Friday, March 30, 2012

random recentness

Happy Birthday to Daddy.... love, Isaiah
she's learning and loving to create beauty
she's learning some of everything.... and loving all of it too!
constantly exploring
Fridays...  Myles comes home with us for play and we usually mark the day with a fruit treat on the way home
thanks for the strawberries, Sir... we'll take some sugar cane next time
today we even bought some sesame cookie-cracker stuff
just our elevator
watch out world 
he made it happen
she'll be up there soon

my goober silly heros

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God of Justice

Another song to enjoy, to pray, to lift up to the Lord with Aaron Keyes is Psalm 62.... and I'm sure many more. I'm so grateful to sing this, pray this, this morning....

Move us into action....(not just my lips singing, help me move my life into action) We must go!

May He be praised!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vivi Turns One

Oh this girl....  it is just ridiculous how much we enjoy her!  She's started showing off for guests at our table, making sure they see all the funny faces she's learned.  She leans into me, smiling, hiding her face in my neck, in the morning when I open the door and we see my helper, who watches Vivi two mornings a week.  She lights up the whole room with her giggles and silliness when her siblings play peek-a-boo or roll balls with her.  She is all charm and joy in our home....

And I need to gear up a bit better next year for the double birthday bunch.  We celebrated Isaiah Friday night and then Saturday was booked with a wedding reception to attend and the second week of "Little League" but it worked to invite a sweet gift of a new friend to me for her and her hubby to bring their handsome little man crew to join in the baseball fun and to befriend Vivi for a little celebration for her one day early...  There's no picture to show of that dinner and there was no cake at all, but I did get a very yummy, and again, not perfectly pretty, cake together for our little princess on her actual day...

Thanks Auntie Heather for the bib....  I think maybe all four of our kiddos have worn it on their days? 

And here's a bit of a birthday photo shoot....  I was all about the dress, same one that Marian wore on her first birthday.   (Clearly, I was a bit too focused on the dress and lighting b/c there were some booger issues I really should have addressed!  Yes, she *hates* having her nose wiped, but I can only do so much with photo editing!  A lesson for next time!)

and one more glimpse of a Vivi funny face... and the guy who's inspired so much of Vivi's silliness

Over the Hand

I'm quite sure this is not a phrase that anyone says... but it's pretty special that our big guy is now into digits beyond the five fingers on a hand.  The Chinese have handy one hand signals for numbers 6-10 and I really should get a picture of him showing you "six"....  maybe soon.    Crazy!  Isaiah is SIX!

We've decided we might try to alternate between big party years and little party years for each kid.  Last year Isaiah invited his whole preschool (about 15 kids- out of 20ish- came) for a big shindig on April 16th (my belly was toooo big to plan much of a party last year on March 16th!).  This year would be a "little party" but for some reason, Matt and I agreed that "little" would mean we'd invite six friends from school.... and six turned into six boys and their brothers, and our awesome neighbor buddy who must also be invited.... It was not a little party.  It was also not a theme party.

But it was a fun party, full of laughter, and his cake was tasty, falling apart but hidden well under yummy icing, and our boy was delighted and Matt and I are just. so. glad.   Such a fantastic boy to celebrate.  Such lavishly Great Grace from our God to give us him...

There was also lots of joy for our boy over the gifts he received from his grandparents and parents, but no great pics.  The "smallness" of the party managed to get in the way quite a bit, intruding upon my high hopes for dozens of pics.  A bit of a bummer, but still, nothing could rain dismal on this 6 year old wild rumpus!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

double double

Welcome Baby!

Matt and Laura K. (our dear friends that we visited a few weeks ago), we are THRILLED for the smooth and nicely early arrival of your new baby boy!  There is much joy at our house for this news.....  Great thanks, great praise to God for all this... healthy baby and mama,  the timing (Laura even had a shower and her freezer stocked full for her just days before!) and a smooth birth in a local hospital when, we know oh so well, that wasn't your first choice, an option you were initially very excited about.

