Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All the Way from California

Want to see the gift Jebediah made me for our four month marker? Click here. I love it. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Four Months In

Can't believe I've been with Jebediah four months on the 6th. I know to all you married folks that sounds like a very short time, and in the grand scheme of things it is small...but I thank God for every minute so far. I have learned so much, and I'm certain the lessons will continue. God has given me the opportunity to learn alongside an incredible man.

I'm already half way through my EMT program this semester, and time is flying. Youth Group is encouraging...and humbling. Praise God for the 6-7 kids that have come so far. Please keep praying that Rhett and I will have wisdom as we teach God's Word and build relationships with these kids.

Here are a few pictures of me and Jeb, some of us when I first found out he even liked me...up to his most recent visit about a month ago.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On the 12th Week Til Christmas...

I can't wait to fly out to California on December 17th -- Christmas officially begins when I step off that plane. But for now, enjoy this new picture of us together at my sister's wedding!! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

High Apple Pie in the Sky

Every year my church puts on a special kind of dinner. The "Swiss Steak Supper" is a pretty big deal around the community, and people really look forward to it -- we have served up to 400 people in one night! All that to say, that the women of the church supply the pies for dessert. So this morning my Mom walked me through the process of baking a traditional Betty Crocker apple pie. It was a lot of fun, and I took some pictures to prove my hard work. :)

We had left over pie crust. So all we had to do was add blueberries with sugar for a yummy tart! :D Mom is so creative. We had fun!

My mom is so pretty!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UP to the DATE

There is much to say! Here goes:

I started my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes on August twentieth -- one month in now, and I am learning so much. It was pretty overwhelming at first, realizing how intense this program is, even though it's only one semester long. But God has already used the experience to remind me of my constant need to abide in Christ Jesus. I'm buckling up for an exciting rest of the semester, academically speaking.

Several of you have asked me how the youth ministry at my church has been going. I got together a couple times with the kids during the summer, but we haven't officially started youth group yet. I covet your prayers!! Rhett and I are preparing for the 'kick off' -- Saturday September 26th. Pray for us. Our desire is to build relationships with the ten-ish kids that come to church on and off. We want to teach them the Word. We will be adapting weekly lessons from The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, a book about the big picture of God's Word from Creation to Christ. I'm stoked to get things going, but I really would appreciate your prayers for us, as I have no idea what to expect. More updates to follow in the coming months.

In other news, my sister Bethany got married on August 29th to an awesome guy named Brandon Foote. Annnd, Mr. Jebediah Lee James came to visit me here in Michigan! :) Jeb flew in just a few days before the wedding and stayed for two whole weeks. It was a cram-packed fourteen days of visits to friends and family, as well as classes four mornings a week for me. We continue to learn how to communicate and prefer each other above ourselves. I grow more thankful for him everyday. It was pretty tough on both of us when he flew home. But praise the Lord for this awesome time of growing in our dependence upon Him...with 2,300+ miles between us. ;) God knows what He's doing, and I'm learning still further what it looks like to trust Him outside of the Bible school bubble.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart..."
-Proverbs 3:5

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Miss You

I made this for Jeb a while back...and today I really miss him.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"I Love Weddings!"

I’m sitting on a velvety gray armchair here at the Starbucks in Muskegon, Michigan, and it’s the day after my big sister’s wedding. The crazy thing is that my new brother-in-law, Jared, is also the big brother to one of my best friends from Bible school, Shelley. God has been gracious to me. He’s given me so many relationships with some incredible brothers and sisters in Christ – like-minded friends who are faithful to encourage and exhort me.

Our two families (Riepmas & Turners) really hit it off. What a celebration! Becca especially was thankful for the beautiful weather God gave us yesterday. She wanted a beach wedding, and the rain held off just long enough for the ceremony and some gorgeous shoreline photos afterward (soon to post!).

