Tag Archives: church

Christmas Festivities + House Projects

18 Dec

Things have been pretty busy over here, but life is good!

Wednesday night, we had our Christmas celebration with our care group. We ate dinner together as usual and then played a huge group game of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun! Travis and I both won a round.

Thursday night, we went out to dinner with Travis’ company at The Fort in Morrison. It’s a small company (4 men + Travis) so we all had fun chatting and laughing about the crazy stuff that happens on the road.

Friday, I had lunch with a friend and then went to the church to set my table up for the women’s Christmas tea on Saturday.

20131213_141239 20131213_141246 20131213_141253Saturday, Travis worked on the soffet and fascia while I ran errands and frantically baked some Bagel Bites right before leaving for the Christmas tea. The tea was a lot of fun though, and I got to chat with some new faces. Right when the tea ended, I packed up my table quickly, drove home to nurse Emma and then turned around to take her to the babysitters for our date night. We went out to eat at Rock Bottom Brewery and then to Avs vs. Wild game. It was a pretty tame game – the teams were so evenly matched that not many surprise plays happened. But the game ended up going into overtime and a shoot out, where the Wild won!

Sunday, Travis did some more work on the soffet and fascia while Emma napped and I cleaned our house for the first time in way too long (oops). I also picked some friends up from the airport.

Monday, it was in the upper 50s, so we had Charlotte watch Emma while Travis and I painted the soffet and fascia. We got it scraped, washed and painted in about 6 hours!

20131216_115114This shows all the scraping we did.

Tuesday, I took a half day off from work to help Travis put a second coat of paint on. Painting is done! We went from white to a dark brown based on our realtor’s suggestion. I never would’ve thought to paint it dark brown but we think it looks nice! My neck is so tired from looking up for that long.

housepainting1 housepainting2We’re not quite ready for the gutters to be installed – Travis has to add a piece of wood for them to hang the gutters on – but we’re very close!

So that’s what we’ve been up to around here! Next up is packing for our trip to Minnesota. So excited!

Colorado Baby Shower

15 Mar

My friends threw me an amazing baby shower last Saturday! I felt so loved and blessed.

Because of the snowstorm, we moved the shower from our church to my friend Carrie’s house. The roads weren’t bad at all, which made me happy since we had been unsure of whether to postpone the shower until the next day.

All of the decorations were so cute – and my friends made them!

IMG_4303 (Large)There was more food – I just took this picture before everyone had arrived.

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Is that not the coolest cake you’ve ever seen? LOVE IT.
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They even bought us Biscuit books, since that’s what we call Emma.

We played 3 games:

1) Guess the number of jellybeans in the bottle. The best part about this game was that I got to take the bottle home! Mmm… sugar.

2) Guess how many ounces of water a newborn diaper will hold before leaking. I guessed 9 oz, and the answer was 10. I ended up winning that game! (which I kind of felt bad about, since I was already getting so many gifts! but they insisted… and I could tell the gift was Toblerone and who am I to turn down chocolate?)

3) Tear a baby out of paper. I got to choose the winner. There were a lot of great choices, but I had to go with Sue’s baby because she included a teddy bear:

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Once again, Travis and I were so blessed by the generosity – we got more baby bath/hygiene stuff, soft pillows and blankets, pictures for the nursery, crib and pack n play linens, books, adorable outfits… the list goes on. We even received a few gifts after the shower from people who weren’t able to make it. I plan to post a nursery tour soon and you’ll get to see a lot of the great stuff people gave us then – and how I re-purposed the shower decorations too! ūüėČ

The wonderful ladies:

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So much fun!! Thanks everyone for celebrating this special time with us!

The blessing continued yesterday at work – my co-workers threw a small shower for me (aka, ice cream cake in a conference room) and gave us the stroller we registered for! I am very grateful for everything, and really overwhelmed by how generous people have been. Emma is a very blessed little girl already.

 

Where the rubber meets the road

27 Feb

One of the main points of the book I’m writing is that reminding oneself of the gospel as motivation for living the Christian life isn’t enough. It’s definitely a start. And I totally believe that the gospel is the foundation of the Christian faith. But we can’t stop there. We need to press on into a living, intimate relationship with God that pervades every facet of our lives. I am mystified by the number of God-fearing Christians who say that they exist to glorify God and yet still struggle with having a daily quiet time and praying. If our “beliefs” aren’t translating into tangible actions, then we’re not really believing them. And if we’re not really believing our beliefs, the place to start is an intimate relationship with God, not just jumping to activities because we’re guilted into them.

