Sunday, July 31, 2011

Leo Lund

The newest Lund:  Leo.
He is Aidan's new bestie.
Leo and his new mommy.

Yesterday Aidan and I arrived home after a two week vacation (thus the reason for my neglected blog).  On one of our many ventures, we stayed in Duluth with my parents for a vacation-from-our-vacation.  My mom took the hotel lobby newspaper (yes, she did ask the front desk) and noticed an ad for goldendoodles in the classifieds.  I've been lusting after and online shopping for a goldendoodle puppy for months now and this doodle deal was too good to pass up.  We called on the way home: three males left.  Brian was at a conference in Cleveland so I spent the next two days trying to convince him of why now was the time for a puppy.  He wasn't easily convinced - at all.  By the time he finally agreed, there was only one puppy left.
 We went to Backus, MN to look at the litter and I fell in love!  They were exactly what I'd been looking for.  Deposit paid.  Two more days until we could bring our little man home.
Yesterday, July 30, we picked up our new addition at a rest-stop in St. Cloud.  I was so thankful to my parents for grabbing Wendy's so we could have a picnic lunch.
Then Uncle Andy wanted to meet his newest nephew so he met us in Maple Grove.  Thank you, Andy!
Leo is such an excellent puppy.  In the 30 hours we've owned him, he hasn't had a single mess in the house and slept nearly all through the night!  But more importantly, he has been incredibly good with Aidan.  Leo is so gentle and listens well when we tell him not to lick Aidan.  He doesn't try to chew on A, only on Brian and me!  Leo also enjoys watching Aidan from afar.  Aidan laughs and laughs and laughs at Leo when he plays tug-of-war, walks beside him, or chases his tail.
 (Excuse the ugly chairs - we have bible study here and, I'm ashamed to say, they haven't been put away from last time.)  Leo likes the cars Aidan received from Aunty Laurie.
 Filling up the wagon!
Helping Aidan refill his Nerf gun.  Well, not really...
We're thankful to the LORD for our new little puppy.  He is very sweet and we pray that he is a blessing to our family for many, many years.

On a different, yet related note, I have to tell you how wonderful our church family was to us while we were gone.  Four women from church hoed, weeded, picked, and watered my garden (and that is no easy task!).  It looked like a park.  My spinach had gone to seed so they even dug that out.  Wow - I was so overwhelmed by their kindness and love for us.  Then Mary, my quilter friend, dropped off baby gates and a kennel for Leo to stay in.  She also is, just this week, filling in the duck pond (poor ducks) at her farm (aka Country Threads Quilt Shop) to build a dog park and, eventually, doggie hotel.  She made me promise that if we ever go away and can't take Leo along, that we let him stay with her and her 4 dogs and 17 cats.  How kind of her!  Leo would have an absolute blast at her house.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Zion women who take such good care of us!  We love you!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A's Swimming Lessons

Last May, I signed Aidan up for "Mommy & Me" swimming lessons at the local aquatic park.  I was really looking forward to it, especially because my mother-in-law had told me about how much she enjoyed swimming lessons with Brian when he was a baby.
However, as the day grew nearer and (I perceived) that water grew colder (I'd prefer to be a beached whale), I decided that it should be "Daddy & Me" swimming lessons.  (Don't worry, the real title was "Parent & Child" lessons.)  Brian is so great; he looked forward to swimming with Aidan.

 Aidan and his friend, Linley, (with her dad, Joe) pick up rings as lessons begin.

 "Got one, Daddy!"
 "The people on the bus go up and down, up and down..."

Aidan did an excellent job at his lessons!  He liked the water, but he wasn't too sure about lying on his back or blowing bubbles.  He especially didn't like the sun in his eyes (but whips off his sunhat).  Last week, we were at my parent's cabin in northern MN and then in Duluth for a few days.  After many times of "swimming" in the lake, Aidan is much more comfortable in the water.  He loves to splash, eat sand, put rocks in his bucket, and float in his bee floaty if Mama or Dada hold onto it.  I'm so glad we have a water lover!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Formula for Happiness

Happiness.  It's what everyone desires, right?  We are always on a quest for it, as if it's to be found around the next corner, in the next purchase, in the move across the States, in the new relationship.  Unfortunately, the American dream will not bring true happiness.  In fact, nothing will bring true happiness apart from Christ himself.

Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16: 24-25

Denying ourselves is counter-cultural.  It goes against everything in our beings.  That's why it must be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who enables us, through Christ, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ (Matt. 16: 24).  The LORD has recently been using these verses in my life as I seek to find my happiness in Him, not in the things of this world:
1. Deny himself - Lay aside my wants & desires (those are many!)
2. Take up his cross - Bear the difficulties of today with His help; pursue Christ (not my own happiness)  
3. Follow him - Be obedient to God's Word & His will for my life

God promises that we will be perfectly satisfied if our hope & desires lie in Christ alone.  Lord, make that true in our lives!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: True North

True North: Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life is a Christian Living book written by Gary Heim & Lisa Heim.  Whether our frustrations in life are big (such as cancer, death of a child, or a paralyzing car accident) or small (flat tire when you're already late for work, a toddler who doesn't sleep through the night, or an annoying colleague), the authors use God's Word to encourage readers to "Go North" toward God during those difficult times.  What is the other option?  "Going South" to the gods of grumbling & grasping which lead to bitterness, anxiety, anger, etc.

