Monday, January 31, 2011


When Annike's hair starts getting fluffy, we know it is time for her to get a bath.

I have to admit that we are rather lax in the bathing department, and usually bathe her when we can't remember the last time she had a bath, or her hair starts getting big.  Kids don't really smell the same way that adults do when they don't shower. 

I am pretty sure I only took a bath once a week all through my childhood, and I turned out just fine.  Bath night for us was the night before church, and that did not change until I entered Junior High.  This is probably because Junior High is the age when kids start to smell. 

Christian would still like to bathe once a week if he could get away with it. 

I love polling people about their bath habits with their children because everyone does it a little differently.  Most Americans are daily bath givers, but the rest of the world doesn't do it that way.  You might expect underdeveloped countries to downplay the importance of the bath because of water issues or an underdeveloped understanding of hygiene.  But most European countries have plenty of water, an excellent understanding of health, and are not particularly regular in the area of bathing.  Does it matter in the long run?

Post-bath warm-up by the fire, complete with munching on an apple.

If only we were as compulsive about giving our hearts a cleansing as we are about our bodies.  The Bible  makes it pretty clear that we are made clean through matters of the heart and not our external appearance.  Maybe a more appropriate poll to take would be to ask how often people sincerely work at scrubbing clean the dirty areas of their insides.  Or how regular people are at preventing a build-up of the filth that clutters the heart... things like bitterness, lack of forgiveness, judgement, slander, hatred, arrogance, jealousy,... among other ugliness that can easily go unnoticed by others, but gradually corrodes away our internal beauty.

Fortunately, we don't have to choose between external and internal cleanliness. We can have both! So what's my excuse for keeping an irregular bath schedule? Well, let's just say we are hoping Annike recognizes that greater emphasis is being put on developing her sense of internal cleanliness.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'"  1 Samuel 16:7

Sunday, January 23, 2011

what a zoo

At times I am struck by the awesome creativity of our Creator. Most recently on our first visit to the zoo with Annike. There are many excellent artists in our community, but I don't believe one of them could design animals with such function and fashion in so many different forms.


These odd-looking things are the largest rodent in the world. It is hard to tell from the picture, but they are the size of large dogs. How would you like to have that living in your kitchen pantry?

God's majestic creativity, represented here in animals of all sizes each designed beautifully in their own way.  Even more amazing to me is how adaptable God's creatures were created, given the ability to physically change in order to better survive.  Each animal's unique look is part of it's beauty at the same time as being a part of its purpose and livelihood. 

We, too, were formed with such thoughtfulness and artistic flare.  Designed as individuals, set apart for a specific purpose.  We were given the amazing gift of adaptability, allowing us to survive in a turbulent, stressful, sometimes evil world.  At the same time, making that survival a great part of our beauty.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."  Isaiah 40:28

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


When we moved to this farm, Christian said it was because he wanted a new project to work on, but I know the truth. He wanted an excuse to buy a tractor.

Despite his ulterior motives, he and Annike sure looked cute together when we took a family "walk" around the property.  By family walk, I mean that Annike and Christian rode while I ran along beside them.

Surprisingly, Annike was really into wearing the ear muffs.  It is worth mentioning that she had a full blown temper tantrum when I put the sweatshirt on over her favorite penguin pajamas. The very same pajamas she has been wearing for two days straight because I am avoiding further temper tantrums when at all possible. Ear muffs? No problem. Can someone please give me the map key for reading this child?!

I suppose we all have our fettishes. Christian and his tractor, Annike and her pjs, and me ...well, I am not sure I want to be that transparent right now.

Sometimes it seems like a hassle to embrace someone else's fettishes.  In reality, it is those very same oddities that keep life interesting.  Loving people includes loving the ways they are different, not just ways they are the same.

