Saturday, July 28, 2007

Date night starts up again

Last night was date night for our friends Rex and Shawna. They took 3 week old Miles, but the girls came over for an evening of backyard fun. We started out with dinner on the deck.

The kids have never eaten so fast! And then it was off to the water activities. Simon, little piggy that he is, decided to finish off everyone's pasta.

A little more tidy

Remember that overgrown backyard that was difficult to mow? Here's what it looks like now. We had a pile of bricks in the shed left from the previous owners, and it made a nice border for the landscaping. We placed landscaping paper down around the bushes before we laid the mulch. This should keep the bed relatively weed free! And I am all about that.

As for the garden, we considered tearing it out altogether, but opted for keeping it for future bursts of energy that convince us try gardening again. This year it wasn't an option, but I'm sure I'll get the gardening bug again someday!

Pardon the little dumbfounded boy in front of the garden. He would not move for this picture!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weekend Warriors

Dave and I have been cleaning up the yard the past couple weekends. We have a lot of landscaping and many, many trees, all of which were overgrown, making it really difficult to mow. And since that's my job these days, I was particularly interested in trimming things up. Here are before shots of what the backyard looked like (this is the north east edge).

The first picture is of my sadly overgrown garden. That's all weeds, baby.

This is the east side of our backyard. See how the grass goes between and behind all those bushes? It had to go.

The bush on the left blocked our view of our neighbors' backyard, which is probably why the previous owners planted it. But since Ethan plays over there, I prefer to be able to watch his every move. He's only 3, you know!

Man, looking at these pictures, I'm realizing that our yard looked like such a jungle! It's a little embarrassing...

I'll post the after pictures tomorrow, when my husband brings the camera home. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


At church this Sunday, Todd spoke on Galatians, an overview of the whole book as a topical study on legalism. Or, as he put it, the LAW vs. FAITH. It was such an encouraging and thought-provoking message, and I keep finding myself thinking about it. And yesterday, during the kids' nap time, I read through Galatians again, just to really soak up Paul's message to those people..and to me.

You see, for those of us raised in Christian homes, it is all too tempting to add to the message of the gospel, to embrace that, yes, salvation is by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but....look at all the things I'm doing for Him now. You know? And why isn't everyone else serving the Lord the way I am? etc....the sinfulness of my heart is so obvious when I start thinking that way. That's why I appreciated Todd's message so much.

Todd defined legalism as "in some way trying to earn favor or merit with God by keeping the law, characterized by spiritual pride." Whereas, faith is "simply trusting God to fulfill His promise."

Genesis 3 records God's first promise to send the Seed, and it was always His intent to save us through faith in this promise. Even when He gave us the law, it didn't replace the promise.

"What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made...therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." Galatians 3:19, 24, 25

We were never meant to keep the law, before Christ came or even now, after we've been saved through faith. It was just a tool to show us our deep need for a Savior.

What are the red flags of legalism?
  • Comparison of yourself to others
  • Making biblical mandates where there are none
  • Spiritual pride
For example, Todd said that there are 3 schooling options represented in our group: public school, Christian school, and home school. And while the Word of God encourages us to train up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is silent on exactly how we should do that or what methods we should employ. To mandate one type of schooling is to add to the Word of God, living by the law, instead of by faith. And instead of letting others live by faith as well.

Differences in what the law and faith produce
  • Salvation - only obtained by faith
    "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ..." Galatians 2:16 and "For by grace are you saved through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9
  • Sanctification - when someone gets saved, God starts working to change them into the image of His Son
    "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20 and ""O foolish Galatians!...This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" Galatians 3:1-3
  • The law brings a curse; faith brings a blessing.
    "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us...that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:13,14
  • The law brings bondage or slavery; faith brings freedom. Under the law, we are required to continue obeying it, although it doesn't give us the power to do so!
    "But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain." Galatians 4:8-11
  • The law boasts in the flesh; faith boasts in the cross.
    "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14
What characteristics lead to legalism?
  • Fear of man (see chapter 2 - this happened to Peter!)
  • Pride
How do we avoid legalism?
  • Fear the Lord, not man. Know Him and study Him, and in doing so, obtain the right perspective of who we are.
  • Choose to live by faith.
    "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1
  • Have the mind of Christ through studying the Scriptures. Romans 12:2
  • Walk in the Spirit, in submission to the Word of God.
    "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

