Monday, December 31, 2012

If You Give Brandon a Garbage Disposal...

Replacing the garbage disposal is taking us on a lonnngg plumbing journey! Today begins day #3. Stay tuned for a more detailed post...gotta love plumbing the Two Layered House way!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Two Layered House - Month 1

Tomorrow will mark the one month date of owning our new home. What a month it has been! I've been wanting to update everyone on the house, but there just hasn't been the time, or the internet connection, or the computer out of the box, or the perfect pictures to go with... Anyway, I am forcing myself to sit down and update as best as I can. I think that blogging about the house will help me realize how much has been down already instead of focusing on everything that is still undone. Undone... That's a place we'll be awhile. ;-)

After signing the 100s of papers that made this sweet little place ours, we did want any new homeowner would do. We drove right over and ran excitedly through the house thinking of all the things to be done and dreaming of what would make it lovely in our eyes. We quickly got back to the reality of work, school, packing, moving, construction work...all with Christmas gaining closer and closer on our heels. Brandon was in charge of 3 performances of a major Christmas production at church, and the girls and I were right by his side as much as we could be. As if that wasn't enough, we were also helping the construction team (more in a minute) at the new house. Did I mention all the packing, cleaning, and moving going on somewhere in the midst? 

Christmas didn't slow down, and we did get moved in. Finally! :-) Everything went great at church, and somehow, we all survived this month. We have been over and abundantly blessed by the prayers, love, cards, Christmas gifts, meals, etc. that have come our way. We are also incredibly grateful to be part of a fellowship of believers who served our community during the Christmas season. Truly, it was an amazing month, and I consider it pretty near miraculous! :-) 

Now, what has been done this month to the house?
1. Two Chimneys and fireplaces gone! 
2. Foundation repair done! 
3. Some damaged plaster removed
4. Two toilets removed 
5. Two new toilets installed
6. Water softener now working 
7. Master bedroom walls and ceiling painted 

Main Chimney halfway down

Brandon hauling bricks

The girls standing by Chimney #2

Libby kneeling the hole Brandon and friends dug

Clara helping dig a hole
We hired a construction company to remove the chimneys and fireplaces which were in severe disrepair. They also did the foundation work. Brandon worked right alongside them hauling brick (which we saved in hopes of making a patio), digging additional holes, pouring cement, and refilling said holes. We praise God for the men who came alongside him to help with this project because it was hard work and we were racing the clock. Libby, Clara, and I all helped, too. I know this requires a bit of a nutshell, the construction company showed Brandon how to get some additional foundation support for very little out of pocket cost to us... This required the additional and immediate work on our part.

We are very excited about our Two Layered House! (By the way, that's what Clara named this house.) Please do forgive me for any randomness and errors in this post...I think Santa's sleigh ran me over. ;-)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 31

We had a great night doing Light up the Night tonight in our driveway. We handed out around 175 tracts, glow necklaces and bags of candy. We did a Buddy the Elf theme. Brandon brought a few props home from church, and everyone loved our get-up. I know these pics are somewhat out of order, but I am too tired to try to make it perfect. I also have to add that I love living in a neighborhood that is kind to trick or treating. It really is a lot of fun, and it can be a great way to meet your neighbors. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 30

We are excited to get to hang out with our community tomorrow night for Halloween. The girls and Brandon have been busy planning our theme for Light Up the Night, and it's going to be a lot of fun! The plan is to hang out in the driveway and give out good candy, glow necklaces and tracts to all of the people that come our way. We will also provide lots of smiles and encouragement and just try to show a glimpse of Jesus to everyone He brings to our humble abode.

It's awesome to think that 5,000 glow necklaces and tracts will be given out all over our city because of all the fellow church members who are participating. We think it totally rocks!! It's our hearts cry that God causes us to fall in love with this city...these people... all for Him. He loves them!

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 29

Tonight, I'd like to share one of my favorite blogs with you. Layla and Kevin Palmer live just outside of Montgomery, AL. They blog at and keep my head thinking about cottage-y things. It's a sweet spot on the www to go to for home design help and inspiration. 

The most recent post happens to be a touching story about what it means to love your neighbor. I hope you'll take a minute and click on over to

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 28

It's amazing that we've been able to post at least something everyday of this blog series so far. Phew! I keep thinking that I'm just not going to make it through to the end. Ha! That's saying something if you know how much of a talker that I am!! :-) It's sure been a pleasure to have you reading. October 31 will be my last certified daily post. If you'd like to keep up with our happenings, I encourage you to subscribe via email or your favorite feed reader if you haven't already.

Now, life... Today we had a wonderful time worshiping with our church family. We enjoyed a nice lunch and then hurried back to the church for Jingle Jam dance practice and a business meeting. Can I just tell you that leading children in a dance/praise rehearsal is a lot like aerobics?! It's going to be a fun season of getting to help lead this team, and maybe I'll even burn enough calories to justify all the Christmas eating! ;-) Seriously, it's going to be a fantastic time of year!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 27

Today our church held A Day at the Park.  It was a great day to show our community the love of Jesus.  The girls had a blast.

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 26

She is precious. She is beautiful. She is loving and kind. She has given up a little bit. She is one. While I shouldn't share her real name here, will you please pray for our new friend? We have the honor of helping her with homework each week at the Boys and Girls Club. It is overwhelming that she is in the 4th grade and is unable to read or do basic math. 

