Saturday, December 29, 2012

Decorah and Magpie Coffeehouse!

Matt, Caleb and I made a road trip this past Thursday and Friday to Decorah, Iowa!  Since Matt and I are both Wartburg College alums, we have not visited Decorah very many times because it is the home of Luther College, whom happens to be a very big rival to Wartburg.  However, we had heard very good things about the town and set off to explore it.

The downtown was very fun to walk and go into all of the shops. Matt commented on how nice it was to see a downtown that was thriving.  One of our stops was at their Oneota Community Food Cooperative.  It was a great place that carried a well-stocked organic produce section, lots of bulk foods and organic and gluten free options.  They also had a place where you could eat and grab a latte or espresso.  Very welcoming atmosphere and free self serve water as they do not sell bottled water as to be good stewards of our environment.  Here is a picture of their sign that was posted on one of their coolers....

Let's just say...if we lived in Decorah, I would find myself their often! :)  Downtown also offered a nice kitchen store, shoe store, JcPenney's and many other things to explore.  We also enjoyed the famous Mabe's Pizza while we were in town.

My Mocha!
Our last stop on Friday before leaving town was Magpie Coffeehouse.  I had been told by a co-worker that it was a great coffee shop.  It did not disappoint.  In fact, it is probably one of my favorite coffee shops besides Witte's End where I work.

The atmosphere of the coffeehouse was very welcoming and the staff was superb.  Furthermore, they use dark ghirardelli powder in their mochas which is my favorite!  I really liked the taste of their espresso too!  I hope we can go back again some time soon! 

We had a great time in Decorah!  We would highly recommend a visit to this nice town if you have not been there before.     

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Lighter Side...

I love this time of year!  Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love the joy it can bring to so many people.  So....I thought I would do a light-hearted post to bring a few laughs and silly insight about me.

5 Things that make me smile:

1.  Coloring -- I love to color and when I am feeling stressed or need to just do something creative, I color!

2.  Cheesy Snacks -- It is true.  I cannot live without cheesy snack mixes, cheese popcorn, queso and chips etc.

3.  Akward Family Photos --  This website is hilarious.  I cannot stop laughing when I am looking at this site.  They also make greeting cards if anyone is interested. :) 

4.  Music -- I listen to the radio or music on my computer probably at least half of my day if I am able to.  It soothes the soul. 

5.  Gifts -- I love buying things for people or doing things for people that will make their day.  I could spend every day making people's day's special by "gifting" them things that would brighten their day.  (That is if I had an unlimited supply of $ ) :) 

5 Things that bother me:

1.  Spots on my glasses -- I clean my glasses constantly as I really dislike having anything on them.

2.  Lack of Communication -- Many people don't get back to people in a timely matter, whether it is through phone, email, text etc.  For me...I don't care what the answer is, just communicate something to me!

3.  Legalism -- In many churches across the nation, people are misled to think certain "rules" or ways of living are in the Bible and they are not.  This creates a double standard and hurts many who may fall away from following Jesus because they think that is what it means to be a Christian.  

4.  Rain -- I know that God created rain to give this earth moisture, but I really do not like rain.  It is usually cold, brings along very depressing weather and makes you stay indoors.  

5.  Animals -- I am not a huge fan of animals.  Not that I can't stand them, but I am just not drawn to them at all.  I may consider a dog some day, but for now, we are good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Balance In Life...Is It Possible?

This past Saturday we had our son's one year old birthday party!  It went very well and I had planned ahead so that things would not be too stressful last week or even the day of.  In fact, last week seemed like it was fairly easy going and I had plenty of time to do things.  This week on the other hand, has not!  Have you ever had two weeks in a row that seemed drastically different? 

This week I feel as if I don't have enough time to do anything....spend time with my son, clean up the house, cook meals, workout and the list goes on and on.  I also have Christmas cards to work on and presents to wrap but with getting a cold, I just all of a sudden have lost motivation to do much. 

