Psalm 45:10-11, 13-15

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take heart to what I say. Forget your people and your homeland far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [...] The bride, a princess, waits within her chambers, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!



Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I thought this was a good analogy for sin:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When the Romeros got Sally as a family pet, she was one foot long. Eight years later, Sally had grown to eleven and a half feet. She weighed eighty pounds. Sally, the family pet, was a Burmese python. On July 20, 1993, she attacked fifteen-year-old Derek, strangling the teenager until he suffocated to death. The creature that had seemed so harmless was exposed as a deadly beast.
It reminds me of sin. It seems so harmless at first. It may play with us, sleep with us, or amuse us. But its nature never changes. The book of James tells us that “sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death.”
Do you have some pet sin in your life? The best way to protect yourself is to confess it to God and turn from it. Remember: Sin will always rise up and devour those who befriend it.
With Seeking Him, I'm Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Source: http://www.seekinghim.com/radio/today.php

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Flowers, flowers everywhere!

Here are some flower pictures:

Joe's boutonniere
(the father's will be the same, except with a yellow rose)

Groomsmen boutonniere


An example of the mother's & grandmother's

(It's a little rough, the flowers were almost 5 days old by this time.)








Banquet Table Centerpiece



Banquet Table Centerpiece (expanded)





Aisle Decor


Aisle Decor (up-close)



Jessica's bouqet





Maddie with the bridesmaid bouqets





An up-close picture






Round Table Centerpiece - Variation 1



Round Table Centerpiece - Variation 2



Round Table Centerpiece - Variation 3

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bridal Shower Pictures!

Here are some pictures from my bridal shower last Saturday. The theme was a tea party and the ladies did such a wonderful job with it!



A surprise serenade from Robbie, a friend of mine's son.

This is Ann, my other matron-of-honor.



My mom and I






Gathering to pray



(the lady in the pink on the left is Karen, my soon to be sister-in-law & matron of honor)






(The lady on the right is Grandma Bernie, Joe's grandma.)






Me, my mom, & my sister























This is crazy...

China treats Internet ‘addicts’ sternly
Leaders see ‘a grave social problem’; treatment includes electric shocks

Read article here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17251571/

While there's some truth to the fact that the Internet is addicting, some of these measures are too far.




(Oh, bridal shower pictures today!)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tomorrow I plan to post some pictures from my bridal shower on Saturday and pictures of what the flowers (table decor & bouqets) will look like.

Stay tuned...

Valentine's Day

I just wanted to share with you some pictures from our Valentine's Day. I was running late for work that day and as I walked out of my front door on my door mat was a single pink rose and a poem. I didn't get to read it until I got in the car, but it was so cute. It definitely put a smile on my face.

Then as I got in my car to go home from work there was another single pink rose with a note that said there was a "warm treat and an open heart" awaiting for me at my apartment along with yet another poem.

When I got home Joe had made snickerdoodle cookies for me and a bouqet of flowers. He's becoming quite the cook lately, and the cookies were definitely tasty. We then went to an early dinner at Claim Jumper. (We've been trying happy hour at different restaurants since appeztizers are usually 1/2 off and big enough to be a meal.) Then we went onto youth group and finished our evening there. When I went to bed there was a final poem sitting by my alarm clock. Joe's so sweet and so good to me. He's quite creative too! Each poem was an acrostic that spelled out the word "love"!

Here's some pictures from our day:

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Proverbs 31

My favorite podcast to listen to is Revive our Hearts with Nancy Leigh Demoss. I download the podcast from iTunes onto my iPod a few times a week and listen to it on my breaks, driving, etc. I really find it encouraging, edifying, heartfelt, and Biblicaly sound.

All this to say that Nancy is just starting a new series on Proverbs 31 called The Counter-Cultural Woman starting from the beginning of the chapter, which is rare on a study of Proverbs 31, going verse by verse. I just encourage you to listen along as Nancy talks about this chapter that is so important to women, no matter their position or station in life.

I plan to study it along with her. Look for some of my highlights at the end of the week.



You can read the transcripts from the series online:

from Monday, The Most Important Lesson - http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9461

from Tuesday, Teaching by Example - http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9462

from Wednesday, A Biblical View of Womanhood - http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9463

You can also subscribe to the podcast here: http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/podcast.php

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Your kingdom come...

