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.
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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...
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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!
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I know they don't sound like they mean it, but they do. It was just a lot to memorize...
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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...
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And her 2 older brothers, attempting to do the same...
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Somehow they always ends up yelling, running and falling to the ground. Go figure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brothers

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...
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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 DAY...no 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.
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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.
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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

Brrrr...it'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.
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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...

Christmas...at 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.
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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)
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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.