Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Blog is Here!

I'm excited to tell you about this new blog I'll be contributing to! My blogging can now be found at Changing the minivan at a time

In recent months, my heart has been pulled in new directions, and it just feels right to start a blog that tells that story more clearly and openly. Though I didn't seclude myself in real life, I have been a little detached in my blogging life. I had been feeling for a while that I should start a new blog. But in the meantime of figuring out what that would look like, I was delighted to discover that a friend of mine was in the same place, wrestling with many of the same things I was and stepping out into similar new ways of living. What a joy it's been to see God link our hearts' passions in this way, and I know it will be a really neat experience to blog alongside her.

So, instead of filling you in with the details right now, I'll just invite you over to my new blogging home! I don't plan to continue Anywhere Life Takes Me. I'll probably leave it up for a little while but will eventually close it, so please go ahead and change your links and such to reflect this new change. If you come here to keep up with our family on a more personal level, seeing the kids' pictures, etc., then know that I'll be trying to do a better job of updating my facebook with those kinds of things.

Now, quick! Go visit me at our new blog, and leave a comment! =)

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Still Here!!! (but not for long)

I don't know if you were wondering or not, but I'm going to tell you anyway: I'm alive. Just not blogging. But I will be blogging again soon. From a NEW blog. One I'm so seriously excited about. Really excited. We'll be up and running soon, so stay tuned!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Recent Pumpkin Patch Pics

We recently enjoyed a morning at a local family farm/pumpkin patch with our playgroup friends. This place is a favorite of ours! It's cute and free. We love that.

Jonah with his buddy Brantley: (Both boys' parents would like for you to ignore the fact that they're in an Aggies barrel. No, we do not approve.)

Sweet niece Maggie and nephew Brady: (Poor Brady...I guess he'll be having to ride in princess and Barbie barrels for a while!)
Me and my Parker Jane on the hayride out to the pumpkin patch:

She pretty much had a hateful attitude towards the pumpkins, so I did not get smiling pictures of her, but sweet ones nonetheless:

She did, however, have a fondness for kicking the pumpkins like a soccer ball:

Jonah had fun though:

Being silly with his friend Solomon:

And it's interesting how Parker looks like she's happy in this next one when I distinctly remember her screaming like crazy during this picture with Jonah and Maggie:

Of course, when Parker decides to smile, Jonah is looking elsewhere:

And by the second take, she was DONE:
Oh well. Maybe next year.

I did have a sweet surprise when my friend Sarah emailed me this picture she took of Parker:

I guess if you want to give this little girlie directions for her to actually follow, you'd better not be her mother. She ignored me that whole morning! Especially when I had a camera out! But I forgive her. She's pretty yummy. And when she is in the mood to give love, it sure is sweet. But the fact that Jonah was old enough to run around with his friends the whole time (and not sit by me on the hayride and not really need me for anything) sure did make this mama a little sad for how fast time is going. I'm so proud of how he is growing up, but, oh, it makes my heart ache too.

Feeling blessed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A List

I don't know where to start. So I'll go with a list. Here are some things going on in our life right now:

1. Parker Jane is a MESS. And I take full responsibility. This is how I just found her after leaving her unoccupied for about a minute and a half:

Yep, she unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper. And I probably missed the opportunity to discipline and teach on this one the second I chose to grab the camera. She's mischievous!

2. We've been busy with lots of church stuff. This is pretty much Joel's busy season for work. He's had a lot of weekend events going on the last few weeks, and he will have an event to lead every weekend for the next five. This week, our first meeting with our "new" community group was held. Our old one has divided into two groups to make room for lots of people who aren't in one. Though transitions like these can be a little tough in some ways, we are so excited about leading this group and seeing what God has in store for all of us! We had such a fun time meeting with these families this week! And I've also begun a mom's prayer/Scripture discussion on parenting little ones according to biblical principles. It's mainly for providing relational support to each other on this journey of motherhood. We will meet four times over the next 8 weeks, and today was our first meeting. I can tell spending time with these ladies will be such a refreshing time! As you can life right now is busy, busy. (Good thing we like it!)

