Monday, December 31, 2007


"Faith never knows where it is being led, but it knows and loves the One who is leading." -Oswald Chambers

Such sweet words for the soul as we travel on this journey of faith, together with you...

Love in Christ,
DR et al

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Please pray for our seminarian brother and his family

We were deeply saddened to learn today that Caleb Hays, the nine-year old son of seminiarian Jerry Hays and his wife, Gretchen, died yesterday morning in a helicopter accident, along with Hays family friend and pilot, Dan Dase. Here is a link to the news story, as reported by The Dallas Morning News.

The Hays family was visiting family and friends in Texas over Christmas break. Jerry and Don serve together on the Concordia Seminary Student Association.

Indeed a sobering reminder for all of us that life is precious and that we draw each of our breaths but by the grace of God.

Please lift up your hearts and prayers with us in support of the Hays and Dase families, that God grants them all His abundant peace and comfort during this very difficult time. May God bless you richly.

In Christ,
Don, Stacye, Hannah, & Elizabeth Ray

Friday, December 28, 2007

Let's just say marketing was not their speciality...

Click here to read a funny post from the blog of the wife (Diane) of our seminary president (Dr. Dale Meyer).

Those funny Lutherans!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

We pray that everyone had a Merry Christmas yesterday. We did except...poor Hannah got some kind of bug and spend most of the morning and early afternoon "gaking." The good news is that she hasn't gaked in 16+ hours, so hopefully the worst is behind us. She slept well last night, but this morning all she's done is lay on the floor, watch her new Dora movie, and eat a few Saltines. So keep her (and us!) in your prayers (so far, no one else shows signs of getting it, but you never know).

Otherwise, our Christmas was really nice. We spent the day as a family, opening presents, eating, and resting. We had planned to go caroling at a nearby hospital with some other sem families, but with Hannah feeling cruddy, we decided to try again next year. Hannah got lots of art stuff, some new books, new Barbie-type dolls, and from Santa, a new Bible, which she loves. It's the same Bible they use in her Sunday school and while it's still not the actual Bible, the stories are longer than her toddler Bible and incorporate a few phrases from Scripture. We read quite a bit from it yesterday.

And now begins "the twelve days of Christmas," which has a special significance in our family. Not only is January 6 Epiphany (the day we celebrate the Wise Men bringing gifts to the baby King), but it's also Don's birthday. When Don was growing up, they didn't really do stocking stuffers, but each member of the family would have a basket with 12 small gifts in it and they would open up one each day after Christmas leading up to January 6. That's a special memory for Don, but I've never been able to get my act together enough to buy 12 small, meaningful gifts for him or anyone else. One year I tried stuffing his stocking with small things from the dollar store, and while he was sweet about it, the truth is that my oh-so-practical husband really would rather not have gifts that aren't useful. Anyway, in honor of the twelve days of Christmas and Epiphany, I thought I'd post this video I found on another blog I enjoy reading.

In other news, Bethie now has 7 teeth (if I don't post that now I'll forget to) and she enjoyed her first Christmas as well. For her, it was a perfect day - she got to be at home with her favorite people, take all her naps in her bed, and get lots of attention. She got to scoot around on the floor eating scraps of wrapping paper and ribbon. She got a Rock-a-Stack from Grammies, so of course that's tons of fun. Her favorite thing seemed to be a floating Baby Einstein book. She chewed on and turned the pages of that book for the longest time yesterday.

Don got some pint glasses from Schlafly Bottleworks, a local brewery with beer we really like. (For all you Bakersfieldians, it's a lot like Lengthwise, only much bigger.) He is also excited to try making creme brulee with his new kit and blow torch. I got a Harry Potter movie, some jewelry, new dish towels, a Concordia Seminary sweatshirt, smelly-good lotion, and a cranberry candle.

These small gifts were certainly a joy for us to give to each other. Still, we know that the best present of all was the one Hannah opened first: the baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

And Since We've No Place to Go...

...Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

My mom and nana Some of you out there check the St. Louis weather every day occasionally and already know that it snowed here pretty heavily last weekend. Hannah loved her first real snow and while Mom & Dad also enjoyed playing in it, it wasn't so fun dealing with the practical aspects. As you'll see on the slide show, on Sunday morning Don spent about 40 minutes clearing snow off the car, trying to clear it out of our parking space, and shoveling the sidewalk. By the time he was finished and we added in getting ready time and slower drive time, we made it to church about an hour and a half later than we originally planned.

I quickly learned to carry Hannah into and out of the car because it seemed that no matter where we went or where we parked, there were several inches of snow and ice on each side of the car. I saw several parking lots that were totally cleared of snow, but of course none of the ones we visited had that honor. We learned to shovel and salt the porches, stairs, and walkways. We scraped ice off of our car numerous times.

On Saturday morning we woke up to snow. There wasn't much - only 2-3 inches maybe. But it was enough to sled so we scavenged borrowed some sleds from the neighborhood kids and found a hill right behind our apartment. Elizabeth was napping, so Don and I (and some of the other kids) got to sled with Hannah and experience her first snow right along with her. We were the only adults out "playing," which was kind of weird but we had too much fun to care.

Then on Sunday we let Hannah skip her nap and we went sledding again. By then we had 6-8 inches accumulation and the sledding was great. We went over to Concordia Park with some friends and found a looooong hill to sled down. Hannah was awesome - she kept going down by herself, either on bottom or tummy. She'd rock herself back and forth and would veer off course, almost crashing into trees. But thankfully, no injuries except some very cold toes by the time we got home. What a fun weekend!

Andy by now (Friday), almost all the snow has melted. I've been struck that something that can look so beautiful can then look so dang ugly when it gets dirty and full of dead grass and leaves. It's really pretty nasty looking around here now and I can't wait for it all to melt now.

So here's our slide show - enjoy! And if we don't get a new posting up by Christmas, just know that we pray that your celebration of Jesus' birthday will be full of peace, joy, love, and of course thankfulness to Christ for coming to earth to provide salvation for you. Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stacye's long-overdue-update

Things are humming along here. We had a great visit with my mom the first week of December. Noni loved seeing her girls and celebrating an early Christmas. Hannah has gotten very into "awt" (art) lately, so most of her gifts from Noni and Nana (my grandmother, who also lives in Bakersfield) were art-related. She got feathers, pom-poms, buttons, glue, stickers, paper, and "glue glitter" so that she can decorate to her heart's content. She also got a mini Light Brite and tons of Perler beads (these beads are her favorite thing to do at school and she has already made several projects of her own here at home).

Elizabeth got some fun toys too - things she can chase after, stack, nest, and of course, chew on. Speaking of Elizabeth, she got her 6th tooth yesterday. Now she has 3 on top and 3 on bottom. If she doesn't get any more for a while she'll end up looking pretty lopsided because the third one on top is on the opposite side from the third one on bottom.

In other news, the girls are finally sleeping together in the same room and Don and I have our room back! They've been in the same room for about two weeks now and are doing great. And it's so nice to be able to read or put laundry away in our room at 7:30 at night! And also, we don't have to be so quiet in the evening because the girls are now on the opposite side of the house (before, one was on each side, so no matter where we were, we tried to talk quietly for their sake). So it's quite nice to feel normal again when the girls are sleeping and not tippy-toe around.

We're trying not to get all rushed and hectic this Christmas season. Since Hannah's still so young, we don't have as many school/Sunday school programs, Christmas parties, and other "must-dos" as we might have in a few years. I'm still trying to keep things simple. Having said that, we still need to send Christmas cards; figure out, create, and mail Christmas presents to our family in CA, TN, OH, TX, and GA; buy each of the girls' ornaments for this year; wrap the girls' gifts we have so far and hide them from Hannah; try and take some (nice) Christmas pictures of the girls together; figure out and create gifts for Hannah's teachers; go to Hannah's school Christmas party and program later that same night; and of course spend some time together as a family, worshipping the Christ Child, and teaching Hannah what Christmas is all about. Whew! (future pastor's editorial comment: we'll be sure to keep that last part at the forefront of all we do... :-) )

I'll wrap up by saying that we hope and pray that you also try to take time to breathe, spend time with your family, and focus on Jesus Christ, who came to Earth out of love for YOU, so that He could live an obedient life in your place and die for your sins (and ours too!). He loves you so much, He wants nothing more than to have a deeper relationship with you, regardless of how far or near you are to Him today.

We pray that Holy Spirit will be in your heart, giving you the peace that only God can give. Merry, Merry CHRISTmas! With Love,
Stacye, Don, Hannah, & Elizabeth

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Refreshment of Contentment

I read this devotional today from Dr. Scott Rodin, President of the Christian Stewardship Association, based on Philippians 4:10-13. May it be a blessing to you, as it was to us. -DR


How do you define what is enough for you? How much is enough money to make, to save and to spend? How do you define for yourself what is enough clothing, enough food, enough electronic gadgets, enough television channels and enough time to watch them, enough sporting events, enough shoes and enough popularity? How much is enough for you? That is an intensely personal question. No one can answer it for us, but we answer it daily by the choices we make.

The enemy is at work in our world determined to help us each answer that question in exactly the same way. Regardless of our income, our lifestyle, our investment portfolio or class, our enemy wants us to respond in unison with one voice and answer, "just a little more."

You can be a discontent millionaire and a discontent pauper. Discontentment knows no economic boundaries. The common denominator is a gnawing desire to have what is just out of reach or what someone else has, believing that it will finally make us truly happy.

Discontentment dries our spirit. It does so because, at its core, it is an indictment of God's gracious care and provision in our lives. It accuses God of holding back and holding out. It assumes that we deserve more, but somehow we are not receiving all we really need.

The Apostle Paul turns this idea on its head when he says that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance. Wealth and the accumulation of stuff is of no consequence. Contentment transcends what's in our bank accounts and storage units. For Paul, and for all of us who are in Christ, the secret is not a mind manipulation process or a new form of the power of positive thinking. It is the truth of God's presence, provision and providence in our lives. It is a daily trust that God is always near us, will always 'supply all of our needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus', and is sovereign over every circumstance in our lives.

Presence, provision and providence. Because of his certainty in them, Paul could write from the bowels of a dark prison with a spirit of contentment. In the midst of the most demanding of situations Paul knows this contentment, because, for him, Christ is enough.

Is Christ your full provision today? Can you rest in him, knowing that regardless of your situation, whether in plenty or in want, you are content in him? If you can know and claim that contentment for yourself, you will also know the refreshing release from the anxious striving for more and more. And your spirit will be refreshed.


Gracious Lord, my provider and constant companion, help me today to be released from the bondage of always wanting more. Forgive me of my lack of trust in you, and for seeking happiness in the accumulation of things or experiences, instead of seeking my only contentment in you. I give myself back to you today and ask that your presence, provision and providence will be the sole source of my daily contentment. I know you want the every best for me, and I trust you with my life. Refresh my spirit and give me a heart that is at rest and content in you alone. I pray this in your almighty and gracious name, Amen.