Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Digital Story of the Nativity

Merry (Digital) Christmas!  Enjoy this modernized rendition of the birth of Jesus. :-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

(Front to Back) Isabel, Amariah, Abel, Elliana

(L to R) Amariah, Abel, Isabel, Elliana

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

18-Month Stats

Yesterday, I took Isabel and Elliana to their 18-month well child exams.  Here are their stats!

Isabel (18 months)
Weight:  18 lbs 8.3 oz (< 1st percentile)
Height:  30 1/4 in (10th percentile)

Elliana (18 months)
Weight:  21 lbs 13.4 oz (15th percentile)
Height:  32 1/4 in (60th percentile)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It Takes Hard Work

Just when I thought I was finally getting into an "easier" stage of life, life reminded me that each stage presents new challenges. Yesterday was yet another reminder of that truth.

It started at the chiropractor's office when Elliana pulled all of the various sizes of exam gowns off their shelves and into one big pile on the floor... and then when Isabel threw a foot-stomping fit in the lobby, lost her footing, and fell face first into a ceramic vase, cutting her lip and coming up with a with a mouth full of blood.

It continued in the Wal-Mart parking lot when, as I was loading Isabel into her car seat, I turned to find Elliana standing in the empty cart basket where I had left her, giving me visions of a tipping cart and a falling child... and again in the Hy-Vee parking lot when my sweet Amariah (who is suffering with a sinus infection) began sobbing with pain while Isabel threw another fit, Elliana again dared gravity (this time standing in the top part of the cart), and Abel yelled above the noise in a plea for silence.

Yes, yesterday morning I felt like a walking advertisement for a negligent, pulled-in-too-many-directions mom.... Not the kind of image I want my family and myself to portray....

Was it humiliating? Yes. Eye-opening? Yes.

I have come through some tough stages of motherhood, but yesterday's not-so-impressive public displays certainly didn't portray that the current one is "easy." It isn't. And it shouldn't be, because raising well-trained, happy, obedient children requires hard work.

When Isabel threw her fit in the chiropractor's office, I wasn't working hard. In fact, I was taking the easy way out, doing something that I don't even approve of--ignoring it and hoping it would go away. And what was the consequence of my laziness? She fell and got hurt. I must say that I felt I somewhat deserved the extra embarrassment that came to me, because I should have handled Isabel's naughtiness differently--or maybe I should say, handled it period....

I may be past the "hard" stage of twin infancy. And, I may be done with the "hard" stage of breastfeeding twins. But now is certainly not the time to look for "easiness." Instead, now is the time to gear up and to buckle down, because I have some hard work ahead of me. Just ask anyone who saw my advertisement yesterday.... Eek.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Family Christmas 2010

The Christmas fun has begun!

As has become a tradition in our house over the past few years, the Saturday before Christmas (or, more accurately, the Saturday before our Christmas travel) is a special day in the Squires household.  It is the day that Travis and the kids and I celebrate our family Christmas!  This past Saturday was that very special and memorable day for us.

On Saturday morning, we woke up and started our day as usual.  I got myself ready and then hit the kitchen to prepare a quick and easy but yummy breakfast of ham and egg sandwiches.  After breakfast, we dressed the kids in their Christmas outfits. turned on our Chris Tomlin Christmas CD, and gathered in front of the tree for a family picture;
a reading of the Christmas story (In the past, Travis has read to us straight from the Bible; but this year, we read this great children's book called The First Christmas by Carol Heyer.  It is a complete and accurate retelling of the Christmas story and is beautifully illustrated.); a short time of prayer; and, of course, gift opening!

Each of the kids got three gifts from Travis and me, and their excited and thankful reactions to each were enough to bring tears of happiness to my eyes.  It just feels good to give good gifts to our children, doesn't it?  And, of course, our ability to give them material blessings made me thankful once again for God's provision in our lives.

After opening gifts, I served a nice but easy lunch; and then while Isabel and Elliana took their afternoon nap, Abel and Amariah played with their new toys.  That evening, we went to Carlos O'Kelley's for dinner (A nice meal out has also become a part of our family Christmas tradition.  It's something we don't do very often, and it enables us to spend more time as a family and less time working in the kitchen.); and, afterwards, we drove around looking at Christmas lights.

