Friday, December 20, 2013

A Different Kind of Advent

It is time to stand together Church!  Battles on all sides surround us, pushing us to lay down our crosses and retreat.  Our own brothers and sisters are being tortured and killed.  Some are being forced to be silent about their convictions.  We are not understood.  We are different.  We must however stand up under the weight of trouble together, bearing one another's burdens in prayer and support. 

I feel helpless to even pray for those who are risking their lives for the sake of the gospel, for their faith in Jesus Christ.  I live in the US.  In a safe neighborhood.  I attend a church that I am free to go to.  I lift my hands to God and I don't know what to say.  The bible tells me that this trouble will come.  People will not understand God's ways or why I follow Him, but that we can still find strength in Him and in His Church.

I grew up in a Lutheran church, I now attend a Presbyterian church.  I have a good friend who goes to a Baptist Church and another who is Catholic, several of my neighbors attend a non-denominational church, a stranger prayed on the phone with me who went to who knows what kind of Christian church.  So what is my point?  Together we can be in prayer.  Together we can love on our neighbors.  Together we can fight for what is right and true as long as we have saving faith in Jesus Christ that comes from Him alone, in common.

And yet all of this feels like it has nothing to do with Christmas, or does it?  You've heard people say, "are you ready for Christmas?"  I've said it many times already this season, but my answer is always "Yep!" not because my house is clean and ready for guests or because my shopping is done or all the gifts are wrapped.  None of that will ultimately matter if your heart is not ready for Christmas and the coming of Jesus himself.  He may not be coming on December 25th or the day after or the day before, no body knows when, but at Christmas time we wait with HOPE that the day WILL come and we ready ourselves as Christians in a different way for Christmas.  As a Church, the Big C, we prepare for Christmas and the coming of Christ by being united.  What greater hope and peace can we share with the World than by showing unity among such a diverse group of people?  At your dinner table on Christmas or at your Christmas Eve services look around.  We come from all walks of life and yet God has called us to be One in HIM. 

No matter what is going on in the world, your home, your church or even your heart we can WAIT with expectation that Jesus is coming.  The struggles will not end here.  Sin and his master will continue to fight and wage war, but true victory has already come on the cross. 

I am ready for Christmas, how about you?

"...But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."  Joshua 24:15

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In the Face of Temptation

Breaking Free.  A Journey to Being Truly Satisfied.
Day 4
Bible passages Matthew 4:1-11, Psalm 63:1-5

Scripture has plenty to offer us in the way of stories about temptation.  I believe that similarly things like fear and a need for love, it is an area that God knows we need a lot of direction.  In His word we can see the results of giving into temptation.  We can learn from others mistakes and as we read we are like the man sitting in his chair yelling at the quarterback on TV that there is a man open just down the field.  It’s always easier to see the opening from the outside looking in.  Escape isn’t the only defense we have though when it comes to temptation.  Jesus, after being baptized by John the Baptist was led by the Holy Spirit out into the desert for the specific purpose of being tempted by Satan.  I am baffled at this, for all the times I have struggled with temptation; Jesus is knowingly headed right into it!  But as I look at this today, with fresh perspective I don’t think He did this to show that it is wise to walk headlong into temptation, but to very clearly show us how to deal with it.  

What do I do when I am tempted?  Lately I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve not even been aware enough to see it as temptation.  I haven’t even been able to identify it as such.  I cannot say that any more.  The trouble with a study like this or a conviction like this is that you can no longer play dumb.  You and God both know you are well aware of your struggle.  Now what are you going to do about it? 

I clearly don’t hunger for the Word.  I could make you a list of the things I do hunger for or the things I miss when I don’t get them or as much of them as I would like when I want them….you get my point.  How do I get to the point of wanting to be with God above all else?  Am I so stubborn that I have to try everything else first?  When I want something sweet and I choose to sit with my Bible instead will I be satisfied?  My brain says that is exactly what His Word has been teaching me all along, but my emotions say, “but you still want the cake too right?!” 

The problem is I have never put this to the test.  What would my day look like if I actually did this?  Are we not to test God’s goodness (Malachi 3:10).  He has offered up himself to be the very thing we need, to lavish on us every good thing.  I am tired of living my life this way, without satisfaction and feeling empty despite my attempts to fill myself up.   