But when all the planning, preparation, and primping finally came to a head, I wasn’t just thankful for the weather. There was so much about Becs and Jared’s wedding that moved me deeply. I got to stand right next to my sister and watch her husband’s face as he pledged to love her as Christ loves His Bride, the Church. I also got to look out into the faces of those who came to show their love and support. I stood there, and one of my best friends in the world was directly in front of me sitting in the second row... Less then a year and half ago, Shelley and I were there when Becca and Jared met, and we’ve had the amazing privilege of watching their relationship grow into something beautiful and glorifying to the Lord.

But my favorite moment took place toward the end of the ceremony: Picture a petite and radiant bride in a white, full-length gown. Her hair is perfect. Her make-up is perfect. Her dress is perfect. She’s beautiful, most of all because she’s in love. Now picture that same bride kneeling in the sand, pouring water over the feet of her groom. He is sitting down, and after setting aside the glass pitcher, she dries each foot with a white towel. She takes his place in the chair and two delicate feet emerge. The first is carefully washed and dried, and he leans lower still, placing a soft kiss. More water, and another kiss follows.

Becs and Jared chose to wash each other's feet as a symbol of the servant hood they are committing to. As they washed, my dad explained the scriptural significance to those watching. I was overwhelmed, not only with the incredible example of a servant’s heart that I have witnessed in my sister, but in that moment...Christ’s love overwhelmed me. Love is most certainly, a decision. And Christ chose to love us enough to die in our place. What wondrous love is this!? Needless to say, I was bawling during the ceremony, and again when I gave my toast to the newly-weds.

God is so good. I have seen Christ’s life very much alive and active in those who have believed Him. Praise His name for a beautiful day! A beauty above and beyond just the weather.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Becca & Jared

Here's the photo story that was supposed to be finished in time to show at their "Early Reception" (that was today!). Oh well...enjoy it now! And thanks to all those who supported Becs & Jared today by coming out to celebrate at our church. Our families really appreciate all your love and prayers. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Precious Friends

I get to see these two amazing people in only two days...and I CANNOT WAIT! Forth of July weekend has never before held such excitement for me. :) Shelley And Tony are dear friends of mine from Bible school. We began together in August 2007, and graduated together six weeks ago. Shelley's big brother is marrying my big sister this July, and Tony has been like a brother to me these past two years. I desperately miss seeing them every morning in class, hanging out together, and just talking. We three were steady desk partners all through our second year of Bible school! God has taught me so much because of my friendships with these two...and I praise Him for the ways He has grown (and is continuing to grow) them in Christ! Love you guys so much.

Here in 'Real Life'

I'm learning that life is not what I was expecting. Reality really isn't all that easy. In fact, it's pretty difficult. That may be old news for you...but I'm learning it right now. God is currently allowing my old expectations to be torn apart. And I decided to blog about it. We had a flood in our basement this morning. The sump pump broke for the umphteenth time and my dad had to buy and install a new one...and then squeegee an inch of standing water back into the concrete hole in the corner of our house. Some stuff got wet, but nothing was ruined. I guess in real life, things break and get wet sometimes. I don't think that's ever clicked in my head before. Again, it might sound silly...but it's what I've been thinking about.

And you know what, these days I'm finding that good communication is very hard work. Building relationships in the here and now, without a million fun memories as a foundation, is tough. For me, life used to be a bunch of amazingly fun events all strung together by time: as soon as one thing finished, I started looking forward to the next big thing. Consequently I've spent a lot of my life either reminiscing about times gone by or living in the future.

But God is a God of the present tense, and He desires me to live in the here and now, to build strong relationships now. What is today really worth? I guess life is kind of an esoteric number of 'todays' that we're each given to do with what we will. What's it worth to me? God is pretty amazing to know exactly how we're going to live our lives, even all the bad decisions we're going to make, and still desire to work through our choices. He's more amazing to me now, in 'real life' as they call it, than He ever was in Bible school. In the classroom, I learned historical truths about God, yes. But in application, I learned in theory. I learned a lot of it in a bubble...a spiritual greenhouse, as it were.

