Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Importance of Truth (and Doctrine)


In light of Michelle's recent posts 'Righteous Judgement' and 'What is Love?' I have been inspired to write a few words of my own on the topic.
This (rather long) post covers my thoughts and opinions (in a very broad sense) regarding what our responsibility is regarding the false teachings and doctrine within the church today. (You do not necessarily need to read Michelle's post to read mine, but I do recommend taking the time to read them... they are incredibly thought provoking and are sure to get you thinking... one way or another :))

I guess it would be only fair to give you a little heads up as to what "I believe":
I believe there are certain areas of doctrine that should be without a doubt argued and debated, and even confronted within the church today - there are some beliefs out there within the so-called Christian church that can be blatantly contradictory to the Word of God and are leading people astray, and by astray I mean to hell.
However, there are also doctrines out there that are NOT as serious, and can safely be left up to the interpretation of each individual believer. These "minor" differences are nothing to divide over in any sense, but personally, I enjoy debating, learning and studying the Word of God and am saddened by the fact that more Christians are not able to discuss/debate their beliefs without becoming offended, angry and downright rude with one another. Everything we do should be done in love whether it's a direct confrontation or a simple theological/doctrinal debate.
Righteous judgment is not about condemning or judging someone in the sense of "bestowing a final judgment/condemnation" but does require a sense of discernment and drawing conclusions. There is a difference.

I also should mention that I personally think that doctrine is extremely important to an effective Christian walk and far too many Christians are walking around believing what they believe without really knowing why. To be honest, this is a very dangerous place to be, the Bible reminds us over and over again of the importance of knowing and teaching truth. Ephesians 4:11-15 mentions only a few of the benefits which include maturity, unity in the church, building up in love, equipping, and protection from wayward doctrine and deception.

My primary objective in this post  is to prove the seriousness of false doctrine and being led astray. By proving the seriousness, I think we can better evaluate our motives and approach to "righteously judging and correcting" our fellow believers as well as discussing the blessings that come from guarding and keeping the Word of God pure.


2 Corinthians 4:2-6 states "But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the Light of the gospel on the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let Light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Paul states in this passage that he is going to remain true to the gospel, without watering it down or deceitfully introducing it, regardless of how the gospel is received, or not, for he knows that the gospel is accepted and understood not based on how well it is taught or how "convenient" it looks but on whether the recipient has been "blinded" or not.
The purpose of this passage (according to the ESV Study Bible) is that Paul is pointing to the power of God rather than himself, repeatedly, as the source of knowledge and gospel acceptance. This is why he does not lose heart and is able to preach without abandon and without the fear of man and what man thinks of him.
Little bunny trail - we don't NEED to water down the truth in order for it to be accepted, it may not sound the prettiest or make complete sense to us, that doesn't matter, what matters is the power of God and His Light shining on the hearts of people - that will happen in spite of watered down "good news" not because of it!

I want to draw special attention to verse 2 "We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God" the greek word for "tamper" is ('doloo') and its meaning fig. is "adulterate - handle deceitfully" and it signifies an ensnaring, or a corruption "especially by mingling the truths of the Word of God with false doctrines or notions, and so handling it deceitfully." (Strong's Concordance)

The fact is, even if 'watering down the gospel' has good motives behind it (and personally I think it is more often an issue of ignorance than good motives) it is FALSE, meaning NOT the TRUTH and is ineffective - rather than saving it is ensnaring those who receive it!

Let's recall that this chapter is centered around the afflictions that Paul was experiencing because of the gospel he was preaching - this chapter is his encouragement to the church about holding fast to the truth and the larger picture of what's really going on.

Lets look at vereses 13-15 "Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed and so I spoke' we also believe and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

It is the TRUTH of the gospel that brings grace and glorifies God.

This particular chapter of scripture has shown us an important comparison of the two extremes - false watered-down teachings opposed to the true (possibly harder to accept) truth of the Bible. There is a right and a wrong - one way glorifies God the other ensnares and traps those who accept it.

Just in case this isn't a clear enough explanation for us, let's also turn to 2 Timothy 4:1-4 "I charge you [Timothy].... preach the word; be ready in season and out of season ["when it is convenient and when it is inconvenient(*)"]; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."
* ESV Study Bible

The opposite of truth and allowing it, is not loving... it's a lie and a trap - one that we should be desperate to save not only our fellow brothers from but also those who have not yet become believers. Scripture paints a clear difference here - it doesn't speak of acceptance and "living with differences" it's spoken as a warning to keep Timothy (and all teacher's) diligent and on the look-out for what is happening.


Turning back now to 2 Corinthians 4 Paul states in verse 8-9 that "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Persecuted but not forsake. Struck down, but not destroyed."

