Tuesday, March 31, 2009

God uses pain


I wanted to put the words of a song on my blog again. I had posted them a few weeks ago..but they have a fresh, new meaning for me again this week. So does the quote by C.S. Lewis:

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains;it is His magaphone to rouse a deaf world."

I pray the Lord uses all that is going on not only in my life but in yours as well, to rouse a deaf world and cause them to see His glory!

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)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A time to weep

For one of the first times ever, I sit here looking at a blank screen to fill with words and I don't know exactly what to say. On Saturday, my Grandpa took his life. To be honest, tears seem to come more easily than words as I sit here right now. Grief over what was and is no longer. Pain in my heart and deep sorrow for my Grandma and my mom and aunt. A feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything.

But I know that the helpless feeling that I feel is not rooted in the Word of God. There is one thing I can do and I humbly ask all of you to join me in doing so.

PLEASE PRAY! God's Word says in James 5:16b that "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." And, it seems fitting to close this post with a prayer...so, would you join me...

Dear Lord,

You say in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to weep and a time to mourn. This is one of those times and the tears that have been shed are too great to count and I know there are many more still to come and yet, even those tears, are in Your bottle...written in Your book. This situation is not bigger than You nor has it slipped from Your grasp. You hem us (and this situation) in, behind and before. You have laid your hand upon us. Your plans have not come to ruin but continue to stand as strong as they always have. Both woe and well being proceed from Your mouth and I pray that we would all find ourselves echoing with Job, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." You are still and always will be our precious Savior...our Sovereign One! You are working out all things for our good and for Your glory. Glorify Your name, Lord!

Oh Father, I cry out to you on behalf of my grandma, my mom and my aunt. You created them and You know better than anyone the sorrow in their hearts as well as their grieving thoughts. I pray that they would find sweet shelter under the shadow of Your wings. That you would cause their minds to be stayed on you and that Your peace that passes understanding would flood their souls. I pray that they would be filled with the knowledge of Your will with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. May they cry out to you, "Abba, Father" and find sweet comfort in the truths that you are Father to the Fatherless and Your role of Husband and Protector to the widow.

I pray that you would wipe away any shred of guilt or even desires to have done things differently. You tell us that all the days of our lives were planned out for us before there was even one of them and that even our plans, or lack of plans, do not change Your purposes. May they rest in Your Sovereignty and fight any thoughts that would cause them to run from that sweet truth.

Lord, please be their strength in weakness...both spiritually and physically. May they shine as stars on a dark night as they display Your power at work in them in the midst of such deep suffering. For from You and through You and to You are all things. To You, Lord, be the glory forever! Amen

Grandma, Mom and Aunt Sharon....I love you, I am crying with you and for you and you are held dearer in my heart than words could adequately express!

Friday, March 27, 2009

To Work or Not to Work


I received an email today in response to a post I made a couple of days ago where I shared some truths that had been shared on the "Girltalk" blog. While it did not specifically encourage women to be at home with their children it talked (and so did I) about the high value of shepherding your children and being as available as possible to training them in the context of the home.

A friend lovingly emailed me and was concerned about what I had shared...in the sense that it might seem as though a "mother at home" is truly "better" and "more spiritual" than a working mom. She knows I love God's Word more than anything and wanted to know where I stood on this issue and why. I originally planned to just email her back and share my heart but I realized that if she had this question, maybe there are others of you who have the same one:) (And, just so you know, she knows that I am sharing this will all of you!)

I will be honest...I address this issue with fear and trembling and only because I feel God is laying it on my heart to do so. I have DEAR friends on both sides of this equation and my desire is not to hurt ANY of them!!! In fact, my desire is truly to step out of the way and stick to Scripture as much as possible!:) Don't read between the lines :) but do read each word knowing that it is written in love!

There is no Biblical mandate that requires women to be at home full-time. You just won't find it! Nor will you find Biblical mandate that says women must work out of the home, although you do find reference to some sort of employment by a few women when you read about Leah, Dorcas, Priscilla and even the Proverbs 31 woman.

What you do find, though, is Scripture on what a mother IS supposed to look like when it come to the home. I Timothy 5:14 says that we are to "manage our homes"(the Greek term for this phrase denotes all the aspects of household administration , not just raising the kids) and Titus 2:5 says that we are to be "workers at home" or "homemakers". You can't read about the Proverbs 31 woman without recognizing that home was her primary sphere of work,too.

The key word in all of this, too me, is the word PRIMARY. God has called us, as women, to make our husband, kids and home our primary ministry(Titus 2:5). There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Scripture is clear! What is not always so clear is how that will look in each and every woman's life. I am not trying to walk the middle line to make everyone happy... but bear with me while I explain.

Approximately 75% of women in our country are in the "work force". Clearly, our world sees a woman working as not only acceptable, but the norm. Which actually makes ME the odd duck out!!! That could leave me feeling very unsure about the choice Bryan and I are making in regards to me being at home. Just as a woman working could feel unsure about being in the workforce (whether she is there due to debt, husband's desire or her own personal choice) when she reads books or articles that talk about "Christian women" staying home. It actually can put both "sides of the issue" into confusion or at least uncertainty as to what they are supposed to do.

But that is the beauty of God's Word EVERYTIME!!!! We never have to be confused or uncertain. We never have to fear if we are making a wise choice. Proverbs 3:5-6 is an oldie but goody that we can cling to: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths". We acknowledge God by going to His Word, by obeying His truths and submitting to His plan for our lives!

So, that leaves each of us in a place of self examination (and that might include some insight from our spouse or a dear, godly friend :)). We have to go to God's Word and ask ourselves if we are obeying His call for our lives...whether we work or we are at home. Here are some questions, taken from Scripture, to ask ourselves: Are we loving our husbands, first, and our children next of all? Are we doing our husbands good and not harm each day? Can our husbands trust us and know that all is well when it comes to the "homefront" (since we are called to be the managers). Are we following Deut. 6 and talking about the things of the Lord with our children whenever we are with them? Are we lazy or do we work hard? Are we providing meals for our household? Does our family have clean clothes to wear :)? Do we discipline our children diligently (Proverbs 13:24,23:13)? We set the "tone" in our home, what tone is it? Are we giving glory to God whether we eat or drink or whatever we do? Do we laugh and live life joyfully?

Sure, there is not one of us who will live this out perfectly...or who will not fail in some areas multiple times a day! But the question really is, "Are these things our priority and how can we best accomplish them right now?" Many of us are in different seasons of life which creates different sets of circumstances! But one thing that never changes, that never goes through seasons and that is a constant standard is the Word of God. Everything we do or not do must be done in light of His Word. So, for me personally, both Bryan and I know that I could not maintain a job outside of the home and still do the things we believe God has called me to. That may not be what it looks like for you...but I rejoice that what it should "look like" for both of us is a passionate, Godward focus that affects everything and everyone around us!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Take me out to the ballgame!



