Word of the Year!

I am dedicating this blog to the assistant pastor at The Quarry Church, Brenton Balvin. The editors of The New Oxford American Dictionary have chosen the word "podcast" as the word of the year for 2005...seriously!
"Podcast," defined as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player," will be added to the next online update of the New Oxford American Dictionary, due in early 2006.
From the PRNewswire: "Only a year ago, podcasting was an arcane activity, the domain of a few techies and self-admitted 'geeks.' Now you can hear everything from NASCAR coverage to NPR's All Things Considered in downloadable audio files called 'podcasts.' Thousands of podcasts are available at the iTunes Music Store, and websites such as iPodder.com and Podcast.net track thousands more."
Among the runners up: bird flu (an often fatal flu virus of birds, esp. poultry, that is transmissible from them to humans, in whom it may also prove fatal), ICE (an entry stored in one's cellular phone that provides emergency contact information), persistent vegetative state (a condition in which a patient recovering from a coma retains reflex responses and may appear wakeful, but has no cognitive functions or other evidence of cerebral cortical activity), and trans fat (fat containing trans-fatty acids, considered unhealthier than other dietary fats).

Long time, no blog

Hey everybody!
Sorry it's been a while. I don't seem to have as much "down time" as I used to back in the "olden days" before my new job. Nowadays if I have some spare time I usually spend it sleeping. :)
My husband had knee surgery this week, so he's been recovering at home from that. What a happy man - he's been able to lay on the couch watching movies and eating all the rainbow sherbert he wants, all week long. Maybe I'll have knee surgery next week, too. (It's worth a shot!)
Anyhow...this short blog is just to say hi and let you know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Stay tuned for more as the schedule allows!


Christmas Bills, Christmas Bills, Paying all the way

Today, I went Christmas shopping. Not Christmas gift shopping, but Christmas decoration shopping. For the first time, I have my own home to decorate...and I'm realizing that all the things that used to be at my disposal, I now have to go purchase for myself. Like white twinkle lights, for example, or decorative holiday dish towels. (Seriously, have you ever been to a homemaker's house who didn't have decorative dish towels?) Granted, I'm not a homemaker (yet). But I am a wife now - I NEED these things.
So I set out today. I went on a mission, made my list and checked it twice: Christmas lights, tree ornaments, greenery, ribbon, stockings, candles...I think that should do it. That's all I need to give my home the festive ambience it lacks.
$200 later, I am not satisfied.
All the lights I bought for the tree, I ended up using around the house. I'll need about 3-4 more boxes of those. The tree ornaments somehow ended up in a bowl as a centerpiece, so I guess I'll need more of those, too. Hmmm...now the room feels kind of lop-sided, as though one half is decorated more than the other. Maybe once we get the tree in here it will help with that. I should also get a cinnamon spice candle, too. And a bigger poinsettia. I wasn't going to decorate the outside of the house, but now I think I will. The candles I did get are kind of drippy. Maybe I'll get some dripless ones tomorrow.
*sigh*...what is happening to me? I'm 23 years old and this is my first Christmas as a wife/homeowner. I'm supposed to have a 2-foot tall fake tree with do-it-yourself ornaments and silly string tinsel. But instead I blew $200 on Christmas Crap ($150 if you don't count the $50 gift card) that has nothing to do with the Reason for the season. I didn't even get a nativity set for crying out loud! (Note to self: add nativity set to list of things to get...oh, and a small light-up village.) At this rate, I'll end up like those obnoxious snooty ladies whose imported tree ornaments are so expensive she'd disown you if you broke one.
Lord, help me to not lose focus of You this season. Help me not to be caught up in the vanity of a home that looks pretty on the outside, but lacks the depth and insight of who You are and what You mean.


Thomas Merton

"To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence a gift of grace."


Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For

1.) My Sweet Jesus and His blood
2.) My husband, JP
3.) My family
4.) My friends
5.) My & My family's health
6.) My home
7.) Freedom
8.) Music
9.) The outdoors
10.) My job & the ability to work

Malachi Allen Harpel

He's here! My very first nephew, Malachi Allen Harpel, entered the world and made it just a little more beautiful today, Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005. He is absolutely beautiful: 5 lbs, 14 oz (TINY!!!!)...20.5 inches long...curly light brown hair and a dimpled chin like his Grandpa Ferguson. He has the most precious little face -- looks like his daddy (my brother, Micah) if you ask me. Of course I'm biased, but I think he's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen.
Missy was a champion. Last week she was diagnosed with toxemia, which is a pregnancy-induced hypertension. About 7 out of every 100 pregant women develop toxemia, also known as preeclampsia. It can be dangerous, even deadly for mother and baby. Basically, Missy's blood pressure was very high, she had high protein levels in her urine. At first the doctors put her on bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy, then after more testing decided to induce her today. She was great...held out as long as she could before requesting an epidural. Once she had it, it was only a short matter of time before she started pushing...and 15 minutes later, Malachi was here!
There are no words to describe the power of holding an hours-old baby in your arms, the tiny miracle you've known about for so long but are just meeting for the first time. It's completely overwhelming. And this was just my nephew! I can't imagine what it must be like when it's your own child. All the parts are there...tiny fingers & toes...tiny ears...thin, soft hair...little lips. A real, live, tiny person, alive and well since conception.
I hope you all get to meet Malachi soon and experience the wonder of human life. I am a very proud auntie!!!
I love you, Malachi.


