12 December 2007

Shop Bambootique

I just added another link to my "Check this out" section. It is a link to a really cool online store that sells jewelry, purses, scarves, paper... One of my dear college friends, Beth is one of the owners of this store. The story behind how she got started comes from her worldwide travels. She traveled around the world for her work and always came back with unique purses, jewelry or other items that received many compliments and she received many requests to find similar items for others.

This sparked an idea in Beth to begin a business where she purchases items in foreign countries (mostly developing countries) and sells them in the U.S. Everything is fair trade and you can feel good about your purchase, not only because you've found something unique, but also because you are helping someone in another country earn money they might not otherwise have.

Great place for Christmas shopping!

The Other Secular Reminder

So I said I had another reminder of why we need Christmas and this one I found while reading the newspaper on Sunday morning. I read an interview with A.J. Jacobs who wrote the book "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible." The main story of the book is that Mr. Jacobs tried to follow all of the moral codes of the Bible from the dietary laws to even throwing pebbles at an adulterer.

The idea of the book is really interesting in itself but the most profound part is this quote,

"I had a stapled list of all the 700 rules...but it was impossible - I couldn't keep them all in my mind at the same time... Naturally, I broke rules all the time, despite my best efforts."

We are commanded in Matthew to be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect, so we know this perfection is the expectation of God. Now, here is a man who deliberately was trying to follow every law in the Bible and he could not do it. How much more do I break the laws because I am not consciously trying to follow all 700 of the ones in the moral code. I can't obey to that degree! No one can!

This is why Christ came into the world. This is why He was born on the Earth. Jesus did live a perfect life and because of that was able to be a spotless sacrifice for our sins and pay for our inability to follow all of the laws. All the more reason to celebrate at Christmas! He came to be a perfect sacrifice because I can not be perfect by my own efforts to meet God's requirements.

10 December 2007

Secular Reminders of Why We Need Christmas

Every Decmeber, I struggle in search of a fresh understanding of Christmas. I get so frustrated with the commercialism of Christmas and fight to keep from becoming swept into what Christmas means to our culture. This weekend, I was surprised to find two reminders of why Christmas is so incredibly important to our current culture.

The first was through watching the movie Children of Men. While I don't endorse the prevelant violence or continuous profanity, (or the ending for that matter!), the overall idea of the movie makes it a powerful"Christmas" movie. The main plot of the movie is that there has been infertility in the planet for the past 18 years and the world has become chaotic and basically anarchy in most places other than England, where life is also extremelly bleak.
But in the middle of the grayness and depression, a woman is found to be pregnant! As people learn of this miracle, they are in awe and full of HOPE! This baby may change the course of the world. There is now a chance that life will return to the way it used to be. Laughter could return, the sunshine might be noticed, and people might once again connect.
When Christ was born, he brought this same kind of hope. Relationships can be restored through Him, we can experience true joy even in the middle of suffering, and our eyes can be opened to the world as He created it.

When this baby was born, the gunfire, swearing, shouting, and even the running stopped. Everyone paused as the little girl was carried by and for a minute, faces became less hard and all eyes looked at the baby.

This December, I hope to remember what that would be like to keep my eyes focused on the Christ child. To look at Him for hope and all of the promises that His incarnation means.
I know many of you who read this blog (are there many who read? anyway...) have your own precious little babies to remind you of the hope in children and especially in the baby Jesus, but thought I would share a sweet picture of Asher when he was a month old. What hope and joy he has brought us too.
(Oh yeah, I was going to share two reminders...I'll save the other one for another time.)

30 November 2007

A Rock Castle Thanksgiving

Walter's family has a really fun tradition of meeting at a cabin in Missouri for Thanksgiving. This is not just a rustic roughin' it cabin, but a true place to relax, as you can see. We've been doing this since my first Thanksgiving with Walter - before we were even engaged - and I really look forward to it every year. We don't get in our cars for 4 days (other than when Grams and Grandpa took Asher to see the horses at the front of the park ) and we just enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and each other's company while escaping the frenzy of Christmas sales and shopping.

This is our whole crew (minus Asher who slept through Thanksgiving dinner -oh! and Walter was there too). My sister joined us, along with Walter's parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle and 2 cousins, and another cousin with his new wife!

