Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: One Hand, Two Hands

"One hand, two hands, five fingers, ten.  
Nails, knuckles two thumbs, and some skin..."

Thus begins this adorable new book, "One Hand, Two Hands" by Max Lucado (illustrated by Gaby Hansen).  I was excited to get this book in the mail.  Eden brought it in at the perfect time--I was just getting Malachi (3 years old) settled into my bed for an afternoon nap.  So we opened the book and read it together.  Before I started reading I asked Malachi how many hands he has.  He instinctively held up his hands in the air in front of his face and counted.  :)  It was a great way to start the book.  With each page he was delighted to tell me all about his hands.  When the book was finished, he asked to look through it again.  He really enjoyed the pictures and could already recall parts of the story that were not pictured (for example, one line says "holding a cup" and the picture shows a girl at a sink combing her Malachi said on that page, "And I can get a cup and get a drink of water."  So he obviously listened and retained some of the story on the first time through.) 

The book itself comes in a nice slipcover.  It would make an excellent gift for a special little person in your life, and the first page in the book has a box to mark "to, from, and date".  I have enjoyed sharing this with all of the young people at my house. says the book is for ages 4-8, however I have found that the 1-3 year-olds in my house can also relate to the story (and especially in Malachi's case, understand and recall it).  The older children willingly read this to the younger children.  They all love it, and that is definitely a good sign!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why We go to Church

I have been experiencing a little bit of writer's block the past few days.  What that means is I really need to get my camera out and take some good pictures!!  :)  But the topic of why we go to church on Sunday mornings is something that I have been thinking of writing about for a while now.  It turns out that last night Pastor Matthew did it for me--bonus!  :)  You can read the full post here.  Here are some highlights:

As it is Saturday night, and I am a preacher and under-shepherd of Christ, Sunday morning is on my mind. While it was under my consideration, I happened to be reading Modern Reformation magazine in my favorite living room chair, and turned to an article entitled “Worship Wars: Toward A Biblical Resolution.”  In it, Dr. Donald P. Richmond unpacks eight priorities in worship.

It was the third one that struck like a thunderbolt:
The priority of the priority must also be considered.
Why do we come to church? Why are we gathered? An examination of many contemporary churches today suggest that our priority in worship is to feel good. More often than we would like to admit, we go to church in order to get our “boost” for the week. 
A similar focus can be seen at the traditional Wednesday night prayer meeting. We want to be recharged so we can more effectively face the week ahead of us. Unfortunately, feeling good and being recharged are at best secondary considerations.
We gather together in order to worship God.
We do not come to a service of worship merely for fellowship. We do not come to the worship service to evangelize. We do not come to feel good. We come to worship. Period.
….The priority is the priority of God himself.
Beloved, don’t argue with his list of “nots” there. Of course those things can, and often do, happen on a Sunday morning gathering. Don’t let it get in the way of Dr. Richmond’s absolutely wonderful and stunning and joy-creating reminder:
The reason we gather together as God’s blood-bought children is to worship God! To praise him! To express our delight and trust in him! To cast our every care upon and be reminded of him!

O, may we come with hearts prepared in the morning reminded of our singular focus: to worship the Almighty!
150:1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
I can't wait for church today!  Today's sermon is going to be "The Law of the Harvest" from Galatians 6:6-10.  You can watch past sermons here on vimeo

On a different note, today marks exactly one month since Patrick went home to Germany.  I must be completely honest--I miss him greatly and I still get teary-eyed when I think about him.  But we email often enough, and he is doing fantastic at home.  He is hanging out with friends, trying out something new called slacklining, and is back to school already.  He writes that his class schedule is pretty great--Mondays are short for him and his first class doesn't start until 11:30 a.m.  There's nothing to complain about getting a late start on Monday!!  :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Almost 5 years old!

We celebrated Josh's 5th birthday a few days early last night at Paul and Marilyn's house.  I took tons of pictures.  Click to see a larger version of each.

{Tirzah, Beau, and Papa}

{Micah and Josh on the new trampoline--the old one got broken in the big storm when a tree fell on it.}

{Josh was pretty good at doing a flip.}

{Malachi is loving it.}

 {They got the bright idea to have Malachi try to jump over Zeke.  Repeatedly.}
{He didn't quite make it.}

Then Paul got out the marshmallow guns.  Beau went crazy trying to catch and eat all the mini marshmallows!

{Mitch rather unfairly "shooting fish in a barrel"--Holly, Josh, and Kathi were in the trampoline}

{Micah is shot!}

{Kyle, Audrey, and Hailey}

{Tirzah raced Beau to get a few of the marshmallows...ewwwww}

{Mitch enjoys the trampoline as much as the kids!}

Finally time for cake and ice cream!

{Mitch, Steph, and Josh}

In Search Of

I would love to find one of these pans again.  I'd love to have a second one.  I have looked on ebay.  I've looked on amazon.  I've looked on google shopping.  I've looked at Walmart, Target, and even the outlet malls.  I doubt I'll ever be able to find one brand new in a store, as they don't appear to be made any more.  Do you have one sitting around that you don't use anymore?