Something really awesome happened at church today. But before I get there, I need to back track in our church history.

A little over ten years ago, God really struck the heart of our pastor with His glory. Not simply just with the "to God be the glory" or "do everything for the glory of God," but with a passion that God's utmost passion is His own glory, thus our utmost passion should be God's glory. Since that time that vision of God's glory has driven our church. Our vision statement is
"Spreading a passion for God's glory for our homes to all peoples of the earth."

Part of spreading a passion for God's glory was to be a sending church, to have a missions focus, because isn't that really what God's kingdom is about? So, our church adopted an unreached people group named the Meitei's in a region in northern India called Manipur. That was ten years ago, since that time numerous teams have traveled to Manipur. This past fall we were blessed to no longer be able to call the Meitei's an unreached people group! They now have an established church that is sending natives to be missionaries to those that are still lost among their people. It's amazing!

Since our vision still stands to spread a passion for God's glory, our pastor and elders have been praying about what people group to adopt next. I was so excited when Pastor Joe started speaking this morning. He hadn't given a real hint that this was what was going to happen, but I leaned over to Joe and whispered, "We're getting a new people group!"

So, without further ado...New Hope Church has adopted TWO unreached people groups: the Oromo people of Ethopia and a people group in Turkmenistan. The Oromo , who make up about 40% of the country's population, live in S Ethiopia and are predominantly Muslim. There's more I'd love to say about them, because we had a pastor from Ethopia (a native) who in his years of ministry has planted more than a 1,000 churches in Ethopia. However, this area where the Oromo live have been off limits to an extent, because the Oromo are Muslim and have serverly perscuted the Ethopian Christians who have come to witness. Yet, when a group of Americans came on a missions trip the people came in hoards to see what they brought. Some even thanked them for bringing the Good News. It's interesting to see how God has blesses us to be Americans. He has opened a door for us to witness and be a part of His kingdom work by allowing us into this region when the natives can't even get in!

God has so blessed our church in being able to be involved in His missions work. We have families, individuals, and teams in our church who serve the Lord in Belize, Ukraine, Lithiunia, Jordan, Sudan, India, Azerbaijan, Ethopia, Uganda, and other countries in Central Asia.

I need to go to bed, but here are some verses that I wanted to leave you with:

Revelation 7:9-12

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count,
from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
"Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever Amen."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wedding Countdown: 35 days

Well, the countdown is on! Only 35 days until Joe and I are married. Yeah! This is actually the first time since we've been engaged that I've counted the days. Sometimes it feels like it's coming so quick, and yet so far away...but all in good timing.

We sent our invitations out last Saturday and everyday this past week (starting on Monday) we've received RSVP cards, which has been fun. We've been lining them up as we get them.

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Which makes me think, I should post a picture of our invitation too. We've been really blessed with all our wedding plans. A couple at our church have their own invitation business (www.divineink.com) they do from home and they gave us a $500 gift certificate for invitations, which was great. The Lord really has been blessing us in this process. Another lady in our church is making our cake (or rather cupcakes!) for free, because she's seen Joe grow up and was on staff at the church with his dad and friends with his mom. Of course, since we're having the wedding at the church we're not having to pay for tables, chairs, or a facility fee. We really are only having to pay for flowers, linens, some decorations, and my bridal attire.

For the most part, I'm having a good time. There are definitely ups and downs of planning a wedding. It definitely takes a lot of work when you're doing it without a planner and with lots of crafty projects, but I enjoy those things. I just have to learn moderation. My mom gave me some pretty good, but hard advice on that this week, "If it's causing you stress or anxiety, then you don't need it." My first response wanted to be "But, but...you don't understand. It has to look...xyz." I know it doesn't but it's that dream of what you're wedding will look like and trying to work toward that. It's especially hard (at least for me) to have wanted an outside wedding and our church sanctuary is basically a carpeted gym with a nice looking stage. Anyways...so the wedding countdown is on...

My bridal shower is this Saturday too, yeah! My mom and sister will be coming out. It should be fun. Hopefully, I'll do better with posting pictures and keeping you up to date on the wedding plans.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Everyone Wants to be a...

princess.

