Thursday, April 30, 2009

A quote for the day

I love quotes. In fact I am reading a book called "Worldliness" (written by Sovereign Grace Pastors) that is fantastic and full of what I like to call great "one liners"! I hope to share some of those with you in the coming week.

The quote for today is simple but profound. It was made by a believing college football player (Jon Cooper) as he waited to find out if he was picked in the draft.

"Patience under Providence"

I read those three little words and couldn't help but think that they really sum up perfectly my life...and, I would think, the life of every other believer! We are called to live daily in the light of God's sovereignty. Our every breath should be lived in the light of His providence.

"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?"
Lamentations 3:37-38

At the same time, there seems to be an endless sea of waves in the form of trials or situations that call for great patience. For me, those waves come in the form of: waiting for a successful court date, trying to teach a child to read, an unexpected meeting that keeps my hubby away from home yet another night, a "to-do list" that seems unending, fighting children, a little league game in COLD weather...they seem so insignificant as I write them out, but I must admit, they "frazzle me" quickly.

But asking for patience without recognizing the providence of God is like asking for a cone without the ice cream. What makes the cone so good is the ice cream that fills it (believe me...I would know:)) What makes patience possible and beautiful is knowing that each trial and situation is actually a gift from God to grow us and make us more like Him in a way we would not have been otherwise (James 1:2-4).

Patience under providence: a motto to live by!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bible Bee

I read about a "Bible Bee" for kids in World Magazine and then my aunt sent me a link, which caused me to actually look into it!:) I was really excited with what I is the overview:

What is the Bible Bee?

The Bible Bee is a refreshing and motivating Bible memory competition for children and youth. It is very similar to a spelling bee, except contestants are required to recite Bible passages and facts rather than spell words.

Why organize a Bible Bee?

The purpose of the Bible Bee is to promote godly character in children and youth by motivating them to memorize passages and facts found in the Bible. Our ultimate goal is to equip the next generation to be bold ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Where are the Bible Bees held?

Local Bible Bee Contests are conducted throughout the United States in designated local churches, schools, and other meeting facilities. The National Bible Bee Contest is a two-day, world-class event which will be held annually in Washington, D.C.

When are the Bible Bees held?

The inaugural Bible Bee Competition will be held in 2009. Local Bible Bee Contests will be conducted throughout the United States on Saturday, September 12, 2009. One hundred finalists nationwide from each of three age groups will then advance to the National Bible Bee, which will be held November 5–6, 2009.

Who is eligible to participate in the Bible Bee?
Any child or youth from the ages of 7 to 18 may enroll in the Bible Bee.

How do contestants sign up to compete in the Bible Bee?

Contestants may sign up by first reserving a place in a Local Contest and then enrolling online at beginning February 15, 2009. Enrollment includes payment of a nonrefundable $20 enrollment fee. Reduced enrollment fees are available for families with multiple children. The cut-off for enrollment is April 30, 2009.

Bryan had some valid concerns, though. Whenever you turn the Word of God into any sort of competition it can remove the "heart of love for God" from it. The motives turn sour. It becomes all about winning...not all about knowing God. Our son, Micah, who would be of age to "compete" is a very competitive kid by nature...and we were concerned that this might be a stumbling block for him.

But, after reading through all the information given on the website, we really do see this as having more pros than cons and as a neat way for all of us, not just Micah, to learn and memorize more of God's Word this summer!

The deadline is if you are interested, better head over to: real soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Preaching" through pennies

So far the "penny jars" have kept the kids a bit more on their toes. All of our kids but one are spending some extra time on their beds at "rest time" (as we were out later than their bedtimes last night with church friends) and I am sure there will be some if not all of my kids going to bed earlier than normal tonight...but I am encouraged by the "awareness" it has raised in their little minds. But, I don't just want to address their little brains but their little hearts most of, here are a couple more verses we talked about today in regards to keeping things picked up as well as our continuing "Fruits of the Spirit" talk on love.

James 1:22-25 says,"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."

Poor Titus, he was in tears this morning over having to put a penny in his jar for leaving his breakfast cup out. Through tears streaming down his face he said, "Mommy...I didn't mean to...I just forgot." My mommy's heart wanted to just's okay sweet go ahead and take that penny out of your jar. But I picked him up, held him tight and just told him, "Buddy, I know you just forgot...and that is why you are not being spanked. But you need to learn to remember and that is why the penny has to stay in the jar." The verses in James helped the kids to see that our "forgetfulness" can have much more serious consequences than just a messy house or going to bed early. It can become a "habit" that makes it much easier to forget things that matter not only in this life but in the life to come. We also want to know that we are living in such a way that vs. 25 will be true in our lives...that we will be blessed by God!

I also read Phil. 2:3-8 to them:

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

As followers of Christ, we need to follow His example in all things. He set aside His "interests" and died for our sins. We are called to not look at our own interest only, but the interest of others. We are called to live unselfishly. The kids and I read (and took a few minutes to memorize) 1 Cor. 16:14, "Let all that you do be done in love" and we spent a while trying to wrap our brains around the fact that love (agape love) willingly and self-sacrificially serves others...and God is calling us to do EVERYTHING with that kind of love. To seek the interest of others above our own every time. All of our eyes were wide and even a bit uncertain at such a high calling. But, the beauty of it all is, the more we get to know God through His Word, the more we see that there is no way we can even live a MOMENT without His power at work in us. It truly keeps us dependent on Him (or miserable if we are trying to live in our flesh!). And that is a truth that I need to remind myself daily about and my kids need to have ingrained into their precious little noggins!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A jar full of pennies? I hope not!

