Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas 2011 Letter...

Dear Family and Friends,

It is so very difficult to try and sum up a year of life into one letter, so I will take a different approach this year. :) I do need to introduce the newest member of the Hester Family. Judah Sean Hester was born at home with the help of a midwife on March 18th, 2011. He was 9 lbs.!!! His name means “praise God who is gracious”. He is a joy and treasure to all of us, and gets LOTS of love around here!!

This year has gone very quickly for us... but I think it would be safe to say of all of us in our not-so-little family that we love Jesus and His Word, we love people, we love good food, and we love to read. :)

So, I have asked everyone in our family to share their favorite books-either that they read themselves, or that we read as a family.

Ben-Jesus+Nothing=Everything by Tullian Tchividjian, Entrusted With the Gospel Edited by D.A. Carson, and Ministry in the Image of God by Stephen Seamands

Lisa-Jesus+Nothing=Everything, Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Humility by CJ Mahaney, and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Emma-Corrie Ten Boom by Janet and Geoff Benge, A Question of Yams, Wisdom With the Millers and Missionary Stories With the Millers, and George Mueller by Janet and Geoff Benge

Caleb-Mossflower by Brian Jacques, The Bronze Bow, and Out of Darkness

Noah-The LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and Out of Darkness

Ezra-The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Bronze Bow

We had the amazing opportunity to do a family road trip to Colorado!! It was a memorable trip in so many ways...and I had the incredible privilege of attending a Leadership Intensive with Sally Clarkson. Ben took the kids to the Focus on the Family Center as well as Garden of the Gods.

Both Emma and Caleb chose to be baptized this year! It was such a joyous time to celebrate God’s work of making them new. Noah is reading well, and enjoying it! Ezra is always into something, usually including mischief, but has at least heard me and can repeat back to me, “I am a treasure.”

It has been a fun year, and we are enjoying lots of extra fruits and vegetables as we move toward a plant-based, whole foods diet. We were pretty close before, but we are cutting more dairy from our diet and enjoying the creativity that comes with the process. =)

We wish you all a Merry Christmas, as you meditate upon Christ and His amazing love. The gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything-this has been the theme of our year, and we pray it is the theme of every year to come as well.

With love and joy,

The Hester Family

Ben and Lisa, Emma, Caleb, Noah, Ezra, and Judah

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On being an elf....

Man, for some reason this year, Christmas shopping was so difficult!! My poor husband, found most of his ideas met with responses like, "They aren't being responsible with what they have now! I'm not buying them more!!" Or, "They have some of those (Legos!)....They don't need more!!" Or, "That is just way too expensive!!!"
And, he bore with me patiently... We found a few small things to wrap and put under the tree. And then, this morning, four days before Christmas, I found my weakness. I realized I was just shopping at all the wrong places. not only had all the items I was apparently looking for (and more), but will upgrade you to 2nd day air shipping for free. =) {Now they can all open a BOOK too!!} Haha!

But this morning I was reminded that every time I have been pregnant, the enemy tells me the same lie: "You're not doing a good job with what you have, and now you're having another one?"

It reminded me that although my children need to learn to treat their things well and be responsible.... It doesn't mean that I withhold things from them until they are doing things perfectly. Because four (really, five!) times, I have been unsure of whether or not I am REALLY doing a good job, and God has chosen to bless me anyway with these amazing, wonderful treasures.

So, this morning I am rejoicing in the fact that I am just a helper. God knows what they need. And oh! He loves them. And He has reflected His own giving heart in my husband who rejoices in blessing them and seeing their faces light up. This morning, finding some really amazing, exciting, God-honoring literature was what it took for me to see it: the picture of their excited faces, me coming out in the morning for coffee to find them sprawled across various pieces of furniture reading.... and smiling because I know they are reading amazing books. :)

It's fun being an elf.

(PS- I have called myself an "elf" in this post just for fun-I do not in any way compare God to santa, santa does not "come to our house" at Christmas time, etc. But I thought it was fun for this post. You get it, right?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The last chapter...

