Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just for giggles

I know that I keep saying I will blog about our trip but it seems like everyday is filled with new things and I just haven't had a chance to put our trip down in writing! So, it will come...but not tonight!:)

Today was full of shots....19 of them to be exact! The poor nurse who had to get them all ready was probably wishing she had called in sick today!:) Samuel and Caleb had to get their second set of immunizations (4 shots each) and then poor Titus had his 5 year old well check up and ended up with 5 shots of immunization as well. And, since we were already there, they all got the flu shot...and so they all got to sympathize with each other and the pain of shots. I gave out Tylenol at bedtime to all my stiff armed and stiff thighed kiddos! What a trip, poor things!

Here is where the giggles comes in. Before we went to the doctors we went over to our attorney's office to sign a paper as we prepare to, Lord willing, finalize our adoption of the boys in the U.S. this month. As we left, my dear, blonde-headed Grace says to me..."So, mom, now that it is going to be final, will their skin start changing colors and look like ours?" :)

I am so thankful to the Lord that in His magnificent plan He created "the family"...and I am so thankful for the one He has given me and the laughter that often accompanies life with them!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Following in my footsteps

I am nearing the end of my " The Duties of Parent's" book and, already, I can't wait to start it again next month. I am so thankful for the precious insight of J. C. Ryle in regards to raising our kiddos!

While we were on the beach taking a walk (is there anything more wonderful than taking a walk on the beach?!!!) Titus was walking behind me and exclaimed, "Look Mom, I am walking in your footprints". It was true in that moment and it really is true about life as a whole. Our kids are walking in our footsteps, following the example that we live out. J.C. Ryle says:

"Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel. Archbishop Tillotson made a wise remark when he said, "To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning to them with the head to show them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them in the way to hell."

In light of that heavy truth, I can't help but do some self examination of my life! Do I want them to follow in my footsteps in every area or are there areas that I find myself saying, if only in my head,"Do what I say and not what I do"? It's a sobering question to ask but what a beautiful opportunity to pray and ask the Lord to expose those areas in which I am living hypocritically.
I can't wait to be with Jesus in Heaven, to be made perfect and not struggle with sin on, what often seems like a moment by moment basis..but I am also so thankful, right now, for the Word of God, the wisdom of godly men and women and for the world God has made and all the incredible reminders He gives us to help us and encourage us in our sanctification process!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We are back!

This past week was precious...not necessarily restful...but then, with that many kids, we were not expecting restful!:) We were praying for relaxing,though, and we were praying for sweet fellowship and special memories and we praise the Lord for those answers to prayer and more!

We also were so thankful for the extra time that we had with our kids...watching them, listening to them and seeing a little more clearly their strengths and weaknesses, their sinful hearts and the grace of God in their lives. I am so thankful for Bryan's discernment and the insight he gave me as we had many a talk on how to shepherd the hearts of our kids (particularly Micah and Samuel) this week. I am around our kids a lot more each day and it was a real blessing to have Bryan's watchful eye on our kids this past week and to have him share what he observed with me. There has been a real "tug of war" with Micah and Samuel that seems to be a reoccurring theme in our home and, this week, by the grace of God, I think the rope may have been laid down and we have seen their hearts softening to one another. It's a war they will fight against all of their lives even though the faces may's the battle of considering other's more important than's a battle I still fight I seek to have the attitude and mind of Christ. I am so thankful, though, that the Lord is allowing us to walk this road with them and encourage and instruct them with His truth and discipline and correct as necessary. I'll be honest though, is EXHAUSTING to have to deal with the same thing over and feel like you are having the same conversation over and over, wondering if it is ever going to truly get through and sink in! But it is also beautifully reassuring knowing that, as with everything else in life, God simply calls us to be faithful and the fruit is up to Him...the heart softening is a work of His cannot be manufactured by me or Bryan.

And, although we often end those conversations exhausted we also end them exactly where God wants us (Bryan and I) to HIS feet, pleading for the souls of our kids, seeking His face and His very aware of our own sin and weaknesses and humbly recognizing our desperate need of HIS strength and power each and every moment. Our kids take us to the cross...the very place we need to be...and we are so thankful for that! that was a bit of a tangent! :) I really am looking forward to sharing more pictures and thoughts of our week with, stay tuned! :)

"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." Philippians 2:3-8

Friday, September 18, 2009

The whirlwind has begun !

Just thought I would throw out a quick post. It has been a whirlwind of a couple of days and it just may turn into a hurricane in a couple of hours...a FANTASTIC hurricane, if there ever was such a thing.:)

This morning Caleb had an appointment with the urologist. *Warning...some of you might find this to be too much information!* One of his testicles never descended...but we were pleased to find out that it is, indeed, there and with surgery, they can correct the problem so that he will not have problems in the future when it comes to fertility and infections, if the Lord allows.

