Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rainy Days and Waterfalls

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and her family went down to Nashville, Tennessee on vacation.  The trip itinerary, carefully planned and eagerly anticipated, basically consisted of two main parts; first some time in the city of Nashville, followed by some time in the surrounding mountains doing some hiking and, in particular, visits to some waterfalls.  

During the first half of the trip, it rained and rained.  Due to the yucky weather, many of my friends' city plans had to be adjusted or altogether abandoned.  They enjoyed some nice, unplanned, restful family time, but they also couldn't help feeling pretty bummed out about many of their plans getting rained out.  

But then, in the second half of the trip, the weather cleared up, and something really great happened.  Due to all of the rain, the waterfalls that they visited were all at their fullest and strongest, bursting forth with unusual power and beauty.  As she admired those waterfalls, my friend’s first thought was to thank God for the rain that had caused the them to be so magnificent just then, when her family was there to enjoy them. 

That’ll preach!  Sometimes it rains.  Sometimes a lot.  But it's good to be reminded that even in the rainy times - whether times of storm and chaos, or times of persistent, dreary drizzle -  God is at work, planning and preparing to show His glory and love to us in surprising, powerful, and beautiful ways.  

Let's be patient in the rainy times.  Let's help each other hold on to hope and wait with expectancy for the blessings to come.  Let's live in the now and find the joy and blessings even in the rainy times.  Let's give thanks for and to a God who is working in all things for the benefit of those who love Him.  Let's appreciate the rain because it’s the same water that will in a few days be flowing over the waterfall.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

10.11.12 - Autumn Thoughts

Each year, I marvel at the beauty of all that is bright and/or green slowly turning to red, orange, and gold – and then, inevitably, to dull brown.

It struck me today that this process is actually none other than the slow but steady onset of DEATH and decay, and so in a sense it is really weird that I find so much beauty in it. Doesn’t seem right – except for one thing: I know that Spring is coming.

If I didn’t know that Spring would be coming in a few months, this process of dying would cease to be beautiful and wondrous and instead become sad, depressing, and terrible. But the hope and assurance of Spring coming just around the bend CHANGES EVERYTHING. This knowledge and hope makes it possible for beauty to exist even in the processes of death and decay.

Here’s an alliterative Autumn poem of hope for y’all:

Brown becomes beautiful because Bright beckons, bursting by and by… 

Spiritually speaking, we all live in Autumn and Winter, but praise be to God that those of us who trust and follow Christ can live daily in the hope of Spring.

Enjoy the beauty of Autumn this year, and hear these encouraging words of hope from the Bible:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19a)

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… (Hebrews 6:18b-19a)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Monday, July 4, 2011


Happy Independence Day, everybody! Today is indeed a day to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy and the rich heritage that we have as Americans. I hope that your 4th of July is free of fear and instead has a distinctly "thanksgiving" feel to it - not in terms of turkey and dressing and football but in terms of GRATITUDE! Enjoy the fireworks, friends, family, and frankfurters. And give thanks.

As this day approached, I was thinking a lot about freedom and what it means. I decided to do a quick word search (using - a great tool), in English (not the original languages - note the word "quick"!), to see how the biblical authors used the words that we translate into "free" and "freedom". Below are most, certainly not all, of the passages that I found. (Note: I mostly avoided "free" as an adjective and the adverb "freely" and selected passages that seem to be talking about the state of being "being free" or "having freedom".)

Interestingly, the first passage that came up was from Genesis 2, when God told man "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden"... I encourage everyone to read these passages today, this week, or this month and reflect on what freedom is. How is the author using the word? Is that different from how I most often use it? What is the context of each particular usage? From what, exactly, are we freed? And what are we freed TOWARD - freed up to do? What's the point, as it were, of freedom anyway?

Much of what you will read below was written by the apostle Paul, often writing as a political/religious prisoner. The thing that jumped out at me most was that just about as often as Paul talks about being free, he also talks about THEN voluntarily becoming slaves! Slaves to righteousness, slaves to God! So in a sense, the bible says that slavery (servanthood, servitude) is better than freedom - as long as we choose the right Master.

