Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas part 3

This is the last Christmas post, I mean it. I'm actually pretty excited to blog about the new year - we do quite a bit of reflection on the past year and our goals and thinking ahead to new goals for next year. But more on that in a few days. Later on Christmas day, we went to our friend's house - the Hintz's. It was a fun time and we even did a little karaoke!Matt and Nate loved it.

As did Julia and Andrew, and Emery vicariously. And a side note about the weather - today was a balmy day in the 60's. Last Friday was 71! It was warmer than CA that day! It went from highs in the single digits to 60+ degrees warmer in the span of 1 week. Crazy. But I love it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas part 2

Our Christmas was pretty easy going. We got up and had the kids open 1 present each before having breakfast. Then I read the Christmas story to them from Matthew and Luke while using some flannel graph and nativity scene figurines. We finished opening presents and played with them the rest of the day. Emery really appreciated her gifts...

I think this was the beginning of many hours in front of the mirror for her. But just like most people, as a child and now a parent, Christmas is definitely one of the best days of the year for me. But how do we, on a real practical basis, make Christmas more about Jesus and less about presents and food and worldly joy? How do we avoid spending 5 minutes talking about Jesus being the reason for the season and spend the rest of the day focusing on worldly pleasures? How do I, as a parent, not reinforce this message by getting such a huge kick out of watching my kids get so excited about gifts? Because Andrew is now 6 (and will be having permanent memories), I really want to make progress in this area so this is what we tried to do:

First, it definitely helps to have less gifts. The kids received fewer gifts than past years and were just as happy with what they got. Second, it definitely helps to spend less on the gifts. It helped us as parents to think more creatively and work a little harder to tailor our gifts to our kids to their specific interests and abilities. Third, we tried to get more gifts that were interactive with other people. That way we could all enjoy the gifts together by playing together rather than having each kid playing by himself/herself and becoming more self-absorbed.

But those things are all exterior actions that by themselves don't truly address my heart and the kids' hearts. So most importantly this year, I realized that as great a day as Christmas is, heaven will be infinitely better in quality and everlasting duration. So instead of feeling guilty (at times) that my kids were enjoying their gifts, I used this as an opportunity to point them to the greater joy in Christ in heaven through the gifts. I thought about it all day and reminded them about it all day. It made our Christmas even more special, more fun, and more Christ centered.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Our little princess had a very merry Christmas!First, she got her crown and earrings.Then she got her necklace and slippers.Last, she got her skirt and fairy wings. She was so excited, she didn't even speak. This year was our first Christmas day with no extended family. We enjoyed starting our own family traditions but definitely missed "Cancun" and grandma and grandpa. So here are some Christmas greetings to both grandparents!

I know they don't sound like they mean it, but they do. It was just a lot to memorize...

Uncle Sam's birthday is today too...Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Girls v. boys

Here's the difference between a little girl feeding a baby, patting her back and burping her...

And her 2 older brothers, attempting to do the same...

Somehow they always ends up yelling, running and falling to the ground. Go figure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


They'll probably kill us when they become teenagers, but we couldn't resist taking this picture. The other night, the wind was blowing pretty strong around here (gusts of up to 50 mph). Matt was a bit scared so he climbed into big brother's bed for the first time for comfort.I'm not sure what happened, but somehow during the night, he either got brave or big bro kicked him out because he was back in his bed by morning!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cat and deer

No, we didn't buy a cat, and I didn't shoot a deer...yet, or probably ever. But the cat got a lot of tongues and man did we have a lot of deer in the headlight imitators...

It's hard to tell, but I'm just going to tell myself that Matt was trying to sing but he wanted to be humble and not steal the show. In any event, here are some random winter thoughts:
  • People talk about the weather here like Californians talk about the traffic
  • The temperature can drop about 40 degrees in a couple of hours during the joke. I went into church and it was in the 50's. When I left, it was in the teens.
  • There is something called freezing fog. I haven't experienced it yet, but it doesn't sound good.
  • Did you know ice can form on the INSIDE of the window? And yes, we have our heat on in the house. I haven't figure that one out either.
Here's some more video of the boys "shoveling" snow.

