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Friday, July 31, 2009

Mississippi Friends - Part Two

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth." Job 19:25

This week has been very interesting. On Sunday I sent my husband off to youth camp in North Carolina for a week and sent my best friend off in the other direction back to MS after a week spent with us here in Florida.

And then, adversity comes in a most hurtful kind of way. God has been teaching me great and wonderful things about His heart for me and His character. I'm learning to put into practice what I've been reading about in John Piper's "Desiring God".

As I began working on this post this morning and came across this picture...

I immediately thought of the phrase, My Redeemer lives. I mean is anything more beautiful than the sun setting over the water? My thoughts then turned to Job and what he experienced in his life and what he said in chapter 19 verse 25.

And then the words to Nicole C. Mullen's song "My Redeemer Lives" came flooding into my mind...

taught the sun where to stand in the morning? Who told the ocean you can only come this far? Who showed the moon where to hide 'til the evening? Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives. I know my Redeemer lives. All of creation testify, this life within me cries, I know my Redeemer lives."
(Nicole C. Mullens)

While Amy, Alyvia, and Adam were here, we went to the beach, of course. We were all pretty tired the morning we had planned to go, so we decided we would eat lunch and leave for the beach about 3 and enjoy the late evening there. Boy am I glad we did. The late evening is now officially my FAVORITE time to go, because you get to see the sunset on the beach.
Here are Alyvia and Cecily...
All our kiddos together..... the boys are less than enthusiastic about all the pictures!
Our family and my wild hair!
Our sweet friends....
Adam and Alyvia.... We couldn't keep Adam out of the water! He loved it!
My three treasures.....

I thought I would have ONE child that looked like me....
Our two boys, Adam and Bentley... again being forced to pose for pictures.
Sweet friends.....
Official beach bum... but he's a cute one don't ya think?
Alyvia and Cecily loved the water as well....
Of course baby girl had to get in on the action.....

The girls made brownies for us and the boys had to help.

My sweet husband was brave and kept ALL FIVE KIDS BY HIMSELF one night while Amy and I spent an evening out together. We went to Bella Luna's in Punta Gorda to eat.

We so enjoyed our week together. And yes we miss our friends already. That's the hard thing among many others about being a family in full-time ministry. You never know where the Lord my have you serve. It's hard to make such special friends and then move far away from them. But our God is so good to us. He has blessed us with a sweet church family that just loves on us and takes such good care of us! Some of them have been super special this week to me as Mike has been out of state with the youth at camp.

I have no doubt whatsoever that MY REDEEMER LIVES!!!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mississippi Friends - Part One

Last week we were honored to have the Tadpoles, oh excuse me the Tadlocks come visit us from Greenville, MS. Greenville is where Mike was serving as Associate Pastor before God moved us to Cape Coral two years ago.

Amy, mama tadpole, is a very special friend that I became very close to during our time in Greenville. Our girls, Cecily and Alyvia, are both 11 and our boys, Bentley and Adam are ages 3 and 4. Amy was Cecily's assistant teacher in Kindergarten at Stern Enhancement School in Greenville.

Amy is one of those friends that is a once in a lifetime kind of friend. You know the kind that would be angry with you if she found out you needed her at 3 a.m. and you didn't call her! Yep, that kind. The kind that drives over 1,000 miles with her two kids just to spend the week with you!

We had a really jam packed week with them that was so much fun. And since we both had over 200 pictures on our cameras, I am dividing the posts about our week into two parts. I know you are glad!

Since in Southwest Florida it is a thousand degrees HOT, there is nothing like.....

for two very energetic little boys who want to play, play play. I mean how much better does it get for a mama than an indoor, air-conditioned playplace!

As you can see, my little funky, chunky monkey, as we call her, enjoyed hanging out with the ginormous green monkey.
Big brother Bentley had to jump in a picture with her. He's hanging over me now at the computer saying, "Hey! It's me and baby tister. I love her pretty eyes!"
She liked sitting on top of the big blue hippo.
Two little boys dream...
a bounce house. Here is Optimus Prime escaping. He kept trying to avoid the camera, but he had two mamas pointing cameras at him. There was no escaping.
Bentley on the other hand is quite the poser for pictures!
It doesn't get much better than this...
The ball pit was the hit for Adam and Bentley. They would go do something else for like two seconds and then it was right back into the ball pit.

