Friday, December 28, 2012

Then Our Mouths were Filled with...

     I'm not sure if anyone still reads this woefully neglected blog of ours, but I've got some things on my heart that I need to put on (virtual) paper. If they end up being just between God and me, my prayer is that they will bless His heart.  And if you're not God, but you happen to come across this post and take the time to read it, please leave a comment so I know you stopped by :).  Nearly two weeks ago, I turned in my very last college paper.  Another chapter in my life is done.  As I look back at the years I spent working toward my degree, I am so humbled by God's faithfulness and provision. 

     Too often I get caught up in the stresses of life and forget to share the good things God has done.  I use up my words complaining about things that aren't going my way, and I neglect to pray.  Complaining is so much easier than praying.  But I'm done with easy.  So today I want to share with you something that God did last year when I took the time to pray.

     It was a typical day at the office.  I was working as a student office assistant in the Human Resources department at my college and was manning a variety of ordinary tasks, such as filing contracts, stapling forms, replying to emails, and answering several phone lines.  To the people walking by my desk, I'm sure I looked quite peaceful.  But on the inside, my stomach was in knots and I was overwhelmed with stress.  I was taking some of the toughest classes of my college career, and the homework load was intense.  I was also dealing with a variety of tough issues in several relationships in my life, and was feeling inadequate and helpless.  At the same time, I had to begin to plan and prepare for the coming semester.  I had already registered for classes, but was beginning to doubt whether I would actually be able to take them.  You see, money was tight, and paying for both textbooks and tuition seemed nearly impossible.  I knew I needed to take on another part-time job in order to cover my costs, but hadn't the foggiest idea how I would find time to job search.  Plus, I only had time to work about six more hours a week, and who in the world would want to hire someone for such a small amount of time?

As I sat at my desk that morning, I began to silently pour my heart out to God.  I don't remember exactly what I prayed, but it was something along the lines of, "God, I'm overwhelmed.  I believe You have me here for a reason, and I want to see this through, but it feels impossible right now.  Lord, You know my need.  Please help me to find another part-time job to fill in those extra six hours in my work schedule and to provide the finances I need for next semester.  Amen."

When I finished praying, I continued to work, still feeling stressed and frustrated.  About twenty minutes later, a woman I barely recognized from another office walked up to my desk.  "Hi," she said.  "I know you don't really know me, but I was just wondering if you'd like another part-time job for next semester.  I only need someone for about six hours a week."

Being the incredibly eloquent collegiate that I was, I replied, "Are you serious?"  She assured me that she was, indeed, serious.  With tears welling up in my eyes, I took the job on the spot.  My God is good.  He is Jehovah Jireh:  "God Our Provider."

If we want the world to know our God, let us not be silent about His loving acts.  Remember that the nations noticed when the people of Israel rejoiced in the goodness of their God.  They wrote,

  "Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy."
Psalm 126: 2 & 3
Oh, that the nations would hear our praises and know the greatness of our God!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No, We Haven't Moved to Timbuktu...

Hey everyone!  Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  I'm afraid this one won't be real long, either, but I'm hoping to give y'all a quick update.  Things are going well here in the Guntzel household.  Life is busy, as always, and full of hard work and good fun!  I (Amy) am student teaching at an elementary school, and loving the experience!  Each day I find myself more amazed at just how much teachers must know and do.  The work is tiring, but the kids' excitement makes it so worthwhile.  Please pray for me as I take on more teaching responsibilities in the coming weeks.  Thanks and have a wonderful week.  Hopefully we'll be able to post a more thorough update soon!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Food Adventures

 In the past couple months, I've probably gone to more new restaurants and tried more new foods than I ever have in a year before.  Most of the time, I'm not very adventurous in what I order, but I've had some interesting and delicious dishes.
 The Wilde Roast is an elegant, almost European feeling, restaurant/cafe on the river in Minneapolis.  Their creme brulee French toast is very tasty!
This was the biggest stretch for me - Thai food.  The Pad Thai was probably not my favorite of the new dishes, and I probably wouldn't ever specifically request having it again if I got to choose, but at least now I know there's something I like at Thai restaurants.
I'm not too picky when it comes to pancakes, but this one was exceptional.  We went to a cute, modern downtown style restaurant called Moose and Sally's, and I ordered the orange ricotta pancake.  The cake itself was had a refreshing orange flavor and the ricotta cheese made it so moist.  It was served with chopped pistachios and a rhubarb sauce on top - I definitely would never have expected all those flavors to go so well together!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thoughts for a Rainy Day...

