Monday, December 21, 2015

FALL ON YOUR KNEES

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Christmastime. When we celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus.
Jesus Christ, born to be our Savior. The Savior of the world, in fact.

Angels, messengers of heaven, were sent to announce His birth.
And to worship.
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. . . ." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests" (Luke 2:10-14).


O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Jesus lived a full life as a man. Crucified. Dead & buried. Rose again!
Lives at the right hand of God the Father. Interceding on our behalf.

Jesus said, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:17-18).

The angels are still announcing and worshiping this Jesus in heaven!
(Don't skip over this passage. Better yet, read it out loud!)

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
 “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!” 

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
  "To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
    for ever and ever!” 

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.  
(Revelation 5:11-14)

Imagining this scene gives me chills! Ten thousand was their highest known number at that time, so the Apostle John is literally saying: angels beyond counting! Jesus, born in the manger, is the Worthy Lamb, to whom all worship is due.

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!


Remembering the birth of Jesus, the incarnation, God-becoming-man, is important.
But don't let your soul stop there.
Keep remembering: remember His life, death and resurrection.
Remember that He lives and reigns even now.
And remember-in-hope that Jesus will return again--to rule in justice and power.
He is the Conquering King.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. . . . He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God (Revelation 19:11-13).

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!

So many sing the beautiful Christmas hymn "O Holy Night."
But do they know the weight of their words?
One day, all will indeed "fall on their knees" and acknowledge Jesus
--some in delight and some in dread.
Jesus said, "Behold, I am coming soon!" (Revelation 22:7).

This Christmastime let your soul soak in the majesty and wonder of our  
living, holy, just, powerful, and reigning JESUS.
Christ is the LORD!


* And the next time you sing "O Holy Night," try to imagine yourself joining the angels in heaven, praising the magnificent Lamb of God. He is standing in the center of the Throne and coming again soon to rescue and judge and rule!

** Photos by the lovely Jessica Bernier, editing by me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

CHRISTMAS AT THE PARSONAGE

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Christmas at the Parsonage--2015 Rendition

For those of you who like picture posts--here's your Christmas present! A little taste of Christmas in our home. Nothing super fancy and just some phone pics--but it's so much fun to decorate! Every year I try to add a little something and it's fun to mix-and-match what we already have. 
Without further ado.... 


When you walk into the living room....put garland + lights over the window this year.



The nativity scene that I found at a consignment shop last year takes center stage.
Real life.

Real flowers here and there always add to the ambiance.
New this year: our Advent calendar!
While I was taking photos, this was going on.
Fake tree. And the ornaments are all messed up (thank you, Silas).
But we sure enjoy it! (sorry, wonky garland!!)


Oh, hi JD!



Card display! One of my favorite parts of December--receiving all of the Christmas cards.
More flowers, and Hershey kisses are always good.
My "angel tree"--all of my breakable angel ornaments.

Thanks for coming along on the tour!

Monday, December 14, 2015

SILAS IS 2!


Our Silas is two years old! We can hardly imagine a time when he wasn't bouncing around our home and laughing. Such joy and spunk he brings!




Some thoughts . . . in the form of an acrostic for Silas Fredric. 

S - Singing and talking, there is so much verbal happening these days! When Justus yells for Silas across the house, you'll usually heard a responding "Yeah?" He is the resident toilet flusher (who comes running when anyone is going to the bathroom) and yells "Bubbles!" He likes to say "Welcome" (short for "you're welcome") and will usually roll it into whatever response he's making, for example "Thank-you-welcome." Silas knows songs pretty well but usually just sings the last line of a phrase; although, this past week I overheard him singing "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Jingle Bells." The song "Deep and Wide" is his favorite song to sing before bed.

I - lIkes to give hugs, especially to JD. Silas will just lean in with a big bear hug. (And JD, who doesn't like much touching, is not always very happy about it.) Sometimes Silas will come running at me and just wrap his arms around my knees as hard as he can--favorite!

L - Laugh--oh our Silas loves to laugh. Sometimes it's just a fake laugh--which he will even do for strangers if they laugh back at him. He leans toward you with a big grin; we're convinced he thinks/knows he's hilarious.

A - All the details: Down to one nap a day. Sometimes he takes a morning one if he's extra tired, but it's usually just an afternoon nap, about 2 hours long. Wears a size 2T. Seems like a little boy now, no more baby. He's lengthening out and not so chubby in the face.

S - Sneaky about getting into things--oh my! All of my little bins and boxes for things in the dining room and living room are free game for him. And the bathroom. And our bedroom. If Silas is quiet, then I know that I need to go looking for him!