I know You are, but what am I?

“I AM,” You thunder – as You do,
Deep in my bones, I know it’s true.
Your Are Jehovah, Savior, King
My Righteousness, My Everything
You are Yeshua, Lord on High
I know You Are.
But what am I?

“I AM,” You whisper – Lord, I know!
My Shelter safe from every foe.
My Judge and Jury, God and man
The one who numbers grains of sand
Majestic, Glorious, Mighty One
Son of man, yet God’s own Son
At Your command men live and die.
I know You Are
But what am I?

“I AM,” You weep, Your aching eyes
Reveal what I don’t realize
“I AM the Balm that heals your wounds,
I AM the Voice that gently soothes;
The breath beneath the sparrow’s wings,
The melody creation sings.
Is it too much to comprehend,
I want to be your closest Friend?
I’m not just thunder when you’re bad;
I’m Father, Papa, Abba, Dad.
And most of all, my darling, dear:
I AM Your husband, and I AM here.

"So what are you? Beloved bride,
You are my greatest source of pride.
You are my heart, my soul, my prize;
My spotless treasure, purified.
You were my daughter before you knew;
You are my home; I live in you.
An heir with Christ you’ll always be,
That’s what you are because of Me.”

Leave & Cleave

This weekend, I experienced one of the most exciting, frightening, wonderful, and breaking events of my life. It was at the same time both wonderful and devastating, God-ordained and heartbreaking.
On Saturday, my husband and I were sent out from the church of which I have been a part for the entire 23 years of my existence. No, not kicked out -- sent out. As ministers. To a new season, a new vision in God's plan and destiny for our lives. My father, my pastor, laid his hands of blessing on our shoulders and released us to go do God's work in a new place...a place I never imagined I'd be. And I am torn. Torn between the excitement of this new call and the deep-rooted attchment of the church which I have for so long called "home."
God is leading us to a new place. After months of prayer and waiting, my husband and I both heard the call to go to The Quarry Community Church in Monticello, MN and serve there. It's a wonderful church, and I know for certain it is where God has opened the doors for us to give. I'm blessed and excited, thrilled and confident in this work in our lives, yet I'm so reluctant to let go of the old vision, the passing season.
My dad is the pastor of Maranatha Christian Church at the University of Minnesota. All my life, our entire family's lives have revolved around the church, been entirely devoted to the church, been envolved in every aspect of the church. It's second nature to me. So to leave this church --to step out of my father's vision and into my husband's vision -- is extremely hard. I might even say it's been the hardest part of "leaving and cleaving" so far. I knew what I signed up for when I married; I knew that meant my husband's world was my world now. I knew today would come. Now it's here, and it's just as hard as I thought it would be. And I weep with joy over the destiny He had planned far in advance for our lives.
God didn't tell us to cleave to our husbands for nothing. He mentioned it because it's so vitally important, and not something we women would do on our own, naturally. Thank God that He puts this kind of stuff in His Word. Thank Him that He prepares us and teaches us what to do. Praise Him that He is faithful, that His grace is sufficient, and that he was the perfect example of perfect submission.
I praise God for Maranatha...for The Quarry...for my father...for my new pastor...and for my huband, the prophet, priest and king of our home.


C.S. Lewis

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

Blood Covenant

To the left is a picture of an engagement ring one of my friends received this weekend: a stunning ruby with two pure diamonds on either side of it. Gorgeous. But not your typical engagement ring.
Most girls (too many of us, as a matter of fact) have been dreaming of and envisioning what our engagement ring would look like from the time we were...oh, I don't know...like, nine years old or something. And most of us all had one rock in mind: a diamond. After all, diamonds are a girl's best friend, right? By the time we were 12, we had already picked out what size we wanted, what cut, whether or not we'd have white or yellow gold, and how Mr. Dreamy would propose to us. We girls are so stereotypical.
This engagement, though, was different. The groom waited for his bride on one knee at a picnic table, with communion elements - the symbol of Christ's broken body and spilled blood.
And then there was the ring. The never-ending circle of eternal covenant to give and give and give and never stop giving. A ruby. Red, like the blood of Jesus - the perfect covenant. Two pure diamonds, washed clean by the blood of the lamb, centered around and connected by their Savior. Without the covenant He made, we could never fulfill a covenant like marriage.
I have never seen a ring like this before, and I love it. I am so moved by it's symbolism and depth.
Congratulations, Dale and Brenda. Built on this foundation, may God continue to reveal aspects of His blood covenant with you and the promise you're making before Him.

