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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Thursday, December 31, 2009

When I titled our family blog, Joy In Our Journey, I had no idea at the time just how much "journeying" we would be doing as a family. I thought that the title had spiritual significance for sure but am really taken aback at its literal meaning in our lives. Saturday is moving day. We have been a long way this year and I am feeling the strenuousness of the distance as it draws to a close. This morning, this verse was in the inbox of my email:

This is what the Lord says, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:16,18,19

I wonder if this verse is prophetic for us this year! I know the God made a way for His people as He brought them into the promised land. I feel in a far less dramatic yet parallel way, He is leading us on. He is changing natural life for us as a family. Who knows where we will be next year? Well, we do know Who knows, but we surely don't! We do know that His provision is perfect and care is secure. Blessings to you all as we ring in 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009!

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

on them has light shined.

Isaiah 9:6;2

From our home to yours~

May this Christmas bring you to the door of the manger, then the foot of the cross, and finally to the realization of the hope of the resurrection.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Pictorial Tour of the Childs in Philly

Micah and Andrew attended a Philadelphia Flyers Game in November. I think Andrew's face says Over-stimulation in this picture... Fun outing with Daddy, though.

Micah's parents came up for a visit. We were even able to celebrate Micah's Dad's birthday while they were here- Living so far away doesn't allow us to celebrate birthdays with family very often so we were thankful!

We visited Westminster Theological Seminary (Office Building/Dorms shown above) during their visit and took a very long ride through north Philly into downtown. We drove for hours! I guess 5:00 during a weekday wasn't the best choice for a tour... We even made it down to a famous place where they sell cheese steaks... OUTSIDE! No one was willing to get out of the car and brave the cold for the legendary sandwich.

My parents and siblings visited during Thanksgiving. It was nice to have a full table and a full house for the holiday.

We visited Independence Hall and the surrounding historical district. Another cold Philly day...

This is right out in front of Independence Hall. The boys are pointing like naval commander, Commodore John Barry. If you want to know more about him, there is info here.

The famous signing room. They boys (especially Andrew) were sure there was some mystery we needed to solve there like in National Treasure! I am sure he would have climbed into the bell tower and looked for the secret brick-n-the-wall had we allowed him.

This is the pen stand and ink well used for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, beautifully preserved.

At a neighboring museum, Elijah was excited to see this big painting of George Washington on his horse.

Leave it to Micah to have sons that get excited about a painting of John Adams! They loved seeing pictures of the Presidents they have learned about.

Another Washington statue and two happy boys:)

This was the top of the bell tower at dusk.

There are so many old buildings around Philly. This is one we think is beautiful. It is the William Penn Inn, originally opened in 1714. It has been remodeled since it began, but still is the same hospitable establishment. It truly has lovely Christmas lights.
For you history buffs, you can find more info here.

We ran across the Ambler Theater in a town on the way to the church we have been attending. The building is beautiful. Read more about it here.

These plants are everywhere! I guess it is a cold weather kind of plant and therefore the beautification organism of choice. They look like cabbage to me, especially the white ones and I just want to dig them up and make coleslaw out of them! I have no idea what kind of plant they are, but would love to be informed... so if you are savvy, please share!

I had to throw this one in for fun. What is the north without the snowy winters?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Moving from Philly

I am so thankful our computer is up and running again! I know you all have been waiting expectantly for a new blog:) I had big plans to post a Philly spread. I still do, but our new news seems to trump that one for now.

We found out this past week that Micah is headed to California at the first of next month. This is both exciting and _______ (you fill in the blank and I am sure we are feeling it:)) for us. We knew we would only be in Philadelphia for a short time, but this is shorter than we anticipated. We had been praying that God would give us direction in where He was laying smooth stones for us in the future but we had no idea an answer would come so quickly. What makes the situation kind of sticky is the fact that the assignment is very short term. Even from the beginning of our discussions about what was best for everyone, it was clear to us that the boys and I needed stay for a while in NC, join Micah for part of his time there, but not move officially until he has a long-term position either there or somewhere else. Moving a family of four across the entire country is no small matter. I now feel why God creates families- especially husbands and wives- to cleave together. I am sure over the next two months, I will experience God's wisdom in creating oneness in marriage and hope when we are together again, more deeply appreciate walking through this life day to day with Micah. There are some very good things about the boys and I spending time in NC. They are excited about playing with their cousins (they have 3 plus more extended in the world as of this week!) and spending time with family. We haven't been so close to everyone for such a long period of time- never since the boys have been in the world- so I know this will bring precious opportunities.

