Monday, December 10, 2007

Anna Ruth's Birthday...again

Here are some pictures as promised of Anna Ruth's second 2nd birthday party. She had her own personal cake, and received a mo-mo (monkey) that reminds her of the monkey that she loved at storytime in Birmingham. She also received a play laptop and a classic Radio Flyer tricycle. What a spoiled girl! Hopefully she won't be expecting as many birthday parties as her age every year! :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Trim the Tree

We didn't have to go far to search for the perfect Chtstmas tree to cut farther than the front yard! Anne (Rich's mom) and I decided to save some cash and be a little bit adventurous. We found a saw in the garage, cut down the 8 foot tree, trimmed it down a little to fit in the house, and carried it inside. It definitely looks somewhat rustic, but I think it turned out very nicely. And you'd be surprised how rewarding it is to cut down your very own Christmas tree from your front yard.

Anna Ruth helped us decorate and was very excited when she saw the lights. But her favorite decorations were the beads, since she thought they were all huge necklaces for her to play dress-up with.

At the end of the day, though, she was tired out from all that decorating.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Anna Ruth!

We actually celebrated Anna Ruth's birthday early this year, since my family was gathered together for Thanksgiving.
Anna Ruth enjoyed her chocolate cake that her Aunt Lisa made for her, and all her great presents.
As if that wasn't enough, she's having another party on Saturday
with Rich's parents with more cake and presents.
Check back soon for more pictures!

Catching Up

Wow. Who knew that moving could do such a number to our blog? Sorry to all those who have been checking for updates; we have been quite slack on posting about what's been going on. Well, we moved to Charleston, and excitedly told family and friends about my pregnancy of 9 weeks. But a week after arriving, I found out I was having a miscarriage. So, we went through a lot right at the beginning. For a while we were feeling very sad and confused, but we were able to find hope and joy in knowing that we would see our baby in heaven. Thank you to everyone who sent cards and e-mails of encouragement; that meant so much to know that people were praying for us.
The house search was rather stressful and time-consuming, but we had a great realtor in Troy Watson who attends Church Creek Presbyterian with us. We definitely saw God's care for us in the whole process as he closed doors, but then opened new ones to even better situations for us. We finally put a contract on a house that will be built for us in Goose Creek. It is in a nice community with a pool, several playgrounds and parks. It was fun for me to be able to customize colors of cabinets, flooring, and vinyl siding. The house should be ready in March if all goes according to schedule. We are really excited about getting into our own place. I think it will make the move here feel more real once we're settled in our own house.
Rich is enjoying his new job, but is looking forward to getting into the house, which will be much closer to his work. He really likes all his coworkers and feels like he has a lot to learn from them (which is good!).
Anna Ruth has taken a little while to get adjusted; she transitioned to sucking her thumb all the time instead of just at nap and bedtime. She's also been pretty clingy to me and definitely more fussy as well. We have been seeing improvement with each week, so that's been good. She does really enjoy being around her Memaw and Gramps (Rich's parents, who we live with at the moment) and Lita and Pop-Pop (my parents). They've already been such amazing helps to me since we've been here. I don't know how I could ever go back to living away from parents!
All in all, we've been so happy here in Charleston, and we are thankful to God for providing the job here to make it possible.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Homeward Bound

We wanted to let everyone in on our news that Rich accepted a job in Charleston with ADC Engineering on Saturday. We have been trying to move back to South Carolina for some time now, but things just hadn't been panning out. It's been hard to find a good company that is able to pay us enough to live in Charleston on one income! We didn't expect things to happen so fast, but apparently this company wanted Rich enough that they offered us even more than what we asked for salary-wise. It was an amazing answer to many prayers from us and our families. We are so thankful to God for providing us an opportunity to move back home and have a great job and enough money to live on. Well, the company wanted us to come as soon as possible. So, we are heading out of Birmingham on October 13th and will arrive in Charleston on the 15th. We are super excited about moving to Charleston where both sets of parents are living. We're really looking forward to Anna Ruth developing strong relationships with her grandparents and also the free babysitting! Of course, we are also glad to be closer to parents for our own relationship with them as well, and renewing friendships with people who have stayed in the area.
As a side note, we will have to be changing our blog name once we move. Any suggestions???

