Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy Feet, Happy Hearts

  • We had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend -- had a family over for dinner and games, got my Valentine's Day massage (while a friend babysat), went to church, enjoyed company for a Memorial Day dinner, and mostly just spent lots of time together as a family. [We had superb weather and tried to utilize our fence as much as possible!] 
  • Oh yes, and we blew a lot of money... Micaiah threw a toy in the toilet, and Aolani flushed it. The toy was the exact size of the pipe. Toilet instantly stopped working. We called a plumber, and despite his best efforts, the toy would not budge. We were forced (being in a one-bathroom house) to buy a whole new toilet, in addition to paying for the plumber's services of course. 
  • I think we are now entering into that sibling rivalry territory somewhat. In the past couple weeks, there has been biting, hitting, pushing, screaming, grabbing, and (a lot of) yelling :( But just today, Aolani has gotten on this huge kick of sweetly kissing him :)
  • Last week Micaiah got his first busted lip. He is a huge climber, and we are having to confiscate all kinds of toys and chairs and other stuff he can use for leverage. [I even caught him crawling across the kitchen table -- eekkk!]
  • Several activities we have done recently are pictured below. We also threw glow sticks into the tub during bath time (Aolani liked it, but Micaiah was a little frightened from the whole dark, no lights thing).
Is this cute or what?!
 Teaching concept of "rows" (pictures are rotated; they really are rows, not columns!)

Micaiah's first sidewalk chalk experience
 Hand-eye coordination
Water beads + googly eyes (they feel great)

  • Verse to memorize this week: 2 Corinthians 9:8 ~ And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

You Can Relate

I have encountered (and experienced) a certain fearful attitude among many Christians that looks like this:

You encounter a drug-addict* and want to witness to them and tell them all about the freedom and hope found in Jesus... but, before you say anything, you hesitate. You wonder, "I've never been addicted to drugs. How can I relate to this person? S/he'll think that since I've never been in their shoes, what I'm saying doesn't really apply or help him/her."
*anyone with different struggles than your own, be it drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, gambling, sex, pride, eating disorders, greed, low self-esteem issues, pornography, anger, envy, doubt, anxiety, lying, deceiving, quarreling, prejudice, fears, gossip, stealing, merciless, manipulating, unforgiving, other addictions or selfish behavior...

I understand this, but I got to thinking about it... And, guess what? We can relate to anyone! Because at the root of every sinful struggle and problem is the same thing -- sin nature. The sinful flesh. Self. Self. Self. We are all consumed with ourselves. And, Christ offers freedom from being a slave to our nature. The ability to say no. The calling to take up our cross and die daily to self.

While it may appear that Sue does have anything in common with Joe, think again. They both know slavery and addiction and strong desires and feeling helpless. But Sue knows the Helper. He can help Joe just as He did Sue.

So, have no fear! You can relate to all!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Six and Rain

  • We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary over the weekend while Ricky's parents were here. We took his parents to Blowing Rock, but it was rainy and foggy the whole time. The little town looked completely different as a result. They took us to a restaurant that only serves local food from sustainable sources! Ricky and I went on a date that evening while the grandparents babysat (and I didn't leave any milk for their bed time; they did fine though). We had a nice dinner at a cafe in an old, elegant house followed by Iron Man 3 in the theater.
  • Ricky has been busy making several friends with guys close to his age. As a result, his physical activity is on the rise (Frisbee golf, tennis...), and he has started a group of guys that like to write (fashioned after The Inklings) to get together and share literature/projects.
  • Aolani's antics: always wants to get to pray out loud before dinner (and thank Jesus for her mommy, daddy, food, all her friends, the weather, grace, help... it's beautiful), picks her brother up off the ground when giving him a big bear hug, loves her tracing workbook, likes to play n' seek with poker chips, and enjoys Play-doh (we used cookie cutters today with it, and that was a hit)...
  • Micaiah's mishaps: is pronouncing more and more syllables (I think he might start talking before his sister did), discovered how to walk backwards, can climb on and off his riding toys, copies his sister when she runs across the house, has established his very own "man cave" in a little secluded corner (for reading, resting, personal space, and pooping), elicits his sister's help in building pillow forts under the kitchen table, has gotten tall enough to reach up onto the kitchen counters, climbs up the bookshelf poles to try to reach the light switch, loves to empty the bookshelves (still!), doesn't mind getting his hand slapped for shaking the floor lamp or pulling its cord, plops backwards into my lap to read books, and does this adorable shuffling thing I call "happy feet" when he is giddy ;)

