Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Celebrating 19 years

My delightful, teddy-bear-of-a-husband decided to surprise me for 
our anniversary this year.
I was right smack in the middle of teaching a drama class at our children's
homeschool program (co-op) when he showed up with these!!!

We really didn't make huge exotic plans for celebrating this year, 
so the flowers were such a lovely surprise.
And my favorite color!!
We did take the time to enjoy an evening out sans children.
Dinner and a movie might seem too overused for an anniversary celebration
for some couples, but we NEVER get to do this.

We had been wanting to try this amazing restaurant just around the corner
from us, and we were not disappointed!!

It's hard to believe that it has been 19 years since our wedding day.
But I am truly blessed to get to do life with this sweet man!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A new 15-year old

April, historically, keeps us busy.
We celebrate no less than 3 birthdays in our immediate family,
2 birthdays in our extended family, 
 and our wedding anniversary in a 12-day span of time.
Toss in Resurrection Sunday some years during that two weeks
and it seems we're celebrating a different event every day!!
We sort of think of it as our 2nd "Christmas season."

Our second daughter celebrates her birthday first.
This year she turned 15.

Not unlike any other family in the world, it is very obvious to us how
much each of our children are unique and different from each other.
They all have the same parents, the same set of genes to pull from,
yet none of them are alike or even close in personality to the others.

"There is one glory of the sun,
and another glory of the moon,
and another glory of the stars:
for one star differs from another star in glory."

~ I Corinthians 15:41

When I stand and gaze up at the black sky, full of stars,
and take in the wonder of the galaxy as a whole,
it initially looks like a great swath of identical creations.
Each very similar to it's neighboring, shimmering, celestial body.

But even our Intelligent Designer's diary, His guide book reveals to us
that each star is uniquely different from the other.
They each have a different purpose, a different design.
Each is a glorious, breathtaking star, yes.
But each has it's own characteristics that make it irreplaceable in the picture as a whole.

Our second daughter has a charm and sweetness that is all her own.
She has a curiosity about the world around her that none of her other siblings have.
Her calm and gentle nature attracts those who are not because it has a soothing
effect on them.
She enjoys working with small children. 
She has the patience for that.
She has endured no less than 3 extended hospital stays in her short life
for completely different, random issues,
but she has always handled those times with grace and perseverance.
We can't wait to see what God is going to do with this young lady's life.
He clearly has a design and purpose for it, and is preparing her
to do mighty things for Him!
We have been so blessed to have her as a part of our family for the last
15 years!!
Happy birthday, Ashlyn!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Resurrection Sunday 2015

We woke up Easter Sunday to the sound of rain pounding on our roof,
but we didn't let that dampen our spirits or steal our joy!

Doesn't everybody have a picture like this once in a while?
The one with the unhappy child who doesn't want to wear a suit and tie,
even after agreeing to it earlier in the week,
even on the Sunday morning we are celebrating?

At least he cooperated enough to join his family!!

Last spring, in March 2014,
our youngest fully understood her need for salvation from her sin nature.
That sin that requires eternal separation from Her Heavenly Father.
She asked Jesus to forgive her and to be her Savior.

But after that decision, when we began encouraging her to think about being baptized,
she refused.
Think tears.
Not in anger or defiance, but tears of fear and anxiety.

Christ never forced anyone to follow Him.
Neither would we.

But we talked with her about what would happen....

.......what motivates us to be baptized..... it pictures our dying to self, our dying to following the world.....
.....and burial of that old life.

.......and our new, eternal life found in Him.
Our new life resurrected and to be lived for Him!!

We prayed for the Lord to take that fear away and for her to want to obey Him because she
loved Him and is so thankful for her salvation.

It took nearly a full year of conversations with her before she randomly blurted out to me in the car
"Mom, I think I'm ready to be baptized.  I'm not afraid anymore.
When can I do it?"

The following Sunday we spoke to our Pastor and began looking at dates available.

The first Sunday open was Easter Sunday.


What a delight it was for our whole family to watch her step so confidently into the water that day.
What a perfect day to remember the joy we can have in the security of knowing we
have our sin forgiven,  our conscience is at peace with God, and that
we have eternal life in Heaven because of this new life!!

{Aryn with our very kind Pastor and his wife,
Dr. and Mrs. Willie Weaver}

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Resurrection Sunday Preparations

We spent the week leading up to Easter Sunday looking for examples of new life!!
I'm constantly God-struck with wonder how the Lord is always revealing Himself and His Good News even in the grandeur of the world around us.
I think it is no mistake that we are seeing trees, and flowers, and grasses waking up at the same time we are remembering the anniversary of His death and subsequent resurrected life.
Those glimpses of hope.
Those promises of change.

This year we made a few little things to remind us of what we are remembering,
and the Biblical symbols we find that point to our Messiah, the Savior of the world.

"Behold, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world."
John 1:29

We also made some the shape of the cross.
To remind us to:

"...NOT be conformed to this world, but be TRANSformed by the renewing of your mind.."

Romans 12:3  

To be formed into the shape, the image, of Christ.

For more family activity ideas to prepare your hearts for Easter, click here.

We have also spent this entire last year preparing for this which just so happened to be possible on Resurrection Day:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring break 2015

Our "Spring Break" this year took place the week leading up to Easter!
I LOVED it!!
I'm not shy about admitting that Easter has become my very favorite Holy Day of the year,
and I was delighted that we had that time to really reflect on the extraordinary gift of salvation we are because of Christ's death on the cross, and His subsequent resurrection.
I want my children to be able to distinguish between spring themes like bunnies, baskets, chocolate candy, and jelly beans from Resurrection Sunday.
I want them to be able to fully embrace the joy we have in being the Easter People.
In being able to live out a changed life because of His power over death and sin!!

So we spent the week reflecting on these things, and intentionally looking for glimpses of new life.
Those things that remind us how as unbelievers, we were living with spiritual death, but how God brings life and joy out of those dead places!

{Warning:  Lots of pictures ahead!}

We spent time sharing an amazing grilled meal at a new friend's home.

We spent one afternoon at the zoo!

On Thursday morning, we went on a nature hike specifically looking
for things newly brought back to life!!

{Here's one!!}

{And another!}

{And another!}

{And another!}

On Thursday evening, my two oldest girls (who also happen to be in my Drama Class at our
homeschool co-op) attended this really lovely musical drama about the Last Supper.
We heard a short monologue from each "disciple" and pondered our own hearts as each one
asked, "Lord, is it I?"