Thursday, August 30, 2012

Birthday Boy

Dad can still decorate a cute cake!
 Although Seth was able to celebrate his birthday with cousins at Big Sand, we saved his gifts from us and Grandpa and Grandma B. to open on his birthday.  I realized his birthday gifts were full of "Bs":  Bible, Blue Psalter, Bike, Blanket, Boy Barbie.  Legos from Grandpa and Grandma just don't quite fit in the "B" theme, but he let us know last night when he went to bed that the Lego gift was just a little bit above the rest of the presents.  Legos always seem to win at this house!

Ever since he slept with that soft, cozy blanket at Grandpa and Grandma B's house, Seth has asked for one of his own.  I was thrilled to find one at the Meijer outlet store!

Seth loves to sing and it is not unusual for us to hear him singing the words out of the Psalter book to his own tune.  He was excited to have his very own.  Also, we knew he needed a new bike, but after pricing them realized that it probably would not happen.  Russ thought maybe we could just stop at the Salvation Army and see what they had.  Lo and behold, they had only one bike--a cute little Trek Mountain Cub just Seth's size.  And the price was right, too!  Seth never knew it was a used bike until the 11 year old neighbor deemed it necessary to inform him that it must not be new because it had some rust on the rims.  Grrrr.  Although Seth asked about whether it was new or if somebody else had it first he, thankfully, didn't seem that concerned and loves his "new" bike. 

PRTS Conference

Last weekend the seminary hosted their annual conference; this one on the person and work of God the Father.   Russ and I and the two older boys took turns attending the sessions which ran from Thursday evening until noon on Saturday.  I was able to hear a message by Dr. Beeke and Derek Thomas as well as the Q/A session.  I can highly recommend all of those which can be listened to on  We were able to host Pastor Hakim from Harvest PCA in Orange City (where we are still members), his two oldest children, and two additional PCA pastor friends of Pastor James.  We enjoyed visiting with them and discussing what we had heard in the messages.  (Sometimes late into the evening:).   Next year the conference is on Christian Living and appears to be quite practical in nature.   If you are interested in attending and need a place to stay...we are only 15 minutes from Calvin College's Prince Conference Center! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whitecaps Game

Thanks to the library reading program we again had free tickets to a Whitecaps baseball game.  We took advantage of those tickets last night and enjoyed an absolutely beautiful night at the ballpark. The Whitecaps won 6-5 on a walk-off home run in the 9th.  Many people left after the 8th inning when the Caps didn't capitalize on having runners in scoring position (bases loaded with one out).   They should have stayed for the exciting finish because as you know, "it's never over until the fat lady sings!"

The promotion for the night was "Dime Dogs" so we were able to feed the family hot dogs for $1.60!  (I'll let you figure out how many hot dogs our family ate).  They announced during the 7th inning that they sold 12,265 hot dogs.  Not being a hot dog lover, I actually find that a little disturbing.  

Seth took these pictures of Franky
Seth also took the first two pictures and I think Caleb took the one of Seth.  I had no control over my camera last night!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

May I Recommend a Devotional for Kids?

This is not a new devotional so maybe you are already have it and have worked through it.  We decided to take a break from the Jim Cromarty devotional as it could get a little lengthy and was usually too difficult for Seth and sometimes even the girls to understand.   We picked this one up instead for our table devotions and have been very happy with it.  The devotionals are short but packed with meaty theological and practical issues with great examples and word pictures that make what can be a difficult concept easy to understand.  Here are a few of my favorite nuggets from Nancy on various topics (so far...we are only on March 26): 

Holy Living: "Some people think that because God is so generous with grace, holy living is optional..."

God's Wrath:  "God's anger shows us how serious his love is."

Being a Good Person:  "If you see yourself as a basically good person who may have made a mistake or two--if you are a person who deep down believes that God is lucky to have someone like you on his team--you are saying that you really don't need a Savior."

