Thursday, March 31, 2011

You're Going to Love This!

This spring break my son, Christopher, and a few of his buddies from Cornerstone went to my mother's in Florida. They spent two days of their vacation making this video with my nephew, Robert Pierre. They edited it with my nephew's name on it because he is a recording artist and they wanted to get his fan base to see it. By the way, you'll see my mom at the end!

I'm not going to embed it so that he can get hits on YouTube. Click on the link and enjoy:

click here

(This is an old picture of Christopher, so that you know which one he is in the video...)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hey, Everyone...Look!

My husband is writing a blog!

Well, actually he's holding a fish in this picture, but I just love his smile in this one, so just in case you don't know my husband, now you do!

Yes, he is entering the world of blogging! I love this - it will be a glimpse into the mind of the man I love! If you look over on the right of my blog, you will see a column that says "My Blog List." Dave's blog is on that list...I just added him today so he should be the top one.

I would like to invite all of you to jump over there once you check in with me. Now I will have some competition in the profound arena, but a little competition is a good thing, right? I don't know if you can access his blog from the church website yet, so this might be your only avenue for the time being...

As for me, every spare second is being spent over at International Aid, as I am working with a group of gals trying to get our murals in the children's classrooms and nurseries finished before the carpet gets laid. So I have very little deep thoughts once I get home. Usually it's something like, "What can I eat and how long until I can go to bed?" That's about the depth of things, so I am giving you all a break this week on my blog. Nothing's wrong, I'm still alive - just busy, busy, busy!

Hope you all are abiding in Christ, and for those of you in my study, you know exactly what that means...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two More Pictures...I Just Can't Help Myself...

Yesterday Richard and Candice came over and I coerced Richard into holding a baby. He didn't protest too much and as you can tell, once he took Norah in his arms, he started glowing like an angel...actually, I made him sit in the light. Sorry, Richard! You really look like a natural, though, don't you think?

Pray for Richard and Candice, as the Lord works through adoption to bring a little one into their family - the sooner, the better, right Candice? We're so excited for you, and now that Richard has proved he can hold a baby without dropping it or throwing up on it, I think he'll do just fine...

And then, what is a day at Grandma's house with out a nap with Grandpa? Dave just has a way with kids...not sure which one was sucking on the pacifier, but either way, they sure look related...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Look Who Spent the Night at Grandma's!

Yesterday afternoon Norah and Ashley came for a sleepover!

Here is Ashley, wide awake.

Here is Norah, sound asleep.

This was more of a photo op than anything! At the end of Norah's bath we put Ashley in for a quick picture. They weren't overly thrilled, but it was cute...

So my daughters and I get the girls bathed and fed and in bed, then my twins head off to bed because they wanted to do the late night feedings. Yes, I said "wanted," and they were superstars, by the way! Back to the story. So Nico and Alex go to bed just as Dave came up from watching basketball in the video room. He was like, "Where are the girls?" I said, "In bed." He starts to head back to their room and I said to him, "One is sound asleep and the other is a bit restless. Don't wake up Ashley." To which he returned to the kitchen and I took this picture.

I know my camera makes his head look funny, but that's what he gets for getting BOTH of the girls up! I had instant deja vu from when my children were babies...Dave cannot let a sleeping baby lie...some things never change...

Today, Morgan stopped by after working at Great Harvest...thus the hat...

Sleeping in their chairs...

And this was taken this morning, right after bath time - clean and happy!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Joy of the Lord - part 3

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold,those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 73:25-28

Here is a truth that produces joy:

We are not alone in this world. When we stand before the judgment throne of God, we have an advocate. His name is Jesus and He not only represents us, He takes our place. (I John 4:10)

He loves us. (John 15:13)

He hears us. (John 9:31)

He cheers us on. (Romans 8:28)

He leads us. (Psalm 23:2)

He lovingly disciplines us. (Hebrews 12:6)

He never leaves us alone. (Matthew 28:20)

He's made plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He enables us. (Philippians 4:13)

He knows us intimately. (Psalm 139)

There is no one in heaven but God that I want. There is nothing on this earth I desire but to know Him and to be with Him. No matter how hard this life is, my strength comes from an eternal perspective. This is what the psalmist is saying.

True, deep, lasting joy comes from knowing the Savior. It comes from resting in His sovereignty and bathing in His beauty. It comes from a daily dependence on His life giving bread and hours of tearful conversations ending wrapped in the warm comfort of His strong, protective arms. He is Father, He is faithful, He is friend. He has made Himself known and available.

