Thursday, December 30, 2010
Question 3: If you got to choose the weather for one day, what would that day be like? Julie: 20 degrees and cloudy with light, fluffy snow all day. Amy: Sunny all day with an 80 degree high temp. No strong winds, just a light breeze. Katie: An autumn-like day with highs in the 60's.
Question 2: What movie character is most like you? Why? Julie: I would say Meg in "Little Women" because she's the dependable, practical oldest sister. Amy: I'm gonna pick Maria in "The Sound of Music," because she loves music and children. Katie: I'm going to go with Flo from "Finding Nemo" because she's goofy, but very caring.
I (Amy) just spent a few delightful days of fellowship and fun with my dear friend Hannah T. We had a sweet time together playing music, shopping, sledding, playing games, watching good movies, trying out new hair styles, hosting a tea party, posing for pictures, talking late into the night, sipping hot cocoa and Russian tea, and eating some delicious chocolate :-). It was like the ultimate slumber party on steroids, since it lasted four days and three nights. Thanks, Hannah! Love you lots! Tonight finds Julie, Katie, and I pretending to be snowed in at home, enjoying each other's company and our last few days together before I leave for AZ and Katie's spring semester schedule kicks in. In honor of our girls' night in, we three sisters decided to start a string of interview posts to be published every couple of days for the next week or so. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed answering them! Question 1: If your sister were an animal, which one would she be and why? Amy and Katie decided that Julie is like a unicorn. She's beautiful inside and out, with a very classy style. She gets things done quickly and is good at planning ahead. She is very introverted but well-respected and a loyal friend. Julie is incredibly intelligent and skilled at many things, but is very humble. She is dependable and you can trust her with anything. Julie and Katie decided that Amy is like a dolphin. She's very graceful. She's very social and talkative. Just as dolphins often swim alongside boats, Amy is a very good companion. She's loyal and comforting. She has a beautiful smile and is always making people laugh. She likes to have fun and take care of those around her. Julie and Amy decided that Katie is like a cocker spaniel. She loves to laugh and have fun. She is a great tag-along and is always ready to go places. She is very loyal. She has big blue sparkly eyes and a contagious giggle. She is talkative and enjoys playing games with friends and family. She loves to be with people.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I (Amy) took my last final exam this afternoon. Know what that means? I am DONE. (Well, at least for this semester. :-) That's right! Three-and-a-half blissful weeks with no homework, no tests, and NO PAPERS have just begun. Thank You, Lord!!! Now the million dollar question is: What in the world am I going to do with myself??? I've got a few big plans already. My family and I will be spending a few days over the Christmas holiday with my dad's side of the family in Delano. Then a dear friend of mine will be coming here for a few days here before the New Year. And I get to spend the last week of my break soaking up the sun in AZ with my cousin. It's going to be great! My heart's desire is that I would glorify God with my spare time during this vacation. I want to serve Him by serving others. I want to learn more about His will for my life. I want to spend time reading His Word, singing praises to His name, and drawing close to Him in prayer. I want to spend time with the wonderful people He's placed in my life. Please pray that I will seek God's will for my time during this break. Pray that I will put other people's needs ahead of my own and that I will search for ways to serve those around me. I pray that your Christmas season is full of blessings as you focus on Jesus Christ.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I (Julie) have been a terrible blogger as of late. It's because just about anything I've been thinking or doing lately (except perhaps my Christmas baking) has to do with this big elephant in the living room of a situation that I haven't had the emotional energy to tackle writing about until now. Without beating around the bush, we had to close Kal's. The day before Thanksgiving was our last day of business. I don't want to go into all the details now, but I'll sum it up quickly. The economy these past couple years had taken a toll on our business - duh, just like the construction business everywhere. However, we had been slowing making back the ground we lost, and we hadn't missed a payment to the bank. But the bank decided we were no longer a viable business for them to keep. With the way we stood then, no other bank wanted to take us on. So, that was that. Those past couple weeks were a whirlwind of emotions. In a way, it was a relief because often over the years when business hasn't been good, we've prayed about staying open or not, and to know for sure what we had to do was a nice change. And our regular contractors were amazing. When we told them one by one, almost all of them began praying for us, and we felt it. We were able to pay off all our suppliers, an important thing because we have always had good relationships with them and we did not want to leave them hanging. Those were the positive things. On the other side, we have all been dealing with a fair amount of grief and uncertainty. Walking around the store those last few weeks was like waiting for a dear friend to die. Part of you wants it to just be over, and the other part wants to hang on to every last second. Because we couldn't tell our customers until about a week and a half before we closed, since we needed to keep the business going, everything happened rather suddenly at the end. Honestly, I don't think it's sunk in yet. Sometimes I still find myself thinking about what to bring for Dad's lunch tomorrow, or I'll almost answer the phone, "Good morning, Kal's," or trying to think of the sku for something that doesn't have one (like lotion at Target) to find out the price. There are so many dear little memories that come to mind everyday, some that make me laugh, some that make me cry. One of the hardest things for me is not seeing these people that have become such a part of my life, and that I have learned so much from. As our contractors came in those last few days, getting a few little things from what we had left, many of them would give me a special goodbye, saying how they have enjoyed getting to know me and things like that. I could barely choke out an answer. Of course I'll still probably see them around, but when I used to see them probably 3 or 4 days a week, it just won't be the same. Enough with all my melancholy reflections. To the title of my post. We are moving on. We have felt God's hand so strongly in these times, and He will continue to lead us on. Dad has been plowing snow and will start a salesman job at another lumberyard soon after the first of the year. It will be much like what he did at Kal's, only without the headaches of being a manager. For me, this change has brought a lot of questions of what to do next. I decided before we closed that I would not seek another job before going to Poland in February. I didn't want to have to tell a possible employer that I would need three weeks off so soon after starting (and, oh yeah, one week in January because I'm going to Arizona). And I didn't want to rush into anything. I had pictured myself staying at Kal's until I got married, or even until I had children. I realize that this is God's way of saying that He has something different in store for us now, and I'm waiting for Him to reveal what He would have me do now. I have started volunteering five hours a day, four days a week at the elementary school I attended. I work mostly with kindergartners and 1st graders, and I love it. I'm continuing to work at the Events Center, which I also thoroughly enjoy. I still have much to do in preparation for Poland, and I know that February 4th will come very quickly. There, I tackled the elephant. Not a very uplifting post, but we see brighter days ahead, and we'll keep you posted on what God is doing!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Today I want to share some pictures that I (Amy) captured out our kitchen window a while ago. Julie posted a while back about the beauty of our Savior's promise to wash us white as snow. I absolutely LOVE that verse and its imagery. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about redemption. One online dictionary defines redemption as "the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him, or her to a better condition." That's exactly what the Lord has done in my life!
