HAPPY 2006! Goodbye 2005, Hello 2006! We are excited to see what 2006 holds for us, there will be a lot of changes in our lives, but we are looking forward to them and we will be sure to keep you posted!
A big Congratulations to my cousin and dear friend Vanessa and her husband Wally. They will be expecting Sam (the name goes for a girl or boy) in early August 2006! Love you both! Cannot wait to meet your firstborn child!
Happy 22nd Birthday to my oldest brother Alec. (He is the one with the red on)We look the most like each other out of all the siblings, and had a blast (good times and bad) growing up together. Love you Al! Love you Guy Smiley! Go Casa de Awesome!
Justin and I have had many conversations about our society and how much we let it influence us sometimes. I can admit it, I am guilty. The problem is the concerns we have with our appearances cannot be blamed in our culture, but our hearts. We are obsessed with all things physical. But the truth of it is that the truth of who we are is in our hearts, not what our outer appearance reflects. This is not a huge revelation, we all know this, but we really do not think about it. Even the most unattractive being you can think of, is not even half as ugly as the sin that is in all of our hearts. There is only one who can give us the most beautiful heart, can create beauty in us, our savior, Jesus.
Romans 1:18-23- " 18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."
Worshiping is not something that we do just for fun, it shows who we are. The issue of worship is who/what do we worship? We so easily fall into worshiping worldly things, I mean it is so easy considering what we are surrounded by in our everyday lives. I can honestly say that I struggle with falling into this sin. Probably one of my biggest vices is fashion and style. I get caught up in how our home looks, how I look, how my family looks, and have too much concern for what others think. I feel embarrassed because we have old junky couches because we cannot afford new ones because my husband is in graduate school. Rather I should be content with what I do have. I want to make the point that it is okay to like and even want nice things. But be careful! It can become an obsession. Clothes for me, yikes! I am constantly checking out the latest and greatest in style, never wanting to miss a step. And I think it is fine for me to want to look nice and have nice clothes, BUT I do not need every new style that comes out, and I can utlilize what I already have better. I have a creative mind, I should use it more in my closet! Sounds easier said than done to just place all temptations aside, and say "Forget you world, I do not care." The truth is that it is a reality. We do fight this war of constant judging, people judging us, us judging people. We cannot escape it, but we need to create a healthy balance for ourselves so we do not get too caught up in what our culture deems right. How can we do this? What is our hope? What is our solution? Jesus! He can fill my cup, he can fill my dark evil heart with his glory. He can make me grand! And by this beautiful heart filled with his glory, I can share his mercy with others, that he might consume thier heart with his glory.
As Paul Tripp put it so well, " Think about living as a camper. The sole point of camping is to make you thankful for home. You go out on that first day with visions and rural grandeur. You love tha portable dwelling called a tent. You have pilgrim delusions. You enjoy the first meal cooked over the campfire. You say "Doesn't food cooked over an open fire taste so much better?" You love that first night in the tent, hearing the animal sounds in the distance. But, three days later, you complain about the gritty food and complain your back hurts from sleeping on the hard ground. The tent has taken on sub-human odors. Th cooler once full of ice, is now filled with liquid. Your Campfire roast is now a drowned, soggy, unappetizing, grayish, piece of animal muscle. You long for a srove that turns on with a click. You think that one of God's sweetest gifts is a flush toliet. And you hope someone in your family will say, "Let's go home early." That is how we are supposed to think and live as God's pilgrims in this fallen world. But what have we done with camping in this Western culture? The same thing we have done with the human identity. We now camp in sixty-foot Winnebagos with Satalite dishes, and fifty inch plasma televisions. We want a campsite so luxurious that it is better than home. We have inverted the order."
Isn't that a wonderful analgy? It is so true, and although it is easy to blame culture (others) for our wants for material things, it is really about what is in our heart. What are heart wants is refected in how we live, the things we desire. And Christ is our only hope. We have so much to look forward to on our way home, so keep your eyes on the prize, living in eternity with Jesus. This is the most beautiful thing I can think of.
This song made tears stream down my face. A great song about the connection of the fall in the garden, and the death on the cross.
One choice One tree One fall for humanity One lie One liar One bite is all death required One great regret One squandered chance, and yet One hope One day One name above all other names One bridge between then and now One way to discover how One price One tree One drop of crimson covers me.
Only piano plays in the background while Nichole Nordeman's unique voice sings the words to this beautiful song. Listen to part of it at: http://www.nicholenordeman.com/media.aspx The song is called crimson.
