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.