At every turn when Jesus was tempted he used scripture to drive Satan back.  And though Satan would get back up and try again Jesus would not give way to the temptation.  He could have just left.  He could have just called for a company of angels to rescue him and call it a day, but he stuck around and showed us how it’s done.  When in the face of temptation, rebuke it with the HOLY, NEVER CHANGING, LIFE GIVING, POWERFUL, TEMPTATION CRUSHING WORD OF GOD!
My journal companion while working through the Made to Crave 21 day challenge and the book Made to Crave.
 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Bought the Lie. HOOK. LINE. AND SINKER.


View from my office
Breaking Free. A Journey to Being Truly Satisfied.
Day 3
 
Bible passages 1Peter 2:9, 1Peter 4:1-11

The truth is I have bought into the idea that my struggle with food isn’t that bad.  It doesn’t cause that big a division between me and God.  Food hasn’t created other problems in my life.  I have 4 small children, all boys.  Finances are tight and the days are busy.  Food is not my biggest issue.  It’s all a lie!  The truth is God has provided himself, in His son Jesus Christ, as a provider of all things needed in this life.  The truth is I need provision, support, peace, unconditional love and the list goes on.  Food will not satisfy even one of these needs, but I have believed the lie.  And one more thing, I was created for a greater purpose than to simply survive this life.  I was designed to hold fast to the truth of God’s word so that in this world I can live a life that brings honor and glory to my Lord.  He has given me everything I need to accomplish this, but I often choose much less useful and sometimes downright sinful means to just get through the day.

We all hold fast to things we believe to be true, but only God’s word can reveal what TRUTH is.  And unless we spend time in it we will never know that truth or the greater things we were created to do.
My journal companion to working through the Made to Crave 21 day challenge and the book Made to Crave.
 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fill Me Up


Breaking Free.  A Journey to Being Truly Satisfied
 Day 2

Bible passages Matthew 19: 16-22, Ephesians 1:17-23

“God made us capable of craving so that we’d have an unquenchable desire for more of Him, and Him alone. Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only One capable of satisfying them.” (Made to Crave 21 Day Challenge, Day 2)

I echo Paul’s prayer in Ephesians.  The 23rd verse leaps out at me, desperately telling me there is a better way, “which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
I have turned to food to satisfy me.  I have used food to avoid the things I worry about.  I have used sex to make myself feel beautiful.  Again and again I have created idols out of the things you intended to be gifts.  I have distorted them, but because I walked with you, went to church, read my bible, and spent time in prayer, I fooled myself and my eyes did not truly see that living my life this way was sinful.  Many times I have read the story of the rich young ruler from Matthew and thought that it did not really apply to me.  I am neither rich nor struggle with holding onto my possessions.   I never before understood that as you looked into the heart of that man and saw what held him back from a life fully devoted to you, you also were speaking to me, looking into my heart and seeing what was holding me back. 
I see now.  I’m not really sure where to go from here.  This has been the pattern of my life for 32 years.  As Paul prayed for the Ephesians that your mighty strength would work in them, the same strength that raised Jesus from the dead; demolish the idols I have held in my life.  Rather than craving food let me seek you.  Rather than covering my doubts let me give them to you.  And let my beauty be defined by you alone. Amen.


My journal companion to working through the Made to Crave 21 day challenge and the book Made to Crave.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Confession Time


http://madetocrave.org/21-day-challenge/
 
My journal companion to working through the Made to Crave 21 day challenge and the book Made to Crave.
Breaking Free. A Journey to being truely satisfied. Day 1
Bible passage Psalm 139

God as I read the Psalm as my prayer to you I feel convicted rather than comforted by the awareness that you know my thoughts and every action.  Unlike family and friends I cannot hide my sins from you.  I cannot hide my secret desires and passions.  My shamefulness is ever before you and yet you stay.

 {Pause} 

How can you see all that I am and not want to leave me? Not only do you stay, but you protect and guide me still.  You make plans for me.  You knew all of this beforehand and still you formed me, brought me life and gave me purpose.  This truth is beyond my reason.  From the perspective of the world it doesn't add up, but again and again in scripture that is exactly what you promise! 

And here I am humbled by such love, but giving my affection to something else.  I turn to something you created rather than the Creator for my needs.  You made me to desire you.  You created me with an emptiness meant to be filled with You and I fill it with food.  I want more than awareness; I want to be changed by you and set free to live out all that you purposed me to be.  No matter how much this hurts right now and for the struggles that will come I choose today to honor you.  Help me God to turn my eyes and desires to you.   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Breaking Free: A Journey to Being Truely Satisfied

My ladies group at church decided to study a book on modern day idols.  I was not too terribly excited about the idea, but I am always blessed by the studies we do.  Time in the Word, time in fellowship and time in prayer are always good things.  What I did not expect was it to jump start a whole new life.  I say this because......