Today is a rainy day.  If you're like me (Amy), you may need a little extra hope to thrive on days like this one.  I found some encouragement in the book of Job today, and wanted to share it with you.  Keep in mind that Job said these words after he'd lost everything except his wife and his life, and he was only hanging on to those by a thread.  His life was hanging in the balance due to some really nasty health conditions, so his wife was repulsed by him and told him to curse God and die.  Job was having a very rainy day, which ended up dragging on for many more days.  But he clung to the Truth that transcended his feelings and circumstances, and said,

"I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him

with my own eyes—I, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!"

(Job 19: 25-27, emphasis mine) 

Cling to this Truth, my friends!  No amount of rain can wash it away.

Friday, May 4, 2012


How extreme are you willing to be?  How far will you go to obey God?  Those are the questions that I (Amy) have been asking myself lately.  I think about Noah building an ark in a land that had never seen rain.  I think about Esther marrying a king she didn't love (or know, for that matter). I think about little David standing before a giant with just a few small stones.  All because God said so.

And then I think, "Would I be willing?"  Granted, God probably won't ask me to build an ark or marry a king or kill a giant with a rock.  But what if He asked me to move to a foreign country, or quit working on the degree I'm just a few months away from earning, or stay single for the rest of my life?  Disclaimer: So far, God has not asked me to do any of those things, and I sure wouldn't choose to do any of them on my own.  But if He asked, would I be willing? 


Not because I have no dreams for my own life or because I have an amazing gift of understanding God's plans before they unfold.  But because I've followed God far enough to know that His plans are so much better than my dreams, and the peace that comes from walking with Him truly does surpass my understanding.

Like Jesus said, though, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  So I'm praying, "Lord, help me to obey you in the small things each day.  Help me to listen for Your still, small voice.  And help me to obey in the big things when Your voice is loud and clear.  I've tasted and I've seen that You are worth it, and I want to follow You. Amen."

What's God asking You to do today?  Are you willing?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Great Aunt Vi and Graciousness

This past weekend, I (Julie) had the privilege of meeting Brandon's great aunt Vi. Even though I only was with her for about a half hour total, I was struck with the graciousness she extended to me from the very beginning. I was greeted with a welcoming hug and immediately invited in to see family pictures; of course, I don't remember who was in all of them, but to me it meant that she wanted me to feel at home, like I should know who all these people were smiling at me. Our visit mostly centered around what each of us had done that day, sharing the way our family shares at the supper table. As we prepared to leave, I felt like I had been there for much longer than a half hour, like in that little window of time, we had passed by the trivial small talk and enjoyed each other's company. Such graciousness as this is a true picture of the acceptance we can find as children of God. Vi did not put me through a rigorous test to find out if I was worthy of her time, she did not ask to see my credentials, she did not demand anything of me. By believing in the blood of Jesus, we are welcomed into the Father's arms by no merit of our own. I pray that I can show others in my life this same graciousness.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spring Break!

My (Amy's) Spring Break starts this Saturday. On Sunday, my grandparents are flying my cousin Thom and I down to Arizona to stay with them for a week. I can't wait! Unfortunately, some of my professors decided Spring Break would be a great time to load on the homework. Oh, well! Hopefully doing that homework out in the sunshine surrounded by mountains and wildlife will give me some inspiration and I'll be able to get it done fast :-). My goal is to get outside as much as possible and get lots of exercise! I'm also hoping to get some reading done on the plane. That hasn't really happened in the past, though, so I'm not getting my hopes up. I enjoy people-watching too much to really focus on books in airplanes, I think. Right now, I'm reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan for the Bible Study I'm in. If you haven't read it yet, I'd encourage you to check out a copy. I probably won't be blogging until after I get back, but maybe I can talk Julie into posting something. Happy March everyone!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

  • Birthdays. I (Amy) had one recently, and I had a blast celebrating with friends and family.
  • Road trips. Two weekends ago, I went with a dear friend to the Cities to visit some other dear friends at college. We had good food, good talks, and good fellowship. Last weekend, I went with 19 other friends to Duluth for a fun weekend away. It was exhausting and refreshing all at the same time.
  • Coffee shops. I went to one last night with my friend Eliza. The cozy atmosphere, encouraging conversation, and caffeine buzz were just what I needed in this busy week.
  • Good down-home music. Right now Alan Jackson's "Are You Washed in the Blood?" is playing on my Pandora.
  • My family. (For the record, this list is in no particular order ;-). I love coming home at night to a warm house full of people who love me.
  • My Jesus. His mercies are new every morning, and His answers to prayer never cease to amaze me.

