Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CTBR is 3!

So our sweet little man just turned 3 and boy did we party! We had a family party earlier in the month, a party with his birthday buddy, Joshie, the night before his birthday and of course, a day-long party on his actual birthday. I don't think B realized that he actually turned 3 on his birthday because he asked me just tonight if he was almost 3.

Every year B's birthday I find myself wondering about his "birth" day. How I wish I could have witnessed his grand ntrance into the world. I long to know what his first cry sounded like or to see his little eyes open and see the world for the first time. But God did not see to fit to give me those moments. B's birthmother was given the gift of those first precious moments and I pray they were a gift. I hope she held him tight and prayed blessing over him. And I pray that God blesses her now with hope and peace and sustenance and security and salvation.

I have been given so many other precious, hilarious, fun, sweet moments with my son. And I am so, so, so thankful.

Our first few moments with Beniam - February 2009

CTBR turns 1! September 2009

CTBR turns 2! September 2010

CTBR turns 3! September 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cute girls and their cute quilts

Here are our 2 smallest Reno/Johnson cuties lounging on the quilts that I made for them.

This one is for my nephew, Elias, who lives in Florida and who, sadly, I have not yet met. Hopefully I will get a picture up soon of him enjoying his quilt.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthday Girl!

Our sweet Evangeline Rose turned 1 on July 22nd. Her first year was a blur...I don't really remember much. I have been assured that this is quite normal. We love this girl SO much and are so thankful that God answered our prayers and gave her to us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mama and Beniam Go on a Date

Not too long ago, Beniam and I had a date-night...milkshakes, Fernando Ortega and a fun foot-bridge. I love that boy! His enthusiasm is blessedly contagious, although he was a good deal more excited about the bridge than listening to "Nando." Oh well. Our friends the Carlsons were sitting in the front row and kindly schooched over to let us join them. Thanks Joe and Jen! They also snapped a great picture of us at the concert...we can see that here.

B is just about to turn 3 and we have definitely entered new and very challenging territory. I am so thankful for a godly, consistent husband who loves Beniam as much as I do with a fierceness that will fight for him...even it if means helping him to fight the "dragon" inside. I am also thankful to be surrounded by dear friends who have trod this path before us. We seem to have an abundance of exuberant, strong-willed children in our church community...God must have big plans for us!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sponsor the Reno kiddies and support a great organization!!

So many of you have probably already seen my email and Facebook posts about B and E participating the Walk for Life. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored them so far! Here is TeamReno at the Walk for Life last year.

The Walk for Life benefits a truly amazing organization, the Pregnancy Resource Center. The PRC offers completely free, no strings attached vital services to local women and their families. Not any services, but life-affirming services. Not just life-affirming of babies, but of women in every walk of life who need emotional and physical support that they can't find anywhere else. The love that the staff of the PRC show to the clients that come through their doors really is a brilliant reflection of Christ.

I have been involved with the PRC in many different ways throughout the last 10 years and based on my experiences it is one of the few non-profit organization that I continue to support. I just talked with Executive Director of the PRC and he shared that the PRC is in dire need of funds. Since the Walk for Life is their most important fundraisers, I am really determined to drum up as much support as I can muster. Can you help?

You can sponsor Beniam as he walks to support the PRC by clicking this link:

You sponsor Evangeline as she walks (or toddles or rides along in her cushy stroller) to support to the PRC by clicking this link:

Or you can contact me at

Thank you so much!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roadtrip Part 1

We were a bit crazy this summer and took a 3 week road trip throughout the West. The main goal was to see family...Chris' family reunion was this summer in Colorado, my grandparents live in Idaho and my mom and siblings are in Oregon. Beniam was a travel champ. For the most part he just sat in the back and watched movies and talked and talked and talked and built sculptures out of pipe cleaners and colored and looked at books and talked some more. Evangeline...not so much. Our precious girl has a shriek that puts the Nazgul to shame and it intensified on this trip, leaving Mama and sometimes Dada in a puddle of frazzled nerves. Beniam didn't really seem notice the ear-piercing noises coming from the other side of the car until towards the end of the trip. To top it off, the poor thing got altitude sickness in Colorado (we were at almost 9000 feet). But it really was a great trip, despite my stinky attitude at times and my girl's opera antics.

We stopped in Las Vegas for 2 nights to give the kiddies a break from driving. The hotel we stayed was super inexpensive and had 4 huge pools. The Johnsons cousins stopped with us and the kiddies had so much fun. The buffet at our hotel was crazy. We are not usually big buffet people but it is fun every once and awhile. Where else can you have eggs benedict and biscuits and gravy at the same time? And then 4 hours later go back for pizza, chinese food, mexican food and ice cream? A little over the top, but a nice treat for this mom. Beniam couldn't believe that he could have all of his favorite things on one plate at the same time...and then get an ice cream cone. Hurray for vacation!

