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Friday, April 19, 2013

Baby number two is a.....

Our Thursday was quite a day for surprises!

For the first part of the day, we carried on as usual....

But then, Elyse went to hang out with a friend whom she loves and Andrew and I went to the doctors... find out.... 

Elyse was going to be a big sister to a....



... haha, but honestly, if she really knew what was coming, I am sure Elyse's reaction will look something like this:


It was quite exciting because we actually had them fill out a card and NOT tell us during the ultrasound.
We both had bets for what it would be...
And for a first against Andrew, I WON!

Now we have some some pictures of the little guy for you.

(It is wild the technology they displayed for us: 3D--yikes!)

Truthfully, I was a little afraid to see baby like this at 19 weeks... in 3D. 
It turned out to be too cool to be too freaked out :)

He's waving hello!

Here's a better picture of him turning and waving.
Friendly little guy:

Well, that's all I got for now!

Except a name for this guy....

Right now, all we have been able to agree on is:

Ezra, Eytan, Liam, Levi, Braxton and Hudson.

Any opinions??

I am not the best at boy names truthfully, so this is so hard for both Andrew and I.

God bless! Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Living in the State of Amazing Grace

After waking up today at 5:30am to a quiet home and a dawn rising on the highway towards the gym, a good 15 minute swim and warmer temperatures rising, our snow finally melting and streets become visible again, I feel summer is starting to shine brightly in my life, peaking just around the corner!

This is my view from the porch, 7:30 am.

It's an exciting time in the life of an Alaskan: 22-23 hours of sunlight, a booming fishing season, outdoor hiking/biking, RVing around the Alaskan country, continual activities for all ages and neighborhoods riveting in community again after a long winter break from one another. Life gets busier here.... but this kind of busy is way different than your routine's usual busyness: its Alaskan styled!

We too have been feeling the busyness of the coming summer upon us... and other things too, like making room for another baby, deciding what we want to do for our last year here, where we are going next year.....


Speaking of swimming and family fun, Elyse has been LOVING the water! We signed her up for swim lessons, so hopefully we will see our little swimming fish learn to actually swim here soon! Here's to hoping ;)

In other news: we have almost come to our two and a half year mark in Alaska, which means our thoughts now need to shift to where will go to after Alaska. Assignment number two is around the corner and there has been much mulling over options: considering the impact of our choices on our family, trying to consider the proximity of our potential base choices to the accessibility of our family, weighing the busyness of base itself (in terms of Andrew's travel time and work load) and exploring what kind of community/schooling the area has to offer (yes, we have to consider that now! YIKES!). These have all been the breakfast/lunch/dinner/random-phone-call-that-sparked-from-new-trains-of-thought-on-the-matter topics of conversation for both of us since Andrew has been home from his travels. We want to make the right choice so badly.... but the reality is we know we can only choose so much.

Many of you know how the military works, others of you might need a refresher. Well here you go: Every three to four years, the military transfers you to another base to serve at. You don't know what bases are available or what options are actually opened to choosing until you are at least six months out from being sent there (though the going trend up here lately has been people leave way before they hit three year mark). For us, I am sure we will hit three years here. And at this point, I am glad as I want all the time we can have here in Alaska before we move elsewhere.

Recently, Andrew got an email stating that our time to start thinking about the next assignment was here... so it seems we have-- and done so continually. Yet through it all, I feel so much at peace to really worry one way or another about it.

In fact, God has given me so much a peace in my heart it seems nothing will move me. After Alaska, everything seems like a piece of cake! I guess that's why seasoned residents up here claim Alaskans are hardier people. I think God might have sent me up here for that reason: I needed to toughen up a bit... and it has definitely worked!

Here's an example of hardiness in progress: the 1.5 feet of snow we got overnight! Andrew was gone, so after some youtube tutorials, I was able to fire up the snow blower myself and get to work!

Look at all that snow!!!

Here's a before and after on our porch:

Surviving and THRIVING!

