Here are some random photos I've taken over the last several months. Life has been full, lively, and happy! I'm so grateful for each moment we have. :-)
Monday, August 18
This past Wednesday (August 13, 2014) we welcomed our newest munchkin! We named him Ethan Thadddaeus (meaning strong and courageous). He was born eager to explore anything and everything he could grasp and immediately began looking for food. (Makes sense - he was 9lbs and 21.5in! Our heaviest baby yet, though I'm fairly sure that he is the same length as both Chloe & Zachary at birth.)
We are so happy he is here and I'm so relieved to have labor and the hospital stay behind us. It is just so good to be home and all together! Dwight was given the week off to help me recover and adjust and our church family is being amazingly supportive with meals and offering their homes for visits if I need to get a change of scenery, rest, or a place to bring the kids to play. I've quietly struggled with PPD/months of achy weepyiness following the births of my other children and so having practical help (these women are great cooks, y'all!) and lots of prayer and support from our small group & ss class has been really really precious to me! I haven't experienced the feelings of inadequacy yet (just a lot of love!), and have been able to actually sleep this time around (I always left the hospital experiencing hives that didn't go away for months and months...after Ella the only way I could find relief until I began doing tea detoxes was to sleep with ice packs - not fun and made it cold for Dwight too! Haha! Thankfully after cutting legumes/soy from my diet, they vanished. I'm so thankful that I haven't had a single hive yet since Ethan's birth! Yay! That was also the reason behind my desiring a fully unmedicated birth this time around...just to see if that would help too. Malory was an amazing doula and the staff at Methodist is incredible and so sweet. And Dwight is such a sweetheart! As I was in the final minutes of labor I was squeezing his hand super hard...enough to cause all kinds of cracking noises, but he didn't mind. I'm just glad I didn't break anything! :-P) I love him and each of our sweet babies so much!
This little guy has had several visitors too! A pastor from our church came to the hospital, my mom and brothers were able to stop in at the hospital for a bit (worked out great timing wise for them because they were already in town for something unrelated! Ethan's a helpful guy already! ;-D), and then my sister & cousin came to the area for some fun time and were able to swing by the house just after we got home. :-)
We are adjusting well and the kids are all doing great! We had a rough couple of days recovering from lack of normalcy, being overly tired, and too many snacks... but all is better now. :-) They adore their newest playmate and I'm never at a loss for someone eager to hold him. :-) They are loving having daddy around for the week too. Wednesday will be our first day of just the kids and I, so we are soaking up having him here now!
Here are some snapshots from the past week :-D
Monday, July 7
One of my hopes for this summer was to use this short season to focus on a few key areas: household organization & meal/cleaning planning (help!!!), photography and other hobby/DIY things I’d been procrastinating on, and also really grasping a means of Bible study that goes beyond a daily reading and allows me to really see God from Genesis through Revelations and that would tie together all these key passages and doctrines that I believe but are often disjointed and not clearly seen interwoven. The Bible is so much more than a manual of rules, doctrines, storylines, characters, and/or concepts! It is a book about God. The months following a birth have always been challenging physically and emotionally for me, and while I have taken definite steps to help with those areas this go-around (eliminating problem foods, stocking the freezer with meals ahead of time, specific vitamins, etc.), I know that above all having my heart needs to be focused on truth.
One of the things about Dwight that stood out to me early on in our relationship was how he really knew his Bible. He loved reading God’s Word and learning – not was others said it was saying, or what he felt it was saying to him – but what it actually said. I wanted that to be true of myself! I had my consistent reading yet really desired more. The Bible is God’s Word, and we are commanded to wield it rightly but I felt incredibly confused and ill-equipped. My brain was fuzzy, my body was weary and sleep-deprived, and when reading and stopping to really delve deep I was lost. I didn’t know how to move beyond and learn more, and was quite certain that it wasn’t just a dangling carrot available only to seminary grads! I became discouraged and doubtful that it would ever happen for me, because it all just seemed to be too overwhelming. I felt like a newbie, and was ashamed that I wasn’t getting it. I desperately want to be able to know God’s word so well that false doctrines or unbiblical teachings or erroneous advice will no longer confuse me because I’ll be grounded in His Truth. I want to know scripture so well that as I interact with my babies that I’m not just telling them what I want them to do or be, but have the wisdom to point them to God and mother in God-honoring ways. I want to be reflecting Christ to my Sweetheart and friends. So I began to pray that God would provide what He knew I needed.
