Saturday, December 24, 2011


Last night our church had the first of three Christmas Eve services. It was a packed house! As usual, the music was amazing and moving, and the message was real, practical teaching. As I reflected on the Christmas story, I was reminded that God brought a baby into this world via a virgin mother. The baby was our Savior. Imagine, an infant that was destined to save us from sin. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. God is capable of anything. He can bring us a Savior. Surely, none of the trials and tribulations I face are beyond Him.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Me, artistic?

I feel like some back story is necessary for this post. To help illustrate the point, no pun intended, that I, Rose Hartschuh, am not artistic, I have included pictures of some past attempts at "art." More frightening than the rabbit below is the fact that I was able to pull these projects out of a tote in my basement to snap some photos of them a few minutes ago.

  Paper mache rabbit? Circa fifth grade. It was supposed to be a hand puppet I think. Mrs. Dean, elementary art teacher, retired shortly after this. Coincidence? You be the judge.

In eighth grade, we had to select a cartoon, cut it into square, and continue the picture. While the drawing might make the cut, obviously my coloring skills leave little to be desired.

These are just two projects on a long list of mediocracy. I will admit, however, that when it comes to drawing and sketching, I don't do half bad. Three years at Ohio State gave me many opportunities to sketch my professors during lectures. I have a great sketch of Scary Larry (my welding instructor), but I wasn't able to find it. Anywho, art is not necessary my strong suit.

Nonetheless, I was looking for a personalized and meaningful Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. Upon purchasing plain wine glasses, I decided to add some flair to them. I read some online tutorials and was finally ready to take a shot at painting them. The supplies were few: glasses, oven, acrylic enamel (special acrylic paint made for glasswork), and brushes. 

I went with a simple dot pattern, mostly because I didn't think I could screw it up too bad. I selected four colors that went fairly well together, and alternated the color patterns. Here's the result:

We opened presents last week, and the recipient didn't throw them on the floor to shatter them, so I must have done ok. Perhaps one day I'll paint a picture.

Or make a paper mache rabbit.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"O" is for "Organization"

Here are three quick tips for organizing your home. I'll do my best to give credit where credit is due.

Problem: Plastic Grocery Sacks Reproducing and Cluttering Your Kitchen Cabinets
Solution: Fold 'Em Up
Credit: Ms. Wensink over at

These plastic bags are folded "paper football" style and stored in a quart mason jar. I can fit about 13 bags in one jar, and really, why do I need to keep more than that on hand?

Problem: Bobby Pins That Just Won't Stay Put
Solution: Magnetize and Organize

For $1.97, I bought a package of magnetic stripping at Wal-mart. On the inside of one of my bathroom drawers, I put the strip (already has adhesive on it.) Voila! The bobby pins and barrettes stick to it like a charm.

Problem: Hair Ties Galore
Solution: The Glass is Half-Full
Credit: My Own Personal Genius

I took a glass we weren't using from the kitchen cabinet, and stacked my hair ties up the outside. I racked headbands around it and filled the inside with clips and miscellaneous thingy majigs. Where I did have a cheap plastic basket that I've had since college, I know have something that looks a little nicer and is much easier to maneuver, since I don't have to dig and dig, when all I want is a ponytail holder!

Happy organizing! Please share your own tricks of the trade.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Almost three years ago, as I was enjoying blessed bridal showers and wedding gifts, I decided to save a scrap of each wrapping paper. I'm not really sure what I was thinking, but I thought it would be a nice memento some day. However, they soon got shoved in a box, never to be seen again. Until now. 

Last weekend, I realized I had several wedding mementos that needed a good home. I was ready to store them away, but I wanted them to be some place special. Things like unity candles and the guest book and the like were collecting dust, but they're still really special to me. So, I remembered those scraps of wrapping paper and created a memento box:

I used a paper punch to punch a circle of each scrap of paper. Then, I glued the scraps with a glue stick onto a paper mache box. Finally, I put Modge Podge over the scraps to hold them in place. I spray painted the lid to the box silver, mostly because I didn't want to mess with all of the corners. The result was this box that now holds precious memories from a wonderful day. And, every time I look at it, I can remember all of the family and friends who gave generously and celebrated with us. Life is good. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Feelin' Crafty

Today, I hung up my latest craft project. 

