**Spoiler Alert** The following contains plot details of the Marvel movie Thor (2011).


We love a superhero. The box office results prove that we love stories of suspense, danger and a bad guy, as long as there is a good guy who heroically defends us against the danger and defeats the evil. Our favorite superheroes put themselves in harm’s way to protect others, which is a common theme in superhero movies and stories. On rare occasion, the superhero even dies in the process. Though this is the upmost heroic act, it is also a sad way to end the story.


The storyline of the movie Thor caught my attention recently with its parallels to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The main character, a supposed god named Thor, is a very arrogant individual at the outset of the movie. He defies and despises authority, and as a result is banished by his own father from the heavenly realm in which he lives.


He is sent to earth and there is humbled through a series of events. His character improves as he learns some valuable lessons on earth and begins to value his father and his wisdom, realizing he was wrong to defy his authority. It is very hard for him to be banished from his power, glory and celestial homeland.


At the climax of the movie, a giant robot controlled by Loki (Thor’s brother and another “god” from the heavenly realm) has come to earth to kill Thor and destroy anything that stands in its way. Thor is currently in a small town through which the Destroyer makes its way, burning buildings and endangering the lives of the townspeople. In order to protect the people, Thor walks out and looks death in the face. He calls upon Loki to stop the killing, apologizing for his own wrongs. Loki agrees but as the Destroyer turns around to walk away, Loki has it smite Thor across the upper body and face with a mortal blow.


Thor dies from the blow, but the movie does not end there. Having learned his lesson and proved himself worthy with the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, Thor is resurrected and his power and glory are restored. He then destroys the Destroyer which is still a threat to the people. Having rescued his friends on earth, he travels back to his heavenly realm to rescue it from Loki and the bad guys.


Wow! What a storyline right? So compelling! What a hero!


But Thor’s heroism pales in comparison to the true story of Jesus and what He did to rescue man from destruction. While there are some striking similarities in the storyline of Thor and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are also some massively important contrasts.


Unlike Thor, Jesus is perfect and sinless, worthy of all praise and worship. He was, is, and ever will be the King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of gods. In fact, He is the One True God, Creator and Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16-17).


Unlike Thor, Jesus voluntarily came to earth and humbled himself, cloaking His infinite glory in a finite, mortal, weak human body. Jesus was not involuntarily banished; Philippians 2:6-7 says, “Though He[Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”


Unlike Thor, Jesus didn’t die for innocent bystanders who had done him no wrong. He took the just punishment of guilty sinners who had personally sinned against Him. Romans 5:7-8 says, “One will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


In the movie, Thor was resurrected from the dead because He had finally shown himself worthy. In reality, Jesus was always worthy, righteous, and sinless perfection. He died because He took upon Himself the consequences of others’ sin upon Himself. Jesus rose from the dead because He paid their debt to justice in full. Since justice was done, and death cannot hold a righteous man, Jesus rose from the dead.


In the movie, Thor fought and defeated the destroyer who threatened Earth’s inhabitants with death. In reality, Jesus fought and defeated death itself, and sin, which is the power of death, for all who are united to Him in faith. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


In the movie, Thor returned to heaven and defeated his enemies there. In reality, Jesus ascended to heaven—a heaven united behind its infinitely worthy and glorious, always righteous King—and He is coming back one day to defeat His enemies here on this earth.


Jesus is waiting for the moment of His return, and what a merciful thing this is! He waits, giving time for to those who continue in their sin and rebellion against Him and rejecting His terms of surrender. His terms are these: stop trusting in yourself and receive His forgiveness by believing in His name.


Gratitude and joy fill my own heart as I consider what Jesus rescued me from. I shudder to think about where I would be apart from His heroics on my behalf. In my pride, I used to want to be the hero. I wanted the praise and honor of other people—praise and honor that rightfully belongs to God alone. There is a biblical term for this: idolatry. It is a crime worthy of eternal punishment. I thought that being a star football player would fulfill me, when in reality, only a relationship with my Maker could fill the void. But God did not hold my sins against me. In love and self-sacrifice, He saved me from the punishment justice demanded by his death on the cross. Now I pray for help so that others can see the worthiness of Jesus alone, and glorify the One who truly deserves it. I want everyone to know that they too can be rescued from the destroyer of sin, have forgiveness, and get to know the ultimate Superhero who died for villains like me.

