Sunday, November 29, 2015

Marshall's Dedication

On Sunday, November 29, 2015, we participated in the Parent and Child Dedication service at our church, Northridge. For those who may not know what a "Dedication" is, it's a commitment that we, as parents, are making, to lead our son spiritually as he grows up and teach him to know and love Jesus Christ. We are committed to being examples of Christ to him and teaching him God's Word, the Bible. Through prayer (lots and lots of prayer) and doing our best to teach Marshall about the Lord, our single most important desire that he will one day accept Jesus into his heart, love God more than anyone or anything, and serve him with his life. If that's the only thing we accomplish as parents, we will have succeeded. 

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

It's also a way for us to publicly acknowledge that Marshall is a gift from God, and to thank Him for entrusting us with the honor of being his parents. One year ago I was quite pregnant and waiting with much anticipation for our little boy to arrive. I never could have dreamed of the beautiful boy God would bless us with who fills our life with so much joy!

We were one of about 14 families at our service, but there were a total of about 50 families participating at all locations. I love the way our pastor and our church supports parents and encourages them to be the primary influence on their children. What I didn't know, until we received our gift bag, was that a letter was included for Marshall to open after he makes his own commitment to Jesus and is baptized. I think that is such a wonderful gift!

Many of our closest family and friends were there to witness and support us, which was extremely special. We had a celebration afterwards and Marshall enjoyed all the attention. It was wonderful to be surrounded by our loved ones on this special day. 

It's certainly not easy being a parent. I'm so thankful for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends that are part of our circle, cheering us on and encouraging us. 

Just as your cake said, Jesus loves you, Marshall, and so do we! May you know how much God loves you, and love Him in return, all the days of your life.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving was extra special because it was Marshall's first one! I really wanted to host and cook the meal, so Andrew's parents drove from Pennsylvania to be with us. Our first floor had just barely completed a major ceiling renovation (more to come on that later!). I wasn't sure if our house would be put back together in time for guests, but the kitchen was back in business just in the nick of time! Nothing like a holiday or a family gathering to spur the completion of home renovations. True Ohl style.

Thanksgiving really is one of my favorite holidays. I love entertaining, preparing a special meal, decorating the table and having guests gather around to enjoy food and conversation. I didn't take photos of the food but there were a few recipes from the Pioneer Woman at our table. Namely, a certain pumpkin cheesecake that was out of this world. I wish it was still here.

Marshall sure enjoyed having Gigi and Poppi here! They had lots of play time together. Even a wagon ride around the yard (his favorite). A little rain didn't hurt.

As I reflected on this year, my list kept getting longer and longer of how much I have to be thankful for. And yet, somehow, I loose sight of that, far too often. In the midst of my petty inconveniences and embarrassing complaints, I have to stop and remember how gracious God is and and how good He is. His love never fails. His mercy never runs out. His promises are always true. He loves me unconditionally. What a humbling thought. I don't deserve any of His love. But He loves me anyway.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and remember how much we truly have to be grateful for.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

My heart is heavy as I sit here, thinking about the chaotic state that our world is in. If you're living on this planet, how can you not be affected by the events taking place, and that have been taking place, for years and years (and from the beginning on time)? It doesn't seem right that I'm enjoying a salad while my baby naps peacefully, while others are fleeing their homes for their very lives, not knowing where they will end up or if they'll even have food today. 

My mind has a difficult time reconciling the injustice of it all. The sadness. The pain. The gravity of loss. The total fear. The reality of evil. What can we do? It feels wrong to turn on the TV and relax, while so many don't even have a bed to sleep in. I look at my young son. He is clothed and warm, safe from harm. He has toys and books. He knows how loved he is. Far too many children don't have any of those things. 

I was deeply impacted by this photographers project documenting where refugee children are forced to sleep. Regardless of your opinion on the issue, the stories are real. The children are real. No one should have to live like this. I read every single one. My heart breaking over and over. 

There are hurting people as well as evil doers all over this Earth. We live in a fallen world. Sin is here. I keep reminding myself that the story isn't over. This is just part of a much bigger plan. God's design for mankind isn't finished. This world was not created to be our permanent home. There is hope. Jesus is the answer!

I've been really enjoying and have been so encouraged by their Bible reading plans and devotions for women. I haven't been going in any particular order but I'm currently going through Philippians. Today's reading was just what I needed, reminding me that I am a citizen of Heaven, not Earth. With all of the plagues of evil and chaos, Romans 16:20 gave me hope, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." Our God is the God of peace. And one day, soon, He will put an end to Satan and every form of evil. What a glorious day that will be! 

The only answer I have to the "What can we do?" question is to pray. Pray for the people who are displaced. Who are hurting. Lost. Forsaken. Pray for the orphans and widows. Pray for those trapped in the horrors of sex trafficing. Pray for the mothers pondering abortions and pray for those willing to provide abortions. Pray for the homeless, the hungry, the broken. Pray for those with addictions. Pray for those plotting harm and carrying out wickedness. Most of all, pray that every lost soul would find Jesus Christ. He is the true hope and the answer for this world. 

And, love your loved ones. Hug your spouse, your children and your family, tighter. They are a gift. And every day you get to spend with them is a gift.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Monthly Marshall Moments: Nine

Our Marshall is nine months! Which means that he has been in our lives as many months as we anxiously awaited his arrival. I am amazed by that! 

Taking photos of a newly crawling nine-month-old is no joke. My photo shoots (and diaper changes) have started to feel like Olympic sports! He continues to grow and change and do so many things. He is quite proud of his new mobility and gets around pretty fast! 

October and November have been unseasonably warm (so far) and we are loving these extra days outside. A couple weeks ago, Gigi came to visit! We had a fun playing and spending time together. 

One gorgeous Saturday afternoon, we went to the park and took family photos. The many faces of Marshall crack me up! 

The leaves have proven to be good for something - beautiful colors for photos. Marshall really liked picking them up (and trying to chew them). He is such a cutie, if I do say so, myself! 

Just waiting for bath time...

Has mastered sitting up, rolling and flipping over
Newly crawling! And interested in everything he can get to
Likes frequently pulling his right sock off (and chewing on his toes)
Loves paper, newspaper, junk mail and tearing it into pieces
Likes to stand and pull himself up (not walking yet)
Absolutely does NOT like having his nose, face or hands wiped
Cutting 4 teeth
Likes to go grocery shopping
So much personality

I love this photo I snapped of us, at the very end. His giant smile and happy eyes melt my heart into a million pieces. We do have fun together! It's so amazing to recognize traits from each of us in Marshall. He is the light of our days!