When Aolani refused to take a nap one day, I made her sit on the couch and read quietly during afternoon rest time. Yeah, she lasted two minutes before I caught her snoozing away.
the new teeter-totter (Micaiah can even get on and off by himself)
  • Verse to memorize this week: 2 Corinthians 2:14 ~ But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Spirit-Filled Believer

"What does 'Spirit-filled' mean? Don't all Christians have the Holy Spirit in them?"

I'll answer the second question first: A resounding YES!

I like to use a wonderful picture analogy when I talk about being filled with the Spirit. Imagine that when a person receives salvation, a gift-wrapped box is deposited inside that person. Inside the box is the most wonderful present: the Holy Spirit. The more you unwrap this gift and take Him out of the box, the more free He is to move in and through you and the more "Spirit-filled" you seem (because His work in your heart and life is evident to others!). So, while all Christians have the Spirit in them, many keep Him wrapped and trapped.

How do I unwrap this gift? 3 things pop into my head:

  1. Desire - You really have to want to unwrap this gift in the first place. Or else, you just have a nicely-wrapped present sitting inside you.
  2. The Scriptures - Of course you knew that was coming! But, seriously, you must read it, memorize it, recite it, use it, ponder it, pray it, eat it, digest it, talk about it...
  3. Die to Self - I know; boy, do I know. This is the hardest thing for me to do; it's the hardest thing I have ever done. And yet, I "get" opportunities to do it However, every time you die to self (saying no to doing what you want or saying what you want), you are saying Yes to the Spirit, giving Him more room to work in you, and unwrapping that present!
*This is mostly based on my interpretations of the Scriptures combined with what I have experienced, learned, and believed.

Unwrapping and opening,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Want to Do a TV (Activity)

  • Last week my mom was here with us, which is always a treat. Ricky and I had two outings planned, so Grandma babysat for us :) We had dentist appointments one afternoon, and I shared my testimony with the youth one evening. This was only my second time being away from Micaiah during bed time since his birth. He did great (so did Aolani). I left them some milk (that was the last bottle), and they split it, drinking it from a cup with a straw. Anyway, my dad joined us Friday evening for dinner. On Saturday we went to the farmers' market, their hotel swimming pool, and out for Thai food. Mother's Day was celebrated simply but nicely at a farm-to-table restaurant after church. 
  • Oh, Aolani and I played a fun, new game (Spot It, Jr. - Animals) for ages four and up, but she caught on quick and even beat me a couple times!
  • Ezra and his family (our great friends) came over for our monthly get-together, and we loved every minute we shared. [We alternate cooking the meal each month.]
  • As I was researching the Amazon Prime program this week, I discovered that joining automatically gives me Amazon Mom status, which means 20% off of diapers and wipes. I was already ordering them from Amazon anyway. We didn't want to join if it meant spending  additional money, but once I added up numbers, I realized that by joining we actually save money! So now, we get all the Prime member benefits and save some cash -- yay!
  • I finally got around to finding a new feeds reader since Google Reader is pulling the plug in July, I read about several and ended up choosing Feedly. It synced with Google Reader and took me less than ten minutes to have it up and running. So far, so good.

Playing with their friends (L to R: Victor, Charlotte, Micaiah, Aolani, Miranda)
Play-doh time (we have used straws, dried pasta, and rubber stamps with it thus far)
Sticky table (tape down contact paper with sticky side up; we let her add paint chips, tissue paper, glitter, pom-poms, fake jewel bits, sequins, buttons, yarn pieces...)

