Friday, November 30, 2007

Blast from the Past

Remember when Malachi used to do this? I found this picture and cropped and re-colored it and I think it captures his former signature stance well. I love how the sepia tone brings out the shadows and adds depth to his chubbiness. My little man has outgrown his thumb sucking, but he hasn't outgrown his chubbiness!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Want It!

Really, have you ever seen T-shirts as spiffy as these?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Ben-Ezra Kids

For most of my life I was one of the "Ben-Ezra kids" and now that title has been passed down to these worthy recipients.

Cute, aren't they?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Family (Well, except for that guy)

We've had a smashing time with the S. Ben-Ezras in town. Yesterday we went to a beach/playground and I got some great pictures of everyone. Here are just a few for starters. There's more to come!

(Just a small note: that funny-looking guy in the odd hat really isn't related to me. He just happened to be at the beach at the same time so I snapped his picture, too. Really, there's no relation at all.)

Sabbath Quote

"I’ve found a Friend, O such a friend! He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life, but His own Self He gave me!
Naught that I have mine own I call, I’ll hold it for the Giver,
My heart, my strength, my life, my all are His, and His forever."

---excerpt from hymn by James G. Small

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Daily Thanks #10

My dear husband has been listening to this song with some frequency of late so it's been going through my mind a lot these days. That's okay since it just makes me laugh.

Done listening to the song? Good. Quirky, eh? That brings me to my Daily Thanks for the day: I'm thankful for Joshua's silly side. Most of you don't get to see his silly side since he's usually mild-mannered around many people, but I know some of you have seen his duck-fighting, Fenton de Bruce side, too. And while he may never show off the famous "Joshy Shuffle" dance in public, I get to enjoy his goofiness and so do our kids. We have some very, very silly moments in our family and I can't throw all the blame for that on the kids. I am so thankful that I married a man that makes me laugh at myself and also at his silly ways.

Thank you, Almighty Matchmaker, for pairing me up with the perfect man for me- someone who leads me in righteousness, love, and laughter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Daily Thanks #9

Today I thank God for giving me my creativity. For letting me see things that others don't get to see. I'm not trying to be proud or anything, I know there are many others who are more creative than I am. I am just grateful for how God made me. That I get to see waffles made of snow and flowers in soda bottles, stars on my dining room ceiling, a steaming cup of coffee on my kitchen door, the beauty of words scrawled by a familiar hand, woodgrain that dances like a rippling creek, the sun rising and fighting a storm for its right to shine- only to lose that battle, the choreography of skilled fingers strumming a guitar. All these things I see in the little corner of the world in which I live. My life is filled with beauty and I am so thankful that I get to see it.

Thank you, Master Artist, for giving me, Your apprentice, eyes to see Your art and the desire to create some of my own.

Daily Thanks #8

I'm thankful for my oven. On Monday I baked six dozen mini muffins, eight loaves of quick bread, a batch of cookies and a spice cake. As I was baking, I realized how much I use and enjoy my oven without really valuing it. My oven is one of those things that it considered a "necessity." I just set the temp, pop things in and out they come, all baked and ready to eat. My home wouldn't be what it is without my oven and yet I can't remember ever thanking God for it or for the yummy things that get baked in it.
I could go on and on about my oven, but I need to go now- I have a lasagna to bake.

Thank You, God, for my oven and all the tools that I use every day and that make my life easier, but that I never thank you for. Forgive me for my ingratitude. Thank you for giving me so many beautiful gifts so that I've lost count of them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our Thanksgiving Letter

We make it our practice to send out a Thanksgiving letter and family photo to various family members. I realize most of you will have received this in the mail, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving!

There’s a real nip in the air these days so apparently fall has finally arrived! There were times during those unseasonably warm months when we weren’t sure if fall would ever come or if it had simply decided to leave us with an endless summer instead. But it’s fall now and that means it’s time for our annual Thanksgiving letter. It doesn’t seem possible to sum up this last year and write it down in letter form. The ups and downs of the year were many and while we had many “up” moments, we also had many “down” times, too. But, true to His promises, God never fails to pull us through the bad times and bring us out again rejoicing at His goodness.
The biggest change for our family this year was the arrival of kid #3- Evangeline Felicity (or Lil’ Vay-Vay as we like to call her.) What a fun little critter she is! Lily and Malachi adore their baby sister and sometimes tend to love her a bit too much for her own good. Many a time we’ve had to rescue her from being over- snuggled! Having three kids has been quite an adventure so far and if what other parents tell us is true, then it will only get more exciting as time goes on.

Lily, our beautiful four-year-old, is constantly growing in helpfulness, thoughtfulness, creativity, and tenderness. She is getting to the age when she can actually help with chores and projects instead of hindering them. Her favorite chore to do is setting the table for dinner and she likes to fold the napkins in different and unique ways. She is always asking questions and, amazingly, she remembers the answers we give her. We are so privileged as her parents to see the world through her eyes. We just need to remember to take the time to stoop down to her level and listen as she unfolds to us the mysteries of flowers, and clouds and piggy toes.