In our marriage, something I love so dearly is our ability to laugh with each other and at each other. We laugh a lot, Just thinks I laugh too much sometimes because I find almost any silly thing funny. We have so much fun when we laugh. I have to share this quick story...
We are lying in bed one night talking about our younger days, and I was talking about the school I went to and my classmates. He began talking about school too, and said,
"Yeah most everyone liked me, except for these two guys, for some reason they did not like me." To which I responded, " Who Jared and Jordan?" (his two brothers)
We laughed for a good twenty minutes.
If you don't know the Swanson children are all homeschooled, so I wondered who it could have been. He then informed me that he went to Judah Christian school where he played basketball during their lunch and study hall times, so he had friends there. Maybe you had to be there, but we got a kick out of it. Good times.
All of the snow from last weeks first snow was melted away, but on this first day of December I awoke to a fresh new blanket of snow on the ground. I could hear the snow plow go by, and I smiled to myself. I was eager to get Maxwell and show him the white that covered the streets. He gave an "oh-ah"following the one I said, and as I set him down he began to walk around chit-chatting to himself. If only I could understand! But it is always fun to listen anyway. Yesterday Max and I hung the stockings, decorated the mantel, set up a nativity, and hung the mistletoe! We danced together to Christmas tunes, I absolutely love Christmas songs, and never get sick of them. It was a wonderful time. This time of year brings so much joy into my heart, as we celebrate our Saviors birth. I love going to the mall and watching people bustling about. Food never tastes better, coffee never so comforting, and people just seem sweeter. What a wonderful time of year!
Life feels like a rollercoaster so often, but if most of us think about it we have it pretty good. Even if we have been through some tough stuff, I always think to myself it could be worse. This this list is not complete by any means, it could be pages long and I am sure you want to read it as much as I want to type it. Here are some of the things I am most thankful for...
my Savior Jesus Christ, who has shown me he is the only way the complete truth, and my only hope for life. A life I will share with him in Heaven someday to glorify and enjoy him forever!
my husband Justin Robert,who is the leader in our home, a wonderful father, always laughs with me, is always there for me whenever I need him.
my firstborn son Maxwell Jared, who has not been sick once since he has been born (what a blessing that has been), is so adorable, and a talker like me so we always have a blast together. I would not trade my everydays with him for anything!
my parents, who rock! My Mom has such passion for Christ, is wonderful with reaching out to others, and a fabulous cook. My Dad, (the man who is an expert in everything, well if he does not know he can make something up that sounds really good!) is an incredible Doctor, who many love and respect, as do I .
my brothers, Alec, Carl, and Peter. Alec and are close, talk about anything, and tease each other well, If you have a computer problem, Alec is your man. Carl and I have this understanding between us so that we need to say no words. He is REALLY into music, and an amazing writer. Peter, my baby brother who slept on the floor in my room every night until I went to college is so fun. He is a great skateboarder and wants to be a pirate...I don't get it either...I think he saw Pirates of the Caribbean one too many times.
my in-laws. My father-in-law, John, a man I respect so much, who has the most gentle heart, has given me so much guidance and helped me through tough times in my life. My mother-in-law, Jane, the best at scrapbookerI know has the best sense of humor, and shares an understanding with me about those Swanson men! She has been so great to me. Jared, I am so thankful for him, an incredible friend, in my college days he and I would chat on the phone about everything and anything, he was always ready to listen. Julia, the best nurse I know, is so kind and has so much love for others. Jordan, besides the fact he always breaks something when he comes over I am always so happy when he comes. He has a compassionate heart and is always talking, he has some fun stories. Joelle, who reminds me of myself when I was her age, has INCREDIBLE fashion sense and the best personality. That girl could open a music store with all the CD's she owns. Jaimee Grace. Maxwell's best bud, she is always willing to play with him. She has given us so many of her art masterpieces. She is quite the artist, and I always have something from her on the fridge.
my extended family, all the Swansons, Van Dinters, Thomsens, Wojciechowski's, Melchers, Heidkamps, Tantillo's, Boss's, Zoefel's, and Schmits.
my Aunt Sue and Uncle Don who were like a second set of parents to me growing up. They are both so hospitable, humble, kind, and generous. I will never forget getting my mouth washed out with soap though!
my best friends( and cousins) in the world, Nicole and Vanessa. Nicole and I are only a month apart, Nessa a year older. Nicole and I were married a week apart, and talk so fast to each other our husbands often get confused. Vanessa is soooo good about talking with me and checking to see how I am, as she does Nicole too, she is such a great listener. We always have a blast the three of us! And, their husbands rock too! The six of us can always have fun together!
my dear friend Sara who is also my neighbor. It is so nice to have someone so close, to grab a cup of coffee and just chat about nothing and everything. She is also a fabulous shopping buddy! I can't help but wonder... (he he, I had to through that in Sara!) Kevin rocks too!
old friends who do such a great job keeping in contact with me, because sometimes, I am not so good at that. Thanks you guys, you know who you are.
to be able to live in this country with all the freedoms I have. I am thankful for a roof over my head, plenty to eat, more than enough clothes to wear, and all the other luxuries I do not need but have.
