Archive for 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

God Wants Me to Do Hard Things

I know that this is a little long, but it was really helpful to me so I'm passing it along. Below is an excerpt from Alex & Brett Harris over at the Rebellution.


"All of God’s commands in Scripture are hard. Of course, our tendency is to just say that God’s commands aren’t “easy” or that it’s only by His grace that we can obey any of them — and both of those statements are 100 percent true — but why can’t we ever come out and say that God’s commands are hard?


Everything God commands is hard. Repenting is hard. Forgiving is hard. Turning the other cheek is hard. Overcoming sin in our lives is hard. Honoring our parents is hard. Sharing the gospel is hard. Reading our Bibles is hard. We could go on.


In James 1:2, we’re told to consider it “pure joy” when we’re faced with challenges, trials, and obstacles, because they test our faith and makes us stronger. Think about that. The God who created you and loves you cares about your growth — and the way He has designed you to grow is through challenges.

In order to do hard things we need to get over the idea that God’s love means He wants us to go through life with as little effort or discomfort as possible. This is similar to the mistaken notion that we don’t need to change because God loves us just the way we are. God does love us just the way we are, but He also loves us too much to leave us the way we are. He wants us to grow.


Of course, none of this is to say that God wants us to live joyless and pain-filled lives, but it’s a joy that’s rooted in more than our temporary circumstances, and at times pain is necessary in order to gain something of greater value."


So when Owen is screaming in pain from his tummy hurting and I can't get him to stop or when he's still awake an hour and a half after his feeding and it's 3am and I'm exhausted, or when Tali is saying "Up, up, up, MaMa" but I can't lift her because I'm feeding the little guy, I can take heart. God calls me to do hard things. They aren't a mistake and they aren't something to run from. Hard things are good because they make me grow. They force me to see my need for a Savior instead of thinking I'm ok on my own. Hard things show me that I've got a lot more learning to do in this being molded into the image of His Son. Following Christ involves a lot of doing hard things.

Lord, thank you for the hard things today. Help me to praise You in them and look for what You want me to learn from them today.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweet Baby Boy


In My Arms (by Plumb)

Your baby blues
So full of wonder
Your curly cues
Your contagious smile
And as I watch
You start to grow up
All I can do
Is hold you tight
Knowing...

Clouds will rage and
Storms will race in
But you will be safe
In my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe
In my arms

Storybooks
Are full of fairytales
Of Kings and Queens
And the bluest skies
But my heart is torn
Just in knowing
You'll someday see
The truth from lies
When the...

Castles they might crumble
Dreams may not come true
But you are never all alone
Cause I will always
Always love you

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Always in Need of Grace

There is nothing like getting less than two hours of consecutive sleep a night to make you see your need for grace up close and personal. Hi. My name is Katie and I am a sinner.

I have this knack (otherwise known as the "sinful nature") to think that overall I am a pretty good person who reacts much better to challenging situations than your average Joe. After all, I'm a Christian! (And a prideful one at that.) But the truth is, when I'm trying my best to be a "good girl" all of my deeds leave me flat on my face, especially when the circumstances/heat around me get a bit rough.

Over the past week I have gotten impatient with my parents who are pouring out their own lives to serve us as we adjust to two babies. I have gotten angry with my husband who is waking up along with me to help with diaper changes so that I can rest more. I have gotten bitter at Owen for crying so much and thought that things were much better before this big change. I have spoken harsh words, been difficult to bring correction to, gotten discouraged and annoyed, and blamed others. Simply put, I am a wretched sinner, desperately in need of God's grace. And when I indulge in that remaining sinful nature, trying to "be good," I simply crash and burn, leaving others in the wake of my destruction.

But, thanks be to God, there is a Savior whose grace is greater than all of my sin. He poured out His own blood on the cross that I might be forgiven for all of the above sins and all the ones yet to come. The only righteousness I have or ever will have is found in Jesus, who purchased it with His very life. That is what I am clinging to today for that is my hope.

I would love prayer that I would seek to live for His righteousness and not try to conjure up any of my own. I want to recognize my absolute desperation for a Savior and lean hard on His grace.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tali & Bear


Tali and Bear

Tali loves bears. She is constantly putting her hand to her ear (her sign for "I hear something!") and when we say, "What did you hear," she smiles and growls. She does this off and on all day long. It's very sweet, especially considering that we live in Illinois where the only bears we'll be seeing are in the zoo.

Last Christmas, my brother, Jason, sent Tali this big stuffed bear. As you can imagine, she loves this bear and always wants to walk upstairs to her bedroom to see it. She will hug it, lay on it like a pillow, and "read" it books. A couple of days ago, my parents and Josh & I were in our room with Owen and Tali decided to do something new with the bear. It was hilarious! The bear is bigger than she is but she was determined to carry him all around our room.

We love our little girl so much. She continues to crack us up daily!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

More Pics of Owen






Just wanted to share a couple more shots of Owen for you. He's a cutie!

Also, I just wanted to thank you for your prayers. Last week I kept asking the Lord to surprise me in regards to the baby's birth. I was trying so hard to trust Him with the impending induction and with wanting so badly to go into labor on my own. God granted me much peace and trust in Him in the waiting. Then, on Monday evening, I went from eating a yummy dinner to suddenly wondering if I was sick, to quickly needing to rush to the hospital with contractions that were about 2-3 minutes apart. God did, indeed, surprise us!

My labor was only 4 hours long and so sweet (minus the pain, of course!). With Tali, the induction took an entire night and all of the next day and I was too out of it from the Staydol that I was barely even awake when she was born (I'm not even exaggerating). With Owen, I had an epidural around 7.5cm and was able to joyfully and alertly experience his entrance to this world. The two births were a night and day difference. On Monday, things went so quickly that Josh and I found ourselves a bit shocked. (Weren't we just at home having dinner? When did this baby get here? What do we do now?!) The way it happened was a wonderful surprise and we continue to thank God for His faithfulness in answering prayer and for the gift of this child. He is just such a faithful God and He does love to bless His children.

Thank you to all of you who were praying that Owen might come without an induction. I cannot begin to thank you enough! We can't wait for you to meet him!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

He's Here!


Monday evening at 9:06pm our sweet baby boy, Joshua Owen (we're calling him "Owen"), was born! We are loving time with him and so grateful to God for the gift of this child. Hopefully a longer update to come. Thank you so much for the prayers.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Updated Prayer Requests

Thank you so much for praying! The Lord does hear and it is a joy and humbling privilege to come to His throne of grace. Just wanted to update you on the prayer requests:

1) Baby James Snowden is in need of continued prayer. He was taken by ambulance last night because of low heart rate and what they think are slight seizures where he "blanks out." He is scheduled for surgery Monday morning to have his g-tube back in as it is essential that he gets the proper nutrients to thrive. Please, please, please pray for James and Jimmy & Kristal (his parents). My friends have earnestly sought to trust the Lord and are examples of how the Gospel really does transform lives such that you can have peace even when circumstances are overwhelming. I would plead with you to pray for this baby and to check in on their blog to hear any further updates.

2) Tali is still sick, but it seems like a very small thing compared to what baby James is going through. She is much more chipper, eating a tiny bit more, and less clingy so those are good signs. Our little girl is still having stomach trouble but hasn't become dehydrated (praise God!). She will need to go in to the doctor on Monday if the diarrhea hasn't cleared up by then.

3) Baby boy has still not arrived. The Lord is giving me grace to trust that "This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." Psalm 18:30. Though I would love to go into labor without being induced, if Cervidil and Pitocin are what God's way is for me, then it is perfect. I'd still love prayer that the little guy would come before then, though!

Thank you for praying!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Coming to the End of Ourselves

I loved the awesome commentary that I was reading on Esther & Ruth, but alas, it's over. For this last little stretch before Joshua Owen or Connor David is born, my hubby suggested that I spend some time in Philippians. I have always loved the book of Philippians. The way that Paul is so centrally focused on the cross is always a compelling and refreshing reminder for me to do the same. Along with reading in God's Word, I've been using D.A. Carson's "Basics for Believers," a very helpful and applicable-to-life commentary of Philippians.

Check out this quote that I read yesterday concerning the incredible passage in Philippians 2 where we are shown the ultimate example of sacrifice and love:

"To take up your cross means you have passed all point of possible reprieve, all point of hope that you will once again be able to pursue your own interests; you are on your way to death...So for Jesus' disciples to take up their cross...is to say, in spectacularly metaphorical terms, that they are to come to the end of themselves-no matter how costly that death-in order to follow Jesus."

Compare this to Jesus' example in Philippians 2:6,7 "who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing...". When reflecting on this passage, Carson talked about how ultimately that means that Jesus gave up all of His rights (though He was still God). Are there not about a million ways that I can benefit from soaking in that example of humility? Jesus is God so He deserved everything; He actually had rights to comfort and honor and glory and praise. I am not God; I am a created being, a finite sinner. Any rights that I think I have are perceived rights because in actuality, I am now a slave of Christ since He purchased me with His own blood.

I cannot begin to count the times that I am angry or anxious or discontent because I feel that I deserve something that I haven't gotten (usually for things to be easy). But if I am following Jesus, then I must put to death the idea that I can ever pursue any of my own self-interests. As Carson mentioned in the quote above, I must "come to an end of myself." That doesn't mean that I need to live a martyr mentality of "suffering and taking up my cross" but it does mean that His interests must become my interests.

Oh Lord, help us to let go of these perceived rights that we think we have. Help us to follow Jesus who gave up all of His rights unto the point of death on a cross. Help us to live looking toward Your agenda, not our own!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some Prayer Requests

As a dear friend reminded me today, God loves to answer our prayers and gets much glory as we thank Him for His answers. So...I wanted to pass along a couple of requests that you might share in rejoicing with me at however the Lord chooses to answer.

1) For little James, the baby of my friends, who has been struggling to live from the day he was born eight months ago. Pray especially that the Lord would help him to eat and that God would give sustaining grace to his parents as they care for him.

2) For Tali's health. After just ending her meds from the sinus infection she had, she now has something else. I think it's a stomach thing because she won't really eat or drink, is having some nasty diapers & gas, and is crying a ton. It's very sad to see her feeling so yucky.

3) That our baby boy would come before my scheduled induction next Wednesday. And if not, that the Lord would give me joy in trusting His sovereign good plan.

Thank you so much! May the Lord be glorified as we bring these requests before Him. I look forward to sharing how He has answered.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

In Love at Christmas


After a very busy weekend, my husband blessed me with a special Christmastime date-day! Yesterday morning, we awoke to a world covered in a beautiful "blanket of white." Soon, we turned on the Bing Crosby and headed out into the snowy morning to see our friend, John, in "A Christmas Carol." The theater (Drury Lane) was all decked out for the holidays and filled with chattering children who were bursting to be on a field trip. The show was outstanding and especially fun because the kids were gasping and laughing out loud throughout (much unlike an occasional clap when adults are the only audience!). It was such a joy to just sit in a beautiful theater, soaking in the performance while holding my hubby's hand. What a blessing!

Later in the evening after Tali went to sleep, Josh & I sat down by the Christmas tree and popped in "It's A Wonderful Life"(one of our favorites). Last year we started a tradition of watching this movie to celebrate the first real snow that comes.

Now, neither of these productions are "Christian" per-say, but we enjoyed them and can definitely take important lessons out of each story, especially as we apply it to the true purpose of Christmas. The real thing to celebrate is not the snow or people being nice to each other or generosity overflowing, it's the miracle of the Son of God coming down to become a baby and growing up to die, saving us from our sins. That is a real reason to celebrate!

Thank you, Josh, for blessing me with such a fun Christmas date! It definitely is a highlight for me and I will always treasure the time that we had together, just being in love!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

38 Weeks and Counting

As of Sunday, I am now 38 weeks pregnant and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the little guy (aka: Joshua Owen, or Connor). I feel so good that it's hard to believe that soon we'll have another little baby here. Last year with Tali, I felt wretched so all I could think about was the upcoming birth, looking forward to seeing the fruit of all the aches and pains. This time, it all seems surreal and I can even forget that a big thing is about to occur.

A part of feeling so good has been thinking that I can do whatever I want rather than resting. This has led to packing my schedule tighter than might be helpful. I was thinking this morning that if others looked in and saw all that we've had going on, they might either think that I am absolutely crazy or think that I must really have it together to be able to do so much. Let me go on record as saying that I very well might be crazy and I in no way have anything "all together." The fact is that I couldn't be serving in any way at all without the Lord's grace and mercy, my husband's care, and the invaluable help that my parents give me. I am so blessed to be receiving so much help! For example, in preparing for a meeting last week the Lord gave me peace and I didn't feel frazzled to make things just perfect. My parents vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, cooked for me. Yesterday my husband did numerous projects and even mopped the floor! Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge that there's nothing great in me to be impressed by; far from it! I am just receiving a lot of help and that is a gift from the Lord.

And still, amidst all of the help and care, I can lose focus and joy. I can quickly forget the gift that it is to be able to serve and start thinking about myself. I become overwhelmed thinking, "how am I ever going to be ready for this baby to come when I've got so much going on?" While it's true that I do need to be prioritizing rest a bit more, it's even more true that I need to trust God. He is always faithful and He will not stop being faithful, whatever the circumstances may be. So if I don't get some newborn diapers bought or the car seat cleaned or my hospital bag packed, it will not be the end of the world. God has all ready met my greatest need in sending Jesus to save me from His wrath. How will He not also, along with Him, graciously give me all things that I need? That is the truth that I want to rest in today.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taming the Tongue

I generally don't think of myself as a gossiper. Who does? But several weeks ago, my husband was confessing a specific incident where he thought he had painted someone in a bad light by a comment that he made about them. He shared that he thought that this was gossip and that he needed to follow up with appropriate individuals out of repentance, and be more careful only to speak words that build up. Mind you, I didn't even think that the incident he was referring to was gossip; it seemed to me that he was only re-telling about something that happened. The Lord convicted me though, that gossip is just what Josh had said-something that has the potential to "paint someone in a bad light." Whether or not it actually does that isn't the point. So...how much of my speech is gossip?

This quote by Spurgeon's devotional, "Morning & Evening," from November 27th gets right to the heart of it.

"Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of the Lord's people should be very precious in our sight, and we should count it shame to help the devil to dishonour the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah's wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond-SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN."

Lord, help me to speak evil of no man today!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quick Life Update

This is probably not the best time to blog given that I've got water on the stove attempting to boil, a daughter who is nearing the stairs, and only a couple of minutes to spare. But I haven't updated in forever and I figure that if I don't update more regularly no one will read so....

Really quickly:

*Thank you for your prayers for my retreat! The Lord met me and I was refreshed in my soul as well as encouraged for this next season.

*Thank you for your prayers for Tali. We found out that she has a sinus infection & she is not feeling well but is hopefully on the road to recovery.

* I am storing up about a million posts in my head and I hope that at some point soon I'll have time to type them out. Until then, enjoy the Lord's all sufficient grace today!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Retreat Day!

Today I am off for a much anticipated retreat. I would love your prayers for the following:

1) That I would have fresh affection for the Savior and His work on the cross for me.
2) That I would be filled with wisdom from the Lord to evaluate the specific priorities of my devotional life, my marriage, parenting, and managing the home.
3) That God would show me practical ways to pursue growth in each of the above areas, particularly as it pertains to this next season with a new baby.
4) For energy & focus, as I am lacking in both these days!
5) For Tali: she's got a horrible cold that may be turning into something worse.
6) For the Trainor family: they all have a terrible stomach flu. (Yuck.)

Thank you so much for praying! The Lord has been kind to give me this time and I want to maximize it for His glory. Apart from His grace, I know that I won't accomplish anything meaningful but I have hope that He will help me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brush Those Teeth!


Tali signing "toothbrush."
Isn't she just so stinkin' cute???

p.s.-She hasn't had any tremors in the past 2 days so I ended up canceling her appointment. I think it's pretty likely that they are just big "shivers" from her getting cold. She has really horrible circulation (she wears 2 long sleeve onesies and a sweater most days but her hands and cheeks are still icy). Anyway, thank you for your prayers. We are grateful!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

One Year Stats

Miss Talitha showing off her new gloves & hat (that Mommy accidentally put on backwards!)
We took Little Missy in on Monday for her one year check up. She is a healthy, growing girl and aside from screaming and crying all throughout the visit, things went well. :) Below are some things that we learned about her current stats and other fun Tali facts.

