Thursday, September 27, 2012


1 Samuel, Chapter 1

The Birth of Samuel

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of theLord. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before theLord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

Samuel Given to the Lord

21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to theLord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,[c] an ephah[d] of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord.27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Round 2

It's been a year and a half since my last post so it's reasonable to assume that not a single person will read this. But just in case, I thought I'd give a little update as we wait in Labor and Delivery Room 3 for the arrival of our second child. We got here at 9 pm last night and got settled in, and as of the last check about 30 minutes ago, Em was dilated to 6cm. Em's parents and sister are here and Abbott is at school. We are gonna get her early so she can be here to experience the excitement. She has been so excited about becoming a big sister and we've tried to talk to her about all this as much as possible. I think she understands that there is a baby in Mommy's tummy and that today it is coming out, but I don't know if she understands that it is permanent! We'll find out soon enough.

Many of you know that the last 2 years have been rocky for us. But we believe that God has allowed us to endure some of the things we have in order that we would draw closer to Him by having faith that our circumstances do not define us. I don't know that this is something many people can understand outside of a relationship with Christ and an understanding of the gospel. We belong to a church family that has Christ-centered community at its heart and we have experienced it first hand. Em has been on bed rest/house arrest since the beginning of July and we have had dinner provided for us literally almost every night since then. From transportation to baby-sitting, we have not had to worry about arrangements for Abbott one time. The amount of phone calls, texts, emails, and prayers in the past weeks, months, and particularly the last 24 hours, not to mention the amount of love, support, and prayer through two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy is hard to explain and absolutely overwhelming. And honestly, I don't know how we would have done it on our own. 

If our circumstances determine who we are, much less the reality of a loving God, then where do we put our hope when things go bad, as they so often do? We have been richly blessed in so many ways, even through strife. And here we are with our second daughter moments away from being born. Our hope and prayer is that through our sufferings and our rejoicing, our good times and bad, and our stumblings and strivings, we will love, serve, and do life with others by faith and in hope of things to come. If you read this, thanks for taking the time. We love you all and are thankful for all of you. We'll keep you updated when Hannah gets here. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." -Hebrews 11:1

We were asked a question in our Life Group today... how would we describe what we believe about God? Responses included "He is sovereign", "He loves me", "He is in control", "He knows what's best for me", etc.  When something bad happens to others, we hear similar ideas... "Everything happens for a reason", "It's all part of God's plan", "It's for the greater good".  My response was that I didn't really know how to articulate it in to one word or phrase.

A skeptic or a cynic might say something very different... "If there's a God, that wouldn't happen" or "How could a loving God allow that happen?"  On the heels of a second miscarriage, I can say that my mind has not gone there, and I pray it won't.  I haven't found myself angry or in question of the reasoning behind any of it.  But when it seems to be such a common occurrence, between other family and friends, and there are so many people dealing with similar or worse issues, I have found my mind wandering to dark places, allowing questions in like "What if this whole thing isn't true?",  "What if it's all for not?", "What if it all really is all just chance and circumstance?"

In Philippians 1:21-23 Paul talks about " live is Christ, and to die is gain..."  That sounds real awesome and inspiring, and all those phrases about "God's plan" and "He's in control" sound fantastic until I get punched in the stomach by life.  The pill doesn't go down quite so smoothly, and if I'm not careful, dark thoughts from a dark power allow me to go to dark places in my mind.  For me, these thoughts have only creeped, and I have not allowed them to take root, mostly through prayer.  Our pastor preached 1 Peter 1:13 today, "Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  A few of his points around this verse focused on how we are to protect our minds from distractions and hindrances.  We have to work hard to prevent the pressures of life from clouding our focus.

I have yet to experience a time when faced with doubt, struggle, or temptation, where I stopped and prayed for reassurance or a way out, that God did not respond in some way.  I'll give two examples from this week directly related to our current circumstance.  First, after the first miscarriage in October, we were very moved and very encouraged by this video, which we have watched many, many times...