One of the biggest things that I can tell you that I struggle with as a mom is feeling as though I am constantly picking up after everyone...or trying to round up everyone to find out who left what out and have them clean up the mess. Either way, it is very frustrating and sadly, I am often quick to anger.

To me, it often comes across as selfishness, laziness and not being a good steward of what they have nor seeking to have a servant's heart, etc... :) And, while that is true at least in part, most of the time, my kids do not leave stuff around the house in outright rebellion or with a desire to disobey...they just "forget" or get "distracted". There are times where their actions definitely warrant a spanking...but I really believe they are in desperate need of the "reaping and sowing" principle for these types of situations.

So, the Pichura Family is trying something new starting today. I have taken 4 baby food jars and put their names on it. I have also taken 2 more and filled one with pennies and one with dimes. Every time I find something of theirs laying out, not only are they responsible for coming and putting it away, but then they have to go and put a penny in their jar. The "kicker" is that each penny represents an extra 5 minutes that they have to go to bed early. ( I can already see it now....Faith will get up in the morning, eat breakfast and then have to go back to bed for the rest of the day :) ) If they go a whole day with picking up their things when they are done using them or playing with them then they get to add a dime to their jar (and they get it at the end of the week). And then the process is repeated the next day.

If we are going to be having guests over or going somewhere that would keep them from getting to bed on time, let alone early if they lost time, then they will have to "make it up" by spending the extra time on their bed after their hour of quiet time in the afternoon. I am also aware of the extra endurance that will be required of me to actually FIND OUT who left this or that out...sometimes it is just much easier to pick it up myself and take care of it...but in the end, I am not really helping them nor training them that (just like in the church in 1 Cor. 14:40) all things should be done decently and in order! And,when I do that, I'm also not helping them to see that God has called me to manage our home (1 Tim. 5:14) and I need their help and cooperation! As Micah always loved to say, "Mom, do you need help...because two are better than one" and, as the rest of Eccl. 4:9 goes "...because they have a good reward for their toil."

I have no idea exactly how this will go...spankings are the number one way we deal with sin in the Pichura House :) but both Bryan and I feel that, when it comes to this particular situation, this may be a very helpful tool! I'll try to give you an update at the end of the week!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Puzzling Truth

I love the dollar bins at Target! There is honestly some pretty cool stuff in there!:) On Friday, I picked up some trinkets for Samuel and Caleb (for when we are in Ethiopia) as well as a couple of school workbooks and puzzles. You can't beat a puzzle for a dollar! The girls and I put one of the puzzles together yesterday and I couldn't help but think how much my life is like a puzzle.

There were so many times that we would think we knew exactly where a puzzle piece should go but after placing it in...and then trying to push down REALLY hard to try to make it fit :) we would realize that it just didn't belong there. A couple of times a piece actually seemed to fit and it wasn't till many pieces later that we realized something was amiss and we would spend what seemed like way too much time looking at the picture on the box and trying to figure out where we went wrong.

The same is true with me. A situation arises in my life and, without consulting the One Who sees the big picture, I proceed to make plans (even if they be only in my own heart) and start diligently trying to jam this "piece" of my life into the place I deem best. This may take but a moment...or I may spend a day or more trying to make MY purposes prevail. How quick I am to forget Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."

It can only end one way...with a heart of repentance as I place this "piece" of my life into the hands of God with full assurance and trust in HIS plans for me. And then, instead of living in frustration, I can live, once again, in anticipation and excitement to see just where that "piece" really belongs and just how God is going to use it for my good and His glory! And one thing I can rest assured in, is that the picture that is appearing is more glorious than any puzzle I have ever put together for, amazingly, it is the image of my precious Savior, Jesus Christ!

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another..." 2 Cor. 3:18

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My personal retreat!

Well, I was supposed to be headed off to the coffee shop today, but Micah got a last minute baseball I went out Friday morning. Why I don't do this more often is beyond me! I can't tell you what a sweet time away it was...a time of communion with the Lord and self-examination of my own heart and the choices I was making in my life and in my priorities.

There are so many times I have had the desire to "just get out"...I have felt overwhelmed and tired and have wanted a go shopping or do something just for ME. But, in the end, when I have come home and I fall right back into the same struggles and battles (especially with my own heart) and feel almost worse than if I had never gone out at all. Today helped me realize that if I am truly feeling a need to "get away" the only place that I need to go and should go is to the arms of Jesus! Only He can "give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak" (Isaiah 40:29). It's not that it is wrong to get out and go shopping or some other fun outing...but,like everything else, it's our motive for why we do what we do!

Here is an quick outline of what my time away looked like. It may look different for you...but I STRONGLY encourage you to set aside a special time to run to the arms of Jesus and stay there for a while! I am going to shoot for once a month from here on out!

I got to the coffee shop about 10 a.m. and left at 12:30. I had brought my little Ipod shuffle with me but was unsure if I would use it. I was afraid it might be too much of a distraction having music right in my ears while trying to think on other things. But I am SO glad I brought it. I was way more easily distracted by the conversations going on around me than I was by the music once I jammed the "buds" in my ears! :) All the music on my shuffle is Christ-exalting and I found, many time, that it aided me in having a heart of worship!

I spent the first half an hour reading the Bible (no ipod in my ears!), the second half and hour I simply pulled out my calendar and went over my schedule for the month of May...writing down dates I needed to remember, things I needed to do, keeping days open for just our family and days open to invite others over. It felt good to have a "heads up" for May before it came and went and dragged me along! I spend the following 30 minutes going over a couple of articles that I had wanted to read and meditate on but had not had the time. Both were fantastic! The first was on feeling overwhelmed and the second was on the gospel. My last hour was spent going over the personal retreat material using it as a guide for what God has called me to and if my priorities lined up accordingly or needed some shaking up!