When my heart was filled with darkness and hopelessness, I surrendered it to Jesus Christ. I gave up my rights to live for myself and purposed to live for His glory for the rest of my days. In that moment, the Light of the World shone into my heart, exchanging depression and despair for joy and hope!
Redemption, at least in this life, restores things to a better condition. Not a perfect one. Striving to live each day to the glory of God has made my life incomparably better than living for myself. But it hasn't made it perfect. Bad things still happen to me. People still hurt me. I still get sick. It hasn't made me perfect either. Sometimes I struggle with selfishness and pride. Sometimes I hurt the people I love. Sometimes I neglect the tasks the Lord has set before me.
I still sin--WAY more than I'd like to admit.
But no matter how hard the days are, or how many times I mess up, I have a constant assurance of love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. When I confess my sins to Him and cast my burdens into His care, His light shines through to bring me hope and a new beginning.
When I think about the awesome redemption He has performed in my life, I am filled anew with joy. For one day, by the grace of God, I will rest with all the saints in the city where "God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:3b & 4, NKJV) Thank You, Jesus!
If you have never entrusted your life to Christ, I urge you to do it today! Don't wait another minute to receive the forgiveness, hope, and redemption promised to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin."
(Colossians 1:13-14, NIV)
Friday, December 3, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Hey everyone! Hope you all had a joyous Thanksgiving! This year, our family celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving at home for the first time ever (or at least for as far back as we can remember ;-). We were blessed to have our dad's parents (affectionately known as Bop and Nanny around here) with us for the holiday.
Julie and I (Amy) volunteered for the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. I was so thankful that we got to cook our first big holiday meal together. We made a great team, and even invented our own spice rub for the turkey, which turned out fabulously (if we do say so ourselves ;-). I'd share the recipe with y'all, but there isn't one. We called it "Guntzel Girls' Dump-and-Stir Turkey Rub" and used everything from nutmeg to paprika to spice up our bird. We had fun digging through our hopechests to make a makeshift centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table. We set the table with the china Mom inherited from her grandmother and fancy gold cloth napkins. Decorating is one of my favorite parts of every holiday!
The above picture is a little dark, but that's what our table looked like just before we added the food. So festive!
Katie did a great job helping me find decorations for the table. Thanks, Katie!
We are so thankful that Bop and Nanny were able to come. Nanny baked up some delicious homemade rolls for our meal, and a beautiful mincemeat pie for Bop and Dad's dessert. She also helped prepare the stuffing, gave us some great tips on roasting the turkey, and taught me how to make gravy. I don't know what we would have done without her! Thanks, Nanny, for all your help!
We are so grateful to have grandparents who love the Lord and their families. We always look forward to our times together!Our Thanksgiving meal consisted of roast turkey, two types of stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, homemade rolls, lefse, pickles, carrots, pepperoncini, and cranberries. It was very yummy!
Thank You, Lord
For food on our table,
for a roof over our heads,
for material blessings,
and cozy warm beds.
Thanks for family by our side,
and those so very far away;
thanks for fellowship and friends
and for the dawn of each new day.
Thanks for guiding and sustaining,
for never leaving us alone.
Thank You for the peace You bring,
and the hope of a heavenly Home.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Amy let me (Julie) make a trifle for the potluck her class is having today. I hope there's leftovers!Cappuccino Mousse Trifle
- 2 1/2 cup cold milk
- 1/3 cup instant coffee granules
- 2 packages (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 carton (16 oz) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
- 2 loaves (10.75 oz each) frozen pound cake, thawed and cubed
- 1 square (1 oz) semisweet chocolate, grated
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I (Julie) have been cross stitching since I was about 8. I think I like it so much because you don't have to be artsy to do it - just follow the pattern. I usually have two projects going at one time, a big one at home and a smaller one in my purse (in an empty concrete screw box - can you tell I work at a lumberyard?). The one at home gets worked on quite a bit, because whenever I have a little down time or I'm watching TV, I take it out. The one in my purse, though, usually takes a little longer. So, in order to try and make the one in my purse get done faster this time, I am going to be posting pictures of it as I work on it. Hopefully this will motivate me to work on it more! Here's what I've done so far...can you guess what it is?