F - Fun with Playdoh! It's his new favorite activity. Very focused and interested. He pulled the Playdoh into little pieces, put them in a cup, dumped the cup, started over... Other favorite toys: cars, any sort of little cup or container, legos.....usually he decides on a favorite toy for the day and then sticks with it.

R - Runs everywhere and bounces when he runs. So much excitement and joy in life. He likes to scream on occasion, just for fun, when he's excited (which usually makes JD cry--he's not a fan of loud noises).

E - a children's Encyclopedia book is his favorite, which he calls "Big Book." He does pretty well recognizing the different pictures and naming some things. Silas tends to be hard on books but I'm so glad that he likes them. He especially loves to crawl into Bryce's lap with a book.

D - Daddy! When Bryce is at work and Silas hears the dog bark, he says "Daddy!" (hoping that Bryce is home). Silas usually talks with his mouth open, so it's sometimes hard to understand. JD is the best interpreter. Lately, Silas has been putting together little phrases and sentences. "Hold you, Mama/Daddy" is something we like to hear.

R - Really loves his JD (pronounced something like "dee-dee"). Lately I've realized that Silas doesn't know what to do with himself when Justus is gone. Usually Justus runs errands with Bryce when Silas is napping, so it's rare that they are separated. The few times it has happened, Silas wanders around, asking for JD. For the most part, they play together pretty well. Makes Bryce and I so happy with how much they enjoy being together.

I - nIcknames: Si-Lo, Si-Man, Si-Lo Free. It changes a lot. I didn't know that we would be a nickname family but I think we are.

C - Cereal, one of his favorite foods--along with oatmeal, yogurt, bananas, olives...and the list goes on. He's a good eater, but can tend to be slow, especially at dinner time. Breakfast on the other hand--he scarfs it down! Sometimes Silas will hold the last bite from dinner in his mouth long after he's already down from the table and running around. He knows to take his dishes over from the table and toss them into the sink (since he can't quite reach it) and likes to "help" load the spoons and unload the bowls.


Silas Fredric.
Our sweet boy.
We sure love you.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

{Advent} -- JESUS IS OUR . . .



 "And He shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, 
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6



Scripture {Advent} readings:


Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and 
His wonderful deeds for mankind . . . (Ps. 107.8, 15, 21, 31) 

Jesus is our Counselor
To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.
(Job 12.13) 

Jesus is our Mighty God
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, 
the great God, mighty and awesome. (Deut. 10.17) 

Jesus is our Everlasting Father
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 
And that is what we are! (1 Jn. 3.1) 
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near
 by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace . . . (Eph. 2.13-14)



Friday, November 6, 2015

light & momentary // eternal glory

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The other day I was chatting with some friends who are also moms, discussing the weight of the responsibility to teach and train our children. The next morning, I read 2 Corinthians chapter 4, a passage where Paul encourages his children in the faith. And my crazy brain likes to imagine myself into the pages, and so it seemed like it would also be good encouragement for mothers and their children. So, after a little adjusting....here's the Jana-version.


Since through God's mercy we have this ministry of motherhood, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways ... On the contrary, by setting forth the Truth plainly to our children we commend ourselves to their conscience and every man's conscience in the sight of God. ... For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay (oh how fragile and imperfect we are!), to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed ... We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus and die to ourselves, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body and to our children. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

...with that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak to our children, because we know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus to present us with our children in His presence. All this is for their benefit, so that the Grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly our bodies are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, mothers, let's fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


What are "we" as mothers to do?
We do not lose heart
We have renounced secret and shameful ways
We commend ourselves to their conscience
We have this treasure in jars of clay
We are hard pressed but not crushed
We carry around in our body the death of Jesus
We believe and therefore speak
We know that God will raise us with Jesus
We do not lose heart
We are being renewed day by day

And what is God's part in all of this?
~ through God's mercy
~ by His light
~ power is from God
~ life of Jesus being revealed
~ to the glory of God


Some days it is hard to remember but we must cling to: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

That eternal glory is 1) receiving our personal reward for a life well-lived, 2) seeing our children there worshipping at the feet of Jesus, and 3) being in the presence of God Himself! How worth it all of the motherhood heartache and sacrifice will be in that moment!


Monday, November 2, 2015

RUNNING TO WIN

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Now, I realize the Apostle Paul has the corner on the market when it comes to the faith = running a race analogy, but I had to jump in with what I've learned over the past six months.


Setting a [Crazy] Goal
I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Let me first start by saying that I am not a true runner. I don't absolutely love it. I don't get a "runners high." I'm not super fast. And I probably don't have very good form. But I do love to be healthy and in shape and last April I needed something to jump-start me again. I asked my friend Liz to run a 5K with me in June. And then after that, I decided to be crazy and train for a 10K in October with my friend Charity. The longest race I've ever attempted.