Another one of my main discoveries has been that Christians’ hearts are redeemed, and therefore, good. We have good desires. Our innermost beings desire and delight in God. We are holy and righteous in our hearts because the Holy Spirit dwells there. Christ reigns in our hearts. But there is this thing still living in the rest of our bodies called sin. We therefore still commit sins. In that sense, you can say that we are still sinful. But in our innermost beings, we are no longer sinful because of Christ’s presence. Think about it: Christ literally dwells inside of us (a point which the Bible makes very clear) but since He is holy, He could not do that if our hearts were wicked and evil. But since Christ does dwell inside of us, the only possibility is that our hearts are good.

I am by no means a theologian and there is much a biblical scholar understands that I do not. But these realizations have been proven in my own experience (and others’) and have brought me immense freedom and joy in my relationship with God. Without these truths, Christianity is just based on a bunch of events (the cross) and we have no hope for ever growing in our resemblance to Christ. I truly believe that an intimate relationship with God and our redeemed nature are fundamental truths, without which our experience of God will be drastically limited.

There is a mentality among God-fearing Christians that the more we are aware of our sins, the more we glorify God. I whole-heartedly reject that thinking. I agree that the more we know God, the more we will be aware of our sin – the contrast between our depravity and God’s holiness will be increasingly obvious the more we see of God. I also agree that God is glorified when we know and are satisfied in Him. But to seek to know our sin more in order that we may more glorify God is masochism. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve been so confronted with my sin that I thought to myself, “If this is what the rest of my life is going to be like as a Christian, I don’t want it.” And I know that I barely even skimmed the surface of how sinful I really am.

Perhaps for those who struggle with self-righteousness and thinking that they’re actually doing pretty good at the Christian life, reminding themselves of their sin is helpful. It keeps them humble and in recognition of their need for a Savior. But there is another kind of person. A person who tends to be self-condemning, to lament who they are, and to feel like they can never do anything right. Reminding this person of how sinful they are is only putting salt in the wound. It is not helpful. Additionally, reminding that person that their self-loathing is just another form of pride is not helpful either. It is kicking them while they’re down.

The antidote to self-loathing, rather, is being reminded of God’s love, His infinite, abounding, overflowing love for people who are broken and needy. This, too, is part of the gospel. Only when the self-loathing person sees how very loved they are by God, can they see that their efforts to “be good enough” were a form of pride . But you can’t start there. This person needs to know that God is on their side because of Christ’s death, that they do have the power to change because of Christ’s resurrection, and that they are assisted daily, moment by moment by the Holy Spirit living inside of them. There is hope. There is victory. They don’t have to dwell in despair over who they are naturally.

But the self-loathing person doesn’t seem to be addressed much when talking about the gospel. Usually, the gospel truth goes something like this, “You are more sinful than you ever imagined, but you are more loved than you ever dreamed.” I agree with that statement. But while there are many, many sermons at my church on how sinful we are, all the different ways we are led astray, and what we need to do to fight for holiness, and there are some sermons on God’s love as demonstrated on the cross in forgiving our sins, I haven’t heard many sermons on how God’s love enables us to live differently. And not just the idea of God’s love (as in, I’m reminding myself that God loves me and as such, I change my behavior), but God’s love living and active inside of me, accomplishing in me what I cannot do for myself.

I’m basing these statements on my current church, not Christian churches in general. So it probably comes as no surprise that I am becoming more and more discontent with our church and its teaching. At first, I felt like the preaching just wasn’t that challenging. But I chalked it up to having become a Christian listening to John Piper preach, so most preaching would be a step down from that (because Piper is a very gifted preacher). But now, I am flat-out disagreeing with what our church is teaching. I don’t think that they’re blaspheming or teaching another gospel. I just think that their focus on our depravity isn’t helpful to everyone – but they hold that it is.

I also feel like in the challenges they issue us from the pulpit, they’re in a way assuming that we’re living half-heartedly for God. That we’re dabbling in known sin on the side, or letting sin run rampant, or keeping areas of our lives separate from our relationship with God. And I hate to say it, but I think there are a number of Christians in our church who are doing those very things. Like I said earlier, this mystifies me. Why the apathy and indifference? Why are we fooling about with the things of this world, making mud pies in the slums, when we have been offered a holiday at the sea? I dare say I’ve discovered my passion: to see apathetic Christians desiring God with every fiber of their being.