This afternoon we also had our appointment with our social worker to give her all in the information she needs to write our first post adoption report. We spent a lot of time with her and it was actually neat to have to specifically talk about the boys...remembering the difficulties of the first days and rejoicing in how far they have come. We have never had someone ask us in depth questions about our kids before and it was honestly a neat blessing to reflect on the Lord's goodness in the lives of Samuel and Caleb! We are hoping to finalize the adoption ( it's finalized in Ethiopia, but not in the US) by the end of October!!!

The hurricane I was talking about comes in the form of our very dear and precious friends who are coming in a couple of hours (their 6 plus our 8 makes 14!! Or, to look at it another way, 10 kids 10 years old and under!!!) and then we will all head off for the beach on Sunday! We are looking forward to a week on the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon (Bryan has not had a true, get away for more than a couple of days and relax vacation in two years!). Hopefully, we will all be able to experience the calming "eye" of the storm most of the time!:) And we are so tickled to have found a house that we can rent for $60 a night (once we split the cost)!!! As a family of 8 we could not even stay at a motel for that a night!!!

I have no idea if I will get any posts out while we are away...but know that, Lord willing, we are all alive, healthy, enjoying the ocean, celebrating the Creator of it, enjoying sweet fellowship and praying that the time goes by as slowly as possible!:)

"The sea is His for He made it, and his hands formed the dry land." Psalm 95:5

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can I have a "sitting room"?

I used to think it was just crazy to have a huge master bedroom (sorry to those out there that do! :)). I just couldn't see how you could really spend enough time in your bedroom to make it worth wasting all that extra space (of course, in our 1300 sq. foot rental, space is very precious:)so it really might be a tinge of jealousy!). Well, the last few days I have felt like having a bigger master bedroom, with a sitting area and a nice comfy chair, just might not be such a bad idea. My sitting area would have to be renamed the discipline and instruction corner and the chair would be so that my rump did not get so sore sitting on the floor for much of the day!:)

Discipline and correction often feels like the ocean tide to comes and goes. Instruction is always a must...but it seems like we have days, even a full week, where there only small amounts of discipline and correction seem to be needed. Then there are other weeks (like this week) where I feel that is just about all I do and I can start to feel pretty discouraged. Lord...are they ever going to get it? Lord, am I not teaching them clearly? Lord, am I not shepherding their hearts the way I should? It seems in those times as though they have forgotten everything they have been taught! Not to mention that, in those trying "trials" of that moment, my OWN heart can be so quick to sin, quick to anger, quick to forget that it is all about glorifying God and not about my own comfort, ease or desires or the fact that I am starting to get irritated!

So, there have also been times this week of asking for forgiveness from my kids for speaking harshly ( I know, I know...a harsh word stirs up anger!!!) or for acting in frustration instead of love. As Paul said, "Wretched man that I am...Who will save me?"

It would seem from what I am sharing that it has been a pretty miserable week...but, that is the beauty of hoping in God...He never disappoints. And not only does He not disappoint but 2 Corinthians 2:14 says:

"But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere."

He actually promises that we will be triumphant through Him...and that, in spite of us, God still uses us to spread the beautiful, fragrant truth of His gospel everywhere...even as we sit on the floor with our child wondering if he or she is ever going to get it! Is that encouraging or what?!!!

We have the precious job and privilege of being an "ambassador for Christ, God making His appeal through us" to our kids and we, like Paul, must "implore (them) on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20)

As for the picture at the top of the was an unusual treat that just sounded too yummy to pass up since I passed the coffee shop on the way back from the library. A frappucino and the faithfulness of Jesus in the midst of trials...does it get better than that?:) Oh, and the's about the Duggar Family. They have 18 kids and another on the way (all bio) and I figured it was time to spy on my competition...tee-hee! Okay, so I know that there will never be 18 kids in our family (if you get rid of the one...that is sounding more like something I am already praying for!) but I heard that has some great advice and wisdom in all things organizational and planning related, so I am all ears!

And speaking of advice and should plan a trip out to Rite Aid! :) My girlfriend told me of a deal that they are having on J&J baby wash, shampoo and lotion (and I found a deal for adult shampoo too!). Anyway, I got all this:for $20 dollars once I get my rebate check. 10 bottles of J&J products (yep, we still use them in the Pichura home)and 10 bottles of V05 shampoo's and condtioners...all for $20 dollars! And, I guess there is actually a coupon somewhere on the internet that, if you use in conjunction with the Rite Aid deal, you end up getting the J&J products for free! I couldn't find it though and still thought I was getting a deal!
Happy shopping...hope it lasts you longer than it will last us!:)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How do I reach their hearts?