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I (Julie) have been told by many people that I should put this story on here, and I have to admit, it is pretty funny. This is the story of my first proposal. You'll understand why I'm hoping it won't be my only proposal when I'm done. About a month ago, I got a second job ushering at the new events center in town. The majority of the events there are Bemidji State University hockey games. BSU's team is the Beavers, so their mascot is a big beaver named Bucky. The first weekend I worked, I was ushering a women's hockey game. Now, to the team's credit, they have a good record and are a pretty good team. But hardly anyone comes to the women's games, so it is not very exciting for the ushers. All the seating is general admission, meaning we don't even have to show people where to sit. During the men's games, Bucky the beaver is down in the student section leading the cheering and getting the crowd into the game, but during the women's games, he just walks around and plays with kids and gets his picture taken. So I am standing by my stairwell, daydreaming and praying and minding my own business (and, oh yes, I was watching the crowd being as that is what I'm paid to do). Bucky was making his rounds, and he came over to the kids in my section. I hardly noticed him until he came down right next to me. He shook my hand and then he pointed to himself and to me and held up his hand to his ear like he was talking on the phone. He wanted my number. I just laughed him off, and he wandered on. I should interject here that Bucky doesn't talk at all. All of this is through his pantomiming and my guessing what he is getting at until he nods that I've gotten it right, so whenever I say that Bucky said something, keep in mind that there was a process to it. To make it a little clearer, I'll color-code it from now on. Whatever he says will be green, and what I say will be red. A few minutes after he walked away, I hear him coming up the stairs behind me. I knew it was him because the large feet on that costume make it impossible to go anywhere quietly. He tried the phone thing again, and started holding up different numbers, giving me his number. I stopped him halfway through; I still wasn't going to give him my number. Then he started pointing at himself and at the "Bucky" on the back of his jersey, then pointing at me. He wanted my name. I told him, then he spelled out his name in the air, of course, spelling it right to him, but backwards to me. Nice to meet you, I said. I think he said a couple other things, then he left. Ten seconds later, I hear my name from the stairwell. I turned, and it was the guy I had seen walking with Bucky earlier. I guess there is someone that follows him around all the time. He says, "Sorry, Julie, but Bucky wants to know your last name." I laughed. I suppose that would have been a little hard to get across via pantomime. I told him, and he went back down to report to Bucky. It wasn't long, maybe ten minutes, and I hear the clomping up the stairs behind me again. This time Bucky starts by going to the other side of the stairwell and imitating exactly how I was standing, which made me laugh. Then he came over to me and started the whole hand motion thing again. I think it started with if I was going to be there for the men's game that night. Yes, over there (pointing to my section). His shoulders slump, which I understand later is because he has to stay in the student section for the game. Then it was if I wanted to get a drink with him sometime. No, I don't drink. Why? Because I'm only 20 (of course, there are other reasons, but it's hard to get into those in a very one-sided conversation). Then he tried a different route: do I want to go to eat with him sometime? No thanks. A couple times during this whole exchange, kids would come up to him, and while he was wonderful with them and fulfilled his mascot duties, I could tell he wasn't encouraging them to stick around too long. As soon as they went away, it was back to question. Do you play hockey? No. Softball? No, I am not athletic at all. Do you dance? No, graceful is not as adjective you would use to describe me. What do you do? Well, I cook. Then he starts spelling in the air again: f-a-c-e, then holds his hands like a book. No, I don't have Facebook. I don't quite know how one can look exasperated with that big goofy grin plastered across the face, but he did it. Ok, he would try from another angle. Do you go to BSU? No, I work at a lumberyard. He was surprised and made a motion like he was chopping wood. I laughed, yeah something like that. Are you going to go to BSU? No, I don't plan to. Why? Becuase I don't want to spend that much money on a piece of paper I don't want because that's what everyone says I should do. What do you want to do then? I want to be a stay-at-home wife and mom. That caught him off guard. He almost physically jumped backwards. I'm half surprised he didn't forget the whole no-speaking rule. He recovered quickly, and gave me a hug. That was weird. I think he didn't know what to do. If that wasn't awkward enough, he steps back and proceeds to get down on one knee and lift up his hand like he was holding up a ring. Looking back on it, I can't help but laugh because it was so funny, but in the moment I laughed for lack of any better response. He got up, but he had stayed down slightly longer than necessary for a joke. I dont' really remember what happened exactly at the point because I was so flustered. At one point, they were playing music and put him up on the big TV's. He did his appropriate mascot dance for a while, and thankfully, he was in front of me so I wasn't up there too. And as soon as the camera moved on, we were back to our game of charades. A couple minutes later, the manager guy Bucky had sent up to find out my last name earlier came up the stairs. He put his hand on Bucky's shoulder and turned him away from me slightly, though I could still hear everything he said. He sounded like he was trying to come across as frustrated and stern but was having trouble keeping the laughter in. "Bucky, they keep showing you up on the Jumbotron hitting on this hot girl. You have to go make at least one lap around." Bucky's shoulders slump and they walk away. He quickly recovered to his normal mascot self because the kids were clamoring for him, but his manager walked behind him a ways just to make sure he kept going. The was the last I saw of him for that game because it was almost over. Since then, he will often come up to me during a women's game and give me a hug or a handshake, but his manager (different guys since that first game) has always been following him much closer. They must have put him on a short leash. Now you can understand why I call this my first proposal, and why I certainly hope there will be a second someday. Thanks, Bucky, for giving me something to laugh about. It makes me laugh every time I think about it, and I hope it gave you a giggle or two as well!