I would stop every once in a while to join in singing the song on my shuffle (don't worry, I didn't really sing out loud...I just looked like a crazy person with my eyes closed and my mouth moving!). And, of course, I had a couple of potty breaks after having my wonderful mocha frappucino! All in all, I really liked the format I used. If I had more time, I probably would have cracked open one of the several books I am trying to read...but it really was the perfect amount of time, otherwise!

I'll try to share some of the things I learned as I sought to be a little bit more like Mary and a little bit less like Martha! It is a beautiful thing to sit in the "shadow of the Almighty".

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Friday, April 24, 2009

Remembering Garett

I am not one to post very many YouTubes...but I will be posting another one today. My girlfriend sent me a link to one that has blessed my heart immensely and still causes my eyes to well up and spill over just thinking about it...and about our son that God took home to be with Him on October 2nd, 1999.

When I had my 20 week ultrasound with our firstborn the doctors discovered abnormalities that, with testing, turned out to be a chromosomal "defect" called Trisomy 18. Most babies do not make it to birth and those who do, do not live very long. Our son, Garett Robert, was among those that did not get to see the light of a day on earth...but instead saw the "light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). He was stillborn 6 1/2 weeks before his due date.

The following YouTube is about another baby with Trisomy 18 who God saw fit to keep on this earth for 99 days. I can't begin to tell you just how beautiful and precious it is...and it brought back sweet memories as well as tears. But they were tears of hope and joy in the God who holds all our lives in His hands!

"...the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Job 1:21b

And I couldn't help but think about the beauty of this post and yesterday's post and what they represent. The Lord took Garett "away" almost 10 years ago...and, here we are, getting ready to head over to Ethiopia to bring home 2 precious boys that the Lord has seen fit to "give" us. BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Learning more about the place our boys call home!

I was thrilled to open my "inbox" a couple of days ago and see that CWA had set up a few youtubes. One, in particular, just blessed my heart immensly. It's a 7 minute clip...but PLEASE find a few moments of quiet (or not so quiet :) ) to watch it. The gals are sharing the relationship between CWA (Christian World Adoption...our adoption agency) and CCCE (Children's Cross Connection in Ethiopia...the organization that runs some of the orphanages in Ethiopia...including the ones that our precious little men are in). It blessed my heart to see just how much they care about each child and how much they take EVERYTHING into consideration in regards to what is best for the children. In fact, international adoption is one of the last options considered for each child...and that truth actually encouraged my heart, just seeing their desire to see kids with their parents/relatives if at all possible, which is our hearts desire as well! Okay...I am starting to ramble...they will share much better than I ever, grab your cup of tea and find out a bit more of what God is doing in Ethiopia!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What should your instruction look like?

My conversation with Grace is obviously fresh on my mind...and I couldn't help but be delighted to read the "Girltalk Blog" today which talked about the way we should converse with our kids. Carolyn Mahaney was specifically referring to teens...but I believe with all my heart that these gems of truth should well precede the teen years. Micah, Grace, Faith and Titus can greatly benefit from this council even now!

My favorite part was about not talking too long (go figure that one :) ) and I LOVED the verse they used from John 16:12, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." How true is that...not only for us...but for our kids, as well?!!

So, click HERE and take a couple of minutes to read...or at least print it out and read it later tonight. You will not be disappointed and your kids will rise up and bless you for it when they are older if you implement it! :)

A Fearful Child

Bryan shared a truth on Sunday that really hit home a couple of nights ago. He reminded us, as parents, that the goal as parents is to help our kids see that, when they sin, they have sinned against GOD first and foremost and then us or someone else secondly. If we don't make that our aim, we will have children that grow up more concerned with pleasing man than pleasing God. So, as a result, when man doesn't see, they feel okay about their sin...not even recognizing that they have sinned against the God who always sees!

Our dear daughter Grace is given to fear easily....especially at night. She is not a fan of the window being open as an intruder might sneak in and she loves the bedroom door being wide open so she can "watch" and hear where we are and what we might be doing as she drifts off to sleep. Well, two nights ago, she got a double was really hot in the girls room so we needed to open the window for a while and, at 9:30 at night, the girls were still awake because the light was shining in their room and the laughter was a bit loud with my grandparents we shut their door.

The tears immediately started and quickly turned to sobs. My first thought was...this is ridiculous and irritating...she just needs to deal with this, get over it and stop crying...she is keeping her sister up and disrupting our card game. Praise God for the Holy Spirit who reminded me that it is ultimately not about me or Faith's need for sleep but that God be glorified. I was able to talk to Grace about the fact that, through her tears and fear she was actually saying to God that she didn't trust Him... that she didn't believe that He is truly in control...that He is her helper and defender and NOTHING can happen to her unless the Lord says so! She was not experiencing the peace that passes understanding because she was not resting in and fixing her eyes on the Lord. What she actually needed to do was not just "stop crying" but repent, put off her fear and renew her mind with God's Word and the truths of who He is...I encouraged her to sing some "Seeds" songs till she fell asleep.

Deep truths for a 7 year old? Maybe over the top you might be thinking? NO WAY! If my precious little girl doesn't learn to fight against her fear now, it's only going to get harder to take her thoughts captive! We have the beautiful and awesome responsibility of pointing our kids to Christ NOW...and we dare not miss an opportunity to do so...sandwiched in by lots of hugs too, of course!:)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheering for our All-Star!