After we've both spent different afternoons helping her, Brandon thinks she has given up. Maybe she's embarrassed to stand up for herself and seek the help she needs at school. Maybe she doesn't have a mom who will fight for her in the education system if the school staff is unable to help. We really don't know. It would be much easier to find someone or something to blame for her situation. It doesn't seem fair, does it? 

I'm so thankful we know that reading and math are not the hope of the world but that Jesus is. Pray that she knows the Hope of the World and that understanding will come with her school work. We truly thank you for praying this way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 24

I can remember being 16 and wanting my own car sooooo badly! I looked at car ads anywhere I could find them. I practically new every make and model that was popular to our area. I begged my dad and mom to look at this one or that one. I was probably quite obnoxious about the whole thing, actually.

Then, my dad did something brilliant. He took me into a body shop and let me see first hand how cars that have been salvaged can be put back together to look like new. He had been explaining to me for weeks about the dangers of being lured by something that seemed like a good deal - a great deal! I just couldn't get it into my thick head. I determined that no one would be selling such a thing like my dad was concerned about. Now, in the middle of this salvage body shop, I began to understand. I could see for the first time why my dad didn't want me to settle for something that was less than ideal...something that could cause me great trouble in the future.

Well, here I am, several years later and just as bull-headed...maybe even more so. Today, while getting my hopes over something, God brought people into the situation that helped me see the reality of what was in front of me. It was like being in that body shop all over again. While there was some disappointment over not having things MY way, I am so thankful that God is protected me from myself. I am my own worst enemy.

Again, I'm so thankful that Jesus rescued me unto Himself and that he is there to keep rescuing me from myself. Oh, and by the way... I did end up getting a great (used) first car! It was something that came our way as we least expected it. I worked hard to pay off the easily affordable payments. Then, after the car had met my needs, I was able to gift it to someone I loved. Though that car is now in car heaven, it lived 15 years and served me and its next owner quite faithfully. :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 23

Kristen told me I had to write 5 things that you likely do not know about me.  Depending on when you knew me and how much attention you paid, you will already know some of these.  And, if you are in my family you should know this stuff already, in which case you are exempt from being surprised.

5 Things You didn't know about Brandon and probably never cared to know

1.  While in college and for my first year of Seminary, I worked in daycare.  I ran a room of 12 12-18 month olds by myself for several hours a day.  I look back on that time and think the director was crazy.  I wouldn't hire me to do that job again.  It was fun and though it is prideful, I don't mind saying I was good at it.

2.  I received a Varsity Letter in Tennis all fours years of High school and was ranked #1 in my school for 3 of those years.  This doesn't mean I was good at tennis, the rest of the school was that bad.

3.  I used to raise chickens as a hobby.  I had several different breeds in an enclosure my dad built.  My Mom called it the "Chicken Mansion."  I was into it a bit.  I read a book called "The Chicken Health Handbook" and had posters of different breeds of show chickens on my bedroom walls.  (that sounds creepy now that I say it).

4.  In college, I took one semester of piano and one of guitar.  I had read on Kristen's "list" that she wanted to marry someone who was musical.  I tried.

5.  I minored in Spanish in college.  I wrote a 5 page paper in Spanish about Don Quixote  which I had read.  In Spanish.  Now, I barely can order a Nachos bel Grande at Taco Bell.

Here are 5 more things that are more interesting, but you likely already knew, or will not be surprised to hear.

1.  If outside, my sneezes can be heard up to a mile away.  If inside, well let's just say it ain't pretty.

2.  At a Mexican restaurant in Atlanta, I ate their 17" burrito to earn a free t-shirt.  According to the server, it was the fastest time ever.  I then had my complimentary dessert and helped Kristen finish her meal.

3.  I like to cook.  Mostly it flows for a greater desire to eat.  I like eating, it's my favorite.

4.  I do not "act"  The few times in life I have been in productions, I have to play someone who is like me.  Otherwise it is terrible.  Which is also why I do not wear costumes or "dress-up" ever.  Call me a fun-sucker all you want, but I do not do it (except for Christmas this year)

Now for the more serious one to make all the girls say "awww" and think  I am a great husband (but that is not why I am writing this)

5.  I am absolutely in love with my wife.  Even when she is in a mood (which absolutely rarely happens) I sometimes just laugh and tell her I love how she gets upset.  I love how she is happy.  I love how she cares for others (since I really don't do that so well).  I love the mother she is to our girls.  I love that we are content to listen to each other breathe on the phone even after 11 years of marriage.

There you go.  Hope it wasn't awkward for you.

My professors always said I was too wordy when I wrote, I see what they meant, but I like talking about me.  Me is very interesting, don't you think?

 After all, you read this much.

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 22

I got this idea from a friend's blog. I hope that Brandon will do one, too. I'm sure his will be way better. :-)

5 things you might not know about me...

1. I won the smile contest for my elementary school when I was in the 3rd grade. I even got to compete in the city wide competition. I remember having to go from class to class, smiling for the other kids to judge and vote on the best smile. I'm pretty sure that my smile was corrupted sometime during the whole thing. I distinctly remember beginning to feel my teeth with my top lip. It was getting rolled under in a sort of way. Go ahead. Try that out in the mirror.