Family Walks

October 18, 2016







Jessa, Spurgeon, Baby #2 and I took an opportunity for a family walk today! It was starting to rain, so we didn’t stay out too long, but it gave us a chance to unwind a bit and have some time together.


Some of our favorite things about family walks are:


  • Fresh air and sunshine (well most of the time).
  • A ride in the stroller - Spurgeon :)
  • Family fun and quality time without a spending a dime!
  • Exercise!


If you live in the country like I did growing up, the walk may be more of an off road hike or an excursion down the dirt road. Might not be ideal for strollers if you have young ones, but using a baby carrier can provide a nice added workout. Or you could get in the car and drive to a walking trail if you have one nearby.


A walk is a perfect time to enjoy each other’s company, appreciate God’s creation or talk about the day. With a little planning ahead, you could bring a blanket and a lunch and have a meal together in the great outdoors! We plan on getting in many more family walks before the weather gets too frigid.

Happy Birthday Mom

September 13, 2016








To my mom:


Everywhere I go, people come up to me and say “I just love your mom!” “I wish I had an ounce of the patience that she has!” “How does she do it?” People are drawn to your smile. You are real and genuine. You are truly happy. You are a strong woman. I’ve been around you all my life, and I can testify to the truth of this statement! I do not know a better woman than you. You are the most loving, caring and compassionate person I’ve ever known!


But I know that you would be the first to say that it’s only by God’s grace that you are who you are. You’ve shared stories of your struggles before you met Jesus, and you’ve shared stories of your journey since meeting Jesus. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, but at that point, God starts a work in your life of conforming you to be like Jesus. It’s a continual work, and it isn’t finished until we reach heaven. You share openly with others that there was a time when you were “without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…” (Eph. 212-14).


That is the most amazing thing about you! Jesus shines through you, and that is what is most attractive. Your words are uplifting and kind. His love flows through you to everyone you come into contact with. You are not a perfect person. You mess up like everybody else. But you are humble and are quick to make things right.


Coming up with this list of things I'm most thankful for in you was the easiest thing I've ever done! You're a gem. “Your children rise up and call you blessed. Your husband also, and he praises you! Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:28-29).


There isn't a specific order here, but as they came to mind, these are some of the top things I love and adore in you as a mom, a woman, a wife and my greatest role model!


Thank you so much...

-for giving birth to me (I now understand first-hand what a labor of love childbirth is, and I can not thank you enough!)

-for not stopping at 4 kids (as #5, I can say that I'm so glad to be here!)

-for siblings... All of them!

-for praying with us

-for carrying on joyfully even after nights of minimal sleep, and your display of God's sweet and enduring grace

-for letting us eat leftover pizza for breakfast

-for letting us rearrange the living room for our "forts" and "castles" with a combination of couch cushions, dining room chairs, cardboard boxes and duct tape

-for carrying around your “50lb” purse, which also doubled as our first-aid kit, diaper bag and catch all for sippy cups, sock, toys and everything else!

-for memorizing our likes and dislikes to a "t"

-for memorizing scripture with us from a young age

-for correcting not only our wrong actions, but taking the time to dig deeper and discover the underlying attitudes

-for not allowing tattling, but encouraging us to communicate calmly with siblings and work things out amongst ourselves whenever it was possible

-for setting up as our “super heroes” great women and men of the Christian faith (George Whitfield, Fanny Crosby, Adonirum Judson, Gladys Alyward, George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Susannah Wesley, David Brainard)

-for reading us so many stories and biographies from these laymen, missionaries, hymn writers, preachers, evangelist, etc., and giving us a vision of what God can do through us if we live lives yielded to him

-for teaching us deep and meaningful lyrics from hymns of centuries past!

-for being patient and continually leading me in the right direction, though I was quite a handful!