Saturday was the day of departure for everyone...but not before all 17 of us (sorry you had to leave so early, Uncle Steven!) were able to take in one of Micah's baseball games. I don't think there was a cheering section so loud EVER in Yakima minor league history!:) It really was special...for us and for Micah. He got to play 2 positions that he has never played before...catcher for 2 innings and pitcher for 2 innings. I thought the equipment,while he was catching, was going to topple Micah over, but he held his ground! The real highlight came when he pitched, though! He did great! He had 3 strike outs, walked one batter and even caught a pop fly off the mound and then threw it to second for a double play! I know, I's only little league...but as Jim Elliot once said, "Wherever you are, be all there", and we love rooting on our dear Micah!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

He goes by the name of Ed, Edward, Eddy, Dad, Papa and even Opa...but to me, he is Grandpa. I just wanted to share a snapshot of who he is through the eyes of one of his!
My Grandpa is a quiet man...but still very much has an opinion and, when he chooses to speak up, you can be assured he is going to speak accurately and to the point! If it's a gardening question, a "how to" in investing or if you are just wondering what the weather is supposed to be like, my Grandpa is the best person to ask! My Grandpa is also one of the greatest examples to me of truly doing "everything without complaining or arguing". I can honestly say that I can NEVER remember a time in which I heard my Grandpa complaining about something he had to do. He has always been a hard worker and someone you could count on to lend a hand. He never makes you feel like you have asked too much of him or that he doesn't want to help out. In fact, as I write, my dear Grandpa is out in the backyard throwing the baseball with Titus. It's almost 80 degrees out...and I am sure he'd rather be sitting down reading...but he is out there getting a sore arm just to see his great-grandson smile!

Grandpa and I have had a lot of fun over the years trying to beat each other playing cards. And, he is not an easy guy to beat...especially with his card counting ability! He and I both share a love for ice cream and sweets in general...but I still have to learn his secret of eating slowly and in moderation!:) I love my Grandpa and I am so thankful not only to be celebrating his 80th year of life with him but to have some sweet time together in our home! I know it was not the easiest trip for he and my Grammy to make!

Grandpa, in a month where you should be receiving all the presents...I want to thank you for the present I received from you and Grammy in your son, my dad! My dad is a wonderful, godly man whom I love and respect and hold so very dear to my heart. Thank you for the sacrifices that you made, the drum lessons you drove him to and all the untold stories that have helped to make my dad who he is today. Your legacy is a beautiful one and I am so thankful to be apart of it! I love you!

My Aunt Judy (with help, of course!) wrote down all the "titles" for my Grandpa on the back of the essence, a recap of his life. It was so neat to hear many things that my Grandpa did that I didn't even know about!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Precious Times, Precious Faces!

Tuesday started out with snow, hail and rain. I had to keep preaching to myself that even the precipitation out of the sky comes from the sovereign hand of the Lord and that I am to do everything (even looking at the snow in spring) without complaining and grumbling.:)

My Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Judy and two cousins Michael and Joey were going to be arriving the next afternoon...followed by my grandparents, parents, Uncle Steven and then my brother's Paul and David and his wife Michelle. A total of 18 people would be in our home for a couple of days and being outdoors was looking like a slim possibility. Help Lord!!!

God could have answered my prayer in a variety of ways...and He graciously gave us the sun and the warmth that accompanies a beautiful spring days!!! Our 1300 square foot home became much bigger as we spent much time out in the backyard playing whiffle ball.

What a precious little man!!! He actually hit a grand slam in the game!

Sorry was too cute of a picture not to post!

Uncle Steven, Uncle Jimmy and Micah

It was a wonderful time full of sweet memories...and I'll share more tomorrow!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Missing the boat

I am catching a moment in between cleaning up from brunch and visiting with my dear family! There are officially 18 of us here to celebrate my grandpa's (dad's dad) 8oth birthday. What a sweet blessing it has been!

I can't wait to share with you the highlights and pictures of our visit together... but I'll save that for another day! For today, I read something in Mark 6:52 that really caused me to pause and meditate. It was following the feeding of the 5,000.
The disciples were out on the water, in a storm, and Jesus met them walking on the water.

"Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had no understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened." Mark 6:51-52

I can't help but wonder how that could have were their hearts so hard even in the midst of an amazing miracle like the feeding of the 5,000? Here is my speculation. I don't know that this is exactly the reason... but, as I put myself in the disciple's shoes, I saw an uncanny resemblance.

They had just come back from being sent out two by two...and they were headed out to a "deserted place to rest a while" per Jesus' orders. They get on a boat only to arrive at their "place of rest" to find a multitude of people who had beat them there and wanted to hear from Jesus. I don't know about them...but I would have been ready to hear the Lord tell them to go away, that He and His disciples needed a time of rest. His disciples had needs, too, right?! But Jesus, the ever perfect and precious example, set aside His own "desire" and had compassion on the crowd
(possibly over 10,000 people) and ministered to them...and then performed an AMAZING miracle.

The disciples missed the joy of seeing Jesus in a beautiful and amazing way. Their hearts were hard, I believe, because they were frustrated with the people and maybe even Jesus. Frustrated that it wasn't going their way...frustrated maybe that Jesus was doing something different than what they would have done. They missed out on the glory of the work of Jesus because their eyes were on their own desires and not Christ.

How easy is that for us to do? We don't like something the pastor, Sunday school teacher or nursery worker has done and so we spend Sunday morning thinking how we would do it differently instead of worshiping the Lord. Instead of looking for "evidences of grace" (as C J Mahaney puts it) in the lives of the believers around us, we spend all our time dwelling on the things we think are NOT like Christ and what they need to do to change.

