Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Song for the Ride

Yesterday, as we were making our beautiful drive to Hood River, we also listened to a new CD, "Come Weary Saints". It was one of the purchases from the Sovereign Grace Ministries sale that ends today ( so, if you still want something, better head over there! :))

One of the songs, in particular, was especially sweet to my soul and the prayer I want to sing each day of my life. I think you might feel the same way to after reading the words to "As long as You are glorified":

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine
Yet grumble in days of rain
Shall I love You in times of plenty
Then leave You in days of drought
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest
But when winter winds blow, then doubt

Oh let Your will be done in me
In Your love I will abide
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified

Are You good only when I prosper
And true only when I’m filled
Are You King only when I’m carefree
And God only when I’m well
You are good when I’m poor and needy
You are true when I’m parched and dry
You still reign in the deepest valley
You’re still God in the darkest night

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Trip to Hood River

The kids and I left this morning for Hood River (you gotta love the homeschooling flexibility if nothing else :) ). We wanted to take Bryan with us, but he was headed up to another churches Jr. High snow camp where he was asked to be their speaker for the weekend. While we miss not having him with us, we were all excited to visit Papa and Grandma...and even get to stay for church to hear Papa preach (a real blessing for all of us!).

Today was one of the clearest days we have had in a long time...the view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and especially Mt. Hood were just breathtaking. Grace commented on the drive how much daddy would have loved to see it all! :) I pulled a "Bryan" and took a picture of Mt. Hood while I was's not the greatest shot, but at least it gives you a good idea of the view we had on our trip.

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the Heavens." Psalms 8:1

"I like your strech marks!"

If any of you know my daughter Grace, than you know that all she wants to do is grow up, get married and be a mommy. She would like nothing more than for me to HAVE another baby right now! Since that is just not a reality (at least not one coming out of my belly!), she has turned her affections on our little dog Tessie. Tessie weighs about 7 lbs. and is about the average length of a newborn baby (give or take a few inches). And, aside from the massive amount of black hair all over her body, you might often think she WAS a baby. She gets put in Grace's baby stroller and is strolled all over the house, Grace holds her like a baby and rocks her back and forth like any good mom would. And, I have even had to rescue Tessie on a couple of occasions from the onesie that is not only on her but SNAPPED into place!:)( I should have taken a picture first!). I thank God for that little dog and the joy she has brought to Grace's nurturing heart!

The reason I share all this...besides the fact that it really is pretty funny :) that Grace notices anything baby related and truly finds great delight in it. Tonight it was my stretch marks. My shirt apparently got stuck on a couple rolls of fat (and YES...I do have fat rolls!) and exposed part of my side. Either side would have can see stretch marks on both.:) Grace was sitting next to me as we waited for Daddy and family devotions...and she touched my side and blurted out sweetly,"Mom, I like your stretch marks".

Do you know how often I have thought how neat it would be to NOT have stretch marks, let alone actually LIKING them. But leave it to my darling daughter to remind me that my stretch marks were created as God created life in my womb...resulting in 5 gracious gifts from God! So today I propose that we rename stretch marks and give them a more fitting definition...grace marks! Not after my daughter, Grace...but after the grace of God displayed not only in our salvation and in every breath we take...but in the knitting of our precious lambs, HIS lambs, in our wombs!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nothing inspiring...just got a question :) I feel in a "blog comment" dilemma and I am hoping, once again, you can all give me your two cents :)

I have been so blessed and so thankful for the comments you have all been leaving and I am not sure if the best course of action is to comment to you back on the blog, send an email, or just assume that you know that I am reading it along with everyone else and I am encouraged (this last one does not sit well with my sensitive spirit!). :)

Quite honestly, do you even go back and read the comment section again of a post after you have already left a comment...or do you move on having shared what you wanted to share? I realize most if not all of you have more than one blog you frequent and most of you have blogs I was just curious what "blog etiquette" looked like to you!

And for those of you who are reading this, shaking your head and laughing at me for even being concerned about it...well, at least I made you smile today one way or another :) tee-hee

"Can I pray for you?"

Have you ever had a day where you can't even stand yourself...but you can't get away from you like everyone else can?!!!! Instead, there I was stuck with my own sinful wretchedness and praying like crazy (in the garage!) for God to clean my heart out and renew a right spirit within me!

I woke up after too few hours of sleep (and broken sleep at that...Faith was having a string of bad dreams)to arguing and fighting and that soon spilled over into a fighting in my own spirit over my flesh. Enter homeschooling into the equation where everyone (but Micah) could not get a grasp on concepts they had already learned...and I couldn't preach to myself fast enough. I felt anger rising in my heart and spilling over in words of serious frustration. (To be honest, it's humbling even to write about it and share it with you!).

In the midst of the storm clouds of sin...a ray of light shone through...a ray of God's grace...and her name was FAITH! My sweet daughter, who I had sinned against just moments before came up to me, put her arm around my shoulder and said, "Mom, I can tell that you are frustrated and you are not being patient; can I pray for you right now?"...and that is exactly what she did. With precious words and a gentle voice she prayed on my behalf for God's strength and help. She ended with a big kiss to my cheek and an "I love you, Mommy".

Honestly, I am getting choked up just writing about it. To have my little 6 year old display the love and compassion of Christ to me (in spite of my lack of both toward her) was both beautiful and humbling. And that is exactly where God needed me to be...humbled and broken over my sin, yet amazed at the beauty of God's forgiveness and grace. Thank you, Faith, for being used by God to point Mommy back to the cross! I love you Sweet Pea!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In case you are in need of a laugh!

