Archive for the Family
Saturday, March 31st, 2012
Sports commentary is not my thing, except when it’s by someone I’m especially interested in–like our son Barnabas.
Hear him in a World Magazine podcast, as he thinks out loud about March Madness, underdogs, & Easter.
Subscribe to NoelPiper.com by using the one of the Subscribe links to the right or by clicking here.
Saturday, February 25th, 2012
Lion’s Gym, our old favorite, is offering a Groupon deal this weekend. (If the link doesn’t open the Lion’s Gym page on Groupon, click “all deals” on the menu strip at the top.)
If you live in the Twin Cities and you’ve been thinking you really ought to get back in to a fitness routine, check it out. Lion’s Gym has two locations now–in St. Louis Park and in Robbinsdale.
When you go, tell Stephen that Noel sent you. It’ll be as good as if you area already his old friend. Please let me know when you sign up, so I can high-five you.
Below is what I wrote a year ago about Lion’s Gym and Stephen & Leah Menya, the owners.
I have to say, my first drive-by impression was underwhelming. If I hadn’t been looking for the gym, I wouldn’t have noticed it, tucked between a tanning salon and something else in a mini-stripmall sort of building.
But we all know it’s what inside that counts. And our friend was very persuasive, so we signed up. It was amazing.
Here are some of the things I like about Lion’s Gym:
- There’s a flavor of Africa in Stephen’s voice and words and laughter and often in the music playing.
- He calls us Mamá and Papá as he would any other people his parents’ generation in his home village in Kenya.
- After our one initial session, Stephen knew what we needed. Mamá needs to work on her abs. Papá needs to strengthen his lower back.
- Stephen sets the tone at the gym, and he is outgoing, happy, and funny.
- He introduces members to each other so we introverts can’t just sweat and be miserable in our separate corners.
- Stephen and Leah are Christian believers, and we have prayed together about challenges in their life and business.
- When we arrive, we sometimes hear worship music playing.
- Where else would the encouragement to push harder be, “Don’t waste your reps!”
- Stephen and other staff train all 3 of us at the same time, cycling us through sets on separate machines or sets of weights. I have seen them work effectively with 6 at the same time, each doing different exercises.
- Most important, the trainers know their stuff and are good teachers. We always appreciate the breather when we pause so they can show us a chart and explain how some group of muscles works so our exercise makes sense to us.
- Occasionally we get to see their wonderful toddler Sam. He drops into knee bends at the prompt of ”up – down – up – down.”
- Finally, you know that I care about life being accessible to people with disabilities. Recently, I found out that Stephen and Leah rearranged all those monstrously heavy machines so that one client who is visually impaired can make his own way around independently while he is working out.
Postscript: Matt Ledbetter joined the staff after I wrote the above. He’s good. I’ve seen him working winningly and effectively with both ends of the fitness spectrum: high-level athletes at one end and at the other end, elderly people who can hardly walk into the gym.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
I found the perfect valentine card for Johnny–with the famous giant S in a shield on the front. He’ll be the first to admit he’s not perfect, but I say he’s super nonetheless.
And I have a picture to prove it. My valentine is a super man.
Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
Life with Talitha — part 5
As long as I have a memory, I will know what date it was that Talitha learned what a birth mother is.
On a bitter, freezing January 22–in 2001–we stood with thousands of others outside the Minnesota Capitol, rallying for Life.
Talitha pointed to the line drawing on a poster raised high in the distance. “Look, there’s a picture of a baby being born–like baby Elizabeth!” I could see it was really a sketch of a partial birth abortion, but she didn’t need to know yet the horrors of that.
So I picked up the flow of her thought. “Yes, like your little friend. And like you.”
She quickly corrected me, “I wasn’t born. I was adopted.”
I had been thinking for a while it was time to expect questions from Talitha about her birth. Adoption was an everyday word and concept in our family, but we hadn’t yet talked about one very important person to whom we owe great gratitude.
Question or no, now was the time. And so on the stately steps of the capitol, I stooped to look into her eyes. “Talitha, first you were born and then you were adopted.” I explained that she had grown inside another woman–her birth mother–who could have chosen abortion, but instead protected her and gave birth to her.