And, through it all, we often miss our beautiful Savior and the work He IS doing and the ways He IS being glorified. He is and always will be on the Throne. No man can thwart His plans and He truly does what He pleases.

Join me in praying that God would help us to rest and trust Him, to keep our eyes fixed on Him ever looking to see how He is working and ever trusting that He will accomplish His plan, not only in our lives, but the lives around us!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Loving God's Biblical Standard

This week is proving to be a busy one...I might not get out a post every day :)
I will give you this quote, though, today to chew on!

"The task confronting parents is not to get children to conform to the standard the parents believe to be Biblical. The task is to bring the children TO LOVE that Biblical standard." C.J. Mahaney

Sadly, it's easy to have the attitude of "because I said so" when we really should lovingly be able to say to our kids "because God says let me show you!"

I pray the Lord would give us all a love and passion for His Word that spills over into our KIDS loving His Word! There could be no greater joy for us as parents than that!

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm pooped! maybe that is not a "gracious" way to title a post...but it's exactly how I feel!:) The last couple weeks have been super busy...and I am still trying to sort out whether some of it was a result of poor planning (that is, planning too much) or not walking in the Spirit and finding God's strength to be perfected in my weakness or God bringing along things that did not "fit" into my plan but He wanted me to do...I am taking my guess that it might be a bit of all three! Not to mention,we did some wonderfully fun things that I wouldn't have traded for anything. But, either way, I sat down last night pretty wiped out and I am feeling a bit tired this morning as well!:)

It reminds me, too, that I am due for a "personal retreat". And I don't mean a day at the spa!:) I was first introduced to the idea of a personal retreat by the gals at Girltalk blog. It really just means taking some time to get away for a couple of hours (or more!), find a coffee shop or a picnic bench and evaluate what you are doing and why you are doing it. Girltalk came up with a great outline to use!

Although this post might seem to have nothing to do with being a godly mom... it has SO MUCH to do with it! Remember...they are watching us and will follow us...and we need to take time (on a regular basis) to evaluate our choices and even daily routines, in light of God's calling for us and the season He has placed us in, and make any changes necessary. I love this verse:

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." 1 Cor. 7:17a

And, for me, that is kind of what a personal retreat looks like...making sure that I am fulfilling GOD'S assignments for me and seeking to please Him most of all! This weekend we have family in town...but Bryan has promised me the next Saturday out North Town Coffee I come!:)

"Be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

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

They are following you!

I mentioned last week that I would take a few days to talk about our kids...or more specifically, the calling God has given us to shepherd their hearts. Bryan is teaching a month long parenting class at church and it has caused me to, once again, exam what I am doing and why I am doing it. You can never go to too many parenting classes in my opinion!!!

He started last week with some foundational truths and one that really caused me to ponder was the following:

"I can't take my kids where I have not first gone myself."

How can I instill a passionate love for Christ in my kids when I, first, am not loving Him passionately? How can I encourage my kids to love God with all their heart, when I am clinging to idols in my own heart? How can I instruct them to do all things without complaining and arguing when my countenance and demeanor displays displeasure in what God is doing in my life?

The answer is pretty simple...I can't. And if I try to, I will be nothing more than a Pharisee...a white-washed tomb, a dirty cup, a viper.

Deuteronomy 6:7 is the beautiful verse that instructs parents to to teach God's truths to their kids ALL the time...but it is key that we not miss the 2 verses before it: "YOU (the parent) shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall BE ON YOUR HEART!" If God's Word is first not IN us, it will certainly not come out of us. For, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks"(Matt. 12:34)

So, we are back to some self-examination. Are you "full" spiritually at the end of the day from feeding on God's Word or are you starving? Are you meditating on the truths you are reading/studying? ( A good way to measure your "meditation" is to ask yourself...Are the truths I am taking in overflowing into my speech with my kids and those around me? If may not be meditating.) Are you memorizing Scripture?

A book that has been a great encouragement to me in pursuing these and other "disciplines" is "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald Whitney...I would highly recommend it! I was also thinking it might be fun to memorize one verse a week together...I know, personally, that I can be memorizing more than I do! Let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Fool's Day!

Okay, so most of you probably found yourself saying "Happy Resurrection Day", "Happy Easter" or "The Lord is risen...He is risen indeed!" today. But, based on God's Word, we could have just as easily said, "Happy Fool's Day".

I Corinthians 1:18-31

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers:not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

In the world's eyes, the cross is foolishness, God's plan is ridiculous and we are to be pitied for living such a wasted life. We are fools. But praise the Lord for His mighty salvation, for giving us eyes to see that what was truly foolish was the futile life we were living apart from Christ. Today, we as believers can and should celebrate with every breath that we have. Through Christ sacrifice we stand forgiven, righteous and justified. Because of His work on the cross in bearing the Father's wrath for our sin, we now live a redeemed, Spirit-indwelled life. As a result of the shed blood of the spotless Lamb, we have hope...true hope, abundant hope...not only in this life but in the life to come!

Call me a fool but I will never stop rejoicing in the cross and proclaiming with Paul "Thanks be to God for His inexpressible GIFT"!!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Birdhouses and Baseball

We headed down to Lowes today (for the first time) for their FREE craft for kids. Today they were offering birdhouses...and so we now have 4 birdhouses waiting to be inhabited! It was really fun and the kids loved swinging a hammer. They came home and painted them, too. I actually set up all the paint stuff on the table and then left the room.:) The mess can be a little overwhelming but they have so much sometimes it's best for me to walk away and let them go nuts!:)The kids also got to giggling over their daddy's funny antics while we were at Lowes!

