December 25, 2008

Excellent Quote

“The entire object of true education is to make people not merely to do the right things, but enjoy them; not merely industrious, but to love industry; not merely learned, but to love knowledge; not merely pure, but to love purity; not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.”
-John Ruskin

Merry Christmas!

To all our dear friends and family:

Wishing each one of you a Merry Christmas! May it be merry because of the joy we share in the beauty and greatness of the Lord. May it be joyful because of the redemption Christ has purchased for His people when He was born of Mary, crucified, and arose.

This hymn has been one of special meaning to our family this season. It beautifully unites Christ's birth and death.

Gathered 'round Your table on this holy eve,
Viewing Bethlehem's stable we rejoice and grieve
Joy to see You lying in Your manger bwed,
Weep to see You dying, in our sinful stead.

Prince of Glory, gracing Heav'n ere time began
Now for us embracing death as Son of Man
By Your birth so lowly, by Your love so true
By Your cross most holy, Lord, we worship You!

Beth-l'hem's Incarnation, Calvary's bitter cross
Wrought for us salvation by Your pain and loss.
Now we fall before You in this holy place;
Prostrate we adore You for Your gift of grace.

With profoundest wonder we Your body take-
Laid in manger yonder, broken for our sake.
Hushed in adoration we approach the cup
Bethlehem's pure oblation freely offered up.

Christmas Babe so tender, Lamb who bore our blame,
How shall sinners render praises due Your name?
Do Your own good pleasure in the lives we bring
In Your ransomed treasure reign forever King!

(Note: This is a professional photograph from Leed's Photography. I'm not sure what the legalities are as far as copying this photo. ;-)
Mom and Dad celebrated 26 years of marriage this year. Our family has undergone many changes and growing experiences this year, and they have helped, encouraged, and counseled each child in their needs, always leading us to the throne of grace. Their love for the Lord and for each other is the glue that keeps our family knit together.

Our newest princess, Emerson, finally arrived a few weeks ago. Kendra, being the sweet sister that she is, had invited me to be there for her birth. However, Emerson had different plans. I spent a week with Dan and Kendra, helping out, and waiting for her arrival, but to no avail. I drove home on Friday, and Emerson was born the following Sunday. Thankfully, I was able to be there a few minutes after her birth, with Mom and Dad following a few hours later. Emerson is a dainty little girl, and is so cuddly! What a precious bundle of joy.

Daniel and Kendra have blessed our family, and me personally in so many ways. Daniel has a gift for business, and we have enjoyed hearing about the wise way he has managed his finish carpentry business, Millworks By Design. Daniel continues to be an awesome big brother, and contributes, by his gifts, personality, and experience, so much to our family circle. Kendra, being the Mom of three under the age of three, is amazing. Watching my siblings parent is awesome, and they are blazing the trail for the rest of us. :-) Kendra is always inspiring me by her creativity, artistic personality, and love for life. She has been a wonderful big sister to me, and I have loved our times together this year.

Olivia has the prettiest little smile, and her peals of laughter bring joy to my heart. She loves pushing the doll stroller around, with her feminine little voice rising above the rest. Livy, Livy, we love you!
Jaelynn has grown into quite the young lady this year. She adores all things feminine, and can carry on a conversation that makes you forget just how old she is. :-) Jaelynn is a wonderful mommy to her dolls. When she flashes that smile, be careful, or your heart may melt.Precious, handsome little Graham continues to delight us all every day. His smiles and bright eyes never fail to bring forth camera flashes, and exlamations of delight from all. We were excited to welcome the first third generation Parish man into the family! I must say . . . his cheeks are so kissable!

Max and Jenny will celebrate their first wedding anniversary in a few days. Wow! Their love for each other is beautiful to behold, and is an encouragement to their younger siblings that true love is worth waiting for. They have lived right next door to us this year, and this has been an incredible blessing! Max has studied so diligently this year, as well as teaching his class through Sharper Quill. Mom and Dad gave me the opportunity to take this class, and I can testify to his fantastic teaching skills! :-) Jenny, my dear sister, has exhibited her homemaking skills in transforming their trailer into a beautiful home. She has served our family in many ways this year, as well as being a big support to Max.