3. Joel's birthday was last month, and I just feel a need to show off the birthday cake I made for him. The pictures are less than acceptable. But it's all I've got. I stole this idea from a very fun blog called Whatever. Talk about blog eye candy! That woman is so inspirational for creating beauty in life. She makes me want to learn to sew. Or maybe just color with crayons in one of Jonah's coloring books. She makes you want to do something with color and prettiness. Her pictures are much better. But here's the fun cake:

4. I've started BSF this year, and it's been a good experience. The best part to me: Jonah LOVES it. This is pretty much his preschool this year, and I've been so amazed by his enthusiasm to be there. He did not want to go there the first day, but since then, he's counting down the days til the next time we go to BSF. He's really learning a lot, and I'm starting to see some sweet glimpses of God working in Jonah's heart and showing Himself to him. (Thank you, Lord!) It's been an added support for us this year in training our children. Just praying to not rely on it too heavily but to keep it complementary to what we're doing at home. He's been a sweetie lately.

5. And then this little girl has been changing a ton lately. She's still not really talking much yet. She only has a few words. But she does jibber-jabber a LOT. It's really cute! And my favorite thing about where she is right now is that she loves her baby dolls. Especially this one. She's always carrying it under her arm whatever she's doing, trying to change its diaper and wipe its nose. I'm LOVING it!!! We usually have a baby doll with us wherever we go.

So that's the recap of life these days. I had a couple of other things I left off because now I think they could each be a separate post. Maybe I'll write them before next year.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nearing the End of Summer

I can't believe it's almost fall! I think this is the first year I've been ready for it by August! (I can't remember...maybe I said that last year?) Trying to swim with a crazy 15-month old who just wants to go in and out of the pool, NOT be in a float, and just run around the edge of the pool has made the pool lose some of its luster for me in recent weeks. I don't have the energy for that anymore. So we're pretty much done with that. DONE. I'm posting a couple pictures from our Sea World adventure last weekend which, according to Jonah, was not as exciting as riding in the golf cart at Uncle Jim's ranch, where we stayed those few days we were in South Texas. Sea World was definitely fun, but maybe we should stick to the simpler things since our kids still find joy in those? I think for us, I'm just not sure it was necessary right now. But what a relaxing longer-weekend away it was! The refreshment came just at the right time. Mama was needing some.

And then here are a couple of pictures of Jonah at his buddy Brantley's birthday party this morning, which was SO cute. I'm sure Kate will post pictures of it soon, so I'll hold off on showing the cute cake pics I took.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Where I've Been

I haven't ignored my blog so much since...well...I guess since I was last pregnant. No worries though! That's definitely not the reason this time. =) We've just been enjoying these summer days. I'm one of those people who LOVES the Texas sun, so these hot days are just fine with me. As long as they also involve water. Except for the last two weeks, we've been going to the pool a LOT, and the rest of our time we've just been spending with family and friends and taking some small trips. We like going places, but we'd rather save the big vacations for when the kids are older and traveling with them doesn't make me want to pull my hair out. So far, this summer has included 2-week long swim lessons for Jonah and his first VBS at a local church one week in June, a two-day trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine with my family, two outings to Splash Kingdom, a nearby waterpark, and a trip to Oklahoma to visit family around July 4th weekend with Jonah staying by himself there for a few extra fun-filled days. Then last week, the kids and I traveled to Houston with my aunt and uncle to spend several days with my cousin Lacey. It's been a really fun summer! We still have plans to make a quick Sea World trip later this month. I wanted to do a catch-up post with pictures from various summer events in our family's life, but I've realized that I haven't had my camera with me all that much. Sad. But here are a few...