It is more than a diet.

It is more than a phase.

It more than grasping at straws to be thinner and happier.

I am tired of being trapped and held captive by food.  I hate how I feel.  I cannot believe how stressed I am some days.  I carry the "weight" of who I used to be and the childhood that I lived.  I seek comfort in food.  I celebrate with food.  I pass the time and fill the empty spaces with food.  You may be saying to yourself, "I don't have a problem with food."  But I can guess that if you ask God to reveal to you what it is that you put before HIM, he will show you.  You can insert that "thing" into my confessions above.  What God wants to reveal most to you is the very thing that gets in the way of a deeper relationship with him.

It all started with an admission.  In class that first night after watching a DVD on modern idols, I had a sudden awareness that mine is food.  What exactly is an idol anyway?  We don't use that kind of language anymore really, after all for the most part we are a Christian nation.  We live under the New Covenant.  Why would we have idols?  I am a God fearing, Jesus loving, on my knees in prayer, worship singing, rooted in faith kind of girl.  I have no statues in my home or hanging from my rear view mirror.

Kelly Minter in her bible study book No Other Gods, uses a quote from Ken Sande to clarify more, "most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone or metal worshiped my pagan people...In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our hearts on, that motivates us, that masters and rules us, or that we trust, fear or serve."  Please see Luke 12:29, 1Cor. 4:5, Eph. 5:5, Psalm 119:133, Isa. 42:17.
 
After class I got a call from one of my friends telling me that she too had the same struggle and asked if maybe we could become like accountability partners in this battle to conquer our idols.  And that is where it started.  One confession.  One suggestion.

She thought that using the same devotion might be helpful to go along with our food journals so she found a book by Lysa TerKeurst called Made to Crave.  I had never heard of it, but was ready to try just about anything.  Online for free you can do a 21 day challenge, a set of devotions from the book, sent to us each day via email.  It was a wonderful thing and each day I wrote in my journal.  These writings will be the posts that follow.

Thank you for joining me in this.  I pray that you are blessed by what I am learning and encouraged to confront your own modern day idols.  Please leave comments.  We can partner together.  It would be my pleasure to pray for you.
 
 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy 9th Birthday Toby!

"My soul, praise Yahweh, and all that is within me,
 praise His holy name. 
 My soul, praise the LORD and do not forget all His benefits." 
Psalm 103:1-2
 
#95 Lightening McQueen made by my wonderful freind Susan and her daughter Rachel

The driving of the cake

Snickers making a new freind with Tim, our not as serious as he looks in this picture friend

Toby celebrates his first birthday in his forever family

Toby turns 9

mmmm!  Oreo cookie wheels

celebrating with family and friends

Mom, Toby, and Dad

Pictures of our time in Taiwan earlier this year

Seth, Toby and our friend Adam


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving My Heart

Since this summer our church has been asking members to share on various aspects of church life. I was honored to be able to share on giving. I hope and pray this spurs you on to think of how giving looks in your life.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Something is Brewing

Please excuse the long absence.  I have a series I am working on.  At the moment it is simply my journal as I work through a struggle with food.  I can't wait to share it with you.  I am only 6 days into a 21 day study that already has been a whirlwind experience.  In the meantime, please pray that God use this study and time to reveal himself to me and that He break the stronghold of food in my life and in the life of my friend and partner in crime for this adventure.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Desperate Need

Levi layed in bed tonight wrestling with the notion that he is only 4.  And with this age comes only 4 year old strength and 4 year old abilities.  Being the middle child he is not very comfortable with this idea.  Inside this skinny little kid roars the heart and passion of a kid twice his size.  Though he looks up to his dad, he is having a hard time coming to terms with not being as strong as him.  Maybe it's because I'm the only girl living in a house full of boys that I cannot fully appreciate his dilemma.  Like only God can do,our devotion tonight was about an Old Testament king that had a dilemma of not measuring up.

The story takes place during the reign of King Jehospaphat at a time when the Kingdom of Israel was a popular target for neighboring nations.  A large army was ready to wage war on them.  Jehospaphat had just a few options:

A) Ready his army for what was sure to be a blood bath
B) Cower and take cover
C) Seek God and His strength

The first 2 completely take God out of the picture.  The last one only requires an admittance of great need.  That may not always be the easier option as we pride ourselves on a can do attitude and unbridled enthusiasm for charging ahead.  But thankfully the king was able to see his desperate need.

