Monday, April 30, 2007

Family Night

Once a month our church family gets together at someone's home for a potluck dinner and lots of fellowship. We call it Family Night. The kids, of course, think it's a big party, designed just for them. :) We are very thankful for the believers here; they have actually become like family to us and we pray for that closeness to remain. And grow, even.

This is something that Dave and I have been praying for specifically for awhile now. This verse is on a 3x5 card on the window sill above my kitchen sink.

"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." Romans 14:19

As if it were a chase or something. And you know, speaking as an emotional woman (well, that's how I tend to be!), sometimes it is rather elusive. Definitely a spiritual battle, as our enemy would seek to kill and destroy. But I have found the Lord to be so faithful to help. He longs for us to know intimate fellowship with Him first of all, and then with each other too. And if the mushy feelings aren't always there, well, you can run to Him and beg Him to give you that agape love for another believer. And He will! I can tell you from personal experience.

But in our situation, we're just really thankful for the group the Lord has brought us into. They are easy to love, and we are enjoying these days of serving our Lord together.

Last night Family Night was at Kim and Doug's, and the weather couldn't have been any nicer. It was in the 80's, with a nice breeze, perfect for kite flying. Anne was sweet to buy a Diego kite for Ethan, and so he got to fly a kite for the first time. He was so excited!

Even Simon got in on the kite flying action. He thinks he is so big!

Sweet, spunky Camryn.

A rather dangerous trio.

And they're off!

And congratulations to Reagan and Ashlee, whose college graduations gave us another reason to party! We are so proud of you guys!

Friday, April 27, 2007

On Staining the Deck

Dave has been hard at work sanding our back deck and prepping it to be stained. When we moved into our house 4 years ago, the deck was painted grey, which we weren't too fond of. So last summer we removed the stain with a power washer, and now we're finally finishing our project. Yesterday Ethan saw a couple of paint brushes and a can of wood stain on the kitchen counter.

Ethan: "Mom, what are you painting now?"

Me: "Dad is going to paint the deck."

Ethan: "What color? Black?"

After all, he probably doesn't think there is any other alternative, since everything we've painted recently has been black. :) Am I the only one who is into black furniture right now?!

But seriously, no, have no fear, our back deck will be a nice shade of natural cedar. Exciting, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is it really warm enough for the sprinkler?

Ethan thinks so. Every day he asks to play in the sprinkler or the pool, both of which I've already pulled out of the shed and utilized this year. And it's only April! Crazy, I know. But it kept my boys occupied for soooooo long, it was marvelous. And as you can imagine, I enjoyed my afternoon of lounging on the back patio immensely. Simon had never seen the sprinkler before, so he was very intrigued.

And yes, I know, it rather embarrassing...Ethan picked out a Dora sprinkler last year. Da, Da, Dora, Da-da, Da, Dora, DORA THE EXPLORER! And if you ask me, I can sing the whole theme song. Last night, while we were driving home from Dave's softball game, Dave and I were joking around about those movies, and we started quoting lines from them. And from the backseat, a small voice piped in, "You tell Dora and Boots, to go through the valley to get to the big yellow station!"

For some reason, it totally cracked us up that our 3 year old was quoting a movie. It wasn't that long ago that he learned to talk!

Doesn't this picture bring you back to the good ol' days?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Visit with my sister

Mom and I met at Ruth's house on Wednesday. If you haven't heard the news already, Nate and Ruth have been reassigned to Alaska at the end of the summer. And so it looks like there will be frequent trips to Ruth's house over the next few months, while she still only lives 2 hours away. We are all a little sad about the prospect of missing out on Austin's first few years, but we are excited about visiting Anchorage sometime soon.

Austin is 5 months now, and so adorable! My boys just love him, and it makes me so excited for when they are all older and will run off in the backyard to have adventures together. But for now, we will keep our careful eyes on the 3 of them. And it is a job, as anyone who has met my offspring knows quite well. :) There is always something going on.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the trip went. After all, I was was me and a prone-to-car-sickness 3 year old... and a 1 year old who still isn't overly fond of being in the car. We had to make a few stops, but no actual puking occurred. I was so thankful for that. I'm sure this is only because I came prepared with a little trashcan (for said puke). Those things only happen when you're totally unprepared, don't they? :)

We found out that my dear friend from high school Beth (Hi, Beth!) and her husband are stationed in Anchorage too, and she called Ruth while I was there. I am so excited for them both, that they will be able to reconnect.