These are mostly Todd's thoughts, and God's, of course. I love how God's Word is always so applicable to today, so....necessary. I need this message, need to be reminded that the work of my sanctification is God's work, not mine. I can trust Him to do it, regardless of whether or not I work myself to the bone trying to muster it up myself. I love that about the Lord! He is willing to continue working in people who, just like the Galatians, keep turning back to the law. If I can just do one more thing, one more ministry...

Thankfully we have God's Word to remind us to live by faith, to allow God to do His work in us!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Last softball game...

Tonight was Dave's last softball game of the summer. His team the Deputy Dawgz didn't have the best record (5-9), but they have a good time together. His twin brother Doug plays on the team too, so the boys get a chance to hang out with their cousin Jacob every Monday.

The favorite thing to do during the games is dig in the dirt. This is a dream come true for little boys! Simon, of course, was covered from head to toe.

Right now the boys aren't too interested in what's going on in the field, but I know that will change soon. They both cheer when Dave is up to bat, but the call of the dirt and little friends to run around with is much more appealing right now. In a few short years, our lives will be filled with games and practices though, and as much as I'm looking forward to that, I'm just treasuring my dirty little punks. It is just priceless how much joy a pile of dirt can bring to a one year old!

That last shot is right after Simon found a puddle of water on the ground left over from today's rain, bent over, and put his head right in it!

I wish I could have gotten some better shots of the *real* action out on the field, but everything turned out really blurry. We're looking forward to buying a better camera soon.

And even though this was the last summer game, fall softball season starts beginning of August. Wouldn't ya know, they give us a 1 week break. :) How kind of them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


What is up with the chiggers this week?

Are any of the rest of you having trouble? Dave and I worked out in the yard this weekend (pictures to come) doing some landscaping and trimming a bunch of bushes, and wouldn't you know, I have like 5o chigger bites. Dave, of course, has none. Ethan has 1, which he complains about frequently. :) But Simon is in the same shape as me, just completely covered in them. Chigger bites ON TOP of chigger bites. It's true.

And believe me, we are not sleeping well around here. These chiggers must have burrowed deep, because the itch is not going away!

Last night someone told me to cover the bites with clear fingernail polish, a trick from childhood that I'd completely forgotten about. And it helped, a little. And I've been using hydrocortisone cream too. But since it's about all I can think to talk about these days, I'm going to send my questions out into the blogsphere...any other good tips for chigger bites?

We're very, very itchy! Please help.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rollerskating lesson

Isn't this interesting?

This was in my inbox this morning...

Gentle as a Nurse

A good nurse does not pamper her charge, but seeks his best interest with fortitude, consistency, and love. Paul's love for the new Christians at Thessalonica was like that. It was no sentimental feeling. He writes of having brought them the Word:

  • In the power of the Holy Spirit, and with strong conviction. (1 Thes 1:5)
  • Frankly and fearlessly, by the help of our God. A hard struggle it was. (1 Thes 2:2)
  • We do not curry favor with men. Our words have never been flattering words...or a cloak for greed. (1 Thes 2:4,5)
  • We have never sought honor from men, from you or anyone else....We were as gentle with you as a nurse caring fondly for her children. (1 Thes 2:6,7)

Here is the pattern for all who would do God's work with souls: faithful giving of the Word, a heart true and pure in seeking God's glory, gentleness, self-giving, and plain hard work.

This is, of course, by Elizabeth Elliott. :) How timely and appropriate.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More about work...

Things aren't always exactly clear when it comes to my work situation. Dave and I have gone back and forth many times, weighing the pros and cons of me working outside our home. We have, for now, decided that I will pick up occasional shifts and maintain my nursing license. And I have to admit, I enjoy the change of pace that it brings, the chance to stretch my brain in a different way, to care for others who are very, very sick.

But when the days come that I've signed up to work, more often than not, I dread going in. And not just because I miss my boys when I'm there.