-for telling us stories and teaching us life lessons from your childhood

-for reminding me time and time again to take my burdens to Jesus in prayer

-for showing me that Jesus could forgive me for everything I've ever done wrong, and give me a clean slate to start over again

-for unconditional love

-for teaching us to apologize by saying "I was wrong for __(what I said/did)___. Will you forgive me?"

-for choosing to forgive those who hurt you before (and regardless of if) they ever apologized or took responsibility for their actions

-for warning us that harboring bitterness and resentment in our hearts towards others is like drinking poison and hoping for the other person to suffer

-for blessing your enemies— literally. So many times I've seen people say and do incredibly hurtful things to you, and yet when those same people are in need, you're the first one to come to their aid, and give of your time, money and energy to see them prosper.

-for teaching us character lessons, and showing us that only Jesus in us can give us the power to do what we should when our own natural inclination would lead us to do or say something we shouldn’t

-for centering homeschool lessons around God's Word

-for speaking with soft words even when you feel like yelling, and teaching us kids by example that "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

-for believing in the work that Christ is doing in our hearts and holding us to a higher standard

-for knowing when to give advice, and when to simply give a listening ear, a hug, and a shoulder to cry on

-for the bold early tween/teen talks about how God designed our bodies and His purpose for sexual purity

-for the "I remember what it was like to be your age" talks, and helping me realize that I wasn't weird but completely normal

-for comforting me when I was emotional and praying me through a tough day

-for modeling hospitality by having people into our home regularly for meals and spiritual encouragement

-for not being a perfectionist, and for seeing the beauty in the toddler fingerprints on a newly cleaned window

-for always letting us make a pallet on your floor or sleep in your bed when we had a scary dream or were awakened by a thunderstorm

-for all the hundreds of outfits, wet sheets and pjs you patiently and endearingly washed for the potty-trainers over the past 20 years

-for all the times you let us "help" you with projects such as making meals, even when it took 2x as long and sometimes made more of a mess than if you’d done it on your own

-for the one-on-one outings to run errands with you, and the anticipation of knowing you'd always give us $1 so we could pick out a special treat

-for engaging me in deep and meaningful conversations and showing me that you cared about my opinion and input

-for listening while I talked

-for family meetings

-for letting us climb to the very top of the trees in our backyard, though the thought of my own kids doing this makes me so nervous!

-for being ministry-minded, even when we were all young, and thinking of creative ways for us to catch a vision for serving others (raking leaves/stacking firewood for the elderly, baking cookies for neighbors, singing in nursing homes)

-for pulling out the rolling pins and cookie cutters and letting us make sugar cookies on a rainy day

-for praising us publicly, but always speaking words of correction in private

-for not gossiping or saying embarrassing things about us kids to others, but building up and speaking words of life instead (though in sure you have a boatload of hilarious stories you could share)

-for being an example of a godly marriage, and giving us confidence in your love for one another! (Even when we’d pretend to be grossed out by your kissing, we were grateful to know that mom and dad loved each other, and that nothing could ever come between that!)

-for your love for bargain hunting (clearance racks, thrift shops), and teaching us to us be good stewards of the money God gives us

-for teaching me the value of diligence and following through with what I started

-for being there for me during my labor and delivery, and staying with me for a week afterwards to help with baby, meals, house cleaning

-for the individual jars of pickles at Christmas

-for dealing with stomach bugs and flus, even in the middle of the night, and hugging and kissing the sick ones knowing that increased your chance of coming down with it yourself

-for staying up in the night with crying babies, rocking, cuddling and singing lullabies

-for keeping a mile-long med chart when we all came down with the flu or stomach bug

-for turning on a sprinkler in the backyard on summer days, and then mopping up water after us when we had to come inside for a potty break

-for the example of how you've reached out and invested into the lives of others, from the beginning of your marriage and still continuing till this day (opening your home to homeless, church bus ministry, personally bring people to church, leading bible studies, hospitality, love, giving financially, spiritual encouragement)

-for walking the walk you desired for us walk

-for your real and genuine relationship with Jesus, and for sharing with us regularly things you were learning from the Bible

-for not allowing teasing or hurtful words to be spoken

-for telling us to “Put yourself in that person’s shoes and ask yourself ‘Is that how I would like to be treated?’”

