Monday, June 28, 2010

Bird Enthusiasm

(a male Scarlet Tanager)

Since living in this house we have found the trees surrounding it to be perfect habitats for various interesting birds. Outside the dining room Ethan's folks put up a bird feeder that has been great entertainment during our meals. We enjoy identifying the different kind of birds and talking about them with our kids. Last winter Peter John and Ethan built a bird house to hang from the birch tree. For a while this spring we had a fat male sparrow (whom we named "Mr. Nezzer) who had taken up residence, but since he couldn't seem to attract a mate, he abandoned it. Then this summer we had a beautiful pair of bluebirds who have nested and are raising some young in the bird house. What a pleasure to watch!

We know the day they hatched because the male bluebird made a very noisy call over and over again one evening while Peter John was trying to sleep in his tent. We also could hear the wee chirping of the baby bluebirds inside. We are not sure which day they will fly out of the box, but we will miss them when they leave. The kids named the male and female "Isaac and Rebekah." Very cute!

Some of the other birds we have enjoyed watching are chickadees, chipping sparrows, and housefinches. The kids also love bluejays, but we don't see them very often.

Today Ethan and I were hiking in Maplewood State Park when we spotted the most vibrant small red bird we have ever encountered. No, it was not a cardinal. It was red with a dark, black wing. We looked it up at home and discovered it to be a scarlet tanager. The amazing thing about these birds is they migrate all the way to tropical central and South America in early August. Then they return in the spring to feed on the abundance of insects and berries in the woods of North America. It was amazing to me that that special little bird had made a trek from the northern parts of the U.S.A. all the way down to the tropical parts of South America. We enjoyed its beautiful song as well. Glory to God.

We also saw an interesting hawk today that was being chased by sparrows. It was quite a sight to see! We saw a whole group of small birds chasing a large bird of prey and trying to attack it. They must have been keeping him away from their young. This hawk was not a red-tailed hawk, but was yellow in color with shorter wings than the red-tailed. He must have had quite a day today with those pesky sparrows!

Another favorite from the day was all the little yellow goldfinches. These are some of my favorite birds to see! Thanks, God, for all the beautiful birds you have created and sustained by your caring hand. Birds have nests and food to eat thanks to You. Thanks that we get to enjoy these little creatures here in Minnesota. What a delight.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Training Your Children to Understand Money

Here is an outline of Randy Alcorn’s article on ways that parents can help their kids learn to think biblically about money.

1. Give your children something greater than money—your time.

2. Use life’s teachable moments to train your children.

3. Take a field trip to a junkyard.

4. Teach your children to link money with labor.

5. Teach your children how to save.

6. Get your children started on the lifetime adventure of giving.

7. Provide your children with financial planning tools.

8. Teach your children how to say “No.”

9. Show your children how family finances work.

10. Never underestimate the power of your example.

Read the whole thing for an explanation of each point. It is well worth your time... parent or not.

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Happy Summer! PTL!

Gretchen and Peter John helping out at Grandma and Grandpa Frank's 40th anniversary.
Our fisherman!
Amy on our new swingset! God gave this to us for free from a neighbor! An answer to prayer to help make the summer happier for our kids.
Here is some progress from our garden. We have enjoyed the fresh lettuce SO much.
More pix of the garden with carrots and raspberries in the background, zucchini and cucumbers in the middle and tomatoes in the front.
This picture reminds me of my mom when she used to wear a handkerchief while gardening. I have been enjoying the garden so much this year. What a blessing it has been, and one we can share with others.
Lizzy enjoying the new tree swing Ethan built. Lovin' it!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

God's Providence and Goodness

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. -Ephesians 2:8-10
Praise God for the gift of eternal life that Jesus freely gives to all who come to Him in faith. We were truly lost in all the sin that filled our hearts and defined our sinful nature. Now we have been brought near to God through the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all our sin and unrighteousness. Thank you for the freedom that we have in You, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who is freely given to all who ask. Thank you for the home that is waiting for us in heaven where God dwells. Thank you for the abundant life that all believers in Jesus are given. We love you, Lord.

These verses are a truly great reminder of the rest that we have in knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior. We do not work for our freedom nor for our salvation. We live by faith in the Son of God. The works that He has prepared for us are something that we simply walk in.

God is doing a great work in this world full of lost, sinful people, whom He loves. He has given Ethan works to do by His grace in Kenya and Ukraine this July and August. These works are not something that we have earned or gained by our righteous life, but they are works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in. I pray that God will use Ethan to encourage people and bring people to the truth of God's greatness and His great love and mercy. Please pray for us as Ethan prepares for this short-term teaching trip.

The preparations for the trip are going well. So far, Ethan has applied for his Kenya visa, and he has also gotten most of his vaccinations taken care of. The books and other preparations are currently in the works. God has already provided for the costs of going to Ukraine, and, to our knowledge, 1/3 of the costs for Kenya have been provided so far. Praise God, and all glory to our Redeemer and King.