Sunday, December 28, 2014


Christmastime!  We got into the spirit of Christmas halfway through November when we got a record-breaking 25 inches in just a few weeks.  We decorated, put up the trees, and made ornaments.  And then it was December.  And the snow disappeared.  And it was in the 40s and 50s.  We were still all about Christmas but it definitely felt weird!

So thankful for another great year.  And we were all healthy through the holidays, something we're always hopeful for and especially this year as the flu has gone rampant.  

Our Christmastime photos:

Making ornaments

We had fun making snowflakes and watching Xmas movies with our friends, the Niergarths.

At Mom and Dad Barkel's party:

 At Mom V's party:

 A fun game for the kids!

 Christmas morning with the Jones'


Our Family party on Christmas night:

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'the boy' Jesus

I'm slowly reading through the Beth Moore bible study: Jesus the One and Only.  It's provoking so many questions in me.  I love that after reviewing this study every so often, fresh perspective accompanies it every time!

Today I read the little insight the Bible gives us into the life of young Jesus.  Of course, pretty much the only info we can glean from is the story of Jesus staying behind in the temple as his family/community make their way back home.  (Luke 2:41-50)  Mary and Joseph frantically searched for him for three days.

I was comparing Jesus at this age with some of my older nephews who are at the age that Jesus was around in this story.

Jesus says to Mary when they find him, 'Didn't you know that I had to be at my Father's house?'

If one of my nephews would say this to either of my sisters, it would come across as him being cocky!  They would probably get a stern talking to by their dads.  But what Jesus is stating here refers to this pull of a spiritual force like a magnetism that Jesus physically/spiritually HAD to be at that temple, in his Father's house.  And Mary must know that there's a depth to Jesus' reply that they don't quite understand because it's another circumstance/conversation/memory that she adds to the 'ponder' bucket in her heart. And we don't hear a rebuke out of Joseph ;)

I started to imagine Mary and Joseph on their journey home (again!) this time with their adolescent boy.  As a parent, I would feel a sense of relief and gratitude that this time we have our son in our company, but also an annoyance that we had already completed an entire day of this journey a few days ago.  But did they get some quality one-on-one time with their son?  Was it just the three of them, or the entire family, did the community wait up for them?  And how did Mary and Joseph interact with this perfect son of theirs?  I wonder if they began to joke around about it, if they lightened up, asked more questions, or just eyed him suspiciously?  Did Jesus offer anymore explanation?  Did he know their thoughts and recognize their confusion?  When he trudged those dusty roads, and the dust floated up around him, did he remember when he first made dust, when he created Adam from that dust?  Did Joseph and Jesus recite scripture while they walked?  Did Jesus actually ever have to learn the word as a boy?  Because he IS the Word made flesh?  Did Joseph and Mary actually even grasp that?  That the scripture they were teaching their 7+ children to recite was embodied in their firstborn?!!

I picture my nephews in this role of Jesus since they're the only adolescent boys that I know well enough.  There is still a sense of play in them and yet they can have meaningful conversations.  Did Jesus mature really quickly or did he occasionally play a harmless trick on a sibling in good fun?

When my nephews come over, they're all about helping Jordan.  They grab a mug of coffee just like Jordan and they help him work.  And they always already know everything!  I remember one time when my nephew Taylor was over.  He and Jordan had filled their mugs with coffee and had gone downstairs to work on our craft room.  Ten minutes later, Taylor was back up with his mug of coffee.  He 'casually' mentioned that sometimes he likes creamer in his coffee although usually he prefers it black.  I pulled out some creamer and told him that this particular kind is Jordan's favorite.  When he heard that he dropped his adult facade and got all giddy that even Jordan likes creamer in his coffee!  He was boyish again and true to himself!  But I know that as soon as he was back in Jordan's company, he was all MAN!

