Village Church in Dyer, IN!

This is our new church building! We are very excited to be moving into our new church home this January. We were hoping to be in the last Sunday in December, but there has been a 2-3 week delay due to a heating issue. It can be kind of disappointing to not be in when we wanted to be, but then I put it in perspective...this building didn't even have a foundation when we moved here just over one year ago. It really is amazing to see how God has blessed us in this building project - especially knowing how most building projects go! There is one couple in our church family who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and we owe them a great deal of gratitude. This particular couple have given so much of their time to this project as the husband has taken on the position of head contractor. He has also had his own company work on the church, sometimes working 18 hour days between the church and other jobs. They've really been amazing in all of this. So many other people in the church have given their time too and it's just been awesome to see. Jake and I walked through the church last Sunday and got to see a bunch of rooms that have been painted and speakers and lights in the sanctuary. What you can't see is our beautiful winding drive through the pine trees that leads back to the church. It is gorgeous, especially with the new fallen snow.

The best part, I think, are all of the ministries that are starting up and the people that are getting involved. To look at these people and have them realize that they are the church, not this building, that they are the ones to reach out to the community, not this building, is so neat to see. People keep asking our leadership how much we expect to grow in the next year. Well, I'm not opposed to growing in numbers at all, but I'm thinking of a different kind of growth. I think we are well on our way to a healthy church - so exciting considering they were going to shut the doors three years ago! I pray that God will bless this church - these people - and that we can use this building as a tool to do all things for Him.

One Down......Lots to Go!

"No more homework, no more books......"

I have finished this semester of college! It's a small feat, I realize, but for me it's a landmark because this is the first semester of school I've completed in six years. And I'm loving it! Last night I had my last exam in Spanish and I think it went very well. In fact, I think I'm actually pulling a 4.0 at Purdue, which is amazing considering all of the ups and downs I had this semester. With being so sick with this pregnancy early on and missing days due to time in the hospital, I was worried that I would go over my absence limits. I think I did in one class, but the professor was understanding enough to not mark me down. The class I am most excited to have over is my English more writing papers just to write papers! I am sure I will be writing papers the rest of the way through college, but hopefully the professor will give me a topic to write about rather than saying, "Write about anything you think is important - but follow this style of writing, make sure you're making it interesting for your audience too, and of course, it has to be ten pages long." I hate having guidelines that are so vague!

Anyway, I am looking forward to a couple of weeks off from schoolwork and then hopefully I can start up in January with some online classes I found at another college. I'm hoping to take a History class and a Sociology class and then have them transfer. Originally I was going to take the full semester off, but I just can't bring myself to not working toward my degree for that long of a time.

I have to admit, I got a weird feeling as I drove off campus last night and realized I had no reason to go there until next fall. It was a bit bittersweet, actually. That sounds so dorky, I'm sure, as most people are racing to leave school. But I think the learning bug has bit me again and I'm the student I was in high school where I find learning interesting - time consuming, yes, but worth every bit of effort you put into it. I think also that going back to school has been "my" thing. It has nothing to do with me being a mom or a wife, but it's about what I've longed to do and what I feel God is calling me to do eventually. That's been a great feeling, as selfish as it sounds. Well, if it is selfish, then I'm guilty of that - but I really do feel like I'm finally working on fulfilling what God has gifted me in (next to being a mother and wife of course) and there can be nothing more important than that!

Our Untraditional Christmas

Jake and I have all of our Christmas decorations up now, thanks to getting our Christmas trees last night. We had tried to get a real tree like we normally do, but weren't able to find a good Christmas tree farm.....there isn't really anything like Church's down here in IN. So, we ended up getting three pencil trees and creating our Christmas tree corner. We bought matching ornaments and are really pleased with how it turned out. It is a huge step for me having such a different arrangement - you would understand if you grew up in a family where your dad sang "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof as the family mantra! Cole has his own tree in his room where we hung all of his ornaments. He is really into his "choo choo" ornaments and likes to point and talk to them. I've included some pics of our new home decorated for Christmas, to suit the request of family members who haven't been able to visit yet. First is our dining room with the front door and kitchen to the right. Amazingly enough, I haven't killed my poinsettia yet! Below that is the outside of our front all of these pictures you lose the whole effect since it's daytime, but you can get the drift of what it all looks like! Then is our loft which is above the dining room....the stockings are hung and filled (Cole's is at least!). Next is my nativity scene that I just adore. I have friends down here who are jealous that I have the whole set.... thanks to Aunt Beth for starting us out with the main cast of characters and to Mom for finishing our set! To top it all off are our new trees. We like how simple they are and they cast such a warm glow in the evening, which again you're missing since I took the pictures in the daylight! So, that's our home....a thrilling post, I know. But I guess it gives you an idea of where we are every day!

Life at the Bottom

So for those of you who don't know, Jake and I moved to a new town and a new house about a month and a half ago. I absolutely love our house. It's a two story, 3 bed, two bath with a huge living room, finished basement and beautiful kitchen. The house is on a lake, so we have a great view from the living room and our bedroom. It is in, we are the first people to live in it!

I am learning, though, the downfall to this house - at least in the winter. We live at the bottom of a hill where the street dead-ends right in front of our house. Well, in the last three days, we have had three cars who have gotten stuck as they lost control over the hill and put their tires over our small curb and into our "front yard" (it's not a typical front yard, hence the quotations). Last night - well, actually this morning at about 4 a.m. - I awakened to our house shaking. Literally, our whole house shook. I said to Jake, "Someone hit our house." He of course bolted out of bed to find car #3 who hit the pine tree right in front of our house. By the time Jake went out to help, the person was running off for home. We got a visit from the police this morning and they filed a report and made sure to call the township so we could get some dirt and salt on our hill. The policeman said for sure to get in contact with the town if it happens again. At this point, thankfully, we are only out a mailbox and have some cracked siding from it flying at our house, and hopefully with a report filed, this will get taken care of. All it took was a few people crashing into our yard a few biggie, right? Sometimes it's absolutely ridiculous what it takes to get things done the way they should be. Ahhh.....even as I type, I hear a salt truck. Hopefully no more 4 a.m. least not until the twins come!

