Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Pumpkin!

October, even for those who don't celebrate Halloween, is the Month of Pumpkins. Iain is completely fascinated with them. He says, "We like those. God made them."

So in honor of the pumpkins, we made some! (Phyllis, this is the long-overdue craft post I promised!) I found this fun activity here. We made three: one for Miss Judy down the street, one for Grammy when we visited her, and one for us. Meanwhile, Cory played with a pumpkin-colored balloon from Publix.

The pumpkins are just paper bags with the corners poked in, stuffed with some crumpled paper, and painted orange. Then we tied curly ribbon on them for vines. Fun!

And to continue with our theme, Nona came with the boys and me to the pumpkin patch at the Methodist church nearby. My goodness, we took a lot of pictures! It's hard to get two squirmy boys to hold still and smile when there are pumpkins to be drummed on, hay bales to climb, and gourds to feel.

As I was scrolling through the pictures and listening to the Beatles, I had to laugh - the out-takes and crazy shots were so funny! So I'm going to try to make a slideshow set to music for your viewing pleasure. Here's a teaser:

I love fall!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Among the Tombs

“When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.”
(Luke 8:27-37 ESV)

The townspeople were used to this crazy, demon-possessed man living among their tombs. They were familiar with his shrieking, his lack of clothing, his astounding strength. They had a plan: when the demons seized him, they called in the guards and tied him down. Yes, he broke loose, but then he'd go off into the desert for a while. The system seemed to be working for them.

Nevermind the fact that this man was tormented, that he had legions of demons inside of him. The people were used to his pain. Maybe they felt no fear because they were so used to the evil.

But then, Jesus. He delivered this man, caused the demons to inhabit pigs. The man put on clothes. He was sane again. He sat at his Savior's feet, whole and complete and no longer tormented. And this, this scared the people. They had become so used to, so numb to the evil that the power of God and the lack of evil in their midst scared them. Jesus scared them. So they asked him to leave, and He did.

This sounds familiar to me; our society is so warped, so used to evil in all its many forms, that it's the good - the holy, the pure, the righteous, in short: God - that scares us. It's so far from the norm for us that it makes us uncomfortable, and we ask to be left alone. And so, in many ways, we are.

It makes me think of Halloween coming up. The holiday devoted to evil has become familiar to us; we have made it into family fun and we have made the scary things in the world into part of the game.

And let's make it personal, too: in what parts of my life have I allowed the evil or the ungodly to become the norm? What parts of my life have I chosen to allow to remain among the tombs because it's what I'm used to? What parts would the Lord like to touch, to change, to transform if only I would ask Him? Do I fear the unfamiliar holy more than the familiar evil? Do you?

Lord, let us be like the delivered man in this story, choosing to venture out with You into the unknown and holy, leaving behind the familiar evil. Let us never allow our fear to get the better of us, to cause us to ask You to leave us alone. May we always choose You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And More Gifts

(Iain, imitating Raffi, sings into his "microphone.")

33. The joy of the Lord, and His peace, and His rest, and, and, and....
34. a cool day today
35. Iain did a little better in nursery this morning
36. a good sermon that made me think (and is still making me think)
37. I made a new friend this week!
38. Jesus promises that His yoke is easy and His burden light
39. water, in general :)
40. my home - it's easy to get bogged down in the repairs, etc that older homes need. But it's a cozy little place and we are thankful for it!
41. the boys' naptime
42. pressed leaves
43. hearing Iain talk to Cory
44. Cory's funny, hoarse little grunt (wheeze?) of a laugh

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Call to Prayer

This is an excerpt of a letter that is being sent around various prayer groups. I feel like its message is important enough to post here. Again, the purpose of me posting political things is not to offend, but to inform and in some cases, persuade. This letter was written by Dutch Sheets. I know it's long, but please read it!

Dear Praying Friend,

In 2000, I wrote the 2nd most important letter of my life—a call to prayer for the elections of that year. I’m now writing what may be my most important letter. I knew the importance of those elections in 2000 was beyond any in my life up to that point and that the spiritual warfare surrounding them would be unlike anything any of us had ever seen. That letter was read by millions of people and I believe millions of them responded by praying. I also believe the prayers turned the tide.

You may question whether President Bush was the right choice; obviously, he has made some blunders in his tenure as president. But two of his decisions alone left no doubt he was God’s choice: Roberts and Alito.

These two Supreme Court Justices have proven critical in the process of breaking the hold of humanism, death and anti-God agendas that have ruled the Court for 50 years. I assure you that more devastation—the shedding of innocent blood, immorality, decay of the family and an erosion of our godly heritage—has flowed into our nation through that institution than any other door in America. Many times more. The poison allowed into America through their decisions is beyond any of our abilities to articulate. The reality in America is that you don’t need to control Congress or the White House to rule the nation. You only need 5 people – 5 out of 9 on the Supreme Court. And for decades those who disagree with just about everything you and I stand for have been in control!