This week has also been filled with a lot of meetings for Matt so I think when we have less time together as a family we end up "wasting" a lot of time because we want to spend the small amount of time we have together, "being together."  This of course is not a bad thing at all. :) 

Balance is a hard thing for me.  It always has been.  Being an extrovert, I desire time with other people to go and hang out.  I am a huge relationship person and want to stay in contact with as many people as time permits.  I also believe God gives us other people to encourage us and teach us things about Him.  However, as I learned early on in our marriage, it can be easy to be "filled" up on those social relationships instead of our dependance on God.  People will always disappoint, God will not.    A friend of mine tweeted this recently and it reminded me of how self-reliant we try to be daily when in reality we don't need to be. 

"Let's imagine what life could look like if you dared to believe God carried both you and your burdens. How would today be different?"

The hard thing to remember is that God is not a genie.  He will not just give us what we want.  In fact, we probably don't really want to get all that our little hearts desire.  He is using things and people in our lives to draw us closer to a relationship with Him.  My goal in the next month is to try and read my Bible more.  I am excited to try and get back into reading more for leisure.  However, I have been convicted that if I don't have time to read my Bible, than I don't have time to leisurely read either.

Each day and each week is a challenge.  I love the things I am learning as we raise our now 1 year old.  A book that a couple of my friends have recently suggested to me is "Loving the Little Years," by Rachel Jankovic.  Has anyone read it?  

 My two favorite people! :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Biggest Blessing in Life

Matt and I were married 5 years before we even started thinking about having children.  We love to travel and were able to do a lot of things we enjoyed doing together during this time.  Part of that waiting time was also due to the fact that I was also putting off the idea of having children.  Selfishly, I knew that when we decided to have children, it would take a lot of sacrifice on my schedule, social life and time with Matt.  I am also the youngest child of a family of three children and do not usually enjoy babysitting or being around children for very long periods of time.

A good friend of mine, who now has three children of her own, who also struggled with the same thoughts about having children started to help me see what a blessing having children could be.  I had never thought about the fact that the children that God gives you either through natural birth or adoption, were given to you by God to help them to know and serve Him.  They are not "your" children, but God's children.  It says in James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  

To be completely honest, I had never even thought as children as gifts.  I had also forgotten that as you age in life, your children can help care for you and the fact that you are helping pass on the truth and great news of how God has worked in your life through the legacy of your family.

So....Matt and I decided to start down the journey of starting a family.  We soon discovered that it was going to be a little harder than expected.  We were trying to get pregnant for over a year and were having no luck.  We got sent to an infertility specialist to start some testing.  Meanwhile, we were looking into adoption as an option and God was also working through some body issues that I needed to be freed from.  (I see this now after being pregnant.  I could not have made it through my pregnancy with so many lies that I was believing.  I had a stronghold in my life with exercise and diet and God was the only one that could change my heart and mind.)

It was a very trying time in my life and our marriage.  It was something that was completely out of our control and God did not have to give us an answer of why this was happening.  I was finally excited about having children and now we have to deal with this?  Getting close to a year and a half of waiting and after we had gotten on a list to start the adoption process, God blessed us and I got pregnant.  (Another amazing story I will share another time)

My son will be turning 1 years old in 10 days.  The first few months of being a mother and parent were rough.  It was a huge adjustment in so many areas of my life and God has shown me what it really means to sacrifice.  It is a good reminder that this is what he does for us daily through his son Jesus Christ.  I look at my son each day, even when he is crying or not going down for a nap and think, "I love this little boy with all that I am and there is no better place to be than right here with him and my husband."  When people said that being a mother was the best and the worst all at the same time, I couldn't quite understand that until I had my own child.

If we listen and watch, God is blessing us and teaching us so many things through our children, their personalities, and a constant reminder that we need Him to navigate this life!      

Monday, November 19, 2012

Children: 2 Parents Needed!

So, it is simply amazing to me how much easier tasks can be when two people are doing it rather than just one.  I don't think I fully appreciated this until we had Caleb. 