Well, it is official. Micah is a CUB in minor league baseball this year!Although, as most of you know, we are a die hard Red Sox family...we can't help but be pleased to be rooting on the CUBS this season (not only is it my Grandpa's favorite baseball team but Bryan appreciates the their old stadium, the classic logo they have, not to mention their die hard fans...in his exact words "The Cubs are like the the Red Sox of the National League.":) And truthfully, in the end, the only thing we cared about was Micah NOT being on the Yankees :)

Bryan found a Cubs hat in our closet that he gave to Titus and he doesn't want to go anywhere without that hat on! He told us that he is going to be a Cubs fan first and a Red Sox fan next (better get to work straightening him out, Papa!).

We are excited to be able to cheer Micah on (it's looking like he will play short stop again...or maybe 2nd base) and, Lord willing, be a light for Jesus to the parents as well as Micah with his teammates. We are praying the Lord gives us opportunities to share "the hope that we have".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!


It is with a heart that is doing cartwheels of praise that I share with you the good news we received today. We have a court date and it's MAY 15TH!!!!!! That is only 6 weeks away, which is such a sweet and unexpected blessing. We figured it would be at least 8-10 weeks away.

Here is what happens on the court date: CWAE staff in Ethiopia will represent us at the court hearing and the boys will be represented by the orphanage director. All the paperwork will be turned in and accounted for. After a, Lord willing,successful court date we will be given an Embassy date for 5 weeks later when we will then go to get the boys. Based on doing some quick math, that could mean we are in Ethiopia right around June 19th!!!

As with any adoption, and with what we have already experienced...this is the "typical" outline of how things should go. In recent months, court dates have been postponed due to various reasons and have had to be rescheduled. The court held a meeting with all adoption agencies back in February in an effort to help curb the many postponements that kept taking place. So, Lord willing, we will pass on the first date!

We are rejoicing as a family to know that these precious boys will, indeed, be apart of our family and we wait with great anticipation to see just when the Lord will bring them home!

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You." Psalms 39:7


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: My case worker just emailed me back in response to a question that I asked and typically only 50% of all the court cases pass the first time. There are no percentages with God, but please pray that we might fall into that 50% that pass, if it be His will!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's your ministry?


If you don't keep up with the blog "Girltalk" and you are a mother with children, I would highly encourage you to take an extra couple of minutes to check it out over the next week or so. They are addressing the issue of moms making the best use of their time. The following is an excerpt from two days ago and was a needed encouragement for my soul:


"Mothers are responsible to mold and shape lives; to raise children who, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “require not so much to be taught anything as everything.”

That’s why, if there’s one concern I have for this generation of mothers, it is the potential for distraction.

Blogs, facebook, twitter and texting allow moms at home to stay connected with the outside world like never before; the Internet makes it possible for women to contribute skills and gifts to the church and the marketplace, while at home with their children. These are all tremendous blessings, and when used wisely, can bless and serve our families and glorify God.

But we must be watchful that these “other things” don’t distract us from our primary task of mothering. We must walk carefully through this season, with all its opportunities, and make the best use of our time with our children.

Truth is, we can’t effectively train our children on the side. We can’t discipline them here and there. We can’t teach when we’ve got a free moment. We can’t mother intermittently.

Inconsistent training is ineffective training.

If we are distracted by projects or pleasure, we may miss valuable teaching moments, opportunities to encourage, disobedience that requires discipline, or a chance to show affection. These moments, once lost, are gone forever.

So ladies, may I encourage you, as I do my own daughters, to give training and discipline your first and full attention. Walk carefully, and keep your eyes on the mothering road."


On my way down south I listened to a Q&A with Patricia MacArthur (John MacArthur's wife) and one of the things she shared was that our family needs to be our first priority. It is our number one ministry to take care of our family. So often we get so busy being involved in so many other people's lives, at the expense of our own family. People who we will, most likely, not even be around 5/10 years from now (due to moving, etc..) but our family will ALWAYS be around. How will they remember us using our time?

I believe with all my heart that we are called to be apart of the body of Christ. That we are called to build one another up, to exhort each other to love and good deeds and to disciple others. But all those things must start FIRST in our own home, and then, as God gives us opportunity and availability, outside of our home. So, I ask you the same question I am asking myself...How's my number one ministry going? :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

What marks your life?

"Enjoying the infinitely Enjoyable is no great feat. Unless you are spiritually dead."

When I read that quote from chapter 4 of "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper I was struck with the simplicity and yet great depth of it. I am becoming more and more convinced as I read the Bible that the believer's life should be marked by JOY. I am not saying we will not have times when we are fighting like crazy for joy and it seems like it is just out of reach. And, it's times like those where we need to meditate on the Word of God and WHO God is and cry out with David, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation!" But, as a whole, our lives should be joyful (not always happy...but always joyful...and there is a difference!).

Here are just a few verses about joy:
"...rejoice with joy that is inexpressible..." I Peter 1:8
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks..." 1 Thess. 5:16-18
"The joy of the Lord is your strength" Nehemiah 8:20
"You (Lord) have put more joy in my heart..." Psalm 4:7
"For You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work, and at the works of Your hand I sing for joy." Psalm 92:4

As the watching world looks on, I believe that one of the greatest reasons they might ask us to "give a reason for the hope that is in us" (I Peter 3:15) is because they see a JOY in us that just doesn't make sense to them. A joy that is missing in their own lives.

I think the second part of the quote is honest and scary, too! To not enjoy the Lord, to not live a life rejoicing in HIM should cause us to actually question whether we are ALIVE in Him. To genuinely examine our lives and see if we "be in the faith".

I pray that the Lord would cause you and me to be rooted and established in Him and His Word that it can't help but spill over into joyful living in every area of our lives. And, believe me, I am preaching to myself most of all! :)

A Thankful Heart!



Have you ever had somebody do something for you that left you so blessed and so thankful and yet fully knowing there was no way you could ever repay them? The funds that have come in for our adoption have made us feel that way...but I also felt that way this past week while visiting in California.

We have not been able to open the door on the back of our van for over a year due to a car accident in which our van was totaled...but still able to be driven (and drive it we have for the last year!). You can imagine the inconvenience of it all...especially after a trip to Costco!:)In fact, we permanently left our car top carrier on the van to hold those extra items! And, if I am being honest, it is very humbling to drive around in an old van with the back end scrunched up. I have often referred to our van as my humble-mobile!

In comes the blessing: I went out for the day last Tuesday with my dear friend, Wendy, and, while we were gone, her husband Kawika and brother-in-law Tony took apart the back end of our car and, after 10 hours of work: fixed the door, punched out some of the dents, straightened out the bumper, cleaned the inside and outside of our van and waxed it too! All without me having a clue it was going on till I got home that night!!!

