Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Funday

Yesterday I locked myself in the house (for the most part) getting some paperwork done that I have put off for far too long. There were a couple of fun events that I wanted to go to but I knew that I needed to get our checkbook balanced and papers filed and such that I had been putting off for far too long.

Last night we did go over to a neighbor's house for dinner. That was fun. They have a little girl who is about 18 months old and our girls loved playing mommy to her. It was nice to get to know our neighbors a little better too. We have never been good at that because we move too often :(

Anyway, today after church we came home and had leftovers, cleaned up a little and I took the kids and escaped to let Glenn focus on his schoolwork. There was a Jewish Music and Cultural Festival at the Jewish Community Center. Caleb really didn't want to go but I made him and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about Jewish customs and traditions. We got to make little sukkots out of graham crackers, pretzels, fluff and frosting. We also got to make a couple of other crafts and play some games at the kids tent. We also got to visit a mobil sukkot and see a Lulav and Etrog. One neat thing that I picked up while I was there was a magazine for Jewish children talking about the Jewish holidays that take place in the fall. I learned a lot just looking through it. Next month I am co- "in charge" of leading our book club on Rebecca, the Russian Jewish immigrant American Girl. I got some fun ideas for things to do with the kids on those days.

After leaving the JCC we hurried home, took down the laundry, made some food and headed back out for a potluck with some friends from church. It is always good to sit down and eat with people because you get to know them on a different level than just surface and we were able to meet a few new people as well. (Well, I guess we are the new people not them but they were people that we hadn't met yet.)

Tomorrow starts another week of school - week 6 already! At the end of this week we'll be 1/6 of our way through our school year. We have really been enjoying school this year. I am so thankful that we have decided to use Sonlight this year. It has been a great experience so far.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Go to the Chart

I've been really struggling over a conflict with a friend recently. The kids know that there is a problem because they have overheard Glenn and I discuss it. The other day when we were out and about I decided to try to share about and explain the reasons for conflict with the kids and tell them about how I have been struggling to be godly and seeking to glorify God in the situation and not knowing exactly what that looks like. On the way home I asked them what they thought and Caleb piped up with "You should go to 'The Brother Offended Chart.'" I don't know how many times I have told the kids to do that very thing over the last couple of months that we have had it. It's funny that I had never thought to do that myself in my situation. The next day as we were sitting down to work on math I wad struggling again and I asked Caleb if he would go through the chart with me. I didn't get very far before seeing some major sin on my part and Caleb listened as I prayed asking for forgiveness and for help in honoring God in my responses. I am so thankful for the wisdom God is growing in my 10 year old's heart. I am also so thankful for "The Brother Offended Chart" that we bought from It has been a huge blessing in our family and a help to teach our kids how to handle conflict in a godly way.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pictures Prompting Prayer

The house I grew up in is on the market. I'm hoping it sells quickly because I am tired of paying taxes on it. The house has been listed for a long time but last night was the first time I actually ever looked at the listing online. It really needs pictures so I'm hoping to be going to Waterloo soon to take some. I also noticed a few errors so I emailed the realtor about them. I then saw the link for google street view so I clicked on it so I could look at it from up the street. As I looked at the pictures on street view I realized that those pictures were taken before dad died and I just started sobbing. I miss both of my parents so much. I would love to talk to my dad about what God is doing in our lives but that is not possible. So, on nights like that, I pray to my Heavenly Father who is the Father to the fatherless and Who looks after orphans and I pray for friends who God brings to mind that have lost their dads: Kari, Missy, Jacque, Grace, Dixie, Julia, Nikki, Kim, Lisa. Praying for others helps me take my mind off of my loss in the realization that I am not the only one who has lost my dad. They may not be struggling with the overwhelmingness of loss right now but someday soon they will and I pray that God will comfort them as He comforts me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Regional Market and a Surprise Field Trip

Yesterday we went to the Regional Market because we were out of potatoes and onions and I like to buy them in bulk from local farmers there. I also knew that it was pepper season and since our plants didn't really produce that well I wanted to stock our freezer with some of them as well. There is a store at the market called Buda's that sells overstock and out of date foodstuffs. I buy #10 cans of stuff because they usually only cost $3-4 and with 6 good eaters in our house the food goes. I had prayed the night before that God would allow there to be refried beans there because there hadn't been in the last few times I had been there and I really like refried beans because they stretch our tacos. Here is a picture of what we got:

50# of potatoes, 25# of onions, a bushel + 8qts of bell peppers, 8qts of peaches, 100 - 1oz containers of sour cream, 2 - #10 cans of spaghetti sauce, 6 - #10 cans of refried beans, 8#10oz of salsa and a bottle of soy sauce

On the way home Glenn looked down a side street and saw this:

We had actually brought our cameras with us so we turned around and came back to check it out and take a couple of pictures. After checking it out we looked across the street at the old Station 4 and there were 3 more retired fire trucks inside. We grabbed the kids and went to check them out. The volunteers there had just gotten back from an event and were letting the trucks cool down before they left so we had a tour and history of these neat old fire trucks. They gave the kids helmets to try on to pretend to be fire fighters. It was funny because I was just thinking that morning that I should arrange a field trip to a fire station since we hadn't done that in a couple of years and that I should talk to the kids about fire safety. God provided again. Here are pictures of each of the kids from my iphone. We have real pictures that I will upload someday but here is a few pictures just in case I don't :)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Every story whispers His name.

