Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How quickly a forest is set on fire

A bolt of lightning at the base of Mt. Hood produced a fire that had smoke reaching over 11,000 feet high.

I couldn't help but think of James 3:5-6:

"So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell."

Pretty strong words, huh?! But I am sure we have all been on the receiving end and the giving end of words that burned, words that were not aptly spoken, words that did not give grace to the hearer but were more like sword thrusts, words that seemed so small and insignificant on the Richter scale of sin but produced thick, dark, billowing smoke.

I pray that I will not quickly forget the view of a smokey Mt. Hood...and that it would be a visual reminder of what my tongue can do.

May God help the words of David be our daily heart's cry, as well:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Monday, August 29, 2011

August Rewinded

I am going to try to do a few picture posts and catch up on some of our August happenings...and then I am hoping to get back to some more writing!

Grace asked if she could do a photo shoot with Tessie, our dog...so, for all you dog lovers out there, here are a few cute ones!

We were given tickets to a nearby water park (a first for most of our kids!) and we had a day of fun with church friends!

We had a lovely lunch with some dear "adopted grandparents" from church (my kids are so blessed to have lots of extra lovin'!) and I snapped these pictures in their beautiful garden. I realized when I looked back at the pictures that I should have cleaned up Titus' face but you all know how well he "cleans up" from the wedding picture I posted...so this one will have to do!:)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gospel Application

I can tell you that the reason I have not blogged in almost two weeks is NOT because there has been nothing to blog about!:) Extra time has been limited and, therefore, writing has had to take a backseat. Hopefully, this week will afford me some time to catch up with both words and pictures. Speaking of this week, for those of us living in British Columbia, this is our last week of summer vacation!

If you are anything like me, there is much to cram into this final week!:) That is why I thought an article (that I read this morning) by Rachel Jankovic is so timely and worth reposting here! (PS...even if you don't live in BC, it will still bless your mommy's heart, too...I promise!:))

Motherhood Is Application

If I had to pick one word to describe motherhood, I think that word would be “transforming.”

The days of a busy mother are made up of millions of transformations. Dirty children become clean, the hungry child fed, the tired child sleeping. Almost every task a mother performs in the course of a normal day could be considered a transformation. Disorder to order, dirty clothes to clean, unhappy children to peaceful, empty fridge to full. Every day we fight against disorder, filth, starvation, and lawlessness, and some days we might almost succeed. And then, while we sleep, everything unravels and we start again in the morning — transforming.

Days of these little cycles add up and suddenly you see a big transformation. A nursing infant has become a boy on a bicycle, a baby bump has grown into a toddler, and children have been changed into brothers and sisters.

Then there is the kind of transformations that we do — not because we work at it, but because we were created to do it. You eat your lunch, and your body transforms it into nourishment for a baby. Taking something too big for an infant, and still finding a way to feed them with it — with the goal of growing them up to do it themselves.

Pregnancy and nursing are only a small part of a child’s life though — and this cycle is clearly not only a physical one. It is the spiritual cycle of food that is so much more important, and so much less talked about. Christian mothering is a constant cycle of nourishment — both physical and spiritual.

We Apply What We Believe

In the same way we take the food we eat and make it into something the baby can eat (and our bodies simply do this without us willing them to), so we take what we believe about God and the gospel and faith and life, and we apply it in the places that seem too little for it.

Imagine yourself in your kitchen trying to make dinner for a group of little kids who are tired and should have eaten a half hour ago. Imagine that things are going wrong beyond that — maybe you are out of something you assumed you had, children are fussing with one another, and maybe your littlest is still at the age where they come stand on your feet and pull on your pant leg. Bonus points if you are wearing maternity pants and this little person is actually capable of pulling your pants down. You are hot, you are tired, and you are sick of it.

This is no time for a gospel presentation. There isn’t time. There isn’t anyone to lead the discussion around the felt board, because you are still scrambling to figure out dinner. This isn’t a time for a gospel presentation because it is a time for gospel application. This is a time to take the grace that God has extended to you, and feed your children with it. Apply what you believe about God’s mercy and kindness and long suffering towards us, and pour it out to them — in a form they can believe in. Unrest like this is just like a baby crying for a bottle — only what they need is spiritual milk. They need you to feed them, not with a lecture, but with application.

You Have Everything You Need

Mothering is a job that is full of difficult moments. Diapers blow out in stores when you have too much in your cart to just walk out. Sudden carsickness can leave you pulled over on the side of the road wondering just how much can be done with half a bag of wet wipes. You need to take what you believe and apply it to these difficult moments. Does the Bible teach us that God is disgusted by our frailty? That he doesn’t want to carry our burdens? That he doesn’t have the energy to deal with us?

