Thursday, April 29, 2010

Visit to Greenville

The stars were favorably aligned; the omens were clear: it was the week of the ARBCA GA (my home church's denominations general assembly, meaning that many of my dearest friends would be in ONE place from the far corners of the continent-- Powells from Canada, Foremans from Pennsylvania, Marleys from Arizona), it was my friend Tracy's wedding, it was a single-mom weekend for me, with Ryan in San Francisco, not to mention the usual gravitational pull that my parent's home and beloved Grace Baptist of Taylors SC have on me. Add to that the promise that BOTH sisters-- Nicole & Colin in Cary, NC, and Anna from Clemson, SC-- would make it up for the weekend, and I was definitely going to Greenville. No way would I miss that.

Since the Powell family would be stopping in at Top Porch for 3 nights on their way back to Canada within a day of my own return home, I had to have the house pretty set when I left. I pulled about 5 very late nights in a row getting our house ready for company, and company with very little fingers at that. Our guest room had long been our storage room, and our playroom was in total disarray, so both had to be organized, cleaned and rearranged. By Thursday morning at 7 am, I had the car packed, the house fairly well in order, and both baby and I ready to run carpool, work the morning at school, and then shoot off to Greenville straight from work. I even had my recycling in the car so I could drop it off on the way out of town. =D (Can you tell I was motivated to get to Greenville as early as possible?)

E enjoying her car mirror during one of our quick stops. Thank you Grandma & Grandpa! The mirror is CRUCIAL on these car trips, especially when I'm alone!

My happy little travel buddy

The drive couldn't have been more beautiful, and Eowyn and I made very good time. I had Emma on AudioBook to keep me company, as well as a few mixes I'd un-earthed in my de-junking spree... these made me miss Ryan. =D Eowyn slept for the first 2 1/2 hours or so. When she woke up, I devised a system to hand her one toy at a time to keep her happy between stops-- I'd gather them all up at the stop, and start over again once we took off. I had reserve paci's stashed ready at hand, too! I stopped only to nurse her and change her and fill up the car with gas, snacking as I drove. We unfortunately lost about 45 minutes-1 hour on the detour around I-40, due to a rock slide... they opened it back up a day after I drove through!! Oh well... we arrived in Greenville just as Eowyn had enough of the carseat and was letting me know it.

I was joyfully greeted by my Mom & Dad, and of course Mom immediately began doing what she does best-- taking care of us. In no time I was eating a yummy meal and so was Eowyn (carrots, yum). Just as we were digging in, who should walk in but my bestest friend-- Valerie, who was staying (along with her hubby and 3 little ones) at my parents' house for the week!? It was funny how natural it felt to see my best friend in my parents' house... even though I didn't live at home when we were friends. As the weekend progressed, the house got fuller and fuller, with first Nicole & Colin arriving, then Anna and her roommate Caiti (an honorary Thompson by now). I must confess that it felt a little like Christmas! I think it's a preview of days to come, when my parents' home will be often full of little people (grandchildren!), of families camped out in what used to be single girl's bedrooms, and of old toys now cleaned off and being enjoyed all over again. As it was, I don't think I've seen my mom happier than with all of her daughters- even 2 honorary ones (she has quite a few of those)- "home," and all FOUR of her favorite little people (she was Hannah & Noah's nanny when they were in Greenville) under one roof!

It's been a really sleep-scarce week, but a really really joyful one, too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Dear readers,
Eowyn & I are on a quick trip down to Greenville, SC. Photos and several posts coming soon!! I've been prompted to post sone thoughts on preschool tips, music ed especially, so get ready! :)
~ Christina

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Smiley One

Uncle Colin babysat his neice for the FIRST TIME EVER while Nicole & I ran to Marshalls on a sister-shopping run. He did a great job.

Photos by my sister, Anna Karina (except for the one with Anna in it-- that one was by my mom, Karina)... otherwise known as "Crazy Tia Anna"

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Guy Is Speakin' My Language!!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Resources for Gospel Forgiveness

We daily must forgive and be forgiven... if we aren't, then we are both self-deceived and living in sin! The first tenet of Luther's 95 Theses was that the entire life of a Christian is to be one of daily repentance; daily asking forgiveness from God. I think he was spot on.

And everyone has to forgive countless offenses pretty much every day. Those of us with small children and human husbands for sure. And anyone who works in retail. Probably anyone who comes in contact with any other human on a daily basis, actually. We are all sinful, and sinners therefore... sin. Against each other. Competing world views, competing objects of worship.

