This morning at church Mike and I were baptized! We were both baptized as infants but feel that our faith has grown so much in the last year. We wanted to be baptized again as a public committment of our faith. 8 people were baptized during our service this morning and it was neat to hear each individual story. Mike and I told our stories together, as we each were a stong influence on the other’s growth. Many of you couldn’t be there this morning to hear our story so here’s a bit of what we shared.

We both grew up going to church but until recently we were just going through the motions. We went to church because that’s what you do on Sundays. We didn’t apply the things we learned at church to our lives and went on living the way we wanted to live. Last fall we started our marriage counseling and were encouraged to start reading the Bible. Once we started we couldn’t get enough. As Mike said, “Huh… it turns out there’s some pretty interesting and applicable stuff in that book.” We were learning a lot from the bible but the big change for us came during a particular marriage counseling time when we got right down to it: what do we have to do to get to heaven? Give us the list so we can start crossing them off! I remember Mike saying he was skeptical of living like a Christian because it seemed impossible to be that perfect. We quickly learned that there isn’t a huge long list. Jesus has offered each of us a gift and all we have to do is accept it, and put our faith in him. That was it!?! You mean God doesn’t expect us to be perfect?! That was the ah-ha! moment for us. Right there in the church office we prayed and accepted Jesus as our savior, asked his forgiveness for our many, many sins, and thanked him for his gift, his son, who died for us.

I think our lives have changed since then. We’re more hopeful and optimistic just knowing that Jesus loves us no matter what. We know that doesn’t mean we have a free pass to sin as much as we want, but we also know that when we make mistakes God still loves us. We’ve continued reading the Bible together and have started looking to the Bible to help us make decisions in our lives, and deal with struggles we may be having. Talk about the ultimate “self-help” book! We’ve also started praying more. It’s so comforting to know God is with us all the time, all we have to do is start talking!

So, we decided to get baptized to publicly share that change in our lives. A neat thing about being baptized at Parkview is that before you’re baptized you get the opportunity to share you story with everyone who is there. Mike and I both prayed that our story might reach someone who is sleepwalking through their faith like we were, and help them to take the next step to a closer relationship with Jesus.


Lending a helping hand

Last wee my Grandpa Bud passed away. He was a very important part of my life for many reasons and he will be greatly missed. We spent a lot of time together as a family last week and weekend and reminisced about Grandpa. One common idea that kept coming up was just how willing he always was to lend a helping hand. When my family lived in Manchester we lived on a big lot that had lots of lawn and lots of trees. Grandpa was the first to volunteer to help with yard work or to help cut down trees. He also never batted an eye when one of us asked for help moving. His willingness to help in so many ways caught my attention this week because I think that is a very rare attribute these days. Many people, myself included, always think about themselves first. Or, if they lend a helping hand they make sure you know the sacrifice they’re making to help you. Grandpa and Grandma always jump in and help without a second thought, no matter what the task.

My brother now lives in my grandparents’ house and they too have quite a large yard. So, on Friday, Mike, my mom and I went over to help my brother rake the leaves and mow the lawn, knowing there would be a lot of guests for the funeral that weekend. Mike and I don’t get to do a lot of manual labor so we were thrilled to help. Mike checked a couple of things of his “official Iowan list,” including 1. drive a John Deere, and 2. Use a pitchfork. Not only was it fun for us to get our hands dirty, we were also a huge help to my brother who normally has to do it all by himself. We knew we were truly helping my brother, and also living in the image of my grandpa – totally willing to help.

We’ve also been talking about this concept at church during our bible study, A2.  We’ve talked about what it’s like to live in a Acts Chapter 2 community where everyone does anything to help each other. The focus becomes on “us” rather than “I” or “me.” I think my grandpa did a great job of living this lifestyle and I think we could all work harder at looking out for someone besides ourselves. It’s something I want to improve on!

Math magic!

Here’s a magic trick I’m doing with my students….
1. Pick any number.
2. Multiply that number by -3
3. Add 2
4. Multiply by 5
5. Add 15 times your original number.
Abracadabra…. you’re left with the number 10!    (and if you’re not, double-check your math!)

Curious?? How about another one…
1. Pick a number
2. Multiply that number by -4
3. Add 10
4. Multiply by 2
5. Add 8 times your original number
Alacazam…. you’re left with the number 20!  (or double-check your math!!)

I guess this is the closest I’ll ever get to Hogwarts!!
Anyone have an idea how it works!??!

Life before we got married…

involved only butter knives and one paring knife. We couldn’t cut anything! We would saw away at our food with uncerrerated knives, and many times moved to the “stab it with a fork and bite it” method. Since our wedding our eating habits have evolved due to an amazing new set of knives we received! We now chop vegetables with ease and cut our chicken effortlessly. AND, every once in a while we even venture out and buy a watermelon or cantaloupe! Our dinner menu has greatly expanded now that we have the ability to cut (see pork chops below). We also find ourselves using a really sharp knife to cut things that probably don’t need it (see calzone below)!