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Here she is! The one and only Emmaline Elizabeth! Born January 25, she is the most precious new addition to our family.

We know her name is a mouthful, but we love it. We call it her princess name. People keep asking where her name came from: is it a family name? did we make it up? did we combine several names?  The story is that I knew a girl in college named Emmeline (by the way, her name rhymes with sign not seen); we liked the name because its feminine and unique but not too weird or crazy.  And there are a lot of nicknames that go with Emmaline (see below).  As we were waiting for our baby girl to arrive, we were also in the season of Advent, awaiting the birth of our Savior, Emmanuel. The more we reflected on the miraculous hope of Emmanuel – God with us – the more we thought of the name Emmaline.  We pray that she would embody the Gospel: the hope, peace, joy, and love that can only come from knowing and believing that Christ came to dwell with us.

Sweet Emmy did not have a middle name until she was 18 hours old.  We had a lot of middle name options but finally settled on Elizabeth for four big reasons.  First, my sister’s middle name is Elizabeth – and we love giving our children family middle names.  We hope that Emmaline will have a sweet bond with her three amazing aunts.  Second, both of our boys have a biblical name:  Micah and Hudson Noah.  In the Bible, Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist and the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus.  Elizabeth was a faithful servant of the Lord, and He showered on her grace and mercy.  She knew that God was using her and her family to prepare a way for the Lord, and we pray that Emmaline would believe the same about herself and her family.  Third, it is fitting that, in Hebrew, Elizabeth means “My God is a Promise.”  As Emmaline’s first name points to the promise of God with us, her middle name also reminds us of God’s promise to come again.  Finally, Elisabeth Elliot was an amazing missionary and a woman who I hope will be an inspiration to our Emmaline.

She already has a number of nicknames: Em, Emmy, Liney, Liney Lu, and E.  You can call her Emmy Beth, Emmy Liz, and I still catch myself calling her Emmy Grace (Grace was a middle name option).  I often add a title in front of her name:  Princess Emmaline, Miss Emmaline, Lady Emmaline  And we are still calling her Baby Raine (short for Lorraine the Plane).  Raine will be her blog name from here on out.

I finally downloaded all of the pictures off my camera, so I will post more pictures and stories in the coming few days.

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We have a third little squirt hopefully arriving in the next few weeks. A girl! In true Engstrom fashion, this little one has a great nickname (Lorraine the Plane, or Raine for short) but no real name. We set up a poll to help us decide what to name her. We’d love for you to vote! Just go to: http://twtpoll.com/1139o3

In the meantime, this is our Christmas card from this year. The first to include THREE kids!

Tomorrow GTB graduates from preschool.  Yes, they call it graduation even though he’s not moving on to anything else.  He will be back in the same place doing the same thing next year, he will still be only three years old, and he will probably still be getting stickers for going pee in the potty.  So we’re looking forward to what this graduation ceremony holds.  As Amber put it today, they keep finding new ways to celebrate mediocrity (can you name that movie?). I figure, if nothing else, this graduation ceremony celebrates a year of survival.  I’m pretty sure Miss Kathy is shocked she made it out alive, and I’m honestly a little bit surprised GTB made it out alive as well.  Here are some of the things GTB survived at school this year:

1.  Roid Rage.  Last fall, GTB reacted horribly to some steroids the pediatrician had prescribed him.  Needless to say, it was a loooong fall for us, his teacher, and him.

2.  Playground Bully.  Early this spring, GTB was crying almost every time I dropped him off at school.  He kept asking me if a certain boy was going to be there and telling me that he was scaring.  I figured…I’m sure this kid is acting crazy just like all the other 2-year-old boys in the class.  Turns out, that every kid in GTB’s class and in the class below his were terrified of this little boy.  Sad case.  We spent a lot of time praying for GTB to be brave and for this little boy to meet Jesus…and a lot of time wiping tears off of GTB’s face.  In mid-February, the kid left for vacation (or “gay-gay-tion” as GTB calls it) and never came back.  The rest of the school year was much easier.

3.  Mulch….GTB hates mulch…really, really hates it.  The whole playground at his school is mulch, and GTB would wig out anytime we left school and he had mulch still stuck to him.  He also would report to me every single time a kid threw mulch at him (although I’m sure he failed to tell me how frequently he threw mulch at other kids).

4.  Being in a different class than Eli.  GTB’s best friend in the whole world got put into the class above GTB’s.  GTB was so sad to not be with him.  As the year progressed, they got more and more used to it…and compensated by yelling “Tooty Booty!” every time they saw one another.

5.  The Christmas program.  Normally, GTB loves to be center stage, but apparently, he prefers to be solo.  He was unimpressed and unexcited about participating in the Christmas program the school put on.  He sat to one side and rolled his eyes as he watched the other kids sing.

For all the things he survived, Toodus and I were just reflecting on how much he’s grown in a year.  He has gotten over so many of the things that were annoying about the two’s – wanting every that we had, fighting over toys, accidentally wetting his pants – and he’s become more and more fun to be around!  He is hilarious at telling jokes, he is everyone’s best friend (no joke), he’s getting better and better with his manners, and he is becoming a really great helper.  Even though GTB’s not technically graduating, we sure are excited for the chance to celebrate him.

His first day….

Our friend Laura is finishing a grad degree from the LBJ school this week.  To celebrate their upcoming graduation, Laura and her classmates put together a roast for all of their professors and one another, and one of the skits starred GTB!  That’s right…he finally made it to the big screen 🙂  The video is a version of Reading Rainbow (remember that awesome show?  right after mr. rogers and 3-2-1 contact), and it features kids critiquing books written by LBJ professors.  GTB’s the second kid in the video…its pretty short so if you have a chance, you should check it out.

I was just thinking about our dear friends, the Halls, tonight.  We miss them like crazy.  Here’s a picture of GTB and M when they were about 4 months old

And here’s a pic of GTB and M last fall when the Hall family came to visit. 

And finally, here’s a picture of the little two.

I hope that even though we’re so far apart, these kids grow up knowing and loving each other!

1. We discipline GTB, not because we believe we are worthy of obedience but because we believe that God is infinitely worthy of our obedience.  GTB must learn to obey us, as his parents, because His God expects and demands His obedience.

2.  We discipline GTB because we care more about his joy than he does.  I always assumed that I cared more about my joy and happiness than anyone else, but since I’ve become a parent, I’ve realized that I care infinitely more about GTB’s joy than I ever did my own…and surely my parents felt the same about me.  The truth of the Gospel is that our God wants our joy more than we ever could.  He loves us, He longs to bless us, He has set aside an inheritance for us….and he disciplines us so that we may see the blessings and joys He has for us.

3.  We discipline GTB because He does not yet have the seal of the Holy Spirit and the fruits which the Spirit produces.  Until the day when he receives the Holy Spirit, it is our job as parents to discipline Him in order to point him to what is good:  love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control.

4.  We discipline GTB not primarily to see external behavior change but in hopes that one day it will lead to internal heart transformation.  We hope that he would come to grieve his own sin, that might see that his heart his wicked, that he would feel that his heart is inherently bent towards rebellion against the Father who created him, and that he might realize that he is in desperate need of a Savior, the only one who can produce anything good from our heads, hearts, or hands.

5.  We discipline GTB so that he learns he is not in charge but that the God of the universe is in charge and wants his joyful submission.

6.  We discipline GTB so that we can reflect to him the character of God, who is always, completely, and simultaneously loving, forgiving, merciful, gracious, wrathful, jealous, just, and wise.

7.  We discipline GTB so that he knows our love for him is never contingent upon his behavior.  His behavior can neither earn our approval nor lose our affections.  Though his obedience might bring us joy and gladness, it is never the defining mark or his sonship or our enduring love for him.  We will always choose to love him.

8.  We discipline GTB not to push him towards perfection or morality but to show him his imperfection and his immorality.  We long for him to see himself as small and His God as big, perfect, and holy.

9.  We discipline GTB so that he knows we care about his thoughts, his actions, his heart.  We want him to know that he is intimately known and noticed.

10.  We discipline GTB that he might experience the Gospel – the Good News – for himself.  That he might come to grieve his own sin and see it as rebellion against a holy and good God; that he might know that while he is still in this sin, God has made a way for him, pursued him, sent God the Son to take on flesh and live the perfect life that he have never lived and die the death that his sin earned; that Immanuel – God with Us – then rose again victorious over both sin and death so that GTB can have the hope of eternal life, a sanctified obedient heart, a glorified body, and the joy of worshipping at the feet of his Savior forever.

11.  We discipline GTB so that he learns that he does not get to choose whom he views as an authority.  In an age when people feel the freedom to decide if, when, how, and who or what they obey, we want GTB to know that – no matter what the world thinks – the God of the universe is the ultimate authority and he sets the standards for our obedience because He is the author and creator of all that is.

12.  We discipline GTB not for our momentary peace, pleasure, or pride but for the eternal good of his soul.

13.  We discipline GTB so that we might better know the ways in which our loving Father is disciplining us.

14.  We discipline GTB so that he knows that any act of obedience on his part is only by the grace of God.  We will never reach a point where we run out of things to discipline GTB for, because he has to know that even the good things he does are wickedness [and thus deserving of discipline] apart from the goodness and grace of God.

15.  We discipline GTB so that he can feel the great weight and cost of his sin and disobedience against a holy and blameless God.

16.  We discipline GTB so that he can feel the frustration of being enslaved to a heart that is bent towards evil and can one day recognize the hope and the freedom that comes from believing that Jesus Christ paid a great price to buy our freedom and give us hearts of flesh.

17.  We discipline GTB because it refines us as parents and reminds us that we will continually fail our children.  Every time we discipline our son, we must also confess and repent that we are incapable of disciplining him in all grace, mercy, love, justice, and wisdom.  Our imperfect discipline allows us to humbly repent before our son and point him towards the perfect discipline of the Lord.

18.  We discipline GTB because it forces us to weep and grieve over his sin and causes us to feel deep pain for our child.  When it would be so much easier to ignore, we are forced to remember that his sin and disobedience are not just temporary annoyances to us but are reflections of a lost heart that is infinitely offensive to a perfect Father.

19.  We discipline GTB because it propels us to be in prayer for our child and in the Word for direction.  When we discipline or parent apart from these things, we are lead our child away from the Lord but if we discipline in and with prayer and the Word, we have opportunity to show our children that these are the ways in which God teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in righteousness.

20.  We discipline GTB so that we remember that our own parenting is not good enough for our child’s salvation.  Disciplining our son is a constant reminder that we can never lead him to salvation.  God must reveal himself to our son.

21.  We discipline GTB so that he would learn not to run from discipline but to run towards discipline.  If discipline is never a reflection of wrathful or prideful punishment but is instead the reflection of a loving, gracious, merciful, and just God who longs to lead his children into all righteousness, then discipline is not something to fear but is, instead, something to desire.

I decided to make a slow entry back into the blogging world and was digging through my drafts folder and found this.  Not sure what prompted the original writing of this or why I didn’t post it before, but I decided it was worth posting.We love this kid so much and are so thankful for the opportunity to be his parents! 

” My Father,

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections, open my lips,

supply words that proclaim, ‘Love lustres at Calvary.’

There grace removes my burdens and heaps them on thy Son,

made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;

There the sword of thy justice smote the man, thy fellow;

There thy infinite attributes were magnified,

and infinite atonement was made;

There infinite punishment was due,

and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,

cast off that I might be brought in,

trodden down as an enemy

that I might be welcomed as a friend,

surrendered to hell’s worst

that I might attain heaven’s best,

stripped that I might be clothed,

wounded that I might be healed,

athirst that I might drink,

tormented that I might be comforted,

made a shame that I might inherit glory,

entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,

groaned that I might have endless song,

endured all pain that I might have unfading health,

bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,

bowed his head that I might uplift mine,

experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,

closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,

expired that I might for ever live.

O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou mightest spare me,

All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished;

Help me to adore thee by lips and life.

O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,

my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed,

Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,

sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,

hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross,

mighty to subdue, comfort, and save.”

~The Valley of Vision, “Love Lustres at Calvary