Here we are in the "backyard" of the cabin. The view is incredible and this is where we even had an afternoon bonfire one day and everyone took a turn reading a Junie Bee book - apparently a popular series among 2nd graders.
We got all bundled up to take a walk and this is how we started off. By the way, mittens with out thumbs are a really cool thing! Asher could not get them off and just kind of walked around not knowing what to do with his hands!
So...after about 1/8th of a mile, this is how our walk turned out.
There were several football games played. This was the beginning of the Ultimate Turkey Bowl and this is a picture of both teams!
Asher was helping his daddy's team win by strategically moving one of the endzones.
Walter loves crafts and he led this project of decorating gingerbread men.
One of the best parts was having time to relax and read books.
But now we're back to the real world and ready to enjoy the Christmas season.

19 November 2007

I am Thankful for....

This year, I think I need two lists of things that I am thankful for. One list is of things that are easy to be thankful for. They are the automatic ones that I think of when I count my blessings. The other list is of things that I truly am thankful for, but they are bittersweet. This list comes out of the hard times and I can only be thankful for them after contemplating God's ultimate work in my life. So here they are:

These things are easy to be thankful for:

1. God's Grace and Amazing Love

2. My wonderful Husband who encourages me not to give in to the easy way.

3. My sweet little boy, Asher, who has a smile and laugh that reminds me I am blessed.

4. Our families and friends who love and support us.

5. The "coincidences" of life that have allowed me to work part-time and still experience the joys and camaraderie of being a mom.

These are those hard things that I am still thankful for:

1. Heaven has become a sweeter place to me this year and I look more forward to being there.

2. We have good friends who personally understand the same hard times.

3. My parents are missionaries and live in Ethiopia (and don't come home during the Holidays.)

4. My husband has a lot of perseverance to study long days and nights.

5. God makes something beautiful out of pain. ("Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1: 2-4)

09 November 2007


I've added a link on the sidebar to check out. This link is to the Bloomington Perspectives class. For those of you who live in Bloomington (or nearby) this link is for you! I have been involved with this incredible, life-changing class for almost ten years and I will never forget the truths I learned and continue to be reminded of every year.

The class is an eye-opening journey through the Bible to see what God's heart is for the world. Beginning in the Old Testament and continuing through the rest of the Bible and early history to what is going on around the world today, I guarantee your life will be forever changed if you journey through the 15 week course.

Literally, it will change your perspective on life to understand that God's plan for the world from the very beginning was to bring people into relationship with Himself and to bring glorify to His name. Throughout the 15 weeks, you will hear seminary professors, pastors, missionaries, and ordinary people share on different topics and you'll also get to be accountable to read deep articles related to the topics.

The link gives more details, but let me know if you want more info!!!

05 November 2007

Top 10 More Fun Sins

"I am not tempted to worry. If I'm going to sin, I will pick a more fun sin than worry."

Inspired by this thought, this is my list of:

Top 10 Sins that are More Fun than Worrying

1. Eating a gallon of Oreo ice-cream in one evening.
2. Criticizing my boss to my coworkers.
3. Lounging in bed all day long for a few days.
4. Passing on the latest piece of "news" I heard about a friend.
5. Watching enticing tv shows that may leave destructive images in my mind.
6. Telling my friends my husbands faults (that is if he had any!!! :)).
7. Assuming verses in the Bible about giving and serving don't apply to me.
8. Taking a 2 hour lunch because my boss isn't around anyway.
9. Neglecting to pray for needs I've committed to praying for so I that I can watch Oprah.
10. Taking credit for any praise I receive rather than giving the glory to God.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34)

02 November 2007

Halloween Fun

Asher was a giraffe for Halloween this year. We took him to visit daddy at work during the day and did reverse trick-or-treating where Asher had the fun of passing out chocolate covered eyeballs to our coworkers!

After daddy got home, we went to the mall and got some yummy candy, rode on the carousel, and met up with our friends the bee and a flamenco dancer. Asher enjoyed Halloween and probably ate more candy in one night than he has in his entire life.

He was bouncing around in his crib that night on a little sugar high!

29 October 2007

A Happy Fall Day

We had some much needed family time yesterday afternoon at the park and did a fun photo shoot. The trees were beautiful and the sun was warm.

26 October 2007


After completing a marathon in 1999, I thought I knew everything about perseverance. I was inspired by a newspaper article after the prior year's race and committed with a friend to train and run the race the following year. Serious training began at the beginning of the summer and continued until mid-October. Throughout those five months of being consumed with running, I learned what it meant to persevere. Along with running in those five months, I quit a job, moved back to Bloomington, lived with my parents for a couple of months, and finally found a new apartment and new job.