Did Jesus do this?  When he watched his father do carpentry, did he eagerly get to work?  Did he man-up?  Did he get bored occasionally and join his siblings for a game of hide-and-seek instead? And the Bible says that Jesus grew in strength.  Was that accompanied by hormones?  And to think that an adolescent could stay free from hormonal mood swings, that has got to be a miracle in itself!  Who was this boy?!  And what was he like as an even younger boy?  I think of my 2 year old and my 4 year old.  Emmy, who is two and getting stronger willed, arches her back when I pick her up if she doesn't want to be picked up.  I think of that as being part of our sinful nature so maybe Jesus never did that?  But then I think about when my four year old, Charlie, is extremely tired and he'll just cry for no reason.  Did Mary and Joseph ever scoop up their 4-year old Jesus, wipe his tears, and carry him to bed?

I wish I could have a sneak peak so bad!  Do you think that in heaven we'll get to watch blu-rays (or whatever it is that God uses up there, if anything!) of all of this unfolding?!  I hope so.  I think it would be fun to review and to watch Mary and Joseph's responses knowing all that we do now.  And Jesus could be right up by the screen pointing things out and pausing the video to tell us exactly what was going through his mind at that time.  Just like when we watch home videos with family and gently tease each other as it plays!  We always share our viewpoints and it's always hilarious!

I think it's important for me to reflect on Jesus' upbringing to remember that he was fully human just like me!  But completely perfect, unlike the rest of us!  What did that perfection look like while he was growing up... and as an adult (like did he ever roll his eyes at Peter?!)  And a big joke with married couples is a differing point of view on how to load a dishwasher... your spouse is always going to do it wrong!  How would Jesus have done it?

Would I argue that that's not the right way?!  Would I have stomped my foot at the 12 year old Jesus that stayed behind in the temple if I were a terrified Mary?  Would I have ever sent Jesus to his room for a time-out when he was young?  This tiny glimpse into Jesus' boyhood causes me to long for greater patience with my own children.  Am I sometimes too quick to get angry?  Do I give them consequences without ever listening to them and without learning why they are misbehaving?  Granted, they are going to need consequences and probably often!  But I also need greater patience in dealing with them.  I'm hoping that I read this part of scripture for 'such a time as this' as we kick off our Christmas break!

And I cannot wait to someday learn more about this young Jesus!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

natalie's baptism

I cannot even express what this day meant for me.  Natalie decided all on her own to get baptized.  After an announcement about upcoming baptisms one Sunday, Natalie whispered to me that she wanted to get baptized.  The youth pastor had explained that if you are a follower of Jesus but have never taken this step then maybe this was the time to do that.  So after the service we explained this further to Natalie and that she would have to share her testimony.  It was a no-brainer for her!

She wrote up her testimony all on her own and on December 7 she read her testimony and was baptized.  This is what she wrote:  

"Today I am getting baptized because I believe in Jesus.  I know he is king, I love him.  I've known Jesus as long as I can remember!  I know he died on the cross and he changed me.  Without him, I would be sad.  I feel happy because Jesus is always with me.  I want Jesus to always be in my heart because he saved me.  Jesus did not just save me, he saved all of us!  That's why I am getting baptized."

I was nervous for her beforehand but she didn't seem too nervous.  Once it was her turn (after watching 6 others go before her) she strode up to that microphone and read what she had wrote.  She got into the tub afterwards and answered the Pastor when he asked her if she believed that Jesus loved her and if she was going to live her life for Him.  After she was dunked and when she emerged, the entire church cheered!

How moving!  How exciting!  And what an awesome God!  I'm so grateful that Jesus is my Friend, but to experience this in my Daughter's life?!  Incredible!  Natalie loves Jesus, believes in Him, and wants to live for Him.  And I just praise the Lord that He died for all of my children.  This is the joy of Easter, right here in Natalie's baptism.  And in every moment up to this point and in the rest of her life.  This is what life is all about: Our Heavenly Father who reached out to us sinners through His perfect Son, Jesus.  And Natalie has given her life back to Him and has been baptized as a symbol.  And what a beautiful symbol it was!

She did so great!

Afterwards we celebrated with family and friends!


 Ruby and Charlie were pretty proud, too!

What a blessing to be able to share this moment with our families and friends that have loved her and supported her and Jordan and I throughout her life.  We had quite an awesome support system around us that day!

To God be the Glory!