Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All About Steven

Steven turned 11 months old yesterday.

He's actually walked to me now. He can take up to around 5 steps before falling.

He's such an avid reader. He was walking carrying one of his cardboard books the other day and fell. He got a little scratch on his eyelid from the book. He just loves looking at his books. He likes to look at our books, too, when we're not looking, as we don't let him have our books. The other day (I wish I could've gotten a picture) I peeked at Steven in the livingroom. He was sitting with his daddy's bible open in his lap as he was gently paging through it. It was absolutely adorable. If he goes a little too long with paper books, though, you start to hear pages tearing.

His pottying has been mostly awry since his last trip to MN (coinciding with his teething - I think he's still working on his next two top teeth). We've had some better days with only 2-3 misses, but a lot of days with 5 to even 9 misses. Two things have been encouraging, though. On a number of occasions he's signed to me "potty" (the ASL for "toilet") when he's needed to go. Also, each time he crawls into the bathroom, I ask him, "Do you need to go potty? Because that's why we go to the bathroom." and then I potty him. He's done this a number of times lately and most times he did need to go potty.

He likes to give me "five" and thinks it's very funny. He's very ticklish - everywhere. He likes to play "peek-a-boo". He loves it when his daddy or I get on the floor and chase him or get chased by him.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

War For Poverty

Excellent conference held at our church here in Grand Rapids, MI on the biblical, Christ-centered response to the poor, needy, widows and orphans. I'll spare writing a "summary" and let you listen for yourself online - well-worth your time!!

First Lecture: Heeding Our Warrior King's Call as We Worship
Second Lecture: Establishing the Command Post
Final Message: Sending Out the Foot Soldiers

"What Did You Expect?"

Sven asked me to write a summary of our weekend. Guess I'm not too good at summarizing...

Sven and I are a fan of Paul Tripp's stuff. When we were in MN, we highly enjoyed the Case for Kids video series, which teaches parenting and discipline from a Christ-centered perspective. We borrowed the series from our church and had some friends over to watch the videos together. We hoped to own a set of our own someday to watch with friends.

Paul Tripp held a marriage conference this weekend entitled, "What Did You Expect?" Christ-centered and biblically-based, Paul Tripp takes us to the heart of any marriage struggle: it's not that you don't love your spouse enough, it's that you don't rightly love God. Following is a summary of what was covered.

He pointed out that we must understand the whole theme of scripture in order to understand what the bible says about marriage. We cannot isolate marriage passages and rightly understand them.

"A marriage of unity, understanding, and love is not rooted in romance, but in worship." "Romance is never the cause, but the fruit of a good marriage." "Worship is first your identity before it's your activity." Luke 6:43-45 states that how we behave and speak is based upon what's inside of us, not on what's on the outside. Marriage problems are heart problems. In order to gain ground in your marriage, you must admit that "I am my biggest marriage problem."

II Cor. 5:14-15 states we are to live for Christ who made us alive. Sin causes us to live for ourselves instead of Christ.
1: the dna of sin is selfishness (Gen. 3).
2: Sin is anti-social (looks inward, not outward). It's not about us, it's about God. If we make it about us, we will be miserable.
3: Sin causes us to dehumanize people in our lives; they become either vehicles or obstacles. When our spouse is helping us reach our dreams and goals, we act graciously towards them, but when they get in the way of our dreams and goals, they become an obstacle and we are spontaneously irritated with them.

He pointed out one of the most misused words for us in America - "need". He stated point-blank that a wife does not need love, a husband does not need respect. Are these good and blessed things? Oh, yes, but they are not needs. We must not treat blessings as entitlements or we suck the life out of our marriages.

When Satan can get us to view less as more then he's got us. Gen. 3 is a good example. Eve thought she could have wisdom outside of God who is all wisdom. Satan tricked her into believing that less was more and then he had her. This is how he gets us to sin and compromise our marriages.

But, there's hope in II Cor. 5:14-15 - Jesus came to rescue me from myself.

"Marriage, this side of heaven, is always a war between two kingdoms." The kindgom of self and the kingdom of God.
Matt. 6:19-34 -
1: Everyone lives for some kind of treasure.
2: Our treasure controls our heart.
3: What controls our heart will control our behavior.
What kingdom are you responding out of? Your reactions come forth out of allegiance to one of these two kingdoms. How can you tell? - Is your relationship with your spouse the sweetest it's ever been?

I Jn. 4:7-11: True love is defined by the cross. Love is a "willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that doesn't demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving". In our marriages, we need "Cruciform Love" - love that shapes itself after the cross. We harm ourselves when we call things "love" that don't measure up to the definition of love.

