Then They Became One

The girls giggled with excitement as they got on their beautiful princess like dresses, sparkly shoes and painted their nails.  The day they have been counting down since last November has finally arrived!  Their beloved piano teacher, Rebecca and her prince were getting married and our family was blessed to be a part of their special day.

It was a beautiful ceremony filled with joy, love and God’s word.  To watch their relationship grow from the first phone call, to traveling back and forth from California visiting each other, to Jonathan proposing to Rebecca, through wedding planning and through the big day was an exceptional experience  and a memory we will treasure forever.  To watch 2 young people fall in love within the safety of their family and close friends gives me hope that love and marriage can thrive the way God intended.  The worlds way of finding ‘the one’ has no boundaries and rarely are parents and family involved in such an intimate way.  Again… this was NOT an arranged marriage!

Their vows were beautiful and they sought the wisdom of the Lord on what to pledge to each other.  The pastor who performed the ceremony (the groom’s uncle) did an amazing job of keeping the focus on Jesus and called on the bride and groom to keep Jesus at the center of their marriage.  Both the bride and groom have had this exampled for them as they grew up from their own parents.  It’s amazing what can be passed on from generation to generation….. both good and bad.  Jonathan and Rebecca’s marriage won’t be perfect and they will have ups and downs but I have no doubt that they will work hard to seek the Lord together.

DSCF0471 Girls walking down isle DSCF0486 DSCF0491 DSCF0494 Jonathan and Natasha Jonathan and Mikayla Jonathan and Alex Jonathan and Rebecca IMG_5180

I Miss Them!

Can I just say that I miss my family!

Phil and the girls are doing well.  I only have a few pictures to share at the bottom of the post.  Today they spent the day in Finland doing some sort of team building stuff.  Phil shared a bit with me about how challenging the border crossing was in both directions.  They will be in Vyborg for a few more days then they will head to Vladimir.

The main conference was last Friday and Saturday and it was considered a success.  With 200 families (more then double the amount of families from last years conference) and 160 children they were busting at the seams of the hall they rented.  The group is giving 2 more conferences in Vyborg and Vladimir but those are on a much smaller scale.

Only 8 more sleeps!  Enjoy a few pictures…. not all are Russia related!

Just because... she's so stinkin cute!

Just because… she’s so stinkin cute!

Alex and I on our way to a wedding shower.

Alex and I on our way to a wedding shower.

Their first day in St. Petersburg.

Their first day in St. Petersburg.

Just me and my cutie.

Just me and my cutie.

On the train.

On the train.

After a long day on the train, a little can napping waiting for tea.

After a long day on the train, a little cat napping waiting for tea.

Waiting at the train station.

Waiting at the train station.

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Natasha, Mikayla and Davidson girls somewhere.. not sure where!

Natasha, Mikayla and Davidson girls somewhere.. not sure where!

The Angels Are Rejoicing!

The angels in heaven are rejoicing tonight because we have a new sister in Christ!  Our sweet Natasha made a public confession of Jesus as her Lord and Savior and was baptized.  We are so thankful for the friends and family that joined us and helped make this evening special.

I am so grateful to Natasha’s piano teacher, Miss Rebecca for sharing her thoughts about Natasha.  Mikayla also shared one of her favorite verses Psalm 100:4-5 Enter His gates with thankgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

During our daily bible time in the mornings before we start school we’ve all been working on memorizing Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12.  Natasha has more then half of it memorized and recited all that she could from memory.  Then Phil shared from Acts 8 about Philip and the Eunuch.  Philip explained to the Eunuch what he was reading in Isaiah was about Jesus Christ and the Eunuch asked to be baptized.  Then Phil shared about the Godly characteristics that Natasha possesses.  Then it was time for the baptism.

While I was helping Natasha get dressed afterward, the Girkins family lead the group is two hymns; Trust and Obey and I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.  Then Lane gave the closing prayer and we had some snacks.

It was a wonderful thing watching your child be baptized into Christ.  There is nothing I want more then for all of my children to walk with the Lord.

Lastly, I can’t thank my wonderful husband enough for being such an amazing father to our children.  It’s his love and example to our family that helped Natasha make the decision to follow Christ.

Enjoy some pictures from our special evening.

Phil and Natasha Phil, Mikayla, Alex, Natasha and Jonathan Natasha, Mikayla, Jonathan and Alex Katherine Natasha and Miss Rebecca Natasha with the Requist Family Natasha with Grandma Joanne and Grandpa Mark Natasha and Uncle Andy Us

Homeschool Day At The Capitol and a GREAT Movie!

Today marked the 20th Annual Homeschool Day at the Capitol sponsored by Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC).  We woke up to snow and about 30 degrees but I was determined to go to the Capitol and take a stand for our rights as parents to home educate our children.  Phil was unable to get today off but Natasha, Mikayla and I headed out the door at about 8:45am to join other homeschoolers in celebrating our freedom at the Pillar of Fire Church downtown.  We were blessed to hear Bold Reflection (a young mens choir) sing a couple of songs before listening to a few speakers and watching a skit put on by fellow homeschoolers.  From there we grabbed some lunch then all gathered outside the church to begin the march around the Capitol.  By the time the march started the rain had stopped.  It was still chilly but we are Coloradoans or Denverites, not wimps!

