Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gasp! A new post!

I probably won't be any more "regular" about posting here, so just be excited whenever something new gets published! 

We are adjusting to our fall routine quite nicely.  We're very busy, but I haven't minded so far.  In addition to school and Bible study, we also have piano (new this year!) and soccer for the boys, and gymnastics for Anelise.  The boys' afternoons are quite full, as they have homework (and 3rd grade has a substantial jump in homework amounts from previous years!), piano practicing, chores, Awana verses to memorize, etc.  Somehow we've managed to turn in all assignments on time.  :)

We are beginning a phase of busy weekends as well.  This coming Saturday, Jonathan is organizing and running "The Amazing Race" for the senior high students.  It should be fun, but it's quite a bit of work planning it all and getting volunteers to help for each leg of the race.  Next weekend we're going camping with another family from our community group at Versailles (pronounced ver-sails for those who think it should be ver-sigh) State Park, south and slightly east of Indy.  Then we have two weekends in a row that we'll be home and just have soccer games to contest/spectate.  The second weekend of October is our church's women's retreat, at which I'll be helping lead worship.  The third weekend we'll be camping with Jon and Joy (bro and SIL) and their kids, as well as Orsi and Zoli ("sis" and "bro-in-law") at Ouabache (pronounced wah-bash for those who think it should be #@*???, and incidentally, is situated right along the Wabash River - why they didn't change their spelling I have no idea!) State Park, just south of Ft. Wayne.  We haven't been to either Versailles or Ouabache State Parks, so we're looking forward to trying some new campgrounds.  And finally, the last weekend in October will be our community group retreat.  We're using a vacation home of another family in our church.  That should be a relaxing time to spend more time together as families.  Before we know it, the holidays will be upon us!

Now that you have an idea of what our calendar looks like, here's a brief update on US.   Jonathan has been working a ton.  Up early, staying late, I feel like we don't see much of each other except on weekends.  Last weekend he went on the church's men's retreat, so that didn't help our facetime.  He's enjoying work though, especially the day last week that he and a couple of his guys rode in a blackhawk helicopter down to the Ohio River, looking for marijuana grows.  They didn't find any, but had a great day!

I'm experimenting with menu-planning and grocery shopping to see if we can save money by doing both less, but on a bigger scale.  As in, plan the menu for all of September, and buy everything that can be stored or frozen for the entire month at one time.  I'll still go out weekly, or every 10 days, to pick up fresh produce and milk.  So far, it's going well; I won't know how it affects the budget for awhile.  I'm liking going shopping less often!  I'm also leading a small group at Bible Study this semester.  I've never led a group and was initially intimidated by it, but it's going great!  (I hope the other ladies agree!)  I think it will give me the confidence to lead studies more in the future.

Ethan is in 3rd grade at Heritage Christian, and he's loving it.  His teacher is one of the most godly women I've ever met; her love for Jesus overflows to everyone she meets.  Ethan seems to be struggling with spelling this year, but he has made huge improvements in math from last year, which is an answer to prayer.  When he's not at school, soccer, awanas, practicing piano, doing homework, or sleeping (yikes, he's a busy boy!), he's often reading for pleasure, playing with legos, or playing lego starwars or lego batman on the Wii.  We're limiting the Wii to weekends now, much to the boys' chagrin.  But you've read about their schedules; there's no time!

Caleb is in 1st grade at Heritage.  He loves school and homework and is always very cheerful about completing it.  This is refreshing!!  Caleb is busy with the same things Ethan is.  He's very excited about piano lessons and seems to enjoy practicing.  Caleb recently went to the dentist, which was very traumatic.  It was just a cleaning, and he doesn't have any cavities, but for some reason, he's paralyzed by fear there.  It was emotionally draining for both of us.  I'm glad I don't have to deal with that for another 6 months. 

Anelise is approaching her 3rd birthday, can you believe it?!  Well, if you've met her, you probably can.  Her vocabulary is quite impressive, and she's quite precocious.  She goes to a gymnastics class each week, which she loves.  She is patient when running errands and usually is happy to do them.  She's still napping most days, although the nap-time has had to be moved and shortened because of the boys' school pick-up time.

Hmm, it looks like I just wrote our annual Christmas letter!  Oh well, some of you will get to see our update twice (or at least parts of it!).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

We've had a busy summer!  I guess that's my excuse for going nearly 2 months between posts.  We've completed baseball seasons and swimming lessons, we've vacationed with the Baker side and the kids had VBS.  My parents came home after year 4 in Hungary, and we spent a long weekend with them, including a camping trip to Clifty Falls State Park.  We're in a major drought, so while we were camping the state implemented a burn ban.  Let me tell you, burn bans really put a damper on camping.  We weren't even allowed to use a propane stove.  Fortunately, my parents had an electric frying pan, so we were able to prepare our food on that.  After camping, Mom and Dad took Ethan with them to Michigan to spend a few days up there before I joined them.

