39 Things….

Today is my hubby’s birthday. He is 39 years old, so he’s entering the last year in his 30’s.

It’s been an inauspicious birthday week for him; our third child had surgery a few days ago, I am sick as a dog and so is he, and he’s been really slammed at work for a couple weeks now. There won’t be a ton of celebrating this weekend I’m afraid, but we are looking forward to some downtime and rest together as a family.

So, in addition to cooking him his favorite meal – lasagna – I am offering up the following list in honor of his special day. Here are, in no particular order, 39 things that I dearly love about my sweet, wonderful husband.

39 things I love about Jay…

1. that he’s mine

2. that he loves my cooking and tells me so, often, as well as anyone else who will listen!

3. his fierce love for each of our children

4. that I always feel safe and protected with him

5. the fact that he actually thinks I am more beautiful today than the day he married me

6. his amazing patience

7. his ability to just sit down and talk to most anyone, anywhere, anytime

8. that he likes to cook omelets in a plastic bag in a pot of boiling water

9. and somehow also finds time to make his own homemade yogurt for us

10. that he works hard for our family

11. that he loves to practice hospitality

12. the way he dances

13. his mind

14. that he can fix anything, and if he doesn’t know how, he will work on figuring it out till he can

15. his guitar playing

16. that he’s a gentleman: opens the doors, carries all the groceries, etc

17. that he loves to organize closets and cabinets

18. the way he lives out his faith every day in front of me and our children

19. that he buys me chocolates

20. that when I married him I got the best mother and father in law in the whole wide world

21. his amazing relationship with his parents

22. his humility

23. that he loves to fish

24. his innovativeness

25. that we share the same hopes and dreams

26. that he likes the beach as much as I do!

27. that he cuts his own hair

28. that he cuts all our boys’ hair

29. his love for family

30. his appreciation for so many different types of music

31. his attitude in the face of adversity

32. how much he loves to eat leftovers

33. that he regularly tries to send me out for some quiet and/or “girl” time

34. his wisdom and sensibility where finances are concerned

35. his affection for animals

36. his sense of humour

37. his generosity

38. that he loves God with all his heart soul mind and strength

39. that he doesn’t mind growing older…

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! So glad to be alongside you in this journey we call life!


A couple of posts back, I mentioned a resolution of sorts I am hoping to fulfill in 2010: Reading Through my 90 Day Bible…but not necessarily in 90 days!  As I expected, I am not tracking well with the “read 12 pages a day” plan so far, but I have been happy with my progress, and am steadily working my way through. I’ve enjoyed the large print a ton, and love the themes I see recurring. Taking up the 90 Day Bible has been enlightening in many ways; one thing I’ve learned for sure is that on most days, I truly do not have a full hour’s segment in my day to set aside for reading (meaning all reading outside of school work with the children).  Reading those 12 pages takes about an hour if I am truly paying attention and following what is going on.

Just to make the progress in my 90 Day Bible even easier, I have picked up an additional four, yes four books this month, all of which I am having trouble tearing myself away from. Here are my current reads, in no particular order, along with a brief plot summary/explanation – all of which I have stolen from reviewers who write more concisely, and, let’s face it, with much more skill than I!

The Woman In White:

is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859, serialized in 1859–1860, and first published in book form in 1860. It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of “sensation novels”. (Thank you, Wikipedia!). My mother and SIL read this selection for a book club, and highly recommended it to me. I am enjoying the story immensely, and let’s just say it is a bit more of a scintillating read than the much more vapid four book series of novels I recently finished. I think we all know which books I refer to.

Death By Suburb

is our church home group’s current book; we just began reading and discussing this together, and I am thrilled with it thus far. Here is what a review had to say:  Suburban life, if pursued unheedingly, “obscures the real Jesus,” writes Goetz in Death by Suburb. “Too much of the good life ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually.” But if obscured, Jesus is there somewhere, and Goetz’s book aims to help suburbanites find him in the ocean of lattÉs, in the aisles of Pottery Barn, and in the bleachers at the soccer field: “You don’t have to hole up in a monastery to experience the fullness of God. Your cul-de-sac and subdivision are as good a place as any.”