"He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze..."
But Jesus said that the Victory was God's promise. He called men to make ready their hearts and minds instead.
Was it possible that only love could bend the bow of bronze?

Monday, November 28, 2011


"Mom! There's just no such thing as magic!!" giggled Noah, as he smiled at me.
I leaned across the table and whispered to him, "I think it's magical when you are standing outside and it starts snowing on you for the first time in your life."
"That's not magic! Jesus did it!!" Noah replies.
"Oh, but don't you see? Jesus is the only one who can do the most magical things!!"
Hmmm.... like, tasting something for the first time that it so amazing. Like Candy Cane Lane tea with a little bit of cream and sugar.
We've obviously done some teaching on magic with the kids.... and it is hard because there are some kind of dark, yucky things when you dive into the world of magic. But, especially during this beautiful, amazing, MAGICAL, season.... I don't want them to miss the wonder, the beauty, the mystery of Emmanuel, God with us.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tea and Sympathy...

"I know what it's like."
It is hard sometimes, to watch your kids as they begin to realize just how "different" they are. I don't think the boys notice it quite as much. But, all of a sudden, they start noticing that we don't read the same books, or watch the same shows and movies , that we don't go to the same school, that we don't have the same toys, that we don't eat the same food.... the list goes on and on.
And the best I really have to offer our kids is that I know what it's like. I know what it is like to not have the same things, to not read the same books, to not eat the same food, to do things differently than others around me.... Really, I know what it is like to be lonely. Sometimes, it is really hard to feel alone in certain things. And yet, we must be faithful to what we believe the Lord is asking of us as a family. He hasn't asked us to look just like any other family. But He has asked us to be faithful as the Hester family, to what He shows us and asks of us. And so, when I am having a hard time feeling lonely and different, like my kids do sometimes, I need some tea and sympathy as well. And it has been given:

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16

It is so good, and so beneficial to my heart this morning, that it is worth repeating in the NLT:

"That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it." Hebrews 4:14-16

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beautiful to be alive....

"It's not much of a world, is it? Is it worth trying to bring Leah back into it?"
Thacia stood still in the road. "Yes!" she cried, and Daniel was astounded to see that tears had sprung into her eyes. "Oh Daniel-yes! If only I could make you see, somehow, that it is!"
"All this--" she exclaimed, the sweep of her arm including the deepening blue of the sky, the shining lake in the distance, the snow-covered mountain far to the north. "So much! You must look at it all, Daniel, not just at the unhappy things." Suddenly she reached out and touched his hand. "Look!" she whispered.
He lifted his head and followed her gaze. Overhead,barely discernible against the blue of the sky, a long gray shadow hung suspended. Cranes, hundreds of them, were passing in a great phalanx. They wheeled and caught the sun, flashing light from banks of white feathers, with a shimmering like the snow on the mountain. Motionless, the two watched till the line slowly melted into the distant air.
Thacia let out her breath. "How beautiful!" She sighed. "It is beautiful just to be alive in Galilee!"

This quote is from our current read-aloud, The Bronze Bow. I actually missed this part in the book, (Ben read a chapter while I was away one night) and Ben brought me back to it because it is so beautiful. It is so easy sometimes, to get caught up in the unhappy things, the ugliness of this world. But, oh! What joy is found in looking for and basking in the beautiful things. Every beautiful thing is a glimmer of hope.... this world is being "renewed in the image of its Creator." One day, it will all be made new, and together with creation,we will all join in the beautiful praise song we were meant to sing to our God. But in the meantime, we hear measures of this beautiful praise all around us, like:
(the food from Backyard Bowls in Santa Barbara...YUM!!!)
3!!! That's right, 3!!! Dates with my husband this month! (Totally a side note, but it is oh so necessary, and such a blessing when people recognize that parenting five tiny people can be difficult, and that our marriage is absolutely worth investing in! I was on such a high from being able to go out with my husband that I offered to babysit for three people!!! I want to stand alongside people and say, "Your marriage is important!!!)
(The Spring Rolls from Mary's Secret Garden...YUMMMY!!!!)
Five beautiful, healthy children
Reading wonderful stories as a family- (Emma reading to the boys and some friends)
Vegetables in varieties of colors, tastes, and textures
Hearty, earthy grains, crumpled on top of pears...
Friends, and laughter!!!
The sunrise every morning whispering God's love and hope for the day
The sunset whispering God's peace for the night...
The sleep that each night reminds us that we are not God!!! (He doesn't need sleep but we do!!)
The cloth diapers that saved the day since we ran out of diapers and don't get paid until next Friday. =)
Baking pies with Emma and my mom
Staying up WAY too late with the girls
tea parties with friends
Warm smells and delicious tastes, reminding me of winter
The beautiful falling rain, watering the earth, pouring down God's blessing