I recorded the Bold Reflection songs today but I cannot figure out how to upload the video to this blog post.  But, here is a link to a video of a concert they did last year.  They have many songs posted on youtube if you search for their group name.

The band that starts the march.

The band that starts the march.

The band that ends the march.

The band that ends the march.

The crowd in front of us beginning the march around the Capitol.

The crowd in front of us beginning the march around the Capitol.

Out in the cold on the steps of the Capitol, April 17, 2015.

Out in the cold on the steps of the Capitol, April 17, 2015.

Anyway, after praying together on the steps of the Capitol we listened as Bold Reflection sang the National Anthem.  We listened to our featured speaker and some legislative updates on education, parent rights and social issues.

Again, I can’t figure out how to upload video but here is a link to Bold Reflection singing the National Anthem at the Rockies game a few years ago.  Personally, the anthem they sung today was better but I can’t upload the video… argh!

CHEC was hosting a special screening of a new movie called Beyond the Mask this afternoon.  This movie was made by the Burns family… a homeschooling family!  We decided to take Natasha and Mikayla to this showing and boy was it an enjoyable movie!  It had action, humor and even some romance.  But it was refreshing to watch a movie that did not have bad language, blood, gut and gore, nudity or even sexual content.  Wow, to think a movie can be entertaining while still being appropriate for the entire family to watch…. and it didn’t have cartoon characters or talking animals!  We all enjoyed it immensely and will be buying it once it comes to DVD.   Check out the Beyond The Mask website to watch the trailer!

The Lecture Bug

As a parent we’ve all done it haven’t we?  As I stand in our kitchen and go on and on about my frustration with the constant asking for a piece of Easter candy I see the eyes of 4 of my children (Katherine is too young to ask for candy!) glaze over and they look like zombies.  I have clearly been tuned out.  Who teaches them how to do that at such a young age?

Anyway, once I’m done ranting I head into the living room to sit down and text daddy.  I look at my phone and I see a text already started but not yet sent.  As I read the quite lengthy text, the words are very familiar to me.  I realized that as I was ranting in the kitchen about the dreaded candy question I had hit the voice text button on my smart phone on accident.  It recorded my entire rant in a text to daddy!  I had to laugh out loud and share that with my kids but I didn’t send it daddy.

As I sit here tonight reading my bible, I’m thinking about my rant and how my children were able to turn it off and just stare at me.  Sometimes I wonder if that is how God feels… however, the Lord does not lecture.  He laid out His words for my life in His bible and it is anything but a rant.  His word is filled with love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and a hope that can only come from Him.

The Lord is also showing me how my words affect those around me; for better or for worse.  My lecture bug did not, in any way, convince my children to stop asking for candy.  It only confirmed for them that they have mastered the skill of tuning mommy out.

I don’t want to tune out my Lord and Savior.  As I reflect on my words to my children today a few verses come to mind that I truly need to memorize and have ready when the lecture bug starts to crawl out of her hole and give my family an earful.

 Prov 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick tempered exalts folly.

To be honest, I’m not always slow to anger… ask my husband.  When I am short tempered, I try to step back and figure out if I’m stressed, overwhelmed or not feeling well.  Most of the time one of those 3 is the root cause of my frustration, rather then the people around me.

  Prov 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

This one is especially helpful to teach children, but I’m amazed how much I need to be better about practicing this wise Proverb.

  Prov 19:11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

Another good one… overlook a transgression.  In other words show mercy.  I think this is especially hard for children.  Not that I’ve mastered it by any means but children are still learning to communicate their emotions and to tell them to overlook a wrong done to them is challenging.  None the less, very wise.  I’m not saying we should be doormats but discretion is important in all aspects of life.

Phil and the kids love the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson.  It’s a catchy tune but if you really look at the words there is such truth to it.  What do you think of these lyrics?

“Words”

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
(Speak over the fear)
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear
(We need to hear)

Let the words I say
(Let the words I say)
Be the sound of Your grace
(Sound like Your grace)
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

 

Is Courtship Arranged Marriage?

Awhile back I blogged about a wonderful evening with a young couple who are in a courtship and are actually engaged to be married in May.  Shortly after that post I was asked if courtship is the same as arranged marriage.  I actually laughed out loud at that question!   This post is to clarify courtship and this young couples story.

First, my definition of courtship is NOT arranged marriage.  I suppose someone is society somewhere might consider the 2 the same but I do not.  Basically, I see courtship as a dating process with the end in mind.  Meaning when someone is ready for marriage (spiritually, financially, emotionally, etc.) then they seek to find someone who could be a potential spouse.  Courtship can look differently to different couples.

Honestly, the rules or boundaries of the relationship that the couple puts in place is not as important as their hearts.  The couple I mentioned in the earlier post have set the boundaries for their relationship until they are married.  They set those boundaries together as a way to honor and respect each other.  They spent a lot of time building their relationship and getting to know one another in a very deep and meaningful way without getting physical.  I realize this is completely contrary to what our society thinks is normal.

