Thursday, April 29, 2010

we like to laugh-HARD.

soooo many fun pictures. here's the first day of fun with my family in Storm Lake, IA.
i will share this sweet time in pictures, rather than writing about it.:)

our first night. ashley and i have been camping out in the living room.

playing with my seester. i miss that. she brings out the big kid in me.


mom and daddy were excited to see the church, so i brought them by while Ryan was working.

here's daddy and ryan talking at the pulpit. i like this pic alot.
the family thinks this should be my new job as the pastor's wife...i think not-"twinkle twinkle little star" will be sung every sunday then.;)
this is what happens, when people from the south come up to the north where it's cold and windy.:)

getting ready for the day is alot more fun with seesters:) we missed ilene.
dad came to see what was going on:)
...and it just became a party:)

we took a lil trip to the playground at Kingspoint-and ash and i did some climbing and playing...the things i miss when i don't have my lil sister to do this with:)





we told mom she needed to hold onto the soccer ball real tight, incase she fell into the water, she'd have a flotation device:)

early morning bakery run.
coffee and donuts with the men in my life:)
i love my family.
i love laughing with my family.
i love that when we're all together, our laughter and fun multiplies.
we miss you Ate!

our second day is coming up soon:)

Sunday, April 25, 2010



a year ago today, we never would have thought we would be where we are today, doing what we're doing. so many God-things that have popped up.

God thing #1: Being brought to Storm Lake, IA as Youth Director of a dying church

God thing #2: Finding a perfect lil place for us to live in - right underneath very well-known Jehovah Witnesses in our community, and right beside more of the Jehovah Witnesses. Sometimes, at the same time we're having prayer meetings in our basement apartment, they are having their own JW meetings. Crazy cool how God works, isn't it?:)
God thing #3: Open doors that we only prayed for, did not look for: Good News Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, networking relationships, Intervarsity College Ministry, guitar, my job at the public elementary school, etc...

God thing #4: Provision of finances- God meets our needs, but He is also the one choosing our needs. Our needs are only that which God chooses to meet for us.

God thing#5: the people we have come across, met, and are growing relationships with.

God thing #6: our marriage is healthy, growing stronger, and more fun than we could ever have imagined-founded on Christ and His Word.

God thing #7: the prayer support from our friends and families.
we've been blessed this past year. and God has been gracious with allowing us to serve full time in ministry.

today, Ryan took the responsibility as pastor of First Baptist Church in Storm Lake, IA.
God thing #8.

God, please do your will in this town.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

no makeup day


i woke up today feeling pretty icky. headache, stomache ache, freezing cold, and all that good stuff. so i took a nice hot shower, threw on a cami, shorts, and my rainbows, and threw my big comfy robe on over it all.
usually i can't stand sitting still, but today, i welcomed it. the gloomy day, rain hitting the ground, and appropriate attire, just made the day cozy and restful.

ryan and i are transitioning to his new responsibilities in the church. lots of prayer apart and together about the things that are coming about. a new opportunity popped up for me a few weeks ago and this past week, i got to learn more about it. we're in serious prayer about it. God continues to stir out hearts with the doors He opens.

healthy eating has become yummier for me as i have gotten creative with salads and found alternatives to dressings. switched to good fats and added avocados and a lil cheese, and then sprinkled it with lime juice and salt and pepper. mmmm....yum yum, good.
last week, i taught sunday school to 5 non-english Karen (from Burma) kids. i ditched the sunday school lesson that i wrote out about the beattitudes and taught about Jonah instead. To see if they understood anything i said, I had them draw pictures of the story...this is what they came up with. it made me smile.
ever since the beginning of our relationship, ryan and i established date night each week, every week. i always have and still look forward to it each week. We do anything from board games to bike rides for date night, with one thing consistent-it's the one night i don't cook. Ryan works it out every date night, and that's another thing that is just extra special our date nights. He makes date night just as special for me as if we had just started dating. I love that we've set that time aside for just him and me, and nothing else: no work, no phone calls, no one else-just us. since being here in storm lake, we've settled on monday nights as our date night.

Well, this past date night was kinda eventful. We settled on having pizza and then going on a bike ride to the lake. Ryan packed our gloves and baseballs and football in his back pack and we played catch.
beautiful day.

after all the throwing and catching, it resulted in a painful finger jam. my pinky finger got crushed and bent in a strange way from the football that my strong husband winged at me. i'm a big baby when it comes to pain and i crumpled over and started whining. needless to say, after my dramatic pinky incident, we laughed at the whole thing-even though pain was shooting up my hand from my lil pinky! who would have thought such a tiny body part could cause that much pain. ryan taped it up, and i wore my war wounds proudly:)
the kids at school asked me what happened to my pinky, and i told a few of them i'd lost it somewhere in the school (cuz it was bandaged in a way, where it looked like i only had three fingers), and they would look at me with total disgust on their faces (and then i'd laugh and tell them the truth). Some of the older kids wanted to know how i'd hurt it and i said, "playing football." I got advice from some kids that said, "Oh, ms. BB, that's why ladies don't play football!"

sorry kiddos. this one does:)
it was still a fun date night-i got to see my husband's care and love with how he listened to my whining and hugged me when i held out my hurt pinky, even when i didn't want him to touch it.