There was room for three on the way home. Having no one else around, we captured the photo via timer while the camera balanced on a tree branch. Definitely not one of our better family photos, but all the same, a great family memory!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Resolution: a formal expression of opinion or intention made,
the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose. (

Prior to meeting my husband, I never knew that a New Year's resolution was anything but flippant. Really, how serious can you be when you say you want to "eat less and exercise more"?

This year it seems I was especially welcoming to the arrival of January 1st. Something about needing to push the reset button on my life and get back to the main menu. The holiday fervor made me so scattered. It was fun to put the Christmas decorations out in December, but it was a huge relief to put them away again. Instant decluttering. It made me want to do that with my life too.

When we were first dating, my hubby taught me a method for embracing the new year with direction. Setting goals had always seemed like something teachers wanted me to do, but now I actually see great value in focusing my life in on something. So... I thought I would share my husband's basic method for resolution-making. It has morphed over the years, so I am not really sure what the original version looked like. The basic idea is to take some time to prayerfully examine different areas of my life and to set a goal for each area that is challenging, but also attainable. It usually takes me the first part of January to pray through all of the junk, and get to the heart of each category. Then, I have to write it all down and put it in a place where I will remember to look at it. Otherwise, just like any diet we put ourselves on, all of that great intention will be gone forever.
The area breakdown is something like this:

- Spiritual - goals for my prayer life, my ministries, my quiet times
- Physical - goals for keeping the one and only body God has given me healthy
- Relational - goals for who I am in my relationships: as a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, and in those relationships where it feels like I might be doing a lot more giving than taking
- Professional - goals for who I am in my work environment. Currently, I need some special guidance in the poorly paid, highly important, full-time position of motherhood
- Academic - goals to strengthen and grow the brain that God gave me
- Financial - goals for spending wisely and giving cheerfully
Sometimes I feel very uninspired by certain aspects of my life, but that is the whole point! God wants to inspire me to more like Him in EVERY area!

New beginnings are a great gift from above. A new year is an opportunity to reset the compass needle on our hearts, to realign the direction of our lives, and to remember the Holy Purpose God has set before us. In light of the new life we have been given, perhaps it is right to approach a new year with some type of reverence. 

Have you given any thoughts to resolutions for this new year?  I would love to hear your method, and I just might find a way to incorporate it into mine for next year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

grumpy girl

As you will see from the pictures below, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a nice picture of my 2-year-old daughter.  Over Christmas I essentially gave up.  I hope to have better luck when I pull out the camera in the New Year. 

We attempted to take a photo representing the 4 generations of women in my family.  Grandma, Mom, Me, and Annike.  Each of us is the oldest daughter in our family.  The significance of this picture did nothing to sweeten Annike's temperament.  Did I mention that she is 2-years-old?

From Left to Right: Jillian (sis) , Paul (Dad), Ashley, Annike, Christian, San (Mom), and Ryan (bro)

If you have ever tried to take a good photo of 6 adults and 1 child then you will understand that this was the best of MANY photos taken of my immediate family.  Christmas was the first time we had all been together in a year, and we all happened to be wearing red on this day.  It turns out that it takes more than matching outfits to make a good picture.  My head is apparently detached from my body, and Annike is once again acting like a 2-year-old.  At least in this photo you can imagine a pleasant expression on her face.

The following pictures offer a glimpse of our post-Christmas trip to Tahoe area with the family.  We had been building up the idea of snow to Annike for weeks, but this is about as close to it as she would get.  Why?  Because she did not want to put her snow jacket on, of course.   

In viewing these photos it is important for me to remember that having opinions is what makes each child unique, smart, and healthy.  Those opinions matter, whether I agree with them or not.  They shape and develop a personality in my child that I am determined to love and accept... but I admit there are times when I could use a little less opinion and a little more compliance.  My mother always says to enjoy each stage because "this too shall pass." 

One wise opinion Annike has formed is a fondness for soon-to-be Uncle Wade, my sister's fiance.  At least we can be happy about one thing together!