Friday, December 26, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And what is Christmas again?

This year Christmas has looked different to me than ever before. Up until last year Christmas has consisted of a two week long break with no responsibilities, tons of presents and tons of fun. Christmas was always a break and full of activities and sleep. But this year for the first time ever I will work Christmas Eve and I will work the day after Christmas. This year we did almost no present buying or gift exchanging. And although at times leading up to Christmas it was hard to get excited about Christmas and it was disappointing that it wasn't going to be exactly the way I wanted it to be I am thankful that it ended up the way it did. It has forced me to make Christmas not about an emotional feeling of excitement or about the gifts but instead I have had to search for what really is Christmas. I learned that first and foremost it is not about me and what I want it to be. It has been hard to fight against what the world has made Christmas to be. I said last night that sometimes it seems like it would be nice to celebrate Christmas on a day different than rest of the world in order to be able to focus on Jesus's birth. All the celebrations and presents and music and decorations can sometimes just feel like static that gets in the way of a very special day. Does Satan use all of these things that feel so innocent and fun to distract us from worshiping and celebrating the day our God came to earth to save us? I think so.

Christmas Eve has always been my favorite part of Christmas and Silent night has always been my favorite Christmas song. Why? Because on Christmas Eve the world actually stops. Suddenly things are quiet, suddenly people have quit there busy lives and everyone goes home from work, people quit shopping and reside in the comfort of there own homes with the families they love. No other day of the year do we as a nation STOP. No other day of the year is the world quieter. No other day of the year in there a Silent Night for our Savior. It is a holy night, one when our God Immanuel (God with us) came to Earth to be WITH US, to SAVE US! It is so much more than Jesuses birthday and so much more than presents, cookies, and decorations. Without that Silent and Holy night we could not have been saved. Without that night we would not be able to call upon Jesus to save us from our sins. We would not have a God who understands all that we go through here on Earth because he never would have walked the Earth WITH US! So tonight enjoy the quietness and peacefulness of the world around you more than you enjoy the presents and good food. Take a night to be still and KNOW THAT HE IS GOD!

Because this is what Christmas is...

The night that Mary, "gave birth to a son, and gave him the name Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins. The virgin was with child and gave birth to a son, and they called him Immanuel- which means 'God with us'" Matthew 1:21-23

Saturday, December 20, 2008

UPS Adventures

Yesterday (Friday) we got some CRAZY snow in Michigan. At one point we were getting an estimated 3 inches per hour! I believe it because I'm pretty sure I had an inch on ME after scraping off my car in the morning! We got a total of at least 10 inches in less than 12 hours and apparently the state plow guys need a government bailout - they were nowhere to be found!

As you can imagine, a UPS package car (pictured above) is probably the WORST possible vehicle to try to drive through the snow. It was rare to find a road that had been plowed, and even the most gentle slope gave us trouble. My driver and I probably got stuck 6 or 7 times, plus countless times crawling around neighborhoods and tromping through a foot or more of untouched snow.

The photo above is not a road - it's a driveway that I had to walk up with a package in my arms as the driver pulled up to the next house and walked a different driveway that was just as long. Pretty, though, isn't it?

As tough as the weather makes life, though, it's hard to complain about such beauty. Happy snow day!

-Mark- +

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Early Christmas

Mark and I had an unplanned early Christmas today when he decided that he would "make" my Christmas present right in front of me. For several hours he was sawing, staining and nailing something and I was clueless the whole time. It did make it much more exciting than just opening a present. It was kind of like unwrapping a present only very, very slowly! In the end it turned out to be a frame with wire in between that I can hang all of my jewelry on! I was very excited considering all of my jewelry is just laying in a drawer. The coolest part about it though was that he thought of it, and then made it. I love living in a home where we can be creative and build things. They aren't always perfect but neither are we and I like it like that. I love my husband and how much he cares about me and does everything he can to meet my needs and make me happy! Im so thankful for him!

I did get Mark a present but there was no creativity on my part. He wanted the website domain name . So I got that for him which you can hope to see in the next few months when he launches it with his newly written music.

We will post pictures later of Mark's creation!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Almost Story Time!

This past Sunday was our first official week as "Storytellers" rather than "Journeyers." We had what's called a practice service where the core team gets together to informally run through a service.

Aaron gave the message he will be giving next week...

...and Jen & I made sure there were no technical glitches.

This coming Sunday, we'll hold two preview services (9:30 & 11:15) where we actually invite people to start getting a taste of what The Story: a Community Church will be like. It was lots of fun worshiping with new people and getting to know them. Can't wait till Sunday!

-Mark- +

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Only at UPS...