In a couple of years, I may become a snowball casualty while trying to capture blog footage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter wonderland!

It snowed about 4 inches over night so we woke up to a beautiful white coating of snow.
This is the view from our back door. I took the day off to take care of an ailing wife and to build a snowman with the boys.The boys are all bundled up and ready to go (it was about 15 degrees outside)! Can you tell how excited they are to build a snowman? But before we could play, I put the boys to work to clear the driveway. Matt was a flurry of activity...though I'm not sure how much snow got moved.

Matt went from testosterone surge to air guitar nation.
But in the end, we managed to build a snowman, sort of. It started out as a snowman, then it became the Lee family mountain, then Mt Rushmore, then a snow volcano, and I think it ended up as Jabba the Hut in the snow. And if you are wondering where the girl was in all this. She did manage to venture outside.But after a few minutes of feeling the cold (and literally she hardly moved from that position the whole time), she decided that this was not the place for a little girl and quickly went back inside!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are you an instrument?

I just finished Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp - an excellent read but it will require some will power as it is 300+ pages and not fluffy though not super dense either. But before I get to that, do you know what the temperature was this morning? 4 degrees! With a windchill of 16 below zero. To all our CA friends, that's not 16 below freezing, that's 48 degrees lower than water turns to ice. And it warmed up to a whopping 13 degrees this afternoon with a windchill of -1.

An ancient and wise philosopher named Conan the Barbarian once said, "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger." Here's to hoping I don't die of cold. Of course, then I'd be with Jesus in heaven so maybe Kansas IS the Promised Land...It really isn't that bad. I've just been sick for what seems like the last 3 months and Emery is still on sleep strike with her last 2 molars coming in, crying multiple times at night for the last 3 months too.

But I digress, back to Instruments, Tripp writes this as almost a summary of the book, "I am hit with the utter simplicity of biblical personal ministry. It is not a secret technology for the intervention of the elite, but a simple call to every one of God's children to be part of what God is doing in the lives of others, loving as Christ loved, and going beyond the casual to really know people. It is loving others enough to speak the truth to them, helping them to see themselves in the mirror of God's Word. And it is standing with others, helping them to do what God has called them to do. It is basically just a call to biblical friendship! It is almost embarrassingly simple: Love people. Know them. Speak truth into their lives. Help them do what God has called them to do." [emphasis mine]

As an equipping pastor, I desire that every single member of our church could be doing this. Not just the pastors, not just the elders, but I hope that every single Christian would truly love, know, speak and help others love the Lord with all their heart. I really appreciated Tripp's exhortations to really know others. To really know the struggles and yearnings of others is a difficult and scary thing (and to let others know your struggles and successes), but it is so crucial to being a Christian in a properly functioning church.

But how can this happen? I just happened to read a little booklet by John Piper called Rethinking Retirement (and yes, I have been planning for retirement for many years now though the last thing Sandy and I will be doing during retirement is moving to Florida and playing golf all day) and he had a very related comment. He writes, "This is the key to finishing life [or starting life and living life everywhere in between] to the glory of Christ. If we are going to make Christ look glorious in the last years of our lives, we must be satisfied in him. He must be our Treasure. And the life that we live must flow from this all-satisfying Christ. And the life that flows from the soul that lives on Jesus is a life of love and service. This is what will make Christ look great. When our hearts find their rest in Christ, we stop using other people to meet our needs, and instead we make ourselves servants to meet their needs. This is so contrary to the unregenerate human heart that it stands out as something beautiful to be followed or something convicting to be crucified."

We can love, know, speak truth, and help others once we treasure Christ above all else...even when it's 4 degrees outside.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let it snow!

