Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black Diamond

Recently Joel and I went skiing with 70 junior high students from the ministry Joel leads called 180. Skiing was a part of a 180 weekend retreat in Dubuque, IA.

To give you a background, I am from MN and have been skiing nearly once every other year. Joel has been skiing probably about that many times or a few more. On this adventure, he decided to learn to snowboard. I avoided snowboarding and the idea of ending up on my rear the entire day (prideful and not wanting to fail at a new skill? most likely). Though we were skiing with students during most of the day, many of them headed to the comfort of the lodge earlier than we chose to. I guess we felt the need to get our money's worth.

If you've never been skiing, typically there are 3 different levels of hills. The first being green (the easiest), then blue, and then black diamond (which are usually the hardest). On your first day skiing (and your first day back after a long time) you are advised to stay on the green and blue hills.

That to say, Joel and I found one another after most of the 180 students had retreated from the hills. I had yet to end up on my rear, sticking to the recommended blue hills (and yes this is Iowa and they are not mountains... they are hills). No doubt, Joel had been on his rear multiple times and down multiple black hills. He asked me to go down a hill with him... a black diamond. I was like, "Umm...ok... are you sure babe???" "Oh yeah, you got it," he says. So we went near it and I was hesitant with more questions. In the end we headed down. I plummet to my rear instantaneously and shouted (he was a bit ahead), "Ok, I think I am going to walk back up, this is not going to happen!" Joel stops (like a pro mind you) and waits for me "You can do it babe!" I hear from below. Mr. Encouraging. "Ugh... how did I get him to con me into this?" I think trying to get up. I then see some good skier go by and see how one is supposed to go down this black diamond. Joel instructs me on how to get up and I do and with a fall or two more, I make it successfully down the hill with a wide smile!

Why do I tell you this story? Because this is the story of our lives... Joel is risky and I follow the rules to a T. He is a visionary and I am detail-oriented. He tends to see things from a positive perspective and I call myself a realist. All are good and not one is better. As we've been married nearly 10 months now, we've realized a thing or 2 and this is a pure example of how Joel will want to dive into something, I play it safe, and then he asks me if I want to go along. And me, not knowing how to say no (and if you know some of Joel's family members... no one says no because they are all WOO'ers), I usually go along with it, though hesitantly, knowing the potential danger.

As a Christian wife, I choose to submit to my husband and so this is a pure example of how sometimes this is hard, but oh so worth it. At the end of the hill I was so glad Joel had asked me to go with him. My initial questions were a showing of my usual (sometimes legitimate) hesitation, but I was so glad that I followed Him down the hill (though falling on my rear multiple times and a good does of humbling). He did a great job leading me by being where I could still see him and he could stop and tell me how to move forward. I want to trust that he knows what he's talking about more (please help God, sometimes I am a real brat)! In the end I will forever remember this example when he asks me to go somewhere (ahem) or be a part of something that I may be hesitant toward (godly obviously). Bring on the black diamonds baby!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best Book I've Read...

I am currently a book called "So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us" by Beth Moore. I saw this book and asked Joel to get it for me for Valentine's Day. An odd gift for a day of love? Yes! However, as this year full of many new changes have occurred in my life, I've realized that there I am so insecure about SO many things. I perceive so many threats in this life (some that are very legit) which often cause rash reactions and I don't really know even where to start with them or how to change. I am only 4 chapters into this relatively hefty book, but to say the least, I am really enjoying it.

For all of you who've been christians for a long time, it has been so refreshing to read. This book is so honest and isn't just a bunch of fluff on how to fix yourself with a few bible verses thrown in here and there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inside Our Home

Proverbs 24:3-4 says this, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures". I enjoy this verse because it shows me that caring for my home is worth it and enjoying taking every little detail brings glory to God!

I like to think of our home as a space he allows me to be creative in. When I was a young girl my mom would send me to clean my room and I'd be there for hours moving furniture around and trying to use what I had to make things look beautiful.