Bryan's and my desire as parents is to reach the heart of our kids...not just the outward actions, but the heart. And that has proved especially difficult with Caleb and more so with Samuel. Communication is so limited (although it keeps improving every day!) and the more words I speak in a desire to clarify or instruct can actually mean the more I will confuse them. It's really the same as when we had little, two and three year old's...and so I have been asking the Lord to help me be wise in how I communicate and what I say...especially in the midst of correction.

Here are a few phrases (and how it usually goes) that I say over and over each time I am correcting, disciplining or instructing them(and truly, this is the same format I use with all my kids...I have just worked on simplifying it for Samuel and Caleb):

Did you obey mommy or disobey mommy? (disobey)

Does that make Jesus happy or sad? (sad)

If the verses we have memorized together are "applicable" for the situation, then I will go over the verse with them. Then comes the discipline...and immediately after I spank them, I hold them and tell them:

Mommy loves you so much. Jesus loves you so much. You need to obey Jesus and obey mommy.

Then, we will often pray...and I start by praying for them that God will help them to obey and give them a heart to follow him...and then I have them pray and, for now, "put" the words into their mouths:

"Dear Jesus, I am sorry for disobeying you by disobeying my mommy. Please forgive me and help me to obey. In Jesus name, Amen"

I end by asking them again what they should have done right and then we either go and actually repeat the situation with the right actions and words (especially with Caleb!) or we simply end with a big hug and more I love you's!

I am finding that this simple pattern is really effective and truly seems to reach their heart as well as get to the heart of the issue.

"Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:7

"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it."
Jeremiah 17:9

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."
Proverbs 4:23

And, in other news...Caleb is now riding a two wheel's a little scary but so cute to watch! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Whoever thought the alphabet could be so cute?


And, on that educational note...let me share a few home schooling tid bits that I have learned since starting a new year of school for any of you out there who might be interested.

Samuel is doing really well with home school. I started him on a new curriculum that I had never used before (crazy,huh?). It's called Explode the Code. Anyway...I was a bit nervous when I started looking at it because it is not like a "traditional" Language Art's book that teaches the letter and sound but pretty much sticks just to learning and writing the letter. Explode the Code immediately starts putting the letter "A" right into words. Pat, rat, sat, ran, pan...teaching the letter in the context of other letters. Samuel has done GREAT with it! Maybe it's because he is older and can grasp more than a typical kindergartener would? He came to us knowing his alphabet...but only the capital letters and not the sounds that they make...but he has really flourished under this curriculum and is learning many letters and sounds all at once without even realizing it.

In the morning,after Bible, I start Micah, Grace and Faith with their penmanship, spelling and reading comprehension books (which they can usually do without much help) so that I can work one on one with Samuel and that seems to be working out really well. We are taking it slow with math...a couple of numbers a week and shapes!

I also wanted to tell you about another AMAZING History book by Christian Liberty Press. Last year I used their "History for Little Pilgrims" and it often brought me to tears with how God and His plan came shining through each page...after all it is truly HIS story! Even if you don't home school, I would strongly encourage you to pick up a copy (CBD,'s really cheap!). It reads like a book! Well, I enjoyed the book so much that I got another history book for this year by them called, "Our Nation Under God". I LOVE it! What history book do you know of that starts the first chapter talking about all the governments that God has set up...including family gov. and church gov.? What a great time it was teaching the kids about how God established the family and the order of how things should work in the family and also in the church, the family of God.

And my newest discovery may seem like no big deal to you...but I think it is going to prove to make this year much more enjoyable. In the past, I have always felt free to plan things in the early afternoon (dr.'s appt., etc...) because I home schooled in the morning. But knowing that I have something that we have to be at right after lunch always created an impatience in me...."Hurry up kids", "You need to get your school work done quicker"...I just felt rushed and pushed that on to the kids, sadly, too.

I have learned that the day goes much smoother when we do not have something going on right after lunch. I may not always be able to follow that rule...but I am going to try to stick to a more typical school schedule (at least on paper)...not planning activities or appointments until after 2 pm.

I am learning that sometimes it can be the smallest of changes that can reap big blessings. Often the "small change" is simply my attitude!:)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reflections on Adoption

It has been said by some that they think I am a good writer, and while I am encouraged by their words and thankful that my thoughts seem to make it to "print" making sense...I usually do not have to look very far to find others who's writing far exceeds my own! In this case, not only is the post written very well, but his thoughts have been Bryan's and my thoughts, I was just not able to put it into the same beautiful words! In fact, I have a feeling if you were to ask the followers of Christ that I know that have adopted they would say that Gunner said what they all feel, too! It's a precious glimpse into the whole question of "WHY ADOPT?" and even if you feel like you have a good handle on why believers should adopt or help those who are me when I say that you have GOT to read this!!!