"O our God, will you not judge them? 
For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. 
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 
2 Chron. 20:12
 
I may not be 4 or the king of a country, but I CAN see that sometimes the biggest challenge is not the fight, but seeing that I need God to fight it for me. 
 
 
I am not good enough to save myself, but God is.
 
I am not strong enough to fight alone, but God is.
 



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where Has All the Joy Gone?

My smile is my trademark.  I use it as my witness.  It shines the light and joy I carry inside me, but lately it has grown dim.  Where has all the joy gone? 






The joy got lost in the battle to fight for a child who resists and struggles.

The joy got filed away with a pile of bills.

The joy vanished along with the free time I no longer have.

The joy got swallowed up by my anger.

The joy got lost in my trials.

 
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
James 1:2
 
I stare at this chapter of James on my bathroom mirror and my kitchen cabinet and tucked in my devotional.  I will myself to believe it, to take hold of it's strength and yet my focus is more on the trial than the considering it pure joy part.
 
James choice of words here is interesting to me.  He doesn't say to deal with your trials or be content in them or to find a way out of them, but think of them as a joy, pure joy!  WHAT ON EARTH WAS HE THINKING!  WHAT WAS GOD THINKING WHEN HE INSPIRED JAMES TO WRITE THAT?
 
"Because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 
James 1:3-4
 
I believe that like my faith, my joy is a work of the Holy Spirit.  When I focus on the trials I fail to find joy, but when my focus is on Christ I tend to see more of him than the pain around me.  The struggle remains, but my joy is not lost. 
 
There is joy in pain when Christ is the Healer.
 
There is joy in struggle when Christ fights for you.
 
There is joy in debt when Christ paid the ultimate debt.
 
There is joy in the unknown when your future is secure.


 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Emotional Pain

Even after 8 months of being home sometimes the pain of being away from the only home Toby knew is almost too much for him to bear.  Despite the pain and ridicule he suffered for being different, for being deaf compared to the safety of a family and the love of parents, he misses the orphanage.  I thought that this realization would crush me as a mother, but I believe God is opening my heart to a different kind of love.

He has yet to open up to me.  He won't talk to me about what hurts, what he misses, why he screams.  I so badly want to know how to help, but all I can do for now is love him with a different kind of love than the world offers.

I want to tell him that God gave him a family and we have, but I sometimes think he sees that as a bad thing.  His family sets boundaries, his family looks different than him, his family speaks a different language than him.  Though we try, sometimes we just don't understand each other.

The joy of rescuing a child from orphanage life will only carry you so far.  The fuzzy feelings wear off, the excitement of a new child diminishes and life continues.  The trick is finding joy in it all.

A friend of mine challenged me to memorize the first chapter of the book of James with her.  So far I'm 4 verses in.  James gets right to the point though in verse 2, "Consider it PURE joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."

The trials are coming and will continue till the day Jesus returns to take us to  an even better home than a family can give an orphan, a heavenly home full of everlasting joy!

Please consider joining me and my friend in memorizing this first chapter of James.  I'll check in from time to time and let you know how it's going.

Monday, July 8, 2013

6 Months Post Placement

Dear Cathwel,

I can hardly believe that it has been 6 months since we came home with Toby from Taiwan.  We have had our fair share of ups and downs, but I am happy to share that especially over the last few weeks we have had a lot more ups and positive moments.  Toby is beginning to really bond with us and understand the meaning of family.  He knows more and more that we are mom and dad and that other people we are close to may be friends, but that they are not family.  I am glad to see that he is beginning to see the difference. 

His language skills are growing both in sign and English.  We are using both forms of communication at home and in the community. The sign class we took as a family was helpful in teaching us at least a few hundred words, the most basic ones, but we have many more to learn. I am registered  to take classes at the local college to learn more sign.  I believe it will help both at home and to teach others how to best communicate with Toby. As for his speech, he was able to get speech therapy at our local school and we are working at home on a system called Visual Phonics that helps him to know how to shape his mouth to make the correct sound. 

 Most recently all the boys attended a Vacation Bible School at a local church where we participate in a deaf ministry.  Toby was able to be a part of a special group with a sign language interpreter, giving him and the 2 other boys one on one help throughout the week.  He was ok with me dropping him off there for the 3 hrs, with much reassuring that I would return and that indeed we would eat lunch when we got home.  His major concerns were where I would be and when was the next meal. 