In Bush’s two terms, the process of turning this around began with the appointments of Roberts and Alito. Now, we win some cases 5-4 and lose some 4-5. (We barely outlawed partial birth abortion. The vote of one judge saved thousands of babies from this horror.) We need one more conservative Justice for a consistent majority, then more to build a strong majority.

In Obama’s own words, “the next president will appoint at least one, perhaps two or more Supreme Court Justices.” He’s right. Almost certainly two or more older, liberal Justices are waiting until after the elections to retire, in hopes of Obama winning and appointing more liberals to replace them. And he certainly would. He voted against the confirmation of Roberts and Alito. So did Biden. And Biden led the fight against Justice Thomas several years back, another of the 4 solid conservatives. Make no mistake about it, the two of them do have a litmus test for Supreme Court Justices, and a major part of that test is Roe vs. Wade. McCain and Palin, on the other hand, both have very strong pro-life positions. This alone makes the choice for President simple. To vote for the 2nd and 3rd most liberal senators (Obama and Biden), both of whom are firmly and blatantly pro-abortion, would be unconscionable.

Obama has actually said that if he wins, he would like his first action as president to be the signing of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate every other law against any aspect of abortion (partial birth abortion, parental notification, etc., etc.). And with a democratic majority in the House and Senate, pretty much any legislation he and Biden want to pass will be a slam-dunk. There are many other unrighteous positions they hold but this position alone makes the choice easy. If they win this election, it will set America back decades in the cause of life and the restoration we seek.

Just as many of you do, I too, want to see a first black President, but not Senator Obama. To allow that noble and godly desire, the economy or one’s position on the war to trump this issue of life and death for the innocent unborn is simply wrong. The scriptures teach that if we choose first to exalt righteousness and turn from evil, God promises to heal our land (see Proverbs 14:34; 2 Chronicles 7:14). It is righteousness that exalts a nation, not wealth, prosperity or armies. If we will finish the process of removing the curses of death and anti-God laws off of America by electing a president that will continue to shift the Court, God will grace us with breakthrough in other areas such as the economy, the war against terrorism, etc. My faith is not in a person, and certainly not a political party, for the healing of America, but I know God’s word and His ways well enough to know that our decisions do move Him to action or inaction. Now to the heart of my reason for writing this letter (I realize I am “preaching to the choir”—most of you who know or listen to me are conservative enough to vote for McCain and Palin.)

I have not written any appeals for prayer concerning this election because:
1) others have, and
2) I believe our movement has matured to the point that the prayer base of the Church is already praying.

But I now feel the need to raise my voice. I am appealing to you to pray for these elections the next two weeks like you’ve never prayed for any in the past. Faithfully. Passionately. Boldly. Ask God for His mercy and grace. We deserve His judgment for removing His influence and authority from our government, schools, homes and businesses; for the killing of 50 million babies; for leading the world in the consumption and exporting of pornography; for passing laws to reject His; etc. But mercy triumphs over judgment and in His wrath He remembers mercy. In 2000 we actually lost the popular vote and won the election—talk about grace! Please pray for this grace to be released again....

I am in Washington, D.C. now (October 20-22) with Lou Engle and a team of prayer leaders from around the nation to war for this election. Join us! Lose some sleep, miss some meals— pray! Pray like never before for these elections.... Release Christ’s Kingdom rule in every way the Holy Spirit leads you.

Don’t be deceived and don’t lose hope (if you have to, turn off the TV.) It is not too late to turn these elections. God is plenty powerful enough to do so.... And remember, we don’t need a majority of Christians who are willing and able to do this—only a praying remnant. We can do it!

Here are some practical suggestions to consider:

1) Fast (a meal a day; a day a week; a Daniel fast; 3 days; 10 days; TV; etc.) and spend the time praying.
2) Agree in prayer with someone everyday for God’s will to be done.
3) Form/participate in prayer groups regularly. Churches could pray every day.
4) Take time in every gathering to pray. (Take 15 minutes in every service to pray for the elections. Turn an entire service to harp and
bowl style intercession—worship and prayer combined.)
5) Join 2 or more on a conference call and pray for 15, 20, or 30 minutes.
6) Pray on the way to work and on the way home.
7) Pray before you go to sleep.
8) Pray before church services.
9) Ask God to give you His strategy — He will!