Austin is so much bigger than the last time we saw him, but he still has those tiny little baby legs. So cute. He is very interactive now, laughs and giggles at everyone's antics, likes to be constantly moving. Kinda like his big cousins. Just you wait, Ruth. Just you wait. :)

I was reading through Colossians 1 again today, and decided that this will be my prayer for Nate and Ruth as they head out into the vast unknown (aka, Alaska! It just sounds so far away!). Charlie Fizer calls this prayer, A Day Lived in the Will of God.
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that
Sunrise - you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Sunshine - that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fulling pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Shadows - strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
Sunset - giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." Colossians 1:9-12

When we live a life seeking to follow the will of God, we will encounter all these. Sometimes the day will be sunny, and sometimes all we will see are shadows. But we can be thankful for the way the Lord graciously supplies us with strength to endure the shadows. And we can pray for that for each other too. We're praying that Alaska will be a time of deep spiritual growth for Nate and Ruth, that they will grow closer to the Lord and to each other, and that the Lord will use them and make their work fruitful there.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Frugal Fridays: Look to God for Provision

I've been thinking a lot recently about my reasons for attempting to become more frugal. In all honesty, I feel like such a phony sometimes. We have not experienced true financial hardship that so many people do - we are very aware of that. The Lord has been so generous with us, and we are truly thankful for that. So yes, I could spend more than I do on groceries each week. (And I'm sure I could stand to spend a little less on clothes! :) Is having plenty reason enough to relax about budgeting? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the Lord desires this of me instead- to look to HIM for our provisions, instead of the paycheck.

I so appreciated Maryanne's post about our provisional God. I just happened upon Maryanne's blog a month or so ago, and I have to say, from what I've read so far, I think if we lived in the same town, we'd be friends for sure. She puts into words exactly what I've been pondering in my heart too. And check out the way that, even though she's attempting to need less, the Lord still provides small things...things like a $2 children's table and chairs at a thrift store, because that's the kind of God He is. He delights in knowing and caring for us intimately! Isn't it incredible to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?!

I've been praying in the car before we hit the Goodwill or a garage sale, and I guess Ethan's been picking up on it. I don't really know how it happened, but now we pray together for things that we'd like to find. Ethan was so perplexed the other day when we didn't find what we had prayed for. He kept looking all over the store, asking people if they had seen "a black headboard for Mommy's bed." I thought it was so funny and sweet at the same time. I love his eyes of faith, and I loved getting to talk to him about how we respond when God doesn't give us what we want. We can trust Him - He will always provide for us! We just have to be willing to wait.

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Children of Light

In our women's Bible study at church we've just finished going through the book of Ephesians. I really enjoyed studying this book again. The Word of God is always fresh and new, with encouragement for today! I have always been so impressed by that. No matter where you find yourself, what struggles you might be going through, our God cares about you intimately and speaks through His Word exactly what you need. We summed up the entire book last week, and as I studied the book as a whole, I was struck by these verses.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10

So much of the book of Ephesians has to do with the difference between who we once were without Christ and who we are now in Him. You notice that phrase "in Him" over and over in the book. When we first trusted the Lord Jesus for salvation, He didn't just save us from an eternity in hell; He "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ," (1:3) in order for us to live this life here on earth ABUNDANTLY and in a way that brings Him glory and honor! No matter what comes our way, since our lives are now in Him, we have the resources to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord and to do His will. The first 3 chapters of the book are all about that: the riches that we as believers have in Christ!

In light of all that we have been given, and that we are no longer living in darkness, Paul encourages us in chapters 4-6 to have a "walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." (4:1) And as I type those words, I am so convicted by them! Does my life do justice to the One who gave His very life for me? Am I walking in a way that makes it undeniable that I am a child of light? Am I actively seeking the Lord's approval for the things I include in my daily routine?

Scripture is often so black and white. We were once in darkness, unregenerate souls, condemned because of our own sin. And yet the Lord Jesus raised us up, as a testimony of His grace. And now He wants me to live like it.