Goetz identifies eight “environmental toxins” that plague suburbia and offers a spiritual practice to purge each toxin from your system and help you realize that “even in suburbia all moments are infused with the Sacred.” By packaging his insights in this self-helpy formula—7 habits, 8 practices, 40 days to a more authentic Christian life—Goetz obviously opens himself up to criticism: this blueprint recapitulates some of the very problems of the suburban mindset that he is trying to offset. But I suspect he knew what he was doing, and chose the idiom to convey a subversive message to his target audience.

A Quest for More:

is the book we are working through on Wednesday nights at church. I believe the content here will dovetail nicely with the meat of Death By Suburb, the overall effect being one that assures me that I, on my own, putting forth my very best spiritual efforts are worth only so much scum — let’s just say that after a week reading both of them, I am fairly unimpressed with the shallow nature of my own little kingdom. Thankfully, Jesus uses the weak!

Here’s what a reviewer had to say about A Quest for More: Paul David Tripp expertly traverses the deepest recesses of the human heart and compassionately invites fellow Christian travelers to journey with him into God s bigger kingdom. The author promises readers that they will be encouraged, excited, and motivated by hope as they learn how to set aside their little kingdom attachments which can expertly masquerade within the church as Christian activism, legalism, emotionalism, formalism, creedalism, and externalism; in favor of God s expansive and soul-freeing eternal quest. Tripp demonstrates though sound biblical principles how humanity is made by God to transcend far beyond the mere physical realm and is likewise created to be glory junkies; those whose visionary lives are governed by God s grand purposes rather than existing only within their narrow self-interested confines. Writes the author, It is a fundamental denial of your humanity to narrow the size of your life to the size of your own existence, because you were created to be an above and more being. You were made to be transcendent. Tripp then shows Christians how to transcend through daily, moment-by-moment, practical methodology that transforms individuals into the image of Christ. It is within this purpose-driven framework, this Quest for More, that Paul Tripp compels believers to see beyond the worldly deception of personal achievement, success, materialism, in order to break free from this ungodly fulfillment that is too easily satisfied with a mediocre walk with Christ. Instead the author invites committed sojourners to a life characterized by an unyielding passion that pursues God simply for the pleasure of His glorious company and in the process, affect eternal change in a hurting, hopeless world.

Lastly, There Is No Me Without You.

I have seen this book recommended here, there, and everywhere.  All the heart-breaking news coming out of Haiti this week made me yearn to learn a bit more about some of the real suffering that goes on in our modern-day world. This book isn’t about something that happened in long-ago history; it chronicles the tragedy that so many people, and especially orphans, face each and every day in a far-away land called Africa.

The horrific numbers behind the AIDS pandemic in Africa, “the most terrible epidemic in human history,” have little resonance for most people in the West: “the ridiculous numbers wash over most of us.” But this searing account humanizes the statistics through heartbreaking, intimate stories of what it is like for young orphans left alone in Ethiopia. Greene’s story focuses on one rescuer, Haregewoin Teferra, who has opened her home and compound in a rickety hillside neighborhood of Addis Ababa and taken in hundreds of the untouchables thrown in the streets and left at her door. She cannot turn them away. Yes, the comparisons with Mother Teresa are there, but this is no hagiography; the middle-aged Teferra is “just an average person with a little more heart.” Greene tells the stories in unforgettable vignettes of loss, secrecy, panic, stigma, and, sometimes, hope, even as she documents the big picture of “the human landslide,” the history and science of epidemiology and transmission, and expresses her fury at the “crimes against humanity” of the multinational drug companies whose expensive patents have denied millions access to the life-saving medicines. Just as moving are the personal stories of international adoptions in the U. S., including two Ethiopian children taken into Greene’s own Atlanta family. The detail of one lost child at a time, who finds love, laughter, comfort, and connection, opens up the universal meaning of family.

In the past I had hopes of setting up a “Currently Reading” tab on the right side of our bloggy page. If I can twist the arm of my techie-guy, this might happen. But for now, if you’ll excuse me: I really have no business spending any more time blogging…my books are all a-calling!

The Week in Recap…

This past Monday morning marked our return to reality: Jay went back to work after a delightful week and half’s vacation, and the children I put away the wii, laser tag, and Christmas movies, taking out instead our books and school tasks.

It was a hard week.  No one (the Mommy included) was too thrilled about resuming school work.  There was weeping, there was whining, there was gnashing of teeth. Ok, maybe no real gnashing, but we got pretty close!

Despite all this, things were looking up somewhat by Friday, and overall, we ended up accomplishing more than I would have thought we could. And there was some brilliance in the midst of the hardship, for this week, I finally got smart, and put my $5 roll of Ikea paper to work for me!

Each day during schoolwork with the older children, I struggle with how to effectively spend time with Josiah and alternately, how to prevent him from bringing constant interruptions to the flow of learning that is going on. It is hard, and admittedly, it is my least favorite part of homeschooling. When I complain to Jay that I am missing out on serious quality time with my preschooler, he reminds me of mothers who work outside the home, and never see their preschoolers between the hours of 8 and 5. That usually puts a stop to my whining. Ahem.

Nevertheless…I have continued to look for creative ways to engage my four year old, and earlier this school year I brought home this beauty from Ikea to help….

At $14.99 this is worth every penny!! Josiah has used the chalkboard and whiteboard happily for several months.  But on Monday, I brought out the drawing paper roll…and the real fun began! He put on his “smock”, we chose paints and brushes, and used these awesome little paint containers that my wonderful MIL bequeathed to us. (Thank you, Grammy Ruth…these are sheer brilliance!)

See the holes in the top? Just perfect for your paintbrush. After some trial and error, I thinned out the tempura paints with some water, and they were perfect for creating fine art!

When Josiah was done painting each day, I covered every paint container with that sticky saran wrap and we were able to keep the same set of paints out all week for him to use. He had a blast, and was so proud to show off his paintings!

I really like his use of color and mood in this one. Very modern.

This is a more traditional rendering:

Oh he is so yummy…

Starting Off the New Year…

We are all familiar with making New Year’s resolutions. Like you, I am guilty of making – and subsequently breaking – a gajillion of these.

What I began today wasn’t a resolution per se…

I came across this on New Year’s Day. Hat tip to the ever-hilarious and very wonderful Missy.

The Bible in 90 Days is the very first thing I bought in 2010.

After looking it over, I decided it would be a helpful tool in accomplishing something I have always wanted to do: read the Bible through in it’s entirety, cover to cover. It seems almost shocking to me that I cannot at the ripe old age of 37 say I have ever done this. Oh sure, I have read my Bible. Portions of it so many hundreds of times I couldn’t begin to count. I have read whole chapters, whole huge segments of it in consecutive order, whole Testaments even at once, but have never quite accomplished what I think everyone has the privilege of doing: reading the entirety of Scripture as it was given by God to us. His whole book. Cover to cover. Genesis to Revelation. “In the beginning”…to…”The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen!”

We Christians today are so consumed with “Bible Study” – which is wonderful, I am not knocking it. But I do not feel that today’s church excels in a very basic aspect of the Christian walk: we do not, on the whole, train up our children, young people, or adults to actually pick up God’s word and just. read. it. I love what Charlotte Mason had to say on the subject of children and the Bible…

Let all the circumstances of the daily Bible reading–the consecutive reading, from the first chapter of Genesis onwards–be delightful to the child; let him be in his mother’s room, in his mother’s arms; let that quarter of an hour be one of sweet leisure and sober gladness, the child’s whole interest being allowed to go to the story without distracting moral considerations; and then, the less talk the better; the story will sink in, and bring its own teaching, a little now, and more every year as he is able to bear it.

Of course, we could all take the Bibles we already own, and segment the pages into 90 equally divided sections, but I was quite happy to spend my $14 on this nice, large-print edition!  I do not feel brave enough to even set a goal of doing this whole thing in 90 days…knowing me and my tendency toward initial exuberance and subsequent laziness, I would be ecstatic if I finished this in 6 months, let alone 90 days.

That said, I am going to do my ample best to complete my 12 pages a day in this before picking up other personal reading (children’s school reading excluded, of course!).  It is my hope that I will cherish the process, and that God will bless my feeble efforts to love and read His word more diligently.

I leave you with a simple yet profound thought from J.I. Packer:

God has spoken to man, and the Bible is His Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.”