Thursday, December 31, 2009

Video: Happy New Year!



View video

Fun Year End Trivia

We did this two years ago, but unfortunately didn't get around to it last year. Far be it from us to drop the ball twice in a row!

Below are some random highlights and statistics from 2009, which was year three for our blog. We hope you find them interesting!

Average visits per day: 11.1

Blog posts with most comments: Full Van (14 comments), Samuel Joseph (10 comments)

E-mail subscribers: 8

Month with most posts: January 2009 and September 2009 (tie with 6 posts each month)

Month with least posts: June 2009 and July 2009 (tie with one post each month)

Most comments: Sharon and Joelle

Unique search keywords that found our blog: ebates scam (23 visits), rock zierman (17 visits), pattycake diapers (7 visits)

Technorati authority: 1

Top traffic sources: The Mitchells (578 visits), Shouts of Joy (328 visits) Facebook (244 visits)

We truly appreciate your continued readership. Please feel free to let us know what type of content you would appreciate most in 2010.

May God bless you with a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Family Christmas Letter

Dear friends and family:

This year has been an interesting one for us. By the grace of God, we walked through a very difficult situation with David's last job, and we joyfully watched God provide new work in a very bad economic climate for David and many others who stood for integrity. Though the specifics of what happened remain heart-breaking, we are truly grateful for how God has worked through the situation and in our lives. David is now back working in the Capitol building and is happy to be there.

At the same time, Christina's dad had some health issues that resulted in him having an emergency bypass surgery. He's been recovering well, but this has been a poignant reminder of how precious and fleeting life is, and how difficult it is to be so physically far away from loved ones.

On May 5, we welcomed Samuel Joseph, a whopping 8 lbs 10 ounces baby boy, into our family. He has been a delightful, sweet, joyful gift.

Eliana turned five in August and we entered the realm of parents with school-aged children (which makes us feel really old, by the way!) We're home-schooling Eliana with the assistance of a local charter school program, and we're loving the opportunity. Eliana LOVES doing her schoolwork and Mikey (4) and Danny (3) love "helping" her. It's so much fun to see them all learning in this way. Selah, who will be two in January, even exuberantly states that, "'A' says 'a, a, apple'!" Then again, she says that about "B," too.

We were able to make it out to Colorado in September to see much of Christina's family -- this was a delightful time for all, especially since the trip was a surprise for Christina's mom and we got to watch her squeal and jump up and down. One set of Christina's grandparents was there at the time, as well, and it was certainly wonderful to see them. David's sister, Danelle, came out for a visit in the beginning of November, and we really enjoyed our time with her, too.

We hope that 2009 has been a wonderful year for you, and that 2010 is an even better one!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

All our love,

David, Christina, Eliana, Michael, Daniel, Selah, Samuel, and the wee little one on the way


And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God.

Luke 1:30-35

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good News Amidst Some Rambling...

I've been thinking lately about how it is sometimes difficult to love the unknown. It's much more difficult to care about the countless hungry in the world when we don't know anyone who is hungry. It's hard to concern ourselves with all the abuses in the world when we don't see it with our own eyes. And we're often far more concerned about the relatively mundane problems we face in our own lives than we are with the far more life-damaging persecutions that people face in other countries and cultures... or even down the street in the less "safe" areas of town.

This must be why the news media is so good at giving us names and faces to pair with the horrific headlines we read. It's hard to ignore the heart-wrenching realities of child prostitution, abuse and murder when you see the adorable face of the latest victim staring at you while you read the article. This must also be why those who thrive in the abortion industry don't want their clients to see the images of life projected on an ultrasound monitor.

That's why I'm so thankful for the Bible. In it, God reveals Himself to us. He might not use pictures, but the Book creates the most amazing of tapestries for us. In it, we see His glorious, all-knowing, all-powerful nature, the masterpiece of His creation, His purity and holiness. We see human nature and its depravity, and how even those who desire to do what is right fall short of the glory of God.

We see His will for our lives, and because we cannot in ourselves come close to fulfilling it, we see the painstaking love that He showed for each of us when He sent His Son -- Jesus -- to fulfill our obligations, and to be sacrificed on our behalf, overcoming and rising from the dead so that those who are granted faith in Him might delight in His glory for all eternity.

Through the Bible, God reveals His awesome design, and through the Holy Spirit, He enables us to trust Him in this wisp of a lifetime.

David's and my lives don't necessarily look much like we thought they would seven and a half years ago when we made our vows to each other. Heck, our lives don't even look much like we thought they would a year ago. But His ways are not our ways, and I can, for one, tell you how very thankful we are for that! He, most accurately, knows better than we do. And, though we don't deserve it, He is sweet to give us abundant grace, wisdom, joy, and hope along this path He has created for us.