Food continues to be a major priority to Toby as he progresses throughout the day.  For instance at breakfast we talk about what I might fix at the other 2 meals later in the day.  Reassuring him that more food is coming seems to be very comforting.  We have found there is no food he will not eat, he likes it all.  He will often say “mmmmmm, that one good Mommy!” and gives me a thumbs up and a silly grin.

It is a wild and crazy boy frenzy around here.  The house is filled with the sound of cars vrooming, trucks crashing, guns firing and bad guys fleeing the authorities.  Playing with cars and pretending good guys and bad guys remains a favorite pastime.   When he first came home we would often find him playing by himself, but more and more I see him with at least one of his brothers, usually on the floor and usually being quite creative.  Even his Sunday school teachers have noticed just how creative he can be.

As for his future plans, he has decided that he wants to work with helicopters, JUST LIKE DADDY!  It was a proud moment for both of us, a moment that told us he is really integrating into the family. 

Last week Toby had evaluations done with our local school so that they can put together a current IEP (Individual Evaluation Plan) for him for the 2013-2014 school year.  By the end of this month the school board should have a plan to propose to us for him.  It will be up to us to advocate for him and to decide ultimately what is best for him.  We are thankful for this partnership with the school and the help they may be able to give.

One more blessing has come this summer and that is a bigger house!  In two weeks we will be moving across town to a larger home.  Our current place will be rented by Chris’s parents.  They are looking forward to having a more active role in the children’s lives that being far away before did not allow.   We are thankful for the support, help and joy of sharing time with them too!  Needless to say all of the boys are excited about having grandparents in town.

The love and support we have been shown both from our church and family has been overwhelming.  Toby has been accepted and loved as if we had just had another baby.  Without this support and the prayers of many this could have been a very difficult transition, but we have been able to share our growing pains and our joys alike. 

I hope this letter has been helpful in sharing a glimpse of our life right now and a window into the making of a newly blending family.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Prepared Table

This morning I sat on the kitchen floor in the door way between the boys room and the kitchen; between the big dog and the little dog; between the old and the new and I was reminded of a bible verse.

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies"  Psalm 23:5a
 
Our little dog Charlie is afraid to eat her food or more so that she is afraid Bourbon will eat her food and so for the last week I have sat on the floor gently encouraging her that it is safe to eat.  Today Bourbon wanted to try a bite too, as if his multiple cup feedings a day is not enough.  I sent him into the other room to lay down and with me seated between the two Charlie proceeded to eat her breakfast.
 
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
 You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live."  Psalm 23:5-6 HCSB
 
Many times we can be in a situation like Charlie and feel like the enemy is staring us down.  We stand on the other side of fear, danger, sin, temptation even death.   But we should not stand there alone cowering like a little puppy scarfing down our meal in haste for we have a great promise from God.  Look at that verse again that David wrote.   A table was prepared, a meal was enjoyed and the oil of rejoicing was brought out to even welcome guests, he overflowed with blessing.
 
The LORD sat in the doorway between life and death, fear and peace, temptation and resistance.  He sits today in that gap for you as well.  He welcomes you to the table he has prepared with the very pain of his own flesh, his sacrifice on the cross.  Would you please come?  Enjoy the feast he has prepared.  Rest in the peace he has given and take joy in his presence!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Joy of the Lord! A Picture Update

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him. 
Psalm 28:7
Levi, Ty, Toby, Mommy and Seth May 2013
 
 
No matter what the day or the week has been like to see these faces and how they grow steadily before my eyes, I rejoice in God who has sustained us.  Though I continue to struggle to love, to be patient, to show mercy, the LORD is still my strength. 
 
Mother's Day 2013
 
1st Family Photo

Toby after a birthday party with a photo booth

1st trip to Sweet Frog

Resting after a walk on the River Walk

My pale baby

Ty and Bourbon
 
Levi doing a "Hey Mom watch this!"

Our newest additon.  Bourbon.  A lab/mastiff mix.

Memorial Day 2013

Playing with fire errrrrr....sparklers!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Perfect Love: A Work in Progress

Parenting is no easy job.  Parenting Special Needs kids is no easy task either.  Parenting an adopted child takes work.  Parenting requires love, often the kind of love that without God we are not capable of showing. 
This is love:  not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1John 4:10


My kids behaving just so and me appearing as the awesome mom of well disciplined children is about my glory and my pride. This scenario has a very high possibility of unachievable expectations. It leads to frustrated children and infuriated parents. But what does perfect love look like? Perfect love anticipates mistakes that can be followed with appropriate correction. Perfect love doesn't compare children and it allows each child to work within their ability. Perfect love teaches discipline and self control that are lasting opposed to the emotional outrage and tirade that may only produce momentary obedience and mediocre remorse. Perfect love is about God's glory, not our own.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Four Letter Word

http://perfectprovidence.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jesus-holding-man.jpg
You can call it whatever you like, stress, worry, anxiety, a rough patch, but I'm gonna call it what it is.....at least for me........FEAR!  It is ugly and it has held a great power over me the last few weeks.  It haunts me when I'm trying to fall asleep.  It greets me bright and early each morning.  It shares afternoon coffee with me and sometimes even sneaks in when fun has shows it's lovely face.