2. I love bologna and grape jelly sandwiches on white bread. Although I don't eat them much anymore, they were a childhood favorite! One of my best friend's mom invented them for me while playing at her house because I was such a picky eater. Seriously, such a wonderful creation. I would eat them now, but I'm not sure I would be socially accepted. I should punt socially accepted. ;-)

3. I have spent the night on a hiking trail in the Andes mountains of Merida, Venezuela. Our missions team was hiking what was supposed to be a 'three hour' hike. Due to being considerably out of shape for that task and the extreme altitude, a few of us lagged way behind. After nightfall, there was really nothing we could do but stop and sleep where we were. We had 2 sleeping bags for 4 people on a tiny path on the side of a mountain. Did I mention it was REALLY cold?!

4. I love old, rugged, out of shape, in need of repair, peely painted, dinged up wooden furniture, houses, barns, vintage junk, etc. I could and do waste serious amounts of time looking at and wondering about the history behind said items, how they could be fixed up and what I would do with them. I like to think about how this is like people and that God longs to do the same and rescue every person.

5. I became a Christian as a child during Vacation Bible School at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. It was the summer after 2nd grade. That church has long since relocated to a different campus, and I have long since moved down the road, too. I've lived in many different cities and my faith has been challenged in many ways over these years. But, I've never forgotten that sweet urgency that called me from those golden upholstered pews that summer. My Savior, my rescuer...forever.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 21

Today was Friend Day at church. Friend Day is a certain Sunday on which you are encouraged to bring a friend with you. (I always sort of want to laugh about a designated day to bring a friend to church. It seems silly since any day is a great day to bring a friend to church...unless the topic is tithing, right? ;-) Just kidding.) We enjoyed worshiping together and ate lunch at church afterward. While the adults chatted and visited, the children played on the jolly jump bouncy houses and ate several more cookies, I think. It was a really nice day to be together as a church - family & friends.

As I was busy talking and watching all the people, I realized how thankful I am to have a church family to call home. It means so much to me to be part of this body of people, and I am overwhelmed at God's goodness in calling us to serve alongside these precious ones. There is no church that is perfect, and ours is far from it. But, there is a genuineness of love for the Lord here. There is a sense of true caring. Most importantly, there is a body of people with a growing sense of what it means to take Jesus into the world. This I love. This I thank God for.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 20


Such fun at our local wildlife preserve! So blessed to have a good family day. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 19

I'd like to share an older blog post with you tonight. It's one of my favorites. It was written on May 24, 2010.

A few weeks ago, Clara and I had the chance to get away to the beach for an early morning walk. Libby and Brandon each woke up with a fever, and wanted to stay in their beds a bit longer. So, it was a rare and welcomed opportunity to get out of the house with just Clara.

As we walked along the water's edge, I asked Clara to help me look for shells. I wasn't really specific, and it became fun to watch a three year old examine the shells along the shore. She picked up several "diggers" which were still the shelled home to tiny creatures. I told her that they were still alive and that we should leave them right where they are. So, she pressed on.

There were hundreds of tiny shells that were leftover from high tide. They were arranged in a neat line all along the beach. Clara took time to examine many of them, and although there were plenty of whole shells, it seemed she was drawn to the broken ones. As she stooped down to pick up her new found treasure, she would hold it up proudly to me and ask, "Is it alive? Is it broken? Can I keep it?" This happened over and over, and she quickly learned to realize which were alive and which were not. However, she never wanted to put the broken ones back, and she never really even wanted to pick up the shells that were whole.

Our walk lasted about an hour, but the lesson Clara's shells taught me will stay with me awhile. You see, somewhere on our journey back towards our car, the Lord reminded me, in His gentle way, that we are like those broken shells. He came for the broken, not the whole. He longs to pick us up, to treasure us, to make us whole... because we are the broken ones.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 18

I love getting to stay home with my precious girls. I don't say that often enough. However, it is such a blessing, and it's something that shouldn't be taken for granted. I love getting to learn with them. I love getting to ride bikes alongside them in the gorgeous weather. I am thrilled to see their minds "get" the things we've been working on in school. I love to sing with them. I love to hear them pray. It makes me excited for them when I see them leading others in the ways of God. I love doing art with them. I love them.

God uses them as little reminders to me of how great His love is for me. Parents have the difficult task of raising children for His glory, and for years, I struggled with thinking this meant that I needed to teach them to behave in certain ways. Don't get me wrong...we do want our children to behave. However, in this past year, I've been learning more about my constant need for a Savior and how this affects everything in life, including my children. I'm so thankful for the friends and resources that God has put in my life to help me understand this better. In the midst of all of the fun I have with my children, there is this constant issue of sin going on. To realize that it is always there, that we always need Jesus, that we can't do this without Him...has been HUGE in how I discipline and love these girls. In the midst of correcting them, it is so humbling to be reminded that they are sinful, and so am I! It's so sweet to stop and together thank Jesus for what He has done for us in the work of the cross. Mostly, I know that there is nothing that could make me stop loving them. Nor, is there anything they could do to make me love them more. They are mine. They are His. We are His.

Thank you, God, for these sweet and precious gifts!

Now, if I could only re-read this every moment of the day when I feel like pulling my hair out!