The joy He gives is everlasting. It is earthly and eternal at the same time. It is greater than happiness, for it seeps through the cracks of sorrow and despair. There is no stopping the joy of the Lord because it's power source is beyond humanity. It is not finite but infinite.

Where do I find this Savior? How can I secure this joy? How do I know this is true?

Because the Bible tells me so..

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Joy of the Lord - part 2

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

For years my twin daughters used to defend their spiritual beliefs in Bible class by saying, "My mom says..." The teacher grew weary of arguing with their mother, that eventually he would just look at the girls and ask, "What does your mom say about this?" Eventually I challenged them to change their defense from "My mom says" to "God's Word says." It was a far more powerful authority and by the time they reached college, most professors wouldn't care what their mother said.

When trying to define the joy of the Lord, I don't have to tell you what I think. If we search the Word, we can discover exactly what the joy of the Lord is. From earlier comments, there is a lot of scripture we can look at and find several things that bring Him joy. What a blessing! My desire is that this lights a fire in you to seek beyond what we discuss here...

So keeping in mind that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), I found myself drawn to this Hebrews passage. Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him.

What was it that got Jesus through His suffering?

Well, we see Him sitting down at the right hand of the Father when His suffering was complete. He does this as mediator between God and man. He is our ultimate High Priest who doesn't have to continually sacrifice for our sin like earthly priests, but He sits because His work of mediation is done.

The joy set before Him was the final result of the justification and propitiation of man - the restoration of the relationship between the Father and His children.

Jesus lived with the results in mind.

He suffered with a heavenly perspective, knowing what His suffering would accomplish.

Restoration was His joy.

Do we live with a heavenly perspective? I would suggest today that if the joy of the Lord (His ability to focus on what the suffering of this life would accomplish - a restored relationship with me) is to be my strength, then as I struggle through life, His focus should be my focus. His joy of this restored relationship and ultimately being able to sit with His Father, should be my joy.

I am restored. I am justified. One day I will be done with this fleshly suffering and will be in the eternal presence of the Lord.

If I live with that as my goal - if that is where the road in this life leads - then that will be my strength to endure to the end.

What can I possibly face that will take this truth away from me? Does my road lead to poverty and sorrow? Is life hopeless and meaningless?

We know the answer to all of this - nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Our eternity is set - that is to be our joy and at times in life where there is little happiness, joy can abound because of this truth.

Determine to live with the joy of the Lord as your strength. Set the future before you and as the author of Hebrews says, "Fix your eyes on Jesus!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Staying the Night at Grandma's House

Mysterious two-headed baby!

Not really...this was the sight on Wednesday after the girls had their 5:30 bottle. I offered to take the girls because Cal and Mary had small group and we didn't, and then I twisted their arms to let us keep them overnight so that Mommy and Daddy could have an uninterrupted night of sleep. Yay for me!

After their bottle, Ashley fell asleep...

...and Norah played with the jungle gym. "Played" means looked at herself in the mirror for half an hour! Oh, dear, do we have another Alex on our hands???

I was amazed at how long she stayed quiet...

And then it was bath time. I loved bath time as a young mother. My children bathed in the kitchen sink until they were too old to fit anymore! My children would splash and play and as soon as they could sit, they would play with toys and watch mommy fold laundry, make dinner, and wipe down the kitchen. Usually I did this morning and night, so I thought I'd give it a try with the grandbabies! This is Norah, and she loved the warm water!

Mary told me later that the girls do love their bath time. You can tell she was not traumatized in the least...

I put her in her pajamas, which later were taken off due to a minor volcanic explosion at the 2 a.m. feeding...did you know that after a baby drinks 2 ounces of milk, they can throw up half a gallon? Yum...

And then it was into the vibrating bouncy chair to stall until another feeding...she had a front row seat to Ashley's bath...

This is Ashley. If you notice, the girls now have bracelets on - left hand for Ashley, right hand for Norah. An easy way to remember it is Ashleft and Noright.

Just like her sister, Ashley loved the warm water, especially when it is poured over her belly...

...and then she was put into her pajamas, as well!

Here's the final shot of them asleep in the crib I have set up in the guest room. I took it in the dark so it's not great quality, but their preciousness shines through...

Thank you, again, Father, for these dear, precious gifts. May we be faithful in being Christ to them and may You save them at a very, very young age...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Joy of the Lord

"These things I have spoken to you so that My Joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:11

"Do not be grieved, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10


So, I thought I would write a blog on the joy of the Lord, and I am finding it is hard to limit to 600 words or less (that's the amount of words that my husband thinks will keep people's attention and I think he's right). This is an interesting topic, one that I am going to take a few posts to discuss with you.

