29 September 2009

Birthday Mania

Back in May, Rebekah decided she'd rather wait to celebrate her 12th birthday... until she could be home and do so with her cousins. So in August, just before one batch of her cousins moved across the country, we all got together for a big birthday bash! Since it was right about the time of her little cousin's (Christina), we double celebrated... two cakes, two groups of friends and family, two piles of presents, and lots of food and ice-cream... just call it a bi-birthday bash!

"Do Not Assume You are Good Soil..."

I've been reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan as part of an on-line Bible study in which I'm participating. The chapter I read for this week is, outside of the Bible itself, the most convicting thing I've ever read. Titled "Proile of the Lukewarm," I thought I'd share the "profile" with you... and let you decide for yourself. I'd love to hear your comments, too.

  1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe "good Christians" do, so they go. (Isa. 29:13)
  2. Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? (1 Chron. 21:24, Luke 21:1-4)
  3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when theyare in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think about their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. (Luke 6:26, Rev. 3:1, Matt. 23:5-7)
  4. Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. (John 10:10, Rom. 6:1-2)
  5. Lukewarm people are moved by stories aobut people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for "extreme" Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all of His followers. (James 1:22, James 4:17, Matt. 21:28-31)
  6. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. (Matt. 10:32-33)
  7. Lukewarm people gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. (Luke 18:11-12)
  8. Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a second of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives. (Luke 9:57-62)
  9. Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. (Matt. 22:37-38)
  10. Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or whith whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective and generally comes with strings attached. (Matt. 5:43-47, Luke 14;12-14)
  11. Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (Luke 18:21-25)
  12. Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis writes, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." (Phil. 3:18-20, Col. 3:2)
  13. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, "Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is." Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel "called" to minister to the rich; very few feel "called" to minister to the poor. (Matt. 24:34, 40, Isa. 58:6-7)
  14. Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be "good enough" without it requiring too much of them. (1 Chron 29:14, Matt. 13:44-46)
  15. Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God. (1 Tim. 6:17-18, Matt. 10:28)
  16. Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. (Matt:7:21, Amos 6:1)
  17. Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens -- they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them -- they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live -- they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis -- their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. (Luke 12:16-21, Heb. 11)
  18. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate theirpartially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong. (Matt. 23:25-28)

Honest reflection requires that I admit that I see more of me described above than I'd like to admit...

28 September 2009

Oh Prends Mon Ame

Nadia, Anna and Rebekah singing (in French!) at a church recently. They are a little shy, but get better each time they try!

27 September 2009

Open Mouth ~ Insert EVERYTHING

It doesn't matter what! Almost as soon as an object - morsels of food under the table, dust bunnies from behind the piano, light plugs and other electrical cords, homework papers ("Sorry, Mrs. Forbes, my little sister ate my homework!") and school notes left laying around, accidentally amputated insect legs from Anna's bug collection, little plastic lids from albuterol/nebulizer vials, fallen fall leaves, footwear by the front door, little plastic rubberbands that are supposed to be in the bathroom drawer, etc., etc., etc., - hits the floor, our little scavenger has found it and started an investigation of its finer points (i.e. "Is it edible or not? Does it make my gums feel better when I gnaw on it? Will putting this in my mouth catch Mama's attention? Will Dad feed me Oreo Cookie ice cream to distract me if I keep trying to eath this?" ~ Well, you get the point!)...

...which means that I'm spending an inordinate amount of time digging things out of her mouth.

For what it is worth, and in our experience, each successive child has become more and more persistant, aggressive and risky with this particular behavior...!

26 September 2009

I Love Lighthouses ~

~ and sunsets on the beach!

After we'd stripped the kids down and loaded them back into the van, we headed off in search of a McD's. On the way, we took just a few minutes of a sidetrip to see one of Michigan's beautiful lighthouses.

Tim and I left the kids warming up in the van and spent about 10 minutes, just the two of us (and a whole group of seniors who'd also come to enjoy the sunset) watching the sun sink over the horizon and photographing the lighthouse. On brief, "scary" moment: the keys fell out of Tim's pocket... thankfully, he found them and the attached flashlight on the beach without too much difficulty!

We finally got home that Sunday night much later than was originally planned, everyone was tired (poor Bren and Rebekah were still finishing up homework after midnight), but the special time together as our family enjoying some beautiful places was well worth it... and we were pretty well recovered...

~by Tuesday!