My girlfriend sent me this YouTube video about women drivers....and, although I am a woman and should be offended, it was all too imaginable! Plus it gave me a much needed laugh! It's worth the 4 minutes :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New pictures, New tears

We just got new pictures today of the boys and I weeped over them in a way I have never done with any of the other pictures. The previous pictures brought tears of pure joy, excitement and anticipation. These new pictures brought a wave of joy but also a wave of grief over what may not be. These were the first new pictures I have looked at through eyes that understand that these boys may not be entrusted to us by God.

My hope is secure. It is not in the Ethiopian government, CWA or my own ingenuity. It rests solely on God. I keep repeating Psalm 42:5 to myself,"Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become so disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence."

And while I will choose to praise God whether He gives or takes away...I would be lieing if I didn't tell you that my heart feels a little raw right now...a little prone to despair...a little more exposed than I am used to. I may be a woman, but tears don't tend to flood my eyes very often. Right now they feel like little springs!

In the midst of my shakey emotions God's Word rings sure and true:

Whom have I in Heaven besided You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:25-26

"The righteous cry, and the Lord hears...the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:17-18

And I will continue to pray with David,

"O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill."
Psalm 43:3

I need some suggestions!!!

This week started out with Grace getting the flu and it raining hard all day long. The forecast says rain all week...and if the flu follows it's typical pattern in the Pichura house the forecast is also the flu all week too (or, as Bryan put it...there is a high chance of flying chunks all week...ew!!! :) ).
It also meant Grace's piano lesson being canceled, invites to our house for dinner being revoked :) and home school being postponed. It's amazing how quick a sickness can throw our whole routine off...and that was just Monday! :) here is where I need suggestions. As the day wore on ( which included extended play due to lack of school) and the weather was not permitting some outside fun , the kids started struggling to "find things to do". (The mean mom that I am would not let them watch cartoons, movies and play video games all day! :) ) Their hearts were not complaining...otherwise I might have been apt to give them some extra cleaning duties...but they genuinely wanted some real answers to their dilemma. The problem is, my brain doesn't think too creatively and I seem to always have the same can color, play a board game or go read a book. Today, I stepped out a little bit and pulled out the puzzles! :) I have been realizing for a while that I need a longer list...and hopefully your suggestions will help me and anyone else who's brain is wired like mine. So, PLEASE...comment away!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Potato Feed Fundraiser

Back in November, some dear friends from church starting planning ways in which they could help ease the financial "burden" of our adoption. We ended up doing Papa Murphy's pizza coupon cards that month and it raised around $600 dollars! In December, they passed out mason jars with pictures of Samuel and Caleb on them to be used to collect coins. To date, that has raised about $725!

Most of you are probably thinking that even doing two fundraisers was extra sweet of them....but they are even sweeter than that! :) March 7th they will be hosting our third and final fundraiser to help close the financial gap in bringing Samuel and Caleb home (or two other children, if that is what the Lord wills): A potato feed along with a bake sale and silent auction.

The response has blessed our hearts greatly! So many people have generously offered their help (some of them people who do not even know us!) through baking goodies, making purses, gift baskets, donating other items and helping with the event the day of. We have even had our potatoes donated to us for free! We are thankful for the heart that God seems to be giving people for adoption...and not necessarily that they have to adopt themselves, but that they can be a part of this process in other helping us or others like us! :) Whoever the Lord chooses to give us as's neat to think that, though they will most certainly be our kids, in many ways, they have been adopted by many people...from dear friends to strangers!

We'll make sure to let you know how it all goes...both with word and with pictures! Above all, we pray that God would be glorified and people would see the beauty of adoption...both horizontally and vertically.

"He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." Ephesians 1:5

Friday, February 20, 2009

How is your singing coming along?

"I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." Psalms 40:1-3

I love these verses. In fact, they are a "Seed's Song" that we love to sing as a family. What I never thought much about...that God impressed upon my heart the last couple of days... is that out of David's trial, out of the miry clay and the pit of destruction, came a NEW SONG of praise to the Lord.

Often our trials are God's loving way of refining us...purifying our hearts, removing the sin that so easily entangles and making us more like Him (I Peter 1:6-9). But trials, I believe, are also used to help us to behold God's glory in a way we couldn't and didn't before. Look at the plagues. God hardened Pharaoh's heart and proceeded to bring plagues on the Egyptians so that they "shall know that I am the Lord" (Exodus 7:5). The same was true with David when he faced Goliath. God led David to fight against Goliath so "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel...and the battle is the Lords" (I Samuel 17:46-47).

Through our trials, however big or small, as we turn our eyes upon Jesus, attributes of His that were just head knowledge become embedded in our hearts and we can't help but fall deeper in love with Him. And the truths Paul prayed for the Ephesians become not just a prayer but a reality: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:18-19).

So, we are left realizing that, no matter how painful our trials may be at the time, we can truly obey the words of God through James: "Consider it all joy my brethern when you encounter various trails..." (James 1:2). And, as we come out on the other side, I think we really will find ourselves singing a NEW SONG of praise to our God!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time to strech!

