Saturday, April 30, 2011

All I Have is Christ

Blessed again today to have these words playing loud in our home... 

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin 
"All I have is Christ"  from the Na Band's "Looked Upon" CD

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh We Love You Eli!!

Welcome, Welcome, sweet nephew~cousin!  We praise the Lord for you!  We are completely thrilled... overjoyed for you Grether!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Praying for Eli...

The Lord does increase!

Greg and Heather have revealed the name of their baby boy, Eli Joseph.  The name sounds great, but to read their post of the meaning, makes it even better.  And our sweet nephew is set to arrive tomorrow now!  It looks like some not-serious things came up and Heather is now being induced and expecting to meet their son tomorrow.

Would you join us in praying?  If you've tracked with us over the past year, you know to be praying for Greg and Heather to have peace in these hours they wait to meet their boy.... and to pray for a healthy little boy!  Oh we are so thrilled to hear the news of this sweet boy SOON!

Thanks for praying with us, dear friends!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cross in Easter

Last year, a friend (thanks so much BY!) posted a link to this post at the (In)Courage site.   Sweet suggestions, here and in the one linked from the bottom of this post, for how to celebrate Christ in Easter.... like making an Easter garden, keeping a Repentance Box/ Empty Tomb box (we're doing this), hosting a Seder dinner, and nailing a note of gratitude into wood.... listening to the nails, remembering the nails that pierced him.

The post was written by Ann Voskamp, and it's here that I first met this friend who has become a most delighted in mentor to me in the past year.  So, so grateful for her words and the beauty in Christ that she inspires me to behold and embrace.

I hope that you, dear friends, will find a way, do whatever it takes to be able to pause, gaze in wonder,

and behold him....


"The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."  

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
Hebrews 9:12
- I love this painting that I found on a Google images search about a year ago.  
Sadly, I didn't keep track of the link or the artists name (argh!) 
but if anyone comes across it, please please let me know!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

five years and a month

We finally got to celebrate our big boy- exactly one month after his birthday- with his new school & neighbor friends.  By culture laws here, it was illegal or at least perposterous to locals that we would host a party like this since it was still not yet one month since Vivi was born (I should be in bed that entire first month!) ...  but we've been calling her "nearly a month old" or "about a month" for more than a week now when people ask her age.  Our friends flexed their cultural expectations with us, and I think we all enjoyed the festive time together.  I know us Ks sure did...

Most of the time the kids ran wild and it was perfect... but for one bit we tried to provide a little structure.    The birthday boy ran fast as the wind, passed off the baton to his buddy, and then continued running the next lap with him.  We'll have to work on the idea of a relay...  

and finally... here's our fantastic birthday boy!

We enjoyed a local minority food for our meal together- our cool language tutors prepared it for us!  It was delicious, as was the chocolate cake, but still I think the straws were the highlight of the meal for the 5 year old crowd...  Such a joy to celebrate the amazing graces of God to give us Isaiah and to grow our boy with a heart after him.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

this week

 This big brother is really in love with our littlest girl

reading to Vivi.... lots of love from May

 Vivi has really chunked up this week!  every bit of chub is so soo cute!

Glad daddy Matt and a dear friend and language tutor "Bill"

Eager for a big bro or sis to meet his welcome at the bottom of the slide

 Little boys and their guns!  (our rule is not to shoot in spite or anger... but somehow still guns can be so much fun?)  This sweet silly boy is thrilled with his "hand gun" these days!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

compelling, needed, and good

7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  
I Timothy 4:7-8

Oh to be a woman of joy...  joy to the world:  our Savior who has come for us lives in me!  Oh to grow in godliness...  To train my body, my brain, my heart and soul to run hard after my Savior King and give all my efforts, affection, attention to His kingdom....  oh to know Him, to serve Him well, to be near to Him, to patiently, humbly lead and love others to Him...

And what if training towards this goal only comes slowly, is only learned painfully?  Is it worth it?  Could anything be more worthy?