In case you didn't watch the video, the scripture at the very end is Psalm 73: 25-26, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  This past Wednesday, as we were getting ready to go to the hospital, I clicked on to see what the verse of the day was and it just so happened to be Psalm 73: 25-26.  Some might say it was just a coincidence.  Maybe.  Later that morning, a friend sent me a text of encouragement and suggested that I read 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10.  It's long so I won't type the whole thing, but in verse 9, the Lord tells Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And Paul goes on to say in verse 10, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  I find great comfort and reassurance in these words.  I read this passage with Em and her sister and we prayed together for it to be made so in us.  I've been listening to a lengthy sermon series on Ephesians from 2003 in my car.  I listened to the first 4 parts last week and didn't listen again until this Thursday when I went back to work.  In part 5, the pastor preached 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 as part of his sermon.  It blew my flipping mind and immediately relieved any doubts or uncertainty that were tempting me.  I can not, do not, and will not believe that it was just a coincidence... just chance and circumstance.  I believe it was His subtle, or not-so-subtle, way of whispering "I'm here... and I know... don't lose heart."

I do not believe that God made this happen.  I do believe he allowed it to happen.  Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes.  And when it comes, we have a choice.  We can get mad and shake our fists at God and say "how dare you?!" or "I don't believe in you!"... or we can put our faith in the idea that "He is sovereign", "He loves me", "He is in control", and "It's all part of God's plan".  Our pastor said it well this morning, "We are not at the mercy of anything in this world because we have hope in Christ."  That same faith that is so strong when things are going well has to hold up when things go badly, or it stops being faith.  The bible is very clear that following Christ will likely involve suffering.  Just ask the disciples.  When I am struggling with doubts, questions, uncertainty because of suffering that just doesn't make sense, He is always faithful to reassure.  It sounds cheesy and cliche to say that, but I've experienced far too many things in my own life and in the lives of others to write it off as coincidence.  It's been a tough week, and we have certainly had better ones.  But our faith is not shaken.  God is good, even when things are bad.  We may never understand why this happened, and we don't know what the future holds.  We aren't promised anything.  We're not promised tomorrow morning.  But our faith is in the promise of something better to come, and so I think my answer to the Life Group question would be that I believe there is no way it's all just chance and circumstance.  And Emily and I will continue to do our best to be faithful in both good times and bad.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

It's Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day 2010.  But this year, it feels very different.  We always celebrate Thanksgiving with my side of the family and Christmas with Emily's side, but this year, we are going solo. I think this is the first time that I've ever been away from my family on Turkey Day.  This is Em's year in the holiday rotation at work so we were unable to go to the Woodlands with the Koelling clan.  And with Mom's move to Oregon, we didn't have a lot of options.  So as I sit here watching Abbott eat breakfast while Em is at work, it really just feels like another day.  But I am determined to get in the holiday spirit and make it feel like Thanksgiving for us at home and I thought a good way to kick off the holiday cheer might be to write some things that I'm thankful for, so here goes.

First of all, if you're reading this, I hope you don't hear me complaining or pitying myself.  It's just a little different and a little weird.  I'm so thankful for all of my family and the fact that everyone is getting to celebrate together in some form or fashion.  I'm particularly thankful that Mom is spending Thanksgiving with Charlie and the rest of her family up in the northwest.  I'm so thankful that Em and I both have good jobs, even if they do keep us from doing what we want from time to time.  I'm so thankful that we have a roof over our heads and a way to get from point A to point B.  I'm thankful for the freedoms and the luxuries we have in this country.  I'm thankful for the fact that we don't have to worry, at least for now, about if and what we are going to eat or whether or not Abbott is going to be provided for.

I'm thankful for my friends, of which I have many.  Many of my best friends have been so since elementary school and remain so to this day.  And many of my best friends I've gained along the way.  I'm thankful for my family.  Despite my parents' divorce, they managed to instill in us the values, morals, and wisdom that we have today.  And because of that, I remain very close with my brother and sister and, despite all the turmoil, we've somehow managed to keep our heads on straight and work together with Mom and Dad to keep this family together despite it's division.  I'm thankful that even though they couldn't work things out between them, they loved us enough to "raise us right" as my brother-in-law, Hudson, would say.  I'm thankful for Emily and her family, because in the last decade they have been a source of stability for me when things weren't really stable on my end.  I love them all so very much and am proud to call them my family.