[shhhh...getting hurt or being sick is more fun when you're married. cuz even more sweetness and compassion comes out, and if you're like me, you kinda just roll around in it:) i love to be babied by my husband.]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ins and outs

IMG_7657 tags:
of the brandenbergers:
we have been practicing healthy living

healthy living consists of:
well-balanced meals
playing together
exercising/working out
prayer together
lovin' each other
being active
reflecting on God's greatness
IMG_7676 tags:

so much is happening in our lives, and we're so excited about it!
Summer is coming and we're pretty happy to be outside, running, playing and biking. in fact, biking has become our number one choice of enjoyment-especially when it's sunny and warm outside.

let's see, where to start.
Discipline in our lives has become a beautiful priority in our lives. our time in the day seems to multiply, when you discipline your self in all areas of the day.
IMG_7659 tags:
[stopped on our bike ride to swing in big person swings:)]
discipline spiritually:
Since rooming with ilene, I'd gotten into the routine of waking up at a time each morning that allowed me to do my devotions without rushing. that is my most favorite time of the day, because i have my cup of coffee, Bible, cuddle blanket and my thoughts and time to process and pray while everything is still.

We've been prioritizing our times in prayer together as well. Ryan has been doing his devotions early in the morning, usually at the same time i'm doing it, and after we're both done, we use that time to pray with each other. our time together in prayer as deepened our time together and enriched us as a couple. I count it a blessing that we have prioritized prayer in our marriage, early in life, and have been consistent in it. As busy as we are now, i can imagine how much busier we will be in the future marriage years of children, schooling, and work, and allowing this priority of prayer to press into our marriage now, gives us a confident expectation of discipline to stay in prayer, even when the further years approach. it has definitely made our lives together more refreshing than it's ever been.
our lives has becomes one-and it revolves around worship to our Savior:)
IMG_7677 tags:
[i thought it was a treat to see so many people out on the water today-fishing and boating! ryan kept warning me not to scare the fish away]
physical discipline:
Keeping ourselves in line physically started off difficult, but now has actually become fun. The winter months were alot harder to want to go to the gym and work out, but our hard work has paid off-and as the sun is getting brighter and warmer each day, it has become easier to exercise and enjoy it. along with working out, we've been spending alot of times outdoors, biking, walking around the community, playing catch or basketball-anything that gets us outside and moving.

eating well-balanced meals has been fun too. I love coming up with creative ways to feed my man well. Packing our lunches in the morning for work is kinda a treat for me. I like piecing the meals together and then opening it up at work to eat it-mmm...i like food:) We're eating everything we used to, but we're eating a good sized portion, as not over indulging in snacks and treats. We are being generous in our food intake with the fruits and veggies, but we have not forgotten the meats, dairy, and grains-after all, we love food! and good food! but we've also switched from white to 100% whole wheat and/or grain and choosing all natural or organic. I'm really liking this whole being healthy deal-it's kinda fun to do it, and i'm enjoying the nice change of clothing size:) i've lost 11 pounds thus far! (and without deprivation of anything i like!:))
[isn't this pretty? i was stunned when i took this picture-was not expecting it to look like this.]
We got rid of cable so that we could make the best of our times. too often, it was easy after a long day's work, to turn on the tv and stare at it. We found that it was affecting our time together, so we pulled the plug on it, so we could find more creative and productive ways of spending our time, rather than sitting in front of the tv. I like it. the shows we're following we're watching, but we're not just spending time flipping channels or watching sports all day. It's too easy to grow lazy sitting in front of the tv, and for me, it also drives me nuts to sit for hours and not do anything except watch tv. productivity and activity is definitely what i say yes too.

now with all this going on, we're happily enjoying what God places in our path. We are feeling healthier, and better, and more energetic. God's presence is evident, and we are witnesses.

[special marble with a very special story]
now this marble has a special story behind it, which will be for another time. For now, let me just use it as a symbol of the many open doors God has provided for ministry. He has given us an opportunity to ministry to a special person in our lives, and we will be asking you for prayer for it soon when we can share it.

another door God has opened, that we could use prayer greatly for-Ryan will be taking all the senior pastor responsibilities, starting tomorrow, as well as doing the youth director's work. the pastor of the church resigned, so until the church gets together a search committee, ryan will be leading the church. I will be doing alot of the youth ministry as well as my full time job, but we are very encouraged about the opportunity.

please keep us in your prayers!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

in the midst...

of poverty.

ryan and i have been riding our bikes through storm lake almost every sunny day we've had. We enjoy the fresh air, the warm sun, and the bit of exercise we get on the bike. It has been a great way to see all of storm lake, especially the parts of town we didn't know about.

It stirs my heart when we ride through town. the scenes we've been pedaling through have given me flashbacks of days in overseas missions. Especially because the diversity in town is very much...segregated. the mexicans are in an all mexican community. the chicago south side people are all in one area, the laocian people are in one area, and the african refrugees are rare to see. You sorta feel like your in a different country, because each area has its own uniqueness-music, smell of food, kids, language-everything. Biking through these areas break my heart, but it also encourages me to persevere with the ministry that God has called us to do here. we're in a mission field. right here in storm lake iowa.

