"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What do I know?

I just heard this song for the first time yesterday, but I think it's a new favorite. It really is what I've been realizing in the last month or so. I have so far to go before I see and worship God in a way worthy of His greatness. But at the same time I am so glad and grateful and amazed that He is such a BIG God that we can't even wrap our little human brains around the thought of Him.

I want to know more of Holy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Random Updates

A completely random picture for a completely random post

The month of March has been quite busy thus far! My twin was gone in Africa for 10 days, leaving me a bit "down," as well as one of the few available drivers. I also ended up sick for most of that time!

My parents got the great opportunity to travel to Arizona over last weekend; it was really a business trip, but the first time both of them have been away overnight since our last adoption, and a nice break for them. That means...I was BOSS for a few days! (Cue evil laugh) The nine of us still at home had a great time, actually, visiting the library, the park, and the movie theater, as well as some time with friends.

Our cousins came for a visit, the first in a year. We've been great friends for as long as we can remember, so though the visit was short, it was filled with laughter and hugs.

We welcomed the Africa team home at the airport. Though exhausted, they had great things to report of the great things God had done!

And, I've been working hard to finish my degree! God willing, I only have about a week until I'm done with ALL coursework!!! It's hard to describe how excited this makes me. I've been so blessed and learned so much throughout this experience, but I tell you, I'm ready to learn outside the classroom context for a while!

Well, since I have a big test tomorrow, I should head off and study, but I'll leave you with a favorite quote:
"I find a deep mine of comfort in this thought, that Jesus is a perfect Man no less than a perfect God. He in whom I am told by Scripture to trust is not only a great High Priest, but a feeling High Priest. He is not only a powerful Savior, but a sympathizing Savior. He is not only the Son of God, mighty to save, but the Son of Man, able to feel."
                                                            ~Holiness, page 195, J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Virtuous Woman

"A virtuous woman is a woman of resolution, who, having espoused good principles, is firm and steady to them, and will not be frightened with words and clouds from any part of her duty."
~Matthew Henry

Sunday, March 4, 2012

An Unforgettable Weekend

"The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer...it is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden underfoot by those who have the gift every day... among earnest Christians in the church today is a growing desire to meet together with other Christians in the rest periods of their work for common life under the Word. Communal life is again being recognized by Christians today as the grace that it is, as the extraordinary, as the 'lilies and roses' of the Christian life." 
                                                                                ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

         I was blessed to experience that in a very real way in late January. Though I haven't spent much time blogging about it, I've almost completed my degree through CollegePlus!, an accelerated distance learning program. Though such a route is not for everyone, I've loved earning my degree debt-free and moving through it more quickly than if I had attended a brick-and-mortar college. I've also loved being able to live at home with my family, remain active in my church and community, and travel through the school year. CollegePlus! is not a way to get off easy--beyond doubt, it's hard work, but it has also proven to be rewarding. 

          One blessing I didn't expect to receive from College Plus was friendship. I expected the road to be a bit lonely, but how wrong I was! In the last couple of years, I've gained some of the richest and deepest friendships I've yet experienced. Though I met these friends online (*gasp* yes it's true!), I've met quite a few of them in the last year and a half, and in January I got to spend a whole weekend with them in California! 

        It's hard to sum up the deep conversations, side-aching laughter, inside jokes, awesome games of Ultimate Frisbee, "hymn fests", and wonderful fellowship that went on that weekend in anything less than a book. So I'll try sticking a few lot of pictures in here, and add a bit of commentary so you can get a taste! (Quite a bit of the photo credit goes to friends who took more pictures than I did!)