My mom has many wonderful gifts and most of the gifts she has been given are very opposite of what I've been given. Now this is not bad, but decorating isn't her forte and well, I love it. This quality about my mom always drove me nuts when I was a kid, because I wanted our house to look good and clean, especially for guests. It's not that she didn't care, she just didn't always care as much as I did. First, she cared more about the people who came in... not what we had to eat or how clean the house was. Secondly, with 4 kids (3 of whom are boys) most of her decorating was pushed to the side to make way for the imaginary basketball court of football field being established in our formal living room. Holla to my mom for allowing this... for loving my brothers and allowing them to be masculine and making our house a home rather than a museum where you couldn't touch anything.

All that to say, I love decorating our new home... and maybe someday if we get to have children they might enjoy it too or maybe they won't... only God knows! Nonetheless, here are some things I've done with our home. None of will probably ever be sold at an art show, but I enjoy making them cheap and personal nonetheless!

As a sidenote... my favorite color is red and that is why it is in almost every room!

To start us off, this our room. We were given the "love is patient love is kind" plaque at the top and kept with the theme of brown, cream, aqua, and red in our room (red and aqua were our wedding colors too)!

These are the vows Joel and I wrote and read to each other on our wedding day. We joke that Jeff Dodge (our pastor) is the only one with his picture in our room besides us!

I painted these last year. I gave Joel the "God" one for Valentine's Day, the "Husband" one for his birthday (Feb. 25th), and the "Wife" one on our Wedding day (May 15th)! The grass idea was a theme at our wedding and is taken from our wedding invites.

The following pictures are in a tri-room (if you will). We have the side entrance, a weird room, and our workout room all connected. The side entrance and the workout room are both a dull lime green and the center room is tan. This is a window that used to be in our house (Joel bought new windows when he moved in) and I asked him to keep some of them. We placed some pictures from our experience in Turkey in it!

This is the side entrance. We bought these shelve units at IKEA (fun story) in MN with my parents. They were perfect for the odd area we had!

This is what I mean by tri-room. You saw the side entrance above, then there is the odd tan space, and we separated the workout room with curtains! We really like it!

This is the "odd tan room" We also bought this long shelf at IKEA and really like it! We placed pictures on it from our engagement in Turkey!

This is our guest room. It is light purple, white, and brown. I did these four paintings on one of my many snow days this winter. I took the idea from a picture I saw in a magazine!

This is our formal living room. It's colors are tan, brown, a touch of blue, black, and white. We use only black and white photos in all of the frames. Joel and I saw this picture at IKEA. I LOVE pictures of trees and he thought that it represented this verse well. So, on two of my snow days I wrote the following verse around it (talk about hard... writing on a bumpy wall)! "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

This is our little kitchen. It's colors are a gray/blue, black, white, and a hint of red. I was looking through a magazine and saw the idea of putting a chalk board in our kitchen! I couldn't find one with a white trim and so I just covered the chalk board and spray painted the trim! We write the verse we're memorizing on it. I hope we can continue this if we get to have kids in this home, or wherever we live!

We bought these baskets for our wedding... and they serve as perfect placemat and napkin holders! They add the splash of red to our kitchen!

This is our unformal living room. It's colors are a warm gold and deep red. Here is another old window. Joel is a HUGE ISU fan and since I did all of the other rooms, we thought it'd be fun to spice it up a bit and make this room a bit more edgy and masculine. These are all photos of him in his college years having fun with the guys (mostly painted chests and of him doing pushups while body surfing)!
My dear friend Jessie helped me with this one. While this house was a bachelor pad, Joel had the ISU stickers plastered on the wall. I wasn't a huge fan and so we modified them to make them look a bit more formal. Frames and matting board did the trick. We had to put a picture of the biggest ISU fans on this wall... my dear friend Jill Paullus and of course Joel (and I somehow got on there too)!

I'm sure there will be more to come!

While decorating my house I must also think of this verse, which probably has some to do with decorating, but more to do with a woman's inner soul. Proverbs 14:1, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." I've realized that it really doesn't matter if I have a nice house because if I am a nag towards my husband and unpleasant to those to enter our home than all the decorating is in vain. It's like when you meet a really pretty girl with a horrible mouth.

