Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010





I see that it's been 6 months since I last blogged. I've been having issues with this blogger website, but thanks to my sister-in-law, Rachel, I figured out that I had to get rid of my original background and stick to the backgrounds that blogger offers. Okay, so enough with the technical stuff...

So, Christmas has come and gone once again. Last year, we were in Australia, celebrating the Christmas season on the beach. This year, we were blessed with a gorgeous white Christmas!

Some of our Christmas traditions include:
- going downtown Chicago to Macy's to see the store front windows. This year, we went the Monday before Christmas. We drove to the South Loop and parked there. We then caught the EL, much to Joshua's delight, to Lake and State. And we walked around the historic Marshall Field's (now Macy's) building, and looked at the windows. We then went inside Macy's to look at the big Christmas tree in the Walnut Room. One day, we hope to be able to go there for lunch or something. I don't think I have the energy to do that with a preschooler and toddler this time! So, instead of lunch in the Walnut Room, we had lunch at the food court. Joshua got to pick some candy from the candy store after lunch too. Then, we headed back to the car and drove home.

- Christmas Eve: we started a new tradition where we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. We went to the Penang Restaurant in Arlington Heights on Algonquin Road. It was actually quite pleasant (we don't normally take the kids out to a restaurant these days because they just get too out of control!). We had planned to go see some Christmas lights, but the weather report was calling for a winter snow storm. So, we stayed home and had a family movie night. In keeping with tradition, the kids opened one present - usually it's their Christmas pajamas! This year, Joshua got Star Wars pjs, and Jenna got Elmo ones...very appropriate!

- Christmas Day: we always start our day by reading the Christmas story in Luke, followed by opening presents. This year, we got Joshua some Star Wars toys and a Leapfrog Leapster. Jenna's gifts were mostly Elmo-related, as well as a Leapfrog learning toy. We chose to give our kids only 3 gifts each. We believe this will help in teaching them that there is no need for overindulgence. Besides, Baby Jesus only received 3 gifts. So, should they!

Jared made us a pancake breakfast afterwards. And then, we all got ready to go to New Lennox for Christmas with the extended family. We spent the rest of the day there.

What will be my favorite and most significant memory of this Christmas is when Joshua told us that he loves Jesus, and that Jesus is in his heart!

I don't know if he knows what that means, and while Jared and I have always said that we're not going to push him into making any decisions, and that we'd prefer if he came to his decision on his own. Joshua truly blessed us with his affirmation of love for Jesus! We pray that he will truly know what it means to follow Christ, and to make Him his own personal Lord and Savior! Will keep you updated!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I am so thankful for a loving and gracious Heavenly Father. He is the perfect parent - the Comforter and Nurturer that I so desire. I am amazed at how much He loves me. He claims that I am the beloved daughter of the Most High God. How humbling, yet awesome is that! He is patient, waiting for me to come to Him when I finally carve a small fraction of time to spend with Him. Yet, when He sees me coming from the distance, He is the one who runs to me, like the father of the prodigal son. Happy that I've chosen to come home and rest in Him!

I had a dream once, and I believe it was a vision from God. A vision that I really needed to "see" and experience, and one that spoke to my heart, to reassure me of who God really is. In my dream, it was the day of the Wedding Feast. We were all dressed up as prince and princesses, with our long gorgeous gowns, pretty flowing hair (think of Arwyn or Galadriel in LOTR)...we all looked elegant and royal. A huge procession was taking place. We each had to walk up a long flight of steps to get to the altar where the throne of God was. And once there, God would give each of us our crown. It was a magnificent atmosphere - lots of cheering, the sound of trumpets filling the air (I think I heard music from Vivaldi, too!). It was approaching my turn soon, and I was very, very nervous. I felt so inadequate and shy - I don't like any kind of attention (ask Jared, even on our wedding day, I didn't like the front-and-center kind of attention!). And I felt like a peon. I mean, there were so many people there, and God probably just wanted to slap on my little crown on my little head, and move on to the next person. I mean, come on, He's got a lot of people to get through!!

Anyway, it was my turn. I couldn't even look up at Him because I was so nervous. I kept my eyes down and started to take my steps, making sure I didn't trip over my long gown. With each step, my face got warmer and warmer. I was afraid. Afraid that I wouldn't get His attention (I almost wished that it would just be God and me, and not this huge public spectacle!). So, I resigned myself to the fact that I would just get that crown, and He probably wouldn't even make eye contact with me, instead he'd be looking at who the next person is, and I'll just walk away and join the rest of the crowd.