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gastronomic Memories Revisited

Ever since Anna Ruth came out of the womb, she has reminisced about the deliciously seasoned potato strips and deluxe burgers she had (in condensed form) when her mother ate at Five Guys Burgers and Fries during our time in Blacksburg, Virginia. She was overjoyed to find out two and a half weeks ago that Five Guys had opened up shop right here in Birmingham. In fact, for several days after hearing about the opening, she made mention of the opportunity that her parents had to taste again of these culinary masterpieces. I, never to ignore the wishes of my daughter, faithfully relayed these requests to Liv. In order to protect Anna Ruth from charges of burger-idolatry, I have been careful (until now) to attribute these desires to myself rather than to our apparently (appearances can be deceiving) saintly and vegetarian daughter. After the "suggestion" of Five Guys burgers had been made to Liv for about the 5th time, Liv made room on her menu for a trip to the local establishment for fine American cuisine (and no, that's not an oxymoron). When we arrived, Liv got a shot of me holding Anna Ruth under the sign which reminded her of her former bliss.

Here you can see how excited I am (for my daughter, so that she will be able) to partake of these sensory pleasures. My olfactory capacities have not been so dulled that the ambrosial fragrances of Five Guys cajun fries do not conjure up salivatory anticipation that is sure to be fulfilled. This gift was sure and it was more than equal to the preceding anticipation, and I rejoiced (on behalf of Anna Ruth).

Welcome Baby Dagnan!

Our friends from Red Mountain community group, John and Alison Dagnan just had their baby boy on Friday evening. John "Thomas" Dagnan weighed 9lbs 8oz. and was almost 21 inches long! We are so happy for John and Alison as they begin this new chapter in their lives. Congratulations!

A Mother-Daughter Moment

An Invitation to a Birthday Party!

We attended a birthday party today for a little boy in our community group from church. He was turning 3, and had a train theme party.

Happy Birthday, William!

The amazing train cake that William's mom made for his 3rd birthday. Each car was a different flavor cake--pretty cool, huh?

Despite all the cake, trains, and presents, Anna Ruth's favorite aspect of the party was the wooden horse.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Big Girl at the Playground

Yesterday we enjoyed the first taste of fall weather and walked down the road to the playground. For the first time, Anna Ruth was able to climb up the stairs by herself and was not afraid to go down the slide by herself. We thought it was so cute to see her being such a big girl.

She soaked in our praise and was full of smiles.

She even tried her hand at the monkey bars!

And the rocks are always entertaining...:)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

For Labor Day weekend, Anna Ruth and I traveled to Greenville, SC for a visit with my Mom and Dad, Scott, Sarah and the kids, Lisa and Stephen, and Carol. Rich stayed in Birmingham in order to work on his final report for his master's. I thought it would be a good opportunity to remove the 2 biggest distractions from Rich and also get to see my family. As it turns out, my family had planned a little celebration for my birthday, and we had a lot of fun during our Mexican fiesta on Saturday night.

It was complete with homemade tortillas, homemade salsa, guacamole, and tomatillo sauce, Mexican rice, tostadas, margaritas, and Latino music.

They also decorated the front rooms with streamers and balloons.

Scott serenaded us while we ate.

Lisa made a chocolate chip cheesecake and used her culinary expertise to produce a beautiful presentation of it.

Anna Ruth loved kissing and hugging baby Sullivan.

She also enjoyed the pool, as usual, and pushing the red wagon around the yard.

Sullivan sat contentedly in the swing outside for so long, Sarah said she might put him in there whenever she needs to do homeschooling with Robert! :)

Overall, the weekend was fun, even though it was tiring (and we won't talk about Anna Ruth's behavior in the car!). I was sad that Rich couldn't be there to share in the fun, but was glad for the time with my family around my birthday. And on the way home, Anna Ruth kept talking about "Tita"(Lita) and "Pop-Pop"(that's what the grandkids call my Mom and Dad), so that was cute. I was glad that she could see them again. Thanks again, everyone, for the effort you put into the celebration for me and for all my nice gifts and cards. I love y'all!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Heirloom Dress

Anna Ruth is wearing a dress that one of Rich's sisters wore when she was a baby. I thought it looked so adorable; she looks like a little prairie girl!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Security Breach

We have a sliding glass door at the back of our apartment, and as added security to the lock on the door, we also have a stick that is placed between the doors. Anna Ruth has taken to getting the stick out from its place, walking with it, hitting things with in, and then putting it in random places around the house. Needless to say, many a night the stick has uselessly lain beneath the couch or another hiding place. Who knows why she loves that stick so much? Hopefully it's just a phase...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

