The Gospel of the Seasons

Growing up in South Mississippi, I never really understood the beauty of Fall (or any seasonal changes really) as it was simply an extension of Summer (the trees remained green and the temperatures remained hot).  However, the five years that we have been living in Kentucky have created and fostered an extreme love for seasonal change and the beauty that each season brings with it.   This past Fall, during one of our after-dinner walks through the neighborhood, Abigail pointed up and said, “Trees are orange!” I said to her that she was right and that all the trees were dying because it was getting colder. “Don’t worry though! Everything comes back to life when it warms up in the Spring!”

And it was then that I began to realize how much the seasons testify to the gospel of Jesus Christ and his return/our bodily resurrection on the final day of judgment.

Confession time – I love Andrew Peterson. If you have never heard of Andrew Peterson (and even if you have…) I want you to click on this link right now and buy every single CD and book that he has out right now! His music is a blessing as you attempt to foster a holistic Christian worldview in your life.  He is a masterful storyteller and his word images are able to evoke a deep emotional understanding of and response to the gospel.  He even has a song about Jesus’ genealogy…and its really good – only a genius can do something like that!

I say all of that because his songs have had a huge impact on me and many of his songs speak to this idea of a deep longing that we should have for the return of Christ; this is the great hope of the Christian (Titus 2:13)!

So one of Andrew’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis…) newer songs is called “Come Back Soon”.  Here is one of the stanzas:

I sit on the bench at the bend in the trail
And I can feel in the fall the final exhale
The trees of the field all wring their hands
And the leaves go by like a funeral band
I say, “Come back soon.”

The basic gist of this song is that the whole creation is longing for Jesus to come back.  And we see that in the seasons across the year.  In October, the trees, flowers, etc. die as the weather gets colder but in March/April everything comes back to life again!  Jesus died on the cross and three days later he came back to life! Jesus ascended into heaven but he will return soon to complete all things! Nature is groaning after redemption and proclaiming the hope of the Christian – the return of Christ to make all things new and put death to death eternally!

And the Bible tells us that the whole world groans with the pains of childbirth to be made new when Christ returns.  In the same way, our hearts groan within us as we wait for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-23).

The epistles stress over and over again the return of Christ as the hope of the Christian. It is what we are living for. So what does this mean for my life right now? I mean, Jesus is definitely coming back and that day will be both glorious and terrible as everything is made right and our salvation is completed…but does that really matter right this second?  Yes and Yes!

Here’s another snippet from one more of Andrew’s songs, “Day by Day”

So don’t lose heart
Though your body’s wasting away
Your soul is not
It’s being remade
Day by day by day

There are a lot of things in life that can cause us to despair/lose heart and forget that we have a glorious hope in the return of Christ.

There are big things – like cancer and tragic car accidents and an ever-increasing divorce rate and the abortion of billions of babies over the course of history.  These things cause great despair and a longing for everything to be made right.  And there’s a small part of all of us that questions God’s intentions and motives or maybe even God’s existence. “Why are you letting these things happen?”

Then there are small(er) things – like a long line at the grocery store and a tantrum-throwing toddler and car problems and not having enough food to fix dinner.  These things slowly wear on our soul.  Its easy to allow these things to grow bitterness and discontentment and, ultimately, despair as we forget our loving, faithful God who is shaping us into the image of Christ and forbearing with the iniquity/unfaithfulness of us and the world.

And then there are even smaller things – like wishing for a different color carpet and wanting to fit into a smaller size and coveting after a friend’s house and thinking that her husband is better than my husband for any number of silly reasons that probably aren’t as true as we think they are. These things slowly harden our heart. Like the parable of the sower (Matthew 13), we let the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke our faith and we prove ourselves to be unbelievers.

So what is the correct response that we should have to these things? What keeps despair away? How do we remain faithful during tragedy and through discontentment?

My answer – through regular prayer and Bible time and through community (good friends and a good church).  These practices keep us grounded in our relationship with the Lord and help us to remember the truth of the gospel.

A common theme throughout the Bible is ‘remembrance’ – remembering what the Lord has done and what the Lord has promised to do so that you don’t lose faith.  Keeping our hope in (and remembering to keep our hope in) the return of Christ results in a virtuous life full of joy and faithfulness and love for our neighbors.

Look forward to the return of Christ. Remain faithful and content in the Lord’s provision for your life right now. He has promised to conform you into the image of Christ, which means you are not being conformed to the image of the world.  It can be a painful process because we don’t know what’s good for us and we sometimes desire to be like the world. Let it drive you to contentment and loving patience and sacrificial servant-hood.  Let it result in sharing the gospel with those around you.

Remember the Lord’s faithfulness.  He is always faithful and will continue to remain faithful despite our faithlessness.