About 3 or 4 steps into my walk, I heard these hurried footsteps coming from above. It was like an excited run. There was bounce in the steps! Then I see the shoes and the feet of the excited runner. And the next thing I knew, Jesus himself had run all the way down from the throne to meet me! In excitement, he swooped me up in a huge bear hug and swung me around and around. I don't even remember what He said. Maybe there were no words. But I literally sensed the love! He sees me! He loves me! He didn't wait for me to get all the way to the top of the steps. Instead, He ran down to meet me! And when His big arms enveloped me, I knew I was loved, cherished, and I was His beloved daughter!

And I truly believe that's who God is. Philip Yancey wrote "God's arms are always extended; we are the ones that turn away...".

When things get discouraging on this side of heaven, I hold on to that feeling of unconditional love. That my Father in heaven is crazy about me, and His love will sustain me, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how hard things get in this life. My Father is waiting for me at the top of the steps, and I KNOW that one day, I will feel those strong, loving arms around me!

Happy Father's Day, from His beloved daughter.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leaving Willow

I know it’s been a while since I blogged, but so much has happened in the lives of the Ahrens Family. I will attempt to write about each event and its significance, starting with us leaving Willow Creek Community Church.

It’s Friday night, June 11th, and I’m actually typing this is the dorm room at Wheaton College. We are here on a Congregational Retreat with our new church, Harvest Community. Jenna is fast asleep in her Pack N Play, there would be complete silence in this dark room except for the Praise Baby music and the only light, both of which are coming from my laptop. I haven’t had a quiet moment like this in weeks! (oh, Jared and Joshua are attending the first session of the retreat).

Jared’s last day at Willow was May 14th. The day before that, Joshua, Jenna, and I met Jared at Willow for our “last supper”, actually it was lunch, at the church. After lunch in the atrium, we took a walk around campus, revisiting the different places that have been significant to us.

The Atrium
We went to the gym where Axis services used to be held. We formed many friendships there - some of which still exist and will be for a life-time!

The Gym
We then walked to Room 162 where Summit (a medium-sized Axis group that met on Tuesdays for small groups) was held. It was there where Jared and I first met!

Summit Room

We journeyed down the hall to the Promisetowne rooms where Joshua attended PT classes on a weekly basis, and where I served with the Curriculum Team, and occasionally helped out with the 3-year-old class. Joshua had so many great memories there, of Ms. Traci and Ms. Judi, and all his little friends. It was there that he learned his first phrase “God Made Me”. Promisetowne made a huge impact in Joshua’s life, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

The Promisetowne office where I volunteered on the Curriculum Team.
The room where the kids would go for music class!

Lastly, we ventured up to the Chapel. What a special and holy place for us (and for many people too)! The Chapel is where Jared and I were married; it is where both Joshua and Jenna were dedicated.

Willow will always have a special place in our hearts, for many reasons. But nothing more important than that it is where The Ahrens Family Story began.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today

7 years ago today, I married my best friend.

I love you, Jared!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To Joshua and Jenna on Mother's Day


Around Easter, I wrote a journal entry about some of my thoughts and observations about the movie "The Passion of the Christ". Jared and I watch it every year, but for some reason, this year in particular, I was drawn to Mary, Jesus' mom. I was overwhelmed with some of the emotions she faced as a mom. Admists the honor and duty that was bestowed upon her from God, to birth the Messiah and to be Jesus' earthly guardian and care-giver, she was also his mother - one who loved and cherished her child, like we all do our children. But to be called to put her motherly duty on hold, allowing God to fulfill His plans instead, was probably the hardest thing she had to do. God's will ultimately comes first. But, I wonder what I would do if I was in her shoes...and I'm glad I wasn't.

Here's a snippet from my journal entry, and a glimpse into Mary's heart (my interpretation, of course!)...

"...I don’t remember how many times I’ve seen it ["The Passion"], but EVERY TIME, I get so emotional - so enraged at the Sanhedrin and their hypocrisy and high and mighty attitude; I would sob uncontrollably while the Roman soldiers brutally beat up my Savior to His last inch of breath; feeling helpless while Jesus stood trial in front of Pilate as he faced the sea of faces who cursed him and demanded his death (okay, I wanted to slap the smirk off the face of Barabas when he walked down the steps after being released as a prisoner!).

But a somewhat new reaction I had this year was at a profound scene of the movie. I’ve watched it so many times, but I don’t know why it affected me more so this year than any other. And I think, by far, this is my favorite scene in the movie (can I have a favorite?). I felt myself empathizing with Mary - filled with an overwhelming sense of motherly love and concern when Jesus fell for the umpteenth time along the Via Dolorosa, empathizing with her as she ran to him, with memories of the little boy Jesus stumbling and falling, and her cries of reassurance of “I’m here! I’m here!”, and wanting to reassure him again that she’s there, not leaving him, walking along side him, even on the road to his crucifixion. I can’t imagine how she was feeling, and I kept picturing what if this was Joshua (and interestingly enough, Ye-shu-a, the aramaic name in which Jesus was called during the movie, sounded so much like Joshua!). My heart broke and I cried when she said at the foot of the cross, she said “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart…let me die here with you”.