Trick-or-Treat, Smell my Feet

Halloween was kind of fun this year, because for the first time in my life, I was a homeowner handing out candy to kids in the neighborhood. I opened the door to everything from two-year-olds in princess outfits, to five-year-old power rangers to thirteen-year-old kids with pillow cases (they generally don't dress up). It was so much fun to give them candy and watch their little eyes sparkle, especially the really little ones.
When it came to buying candy, we stockpiled. We bought so much candy, I thought for sure we'd have enough left over to last till our first anniversary. Reeses and Snickers and Skittles and Butterfingers and Twix and Nut Rolls (for the parents)...a myriad of sugary delights and Lord knows a couple days worth of belly aches for kids of all ages.
We never trick-or-treated growing up, but we never really missed out, either. We didn't get to dress up, but we did that on our own time anyhow. Mom always seems to buy "too much" candy so that we all got our fair share. I remember one time when I was 12 or 13 I had a friend over on Halloween. We wanted to go trick-or-treating, so instead my dad gave us each $20 and sent us down to the gas station to buy as much candy as we could with that budget! (Dad, I have a confession: Patty and I stopped at houses along the way to get more candy.) When we passed out candy, we would first staple a tract to it so the kids got both.
We also had another "tradition" in our home: no scary jack-o-lantern faces. We loved carving pumpkins, but istead of faces we'd carve things like crosses and fish and words like "Jesus." What a cool way to evangelize to all of the kids and parents walking around on Halloween!
I don't really have a point to these remembrances. I just like thinking about them. It really has no "blog value"...except may just to say thanks, Mom and Dad, for laying such a wholesome foundation full of such fond memories.


Ah, Humor!

This is hilarious. Click here.

Verse for the Day!

Titus 2:11-14

The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL MEN. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are his very own, EAGER to do what is good. (!!!!)

Song Lyrics of the Day

Here are some more song lyrics to encourage you today. I've sung this hymn many-a-time in my 13 years at Fourth Baptist Christian School, but it hit me with a new meaning today now that I'm married. When I married JP, I took his name. I am no longer Audra Harpel, but Audra Charlebois. I have a new identity that connects me to JP (or I will...once I get around to changing my SS!).
When we give our lives to Jesus, we take his name. He is our bridegroom. And now we take that name with us everywhere we go. We're identified with Him...and that is such a comfort!

Here is the song:

Take the name of Jesus with you
Child of sorrow and of woe
It will joy and comfort give you
Take it then, where'er you go

Take the name of Jesus ever
As a shield from every snare
If temptations round you gather,
Breathe that holy name in prayer

O, the precious name of Jesus!
How it thrills our souls with joy
When His loving arms receive us
And His songs our tongues employ

At the name of Jesus bowing,
Falling prostrate at His feet
King of kings in heaven we'll crown Him
When our journey is complete

Precious name, O how sweet
Hope of earth and joy of heaven
Precious name, O how sweet
Hope of earth and joy of heaven


Women of Faith, Sandi Patty, and Me

Many of you have probably heard about the huge, national annual women's conference "Women of Faith." Believe me, when I say "huge," I mean sold-out-the-Excel-Center huge...more estrogen packed into stadiums around the country than you would EVER want to experience! Up until this year, I had never been before - and believe me, I was perfectly fine with that. 20,000 females in one place is not my idea of a particularly good time.
Yet somehow this year, I got suckered into going. Well, not suckered exactly. I kind of got myself into it. A friend from work had extra tickets, so I spamed out an email asking if anybody wanted to go. My mother-in-law felt like God was telling her to go, so I told her I would go with her. NOT for the conference, mind you, but for the opportunity to spend some good bonding time with her.
We got there Saturday morning and found our seats...very back balcony, very back row...and gazed out over the sea of hairdos, taking in the smells of mini donuts mixed with perfume & hairspray. "Oh God," I thought to myself, "This is going to be a long day."
Now, many of you are familiar with my "issues" with a certain Australian singer by the name of Rebecca St. James. (I'm not going to go into that - that's another blog.) But you probably don't know about my issues with another singer/songwriter, Sandi Patty. If you don't know anything about Sandi Patty, don't feel so bad. She was "big" when I was "little." I used to be a part of her "Friendship Company" where I would receive newsletters and tapes with children's music on it. I thought she was great. My style of music has since changed, and blaring soprano vibrato just doesn't do it for me anymore.
Probably about 12 years ago, Sandi Patty was busted for cheating on her husband. It rocked the CCM industry pretty hard since she was so well known. Ever since I found out about this - as young as I was - I have had extreme issues with her and her music. The mention of her name would send shivers up my back. Some people said she had repented, but of course she's going to "repent," I figured, because her reputation was at stake! Anyhow, that's my rant.
Go figure that one of the key note speakers at Saturday's conference was - you guessed it - Sandi Patty.
When it came time for Sandi to speak, I was in my seat thinking, "Oh Lord, please let this be over soon." She came out in all her pomp and makeup and sang an outrageous rendition of "Crown Him with Many Crowns" to which all God's menopausal women erupted in an equally as obnoxious thunder of applause and cheering. Sandi blew kisses to the crowd and I just rolled my eyes, thinking of a what a two-faced, phony, blasphemous person she was.
Shortly thereafter, she started getting into her message. And as much as I hated to admit it, she was pretty funny. She did this hilarious Barbara Streisand impersonation that I tried SO HARD not to laugh at...but it was really good.
What really surprised me, though, was when she started talking about the one topic I thought she would surely avoid - her affair. She made it very clear to the crowd of women that she had made a decision - a wrong decision - and that it was nobody's fault but her own. She talked about how she walked around in self-condemnation, feeling as though she had a big scarlet letter on her chest. Then she talked about repentance, restitution, and Biblical restoration. My jaw was hanging off the balcony by the time she was done as I realized this woman really had repented, and I continued to judge her.
As she was closing, she told a story of how shortly after everything went down, she wanted to go to church, but everywhere she went people would recognize her and reject her. Finally one Sunday, she went to a church she had never been to before where she was fairly sure nobody would recognize her. She went into the balcony and sat way up in the corner, hoping nobody would come by to greet her and ask her her name. The pastor preached on grace, and as he drew to a close he spoke to the visitors: "I know there are some of you out there who would love to get to know everybody around you, and then there are others of you who just want to sit in the back row of the balcony and be unnoticed. Just know that even if that's you, God is with you there, and He forgives you." God was speaking to her.
Then Sandi said, "maybe there are those of you here today who have your own issues, be it something as big as what I did or something as little as hurt or bitterness. I want you to know that even if you're in the very back row of the balcony in this place, God is there with you, and He forgives you."
OH MY GOODNESS! By this time my mother-in-law was poking and teasing me...sitting in the back row of the balcony...clinging to the bitterness I just wanted to hang on to...but having to laugh at God's creative way of getting my attention to an area of pride in my life. God has such a sense of humor!
Don't get me wrong, I'm still not going to run out and buy her CD...but I'm sure not going to speak out against God's annointed anymore! Thank you Lord for teaching me that funny lesson!


