A Rescue Mission

At church the past few weeks, Danny has been calling Christmas a "Rescue Mission," and I REALLY like that perspective! It's so easy to get caught up in getting Christmas cards sent out (which we declined to do this year), buying the perfect gift for everyone on your list, decorating the house, baking cookies, and sharing delicious meals with the people you love most. Of course all of those things are fun and give us an opportunity to celebrate Christmas, but I'm really making an effort not to lose sight of the fact that Christmas is a Rescue Mission. Jesus was born in order to reconnect us with God. Despite even our best efforts, we all fall short of perfection. It's just the way things are. However, acknowledging Jesus as our savior - the person who paid the penalty for our imperfections - gives us the opportunity to not only live alongside God day to day, but also to spend eternity with him. So again, Jesus came to rescue us from the alternative - spending day-to-day life and eternity apart from God. How lucky are we?!

I was reading The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15) today, and it really touched me. It reads:

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, [Jesus] said in a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold. As he said these things, he called out, He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

As I began to think about the parable and question its true message, I saw that the answer was in the next several verses.

...Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for awhile, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience."

Wow, is that sinking in for you like it did me? Throughout life, most of us have been exposed to God's truth just like this parable shares. Now the question is, which seed are you?

Seed on the Path - you hear the word of God, but you do not believe

Seed in the Rock - you hear the word happily but stray from what you know to be true when going through trials

Seed among Thorns - you hear the word of God but ignore its teachings in order to pursue what this world has to offer (money, success at work, popularity among others, etc.).

Seeds in Good Soil - you hear the word, and you bring the light of God into this world so that others who know you know that you love God.

I want so badly to be a seed in good soil, but I know there are times when I am a seed among thorns (ignoring God's word for worldly treasures that will never last or fulfill my life). I try my best to prevent that from happening by exposing myself to God's word every Sunday, by reading the Bible (I've been doing much better since I downloaded a Bible application to my phone), and by surrounding myself with friends and family who help keep me accountable for my behavior. I have gained so many friends at our church, and these people have helped me grow in my walk so much these past 3 1/2 years. Not only do they inspire me through the way they handle their own trials, but they also encourage me to live my life in a way that God intended for us to live. My point is, I hope to be a seed in good soil more and more often in all areas of my life: work, parenthood, marriage, friendship, in public, in private, and with family. There are so many people who have made such a positive impact on my journey as a Christian, and I hope each and every one of you know who you are. The gift you have given me this past year is priceless. I love you!


Sledding Adventures

Noah has found his new favorite outdoor activity - sledding! A couple Sundays ago when we got a lot of snow, Ryan and I promised Noah that we would take him sledding after work on Monday. Although it was getting dark by the time Ryan got home, a promise is a promise! I think Noah was surprised by the amount of clothing you have to wear when you go sledding - especially when it is only 17 degrees! I dressed him in his socks, a pair of my socks that went to his thighs, two pairs of sweat pants, a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a hoodie, his snow pants, winter coat, mittens, and a ski mask. Yes, he was completely decked out and looked like Randy from A Christmas Story! No, he could not put his arms down either. :)

Ryan and I put on our own layers of clothes, somehow fit Noah into his carseat, loaded the sleds, and off we went. Just down the street there is a big, fairly steep hill that no one seems to have discovered. It provided the perfect place to go sledding! I know I probably shouldn't have, but I took one trip down the hill with Noah - I couldn't resist. He loved it! I think Ryan and Noah must have gone down that hill at least 10 times. Noah even said he wanted to go backwards once, which was really fun. He said, "Bye, Mommy, I love you. Bye," and down he went.

A picture to prove I was there, too! :)

A few days ago, Ryan and Noah went sledding with our friend, Matt, and his little boy, Bryson. Jessica (Matt's wife) and I stayed at her house and enjoyed the warmth. Our due dates are about 11 days apart, and it will be fun to add two more little boys to the mix! Noah asks almost everyday to go sledding again. With all the snow coming this weekend, I'm sure it won't be long!


