Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Have questions? Here are some answers.

To all the curious:

Yes, we're excited.
Yes, the boys are excited, too.
No, we're not really hoping for a girl.  Why set ourselves up for disappointment?:)  Besides, what would she play with?
No, this isn't why we bought the van.  But it'll sure come in handy.
Yes, in late June.
No, I'm not just gaining weight.
Yes, we know there's just one.
Yes, all plans are in His hands.  We choose to trust Him.
No, we don't know where he/she will sleep.  We do have a changing table that we're thinking of converting to bunk beds.
No, we're not finding out.
No, we're not sharing names either.  We've got to keep people's interest going somehow.
No, you're not the last to know.  We chose to be slow in announcing this time.

Phillips baby #6 due June 26.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In the beginning

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."  Genesis 3:15

A prophecy and curse given to Satan in the garden, overheard by Eve.

Eve's offspring.

Through Eve, the mother of all living, we inherit our sin nature.  Born into sin, death is our inheritance.

What grace God shows to Mary in allowing her to correct this fault.  Where Eve made the choice to disobey God's command, Mary makes the choice to be obedient to her Creator.

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."  Luke 1:38

Where Eve and all her offspring have carried death in the form of a sin nature, Mary is now granted the opportunity to carry Life.

"In Him was Life, and that Life was the light of men." John 1:4

Through Eve, all die.

Through Mary, only because of her humble obedience, all are given the opportunity for Life!

"Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God--"  John 1:12

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."  John 3:36

May we all be willing and obedient in carrying His love to others so that they may also have Life!

His plans are intricately woven, incomprehensible, and so full of RIGHTeousness and love.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Culture Shock


Lord, we thank you for all you've blessed us with...






but it's just not enough!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stellarrrrrrrrr


Furniture delivery?


Repairman?


Nope, that's just Stella!
Our new mode of transport.
Main difference #1: Our kids will all be able to have shoulder belts once the twins are out of a 5-point harness.
Main difference #2: Peace.  The boys are able to be separated strategically and the result is almost tranquil trips.
Main difference #3: I frequently have to exit out the passenger door when parked in our garage because it's too tight in back and too tight in front for me to squeeze past.
Main difference #4: We are now one of "those" families.  At least now it's all out in the open.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Encourage meant


I came downstairs to this a few mornings ago.
The boys had already made a little trip to the mailbox to send their "Cheer".

I reminded them that it's a good idea to ask me before going ahead with something like this - the trip to the mailbox alone is still unsettling for me.  Oh, and the scissors in that cardboard - I really don't care to picture that either.




This is all about blessing a military family.  I'm fine with that.  It's a good thing.  
The following morning, I sat reading the back of the box as I ate my breakfast, and I contemplated the second step in the light blue box.  Hmmm....write an encouraging message...I wonder how the boys did on that?  
"Hey boys, did you send your card with a message at all?"
"Yeah, Mom!"  Tone: What kind of a dummy do you think I am?
"Oh!  That's good.  What did you write?"

 "You make good cereal."

Hey, God can use anything, right?


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Is there a draft in here?



One of those days where I'm sitting on the living room floor at my wits end.  Our fireplace had been running in place of heat on a chilly November morning.  Our children had been running obnoxiously into this room, around that room, over the coffee table, off the side of the couch...
As they all dashed upstairs in their play, I noticed a big white spot on the front of the fireplace.  My hands remembered the time it had taken me to scrape off baked crayon just days after we'd had our brand new fireplace installed.  They didn't want to do that again.  They wanted to hold a cup of ice cream or pet a soft kitten,
On top of that, the boys had taken all the cushions off the couches and had been jumping around, and now Josiah was bringing me handfuls of cotton.  From somewhere which he knew not.  I pleaded with him to tell me `WHERE did you get that??' but he would just point at different spots on the living room floor.

Then the moment came.

Isaac came peacefully strolling into the living room, into my stressed out thoughts.

He stood in front of the fireplace, which was now OFF due to the fact that I didn't want the spot to burn any more than it had already.  Maybe he was cold.  As soon as we had turned on the fireplace, the boys had stripped down and the little ones were just in their diapers.

Like this.



You know those "Aha!" moments that come every once in awhile?