I am so thankful for my beautiful wife and my precious daughter.  And I am so thankful to the Lord for the blessings He has showered on my life through them.  Emily is such an amazing strength in this marriage and family.  She does so much and gives so much of herself that I marvel at times.  Anyone that knows me knows exactly what I'd be doing if I had to work today, tomorrow, and over the weekend.  It wouldn't be pretty.  Yet I haven't heard, or even detected, a single hint of negativity or complaint from Emily.  She's much better at removing her wants and needs from most equations than I am.  And she's such an amazing mother.  Watching her with Abbott makes me love her a little more every time.  I'm so thankful for my Fridays off with Abbott, but it ain't a cake walk by any stretch.  And for Em and all you other mothers that stay home with the kid(s) on a more frequent basis... wow!  Anyone that would talk down at being a stay at home mom has absolutely no concept of the hard work it is.  I'm thankful for wives and moms, and if any of you men out there haven't taken a minute to reflect on all the hard work they do while we are sitting on the couch, or at work, or doing "guy stuff", you should do it now.  It's the perfect day for it!

Watching Abbott grow up, especially at this phase in life, is like watching an ongoing daily miracle.  I'm probably a little biased here (just a little), but she is so smart.  She catches on so quickly and she's so sweet and playful.  Not the biggest cuddler, which has been hard on Daddy, but we have our moments.  She is so expressive and funny, and slightly dramatic... I can't imagine where she got such qualities.  It's kind of like here blond hair and blue eyes... what in the world is that all about?!  Being a father is such a blessing.  She has added so much joy to a life, marriage, and family that already had it's fair share.  I hope and pray that we will have more children.  And I would love to have a son some day.  But having a little girl makes me kind of want more little girls.  It's weird what happens to a man when a daughter arrives on the scene.  I'm thankful for my girls, and I love being able to say "my girls".

I'm very thankful for our church family.  We joined our church a few years ago but have only started getting plugged in in the last several months.  A door was opened up for us to get involved with the college ministry and it has been quite a blessing.  And I'm thankful for Mary, the leader of the college ministry who is opening her home this afternoon to us and a handful of college students so that we can all spend Thanksgiving in fellowship with friends and loved ones.  I'm thankful for TURKEY BALL (if you don't know, you should find out!).  And I'm thankful for awesome traditions like Turkey Bowling (because my family is awesome!).  And yes, we will be passing the tradition along this afternoon, as Emily has obtained a set of bowling pins from the bowling alley.  Pins, check.  Tarp, check.  Frozen turkey, check.  Awesometown, check.

I very much believe that all of these things that I have to be thankful for are made possible only by the grace of God.  I am so thankful that because of what happened on the cross, I have been given the gift of grace, and through faith I can have hope in something greater than all of these things.  I've had very few real trials in my life, but I'm not promised 5 minutes from now and I'm so thankful that no matter what happens, no matter how the tides may turn, no matter which way the wind blows, my hope and my faith and my fate don't terminate here on earth.  I stumble and stray more than not, but the beauty of grace is that I don't have to run away from God and clean myself up.  I can press in to Him and keep trudging forward with an assurance like no other.  Grace and mercy are hard to wrap your head around sometimes, but unmerited favor in the eyes of God is a powerful thing to be thankful for and I probably don't thank Him enough.

"Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." - 2 Corinthians 4:13-15

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Thank you very much if you took the time to read this.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fun in Phoenix!!

Much fun was had by all in Arizona! We started the vacation with a tubing trip on the Salt River. 
We left the kiddos with the babysitter and had a day of roasting in the sun on huge tubes. Now this was an event. It was like six flags, parking lots full of people taking buses to float. It was a riot, many, many different folks enjoying this event. We had a blast but managed to forget the camera so you'll just have to think in your mind what a good time we had:) 

We had a great Father's Day! Abbott and Jake made foot and hand canvas' for their Daddies which were precious. We headed over to Chip and Kirsten's to eat and play with Amalie. The kiddos had a great time in the pool and Kirsten's parents cooked a yummy meal!!

Picture of the Year!

Marc and Dana were off on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday we headed to Sedona for some shopping and sight seeing! It was beautiful, as you can see in the pics!! On Wednesday, Dana and I took advantage of our hubby's babysitting skills, and went out for a day of shopping and Mommy time. Lulu Lemon will never be the same:)

Hmmm....think they look alike:)

Adam and I enjoyed time with Abbott in the pool and checked out a few restaurants in the area while the Charbonneau's were away. Kirsten brought Amalie over for a visit! The kiddos were so funny together! On Friday, the girls went out for a movie (Knight and Day) and the guys chilled at home. 

The boys got away for the day on Saturday while the women braved a restaurant with all three kiddos! Now this was an adventure!!  Saturday night the kiddos stayed with a babysitter and we ate at a local Sushi place.....amazing! Our flight was great on the way home. Abbott was a trouper the entire trip. She and Jake played like champs. By the end of the week he was calling for Abbott from his crib when he woke up! So sweet:) She and Amalie will be fighting over him in a few years:) What a lucky guy! And we are all so very blessed as parents to have healthy and happy children!! 

 I am sooooo tired Mommy:)
We love you Phoenix friends! See you in the fall in the "view!"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Giving Thanks

Weeks ago I performed a swallow study on a precious 6 month old baby. She had a list of medical problems longer than most ninety year olds I see. Tears stream down my face just thinking of her and her precious mother. Her 5 year old son was there protecting his little sister by asking many questions of me and my job. He told me all about his little sister that he was quiet proud of. The Mom handed over her sweet baby into my hands with trust. I felt her tense muscles and constant twitches, her mother explained that she had severe epilepsy and the twitches were considered pre-seizure activity. Epilepsy was still on the minimal end of her extensive medical history. Most six months old would sit on Mom's lap or in a high chair for this procedure. This precious pea wasn't even close to attempting this. I used a positioner and prepared her bottle before starting her xray. Her little mouth had no concept of the usual "suck, swallow, breath" pattern that occurs with natural development of even a newborn. The material eventually spilled into her mouth and down her throat into her windpipe without even a cough. She aspirated everything we attempted. I explained to Mom what was happening and I could see her logging it away into her list of "abnormalities" that encompassed her daughter. Of course her first question to me was, "how long will she have to have a tube and when will she be able to eat?" I graciously told her that with time and therapy hopefully the muscles in her throat would get stronger. Given the child's history and presentation, I knew that there was very little chance that this sweet girl would ever eat normal. She was sobbing and talking on the phone to her husband while I spoke with her doctor who of course gave me orders to admit her into the hospital for placement of a temporary feeding tube until she could be transferred to Dallas. After all was taken care of, I walked into an empty xray room and began sobbing. 
As a new Mom it was unfathomable to imagine my child in pain or incredibly delayed or sick. It made me sad when Abbott was teething or had a cold. The sweet baby from the swallow study has been on my mind for weeks. My heart breaks for her and her mother. We take so many things for granted. I squealed with joy when Abbott rolled over, sat up, crawled, cut her first tooth, and the list goes on. We go through our everyday routine of normalcy sometimes without thinking twice about the mountains that others face. Please pray for this sweet baby and her family. Mountains don't even begin to describe what they face everyday. I am so thankful for Abbott's, health, smiles, laughs, cries, and the perfect miracle of a tiny human's working body.  

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Springs or bust!

We headed to Hot Springs this weekend to meet up with Aunt Clare, Uncle Kyle, cousin Mandy, cousin Sarah and her hubby Grant. We had so much fun, as always when with his family! It was a beautiful weekend. We headed downtown and ate a Rocky's! It was one of mine and Adam's favorites in college! We walked downtown and did some shopping and sight seeing! Saturday night we headed to Fisherman's Wharf for a yummy dinner! Mom,Dad, and Ms. Cathy babysat at the condo. It was so good to see everyone and we are going to make a point to get together as a group every year in different places! Sounds like a plan:)

How do ya like my shades?!!