Here are some resources that I've personally found to be very helpful in forgiving as the Lord has and continues to forgive me:

1. "Gospel Forgiveness," an article by Tim Keller- I have an article by this title, but couldn't find it online. I did find it in its entirety (minus an introductory paragraph) as part of this marriage conference handout from Tim Keller's church, Redeemer Presbyterian: It starts on page 11 with "A. The Resources for Forgiveness." Wonderful super-helpful stuff. When I was in counseling in college, I gave this to my secular counselor (who was a believer, but had never heard of using the Scriptures/Gospel to deal with problems), and I think it really opened her eyes. She was blown away by it... I hope it changed the way she counseled people! I've wondered if one of the Lord's purposes in bringing me into her office might have been to expose her to the idea of Gospel-empowered forgiveness. I guess One Day I'll know!

2. "How to be Free from Bitterness," an article by Jim Wilson- I have this as a little pamphlet, but now it's being sold as an actual book! I'm not sure about the other articles in the new format, but if they're as helpful as the original article is, it'd be well worth the purchase price.

3. "Forgiving Grace," a sermon by Tim Keller- That whole sermon series ("Practical Grace: how the Gospel transforms character") is life-changing. SO worth the price of the download (I think Keller should make the manuscripts of the series into his next book!). The analogy of forgiveness as "paying down the debt of pain" yourself instead of making the other person pay captured my heart and has helped me so much.

4. Unpacking Forgiveness,a book by Chris Brauns- I did a cursory read-through of this book while spending a week with my best friend & her husband (a pastor), and really liked it. My pastor friend likewise recommended it. It's got some great help for thinking through what forgiveness actually entails and addressing the question of forgiving without the offender repenting vs being ready to forgive should they ever repent.

5. The Peacemaker, a book by Ken Sande- as Christians, we are called to go beyond merely not being bitter; we're called to help make peace! My parents' church did a Sunday School class on this, and I sat in for 2 sessions while visiting. It was really good stuff! Very applicable, balanced, and eye-opening. Another church dear to my heart did a children's VBS based on this book last summer. If you want a way to teach your children how to forgive and sort through arguments, I suggest the kid's version of this material: The Young Peacemaker.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

6 Month Letter

April 11th, 2010

My dearest daughter-

Hard to believe you’ve been in our arms for half a year now. I still can remember every detail of the day you were born, and many from those long heavy days when we still wondered what you looked like! It just doesn’t seem that long ago. I guess in one sense, it was just a blink of an eye ago. In Eternity it will certainly seem that way.

Tonight as I rocked you, sleeping and eating, in my arms, I marveled at you… it’s put me in a very pensive, quiet mood. A very thankful mood. I realize -as deep-down fully as I am able -just how very blessed your Daddy and I are to have you. Your sweet sleeping rosebud mouth, still working on those last drops of rich milk, led me to worship the Giver of all good things. Maybe the old phrase “out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have ordained praise” has more than one meaning… It was a moment made eternity; an instant made timeless. I held you and rocked and rocked and rocked in the soft lamplight, breathing in your smell, feeling your softest skin, kissing your truly downy head, enjoying your warmth, your total trust in me, your Mommy, and I realized at once how fleeting these moments are, and also just how long they will be treasured. I held you a lot longer than I usually do.

You are a sunny, happy baby, smiling at most people before they even smile at you. You definitely prefer observing the world from the comfort of my arms, though! Tears usually follow if I leave you, especially in that hated playpen. I hate hearing you cry, and love when I can stop your tears, although sometimes I just HAVE to get dinner done, and so you have to just cry. This month you’ve really taken off in mobility. Instead of just rocking and rolling, now you scoot around. You grab constantly, making shopping at times a nightmare! You taste everything, especially tags, straps & strings, and chair legs. Your favorite toys are water bottles or shoes, or spoons, even though you gag yourself with them. You’ve started crying in definite anger when they things- like spoons or your mom- are taken away. You’ve become a paci baby lately, too, which is fine by us… though that thumb in your mouth was pretty darn cute. You’ve just learned to sit up without tipping over, and you grin with those two teeth of yours to show just how proud you are when you do that. You are a wonderful eater, enjoying bananas, egg yolk, avocado, and starting to drink from a cup without spilling. One of your biggest discoveries this month has been your tongue—you stick it out all the time, and even blow raspberries and spit bubbles. Very cute except at mealtimes. You’ve had your first baths in the big tub and aren’t a fan. Another first has been swinging; at Grandpa Rob’s you went with me on a tree swing. You did seem to like that!