I watched as Chris struggled to get back into the groove of doing college, and not knowing how else to encourage him I tacked up a sticky note to his computer with this verse...

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. 
 I will strengthen you; I will help you;
 I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand."  
Isaiah 41:10
 
In that moment I certainly did not imagine I would be the one to need to draw the most strength from it.  I read it each time I sat at my computer.  I read it over and over and yet it's words and power did not put out the fires of fear raging inside of me.  The older I get the more I really learn about myself, the good and the bad, my strengths and my weaknesses.  And yet despite this knowledge I continue to fall prey to the same lies again and again.  Satan, our enemy, indeed loves to watch me squirm and fret, loving each moment I feast on his lies.  "You are not enough.  You are not good enough.  You don't measure up.  Look at you!  It won't work!  You are not enough."  It started out subtle.  Then it became a nagging ache and before I knew it I was experiencing daily headaches, heartburn and hives to top it off!
 
 
And yet that sticky note said "Do not fear....." why, "because I am with you."  When I was finally ready to admit how awful I had been feeling to my husband and how not enough I felt he lovingly and kindly told me, in a way only a Marine can do, "Your not enough."  No I did not make him sleep on the couch that night.  It was a stark wake up call!  He was absolutely right.  He continued to tell me he thought that was the point.  We can't do much of anything on our own.  Without God's help we will fall on our face, we don't quite measure up and that is OK!
 
"My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  2Cor. 12:9
 
I wish I could be so bold as Paul, to say that I am "boasting all the more gladly about my weakness," but I am at the point where I can acknowledge my need for help and be ok with it.  Maybe the next time that four letter word tries to work its way in I will be a little wiser to it and be ready to say "for when I am weak, then I am strong" because I know that the Lord's right hand is holding onto me and surely his grip is better than mine.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lifting Them Up

Jack

At just the right time, when our hearts are open to His plan, God lays a special burden on our hearts for His precious ones.  One such family has heard that call and boldly stepped up and said, "Send me!"  You can read about them here on their family blog.  I do not know them personally, but when we came home with Toby I knew that our mission of caring for orphans was not complete.  I poured over the pages on Reece's Rainbow for a child to advocate for and in doing so felt my heart break for an older boy named Jensen.  For weeks I prayed for him and checking his page for updates when one day he had been moved to My Family Found Me!  What a glorious day!  I immediately went to the families blog and saw that they are also adopting another boy who has very serious medical needs. 
Jensen
Their need is great.
The time is now.
We are called to help those in need.
The blessings we receive are to be used for God's glory.
For it is truly a blessing to BE a blessing.
No gift is too small.
No act of kindness too insignificant.
We are God's hands and feet of love and mercy.
If the Body of Christ will not help, who will?

Just as this family has boldly stood and said, "Send me!"  Let us also stand with them as Aaron did for Moses (Exodus 17:12), lifting this family up with prayers and offerings of love.  This link will take you to the family's FSP.  Thank you for your support. 

"When Moses' hands grew heavy they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it.  Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down."  Ex 17:12  As long as Moses' hands were held high in prayer, the Isrealites were victorious, but he could not do it alone.  We too grow tired and weary in the things God calls us to and we too need a helping hand.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Open Doors


And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
 who have been called according to his purpose. 
 Romans 8:28

After much rejoicing came a moment of realization.  I sat in the chair of our church intently listening to the pastor preach about following where God is leading and not dismissing it as your call or not the right time when it hit me!  Suddenly the previous days oh hum feeling and this mornings out of sorts nature stemmed from one very real emotion:  I was terrified of where God was leading!

Days before I was practically doing cart wheels down the hallway over finally having some direction.  I pride myself in handling the truth and reality opposed to the ugliness of the unknown, but as Scripture says, your pride will go before the fall.  As I sat with tears streaming down my cheeks I felt as if I were flat of my face beseeching God for the strength to follow him.  You see this new adventure God had planned was not all that new.  We have trudged this long hard path before.  This was plan B for us, but God bumped it right up to plan A!