(If you would like to check out some great gospel-centered parenting books, I encourage you to read anything written by Paul Tripp. I plan to start Instructing a Child's Heart very soon.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 days of life: Day 17

Its Brandon again, sorry to disappoint.

As a part of Classical Conversations this year, we are offering the Essentials program.  Basically it teaches our kids everything about grammar and writing that we never learned (or didn't pay attention to) so they can be smarter than us.  I hated English class.  I did better in Spanish.  You guessed it.  I am the tutor for Essentials.    Feel free to keep reading when you are done laughing.

Done yet?


OK, time to get a grip.

I have a class of four little girls that I am attempting to teach grammar and writing to. I have had to read books and watch videos to learn what to teach.  Did you know that there were only 112 ways to write a sentence?  There are endless possibilities for what they can say, but only 112 ways to do it.

I have learned how to diagram sentence.   Stop laughing.
I know all 8 parts of speech.

Truth be told, I am having a blast teaching my class each week.  However, there are some down sides to tutoring essentials.

1. I see grammar in everything I read.  I find myself saying, "Wow, that was a compound-complex sentence with Verb-transitive Direct Object Pattern"  The worst part is I know what that means.

2. You will all reread this to find all my mistakes.  Just because I teach grammar does not mean that I know how to use it.  Like most good teachers, I use the "Do as I say, not as I do" rule of thumb.

3. I found out this week that to complete my certification, I have to complete three writing assignments.  All of them about elephants.  I have til the end of the month.  I have lots of free time right now because our church has only planned 83 special events in the month of October.

4. I find myself frustrated that I don't already know this stuff.  Then I am horrified that I even care about this stuff.  ( I woke up the other morning wondering how to diagram an appositive.  a month ago I didn't even know what an appositive was.)

Thanks for letting me vent.  I feel better.  (that was a very short sentence, its a stylistic technique to make writing more interesting...did it work?)

I love Essentials and love what I am learning through teaching these girls.  Ultimately, I remind them each week that we are learning to communicate effectively, so that we can communicate the Gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world.  God gave us language and we can learn to use it for His glory.

Wow, I got kind of serious there for a minute.  That was awkwardly out of character.  Oh well, at least Libby can use this for her editing exercise tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 16

Several posts ago, I mentioned that we began doing a catechism as a family this year. It has been something that we've used to guide our family worship times around. We may have been a bit ahead of ourselves by trying to memorize all of the scripture references that correspond with each question. So, we have since decided to just memorize the questions and answers while simply reading the scriptures that go with each.

While the catechism that we have been working on is thorough and spans the test of time, we have been concerned at how long memorizing all 117 questions is going to take us. Initially, we thought to get through one question per week while taking some weeks to use as review weeks. However, at that rate, it will take around three years to go through the entire thing once!

So, we were excited to see the New City Catechism that was released last week. It only has 52 questions! Yay! The huge bonus is that it is an iPad app that's got huge perks. The app is free, and we started using it this week. I encourage you to check it out and play around with all of its features. (Click HERE to see it for yourself.) While I'm not sure if this is the exact catechism we'll do forever, we've been very pleased with it so far.

Whatever the catechism, we are so glad to be doing this with our girls. (I promise to get a video of them reciting some of the questions/answers sometime soon.) It is so good to get to know why we believe what we believe.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 15

Living in Roswell has had it's perks this weekend. Many of you know that Felix Baumgartner made his skydive from the edge of space yesterday, and he did it after launching the mission from our small town. While he was ascending to 120,000 ft, we were able to watch the 'weather' balloon lift higher and higher throughout the morning. Even though he was too small to see when he fell back to earth, I was looking at the balloon at the exact moment he jumped! He parachuted safely down, and there was such a relief from everyone who was watching the live video feed.

Here you see the weather balloon as a tiny speck. This was the view just outside the church around 9:30am MT.

While I wasn't able to take any more pictures due to the glare of the sun and only having an old iPhone for a camera, it was truly neat to be able to see it for the duration of the mission. I found a video that captures it really well. Click here to see it!

Better yet, as Mark Driscoll says:

Jesus Beats Skydiving

Roughly 2,000 years ago, there was an even more amazing history-changing, reality-altering visit to our planet from the heavens. And, he is coming again! In fact, the closing lines of the Bible in Revelation say this, “‘Surely I [Jesus] am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 14

We have been so amazingly blessed by our church family today!! The outpouring of love through cards, written notes, baked goods, gift-baskets,  gift-cards, cute decorations,  hugs, and kind words was overwhelming! We thank God for showing his kindnesses through you FBC Roswell!! Thank you, thank you!

God is so good in keeping us drawn to serving Him through church-ministry. Serving at our third church is incredible! I can't say it any other way except that we sense that God has formed us and prepared us for the calling He has on us here. It feels so right. We are a work in progress, and I'm so glad that this Body embraces us, supports us, and gets on the front-line with us. Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 13

It has been a great day! We enjoyed Clara's birthday bike ride, and the weather was perfect! There is something incredible about the cool fall mornings. We are so thankful for God's blessings on our day. Clara is thrilled with all of her birthday gifts, and it is quite fun to see your child delight in the simple things of childhood. She helped me write thank-you notes tonight, and she begged to keep writing even after I said we had done enough for today. So sweet! 

