October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010!

All dressed up!

Trick or Treating with friends!

You have to work for the candy in this hilly neighborhood!

Enjoying a little something before bed!

Pumpkin Carving 2010!

Have fun tonight!

October 26, 2010

Let Us Not Become Weary!

7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:7-10

I'm meditating on these verses today. I have been tempted to give up, to give in to sin, to indulge myself instead of pressing on, to justify my nastiness rather than choose to do good.

And the Spirit brings these verses to mind.

How about you today?

May God strengthen us to persevere in doing good for His sake. May we remember Jesus who suffered unto death for our sakes. May the Spirit remind us of God's loving-kindness and His awesome holiness. And may we, in due time, see the harvest He promises as we persevere in faith.

October 21, 2010

Moved by a Children's Book

This morning I read Beethoven Lives Upstairs to Elizabeth. It's historical fiction about the time during which Beethoven wrote his 9th Symphony, told through letters between a young boy, named Christoph, and his uncle. Christoph's young widowed mother rents the second floor of their home to Beethoven himself.

Through his letters, the uncle encourages Christoph to be empathetic toward the very noisy and moody deaf man of a difficult history, who often wakes his family with his excessive pounding. The end is so touching I had to swallow back tears to not cry like a baby over the last two pages!

We listened to the finale (all I had available on cd) after finishing the story. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be in that hall in Vienna in 1824, to listen to such beautiful music, written by a man who did not even know that the audience was on their feet applauding his work, because he could not hear them.


And it sure choked me up today.

October 20, 2010

A Reflection of Myself

Remember that little boy in the previous post with Gramma's foundation all over his face, who's written in pen on my in-law's leather ottoman and on their wall with dry-erase marker in the last couple of weeks, and who will squirt out any tubes of toothpaste or lotion he can get his hands on from the bathroom?

Yep, that's the one. My son.

Well, this morning while Elizabeth was reading to me I sneezed several times.

From across the room comes, "Bess you, mommy." And that little man hurried into the kitchen, as fast as his squishy little toddler legs would take him, and got me tissues. Now, mind you, it was a wad of tissues he'd found earlier on an arm chair, blown his nose in, and already put in the trash. But I blew my nose with those tissues, got the tickle out of my nose, and pondered that precious moment in my heart.

Aren't we all capable of so much mischief (the Bible calls it sin) but then God gives us little glimpses of how He's teaching and maturing us?

As parents, aren't these moments with our children gifts from the same God, who reassures us that it's worth it to "keep on keepin' on" in the training and instruction?

My prayer is that I would be even a tiny fraction as compassionate and merciful with my children as my Heavenly Father has been with me. It's a learning curve, folks, and I'm still low on the slope; but I can press on with hope because God - Father, Son, and Spirit - is at work and finishes what He starts ... in my life and in those of my kids!

October 18, 2010


Did I mention that it's fall?!

Did I mention that this guy's been getting into trouble?

Did I mention we're glad to have this man in our lives?

Hope your day is bright, by God's grace! Here's a little poem we've been enjoying at our house, in case the weather is not so bright in your neck of the woods.

Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot.
We'll whether the weather,
whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

October 14, 2010

Hide and Seek

Can anyone find the beaver in this picture?

I can't see him either, but I know he was there when I took the photograph!

The Pittsburgh Zoo has this cute little beaver family that we saw first when they were itty-bitty babies. Now they're all as big as mama and papa. I told the kids this was probably the dad up on the stairs, trying to get some peace and quiet!

We stuck to the Kid's Kingdom on this visit. We pet some goats and enjoyed watching a very friendly sea lion.

My favorite part, though, was that big, fat beaver grooming himself (herself?) alone at the top of those stairs. Aren't we parents always trying to find a little corner in which to be alone? :)

October 12, 2010

This Guy ...

... has been giving me a run for my money these days.

Brian has been getting into things and into trouble!

My favorite story from the week: Yesterday he drew on a wall (a little) right after I'd told him not to uncap the marker and while I was standing right next to him. After a timeout I told him he had to help me clean up. I sprayed "disolv-it" on the lines and while I was wiping it up he, cheerfully and proudly, sprayed me in the face with the solution. He was so excited he knew how to make the bottle spray. Oh dear. (He was not disciplined for that, because there was no disobedience or malicious intent.)

He's a dear boy and I do love him so. Seriously, the overwhelming affection takes me by surprise sometimes. But there are also times I look forward to being able to leave him alone in a room for more than thirty seconds, and trust no disasters will have occurred! What age will that be, exactly?!

October 11, 2010

My Life is not a Television Drama

Life has been going really well lately, which should be a good thing. Right?

But, now and then, I find myself expecting some terrible thing to happen. Really terrible, such as one of the kids suddenly falling ill and being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Colin dying or losing someone else who is close to me.

It's weird.

I imagine, however, that some of you can relate.

Because like me, you've seen too many television dramas on stations like Lifetime. In the opening scenes life is beautiful: the people are beautiful; the dialog is beautiful; the music is beautiful; dang it, even the weather is beautiful!

Then it happens. An accident or a natural disaster. A disease or a death. The protagonists are thrown into the trials and it gets intense: the people are intense; the dialog is intense; the music is ... well, you get the picture.

Honestly, this is how I've been thinking about my life. In my mind it goes something like this: Things are just going too well. Really, life should be more difficult. Surely something awful will happen soon.

My husband is good to remind me, when I make some pessimistic comment, that God does give us blessings we can enjoy and He's not out to get us. He loves us; Jesus took on the punishment for all sin. I'm thankful for my husband's influence, because certainly, thinking like this reveals a flawed understanding of what it is to be God's child, His sheep, His beloved. For even when life is difficult, I can still trust him for my every breath and need.

In addition to unbelief, such thoughts also reveal how what you put in effects what comes out. My mom used to say (much to my annoyance, because I wanted to be free to enjoy the smut other kids were allowed to see and hear - now, I thank you mom!), Garbage in, garbage out. And Paul exhorts us to think about the good, pure, noble, excellent, praiseworthy things (Phil 4:8).

My life is not a television drama.

My life is under the precious care of God the Father, Son, and Spirit. Yes, surely a tragedy (or more) will come my way in this life - which until now, frankly, has been filled with ease - because we live in a fallen, death-filled world. But as King David said: All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be, Psalm 139:16. Neither the good times nor the bad times take God by surprise. He will see us through.

The main take-away point for me from all of this is to stay connected to God in prayer and through Scripture. If life isn't a television drama, or a tossing of the dice, then I need to get to the Truth to understand God and the world. Peter closes the final chapter of II Peter with these words:
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
May you stimulated to wholesome thinking in the coming days, friends!

Life is not a television drama. Praise! the!! Lord!!!

October 10, 2010

Apple Pie Anyone?

We went apple picking yesterday! Simmons Farm, in the south hills of Pittsburgh, has it all: apple & pumpkin picking, a store, a petting zoo, hay rides, etc. We got ourselves a couple pecks of apples, so each of the kids could have their own bag to carry. The varieties of choice: empire and jonagold. Both are crisp and delicious!

Later in the afternoon, Elizabeth and I prepared and baked our first pie together. (We've done pumpkin in the past, but I don't feel like it counts because I've always purchased the crust. This one was from scratch, start to finish!)

Some wonderful person has put together this site to walk you through making an apple pie. It's more elaborate than necessary for me, but the pictures and lists of necessary ingredients and tools are great for baking with a kid. We put a laptop on the table and went to work!

I'll say it again: Happy fall!

October 7, 2010

A Serious Trip to the Art Museum

We took our end-of-September field trip to the Carnegie Museum of Art. The day was wet and dreary, ideal for such a visit. We had a lovely time. Brian was exceptionally well behaved as we strolled through the galleries, taking in the variety of pieces on display.

We're so high culture, aren't we?

As proof, here's the final activity we enjoyed on our way to the parking garage:

High culture indeed!

October 6, 2010

Little Punkins Pickin' Pumpkins

It's fall!

I don't have a favorite season; I love the change that comes with each one. Here I write to you in a sweatshirt and jeans; this time last week I sweating in shorts and a t-shirt. It's rainy and grey outside and I can't really get enough of it. (I know, it's messed up - feel free to comment.)

We attempted to apple pick a couple of weekends ago, but I'd misunderstood the website. There were apples galore, but in large containers in a sweet, little farm store. I was disappointed. Fortunately the pumpkins were ripe for the pickin'!

Yes folks, what you see below is a painted television with a Steelers game "on." Pittsburgh, how I love thee! Red Sox fans, you ain't got nothin' on Steelers fans.

October 2, 2010

Appointments with God

My time with God is not just studying His word, it is every moment I am alive, opening the eyes of my heart, seeing Him, living in His grace, asking for His strength, resting in my limitations and His adequacy.

So whether tending to a sick child in the middle of the night with sleep deprivation, or nursing a sweet baby with a toddler pulling at your leg or praying and talking late into the night with a confused lonely teen, or just washing dishes and cooking one more time, it is an appointment with God, a time of worship, a place to celebrate His presence, because He is there, close to your heart and so longing for your companionship--you spending time with Him in the midst of it all!

-Sally Clarkson

You can read Sally's full post here.

I was so encouraged by this post this morning I wanted to pass along the final paragraphs. We do need to spend time with the Lord, getting to know Him through His word. But what a blessed reminder that He's also with us when we're not "doing quiet time."

He's present with us in our work and play, our waking and sleeping, our rising and sitting - Psalm 139. Praise God for His omnipresence!

Walk with Him today. In the words of Francis Shaeffer, He is the God who is there.

October 1, 2010

A Week "Away"

We spent last week house and dogsitting for my parents who enjoyed a trip to Brazil (so jealous!) Throughout the week, we passed the time doing school, hanging out with siblings' families, enjoying my parent's (enormous) yard, and visiting local attractions.

Meet Barney, Brian's best friend

Tree climbing!

Sliding with Aunt Michelle
(that's my elem school in the background)

playing with trucks, paper clips, & magnets
(Brian and cousin Isaac)

exploring the creek at Penn Hills Park

Oakmont Bakery and Riverview Park

minigolfing for my sister's birthday:
sister Michelle and bro-in-law, Adam, at the back

I had an extraordinarily good time being back where I grew up (now only 40 min away!) Mom said we can do it again for a few days at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to it!

Where would you hang out in your hometown if you had a week to "vacation" there?