I hope you all are having a wonderful February. I can't believe it's almost over already! May God bless you and keep you as you seek His face today.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On February, Finances, and the Finer Things in Life

  • In case you missed the memo, tomorrow is the first day of February--one of my (Amy's) favorite months of the year. Might have something to do with the fact that my birthday, my mom's birthday, and Valentine's Day all fall in February. I have to admit: I have a weakness for all things Valentiney. I mean, when else can you pair bright red with light pink and get away with it? I also like that February is short, which makes March come faster, which means Spring Break is on its way, right?
  • A few weeks ago, I finished reading Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover." I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the basics of financial security. I was inspired to be more purposeful in how I'm spending the money God entrusts to me. My first step was to estimate my income for the month of January. Then I wrote up a plan for how I would offer, save, and spend that money. I committed to writing down everything I bought and how much it cost. I also kept track of everything I earned. The process was really eye-opening. It was empowering to set limits for myself in each spending category and to know I would say no to further spending once I hit those limits. I'm definitely planning to keep it up!
  • This time of year, I usually start to experience the winter doldrums. Life takes on a monotonously stressful feel as homework and scholarship applications pile up. The pressure to figure out my summer plans and register for fall classes hits hard. It's tempting to let the stress rob me of my peace, and Lord knows I've done that a few times this week. But when I really stop to think about it, I have so much to rejoice in. I could write pages on that, but I have to get back to the aforementioned homework soon, so here are just a few things I'm thankful for right now :-): 1. Friends in my classes who love God and encourage me in my faith. 2. Opportunities to share our faith in those classes. 3. A new small-group Bible study to challenge me. 4. Some fun Young Adult Group events to look forward to this month.
  • And today, I'm thankful for a jealous God who gives me peace only when I seek His face. I can't wander far before He breaks me and draws me back to HIm. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Life through the Eyes...

...of preschoolers. Kyle and Ella came yesterday. They're four now. Hard to believe. They are growing like weeds, and their personalities are so much fun! Here are some talks we had throughout the day. They make me smile. Conversation 1-- Background info.: My mom had set out two kids' books for the twins, both of which we'd read to them many times before. Kyle took one look at them, and the following conversation ensued. Kyle: Don't you guys have any other books? Amy: (giggles) Sure. Do you wanna come downstairs and find some with me? Kyle: Yeah! Amy: (walking down the stairs with Kyle) Hey, let's go in my room! I have some new books in there. Kyle: (hesitates) Are they the reading kind? Conversation 2-- Ella: (looking at the large floral arrangement in our dining room) Where did you get those flowers? Amy: Someone left them at our church after a funeral, because they had so many flowers. Have you ever been to a funeral? Ella: Yeah. We been to Uncle Al's funeral. We went to the church. And we went to the funeral house. That's where lots of people die. Conversation 3-- Kyle: Amy, do you play your guitar at your church? Amy: Yep, and I sing there too. Kyle: Does Julie sing with you at your church? Amy: Nope. Kyle: Why doesn't she? Amy: Well, she doesn't like to sing in front of people. Kyle: Does she like to sing in back of people?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It Did!

Well, I asked for snow, and I got it! It snowed almost all day on New Year's Eve, and it was beautiful! I (Amy) have been on break from school for 2 1/2 weeks now, and it has been wonderful. So good to have time to relax with family, read books I actually want to read, reconnect with friends home on break, and reorganize my room. I've been working nearly every weekday, but even that has been pretty relaxing, since both offices I work in are pretty quiet during the break. We enjoyed a very nice Christmas with my dad's side of the family. Christmases at Bop and Nanny's house are always full of love, laughter, and lots of yummy food! We played a lot of games this year, and went for some nice long walks to get some exercise. Thanks, Bop and Nanny, for hosting us and for making every Christmas memorable. We love you bunches! So far, the New Year has been A. MA. ZING. Dad and Julie had to work New Year's Eve, and Mom had been invited to another party, so Katie and I started the year off right by hosting a party for young adults at our house. We played games, laughed a lot, and toasted with sparkling cider at midnight. Then a few friends stayed and talked into the wee hours of the morning. After everyone was gone, and my family had all come home and gone to bed, I stood over a sink full of soapy water and dishes. My eyelids were drooping, my feet were sore, and there was much cleaning to be done, but I had a big smile on my face. As I thought about each friend who had come to celebrate with us, I realized once again just how blessed I am. This year, like the last, will hold trials. At times, there will be worries, misunderstandings, sorrows, anger, and tears. There will be days when we feel like giving up. But for those of us who are in Christ, there will also be love. There will be peace. And hope. And unspeakable joy. Despite the hardships inherent to life in this fallen world, it will be a happy New Year, for "happy is that people whose God is the LORD." (Psalm 144:15)