8 Random (and sometimes funny) Facts you may not have known about Rich

1. Rich went by his middle name, Gabriel, until he started high school. He decided to change it after experiencing the horrors of middle school name-calling. All the other guys delighted in calling him “Gabrielle” and even a particular teacher couldn’t seem to pronounce it right. The final straw was his name being misspelled on the 8th grade graduation cake. He took advantage of the transition in life and friends as he went off to high school and resolved to be called Richard from then on.
2. There seems to be a common theme in Rich’s life—head mishaps. Starting from when he was just a wee lad on a snow-covered hill near his home where a fast-moving sledder propelled him 20ft. down the hill landing him on the street directly on his head, to basketball and football accidents in high school, to a very large TV falling on his head in college. Hmmmm, that does explain a lot….
3. Rich is the middle child out of 5 siblings and also happens to be the only boy. You’d think he would be an expert on women, but somehow that knowledge eluded him.
4. I believe Rich has a real artistic talent. When he was in high school, he painted a basketball game scene that was pretty good, and he often sketches things that are surprisingly good. I’ve tried to convince him to pick it up again and practice so that he could paint something to hang in our house, but he insists he isn’t that good and just doesn’t have the time to get better.
5. One of the things I’ve come to realize since Rich and I have been married is that he has the worst memory of anyone I know. It truly seems as though information goes in one ear and out the other. He will freely admit this fact, though we often have small arguments about things people might have said or done, and he is dead set on his account and promises me that I’m wrong. I do the same, and then the argument is over. Within a day or two, he suddenly remembers something and concedes that I was right all along. It’s perplexing to me how he can remember all the math formulas and rules for structural engineering, but not what time dinner will be served.
6. Rich attended The Citadel (The Military College of South Carolina) for undergrad and Virginia Tech for grad school. His father and grandfather also attended VT.
7. Rich has a love for poetry. Every so often, something will remind him of a poem or author, and he will go to the back room and bring out an old English Literature textbook from college and begin reading to me. At this point, I usually protest and tell him to read to himself. But he insists that poetry must be read aloud and that I will learn to love it, too if only I would listen and try to understand it.
8. Rich has been on TV once. (Since a TV was once on him, it’s only appropriate, right?) He was competing in the Penn Relays, and the media was focusing on Alan Webb (currently the top miler in the U.S.) who had just finished his race, while Rich was about to begin his.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Big Balloon

The nice guys at the Ford dealership gave Anna Ruth a big balloon from one of the cars on the lot.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy...

What are we to make of this antiquated tradition of Sabbath day morning and evening worship services? This phenomenon is only seen in the most conservative reformed churches. Is it only the result of tradition, or is there a firm Scriptural foundation and norm for this activity? Robert Rayburn gives a short explanation, defense, and praise of morning and evening Sabbath day corporate worship. At our church (Red Mountain Church, PCA), much is made of the biblical illiteracy of our culture, and this recognition drives pastors and elders to be careful in sermons to make their message intelligible (by explaining terms such as sanctification, etc.) and to use our "own poets" to preach sermons to us. As laudable as this is, there are possibly even more effective approaches, as Rayburn says here regarding a second service:

...such a service provides another opportunity for ministers to preach and teach the Word of God. All the more in our day, when the church is not as biblically literate as it once was, reducing the number of times Christians hear the Word read and taught is hardly a recipe for spiritual prosperity or renewal. I give my own testimony as a preacher that, were it not for the evening service – a well attended evening service for which I am very grateful – there are a many parts of the Bible the congregation would never have had taught to it and many biblical themes that would never have been taught so comprehensively were I limited to a single sermon each week.

A second and third defense of the practice can be found here and here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

She walked a few steps in her Daddy's shoes...

...but that was as far as she could make it. She just loves getting in Daddy's shoes. I think she knows how funny it looks and likes to make us laugh.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We're the Pro-Abortion, Pro-Female-Military Party

I would hope that these kinds of responses would not gain any traction in any state outside of New England or California, but America could prove me to be naive.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Are the Psalms Trinitarian?