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17

I really like the photo that I put at the top of the post. Ethan calls the beams of light, "sun beans," and when they pour in our living room windows in the morning, he tries to jump on them. "I got a sun bean, Mom. Did ya see? Did ya see? I got a sun bean!"

I, too, am a sun lover. :) I can hardly resist the outdoors on sunny spring and summer days. I want to be that way about my spiritual life too though. I want to be pulled towards the things of the Lord, to not be able to resist jumping into the life the Lord has for me. I want to walk worthy of the Lord, to seek out His approval of everything I think, say, and do. As Charlie Fizer said recently, "The secret of the Christian life is knowing the will of God and doing it."

And you know, the darkness may look appealing at times, but that's only because it's dark! Hello! I can't SEE it for what it really is, you know? :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Will this be the end of the thumb?

I found this funny ad from a Popular Science magazine dated May 1938 about thumb sucking. Ethan is my thumb sucker, still going strong at age 3. I have never been overly concerned, because after all, I needed my thumb until kindergarten, I'm pretty sure I recall. We all need a little comfort now and then.

Of course my dentist doesn't agree. :) We had an impromptu meeting with him today, after a small playground accident turned bloody. Too graphic for you? Well then, all I'll say is, one of Ethan's front teeth got pushed back a bit. And of course there was lots of bl**d. Lots and lots. Thankfully we had leather seats for the ride home.

The dentist said that more than likely Ethan's tooth will discolor, which I was sad to hear. But the hardest part about all this is, Ethan is really missing his thumb! No nap for him today because he just couldn't settle down without it, and we kept him up late enough tonight at Dave's softball game that he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. But we have to wonder, will this be the end of Ethan's beloved thumb?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Si Time

My little baby is 13 1/2 months old. It seems like we just brought him home from the hospital, and he's already running around with his big brother and quickly becoming a playmate. The boys adore each other and share lots of hugs and kisses. It makes me smile to see Simon initiating the kisses, because it makes Ethan so happy to be loved by his "bestest friend in the whole wide world."

Simon is starting to become verbal too, which is so fun! We counted his words this morning: Thank you (his first word after Mama and Dada, isn't that fun!?), yes, bye-bye, E (for Ethan), baba (cup of milk), and ball.

Simon is my boy who loves to cuddle. Evenings often find us on the couch, just like this.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Interrupted Plans

This is from Elizabeth Elliott's book A Lamp for My Feet:

We like things to go smoothly and as planned. Very often unexpected things intervene, and our plans go awry. We think we've got "problems." There is another level at which everything that happens is being engineered. "God has no problems," Corrie ten Boom said, "only plans." When ours are interrupted, His are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) "toward the goal of true maturity" (Rom 12:2 JBP). Believe God. Turn the interruptions over to Him. He is at the controls.

I appreciated this devotional from Back to the Bible in my inbox this morning. I so often find myself reacting to circumstances instead of consciously focusing on Who is in control. The Lord graciously keeps working on me, molding me into His image (having toddlers is definitely training ground, isn't it??!!), but it seems like my days start out better when I fix the truth of God's Word in my mind and choose to meditate on it. Most likely my day will be full of unexpected things. My baby probably won't sleep a wink today, and my 3 year old will probably test every limit I've ever set. :) I might not get anything done at all today except for feeding and caring for the kids. But you know, the Lord chooses our days, and if He has that kind of day for me, then I want to choose His way. I want to "put on a good attitude," which is what we always tell Ethan, when his facial expressions betray his heart attitude. :) I can't very well teach him the ways of the Lord if I'm not willing to obey the Lord myself!

But then again, Simon is already down for a morning nap and it's not even 9 am yet! This is a very good sign. :) So I wonder what the Lord has for me now...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Resurrection Fun

Easter Sunday was bright but chilly. The boys picked this day to sleep in (of course!), so Dave shook them awake with promises of Easter baskets. Cheap toys go a long way with 3 year olds apparently.

At the chapel, Scott DeGroff preached a moving message on the Resurrection and what it means. One thing he pointed out was how the fact that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead vindicated Him...He was called a deceiver, and yet He did not defend Himself. He left His reputation up the the Father (an example for us!) and waited on Him to clear His name. I love that about the Lord...and the implications for my own life too.