Talitha carried home a “Choose Life” poster and put it in her bedroom window.
Today I thank God for the woman who gave birth to our beloved Talitha.
For many of us, being pro-life has changed our families through adoption. A couple of years ago I wrote a series of blog posts telling our adoption story. It begins here.
A follow-up series, Life with Talitha, begins here.
Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
Today I am thinking of only-God-knows-how-many people whose names only God knows. Maybe 52 million?
The oldest of our 5 children was born just 3 months before the US Supreme Court’s Roe versus Wade decision which was delivered on January 22, 1973. That means that those millions of babies — people — killed over the last 39 years are the peers of all my children. Only God knows which of them might potentially have been their playmates, classmates, work partners.
In a few minutes I’ll be gathering with other worshippers at Bethlehem’s south campus to hear my husband’s message to us on this heartbreaking anniversary.
I hope this day might be different than other Sundays for you. Perhaps you might:
- be gathering with others to let your presence proclaim your honoring of the sanctity of human life (For Minnesotans, it’s 2 pm at the State Capitol).
- take time to pray with compassion for mothers who are considering abortion right now and for God’s peace to to be understood and accepted in the hearts of men and women who have been responsible for an abortion.
- remember that no sin is too great for God to forgive. Jesus paid for it already for you or anyone who turns to him with faith.
- read the short booklet about abortion, free at the Desiring God website
May God bless this day to you for his sake among the babies–for the sake of the great name of the creator of all human beings.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Monday, December 26th, 2011
For us, this is a week of celebrating the birth of our Saviour with family–lots of family. Yesterday it was with my mother and with our son Barnabas and his family. Today a bunch of my siblings and their families descend. That means lots of food and visiting and cousins reconnecting.
So blogging may be sparse for a few days. I pray that your own Jesus celebration may stretch out in some way through these days.
Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
You don’t have to live many Christmases before you realize that the emotions of Christmas are not all joy. In fact, some years we may wonder if joy will ever come again.
I’m thinking about that reality now, after hearing from some people who are suffering right now. The causes are quite different, but for all of them, Christmas as they’ve known it seems like another planet.
That makes me want to put it down in stark black and white: Christmas can be hard, really hard, unbearably hard–all the more when we look around at all the jolliness and feel like we’re alone in our grief or pain or loneliness or uncertainty or fear or hopelessness or confusion or alienation or . . . .
A few years ago, I wrote to a friend whose child had come through a crisis not long before Christmas.
I realize that it doesn’t resolve your situation to hear that you’re not alone. But I pray it might help lighten the burden at least a little to see what some others have to say, people who are in your shoes now or they have been there.
These articles are in no particular order and are from from various perspectives. I think it will be quite possible as you read to substitute your own challenges or the struggles of a person you love.
When Christmas Stinks, by Michael Monroe
Joy (and Grief) and Joy at Christmas, by Molly Piper
The angels’ words were a battle cry, by Joni Eareckson Tada
FAS and Christmas, by Julie Martindale
“Suffering is the reason for the season,” Charles Colson
White Elephant: Explain that to an FASD Kiddo, by Barb Clark
He Says There’s Something Worse than Death, by John Knight (poem by John Piper)
God Uses Silly Videos to Make Much of Himself, by John Knight
Home for Christmas, by Greg Lucas
Together on the Ledge, by Lisa Qualls
A request to you: Please share with us resources that have helped you in your difficult times.
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
At 5:45 I remembered I was supposed to bring something appetizerish or snackish to a Christmas gathering at 6:30. A flash of mixed emotions, let’s say. Relief that I remembered. And yikes! What am I going to take?
I surveyed the freezer shelves as if some prepackaged appetizers I had never bought would have magically materialized. Nope.
Then on to the cans. I fumbled through the soups and tuna until I happened on a can of shoepeg corn. Why do I have this? I’ve never used shoepeg corn before. Oh yes. It was for a dip recipe I didn’t make and can’t remember.
But dip would be a good idea to take, if only I had chips. I threw open the cabinet and there were the 2 bags of tortilla chips I bought last week, for just in case. Well “in case” is here.