Last week Saturday, Jonathan left with a group of high school students and leaders to go to Challenge, the Evangelical Free student conference, held every two years.  This year it was held in New Orleans.  Since he was going to be gone for a week, I had decided to head up to Michigan to spend some more time with family.  I'm really glad I went.  I arrived by lunch time on Saturday.  My nephew Isaac had his 7th birthday party that afternoon, and Ethan and Caleb both enjoyed being able to go to that.  On Sunday we spent time with Jonathan's extended family after church, and spent time with Jon and Joy and family Sunday evening.  On Monday, we picked blueberries (I brought 8 lbs. home!) in the morning and spent time with more extended family (my Mom's brother's family) in the evening.  On Tuesday afternoon we went to The Land, to spend time with MORE extended family (Dad's cousins).  On Wednesday morning we went to the annual extended Baker brunch, and had a cookout for dinner with the quintessential 4th of July food: hamburgers, potato salad, and watermelon.  We went to fireworks in a small community south of Zeeland, and saw what may have been the longest and most impressive display I've ever seen!  On Thursday, we packed up, said our goodbyes, and drove to Kalamazoo, where we spent several hours reconnecting with my life-long friend, Katie.  It was so fun to finally meet her kids and introduce her to mine.  We were back on the road by 3 and home by 6:45.

I can't wait for Jonathan to be home this afternoon.  We have a couple weeks of just "normal" summer stuff, pretty low key.  It will be nice to be in that routine again before our next vacation!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bible Study Wrap-up

Two weeks ago, Wednesday morning Bible Study wrapped up with a year-end brunch.  As co-coordinator of Bible Studies, one of my responsibilities is to plan these brunches.  We needed a speaker, and I was feeling convicted to share how I've grown spiritually over the last couple of years.  I committed to being the speaker.  And then, for a month, every time I thought about what I'd gotten myself into, my heart rate increased.  I don't mind getting in front of a group, but sharing something so personal, making myself so vulnerable was really scary!  I had lots of people praying for me though, and it went very well.  I've heard a fair amount of positive feedback.  I know that many of my readers already heard what I said (because they were there!), but there are several friends and family members who will appreciate reading this.  (And Alissa, here's the promised blog post!)  Warning: this is a LONG post.

I'm Janna Baker, and today I want to tell you a little bit about my spiritual journey over the last few years.  I am one of those people who can say there's never been a time in my life that I haven't known and loved Jesus.  I grew up in a strong, Bible-believing family.  I went to church twice on Sunday and mid-week church programming.  I went to a Christian elementary school, a Christian middle school, a Christian high school, and a Christian college.  I would say that my relationship with Christ became personal and meaningful when I was 12 or 13.  I never rebelled.  I've been a good girl.

Yet, in adulthood, without realizing it, I was rebelling against God by refusing to spend time in his Word.  You can imagine, after 17 years of Christian education, not to mention my family upbringing and my church involvement, that I knew the Bible.  We listened to cassette tapes of verses set to music.  We had family devotions after dinner every day.  I could defend my faith, if asked.  And yet, I wasn't spending time in God's Word.  It was as if I was saying, "you know, God, I know all this already.  I don't need to keep reading it."  And looking back now, (and after taking the Respectable Sins study!), I recognize that I was living a life of ungodliness.  What I mean by that is that I was living my life as if I was in control.  I was going through the motions of the Christian life without really depending on God.  At the time, I didn't recognize the ungodliness in my life, but I knew I was not growing spiritually.  I remember going out for lunch with the ladies of my home group, and one of them asking me how my time in the Word was.  I had to admit that I was doing minimal preparation for Wednesday morning Bible study, and other than that and Sunday morning worship, I really wasn't doing anything.  I was starting to feel convicted.

But here's the problem.  I didn't want to spend time in God's Word!  When I had some free time, I wanted to knit, or read for pleasure, or skype with family, or play games, or sleep!  I can't tell you how many times I felt nudged to spend time in the Word, and I chose to ignore it.  I chose to follow my sin nature and be selfish with my time.  It was at a one-day retreat here at church that I confessed that I don't have a desire to spend time with God.  Someone in my small group at the retreat told me I should pray for that desire.  So I did.  I told God that I didn't really want to spend time with Him, but that I wanted to want to. 