This year in particular has been one of immense growth in my life. The older I become, the more I'm realizing how vital trusting the Lord is. I'm so thankful for the encouragement of my parent's, my brother's, and my precious sister's in Christ. Thankfully, God has given me many interests to pursue, and so many area's in which to serve. Writing, photography, natural medicine, art and literature are a few of my interests. God has blessed me richly, and my hands are always filled with things to accomplish.

I'm so thankful for Simon. His efficiency and work ethic has blessed our family incredibly. Simon bought a Hobie 16, fixed it up, and is becoming a seasoned sailor. :-) He took my cousin Travis and I on a ride this summer, and we zoomed so fast, the boat tipped, throwing us all into the lake. What an adventure! Simon continues to play his cello, and is the man of the house when Dad is away. He is quickly maturing, and becoming one of my best friends.

Jeremy, at thirteen, is growing quickly. His sense of fun lightens up our family atmosphere. Jeremy recently started playing bluegrass guitar which has added a new musical element to our family. It's been special to hear Simon and Jeremy twanging away, singing their hearts out to songs like, "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains." I'm so thankful for Jeremy, and for his heart of service in our home.

Our sweet Jayni is such a caring big sister to her younger siblings. She has such a heart to help in the kitchen and greatly wants to be a big girl. Jayni enjoys art, butterflies, animals, and reading. She has taken responsibility of the chicken chores now and faithfully washes all those dirty eggs with hardly a complaint. (Thank-you Jayni!!)

Jacob is full of life. He learned how to ride a bike this year, and enjoyed riding over the jumps with the big boys. Jacob loves to work outside with Simon, play with his cars, and sing, sing, SING! Rarely does Jacob not wear a happy smile. I love to watch the wonder that lights up in his eyes as he discovers his world.

Lilly delights us with her all her funny sayings. Temples are 'snuggles' that delicate 'unmentionable' is her 'skitter, or her 'squishy', and when we drove to the beach, we were frantically reminded not to forget her 'swimcase'. Lilly is the apple of her Daddy's eye, and I am constantly laughing at their antics, enjoying being on the other side of the spectrum. Lilly enjoys jumping on the trampoline, playing with her babies and in her kitchen. Just the other day, I heard her dramatically carrying on a full conversation with herself. Laughing, I peeked around the corner, and realized she was reading a book to herself.

December 18, 2008

Working Hard

It was a pleasantly warm afternoon, perfect for sitting outside on the swing to study. I was taking advantage of these delights while accomplishing my reading assignments from Sharper Quill when I happened to glance across the pasture. Surprisingly, I noticed two figures working busily away instead of the usual one. Simon has faithfully transformed our fencing situation here, and that day, Jacob was out with him. Just like a big boy, Jacob was wearing his big brother's hat and handling his tools. I could tell he felt like a giant inside. Great work guys!

November 30, 2008

Welcome to Graham Edward Max!

Our handsome little man was born at 2:12 pm this afternoon. HOORAY!!!!! Joy is bouncing off the walls at the Parish home tonight. With a thick head of black hair, Graham weighs 8 pounds 4 ounces and is 21 inches long.

Jenny started her labor while shopping with Jayni at Walmart yesterday afternoon. :-) 12:30 am found Max and Jenny at the hospital. McCrackens arrived at 6:30 am, Mom and Dad got there around 8:00, Simon, Jeremy, the Littles and I walked in the waiting room around 11:30, with Daniel and Kendra driving in around 4:30 pm. It was a joyful family time as we all rejoiced in the blessing God gave us today. Jenny is doing well, and they both are radiating with happiness.

I hope they are blessed with a restful night tonight. McCrackens, Dan and Ken, and all the rest of us headed back home to a HUGE pot of soup, hot drinks, and loads of smiles. :-)

Praise the Lord! We love babies around here!