Oh!  And, I'll bet you are wondering what Travis and I got each other for Christmas!  Well... we haven't really done gifts for each other over the past several years.  But, this year, we decided to get ourselves a joint gift--this Nikon Coolpix S8100 camera!  Of course, we "opened" our gift prior to Saturday so that we could familiarize ourselves with it and use it to capture Saturday's memories. :-)

And, a memorable day it was!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kids Say, vol. 9

Me (to Isabel and Elliana):  "Who pooped?"
Elliana (stepping forward):  "I."


Elliana is almost always the first of the four kids to wake up.  I know she's awake when I hear, "Iiiizaba.  Iiiizaba.  Iiiizaba."


Travis and I made the decision before our kids were ever born that we weren't going to celebrate Santa Claus.  Instead of teaching the kids to "believe in" Santa, we've always told them that Santa is just make-believe and that people like to pretend he is real just for fun.  So, in other words, we haven't attempted to "shelter" our children from Santa Claus--that would be impossible.  Instead, we have simply told them the truth about Santa from the beginning.  The other day at breakfast, I decided I ought to sing the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to the kids since they had never heard it before.  It's a cute song and a fun story, right?  After singing the song several times (repeating it at the request of Amariah), it dawned on me that although we've told the kids about Santa himself, we've never really told them about Santa's reindeer.  I began to explain about Rudolph's nose being like a red light bulb that helps Santa see up in the sky.  Then, just when I thought the kids would be somewhat awed at the mystical story of Rudolph, Abel interjected, "And who would think reindeer could fly, anyway...."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Be Someone's Miracle"

In Tuesday's post entitled "Much is Required," I mentioned a video that was played at our church's Christmas Sweet event; and since then, I have learned where to access the video in order to share it with the readers of Eternal Outlook!  The acting isn't great, but the message is.  I hope you'll take time to watch this 4 1/2-minute video that touched my heart and that played a big part in God reminding me that to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48).  (The video starts playing as soon as the page loads, so make sure to have your sound on... and a tissue in hand. :-))

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

While I Was Wrapping

I have yet to figure out how to go shopping or run other lengthier errands without a) having the kids out at mealtime (meaning we have to eat out) or b) having the kids out at nap time (meaning we have to skip naps).  Today, it was both.  Wendy's fed us lunch, and we missed naps.  But, I was okay with that because it was all in the name of... finishing my Christmas shopping!  (Note: My excitement is more about the excuse to go shopping than it is about getting done shopping. :-))

So, yes, my Christmas shopping is officially done, which also means our Christmas tree is officially complete.  As I mentioned yesterday, I like to get our presents under the tree as soon as possible.  A tree full of wrapped gifts is suspenseful, beautiful, and blessing-full; and I want my family to enjoy that for as much of the season as we can!

The fact that everything is now wrapped means that I've been spending some time... wrapping.  And, the fact that I've been spending some time wrapping means that Isabel and Elliana have been spending some time... messing....

Travis called me from work Monday afternoon; and when I answered, I asked him if he had changed the ring on my phone.  "No, but Elliana might have," came his reply.  "Why do you say that?"  I asked.  "Did you know she called me earlier?" he said.  Apparently, while I had been busy wrapping a few things that morning, Elliana had been busy changing the ring on my phone, calling Daddy, and then deleting him from my speed dial--and my phonebook, for that matter.  And the funny thing is, I never even knew my phone was missing!

When we got home from shopping this afternoon, I, of course, went straight to wrapping the new purchases.  When my phone suddenly rang from across the room, I raised my eyes to see who but Elliana holding the open phone out to me with a look on her face that resembled a cross between guilt and panic.  I took the phone from her to find my sister-in-law on the other end.  "Have you been trying to call or text me?" she asked.