I ran in the scorching heat, on cool mornings, under draining sunshine, through the unknowns of lakeside darkness, extreme humidity, and soaking rain. Along the way I lost everything in my stomach several times, experienced dehydration chills, and slept my way through many Saturday afternoons after running long distances in the morning. My life was focused on training for the race and I camped on the verses in Hebrews that talk about the race of life we are all running and how we are challenged to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith.

When the morning of October 24, 1999 came, I was prepared and full of nervous anticipation. My long runs were over, I had tapered, eaten a carb filled dinner the night before, and had my pockets full of energy gels. It was time for the "victory lap." The race was amazing. Although my second marathon was full of friends and companions to encourage me, the 1999 run was a solitary experience that proved I could do it! After 5 hours, 4 minutes, and 26 seconds (I still easily remember that number 5:04:26!), I crossed the finish line and received the medal around my neck. I had done it - fixing my eyes on the prize.

I reflect on that time as an extreme physical experience of learning perseverance. I have run until I seriously did not think my legs could move anymore so I know what it means to persevere physically and now I am learning what it means to persevere spiritually and emotionally. It means holding fast to what I know to be true and refusing to give in to doubt and bitterness.

This summer, I began to memorize the first chapter of James. I picked the book of James because it is practical and God's Word is so important to know in full and in context. In the first chapter, James writes, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." These verses sound uplifting, easy, and inspiring when life is smooth. Just like my images of training for and running a marathon were full of weight loss, admiration, perfect weather, and no comprehension of real pain when I first read that newspaper article. It is a different story though when I was in the middle of the race and every ounce of me wanted to just stop.

James continues to say that perseverance must complete its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything! Do I feel more complete since running a marathon? In a way I do. I know I can endure physical difficulties and still go to work the next day. Will I feel more complete after enduring emotional and spiritual trials?

I think I will find out. In the meantime I will persevere.

15 October 2007


We all have temptations that we deal with.

Sometimes another piece of cake, the desire to share a piece of private information disguised as a prayer request, or even a tube of toothpaste are just too tantalizing to resist.

Sometimes we even go into the closet to hide our weaknesses from others and then we think if we do happen to give in "just this once," no one has to know and no one will be affected.

Maybe we don't get caught the first time or even the second, but there comes a day when mom opens the closet door and lets out the secret!!

I've been studying Jesus' temptation this week. He was tempted with recognition, power, FOOD (after fasting for 40 days), and did not waver. Instead He used God's Word to refute the temptation and claim real promises (not twisted ones). Do I know God's promises well enough to remember them in the times I need them most?

05 October 2007

Its not about performance

This is a deviation from my usual perplexities of Asher but I was reminded of something incredible this morning that I wanted to write about. The "Our Journey" question of the day (well the day I'm currently on anyway) is:
"How have I been performance-based in my acceptance of God's love?"

I was reminded of a vivid memory from my freshman year in college. In my Accounting I class, of all places, my professor told us something that blew me away.

I had grown up hearing the Gospel message every week at church and living in a Christian home, but I never knew, until my freshman year at Wheaton, that "There is nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I can do to make Him love me less."

Wow! Growing up in a performance-based family, and church to some extent, this seemed like heresy! I didn't really think I heard her right when she said that. Surely, if I just spent more time in prayer or sang at the nursing homes a few more times, God would love me more. That's the goal of life, right? OR if I never read one more word in my Bible and saw every sleazy movie ever made, He would withdraw some of His love from me, right?

It is simply beyond comprehension that God loves me right now, and even there in Blanchard Hall, with an amazing fullness of love that will never grow or decrease because His love is already complete.

"Before the world was made, God looked into the future and chose to set His love upon (me). He says to every one of His children, 'I have called you by name, you are mine.'" Isaiah 43:1

04 October 2007

Night Night

It's 9 am. Asher has just finished his cereal, banana, and Cheerios for breakfast and looks up at me and says "Night Night." No, he's not talking about a sleeping gorilla in Good Night Gorilla. No, he's not talking about what he's going to do in about four hours at naptime. He is saying that he wants to go to bed NOW! Is this normal?

In case that appears to be an isolated incident, I got home from work at 4:15 on Tuesday. As Bekah, our babysitter was leaving, Asher said, "Night Night." Thinking that he would surely not want to be in bed long, I took him upstairs, put him in his crib, and turned on his music while I changed clothes.

When Asher was first born, we put him to sleep with music playing every night. This stopped after about 4 months and although the cd player has still been in his room, he hasn't listened to it on a regular basis until bedtime a week ago when he started crying and pointing until I turned the music on again.