How is this different than traditional dating?  Well, typically, individuals don’t enter into a courtship without the end in mind; without marriage in mind.  I can tell you that before I became a Christian I am 100% sure that the guys that I dated DID NOT have the end in mind and marriage was not on their radar… nor was it on mine.  In our society marriage comes much later, if at all.  As a Christian, I value marriage immensely.  It isn’t just a piece of paper or a legal document.  Courtship is not perfect and hearts can get broken but I would venture to say that there is much more heartache in traditional dating then in courtship.

Below is an brief explanation of this couple’s love story in their own words.  I find it refreshing and encouraging that there are young people willing to pursue God’s desire for their life rather then their own.

Our story is a fairytale of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love in our lives! The way in which Steve and I ended up together, engaged, and about to embark on happily ever after is not possible of ourselves – we serve a wonderful God!
Steve and I first met in 1996 when my family started attending Warner Avenue Baptist Church (WABC) in Huntington Beach, California. I was 4 years old, and Steve was 12 – he likes to joke that he first saw me in diapers while he was shopping in the nursery. :) In actuality, we just continued on with our lives as normal, didn’t really interact at all due to the age gap between us. It wasn’t till 7 years later that we would become friends and start spending more time together.
In 2003(?) Steve’s father passed away from cancer. Their family had not been attending church for about a year prior to his death due to the cancer treatment scheduling and doctor’s visits. About a year later WABC organized a church group to help the Steve family get some house projects and clean-up done while their mom took a much-needed vacation. My mother became head organizer of this group effort, and subsequently our family started spending much more time with Steve and especially his family. It was during this time and afterwards that I became best friends with his younger sister, Sarah, and our families really started connecting. Steve’s sisters were always telling me how awesome of a guy he was, how he would make a great husband someday, but I was always like, why are you telling me this? That’s nice for someone, but not me! He was like a big brother to me – I thought he was awesome and really liked him as a person but couldn’t see us ever getting together. Apparently he felt similarly: we had a wonderful friendship but he didn’t ever see it going anywhere.
Fast forward to the year 2007 when my family relocated to Colorado. After we moved, Steve and I had literally no communication at all. Our family visited CA a couple of times, but I only spoke with him briefly those times and never thought of him as a possible romantic interest. Steve in the meantime had been pursuing a few other relationships and didn’t think he would ever date me. God had other plans, however.
In May of 2014 I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Piano Performance from Colorado Christian University. Right around the same time GoFormz, the computer company Steve had co-founded several years earlier, really started booming in the industry. All the years I thought that there was nothing happening between us, he had been secretly admiring and hoping for a chance to pursue a relationship with me. Everything lined up perfectly that summer, and Steve called my dad in early July to ask for his permission to date me. Our first conversation as a couple was on July 5th, and he came to visit me a few weeks later. The first few weeks were wonderful though somewhat difficult as we navigated the beginnings of a long-distance relationship, and we fell in love after just about a month. There was still plenty to work through and learn about each other, but as time progressed the security we felt with each other as our possible mate for life grew by leaps and bounds.
After a couple months into the relationship, I told Steve that if he ever asked me to marry him I would say yes. He had already felt quite confident that I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, and we knew without a doubt where our relationship was heading. In October on one of his visits out here to CO, we went ring shopping together and found the perfect forever-ring. The following month, on November 27th, he proposed to me at sunset on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Palos Verdes, California. Of course I said “YES”!!!!
Throughout our whole journey, God has been clearly present and guiding us in our deepening attraction to each other with Him at the center. Both of us sought to keep pursuing Christ first as the glue to our relationship. Our goals and vision for marriage, family, and ministry lined up perfectly – and we even put the toilet paper roll on the same way! :) We feel confident that the Lord brought us together for a purpose and are excited to see what the future holds!

Spring Break!

In our homeschool we take many breaks throughout the year which is why we school through much of the summer.  However, this is the first year we have actually taken a scheduled spring break and we are having fun this week!  Enjoy some pictures from our visit to the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  My mom took care of Katherine so we could stay a bit longer.  It’s been fun!  Stay tuned for Wednesday’s adventure!

Check out the giraffe!

Check out the giraffe!

This hippo was playing peek-a-boo in the water then suddenly got up on the rock on posed!

This hippo was playing peek-a-boo in the water then suddenly got up on the rock on posed!

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Jonathan's favorite place at the museum - Space Odyssey.

Jonathan’s favorite place at the museum – Space Odyssey.

A picture with a camel from the Silk Road exhibit.

A picture with a camel from the Silk Road exhibit.

Posing with a mythical creature exhibit.

Posing with a mythical creature exhibit.

Riding on the carousel at the zoo.

Riding on the carousel at the zoo.

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Waiting for a train that would never come.  The train did not get fixed that day!

Waiting for a train that would never come. The train did not get fixed that day!

A BIG kitty!

A BIG kitty!

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