Consistency in Training
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Training was pretty consistent--3 runs a week, following a plan on the Endomondo app. I slacked a little when we traveled to Montreal and also when I got sick two weeks before the race, but otherwise I stuck with it. Early morning, mid morning, early afternoon....slipped in a run whenever it happened to work with our varying schedule. Long runs on the weekends at the park. Space for me to be alone, in the quiet, getting healthy, releasing stress.


Running Even When it Gets Tough
Consider Him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3

Race day wasn't too chilly for the end of October. It was the first year for the race so there were only 62 participants (this included 5K/10K/15K and lots of walkers). Charity and I picked up our packets and warmed up. The course was beautiful but So. Many. Hills. The entire race felt like constant up and down. I trained on hills a little bit but not quite enough. I did okay until around mile 5 (of the 6+ miles) and then I started to lose hope a little bit and my brain wanted to stop.


Importance of Friendship
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10

But Charity was so encouraging and we chatted and she took pictures and she talked some more and we just kept running. Together. I'm not sure that I would have made it through mile 5 and 6 and 0.62 without her. It's so much more fun to run with someone! I think there's no point (or fun) in doing a race on my own--I needed that accountability and encouragement.


Crossing that Finish Line
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. . . . He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son." Revelation 21:3, 7

We sped up a little right at the end and ran over the blue carpet proudly. It wasn't the easiest or prettiest race ever, but we made it. Stats according to Charity's running app: 6.62 miles, 1 hour 2 minutes 33 seconds, and an average 9:27 min/mile. (My longest training run was about 5.5 miles with an average 10:30 min/mile.) I didn't love running the race but I'm so glad and proud that I did it.


The moral of the story?
It will all be worth it in the end.

Friday, October 30, 2015

TAKING STOCK

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A fun list found at The Art in Life blog. 

Making: Pretty soon here I'll be making D's last bottle of the day and then he's off to sleep for the night. Here's to hoping that he isn't awake at 1:30 a.m. because of a stuffed-up nose like last night.
Cooking: Taco soup for dinner. It's the easiest, yummiest recipe--just throw it in the crock-pot and you're good to go.
Drinking: Lots of hot drinks these days. Current favorites: coffee, lemon tea and spiced chai tea.
Reading: You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. We're studying this book in our life group and it is good. I can't recommend highly enough. Gospel-centered marriage. This is where it's at.
Wanting: A good pair of black flats. Why are they so elusive? Oh, I didn't mention that I would like to spend around $15. That's probably why I can't find any.
Looking: For some new crochet patterns. My fingers are itching to get back at it again. Anyone need a scarf?
Playing: With a cranky baby who keeps trying to touch my computer keys while I'm typing. Yay for teething, a cold, and constipation all at the same time....poor little guy.
Wasting: Time on Instagram these days. Why is it so addicting? Beautiful pictures and photos of life....I just can't get enough.
Sewing: Hmmm. Not much to report here. I'm working on an advent calendar project with felt pieces and wood. Does that count?
Wishing: That my husband didn't have to go back to work tomorrow.
Enjoying: Having my husband home all week. It's like a stay-cation. Except none of my cooking / housekeeping / laundry duties ceased.....so, not like a stay-cation at all. But it was nice nonetheless.
Waiting: For Christmas. Okay....I can wait. But I just love trying to think of a perfect/unique gift. Already have some fun ideas for the boys and I can hardly wait to see their faces.
Liking: The TV show "The Mysteries of Laura." New favorite.
Loving: Watching my boys each sit on a black chair in the library and "read" tonight. They were running around crazy after dinner and Bryce told them to go find books and sit quietly. It was adorable.
Marveling: At The Hope that is an anchor for my soul. And His mercies are new every morning. (They are not necessarily new for next week yet--I can't try to handle everything at once. Sometimes I can only cling to Him for tomorrow morning.)
Needing: Some of that pumpkin bar with cream cheese icing that's in the fridge. I'm thinking it would pair well with some decaffeinated earl gray tea.
Wearing: Probably something black/white/gray/blue/teal/pink. After I seriously cleaned out my closet a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that all of my favorite clothes were in the same color family.
Following: The Small Things Blog. She's my favorite blogger and stranger Instagram feed (as in, I don't know her personally but I sure like reading what she writes).
Noticing: That it looks a lot like winter. And, I know I'm in the minority, but that makes me pretty happy. Winter is my favorite.
Thinking: About what fitness goal to set next. A 5K in January or February? That means lots of cold runs. Not sure I'm up for that.
Feeling: Lots of feelings this week. We're learning more about little D's case and there are so many unknowns. It's quite overwhelming at times. 
Knowing: God is sovereign. And that's enough for me tonight.