Sunday, July 19, 2009

Carrie's 6th Birthday!

Carrie had a bowling party this year. We celebrated a week early since we'll be leaving for vacation the day after her actual birthday - July 22. We had a great time (this mom highly recommends the bowling alley for an easy, stress free party!) And Carrie has a really great bunch of friends that made the day so fun and special!

Thought I'd show off the invitations I made - turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself!

Carrie and Ethan

And the bowling alley presented Carrie with a bowling pin for all her friends to sign. She loved that!

Summer 2009 - Part 1

This summer is dissappearing fast and I'm so very far behind on posting pictures of the kids! Before we head to Atlanta for our family vacation, some pictures from May and June to share...

Ethan L O V E S strawberries!

Carrie does not like strawberries, but she loves anything satin,
so she was thrilled to get some very girly satin hand-me-down pajamas from her cousins.

One afternoon after running some errands in Fort Walton, we let the kids play at this really nice playground right in the middle of a shopping center. There's a train that rides around the parking lot, a water park area, and a dry playground. The had a blast!

And of course, it can't be summer without an afternoon playing in the sprinkler. (I guess the trampoline makes it look a little dangerous, but they really weren't jumping that high!)

This is a picture of my front flower bed.

One weekend, we got to keep Abigail and Hannah while they're mom and dad took a short trip. They are both so sweet!

Letter to My Precious Carrie

July 18, 2009

Dear Precious Carrie,

Tonight was such a special night! I want to tell you a little bit about it so you can remember it even when your childhood memories fade as you grow older. We've been reading a bible story book each night that Aunt Katie Spearman gave us, The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. We've already read through the whole book once over the last several weeks, and have just started back at the beginning again a few nights ago.

Well, when you realized that tonight would be the story of the Serpent in the Garden, you did not want to ready that story. You kept asking over and over if we could just skip that one and go to the next one. But we told you no, that it was important to learn all the stories, and that Adam and Eve's sin is pretty important to the whole story of the Bible. Here's a little excerpt from tonight's story...

Adam and Eve lived happily together in their beautiful new home. And everything was perfect - for a while.
Until the day when everything went wrong.
God had a horrible enemy. His name was Satan. Satan had once been the most beautiful angel, but he didn't want to be just an angel - he wanted to be God. He grew proud and evil and full of hate, and God had to send him out of heaven. Satan was seething with anger and looking for a way to hurt God. He wanted to stop God's plan, stop this love story, right there. So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden.
Now, God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: "Don't eat the fruit on that tree," God told them, "Because if you do, you'll think you know everything. You'll stop trusting me. And then death and sadness and tears will come."
(You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn't need him. And they would try to make themselves happy without him. But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn't be life at all.)
As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve. "Does God really love you?" the serpent whispered. "If he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious, fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy."
The snake's words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. Does God love me? Eve wondered. Suddenly she didn't know anymore...
Eve picked the fruit and ate some and Adam ate some too.
And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children: "God doesn't love me."
And terrible pain came into God's heart. His children hadn't just broken the one rule; they had broken God's heart. The had broken their wonderful relationship with him. And now he knew everything else would break. God's creation would start to unravel, and come undone, and go wrong. From now on everything would die - even though it was all supposed to last forever.
You see, sin had come into God's perfect world. And it would never leave. God's children would be always running away from him and hiding in the dark. Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again.
God couldn't let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him. There was only one way to protect them.
"You will have to leave the garden now," God told his children. "This is no longer your true home, it's not the place fore you anymore."
But before they left the garden, God made clothes for his children, to cover them. He gently clothed them and then he sent them away on a long, long journey - out of the garden, out of their home.
Well, in any other story, it would all be over and that would have been...The End.
But not in this Story.
God loved his children too much to let the story end there. Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan - a magnificent dream. One day, he would get his children back. One day, he would make the world their perfect home again. And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.
You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children - with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God's children would miss him always, and long for him - lost children yearning for their home.
Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: "It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I'm going to do battle against the snake. I'll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I'm coming back for you!"
And he would. One day, God himself would come.
(from The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, p.28)

So, we read that story again tonight even though you really didn't want to! And I could tell when we were tucking you in that you were still thinking about it. So after I got Ethan tucked in, I asked you what you were thinking about. You seemed to be starting to understand that God had planned out the whole story from the very beginning. Even knowing that Satan would trick Adam and Eve and that they would believe him and sin and mess everything up, God had still decided to start His plan into motion. Even knowing that we would sin and that Jesus would have to die for us to be forgiven, He still wanted to create us and love us.

