Tuesday, December 28, 2010

kinda like a growth chart at the end of the year?

Here's my best shot at sizing up where each of our kids have grown to in 2010...

John John:  unspeakably delightful.  18 months is truly a favorite age for Matt and I so far on our journey in parenting.  It's the best (and last!) of "baby."  John is beginning to talk and is understanding so much.  He loves to find special toys for his big bro and sis if they are hurt or sad.  Loves, loves his Moses bear and Moses blanket.  Snuggling both Mo.s, a cup of milk, and Mama on the couch is his very favorite way to wake up and often, he just won't settle for anything less.  Sometimes he's so enamored with the Mo.s that he doesn't want to be lifted from his bed where he's playing with them... and laughing to himself or at them.   Quite a runner: again, laughing at himself as he goes.   Adamant climber (chairs, stairs and the bunk bed ladder) and prolific greeter (Hi, Bye, and Zaijian- goodbye in Chinese).   Lover of dogs (and all animals are "Dahs" for now.)   Super man, compliments of Uncle Greg and Auntie Heather.  

Marian Lynn:   Definetely the firecracker in our group.  She is a truly super fun girl.  She's usually the most extroverted of our family but still not her most lively self in a group too large or unfamiliar.  Finishes a lollypop in 4.5 minutes.  Our dancing, singing, swinging, teaching (her invisible kids follow her around the house for lessons), bike-riding, dress-up princess, we love her so much, darling girl.  Queen of Hearts gown from Grether.

Isaiah: This guy seems way too big to be our boy... I think he's had a major growth spurt and we love to see how he's maturing.   Far superior artistic talent to mom or dad, great singer (when he thinks no one is listening), gifted and often longwinded storyteller (in Chinese and English),  future archer & swordsman,  bike rider, delicious to tickle, funny, wonderful boy.  Finishes a lollypop in 55 minutes.

Toy Story Mac-n-Cheese also from.... yep, Grether. Grandma and Grandpa sent some fantastic gifts too, but we were on the web cam with them to open those gifts so I missed getting any good shots.  And our sweet church family sent a great box of treats, and gifts, and wonderful hand-me-downs and needs that I had ordered online.  So blessed to receive from such thoughtful, loving friends and family!  Thank you all!

And.... the littlest one~  K4: We are so excited to meet this little one towards the end of March.  Since we are quite solidly planning that this will be our last pregnancy, the gender question seems all the more magnificently incredible!  Who will the Lord choose to add to our crew as our 4th little blessing?  We are so grateful for the near 27 weeks of growth so far and are praying for God's clear provision and peace for a healthy birth.  We still have no idea where we'll be for the birth- stay here or go to the capital?  So many factors to consider!   Belly shot coming...  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Dear Friends!

We hope and trust that this year will be full of marveling and wonder and "inexpressible joy" to consider Christ, God who took on flesh to become the sacrifice for our sins.  His arrival we never deserved, but we have so graciously received it and now we joyfully celebrate.  May this Christmas be a deeply joyful celebration of His coming, His love, His grace!

We pray that He will draw each of you- and us too!- into more of His grace and wild wonderful love in the new year.  

in Christ, our Savior, King of All!
Matt and Jill
Isaiah, Marian, John, and K4 (due in March)

This morning, we took a few boxes to our new home and picked up the key... we'll be moving in Dec 31.  

Here's the incredible patio we are still amazed that we'll get to enjoy- right off our very own dining room.  So incredibly rare here!  May it be a place of delight well, well used!

We woke up to a light layer of snow- the first this year- and it's increased through the day.  Such a special treat!  Here's Matt loading up the first round of boxes to move to the new place.  

for more on each of our sweet kiddos, another post is coming soon :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

when a girl's heart leaks at the seams

Last night was glorious in a sweet, simple way.  The whole day was spent preparing for our best friends and neighbors, kids classmates and teachers who came for a Christmas party in our home.   Matt got out for a last minute meeting with a local brother to sharpen phrases and tweak sentences before he presented to our friends the reason we celebrate, the reason we worship God at Christmas.  Such dear friendships have been formed in these 11 months here.  Such sad goodbyes as we told them all we'll be moving the week after Christmas.

Our wonderful landlord was with us too, and her zany son, whom Isaiah absolutely adores.  Not a single one of us understands or agrees with or approves of the poor (unjust) decisions at our local law center that are forcing us to move from our home.  Everyone wants us to fight it but we've decided, with much peace and also great sadness, it's time for us to move on.