As we have been taking a closer look at the gospel, Bryan and I have had many great discussions about how living gospel is really about finding that perfect balance between obedience of God's laws and also recognizing the beautiful truth that there is nothing I can do to earn God's favor...when He looks at me, He sees Christ.
One step in either direction will find me either legalistic or feeling like I have the freedom to do whatever I want, because I am forgiven. For me, to be completely transparent, I tend to fall more into the legalistic category. In my flesh, I like having rules to follow by which to exam how "good" I am or "bad" I am. The problem is, when I do heart remains untouched and my sin grows and my perspective of the gospel becomes very warped. And, to top it off, I then have to fight off a judgemental attitude when I see others breaking the "rules" I feel they should be keeping to "be holy as He is holy."
Since I know that that is a weakness of mine, I am always excited to read new articles that stretch me and my legalistic tendency's! Today, Challies did that for me in his post, "Is Smoking Sinful?" While I don't agree with every aspect 100 % (I think there is a bit more to be said about our body's being the temple of the Holy Spirit), I really appreciated the thoughts he shared and the quotes he had in there by John Piper. It got me thinking and stretching...two things that I need to do as much of as possible!! Hope you feel streched as well and feel free to comment! :)

“Don’t pick out a few individual named sins, but let your definition of sin be sweeping and pervasive so that it touches everything. And let your definition of holiness be the same. How you drink Coke, eat pizza, or exercise can all be sin issues, or not.” John Piper

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time...can I have some more of it?

Time is a funny thing. Almost everyday I feel like I don't have enough of it and yet, the thought of waiting (having lots of time) before we go get our children can be hard to bear sometimes. Like I said, it's a funny thing! :)

It can also be a discouraging thing for me. There are so many people that I love dearly...both friends and family...and I feel like I can never quite keep up in what's going on in their lives. I often feel badly at my lack of phone calls and what may appear as a lack of care for them (though I care greatly). Yet, there are more days than not when "doing the next thing" keeps me so busy all day long that there is little time for the phone at all. And I end up frustrated at my "lack of time."

So, as I thought through time and sought to see it from God's perspective (thanks to an encouraging email from Bea!) God showed me some neat and encouraging truths from His Word:

Psalms 31:15 "My times are in Your hands."
Eccles. 3:1,11 "There is an appointed time for everything...and He has made everything beautiful in it's time."

God has planned out my days. The seasons of my life have been written by the Almighty Author and I can rest in His plan without feeling discouraged or wishing there was even one more minute in my day. My steps have all already been numbered (Job 14:16).

Genesis 1:5 "God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day."
James 1:17 "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights..."

Time was created by God and it is good. It is not just is a GIFT. It is a gift that I wake up in the morning, fix my kids breakfast, teach them, fix them lunch, take a walk, prepare dinner, welcome Bryan home...I think you are getting my point. The problem is, I often don't get this point. I don't see time as a beautiful GIFT from God...but often something to complain about (usually because I feel like I need more of it!).

Psalms 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Life is short, time goes fast...but God is still sovereign over both! I desire deeply to have a heart of wisdom when it comes to my daily living...each second, minute and hour. So, for me, that means starting each day with the recognition that it is a GIFT from the Lord and then I can truly rejoice and be glad in it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adoption Update

I actually called today and spoke with my case manager, Aster. She is from Ethiopia and sounded just like Bea (our new Ethiopian friend from Seattle) and that was comforting right off the bat. Email is fantastic for many things...but it doesn't always do the best job of conveying feelings or personality, so I was so glad the Lord prompted me to call. I got a better understanding of Aster's care and concern for the situation with the boys and her diligence about trying to find out all she can for us. It was a real blessing.

I also learned a bit more that I wanted to share with you. The boy's mother's HIV test came back negative...she does not have AIDS. We rejoice greatly in that result. But it also makes things a little more difficult...both for us and for their mom. Aster said that this type of situation is not all that just takes more time and work to complete the adoption. The boy's mom is in the process of filing additional paperwork in hopes of getting a favorable response from the local government. This whole process falls almost solely on the mom (although the orphanage/CWA does all it can to help). My heart aches for this woman and yet it is amazing to see her resolve in seeing her sons adopted and seeking to do what it takes. Please pray with us for her salvation above all and that she will receive needed guidance and help as she navigates through paperwork and government officials. Please pray, too, for the official (s) that God would soften their hearts towards the boys and their mom and grant her petition to allow them to be adopted. And pray that we would daily fight against doubting God's promises and getting discouraged...I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I have to preach the Word of God to my own heart everyday in regards to this adoption!

We originally thought we might have the boys home with us by May....but God's timing is proving to be far different :) Many of you have asked if we have any idea how long this could take in light of the new situation. Aster says that this whole situation right now could take another month to come to completion (whether it ends in Samuel and Caleb's adoption or another referral). Add that to the 2 1/2 months it is taking to get a court date and another 5 weeks till we could fly to Ethiopia and we are easily looking at July at the earliest. But, to be honest, we are not looking to the timetable as much as we are looking to God! Timetables will most certainly dissapppoint us and let us down... but God never will! :)

"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not dissappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5

Bail Out

When a comic (written almost 10 yrs ago)depicts today's economic thought is it funny or sad?

Monday, February 16, 2009

True love

It's been almost 2 weeks since we have heard anything in regards to our adoption and the boy's mom. We are praying this is the week that we receive news (of course, that is what we prayed last weeks too! :) ) but, above all, I am praying that God would just help me, through His Word, to better understand His love for me and for my family: "See, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us..." (I John 3:1)
The same love that Jesus had for Martha, Mary and Lazarus in John 11: 5-6 where it says, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was."
Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, knew that Mary and Martha would be emotional wrecks and endure much hurt as a result of his death and yet He remained where he was out of LOVE. Jesus saw the big picture: Lazarus death/resurrection would be used for the glory of God so that Jesus Himself would be glorified by all who were witnesses and lives would be saved for eternity (vs. 4,45).
I know that our adoption wait is given to us, by Jesus, out of LOVE. He see's the big picture (He created the big picture!) and He knows what will best glorify Him! Lord, You ARE love... so help me to seek You above all things and, in that, to truly understand Your love in ways I havn't before!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What fun!