Parker Jane with Nanny and Ciera in Bartlesville:

"Helping" Aunt Jen spread cream cheese on the ham:With cousins Samantha, McKenna, and Ciera on the 4th:

With fun Uncle Eric:And then at Lacey's, building a fort with sofa cushions, which is Jonah's new favorite pasttime:
Me and my babies at the Houston Zoo, "the better zoo EVER", as Jonah called it:

And this handsome man by his favorite animal (yes, he's still obsessed with animals. And zebras. And Africa. And all the animals in Africa.):And lastly, here is one of me with a couple of my girlfriends from high school, Amber and Erin, at our high school reunion last month. What a fun weekend that was!

Besides all that, I've been staying busy with some good books. I tend to not read very much for a while and then suddenly get in a reading mode, where I zone out to everything else and become a hermit. Yep, that's what I've been doing lately. I must find time to write some book reviews on here. I've enjoyed some good ones, and I am excited to share.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

School Plans

Since Jonah is four now, there's been a lot of thinking about future school plans, so I thought I'd write a bit about our tentative plan for his education. It's on my mind a lot anyway. For now, we're planning to start out homeschooling Jonah, though we don't have any idea how long we'll continue that. It just makes sense for us to do it for at least kindergarten. Maybe longer, but we're just taking it a year at a time. Our desire is for him to be in a school at some point during his elementary years anyway, but we're really not in a place right now for that to happen. All doors to that are closed at this point. And homeschooling seems to be the best fit for a while. I honestly don't think it will be for very long, but I also want to stay completely open to whatever the Lord has for us. I'm learning not to voice strong confidence in what I know God's will to be for our future! The past has shown that He often surprises us with new plans that differ from our own, so I want to be expectant and aware of how He might work in our lives. But for now, it looks like this is best for our family. For a number of reasons.

One of my main motivations for wanting to homeschool Jonah right now is the desire for my kids to have a classical Christian education, and providing that in a school setting is currently not an option - although it may be at some point. The concept of classical education is something I was confronted with in a college class and then had validated to me through the lives of some families I met (like this one). I'm totally sold on its effectiveness. The more I learn and read about it and observe in other families, the more it makes sense to me and the greater my desire for my kids (and me!) to learn this way. The whole idea is that the best education is one that teaches us how to think, rather than just teach us information, and classical education employs the time-tested learning system of the trivium, which you can read more about through the following links:

About Classical Education

Classical Christian Homeschooling

Classical Education of the Founding Fathers

The Lost Tools of Learning

Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten (I love this! Not that I plan on doing every single thing they say...)

Definition for Classical Education

I'm excited about this! I struggle a little with starting out not knowing how Jonah's education will be completed, being unsure of where he will eventually go to school. But it's just an area I'll have to trust in God's direction for the present and His capability to finish what he starts. It doesn't look like he will go to a classical school later because there's just not one that's affordable and what we want. But attending the Christian school that our church is associated with is a probable scenario at some point. It's not classical, but the elementary principal has a background in it and definitely pushes their curriculum and structure more towards classical. That's ok with me because I don't think I need to trust in a school and in teachers to provide my children with everything they need educationally; I believe I should still take responsibility as a parent for my child's education regardless of whether they are at home or in a school. The trick would be for me to know how to continue the elements of classical that I feel so strongly about, in our home, while my child goes on to a nonclassical school. How will that work? I'm not entirely sure. But I'm intrigued by the challenge. Another school option would be a university-model school here that we're interested in that would provide a classroom-learning atmosphere as well as more time for teaching my child the things I feel convicted about teaching him. Non-elective courses don't really start there until third grade though. Maybe we'll homeschool for a while, then go there for a while, and then go to the full-time school. We don't know. But these are some of the things that have been occupying my brain lately. I'm trying to learn to live more in the present and not "have my life all figured out" and trust the Lord to lead day-by-day. That couldn't be a bad place to be.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What to Make When Company's Coming, Part 2

Thought I'd share one more recipe that's so fun for when you have people over. It's a unique meal that's so yummy, and, again, this one is great for assigning parts for guests to bring. You can serve it anytime, but I tend to see it as more of a fall/winter-ish meal.

