Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Blessed Assurance

This week has been crammed and busy. Ben is on his birthday trip with Gigi to the lighthouse north of Duluth. They'll be back tonight. Consequently, we have been a little late to this week's hymn. We'll have to do it next week too. We've done this one before I believe, but it's a great one. Enjoy Randy Travis' version below.

Hymn of the Week
Blessed Assurance

Words by Fanny Crosby
Music by Phoebe K. Knapp

Bless├Ęd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.


This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Retirement Dave!

Last night we celebrated Amanda's dad's retirement from General Mills. It was a great night. People spoke about Dave's impact in their lives and on the company. Gregg spoke for the kids and did really well. We are excited to see what God has for Dave and Joni in the coming years.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A continuing theme

I wrote almost a year ago about the death of our pastor's granddaughter. Since then, Amanda has begun following The Pipers blog. Last Friday they welcomed Morrow John Piper into the world. (The Pipers wrote about how they choose the names of their kids here.) As I wrote in the previous post, their new joy is mixed with the grief of the loss of Felicity not yet a year ago. Pastor John puts it well in this poem.

Though weeping tarry through the night
And darkness deepens sorrow,
Felicity awaits the Dawn
And joy comes on the Morrow.
--John Piper

Psalm 30:5
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

See both Pastor John's and The Pipers' announcements.

Showers of blessings at the Falder house

When it rains it pours and Tricia and Alex are experiencing showers of God's blessings. They officially announced that they are expecting number three in May. Tricia and Alex had a long season of difficulty in initially getting pregnant. I so appreciate how they take such care to mix their excitement with a hint of the remembered grief and continued heartache for people that they love who are walking through similar struggles. I remember the conversations that I had with Tricia when I would call her to tell her that we were pregnant. In those moments I tried to reach into and acknowledge her disappointment and she pushed to put her excitement for us above her own fears. This is most of life. It is the nature of the "here but, not yet" paradox. God has gifts for us here, but they are not yet culminated. In each of our sorrows, there are hints of joy. In each of our joys, there are drops of grief. Always, life is pointing us to somewhere and someone deeper.

Tricia, Alex, Davy and Jacob, we celebrate with you and thank God for His many mercies in your lives. We thank God for the many manifestations (some mentioned above) of his grace in your lives. All of their kids will be 15 months apart. They will be a busy family. What a joy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Molly's first steps

We knew when she finally decided she wanted to, she would just get up and start walking. Well that's exactly what Molly has decided to do in the last day or so. Check out the video below and this one. She sure is sweet!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Heaven Came Down

When we picked this week's hymn, Heaven Came Down, Amanda said, "That is a Grandma Nagel classic." Amanda has many memories of her Grandma Betty humming hymns as she worked in the kitchen. I have just as many memories centered around old hymns. That is just one of the reason's that we try and do this. Amanda and I have such a rich heritage of faith and singing these hymns with our kids is one way of passing down that heritage. Sometimes the boys don't join right in while we're singing at the table but, it was so GOOD to hear Caleb clearing the table singing "Heaven came down and glory filled my soul."

One of my favorite things about this hymn is how it points out that it was God who came down to us. It wasn't our efforts that led to salvation, "Heaven came down." I am so thankful for that.

Hymn of the Week
Heaven Came Down
Words and music by John W. Peterson

O what a wonderful, wonderful day, day I will never forget;
After I'd wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Savior I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend, He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, with joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart.

    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, (filled my soul)
    When at the cross the Savior made me whole; (made me whole)
    My sins were washed away and my night was turned to day,
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul! (filled my soul)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Molly's big girl towel

When Benjamin was born, Gregg and Allison gave him a towel with his name monogrammed on it. With each of the kids we've done the same. Ben's is red; Caleb's is navy blue; Matthew's is light blue. Yesterday Molly got to use her new towel. Of course her's is pink.

Molly Pearl--One of this summer's blessings.

The picture above is of God's bounty that He's blessed us with this summer. The tomatoes are from our garden and ended up in BLT's last weekend. The zucchini is from someone at Shirley's work. We used that for the Grandma Pearl zucchini bread pictured. The rest is from the White Bear Lake farmer's market that Amanda goes to every Friday.

Molly is still not walking, but she sure is getting around and doing her thing. The other day, apparently Molly wanted a graham cracker so she went to the cupboard and helped herself. When we went over to the kitchen we saw the scene below. Amanda said, "You've got to get the camera." Molly sure is a lot of fun.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hymn of the Week--How Firm A Foundation

I have thought about this before, but since I've figured out how to post songs, I figured I would keep you updated on what our Hymn of the Week. Every week we choose a new hymn and sing it together as a part of our family worship time after dinner. We usually only sing the first verse and so those are the words that I'll post. Any hymn suggestions would be recommended.

Hymn of the Week
How Firm A Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

What's so great about your god?

This summer, like last, our church has been doing Wednesday night service outside at an area park. We eat hot dogs, spend some time singing and then hear from God's word. This past week they had what we used to call growing up "a time of testimony". People got up and went to a microphone to answer the question, "if someone knew nothing about Christianity but asked you, 'What's so great about your god?', what would be your answer?" When I was in high school and college, I would have been the first one to the microphone. For good and bad, I have become a little bit more timid.

Here's my answer. In my mind there is only one reason that I would give. My god is so great because when I was dead in my trespasses, he chose me, not because of any merit of my own. Before I loved him, he loved me first. That love sent Jesus to the cross to die a subsitutionary death. He took the wrath of the Father upon himself. He took my place. He gave me the gift of faith through His grace that led to new birth. Because of that gift my life is forever changed and different. He took out my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. He wrote his law upon my heart. All of this not due to anything that I did, but entirely because of His kindness and His mercy. What a gift! What a God!