Monday, November 15, 2010
That means "colors" in Polish. Less than three months, and I (Julie) will be in Radom! It's coming up so fast. But that's not the subject of this post, just thought I'd share my excitement with all of you. Back to colors. When I was younger, if I needed to remember a fact, I would assign it a color/colors in my mind, and then when I needed to retrieve that fact, all I had to do was think of what color it was and I could usually come up with what I needed. Mostly I used it for things like history tidbits. Many eras had their own specific colors, and things in that era would have sub-colors. I had no idea that I did this until we were playing Trivial Pursuit on night (love that game!), and my mom asked me how I had remembered some obscure fact. My very intelligent sounding answer was, "Well, it's dark red and gold." You can imagine the looks I got. I tried to explain, and from then on whenever I was trying to remember something, my family would say, "What color is it?" I kept up this method of filing things away probably halfway through high school, but I think it's one of those things that fades as you get older. I can still do it, but it has to be deliberate. When I was younger, I didn't think specifically about what color something was going to be, it just was that color, but now I have to assign a color consciously and it doesn't always work as well as it used to. Even though I don't remember things that way anymore, colors are still a strong trigger to get me to think about things. Take my beautiful new scarf for example: I love this scarf. It's not red. It's Christmas red. My favorite color. First it brings thoughts of all the wonderful Christmases we have had, all because of the first Christmas. But underneath that, this color always gives me the overwhelming sense of the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross. How appropriate that Christmas red is the same color as His blood.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow."This is what we woke up to this morning. I (Julie) love snow. I love winter. I love the reminder of being washed as white as snow. As I watched the snow come down last night, it was like every flake whispered ...pure ...clean ...forgiven ...new creation ...beautiful ...peace. Snowfalls are one of those things that I think God sends sometime specifically for me. Not in a selfish or conceited way, but like I was saying before, sometimes it's like God wants to send me a love letter, and I read snowfalls so clearly. A skeptic could say, duh, you live in Minnesota; it's not like it only snows once in a blue moon - don't think those snowfalls are just for you. Yes, Mr. Skeptic, I may live in Minnesota, but you don't know my Jesus. He delights to show His love for me. Especially when I am anxious or worried, a snowfall brings an all-encompassing feeling of peace. Yesterday was a perfect example. I was so anxious all day about something that was going to happen last night (so anxious that I could only eat 5 Saltines for supper), and as the time was getting closer, I looked out the window to see the beauty of God's peace floating softly down. I was still nervous, but instead of the thing I was nervous about being the biggest thing in my mind, I decided to focus instead on His promises. And, lo and behold, the thing I was anxious about went just fine. We serve an awesome God that can show all that by sending frozen precipitation down from the sky.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Kyle and Ella sang a special number for our dad's birthday last month. You may want to turn your volume down a bit (it starts out a little loud ;-). Enjoy!
....or at least part of it ;-).
We love you, Kyle and Ella!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Hi everyone! Julie here. You know what I've been loving about God lately? That He loves variety. I mean, look at all the different kinds of people He's created. I love variety. When Mom and I go to the grocery store together, she's gotten used to me lagging behind, reading all the different types of Jello, Hamburger Helper, cake mixes, soups, chocolate chips, yogurts, ice creams, cheeses, and the list goes on. But more than God's awesome variety in His creation, I love His variety in communication, the way He reaches us individually. I love to look for the little things during my day that I know He put there just for me. Things that no one else would notice, or wouldn't care if they did, but that speak personally to me. God knows my love language, and He speaks it perfectly. But not just mine. Everyone's. Talk about variety. Isn't He wonderful?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Hello friends! I (Amy) am in the middle of writing a big paper right now, but wanted to take a quick break to reconnect with the blog world and hopefully to encourage you a bit today. Disclaimer: I did not take the pictures below. I am being lame and posting the "sample pictures" that came with my laptop because I haven't taken any good ones recently, and because these ones are beautiful displays of God's creation ;-). In fact, I recently saw some beautiful yellow flowers like these on a walk with a friend. That counts for something, right?
Lately, life has been pretty crazy around here. We've had a lot to think about and a lot to do. One day I was feeling very overwhelmed and although I kept praying, I did not have peace. I knew that I needed some encouragement from the Word, so I asked God to show me what He wanted me to know that day. I flipped open my Bible to Psalm 34 and read these verses:
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, he delivered me from all my fears.
I realized that sometimes it's my fear of circumstances, rather than the circumstances themselves, that keep me from trusting God and pressing on. The LORD can and will deliver me from those fears if I seek Him.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
If I want my life to be a shining light to those around me, I've got to look to Him for guidance.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
God knows. He knows what I'm going through. He knows about my heartaches, my desires, my confusion, and my yearning for Him. In fact, He knew about those things long before I was even born. And best of all, He cares and He is close.
I could go on, but it'd be better if you open up God's Word and read it for yourself. If you're looking for some encouragement, open up to Psalm 34. Know that we have a compassionate King who provides abundantly for His children.
He knows and He cares.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I (Julie) must admit my serious lack of blogging lately has been largely due to a number of good books I have been reading. Every spare minute I have, I want to cuddle up and lose myself in them. I love books. Love them. So I thought I would share with you some of the ones that have been commanding my attention lately. Book #1: In the '6 Question' post, which actually turned out to be 7 questions, and I didn't even catch it, I mentioned the book ' The Slumber of Christianity' by Ted Dekker. In summary, he challenges us to renew (or begin) our obsession for heaven, the hope to which God has called us. How often we hear someone say, "She's so heavenly minded, she's of no earthly good." This book blows that out of the water, because if we were truly focused on heaven, looking forward to our glorious inheritance, realizing how short our time on this earth was, we would be of more earthly good than anyone living only for this life. I love Ted Dekker's other books (well, most of them. Some of his thrillers are a little scary, and some I haven't even opened because I know I would be scared out of my mind.) He has a way of grabbing the reader, so that you come away breathless. Book #2: 'Revolution in World Missions' by K.P. Yohannen. This book focuses on opening the minds of Western Christians (meaning American, European, Canadian, and Australian basically) to the third wave of missions sweeping Asia. The first wave of missions was the original disciples going out, the second wave began with William Carey and continued through the colonization period of Africa and Asia. This third wave is national believers, specifically in Asia, going to their own villages or those near them to preach the gospel and plant churches. These missionaries often face tremendous opposition and persecution, but they are having an unprecedented impact, winning village after village for Christ. There are many reasons why these missionaries are so effective. We have seen again and again how persecution seems not to stem the growth of Christianity but to act as a catalyst to grow the church. These people are passionate, desperate to reach their countrymen. When a western missionary goes to these countries, despite all their good intentions, they have to battle the belief that they are bringing a "western" religion. These missionaries are coming to people in their own culture, from their own culture. That hurdle doesn't exist. Logistically, these national missionaries can spread the Gospel for a fraction of the cost of a Western missionary. The cost of the plane ticket for an American to go to India is about the amount a national missionary