I could go on and on... but I am sure you get the point. Today, I am so thankful. "It is beautiful just to be alive in Ojai!!" =)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Judah,

You are absolutely adorable!! I mean, look at yourself in these jeans and the little puffer vest. An abundance of cuteness. But do you see here?
This is you and brother Ezra in my bed.
And this is you asleep in my arms.
You are so very tired. You eat tons of baby food and people food, you have two bottom teeth, and your two top ones are just about to poke through. You are into everything because you can "crawl" around, still mostly commando crawl. It is just a suggestion, but, now that you are 8 months old, I really think that adding sleep into our nightly routine could be helpful for everyone all around. Thanks!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Tough One... Top Read Alouds

My friend Kristen did this post on her top 11 read alouds here. I thought it would be fun to do this post as well.... although, this is very difficult for me. So, I'll just mention some of the books that we have loved and read, and try not to duplicate any from Kristen's list. I do want to agree heartily-I have had tears running down my face as my husband reads the voice of Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia. And we laughed so hard at Mr. Popper's Penguins. Nonetheless, here is my list:
1. God King-historical fiction set in the time of Ancient Egypt, around the time King Hezekiah ruled in Israel.
Honorable mention for this same time period goes to The Golden Goblet and Shadow Hawk.
2. Hittite Warrior-historical fiction set during the time of the Judges.
3. Adara-historical fiction surrounding Naaman's servant girl, who tells of a prophet in Israel.
4. Forbidden Gates-I love the picture this one gives of Jewish customs. A young Jewish boy goes against Jewish law to get a Gentile closer to the temple...
5. Out of Darkness- A young Jewish boy (whose mother is ill) befriends a Roman beggar boy who is blind. Together, they hear rumors of a man from Nazareth who can heal.
6. Follow My Leader-a tale of a young boy, blinded in an accident, hoping to get a dog who can help him "see."
7. YWAM biographies- Some of our favorites were George Muller, Hudson Taylor, and Corrie ten Boom.
8. The Hedge of Thorns-a beautiful tale of a young boy and his sister who learn that God lovingly places protective hedges in our lives.
9. Just David-by the same author as Pollyanna
10. The Bronze Bow- another book set in the time of Ancient Rome.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

"We have to keep reminding ourselves of the difference between moralism and the gospel. We have to keep remembering that the reason Christ came was first of all not to make bad people good but to make dead people alive. If we forget that, our Christianity will turn out to be Christless."-Tullian Tchividjian

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

"...In Ephesians 4:29 Paul commands that our verbal communication always be purposeful, and the right purpose is "that it may give grace to those who hear."
We're all in need of grace... So let us pray, "Lord, help me discern what kind of grace this person needs." For those who are legalistic or feel condemned, we want to bring justifying grace to their souls. To those struggling with a besetting sin, we want to bring sanctifying grace. To those experiencing suffering, we want to bring comforting grace. To those who are just weary, we want to refresh their souls with sustaining grace...Through each and every interaction, however casual, however brief, I want to impart grace through my words, for that's God's purpose in granting us this gift of speech. And in effect, we have God's promise in this passage that when our words are edifying and appropriate, they will give grace."-- C.J. Mahaney, Humility

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Colorado part 2....