Ha ha! My Poor Guardian Angel...

I saw this and it reminded me that I'm not the only one whose work schedule has changed! :)

Life in the Newsroom

Sorry it's been a while since I last posted. It's been a crazy last couple of days! I started my new job yesterday, and it's been quite the adjustment! Remember how I mentioned I'm not much of a morning person? Well, these days I'm getting up about 2 hours earlier than before - at 4:30 am! That in an of itself is a major change in my life and something I'm going to have to get used to.
Things at WCCO are great - it's wonderful to be back in the biz. I am convinced that life in the newsroom is completely different than every other job in the universe. Everything is so fast-paced and dynamic; flexibility is a necessity for survival. Today, for instance - while I was supposed to be in training - the producer who was training me called in sick...which meant I was left to care for the show! On day two!!!! To top it off, we had 2-3 "breaking news" type of stories right before we went on the air. I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke, and I never would have gotten it all done on time without the help of some very talented (and calm) people over there. Talk about a tea bag situation - I was way past my boiling point today.
In other news, God's grace is sufficient. I made it through and hopefully tomorrow will be a little better.
I had another crock pot experience, too! (Wow, today seems to be the day of re-ocurring posts) This time I was trying a pot roast, and PRAISE THE LORD it turned out better than the funky chicken from days of old. It still wasn't great. We had to salt the heck out of it and the potatoes were mushy, but it was an improvement. Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me...and for my patient husband who so kindly bears with my cooking/sanctification.
On a totally different note, has anybody else seen this story? Apparently, Missouri had passed a new policy that forbid priosons to assist female inmates seeking to have abortions. But the Supreme Court overruled it...and off to Planned Parenthood she goes. Bummer. Now Missouri taxpayers are having to pay to end that baby's life.
This post is too scatterbrained for me to continue much further. One of these days when my body has adjusted to my new schedule and I've stopped vibrating from all of the coffee I've been drinking...I'll write a sane post again. :)


Rose of Sharon, Rare and Sweet

Yesterday I met up with some friends for lunch. It happened to be one of the gals' birthday, so on the way to meet up with her my other friend and I stopped at the farmer's market to buy her some flowers. A small thing, but we thought it would be nice.
After returning to work I received the following email:

"So, the flowers you got me prompted the receptionist in my office to ask me, 'OOOh, where did you get the flowers???' (no doubt she thought it was some boy)...and I said, 'Oh, my friends got them for me, because it's my birthday!' And she said, 'Oh, how old are you?' And I told her. And she said, 'Oh, so you were just legal last year, huh?' She's in her forties (and apparently went to rehab 2 yrs. ago). And I said, 'Actually, I haven't had a drink since I was 19.' And she said, 'Oh, really? Why not?' And I got to tell her that Jesus is my Lord, and I neither want nor need to drink anymore. And it turns out a Christian friend of hers has been trying to "convert" her...and she just agreed to go to the Women of Faith Conference with her. So now I can minister to and pray for this receptionist. And I had been kinda bummed out b/c I wasn't having much of a chance to minister here (I've spoken out but not really been able to minister). So see what those flowers prompted!
Thanks again...
-2 Corinthians 6:2"

HALLELUJAH! Who would have thought that the simple act of stopping to buy a bouquet of flowers would open up doors to ministry. That's what we like to call a "divine appointment!" God was pre-ordaining that situation.
I hope all of you reading this will ALSO be praying for this receptionist. God is surrounding her with "Women of Faith" to minister into her life. Sounds to me like she is ripe for the harvest!
"Thank you, Lord, for using me in some small way...."