I have so much to be thankful for, and I thank God that he has blessed me so much.
Congratulations to the Deleeuw family on the birth of their new baby boy, Samuel Reid. Please pray for Samuel as he is having surgery for a pulmonary stenosis in his heart, and for his parents, and siblings who are eagerly awaiting for him to come home.
As my feet escaped from underneath the covers and hit the floor this morning I realized that perhaps we should reconsider using our heat. For some reason, our room is freezing, like North Pole freezing. The kitchen, living room, bathrooms, and Maxwell's rooms all stay warm, but our room is that room that all homes have that seems to always be cold. Anyway, as I gazed out the window into another overcast day, my eyes soon hit the ground where I found snow! Yes, snow. I really was surprised. I just was not ready for it yet. But alas, there it lays, and it shows no sign of stopping at this point. All the thoughts of winter came rushing into my head, the love/hate relationship I have with it.
I hate winter, because I hate feeling the cold bitter wind rush unto my skin even though I was sure I covered up every inch of exposed skin. I love winter because of bundling up and putting on fabulous mittens, scarf, and hat.
I hate winter because I hate getting out of bed in the morning. I want to stay under the blankets all day. I love winter because my morning cup of coffee never tastes better!
I hate winter because I hate wearing socks. I love winter because I am thankful for socks to keep my toes warm.
I hate winter because I hate the slushy dirty snow. I love winter because I love going out to a quiet space late at night when it is snowing and feeling the snowflakes on my face and enjoying the peace and quiet.
I hate winter because I hate driving in the snow. I love winter because I love playing in the snow!
I hate winter because of the cold, I love winter because it is more fun to snuggle up with your husband...and intertwining your freezing feet in his warm ones.
Gloomy days. They are the days you can stay in bed late without feeling too guilty. They are the days you can justify spending more time in the shower. They are the days that you realize you are so immersed in God's word you forget about your coffee and it gets cold. They are the days you spend watching Thomas the Train with your son. They are the days you can spend hours in the bookstore, or as long as you son will be content. They are the days where you can put a little extra cocoa in your hot cocoa. They are the days you get the urge to clean. They are the days when you are so thankful for your fireplace to curl up next to and read a book. They are the days that snuggling up with your husband feels really secure. They are the days that make you look forward to sunny days.This has been our life for the last 4 days and it has not been all that bad.
"Yes, I'll marry you, my dear, And here's the reason why; So I can push you out of bed When the baby starts to cry, And if we hear a knocking And it's creepy and it's late, I hand you the torch you see, And you investigate." - Pam Ayers
The above quote holds very true in our house!
Justin and I had a wonderful evening. We went out for a nice dinner, and then Just surprised me with a trip to Starbucks. I can always go for a cup of coffee no matter what time of day. Although I will be paying for it tomorrow because here it is 12:30 and I have a long day tomorrow that begins early in the morning. Justin is not known for his Romaticism, but will plead his case. He and I are quite opposites, he is more reserved and I am more outgoing. I remember when we first met the Swansons my parents kept urging me to pursue a friendship with Justin, and I was like who is Justin ( ok I knew who he was) because the first time we went over to the Swansons I only remember Jared and his friend Joel, who had personalities similar to mine. Justin and I got to know each other better on a vacation our families took together and you know what I liked the guy. Fast forward eight years, and here we are married with a baby boy, and I can say I love him more than ever. We have been through a lot, if you know us well, you know I am not kidding! But we have made it through thick and thin, and I would not want it to be with anyone else. He hugs me at least once a day if not more, we ALWAYS say I love you on the phone before good-bye or before one of us leaves the house. That is something I cherish very much. We have tried the whole "don't go to bed angry" and we have done fairly well, but nobody's perfect. But we really have a good time together, we tease each other in good fun, and laugh a lot. We just get each other. I love him!