A Toddler's Prayer

I sat down to dinner with Cole tonight and asked if he'd pray with me before we started eating. He put his hand in mine and waited as I spoke, but then interrupted me with "A-meh"...."yay!!!". As if that wasn't sweet enough, we began eating and then Cole put his head down. He then said, "T-ay, Mama, Da, go-go-ride, a-meh.....yay!!!" Seriously, if I could capture time in a bottle, this is one memory I would keep. How incredibly sweet to watch my 20 month-old "pray"! (And honestly, I'm thankful he mentioned Jake and me!)

Black Friday Adventures

Yes, I did it. I ventured out with my sister at 3:45 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to see what deals we could take advantage of. We began our trek at Meijer where we waited in line for....well, can't say it 'cuz it's someone's gift! But thankfully, we got the fifth to last of this item. While in line, we laughed at a lady who was with her mom.....her mom only there to make sure she got a "really cool" brush and comb set. It was pretty hilarious to hear the two of them interact - or should I say banter?

We then went to Toys R Us so I could get Cole the Home Depot 2-in-1 Tool Bench and Sawhorse (yes, I wrote it out....not quite as worried about him reading this!). I know they have a giraffe as their mascot, and it seemed appropriate on this morning as that place truly was a ZOO! We ran back to the right section only to find that the workbenches were all out.....I was devastated and realized why parents trample each other to find that perfect toy for their child. I'm not saying I would advocate this, but I was ready to do whatever it took to get this toolbench! We went down a couple more aisles and then came back so I could longingly stare at the empty shelf where my dream Christmas gift once lay. Then, Heather said, "2-in-1 workbench?" I couldn't believe it! A woman had found one of the last workbenches and had a clerk get it down for her. That drew our eyes to the last workbench up on the very tip-top shelf. I told Heather, "I'm not leaving this spot" and she quickly ran for a clerk. By the time the clerk got to me, the woman who obviously didn't realize how lucky she was, decided she didn't want her workbench and set it down. So we were able to scoop that one up for ourselves!

Now, the real entertainment came from the line for the check-out that circled the store 1 1/2 times......people finding where the end of the line was was pretty comical. And at one point, a fight almost broke out when we heard, "Don't you talk to her like that!" I turned to Heather and said, "Merry Christmas!" We laughed, as did most of the onlookers in the line. As we were driving home and contemplating whether or not we should wake our husbands, I said, "This is so fun!" I'm not sure how "fun" it would have been if my sister hadn't been there with me.....and I'd be lying if I said I'd have enjoyed it just the same had I not gotten Cole's present. But we'll see......maybe next year it's round 2 for the Ainslie girls and Black Friday!

New Pictures

For all of you who have been waiting for new pictures of Cole and the rest of us, check out the new link in our Photo Album section entitled, "Fall Happenings". Sorry I haven't been that great at keeping up with the photos like I had hoped to. I've been kind of lazy in this first trimester! Speaking of the twins, just an update that we had an ultrasound last week and saw that they are growing right on schedule and also that they are fraternal....whew! No tattoos for our babies, thank goodness! =) I'll keep you posted on how they're doing.....shouldn't be too hard since I go to the doctor every other week! Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts!

Thanksgiving Fun

The Manne family had a great week of Thanksgiving. Yes, I realize it's only 1 day, but we really had a holiday week. We began on Tuesday when Jake's parents and aunt, uncle and cousins from Alabama stopped at our house to stay the night as a pass-through on their travels. We had a fun time staying up until 1:30 a.m. laughing and "solving" the world's problems. It was so nice to see our Alabama family since we don't often get to visit with them. Jake's parents continued on to Alabama to spend the holiday with Jake's sister, her husband and son. Thankfully they made it there quickly and safely!

On Wednesday, we left
for our own Thanksgiving travel to Michigan to spend time with my family. We arrived at about 10 p.m. EST and once again didn't go to bed until 12:30....Cole was jazzed about being at Grandpa and Grandma's, and we were just as grateful to have arrived at our destination and be out of the car! We spent Turkey Day with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law and nephew, my cousins, aunt & uncle and my grandma. It really was a fun, relaxing day. Cole spent the majority of the day either attached to my dad or following A.J., my nephew. Cole is obsessed with both of them! He quickly chooses Grandpa over Jake or me, and especially chooses Grandpa over anyone else! Then there's A.J......the cutest little baby I know! Cole loves A.J. and says his name really clearly. He crawls around with A.J., shares his toys with him, gives him "loves" and tries to teach him new tricks. It is so fun to watch these boys grow up together! Here are a couple of pictures from our trip. Hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one!
Grandpa & Cole having a blastSweet baby A. J.
Cole & Great-Grandma Janet in deep conversationCole kept taking apart the Christmas trees!

A Great Weekend

Jake and I just returned......literally, just got out of the car and are in his office at church until it's time for me to go to class......from a wonderful weekend of training and learning in St. Louis. We went to the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers' Convention for the last five days and soaked in so much new information. It was a time of learning lots of practical tips for ministry but also a time where God really worked in our hearts and refreshed our love for Him.

One helpful session in particular was a Q & A with Doug and Cathy Fields. If you don't know who that is, he's one of the most nationally known youth pastors these days. But for our session, we didn't talk so much about youth ministry, but instead about marriage and all of the stresses that are put on it when in full-time ministry. It was so nice to hear from "veterans" who figured out a good balance. It was also nice just to be getting advice from two people who understand what it means to be in full-time ministry. I have learned in just this last year of being in it ourselves that people really don't get it....they think they do.....but they don't. I've learned to just smile, nod and allow those folks to make their comparisons, but to walk away and not take too much of it to heart. I don't mean this to sound harsh.....I know that there are many people who have 9-5 jobs that work very hard, work overtime and have many stresses put on them and their families because of their job. I just don't know how to explain it, but ministry is so different.....those of you in ministry can understand and possibly shed more light on this if you have a way of describing it! Cathy said in another session I was in (titled, Help! I Married a Youth Worker!) that the room of women she was standing before knew her life better than her best friends did in the sense that we're living it.....we are now living what she's been living the last 25 years and will continue to live for many more. That made me feel good too, being in that room with all of those wives.