It was a labor of love that I could not repay...and I honestly felt my words were inadequate to express my gratitude. And I realized that those same emotions that raced through my heart are very similar to the emotions I should feel every time I think about my Savior! His labor of love was a laborious death...for MY sin. Although I owe Him everything, there is absolutely nothing I can do to repay Him. I can add nothing to His worth nor give Him something He does not already call His own. But with a heart overflowing, I CAN worship at His feet, praise Him and give thanks to His name. I can tell of His wonders, offer my body a living sacrifice and strive, through the Holy Spirit, to be holy as He is holy. I can be glad and exult in my Redeemer.

Every time I open the back of my van, I pray that I do so not just with a thankful heart towards Kawika and Tony but with a heart full of thanksgiving to the God to Whom their service was ultimately directed and to Whom all praise is due!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A look back!

If a picture is really worth a thousand words...than this will officially be my longest post:) Hope you are able to catch a glimpse into just what a blessing this trip was for us!


Thank you so much, dear friends, for opening up your home, your heart, your food, your computer:) and so much more to us! We had a sweet, sweet time of fellowship and fun and can't wait till the next time!


"...the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself." 1 Samuel 18:1


Do you have friends who it seems the second you start talking to them, your conversation immediately goes to the things of the Lord and stays there...and you end up leaving feeling so refreshed and encouraged. These are some of those friends and that was one of those times!


What would a visit to California be without a trip to In and Out Burger. Plus, my husband made me promise to go on his behalf:)


23 children and their moms = most of my old Bible Study:) It was so good to see everyone and a joy to watch the kids have so much fun playing together. What a group!


Thanks for another night at your house, Horne Family! Titus loved camping out in Grant's bedroom!


Papa (my dad) was officiating a softball game that was just a couple minutes off the highway we were traveling on as we headed home. I'll be honest...I just wanted to get home, but the kids trumped me with giggles of delight at the thought of getting to see Papa being an umpire! So, we stopped and stayed an inning and we were all glad to give Papa a hug!

WE GOT THE PAPERWORK!!!!


Long story short...the gal that I normally work with at CWA is out this week and her "back-up" was out sick today, but I was able to touch base with another gal who works with Ethiopia and, from the report she received, the paperwork that was needed for us to adopt the boys came through and was submitted so that we can receive a court date!!!! We all did a "happy dance" in the kitchen when I got off the phone and joined together in a prayer of Thanksgiving for this sweet blessing from God!!!

The road is still long. It will be a couple weeks before we find out about a court date and the court date is at least 8-10 weeks (or more) after that. If the court date is successful (sometimes it can take a couple of times for a successful court date!) then we will be headed over there about 5 weeks later. So, doing the math, it looks like at least another 17 weeks from now...maybe sometime in July?!:) But that is just our "human math"...God's math may look completely different as it has already! :)

So, while we wait we will join the the Psalmist in Psalm 62:5 "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him." And, right now, join us as we continue to do the happy dance and lift up prayers of Thanksgiving to the Lord! :)

P.S. I'll post more pictures this weekend from our road trip...but this news was worth sharing right away!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Different Spirit

"But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went and his descendants shall possess it." Numbers 14:24

The Israelites had been sentenced to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as they waited for those 20 years of age and older to die off. They had rebelled against the Lord and disbelieved His promise that He would take them into the Promise Land. All, that is, but two men....Joshua and Caleb. Joshua would end up being called to lead the Israelites and we see the high commendation from God that Caleb received in the verse above.

My heart can't help but cry out that God could say those words of me, too! That I have a different spirit...a heart that beats, not for itself, but for Jesus Christ. That my attitude, actions and words declare a bold trust in God's plan for my life...even in the midst of "giants". That I, like Caleb, would obey not only when it's easy and I can see the immediate benefits...but also when it's scary and I am blinded from even seeing where my next step will land.

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A letter from the Boss


Dear fellow employees:

As the CFO of this business that employs 140 people, I have resigned
myself to the fact that Barack Obama is now our President and that our
taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way.

To compensate for these increases I figure that our Clients will have to
see an increase in our fees to them of about 8%, but since we cannot
increase our fees right now due to the dismal state of our economy, we
will have to lay off six of our employees instead. This has really been
eating at me for a while, as we believe we are family here and I didn't
know how to choose who will have to go.

So, this is what I did. I strolled through our parking lot and found six
Obama bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these
folks will be the first to be laid off. I can't think of a more fair way
to approach this problem. These folks wanted change; I gave it to them.

Sincerely,

The Boss

(A guy in our church wrote this and at first I thought it was a serious letter - which made the ending all the more funny. I just about died laughing)

Clouds and Trials


Numbers 9:15-23 "Whether it was two days, or a month. or a longer time that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out."

As I read the verse above and the ones surrounding it, I couldn’t help but place myself in the Israelites shoes and realize that, I too, would have been just as guilty of the grumbling and complaining that characterized their lives. Can you imagine setting up camp, trying to make everything look homey and organized…flopping down into bed exhausted at the end of the day only to wake up the next morning and see “The Cloud” lifting from the tabernacle and realizing you would be packing up and heading on again. Or imagine being in one spot for a month…finally settling into a routine, finally feeling a little bit comfortable with your new surroundings and feeling yourself start to “relax”…and then you see “The Cloud” rising above the tabernacle and your heart starts to sink. WHY?

They were forgetting, in those moments, what we can now see more clearly as we look back and read the account in the Bible.“The Cloud”, which to them must have seemed like one big trial after another was actually the THE LORD leading them faithfully to the Promise Land. It was the Lord reminding them daily to “look up”…to keep their eyes fixed on Him each and every moment for direction and guidance. It was the Lord keeping them from becoming too focused on the temporal by reminding them daily, weekly and monthly that this world is not their home.

I couldn’t help but be hit with the reality that our trials are very much like the cloud the Israelites followed. They come in various shapes and sizes…but they come often, none the less. They come through the mighty hands of God to sanctify us, to help us keep our eyes fixed on the Lord as we wait on Him and to remind us that the goal in life is not to be comfortable…it’s to be like Christ! We can consider them all joy knowing where our trials (both big and small) are leading us…ever closer to the Promise Land. Ever closer to Heaven. Ever closer to eternity with Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

I pray that today we might recognize anew God’s sovereignty over all things and, as a result, do all things without complaining and arguing and find great joy in the fact that God IS truly working out all things for our good and His glory!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Always a "divine appointment"

I have a link to the left side of my blog for a blog called "Urban Servant". This gal and her hubby have a beautiful family and are so passionate about adoption! I love reading what God is teaching her as she raises these precious kids and a post from a few days ago about transracial adoption was just BEAUTIFUL!!!! I want the things she shared to be the way our family lives too! ENJOY!

