Thursday, December 31, 2015


I love to reflect and analyze.  Sometimes, it's not the very best thing for me because I can get stuck in that place whether it's something of a victory or a failure.  But today being the last day of 2015, I will reflect on things.

Overall, it was a great year.  Here we all are, our family of six.  We've stayed alive, we've been healthy, all of our needs have been met and many desires as well.  If we have been lacking in anything, it's been our own fault.  We have SO much to be thankful for!

This morning, my devotions were based on one 'little' word: mine.  It's actually quite a big word!  What comes to your mind when you think 'mine'?!  Some of what comes to my mind is family, relationships, work, careers, free time....

What didn't come to mind, unfortunately, was God.

When Jesus came to earth, He laid aside everything!  His glory, His possessions, His comfort, His rights.  Even, occasionally, His opinions.  He laid aside His body and He even gave up His life!!

But something that He did not, WOULD not, give up was His right to call God his Father.

And that is the only thing that I can rightfully call MINE!  Everything else is HIS!  And rightfully so.  He loves my kids even more than I do.  They are HIS and he can take better care of them than we can!  He is concerned with my relationships even more so than I am.  He is mindful of our work, careers, finances.... it's all His and He works for our good.  He is aware of our desires; He wants us to experience joy that only He can give!  He has ownership and control over it all. The only thing that I can claim as MINE is God as my Father.  That is a constant.  Nothing can take that away from me (Romans 8:38-39).

Beth Moore has a great way of stating this: 'In the midst of so much we cannot have, God says to His children, 'Forsake lesser things and have as much as you want of Me.' Remember John 3:34 says that God gives His Spirit without measure.  While God is the owner and possessor of all things, He freely invites us to be as possessive over Him as we desire.  He is my God.  And your God.  He's the only thing we can share lavishly without ever lessening our own supply.'  Isn't that brilliant?!!

So in light of being an adopted child of God (Romans 8:14-17), I hope that will change my perspective during 2016.

I am selfish!  I have a tight grip on my husband, my kids, my life and my happiness.  But just as Jesus did, I need to lay down these things and cling to the one thing that is mine that will never change: God as my Father, Christ as my Savior, and the Holy Spirit as my Advocate.

I don't know how exactly, but I hope that I can carry on with this concept of what is truly mine in the next year.  I hope that I'll be reminded of this when I'm feeling selfish.  When I inwardly or outwardly insist on what I want, what I think I need, when I can't think clearly because I'm so caught up in MYSELF!  I hope and pray today that I can be caught up in God!  God leading and directing me as wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, servant.... No matter what 2016 may hold.  No matter what I may have to 'give up' that wasn't mine in the first place.

On a previous 'reflection post' of the New Year, I wanted to be more intentional.  Being intentional is so important because if we aren't, things can slip.  Well this year, I hope I can intentionally remember that God is mine and He will give as much of Himself to me as I want.  And that offer is good for anyone that will accept Him and I should be making that known!  I know that myself and others could definitely use more of His power and authority and love and grace in my life every. single. day.

So here's to a Happy New Year of un-apologetically claiming God as my Father!

(If you haven't taken the step in your life to call God your own Father, message me or someone you know that can help you take that step!  It'll be the best thing you will ever do!  If He isn't yours yet, then the sad truth is you have nothing to call 'mine'.  Struggle with this and make a decision to follow Christ!  John 14:6)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

coco cafe

So we had been thinking about getting a kitten.  And then our friends Anthony and Stephanie had kitties they were getting rid of.  So we took one.  Actually, we came home with two to keep because I couldn't say no!  And one of their favorite kitties jumped in our van.  So we actually came home with three.  But I brought one back and one (that they didn't want back!) to a nearby farm.

We kept the sweetest kitty for ourselves.  The kids couldn't decide if it should be Cocoa or Cafe (it was brown) so Coco Cafe is what it was named!  What a sweet little kitten!  Our children were smitten!