Gal. 5:13-23: Ugliness in relationships kills us.
Three big manipluative strategies:
1: threat
2: manipulation
3: guilt
Rather, serve one another in love. We can't keep the 2nd great commandment (love your neighbor as yourself) unless we keep the first (love the Lord God). You can't fix marriage relationships horizontally, you fix marriages vertically. If you love God, you can then love your spouse.
1: Where do you get that kind of love? True love is born out of gratitude, not duty. If we have gratitude towards God, we can love.
2: We ought to love. By design, not duty. Just as birds ought to fly, they were made to; so we too, ought to love, we were made to.
3: Each day, look for places to love; commit and be faithful.

How do we worship?
Worship God as Creator. Look at our spouse and celebrate the creator, instead of looking at our spouse and trying to "play creator" and "re-create" our spouse to who we think they should be. Celebrate God's design in our spouse's gifts and talents.

Worship God as Sovereign. Acts. 17 says God determines where we live and our number of days. God directs our days and has directed us to our spouse. As we encounter differences between our tastes, instincts, culture and interaction, worship God for how he's molded and is growing our spouse. Our home should be a beautiful mix of hte husband and wife's tastes - one flesh. Marriage was given by God to bring about two things: God's glory and our good.

Worship God as Savior. Recognize that God's timing is always right. When faced with the sin, weakness and failure of our spouse how do we respond? Encourage the good things that God is at work on in their lives. In order to do this, we must recognize our own need of a Savior. The big problem in marriages is self-righteousness. Celebrate the work of our Savior, confident aht we have no power to transform our spouse. That power is Christ's alone.

The result of a life that is founded in worship? A marriage with tenderness, appreciation and romance. A marriage of unity and love is rooted in worship. What kingdom are you serving?


On a side note, Paul Tripp had a table with a bunch of his books and materials. The Case for Kids mentioned earlier was there. It's retail price is $124.95, but the nicely reduced conference price was $45.00. Sven and I planned on someday forking out the $125.00 to own it, if we were ever blessed to have that amount to use for it. But $45! We could hardly believe it. We sat there looking at it from a short distance and then I broke our thoughts with, "We don't even have $45.00." "I know." Of course my mind was trying to conceive how we could come up with $45.00. I stopped myself and prayed, "Lord, if you want us to have this video series, you can give it to us and we don't need $45.00, but if not that if fine too. Thank you." After the conference, some friends of ours gave us a call. They had purchased the Case for Kids, but the case was cracked. They called the church asking if they could exchange it for an undamaged one. They talked to Paul Tripp who said they'd send them another one, no need to exchange. Our friends wanted to know if we wanted the damaged one. What a wonderful blessing to us! Praise God he lives in our mundane little moments, as that is what our lives are made up of.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Steven enjoyed emptying stuffed animals out of the toy bin, that is, until he crawled in to grab the last toy or two and got himself stuck inside. Of course I had to snap a couple pictures before helping him get out. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Day in the Life Steven Jr.

Written from Steven Jr's point of view:

I normally wake up between 6 and 7am, although I don't know what time it is and I sometimes wake as early as 5:30am. I fuss a little and Mommy comes in with a yummy bottle of milk for me. I drink it down real fast and my eyes get heavy again. Mommy potty's me and changes my diaper. I'm so excited with a full belly, I smile at her, squeal and kick my legs when she snuggles with me before laying me back down. My Mommy normally will sew or do business stuff, but she doesn't bother me, I have my pacie and blankie and go back to sleep.

A little before 9am I wake again. This time I don't normally fuss, instead I often play and make fun noises. Mommy come in and sings "good morning" to me. I make sure to give her a big smile because I'm so happy. She potty's me and gets me ready for my bath. I never used to like baths, but recently I decided that they're pretty fun. I sit on the edge of the bathroom sink while Mommy fills it with water. I like to splash my feet in the water! Then in I go and I get all cleaned up while I play with a toy and can look at the other baby in the mirror if I want. I guess I'm not supposed to play with other stuff on the counter, because as soon as I start to think something there looks interesting, Mommy moves it out of reach.

Then I get dressed and Mommy puts me in my highchair and asks if I'm ready for "num-nums", boy am I ready! I just love to eat! I squeal and kick my legs as I try to be patient for Mommy to get my breakfast. I'm not always good at being patient, but Mommy lets me know when I'm being too noisy and need to quiet down.

After breakfast I get wiped up and go potty again. I like it when Mommy potty's me on the big potty, she tells me what a big boy I am and that makes me smile real big.

I sit on Mommy's lap while she reads a chapter of the bible to me. We're reading in Genesis right now. Quite often I like to sit nice, but sometimes I'd really like to turn the pages myself. Mommy doesn't let me and makes me sit quietly even when I don't think it's fair.

Then I play with my toys while Mommy is cleaning up breakfast and cleans the house. I tell stories to myself or sing sometimes. I like to read my books and play with my rattle-like toys and blocks. When I get done with that, I like to walk around the livingroom, holding onto furniture. I like to see what I can reach that's laying on the couch. Mommy normally comes in about then and rearranges things just out of my reach. I don't know why Daddy doesn't like it when I empty his bookbag for him? Or sort through his school papers that he's left out?