Some days I can’t get through one aisle at the grocery store without a curious person stopping to ask about our family. I know we are intriguing. I shop with 10 kids, age 12 and under, with African-American, Caucasian and Cherokee all represented in their patient faces. To the world at large we are a blazing city on the hill or at least a passing carnival.

There is no way to hide our calling when we are out in public and the human truth is that there are days when I really embrace the message of Matthew 5:14-16 and others that I just want to skip those verses altogether and go back into my homogenous, self-centered, two children, double-latte life. But God says in His word - “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to the whole house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Every time we walk out our front doors people are watching. What does your life testimony say when you walk out? Is it pleasing to God? I hope so! I hope that you are reading this because you have felt the call on your life to accept the blessing of a child who God raises up from somewhere outside your womb. And if you are not called to adopt yourself, I urge you to support those who are.

I pray as I’m writing that your ears will hear the call of the Lord on your life and be deaf to the clanging cries of the world. Adoption is hard, and transracial adoption is always out on public display so it is always hard. But that’s not bad. When we walk to the park, or the zoo or the museum, it is almost guaranteed that God has a ‘divine appointment’ waiting for us there. It’s taken a long time for me to embrace the moments I have been given to let my light shine so that God might be glorified, but I am learning. It’s living out of the call from 1 Peter 3:15 “…to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” I admit I never thought about it before we adopted, but nine years and seven blessings later I have a solid trust in he who placed us on the hill.

When you adopt children who look like you there is a lot of attention for a brief time and then people sort of forget and strangers don’t have a clue, so the public part of adoption is pretty much done (excepting medical issues and genealogy projects in school). But when you adopt transracially that phase is never over – the fact that God built your family though adoption is always right out front, always an opportunity to give Glory to our Father in heaven. So get your testimony ready, soften your heart and receive the questions from strangers with joy because YOU get to tell them about the God who made your family beautiful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beauty in Butterflies



I was so excited to get the our dear friend’s house and find that they were conducting a science experiment...or should I say…observing God’s creation in a really special way. They were waiting for butterflies to emerge from their cocoons. And the last couple of days that is exactly what they have been doing! It was a beautiful opportunity to talk to the kids about the transformation that God does in our hearts… and I thought I would share with you our conversation with them (after doing some research on the internet first!).

Did you know that a caterpillar does not simply grow wings while tucked safely away in his little cocoon… he changes completely. He loses 6 legs and 3 segments of his body. The number of his eyes decreases and his jaw is replaced by a sucking tube. Not only that, but when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, his entire purpose changes as well. The caterpillar is really rather destructive in purpose. He feeds on trees and plants, often destroying their beauty in the process. Once he turns into a butterfly though, his entire intention changes, as now he is largely responsible for the germination of plants and flowers.

That is so true when Jesus saves us from our sins! We lose our heart of sin…our stone heart (Ezk. 11:19)…and are given a new heart. The old, dead person and our sin nature are gone and we become a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). We don’t lose legs and other body parts, but we lose the chains that bind us to sin (Romans 7:6). We no longer live our lives in sinful destruction…destroying everything in our path. INSTEAD, God changes us, transforms our lives into something beautiful, something new! While we may not have beautiful wings, we have something more beautiful…the beauty of GOD in us through the Holy Spirit! Our lives no longer leave a path of destruction behind us…but we are used by God to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of HIM everywhere (2 Cor. 2:14).”

And we also were able to relate this beautiful metamorphosis to both of our upcoming adoptions. We encouraged the kiddos that although they may feel like they are “losing” things when we adopt (maybe less time for just them and mommy and daddy, not eating out that much or some other “extras” as money will be tighter, having to consider even MORE people as more important than themselves), adoption is a special way that God can transform a family! Because adoption, just like caterpillars and butterflies, is HIS creation too! Not only is God an adoptive Dad…He has adopted us...but He planned before the foundation of the world that Jesus would be adopted too while He was on earth…by Joseph! Through adoption we also receive the beautiful joy of sharing the gospel day in and day out with more souls that will never die and will, one day, spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell! We grow wings of wonder that God would call us to show forth His beauty to new little lives and to testify to His amazing grace!

After today butterflies have taken on a new and sweeter meaning!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Are decisions enough?

Bryan is taking our youth ministry through the book "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper and it has been a deep, beautiful look into what it truly means when the Psalmist says to "Delight yourself in the Lord".

Let me quote some of chapter 3 and then I'll comment on it: "Many people try to define true Christianity in terms of decisions and not affections. Not that decisions are unessential. The problem is that they require so little transformation. Mere decisions are no sure evidence of a true work of grace in the heart.People can make "decisions" about the truth of God while their hearts are far from Him." (Kristin insert: reminds me of Bryan's post about Judas!)
1 Peter 1:8 says, "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." And in regards to this verse Jonathan Edwards says, "true religion, in great part, consist in the affections."

Okay, if it didn't all make sense, read it over again...and again! Joy and delight in Christ should mark the believers life, plain and simple!!! And these truths cause me to fall on my knees before God asking for great wisdom when it comes to parenting. As a parent, it can be so easy for me to want/ask/wait for a decision from my kids...for an act of obedience or a response of respect without ever caring about where their hearts are. Without ever probing to see if there is a God ward transformation taking place. Without shepherding their hearts to LOVE God and to DELIGHT in obeying Him.

And I cannot parent this way until I am, first of all, living a life of genuine affection for my King. Until my delight in Him is so full that it spills over and cannot help but flood the hearts of my kids! And Piper had some great words of encouragement for what to do when the feelings of joy are just are not there. He says:
1)Confess the sin of joylessness.(Psalm 61:2)
2)Pray earnestly that God would restore the joy of obedience. (Psalm 40:8)
3)Go ahead and do the outward demension of your duty in the hope that the doing will rekindle the delight.

Above all, we need to remember that though there are days where joy seems impossible and our feelings are anything but full of delight...God promises that His grace is sufficient and His power is perfected in our weakness...and God always keeps His promises!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fridge Food for the Soul!

I don't know what it is, but whenever I spend any amount of time in someone's kitchen my eyes are drawn to the fridge and I am off looking at pictures of people I don't even know and reading whatever papers have been stuck to it. It's not that I am trying to be nosey...it's just curiosity! Plus...if it's out in the open, it IS fair game, isn't it?!:)

Well, the last few days I have been slowly looking at my friend Wendy's fridge and she even teased me today..." Why do you keep looking at my fridge? Do you really think you are going to find something new on it?" Guess what? I DID!!! It was an old post from girltalk and it was much of what I have been thinking about the past few days as I battle my own desire for "peace and quiet" while recoginzing the precious responsibility of diligently training my kids in God's truth. Hope it encourages you too!


