Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday Grace!!!


"...in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:16

What a wonderful day it was for Grace. She woke up this morning at Nanny and Gramp's house where she had spent the night for a "girls only" sleepover with her sister and two cousins. From what I hear there were multiple renditions of "Happy Birthday" sung as well as a special breakfast of Lucky Charms and donuts.
She spent part of her afternoon meeting some new friends while I spent some sweet time with their mother...a dear friend from high school (and her mother too!). We returned home to a kitchen full of decorations, balloons and the most amazing baby cake that I had ever seen. My heart was so full and blessed to see the precious gift that Grace's Aunt Chrissy gave to her by making her day extra special in every way! Chrissy...you are a treasure and your servant's heart and selfless giving of yourself has been a blessing over and over again to this heart of mine!!!
You may notice that the baby cake is black...that is for a reason, of course! Grace told us last week that what she really wanted for Christmas was a baby sister from Ethiopia.:) She may not get her "wish" for Christmas, but she got the cutest cake ever for her birthday!

Her dinner of choice was ziti (a lasagna type dish) and mint chocolate chip ice cream to go with her cake. Pretty simple girl, my Grace is! :) Aunt Chrissy also painted the girls toe nails tonight and it was fun to see them sharing in some "girlie" moments together!
We are excited to continue in the celebration tomorrow by going out to one of my absolute favorite girlie lunch places growing up. I have such sweet memories of going there with my mother and aunt and I can't wait to make some new special memories with my girls and their aunt, nanny and cousins!

This morning Grace told her Nanny that she really wanted to see the sun for her birthday (does that give you an indication of what the weather has been like or what?!:)). It came peeking through late this afternoon which blessed her heart and then she had the fun of seeing snow a couple of hours later.

It was Samuel and Caleb, though, who showed the most delight as they had never "played" in snow before. It was only a dusting...but they managed to make a few small snowballs and still get their hands cold enough for Samuel to exclaim, "Mom, my hands are burning...they are burning!" :) It was so fun to see them in yet another "first"!!!


"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward."
Psalm 127:3

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The fun goes on!


Micah continues to give us chuckles. The last one came the night before Thanksgiving. We were staying at Bryan's cousin's house and Micah came in the kitchen looking for Bryan. I told him that that daddy was outside getting the turkey's with Darcy (Bryan's cousin). Micah quickly responded with,

"Oh, are they going to bring them in here and kill them?"!!!

Life is truly never dull with kids! :)

That said, this past week and a half has been anything but dull!!! There has been much to share but little time to get it all out on "virtual paper". My fingers have been itching to write, but there is a time and place for everything and right now the time is for savoring the last couple of days with our family which includes celebrating my dear Grace's 8th birthday tomorrow!

Just thinking about what to write about her brings tears to my eyes. She is a quiet, contemplative joy and a lover of all things domestic and involving babies. She has been precious to watch this past week and a half as she has dotted on her 6 month old cousin, Cooper, and has found unbelievable delight in helping give him baths, getting him dressed and feeding him. I can't wait to take the day tomorrow to celebrate her life. She is a gift from God and we are so thankful to have her in our family!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another funny from Micah

So, Micah had another quote that had us all giggling. My mother-in-law made a special dinner tonight...spiedies. It's okay if you have never heard of them...it's a local thing, but a big tradition in the Pichura Family. Spiedies are chunks of chicken, pork or lamb marinated in a special Italian type dressing and then skewered and cooked on the grill.

Micah seemed a bit unsure of the whole dinner and came into the kitchen to ask me if he had ever had "speedos" and if he liked them.:)

I just can't get away from it...even in New York...

I am talking about great articles on adoption, that is! :) Challies blog had an article by Russell Moore and it was a great 2 minute glimpse into the heart of adoption!

I encourage you to read it for yourself:

Why We Are Adopting For Life
By Russell D. Moore

This past summer, my denomination adopted a resolution “On Adoption and Orphan Care,” while my sons stood in the crowded room watching. It was one of the most emotionally weighty experiences of my life.

I knew the resolution by itself wasn’t going to spark an orphan care movement among Christians. Neither is my book on adoption, and neither are a thousand manifestoes on the subject. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as local churches start to embrace a vision for orphan care.

The resolution, though, was meant to prompt some questions. If one person in that convention hall was moved to simply pray, “Lord, how would you have me minister to orphans?” then the resolution was a success in my view. If one pastor was prompted to ponder how he could preach on adoption, or lead a foster care ministry among his folks, then the work has started.