Notice I wrote "discuss." That implies a response from you.

In our ladies Bible study we have been memorizing John 15 and I am a few verses ahead of the gang, only because I started earlier than they did - not because I am an over-achiever. This week, my verse is the one above. Jesus is explaining how to abide in Him and how to bear fruit, the benefits of being a fruit-bearer and the consequences of being barren in the fruit category.

Then He says that the reason He has instructed us is so that His joy would be in us, making our joy full. I started pondering the Joy of the Lord and this led to word and phrase searches.

What makes God joyful? Does anything make Him joyful or is He simply joyful because He is God? When He is pleased, does this increase His joy? Are there times He isn't joyful or because He is God, does His joy always abound?

I am not sure I have the answer to all of these questions, but I want to expound on some of them. I think what pushed me into this is the verse in Nehemiah that says "...the joy of the Lord is your strength." I think the very fact that my strength comes from God's joy means that His joy is unlimited and never-ending.

So I am going to start by posing a question to you:

What is the joy of the Lord?

Oh, don't worry - I don't think you will give me wrong answers. Probably the sum of what we discuss will embody truth, so don't hesitate to comment.

('re it!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Benefits of Knowing God's Word from Psalm 119

1. Live a pure life
2. Avoid sin
3. Revive a tired soul
4. Keep me humble
5. Comfort me in hard times
6. Put a song in my heart
7. Learn discernment and knowledge
8. Keep me on the straight and narrow
9. Find comfort and peace
10. Walk on a lighted path

Who wouldn't want a life like this?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquakes, Wars and False Christs...

It's been quite an amazing two days.

My son is on spring break with a few of his pals from college - they're staying at my mom's in Orlando. Three of them are from Hawaii, and on Friday morning my mom got a call from her cousin who works with NASA, asking her if the Hawaiians were still at her house and instructing her to wake them up and have them call and warn their families. He found out at 4 a.m. and I heard a report that President Obama was awakened at 4 a.m. with the earthquake news and I was pretty impressed that Cousin Charles is that important!

All this to say, the world is much smaller today than it was a few days ago. When disaster strikes like this, it's all people are talking about and it makes everyone think, what if disaster would happen here? What would I do?

The gal at the grocery store today was pretty down about the whole thing. She teared up when talking about the children who must have been swept away in the tsunamis that followed the earthquakes. She said that she can't figure out why things are getting so crazy in this world...

I know why.

Jesus said it would get crazy. In Matthew 24 Jesus lays out exactly what is going to happen and the word "earthquake" is early in the passage. Wars, rumors of war (what is happening today in Libya...better check), false Christs - I heard today that the Maitreya is preparing for his appearing. The Maitreya is a general name to represent "The World Teacher." He could be Jesus for the Christians and the 12th Imam for the Muslims and Maitreya Buddah for the Buddhists. Talk about false Christs - could things possibly get worse than what we are seeing today? It seems that prophecy is being fulfilled on a daily basis!

I was talking with my husband today and I told him that years ago, when my dad first started teaching eschatology, things were heating up, but nothing like today. Recently, the prewrath world has strayed from sound, foundational, literal interpretation beliefs in order to fit prophecy into current events.

Be careful, friends, don't do that. Yes, there are a lot of things happening that indicate the days are getting closer to Jesus Christ's return, but there are still some very important things that have to take place. You can't pick and choose what you want to take literally and then symbolize the rest. Be consistent and be biblical.

For example, what is the sign Jesus instructs believers to look for in regards to His return? You'll have to go to Daniel to figure that one out, but it has a very literal function that is not existing today. Yet.

Also, where is the United States in end times scripture? My dad never thought that the U.S. would have a large role in the last days events because you don't see a super power from the west involved with the activity that surround the return of Christ. But recently, prewrathers have been changing that theory by symbolizing a lot of things to fit us in. Be careful not to change your hermeneutics so close to the end.

So where are we? Could it be our economy crumbles and we can no longer be the protector of the world? Or could it be a natural disaster would so cripple us that we could not come to help?

I don't have the answers to those questions but I have plenty of scripture that tell me what is going to happen, so I will choose to focus on that.

I've got to close here - I'm already longer than I want to be...last word for today: The world is falling apart - physically, morally, relationally, and spiritually. So is the church. These are both things Jesus said would happen. Don't be surprised. Be in the Word, because there you will find answers, peace and strength to be an overcomer.

(Maybe I need to do another series...)