Anyway, I'm just very thankful for such a refreshing weekend. Cole was with my parents so I never worried about him....and let me tell was nice to not have any responsibility for 5 days! I miss him dearly, but you mothers know how nice a break feels! And now I am off to class......vacation is over.......back to the grind we call life!

An Addendum to the Latest.....

I just read tonight that there is less than a 2% chance for someone to get pregnant with twins naturally. Putting that in perspective, there is practically a 99% chance that you will not get pregnant with twins unless you have been on fertility treatments. These statistics just made this pregnancy all the more special to me and I thought I just might share them with you! God definitely knows what He's doing, doesn't He?

The Latest...

Jake and I have an announcement to make......we are expecting again! We are very excited about the news....doubly excited actually, as we found out yesterday that we are expecting twins! Can you believe it? We are still in shock, I have to say. So many questions are roaming through my head......what's different with the pregnancy? how do I handle two babies and a toddler? what are all the secrets I need to know?!?!!?

We hope this news finds all of you well.....if you think of it, please pray for us as we prepare ourselves for our new family of 5. Please pray for health for me and the babies as well, as I have been extremely sick lately and I'm trying to just keep something down in order for these little guys/gals to get their nutrition! Thank you in advance for any thoughts you could send God's way in our regard!

A Lesson from Rachel

I was reading the other day in Genesis about Jacob and Rachel and something caught my eye that I hadn't really paid attention to before. If you read chapter 31:22-35, you'll find how Rachel stole her father's gods and then lied to him and said she couldn't get up because it was her "time of the month" (as the gods were tucked below where she was sitting). Of course her father wouldn't ask for her to get up, let alone touch anything she had been touching because she was considered unclean at that time.

For some reason, Rachel believed that these idols would accomplish something for her and her family. She must have believed this if she stole them and then lied about them. It wasn't enough for her to rest upon the true God, the Lord Who was the God of her husband, Jacob. She felt that she needed to bring something else along with her "just in case".

It's easy to want to judge Rachel and think of her actions as foolish, but we must first examine ourselves before we scrutinize her. What rope do you cling to that has no power? What is your "just in case"? A friend that could turn against you at any moment? A retirement fund that could go down the drain with one downturn of the market? A paycheck that could end tomorrow? I realize that too often I put my trust in things so weak, so powerless. The only strong rope we need to cling to is God. He is sturdy, He won't let go.

Unfortunately Rachel felt she needed more security and found it in things that weren't secure at all. How often do I do the same? How often do you? When our "I AM" is always near? He is, He was and He always will we need anything more than that?

Fall Firsts

Today we went outside and had a rousing game of family football.....the first in the Manne family of three. Cole had a blast, especially when Jake told him, "Run and get Mama." He came at me with a high pitched cry and tackled me right at my knees. Jake is impressed with Cole's arm, but he left us wondering if he realized where the endzone was. We're thinking not as he kept running and running, laughing the whole way. As you can see, he got a bit tired of football and found the next best thing.....sticks! So we're wondering who will call first........Joe Paterno or Ty Pennington?

A Parenting ?

For some reason Cole has not been sleeping through the night. Every night, like clockwork, he goes to bed at 8:00 but then is up almost always at 1:30. He was sleeping through the night for quite a while prior to this so I am just baffled at the change. This new pattern has also crept into his naptimes. He will wake up before he is anywhere near ready and just cries and cries. We are done with teething, so that's not it. We have a check-up scheduled for him at the end of this month, so I'm planning on talking with his pediatrician about it. But until then, did anyone else's kids go through this? I'm just not sure what to do......I don't know if he's having nightmares, is afraid of something in his room (although he goes in there to play all of the time), or what else it could be. There haven't been any big changes in our lives lately, so I'm just completely in the dark about all of this and how I can help him. Suggestions and advice are much appreciated!


Do you ever just sit in awe at how God works? How He knows what you need when you need it? Jake and I have been going through kind of a rough time just with different things going on in our lives. It seems that we go back and forth encouraging one another but of course are never on the same positive page at the same time! So a few days this week it was my turn to do my "Negative Nellie" routine. I just couldn't get out of my slump. Although I knew that I should have displayed a better attitude, I just couldn't seem to move past my frustrations, doubts and my fears of what would be.

About a month ago, while on vacation, I decided that I wanted to try and find a book that would encourage me in doing my daily devotions. I had a conversation with a dear friend about the importance of doing our devotions first thing in the morning so you could ponder them the rest of the day (and also so they didn't get lost in the shuffle of other daily activities) and decided that I was lacking in this area and I needed a boost. So, I found a book at Baker Bookhouse called The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible by Jane Syswerda. (I would recommend it if you'd like some really good daily devotionals)! Anyway, I knew I wanted something to help me along, but also wasn't quite sure why I was getting it.....I should be able to do devotions through my own discipline and study by now, I would think! I purchased the book and began my new daily routine of waking up at 6 a.m., doing my devotions with a hot cup of java in my hand.....a glorious way to start the day, I must say!

Last week I just couldn't make it out of bed in the morning, usually because Jake and I were up in the middle of the night with Cole. I kept thinking throughout Monday (the first of my grumpy days), I should just do my devotions. But alas, I never cracked open my new book or my Bible. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday go by and I'm still in my mood, never once turning to God's Word.

FINALLY! Friday I do the assigned Scripture readings which happened to be on Abraham and Sarah. Then, I read the summary of the text in my devotional book. It said,

"God often does the impossible, working through the unlikely, accomplishing what you might think is absurdly improbable. He doesn't do it just for fun. God always has a purpose. God knows what He's doing. Don't ever doubt it, even when it seems debatable. Look at the mess Abraham and Sarah created when they doubted. They took matters into their own hands and produced a son through Hagar. The resulting chaos had nothing to do with God's perfect plan to create a nation through another son, Isaac. As the story of Abraham demonstrates, waiting and trusting that God knows what He's doing is always the better option."