On the 4th of July, American Christians (or Christian Americans?) are often sorely tempted to participate in mild and not-so-mild forms of idol worship, substituting American civil religion for truly following Christ. But the simple truth is that sometimes those two things overlap, and sometimes they don't. Let those of us who have chosen to follow Christ remember this year that we are Christians first, and only then Americans or whatever other names or labels we wear. I say with a heart that loves my country and is grateful to those who lead and defend it that I have a primary allegiance, and it is to Christ. The USA is one of many nations filled with God's children and God's handiwork. And anyone who has been blessed - and we in America have undeniably been lavishly blessed - is blessed TO BE A BLESSING! May that be truly said of us between now and July 4, 2012. God bless America! And everybody else, too!

On this Independence Day, let's also not forget about our utter DEPENDENCE on God as Creator, Provider, Sustainer, Comforter, Guide, and Holder of the future. On this day when we celebrate freedom, let's think about the truest, deepest meaning of that word, which is freedom IN CHRIST. Come what may in America - and I hope for and will do my part to work toward the good - I will place my HOPE in Jesus and only Jesus. As John wrote so long ago, “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Okay, enough of my words - let's just let the inspired words of Scripture speak:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;’” (Gen. 2:16)

“Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” (Psalm 25:17)

“Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.” (Psalm 31:4)

“This is what the wicked are like – always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.” (Psalm 73:12)

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” (Psalm 119:45)

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” (Proverbs 19:5)

“ 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,” (Isaiah 61:1-2)  (and again by Jesus in Luke 4)

“16 But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again. 17 “Therefore this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the LORD—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.” (Jeremiah 34:16-18)

“Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:29)

“Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.” (Luke 1:64)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

“…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

“‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or crucify you?’” (John 19:10)

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:24)

“So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 9:28)

“and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18)

“…the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.” (Romans 13:3)

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:32)

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1 Corinthians 9:19)

[The Believer’s Freedom] 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” (Galatians 2:4)

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)

“…you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:8)

“ 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. …” (Colossians 1:21-23a)

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

“…he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14b-15)

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25)

“ 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13)

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (1 Peter 2:16)

“18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” (1 Peter 2:18-20)

“He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.” (Revelation 20:3)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Ancient Book of Job and Why I Love Friday Night Lights

If you’ve been around me much during the past couple of years, you’ve surely heard me talk about my all-time favorite TV drama, Friday Night Lights. It’s a fantastic show with mostly great acting and mostly wonderful writing. They communicate truth so effectively in nearly all of the issues that they take on, be it sports, family, peer pressure, or racism. And FNL has, in the Taylor household, what I would call the most authentic portrayal of marriage that I’ve ever seen on TV. FNL is, on one level, a show about Texas high school football, but it’s really a show about life in small town America, and it’s reeeeeally just a show about … life. Which is why, I think, it has touched an audience far broader than the football crowd. All of which are reasons I love this show, but not the main reason. Recently, having finally purchased the DVDs and wrapped up our busy spring semester of campus ministry, Erin and I eagerly sat down and began our much-anticipated journey through the fifth and final season. I don’t remember the exact moment, but it was sometime during the first episode that I suddenly realized the key reason why I love this show and identify with it in such a deeply emotional way…

I love Friday Night Lights because the central message of the show is this: IT MATTERS. Stuff MATTERS. Life MATTERS. Your choices and mine – they MATTER.

At the end of the day, it matters how you treat your spouse, your co-workers, your enemies. It matters how you treat those “below” and “above” you in the hierarchies of our culture.

It matters how you raise your daughter. The little things said and done around the dinner table at the end of a stressful day, or over late-night games of ping pong in the garage – they are profoundly important because they are forming a young woman who will one day drive off to college (and maybe come running home from college brokenhearted).

It matters whether or not we take care of our domestic responsibilities – be they treating a spouse with respect, watching out for younger siblings while parents are absent, caring for an aging grandmother, or shepherding a loved one through a difficult time – even though this may mean sacrificing our own desires at times.

It matters that you do your best at your job, that you work hard and have integrity – no matter what that job is.

It matters that we do the work of forgiveness and reconciliation. Running away from relationships and conflict is not an acceptable option. Somehow this messy, difficult stuff is worth the effort in the long run.

Thinks like being thankful, playing by the rules, respecting our opponents, looking beyond someone's culture or the color of their skin, controlling our emotions, taming our tongues, being loyal, sitting down and having tough conversations, and giving grace – these things are important. They matter.