Working with children I am privy to the thoughts of three, four, and five-year-olds. It's always interesting to hear their thought process and reasoning. Sometimes even a blessing. Let me share with you what I learned yesterday.

I was working with a little three-year-old girl, Maddi (the littlest angel), and she just started talking about seemingly random things.

"Jesus loves me and God does too."

"You're right. Did you know that they're the same person?" I said.

"Uh huh," was her reply.

"Next year I taking swimming classes. My brother, Alex, him too. And I'll wear my swimming suit. And Alex he'll wear his swimming shorts. Mmhm."

"When I grow up I want to be a princess."

"Oh yeah, which princess do you like the most?"

"Cindrella."

"Why do you like Cinderella?"

"Because she's beautiful."

"What makes her beautiful, Maddi?"

"I don't know. She's just pretty." I think she might have mentioned something about her shiny dress. At this time another Jade, a four-year-old, piped up from across the room and said Cinderella was her favorite princess too. When I asked her why she also said, "Because she's beatiful." I asked Jade why she thought Cinderella was beautiful, "Because she's got shiny shoes."

(This is where it gets really cute.)

"I'm going to be a princess when I grow up."

"Oh yeah."

"Yeah, Jesus is going to make me a princess when I grown-up."

"Maddi, Jesus can make you a princess now."

To which she replied, "Yeah, when I grow-up I'll be a princess."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
That night at youth group, we doing an exercise on sharing our testimonies with the kids and having them share theirs in preparation for Mission Trip to Your Friends which kicks off Friday. After I shared my testimony one of my junior highers started to share hers. She was a bit nervous and didn't know where to start. We've been talking with the kids about when we share Christ to share out of our personal lives and how Christ has changed us, because ultimately when people hear and then see what Christ has done for us they'll be moved. Sharing a personal Christ is more powerful than simply sharing "Jesus died for you. Repent and be saved." Anyways, that's another topic for another day.
As she started sharing she began to cry. She was sharing how there are parental expectations on her (in regard to school) and that when she doesn't meet them she feels like she disappoints them and then turns inward on herself. She admitted to wanting to please people and is sad when she doesn't. She shared more, but in essence she struggles with her self-worth and identity.
She was wearing a shirt that said "I am a princess! My Father is the King of kings." I had her read her shirt to me and asked her if she believed that. She said yes. I asked her what she thought a princess was and she told me a princess was someone who was always happy and everything went right for her. I told her that a princess doesn't always have everything together. She's not always happy and things don't always go right, but she is confident in her position that the Father has given her. A princess knows where she stands, she knows her position in the Lord and is confident. We continued to talk and I had the opportunity to share with her more of my personal testimony and how Jesus began to reveal to me all the imagery in the Bible that refers to being a princess and that relationship with the Lord as Father and Jesus as our Beloved. It's powerful, and I believe every girl wants to be a princess.
Just like my junior higher, she didn't feel like a princess but she yearns to be that princess. I'm convinced that God planned things this way. That he put within us that desire to be loved, cherished, desired, beautiful, happy, and fulfilled. He placed that desire in our hearts from a very young age, just like Maddi and Jade, and events occur in our lives that taint the realization of our position as princesses. But the Lord knows, that desire is still within us, but it can only come to completion within Him.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Glow of Beauty

Theres’s a thing that happens with little girls and women that turn them into something else entirely. I’ve seen it before, but I did not know how quickly the transformation occurs and how consistent the affect is among little girls and women.

I noticed it so dramatically two weeks before Christmas as I was trying costumes on the children for our school Christmas play. I had pulled Michelle, one of our older children, aside, try on Mary’s costume since the little girl who played Mary was absent and the two girls were similar heights. Michelle thought it was pretty, not the traditional sky blue we had used the year before. It wasn’t until I pulled out a long pink sheer scarf and began to drape it over her head, across her chest and tied it around her waist that the transformation occurred. Her little eyes grew smaller as her smile grew wider. She tilted her head in an all too natural way as her rosy cheeks turned just a shade darker. As I sat back I could see, she felt beautiful. Her face glowed, her mouth let out a little giggle and this little woman who is so precious felt beautiful. How such a little thing could change her countenance! A pink scarf. I knew I couldn’t take it away from her now.