Now that bubble has popped. And you know what? I'm finding God to be faithful; His character hasn't changed. He's the same God I learned about when studying the history of Israel in the Old Testament. He's the same God who sent Christ to save the world. He's the same God whose Holy Spirit has lived in me ever since I believed the Gospel thirteen years ago. He keeps proving Himself to me, here in real life. And I guess I didn't expect that. First of all, I didn't expect reality to be so harsh. But secondly, I didn't expect to need God so much. It's amazing.

It's also painful. Being tested by the fire that 1st Peter 1 talks about hurts. I want to grow in my endurance, so I'm thankful for those flames. And you know, my life is anything but full of trials and persecution. Still, there are many ways that I am being pushed and pried...and that is good. God is using the irony of my discovering 'real life' to humble me and convince me of my need for Him. Bring it on Lord! Because I want to be SO needy for Jesus that I'm done with trying it myself. Whatever it takes, Father. I trust You.

Here are some common sayings I'm actually starting to understand:
"Money doesn't grow on tress."
"No news is good news."
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder...(or forgetful)."

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Oh the Summertime"

So here are a few favorite photos from my trip to see Mr. Jebediah James in Iowa. He and a couple friends picked me up at the Chicago Union Station on Saturday night, then Sunday was spent adventuring through sunny Chicago. Man was it HOT! We wandered Navy Pier, and of course ate a classic Deep Dish. The rest of the week in Iowa I stayed with my friend Tara and her mom. Both of them were amazing! I've never felt so at home. Each work day I got to sport a Dish Network/Direct TV polo and learned how Jeb and his co-workers sell door-to-door. It was a lot more difficult than I expected. By Friday afternoon there was nothing so refreshing as playing in the rain...especially since the humidity had been practically 110% all week long!

Jeb and I got all dressed up for my very first "official" Friday night date...dinner and a walk through downtown Iowa city. :) This "first" experience also included a slightly crazed (and thoroughly bearded) street-flautist, serenading our conversation with his untraditional songs and running commentary...good grief! Oh the memories we make along the way.

Seven AM Saturday came early, and we got a rather late start. I missed the noon train. Praise the Lord for an extremely nice train lady who honored my original ticket fare and got me a seat on the six PM train! I think my tussled hair and frustrated expression provoked in her some kind of pity, which I was happy to accept with gratitude. She sternly reminded me to be at the station an hour early next time, and of course I assured her I would. During my ticket fiasco, Jeb faced the ornery and ridiculous Chicago streets. I sat on my suitcase waiting outside the station as hundreds of faces came and went. Tourists were easy to spot; I marveled at those clearly comfortable with the chaotic system of never-ending motion. Then finally...a familiar face. (I must admit I was by no means disappointed with the idea of more time with the boy.;)

So Jeb and I spent our last afternoon snoozing/people watching at a nearby Starbucks, and then enjoying the (shaded) scenery at a Chicago riverfront. What a great week with a great guy. :) God has really encouraged me and faithfully challenged my thinking through this relationship...I'm so thankful.

Monday, June 8, 2009

33 Years!


Archives photo...summer vacation - 2005??

You are amazing parents and I thank God for you both.

So, It's Official as of Friday

There's this boy from California.
We graduated from Bible school together.
We're dating now.

Jebediah & Jenna

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"You." (A Poem)

You who dwells in unapproachable light,
who makes Your home in the Third Heaven,
who holds time in Your hand...

how is it You find joy in revealing Yourself to me?

You who sees the sparrow fall,
who calms my heart with Your Word,
who calls my mind to ponder Your eternality...

how is it You have come to rescue me?

You who holds back oceans,
tears down cities,
and relocates entire language groups of people...

how is it that You find joy in teaching me?