It’s for this reason that a simple TV show has resonated so deeply with me and with so many others. I find this central message – that my life and my choices truly matter – to be true both when I hold it up next to my own life experience AND when I hold it up next to the story and teachings of the Bible.

A recent entry in my daily devo book – an amazing collection of the excerpts from the many writings of Philip Yancey called Grace Notes – drove this point home to me. This is the entry for April 14th, called “The Wager” and taken from a book called Disappointment with God:

‘Is it absurd to believe that one human being, a tiny dot on a tiny planet, can make a difference in the history of the universe? It certainly seemed so to Job’s friends. The opening and closing chapters of Job, however, prove that God was greatly affected by the response of one man and that cosmic issues were at stake. (Later, in a message to the prophet Ezekiel, God would point with pride to Job – along with Daniel and Noah – as one of his three favorites.)
Job’s example, drawn in sharp relief, shows how life on earth affects the universe. I have come to believe that The Wager scene in chapter 1 [in which Satan charges that if times get tough people will quickly abandon God; God accepts the challenge and allows Job to be tested] offers a message of great hope to all of us – perhaps the most powerful and enduring lesson from Job. In the end, The Wager resolved decisively that the faith of a single human being counts for very much indeed. Job affirms that our response to testing matters. The history of mankind – and, in fact, my own individual history of faith – is enclosed within the great drama of the history of the universe.
The Bible rustles with hints that something like The Wager is played out in other believers as well. We are God’s Exhibit A, his demonstration piece to the powers in the unseen world. The apostle Paul pictured himself on public display: “We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.” And he commented, in an astonishing aside, “Do you not know that we will judge angels?”
We humans inhabit a mere speck of a planet in the outer suburbs of a spiral galaxy that is only one of about a million million such galaxies in the observable universe, but the New Testament insists that what happens among us here will, in fact, help determine the future of that universe. Paul is emphatic: “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.” Natural creation, “groaning” in travail and decay, can only be set free by the transformation of human beings.’

Some of those phrases – “rustles with hints” of deeper truth – the “travail and decay” of our daily lives – apply so perfectly to this TV show that I’ve come to love. And if ever there were “a tiny dot on a tiny planet”, it’s Dillon, Texas. So while I agree with all of the critical and popular acclaim for Friday Night Lights, I will spare you another gushing ode here about the quality of the writing and acting and instead simply commend the show to you for this main reason: It’s a story, or a tapestry of stories, beautifully told, that line up pretty dang well with THE story of our lives. Somehow, as I am immersed in these fictional stories based around a high school football team and a small town, that same, ancient, ever-true “message of great hope” that Yancey mentions wiggles its way into my heart anew.

We first hear the message in the Bible’s oldest book, and it echoes again and again, even now - even, occasionally, on our TV screens: Who you are, and what you do, and the choices you make, and the life you live – they are important. They matter. Because you matter.

“Clear eyes, full hearts … can’t lose.” (I had to say it.)

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10 (Amen!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Elsita Update - 1 June 2011

Elsita Update – 1 June 2011

Greetings grandparents and other friends of Elsa! Here’s another update, with several months’ worth of photos, on the life and times of my favorite little lady…

The baby mullet is going STRONG – we still haven’t cut her hair and have decided (I think – need to double-check this with Erin…) to wait until she turns two to consider a hair cut. After Erin recently cut her hair to donate it, and with me going with the balding/shaved head look for the foreseeable future, Elsa is the clear winner in the “longest hair in the family” category. Cute little pony tails and pig tails occasionally happen, but they don’t last long. She pulls them right out and rocks the mullet nearly all the time. Another fun hair-related fact is that for some reason only Daddy is allowed to comb her hair, so that’s a special time for the two of us.

She continues to grow up so fast. There are many times when we look at her and say “She’s so big!!!” – but there are just about as many times when we look at her and say “But she’s also still so little!”. It’s an amazing thing for Erin and me to have this tiny person living with us now, watching our every move, mimicking our behavior, repeating our words, telling us what she’s thinking, and depending on us for everything.

One of the fun new things we do is “RUN REAL FAST!” When I say that, she breaks into a huge grin and an all-out sprint, high-stepping in place for a couple of seconds while she decides which direction in which to run. I’m proud to say that Elsa definitely has some closeout speed. These days, when she takes off running, I have to run to catch up with her. She can cover some ground, so we have to keep an eye on her at all times. Also, she loves to play with any kind of ball and has a pretty good arm!