"Mamma's Word"
This past week (in between caring for my poor husband who contracted a stomach virus) I’ve been intently focusing on the discipline of my three boys. It’s so easy for me to overlook or tolerate half-hearted obedience: children who comply (at least by the second command), but make it clear through a facial expression or body language that they don’t want to obey.

However, along with Brian, I am responsible to teach them to obey the first time and with a joyful heart. Because after all, this is the obedience our Heavenly Father requires.

So often my unstated goal in mothering is “peace and quiet” for me. (Although, I’m not sure why I think that’s likely with three boys!) But God has called me to a higher purpose in mothering—to train my boys to obey their parents so they will receive the blessing and favor of the Lord and so their hearts will be tender and open to the gospel.

Recently my mom pointed me to this quote a friend shared about Elizabeth Prentiss—author of one of my favorite books, Stepping Heavenward. This powerful description of this godly mother is worthy of posting on my refrigerator:

“With her children she was a model disciplinarian, exceedingly strict, a wise lawmaker; nevertheless a most tender, devoted, self-sacrificing mother. I have never seen such exact obedience required and given, or a more idolized mother. ‘Mamma’s’ word was indeed law, but—O happy combination!—it was also gospel.”

I pray that God will help me to be a faithful and “wise lawmaker,” but that my word would not just be law, but gospel too!

Posted by Kristin Chesemore on November 13, 2006 at 04:54 PM in Motherhood | Permalink

Friday, March 13, 2009

Catching up!



Yesterday we drove to Pittsburgh, CA to visit my brother James and his wife, Kimiko and her family! They were up from Southern Calif. taking some vacation time! We had such a good time catching up and it was fun having lots of babies around (Kimiko's sister, Sumiko, has twin boys that are almost a year old!).

We also got to spend some time with my kid's adopted grandma, Miss Bonnie (their former pre-school teacher!) and her husband, Curt in the evening. Of course, that meant being extra spoiled...McDonald's Happy Meals, a swim in their hot tub, and all the cookies they wanted!:)

Coffee


Disclaimer: This is not Kristin. My wife is an amazing wife, mom and my best friend. There are many things she claims I am “better” at than she (debatable) - however I will take.. wiffle ball I can totally destroy her (smile). But writing is something that God has truly enabled her to do. I on the other hand have been beaten with the anti-writing ability stick. I can not communicate through written words if my life depended upon it. Having said this I now ask that any writing errors be forgiven as well as ask that you not look down on my wife’s blog as a result of my 3rd grade writing skills. Having said this I still desire to the best of my limited and embarrassing level - share with you an account that occurred today. I went for coffee today with Judas Iscariot (the traitor). I spent hours with him picking his brain and swimming through his sinful mind. I was prepared to walk away from my study for the most part unmoved. Yet I was overwhelmed and had to tell someone (with Kristin being away and I home alone with the dog )- this is my only outlet.
Judas’ call to be a disciple is not recorded in Scripture and yet he obviously was called. He like any of the disciples gave up much to follow Christ. He had a “life,” a job, house etc. He like Peter (and the others) turned his back on it all to follow Christ. Judas shared with me through passionate tears of all he did, said, saw, and how he even followed Jesus after his message (recorded in John 6) when so many others left never to follow again. He was there to see the feeding of the 5 thousand, Jesus walking on water, blind men seeing, and dead men raising! He looked strait into my eyes and asked - “Have you done that? Have you seen that? I did and I was!” He then opened the Scriptures to me and showed me a number of texts explaining the meaning and then went a step farther and stated he was there when Jesus Himself spoke it. Then he began to tremble and his skin went pale and through pain (real emotional bone gripping pain) uttered this “I…I am the traitor? Look at what I have done? Sure I sold out, but look at all the other things I did…How dare you or anyone else label me, forever- traitor!” He put his coffee down as if to communicate -I am through with you. I have to admit I was convicted of my own weaknesses, but I had to ask… ”Judas before you leave... your right you do not need to answer to me, but what did Christ say?” After a long very awkward pause he quietly answered “I never knew you” He then mumbled “Never knew you? Never knew you? Never knew you? How could He say that?” He left without uttering another word and I was left there with half of a latte with this great reality - He had given his life to follow Jesus BUT he never gave Jesus his heart! The other disciples had no idea he would sell out, like so many of my own friends who if you asked me 10 years ago “Would so and so sell out?” I would have shouted “NO!” Not in a million years will they show to be a fake. Yet I like you most likely have a list of Judas’s who seemed so real, passionate, faithful…I left the coffee shop with a pit in my stomach. How many do I minister to today will in a few years show their true colors of unbelief? How many do I call friends who are truly lost but seem so saved? How many will become a statistic in some Barna survey? I am therefore left with this: Heaven and hell once again became very real to me today. Life is short and eternity is very long… Father, put fire in my bones not to see life as a game to be played but a battle to be fought.

Thoughts to ponder


We had a guest speaker, Dr. Art Azurdia, at our church this past Sunday. I met him for the first time that day...but he is a name I have heard many times before and, in fact, my dad taught his class for him at Western Theological Seminary a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, Dr. Azurdia taught on the story of Rahab, the prostitute, and it was a precious, convicting, encouraging, Bible-saturated message that really blessed my heart!

I am not going to try to type out his message for you all, although I wish I could....actually, if you have some extra time and you are trying to figure out how to wisely use it...click HERE! You can listen to it yourself! What I would like to do is just give you a few sentences from his message that have caused me to think and ponder and meditate!

The truth is, as I read a book or listen to a message, etc., I often walk away feeling so frustrated with myself and my lack of comprehension of what I am reading or listening to. But I am learning that I need to START those times PRAYING that God would help me to learn what He wants me to learn...to remember and cling to specific truths that I read and hear. And then, to trust that God is going to use the Holy Spirit...my Helper...to accomplish His will in my life and transform me a little bit more day by day into HIS likeness!

So, here are some bite size pieces for you!

1)We cannot NOT sin...we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners!

2)Rahab is always listed in the Bible as "the prostitute"...not to demean her but to lift high the grace of God and HIS power in her life!

3)Faith, in and of itself, has no value...the value is the object in which you place your faith.

4)Grace is the root out of which emerges the fruit of faith.

5)For all people God does somethings. For some people God does all things.

Just pick even one of these truths, search the scriptures, meditate on them, wrestle with the statements made...and feel free to post your comments or even you questions. Each statement deserves it's own post, truly!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Travel: Day 1 and 2

Yesterday was a great day of travel and catching up with friends we have not seen in almost a year! We drove 4 hours and stopped in Bend, Oregon for lunch. My parents were at a pastor's conference a few minutes from there, so they joined us for lunch!

We continued on toward California and stopped about 4 hours later to visit our friends, the Horne's, who had just moved to Montague, California. The view driving to there house (and at their house)is breathtaking!