Tomorrow is Sunday, and we are excited about this "God's" day! It's staff appreciation day, and I'm already overwhelmed by the thought of it. :-) We consider ourselves so blessed to be part of our wonderful church family, and they continually show us love and support. It's awesome to be doing God's work with this body of believers! It's humbling that they are choosing to say "Thank You" to the staff tomorrow. 

We will also be having auditions for this year's Christmas production. Brandon is putting it all together, and Libby is seeking to be part of the dance praise team (aka: rhythmic movement team). Clara and I will be helping in various capacities, and I'm sure we can't fully know all the unknowns (ha!) we'll need to help take care of.  Please be in prayer for this endeavor. It will be an incredible opportunity to introduce people to the gift of Jesus! I'll keep you posted...

Friday, October 12, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 12

It's been such a sweet day of celebration with Clara! We had fun and worked hard for most of the day as we participated in our Classical Conversations community day. Then, we came home to an evening of take-out and stay in. :-) (Clara loves our family times of movies and dinner.) Tomorrow, we will put the finishing touches on the cupcakes and head down to the bike trail for a birthday adventure with more of our friends. Clara loves riding bikes and begs to do so nearly everyday.

After a terribly loud, but wonderful, thunderstorm last night, I so tired! I am looking forward to a great night's rest...hopefully, without a barking, scared-to-death, little black wiener dog!! ;-)

Before signing off, I'd like to share with you a preview one gift that Clara got. As you may know, we LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones, and now, we are excited to have her newest book in our collection. Enjoy the peek...we'll let you know how it is after we dive in...

Thank you for keeping up with our posts and for your kind words. Goodnight.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 11

Saying goodnight to our 5 year old...

Dear Clara,

Tomorrow you will be 6! We are so excited that we will get to celebrate this special day with you! I can see that are thrilled beyond measure to be crossing this milestone! Even as I type this, I wonder if you're asleep by now. I suspect that you are still grinning and giggling as you think about the cupcakes, ice-cream and presents that will soon be yours. 

When you wake up, you will seem much more grown to me. Being 6 seems so much different than 5, and since you're so tall already, you'll now have an age to match your height. You've lost two teeth recently; there replacements are coming in quickly. Your clothes seem to be shrinking faster these days. The alphabet is now alive to you, and numbers mean so much. How precious you are counting on your fingers all the time! Your eyes shine when you're thinking, and we can tell that you are pondering much in that sweet head of yours. Yes, there are many ways I can see that you're ready for "6".

Although you're ready, I have to wonder if I am ready for the morning light to come. I think about the days and years gone by, and I am somewhat sad to say goodnight to you, my 5 year old. But as I think about the days and years to hopefully come, I am held peacefully captive in knowing that God has created you to grow in Him, to know Him, and to show Him to this wonderful world! 

We pray that you will know the Great Love  - that He died for you, and that you will live in this beautiful freedom for all the days to come. For this is the only way to actually live! So, live sweet one, and we will rejoice in "6" and only look back on "5" with the best of memories. We love you, Clara!

With hugs and kisses... goodnight my sweet girl,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 10

There are some moments when I am so thankful for Facebook. Last night, I happened to look through a few pics that a friend had posted from their school album. There was the cutest picture of her little one playing with what she called Cuisenaire Rods. I had never heard of them, but I instantly knew we had the same set of colored sticks buried in the abyss of the home-school closet. :-) (These happen to be math tools that I knew nothing about.)

In the description of the picture, she explained what her child was doing with them, and it looked like something that might be helpful to try with my girls. So, like any sleepy mommy would do, I filed these thoughts somewhere in my brain and went to bed. Then, during breakfast the next morning, I remembered about them and went to the closet to fish them out. Even though it was time to have our family devotion, I excitedly brought them to the table and emptied the bag for everyone to see. I may have been a bit too enthusiastic, but the girls took to them right away. Even though our devotion time was delayed for awhile, it was fun to feel excited about math!

Our school day eventually got off to it's normal start after Brandon left for work. We got the C-Rods back out and went to town. We sorted them, counted them, graphed them, and did math equations with them. Then, just as our brains were getting a bit full of math, the girls decided to make castles out of them. What fun! These are the moments that remind me of how much I love getting to learn with them!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 9 (by Brandon)

I know you would much rather be reading Kristen's thoughts on anything than whatever thing I might say, but today it is my turn.  This probably won't be interesting or grammatically correct, but here goes.

Today was Christmas. Also known as the day the UPS man silently glares "I hate you" as he drops off 20+ boxes at church.  I heard the truck pull up and started to rush outside to greet the driver, but refrained so as to not look completely ridiculous.  (I had already tracked all the package and knew what was coming.)  

As soon as I had "signed" the slip I began ripping into boxes.  Unlike Christmas Day, I did not have to take turns with children wanting their own presents...these were all for me.  

First off, 3200 glow necklaces for Light up the Night (It's a Halloween thing where we tell people about Jesus, you should try it).  Can't really play with them, so I move on to the good stuff.

First a little back-story:  This year I am loosely in charge of our church's Christmas production.  Therefore I am forced to think about Christmas and listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving (which I am pretty sure is forbidden in the Old Testament somewhere).  I love Christmas, but don't like it overlapping the cooking Superbowl (especially the dressing, not stuffing; stuffing is evil).  Anyway, back to today.