Weight: just under 22 lbs (a little above 50th percentile)
Height: 29 inches (we think...we forgot to write it down)
Words: Ma Ma, Da Da, MahMa (Grandma), Bay-buh (baby), aye (hi), bye, wawa (water), bah (bottle), baa (bath), buh (brother), Puh (Pops), mayyy (mail)
Signs: Daddy, Mommy, Grandma, Grandpa, Baby, ball, eat, more, please, thank you, drink, bottle, star, light, car, sleep, rain, tree, play, where is it, (I can't remember what else)
Communication: Tali loves to let you know what she's thinking. Yesterday I was trying to give her a sippy cup with water in it and she kept frowning and shaking her head. She kept doing the "milk" sign to me until I finally said, "Do you want some milk?" She got a huge smile on her face and nodded her head, "yes."
Favorite Books: "Who's Making That Noise," "Sisters," "All Around"
Naps: It depends on the day, but she's still taking two (a little over an hour in the am, anywhere from 1-1.5 in the afternoon)
Bedtime: 7:00pm in crib and falls asleep around 7:30pm until about 7:00am (she does wake up in the middle of the night at times but is able to happily babble until she falls back to sleep)
Favorite Activities: dancing to music, spending time with Daddy, going to get the mail, seeing her friends, playing in her baby gate, rocking her baby, pretending to feed her baby, playing at Grandpa & Grandma's, drinking her vanilla soy milk
New Skills: is starting to stand without holding onto anything, has taken a couple of steps

That's the update for now! Have a wonderful weekend.

p.s.-We've finally generated two strong possibilities for baby boy names: Connor David and Joshua Owen. If we do Connor, we'll call him just that. If we go with Joshua Owen, we'll call him Joshua Owen. We'll probably just wait until we see his sweet little face till we decide.



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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Lord Establishes Our Steps

"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Well, a slight change of plans. Lord willing, I will be taking the retreat at some point before the baby is born but today is not the day. I am content in knowing that we can plan all that we want but ultimately it is the Lord who establishes our steps. When it's re-scheduled I'll be sure to ask for prayer again.

p.s.-So far Tali hasn't had any tremors in her chin. Thank you for the prayers.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayer Requests

Tomorrow I'm taking a personal retreat to spend time being refreshed in God's Word and to evaluate the different priorities that God has given me for this season of my life & the season when the baby is here. I would love your prayers! Would you pray for the following:

1) That I would have fresh affection for the Savior and His work on the cross for me.
2) That I would be filled with wisdom from the Lord to evaluate the specific priorities of my devotional life, my marriage, parenting, and managing the home.
3) That God would show me practical ways to pursue that growth in each of the areas I'm seeking to evaluate.

Thank you so much! Also, on another note, I would love prayers for Tali. She has been having this weird tremor-like thing happening with her chin. It started out happening when she would first wake up from a nap and now it is getting longer and happening much more frequently. We mentioned it to the Dr. at her one year appointment and she said that it's probably just an immature nervous system. But, as her mom, I'm concerned that it might be something more given that it's happening more frequently. Please pray that the Lord would heal her and that He'd give her dr. wisdom when I take her in on Monday to double check on things.

Thank you for your prayers!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Worshiping Him Alone

We talk a lot around Sovereign Grace Ministries about loving the Gospel (Christ's dying work on the cross on our behalf) above all else. We want to bow our hearts to Jesus alone. As David Powlison puts it (and this is a paraphrase), we all worshipers and we all worship something. If we're not worshiping Jesus, then what are we actively worshiping? What is ruling our hearts, what are we bowing down to at any given moment in the day? If we're not bowing to Jesus, then we're worshiping an idol, a false god that will not satisfy.

My idol of choice tends to be love of ease. I want things to be easy. I want life to be a resort. Essentially, I want every day to be like my beautiful honeymoon in Maui with my wonderful husband: warm weather, bright sun, the ocean, falling more & more in love, no responsibilities, no worries, no laundry, no cooking, no tiredness, no messy house to clean. You might think I'm nuts to want this and you're right, I sort of am. But be honest, don't you want life to be like a resort? How do you respond when it's not?

My response is usually to complain or to get angry when things aren't easy. I'm bowing down to the idol of ease, worshiping that instead of worshiping God. Lately my temptation has been to do this complaining more inwardly than outwardly, but it still shows that I'm worshiping something other than Christ. It's true that it's uncomfortable to be 8 months pregnant and bending over all the time to care for my sweet one year old. It's true that I'm tired and I don't feel like cooking. But none of that changes the fact that because Christ died and saved me from my sins, I should be the most grateful and joyful person in the world. My heart should be bowing before Him and not the idol of ease. I am forgiven and loved by God! I am not condemned and separated from God any longer! I am reconciled to God because of the blood of Jesus. He alone is worthy of my worship. I want to bow down and worship Him, not my idol of ease that will never satisfy.

Even the warm sun in Maui is only a fleeting satisfaction. The joy of living for Christ is eternal. Let's bow our hearts to Him today and not to the false idols that cannot satisfy.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Thank you, Pops & Grammy!




Dear Pops & Grammy,
I love the pretty birthday flowers that you sent me. I am having so much fun sniffing at them and playing with them. They are so bright and beautiful. Thank you for loving me and blessing me on my birthday! Love, Tali

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

He Is Always At Work

Once the baby is born, my time in God's Word will be shortened for a while and I want to seize the opportunity that I have now to dig a little deeper into scripture. This morning, I was debating what to start studying and the Lord brought to my mind a great resource that I was given on Esther. I am always struggling to trust that God's sovereign plan is actually a good one (especially when what He's doing doesn't make sense to me or I can't see His hand at work) so I know that the book of Esther will be instructive for me.

Today, I read the following in Iain Duguid's commentary on Esther & Ruth:

"...we may well have no idea what God is doing. He may seem hidden and remote, refusing to answer our prayers and to give us what we so earnestly ask of him. Wait! The end of our story has not yet been told, and who knows how the pieces of the jigsaw that at present seem to have no logical connection with one another will ultimately come together? Even though we cannot see God acting, it does not follow that he is not doing anything. God's work is not all slam-bang action; sometimes it is a quiet faithfulness to his promises in the seemingly ordinary providences of life, bringing about in the hearts of his people what he has purposed."

Whatever our circumstances are today, God is acting. We may not see what He's doing or understand the "why" behind it, but He really is at work. And when God is working, He always works for our good (Romans 8:28). I'm greatly encouraged by that reminder and hope that you are as well! May we look for His active work today and trust Him even when it's not clear what He's up to.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Tali!


