Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Could they get any cuter? We think not!

Kyle and Ella sang a special number for our dad's birthday last month. You may want to turn your volume down a bit (it starts out a little loud ;-). Enjoy!

"Happy Birthday, Mister Todd!" video

And for their encore performance, the twins display their academic genius in a rousing rendition of "The Alphabet Song".... video

....or at least part of it ;-).

Too cute!

We love you, Kyle and Ella!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thoughts

Hi everyone! Julie here. You know what I've been loving about God lately? That He loves variety. I mean, look at all the different kinds of people He's created. I love variety. When Mom and I go to the grocery store together, she's gotten used to me lagging behind, reading all the different types of Jello, Hamburger Helper, cake mixes, soups, chocolate chips, yogurts, ice creams, cheeses, and the list goes on. But more than God's awesome variety in His creation, I love His variety in communication, the way He reaches us individually. I love to look for the little things during my day that I know He put there just for me. Things that no one else would notice, or wouldn't care if they did, but that speak personally to me. God knows my love language, and He speaks it perfectly. But not just mine. Everyone's. Talk about variety. Isn't He wonderful?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He Knows and He Cares

Hello friends! I (Amy) am in the middle of writing a big paper right now, but wanted to take a quick break to reconnect with the blog world and hopefully to encourage you a bit today. Disclaimer: I did not take the pictures below. I am being lame and posting the "sample pictures" that came with my laptop because I haven't taken any good ones recently, and because these ones are beautiful displays of God's creation ;-). In fact, I recently saw some beautiful yellow flowers like these on a walk with a friend. That counts for something, right?
Lately, life has been pretty crazy around here. We've had a lot to think about and a lot to do. One day I was feeling very overwhelmed and although I kept praying, I did not have peace. I knew that I needed some encouragement from the Word, so I asked God to show me what He wanted me to know that day. I flipped open my Bible to Psalm 34 and read these verses:
Psalm 34:4
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, he delivered me from all my fears.
I realized that sometimes it's my fear of circumstances, rather than the circumstances themselves, that keep me from trusting God and pressing on. The LORD can and will deliver me from those fears if I seek Him.
Psalm 34:5
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
If I want my life to be a shining light to those around me, I've got to look to Him for guidance.
Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
God knows. He knows what I'm going through. He knows about my heartaches, my desires, my confusion, and my yearning for Him. In fact, He knew about those things long before I was even born. And best of all, He cares and He is close.
I could go on, but it'd be better if you open up God's Word and read it for yourself. If you're looking for some encouragement, open up to Psalm 34. Know that we have a compassionate King who provides abundantly for His children.
He knows and He cares.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good Reads

I (Julie) must admit my serious lack of blogging lately has been largely due to a number of good books I have been reading. Every spare minute I have, I want to cuddle up and lose myself in them. I love books. Love them. So I thought I would share with you some of the ones that have been commanding my attention lately. Book #1: In the '6 Question' post, which actually turned out to be 7 questions, and I didn't even catch it, I mentioned the book ' The Slumber of Christianity' by Ted Dekker. In summary, he challenges us to renew (or begin) our obsession for heaven, the hope to which God has called us. How often we hear someone say, "She's so heavenly minded, she's of no earthly good." This book blows that out of the water, because if we were truly focused on heaven, looking forward to our glorious inheritance, realizing how short our time on this earth was, we would be of more earthly good than anyone living only for this life. I love Ted Dekker's other books (well, most of them. Some of his thrillers are a little scary, and some I haven't even opened because I know I would be scared out of my mind.) He has a way of grabbing the reader, so that you come away breathless. Book #2: 'Revolution in World Missions' by K.P. Yohannen. This book focuses on opening the minds of Western Christians (meaning American, European, Canadian, and Australian basically) to the third wave of missions sweeping Asia. The first wave of missions was the original disciples going out, the second wave began with William Carey and continued through the colonization period of Africa and Asia. This third wave is national believers, specifically in Asia, going to their own villages or those near them to preach the gospel and plant churches. These missionaries often face tremendous opposition and persecution, but they are having an unprecedented impact, winning village after village for Christ. There are many reasons why these missionaries are so effective. We have seen again and again how persecution seems not to stem the growth of Christianity but to act as a catalyst to grow the church. These people are passionate, desperate to reach their countrymen. When a western missionary goes to these countries, despite all their good intentions, they have to battle the belief that they are bringing a "western" religion. These missionaries are coming to people in their own culture, from their own culture. That hurdle doesn't exist. Logistically, these national missionaries can spread the Gospel for a fraction of the cost of a Western missionary. The cost of the plane ticket for an American to go to India is about the amount a national missionary in India needs for a year for food, travel expenses, etc. Their lifestyles are simple; they live just like everybody else around them. National missionaries usually know the local language, or a dialect close to it, already, which saves an enormous amount of time. Basically, after reading this book, I have a new-found admiration and love for these missionaries, and they have been in my prayers a lot. It is so easy to think that we just need more Christians from America or Europe to go to Asia to spread the Gospel, but we really need to be supporting our brothers and sisters who are already there. This book goes hand in hand with Book #3: 'Tortured for Christ' by Richard Wurmbrand, the man who started Voice of the Martyrs. As I read this book, I found myself in tears again and again for my brothers and sisters who gladly give their everything because they know nothing is as precious as knowing Jesus. I appreciated the love the author had for the communists who were the cause of his arrest, imprisonment, and torture. He didn't love the Communism, mind you, but he had an intense love for the people who had been killed spiritually by the brainwashing of the government and a desire to bring them Jesus, who could bring them back to life. All three of these books have helped me to take a step back. It is so easy to get caught up in day to day, in the things that the world tells us are important. When we can focus on what God values instead, the cares of this life seem so trivial on the one hand, but so sweet on the other, because each one is a piece of the plan God has for us, one more thing to draw us to Him. Okay, now we are going to turn to a completely different genre of books for my last good reads. When I was in elementary school, I fell in love with L.M. Montgomery, who wrote the 'Anne of Green Gables' series. I read every book of hers I could get my hands on, and every week, when our class had library time, I would ask the librarian if she had gotten any new L.M. Montgomery books. She was such a wonderful lady, and she would either smile sweetly and say that she hadn't gotten any more, or she would take me into the back room where she had just finished processing a new one and saved it out for me, and give it to me with the joy of knowing she had made my day. It took me a while to realize the author was dead, and she wouldn't be coming out with a stack of books each year. Anyway, it had been years since I read any of them, but I was thinking recently that if I ever have daughters, I hope they would love them like I did. Then I thought, I better read them again to make sure I really want them to. I've been re-reading a three-book series, and I am remembering why I loved them so much in the first place. They are 'Emily of New Moon,' 'Emily Climbs,' and 'Emily's Quest.' They are not Christian books, but to read them as Christian, I always come away feeling so blessed with life, just to wake up each day and see the blessings God has given all around me. So now you can see why I have been a little lacking in the blog-post department lately. I recommend any and all of these books, and I welcome your thoughts on them!