Let's take a closer look at the word crushed in verse 8- the original greek word ('stenochoreo') means 'to crowd into a narrow space. The Complete Word Study Dictionary describes it a little further as "figuratively, to be constrained, reserved, be unable to express oneself". In the only other instance this word is used (2 Corinthians 6:12) the word is translated as "restricted" and implies a restriction to growth.

Dare I draw the obvious conclusion that the reason Paul can say with boldness he will not be restricted and "unable to express himself" is because he has been true to the gospel and has allowed God's power to work through Him. Reading this portion of scripture with this insight is very interesting to me. A connection is made between holding strongly to the authenticity of the gospel, allowing God's power to work through us and the ability to stand up for our convictions of truth.

This is a big deal, and it effects the church as a whole and us as individuals. The implications of NOT teaching true doctrine and watering down the truth affects far more than just an individual it affects the entire body, including those who decide to not stand up for truth.

For me personally, I don't claim to have all the answers or to be right about everything, the truth is, I know that I'm not right about everything. When I am wrong about something, especially if I am teaching others incorrectly I pray that someone would come to me and correct me in a loving, non-accusatory manner. Not just for the well-being of myself, but also those who realize the mistakes I am making and the souls of those I am responsible to. This is a serious matter, and I think that we all need to take a good hard look at the destruction that is being done by NOT confronting one another's errors (and possibly sin). The implications can be eternal!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Santa... again

For those of  you who follow me on facebook, you already know that a few days before Christmas was the first time that my 4 1/2 year old son ever asked me who Santa was, after a nice patron at the restaurant we were dining at asked him if he had been a good boy and if Santa was going to bring him any presents. Treyton waited for the gentlemen to walk away and said "Who's Santa?" we answered him simply which seemed to satisfy him at the time.

Today, when the water guy came, Treyton insisted on stepping into the garage and watching him bring in the jugs.
I was in the laundry room so I overheard the cutest interaction:

Water Guy: Did Santa bring you lots of nice presents this year?
Treyton: We don't have Santa here, he's on TV.
Water Guy: Oh.... 

(Just so you know, we did not use TV as our explanation of who Santa was but we did use the example that he was "like mickey mouse, or bob the builder" just a pretend person)

After Treyton came inside he came to me and said "Do you know what that guy said to me?"
Me: What?
Treyton: He asked me about Santa!!!
Me: What did you say
Treyton: I said he was on TV!!
Me: That's a good answer buddy

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Family's Favorite Meals

So as part of my "to-do list" I had wanted to put together a list of our family's favorite meals so that it would be easier for me to put my menu together each week. I did it! (I'm so proud of myself). To be honest, I am proud of the things that I am getting done on my list, considering I put all the things I've been avoiding on there!! If you want to check my progress you can go back and look at my original post here

After I put my list together I thought... hmm... I wonder if anyone else could use this for their own family's so I decided to share my list with you all for possibly inspiration for new (or old) meals that you may enjoy.  

Dinner
Homemade Pizza 
Chicken Parmesan
Salmon Spaghetti
Lamb, served with Red Potatoes and a Vegetable
Kabobs
Steak, served with Potatoes and a vegetable
Spaghetti
Chicken Alfredo
Brats/Hamburgers
Taco Salad
BLTs
Chicken on the Bone
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Salmon
Cheese Surprise
Chicken Pesto
Chicken Parm Soup
Chili
Gumbo
Cheeseburger Soup
Roast
Whole Chicken in the CrockPot
Chicken Salad
Stir Fry (beef or chicken)
Enchiladas
Lasagna
Grilled Chicken Legs
Fried Catfish
Chicken Brocolli Casserole

Favorite Vegetables (Fresh)
Broccoli & Cauliflower (will do frozen)
Asparagus
Zucchini
Green Beans (will do frozen)
Corn on the Cob

Lunch Ideas
Tuna
Hotdogs
Deli Sandwiches (Ham, Turkey, Italian, Roast Beef) 
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese
Mac n’ Cheese (rarely)
Frozen Pizza
Corn Dogs
Hot Pockets
Smoked Salmon

SIDES:
Cottage Cheese
Cucumbers
Carrots
Raisins
Yogurt
Fresh Fruit – Bananas, Apples, Oranges


Breakfast
Waffles
Pancakes
Eggs
Bacon/Sausage
Cereal
Biscuits (& Gravy – sometimes)
Cinnamon Rolls (rarely)
Sticky Buns (rarely)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Helping Kids Understand the Heart - Tedd Tripp

Tim and I watched the second video in the Tedd Tripp Biblical Parenting Conference at Mars Hill.
The second video was on "Helping Kids Understand the Heart"

I mentioned this in my last post but one of the major lessons I walked away with from Tedd Tripp's book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" is that disciplining our children biblically is about dealing with issues of our heart, and not just focusing on creating "good" behavior. That was the focus of this session - and I was just as convicted this time as I was the first time!