Copy and Paste

This post is going to be a bit deceiving. Ashley and Norah spent the day at my house and from the pictures, it looks like they slept all day again...NOT TRUE! These girls are starting to wake up! It's only when they sleep that I can take the pictures you see, because when they're awake, they need Grandma to be playing with them...and feeding them...and changing them...and rocking them...and singing to them...and...

Can you see what their tee shirts say? Copy and Paste! Pretty funny...

Here is Norah (Copy). She had a big day yesterday. The doctor's office called Mary while she was over and told her that the doctor had read Norah's monitor reading and said she did not have any alarms (breathing monitor) therefore she could be taken off the monitor. That means both babies are completely unplugged! You can't imagine how much easier life just became for Cal and Mary...

Thank you, Jesus!

Here's Paste, or beautiful...

At one point in the afternoon, I put Norah on her tummy in the cradle. This cradle was given to me when Calvin was a newborn and back then it was 100 years old. It was a Shaker cradle and I was told that when they went into the fields for the day, they would carry the cradle and place the baby in it while they worked. To see Norah in the cradle, looking so much like her father, was really a flashback for me...

The babies are not the only ones who were sleepy. This is how we found Dave and the girls when we were ready for dinner. Notice they all sleep with their mouths open...must be a Wisen thing...

And finally, I just thought this was funny - Norah is really zonked! These little chairs have a vibrating operation and the girls love it. Once they are asleep, I will turn it off and they start to wiggle. When I turn it on again, they fall back asleep. I decided I know why we like back rubs so much - between the massage chair and all the back rubbing and patting when finding a burp, it's no wonder we like them!

Have a good day...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

House on the Rock

Let's do an experiment this morning. Here's what you'll need:

A platter

A permanent marker

2 cups of sand

A large rock (not bigger than the platter - about the size of a plate)

A pitcher of water

An empty water glass

Now, take the platter and draw a smiley face on it with the permanent marker in the middle, about the size of a baseball. Take the sand and carefully spread it on top of the smiley face until it is about the size of a plate directly on top of the smiley face. Take the pitcher of water and pour yourself a glass full. Carefully take the water and pour it directly on the middle of your sand.

Can you see the smiley face? Did the sand wash away with the water to reveal the face?

Now, clean off your platter and place the rock on top of the smiley face. Fill another glass with water and pour it directly on the middle of your rock.

Can you see the smiley face? Did the rock move away to reveal the face?

The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The wise man built his on the Rock. The imagery is clear - sand easily washes away. I can testify to this as I watch sand bars wash in and out on a daily basis on Lake Michigan. But a rock? Rocks are sturdy, solid and unwavering in the face of storms.

Today I am heading over to the local Christian high school to teach the first of a three week series on relationships to the Junior and Senior girls. I only get 30 minutes and for those of you who know me, I'm just getting warmed up in the first thirty. But I honestly believe that what I am going to teach these girls over the next few weeks may be the most important information they will receive in high school.

And I'm starting with a real estate story.

Please pray for these girls, that the Holy Spirit would open their ears to hear the truth and that they would not be simply hearers, but doers as well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Baby Pics

So now I'm just getting lazy. I have Katherine blogging for me and when I need to fill the void, I throw on more baby pictures...pretty sweet deal, huh?

This is Ashley in the bouncy chair at Grandma's house. Mary and Cal left the girls with Morgan (Christopher's girlfriend) and I while they swam with the youth on Sunday night. We basically sat for two hours, watching the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables on GVSU TV, while holding babies. Yes, you can imagine the scene - me with Ashley, singing my heart out, fighting the tears during Fontaine's death song, and Morgan with Norah, trying to act interested.

Poor Morgan...

Here's dear Morgs with Norah...

And finally, a darling picture of them so much!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Forgetting How to Juggle by Katherine Averill

We’re a generation that loves juggling.

Wait… I feel like I should clarify: I’m not talking about actual juggling. Real juggling is straight voodoo magic. What I’m talking about is life-juggling.

Come on, people—I know you’ve all heard this somewhat cheesy analogy before. Just as the voodoo-juggler wows his or her audience by making multiple similar objects synchronize swim through the air in a never-ending cycle, we take on so many projects/responsibilities/commitments that balancing them all truly becomes a work of magic.

And our generation is awesome at it. Sure, life-juggling can drain us of free time, consistent sleep and flexibility—but, while some may avoid the profession, most of us have done it since high school, if not as early as middle school. For years, we’ve balanced jobs and education and relationships and extracurricular activities and service and hobbies like our lives depend on it.

