Resurrection Sunday 2018

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For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
1 Corinthians 15:16-19 (ESV)Resurrection Sunday collage

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“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:4-6

IMG_8866_wmBut in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV)IMG_8096_wm{Our Family – Resurrection Sunday 2018}

We serve a risen Savior!

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Filed under Life in Ministry, Pastor's Wife, The Lord's Day, Traditions & Celebrations

Listen.

Over the past several years, I have noticed a trend of choosing a “word of the year.” This seems to be the new New Year’s Resolution. A mantra, of sorts, to inspire change, growth, or simplicity (all common words-of-the-year, by the way) in the upcoming year.

I have shied away from this particular blogging/social media trend, because it has always seemed to be just a little too close to “name it and claim it” territory for my comfort.

Until this year.

It was quite unintentional, I assure you. And, as I have actively, and quite intentionally avoided this particular blogging/social media trend, I figure it is only appropriate that I am also bucking the common practice of declaring my word at the beginning of the year…

Last Christmas, my husband gave me The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women. And, as the Lord often does, it was exactly what I needed to read…starting in the very first chapter!

The chapter was on Anger. And, while I do not typically think of myself as an angry person (oh, I have my moments!), maybe it would be better to say that I do not like to think of myself as an angry person. But, it wasn’t the specific topic of anger that resonated with me. It was the idea of listening.

John and Janie Street explained it this way:

“Listening is hard to do when you’re angry, because true listening involves submission. This requires a silent, inward confession that your demands and anger are not right and that you need the correction and help of another. This is not listening for some audible voice from God, because He has already communicated to you everything you need in His Word. When you try to hear an audible voice, you betray your lack of trust in the sufficiency of His Word (2 Peter 1:3, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Instead, listen to God through the truth of His Word – the Bible. … But, you must not stop with just listening. To listen carefully, you must not continue to speak.” (The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, pgs. 31-32, bold mine)

My family talks…a lot. I think it was a bit unnerving for my husband when we started dating. Family dinners were loud. Words flew at a furious pace. Good-natured arguments and friendly debates were common. We interrupted, and talked over one another. Sentences often overlapped. Thoughts were often left incomplete. None of it was done maliciously, or with the intention of being rude or inconsiderate. That’s just how we communicated.

It was the polar opposite of his family’s way of doing things. His family was quiet. Conversations were slow and deliberate. They waited for someone to finish a thought (maybe a sentence, maybe an entire paragraph) before chiming in. And, the general pace of conversation was much slower.

So, early on in our marriage, my husband frequently pointed out my propensity to interrupt him. Honestly, I dismissed his observation, and his rebukes. I wasn’t doing it to be rude. I was doing it out of habit.

But, it bothered him.

And, the truth is, it was inconsiderate. It was rude. It was disrespectful.

And, if “true listening involves submission,” this was an obvious lack of submission on my part.

Instead of listening to him, to his perspective, and his opinions…I would cut him off, or talk over him, in order to share my opinions, and defend myself and my perspective…again. And, I am not only talking in the context of disagreements, although those types of conversations would definitely fall into this category. Sadly, I am mostly talking about normal, everyday communication.

“Speaking when you should be listening only interrupts the valuable insight that you are lacking.” (The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, pg. 32)

To say I have been a slow learner in this area would be a gross understatement. I am embarrassed to say that we had been married almost 15 years…and I was only just beginning to recognize the enormity of my problem in this area. And, as I began to realize the years of wisdom and valuable insights I had missed out on (both from him, and from others), by insisting on speaking, when I should have been listening…I finally wanted to take his concern seriously.

Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (ESV)

And, James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (ESV)

There is no sugar-coating it. Scripture calls an over-abundance of words, and the speed with which we rush to verbalize them, sin.

So, I took those verses as my starting point for this past year. Even though I had read them numerous times, I began to meditate on them, daily. And, I made it my goal to prayerfully apply them in every single conversation and interaction that I had…with my husband, with my children, with the people in my church, and online.

To listen carefully, you must not continue to speak. This became my motto (not mantra!) for this last year.

Did I do it perfectly? No. I think, this side of Heaven, it will always be a struggle.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” James 3:3 (ESV)

In his sermon on Taming the Tongue, John MacArthur says,

“if I want to focus my Christian life on one thing, if I want to get my act together, if I want to bring my whole spiritual life into control, I ought to work on my what?  My tongue.  Well, now we realize that it’s not fully possible to totally have a holy tongue, but to the extent that one controls his tongue, he will control his body.  Why?  Because whatever spiritual dynamics work to control your tongue will therefore work to control the rest of you. But it makes it so simple and so dynamic if we can just concentrate on the tongue.  Isn’t that practical?  I mean, just get it down to that. Focus on your mouth. And if the Holy Spirit gets control of the most volatile and the most potent member, the rest will be subdued.” (Taming the Tongue, part 1)

And, over the course of the year, I found that I could sum up my goal in one simple word:

Listen.

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” James 1:26 (ESV)

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Filed under Biblical Womanhood, Marriage, Thinking Biblically

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime!

…this baby made the angels sing,
And this baby made a new star shine in the sky.
This baby had come to change the world.
This baby was God’s own son, this baby was like no other one.
This baby was God with us, this baby was Jesus.
~Steven Curtis Chapman, This Baby

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It’s no secret. I love Christmas! I took hundreds of pictures in 48 hours! Even though I am already enjoying looking back on them, and reliving the special moments, don’t worry. I won’t subject you to all of them. But, here is just a little glimpse into our family Christmas Celebrations…

Yes, celebrations. Plural. We kind of like to celebrate.

