Sunday, August 17, 2008

12 Years in Love

Celebrating 12 years of marriage today!


"This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes."
Psalm 118:23


"Come let us worship the Lord, and let us magnify His name together."
Psalm 34:3
Isn't it good how God can be sometimes?
Just rejoicing and basking
in His exceedingly abundant grace and goodness to us.
Our "secret"?
During our wedding ceremony,
we had sung a song by Steven Curtis Chapman:
"My Redeemer is Faithful and True".

It was the perfect song for us
as we started on our grand adventure,
and continues to be
our favorite "love song".

We had both walked many years with the Lord separately,
and now were leaning on His proved faithfulness to each us over.
We knew that our success as a couple
was not going to be dependent
on our love for each other
or the things we did or didn't do.
But our success lay solely on the shoulders of our Redeemer
who has promised to be for us all that we would ever need,
who has promised to redeem us from who we were and
make us into the image of the Son with each passing day.

Our marriage prayer is that we would continue to
look to Jesus in all things and not look to
each other for what only our Redeemer can and will provide.

The lyrics:
As I look back on this road I've traveled,
I see so many times He carried me through.
If there's one thing I've learned in my life,
My Redeemer is faithful and True.

My Redeemer is faithful and True,
everything He has said He will do,
and every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My heart rejoices when I read the promise
"there is a place that I'm preparing for you",
I know someday I'll see my Lord face to face,
'cause my Redeemer is faithful and true.

My Redeemer is faithful and true,
everything He has said he will do,
and every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

And in every situation,
He has proved His love for me.
When I lack the understanding, He gives more grace to me.

My Redeemer is faithful and true,
every thing He has said he will do,
and every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

Last night, my honey surprised me (Jan) and took me to dinner on the Queen Mary with another couple who share our same anniversary. We went to a dinner theater called "Tibbie's" and had a very fun time. Lots of laughing.

Also, last weekend, our children with the help of my mother planned a surprise party for us with a few of our friends. We spent a very fun Saturday afternoon hanging out with each other and playing games and eating delicious food.

Life just doesn't get much better.

All this and Jesus too!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Annual School Pictures


We took pictures this morning,
hoping to get some good "school" pictures of each of the children
as well as a good group shot.

This was the first good one I've gotten of Jonathan
since he was born!
My how grown up he looked to me this morning!


Our Annie takes naturally beautiful photos.
I rarely have to retouch any of her photos, beyond cropping.



This one of Molly and Annie was sweet.
Such giggly girls.
They have sure enjoyed playing and playing and playing together this past year.
It's good to have a best friend who lives in your same house!


I always like to take one of the girls by themselves.
Every year, it turns out differently.
They are growing so quickly.


This is the one of "the boys".
I am partial to black and white photos.
Just something about them strikes a chord with me.
Not sure what or why.


This one just happened
while I was trying to take Emily's portrait.

Jonathan just kind of stuck himself in and Emily went with it.
My kids enjoy picture taking and for the most part
seem very natural.


This was another one that just happened.
My favorite part of picture day is capturing
all of the candid shots that aren't contrived.
Not sure what we were about to do here,
but Annie and Jonathan were perfectly "posed".
They just happen to suck the very same fingers -
a habit we are desperately trying to break (help!)


After a LOT of shots,

(sneezing!)


"Come on, just 25 more!"
(notice Molly's face . . .
she always takes me seriously,
not sure why.)


We finally got a good one.
I think it will work.



Friday, August 15, 2008

He Speaks!


Earl is the intelligent one in this family.
He has the gift of discernment and can most accurately help us to stay biblically ordered in our family.
I have tried to get him to blog on here all his deep and wonderful thoughts, but he just doesn't have the time when he's "home" from work.
I'm grateful for that,
as there are so many other important things he wants to do with his time . . . like spend time with his wife and children (contented smile).
But I have tried lately to share some of what he has taught on Sundays
with all you millions who read this blog (dripping sarcastic tone intended).

I'd like to share a story
that was very entertaining to us as a body a few weeks ago,
yet also very convicting and thought-provoking.
He wrote it himself.


The Story of the Three Little Theologians


I've been preaching through Romans

and the last few weeks we've been focusing on Romans 1:16-17

and the heart of the good news of Jesus:

a righteousness freely given to us by God.

As I was preparing to preach one week,

this story came to my mind.