Here are some of the primary notes that I took away from the videos:

~ The Bible mentions the heart in 762 verses - according to the Bible the heart is the wellspring of life, (Proverbs 4:23) it is the part of us that we "live out of" - the Bible also tells us that it is our heart that the Lord looks at (1 Samuel 16:7)
~ Jesus does not draw the line at external behavior He points to the importance of the heart our behavior is an overflow of the heart. (Mark 7:17-23, Matthew 15:17-20) 

~ What we see in behavior is a reflection of the heart, to parent biblically we must address the heart (Luke 6:43-45 good fruit = good tree)

~ As parents there are endless ways that we can manipulate our children into good behavior: shame, bribes, fear, threats, etc. the problem when we do this however is the (1) the real need (a change of heart) is not being addressed (2) we are creating a false basis for ethics (3) the heart is being wrongly trained (4) the gospel/grace will never be central (5) and it also exposes the idols of our hears - control, pride, ease, convenience, fear of man, etc

~ The truth is, we (our children included) need a cleansing, our idols removed, a heart transplant and empowerment
~ Ezekiel 36:25-27 "... you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new hear, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the hear of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues and be careful to obey my rules." 
~ If you accept superficial behavior you raise pharisees, hypocrites, self-righteous children
~ The more we deal with the heart the more we show we NEED grace, it also teaches openness and realness with their parents

~ Galatians 6:1 "If anyone is caught in any transgression you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentless. Heep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."
* We are called to restore our children gently - kids are easily "trapable" - being caught in a trespass a parents job is to restore which means to tear back to what is solid, stable and good and build from there. It is certainly gentle work.
* At the same time we need to show humility - we sin in the same way as our children, understand them and grow with them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas 2009

Our Christmas this year was pretty relaxed. Usually we spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family, but this year with my youngest sister in Virginia giving birth, we moved it up (to the 19th). So this year, for the first time ever, I was without my mom and sisters on Christmas Eve.

To be honest, I really missed them and thought about them through most of the day (especially considering Alana was in labor and all) but it was also a real treat to have the holiday to spend with just my hubby and kids. Because we grew up in Wisconsin while our entire extended family lived in Lousiana we never had very big family holidays - they were always just our immediate family and few times my step-grandparents or aunt joined us, for us, holidays were a very big deal, but celebrated with just our family, because that's just what our life looked like. It was nice to have that with my own family this year.

On Christmas Eve we went to a local churches Christmas Eve service at 4:00, Treyton, not knowing the church didn't want to go into the nursery so he went into the service with Tim and I. It was SOOO good! Probably the best Christmas Eve service I have ever been too. Of course they sang all the great Christmas songs, and then they had a dramatic story reading of "The Fourth Wisemen" throughout the story they would stop for some songs, perfectly placed of course (I don't know the names of all the songs but one of them was Addison Road's "hope" song... they were all as good!)
After the story the pastor got up and had a short closing statement. Normally Christmas services are very "basic" and meant mostly for non-believers, which I understand, but this pastor did an incredible job of ministering to BOTH long-time Christians and non-believers. (Something that I am really passionate about these days... see it can be done!!). In 10 minutes I learned things I didn't know, was reminded and convicted of the real meaning of Christmas and was encouraged to keep Jesus in the holiday through whatever traditions we have - traditions are meaningless if they don't point to Jesus.

When we got home from the service we had BLTs for dinner, the kids opened their Christmas Eve PJs and their stockings (I posted those pictures here).

That night, after the kids went to bed Tim started putting the kids gifts together that required assembling. It took 2 hours to put Lexie's kitchen together (YIKES!) but when he went to put together Treyton's train table that I ordered from amazon we realized it was smashed in one corner... bummer... we have to return it!

The next morning the kids woke up and of course we do presents, first thing. We do three gifts for each of the kids:
Treyton got: (1) an Imaginarium Marble Racer (2) Melissa & Doug Train set & table (3) Karaoke Machine
Alexa got (1) A pink and white wooden kitchen (2) A big stuffed teddy bear named snuggles (3) a rocking chair




 


 
 I was surprised to see a few extra gifts for me under the tree, Tim and I sat down together and ordered my books but he said he didn't get much of a thrill out of that so he picked me up a few more items (1) a MUCH NEEDED new blender that can also be a food processor - it is AWESOME!! (2) bras, which I also REALLY needed (3) a watch (4) underwear

I got Tim (1) a pair of brown florsheim shoes that he has wanted for a while (2) a watch (3) a belt (4) a nice set of hair clippers which we really needed.

All-in-all I can say we all got what we wanted and walked away with more than we deserved or needed - God is good!