The book is organized clearly and effectively.  It begins with where we are: life is difficult!  But, through its frustrations, God is passionately pursuing the hearts of believers.  Part II discusses the responses of grumbling & grasping that take us South.  Instead of going South, turn North like Part III lays out.  The alliterative titles continue with "G" in grace, a great gift, gratitude, and giving as attitudes that will take us North to God.  Lastly, the authors encourage their readers to "Get It", "Grow It," and "Give It Away" in Part IV.  The 'G' theme is appealing and aids in reminding believers how to reorient their lives to God by showing them how to cling to Him when life is difficult.

Through many interesting and helpful examples from their counseling experiences or their own marriage, as well as the sinful people saved by faith in Christ of Scripture, the authors encourage readers with the truth that God has a purpose for the frustrations of life.  They are used by God to pursue us, His children, into a deeper relationship with Him.

Going South
"His [Jesus'] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." II Peter 1:3
All our needs are met in Christ, as stated by the authors through II Peter 1:3, but we still grumble against the frustrations given to us in life.  Then we grasp for control.  Gary ever so helpfully identifies five ways we try to control our circumstances and brings to light all the lies that are beneath our grasping.  Identifying these encourages believers to put them death, trusting Christ instead of their own willpower.  I found this extremely helpful as the authors helped me identify areas in my own life that are taking me south to grumbling and grasping.

Going North
Once you have identified the frustrations in life that easily take you South, the Heims use God's truths from His Word to reorient their readers North.  They tell of God's amazing grace, through Jesus Christ, and encourage readers to rest in Him alone.
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him."  Ps. 62:5
Through this amazing grace, we have a great gift (title of chapter 7): a new life in Christ (II Cor. 5:17-18)!  With this new life, we are free to respond to God in gratitude (chapter 8).  Gray writes, "The heart of a surrendered life knows a core of peace and contentment in God and whatever he chooses to provide, even if the storms of life continue," (p. 158). 

I have been a Christian nearly my whole life, but the authors worded things in a unique, eye-opening way that was sweet to my soul.  For example, "Could anything have been more hopeless and discouraging than to see your Messiah die naked and bloodied beyond recognition on a criminal's cross?  Yet Jesus' death was the very means through which God was rescuing the world.  When we doubt God cares or that he's in control, we must remember that we do not see as God sees," (p. 136).  Often times, as in this case, sentences hit me in a powerful & encouraging way.

I enjoyed everything about this book until chapter 9 (Giving) thru the end (You-Turn section of "Getting It", "Growing It," and "Giving It Away: Mentoring Others").  At this point, the focus shifted from God to man.  It was here that their theology and mine parted ways.  This surprised me because I didn't find that in the beginning.  For example, Lisa discusses the need to "give back to God" (p. 179).   Contrastingly, the parable of the unworthy servant drives home the point that we aren't to try to give back to God (Luke 17:7-10).  Paul summarizes, "The God who made the world, and Lord of heaven and not served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything," (Acts 17:24-25).  Finally, Jesus doesn't command us to give back to God.  He came to serve us, not to be served by us (Mark 10:45).

Lisa also says that if we are bearing fruit, "Jesus informs us that we may come to him and ask for anything we want and it will be granted," (p. 179).  There is no Scripture reference for that comment.  She might be referring to John 15:16 or 16:23.  However, that verse isn't a blank check!  Truly, as image bearers of God, we were made to be in communion with Him; therefore, what we really ought to ask for (and what will be granted) is anything that will give us more of Him.

Another example of poor theology appears on pages 212-213.  Gary quotes Jeremiah 17:3:
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."
While he is correct in saying that in Christ we have a new heart, I disagree with him on when we receive that new heart.  Yes, Christ's righteousness is imputed into the hearts of believers, but that doesn't change everything about  It's true that we are new creations (II Cor. 5), but that doesn't mean that the old sinful ways are totally gone (Romans 7).  Our hearts can still be wicked and deceitful!

Positively, in the last section, the authors do encourage church attendance, accountability amongst believers (men to men, women to women) and a time devoted daily to prayer & bible reading.  I also found the self-examination and discussion questions to be helpful, particularly if this were done in a small group setting.

I would recommend this book to all believers who struggle with the frustrations in life that so easily bog us down.  It was helpful to me.  But be careful regarding its theology; by knowing God's Word you can find the truths of Christ to guide you through life's difficulties.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A's First Birthday Party

Aidan & Mommy getting ready for the big party!

