Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Please pray...

for my friend Amy. Following emergency surgery for a kidney stone, it is believed she had strokes in both of her eyes. She has little or no vision in one eye. You can go to her blog at to daily know how to lift her in prayer. Amy is a beautiful wife, loving mother to three small boys, faithful believer and dear friend to me. I hurt so much for her and ask you all to join me in praying for restoration of sight to both eyes, for peace in the midst of this storm, for comfort to her, her husband and little family. As a young mom myself, I just can't imagine what she is going through. I'm at a loss for words but I do know that "the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26).

Praying for Amy certainly changes what I view as important today and everyday.

Please join me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ms. Kimmycakes is a comin' to town...

Reading princess stories (while wearing princess jammies)! Our "guest" room is actually Maddie and Isaac's bedroom. Normally we move those two out when company comes over. However, Maddie was thrilled beyond words to get to stay in her room and have "sleepovers with Ms. Kimmycakes." She is still telling us now that she is "afraid to sleep in her room without Ms. Kimmycakes." Hmmmm.... Does the art of manipulation work on you, Kimber?

A lovely pic of my dear friend in front of a art exhibit made out of ice.

Here, Kim and I are standing in Millenium Park in front of the outdoor ice skating rink (Chicago's equivalent to Rockefeller Center in New York.)

Standing on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago. They have been offering free admission during the month of February. We took advantage of this offer to enjoy our first visit there. Unfortunately getting delayed in traffic shortened our visit, but I was very thankful we got in after making that long drive. I was so moved to see White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall. One of the books our book club had read earlier this year, My Name is Asher Lev, has a similar work that it's fictitious character creates.

A treat to have tea with new and old friends becoming acquainted

My favorite picture from the weekend. Kimber is such an incredible friend and person. She was SO incredible with our kids, and they loved her back so easily. It was so moving for me to see Kim talk with my friend about caring for her mom. Kim has made very brave and selfless decisions that have allowed her to serve her family's needs so faithfully. When I am around her I am inspired to be more thoughtful, more selfless, more like Christ.

One of the highlights of our weekend was getting to watch the middle portion of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice together on Sunday evening. Tom was very willing to give up his seat on the couch...but nonetheless enjoyed throwing smoldering looks and doing his best Mr. Darcy impersonation--a highly sarcastic one (but I might add he IS the real thing for anyone wondering). Seems only fitting to end this post with a little Austen a la Kimber.

"My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."

"There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Phil Vischer

"He who has God plus many things has nothing more than he who has God alone." C.S. Lewis

I was privileged to attend a childrens ministry conference this past weekend at Elmbrook Church in Milwaukee (Stuart & Jill Briscoe's church). Phil Vischer was the keynote speaker and I was eagerly anticipating hearing his story. Veggietales have always been highly amusing for our entire family and many of the nuggets of truth they encapsulate have come up again and again ("The Thankful Song" being one of my all time favorites). I went to the conference expecting vision, passion, and ideas. I came away with a head full of thoughts but only one front and center...experiencing God alone, apart from a conference or fabulous ministry vision, is the only way to truly share Christ.

He talked about growing up with phrases like "God can't steer a parked car" and "Only one life will soon be passed, only what's done for Christ will last." He was from a family with large evangelical zeal who had great "success" in ministering to large numbers of people. He always felt that same urgency but it was only after the bankruptcy of BigIdea that he got the bigger picture. After watching every story, character, song, and rhyme he'd ever written become sold on the auction block to the highest bidder, he realized ministry was never meant to be about him, his efforts, his dream, or his ego. It's not about our strivings for Christ, but about our resting in Him.

In the second session he talked about burdens we carry unnecessarily as childrens ministry workers (and even in life in general):

1. Do you carry the burden of other people's expectations? *ouch!*

2. Do you carry the burden to entertain? "You can't compete with Nickolodeon and Disney but you can do something they can't--you can love kids!"

Ministry = making an invisible God, visible to the world (you don't have to insert yourself into that process at all, it's really not about us)

Real ministry starts not with God's love for kids, God's love for the world, but His love for you! Unless you are experiencing (really experiencing) that truth on a daily basis than all your striving are just about you.

Live and minister like you cannot lose ANYTHING you actually need.

what is NOT a snow day in wisconsin

Update: everything is relative...check out Vonnie's latest post to see what hard core winter really looks like.

Tom made it all the way home (he normally has a 40 minute commute...that day 2 hours) only to get stuck at the bottom of our driveway. We've had 56 inches of snow so far this year.
Our backyard...beautiful after the storm.
The street, looking north.
All of these pictures are for Jill, my weather happy friend. Without her, my kids would have gone to school wrongly attired many a time. Even though she moved to southern Illinois she still gives me a heads up on the "big ones." So, at your request, I hope these pics give you the warm fuzzies...actually we are the ones in need of warmth. Miss you all so much...and wish we could have hit the sleds with you this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ash Wednesday

This post was a really helpful read to reflect on Lent and how it can be beneficial to our family worship.

cartographers, animal enthusiasts, and disputes over corn

Since we had a half day off school we drove into the city on Martin Luther King day to enjoy a trip to the Field Museum. Amy had read about a new "Maps" exhibit that she thought Cole would be very into so that had been the original idea behind our visit. Amy and Steve treated Cole to the maps exhibit, while the rest of us ventured through hall after hall of animal exhibits.

Josiah brought MANY smiles and comments from other visitors to the museum that day. He would walk up to each window and rattle off: "side striped jackal, black backed jackal, spotted jackal, caracal, gerynyk, coyotes, red fox, silver fox, arctic fox, mexican wolf, grey wolf", etc. and that's just in one exhibit. Quite interesting, we noticed after a bit he would hesitate before saying each name, and upon looking closer we realized he was staring at the name cards before he would "read" each name. Up to this point his list of sight words has been growing but still a shorter list than probably most his age. Tom and I just cracked up to realize the boy has literally 100's of sight words under his belt...they just are all words you would find in an animal encyclopedia and therefore not words usually tested.

Sadly, "Sue" (the famous t-rex that used to enrapture his attention) got only a courtesy nod from Si on this trip.

Watching Maddie play in the interactive children's native American exhibit was a lesson in anthropology. There was a really neat adobe house, complete with corn thresher to "grind" your flour, then a fire over which to "bake" some bread. Outside the house was a field of corn in which you first "harvested" the corn. It was a great exhibit in that there was TONS of corn, plenty for a lot of kids to play together and each have basketfuls. But the self centered fallen nature of man was totally evident in the way those kids played. They just each wanted to hoard the corn...literally they stockpiled it (with the "lordking" guarding their pile and telling them to go get more). We played in there quite a while because this was Maddie's favorite part of the day. We saw several new groups of kids come in...each to be sucked into playing this style of game. Maddie was greatly offended that her corn kept getting stolen and had a hard time learning to defend herself (which amazed me because she has no trouble doing so at home). Like I said, quite a lesson in the study of man.