Monday, December 20, 2010

Come, Long Expected Jesus

Favorite Christmas hymn this year. The words are incredible.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Snapshots of Christmas

The same Christmas story.
3 different authors.
3 different books of the Bible.

"Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 7:14, 9:6

"...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. [Mary] wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" Luke 2:6-11

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman . . . was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and several crowns on his head. . . . The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." Revelation 12:1-5

One story. The same story. Three perspectives. I didn't realize the Revelation snapshot told the story of Jesus (now I do! thanks to Pastor Eric's sermon a week ago). I can now visualize the scene of Jesus' birth with the "veil" pulled back and the spiritual realm visible. It's a parallel manger scene. The unseen side of Christmas - no one usually mentions a seven-headed dragon when describing the lowly stable, fluffy sheep, and sleepy shepherds!

Pastor Eric shared that the Revelation 12 passage helps us realize two things.

1. Why life feels so much like a grinding battle.

Because it is a battle. Read the rest of the story: "When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. . . . Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring - those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12: 13-17

Could this possibly explain some of our struggles in life? Why is so hard to continue to do good? Why does life feel like a storm? Why does gaining righteousness seem so impossible? Why does living for Christ feel like pressing against a brick wall? Because of Revelation 12, that's why.

2. What weapons we need to become skilled/comfortable handling.

Would you consider going into an earthly battle with no armor? And what about weapons? Even if you had a weapon, would you actually know how to fire a gun properly? I certainly wouldn't go into battle without armor and I most certainly wouldn't consider using a weapon without some training & skill! Why is it, then, that I even consider going up against such a foe as a seven-headed dragon without armor or weapons!? I need to be skilled in spiritual battle, knowing how to handle the weapons God has given to us:

Take up the sword of the Spirit - be deeply immersed in the Word of God and know it.
Pray in the Spirit - live from your knees. (see Ephesians 6:11-18)

Between Jesus' birth and "we win" we are at war with a seven-headed dragon, Satan, the devil himself. He's coming after anyone "who obeys God's commandments and holds to the testimony of Jesus." This puts a new spin on Christmas, doesn't it? From a Revelation 12 perspective, Christmas isn't just about manger scenes or angels singing or stars in the sky. Christmas signals the start of war.

Source: Pastor Eric's sermon at Eagle Church, December 5, 2010. It's a good one! Listen here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Since our two mantles are in the process of being "Christmasfied" and since I am constantly changing how they look anyway, I thought I would take a few pictures of the fall-2010-look.

First, a picture of my fun containers from Ikea. They are currently just sitting there on the ledge in our kitchen. With no purpose except to make me happy every time I look at them.

This is the mantle in our living room. Dried flowers. Ocean & lighthouse pictures from Maine. Clock that our grandpa made. Wooden container from El Salvador. Picture from our wedding. 2 green spray painted items. Blue Goodwill vase with more dried flowers.

No good overall pictures of the mantle in the dining room. Just a small snapshot. Mom found 2 blue-tinted wine glasses at Kroger on super-sale and I filled them with rocks & shells from my travels (the big flat ones are from New Zealand!) and votive candles.

Hope you enjoyed the first installment of "mantlescapes." I know there will be more to come. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

monday randoms

I don't usually do random Monday posts, so I thought today was a good day to start.
  • Goodwill 50% off shopping on Saturday morning was highly successfull. Let's see if I can remember my loot-list: 16 winter tops/sweaters, a jacket, a pair of shoes, 2 fun storage tins, an unopened puzzle, about 30 Christmas tree balls, a bag, a purse, and 3 fun Target belts (brand new). All for under $100. And I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting . . .
  • It was 8 degrees when I drove to work this morning. As I made my usual "cold noises," I reminded myself that I like cold weather. And I do. Sometimes I just need to remind myself.
  • My mother and I successfully dyed a dress on Friday night. It didn't take that long; there wasn't a big mess (translation: my kitchen doesn't have green splotches); and the dress isn't streaky at all! Pictures to come in January when I plan to wear it.
  • Mom and I also worked on ironing & hemming curtains for 2 hours on Friday night and about 8 hours on Saturday and we still have at least 5 hours of work left. What a tedious project. My bedroom is done but the library will have to wait until January. I've decided that it's not worth it to add stress to my December schedule to push getting them done right now. (Ikea curtains are great but be forewarned of the tedious hemming process, especially if you have 12 curtains to do!)
  • I am currently listening to Handel's Messiah on YouTube - a version performed in Moscow. Bryce and I are planning to see the symphony perform the same in a few weeks. Such a masterpiece proclaiming the glory of God! I remember listening to it with my Dad when we were growing up and following along on the sheet music. Handel's Messiah definitely puts me in a Christmas frame of mind.
  • Note to self: do not leave a banana in your to-and-from-work bag for 6 days. Old bananas smell. And turn black. And stink up everything in your bag. Yuck.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