And then 10 hours onto Colorado...At these reunions there are packs of children running everyone. Thankfully, everyone gets along so well...we always have a wonderful time and although homesickness does start to set it, we are always sad to say goodbye. Beniam had SO much fun with all of his "new" cousins. I didn't take too many pictures. I was a little busy cleaning up after my sick kiddies. But! We still had fun! The following pictures are from a little family fishing expedition. Our little fisherman caught 5 fish on our trip!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Crossing the Frothing Wave Vat

My husband just finished up the school year teaching sophomore and senior English. He really is an amazing teacher - I'm not the only who thinks so ;) It is a blessing to see him excel in something that he loves.

This year, he was asked to give an exhortation for the seniors at Baccelaureate. Because of our two wee ones (particulary the younger, who protests quites loudly when she isn't in her bed right at bedtime) I wasn't able to come, but I have been told that it was quite a hit. Here it is:

“Crossing the Frothing Wave Vat”

My dear young thanes and ladies of the King,

This being the last time I might exhort you, I thought it fitting that I adorn my exhortation with the English accent with which I’ve plagued you all semester. And I additionally thought it fitting since we Americans subconsciously tend to lend credence to folk with an “across the Atlantic” sound.

No doubt ye young Beowulf scholars recognize the kenning I’ve lawfully stolen for my title: “Crossing the Frothing Wave Vat.” This Anglo-Saxon figure of speech describes the foamy ragings of a sea intent on brewing up some trouble for a nautical crew. “What does this kenning have to do with me?” you might be wondering. Well, for several years now you’ve been sporting about the relatively placid Monte Vista Bay, where your teachers, administrators, and parents have been doing their best to prepare you for your embarkation on the “frothing wave vat” of your college years. These next four years will be some of your most memorable to date for a variety of reasons. So enjoy them as you glorify and enjoy God. But you will also encounter some monstrous waves, waves of lies and temptations that the great-grandfather of Grendel, Satan, will send to try to throw you from the ship of Christ’s Church. I would like to tackle one of these heresies by looking at it in two popular forms.

1st – “Imagine . . .
A world where everything is possible,
No boundaries,
No preconceptions,
Just endless possibility . . .”

Now . . . forget this world . . . because it doesn’t exist. It never has. It never will. It only exists in advertising, in the worst of romantic poetry, and in the minds of those who insist on leaving a wake of relational destruction behind them . . . a la Percy Shelley. You might be tempted to think that your impending future will have no boundaries because your parents are out of the picture. Wrong. Boundaries are inevitable. Although their boundaries will begin to recede, God has been using theirs to train you to be wise enough to see His. Some of you will remember my little analogy from class about the freeing effects of godly boundaries.

For years the lawn in front of our house was relatively scorned by our children for fear of the eight foot child-eating abyss on the side nearest the road. On the very day that Mr. O’Donnell and I deftly erected a dazzling white picket fence, I marveled at the excitement and freedom with which our children frolicked, leaping about like little lambs over the pasturage: they could feel the security of the boundaries we had established for their good, for their joy (and for our peace of mind). Boundaries are inevitable.

If, over these next several years, you try to live without God’s boundaries, you will find that sin will hem you in with its increasingly cramped boundaries, placing upon your heart’s limbs its cold, clinking shackles. Sin often looks like boundless freedom, but it produces unsure slaves; God’s boundaries might look like slavery to the unregenerate eye, but they inspire confidence within His children of freedom. Boundaries are inevitable.

2nd – “Carpe Diem! Seize the day!”

What does this even mean? Adam seized the day . . . and death seized him, bringing death to us all. Carpe Diem. Seizing what is forbidden darkens your eyes, obscures your vision, and eventually makes you dull . . . and dead. God, however, is a God of gifts, of privileges. He loves to give good and perfect gifts to His children. But there’s the rub. Gifts are not meant to be seized. They are bestowed and are to be received with thanksgiving, not seized with a Byronic lust for what many call “life.” So rather than “seize the day,” I challenge you to “receive the day,” as our Lord bestows upon you the gift of His life in Christ. “Receive the day.” “Receive your diploma.” Yes. Even this diploma, including all the hard work you did to gain it, is a gift from God.