This is what I'm hoping for....  to live well-worn... to be diligent (to grow in diligence) to practice, train myself towards the goals that weigh infinitely in eternity... to train for the worthy things that I will be glad for when I stand before the Lord:  that I hid his Word in my heart and it transformed me, that I stayed awake and prayed, that I laid down the lie that I had any rights to defend myself (pride, privacy, culture...) and much more...

Put me on a path after you, Lord, and help me to RUN...
not hurriedly, frantically,
but gloriously, happily,
hard after you.

So,  here's the inspiration behind all these ramblings...  another link to another Ann Voskamp post.  So soul-inspiringly good and nourishing.

The post:  Exercises that Make the Most Difference 

Friday, April 8, 2011

a shower and a swipe of lipstick

A friend of mine once said that she feels like she can tackle her days much better if she just gets herself up and puts on a little lipstick to be ready to face the day.  I'm not a lipstick girl but I'm glad I remembered her wisdom this week.

I had just moaned a little to Matt...  "when am I going to have a brain again, going to feel able to think again and able to initiate with my kids instead of only responding to them?  When am I going to move out of my pajama wardrobe and face days beyond maternity leave?"

Well, I guess that might be as soon as I decide to get up and get dressed.

I tried it this morning and it really has me feeling good.  A shower and early start, dressing as decently as 2.5 weeks post birth allows me and I think I actually crossed a few things off a to-do list this morning... and more importantly, I sat with my kids and looked in their eyes, heard from them, and laughed with them (and at them) and ....  it does feel good.

I'm grateful for this homegrown wisdom and all the friends that have visited us and had to accept the maternity leave version of me...

Note:  it is really cold in our house and not having heat inside makes the 45-50 degrees outside feel colder too.  But really... a girl can dress warmly in other than pjs.  

grateful to the Lord for...

~ John offering me his hand when I need to stand up.  (I think he saw Daddy do this when I was fully rounded pregnant, so he- though half my height while I'm squatting- very chivalrously offers me his hand now anytime he's near me when I'm standing up.)

~ our new nephew set to be arriving at the end of this month... the first boy cousin!

~  "Mom, can you make this again?" (...and for salad nonetheless!)

~ Yeye and Nainai (grandpa and grandma)-  tickets purchased for their visit at the end of next month!

~ Isaiah's passion for a good story... just like his Papa (they're about half done with The Hobbit)

~ sweet big brothers who both love to kiss our littlest girl (Isaiah did inform me recently that he hates it when other people kiss, but it's ok to kiss just family.)

 ~ catching a goofy glimpse of her sweet silly quick smiles (just the "gas-induced" type still- she's just 2 weeks here)  and so many glimmers of her sweetness...

~ the white and yellow and green that have dressed and wrapped each of our darlings littlest days

~ and the pink hand-me-downs and gifts for our girl!

~ a new plan to fill our back planters for free or 2 buck seeds.  Here's daddy with the helpers who assisted in transplanting lilac saplings (yes lilacs!) to our back patio

(honest- she's just being silly)

~ the view from my kitchen sink

~ Disco fingers up high, dancing in our seats at dinner

~ John's frequent offer/request, "Hep (help) you?"

~ My man's love notes... and even more, "eyes"... when a long look is all I to fill up on his love

~ Marian's song "Tuna Noodle Hot Dish" to the tune of Happy Birthday to you...

~ John holding my hand through dinner

~ girlfriends who love God and love to delve deeper into Him and talk/write about Him

~ The camera within reach for some self-portraits with our baby girl.... worth capturing, even in pajamas

happiness trickling out of her mouth

completely exhausted after 3 minutes in front of the camera!

~ cuddling Vivi

~ her hummy sighs

Thursday, April 7, 2011

missing Maelee

I had high hopes and plans for baking cucakes... but I wasn't able to pull it off.  Instead, we decorated cookies and talked about Maelee's birthday party with Jesus.  