Enjoying her first sugar rush ever

Yesterday was our sweet girl's first birthday. It is hard to describe the varied emotions and range of thoughts that Josh & I experienced as we celebrated our daughter turning one. There has just been so many changes in her over the course of year! The time has gone so quickly and each month has been filled with more fun and more gratitude towards God for the gift of our baby girl. We never deserve any of God's blessings but I feel even more undeserving when I consider the blessing of Tali. She is just such a gift to us! When I look at her, I am reminded of God's undeserved kindness on our lives. Not only did God choose to save us from His wrath by pouring it out on His Son, He has richly blessed us with so many good things.

Next week she has her one year appointment. I'll update then about all the new things she's doing. Until then, happy birthday, Tali!

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Little Pumpkin



A couple of Mondays ago, Josh & I took Tali to a very small (and I mean small!) pumpkin patch. She adores anything that she can stand up against so she loved the pumpkins. She especially enjoyed trying to eat the small gourds. :) Unfortunately, it started to rain not long after we arrived, but we were able to snap some pretty cute pictures before that happened (but no pics of the gourd eating).

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What is God's Greatest Good?

"It is difficult for us to see God's hand of love in the adversities and heartaches of life because we persist in thinking, as the world does, that happiness is the greatest good. Thus we tend to evaluate all our circumstances in terms of whether or not they produce happiness. Holiness, however, is a greater good than happiness, so God arranges and orchestrates circumstances to produce holiness before happiness. He is more concerned about our eternal than our temporal welfare and more concerned about our spiritual than our material welfare. So all the trials and difficulties, all the heartaches, disappointments, and humiliations come from His loving hand to make us partakers of His holiness." (Jerry Bridges, "Transforming Grace")

As I read this quote in during my quiet time yesterday, my heart resounded with a strong "amen." It's true; I evaluate whether something in my life is good or bad in the very same way that those who don't know Christ do-based on whether or not something makes me happy. God doesn't look at my life that way, though. There are many situations that I wouldn't have chosen for myself because they don't seem to bring much happiness in the moment. But, God cares more about conforming me into the image of His Son than He does my temporal happiness. Being conformed more into the image of His Son, will ultimately bring me the most joy anyway! As John Piper so often talks about, God's glory and our joy do not have to be two separate things. God intends that they be one! We get the greatest joy when we are most satisfied in Christ. And we're most satisfied in Him when we are becoming more like Him, when we are reflecting His holiness rather than living for temporal joys.

Lord, help me to see Your loving hand in every challenge that I face this week. Help me to find joy in the process of sanctification, knowing that nothing else can satisfy me but You!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Suffering When Tempted

"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:17,18

I read these verses earlier this week in my quiet time/devotions. They are obviously jam-packed with meaning on a number of levels. Probably the most important thing in them is the reminder that Jesus Christ came as a propitiation for our sins, taking on the wrath of God that we deserved that we might know peace with God. That is reason to stop and worship! But this week, what God impressed upon my heart were the words "he himself has suffered when tempted." I started thinking about all of the suffering of Christ and let's be honest, there was a lot of suffering in His life, particularly the suffering of His death. The suffering that He endured while tempted was deeper than any suffering I've ever known or will know. As He awaited the cruel death before Him, He prayed to His father, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me." I can't imagine the variety of temptations that He faced in that moment: despair, fear, the desire to run away, etc. He was suffering so much that He sweat drops of blood. Still, Jesus said, "Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He did not give in to those temptations but honored His father.

When I'm tempted to sin by my own desire (James 1:14) I can sometimes think that it is huge suffering to resist. Or when I give in to the sin and later repent, I can think that there was so much suffering involved in turning. But what is my suffering when tempted compared to the suffering of Jesus on my behalf when He was tempted? As I consider His suffering and the ways that He was tempted, I am humbled and put in my place. My sufferings during temptations suddenly do not seem so looming in comparison with His.

May we worship Him with gratitude as we consider how our God was willing to go through extreme suffering and temptation on our behalf. And may that bring us comfort as we go to Him when we're tempted. He is truly able to help.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Pretender

One of my favorite things about this month has been Tali's newfound love for pretending. After she finishes her bottle, she promptly puts it by her baby's mouth and lets her have a sip. When she's eating her lunch, she'll periodically stop to turn around and give the bear on her high chair a bite of her food. It is so much fun to watch her play!

Giving the bear a Cheerio


Sharing her sippy cup with Baby



This one has nothing to do with pretending, but isn't it just plain cute??

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ma Ma Ma

Tali has decide to start speaking with her voice and not just her hands. While the sign language is definitely fun, this is even better. However, it is a bit challenging when the little dear is supposed to be in her crib sleeping and instead I hear her belting out "Ma Ma Ma Ma" at the top of her lungs! My heart says, "She's calling for me with an actual name" and wants to go pick her up. But, my tired body and my head says, "That girl needs her rest and so do you." So I'm off to the couch to pray that she falls asleep soon and stops calling me with that sweet little voice of hers. We both need a little rest time.

UPDATE later in the afternoon: it took her over an hour to fall asleep. This girl is just so unpredictable!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Personal What?

My hubby is off on a "personal" retreat for the next couple of days. (By "personal" I don't mean that he's going to go take naps and watch the World Series...although I'm sure that would be fun for him! It's just called a "personal retreat" because he will be alone and his agenda will be one that is aiming to refresh himself spiritually & to study.) I'm so grateful that he truly wants to watch his "life and doctrine closely" and so is willing to take a couple of days out of the normal routine to go and pray, study, and evaluate his own soul and ministry. He said that he had heard from another pastor that it can be tempting at times to think of a personal retreat as selfish but that, in truth, it's a very loving thing to do. It's loving because as he draws near to the cross and is freshly aware of what God has called him to, our family and Sovereign Grace Church are the beneficiaries! And so, while it is never fun to have him away, I'm praying and thanking God for this time that Josh has. If you think of it, please join me in praying for him!