When, at the end of 2010, Pastor Tom encouraged us to find and use a Bible-reading plan for 2011, I decided it was time to make a commitment.  So I started reading my Bible, four chapters per day.  There were days that I forgot to read, and other days that I read two- or three- or four- days worth of readings to make up for those missed days.  Many days, especially at the beginning, my Bible reading was just routine.  I was reading it to check it off my list.  And I'll admit, I still have days like that.  I had to tell myself that even if I get nothing out of my reading, I'm still being obedient to God and that honors Him.  On December 31st, I read 12 chapters and completed my goal of reading through the Bible in a year. 

This year, I've chosen to read through the Bible again, using the same plan I used last year.  But I'm discovering that there are so many little different details that jump out at me this year.  I'm learning that even though I've known this book my whole life, God can teach me new things with each new reading of it!  I'm often surprised at connections between different chapters that I'm reading.  And I often feel like His Word was written just for me at particular times.  His Word is becoming more personal, more applicable to my life.  I find encouragement, conviction, power, and comfort.  I find instructions on how to live a Godly life. 

I recently re-read Psalm 19.  Starting at verse 7, it says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.  The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.  The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.  By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward."

I am starting to see some rewards for my faithfulness in being in God's Word.  I'm getting to know God better.  I am growing spiritually.  I am being convicted of areas of sin in my life that I need to confront (yeah, I know, that doesn't really feel like reward).  I'm being reminded daily of how much God loves me.  And I feel at peace. 

I wonder if anyone here is at that place I was a few years ago.  Feeling spiritually stagnant, and wondering how you can revitalize your walk with God?  Start praying for the desire to spend time with God, whether it's through prayer or through the Word.  He will be faithful and will answer your prayer.  I think of Psalm 42: 1-2 that says "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?"  I still can't say that I yearn for time with God.  But I believe that I'm still on this journey, and that as I remain faithful to God, He will be faithful to me, and He'll continue to grow me in Him.

Some of you here are in a busy stage of your lives.  Many of you have young kids that require near-constant supervision.  When I had younger kids, I used that as one of my excuses for not spending time with God.  But I've realized now that it's a cop-out.  If you pray for the desire to know God more, and you make a commitment to spend time with Him, you WILL find time for Him.  It might mean waking up earlier.  It might mean staying up later.  It might mean giving up a few of those precious nap-time minutes to spend in the Word and prayer before moving on to laundry, dishes, catching up on e-mail, Facebook, Pinterest, or other distractions.

Let me leave you with one more passage, the one that is on the cards at your table.  Isaiah 55:10-11 says, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."  It is my prayer that the Word we have studied together this year will encourage you, convict you, change you.  Apply it to your life, and allow God to grow you. 

Prayer:  "Lord, your word is a lamp for our feet and a light on our paths.  Accept the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.  Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.  Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.  My heart is set on keeping your decrees, to the very end.  Amen. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I have just a few minutes, I'm guessing, before Anelise is awake and calling for me to come get her (she won't get out of bed on her own, which we think is a very good thing), so I thought I'd write a quick update.

We had a wonderful spring break trip.  It was so good to spend time with good friends, and we really did love spending time with both the Riedel family and the Bax family.  Our one night on our own in Niagara Falls was spectacular too.  Maybe if I have time I can even post a few pictures! 

Now I'm finally starting to realize that school is almost out for summer.  I can hardly believe how fast this school year has gone.  I say that every year, but, seriously, this year was something crazy.  Now it's time for field trips, and baseball, and summer planning!

The boys started baseball last week.  Jonathan is coaching both boys on separate teams.  Ethan's team (7-8) practices on Tuesday nights at 5:30, and Caleb's team (5-6) practices the same night at 6:30.  Technically for Caleb's team, Jonathan is assisting his friend and co-worker, Ryan, whose son is also on the team.  The boys' first games are a week from Saturday.  It worked out that there's only one week that their games are at the same time, and it just so happens that we'll be out of town that week. 

Our summer is already filling up.  In fact, we were invited to spend a week on the coast with friends (in Delaware) and we had to turn them down, because Jonathan does have to work some weeks this summer!  (I'm disappointed though, how fun would a week on the beach with friends be?!)  Between family cottages on both sides (Bakers in June, Ippels in August), camping trip(s), a 10-day trip for Jonathan to New Orleans with the youth group, and SpringHill day camp for the boys in July, our summer really is quite full already. 