We had lunch at Grandma's house on the farm, and it was quite a spread. Ham, cheesy potatoes, green beans, rolls, salads, deviled eggs, and plenty of pie. Yummy! As I've said before, these people know how to eat. :)

The much-anticipated egg hunt was next. Ethan has been asking to "play Easter" ever since the stores started putting out the merchandise back in, oh, January or so. Here are some pictures of the chilly fun.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Nothing is Accidental

Maryanne at HappyHelms has started couponing and shopping at CVS and Kroger. I've been impressed with her desire to cut costs and figure out the best ways to save money. In her post she refers to me as a penny-pinching super-star, which I definitely am not....yet. I'm just learning like the rest of you! A year ago I was just doing my thing, shopping at Aldi and the braving the vast headache-inducing superstore Walmart, assuming that I was getting the best deals. I was so skeptical of people who shopped with coupons. Generic or store brand items are usually much cheaper than name brand stuff, and a $.25 off coupon wasn't going to make me buy an item that cost $2.00 more.

Until I started blogging and reading Biblical Womanhood by Crystal. I found out Crystal actually lived in the same town as me (spotted her one day at the store!), and contrary to my rather cautious nature, I emailed her with tons of questions. She had posted several times on supermarket savings, couponing, etc..and I was intrigued. And she offered to meet with me and help me figure all this stuff out. We decided to bring our kids and go to the mall where there was a play area and seating for moms. And for an hour or so, she shared her techniques and strategies, and gave me a huge running start at this adventure.

Ever since that day I have thanked the Lord over and over for introducing me to Crystal. I am convinced that He orchestrated it all, from my husband shoving me into blogging, to a friend of mine showing me Crystal's blog, to Crystal being willing to meet me. I could have been an internet stalker or something. :) But I knew from her blog that she wasn't...this girl sincerely loves the Lord and wants to live her life to please Him. And coincidentally, soon after Crystal introduced me to couponing, she became very sick with her pregnancy and probably would not have had the time or energy to teach a newbie like me before she and her husband moved away to another town. Just another evidence of the sovereignty of God over the small details of our lives.

This has been a favorite quote of mine:
"I praise You for Your sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details. With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted. You hold in Your own power my breath of life and all my destiny. And every trial that You allow to happen is a platform on which You reveal Yourself, showing Your love and power, both to me and to others looking on. Thank You that I can move into the future non-defensively, with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, for You hold the future and You will always be with me, even to my old age...and through all eternity." -Ruth Myers

I love this phrase from Daniel 5:23, "...the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways..."

And I love how, in the midst of this exciting new phase of homemaking I've embarked on, the Lord makes His direction and providence so obvious that, even if I wanted to, I could not deny that He is the Ultimate Provider for our family. I frequently get goose-bumps in the grocery store when I watch His hand work, providing manager's special meat so VASTLY marked down for us. I try to make it a point to pray specifically on my way to the store, asking the Lord for wisdom in what to buy. I'm telling you, this is the way to live! The Lord is so faithful, and He delights in taking care of us. We are so thankful.

Also, so many of you have commented here or emailed me asking to be included on my email list. I really enjoyed being able to share the deals I was finding on a weekly basis, but recently I've been trying to simplify my shopping process and save time where I can. If you've started clipping coupons yet, you know it can take a little time each week, as can going to more than one store. So right now I'm trying to streamline the process and make it a little more effortless. :) That said, the emails aren't happening anymore. So sorry! But I will share my favorite site for CVS info on a weekly basis. It's,f533, a forum where people share the deals they are finding. You can even find info on upcoming weeks, for those of you who like to plan ahead! Check it out! I've found it to be very helpful!

Also, if you're just starting out, here's a detailed explanation of the CVS ExtraBuck program. And Walgreens too. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Work Weekend at the Farm

On Friday night all of Dave's family came into town for a work weekend. The plan was to fence off a pond, but after a huge rainstorm Friday night, we changed our plans. Bright and early Saturday morning, we all convened at Grandma's house for a little "spring cleaning."

On the agenda was:
* Trim trees
* Trim bushes
* Clear walkways
* Build railing for porch
* Clean out shed and replace windows broken in hailstorm last year
* Put up clothesline

It was fun to see everyone again! Thanks for all your hard work!