Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"L" is for Liam ...

We received a package in the mail today! Rachel sent us our train letter "L" painted especially for Liam. Thanks, Rachel, for taking the time to do this! We have added it to our train, which is getting kind of ... long! Rachel started this train for us years ago, and it has been fun to see it grow.
Would you like to hear some statistics about this blended family of ours? Well, we have six children, four spouses, one fiance', and 11 grandchildren (five granddaughters, six grandsons) ~ so if you include Grandpa Jones and myself, we have 24 people in this blended family ... so far ...
Interestingly, four of the last six grandchildren have been born to ... Nicolas and Rachel ... in the last four-and-a-half years! I get exhausted just thinking about that!
We have two grandchildren whose names begin with the letter "J", two with the letter "N", and two who share the letter "L" ...
We have two grandchildren who were born in August, two in November, and two born in September ... but none at all born in January, May, July or December!
However, of our married children, two celebrate anniversaries in July (and soon that will be three!), one in May, and the other in December. The only month that we have absolutely nothing going on as far as birthdays or anniversaries is ... January!
Emma Joy has the shortest name (only 7 letters), and Jeremiah Cornelius the longest (17 letters); but if you include LAST names too, Christopher James shares 22 letters (the same as Jeremiah's entire name count). How is that for random statistics?
The saddest thing that all of our beautiful grandchildren have in common is ... distance from their grandparents! Ugh! Who would have thought, years ago, that we would one day have TEN grandchildren in the state of Texas and one in Minnesota?! It's been three full years now since everyone moved away, and we are coping with it as best as we can ~ because ... there is nothing quite as nice as being grandparents. HUGS to all!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This newness of life ...

"All this newness of life is from God,
who brought us back to himself through what Christ did."
2 Corinthians 5.18

There hasn't been much news around here lately. We've settled into our usual weekly routines, and we've begun working out in our yard. Presently, the yard needs so much work that it offends my aesthetic sensibilities every time I look at it! So after I had pulled two buckets full of weeds this afternoon, I took a little jaunt in the woods ...
The contrast between life and death ... brilliant green leaves unfurling against a backdrop of months of accumulated dead leaves ...
These pictures remind me of the passage in 2 Corinthians 5: "Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live." (verse 14)
"Christ died for everyone, so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them." (verse 15)
Those who become Christians become new persons.
They are not the same anymore,
for the old life is gone.
A new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5.17

I hope you can get out and about and enjoy this beautiful time of year. I'm thankful I have the time to explore God's wonderful creation. I am always refreshed and renewed after a walk in the woods ...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Everything is blooming!

The first month of spring has been amazing in West Michigan. No matter where you go ... everything is blooming! It's downright intoxicating. And so very lovely! I don't remember a more beautiful spring ... EVER. I can't even tell you what kind of trees these are! I think I need to get a good book on the subject and study up! I drove over to church today to do some work in the children's resource room and as I went to park my car around the back of the church, these gorgeous trees BEGGED me to take their picture! Each blossom is SO detailed and intricate ... like they are hand painted ... and the color! How did God ever dream up so many beautiful things? I am praising and thanking Him today for all He has made.
I have heard all about you, LORD,
and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done ...
God's brilliant splendor fills the heavens
and the earth is filled with his praise.
What a wonderful God he is!
Habakkuk 3.2-3

Monday, April 19, 2010


Exactly TWO months ago, on this very blog (!) I announced the engagement of Dylan and Kelly ... because I was SO excited and happy about it ... but what I didn't know at the time, was that I was supposed to kind of keep it a secret until ... Kelly had her ring (oops!) ...
Thankfully, Dylan and Kelly realized that no one on this earth (practically) reads this blog, so I wasn't in any kind of serious family trouble (whew!) for this premature announcement, but I was asked NOT to make wedding comments over on Facebook, and I think I totally complied with that! By the way, Kelly has 995 friends on Facebook ~ which gives you a hint at the wonderful kind of person she is ~ she is loved by so many dear folk!
This picture (above) was stolen from Facebook ... it is their happy faces after Dylan surprised Kelly with her ring on a little beach somewhere south of Holland last night. I'm told he even got down on one knee and proposed. Which is very romantic ... especially since they have been making detailed wedding plans for the last two months! There was an heirloom ring in Kelly's family that was perhaps going to be her engagement ring, but that situation didn't work out. So Dylan picked this ring out especially for Kelly ... and so fulfilled a desire of her heart.

Kelly and I had a scheduled meeting this morning with our beautiful friend, Karen (who is throwing a bridal shower for Kelly and Dylan), so I got to see the ring for myself. My focus was all off on the close-up pictures I tried to take, but the picture at the top of this post is her actual ring.

Kelly and I drove over to Ada Park this morning with Karen and walked around the beautiful grounds there. Since there are so many out-of-town folk coming in for the wedding, we've decided to do pizza and breads and salads for the rehearsal dinner, very casually, right here at this lovely spot. It's reserved just for US!

I've so enjoyed getting to know Kelly this year. She has brought a lot of JOY into our lives. And I've never seen Dylan so happy ... and all of you who are mothers will agree ... there is nothing that matches seeing the happiness of your children!
My lover said to me,
"Rise up, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.
For the winter is past,
and the rain is over and gone.
The flowers are springing up,
and the time of singing birds has come ...
Yes! Spring is here!
Arise, my beloved, my fair one,
and come away!"
Solomon's Song 2:10-13

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The orchard ...

