Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Jesus Christ the Lord is King" {Words by Pastor Flack, Music by Alan Gerling}






Jesus Christ the Lord is King
Pastor Bob Flack & Alan Gerling

We have come to worship One
Mary's baby, God the Son
Alien among His own
Heaven's King without a throne.

In our hands are gifts in kind
Treasures of strength, of heart and mind
Each surrendered joyfully
Love received, unhindered, free.

Race the news to every place
Call the nations to His grace
Worshipers once rebels sing,
'Jesus Christ the Lord is King!
Jesus Christ the Lord is King!'

God the Spirit giving sight
Opening eyes revealing Light
Leads from death our chosen hell
Freedom! Pardon! All is well.

God His Word cannot deny
We reject false Herod's lie
Temp'ral palaces will fail
Jesus, Sov'reign must prevail.

Race the news to every place
Call the nations to His grace
Worshipers once rebels sing,
'Jesus Christ the Lord is King!
Jesus Christ the Lord is King!'

King to every other king
Ruler, Lord of everything
Fill your fold, secure your prize
Jesus, Saviour, Shepherd wise.

Race the news to every place
Call the nations to His grace
Worshipers once rebels sing,
'Jesus Christ the Lord is King!
Jesus Christ the Lord is King!'







A Very Gerling Christmas!

Our Christmas on the Prairie 2010

...my attempt at sewing Isaac a blanket flopped, so I redeemed myself with the 
making of a new phone cover :)

On Christmas Eve Isaac helped Mommy cook all day, and played with his Nativity. The best part of all is that on Christmas Eve morning we received a package from Grandpa Gene & Grandma Rita: The Baby Jesus!!! We had left Him back in Iowa, but He arrived just in time to be placed in the stable with Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve!!!

We realllllllly wanted to help mommy cook, so mommy let us try some dessert she was making. YUM!

I put Isaac's presents out after his nap, thinking he wouldn't even notice them. After his snack time I put him down and started cleaning his tray, then found the little culprit opening his gifts!!! We had to hide them in our room the rest of the night.

Our Christmas Eve dinner before church. Even Isaac got to eat off Mommy's China :)

Daddy's beautiful Christmas Eve service. Isaac and Mommy helped decorate the sanctuary with Mrs. Linda on Thursday morning. Isaac helped Daddy put candles in the candleabrashoweveritisspelled.

Christmas Morning!!!!! Grandma Sherry Skyped us to watch us open our gifts. 
Isaac wanted NOTHING to do with his gifts!...

...he wanted to play with his rhythm station instead.

Eventually we returned our interest to the presents...

...Yay!!! Puffs!!! He didn't put them down at all until he finally convinced Mommy to open them.

Look at that face!

Mommy's pretty table decoration. Since we didn't have snow, she created some!!

You can't see them here, but Christmas morning we woke up to about 4 dozen crows dancing on our roof and pecking at the windows. So annoying!!! It woke up Alan and I, but not Isaac-he slept till 9!

Then we dove into Mommy's fresh cinnamon rolls. 

MMMmmmmmmm!!! So Good!!!

Another highlight was reading the Christmas Story to Isaac before bed (and we skyped Grandma Sherry in too!), but the little guy was into all his toys, so Mommy didn't get a good picture. Another gift was listening to daddy's song on Christmas Eve that he and Pastor Flack wrote, but I'll put that in its own post ;)

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!

The 2010 Gerling Christmas Letter

Considering that I tried my best to get all of our Christmas letters out a few weeks ago, but know that I either missed someone, didn't have the right address, or any address for that matter, 
I wanted to be sure that if you didn't receive one, that you can still read it here :)


Merry Christmas! I hope this Christmas season brings you
warmth and joy as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ!

Well, here I am writing the Gerling Christmas Letter Vol. 3. I began this Christmas letter writing as a simple challenge to attempt to do what my grandmother always did this time of year which was send out a letter to family and friends updating them on the past year. I thought it would be a one year attempt, and yet here I am writing the 3rd edition. I’ve realized that my simple challenge has become a joy to do each year, and I
secretly look forward to writing it, printing it, running out of ink, running to the store for more ink mid-project, licking every envelope because I’ve forgotten to buy the ‘peel and seal’ kind, and sending Alan out for yet another roll of stamps because I simply hate math and never seem to know just how many stamps come in a book, thus I am always left needing more.

Another secret joy of the Christmas season for me is putting up the Christmas tree early, stringing white lights everywhere, baking sugar cookies with Alan and curling up on a cold winter’s night to watch White Christmas and Polar Express. My Christmas letters usually reflect this, with opening lines like, “I sit here quietly watching the snowflakes gentle fall toward earth while sipping my hot mocha and reflecting on this Christmas season...,” but this year is different: I am a mom. To a one-year-old! The extent of my Christmas decorations at the moment consist of snowflake window clings for Isaac and his Little People Nativity
playset, which at the moment is missing the Baby Jesus whom we lost somewhere back in Iowa at
Thanksgiving, {Christmas without Jesus...hmm...I sense a devotional in there somewhere}, and the only chance at life that this letter has is that Isaac’s nap lasts long enough for me to write it!

But if you asked me, I don’t mind that I’ve missed out or am behind on some of my usually Christmas
traditions because we are blessed to have that little guy in our lives, and are soaking up every minute of him. I can hardly believe he is one already, and am so thankful for the joy he has brought to us when he joined us last year. Though he is not walking just yet, he is very close, and we believe it will happen by Christmas! With that said, we’re a bit nervous about putting up a Christmas tree for fear that little hands might try to pull themselves up on it, and thus end up with a tree upon them!

Each Christmas seasons causes me to reflect on things and people I hold most dear, but it also reminds me of the things I am most thankful for, and among the ways we have been blessed this year would be Alan’s
position at Grace {we truly love serving there!}, the Lord’s provision for a fall filled with photosessions for me {I’ve had the joy of photographing some truly amazing families this year!}, the many new friendships we have made this year, and the realization that we are not, nor ever will be, perfect parents, but by the grace of God we will hopefully continue to figure out this parenthood stuff.

My tree may not yet be up, the advent candle not yet on the table and the cookies not yet decorated, but I
am still filled with the warmth this season brings, the joy of celebrating Christ’s birth, the memories of
Christmases past,  and the love of family and friends both near and far.  I pray your hearts may be filled
with the same wawrmth, and that your Christmas be merry and bright.


With love,
The Gerlings

Labor of Love

A friend posted this on facebook, and I truly loved the lyrics. I realize it's the day after Christmas, but I still had to post this...



Labor of Love
by Andrew Peterson


It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love


Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Gift

Today I had the chance to get out of the house and do a little pre-Christmas grocery shopping and get a few gifts for Isaac. First of all, this wouldn't have been nearly as possible without the generous gift that we found in our box at church today, so whoever you are, we greatly and dearly thank you for your kindness to us. 

I actually liked being in the hustle and bustle of the crowds today, but I think it's only because, being a stay-at-home mommy and wife, I've barely been out of the house this week, and this was my first official Christmas season shopping endeavor...er, adventure?...to date, so I was not overwhelmed with all the people and chaos. 

True to any Christmas scenario, the sound system at HyVee blasted the sounds of the season as shoppers fought for the $1.89/lb hamburger that was being stocked on the shelf {...and I was one of them!!}. But it was somewhat charming, the old-school feeling of shopping so near to the Christmas deadline.  And I think I discovered the best store ever today: The Dollar Tree, where EVERYTHING is $1. Why have I not discovered this yet?!? Originally we weren't going to do a stocking gift for me because my gift this year from Alan is getting the piano tuned {himself! He bought a little kit earlier this season and has been working off and on on it!! I'm so excited to not have to sit through piano lessons of an untuned kind!!!}, but when I saw the kitchen section of The Dollar Tree, I decided to gift myself a stocking which will include a mini cutting board (always wanted that!), and new pot holder, my first ever pie server, new set of spatulas {so that my broken one doesn't keep breaking off in the cookie dough}, and a new whisk all for the low and beautiful price of $5. I warned Alan so that when he sees me opening it on Christmas morning {yes, I'm going to wait and actually put it in my stocking}, that he can take full credit for it :).

But I still say that there's no earthly gift that can give happiness, joy or excitement this side of Heaven at Christmas more than the gift of Jesus. 

Tonight I was reading the blog of some missionaries from our old church back in Iowa that are now serving in Papua New Guinea and have been there since  around 2006. They have gone through training with New Tribes Mission and have been living with the Akolet Tribe, learning their culture and language for the past four years, and now are preparing to start doing Bible Teaching in the Akolet language for the first time IN HISTORY. The Bible has never before been translated into this language, and soon it will be taught to these people. 

{Julie and one of the women of the tribe reading the first Akolet literacy primer}

{Adam & Julie Martin (right side) and their co-workers Ryan & Nicki Coleman and their children}

I've been praying for them since they left in 2006, and have recently been keeping up with them on their blog, and have chills tonight with excitement for what is to come. Their teachings will begin on Jaunary 4th, 2011, and it is their prayer that the Akolet people would come hear them teach, that God would continue to help them with translations, and that the Gospel would be heard and the Truth clearly presented. 

I do not have enough room here to explain the ways God is working in them, so I would encourage you to go check out their blog at http://www.martinpng.com/2005/05/about-papua-new-guinea.html and read the latest 3 posts which explain how this translation as been coming together and the excitement that goes with preparing to share it with the people of the bush (as they call home).

I think this is an amazing belated Christmas gift-that the Martins, along with their team, will soon be presenting the Gospel in the Akolet language to the Akolet people. Christ was born over 2,000 years ago, yet He is still alive and the Good News is still being spread! This year, when we sing Go Tell it on the Mountain, I'll be thinking of the Martins sharing the great news of the Gospel in the bush of Papua New Guinea. 

**If you feel led, please either re-post this to your blog or leave a link to their website so that others can be praying for the Martin's and the people of the Akolet tribe. 

"Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Working

I've been struggling a lot lately with joy and contentment, in church especially, but in all areas of my life-with finances, with time, with schedules, etc. I've also been struggling with it in terms of relationships, in which to invest more time in, in evaluating where I'm at in friendships and what my heart's motive is in them, and I'm realizing that I am extremely (almost to an unhealthy extent) inward motivated to just the comfortable realtionships I have with others and not driven to meet new people or engage with new people because it makes me uncomfortable.


I met with an amazing young woman this morning who shared her testimony with me, and the ins and outs of what it's been like to find God, lose Him (or so she thought), seek Him, and find Him again, and harder than ever this time. It was amazing to hear the path He led her on to really thirst and truly find Him. It was encouraging to say the least. 


I was and am excited to hear how she has now begun helping other young women her age-she makes it a point to invest in them and to listen to these women and encourage them. She's also made it a point to get involved in her church and in future church plants, and emphasized what it's like to break out of the four walls of her church and submerse herself in community and in others beyond just sitting in front of a pulpit. 


This has been a theme laying gently on my heart lately: breaking out of the walls of church and getting the Gospel out into the community. I was shocked today to hear of how many athiests this young woman has talked to, and their saddened about their view on Christians in general. But even more, I was saddened that all of my {free?} time has been spent surrounded with friendships within the church and none outside of church. I have a few friendships still with ladies from Curves and such, but overall, my friendships and relationships are all with people from the church, and I know that I am not making an effort to love on these people. 


I feel like lately God has been laying it on my heart to break beyond (not out of, but beyond) these relationships and seek to serve Him in the community. I feel like He's challenging me to get out of my comfort zone and away from comfortable relationships to the more uncomfortable. This comes back again to the quote my friend recently said about how she, "...wants to be the woman that befriends a girl who is pregnant out of wed-lock and give her hope...wants to be the girl that's there for the other girls who is caught up in drugs and befriend her..." 


After talking with my accountability group about prayer requests a couple of weeks ago, and asking them to pray for ways that I can see God working in this-meaning I only know He's laying it on my heart to get out into the community or serve somehow outside my tight little comfort zone-I can already begin to say that I think He's leading me to possibly engage in discipling or somehow work with young woman. I don't know if that means be a youth group leader again, if that means start a weekly something-or-other with Grace Baptist college girls, if that means volunteer at the Life Choice Ministry Pregnancy and Testing center or to open my home once a month to college girls...but what I am noticing is that I have a heart for young woman in high school and college, and have realized this is not the first time that I've felt this tug at my heart to work with them in some capacity. 


What I do know is that I was blessed to get to share a morning with an amazing woman who has really let the Lord do a good work in her, and has greatly encouraged me today, and helped me to understand a bit more of where God might be leading me in serving either outside my comfort zone at church, or serving outside the walls of my church and into the community. 

Lord, I don't know where You're leading me, but I will follow. I don't know what You're working, but I'm feeling You guiding me. I don't know how You'll use me, but am excited for the journey of serving You. And in that I find joy. Please continue to guide my heart toward Yours. Amen.

A Lesson in Mommyhood: Christmas Doesn't Have To Be Perfect

I've put a lot of pressure on myself lately. I told myself that because we'd be home by ourselves this Christmas that I'd soak it up and do things I {thought} I love to do, like sew while watching The Sound of Music. We're tight on money for gifts this year, so I thought I'd be productive and penny-pinch and make Isaac a fun little alphabet blanket with my {new-ish} sewing machine {that I got last year for Christmas from my mom and haven't had time to touch!} with the fabric I got last summer that I {gasp!} haven't had time to do anything with.

I set out at 9pm on Monday night to sew this lovely whimsical turquoise blue and brown alphabet blanket. I was excited, envisioning me sitting with him in the future and practicing our A-B-C's together. Lovely mommy images came to mind of a cuddly and cozy preschooler memorizing his letters...

And then about half way through cutting out each "whimsical" letter free-hand and cursing in my mind at how long it was taking, I kept repeating to myself "almost done, almost done, almost done," and was thrilled when that darn Z was finally cut out. The next step was to sew the letters "whimsically" onto the first piece of fabric for the one side. Ha. Good luck! I kept messing up the stitching {this of course was after all that time Alan spent setting up and bobbing the bobbin (is that the right lingo??) for nearly 40min. I finally decided forget the A-B-C theme and just make the blanket already-plain and simple.

You'd think that's where it gets easy, but unfortunately, I, in my creative 12:00am mood, decided to add the quilted diagonal stitches to liven up my boring blanket. Let's just say that at midnight, lines aren't exactly straight no matter how much you try! They didn't look too bad, but upon close inspection, one would think this was a Jr. High Home-Ec project. At 2:30am I gave up and went to bed for the night after my bobbin got jammed.

{TANGENT: I didn't know there was an eclipse last night!!! Or that going to bed so late, I could have actually witnessed it!!!}

Low and behold, I had enough gumption tonight at 11pm to continue on my crazy task at hand: the blanket. I picked up where I left off last night, fixed the bobbin and finished the diagonal stitching. Then for the edging...well, it's got edges, but...I wouldn't say they are what most blankets look like. I wanted to put satin ribbon on the edges like the popular taggies. And it worked! Until I realized {now at 1am} that I was out of ribbon and can't afford to go buy more for one edge of this darn "quilt".

As I sat there, surrounded by thread, scissors, scraps of fabric, wanting to cry, and hoping that the pins I lost off the table don't get found by the kid later, and I realized that I had put this pressure on myself to make this awesome home-made gift in time for Christmas, and for that reason rushed it, and thus ended up with a somewhat-usable blanket with one edge left to be finished.

So why did I push myself these last couple of nights till 2am? I guess as Isaac's first real Christmas {let's face it, this one he'll have more fun with than last year when he was 2 weeks old} and I want to make it special. His cake flopped for his birthday, and we're without family for Christmas, so as a Mommy, I want to make it special and I thought something home-made would be special for him.

The blanket {might} get finished {someday}, but for the time being, it'll wait till either another Christmas or another kid. I don't have the time, money, or patience to finish it in time for Christmas this year. It was a good effort, and my heart was in it, but it just didn't come together like I liked. But at least now that I've come to admit that it won't be a gift this year, I can spend the next couple of days till Christmas not worried about getting it done and just enjoy the last bits of this, my favorite season.

Being a mom is about making and learning from mistakes, that I've learned already this year, but I thought majority of them would have been with parenting than with sewing and cake decorating ;)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"A Social Network Christmas" {aka What if Facebook was around 2,000 years ago?}

A friend posted this on her blog and I found it...well...poignant, funny and interesting. Made me think of how our culture today would embrace the Lord working His ways in our world when Heaven met earth that night.

Convicted: Santa

I hate moments like this. Moments when I'm being humbled or realized that I may have been wrong. You have to admit, we all have these moments, and mine, right now, is with Santa.


I was sitting here, in the five minutes of awkward silence listening to see if Isaac really went down for his nap or if he's still playing in there, and was adding other blogs to my blog roll, which I stopped to read one of the recent posts on a funny blog called "Stuff Christians Like" { http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/12/the-santa-problem/#more-4154} titled The Santa Problem.


Now then, before I go on, you really, really have to go read his post first to understand where I'm coming from and where he's coming from. ...No really, go on, go read it first...


Ok, so I know that you're saying, "But I only have 5 minutes of peace and I'm going to trust that you'll just fill me in." And you're right.