Just as an aside, I don't always feel the way I did last night, you know, joyful in my role the Lord has given me and content to stay at home. I feel like I have to admit that, because it's so true! My attitude is definitely not always content, so don't for a minute think that I have it all figured out. Really, because of my own stubbornness, I often resist the Lord's way, assuming I can juggle a million tasks and do it all. But He is so gracious to continue His work in me, and to remind me of the truth. I am so thankful to know with a certainty that He wants me here at home, to be assured that the work I'm doing matters.

But back to what I was saying, the reason I dread going into work is because of the people that I work with. I guess when I worked full time, before we had kids, I had gotten used to the way the world interacts, the crudeness, the selfishness, the bad language. But it's just oppressive now, to be honest. I have gotten waaaaaay to used to my little cocoon that I have created here at home. We say our Bible verses at the breakfast table, and turn on K-LOVE while we clean the house and do the laundry. It's nice. :)

And this certain co-worker, for instance, is particularly difficult to work with. She is loud and crass, and has spent a little too much time drinking her troubles away. Oh, and every time I've worked recently, I've been pod partners with her, by assignment. I have to listen to her saga all day long.

But she's been questioning my faith a lot these days too, asking me tons of questions about what I believe and about our church. And so our close proximity seems to be much more than a coincidence, not that I ever really thought it was anyway.

But the whole thing, the having to work 12 hours side by side with someone who has a blatantly obvious disregard for God, isn't comfortable for me. Like I said, I dread it. I know the Lord cares deeply for this girl, and longs for her salvation. And so I'm praying for perseverance and for compassion to see my co-workers as the Lord sees them.

I meditated on these verses tonight:

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 1 Timothy 1:16

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nurse Rachel to the ICU...STAT!

I worked a shift in the ICU today. I haven't been doing too much of that recently, but I still occasionally grace the unit with my exceptional nursing skills. Smile. I always feel like a duck out of water when I'm there though.

Lots of shocked looks when I walk in the door. And oh, the common question from my co-workers is always, "Where are you working these days?" As if I must have some other full time position to be only be pulling occasional 12's here at the hospital. Surely. :)

My answer is always, "At home, actually."

You see, I have these 2 boys, and they need their mommy...(trailing off)

Yeah, well, they don't get it, do they?

"Oh, you must have a rich husband..." they say, or "I could NEVER stay at home with my kids!" (I love that one, because I never thought I could either! :)

And truth be known, raising 2 boys as a full-time mommy is more exhausting to me than a busy day in an intensive care unit, with all the beeps and monitors, physicians yelling orders, and families breathing down your neck. It's a lot of pressure, don't get me wrong. But it's a piece of cake compared to a life around here. :)

And I say that with a smile. Because I LOVE my boys and this job the Lord has given me to do. I was overwhelmed today with thankfulness for the life that I have, for the blessing of being able to train tiny hearts and watch them grow. Instead of spending my days working full-time, only to see my boys occasionally. This is a wonderful life! So what if we cannot buy everything our hearts ever desired? The contentment we can find in the Lord, in doing His work, far surpasses the joy of *things,* doesn't it?

These verses have been running through my mind:

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

"The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing." Psalm 34:10

"Behold, this is the joy of His way..." Job 8:19

Serving the Lord as a mother is a wonderful life, a life filled with joy. Thank the Lord with me today!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Was it the fireworks?

We enjoyed our 4th like all good Americans, stuffing our faces and emptying our wallets. Dave always gives me some huge number when I ask him how much he spent at the fireworks stand, probably just to make me thankful when I hear how much he actually did spend. It's never much, but I always sigh and roll my eyes anyway. I'm guess I'm not very patriotic, but it's hard for me to justify the Blowing Up of Money. Because that is exactly what it is. And don't you pretend it's not. :)

Of course, we will gladly watch the rest of you blow up money. Bring it on!

Our boys weren't terribly impressed either, but I'm sure that will come with age. Right now, good friends, good food, and a trampoline win out over loud explosions.