I couldn't believe my eyes! This addressed everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that Jake and I were dealing with all week! Doubt, fear, trying to figure out the easy road and whether or not we should take it, etc. Now, I'm not superstitious, so I don't think that I have been punished for not doing my devotions all week.....BUT! If I had read this on Monday and taken a lesson from Abraham and Sarah, oh the burden it could have lifted off of my shoulders and the peace and hope it could have provided!

I believe with my whole heart that God is a sovereign God who knows what we need, when we need it and is there to provide it for us. I believe He knew that I would need this lesson this week and He used a conversation from two months ago to encourage me to spend more time in His Word. I know this has happened to many of you as you read the Bible and different things pop out at you in ways they never had before and it's something that you needed in that moment. Isn't God the greatest? He is so loving.....loving enough to touch us in the simplest ways. I am looking forward again to my mornings with my Father......and to the lessons He is waiting to teach me.

Going Private

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I am planning on making my blog private so I feel more freedom to post family pics, etc., especially of Cole. To do this, my blog friends will have to log into Blogspot with their own email and password after I have sent an invitation to them to view my blog. If you would like to continue keeping up on what's going on in the life of the Manne family, please email me at Once my blog is a little more protected, I will post photo albums and other such fun things!

Goodbye to Summer....

The Manne family is finally home! We have been on the road all summer it seems and it is so nice to have no plans of traveling in the near future. Jake and I went on two wilderness trips to Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, then we visited my parents for a week in Hastings, we took our youth group on an overnight trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, Cole and I went to Michigan to visit the Manne family and my sister-in-law and nephew who were visiting from Alabama, and lastly, we had our own family vacation at Hoffmaster Park in Michigan. Jake's parents were kind enough to let us use their fifth wheel and camp for a week. Of course, as it turns out, Michigan got the only rain it received all summer that week, but we still had a wonderful time. We often went to the Lakeshore mall so Cole could play in the kids area. He loved it and made a ton of new friends. This was the first vacation Jake and I have taken together since our honeymoon and of course it was the first vacation with just the three of us, so we made sure to cherish every minute. Here are some pictures to share with you.....

Playing on the beach

Taking a mud bath at Grandpa and Grandma Ainslie's

Playing with Cousin Sophie at Great-Grandma Janet's

Our family day at Millennium Park

All tuckered out from summer!

Cole's Summer Memories:
  • Playing at the beach......nude!
  • Eating popsicles that melt all down your hands
  • Discovering my love for Elmo for the first time
  • Going to the zoo at least once a month
  • Learning about mud puddles.....through experimenting of course!
  • Visiting all of my cousins......Leto, A.J., Garrett, Anna, Drew, Will, Sophie and Audrey!
  • Visiting all of my friends.....Will and Isabella, Jenna and Chase!
  • My first camping trip
  • My first taste of S'mores.....yummy!
  • Drawing with sidewalk chalk
  • Eating the sidewalk chalk
  • Taking colorful baths because of the sidewalk chalk
  • Playing in the sprinkler
  • Going down our stairs forward on my bottom.....this has been a dream of mine forever! =)
Cole has grown a lot just in this last summer. We were looking at pictures of him from his birthday in March and I can't believe how much he's changed since then. We are excited to "do" fall with him now that he's old enough to enjoy the leaves and the apple orchards, pumpkin patches and Halloween.....I especially can't wait because fall is my absolute favorite time of the year! I will make sure to post our fall fun as well! And any cute/creative ideas for a toddler boy Halloween costume, let me know!

Elmo......and God???

So Cole has developed this new obsession.......Elmo. At almost 17 months old, our child gets a humongous smile across his face, his eyes light up and he shrieks at the top of his lungs, "Eh-mo!" I may take this comment back a few months from now, but this is one of the cutest things. His cousin Leto was over to our house yesterday and when his mom changed his diaper, Cole noticed that Elmo was on it.......and kept crouching down to look at his red furry friend who was just taped onto his cousin. It was hilarious! Tonight I found some Elmo songs on the computer and played them for Cole. He did his monkey dance to them and jumped and got all excited that he didn't have to wait until tomorrow morning to see his favorite Muppet again. As his mom, I am looking forward to finally having something that will, shall we say, get us through the day? When Cole is just cranky and nothing I do seems to please him, I can turn to my new good friend, Elmo. I've already used this new method of ours once and it's worked!
Now, bear with me because it may seem like a complete stretch. But Cole made me realize something tonight.....aren't we supposed to view God like this? I should be getting unbelievably excited when I see God working in my life or in the lives of others around me. I should jump at the chance to see Him, to listen to what He has to say, to spend time with him. I should turn to Him when I am having a bad day instead of going through the ritual of complaining to others...and once I turn to Him, I should be satisfied. I should realize that I have complete access to God....I don't have to wait until another time to talk with Him, to learn from or about Him.....He is always here and He has no time slots of availability. So why am I not elated as Cole is when he sees his favorite TV character? There is something so simple yet so profound in his love for Elmo......and I just feel that if only more of us could grasp that same reaction toward God, we would have such a witness for Christ in this world. If our love for God was completely outward, more people might be interested in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords we call our Savior. I know that I tend to keep my feelings for Christ inward - hoarding them to myself really. And just in the simple excitement found in the eyes of my son, God has taught me a lesson. Some may say I'm completely reading into this but I truly feel it was God's joy that we were all experiencing together tonight. Hopefully I will practice that joy more outwardly for others to see.