Having the entire day at home with the family, and being typical Schoessow/Gascon mix we kept what was really important at the center of our day - FOOD. We spoiled ourselves with our Christmas Menu
Breakfast: Tim's famous Biscuits and Gravy
Lunch: Amber's Gumbo
Dinner: Lamb, baby red Potatoes, Brocolli & Cauliflower (our favorite "nice" meal!!)


 (If you look on the counter you can see my new blender)
 

We also made Jesus' Birthday cake which we ate as a snack.

Most of the day was really spent playing with all of the kids new toys. Lexie LOVES her new chair - she spent a large part of the day, rocking her lamby and climbing into it to jump off (just like Treyton does on the couch!), Treyton was most intrigued with his marble racer which Lexie also really enjoys and he also spent a large part of the day performing "church" with his new karaoke machine.




 
Dad and Treyton set up the train set in the entryway which doesn't get used too much, until we wait for our new table to come in (which should be here the 29th). So far Lexie has done well and not destroyed it. It's hard to play with because the train takes up alot of room and Treyton can't get on all sides of it. In time I think he will play with it even more.



 It was a great day!! It really was and I am truly thankful for all that God has blessed us with. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lots of Christmas Pictures... already!

I wanted to clean off my camera before tomorrow, we've been busy taking pictures of the kids today so I thought I would go ahead and post a few of them now before I get too overwhelmed and behind so here it goes:

I'm sorry but I'm not afraid to admit I have the cutest kids in the WORLD!

I love this picture because this is Alexa's smile... there is nothing like it - you can't even see her eyes and she almost always cocks her head like that... adorable! And while I am at it I must comment on the fact that Treyton seems to finally be coming out of the 'scary fake smile' stage... yikes!

 They really do love one another!! 

Big kisses

I think this is Tim's favorite "the strangle hold" he calls it! Lexie in the next picture (that I'm not posting is laughing)... again, super cute!
By the way I am posting so many of these because these NEVER happen with my kids - one is always acting up or looking weird - I don't think I've gotten a great picture of both of them since Easter!! Tonight they both just wanted to sit on these boxes so... it worked out! Thank goodness I have a fast camera!

Okay on to "other" Christmas pictures! 

This morning Dad took the kids outside to sled on our new layer of ice from the freezing rain we got last night... good times!!

Little Michelin babies!

Off they go!!

Dressed for warmth!!

Christmas with Mommer and Papa on the 20th!
Lots of good presents!!

Lexie's got a new Lamby (that plays music even!) from Mommer and Papa - it certainly didn't replace "The Lamby" but she loves it all the same and sleeps with it every night!

For the Advent Calendar Treyton's last gift was a nerf gun - this was his favorite toy - and Tim's! I actually had to actually go back to Toy's R Us and get Tim his own gun... boys and their toys!
So far Treyton has shown alot of responsibility with it and has obeyed EVERY rule we have given him regarding it. Very cool to see.

Treyton working on an art project from his Auntie Autumn and Uncle Marv

Christmas Eve: Nothing like a wrestling match after dinner!


Christmas Eve PJs (a tradition in our house - we give the kids PJs every Christmas eve)

Lexie with her's

You go girl!

And let's not forget about our main man: Treyton!

Reindeer Lex

Stockings (still on the boxes) neither one of them wanted to move! That was okay by me because they made cute pictures! They had reindeer ears right up on top... how do you resist those for only a $1.00?!?!

It took Lexie a while to get through her's after she found a piece of candy on top! When it comes to food and treats Lexie is the worst possible mixture of mom and dad... not good!! ;)

Helping Kids Understand Authority

Last night Tim and I sat down and watched the first of the Tedd Tripp videos from a parenting seminar he did at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

I had the privilege of being part of a women's group that actually read and discussed Tedd Tripp's book "Shepherding a Child's Heart". If I recall correctly Treyton was about 18 months old (I can't remember for sure), so it was about 3 years ago. But I still remember the things I learned in this book! I'm grateful that this was one of the first parenting books that I read because it certainly set a standard that many others have failed to meet. And I walked away with a lifetime worth of lessons.

Tedd Tripp teaches that raising and teaching our children is more than just producing "good behavior", as Christian parents we want (and need) to address the heart issues rather than just the behavioral issues. The challenge he gives is to deal with the heart issue by using the behavioral issues as a guide. (I'm summarizing a book I read over three years ago, so keep that in mind!) There are some areas that Tripp is certainly more "strict" than I am, but overall I strongly agree with his techniques and methods of parenting and they have helped both Tim and I immensely.

The video we watched last night was on "Helping Kids Understand Authority"

Here are a few of the notes that I made:

~ The notion of hierarchy has been largely lost on our culture - we have been taught that "we're all created equal" and we are all basically the same

~ The fact is God has organized a hierarchy in life (for example children are under the authority of their parents). In order to give our children a proper biblical worldviews we need to teach them proper respect for authority/hierarchy in their lives.