Have you ever heard those "Only in America" jokes? Like, only in America do banks leave vault doors wide open yet chain their pens to the desk. Or only in America are there handicap parking spots at a skating rink. Well, how about a variation:

Only at UPS will you find a bag of packing peanuts and a filing cabinet in the employee restroom!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How We Measure Snowfall

How Jen & I measure the snowfall without even turning on the TV:

Fun with the Journey staff

Two Monday nights ago (December 1) we went out for a night of food & fun with Jon & Erica and Ben & Sharon and Ben's mom to celebrate the last 15 months we've spent at Journey Church. The 7 of us went to Johnny Carino's for dinner and enjoyed their "Two can dine for $14.99" deal times three. We had a good time, shared lots of laughs, and a few sentimental stories. Ben's mom tried to get us all to cry but I don't think she succeeded :-)

After dinner, we went back to Jon & Erica's house and played cards like the good-ol'-days. We avoided playing Pit this time, since I (Mark) ended up 240 points in the hole last time. Instead, we played a dice game called Fill Or Bust. Jen seemed to be the lucky roller that night, and we were pretty sure it was because of the red fleece blanket. Towards the end of the game, when he had a chance to knock out the leader, Jon borrowed the lucky blanket and rolled a perfect roll!

There was a pic of him bowing down to the lucky blanket after his roll, but I didn't want that one falling into the wrong hands ;-P

All in all it was a GREAT night. We will definitely miss being so close to two awesome couples.

-Mark- +

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why I Love Mac

I've tried to stay neutral with the whole Mac vs PC thing. As most of you know, I prefer Apple products but I try not to knock PC. Yesterday, however, I was fully "converted."

The hard drive on my 2-year-old MacBook went kaput. Jen and I were way bummed becaused I didn't buy Apple Care (extended warranty) when I bought the computer because I couldn't afford it. I went to the Apple Store yesterday at 10:30 to have a Mac Genious look at it. Steve the Mac Genious checked a few things, then went to the back to see if they had the part in stock. When he came back out is when I got my surprise...

"We're going to replace your hard drive for you. I also noticed that your keyboard cover is chipped and discolored, a known flaw with this model. We'll replace that for you too at no charge. Merry Christmas."

Haha! Apple rules!

"And we'll have it for you at noon."

No way! I love Mac. Thanks, Steve!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Saying goodbye and saying hello...

So this is our last week at Journey. It has finally come and with a ton of emotions...

For those of you who don't know, Mark and I will be leaving Journey Church this week and heading up to the north side of town (comstock park) to help launch another church called The Story. There are tons of reasons for this decision that are not worth explaining but bottom line--God said "Go" so we what do we do? Well duh...we GO!

So as we approach this last week I think we are thankful to have transitions done but are sad to leave something that was nothing when we got here. We have watched God build a church from just a few people to a family of 170 or so. We have seen lives changed and people saved through the mighty power of Jesus Christ. We have invested so much and made many amazing friends and most of all we have grown individually and together. We have seen God move in so many ways. Leaving has been hard but at the same time we are so excited to start a new adventure. We can't wait to be a part of watching God build yet another new church. We can't wait to see what God change lives in Comstock Park and we are so excited to be following an amazing Pastor, Aaron, whom God has given an incredible vision.

The decision to leave Journey has been quite an adventure. When we originally felt God calling us to leave we had no idea where he was calling us to go. But we humbly submitted to the great provider and told Journey that we would have to follow God and take this step of faith. Shortly following, after much prayer, God brought The Story into our life and we eventually found our hearts and passions tied up in the vision of The Story. So we were excited and ready to make it happen even when we found out that The Story was not going to be able to pay Mark. But we knew AGAIN that God was calling us to take another step of faith and stay with the Story and wait for God to provide financially for us.

And again as always God shows up. Today Mark got a job with UPS! It is only seasonal but it allows him more time in a horrible job market to find a job. We are so thankful that the timing couldnt have been more perfect and that God takes care of those who love him.

This has been such a beautiful journey of obeying God and watching him move in our lives. It has been so hard and challenging but as always here we are again in awe of a God who never lets us down. As challenging as it can be to not have any idea what God is doing with your life it is so freeing to be completely in his hands. Sometimes I think it is where Mark and I feel the most comfortable. There were many moments where I (Jen) would think are we out of our minds? With the economy being so bad why in the world are we doing this? But then I remember that the one and only thing we are living for is God and the rest is only temporary. We are in the business of serving him and not ourselves. There is so much life in following him no matter how bumpy the road or how steep the mountain, God will always meet you right where you are at. He will carry us through and he will always win!

So as we did a year and half ago when we said goodbye to Faith and hello to Journey, we will now say goodbye to Journey and hello to The Story...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gorveatte bros vs Jonas bros

I'm watching the Jonas Brothers on the Rockafeller Christmas program, and I've figured out the difference between the Jonas Brothers and the Gorveatte Brothers (aka the Journey Church worship band):

The Gorveattes are cool and are good musicians.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Justin Ackert!

We went to Justin & Liz's wedding this past Saturday. It was fun to be a part of it. Mark was the "official" videographer, and Jen was the unofficial calmer-downer for Liz :-)

They had a beautiful, traditional ceremony at Liz's home church and a fun reception at the Grand Valley Armory. It was especially fun sharing the day with lots of Jen's co-workers, and the DJ was from our church! Congrats, Justin & Liz! We hope you're having a BLAST in San Diego right now!
Contact Us