On Saturday we invited some family and friends over to celebrate Aidan's first birthday!  I was super excited because I'd spent the last month or so preparing and making things for his party.  My inspiration came from (OK, so I totally just copied her) the amazingly creative Jess at The Macs (see my favorite blogs on the right).  It was a lot of fun to prepare for and even more fun to participate in!

We included a paper in the invitation asking friends to write a note to Aidan that we placed in a time capsule for him to open on his 18th birthday.  
 With my new sewing machine (yay!), I sewed circles of scrapbook paper together to make garland.  So easy!  The photoprop centerpieces are all on this table (pre-party) because it was so windy.  I don't think I got a good picture of them actually on the tables.  Bummer.
 Aidan's one year timeline.

 We had Orange Crush to match, but it was so hot, we had to keep them cool!  The blue cooler doesn't really go with the theme...oops!
Our little one year old - slightly overwhelmed by all the fun he is having!

 Aidan enjoyed his cupcake very much!

 Auntie Christie & Uncle Alex serving root beer floats!  Yum!
We used the photoprops to take pictures of each family that came.
 All the kids wanted to help Aidan open his gifts.  They were such good helpers!

Daddy & his favorite birthday boy.
 Aidan was way more interested in the crayon than he was the candle.

We were so blessed by all the family and friends that came to celebrate Aidan's special day with us.  Our families were wonderful, as always, and helped so much.  They set up, cleaned up, and worked throughout the party to make sure it went without a hitch.  Thank you, family!  Our friends made it so much fun.  And to think that we didn't even know them a year ago.  God has richly blessed us in them.  We are so grateful and thankful.
A's party was such a joyous celebration - one that we will remember for years to come!

Grandpa Chuck rode his motorcycle down for A's birthday!  He even stayed two days to spend extra time with Aidan and allow Mommy & Daddy to go out...TWICE!
 Aidan enjoyed sitting on Grandpa's motorcycle.  As soon as he's old enough, I'm sure he'll be excited to go for a ride!
Thanks, Grandpa!  We love you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

7:11 AM

One year ago today, at 7:11 am, we met our sweet little man.  He was born at 39 weeks via C-section (the only way to go!) weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces.  As we cherished our new bundle, we had no idea how he'd steal our hearts, how we wouldn't be able to imagine life without him, or how we'd be immensely blessed by God's gift to us in Aidan.  God is so good and today our hearts are full as we celebrate our favorite little guy.

This is our Aidan one year later:
And our family:
Mommy loves her birthday boy oh so much!!
Happy Birthday, Aidan!  We thank God for you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Year Ago Today

On our way to the hospital...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life Lately

The last week or so has been such a blessing and very refreshing to us as we've been able to take two mini vacations.  Monday - Wednesday of last week, Brian's family treated us to a trip to Lanesboro.  We had so much fun.  Not only did Aidan love sharing an ice cream cone with Daddy, he had the opportunity to ride behind our bikes for 20 miles!  Yes, we all had very sore bottoms by the end of the day.  Lanesboro is such a beautiful little tourist town nestled in the bluffs of southeastern MN.  The bike riding was gorgeous along the countryside of farmland (yes, mooing cute cows too!), golf courses, and limestone bluffs.  The guys also got to tube down the Root River while the girls chatted and enabled Aidan to get a much needed nap.  
 Aidan with Grammie & Grandpa Lund
We also shopped at some cute stores and ate some yummy meals.  One of my favorite restaurants is along the river - I love to eat out on the patio!  Aidan enjoyed it too...with Grammie.  We are so thankful for such a wonderful trip!  Thanks, Lunds!

One evening last week, a fellow ministry family in town came over for supper.  The kiddos had a lot of fun in the pool.  Aidan couldn't get over all the action, as he's usually the loneranger in his pool...he wasn't so sure about all the splashing!
The boys.

My garden is really growing!  I don't weed it nearly as often as I should.  My goal is once a week (after all, that hoeing is good for me!) but, we've been gone so much, I haven't gotten to it as much as I'd like.  I need to be cutting and cleaning my lettuce so I can give it away.  Let me know if you'd like some!

Brian snapped this pretty picture of the church.  It's our view from our yard!  We heart summer.

So I am terrible at taking pictures - not only is my skill level null (still haven't finished reading Nikon d3000 for Dummies), but I just don't carry it with me like I should.  Needless to say, my Fourth of July pictures are essentially nonexistent, but here are a few:
Aidan & Uncle Alex
We spent two days boating, jet-skiing, playing Croquet and enjoying family.  We were even able to sneak up to the nursing home to greet Aidan's great grandpa Lund.
We hope you had a blessed Fourth!  Praise God for the freedoms that we not only have in Christ, but also as Americans.