Monday, July 28, 2008

And Even More Pictures

We spent 4 days at a cottage on a lake last week and enjoyed every moment! Elijah made some big strides in his bravery quotient, by choosing to tube behind the boat by himself and to swim in water over his head - with his life jacket on, of course!

Allison got a new life jacket, and chose a Barbie one. She's such a girl. She swam some, but thought the water was too cold to stay in very long.

I snapped a few pics of some really "unique" cottages on the lake. I want to play with the pics a little bit and then frame them for our cottage.
We came home and discovered ripe zucchini in our garden! This was a big moment for us, since this is our first try at gardening and we planted late because of the flooding. I've already picked enough to make 4 loaves of zucchini bread and given some away. Dan thought we should document this momentous achievement on film.

I'm too excited to wait for the bread.
Our August is REALLY busy, so posting may be sparse. In the meantime, enjoy the last few days of summer before the business of fall sets in!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Lesson in Brotherly Love . . . by Elijah

"Joseph's brothers were jealous of him. They threw him into a big, deep pit. I would never do that to Alli because I don't know where a big pit is."

More Pictures

Dan's brother Mike and his wife Jennifer and their two boys came to stay with us after Grandma's party and we all went to the zoo.

Alli decided that she would pull her cousin Josiah around in the wagon.Amazingly enough, we were so busy enjoying the beautiful weather while camping (as opposed to other years) that we didn't take many pictures. These were taken the evening that we all headed down to the beach for family pictures. Dan took these.

One more post of pictures and I'll quit boring you! We were able to spend this past 4 days at a cottage on a lake, so we enjoyed boating and swimming - more pics to come soon!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lots of Pictures

We've had a busy month, and we've taken a lot of pictures. I'll try to update the blog over the next few days with pictures from our hectic life. This is Alli's 2 year pic. A little less than traditional, but I couldn't resist that look and those eyes! We think you are beautiful, baby!

These next pics are from Great Grandma's 80th Birthday party, which we celebrated on the 4th of July.Elijah and Dan and his two brothers, Mike (on left) and Tim (right).
My wonderful Mother-in-Law, Barb, and 2 sister-in-laws, Noelle (center -Tim's wife) and Jennifer (far right - Mike's wife). This isn't the best picture, but we had something like 5 people trying to get a shot of us all at once.

Elijah looking cute.
With these next few pictures, Dan played with the color saturation and made them very vibrant. Between the two of us, we have a lot of fun with our new camera. I like to take photos of people and Dan prefers scenery, but he is much more skilled than I, and has the patience to really work on a photo to make it the best it can be. I just snap away and hope for a decent shot!
Alli is wearing her party dress, a present from her Grandma and Grandpa.

Elijah's feet -hey, they actually look clean here!

Elijah and Alli. Always cracking each other up.
Our week gets pretty busy tomorrow, but I'll try to get some more pics up by the weekend.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"It Smells Like Nothing"

A sad thing happened today. Elijah was trying to describe the scent of car wax to me and said, "It smells like nothing." Cute, to be sure, but sad because he has never, in his 4 1/2 years on earth, said the word "nothing." He has always said "anything." Like after I ask him what is wrong, he pouts and says, "Anything." And when I ask him who taught him something, his answer would be "anyone." I'm sad he figured out the correct grammar.

So, before he gives up all his cute words, I decided to post my favorite mis-pronunciations of my guy.

1. "Sank you" instead of "thank you"
2. "Lose" instead of "use"
3. "Wecause" instead of "because"

Unfortunately, that is all I can think of now, but as he learns to speak more clearly, I am sure I will think of more! And soon I'll be able to post about Alli's cute sayings!

Friday, July 18, 2008


We're back from a week of camping, tired and with more than 10 loads of laundry to do, but we had a relaxing time, nonetheless. I had plenty of "down" time to do some more reading, since I have taken a break because of my sewing. One of the books I read was Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. My sister-in-law recommended it to me and although it isn't the most eloquently book I've ever read, I found it a worthy read.

