Sunday, October 21, 2012


Today would have been Bryan and my twelfth wedding anniversary.  

We got married in downtown San Antonio at the Little Church at La Villita.  It was a beautiful day!  (Photo Bomb Alert, although our best pictures are the print ones, not these digital ones.  Indulge me a little.)

(Now, if you're thinking that we looked a lot younger twelve years ago- well, so did you!)

The Reverend Andrew Reichert officiated.

Shawn McGrew and my aunt Tina stood up with us.

And we were surrounded by friends and family.

My Mutti

Bryan's Nephew Marc

Marriage and its companionship are a precious gift.  Don't take it for granted.  Don't waste the time in petty discontent.  Take joy in the gift you've been given.  Cherish the moments, because those moments are all we have.

"Above all,
Love each other deeply."
1 Peter 4:8

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


"I hear the Savior say,
'Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.'"

Since Bryan's death, and even while he was in the hospital, many people have told me that I'm strong.  I have two reactions to this.  First, I want to laugh and ask, "And the other option would be??"  (I have seven children.  I do what I have to do.)  But my second reaction is, "No, I'm not."  

I'm not strong.  But here's the secret:  I don't have to be.  And neither do you.

God is not looking for strong servants.  He wants humble ones.  He wants children who rely on Him.  In fact, in His paradoxical kingdom, He chooses the weak to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27).  We're not supposed to trust in the strength of our hands.  And that's a good thing, because when it comes to real battles, we quickly find that our hands aren't nearly strong enough.

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses,
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God."
Psalm 20:7

It is in our weakness, not in our strength, that we best show God's power.  The Apostle Paul was a strong person.  He was educated, bold, confident.  He was so strong, that the Lord went out of His way to make sure that Paul depended on Him.  The Lord gave Paul a torment, and Paul begged Him to remove it.  But He didn't.  Instead, He told him,

"My grace is sufficient for you.
For my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

What powerful words!  The weakness- the reminder that we are but dust- is for God's glory.  It's not so that we will fall.  It's not so that we will be conquered by our fears.  The weakness allows the Lord's power to give us victory.

So, when you see people who persevere under trial, you're not seeing their strength, you're witnessing God's grace.  And for His grace I am thankful.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


"Mommy, mommy, mommy!"  Any mother, no matter how many children she has, hears this many times a day (or an hour.)  Mommies are called to a life of distraction.

We get up in the morning with an agenda.  We are going to clean the house, we are going to run errands, we are even going to go through those boxes in the garage!  And then, the cereal gets spilled on the floor, the dog escapes, the baby takes a tumble, and the twelve year old decides that chores are boring.

The to-do list sits untouched as we rush from one crisis to another.  "Where did my day go?" we wonder.  At this point, we have a choice.  We can start to whine about the wrecking of our plans, or we can take each moment as it comes, and experience life, not as a list of things to do, but as a series of interactions with those around us.

Many of us might begin the day with Bible study, or a devotional, or at the very least, a quick prayer.  "Lord, I give You this day.  Help me to serve You in all that I do."  And then, we start on our list.  We stick to it as if it came from Mt. Sinai, and we get aggravated or even angry when we're called away from it.

The wisdom of Proverbs tells us:

"A man's heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9  

If we really want the Lord to be in charge of our day, we need to hand over that list too.  "Lord, here's the list.  Guide my steps and let me see You at work in each moment."  Then, we can see each "crisis" as an opportunity.  Clean up the cereal and demonstrate the Lord's patience.  Comfort the baby and shine with His compassion.  Set the 12 year old straight and establish (again) the life-long importance of a good work ethic and a servant's heart.

Have you ever asked the Lord to give you opportunities to share the gospel?  To witness to others?  It could be that these interactions come in less obvious forms that you might be counting on.  Perhaps the harried cashier just needs your smile.  And maybe your children just need a hug (or firm discipline).  No moment is too small for God's hand.

And what about that to-do list?  Those boxes are still sitting in the garage and the house looks like a tornado went through it.  Take heart!  God loves order, and again in Proverbs we have a promise.

"Commit your work to the Lord,
And your plans will be established."
Proverbs 16:3

Maybe not on our timetable, and perhaps not in our way, but when we hand over the course of the day to the Lord, He takes care of the details.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Austin is an entire year old!  I really can't believe that he's one, but then again, he's walking like a pro and has such a big personality, that he HAS to be at least that old.

Austin was born hours after the end of Yom Kippur last year.  He has been a joy to our family.  When Bryan was in the hospital, we took to calling our Austin Baby our "Baby Barnabas" because he was such an encouragement to us through the entire ordeal.  His smile continues to lift my spirits every day.

Bryan's Favorite Picture of Austin Baby

Here's a rundown of my little man at one:

Favorite food: Sweet potatoes (He's finally starting to eat solids pretty well.)
Favorite phrase: Uh-oh!  (Also his only phrase.)
Favorite toy: Anything that can be hurled across the room (Duck!)
Special talents:  Getting around the gate on the stairs
Word that best describes Austin: Precious

Happy Birthday, Austin Baby!

Friday, October 5, 2012


Not all holidays are over in a day!  The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, lasts eight days.  (Leviticus 23:33-43)

This feast commemorates the time that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, living in tabernacles (tents). It reminds us that our earthly dwelling is temporary, and that we too are wandering in search of the Promised Land.

And it involves building a Sukkah (soo-kah) or tabernacle.  We've built a Sukkah every single year.  Here's the first one we built after moving out of our apartment:

Nathan was just a little guy.

I can still remember hauling this one down just a few days before Carsten was born.

And then there was the year where I couldn't help because Steffen was just two days old.  Watch your head, Nathan!

After that year, it became obvious that this whole drill/2x4/ladder bit was really not our family's thing.  I am not handy.  Bryan was not handy.  I still hope that there might be some recessive handyman genes in one of the boys, but until those genes manifest themselves, there is The Sukkah Project.  Klutz-free sukkah kits for people just like us!  Really, this is one of the best ideas ever.  This is the third year we've used our kit and we couldn't be happier.  Nathan and I, with a little help from the others, are able to put this up on our own.  (In a pinch, one person could do it alone.)  It came in handy this year, of course, but last year, I had just had Austin, so Bryan and the kids put it up without me.  

It goes up in just a few hours, and then everyone can relax and enjoy the holiday.  Just look at how relaxed Austin is at his first Sukkot celebration.

Check out The Sukkah Project!  Perhaps your family can start to build some memories too.

Happy Sukkot!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Steffen is three!

Hard to believe it's been three years since he made his grand entrance.

Here's a brief rundown of my little guy at three.

Favorite food:  Grapes (At HEB:  "Mommy, get gwapes!")
Favorite toy: Lego Hero Factory
Favorite phrase:  "Catch him and cuff him.  Oh yeah.  Oh yeah."  From Hero Factory
Favorite song:  Tie between Holy, Holy, Holy (he mixes up all the verses into one very theologically suspect hymn) and O Jerusalem by Chuck King
Special talents: Recognizing letters (picked that up all on his own); Controlling an iPhone like a pro
Favorite color:  Definitely orange
Word that best describes Steffen: Spitfire

Happy Birthday, Steffen!