Judge Rules Against Planned Parenthood

Here's some slightly encouraging news:
"A judge has found that Planned Parenthood's St. Paul clinic broke state law when it performed an abortion on a 17-year-old girl without first telling her parents. Ramsey County Judge David Higgs agreed with the girl's parents that they should have been notified before the 2002 abortion. The parents argued the girl -- who was a high school senior at the time -- was still dependent on them. "

You can read the whole story here.


How Exciting!

The next person to view my blog will be the 100th person to visit this site! How nifty is that? If it's you, let me know! :)
(The counter is on the bottom right side of the screen)

Recall what God Remembers

Please, oh PLEASE, read what Oswald Chambers has to say in this excerpt from his devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest:

"Recall What God Remembers

Thus says the Lord: ’I remember . . . the kindness of your youth . . .’
Jeremiah 2:2

Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me? Does everything in my life fill His heart with gladness, or do I constantly complain because things don’t seem to be going my way? A person who has forgotten what God treasures will not be filled with joy. It is wonderful to remember that Jesus Christ has needs which we can meet— "Give Me a drink" ( John 4:7 ). How much kindness have I shown Him in the past week? Has my life been a good reflection on His reputation?

God is saying to His people, "You are not in love with Me now, but I remember a time when you were." He says, "I remember . . . the love of your betrothal . . ." ( Jeremiah 2:2 ). Am I as filled to overflowing with love for Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He ever find me pondering the time when I cared only for Him? Is that where I am now, or have I chosen man’s wisdom over true love for Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no thought for where He might lead me? Or am I watching to see how much respect I get as I measure how much service I should give Him?

As I recall what God remembers about me, I may also begin to realize that He is not what He used to be to me. When this happens, I should allow the shame and humiliation it creates in my life, because it will bring godly sorrow, and "godly sorrow produces repentance . . ." ( 2 Corinthians 7:10 ). "

Oswald Chambers touches on one of my favorite verses in this reading. Through His prophet Jeremiah, God cries out to His beloved, reminding her of what He remembers. He remembers that she followed Him into the wilderness. Her love was displayed in obedience and trust.
Chambers really strikes a nerve when he displays God as saying "You are not in love with me now, but I remember a time when you were." When my husband and I first started dating, we both went out of our way to please each other, do special things for each other, be on our best behavior, and always prefer each other over ourselves. Our stomaches were filled with butterflies at the mere mention of each other's names, and every time my phone would ring and his name would come up on caller ID, my palms would start sweating. And oh man, when we got engaged...I'll never forget the feeling. It was "the love of our betrothal." He could have been a CEO or a garbage man and I would have followed him anywhere.
Nowadays, it takes a little bit more to get my palms sweating (but he still does it!). Our love only gets stronger, but at the same time, the unquenchable desire to do nothing other than please each other is...well...prone to fade. For instance, I'm not as consistent in biting my lip when a smart-aleck comment is right on its tip. He doesn't try quite as hard to refrain from certain and various bodily functions in my presence like he used to. You get my point.
Are we doing the same thing to the Lord? To our God, who has absolutely no fault? Is our desire to bless his heart fading? Is the realtionship not what it used to be? If so, its certainly not His fault.
My prayer today is that we'll continue to return to that first love - the love of our betrothal to the King; the love that would do anything and go anywhere without even blinking an eye; the love that gives us butterflies and makes our palms sweat. And if that means going into the wilderness, let's bring our tambourines so we can dance and sing for our beloved while we're there. God remembers what it was like. Let's not forget.


This Always Happens to Me!