I asked her, “Do you feel pretty?” She shyly nodded.

“You look beautiful. Do you want to wear this?” She nodded. “Okay, this will be your costume.”
It’s interesting how from so very young we crave beauty—in the things we make, how we act, and the way we look. Yet, because of the fall and our own sin we rarely see the glimpses of beauty and even less so do we feel it. We’ve littered our days with ways to make ourselves and our environments attractive—from throw pillows to hairstyles to how we place dinner on the table.

I can’t help but think that Michelle felt a taste of the Father’s love in those moments. He was lavishing [on] her. The beauty that He put in her when he originally made her. It is a magical and mysterious transformation.

A few days later it happened again with our youngest little angel. I was having the children try on their costumes so I could adjust the length. I had just finished with one angel when the bell rang to clean up and go outside. I quickly told Maddi, our youngest angel who had been patiently waiting her turn, we would do her costume the next day. Immediately, she burst into tears. She had eyed the costume long enough. The shiny white robe and the sparkly wings with eager anticipation and here I was taking it from her. Like with Michelle, I knew I couldn’t do that. So as the other children cleaned up and made their way outside I pinned the too big robe on Maddi. The same thing began to happen. It didn’t matter that the robe was too big. It was how she felt in it. Her smile was, of course, wide. Her little brown eyes sparkled as her little hands covered the giggles coming out of her mouth. She felt beautiful.

“Do you feel beautiful?” I asked, “It’s so pretty.”

I wanted to know why…what about just a plain white robe and white panty hose wings made her fell so pretty. So I did, and the only thing she said was, “It’s white.” The first thing I thought was “pure.” She felt beautiful.

We have this standard of beauty that equates to purity, no flaw. Something we see as beautiful does not need to be added to or fixed. It just is. And, oh! How we hardly get a taste of that beauty in ourselves. How we long to hear “My beautiful one, there is no flaw in you” (SS 4:7). Our souls, our minds, and our hearts long to hear those words. We see this pursuit not only in Christendom, but in the world at large. Mankind races to achieve something that cannot satisfy whether it be beauty, respect, admiration, or perfection. We live in a world that lacks true beauty, and we aren’t told we’re beautiful sincerely or nearly enough, but yet when we do we fly!

Like Michelle and Maddi our little hearts are met before the King and we not only feel beautiful, but treasured. It’s as if for that moment our status in the kingdom of God has come down to earth and we are recognized in our rightful role as a beautiful princess, and we glory in it! We are satisfied in the arms of our Creator who delights in beauty and we are satisfied when we delight in His. The root of our delight in beauty doesn’t come knowing that someone thinks we’re beautiful, it doesn’t come from pretty scarves or dresses, it doesn’t even come from a husband who dearly loves us and calls us beautiful. That glow, that transformation I saw in Maddi and Michelle comes from a Creator—the Beautiful One. He is where our beauty rests. Our souls are met in His arms. We are not beautiful simply because he created us with beautiful features or made us women. No, we are beautiful when we look to Him and are satisfied. That glow is our transformation. Our eyes get smaller and our cheeks turn a shade darker as our hands cover a little giggle, because we have found the waters that quench our thrist, the source of Life. We taste and we see, we raise our eyes to heaven and look toward the Beautiful One—it is there we are beautiful. Beauty is only natural when we look to our King. All else fades away as we are filled with the truth there is none more beautiful than the God who created us and the Son who saved us.

I'm Back...

S0, I haven't posted in five months, what can I say? I moved into an apartment, was training for my first 5k, then came the holidays, and of course there's wedding planning (only six weeks to go!).

I've missed blogging, but for the most part kept up with reading others blogs. I don't even know what exactly to write about right now. I'll figure it out soon enough. There's been plenty of things I've came across that I thought, 'Oh, that'd be good to blog about.' I just need to get back into it. Although I can't guarantee any consistent blogging, I am getting married in six weeks :) I'm going to try. So yes. Be prepared all you bloggers that are browsing or not browsing, perhaps not even reading. That's okay. I'm having fun by myself.