Thursday, December 24, 2009

Carrying on a family tradition

For as long as I can remember, my grandfather always said a devotion before we opened gifts on Christmas. I remember it as always being a reminder of why we were celebrating. My grandfather past away just a couple of weeks after Christmas last year. God has had it on my heart to take over this tradition, so I have prepared a devotion using a few sources. I will be sharing it with my family this afternoon.

"Searching for the 'Perfect Gift'" (sources: Jim Walterhouse and Randall D Hughes 1998)

There are some folks that are hard to shop for:
~you have no idea what they need or want
~You don't know what size or color
~They are just plain picky

But, God knows exactly what we need. He gives us good and perfect gifts. Let's be reminded of some of God's gifts to us.

1) The gift of the Savior
Luke 2:11 says "The Savior, yes the Messiah, the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David."

If there ever was a gift where "everybody needs one", "one size fits all" or "you can't live without it", this is it.

The bible tells us the gift of the Savior is a promised gift. It tells us this in the very first book of the bible but it doesn't happen until the new testament...thousands of years later.

The bible also tells us the gift of the Savior is a perfectly timed gift. Galations 4:4 says "but when the right time came, God sent his son, born of a woman..."

2) The second gift is the gift of salvation
Having the gift of salvation means we have a personal relationship with the living God.
John 3:16 says "for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that all who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life"
Eph 2:8-10 says "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
And Romans 6:23 says "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life THROUGH Christ Jesus, our Lord"

3) The third gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 14 of the book of John tells us that the Holy spirit is an indwelling person (it lives within us), an empowering person, and an educating person. It says (versuses 16-19, 26) "and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) who will never leave you. He is the Holdy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans-I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you will also live (empowerment). But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative - that is the Holy Spirit - he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you (education)."

4) The forth gift is the gift of grace

Grace is defined in Scripture as something that teaches us how to live. Grace teaches one how to live pleasing in his sight. Two ways we can do this is by giving and serving. To live is to give...God gave to us and so should we give to others. 2 Cor 8:19 says "you know the generous grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that by his poverty, he could make you rich." It goes on to say in Titus 2:11 "For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people." It is interesting to note that God's grace has been extended to all men, yet all men are not saved! This is not God's fault though. For he came "to seek and to save that which was last" (Luke 19:10). This was the whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth. God purchased our salvation with his own blood, Acts 20:28. The price paid at Calvary is the ONLY price able to purchase our salvation. There are not enough good deeds available for any one of us to do to ever deserve God's grace. Christ did the work to make salvation available to us.

Okay, so what do you do with a gift?
I suppose every parent has had the experience of searching for some special gift for their child and then after all that effort, seeing the child spend more time playing with the box the gift came in than the gift itself. The feeling you have at that time approximates the feeling God must have about some of His children with their attitude towards His gifts to you. So what can we do with our gifts for God?
1) Thank God for the gift. 2 Cor 9:15 says "thank God for this gift - too wonderful for words!"
2) Use the gift. 1 Tim 4:14 says "Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks."
3) Share the gift. 2 Tim 1: 6-9 says "This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but the power, love and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, either...With the strength God gave you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deseved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus."
4) Add to the gifts. 2 Peter 1:2-10 says "May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

In conclusion, the writer (Jim) shares his story. It was the week before Christmas. Parking spaces were hard to come by. There were long lines, crowded stores, rude people, and grossly inflated prices. In one long checkout line, one man was heard to say "They should kill the guy who started Christmas". One wise and goldy woman in the line said, They did - they hung Him on a cross." Therein lies the REAL Christmas story.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

How to make a snow angel

Yesterday we enjoyed one of the first snows of the season. I got the kids all bundled up. It took about 20 minutes to get us all dressed and then we were outside for about...oh...5 minutes before everyone wanted to go in. It really wasn't too cold as the wind was actually not blowing - a rarity in good ol' Illinois.
Here's a semi family picture taken in a neighbor's yard taken by a different neighbor...confusing,huh? This guy's a big time German and loves that his across the street neighbors (us) have German names (Bultemeier and Bauer - way German). So this year, he put his German Merry Christmas lights out. He's says he did this for the kids, but I tend to believe he did this for a reason to come outside and drink his German beer, make a little yellow snow, and then retire for an early evening. You think I'm kidding...

Brody...obviously not a fan of the white stuff. Or maybe it was the snow suit which allowed no movement other than falling over backward like that kid in the Christmas Story movie.

How to make a snow angel (when you don't want to). Take your crying kid and place her in the white stuff....move her arms and legs like so...

Pick the crying child up out of the snow and...

Wahlah...perfect little snow angel.

Chuck E Cheese

We caved...and finally did a family night at Chuck E Cheese. Reece kept saying we were going to the Mouse's house. We of course used a coupon and got pizza and 100 tokens for like $20. Why would we get 100 tokens you ask? Because daddy just had to play skee and basketball to get as many tickets as he could so we could bring home some cheesey (no pun intended) toy that's already sitting at the bottom of the toy box. Oh was fun anyways. Brody was in awe of all the lights and noise and didn't hardly make a peep the entire time there. He was just taking it all in (which you'll see by the pictures). Reece was all about it all and loved meeting Chuck E. When he came out she went right over and hugged him.

Can't go to Chuck E Cheese without getting one of these "cheesey" pictures

"the wheels on the bus go round and round..."

The big Cheese and Reecey having a conversation.

No expression...