I just went to upload some photos, and I can't find them.  I'll have to talk to my tech guy and post them later.  It's possible they're on his laptop but not our desktop.  I think that's the case. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Anelise is well ahead of the curve when it comes to speech and vocabulary.  She's not even two-and-a-half, and she speaks very clearly, in complete, proper sentences.  Even her responses to questions are complete sentences.  If I ask if she finished her food, she never says, "yes" but always, "yes, I did!"   It's quite entertaining.  Here are some of my current favorites, many of them get repeated often:

"Someday we will have a dog at our house."
"When I get older, I will have earrings and a necklace."
"What in the world?!"
"Thank you, God, for such a beautiful day!"
"You can open my door in the morning, and I can get out of bed!"
"Why do we have so many people?" (in our family)
"What color are your eyes?" followed by...
"Did God make your eyes blue?"
"Hi, Chile Verde!" (driving past our favorite Mexican restaurant), followed by...
"Goodbye, Chile Verde!"
"Are we going to pick up Grandma Miles and go to Bible Study?"
"See you later, alligator!" (when finishing a skype conversation with Grandma and Grandpa Ippel)
"Will Kaylee be in my class?"  (friend from church)
"I burned my fingers on the burner a few weeks ago."  followed by...
"Jesus made my fingers all better!"
"Thank you, Mommy, for giving me dinner!"

Monday, March 12, 2012


It finally happened.  Ethan lost his first tooth yesterday!  I think he's looking so grown up with that missing tooth.  And I'm really glad it happened on its own yesterday, before he gets two more pulled tomorrow!  I'll have to get a picture and post it soon!

We are in the phase of our year where lots of people come visit.  We have four weekends in a row with visitors coming, followed by two weekends of spring break.  That's a lot of people we're visiting with, which is lots of fun!  Last weekend Jon and Joy (my brother and sister-in-law) came for IndyCon (board gaming convention that Jon and Jonathan go to).  We had a fun time, although Joy was sick and eventually was diagnosed with strep throat.  Fortunately, nobody in our family caught it.  This past weekend, Jonathan's dad came for a visit.  We went to BrickWorld with him on Saturday.  BrickWorld is basically a Lego expo.  There are lots of very large lego displays; big cities, airfields, and my particular favorite, Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Colts).  This was the first year we've gone to BrickWorld; the boys loved it!

Next weekend, Orsi and Zoli are coming for a visit.  Orsi and Zoli are my "adopted" sister and brother-in-law.  They live near Toledo, OH.  They're going to join us for a marriage retreat on Friday night and Saturday morning at our church, and the rest of the weekend I imagine we'll play lots of Tichu.  The following weekend, Luke, Mandy, and their girls are coming (Jonathan's brother and sister-in-law) for the weekend.  I imagine our time will be spent here and at Jonathan's Mom's house.  I don't think any specific plans have been made, but we're looking forward to some time spent with them!

And before we know it, Spring Break will be upon us!  I'm starting to get excited about the long car ride.  And yes, I'm serious.  I love road trips.  It's probably time to finalize some details of the trip.  Maybe we'll accomplish that this week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

For the first time in my life, I'm on a diet.  I'm not technically overweight (though the "healthy" range for my height is 118lbs to 159 lbs, a huge spread, if you ask me), but I've been feeling self-conscious about how I look.  After learning about from my sister, I decided I'd try it. is a free site where you can keep track of the calories you eat and exercise away on a daily basis.  It allows you to enter your current weight, your goal weight, and how much weight you'd like to lose per week, and it tells you how many calories you should aim for each day.  I'm currently on a 1300 calorie diet, which is challenging.  I feel like I eat pretty healthy things, but I wasn't good about portion control.  And I wasn't much of a snacker, but doing MFP has pretty much cut out all snacks (can't have a snack if I also want dinner!). 

I've been really happy with the results so far.  My goal is to lose a pound per week, and after two weeks, I've lost 3 pounds.  I was already losing some weight before I started MFP; I've lost a total of 5 pounds since my California trip.  My goal is to lose around 10 pounds, but once I get there, I may readjust my goal and keep going.

I'm also exercising.  I walk/run on my treadmill at least 5 days per week.  I've committed to exercise AND reading my Bible on a daily basis, so I've decided to combine them.  I have a Bible app on my phone, with my reading plan, so as I walk, I read my 4-5 chapters on my phone.  If I finish my reading and haven't walked at least a mile, I run until I reach a mile, if not further.  Then I also do abdominal exercises, pushups, and lunges.  I'm noticing a difference both in how I feel and in how I look, so I'm really pleased!