There seems to be a common theme in my blogs today. God is at work in our family and has given us some neat tools to help us grow. Before I tell you about the next tools that I am pretty excited about I need to give you a little bit of history.

When we moved in Syracuse in June of '09 we started going to West Genessee Hills Baptist Church. We visited a couple of other churches along the way but we drifted back there largely because of the "somebody knows my name" factor. It is lonely moving to a new city and we got to know people there and people from that church were a huge blessing to us, especially during out time of homelessness last summer. After we ended up living in the University area we have felt God prodding us to go somewhere closer to home and at the end of July one Sunday we overslept. There was no way that we were going to make it to West Genny on time so we got online quick to see if we could make it to any other church that might start later. After checking and seeing that Missio and Catalyst both started at 10 we decided to check out Catalyst, a church that was on our "churches to check out" list. It met at Nottingham High School, just over a mile from our home and that Sunday it just so happened that they were talking about how their goal for Sept '10 to Aug '11 was to reach out to 13210 with the gospel. 13210 is our zip code and we know that God has us in our neighborhood for a reason. We have found out that Syracuse is #19 on the list of 30 least evangelical US metro areas with only 3.7% being evangelical. Talk about a mission field! We feel that God is asking us to partner with them to reach our neighborhood for this year for the sake of the gospel.

To make things more interesting, Catalyst is going through a season of "incubation" this year and will be having Sunday morning worship at Missio (which meets at the Palace Theater) and God has confirmed over again that He wants us there to reach out to and serve our neighborhood with them. One way that they are going to reach out to the neighborhood is through small groups. Small groups is something that we have SO missed since moving to Syracuse. They were such an important part of our lives in Rochester. I claimed, leaving Rochester, that small groups were one of the things that I was longing for in our new church. There were not small groups at West Genny so we are excited to be a part of them again this coming year.

Alright, I think that is enough history. Today was our first Sunday morning at Missio and I am so super excited to be going to Missio for the next year particularly because of the series that they are on week 5 of. They are taking a journey through the Bible over 44 weeks based on The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. The sub-title of the book is "Every story whispers His name." The children's ministry is focusing on the same Bible passage as the adults are in the auditorium which is something I am very excited about. So often, in the past, through the many churches we have attended, we have asked the kids what the Bible story was about in their classes and there would be 4 different (or 3 or 2 depending on how many different classes they were in at the time) stories told. Getting all the details out would get us home without anytime for talk about life change. How do you address all those Bible passages with each kid individually? I am excited to be exploring the Bible and how each story in the Bible points to Jesus with them. The photo below is the tools that they have given to us, as parents, to help train our kids in God's Word. First, a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers his name. I will blog about that more after I have explored it but I love the concept behind it, that the whole Bible is ultimately about Jesus. We were also given a memory verse written in a secret code that we have to figure out as a family and memorize. We were also given a list of 6 questions and a big red dice. The idea behind it is that everyday, during family time, we are each supposed to roll the dice and do whatever it says on the sheet for that number. The 6 for this are:
1. Recite Psalm 16:1, Romans 6:23, Genesis 1:31 or John 5:39.
2. Retell the story you learned.
3. What does this week's story teach you about God?
4. This story is important because....
5. The good, the bad, the ugly: What was your favorite part of the day? What was your least favorite part of the day? What is a situation we should ask God to help us with in the future?
6. Talk about some of the areas where you might be tempted to make a great name for yourself and find your significance.

I am sure that I will blog again in the future to talk about how it goes but I am excited about what God is going to teach us about Himself in the months to come. We aren't the only ones who need this message. Please join us in prayer as we reach out to our neighbors and classmates with this message as well.

Training Hearts Teaching Minds

Over the summer this book, Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade, was recommended to us from a couple of different sources. We decided to do it this year as family devotions along with our thank yous before bed starting when the school year started so we have used it for 2 weeks. Every week one of the questions and answers from the shorter catechism is taught and there is a short devotional with related Bible readings  There are 6 devotions every week with related Bible readings to help us to understand the question and answer that we are memorizing. So far we have done the first two questions:
Q1. What is man's primary purpose?
A1. Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Q2. What authority from God directs us how to glorify and enjoy Him?
A2. The only authority for glorifying and enjoying Him is the Bible which is the Word of God and is made up of the Old and New Testaments.

