Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

Small Town, Illinois has seen its fair share of rain this summer. In fact, we were lucky to make it to the county fair on the one day it didn't rain last week (which will be another post entirely). While I do not mind the gloomy days, these two probably beg to differ. It's so hard to keep them inside when they look so darn cute looking out the back door.

Four ears and two eyes peeping out... can you spot them? I bet the Teenster wishes that window was just a wee bit lower!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tree of Hope

Sure, you can go to Disney's Animal Kingdom to see the Tree of Life, but if you want to visit the Tree of Spirit you have to visit Small Town, Illinois. I was driving through town the other day and noticed this tree with little pink ribbons hanging on it and wondered what it was all about it. A couple of days later I zipped into a small gift shop and as I paid for my goodies, I noticed a note on the counter that read, "Tree of Hope Pink Ribbons, $2.00". Putting two and two together, I asked for three of them, paid my six dollars, and submitted the names of my grandma, mom, and Aunt B. Josh and I walked by the tree a few days later, and while we did not find our three ribbons specifically, it made me feel good to know that these three strong ladies are proudly represented as cancer SURVIVORS (because we already know you will be, Aunt B!) on our little Tree of Spirit. It makes me smile and think of those ladies every time I pass by. So to those I mentioned, please know that you have a tiny pink ribbon hanging on a tree in the middle of Illinois in your honor. Now how many people can claim that??? I love you ladies dearly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Mauneys in the Dells

So here you have it... my excuse for not blogging for a whole week... VACATION!!! Last week the two of us headed up to Wisconsin for a week-long R&R period and definitely took advantage of it. We turned off the phones, did not check emails, and just hung out reading, watching movies, and exploring the area, which was a nice break from the fast forwardness of our life. Even movers and shakers need to rest sometimes!

We had heard about the Dells from a number of people here in Small Town, IL. Everyone seems to make it their long-weekend getaway so we thought we'd give it a whirl. It's an area surrounding Lake Delton, which is a lake formed by a dam on a river up there. Oddly enough, something happened to the dam about a year ago and the lake dried up ENTIRELY! We did not know this until after we got home, but that explained the "The Lake is Back" signs that we saw everywhere. We kept looking at each other quizzically and asking, "Was the lake ever gone?" Apparently it was, and apparently it's much smaller now, which we did not know when we rented a pontoon boat. We could have kayaked around that whole lake in a couple of hours so the cruise in the pontoon boat was fairly quick! In fact, we ended up anchoring and taking a nap in the sunshine all day, which I can't complain about!

But anyway, back to the Dells. We didn't know what to expect and the town itself is a funny mix of upscale and cheesy. We stayed at a fantastic condo overlooking the lake that Josh found online (major props to him) and went out for some delicious dinners, including the best pizza EVER at a place called Moosejaw. Yum! We also decided to check out the main strip, which is a tad like Gatlinburg if you ask me! There were lots of fudge and candy shops, old fashioned photo places, haunted houses, souvenir shops, and a lot of interesting places in-between. But in true Mauney fashion, we figured "when in Rome" and had our old-fashioned photo taken (Western style of course), went to Ripley's Believe it or Not, bought t-shirts (which will be a tradition on every vacation we go on from here on out), played putt-putt, and wandered the streets eating ginormous ice cream cones (coconut chocolate almond for me and mocha almond delight for him). We also stumbled upon a very nice and romantical little "River Walk" area, which was a beautiful shaded pathway on a cliff overlooking the river. At the end of the walk was a nice little Pub where we had dinner one night.

Hmmm... what else can I tell you about the Dells? Oh yes- it's the waterpark capitol of the world and has the world's largest waterpark! We did not visit, unfortunately, but I'm sure we'll be back one day when we have kiddos to take with us. One of the main trends up there are indoor waterparks and we explored one of these one night when we went to the movies. This resort was something you'd find at Disney... it had an indoor and outdoor waterpark, indoor go-karts, a ropes course, laser tag, bowling, arcade, ferris wheel, carousel, and a movie theater. It was nuts! We took lots of pictures but they don't really do it justice to just how big the place was.

