Saturday, September 19, 2009


The Laslie's from our church invited everyone out to their family's farm for a BBQ on this beautiful day. But in addition to the food, they also had a little shooting range set up. I had never been around guns before, and it was pretty neat. It was great to see men and women enjoying something in a safe and respectful way that can be used in such an terrible way when not used properly. The kids even had a chance to shoot because Keith (one of the elders at our church) took the time to brief each child on the safety and responsibility necessary when shooting a gun. What I thought was going to be scary (hearing gun shots all afternoon, with kids running around) turned out to be an educational experience. Reed said that he thinks when children (and grown ups!) have the opportunity to use/see guns in a controlled environment, in real life, it takes away a lot of the misconceptions from TV, and also takes away the fear and mystery behind guns.
The weather was beautiful, the fellowship was encouraging, and the whole thing just felt so Southern to me :) I love, love, love living in Lynchburg and attending church with my family at Redeeming Grace!

The Croteau kids (Danielle and DJ) and myself


Ann instructing Danielle how to be a safe gun observer

Do you see his ears? Danielle put the ear muffs on the poor practice deer.

Today was Danielle's 9th birthday! Happy Birthday, Danielle!

Little Libby being cute while her momma and big brothers learned how to shoot.

Libby's brothers, Christopher and Jonathan, (with Ken) recieving a safety lesson from Keith.

Jonathan was so proud after he shot the gun (with Keith's help).

Reed recieving the same lesson from Keith before he shot :) He hit the little target twice! Yay, Reed!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Reed!

On Friday, the 11th, my best friend turned 23! Happy Birthday, Reed!

A few months back, we had decided to go to Nags Head when the rates dropped, which just happened to be on his birthday weekend. So, we left on Thursday morning, and came back Saturday night. We had a such a good time! Reed and I had only been away for 1 night together since our honeymoon (on a mini-trip to Charlottesville earlier this summer, which was also awesome) and we really enjoyed going to the beach together.

The hotel we stayed in had a very large bird named Sabrina that lived in the lobby. She was pretty neat, and the door to her cage was left open. There was a huge sign behind Sabrina, warning us that she bit. But as we walked up to her, she balanced herself on one leg, offering me the other. So, of course, I picked her up and of course, she bit me. The lady at the check in counter yelled at Sabrina and tried to spray her with water so Sabrina would let me go, but she got me instead.

The first night, we spent way too much $$$ on a seafood buffet. We both really wanted to get some good seafood (okay, me more than Reed, but he's a nice guy) though afterwards decided the money would have been better spent at our favorite Italian restaurant here in Lynchburg. You live and learn!

The second day, I woke up to Reed reading his Bible in the corner, and he handed me some coffee when my head popped up. (At home, he hands me tea:) I was enjoying some Food Network while Reed read, and then his phone rang. It was his parents calling to wish him a happy birthday, I could hear over the phone. I felt so terrible! I had forgotten! I mean, I had only been awake for maybe a half an hour, but I had made such a big deal about his birthday the night before. When Reed got off of the phone, he told me that he had forgotten it was his birthday too, until he opened up his Bible reading plan and saw the date. He said maybe if I had read my Bible instead of watching Food Network, I would have remembered too :)

After figuring out that it was Reed's birthday, we went out for a drive. We ate a snack at Duck doughnuts, went to a few shops looking for a charm for my bracelet, and then ate at a local bagel place for lunch. Though it was overcast, we put on our swim suits and hit the beach with our books in hand. We ended up staying much later than we meant to, and both of us are now crispy from the sun that decided to come out.

Toni reading on the beach
Reed reading on the beach

That night we grabbed a pizza for dinner, and hung out in the room. We had planned on going back out and flying kites on the beach, but I had migraine # 1 out of 3 on this short little trip that night, so we just stayed in.

The next morning, after packing up our room and saying goodbye to Sabrina, I had another migraine. I tried to be tough, so we went and got fries after checking out, in spite of the migraine. This was a bad decision, as the fries I ate ended up all over the parking lot in my attempt to throw up in the grass. Ugh.

We had wanted to eat at a pancake house we spotted in town, but I was too scared to eat before we got in the car for 6 hours (during which I had another migraine!!). So, we took some pictures in huge beach chairs instead:

Goodbye Nags Head! We had a great time! We'll be back!

Monday, September 7, 2009

This Momentary Marriage- Piper

A post on this subject, marriage, is daunting to me.

I recently read "This Momentary Marriage" by John Piper, and was comforted by his hesitation to address the subject as well. "I waited 40 years to write this book. There have been so many stresses in our marriage that I felt unfit to write about marriage at 10, 20, or 30 years into it. Now at 40 years, I realize we will never have it all together, so it seemed a good time to speak."

I have only been married for nearly 3, and I don't think I'll have as much wisdom as Piper even when I have been married for 40 years. But I read somewhere when I was first married that we should always be passing on what we have learned; somewhere there is someone who has experienced less than you... even if you have only been married a day longer than your listener.

Of course, there are many aspects to marriage: the practical, the spiritual, the enjoyable, the sacrifice. I just wanted to share a few things I learned, or things that were brought back to my attention, while reading Piper's "This Momentary Marriage."

1) Marriage is a parable, which exists for His glory

This topic alone, and it's implications, could be a book by itself... but I'll keep it short. Piper says throughout his book that, "The ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it exists for God's glory. That is, it exists to display God. Now we see how: Marriage is patterned after Christ's covenant relationship to his redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream" (pg.25).

The primary purpose is not for physical or emotional satisfaction, though those things are important and God does use a successful marriage to bless us in these ways. The purpose is not to have a successful financial relationship, to stick around as long as you are 'happy,' or to live together and put on smiling face as long as the kids are in the house, though the world may promote marriage as these things. Marriage is ultimately about living a parable, demonstrating the relationship of our Lord and Savior Christ, and His bride the Church. The conclusions that should be evident in our relationships because of this fact are many: leadership and submition, sacrifice and devotion, respect, honor, and love, delight and joy. How would your marriage look if you, wife, treated your husband the way you would Christ? And how would your marriage look, husband, if you loved and cared for your wife the way Christ does for His bride?

If we are living in our marriage relationships in such a way that we are daily conforming to His will for the relationship, we are learning to portray Christ and the Church to all who view our marriage. By using this aspect of our lives to point to Christ, we glorify Him.

2) Marriage is permanent
This point is a repercussion of the first. If you understand marriage to be a symbol of Christ and His bride, the issue of divorce becomes very clear. When has Christ left His bride? Piper explains, "if Christ ever abandons and discards the church, then a man may divorce his wife. And if the blood-bought church, under the new covenant, ever ceases to be the bride of Christ, then a wife may legitimately divorce her husband. But as long as Christ keeps His covenant with the church, and as long as the church, by the omnipotent grace of God, remains the chosen people of Christ, then the very meaning of marriage will include: What God has joined, only God can separate" (pg. 159).

Piper explains that the only way to truly dissolve a marriage is for one of the two to die, because there is no marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:30). To understand marriage as a permanent thing that only God can dissolve (and on this side of heaven He will not), the words Jesus spoke in Luke make complete sense: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18). Jesus is not trying to punish the divorced by saying that their post-divorce relationships are adultery. He is saying that these people are not actually divorced, because marriage only ends upon the death of a spouse! So indeed, it is an adulterous act to wed another while your spouse is still living. (As a side note, of course there are life threatening situations where perhaps grievous sin is being committed in your home, and for safety you cannot live with your spouse. While leaving is not ideal but might be necessary for safety, divorce is not an option.) Piper attempts to address several "What if?" questions in the chapters about divorce. I do not claim to understand it all, nor have an answer for all the questions, and neither does Piper. However, I would encourage you to read the book if you had more questions.

3) Marriage is a covenant

This concept, that marriage is a covenant and not a conditional contract, has a profound impact on the spiritual aspect of marriage, as well as the day to day lives of two sinners struggling to reflect Christ. Because marriage is a covenant, it is permanent, as is Christ's love for the church. It is neither feelings nor actions based, but remains in place in spite of bad emotions or sinful deeds. On a daily basis, this means that both husband and wife are called to remain faithful to their spouse no matter what the other has done. Even beyond remaining faithful, each spouse is called to serve the other in spite of how they feel that day, or if their spouse has been grouchy. While it is difficult to rise above circumstances, and even more difficult sometimes to recognize that our sin is our own responsibility, (even though it might be response to a sinful spouse) we are still called to uphold our end of the covenant and serve our spouse faithfully.

Another wonderful daily benefit about covenant keeping love is that it should banish fear and insecurity. No matter how terribly we acted, or how ashamed we are of something, we can be confident our spouse will not leave, and will accept us with open arms. How comfortable (and comforting) it is to be in fellowship with someone who loves you unconditionally! I know that personally, that is a huge comfort to me. No matter how I look, what I've done or not done, what I've said or not said, I am not just tolerated, but prized by my husband.

Piper explains, "Amazingly, in the very context of the collapse of the covenant between God and man, and the collapse of the marriage covenant between Adam and Eve, God points by His mercy to the redemption that marriage itself is designed to display. God's design for marriage as a display of covenant-keeping mercy was not an afterthought. After the Fall, God did not have to redesign marriage. He knew what He had created in Genesis 2:24. And he knew what would happen in Genesis 3. The design of marriage, the fall of marriage, and the implied redemption of marriage all serve to tell us what marriage is for. Marriage exists to display the merciful covenant-keeping love of Christ and the faithfulness of His bride" (pg. 38).


My marriage is my favorite blessing from God (apart from my salvation) and I am so very aware of how richly He has blessed me. When I walk in the door to a note from my husband, when I am comforted by him through both the tiny and the life-shaking alike, when I am challenged by him to read though the Bible in a year, to post meaningful things on my blog, and to not waste my free time, when I doubt in the future, but can trust God to lead me through the leadership of my husband,and when I lay next to Reed at night in complete comfort and rest, through all these things I am genuinely in awe that this is only a taste of what is to come.

That the Lord loves me more.

That no matter how wonderful my relationship with Reed is, it was designed to portray something greater.

What an awesome responsibility. I am so thankful for the man I share this responsibility with, but even more thankful to the God who designed this for us.

Piper shares hopes that he, "might wake you up to consider a vision of marriage higher and deeper and stronger and more glorious than anything this culture- or perhaps even yourself- ever imagined. The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illumining and awakening work of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God. The natural man does not have the capacities to see or receive or feel the wonder of what God has designed marriage to be. I pray that this book might be used by God to help set your free from small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical view of marriage" (pg. 21).