We started with a lovely Christmas Eve service with our dear church family. (Yes. We consider them family…because, they are!)

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Later, that afternoon, Jason’s parents (known to the kids as Grammy and Grampy) came over for dinner and presents! Although I spent a good portion of the 23rd cooking, in preparation for our meal, in the many pictures I took, not one is of our Christmas dinner. Oh well. Next year. Maybe.

Grammy and Grampy picked out some fun things for the Stockings that they gave the kids. Duck masks, finger lights, candy, stamps and stamp pads, stickers, light up tops, chapstick, and fun characters… I almost think the kids would have been perfectly satisfied to end the gift opening there… Almost.

2017-12-24There were Lots of Legos: Police, Lego Friends, and American Girl. Rebekah was so excited when she opened her very own American Girl “legos”. Rachel got a broom, mop, and duster. And, I am going to have the cleanest house in town if this little girl gets her way! Titus has been begging for a real watch for weeks. He couldn’t have been more excited to get a Spider-Man watch! (Unfortunately, the battery died shortly after he opened it…and he cannot wait until we can get it fixed so he can tell time.)  And, Hannah got a digital camera! You all think I take a lot of pictures? I have competition! I think she might have taken as many pictures as I did during our Christmas celebrations!

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Christmas Morning is our family celebration.

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{Christmas Morning}

Even though we don’t “do” the Santa thing, I always wait until after the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve to put any gifts under the tree. So, I always love seeing their faces light up when they come downstairs and see what “appeared” overnight!

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Stockings are always first… I had so much fun finding stocking stuffers this year. I may have gone a little overboard, as it was difficult to fit everything in. (And we do not have small stockings!!)

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We took a break between the stockings and the presents for breakfast. For the past several years I’ve been looking for alternatives to the easy make-ahead, overnight casseroles that I used to make. (Titus is allergic to eggs, so anything egg-based is out.) Biscuits have become our standard “special occasion” breakfast. It isn’t fancy, but, since it isn’t something we have very often, the kids love them! Jason’s dad sent us a gift of cinnamon rolls, so I added those to our morning menu at the last minute, as a special treat!

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I know that Christmas isn’t about the gifts. But, I love to find special items for my family…and I love to see the joy on my children’s (and husband’s) faces when they open up a fun surprise, or something that they have wanted…

2017-12-25One of the things I love most about our Christmas morning is how the kids take their time opening gifts. We take turns…watching each person. They pause, and look at each present…stopping to read books, carefully examining each toy, or even trying on clothing…before moving on to the next gift. And, there were many smiles, squeals, and hugs.

IMG_7272wmThis was my favorite moment of the day!
It just so perfectly captured what I imagine when I think of Christmas Morning.

Because we had enjoyed our “fancy” meal the day before, the rest of the day was very relaxed. Everyone got to enjoy their new toys and books. And, the dining room and coffee table were Lego construction zones!!

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Later in the afternoon, Grandma and Boppy came over!

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I had some very excited kids… Grandma and Boppy found some fun play food for the play kitchen. We enjoyed an assortment of sandwiches, hamburgers, fruit, and played “guess the ingredients” with our little chefs. In keeping with the cleaning theme, Rachel got a vacuum cleaner! I am not exaggerating when I say this girl loves doing housework with me. Titus got 2 3-in-1 Lego sets…one was a truck, a rocket, and an airplane. The other had a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, and a Pterodactyl. He could not decide which dinosaur to build first! Hannah spent the time looking way too grown up…especially opening gifts from Bath and Body Works. But, I love that she still squealed like a little girl when she got a barn for her horses. And, Grandma and Boppy found some fun blankets for the kids. The girls each got a Mermaid-Tail, in their favorite color (pink for Rachel, Aqua for Hannah, and Purple for Rebekah). And Titus got a Shark-Tail!

26026006_10215158027325221_1589805862387084074_owmMy cozy Mermaids and Shark Boy enjoying A Charlie Brown Christmas before bed.

We really did have a wonderful Christmas this year. I hope you all did too!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Good Night!

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Filed under Christmas, Life, Mommyhood, Traditions & Celebrations

Christmas Jammies

Each year, we let the kids each open one gift on Christmas Eve. I think by now they have all realized that they are getting new pajamas. But, in my opinion, that is just part of the fun…and the tradition!

Here they are opening their “Christmas Jammies.”

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Hannah got a Fox. Titus got Dinosaurs.
Rebekah got Ballerinas. And, Rachel got Kitties.

You might notice that their jammies are not particularly Christmas-y.
That’s intentional. I like to get something fun. Something that represents them…their likes, personality, or interests.
Plus, this way they can wear them beyond Christmas Day!
(Yes. Sometimes I am too practical for my own good.)

Aren’t they adorable?!

IMG_7029wmLooking cute and cozy in their new Christmas Jammies.

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Filed under Christmas, Hannah Elisabeth, Life, Mommyhood, Rachel Susannah, Rebekah Ann, Titus Ryle, Traditions & Celebrations

Christmas Eve Service

I love when Christmas, or Christmas Eve, falls on Sunday.

Here we are…all ready for church on Christmas Eve morning!

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We have a wonderful church family!
It was a sweet blessing to spend the morning worshipping, and celebrating the birth of our Savior together.

2017_12_241 We have some very talented musicians in our church! And, they all did a wonderful job.
Hannah played her flute as part of an instrumental ensemble.
And, all three of the older kids sang in the children’s choir.

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{Our Family – Christmas Eve 2017}

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Filed under Children in Church, Christmas, Life in Ministry, Pastor's Wife, The Lord's Day, Traditions & Celebrations