The good news is, you don’t need to have been through some elite mother’s training camp to apply the gospel in your life. You need to believe. Trust God, give thanks. Laugh. Believe — and that will feed your children. Rest in God, and your children will learn to. Extend God’s kindness to you, to them. Forgive them the way God forgave you. You have everything you need to spiritually nourish your children, because you have Christ.

The gospel is not just something to talk about Sunday morning while you are in clean clothes and the kids are looking orderly. It is not limited to quiet times and reflective moods. It is something to apply while you are in a difficult position in the back of the car trying to buckle a child up who is playing the kazoo and needs their nose wiped.

God is not above these moments. He is teaching us, and leading us, and refining us, in them. He wants to see our faith in action. He wants to see us feeding our children with the grace that he has given to us.

Mimic the Gospel

Of course, this side of heaven we will not do perfectly. Harsh words will be spoken, patience will wear thin. Frazzled mothers will act frazzled. And when this happens, our own sinfulness does not detract from the power of the gospel, it illustrates why we need it. Do not use your own mistakes as an excuse to wallow about what a bad mother you are. Repent, seek forgiveness, get it right, and move on. Believe. Be forgiven. Extend that forgiveness, that belief, that joy, to your children.

As you go about your daily transformations, set your heart on the truth. Mimic the gospel in what you do. Bring peace, bring order, bring joy, bring laughter. Bring it because it was brought to you. Give, because it was given to you. The gospel is not too big to fit into little situations. It is too big not to.

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
Proverbs 31:25-26

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome Natalie Ann Johnson!

Yesterday, after 3 1/2 hours of labor (short but not sweet!), my little sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Natalie Ann weighs 6 pounds 13 ounces and is 19 inches long.

I have the sweet blessing of heading down there in two days to spend some time with them...and I can't wait!

Congratulations Aaron, Kimberley, and Linnea!!!!!

Thanks for taking the pictures, Kimiko!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Big Fat Zero!

A verse that we turned to yesterday in church was 2 Corinthians 5:14, "For the love of Christ controls us..." and my heart immediately yearned for those words to be living and active in my own life. That in all that I say and do, His love would be what compels me. A love that is patient and kind. A love that is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. A love that lays down it's life for others and considers others more important then myself.

There are many times that, though I may be doing the right thing, it is not out of love. My motivation can fall far short of realizing the great love with which I have been loved and then living my life in such a way that proclaims that great love! Selfishness, ease, man-pleasing, among other things, can be at the root of some of the "right things" I do and it's far from God's desire or plan. In fact, He says in 1 Corinthians 13 that it's little more than a banging gong or clanging cymbal. Speaking on 1 Corinthians 13, Jerry Bridges says the following:

"Write down, either in your imagination or on a sheet of paper, a row of zeros. Keep adding zeros until you have filled a whole line on the page. What do they add up to? Exactly nothing! Even if you were to write a thousand of them, they would still be nothing. But put a positive number in front of them and immediately they have value. This is the way it is with our gifts and faith and zeal. They are the zeros on the page. Without love, they count for nothing. But put love in front of them and immediately they have value. And just as the number two gives more value to a row of zeros than the number one does, so more and more love can add exponentially greater value to our gifts."

May God give us hearts that are utterly controlled by his love!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You wanna hear something funny....

I have been feeling pretty icky and have had a killer sore throat, so I went to the doctors today. I have an infection in my throat on my vocal chords and the doctor told me not to talk for two days!:)

How likely is that?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Found Wanting

Our pastor has been going through the book of Daniel with us and in Daniel chapter 5, there was something that really struck a chord with me. King Belshazzar is being cursed by God (through Daniel) and it was written on the wall for all to see: "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN".

It was the word "TEKEL" that gave me pause. Verse 27 says it means "You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting".

You see, I am prone to feel like that...I "weigh" my marriage and see that I am found wanting in my submission to Bryan. I "weigh" my "mommyhood" and see all the ways I fall short in loving them with God's love. I "weigh" my prayer life and recognize my lack of depending on God and, instead, try to do those things in my own strength. When I "weigh" out my life, when I take a good look at the sin that so easily entangles my thoughts and actions...I see all that I am lacking, all that I want to be, but am not...and I can't help but see just how far short I fall of God's glorious standard. It can be a very discouraging place to be...in fact, for King Belshazzar, it meant death!

What I forget though is that, as a child of God, the word "TEKEL" has been replaced by 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" and Isaiah 61:10, "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness...".

Jerry Bridges said it beautifully in his book, "The Gospel for Real Life":

"There is nothing you will ever do that makes you acceptable to God. You must be accepted for Christ's sake, not only when you believe, but for all of your life. Regardless of how much you grow in Christ, you will never arrive at a point when your Christian character or conduct will make you acceptable to God. You will always be dependent upon the perfect righteousness of Christ. God will accept nothing else. That is why justification must be for us not only a past event, but a present reality."