Isabel and Elliana left the basement (where I was wrapping) soon after that.  I was suspect of the silence on the floor above me as I finished wrapping the last of the packages, so when I went upstairs, I did so with a slight feeling of worry at what I might find.  Sure enough, there in the middle of the living room were four or five ornaments scattered on the floor, one green bow lying abandoned next to the ripped package from which it had been torn, and two mischievous and oh-so-guilty babies sitting in the midst of it all, each preparing to open the present that lay in her lap (which just happened to be Elliana's new "house" shoes and Isabel's new "house" shoes.  Isn't it cute that they chose the two obviously identical gifts? :-))

And... just when I thought all of their sneaky deeds had been revealed, I discovered why I was suddenly feeling cold.  Some curious little finger had flipped the switch on the furnace to the off position, leaving a 64-degree indoor temperature to tell me yet another of the mischievous things Isabel and Elliana were doing while I was wrapping....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Much is Required

Minus a few Christmas presents that we have yet to purchase, all of our packages are wrapped!  Travis and the kids and I will be celebrating our family Christmas this Saturday, so I wanted to get everything neatly arranged under the tree in time to be enjoyed.  I just love the suspense and the beauty of nicely wrapped gifts displayed beneath the Christmas tree.  So, unlike some parents who wait until the last minute to wrap and reveal their kids' presents, I do so as soon as the shopping is done!
As I put the last of the wrapped gifts under our tree Monday morning, I sat back and was almost overwhelmed by the tangible evidence of blessing--and responsibility--before me.  On what the world would probably consider a pretty modest budget, we have purchased three gifts for each of our children in addition to a few things for other gift exchanges within our families; and the sum of the packages which perfectly fit under the front side of our tree looks back at me and reminds me not only that we have been given much but also that to whom much has been given much is required (Luke 12:48).

Truly, I am humbled by the fact that God has given me more than I need; and my continual confession of that serves to remind me of Travis' and my responsibility to give.  I look at our full tree this year, and I ask myself, Am I doing enough?... Considering that of me much is required, am I doing enough?

Our church played a video at Christmas Sweet Sunday night depicting a single mom who could not afford to buy even one Christmas gift for her children.  Underneath her twig of a tree sat two boxes wrapped in newspaper, each containing one toy which she had taken from a neighbor's garage sale "FREE" box.  As her two kids opened their packages on Christmas morning, she discovered that someone (those neighbors) had secretly replaced the "FREE" gifts with a video gaming system and a laptop.  Tears flowed from my eyes as I watched the depiction of both the giving and the receiving end of extreme generosity.

It is my prayer that like those neighbors in the video, I would have eyes to see the needs of people around me and a heart to obey God's call to be faithful with what He has given me (Matthew 25:14-29), to sow bountifully and to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) and sacrificially (Mark 12:41-44), and to share with the needy (Acts 2:45, Deuteronomy 15:7-8).

Indeed, God has given me much; and it is in fear and trembling and with great thankfulness that I am asking Him to show me what is required of me this Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Anything Can Happen!

This weekend brought central Iowa's first Winter storm of the season.  Normally, weather such as what we are experiencing ensures that this stay-at-home mom stays home!  But, this weekend, instead of hunkering down in our warm, cozy house, my family and me were out braving the wind and cold for the sake of... music!

As the storm blew across Iowa on Saturday and approached the Des Moines metro, I got a call from our friend Laura.  Because of the weather and advisories against travel, she and her husband had ended up with four extra tickets to Saturday night's performance of the Broadway musical Mary Poppins, which is showing in Des Moines; and, they wondered if we could use them!  With the impending weather, we weren't able to jump on the offer quite as frantically as we wanted to; but after some careful consideration, we said yes!!!  Our kind neighbors walked across the street to stay with Isabel and Elliana; and Travis, Abel, Amariah, and I got dressed up for a night out!
Needless to say, the show was every bit as wonderful as I expected it to be.  Having seen the Broadway musical The Lion King with my husband in January, I was super excited to be able to share a similarly awe-inspiring experience with our children.  I think I smiled through the whole production as I sat in continual amazement of the incredible talent before us.  We are so sincerely thankful for the generosity of both our friends and our neighbors in giving us this joyous and unforgettable Saturday evening.

