Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's a Boy!

Welcome to the family Isaac Peter! You are so loved already!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pass - Set - Spike!

Yesterday I headed back to my old high-school for a "hard-core" volleyball game with some former teammates. I was interested to see how the day would go, given that 1) I have not been in my high school since I graduated in June 2006, and 2) I have not played "hard-core" volleyball since our team lost at regionals in March 2006! The day ended up being a lot of fun and brought back so many memories.

Volleyball was a huge part of my life during my high school years. I play year-round either for school, a travel team, or with different camps/clinics. I absolutely loved to play, which was interesting because I was an okay player, but nothing great. Heading back to the court yesterday really lead me to reflect on some of the things I learned throughout those years and what lessons have carried with me today.

December 2005

Punctuality

The number one thing I would say I learned from playing sports was the importance of punctuality! What, were you expecting sportsmanship or leadership to be first?? I should preface this by saying that my high school volleyball coach really scared the life out of me, especially during my years on JV. Coach was very strict about punctuality. There was a clock in the gym where we practiced and we lived by that clock. If one of our teammates was even a second late the rest of us would be running laps and going through conditioning for the rest of the practice. At the time it was annoying and stressful, but today I often hear Coach's voice reminding us about the importance of punctuality - not just to practice or games, but to class and other events in life. She would always talk about how being on time is a sign of respect, and when you are late or hold others up, you are not only disrespecting them, but suggesting that your time is more important than theirs. 

You Can Demonstrate Christ's Love Everywhere, Doing Anything

I went to a Christian school and was consequently blessed to have teammates and a coaching staff that shared my faith. As a team and individuals we were constantly reminded that our words and actions would be associated with Christianity wherever we played because of the name written across our uniforms. Now, I should say that I don't think a believer should act any differently whether or not they are known to be a Christian, but as a teenager it was a good reminder to check myself and my attitude. I learned that I could display my faith even in something as minute as playing on a sportsteam - in the way I treated my teammates, respected my coach, and responded to my opponents.

Worth

This was a hard lesson to learn. Like I mentioned earlier, I was never a very good player, but I wanted to be! I spent hours of energy working on getting better and many sleepless nights worrying about what my performance would be like at the next game, practice, or tournament. I was very self-consious about how others thought I performed and did not have confidence in my own abilities. The truth is that I defined my worth during those years by how well I performed - and given that I often didn't perform the best, I didn't consider my worth to be very high. Looking back, I think many of these feelings contributed to the development of my eating disorder. As the years went by, my confidence developed, but I also learned to let go. Each game I went into knowing I would strive to give my best, and that was all I could do. At the end of the day I sought to learn from my mistakes, and then let them go. Often times when I find myself dwelling on a worry or mistake I've made the words we used to say to a teammate after a mess-up "Shake it off."


December 2012

There are many other lessons: respect, leadership, sportsmanship, discipline, perseverance, dedication, etc., but the ones above are those that have really stuck with me into my adult years. Throughout high school and college I've been involved in alot of other activities that have taught me similar lessons (i.e. volunteer work, school leadership team, orchestra, school play, student government) but none that played as big of a role in my life as volleyball did. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to play, and most importantly, to have been able to build the relationships that I did.

What about you? Have you ever been involved in an activity or program that influenced you at a young age? If not, did you learn similar lessons through different avenues?


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Over Already?!