project: jewelry frames

I love jewelry. I love cheap jewelry. (I wear it - so that's my excuse for why my earrings disappear sometimes.) I love to buy jewelry while traveling - everything has a story. I love jewelry gifts (hint, hint). I love collecting jewelry. One catch. I must have someplace to store all of this jewelry. A small plastic box with compartments and a little plastic storage container with 3 drawers worked well for many years. But then I decided that it was time to find another solution with a design that would allow me to see everything at once. About 4 years ago in Australia, Amy and I were at a fair on the way to Coogee Beach. I saw these earring "frames" and have wanted to make one ever since. After doing some reading and being inspired my father-in-laws successful attempt, I decided it was time. Items Needed:

  • Two 35 cent picture frames

  • 1 bottle of spraypaint

  • A hot glue fun

  • 1 yard of fun material

  • Push pins (spaypainted)

  • Screen wire for windows

  • Cork board (cheapo from wally-world)

  • Staple gun with staples
I spraypainted the frames and collected all of the supplies. Then Bryce helped me staple the screen to one frame and hot glue cork board to the other. We (I mean, he) had to get a bit creative but they finally came together! And now I can see all 74 pairs of earrings and 40+ necklaces & bracelets! Here is the finished product on my dresser:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

pt in the living room

Yikes. Thank you, Bryce, for taking such flattering pictures of me doing my physical therapy exercises. Good thing we didn't have a camera after my surgery.

Monday, November 15, 2010

project: blue shelves

Reading about a project online does not mean that it will work in real life.
But sometimes it does.

I saw these apple crate shelves on one of the blogs that I regularly follow:

And I thought: that would be perfect for some storage in our dining room. I called 4 orchards in our city and the last one I called had 16 mismatched crates that they were going to throw away. Bryce picked them up the next day - for free! Mine didn't look as pretty as the ones above; they were all different shapes and sizes and shades. So I decided to paint, since we needed more color in our house anyways. Here's the nicest one of the bunch (which we decided to leave as-is - it holds books in our living room):

The process (which I don't have any pictures of) went something like this:
  • 2 coats of blue spraypaint on 9 crates (turned out very uneven and some weren't covered sufficiently)
  • 2 coats of oil-based primer with a paintbrush (oh my goodness . . . incredibly tedious)
  • 2 more coats of blue spraypaint (terrible cramp in my right pointer finger and painful pulled muscles in my forearm)
  • Bryce screwed them together
After hours of spraypainting - this process literally took 2 months - I am very pleased with the result.

My "blue shelf" (as I fondly call it) holds: cookbooks, mail, extra pens & notepads, a plant, speakers to plug an iTouch or laptop into, 2 baskets from Hobby Lobby and some decor items I had laying around. (FYI: the black & white designs are scrapbook paper in random black frames.) The pictures aren't the best (terrible lighting, I know) but you get the idea. My shelf is accomplishing exactly what we needed for basically just the price of spraypaint: unique storage and a pop of color in our dining room.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

three headed monster reunites

2 friends from high school.
Actually, Chris and I have both known Alex since we were about 6 years old.
We've known each other a long time.
One Saturday, shopping, talking, laughing & a photo shoot.
Good times, of course.

And don't ask why we're called the "three headed monster." I think it started on a Montreal mission trip . . . but I don't quite remember. All I know is that it can sometimes be a little frightening when we're together. (Scary in a good way! We have way too much fun.)

project: remember letters

It is finally here: house project post #1.

Background: Last Christmas Bryce bought me wooden letters (see below) spelling "REMEMBER." This is a special word for us. On the day we were engaged, he gave me a journal with everything that he "remembered" about our relationship up to that point and made a point to "remember" what God had done. Mostly the word is just that: a reminder to remember God and His faithfulness.

Process: The letters sat in a box until we moved into our new house and I finally decided what I wanted to do with them. I used a cheap brush (so I could just throw it away and not worry about cleaning) to stain each letter twice with Minwax wood stain in Jacobean. Each time I left the stain on for about 8 minutes and then wiped off with an old rag. And in between the stains I lightly sanded each letter.

They looked pretty good after the second coat of stain but the 2 coats of poly sealer (or something like that . . . I can't quite remember what I used since it was just left in our garage by the previous owners - yay for free project stuff!) put it over the top. They looked so shiny and the wood grain really popped.