And, I just might blackmail you all by not posting again (that's words OR pictures!) until I get a fair amount of comments so I know that a lot of you took the time to read this 5 minute post!:) I'M NOT KIDDING!!!!!:) Addendum: sister in law (in her comment) is right...maybe it's a bit sneaky to "blackmail" you...:) I promise I won't do that...I am just so excited and passionate about how God see's adoption...just as I am about so many other things in the Word of God!!! Happy Reading!

God, the Gospel, and the Global Cause of Christ: Reflections on Adoption
July 2, 2009

They call it a “paper pregnancy.” It’s the period of time between the conception and finalization of your adoption. There’s no positive pregnancy test, no hormonal upheaval, no morning sickness, no amazing ultrasounds, no growing belly, no random food cravings, no little feet-kicks coming from the womb, and no agonizing labor pains and delivery. Yet each of these finds its reflection in the paper pregnancy.

Ours was nineteen months long. We decided to adopt in December of 2005, and I picked up my wife and our 18-month-old Ugandan son at the airport on July 13, 2007. Our positive pregnancy test was the U.S. government’s acceptance of our application. Our hormonal turmoil was the onslaught of emotions that flow from the ups and downs of pioneer adoptions in African countries. The morning sickness came in frustrations of all kinds, from paperwork pains to cross-governmental headaches to the dizziness and nausea caused by the rollercoaster of international bureaucracy. The surreal ultrasound came in the first picture we ever received of the baby boy we were “matched up” with, and the periodic arrival of pictures over the months functioned as so many kicks and somersaults in the womb reminding us that our son was real, alive, and growing. As the process lengthened, the anticipation bulged, and at the end of it all came the agonizing labor pains of my wife’s second trip to Uganda and her final week in the capital city — which she will tell you was the most hectic and hair-raising week of her life.

Why go through this? The same question that women throughout the centuries have asked in the pangs of delivery can be asked of those who have chosen to walk through a predictably intense adoption. Why?

It wasn’t because we wanted a kid and couldn’t have one on our own. We’re a young couple, and we actually just wanted to adopt first. Scripture doesn’t have a Plan B view of adoption. We’ve never discovered a verse presenting adoption simply as a second-rate way to grow a family. We’re overjoyed at friends who decide to adopt because they can’t have biological children, and their children are no less blessed because adoption wasn’t their parents’ initial choice. But family-building is not the main motivation for helping the fatherless.

Rather, the highest and best motivation for adopting is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The spiritual impulse to adopt runs far deeper than cute international babies, cross-cultural experiences, and family growth. The impulse to adopt echoes from the very heartbeat of the gospel.

We ourselves have experienced the grace of adoption, and on a much grander scale. We were slaves of sin, but are now children of God (Romans 8:15). God was our judge, but now He is our Father (John 1:12). We faced a foreboding future in hell, but now we anticipate an abundant inheritance in heaven (Romans 8:16-17). God is the Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), and He has made Himself that for us through Jesus Christ. Adoption is in our blood. Adoption is in God’s blood.

Adoption has been called the crown jewel of redemption, because even justification and reconciliation do not have to include adoption. God could have rescued us from sin and death without becoming our Father. It is possible to have reconciliation without sonship, to have justification without adoption. We could have been predestined, foreknown, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified without being adopted, because a declaration of righteousness is not the same as a declaration of sonship. Yet those of us who are in Christ are far more than former debtors and forgiven criminals. We are God’s children.

At 11:36 AM on Friday, November 16, 2007 at the Children’s Court in Monterrey Park, California, Judge John L. Henning declared that Judah David Mukisa Gundersen is the legal son of David and Cynthia Gundersen, with all the rights and privileges of a natural born child, including inheritance. We swore under oath that we would treat him as such, and the judge signed the court order to that effect. Although this was the first time we had walked through this process, these weren’t strange words to us. For years we’ve read them in the Bible. These words are our story.

This is why Jesus’ earliest followers wrote things like this in their letters: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). This call to help the helpless resounds in the heart of all who have been “visited” by God in Christ and who have been helped in our “distress.”

The need of orphans worldwide is literally incalculable. Their “distress” is severe. And we have the gospel, a family, and a home (in that order). With all of this in mind, the thought of us not helping orphans is unthinkable. We adopt, because He first adopted us (1 John 4:19).

With international adoption, there’s another element at play. God loves diversity, and we love diversity with Him. Unity in the midst of diversity is beautiful because it displays the singular glory of the one who binds the diversity together. Jesus Christ is praised in the book of Revelation because, as the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders cry out, “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). God’s family is colorful, because God is creative and because the bond of Christ is strong. This is magnificent to us, and for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted our family to mirror this every-tribe-tongue-people-nation diversity. The loveliest family in all the universe is God’s, and its loveliness is well worth reflecting.