25 September 2009

Wind, Water and lots of Sand

After we finished the Senic Drive, we stopped as this beach, upon the recommendation of one of the park rangers. The sand was white and lovely and a small creek flows out into the lake at this point. We told the gang they could wade and get their toes wet...

...but obviously forgot to define the word "wade" for Jonathan, who promptly ran right into the water up to his knees and then was soaked after the first wave.

Elsie Mae...
even Brendan (somewhat)
finally followed his example.

Tim wandered the beach with the kiddos for a little while,

while I took care of the baby and watched Tori build a sand castle.

We all enjoyed the gorgeous sunset, the waves, the pretty rocks and the rocky white sand.

Back at the van, the younger crew had to strip out of their soaking, sand-covered clothing...down to their underwear... and wrap in blankets for our ride back to the Midland. The only disappointment was that that meant...

NO PLAYLAND at McD's this time (You can't go into the store barefoot... imagine what they'd say if we tried to carry in 3 wearing only underwear) ~ we had to eat dinner IN the van! Yay for Happy Meals... and their toys.

24 September 2009

The Sleeping Bear Sand Dune's Senic Drive

Entertaining herself until all the big people are ready to continue on...

Wildflowers on the dunes

Best-est Big Brother... EVER!

Filmstrip of the fam...

Boardwalk views
when you're only 3

The gang's all here~
~and mostly (uh-hum) looking at the camera!

Enjoying an amazing view

Headed home
(Well, actually back to the van to buckle in and then drive in a homeward direction...)

22 September 2009

Sleeping Bear's "Caped Crusader!"

Here's the video I promised yesterday (although I noticed after the fact that I'd misspelled "cape." It's corrected now. *grin*).

What's even more amazing than this stunning clip of athletic prowness??? The mostly SILENT vanful of 8 children (we don't count M&M's vocalizations... at least not yet!). Can you believe that?

21 September 2009

Sleeping Bear Dunes - The Dune Climb

After an encouraging and fun time meeting with one of our supporting churches (Kingsley Baptist, Kingsley, MI), we decided to take advantage of our proximity... and take the gang to one of our favorite spots in Michigan: Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. The car no sooner stopped in the parking lot and Rebekah, Nadia, Anna and Tori were already halfway up the huge dune that greets you there. It took Brendan (helping Jonathan) and Richelle (plodding along with Elsie Mae) a bit longer to achieve the summit of this first dune for a breathtaking view...

...of Glen Lake. Tim and I love Glen Lake and before we were married, Saturday dates would often find us in the area... at least as often as we could manage to escape from Midland. Whether we came to ski, sail, photograph lighthouses or watch the sunset while hiking along a Lake Michigan beach - you won't find a prettier place to enjoy God's marvelous creation... and time with a special person. ;-) One time, we rented a small boat and went sailing on the lake... and the wind whipped right up. Two foot waves are pretty big when your boat is only 10-12 feet long and we were so chilled afterwards that we went to the beach to sit and watch the sunset - but we stayed in the car with the heater blasting! This was also where we came for our honeymoon!

Elsie Mae was quite the little trooper - and once she made it to the top of that first dune, she wanted to keep right on going, just like all the big kids.

Go, Elsie Mae! Go!

Action shots - as the big kids enjoyed the sun, wind, sand and gorgeous blue skies!

Reluctantly, after a bit of time, I headed back down the dune to free Tim from M&M duty and allow him to climb up and chase the big kids around. Jonathan and Elsie Mae came with me... Brendan and Victoria weren't too far behind. I got to keep the camera (or Tim didn't want any extra weight as he hiked up that huge hill of sand), so we continued snapping photos at the base of the dune while we waited.

Jonathan enjoyed pretending he was a baby lion hunting its prey... and trying to sneak through the grass to jump on me.

I enjoyed trying to capture the vivid blue of his eyes with the camera... a smile at the same time was just the icing on the cake.

And, as I was looking closely at those eyes... I noticed a "self-portrait" reflected within...

As we waited for the other adventurers to descend, we had a ball playing in the sand... Mary Michelle especially. I think she must remember our giant sandbox of a yard because she knew immediately what to do with the sand. (And just take a look at that chubby little belly... so cute!)

Aren't those little toes sweet?

As we were leaving, we snagged a lady with a lovely British accent to snap some photos of the whole family... and then we were off to our next adventure!

Well, actually, not... we sat in the parking lot for awhile while several family members visited "the facilities." The rest were either feeding the seagulls or watching a guy with a cape "sand"-boarding down a steep section of the dune! But that part of the story will have to wait for another day!


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