On Tue, we had our first real snowfall this winter - some 2 inches or so. It was really cool! I have not seen snow falling like this for over 8 years! And the boys and girl have never seen it.Here's the view from our front door.Andrew was soooooo excited to shovel the driveway when he got home from school. I can only hope he maintains this enthusiasm for the next 10 years, but I won't hold my breath. He's been waiting for snow ever since he found out we were moving to Kansas. The first words out of his mouth when I told him that we're moving were, "Will it snow there?! And can we build a snow man?!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008's still fall

Technically, for about another 2 weeks. But when I took Andrew to school this morning, the temperature was something like 16 degrees with a wind chill of 8. And for our non-Emporian friends, it snowed yesterday for the first time (I'll post some pictures soon, I'm having some cord connection issues). But in light of the temperatures being the coldest for me in the last 8 years, I've learned to bundle up a bit.Matt and the kids look cute all bundled up, but everyone around here gives me some good natured ribbing as they're still wearing their fall gear - a sweatshirt or a light coat. On the other hand, I'm wearing about 4 layers on top, 2 pants, 2 coats, hat, scarf, and gloves. But it's worth it - I'm warm!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas cookies

Along with all the decorating, we baked some cookies this past weekend. The boys and girl had quite the afternoon.First, they cut out the cookies.

Then, while busy at work, they had deep discussions about "when they were little" - when was that? Last week?Ta-dah! (Don't worry, they tasted better than they looked!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like... least at our house. We finished decorating on the inside and the outside today. It's hard to get a feel for the outside with just a picture (not that it's all that exciting in person either), but here's the inside:The boys and girl seem to be happy with the decor.Christmas in Kansas is fun! And we haven't even gotten the first snow yet!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Poor Emzy!

The day started out a little rough for our girl. She had a fever, was having chills, and was definitely not her usual, peppy, talkative self. It was really quite sad to see. But I guess the meds kicked in for a little bit (though as I write this her fever has hit again hard) so that in the afternoon, we got to decorate our first Christmas tree in Kansas. It was a jolly good time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Little angel

Andrew had his school Christmas program this week and they sang the song "Little Angel." I apologize in advance for the blurry and somewhat shaky picture. And if you can't see him, he's the one behind the giant black notebook which he is probably not even reading. (By the way, if you're not his grandma, this video may not be too exciting)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holy horses!

We went to a friend's house for dinner last week, Thanksgiving dinner to be exact. They have several acres, a couple of calves and a few horses. It was quite the experience for the boys and girl.Andrew enjoyed the hay.
Emery was the only one brave enough to ride a horse! And if you are wondering where Matt is, he lasted about 2 seconds outside before he bolted back to the safety of the house.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Keys to good communication

Have you ever tried to explain something to someone and he/she just wasn't getting it? Well that happens to 3 year-olds too.
Matt and Emery put on headbands and stuck combs and brushes in them. Then the following conversation occurred:
Matt: "Yeah! We're Knights!"
Emery: "Yeah! Where's a knife!"
Matt: "No,, we're KNIGHTS!"
Emery: "Yeah! We're NICE!"
Matt gives up and they both run around - Matt yelling, "We're knights!" with Emery yelling, "We're a knife!"

Friday, November 28, 2008

What are you thankful for?

Probably as many of you did, we spent a little time yesterday as a family talking about things that we are thankful for. We talked about being thankful for Jesus' death on the cross for our sin, the Bible, family, and toys, among many other things. But one thing that God has been convicting me of lately to be more thankful of, is suffering and those brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering around the world today.

Now I have gone through some trials for Christ's sake but I have never suffered in a biblical sense. But in reading Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, I have realized a new appreciation for those who have and are suffering. Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor in Romania who was tortured and imprisoned in 1948 for 14 years in Romania by the Communists. And when he was not imprisoned, he was a vital part of the underground church there.

