Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Changing Years, Unchanging God

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For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed;but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

"The pillars of the earth may be moved out of their places, but the kindness & the covenant of our merciful Jehovah never depart from his people. How happy my soul feels in a firm belief of this inspired declaration! The year is almost over and the years of my life are growing few but time does not change my Lord. New lamps are taking the place of the old, perpetual change is on all things; but our Lord is the same. Force overturns the hills, but no conceivable power can affect the eternal God. Nothing in the past, present, or the future can cause Jehovah to be unkind to me." Spurgeon Dec 27th Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith


It has been a year of change and a year of more change is in our future. After so many surprises I've learned not to speculate on what this upcoming year will exactly hold. And when I do speculate I am often left anxious and fretting. So I've resigned myself to say, I do not know. But I do know this, that my God never changes and more than ever I'm clinging to that truth. I can expect him to be faithful again and again in the upcoming year just as He has been every year prior.

"..In Christ Jesus the glorious God has pledged himself to thee to be thy God, and to hold thee as one of his people. Kindness and covenant- dwell on these words as sure and lasting things which eternity itself shall not take from thee!"

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Pictures

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Taylor won the "Best Expressions" award while opening presents...


she got some really cute shoes...


and learned how to play Em


Rylee got her very own bike- it's already quite the envy of the other girls on the block. Hot pink, black, silver...



Oh and we also learned that there was a new super-hero on our block!


just let us know if you need to borrow him :)

Thanks Daukas & Jones family for such wonderful Christmas celebrations!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Beginning But Not The End

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The message that comes to us from Bethlehem is a very decided one. It is not a finished one; it was only finished at the cross; but, so far as it goes, it is quite explicit; quite unambiguous. It means love, peace, pardon, eternal life. The lesson taught us at Bethlehem is the lesson of grace; the grace of God, the grace of the Father and of the Son. We may learn much, indeed, as to the way of life, from Bethlehem. It must not, indeed, stand alone; you must associate it with Jerusalem; you must bring the cradle and the cross together. But still it teaches us the first part of the great lesson of peace. It says, though not so fully as Golgotha, that God is love. The beginning is not the end– but still it is the beginning. The dawn is not the noon– but still it is the dawn. Bethlehem is not Jerusalem– but still it is Bethlehem. And the Prince of peace is there. The God of salvation is there. The manifested life is there. Horatius Bonar

May the two not be separated today in our hearts as we rejoice in Christ's birth. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Awaiting Christmas

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It's almost here! Time to finish wrapping, baking and begin rejoicing in God becoming flesh!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Card Picture

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It hasn't been easy trying to get a picture of the three kids. Actually I'm not sure I've gotten a real good one of the three of them ever.

wait don't leave...


she left...


show some love... maybe a little less :)



And the winner:



What a great gift for Mom!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stomach Bug & Recitals

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This week has had quite the pattern. Starting Sunday night it went stomach bug for Taylor, Monday night recital, Tuesday night stomach bug for Chris, Wednesday night recital and last night stomach bug Trevor. Being that there's no recital tonight I'm hopeful that will kill the pattern :)

Moving on, this past semester I've taught Taylor and my friend Stacey's two kids piano. It's been a lot of fun to see the kids love for music grow. We had a little recital at our house Weds. night and it went great. My dad got this video of Taylor:

video

I can't tell you how proud I was of her. She showed a lot of maturity in how she responded to not getting that note right. This is a real struggle for Taylor- she can do most things well and fairly quickly and she doesn't always have the best attitude when she messes up. But that night she persevered and although you couldn't see her face she smiled at me and just keep trying. I told her that I was more proud of her for trusting God in making a mistake then I would've been if she had played everything perfectly!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Recital

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Taylor had her first ballet & tap performance with the studio we put her in early fall. It was so fun to see her dance and perform. She told us "at first I was nervous, but then I thought this is fun, so I smiled a lot." So cute. She's definitely a natural at ballet, tap is a little harder for her but she loves it!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Photo Sessions

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We had a very busy weekend. A concert Chris and I played at friday night, two photo sessions for me saturday night, sunday morning Chris preached and sunday evening he lead our singles group Christmas banquet. The last one for us :( Oh and then Taylor got sick sunday night just as we were falling asleep. First time one of my children hasn't made it to the toilet in time, fun, fun. Poor thing. It was a short bout of sickness thankfully and I'm hoping it won't make it's way down to the rest of the family!