It slept in the garage during the night and was cuddled inside during the day.  One morning, Jordan was getting in his truck to go to work and he could hear the cat under the hood.  But could NOT get it out.  He fussed and fussed and finally took off down the road.  By this point, the kids were awake and watching from the windows.  But Jordan flew back to the driveway down the road in reverse and tried again.  He finally got the cat out and flung it.... It landed and quickly ran right back to the truck and under it again.  Jordan was so frustrated and took off without trying anymore.  He was about a half hour late by this point.  I told the kids that Coco was probably not going to make it.  But they just shrugged and said 'oh well'.  Ok then!  Jordan drove to Saugatuck that day and is was only in the teens.  He flew down the highway to make up for lost time ;)  He complained to the guys at work about it.  Then later he thought to check to see if the cat was dead in the truck somewhere.  And he found it holding on for dear life in the spare tire... alive!  He brought it into the truck.  I wrote the kids' teachers.  Jordan complained some more about the cat but later I found these pictures:

Jordan even shared his lunch meat with Coco.

The kids were happy to have Coco back that night.

Then tragedy struck.  The cat had spent it's nine lives on that truck ride.  Emmy and I were leaving a couple days later and Coco was in the front yard laying down and playing with a leaf on its paw.  As it was batting playfully at the leaf, we waved goodbye.  We come home hours later and there's Coco... still in that spot, still clutching the leaf!  Dead!  We don't know how or why it happened!

The kids got home and I had been thinking about how well they had taken it when I had warned them that Coco might die on the way to dad's work.  I wasn't worried that they would be too upset.  We had had Coco for one whole week.  Boy was I wrong.  I gently broke the news to them and they all sobbed and sobbed.  They cried about all of the pets we have killed.  They were angry that we can't keep pets alive.  When I asked why they weren't this upset the other morning, Natalie exclaimed, 'We still had hope!'  True!

We buried Coco next to Gary... and the couple of birds we had tried to nurse to health.  And we also mourned over Bambi the guinea pig that we accidentally starved to death.

RIP Coco Cafe.

Monday, December 14, 2015

engedi turns ten

Seven years ago, we started looking for a church that we wanted to raise our young family in.  A church with a contagious passion for Christ that we could grow in!  Where we would be fed, led, and cared for.  Where we could be connected.  That was the main criteria.  And thank God, it didn't take much searching!  We found Engedi!  The first service we attended brought tears to our eyes and we never looked anywhere else. Week after week, we were moved, convicted, changed!  We would discuss the teaching throughout the rest of the week.  We actually remembered what the sermons were about.  And we were part of an amazing worship experience!  It was a spiritual revival for us each and every week!  We quickly got connected.  And more and more people discovered this small church.  

The church has since swelled!  It is now in a large building and planning for church plantings.  We have been honored to be a part of it. When you're in a church where most Sundays there is a prayer time carved out for unbelievers to make a first time commitment to Jesus, and it happens even just for one person (although more than often multiple people!) you are blessed!  I get chills each time as the Holy Spirit moves through the church!  He is present!

The church values missions, people, worship, and 'advancing the kingdom revolution of Jesus worldwide', to name a few.  And they accomplish much through the Holy Spirit because there are so many people that pour their heart and soul into each other and the missions!  The people!  I love the people here!  The relationships that have come from this church family have been divine.  So many wonderful, influential men and women, staff, children...!  We love it here!

And Engedi knows how to party!  The church had been putting money away for a big 10th 'birthday' party.  We attended the free concert by Gungor (my favorite!) which was phenomenal!  And we joined in praising God for all of the blessings He has poured on Engedi.  

Happy 10th, Engedi!  

Only at Engedi....

Sunday, November 29, 2015

chicago overnighter

Our family friend, Kelsi, and her new husband Phil, offered to watch our kids for us over a weekend just because they love them so much!  They are one of those amazing couples who truly invest in our children!  Of course we were fine with that!  So we set up an overnighter in Chicago and Schaumburg! We invited Justin and Mindy along, too!  We hung out in downtown Chicago for the day and evening.  We hit up the German Christmas Market too.  It was so full of ambiance and was a great way to start off the holiday season!