I was overwhelmed with emotion on the platform to see my sons, two little ex-orphans, looking out on a sea of yellow ballots as thousands of my brothers and sisters affirmed that we want to be the people who love fatherless children. I realized that, in an alternative story, my boys would still be in an orphanage, not knowing even the name of Christ Jesus. But there they were, watching the world’s largest Protestant denomination recognize there are hundreds of thousands of children as helpless and alone as they once were.

There’s a long way to go. Literally one day after the resolution vote, I received correspondence from an employee of a denominational agency saying that adoption and orphan care doesn’t fit under the “umbrella” of “evangelism and missions.” Tell that to the thousands of children who know Christ today because they are growing up in Christian homes, rather than in institutions or on the streets. And tell it to Jesus who says something very different to us (Jas. 1:27). Following the Great Commission requires moving beyond short-sighted definitions of “evangelism and missions” as rallies and revivals.

But something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind. God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ who affirm a belief in the authority of Scripture are recognizing that the Bible tells us that pure religion is defined by “care for the fatherless.”

As those who should be defined by our commitment to evangelism, we must confess that there is no greater field as “white unto harvest” right now as children in orphanages, group homes and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus.

When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does.

My prayer is that twenty years from now there will be thousands of pastors, missionaries and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, but are now preaching the gospel of God their Father.

Not many years ago, through infertility, miscarriage and two little boys in a Russian orphanage, the Lord changed my understanding of the gospel, of missions and of myself.

The Bible, after all, tells us that human families are reflective of an eternal fatherhood (Eph. 3:14-15). We know, then, what human fatherhood ought to look like on the basis of how Father God behaves toward us. But the reverse is also true. We see something of the way our God is fatherly toward us through our relationships with our own human fathers. And so Jesus tells us that in our human father’s provision and discipline we get a glimpse of God’s active love for us (Matt. 7:9-11; cf. Heb. 12:5-7). The same is at work in adoption.

If you sense the Lord may be calling you to adoption, or if you want to start a discussion on orphan care in your church, I hope you’ll join me for the “Adopting for Life” conference February 26-27, 2010, on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

You may be wondering whether this will be a conference about the doctrine of adoption or “real” adoption. Well, one of the things that we’ll be discussing is the fact that you can’t talk about the one without talking about the other. Also, it is not as though we master one aspect and then move to the other — from the vertical to the horizontal or the other way around. That’s not the picture God has embedded in his creation work.

So we’ve invited a number of great speakers to “Adopting for Life” — speakers such as David Platt, Jedd Medefind and Justin Taylor, with worship led by Andrew Peterson — who will seek to equip us to create a culture of adoption in our families and churches. We’ll be answering questions such as, “What does adoption have to do with the Great Commission?”, “How can I pay for adoption?”, and “How can we start an adoption ministry in my church?” — along with so many others.

I would love to see you here in Louisville for the “Adopting for Life” conference, as we think together about how God might be leading us to be on mission with Christ for the sake of the orphans of the world.

Join me and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we talk about how we can carry out the Great Commission through adoption. After all, adoption is about more than a manifesto. Caring for the orphans of the world, in the end, is about the gospel of our Lord — and our brother — Jesus.


Boy, wouldn't it be an amazing experience to go to that conference?!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quote of the week...

I almost forgot to share this one with you...it came from my dear son Micah! We were getting ready to get on the second plane the day of our trip out here to New York and Micah started rubbing his legs and said, "Boy, mom, I think I have "jet leg" from this trip...my legs are really starting to hurt from sitting so long!"

I'll never hear the word "jet lag" again without giggling! :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We Arrived!!!


I sit here on the bed, using my sister-in-law's computer and listening to my husband as he sleeps beside me. Although it is well past my bedtime...almost 1 am in the morning...my body is telling me that it's only 10 pm and I don't need sleep just yet. I have a feeling it won't be feeling that way in the morning when I have to get up for church! :)

I sit here with a full heart...full of thanksgiving, that is. Thank you all for your prayers, the day of travel was long...but it was wonderful. The kids truly did marvelous..both on the airplanes and in the airport...even running alongside of us from one end of the airport to the other when it looked like we were going to miss our connecting flight (which we did not, praise the Lord!). We got lots of looks and comments and thankfully, more smiles than stares. Our testimony was not in words but I pray was visible is some small way to those around us. Be it through our times of prayer as we ate in the airport or in what we read as we sat on the plane...YES, they were that good that I was able to have my quiet time and Bryan was able to read part of a book he got by D.A. Carson while we were on the plane!:)

And I was so thankful for the time that I got to have in the Word as God reminded me of something so precious and beautiful but so easily forgotten. In John 12 Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those words rang deep in my soul as I thought about the coming two weeks and a house full of people. Each and every moment I have a choice to make...to die to self and serve others or to seek to "live" unto myself and have my own way. Only one way produces fruit...only one way is the way in which Christ lived, only one way brings true joy.