Finally, a word about adoption and the global cause of Christ. Missions means spreading the name of Jesus Christ to every nook and cranny of every people group on the planet by crossing cultures and languages and geographical boundaries to reach them, whether they be urban socialites or desert nomads or tribal villagers. International adoption means spreading the name of Jesus Christ into the hearts and lives of every people group on the planet by crossing cultures and languages and ethnic barriers to bring the smallest and neediest of the world’s population into our homes, making them part of our families, and investing the gospel into their lives from the backyard to the dinner table to the bedside. Adoption and the global Christian mission are inseparable.

This is why, at the end of it all, we want to bring the children of the nations into our family. Not so that they can grow up and live the American Dream, but so that by God’s grace they can grow up and walk the narrow road. Running water, medical care, and a sound education are precious and valuable things. But seeing the glory of Christ, hearing the good news of salvation, finding reconciliation with God, and walking in a manner worthy of the incarnate Savior of the world is infinitely more precious.

And so we seek to adopt — as those who have been freely adopted ourselves into a beautifully diverse family unified in the death, burial, and resurrected reign of Jesus Christ; as those who have been called to the outreaching of global missions and the inbringing of Christian adoption; and as those whose hearts long not for the security and comfort of the American Dream but for radical lives of incarnational love.

Every day, I see all of this and more in the bright eyes and brilliant smile and childlike faith of my son. I see the grace of God; I see the gospel of Christ; I see the diversity of the church; and I see the call of the Christian mission. And perhaps most of all, I see that it is no small thing to be a child, and no small thing to have a Father.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:15-17).

written by Gunner Gundersen (Associate Dean of Men, The Master's College)
check out their blog "Raw Christianity" too!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho it's On a Hike We Go!

Today we went to Boulder Cave with some friends from church. It was a beautiful day, the drive was wonderful and God's handiwork kept us exclaiming praises as we looked out the window.

We took a great hike to the cave and then had the fun of turning on our flashlights so we could see as we walked. The kids were bummed that they didn't see any bats...but that was just fine with me! It was just so wonderful to be out HIKING!!!

On the trail was a sign that got me thinking:

Bear with me...but I couldn't help but think that lichen kind of reminds me of marriage. Two very different, individual people that come together under one name, sharing an intimate relationship that creates something remarkable and beautiful...a marriage that mirrors the ultimate marriage between Christ and His bride, the church. And just as the fungus surrounds the algae and absorbs all that comes at it from the world around, our husbands, too, are called by God to surround protect us, to take care of us and to shield us from those things that we are not called or equipped to absorb. In the same manner, we are a bit like the algae. The algae supplies carbohydrates for the fungus...and we are called to be a source of energetic, encouraging support to our encourage them to press on when they feel tired, to be a "pick me up" when they are feeling overwhelmed by all that they have to absorb as the leader of our home! All creation sings his praises and tells of his marvelous deeds and plan, doesn't it!!! :)

We ended with a picnic lunch at the coolest park along the river, with feet that were tired and with hearts that were happy enjoying but a glimpse of our great Creator!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Childish Joys

J.C. Ryle says under "Directive 2":

"Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience. I do not mean that you are to spoil him, but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him. Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys -- these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily -- these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart."

Just thought you would enjoy (and get a good laugh!) a glimps into the "childish joys" of a daughter (Grace) who is determined to have "babies" in our house one way or another!:)

P.S. That picture was taken last night...and today, as soon as school was over, she had them all dressed up again and was playing "mommy". When the boys were crawling (yes, crawling) around the house I teasingly told Grace that she was crazy! Her reply was precious..."No, I am actually having fun. This is what I want my life to be when I grow up." :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Will you do it if I beg?

I try to be very selective about what links I try to get you to read. In fact...I think the last one I was begging you to check out was the testimony of a precious woman and mommy who was dying of cancer (and she did, indeed, die in July and is home with Jesus). For those of you who listened in, I know that it blessed your heart.

The link I am going to give you now is written by a gal, Katie, just 20 years old who is serving in Uganda. I have spent the last half an hour reading her blog, crying, getting shivers, praising the Lord and, to be quite frank, reading with almost disbelief at the amazing way in which the Lord is using her and the unbelievable sacrifices she has made to serve children, those orphaned and those poor. She reminds me of a Gladys Alyward and a George Muller wrapped into one. And I don't say that lightly...I am blown away by what I have been reading.

If you know me at all, then you know that I don't like to waste time and that I love to recommend books and just about anything else that will help you to "be holy as He is holy". I promise you that you will NEVER look back at your time on her blog as a waste of time and I beg you to join me in reading about a life and a ministry that leaves you desiring more of God than you did before you started.