One of the recent criticisms I have heard of the heavy or exclusive use of psalmody in worship is that Christ's name is not mentioned therein, nor is the doctrine of the Trinity explicitly found. Men who I know and respect have said this, and I have recently heard the same over at Reformation21. Here's a great article, arguing that the Psalms are rather a place where God the Three-in-One is explicitly praised, and with Biblical emphasis.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Theocracy or theocracy

Lots of articles from this guy lately, I know... Here is another one from Doug Wilson, and I promise, it, too, is worth reading. One thing that Reformed theology has always stressed is that nature abhors a God-shaped vacuum. That is, there is no such thing as a person or culture that does not serve a god (or God). So, the calls for God to be taken out of government ring hollow, as the only reason we want God out, is so that we can have another god in his place. This god, in its tamest form, is a god of liberty and tolerance, but even if tame, no false god is good or powerful. No different than Gomer's other clients, this god forces payment from those who prostitute themselves to it.

It would be bad enough if Christians in this country had decided that a morality could exist apart from the worship of the Lord Jesus. Here we would have only denied that God's character is that which defines good, and that His worship is the foundation of good morality.

Unfortunately, the problem is even deeper. The thing is that we Christians don't want the God of the Bible too close to us. We're not sure if we really like how he dealt with nations that did not worship him, so we don't want to align ourselves too closely with him. Not only do we not believe God to be good, we even cast judgement from our lofty seat in the courtroom of fools.

Recipes for the time-starved

A nice little article from the New York Times, complete with 2 sentence recipes for meals that take 10 minutes or less to make. Some of these look really nice.

Vocab 019

Besides getting taller and testing our consistence in discipline over the past few months, Anna Ruth has added many new words to her vocabulary.
Here is a list of all her new words:
Anna Doo (Anna Ruth)
mana (banana)
beer (blame Rich for that one)
Robert (her cousin)
wah-ree (water)
flah-ree (flower)

She makes animal sounds for pig, cat, and horse. She also will pinch her nose and say "tinky". These are all in addition to the words listed in a previous post, Vocab 015.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Happy Anniversaries!

Happy 1 Year Anniversary, Ben & Judith! (July 15)

Happy 1 Year Anniversary, Brian & Jess! (July 21)

Congratulations! We love you guys, and pray for many more years of marriage.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cute in Crocs

Anniversary Weekend

This picture of my nephew Sullivan doesn’t have much to do with this post, but it was so cute, I wanted to post it anyway.

This past weekend we traveled to Greenville to visit Sarah & Scott, as well as my newly-married sister and brother-in-law, Lisa & Stephen. (See Doing the Charleston post below.) We had loads of fun on Friday night eating steak and shrimp, accompanied by Casillero del Diablo Merlot. After dinner we played a French card game, Mille Bornes, which was really fun to learn and play. For lunch on Saturday we headed over to Lisa & Stephen’s, got the tour of their new apartment, ate some homemade fried rice (compliments of Stephen), and played more card games. Saturday evening, Rich and I had the opportunity to go out by ourselves for our 3 year anniversary while Scott & Sarah watched Anna Ruth for us. We walked around downtown Greenville to work up an appetite just in time to arrive at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. Rich loves that place mainly for the great selection of beers on tap (which has recently gotten even better since the alcohol cap in South Carolina has been lifted), but also for the yummy pizza. We got white pizza, and it did not disappoint. After finishing our meal, we walked over to Coffee Underground where we got some very sweet milkshakes and enjoyed the ambience of the underground. When we got home, we stayed up much too late watching The Office Season 1, while enjoying more good beers and a wide array of chocolates. We were glad to be able to go to Greenville, since we won’t have many more half-day Fridays to facilitate making the weekend trip now that Rich is changing jobs.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Submissive to Scripture

Here's a great little article by Doug Wilson about how we ought to approach the God-breathed Word.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July in Birmingham

Last night we went to see the local fireworks here in Birmingham. They were shot off above the Vulcan. An elementary school nearby has a field in front where many of the locals sit to see the show. We were told to arrive early to get a parking spot, so we did, and Anna Ruth played on the playground while were waiting for the display to begin. She tried out a curvy slide, but had some problems with her shoes catching on the side and turning her backwards.