We are on the road again in a couple of hours to make the final "leg" to Rio Vista. The van ride has been great so far...a combination of movies, bible verse songs and some messages on CD have occupied our time. I talked to the kids as we left yesterday that, even in the car, we need to obey Ephesians 5:16 and "be careful how we walk (ride!), not as unwise but as wise; making the best use of our time..." So, that is our goal and the time has been sweet!

Monday, March 9, 2009

ROAD TRIP!!!


After the busyness of getting ready for the fundraiser last week, you'd think this would be the week to recover and settle back into our routine...not this crazy Pichura Family! :) When our dear friends in Northern California offered to pay our gas so we could come visit them, how could we say no?!!!:) We would probably have waited a week or so to go, but minor league baseball practices are starting up for Micah and we like to follow the model of Jim Elliot when he said, "Wherever you are, be all there!". (Of course, that also explains why we don't do too many extracurricular activities...we'd be such a poor example for the Lord trying to keep up with 4 kids and their busy schedules...so we just don't let them have too much of a schedule and, instead, seek to keep the main thing (Christ and His body, the church) the main thing!:) )

Therefore, I, as principle of the PFA (Pichura Family Academy) do hereby deem it daylight savings time break and we (the kids and I) are off to California in the morning!:) Now, to be honest, although I may seem a bit lighthearted right now...it's only because everything is pretty much ready to go after I spent the day running around like a chicken with my head cut off (who ever thought of that analogy?...it's actually kinda gross to think about!).

So, my posts may be a little bit more sporadic than they normally are but I have some neat things to share with you about clouds and prostitutes (!) and who knows what else so keep checking the blog this week anyway!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What a weekend!


As I sit here getting ready to type, I can't help but think of a verse that, to me, sums up these last several days the best:

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

We are just jars. Sinful people with nothing special in and of ourselves. But the ways in which God chooses to use us to display His glory and His power are both humbling and beautiful. And that is how this whole weekend has felt...both humbling and beautiful! Our prayer, above all, echoes the words of John the Baptist when he said of Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease!"

Our "weekend of blessings" really started Thursday afternoon with an email from CWA. There is hope that the necessary paperwork may have been obtained concerning the boys. We will, Lord willing, know more next week but that was a huge encouragement. A few hours later we got the mail and found a letter from Shaoahnna's Hope ( an adoption ministry founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife). They have given us a grant in the amount of $5,000!!!!!!! My heart was pounding as I read the letter, tears filling my eyes! It's a moment I will not soon forget!

Fast forward to Saturday night and the fundraiser. What a great night! We rejoice in God's grace and mercy throughout the day! We estimate there were around 125 people there...many whom we met for the first time! The potatoes tasted great :), Bryan and I got to share a little bit of our heart for adoption and the process we have been going through, and we had so much help with set-up, clean-up and everything in between. I have yet to get a picture of all the dear ladies that headed this whole thing up...but when I do, I'll be posting that picture!:)We also had the joy of meeting a pastor and his family that live in our town who are adopting a 4 1/2 year old boy from Ethiopia! They should be heading over in May or June to get him and we are SO excited at the thought of Samuel and Caleb and their son getting to play together!

The icing on the cake of this fundraiser was the $2,800 that it brought in. But the true "cake of it all" for us was seeing people fellowshipping with each other, serving others and encouraging our hearts as they came alongside us last night in sweet support! Having said that, we have sought to be transparent throughout this process...not because it is easy or comfortable...but because we want others to see the surpassing greatness of God and the fact that what He calls you to do, He will equip you to do...and that means giving you a financial update!:) To date, we have raised:
$11,500 of "our" personal money (it's really God's, right?!)
$13,000 through love gifts from family and friends and fundraisers
$7,000 in grants
GRAND TOTAL: $31,500 of the estimated $33,000 for this adoption (assuming air fare stays down!)
PRAISE THE LORD!!!!
We believe, wholeheartedly (though some may disagree), that even if there had not been a penny in our savings account, that God would have provided a way, "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (cannot be undone)" (Romans 11:29) both in salvation and in anything else He calls us to do!

Thanks for taking this journey of adoption with us, whether it be through prayer, financial giving or being apart of last night's fundraiser! We look forward to keeping you posted on how God continues to move and work and, Lord willing, brings these precious boys into our home! Hope you enjoy the pictures...and just click on them to make them bigger!:)


There are so many pictures that I want to post...but they have pictures of the boys in them somewhere...whether it be the little flags on the centerpieces or the kids and the shirts they had on. One of my girlfriends from California made t-shirts for my kids with pictures of Samuel and Caleb on them!!! They are precious!

We had our fundraiser at the the church from which our church was "planted", West Side Baptist Church. They had an amazing room that worked perfectly for the potato feed! Each table was decorated with red, yellow or green table cloths (the colors of the Ethiopian flag!) and on it was the "vase" you see in the picture. All the flags had the Ethiopian flag on one side and the American flag on the other side with an oval shape hole with a picture of the boys in it! We also put out Andes Mints and Ethiopian themed coloring pages and crayons on the tables which were all big hits!




This is the start of the long line of silent auction items...51 items to be exact!!! I was able to put a few pictures down below but there were SO MANY other items I just couldn't take pictures of all of them....from a "men's golf basket" to a floral arrangement, to 4 hrs. of electrical work, a free haircut and style, a one hour message, Cookie Lee jewelery, to a "Fitness" basket...and ones for boys and girls, to a pie a month for a whole year gift certificate...and I could go on and on!!! Know that even if I didn't list your donated item...it was very much appreciated and made our evening a reality!!!


This counter top was FULL of desserts by the time of the fundraiser. It didn't stay full long at all. I am pleased to know that there are MANY people with a sweet tooth as big as mine! :) There were beautiful pies, yummy bread, cupcakes, muffins, cookies and even Milkshakes that could be pulled out of the freezer for them (Thanks Major's and Carrie!!!). The hours of work that went into baking on our behalf was amazing...THANK YOU ALL!!!


My sweet girlfriend from California made a couple of dolls like this for my girl's birthdays and she also made one for the auction...I think I should become her advertising agent...isn't the doll just precious?!!!!


Thank you Aunt Sharon, Christi and Trish for the beautiful purses you made!!!!! I would have bought them all had it been up to me :)




These items, among others, were made by people we didn't even know!!!! Our hearts were blessed beyond measure by the outpouring of love and care and the body of Christ, at large, took on a whole new meaning last night! One gal, Sue, offered her time in the churches kitchen for the whole six hours we were there. She scrubbed the dishes, cleaned up messes, loaded and unloaded potatoes...and we had never met each other until yesterday. My eyes well up with tears just thinking about the sacrifice she (and so many others) made on our behalf yesterday!