Micah is going into a great situation. He will be staying in a beautiful part of California and hopes to be successful in his tasks running a free-standing CFA. It will be a change from his assignment here in PA at a mall store (at CHRISTMASTIME!) but he loves the dynamics of both opportunities.

Please pray for us. We will be moving in two weeks. We all need strength, perseverance, and peace. God is moving us along and we pray He doesn't stop. We would rather be trying to catch our breath and moving in the direction of a long-term position than waiting and wondering what He has for us next. We do know that unless God goes before us, we have no hope in the future. So we trust and pray and move again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sustaining Joy

It is easy to write about events in our life and substantially easier to write about exciting news, triumphs, and successes. Much more of real life happens for us in the in-between time; when the days seem a little longer and the road a little less scenic. It is important to me to include blogs like this because this is where we are the majority of the time! It is easy in these times to wonder if anything of any significance is happening anywhere. The past week has felt this way~ We have just kept putting one foot in front of the other. We have felt more significantly that our time here is already fleeting. I think it has been difficult to take full advantage of Philly. It is much larger than any city we've ever lived in and the suburbs more segmented. All the while, much is happening. Micah just completed more tasks on his to-do list for CFA. The boys just grew a centimeter and came to understand a little more about life. Elijah can almost do a cartwheel and Andrew has decided he prefers showers to baths:) By God's grace, I just moved a little closer to more fully internalizing how good He is through some "happenstance (to me)" experience. There is a lot of joy to be found with a right perspective and thankful hearts. We are still so grateful for this opportunity and look for ways to make our time here more than a blip on our family timeline.

One thing about finding joy both in the significant and mundane things in life for me is the temptation to use those to try and maintain sustaining joy. It is weeks like last that proves to me that I must have another plan- or trust God’s plan. Temporal good things while momentarily satisfying are fleeting. I am learning by God’s grace that lasting, persevering joy has to come from somewhere else. If you haven't heard the song C.S. Lewis Song by Brooke Fraser, it is excellent in communicating, as Lewis did, that…

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here.

But as the song eloquently states to balance the truth about our hopeful future- and now I am paraphrasing the lyrics - but while we are here, we are made to live, love, and to know God. Life is but a breath that we must breathe before it vanishes. But we with all creation groan for the hope that is to come.

In thinking on this theme I was recently struck by the lines from Psalm 16:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Joys can be found in life but much of it is difficult, uncertain, and many times seemingly mundane. Although I cannot always see them, the lines are falling for me in pleasant places, are providentially ordered, and provide me with a beautiful inheritance. The culmination of all the promises of God offers among so many other things justice, peace, and rest and in His presence, I will find fullness of joy. It won’t be the kind of joy that ends as soon as I forget to remember a milestone or good gift, but promises to carry me through ordinary days.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Andrew's Big Accomplishment

It's official! Andrew is a reader! The days of spelling words we don't want him to understand are gone~! We are so proud of him and his diligence in learning to read and write.

This is his first book. Look at that happy, literate boy!

Working on his handwriting.

I would have never imagined enjoying homeschooling as much as I have so far. Andrew is learning so many things I don't ever remember learning (due largely to my own laziness). Even in Kindergarten, the emphasis on reading, geography, history, and creative writing I believe will serve Andrew well for the rest of his life. Even his least favorite book, Living Long Ago, recently became one of his favorites when we started learning about Medieval Times and castles. He is still most driven when it comes to math. It is especially good for Eliljah as he watches his big brother persevere in school.