I can't say it better than him, so I'm going to paste a bit of his blog here:


...The first is that in no other aspect of imagination do we put the same constraint [he's talking about Santa and Christmas]. For instance, for a solid year, I’m pretty sure my kids thought the Wiggles and the Doodlebops were real. They watched their shows, they sang their songs, they loved those brightly colored/oddly terrifying characters. And not once did my wife and I say, “When they find out Captain FeatherSword isn’t real, they probably won’t believe in an all powerful God later on in life.” Sure, the Wiggles are different than Santa and we imbue a lot of “belief” language around him, but we only talk about him for six weeks a year. We wiggled for a solid year and discussed the Wiggles far more than we do Santa in an average Christmas season...
...Kids are imaginative, that’s what they do. If I play along with their American Girl Dolls or take my oldest daughter to a Narnia film and she really believes it, I’m not afraid that I’ve effectively prevented her from believing in God. We’d never say, “I’m not taking my son to see Lord of the Rings, because if he ever finds out Gandalf is not real, he won’t believe in God.” We might rail against Harry Potter, but even that is not because we’re afraid if they find out Harry Potter is not real our kids won’t believe in God...
...No one says that. And we’re also not seeing the damage of a generation who grew up believing Santa was real only to learn he’s not. By that I mean there aren’t any books for adults designed to help you get over your Santa problems. Zondervan hasn’t published “Get the man in red out of your head.” Thomas Nelson has not published “Empty stocking, full heart.” Lifeway is not doing a ladies conference called “Deeper Still Than Santa.” There’s not an industry to support the thousands and thousands of 30 year olds struggling with Santa Claus, because there are not thousands and thousands out there who do.
Now clearly this will be the moment I hear from the 17 people on the planet who have in fact confessed to a Christian counselor that Santa Claus shotblocked God for them, but I still think we’ve blown the problem with Santa out of proportion. I think most folks will say that the Santa vs. God thing isn’t an issue, but instead that they don’t want to “lie” to their kids. I understand that point and know that some kids have said “you lied to me mom and dad,” but we also have to be careful that we don’t miss out on the word “pretend.” I’d never say to my kids, “I don’t want to create a house of lies. I need to be honest with you and confess that My Little Pony is simply a lump of hard plastic not a real pony, when I did that magic trick and took your nose, I really didn’t take it, and I always know the end of your knock knock jokes but have been living a lie by acting like I didn’t all these years. To be perfectly honest with you, ‘Knock, knock, who’s there, a tornado of spanking’ is not that funny. I fake laughed. I hate to say that, but I refuse to lie to you kids.”
I think every parent needs to be deliberate and smart about how they handle Santa and Christmas in general, but lets not throw him under the God bus. Don’t talk about him for a million other reasons, but I’m not sure the God reason is the best one.


I have to admit that I was one of the people who was saying, "Why would we teach our kids to believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny who aren't real, then turn around and expect them to believe in God, who is real?" Yep, that was me up until about ten minutes ago. But this guy had a really, really good point: Kids have imaginations and playing pretend is important to their creativity and development, and this is just another form of that. We don't expect our children to believe in their My Little Pony doll, and yet we let them play pretend with that, right? 


I still say that Santa is too hyped up this time of year and overshadows the true meaning, which is the birth of Jesus Christ. And for that reason, we will still be raising our children to know and celebrate that fact more than Santa {notice I did not say instead of Santa}. But I have lessened my views on the Santa thing I think. Please don't get me wrong, I was never a "run and tell everyone that Santa doesn't exist!" kind of person, but rather just wasn't going to focus so much on the chubby red dude. We will still choose to do Three Wisemen Gifts on Christmas morning (a gift for body, one for mind, and one for spirit that are a surprise on Christmas morning, much like the surprise of Santa gifts), but only because we want the emphasis on that day to be on our Lord. If Isaac ever wants to sit on Santa's lap and have his picture taken, then that's fine with me. If he asks who Santa is someday, then we'll explain who Saint Nicholas was, and how through the years Santa came to be. We won't run and tell your kids Santa doesn't exist, talk Santa down, or belittle anyone who does do Santa each year. It's your personal choice and one to be respected, and we know that it is a magical time of year with excitement and imagination for little ones...and old ones alike :). We're just choosing to keep the focus of our Christmas season on the dude who bled red for us instead of the dude who wears red on Christmas Eve.  But who knows, perhaps some year our little guy will wake us up and tell us he just heard reindeer on the rooftops! And if he does, we'll soak in the enjoyment of seeing our little guy's imagination grow bright before us :).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Kansas Christmas

This year Christmas will be bittersweet as it is the first Christmas that we will not have family in or near on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. While part of me is very sad because Christmas Eve with my family is my favorite tradition of all, and I will miss it greatly, I am also excited to start new Christmas traditions with our little family of 3.

With that in mind, I'm curious-what are some of your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions/activities? I'd love to hear them and possibly steal them for our family!

Constantly Challenged on this Topic

Facebook.

To book, or not to book: that is my question.

Today I read the status update of Audrey Assad (I'm a fan of hers on facebook-she's the one that wrote "Winter Snow" that I love so much), and her status read, "Goodbye Facebook...till Christmas at least. Ready to spend the last week of Advent in quiet...and waiting."

I loved the thought she had to really spend time meditating this week on Advent. I've been so rushed and busy with piano lessons and photography, doctor appointments and holiday events that I feel like these last three weeks have literally been a blur, and this is my favorite season! I have barely had a chance to just let...it...sink...in.

But at what cost? Why am I even on Facebook? I've been in a pro-con list mood lately, which is actually a bad habit because I then rely on my outcome list instead of on prayer with Him on the subject of whatever I'm torn on, but in this case I was curious:

Pros for Facebook:
*I can connect with family and friends back home.
*I can keep up-to-date on what's going on with family and friends, like knowing who finished finals up, who stayed up too late, and who is regretting purchasing a printer for lack of being able to print envelopes.
*I can see posts from other moms and know that I am not alone in my pile of laundry, my dirty dishes, and my fussy child.
*I can encourage others with positive status updates, post links to online sermons, music, or blog posts.
*I can share links to my favorite Christmas songs :)
*....um...I'm sure I'll think of another one!

Cons for Facebook:
*Time away from God.
*Time away from Bible.
*Time away from Alan.
*Time away from Isaac.
*Time away from studying photography in my {spare} time.
*Time away from reading a good book.
*Time away from enjoying the Christmas season.
*Time away from finishing my bible study.
*Time away from playing piano late at night after Isaac's asleep, and now that Alan has tuned {well, most} of it.
*Time away from really connecting with friends {as in one-on-one in person}
*Mindless time away from important things, like sleep!

