Friday, April 20, 2012

Where's Vivi?

I won't even pretend the snottiness is an abnormality, and true, she's mid-diaper change, but this little moment with our precious girl is still sweetly joyful enough to share!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

first game

The little guy asked him "Isaiah, play baseball with me?"  And it was their first game of catch together...  Such Joy!
he's doing so well passing on all that he's learned from Daddy

in his mama's eyes, he's got all the right moves
and, well, he's just adorable with or without the moves
fishy shorts and fishy moves

 ready for the throw to land right where it should

And that I get to be the mama to these boys?  This is unspeakable grace.  
I am so grateful to the Lord and so in love with them!

Grace!  We made it to the mountains outside of our city for a sweet day with these cherished new friends.

After as much hiking as the little legs could handle, the daddies and the kids rode the cable car to the top and the mamas and babies sat for a long talk....  what a gift!
Yum!  Our local friends invited us over to share these terrific dishes.

Daddy Love

sometimes Vivi gets more hugs than she knows how to handle
Saved up gift money for over a year and we finally bought this!  Isaiah's teacher comes tomorrow for his first lesson and he told me "when I get a little bigger, we can just have church at our house and I'll play the piano."  Oh Yes!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Little Hymnal

When our niece Maelee passed away, I knew I would want to see her name in glad places in our lives.  So this little hymnal I think of as Maelee's, finished to mark two years of missing her here on earth. These songs are to correct my thinking, exhort my heart when storms (like grief or even just everyday battles) come strong against me.  Some other songs are for lifting our voices to sing along with Maelee and all the saints who have gone before... yes, even with all the angels and all creation as we'll one day lift our voices in right adoration of our King.

Maelee's mama told me once that she wanted to learn more hymns and I know I desperately need every help I can get to set my mind on the truth, to lift my soul from the messes that I am constantly cleaning and sometimes sinking my heart into.  May the Lord lift our eyes and hearts with these words...

If you don't have these tunes, you can find them easily on iTunes.  I would be happy to share this hymnal (Word document) with you if you let me know an email address where I can send the file.  It's yours to print- laminate- post however and wherever you want to be ready to sing!

Sovereign Grace Music:  Together for the Gospel
A Mighty Fortress is our God
It is Well with My Soul
How Firm a Foundation
Oh the Deep, Deep Love
Come Thou Fount
How Deep the Father's Love for Us
My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
I Will Glory in My Redeemer
Arise, My Soul, Arise
The Power of the Cross
My Song is Love Unknown
And Can It Be
There is a Fountain Filled with Blood
Before the Throne of God Above
In Christ Alone

Jadon Lavik:  Roots Run Deep
Blessed Assurance
Tis So Sweet
My Father's World
I Surrender All
Wondrous Love
Turn Your Eyes
I Need Thee
Take My Life
What a Friend

Michael Card:  Hymns  (Several songs here are the same as the Sov Grace CD above.  Choose your style. Card's music might not strike my generation or younger as "cool" to begin with, but it is timeless, treasureful beauty in my eyes now.)
Look, Ye Saints

Aaron Keyes: various
Psalm 62:  My Soul Finds Rest in God
To Make Your Name Great

Martyn Layzell:  Glimpses of Worship
Oh Church Arise

Grace Community Church:  Lavished Grace
Jesus I am Resting Resting

Libera:  Angel Voices
Abide with Me
Be Still My Soul (also can try The Kry Unplugged if you don't like the boy choir version)

(And of course, if a different version of the song appeals to you more, choose your artist!  These are the ones I've chosen for our home :)  And if there are songs you want to add.... the word document is yours to add to!)

I have only listened to the free songs from these two albums  (Scripture Lullabies) but I know that these are songs I want to add to this often played list in our home...

Two Years and All of Eternity

This week we've been watching the light fade, candles blown out nightly as we linger together over scripture passages that point us toward the cross..... (We're really grateful for and enjoying Ann Voskamp's "Trail to the Tree" Easter Devotional and Noel Piper's suggestion for abbreviating lent and illustrating lent with candles for littler kids to grasp better.)   And as we wind down to the day we mark as the day of Jesus' death for our sins we come to the same day this year that marks the birth of our Maelee, our precious cousin-niece who's alive with Christ.  Two long years we've missed her, her living eternal joy having just barely begun.

There is So Much to process as we think of these days, this family, this precious little life we miss so much and it feels like more than what's humanly possible to both grieve for Maelee and celebrate our Savior to the full extent that these lives and deaths deserve and to do all this in the same 24 hours....

But we know that God IS.  God is sovereign and good.  His mercy is such that he would give his own Son to enter into our mire and die for us.   If it were not for the God who first gave us breath, that he came to give us forever life beyond this air, we would have no hope.

But we grieve anchoredsecure in hope.  Two years since the storm, I know that anchor new and strong.  Christ is our hope.  Christ is our joy as we think of Maelee living now with him, and as we look ahead to the day we will breathe Heaven's air and finally full live, we will dance and worship Him with her.  Christ is our all-satisfying future and peace.  We live because He lives and it's not a cliche, but truth to hide our whole lives in,  (our world, our souls are still jolted with storms!)  Christ is the truth that Everything hinges on.

As I think this year of honoring Maelee and worshipping with her, I've pushed to complete a simple project in her honor.  I've made a "Kitchen Hymnal" before.... just pages to print and laminate to help me sing aloud in the kitchen.  This is like a Volume II.  Songs to sing with Maelee.  Songs to cry out for God's truth to be the rock I hide myself in for all the storms that come...

May our Hope be sung out loud!  May our hearts be hidden in His truth!