"A mother…by her planning and industry night and day, by her willfulness of love, by her fidelity, she brings up her children. Do not read to me the campaigns of Caesar and tell me nothing about Napoleon’s wonderful exploits. For I tell you that, as God and the angels look down upon the silent history of that woman’s administration, and upon those men-building processes which went on in her heart and mind through a score of years;—nothing exterior, no outward development of kingdoms, no empire-building, can compare with what mother has done. Nothing can compare in beauty, and wonder, and admirableness, and divinity itself, to the silent work in obscure dwellings of faithful women bringing their children to honor and virtue and piety." -Henry Ward Beecher
The day we got home from the hospital with Maxwell, Justin and I were so exhausted. Both of us could have collapsed into our bed and have slept for three days! However, with a newborn that was not an option! I think we had it a little harder than most new families, my labor lasted over 36 hours and Maxwell was having really hard time breastfeeding, but by the time we got home we thought things would settle down and get easier. We were both in bed trying to nap, and Maxwell wakes up wanting to eat, and breastfeeding is not going well and so we give him a little formula, and he is still upset! I am crying by this point mostly through exhaustion but also from frustration with this child! He finally calms down and goes back to sleep. I look at Justin and burst into tears, "What were we thinking?" I bawled. He began to cry too (from pure exhaustion) and I went on, "Why didn't anyone warn us?". Now, let me tell you, all of us have pre-conceived notions of becoming parents, yes we know it will be hard, but it will be worth it, and it will be mostly good. Boy, were my ideas way off! It was nothing like I expected! Those first few weeks, were so long and tiring, I thought I would never ever leave the house again. I did not see how it could be possible to have anything else to do but to tend to this baby! Then came our rescue squad, my Mom, and my Mother-in-law. They took turns coming every day so for about a week we had someone there to help us out. It was such a blessing to have that, they were so great! To my friends planning on starting a family soon, or are soon expecting their little one, I warned you! It is hard, really hard! Those first few weeks seem like they will be your doom, but it gets better. SO much better. You get to know you baby and what he/she needs and my advice is to call upon our Savior. Seek him, and his comfort and help. Take help from family and friends, you will be so thankful in the end you did ( I always said I did not want people to be around, just us and Max, I quickly changed my mind). But most of all seek God. He will put his arms around you and comfort you, he will fill your cup. he will give you hope, he will show you his unconditional love, he will remind you that he is in complete control of every second of your life!
"Or to put it most simply and starkly: the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering. The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be. " -John Piper
I recieve e-mails from Desiring God on a regular basis and this one could not have come at a better time. I have been feeling sorry for myself all week, dwelling in all the suffering I have been through over the last 4 years. I have been through a lot, but today I realized I have been buying into the worldly view of suffering, and feeling sorry for myself. I have been trying to love myself first and make me happy. When I realized I was acting this way I was ashamed. From the quote above "...suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering." The ultimate sacrifice. Jesus who was and is perfect took our place to bring us to the Father for eternal joy but furthermore to show his amazing grace to us. To bring glory to himself. Life on this earth is so short, and dwelling on all that is wrong in our lives serves us no purpose at all. Rather, we should be resting in the arms of our Savior. Waking up each morning worshipping our Savior, spending time in his word, and living our life for him! Easier said than done right? Of course, so my prayer is that I and you, will seek Christ daily, even when you have no motivation to crack open his word, and honestly talk with him so that his glory may shine through in your life. Do not waste your life.Those of us who believe, love and know Christ are forever prosporous in him and his glory, so share that proserity with our broken world!
Maxwell looked so cute in this puppy costume, but he was not that fond of it. He did not like the hood. But he stayed in it long enough to get some good pics and show it off. He loves pups, his first word, and everytime we see one he gets so excited. Justin wants to get him one, but I do not think I am ready for that responsibility yet. He is talking more than ever nowdays saying; baby, pease or peeps (please), hi, bye, and the funniest thing is whenever he hears a phone ring he puts his hand by his ear and says hi. So funny. The joys of children!
Although my Aunt Sue's birthday was actually on the 28th we celebrated on the 29th! Nicole and Vanessa (her daughters) planned out a wonderful bash! The day was filled with pumpkins, bales of hay, apple cider, bobbing for apples, writing Haikous, estimating, Chipotle, and Carrot Cake! Vanessa(aka the game queen) planned the fun games, and just being with one another is always a blast. We ended the night all surrounding a fire laughing and sharing stories. Marc and Nicole, your place not only looks great, ( you have done wonders with the remodel job) but is very hospitable. Thanks for hosting. Always a good time with the Melchers.