I wanted to post some photo's from this weekend. I meet Kristeen at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and after a some e-mailing back and forth we set up a time for me to take some pictures of her kids for their Christmas card. I was honored to have the job! What sweet children they were!

I used the red chairs for our Christmas card and it worked well to keep the kids in one place! Although I like this background a lot better.




This little one was hard to catch, she reminded me of an older rylee. But once I did...


and the one they ended up using for their Christmas card and my personal fav too:


After their pictures I took some of my brother's family with the remaining sunshine we had left.




So glad I got these done on Saturday as we haven't had sunshine since :-) Thanks to both families for the opportunity!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heart Attitudes

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We've been talking a lot in our family about choosing to obey or have joyful hearts even if we don't want to. Grumbling and complaining seems to run in the family.

Well the other day Trevor was having a bad attitude or sinful heart as we refer to it and I said something to the effect of "Son make a good choice please. Change your attitude."

He walked away and came back exclaiming- "I did it mom! I flipped my heart!"

Gotta love the flipping :-)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Woot!

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Woot- One Day, One Deal. The deal is available all day, or until it sells out, and changes at 11:59pm central time. Chris and I have found some amazing deals on this site. Today it's a iRobot Roomba bundle for $149.99. That's a great woot deal!

But husbands be careful what you get your wives for Christmas... unless she specifically asks a vacuum, it may not be a good choice. You could end up here.



Ok, so in reality I don't agree with the commercial but as a joke Chris and I laughed our heads off! I wouldn't mind a nice vacuum for Christmas either :-) Back to woot- the deals this week are supposed to be amazing!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Faith in the Unseen

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A friend sent this to me this week to encourage me in my fight for faith for my future:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The ESV note: "assurance, also translated confidence.... by defining faith as assurance and conviction, the author indicates that biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in imaginary, wishful thinking. Instead faith is a settled confidence that something in the future--something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God-- will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. Thus biblical faith is not vain trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable leap in the dark, rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy-- the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation and who will never leave nor forsake his own. Such faith in the unseen realities of God is emphasized throughout ch. 11 and has provided confidence and assurance to all who receive christ as their lord and savior.

I can often feel that our upcoming church planting adventure is a "unknowable leap in the dark". In reading this I grew confident that my fight is not for the unseen that may never come to pass but rather for the unseen that will come to pass because God has promised it to. I will not find a promise of God guaranteeing us success, as measured by the world, as church planters, or a nice comfortable life in Peoria. No there are no such promises like that. But he has promised to never leave, he has promised His grace to be sufficent for each and every day, he has promised to work all things together for my good and he has promised that "all light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corth 4). So as I fight for faith I can know that my fight is to believe real promises of God. For those will all come to pass.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Friends

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It's good to have friends. Jon and Lory have been dear friends to us over the past four years. We met them while at the P.C. in Maryland and immeditaely hit it off. After the mice killing of course. We didn't know at the time our friendship was building that we would end up serving together in AZ. What a joy it's been too. Anyway, here's some of the family photos I took for them last week. Oh and don't tell anyone but I think Trevor has a crush on Ellie. The arrangement details are still in the works.




Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

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We have yet again been blessed by our glorious Savior in more ways than we deserve this year. As a family we have spent the past week recounting all of the ways we are thankful. It has done our soul good to think and dwell on what we have been given in Christ.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


I hope everyone has a wonderful thanksgiving enjoying family and friends!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Leaning

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I have felt as of recently that I've come to the end of myself. My strength, my wisdom, my ability to to just keep going. The kids have been in a difficult season as of late and my temptation, as always seems to be my first inclination, is to just try harder. Work harder. Or sometimes it's the other extreme and I just want to ignore all the that needs to get done right in front of me. One thing I know for sure. I cannot, nor will not, ever get anywhere in my own strength. I must throw myself at my Savior's feet and cry for grace and mercy over and over again!

You are to lean upon the fullness of your Beloved. He is full and sufficient for all the wants of His people. A circumstance in your history canoot possibly occur, a necessity in your case cannot arise, in which you may not repair to the infinite fullness which the Father has laid up in Christ for His church in the wilderness...Distrust then your own wisdom, look from your own self, and lean your entire weight upon the infinite fullness that is in Christ. The posture is expressive of conscious weakness and deep self-distrust.