We have big hopes that since we've now doubled up on the double birthdays in March.... maybe this means we can get a birthday weekend together with you some years?   Isaac  and Isaiah share March 16 and Luke and Vivi share the 18th!  Such great cheer and joy!!!   (And Laura, we might need a little party planners encouragement team- two parties in a weekend is a doozy!)

And yes..... Today our precious little princess turns ONE.  Little Beauty Baby so grown up already!
A few pictures and posts coming soon about the super birthdays right here in our home...

oh so interesting

I have birthdays to post about.... it's just that there's more photos to look through than I have energy for tonight.... But, This Post (about the book All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes, by Ken Meyers) is so so super interesting to me!

I know there are times when I really do need to loosen up a bit (I actually don't enjoy Amelia Bedelia because she simply drives me batty) but how sadly true perhaps some pieces of our world have loosened up even to a silly extent?  It does seem like FUN, FUNNY, and COOL are all that our world has any appetite for anymore...  and Holiness, Sovereignty, Atonement, and Sin don't seem "worth our while."  The post noted that spheres of our culture, our world today "increasingly [see] themselves not as exercising authority but as begging for attention."    An essay first written in 1951 by sociologist Dr. Martha Wolfenstein noted,  “Whereas gratification of forbidden impulses traditionally aroused guilt, failure to have fun now lowers one’s self-esteem.”  This sounds oh so true for so many today.  What a super insightful sociological study!

Oh God give us power that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God, and live boldly for your name, jealous for your glory.  Teach us to avoid the lure of cool, and not spend ourselves entirely on flippant matters, wasteful with the days and strength you've given us.....  Teach us to live for your glory in all things.... all times.  Eating, drinking, working, laughing silly, and exercising authority all to the glory of God.   May it be, make it true in us, Lord, for your glory and our joy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bringing It Home

I have two favorite sites (JT and AV) that I read that feed me more than I can take in of links and articles of interest... This week a link from Ann landed me here:  chapter five of Mark Buchanan's new book, Your Church is Too Safe.  

This quote fits so precisely alongside Bonhoeffer's separation of cheap grace and costly grace....  here Buchanan distinguishes tourists and travelers, believers and disciples.  Oh God make us wise after the things of you!

Historian Daniel Boorstin documents a momentous shift that occurred in North America in the 19th Century: we stopped calling people who went on trips travelers and started calling them tourists.

Traveler literally means one who travails. He labors, suffers, endures. A traveler – a travailer – gets impregnated with a new and strange reality, grows huge and awkward trying to carry it, and finally, in agony, births something new and beautiful. To get there, he immerses himself in a culture, learns the language and customs, lives with the locals, imitates the dress, eats what’s set before him. He takes risks, some enormous, and makes sacrifices, some extravagant. He has tight scrapes and narrow escapes. He is gone a long time. If ever he returns, he returns forever altered.

In a sense, he never goes back.

A tourist, not so. A tourist means, literally, one who goes in circles. He’s just taking an exotic detour home. He’s only passing through, sampling wares, acquiring souvenirs. He tastes more than eats what’s put before him. He retreats each night to what’s safe and familiar. He picks up a word here, a phrase there, but the language, and the world it’s embedded in, remains opaque and cryptic, and vaguely menacing. He spectates and consumes. He returns to where he’s come from with an album of photos, a few mementoes, a cheap hat. He’s happy to be back. He declares there’s no place like home.

We’ve made a similar shift in the church. At some point we stopped calling Christians disciples and started calling them believers. A disciple is one who follows and imitates Jesus. She loses her life in order to find it. She steeps in the language and culture of Christ until his word and his world reshapes hers, redefines her, changes inside-out how she sees and thinks and dreams and, finally, lives. Whatever values she brought into his realm are reordered, oft-times laid waste, and Kingdom values take their place. Friends who knew her before scarcely recognize her now.