This is Anne Marie. She is one of the gals in our youth ministry who helped us out with the fundraiser this weekend (thank you to the other dear gals who helped too..and for giving up time on your sweet 16th Birthday, Kate, to help us!!!!). Anne Marie was a extra special gift from the Lord this weekend. She stayed the night on Friday with us and took care of the kids all day on Saturday...and at the fundraiser. I can't tell you the blessing it was to be able to leave my kiddos in Anne Marie's very capable hands and not worry about a thing! Thank you Anne Marie! Your servant's heart was a huge blessing to Bryan's and my hearts this weekend (and my earrings will forever remind me of you!)!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This is it...and you are invited!

We are headed out in about a half an hour to go and set up at the church facility we are using! Last night we washed and wrapped (in foil) 250 pounds of potatoes, got all the centerpieces made up and doubled checked all the details! I took some pictures last night..an almost all of them were blurry ( thanks to an almost dead battery!), so prayerfully I'll have many pictures to share with you from tonight!

I thought I would post the letter and information that the people coming tonight will get when they come in the door... so you can almost feel like you are there!:) Thanks for all your prayers!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING TODAY…

…and supporting us in this adoption process. We are so grateful for all of your help and generosity, and humbled more than we can say just knowing that many of you have sacrificed your time, baking skills, etc…without even really knowing us!

Our family would already be considered a large family by today’s standard. Our firstborn, Garett, was stillborn and we can’t wait to meet him in Heaven. Our son, Micah, is 8 ½, Grace is 7, Faith is 6 and Titus is 4 ½. In light of the size of our family and the closeness in age, others have been quick to comment as to why in the world we would want to add to our family….isn’t it already big enough?!

We have never looked at this adoption as somehow completing our family...as if there is some missing piece to the puzzle we call "The Pichura Family". Our life really is FULL!!! If you have ever visited us for any length of time you know that life in our home is pretty busy, pretty constant and maybe a bit crazy too! To be honest, the thought of adding two more children (who don't even speak English!) to our family is, at times, an overwhelming thought.

But we are not adopting Samuel and Caleb to make our family complete, we are adopting them because we believe, with all our hearts, God is calling us to do so...and the thought of living outside His will and not obeying His leading is just not an option (we already deal with the consequences of our sin far too much as it is!). Now, don't get us wrong, adopting them, just like anytime we truly obey, is in no way a duty but true delight! And the love that He has put in our hearts for these precious boys...boys we have not even met yet....is amazing! And, even still, our love pales in comparison to the love God has for us…a love that sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross to bear the Father’s wrath and make a way for us to be adopted by the King!

We do not expect the task to be easy. It will require much sacrifice for both of us. And we know that there will be times of frustration as thoughts of comfort and ease are nowhere to be found! But we forget often that the Lord doesn't call believers to a life of ease and comfort. Not only should we not expect it but we shouldn't aim for it as a goal (sure, we all need times of rest…but relaxation should never be the goal of life). Paul compares this life we live to a farmer (not much rest for him), a soldier (always prepared, always ready to fight...not concerned with trivial matters) and a runner (we have yet to see "easy chairs" on the track!). Our "rest" is awaiting us in eternity...but for now, there is work to be done!

We want to stop believing the lies the world throws at us that we deserve this and that (etc...) and instead, cling to the promises of Christ when He says that in this world we will have trials and tribulation but we can take heart because the victory is already won (we never have to live defeated!); that what God calls you to, He will give you the grace and strength to see it through and that we will reap a beautiful harvest if we do not grow weary and lose heart.

We are excited to bring the mission field to our home and teach these precious boys, along with our other children, the transforming work of Christ and the power of His gospel. They are children that we will call ours, entrusted to us by God, but, when all is said and done, they will have been adopted not only by us…but by all of you! So, with all of our hearts, we thank you for joining us in this adoption process and being used by God in the lives of Samuel and Caleb and in the life of our family!

His Adopted Kids,
Bryan and Kristin Pichura


CHRISTIAN WORLD ADOPTION AGENCY (CWA):

After prayer and research we decided to go through CWA for our adoption. They had a well established “Ethiopia Program” and we were so impressed that they listed people we could call and talk to who had adopted through them. Those conversations proved to be very beneficial! They also have a list of children (and their photos) that are already waiting for homes and we were able to access that right away. In fact, it was only a couple of days after beginning the process with CWA that we saw photos of Samuel and Caleb!

We also are excited with the work that they are doing not only in Ethiopia but in many other countries to spread the love of Jesus and be His hands to the communities around them. For more information on CWA projects just check out the table set up here tonight. Check out more of CWA at: www.cwa.org

ADOPTION LINKS:

1) Shaohanna’s Hope ( an organization founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife that gives grants and help and encouragement to those adopting and those who have a heart for orphans and want to help in some way ( http://members.shaohannahshope.org/site/PageServer )

2) Together for Adoption – a beautiful website and organization focused first on our vertical adoption (by God) and then secondly on how that spills over into horizontal adoption. They are actually planning a mission’s trip to an Ethiopian Orphanage in June (applications are due by March 9th). How amazing would that be!!! (http://www.togetherforadoption.org/ )

ADOPTION THROUGH THE EYES OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER:

Galatians 4:4-8 “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Ephesians 1:4-6 “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Limping Along


Bryan hurt his knee this past weekend at the Jr. High camp he was speaking at. The Lord allowed it to happen the first night he was there...so it made for a bit of a painful weekend...but still a fruitful one.

He took a side hit to his knee during a game of basketball and tweaked it really good. Nice and swollen! :) He went for an x-ray on Monday and, thankfully, there were no broken bones or tears that our doctor could see. Five day's later, he is still hobbling around and very thankful for his anti-inflammatory pills! What is really interesting to Bryan and I though is that, right now, the worst of his pain is actually in his calf. Because he is walking so oddly he is using muscles in his calf in ways they have not been used before...nor are they meant to function the way they are having to.

I couldn't help but think how often we get in the same spiritual predicament when it comes to using our gifts. God's Word says in Romans 12:6 that we have "gifts that differ according to the grace given to us "and we are to use them! And, in 1 Cor. 12:1-11 Paul writes that all our gifts "are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills."

Clearly, we are called to serve and use our giftedness (so if you are not....repent and start serving!!! :) ), but, if I may speak for "female believers" as a whole :), I think sometimes we find ourselves serving in ways we are not gifted because, well...we just couldn't say no or we saw a need that no one was meeting and our "fix the problem" heart got the best of us. We end up using "muscles" for ways they were not intended and we begin to feel sore, tired and uncomfortable.