(Once again, the pictures are out of order. I'm sorry! I can't resist posting any longer, and can't bear to spend the time organizing. :-P)

Cuddling with Daddy.

The Grandma's go in to see him first.

Kaylee twirling as she excitedly spreads the news.

Hi Graham!

Waiting and waiting . . .
Two mommies, two babies! Just one week apart.

We were able to see Jenny as she was wheeled to a recovery room. Hooray!

His aunties adore him.

Precious boy!



November 26, 2008

All That is Lovely

This is a recent essay I wrote for the English class I am taking with Sharper Quill. One of the subjects we studied was Christian's and Aesthetics. I feel passionate about beauty, and was inspired to dig in for deeper study on this topic. I've only scratched the surface of this amazing topic but look forward to a better understanding of God, beauty and Christianity in the future. May this be an inspiration to live a life of beauty for the glory of God!

In Pursuit of Beauty: The Importance of Beauty in the Life of a Believer

“One thing have I desired of the Lord . . . That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To behold the beauty of the Lord . . .” (New Kings James Bible Psalms 27:4). God designed our hearts to yearn for beauty, a desire which cannot be consummated until we turn in worship to Him, the Essence of beauty. “We do not want merely to see beauty, though God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words-to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it” (Lewis 8). To fulfill this longing means unity with the One who created it, which, in turn, produces a desire to surround ourselves with beauty on earth. As believers, we should encircle our lives with beauty. As a believer, beauty is vitally important for at least four reasons: beauty is a part of who God is; God loves, desires, and even commands beauty of His people; and we, as image bearers of God, should reflect His beauty in our person and homes.

Plato believed ‘beauty’, like ‘goodness’ or ‘justice’, was a ‘divine, eternal existence’ (“Beauty” 2). Beauty is infinitely connected to truth and goodness, and all three are attributes of the Divine. Unlike the study of aesthetics today, which concentrates on beauty as relating to human sensibility, classical philosophers studied beauty in connection to the Eternal. Plato viewed our world as a reflection of the ‘perfect world of Ideas’ where truth, beauty and goodness epitomized perfection. (“Beauty” 3) These elements are all unified and inter-related. Truth is by its nature beautiful and good. Goodness is also both true and beautiful. Beauty is defined by what is true and good. We, as Christians, can agree with Plato in that these ‘Idea’s are culminated in the Divine (A Christian Vision). However, to the Christian, truth, beauty, and goodness are core elements of our God. They are only found in God, they originated from God, and they are part of who God is.

Truth and goodness are of unquestionable importance to many believers. Yet, how many think of beauty as important enough be a part of these elements? Beauty is easily neglected and passed over as if it is only the icing on the cake, a nice touch, but optional. Beauty is not optional in the life of a believer. Not only is beauty a part of God’s essence, but He delights and dwells in it. In Exodus 25, God gave specific directions to the Israelites building his tabernacle. This was to be a place carefully fashioned with precious materials, creating a sanctuary of splendor for His dwelling place. His priests attending in the tabernacle were to be clothed in beautiful apparel. These garments were painstakingly crafted of gold, purple, scarlet, and linen (Exodus 28). This earthly reflection of God’s glory was important to Him. We must not make the mistake in believing that God is honored by ugliness or plainness when he so carefully commanded his tabernacle to be a place of exquisite craftsmanship and his priests to be arrayed in beauty. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember God desires beauty of the heart just as much as outside beauty. Outside and inside beauty work together, like the different organs of our body. Each improves the other.