A believer, not so. She holds certain beliefs, but how deep down these go depends on the weather or her mood. She can get defensive, sometimes bristlingly so, about her beliefs, but in her honest moments she wonders why they’ve made such scant difference. She still feels alone, afraid, sad, self-protective, dissatisfied. She still wants what she always wanted, and fears what she’s always feared, sometimes more so. Friends who knew her before find her pretty much the same, just angrier.

You can’t be a disciple without being a believer. But – here’s the rub – you can be a believer and not a disciple. You can say all the right things, think all the right things, believe all the right things, do all the right things, and still not follow and imitate Jesus.

The Kingdom of God is made up of travailers, but our churches are largely populated with tourists. The Kingdom is full of disciples, but our churches are filled with believers. It’s no wonder we often feel like we’re just going in circles.

Oh God, please give us grace to love you like your disciples, Jesus, most of whom were martyrs in the end.  May we truly be a people, your people, who follow and seek hard after you.  Please don't let our lives be so small that the most we can say is that we, just like demons, believe.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Costly Grace

When I finished reading Eric Metxas's biography, I was really grateful, even relieved, to find this blog.  Phew!  I don't have to close the book and be done... I have (several) ways  to keep current in discussion and learning from the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  For example, Bryan Galloway (author of that blog) has several posts about the top reasons Bonhoeffer can impact us today.  The first three are:   Scripture Meditation, Christian Fellowship, and Costly Grace.  I need this... need every one of these "reasons." 

About Costly Grace, here's some of what is zealifying me from Bonhoeffer's own pen... the first chapter in Cost of Discipleship:  

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.  Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline.  Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.  

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has.  It is the pearl of great price to buy for which the merchant will sell all of his goods.  It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.  

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.  

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.  Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son:  "ye were bought with a price,"  and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  Costly grace is the Incarnation of God."  (p. 44-45)

Oh God transform us that our lives would boldly display You as the Treasure at the center, the Treasure we have sold everything else just to own.  And we will lack no good thing.  May it be Lord!  In us and in this land, may your kingdom come!

recent fun

How many times have we passed these guys selling balloons from their bike?  
It just seemed like a day to say yes.  

Our normal arrival home from school, perked up- though that's sure not evident on their faces!-
 by these special treats....    (PS. John really does have a balloon in there too, right behind Isaiah's.)  

And, we've had lots of fun lately with all of us getting on our wheels... pushing Vivi in a stroller to chase Marian on the scooter, John on his bike, or Isaiah on his roller blades.  Vivi is sure she'll catch them one day and she just might... by the time she gets into her own wheels.  Matt and I have roller blades too and a few times each of the half dozen of us have been rolling together on the cement square at the back of our apartment complex (our patio bricks are pretty bumpy).  Such sweet, fun family time!

Matt also bought a new board game, Ticket to Ride (on Taobao, China friends!) that he modified to make 4-5 year old friendly.  The (unofficial) Little Riders Edition.  Another new favorite.  Isaiah just might be a strategy game guy like his daddy, and Marian, well she surprised me with her immediate interest in the game.  She was super serious about her moves.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I picked up this paper and thought that Isaiah must have written a few play letters, not any real words....

"You know what it is, Mom.  It's Battle Mountain....  Oh, but sorry.  I forgot the silent E."

And the FAIT below?  Well, that's Fight, for anyone with eyes to see.

So when is it that I should be correcting spelling on every word?  I don't want him to learn words incorrectly but I also don't want to dampen his spirits...  for now just encouraging writing and easily mentioning or correcting often spelled words?  We both have so much to learn!

Here's a story Isaiah wrote probably 2 months ago:

This is a story about Love.

The season is cold.  The people are cold. 

The army is brave and good.

They rest with good dragons.

The brave army treats the dragons good.  

This is a good story.

Ehe End.

That this is a story about love is the part that makes me the most happy.  I love this boy!  And too, I'm encouraged to see that at times he has been more eager and it's worked for me to gently suggest correct spelling.  Maybe there's a time for correctness and a time for play?

Today's story project