In His grip,
Dutch Sheets

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mid-Week Gifts

18. play-dough and the minutes it affords me while Caiden and Iain play.
19. cool-ish weather
20. our small group that met here last night
21. peanut butter cookies with hershey's kisses on top
22. Cory learned how to give hugs
23. a good book to sink my teeth into
24. I get to play with flowers again, for Kristin's wedding in a few weeks
25. really good sermons by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, on my ipod while I do dishes at night
26. baby laughs
27. Yesterday, Iain plowed Cory down (again), and before I could say anything to him, he put his arm around Cory and said sweetly, "Cory, I'm sorry that I knocked you down."
28. Iain singing, especially when he sings Big Rock Candy Mountain
29. story time at the library (that deserves a post all its own!)
30. double strollers
31. Cory is learning to drink water by himself!
32. Jeremiah 31:12 "...and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD... their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Four Years!

On October 9, we celebrated our fourth anniversary. We've made it a tradition to go on a trip every year, but this year was a bit tricky with the two little guys. Solution? We went to Jeremy's parents' house for the weekend. They watched the boys so we could go out and enjoy some time together.

First, four years in review:

The Big Day: (we went to Scotland for our honeymoon - the first trip - but all my pictures are on paper, not digital.)

Our first anniversary: Charleston, SC

Our second anniversary (two weeks after Iain was born): Cedar Key, FL

Our third anniversary (I was six and a half months pregnant with Cory): Savannah, GA

Our fourth anniversary: Sarasota, FL (we should have taken a family photo there, eh?)

And some more pictures. Anniversary gifts:
From me:

From Jeremy:

From Jeremy's dad: (this is his car's sunroof; we got to drive it - the car, not the sunroof - all weekend. I really enjoyed it - the sunroof, not the car. Well, okay, the car, too. I give up!)

From the Creator:

While we were out, Iain spent most of his time doing this:

And Cory, whom I don't have a picture of, but who I promise was there, mostly crawled, chewed on things, and looked cute.

On to year five!

Natural Light

...makes for great colors in photos! Best ones of the morning:

The weather is beautiful today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That Iain

My goodness, he is funny. Just now at lunch, for no reason at all:

Iain (nodding): Oh, we have a rope.
Me: What?
Iain (still nodding): Oh, we have a tractor, though.
Me: We do?
Iain (the nodding continues): And a spider, too.

There is a song that Pooh sings that goes a-like this:
Up-down, touch the ground,
Puts me in the mood,
Up-down, touch the ground,
In the mood for food.

Iain's version goes like so - and again, who knows why?:
Up-down, touch the ground,
Puts in me the moon,
Up-down, touch the ground,
In the mood for nuts.

And another song: the real words are "oats, peas, beans, and barley grow." Iain knows those words, and will sometimes sing them. But more often, he sings the words he made up. I like them better: "Oatsy, beansy, bonzy, bo."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sticks and Stones

Overheard, at a PLAYGROUND! I am not making this up.

Now, now, no running. (what!?! On the playground?!)
Don't get dirty.
Use your inside voice. (Hello!! You are OUTSIDE!!)
No playing with sticks. Put that down.

Where have we gone wrong?

If I remember rightly, playing in the dirt, running, yelling, and playing with sticks are all birthrights of childhood. Oh my, we have become a weird, sanitized society when we can't even let our children do these things in the designated areas for doing these things! We've already fenced in and padded these playgrounds - which, I admit, is sometimes necessary because around the blissfully playing children lie highways with cars speeding past - and now we don't let the kids run? Use your inside voice? You've got to be kidding.

I understand having rules: don't hit your kid brother on the head with rocks. Don't poke each other in the eye. No rocks in the house where babies could eat them. But really, don't play with sticks? Don't throw sticks into bushes? (Iain asks me if he can do this every time we go to a specific park where he heard another mother telling her boys not to do it. I always say yes. Of course you can throw sticks into bushes!)

People always say that if you don't let your boys play with guns, they'll play with sticks like they were guns. What if you don't let them play with sticks? Will they pretend their crayons are sticks?

It just seems so crazy to me to not let your kid play with sticks and rocks. What else did God make them for?

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Monologue

Yesterday, Iain started a monologue. He still hasn't stopped.

Here's how it went:

Iain, to bear: I want to change you. I'm going to change you. You're a stiiiiiinky boy. I'm going to change you. Stay right there so I can change you. I want to change you. You want to wear the silly pants. (note: his questions sound more like statements, as he hasn't quite mastered inflections yet. Also note: most of the questions required a reply - he was often asking ME, instead of the bear. Later, he'll ask Cory, as you'll see.)

Iain, still to bear: You want to take a baf (bath). I will take you a baf (rather than GIVE you a bath). I will take you a baf. You want to take a baf. (Iain heads for the bathroom. I intercept.)

Me: You can't use the REAL bathtub. How about this pretend bathtub? (handing him a basket. He finds it satisfactory.)

