Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Our 11-Year-Old Reuben

Eleven years. It's been 11 years since Reuben made his incredible and blessed entrance into the world outside the womb and it's been such a blessed life since then.

Reuben is such an easy-going, laid back young man and brings a sense of calm to our full house. He loves to help, loves to watch, loves to make people smile. He longs to see peace around him, to do well and have others do well also. God has blessed Reuben with a natural desire to do what is right and in that is often the first to correct a younger one when he sees them not doing what he knows is the right things. He can be such an encourager and an example and it is a blessing to see this as a natural bent in him. It helps tremendously when there are little ones going many ways as he can guide the ones that are near him. 

And Reuben loves to do this! He absolutely adores the little ones. He's the first to offer to change the baby's diaper (or do it without being asked if he picks him up and realizes it needs to be done). He reads stories to the youngest ones, plays with them and makes sure they are safe. He is a good protector and hates to see people hurt. He defends fearlessly those that are smaller or weaker, which is an incredible gift. Whenever speaking to a younger one, Reuben teaches and explains. He does an amazing job reaching down to them where they are. 

Reuben is strong. His nickname is Muscles and is called this often. He carries large loads, even now, fixes things easily and problem solves many tasks with his strong mind. If we need help with anything, Reuben is right there lifting the load in anyway he can. He's very handy with tools, fixing maintenance things around the house, taking things apart and putting them back together. Recently, he's been evaluating some of our devices that aren't working properly to see if he can figure out how to fix them. He loves the puzzle and to tinker, even if he's unable to fully fix the problem. He's not afraid to try and is learning much along the way. He also enjoys exercising and exercises with us intentionally twice a week to grow his strength and to show us how flexible he is and we're not. It is such a blessed time of doing life together!

Not only does he love puzzles and tinkering, but Reuben is an amazing artist. His most recent projects include making duplicates of pages from books and you can barely tell the difference! He has an amazing eye for catching the details and making the replicas that most others would have to trace and it still would look vastly different. Not Reuben! God has given him the incredible ability to see and draw it out on paper. It is exciting to see how his skill will grow and how God will use this artistic ability.

This year Reuben has grown as a reader and has read The Hobbit and started The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, along with many other books we have around the house. He's growing in writing as well and all of his studies. He just loves to learn. Recently he's been learning Biblical history, Composition of Fables, Latin, Geography, Astronomy and Math. It's amazing to watch him learn.

As much as he loves people, Reuben is a quiet observer. He's a young man of few words, but is thoughtful and funny when he does speak. He watches what's going on around him and takes it all in, processing internally, then sharing as he figures things out. He can be around people or alone and thrive. He does appreciate it when people know his name and looks him in the eye as well as a hug from people he knows. 

Reuben is such a precious blessing and we're so grateful God gave him to us and our family and that we get to live life with him!

Father, we thank You for the precious gift of Reuben and what he means to our family. Thank You for his sweet spirit and the qualities you have given him as an image bearer in his kindness, sense of justice, creativity and strength. We pray that You will give Reuben your heart and save him by Your amazing grace. Show him that all of these amazing qualities come from You and Your grace so that he might bring you glory. Continue to grow Reuben as a young man in wisdom and stature and may he find favor with you and man. Thank You for all You have done and continue to do in his life. Make him into a man after Your own heart. We pray this in Jesus's Name, Amen!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Our Six-Year-Old Malachi

Our sweet Malachi is six years old today. He was our biggest baby who didn't want to come, but has been a joy to our family since the moment we held him in our arms.

Malachi is serious and studious, focusing on what is going on around him or the task at hand. He has taken to book work this past year and loves to learn. Numbers are his gifting, and every challenge he faces with them he picks up quickly after being taught. He also watches people and observes. Malachi is so curious and wants to know about everything. Trees, bugs, dirt, people. He watches and takes in what he sees, putting pieces together to learn more. 

This past year, Malachi has grown in maturity as well. We have seen God working in him as he grows in learning and instruction in all of life. He volunteers to make snacks or lunch for everyone, excels in sweeping the floor and loves to wash dishes. He takes correction well and we have seen him grow in honesty. The work God is doing in Malachi is so precious to see. He is learning to read the Bible and memorize Scripture. He is learning catechism as well. He likes to answer questions when he knows something and he responds with gusto and a huge smile!

His smile. It's contagious! Malachi smiles so big at so many things. He just loves life. He loves to explore and build, "drive" cars up and down, play with his siblings and pretend. His imagination is vast and it's fun to see the creative part as an image-bearer of our Creator come out in him. He is learning to draw and recently has shown growth in his skills. He loves to make people laugh, though he has a more subdued sense of humor. And hugs. He loves hugs! But only from those he knows and loves. 