Sunday night once again took us out into the bitter cold for the sake of music, this time on a much less grand--but still blessed--scale.  Our church put together its first of what we hope will be an annual Christmas celebration, an event dubbed "Christmas Sweet."  Our neighbors (the same ones who babysat Isabel and Elliana on Saturday night) attended this evening of Christmas music (and Christmas sweets--hence the name) with us, and we all had an enjoyable time.
You'll notice that the original date for Christmas Sweet was Saturday, so had it not been postponed to Sunday due to the weather, we would not have been free to take the Mary Poppins tickets!  Mary Poppins says that "anything can happen if you let it."  In this case of blizzard warnings and travel advisories, I'd have to say that anything can happen if the weather lets it! :-)

Thank you, Jeff and Laura, and thank you, Steve and Kathy, for giving us two wonderful and heart-warming experiences on two white and bone-chilling nights!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The New Do

I got a new haircut a few weeks ago, and I love it, but... it has thrown off my whole routine!

Who would think a haircut could change the course of one's day?!  Laugh at me if you will (because this maybe does sound a little ridiculous :-)), but I can assure you that my haircut has messed me up.  Suddenly I'm styling longer, serving breakfast later, schooling whenever... and it's at least in part because my new do requires a morning shampoo.

Back in August, when we first added homeschooling to our daily routine, I discovered the joys of showering at night.  I could go to bed refreshed and relaxed, and I could wake up ready to go.  My medium-length hair was long enough and heavy enough to ward off bed head, and fixing my hair for the day was almost effortless.  Cutting down on my getting ready time meant completing the breakfast routine earlier and starting school in time to be done well before lunch.

However, now that my locks aren't as long, I wake up with some seriously wild hair.  Apparently, sleeping on short hair, whether freshly washed or still containing the styling products that made it look cute during the day, is a recipe for not-so cute hair in the morning.

So... re-enter, Morning Showers and Blow Drying!  Back up, Breakfast!  Hang tight, Homeschool!  Mama's got a new do, and she hasn't quite figured out how to work it... and still work it....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Extra Grace

As much as I like to have all the answers (especially when it comes to my kids), the opportunity to realize that I don't never fails to arise.

I have taken pride in the fact that Isabel and Elliana have always gone to bed awake and put themselves to sleep quite easily (Thanks, Babywise!), rarely ever having to cry themselves to sleep... until recently.  For reasons I have yet to figure out, little Isabel has in recent weeks started crying every time I lay her down to sleep.  After determining that all her needs have been met, Travis and I have been fairly firm with her, instructing her to quit crying and to go to sleep.  And, she does.  But even after she has obeyed, I find myself still searching for possible reasons for her tears.  (Like I said, I like to have all the answers when it comes to my kids....) :-)

Last night, it was Elliana who threw me for a loop.  Both she and Isabel had gone to bed right on time with no complaints.  But after several minutes had passed, Elliana started crying.  This being unusual, I went in to check on her, discovered no reason for her crying, tucked her back in, and left.  Another several minutes later, her crying resumed; and, again I went in to quiet her.  We went through this cycle several times in the span of the following hour until finally, still seeing no obvious reason for her crying, I decided to do something that I never do.  I got her out of bed.

As I sat and rocked my sweet Elliana who was plastering herself to my chest and so obviously relishing in every ounce of my affection, I reflected on the joy of being able to extend grace to my children.  While for their own sakes I have guarded against them taking advantage of that motherly grace (You know the saying.... "Give him an inch, he'll take a mile."...), sometimes it just feels good to say, "You know what?  You should be sleeping, and I can see no reason why you aren't, but just this once I'm going to show you a little extra grace."

Isn't that what we all need sometimes?  A little extra grace?...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Contentment at Christmastime

Last night, Travis and I (with kids in tow) went to Toys 'R' Us to take out another chunk of our Christmas shopping.  As we were driving through the parking lot looking for a place to park, Abel, knowing our expectations of him, said, "Mommy, I'm just going to pray before we go in the store."  "Okay," I said. "I think that's a great idea."  (Abel) "Dear God, please help me to not beg for stuff in the store because we already have a lot of stuff, and Mommy and Daddy already bought me some stuff.  In Jesus, amen."

Needless to say, I was extremely blessed and encouraged by my son's example.  He (1) acknowledged his many blessings, (2) knew the importance of being content, (3) recognized his need for help in being content, and (4) sought help from God.