Before you get too excited, you should know that it's the key hanger, not the painted slate. I have some crafting ability, but come on, that's a pretty amazing Block O... definitely outside of my talent level.

Nonetheless, I'm still pretty excited about the key hanger. It was super-easy to make! I started with an unpainted 1x4 (this one happens to be 18in long.) I marked out where I wanted my hooks to go. This board has four hooks. 

Then, I applied tile pieces mosaic style. I started with 8x10" tile sheets from Hobby Lobby (roughly $7 a sheet) and snipped them into small pieces. Two notes on this: 

1. Put newspaper down before you start snipping. The tile pieces tend to make thousands of shards. 
2. I like to have everything in order and in clear patterns. I started with that in mind, but I threw it out the window. I had to keep telling myself that mosaics are supposed to be asymmetrical. As soon as I got the swing of it, I did fine for my first project like this.

As I cut pieces, I laid them on my board. I got everything laid out how I wanted it, leaving my hook marks uncovered, and then I used craft glue to glue the tile down. I let the pieces dry over night, and then I mortared around them. The mortar was part of a kit I got ages ago, so I don't know how much it cost, but you could easily use plaster of paris to fill in the cracks, which is very affordable. 

After the mortar dried, I scraped it off the tile pieces, leaving just the cracks filled. I put two picture hangers on the back, and voila! 

Happy crafting!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Simple excitement

I realized the other day that while I read other people's blogs fairly regularly, I seldom take the time to write in my own. Immediately, I came to a conclusion: I don't write as much as I should, because my life doesn't seem nearly as exciting as those around me, which of course, is entirely my fault. Then, my brain continued wandering, as it often does, and I decided that by golly, I'm pretty content with my life. I need to embrace the simple excitement that fills it. In honor of that conclusion, here are 3 things that made me smile or think this past week.
  1. In the FFA parliamentary procedure contest, students are given motions to use to complete various abilities. Tuesday, during practice, one of the motions I gave my students was "to purchase five bred gilts for the FFA lab." Those of us in agriculture, understand that bred gilts are young, pregnant female hogs. While discussing this motion, however, one of the girls missed the memo and declared that they we should in fact purchase new bred gilts, because our old ones are broken. Apparently, she thought they were tools. I laughed a while over that one. 
  2. I turned 26 a week ago. When I think of everything that has taken place already over the span of my life, I get pretty excited to think about the future. 26 years, God willing, is just a drop in the bucket.
  3. I caught up with my good friend Amanda this week. I love when you can not see anyone for a while (almost a year) and pick up right were you left off. I'm blessed with amazing friends.
Over the coming weeks, I'm going to look for the small joys and embrace the excitement that surrounds me. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

So, let's take a second to catch our breath...

I'm sitting here on a typical Sunday morning, drinking coffee, thinking about the day ahead, and enjoying the beautiful sunrise God has given us right outside my office window! I'm also listening to some of my favorite tunes, appropriately named "Jesus Music" in my iTunes. One of the first songs that played on shuffle this morning was "Sometimes" by Matt Brouwer. Here's the video:

One of my favorite lines is "Sometimes there can be so much more beyond what we see." What a great reminder! This weekend, our pastor delivered a beautiful message reminding us that God is the father. Just like earthly parents make plans that their children don't always understand, God does the same thing for us. We need to remember that He loves us, and He knows us better than we know ourselves. He, not us, has everything under control.

As a textbook Type A personality, I am focused, set goals, and work to get where I want to be. Too often, though, I neglect to understand the power of God's hand in my life. I know He's always there, but sometimes I cast aside the whole "He's in charge," part. My prayer for today is that I can let go of the challenges and tribulations that I face and hand those to God. He's my father, and He knows what's best. I pray for patience and understanding when my plans don't come to fruition, because it's His plans that matter. 

"So, let's take a second to catch our breath, and realize this isn't over yet..."  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The County Fair: More than Rides, French Fries, and a Midway

This week, I've spent quite a bit of time at the Wyandot County Fair, where my FFA students show. This fair is a new experience for me, so I've enjoyed taking it all in. I've found there isn't anything quite like grabbing a cup of coffee, finding a nice corner, and people watching. I've observed some pretty remarkable things while sipping on a cup of joe.