Today, all the kids got to roller skating for the first time ever! We were invited to a roller skating party and the kids all had so much fun. Micah won the award for the most bruises by the time he was done, Grace won the award for shaking and skating (really well!) all at the same time :), Faith won the "I didn't give up even though I wanted to" award and Titus won the award for the fastest 4 year old learner that I have ever known! It was wonderful watching the kids try something new, (that wasn't necessarily easy) and walking away having persevered and having a blast at the same time!
After the party, we hurried home to put some food into our bellies and then it was off to watch Bryan referee a basketball game. He refereed volleyball in the fall and is now at the tail end of basketball and we still had not seen him in we were all excited to see one of the ways he works so hard to take care of us and provide for us! Micah, bless his heart, wanted to make a sign for Bryan that he could wave in the air at the game that said, "YOU ROCK, DAD!", but we thought it might not be the wisest idea :) It ended up that all my kids found a different way to embarrass their daddy!
The football coach (who also goes to our church) at the school Bryan was refereeing at, came up and sat by my kids and lead them in a cheer...Give me a "B" B!!! Give me a "R" R!!!! Give me a "Y" Y!!! Give me an "A" A!!! Give me a "N" N!!!! What does that spell? BRYAN!!!! My kids were giggling up a storm and my dear husband was trying to pretend he didn't hear them :) I do believe he may be one of the only referee's who has ever had an actual cheering section in the game of basketball! Thankfully, the fans thought it was cute and Bryan's judgement was not affected, although the game was a close one! :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Some of our favorites

Last week I posted on some of our favorite children's material and today I thought I would highlight a few of our personal favorites. This is by no means an exhaustive's really just a peak into a shelf in our library :) If you have some of your own favorites you want to share, comment away!

Bryan's top 3:
"God's Passion for His Glory" by John Piper
"The Book on Leadership" by John MacArthur
"Relegious Affections" by Jonathan Edwards

Bryan's top 3 Parenting books:
"Everyday Talk" by John Younts
"Successful Christian Parenting" by John MacArthur
"Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp

OUR top 3 Marriage books:
"When Sinners Say I Do" by Dave Harvey *on sale now*
"Sweethearts for a Lifetime" by Wayne Mack
"Love That Lasts" by Gary and Betsy Ricucci *on sale now*
(can't wait to read our most recent purchase..."Tying the Knot Tighter" by Martha Peace and John Crotts)

Kristin's top 3:
"Respectable Sins" by Jerry Bridges
"Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper
"A Gospel Primer" by Milton Vincent

Kristin's top parenting books (for moms):
"Don't Make Me Count to Three" by Ginger Plowman
"Heaven at Home" by Ginger Plowman

Kristin's top "Godly Wife/Mom" books :):
"The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace
"Feminine Appeal" by Carolyn Mahaney *on sale now*
"Fearlessly Feminine" by Jani Ortlund
"Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss (It's actually a fiction book...but it is truly beautiful and has encouraged me immensly in my walk with Christ)

And for you homeschooling ladies: "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit" by Teri Maxwell" :)

And just in case you feel overwhelmed at the thought of reading even one book...I encourage you to take a quick peek at the encouraging words of John Piper and Donald Whitney on this subject.

Rest for our souls

I have learned that the best thoughts I have are never my own :) So, here are some good ones as we head into the weekend:

"Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee." Saint Augustine

"My soul is vast. There is nothing in all the world that can fill it-not marriage, children, money,etc...Only God, in Christ, has the fullness to match this vastness and bring ease and contentment and rest to my soul." (Jani Ortlund, Fearlessly Feminine)

"My soul finds rest in God alone..." Psalm 62:1

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Radically different

I am doing a new read through the Bible plan this year...a little bit from the OT, the Psalms, the Gospels and Acts. I love how so often, though reading in different books, it all ties together.
This verse has stuck out to me in past years and it did again this year (I think I should make it my life verse!)

Acts 20:24, "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."

The only way to truly live in such a way that keeps the gospel at the forefront and the ministry God has called me to as a ministry of delight and not duty, is to get myself OUT of the way! To think opposite of what the world tells me. The world tells me I need my time, I need to feel appreciate, I am special, therefore I deserve. And yet, my beloved Savior lived so radically different.

When Jesus found out that John the Baptist had been beheaded (Mathew 14)...he sought to get be by Himself. I can relate to's what He did next that blows my mind. The crowds figured out where He was going (and, we are talking of possibly upwards of 20,000 people!) and they met Him where He was...and the Bible said He felt compassion for them and healed there sick (and He did this all day and then fed them all!). If you asked me, what He needed was rest, a break, time away, no demands...what He gave us all instead was an example to follow in. At the end of that same chapter it talks about Jesus going to Gennesaret and everyone coming from the surrounding districts to be healed...and even those who touched is cloak were cured. I can't imagine being surrounded by hundreds of people all pushing in, just trying to touch your clothes. Sometimes my sweet kids just placing their "quiet hand" on me while they wait for me can drive me nuts (even though that is exactly what they have been instructed to do)! Not to mention the fact that I think I would feel pretty "used". Yet, once again, Jesus gives us a beatiful example...a lived out testimony of Acts 20:24...He did not consider His life dear to Himself.

"I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

As I continue to ask God to mold my ever selfish heart into the heart of Christ, my prayer echoes the words of Betty Stam ( a missionary to the people of China who, along with her husband, was murdered in the 1930's by communists):

"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."