I am so thankful for the husband God gave me. When I made my vows to him, I didn't know the depth of the character and love this man would reveal over time. I don't deserve him, but God in His sweet kindness, love, and wisdom, gave David to me anyway. I can see a bit more of the picture now, and I can love more fully because of it.

And I am thankful for our children. We didn't plan on having "so many, so quickly," but, as we've seen more of the character of God over the years, we've been able to, more and more, trust Him in His plan for us.

As I look at each of our adorable, but far from perfect, children, I am so thankful that His ways are not our ways, and He knows better than we do. It is with this picture that He has created for us that I have full confidence that we will love and treasure this next little one, that He has planted in my womb, just as much as we love and treasure the rest. Though we don't yet have a picture or a name to attribute to this precious one, I have a picture of his or her value when I look at any of our children. We don't deserve these children, but God in His sweet kindness, love, and wisdom, gave them to us anyway. Children truly are a gift from God and we pray that we would, by the grace of God, be faithful with these gifts.

Sharing this news is always bittersweet for me, as I have dear friends who long for husbands or children, but God has not yet blessed them in this way. I ache for these beloved friends and cry out to God, that He would pour out His blessings on them. And I'm reminded that His ways are not our ways... that He knows better than I do. I don't yet see the whole picture or His plans for each of our lives, but He does.

Sharing this news, also, typically brings its share of voices of disapproval from those who love us and worry about us and want what's best for us, and who think we are having too many, too quickly. We treasure and appreciate the love expressed, even though we view this area in our lives differently than they do.

I am also quite thankful for the "cheer-leading squad" that God has placed around us. Since we don't have a common view shared by many, it is sometimes difficult to face so much disapproval. But God has been so sweet to place in our lives some strong supporters... It is a delight to share this good news with you. (One of you even beat us to this announcement with such kind words!) Your joy and excitement for us bolsters us in so many ways, and most importantly, in our gratitude and joy in the Lord.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fall Photos


Auntie Danelle visits from Minnesota and is very popular with the kids.




Eliana's self-portrait.




Mikey and Danny help out.



Daddy keeps the kids happy on mommy's weekend away.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Statement Concerning Capitol Ministries and Ralph Drollinger

UPDATE: See this news article by Capitol Weekly

In the past we have encouraged your support of Capitol Ministries. Sadly, in light of recent developments, we are now compelled to do the opposite. The following is an abridged version of a statement issued by the elders of our church:
As most of you know, over the last few months there has been a difficult and grievous situation developing with Capitol Ministries and Ralph Drollinger, President of CM. Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA (John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher), where Ralph has been a member for many years and a sent-out missionary in his work with CM, recently issued a final statement regarding their relationship with Ralph and CM. With this final statement from GCC, and because of [our] long history and relationship with Ralph and CM, we believe it appropriate to pass this information on to you.

Our intent in sharing these things is three-fold:

1. To warn you, and encourage you to warn others, that Ralph Drollinger has been determined to be biblically disqualified for spiritual leadership by the elders of his home and sending church. Inasmuch as we agree with and support the determination of the GCC elders, we believe Ralph is not to be trusted or regarded as qualified to be in a place of spiritual leadership. Because Ralph is continuing in his role as President of CM, in spite of GCC’s determination, we believe he is a deceitful and divisive danger to the body of Christ (Rom. 16:17,18; Titus 1:10,11; 3:10,11). Therefore, neither Ralph nor any ministry endeavor he presently leads should be supported financially or otherwise.”

2. To encourage you to continue praying for God to be glorified in this situation, for God’s grace to be extended to Ralph in granting repentance, and for the Gospel to continue to go forward, particularly in capitols around the country and around the world. Likewise, please continue to pray for God’s sustaining grace to be provided for those directly and indirectly impacted by this situation...

3. To give you perspective and understanding regarding why Sean, Lynne, David, and Nora were compelled to resign from their full-time work with Capitol Ministries, why Pastor Greg resigned from the Board of Directors, and why we as a church no longer support or endorse Capitol Ministries.

GCC’s final statement follows some previous statements they had given concerning the situation. Here are GCC’s statements, which have been available to any who ask:

1. From July 17, 2009 –
“The elders of Grace Community Church have agreed to temporarily suspend our affirmation of Ralph Drollinger, pending the resolution of our inquiry into allegations made against him.”
2. From Sept. 24, 2009 –

“In the summer of 2009, five of the Capitol Ministries Board of Directors resigned. These men are well known to us and we have no reason to question their wisdom, discernment, or integrity. One of those former board members, John Anderson, is a respected member of our church in good standing; the other, John Bates, is one of our elders. It is the estimation of these men that Ralph Drollinger is not biblically qualified for spiritual leadership.