  • I've seen the excitement as a new 4-Her shows his animal for the first time.
  • I've watched teenagers earnestly shake hands businessmen who have made an investment in youth and in the community by purchasing animals in the junior fair livestock sale.
  • I've smiled as farmers catch up with their neighbors and friends, who they don't get to see nearly enough throughout the year.
  • I've chuckled as gaggles of kids run around the fair, never getting into too much trouble but raising watchful eyebrows nonetheless.
I've also been reminded of how pivotal the Knox County Fair was in shaping me as a person. I often tell people that outside of FFA, junior fair activities had the most impact on my personal development. Junior fair board helped me further develop responsibility, follow-through, and a solid work ethic. More importantly, it allowed me to "network" with other like-minded youth. (Though, at the time, we didn't call it networking, we called it hanging out!) I'm glad to say that those like-minded individuals are still in my life, though like the farmers I mentioned above, I don't get to see them nearly enough.

I realize that most people will never feel the emotions and nostalgia that those of us who grew up a little more each summer at the county fair experience. If you understand what I'm saying, though, the next time you visit a fair, whether it's where you grew up or not, smile and be thankful for strong, positive experiences being such a big part of our young adulthood. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back to school and other fun, fall stuff

I love Sunday mornings. Since Greg and I typically attend our church's Saturday night service, I have Sunday mornings to myself. Greg goes and feeds cows, and I sit at my computer, catching up on the week and drinking coffee. Sometimes, if I'm feeling really crazy, I'll even read a book. Yes, life is good.

I just finished my second week of school at Mohawk. I love it! I have a wonderful group of students. My classroom is just how I want it. It's a nice district. Etc. I miss my Bellevue kiddos, but overall, it's been a good change for me.

Outside of school, life charges on. Greg and I (well, he claims it's mostly my project) planted indian corn and pumpkins this year. Now, I don't believe in doing anything small, so we have roughly 3/4 of an acre of pumpkins and gourds and about the same of the indian corn. Yesterday, we picked our first batch of corn (600 ears) and bundled them into groups of 3. It was hard work, especially in all the heat, but it was a little bit of fun, too!

Stay tuned for pictures!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Things I've learned this summer

While Greg and I were dating, I spent a lot of time with him on the farm. I vividly remember the summer before we got married, when I was taking a couple classes and working at an internship in Columbus. Most weekends, as soon as I was done on Friday, I was driving north. I camped out on a futon in his parents' basement until the crack of dawn on Monday, when I trekked back to Columbus for an early morning class. That summer, we learned a lot about each other, as Greg worked ground and planted fields, and I rode along in the buddy seat.

Fast forward three years to the summer of 2011. I'm amazed at how learning is truly a lifelong process. I'm still learning so much about myself and the world around me. This summer, because of a job switch, I've been more available to help on the farm. In addition to the remarkable farmer's tan I've acquired, I've absorbed some pretty incredible lessons, as well.

For example, I've learned that American ingenuity is not dead. One of the things I admire about Greg is his ability to look at a problem and come up with a creative solution to solve it. Point in case: the hay rake. Raking hay is on ongoing job on a dairy farm. In any given summer, each field of hay will be cut and raked an average of four times. That's a large time investment just to rake the hay! So, this spring while the rains poured down, Greg and his brother Jason fashioned up this beast:

To the naked eye, I'm not sure what it looks like. However, to someone familiar with hay equipment, it is two rakes connected together, which allows the person raking to work two rows at one time. This little contraption reminded me that there are people in this world interested in increasing productivity and problem solving. PS- Two rakes provide twice the opportunity to catch barbed wire and drag it a hundred yards, but that's a post for another time. :)

Another important lesson I've learned this summer is how intertwined family and work really are in rural America. Sure, I've known this for as long as I can remember, but now I'm actually experiencing it. Almost every day, Greg goes to work and checks in with his mom or dad. They're working side by side to build their business and to provide for their families at the same time. One of the reasons I've enjoyed helping on the farm so much this summer, is because it's given me a great opportunity to get to know his family in a different setting. One of my favorite things to do when I have some extra time is to walk to the farm in the evening and help his mom feed calves. It's such great quality time. For a girl who didn't grow up on a farm, I'm only beginning to understand the complexity of farm family bonds.