  • Verse to memorize this week: Jeremiah 33:3 ~ "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Well, I do want to write, but... it is Mother's Day, and Ricky has offered to be my slave today. So, I am taking advantage ;)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Let the Games Begin

  • This week is busy enough; I'll write about it next week! Last week... we had two dear families over for dinner, went to the farmers' market, visited the public library for the first time (Aolani got her very first library card; however, she seemed more interested in the toys than the kids' books!), small group (with all nine kids present), and the kids went to the doctor just for well-child check ups (it's been two years since Aolani had a check up, and Micaiah saw the doctor after he was born). Oh, and they're perfect :)
  • Measurements: Aolani -- 33.5 lbs and 3'2"; Micaiah -- 21 lbs and 30.5"
  • A month ago, I had spent a few days researching preschool curriculum. I pick and chose different things to get (we will begin preschool, not too much structure, in the Fall). I already have plenty of games and arts/crafts supplies, so I mainly focused on books, a few workbooks, and one "game". And, I will admit, I had so much fun; I am excited! In the future, however, I am just going to get my curriculum for Pre-K and up through Sonlight. I did create a little list of things to do with Aolani during the week that is sort of like a precursor of what we will start in the Fall. I love this age because right now everything is fun to her -- games, activities, reading, songs, crafts...
  • My next goal is to tackle Scripture verse memorization and start chores (she is such a good helper already, though).
  • Micaiah's mishaps: sometimes falls asleep while eating lunch (he's still adjusting to one nap a day), is shocking us with his understanding (Ricky thinks he has a high IQ, of course), his job to help pick up toys is to put all the kid-shoes back in the shoe bin (and he claps for himself between each shoe he throws in the bin; sometimes, we reward him with a chocolate-covered raisin for a job well-done), his first-year molars finally popped through...

  • Verses to memorize this week: Psalm 37:5-6 ~ Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Who Wants? ME.

Thinking about desiring suffering, embracing suffering, and accepting all the suffering that will come my way in the future... it would appear that the logical question to arise would be:
Who is going to want to follow Christ if it means that persecution, suffering, hard things are going to come my way?
If I were to answer that from my flesh, my sin nature, with a limited and earthly perspective, then I would say without even pausing to take a breath or think -- NO ONE.

Alas, praise God for that He has put eternity into our hearts (Ecc. 3:11), and some of us cannot quench that deep hungering for spiritual truth. While everyone has that spiritual desire, they shut it up with earthly desires, stuff, riches, temporal cares and worries (Mk 4:19). Maybe mine is extra strong or loud because I cannot keep it quiet with the mores of this world. [This is why there is a so-called "prosperity gospel" that has no real understanding of The Gospel. It says, "You can follow Christ and have your best life now, with health and wealth!"]

Let me address all the benefits of accepting, trusting, loving, knowing, and following the one and only True God -- the only way to eternal life -- Jesus Christ: eternal security, the promise of Heaven, real peace, abiding hope, unshakable joy, intimate acceptance, understanding, courage, newness, discernment, direction, boldness, compassion, all of mercy, fearlessness, righteousness, having a purpose, eternal vision, light, limitless grace, clarity, comfort, heavenly wisdom, help, freedom from slavery (to self), community, encouragement, friendship, companionship, the other fruit of the Spirit, agape love... and more. [Let me just say that all these benefits are from and in Christ, and no true good thing can be found in me by myself.]

Now, there are the seeming disadvantages like persecution, suffering, and other hardships (that I think He chooses which things He will allow to afflict each individual); however, in each hard thing, He promises to not only be with you but to use each hard thing for your eternal good and bring about some benefit even now (like suffering producing character and Christlikeness)! And, on top of that, any disadvantage is momentary. short-lived, temporal, just for a set time not to exceed your short, little lifespan on this present earth!
Now if we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
So... Benefits are benefits. And disadvantages are delayed benefits. It's a win, win.

Who is going to want to follow Christ if it means that persecution, suffering, hard things are going to come my way?
If I were to answer from my spirit, by the Spirit, with an eternal perspective, with the written Word for guidance, then I would say without even pausing to take a breath or think -- EVERY ONE.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Rev. 22:17)