Grab a cup of tea, a couple of tissues and PLEASE click on this link and be prepared to be blown away!

click HERE

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thinking about the soul

Some of you have emailed me that you, too, are going to join me in reading "The Duties of Parents" by J.C. Ryle. Right now I am on encouragement 4..."Train with this thought continually before your eyes - that the soul of your child is the first thing to be considered".

I read this section, including the following paragraph and was reminded about the enormous responsibility we have to walk wisely and think Biblically in every area of our lives and our kids lives...everything we and they do has eternal ramifications:

A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children's souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short -- the fashion of this world passeth away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth -- for God, rather than for man -- he is the parent that will be called wise at last.

I think this stood out to me a little bit more as I am just finishing an amazing book (Womanly Dominion) by Mark Chanski...a book that I will spend more time talking about in the weeks to come...a book that goes against the "customs of the world"...many customs of which we as women have adopted without even realizing that they are the worlds but not Gods. A book that may even seem "singular and strange" to many church ladies...but a book that is so desperately needed in our circles.

Are you a little bit curious? If you do decide to pick it up and read just might be mad at me forever...or you just might walk away changed forever!:)

The parties over! :)

My parents left this evening and I am again reminded of the blessing it is to be their daughter and the blessing it is for my kids to be able to call them Papa and Grandma! Their love for Jesus shines through in all that they do...and they are so wonderful at coming alongside of what Bryan and I are doing as we seek to raise our kids to the glory of God. My parents are such an encouragement...not only to Bryan and I ,but to our kids as well. If you were a fly on the wall while they were hear, you would have heard many a conversation between my parents and the kids or me and Bryan and the kids that was Godward in focus and heart centered in content. My heart overflows that we share the same love...the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

Samuel and Caleb just adore their grandparents...and I have to say they are a bit biased toward their Papa (sorry Grandma!). Maybe it has something to do with all the bike rides he took them on or the Wii games he played with them or the hours he spent in the road watching them bike and skateboard down the driveway!:) Dad, thanks for all you sacrificed this weekend to make precious memories with your grandkids! As Samuel was going to bed tonight he said, "Mom...maybe Grandma and Papa again...soon?!"

When my parents were up they also brought a special gift for the kids. Thank you, McElroys and Bannisters for the fantastic SIGNED!!! hats for all the kids. We are bummed that we did not get to see you in Seattle...but my children now not only root for Brian when he pitches...but they get to "sport" their support all over Yakima! They all love their hats!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

5 came to visit....7 left!

What a wonderful time this weekend has been...and it is not even over yet...we still have the sweet company of my parents until Tuesday.

If you have been keeping up with my blog since at least January, then you will remember a dear family that we have had the pleasure of meeting (thanks to my sister in law, Michelle) who used to live in Ethiopia but now live in Seattle. "Bea" as I know her best, made her first trip out of Seattle to come visit us in Yakima! She brought her two daughters, Promise and Gloria, and her dear friend's kids, Aaron and Ruth. I would lie if I told you that it never got crazy...but it was crazy fun and I am so thankful for their friendship and greater call Bea a sister in the Lord!

She encouraged my son, Samuel's, heart greatly as she spent time conversing with him in Amheric. We were able to have her ask questions to him that we have wanted to know but couldn't ask him ourselves. We found out that he is so glad to be with our family (praising the Lord for that!), he loves his bike and skateboard and he wants to grow up and be a doctor so that he can buy a car for his (birth) mom and so that she can be taken care of. (I'll post my thoughts on that later...on what it is like to be a child's mom who also has a mom that he loves very much...I need some more time to keep processing it). His face lit up and the Amheric flowed as he talked...and it was beautiful and sad all at the same time for me to watch. Beautiful to see him so animated, sad to know that he is so limited in expressing all that is in his heart and head with us! This is a season of life for him and us...and, like any, there are precious joys and painful hurts too!

I also learned some things that I would not have if it were not for Bea and her watchful eye and knowledge of Ethiopian culture. She read a letter that I had from the boy's birth mother (another thing to share later)and I found out that she was from the EXACT same town that Ruth and Aaron's mom (the kids visiting us) grew up in. That, in and of itself, was just amazing as Ethiopia is a pretty big country! I am looking forward to talking to her about what life was like growing up there in hopes of learning more about what life must have been like for their birth mom as she grew up.

Also, Caleb has this funny little dance that he does...and I always thought it was just him being goofy (imagine that?!:))but Bea started laughing with delight when she saw him doing is actually a REAL dance that is done in the region that their mom grew up! Had it not been for be, we would have missed the cultural significance of what he was doing and, in that, lost some of the preciousness of it!

But, I have to say one of the biggest things I learned this weekend was how to cook Ethiopian style!!!
We made spaghetti (left) and "beg what"(sp?) which is a lamb stew

Aleche (sp?) which is a vegetable dish of cabbage, onion, potatos and carrots...Yum!

