Spring 2011

Hello friends and family. I am terribly sorry to have neglected you this past Spring. It has been one of the craziest times of life for us here, and I had not even thought about blogging in months. Benjer's job has been keeping him very busy, and Jennifer's job of taking care of the girls and Benjer, as well as her volunteering and teaching has also been keeping her busy. It has been a very dreary spring here, with this past week being the first to have more than one sunny day in a row. So, here is a photo gallery of what we have been enjoying these past few months, despite the lack of sunny or warm weather:

Ice cream!!!
 All bundled up... almost all Spring long.  

Bethany right before her first dance class. She has been taking a half tumbling, half ballet class since January (thank you Nana!)

Who can forget about the Treehouse Museum, where we spend many dreary, rainy mornings?


Having fun inside: Drawing and other art projects,
 dressing up in Mama's shoes,
 and wrestling.
Wagon rides rule. In our neighborhood, with sidewalks that leave a lot to be desired, it is very good that Granny got the girls an All Terrain Wagon! :)

The Zoo (Thank you Adam, Molly, Caroline and Charlie!)

 The girls on Easter all dressed up :)

And, thanks to Aunt Nan and Granny, we just got a new sandbox for the backyard. We have really enjoyed it and when it gets really warm we'll get our water table out and have some fun summer days. Mama is looking forward sitting in the backyard while the girls play, too!


Bethany's 3rd Birthday!

We can hardly believe Bethany turned 3 yesterday! One on hand it seems like just yesterday that we found out we were going to be parents, but on the other hand it seems like she's been with us forever. I cannot imagine my life without  my little Monkey Jones. Bethany LOVES Curious George. So, naturally she wanted a Curious George party. She got to choose 3 friends to come to her party (but one of them was a little picture-shy). Below is the Birthday Girl and two of her friends, Bethany and Leah Holladay.

 We started out with an arts & crafts project: making their own placemats with googlie-eyes. 

Bethany even got to hold a baby! Sweet baby Josiah is the little brother of Bethany H. and Leah.

 Mama and Jaxon's Mama, Denise. Jaxon is the picture-shy third friend she invited. 

The monkeys!

Monkey-ing around! 

And here is the cake Bethany requested: A cake that looks like Bananas but tastes like chocolate. 

I am having some severe technical difficulties getting our videos of the party to upload to here or youtube, so when my super-smart husband is able to, he will post them later :). 

Happy Birthday Bethany! 


Here are our belated Christmas time photos. Enjoy!

This was the first Christmas Bethany was old enough to help decorate a tree. She got to help Granny decorate her tree before we decorated ours at home.

We got to spend some time with Uncle Jeff and Joelle and family during our trip to Colorado. Sammy sure enjoyed snuggling and playing with them.

Bethany's older cousins, Joshua, Madeline and Emma love to play with her! Pictured here is the treasure trail Joshua made for Bethany in their house.

As previously mentioned in a sermon by Daddy, here is Samantha pushing Bethany in the stroller :).

At their check up at the doctor this past week, we found out that the girls are only about 2.5 pounds apart. But, Bethany still loves to hold her sister...

...and can still tackle her pretty well, too!
Making Santa Cookies with Daddy (a tradition in his family)

The girls got a train table from Mommy and Daddy as their big present this year, along with all of Daddy's hand me town brio trains and train tracks.
Here is Mommy painting it the night before:

And they got Granny's gift of an All Terrain Radio Flyer Wagon. We got to take it out Christmas morning in the neighborhood (as you can see we did not get a white Christmas. The snow came the next day).

With love to you all!
Benjer, Jennifer, Bethany & Samantha


Asking for Help, part 5

4. Guard Your Hearts Above All Else. Prov 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." While guarding your heart can seem somewhat subjective, I think we can easily see that the word "guard" means to watch over, keep safe, protect, defend, safeguard, and shield our hearts in this broken world, especially because our actions come from our heart. Matt 6:21 says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." So, we need to make sure that we are protecting our hearts when we are in relationships with one another, when we are asking for help, and when we are accepting it. Just because it is a blessing to be helped and to help others does not mean we should abandon prudence in the matter.