Bryce decided on the placement in the living room. And he was also in charge of hanging them with double sided mounting tape (since he's so much better at measuring).

And the final product:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

random tuesday

Random news:

Did you know there is an updated version of the NIV available on BibleGateway? Well, there is. I looked up Micah 6:8 yesterday and wondered why it said "mortal" instead of "man." Check it out:

Yesterday was not my day. When I got home at 9 pm and started to switch out the laundry, I discovered lovely blue designs all over the inside of my nice-and-new-looking dryer. I washed & dried a pen. On Saturday. (Yes, sometimes my laundry does sit in the dryer that long before I can get to it...believe it or not.) I sat on the rug in front of the dryer and cried a little bit (for the 3rd time that day....after I tried to scrub it off with 3 different cleaners). And then I picked myself up and said "That's it": I watched a Gilmore Girls episode before crawling into bed and left the laundry in a pile on the floor and the kitchen a mess. (Sorry, Bryce.)

I love my new running shoes. It was a painful buying experience (price = ouch) but so far it's been totally worth it:

I'm having lunch with Liz today. That always makes me happy. Plus it's nice to get out of the office in the middle of the day.

My hair was hilarious yesterday. After sitting around a bonfire Sunday night, I washed my hair and then went to bed with a wet head. (Pet peeve #4: I can't stand the lingering smoke smell...all clothes must be washed and hair shampooed thoroughly immediately upon returning home.) My hair dried with the roots super curly on top and completely straight on the bottom. Great curls but I had no idea what to do with them, so just threw it in a ponytail for the day. I just laughed when I got up this morning and it was still crazy-looking.

I'm running out of random thoughts. Should have some house project pictures to post soon...if I ever figure out how to charge my new camera and transfer the images to my computer.... I promise I'll get on that in the next day or two.

Do you have a random story? I'd love to hear it!
Enough from me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

15 Books I Love

"Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. If you post this to Facebook, tag 15 friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your 15 picks, and tag people.)"

I'm making up another rule: listing a series as one book is acceptable.

And a quick disclaimer: I probably love about a million books (been reading like crazy since 1st grade), so these are just the first ones that came to mind this morning, not necessarily my top 15 of all time and they aren't in any special order.

  1. The Bible
  2. Christy by Catherine Marshall
  3. Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
  4. Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
  5. current favorite marriage book: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
  6. Lord of the Rings series by J.R. Tolkein
  7. Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke
  8. Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
  9. Persuasion, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abby...basically every book by Jane Austin
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  11. When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James
  12. The Bronze Bow and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  13. growing up I loved: Turn Homeward, Hanalee and other books by Patricia Beatty
  14. Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot
  15. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

bethel + fw

My weekend was slightly insane.

I worked a few 9.5 hour days last week in order to leave work early on Friday. Drove 2.5 hours up to Mishawaka/Bethel area. Picked up Charity from Bethel and drove to Holly's grandparents. (Side note: Holly & Charity are two dear friends and roommates from my college years.) Talked for about 2 hours. Drove to Holly's house for dinner with her parents and sister. Ate her mom's famously delicious pizza and drank tea and talked some more. Went back to her grandparent's house to spend the night. Talked until 12:30 a.m. Slept. Drove Charity to the airport in the morning and had a photo shoot in the airport, of course.

Drove through Bethel's campus with Holly for old times sake and reminisced and drank tea/coffee at Barnes & Noble and talked some more. Holly and I were suitemates the second half of freshman year, roommates sophomore year, I traveled abroad the first part of junior year and then we were roommates again, and then senior year we were roommates the first half and then Holly traveled abroad. So....we were basically roommates for 4 years, on and off.

Around 1 pm I drove 1.5 hours to Warsaw, Indiana and Jordan's soccer game: Grace College vs. IWU. Jordan's team played great even though they didn't win. I sat with Mom and Grandma and munched on candy corn + peanuts (thanks, Mom!).

Drove back to Fort Wayne (FW) with Jordan - about 45 min. Talked the whole way about our back sagas and TV shows and college classes. Ate dinner with Jordan, Mom and Grandma. Met Chris and Alex (two more dear, wonderful friends) for coffee for a few hours. Chatted like crazy. And then came back home and talked to my mom for awhile before crashing around midnight.

Sunday morning I drove 2 hours back to Indy in time for church at 10 am. Gave my husband a hug. Had lunch with Ian & Danielle, two good friends of ours. And then relaxed all afternoon and evening with Bryce. Whew. Told you it was slightly insane.