I had one.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hallowed be Your name!

I'm about to bare my soul.  It won't get racy, but you might get uncomfortable.  As my disclaimer right up front: No, I don't think I'm `better', I'm not thinking of anyone in particular, even you, I'm not looking down my nose at anyone, and as with everything I write on my blog, I really hope and pray that what I'm about to share with you is Truth prompted by the Holy Spirit.  Something else I want to stress: this is for those who profess to follow Jesus.

Now that you're prepped and have had plenty of time to click `next blog'...

In our country, we as believers have not been gathered together and forced to worship an idol or be thrown into a fiery furnace.  (Dan. 3:1-18)

In our country, we have not had to choose to swear allegiance to a king in place of God. (Dan. 6)

In our country, we are not encouraged to offer up our children to a mouth of burning metal. (1 Kings 11:33)

Satan has been subtle in his traps.  The subtle traps that we define as `culture' and `tradition' and `fond childhood memories' but in reality are just Satan's ploys to draw us away from the TRUTH!  Remember,

"Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matt. 7:13-14

When we are following the traditions of a culture, we should always! question it.  Almost 100% of the time, it is not glorifying to a holy God.

And I'm talking about Halloween.  "The Devil's Holiday" as at least one country calls it.  Why do we as Christians think it's okay to participate in this?  There is nothing glorifying to God or redeeming in it at all.    At all.  If you as a parent want to dress your child up to look cute and let him feast on candy, please do it on a different day!  It's not the child dressed as a lion or the candy in itself that is of Satan.  It is what the day stands for.

Death.

Death is a corruption of the Father's original plan.

Death is glorified in horrific images, dark decor, and other themes.  Evil should not be made light of.  It is very real and the only way we are able to laugh in it's face is in the name of Jesus.  Every single practice on Halloween has extremely evil roots and most of it doesn't need research to find out what they are - it's pretty obvious.

The fact that this day so much focuses on children makes it even more abhorrent to me.

"The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." Romans 13:12

To get a little edgy, let me just say that many, many Christian parents have never thought why or wherefore about Halloween because they grew up celebrating it.  However, some of these same Christian parents will question routine vaccinations given to their children unknowingly placing their child's physical well-being at higher rank of importance than their spiritual health.

What cultural practices have you shed because you are `children of light' who should have nothing to do with deeds of darkness?  And if there was ever a definition that fits Halloween to a T, it is `deeds of darkness'.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret."  Ephesians 5:8-12\

To address some comments before they are made (I may have done a few other posts on this subject before!), no, I don't think we are letting Satan win by "giving him the day".  Absolutely not!  He wins when he can blind the ones who claim to know the Truth into giving in.  We should have nothing to do with it!  Nothing.  Church `alternatives' are just soft-serve ways for parents to avoid putting their foot down about what's right and really actively teaching their children about the subtleties of Satan.

Yes, I know the Christmas tree is a pagan symbol.  The difference is that now it has no relation to the pagan symbol it once was and can be used in such a God-glorifying way.

Yes, I respect fellow believers who have convictions to open their doors to their neighbors and shine the light of Jesus on such a night.  In fact, we've tried to do this in the past.

I would plead with you to seriously think about what you choose to do on this night, what you choose to expose your children to, and who you choose to honor.  As believers, we need to be working to honor God in ALL we do.

"I am the Lord; that is my name!  I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols." Isaiah 42:8

Ways to communicate the true message of Halloween to your children:
* As you pass decorations (graves, ghosts, skeletons,), talk to your children about how those are symbols of death and use it as an opportunity to praise Jesus because He has conquered death and we as His followers have the hope of eternal life!
* Focus on something totally different but still pertinent to the day, such as the Reformation!
* Talk about how the world views death and why they like to make a joke of it.  Why would this be a victory for Satan?  (If Satan can convince you that death is to be taken so lightly, you will never feel the need for a Savior).
* Talk about how we are commanded in God's Word not to fear (Isaiah 41:10) and to fill our minds with what is true, right, pure, lovely, and admiral (Phil. 4:8).
* Discuss ways to shine the light of Jesus on such a night - will you answer the door to children and share God's love through a tract or a blessing?  Will you have a special family night?  Will you spend the evening in prayer?

