgia with my husband Adam and our two girls Grace & Emily. We are members of Northpoint Community Church and I pray that one day Austrians will hear about Jesus the way we do at our church. I love Austria and so many things about it but I am very concerned for Austria’s future and for the future & beliefs of the next generation.

The catholic church missed the boat, their message – or better the way they present it – is no longer relevant. The churches are empty and people have grown weary of the church and its hypocrisy. Religion & church rules have gotten in the way of the truth.

Beth & Ian asked me if there was a message that I could give to Austrians what would it be. What would it be?

I would love for them to know that they can have a personal relationship with their heavenly Father and that salvation does not depend on our deeds and how “good” we are. The fact that Jesus died for our sins and that the only way to eternal salvation is through Him, seems like a strange concept to most of my friends & family as I am sure it does to most Austrians. Most own a Bible, few ever read it.

When I first heard about Ian and Beth and their heart for Austria I was in tears. Their mission is so very, very important. Nobody thinks of the need of missionaries for Austria and yet the need may be greater than in most other countries. The churches are empty, the people are skeptical, the message has been distorted and the misconceptions about salvation are many.

Mama came to my rescue

A few weeks ago, Ian traveled to Europe for a couple of weeks leaving me alone and destitute….ok that is a bit dramatic but I was on my own. Almost as soon as the trip was planned I began thinking through how I could get my mom’s help. At first I considered going to my parents, but this go round that was not an option. The next best thing was to bring Mama to me and I’m so glad that she came. My mom was an absolute gift during the week that she was here, both physically and emotionally. During our time together she laughed with me, cheered me on, encouraged me, prayed with me and gave me room to breathe when I needed it. It was so sweet indeed.

There were impromptu dance parties

Walks down the block

Discovering fireflies

Skype calls with my brother in South America

A day at the movies to see Kung Fu Panda 2

And my favorite, a night out on the town for the girls!

The week with my mom was a time I will always treasure! My absolute favorite site was seeing her sit each and every morning with her coffee and Bible…listening for wisdom from our sweet Savior. My life is blessed because of her….So incredibly blessed. Were it not for my parents and their lives of unquestioning obedience, I would not be where I am today.

Here’s a huge shout out to my mom for her unfailing love for me and her unconditional support for our family. And…thanks to my sister and dad who gave her up for a whole week to come help me out!