Christmas Tour 2010 - Part 1

We started our Christmas festivities early this year! We loaded up Ryan's Jeep Patriot with all of our goodies and drove to South Whitley on Friday, December 3rd. Noah watched movies on Ryan's video iPod all the way there, which kept the drive calm and easy! Seriously, how did my parents make that drive when we were kids? No wonder my brother and I spent most of the drive looking out our own windows after getting in trouble for fighting in the back seat. :)

We made it there in one piece and put Noah down for a nap. I kept Danette company while she made a bunch of delicious goodies including these cute little gingerbread men with red hots. Ryan and Dad were updating their Garmins. After Noah woke up, we drove into town to eat at The Brownstone. We fought Noah 90% of the time to eat his meal. Regardless, the food was delicious as usual, and it's fun to see a nice restaurant in my home town.

Even Kya was excited to open her presents!
After everyone went to bed, Ryan and I started watching a movie, but before I knew it, I was nodding away, too. We bought Noah this great air mattress with bumpers, and he slept great all night! We woke up to monkey bread and mini quiches...delicious! Soon after we started breakfast, my brother and his wife arrived. They are due to have their first baby April 20th, so not even two weeks before our due date. How fun is that?? It was fun to talk about our pregnancies over breakfast.

Danette's dad, Dale, joined us soon after, and we started opening presents. We bought Kristen some Secret Fit jeans from Motherhood Maternity. Those were such a staple in my maternity wardrobe last time, and they are already coming in handy for this one. I had to make sure Kristen had a pair, too! We also found a cute heather gray shirt to go with her jeans. When I asked Dan what he wanted for Christmas, he said something Chicago Bears to decorate their office. I had no idea where to start until Ryan suggested an autographed picture. We found a print of this year's team's signatures on Soldier Field. I wasn't sure if it was something he would like, but turns out, he really loved it! PHEW! :) I always have a hard time shopping for my dad, but Ryan again came through with an idea - the new Crossroads DVD. He is always watching an old one, and the new one just came out in November 2010. He seemed to really like it! I also grabbed a Hickory Farms gift set because they are so delicious but hard to buy for yourself. :) We got Danette the Sex and the City 2 DVD, Half Broke Horses (a great book!), and some scentsy bars - you know, great girly stuff! We also bought Dale a gift card to a restaurant. Picking out gifts is one of my favorite things to do, and I bet this year, I did 95% of my Christmas shopping online. It's just SO convenient! What did you buy for the people you love?

Noah hit the jackpot! Dan and Kristen surprised him with the Dance Star Mickey Mouse! He went bananas when he opened it! We took it to our friends' house last night, and not only did Noah love it, but so did little Baby Ava (Dalia and Kevin's daughter) who is almost 7 months old. Dad and Danette bought Noah and our little yet-to-be-named Bambino lots of wonderful gifts. Noah's favorite items include a DVD of kids' Christian songs where his name is inserted all throughout, a book called There's a House Inside my Mummy, a Fisher Price cash register, and a Radio Flyer tricycle! I know, I know...he is SO fortunate to have gotten such wonderful gifts. Thanks again everyone!!!

Ryan and I were also really fortunate in what we received. Dad and Danette spoiled us with a new Sony HD video camera! It is SO nice, and now we can easily download videos onto the computer, and we can burn them on DVDs. We are still drooling over this gift, so thank you! Dan and Kristen got Ryan a kapo for his guitar and a DVD from the 80's called Making Mr. Right, which I've been dying to re-watch for years! Yes, I would say we all were very blessed this year!

Dad and Danette made a fabulous dinner for us - filets, twice baked potatoes, green beans, rolls, and lots of desserts. I filled myself into a food coma and put Noah down for a nap. After he woke up, we went to visit my cousin Joey, his wife Katey, and their three girls (yes, you read that correctly!). Daisy Louise was just born earlier that week, so we got to meet her for the first time. Noah had fun playing with Sydney while we had a nice visit. After having dinner and packing up the car, it was time to say goodbye. We had such a wonderful time and were reminded of how lucky we are to have such an incredible family.
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