Hmm. Doesn't take long to look at that list and see which is more important. So then why do I still do Facebook? If I diligently made an attempt to not use Facebook this week, I might miss out on:
~Seeing how others are spending their Christmas
~Reading status updates of what gifts everyone got {and then feeling depressed 'cause, well, let's face it: we can't afford gifts like most people get}
~Missing family and friends back home even more
~Miss the gossip of what's a happenin' 'round Manhappinen {Manhattan, to those didn't catch that ;)}

But what could it provide?
~A chance to spend some serious and much needed quality time with my Lord.
~A chance to meditate on Advent.
~A chance to sing through and read through Christmas songs, hymns and lyrics.
~A chance to soak up Isaac during this special season.
~A chance to write in my journal and blog.
~A chance to finish listening to the online Ruth series that I started 5 months ago.
~A chance to reflect and learn from Pastor Flack's Advent in the Old Testament series by listening to them online throughout my day.
~A chance to pray.
~A chance to be...

Silent. Still. Quiet. Peaceful? Perhaps, if the kid cuts his teeth anytime soon ;).

So really it's about giving up a flesh desire and a want in order to grow and reflect and not be so rushed. To overcome something earthly {facebook, gossip, attention, etc.}.

So this should be an obvious answer, right?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift Giveaway on a Friend's Site!

Hey fellow followers (the whole 3 of ya), remember my post the other day about a friend who is living Christ's LOVE in action by teaming with other ladies and selling handmade scarves, purses and jewelry then giving the proceeds back to the women of Swaziland who make them? Well she's featuring a purse on her blog that YOU could win!

Here's a link to her blog: http://mouseymom.blogspot.com/2010/12/timbali-bag-give-away.html

Simple go to her site and read through how to enter. Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Feeling Inspired...and Selfish

So as I was working a bit more on my blog here tonight, I was adding blogs that I follow to my list, and when I added www.mouseymom.blogspot.com, I took a minute to read her latest post. This is a group of women from my old church back home in Iowa who are putting LOVE into ACTION. Read her latest blog to find out how they are doing it.

They've definitely inspired me, and I think I might be contacting her in the near future to find out how I can get involved. In the meantime, I'm trying to brainstorm some other ways that my family, and perhaps yours, can help impact the world this Christmas, and not just by filling our own stockings.

1. Sponsor a child. www.compassioninternational.com

2. Give a Goat...or heifer...or a chick...or a llama... www.heifer.org In many countries, a family's animal is their main means of money, so by giving them an animal, you are actually giving them much, much more.

     *I just bought Alan's Christmas gift: Chicks! For $20 I was able to purchase a flock of chicks that will help provide eggs for a family, as well as future income. http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.2667525/?msource=TH1E100001

3. Angel Tree http://www.angeltree.org/deliverlove This is a ministry set up to help provide Christmas gifts to children who have a parent in prison.

4. Help serve at a local soup kitchen.

5. Sign up to ring the bell for the Salvation Army www.usc.salvationarmy.org

6. Ask your local church of a family in need, then put together a stocking or gift set with the items and give it to them anonymously.

7. Visit a nursing home.

What are some suggestions or things that your family does to spread the Good News of Christmas?

Winter Nights

I've done it since I was little, and I'm doing it still.

There's nothing more peaceful to me than bundling up nice and warm and sitting outside on a cold winter's night. I love looking up at the sky, with the orange lights in a misty looking sky and seeing the silouette of branches from bare trees standing still in the brisk night air.

There is one thing I love especially, and that's watching the snow fall while sitting out on the swing on nights like these. But alas, no snow tonight. Perhaps tomorrow? Oh how I am craving a white Christmas!

One tip: Jack Frost really does exist and he will nip off your nose! So bundle up warm and toasty 'cause it's a cold one tonight!

Tis the Season

Tis the season for a new blog :). Unfortunately, my old blog page is up for renewal, but we're trying to decide what exactly we want to go with for it as the old blog did not allow for me to easily upload images and make other simple edits, so in the meantime, I'll be using this as my blog.

I apologize for not blogging for..well nearly a month now! I'm so sorry! But then again, I'm not sorry. You see, life happened. And it is good! We traveled home to Iowa for Thanksgiving, participated in Bethlehem Revisited as walking singers again, sans the kid, and celebrated Isaac's first birthday!!!! While we'll be celebrating a half birthday back home in Iowa this summer with him so that our family can participate, we had a small/intimate gathering of some close friends to watch him eat his cake. I hope to blog about the experience later, but as for now, my son is waking from his name and is ready to eat, so I will go rescue him and leave you with these pictures from his party :).





Friday, September 3, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wichita Coupons

Hey everyone,


As some of you know, I've over this last year taken up couponing, and am LOVING the savings I'm getting, the deals I'm finding, and some amazing sites that help find local sales and coupons. 


 


On Facebook just now I came across a friend's status that said she's teamed up with another blogger/website for a photo session giveaway. Selfishly, I "liked" the site just to get my name in the entry (hey, if you saw the work this friend does, you'd do the same!!), but after purusing the website I realized there are some seriously cool things about it-like links to tons of coupon sites, weekly sales, and tons of fun giveaways.


 


The website is called Wichita Coupons and the website is: http://networkedblogs.com/7m623


 


Look it up, check it out and enjoy it just like I am!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Shout Out!

One of my intentions of this blog is to share things that inspire me, or in this case, a person:



This is just a quick shout out to a wonderful woman of Christ,

who balances the checkbook,

the home,

has her own in-home business,

is passionate about food allergies,

serves with some other mothers for a group called Missional Mama's that helps

to raise support and awareness for women of Swailand by working to sell purses made by those women to help support a 

feeding program in their nation,

and purely exemplifies Proverbs 31. 





Mouseymom-thank you for all you do for the Lord, for your family, and for others. 

You are an inspiration :)!





Check out her blog at:

www.mouseymom.blogspot.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

Is He Working?