See the next post if you're interested in signing with us, friends...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

show me truth {with passion, please}

Perhaps it's a touchy subject for some, the idea of "indoctrinating our kids," leading them to believe what we believe.  Is it ok for adults to influence kids like this?

Like it or not, know it or not, adults are continually teaching and influencing kids.   I can remember Ms. Johnson leading my 10th grade class in a discussion of the Holocaust.  Her attitude was "That's just the way it was.  Sad fact of life.  Too bad.  Now it's time to move on..."  

I don't remember being influenced by her passion for the lives of the Jews and all the victims of the Hell's Reich.  But sadly, I was influenced by her dispassion.  It's a sorrow to me that it took me years to read enough and hear enough to move me from too-shallow-a-passion, to fire-in-my-bones on this subject (but I'm blazing now after reading Eric Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)  
The Holocaust should horrify, anger, grieve us.... and deeply so.  It's not ok to pass over the topic like we pass the peas at dinner.   We most certainly plan on indoctrinating our kids with a fierce and furious passion on this subject. 

As for the thought of not wanting to choose beliefs for our kids, but simply letting them grow up to believe whatever they'll choose on their own, that assumes that what we believe is optional, subjective, open to personal opinion.  

But we believe that the truth is true regardless of our opinions about it.  For example:  The Holocaust happened (believe it or not) and it was wrong (even if you're a Nazi).  And because our kids need to know the truth, we will tell them.   We're sure not going to lie to them and say that the truth might not be true, or that they could choose something false and it would be just fine.

Just like we believe the Holocaust happened and that it was wrong, we believe the Bible is True and that it guides us to know what's good and it's not contingent on anyone else's opinions... It's actually, really, absolutely true.  Our kids need the truth, and we will tell them and we want to help them think critically about the world and the Word, to see the truth, to be passionate about God and goodness and to fight against evil.  

And now finally, my very roundabout ramblings bring me here, to this gas can for the fire... a quote from John Piper that sparked these thoughts in me.  Perhaps Piper has also recently read Metaxas' Bonhoeffer biography?  He said this about Hitler and the stories from Germany and WWII Europe that are told by Eric Metaxas in his biography of Bonhoeffer:  

Tell these stories to your children. Tell them with passion. Tell them with tears. Send your children into the world with their eyes sharpened with the bright light of history. Send them ready to name the academic Nietzsches for what they are. Send them with an unflinching Nie wieder! (Never again!) in their hearts.  

(John Piper, "Tell Your Children What Hitler Did.")

Amen.  God help us to do just that.

Monday, April 2, 2012


A friend of mine recently said that she thinks Sunday mornings are one of the hardest things about living and working here.  We yearnnnnn to get to be a part of a church body that worships, preaches, serves, fellowships, spurs one another on...

We had some friends to dinner at our place this week and when this discussion came up, Matt told them that we'd love to have a certain gathering of local friends to join on Sunday mornings..... but no one yet wants to come.  May that day come soon!

There are a few gatherings that we are allowed to be apart of here, but there's always difficulties with travel (we've waited cumulative hours on the roadside for taxis lately- not fun with four little ones) or some strangeness about a small group of folks from across the board of theological-church backgrounds that try to settle into a one hour service together.  It can be wonderful and/or sometimes it can be just plain silly or really, really odd.

Recently we heard a "talk" that had some scripture it was supposed to be from but I couldn't tell you what. The only thing I remember hearing was about how Christians should be happy.  There were lots of jokes and then the main point at the end was "for crying out loud, when someone asks you how you're doing, don't be depressing and moan and groan.  Show them a happy face and cheerful voice.  You never know whose life you're going to change with just that."

We were squirming in our seats.  Ahh....   if we could have just raised a hand and mentioned kindly....  "But, sir, surely you're not saying that being Christian is about always being happy;  fake smiles don't mean we're super spiritual.   Nor is it matter of us doing everything right all the time."  Actually the exact opposite is more needful to point out:  the issue that changes everything is that God sent Jesus to rescue us when no amount of effort on our part could bring us to life.  Christ saves us from our own inescapable imperfection and even our own intentional wrongs.    This is shocking, crazy, wonderful news that I know I desperately need to have hammered into my heart repeatedly.

Argh.  If all I ever heard from the pulpit was what I should be doing to be a happy-looking "Christian" person, I sure wouldn't want to come back for more.  Sadly, if this is what many are hearing, or simply a sermon a week about being nice, it doesn't surprise me that so many walk away from the game.  Really, who would ever think it's fun to dress up and pretend to be pious?  Who would say it's truly soul-satisfying to be fake or to trust in our failure-full selves?  How sad to see the name "Christian" here...   like a misnamed shallow social group or a tombstone for a dead church.

Pastors, we would see Jesus... the God Man who came, who knows us, who "gets" our lives and struggles, who calls us precious and has counted the hairs on our heads, who is from eternity but entered this world to bring us to himself....  Let us feed our souls on the truth of Him that we may live.

This week there we heard a much more encouraging sermon.  Really a joy to hear.  And, what a grace too that we live in this day of having such easy access to excellent sermons online.  We're so grateful for the Gospel Coalition group, the blogging and sermon links there, and the many great churches we enjoy hearing from, and for friends sending links they've loved.   We're really filthy rich with resources......  and we're so. very. grateful.

And....  because recorded sermons are still not "The Body of Christ" I will also give a little shout out that we are getting super excited to connect with many of you back in the states this fall when we are back for a visit.  Please let us hear from you if you have time to connect.  What a gift it would be for us!  Thank you friends!