Iain: I will take you a baf in the pretend baftub. I will take you a baf. You want a baf. Is it a good deal. Is it a good deal. Is it a good deal. (this question requires me to say, ad nauseum, yes, it is a good deal. Yes, give the bear a bath. AAARGGGG! Meanwhile, I am trying to cook dinner.)

Finally, mercifully, Iain moves on to Cory: I will take him a baf. (referring still, to the bear, but talking to Cory, who is sitting in his highchair watching. Why Cory had to agree that yes, it was a good deal in order for Iain to get on with bathing the darn bear is beyond me.) Is it a good deal. Cory says yes. Cory says yes. Is it a good deal. Cory says yes.

Cory watches, only slightly amused. I am relieved that I can stop answering.

Iain: I want to take him a baf. Cory says yes..... (finally, I can take no more of the monologue and say, okay Iain, give the bear a bath then. Iain puts the bear in the basket, washes him briefly with a paper towel, pulls him out. I think he may be finished. But no.)

Iain: I gave him a baf. Cory says yes. Is it a good deal.

Seriously, this went on for about two hours. Nonstop. And this morning? Oh yes. It started again.

Note to Iain's future wife: I hope you're a good listener, because this guy likes to talk.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"We Found Aldi!"

That's what Iain kept yelling when we pulled into the Aldi parking lot. Oh yes, we found Aldi.

I tend to do most of my grocery shopping on one mega-trip a month. I still do the odd run here and there for produce or bread, but the rest I get at one time - mostly because I really dislike Wal-Mart, and because it's such a hassle to shop with the little guys.

So today, Nan suggested I try the new kid on the block: Aldi. I had been eyeing them for a while, because the frugal household management blogs recommend them almost without fail. Last time I checked (a few months ago), there were none in our area. But... drumroll please... now there is one about five miles away. It opened - get this - three days ago!

So today's only goal for the morning was to get this crazy run done. I decided to give Aldi a shot. But first, a little research (hey, when you're only going once a month, it pays to be prepared!). I looked up reviews on the chain and found that people either loved it or hated it: five stars or one. ONE person gave it three.

So here's my review, if you care to read.


I loved the layout. Aldi is set up in a smaller space than most grocery stores, meaning that the shelves are chock-full, but you don't walk as far. In fact, I think there were only five or six short aisles. Makes shopping so much faster!

It's a B Y O Bag store. If you don't bring a bag, you can buy some from them. I like that - encouraging cloth bags and cutting down on cost.

Speaking of cost, Aldi's plan to cut costs is brilliant, and very much like Ikea's ideas. That is, you do everything yourself that you can do yourself. You bag your own groceries. You bring your own bags. You return your own shopping cart to the front (more on that later). This means they hire fewer people and use fewer things like bags, which saves them money, which saves you money. I'd rather do it myself than pay for someone else to do it, especially if they don't do a great job (have you ever had anyone not bag your stuff the way you like? So do it yourself!).

Because the store is small, Aldi also saves money and energy, and they keep freezer/refrigerator stuff behind glass to improve energy efficiency there, too. Smart.

Another way Aldi cuts cost is by carrying pretty much just their own brand of things. With few exceptions. Don't know yet if this is good or bad, as we haven't eaten what I bought today....

Through the selection is limited (I got about 70% of my needed goods there), Aldi tends to keep mostly what moves on the shelves. Meaning the normal items, the ones that you generally want, will be there. Things like eggplant? Nope.


Because of the limited selection, I did end up hitting Wal-Mart too. I think now that I know what Aldi has, I could just do it and Publix and skip the big W altogether.

The stupid cart thing. You have to put a quarter in to get a cart, and when you return it, you get your quarter back. This is so people will bring the carts back to the front, rather than letting them get damaged in parking lots or having an employee gather them up. Okay, good idea. EXCEPT when you have two little guys and a cart full of groceries. I saw one mom booking it back to the front of the store from the parking lot, while her kids waited in the car. I didn't want to do that, so I brought the cart to the car, put the groceries in, walked back to the store with the kiddos still in the cart, got my quarter, and went back to the car with the boys. Will I walk an extra time from car to store for a quarter? You bet. Will I like it? No way.


I think over half of the people in Aldi with me today were homeschoolers. If you were one or are one, you know you can spot them. I would have bet you my cart-quarter on any one of those families.


Overall, I did save money at Aldi. I spent $65 on what I'm guessing would have been at least $80 at Wal-Mart. For example: Aldi dry milk is 5.99 for 8 quarts, whereas at Wal-Mart, it costs 6.34 for 5 quarts. Aldi's eggs are about 0.03 cheaper than Wal-Mart eggs. Aldi produce is cheaper, if you can find what you want (tomatoes, apples, onions, etc.).


I have to join the five-star crowd. Aldi wins!