I like to follow Mommy around as she cleans, particularly if it's vaccuming day. I like the vaccum in a love/hate sort of way. I used to cry when I heard it, now I'm just so curious. Sure, if it's coming at me, I move quicker than you think a 10-month old would, but I've crawled up to it many times, you know, and touched it. It's not that scary, as long as it doesn't come at me from behind.

Sometimes I get sleepy and Mommy puts me down for a nap before lunch. I go potty and rest, then when I wake I potty again and get to eat lunch. Other times, I just play before lunch. Often Daddy comes home about now and when Mommy and I hear him put the key in the door, Mommy asks, "Who's here?!" and I know it's Daddy. I squeal and make sure to smile real big for him when he comes in. I love my Daddy lots and crawl up to him, trying to ask him how his classes went. He normally picks me up and hugs me real big, so I know they must've went well.

Lunch is at noon and I like lunch a lot, because it involves eating! Mommy started giving me food that I get to pick up and put in my mouth all by myself. I like it. I don't always get the food to my mouth, though and I get very messy. Mommy will often finish by feeding me the rest, because if I didn't get a nap earlier, I'm pretty tired after trying to feed myself lunch. I get cleaned up and take a nap around 1pm, after going potty, of course.

I wake up feeling pretty good around 3pm. I let Mommy know I'm awake by letting out a cry. I normally have to go potty and my tummy is telling me it's snack time. Mommy potty's me and gives me another yummy bottle. Then I sometimes go potty again.

I get to play with my toys again. I can crawl all over the house now. Sometimes Mommy closes some doors that she must not have realized I wanted to go through. I like to play in the bathroom and my parent's bedroom sometimes, but it seems that whenever I decide that's where I'm going, there's Mommy closing me out of those rooms. That's okay, there's plenty of other places I get go to.

I like to play in the kitchen. There's a pantry shelf that has vitamins on it. I like to call them my shakers, because they make noise when I shake them. My Mommy's pink prenatal shaker is the best because it fits just perfect in my hands. Mommy doesn't seem to like it when I pull the jars off the pantry shelf, though.

I like to open cupboards too, but I have to be careful because Mommy will make me do something else if I start taking stuff out of the cupboards. A couple times I've pinched my fingers in the door and that's when I need to snuggle with Mommy.

One of my favorite places to play when I know Mommy and Daddy aren't looking is a little shelf full of CD's, DVD's, tapes and videos. I don't know why they don't like me to pull things off and play with them. Some are shiny and I like making things fall. Too soon, though, Mommy or Daddy will tell me no and I've started to pretend that I wasn't doing anything naughty and I turn the other way. I think they know better, though.

I'm also just tall enough now that I can pull things off of Mommy's desk if they're on the very edge. I like to grab Mommy's purse or keys or the cell phone. Sometimes all I can reach are papers and they can be fun, too. Mommy normally puts an end to my reaching exercises pretty quickly though, I don't think she realizes that I'm just practicing my coordination.

Daddy is often in his room working on homework at his desk. I like to peek at him and say "hi" sometimes. On the way to go potty, sometimes I'll get a chance to give Daddy a smile.

Dinner time is at 5pm and I like dinner! I get to get messy again and a full tummy. Of course I go potty before and after dinner, but maybe you don't care about how many times I go potty. I do, because I guess most babies around here just go whenever and in their pants. I do still go in my pants sometimes, but I'm working with Mommy to try to make sure I can get to the potty in time. I don't like it when I have wet pants. Oh, but I was talking about dinner. Daddy and Mommy will often watch me while we eat. I guess they think I'm pretty cute, because they often say I am. I like to smile at Daddy and raise my eyebrows - that really gets them going.

After dinner, Mommy cleans up and Daddy pulls out the Psalter and bible. I like to sing, unless I'm too sleepy. We sing and read and pray. Lately, I'm not too interested in sitting nice and still, but my parents insist I must.

After Family Worship, I get to play again. Sometimes Mommy and I will play "I'm gonna getcha!" Mommy crawls after me and I pretend to crawl away real fast, but I turn around to make sure she's still coming. She is and so I squeal and crawl some more. She soon catches me and tickles me. Oh, I laugh and laugh. Then it's my turn and I chase her. She cries, "Don't get me!", but I know she's only playing. I crawl on Mommy and I get her real good. Daddy likes to watch and we make him laugh.

Sometimes I get read a story before bed. I get to drink another bottle of yummies around 8pm, or sometimes a little sooner if I'm really tired. Then I get pottied and dressed in jammies. Mommy prays with me and sings to me and I sleep until morning to do it all again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Steven sporting a bib I made

Wrap-around bib with arm holes
Back view with a snap in the top middle.