"You are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory."
PSALM 32.7
We have had a very early and warm spring in West Michigan. Yesterday morning I took a very purposeful drive out to Robinette's Orchard. I had driven past there earlier in the week, saw that apple trees were in full bloom, and knew that I had a small window of opportunity to get some beautiful pictures.
Robinette's is not a huge orchard by any means; but you can walk just a tiny way off the road and up the grassy avenues, and suddenly ... you enter a magical world all your own.
I was so happy to be in this quiet place, surrounded by such beauty. Last year, I had waited a few days too late for my visit. Most of the beautiful blooms had already fallen to the ground!
I'm not sure, but I think these gorgeous pink flowers are apricot blossoms. The farmer was outside pruning this side of the orchard. I wanted to take all of these cut branches home with me. It seemed such a shame to leave them laying there on the ground.
"... the godly flourish like leaves in spring ..."
For the little while that I walked among the trees, it was like I was in a little hiding place ... of quiet and peace ... no nagging worries ... no heartaches ... surrounded by the magic and loveliness of this heavenly place!
"... the godly are like trees that bear
life-giving fruit ..."


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meet "Jumpity" ...

Yesterday we had a warm, gorgeous, sunny afternoon ~ and I went outside to begin the HUGE task of cleaning up our unsightly yard. We were out of town practically the entire month of March, and then I was sick for almost two weeks once we returned home. And after that, we had family in town and it was Easter, etc. So, yesterday was one of my first opportunities to get out the rakes and try to get to the bottom of our yucky flower beds and clean up all of those dead leaves that fell late last fall.
While I was raking the big flower bed we have on the south side of the garage, I was surprised by a jumping leaf ... that turned out to be ... this toad! Isn't he ... FAT ... and completely amazing!? I captured him and put him in my yellow bucket so that I could take him for "show and tell" at our Thursday morning MOPS class. I put a bunch of leaves and mud inside the bucket so that he could make himself comfortable overnight and then kept him outside in the garage to wait for morning.
I walked into our preschool MOPS class and put the bucket on the front table and waited for the children (ages 4-6) to arrive. I knew they would be excited to have a pet come to class, but I really did NOT anticipate the absolute GLEE they demonstrated over this one small, bumpy, mud-colored creature! They loved hearing about how he had buried himself in the mud inside his bucket ... and that's where he slept ALL night! "Uck! He slept in the mud?!"
We had 10 children this morning ~ 3 boys and 7 girls. Everyone got in on the action! We have a 2.5 hour class time and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we played with this toad for a solid hour! I then walked it down the hallway to the 3-year-old class and sat down with about a dozen 3's for 10 minutes while they all touched our little friend. One of the children in the 3's class thought we really should name him and then came up with Jumpity for the name. When I brought him back to my group, we continued to dote on this little fellow ...
This is Kaden. He is six. He absolutely loved playing with Jumpity. Pretty soon, everyone was all lined up again to take a turn holding him, shaking his hands, touching his tummy, feeling his bumps ...
The squeals of laughter could be heard all the way down the hall (so I'm told). What a fun morning!

We're home now from MOPS. I've returned Jumpity to the flower bed from whence he came. Look how his colors blend in with the rocks and dirt and dead leaves ... isn't he cool?

[Toad n: any of numerous tailless leaping amphibians differing typically from the related frogs in having a shorter stockier build, rough dry warty skin, and less aquatic habits.]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More than we can imagine ...

Have you ever prayed for someone you loved for a really long time without getting an answer?

There is someone special that I know. I have been praying for her and her family for ... YEARS! She has been sad for such a long time, and in such a difficult situation. I remember to pray for her often ... because she means so much to me. We keep in touch through e-mails and very occasional (but lengthy) phone conversations. She lives far away from Grand Rapids.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from her. I had goose bumps as I read her letter! The very things I have been praying for her ... GOD IS DOING ~ AND MUCH MORE ~ and she is so thankful ... and so am I!
"Now to him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE
than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ
throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! AMEN."
Ephesians 3.20-21

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday with Emily and Jeremiah ...

Emily and Jeremiah came over for a last visit on Saturday. They are heading back to Minneapolis on Sunday, driving back with Adam, who is flying into town to retrieve his family!
So Emily and Jeremiah came over on Saturday to spend a few hours with us. We took a bunch more pictures of our little man and I've picked out just a few of them to show you.

We Skyped with Adam, who was still in Minneapolis. He walked around with his computer and showed us all of the household repairs he had done this week while he was alone. Well ... their cat, Pixie, was there to keep him company ...
We tried a Thomas the Train hat on Jeremiah. His head is a little bit too tiny still for the hat to fit him very well ... but he looks so cute in it!
I took him over to the train table to get acquainted with our train toys. He liked them very much! I blew our train whistle for him and pressed the signal lights so that he could see how much fun it will be to grow up and play with ... trains!
Jeremiah is cutting a few teeth right now, so he's been tasting everything and chewing on whatever he can ... poor little one! Our Percy engine was tasted and ... I guess he didn't taste very good!

While Jeremiah was taking his afternoon nap, Emily and I played a game of Scrabble for Me, which is what we bought Emily for her birthday. It's a variation of the old Scrabble game except everyone has their own mini-Scrabble board and you play and score the game just like regular Scrabble ... with a few interesting changes!

Our afternoon went by too quickly and then it was time for little Jeremiah and Emily to pack up their SUV and go back to Emily's family. It's been really nice to have them here in Grand Rapids this week!
They hope to come back to town for Dylan and Kelly's wedding in July ... we will miss them until then!