~ Psalm 8 gives us a look at God's hierarchy system God - Angels - Mankind - Animals - Inanimate Creation

~ All people are equal in dignity because we are ALL image bearers of God, however God has also established hierarchy - Men are placed as the head of Women - Parents are given a position of responsibility and authority in the lives of their children - there are more (government, bosses, etc.)

~ Training is a process - not an event! To teach our children Truth we must continually bring it to them in a loving and sincere manner. This isn't a one time lecture, or bible lesson.
* This includes teaching them that God (whom they can trust) gave them a mommy and daddy that they can trust and that has authority over them.
* Children are commanded to obey their parents in the Bible (Eph 6:1)

~ The fact of the matter is that HOW we present these truths to our kids in CRUCIAL (I loved that he added this part because I had literally just paused the video and said to Tim "I don't disagree with him but I have seen alot of parents, mostly when I was in high school, really misusing this type of system "throwing" selective scripture at their children and expecting it to mean something - sure they taught it to them, sure they know it, but it was used as a method of control, not teaching and instruction.") When we come to our children with an authoritative, power-driven, control seeking manner (my words, not Tripps), we are "planting seeds of rebellion" (Tripp's words not mine). Eventually that child will stand up and test your power... to see what you can "do"

~ Tenderness, honesty, love and sincerity are as important as the words you are using to instruct. (I really believe this). When we are real with our kids, admit our struggles, teach through example and diligently bring the Word of God to our kids with realness it's effective. They may be four years old but they know when you mean what you say and when you're just "saying it".

~ It's also crucial that you critique and evaluate (as a family) our culture and media through your biblical worldview. After you watch TV, read a book, go to the store, etc. talk about what you saw, what it made you think or feel, how you think God felt about it, how it "should have been" if it was according to God's way. We cannot always shelter our children from what they see or hear, but we can talk them through it and teach them.

I highly recommend all parents to take the time to watch these videos, even if you can't do it with your spouse, you can still learn alot through watching them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Treytonisms

I put chapstick on Treyton cause his lips were getting pretty red. I told him it was important for him to stop licking his lips because his lips could get even more chapped and dry and could even crack and bleed. I told him I was going to get him his own chapstick so he could use it whenever he felt like his lips were dry, instead of licking them.
A few minutes later he looked at me worried and said "Did my makeup come off?" pointing to his lips.
Tim quickly informed him that it wasn't makeup - it was chapstick! :)

~~~~~
I was sitting on the couch and Treyton came and threw his body at my feet saying "ooohhhhh maaammmma... I am so stressed out. Somebody stressed me out, maybe sammy." (Sammy is his best friend who was not here at the time)

~~~~~~
While eating dinner the other nigh I asked Treyton if he wanted some salad he replies "I suppose"

~~~~~~
Today, Treyton asked me if he could have some gum. I said "no". And he said "why?" (like he often does) and I said "You know what, Treyton? I really don't appreciate you asking me 'why' every time you hear a 'no' answer. From now on, I don't want you to ask 'why' if mommy or daddy tells you 'no'.
Treyton: That sounds really hard. I don't think it's possible

~~~~~
Treyton was playing play-doh this afternoon and he came in to show me what he made. He brought what looked like a flat/smushed pile of playdoh, stretched out.
He said "Look mom, it's dry land for them to walk on"
We recently read the story of the parting red sea in Exodus. I said "For the Israelites to cross through the sea?"
Treyton: "Well. Yeah!"

My Baby Sister's Becoming a Mom!!


Please keep my baby sister, Alana, in your prayers today, she is going in to the hospital (right now as I type this) to be induced to have her little girl, Madison, this morning!

She lives in Virginia so I will not be able to go visit or see her any time real soon.
I am expecting to get many text message updates from my mom and Sheila (Alana's mother-in-law) as the labor progresses.

For those of you who know Alana, I will be updating her facebook throughout the day as I receive them!

I am so excited for Alana and Mitchell as they begin the journey of parenting together!!

Purpose Driven Life: Day 2


I have already finished my Jesus Calling book for the year, I had gotten ahead at some point during the year and never slowed down so... I finished a little early.

I went ahead and started Purpose Driven Life - I am on day 2. So far I really enjoy this book - it's hitting me right where I am at. God has once again brought me to a place where He seems to be reminding me (constantly) that HE IS SOVEREIGN and in control, and that I am not! This book in just the first two days has reemphasized that.

Today on Day 2 there is a poem by Russell Kelfer that I wanted to put up here

You are who you are for a reason. 
You're part of an intricate plan.
You're a precious and perfect unique design, 
Called God's special woman or man.


You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake. 
He knit you together within the womb,
You're just what he wanted to make.