Yes, it is dirty.  I had just finished making chocolate cupcakes for Josh's birthday party and didn't bother to scrape off the bits of batter yet.  :)

It is a Wear-ever Airbake Muffin Pan.  (Wear-ever = T-Fal??)

The most important features are the top is smooth, and the pan is "insulated".  Oh, and it's 100% aluminum.  There's NO yucky non-stick coating to eventually crack and peel.  I love it this way and I'm perfectly happy with using cooking spray rather than non-stick pans!

This is a little better view of the bottom.  Each muffin cup has a hole to allow air or trapped water (from washing) to escape.  I have several airbake pans.  I have a 9x13 cake pan, a jelly roll pan, 3 cookie sheets, and a pizza pan (would also like about 3 more of these pizza pans). When I bake in these pans, I NEVER burn my food.  Even when I forget.  They're amazing!  Only thing is, it's awfully inconvenient to only bake 12 cupcakes/muffins at a time.  :(  24 would be really nice.  So if you have one of these awesome muffin pans, or if you know someone else who does, and you/they really don't like it, I'd be happy to trade.  :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cute Kids

Malachi came upstairs wearing this garb today and didn't want me to take his picture, but I did anyway.  I think one of the older daycare kids did it to him.

I finally had the opportunity to get Caleb's hair cut.  We tried to achieve a look somewhat similar to Patrick's.  It is SUPER cute!

Tirzah found a pear that rolled to the floor and is enjoying it.  She has a mosquito bite under her eye.

Monday, August 23, 2010


We released 2 butterflies yesterday after church.  I felt so bad that they came out while we were at church...they were so hungry they didn't even pause to say 'goodbye' before flying off.  :)  This morning we watched as 4 more emerged from their chrysalides (but it was the middle of breakfast chaos, so no time to take pictures...bummer).

Sometimes a caterpillar doesn't make it.  We only lost a couple this year.  But a tachinid fly (or sometimes a wasp) lays eggs on the caterpillar.  Just when the caterpillar hangs into its 'J' shape, ready to transform into the chrysalis, the larvae of the fly crawls out and the caterpillar dies.  It's very sad.  We try to wrestle with the fact that it's "just" a caterpillar, or that this is a fact of life, but is it really?  Paul writes in Romans,
[20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
(Romans 8:20-22 ESV

So just as the beautiful transformation of these butterflies reflects our transformation into children of God, it also reflects the damage caused by sin.  Paul goes on to say,

[23] And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [24] For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
(Romans 8:23-25 ESV)

It was so fun to watch those chrysalides...they didn't go anywhere, didn't move, didn't show any signs of life.  But we watched and waited patiently.  Then just a few hours ago they began to show signs of the color was almost time.  This morning when we awoke, they were black, with tiny bits of orange becoming visible.  Unlike watching the caterpillar transform into the chrysalis, where there are some signs that it's finally about to happen (contractions strengthening, etc), there were no signs that the caterpillar was about to emerge.  Caleb watched faithfully (unfortunately, he did not attend to his morning chores quite so faithfully), and let out a sudden, "Oh Mom, it's cracking open now!"  Amazing to watch that butterfly struggle to move from the confines of its transparent little shell.  I wish I could catch it on video sometime!

My life is so much like this.  Some times it feels like God is working hard on me, but there are no outward changes.  I begin to doubt that He is dong anything at all!  But the butterfly is a great reminder to wait patiently.  I know I have posted this before (maybe with music behind it), but it's worth posting a hundred times...I would love to memorize this just like John Piper.  :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010


{Josh, Zeke, and Tirzah all piled on Kathi}

{Mitch playing with his special tools he brought home from Ukraine a couple years ago--a gift from the pastor's wife.}

{A rare opportunity to get a good picture of Micah}

{Tirzah loves her some puppies!!!}

{Tirzah is licking up the rainwater...gross!}

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Gospel Song - An Animation

We have really been enjoying these animations. I just posted "Something to Say" on the Encouragement post a couple days ago. And we always love to watch "The Prodigal", Josh always asks for the song that goes "You held out your arms, I walked away" and he sings it for me. There is another one called "Praise You in this Storm" but I haven't put that one on my blog, yet. I was thrilled to see a new one today and wanted to share it right away:

The lyrics to this one are simple:

Holy God, in love, became
Perfect man to bear my blame
On the cross he took my sin
By his death I live again

© 2002 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).
Download it here.

Exchange Student Blogs

I always love to read blogs from the students' points of view. I have a couple to share with you:

Kathi's Music (our Kathi's blog, I love the "music" theme she has going on, it makes reading very fun!)

Goodbye Deutschland (Eva Maria's's in German, but google translate might help some, I think it's a lot of fun to try!)

