Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas photo fun

Before I begin describing our recent Christmas photo fun, I have to quickly say the semester just ended and my husband took his last final on Wednesday! Of course, there will be, Lord willing, many more semesters to follow, but we are so thankful for God's goodness and faithfulness to us as a family.

Now for more Ellison family fun:
We try and send out Christmas photo cards each December. Granted, I don't usually get them mailed until the week before Christmas, but I am really just thrilled to send them out at all. I am not a go get 'em type girl, as my friends and family can truthfully verify. Actually, when doing on of those personality profiles, I was described by some friends who know me quite well as the why stand when you can sit? personality. Very accurate description of me.

Anyway, I thought I would be very brave the other day during a Kindergarten break between math and reading lessons and try to take the Christmas photo of the kids. By myself. Those of you who know me probably know where this is going. Honestly, though, I thought this was a good idea. My kids love having their pictures taken. If they even see the camera, they will ask for me to take their picture.

I got all three littles' good clothes on, their hair combed, and even got their shoes on. I positioned them all in front of the tree. Carter here. Josh there. Sophie in front. So far, so good.

Here we go. As I say, "Smile everyone!", the fun stops cold and Sophie starts making faces like this:

and this:

The fun just kept up on coming! Soon, Sophie's pouty faces turned into outright bawling:

Here's a fun shot of Sophie after I had to take her dress off due to her excessive sobbing which led to gagging:

After several Mommy/Sophie meetings, I got her all cleaned up and the Lord helped her to have a more cheerful heart. We ended up with some really sweet moments. Here is one I was able to capture with my camera:
Of course, at this point, poor Carter's mouth was cramping! Josh just goes with the flow- it's all good with Josh. One more, just for fun:

Every time I think about this experience, I laugh out loud. Of course, I do not laugh at my daughter's poor attitude. But I laugh at motherhood and all its challenges, at the work required for even the most seemingly simple tasks, and at the joy that comes from raising our children for the glory of God. Worthy work, indeed!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Sunday afternoon well spent

After church yesterday we rode over to Duke University (about five minutes from our church) to walk around and enjoy some time together. We had never been to Duke so we were in for quite a treat. The campus was beautiful and the chapel was, well, astounding.

Here are some photos:
The sun is in our eyes!

The inside of the chapel, facing the back. There was no way to really capture the scale and grandeur of the architecture, stone carvings, stained glass, and woodwork (at least with my camera!). But I did get to capture these three wonderful creations:

Scott found a great little alcove for a photo of the kids. If you are on our Christmas card list, you might be seeing this one again!

We had a great time and I was amazed at the skill and craftsmanship displayed in such an impressive edifice. I have lots of thoughts on this and on several statements recorded by the visionary for this building project, but will have to save those for later. For now, Kindergarten is calling my name!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Family Altar, part 2

A few more thoughts on family worship:

Earlier, I spoke about there being no sense of duty in our motivation for doing family worship. I think that statement needs a little clarification! On our better days, we do family worship out of our sense of joy in doing so and out of our great need to gather our family together to meet with God.

However, we often experience difficult days when our hearts do not yearn for God or we have stuffed ourselves full of worldly pleasures and our desire for God has been dulled. Or maybe we are exhausted from the needs and demands of the day. What then?

These are not times to withdraw from the Lord, but rather when we should simply go about family worship in the same manner as we normally do. We can always come honestly to God, and express our lack of affection (He knows anyway!) and our need for Him to rekindle our love.

Expect that there will days when family worship will not happen. We can be providentially hindered by all sorts of things that occur during the course of the week. I have read about Elisabeth Elliott's upbringing, when her father led in family worship twice a day! That is very commendable, but may not be (I want to say probably will not be) doable for most families. Do not read of examples like this and feel like you do not measure up (like I often do!)- rather take the principle and ask God how you can apply it to your own life. (More on that in my next post.)

As with so many other areas of our lives, sometimes we can only do the best we can (and our best is usually greatly lacking) and rest in Christ, knowing that God's mercies are new every morning and only His faithfulness is great (our faithfulness will never be great, and is always the result of God's grace in our lives). And that is a reason to worship.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The family altar

Our family has always desired to gather daily to worship, pray, and read the Scriptures together. Over the past week, by the grace of God, and thanks to my husband's leadership, we have all joined together before bedtime to worship as a family. These have been some of our sweetest times together as a family.

Unfortunately, I think both my husband and I were surprised at the joy family worship would bring. And it has brought joy. Or rather, God has given us joy as we have retreated for a few moments to focus on Him in song, prayer, and Bible reading.

In the past, we have had the tendency to think of family worship as adding to our list of duties to be performed at the end of the day. You know- clear table, do dishes, brush teeth, bath time, jammies... do family worship. But we have discovered that we do family worship because of the delight and joy we have from fellowship in God's word after the bombardment of the day and the constant pull of sin and our own desires to gain utmost importance in our hearts.

There is no duty there, but a deep need is met in our hearts! We need it, we desire it, we find pleasure in it.

Now, I anticipate that there will come a day (probably very soon), when sin, busyness, or laziness will win for first place in our hearts. I anticipate this because of the truth of Romans 7 and my own experience in the spiritual disciplines. And I also anticipate that God's grace will be present then just as it is now to restore our focus and to remind us of the pleasure to be found at the family altar.