I had before me 11 boxes filled with happiness also known as very large yard inflatables.  The first one was my 7 ft tall Christmas tree.  Does it look like the picture online?  Only one way to find out.  I plugged it in right in my office.  Yep looks like the picture, but looks bigger in here.

Next, what is Christmas without Jesus, so I find the box labeled "nativity," plug it in and up springs a massive Nativity.  This is awesome.  Next I have a little snow family hanging out in my office.  

What's Next?  OOHH the 12 ft tall snowman.  When he is 3/4 full, I realize my ceiling is not 12 ft high.  Did you know that a half full 12 ft tall snowman is not exactly easy to drag through a church?  Get him on stage in the sanctuary and let him finish inflating.  Do you know how wobbly a 12 ft tall inflatable snowman is when fully inflated?  I do a short happy dance in my mind and think about dragging all 11 inflatables in here to blow them all up.

Remember I have enchiladas for lunch (inflatables can wait).  Realize I am eating lunch at 1:30.

A few thoughts:  How many inflatables are too many on stage?  How many snow machines do we need?  Can I wear yellow tights in front of hundreds of people?  Do they make inflatable snowmen larger than 12 ft tall?  Will anyone notice that there are no wisemen at this year's production?  Why does everyone include wisemen in their nativity sets? I hope someone brings me tamales at Christmas. How did I live the past 30+ years without tamales at Christmas? And Green Chile Cheeseburgers?  I have been so deprived.  Where am I gonna put all this stuff for the next 2 months? 

I have all the fun.

The End ( can't have back the last 2 minutes of your life)

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 8

We said "See you soon" to a precious brother in Christ today. This precious man of God had lived a long and blessed life, and it was a sweet sadness as several gathered to celebrate a life well lived. The music, testimonies, and preaching were each wonderful in a very touching way. The legacy he leaves behind will continue to resonate for God's glory for many, many years to come.

As we stood at the graveside and participated in the 'Celebration of Life', Brandon and I both noticed one person in particular. She stood quietly tucked behind several family and friends at the graveside service, and there were no special public mentions of her throughout the day. She didn't give a speech on stage or draw attention to herself in any way. But, we were watching, and she spoke volumes to us.

This dear friend we quietly observed called this precious man, who is now with Jesus, Grandad. We know she has cared for him in countless ways during the last several years of his life, and she has been on the front-line in numerous aspects as Grandad's health has waned in recent years. We've seen the gentle sadness she's carried while knowing the end was near. While she's never been one to want or seek attention, she sure had ours today. To be able to love and serve the way she has while never wanting glory for herself is a true inspiration to us. Dear friend of ours, we thank you for your loving, selfless example. May God be glorified through the way you shine for Him.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 7

Tonight I leave you with a song that's been singing in my heart today. Our church choir sang it this morning, and I was reminded of how much I love it. I need to hear be reminded that no matter how good or how bad our days go, we are still creatures made beautiful only by the grace of a brutal work done on our behalf.

I hope that you'll enjoy this version of Gungor's "Beautiful Things."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 6

We are so blessed on this day to welcome our new friends and co-laborers in the Gospel to Roswell! On the wings of 2 U-haul trucks and many prayers, the new worship pastor and his family landed this afternoon. It was a great evening as several people gathered to help unload boxes and furniture into their new place.

There is just something so rich about coming together to help one another in these times of need. At one point there were so many kiddos running around; I was certain they were multiplying  ;-) Turns out, several boys from a few houses down were so excited to have new neighbors that they were carrying boxes in from the truck, too! Wow! Talk about a great welcome to town! I loved it. Then, I saw one our great buddies mowing their lawn for them. It was such a blessing to see everyone serving each other out of kindness.

Surely, God created us for community: to love and serve others for His glory and not our own... never-mind the aching backs. Count it all joy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

31 Days: Day 5

It seems hard to believe that we are already 5 days into October! We lead such busy lives, and sometimes I wish it would slow down just a bit. I think the key to this is: learning to say no. Pastor Matt says that one of the biggest challenges to Christians these days is saying 'no' to good things. While I can't really think of any major things to say "no" to right now, I do want to start praying over the little things that eat away at our time and bring added busyness into our days. We've had a full day today, and we are all looking forward to Saturday! The weather is supposed to be unseasonably cool tomorrow. Yay! Fall!

Since I'm ready to bring this day to a close, I'll leave you with a sweet memory of something our precious girls did today. After having our trampoline out of commission for nearly 6 months, Brandon and the girls hung a replacement net on it yesterday. Since they fixed it at sunset, they weren't able to get much jumping done. So, first thing this morning after getting out of bed, they quickly dressed in jackets and "sock" gloves over their night gowns. Then, they came to Daddy asking if they could PLEASE go jump?! He proceeded to tell them, "We have a very busy day ahead of us and need to get ready asap!! So, no, you may not go jump. Sure!"

I wish we had a picture to share of it, but they were freezing and didn't stay out for long. Those 2 girls are the main reason I want to slow down - to make sure that we are saying "Sure!" to God things and not being weighted down by the busyness of 'good' things.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 4

Last fall, our family began leading a program in Roswell called Classical Conversations and made some great friends in the process. During our community days, each family takes a turn to share something about themselves: their names, their interests/hobbies, etc. Everyone enjoys this time of getting to know one another, and we always learn so much in the process! While this is only a small part of what we do on CC days, every family leaves a lasting impact in our lives. I can't help but feel a richness in this type of fellowship, and I often think about how God uses families in a special way to impact others for His glory.