Cole's First Haircut

Cole got his first professional, big boy haircut a week and a half was quite a process! We went to a place that specializes just in kids haircuts. It was really cool....and we paid the price for that of course! They had a huge playroom in the back where the kids play while they're waiting for their turn. Once your name is called, you get to pick whether you want to sit in a race car or rocket ship. Then....get this....each station has a TV/DVD combo on the desk where the child gets to pick a DVD they would like to watch while getting their hair done. It was crazy! Yet so cool all at the same time! Cole "picked" the sleek silver Mustang-looking seat and we decided that Elmo would be fun to watch......all the fun lasted until he realized what was going on. Not being a big fan of getting his haircut, he then turned on his soprano tunes and screamed and screamed. I think the stylist was getting annoyed, but what more can you expect from a 16 month-old? And besides, she's the one who chose to work there! Anyway, we got ready to leave and tried giving Cole a red balloon (his favorite) and he wouldn't even take the balloon from us until we got in the car and were driving down the road......away from that awful place! We ended up spending more moulah than we wanted to and Jake even said, "I could have done that with my new hair clippers", so I think we'll keep doing homemade haircuts from now on.....but it was definitely an experience to remember!

A Feast Prepared for You

So I have to comment about an earlier post that I wrote on community and how I feel like I need it in my life for my own spiritual growth. I was doing my Bible study yesterday and read this quote by D.L. Moody:

"You know it is always regarded a great event in the family when a child can feed himself....At first perhaps he uses the spoon upside down. But by and by he handles it all right, and mother, or perhaps sister, claps her hands and says, 'Just see, baby's feeding himself!' Well, what we need as Christians is to be able to feed ourselves. How many are there who sit helpless and listless, with open mouths, hungry for spiritual things, and the minister has to try and feed them, while the Bible is a feast prepared into which they never venture."

I couldn't believe my eyes as I read. It felt like God was literally right in front of me and was, in a way, giving me what for. I have been neglecting the true value of the Word of God. I have been complaining because I don't have people to guide me along in my walk with the Lord. I have been sitting helpless and listless, hungry for spiritual things. And I have been blaming my situation with no community for my spiritual state. But it's not the fact that I don't have community. And it's not the fact that things might be better elsewhere. It's the fact that I haven't been looking at the Bible as a feast. When Moody says this, it opens my eyes to how much the Bible really much it has to offer. How often do I just treat it like it's a book I have to read? I rarely go into reading my Bible recognizing it as a feast that has been prepared for me.....and that through this feast, my spiritual life will grow leaps and bounds. In Hebrews the author talks about spiritual milk and solid food....I have been choosing milk lately....much to God's dismay, I'm sure. It's just such an easy road to not pursue anything on my own. It's way easier to complain that I don't have the support I need. I suppose it's a fear....what if I still don't grow when I'm trying to learn on my own? But that's just it! It's not on my's with God, through His Word....again, this feast that He has prepared. I'm so thankful that my study has provided this quote to get me thinking....I guess I'm growing just in this little study, aren't I? Funny how that happens!

Proverbs 17:1

For those of you who struggle with comparing what you don't have to what others have, remember this verse:

"Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife."

I have been carrying around this verse with me for a while now, but I am especially trying to remember it today as I look around me and I want more. Hopefully it will be a blessing to you!

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

I'm starting this book by Debi Pearl entitled "Created to be His Help Meet". I am only in the second chapter, so I don't know whether or not it's a book I will fully recommend, but she made a point that I found incredibly interesting. She was talking about finding joy and that we will find it more easily the more we give thanks to God. At initial glance, it seems backwards, doesn't it? That we need to give thanks in order to receive joy? Doesn't it seem like we should be receiving joy in order to give thanks? But I think she's right on. The more thanksgiving we offer to God the more joy we will find in our hearts. I don't know about you, but I know that I don't go around every day offering my thanksgiving up to God. And there are so many things that I should be thankful for! I find myself sometimes thinking (more often than I'd like to admit) "Once I get this, I'll be happier" or "Once this happens, then I'll have a peace about where I am in life". But it never proves true. Yesterday, as I mentioned in the previous post, Jake and I went shopping and we each got a new pair of running shoes. While in the store, I was so excited and I felt like I was riding on cloud nine. It was such a great feeling to be able to buy something fun and I got complete satisfaction, almost telling myself that the purchase we just made was exactly what I had needed to feel better about my day. But then, as we sat in the car an hour and a half later, stuck in traffic with Cole covered in milkshake and screaming in the backseat, I was not feeling satisfied. I was not feeling as joyous as I felt when I stepped up to the counter to purchase my new shoes. And I actually thought, "Those shoes mean nothing...why do I put any emphasis on them?"

Joy is not something we can make is something we receive from God. It is not a temporary is lasting and endures throughout pain and suffering. Job 20:5 says, "the joy of the godless lasts but a moment." This is the kind of joy I think I search for on a daily basis. But considering that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, isn't it something I should have on a continual basis through my faith in Jesus Christ? I have to say that I don't think I'm the only one who struggles with this either. I don't see many Christians who have a true joy.....because when I do see someone who has this, they stick out like a bright, rare light. I'm just challenging myself to give thankfulness to God and to learn what it means to be truly joyful. If anyone has learned anything on this themselves, I'd love to hear about it!

The Grind...

Jake and I woke up this morning and did something we've never least, not that I can remember. We went for a run right away! Since our trip to Canada, we want to at least try and stay in the nice shape that we got in, so we decided that a family run each morning would be just the ticket. Besides, we went and got new running shoes yesterday, so we have no excuses now! I have to say that running is a completely different activity than portaging trails and canoing. Oddly enough, my body seems to handle the portaging and canoing much better than it does simply running! I was telling Jake that if only I could portage every day.....well, it's not going to happen, so I've got to get used to the running, I'm afraid! It was so nice, though, to be out before most people are even out of their beds and to enjoy the quiet of the day. The air was heavy and moist, ready for the rainfall that began not long after we returned home. Cole enjoyed riding in his stroller and chewing on a stick.....I'm not sure how long he had it in his mouth, but I am horrified to tell you that I think it was for a good while! I figure that if I can just keep enjoying the time together and not notice the pain, I should be okay! Our goal is to run a 5K this fall so I've got to keep up with this new habit......hopefully I'll turn into a runner before I even know it!