Our Motives:  "When we agree with God's opinion of our efforts to be good--that they're all useless, all tainted with bad motives--we come to God and live before other people empty handed, with nothing good of our own to offer.  And God gives us his own goodness."

God's Standards:  "And while it might seem fair and reasonable to us that God could simply lower his standards to allow for a little sin, a little humanness, to do so would make him less than God."

Tests and Trials:  "When God puts us to the test, he is giving us the opportunity to experience and demonstrate what it is like to live out our faith in him" (Like taking a car for a test drive--not pass or fail--but demonstrating how it operates)

How we spend our time:  "God has given us a great deal of freedom in what we feed our schedules and our souls.  Are you filling up on the junk of the world or working up a big appetite for God?"

God creating something out of nothing:  "It means that God can create faith where there is none in our hearts and minds..."

A continued desire to experience God:  "We lose out when we settle for only what we've experienced of God so far."  Like finding out there is chocolate cake for dessert after we have just said "I can't eat another bite!"

Being God's masterpiece:  "You are a masterpiece, not like a Mona Lisa, which hangs in a museum behind thick glass.  You are like a Stradivarius violin, whose true beauty and value are seen and experienced in its usefulness--especially when it is used by a Master."

Thinking about dying:  "It forces us to remember what Christ has done for us on the cross, and it builds our confidence in his victory over eternal death."

Repenting:  "The most godly people you know are godly not because they never sin.  They are godly because they are quick to repent."

Fairness:  "In a completely fair world, there is no room for grace--receiving what you don't deserve."

Meekness:  "Meekness is strength under control"

Prayer:  Prayer is about a two-way conversation with God, not about wearing him down to get what we want.  Asking, seeking, and knocking have little to do with getting what we want from God and everything to do with enjoying the Spirit in our lives."

And I love the January 16 devotion on Examine Yourself (examining ourselves for true faith), March 24, A Deposit to Your Account (an illustration on faith as a channel to receive the righteousness of Christ) and the follow-up on March 25, God Picks Up Your Tab (continued illustration on the imputation of Christ's righteousness and payment of our debt.)

The only negative of the devotional is the lack of index on topics or Scripture verses.  If you ever think, "How did Nancy explain that or what illustration did she use?" and want to go back to check it out you are forced to page through the entire devotional.   So, if you don't have this devotional and are looking for a new one to use with kids I highly recommend this one (for whatever my opinion is worth!)

Friday, August 10, 2012

FRC Family Camp 2012

The Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church Family Camp took place this past week at Camp Michawana with the theme "The Tie that Binds."  Russ gave the first message on Tuesday evening entitled, "My Brother's Keeper (and Sister's too)" which dealt with relationships between church members focusing on love and what love really looks like from 1 Corinthians 13.  Dr. Beeke gave both messages on Wednesday, "Lessons for Marriage" and "Lessons for Child-Rearing."  He gave us principles from the Puritans and their writings as the foundation for these two talks.  Russ gave the Thursday morning talk on "Soul-Mate Friendships."  Using the friendship of David and Jonathan as well as Jesus' interaction with his disciples and nuggets from the Proverbs, Russ gave us a good picture of what soul-mate friendship looks like and why this type of friendship is important.    Mark Kelderman finished out the camp talks with a session entitled "The Essential Union," explaining what it means to have Christ's Spirit and to be complete in Christ.

The chapel taken from the dining hall

Many of the cabins again from the dining hall

 The morning talks were followed by a time of discussion for the adults and older children.   During this time the younger kids (4-11) either had an organized game time or craft time.    Afternoons were always free.  The beach was open and/or you could sign up for various activities.   A campfire was lit each evening for smores (except the last night because of rain) and the older kids (11+) enjoyed a time of group games in the dining room while the adults visited.

All the kids received a coupon for a free ice cream cone
 We had a great time at camp getting to know the members of the FRC better and just enjoying the camp atmosphere.  The church family had two casualties--a broken ankle and a broken clavicle--one on the water trampoline and the other on the slip and slide, but other than that a safe week.  One of my favorite connections of the week came from a youngish mother of five who told me I looked somewhat familiar.  As we talked I realized I babysat her and her sister back when I was in eighth grade and their dad was one of my teachers at the NRC school.    Yes, I did feel just a little old...