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14


Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall on my knees


We did something this fall that we've wanted to do for several years.

We planted bulbs!



I love to plant bulbs in the fall.  With every little hole I dig, and with each carefully-placed bulb planted, it's just a tiny deposit toward beauty for the spring.

It's like planting hope.

Lamentations 3:25-26
"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

Because no matter how long Minnesota winters are, there is always the promise of springtime.  The promise that we start doubting sometime in March, the promise we feel betrayed by in April, the promise that usually reaches fulfillment sometime in May.

The older I get, the longer the winters, which is ironic, because the older I get the faster time seems to go as well.  I guess this is a good combination.

I need the hope of those bulbs.  Although I love fall, I am also reminded that it will be a lo-o-o-o-ng time before we frolic in the sprinkler again.

Down on my hands and knees, brushing away mulch to dig another hole, I'm reminded of the seasons of life - not just in regards to age, but in regards to stages - the stage of living with a lot, the stage of living with a little, the stage of being surrounded by little ones, the stage of seeing them leave.  The stage of dealing with this sin issue, the stage of dealing with that sin issue, the stage of dealing with this other sin issue, ....

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

I'm reminded of His Word - chock full of promises for us to claim in His name.  Like the bulbs, the promises are ours to hold onto, standing firm with faith that "spring" is coming.  And when spring does arrive, there are these beautiful markers of His faithfulness creeping up all over the place.

James 1:12
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Struggle for Simple - Part 4

We've thought a lot about our kids' involvement in sports and other activities.  Just this past summer, only our oldest was involved in baseball - simple, non-traveling 2nd grade baseball - and it was a BIG deal and took away two weekday evenings from home life.  In another 5 years or so, we could potentially have 5 children involved in one thing or another and never see each other.  Even if they each just chose one thing.  

Families are so busy nowadays.  I wonder what Jesus thinks of this.  A century ago, I would have been washing everyone's clothes by hand, cooking dinner over a woodburning stove, washing each dish by hand, and saddling up the horse whenever I needed to go somewhere.  Yet with all the time saved by all of our modern conveniences, we lead almost frantically busy lives.  

It's a ploy, you know.  A subtle, well-planned ploy from the enemy to distract us from what's important (the time is shorter each day) and to pull us away from family, a hugely attacked, God-ordained and designed function.

We've decided as a family that for the foreseeable future, our children will not be involved in any outside activities with the exception of the occasional church-related one (this year, it's Children's Choir) and swimming lessons.

Swimming lessons are my exception to our rule because it's a life skill, it's a passion for the boys, and the lessons are once a week in the morning so it doesn't take away from family time.  We all go to watch, except Daddy who's at work.  And come January, all five boys will be swimming at the exact same time.  A blessing in itself that helps the plan for family time work.  In fact, since we are a homeschooling family, we often get the privilege of private lessons because we're the only one who's signed up for that particular time slot.

So our boys will be in sports.  They will just take place in our own backyard with each other as teammates.  Eventually I'm sure one or more will be interested in learning another instrument besides piano, but we'll deal with that when it comes.  For the most part, we're trying to hold our weekday evenings sacred as family together time that happens regularly enough not to be awkward and to be able to hold to somewhat of a routine, like singing time or prayer time or Bible time.  It provides us with the time to get to know each other and how we function as a group.  Yes, I get stir-crazy sometimes.  But I've found that the more I'm away - and away includes drive time for the boys - the more I want to be away - because away is easy.  Away gives you the sense that you're doing more for your kids as a parent than you actually are.  It's easy to feel like you're sacrificing for them when you're spending your days running them here and there, making sure they have this gear and that, anxiously filling their schedules so they don't miss out on something important.

There will always be things that seem so important, so critical to your child's development and future career path.  

The one thing necessary is the family.

It's so hard.  I mean, really really hard.  But in saying no to temptation and yes to what the Lord wants for our family, I have faith that He will bless it.  In spite of us.

So now, I'd like to present our 2-year-old gymnastics class.  

    
video

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do I have to wait till heaven?

Have you ever noticed that the typical American Church is more affluent than influential?

It seems more concerned with a seat full than a heart full.

It has the means to pay many working within the building, but the workers in the field are in want.

