Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books Read in 2008

At the beginning of 2008 I joined a challenge to read 10 books in 2008. I wasn't sure if I could read that many, but I made my list of books I wanted to read and set out to complete the challenge. I passed and I failed. I passed because I ended up reading more than 10, but I failed because I only read 3 that were on my list. I have included the books that I read here so that I would remember them for my own records. When I can't remember if I've read a book or not, it's nice to have a place that they are written down.
The 2 books that impacted me the most this year, were, The Gospel Primer (Vincent) and Safe in the Arms of God (McArthur). I highly recomend The Gospel Primer to everyone. New Christians all the way to those who have been Christians for 90 years. I liked it so much that when I planned the Ladie's Retreat this past fall, I asked the church to buy a copy for every lady that attended. It is an incredible reminder of what the Gospel is all about and how practical it is for our every day life. It is not just something that we learn about when we are first saved and then move past it. It is to be the center of our life. It is an easy read and can be ready devotionaly. I urge everyone to get a copy.
The other book, Safe in the Arms of God (McArthur), is one that I urge everyone who has had a miscarriage or lost a child to read. It was so healing. He writes with a Pastor's heart of compassion and brings you to a place of worship even in the midst of your pain. It had a definite impact on my life.
During this time of mourning and healing, while I was reading some heavy books, I also read the Little House on the Prarie series (thanks to my friend, Debbie!). It was so nice to read something so innocent and homey. Always a classic.
I quite enjoyed all the books I read this year, of course, Chris and Allen, your book was among the excellent ones! (Hunter Brown)
My goal for 2009 is to read 30 books. I'm not going to make a list of specific books, because as I learned this year that many more books come my way that I want to read. If anyone knows my husband and my Dad you know that they are recommending and reading new books every other minute. I do want to make it a goal this year to read more nonfiction.
This week, my parents took us to our annual beach house vacation. This is one of my favorite times to get some reading done, so hopefully I'll be able to start on my 2009 list soon!

(Amish Grace Babywise; Ezzo Betrayed; Windle By the Shores of Silver Lake; Wilder Empty Arms, Vredevelt Farmer Boy; Wilder Golden Wisdom for Today's Woman; Sims Hints For Parents; Spring Hunter Brown; Millers Little House in the Big Woods; Wilder Little House on the Prarie; Wilder Little Town on the Prarie; Wilder On the Banks of Plum Creek; Wilder Safe in the Arms of God; MacArthur Shopping For Time; Mahaney The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman; Gaines The Cross Centered Life; Mahaney The First Four Years; Wilder The Great Divorce; Lewis The Last Sin Eater; Rivers The Long Winter; Wilder The Inheiritance; Alcott The Gospel Primer; Vincent These Happy Golden Years; Wilder Treasuring God in our Traditions; Piper Young, Restless, and Reformed; Hanson When the Heart Cries; Woodsmall When the Morning Comes; Woodsmall)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memories and Mergers

This past Sunday was our last church service at VBC. This coming Sunday is our inaugural service as a combined church. We have merged with another church and are moving into their building. This is a very exciting time! We have been praying about this possibility for months and seeking God's will. We have seen His hand in it. There are a lot of special things planned for our first service.
Sunday evening we had a special time of remembering and praising God for our years in the VBC building. It was neat hearing people share different memories. Several times I found tears coursing down my cheeks as I remembered along with them. I wanted to speak up and share memories, but I couldn't pick just one or two. That church was my home for the majority of my life. We lived in the parsonage, 15 feet away. Everyday I would wake up and look out my bedroom window and see the church. When I was a little girl I had my own personal skating rink in the fellowship hall. When I was a teenager and I slept in a little too long, my Sunday School class would come over and wake me up. When we had a huge storm and we lost power our family camped out in Dad's office for days, where the only source of heat was. I have many memories of youthgroup overnighters, Christmas programs, volleyball games, tree climbing. . . My bridal shower and baby showers were there. I remember the excitement I felt when we brought our babies there for their first Sundays in church. I have ministered there with my family, with my husband, with my friends. I have been greatly ministered to by so many people. They really are my family. I have so many "aunts", "uncles", "grandparents", "brothers", "sisters". So many people have mentored, discipled, taught me, both intentionally and without even knowing about it. I have learned from so many Godly examples. Of course I have had sound Biblical preaching by my Dad and husband and others. I have felt so much love and support. Our lives are intertwined. I am so thankful for my church family! I am so thankful that my church extends way beyond the building and is really the people. I am thankful that we get to all move together and add new people to our family!
I feel like there is so much more I should say, but my memories are coming in waves. . .