Finally, I've learned to appreciate the simple things in life. That sounds cliche', I realize, but it's oh-so-true. Greg tends to work pretty long hours, especially during the busy seasons, but there are few things I enjoy more than meeting him at the farm after a long day and riding around on the four-wheeler checking crops or than heading to the pond to watch the sunset. This summer, more than ever before, I've learned how important it is to appreciate the small blessings in life. I've always loved traveling, and I probably always will, but there are some pretty incredible things to experience right here at home with the people I love, too.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moving on

They say change isn't easy, and I would definitely agree. Nonetheless, change can bring about a wonderful opportunity to think and to reflect. That's where I am today.

Two and a half years ago, I graduated college, started a new job, and got married... all within a week! I still have the college diploma, and Greg and I are doing great, but it's time to move on to a new job. It's a bittersweet transition, but I hope it will be the right one.

People told me I was crazy for taking the job I did. I replaced a legendary teacher who had tragically passed away mid-year. He had taught at the same school for 28 years. I hadn't even been out of college 28 days! Sure, the first few months were rough, but I survived, and I adamantly believe I'm a better teacher for it.

There have been ups and downs throughout the time I've been at Bellevue, but I can honestly say that I'm thankful for the opportunity I've had to meet incredible students and parents. I'm blessed to have started my career when and where I did. I look forward to using the experiences I've gained as I shift gears and start a new part of my career.

Toward the end of the school year, my juniors and seniors read the book Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (If you're not familiar with the book, it's one that will change your life. Check out the website here.) At the same time, senior English students were reading Tuesdays with Morrie. I approached the English teachers to do a collaborative project, since the themes of the books were very similar. The result was a day of "life lessons." We invited in guest speakers to share life lessons with the students. Around the room, we hung up posters that the students made with information about themselves and lessons that they had gained from reading the book. One component they had to include on their posters was five tribute poems to teachers that had taught them something about themselves. I was honored to be included on some of the posters. It made the past two and half years worth the sweat, tears, and frustration I experienced from time to time. Here are some of the poems the students wrote that either made me smile or cry:

As I start a new job this school year, I will cherish the opportunities I've had professionally in the last two and a half years. I will carry those with me as I meet a new group of students and attempt to impact their lives', just as my kiddos at Bellevue have impacted mine.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Resonating thoughts

Today, we visited Greg's grandpa in Alliance. Since he lives about two and a half hours away, we don't get out to see him as much as we'd like. I always enjoy visiting, nonetheless, because he's a pretty smart guy. I love hearing him recount stories (some times the same ones over and over again!), and he always seems to make me think. Here's a picture of Bob with Greg at our wedding:
Somehow today we got on the topic of the public's perception of agriculture. Bob is a dairy farmer and has been all of his life (except when he served the U.S. in the Korean War.) Leading up to this conversation, Bob was sharing how growing up in the 30s, there wasn't much extravagance around. People had what they needed, and that was about it. As we talked about today and about how people don't understand agriculture, he said something that has stuck with me: "The problem is, people today have never been hungry long enough to think about where their food really comes from."

It took me a second to really grasp this concept, but after I did, I realized how true it really was. In the United States, we have the cheapest and most abundant food supply of any developed nation. For the most part, the bulk of our country never has to worry about where our next meal is coming from. (Don't get me wrong, I know that hunger is an issue in the U.S. and that there is a chunk of our population that doesn't have access to a safe and reliable food supply.) It is no wonder that people don't appreciate agriculture; as long as the food is available at the grocery store, they never have to think about the farmer that sacrificed to grow the product.

Contrast that thought with people in developing nations. Here is a family our group met when I studied abroad in Uganda.
You better believe that these people understand agriculture. They may not be sure where their next meal is coming from, but they know that in order to eat, someone must work hard in the fields, probably themselves. They are connected to agriculture on a personal basis.

We have so many blessings living in the United States, but how much do we take for granted? Just like Bob said, people don't appreciate agriculture, because they've never been hungry. We could continue and say that people don't appreciate people working in car factories, because they've never been without a vehicle. Maybe they don't appreciate warm clothes, because they've never had to spend a night on the street. The generalizations could continue. At the end of the day, though, I know I'm counted in the "theys." How much do I take for granted, because I've never had to do without? And more pointedly, how do I express appreciation for what I've been blessed with?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wise words from Dr. James Dobson

In the process of organizing my life and sorting through papers on my desk, I found this paragraph:

"When I reach the end of my days, a moment or two from now, I must look back on something more meaningful than the pursuit of houses and land and machines and stocks and bonds. Nor is fame of lasting benefit. I consider my earthly existence to have been wasted unless I can recall.... A loving family... A consistent investment in the lives of people... An earnest attempt to serve the God who made me. And there's no better time than now to assess the values which are worthy of my time and effort."