Always a Silver Lining...

Well, God definitely provides what we need when we need it! We took our teens on the wilderness trip in Canada that Jake and I experienced in May. The weather was stormy all week....literally, it rained every day that we were there and we had two, maybe three very huge thunderstorms......which are very scary when you're only in a tent!! But, out of those storms, God gave us two beautiful rainbows that cascaded over the horizon of the trees and water. I couldn't help but think of God's promise to Noah and then His promise to us that He will never leave us or forsake us. It sometimes felt like we were completely alone and unprotected amidst the lightning and thunder in the wilderness, but God reminded us that He is ever near. We were also blessed with seeing moose again and again. At a campsite that one of our groups stayed at, a family of moose lived there, so it was so cool to see a bull, a cow and a calf! By the end of the week, the kids were like, "Oh, there's the moose.....carry on with your business...." which is so funny because we were told that some other groups up there never saw a moose and were dying to just get a glimpse of one!

Our students did an awesome job on this trip. Many were out to prove something to their families and friends who didn't think that they would make it through the week.....but we had five girls (including myself) who portaged (carried their canoes and packs on a trail that ranged from 45-700 meters) all by themselves! We had many boys who did the same as well! The kids were wet every day from the above mentioned rain, yet their attitudes would never show it...sometimes I was the one who needed the attitude adjustment rather than the kids!

Relationally speaking, I think this trip definitely accomplished what Jake and I were hoping for. Our group has one main clique that we were hoping would dissolve and those kids to develop friendships with the "non-cliquers". At one of our debriefings, God definitely touched these kids in that way as they began to describe the preconceived notions they had of each other that were destroyed by this trip. It was awesome! Kids that wanted nothing to do with each other were now thankful to know each other and were spending time with each other instead of their "regular" friends. My prayer is that this keeps up and doesn't fizzle away now that we're back stateside.
Jake and I also feel like we are a part of this group now. Instead of it being the new youth pastor and his wife, we have become an intricate part of this group. It is obvious that the kids see us as constants in their lives and that they feel safe with us, which is such an amazing feeling to have after feeling so removed from everything in the church for so long. And, nicely enough, they think we're pretty cool too!! :-) It was just such a great week of God working in our lives. We are giving a presentation to the church next Sunday and I'm wishing that it were possible to completely describe what a beautiful place we were in and how much the kids persevered and allowed God to work in them......but I've learned from our last trip that it's just not possible to understand it fully until you've done the trip yourself. Even this post doesn't describe what I want to, but I'm trying my best!

Here I leave you with some pictures from the trip. Thank you for all of your prayers! Here's to looking to the next wilderness trip Jake and I venture on!


I am sitting in my living room listening to Selah's version of "I Need Thee Every Hour". This song is especially moving to me because I can vividly remember sitting in my grandparents' home, playing the piano as we were preparing to move my Grandpa into a nursing home facility because of his struggle with dementia. I turned in his choir hymnal to play this song and as I started my horrible one-handed rendition, he walked into the room and began singing with me. I will never forget that time when our voices melted together and I think I will well up in tears each time that memory is stirred up in my mind. Grandpa passed away a year ago this past March and I am missing him now. Why today? I am not sure. As life spins at such an uncontrollably fast pace, I wish that I had a calmness about me that he had. I wish I had taken advantage of his wisdom when he was here. The thing I can picture most about him is his hands. For some reason, I can see so clearly how they looked when he was driving and they were wrapped around the steering wheel. Or how they felt when he would give hugs. I miss his's almost like they were a picture of the wisdom he had to offer. But then I think of "our song". Needing God every hour....we all do.....but do we all turn to God in every hour? In joy and in pain? I think so much of wisdom is in this little verse of this song. And I think that's what my Grandpa did so often. Why don't we admit our need for God? I really don't have much more to say, I guess. This probably seems so random. But I just wanted to share about my Grandpa....a man who needed God and sought Him each day. Thank You, Lord, for such a man in my life.


I have realized since moving that I am a person who needs community. I thrive off of relationships with other people, particularly those who encourage me in my faith. While I don't want to make our new home and new church sound like it's completely inept at building community, I must say that I haven't been so alone ever before. Full-time ministry is a strange thing....people think you've "got it" - that you are spiritually above, therefore needing no support or encouragement in your own walk. I have never desired discipleship more than I do now. Looking back, I realize that the kind of discipleship I had in Michigan and Chicago was found more in every day occurrences, not necessarily in a set meeting time with the same person each time. I was discipled before and after I baby-sat my pastor's kids, in the youth Bible study I co-led, in the coffee times I had with different women in the church, and even Sunday mornings as I sat and listened to someone I knew had a passion for the matter which pastor was preaching that morning!

So now that I find myself in a place that lacks a community for Jake and me to be a part of, my question is, how do I fill that hole? As Jake and I talked about this yesterday, I realized that I am trying so hard to keep afloat in my faith, and since November, I've been trying pretty much on my own. Jake says that that's just how things happen in ministry and that we need to try and find ways to challenge ourselves.....but I just can't accept that now that we're in ministry, we are on in island when it comes to our own relationships with Christ. Maybe I am depending on others too much, allowing them to influence my life more than I should. And, as I cry out for relationship with someone....ANYONE!.....I think, "Is this where God wants me right now? Does He not want me to have anyone there? Is He trying to teach me something I wouldn't learn if I was surrounded with community?"

I'm sure this sounds like a bunch of rambling.....sorry for that. I guess I'm just feeling a bit lost....if you have any advice, please share!

Visiting Family

Cole and I just got back from visiting my sister-in-law and nephew while they were up from Alabama. We all met up in Michigan at Jake's parents' and had a wonderful time. Cole and Leto hit it off right away. I am still shocked at how they remember each other so well, even though they don't get to see each other often. Now that Rachael and Leto have moved back to Alabama, we'll be lucky if we get to see each other more than once a year, I think. But Cole and Leto seem to have formed a bond that is strong...and it was evident in their loving and fighting with each other!