in India needs for a year for food, travel expenses, etc. Their lifestyles are simple; they live just like everybody else around them. National missionaries usually know the local language, or a dialect close to it, already, which saves an enormous amount of time. Basically, after reading this book, I have a new-found admiration and love for these missionaries, and they have been in my prayers a lot. It is so easy to think that we just need more Christians from America or Europe to go to Asia to spread the Gospel, but we really need to be supporting our brothers and sisters who are already there. This book goes hand in hand with Book #3: 'Tortured for Christ' by Richard Wurmbrand, the man who started Voice of the Martyrs. As I read this book, I found myself in tears again and again for my brothers and sisters who gladly give their everything because they know nothing is as precious as knowing Jesus. I appreciated the love the author had for the communists who were the cause of his arrest, imprisonment, and torture. He didn't love the Communism, mind you, but he had an intense love for the people who had been killed spiritually by the brainwashing of the government and a desire to bring them Jesus, who could bring them back to life. All three of these books have helped me to take a step back. It is so easy to get caught up in day to day, in the things that the world tells us are important. When we can focus on what God values instead, the cares of this life seem so trivial on the one hand, but so sweet on the other, because each one is a piece of the plan God has for us, one more thing to draw us to Him. Okay, now we are going to turn to a completely different genre of books for my last good reads. When I was in elementary school, I fell in love with L.M. Montgomery, who wrote the 'Anne of Green Gables' series. I read every book of hers I could get my hands on, and every week, when our class had library time, I would ask the librarian if she had gotten any new L.M. Montgomery books. She was such a wonderful lady, and she would either smile sweetly and say that she hadn't gotten any more, or she would take me into the back room where she had just finished processing a new one and saved it out for me, and give it to me with the joy of knowing she had made my day. It took me a while to realize the author was dead, and she wouldn't be coming out with a stack of books each year. Anyway, it had been years since I read any of them, but I was thinking recently that if I ever have daughters, I hope they would love them like I did. Then I thought, I better read them again to make sure I really want them to. I've been re-reading a three-book series, and I am remembering why I loved them so much in the first place. They are 'Emily of New Moon,' 'Emily Climbs,' and 'Emily's Quest.' They are not Christian books, but to read them as Christian, I always come away feeling so blessed with life, just to wake up each day and see the blessings God has given all around me. So now you can see why I have been a little lacking in the blog-post department lately. I recommend any and all of these books, and I welcome your thoughts on them!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
During our first week of camp staff training this summer, a fellow counselor asked me (Amy) to identify my biggest spiritual weakness. It didn't take long for me to come up with an answer. I knew exactly what I had to say. It's prayer. Independent prayer, to be specific. In fact, I absolutely love to pray with other people. I could do it for hours. But praying by myself is another story. It's really pathetic. I mean, I have a constant invitation to communicate with the Creator of the universe and Savior of my soul. Yet sometimes, when I start to pray, I get distracted and find myself thinking about a thousand other things. Or I can't think of much of anything to pray for. Or I have so many things to pray for, I get overwhelmed and quit before I start. Can you identify? I certainly have no doubts about the power of prayer--I've seen God answer prayers in amazing and miraculous ways! And I have definitely benefited from the time I've spent with God in prayer. Above all, I know that God is glorified by the prayers of His people, and I'm determined not to let my weakness in this area keep me from living a sold-out life to the Lord. I'm determined to learn how to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18) for the glory of God. Slowly but surely, I am learning to love to pray. The Lord is working wonders in my heart and in my life, and I am in awe of the grace He pours out on me. I can't wait to share with you some of the ways He has answered my prayers lately, but I'm going to save those for another post. For now, I want your input. Please take just a moment and answer the following three questions. 1. Do you prefer to pray alone or with others? 2. What advice could you give me (and other readers) about becoming a prayer warrior? 3. What could I pray about for you this week?
Friday, September 24, 2010
Katie and I (Amy) are attempting to do this Q & A interview-style. We'll see how this goes! Amy: Would you say that you are a morning person, a night owl, or something in between? Katie: Probably a morning person, because I get up early. Amy: What is your favorite thing to do with the twins? Katie: Probably play hide-and-seek. I like it when one of them hides and says, "Where are me, Miss Katie?" That's too cute! Amy: What is your favorite chore to do at home? Why? Katie: Probably the laundry, because I can do it by myself. Well, Mom helps me on the washer part, but I do the dryer part myself. Amy: What is your least favorite chore to do at home? Why? Katie: Scooping dog poop, because it's kinda gross. Amy: Which Sunday School class are you taking this semester? Katie: Cults and Religions. It's a fun thing to learn, I guess. About different cultures and stuff like that. Amy: What's your favorite thing to do with our family? Why? Katie: Umm...probably...playing games. Card games, because I like to learn new card games. Amy: What's one thing that God's been teaching you lately? Katie: I'm learning about how to honor God at school every day, like praying at lunch.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thank you Amy, for giving me something to blog about! Here we go. 1. Currently, would you describe yourself as a morning person, a night owl, or something in between? Morning person. I'm usually up at about 5:45 during the week, and weekends I rarely sleep past 8. I feel like so much of the day is wasted when I don't get up and get going. Night owl I am not. 2. What's your favorite thing to do with the twins? Lately, they love to play catch in my room. They will go up on my bed, and I'll be sitting on the floor and we'll throw stuffed animals back and forth. They love to bake, and so we do that quite a bit, and you know how I like that. Our Kitchenaid mixer is a source of endless wonder to them. We also spend a fair amount of time reading cookbooks. Can you guess who they picked that up from? 3. What's your favorite household chore? I don't know if cooking is an easy cop-out, but that would have to be my favorite. Next to that, I like to put groceries away, and washing dishes is quite relaxing. 4. What's your least favorite household chore? Not a big fan of dusting. I don't mind actually doing it, it just seems like it takes so long (especially my room because I have so many little things to dust around) and there are other things I'd rather be doing. 5. Which Sunday School class are you taking this semester? Dad and I are going to a class that is studying the book "How to Read the Bible for all It's Worth." I haven't started the book yet because I didn't sign up early enough, so I won't get it until this week, but I'm really looking forward to it! 6. What is your favorite thing to do as a family? Amy stole one of my answers - watching NCIS. I love our car rides down and back from Bop and Nanny's house, especially before Thanksgiving and Christmas. 7. What's one thing God has been teaching you lately? You had to limit it to one thing, didn't you Amy? Ok, well, after reading the book I mentioned in my last post, I've been learning a lot about the hope of heaven. Not as in, "Oh, I hope I go to heaven when I die," because I know I will, but living each day with the knowledge of what I'm looking forward to influencing everything I do. I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan on heaven, and he said he heard a pastor say once that he wished he could give every Christian a 10-minute look into what hell will be like, because he thought that would make them so fired up (no pun intended) to get out and save the world from what they had seen. Pastor Chan said he would rather give every Christian a 10-minute glance into heaven, for if we could experience, even for a moment, the pure bliss and ecstasy of what's in store for us, we would not be able to return to our lukewarm Christianity that lives for the same goals as the rest of the world. As I read the book, I was struck and convicted about how little I thought of heaven. That is the hope we have been saved for! The knowledge that we have a glorious inheritance should make a difference in our daily lives.