The "million dollar highway" and the Colorado River.
Friends!!! Here are Judah and Finlee!!!
Sally Clarkson's house, for the Mom Heart Leadership Intensive.
I didn't go with them, but Ben took the kids and met up with our AMAZING friends the Benders, and they went to Garden of the Gods. I asked Ben to take pictures for me, and he took his job quite seriously. When I asked him how he got this amazing picture of Ezra, he said, "I laid down on the ground."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Col-do-rado.... (part 1)

As Ezra likes to call it. I just got around to downloading all the pictures on my camera.
The beautiful porch where we enjoyed prayer times, worship times, and where I wanted to be all the time. :)
ATV Fun!!!!
Exploring and learning....
The zip line!!!
I made boxes for the kids that they got in thecar once we got to Flagstaff. Ben made fun of me for putting pipe cleaners in the box... but they got super creative with them. Here is Caleb's "padawon braid".
Turquoise shirt day... with this many kids, you gotta keep track of them however you can!!!
Fun in Dolores, CO. Played at an amazing park, then Emma and Caleb learned to skip rocks in the river....
Daddy teaching gun safety with the BB gun.
Night Hike!!!
Maroon shirt day...
The bow and arrow!!

Time flies by....

Noah and Ezra with the cake!
Luke's Landspeeder
First bike ride on the bike path! (just in time for Palm Springs!)
The birthday celebration at Grandma and Grandpa's. Armor from the cousins!!
Sweet Noah lost his first tooth!
The cardboard box contest. Caleb made a tie fighter.
Sweet baby taking a bath in the sink. He barely fits!!!
Emma made a scarf for herself and a matching one for her Kit doll.
Monolopy Surfing Edition makes for fun family nights.
Observational drawings and watercolor painting...
Caleb is a master builder with legos. He is becoming more and more creative with his ships.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

This picture is from our recent time in Palm Springs. A lovely young woman, Bethany Fankhauser, captured this picture of Emma. I love it for so many reasons... but, the above verse from 1 Peter is painted on the wall in Emma's room. I love that in this picture, I get lost in her eyes. I can see there everything good that the Lord is growing in her-a beauty that is oozing out of her insides, and spills out onto the outside. Oh Lord, make me so much more concerned about the beauty that comes from within, both for myself and my sweet little girl.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dear Noah

Today you are five years old!!! I love to snuggle with you! You have so much personality. You love Star Wars like your older brother (even though you haven't seen the movie!). You love riding your bike, and you have been swimming everyday with your swim vest. You are usually on your own timetable. Sometimes, it seems like your head is in the clouds. :) You are one of the most affectionate little boys I know. You are so very talkative when given an audience. Today, at the thrift store, mommy found an Anakin Skywalker costume and a Stormtrooper costume. You didn't even want to go to the pool today because you were playing with the costumes and the little lego guys you got for your birthday. Even with your missing tooth, you still have that "million dollar smile." You remind me to be affectionate. You are reading quite well for a five year old, and you surprise me sometimes at the things you can read. You are doing well in math as well (Saxon 1), and you love to learn. But, your favorite thing to do right now is to play legos with your brother. It is so fun to see you growing and learning. It is hard to believe that you are five years old!! Our prayer for you, Noah, is that you would continue to enjoy life as much as you do, and that you would enjoy Jesus so much that you would cause others to want to love and enjoy Him as well.
With love,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Worship Time

Sorry for the blurry photos.

It was so sweet!!! We had a worship gathering Sunday morning with some of the families here in Palm Springs. Dave led worship for the kids, and Ben shared a little devotion with the kids. There is not much sweeter than starting the day hearing kids pray, sing, and read God's Word aloud. It was such a special time, and sweet to share it with other families who love Jesus.
From what Ben shared:
Have you ever had a secret? Something really, really wonderful and exciting, that you wouldn't know unless someone told you? Like, that your mom has made cookies, and your brother is playing in the backyard.... he won't know about those yummy cookies unless someone tells him!!! We wouldn't know about God unless He decided to tell us about Himself!!!
"The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known." Psalm 19:1-2

"From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God." Romans 1:20