It puts something called worship on display, where a passion for culturally relevant overrides passion for the Creator.

It uses prayer as an opener and a closer articulated by those designated for the privilege.

It dictates to the Holy Spirit rather than listens.

It looks to fresh and often witty quotes to drive the truth home rather than the Word of Truth.

It seeks to provide the emotional equivalent of a recliner for its attenders/spectators.

It seeks to soften the offensiveness of the gospel for sensitive listeners/hearers.

As we follow and act on the leading of the Holy Spirit, as we speak His Truth boldly, as we love each other irrationally and radically, as we heap out grace, yet discern with wisdom, as we joyfully proclaim the love of Jesus within and without the church, we function as the body of Christ.  The church becomes the Church.

And the church shares everything they have.  Within the body and without.

And each seat is full and it doesn't make sense because there haven't even been any special programs!  

And everyone gives what God has put into their heart to give because lives are being changed with each dollar.

And corporate worship has never felt more holy and intimate and family-like.

And prayer flows freely from each mouth with faith that the Father wants to give us our requests.

And the filling of the Spirit is evident in the joy that is radiating from each face.

And the thirsty are quenched with the Word of Truth which truly satisfies.

And it's both hard to come and hard to go, because the words are challenging and awakening to the soul.












Friday, September 16, 2011

Struggle for Simple - Part 3


We eat together as a family.  More often than not, it's like dining with a bunch of untrained monkeys.  Or at least a traveling circus.


This is what he calls his "farmer hat".  

Anyway, imagine trying to have a conversation with this bunch.  I actually tried to explain what it meant to have one and they tried to be obliging for one meal.  We talked about what kind of pet we'd like to have and what we'd name it.  Noah wants a frog.  Sam wants a dog.  Josiah wants a cow.  We talked about what we thought heaven would be like.  Noah told us that there would be just one tree in heaven - the tree of life.  I'm hoping that's a small sign of some spiritual awakening or at least of some paying attention from my four-year-old.


We want the boys to grow up recalling the joys of family meals.  I hope they remember more than just, "Would you please lean over??!", "You may be excused.  Right now!", or, "Please do not touch your brother with any part of your body!"  We're trying hard to make the time edifying, joyful, and enjoyable for all who take part in the meal.  Most of the time, the clown comes in telling jokes and making wild faces just as we're getting to something interesting (the clown sits two to the right of Mom at the table).  It's easy to see why this is so hard - at least, right now it is, as I'm thinking clearly and not fed up (what appropriate table-talk!)  For Satan surely wishes to thwart our efforts at family togetherness and sweet, joyful moments every chance he gets.  

Most of the time it feels like he's winning.

But then I look at that sweet face under the sombrero and I see the joy of the Lord in his eyes, I remember that salvation isn't contingent on how much food is dropped on the floor or how some people take delight in viewing the contents of another's well-chewed bite, and I'm ready to don my spiritual armour and try again.  

Only by the grace of God, He will claim the victory!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What we did last week


We visited Papa Louie and Grandma Kris and Uncle Daniel in Arizona for a week.  All five boys were occupied while we waited to board the plane.  The pilot of the plane even waved to them.


 I love Puddlejumpers!  We strapped this certified lifejacket on Isaac, and he happily floated and kicked around the pool totally independently.


Coloring requires a certain amount of concentration that involves tongue muscles.


Sam rarely took his swim gear off, even for a tramp through the desert.  Isaac, watch out for prickers!!


Uncle Daniel and all his adorable nephews.  And Josiah with a big orange nose.


Perfectly sized lifeboat!


Oh to be that happy and innocent!


If you stare long enough at this picture, you should be able to see five boys.


This is my favorite grandson!


This is my favorite grandson!


This is my favorite grandson!


This is my favorite...wait, we've already done you!


This is my favorite grandson!


This is my favorite grandson!

All the boys make such huge strides in their swimming when they practically live in the pool for a week.  We were spending at least five hours a day out in the pool and even Josiah got to the point where he was swimming underwater and loving it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Obedience


Acts 2:38 - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's worth a shot!

When an 8-year-old has the camera, the attention is always on who's being the silliest.



Or who's holding a light saber...








Some people like to hog all the attention.