A few nights ago I wrote a long blog about adoption. Ironically, today I heard an amazing story about adoption that made my heart swell with joy for these new parents! Apparently some friends of our friends have been struggling with infertility for years, and praying for a child, and found out that they couldn't conceive. They've struggled with that news, but also knew God had a plan for them. The waited on adoption because they were trying to wrap their minds around not having children of their own, but just put in their adoption paperwork via LifeChoice Ministries here in Manhattan, KS, and received a phone call just the other day. A senior KSU student went to the ER complaining of cramping and didn't know that she was actually pregnant and in labor, birthed an 8lb little baby boy who is on a feeding tube but otherwise healthy, and put him up immediately for adoption, and this family, who out of the blue, and withing literally I think weeks of submitting their adoption papers, now has their very own baby boy, their gift from the Lord. 


 


I was looking at the pictures again just now and my heart is overjoyed for them :). And yet, I find it somewhat interesting that this story comes on the heels of what I posted just the other night. 


 


So, Lord, are you working in my heart? Our hearts on adoption? If so...please teach us to trust You for direction, guidance, and provision. And praise You for your mercies that are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Romance & Arrows...

I didn't intend to write this tonight. I didn't intend to think this tonight. I didn't intend to ponder the possibilities of this tonight. I simply desired some quite reading time, and time away from my hubby who, by my own doing, frustrated me earlier and I was to proud to go apologize or discuss it, so I hid out in the basement doing laundry and trying to find something else to do, and in trying to find something else to do, my fingers skimmed the spines of the books on the corner bookshelf until my hand rested on one that I bought a few years ago, started once, stopped, started, stopped, never got anything out of it, and ultimately let the dust, which was now on my fingers, cover it.


 


But tonight I started reading it, the Sacred Romance-Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge. I had no preconceptions of what it would teach me or what I wanted to learn from it, other than I knew I wasn't ready to go upstairs, and I was in a reading mood, so might as well go for it. 


 


Inside the first few chapters (I've read tonight till chapter five, which is a huge accomplishment for me in one sitting-I rarely do that, and because I'm such a visual learner, I read really slow trying to visualize each thing being described and discussed! So proud I stuck with it tonight!)...oh, to continue on after that mini-tangent-inside the first few chapters the authors discuss that Romance that most all of us have had. One of the authors describes it as a time as a child that he sat by a stream on his parent's farmland and listened to the orchestra of animals and nature and truly felt like something was alive in that moment. Other romances he described were those awe moments when we just know something or someone (God) is orchestrating everything, when there is good to be had, when there is joy and a sense of life! The reader is left at the end of the first couple of chapters to reflect on when those romantic moments were, how alive they felt, how much of a sense of completeness or excitement or that feeling of all-is-well in the world, the moments when we just know there is Someone higher in control and orchestrating our story. 


 


The next subject that the authors approach is what they call the Message of the Arrows where they discuss the arrows of life-the hurts, tragedies, painful episodes, hard things to deal with. These are arrows in the romance. We can choose one of two paths-to become hardened to life due to all of these arrows, think that we are alone in them, become cynical because of them and live a life of fear of future arrows...or, we can embrace the Sacred Romance of our hearts and the story and journey He has for us. 


 


Part of the arrows is the time in our life when we begin to start realizing that the world is telling us we cannot have this romance. This time of life when we begin to think more negatively, or the world is telling us something cannot be done, we can't accomplish that thing, we cannot ever be good enough, or that whatever it is won't work so why bother-play it safe, don't take risks. This applies to our Christian life as well-just go to church, do the service thing, do the prayer thing, do the devotional thing, commit to the everyday mundane tasks of being a Christian, but don't venture to quite fully accept what it is He might be trying to teach you, or just what exactly your story holds that He's trying to work in you.


 


And that's where I recognized an arrow...that latter part was describing me to some extent. Yes, I do the mundane Christian duties as I'll call them, but thankfully (and praisefully!) this has been a journey for me this last year of truly embracing what He's doing in me, letting Him use me and mold me, which at times has been painful, but remember: in order for Him to give new life, something must die. I must die to myself before I'll be able to let Him build me up again. This has been a hard and difficult thing to realize these last few months, but through being open and willing to be used, I have seen where being so low has enabled Him to be so high in my life. 


 


Anyway, back to the arrow...so I after I finished chapter four, and gave myself a mini pat on the back for having stuck with the reading for an hour and a half, I began to pray silently to myself as I gathered the laundry and then made the bed and finished some evening chores, and during this time I began to ask myself what are some things that I have not done-what are some of those romantic things that I always thought God would orchestrate in me, or allow me to do/witness/see/experience that the world has stepped on and led me to believe it is not possible, so why even attempt letting Him work it out? And the answer: Adoption. 


 


Alan and I have discussed adoption a lot, mainly because ultimately, we are all adopted by Christ as His sons and daughters. Secondly because we are called in scripture (James 1:27 for example). Thirdly is because our desire, and we believe God's desire for us, is to have a big family. God put adoption on our hearts first in serving His Word, and again when we discussed how Alan's parents were discussing adopting a little girls shortly before Alan's father passed away, and we have a heart to carry through that vision. But deeper, God put it on our hearts when we faced a miscarriage with our first "attempt" at having children of our own, and while trying again without knowing if we could even have children after that, literally brought me to my knees in prayer telling the Lord that if it was His will that we adopt instead of conceive, then I would glady accept that. But He remembered me, just as He remembered Sarah and Hannah, and blessed us with our son. 


 


A number of months back, sometime in the cold of winter, I ventured with our new little bundle out to MOPS and listened to three women share their stories of adoption within their families, and was moved to tears. One of them gave us this handout that was called the 'Adoption and the Family Tree' that discuss the genealogy of Jesus, and the proceeds to discuss a tricky part: Joseph was not Jesus' biological father.


"There was no blood relation between the two of them. Jesus was born to Mary while she was still a virgin, and technically God Himself was Jesus' Father. At first glance it almost seemed like a mistake. After all, Shouldn't Jesus' earthly ancestry be traced through Mary, His only biological relative? ...And yet, the Bible traces Jesus' ever-important earthly ancestry through Joseph, his "adopted" father. And it uses that genealogy to point out the very important face that Jesus was descended from King David."