The fact is, my four year-old took a couple steps that some of us adults have probably failed to take.  On Black Friday one of my Facebook friends posted this as his status:  "Fourth Thursday in November - Everyone remembers what he has and gives thanks.  Fourth Friday in November - Everyone remembers what he doesn't have and awakes early to go get it."  Isn't that just so true of the average American?  We are thankful for what we have, but we still want more.  We never get as far as Abel did.  We acknowledge our many blessings, but we don't acknowledge our potential (or maybe even actual) lack of contentment.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:13a that we should pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."  In other words, we should recognize our weaknesses and pray for spiritual protection from temptations before those temptations ever arise!  Who can think of a greater temptation to be discontent than the one facing a little boy going into a huge toy store at Christmastime?

Like Abel, we all face temptations that threaten our contentment, at least as much at Christmastime as any other time of the year.  As we go about the business of making wish lists and fulfilling wish lists this Christmas, let us not only remember to be thankful for what we already have; but let us also recognize our need for God's help in the midst of it all.

As you and I seek a place of contentment during this season which can so easily become more about stuff than it is about a Savior, let us reflect on God's words and seek His help.
"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
"Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'" (Luke 12:15)
"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Practical Wish List

I said yesterday that I love giving good gifts, but I can't deny that I enjoy receiving them, too.  I do have a little Christmas wish list of my own put together; and like the lists of many other wives and mothers out there, mine is comprised largely of kitchen items.  I always feel badly about taking money from our monthly budget to purchase various kitchen and household gadgets even when they would truly help me to accomplish my work with more efficiency and better results.  And so... I often delay the purchase of these items, putting them on my Christmas wish list instead of on my monthly shopping list.

One such item is this 6.5 quart Crock-Pot Slow Cooker.
The 4 quart Crock-Pot that I've had since before Travis and I were married just doesn't always hold enough food for our family of six.  In fact, the last several times I've used it, I've had to get inventive with aluminum foil to create a makeshift lid for the over-full cooker.  A bigger Crock-Pot would definitely be a welcome addition to my kitchen cupboards.

Another kitchen item of mine that truly needs to be replaced is my one (warped, lidless, and scratched) non-stick frying pan which I inherited from Travis' college bachelor kitchen.  For health reasons, I'm not a big fan of non-stick pans (which is why I use Emeril's Stainless Steel with Copper cookware), but there are one or two dishes in my menu plans for which I really need that non-stick surface.  I haven't done much research on non-stick pans; but since I'm familiar with Emerilware (Remember my tendency towards brand loyalty?), this non-stick saute pan from Emeril's Hard Anodized line has also made my Christmas list.

The third (and fourth--I need two! :-)) and final kitchen item on my Christmas wish list is this Medium Bar Pan from Pampered Chef's stoneware collection.
Over this past year of learning to bake my own breads, I have discovered that stoneware is the only way to go.  I own two stoneware loaf pans and one of these stoneware bar pans, and I would love to add a couple more to my collection in order to accommodate some of the breads I make.

So, that's what's on the "practical" portion of my Christmas wish list.  Now tell me, what's on yours?...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giving Good Gifts

One of my favorite things about Christmas is giving.  Receiving is fun, I can't deny... but giving results in even greater happiness.  As Jesus said, "'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).

Travis and I did some of our Christmas shopping for our kids over the weekend, and we had such a great time selecting and purchasing things that we knew would bring joy to their sweet little hearts and faces.  In our happy endeavor to give "good gifts," I was reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 7:7-11.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"
In the hustle and bustle of giving and receiving this Christmas, I want to remember the Giver--He who gives what is good to those who ask Him and who gave His life to give me mine.  The Heavenly Father has given me more than I could ever think to ask for, more than I could ever hope to deserve.
"[F]or today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Friday, December 3, 2010


The world has a lot to say about peace, especially at Christmas time.  We talk about, sing about, and even desire peace; but unless we know Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7), we know very little of peace.

What the world doesn't recognize is this, that true peace is found only in Jesus.  For, Jesus gives us a peace that the world doesn't know and can't offer:  peace with God (John 14:27).  It is only through Jesus that we who have been justified by faith have peace with God (Romans 5:1).  We can hope for and work for peace in this world... [and we should.  God's Word tells us to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14); and it also tells us that God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).  Therefore, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are ambassadors for Christ, sent forth into the world by God to declare peace:  "Be reconciled to God!"]... but where a relationship with Jesus Christ is absent, the ultimate peace will not be known.

