Welcome back! A lot has happened in the past 9 months! In short, our children have each grown about 3 inches (that's about 7.5 cm), we have two children in school now (P3 for Esther, P1 for Bella), I have continued pressing into the incredible and challenging task of a PhD, Esther has changed from really disliking reading 2 years ago to devouring books faster than we can give them to her, Bella has continued to blossom into a delightfully imaginative and creative powerhouse, River has transformed from fun baby to exuberant little man, Janelle has continued to love us all in more ways than and of us could possibly count, and in all things our loving Father God has sustained us, nourished us, and overwhelmed us with his goodness and gifts shared with us in Christ by his Spirit.
So, there is the short version! Now, since pictures are way more fun than words, I put together a little photo-collage of the first 9 months of 2014. For the theologically intereested I'll share a little highlight from what I have been learning recently at the end.
Here we go:
|Super Bowl Day! Go Broncos!|
|One of River's favorite activities - choo-choo time! We also read Thomas the Train books every day!|
|Throwing rocks into the river behind our house - usually with a grunt!|
|Our first family 3k fun run! My arms a bit sore for the next few days from carrying the wee man like a football!|
|River always wants to be like his sisters, including violin practice time..."my Turn!!"|
|Bella on the St Andrews Cathedral ruins|
|Flowers bloom here all year round, but the Spring brings an amazing explosion of color, especially loads of daffodils everywhere! Our girls (especially Bella) doesn't mind!|
|We're in Disneyland!!|
|Back to our familiar territory - the Paris Metro!|
|Jardin Luxembourg on our day-long journey to the airport. So fun to sail boats again!|
River is Two!
|Birthday party with one of the families that has been a huge gift to us here, including two of River's favorite friends - "James and Joseph"|
|Easter 2014 including a wonderful visit from Marlys and Emma Lietz (and Marlys' sister Marcia)!|
|Easter Egg dyeing|
|Easter meal with good friends - so thankful!|
|Nebuchadnezzar's wall! (the Pergammum altar from Revelation 3 was there too!)|
|The fabled Milch Suppe Schtein where Zwingli made peace with the Catholic army in 1529.|
|There he is - The Geneva Reformer's wall with Johnny Ballgame front and center. I have learned a whole lot from him about how amazing God is what he has done in Christ by his Spirit.|
|Visiting Dadda at work (at the Cathedral ruins right next to my office). That is some good form!|
Scottish Independence Vote - It could have been a monumental day in Scottish history (much to the dismay of most Scots connected with the University) but it ended up as a day in which the remaining United Kingdom stayed united. It was still neat to experience such a historical moment, including purchasing my first Scottish newspaper...
A new and hilarious experience - our first Colour Run 3k! We were the only people there with children (the rest were college students), so we got lots of extra color as we came through after everyone else. Watch Bella turn me pink at the end!
So, as promised, here is a little taste of something fun that I have been learning recently in the riches of my studies.
Here is something I have been learning just this week: In Calvin's understanding of the Bible, when God created humanity, he created them to bear his image in such a way that his wisdom, goodness, and life would flow through them as they lived in communion with him. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, their primary sin was distrusting God's word; they did not trust God's fatherly love and instead rejected God's warning not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, instead of growing up into closer and closer communion with God, humanity rejected God and his gifts of life, goodness, wisdom, righteousness. Therefore, they no longer had the fullness of life or goodness or wisdom or righteousness that they were made to have. Thus Calvin says that the image of God was obliterated in them, although not quite destroyed. In his grace, God allowed some sparks of his image to remain, but even those sparks are now distorted with sin, as seen in impure motives or excesses or self-centeredness in even the most noble acts. We call this state of human nature "depravity" because it is humans deprived of the gifts of God which he had designed them to receive from him by living in communion with him.
Well, we now have a problem. Humans who were made for communion with God have rejected God and his gifts and are therefore slowly dying through their whole lives until they physically die (another result of the fall of Adam and Eve). God hates their sin because it is at its core a rejection of him. God cannot love his own rejection! But God still loves his creatures, so he sends his Son to live and die and rise for us in our place, to take our punishment for sin (I'm still not sure what exactly that means) and to clothe us with his righteousness. I could talk way more about that, but I want to scoot right past that to the pay-off. What is the payoff of Christ's death on the cross and resurrection? Forgiveness of sins? Yes, in part. Bestowal of righteousness? Yes, in part. Provision of assurance of salvation because it is not based on our works in any way? Yes, in part. The gift of sanctification so that even our imperfect attempts at righteousness are made perfect through the human Jesus the high priest who ever lives to intercede for us before the Father? Yes, in part.
Those are all amazing, wonderful, staggering results of Christ's atoning work, but the ultimate payoff and end goal of it all is......communion with God! Now think back to the Garden and remember that it was God's gifts that provided Adam and Eve with all the fullness of what it meant to be human, or in other words, provided for the Happy Life. Now, through Christ we are reconciled to God so that we can be in communion with him again and in Christ access all the amazing gifts that are in God, who is the fountain of every blessing and of all goodness and of all life. We are not coming back to a "relationship with God" because we need a buddy, but we are being restored to what it means to be truly human and receiving access to the fountain of all goodness, wisdom, life, etc. In Christ, we find the Happy Life because he is the one through whom we come to the one who is Life (think John 14:6, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." See also 1 Corinthians 1:30). We do not receive God's grace as a transaction or as a "get into heaven" card. We receive something SO much greater...God himself in Christ by the power of the Spirit!
Thank you so much for loving us and keeping us with us on our adventures! The next year will probably hold some big changes for us, but for now we are trying to focus on enjoying all the gifts and riches of this season and praying we can trust God in increasing measure with the next one.
We do delight in hearing from you as well, so don't hesitate to say hello whenever it might occur to you!
Love from Scotland,