I also came back that day from hearing those women speak and talked to Alan about how I realized that adoption isn't necessarily meant for after we're done having our own children, and that if so, would our possibly someday adopted child think he/she was an after-thought? We decided then and there that if we did ever pursue adoption, it would be while still having our own children (Lord willing). 


 


I have struggled from time to time with the whole thought of am I serving in certain areas because of the need in our church? Or because such and such put out such a plea for others to help that I eventually served out of guilt. Yes, we all would like to help with nursery, with youth group, with fellowship meals, with giving, with clean-up days, etc. But where is my heart truly focused to be used 100% (other than my ministry as wife and mother) that I feel called to do and not out of guilt or to fill a space, to which I then wouldn't truly be serving 100%? The only answer I can fill that with is with worship/tech team and adoption. I've questioned myself before if adoption for us would be out of obedience and the Lord's will, or out of our own self-righteousness to feel fulfilled because we "did our part to help the cause" so to speak, and at the heart of the issue-I have a longing, a passion, a deep desire to adopt. I have cried tears for the unadopted waiting to be adopted and have spent hours looked at Compassion children wondering who, if we could afford it, we would sponsor. I have a friend who desires to be a missionary to India. She has a heart for these people, loves the culture, and literally cries tears for wanting to be there, thousands of miles away from family and friends and all that is familiar to her for the joy of serving the Lord there. That's a romantic desire for the heart of God. That's how I feel about adoption. 


 


So where's that arrow in all of this, you ask? Where did this romantic  idea that God placed on my heart all these years, and more deeply in the last few years, where did it go? It got hardened to the fact that instead of choosing to embrace the romantic journey and story of adventure that adoption would add to our family and our experience in Christ, I began to believe the message of the arrows, the world telling me that we could never afford it-that we can't afford for Isaac, much less another child sometime, much, MUCH less afford an adoption. So we've put that dream on the back burner, and let it spark at least a conversation from time to time, but then we smother it out with things like "but now's not the time" or "we can't afford it now", thoughts like "we need to pay off our debts first"...and while yes, there is something huge to be said for being good stewards of our finances (which unfortunately and fortunately we are just now beginning to learn), is it ok to make that our deciding factor? Or do we take out the arrow and embrace the adventure of where adoption could take our little family?? Do we fully trust Him that if this is His will, then He will provide for all of our needs?


 


...Seems I have a lot to pray about, and perhaps now still isn't the right time, or that it's not the Lord's will for us anymore...I don't know...I can only pray, and at least try to embrace that romantic dream He placed in me years ago instead of just let the arrow stay in the flesh, listening to the world telling me it cannot or should not be done. 


 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

i heart school supplies. 


 



 


I know, sounds weird, but the writer and designer in me LOVES freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, RoseArt colored pencils, a new box of Crayola crayons, clean college-ruled notebooks and rainbows of highlighters. The combination of these supplies just screams out for creativity!!


 


To me back-to-school wasn't said with dread, it was an exciting opportunity to find that new backpack and stuff it full of new supplies. When I was in elementary school the school that I attended had a teacher meet-and-greet night where we got to go with our parents and meet our teachers, and take all of our supplies and put them in our desk. I loved that chance to put all of my new, shiny supplies in my desk. I'm sure I was a bit OCD about it-each item had its place, in order of need and accessibility. Every now and then throughout the school year the teacher would announce that it was time to clean out and organize our desks!! I LOVED this day! It meant the opportunity to re-organize (did I mention I'm a bit of an organization freak?), and to rearrange (and obsessive about shows like HGTV Design Star?). Perhaps my OCD for organization actually just grew from my love of school supplies? As I grew into high school I would spend an ample amount of time putting my notebooks in binders, or labeling all of my notebooks for their specific class usage, putting my pencils and pens and erasers and TI85 calculator in its respected pocket in my backpack and locker. 


 


Another weird quirk is that I love to study. I love to pour over writing out notes-there's an art to handwriting, and I loved filling notebooks full of notes in an attempt to perfect my handwriting over the years. I think that the love of studying is a marriage between my love of all things having to do with school supplies and the using of said supplies. Perhaps it's just me, but I knew I could remember that random biology fact for the test if I just used that pink highlighter! And that attitude still hasn't changed since my days of schooling. Is it just me, or is the message of a note on a post-it somehow communicated more clearly with bright Sharpie markers as opposed to the everyday black ink pen? Is it just me, or is it boring to resharpen a dull pencil than to use a fresh crisp-tipped one straight from the package, because we all know that our sharpest thoughts come from the pencils with the sharpest tips(!), with full eraser life still intact? Is it just me, or is a new blank journal, preferably with some amazing graphic pattern or soothing and serene organic cover, more inviting to journal in, just begging to be filled with thoughts, sayings, verses, inspirations and quotes than one of the other old and worn out journals? I swear I can save money on the grocery bill if I write my grocery list on a brightly designed 3" x 7" piece of magenta lined paper with happy little orange and aqua watermark swirls than on an average piece of torn out notebook paper! (I confess by the way that as a musician, I have been known to use staff paper for grocery lists!). 


 


Even still when I make that "quick" (let's face it, it's NEVER a quick one) run into Target, I find myself perusing the notebook aisle. The other day I was in Target looking for a binder to organize some music lesson activities for a new piano student, and found myself gazing at this really cool graphically designed three ring binder. My mind started spinning about just what I could organize to put in it, the hours I would spend neatly handwriting or designing and printing the possible contents for a clean and organized final product. I already had a binder for recipes, for gift ideas, for general craft and sewing project ideas. Hmm...what to use that binder for??? But then I realized that I didn't have a NEED for that fun bittersweet orange and burnt red ornamented and paisley binder...even though it's beauty and organizing ability beckoned me, I just couldn't think of a need deserving enough to spend money on it :(. It would have to wait for another project at another time. 


 


I think what my husband has yet to learn about me is that for reasons unknown to me, other than my love of writing and design, is that I would be more excited about a bouquet of sharpened colored pencils and a sketch book, or a new journal and set of Ticonderoga pencils than a bouquet of red roses and a Hallmark card :)...