Patrick's Blog (in case you somehow missed it...but he hasn't updated in a long time...still, it's neat to get his perspective for the time he was here)

I'd love to add more students...if you have one for me to add, let me know!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

It is hard to believe that God could use this:

And this:

To produce this:

Today's harvest.  Amazing!!  The little garden has produced more than I ever dared to dream.  I think I counted a total of 23 ears of corn...just one shy of the "2 dozen" I boasted of.  But who's counting?  We have harvested tons of cucumbers.  The tomatoes promise to be bountiful if the weather holds long enough to ripen them.  We WILL have some hot peppers, but I will not hold my breath for bell peppers.  The good news is the grocery store has plenty, and on sale too.  ;)

Now if I only had the guts to try my hand at some refrigerator pickles.  I think I am going to have to develop a plan for those tomatoes.  And my friends Shannon and Scott dropped off a grocery bag full of pears.  I'll say it again:  Amazing!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tirzah almost 16 months

Oh! How fast you are growing!  Tirzah, at almost 16 months, you:

~weigh 20 lbs 5 oz (10th percentile)
~are 30.75" tall (50th percentile)
~are still long and skinny
~say dada, mama, papa, and mimic a few other sounds at random times, but score pretty low for vocabulary
~are very mobile--walking, running, and climbing on everything
~have 12 teeth, including your 1-year-old molars
~know where things belong
~know where mommy hides things you shouldn't have
~think the garbage can is some magic box that makes things disappear, and you try it out frequently.  On things that shouldn't be thrown away.
~love to unload mommy's purse
~look more like a little girl than like a baby, more and more everyday

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A friend of mine said recently (I only wish I could remember which friend), "My life is so daily."  In the moment.  Consuming.  Yes, I understand!  Moms of many small children (and I have a few extras during the day) can usually relate to the all-consuming task of rearing children.  Sometimes it is impossible to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been reading "Age of Opportunity" by Paul David Tripp.  It is a great follow-up to "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp and I highly recommend both.  I took the early shift this morning so that Mitch could sleep in (he was at the airport and didn't get home until 2:30 a.m.), so it was the perfect opportunity to get some uninterrupted reading done.  As I read, I kept thinking, "Oh, I should share this on my blog."  And "Oh, I should share this with so-and-so."  Then at the end of the day I watched a video on youtube for the first time and it all just came together for me.  I love how God uses things throughout the day to bring strength and encouragement!

First off, 2 Peter 1:3-9

[3] His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, [4] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. [5] For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, [6] and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, [7] and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. [8] For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Paul Tripp paraphrases Peter by saying,
"Don't forget who you are.  You are the children of God who have inherited riches beyond your ability to conceive.  You have been given everything you need to do what God has called you to do.  Don't give in to discouragement.  Don't quit.  Don't run away from your calling.  Don't settle for a little bit of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, brotherly kindness, and love.  Get everything that is your inheritance as God's children."  
He goes on to say "These are truths that can lift us out of our weariness and discouragement to parent our teenagers with faith, courage, and hope.  They call us to hold onto God's high goals and to fight the hopelessness that the enemy wants to rule our hearts."  

Yes, even though this seems to be an all-consuming (and never ending?) stage of life for me, God has equipped me to fulfill this calling!  But not only in parenting--in whatever stage of life YOU are in also.

Next, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

[16] So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. [17] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
The light at the end of the tunnel!  The connection here is a focus on the spiritual world vs. a focus on the physical world.  Paul Tripp says that teenagers (and people) focused on the physical world live with a "peace-time mentality."  "They focus on wants and desires.  However, in times of war, people live with another focus...Scripture says that life is war!"

Paul Tripp advises his children (and now I've marked it so I can advise mine as well):
"There is a war out there.  It is being fought on the turf of your heart.  It is fought for the control of your soul.  Each situation you face today is a skirmish in the war.  Be careful, be aware of the battle.  Don't forget that there is a scheming enemy out there who is out to deceive, divvide, and destroy.  Go out knowing that to win you must fight.  You must not relax, you must not forget."  He finishes by saying, "We cannot say this enough to our teenagers (or ourselves)."

Yes, the war is not over for us, either, and it is important to always be aware of it and actively fighting.

Which brings me to my last passage, long but good, Ephesians 6:10-18

[10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, [18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
But still after a great start to my day it still felt as if I carried a lot of baggage throughout my day.  And indeed I am still carrying some, but God is seeking constantly to remind me of His presence. 

Keep fighting!  Stand firm!  He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  (Philippians 1:6-11)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Promised Pictures

Here are some pictures to complete the story!  Click to see larger versions.

{Receiving instructions}

{Eden, Caleb, and Kathi stringing up their bows.}

{Mitch helping Zeke}

{Zeke & Mitch got a bullseye!}

{Josh, Chi, and Tirzah on the little merry-go-round}

{One large pine tree down in the park.  There were SO many trees down as we drove out to this park.  It was crazy to see.  I didn't take pictures because it was too hard to get a good view--but there were hundreds of trees down.  Many had fallen into the road, and were cleared but still lying in the ditch next to the road.  It was surreal.}

{Tirzah sitting on the downed tree.}

{This is always one of Micah's favorite exhibits to see, and we can frequently see it at the fair--a tank full of different types of fish.}

{Eden with a fox skin}

{Tirzah fell in love with the Voyageurs' sheep-skin chair!}

{Opening the gifts that Kathi brought from Germany.  Thank you, Kathi!!  They were so thoughtful!}