After getting changed, I went to get Asher out of bed and find him as happy as the gorilla who is in bed with Mr. & Mrs. Zookeeper. With his blanket in one hand, pacifier in his mouth, and Roo and Roo Roo where he has just tossed them onto the floor, he waves his arms and says "NO NO" when I try to get him out. He continues to bounce around in his bed, rolling over and then jumping up. After 30 minutes, I finally convinced Asher to get up to go eat dinner. Throughout dinner, he continues to say "Night Night."

What is going on? Is Asher turning into a lazybones? Maybe I'll choose to believe that since he has been going to music classes for a month now, his musical genius is coming alive and he needs time to concentrate on learning music.

01 October 2007

Pumpkins! Pumpkins!

Last Thursday, we stopped by the Curtis Orchard in Champaign to pick out our pumpkins for the year and to stock up on some delicious apple treats. Asher wasn't too sure about walking around in the prickly pumpkin vines, but he helped us pick out his very own pumpkin which he likes to point out whenever we're outside.

I guess we've started a tradition. We went to the same Orchard last year and took a picture at the same cheesy picture cut outs. Although Asher is somewhat small for his age, its nice to see he did grow this past year! (I wonder at what age he will have a smile on his face and be looking at the camera?)

Here are my cool boys on the "Cool Bus!"

26 September 2007

Asher's Bedtime Prayer

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for bringing Daddy home in time to read me bedtime stories tonight. He is so much fun. I had such a fun time today with my babysitter Bekah and my "cousins" Abby and Owen. Thank you for them.

I am excited to go to mommy's mom group tomorrow and play with the other kids. Please keep them from wanting to go down the slide so I can go up and down the whole time by myself.

You know I really like Winnie the Pooh. Please convince mommy to let me watch Pooh tomorrow and also I pray that she will take me on a walk tomorrow!

Help mommy to be patient with me when I throw my food and need to have lots of time-outs during supper. I just really don't like carrots (or noodles, or chicken, or even my spoon!).

Thank you for my friends and family who live far away. Please let them know how much I love and miss them but that you love them even more!

21 September 2007

Random September Questions

Why is it 90 degrees at the end of September in the year when our air conditioning system broke down after Labor Day?

Why does my son love bacon but refuse to eat other kinds of meat?

When Jesus was a little boy were the parents of his friends constantly wondering, "Why can't you be more like Jesus?"

Why don't those actuaries who grade actuarial exams have some grace and just pass everyone to relieve some of the studying pressure?

How long will Asher love helping mommy water flowers and look so cute while doing it?

14 September 2007


Here are ten addictions that people in our household have. Take a guess as to who is addicted to what.

1. Winnie the Pooh show
2. Raisins
3. Writing in this blog
4. Eating ice cream every evening
5. Falling Asleep with a Pacifier, Blanket, Roo & Roo Roo
6. Daily Sudoku
7. Fantasy Football
8. Daily Internet Chess Puzzles
9. Saturday morning Coffee Hound ritual

Some of these have become a big obsession lately to the extent that we wake up from naps wanting to enjoy them. Anybody know of a local WPA (Winnie the Pooh Annonymous) chapter?

10 September 2007


I had a flashforward and a flashback this morning with Asher at Kindermusik. It was our first time in this music class and for one of the activities, the teacher allowed the students to have "Freedance." This meant they could move in any way they chose while music played.

The other six or seven kids in the class were having fun swaying, jumping, running, hopping, skipping... and my son was leaning against the wall for the two minute duration of the song sucking on his finger and watching the action. Walter and I predicted this would probably happen, but as he clung to the wall, I imagined him in junior high at his first dance in a very similar position keeping the wall from falling.

Being a good mom, I thought of how I would react to a this type of situation and then had this flashback to my first junior high dances when I spent the evening holding up the wall. I have confirmed with my husband that he too was a wallflower.

Like parents like son!

05 September 2007

Kansas City

Over Labor Day weekend, we visited Walter's family in Kansas City. While there, we left Asher with Grams and Grandpa for a night and stayed downtown near the Plaza to celebrate our Anniversary - It will be 4 YEARS tomorrow!

The hotel we stayed at was perfect and the rooms were just my size! Well ok, those are actually called "milk rooms" where they used to store milk in this old apartment building turned hotel, but it makes me look tall, right?

Asher had a fun time with Grams and Grandpa and we got to swim for one last time of the season in their neighborhood pool.