“We, the Grace Community Church elders, stand behind the assessment of these former members of the Capitol Ministries Board of Directors about Ralph’s disqualification from leadership in Christian ministry. The attacks Ralph has continued to make on the character and motives of these men, as well as our elders, regrettably affirms to us this determination.”


3. From Oct. 15, 2009 (this is GCC’s final statement) –
“After much observation of and interaction with Ralph Drollinger, we, the Grace Community Church Elders, maintain that he is not biblically qualified for Christian ministry. Consequently, we do not endorse Capitol Ministries under his leadership. Ralph Drollinger no longer has any relationship with Grace Community Church.”
These statements from GCC follow a lengthy process over the last 7 months which has resulted in the following within CM:
  • 4 full-time staff of the Headquarters Office in Sacramento have resigned;
  • 2 part-time staff of the Headquarters Office in Sacramento were effectively terminated;
  • 6 of 8 Board of Directors have resigned, leaving just Ralph and his father-in-law Dan Madison (Note: the 6 who resigned did not all do so at the same time, and 2 new members were added a few weeks ago);
  • 17 of 21 full-time State Directors have resigned.
....
We...are in agreement with the assessment of the Grace Community Church elders. Consequently, we likewise no longer endorse Capitol Ministries under Ralph’s leadership.

....

P.S. The majority of former CM State Directors who have resigned have formed a new organization called
The Capitol Commission, through which they purpose to continue their ministry in state capitols. If you have previously been financially supporting CM, we encourage you to direct your gifts to this new ministry.

The Housing Boom and Bust by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell's new book titled The Housing Boom and Bust sheds light on the origins of the recent financial crisis. If you are open to considering that government intervention in the housing market may actually create more problems than it solves, this is the book for you.

Sowell begins his argument by showing that a variety of local land-use restrictions are at the root of high housing costs, which he points out aren't truly a national problem. Even so, those higher costs lead to calls for federal government intervention, ignoring the fact that often government policies (at a local level) were largely to blame for unaffordable housing in the first place.

Sowell then shows how the resulting federal affordable housing policies, championed by both Democrats and Republicans, pressured banks and other lending institutions to loosen their lending standards so more people could participate in the "dream of homeownership." Whether these people could reasonably afford to repay their loans was for the most part ignored as the resulting speculative housing bubble grew and grew.

A few excerpts to pique your interest:

The decade of the 1970s saw a rapid spread of laws and policies in California severely restricting the use of land. Often these laws and policies forbade the building of anything on vast areas of land, in the name of preserving “open space,” “saving farmland,” “protecting the environment,” “historical preservation” and other politically attractive slogans. Moreover, these restrictions were extended to more and more land over the years....

While California was different from most of the rest of the country in the extent and severity of its land use restrictions, it was not unique. The same kinds of land-use restrictions...spread through various other places around the country... But, in whatever years building restrictions were tightened in various localities, those were usually the same years in which housing prices skyrocketed....

When the political crusade for affordable housing took off and built up steam during the 1990s, the share of their incomes that Americans were spending on housing in 1998 was 17 percent, compared to 30 percent in the early 1980s. Even during the housing boom of 2005, the median home took just 22 percent of the median American income....

Statistical studies about disparities between blacks and whites in mortgage loan approval rates might be said to have “jump-started” the housing crusades that began in the 1990s. Politicians and the media led this crusade, with many community activists following in their wake, much like scavengers, able to extract large sums of money from banks and other institutions by raising claims of discrimination, whose power to delay government approval of bank mergers and other business decisions made pay-offs to these activists the only prudent course for those accused....

When you open the floodgates, you cannot tell the water where to go. Housing speculators — “flippers” — found the new and looser home mortgage rules a bonanza. So did many others. It is by no means clear that the poor or minorities came out ahead at all, after the housing boom turned to bust and many were left with mortgage payments they couldn’t meet on homes they couldn’t afford.

If you want to understand the recent housing bubble, Sowell's new book is definitely a worthy read. Still not convinced? Take a look at this recent review at Kiplingers.com.

Note: I also recommend Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller, which I blogged about earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Danny!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Danny!



And just so your baby pic won't be confused as one of Mikey... or even Sammy...