A song to share while we wait

We watched "Fireproof" this past weekend and we were so impressed!!! It was a blessing to see the gospel so beautifully shared on the "Big Screen"! If you have not watched it, I would highly encourage you to make it a movie choice for your next movie night.
Anyway, one of the songs on the movie spoke exactly to how Bryan and I feel and how we are seeking to handle this time of waiting for our precious Ethiopian children! I wanted to share the words with you...and (thanks to my dear friend Wendy's help!) you can listen to them as you read. They are on the CD, "John Waller: The Blessing"

While I’m Waiting
Psalm 5:3, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 38:15, 40:1, Isaiah 30:18, Lamentations 3:24
John Waller

"The explanation for this song is simple, I was waiting on God and I was hurting when I wrote the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t have written
a song if my friend, Mike, hadn’t encouraged me to document what I was going through during that time. I’m sure there are few people
who can’t relate to this song, but the important thing to remember while we’re waiting on God is to not just wait but to actively wait.
Serve, worship and be faithful with what you have, where you are… “even while (you) wait.”

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

© 2007 Travelin’ Zoo Music (ASCAP) (admin. by EMI CMG Publishing)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No grumbling here!

So, I am back rubbing shoulders again with the Israelites and in Exodus 16 they are complaining (in a really ugly sort of way, I have a feeling) to Moses and Aaron that they are hungry and want food. I love how Moses gets right to the heart of the issue when he says to them in vs. 8 "...for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord."

This is a truth we preach often in the Pichura home...but I am amazed how quick I am to be a hearer of the Word and not a doer. Or, to chose to see God's hand in some things but not all... thus, giving me a right to complain and get irritated when I deem the situation to be rediculous or the person involved to be a pain in the neck.

There are so many times I do not take to heart Lamentations 3:37-38, "Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the most High that woe and well being proceed?" And that I do not echo the words of Psalm 119:75 "I know, O Lord, that Your judgements are right and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me."

I think it is because sometimes I just don't see my afflictions as having possibly come from the Lord. They often are: children fighting, a messy bathroom after I just cleaned it up, a dishwasher that leaves dried food particles on anything on the top rack making it necessary to rewash more items than I'd like, spilled drinks as a result of goofing around, stains on a bunch of the kids shirts that I didn't catch till after they were washed and then dried in permanently, a new meal that took a while to make and tasted awful, quiet time in the afternoon that is anything but quiet (right now, I am on the third child coming out of their room in the first 1/2 hour of their hour of reading and rest time when they have strictly been told DO NOT COME OUT!!!Ahhh!!!).

I share all that, not to complain, but to remind myself that all those things came to me after going through God's hands first. And they almost always serve to show me what is really in my heart as my irritation and frustration come pouring out. But He doesn't give up on me, He keeps pruning me day by day, little by little and, sometimes, in big ways too.... all done in His infinite wisdom and matchless love. And, as I relfect on these truths, I am left speechless and without even one thing to grumble about!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grace's first piano lesson

Grace had her first piano lesson today (thanks again to Columbia Virtual Academy). Her teacher, Mrs. Albee, is precious and very patient and I know that Grace is going to love each and every lesson....and so are we. Her piano is in the same room as the couch that all of us (me, Micah, Faith and Titus) sat one while we waited for her. Micah quickly had a gleam in his eye as he let me know he was going to watch and listen closely so he could learn to play the piano too! And, I'll be honest, I was pretty fascinated myself! :)
Grace informed me afterwards that she was shaking the whole time but that she had so much fun! If you know Grace, that sounds just like sweet, sensitive girl!
The kids are already making plans to form a band! The thought of that much noise in our little house is a bit overwhelming...but I have a feeling I can convince them to put on some outdoor concerts for our neighbors as soon as the weather gets a little warmer :)

PS....I had to make sure the pictures I took showed you how many stools we had to use in order to make sure Grace could properly play and also have her feet touching the ground at the same time! :)

Keeping Silent

Okay, so I want to keep being as transparent as I can be about this whole adoption process and the thoughts and feelings that accompany it. Today that means sharing with you that everything in me wants to DO something, to find a way to end the wait of not knowing. To know whether we will be opening up our home for always to Samuel and Caleb...or to 2 children who are nameless and faceless to us right now...but were written out long before the world was created to be our children.
I am a "fixer" type of person. I see a problem or hear about a problem and immediately my brain starts spinning looking for a solution...for a plan of action. And my flesh is screaming at me right now telling me to DO SOMETHING!!!! COME UP WITH A PLAN!!!

I feel a bit like the Israelites must have felt as they were parked by the sea watching the Egyptians approaching: helpless and able to do nothing but watch. Sadly, they turned to grumbling and anger (and I'll share more about that tomorrow) and gave us all an example to NOT follow (although, I have a strong suspicion their sin would have been mine as well... as it often is). In the midst of this, there is one verse that hit me afresh: "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." Exodus 14:14. WOW!!!

This word "silent" does not mean doing nothing...but what it does mean is that ALL I NEED TO DO is place my hope and trust in the One to Whom all of Heaven and Earth does His bidding. It's to rest in the knowledge that I serve the Sovereign One: the One who has the right, the wisdom and the power to do as He pleases...and He always wins every battle! And, in that, my plans are dissolved, the "fight" in me is quieted, and I am left with a quiet expectation... and with a deeper understanding of the word's in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sweet Fruit from Last Weekend

I wanted to finish sharing my "Thoughts from the weekend" by sharing some of the sweet fruit that came out of it with my own son. And, I continue to praise the Lord that He opened my eyes to see right to the heart of his statement (I believe, in large part, to the truths I had just been hearing and meditating on myself) or who knows how shallow my answer may have been and how hopeless he still would be feeling right now. Let me also say that both Bryan and I have seen big changes in Micah this past year and we really do believe that God has given him a new heart and he is truly a child of the King!