It has been neat to interact with the kids, both during the devotional time as well as "when we sit in our house and walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise up." There is so much of a focus on "fun" in our culture. It seems that the first question is always, "Did you have fun?" The kids pray "Please help us to have fun today." What is that? Is that truly our purpose? Glenn and I were talking on our trip to PA about how we wanted to change the focus of our family from "fun" to something that honors God more. It was funny because the preacher there talked about how our culture sees the world as a playground with the goal of fun - you have to have more stuff, better stuff, new stuff. If it is not fun it is not fair. God didn't put us on earth to have fun - our primary purpose is to glorify and enjoy God.

I think that God is going to help us define our vision statement and the focus of our family through His Word and this book. I am very thankful for what He has already done in our hearts and lives and look forward to what else He is going to teach us.

Note: If you want to check out this book the first 2 weeks are actually available in the preview on amazon that I linked to above.

Mom's Bible

I have my mom's Bible. Actually, I probably have more than one of my mom's Bibles floating around here in various places. The one that I am thinking of though is her Women's Devotional Bible. She got it on 8/3/92, the summer before my freshman year of high school and used it up until 5/23/01, the morning that she was sent up to Rochester General for her heart cath that went bad. For the first several years that I had it her Daily Bread devotional from that morning was tucked into the page that she read it from. She sought Him that fateful morning that changed our lives forever. He was in control. One thing that has really struck me lately is the quote that she wrote on the front page of that Bible. I am not sure where she heard it but it must have struck her profoundly because of how she wrote it. It says: "We are not facing the end of life, we are sitting on the verge of eternity, God's timetable is perfect." I don't think that I got mom's Bible until after she had passed. Grandma had given it to me at that time. I think that she was holding onto it for mom, hoping that she would come home and use it again someday. That quote struck me because my mom didn't know what the last almost 21 months of her life was going to look like but she knew what she was looking forward to. God is so gracious.

Anyway, I have used mom's Bible for various things over the years. The Bible that I normally use is NAS but sometimes when I want to see what a verse says in another version I will pick up mom's NIV and check it out. I love to see what verses she underlined and the little notes and dates that she wrote in her Bible over the close to a decade that she used it. I have been encouraged as I have seen passages circled with dates next to them with my name or notes related to various things that we experienced as a family. For example next to Proverbs 19:21 she wrote "trip '96." It says "Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." That sure is true of that trip that didn't go exactly as we had envisioned in our heads over the years :)

This year for school we are mostly using Sonlight and Sonlight has a Bible component. We have always done devos to start out day but this year we are reading through the Bible with the recommended readings from Core 1+2. I decided to put mom's Bible with our school stuff and use hers to read out of this year. I think that my mom can challenge and encourage my kids through what she wrote in her Bible even though they never got to know her. I know that she has me.
I am so thankful for God's Word and the privilege that we have to own several copies of it in our language. I am also thankful that in this way I can take my mom on our trip through the Bible this year.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


One thing that we have loved about living in Syracuse is the friendliness of our neighbors. We have lived 3 different places in the Westcott neighborhood and it has been so much fun to have kids around for our kids to play with.

At our former apartment there were several kids on our street and our house became a bit of a hangout for the little girls on the street. This summer, while we have been in our new apartment the kids have played almost daily with a 3 year old little girl whose mom is a home health aide at a house a couple of doors down.

Before we moved to our current apartment we had walked and driven down this street several times. We had often admired a house near here and always saw kids in the yard. When decided to move here people told us of the family who lived there and the story I got was that she was a pediatrician and they had lots of kids. Funny thing is we have not seen anyone at the house all summer long. We thought that maybe they go away for the summer or took a bunch of vacations. Last night Caleb saw the little boy out and wanted to go and introduce himself so a large group of us descended on the house. After having his sisters wrestle him to be introduced the boys quickly discovered that they both loved Star Wars and were fast friends. The boy is younger than Hannah but Caleb is thrilled to have a boy around closer to his age (on our last street the nearest boy that came over to play was 2.) Our girls quickly started playing Barbies with their middle girl who is between Caleb and Hannah's ages. With the kids off playing I got a chance to talk to the mom (who is not a pediatrician) and found out they were indeed away for most of the summer. The dad came out and I called Glenn so he could come over and chat for a bit as well. The dad is a doctor (OB, I think). They didn't start having kids until he was almost done with residency so he thinks we're a little nuts going through med school with 4 kids :) (oh, and their "lots of kids" only equal 3.)

Having kids to play with across the street was a motivation for the kids to get their school work done faster (since school doesn't start around here until next week). There are a lot of toys in their much bigger house though so I believe we may be having some conversations about contentment in the days to come.