What a great reminder of our purpose on Earth. It's not to pursue fame and fortune; it's simply to live well and serve others.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The sewing machine is not to be feared.

Greg and I bought a camper the summer after we were married. It's not a fancy thing, but it's not a hell hole, either. We've used it several times, mostly at the pond in the woods at the farm, but we've taken her out in public, too. Here's a picture:

Shortly after we bought the camper, I decided that it could be cheaply and easily spruced up by adding some curtains. I could buy the fabric, sit down at the sewing machine, and voila! So, I measured the windows and picked out some fabric. Then, I remembered: I'm afraid to sew.

Well, maybe "afraid" is a strong word. Generally speaking, I don't like to do things I'm not good at, and sewing fits into that category. It all started when I was nine years old. Years, from now, when I'm in therapy, I'll blame 4-H. You see, my mom is a fantastic seamstress. So wonderful, she makes it look easy. I signed up for my first 4-H sewing project, and I was confident that I would quickly mimic her abilities. I was wrong.

Year after year, I signed up for sewing projects, and I never quite got the knack of it. Those projects inflicted much trauma. I don't think it was so much that I couldn't sew; it was more that I didn't like the deadline or constraints of a project. The final straw, and the end of my 4-H sewing career, was when I was sewing buttons on pajamas as my mom drove me to judging. Then and there she declared, "You're not taking a sewing project next year."

Fast forward nearly 10 years, and the fabric for my curtains that I bought a year and half ago, was still sitting untouched. I knew I had to do something. Since Greg and I do not have our own sewing machine, he brought home his mom's one day. (To add to my emotional complex, Greg can sew. He's not going to win any blue ribbons, but he sews more than I do, patching his chore clothes and such.) It sat on the dining room table taunting me for weeks. Finally, this week when we had a snow day, I decided I was going to do it.

I started timidly at first, but I gained power with each stitch. I realized that I am what I call a functional seamstress. My creations might not win awards, but they get the job done. I actually had quite a bit of fun, and it was even a bit relaxing. With each curtain that I sewed, more and more of my mom's lessons came back.

So I how did I do? Here are before and after pictures of our camper's kitchen window. The curtains definitely jazz the place up. I was so inspired by the project that we've decided to buy a sewing machine. I might get the hang of it yet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Days

Snow days don't have quite the same appeal as a teacher as they did as a student, or at least as an ag teacher with 50 things to get done this week! Having an inservice Monday and twosnowdays has thrown a wrench in the schedule, but alas, I am enjoying being home and getting lots of projects done around the house. Look for a future blog on my adventures with the sewing machine. Today, though, I want to share with you some goodies I whipped up in the kitchen.

I love cooking and baking. I don't take nearly enough time to do, and I'm never quite as adventurous as I should be, but nonetheless, I like spending time in the kitchen. I can't say enough good things about Pampered Chef products and how easy they make my life. Today's recipe was a Pampered Chef creation, as a matter of fact, and I used tons of their products to make it. If you're not using P.C., check it out!

Mini Carrot Cake Cups
  • 1 pkg (9 oz) yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, divided
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • Chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray each well of a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
For cups, combine cake mix, allspice, egg, and oil. Stir until ingredients are moistened. (Mixture will be thick.) Grate carrots and stir 3/4 of a cup into the batter; set aside remaining carrots for garnish. Divide batter evenly among wells, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 11-13 minutes or until the cups feel firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, whisk together cream cheese and sugar until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a resealable plastic bag; secure bag and set aside.

Remove pan from oven and set on cooling rack. Press tops of cups with a ligh
tly floured mini-tart shaper to make slight indentations. Cool in pan 3 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan; cool 5 minutes. Trim corner of cream cheese-filled bag; pipe filling evenly into cups. Garnish with chopped walnuts and reserved grated carrots, if desired.