I don’t want to be an argumentative, divisive Christian and I do believe that our church still has some good things going for it. So I don’t necessarily feel called to move on. But I am interested in investigating other God-fearing, biblically sound churches in our area, just to see what other pastors are preaching. How do other people approach living the Christian life? What do other people think about reminding ourselves of sin as motivation for loving God and a basis for glorifying God?

What do you think about all this?

 

 

Just Do Something

28 Jun

The sermon at church yesterday was a very good one – we are starting to go through the book of Colossians and Glynn (our pastor) emphasized the importance of truth in the Christian life. Without truth, our faith and hope are unfounded. We need the truth of Christ to ground us.

Some of the notes I took were:

“We can’t walk in the newness of life without being rooted and grounded in Christ.”

“We’re called to grow and bear fruit. Fruit comes from knowing Christ.”

“All we have in Christ is all we need to grow and bear fruit.”

While I wholeheartedly agree with those statements, I find myself struggling with them. I have returned yet again to my struggle of feeling like I live my life for myself and that the daily activities I engage in are pointless and futile. If God is the one who does the growing, then why am I stuck in this indecision about what I should be doing with my life?

I hate to say it but I feel like the statements I wrote down above are elementary and surface-deep. They don’t explain HOW. They state these truths of the Christian faith like it were easy to figure out how the work of the Spirit actually happens.

We had a “family meeting” at the church last night about who we are and where we’re going. A guy stood up and told a story about a co-worker who had been in need and his care group stepped up to help him out. The first thing he said after the congregation got done clapping (our church claps for everything) was “It wasn’t me. It was all God.”

Statements like that also puzzle me. I think, “Really? All God? But you’re the one who told your care group about this guy’s need and your care group provided for the guy.”

It is obvious that I am hung up on the practical side of God’s grace working in a believer’s life.

Then tonight, as I was sitting at the kitchen table reviewing my notes from the sermon, something hit me. The Christian life is lived from the heart – God is in the business of change from the inside out. It would go to reason, then, that the way God inspires action in a person’s life is by changing their heart. What they once valued no longer holds appeal and what they once would have never even thought of doing is now captivating. We are called to be faithful to the convictions and notions God puts into our hearts.

In my case, I have long been convicted, as I mentioned above, that I live for myself and should be more giving of my time. So I think I should volunteer somewhere. But there are so many good causes I could get involved with, I have a hard time deciding which one to do – which is God’s will for me? I could get involved with Habitat for Humanity or the Denver Rescue Mission or tutoring underprivileged kids or collecting shoes for kids in Africa or stuffing envelopes for Blood Water Mission. I have sat at this crossroads of indecision for almost a whole year. My convictions haven’t gone away.

I realize now that I just need to choose. God’s will isn’t about circumstances – it’s about heart attitude and about being obedient and faithful to the convictions that God lays on my heart.

Two different opportunities were brought to my attention in the past month or so – one just last night. One is volunteering with Life Choices Pregnancy Center. I had wanted to volunteer there when I still worked at D2S but couldn’t because they were only open during business hours, when I had to be at work. But now that I work fro m home and can create my own hours, I think it would work out. The other opportunity is volunteering in the church office. I have already contacted the office administrator about this because it would be a great way to serve in the church again (I had to quit children’s ministry when I got my new job), I would meet more people at the church, and I would be donating my time to a worthy cause.

There’s a book I’m really excited to read – I just ordered it today – called Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will OR How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. I have so long been looking for a Christian book that would at least slightly validate what I’ve been going through and bring some more clarity to this situation (though I do feel like I just got some today) – I hope this book helps.

Minnesota Christmas

28 Dec

I’m in Minnesota right now at Travis’ parents’ house in Grand Rapids. We got here last night after driving up from Pine City, where we were at my parents’ lake cabin for Christmas with my family.