It was a great long weekend away. We had a lot of fun visiting family, but after watching Asher fight sleep for 5 hours on the car ride home, we really were happy to see this.

27 August 2007

Vitamin Saver and Strike Update

I feel like I should report on Asher's food strike although I don't think there is much progress. Over the weekend, we ate out most evenings for dinner and he ate at Panera (loves broccoli cheddar soup), did not eat La Gondola, did not eat a Subway sandwich (until bedtime), did not eat hotdogs at a cookout. So what did we learn? Either wait until bedtime to feed the boy or go to Panera every night! I think I like that last option!

Since I'm on the oh-so-exciting topic of Asher's diet, his funny new thing is to save his Flintstone vitamin that he gets each evening. Last night after he ate his Subway sandwich and it was time to go to bed, we gave him a vitamin and decided to let him walk around while he ate it - or as Walter would say "let him run around like a crazy person."

I was always a little girl who saved all of my candy. I am the reigning champion in my family for making my ice cream cone last the final 45 minutes of our frequent trips to Ohio. I often had the goal of making my "church candy" last through the week and would sparingly eat maybe one lifesaver per day. So I think Asher gets this new habit from me. He will hold on to his little vitamin and run around the house making us pretend that he has eaten it by putting his hand up to his mouth every minute or so. Then he will go to one of his toys and hide the vitamin in it as another way to make us think he has actually eaten it.

I'm not sure how long he would save the vitamin, but last night this game ended with Daddy having to make Asher eat the vitamin before he counted to three.

24 August 2007

Our Son is on a Food Strike

So, it has been two days now since Asher has eaten anything for supper.

The boy is currently obsessed with raisins and refuses to eat anything else except for raisins by the handful, his morning cereal and banana and maybe some yogurt for lunch. Oh yes, he also eats pretzels continuously while we are grocery shopping.

This picture of Asher with spinach all over his face was taken several months ago. I would be happy these days if he would put vegetables that close to his mouth again.

I'm hoping that by making public Asher's recent fasting habits, it will be enough to make him start eating again - just to make mommy look like she's over-reacting.

22 August 2007

Summer 2007

Even though it still feels like summer, I know these summer days are quickly coming to an end. This is a snapshot view of our highlights over the past several months.

Isn't he sweet?

Walter started the summer off working REALLY hard to refinish the hardwood floor that was under our carpet in the dining room and entryway. It looks SO impressive, now, but it was a messy and hard job.

Every summer when my parents come home from Ethiopia, we go on a little Ifft getaway. This year we went to Arkansas (yes, Arkansas) and spent a week relaxing by a lake and also went through a cave that was like being inside of Fraggle Rock.

A momenteous event happened at the end of June when Asher got his FIRST Haircut! This place for kids to get their haircut is so fun! Asher got to watch a DVD, sit in an airplane, wear a cape, and all the while never letting go of his sippy cup. What a handsome young man!

A real highlight was when one of my best friends from college came from Portland, Oregon to visit for a few days. She came with her daughter, Grace, who I got to meet for the first time. We had fun going to the pool together and just walking around pushing our babies in their strollers - something we talked and dreamed about while in college.

My family happened to still be in town for the 4th of July this year, so we celebrated the Nations Birthday together as well as all of us kids' birthdays since my parents were scheduled not to be back home again until next summer. There's nothing like celebrating your birthday six months early (in my brother's case)!

Continuing a summer tradition, our small group went camping together at a local campground. It was just for one night, but we had a fun adventure. This picture shows the challenges of putting a child to sleep in a tent. Asher's friends (who were not having naptime) kept stopping by to say "hi" to him through the tent screen. It probably goes without saying, but that nap didn't really last long.

They came back! My parents came back unexpectedly to take care of some business with their visas. Their trip coincided with birthdays so we did get to celebrate together. We also have had the privilege to host an international student at ISU. Mpale is from Tanzania and we've enjoyed getting to know her and helping her settle in to life in the U.S.

Well that's it. I guess summer isn't officially over until after Labor Day, but school has started, the pools are closing, and all of the busy activities for the fall are about to begin.

It has been a fun one!

This is it

So...I finally have a blog. After much deliberation and sighing everytime I see another friend who has a cool blog, I decided to jump in! Walter and I (mostly me) are hoping to use this to keep our friends and family updated on our lives - with the goal of not adding more stress into my life!
Anyway, on this steamy hot day when Asher and I are not venturing outside, what better way to spend an afternoon then to do something I've talked about for a LONG time! Let the fun begin...