One question I received was, "What do you do when you ask for help and get it and then, later down the road, it's thrown in your face?

This question is one reason why I have put a foundation in all of these posts about being rooted in a Christian community when you are asking for help. When you are in a healthy Christian community, asking for help should never be thrown back in your face. Or if it is, then the conflict will be dealt with honestly and with the purpose of reconciliation. I also know that not all churches are always healthy, and some churches are just too broken to be ministering the way they ought to be, so be wise and prudent - and guarding your heart - when selecting the Christian community you are in, too!

I am wary of asking for help or advice from persons that I do not know very well, especially if it is to take care of my family in some way. I am responsible for their care and well being, even if someone else is helping me with that responsibility. So, I have to be intentional about building up a group of people I can trust to call on when I do need some help. For example, I have purposefully gotten to know several young women who can babysit for us when we do need a sitter.

If are in a situation where a fellow Christian has tried to make you feel terrible for asking for help or accepting it, then I would tactfully and in love, point out some of the biblical principles I have written about. I would try to reconcile with them, but then I would also be guarding my heart in the future with that person. Yes, there is some risk in asking for help, that someone might see you in a way that isn't true, or someone might judge you, or it might make you vulnerable to being hurt. This is true of living in our world. But, I do not think that means we need to try to pretend everything is fine when it isn't, or pretend we don't need help when we do. Just be wise and discerning who you ask for and accept help from, and if it ends up not being what we need, then I hope forgiveness and reconciliation will be roads we go down.


Asking for Help, part 4

3. Bear One Another's Burdens. This goes along with #2 on helping one another.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" ~Galatians 6:2

We can get caught up in the language of "burdens," as in thinking that we are burdensome to another person when we need some help, but I want to call your attention to how it feels when you get to help someone who is in need. If a person is truly in need, then it will not seem like a burden, but we feel satisfied and blessed. Let's take a look at this more by reading the rest of this passage in Galatians 6.
3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load."

[I'm not sure you all want a lesson in word studies here, but in case you are concerned about the apparent contradiction in this passage, I will just tell you that the greek word for "burden" used in v. 2 is different than the word for "load" or "burden" in v. 5. In v. 2 the word is referring to a heavy, crushing load, (such as failures, temptations, testings, trials, sorrows or suffering, as well as financial burdens). But the word in v. 5 is referring to our responsibility or burden towards God. Meaning, we must be responsible for our own spiritual intentions, heart, actions, etc, and not do it by comparing ourselves to one another.]

When we look at all of this in context, the ideal is that we would carry one another's afflictions, burdens, trials, etc by helping one another in need. When we do this we are fulfilling the whole law of Christ, which is to love God with all we have and love our neighbors as Christ loved us (Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, John 13:34). AND we need to do this without comparing ourselves with one another. I think where we get in trouble is in comparing ourselves to one another.

When we compare ourselves that is when we can worry about whether we seem weak, or as a friend of mine put it, whether she seems "needy" or like a "mooch." I would encourage you all to realize that this is EXACTLY what we are to do! We are supposed to let other people know when we are in need, when we are facing trials and have heavy burdens.

I need to wrap this post up, but I do want to just remind us of what I posted originally about pride. There is a difference between self-respect, feeling satisfied in what you have done, and being boastful (even in your heart), which is the pride I am speaking of here. This pride is primarily rooted in comparing yourself to another person. If we are ready to help another person, but we are too prideful to accept or ask for help, then what are we saying? The message is that we somehow are "above" being helped, but other people are not. This is the pride I am talking about. Pride is a most awful thing and it gets in the way of a lot of what God would have us do for each other. Slay your pride. Tell people when you are in need, in a safe Christian community, and you will see the love of Christ through the Body of Christ. This is one way that Jesus' yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt 11:28-30).