Last week was one of the weeks that I tend to dread.  Matt was gone pretty much all day and night on both Monday and Tuesday with work and meetings in the evening.  Wednesday we did have together in the evening and then Thursday we traveled to DesMoines together and did not get home until dinner time.  I have learned to keep myself busy, for example meet up with friends or have them come to our home to make the time pass quickly when Matt is not at home.  Being an extrovert, this also makes me not so stir crazy to be "stuck" by myself with no one to talk too. :)   

When Caleb was only 2 or 3 months it was almost impossible to get anything done when you were home by yourself.  It was hard to fix a meal for yourself, go to the bathroom and shower.  It sounds so silly because we all so easily forget what it is like when it is not happening "right now" to us.  Now that he is almost 1, he can play by himself for much longer periods of time, but now that he is so mobile you must pay close attention to what he is getting into!  Each stage is challenging, but a blessing.   

I have no idea how single parents survive with their children.  I am so blessed that Matt enjoys spending time with Caleb and allows me to cook/bake or do other things in the evening while he plays/cares for him.  It is amazing how much more enjoyable your time is with your child when there are two of you to balance the tasks at hand.  It almost seems bearable and that is why God created the family to have two parents, a mother and a father, each unique in how they shape and influence their child. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Survival Mode

So....the past few weeks at the Townsley household have been in survival mode.  Both of our cars needed to go in for routine maintenance and then they both had extra things that happened to them both a week later and so we were constantly juggling our schedules to see when would be best to take the car, leave overnight, pick up the car etc., etc.  It was frustrating but now all of our cars are ready for least we hope! :) 

Next up, our disposal in our kitchen also went out around the same time.  We waited about a week and then bought one.  At first you think, oh this isn't bad until you soon realize that your house starts smelling more because of food in your trash and it is a lot harder to rinse things out for recycling and just general clean-up after meals.  We had a dear friend of ours help Matt put in the disposal this past week, however, the plumbing underneath is still not quite right and we are having leaking issues; which means no running our dishwasher.  *Sigh*  Matt has been very gracious and did all of our dishes for me.  This helps so much!!

This week is also crazy for us as Matt has some very long days between obligations for work and also church.  Today I took our son to Coralridge Mall in hopes of getting some Christmas shopping done.  We did get a little bit done, but I was exhausted by lunch time already.  I have no idea how single parents do it.  When I am with our son for the whole day I am physically and mentally exhausted.  Caleb is such a great kid, too.

What have I been learning through all of these experiences/happenings?  Patience is one thing for sure and also how communication is so key in a relationship, especially marriage.  I know this, as I was a communications major in college, but each time life brings craziness, stress and even joy, I am consistently reminded of how key this is in learning to serve and love one another.  Relationships are hard, but we were created to live in community and desperately need each other to stay the course!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why Java and Joy?

Hello there!  Welcome to my blog.  I have been interested in blogging for quite some time, but until recently have not found the time.  Since becoming a mother last December (2011) and being an extreme extrovert, I have found it difficult to get the amount of social time in with friends, family etc. as I need or want.  I also use things like Facebook, Twitter and will use this blog for ways to outwardly process what is going on in life and what God is teaching me. 

So...why Java and Joy?  Well, I am a lover of espresso-based drinks or lattes as most people know them as. :)  My favorite drink is a mocha, but my tastes have gotten quite stronger since I started working at a coffee shop in August 2011.  I enjoy all things coffee!  I also have my own commerical size espresso machine at home (ask me about that story some time....)  and seek out fun new coffee shops to try.

Joy....the two biggest joys of my life besides my Savior Jesus Christ is my husband and best friend, Matt and our son Caleb.  These two fill up my life with so much joy and I can't imagine life without them both!

I hope that my blog posts will inspire you to find the joy in your life.  Each day will have its ups and downs and maybe even some really hard stuff, but God gives us new mercies each day and the peace that he is right by our side!