I love traveling with my favorite twin. :) We flew right over the Grand Canyon, which was absolutely breath-taking and a great reminder of God's great power in creation. {Credit: Katie}

We had great friends join us as travel partners: Katie (pictured left), Kali, and Eric (not pictured.) Since Eric and Kali hail from the far east coast (which might as well be another country for us Midwesterners), it was an extra blessing that we got to spend the extra time with them. {Credit: Katie}

Almost there! Riding to our host's house in a 15 passenger. L to R: Beth, India, Kali, and yours truly. {Credit: Katie}

One of the people I was most excited about seeing (though I loved seeing everyone!) was my dear cousin, Amanda. We're only 15 days apart, and she's an incredibly godly and precious friend. {Credit: India}

Mr. Cover graciously spent time sharing with us wisdom gleaned from God's word: much of what he talked about was about our life purpose, which of course is a subject of keen interest to college students! These sessions were some of my favorite times that weekend. Also, many thanks are due to our gracious hosts who worked so hard to make the weekend possible. {Credit: S. Cover}

We also spent a lot of time singing hymns and praise songs; not because we were forced to, but because it was a genuine joy to sing the praises of our King together. One thing I really appreciated about the gathering was the Christlike fellowship: our interaction was pure clean fun, without the flirting or drinking expected of college parties. This wasn't because of legalism, but because our Savior Jesus has taken away our desires for such things and taught us to love and serve Him.

Other activities included skits... {Credit: Amanda}
"IT'S A BOY!!!" If you're wondering what this was about, try reading 1 Samuel 1. {Credit: Amanda}
Church, and a fellowship meal afterwards. {Credit: Amanda}

We're mature. Really.
We also enjoyed quite a few Ultimate games; some card and board games; cooking and cleaning up together; way too little sleep and way too much coffee; Skittles (a College Plus favorite); early morning walks; and good conversations over meals. {Credit: Amanda}
Oh and we laughed...{credit: Amanda}

a lot. {credit: Amanda}

John and I have known the Nisus (the brother and sister on the left) for more than eleven years now! So we were thrilled when Andrew joined College Plus this past summer and our long-time friends quickly came to know our newer College Plus friends.
We enjoyed the time with newer friends as well. 
I was surprised and thrilled to find Beka at the gathering! Although a fairly new friend, Beka feels like a sister already: a joyful, smiley, wise, Jesus-loving sister!
If Beka is like a little sister, then Hannah is my wonderful older sister. I've known her for nearly three years now, and enjoyed everything from side-splitting laughs, to late nights camping in the back of a van (long story), to deep conversations about the Jesus we both love. 
India wins the prize for "world's most gorgeous hair" for sure! Annnd, to top it off she has a great sense of humor and knows how to keep Katie on her toes.
God somehow took people from different backgrounds from all over the country and knit our hearts together in Him. 
Told ya this was a lot of pictures. Bear with me, I'm almost done! And yes, the above is captured evidence of A. Nisius' "naughty" laugh. 
What can we say? 
Too little sleep can do funny things to a person.
See what I mean?

The Bethanys and me.

Beka and Katie
It was very hard to say goodbye, but God has given each of us a special place to serve Him: we are not Home yet. 
I'm so grateful for the time I got to spend with these great friends! 

Wow that was long. If you made it this far, thanks for your patience. Ha!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Random Picture Time II

I'm pushing to finish my last college classes, but here are a few random pictures to keep the blog alive. 

Duluth, MN--August 2011

One of my very bestest friends: my older sister, Anna. I can't believe she and Aaron are coming up on their first anniversary and are looking forward to the birth of their baby girl in June! Photo credit: Lauren LaPlante.

A beautiful orthodox synagogue I was able to enter in St. Petersburg last year; it was so neat to see the inside of one, but my team and I were the only women in the building, and I don't think the worshiping men were too happy with us, so we left quickly! It made me very grateful for the Messiah, though.  
Anna and I with our long-time friend, Elizabeth Nisius. She has been a loving, faithful friend for more than eleven years now and we're so grateful to know her!
 A little miracle baby from our church family. Born Christmas Day, 2010, Z arrived three months before his due date and was not supposed to live. Today he is thriving and a happy boy! God is good.

This picture was taken in 2008 when our family (back then there were "only" 11 of us) made the trip back to England. Though a bit grainy, I love this image.
Taken at a barn not far from our house (hmm I think I posted this already--oh well, you'll just have to see it a 2nd time! )
"Mark" and "Cassandra" in MN, November 2011. It's been so wonderful to see both of them develop their own skills and interests as they grow up!
Tiny four year old Natasha shows off her new photo album of our family, a gift from Mom and Dad the day they met her--Russia, 2004.
A wonderful friend--Beka is great fun, and loves Jesus so much!

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel: graduation here I come!!