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Easy Baked Potato Soup


These days, I am feeling so tired that I don't even care what a meal tastes like; I just want it to be easy to fix. When I found this recipe in "The Joy of Hospitality" it definitely fit my qualifications for easy: ingredients that I actually have on hand, little chopping, short prep & short cooking time. What I didn't expect was that it would be so good!

Baked Potato Soup (serves 4-5)
2 large baking potatoes
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3 T. thinly sliced green onion
4 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup flour
4 slices bacon, crumbled


1) Bake potatoes at 435 for 40-60 minutes. Cut in half and scoop out the middle. Set it aside.
2) Cook onion & butter in a soup pot until butter is melted.
3) Stir in flour, salt, and pepper; add milk. Cook on medium until thick and bubbly; stir often or it will stick to bottom of pot.
4) Add potato and 1/2 cup cheese, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Break up any large potato clumps.
5) Serve topped w/bacon & the remaining cheese.

Have a wonderful weekend!

p.s.-Please pray for Tali. She's got some weird fever with no other symptoms. Thanks!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Greatest Good

The Lord has been working on my heart lately in the area of living for God's glory and not for what I want. I'm fairly convinced that this is the long-standing lesson that He is trying to teach me each and every day. In one particular life circumstance that is not at all what I would choose, Josh has been encouraging me to think about how God might want to bring good out of it. To be honest, I have had a really hard time thinking of anything. I mustered up a couple of thoughts but all that I could see from my vantage point was one bad thing after another.

As I mentioned this to some friends yesterday and asked for their input, the Lord gave me great help. I shared, "Really, the only thing remotely good that I can see for myself in this is that it's leading to sanctification." My friend, Elisabeth, kindly shared this thought: really there is no greater good than my sanctification. It is precisely in the circumstances that we wouldn't choose where God reveals to us how dependent we are on Him. It is in the situations that are hardest that we generally grow the most. My sanctification (aka, being conformed more into the image of Christ) brings God great glory and magnifies the amazing beauty of the Gospel. This brings me great hope as I look at my circumstance.

No, I would not have chosen this circumstance but God did, and He always knows what is best. Even though I've thought that greater good would be done if I could just have things my way (on my terms, when I want them, etc) it's simply not true. The greatest good is that God be glorified through my sanctification. It's not easy or necessarily fun but it is worth it because He is worth it.

As I fight to want God's way and not my own, I've been encouraged by knowing that what God plans and chooses for me really is best.

"...the most important things on our agenda weren't planned by us. God planned them. The most significant moments of our lives are moments we wouldn't have chosen to have. God chose them for us." (Paul Tripp, JBC article)

He knows better than I do. May He be glorified in the painful process of sanctification!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We Love Mondays!



(Here is Tali, enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Sorry-we failed to get any pics of her with dirt in her mouth. Probably because I was too busy frantically digging it out of her cheeks...)

While most people in the world eagerly await Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as "the weekend," at the Fenska's, we can't wait for Mondays. Monday=Daddy's day off=Mommy's morning out=working on projects=special family time. We love Mondays!

Josh has been doing a fabulous job of planning for our special day as a family, thinking of fun things that both a seven month pregnant wife and an 11 month daughter will enjoy. As I've said before, he's the best! This Monday we went to one of our favorite spots by the river to enjoy a fall picnic. We had a ton of fun talking, taking pictures, and watching Tali scoot around picking up dirt clods and eating them (sadly, no joke). The poor girl is getting some more teeth and will basically stick anything that she can find in her mouth for a little comfort. I'm not so sure the dirt eased the pain though!

I am so grateful for my husband who works hard to plan for our day together. Aside from Sundays, it's always the highlight of my week!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Gift of Family


Comparing "baby bellies" with my cousin, Carrie

God is able to do amazing things in any and every family. I am particularly aware of that today as I reflect on the grace of God that I see at work in my cousins that I had the blessing of seeing a couple weekends ago. My Grandma, Aunt Patti, Tara & her girls, Meg, and Carrie all came for a visit. It was a blast to be with them and encouraging as well.

When God saved me from my sins back in eighth grade, it was not very common at that time for many in our family to talk about the Lord or what He was teaching them or what was going on at their church. There weren't comments like, "I've been praying for..." or "I know that God can..." Don't get me wrong, we had wonderful times together and the atmosphere wasn't necessarily bad. We loved each other very much, it was just that God wasn't really as much "in the picture." But, by His grace, things have changed! It is easy to see that Jesus is an ever growing integral part of their lives. God has done an amazing work in my cousins!

I've loved the times when I've talked with my cousin, Jenny, and we've had a chance to share about what the Lord is teaching us or when Meghan has given me a prayer request, or hearing about Sam & Carrie's baptism or the ways that Tara is serving in her church. Josh & I love getting to talk with Bill about what he's learned from being in ministry or seeing the difference in Jess over the years as he's changed to live for Christ. God is at work in the lives of my cousins and their spouses!

I could go on much more about other family members or more specifics on their testimonies, but suffice it to say that I just feel so blessed to have the family that I have. I know many who face significant challenges when they are with extended family, some even getting shunned for their faith. And that simply has not been the case for me. My faith has been strengthened and challenged as I have watched the work of Christ on the cross transform my cousins. What a reason to rejoice in the Lord today and to be grateful for my family!

p.s.-If you're part of a family where God isn't very central, let the testimony of how He's changed my cousins be an encouragement for you to pray. Pray that the Lord would save. Pray that He would radically change the lives of your family members. Nothing is impossible with God!

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Monday, October 8, 2007

11 Month Update


Our little sweet girl is now an eleven month old. It's hard to believe that she's almost been in this world for an entire year. Time really does fly when you're having fun! We are so grateful to God for the gift of Tali.