One day in particular last fall, a family shared about how they loved to work in their garden together and that God had created Adam and Eve to work even before the Fall of man. While that had never donned on me, I began to think about work in a different way. They went on to tell about the different fruits and vegetables that they were growing, and as they talked, they showed us a beautiful basket overflowing with the bounty of their labor. After they were finished, they offered all of what they had brought to share with each of us. The mom had even made homemade pickles for each family to have, and they were delicious! Within the next few weeks, they invited our small CC group to their home for lunch and a garden "field trip." Woohoo! It was such a sweet thing for them to do, and of course, we all left that day with even more of their wonderful fruits and veggies.

Well, Brandon already enjoyed gardening and wanted to learn to plant things here in this different earth we now love as home. Their presentation nudged us to want to do something similar. So, after doing some research: talking with other gardeners, visiting the seed store, and reading things online... Brandon and the girls got busy this past spring and planted a garden in our backyard! It was hard work getting the garden ready to be planted, but it has been so rewarding to watch it grow and GROW! Throughout the summer, we've been blessed with yellow squash, okra, eggplant, cantaloupe, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, onion, and LOTS of zucchini! Some things grew better than others, and it's been a chore to keep it watered in this "desert" country. However the hard work that Brandon and the girls put into it has been worth it, and it's been so much fun seeing the girls get excited about it time and time again.

That garden has been a good reminder to me of what that dear family told us last year: God did create us for work! There is much reward in a life labored for Him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 3

25 Things:

1. We didn't get to watch the presidential debate tonight.
2. The brakes had to get fixed on the car today.
3. The girls and I had to find a ride to church.
4. I forgot to go over one of the major segments of Libby's school work.
5. Brandon had a last minute meeting come up.
6. Wednesday church activities went on.
7. A precious brother in Christ went home to heaven tonight.
8. Our hearts hurt.
9. Our hearts rejoice.
10. I clipped nails...mine, Clara's, and the dog's.
11. I still need to clip Libby's.
12. The seat belt in the car needs to be replaced.
13. I'm reading "Excused Absence" by Doug Wilson.
14. Listening to Pastor Matt's sermon on podcast in 1.5x speed is so cool!
15. Brandon is super busy with lots of special events going on at church.
16. Please pray for him.
17. Our girls want to invite approximately 53.4 people to Friend Day at our church.
18. They want to be able to give them a ride to church, too. :-)
19. iOS6 has messed up our iPhones.
20. I'm so thankful for our iPad!
21. Our friends are going through a very difficult time right now.
22. We are thrilled for our new worship pastor and family coming to FBC Roswell!
23. Listening to Brandon tie his shoelaces at 5:30 am is probably the loudest a shoelace can be!
24. I'm humbled that God puts us in places of leadership.
25. I hope we all read our Bibles more.

Life happened today. I'm thankful for Jesus who holds all things together.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 2

Sometimes the more stressful mornings bring the most blessed evenings. Today was one of those days. A busy day for this procrastinator (me) tends to bring out the grump in me. I get so focused on all that needs to be done, which leads to plenty of guilt over not having done things sooner or in a more orderly way. So, I hurry my precious family along so we can check things off our list. These are good and right "things", but my flesh reacts hastily to each of the darlings that love me so much. We press on and get things done, and it is when I sit down to pray with a few dear friends a couple of hours later that I am reminded that this awkwardness I have felt (and dealt) all morning is because I haven't come to Him. The One who created order and is Peace softens my heart in an instant as I talk to Him. Thank you, Jesus.

In the midst of the piano lessons, the meetings, and all the things that made up this day, I want to tell you about a sweet thing that God has allowed us to be part of. Today and for the past 4 or so weeks, we have been going to the Boys and Girls club once a week after school to serve Him. We get to help prepare snack, help with homework, and be friends to about 50 children. Libby and Clara each get to help, too. It is a time that they have grown to look forward to, and both of them are eager to take candy and trinkets to their new friends each time we go. They both help make snacks and drinks, and Libby is able to help the Kindergarten students with their school work. Sometimes, she is able to help children her age with some of their homework, too. Libby is very concerned over the children that struggle with learning their letters and multiplication facts. She is ready to help them without even being asked! Clara begs to help however she can, and she was delighted to help fill drink cups today! We praise God for the sweet hearts He is growing in our girls, and we are amazed at how He is using these boys and girls to shape each of us.

Libby walks with a little girl during the children's free time, and Clara serves up some ice-cold lemonade.

It's been a full day. Full hearts. A blessed evening.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Life: Day 1

I'm excited to venture on a 31 day blogging journey with you! If you know me, you know that I couldn't possibly stick to just one topic for 31 days (or ever). So, I've decided to spend 31 days letting you in on our life. I know this might not be considered a glamorous topic, but many of our readers are family and close friends and just may care to know some of the ins and outs of our goings on. The next 31 days will be a complete hodge-podge of the things that are our life in some way or another. Hold on tight! We think it's a grand adventure God has us on!

