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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

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...