In describing some of his tortures, he writes, "The tortures and brutality continued without interruption. When I lost consciousness or became too dazed to give the torturers any further hopes of confession, I would be returned to my cell. There I would lie, unattended and half dead, to regain a little strength so they could work on me again. Many died at this stage, but somehow my strength always managed to return. In the ensuing years, in several different prisons, they broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen holes in my body."

The stories of torture are sometimes graphic and often gut wrenching. There were many inspiring and Christ glorifying moments in his life, but what amazed me was not just the resiliency to suffer for Christ's name but the love for and fervor to witness to both his torturers and to other prisoners as he suffered. He writes, "A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us - so everyone was happy."

Not every story was inspiring though. Some broke my heart with how professed Christians turned from Christ. But considering the horrific sacrifices some had to make to follow Christ not only for themselves but for their children (you'd have to read it to understand it), I'm not sure I would have been able to do much different. How willing am I to sacrifice my life or my children's lives and suffer for Jesus?

Could I be like John and Peter who rejoiced "that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name" after they had been beaten in Acts 5? Am I even living for Christ strongly enough so that I exemplify an "aroma of Christ" that to those who are not Christians is an "aroma of death" (2 Cor 2:14-16)? For Jesus said, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).

Thank God for those faithful saints who are an aroma of death, who do rejoice when they suffer for Christ's name, and who are martyred for the glory of Christ. I will be thankful for them more and pray for them more. In recent years, it is estimated that 160,000 Christians are martyred every year.

If you are interested in reading it, Voice of the Martyrs is giving out free copies of Tortured for Christ -

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Last week, we tried out the bowling alley here in town. It was the first time everyone got to bowl a game and it was free because we had coupons! I doubt we'll ever hit 300 or even 200, but we had fun.

Emery enjoyed her first game ever.

And Andrew showed some of his other moves.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pajama time!

As I was looking for a specific pair of pajamas for Matthew the other day, I noticed that his drawer was awfully full with many sets of pajamas. That inspired this photo collection:

Buzz Lightyear PJ's

Firetruck PJ's

Helicopter PJ's

Camouflage PJ's

Astronaut PJ's

Space PJ's

Doggy PJ's

Do you think he has enough? In fairness, some of those are long johns and not really PJ's. But Emery sums it up perfectly...

Friday, November 21, 2008

What does daddy do at work all day?

Sandy posed that question to the boys and girl recently. Here's what they said:
Andrew: He tells people about the Bible.
Matthew: ummm...Legos?...I don't know.
Emery: He teach Andrew.

I'm glad one of them knew the right answer! Here's what I've been doing lately (when I take a break from the Legos) and just finished today - - It's been quite the project, and I've learned more about web sites than I ever wanted to know. Hopefully, it will be helpful to our church and used of the Lord.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bye grandma...again

Sandy's mom came out for the week. It went by fast. But the boys and girl had a great time with her as usual. They did a lot of playing, shopping, and even some reading.And on a separate note, today is a fabulous day with highs in the 60's - wa-hoo! The little ones had a nice picnic on the front step - yum!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Star Wars

I'm not a huge fan, but I am a fan. Yet, I have not exposed Andrew to the ways of the Force. Somehow though, the Force seems to have found him. He has never seen a movie but he knows a lot of the characters and some of the storyline already. I guess the Force is strong in him.He made up some Star Wars cards. Matthew helped.Here are the cards closer up (from left to right, top to bottom): General Grievous, Darth Vader, The Emperor, ??, R2-D2, and not a storm trooper but a clone trooper.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

You know your grandma's cool when...

