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.