Friday, September 17, 2010
In an attempt to combat our recent blogging writer's block, I (Amy) thought I'd try something that's NEVER, EVER BEEN DONE BEFORE (well, on our blog anyway;-). I'm going to make up a set of six questions that will apply to all of the ladies in my family and see if we can each answer them on our blog this week. Four posts in one week is a pretty lofty goal for us, seeing as how we've been averaging one a week (on a good week ;-). But here goes nothing! I'll start, just to get the ball rolling. Hopefully, our answers to these questions will fill you in on what's happening in our lives. Enjoy!
1. Currently, would you describe yourself as a morning person, a night owl, or something in between? Definitely a night owl! I usually get a second wind sometime around 10:00 at night, at which time I often start on a new school assignment, go for a run, or begin texting one or more of my fellow night owls ;-). For the record, though, I'm working on getting to bed earlier. 2. What's your favorite thing to do with the twins? Oooh, that's a toughie! My very favorite thing to do with them is take them for walks. I love their fascination with simple things like pinecones, sticks, and the drains on the side of the road. It's so fun to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air and exercise together! Here's Kyle collecting leaves on a recent walk with my mom.
Actually, I love to sweep, but since we don't have any floors to sweep in our house, I'll have to say vacuuming or washing dishes. Anything that lets me sing while I work, and that doesn't involve long periods of sitting still ;-) 5. What is your least favorite household chore? Definitely loading the dishwasher! That's a no-brainer for me. For some reason, touching dirty dishes just grosses me out. Yes, I realize that's ridiculous. (My family likes to remind me of that fact.) And I'm getting over it. Really. After all, they're kind of unavoidable. 4. Which Sunday School class are you taking this semester?
I just started a class called "How to Stay Christian in College," and I think it's going to be great! I really appreciate the fellowship and encouragement of people who are facing trials similar to mine, and I think we'll learn a lot from each other this semester. 5. What's your favorite thing to do with your family?
Hmmm...bike rides or watching NCIS...which to choose? They're both good. I just love watching my family laugh together. I love them sooo much!
Below are my sisters and I at my graduation open house. They're the best!
6. What's one thing God's been teaching you lately? Wow! How to pick just one? Lately, I feel like I'm in the middle of a spiritual overhaul. One lesson God keeps bringing me back to is living abundantly in the moment. I'm learning to accept circumstances for what they are and to live fully for my Savior in each and every situation. I haven't been doing a very good job of that lately. My self keeps getting in the way. But I'm praying that God will give me the strength to keep walking toward Him in every step I take.
I wanted to leave you with one final picture, so here's Ella taking time to "stop and smell the roses!"
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I (Julie) ran out of room under my bed for all my books, so my dad helped me put in this great new shelf! Bop gave me all his duplicate Louis L'amour books, so I had to find a place for them, and it works great for part of my salt and pepper shaker collection. I am almost ashamed to start posting again because it has been so long! We have been very busy lately, but in all honesty, I can't say that I haven't had a chance to blog, I just haven't felt that I have that much that is worth posting. But here we go anyway. The most exciting bit of news in my little corner of the world is that I am going back to Poland in February! It will be the same outreach I did last year. The trip will be February 4th-21st and I can hardly wait! So far, I am the only one I know of on the team, but there is still plenty of time for other people to sign up. This bit of news is directly responsible for one reason I have been so busy. I decided a couple weeks ago to do a pie fundraiser for Labor Day at church. I had sign-up sheets out for a couple weeks and people could sign up for the kind of pie (or pies) they wanted. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. We have a great church family that is very supportive of missions (or maybe they just really like pie!) Either way, I sold 57 pies. Yes, 57. We bought 4 lugs of peaches from the Youth for Christ fundraiser, and spent hours blanching, peeling, and chopping peaches. My family was wonderful with this part, especially my dad. He said it was practice for blanching his tomatoes for salsa, and that slicing them was like slicing deer steaks. He averaged 11 slices per peach half, and all 11 were perfectly and evenly sliced. I made up all the peach and apple pies beforehand and froze them. Then this past Saturday, our family and our grandparents who came up for the weekend went to our church and had a pie day. We baked all 29 peach and apple pies, and while those were baking, made 14 blueberry pies and 7 banana-berry pies. I still can't believe we got them all done! For those of you math people who are adding up those numbers and noticing they don't equal 57, I have a couple more to make this week for people who weren't going to be there on Sunday. But that is nothing compared to 50, so they almost don't count. I am so thankful for my family who helped so much on this project! Now that it is done, I can relax again for a while. I think I am going to start planning my Christmas baking today, because, you know, Christmas cookies keep well in the freezer. Awana starts next week, and I will be doing the second book for T & T girls, so at this point, I will only have 3 girls, but there will be more moving up throughout the year. Amy will also be helping with the Sparks, and I am looking forward to having her there too. I just finished reading a phenomenal book called "The Slumber of Christianity." It is written by Ted Dekker, who is one of my favorite authors, but all his books I had read before were fiction, while this was not. I highly, highly recommend it.