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anna's First Christmas!







We had our family Christmas this morning! Tonight we will celebrate with my family and tomorrow with Ryan's family. We started the morning off with Ryan making us a delicious breakfast of French Toast. Usually Rylie helps him with this, but she wasn't feeling too well (all of us have colds and she just got over the stomach flu). Then we read the Christmas story from Rylie's Bible and then we did a neat, interactive Nativity story (from the makers of the "Resurrection Eggs"). After that we opened presents. Rylie was excited about every one of her gifts. The picture of her and her Daddy is of them playing with her new WordWorld Lego's.
Anna was tired, but she still managed to enjoy her presents, especially the animal train that played music. She started dancing right away when she heard it! Doesn't she look cute in her, "Baby's First Christmas" pajamas?
The picture of the drawing is my favorite present I received. Rylie has just learned to draw people and she drew a picture of our family for me! I love it!
Ryan and I had to laugh because we both bought each other the same book!
If you want to see all of our pictures from our morning, go here.
All in all, it was a great morning! Merry Christmas!





















Christmas is for Sinners

Several years ago WORLD Magazine published a column by William H. Smith with the provocative title, “Christmas is disturbing: Any real understanding of the Christmas messages will disturb anyone” (Dec. 26, 1992).In part, Smith wrote:
Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious feeling, or feel they ought to, at this time of the year. So they make their way to a church service or Christmas program. And when they go, they come away feeling vaguely warmed or at least better for having gone, but not disturbed.
Why aren’t people disturbed by Christmas? One reason is our tendency to sanitize the birth narratives. We romanticize the story of Mary and Joseph rather than deal with the painful dilemma they faced when the Lord chose Mary to be the virgin who would conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit. We beautify the birth scene, not coming to terms with the stench of the stable, the poverty of the parents, the hostility of Herod. Don’t miss my point. There is something truly comforting and warming about the Christmas story, but it comes from understanding the reality, not from denying it.Most of us also have not come to terms with the baby in the manger. We sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” But do we truly recognize that the baby lying in the manger is appointed by God to be the King, to be either the Savior or Judge of all people? He is a most threatening person.Malachi foresaw his coming and said, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” As long as we can keep him in the manger, and feel the sentimental feelings we have for babies, Jesus doesn’t disturb us. But once we understand that his coming means for every one of us either salvation or condemnation, he disturbs us deeply.What should be just as disturbing is the awful work Christ had to do to accomplish the salvation of his people. Yet his very name, Jesus, testifies to us of that work.That baby was born so that “he who had no sin” would become “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The baby’s destiny from the moment of his conception was hell—hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that he was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins.That’s the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, man’s sin has alienated him from God, and man’s reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ…Christmas is disturbing. Don’t get me wrong—Christmas should be a wonderful celebration. Properly understood, the message of Christmas confronts before it comforts, it disturbs before it delights. The purpose of Christ’s birth was to live a sinless life, suffer as our substitute on the cross, satisfy the wrath of God, defeat death, and secure our forgiveness and salvation.Christmas is about God the Father (the offended party) taking the initiative to send his only begotten son to offer his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven for our many sins.As Smith so fitly concludes his column:
Only those who have been profoundly disturbed to the point of deep repentance are able to receive the tidings of comfort, peace, and joy that Christmas proclaims.
~From C.J. Mahaney

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow!



Here's a picture outside our house about an hour ago. It's hard to tell from the picture but Ryan measured about five and a half inches of snow in our front yard! It's still coming down!

In Memory of Cathy


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our Attempt at Grandkid Pictures


Sunday we attempted to get some grandkid pictures at church with the Christmas "scene", which was basically Mom and Dad's living room, since everything but the tree came from their house. The kids weren't too thrilled with posing, so these are the best that turned out. And, no, that's not a real cat the kids are petting. It is a creepy fake cat that my Mom has as a decoration. The kids love it, I am allergic to it.
When Rylie saw the picture of her and Abby, she yelled, "My best friend, Abby!"