You interact with us more and more. I finally have gotten you to laugh! You still don’t do it much, but in the right mood, tickles under your chin or the word “Boo!” get some giggles out of you. Usually you just grin bigger and bigger and bigger, until it looks like you’re laughing your heart out inside. Nina calls this your silent laugh. As you’ve gotten better at grabbing (pulling your socks off is very fun) and getting around, we’ve had to introduce the phrase “no touch” (Daddy’s version) or “no toques” (Mommy’s version), and some boundaries—like no touching the coffee table, iPhones, or books. Hmmm. That part of interacting with you hasn’t been so fun, but it is really rewarding to watch you learn and respond!

As far as places you’ve visited and people you’ve seen, you went to the zoo and loved it (especially all those two-legged creatures walking outside the cages), and in the past 3 weeks have seen all your grandparents, as well as your only first cousin, Shyanna. You’ve flown out to Portland, Oregon & back, and went with us across the border into Washington state, too. Not a bad travel record for a peanut!

You continue to grow—at your 6 mos checkup you weighed 15.11 lbs and were 27” long. I can’t wait to see what you learn in this coming month! We love you, Boo.


Photos from her 6-month/Easter Photo Shoot (taken April 1st):

Sunday, April 04, 2010

It is FINISHED; He has won it!

Good ol' Keith Green looks like our friend Rob Smythe here! I love watching Keith perform live, because his mad piano skills (he went to Julliard!) are so amazing!

Swallowed into earth's dark womb
"Death has triumphed!"- that's what they say.
But try to hold Him in the tomb,
The Son of Light rose on the third day!
Just look- the gates of hell are falling;
Crumbling from the inside out!
He's bursting through the walls with laughter!
Listen to the angels shout!

"His plan of battle fooled them all
They led Him off to prison to die,
But as He entered Hades' Hall,
He broke those hellish chains with a cry!
Listen to the demons screaming!
See Him bruise the Serpent's head!
The prisoners of Hell He's redeeming:
All the power of death is dead!

It is finished: He has done it!
Life conquered death: Jesus Christ has won it!

In the early church, everyone was very careful to NOT say "Hallelujah" (meaning "Praise YHWH") for the week (and longer) leading up to Easter Sunday. That way, on the morning when everyone woke at dawn to shout and cheer and sing and dance His victory, saying "Hallelujah!" over and over was especially delicious. It made it feel even more like the victory cry after a long, hard war-- one you thought was for sure lost, one you thought you would die fighting, hopeless... and then... out of nowhere, here Life has conquered! Tolkien called this a "eucatastrophe"-- the reverse of catastrophe, when everything suddenly goes wrong for reasons beyond your control. The eucatastrophe means suddenly, unexpectedly, everything goes amazingly RIGHT for reasons beyond your control! THAT was Easter Sunday morning! That's why "Hallelujah!!"s burst from the glad believer's lips over and over; because it's GOD who did it, it's GOD who won the victory, and we can hardly believe it.

The fight is o'er, the battle done! The victory of life is won! The song of triumph has begun: hallelujah!!!

Say it with relish! Taste it! Roll the word around in your mouth, imagining that your mouth is caked with grime from battle, that you've only tasted sweat and blood and dirt until this moment, when suddenly, the battle is won, and YOU are being carried along in the Triumphal procession. Hallelujah!! Join in His laughter!

He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

An Empty Sabbath

Thinking about that first Easter, 2000ish years ago... can you imagine just how bleak and black the Sabbath between our Savior's death and resurrection would have been? Imagine being a disciple, a "talmidim" of His. At the time when you were happy, celebrating your people's deliverance from Egypt, rejoicing in God's provision and might... your best friend, the one you THOUGHT would deliver and provide for all of Israel- especially you-- was suddenly, irretrivably gone. You had been a coward; you'd fled, you'd hidden, you'd watched. You'd heard his cries as his knees slammed into the hill under the weight of a crossbeam, heard his scream of agony as nails pierced flesh and nerve, watched him struggle to just breathe one more time... heard him ask for water, and then you'd seen him die. You'd taken down his broken, bloody, swollen, naked body and cried over the final frailty of it. Where was the strength, the creativity, the skill of the Carpenter now? Where was his comforting voice, his piercingly wise words? And worst of all, where was HE? You were his disciple, supposed to follow him everywhere (some followed their rabbis even into the bathroom!)... and what had he said on that blur of the last night? "Where I go you cannot follow..."? What would happen now?