She gets you tats! Tattoos that is.Can you tell the kiddos love them? Sandy's mom is in town for the week and that has meant lots of fun and gifts for the boys and girl. And on a separate note, thanks for everyone's concern and prayers for my health. By God's grace, I am all better. Praise God!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


No, not real ones. But 3 cute and not as furry ones were seen scampering around the house.Here they are proudly showing off their lovely striped tails.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

3 benefits of sickness

I've been battling what seemed like a common cold for over a month. Every few days I'd get better, then I'd try and get back to normal and regress. Then I'd take a couple of days resting or off, and go through the cycle again. I tried vitamins (lots of vitamin C), anti-oxidants, OJ, Airborne, Cranberry juice, green tea and chicken soup. I finished off a bottle of Nyquil, almost a bottle of Dayquil, TheraFlu, almost a bottle of Advil, a bag of cough drops, some Sudafed, some Benadryl, a little bit of nasal spray, and now I'm on some antibiotics as my cold turned into bronchitis.

When it turned into bronchitis, it knocked me out hard for over a week and I am now just getting back to the routine. In our 11 years of marriage, Sandy can't remember a time I have been so sick for so long. Although this has not been a long term illness and not debilitating by any means, it has been quite a doozy for me. But through it, I've managed to benefit in a few ways:

1. I have a new appreciation for the difference between God and man. You always know it in your head, but I appreciated anew how fragile my human body really is. In contrast, God never gets sick. He never feels bad. He never is less than 100% perfect. He will never change and never physically decays like my outer man which seems to be decaying extra fast lately.

2. As I lay around helpless, Sandy took care of our kids and me. I tried to help, but physically couldn't. I contributed nothing to her. If anything, I was a drain as I created more work for her. She truly loved me unconditionally as I did nothing positive for her. I realized that my spiritual state before God was the same thing. I contribute nothing to God. I can do nothing honorable or worthy or acceptable to Him. The difference is that Sandy had hope that I would get better and start to get back to my old self. God knows that there is no hope for me to ever do anything good for Him. And yet He gave His only Son for me by His grace. I have been humbled physically and spiritually this past few weeks.

3. Most of the time, I was coughing. Lots and lots of coughing. It gave me a great ab workout. Hardly worth it, I know.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Simple times

Everyone tells us to enjoy these times and that the kids grow up too fast. This is one of those times...just hanging out in a box.I found them having a good time by themselves.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Give thanks to the Lord...

I told the kids to clean up, and they did. They just happened to start singing spontaneously which is not uncommon around here. Emery does it the most, and I hope she never stops. It's a bit tough to make out what they are saying so let me help you out - Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Do you ever feel like it's too quiet in the house? Usually, that means trouble and a big mess. So I went looking around the house ready for some big problem. But thankfully, the kids surprised me in a different way. This is what I found them doing...

As you can see, Andrew is starting to read and everyone is enjoying that!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our little diva

Emery has grown quickly into our family diva. Since we got used to a certain way of parenting with the first 2 boys, it always seems to take me, especially, by surprise when she acts like a little girl.Whether it's the clothes or the hair...
Or the accessories, she can be somewhat particular. But she always has the cutest way of doing things and expressions that just melt me. I guess this is normal dad stuff with their daughters, but it's new to me. For example, we were talking the other day about nicknames as I always call her "sweetie." So she says, "I'm your sweetie and you're my daddy!" Forever.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Harvest Party 2008

The boys and girl had a fabulous time at our church Harvest Party...1 mutant ninja turtle named Leonardo, 1 firefighter, and 1 cowgirl - we have an eclectic bunch, don't we?We also did some pumpkin carving. Drew really loved cleaning out the seeds!
And here's one more of the girl! Isn't she a cutie?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


80 more to go, Lakers' games that is. The season started off magnificently with 2 wins in the first 2 games of the season. But don't worry, God has shown me over the past 20 years of my life how big an idol sports can be. So I plan to keep my love for the Lakers waaaaay down on the list of eternal priorities. But what is a healthy balance of following sports as a hobby and loving the Lord your God with all your heart? I guess it's up to each individual. But one of the tangible ways I check myself is to make sure that it doesn't get in the way of my higher priorities of serving God and my family.