Ayaan was born in Somalia, but spent most of her childhood moving between Kenya, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and back to Somalia because of the constant political unrest in each country. She was born into a devout Muslim family and chronicles in detail the horrific practices she witnessed and experienced at the hands of those who claim to follow the "peaceful" religion of Islam. Most disturbing was their practice of female circumcision, although I found myself equally disgusted by the overall mistreatment of women in that culture.

Ayaan eventually escapes her destiny of arranged marriage by stealing away to Holland where she lives in a refugee camp and experiences for the first time in her life, civilized society. She chronicles her amazement that city busses arrive on time, to the exact minute, how the government officials actually help her out without bribes and how the police actually protect her, instead of harrassing her. It is amazing to see our every-day life through her eyes. It was shameful for me to think about how much I take these things for granted.

Many parts of the book struck me, but I will dwell on just two. First of all, I was appalled at hearing the logic of blaming a woman for being raped, but Ayaan explains it simply: The Qua ran commands women to be modest and the definition of modesty has constantly been tweaked and redefined by whatever group is ruling. And so the women begin to wear the hidjab, which leaves little, if any, flesh showing. Women who do show their arms or necks are subjected to lewd comments and behavior from men on the street. They are groped and attacked and then blamed because men have no responsibility to control their behavior and sexual desire, and thus it becomes the woman's fault for arousing the man. Often, women who are raped or become pregnant out of wedlock would commit suicide for the family's honor. One such woman that Ayaan knew poured kerosene over her head and lit herself on fire in front of her family.

As shocking as that sounds, I couldn't help but think of our tendency in Christian circles to teach obedience to rules without heart change. The Muslim men in Ayaan's world never learn self-control or discernment, so they act out their natural heart's desire. How often have I known people who were raised with strict rules and had no heart change and when left to their own devices, go headlong into sin without any guilt because their desires were left to fester and grow on the inside, while they obeyed on the outside. As a parent, this scares me beyond belief. It makes me question what am I doing to speak to my children's hearts, and not just require rote obedience without heart change.

Islam's worship of Allah is all about submission, which is familiar territory for the Christian believer, but it falls short because their is no heart change and no help from Allah. He is to be feared and worshipped, but there is no mention of love or relationship with him. Life is simply trying to obey more than you disobey his commands and hope that earns you a place in paradise. There is no grace, mercy or atonement for a Muslim.

This was a difficult book to read. It was deep and depressing at times. I long to give the author the gospel. To give her some hope in a God who is loving and kind, and who extends favor to a thousand generations. Unfortunately, Ayaan now considers herself an atheist and sees as her life goal to expose Islam's terror against women and desire to rule the entire world. She is a loud and outspoken critic of Islam and Muslim culture, which has caused her to have to go into hiding to avoid the death threats she receives from her own people. She is cut completely off from her family and after serving for a time in Dutch Parliament, now lives in the U.S.

As difficult as this book was to read at times, I am grateful that I did. It gave me a better understanding of Islam's beliefs and greater compassion for those who live under it's rule. It also helped me grasp the political problems in third-world countries and renewed my thankfulness for the civil order we enjoy in America.

My sister-in-law commented that there is still hope that she becomes a believer. I agree. I pray that God will open her eyes to true faith in Him, that she will know forgiveness of sins now.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Got to Mow the Lawn!!!!!

Okay, maybe that doesn't sound very exciting to you. Or maybe it even sounds like a chore to you. Well, I enjoy mowing the lawn for a few reasons:

1. We have a riding lawn mower, so it is easy.
2. The hour that it takes to mow is almost guaranteed to be quiet (other than the sound of the mower, that is) and leave me alone with my thoughts and prayers.
3. It gives me a break from parenting and from hearing "mommy, mommy, mommy" (like I am hearing as I type this).
4. I get to listen to my iPod. And I can listen uninterrupted, so my favorite thing to listen to during this quiet time is a good sermon.

That leads me to the point of this post. When Dan said that I could mow last night so that he would be able to work in the garden, I ran next door and borrowed my neighbor's iPod, because she had recommended a sermon by John Piper just the other day.

The sermon is entitled, "A Broken and Contrite Heart God will not Despise" and I will not diminish it's great truths by trying to synopsize it here. Instead, just go and download it yourself and be blessed.

Really. I mean it. There is nothing else here to read. Go and do it now. You will not be disappointed.