It's a joy to bike in this community. we get to see so many of the kids i work with-sometimes each corner i turn i hear a sweet, "ms. BB," call out. I love that. it warms my heart and draws me to their little communities.

We keep on biking through these areas and getting familiar with the places that we will , do outreach. it's not a big town, but there are so many people in this tiny community. So many people that do not know the love of Christ, but I have hope that God will use us to do that. We keep praying. and God keeps answering. and we keep praying. and He is SO faithful, because He keeps answering, encouraging, and stirring our hearts toward more open doors.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

digging in the mud

My Mentee and I made some mud pies, affectionately named "Iowa Mud Pies."
we took some gummy worms and buried them in chocolate pudding and crushed oreos. We had to fight off her friends for the oreos-they found out we were doing it and kept eating our ingredients:)
it was fun, and we had a profitably time of conversation. afterwards, we fed our beautiful results to the boys, Ryan and his Mentee:)they were working on a model car-pretty neat stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

the way to travel

Living in Chicago changed my view of transportation. In Chicago, the bike was definitely the way to go. You get places so much faster, because you can weave in and out of traffic and bikers have the right of way. my sweet Betty Blue Bike was my favorite part of the summer days-riding her to and from work all over the city, for fun, or even just to relax. Chicago is so accommodating to bikers.

Here in Storm lake, I have never feared for my life so much while riding my bike. This town does not seem to know what to do with bikers, ever though we were riding with manners and obeying all the biking and traffic laws. Today, when we were out biking, we had people swerving to avoid us (and we were clear away from the middle of the road, but they still freak out), drivers turning their heads and watching (and one guy almost hit another car), or they'll speed up to pass us. Even so, we managed to get through the day safely, with no one getting hurt, and enjoyed our day biking, playing, and being outdoors-it even rained on us!

Here's my sweet Betty Blue Bike
Storm Lake's "beach"
We stopped for a bit to play catch. I love playing catch:)
We brought these to test these out-we decided to invest into frisbee golf and see if we like it:) Once summer comes, hopefully we can try out the frisbees on a real course:)
This was the first of many bike rides-we're bringing the chicago travel to small town usa!:)

reflection cleaning

This year has so many firsts for Ryan and I!:) First year of marriage, first home together, first christmas, first easter!:) Yesterday was wonderful-we celebrated our Savior's resurrection from the dead! He is risen!

Our day was filled with many sweet things. Can I say right now that I love spending time with my husband? There definitely isn't enough time with him-and we spend almost all our time together!

Lovely parts of the day

Teaching the resurrection of Christ to the kids in Sunday school-their first time hearing it!

Ryan's sermonette in church about the resurrection

Making lunch together-steaks, guacomole, chips, and salsa! (yes, it was a man's meal.)

phone, coffee, cuddle blanket-COZY.

Grapes on a walk around Storm Lake

Angel food cake-topped with fresh strawberries

Productivity-spring clothes into my closet, winter clothes out!
while I was cleaning, I found some mirrors that decorated my college dorm room with Salome Strickler. Found them, de-gooed them (cuz of the 3M tape on the back of them that had stuck them together and left the sticky residue on it), and now they're ready to go up somewhere in our home! I just can't decide, where...
While i was cleaning the mirrors, i did alot of reflecting (ironic, isn't it?). I reflected on many things; but one thing that I thought about was my parents. They've been on my heart alot and I've prayed for them often in my day because of how they've influenced my life. In terms of my times with the Lord, they showed me a lifestyle as an example to me and my sisters-and the way they displayed a walk with the Lord during my childhood, greatly affects me today as I have my own family.
I remember being a little girl and waking up early in the morning, and seeing my mom reading her pink Bible. For me at the time, made me happy for a few more extra minutes of sleep as mom did her devotions, but now as a grown woman, I think back to that memory and remember the quietness of the moment-it makes me think of the commitment and devotion, my mom had in the Lord. and she was consistent. She still is so consistent today.
As I now rise early in the morning to spend time with my Savior, I realize how my mom's quiet example throughout my life, plays a significant part of who I am today, and the commitment I have to my Lord. She showed me by doing.
My daddy showed me what a godly man looks like, and his commitment and consistency in being in the Word in the evenings. No matter how busy we were, if we were on vacation, if we had friends over, nothing at all kept him from slipping into a quiet place with his big maroon Bible, with his name engraved in the front, and a commentary. Because of the way he led our family, his life and our lives, I have held myself to that same standard of devotion to our Savior.
Both of them showed my sisters and I the beauty of love for the One who died and rose again for our sins. Dad and Mom always reminded us how often they prayed for us, from the times we were little until today. It's because of their example and their prayers that I am the woman in Christ that I am today.
Reflecting on all this while cleaning the mirrors challenged me-to the constant pursual of worship and devotion that my parents displayed, as well as challenged me to continue their example to my own family.
I think it's a good constant reflection:)
All this came about just from cleaning some mirrors!