The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel, 
They were custom-designed with God's plan in mind,
And they bear the Master's seal. 


No, that trauma you faced was not easy. 
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart 
So that into his likeness you'd grow 


You are who you are for a reason,
You've been formed by the Master's rod.
You are who you are, beloved, 
Because there is a God!! 

I don't know about you, but that just says something to me! Alot, actually.

I struggle often times with the way that I look... silly things, like my hands, I hate my hands - I think they look like little man hands. But the truth is, God made these hands, just the way they are. They aren't random, they aren't unknown. They are the hands God gave me to complete the tasks that he's given me. No, I'm not saying I like how they look, but I'm I want to appreciate them for what they are - a gift - a handmade, personalized, thought out purposeful gift from my creator.

I've also been through a few traumas (can I get a witness?) in my life. I don't pretend to know how it all works and I'm not writing this to start any theological/doctrinal debates - but I will say it nonetheless - anything, no everything, that has happened to me or in my life has been allowed in some sense or another by my Father - NOTHING goes unnoticed by him, NOTHING is without his knowledge. While I don't understand it, while I may question the 'why' and never receive an answer. I know and I trust that He cried tears with me and held me close in my darkest hours. He has a plan, and that plan is beyond anything I can understand!! I know that disturbs many, but for me, it brings me comfort.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

John Piper is the MAN!!

Tim and I have loved John Piper since the first message we heard by him. We then had the privilege of visiting his church. We had the chance to go up and talk to him but due to a fight that morning, hormones, and downright anger on my part, I declined (something I still regret doing). Tim was thoroughly disappointed, but to be honest I think it will be our ticket to go back and visit again!!

Anyhow, this morning I just happened to stumble upon the place at desiringgod.org where they offer free downloads of many of John's (and others) books!!
I don't know if this is common knowledge or not, maybe it is and it was just me that didn't realize it. But I wanted to share it all with you all because for a person like me this is like.... AWESOME!!

I am a "book" girl, I like to have a copy of the actual book in my hand, but let's be honest, this can become a pricey hobby, so if you are not able to purchase an actual book, maybe it's possible to download and read it on the computer or even print it off. I feel like this is a GREAT gift for anyone who enjoys John Piper's books.


To see and download visit here


Some of the ones I saw that I would recommend would be:
Spectacular Sins
Desiring God (I haven't read this one yet, but got it for Christmas)
What Jesus Demands from the World
Future Grace (another Christmas gift... looks great!) 
This Momentary Marriage

Other ones I saw that I haven't read much on but that look good: 
The Future of Justification
Sex & the Supremacy of Christ
The Power of Words and the Wonder of God 

The list goes on!! I can't tell you how excited I am, if you could see how fast my fingers are typing and that doesn't even compare to my heart rate... seriously books, they have an affect on me... and free.... wow!! It's just too much!

Does anyone understand what I'm saying and see how exciting this is?!?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Finally... My To-Do List

Okay, so here it is, a while ago I was very much inspired by steadfast at home to create and post a to-do list. However, I wasn't inspired enough. Then when Virginia joined in over at Roger's Family Blog I thought, yes, I am definitely going to do it.... well, it's been a little while now and FINALLY I am going to start putting my list together. There are several things that I want to get done before March when Audrey arrives, so there's no time like the present to get the ball rolling.

1. Clean out, sort and get rid of some of the kids toys. 
This is something I started to do the other day after the first part of our Christmas started with extended family. Out with the old, in with the new, rotate the best! Some toys need to be moved from Treyton down to Alexa and from Alexa down to Audrey. Some need to be put in the "toy" closet for general play and some need to be put in the basement in the "play area" (this is also the toys that get "rotated" back upstairs every so often)

2. Clean out the Bathroom Closets and Drawers 
For some reason, our bathrooms seem to "fill" up with partially full bottles of stuff, travel size cosmetics we hardly ever use, and many other unnecessaries. This needs to be cleaned out and sorted

3. Plan and write out Treyton's Phonics Program 
After much thought, observation and consideration I have decided that Treyton is ready to begin an actual phonics/reading program. He now knows the sound of all his consonants (though he struggles with a couple harder ones, he can usually get them eventually). We will be starting Explode the Code book 1 after the first of the year. I also have Bob Books set 1, Happy Phonics, and various worksheets and printables that I would like to use and incorporate as hands-on supplements. This all needs to be planned out (to an extent) and brought to the "front" to be used. I have much research and organization to do for this next step in school.

4. Make Audrey's name blocks
Each of the kids have their name displayed in their bedroom (since birth) Alexa and Treyton's are both on the wall but with Audrey I decided I wanted to make blocks to put on a little shelf (super adorable) but I still need to make them. Along with  this one I would like to make a set of our last name to display in the L.R.