Day 1

Today is Monday, and we are getting back to "real life" after having family in town for a visit last week. We had a great time and were sad to see them go. While they were here, we enjoyed driving over much of southeast New Mexico. The area that we live in is quite unique in its terrain. Within 70 miles of our town, you can ascend 5,000 feet and more in elevation and quickly leave behind this desert-like flat land. Taking short day trips are very rewarding as you behold incredible views of the land, and they are great reminders of the incredible Creator we have. When our family left, we made an unplanned trip to Albuquerque to spend the day at the zoo and grab some Chick-fil-A to eat. This helped cure the blues of saying "see ya soon" to those we love. (I'm here to tell you that watching 2 little girls, in their pjs, at 7:30am, wave bye to their grandparents, who live across the country, is a tough thing!)

So, here we are doing "normal" life again this week. How fitting that it is also the 1st day of a new month. I'm not sure where September even went! We've been moving along fast and furious with our school work, our Classical Conversations community, and the wonderful place we call church. I hope to spend some time talking about all of this more specifically as these 31 days roll on. Thanks for taking the time to read. :-)


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Memorizing on Mondays

Since yesterday was Labor Day, I never got around to writing an update about our memory work for this week. So, here goes...

We started yesterday with pancakes. It was nice to have an unplanned morning, and we were able to extend our family worship time because we didn't have as demanding of a schedule. It was fun finding some of our favorite praise songs on YouTube and singing along. Prayer requests seemed unending; it was nice to linger as a family around the table.

We introduced question #3 last Monday, and it took us all week to get it. Even though we can all say the question and answer, we are all still pretty confused with the references. So, we decided to make this week a review week in order to really hammer in the first three questions, answers and corresponding scriptures. 

In addition to memorizing the catechism, we are also learning the Apostles' Creed. This isn't something that any of us already knew, and it has been challenging to learn it along with the questions. We broke it down into sections and have almost finished the entire thing. (Woohoo!) It's caused great questions around the breakfast table, and we've talked about the differences in modern and older languages as well as some theological subjects that the creed brings to mind. It's been great discussion! Also, Libby has decided to recite it this Friday at Classical Conversations as her presentation. (Go, Libby!)

I would love to hear what your family uses for times of worship within your home.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Memorizing on Mondays

Since school began a few weeks ago, we have been diligent to have a morning routine most days in order to have family worship before Brandon goes to work. In an effort to help our children grow up knowing why they believe things regarding God, we've decided us use "A Baptist Catechism" as the core of our morning time together. (This is also GREAT for us adults who need to learn why we believe things about God...which is all of us.)

We divided the questions by 3 (as in 3 years) and have decided to work on about 40 questions per year. We'll use the remaining 12 weeks in each year to have built in review time when the questions/answers and scripture references are longer and need more than one week to get into our brains. Each Monday we introduce a new question and its answer. We slowly add on the scripture references throughout the week. We look up the references, read them and discuss them as necessary. Sometimes, we make up motions, songs or whatever is helpful to encourage these things to get in our heads.

There are other elements to our family worship time. We also read or watch stories from The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. (This is a treasured resource for any believer to have. We all love it!) We share prayer requests and praises and keep them simple by jotting them down in a spiral notebook. Then, we take turns praying for the things we've just mentioned. Sometimes, we will sing. This a great time for Libby to share a hymn she's been learning to play on the piano. Each day looks a little different. Praise God that He has put it into our hearts and schedules to be able to do this! :-)

So far, we're on question #3. Everyone is doing a great job memorizing! I hope to post videos of our catechism work soon. Here is the work that we have been doing (this is taken from The Baptist Catechism, adapted by John Piper):

Question 1: Who is the first and best of beings?

Answer: God is the first and best of beings.

Question 2: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Comment: "Glorify" does not mean make glorious. It means [to] reflect or display as glorious. Other words you could use for "end" are "goal" or "purpose".

Question 3: How do we know there is a God?

Answer: The light of nature in man, and the works of God, plainly declares that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only, do effectually reveal him unto us for our salvation.
Comment: The question distinguishes two kinds of knowledge: one is natural and comes from conscience ("the light of nature in man") and from the works of God in nature; the other is spiritual or saving, and comes from the recognition of the true value of God and the beauty of his character. Natural knowledge is possessed by all people and thus makes all people accountable to honor and thank God. Spiritual knowledge is possessed only by those whose natural blindness has been overcome by the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:14-16). Our children must come to see the difference between these lest they think they are saved by much natural knowledge about God—which the devils also have James 2:19).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thinking Thanks

I am such a complainer. There, I said it. Really, I am hearing my own thoughts more and more these past few days and realizing how often I speak thoughts that are drenched in overtones of complaints. You might label it as being negative, but at the root of negativism is complaining. I'm thankful that the Lord is piercing my heart, and I confess to Him my ungratefulness. I thank Him that He alone can change my ungrateful heart.

I want my thinking to be thanking! When I think about how high grocery prices are or how much more expensive it is to eat healthier, I want to be thankful that I have such good food to eat. When I complain about how messy the house is, I want to thank God for blessing me with a home and a family to be messy with. When I whine about not wanting to do a task, I want to show gratitude that I have been entrusted with business to do.

I am praying that God will change me. I am thankful for resources to help along the way.


The girls have been having a lot of fun swimming this summer! We are so blessed to have a small above ground pool in our yard. Plus, we have some super friends who let us hang at their pool, too! We all love the lazy days of summer!