She still had fun, though. The fireworks began around 9PM, and were better than we expected. We've been spoiled by the great fireworks displays in Charleston, so we were pretty sure the ones here would be duds. But to our surprise, they had some big ones, and even some fireworks that were smiley faces, which I had never seen before. (Though, I didn't catch those on video.) Anna Ruth enjoyed them for a bit, but her short attention span became a challenge after only a couple minutes. She wanted to run around and interact with all the kids, but we wanted to watch the rest of the fireworks. Oh well, such is life with an active toddler! Well, here is a short video of some of the fireworks that I was able to capture while Anna Ruth wasn't too crazy. And if you're wondering what the UFO in the middle of the screen is, that's a street light that was coming on and off throughout the entire show.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Feminism in the PCA

One of the most serious problems in the PCA right now is the encroachment of egalitarianism. A Denver, Colorado church has hired a female Covenant seminary grad as "Minister of Church Life" (their own words). The obvious problems with this action are claimed to have been dealt with in a position paper done oby the church there. The pastor there claims that this is merely a semantic issue, not to be blown out of proportion or confused with anything bad, which, of course, they wouldn't do. Any PCA elder or member ought to be concerned with this issue. At least two pastors in the PCA have already dealt with this in writing, actually dealing head-on with the position paper that supposedly will clear the air, showing that it, in fact, reveals the problem to be as deep as is first supposed. Because the paper is fairly long, and others have already done good work in dealing with it, I will link to these discussions. The first deals with the paper directly, while the second is not as direct. Please read these.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Doing the Charleston

A week ago, we were in Charleston to celebrate Lisa & Stephen's wedding. Here are some pictorial highlights from the wedding.

This is the traditional pose of the four sisters that started at Sarah's wedding.

Here is Dad with his daughters. We got this shot because Father's Day was the Sunday after the wedding. Sarah got it developed, put it into a frame, and gave it to Dad as a gift.

Anna Ruth looked pretty cute in her Strausburg dress with her monogram on the collar. But keep in mind, looks can be deceiving...

My nephew, Robert, and niece, Virginia, were the ringbearer and flowergirl. They looked pretty adorable.

In the final hours before the wedding, things got pretty hectic and nervous. Lisa needed to take the edge off, and I caught it all on camera.

While we were there, we also visited the beach for the first time with Anna Ruth. She really loved the water, but not so much the sand. Whenever she would get sand on her hand, she would hold it out, and grunt as if to say "Get this stuff off my hand!" It was pretty funny that she had a problem with that, but she's perfectly fine with eating anything off of the floor. Anyway, she had lots of fun, especially playing with Gramps.

We also got the chance to enjoy more water in Lita and Pop-Pop's pool on Sunday afternoon. Memaw bought Anna Ruth a float that everyone called the "Princess Float". She loved just floating around and watching her cousins splash.

Calvin vs. Augustine?

I don't doubt that Calvin may contradict himself somewhere (he might not be perfect), but this is a dart thrown at at least one of the doctrinal stances of some of the FV followers. I know that this is not the exegesis of Galatians that FV guys would want to work with, and I'm not sure that this is even their position, but it is the position of many of their followers, who have either been led astray, or have been confused. The following is from Calvin's Institutes:
The Sophists, who make game and sport in their corrupting of Scripture and their empty caviling, think they have a subtle evasion. For they explain “works” as meaning those which men not yet reborn do only according to the letter by the effort of their own free will, apart from Christ’s grace. But they deny that these refer to spiritual works. For, according to them, man is justified by both faith and works provided they are not his own works but the gifts of Christ and the fruit of regeneration. For they say that Paul so spoke for no other reason than to convince the Jews, who were relying upon their own strength, that they were foolish to arrogate righteousness to themselves, since the Spirit of Christ alone bestows it upon us not through any effort arising from our own nature. Still they do not observe that in the contrast between the righteousness of the law and of the gospel, which Paul elsewhere introduces, all works are excluded, whatever title may grace them [Galatians 3:11-12].

Color Wonder

I recently received a Target gift card, and yesterday I ventured out to Target to browse and find something I might want to buy for myself. I spent about an hour or so, looking through the housewares, clothes, games, and scrapbooking supplies. All during this time I was constantly handing Anna Ruth crackers and juice, and offering encouraging words like "We're almost done" and "I'll let you down in just a minute". So naturally, I ended up buying Color Wonder paper and markers for Anna Ruth. I'm sure most of you have heard of this stuff, but it's really cool! The markers are clear, and they only mark on the special paper you buy. They don't mark on skin, clothes, carpet, walls, or whatever else little kids tend to draw on. When we tried them out, I was happy for that when Anna Ruth decided the markers were lipstick and proceeded to "color" her lips. I did eventually convince her to try them out on the paper, and she really ended up enjoying it. Here is her masterpiece: