New Home

Luke had his preschool program today. I am happy to report that he sang the songs and did the motions. He didn't seem to suffer any stage fright at all. It was so precious to watch him and his little buddies up there. It's hard to pick him out without being able to see his hair, so I'll help you out. He is wearing a maroon hat and a red button down shirt in the picture above. As if there isn't enough going on this time of year, we decided to start the house-hunting process last Thursday. We found the perfect house for us almost immediately, and we went ahead and made an offer. It was accepted and we're closing Jan.11! We're thrilled. We'll have three bedrooms, two baths, a full, finished basement, a great deck and yard, and even a pool table thrown into the deal. Next week we leave to visit family... so merry Christmas! I hope you are celebrating the Love that came down to us in Christ that first Christmas day. Rejoice, rejoice, Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!



Today is the second Sunday of Advent, and our church has included this great explanation of Advent in the bulletin each week: "The word 'advent' means 'coming.' The entire Old Testament period was used by God to prepare His people for the coming or advent of the Messiah. Many churches celebrate the Season of Advent beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and continuing through Christmas Eve. Referring to the 'coming' or 'arrival' of Jesus Christ, there is a three-fold meaning of the term advent: (1) the advent of our Lord in the flesh at Bethlehem on the first Christmas; (2) the advent of the Lord by His Word and Spirit here and now; and (3) the advent of our Lord when He shall return visibly in glory at the end of history. The theme that runs throughout is thanksgiving for what God has already accomplished, joy in what God is presently doing, and hopeful anticipation of what God yet will fulfill." Funny Luke-ism: Following the worship service this morning, we had a congregational meeting. They asked parents to get the kids out of the nursery and return to the meeting. Shane went downstairs and brought Luke and Jackson back up. They came in and sat down with me, and I whispered hello to Luke. He said hey and then I heard him gasp. "That's a big cross, Mama!" he whispered as he observed, I guess for the first time, the cross that hangs on the wall in the front of the church. He was very quiet and well-behaved during the meeting. Maybe he's almost ready to sit in on part of the service with us.


November was a lovely month for the Whelans. We had a quiet Thanksgiving here in Lynchburg--we attended the Thanksgiving Day service at our church and then shared a wonderful meal with the Dunn family and their extended family and friends. As you can see in the picture, Luke got a "big boy haircut" a couple of weeks ago. His curls have already grown out a bit and look like they'll come back just as curly. Jackson is also changing in appearance. He has some little curls on the back of his head, two more teeth coming in, and he's growing with leaps and bounds. He is pulling up and crusing along the furniture, so we know walking isn't far behind. He says "da" all the time and can wave at you.

We got our Christmas tree at a local farm and put it in the den to the delight of the boys and the cats. The Christmas traditions at our church have been so meaningful and rich. We were chosen to light the Advent candle last Sunday. Last night we went to the lighting of the Chrismon tree, and next Sunday night we will have a "Hanging of the Greens" service. All of these things would be enjoyable in and of themselves, but it's more than for fun or tradition's sake. These events remind us of Christ's humble incarnation, and they point us toward His return. They keep us "looking eastward," and help us live in light of God's covenant promises. One of the wonderful things we appreciate about Rivermont is its diligence in making sure everything we do as the body of Christ is meaningful, purposeful, and biblical. Even the smallest details are meant to draw us back to our reliance on God's grace and mercy and remind us of the Gospel.

In totally unrelated news, we are now HUGE fans of the TV show 24. No, it's not currently on TV except for repeats on A & E, but we have rented the seasons gone by in order to catch up by the start of season 6 in January. We are currently about halfway through season 4, so it looks like we'll make it. I highly recommend it, especially for those frustrated LOST fans who want drama without all the unanswered questions.


The Sunshine State

Jackson in the pool at our Orlando hotel. By the Bay with Patrick

Sunset over Tampa Bay


Trip Photos

Shane, me, Ashley, Josh, and Jenna in Athens after the Georgia/Miss. State game
We've been home over a week and I'm finally catching up. Our "southeastern tour" as it was dubbed was excellent, but we were all glad to get home. Our trusty Taurus took us 2,100 miles down to Georgia, Florida, and back. The boys did great in the car. They were little troopers and enjoyed seeing friends and relatives. Here are some fun pictures from along the way and there will be more to come when I get a few more minutes!


Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

Some pictures from our Halloween adventures...the sweet little girl in the pictures with Jackson and Luke is our little friend Madison Yeatts, daughter of Chris and Marla. Marla has been such a great friend to me in our time here in Lynchburg. We met at Olan Mills when I was getting a portrait of the boys and she was picking up pictures of Madison. We started chatting, hit it off, and she invited us over for dinner that Friday night. The photographer asked how long we had been friends and when I told her we just met she laughed and said, "No way! I thought you had been friends forever!" Funny story and the start of a great friendship. Luke was Bob the Builder for Halloween, in case you don't recognize him. It took some convincing to get him to wear the construction hat, but he did wear it while trick-or-treating.


Autumn has arrived in the mountains! The weather is beautiful, the sky is clear blue, and the leaves are vibrant. We live on the third (top) floor of our apartment building, and I am surprisingly thankful because it means we get to stare at the beautiful treetops all day. We were so thankful to have a visit from Shane's mom and stepdad last week. They made the trip from Mississippi in 11 hours--road warriors! The whole family enjoyed their visit, but Luke was especially happy to see GG and Grandpa. We're headed on our first long trip in a couple of weeks. Stops include: Marietta to visit my family, Athens to see the bulldogs (both kinds) play and hang out with dear friends, Orlando for Shane's Youthworker Oasis Conference, Tampa to see Shane's dad and the Whelan side of the family, and Newnan to see Shane's sisters and their families. Whew! Living far away plus having kids equals packing in the visits on trips. Jackson did in fact crawl underneath the Exersaucer all on his own, as you see above. He is crawling in the more traditional sense now; for a while there he was moving around by doing "the worm."


Here are some fun pictures we took this weekend at Amazement Square http://www.amazementsquare.org, the children's museum here in Lynchburg. Luke loved exploring it all. There is a painting room with glass walls that kids can just cover in paint, and then they hose it off every hour or so. There were stairs that light up when you walk up them, and there was a room with different physics experiments you could do with golf balls. Luke didn't get the physics part (truthfully, Shane and I didn't either), but we enjoyed shooting golf balls across the room. Science whizzes we are not. Notice Luke mixing it up with his headphones and drum machine. I think Ben taught him well!


Runny Babbit

Luke has been sick for the last few days; I finally took him to the doctor yesterday afternoon when his fever came back and was informed that he has a double ear infection. He has never had an ear infection before, which I find pretty impressive, but now he has two at the same time. After we got some antibiotic in him yesterday he was a new man. I am so thankful for doctors and medicine! Last Friday we headed to Virginia Beach to stay with our friends Gabe and Lisa Sava, and their little girl, Lexi. Shane had tickets for us to see Rascal Flatts in concert at the Va Beach Amphitheater. We had so much fun and it was great to visit the Savas. They became Shane's friends the first time he lived in Virginia, when he worked at WAVY-10 TV station and we first started dating. We have kept in touch and have seen them a few times since we got married. They are expecting baby number 2 in April--yay! Here is a picture of my "little" baby. He is really trying to crawl; he is pretty determined, so I don't think it will be long! Jackson is such a happy little boy. He smiles all the time and rarely cries. Let's just say it's a nice balance to the "terrible twos" stage that Luke is going through. =) Luke has started calling bunny rabbits "runny babbits" which cracks me up. He speaks quite well usually, so it's funny to hear him say it. I like it, and despite what the experts say about discouraging baby talk, I think runny babbits might be permanently added to our family dictionary.


Luke's First Day of School

Yesterday was a milestone day for the Whelan family--Luke started preschool at our church. I didn't think I would get emotional about it, but I was a little sad to think about how quickly he is growing up. I know he's only 2 years old; I'm not supposed to get nostalgic yet. But it is amazing how fast time passes and how much our children change every day. Back to preschool, Luke seems to really enjoy it. He goes two mornings a week and is in a class with a total of 8 boys and 2 girls! It is a very Christ-centered, family-friendly program. It was odd having so much quiet time the last two mornings. Jackson took good long naps and left me to the stillness of our apartment. I have to say I enjoyed it, and I think it will be good for me in terms of working at home and getting things done around here. It's amazing how fast an apartment becomes cluttered--we only have so much "living space," so everybody is living in the same space. I am so itchy to get a house, but all in due time. We signed a year-long lease here, so we'll look for a more permanent residence in the spring. Shane's ministry at Rivermont continues to go well. He has been so busy but is really enjoying devoting all his time at work to the youth of the church. Jackson has been trying to crawl for the last few weeks! He isn't even six months old yet. I think he is trying to keep up with his brother. We were finally able to get DSL yesterday, so I'll be able to post pictures from home whenever I want. I'll try to post more often, so check in more often. Thanks for taking the time to include my writing in your daily life!


Just a Mom

Two posts in one week...shocking, I know! I had to share this great quote by G. K. Chesterton I read today that really put in perspective what it means to be "just a mom." "To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute." (from What's Wrong with the World)


Special Day

Sunday was my 27th birthday, and it was such a special day for our family. Jackson was baptized into the church, and it was a lovely, meaningful service. The picture I posted is with our senior pastor, John Mabray. Jackson listened attentively but then he didn't care much for the sprinkle of water on his head. What a beautiful sign and symbol baptism is of God's covenant and care for His people. After church we went to eat lunch with our new friends, the Petreys, and when we walked in the restaurant, I was greeted with a huge, "Surprise! Happy Birthday!" Shane and Paula Petrey organized a surprise party for me! Many of our new Virginia friends were there, and it was so much fun! I continue to be thankful for our new church family and friends. It was such a special birthday. Saturday we took the boys to the mountains--the Peaks of Otter off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Luke went on his first hike--we walked down to a waterfall. He did great, and Jackson enjoyed the view from a carrier Shane wore. The views were so beautiful. Luke kept asking, "Where are the mountains?" We had to explain, "We're in the mountains!"


The Woes of Dial-Up

Just a quick post to say that I'm still alive and I tried to keep my word about posting pictures, but our stinky dial-up just refuses to allow me to post them. Shane will get a laptop at work in the next few days, so I'll use it at his office or maybe even here if we can pick up somebody's signal. Rest assured that Luke and Jackson are still just as cute and energetic as ever. Luke started spelling his name at Kroger the other day out of the blue. He was riding in the cart singing, "L-U-K-E" over and over again. He also informed me that "Mommy has big ole teeth," which I certainly do not or otherwise I might now have a complex about them. J is rolling over like a champ and grabbing for toys and our noses if we get close to him. He is so smiley. I tried to feed him cereal this morning for the first time, to no avail.
We have really loved worship at Rivermont already. Last week, we had the privilege of hearing Douglas Wilson preach at our night service. I have read and enjoyed several of his books and his wife, Nancy's books. Yesterday morning one of the associate pastors preached a great sermon on Micah 6:1-8. He talked about acting justly in response to the justice that Christ has already fulfilled for us. One comment he made that I loved was in regard to how proud we are of what we think we own and control, and how we want to control everything because we think we can do it best. He said that we sit on top of our little dung heaps and don't want God to come anywhere near them or mess them up. How true--we're so proud of what we think we have to offer God, when in reality it's just rubbish. We can't ever be good enough to gain our own righteousness. Our best efforts are but filthy rags according to Scripture. But how proud we are of those filthy rags, of that dung heap we like to claim as our own. Instead, we should boast about what Christ has done for us, fulfilling the Law and freeing us from ourselves and our sins.


Our First Week in Virginia

Hello from Virginia! We are getting settled in to our new home in Lynchburg, and we're finally hooked up with phone and internet. We felt very out of touch for a while--it's funny how accustomed you become to being able to reach others and being reachable at any given moment. Anyway, our first week has been truly great. Busy, yes, but we have received the warmest welcome from our new church family, and Shane and I both feel that this is a place we will enjoy and love very much. I told him on Sunday, "This may be a bit premature, but I REALLY like it here!" We have been inundated with visitors, people to help us unpack, babysitters, and tons of food. People are genuinely eager to serve us, and it has already made us grateful and humble. Luke and Jackson are adjusting fabulously...they are sleeping better here than they ever have before. Maybe they're just completely exhausted, but whatever the reason, I'm getting eight hours of sleep every night and I'm loving it. We have taken Luke to the pool a few times and he is getting pretty brave in the water. We took a family trip today to Appamattox, where General Lee surrendered in April 1865. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We took a picnic lunch to a nearby lake and enjoyed the mountains surrounding us. I'll post some pictures of our adventure next time.


In Transition

Luke, Jackson, and I returned home from a busy, fun-filled trip to Marietta this afternoon. We left last Wednesday, and being gone a week has taken its toll on me! During our visit, I met up with Shane and the youth group at Six Flags last Thursday, visited with friends, went to a wedding, spent lots of time with my parents and grandparents, did a little shopping and a lot of eating, and now we're back in West Point for our final days here. Since things are in flux I won't write again until we are settled and online in our new digs in Virginia. The movers are coming Friday to pack us up; we are saying our goodbyes at church on Sunday, closing on the house on Monday, and movers will be back on Monday to load the truck and head out. We will probably arrive in Lynchburg Tuesday. My parents gave me a great early birthday present...a new digital camera! So I will have lots of fun photos to share as soon as we get settled in a bit. This is a crazy time for us, but it's exciting too. We are looking forward to what God has in store.


Tupelo Buffalo Park

Here is our most recent picture of Shane and the boys and a friendly tortoise. This is the best I can offer now until we find our digital camera or replace it.


Welcome Mat

Well, I've done it: I've jumped on the blog bandwagon! It's a commitment that I have thought way too much about, as I tend to do. I couldn't decide if I should really commit myself to being the reporter and photographer of our family, making us accessible to anyone who might browse their way on to our little site. But I decided the benefits outweigh all that. We will be able to share our journey from Mississippi to Virginia, give everyone a glimpse of our life there, and hopefully keep in touch with friends and family on a more consistent basis. A little note about our blog title: We came up with it after Shane returned from junior high RYM (Reformed Youth Movement, a camp in Panama City) last week with a story from the RUF campus minister at UT. He was friends with another minister who visited children with Down's Syndrome at a home supported by Moody Bible Institute. One day the building manager came to the minister and asked, "Do you know what our number-one maintenance request is in this building?" The minister replied that he had no idea. The building manager said, "It's that we clean the windows on the east side of the building." He explained, "Every morning the children wake up, go the window, and press their hands and faces against the windows because they know that the Bible says when Jesus comes back, He will come from the east. They are looking for Him." What an example for us to imitate. Shane and I want to be constantly looking eastward, ready and waiting for Him to return.