The Youngs graciously hosted the big July 4th BBQ, and we really enjoyed the night. Lots of yummy food and good fellowship. And a few sparkler bombs later, the Youngs now need to re-seed their lawn. Ah, the joys of hospitality. :)

Here's a few pictures that I managed to capture before my camera battery went dead.

Mr. Victor and Simon

Reaching into the bag of fireworks

Look, it's a helicopter!

Coincidence or not, the next evening, I started getting a killer headache that landed me in the doctor's office for Morphine injections. I've never been so bad off before, and it felt so discouraging and helpless to be confined to a bed for multiple days with a migraine. I have friends who deal with this kind of thing on a regular basis, and it was a small glimpse into that kind of life. Lots of pain, multiple reasons to be discouraged. But instead, hopefully, you look at your situation and make a choice to believe that it is the Lord's will for you. That He is working in and through you, even at your lowest point. So tough.

I've been praying that this would be my attitude if these kind of headaches continue. But I've also been praying that it was just a fluke.

Maybe those fireworks....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Announcing Miles Alexander!

For those of you who haven't heard yet, Shawna had her baby today! Miles Alexander was born at 2:04 pm, a 6 lb 15 oz cutie! I got to be one of the first to welcome him into the world, because I brought the girls to meet their new baby brother. All I have to say is, this little boy is going to be well-loved. :)

Isn't he precious?

I loved his little double chin.

I had a little fun with iPhoto and came up with this sweet portrait.

Shawna and baby are doing well, praise the Lord!

Water war

So we have MeriKate, Brooklyn and Camryn today...any guesses why???

My ever youthful husband decided to start a water war with the kids, and it was so funny, I just had to capture a few pictures.

Note my son torturing Cam in the pool.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but Dave's smile is a mile wide. He is such a kid!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My latest project

I've been inspired the last couple of weeks to pull out my sewing machine again. We've either been sick or it's been raining, so most evenings after we've gotten the kids into bed, I've had some free time on my hands. And to tell you the truth, I think that sewing is one of my favorite hobbies. When I create something that adds beauty to our home, I get the best feeling. I told Dave the other night that it's probably similar to hitting a home run in softball, but he just looked at me like I was totally insane.

"As long as it makes you happy," he replied, barely looking up from his major league baseball game on tv. We are sooooooo different, he and I. And I'm pretty sure I will always be somewhat of a mystery to him. :)

Almost a month ago now, I spotted a white wicker chair at a garage sale in our neighborhood. The lady was asking $15 for it, and I offered her $11. She took it, and I was thrilled! It's in great shape, and I was wanting more seating in the living room. And I knew just what color to paint it. Is there any other color?, you ask...of course not!

Black, it is.

It came with a cushion that was in great shape, but with a slightly early 90's look. I gave it a cleaning in the washing machine, and then my mom covered it in this heavy, textured fabric I found. Didn't she do an awesome job?!

I made a lumbar pillow to go on it. So, help me out...which side do you prefer? The silk or the floral? I can't decide.

I also made some throw pillows for the couches to match. The front pillow pictured is from Hobby Lobby, but you can see the silk one behind it.

And a floral one.

It was my first time to use tassles, but after a tutorial from my ever-so-talented sister Ruth, I think I got it!

This is currently where all the creating takes place, my dining room table.

But my next project--after I finish 2 more silk pillows for the couch--will be painting a desk that I found at the Goodwill so that I have an actual place to sew.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My husband is the sweetest man in all the earth...

...and I know this is true, because my children like him better than they like me. Their very own mother. It's true! They do! When we visited my mom last week, Simon went on Daddy strike, which meant that he cried a lot and had a hard time sleeping. And as soon as he saw his daddy again, he was so happy! Lots of cuddling and snoozing in Daddy's arms. I caught this picture the night we returned home.

He is also the sweetest man in the whole world because he is willing to leave his nice, quiet office and work from home when I have a head cold and a screaming headache. It doesn't happen very often, but on days like today, he can read the desperation in my tone when I call him, and he drops everything to be Mr. Mom to these two rambunctious boys we have. It is 7:11 pm, and they have both eaten dinner, taken bathes, brushed their teeth, read Bible stories, and been tucked sweetly into bed. I am so thankful for him!

Cousin time