Who is more feeble than a child of God? Taught the lesson of his weakness in the region of his own heart, and still leaning it in his stumbling, falls and mistakes, many and painful, in his self-inflicted wounds and dislocations, he is at length brought to feel that all his strength is outside of himself...How shall I ever fight my way through this mighty host, and reach in safety the world of bliss?

By leaning daily, hourly, moment by moment, upon your Beloved for strength. Christ is the power of God and He is the power of the children of God... Lean, then, upon Jesus for strength. He has stength for all your weakness; He can strengthen your faith, strengthen your hope, strengthen your courage, strentghen your patience and strengthen your heart for every burden, for every trial and for every temptation. Lean upon Him, He loves to feel the pressure of your arm; He loves you to link your feebleness to His almightiness, to avail yourself of His grace. Thus leaning off yourself upon Christ!
Octavius Winslow


Yes that is my prayer. When faced with constant tantrums, I lean. When battles arise over math, once again, with my daughter, I lean. When my little one escapes her crib time after time, refusing to nap, I lean. When fears of church planting or our house situation arise, I lean. And in leaning there is always grace.

Friday, November 21, 2008

History Field Trip

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Sunday I took Taylor on a history field trip. It was put on by a group called We Make History. They are renactors of early history time periods. Currently we just finished studying the Revolutionary War, George Washington and have begun learning about the first couple of states. So this went right along with our studies! She had a great time seeing all the dresses and artifacts from the different time periods. Each actor was equipped with lots of interesting information and we were free to ask questions and have discussions with them all. More than anything I enjoyed having some alone time with Taylor. She's is such a delight to be with!

Taylor attended prairie school where the teacher explained how she would've walked to school and showed her the items she would've brought. Then she had Taylor write her name with ink and had some antique books displayed.




She was so excited to meet Abe! We also got to hear him give the Gettysburg address.


The soliders getting ready to go off to battle. They did a civil war renenactment. That was a little much for Taylor so we didn't stick around long.


Playing a game the settlers would've played.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On and Off Again

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I was editing some photo's of Rylee the other and day and found this one. This pretty much sums up my daily battle with her. So Frank & Nancy, Scott & Jessica, let this photo serve as a reminder of all the fun times we had in Disney,searching for rylee's shoes that she had kicked off somewhere in the park :-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Independence

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My kids grew up in some big ways this week. Rylee learned how to ride Trevor's tricycle early in the week, just in time for Trevor to inherit a bike from a neighbor. Then on Wednesday Taylor asked if we could take off her training wheels. Honestly I had my doubts my fearful daughter was ready, but she was determined. She would wobble, fall, I'd run alongside attempting to catch her. When I was ready to call it a night she'd get right back on the bike and pedal harder and faster. What joy it brought my heart to see her by the next afternoon riding up and down the streets like she had done this her whole life!




This week Rylee also learned how to... well I'll let you just see for yourself. But you might not want to let any toddlers still in cribs watch :-)


Yep, she came out to greet us thursday morning. It was quite the suprise! Let a new training phase begin.

**So I promise I won't let this turn into a video blog of my children :-) I have been trying out my parents flip camera and will be getting it back to them soon. But I can say I really like the Flip and it could make a great Christmas present for someone, someone like me :-)

Family Worship With Daddy

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We don't just read the bible in this house, we sing the bible :-) I love watching Chris lead the kids by bringing God's word to life and making it fun. Here's a song Taylor and Daddy wrote this week on their reading of John 3.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Easiest Soup Ever!

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Since it's begun to get chilly around here, I was eager this week to try a new soup recipe. I found this on cooking light and make it last night. It has two things I love about cooking- really easy and it tastes amazing! That's a rare find.

Italian Sausage Soup

Ingredients
8 ounces hot or sweet turkey Italian sausage (I used sweet chicken sausage)
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1/2 cup uncooked small shell pasta
2 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Preparation
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain; return to pan.

Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil.