But why do we devote so much time and energy to juggling? For some, we find worth in juggling (the more I do, the better I feel—rather be busy than bored). For others, we’re motivated to juggle (more extra-curricular activities/experience, the better chance we have at getting the scholarship/job).

For me, it was both.

During the winter semester of my junior year of college, I had perfected my life-juggling skills. I was working a nice part-time job that fit perfectly in between the 18 credits of classes I was taking. My first internship in my field of study was going wonderfully, and I had somehow managed to get involved in both worship and high school ministries at my church. Add a social life and a high school sweetheart, and my juggling wasn’t missing a beat.

But then one day—out of nowhere—I forgot how to juggle. I went to class to learn one of my midterms had completely bombed. Then, as I left that class, I got a voicemail from my internship boss saying I had made a massive mistake on a project and the first person to catch it was a livid customer. By the time I got home, there was an email waiting for me that outlined my mistake and had my whole department cc’d on it.

It was awful. I was upset, embarrassed and confused. How could this happen? I didn’t miss beats. I was awesome at juggling. But I failed—and I felt worthless because of it. So, I did what any self-respecting young woman would do.

I called my mom in tears. And you know what my wise mother said to me? “Maybe God let this happen to you so that you would slow down enough to realize what He’s been trying to teach you.”

And she was right. After I took a breath, the message finally came through: While the act of juggling hadn’t been wrong, I had made juggling an idol by giving it too much significance in my life. Over the next few weeks, God reminded me of two very important truths:

Our Self-Worth should be found in our Relationship with God

When we entered into a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ, our identities changed. We became God’s children (1 John 3:1-2; 4:7) because of His great love for us (Eph. 2:4-5). And this love is not a conditional love based on our successes or our abilities (Jer. 31:3); in fact, God cared for us and knew us intimately before we were even born (Psalm 139). It is in this knowledge that we should find our worth; we were nothing and, because of God’s love, we are now co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)!

Our Motivation should be God’s Love

Because it was God’s great love that gives us our self-worth, then His love should motivate us to bring Him glory. Just as Paul was compelled by Christ’s love to engage in ministry (2 Cor. 5:14), everything we do should be to glorify the one who has shown such great love to us (1 Cor. 10:31). If our goal is to glorify God, then we’re engaging in missions rather than self-reliance.

So, my fellow life-jugglers, I close with this challenge: When you engage in life-juggling, remain rooted to the above truths so that, if a ball does eventually drop, you can remember where your true self-worth is found.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE - Yes, I am allowed to have a guest blogger. Yes, I added the picture without telling her. And no, that's not a picture of Katherine! I hope you enjoyed my daughter's blog that she wrote for a twenty-something ministry blog of RBC...)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Babies at Conover!

Well, I've given you a break from all the baby talk and baby boasting, but now that's over and here I go again! The end of this week Dave and I sneaked up to Conover for a quick study get away - he was finishing sermon prep and I was working on next year's women's bible study planning. After two very successful days and a quick bribery trip to Meijers, we convinced Mary and Cal to come up for the night (the bribery is seen in a later picture...). The girls arrived all bundled and sleepy! Can you tell who is who???

I didn't think so.

Aunt Nicole got some couch cuddle time with Ashley...

And Grandpa introduced Norah to Madison and Kona. This was their first time meeting the girls and it was a bit unnerving for them. They behaved but were rather confused by all the falderal! When Dave and I got up to do the night feedings, the two dogs were right at our side. By the time the girls left, Kona and Maddie were very comfortable with these new additions.

By the way, Dave is holding Norah - you can tell because she is the one who has her own battery pack!

Another first for the girls - Mary gave them their first manicure! This is Mommy filing down Norah's fingernails...

I thought this was cute - Mary just can't help but kiss the girls when she feeds them. Truth be known, we all kiss them when we feed them because they are so sweet!

This is Norah...zonked!

Twins holding twins...(another first!)...

Grandma holding twins...

Tucked in for the night...okay, for a couple hours until Grandma and Grandpa got up to do the late precious! Any doubt they are identical?

Norah sound asleep in Grandma's hands...

Ashley sound asleep with Aunt Nicole...

And finally, the girls all bundled, ready to go back home. Their first road trip was a success!

We are soaking up every moment with these precious gifts! They still are very sleepy, except when they finish their 4:30 a.m. feedings! But they are darling and loved and as beautiful as babies can be! We thank the Lord multiple times daily for these gifts and pray that the Lord will bring them into an eternal relationship with Himself at a very young age - what a blessing to live a long life in the arms of the Lord!