You are a gift from God... we love your twinkly eyes and mischievous giggle. We love your joyful, exhuberant hugs and your love for cuddles. (And yes, I love that as our third child, you were three days early and so far, our smallest baby by three ounces!) We love you, Sweety!





Happy Birthday!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Colorado Photos

We've added ten more photos, courtesy of Auntie Laura, to our Colorado 2009 Picasa web album. It's hard to pick, but below are a few of my favorites...







Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stop Dating the Church

I recently read a little book titled Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris and highly commend it to you. The strength of the book is not that Harris says anything that hasn't been said before, but instead that he provides an easy-to-read and concise argument for why professing believers should lay aside our independent and critical consumer mentality and instead begin to truly invest ourselves in a good local church.

Some of the most memorable and powerful words in the book are not from Harris but instead from his friends and mentors, like Pastor Mark Dever. Here's what Dever has to say on church membership:

“If you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, you may well be going to hell. I don’t mean for a second that you literally have to have your name on a membership card in a church somewhere to go to heaven. I believe in justification by faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone. At the same time, in the New Testament is seems that the local church is there to verify or falsify our claims to be Christians. The man in 1 Corinthians 5 who was sleeping with his father’s wife thought of himself as a Christian."

"I don’t care how much you cry during singing or preaching. If you do not live a life marked by love toward others, the Bible has no encouragement for you to think that you’re a Christian. None."

"Do you want to know that your new life is real? Commit yourself to a local group of saved sinners. Try to love them. Don’t just do it for three weeks. Don’t just do it for six months. Do it for years. And I think you’ll find, and others will, too, whether or not you love God. The truth will show itself."

"Joining a church won’t save you. It’s only the death of Christ that saves you. He alone is our righteousness. But if He really is our righteousness, if we really love Him whom we have not seen, it will show itself by us loving those that we do see."
Harris also provides a list of ten important questions to ask when choosing a local church. I've listed the questions below, but I encourage you to take a look at this excerpt from the book if you'd like a fuller explanation of any particular point (like question #9, for instance).
  1. Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught?

  2. Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?

  3. Is this a church in which the gospel is cherished and clearly proclaimed?

  4. Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?

  5. Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and integrity?

  6. Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word?

  7. Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?

  8. Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?

  9. Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?

  10. Is this a church I’m willing to join “as is” with enthusiasm and faith in God?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

My first words to you, soon after you made your appearance, were, "I forgive you." They were joyfully given... but weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, 10 days late, with a super-quick labor that left me no time to even be given the option for drugs, and did I tell you that you weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces? You were worth waiting for, Sweetie.


I don't usually cry after giving birth, but when the birth team announced your birth date with your birth information, I cried. We don't always know what God's plan is, but we do know that in giving you to us on the very (10 days late!) day that He did, He gave us a joyful sparkle on a day that will carry much sadness for Americans for many years to come.

We thank God for you, Mikey. You are a good kid. We love your enthusiasm for life, your love for others, and your good-natured, easy going personality. And you have slept through the night since you were two weeks old. Good kid!

We love you, Mikey.


Happy 4th Birthday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are You Equipped?

Good thoughts from Pastor Greg:
While the necessity of adequate training and preparation for effective usefulness is an inbred reality in our society, we in the church often fail to recognize the need for such training, education and preparation when it comes to spiritual matters. Believers sometimes forget that God has saved us and left us on this earth for a reason—to do something. He wants to use us to “bear fruit” for His glory (Jn. 15:8), actively pursuing the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. And in order to be effectively used by God, we simply must be “equipped” – trained, educated, prepared. Eph. 4:11,12 speaks directly to this issue:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…

The key principle here is that God has given gifted leaders to the church whom He uses to equip the saints – all believers – for the work of service (for the ability to minister and serve one another). The word translated “equip” here literally means “to set in order or to mend,” In the context of Eph. 4:12 it has to do with making someone completely adequate or sufficient for something. A form of the same word is seen in 2 Tim. 3:17, in a passage explaining why the inspiration and sufficiency of the Word of God is so profitable, “…that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

Read the full article

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Story Time

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!!




It's hard to believe that you are five years old... I know they say it happens so fast, and indeed, it did. You are such a gift from God, Little One. You have such a fiery personality and tender, compassionate heart, all wrapped into one. You have taught me so much... most recently, that it's much more traumatizing to have a child turn five than it is for one to turn thirty! We love you, Baby Girl, and we pray that you would fervently glorify the One who has gifted you with so much, and Who has gifted us with you!