We took the boys to John Ball Zoo one day toward the end of our trip. The animals were active for the most part, although I can't say the same for Cole....he fell asleep in the stroller only 20 minutes into our time there! Leto had fun petting the pygmy goats and making the "ooh ooh" sounds at the monkeys.

Mostly, we just enjoyed the Michigan weather. Even though we're only in Indiana, it has been much hotter here than in was in West Michigan last week. We even bundled up in sweatshirts and jeans a couple of nights! We let the boys play in Grandpa and Grandma's back yard, exploring in the garden patches (thankfully with nothing planted in them this year), visiting the pony and goat next door, splashing in the pool, and playing in their homemade sandbox.

For the moms, it was nice to just not have any responsibilities outside of the boys for a bit of time. And really, the boys entertained each other so much, we didn't have that much work to do with them either! Rachael and I enjoyed a girls night out with Emily, Jake's youngest sister, where we did something wild....well, wild for me anyway! We went to a tattoo parlor and got our noses pierced! YES! Can you even believe it? I, Megan Manne, have my nose pierced. It's only a teeny tiny stud, so you can't see it incredibly well....actually, people at church didn't even notice until I pointed it out to them! But it was so much fun and I guess is my rebellious thing to do right much more rebelling can a 24 year-old wife of a youth pastor and mother of a 15 month-old really handle anyway?

Well, that's all I'll leave for you for now....enjoy the pics of the boys!

An Update from Cole

Just wanted to give you a quick update on Cole too, as I know a lot of people like to check out his latest pictures! He is so much fun at the "old age" of 14 months! He says quite a bit, but his clearest words are "Hi" and "Ball". When we walk in the house he says, "Hi, kitty!" It is really fun to be able to communicate with him a little more. The top picture is his "C-Diddy" shoes with no socks, saggy shorts and Dad's winter hat! He was very impressed with himself!

Cole and Jake treated me to a nice Mother's Day dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Chicago. I love this picture that Jake took of the two of us outside of the Water Tower. addition to our family!! My sister and brother-in-law had Anthony Joel on April 4th. He is such a sweetie pie...this picture is from this past weekend. He is growing so quickly already and smiles and so fun!!!

How Can I Keep From Praising?

Well, I just have to stop and praise God for all He is doing in our lives right now! Jake and I have been seeing the Lord work in our lives in special ways in the last few weeks...really since we went to Canada on the WILD trip. We learned a lot throughout that week and are so thankful to the people who were in our group. We were able to be honest with this group of newfound friends who were no more than strangers a few days before. And in that honesty, we learned a lot about ourselves and the things that we have been allowing in our lives that have been hindering us from even greater fellowship with God.

Also, a huge prayer request was answered through that trip as God provided a mentor for Jake and me in the man who created these trips years ago. He is someone who is so wise, I can't even begin to describe him. But tears roll down my face every time I think of how God put us on this man's heart all week, unbeknownst to us. We now have someone that we can trust and learn from and he's right at our fingertips, thanks to our wonderful friend, the Internet!

We just found out that our dear friends arrived in Nairobi, Kenya safely along with their luggage, which is a huge blessing. They are preparing to leave Kenya at the end of June to head for their new home of Sudan where they will be missionaries. Thankfully, they are seeing God's hand in their lives every step of the way and we are so happy for them that they are now home.

God is just so awesome, and I think that I don't often enough take the time to just praise Him....not analyze Him or talk about Him, but just to praise Him and thank Him for His everflowing love upon us. So, it's short and sweet, but that is my thought for the day!


I just sat down to do my Bible study that I haven't done in....well, let's just say a while. It's been a couple of weeks since I actually took the time to sit and pour myself into a study and God's Word. Today the topic was patience is necessary for a follower of Jesus to display. Being completely honest, I will tell you that the first page is blank in my book as it asked me for an example of when I have displayed patience to someone. How sad is this? I couldn't even think of one example to write down in my own study book! Sure, I can take the easy road and say that I display patience with Cole every day, but I have to display patience with him, otherwise I will go crazy! And I wouldn't be a loving parent if I didn't show patience to my 1 year-old. But am I a loving person? I like to think that I am....I do caring acts for people and try to keep others' best interests in the forefront of my mind. Then I read this...

"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a huge crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things."

Maybe it's because we're in full-time ministry now that this verse has hit me so much, I'm not sure. But I felt like I could completely relate with how the disciples were feeling....exhausted! Exhausted from being pulled in all different directions and all they wanted was some rest. I have found myself getting that way quite often. Do you ever get tired of being pulled all around? Or at least that seems like what's happening! I get tired from the duties of being a stay-at-home mom where I don't get breaks from Cole. And then I have to fulfill my duties to the church and the unspoken expectations that lie there. And then there's our family back home who would love to see their grandson and want to know when we'll be heading to Michigan again. All of this amongst fund raisers for the summer trip, Wednesday night Bible studies, weekend activities, the teens' sports events that we try and make it the end of the day, it's a shock if we can "get away" in our living room by having one hour to sit and talk with each other about anything that doesn't have to do with any of the above mentioned topics!

But then Jesus landed. And He took compassion on these people who just wouldn't leave Him alone. He saw their need and knew it was bigger than His need for rest. Oh, to be like Jesus! It honestly boggles my mind that He would even want to take the time to teach the people. In my heart of hearts, I don't always want to take the fact, looking over the last few years of my life, I've noticed a pattern....a quite disturbing one at that. It is: If you don't get it quickly enough, then I must not be the right person to help you. Go look for another who is willing to pour every ounce of herself into you because I'm exhausted....I just can't do it anymore.

Yikes! This is honestly my attitude....I take the "don't feed pearls to swine" line very literally. But what if God took that attitude with me? What if, during these two weeks of complacency and apathy, He decided that He was tired and exhausted with my "back-and-forthing" and said, "That's it! You're time's up, Megan!" Where would I be then?