Serves 4

** It's not all that soupy so I might add another half can of chicken broth next time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Weaning of the World

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"These painful dispensations, by which you are learning the changeableness of everything earthly, are but to wean you from a poor, unsatisfying world and to draw you near and yet nearer to Jesus. Then be of good cheer, for He hath promised never to leave or foresake you. Thus, you may bodly say, "The Lord is my helper."

Octavius Winslow Morning Thoughts, 10/28


The Lord continues to meet me in the weaning of things I love about my life here in Gilbert and embrace the change that is in my future. A promise that I cling to is that He will never leave! Ever! What a wonderful promise. I do not know what the future holds for Chris and I and I can often give in to fear. But in my desperation I am comforted to know that He is my helper. Gently leading us on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My Precious Nephew

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Last week I had the chance to take some six week pictures of my nephew Owen. He is my brother's son and it's been such a joy to see him and Danae become parents.

I have a special place in my heart for Owen for many reasons. One being that for a split second I knew he was coming before Danae :-) I had talked her into taking a test I had at my house and she had me look at the results first. I guess my face said it all :-) Then I had to keep it a secret for what felt like eternity! I'm so thankful that God has blessed Ryan and Danae with a healthy beautiful baby!

Ok so here is the little guy. Doesn't he have such gorgeous eyes?!


It's so sweet seeing how much Owen loves his mommy


At one point he wasn't so happy. He had enough of this picture taking business and was tired. Mom came and saved the day though:


He was a happy for a few more minutes and we got this fall themed shot :)


After that he crashed and took a little nap




Thanks Danae for the opportunity! I look forward to taking more.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Motivation to plant a church

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While in disney my sister in law asked me what I was most excited about when it comes to planting a church. I told her that although there is truly a lot of things I'm excited for, probably the most exciting thing will see people's lives change because of the Gospel at work in them.

My cyber-friend Laurie posted this on her blog and it too left me in a sobbing mess. By God's grace we will have similar testimonies comes from our church one day in Peoria. Check it out when you get a chance and it will leave thankful for the work God has done in your life.

A Prayer For America

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I like, millions of others today, have voted. And now I wait. Wait to see what God has in store for the next four years and pray that God would have mercy on us as a country. I read this over at Al Mohler's site and thought it was an outstanding guide as to how to direct my prayers today.

A Prayer for America on Election Day

Monday, November 03, 2008

Family at Disney

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I've come to realize that I could go on and on about this trip. The musical's we saw, Finding Nemo, Ariel, Beauty and the Beast have only inspired Taylor to want to sing and dance all the more. The incredible animals we saw on our safari ride at Animal Kingdom and the kids first time goofy golfing. All fun and memory filled. But by far the best part of our trip was being together as a family. We had so much fun with Chris' parents and Scott and Jessica and Addy. What a blessing it was to spend such an extended amount of time with them! And what a blessing it was for our kids to get to know their cousin Addy better. They have missed her and talked about her since we've been back.

Chris' parents were kind enough to babysit two nights so that Chris and I could go out with Scott and Jessica. The first night we went to Disney's Magic Kingdom Not So Scary Halloween party. I have always dreamed of doing disney rides just Chris and I and this night made that possible. Jessica kept saying throughout the night how romantic the dumbo ride was at night. Well we took her word for it and got on the ride. As we got on the drizzle rain we had been experiencing turned into pelting rain and we got soaked for the duration of the ride. We laughed for the rest of the night at how "romantic" it was :-) Another night we went the four of us to Disney's boardwalk and sat and got coffee and dessert together. I really enjoyed this night talking with Scott and Jessica. Scott and Jess we wished you guys lived in AZ so we could spend more time with you.


Chris parents were so incredibly patient with our kids. Trevor was in rare form this week and wasn't always the most respectful, delightful child to be around. I think by the end of the week he had pretty much offended everyone. Ha! Also we shared a van with them to and from the theme parks to our resort. After hours of walking around a theme park one is eager to sit and enjoy a nice quiet drive home. There were no such rides in our car. It was either filled with crying, whining, loud silliness or all three at once. We pushed our kids to the max this week and they seemed to pay us back for it in the car.

That being said it really was an amazing week. One we will never forget! These past five months have been all consumed with thoughts and talk of church planting and what a blessing it was to get away with our kids and have a break in the action! We will always be grateful to Frank and Nancy and Scott and Jessica for making this trip possible for us!





Goodbye Disney, we'll look forward to returning one day!