I also need to make sure that I don't pass on this idol to my children. While it's a ton of fun to watch basketball now with Andrew (for the first time), I definitely don't want him to be just like me in this respect.

And I guess another great question is - Can you give God glory by watching the Lakers? Obviously, all Celtics fans would say no, but I'll have to ponder this some more. If you have any ideas, please pass them on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008's fall

No, it's not winter. But man is it cold to me. The low last night was something like 26 degrees. The highs are sometimes in the 40's though they're also sometimes in the 70's to be fair. It's only Oct 28, but it's colder than it ever gets in CA. And yes, I know, I'm a SoCal softy. Hopefully, I'll get tough enough for Kansas soon. I just have to reach back to my Massachusetts days...this is warm compared to that!
But with fall, comes some beautiful foliage. This is my favorite tree. I drive by it every morning when I take Andrew to school. And so I don't give you the wrong impression, the majority of trees do not change to such a vibrant color here, and some don't change at all. It's not New England here, but it's still nice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Apple picking

This past weekend, we did a little apple picking. We just caught the end of the season so there weren't that many apples, and they weren't that big. But they were the perfect size and perfect height for the boys and girl to pick.
To eat or not to eat, that is the question.Even Emery got to pick some too!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We were supposed to go on a church camp out this past Friday night, but we got rained out. So we decided to go camping at home.No bugs, a nice bathroom, and plenty warm - this is how the Lee family camps!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Are you a good person?

What makes a person good? That's a tough question. Let's try something easier - What makes a person bad? A person who kills, steals, gets drunk, does drugs, the list could go on and on, right? But Jesus said something a little different in Mark 7:15 - "there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man."

Jesus taught something different from every religion - the exterior doesn't matter. The problem is not on the outside but on the inside of every person. It's not what you do, it's who you are. He goes on to say in Mark 7:20-22 - "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness."

We sin because we are sinners. We do bad things because we are bad. Even Christians sin, as the power of sin is broken through faith in Christ alone but the presence of sin continues on until Jesus returns. I too easily forget that I still live in this body of sin and that my wicked heart wages war against my regenerate soul.

But Paul Tripp gives some good advice for us believers. We need to remember that we can't do it alone. "...personal insight is the product of community. I need you in order to really see and know myself. Otherwise, I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions. My self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror."

So he outlines 2 ways to overcome our self-delusional tendencies and create that Christlike community: "First, we need the loving courage of honesty. We need to love others more than we love ourselves, and so, with humble, patient love, help them to see what they need to see. Second, we need the thankful humility of approachability. We need to forsake defensiveness, be thankful that God has surrounded us with help, and be ready to receive it - every day!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Costume party

The boys and girl like to wear costumes all year round. So though we don't celebrate Halloween, they don't mind dressing up for our church's Harvest Festival or any other event. This year, Andrew grew out of his fire fighter's costume and got to be Leonardo...not the painter but the turtle. So guess who's wearing his old costume? Yup, and Matt tried to pass on his cowboy costume to our newest cowgirl, but she wanted to be a fire girl instead.See how things are new every year?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bad hair day

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up and things just don't go right?Emery had one of those today. Poor Emery. Of course, that's what happens when you INSIST on doing your own hair when you're 2! It also doesn't help when you're getting up 2-3 times a night. Emery has been on sleep strike for the last 2 weeks. Please pray for us! (you should see my hair!)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An overnight getaway!

Sandy and I went on our first overnight getaway to the big city of Kansas City. We left the boys and girl in the very capable hands of a true servant to our family, one of the young ladies at our church. And off we went! We had a fabulous time together celebrating Sandy's birthday.
We hit the KC Farmer's Market which is the biggest in the midwest and boy was it impressive. Sandy could not say no to some serious bargains! Squash for a quarter?And we stopped by an art museum too. They had a wicked game of badminton going, but I forgot my racket at home.Our first trip ever to KC was a lot of fun, great for our marriage, and a bit refreshing for both of us. Praise God!