Happy Birthday, Eliana!!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alice.com



I have a new love. Seriously. Most of you know how much I hate shopping. If you don't know, I'll tell you now. I hate shopping. I would buy everything online, allowing me to just shop in quick spurts when the mood strikes (and the children are otherwise occupied), but that's not always practical. And I also don't like to get ripped off, so unless it's a larger item or a book, buying stuff online doesn't usually produce the best deal.

Until now... Of course, there's always an exception to every rule, but I have to tell ya'll about this new site, Alice.com. The premise of this site is warehouse prices without the bulk and without the warehouse. Basically, it's items that you would normally buy at Walmart or Target, at even better prices (of what I've noticed -- but of course, there's always exceptions, so certainly feel free to prove me wrong). I've compared prices to Amazon Grocery, and the deals at Alice.com are much better.

And get this: they clip the coupons for you. I hate clipping coupons. I hate trying to organize them and remember what I have. I hate it when they expire and you have to clear them out. At Alice.com, I don't have to worry. They search for manufacturer coupons and add it to my already good deals automatically. Sweet.

AND -- get ready for this, Sharon -- the shipping is always free. Okay. Now you're telling me, there's no way they can have great deals AND free shipping. There has to be a catch. Well, there is -- you have to buy at least six items at a time (though they gave me, and presumably you, a first time order of less than six items to check it out). But six items can be found pretty easily and pretty cheap. And when was the last time you went to Walmart and bought less than six items? Here's the purchase I made just a bit ago:

Old Spice Invisible Solid, Original Scent $2.87 - $1.00 =$1.87
Oral-B Bubblegum, Disney Princess $2.49 - $1.00 = $1.49
Oral-B Rocket Berry, Little Einstein's $2.49 - $1.00=$1.49
Oral-B Berry Bubble, Tigger & Pooh $2.49 - $1.00 =$1.49
Shout Wipes, Instant Stain Remover $2.59 - $0.55 = $2.04
Kotex Ultra Thin Pads, Regular, Unscented $3.31 - $1.00 = $2.31

Sub-Total $16.24
Coupons - $5.55
Tax $0.94
Shipping Always Free

Total $11.63

Six items. Free Shipping. Less than 12 bucks.

They also have a great set-up for organizing the products you commonly buy, and I love the ability to search through their best deals to see what items they have good coupons for at the time (hence the reason I stocked up on the kids' toothpaste in the purchase above!)

So try it out! And use this link to set up your account, please. We'll get a handy dandy referral bonus and YOU will get a $10 credit after you have spent at least $50 at Alice.com. (Don't worry - I would have blogged about it even if I didn't get a referral bonus. I like it that much. And all the embedded links lead to the same place, so feel free to click on any one!)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Three Weeks Already...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Full Van


In honor of this picture (aren't they cute??), we've set up a handy-dandy poll on the side bar so that you, our dear readers, can help us with our next "dilemma." Weigh in now while you have a chance!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Samuel Joseph

with his friend Nathan

with Danny and Eliana

with Danny

Samuel Joseph
born May 5, 2009
8 pounds, 10 ounces
20 1/2 inches long

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Uh...Honey?" revisited

I've been thinking about this post all morning as someone (I won't mention names) made a couple comments (yes, both this morning! can you believe it?) that reminded me of the post and made me want to add these additional ideas for any husband out there with a wife. Please don't say these things to your wife. Especially if she is over-due with your child.

"Well, your belly IS getting really big..."

"Well, you DO know that your body is going to start wasting away quite quickly, anyway, now that you're 30 and all..."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Cosby Dance Revisited

It's been a year since we posted the kids dancing to The Cosby Show theme song. We thought it would be fun to see what happened if we added Selah to the mix.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Electronics Giveaway

We had a great response to our recent kitchen giveaway--now let's see if electronics are equally popular. Please leave a comment to claim an item. Free delivery to Sacramento area residents only.

Aiwa stereo (CD/dual cassette/radio).

Works great but the connection for one of the speakers needs repair.


Two 35 mm film cameras and one digital one (3.2 megapixel)



Electronic dartboard

By the way, these lamps are still available.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kitchen Stuff Giveaway

Time for some spring cleaning! The kitchen items pictured below are taking up space in our house for no reason at all, as it's been years since we've used them. One or two of them were possibly wedding gifts that we never used at all. If any of you could put any of these items to use, please leave a comment and you can have them for free. Free delivery to Sacramento area residents only.

Rival 8 Quart Roaster Oven


George Foreman Grilling Machine


Presto SaladShooter

Sunday, March 15, 2009

M&Ms, Baby Giraffe, Rain and Self-Portrait by Eliana

It's been nearly six months since Eliana's monster drawings. Not to worry, she's still putting her artistic talent to work: