Friday, October 30, 2009

Factual Friday: Shop ‘Til You Drop!

Fact: There are 57 shopping days left until Christmas!

Yes, I know I’m a little ahead on this one but you’ll just have to bear with me. :) I love Christmas shopping. I get a thrill from picking out gifts that I think those closest to me will love and be totally surprised by as well.

Last year, my brother mentioned a jewelry photo box that hangs on the wall that my mom had pointed out as something she would like. I was able to get back to the store (this was Black Friday) and even though they didn’t have the color I wanted, they ordered it for me from their catalog at the discounted BF price! Sweet! That thing was a pain to hide though. So grateful for family friends who were willing to take it in and guard it.

Well, in my mind, it wasn’t just enough to give her the box/frame. I decided that I wanted to fill it with pictures in advance and then give it to her that way. And then my creative, surprise nature took over and I thought about how great it would be to have photos done of the four of us kids! We had pictures of Chelse and pictures of me, my brother, and sister, but no nice, studio ones of all four of us together.

So I set my mind on getting portraits done. I did some research on pricing and found that Target not only had great prices but a coupon for a free 8x10 as well! SOLD! :) My next obstacle was Mom. In order to get all four of us out of the house without her being suspicious, I basically needed her out of the house as well. Thank goodness for her friends! :) I brought them in on the plan and we were able to get her out of the house on the night of our portrait session.

Final hurdle: Chelse. This loveable littlest sister cannot usually keep a secret. Solution: Get her all ready for bed and as soon as Mom walked out the door, I was helping her get into the dress I had picked out. I was amazed that she didn’t spill the beans before Christmas morning either!

The photos turned out amazing and Mom was entirely stunned and speechless when we proudly handed over the secret we’d managed to pull off. Some of the pictures now sit proudly on the piano in our living room.

And now to start on this year’s list. I’ve been doing some online “window” shopping and pricing but haven’t really purchased anything yet. But as much as I delight in gift-shopping and gift-giving, God offered the best gift of all by sending His Son as the original Christmas gift. It was a gift that would forever change the world and the lives of countless men and women, mine included.

I pray that as we approach this Christmas season, you will not forget why it is that we celebrate. May we remember how closely Christmas is linked with Easter, that there would be no death, resurrection, and salvation without the birth. Do not miss the wonder of Christ’s coming in the hustle and bustle of the world’s activities.

Soli Deo Gloria,

P.S. I have not forgotten about the holiday known as Thanksgiving that comes over a month before Christmas. :) Just thought I would share my excitement over the preparations! There is still plenty of time for me to blog about Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Factual Friday: Turning 50!

Fact: This post marks the 50th post for my blog! :)

Wow! I didn’t realize that I had already made it to 50 (posts, that is)! I began looking the other day at how many posts I had done by year. 2009 has seen double what either of the other two years of my posting has seen (13 in 2007 and 11 in 2008).

As a treat, I thought I’d share the very first blog post I wrote. For those of you who are new to my blog, this will give some insight into why I named it “Koinonia” as well as why I originally started blogging. Enjoy!

Soli Deo Gloria,

(FYI: I have edited it a bit so that it’s not one big block of text. I didn’t know any better then) :)

Originally posted June 13, 2007

Welcome to my world! :) This is the blog where I will be posting my adventures before, during, and after my semester at the Focus on the Family Institute. Right now, updates will not be as frequent, however, I hope to update weekly once I reach Colorado Springs in September.

I wanted to take a moment to explain the meaning behind the name of my blog. The actual title is written out in the original Greek letters, but the English spelling is koinonia. I like the way that Wikipedia speaks of the word. It states:
"The word has such a multitude of meanings that no single English word is adequate to express its depth and richness....Koinonia is a complex, rich, and thoroughly fascinating Greek approach to building community or teamwork."
(If you want to read more, you can find the article here.)

Koinonia is also the name of the once-weekly dinner at the Focus on the Family Institute where I will be eating with other classmates in order to invest time in each other, get to know each other, and build community.

I also wanted to share some verses with you where the word "koinonia" is used (in italics).
Acts 2:42 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of break, and in prayers."

Romans 15:26 "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

1 Corinthians 1:9 "God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called until the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."

Philippians 1:3-5 "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in ever prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now."

Hebrews 13:16 "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

1 John 1:6-7 "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
So once again, welcome to what is sure to be an amazing adventure. I can't wait to start the journey with you! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Suit

Yesterday, I wore a suit. Not really a big deal. I work in an office so I have to dress professionally anyway, but yesterday I had a meeting at our corporate offices in Virginia so I decided to step up my game and wear one of the three suits that I own. Not an unreasonable action given the circumstances.

But something felt weird. Each time I saw myself in the mirror, I felt like I wasn’t seeing me. Nothing was different except the suit. I’ve worn suits before, both for work and for other events (example: Focus on the Family Institute picture day). I looked like I fit right in with the corporate environment I was in. And I think that might have been the issue.

Seeing myself in that light made me confront the fact that I don’t desire to be doing this my whole life. When the time comes, I want to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. Why then would I want to fit in at a place I know is only temporary? Why would I want to fit in there?

But it remains that this is where God has me now. I need to be faithful to the task at hand that He has granted me. What I long for is a good thing and something I hope God will one day grant, but that is not my place in life right now. A wise person once passed this Jim Elliot quote on to me: “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

Even Godly desires can be wrong if they are not committed fully to the One who has given them and applied at the appropriate time. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” We are quick to quote the second half of this verse without considering the first part. We want to think that God will simply give us what we want but we need to be seeking after Him and looking to follow His will. Then, our desires will align with His and the desire of our heart will be God’s heart and His plan for our life. He is ready and willing to grant what His own heart desires.

I am glad that God has given me the desires that He has. I know they are good and part of His will for my life down the road. Learning to live with these desires when He has not yet granted them, giving them to Him, seeking His will, and learning patience in my discontent are some of the lessons He is teaching me through this experience.

Does that mean I am comfortable here? No, for comfort often leads to complacency and these desires do show that God intends for my life to change. I will not always be as I am. But I can trust that God has me here for a reason and do my work as unto Him. While it may not be comfortable, I can rest and have peace in the fact that this is His will for my life. And that is more than enough.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Friday, October 16, 2009

Factual Friday: 34th

Fact: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), this past summer (June-August 2009) saw below average temperatures for the U.S., making it the 34th coolest summer on record (records date back to 1895). Read the summary here.

If you were like me and thought summer was a little cooler than normal, NOAA says you’re right. Apparently, the average United States temperature for the (meteorological) summer months was 0.4°F below the average for the 20th century. Some states still had warm summers (Florida had its 4th warmest), but based on the mean temperatures for the contiguous 48 states, we came in below “normal”.

What makes this even more amazing is the placement of an overwhelming majority of the Association’s weather gauges. If you want to see some of them, watch this video. (Special thanks to Stuart Shepard and CitizenLink at Focus on the Family!) :)

If the majority of the sensors are placed so they’re picking up radiated heat from their environment and they still registered temperatures that put us below average for the summer...we definitely had a cool summer!

So, yes, this is me at my geekiest. :) Told you I loved weather. But I think there’s more to this than just my love of weather and attempt to come up with another interesting fact for this Friday.

Twice in the book of Proverbs, God addresses honesty in measurements:

Proverbs 11:1 “The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”

Proverbs 20:23 “The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.”
Obviously, I don’t believe this just applies to weighing items or even to temperature measurements for that matter. God values honesty in all of our dealings, whether business or personal.

But how often are we tempted to stretch the truth just a bit? “It’s only a ‘white’ lie,” we tell ourselves. But who have we cheated by using this argument, this “dishonest scale”? Ourselves, surely. God, most definitely. But it affects other people as well. It can affect your co-workers, your family, your friends, even casual acquaintances.

Everyone loses when honesty drops out of the picture.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, October 12, 2009


I guess it’s a reminder that I’m only human but last week I forgot my Factual Friday post. In fact, I didn’t post all week. Sorry! :(

Life has been wonderfully busy and I have been handsomely distracted. ;) One of my recent adventures was an afternoon with Dan that involved taking my teenage sister and 3 of her friends to a corn maze. The farm that hosts the yearly event also has wagon rides, a petting zoo, and a straw pit that you can jump in (or get pushed in to).

Dan and I went through the corn maze twice. There are two phases (one shorter, one longer) and at the beginning, the gentleman working the maze said they weren’t connected. So we dove into Phase 1. About 30 seconds into it, we decided to have fun and only make right turns. The only problem is that the two phases were connected…they shared the same exit. So when we got to the end of Phase 1, we continued to make right turns…and ended up going through Phase 2 backwards! Definitely lots of fun. Later, we ended up going back through Phase 1 (it was the longest one after all) but this time only made left turns.

Remembering this wonderful weekend made me think about a verse that also mentions making right and left turns:

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

As a Christian indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I have a built in Navigator telling me where my path is. The only problem is, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I’m human and prone to push the ‘mute’ button when I don’t like what my Guide has to say and then I wonder why God is further away. He’s not the one that’s moved; I moved away by not listening to His direction.

The closer I draw to God though, the more attune I am to the distance separating us when I make a wrong turn. When I am more aware of the impact of my decision, the sooner I can repent and move back towards my Father. Those open arms are such a welcoming place to be. :)

Where are you today, my friend? Maybe you’ve taken a step off the path that God would have you walk. He’s waiting to welcome you back with open arms. I hope you can experience His love and direction as He guides you in your everyday walk. Don’t limit the impact He can have in your life by pressing the ‘mute’ button.

Soli Deo Gloria,

At the Bowles Farm Corn Maze

Friday, October 2, 2009

Factual Friday: October

Fact: October used to be the eighth month in the old Roman calendar before January and February were added in the Gregorian calendar, hence the “octo-“ prefix (Latin for “eight”).
Bonus fact: In regular calendar years, January starts on the same day of the week as October, but in leap years no other month starts on the same day of the week as October.

As I have previously mentioned, I love fall. It is a reminder, however, that the year is now three-quarters over and less than 3 months remain until we ring in the New Year.

This year seems to have gone by so fast in many ways, yet in others it seems to have crawled by in slow motion. There is still a lot going on the rest of this year: my brother turns 22, littlest sister turns 8, family Disney cruise over Thanksgiving, a friend’s wedding, Holly’s departure, time with Dan, and Christmas followed closely by the New Year.

With all the time (or lack thereof) left in the year and everything happening, I was reminded of a passage in Scripture that speaks to seasons and the events that occur over the course of time:

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

My favorites from the list include laughing, dancing, throwing away (especially as I lose weight and get rid of too-big clothes!) and loving. But it also reminds me that there are times where there will be destruction, weeping, mourning, hating and war. How easy it would be to lose hope in the hard times after the joy we experience!

But only a few short verses later I’m reminded of who is in control:

Ecclesiastes 3: 11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

We cannot understand why things go the way they do, but we can trust that it is God who is in control at all times. May the God who makes all things beautiful do so for you today, even in the hardest of circumstances.

Soli Deo Gloria,

“And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn”
~Nichole Nordeman, “Every Season”