 


 

Hey there, missed you!

Ah, my classical music, how I have missed you. How I didn't realize how great it felt to soak you in today and listen to your every note! So I used to think Spring was my favorite Vivaldi Season, but after listening to Winter...it's a tight competition. I love how Winter just feels like it's a snow storm hitting, then slowly melting away, the strings so short and sweet, almost like that bite of frigid air against skin. 


 


I've realized lately how I'd like Isaac to listen to more classical music with me, and when I put on Vivaldi, he absolutely LOVED it! He started giggling and moving around, 'dancing' so to speak! 


 


Having been a music major for nearly 3.5 semesters, I'm realizing that although my passion now is graphic design and photography, that music, those melody lines, the movements...it's still in my blood. When I go back and listen to classical (or Baroque, or Romantic, or Renaissance...the list goes on), I can feel it again. IT. The music. It's still alive in me, and I love that! I love that even though I don't have time to play {piano} as much these days, merely teaching lessons but not learning new pieces/playing the old ones I learned to love {and hate as well at times}, that I can still just listen and enjoy. 


 


He was right, Dr. Brown, my old college piano professor who, when I sat him down and told him I was switching my major to communications, looked at me directly in the eye and said words that still ring true to this day, "Jodie, you will ALWAYS come back to music. No matter what you do, what your degree is, what you will learn, you will ALWAYS come back to music." And he was right. 

Hey there, missed you!

Ah, my classical music, how I have missed you. How I didn't realize how great it felt to soak you in today and listen to your every note! So I used to think Spring was my favorite Vivaldi Season, but after listening to Winter...it's a tight competition. I love how Winter just feels like it's a snow storm hitting, then slowly melting away, the strings so short and sweet, almost like that bite of frigid air against skin. 


 


I've realized lately how I'd like Isaac to listen to more classical music with me, and when I put on Vivaldi, he absolutely LOVED it! He started giggling and moving around, 'dancing' so to speak! 


 


Having been a music major for nearly 3.5 semesters, I'm realizing that although my passion now is graphic design and photography, that music, those melody lines, the movements...it's still in my blood. When I go back and listen to classical (or Baroque, or Romantic, or Renaissance...the list goes on), I can feel it again. IT. The music. It's still alive in me, and I love that! I love that even though I don't have time to play {piano} as much these days, merely teaching lessons but not learning new pieces/playing the old ones I learned to love {and hate as well at times}, that I can still just listen and enjoy. 


 


He was right, Dr. Brown, my old college piano professor who, when I sat him down and told him I was switching my major to communications, looked at me directly in the eye and said words that still ring true to this day, "Jodie, you will ALWAYS come back to music. No matter what you do, what your degree is, what you will learn, you will ALWAYS come back to music." And he was right. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pretty Sure This Isn't a Good Sign...

cleaned out the fridge a little while ago...


and found something disturbing...


a can of Squirt left over from last summer

when I was constantly craving them while preggers with Isaac,

until my cravings suddenly changed and I haven't

had a single one since about last August...


which means this...is REALLY old...


and apparently about to burst.



Monday, August 2, 2010

LiFe...

Seems like forever ago that I last posted. It's been a crazy roller-coaster of the last couple months. I've been debating even blogging again simply because I feel so far behind on it that I'm not sure exactly how to catch up. 


 


I think the most important thing I should do first is thank everyone for their prayers, words of encouragement and love regarding Alan's dear uncle who passed away the day after my last post. His uncle meant so much to us, and was loved by so many, and although he hadn't been doing well because of cancer, we were all shocked at how quickly it took him, but we are resting in the hope of heaven right now and knowing that his uncle is in Glory with our Lord. 


 


I think everything that happened with his uncle's passing has caused us to kind of stop and take everything in...take a deep breath of life and know just how precious every day, every minute, every moment really is, and to try to soak them up as best we can. And it's also reminded us of not just a reminder that we need to live life, but Who we're living it for. Are we living for us, for ourselves, selfishly, or are we living for the Lord? Are we continually scheduling this and that and filling up our days with mundane tasks and appointments, or are we making time for the important things-for relationships with each other, with our friends, with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and for those who are still seeking Him? 


 


I could spend this {re}entry into the blogging world catching up on all the activities and things that have happened in the last two months, but instead I'm just going to leave it at this...to let us all ponder just how precious life is, and to let it be a reminder that every day, every second is a gift from God and we are to cherish it and use this time wisely.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To Quilt, Or Not To Quilt

For my birthday/Christmas I got a new sewing machine from my mom. I previously had my grandmother's machine, though it is now in bad shape and in need of enough repairs that it was cheaper to get a new machine, which is exactly what my mom did! :)


I've been itching for awhile to start a new project, but am tired of scrapbooking, have no desire to learn knitting or crocheting (sp???), can't really have a garden at this place, and want a project that will be challenging and rewarding. 


On a previous post this week I posted pictures of the new $5 garage sale find quilt rack that I repainted. It got me thinking about my grandmother's quilt, and great-grandmother's quilts that hang on it now. My grandmother LOVED to quilt and sew, and was involved in a quilting group at her church for many years. She made enough quilts (and one for each granddaughter) that at her funeral they were draped over all the pews/benches. There is a legacy in her quilts...something I'd love to attempt to protect and preserve. 


Since we just got this new table (garage sale find!!!) that means our old one can be used for projects downstairs. Spare table + new sewing machine + itching for a new project that'll take me awhile = to quilt or not to quilt???


...I'll keep you posted on my decision ;)...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorial Day & Other Pics

This year for Memorial Day we did something new-we went on our first family picnic out to Tuttle Creek and relaxed by the lake (...er, uh, creek?). That evening we headed to the Weddle's for an evening of games and BBQ'ing fun!










looking cool, dude, but the lake is the other direction :)










chillin' in my lazyboy while mommy and daddy read. i LOVED watching the wind in the trees!


















Go Salome!!!!












Yeah, I get all the attention ;). More cute pics of me:




















Like father....like son.












All the essentials for a full day's work.











my gang and i ;)