Can you imagine "celebrating" the Sabbath, the feast of First Fruits, without Jesus? Trying to worship with your whole understanding of God's will and promises totally confused? Trying to meditate on Truth with your Rabbi, your teacher dead? Talk about an empty Sabbath day. The bread must have been like glue in their mouths. Did they even try to sing prayers, or were they just holding each other and crying? As one of my story Bibles puts it, they thought "we will cry and be sad forever."

What a picture of Religion without Christ; of the Law-even God's own perfect law!- without its Fulfillment alive and well. How vain and empty our own obedience is without His, how meaningless our symbols and celebrations if He did not rise from the dead.

And how different their NEXT Sabbath must have been! How amazed and joyful and full of understanding, of realization! "Hah! We thought it was all over, but it was just beginning! Now we see that every single bit of the Law was meant to point to this-- His rising again!!"

May we- may I- never practice my faith as if He had not risen already!

Jesus' Resurrection: the Firstfruits of all who will rise

Ryan's parents practice their Christianity in the form of Messianic Judaism; that is, they keep the OT Law as "shadows" which they believe have been perfectly, joyfully fulfilled in Christ, The Messiah.

Ryan's dad practicing for his Torah reading

Discussing the Son of Man (recent paper topic of Ryan's) before service

OOOOH, whiskers!

She is fascinated with any and all strings (or any hanging thing)


Whenever we are here, we enjoy going with them to synagogue on Saturdays-- the people there have known Ryan since he was in middle school, which is longer than anyone else (besides family) whom we still see (semi-)regularly. They celebrated our engagement with us, and now they were thrilled to meet our baby! She was fascinated by Rabbi Warren, fell asleep during the liturgy, and then enjoyed dancing with her grandpa after the service.

A few believers rejoicing and praising our God in dance after the service

I always learn something from synagogue; some perspective often missed by mainstream evangelicals, because, well... we're just not as familiar with the practices & beliefs of new-testament Jews. This time it had to do with Resurrection. One perspective I'll post as a separate post. Here's the other thing that really got me thinking though:

Jesus rose following the Sabbath after Passover. That's the day faithful Jews celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits. As a way of reminding themselves that God was the giver of all things, as well as their ultimate owner, Jews were commanded to bring the first part of their crops to Him as an offering. This was a celebration of God's provision as well. These first fruits offered back to God were called "firstfruits," and the concept of firstfruits pervaded much of Jewish life. The firstborn, for instance, was a type of firstfruit. The celebration of Firstfruits came in the early spring, at the barley & almond harvest. It was also called the "poor man's" harvest, and was celebrated the day after Passover.

Both the early crops were a joy in and of themselves, as the first hint of spring, and also a promise that the BIG harvest were coming in a month or so. Those would be celebrated and tithed on at the Feast of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks or Shavuot). Ok... so old Jewish calendar, we've got Passover (reminding us of the need for blood to save us from death, and then to dramatically, miraculously, deliver us from slavery), then we've got First Fruits (reminding us that God always provides, and pointing to a full harvest to come) and then we've got Pentecost (reminding us of the full harvest, and of God's giving of the Law for His people to obey). How were each of those fulfilled in Christ? Jesus died as the Ultimate sacrifice on Passover. He rose in triumph on Firstfruits. He brought in a whole harvest of 3000 souls on Pentecost, as He gave the Spirit making us wanting to and able to obey! WOW!

Paul's comment in Romans 15:20- "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep"- suddenly makes so much more sense to me! Not only is Jesus' resurrection an amazing triumph in and of itself, it is & was pointing to the resurrection of ALL believers! We rejoice not just because He rose, but because we, too will rise one day!

One more tidbit: The almond, harvested at First Fruits, itself was an early symbol of resurrection, because God had made Aaron's staff, made from an almond branch, bud again. He had made something that had died live and blossom again. How appropriate that He should raise His Son's body right when everyone was already thinking about His power to give new life!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

This song is so good... old-school, yes, but its message never fades, helping me to understand how the "shadow" of Passover was transformed 2000 years ago into Bright, Blazing Reality. May it stir you to "Watch the Lamb!"

Lord, break my heart like this every day.