Speaking of which: She’s definitely a LEFTY!!! Writing, eating, throwing – all of them are done almost exclusively with the left hand. She gets this from both of her grandfathers.

Elsa’s favorite number – a.k.a. the only number she was willing to say for quite a while – is “TWO”. For a couple of months, whenever we counted things, Mama or Dada will say “one”, “two”, “three”, etc. and Elsa would follow along with “two”, “two”, “two”… It’s hilarious. In fact, we laughed so much that she realized it was funny and now sometimes does it just to pick on us! Then, one day several weeks ago, she caused both of our jaws to drop. The three of us were sitting there on the bed, and I was counting stuff. I said “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…” and Elsa calmly chimed in “nine”, without even looking up from what she was doing!!! We were like, WHAAAAAAT??? Then she did the same thing two more times in the following days. So, for the record, Elsa’s favorite number is clearly “two”, and in second place we have “nine”. In recent days I would say that “five” and “ocho” have emerged as contenders as well. Similar things have since happened with the letter “F” – the first one that she decided to say out loud with us while practicing the alphabet. These days she’s pretty strong on “O”, “M”, and “S” as well. But mostly when we say or sing the ABCs she just says “F, G, F, G” over and over.

In addition to “two”, Elsa also loves to say “tú” – Spanish for “you”. It’s one of the many words or phrases that she only says in Spanish, such as “agua” (water), “gracias” (thank you), “sí” (yes), “uva” (grape), “más” (more), “uno más” (one more), “otro/otra” (another), “uno” (one), “ocho” (eight), "bueno?" (hello? - when answering the phone), "ca-te" (for "aguacate", or avocado), "salud" (means "health" and is like saying "cheers" for a toast), and a few others I can’t think of at the moment… NOTE TO GRANDPARENTS: You need to know this list for when she comes to stay with you this week so you know what in the world she is saying!!! There are also lots of words that Elsa uses in both Spanish and English, depending on how the mood strikes her, I guess. The list includes “arriba / up”, “seis / six”, “siete / seven”, “quiero / want”, “beso / kiss”, and “te quiero / I love you”. And of course one of her favorite words these days is … “Elsa”. She talks about herself in the third person like she’s Rickey Henderson or something. Hopefully this will be a temporary thing!

Elsa keeps learning and saying new words every day. She repeats everything, and mostly does a great job with her pronunciation, though sometimes she prefers her own interpretations. For example, “gracias” still sounds a lot like “ga-ca”. Which reminds me of one last important warning for the grandparents in the area of words: You are probably going to hear Elsa say something that sounds EXACTLY like the infamous “f-word”. She is either saying “fox” or “flag” – NOT what you think she’s saying! We promise! She also surprises us just about daily with words we didn’t even know she knew. These are really fun moments. I’m always like WOOOOOOW, she is taking in so much more than we realize. It was fun when she started doing two-syllable words, and that stage passed quickly. She’s now stringing together sentences of five or six syllables on a regular basis. “I wanna go up”, “Elsa wanna go outside”, stuff like that. So fun.

In addition to reading – Elsa’s favorite word lately has been “BOOK!” – her other new favorite hobbies are basically anything she sees Mama doing around the house – such as sweeping, loading/unloading the dishwasher, watering plants, and washing dishes. Elsa LOVES to “WASH WASH WASH!!!” and soak anyone and anything in the vicinity in the process. She also loves to do puzzles, which she calls “Pieces!”, and she is OBSESSED with Elmo. We have four Elmo DVDs that Mama and Dada have pretty much memorized. Last night Elsa and I settled in to watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals and I said “We’re going to watch basketball now”. She usually enjoys watching ball games with me, but this time she just looked at me like I was making a terrible mistake and said “Nooooooo, Dada – Elmo on the TV!” It was funny.

She also loves to take a “sha-sha” (shower) now. We still give her a bath about half the time, but we’ve also discovered that it’s a lot faster to hand her to Dada in the shower. At first Elsa was not a fan of this, but then, once we added the bonus feature of splashing Mama, she really took to it. Now her “sha-sha” is a highlight of every other day or so, and though she doesn’t love the moments when water runs down her face, she tolerates them in exchange for the soap bubbles, shampoo, and bonding with / splashing either Dada or Mama.