Once upon a time there were three little theologians who left home to start their own lives. The first little theologian built a house. He made the foundation out of “desiring” clay, the walls out of “doing” bamboo, and the roof out of “looking” stone. One day a big, bad wolf came along and knocked on his door, saying, “Little theologian, little theologian, let me come in.” The first little theologian said, “Not by the hair of my chinny, chin-chin.” The wolf retorted, “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” So the wolf huffed and he puffed and he blew the first little theologian’s house down and the stone roof fell and crushed the little theologian to death. Then the wolf had a nice bowl of “wishy-washy soup.”


The second little theologian built a house too. He made the foundation out of “doing” bamboo, the walls out of “looking” stone, and the roof out of “desiring” clay. One day a big, bad wolf came along and knocked on his door, saying, “Little theologian, little theologian, let me come in.” The second little theologian said, “Not by the hair of my chinny, chin-chin.” The wolf retorted, “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” So the wolf huffed and he puffed and he blew the second little theologian’s house down and the stone walls fell and crushed the little theologian to death. Then the wolf had a nice little “BLT” – Bible, Legalism, and Torture sandwich.


Lastly, the third little theologian built a house. He made the foundation out of “looking” stone, the walls out of “desiring” clay, and the roof out of “doing” bamboo. One day a big, bad wolf came along and knocked on his door, saying, “Little theologian, little theologian, let me come in.” The third little theologian said, “Not by the hair of my chinny, chin-chin.” The wolf retorted, “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” So the wolf huffed and he puffed and he puffed and he huffed, but he could not blow the little theologian’s house down. When the wolf sat down and cried, the little theologian invited him inside for coffee and some “humble pie.” Many hours later, the wolf left the little theologian’s house no longer a wolf, but a sheep, and this little theologian’s house continued to stand.


The Point of This Parable (Reader's Digest Version)

Our spiritual lives are often compared to the building of a house in Scripture (for example, Matthew 7:24-27). We can try to build our spiritual houses with materials that are Biblical or with materials that are un-Biblical. These "materials" are truths we are to believe and act upon. Three of the Biblical "materials" or truths that are to be a part of our spiritual houses are: (1) "desiring clay" which is the truth that believers in Jesus should desire God above all things; (2) "doing bamboo" which is the truth that believers in Jesus should submit to the Lordship of Christ and obey His Word; and (3) "looking stone" which is the truth that the gospel calls us to look outside of ourselves to Jesus and His righteousness alone for our acceptance before God. All three of these "materials" or truths must be a part of our lives as Christians to one degree or another, but only one of these truths or "materials" was intended to be the foundation for our spiritual house: "looking stone." If we base our assurance of salvation on anything we do or desire, our foundation will not stand. But if we base our assurance of salvation on what Jesus has done for us and desired in our place, then we have a foundation that can stand the test of any temptation or trial.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. ... not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

(Philippians 3:7-9)

Well, the good news is that now you can actually read Earl's thoughts, as he has entered the "blog world" and will be putting all his wonderful and ponderous musings on-line. You may read his blog here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scenes of Summer

Ahhhh . . . Summer!

Summer is over.
For us.

We went "back to school" in August
after taking 6 weeks off.

But it was a fun summer.



Though we did do lots of fun things,
I guess my 9 year old son got bored.

This was his idea of "fun".
A new decor for our ceiling out of pony tail holders. I was amazed at how long those suckers stuck up there! And I think he was too!!


(I came home from a conference and found the new decor.
Lovely.
Even a saleslady commented on it,
since it is right in our foyer.
Sigh.)
It eventually came down,
after he was "threatened" with a shrinking wallet.



But otherwise,
we kept very busy with spending Fridays at
Grandma's pool
(oftentimes with friends),



experimenting with bubbles ,




reading lots of books in comfortable places,


having friends over for picnics under the trampoline,


and waging water fights while Dad was washing the cars!


Jonathan doesn't care much for water fights so here is where I found him, hiding amidst the laundry basket set out to dry.
(I loved his serious little expression!)


We also amused ourselves by going on a "treasure hunt"
complete with clues,




and a treasure at the end!! (chocolate coins!)



The kids all took swimming lessons for one week and did quite well.
(Jonathan still didn't want to blow bubbles
and would tell his teacher,
"today isn't bubble day", or
"not yet".)




We have loved the summer God gave us.
We have enjoyed the memories and
the days of rest.
We are looking forward to the next "season"
and seeing what God has in store for us.