There is nothing I look forward to more during the holiday season than spending time with my family. Since both of my brothers are married we have an on/off year schedule for Christmas Day so they can spend time with their in-laws.  This was an “off” year so we actually celebrated our family Christmas last Sunday.
Family Christmas for us is an afternoon/evening of lots and lots of eating, good conversation, and exchanging presents. Nothing big or out of the ordinary, but my family means the world to me, so any chance to get together is something to look forward to!
Highlights from this year:
-Sasha (5) requesting that we go around and each say something we were thankful for. Half the family mentioned the grandson/nephew/son on the way, especially my very pregnant SIL who is very ready to not be pregnant anymore!
-Grandpa (88) and Grandma (89) getting a portable DVD player for Christmas and being thoroughly confused about what this laptop looking thing was for and finally concluding that “It’s one more thing we’ll have to call Jim (my dad) to fix!”
-Alexis (3.5) has become our family princess. There is absolutely nothing she likes better than to dress up in anything that is fancy – especially if it sparkles! This year her Christmas presents included pink glitter shoes, a fancy tutu, a feathered headband, and a box of my SIL’s old jewelry. She spent the night decked out in all her regalia walking around the family room and randomly posing (mind you, no one was taking pictures of her, she was just posing for herself :) ).
-Lexi also gave us the biggest laugh this year when she sang through dinner! She would take a bite of food and then break into a song – which she would make up and make absolutely no sense. It was generally a combination of a Christmas carol, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo (from Cinderella).
Sometimes I try and remember what Christmas was like before we had any little kids around....it must have been pretty dull!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas in Heaven

With the horrible shooting in CT last week, death and loss is at the forefront of many people's minds. This past Saturday I was at a funeral and this beautiful poem was read. I've heard it before, but with the loss of both my grandparents this year, I heard it this weekend with a new light. 

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like Heavens stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you 
of joy their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I can't tell you of the splendor
or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas
With our Savior face to face.

I'll ask him to life your spirit 
as I tell him of your love
so then pray for one another
as you life your eye above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending Christmas in Heaven
and I'm walking with the King.

Anonymous

Friday, December 14, 2012

Embracing Weird

Do you ever have something that you feel like the Lord is just pushing on your heart? That at first you might just think is a bleep on the radar, but all of the sudden it keeps coming up again and again.

Over the past two and a half years, I have felt God placing it on my heart to embrace the weird.

I know - sounds ridiculous right? But the truth is that I'm tired of living what may be considered a "normal" life and letting what culture tells me dictate what decisions I make. I'd like to think that I have never been afraid to march to the beat of my own drum, but lately I've recognized the importance of not only accepting living a counter-cultural life, but striving for it.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:1-2

What do I mean? I mean purposely making choices like letting my faith dictate every decision I make, choosing to maintain strict physical boundaries in my relationship, living simply - debt free - and within my economic limits, dressing modestly, seeking to strive to be hospitable and commit to investing in relationships, going to law school - and then choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, choosing to homeschool my children, etc.

All to frequently I find myself engaging in conversation with individuals whom I would consider to be passive Christians. Yes they believe in God, but their faith is restricted to a Sunday morning worship service and occasional mid-week Bible study. The reality is that this passive Christianity is not working.    To truly embrace the Word of God we need to be willing to make sacrifices for him - we need to be willing to seek out ways to live out the Word on a daily basis and in a manner that might make other uncomfortable.

"The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions."
Proverbs 28:1

I don't believe everyone's weird is the same. I listed above a couple of things that I have come to believe are really important and plan on striving to implement in my own life, but your weird may revolve more around how you seek to be a good steward of God's creation, or how you strive to be a bold witness in your workplace.

Let's face it - alot of people think that Christians are weird enough already - so why not embrace it? I rather be considered weird by my peers and be seeking to serve Christ to my fullest than to seek to fit in with popular culture and be willing to put my faith on the back burner.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7



*Some books that I would highly recommend in regards to this topic are "Cunchy Con" by Rod Dreher and "Weird" by Craig Groeschel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dreary Days

I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. I was actually thinking the other day what next year will be like, when I will experience the first December in the last THIRTEEN years with no exams (this is of course, assuming I will have passed the BAR in July...). 

God is good, all the time.

But I really do dread these first couple of weeks of December. The get-up-and-study-all-day-realize-you-haven't-left-the-house-in-a-week-and-haven't-shower-in-three-days kindof weeks. I always know it is exam season because I have exactly 2 pairs of sweatpants, 2 long sleeve tops, and a sweatshirt that I rotate wearing. Its like my mind literally decides it's too much of an effort to put into actually getting dressed!