Another favorite word these days is “baby”. She uses this to refer both to her little baby dolls – which she pushes around in a stroller, rocks, hugs, and kisses – and to the baby in Mama’s belly. Elsa definitely has some concept of the fact that Mama’s belly is growing because there’s a baby in there, and that she will soon be a big sister, though we’re not clear to what degree she understands all of this. For those of you who want to know McBaby #2’s name, well, you probably also know that we don’t plan on revealing that until the day she’s born. BUT, I will tell you that Elsa knows her sister’s name and says it frequently, so you are free to try to pry the info out of her. One good method might be to offer her a “pop pop” (lolly pop) – she LOVES those.

Elsa is really into singing and dancing lately. When the mood strikes her, she breaks into all kinds of silly dances. It’s really fun. She also likes to sing, sometimes. Sometimes I’ll try to get her to sing with me and she just says “No!” – or, my favorite, “Nope!” But other times we just sing and sing and make up silly songs about all kinds of things.

She also loves to color – on anything and everything in her path, including herself, or Dada. She’s usually pretty good about not coloring on things we ask her to avoid. And Mama is great at organizing fun art projects and creative outlets.

I’ll end with a few more fun recent stories:

Prayer: Elsa likes to say her prayers and is good about bowing her head and closing her eyes when it’s time to say a blessing before a meal. She also loves to say “Amen!” at the end – or somewhere in the middle, when she has determined that we have prayed enough. The other night she was all worked up about something, and we prayed about it, and it was really cool to see her little heart calm down instantly. I wish that worked every time! It’s a wonderful privilege to be teaching Elsa the most basic lessons about who God is, and how much God loves us.

Two Sherbies: Many of you know about Sherbet, more commonly known as Sherbie, Elsa’s favorite stuffed bear. Sherbie is SO special that we bought another one as a backup, in case anything were to happen. Well, one day Mama made the mistake of opening the closet in Elsa’s room where Elsa was able to spot Sherbie #2. She was sitting in the big chair, holding Sherbie #1, and then she just looked at us with this amazing face like “Heeeeeey, what in the world???” We were totally busted, and we can’t lie to her, so from that day forward Elsa has had TWO Sherbies. Often she is fine with just one Sherbie (or one Sherbie and Elmo, or one Sherbie and two baby dolls, or whatever), but just as often she requires the company of BOTH Sherbies in order to go about her day. So now we have the Sherbie twins, which is silly and fun.

Spanglish: Our favorite recent example of how Elsa is learning “Spanglish” was when she walked into the kitchen the other day and said to Erin “QUIERO CHEEEEEEEESE!”

What a joy to be raising this wonderful little lady! We thank you all for the prayers and encouragement that you send along on Elsa’s behalf and on ours as her parents. CAN’T WAIT to meet her little sister, which will be happening in about nine weeks or so!!!

Okay, enjoy the photos!

Elsa enjoyed her buddy/neighbor Natalia's car for several weeks. Green Monkey didn't enjoy it quite so much.

At breakfast with her "Mexican grandparents", Juanita and Jorge, when they passed through Puebla.

Rocking the pink jump suit and tennis shoes.

Ready for action!

Swinging in the park with Mama and Emerson.

Training her up early as a Braves fan.

I know you didn't just suggest that I pull for the Phillies.

Happy indeed.

With her "tiu" Raquel, who is studying in Argentina.

Another top five favorite word is "bottle", pronounced, for some reason, as "BOKKLE".

Putting on Dada's shoes is a favorite hobby.

Fun book with lots of little felt shapes to stick on the different pages - or on Dada.

Good times.

Watering the flowers with our buddy Hector.

Loves the water.

Finger painting!

Reaching for the red.

Finger painting turns to face painting.

Making Valentines to send to family.

These paint markers are really cool.

Love those lips.

Cleaning up, Elsa style.

Stickers are also very fun.

Meeting Hugo the bulldog.

Elsa telling Hugo he looks like a pig.

Pig face!

We see you, Mommy.

Got yogurt?

Putting on Dada's shoes never seems to get old.

Watering the plants.

Lucha libre, 4 vs. 1!

Working on our laptops.


Helping Mama with the dishes.

Eating with her buddy from next door, Emiliano.