My dear seniors, you have been an absolute joy this year. I thank God for the gift you have been to me. In closing, I want to remind you that the reason we spent the entire first semester reciting the Apostle’s Creed and praying the Lord’s Prayer was not only to set the context and tone for our studies, but also because I wanted these true, good, and beautiful things to go deep down into your soul. And should there come a time when you get tossed from Christ’s warship of the Church into the frothing wave vat of the world, I pray that of all things to come to mind, the Holy Spirit would help you say, “I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth . . . ."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend Fun

Last weekend was quite a whirlwind for TeamReno. The week prior B had started potty-training (talk about speed sanctification for Mama) and his reward was riding the carousel and train at Oak Meadow Park. He was SO excited all week. My parents were also in town last weekend as we were all congregating in Berkeley to celebrate my sister graduating from UC Berkeley (yay Lacey!), so they got to join in on the potty-training celebratory fun. Isn't it so much watching your kids have so much fun? I love it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today I am struck by the futility of our existence. That is our existence that attempts to express itself without giving honor or even credence to the One who brought us into existence. Not the vague one (or many) of our universalist, individualistic society, but the One who created the universe out of nothing in 6 days, the One who became a man, lived a perfect life, died on a cross and became alive again. The One who died because we all need one existential change of condition (borrowing a phrase from Arnold Van Gennep in his The Rites of Passage).

We go through many of these changes throughout our life – birth, walking, using a toilet (sorry, that just happens to be on the forefront of my mind at the moment, I am sure you can guess why), becoming a man or woman, graduating from college, marriage, having your first child…the list goes on. But there is one “change of condition” that underlies all others and ultimately brings fulfillment and completion to our existence – knowing Jesus Christ, the One, as Lord and Savior. Without this crucial “change of condition” from an unacknowledged, wandering sinner to a son or daughter welcomed home, any attempt at self-expression, seeking of peace and joy, establishing of meaningful relationship is fruitless, pointless and futile. No one else can offer this fullness of life. Buddha cannot, Muhammad cannot, our own souls cannot.

Where can we look to find Jesus? In the Scriptures. A much needed exhortation to myself. Anna – open the Bible – read – you will find Him there.

“Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” –John 14:6

Saturday, April 16, 2011


This post illustrates why I love PW co much...

(1) Being home taking care of her family is one of her top priorities. And she likes being home. I LOVE being home. I am such a homebody. When I am out too much, my balance is thrown way off. Of course, I need to account for this and be prayful about my attitude and such when we are out a lot. CTBR loves going to the park and the beach and seeing friends and I love to bless him in these ways, which requires a little sacrifice for my introvert self. Anyway, I digress...

(2) she is HILarious - one of the few people who makes me laugh out husband and my far-away friend Faith being 2 others

(3) she doesn't like bananas - ick, ick, mom blames this on my childhood...apparently my diet as a picky toddler consisted of P&J and bananas and I guess I overdosed.

(4) oh yeah, and she shares yummy, yummy soul-comforting recipes with the rest of us, like this one and this one and this one get the idea. Thanks PW!

Monday, March 21, 2011

what CTBR is up to...

Always busy building something, painting something, doing something...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Fun Sibling Photos

I can't resist posting cute sibling pictures. I love that B is always calling E "Vangeline Rose." Melts my heart every time.

Beniam loves when Baby Sister comes in his bed...and she loves it, too. So sweet!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our sweet and sour

Been a little absent from blog world...we have had a new niece (sweet Zoey Faith) and a new nephew (Elias Matthew - what a hunk!) born in the last 2 weeks so things have a bit busy.

We call this girl our sweet and sour girl, because she is SO sweet (obviously, just look at these pictures) but sometimes quite sour (has THE loudest, shrillest shriek anyone has ever heard - our doula even said so) - but we love her so much!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TeamReno Snow Adventure

Our dear neighbors and friends recently invited us to their family's cabin near Tahoe. So, a couple of weeks ago we trekked up to the snow with them and our other good friends the Dauphins. It was quite an adventure. Good news - lots of snow (and a car with all wheel drive) and good friends. Bad news - no power and below freezing temperatures. Perfect backdrop for a just-how-flexible-and-patient-do-you-think-you-are test. I passed and failed at different times, mostly depending on the temperature. Praise the Lord that God's mercies are new every morning (and hour and minute) because I certainly needed them. Despite the fact that our trip didn't go quite as we planned, I am so thankful to have spent it with sweet friends.

My friend Nikki tells her version of the story here. She also has more pictures of the kiddies. My camera battery died, but I managed to get a few fun pics. We did stick it out for a couple of nights but then raised our white flag and headed down to the hill to warm cinnamon rolls, coffee and home.

Cute boys in warm jammies (ignore the kid in the red undies)

Our hardworking husbands shoveling the stairs.

Beniam and Joshie Dauphin

My crazy husband

More cute children in the snow

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stickers and Bubbles

(of course, a bike helmet is most necessary for making bubbles...)