Now, don't get me wrong, living a life for Jesus means denying self, taking up our cross (dying to self) and following Him. That is certainly not comfortable and can often be painfully beautiful and there are times we will be called by God to do things that are hard and stretch us greatly...but I hope you understand the context in which I am writing about right now. I guess I am just encouraging myself, and all of you, that if we are feeling sore, tired and even pained...maybe it's time for some self-examination using the Bible as our mirror and maybe our hubbies and/or another godly friend for some council to see if our priorities are lined up with God's and if our service to Him is primarily within our giftedness. (Hint: typically the areas in which you find the greatest JOY in as you serve the Lord are often the very areas in which you are gifted in! What a sweet blessing from the Lord, huh?!!)

Let us all pray that we would not be found "limping along" but that we would be like the lame man, when healed, who went, "walking and leaping and praising God!" (Acts 3:8)

And always know, I am a fallible person...I may not say it all right or may miss key points to be thought through. Always feel comfortable to comment and keep me accountable! :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What are you thinking about?


I figured I would share a little bit more about where our discussion about self-control took us yesterday. Bryan shared a really neat perspective in family devotions last night that I am hoping he will blog about for you, but yesterday morning the kids and I looked closer at 2 Corinthians 10:5,"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of Christ; and we take every thought captive to obey Christ." I talked to the kids (and myself) about the fact that every emotion, desire and action starts with a thought first. So, the key to self-control is having control over our thoughts...or, as the verse says, making our thoughts obey Christ. Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to take time to look at the importance of right thinking. There are sure plenty of verses to dig into!

Proverbs 23:7 "For as he thinks within himself, so he is."

Proverbs 14:15 "The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps."

Isaiah 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord."

Psalm 139:23 "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!"

Romans 12:3 "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

TID-BIT: I was emailed today about how to go about teaching the Word of God in a way that each child understands and is stretched when you have several years age span between children. We are not experts, but one thing Bryan and I have learned is that REPETITION is key! You may ask many "probing questions" geared toward your older children...but always have a few key sentences about the subject you are working through...and keep repeating those same few sentences and keep asking the younger ones questions about those same few sentences. Our older kids usually walk away grasping the whole concept and Titus walks away with a sentence...but in both situations the Word of God has gone forth and we rest on God's promise that it will not return void!

Adoption Article

I always have my eyes wide open for adoption articles and material...and this morning "Desiring God Ministries Blog" posted an article about how pastors can encourage members in their church who are thinking about or are adopting. I thought it was good advice for all of us, too! :) Feel free to check it out HERE or click on the link to the left of this post!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What do you do when your jeans don't fit?


Yesterday I mentioned that I would share with you my struggle with self control...or rather one of my struggles! There are plenty of areas to choose from, but one that specifically has been a real struggle for me these past couple of month is that I LOVE TO EAT AND HATE TO STOP!!!!

Now, before I go any farther, there are probably some of you who are already getting irritated with me. If you know me or see me often, you know that I am not a size 20 and, therefore, how could I possibly have a problem? Or, maybe you are even thinking...who cares...clearly you can get away with it! :) But while my struggle may not show in a huge external way (although some of my favorite jeans that I can't fit into right now might disagree a little with that statement!), my heart is in desperate need of renewal!

No matter how big or small I look, often, it is food that occupies my thoughts...typically once the kids go to bed. I love ice cream...sadly, sometimes more than I love Jesus. God is enough...but there are times when I just can't go to bed without some extra snacks and, in the process, deny (whether I realize it or not) that God is enough. It's not easy to write this down, but it's the truth.

What hit me hard these last couple of days is that, for so long, I have measured my inner man by the size of my outer man. If I looked good and fit into my clothes...I was doing great. If things were tight and I felt "fat", then I needed to "work on" self-control. Even when I have done Weight Watchers (after having my kids) my thoughts were still completely PREOCCUPIED with food....how many points was this item, how many points could I save to have something big later, etc. Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Weight Watchers at all...the problem was and is my heart.

I have not been heeding the wise council of I Cor. 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." And Ephesians 5:16, "Be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise..." In fact, when it comes to eating, I rarely ask the Lord if it is a wise or unwise choice. I have forgotten the advice of Dr. Bridges, "...let the will be kept in quiet, subdued, cheerful readiness to move, stay, retreat, turn to the right hand or to the left, at the Lord's bidding...no step well prayed over will bring ultimate regret." I am great about praying with my family at each meal...but I am realizing I need to pray over every snack too. That actually might keep many of them from ever entering my mouth! :)

So, after prayer,conviction,repentance and a precious talk with my mom...I took the kids to Value Village (like a Salvation Army) and bought myself some bigger pants!:)
Not because I don't care about ever fitting into my favorite pants but because, right now, I care more about my heart "fitting into" God's plan for my life. And, as I am renewed through HIS truth, I trust that my favorite jeans will find their way out of the back of my drawer one day. And, if they don't, I can still rejoice that while "man may look at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

PS I believe it is fair to say that I am not alone in struggling with loving food too much. If you have walked down this road or are on it right now, feel free to share! I know we can all be encouraged, as iron sharpens iron, in how God has grown us in this area!

Monday, March 2, 2009

In need of some fruit!


There have been different actions that have sprung up in our home this past week that have left me confused on what exactly the heart issue was behind the behavior and how I should best shepherd their hearts. Above all, I know we sin because we are not loving Christ more than anything else... not treasuring Him above all things and we talk about that often in our home. But I was also feeling that there was an underlying "lacking" in our attitudes (mine included!) that was in need of examining and repenting of. The Lord made it pretty clear yesterday that what we were all missing was a good heaping of the fruit of self-control!

I'll humbly share my struggle with you about my lack of self-control tomorrow.But, for today, I wanted to share with you how the Pichura Family is seeking to battle this lack of fruit (including all the other fruits of the Spirit!). Bryan and I have decided to focus on one fruit of the Spirit a month (not necessarily in order). We want to take the full month because we believe that in order to be "transformed by the renewal of our minds" (Romans 12: 1-2), it's going to take some time for the truths of God's Word to really sink in and to change the way we think and live!

I started today by reviewing the verses in Galatians 5:22-23 (about the fruit of the Spirit). We had memorized them last year, so they came quickly to the kids mind. Then I talked about what self-control is and actually wrote out the definition on a big piece of paper...I've included pictures to give you an idea.:)In case you are curious, self-control means control of ones own emotions, desires and actions) and I also wrote out the definition for control which is: to exercise authority over or influence over; to DIRECT. Then, we picked (okay..so I picked :)) Titus 2:11-12 for us to memorize this week (and maybe into next week a little too!); And we ended with talking about what self-control looks like in our lives and also explained the hard words in our verse, so everyone knows not just the words but the meaning of the verses we are memorizing.

To be honest, I am not sure exactly why I am sharing all these details with you all:) but, if you are anything like me when it comes to creativity....any and all tid-bits are gladly welcome! Plus, I'd love the accountability of you asking me how our "study" is going and what fruit we are doing next month, etc. My prayer is that, by the end of this year, we are truly a fruity family!:)