Update on Reece

Reece...she's such a ham and a social butterfly. She loves getting ready like mommy. She is loving hearing about the holiday season. We have been faithful about doing our advent calendar and talking about each character and what part they played in Jesus's birth. She also has been faithful about practicing singing happy birthday to Him. She talks so much...I just can't believe all that she picks up on and repeats. Yesterday at church she saw a lady using crutches. When we got home and were eating lunch she says (with a look of worry on her face), "Mommy, that lady hurt her foot...she had no shoe on". I said "Yeah, I think she fell down and broke it. It should heal just fine and she'll be okay". She says "No, mom, she needs new batteries". Don't we wish it was all that easy?

Although embarrassing for me, I had to put it on here...we love doing our hair together. Reece combs my hair every night and puts barrettes, "ponies", and "curlies" in (curlers that aren't hot of course).

She is fascinated with pregnant ladies. She always tells me that her baby is coming out...I really pray that she does not say things like that in public. I really do tell her way too much. So this is her pretending she is pregnant.

I think this is all of her headbands...on all at once. She goes to extremes sometimes...She also loves her pajamas and refuses to wear regular clothes when we are home. So that is why you keep seeing the same clothes in pictures. We only have so many pajamas...

Update on Brody

Brody is 14.5 months...he started walking 2 weeks ago right when he turned 14 months. One day it just happened...he did 2 steps one day, then 4 the next...that turned into 1/2 a dozen here and there. And now he is full blown walking all over the place. He loves it and so does Reece. She is so use to hearing me cheer when he walks, that she does it too. He laughs so hard when he is walking that he falls down. It's pretty funny. And I am super excited that I got his first steps on camera. If I knew how to put them on the blog I would. He is also starting to say several words and pointing at things. He loves to dance and shake his head (usually in the "no" direction from seeing it often). His favorite word is "NOPE!" I know his sister tells him this often when he is getting into something that she feels is hers (I'd say 9 times out of 10 the item is his anyways) or just when she is trying to be his 2nd mommy. He is at such a fun age and I am really loving it. It is so fun to see all through his little innocent eyes.

He loves to eat off of his sister's tray...even though he just ate the same thing and got done first. Pretty much twice a week this plate ends up on the floor. Can't leave the room!

They already have winter they are looking out the window like a bunch of puppies.

Brody has loved playing in the dog food for the past 6 months. Last night I found him putting some in his dump creative!

Daddy got these Tony Stewart ear muffs at the farm show a couple of weeks ago. His hope is for Brody to wear these at his first monster truck show. My hope is that this will be awhile. For now, I will put them to practice when I want some peace around here. They were so heavy they made his eyes droop!

Brody loves getting in and out of the rocking chair to look out the window. Here he is making his favorite "ewwww" sound. He's so excited doing things on his own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Discovering things...

At the Children's Discovery Museum. I remember going the Children's Discovery Museum the day after Thanksgiving last year. Brody was like 6 weeks old and slept the whole time and I had to excuse myself to nurse him in the backseat of our car (yes, the windows are tinted and I was fully covered). This year he practly' owns the place. It's amazing how far they come in one year.

Good thing they like trains...we got them one for Christmas! (Good thing they don't read either!)

Reece has always been a climber. She loved climbing up in this thing (which might I add goes up to the 3rd floor). I was a little fearful that she would get stuck, scared, etc and want me to come rescue her...I don't think I would have been able to!

I could not get her away from the painting area...she loves being creative. Luckily for Brody there were trucks right outside this window with a wide open floor to push them around. He had a blast.

Christmas Decor

We started putting up the Christmas Decorations and we had so much fun! Reece loved to help. Reece's first Christmas, we got her the Elf on a Shelf Christmas Tradition but this is the first year she understands what is going on. Our Elf's name is Ralphie and he shows up every morning in a new location. He watches over her and reports back to Santa at night if she's been naughty or nice. Each morning it is fun to watch her search the house to find where he is. To see more about the tradition you can go to I just love him...he's sooo cute!

Here's Ralphie on the first day...just part of the family

Reece actually put ornaments on the tree this year as opposed to taking them off...

She was very excited to help (still her in jammies)

Here's Brode saying "ewww, ahhhh"

Looks like he's helping but he was trying to take them off. After saying no the first whole day, he doesn't touch it now.

Almost walking

It's funny...I already had used the title "almost walking" when I was documenting all of Reece's firsts. It's kind of sad this time reporting that my baby is almost walking. He can stand up all by himself (from a sitting position) which means he is pretty strong and probably capable of walking. Reece never stood on her own until after she was already walking. I remember her crawling to something, pulling up on it, and then walking Brody is on his way!

He is getting quite the personality. He is told "no" so much (mostly by his big sister - aka other mommy) that he says it back quite frequently. When he says it, I am unsure if it was him or Reece because they sound so much alike. He also loves it when daddy comes home from work. When I tell him that he is home, he crawls to the door and waits...squeeling with joy and yelling da-da. He loves playing with Reece. If she is still sleeping when he gets up, he gets bored and is so excited when he sees her. He currently says "ssssss" for sissy or Reece. She makes him belly laugh and it brings tears to my eyes. He totally adores her. I think she's pretty wild about him too. Every time we are in public, the first thing she says is "this is my little brother" as she puts her arm around him...HEAVEN on earth, I tell you! He can also say "ut-oh" and he ewwws and ahs over things, especially lights.

He's a total boy...loves trucks, tractors, balls...anything that moves. He hates grocery shopping or shopping in general and gets bored easily.

He also got his first real hair cut about a week ago.

Here he is standing...looking for sissy's approval...see the way he looks at her? (new hair cut in these pictures)

Loves to play

Ready to take a step

Walking behind the push toy