5. Picture Frames for Alexa and Audrey's room
We recently upgraded Lexie to a big-girl room and set up the nursery, the only thing left we have to do really is get the frames for both rooms and fill them with pictures (Audrey's pictures will not be filled until after she arrives)

6. Clean out my clothes closest 
Does this need explanation? This just needs to be done sometimes!!

7. Discuss, plan and implement ideas for future school room, basement, home, etc.

This one basically is in the "beginning stages" - to be honest we don't know what we want as far as the next few years and our house - are we here for a while (like 3-5 years)? do we want to move in a year and half? do we want to build in a year and a half?
If we stay here we will be finishing off our basement (with at least school room, play room, guest bedroom and guest bathroom) - if we move we will NOT be finishing off the basement so there isn't much planning for here but if we decide we want to build, this is also something that needs to be researched, planned, discussed.

8. Clean out game closet 

9. Begin planning garden for next summer 
What do I want to plant? How much of each thing do I need to plant? How much space will I need? When will I need to start?

10. Paint Living Room 
We painted the Living Room purpley brown and I really like it, but it's just too much for me, I want a sagey/olive green a brown, or maybe even a maroon color instead... this may need to wait until the spring but to be honest I would really like to see it done before Audrey comes, if that's possible.

11. Catch up on Scrapbooking 
I'm a little ways behind but it shouldn't take more than a devoted weekend (by both me and my hubby) to catch myself up!

12. Watch Tedd Tripp's Videos from Mars Hill Parenting Conference with Tim 

13. Move Big White Wardrobe thing downstairs from entryway 
This one is more for Tim (I'm not moving anything) but he can't do this without help so arrangements may need to be made (which would be my job)

14. Make a list of all of our family's favorite meals
This would make weekly menu planning much easier for me, and I keep telling myself I am going to do it.... but I never do. My friend even made me a list of her family's favorite meals to give me inspiration, and I STILL haven't done my own - now is the time!

15. Sort goodwill v. garage sale stuff from the boxes we have downstairs 
I have several growing boxes of stuff that we are getting rid of, some of it could some-day be great garage sale stuff that I'm not willing to just give away but other stuff can go straight to good will... the pile is relatively small so this would be easy if I do it now.

16. Print off "family updates" from the blog and add to kids journals 
This is something that I haven't done for about a year!! I have a WAYS to go back - then copy and paste them to a word document that I then print out to put into their journal notebooks I started for them when they were born.... augh.... I don't look forward to this one!

Okay, I am sure I have more, but for now this is it - I will be updating and adding to this list I am sure!! But for now... I think I have enough to get me started.

If any of you decide to join in the fun, let me know, I would LOVE to see what you all are doing!! (It helps remind me of the things I wanted to do:))

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fall Into Reading: Conclusion


Fall Into Reading has come to an end... like I said in my previous post, I'm a little sad by it, but at the same time I'm looking forward to my Book List for 2010 even more!!

I took some ideas from Callapidder Days lists of questions to finish out the Fall Into Reading Challenge

Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not?

I was able to read 5 out of the 8 books on my list.
I obviously wish that I could have finished the entire list but I am very happy with what I did accomplish.

What was your favorite book that you read this spring? Least favorite? Why?

My favorite book from Fall Into Reading was: A Dad-Shaped Hole In My Heart because it was the book that I experienced the most spiritual challenge & growth with.
My least favorite book: I liked all of them, I can't answer this question :)

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?

My favorite thing about the challenge was that it kept me motivated to not only read but to write posts as well. From here it has also motivated to keep this up. My blog will now contain many of my own personal reading goals as well as my synopsis and/or review of the books I read. I'm really looking forward to this! 

Fall Into Reading: What Jesus Demands from the World


This will be my final post for Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009!
I'm a little sad that it's over, but I'm looking forward to the next chapter (pun intended) of my reading adventures!!

What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper

This book starts out (in the introduction) explaining that it's not an ordinary book. Piper specifically wrote the book with smaller chapters so that you could read them in one sitting. He also wrote the book so that you wouldn't have to read it straight through (or even all of it if you didn't want to). Personally, I think it would work as a great 50 day devotional.

As the title states, the book is based on the commands/demands that Jesus gave during His time here on earth. Some of the chapters were more in-depth and easier to accept than others, but lets be honest some of Jesus' commands were more in-depth than others.

In the beginning, I was most attracted to this book for the simple fact that I wanted to read the collection of "Jesus' Demands" in one place as well as an explanation as to what He meant by each demand. I wasn't disappointed in this respect.

In the past, when I have read the gospels, I have certainly questioned and even misunderstood many of the things that Jesus has said. This book was a great resource to clear up some questions that I had, and even made me aware of some of the misunderstandings that I didn't realize I had. 