Today was also the first day of baseball for Micah. I guess it was more of a it didn't count as an official win...but they won!:)
Micah played center field and shortstop and he was 1 for 3 at bat. His one hit was a great one though...right into the outfield and brought in 2 runs! Let the games begin!

Friday, April 10, 2009

"B" Day

I read something a couple months ago in Family Fun Magazine about planning out "specialty days" for your family. And, as someone who is always looking for a way to make memories and create lasting traditions (it seems like life flies by...and there are so few things we do "special" as a family), Bryan and I decided to start a once a month tradition of having a "themed day". Spending a lot of money is not an option...but having a lot of fun is still possible!

So, since it is opening week for BASEBALL and since we love the BOSTON Red Sox...we decided to make today a "B" themed day!:)We started out the morning getting dressed in BOSTON Red Sox's attire and had a BOUNTIFUL Breakfast of Hash BROWNS, eggs and english muffins (I really wanted to do BREAKFAST in BED, but Bryan vetoed that idea!). Then we decorated one pair of each of our honor of the Red SOX's of course! We proceeded to eat BLUEBERRY muffins while BRYAN read a BOOK to us (The Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul - fantastic!).

Our next stop was the BACKYARD for a game of BASEBALL. It was Micah, Grace and Titus (The "Paw Sox") against Faith, Dad and Mom (The BEANHEADS). Poor Faith ended up on the losing team. :) After the game it was off to lunch at BURGER King...thanks to a gift card we had and then back home where I had a bunch of great ideas for more "B" things to do...but everyone else wanted to head back outside for more BASEBALL. Our neighbor heard the kids and Bryan playing and even came over and joined in the action!

We ended the day having some friends over (who's last name just happened to start with a "B"!), eating BEEF and BEAN BURRITOS, enjoying BUNNY Tracks Ice Cream and blowing BUBBLES with our BUBBLE gum while we watched a movie!

I am not sure what we will plan as the theme for next month...but it was definitely worth the thought that went into making it happen!

Thoughts from a Fellow Blogger

Having entered the "World of Blogging" back in December, I am amazed just how many people have their own many GODLY people have a blog! I can literally get lost in a maze of blogs...I start at one only to see another blog on their sidebar with an interesting title...and off I go :) From what I can tell...the same thing can happen on Facebook!

In fact, I am planning to set up some guidelines for myself this week in order to keep myself "in check" and not wasting extra time that I do not have or end up being a poor steward of the time God HAS given me. That is a post for another time, though!:)

One gal that I came across (or maybe it was vic-versa?!) has been a blessing to my heart not only by her blog, but by emails that ensued as a result of reading each others blog. She just made a post a couple of days ago on the decision she and her hubby made to pursue adoption again (they adopted two girls from India a year ago). If any of you are interested in adoption, but you have more questions and doubts than answers, I think her post will encourage your heart.

As for the Pichura Family and our adoption....we keep waiting on the Lord and for the court date on May 15th. We continue to ask for your prayers that, if the Lord wills, this court date might be a success and we can head to Ethiopia to get our boys! We also ask that you join us in praying for the people of Ethiopia...I think it is more heartbreaking than we could even imagine (I got these stats from another blog):
Did you know.....

* * 4 million children are orphaned in Ethiopia, nearly 1 million by AIDS.
* * 1 in 5 children dies before the age of 2.
* * There are 3 doctors for every 100,000 people in Ethiopia.
* * Half of Ethiopia's children under the age of 5 are malnourished.
* * Only 18% of children reach 5th grade.
* * Fewer than 1 in 4 Ethiopians have access to clean drinking water.
* * The average life expectancy in Ethiopia is just 46 years

"Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand; forget not the afflicted." Psalm 10:12

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Typing out a Prayer

A dear friend had asked if I could help her with something via email today and I felt so bad as I emailed back that I just felt like I could not do one extra thing without everything else coming unraveled (ever have moments like that?!). In fact, right before her email I had just been bent over the table, with tears in my eyes, crying out for God's help and strength to sustain me (and no, nothing big going on..just the "day to day" activities feeling overwhelming :) ).

I continued on in what needed to be done, fed the kids and spent a few minutes in the Word and in prayer while I ate lunch and was able to get up from the table praising the Lord for his unfailing love and faithfulness...and STRENGTH! A while later, I headed back over to the computer and saw an email from that same precious friend and, in it, she had typed out a prayer she was lifting before the Throne on my behalf:

Dear God, I ask you to just give Kristin a peace that passes all understanding and that she would "Be still and know that you are God" and that you will walk her through this day as she walks in the spirit and not in the flesh...Give her a gentle answer to turn away wrath and to be an example to her children in all that she is doing to further the gospel today and encourage others in the Lord....May her work be done to glorify You today...May you give her the strength and grace to acomplish all that is set before her and more than that, that she would do it with exceeding joy!! In Jesus' precious name~Amen
Love you dear friend!

To know she had been praying for me...and to "hear" her words although we were not together was such a beautiful blessing to my heart! I also know that my beloved husband,too, has made a habit of asking others how he can pray for them...and then following through by sending an email with his prayer for them included.

It's a habit I would like to pick up, myself. It is so encouraging to know others are praying for you... and it is sweeter still to commune with them before the Throne of God...even if it is in "type print"!