Like my Mom, I want to care more about those who live there and enter and focus on how I can love them more than if they like the food or how pretty they think the walls are. In the end whether people thought my house was gorgeous will be minimal compared to if they knew me as someone who served and loved them like Jesus would. My prayer is that all who enter would be urged and encouraged towards Christ no matter where our home is. I mean, because someday our home will be in heaven and I sure hope all of our guests will be there! How much better will it be to be Jesus' guest and have streets paved with gold!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

6th Grade Slam Highlights

Last Friday we had our annual 6th Grade Slam lock-in at Cornerstone. It was as an event aimed at creating "remember when" moments. Many memories were made... It was awesome!
70 sixth graders showed up and 15 adult volunteers - we needed every single volunteer!

The kids had a lot of fun and heard some great God stories from leaders along the way. We played dodgeball FOREVER, had a midnight pizza feed, and stayed up well past our bedtime.

It was fun to hear the leaders share openly and authentically - something we strive for in 180

The boys brought more friends so they got to pick who gets duct taped to the wall - Jase, Samantha, or myself. They were up for a challenge and chose Jase

The most fun for me was the morale dance. It's a dance that we did at the top of every hour that brought everyone together. 6th grade boys are the best - they're not in the "too cool" stage and it was a joy to see them dance like no one was watching! No 8th grade boy would ever do this...
180 is so blessed to have the leaders we do. They are very relational and give their time freely. Here's a picture of Heather Krueger and Audrey Ward. Heather's investment in a band of zealous 6th grade girls is already producing fruit. I can't wait to see what the upcoming years bring. Two seventh grade leaders, Dustin and Ben, attended just to teach us the dance and ended up staying all night - sleeping on the gym floor to guard the doorway. Jase and Samantha, the 180 interns, led the event from start to finish and did a fantastic job. Becky Jones and Vicki Hillock, 2 all-star parent leaders, didn't sleep at all and were happy about it! Shane Kelly is a man who works diligently behind the scenes.. somewhere around 4:30a.m. some boys got rowdy and were waking everybody. As I rolled over and wished it would go away, Shane got up from across the room, admonished them, and slept next to them - losing all hope of any sleep.

One of the reasons I love junior highers so much - their randomness

All in All, It was a Grand Slam!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Jerry Bridges says in his book Discipline of Grace - "Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."

I love this truth. In Christ, we're never too far from getting what we don't deserve and we're never not in need of it. It all depends on His grace and never depends on our performance. We just respond to His goodness and grace. When we think of it that way, the need to perform and please people fades and the desire to please God exudes from us. When we are fixed on His character and his goodness, we fall more and more in love with Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The Galatians struggled with performance and lost their joy in God because of it. Paul says in Galatians 4:5, "What has happened to all you joy?" I think this is the pivotal statement in Galatians. The Galatians were trying to please God by human effort (Galatians 3:3) and not depending on His Spirit and grace for joy, comfort, peace and guidance like they did when they first believed. They started out with grace but went back to performance - which ultimately causes confusion, discomfort, and pride. I fall into this trap sometimes - the performance trap. I constantly need to be reminded that we perform/obey/submit to God because of the gospel - not so we can look good or be congratulated by God.

The author of Hebrews was tackling some similar issues in Hebrews 13:9, "It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace." They were looking around at each other, comparing one another's holiness, and losing their joy that can only be strengthened by grace.

The gospel doesn't end after we first believe - it's a daily thing. We're saved when the Holy Spirit connects us to faith in Jesus (John 3:3-8) but daily I have to remind myself the truth of Colossians 1:22. I'm no longer separated from God. I am holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. I'm completely innocent and perfect in His sight because of Jesus and nothing that I've done! Each day his mercy and grace is renewed in my life! This is not a licensee to sin or abuse His grace but a truth that sets us free to live!

His grace is why I will submit, follow, and obey today. It causes me to be in love with Him and tell others about Him. His grace clears it up for me. I don't want to please people or even attempt to earn His stamp of approval. I fall way short (Romans 3:23). Jesus does not. I'll respond to His grace and follow Him today.

Hebrews 13:9 - "It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace."