Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sesame Street is brought to you today by...

The number 5!

Yes, the Ray family will soon include 5 people. Our third child is due in early June. That means that I am 14 weeks along and feeling pretty good. The first trimester was hard, as it was with both the girls. But my appetite is returning to normal, nausea is abating, and I'm feeling (a little) less tired. Hannah is quite excited, kissing my tummy at random times during the day. Elizabeth of course doesn't get it, but occasionally she'll put a ball or something in her shirt and say, "Baby tummy."

In other news, we had a great Thanksgiving break and week. Don got a two-week break between Fall and Winter quarters. We spent a few days at home together and then traveled to Sedalia, MO to visit Sandy Ashlock again. We enjoyed our time with her and her dog Abby and were able to attend services at Our Savior Lutheran Church again. Their LWML group has been so generous to our family with gifts to the girls and assistance for tuition and books. Hannah and I attended Sedalia's annual Cup of Christmas Tea with Sandy. Hannah loved her first grown-up tea party!

We arrived home Monday of Thanksgiving week and on Tuesday morning Don's mom and his oldest brother arrived to spend the rest of the week with us. We toured the Anheuser-Bush factory, ate dinner at 11-Mile House, ate a delicious turkey dinner, and Don, Dan and Judy went up in the St. Louis arch. The girls loved spending time and reading with their Uncle Dan. We'll probably spend part of our Christmas break in Tennessee with Grammies and Uncle Dan is planning to come up from Texas, so we'll all be together again soon.

My mom arrives from California on Saturday, and we have some events planned then too. She and I will attend Advent by Candlelight at our church here. Don will preach his first sermon on December 13, so Mom will be here for that. We'll attend our church's Christmas production, "Stringing Lights," on December 14. The girls will have fun with their Noni at the Seminary's children's Christmas party too.

Here are some recent pictures:



(Halloween at the Magic House. Hannah was Fancy Nancy and Bethie was Baby Jaguar.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What has happened to my Country?

And no, I don't mean the United States. I'm from Bakersfield, CA, the West Coast home of country music (the "Bakersfield Sound"). Here's a portion of an article from Wikipedia: In the early 1960s, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, among others, brought the Bakersfield sound to mainstream audiences, and it soon became one of the most popular kinds of country music, also influencing later country stars such as Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart, The Mavericks, and The Derailers. (Stacye's note: The Smokin' Armadillos are another country group from Bakersfield.)

So country music is in my blood and it's my favorite kind of music, aside from contemporary Christian. Imagine my surprise when I heard on a country station here, "Coming up next, it's Kid Rock followed by Jessica Simpson." Since when do these two sing country music? What's happening to the world?





Now in the interest of total honesty, I kind of like Kid Rock's current country song, "All Summer Long." If I've heard Jessica Simpson's song, I don't recall so I can't say whether I like it. But I just don't get it. Country music isn't perfect, but it's a lot more uplifting and joyful than most other secular music, in my opinion. I hope it doesn't start a downhill slide into music I wouldn't let my kids listen to. (Wow, do I sound like my mother or what?)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hannah Update and Prayer Request

Quick update to let everyone know that Hannah got her staples out last Thursday. Her head has healed really well and she's doing great. She continues to get lovely scrapes on other parts of her body though. I told her tonight that she's getting really good at getting scrapes and maybe she could stop practicing for a while? She asked, "Why?"

We are requesting prayers for friends of ours, the Hintz family, a seminary family who began vicarage/internship in Oklahoma this past summer. They have four beautiful children and were expecting number five this past Tuesday. The day after the baby's due date they learned that the baby had passed away in the womb. Nothing will ever fill the hole he leaves in their family and our hearts are heavy for them. We mourn with them for the loss of baby Samuel and take comfort in knowing that he is healthy and perfect with our Lord and Savior forever. So please keep their family in your prayers for strength and comfort during this sad time, especially as they hold a memorial service tomorrow evening to say goodbye.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Parenting

We recently returned home from an all afternoon/all evening visit to the ER. Miss Hannah was playing on our of our office chairs when it tipped over backward, slamming her head into the edge of a door. The result? Four staples.

After a few touch-and-go moments at first, she was a champ. In the waiting room we had to keep reminding her to calm down and just sit. She couldn't understand why we didn't want her horsing around with a 1-inch gash in her noggin! She had no signs of a concussion and is doing fine now. We'll see how sleep goes tonight though...

In other family news, Bethie is a full-fledged walker now, loving her new-found freedom. Don is busy with classes as always and I'm doing the usual. This weekend is the Seminary's annual women's retreat and I'm really looking forward to that. I enjoyed last year's retreat, even though Elizabeth was with me since she was still nursing. This year I'll truly be on my own for 24 hours - wow! Corollary: Don will be alone with the girls for 24 hours - keep them in your prayers. I know they'll do great and enjoy the time with Daddy.

Real life (i.e. dishes) calls. Keep Hannah in your prayers for a full and speedy recovery - no infection or complications. God bless!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What happens then?

Don's forward-looking question in response to the recent $700B economic bailout, and now the additional $250B unprecedented government investment in banks: "And what happens when the United States government fails?"

Haggai 2:7 says, "'And I will cause all the nations to shake and the wealth of all the nations will come and I will fill this house with glory,' says Yahweh of Hosts." In other words, the collapse of the nations of this world will precipitate and usher in the second coming of Christ. And both will happen, though we know not when.

And while followers of Christ can be certain of their eternal security and salvation, it remains true that a collapse of the world's economic powers will be absolutely horrendous--especially for those who have placed their trust in the riches of this world and not in Christ.

Christ is our Rock, our Redeemer, our inheritance--our eternal security is found only in Him. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Let us store up our hearts in Christ, who will never drop in value, never fail, and never need a bailout. His love endures forever.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Did You Know?

DR: I watched this video as part of a parenting class at church today. As a parent of young children and as someone who thinks often about the future and appreciates the value of education and diversity, I found the video stunning. Pass it on.

God's love and blessings,
Don, Stacye, and the girls

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yay Bethie!

Hot off the press! Elizabeth really began walking last night! She just took off around the house, often saying, "Chase you" when she wanted me to follow her. She'd stop on a dime, whirl around 180 degrees and take off the other direction. I was amazed. I told her that she was pretty sneaky, that she was a lot better at this than she let on! She still crawls a lot and doesn't seem real eager for anyone outside the family to see her walk, but I bet this next week or so she'll really be taking off. I also have a feeling that she won't want to walk outside. She seems to want to be really confident before she'll actually do something physical.

In other news, we just rebuilt our computer to rid it of a nasty Spybot32 virus/worm thing. Don, bless his heart, spent two days rebuilding it and stayed up until 4:30 a.m. the other night/morning. He did it for me, knowing that when he's in class this is the only computer available to me.

Hannah loves school. She and I are going on a field trip tomorrow. We'll ride the school bus to Eckert's Farm tomorrow to pick apples. She's so excited about it that she can't even talk about it in a normal voice. She growls like a dinosaur! Here's a picture of her on her first day of school.


Hannah wants me to play with her and we're headed to the library soon, so I'll be a "good mom" and wrap up my computer time! Here's one last picture of Elizabeth trying to become our dinner.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Full of hot air

DR: The third weekend in September, nearby Forest Park (larger than Central Park in New York--believe it) plays host to a "balloon glow" and hot air balloon race. Last year, we went to the race; you can check out our old post about that here.

This year, however, we went to evening-before-the-race balloon glow, where all of the balloonists(?) fire up their...well...their fire. And balloons glow all around. You can walk all around, and under, and sometimes touch the balloons are they are being fired up.

It's an impressive waste of propane, I must say. A conservative estimate suggests it's enough to roast a few hundred million slabs of meat on the grill. I like meat.

And speaking of meat, did you know that the hamburger (and the ice cream cone!) made its world debut at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis? And we've been joyfully clogging our arteries ever since.

Here are some photos from our hot air adventure. Enjoy.



God's love and blessings,
Don and the girls

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Out for a walk...finally!

At 17 months, Miss Bethie is finally, finally, finally taking a few steps on her own! Her first official steps were last Friday evening. We were visiting with friends after a BBQ dinner, enjoying the fabulous weather we've been having. The four adults were talking together and the three kids were downstairs playing. Bethie came crawling up the stairs (she loves "teps") and our friend Autumn was helping her up. Suddenly Autumn wasn't holding on any more and Bethie took three steps to her Daddy! She did it again twice more (to much cheers and applause) and promptly burst into tears and refused to try again.

So we've been taking her outside as much as possible to practice. It finally dawned on us that our apartment is so small that she really hasn't had a lot of practice walking. If she's inside, she crawls and if she's outside, she is carried or is in the stroller. Over the last few days, she has been (mostly) eager and cooperative walking while holding onto our hands. But as soon as we try letting go, she bends her knees and sits on her tush. But yesterday while waiting for Hannah to finish school I was placing enticing objects (my keys! a pencil! my phone!) on a bench and letting her walk about 3 steps to get them. She kept this up for a while and then was done - totally refused to do it again. Can you say "stubborn?" (And yes, she can.)

So we'll just keep trying it and one of these days her brain will figure out that her body's been capable all along and she'll just take off. We'll try to get a photo and post it!

In other news, Don is dropping one class (Pauline Epistles) and replacing it with another. Yesterday was a really hard day for him and he was having a rough time getting all his work done. I think this change will be a good one - we'll let you know.

Hannah is loving her new preschool. Yesterday she got to bring home the "Buddy Bag," containing a Curious George animal and two Curious George books. She gets to take George with her wherever she wants and will tell her classmates about George's adventures tomorrow. Wish I could be there to listen!


Here's reason #105 why you should childproof your house and not let small children play in the bathroom unsupervised! (This was back in June.)


And going even farther back, in case you wanted to know how to dress when going out to get the mail, Hannah and Don will demonstrate (Be sure to note Don's oh-so-cute hat and Hannah's blankie tied around her neck like a cape):

Stay tuned for more fashion tips and walking updates!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One day at a time

DR: Well, by God's grace, we survived Day One of the Fall quarter. I purposely loaded my schedule heavily on Mondays and Thursdays so that I could have a lighter Tuesday, part of Wednesday, and Friday available to do the significant amounts of reading and writing that I know these 5 1/2 classes will demand of me.

Monday (by choice) is a very heavy day for our family--heavy for me in terms of classes and heavy for Stacye in terms of not having me around to help with our family. My first class begins at 8:00am and my last class ends at 9:30pm. I am in class for nine of those 13 1/2 hours. We we both tired last night.

But it's only nine Mondays, and it does afford me longer stretches of time during the week to get my voluminous reading and writing done, which is a real blessing.

The classes I am taking this quarter include: Pauline Epistles & Acts, Worship, God & Creation, Homiletics I (Preaching), and Theology of Mission. I also have what is called a Lectionary, which is a one-hour once-a-week, one credit class (hence the 5 and 1/2 classes).

There promises to be many moving parts this Fall--lots of diverse reading and papers due throughout the quarter. One day at a time. By God's grace alone.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Love and blessings,
Don, Stacye, and the girls

Sunday, September 7, 2008

D.M., this one's for you!

DR: A friend of ours, D.M. (who has a very active blog of her own), bumped into us at the seminary's Fall kick-off picnic the other night and plainly reminded us, "You need to update your blog!" And then she promptly lamented the lack of iced tea in the beverage coffers, which we jointly affirmed as her empathetic brother and sister in Christ.

So, thank you, D., for giving us the gentle nudge we needed to update our slice of the web. We hope you enjoyed the baked beans, by the way. And indeed, you humble us with your sometimes three-a-day blog postings...we will never measure up to your Royal Blogness. But please know, this one's for you!

And while I'm thinking of it, feel free to mention to your esteemed husband that if it weren't for our professors assigning so much high-fallutin reading, maybe this full-plated sem student might actually get off my theologically-bound duff to do a blog posting once in a while. As if theology was important or something. Geez.

As an aside, I do feel secure in using such a phrase (duff, that is) in this here family-style blog, because "duff" is a theological term, insomuch as God gave us one to sit upon as we read Walther. Who was not a duff. But who likely sat upon his own to write about others he deemed as such. In a theological sort of way, of course. Or it could refer to beer, if you're a Simpsons fan. And I know there are some of those on the seminary campus--Simpsons fans. And duffs.

Well, back to the point of this blog post. Which was...? Oh yes, the need to update our blog with a new post.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prepare the way

DR: Stacye has lovingly reminded me that it has been some time since yours truly has done a post on our blog. And so it's about time.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to share with you that I am writing a book. My prayerful goal is to have upwards of a 300-page manuscript completed and submitted by Summer 2014.

I believe Christ will return soon, yet also believe that millions of souls in America are not ready for Him to do so. Indeed, I would offer that even many American Christians are not ready for Christ to do so.

I observe this particularly in the way we steward our material possessions--or shall I say, cling to them--which has a tendency, I believe, to crowd God out of our hearts and minds.

In this context, I believe God is giving me the opportunity to prepare the way into people's hearts and minds for His return, and specifically calling me to disciple Americans in the area of our financial stewardship and abundant material prosperity.

I believe He is calling me to instruct those in our nation to bring Him our goods and material possessions and not to be arrogant, deceitful, prideful, and self-centered.

I believe this heralding call to Americans must be done with boldness, confidence, and trust in Christ and reliance upon God's Word...but also with magnanimity and gentleness. I believe it is my role to be a salient, actionable force for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom as He uses me to prepare people for His imminent return. I believe God will, at least in part, use the book I am writing to further this purpose.

I believe that many people will come to hear my words, be they in this book, a speech, a sermon, or otherwise. And yet, this is not about me. Not at all.

This is all about Jesus Christ and all about preparing people's hearts and minds for His imminent return. Are you ready?

God's love and richest blessings to you as we serve Him,
Don, Stacye, and the girls

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are home from our trips to Sedalia, MO and New Braunfels, TX. We had a wonderful time both places and are also happy to be home. It's very very late right now, so I'll just post a couple photos now and post more about our trips later.

Our family with Sandy Ashlock (former member at St. John's Bakersfield) and Pastor Chris Kellog at Our Savior Lutheran in Sedalia, MO.



The family at Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels, TX.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wordle

I found something new the other day, thanks to one of our Facebook friends. It's a website called Wordle that creates a word "cloud" based on text you paste in. The more frequently a word is used, the larger it appears. Then you can play around with the colors, fonts, etc. Here's a Wordle from one of our earliest blog posts, as we were getting ready to leave Bakersfield and move to St. Louis to begin seminary.




And this one was from a stewardship post Don did a while ago.








Here are Hannah's and Elizabeth's birth stories that I wrote soon after they each were born:










We've had fun playing around. Don also plugged in the gospels, the book of Philippians, and some other things. Maybe we have a little too much time on our hands... :-) Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Booster Club (edited)

Hello! We have been enjoying our summer and keeping busy. The girls and I went to the local community pool today and had a blast. They have a huge zero-depth entry wading pool with a slide and fountains. The last time we went the girls shivered through it, but really enjoyed themselves today. Bethie had great fun crawling around and playing with all the toys she could get her hands on. She still isn't walking, but loved the relative freedom the pool gave her. Hannah splashed and waded, going deeper than she had last time. We'll probably go back this week again and take Noni when she's here next week.


In other news, Hannah is now sitting in a booster seat in the car. She's quite proud of her new "grown-up" status and Mommy's glad because it'll be a lot easier to move the carseat and carpool with friends to outings. Hannah's been playing with friends as much as she possibly can this summer. Our new downstairs neighbors have three boys, 5, 3, and 1. Yesterday Hannah played in their wading pool with them and had a blast. It's so great to have neighbors and playmates right here on campus.


If you have any contact whatsoever with my mom (Noni), you already know that Elizabeth is beginning to speak in sentences. Most are just two (maybe three) words, but her longest one of note was, "Milky milky please thank you Daddy." She does a great job telling us what she wants and most of what she says is easily understandable. Execptions to the rule are "kee-nahn" (carrot) and "goy-yo" (yogurt). The word "Bible" is very clear; the problem is that "diaper" also sounds like "Bible." Go figure! Any animal vaguely horse-like is a "ho-see" (one of my favorite words by far). She copies everything she hears us say ("Yi yuv you"). Her funniest non-sequitur is "feet!" She'll be playing, babbling, or talking about something else when suddenly she'll exclaim, "Feet!" It cracks us up every time. When Don asks her for kisses she shakes her head back and forth, which usually means that she wants a nose rub (Eskimo kiss).


To wrap up, here's a photo of the girls having a tea party at the Magic House. And we pray you're enjoying your summer as much are we are!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

We have had a great day today. We headed over to nearby Webster Groves with friends to watch a parade. We sat right at the end of the route and had great seats in the shade. It's been a gorgeous day - breezy, low humidity, and in the mid 70s. We came home and packed up lunch stuff and headed two buildings over to our friends' house for a BBQ. Bethie slept, the grown-ups ate and visited, and the other kids screamed and ran up and down the hill jumping into one or the other of the two kiddie pools. The weather was still beautiful and we had a wonderful time. We're home now, Hannah's watching Monsters, Inc. having some quiet time on the couch. Soon Don will have to try to get some homework done. We still haven't decided if we're going to go out tonight to try to see some fireworks. It depends on how the evening goes. Here's a photo of us at the parade:
God's blessings on your 4th of July celebrations - thanks for checking in!

Monday, June 23, 2008

One year ago today...

...we left California. Don just figured it out. We left Bakersfield on June 21 to spend two days at Disney/California Adventure. And on the 23rd we left California, passing into Arizona. Wow. I can hardly believe it's been a year.

I count July 1 as our first day in St. Louis - it was the day we actually got our keys and had our apartment walk-through - plus it's easy to remember. I think we'll bake a cake or something and have a family celebration on July 1. It's crazy to look back on how far we've come, how much we've settled in, how much the girls (especially Elizabeth) have grown and changed. Here's a glimpse:

July 4, 2007 (Bethie was 3 months old)**** April 20, 2008 (Bethie @ 1 year old)


Don doesn't think Elizabeth has changed much...what do you think? She has a little more hair I suppose... :-)

Couple updates: Hannah went to VBS last week and met a new friend, Mya, who will be in her preschool class next year. They were just bestest buddies for the week, so it's great to know she'll have a friend as soon as school starts. Elizabeth is crusing all around the furniture now and really growing in her thinking and problem-solving skills (no, really). She still has no interest in walking/standing/pushing her scooter by herself though. Maybe she'll walk by the end of the summer. Don is in the 4th week (of 9) of summer classes. His first 4-week class ends this week and he'll start a new one on July 7. (His 9-week class continues the whole time. Confused?) I've been carting the girls all over - VBS last week, Tower Grove Park today, the Clayton community pool tomorrow, the library every Thursday, and more to come. I'm still working on the Today's Light Bible readings, trying to read through the whole Bible in two years (before we go on vicarage). When I started we were in the Gospels and have worked our way around to the Old Testament again. I'm in 1 Samuel now.

That's about it for us. I'm reading John Lescroart's Betrayal and it's due back at the library on Thursday with no renewals, so I better get crackin'! Love to all - thank you so much to all of you who keep us up to date on your lives and bless us with your prayer requests. Many of you are on our family prayer board. Keep in touch - we miss you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Warning: Commercial plug

Hannah and Elizabeth recently became members of TotSpot. Rather than try to describe it myself (I described it to Don as Facebook for kids), here is what the homepage says:

What is TotSpot?
TotSpot is a place for parents to publish a page about their kids and share with family and friends. It's part online babybook, parent journal, and social network. Childhood is an ongoing story and TotSpot is the first site that makes it super easy for parents to securely share their kid's story with friends and family.


We were invited to join by my friend Kerri and her daughter Anya. So we joined along with maybe 600 other people who were invited. TotSpot just today made the site open to anyone who wants to join, even without an invitation. So if you have kids and want to try it out, be sure to search for our girls (HannahGrace and BethieJoy) and request that we be friends. Even if you don't have kids, you can sign up as a "grown-up" friend and see what we're up to. (Don't worry, I have to approve all requests, so I'll know all of their "friends." No strangers allowed.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

All's well that ends well

Quick update to let everyone know that everything's fine here. We didn't end up having to return to the basement last night, so we had a nice quiet evening. I did pack the diaper bag with snacks, water, a flashlight, candles and a lighter, just in case. Our neighbors said that last summer they were down in the basement for quite a while and the power ended up being off for 4-5 days (we've heard horror stories about that experience!). But we all realized that none of us had anything for light in the event the power went out again. So I was temporarily prepared, though nothing happened. But we need to think about permanent solutions so we always have light, water, and snacks. Oh the joys of living in the midwest!

In other kid news, Bethie is finally crawling (at 14 months)! She started two days ago and is so immensely proud of herself. We can hear her coming from the other room, breathing hard and giggling. She arrives sweaty and clammy, but with a big grin on her face. She's pretty slow, and as Don says, is so awkward she looks like Frankenstein, but she's doing it.

Don's leading worship at church tonight, so I'm on my own for the evening with the girls. Hannah's about to have a tantrum, so I better go. God bless!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Not in Oz yet

We are currently down in our basement waiting out a tornado watch (gotta love technology!). The tornado sirens have gone off twice and we've been down here for about an hour and a half. The kids are doing great - especially now that we have snacks. The sirens went off just as I got them both down for naps, so I think naps are now out of the question. Hannah doesn't really understand, which is fine with me - I don't want her to be unduly scared.

Praise God for good neighbors! We've been playing games, kicking a ball around, eating snacks, visiting, drinking our neighbor's homemade beer (!), and talking about all the creature comforts we want to bring down for next time. The worst has probably passed, but we'll stay for a little longer. Then someone (Don) will probably run out for pizza or sandwiches before the next cell comes in later this evening. I'm sure we'll be fine, but if you're reading this sometime Friday afternoon or evening, say a prayer for us and all those in our area. God bless - we'll post again tonight or tomorrow when all danger has passed. Love to all
--The wind-blown Rays
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Birthday Bashes

Since our last update, we've celebrated two more birthdays in our house. Hannah turned 4 on May 19. We celebrated with Daddy on May 16, since he was headed out to New York the next morning for a week-long "field trip." That evening, we gave Hannah her main present (paid for by mom & dad, Papa & Nana, Grammies, and Noni) - a Fisher Price digital camera. Then Don left for NY and Noni (my mom) arrived for the week. She was here to celebrate Hannah's actual birthday (we went to MoBot that day) and we had a great time. Once Don got home from New York, it was time to have Hannah's birthday party. We decided on Wednesday, May 28 (which was my 31st birthday) because our venue of choice, CiCi's Pizza, lets kids eat free on Wednesdays. Here are a couple shots of both birthday girls at Hannah's birthday party.




















Two days later Hannah got to go to her friend Allie's birthday party. Allie had a very girlie "makeup" party. The girls got to fix their hair, put on finger- and toe nail polish as well as "real" makeup. Hannah had a blast. Here's a picture of her "handiwork" and another of her dressed up in one of Allie's outfits. Too cute!




















In other news, we've been talking for a couple days about cutting Hannah's hair. I finally decided to take the plunge and go for it. It's a little shorter than I had planned, but we can still put it up and we can always take her somewhere and have someone else clean it up. For now, it works. It's cute and it'll be cooler this summer. Here she is:


















Finally, a few new Hannah-isms for you to enjoy:
On one of our first warm days, Hannah was so excited it was warm enough for her to wear “pants with short sleeves” (shorts).

Hannah told me that she and her doll Brooklyn were both having babies. The babies would be twins and their names would be Geyser and Ladybugger.

I was telling Hannah that I had a cold and wasn’t feeling well. She responded seriously, “Being sick is no fun.” Then she brightened, “But CandyLand is fun!”

It took us an especially long time one day to get to school. I began to say that we’d try a different route the next Tuesday. I said, “I think on…” and she cut in, “Northbound 70?” Obviously she’s been listening to the traffic reports!

We learned recently that Hannah is trying to wean Brooklyn (her doll). Hannah’s “boobies” produce soy milk that is a “vanilla-y-ish flavor” with chocolate chips in it (!).

Look for another update soon on Bethie!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You know you need a break when...

DR: I just saw on Stacye's Facebook wall a quote from Calvin. I immediately thought, “John.” Nope. It was the “and Hobbes” one.

Seminary academia has officially taken my brain cells hostage.

It's what happens during finals week around here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spiritual blindness

DR: I was reflecting recently on the Gospel of Mark, at the end of chapter 10, where Jesus Christ restores the sight of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar. A few thoughts came to mind which I recorded in my journal and came across again today; I had never before considered this paradigm:

How does a blind man realize he is blind? Is it because he is able to innately perceive his own blindness? What if a blind man was born into a cloistered community comprised exclusively of blind people, every one of whom had never left the confines of the compound or communicated with the outside world? Would any of them realize the others were blind, let alone themselves? Indeed, how could they? One’s blindness becomes evident only within a community of sight. If a blind man is to understand the reality of his sightless condition, he must first be made aware of it by one who sees.

There have been many instances in my own life where I have been blind to the truth of a given situation or been blind to the reality of my own sinfulness. Sin, pride, arrogance, and an unwillingness to see the truth...these (among others) can all be factors which prevent us from seeing things as they truly are.

I believe that only by being made aware of our blindness within a community of biblical sight and insight can we begin to perceive our condition. Receiving the Holy Spirit and studying God's Word in loving, honest, and accountable relationship with others helps the scales of our spiritual blindness fall away. Christ restores our sight, often by working through such means.


The blind beggar, Bartimaeus, helplessly pleas the merciful plea, "My Lord, let me see!" And Christ's response to him, as it is to us? "'Go, your faith has saved you.' And immediately, he regained his sight and began to follow Jesus on the journey." (Mark 10:51-52)

Jesus says, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind” (John 9:39).

Amen.

God's love and richest blessings to you,
Don and the girls

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We made it


My last post asked for prayers, as Don was in the middle of the busiest week of the quarter. Praise God, we made it through! His week was hugely helped by Friday's Hebrew test being postponed to Monday and all the other papers and tests were finished and studied for on time. He even earned a 98% on one paper! We went out to sushi on Friday to celebrate. :-)
It's hard to believe that there are barely two weeks left in the quarter! Our first year has gone by so fast and I know that the rest will fly by even faster.
May will be busy, as Don will soon begin preparing for finals (5/13-5/15). Graduation for the concluding year students and (tentatively) Hannah's birthday party will be May 16. From May 17-25 Don will be in New York City for a cross-cultural module and my mom will be visiting from May 18-25. Then once Don returns, he has about a one-week break before beginning a full summer school schedule on May 27. And somewhere in there we'll celebrate Hannah's 4th birthday and my 31st. Whew!

Here are a few pictures from Bethie's first birthday. She really enjoyed her carrot cake!



Finger lickin' good!



This is about as messy as she got...where's the fun in that?

I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fancy Nancy



My mom has informed me that I don't take enough pictures of Hannah (as compared to the ones I take of Elizabeth). So I thought I thought I'd show you some from last week - the Week of the Young Child. To celebrate this special week, Hannah's preschool class got to dress up as their favorite storybook character. Hannah's favorite character is Fancy Nancy (she even wanted to name Elizabeth Fancy Nancy). We own the original book and the sequel, Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy. Can you tell she had tons of fun?


Here she is with her preschool teachers. Mrs. V was Emily Elizabeth (from the Clifford books) and Mrs. Deidrich was the Cat in the Hat.

We have a few prayer requests. First, tomorrow (Tuesday) is "Call Day," when many of the men here on campus will find out where they will be spending their one-year vicarages or (an even bigger deal) learning where their first church will be once they graduate next month. Call Day is a huge deal around here as four+ years of hard work culminate in finding out where you and your family will be living and serving the Lord. So please keep all the guys and their families in prayer as they find out tomorrow and begin preparing for this huge change in their lives. (If all goes as scheduled, our Call Day will be in April of 2011.)

Second, this will be Don's busiest week so far. He turned in one paper today (on less than four hours of sleep) and still has three quizzes, two papers, two tests, and a partridge in a pear tree. Sleep around here hasn't been great lately between the earthquake, Elizabeth having an unexplained bad night, and Hannah having two terrible nights in a row. We could all use your prayers for sleep (!) and for Don to have clarity of mind and focus as he gets through the next four days. Thank you!

You and your prayers are all a blessing to us. We praise God for you!

Friday, April 18, 2008

An earthquake!? In Missouri!?

DR: We were woken up at 4:36am Central Standard Time this morning by an earthquake! Being a native Californian, I (Don) have lived through probably a dozen or more earthquakes in my life, including the big 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989. Some Californians think they're fun. I think those people are weird. If you're one of them, you're weird. After experiencing the big earthquake in 1989, I can't say that I am particularly scared by most earthquakes, but there are lots of other things I'd rather do with my time, given the choice!

We've heard here and there that earthquakes can happen in the Missouri area, though they are incredibly rare, particularly when compared with the activity along the West Coast and up into Alaska.

The earthquake this morning woke up both Stacye and Hannah, and they woke me up. I probably would have slept through it were it not for their "enthusiasm." :-) I have slept through earthquakes before.


This morning, I went in and got Bethie from her bed in the event this one kept going, but it lasted only about 10 or 15 seconds.

I told Stacye, "Well, depending on the location of the epicenter, my guess is that was about a '5' on the Richter Scale." Well, this one this morning registered a 5.2 and the epicenter was about 125 miles east-southeast of our home in St. Louis, MO, across the border in Illinois. After I reported the facts to Stacye, my loving and honest wife who does an excellent job of keeping her husband from becoming too proud said, "Show off."

No damage. We are fine. We gave a science lesson to Hannah, all the girls went back to bed, and I'm up now to study.

Here is a link to the U.S. Geological Survey online that details this morning's earthquake. I am amazed by the technology that exists to report these things. Any earthquake, anywhere in the world, up on the Internet in real time.

Have a blessed day and weekend --
Don and the girls

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quotables

"The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity but its sending capacity." -Mike Stachura

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quotables

DR: this is a busy week for me academically (several tests and papers due), so perhaps more on family and sem life this weekend, when we have an opportunity to "come up for air" and give you an update on how things are moving along.

For now, I wanted to share a quote with you I came across this morning in my personal reading; this one from the book The Churching of America, 1776-2005:

"In all that is important, the Church must stand firm in its witness to the truth that is eternal and unchanging… If it is to remain true to its vocation, it must take its stand against the world, against the age, against the spirit of the age—because the world and the age are always, to a degree, to an important degree, in rebellion against God.” -Will Herberg

Amen!

God's love and blessings,
Don and the girls

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

He is Risen!

He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

As we reflect on the past Lenten season and the celebration of Easter, we are once again reminded of God's grace and love for us. How incomprehensible that God would send His beloved Son to inhabit a human body and be put to death on a cross, carrying the sins of the entire world with Him! And yet, even more astounding - Jesus didn't stay dead! He rose again on Easter day, proving that God has power over everything (even death!), sin has no hold on us, and we have a God who loves us more than we can fathom.

Hannah asked me in the car today on the way to school, "Mommy, when Jesus was on the cross, why did He say, 'Forgive Me'?"

What an awesome opportunity! I explained to Hannah that He actually said "Forgive them," and then I explained what He meant. On the surface, Jesus was asking God the Father to forgive the ones who had nailed Him on the cross and written his death sentence. But, much more importantly, He was asking God to forgive all the billions and trillions and zillions of sins committed by every single person who has ever lived on planet Earth. Every single one of us is a sinner. And the Bible says that even one teensy, tiny sin sets us apart from God. We are totally lost, helpless, and hopeless. BUT! God loves us so much, that He made a way for our sins to be forgiven - Jesus. Because the sinless, perfect Son of God took every one of those sins upon Himself, they have been paid for. God now sees me (and all believers) through the "lens" of Jesus - He no longer sees my sin and accepts me with open arms into His presence. This gives me the assurance of Heaven when I die. Praise God!

So anyway, I explained all of this in "3-year-old language," and Hannah was satisfied. But what a way to start the morning - I think I was still waking up at the time :-)

Okay, now that you've gotten through the theology, we have a new slide show below with Easter pictures. This was a really neat Easter in some ways. It's the first time that Hannah has been old enough to understand what Easter is really all about. She understands that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. She can tell you all about the empty tomb how the angels told the women at the tomb that He was alive. She knows that He appeared to and visited with many people over the next 40 days. It's really cool that she asks to read her Bible at night and is starting to get the idea that everything that happened in her Bible really did happen.

It was kind of a hard Easter though too. For one, it was the very first Easter of my life that I wasn't with my family. We didn't go to church on Maundy Thursday (too late at night for the girls), missed most of Good Friday service (traffic), and then our Easter celebration was actually on Saturday (our church has a big "Eggstravaganza" on Saturday and encourages members to worship then, leaving room Sunday for visitors). So on Easter Sunday, we didn't go to church, but spent the day together as a family, reading the Easter story out of several different books Hannah has and the girls were given Easter gifts from us. Hannah did get to hunt for her Easter eggs and she loved that. But to top it all off, it snowed on Easter! I mean, come on! Apparently this is one of the coldest, wettest springs St. Louis has had in a while. Great. Thanks. Can I please wear short sleeves one of these days?

So anyway, enjoy the pictures. I especially like the ones showing what happened when Bethie found one of Hannah's shiny new eggs and discovered that there was something inside!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hannah can read!

...sort of. She knows all her letters and knows what sounds they make. She can "sound out" the individual letters of a word, but until now hasn't quite gotten the idea that she can put the sounds together to "read" the word. Tonight, she sounded out a word and (finally, with help) put the sounds together and figured out what the word was. Here it is:




















Gob










er, God.


(As she was sounding it out, more often than not, the "d" was a "b," but I imagine that's pretty common for kids to do.) Later, she looked a sheet of stickers, some of which said "God" on them, and she was able to pick out the word God every time.

So I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, but I can't help but think that it'll just be a matter of time before she can read on her own. Too fun! I can't wait to share my love of books with her. I'll just have to be wise to the tricks (as a kid, I would stuff a rolled up towel or clothes against the bottom of my door so my mom couldn't tell my light was on when I was up past midnight reading Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables). Though wily Miss Hannah will probably come up with things I never would have thought of...so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New slide show - with some pics from California

Domestic Life

Update from the domestic side of Ray Family Life:
Wake up, eat breakfast, do dishes. Play, eat lunch, do dishes, take naps. Make dinner, eat dinner, do dishes (or not), get ready for bed. The end, see you next week.


Just kidding...kind of. The boring truth is that we haven't been up to much lately. We had a couple "nice" days (low 60s, which really was nice for us), but now we're back to cold rain again. Hannah was inside all day yesterday, so I set up her tent (from Nana - similar to this one, but in pink camouflage) in the living room. She loved it and she and Elizabeth spent quite a while playing and going in and out. She ate a "picnic" lunch in there and of course wanted to sleep in it for her nap. Luckily it fit in our bedroom and her mattress fit inside as well (more on why she's sleeping in our room in a minute). She conked right out and took a 2+ hour nap - and I had to wake her up! Then her friend Allie came over and the two girls had a blast coloring and "hiding" from Bethie in the tent. A success! And she slept in it last night and did great, except for waking up once, flailing against the sides, scared. I got her calmed down and she was fine.

Hannah's on Easter break this week from school, so we don't even have that to distract us. since there's not much else to do, I'm letting her watch a little more TV - currently Bob the Builder. Later we'll probably play Candy Land - Dora, natch. (Side note: when we first got this game and I began teaching it to Hannah, I realized why it has been such an enduring classic for 60-ish years. I probably could have said nothing and turned her loose and she would have figured it out. It is such an intuitive process and she just "got it." She's really cute - a game just isn't complete if she doesn't get a "pink card," one of the various pieces of candy that sends you forward or backward. She doesn't care which direction she goes, she just wants the pink card. She's just barely starting to get the concept of winning and losing...darn. I liked it much better when she had no concept at all - games were much more fun.)

Bethie is still Bethie. We can't believe we're less than 3 weeks from her first birthday! How did that happen? She still just scootches around on her tummmy - no crawling, no pulling up, she can't even sit her own self up from a prone position. When we pull her up though and help her "walk," she screeches and wiggles and takes off - usually after Hannah. When you try to sit her back down she stiffens up her whole body so you can't sit her down. She would probably "walk" around the house all day if our backs could handle it. She's a very sensitive soul. She often cries because her feelings have been hurt. Her face just collapses and if she's laying on her tummy, she puts her head down on her hands and sobs. If she remembers to put her thumb in her mouth or has a parent nearby to comfort her, she calms down pretty quickly. (One of the worst offenders? Leaving her in a room and shutting the door behind you. We've asked Hannah not to do this because Elizabeth just wails - it's pure torture.)

Bethie says "baby" and "uh-oh" and can make the sounds for mama, daddy, apple, and several others (she just doesn't match the meanings yet). We're finding that she's quite the mimicker. She repeats many many sounds she hears - anything from letter sounds to tone of voice. She signs "more" and "all done" and is starting to sign "please." She now copies us and folds her hands when it's time to pray before meals. When we ask her to give us something she complies. And since she eats absolutely everything she finds on the floor, she knows that when she hears, "Now what are you eating, child?" she pulls the offending object out of her mouth and hands it to me (unless it's especially tasty, like dried orange Play-Doh, in which case she cries as if you ran over her puppy).

Ever since we got back from California, she had been waking up earlier and earlier. When it was 4:10 a.m. and nothing worked until I nursed her, we decided something had to be done. So we moved Hannah on her mattress into our room, intending to soothe Bethie upon her early-morning wake up, but not take her out of bed and make her figure out that she needed to go back to sleep. That first day, she only got one (long) nap and went to bed at 6:45 p.m. She slept until 5:45, I nursed her on the couch (instead of our bed) and put her back in her own bed. She went right back to sleep until 8:00! It's been pretty much the same since last Thursday night. This morning I didn't nurse her until 6:45 - 12 hours of sleep! So Hannah will probably move back into their room tonight and we'll pray that Bethie keeps sleeping well. We'll see!

I'll leave you with a few recent Hannah-isms. Thanks for reading!

(On the plane to California…)
H: Mommy, did you remember to pack my vitamins?
M: Yes, they’re in your shoe (meaning, in her shoe in her suitcase).
H: (totally confused and looking at her feet) I didn’t feel them.

H: Mommy, tomorrow can you play Dress-up with me?
M: Sure babe.
H: I mean Snake. (Then she lays on the floor and wriggles like a snake to demonstrate - don't we all get Dress-up and Snake confused?)

I was explaining to Don why Hannah had a grilled cheese with mayonnaise for lunch and she interjects, “I don’t want to discuss it.”

In Hannah-land, Spaghetti = Stabecki.

We were trying to explain the time change and Daylight Savings Time and she said, “So that’s why last night it was still morning?”

Bethie was saying the sound “ah, ah” and Hannah exclaimed “Mommy, Sissy’s trying to say ottoman!”

Hannah’s friend Anna explained to me that her mommy and daddy like it when she drinks beer because it’s healthy for her.

We were listening to a Superchick song called "So Bright", and when they repeat “So bright, so bright, so bright, so bright…” she asked, “Are they saying ‘pretzel?’”

(Here you can tell she still has a few, uh, minor gender identification issues to work out…)
H: I’m the Princess of Jazz.
M: Can you scat?
H: Yeah. (She skips across the kitchen.) That’s my scatting…Have you met my wife? He’s nice.
M: What’s his name?
H: Jasmine. He likes people.

(Finally, a stewardship interaction to warm the hearts of both her earthly daddy and her heavenly Daddy.)
“Especially coins are really important for God because they’re silver. I’m going to give this big big big one to Jesus (a quarter) because it has a bird on it."

Monday, March 10, 2008

That's My King!

Greetings from the Ray Family!

DR: This post officially marks our longest "blog dry spell" of 17 days without a new post...thanks for your patience!

We are safely back in St. Louis after a wonderful trip and visit with many family and friends in California, thank the Lord.

We are just about ready to begin the second week of our Spring quarter at the seminary. My schedule is absolutely nuts, and Stacye is a fantastic support for our girls and me as we continue to march on this journey together in Christ.

I estimate 14-hour days M-F and 4- to 5-hour days Sat-Sun, for the next 9 weeks. That's about 80 hours/week, if my math is right. And I don't think that's much of an exaggeration, really. It's just plain crazy.

I frankly don't always agree with how much the seminary throws at us, but it is what it is. I think an unfortunate consequence of having this much "stuff" given to us is that it implicitly teaches future pastors that < insane busyness = "productivity" >. But I'm not at all convinced Jesus wants us to run around like frantic rats. As Lily Tomlin once said, "The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."

But what do I know? I'm just a first-year seminary student who isn't supposed to know anything. Rats!

Enough lamenting, I wanted to share with you a really powerful 2-3 minute clip I recently came across called "That's My King!" I tried to upload the video from our computer to this site but it wouldn't work. So instead, here is the link to the site where I got it from. Just click on the words "click here to preview" underneath the video box and it will play.

It is an audio excerpt from a sermon delivered by the late Rev. S.M. Lockridge. You'll just have to watch it and listen to it--I pray God's Spirit moving through Pastor Lockridge moves and touches you as it has me. Frankly, I watch it often when the stress, busyness, and minutae of seminary nags at me. It reminds me of the God who loves us and whom we serve. He is awesome, He is everything, He is our all in all!!!

Be blessed this week. Christ does indeed loves you, even when it may not feel like it. And we love you too. Hope to talk and visit with you soon.

Don and the girls

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We're Here!

We have arrived in California! We are thoroughly enjoying our visit. Praise God, our trip out on Monday was pretty uneventful, as much as a flight across country can be. The girls did really well, even though neither one of them slept much at all. By the time we arrived at my mom's house and got them to bed, it was going on 10:00 (midnight their time). Then of course they woke up at 4:00 and 5:00 AM (which is their normal 6:00 and 7:00 St. Louis time). But now they're both on kind of normal schedules, so that's a blessing.

On Tuesday we just relaxed and napped a little, catching up on some sleep. I've been to two of the Bible studies I used to be involved in and the whole family went to soup and salad dinner and the Lenten service at church last night. It's been great to see our family, friends, and church family. We have a couple playdates and meals with friends planned. Don had lunch with a friend and is enjoying being able to study lots of Greek. Yesterday Hannah got to spend a couple hours with her friends at St. John's preschool. What a special experience! And of course, Noni and her girls are just soaking up every minute they can.

We're really looking forward to this weekend too. On Saturday, we'll spend the day with some of our out-of-town family members who are able to drive up for the visit, including my brother and his wife, driving in from Las Vegas (Happy Birthday Christopher!). We're praying that Don's brother Dave (whose birthday is also soon) will be able to join us, but he's been pretty sick. My grandparents and a few sets of aunts, uncles, and cousins will join us as well. Saturday night and all morning Sunday we'll attend a total of four church services. It will also be such a blessing to see and visit with many members of our church family. Sunday afternoon will be an open house for us to visit in a more casual setting. (Thanks Larry & Pam & others!)

Monday, if the weather's nice, we really want to go over to the coast. As Don put it, we want to get some sand between our land-locked St. Louis toes! And one of my favorite foods in the world is the award-winning clam chowder at Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach so a trip to California wouldn't be complete without it!

And finally, another huge blessing for us is our visit tomorrow with our dear friends, the Marmolejos. Sadly, Anissa's grandfather passed away, so they're here in Bakersfield (from Texas) for his service. Three of their four children are our godchildren and we just love their whole family, so we are really looking forward to visiting with them tomorrow.

Our visit is already going by too fast and we are enjoying every minute of it. We're praying that everyone stays safe and healthy and for a safe trip back to St. Louis on Wednesday. Oh - it's about 30-40 degrees warmer here and apparently we are missing the worst weather St. Louis has had this winter so far. There's about 2 inches of dangerous sleet, snow, and frozen rain on the ground with more to come tonight. The schools and much of the city are shut down. Our friend reported that she saw 7 accidents on her way to work - a 3.5 mile stretch of freeway! Yet another reason to be glad we're in California this week!

Blessings to all - we're so happy to be here!
Love,
Stacye, Don, Hannah, & Elizabeth

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Soundtrack of My Day

Here are some things running through my (already crowded) brain today:

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk on a Winter's day
I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin' on such a Winter's day


When the wintry winds starts blowing
And the snow is starting in the fall
Then my eyes went westward knowing
That's the place that I love best of all
California I’ve been blue
California, Here I Come
Right back where I started from


I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California girls


So if you haven't guessed, we are doing laundry and packing today to fly to Bakersfield, California tomorrow! We are very excited about our first trip home since we moved to St. Louis - especially Hannah. She's been running around like a maniac all evening. Right after she woke up this morning, I asked her what she thought we should do tomorrow. She had obviously forgotten that tomorrow was "the day" and immediately decided she wanted to go to Mrs. V's class (her preschool). I started to say no, maybe something else, and she began to get very emphatic with me. Until I said, "I was thinking we should take a short trip to, oh I don't know, maybe BAKERSFIELD?!" and she got so excited. She's been on a high all day - too excited to nap even.

In other Hannah news, she's conviced that when she turns 4 she'll be a teenager. She also told me when she grows up she’ll be a real mommy and have a real baby, a baby boy. He’ll have spiky up rainbow hair and she’ll take care of him by nursing him, reading to him, giving him hugs and baths. And I can't remember if I posted these of not, so if so, I ask forgiveness for being a doting Mommy: (Who knows what conversation precipated the following comment of Don's, but Hannah's response was priceless)
D: I was a naïve nerd (in high school). I still am sometimes.
H: You’re telling me grown-up things.
D: Why don’t you say a grown-up thing.
H: Blee blee blah blah blee blee blee.

Another time, Elizabeth took a bite of food and sneezed, blowing it all out of her mouth. Hannah's response, "Bethie bless you’d all her food out!"

And Hannah “lost her finger” at school (just pretending) and told Daddy that she needed scratch tape to put it back on.

In family news, Don is officially done with Winter Quarter. He took his Greek Readings final last Thursday and is pretty sure he got an A both on the final and in the class. His Hebrew class is different though. Quarters are 10 weeks and Elementary Hebrew is 15 weeks. So he still has 5 weeks of Hebrew to go after we return. He got a huge packet of homework to do over the break and has a test the first day back. Luckily though, the professor agreed to give the guys up to a week to take the test if they need extra time. So he plans to just plug away at the packet and see how he feels once class starts again. Next quarter he'll take Hebrew, Hebrew Readings, Pastoral Ministry, Intro to Historical Theology, and Lutheran Mind. I don't know too much about "PMin" or Lutheran Mind, so I'll let Don describe those when he has a chance.

And finally, here are a few new pictures:


Here's Hannah at "Messy Play" at the Clayton Family Center.









"Freedom! Escape! So long suckers!"









Most of Hannah's preschool class at the Museum of Transportation, culminating their unit on trains.



So please pray for safe travel for us and blessings on our trip to Bakersfield. We may update the blog from there, so look for new stories and pictures soon. God's blessings!
--Stacye & the Travelin' Rays

Friday, February 8, 2008

His Amazing Grace makes national news (an update)

Praise God...just 24 hours after 6 people lost their lives in the senseless shooting in Kirkwood, Missouri, hundreds of community members gathered together in unity for Christ to shine His light and love to a darkened world...



Here's the story on cnn.com.

Love and blessings in Christ Jesus,
The Rays

Our hearts are heavy...our prayers continue... (revised)

Our hearts are very heavy because of a tragic shooting that took place last night at City Hall in Kirkwood, Missouri.

A disgruntled man who had experienced frustration with the Kirkwood City Council in the recent past shot and killed Kirkwood Police Sgt. William Biggs on his way into last night's council meeting. He took Sgt. Biggs' service weapon, entered the council chambers, and fatally shot Kirkwood Police Officer Tom Ballman immediately upon entrance. He then shot and killed three city officials--Councilmembers Connie Karr and Michael Lynch, (both pictured in the "Kirkwood City Council" link above) and Public Works Director Ken Yost--and wounded two others, before being fatally wounded by responding Kirkwood police officers.

The two people wounded were Mayor Mike Swoboda and a journalist in attendance. The journalist was shot in the hand and is expected to fully recover. Mayor Swoboda was shot in the head and has been upgraded to serious condition but remains in ICU. Please hold Mayor Swoboda and his family in your prayers as he comes through this horrible tragedy.

You may have heard about the story already, as it has made national news. Here is the link to the full story on cnn.com

Local churches will be holding vigils this afternoon and evening, to continue to bear Christ's light in this dark world, and to continue to pray for all the victims and their families. This is especially hard for the small and tight-knit Kirkwood Police Department, who just two years ago lost another officer in the line of duty.

Our hearts are very heavy for all involved and for our community. Please join us in praying for our community.

A quaint suburb of just 27,000 residents, Kirkwood is about 10 miles west/southwest of Concordia Seminary, and the home to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod international headquarters. Just four blocks away from Kirkwood City Hall is Concordia Lutheran Church, the field work church of our seminarian brother, Jerry Hays, and his family, who lost their 9-year old son in a helicopter accident in December.

We are to be Christ's light in this dark, dark world. Let us take this opportunity to express God's love and grace as we pray for all those involved and for the healing of our nation and its communities.

In Christ's love, serving Him with you--
Don, Stacye, and our girls

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Snow

We've had more snow...lots of it. We've heard that it's been years since St. Louis has had this much snow all at once. The best part is that I have an awesome husband and the first morning after it snowed, he and our neighbor went out and cleared the snow off our car and our whole parking space. And everyone in our apartment building shared in the snow-clearing duties for the stairs and walkways. So we can get to where we need to go without stomping through 7-9 inches of snow, but also when we want to go have fun in it, we can do that too.

And have fun we did! Hannah and I spent much of the day today playing outside and sledding. We had a ball. Unfortunately, Don thought maybe he was getting sick and Bethie has an ear infection, so they stayed inside. I didn't take any pictures today, but I "borrowed" these from our Seminary President's wife's blog so you all could see how pretty everything looks. Enjoy!



The Chapel



The Dining Hall



A strange specimen, foreign to us native Californians


Luther Statue


Benches outside the Chapel