Micah came to me on Monday and I could just tell he was so discouraged. The conversation went something like this:
He said, "Mom, some days I think God has saved me and other days and am not sure if I am saved".
I responded, "Micah, is it because some days you feel like you are doing a really good job obeying God and other days you feel like you just keeping sinning and sinning?" Micah nodded his head in affirmation.
I continued by asking him if he felt like God was angry with him and not happy with him for his disobedience. His head dropped even more and he said, "Yes".
This is when I got to preach sweet gospel truth to him! "Micah, God is not angry with you! He knows you are not going to obey all the time...or even a lot of the time some days...and that is why He sent Jesus to die and take all the anger from God that you deserved, so that you may be covered in Jesus' perfectness. When God looks at you, Micah James, He sees Jesus and that pleases God very much!
My son's eyes literally filled with tears and he hugged me fiercely. He got it...and it freed his little heart and I could see it as clear as day. And I realized in that moment that I was starting to truly get it, too...understanding more and more the beauty of Christ's death and resurrection and how those Gospel truths dispel fear, transform motivation for obeying from often being duty into genuine delight- out of love for so great a Savior and how these precious truths cause sin to seem less and less pleasurable in light of such an infinite pleasure as Jesus!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday at the Pichura House

Well, it appears having weather in the low 40' for the last two days has created a bit of "spring fever" amongst the men in my home. As I was cleaning the bathroom (NOT my favorite job!) I overheard what appeared to be "draft talk" going on...sure enough, Bryan and Micah were at the table selecting players for their whiffle ball baseball season! I guess spring training won't be starting till the beginning of March, but you could have fooled me :) Titus, looked a bit confused about the whole process...but he joyfully has joined Micah's team ( along with Ted William and Willie Mays!)

We also all enjoyed our "Starbucks Saturday." We used to try to take the kids to Starbucks as a treat once a month...but that has proved a bit more than our budget can handle :) Still, we didn't want to give up the special treat that it had become. So, it was with much excitement that I found a Frappe Freeze Mix at Costco that makes one fantastic frappucino! For about $3.50 (and that includes the cost of the milk!) we can all enjoy our Starbuck's favorite right from home.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rabbit Trail :)

I want to finish out part 3 of my "thoughts" from the weekend, but after yesterdays post, I thought this would be a good time to recommend a few more Pichura favorites :) Know that I am not speaking as the authority on all that is good for your children, but we strive to live out Deut. 6 about teaching our children the truths of God's Word in any and every opportunity that we can. We have come across some wonderful tools to aid us in our pursuit (both via music, book and DVD) and I thought I would throw a couple more out there for you. And, as always, feel free to comment...I am sure there is some great stuff out there that I don't even know about ( my girlfriend just recommended a book by Susan Hunt called "Big Truths for Little Kids" that I can't wait to purchase!) Also, I have tried to link every you can get more info by just clicking on the name.

Our hands down favorites of all the CD's we own are the 5 CD's that we have from "SEEDS:Family Worship". All 5 CD's (and, for those of you who don't know ...they just released a new one!) are chock full of Bible Verse after Bible Verse put to great music and great vocals. It has been a wonderful blessing to be memorizing God's Word together...wether we are riding in the car, have family devotions or doing our chores.

One of our other CD favorites is "Awesome God" by Sovereign Grace Ministries. One of my favorite things about this CD is that evey song teaches gospel truths. There is no fluff in these is too short to not get right down to what's important and I am so glad Sovereign Grace recognizes that! And the best part....this CD is on sale for $6 with free shipping (along with a boatload of other CD's and books by Sovereign Grace...if you want some suggestions on other material from them, I have a lot of favorites :) )!!!

If you are looking for some good movie night DVD's, "The Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith" series is fantastic. The animated DVD's are short (30 min. with approx. 60 min. of extra background...which is really good!) but they share the beautiful stories of people in history who have given all for the cause of Christ. The series includes stories about: Eric Lidell, Gladys Aylward, William Tyndale, Jim Elliot, John Bunyan and William Wurmbrand (we have them all except the last one). They recommend the DVD's for ages 8-12, but we have found them to be wonderful even for Titus (but that is still a decision you have to make on behalf of your own child, of course!).

And another Bible Story Book that we appreciate both for content and for beautiful pictures is "The Big Picture Story Bible". The author and artist really do a great job of presenting the Bible as accurately as possible.

Well, that's it for today! :) Maybe I'll throw some grown up books in the mix next week! :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's really all about God

Last night we just started a new series in Bible Study called "Gospel Christianity" by Tim Keller. I am so excited to be studying, in depth, truths that are becoming so dear to me (living GOSPEL daily) with my brothers and sisters in our church!
We listened to a clip by Tim Keller as an intro and he said many fantastic things but one thing he said was repeated (more or less :) ) in "The Jesus Story Book Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name" that I was reading to the kids today:

"But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what He has done."

It ended up being the perfect opportunity to share with the kids how even now, life is not all about us, it's all about God and what He is doing! It's not about what we want or think we need, it's all about "What will glorify God the most and make His name great."

The second part that I thought was neat is that the GOSPEL is all about what God has already DONE. Tim Keller said that the Bible is not (just) good advice, it is good news. It has already happened. There is nothing I can do to change it or even add to it! I can only respond to it! I pray that we all respond with the same heart the Psalmist had in Psalm 119: with delight, with wonder and with thanksgiving and praise!

And if you don't have The Jesus Storybook Bible that I listed above...please consider it a must have for your kids and order it NOW...see, I even made it easy for you...just click on NOW and your almost done :)

DISCLAIMER: Someone asked me if I had read the reviews about the book, both positive and negative. I did a couple of years back when I first bought this book...but I went to them again today. The reviews are fair...but overall I really do think the book is wonderful. One thing I have learned so far as a parent is that it is still my job to shepherd my kids and not leave that job to any book or video. So, as we read, we always talk about what we are reading and what is good or not good about it....and that includes Christian material as well because a little error mixed in with a lot of good is still error and can be hard to pick out in those contexts. Having said all that, I still think you will find the book to be a beautiful and unique look at how every story in the Bible whispers the name of Jesus Christ! Feel free to comment your thoughts, too!!! (They won't show up right away until they first go to my email...and then they will keep the comments coming!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thoughts from this weekend Part 2

This was one of my favorite quotes from the whole weekend.....

"Justified means just as if I never sinned but it also means just as if I always obeyed."

I have always heard the "just as if I never sinned" part...but what struck down to the deepest part of my heart was the "just as if I always obeyed". It's really easy for me to be a have a bunch of do's and a bunch of don't that I live by as I seek to be more like Christ. And at the end of the day I either feel self righteous and proud that I did or did not do the things I felt I should/shouldn't do or I feel miserable and discouraged that I can't get my act together and I sinned more than I thought possible in that day. And when I am discouraged, I end up coming up with a list and a plan (not that plans are always bad) for what/how I am going to do better the next day.

And, in doing so, the very GOSPEL that saved me and keeps me has been, once again, forgotten. I have relegated the grace of God to a bunch of do's and don'ts and, in the process, my love for Him has grown dim. THIS IS THE TRUTH THAT MUST TRANSFORM MY THINKING: The jar of good deeds has already been filled up by the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to earn God's favor and pleasure...He already is pleased with me as though I had obeyed every single time because my life is HID in the perfect life of Christ!!!

And this truth does not cause me for one minute to want to jump on the train called "sin" because I know that I am already forgiven and found pleasing in God's sight. NO, this truth (and all the ramifications of it) causes me to fall deeper in love with Christ, to stand in utter amazement of God's grace, to want to spend hours meditating on the deep love of Jesus and to joyfully respond in obedience to the One who said "It is Finished" and it REALLY WAS!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pray with Us!!!!

One thing Bryan and I have desired to do is to be transparent about our adoption. And that means sharing with you both the joys and the hurts. Today, my heart hurts.

The Ethiopian government wants the boys' mother (who left them at the orphanage in May of 2008 and has become a house servant) to take the children back. She says that she is HIV positive and cannot take care of them. If she is HIV postive, the government would not send the boys back to her. They are testing her this week.

I said in the beginning that my heart hurts, and it does. I dream about them, picture them being a part of so many things that we do and have images of their mannerisms and smiles often floating around in my head...I can't help but smile right now just thinking about them. So, yes, my heart hurts.

But that is just a part of what my heart is doing right now. It's also resting in peace. God did not go on a vacation, He is not asleep. Nothing will happen without the Lords decree and His work is perfect (Deut. 32:4). My heart is also hopeful. Not necessarily hopeful in the situation but in the God who holds the situation in His hands! "For You are my Hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth (Psalm 71:5).

We do not know how to pray but, "Your will be done." Bryan and I would love nothing more than to have the boys reunited with their mom (though our hearts would hurt like crazy). But we also have arms and hearts open wide to bring them into our home for always! So, right now we choose to rest in the promise of I Corinthians 2:9, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."

Would you please pray with and for us and for all those involved?

Thoughts from this weekend Part 1

I said I was going to try to share with you a couple of the things I had the privilege both to learn and to be reminded of from this past weekend's conference with Elyse Fitzpatrick....and I thought I would share with you the first one today. Here is what she said:

"All of God's wrath at all of my sin has already been spent. It was poured out on Christ, His Son."

Read that over a couple of times!!! All of our sin...the sin we have already committed, the sin we presently are committing and the sin we will still commit until the day we die do not receive one moment of God's wrath and anger...not one moment!!! His wrath was poured out on the sinless Lamb, His own precious Son. God is not angry with you if you are a believer. You may reap the discipline of the Lord...we all do...but it is never out of anger or a "now you are going to get it" type of attitude. It is out of complete love for you. C.S. Lewis once said so brilliantly,

"We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

And when we start thinking that the mud pies are great and our plan is what is best (or maybe we are truly wrestling with sin and not seeing it for as ugly as it is) the Lord steps in to discipline us. Not with angry words, fists in the air and a look that could kill...but by gently, yet firmly, gripping our hand and whispering in our ear, "Come, my child, come away with Me to the pleasure that you can only begin to a life of knowing and loving Me." Often the discipline hurts so badly, not because God is a mean and cruel God, but because we have held so tightly to our "mud pie" and the removal of that "mud pie" (IE idol) from our heart is truly painful as God beckons us and propels us on into Christ likeness.
I'll end, for now, with this testimony ( I read on Girltalk) of Debbie who lost her baby girl shortly after birth and penned these words:

We often think that all pain is bad and that it’s our goal to avoid it at all costs. It all hurts right now in an emotional way as a surgery to remove a large cancerous tumor would hurt physically. If we didn’t know what we were being saved from, the surgery would feel like trouble upon trouble… the incision, the bills, the recovery process… Yet, what a benefit the surgery would be: it would keep one from death; it would remove future pain; it would allow one to live life to the fullest. What’s going on in our lives at this time could be God’s way of doing surgery on our souls – we just can’t see what the pain is sparing us from or preparing us to do or how it will be used for the future. It’s all a matter of faith in a God who is faithful. A God who doesn’t allow pain for the sake of pain – but has a plan even for the pain that seems unnecessary. We just can’t see the work that He is inevitably doing beneath the surface. He’s allowing circumstances that if we could see the outcome of His plan – we would say, “Cut deeper.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Adoption Update

Well, it appears that God has more lessons for us to learn that we can learn best through waiting and just plain not knowing!:) Here is part of the letter we received from CWA this past Friday:

PROBABLE CHANGES IN EMBASSY APPOINTMENTS: The US Embassy in Addis will be holding a mandatory meeting for all adoption agencies on February 10th to go over new procedures they will be enacting. They have alerted us to the fact that SCHEDULING AND APPOINTMENTS WILL CHANGE! This will not affect families who are already scheduled to travel in Feb., but will affect scheduling of embassy appointments thereafter. We will let you know the details as soon as they are available to us.