 John was really upset about having icing on his cookie... I'm sure our icing wasn't as good as Maelee was enjoying, but really...

We sure do miss you Maelee...  and we're praying for your comfort and encouragement Greg and Heather.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grief & Gratitude in Death & Resurrection

Tomorrow is going to be a rough day in our family.  And by the grace of God there will be comfort there too...

It was Easter last year that our sister-in-law Heather last felt their first child kick inside her.  On Easter, Maelee died and two days later, April 6, she was born.    She was full-term and we were all waiting eager for the joyous news of her birth.

The first time we connected with Greg and Heather on skype after Maelee’s death... seeing Heather’s agony just to breathe, and being with Greg, who never wastes words, but this time, the moments of silence weighing painful heavy.   Staggeringly heavy and hard.  The memories steal the breathe out of me.  
If this loss and pain were the only reality, we would certainly be swallowed up alive, be left with nothing but bitterness and sorrow and gloom to live in.  
thanks be to God.
He has not left us without His promise.  His victory has been secured for us.  Maelee’s death, couldn’t have come with a greater promise- reminder attached to it.  Born on the day that Christ beat death for us:  that which we could never do for ourselves and never deserved anyone else (let alone our High King) doing for us.   Brought by his nail-scarred hands straight into his light... Her first breath being pure grace, the air of God’s presence.   And knowing that, because of Christ, Greg and Heather will spend eternity worshipping, joyfully, their Creator, Sovereign, Redeemer King... with her.  Praise be for grace such as this.
So our “hearts are filled with praise”... and yet that doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t almost shattering still...   But we, Maelee’s extended family, and Greg and Heather- We.grieve.with.hope.  
We grieve, trusting in God’s promises, upheld by his love.  We look ahead with longing and joy.  We hold fast, pleading for courage to trust this, that he will make all things right when he comes.   And we call Him good.  
He never had to do any good thing for us... but instead look what he has done: 
Thanks be to God that...
~ He created Maelee.  He purposed her from eternity past...  knowing and loving her sweet beauty, the twinkle in her smile and eyes, and that perfect red hair... I’m so grateful she was conceived and now lives for all eternity.
~ Maelee is already a big sister.  Maelee’s little brother is due at the end of this month.  We are so eager to see this month be marked for joy now!  And we are praying... and will you pray peace and protection for them with us?
~ Her parents have been upheld.  I know I was not alone in praying one year ago: “Sustain!”  “Uphold!” “Give grace!”  And you have done that, Lord.  We marvel at the sheer grace of God in their lives, for the way Greg and Heather have grieved for their girl, held tight to each other, and kept their hearts anchored in the goodness and sovereignty of God... even in death.   Maelee’s death and God’s own Son’s death.  You are good and Sovereign. 
~It does shed a happy light on our souls to affirm:  YES.  You are good, God, and you are sovereign.  We do affirm.
~ No work of yours is for evil, no plan of yours will be thwarted.  Even in death (in Maelee’s and in Christ’s) your plans are for our good.
~ Maelee and Greg and Heather’s lives have been a help for others to look to and consider the promises of God.
~ missing Maelee is another good reason to long for Heaven... her reminding us of this is a gift:  we’re always better off remembering where our true home is.
~ for cupcakes and tulips and kernels of wheat and songs and necklaces 
~ for friends and family to lift up weary hands and lay hands on as well... for blessing and prayer and kindness and help 

from Ann Voskamp, April 4, 2011 
“And even in the ache, God whispers: Give thanks anyways — do this in re-membrance of Me.

Why in the world give thanks? Why in the name of heaven?

Because when we remember how He blesses, loves us, when we recollect His goodnesses to us — our broken places re-collect. We re-member. We heal.

In the remembering to give thanks, our broken places are re-membered — made whole.

And in giving thanks to Him in the assembly, it’s our very souls that re-assemble, giving thanks to Him who let Himself be broken to make us whole.”