My notes:
  • Most cake mix packages are 18.5 oz. I used the full package and doubled all of the other ingredients.
  • Pampered Chef has awesome Cinnamon Crunch Sprinkle. I substituted that for the allspice.
  • Usually when I make carrot cake, I use my food processor to grate the carrots. This time I cheated and bought pre-grated carrots for the first time. They were big. The next time, I'll go back to using the food processor.
Here's the process:
Ingredients mixed. Note that the mixture will be thick.

I may have over-filled the mini-muffin pan. Try to stick to the 2/3 full that the recipe suggests.

Using the mini-tart shaper to make indentations. If you don't have a tart shaper, a spoon would also work.

Finished product, garnished with walnuts.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Making a Difference

I don't use Twitter a lot, but I have it on my Blackberry, so occasionally, I catch up on news and information. For some time, I've had an article bookmarked on my phone that somebody shared. The article is titled "50 Ways to Make a Difference Without Spending a Penny." (Read the article here.)

Here were some of my favorites from the list:

4. Be positive today - with the depressing economy, bills falling behind - this can really be tough, but it will encourage those around you and in the process bring joy to yourself.

  • This can make such a difference! Just vowing to be in a good mood can really put you in one, and it tends to be contagious to those around you.

17. Smile at everyone you come in contact with today.

  • Some times I feel like a creeper smiling at strangers, but it's worth it when they smile back.

18. Offer to let someone ahead of you in line.

  • This is something that's so easy to do, but strangers appreciate it so much. You never know if that will make a difference in their attitude. What's another five minutes at the grocery store?

31. Visit with the elderly or someone who can no longer get out as much as they'd like.

  • Since we live in the middle of nowhere, a lot of our neighbors are older. I love talking with them and learning from them. I really want to do this more. They have so much wisdom, and they're willing to share it. This is another aspiration for 2011.

45. Say Please and Thank you - show sincere appreciation.

  • EASY!

What can you add to the list? Making a difference doesn't have to cost a ton of money. It's the simple things that make our world a better place. I know I appreciate it when people are friendly and polite, so this week, I'm going to do my best to pass it on.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Impact Communications

So far, I really haven't talked too much about my new endeavor on Blogger, but here goes. In college, I took an introductory course on layout and design. The course focused on Adobe InDesign. It was very practical, and I was able to use many of the skills I gained there in college internships. After I began teaching, I decided I was ready to tackle a new challenge: web design. Thus became my quest at self-taught Dreamweaver. Fast forward two years, and I think I'm making progress. I've started doing websites on the side for a variety of small businesses, mostly farms, but I've thrown in some others for good measures.

Here's a link to my website: Impact Communications. You'll notice the name comes from a popular Dr. Gratz saying: "Don't just make an impression. Make an impact." You can see under the Clients tab that my list is growing. I hope to continue to expand. So, selfish request for the day: if you know someone looking for a website, newsletter, or any other graphic design piece, will you send them my way? Please and thanks. Look for more updates from this part of my life in the future.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On a roll

This post will be short and sweet. While it's on my mind, I wanted to share a quick thought from the book our small group is reading right now. We're reading Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan. It's a wonderful book that really makes you think.

The most recent chapter was about being a lukewarm Christian. Chan describes the lukewarm Christian as one who (and I paraphrase):
  • Attends church because they're expected to, not because they necessarily want to.
  • Cares more about what people think of their actions than what God thinks of their heart.
  • Calls Christians who do extreme things for Christ "radical" when in fact, God expects all of his followers to be "radical."
  • Probably drinks less and swears less than average, but otherwise they're not that much different than unbelievers.
Talk about a reality check! The chapter really got me thinking about my own relationship with Christ. I'm the first to admit that it can be classified as lukewarm at times. There's definitely room for improvement. So, to start, Greg and I are reading the bible more and saying more genuine, authentic prayers. We're focusing on what's important and what we can to serve Him. It's not nearly enough, but hopefully it'll continue to build up our faith. Being lukewarm isn't an option.

If you haven't listened to the song "The Motions," check it out today.

New Year's Goals

Yes, you really are that lucky to get two posts in the same day. I guess I just have a lot on my mind these days. I've devoting my blog today to a hodge-podge of thoughts and ideas.