THE LAW OF AVERAGES: You may have noticed that our projections for referrals, court dates, and such keep changing! Please remember that we control very little of what happens in Ethiopia. We simply try to project based on what is happening at any given time. When court reopened in October, we were able to secure court hearings 4-6 weeks out from the time documents were submitted. With so many hearings being routinely postponed (roughly 50% at present) we suspect this is one factor contributing to the present rate of hearings being scheduled 8-10 weeks from the time documents are submitted.

I received an email from our case worker today and she said that they are still preparing our documents (in Ethiopia) to be submitted to the courts. And, as of next Tuesday, court date procedure is going to change. For right now that leaves us with one big question mark as to when we will be going to get the boys...but after that big question mark comes an even bigger explanation mark...because God is sovereign and, he"Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps." (Psalm 135:6) So, we will joyfully keep waiting to see just what it is that will please the Lord most in this precious adoption journey!

Please pray, with us, for the meeting that will take place on Tuesday, February 10th (which means be praying Monday night as Ethiopia is 12 hours ahead of us)!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I wish you could have been there!

There are times in life where no matter how hard you try to put into words the experience you went are left saying, "If only you could have been there." That is exactly how I feel as I sit here tonight. This weekend was precious in so many ways. There is so much to share...but I will do my best to sum it up without writing a book :)

Our night without the kids was great (and the kids would tell you the same thing...they were spoiled with trips to the beach and a park with a zip line!)...and just the right amount of time. It was nice to be able to think and talk in complete sentences without interruption :)

The ladies conference with Elyse Fitzpatrick was truly food for the soul. Her passion for the Word of God and her knowledge of the Scriptures was an encouragement and testimony to me. Her godly example was one I desire to follow and the 3 sessions she spoke at have given me much meat to digest for many weeks to come. And I am so excited to tell you that you can listen to them,too, online...just click here. I promise it will bless your socks off! :) I am going to try to take time this week, on my blog, to share some of the things I learned...I don't want to forget any of it!

Our time with Belay and Bea, the Ethiopian family we went to have dinner with on Saturday, was more precious and beautiful than my pea brain words can describe. Their love for Christ exuded in every way possible: from their warm hugs of greeting, to their servant's hearts of hospitality (not only to us but to 3 other families that came while we were there as well as a foster mom and the teen in her care who had just come from Eritrea (which is right above Ethiopia) 2 months ago as a refugee), to the proclamation of God's Word and His saving power as they shared their testimonies with all of us. At one point, they even brought a Bible to Bryan and whispered in his ear,"There are unbelievers in this room right now...would you please preach!" There was no fear of offending, no fear of pushing too hard...only a passion for the name of Christ to be proclaimed and for lives to be saved. They were not concerned with what everyone wanted, but what everyone needed...Christ. I was humbled and encouraged to the point of literal tears. Our time seemed too short although we were there over 3 hours. Even our kids didn't want to leave and we all can't wait to visit again and for them to meet Samuel and Caleb!I can't really explain it, but it felt like home..and I guess it really was...for we were with brothers and sisters in Christ.

We had a view of the Space Needle from our hotel room (which was on the 39th floor) and Bryan also experienced his first earthquake ( a 4.5) on Friday morning...he was grinning from ear to ear!
Bryan celebrated his 33rd birthday on Saturday. Thanks Aunt Michelle (and Grace and Faith) for the cool Red Sox hat cake you made!

There was so much Ethiopian food to try! The tan, flat, pancake-looking food is called "injera". It is a spongy, texured bread that is the staple of all of their meals. Typically, all the food is placed on a piece of injera and then you tear pieces off of another roll of injera and use that to scoop the food off of your plate. No utensils! The really deep colored red food on the kids plates is called "wat." It is a spicy stew and is known for being Ethiopia's national dish. Bea made wat with lamb and another with chicken. I'll be honest, it is going to take our family a bit of time to get used to the taste of spices we are not used to using...but we will get there! :)

This is Bea...and to me, Bea is truly BEAutiful in every way! This was her seat the whole time we were visiting and she kept making one pot of coffee after another! Right here she is roasting the beans...and we were all waiting for the fire alarm to go off as it did every time the beans started smelling burnt and the smoke started rising :) Once the beans were cooked and ground, Bea placed them into that black clay pot (called a jebena), added water and then boiled the coffee over heat. Those espresso looking cups are how the coffee is served...and traditionally, you are supposed to drink 3 cups of it. YUM!
This will take a little explaining...but I want you to know who everyone is! The couple in the back (to the right of Bryan) go to Belay and Bea's church. He just went to Ethiopia 3 months ago to get his wife and bring her to live here. He also grew up in the same region the boys have come from. To the right of David and Michelle and the left of Paul is Philamon. He is the sweet 17 year old refugee from Etirea. His eyes lit up as he talked to the Ethiopians in their native tongue and it blessed my heart to see his lips moving in unison to the words of the song in Samuel and Caleb's DVD. His foster mom, Molly, is in front of Paul. In the front row is Belay and Bea and a dear friend of theirs from church, Tsegey (sp?). Misgana, Belay and Bea's youngest daughter is standing next to me and the other children are Tsegey's kids and a neighbor friend. What a group and what a rich time of genuine fellowship it was. It was a day we won't forget!