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1 – 11 oz can shoepeg corn, drained
- 1 – 15 oz black beans
- 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes with peppers
- 1 – 12 oz container light sour cream
- 1/2-1 cup salsa, to taste (I used hot because that’s what was in the fridge)How much does it make? A lot. Do the math yourself: Add up the cans and sour cream container and there you have the amount. And it was popular. I brought some home, but not nearly as much as I took to the party.Thank you, Mother, for your example of making do with what you have.
Monday, December 5th, 2011
Our very first Christmas was in the middle of our honeymoon, so our traditions began the second year of marriage.
We visited our families before Christmas, and returned to our small place late at night on December 21. We didn’t have any decorations, and our budget and the time were short, so we decided not to buy a tree.
I had found a tiny nativity set at an international gift shop. So on Christmas morning, the two of us sat on the floor beside a low, small table with that scene between us. Christmas carols played in the background as we opened each other’s gifts. It seemed exactly right that Jesus be the visible center.
So every year since then, a special crèche has been the focal point of our celebration. We arrange it on a table in the living room and collect our gifts underneath. This is often the gathering place for our family devotions during December. Anyone who visits sees what our center is.
- an unbreakable set for the children to play with.
- manger scene ornaments for a Christmas tree.
- a stained glass or colored cellophane window arrangement, visible from the street.
- a play corner with toy lamb, baby doll and appropriate dress-ups.
One friend told me about her crèche collection:
I try to find one in every place I visit. I give traveling friends money to spend on a nativity for me if they happen to see one where they are going. I find them at garage sales and thrift stores and after-Christmas sales, and people give them to me as gifts. I have more than a hundred now from all over the world, and when I get them out for Christmas it is a wonderful reminder that one day people from all tribes and tongues and people and languages—not just my own country—will worship the King.
(Hint: If you’re shopping locally for a nativity scene, wait till the day or two after Christmas.)
|Adapted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions.|
Sunday, December 4th, 2011
Yesterday, I wrote about how we think about Santa at our house. It boiled down to this primary goal: Helping our children understand God as much as they were able at whatever age they were.
I hadn’t realized what a hot topic this would be. I really meant it when I said I’m not on a crusade that has good guys and bad guys.I meant to be clear that I was simply telling you how we think about it at our house for our family.
Some of you raised questions that I expect to be thinking about in future posts. In the meantime, let me complete the thought I began yesterday.
Here are some encouraging effects we observed (at different times with different children) of not including Santa in our celebration. These aren’t really reasons to make a decision one way or the other, but more like side effects.
First, I think children are glad to realize that their parents, who live with them all year and know all the worst things about them, still show their love at Christmas. Isn’t that more significant than a funny old make-believe man who drops in just once a year?
Second, our children know our family’s usual giving patterns for birthday and other special events. They seem to have an instinct about our typical spending levels. Knowing that their Christmas gifts come from those same people they love, rather than from a bottomless sack, can help diminish the “I-want-this, give-me-that” syndrome.
And finally, when children know that God’s generosity is reflected by God’s people, it tends to encourage a sense of responsibility about helping make Christmas good for others.
Our oldest, for example, worked hard on one gift the year he was 3. On Christmas morning, my husband stepped around a large, loose-flapped cardboard box to get to his chair at the breakfast table. “Where’s Karsten?” he asked, expecting to see our excited boy raring to leap into the day.
Sitting down, I said, “He’ll be here in a minute.” I nudged the box with my toe. Karsten threw back the flaps and rose to his full three-foot stature. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them . . .” He had memorized Luke 2:8-20 as a gift for his dad. Karsten knew Santa wasn’t the one to depend on.
In fact, a few days later, he and I were walking down the hall at church. One of the older ladies leaned down to squeeze his pink, round cheek and asked, “What did Santa bring you?” Karsten’s head jerked quickly toward me, and he whispered loudly, “Doesn’t she know?”
|Taken from my book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.|
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Peapods! What in the world?
- They have something to do with our grandtwins.
- I wrote about Peapods almost a year ago.
- The update is at Tell Me When To Pack.
P. S. In any case, this gives me an excuse to post a picture of the babies. It’s the first time I ever played double Trotsy-Horsey.