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Hello friends! Amy here. I wanted to share with you something I've learned a lot about over the past few months. Something the Lord keeps bringing to my mind over and over again. Something I'm horrible at, yet something I'm striving to master. It's a little thing called confession. What do I mean when I use that term? First, let me explain what I don't mean. I am not talking about anonymously telling a priest my wrongdoings in order to receive my punishment and relieve my guilt. I am also not talking about playing Truth or Dare with friends in order to shock them with stories of things I've done or make them laugh about things I've said. In fact, in this post, I'm not even going to talk about confessing my sins to my Savior, although that is certainly a most important aspect of confession. Tonight, I'm talking about the biblical command to "confess your sins to one another and pray for each other" found in James 5:16. But in addition to confessing sin, I'm talking about confessing weaknesses, struggles, and areas of strong temptation. In all honesty, confession in itself is one of my biggest weaknesses. I hate admitting that I've done something wrong. I hate being the first to say I'm sorry. I have a really hard time being vulnerable with people and letting them in on my weaknesses. Yet recently, I worked up the courage to admit a struggle in my life to a friend who was facing a similar problem. To my surprise (and horror), she replied, "I'm really glad you told me that. I was afraid to talk to you about stuff like this because you seem to have it all together." I was shocked to think that my guardedness had prevented us from drawing closer as sisters in Christ, and thankful that the Holy Spirit had moved me to be honest with her in that situation. And I certainly don't "have it all together." The Lord has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams, and has brought me closer and closer to Him since the day I first gave Him my life. Yet there are many things I need to change. Many worries I need to give over to Him. Many desires that pull me away from my Master. I wonder how many times my refusal to confess has driven people away from me. Yet even more than that, I wonder how many times it has driven me away from the One who yearns to be my closest Friend. You see, I left out the most beautiful part of James 5:16. The verse says "confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed." There is such freedom and encouragement in being accountable to one another, in giving up sins and strongholds we have long kept hidden, and in praying for forgiveness and strength to conquer those strongholds. I am praying that God will give me wisdom in knowing when, how, and to whom to confess my sins and struggles, and I would encourage each of you to do the same. After all, there is much healing to be had! God bless you, dear friends, as you seek to honor Him in all you do.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We are the champions, my friends! That's right! The EFC Men's Softball team pulled it off to take the 2010 church league title! We are so excited!
After remaining undefeated throughout the season, a championship game was scheduled for Monday night. The playoffs were double elimination, so the opposing team would have had to beat our team twice in order to take the title.
To our horror, the opposing team won the first game and snatched our undefeated title. As the second game began, the tension was high, and nearly 75 fans were at the edge of their seats. Needless to say, the guys pushed through to the end and took the trophy. There was much cheering, and (of course) much ice cream after the game! A wonderful end to a wonderful season!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Our dad plays on our church softball team and has for many years. Their games are on Tuesday nights, and we used to go to the Dairy Queen after every game for a treat (players and fans!). However, our parents decided a couple years ago that was too much to spend every week. But we still had to have our ice cream. So they decided that we would just invite the team and fans over to our house after the games, and we would have our own Dairy Queen. We ask people to chip in a dollar per bowl to cover the cost of ice cream and toppings. This is a picture of our spread last night, minus a couple things we hadn't put out yet. I'll see if I can remember everything. Starting in the left corner, we had: Thin Mints, Whoppers, M & M's, Butterfinger, mom's homemade granola, pecans, coconut, peanuts, Oreos, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, brownies, bananas, butterscotch chips, almonds, strawberry-raspberry-rhubarb sauce, raspberries, pineapple, strawberries, chocolate malt powder, chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, caramel sauce, butterscotch syrup, and I think I'm forgetting a couple things, but that about covers it! At first, I wasn't thrilled with skipping Dairy Queen, but now I think our selection is much better, and the thing I like most is the fellowship. When we would go to Dairy Queen, not as many players and fans would come, and people would pretty much just eat their ice cream and leave, and it wasn't very easy to visit with a lot of people there. At our house, most of the team and fans come, and people will often stay for 1 or 2 hours, and it is such a delight to visit with everyone. (***Note: our team is currently undefeated on the season. The championship game was supposed to be last night, but it got rained out, so Monday is the big night. Way to go guys!***)
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Hello everyone! Amy here. Wow, this summer is flying by fast! I hope you have enjoyed the warm weather as much as I have. I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on what's coming up next in my life. As most of you know, I have been counseling at a Bible camp this summer and have been richly blessed with new friendships, opportunities to minister, and tons of time in God's great outdoors. I am so thankful for what the Lord has done in my life over the past two months. This week I have spent some time at home, catching up on emails, school papers, blogs, bike rides ;-), and meetings, while enjoying time with friends and family. I am also recovering from strep throat. I slept for more than thirteen hours yesterday (more than twice the amount of sleep I get in the average night at camp)!
On Sunday morning, I will head back to camp for a whole new adventure. In fact, we're calling it Adventure Camp! We will be bringing a group of Native American children to camp for a week of outdoor fun, Bible teaching, testimonies, and relationship building. I can hardly wait! I have worked with this ministry before and have seen God work in incredible ways in the hearts of the campers. However, ministering to so many children from such diverse backgrounds can be very challenging. We as a staff team will be fighting some very real spiritual battles and making tough decisions as we strive to empower these children with the hope of Christ. Please pray for us!
1.) Pray that God will be preparing the hearts and minds of the campers to hear and understand the truth of His Word.
2.) Pray that the Lord will give our staff team wisdom and discernment as we plan activities and chapel times for the campers.
3.) Pray that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can show the campers the love and peace found only in Jesus Christ.
4.) Ask God to provide the finances needed to fund this camp.
5.) Pray for health and safety for campers and staff alike.
6.)Please pray that God will do mighty works at Adventure Camp!
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Before I sign off, I want to encourage you with something the Lord has been teaching me this summer:
Sometimes the tasks set before us seem daunting--even impossible. Sometimes we see Satan's fingerprints all over a situation and feel like it's hopeless and we might as well give up. Sometimes we're just too tired and drained to even care anymore. Sometimes we find that it hurts too much to love those who don't love us in return, and everything in us wants to strike back.
In those times, remember that we serve a God who delights in giving us beauty for ashes. He can take the most broken situation and change it into a testimony of His power. He can melt hearts of stone and redeem them for His kingdom's work. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. He will never call us to do something without giving us the strength to see it through.
Take heart, my friends! We serve a mighty God!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Today is my (Julie's) 20th birthday, and drawing on my years of knowledge and experience, I thought I would share a couple lessons I have learned over the years.
- Running on ice is not a good idea.
- Remember that in Europe, they use triangles and circles to designate men's and women's restrooms, not the easily understandable pictures of a boy and girl. It is good to know which one you belong in, or else you are in danger of walking into the wrong one. If that happens, you can only hope that there is no one in there, or at least that they understand you are American and have no idea which one is which.
- Not all churches use grape juice for communion like ours. Be aware that if you are not used to real wine, it can make you dizzy, tired, and sick.
- Leaving a piece of watermelon gum in your pocket and washing your jeans makes a mess in the dryer, but it does make it smell very summery.
- When you bring a plate of cookies or bars to a place where guys work, don't expect leftovers.
- The whole 'don't lick a flagpole in the winter' thing - it's true.
Monday, July 19, 2010
This past weekend, we were on the campaign trail, visiting a couple fairs in the Twin Cities area, and so we stayed at Bop and Nanny's house on Friday night. They gave me my birthday present early, and look at the cute salt and pepper shaker set they found:It will look so cute with all my other ones! Thanks, Bop and Nanny!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I found a song a couple days ago on YouTube that has been making me want to dance and clap ever since. It's the David Crowder Band's rendition of "I Saw the Light." I loved the song anyway, but their version is just so much fun to listen to. Songs like that make me overflow joy in my Savior! If you need a day-brightener, or even if your day is fantastic already, this is a song you must hear!
Monday, July 12, 2010
Ever since I started working at Kal's (more than two years ago now - wow!), I've gotten a lot of people asking me, "What exactly do you do there?" So I thought it was high time I gave you a little glimpse into my day. I usually start with a cup of half cappuccino, half hot chocolate. Dad has coffee, but I guess I'm not old enough yet. :-) This is my desk. I had to add my own personal touch. I'm not the secretary, but I do some filing. Technically, you could probably call me a salesperson, since I'm usually the first person to help a customer who comes in the door. I can do most of the sales, but some of it is far over my head, and that's when I'm thankful I have my dad to help me out! When I first started, the hardest thing to learn was the computer system. Most stores have a bar code system and they just have to scan the item and the computer takes care of the rest. Because there is no practical way we could scan everything we sell (lots of it wouldn't fit in the store!), we have to enter the number in the computer, which means we have to know the number. Some of the numbers (called sku's), are simple. For instance, the sku for a 2x4-8' board is 248. Those ones I picked up quickly. Some are a little harder, like 16 penny sinker nails are 16DCC. Ok, those aren't too hard. Some are hard, like a certain box of nails is NA33314RG. Those ones all have some sort of reasoning behind them, and can be figured out. Then there are the things that have no rhyme or reason behind them and are just a number on the item. Most of the little things inside are this way. These are easy and hard, because you don't have to remember the sku, just type it in, but sometimes there are 4 or 5 different numbers on the package, and you have to figure out which one is the right one. Then there are the wonderful ones whose numbers have changed and we haven't changed them in the computer yet. To top it all off, there are about 6,000 sku's in our computer. I remember getting so frustrated trying to learn all that I needed to know to be able to do things on my own, but also feeling so proud when I could finally do it! Mostly I work inside. Keeping the caulking shelves full is one of my jobs. I do go outside to load customers up sometimes, if it is a small load, or if everyone else is busy. I finally know my way around the yard well enough so I can almost always at least tell people where something is, even if it is too heavy for me to load up for them. Since a lot of the customers are contractors that I have gotten to know well, they are very obliging and don't mind lifting the heavy things in themselves. The other part of my job is cleaning. I spend a lot of time with that broom. Along with sweeping, I clean the bathroom, which isn't bad at all, because, as you can see, it is not very big! I bring something for Dad's lunch almost everyday. We have a couple George Foreman grills in the backroom on the workbench that I use frequently. After lunch, I wash the dishes in that plastic tub there. I also do some deliveries, if they are small, or if we are really busy. I can't drive the two-ton truck because I don't have my CDL (which is fine by me because I would be scared to death to try to back that thing up!), but I can drive the one-ton truck, and sometimes I take things out in my dad's truck. Otherwise, for deliveries, I get the inside stuff ready to go. This includes nails/screws, caulking, joist hangars, etc. We send nails out in paper bags, and I have these cute little smiley face stickers I put on the bags. They embarrass Ogema, our delivery guy, to no end, but he's a good sport. I really have to say I love working here. It is certainly not where I pictured myself ever working, and sometimes I'm amazed that God helped me stick with it long enough to learn to love it. I am so thankful for many of the contractors that come in, and the time I have here with my dad is irreplaceable. There. Now you have an idea of what I do during the day!