Shiro what (sp?) which is like a bean stew. Throw all of it on a piece of injera and grab another piece of injera to eat it with and you have a GREAT meal!

And, if you could have seen the look on Samuel and Caleb's faces as they watched things being made and than ate it all for dinner, you would understand why I took detailed notes of everything in hopes of duplicating it at least a couple of times a month! Bea has an unbelievable servant's heart...and, even though this was supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation for her, she served me in ways that she may never even know and blessed my heart over and over again. She gave me so many glimpses into what my two boys have grown up with and just how much life has changed for them since they have become "Pichura's". She gave me a gift that no one could have bought for me and that has made so many of the moments this weekend priceless!

10 kids in the house meant that we were praying for good weather so that they would be 10 kids OUT of the house most of the day! God had other plans...the rain came down on and off in the morning and steadily in the afternoon. The kids still spent a fair amount of time outside although it ended up in a bit of a muddy (poopy!) mess by later in the afternoon after running around the yard!

They really had a great time playing together! Bea's older daughter, Promise, was a sweet blessing and played a precious "big sister" to all the girls...building an "ark"/tent before the rains came:), painting their toe nails and just all around keeping them entertained...thanks, Promise! Faith made my heart leap with joy when she showed me all the Bible verses that we have learned the last couple of weeks...she had written them out with chalk all around the "tent"! So precious!

And, the biggest surprise of the weekend was that they came as a group of five and left with two more to their number...two puppies that is!:) We had talked to Grace earlier last week about the reality that having two puppies was just not going to be best for our family. We were thrilled to be able to give her the opportunity...but it became clear that having more "indoor animals" was just going to be too much (maybe chicks or a bunny next spring?). There were tears and prayers and extra cuddles...but she understood and we do not believe her little heart has been crushed. And what a blessing it was to be able to send them home with our friends and not have to give them away to strangers! (We'll see how long they see it as a blessing!:) tee-hee)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's only rated "G"

I was reminded again of the way in which I should "judge" a movie...especially when it comes to kid's movies. Just because it has a "G" rating does not mean that it's okay for our kids to watch. And, just because a movie may have an "R" rating does not necessarily mean that it is a movie that Bryan and I should not watch (although, that seems to be the case more often than not).

The point I am getting at is actually found in Isaiah 5:20:

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

So often, that is exactly what movies do...they display evil as good. A child does not get what he wants, so he disobeys and is rebellious and talks back and, in the end, it still goes well with him and he "wins the race", "gets the prize" or whatever else the end reward is...all without ever apologizing or repenting.

What message does that send to our kids? We read the Proverbs to them with all the "if/than"'s and then we turn around a let them watch "world after world" in which God's Word ends up being the liar, and sin is rewarded.

We parents fall into the same trap with the things we choose to watch, too....especially us ladies, if I am going to be really honest. We end up rooting for the affair because the husband is such a jerk...we find ourselves greatly enjoying the romance of a movie...even though much of it is wrapped around fornication. We are enjoying evil being seen as good whether we realize it or not!

Now, don't get me wrong...I am not going to go legalistic on you and tell you to ban movies from your home. One of my favorite things to do is pick up a movie and a 1/2 gallon of ice cream and cuddle up with my hubby...or to enjoy "family movie night" with the kids. I guess what I am trying to say (to myself as well!) is don't just get caught up in the rating...get caught up in the CONTENT before you rent a movie!

Someone clued me in to a great website of movie reviews put out by Focus on the Family called "Plugged In". I have been impressed with the information that has been given and have found them to be "right on" in their reviews while sticking mostly to the facts more than personal opinion. Thought some of you might appreciate their critiques as well!

I know this was an "off the wall" post (but it was something I was thinking about)...I can't wait to tell you about our weekend with our Ethiopian friends...still working on finishing that post...maybe tomorrow:)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hiding God's Word in ALL of our Hearts!

It has been a sweet blessing to see Samuel and Caleb hide God's Word in their heart and to UNDERSTAND it as well! I will be honest, for some reason I was reluctant to have them memorize scripture yet thinking, "What is the point...they don't understand it?". Shame on me for forgetting the POWER of the Word of God and that it is living and active and will not return void...not even in two little children who barely understand the English language that it is being spoken in.

I have started simply but with verses that very much apply to everyday life as the boys know it. That way, as I discipline and instruct them, I can keep using the same verses over and over so that they continue to understand the meaning of them and not just memorize the words.

Last week we learned Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.". It has been a verse that I have used over and over with ALL of my children as they have been struggling in the way that they speak to each other. I have seen Samuel soften...even in the midst of discipline as I encourage him with the Word of God.