Blessings on the rest of ya'lls summers!


Budding Interests


This is our oldest daughter, Emily.
She is 11 years old and has more interests than I did at that age.
Her latest interest is jewelry making.
And I think she just may have found her niche.



We had a friend of mine come over one day awhile ago
and show Emily the "basics".

Her dad and I had bought her a fairly large "starter kit" for her birthday,
back in May,
but told her she couldn't open it until she had a lesson.

She was VERY patient
and thoroughly enjoyed

her day with Mrs. Ballsmith.
Mrs. Ballsmith was an excellent teacher
and was so very encouraging

and Emily found it not frustrating in the least
but very enjoyable.

She made the necklace below
for a friend of hers that very first day.

AND I was her first paying customer
as she made a "custom pair" of earrings to match a necklace I had.
(Yes, ladies and gentlemen, she takes custom orders!!)


(Now, I need to learn to photograph these timeless pieces to really show off their beauty and craftsmanship!)



So, now that you have seen some of her work,
feel free to contact her at
ejmilesfamily@verizon.net
and discuss your dreams directly.

She can show you some of what she already has created,
as well as discuss some other possibilities
based on her current supply.

(Emily would like me to mention
that she is still limited in her abilities,

but is seeking to develop her skills and creativity.)

She is currently charging only :
$3.50 for a pair of earrings
$4.50 for a necklace
$4.00 for a bracelet

Oh, and that wonderful friend of ours actually sells her own beautiful jewelry.
Please feel free to visit her site.
Her prices are very reasonable!

Thanks, again, Linda!
It was a very fun day!
(I miss you!)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Christian Parenting. Not.

I've already posted here
on what Christian parenting is.

Now I'd like to post on what Christian parenting is not.

It may seem like a "duh", but I tell ya,
as Earl verbalized what seems like no-brainers,
I realized that I really needed to hear it spelled out.
Sometimes I need my thinking tweeked in a major way!

Here is what Earl spelled out for us a few weeks ago during the "pastor's class":

Christian parenting is not simply:

* Christians who parent
as if whatever a Christian does in parenting is "Christian parenting".

* Christians who follow what their Christian parents did or did not do
as if imitating our parents who are Christians could be called "Christian parenting".

* Christians who call their parenting "Christian"
as if taking the world's viewpoint and ways of parenting and "baptizing" them into Christian forms and labels could be called "Christian parenting".

* Christians who ask the question, HWJP: How Would Jesus Parent?
as if simply asking this question apart from the clear teaching of Scripture could be called "Christian parenting".

* Christians who want their children to be Christians
as if the desire alone makes the practice "Christian parenting".

Christian parenting must be centered around Christ and Christ's Word.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Grandma

Grandma.
What a treat we've had this past week.
Grandma has lived here with us!


My mom (Jan) had shoulder surgery this past Friday and has been staying at our house since Saturday afternoon getting lots of TLC and being constantly entertained.
(Isn't that what everyone wants when they're not feeling well?)

She has taken up residence in our rocking chair by the front window, and we all have helped to keep her ice pack filled and her water cold and the fan going.
Molly has read to her from her favorite Boxcar Children book and has been very attentive to her grandma.

Not sure how restful for her it has been during the day as we have begun to school this week, and between chores and school and getting ready to go places, we can make a lot of noise.

Sunday she slept a lot while we were away at church (checking in by phone), but I think she is beginning to feel better. She has joined us at swim lessons the past two days and sat out front watching the kids do bubbles and stage a western shoot-out.
I've told her she can't go home until she can dress herself (smile), and we're all dreading the day when she leaves, but realize she is probably anxious to get among her own familiar things and routine.

It has been nice having her here. I've enjoyed the quiet evenings to talk a bit before bed, and watching her enjoy her grand children, and getting the blessing of serving her after all of her years of serving me so unselfishly.

We all will get older.
We all will get to the point where we need help with things we didn't before.
How will I handle it?
What will my attitude towards aging be?
It's been good to think through some of these questions.

Mom,
It's been a blessing having you in our home and a privilege to serve you.
Thank you for loving us and being a source of encouragement as you watched our craziness.
Thanks for treating us to lunch after swim lessons today.
Thanks for tucking the kids in and reading them a story last night while Earl was gone and I had a phone call.
Thanks for being an reflection of God's diversity among His creation.

We love you . . . terribly so!



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