There are so many relationships that I need to work very hard at to display patience and love. Actually, many of those relationships are in my own family. And many of those people in my family need to be encouraged in their faith in order to overcome obstacles they're facing. Paul talks about the importance of displaying patience so we can build others up in the faith. And this is my lesson, and my new goal.

I definitely think there is a point where we let others take advantage of us if we don't take any time for ourselves and for our own growth. But you see, I think the problem is that we draw the line too quickly for that to even be an issue. Most of us don't give patience a least, I don't. If I get annoyed, I walk away and think poorly about that person, rather than analyzing my own heart to see why little things that don't really matter annoy me. Does that make sense? I like how my Bible study author put it saying that patience is not a passive thing to do. It is active...we have to think about it in order to accomplish it.

So let's clothe ourselves in patience! Let's build one another up in the faith! And let's do so because God first showed patience to us, and He continues to do so every day of our lives.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder...Beauty IS the Beholder!

We have been doing a series of purity talks with the teens for the last couple of weeks. Our group separates and Jake speaks to the guys while I speak to the girls. My topic for this week is based on modesty...modesty of how we dress in particular. As I was writing and searching for some information, I found this quote about women's self-esteem that I think is so true...and at the same time, so hard to hear. Check it out...
Truth be told, what we all deserve is not to feel beautiful but rather to be condemned to hell for sinfully seeking to attract the worship of our fellow creatures instead of living to bring glory to God.
God did not send Jesus to this earth to die so that women could get over their self-esteem problem and feel better about themselves. No, He sent his Son to die to rescue us from our sinful, futile quest for physical beauty and to reveal to us the satisfaction that comes from knowing God—whether we are beautiful or not!
What freedom and hope is found in Christ! We don’t need to feel beautiful about ourselves to find happiness! In fact, we’re better off not even thinking about ourselves. Rather, God has offered us in Jesus Christ forgiveness, hope, freedom from sin and a joy that never ends.

This quote was a huge kick in the pants for me...never had I thought about desiring beauty this way before. I struggle so often with trying to buy the "right" clothes, wearing the "right" make-up and doing my hair the "right" way. So much so, that it isn't even a conscious thought for me anymore. It has been ingrained so deep down in me that whenever I get ready to go out of the house, I need to look the part. Sure, it's okay to slack off if I'm staying home, but if anyone were to see me...

But it is here in these harsh words that really ring so true biblically that I find that my desire to have people think I am selfish and takes full attention away from the glory and praise that God deserves. I am in no way saying that taking the time to make yourself look nice is a sin or something that you will have to answer to God about. I believe that God wants us to know that we are beautiful, simply because we're created by the Almighty Creator. But maybe it's our heart condition toward the way we want people to look at us. Have you ever thought about it to the core? I know I haven't. Praise God that we have so much more to be thankful for than whether or not we feel beautiful! Praise God that we can be delivered from this thorn in the female gender's flesh because of Christ's death!

With so many books out there about self-esteem, it seems like there must be one that can give us the answer to end this terrible battle we have within us. There is, but we pass it up for others with more catchy titles and intriguing pictures. We've got the answer in our hands. It's called the Bible. Man! We take the Gospel so lightly, don't we? I feel sometimes like we see it as Christ died so we could go to Heaven, and the rest we have to figure out on our own. NO! Christ's death, moreover His resurrection gives us the freedom to be rescued from these things that we allow to ensnare us! The only thing is...we have to want to be rescued. We have to want to give our struggles to God. We have to want to learn what it means to do that.

I know when I'm having a "low self-esteem day" I am not thinking, "I want to have the glory that belongs to God put on me so that I feel better about myself." But in reality, when I really think about my attitude on the situation, that's exactly what I'm doing. So again I say, Praise God that He is greater and more important than the little imperfections I find in myself. Praise God that He is perfect and He is the essence of all that is Beautiful!!


Last night I watched the American Idol gives back show...we taped it because we do a Bible study in our home on Wed. nights. I have found that I am addicted to that show, however pointless it may be.

However, last night I was so moved by the stories told about the children in Africa. I have thought on many occasions that I would like to go to Africa and do a missions trip, but then I quickly discard it and move on with my comfy American life, figuring I couldn't make a difference anyway. But last night was different. I was trying so hard to think of a way that I could help these kids who are parentless, foodless and without medical help. It's not possible for me to send money because we have a hard enough time paying our bills, let alone having any extra to send somewhere else. The thought of actually going to Africa is pretty impossible right now too...Jake just got a full-time position in ministry, I'm doing full-time school soon, and we're juggling all of this with a 1-year old on our hips.

Then, I heard someone say, "Pray".

I know, I know, that's what I always supposed to do...pray. But is that ALL? Isn't there anything ELSE?

"Megan, what else can you do if God isn't allowing you to do it in the first place? PRAY!"

My faith was tested in that small moment in my bedroom...I wish God would open up another door except praying. It seems so trivial to do "only" that when every 30 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS and every 3 seconds a child dies in extreme poverty. But I have to know and I have to trust that God is doesn't matter if I'm working, although I might feel better about what I'm doing then...But God is working....and is there anything else more powerful than that? No! So I'll keep praying. And I'll keep leaning. And I'll keep trusting that the Almighty has a much richer, much more powerful dream for this world than anything we can ever imagine. We are so blessed to have a Father Who cares, aren't we?

Here we are...

I am no longer computer free as we had to get the Internet at home so I could do my school easily come this fall. We thought it would be a nice and easy way to connect and stay in touch, so now I'm doing what I never thought I would...even could...blogging!! We are doing well here in Indiana...still adjusting to the realities of full-time ministry, but learning a lot in the process. Cole is 13 months old now and I swear he has grown every time he goes down for a nap! He is babbling a lot and says "this", "a-ga" (again), and "no"...our least favorite of the three! This is a picture from his first birthday...we went to the park for the afternoon and then went and bought his birthday present...his very own wagon! We went for a walk and got ice cream that evening. It was such a relaxing, joyous day that we spent as a family. We can't wait for the weather to stay warm so we can enjoy times like these every day!

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...