While Chris waited to hear back from potential employers he toyed around with the idea of going back to school.  IF and that was a very big IF, no other job came, then maybe he should continue going to school, a decision many others have been left with in this kind of economy.  His company would pay for school, but it would be a huge time commitment and without a raise, he would have the continued stress of a pretty tight budget at home.

One college seemed to stand out both for it's academics, but also for it's strong commitment to Christ, Crown College.   It has been our policy for a long time that we knock on doors and we let God open or close them and so Chris applied to their MBA program.  At what seemed like lightening speed and days before they had projected Crown accepted his application and automatically enrolled him in the first 2 classes!  I thought this last part was kind of funny since I had asked Chris to see if he could delay starting if he got accepted, God must have gotten a good laugh!

Did I mention I am not good with not knowing?  I finally felt relieved, we could start the next adventure!  Then the phone rang.  And the flood gates of heaven opened.  Chris got a call for an interview for a job he thought he had been passed over for.  School and an interview!  It was almost too much excitement.  That night I kept the kids as quite as possible while Chris sat in the back room on the phone with a man several states away. 

The next day Chris calls our bank to see if they will reconsider a home loan for our family.  As you can imagine things are getting a little cozy in our rambler with 4 growing boys.  I tried not to get my hopes up because we have been told banks may not consider our rental income since we are unable to sell and yada, yada, yada.  I have been working on being content where I am.  Then another phone call.  Chris calls to say we got pre-approved!  Sometimes God's goodness is overwhelming.

Did I also mention that friends of ours are moving this summer and that they have blessed us with an awesome deal on their house?  It is more than we could have hoped for and such a wonderful gift!  The timing is all God.  A new job for them, a move for us, retirement for Chris's mom and BAM renters and grandparents in town for us!  Only God can line things up like that.

Things really just seemed to be coming together and with or without a new job we were moving this summer.  Then the phone rang.  The call Chris had anxiously been waiting for, the one saying "you are the man for the job" finally came!

I am so glad I surrendered my fear to God that Sunday morning because walking in obedience even on a hard and difficult road is far easier than tuning your heart from God's leading.  Trying to work through all my emotions of the morning I told Chris it would just be so much easier for him not to go to school and not to move, but clearly God has other plans and all it took was for us to walk through one open door to see it.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Clear Path

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
 
Don't hold anything back, no reservations.
 
And lean not on your own understandings.
 
You can try and figure it out, but human or earthly logic won't work here.
 
In all your ways acknowledge Him.
 
Give God praise, even if you don't feel like it, remember His goodness and mercy.  Seek Him.
 
And He will make your paths straight.
 
Be paitent and in His time God will make it clear.  His light will guide you, His word will give you courage to follow him where He leads!
(Bold txt Proverbs 3:5-6)
http://coachinglearners.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Clear-path-5.jpg

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fire From Heaven

image from http://michael2011.blogspot.com/
Today in school we read the story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal from 1Kings 18:17-40.  Please let me share with you the story in my own words, it is one of my favorites.

It had not rained for 3 years in the land of Israel because the King and the people had forgotten about God and had disobeyed his teachings.  The King was desperate for the prophet Elijah to fix this problem and for him to pray to God to let the rain come on his scorched land.  Elijah told the King to bring the false teachers and the people and to meet him on the mountain.  There they would see with their own eyes who was the true God. 

Quietly the people listened to Elijah tell them that it was time for them to choose.  It was time to stop going back and forth between God and the idol Baal, but first they must watch. 450 false teachers came and together they erected an alter to their god Baal and on that alter they placed the sacrifice.  For hours they wailed and cried and begged their god to hear them and prove himself to be true,  to consume the sacrifice with fire.  But no fire came.  Elijah told them to try harder, maybe Baal was sleeping.  They cut themselves, cried harder, but still nothing happened.

Finally it was Elijah's turn.  He built an alter with 12 large stones in the center of a large trench and on the alter he placed the wood and sacrifice.  To the people's surprise he had water poured on everything!  So much water that everything was dripping and the trench was full to the brim.  And then he began to pray, "Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God....Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back."  Suddenly fire poured down out of heaven and consumed the entire sacrifice to include each stone,  drying up every bit of water along with it!  The people fell on their faces and worshiped God declaring "Yahweh, He is God!  Yahweh, He is God!"