Malachi was so excited to move up to the children's hall this month for Sunday School. In just a couple of weeks, he has grown in his understanding of what he's hearing in class and can tell us the Bible passage they discussed in his own words. It's a blessing to see the Word of God take root. Moving to Corporate Worship Service after Sunday School has been a bit tricky, but he is growing in this as well and will pretend to take notes at times, even if he's not sure what's being said. He wants to learn and that is a tremendous blessing.

Our family is so blessed by Malachi's life and we are thankful that God has given him to us!

Father, thank You for the gift of Malachi and the delight he brings to our family and home. Thank You for how you are growing him in wisdom and stature. We pray that You will conquer his heart and bring him to salvation. Thank You that we get to live life with him! Guide Malachi to Your Truth and Knowledge. In Jesus's Name we pray. Amen!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Our 2-Year-Old Esther

Our sweet and precious Esther is two years old today! Our little pandemic baby reminds us of God's grace and provision for His people to protect them and hold them fast. 

Esther has grown so much this year and is not a baby anymore. She's a little women, already learning how to care for babies, clean her floor, put things away and bake. Obviously, she is not grown and more observes these tasks but she is getting really good at cleaning her messes. She knows to get a towel or napkin and does decently at cleaning a spill. 

Esther loves to play with Abel as well as her baby dolls all of which she calls Abel. She carries her baby and dresses (or undresses) her doll. She puts her doll on Abel's playmat and turns on the music. It's fun to watch her learn. She also wants to help Abel with his pacifier and with eating. It's absolutely precious to see her being a little mama. 

Esther's other favorite item is "uh-oh" which is what she calls her blanket. She walks around like Linus dragging it behind her with her thumb in her mouth. So cute! (Though we'd like to break the thumb sucking...)

Recently, Esther has gotten into looking at books. She's' not quite ready for you to read them to her, but she does enjoy looking at pictures and talking about what she sees. She asks, "What's that?" to anything and everything, even if she knows what it is. It's a fun learning game for all of us. She's also learning all the names of her siblings and it's precious to hear her talk about them. They're not always clear but she will say she is thankful for them at different times.

That has been the most precious, hearing her share what she's thankful for at dinner and wanting to "pray". This is mama saying what she just said in prayer form but her eyes are wide and she listens as we teach her to pray. 

We are so thankful for Esther and the spunk she adds to our home. She's strong already and does not put up with anything from her brothers. She's a bit of a Mama's girl and loves to be with Lillian, but she loves on Daddy and her brothers too. 

Father, thank You for our precious Esther and the life she adds to our home. Thank You for this ray of life during a time that has seen so much death. We know that You are ultimate giver of life and we pray that You will give Esther life in You through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for these past two years and we look forward to so many more years of life with her. We pray this in Jesus's Name! Amen!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Greatest Salesman in the World

The Greatest Salesman in the World has been recommended to me by my mentor and business coach, Katie Hornor, since the first time I heard her speak. I was gifted the book a little bit ago and finally took the plunge and read it.

I completely understand why this book, though a work of fiction, is recommended so highly in the business world. It is filled with sound advice and great things to think about. The mantle is passed to one who is generous instead of those who are good with money, time or other things that in a worldly sense seem wise. Half of the book is filled with sayings to think on to help you be a good business person and grow in what it means to be a person in business. 

The other half is the story of Hafid who wants to learn from the greatest salesman in the world so that he can become the greatest salesman in the world. The story is intriguing and absolutely draws you in. It is set in first century Israel and ties to Biblical stories. As one who appreciates creativity, I found this quite interesting. My only issue is with the end. I do not want to spoil the book for those that read it and I want others to learn from it, if they do not have similar issues with how the story spelled out. 


For the advice given from a business perspective I would give it 4.5 stars. The story along side I'd give more like three stars because of how I read it. I'll meet in the middle and give it 3.5.

Reading Challenges:

Back to the Classics 2022: Wild Card Classic

2022 Reading Challenge with Tim Challies a book of your choice in the Light Reader section

2022 Intentional by Grace Reading Challenge: Set in or about a country that is not your own in Level 3

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Our 7-Year-Old Nehemiah

Seven years! It's been seven years since we first held Nehemiah in our arms. He came fast and furious and he has been a spitfire ever since. 

When you first meet Nehemiah, he seems like a quiet and shy little boy. But deep down he is silly and full of life. He's always sizing up the situation, paying attention to what is going on and what others are doing. Do not let his quietness fool you. He's watching and learning!

Nehemiah loves to learn. He has excelled at learning to read, basic math, grammar and phonics. He can recite most of what he learns the first time he hears it. He takes initiative, and eagerly starts formal book work learning without prompting and is very proud of his accomplishments.

One of his favorite things to learn is chess and is studying and playing with his brothers to grow in is understanding of the game. He's not quite to strategizing yet, but he can keep up with the big boys. Nehemiah enjoys playing games of all kinds and you can frequently find him playing one with someone during free time. He also enjoys puzzles and solving problems. 