At Africam Safari, questioning or protesting something...

Two creatures with the same hair! Especially when Elsa first wakes up in the morning.


Driving the van with Dada.

Lunch break!

Flower girl.

Extreme close-up!

Feeding the wallabies (small kangaroos).

Feeding the wallabies (small kangaroos).

Feeding the wallabies (small kangaroos).

Feeding the wallabies (small kangaroos).

Feeding the wallabies (small kangaroos).

Feeding the wallabies (small kangaroos).

With one of the larger red kangaroos.

At the Del Angel house in Pachuca, playing with Mocha the Beagle puppy.

Kicking that ball!


Too much cuteness for one photo!

Chowing down with her twin "Mexican cousins"!

Getting ready to do some mining in Real del Monte (also called Mineral del Monte).

The whole crew.

Riding up top. (Dada loves this.)

Fish face.

Elsa kept yelling "Jesus! Jesus!" So sweet to hear her say our Lord's name.

Elsa likes to give back rubs sometimes - so sweet!

We had a fun photo shoot on the slide - I'll let you guys add your own captions...













Dada, toys, good times.


First-ever peanut butter and jelly sandwich - a momentous occasion! (Only JIF for my princess, of course!)

Rare snuggly time.


More fun with Dada's shoes...

More fun with Dada's shoes...

More fun with Dada's shoes...

Fun with colors.

Learning to go poo poo on the potty!

Looking at the candles at the Puebla cathedral.

Eating chapulines (grasshoppers) with Daddy.


A true Cholulteca!


Gotta chew 'em up good.

I make messes like it's my job.

But how can you get upset when I look at you with these big blue eyes?

Hangin' with Kami, one of Elsa's very best buds.

Yeah, right, Dada. What ev.

Jumpin' on the trampoline with the neighbor kids.

So fun.

Elsa loves going down the big slide.

And attempting to climb up it.


Elsa go up! Elsa go up!



Love that expressive face.


She's into body art and will color all over herself - yet she hates to have her hands dirty and always wants to wash them off quickly.


War paint.

Trying to spray Dada.

No way!

Easter morning.

Opening Easter eggs.

Playing with toys. This one is possibly my favorite word in Spanish - "espantasuegras".

"Espantasuegras" means "scare mother-in-laws".

Yeah I love Play-Doh, so what's it to ya?

Front yard pool time. Reloading Dada's water gun.

Boots and Little People, you are going down.


Brushing that hair.

Fun green-only shot.


Brushing what little hair Dada has these days.

And the beard.

Pool fun with Boots (known to Elsa as Botas) and Elmo.

Markers again.

Easter eggs.

Not sure if this is a "cheese!" or an attempt to squeeze out some poo poo.


Little "traviesa".

Cracking herself up, as usual.

Notice the two different shoes.

Relaxation expert.

Love the exposed belly.

Dora. Aaaaaagain.


Goofing off.


Rocking out with Emerson.

Pig tails.



Strawberry popsicle, mmmmmmmm.

Elmo time. Love the crossed legs.


Supper with Carter and Emerson. At least I think that's Carter...

Chill out time with Dada. Notice my painted toe nails. I'm getting used to life with a house full of ladies...

These times are the best.

Not sure what was happenning on TV but it must've been pretty cool.



At our last lunch with Anna for a while - she's moving to London.

Elsa with our friend Fernanda participating in the process of making talavera pottery. This process dates back to the 1500s in Mexico, and even further en Europe. This shop is one of only 9 (or maybe 13) workshops that are certified as using the authentic, time-honored methods. Pretty cool.

Fernanda made a fun bracelet for Elsa that even matched her shirt.


We love to laugh.

Beginning of our weekend with Emerson!


Making pancakes with her hero.

Everybody had E names except for Dada...

Aftermath of fun art project followed by bath time.

Elsa cook! Elsa cook! She wanted to put on an apron like Mama.


A fun hiding game with Dada. We love to make up new games.


Best laugh in the world.

Two peas in a pod.

Apron time again.

Hanging with Sawyer. She loves being with Sawyer, but she gets really excited and plays pretty rough. One of the funniest things Elsa has done lately was when she asked Sawyer to pick her up!

For example! Thankfully Sawyer is both tough and a good sport.

Dr. Suess books are definitely our favorites.

And now we're off to make more photo-worthy memories!