Javanese Dinner for Eight:

*1 chicken, deboned (or you can bake boneless breasts)
* 2 cans cream of chicken soup
*2-3 cups chicken broth
*curry, to taste (at least 1 1/2 teaspoons)

Cook chicken over range top. Add to the chicken 2 cans of chicken soup, chicken broth, and season with curry. Serve with rice and offer the remaining ingredients for guests to mix in to their chicken & rice (This is where you can ask guests to bring one or more of these.):

* 1 bunch green onions, sliced
* 1 cup shredded coconut
* 1/2 cup sliced almonds
* 1 large can chow mein noodles
* 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 large can crushed pineapple
*2 large stalks celery, chopped

And it's best when you put ALL of the toppings in it, so make sure your guests feel like wimps if they don't. =) But it's great...the wimps/picky eaters have plenty of options and control with this meal. It takes the pressure off the cook - it's the guests' own fault if they mix in the wrong combination of toppings. Wahahaaaa.

One other thought I have about fixing meals for company is that I frequently go Sandra Lee-style and add a store-bought item or two (dessert or sides) to go along with what I make homemade. I do love cooking for people when they're in my home and it's fun to show love by putting effort into it, but in this season of my life with two little children dirtying the house faster than I can clean it up, getting ready for company means I have to make choices to simplify in order to get it all done in time. Making simplifying choices lessens the stress for me, which in turn plays a big part in the environment I'm helping to create when guests are in our home. So that's important. And I like to think it's less intimidating to some guests you have over. There are also times when it just makes sense to pick up a Papa Murphey's take-and-bake pizza and invite someone over to share. You really don't HAVE to cook to show hospitality! Being sensitive to when there's a need you can meet relationally and listening to the nudges from the Holy Spirit about having someone over is much more important than having culinary skills and a filled pantry. Don't miss an opportunity just because you haven't had time to go to the store, plan a full meal, etc. If you really believe those things aren't what matter most, then don't be afraid to live like it.

Feel free, once more, to share your best recipe for entertaining so all of us can benefit, and I'd love to know any more tips you have or lessons you've learned on practicing hospitality in your home.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I have a lot on my mind and weighing on my heart this week in regards to doing ministry. I'm not talking about the kind of ministry that comes with an official title or position. Or that comes through being married to someone who has the title. I'm talking about plain ol' church ministry that we're all called to be a part of. Discipleship. The building up of other Christians. The whole thing of being the Body of Christ. It's a wonderful, beautiful thing, and I love that we each get a part to play and have all been specially gifted for edifying each other and helping each other towards growth. What a special thing. I happen to love it. But I must say, there are times it gets really hard. It's a hard role to play in people's lives. You are putting yourself out there to be an example, and that requires a whole lot - constant confession and repentance when sin comes up in your life, a teachable attitude yourself, accountability, a true spirit of authenticity, and a servant's heart that puts you in a place of seeking how to help others in the first place. That doesn't come easily and naturally; we have to let Jesus give us that kind of heart. It certainly isn't what mine is like on its own. But another part of discipleship that is challenging is the willingness you have to have to speak truth in all situations. To share God's words on a situation. To proclaim His way as better than our own. Which isn't too terribly difficult for some of us....until it is resisted. When people don't want to change and really don't want their thinking challenged, it gets incredibly hard to be obedient in sharing truth. The apostle Paul's words to the Galatians (in Gal. 4:16) resonate with me just a little right now, "Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?"

It's so sad to see it happen. To see people get uncomfortable with the truth and decide to move on from it, slipping further away instead of climbing closer to where God wants us. Anyone who's ever been involved in ministry to people within the church knows that lukewarmness is a big deal. At least in our part of the world. In my experience, it's the biggest obstacle to overcome in ministering to people. To be used to help move people out of that and into real passion and love for God is quite a task. Honestly, lots of people are just wanting to stay right where they are. They want to get involved enough at church that they have good Christian friends, but that's really all they need church involvement for. It's a social organization, nothing more. They really want to be with people who think just like them so that they are never challenged to think differently. Or to live differently.My heart is breaking a little over this right now.