Here are some Tali facts for those of you who don't get the pleasure of playing with her each day like we do. :)

Favorite Foods: anything Daddy & Mommy are eating, if it comes off of their plate
Clothing Size: 12 months on most things but is starting to fit some 18 months for pants
Hair: Curly when wet or in humid weather, straight when dry
Eye Color: Yet to be determined
Favorite Books: Anything new or anything with flaps
Naps: 2 a day for about an hour or 1.5 hours each
Favorite Activities: getting mail, pulling up on anything and everything, going outside, seeing other babies, playing with her school bus, trying to climb up the stairs, eating
Things that make her laugh: Daddy, dogs barking, someone else laughing, being tickled
Signs: Daddy, eat, drink, more, please, all done, cheerio, bottle, ball, bath, airplane, flower, where is it, bye-bye, (sometimes does: Mommy, Grandma/Grandpa, baby)
Noises: "woof, woof" for dogs, "rarrr, rarrr" for teddy bears/lions, "eee, eee" for monkeys
Girlie Things: points to barrettes most days for me to put one in her hair, pulls out clothes and brings them to me to put on her, hugs anything that's stuffed, loves to give kisses

That's our Tali. I can't even imagine what all she'll be doing a month from now. This girl changes at lightning speed! Stay tuned; maybe next month she'll be walking...

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Reflecting His Image Each Day

As a church, we're going through the book of Genesis right now. It has been a rich series and a refreshing look at this first book of the Bible. Today, my husband preached an excellent message on Genesis 1:27:

"So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them."

Josh's main point was that being created in God's image should shape the way that we view and live our lives. One aspect of being a created being is that I have a Creator. (Seems obvious, but it's important!) This should shape the way that I view myself. I am not the center of the universe and I am not God. I was created. The wonder of this miracle of creation should lead me to stand in awe of God. Also, viewing my life through this lens should function as a means to guard against complaining. How dare I, as a created being, demand things from the God who created me! I owe Him my life. He owes me nothing.

Being created in God's image means that we have a dignity and a purpose. This point stood out to me as vitally important. I was created to bring God glory through reflecting and representing Him. How mind boggling! The very God who placed the stars in the heavens and knows them each by name, the very God who created each cell and organ and molecule inside our bodies, the very God who holds the heavens in place, this God chose to have His image reflected and represented by people like me. This means that each and every moment of my life is an opportunity to reflect and represent God. Viewing life through this lens makes my day seem a lot more purposeful!

Josh also reminded us of the bad news that we're never going to reflect and represent God's image perfectly. We are sinful creatures. But the good news is that Jesus came and perfectly bore God's image; He was the very image of God. Jesus took on the wrath of God that I deserved for not reflecting His image perfectly. Jesus stands ready to give me grace to change as I seek to image God's image to the world.

As I walk through this week, loving my husband and my daughter, I want to think more about the way that I mirror God's image. When my neighbors see me, what kind of representation of God are they seeing? When I train Tali, am I reflecting the image of my patient and loving God? When I work on seemingly mundane tasks around the house, how accurately am I reflecting the image of my joyful God? I pray that God will give me, and you, grace this week to seek to be the clearest image reflectors of God that we can be.

p.s.-If you've got some time, check out the message. It's a goodie!!!! (http://www.sgclife.org/tools_for_growth/recent_sermons.aspx)

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Standing Up





It's official. Tali no longer enjoys merely sitting on the floor, happily reading her books. Now, in order for any "fun" to be had in her life, she thinks she needs to be standing. And so, with wobbly little legs, she pulls up. Here are some shots of her latest milestone. Oh, and one picture of her enjoying her newest trick: climbing up the stairs.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Home Again

Enjoying a walk after our yummy dinner at "Fried Green Tomatoes"


Re-visiting the Arboretum where we got engaged



Where we were blessed to stay: Pine Hollow Inn, Galena

The Lord was so kind to richly bless our time away. Josh and I felt overwhelmed by how truly good the time was; it even exceeded our expectations. We drank-in the beauty of our bed&breakfast out in the woods, ate some yummy food, played Dutch Blitz and Speed Scrabble, revisited the arboretum where we got engaged, had wonderful fellowship, talked about goals for our marriage, worked on generating some names for baby boy, checked out quaint little shops, got soaked in a downpour, and enjoyed just being in love. God was so kind to us and gave us many sweet memories to treasure. Thank you for your prayers!

One of the things that I most appreciated about our time was that God filled me with fresh faith for all of the good things that He has in store for our marriage. It was a joy to fellowship with Josh about how God has and will continue to change us, through the power of the Gospel, to help our marriage more reflect Christ and the Church. After all, that's the ultimate purpose for our marriage. It was good to be reminded of that and to think about how I can better reflect that by faithfully and joyfully living out my role as a wife.

I am so grateful for Josh's care for me and the way that he encouraged me during our trip to trust God for growth in our marriage and in other aspects of my life. It can sometimes become much easier for me to dwell on my sin than to dwell on the kindness and mercy and grace of God, shown on the cross. How it must grieve the Lord when we are so busy looking inward that we fail to look upward and worship Him for the redemption He's purchased.

On another note, we came back to a daughter that has suddenly decided she needs to stand up all of the time and now even tries to climb on top of things. What happened to my little baby? Thankfully, I've got another coming. :)

That's it for now!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

And We're Off!!!


We're packing the car (or more accurately, Josh is) and about to take off for our little get-away! After fighting colds all week, it seems like the two of us are healthy and Tali's just a bit under the weather. Hopefully, she continues towards 100%.

I'll post some pics when we return from Galena. We'd love prayers that the Lord would richly bless our time, drawing us closer together and that Tali would be happy with Grandpa Red and Grandma Billye. Thanks!

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Trusting His Promises

Josh & I have been been reading through Genesis in our quiet times/devotions. I am so grateful that God is giving me fresh eyes to look at this book anew and to benefit from it. In particular, I have been struck by how faithful God is to keep His promises.