Positives of these weeks - I eat a LOT of chocolate and generally let myself sleep in a little later. Also, although Allie isn't due until Jan. 5, the doctors are speculating the baby will come in the next week or two! Although Lexi will still cuddle with me sometimes this auntie is ready for a little baby to fill her arms again!


So for another week this blog will be sparse - my words are all being put towards defining the establishment of corporations and differentiating between common and preferred stock (which I really do not care at all about). And then I will hopefully return refreshed and rejuvenated before I start my final semester of law school!

And since this post is random, I'll leave you with yet another random clip of my favorite princess, who also just so happens to be dropping by tomorrow night to give me a little studying reprieve with some Christmas baking.






Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Burst of Sunshine

Nothing makes a Wednesday night better than a Princess visit to break up the studying. (Side note - she requested sparkle shoes and fancy dresses for Christmas)



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lucia 2012

This upcoming Saturday I’m participating in one of my favorite holiday traditions.
I attend a covenant church. The original founders of the covenant church were predominantly Swedes (this meant that when my family left the Christian Reformed church during my early elementary years (which is a historically Dutch church community) I left a church full of Van Ests, Vander Lars, and Boomsmas to go to a church dominated by Andersons, Petersons, Swansons, and  Larsons!) In the 70s, several families in my church decided to get together and start a new Christmas program and outreach that focused on the celebration of the church’s Swedish heritage – thus St. Lucia was born.
St. Lucia was a young girl who was martyred for her faith aroud 340 AD. The traditional story is that she brought food to the Roman Christians hiding in the catacombs and wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way and allow her hands to be free to carry the supplies. Today she is represented wearing a white dress (symbolizing purity) and a red sash (symbolizing her willingness to sacrifice her life for her faith).
The sanctuary all set up before the first breakfast - about 7:30 am

Every year on the first Saturday in December our church puts on 3 breakfasts open to the community. The first breakfast (which serves Swedish food) begins around 8 am and the remaining 2 are spaced about 2 hours apart. All of the pews are removed from our sanctuary and tables and Swedish decorations fill the space instead. One of my favorite parts of the celebration has always been that the entire church participates – from about 2/3 years old on up. Here are some examples:
Tomtar – “Little Elf” – the smallest children do a series of 4 dances around a Christmas tree in the center of the room. (This is absolutely adorable and was one of my favorite parts of participating in Lucia J)

Star Dancers – Older elementary children who also do a set of dances
Star Boys
Pepparkakor Girls – Sing and pass out cookies – the national Lucia in Sweden will often pass out Pepparkakor cookies (like ginger snaps) when she goes visiting
Lucia’s Court – high school girls
St. Lucia – typically whatever 12th grade girls are present rotate the role. The year I was Lucia the  church still put on 4 breakfasts and there was only one other senior girl participating so I was able to be Lucia twice. It really was one of my favorite Christmas memories – although walking around with a crown of candles was a little intimidating!
Annika was one of our Lucia's this year (and the best one!) and her sister Malin - our families are close friends and we have pics every year of the 3 of us girls since I was about 10.

The adults participate by – serving the breakfast, participating in the Chorus (who sings throughout the program), playing handbells, doing food preparation and clean up, and making up the orchestra.
This year I am playing the violin in our small 5-piece orchestra.
My brother (who did all the sound and lighting) and me

Some people might think the whole thing is pretty strange, especially when the majority of our church members are not Swedish, but I always loved the opportunity to participate in what felt like more of a historical Christmas program. I think there is also such a great connection in regards to the story of St. Lucia and her connection to the Christmas story. In fact, she is often referred to as the “bride of light.” I know that this tradition won’t last forever, but the lighting of candels in early winter always makes me think of Lucia and Christ lighting the way.
The front of the church where I played with the orchestra.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?