As Christ's ambassador, I implore you:  Be reconciled to God!  If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the peace of God is not yours.  The Bible says that "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).  Jesus came as a baby, lived as a man, and died as a sinner so that we might have peace with God.  May this truth--and this peace--be very real to you this Christmas season, and may you know the greatest gift of all--the gift of salvation.
"Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!" (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Thursday, December 2, 2010


For us, the Thanksgiving holiday came to a close on Monday at about 4:30 p.m. when we arrived home after the seven-hour drive from my parents' house; and, the Christmas holiday began at about 6:30 p.m. that same night when we began putting up our Christmas tree!

Putting up the tree is exciting in our house, not only because we are ushering in the Christmas season and reflecting on all that it stands for, but also because we get to reminisce as we do so.  You see, many of the ornaments on our Christmas tree are far more than mere decorations.  They are symbols of occasions that are very dear to our hearts.

This ornament always gets the most prominent place on our tree, for it symbolizes He whom Christmas is all about.  This cross was given to me by Travis' maternal grandmother early in Travis and my relationship and is among the most special of the ornaments on our tree.

Travis and I purchased this bridal Mickey and Minnie Mouse ornament while in Orlando, Florida, on our honeymoon, and it is quite possibly the most cherished ornament on our tree.

Travis' parents gave us this "Our 1st Christmas" ornament on our first Christmas as a married couple.  It becomes more special to us with each year that passes.

This ornament, picturing a 3-month old Abel, commemorates his first Christmas.  Even though the years are flying by, the wonderful memory of his babyhood is preserved here on our tree.

This ornament commemorates Amariah's first Christmas.  She is growing up quickly, but the sweet memory of our first baby girl is preserved here on our tree.

This "Home for Christmas" ornament was given to Travis and I by our church on the first Christmas following the loss of our baby, Ande Lynn, who went home to be with Jesus before we ever had the opportunity to meet him or her.  This is the one ornament on our tree that sparks much emotion in me--both the feeling of sadness and loss for the sweet baby whom we will always miss, and the feeling of joy and excitement at the reality that we, too, will one day be "Home" where Ande is already.

Travis and I purchased this ornament in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a souvenir of our first (and, so far, only) family vacation; and we look forward to doing the same with any future family vacations.

This ornament commemorates Isabel's first Christmas.  She is growing up quickly, but the treasured memory of her fleeting babyhood is preserved here on our tree.

This ornament commemorates Elliana's first Christmas.  She is growing up quickly, but the treasured memory of her fleeting babyhood is preserved here on our tree.

Christmas is a time when hearts are filled with joy like no other time of the year.  What better place to remember and celebrate the many joys in our lives than here at the tree where we remember and celebrate our ultimate joy--the birth of Jesus our Savior.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I wrote an article on hope for our church's Advent devotional, and I thought I'd share it here on Eternal Outlook on the same day that it is being shared with our church body....

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." (Titus 2:11-13)
If ever there is a passage of Scripture that captures and summarizes what it means to live as one who has hope, this is it.  I know as well as anyone that the pressures and the temptations of this life are enough to make a person short-sighted.  In America, where life is easy and comfort is king, we so often fail to look past the present.  We succumb to choosing an earthly and instant gratification instead of stopping to consider eternity; and in doing so, we have forgotten to consider Jesus--and the hope that we have in Him.  Jesus, in His life, death, and resurrection--Jesus, in His anticipated return--is our only hope for salvation and eternal life.  1 Peter 1:3-4a says,
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away."
Because of what Jesus did in His first coming--died and rose again--salvation has been made available to all who will believe.  Although we are saved the instant we put our faith in Jesus Christ, our salvation will not be fully realized until the appearing of Jesus at His Second Coming.  This, the completion of our salvation at the return of our great God and Savior, is our "inheritance" and our "blessed hope."

Since Jesus is coming again at an hour you do not know, "what sort of [person] ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness" (2 Peter 3:11b)?  Are you living in such a way that reflects the hope that you have in Jesus Christ?

God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die that I might live; and thank You for the hope that I have as I look for His return.  Please continue to work in me as I strive to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age while looking to the age to come.

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