As a lover of Jesus, the scales have been covered in the blood of Christ! To God be the glory, great things He hath done!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Handsome Little Man

Titus had the privilege of being in the wedding of some of our friends at church this past weekend. While I didn't manage to get a picture of the beautiful couple :( I did catch a couple other ones!

Titus was not too happy when he found out the tux had to be returned. As our child who always like a uniform for every occasion, he fell in love with his tux. Although, it might of had something to do with all the older girls who kept coming up to him telling him how cute he looked!:)
Bella, Titus, and Hayley (sisters of the groom)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


They are pesky little creatures, aren't they?! I can't help but wonder if they were part of the original creation or God made them after the "fall"!:)

Tonight we thought we would try to bring some cool air into the house by opening our back doors. The cool air wasn't the only thing that snuck in the house and we spent the last couple of hours swatting, smacking, and itching. They were so small and yet they consumed a bunch of our time tonight!

I couldn't help but think that is what our thoughts do when we don't take them captive. When we let a sinful thought (hurt, disappointment, complaining, anger, irritation, etc...) start flying around in our head, it can cause quite the commotion! We end up swatting and smacking the people involved in that thought and we end up itching to see ourselves justified or see the other person "get theirs". And, before we know it, we become consumed with something that should have been left at the feet of Jesus hours ago!

How do I know? Because I have had mosquitoes in my thoughts more times than I would like to admit!

So, would you join me in putting up the screen door on our minds by taking "every thought captive to obey Christ", by "rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in all circumstances", and by "trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, not leaning on our own understanding"?! It's a sure way to keep the mosquitoes away!:)

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On the road with my girls

For the last several months, I have wanted to get away with the girls for some special time together. We have done short trips for coffee or to run some errands...but we have never had any real type of extended time...until this weekend! And what a sweet time it was!

They had no idea we were going anywhere until the night before we left. Bryan and I got them out of bed, gave them invitations to go with me (in the morning) to Seattle for a day and a half, and Bryan gave them each $50 dollars to spend at the outlets on school needs and a little bit of fun, too! The only time they have ever seen $50 is from family on their birthday so they were SO excited!
In fact, after we had been shopping for a couple of hours at the outlets, Grace held out her arms and said, "Mom, I can't believe we are actually carrying bags. I can't believe we have actually bought stuff instead of just looking!" My eyes filled up and my heart warmed up and bubbled over in giggles.
I love having a big family, but there are sacrifices that sometimes have to be made in a bigger family...and it blessed my heart over and over to see the excitement in my girls eyes as they tried on clothes, exclaimed over sales, and did happy dances with me when, at the checkout, it was even less than the sale price said!:)
We made our way to my brother and sister-in-law's place (they moved to downtown Seattle back in the fall) and met up with my brother Paul (and his girlfriend, Sarah!) for dinner. It was so fun to WALK to dinner and back. Although, I probably could have done a lot more walking after eating my birthday cheesecake!:)

Michelle took a good part of the day off on Monday and we had fun spending it together! We walked to Top Pot Doughnuts for a mid-morning treat and then walked down to Pike's Place to look around. The girls didn't care much for the crowds :) but they did get a kick out of the "gum wall". They were not exactly sure why their Aunt Michelle gave them gum while we were walking with the instructions to "chew, chew, chew" but once we got to the wall, it all made sense!:) I think Grace was a bit grossed out.:)
We made our way to one of the malls and had fun with Michelle!:) She is one pretty special lady...it's a blessing to be able to call her "sister" and that my kids get to call her "aunt"!

Our time away was full of sweet memories. I was thankful for extra time to talk to Grace and Faith. Thankful for the honest conversations we were able to have (yep...I even asked them to tell me one thing they like about me and one thing they don't), thankful for the fact that "three" wasn't a crowd and it was still personal and special although it wasn't "one on one". I was so thankful to the Lord for all the times we just laughed together, for the little things I learned about each of them that made some of the bigger things make more sense, and even for the all the times they kept mentioning how great it was that Dad would watch their brothers and do all that he did so we could get away. I loved that they loved their Dad even more for his sacrifice though he was not with us!

It was not "Sleepless in Seattle" but it sure was "Sweetness in Seattle"!:)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another one bites the dust...another year, that is!

I celebrated my 32nd birthday on Saturday. It was a great day....a sweet "surprise coffee" with a couple of friends and then an afternoon/evening getaway with Bryan thanks to my neighbor/friend/sister in Christ! We went to the beach and enjoyed walking, paddle boarding, and some really great Greek food! We came home to a house that was "decorated", a table prepared for dessert, and a bunch of sweet kiddos all decked out in their Sunday best, ready to serve, sing, and bless the birthday girl!

A beautiful birthday cake made by another sweet friend...how blessed I felt!