This week we worked on 1 Corinthians 16:14, "Let all that you do be done in love." If that is not a verse that we ALL need to live by, than I don't know what is! :)

I thought it would be extra fun to SHOW you what I get to see every day at my kitchen table as we hide God's Word in our heart!:) Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Snapshots from this Week

We have had another fun, crazy week...thought I would share a few pictures to capture the moments! :)

We received a special blessing on to our local Yakima Bear's baseball game for Monday night! It was fun taking the kids to the game and seeing it through the new eyes of Samuel and Caleb. They loved the screen on the scoreboard that showed shots of the crowd and they loved dancing to the music in between innings! Caleb kept calling it basketball, so I guess we still have a little training to do:).

Micah wanted me to take this picture for Papa. I found this Bruin's shirt at Value Village for $3 dollars and he was so excited to wear it and let Papa know he was supporting all things Boston!:)

Micah had his ear appointment today. The hole is still just as big so it looks like he will have reconstructive surgery in a year or two. I had to snap a picture of the kids...they were so well behaved while we were there although Caleb looks anything but in the picture.:)

We made a trip to Costco late this afternoon...Daddy was able to join us after work and we had fun together. Titus and Caleb love sitting together in the double seats of the Costco carts...except when we got near the toy row and Caleb informed me "I walk". :) Oh, and Bryan would have you to know that Caleb's "fro" is no longer.:) All 4 boys and Grace got hair cuts tonight...I think half of it is still stuck to my body! I was reluctant to "buzz off" Caleb's curls...but at least I know they will grow back.:)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thoughts from Bryan

My husband started a "writing book" (he affectionately refers to it simply as his moleskin :)) a few of years ago...mostly essay's and journal type writing and every once in a while he shares with me something he has been thinking about and the thoughts that he has put on paper and every time I find myself so blessed to get another peek into my husband's see where his thoughts take him...and to see His love and passion for Christ, His creation, His plan and His design come spilling out. Here are his most recent "thoughts" that I have been given permission to share with you!:)

As an adoptive Dad people often ask me questions like:“What does God think of Adoption?”;“Does God have a heart beat for Adoption?" etc... Here is one way in which I have answered this question:

When Jesus was born he could have been placed in any family situation and have been just as sinless. However, God ordained that His Son be raised in a home with a Dad who would be classified as an “adoptive dad”. Joseph was not Jesus’ biological
father and yet Joseph raised him as his own (Luke 2:4 + 48). Little is known about Joseph but one thing is certain – Joseph was not Jesus’ Father and yet God entrusted Jesus to be raised like a son in Joseph’s home. If God did not have a heartbeat for adoption God would not have placed His only Son into an earthly home to be raised by an adoptive Dad.

Some day in glory I would like to see the eulogy of Joseph. Most scholars believe he died before Jesus’ earthly ministry began so I have wondered what people thought about Joseph. A simple carpenter who married a woman that most believed was unfaithful and raised a son who did not belong to him. I can’t help but think that many concluded that Joseph wasted his life and that they might have seen adoption as more of a stigma to be avoided than a blessing.

As unique a role as Joseph played in Jesus’ life he walks off the pages of Scripture the way he walked onto them – in obscurity. God wanted it that way for reasons unknown, although worth speculating. Yet, having said all this, I nevertheless want to be like Joseph because he was a simple man, used by God, that opened his heart and home up to Jesus. Could anything be more glorious, blessed, or joyous?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Duties of Parents

Today was one of those days where I felt like I was constantly sending a child to their room to be disciplined...and if I wasn't actually sending them to their room than, more often than not, I felt like I was thinking about whether or not I should send them to their room or show grace or simply exhort them right where they were in the behavior that they should have been having. All of the above happened continuously throughout the day.

I'll be honest, I am emotionally exhausted tonight. Shepherding hearts is not an easy job...especially when I have to spend a fair amount of time seeking to get MY heart right with God before I address my dear children!!:) It's easy on days like today to feel like I did not accomplish took longer than planned, the house did not get picked up like it needed, there was little time for rest and I didn't get my banana bread made AGAIN today :) (In fact, we had to move the very over-ripe banana's to the garage because we woke up this morning to fruit flies EVERYWHERE!:)). But nothing could be farther from the truth. The Lord gave me opportunity after opportunity to address the most important part of my children...their souls.

I was reminded today of the words of J.C. Ryle in "The Duties of Parents":

"Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them, think often of their souls. No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die."

I know I have shared some of the truths that I have learned from this godly man in this little booklet (only 34 pages!), but I also realized that so often I am the forgetful hearer that is talked about in the book of James. I am desperately in need of constant reminders of my God-given role and calling! So, I decided that I am going to read "The Duties of Parents" every month. There are 17 "points" in the booklet and each "point" is approx. a page and a that makes it very doable for a wonderful review of one "point" every other day or so of my duty and responsibility as a mommy! Anyone want to join me? :)