Celebrating Christ's Resurrection

I was reading a girlfriends blog and saw her "Resurrection Eggs" on the table in one of her pictures. I couldn't believe I had forgotten about mine...but was so thankful for the reminder. I know it is a little late for you to purchase them this year, but they are a beautiful way to talk/teach through everything that happened to Jesus the week of his death and resurrection. Each egg holds an object (donkey, coins, whip, etc...) and the little booklet that comes with it gives you verses to read and some thoughts to share. It really is a treasure of a tool. TIP: after going over it with the kids during the week...we like to hide the eggs on Easter and have them tell US the story as they open the eggs :)

Yesterday, my kids had so much fun playing "Bible school" and were using the Resurrection Eggs to teach each other. It was precious!

We also have a tradition of making Resurrection Rolls Easter weekend...and you don't have to order them! :) You will need:

1 package crescent rolls
melted butter
8 marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Give each child a triangle of crescent rolls.
The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in.

Give each child a marshmallow.
This represents Jesus and His purity.

Have child dip the marshmallow in melted butter and cinnamon and sugar.
This represents the oil and spices used to annoint the body of Jesus.

Wrap the coated marshmallow tightly in the crescent roll...bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow inside.
This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body after death.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
The oven represents the tomb (pretend like it was 3 days and nights!)

When the rolls have cooled slightly, the children can open their rolls (cloths) and discover that Jesus is no longer there,

HE IS RISEN! maybe it sounds a bit corny...but my kids LOVE it! And it is one more way to teach them the precious truths that our Savior is risen and reigns!!!

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead..." 2 Timothy 2:8

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Holy Spirit Helpn'

It has been a joke between Bryan and I for quite a while...whenever my "encouragement" starts to spill over into seeking to convict my hubby about something or another...he usually ends up telling me that he doesn't need another Holy Spirit, He already has one! :) It seems funny now...but not always so funny in the middle of my fleshly moment, if you know what I mean!:) And while my husband is completely right...and, in those moments, I am totally in sin...thanks to Elyse Fitzpatrick and her book, "Helper by Design" I am seeing that there are many ways in which I CAN emulate the Holy Spirit and be a blessing to my husband!

Here are some of the thoughts from chapter 2:

I am called to be a helper to my husband (Gen. 2:18) just as the Holy Spirit has been given the role of Helper to us believers (John 14:16,15:26,16:7) and the same way God describes Himself in relation to us (Psalms 28:7,37:40,54:4). What a cool thought, huh?!!! The Greek word for helper is Parakletos which means "called to one's side, to one's aid." We are called to our husband's side and aid much like the Holy Spirit is called to our side and aid!

The word helper can also be translated:"comforter," "consoler," "advocate," "counselor," and "intercessor".

What beautiful thoughts to think and meditate on!...that we are to be our husbands greatest comforter and consoler when he is hurting or frustrated. That we are called to be his speak IN FAVOR of him. That we can give our husband counsel...a high calling that requires a passionate love for God's Word and wisdom to apply it! And that we are given the privilege and the responsibility of PRAYING for our husbands...of pleading before God for our husband's growth in his walk with Lord, a love for leadership in our home,and a passion for God's Word and for the body of Christ, to name a few.

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit that God has left us be our perfect Helper! And I am humbled and awed at the calling I have been given to reflect His likeness as I seek to help Bryan, as imperfectly as it will be done!

So, just maybe, my husband really could use two "holy spirits" in his life after all! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Circus Fun!

A "sneak peak" of the animals out in the parking lot after the show!

Titus and my favorite part was the motorcycles in the cage...they had 4 men on motorcycles in there at one was actually kind of scary!:) Micah loved it all and got a big kick out of the clown. Maybe it's time to find some reruns of "The Three Stooges" for him :)

The girls favorite parts involved the dogs and the miniature ponies (sounds like their Nanny!)

The kids and I (along with a friend and her two boys) got to go to the CIRCUS for the first time (my first time too!). When admission is free for's just not an opportunity to pass up!:) I did sit down with the kids before we left and talked about all the things that they would be so very tempted to want to have and for me to buy for them and how they needed to prepare their little hearts NOW so that they would be self-controlled in their emotions and desires and be thankful for the special privilege of just GOING once we got there!

They really did do well...but, boy their eyes were darting every which way and I could see the struggle going on at times in their heads! At one point, Micah said to me, "Mom, these people must not know what the Bible says about being a good steward..they are just wasting all their money." Warning bells went off in my head as I listened to my precious son who can struggle thinking like a Pharisee just like his mom can! So, it was another opportunity to teach him! "Micah, just because people are spending money on all kinds of things does NOT mean they are sinning or that none of them knows the Bible. But, for our family to do that, well, it just wouldn't be wise and the best use of the money that we do have. So, it's like a lot of things in's not that it is sin, it's just that the Pichura Family is not doing it!"

I have a feeling we will be having many more of these conversations as life goes on. I think it's an easy thing for any of us to do. We look at our life, as though it was the standard, and then compare everyone else to what we are or are not doing...and then make a judgment about the person or situation. Instead, we need to hold up the standard of God's Word and shed HIS light on every situation so that we can be wise and accurate as we seek to be discerning in regards to people and life situations.

"All flesh is like grass and all it's glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever."
1 Peter 1:24-25

Pulling Weeds...and Sowing Love

It's April which means we are on to a new fruit of the Spirit. Last month was self-control and this month we are focusing on LOVE! As I talked about love this morning with the kids, I realized just how fitting the truths were in regards to my husband and my I thought I would share it with you :)

God's Word has encouraged me today to examine my heart and pull out the weeds of selfishness and sow seeds of servanthood in my marriage! The kind of love talked about in the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is an agape love...a love of choice. A love that leads to willing, self-sacrificial service. I couldn't help but think of Mathew 20:28 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many."