I think Caleb just put grass in Nicolas' ear or something.  Note poor Jeff with the broken ankle:(

Here are a few photos of our activities:


Climbing Wall

Made it to the top!

Mini golf


Zip Line

Even Seth insisted on doing the zip line.  He was pretty scared at the first step off, but enjoyed the rest of the way down.  I didn't get any pictures of him because, well, I went with him:)

High ropes course

Yes, the kids signed Russ and I up with the encouragement of the FRC family.  I haven't had that much adrenaline for a long time!

Caleb and Nicolas went as a team.  Knowing Nicolas' fear of heights I was surprised that he participated.  He was glad he did it, but doesn't need to do it again!

Since I couldn't be two places at once, I missed pictures of archery and hay rides.    As we left on Friday morning it was nice to know I still had happy campers!

Monday, August 6, 2012


 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, 
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, 
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
                                                    Psalm 147:10-11 (ESV)

Dr. Murray used these verses for his text yesterday morning.  What a great reminder as we enjoy the Olympics! 

Well, nothing beats the Big Sand Blues better than being busy. (How do you like that alliteration?:) We started off with a bang on Monday: picked up Seth's glasses, drove an hour for dental appts for all five kids (left with a recommendation for an orthodontist consult for Anna), and then home just in time for swim lessons for the youngest three.   We have been going to the YMCA for lessons and all three have good teachers.  Anna is a natural swimmer and it was fun to see her excited about swimming as she watched the Olympics last week.  We asked if joining a swim team would be something she would enjoy and she emphatically answered, "NO!"  She enjoys swimming, but does not like competition. 

Tuesday was mow the lawn, figure out what is eating our tomatoes (squirrels), finish up the laundry, and go to the library day.  Russ and I were invited to a Whitecaps game by our neighbors across the street that evening and enjoyed a beautiful evening at the ballpark with them.  They are a Christian family (attend the East Leonard CRC where we have BSF) and have girls in college and high school and then one little boy that is 4 1/2. 

I worked about 30 hours Wed-Sat so the rest of the week is a blur...not really.  We celebrated Lydia's birthday after swim lessons on Wednesday night with Russ' homemade pizza and dessert pizza.  Lydia really wanted four berry pie, but since I was working I asked her if I could make it for Sunday dessert instead.   After work on Friday we did a little shopping and snagged some $10 jeans at Old Navy as well as some school supply specials at Meijer.

The birthday girl with her goofy brother

Caleb had his athletic physical Saturday morning and Russ was able to get him there and back before I headed to work at 9:00.  Just as I was finishing up my last notes at work a little before 5:00 I received a phone call from Russ that he was stranded in the Meijer parking lot as his Honda wouldn't start.   I quickly finished up at work and when I pulled up at Meijer to pick him up Russ was already on the phone with AAA to have the car towed to the garage we usually go to (it is really close to our house and is owned by a man who attends the FRC).    Thankfully, it was in the five mile tow limit that our AAA membership allows.   When the tow truck arrived and started loading the Honda a middle aged, nicely dressed man asked Russ if that was his car.  Russ affirmed that it was and then the man pressed a $100 bill in his hand and walked away.   We are again amazed at the different ways God chooses to take care of us.

Russ has been working on his two talks for the FRC Family Camp which begins tomorrow and goes through Friday morning.     The other speakers are Dr. Beeke and Mark Kelderman.  Pastor Al Martin was supposed to give one of the talks but he is having health problems so Mark Kelderman agreed to fill in at the last minute.    So, we leave tomorrow morning after violin and cello lessons for Camp Michawana which is about an hour away.   More about camp later this week!

P.S.  As I write this Caleb's quartet is practicing in the homeschool room for a wedding this coming weekend.  What a treat to listen to all that great string music!