We tried some of the famous mulled wine but the boys about spat it out!  Everyone raved about it but none of us cared for it!

We went to Ikea the next day and the mall.  Justin and Mindy left for home but we went back to Ikea after having been inspired by a dining bench in the Arhaus store.  We had already ate breakfast and lunch with the Koerts in Ikea and then Jordan and I dined yet again there!  Who goes to a big city full of amazing dining experiences and eats in a food court three times?!  The el-cheapo do!
Chicago got a snowstorm while we were there and of course, it took us awhile to get home.  The kids had an amazing time with Phil and Kelsi, building forts, eating ice cream, going for dinner, and playing together!  

We are surrounded by such amazing people!  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Emmy's Third

This Girl!  She is three now!  And such a joy!  (I'm not going to mention how she verbally abused me on the day of her birthday and that she needed many time outs before her birthday party guests arrived!)  She really is a sweetheart!  She enjoyed all of the attention she got on her birthday.  She had an 'Elsa and Anna' party (she loves princesses).  And she loved all of the gifts!

This girl has the sweetest face... I literally want to eat her up!  She loves to sing and dance and act like a princess.  She loves to play babies and doctor.  I love to act like I'm a pet or that I'm sick because she starts mothering me and it's just the sweetest!  She'll stroke my face or take my hand and my heart melts!  She is only just starting to act out (three is always harder than two for our kiddos... or for us!)  She loves to play.  And she also still naps!  I think that's a record-breaker for my kids!  She will even lay herself down to sleep!  And she stays dry while she naps! We are almost out of diapers!

Emma has a great laugh and she loves to laugh!  Most of the time, she adores her siblings.  She gives them hugs and kisses when they leave for school and she stands in the bus line with them and waves until the bus is out of sight.  She didn't want much to do with Jordan for a while but suddenly she adores him again!

She dresses up and really loves to dress herself in the morning.  But I'm trying to stay in control of that one!  She loves purses, and 'lips' (lipstick), and shoes!  She is all girl!  Her favorite blankie is in four separate pieces but it works out that at least we can always find one of them at bedtime.  She calls it her 'little tiny'!

Emmy is my constant little shadow since her siblings are in school and it's just her and I.  And I love it!  We go to Bible Study Fellowship on Wednesday mornings which she loves!  But our first week there was rough.  It isn't often that they have to call a mom out of class to get their child but Emmy wouldn't calm down that first week.  So she was in my small group with me and then onto our large group lecture.  She wasn't sitting still next to me so I sat her on my lap.  Then she took over my page of notes with her own scribbles.  She also ate a bag of candy that I was given as a welcome.  Candy favorite! I was feeling a little impatient with her as this was all going down and would have preferred to just leave.  And then she whispered in my ear, 'The Lord bless you and keep you!'  It was our memory verse at home for the week!  I hadn't even realized that she had been learning it along with her siblings!  It was the sweetest little reminder in that moment!  And I realized that very second that even the commotion of the morning was (and is) a blessing!  That she missed me, that she's a child, that she is learning scripture... and already applying it!!!  And speaking of BSF, it is such a blessing to see Emma learning Revelations along with me.  She can vaguely tell me what the 'story' was about each week, she knows 'Joy to the World', 'Holy, Holy, Holy', and 'Good Morning, God'.  Those are her favorite!

And it's so precious to hear this little one pray... she loves Jesus already!  She can say the 'Now I lay me...' prayer and when she prays at dinner, she thanks Jesus for 'Emmy ...mae' multiple times!  We are so thankful to have this dear girl in our lives!

Saturday, October 31, 2015


We always try to think of fun costume ideas that coordinate the whole family.  But in typical Barkel fashion, we dig up costumes frantically at bedtime the night prior to the 'Halloween Costume Parade' at school.  And we always come up with something!

The kids had a pirate dress-up day before Halloween.  How handsome is this pirate?!!?!?!