We all know the situation: God wants one thing, we want another. We fight to keep what we want. God closes all possible doors. We try to open the closed doors. The doors don't budge. Finally, we give up and later we realize what God wanted was better anyhow.
This scenario can apply to almost any situation in our lives. Some people learn the first time to simply give up what they want. And then there's me.
Here's the latest story:
For the last couple of years, I've been driving a 1990 Mazda Protege that a dear friend blessed me with. Its always been a great car - starts every time, very little mechanical problems (even with 201,000 miles on it!), zippy and fun. I love it!
My husband has two GMC Safari vans. He would call them "trucks," which, I guess, technically they might be. He uses one of them for his construction business and the other has just been sitting out in front of our house for the last couple of months.
A while ago he approached me about selling my car and making the second "truck" my primary vehicle. Now, I don't consider myself an especially prideful person in the car department - I've been driving junkers for years and have been perfectly content. But there's just something about being the "Astro Van Girl" that made me feel weird. I guess 5 kids and 2 dogs down the road, a big van would be great! But I'm 23, and there's just something about driving a big van that makes me feel...I don't know...dorky, I guess. It didn't matter that the van is 7 years newer than my Protege, that it has a CD player, heat, air conditioning, leather interior, or anything else that my little car doesn't have. I didn't want to drive it.
Obviously, that's pure pride (and I knew it), so I didn't explain it to JP that way. I told him I was more of a "small car person" and that I "didn't feel comfortable" in the big van. I didn't tell him I was embarrassed to be driving the "grocery getter." Instead, I gave him good reasons (not excuses, of course) why a small car would be the more economical, wise choice for me. Besides, my car had been running great and had years left in it.
I almost had him convinced (or so I thought).
The very next day as I was driving along the highway, I heard a loud *Clunk!* beneath my car. At that same moment the "charge battery" light came on, the power steering went out, and my little car started overheating. I pulled into a Super America parking lot and called my husband, who came directly to my rescue.
When he got there, he just smiled at me with this "I told you so" laughish grin on his face. Right then and there I knew that he was onto me the whole time. Darn that gift of discernment!
By the time we got my car home, it was smoking like crazy and dripping a foul-scented green goo all over our driveway. Turns out I busted some sort of main belt and now - you guessed it - I'm driving the van. It's really not so bad. I have to admit it was nice to have heat on this chilly October morning, and while being up so high in the air will take some getting used to, it does provide a sense of security.
So what's the point to this long-winded story? The Word says that "pride comes before destruction." In this case, my pride came before humiliation! I wonder how long it would have taken me to swallow my pride (and realize how much of a better vehicle the van is) if my car hadn't broken down. I would have driven that little Protege to the ground. I would have learned that I can manipulate to get my way...and would have been worse off for it. Praise God that whenever I try to get my way, He's faithful to slam on the brakes and remind me that I don't just get to do whatever I want.
I hope I've really learned it this time. I'm pretty sure this is the bazillionth time that God's tried to teach me this lesson, and every time I'm sure "I got it." Thank God he's only used small situations up to this point and not anything more serious. I can learn my lesson now or wait until a loved one is in the hospital or I'm in a wheelchair or something equally as dramatic gets my attention.
I think I'll choose to learn now. How about you?


Malachi Harpel

This is my nephew, Malachi. He is due to be born December 8th, 2005. Today, we went to the first of I don't know how many baby showers and, like women do, "cooed" and "awwwwwed" over the tiny little baby clothes, booties, and other baby apparatus. We played the "don't-cross-your-legs" game (which, I'm sure, every woman reading this bog fully knows what I'm talking about while the men are scratching their heads) and pretended to be reluctant about eating cake. It was a fun time.
Lately, whenever I start to think about Malachi I get all misty-eyed and emotional. I just can't wait to meet him! I wonder what he'll look like...if he'll have Micah's blue eyes or Missy's curly hair...whether he'll be shy or outgoing...what he'll be when he grows up. I can't get over how much I love him with every bone in my body - and this isn't even my own child! How much more will I love my own baby? Is it even possible to love more?
I've been thinking a lot lately about God the Father and just how much He must love us. I can see how much Micah's face lights up with love and pride at the mere mention of Malachi. I've seen the same look on my dad's face toward us, as well as the look of pain when one of us children has made a foolish decision. And then I think of God watching us, His children, knowing our every thought, loving us so much it hurts. He's more than just a great and powerful God...more than Savior and Healer. He's Abba, Father, Papa, Dad.
I don't really have much of a point to make about all of this...just wanted to give you the chance to think about it, too. Its really an overwhelming thought. If we love Malachi this much, how much does the Father love us?
"For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not sin, but have everlasting life." John 3:16


Our Father which art in Heaven

I read a post today that really got me thinking about my relationship to God as the Father. On Runalong with Pastor Mark, he presents this short parenting quiz:

"Agree or Disagree? A good parent understands that it is best for their children if...

1. They don't always get what they want.
2. They don't always get their own way.
3. They learn, through repeated experience, to be willing, when necessary, to set aside their own desires and plans for the sake of others."

Chances are most of us would agree to all three of these points. But here's the kicker:

"One last question:Your Father in heaven is a good parent. Do you sincerely thank Him each time He blesses you in one of these three ways?"

When's the last time I considered not getting my way as a blessing from the Lord?
You've heard the saying, "You'll thank me when you're older." Godly parents won't hesitate to protect their children from always getting the things they want because they know it's for the child's good. A child who always gets his way turns into a terror. Nobody wants to be around a spoiled rotten kid, much less a spoiled rotten kid-turned-adult. It's good for the child to learn contentedness.
Pastor Mark is right: God is a good Father. He knows that by not always giving us what we want, He's doing us a favor. Sometimes we don't realize it right away. But here's the thing: earthly parents are capable of making mistakes in the decisions they make for their children. God cannot - He's God. Whatever he chose, that's what's best, period. We don't have to wait 'till "when we're older" to decide if it really was for our good and thank Him then. We can thank Him for it right on the spot.
So today, I'm thanking the Lord for not giving me the things I thought I wanted, even though I may not understand why He did it yet.

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? " (Matt 7:11)

What I thought I wanted
What I got instead
Leaves me broken...and grateful.
-Sara Groves


Jesus Ad A Bad Bet For Bookie

The Roman Catholic community in Ireland is spittin' potatoes over this picture from a bookmaker billboard campaign. It shows Jesus and the disciples at the last supper...playing poker and roulette!
I'm not offended by it. You can read the story here.