Today I read Genesis 21, where God grants Abraham & Sarah their promised child, Isaac. Verse 1 stuck out to me: "The LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as He had promised." Much earlier, (Genesis 15) the Lord had promised Abraham that his seed would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. When Abraham was a whopping ninety-nine years old, God reiterated the promise to him, but it had not yet been fulfilled. Abraham was one hundred years old when he saw God's promise fulfilled in the birth of Isaac.

I just love in Genesis 21:1 where it says that God did as He had said and did as He had promised. This is the God we serve. He is a promise-keeping God. What seemed like an outlandish and impossible promise was fulfilled by the faithful God. He always keeps His word and all of His promises prove faithful. As I consider that truth, I'm filled with fresh faith today to trust Him. Why would I doubt that God will give me grace to fight temptations to sin when He has promised me in 1 Cor. 10:13 that God will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear? Why would I doubt that God will help me to grow in being a loving wife when He has promised in Philippians 1:6 that He will bring to completion the good work that He has started in me? Why would I fear the changes that will come with caring for two children instead of just one when God has plainly told me in 2 Cor. 12:9 that His strength is made perfect in weakness? God always proves good on His word so I can bank on His promises. What hope and joy there is in believing that truth!

May you be encouraged today as you seek to trust Him, knowing that our God is a God who faithfully keeps the promises in His Word!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Flowers


Our girl loves flowers. And so, over and over again throughout the day we see and hear her going "sniff, sniff" ("flower" in sign language). It's hilarious and very sweet. Tonight, we had a friend come over and after waving to him, she quickly pointed at the flowers on the counter and went "sniff, sniff." It's very important to Tali that everyone who enters our house sees the flowers and loves them as much as she does.

I want to appreciate the beauty of what God has made like my daughter. There is not a day that goes by that Tali does not beg to go outside (aka: point outside, sniff-sniff, then whine a bit) and look at the flowers. They absolutely captivate her. How many times do we simply become familiar with a beautiful flower, or a sunset, or a cool breeze? And to think that God made it all.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 19:1

The beauty of what Tali is sniffing about is a testimony about God. All that He has made loudly declares that there is a God and He is good. So sniff away, sweet girl, and maybe your mommy will join you.

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Winning My Heart, One Potato at a Time

My husband most definitely knows how to bless me and make me fall in love with him all over again. What did he do this time? He not only went to the grocery store for me in search of things like "exactly two pounds of potatoes" and "ten ounces of pearl onions" and brought home each and every item on the list, he then helped me slice and chop it all. And he did it with joy, despite the fact that he is possibly even more tired than I am right now.

It made me think about how often I take for granted that God has blessed me with the best husband in the world and how much I lack the servant-mindset of Christ. Josh actually enjoys serving me; it's not a chore for him. I, on the other hand, can adopt a "martyr" mentality about serving him. I think I deserve some huge accolades if I actually keep the kitchen relatively clean and do a couple of loads of laundry for him. Not only do I think I deserve praise, I think I've done my quota and can't possibly be expected to do any more for the day. It's not an attitude of delighting in serving my husband like he delights in serving me. It's most definitely not the humble, outward-focused attitude of Christ, described in Philippians 2.

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

Even though this mindset is one that I am often far from possessing, I am blessed to have a husband who is modeling this for me daily. I don't want to take that gift for granted.

Thank you for the ways that you sacrificially serve me, Babe!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

We Love This Season!



Cool nights, hot tea, and cute jean jackets. Around our house, fall is a time to be celebrated! Tali loves to play outside and isn't quite sure what she thinks of this change in temperature, but she loves her jean jacket and that seems to help quite a bit. A couple days ago she scooted over to the spot where her clothes are stored and she pulled out this jacket. She quickly brought it over to me, pointed at the jacket, and started babbling. I said, "Do you want Mommy to put your pretty jacket on you?" She nodded and I put it on her. Then she proceeded to proudly touch it and point to various spots on the jacket, grinning from ear-to-ear and babbling away.

Thank you, Andrea & Aaron for this adorable jacket that we are hoping magically fits her for at least the next five years of her life. :)

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Find Mommy


I didn't expect to love each and every month of motherhood a little more than the last, but so far that's the case. Having a 10 month old is the best! Each day Tali does something new. I love getting up in the morning and anticipating what new and fun things she will bring to my day.

This week the new thing for her has been the "Find Mommy" game. I run (as much as a six month pregnant woman can) into a room and start calling, "Where's your mommy? Can you find Mommy?" And pretty soon I hear the clomp of my little scooter giggling and going as fast as she can towards my voice until at last she finds me. She starts waving her arms and grins ear-to-ear with pride. It is so much fun to play with her.

I am an imperfect (or more honestly put-a sinful) parent. And yet, I delight in watching my daughter live and learn. It is so amazing to think that God, the perfect and Holy Father, delights in us more than we could ever delight in our own kids. It's definitely not because we're cute like Tali, but because He has made us His children though the redemptive work of His Son. What a reason to praise Him!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Beginnings

Even though I'm no longer officially a "student," something inside me gets really excited about the start of a new school year. I'm not a teacher, I'm not in school, I don't have any children of school age, but I still feel as if a new beginning has arrived with the start of a new school year. So as the children around my neighborhood march off with their new backpacks and cool lunch boxes on their way to a brand new classroom, I want to have a beginning as well-sort of my very own "something new". And so enters this blog.

There's no big theme or mission I'm out accomplish really, aside from keeping friends & family up-to-date on our lives. I want to share how God is at work in our home, teaching me to trust Him in the "little" things of being a wife and mom. So you can expect pictures of Tali, posts about great date nights with my hubby, and just the every day sort of thing that God is teaching me. I'm planning on posting every Friday and possibly some throughout the week, depending on time. My hope and prayer is that this blog can echo the heart of Ephesians 4:29 and speak "only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Thank you for reading!

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