-for making a regular habit of asking us “How are you doing?”— and knowing if “Fine” simply meant fine, or if we needed you dig deeper with “How are you really doing?”

-for being a safe place to share our heart

-for letting us older kids pile on your bed after the littles had gone to sleep, and staying up with us till two and three in the morning just talking about life, dreams, and plans for the future

-for meals together around the family table

-for chipped beef gravy on toast

-for your hearty beef stew that had all us kids eating our vegetables and loving them!

-for holiday feasting on pumpkin pies and your delicious, buttery dinner rolls— and the balls of dough you would always set aside so we could pull up a stool and try to make our own miniature versions of whatever you were baking!

-for making the switch from white bread to wheat bread easy with lots of butter ??????

-for your homemade wheat pancakes that were so yummy we would (and still do) eat them plain!

-for buying our family a Champion juicer and teaching us a love for carrot juice, and also for the discovery of how it makes an awesome fruit sorbet (I remember some kids choosing that to be served at their birthday party over ice cream—it’s that yummy!).

-for saving every lost tooth in a Ziplock bag, and Sharpie-ing all the important data on it for us: age, date & time

-for our individual keepsake boxes where we could store our treasured items!

-for helping us cope with loss of pets, and the burial plot in our backyard for our favorite dog, Dixie

-for enduring years and years of squeaky violin and noisy piano practice, and cheering us on every step of the way

-for fun “music practice challenges” that required us to practice 5x a week for 6 weeks straight, the reward being that you took all the winners got to go out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants!

-for taking beginner music lessons and being taught right along with us in order to understand what we're learning and help us as new students

-for patiently tutoring us in our school subjects, and never discouraging us if we were having a hard time grasping a new concept. (I remember a period of time where you took a little group of us to Burger King from 6-8am for weeks in a row for extra-focused tutoring on some subjects! You’d buy a couple orders of tater tots, and then we’d get busy tackling our homework. We thought that was just the greatest! You always made learning so creative and fun.)

-for teaching us how to cut hair (we must’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years!)

-for getting your real estate license, insurance license & dealing cars, but embracing your career as “Mom” above all else!

-for realizing that as parents, you and daddy were responsible for every influence you allowed into our young and impressionable lives-- and guiding us to make good choices with the things we viewed with our eyes, the music we listened to and the friendships we formed

-for giving us the joy of getting to pick out outfits for the new baby (though things didn’t always match) and letting us try to feed the toddler his baby food (even though it would’ve been faster and less messy if you’d done it yourself)! We were on top of the world, and who needed pretend dolls when we got to love on, kiss and cuddle with the real deal!

-for the experience of grocery shopping in a 15-passenger van (often taking out a bench seat or two so everything would fit), and buying enough for a small restaurant!

-for hundreds of noses wiped, faces kissed, hands washed, hairs fixed, diapers changed, boo boo's bandaged and baths given

-for hundreds of loads of laundry washed and folded, long before any of us were old enough to lend a hand

-for unending dishes upon dishes, and the genius of eventually labeling everyone their own cup & plate to wash themselves after every meal!

-for the frugality of homemade laundry soap & baby wipes (we should really add up these savings!)

-for the inspiration you are to us all, getting up at 6am to workout-- and listening to awesome sermons on your OnePlace app to power you through!

-for sticking to your "one sweet treat a week" (for the most part ;-) and encouraging us all to eat better!

-for filling the kitchen with healthy snacks of cucumbers, tomatoes, apples and bananas, instead of chips and sodas, etc.

-for figuring out a hundred different ways to eat beans and rice, and feed a big group on a budget!

-for the creativity of keeping toddlers entertained with boxes of special puzzles and toys while you nursed a new baby! (I'm definitely keeping this in mind for future days!)

-for not comparing us to other siblings, but encouraging each of us to be the best that we can be with personalities, gifts and talents God has given us!

-for being a Titus 2 woman, and reaching out to younger moms with support, encouragement, and prayer

-for doing the "good manners chart" from time to time— giving us marks for "please," "thank you," "yes ma'am," and "yes sir," and a special prize when the goal number was reached

-for setting the clocks around the house to run 10 min fast in hopes that it would help us to get out the door on time and be more punctual!

-for filling our home with melodious Christian music, which even in the midst of chaos, would help bring about a peaceful environment

-for not using movies as a babysitter, but doing crafts with us, taking us to the park, organizing ministry projects, and thinking of new and creative ways to have fun together as a family

-for your selfless example of caring for your father when he moved in with us after his car accident

-for not saying "because I'm the mom and I said so!" but instead, leading us to search out the Bible for ourselves and encouraging us to form personal convictions based on God’s Word

-for praying us through tough times



…and the list could go on and on!

But thank you most of all for leading us to Jesus Christ!


Thank you for teaching us that Salvation is a free gift, not something we can work for, earn, or ever deserve. Thank you for showing us that it is by turning from our sins and to Jesus that we obtain this gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”


Thank you for showing us that, while we fall short every day, we can come to Jesus for forgiveness, He will pick us up and we can move forward. His grace is sufficient for every trial we are facing, and He will never leave or forsake His children.


Thank you for showing us the unconditional love of a Mother, and in this way, representing the unending, unfailing love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


We are forever grateful for your investment into our lives!

Thank you!


Quick Thoughts About Prayer

August 26, 2016





As Christians, prayer is a subject that gets talked about quite a bit. It is not abnormal for us to talk of the importance of a strong prayer life, and to read books and hear sermons about praying. But do we live as if it is vital? In other words, do we really believe that prayer is as important as we say it is? If we did, wouldn’t we make prayer more of a priority in our lives?


I know in my own life there is a seemingly constant battle within myself to not stand in my own strength. It is far too easy for me to wake up and not begin my day with little prayer. It is far too easy for me to make plans, work my job, or embark upon some ministry project without consulting my Lord and His Word, and petitioning Him for wisdom and strength.


Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in Him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”


Jesus commanded us to abide in Him, but how can we abide in our Lord if there is no communication with Him? Prayer is our communication with God, and any relationship expert will tell you that communication is essential to a healthy relationship.


Furthermore, Jesus says, “Without me you can do nothing.” He does not say, “Without me you can do little.” He says “nothing”. Apart from God’s help, we cannot bear spiritual fruit, fulfill the Great Commission, or respond rightly when the children make a mess on their clean clothes two minutes before it is time to leave. I praise God that He is often so faithful to help me, even when I take that help for granted, neither asking Him nor thanking Him for it! But I definitely don’t want this to be the norm. I want to always recognize my need of Christ and live in perpetual gratitude and praise to Him.


Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” It does not simply say, “Be strong brothers! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Don’t be weak!” It says to be strong “in the Lord” and “in the power of His might”. How is this done? We must not be strong in our own strength, for it is weakness. As we already examined, without Christ we can do nothing.


The next few verses in Ephesians 6 talk about putting on the whole armor of God. The vivid imagery concludes with verse 18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thus with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”


Craig Hamilton wrote in his book Wisdom in Leadership: The How and Why of Leading the People You Serve,


The local church exists to accomplish things that aren’t possible. The church exists to see people transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light and to see them transformed into the likeness of the Son of God—all of which is impossible. But with God all things are possible, which is why we need to pray. Unless God is in it, nothing we do will be of any eternal significance.    (Hamilton 43.)


Is it okay to pray to God for help in praying better and more frequently? I believe so. In my own experience and to my exceeding joy, this has been a prayer God has been pleased to answer. One line to an old hymn says, “I need Thee, Oh I need Thee! Every hour I need Thee!”(Hawks, 1872). We truly need God every hour—indeed, every passing moment! May our lives reflect this reality by being prayerful.

We're Having A Baby!!!

August 23, 2016



We are overjoyed to announce that Spurgeon has a new title in life as “big brother"! We are so thankful that God is adding to our family. 2017 is shaping up to be a wonderful year already and we know Spurgeon will do a great job in his new role. Having Spurgeon has been such a wonderful blessing and we cannot wait to see the face of this sweet new baby (or babies!).