Overall I really enjoyed the book. Each chapter has the potential to be both convicting and encouraging. It tackles the question - What does Jesus really want from His followers? What does it look like to serve and follow Jesus?

Some of my favorite chapters
#17 - Humble Yourself In Childlikeness, Servanthood and Brokenhearted Boldness
# 20 - Be Justified by Trusting Jesus
# 21 - Do the Will of My Father Who Is In Heaven - Be Transformed by Trusting Jesus
# 22 - Strive to Enter Through the Narrow Door, For All of Life is a War 
# 40 - What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate, For Marriage Mirrors God's Covenant with Us
# 41 - What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate, For Whoever Divorces and Marries Another Commits Adultery

On a five star rating system I would give 3.75 stars :) I know, way to be decisive - right?


Friday, December 18, 2009

Alexa's Update December 2009

After I wrote my update on Treyton I promised that I would update on Lexie, I see now that it took me longer than I originally expected.


Hair Talk
Alexa is growing by leaps and bounds - I think the biggest change that I get from people who don't see her all the time is her hair!! From no where she seems to have developed longer, thicker hair than what she has had. It's beautiful hair but being uncut and untrained, most days it looks a little out of control and in her face - it bothers me, but doesn't seem to make a bit of difference to her.
She does let me do her hair, but I'll be honest, this is not my area of expertise. Growing up with three sisters, they were usually the ones doing my hair. My sister's daughter ALWAYS has a nice straight part for her pig tails and/or sprouts, Lexie has NEVER had a straight part! It's just the way it is for me, I keep working on it, but at this point Alexa doesn't give me much time to improve - it's "in and out".
I love her hair best in barretts but she is still taking those out so needless to say we are still working with "the sprout" she has had a ponytail a few times which dad has asked for, for over a month (I wasn't ready for a big girl ponytail!) she looks absolutely adorable, but I have failed to take a picture of it quite yet and she could certainly use a little more length to help it out :)

Wow... who knew I had all that to say about Alexa's hair?!?!

Words & Vocabulary 
In other updates Lexie is starting to talk!! This is the cutest thing to here as a parent. Words that she says when asked or if she is repeating you:
Cookie & Cooking - it started as cooking but now it's usually cookie!
Shoes
Treyton
Mama
Da-da
Horse
"kay" (=okay)
Lamb-y (sometimes)
Hi
Bye-Bye
More (along with the sign language... this usually just means food... I'm hungry!)
She has several other sayings I have hear VERY clearly but she doesn't repeat them on a regular basis so I'm refraining from "adding them to the list" yesterday Tim asked her "Can you say Papa?" and she said CLEARLY "Can't say that".... it was so cute!


General 
~ Lexie is getting much better with people, she isn't as frightened or turned off most of the time. She still can choose to be a stinker and may or may not scowl at you, but more often than before she is warming up with people when they come over
~ Alexa got her little toenails painted for the first time on Tuesday of this week. She LOVES them.
~ She is a copier, she watches people very closely and will try to mimic almost anything, especially her big brother Treyton!
~ She has learned major body parts (mouth, eyes, nose, ears, belly button) this is hit or miss though if she is willing to cooperate with the "game" at the time you ask... you know how it goes! ;)
~ She has all four of her molars in and I missed it.... I swear they just all popped through at the same time, and I was oblivious to it until they were "well through" oh well... I marked it down as 12/1 because I saw them that week, but I'm pretty sure they were around before that... oh well!
~She loves to climb.... on ANYTHING... but mostly the dining room table when no one is looking - here is a picture of her on the little kid table.

~ Alexa's favorite things:
* stuffed lamby (she has two that she enoys but "lamby" is still her number one. She does not seem to prefer lambs over other animals, just her stuffed animals. In fact she almost always picks another animal when given the option,
* sitting in chairs by her self, usually eating a snack or reading, she loves my quiet time chair and will just crawl up.... looking all small, and rock. Hands on the arm rest - adorable!
* Reading - she loves books, she loves to read by herself or with people, especially mommy or Treyton. (Yes big brother Treyton reads to Lexie often) The other day Lexie woke up crabby from her nap and Treyton said to her "If you're a big girl Lexa I will read you a story".... it didn't work but it was cute!
* Cooking with the family - we cook together as a family for most meals, not always by choice, but both the kids adore being in the kitchen with us, up on their stools.
* Dancing, singing and loud music. I have no idea where my kids developed their passion for performance (neither Tim nor I possess it) but we do love music and so do our kids. The sad thing is that we know absolutely nothing about it other than if we like the sound or not. I hope to one day develop their love of music into something educational but for now it's just a favorite past-time!

There is so much more I could say but I here Treyton's little feet coming across the kitchen floor to my bedroom to "wake me up" so it's time to punch out!