Yep, that would be Bentley's hands and legs!
Nothing but heads....
Optimus Prime and Superman....
Amy had to have a picture of the two of them in the "sand" box. Actually this box was filled with rice. Amy's husband, Joe, works for Uncle Ben's (Mars Foods) in Greenville.
Yes, we did get some pictures of the girls...
We took more of them at the beach, so come back tomorrow to see those.

We also visited the Shell Factory in Fort Myers while the tadpoles were here.
Here are Bentley and Adam atop the dinasour...
If the truth be told sometimes Amy and I feel like feeding this crew to the sharks...
Before someone wants to report me to DCF, I AM JUST KIDDING!!!T

Two friends who have missed each other very much....
Nothing like the support of a friend when you are on top of a camel....
The people that capture our hearts everyday......
Yea, they do love their sisters.....

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!.... A cord of three strands is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12b


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Desiring God Wednesday

Welcome to the first installment of "Desiring God Wednesday"!

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting each Wednesday about what I have read and pondered in John Piper's "Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist". I have made numerous attempts in the past to read this book and I am determined to complete the book this time around! Piper has a way of dishing up the meat of God's word and I am hungry for it!

I have only made it through the introduction and one appendix. Like I mentioned in the post yesterday, two little things called life and having three kids keep me from being able to read large chunks of anything at a time, especially anything written by John Piper.

The two main ideas behind this book are:

"God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him."
"The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him

Are you and am I satisfied in God ALONE? Plus NOTHING else?

Are you and am I enjoying God? Really enjoying Him? What does that even mean?

I would personally like to answer yes to both of those questions, but I'm not so sure I would always be honest in doing so. My desire is to be able to answer both with a resounding YES to the praise of God's glory!

Piper will spend the 300 plus remaining pages explaining what a life that enjoys God looks like.

Piper mentions in the preface to the book that he believes that Nehemiah 8:10 is crucial for living and dying well:
"The joy of the LORD is your strength."
He goes on to explain that the pursuit of joy in God does give us strength to endure, but it also is the "key to breaking the power of sin on our way to heaven." Piper gives us this quote from Matthew Henry that particularly spoke to me:
"The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual
enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those
pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks."
I want that! I want my mouth to be out of taste for anything that would dare take the place that God should have in my life! I am reminded of the passage in Psalm 34:8 and yes I must include verse 9:
"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Fear the LORD, you His saints,
for those who fear Him lack nothing."
The LORD is good when....
there isn't enough money to pay the bills,
that loved one gets sick,
that loved one dies,
your child is bullied at school,
friends just don't understand,
your husband doesn't understand,
no one understands!
You finish that sentence for yourself. The LORD is good when.....
Piper says, "I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God."
Superior satisfaction in God, yep, that's what I want!

My prayer for you and my prayer for myself is that of the Puritan Pastor, Richard Baxter:
"May the Living God, who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving
Him, and delighting in Him, may be the work of our lives."

God's richest blessings,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Desiring God and a Five Month Old

I love to read. Reading is one of my most favorite things to do. I could literally crawl onto my couch with a good book, usually something by a Christian author, and my Bible and stay there for the day. However, there are two little things called life and having three kids that makes that impossible. But I do love a good book.

I have recently began reading, for the umpteenth time, John Piper's "Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist". Now I have begun this book many times before and not gotten past the introduction. Piper has a way of forcing you to think deeply about the deep things of God. I am determined to finish this time, no matter how long it takes me!