May Update: New England

Recently, Raymond had to travel to New England for business on behalf of the seminary.  It just so happens that this put us within a perfect geographical region to visit Dave and Emily Cook. We flew to Manchester, NH with Raymond and Emily only had to drive 2 hours to pick us up! We had such a wonderful week with our dear friends; this was the first time that we’ve been able to visit with them and it was good to see their life. Our week included a really exciting tour through the Cape Cod chip factory, a visit to the National Seashore, participating in the Herring Run (I’m using the word “participating” pretty loosely…we definitely did not eat any of the Herring like the Seagulls did), and lots of Bocce Ball! Raymond and I were able to go out one evening without kids and Emily and I were able to have an afternoon together without kids too! All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our reunion with old friends and it was really fun to put some more states on our “Been There” list and see a new area of the country!

So below you’ll find pictures from Massachusetts and from Louisville :)

Happy 2.5 years, Abigail!

On March 1, 2013 Abigail turned 2.5 years old! She had a well check with her pediatrician on Monday and she’s doing really well in all areas of development and even doing things that a 3 year old should be doing (according to the doctor).  This visit did not involve any shots and she actually won’t have to get anymore until she’s 4 (which I can’t imagine her actually turning 4, so I don’t think we’ll have to deal with those shots…)

Height – 34 in (15%)
Weight – 28lb 2oz (50%)
Head – 90%
Diaper – Totally done with these!
Clothing – All 2T but I expect she’ll be in 3T during the summer (at least in shirts and dresses)
Shoe – Size 6/7

Abigail’s day normally begins sometime between 7am and 8am (most of the time she wakes Charlotte up when she leaves the room but sometimes Charlotte keeps sleeping).  There was a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year when I thought that Abigail might be done with napping; there just was nothing I could do to get her to fall asleep in the afternoon. We found a little trick though that works maybe 50% of the time. I started laying down in her bed after putting Charlotte down for a nap and I make Abigail lay down with me for an hour.  Sometimes she falls asleep and sometimes she doesn’t, but its a nice little rest either way and it definitely works on those days when she really needs the nap.  Bedtime falls around 8pm now so that Charlotte has time to settle down before Abigail goes to bed. Abigail really enjoys being able to kiss Charlotte good night and then have some alone time with Daddy & Mommy.

I am amazed almost everyday by Abigail’s ability to communicate.  Abigail likes to tell stories about things that have happened to her or that she has seen happen.  I think one of my favorite things right now is when she asks Raymond how is day went at work or when she tries to console Charlotte after taking a toy away from her.  She LOVES to sing and has memorized quite a good number of songs (normal kids songs and hymns) that we sing around the house or that she hears in church.  Her favorite songs include Jesus Loves Me, Nothing but the Blood, In Christ Alone, He’s got the Whole World in His Hands, My God is so Big, and there are more but I can’t remember all of them right now. Abigail also loves to read and could easily sit for a couple of hours reading books with me.  She has memorized several books that we read regularly and I love listening to her “read” books to me :)  Abigail can also sing the ABC song and count to 10! Our plan is to start working on letter recognition next.

We’ve started allowing Abigail to watch a little bit of TV here and there.  We have The Little Einsteins, Anastasia, The Sound of Music, and Ella Enchanted that we rotate around.  She likes interacting with The Little Einsteins and singing along with The Sound of Music.  Sometimes when I ask her how old she is she likes to answer, “I am 16 going on 17.” :)

Potty training went really well!  She caught on super quick and is now completely out of diapers and into big girl panties.  In the middle of February we ran out of diapers for Abigail and I wasn’t able to get more before bedtime so we decided to see how the night would go without a diaper since she had been dry after waking up for quite a while.  The transition to panties at night went so easily!  The next morning she woke up and wasn’t able to make it to the potty fast enough, but after that she hasn’t had a single morning accident.

Finally, Abigail is still a really good eater.  She definitely has preferences and will accept fruit snacks/candy for all her meals if we let her, but she also eats pretty much everything we put in front of her.  We eat homemade pizza every Friday with broccoli and fruit and she normally devours the broccoli before eating anything else!

Happy 1st Birthday, Charlotte!

We no longer have babies in our house :( It was both a sad and happy day on February 11 but we are really excited to see Charlotte develop into a little girl in Abigail’s footsteps!

Here is an update on Charlotte’s development thus far in her life:

Weight – 17 lb (12%)
Height – 28.5 in (30%)
Head – 44.8 cm (50%)
Diaper – 
Size 3/cloth
Clothing – 
I have her in 12 month but they’re a little large

Here’s her schedule right now:

7:30 – 8:00 Wake up/Milk time
8:30 Eat breakfast (not her favorite meal so she doesn’t usually eat much)
9:30 If she went to bed late or doesn’t feel well then she’ll take a nap here for about an hour
Noon-ish Lunch time
1:00 Nap time (this nap usually lasts about 2.5-3 hours)
4:00 Small snack
5:30 Dinner
7:00 Begin bedtime routine (bath, Bible, singing)
7:30 In bed & asleep

Favorites – Bananas, yogurt, cheese (almost all food really), being chased, jumping on the couch, chewing on books/shoes, walking around with something in her mouth ALL OF THE TIME, bath time

Terrible Things About Life – Sharing with Abigail, not being held by Daddy when he comes home, having her diaper/clothes changed (seriously, the worst)

Charlotte might be petite but she is such a good eater! Breakfast is her least favorite meal of the day, but there are times during lunch and dinner when I almost feel like she would keep eating and eating as long as I kept putting food on her tray. I make some special little toddler foods for her but for the most part she eats everything that we eat, which makes meal times especially easy.

Most days are one-nap days now.  We typically have something to do in the mornings for at least half of the week, so its just easier for all days to exclude the morning nap.  She would totally still take both naps if I let her, but I get nervous that she’ll ruin her afternoon nap if she keeps taking morning naps :)

Charlotte started walking a couple of weeks before her first birthday.  For the last couple of months she would take a step here or there and she really love walking around while holding on to our fingers but now she pretty much prefers walking by herself and goes pretty long distances without falling!  I think the walking has helped her mood out a little bit.  She has been quite a bit fussier than Abigail was as a baby, but since she’s started walking I think she’s able to keep herself entertained a little better.

I don’t think you can see in any of the pictures, but Charlotte has 8 teeth! They are all of the front teeth and they are cute :)

I love it when Abigail and Charlotte interact well together. Abigail is getting better at sharing with Charlotte and being compassionate towards her. When Charlotte is upset, Abigail will sometimes say, “Its ok Charlotte” and pat her on the back or give her a kiss :) And my favorite is listening to them laugh at each other during car rides to church or the school.

Christmas 2012

Sorry for the long absence on the blog.  I feel like we’ve been super busy lately and blogging has not exactly been a priority.

This is the first year since Abigail was born that we’ve been able to visit family for Christmas.  Raymond’s new job allowed for about 2 weeks of Christmas vacation! So we took full advantage and visited both families!

Our first stop was with my family in Mississippi.  We spent 4 days here, which included Christmas Day.  For a lot of my extended family this was their first time seeing Charlotte in real life!  Both of the girls did a great job with traveling and meeting so many new people in such a short span of time.

The second stop was with Raymond’s family in Alabama.  Since we didn’t get to celebrate Christmas with them we spent about 6 days with his family. Abigail had a great time interacting with her cousin Mattilynn, who is one year older than Abigail.  And we are getting ready to add a 5th grandchild (the first boy!) to Mrs. Pat’s legacy as Cortney is closing in on her due date (middle-ish of March).

Here are a few of the better pictures from our camera.  There are quite a bit more…but those pictures are on other cameras, so please forgive us for the insufficiency of these photos.

Charlotte turns 1 in just a few weeks so look for a pretty full update on her next!

No More Diapers (mostly…) for Abigail!!!

Well, we made the big plunge into the world of potty training!

My original plan was to potty train at the beginning of the new year AFTER our trip home for Christmas. I really wasn’t interested in dealing with potty training issues while traveling and visiting family. I also really like being able to leave the house and not worry about how to fit a buggy into the Target bathroom so that Abigail can use the potty!…I know…silly, but a concern none-the-less.

Lately, though, Abigail has been SUPER enthusiastic about anything to do with a potty. I find her at least once a day in the bathroom with her diaper off and she always asks for a turn on the potty whenever she sees us going. So I started to become concerned that I would miss this great bought of enthusiasm if we waited until the beginning of the year. I decided to change my plan and attempt a somewhat more laid back version of potty training so that she wouldn’t become “addicted” to Kool-aid or juice. I really like that she only drinks water and I’m hoping that will help us to avoid cavities at a young age. I was also not very interested in using a small toddler potty…mostly because I think they’re gross but also because I would rather teach Abigail to use a regular potty so that she wouldn’t be afraid of it when we were out in public or at friends’ houses.

On Monday morning Abigail put some panties on and we began the process of learning how to use the potty! That first day was incredibly frustrating…Abigail was asking to go every minute or so but she never actually produced while on the potty. I think she may have been successful one time on Monday, right after her nap. However, by the end of the second day I could tell that she was making herself go when I put her on the potty! During this process, Abigail had one poopy accident, but ever since then she has asked to go potty whenever she needs to poop! After that second day we decided to start giving her treats every time she was successful so now she gets a sticker, an M&M, and a Skittle (we couldn’t decide what type of candy because I like M&Ms and Raymond likes Skittles…that’s right, we also get treats every time she’s successful!)

It is day 6 of potty training and Abigail is doing really awesome! She’s mostly accident free and while we’re still using a diaper during nap/night-time, she is usually dry when she wakes up :) She also really likes to go potty right before she goes to bed. The last 2 nights she has started screaming bloody-murder about 10 minutes after putting her to bed. I went in and both times I found her with her pajamas in the dirty clothes hamper and halfway through taking her diaper off…she just needed to use the bathroom :)

And now there’s pretty much nothing left to Abigail’s baby-ness… :( I’m grateful for clothes that fit better and for not having to change as many diapers, but it is really sad to see her growing up so quickly.

Thanksgiving Photo Shoot

Yesterday our local up-and-coming photo-guru, Caleb Drahosh, did a photo shoot with our family. As always, we are more than pleased with his work. Enjoy the photos