It wasn’t long before He practically plopped tools and resources onto my lap! For instance, our Sunday School started working its way through Jonah, with one of our pastors walking us through the studying process which he has found most helpful, a women’s Bible Study I signed up for had the Authority of Scripture as its first session with loads of practical instruction, reading a simple blog post introduced me to a non-fluffy/non-celebrity study that is challenging (for me!) to go through but is just what I had been hoping for (again… I’m sleep deprived! And quiet time around here is almost non-existent unless I want to wake up at 2), and then a book unexpectedly showed up in my mailbox one day! It was an advanced reader copy of Women of the Word, written by Jen Wilkie, and Crossway was kindly asking that I would simply read it and share a review. Over the next couple of weeks it was eagerly read and even Dwight’s curiosity got the best of him so he picked it up too. :-) God is so gracious to me, giving me gifts like these out of the blue and just what I needed for encouragement and the proverbial much needed shove in the right direction. I still have the strong desire, yet the sheer audacity of the task has been lessened. I love how Jen Wilkie described in her book how she also felt overwhelmed and inadequate, yet found what she called a gloriously simple answer. The answer to how you learn to properly interpret and apply scripture? It’s simply one spoonful at a time.
I hope this book review is helpful and encouraging to you. :-)
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds is written by Jen Wilkin, an author and Bible teacher. It is published by Crossway Books, who generously provided me with the copy free of charge which enabled me to provide this honest review.
In her book, Jen Wilkin begins by introducing the reader to her own personal testimony of learning to study the Bible and invites women, ministry workers, parents, the curious yet brave husband (after all, it is a book written with a female audience in mind ::Grin::), and anyone who desires to learn to study God’s Word themselves to join her in the quest of God-focused Biblical literacy. I couldn’t help but chuckle as she describes some of the many incomplete approaches people can take to Bible reading, having been taught them personally: the Xanax approach (treating the Bible as if it exists to make us feel better), the Pinball approach (which fails to give thought to cultural, historical, or textual context), the Magic 8 Ball approach (the Bible is not intended to tell us what to do, but rather who to be), the Personal Shopper approach aka topical Bible study (helpful in integrating God’s Word practically but fail to give us a foundation understanding and prevent us from the work necessary to truly “own” God’s Word for ourselves as we study from start to finish), the Telephone Game approach (happens when we read books about the Bible instead of reading the actual Bible itself), the Jack Sprat approach (only studying books with characters, plots, or topics that we can easily identify ourselves with rather than recognizing that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and profitable). After identifying with several of these approaches, I was relieved to see that she offered hope! She continues to share a process that has helped her as well as those she teaches though the ministry of The Village Church (in Dallas, TX). The pages addressing why Biblical literacy matters are an essential read!
The process she shares is what she calls the Five P’s of Sound Study: Study with Purpose, Study with Perspective, Study with Patience, Study with Process, and Study with Prayer. (She makes note to clearly state at the onset that these are not strictly linear but rather are equally necessary and interrelated.) I appreciated how she introduced each of these generally, yet transitioned into specific ways of application that made sense as she guides the reader through the book of James. Her goal is for us to be excited about seeing the Big Story of the Bible and how all the parts fit together to show us God’s redeeming plan! If the process shared made sense to me (struggling to not nod off while energetic munchkins bounce around me along with an excitable puppy) they will make sense to anyone! ::Wink:: I’m eager to begin putting these into practice as I study and learn more about God through His Word and heartily recommend this title.
"A well-rounded approach to Bible study addresses a topic as it arises in Scripture, rather than attaching Scripture to a topic." – Jen Wilkie
Saturday, June 14
So thankful to be almost 33 weeks along with our second little boy. :-) I haven't posted bump pics anywhere yet, maybe the next one will be with him in my arms!
But sometimes I wish our home and yard was. ;-) But the nice thing about planning it all out over 5+ years is you can take time to dream it all out! Here's a few pics of some of this year's flowers and projects so far:
My Mum's Day Rosebush:
I love our Peonies:
Potato experiment. These pics are several weeks old, the plants are huge now!:
The garden beds. The kids had fun building them with daddy! We experimented with starting our own Heirloom seeds this year...fun! And this is the year we get to paint the fence. Hopefully - white stain is already in the basement. Yay!!!!!:
Planted a lilac border:
Something I'm really happy (and amazed :-P) about is that the raspberries & blackberries we planted last year not only survived the winter (totally unexpected - I thought for sure everything was a goner!), but they came back SUPER prolific. The kids keep looking for fruit...won't be long! :-D