While Lily asks questions about the world around her, Malachi wants to learn everything through experience. If there’s a button to push, a rock to throw, a bucket of dirt to spill, a puddle to jump in- Malachi will be there doing whatever mischief he can accomplish with his little hands. We’ve lost count of the times when we’ve found him in the middle of some mess with a charming smile and his best attempt at looking innocent on his face. What else is to be expected from a three-year-old boy? And yet, in the midst of the chaos he produces, a love of music is growing in him. He walks around the house humming “La donna e mobile” as sung by Pavarotti. More often than not, he is singing, humming or playing some sort of “instrument” that he’s made from some of his toys. It will be interesting to see how God uses Malachi’s gifts and talents as he gets older.

Speaking of talents, Evangeline has a real knack for mobility. She took her first step at only 7 1/2 months of age and now she’s almost nine months old and walking around like crazy! When she’s ready to do something she just decides to do it and does it all the way. Instead of attempting to climb up one step, she flew right up the whole flight of stairs at breakneck speed (with mommy right behind her insuring that she didn’t actually break her neck!) Our little Evangeline has truly been “good news” to us as her name means and we look forward to seeing her share the good news of Jesus with the whole world as she grows.

So what can we say about us, Joshua and Adiel, the parents and backbone of our little family? Our days are spent doing the same mundane things that husbands and wives and daddies and mommies have done for ages. Sometimes it’s disheartening to be stuck in the same everyday things, but sometimes God graciously grants us a glimpse of what it is that we are really doing. We are building the Kingdom of Heaven. With each day that Joshua goes to work and every dirty diaper that Adiel changes, we are bringing glory to our Creator. Sometimes we feel that what we do isn’t very important or that we’re not really having an impact on the world around us, but then we step back and look at God’s bigger plan and we know that we are exactly where He wants us and doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. And for that knowledge we are truly thankful.

God’s blessings to us this year are really too numerous to list in this short letter, but one thing that we can say is how grateful we are for people like you, our family and our friends. Some of you we don’t see nearly often enough and some of you we get to see regularly, but we love each of you very much and thank our God that you are a part of our lives.

With our love and thanks,
the Gardners

Daily Thanks #7

I am thankful for my giggling children. Right now two of them are sitting at the table making monster noises and being goofy in general. And as they make each other laugh they make me laugh, too.

Thank You, Father of Joy, for giving my children laughter that bubbles out and splashes like a waterfall. Thank you that I can share their mirth today. May I never be too busy or cranky to laugh along.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Daily Thanks #6

I am thankful for the three little voices that sing around our dinner table. Hearing my little children sing the Psalms with gusto (and even Evangeline adds her voice to the throng) is one of the most beautiful parts of my life. I'm so thankful that we can teach our children to sing to our God whether it be a song of praise or a "sad song" as Lily calls some songs (like Psalm 22.)

Thank you, Father, for giving my children hearts and voices to sing to You. Ever help us in our endeavors to make a joyful noise to You.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Daily Thanks #5

I am thankful that right now all three of my children are down for nap/quiet time and they are actually being quiet.
Enough said.

Thank you, O Maker of peace, for this moment.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Amen to That!

During our morning Bible reading time I usually ask the kids to tell me something they want to pray for. Today Malachi mentioned his prayer request, (he prayed that he wouldn't see fire trucks) but Lily was having trouble coming up with something so I suggested she could pray for God to help her to share. Malachi pipes up, "Yeah!!! Pray for that! Lily should share her toys!"

It's so nice to know he's impartial on these issues.

Daily Thanks#4

I'm thankful for my body. I'm thankful that I have ten fingers and ten toes, two legs that move well most of the time, two arms that can work hard, eyes that see beauty and everything else, ears that hear the sounds of life, a mouth that speaks and eats (though both occupations tend to get me in trouble), a belly that has been home to my babies. I'm thankful for the body parts inside that perform not so pleasant, but necessary tasks, my shoulders that many a child has cried on, and my feet that move and dance for the glory of the King.
I'm thankful that my body is beautiful and that I can control it and move it and use it to accomplish my tasks of life.

Thank you, O God, for my body and thank you for taking on a body of your own. Bless my body and enable me to serve you well with it.

(As I was writing this Daily Thanks I thought of this post by Seth.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Daily Thanks#3

I'm thankful for oatmeal. For steaming bowls of it on a cold, snowy day, for plump raisins and a sprinkling of brown sugar, for the faint swirl of cinnamon throughout. I'm thankful for the way it fills my belly and warms me up. I'm thankful that I can start my day with the simple little pleasure of hot oatmeal.

Thank you, my Sustainer, for not only providing food to nourish me, but granting me the enjoyment of it as well.Thank you, God, for oatmeal.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Daily Thanks #2

Today my Daily Thanks is very simple: I'm thankful for today. I went shopping with the kids and survived, I cleaned and organized a few things and I'm listening to some great music right now (it's Flyleaf in case you're wondering.)
It's gray and rainy outside, but it's warm and cheerful inside. It's a good day.

Thank you, Yahweh, for orchestrating today- for me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Daily Thanks #1

Well, it's time again for my annual Daily Thanks posts. I'm going to try to write a thankfulness post for each day leading up to Thanksgiving, but I'm sure I'll skip a few days here and there.

Today I'm thankful for being able to enjoy corporate worship with the same people that I'll be spending eternity with. Today when I sat in church and heard the Word of God and responded to Him with prayer and song, I got a sweet taste of what the rest of my life will be like after I die. (Though I'm pretty sure we won't be singing with piano accompaniment in heaven.)

Thank you, Father, for this sweet taste of Home.