We are more like the children of Israel than we care to admit sometimes.  We go back and forth between trusting God and going our own way.  Maybe we don't worship an idol made of gold or bronze, but anything we place above the Lord God is an idol.  Today put aside those things, bring them to the foot of the cross, kneel at the alter of the Lord and watch as God pours down fire from Heaven.  He wants to reveal himself to you, the only true God worthy of such praise and honor.

Friday, February 22, 2013

No Coincidence

Pure joy!
Do you ever get tired of waiting?  Can you recall a time you said, "I can't wait to sit on my thumbs and wait some more"?  I thought that our year leading up to bringing Toby home was our time of waiting.  Perhaps it was, or maybe it was more of a time of preparation and even abundance.  God provided all the funds needed for the adoption and even enough to have a bit of cushion.  I miss the cushion and looking back it probably didn't feel like it then either.  It is only on this side of things that I can see the plenty.

With fundraising over and surplus from college behind us the reality of raising four kids on one income has hit us.  Paying for numerous doctor bills for Toby and attempting to climb out of debt seems to be like trudging up a sand dune with bricks fastened to our feet.  Chris with degree in hand anxiously waits on God's direction.  His resume is out there in what seems like a dark void waiting to be found.

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."  Psalm 94:19
 
It's about more than money.  Dare I say it is more than just Chris's desire to be in the field he studied so hard to be in.  We both desire to seek God's will.  Not only is it important to enjoy the work you do, but to know God is using you for His purposes in your vocation.
 
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."  Colossians 3:23
 
For me following God's plan is not the hard part, it is not knowing what the plan is.  He has not made it clear, but for weeks now the devotion book we are using again and again has provided encouragement and hope.  It is as if God himself wrote out this book mapping out each days scripture and commentary just for us.  Dear brothers and sisters in Christ consider nothing a coincidence, but rather consider each encounter, each moment a carefully thought out plan. 
 
"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." 
 Psalm 139:16b
 
He makes no mistakes.  He is never late and He will NEVER let you down.
 
"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things."  Ecclesiastes 11:5
 
Are you also waiting?  Can we stand together?  Scripture tells us not only to diligently study God's Word, but to pray and lift each other up in this way.  While we are waiting let's be busy in prayer.  I would love to stand in the gap for you.  You can leave comments or email me.  Together let's storm the gates of heaven!





Thursday, February 7, 2013

And He Will Be Called...



There are several accounts in scripture when God chose to change someones name.  They were life changing events that brought radical change with impact on the Kingdom of God.  I would consider adoption fitting that criteria.  As parents we are given the privilege of naming our children.  As adoptive parents we are given the difficult choice of keeping, changing or modifying our new child's given name. 

We took the radical approach.  Our son has a given Taiwanese name that he came with that will remain  a nickname, but legally we will be giving him a new Christian name.  He is called Toby.......it comes from the name Tobias which means God is good!  We could not agree more with that. 

God blessed us with safe travels.  He provided meals through our church after our homecoming. He provided family to care for our other boys while we were away.  He gave Chris a job that allowed him the time off.  He gives me patience each day to handle the new challenges and sometimes less than appealing behaviors.  God provides resources in our area to learn sign language and forgives my pride in being tentative to ask for such help.  He promises that whatever tomorrow holds, decisions that need to be made or doctors to visit that if we are yoked to Him, He will make a way.  And for the days that all of that goodness does not "feel" like enough, there is grace and forgiveness.

As Toby begins to learn songs like "Jesus Loves Me," go to worship and listen to devotions all in a language that is new to him I pray that the Holy Spirit work in him understanding and faith.  I hope that Toby will one day give praise and say indeed God is good!
Waiting for lunch to cook.

Clinging tight to his suitcase and ready to go.

Giving hugs to his social workers at Jonah House on Gotcha Day.

Enjoying a rainy day with Daddy.

Fun at the National Musem of Taiwan.



Ruth and Chris at the Chaing Kai-shek Memorial.

Taipei 101

91st floor observation deck of Taipei 101.

Hanging out at Peace Park.

All smiles on this gorgous day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More to Come






We thank and praise God for such an awesome trip.  I wish I had more time right now to tell you more about it, but homeschool and sick kiddos await me.  We are adjusting well.  Unfortunately all have the kids have been sick since we got home, but praying that comes to an end soon.  I have so many more photos to share, I promise they are coming soon.
 
May God continue to strengthen you in the things that lay ahead for you, stay steadfast in the journey he is taking you on.  He promises to always finish what he has started.  What he has called you to do, he will make happen.  Surrender it all to him and see what happens.