What I want to do here on the blog, beginning tomorrow, is have a weekly post titled "Desiring God Wednesdays". I will be sharing what I've read and am pondering from the previous week's reading. I would love after you read on Wednesdays to leave me a comment about the thoughts I've shared from the book. It is always a great encouragement and help to learn from what God is impressing on other believer's hearts.

the five month old! JennaBeth turned 5 months old on July 23rd. I am a bit taken aback at how fast time is flying by! I can't believe she is already 5 months old.
What's going on with JennaBeth at Five Months:
  • I am guessing she weighs somewhere around 15 pounds
  • Wearing size 2 diapers
  • Has two bottom teeth
  • Has begun some solid foods... rice cereal and we have made our way through a week of applesauce and about to finish a week eating bananas. She loves, loves the bananas, which I guess is appropriate since we call her our "Funky, Chunky, Monkey".
  • She just smiles the biggest smile and chuckles at you first thing in the morning when anyone peeks over her crib to pick her up.
  • Thinks her brother Bentley is the grandest and funniest person there ever was (we all agree with her!). He says, "I love you JennaBeff. You my best friend in the tire whole world." (no I didn't make a typo, he says "tire" instead of entire!)
  • Sleeps for about 10-12 hours a night and takes two naps during the day, each about 2-3 hours long
  • Wearing size 6-9 month clothing
"I'm not quite sure about this new thing in my mouth."

"This is not very good."

"Aaaah, my bottle is back."

"I thought this was all over!"
As you can tell, the first try at rice cereal didn't go very well. However, it is amazing what a little applesauce and bananas will do to some rice cereal! She loves the fruit mixed in with the cereal.

Her sesame street bibs were made by a sweet lady in our church! Thank you Mrs. Connie Rogers!

Tomorrow will be the first installment in the "Desiring God Wednesdays" posts and then on Thursday and Friday I will be posting about our visit with some very special friends from MS who spent the past week with us. And yes, there will be lots of pictures!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Alligators, Oh My!

A very sweet lady in our church gave us the heads-up on a promotion a local radio station was having for entry into the Naples Zoo today. Mike was able to get coupons for our family to visit the zoo FREE! I like free in the present economy! In order to get free entry, you had to be at the zoo between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Well we got off later than we intended and had to stop for gas. By our clock in the car, we were parking at 10:03, so I just knew we had missed out on the free entry and would have to pay. We got everybody out of the car and headed toward the entrance and the radio guys out front waved us on in and said, "Yeah! You are our last family we are letting in free this morning!"

It was like a thousand degrees HOT! But we had a very good time. We got everybody in and lathered down with sunscreen and began our way through the zoo.

This was our first site....

the turtles. We didn't stay long here because it smelled soooo bad! It was the sulfur, I guess.

A little ways further, we stopped for this photo opportunity....
As you can tell, Bentley is already hot. We had already passed by a playground and he had his heart set on playing, but we convinced him to continue on and see the animals.

He was glad he did, because this...
was our next stop... the lions! It was like they were posing for the camera. And we got to hear a few roars.

Next stop was the monkeys.
If you look to the top left hand corner, you can see two black monkeys. They were fighting and trying to whack each other.

We saw Zebras next.
The sign said they were "fighting zebras". Never heard of such!

This is a "black panther", which we found out there is no such thing. This is actually a leopard with his "black coat". There actually is no black Florida panther.
This is a spotted leopard. They were in the same area together.

This was one of the many stops we had to make to sit down and rest a minute. Like I said, it was a thousand degrees! JennaBeth was soak and wet at this point with sweat from riding in her stroller.

The gazelles were fun to watch.

These were really pretty birds, McCaws I believe. I may not have the spelling right on that. We watched them have some lunch.

I missed this next part, because JennaBeth let us know she had had enough of the stroller and was hungry. So while I found a shelter to change and feed her, Mike, Cecily and Bentley got to see this....

alligator feeding time! Now, I absolutely would not want this guy's job.

Next to the shelter where I was feeding JennaBeth, there was a play area. Bentley was surely in his element there. Cecily was watching him and got some really good pictures of him playing.

Before we left we took a few pics with the "tiger".

We have been seeing Kentucky Fried Chicken's commercial for their grilled chicken and $5 fill-up boxes, so that was our last stop before leaving Naples.

Here is Bentley eating his chicken leg and corn on the cob.

After racing to get there on time, we enjoyed our day together and have spent the rest of the evening relaxing at home.

We are giving JennaBeth rice cereal for the first time tonight for supper, so we'll see how that goes. And yes, there will be pictures!

Good night and have a blessed day of worship tomorrow!