When I think thoughts like this and write words like these, it really does make my heart overflow in singing. The song below is a recent favorite.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our new banner

I decided to change the look of our blog again last week. As you may or may not know, 2ABC2M is short for Andy, Amanda, Benjamin, Caleb, Matthew and Molly. In thinking about some new ideas, I remembered an article that I read about spelling with flickr photos. It is a really cool site. You should check it out. One of the great things about it is how random it is. You can also swap out letters that you don't like.

Shirley's thoughts on Mr. Rogers and PBS's lame response

My mother-in-law Shirley followed my previous suggestion and e-mailed PBS. Her e-mail is below followed by PBS's lame cut and paste response. Thanks Shube for your action on behalf of America's and my kids.

Shirley's e-mail:
I am SO disappointed to see Mr. Roger's program being pulled from the daily PSB lineup. His program was a treausre to my children, and my grandchildren watch him at 1:00 in St. Paul almost every weekday. PLEASE reconsider. There is so little else worthwhile on TV.

PBS response:
Dear Shirley:

Thank you for writing to PBS regarding MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD.

This iconic series holds an extremely special place in PBS’s heart. Together, PBS and Family Communications, Inc. are committed to evolving the role this cherished series plays in today’s media landscape, ensuring future generations of children can experience this rich, unique

PBS will continue to distribute repeats of MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD to all member stations. PBS stations have the option of broadcasting the series everyday or once a week as best suited for their local community interests. For those that choose to air the series daily, PBS is feeding 185 episodes over the summer, allowing easy access to a library of
episodes. For those stations choosing to air the series weekly, they can pick up the weekly feed this fall.

PBS continues to invest in the MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD Web site at, enriching content with new games, activities and resources for kids, parents and teachers. In addition, PBS and Family Communications, Inc. are planning to preserve MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD content and make it available on demand through Web streaming so families can access it 24/7. We will also engage Fred
Rogers’ many active fans to vote for favorite episodes, share stories and more.

Kevin Morrison, COO of Family Communications, added, "We've been working with PBS on the details of the distribution of MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD in 2008-09 and are pleased that stations can choose to continue to show the series each day or once a week. Fred Rogers was one of the pioneers of public television and it's exciting that he will now
be a new media pioneer on an expanded PBS KIDS Web service. Both PBS and Family Communications have some great ideas to make this a rich resource for children and parents for years to come.”

Our support for MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD reaches far beyond the TV series and Web site, including participation in comprehensive viral campaigns such as "Sweater Day" in March and various sweater drives across the country. PBS has carried on the legacy of Fred Rogers through his TV show, the Web and PBS station community outreach activities for
years because of the incredible impact Fred has had on children.

Fred Rogers' values are embedded in all the work we do and have been an inspiration to new generations of children’s producers. Everyday, PBS KIDS is taking children on a journey to learn about themselves, others and the world around them, a philosophy that’s very much inspired by Fred Rogers’ work and his dedication to the betterment of all children.

We appreciate your interest in our programs and hope you will continue to watch and support your local PBS station.

PBS Viewer Services

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Save Mr. Rogers

What is the world coming to? As reported by Paste Magazine, Mr. Rogers is being axed by PBS. Yes, you read that correctly. PBS has decided to drop Mister Rogers' Neighborhood from its daily syndication. This is the one show that our family watches religiously. Every day at 1:00 PM our family sits down to hear Mr. Rogers say "Won't you be my neighbor?"

Join our family and the folks at in trying to get PBS to keep its best program option. This is the same PBS who is pushing junk like Word Girl and Big, Big World. Write, e-mail or call your local PBS station. Implore them to keep your friend and mine, Mr. Rogers.

Sweet, sweet Molly

Molly's first hair bow

Ben, Ben the video game man

Ben never plays video games. I mean, he's six-years-old he shouldn't be. We know that. Somehow though, he is in love with video games. I think it may be his forbidden fruit. I have two Game Boys left over from college and a PS2 from when we lived in the residence hall. Every now and then we get these out and Ben gets a chance to play: long trips in the car, random days. Ben loves video games so much that lately he has been carrying around the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 book and reading up on how to play the game. So yesterday I thought he would enjoy getting the game out and playing a little. Needless to say he loved it. The funniest part was that because his his thumb is not long enough to go from one button to the other, he had to use his thumb and his pointer at the same time (see picture below.) Desperate times call for desperate measures.

We're not really sure what we'll do with the video games. We've contemplated getting rid of all of them. But for now, an occasional foray into the digital world for Ben is not an earth shaker.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Further reflections on Gospel Centered Parenting

I have almost finished C.J. Mahaney's lectures on Gospel centered parenting. One of the main things that I really appreciated from his second lecture entitled "The Imperative of Instruction" was when he said that the most important thing, the minimal essential, the reason that you did everything else in parenting was to lead your children, through God's grace to salvation. As I have evaluated my parents I have always said that they were good parents. I was talking with my mom the other night about just this topic. With this essential in mind though, my parents (and Amanda's parents) were more than just good parents, they were, through God's grace, successful parents. Because of the examples of our parents, because of the instruction that they gave us, the prayers that they prayed and more than anything and ultimately only because of God's unmerited favor, Amanda and I as well as all of our siblings love Jesus Christ. It doesn't get much better than that.

As a parent, that is a pretty freeing conclusion. It doesn't really matter if our kids are the smartest, coolest, to what college they go, or many other periferals. These things only matter in as much as they affect or promote our kids' salvation. It is a constant and true center.

Both Amanda and I will be forever grateful first to God and to our parents for the way they raised us and the Gospel they passed down to us. It is our prayer that, through the power of Christ's Gospel, we can be as faithful.