Now, I'm well-acquainted with lukewarmness myself. I've spent many more years in lukewarmness than I have in passion. And even now...almost eight years after I made a new choice to live more passionately for Jesus...I see that He's already made me different than I was, but I still struggle so much. I lack so much enthusiasm, passion, and obsession for Him. I need to grow in this. But I want to grow in this too. It's why I have people in my life to push me towards this kind of growth. It's why my deep friendships are with passionate people. People who challenge me. People who disagree with me and aren't afraid to tell me why but always do so with biblical support. It's why I am in community with other believers, on several different levels. It's why I love the church I'm a member of - that I can find people like that if I want to be around them. I'm just really sad this week that there are so many people avoiding those very relationships because they truly want to stay where they are. There are some who, instead of fleeing temptation as fast as they can, ask for clarification of the "lines" between godly and worldly living only so they can get as close to it as possible and not feel guilt or possibly not to have anyone confront them. Besides all the ways this way of thinking is detrimental to that person's spiritual growth, it also affects others, can infest a group and help others get "stuck" as well, and misrepresents Jesus to those who don't know Him.

So the issue becomes how to minister to these people. Jesus hates lukewarmness, but He loves people. I want to extend mercy, as I know very well I've been given it, and I want to love them so well that they stay within reach and are still in a place to have their hearts penetrated by truth. But what happens so often is that truth divides people. Truth offends. And we can't be afraid to share it when the Holy Spirit asks us to. The tricky part (if I had to do it on my own) would be to balance that mercy-filled patience for people with the call to encourage others' growth which sometimes requires more direct words or teaching. Thank God I don't have to figure that all out on my own! I need Him to just do that through me. And I need not be so surprised when the truth does offend. It's pretty much what the gospel is.

I needed to process this and redirect my mind towards truth, but I'll blog again soon - with more thoughts on recipe and meal ideas for company. Thanks for your responses on that! I'd love to get more recipes!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What to Make When Company's Coming

I'm always looking for simple, fun ideas for preparing meals when we invite guests into our home. Joel and I feel strongly about the importance of developing hospitality in our hearts and putting it into practice long before we have an abundance to share from or have a completely-decorated home, perfect table settings, expert culinary skills, etc. I've found that many times people are blessed by that very incompleteness. While I've experienced blessing through many a people serving me out of the amazing skills, gifts, and wealth God has given them, I've also experienced times when those atmospheres of seeming perfection just served to intensify the temptation I was feeling to compare, complain, and struggle through my own issues of discontentment. I have seen where it does bless others - and yourself - when you don't wait to practice hospitality. (You know...wait until you have a nicer home, more money, prettier dishes, feel more confident in your entertaining skills, etc.) We just want to open our home, spend time building relationships, enjoy community, and seek to meet others' needs - whatever those may be. Sometimes people just need to hang out and enjoy a good time and easy discussion. Sometimes there are bigger problems in people's lives that they may be more willing to share with us over dinner in our home, giving us an opportunity to provide support and encouragement for their particular need. Other times we're caught off guard by how much our guests blessed us! So many great things happen when "church" also happens outside the church walls. We don't do this enough. Not as often as we've felt led. But it's an area in which we want to keep growing. So we choose not waiting to do it. And one of the ways we're working on that is in simplifying the endeavor of entertaining people in our home. We have several foolproof meals that we serve when having company over. We do branch out of this, of course, but when we find a meal that just works well for having others over, we aren't afraid to use it again. And again. And again.

Check out Southern Living's website for instructions on creating one of my new favorites, Lean Green Lettuce Tacos. I couldn't get the picture on my blog, for some reason. And I don't have time for that. So you'll have to go there to see it. I love the idea of serving the lettuce leaves in a glass bowl; it makes it so much prettier!