Way to go, Andrew!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

More Philly Adventures

It has been since I was a little girl that I lived in a house with a wood-burning fireplace. It is mesmerizing for the boys and such a cozy way to spend the cold evenings. So far, it has even replaced the TV in its entertainment value! We love making smores over the open fire. The boys prefer to do so in their superman jammies, as you can see.
I especially appreciate the fact that burning a fire prevents stink bugs from living in our fireplace, emerging into our house, and chasing Andrew and I around the living room! As a person who is terrified of bugs, I am privileged to be learning so many new extermination techniques. This one is really friendly to the icky bugs. They just see it as an invitation to find a new home. FYI... Their name is a big hint as to the consequence of squashing them. As I have learned, if you do squash a stink bug, it not only creates a foul stench, but the pheromones attract more stink bugs. I am always glad to pass along such potentially helpful information in our blog as the situation permits:)
I think I mentioned before that Micah works in a mall that has a train for the kids to ride. For the bargain price of $3 a kiddo ($5 for two), they can circle the mall in this really cool train that has no need of tracks. There are a couple of times I have been concerned it was going to cause a kiosk casualty, but most people do not seem to mind moving out of the way for the fun-mobile. Micah and I cased the train as best we could, trying not to look like over-protective parents but truly wanting to make sure the boys didn't try to recreate an action scene they had stored away for such a time as this. We never know what they are thinking:)
Today, we visited Tenth Presbyterian Church in downtown Philly. This was so memorable for Micah and me. When we were first married, we used to listen to this church's radio broadcast. Then, the pastor was James Montgomery Boice. After serving this church diligently for many years, he went to be with the Lord in 2000. We were encouraged to hear preaching from the current Senior Pastor, Philip Ryken. He preached from 1 Corinthians 13:5. It was a practical, gospel driven sermon that was true to God's word. He called the congregation to think towards loving unselfishly, putting others before ourselves, as we have been so loved by Christ. The children in the service were equally admonished to do the same in their respective relationships with parents, friends, and siblings. I would have never imagined years ago being on the other side of the radio, sitting in this church with Micah and two boys at my side all being encouraged together. What a blessing to be with God's people in the heart of this city hearing such true, clear truths.
One thing that is different about going to a large church in the middle of a really large city is the parking situation. We had to park several blocks away, but this provided us the opportunity to see firsthand the function of city life.
Andrew was intrigued about living in the middle of such a compact place. Micah and I decided that living on a street like this could be a possibility. I am not so sure we could handle one of those basement, off the street apartments with one-foot windows...
I have no idea why this water is green. I just thought it was cool! It's my favorite color, you know:)
The murals are beautiful adorning the old, brick buildings.
Thanks for sharing our Philly adventure with us! I am sure there is more to come...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Farm Park

One place we recently ran across is Norristown Farm Park. It is a colonial era farm right in the middle of the suburbs. All these pictures are from our time walking along the park trails:

Micah gives the boys a tutorial on how corn grows.

Andrew on the tracks.

A Pine Tree with another tree growing up its side... beautiful!

We see a lot of landmarks dating back pretty far around here. The year 1919 is carved into a small train bridge.

Along the trail... something must have been really interesting to my right.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Church Experience

On Sunday, we visited a church whose senior pastor is a Southern Grad. I was introduced to his wife through a mutual friend of mine from my working days on campus. It is such a blessing to know so many people who know so many people all over the country; especially when you just don't know where you are going to end up next! Anyway, the church happens to meet in a movie theater. I really didn't think that much about the location. I have long been accustomed to churches meeting in all different kinds of buildings; homes (basements in other countries where Christianity is not allowed), abandoned factories and industrial buildings, etc. So why not a movie theater? What Micah and I forgot to do was prepare the boys for where we would meet with God's people to worship. The minute we pulled in to the parking lot and they realized where we were, shouts of excitement exploded from both boys, "We're going to see Chance of Meatballs!!!" If you are unaware, they were referring to the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This is a flick they have wanted to see for a while now. Immediately, Micah and I extinguished their hopes and instead, focused on how fun and different it would be to have church in a movie theater. They were confused for a while, but handled it well. As we walked in the door and the smell of buttered popcorn and visions of cartoons to come consumed our senses, we again tried to refocus their attention on the task at hand. The really good news came when we realized they served coffee and doughnuts to those in attendance. Doughnuts can pacify little boys in a pinch when the prospect of candy is all around.

We got the boys into their respective "theaters" with children their ages and Micah and I joined the service. It is always an encouragement to see where God has sent and how He is is using those trained in ministry. I met face to face gals I had only talked to through mutual friends and made those connections as well. Always a plus when you are alone in a new place.

After the service, the race to transform the space back into a place to see movies began. As we exited, we noticed the first glimpses of electronic signs above the doors to each theater lighting up with the names of the movies playing that afternoon. One mom walking beside me told her husband, "I'll go get Johnny. He's in Zombieland~". You can imagine my surprise. I had heard of churches giving names to kids classes to differentiate them, but this was a new take on what may be appropriate! Sure enough, above the door to Theater 2 where Elijah was learning about Jesus with other 3-year-olds, Zombieland was playing just 40 minutes later. Andrew was on his way to viewing Hangover had we stayed around longer.

We were thankful for the experience and thankful the boys were given an example of how the church is the church regardless of where it meets. Andrew was able to clearly articulate the lesson he had learned in his class (no references to drinking at all:)). We look forward to visiting a couple other churches over the next weeks and then settle in to one for our stint here in PA. There are of course churches around here with significant historic significance Micah is interested in checking out.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Last Days in Louisville, First Days in Philly

We have been so fortunate to have some dear friends in Louisville. I wanted to share this particular picture of us with the Copeland family. We had many dinners with them in their home and in ours during the course of the last 8+ years. Another family we have enjoyed getting to know is the Wolter family. They have a blog as well and put a great picture on it of all our kids together as well as a sweet goodbye message. You can see that here.

Now for pictures of the move:

Elijah evaluating my work after cleaning our old apartment.
You have to look closely, but you can definitely see our big boy Andrew riding in the co-pilot seat, helping Daddy navigate the big truck.

The boys in the van with all our clothes piled in the back.

The boys in the the lobby of our hotel/home for a week.

Supper at TGI Fridays.

Our first ride through downtown Philly. This is the Ben Franklin bridge... I am pretty sure. It is beautiful at night!

Last Thursday, we moved in to our new place here in PA. Two days later, I had all the boxes unpacked and out of the house. After eating out for almost a week, I was eager to get back to cooking meals. Needless to say, we are settled in.

One of the boys' favorite features of their new rooms is that they have really large alarm clocks beside their beds. They have a lot of buttons and the large numbers make them really cool, according to Andrew.
Sometimes they like to set them just for fun. Reminiscent of our first night in PA, we have had more middle-of-the-night drills. Now instead of fire drills, we have drills to see how fast we can identify which room the noise is coming from and how fast we can find the "off" button in the dark. Micah has, on occasion, failed the drill and hit the "snooze" button instead and had to face the 5 minute, re-drill consequences~
They also love the fact that we receive our mail through a slot in the door. When it is mail time, I now am alerted by both boys screaming and laughing at the envelopes, advertisements, postcards, etc. falling into the foyer. It teaches me to find joy in our journey to have kiddos that enjoy the simple things in life!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's Going On?

After dividing all our stuff into "Store" and "Move", loading a POD and a moving truck (with the help of great friends), cleaning for the last time our Louisville home for the past year and a half, and driving for many hours through Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and the length of Pennsylvania, we are finally in Philadelphia! We are not quite in our "home" yet, but we are all safe and well taken care of. Moving is difficult. The physical work is exhausting and decision making can be daunting. Our first night in Philly was definitely proof that this is all true. When we realized that moving in to our apartment was not going to happen, we found a nearby hotel. Micah and I both were overwhelmed by all the obstacles in front of us and we wanted nothing more than a good night's rest. Our eyes were tired from driving in the rain for the better part of a whole day and I was keenly aware that I needed time to regroup. For all of us, sleep came very quickly and easily after melting into clean, crisp bed linens.