Any way we choose, I can look back and see God's faithfulness to our family as He sent us out here to the Northern parts of the earth: He has shown us unconditional support, given us wonderful friends and relationships to challenge and grow us, and shown us how much he is taking care of us through every unpleasant circumstance we have faced. As St. Augustine stated: "The pleasures of human life men acquire by difficulties." After living through some of my own, I can testify to the truth in this statement. I think I am happier/more content now than I have been in my entire life. Not because things are easy, no--that will never be the means to true joy-- but because of the peace His promise for my life provides:"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup.."--Psalm 16:5

I am particularly encouraged by the passage in Deuteronomy 8, where Moses speaks to God's chosen ones:

"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart... He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread along, but every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord... Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you... For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land-- a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and the hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing." -- Deut. 8:2-3,5,7-9

What great lessons I have learned through all the perceived deserts of my life: God has never ceased to take care of us in amazing ways, growing and stretching us into images of His song, through the good and the bad; through the tough and the smooth. It's all the process He chooses to give our lives a richness that will never stop overflowing with true joy. The good land is still to come... but we have a promise that it will be better than all the pit stops we try to settle into here on earth. Praise you Jesus for the opportunities to carry our crosses. 

To end my posting, I will quote Elizabeth Elliott once more (she's such a rock of faith!) :

"Life is absurd--on the surface of things--but every bit of it is planned, as Paul goes on to say: 'It is for your sake that all things are ordered, so that, as the abounding grace of God is shared by more and more, the greater may be the chorus of thanksgiving that ascends to the glory of God,'-- 2 Corinthians 4:15"

Yes, our lives have a living hope that is intentional for each one of us to become more like the person God intends us to be, whatever path we are on... and that includes all the different places we may encounter as well.

So as Andrew and I ask what is the best place to raise a family, we can now answer in the words of Ann Voskamp:

Blessings-- XOXO!

(Stay tuned for hopeful baby number two gender revealing later this week!!)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An Enemy of the Faith: Prosperity

Did I dare say it? Yes I did.

I am not stating this to say we have become poor and now we are finding our faith comes easy, nor am I making this statement to condemn those of us who have riches and comforts... I am saying this to bring forth the truths of the dangerous lies our world can trick us into believing will bring security, happiness and true meaningfulness. 

All lies.

The only promise that will give our life security, stability and depth are the ones God gives us in his scriptures.

Like Romans 8:28:

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes."

This is where we never be blown over, becoming the freest, strongest and most generous people the world has ever known.

Matthew 5:16: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven"

And yes, the promise says 'all things'.

Sufferings included. 

James 1:2-3: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Don't get me wrong: I don't like to suffer, to feel trapped, uncomfortable and stretched to my limit. It's not enjoyable... but according to His promise, it brings the most joy: the testing of our faith produces endurance...through trails, BECAUSE of trials.

Sure, none of this was God's perfect plan for us, but we have chosen it as a result of the choice in the garden, and so many poor choices after that. However, in Christ, we are told that now instead of loathing the trials that will come as a result of the fall, we should instead chose to see them as instruments of grace.... in a sense. Hear me out:

We are all running the race. However, I am easily inclined to stop throughout the races to sniff flowers.. and forget about the race all together. Yet in my luring away, another runner knocks me over and I lose my desire for roses altogether as I realize the race is still on, and only those who finish get the prize! It was by his grace I was knocked down, though it hurt and didn't feel good at all, and now I am back on track to see what is really worth fighting for.

"If through losing what the world prizes we are enabled to gain what it despises--treasures in heaven, invisible and incorruptible-- isn't it worth any kind of suffering? What is it worth to us to learn a little bit more of what the Cross means-- life out of death, the transformation of earth's losses and heartbreaks and tragedies?

Poverty has not been my experience, but God has allowed in the lives of each of us some sort of loss, the withdrawal of something we valued, in order that we may learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, to allow the touch of death on one more thing we have clinged so tightly, and thus know fullness and freedom and joy that much sooner. We're not naturally inclined to love God and seek His kingdom. Trouble may help to incline us-- that is, it may tip us over, put some pressure on us, lean us in the right direction." -- Elizabeth Elliott 

I can directly relate with the second paragraph of her wise words, as I have not suffered in the way of monetary losses, but of comforts and pleasures of familiarity as I seek to depend on God in the Last Frontier.

It's not an easy race we run, but we can be sure it's full of the most joys.

"If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next."-- Elizabeth Elliott

-- <3 --="" div="">

The Disney Pictures

As promised :)

No, these are not in order, but it was the best I could do to collect the ones I liked best and post them here for you to see just how much fun Elyse had on her first visit to Disney World!


Too much fun with Grandpa!

Did I mention she had a blast?

Memories that will last a life time.

Thanks for sending all 798 pictures, mom.