A mother’s love knows no bounds, and I often wonder if her presence, her words of reassurance, somehow kept Jesus going on that long road to Golgotha as he had to carry his own cross.

And a mother will fight for her child, and be his or her strongest and greatest advocate! The same scene where Jesus is carrying his cross on the crowded narrow street, and Mary, John, and Mary Magdalene were following along on the side. Mary spots the devil across the crowd, and I love how she eyeballs him - in a way that seemed to indicate “don’t mess with my son, you don’t know who you’re dealing with, this battle is not over. In fact, prepare to lose because you have no power over him!”. It was as if she was ready to go to battle and do some one-on-one combat. It was the look of death that she gave Death itself. O, Death where is your sting!"

(I'll end my journal entry here)

Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart...
Joshua and Jenna, that heaven would entrust me with you - the two most beautiful babies in the world, I am indeed honored to be your mommy. As long as God gives me life and breath here on this earth, I will be your greatest advocate and biggest cheerleader, and will love you with every ounce of my being, so that you will know that you're never alone, that "I am here! I am here!", and so will God. I love you both, with all my heart.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jenna knows she's one!

video

Sorry, but you'll have to turn your head (or your laptop) to the side. But I took a short video clip during lunch time, and Jenna was able to show how old she is with her fingers (well, finger!). Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jenna's walking!

video

In honor of Jared's birthday on April 9th, Jenna took her first long walk across the room! Since then, she's on the move! Not only has she been walking a lot, she's quite the climber, too.

Time to get MY running shoes on!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another rite of passage...

Okay, so this morning, I took Joshua to Lincoln Prairie where he was screened for preschool. The teacher took him into the classroom and had me sit out in the hallway to fill out 45-minutes worth of paperwork. As I did my parental duty, I couldn't help but wonder what was going on: how he was doing, is he up to par in his development, was he scared, is anyone playing with him, does he need me? A plethora of emotions flooded me, and I realized that I had become one of those parents who have a hard time letting go.

Yes, I'm admitting to it! I am a psycho parent who can't let go. I'll probably be one of those who will try to climb over the hedges by the classroom window to try and get a peak of her child. Or one of those who will say goodbye to her child as he gets on the bus, and then follows the school bus in her car, and makes sure he gets off the bus unharmed. I'm becoming my very own worst nightmare - the kind of parent that I would simply roll my eyes at when I was a teacher. Yvonne, take a chill pill!

So, why the insanity? If I'm being totally honest, I'm just not ready for Joshua to grow up! I'm not ready for him to go to school. It was fine when he was in Promisetowne, because I could be there with him. But thanks to Willow, that wonderful program is no more, and hence, I find myself being thrust into reality. A little too prematurely, if you ask me!! And if it was up to me, I'd still have Josh in diapers and live the baby years forever. But alas, that's crazy talk, and there's nothing I can do in my humanly power to slow time down.

Gosh, what to do? What to do? How do I let go? Poor Joshua is going to have a crazy mom who is holding on too tightly. Maybe, just maybe, I can release him slowly...knowing full well that God is in control, and God is taking care of him. And God will be with him when I can't, and that Joshua is ultimately in His hands.

But can I at least hold on to his pinky finger?

My Baby Girl is One!

Jenna turned one on March 7th. I can't believe how fast the time has flown! I am incredibly blessed to be her mom. She is absolutely precious, and a delight in my life. God has blessed her with a fiesty personality, and a keen sense of curiosity and adventure. One of my favorite things about Jenna is that she is a cuddler - my little snuggle bug!! When she rests her head on my shoulder, right in the crook of my neck, my world is perfect, and there is nothing I would rather do than be with her in that tender moment! Enjoy these wonderful pictures of our little Jenna (thanks to our friend, Amy, who did an amazing job photographing her and Josh!).







Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Christmas in Australia


Oops! It's been a while since I updated our blog. Well, happy 2010 for starters! We spent Christmas in Australia, and enjoyed glorious weather!

As I write this, we've had quite a few events occur. We praise God for the many blessings in our lives:
- Jenna just turned one on Sunday (March 7th)!
- we celebrated Jenna's birthday by going to the Shedd Aquarium
- we have a new (used) mini-van
- we celebrated Chinese New Year by going to Chinatown and having a special dinner with Jared's family
- I am in partnership with a local store to do calligraphy for their customers

Pictures will follow soon! In the meantime, enjoy our summer (or winter) Christmas pics!