Big Baby Galaxy

NASA Astronomers have detected what they're calling a "big baby" galaxy, "vastly heavy for its young age and its location in the early universe." Even though this galaxy is supposedly "12 billion years younger" than our own Milky Way, they have eight times the mass of the Milky Way's stars.

An excerpt from the article on cnn.com:
"The discovery of this massive, well-developed galaxy at such an early point in time means astronomers may have to adjust their ideas on when galaxies and other cosmic objects can form, said Massimo Stiavelli of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which deals with Hubble's findings."

Now astronomers everywhere are scratching their heads wondering how such a young galaxy can be so developed. No doubt they'll come up with some long 30-page explanation all based on the theory of evolution (which they will present as science, though it is not because it cannot be observed) and try to teach it to my children someday. That's because scientists always interpret facts in the light of theory.

A similar thing happened last year when astronomers from the University of Texas found a long string of fully-formed galaxies. From answersingenesis.org:
"The astronomers calculated that the supercluster was 300 million light-years across, and right at the most distant edge of the universe, 10.8 billion light-years away. ...However, the discovery is a huge problem for evolutionary timescales. These galaxies exist when, according to big bang cosmology, they shouldn’t have had time to form."

To me, it seems to take so much less faith to believe that an all-powerful God rapidly and supernaturally created fully-formed stars and galaxies on Day 4 of creation than it would to accept some scientist's ideas he/she rigged up to explain these types of things. Intelligent design simply makes more sense.


Breaking News:

Here is the most recent occurance in my life. The letter below is from the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV (Channel 4), the Minneapolis CBS affiliate. Praise Jesus!

"Please join me in welcoming the newest addition to the WCCO-TV newsroom. Audra Charlebois will join us as a part-time news producer on Monday, October 17th. You may remember Audra by her maiden name, Audra Harpel. She worked with us as an intern in special projects, then as a part-time production assistant, then as a part-time writer. Most recently, Audra's worked at the Target Corporation. But I know she is very anxious to get back into television news. Audra is a graduate of the journalism school at the University of Minnesota. She's also won two Emmy awards for her student television work at The "U."

Audra will train with Sonya Goins for a week and then take over producing of the Noon news on Monday, October 24th.

Please join me in welcoming her back to WCCO-TV."

Link to wcco.com here.


Sweet Tea

God is always faithful to show us what's in our hearts. It is His goodness that leads us to repentance.
I'm sure we've all run across situations where the best - or WORST - of us is made known. Like a tea bag, when put in a hot situation our insides seep out and expose us. Will we be bitter or sweet? Will we bring refreshment and healing to those around us, or will we bring a pucker to their faces?
You've tasted bitter tea before - it's nearly unbearable. You want to spit it out the minute it touches your tongue. No amount of sugar or cream can hide the bitterness. Is that how we are in times of testing? Do we drive people away from us or do we draw them in with sweet esences of grace and mercy?
Here are a few things we can do in a hot water situation to avoid saying or doing things we regret:
1.) Pray before you do anything. Whatever you're feeling--be it hurt, frustration, anger, bitterness, or sadness--pray before saying or doing anything. Often times our emotions will drive us to want to vent, scream, and retaliate. But...
2.) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Are you actions - even your thoughts - lining up with those qualities? Compare and see.
3.) While you're at it, why don't you also compare your heart to I Cor 13, the love chapter? Love suffers long and is kind...it keeps no record of wrongs...love rejoices in the truth...it bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things...love never fails. Are you displaying love-like qualities?
4.) If you haven't made the cut for numbers 2 or 3, repent and ask for forgiveness, both from the Lord and the other(s) involved.
5.) Finally, forgive. Don't wait for an apology; don't go searching for one. Even if you were 100% right and others invovled never repent, you need to forgive.
My prayer is that when my "tea bag of a life" is next dipped into a hot situation, I'll be able to fill the moment with herbs and spices of grace.


Love and Marriage

Today, I have officially been married for 6 weeks. Here are some things I've learned:

1.) I am not a morning person - the worst part is, JP is. I never realized what a crab I am in the morning because, well, there was never anyone around to test me on it before! Poor JP...how could he have known? I'm getting better at it, though.
2.) Taking care of a house takes a lot of work - I grew up doing chores, but they were always split up between five kids. Now I have a whole house to concern myself with. I work 40 hours a week and would love to just come home and lay on the couch with a book...but this place isn't just going to clean itself! Laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, dusting (yeah, haven't done that lately), changing linens, not to mention the yard we've barely touched.
3.) I am not a gormet chef - see the crock pot blog.
4.) Husbands really do need respect more than hugs and kisses - I'm not the sweet, angelic soul I'm sure you all think I am. :) I can drop some real hurtful bombs sometimes without even realizing it. Little things, like not doing exactly what JP asked me today because "my way works just as good" can be a slap in the face to him. To a man, that sort of action says, "thanks for your opinion, but you don't really know what you're talking about."Lord, help me to show my huband in every way how much I respect him.
5.) If you try to sleep all cuddled up with your honey, your arms will go numb.
6.) I am a little independent rebel - and it always backfires. Every time I try to do something "on my own," it always ends up coming back to point its finger at me, laughing. For instance, we bought an "assembly required" wall cabinet for the bathroom. JP told me to wait for him to help put it together, but I wanted to do it myself. I tried...and let's just say I ended up putting some holes in places where there weren't supposed to be holes. A small example, but you get my point. Pride cometh before a destruction.