Christmas was nice and relaxing. We ate and opened presents late on Christmas Eve, then went to church and ate some more on Christmas Day. The church service on Christmas made me cry. It was a small-town Lutheran church and the pastor (a female) gave a confusing, vague and heretical sermon about the inner holiness that we need to see in every human by having our eyes healed by the baby in the manger. I know that¬†there are members of my family who aren’t trusting Christ for salvation and it broke my heart to realize that hearing messages like that might make them think that they’re ok and don’t need Christ. I was actually so frustrated with the sermon that I went up to the pastor afterward and told her my concerns. She looked at me with pity and compassion, agreeing with everything I said and contesting nothing. I walked away even more frustrated. I wanted to tell her that she was leading people to hell with her heresies but I didn’t. I don’t think it would’ve done any good anyway.

We visited our good friends Mark and Sarah last night at Mark’s parents’ house. They live in NC so we don’t get to see them very often. Mark was the best man in our wedding and they got married about a month after we did. They just had a baby girl¬†in August. So weird! It is very hard for me to grasp the fact that Travis and I are old enough to be parents and it could be just a matter of a few years before we actually are. So weird.

But I am think I am ready to have kids for the most part. We are going to wait until Travis is done with grad school (God willing) and we have more of our debt paid off. But I’m thinking we should wait only another 2-3 years at the most. I’ll be 28-29 then.¬†Our relaxed, spontaneous family vacations are limited.¬†Kids will change the dynamic even more than spouses did. But as with them, it will be for the better. Good additions to the family. Plus, I love having “sisters.”¬†

I don’t know what we’ll do with Travis’ family while we’re here. Usually we go to a movie, sledding, snowmobiling, read, ice fish¬†and¬†talk. This year, Drew (our nephew) got Big Buck Hunter for the TV so Travis will of course be playing that a lot. It’s great being on vacation and just chilling with family. It makes Travis and I wonder what life would have been like had we stayed in MN instead of moving to CO. It would have been WAY different. And I think, easier. But we are glad that we moved. We believe that God led us out to CO and that He has us there for a reason. We still talk seriously about moving back in 5-10 years but Colorado is where we’ll stay for now.

Nevertheless, Minnesota will always feel like home.

The holiday weekend

30 Nov

This holiday weekend felt blissfully long and disappointingly short. Long because Friday I woke up and felt like it should be Sunday–but there were 2 more glorious days to go until then. Short because it’s now over.

Yesterday, Travis and I went to Barnes and Noble to look at books. I bought “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose” by Matthew Kelly. I’m excited to read it, but won’t let myself start it until I finish “Knowing God” (which I find very hard to read when I’m sick because when my head hurts and my ears are ringing, I can’t concentrate on anything very deep).

Then we went to the Rec. I had to exercise. I can’t stand sitting around all day “resting.” I feel worse when I do that. So I walked on the treadmill at an incline and then did situps. Today I did one of my Pilates videos. It feels good to be active again (I didn’t exercise at all last week due to being sick).

Last night, we went to the Nutcracker with Paul and Carrie. It was so fun to watch! It made me really want to dance again. The school that put it on (the Boulder Ballet) has a drop-in Beginner’s Ballet class for adults on Monday nights. It’s up in Boulder so I may not do it…but I have definitely been motivated to search more earnestly for an adult class that I can take.

Today I decided to not go to church. I can’t sing (my voice has been coming and going due to coughing a lot) and we were supposed to be working the Toddler room (which I couldn’t because of being sick…though the Lord was very faithful in finding someone to cover for me). I listened to¬†last week’s¬†sermon by John Piper instead. It was good–and it reminds me of how much I miss his preaching. Travis and I continue to try to keep open minds for our main pastor…but more often than not, we walk away from his sermons feeling a little disappointed.

I just love Piper’s enthusiasm, his child-like wonder at the Word of God that inspires me to see it through a new lense. I love how he quotes other Bible verses to show how the whole Bible ties together. I love how he digs deeper and doesn’t just tell us what the verse means but analyzes why the verse means what it does and what¬†that meaning¬†means our relationship with God. I love being challenged to see the Bible in new ways and being convicted that I do not understand the gospel enough nor am I sufficiently riveted by it.

One benefit of this whole being-sick thing is that it has motivated me to take my health more seriously. I have known that I need to drink more water (especially living in CO–I get headaches from being dehydrated frequently), exercise more (I’ve been averaging 2-3 times a week), and cutting back on the sweets (at home I do pretty well but at work…) I have been inspired to drink more water, exercise at least 5 times a week, and to really limit my sweets to at most one a day and to make them things that really count (no more Tootsie Rolls and peanut butter cups at work!)

We’ll see how long it lasts…but I’m really going to try!!