As I think through that kind of love and my marriage...I think my biggest problem, right now, is just not taking the time to find plan out willingly and, yes, even self-sacrificially serve my husband and encourage his heart. Life is very busy but it's easy to use that as an excuse for why Bryan often gets the leftovers. If I am being honest, the thought of "meeting one more person's needs" after taking care of our 4 kid's needs and the responsibility of managing our home sometimes feels like too much. OUCH! Especially, when that "one more person" is my hubby!!! The very man who is my BESTEST friend in the whole world, my other half and the love of my life!!! How does that happen? I forget about the beauty of marriage and the precious calling of being a wife!

My mind needs to be renewed in the Word of God and be reminded of the sweetness of marriage and the PRIORITY it is over everything else...second only to my walk with Christ! And I need to PLAN!!! There was a day before kids (and I believe there will be a day after kids :) ) where showing Bryan my love for him and seeking to encourage him was not something that needed much planning. But God has added sweet blessings to my life that makes planning a necessary ingredient for a fruitful, beautiful marriage. And when I don't plan, the fruit just isn't as sweet as it could be!

Would you join me in PLANNING ways to show each of our husbands just how dear they are to us and how thankful we are to the Lord for them? Feel free to share your ideas...or better yet, try your ideas and then share how they blessed your husband!!! :)

Stay tuned for tomorrow's topic...being the "Holy Spirit" in your husband's life...and I am not joking! maybe I am using a play on words...but you'll have to check it out for yourself tomorrow :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Micah's all decked out and ready to go!

Micah came home tonight from practice with his jersey and hat! Titus came home in tears. Bless his little heart, if Titus isn't imitating Bryan than he is trying to be just like his brother. He is having a hard time understanding why he can't have a hat and jersey too! In the words of Micah, "Titus has an idol in his uniform!":)

Once we finish addressing his heart and his selfish desires that are waging war inside of him (James 4) and keeping him from rejoicing for his brother.... I might just have to start looking on ebay for a "look alike" for Titus! He is just too pathetic for my mommy's heart not to do something about it!

As for Micah, we still are unsure what position he will be playing...they have had him at 2nd, 3rd, short stop and also as catcher and I guess we will find out on Saturday at his first game. And, on a side note, Micah is pleased to announce that after 4 months of a toothless grin, he finally has a tooth poking through!

Pulling Weeds!

In light of the statement I made last week about NOT being able to multi-task our family...they are people not tasks...and in light of the Sunday School class Bryan is teaching on parenting this month, I thought it would be a great time to look at marriage and parenting a little closer! :) Just like the weeds and dead branches that my family worked at removing on Saturday in hopes of getting our front yard neat and in order, so too, I know I have weeds and dead branches in my heart in regards to being a wife and mom that need to be uprooted as well!

Charles Spurgeon says of a wife,

"She asks not how her behavior may please a stranger or how another's judgment may approve her conduct; let her beloved be content and she is glad."

I love that quote...but if I am being honest, it is not the way I often live. I often care (very much) about what others think of me...but not even think once about asking my husband what HE thinks. And not just asking him what he thinks but valuing his opinion as more precious than all the rest and making my decision based on my husband's advice!!! I think I often, sadly, buy into the worldly thinking that says..."Your husband has no clue! Better get a second opinion!" I have bought into this lie especially when it comes to the way I look physically, the way I dress and even how I do my hair. I am more apt to dismiss my dear husband's opinion of those things when, truly, HE is the ONLY one who's opinion should matter in regards to my body!!!!

If the first part of that quote is not always might be fair to say that the second part of the quote is not always true either! I wonder how many times my beloved is not content with my behavior and conduct? How many times does he not feel that I value his opinion and find great joy in pleasing HIM?

I'm gonna find out when I ask him tonight...want to join me in asking that question to your hubby as well?!!! :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Grandpa

Today is my Gramps' Memorial Service. Even though we cannot be there to share and support my grandma, mom and aunt, I wanted to share with you all a glimpse into the life of the man I called "Gramps".....

When I think of Gramps, I immediately think of his mischievious grin. If I close my eyes I can literally picture him with that crazy grin on his face. You could only guess what caused it...something crazy or silly that he had just done, a teasing remark that he was about to say, but it always kept you wondering what was going on in his head. And it always kept me wanting to make sure I had a good comeback for whatever he did say! :) My brother,David, has the same grin...and I often look at him and can't help but think of Gramps.

I have sweet memories of the summer David and I went to visit Gramps and Grandma on their houseboat. Gramp's taking us for bike rides and taking us to the store and showing us his favorite pickle..pickled pig's tongue! I'll never forget that. I thought he was joking...but he wasn't! :) He always had specialty food that he had ordered from someplace besides where they lived! Licorice always topped that list in my mind!

A few years ago, I got to go and visit Gramps and Grandma in New Bern with mom. I am thankful for that time. He took me out for a ride in his sports car...and I think he had a little too much fun seeing if he could scare me with his speed...or maybe it was just seeing if he could whip the hair right off of my head, since the top was down! :)

And then there were his Christmas year it was a $100 dollar bill stuck in the middle of a maze (using one of those little metal balls). It was the hardest I have ever had to work for a Christmas present!

I guess, as I look back, I am so thankful for the unique way Gramps did some of the things he did. It left special memories that will not easily be forgotten...and YOU, Gramps,crazy grin and all, will never be forgotten. I love you!