I don't remember falling asleep. What I do remember is having the thought, "Great day in the morning! What is that sound! It is really loud! Maybe it will stop soon... Oh... It's the fire alarm!!!" Boy was it effective! It was the equivalent of a blow horn in every one of the five floors of guest rooms. The next thing I know, Micah is jumping up, grabbing stuff- including the children, and trying to get to the door of our room to see what is going on. I started looking for shoes, then my purse, etc. but realized I was having great difficulty seeing anything. Was it because of smoke inhalation? Was I losing consciousness? No! I didn't have on my glasses!!! Another important thing to grab. Micah had stuck his head out into the hall to see what was going on. He did see and smell smoke so we were assured this was not some sort of crazy, middle of the night drill. Usually, you don't get to know your neighbors in a hotel, but in this situation, we got to know our neighbors extremely well. There is instant bonding when you see how people look in the wee hours of the morning! As you can imagine, we were all trying to avoid looking surprised at the chosen attire of some less-dressed guests as we all scurried toward the outside exits. There were police men and firemen arriving complete with sirens and flashing lights. Then, we heard someone announce the reason for all the commotion. Someone had set fire to a hot pocket in the lobby microwave. Needless to say, we were all relieved to go back to bed unharmed. Micah and I looked at each other and for the first time since we left Louisville, laughed out loud at our circumstances:)

We still have a few details to work out in the moving in department. The boys keep asking, "Where is our home?" I keep reminding them that our home is where we are all together. At this minute, we are all together at a hotel. Hopefully soon they will have access to all their toys and things and that might help their feelings about the situation:) It has been a while since I was in a totally new place. One of my first objectives was finding a nearbyTarget and I am happy to say that one is right around the corner! Micah started working this morning. The Chick-fil-a he will be managing is in a mall with a train for kids to ride so the boys think Daddy's new work is pretty cool already. I will try to keep you all up to date on our adventures here in Philly. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Moving to Philadelphia

We found out Wednesday that Micah will have an interim position with Chick-fil-a in northern Philadelphia, PA. We anticipate being there for around 6 months. This time in our lives- waiting and wondering where we were going to end up- has been trying and exciting. We are thrilled at the opportunity and eager to see what the other end of the road the Lord has paved for us holds. We will be traveling next weekend. Please pray for us all. Andrew is sad to be leaving his friends and familiar places and things. We all are for that matter. Any new place to him sounds strange if it's not "Louisville" or "Carolina". Elijah is just excited about a new adventure but a little uncertain all his toys being put into boxes will actually make it to the right destination. I need prayer as I sort through what to store and what to pack in the coming week. Micah is the cool, calm one in the family through all of the chaos. He is so thankful for this opportunity. I know that God has used all his experience to bring him to this point of managing a store on his own. Please pray for him; for perseverance, wisdom, and strength.

On Wednesday nights at LaGrange Baptist Church, we just started a new ministry to families called Seeds. The past couple of weeks, we have talked about wisdom. I was particularly drawn to the book of Proverbs where wisdom and foolishness is contrasted so clearly. The night Micah received the phone call about our move, I came upon this familiar passage:

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:1-3

Our family testifies that these words are true as we have been tested and led down unfamiliar paths the past few years. The story of our journey is mysterious to us, but the Author is good, trustworthy, and our only hope.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Farm Fun

One of our new friends is "Miss Mandy" as the boys call her. She had a fabulous idea to go pick apples at Huber Farms today. The weather couldn't have been better for tractor rides and eating freshly-picked apples under the shade of a tree. The boys helped her pick about 22 pounds of apples as well as apples for themselves. By the middle of the picking experience, they knew well how to choose the best apples.
Andrew ran through the vineyard and Elijah studied the grapes.
Is that a watermelon and a green pepper? No! Of course not! It is Andrew and Elijah!
A kind woman shared a whole bag of bread with the boys to feed the coy and catfish and the ducks in this pond. Elijah told Andrew this sign says "Don't Go ANY Closer or You May Fall in the Water!!!".

Tonight, in the spirit of Wendell Berry, we used the apples we picked ourselves to make an apple crisp. The boys were so excited to eat what they had a hand in bringing to the table. Maybe next time we will pick lots and lots of vegetables:)