Nehemiah also loves to be outside in God's creation. For him, the weather doesn't matter. He can be dripping in sweat or wrapped in coats, but still be enjoying the great outdoors. He loves to explore, dig and climb. He will watch bugs at work and play with them  in the dirt. His energy is almost limitless, but he's not restless. It's an amazing and brilliant combination that God has given to him as he learns and grows. 

Music is also enjoyed by Nehemiah. He loves to learn hymns and is interested in instruments. He tries drumming occasionally with James and would like to try keyboards as soon as he's able. 

Most of all, Nehemiah likes to be with people. You will see him alone, especially if no one else wants to go outside, but he would rather be with others. He understands at a young age the value of doing life with people, and right now that's his family. He is sensitive and so he is learning to deal with people well. 

We are so blessed by Nehemiah's life and we thank our God, YHWH, that He saw fit to give Nehemiah to our family!

Father, we thank You so much for Nehemiah! He is such a blessing, made in your image! Thank You for his sweet spirit that comes out and thank you for his love of learning. Thank You for how You are working in him and we pray that he will know your comfort and help and that he might be Your comfort and help to others. We ask You in the mighty name of Jesus to save Nehemiah and turn his heart to You! Make him a man after Your own heart and teach him Your ways, that he may know You, love you, honor You with all that he is. We pray this is the name of Your Son, Jesus! Amen

Friday, June 17, 2022

Created to Thrive: An Artist's Guide to Living in Divine Abundance by Matt Tommey

I was introduced to Matt Tommey through my business coach, Katie Hornor, and from the first time I heard him speak I knew God was using him. He has a beautiful way of explaining how art and creativity is a part of God's Kingdom and design that was refreshing and life-giving to an author and content creator.

I definitely grew up in the era of the arts are important, but that's not a career/job/etc, as well as the era of art is not really a part of church. Matt busts these myths wide open in his book, especially in regards to Christians and how they view art and careers as artists. He lays out what it means to be a Christian artist and how to evaluate where you are as an artist. (Yes, he includes writers/authors/content creators as artists!) He uses Scripture throughout, showing us as image bearers of Creator God and how it's not wrong to pursue these things. 

Matt challenges you at every turn, even if it's simply to challenge your thoughts and encouraging you to investigate Scripture on what it says about these things. I greatly appreciate that! He pushes you to take your art forward, if that is what God is calling you to do, but also rejoices in those to whom God has given creative ability that are used to bless without pursuing a career. It is a beautiful combination and exactly the way God intended the church to think about art and encouraging people in the talents that they have. 

I will give this caveat: If you were not raised in church or not from a background where the supernatural is talked about, you may struggle with a lot of what Matt says. He absolutely talks about the Holy Spirit working through us and seeking God in how to pursue our creative endeavors, and even as one who fully agrees with this it challenged me. 

Because of the way he phrases a few things throughout the book I struggled also, but because I've heard him speak and heard his heart, I am fairly confident I understand what he means though I don't agree with the way it's said. It would not keep me from reading it again or recommending it to others, especially Christians who want to pursue business in the creative arts. 

We can thrive as Christian artists if that is where God has led us!

4 Stars for this encouraging and challenging read!

Reading Challenges:

2022 Reading Challenge with Tim Challies: A book by someone you think you could be friends with in Committed Reader section

2022 Intentional by Grace Reading Challenge: About Creativity in Level 3 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Abundant Simplicity

This book has been sitting on my shelf for sometime now. Jim gave it to me several years ago and I'm not even sure where I heard about it to begin with, but decided it was time to read it as I really want to read all the books on my shelf as soon as possible. 

I read this book in January as we waited and planned for our most recent blessing. It was a good time to read it as we had been going through things and figuring out what we needed and what we didn't and purging those things that were not needed or not special to us. We still have a ways to go in that regard as needs are constantly changing, but this book did give encouragement in living simply and helping me discern some of those things. 

On the whole I enjoyed and appreciated the book. As I said it was encouraging over all. It did point to God and Him being our abundance and not looking to things of the world to fill us up. She shared several examples of ways people have done this which were exciting and definitely extreme for our culture. 

But they also spoke to your "typical" American family. There were things about massively downsizing, and yes I love the idea of tiny houses, but for our family this is not and likely never will be a reality. She did say that living abundantly simple will look different for different people, and that with God you needed to figure this out. However, as is often the case, being in a different type family it felt like what she was talking about was unattainable because of our family size. (I am aware this is not true, and merely my perception.) 

I would recommend this book as a great place to begin evaluating what's in your life and what God wants to be in your life. There are many things I still need to evaluate, and I will likely revisit this book again as we go through the ever changing definition of simplicity in our home.

4 stars for this read

Reading Challenges:

2022 Reading Challenge with Tim Challies: A book with a two-word title in the Committed Reader list

My Reading Life Challenge: A Book I've Been Meaning to Read

2022 Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge: By an author you've never read before in Level 2