I recently made these lettuce tacos, and it was a hit at our house, so I'm thinking I will make this in the near future when we have someone over. When I do cook a meal for someone, I like to choose things that provide lots of fix-ahead flexibility. This is because my crazy children tend to surprise me with certain needs right at cooking time. So we choose menus that don't limit us to doing all of the cooking in the hour right before guests arrive. That way we're not rushing around desperately trying to get ready at the last minute, dealing with unexpected interruptions or delays. I'm not a good multi-tasker, so this is an important one for me.

We've also gotten creative with what entertaining looks like, and I highly recommend this. Especially when you have a budget to consider. Sometimes it's not about serving a big meal. Sometimes it's just inviting a family over for homemade ice cream and sundaes on a summer night, after we've all eaten dinner at our own homes. We love doing this with our family friends who have kids, and we just throw them in the backyard to play, or we all go outside. Hosting outdoors definitely cuts back on some of housecleaning efforts in preparation! Because Joel and I are currently leaders of a rather large community group at our church, we find that it helps us to usually have two or more couples over at a time. And we feel fine asking people to bring something. They usually ask anyway. But definitely make it a group effort! Maybe it's a bring-your-own meat cookout scenario. We love doing this! Especially with larger groups. Or you can have grill-your-own-pizzas night. My friend Shelly and her husband once invited our family over for this, and it was an idea that I tucked away in my mind to use in our home. (I copy and steal ideas from people all the time.) Ask your guests to bring one or two pizza toppings to share and you provide some more, then prepare the dough (recipes for this are all over and everyone can pile up their personal pizzas from the plethora of topping offerings, and you grill them for everyone.

And in the next few days, I'll share some more recipes I love for entertaining. But please, please help me out. Let me know your best simple meal plan for hosting others (simple is essential for this girl) in the comments section. I wish I had more readers and we could do one of those fun linky things, but alas, I'm not that popular. So, do you have a favorite go-to meal you like to serve guests in your home?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

God of Variety

There's a Bible study class we attend on Sunday mornings at our church, and I just can't get it off my mind this afternoon. Our discussion today, like most Sundays, was very rich. Everyone was engaged. We were all learning from each other. And it seemed we were all experiencing conviction. The difference with this particular group than a lot I've been a part of is that next Sunday, there will be people in there who ask you if you put into practice the truth of which you were convicted the previous Sunday. It's hard. And so good. Today, the teacher wrapped up the discussion a few times, yet people kept sharing more. Bible study just wouldn't end. And it was one of those moments you just knew it wasn't supposed to. God was still convicting hearts and enlightening minds to truth. And I liked it. Enough to cry about it. =)

I was overcome with thankfulness for this particular hour I get to spend on Sundays with that unique, sometimes even random, group. And I'm grateful that God doesn't show up just when you're with your like-minded, similar friends. When He shows up through the differences of the people studying Scripture together, it creates such beauty. Unity becomes something much more powerful. And the whole concept of unity immediately seems simpler than it was. When I'm with that group, it's like a whole piece of God's character that I paid little attention to before is suddenly clearer in focus. His heart for mosaic-type worship bears heavier on my own. When you build relationship with those people with whom you may never otherwise interact with, if not for your shared love of Jesus, you receive glimpses of God's character that can overwhelm, inspire, and even startle you. The thing bonding you is HIM. The power that is available for unity is quite a gift. I'm just a little shaken by it today. And it makes me think a lot about what my reasons and motivations are for seeking and being in community with others in my church.