New Year's Goals
My mom is in the process of moving. To bring the new followers up to speed, my parents were divorced after 24 years of marriage when I was in the first grade. (If you do the math, you'll understand that they were a bit older when they had me. My oldest sister is 13 years older than me, and there's three full siblings between the two of us. But, I digress.) After they separated, I lived with my mom, while my dad moved to North Carolina. So, late last fall, when she decided to move, it became time for me to move all of my treasures, as well. In that pile of items was 8 FFA jackets. See previous posts on "FFA nerd disorder." The one jacket I treasure the most is my chapter FFA jacket that I received when I was a freshman in high school. I won't go into the memories tied to that jacket, but I would like to talk about the wrinkled, well-loved index card I found in the pocket. It was a list of FFA goals I wrote my first year in FFA. On the list were items such as apply for a proficiency award, run for state office, receive my American Degree, etc. etc. I had to chuckle a little bit. The goals at that point on my life were focused around awards and honors. They were such a big deal to me at that time. The goals I set for myself now are of a different nature, especially since many of them now include Greg, my partner in crime and in life.

So, here are a few things we aspire to achieve in 2011.
  • Build our savings account to $xx,xxx. Between buying a house and a new vehicle in 2010, our savings has remained pretty stagnant. We want to continue to grow that number, so we can be ready for the future.
  • Give more money to the Church. The Church can do things for others that we can't do on our own, so we'd like to increase our givings in 2011.
  • Increase our personal health. Ok, this is probably more mine than Greg's. I look at a candy bar and gain three pounds, while Greg eats six and loses weight. (Maybe a bit of an exaggeration.) Nonetheless, EA Active for the Wii is my weapon of choice, and running a 5k is my end goal. In addition to physical fitness, I also want to work on emotional well-being. I want to work hard at my career, but I also want to leave school at school, so I can come home and spend time with my family and with my hobbies. I'm not going to let teaching consume my entire life in 2011.
  • Read more non-fiction books. This is definitely more mine that Greg's! I love to read. If it has words, I'll read it. From Greg's farming magazines, to textbooks, to fiction, I love it all. This year, I want to read more non-fiction so I can learn about more varied topics. I just finished Laura Bush's memoir: Spoken From the Heart, and I loved it. I learned so much and gained even more respect for a phenomenal woman.
So, the goals I have for myself at this point in my life are different than the ones I set as a teenager, but they're meaningful to me. I'll keep you posted on how they go. Writing them down is definitely the first step in reaching them.

Not Missing What Matters

In my last blog (last year, no less!), I professed my love for Matthew West's song, "My Own Little World." If you haven't checked it out yet, watch the video on YouTube. I promised that I would write again about "not missing what matters," as West sings in the hit.

So, for this new year, I've been thinking about ways to really live my life for what matters. Too often I get caught up in the petty, materialistic stuff that really doesn't matter. I don't believe that's why we're on this Earth. We are here, in my humble opinion, to serve others and to serve our God. But what does that look like?

One of my biggest struggles with transplanting to an area of the state that I'm not very familiar with, is not knowing other people in the community. In high school and college, I was so involved in the community, and I haven't really stepped out of my comfort zone to do that in Bucyrus yet. So, I've come up with some ways that I want to work this year to give back to others and really start living for the important stuff. Will you add to my list?
  • I want to create a card list. The cards can be for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, or no reason whatsoever. I love the feeling that comes with opening a card from a friend and knowing that someone else is thinking of me, so I want to do this for others. If you want added to my list, just shoot me an email.
  • I also want to put together a Relay for Life team. Cancer has impacted all of us. This is a small way to honor my friends and family members who have battled the disease and provide resources to help find a cure.
  • I love traveling, but I've never been on a mission trip. In college, I went to Ecuador for a service project, but it wasn't tied to God. I really want to go somewhere and do good in His name. Greg and I are antsy to go to Jamaica with CSI, so hopefully this year we can make that a reality. Plus, there's a new project in Jamaica focused on developing a agricultural education center, so it's right down our alley.
  • Finally, this year I want to do small things to let others know I'm thinking about them. Whether it's baking cookies for my neighbors, serving a meal in the soup kitchen, or making more of an effort to stay in touch with my college friends, those are the things in the long run that will make a difference.
I'm a bit of a pack-rat. Around my desk, I post cards and quotations that mean something to mean. One is a Max Lucado card from my church when I was in college. I saved it for the phrase on the outside: "It's what we do for Christ in the here and now that will make a difference in the then and there." How true. The things we do now will have ever-lasting effects. So, it's time to start living for others and not missing what matters in this world.