Beauty is of importance to many areas of life, but in the home, this need is especially great. “For the Christian who is consciously in communication with the Creator, surely his home should reflect something of the artistry, the beauty, and order of the One whom he is representing, and in whose image he has been made.” (qtd. in Willits 28) Edith Schaeffer clearly affirms the importance of beauty in our homes. Creating a beautiful home does not mean we should become materialistic or use our homes to boast of our wealth. We cannot use ‘beauty’ as an excuse for sin. Instead, use beauty as it was meant to be used: to bring joy to yourself and your fellow men. When God created Adam and Eve in Genesis 1, he placed them in a home of indescribable beauty; a lush garden in an earth still sparkling from creation. This was God’s ideal dwelling place for us, a place designed to give us delight and comfort. Cultivating beauty within the home encourages an atmosphere of joy, harmony, peace, and comfort for all who pass through its doors. In consciously transforming our homes into realms of beauty, we show love to all who enter its doors. One way we can do this is by appealing to the senses. The woman in Proverbs 7 successfully illustrates the power of sensory appeal. She used this power in a wicked way, but as we seek to decorate our homes, we can use this example to remember the influence for good that sensory decorating can exert. Fresh flowers, diffusing their perfume throughout the room, uplifting art prints or photographs, fabrics of varying weights and feel, splashes of color, live plants, using a myriad of texture, candles, and beautiful music are all ways to make your home a place that touches the heart.

The role of beauty in our person is of additional importance. Dress and appearance are controversial topics in Christian culture. Interestingly, scripture reveals that God not only desires beauty in His dwelling place, but also of His people. “So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him” (Psalms 45). The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 arrayed herself in ‘fine linen and purple’ (verse 24). In addition, she took care of her family in like manner, clothing them in scarlet (verse 23). Abigail, Ruth, Esther, Sarah, Rebecca, the woman in Song of Solomon, and Rachel, were all women praised for their inner and outer beauty throughout Scripture. The King’s daughter, in Psalms 45, is “all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors” (verses 13-14). These verses are speaking of the church, representing inward and outward beauty. We are to be robed inwardly with the glory of Christ’s righteousness. This hidden beauty should manifest itself in our outward person. Just as the King’s daughter is ‘all glorious within’ while outwardly robed in shimmering gold. Would God portray His ideal women dressing beautifully in Scripture if He forbade it for women today? God is truth, and by His very nature is not contradictory. Therefore, would He would lift up something as glorious to use in illustration yet condemn the outworking of that in his people? Dress is an outlet of expression and undeniably communicates to others a message about who you are or seeking to be. As Christians serving a beautiful God, we should be portraying this truth to the world. Beautiful clothing does not have to be flashy or immodest. Admittedly, as in many other areas of life, we can be led by our selfish desires and lusts when we decide what to wear in the morning. However, our propensity to sin does not erase the principles of scripture that reveal God’s desire for beauty in His people. Vanity, extravagance, immodesty and sloppiness are evil. But these problems stem from the heart. They are not caused by our dress. Christian women should be brimming with inward and outward beauty, each enhancing the other. Imagine the picture of a soft, feminine, delicately modest, radiantly joyful, Christian woman, clothed in beautiful attire becoming to her person. This is the picture of beauty we should be modeling to the world. God created every woman uniquely beautiful. Let us do the best we can with what He has given us.

In summary, I will close with a quote from Roy Atwood, the President of New Saint Andrews College. “While the world may be busy pursuing “art for art’s sake” or treating aesthetics like it rested on the bottom of the food chain, Christians should adorn their lives, their homes, their worship with humble acts of aesthetic faithfulness because they know the Creator and Lord of Aesthetics delights in them” (Cultura 2) We are not all gifted artistically, but everyone has the ability to cultivate beauty in their lives. The benefits of this perspective are many, one being simply inner fulfillment. As Christians, let us not only live a beautiful life for ourselves, but also for the glory it gives our God.

Works Cited

Lewis, C.S. “The Weight of Glory”. 8 June 1946. doxaweb. 7 November 2008 <>.

Willits, Terry. Creating a Sensational Home. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Atwood, Roy. “Faithful Aesthetic Acts.” Credenda/Agenda. Cultura. Vol.8, No.2. 7 November 2008. The New Kings James Bible. Republic of Korea: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1988.

Mohler, Al. “A Christian Vision of Beauty, Part One.” 16 November 2005. 6 October 2008. <

Photo courtesy of and

November 24, 2008

Welcome to Emerson Faith!

Bless the Lord! Precious Emmy chose November 23 as the date of her arrival, much to the joy of her family. Kendra began her labor around 1:00 am, was Emmy was born near 1:00 pm. The Orange Cove Parish's were walking out the door to church when we received the notification that 'things were happenin'. After spending the previous week at Daniel and Kendra's waiting for her arrival, I desperately wanted to see her as soon as possible, and perhaps even share in the final moments of her birth. Communication, packing, and driving time was done in the essence of speed. Mom and Dad warned me several times not to "drive like a maniac" which I tried to obey. Nonetheless, travel time was quicker than ever before and with tears of joy, I pulled up Burtonwood road about 45 minutes after Emerson's birth. Precious moments awaited within the door.

Emerson Faith Parish, weighing in at 7 pounds, 15 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. She has the most beautiful skin, with that musky, delicious, brand-new smell. Velvety hair, dark like her Daddy's adorns her head. Her little nails are perfectly formed, and almost long enough to clip. In short, she is precious spelled with a capital P!

'Oma', and Auntie Lindsay turn adoring eyes on the wee one.

Grandpa and his little girl
Cuddles with Grandma
Emmy~ I love you!
Mom and Dad left a few hours after I did and arrived around 8:30 pm. What joy there was in those moments! Mom will stay at Dan and Kendra's until Thursday morning leaving her role in Thanksgiving to me. -gasp!- :-)

Olivia Joy meets her little sister

Three little Princesses and their Daddy

Jae has been looking forward to this moment for months!

November 10, 2008

One of the highlights of our summer was a visit from my Mom's best friend, her sister. Aunt Susan, her son Travis, daughter in law Julie, and granddaughter Elisa flew all the way from Alaska to spend days that turned out to be very special ones indeed. We packed in as much as we possibly could in that time, and enjoyed every minute with them! They came from Alaska to sunny California, so we spent as much time in the water as possible. Sailing at Huntington lake, a girl's shopping trip, beach time, slip and slide fun, a weekend all together with Max and Jenny, and Daniel and Kendra, topping it all off with a backpack trip for the guys. We love and miss you Semmens!!

Kisses at Huntington

Julie and her precious one, Elisa.

Aunt Susan braved the possible 'tippiness' and took a ride with Julie and Simon. :-) Whoo-hoo!

Time with Family

Happy Mother's Day to Grandma!

Time at the Beach

El Pizmo Taco came highly recommended by the Telian family, and we enjoyed the yummy Mexican 'belly stuffers' found there. :-)

All the guys on the backpack trip. (picture courtesy of the Telian's)

When the backpackers returned home, the Telian's invited us to a barbecue in their honor. :-) We laughed at the slideshow of pictures from their trip, enjoyed the fabulous food, as well as great fellowship!
Travis set up the slip-n-slide and they all had a great time splashing about.

None of the Orange Cove Parishes had ever met Julie, so we had a great time catching up on lost time. :-) We love you Julie and Elisa!!

While at the beach, we took the opportunity to visit Hearst Castle. The word that springs to mind is . . . WOW! I couldn't help pretending I was one of the fancy ladies who would visit the castle when Hearst still lived there. The pools were my favorite, taking you away to the time of the Greeks. :-) And his library? One could turn into a dusty relic if you were allowed, exploring Hearst's extensive book collection. For some reason, I always feel a bit tingly whenever I visit a place that was once filled with laughter, misery, gay visitors who would worm their way into Hearst's affections, and most of all, a man without the light of God in his heart, searching for happiness through his antiques and his gigantic home.

We rode a bus all the way up to the castle. On the way, the remains of the largest personal zoo ever owned was pointed out to us.

Today, the Hearst ranch is used for cattle farming among other things.

The new visitor center was quite interesting!