What a blessing it is to be a part of a group that brings passion, authenticity, and variety to the table! These people in this class sure bring ALL of that. And God uses it every single week. I really do think it's important to not limit our relational connectivity within the church to only those in our same age group/life stage. We're always gravitating towards those like us, and while it's good to be in community with those we match up with in terms of season of life (there are lots of benefits there too), it's really refreshing to also connect with people, whether through studying God's Word or through service of some kind, who bring such diversity in perspective through different backgrounds, ages, personalities, and experiences. It makes me a different girl. And today I'm just thinking a lot about how much I love that God loves variety.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Grand Party Day

Last weekend, we had family in town and celebrated both Jonah's and Parker's birthdays on the same day. (Photos below!) Jonah's 4th b-day isn't until the week after next, but it made it easier to party earlier with out-of-town family being here for memorial day weekend. My mom has wanted to host one birthday party for each of her grandchildren during their early years, and she always goes to great lengths to make them special and memorable. This year was Jonah's turn to have a "Gigi party" - and it did not disappoint! It was held at a nearby wildlife drive-through park where you drive your car to see all these different animals that come up to your window and you feed them. Jonah had a blast. My mom did such a cute job with the decorations. I'll have to get some pictures of the table from my aunts because I didn't have any good ones. It didn't go exactly as planned, thanks to a downpour the second the party table got set, but those are the kinds of things that make for extra funny memories! It was quite an adventure for the kids. We're so thankful for everything Gigi did to show her love for Jonah. She sure did show it! A couple hours after his party, all of our family returned back to our house for a little party to celebrate Parker Jane's birthday. She was her usual self, trying to be sassy. We discussed this little attitude of hers a lot last weekend - it's like she wants you to think she's mad and doesn't like you so she scrunches up her nose and squints her eyes at you, but her eyes remain expressionless. She doesn't quite follow through. It's hard to buy that she's really being mean, but she sure tries. I can't believe I have such a snobby daughter. Thankfully, she's gotten over herself a little this week and is being friendlier than normal. She's such an interesting mix of sassy and sweet. Now that I'm starting to see that unique personality coming through, I keep thinking it will be very interesting to see how God shapes her little heart over the years. Just so you know, in the photos below of her eating her cake (first sweets she's had), about 10 different people took what seemed like 30 photos each, and she never once cracked a smile for any camera. She's stingy with those smiles! I thought people told me that girls innately know how to pose for a photo??! She was serious about that cake though.

2 Great Parties:
Aren't these amazing-looking cupcakes??!! Tasty, too! Way to go, Mom.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fun Firsts

I haven't updated in a while. Not really sure why. We've been having lots of fun around here...

First Real Interest in a Sport:

First Pig Tails:

First Buzzed Head:

First Birthday (In this picture, she was smiling and swaying as we sang "Happy Birthday", like she knew the day was all about her):

First Fish Caught:

First Baby Doll Stroller:

First Trip to a Fire Station:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Who She IS

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a graduation ceremony for 75 women in my community who were afforded the opportunity for job and life skills training through an excellent organization called The Christian Women's Job Corps. I was so blessed by being in the presence of these incredibly strong women. They were truly inspirational. As the keynote speaker gave her address, she shared something that has been swirling in my mind ever since. At one point in her speech, she listed the verbs that describe the woman in the Proverbs 31 passage. I always recommend that people study Scripture in context, but assuming you are familiar with this passage, I wanted to share those verbs below (mostly in the ESV with a few exceptions coming from the NIV) because their emphasis has provided for me a fresh, different perspective on the women we are called to be. (If you are not familiar, you can study it in context here.) I had never before looked at this chapter from this viewpoint. It's been nice to think through not solely what the Proverbs 31 woman does, but who she is.

She does.
She seeks.
She works.
She brings.
She rises.
She provides.
She considers.
She buys.
She plants.
She dresses.
She perceives.
She holds.
She grasps.
She opens.
She reaches.
She makes.
She delivers.
She laughs.
She speaks.
She watches.
She surpasses.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Periodically, our church does these initiatives called 28-Day Experiments. A small booklet of 28 brief, devotional-like readings is published, and families within the church can read through the booklet in their homes. For 28 days. All together. They're pretty neat. Each one that has been produced takes a different focus. Currently, we are doing a 28-Day Experiment entitled "Catalyst - Becoming Agents of World Change." We're one week into it, and this particular one is excellent. Much of its focus is on our own church's missionaries who are serving in various places, but it contains daily snippets of truth about God's design for our personal involvement in supporting these fellow believers and church members serving elsewhere. But it's far from typical.