The kids were in bed only one hour late, exhausted from pillow fights and chases with kids from John's age up to twelve.  Cleanup was manageable and my amazing man blessed me to take a bulk of that load.  Then we sat down, exhausted too, on the couch for the last slice of the evening-  quietness, together, listening, marveling, praying.

Oh that these friends might receive the news of this Reason for Christmas.  Wonder that these friends and neighbors have become so dear in just 11 short months.  Would they know you, Christ!!

Oh to say goodbye to this home, this wonderful home that we love, where I pictured homeschooling big kids a few years down the road.  Our new place is great but I had dreamt so much of this home.   The Son of Man had no place to lay his head and apparently he is giving us grace to not let us lay our hopes down deep in a home for us either....  Last minute change to the contract on our new place made it a contract for just one year (we were hoping for 2 or 3 years).   But I will take it as grace for our good, though it is bitter too.

This baby is kicking me good- can't wait to meet him/her!-  and we still don't have a place to stay when we go to the capital for the birth in two and a half months.  

Oh that our lives here would be fruitful for the glory of the One who is worth everything we have to give.   Oh, oh to have a better view of him....  to be driven after who he is even more than the smaller aims we strive after for him.   Oh to know God!

How grateful I am to share all this with such a husband as mine!  And what a great dad he is too.

Sometimes I'm quite sure my seams will not hold- my heart and all these emotions you made me with, will burst out of me here- and I'm so glad to know that you welcome me like this- keeping all of these tears, hearing all of these prayers, knowing all of my heart.  

Endless thanks and awed joy to belong to such a God as You.

Monday, December 13, 2010

a bold bite of challenge

Ann Voskamp recently posted this video from Eric Ludy.  Watching, many tears flowed.  Compelled, joyfully, once again to do all that I can for the glory of our King.

Lord help me, help us, to live more honorably, to fight well for You, our Savior King!

Come, Jesus!  Make us who you want us to be. Work in your people for your glory, for LIFE for the needy, and our joy in you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

how did we miss this?

The kids and I were looking through old pictures recently and we found this video that I really don't remember at all.  I'm quite sure if I had seen it, I would remember having to squeeze tight to keep things together while I watched my son dance like this....

I know this won't strike everyone as funny as it does me, but there are some of you who I think just might laugh like I have.  Ladies, you know who you are, prepare your bladders....

John was in my belly there....  April 2009:  Isaiah was 3yo, Marian 1.5.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

more favorites

We are all enjoying our advent time together....

Finish up dinner, turn off the lights, proclaim some Christmas reminder like "Christ the Light of the World!" as we light candles and light up the tree and gather together for some of his warmth and his word.  (As often is the case, this came by way of inspiration from  my dear friend Ann.   We're also reading her Jesse Tree devotional in this time together.)

Here are two favorite treasured moments from this time recently:

I pass around a plate of chocolate mint cookies (with a grateful heart for my mother-in-law mailing us those Andes chips!) and gather around our candle to read....  and John reaches from his high chair for his big brother's hand.  Those two boys sat the whole time listening, nibbling, quiet, wide-eyed at the candle, praying, holding hands.... till we got up from the table.

And then last night, Daddy suggested we leave the lights out after reading and prayer and turn up some good Christmas music.... Candle light to enjoy these current favorites:  Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb" and Todd Agnew's "Do you see what I see?"   We snuggle cuddled on the couch,  two boys and us mom and dad, all listening and also watching our princess (she dressed up in two different dresses, with headbands to complete the deal) as she danced to her heart's fullest.....  silent laughter and wonder for the deep gratitude and incredible joy of such an evening of worshipping the Lord- our King who came for us!- together.

And one more...  not during advent time but on the walk home from school.  Marian looked at a pile of bricks at a construction zone we pass by and she exclaimed "Look Mama!  A castle!"  Oh for her eyes!  Of course Jesus loves such a love and beauty seeking heart as hers.  (And I sure do too...)  

more freebies!

Maybe we're the last Americans to figure out that you can download Kindle for your computer for FREE.  From Amazon, just enter Kindle for Mac or PC and you'll find it there.  There are scads of free classic books (Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice) not that we'll be reading any of those in this season, but in time, what a perfect thing to have for homeschooling here.  Free classics that we don't have to lug around with us.  Fantastic!

We also got to download a commentary on John from RC Sproul for free this week.  Don't know why, but it was free for a limited time.  We almost missed the deadline ourselves but if we found it earlier, we sure would have shared it here!