On the way home we swung through Oshkosh, WI for a night and visited our friends Ben and Angie. They had been down at the wedding, but we didn't get to spend much time with them. It was a low-key visit and we played Wii, ate hamburgers, played board games, and laughed a lot. We went out to breakfast the following morning and headed home, which was about a four-hour drive. Vacation was over for 2009, but it was certainly a good one! We're already trying to figure out where we want to travel to next summer!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Wow I have really fallen behind on my postings! The good news is, now I have a lot to catch everyone up on so this week should be nice and filled with Mauneyland news. So let's start where we left off...

The weekend before last we headed up to the main church campus for B3... it's a church-wide celebration that includes barbeque, beach volleyball (well, Illinois style anyway), and baptism for anyone who wishes to participate. Crossroads has five satellite campuses in addition to the main campus so it's one of the few times that everyone comes all together in one place. Our campus is the newest (in fact, we have not even had our first service yet, which will happen in September) but we had quite a crowd represented! The baptisms were supposed to be outside, but due to some stormy weather they moved everything inside to the main auditorium. At first we were a bit disappointed, but when you put that many people in a place that wasn't made for that many people, the energy is palpable! The worship band sounded awesome and played throughout the service and by the end of the night over 120 people, including yours truly, publicly proclaimed their faith for Jesus Christ. Talk about amazing!

So I know that there is much confusion about adult baptism. Most everyone I know was "sprinkled" as a baby (as was I) and are a little bit leery about the idea of the "dunking" method as an adult. To be honest, I did not understand it myself and did not really see the need to participate had you asked me six months ago. And then you get into the Bible... the place to find obvious answers. I was surprised to learn that nowhere in the Bible do infants get baptized! Now don't get me wrong, I am not against infant sprinkling as I do think it's a sweet ceremony and it's very special for the parents and the family, but the purpose behind it is to bring the baby into the church family. The church and family promises to look after that child's spiritual growth and help guide him or her through their own personal spiritual journey. Biblically, the closest thing to infant baptism is when Hannah dedicated her son, Samuel, to the Lord (1 Samuel 1). Later in the Gospels, Mary and Joseph bring their son Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord as well (Luke 2:22), but during this process there is no reference of baptism.

It is also in the Gospels that baptism is introduced. Along comes John the Baptist, who was born about three months before Jesus and is actually related to Jesus (it's never specified how, but cousins is the primary conclusion) to pave the way for the Messiah. He goes out into the Jordan River and does the Lord's work by baptizing with water for repentance. He states that "after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." In fact, Jesus Himself was baptized by John the Baptist, which is recounted in three of the four Gospels, and referenced in the book of John. When he showed up, John the Baptist did not feel worthy and therefore was not going to do it saying that Jesus should be baptizing him, but Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:13-15). It goes on to say that "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased'" (Matthew 3:16-17). From this we learn that God approves of this process.

The more I learned about it, the more I realized that the concept was not so weird or outlandish after all. The word baptism actually stems from a Greek work that means to "submerge in water" and so the dunking concept made much more sense to me. Not to mention, I had the opportunity to participate in something that we know for a fact that Jesus did himself, and God approves of. How awesome is that? So baptism is just that... a public statement of faith to show outwardly that this is who I am, and this is who I follow. As an infant, I did not know what that meant, but now I understand what it means to be a follower of Christ. So baptism is a celebration to show the world that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and I want the world to know it.

With all this being said, it does not state in the Bible that you have to be baptized to go to heaven and I certainly will never claim that as truth. If this were true, the thief on the cross next to Jesus would not have been told that he would spend eternity in paradise. I also do not believe that there is a "sprinkled" heaven and a "dunked" heaven. All I know is that it felt truly incredible to stand in front of hundreds of people and demonstrate my love for Jesus... that rush compares only to the other big moments in my life like saying "I do", finishing a marathon, and holding my nephew for the first time. It was a great day.

On a funny side note, I did get teased a little bit about kissing the pastor after being dunked, but maybe I just got carried away with excitement! I guess it was a little bit shocking to anyone who did not realize that I was married to him!

It's amazing to think that one day way down the road this man will baptize our own children... what a day that will be!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The grass ain't always greener....

...than it is in your very own yard. My hubby is such a sweetheart. :)

And in case you can't tell, he mowed I heart you into our backyard. I guess you can make anything into an art form!