You who knows all things,
is everywhere-present and all-powerful,
who cannot be tamed but was led as a lamb...

how is it that Your death could steal death's sting?

You who designed and created,
breathed life and welcomed,
forgave, redeemed, and sanctified...

how is it that by grace through faith, I'm justified?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Picture's Worth 1,000 Words...

I decided it'd be cool to post some more pictures of my life these last two months. So here goes!

Jenna & Katie at Senior Retreat in Jersey Shore, PA - meant to be friends!
On top of the world with two of my best friends: Shelley & Tony...they're in love. :)
After Senior Retreat I visited New York City with Conni (left) & my dean, Amanda!
My first-year roomie, Esther, at Shelley's birthday party.
Awesome Tessa was on Campus Life with me this semester. I love her!
Here's the whole family (including fiances), celebrating with me and my roomie, Shelley!A friend I graduated with put our class picture up as soon as she got home...A week-ish after graduation, four of us got back together and visited Lake Michigan!
Chrissy was the underclassman of our 'Lakeshore' group. I love this girl so much! =)
My parents and sister Becca even got to come for part of the day.Jebediah, Caleb, Chrissy, and I had a GREAT day at the beach, visiting the Grand Haven shops, and walking the pier...

Long Time, No Talkie

April Spring Break visit to MTC (phase 2 training) in Missouri!
April and May have flown by and here I am, a Bible school graduate! I'm currently sitting on the floor of the room I grew up in, at my parent's house. This is home base, for the next year or so. The plan, Lord willing, is to work part time and save money for the Missionary Training Center (the second phase of training to become a Tribal Church Planter with New Tribes Mission). I'll also be working closely with the kids at my church. A fellow Bible school graduate has decided to get involved at my Church, and we will be teaching the kids through the Chronological Bible lessons beginning in the fall. I'll be working to partner with my church during this time, serving wherever there is need. In September I begin EMT classes at Lansing Community College - praise God for providing a full ride scholarship!

Campus Life hosted the "Spring Fling" formal! Photos of my dorm & my date, Jeb...
Senior semester brought changes I could not have predicted. I'm so thankful to have built friendships with some of the underclassmen who will return to finish Bible school this fall. God has been so faithful to grow them! I have truly enjoyed witnessing the many ways He has challenged their thinking. God has also challenged my thinking, about so many things. A huge area of need was revealed in my life when I moved home. I'm so happy to be back, but it has been difficult and very humbling (praise the LORD). I'm glad to be living only one hour north of the Bible school in Jackson! Frequent visits are sure to take place in the fall...gotta keep up with the returning students I know and love! =)

This summer presents me with the awesome opportunity of mulling over, thinking through, and hopefully cementing certain biblical concepts that I long to understand better. I'm trusting the Lord to use the time I spend in His Word to bring up things I've missed or just misunderstood, specifically in the book of Romans. Also, July and August ring with wedding bells - both my sisters are engaged to be married! What with Dad & Mom's 33rd anniversary in June and my brother James celebrating his one year anniversary in July, this year has been (and will continue to be) a busy but joyous time for my parents.

I've enjoyed reconnecting with my parents and helping out at the coffee shop. Discussing wedding plans with the twins is also great fun. They're so different from each other, but I've no doubt both their weddings will be beautiful. I'm so excited for them! Please be praying as they each prepare not only for a wedding, but more importantly for a marriage. Hurray for two more big brothers!!

The Campus Life team! These people are a huge blessing to me.

I'll be working hard to keep this blog more regularly updated with my comings and goings. THANK YOU, all of you who prayed me through Bible school. I would not have made it to graduation without your time spent before the Throne of God. Truly, He worked miracles to provide for me financially in the last two years...and even more, He has changed me forever through His Word. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I was given to study the Word of God, and I would appreciate your prayers as I seek to continue in my studies and practical application of all that the Lord has taught me. Real life, here I come. Praise the Lord for His grace!