I mostly grew up in churches that I thought were mission-oriented. But I'm hearing things now about supporting missions that I've never heard in my life. Things beyond the "Pray, Send, Go" options we've heard about. I'm being taught new truths about cultivating a heart for missions that reflects Jesus' own heart. And to be quite honest, I never really paid much attention to that idea before. Supporting missions seemed like an "extra" in the Christian journey. Periodically there would opportunities to do something along the lines of supporting missions, but when I happened upon them, they always seemed to fall into one of the following categories: praying for missionaries, supporting them financially, or taking an occasional trip to provide physical help. I never really looked at the whole issue in a comprehensive way. I never sought out what Jesus' heart for supporting missions looks like and ALL the ways it could be developed in my own heart. That has been changing throughout the last several years. Despite being a slow learner on this stuff, I am grateful to be in process.

One of last week's readings, written by our global outreach pastor, Steve Rumph, really convicted me, and I'd love to share it here:

"I'm still impacted by a Grace Community missionary's answer to the question I posed to her in 2002, 'What's your greatest concern about heading out into the field?'

Her response was not at all what I expected. I expected something like, language problems, health issues, financial support, or dangers for children.

What Serina Hollowell said with genuine emotion was, 'We are afraid you will forget us!'

The first missionary also mentions how important it is to be remembered as he wrote: 'Timothy has come to us from you...and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you.' (1 Thess 3:6).

Could it be that what comforted the Apostle Paul 2,000 years ago, and Serina Hollowell today, should be of real importance to us?"

I had completely missed this concept in Scripture. Now I remember reading these sentiments from Paul, but it never connected with me how important it is that I remember to remember those who have left here to go where they are. Doing so is another way I can become more like Jesus. It's biblical! How hard is remembering? It should be easy. But I get distracted. I get caught up in my own little world and forget about others' circumstances. Later that same day I read this, my sister-in-law randomly mentioned to me something about almost deleting an email newsletter she received from a girl she knew a long time ago who was serving as a missionary in a country overseas. She was about to trash it without reading it when she suddenly was stopped by the thought that she was put on that newsletter distribution for a reason and was meant to read it. She was telling me this because she was sharing how blessed she was by reading this girl's testimony. In some way, it filled her up that day and pointed her more towards Christ. I got chills from experiencing further conviction from the Lord on this topic. Two nudges from the Lord, on the very same day, through two different sources. Hmm...

As Joel and I attended a missionary support team meeting last night for a couple in our community group who is leaving this week to head back to Africa after a 6-month respite in the States, I was reminded of the timeliness of God's nudges. When He speaks, it's for a reason. And when He instructs, there are always opportunities to obey. I want to remember to remember people and their needs. There's so much I have to learn.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Fun

We're having so much fun having Shelly and Piper for a visit right now!! Sure miss that friend.

And here are some snapshots from an Easter egg hunt at my aunt Joy's house and then more on Easter day:

Other quick updates - We're still staying busy. It seems we've been having lots of company lately, and I'm loving that. I have a few (very frugal) decorating projects I'm working on right now, so hopefully I'll soon have pictures to post. Our community group has started a new series that Joel and I are so excited about - The Peasant Princess sermon series from Mark Driscoll. It's a series he preached on Song of Solomon, and we're anticipating great discussion on the topic of marriage within our group, as the husbands and wives meet separately each time our group meets to talk deeply about some of the issues of marriage that often go untalked-about in the church. And the biggest thing in our family's life right now is that Parker Jane is taking steps! I have an almost-walking child! I'm sooo not ready to have a preschooler and a TODDLER! Didn't I just have a baby a few weeks ago?? Her walk is the cutest thing ever. For one thing, she's so short that it looks pretty funny to see her move those legs. And if you ever saw her crawl, you'll know she moves very delicately. She has a very dainty walk too! We've got to get some video of this soon. It might be next year....poor second child.