You seemed a little worried about where exactly Satan is now. I think you worried, that if he slithered up to Adam and Eve and lied to them, he might come for you any time! So we talked about how Satan is still a liar, and that he is not anything like God. God is the creator of everything - even the angels - and Satan is just a fallen angel. God is all-knowing, all powerful, He is everywhere all the time, and He is faithful and true and will always be the same. God is God, He always has been and He always will be. And we can trust in Him to defeat Satan when Jesus comes back again to make everything new. You wanted to know if Satan had a body or if he is a spirit like God. You asked, "if God is a spirit and Jesus has a body, then will we have a body in heaven or just our spirit?" (Pretty good questions for an almost 6 year old!) Then you wanted to know, "If God's Spirit - the Holy Spirit - could live inside people, then could Satan's spirit come inside people?" We talked about how people still choose not to believe God's Word, and they believe Satan's lies and disobey God, but that is different than when the Holy Spirit lives inside someone's heart.

You asked, "When does the Holy Spirit come to live inside me? I believe that Jesus is God's Son, that he is perfect, that he died for me, and that he loves me. What else do I need to believe?" So I told you that when you believed all those things and trusted in Jesus to forgive you and save you from your sins and to be in charge of your life, that you could just pray and ask Him to come live inside you and He would - forever! Then I asked you if you were thinking about praying about that tonight and you said, "well, I already believe all those things, so I want Jesus to live in my heart forever."

I asked you if I could go get Daddy to come pray with us since this was such a special thing to pray about, and you were excited about that. So we talked a little bit more with Dad, and you told him everything you told me about what you believe. Dad asked you about sin, and you told him that we sin when we disobey God and that we all sin all the time. And that is why Jesus had to die on the cross so he could forgive our sins and we would be able to be with God. Dad wanted to make sure that you understood that you are a sinner, and I think you do. (You told me a few weeks ago that you learned that Jesus was perfect and he could die for our sins since we are not perfect, cause if we died for our own sins, we would just die forever since we're not perfect, but Jesus could be raised from the dead because he's perfect and he's God!)

So after all that, we knelt beside your bed with you and you prayed and asked God to forgive your sins. You thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for you and asked him to come live inside your heart and to be in charge of your life!

I want you to know how happy I am for you and how proud I am of you for thinking about things that are hard to think about. I want you to know that I will always be praying - that you will continue to grow in your faith in God and in your understanding of His Word. More than anything, I want you to trust Him and the plans He has for your life. Just as God had a plan for the world from the very beginning, He had a plan for you - Carrie - before the world was created. Everything His Word teaches about how he wants you to live, is a part of that plan. I pray that God will give you a desire to obey Him, to trust Him and to love Him more than anything else in the world. You will make mistakes and sometimes bad things will happen around you (and even to you), but God will always be with you because you belong to Him. He will finish His plan for you just like He finished His plan to save us.

I love you so very, very much sweet girl. I love your silliness, your courage to try new things that frighten you, your instinct to look out for others that are smaller than you, and I love your sweet, sweet heart. Remember that even though the Holy Spirit lives inside you now, your heart is sinful and deceitful. Satan will still try to trick you to believe his lies instead of God's truth. Be careful to learn the truth every day so that when you hear the lies, you will recognize them and know where they come from!

You are so precious to me, my delightful daughter, and as you grow up into the young lady that God wants you to be, I will be praying for you to know how much He loves you and how thankful I am that He gave you to me.

a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck,