Some "New" Old Pictures of Our Schoolhouse!

We got to see some "new" old pictures of our house last week! Our neighbor Harry, who is 94, attended school in our house, as well as his mother, aunts, and uncles. While we were swimming in his pool one afternoon, he came out with two very old photo albums. He was so happy and excited to share the pictures. For now, I was only able to take pictures of them with my phone so the quality isn't super great. We are hoping to get them scanned, digitally fixed, and then find a place to hang them in our house. I mean really, who can say they have pictures of their house from the early 1900's! :) 

This is actually the first school building on our property. This sat right on top of our garden area by the detached garage. It was a one room building and school was in session from 1885-1916. Then in 1916 it was knocked down and our house was built and became the new school building. 
Here's the school students from 1899-1900. The teacher was Charles Todd and they called him Chaz. 
This picture below is the class from 1906-1907. The teacher on the right side was Harrison Anderson. The boy on the bottom left in the first row is Harry's Uncle Doc Davis. Another uncle is last on the top right. And his mom Clora (they called her Cloe) is the first girl on the right in the 2nd to the top row. 
This is our house in the background. Harry's Grandmother Hattie is on the left, his Grandfather Arthur in the middle, and a friend Bertha on the right. The picture was taken in June of 1920 and at this time the school was a 2 room building. The school was called the Epworth School District #6 of Stoneycreek Township
This is a friend Lillian in front of the school in 1917. This is our front door, except we no longer have that neat school looking front door in the center. (The two side doors are still there). I really want to find a way to replicate that. 
This picture actually looks much better on my phone. It keeps showing up really dark here. 
Harry's Grandfather Arthur on the left, friends Bertha and Lilian in the middle, and his Grandmother Hattie on the far right. Taken in 1916. A better shot of our front door and the plaque on the bottom left of the entry that states the school name and date. We so wish that was still there, but it was removed sometime in the 30's we believe. 
This is a picture of Harry's Aunt Ginnie who is on the front of the horse, and her friend Martha, riding to school on a horse! This is the backside of our house. 
And a sweet picture of Harry when he was a boy around the time he started school in our house!
Harry and his sweet wife Sue are still married and live next door! They will be celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary this August!


A Change in Us, A Change in Parenting

Life has been a whirlwind the last two years...so much growth and so much change in our life. Grace and the Gospel is the driving force in ways we've never experienced before. We are seeing more and more how the Gospel is for every single aspect of our life, not just the day of our salvation. One area of focus, among many, that has changed a lot is our parenting.

Many Christian circles focus heavily on "well-behaved children." It is often a status symbol, a parent ranking system, an indicator of success or failure on the parents part. This was totally me. I know that my children cannot be good on their own, and that their own goodness is like filthy rags to God, and that the only goodness that counts is Jesus' goodness. But I'm realizing more and more that I don't always parent this way. That's what I believe, but I parent like the "law" (rules, and good behavior) will save them.

 So through much work in our hearts by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives, we have begun to forge a new road in our parenting- one that is based on Jesus and the Gospel. In our earlier years of parenting (I know, it's only been a whopping 4 years so far), we were much more focused on the outward obedience and training aspect. Part of that is the age...not many heart conversations happen with your 18 month old as they are simply learning to listen to your voice and obey, and that early training is vital for many reasons. So don't get me wrong, children need to obey and they need to obey immediately. They need to understand the right authority in their life. We don't disagree with this one bit. But when the sole purpose of discipline is to simply "get them to obey," we have missed the mark in ways that may affect our children for the rest of their lives.
We have been learning so much about the law and grace, and it has changed a lot of our parenting: how we talk about the Bible, how we correct, how we instruct, and the goals we have as parents. Here are the two kinds of parenting we've been discussing...working out of the law driven parenting, and moving into the grace driven parenting. We by NO MEANS have this figured out. Most days we are fumbling around for words to the Gospel centered instruction, and other days, we are living our own lives out of the law, which makes us unable to parent out of grace. We fail daily, and we fumble around, but we also see glimpses of the beauty of the Gospel making its way into the heart of our family. We so do not have this together, so please do not take our passion for these truths as an assumption that we have it altogether and know exactly what we are doing. Because we don't! :)

(Side note: the majority of these ideas, thoughts, and some direct quotations come from my favorite parenting book Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick. My words and descriptions are interwoven with the author's. To direct quote was nearly impossible bc every other sentence I added some things, took some things out, etc. But the major ideas are hers. I've just put them into two categories of law driven parenting and grace driven parenting). 

Law Driven Parenting
  • Has the goal of well-behaved children
  • Reads the Bible as a moral codebook and simply sees a lot of lists that say "do this" and a lot of lists that say "don't do that." 
  • Transforms the stories of the Bible into moral stories as a way to compel obedience.
  • Takes lists in the Bible out of context such as the fruit of the spirit, and make a plan, a system of rewards and consequences to get our children to model gentleness, kindness, patience, love, etc. 
  • We require (not instruct, train, and teach), but require religious obedience. "You must close your eyes and bow your head because we are praying." "You will stand up and sing the songs during worship at church." We panic thinking that if we can just get them to look right on the outside, it will somehow seep into their hearts and change them. 
  • Reward systems for good behavior, and a "demerit" system for bad behavior
  • Praise for obedience and scolding for disobedience
  • Concerned with how our children look and what people will think of them and us
  • Sees obedience and conformity to Christian rules as the goal of parenting
  • Has an unbiblical and unhealthy view of their role as a parent. Good parenting in=good children out. They often feel like their child's salvation is directly tied to their ability to be consistent and faithful. 
Grace Driven Parenting
  • The stories of the Bible are not for teaching moral lessons, but are about God's grace through Jesus and the Gospel.
  • The Bible is about God's mercy and his ability to save souls, and use us even when we disobey. It's not about our obedience.
  • Directs them to their need for Jesus and thankfulness to God. 
    • When they fail to obey, instead of simply employing harsh consequences to "get them to obey," we give them the Gospel. "We tell them that no matter what, they cannot keep God's law and that Jesus kept it perfectly for them. And we thank God that their relationship with him isn't built on their obedience, but on Jesus' obedience."
    • "When they do obey, (if the child is a Christian) you thank God because they were able to do so because Jesus has given them His Holy Spirit." 
    • "When they do obey, (and they are not a Christian) we remind them that God is more powerful than sin and is strong enough to make us want to do the right thing."
    • This does not mean that there aren't consequences. But the motivation is different, the conversation is different, and the desired outcome is different. 
  • Trains children in religious obedience- grace driven parenting teaches children about the Bible, teaches them about God and His works, prays with them, and brings them to church. But it does not force outward conformity to religious behaviors (such as praying, singing, etc), which just teaches them that the actions of Christianity (what's on the outside) is what matters. Grace driven parenting "does not assume outward conformity to religious exercises as proof of being a Christian." 
  • Instead of praise for their obedience and goodness, we praise God's goodness. "I noticed you shared your toys! I'm so thankful for God's working in your life that way. I know that neither of us would ever do anything kind if God wasn't helping us." This praises the only right goodness- the goodness of Jesus- and reinforces the fact that we have no goodness on our own (which is the Gospel)! It's literally ALL by God's grace and goodness to us.
  • Has a Biblical and healthy view of their role as a parent. That they love, nurture, train, and discipline with faith in the Lord's ability to transform hearts, NOT in their ability to be consistent or faithful. 
  • The goal of parenting is that "their children are drawn by the Holy Spirit to put their faith in the goodness of Jesus." It's not a focus on becoming good, or even on becoming a "better, "more holy" Christian.
These are the two kinds of parenting we are working through....working out of one and into the other. Although it seems a bit "vague," grace driven parenting is specific and intentional and I'll hopefully be able to share what we are learning about religious obedience, consequences, teaching the Bible in a Gospel centered way, and others. It's not as "vague" as it sounds. Remember, as fallen, sinful humans, our default is our own righteousness...our default is to desire to have some glory in our goodness. So we are comfortable with rules and law driven parenting because it provides a very structured system of do's and don't's. It's "easy" to follow and often black and white. But its result is inherently evil because it attempts to deny our need for a Savior, and puts us on the throne of our own glory. The law can't make us good, and it can't make our children good either. Only Jesus and His grace can do that.


A Super-Hero Super-Dad Father's Day

It hasn't been easy putting this family together, and we are amazed at God's grace, mercy, and kindness. I'm thankful today for Jon and how he's actively pursuing Jesus' heart, my heart and the hearts of his children. We love you and want to say thanks for being a Super-Dad! 
We went all out this year for Father's Day, inspired by Mekonen's new love of Super-Heroes and did a
Super-Hero Super-Dad surprise party for Daddy. I've decided that I want our kids to remember celebrating life, even the "small" things like Father's Day. So why not throw a fun little party with cute decorations? Kids loooove stuff like that, and for as long as I'm able in the craziness of life, I'd like to make a big deal out of little things throughout their childhood. It's what memories are made of.

I am, by nature, a crafter. I absolutely love making things, putting them together, and seeing a final product! This doesn't go for all categories of crafts and creativity. It definitely does NOT include crafts that entail furniture, saws, nails, or measuring units, but party decorations are some of my favorite! I didn't digitally create this set (although that is a desire of mine if I can get my hands on photoshop for dirt cheap). So instead I got them printed and cut, and then used them for all sorts of things. (Some for their intended purpose, and others, I got creative with). 

Jon's one and only small gift this Father's Day (sorry babe, haha). One of his favorite summer beers decorated in our Super-Hero Dad theme.

A small table with decorations.
A close-up of the printable, custom made by my photoshop savvy friend Jenn. I laugh whenever I read this quote because it actually reminds me of my Dad. If I would've been up on the idea of a superhero as a kid, I hands-down would've labeled, declared, and shouted from the roof tops, that my Dad was indeed, a super-hero. I bragged about my Dad all the time as a kid...mostly at school or with the neighborhood bullies...you know, the classic lines, "Oh yeah? Well, MY DAD can turn lights on just by snapping his fingers!" (And I WHOLEHEARTEDLY believed that, probably much too far into my childhood for what would be age appropriate). He would snap his fingers in the car and the dome light would turn on. We'd all scream, and cheer, and belly laugh. Little did we know, he was turning the knob on the far left dashboard with the other hand that no one could see! Haha. 
And for kicks, here's a pic of me and first and true hero... a really amazing Dad is the kind of hero no one can take the place of, no matter how great they are! 
A close-up of the newspaper hero article in the above picture. Made by my friend Cristy. Amazing. 
Cake!! The kids were confused. They saw the cake and insisted it was Daddy's Super-Hero birthday party and wanted to know where all the presents were.
 The party scene

 I loved these. Water bottles and table confetti!
Close-up of the banner
 Daddy's special seat, complete with a Superman cup that Mekonen picked out. 
These little cards said things like "Super-Dad," "You're My Superhero" etc.

Close-up of the pictures on the table. A big thank you to my friend Allie for helping me with the pictures!
Boppy, Grandma Magz, and Uncle Jeremy came for lunch!
 Cutie pa-tootie 
Boppy and his kiddos. 
(Oops, forgot to lighten this up. But cute nonetheless!)

 Daddy day snuggles

 (Seriously, how did Evie get blonde hair?)

After party re-arranged decorations to stick around for a few days.

It's not easy leading our crazy crew, it's not easy being the head, it's not easy to lead one's wife and children in a way that draws them to the heart of Jesus, but by God's grace, Jon is running hard in its pursuit. I'm thankful to be walking the ups and downs with him. Thanks for being SUPER! ;)



The Summer Fun Begins!

Summer is in full swing and the activities have begun! The kids are absolutely loving their new big backyard to run around in, and this Mama is particularly enjoying it. There's nothing like being able to just send them outside to explore and play, and not have to pack them up to go play at a park like when we lived downtown.

Last week, Jon's sisters and their families were visiting for the week so we got a lot of family time in and the cousins played to their little hearts content. I so wish my kids were growing up in closer distance to all of their cousins. It's one of those things in life that is important to me, seeing as though me growing up with a few of my cousins was a huge thing in my life that has continued to this day.

So here's to the week!!!

Everyone came to our house Saturday night to grill out and have a bonfire with s'mores. We are so thankful for the Lord's blessing of our house and being able to have room to have people over. We so love it! 
There was lots of cousin fun happening this week.
Joy & Evie waiting for their s'mores.
 Owen & Meko, best buds
Owen had a hood and Meko thought he should have one too, except he didn't have one, so he made one. Haha! 
 The 4 crazies on our front stairway.
Impromptu family pics
us ;)
 Boppy & Grandma Magz with the grandkids.
 Tried getting a pic of the four of them. This was the best one. haha.

 Evie just looooooves Uncle Justin. She always finds him and wants to be right next to him. 
 We took the boys fishing with Boppy. Mekonen lasted about 5 minutes before he wanted to just run around on the playground. :) 
 We took a family trip to Chicago to Shedd Aquairum. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time!
 The four.

 Waiting for the aquatics show to start. 
 Evie was enthralled by the dolphins!!
 This picture keeps coming up weird, but it was cute so I posted it anyway. haha. We went to a 4D show of Planet Earth. Mekonen did not understand all the affects. The chairs were moving and vibrating at one point and he yelled out, "Hey! What's happening to my chair?!?!" and got down and looked underneath it. At another point water got sprayed on us and he yelled, "Hey! Who's throwing that water?" Haha. 

 The art of the family selfie ;)
We're looking forward to a great summer full of cook-outs, bon-fires, backyard fun, family get togethers and time with friends. We love building family memories and hopefully I'll be better at recording them here!