People always say that once you get married, your spouse's faults start to come out. I think it's just the opposite. Now that I'm married, I'm realizing what a silly little girl I can be and how much need I am in of God's grace to help me be a Proverbs 31 woman. Thank God for my loving, patient husband and his willigness to continue to love and bear with me as I learn these truths.


Below are the lyrics to a song that has become extremely dear to me. I have to go back to them nearly every day. The lyrics speak to those who yearn for Jesus to fill them, feed them, protect them. But sometimes we feel dry and vulnerable.
The things we want are not always the things God has in His plan for us. This song is about being thankful in whatever situation, knowing that God is faithful no matter what. Even if He never sends us rain.
"I have been young and now I am old, yet never have I seen the righteous man forsaken, nor his children begging for bread." Psalm 37:25

by Nichole Nordeman

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade.
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down.
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid.

But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You,
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain.

Daily bread, give us daily bread;
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed.
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight.
Wrap us up and warm us through,
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs.
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time

Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You.
A starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace.
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight.

Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You;
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need,
And if You never grant us peace.
But Jesus, would You please?

(You can buy Nichole Nordeman's CD here.)

Polygamy in Netherlands?

I caught wind of this on my dear friend Nicole's blog, Ceasar's Tragedy. Apparently a man has married not one but two women in the Netherlands.
It's a slippery slope, folks. You can link straight to the article here.


Not Just a Bunch of Crock

Yesterday, I tried my hand at my first official crock pot cooking experience. I was so excited about it - I marinated the chicken overnight, and in the morning I put it in the crock pot with wonderful seasonings and juices that were sure to make my husband's mouth water after a long day at work. At work I told a friend how excited I was to see how it turned out.
When I got home, I opened the door to an aroma of...blackened teriyaki. It didn't smell horrible, but it certainly wasn't enticing, either. Still hopeful, I went into the kitchen and looked into the pot.
My first crock pot experience was a failure. The chicken was dry and crusty, the sauce had an obvious "overcooked" flavor to it. It wasn't bad enough to make you gag, but it wasn't good.
I know it sounds like a small thing, but I felt so defeated! I felt like a failure! Everybody had always told me how easy a crock pot would be, how much simpler it would make my life. If it was so easy, I was certainly a screw up in the kitchen. My husband tried to help me laugh it off, but I was too embarrassed (aka: prideful).
But here's what I learned: Every day of our lives is like my crock pot experience. We want to try new things and succeed the very first time. We want excel in our spiritual gifts the minute we realize what they are. We want to be able to play Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit, but we don't want to practice. At least that's the way I seem to be - if I'm not instantly good at something, I probably won't be that interested in it.
Drawing near to God...walking in the Spirit...exercising our gifts...these all take practice. There is no formula. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes time - lots of time - and committment.
I read a quote - I don't remember by whom, but he's a famous preacher - that said something to the effect of "I make it a point to spend at least an hour with the Lord every morning; unless I have an expecially busy, hectic day. In that case I make it a point to spend at least two hours with the Lord."
Can I sit still long enough? How many crock pot disasters will it take to realize that I'm not a horrible cook; I just need some practice. God doesn't expect me to be perfect today. He only expects me to have a perfect heart...perfectly committed to Him.

Why Pipes' Dreams?

Those of you who aren't too familiar with me might not "get" the name - Pipes' Dreams. "Pipes" is a nickname I acquired years ago. My basketball coach christened me with it because of my unusually large biceps for a girl. Get it? Pipes?
Anyhow, it just stuck. It's not something I'm particularly thrilled to be known for, but I'm over it.

So now I have a blog

So...I'm not really one to be all into blogging and all, but I can, so I figured, why not? I don't have tons of great insight. I'm not too savvy with politics, economics, or theology. But occasionally I do have some thoughts worth sharing.
A little about me - I'm 23 years old, newly wed (August 19th), 3rd out of 5 children who grew up in a wonderful Christian family. My parents are my heros. My husband is my champion.
I graduated from the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2004 with a degree in Broadcast Jouranlism and a minor in Communication Studies. For a while I worked at WCCO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, as a news writer. I'm currently working at Target Corporation in downtown Minneapolis in the Pharmacy division.
A few of my favorite things: music, spending time with family, reading, and the oh-so-necessary occasional adrenaline rush. Used to be into sports, but I'm way too out of shape now.
I think this blog will mainly be more of a journal of things I am learning as a new wife (and hopefully mother, soon)...different revelations and teachings God shows me...hopefully to be an encouragement to any of you out there who need encouraging.
Thanks for stopping by.