To truly live we must deny self, take up the cross (die to self) and follow Christ. It's the most "unnatural" thing to do and yet it is the path of blessing and obedience...the path of true joy and peace. To our flesh, it is foolishness to serve and give up our desires for another and yet, Jesus says it is the ONLY way to live a fruit-filled life!

These next couple of weeks I have many opportunities to live in obedience to God's Word and seek to be a servant...there will be at least 19 other people to consider each day. I pray that the Lord quickens my heart to do His will, convicts me of when it is MY will that I am seeking and that our family time together is not only filled with sweet conversation and amazing food...but is filled with lots of fruit...fruit that will last well beyond our trip and into eternity!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Up, Up and Away We Go!!!!


Tomorrow we leave for New York (upstate, not the city!:)) and today we head down to Seattle since our flight leaves at 7 in the morning on Friday (now that would be a post...how to get 8 people to the airport by 5:30 A.M when 6 of them are 9 and under!:)). We will be spending a wonderful amount of time with our family there and get back the beginning of December. Grace is extra excited as she will get to celebrate her birthday while we are there!

I have always thought it would be so cool to go on the TV show "The Amazing Race". While that may not be a reality, I have decided that I am going to pretend that I am on "The Amazing Race" tomorrow and see the whole day as one big adventure instead of one big overwhelming day to just "get through". In fact, I had hopes of making my own shirt that said "This Is MY Amazing Race"...but I seem to have ran short of time!:) And, although we may not have the "world" watching us on TV...I am sure there will be plenty of people who take notice of our "clan" and we would LOVE your prayers that the Lord would allow us to be a light and a testimony of HIS transforming grace tomorrow on the airplane and in the airport!

My desire is to continue to blog and post pictures of our trip while we are there...but desire and reality are often two different things!:) So, if my blog is silent for a while, just know that we have not dropped off the face of the earth...we just dropped in on the other side of the country and we are having a lot of fun. Of course, some may call 12 children all age 9 and under just plain crazy...but my in-laws have the joy of calling them all grandchildren and my kids have the excitement of meeting and playing with all their cousins...some whom they have never met and even those they did meet it's all a bit fuzzy for them! What sweet memories will be made!

"Let all that you do be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Only One Thing Is Necessary


"But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

The blog, Girltalk, has been taking a look at this passage the last week and I have also been reminded of it as Martha and Mary's names keep coming up in my reading in the book of John. It's a reminder that I have needed. Life is busy...and right now my life seems a little bit busier than I can keep up with. We are so excited to be leaving for New York this week to visit all of Bryan's family. We have not been back in over 5 years and are so thankful for this amazing opportunity to spend time together, for the cousins to get to know each other, for everyone to meet Samuel and Caleb and just for the blessing of being able to make some sweet memories together!

Right now, though, I am still in the midst of packing, organizing, and trying to get everything together for our trip. It's a little bit daunting and, as a result, my normal routine of doing things has taken a bit of a backseat. There is nothing wrong with that...except when the ONE THING THAT IS NECESSARY takes a backseat too! Over the years I have truly developed a habit of being in God's Word everyday but somehow I still manage to forget it's UTMOST importance in my day. I forget that it was Jesus Himself Who said that it was/is the ONE THING that is necessary. Sadly, there are times when being in the Word of God IS little more than a habit and a discipline and I forget that God's Words are the Words of life. I find myself "sitting" at the Lord's feet, as Mary did...but, unlike her, I am not really listening...not clinging to His words the way that I should.

Our life is to be lived to glorify the Lord and the Lord has clearly spoken that there is one thing that is necessary for doing that...may we be children who see the importance, the priority and the blessing of obeying the Lord and daily sitting at His feet, listening to the One Who's words give life because He gave up HIS life!

"I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices." Psalm 16:8-9

Monday, November 16, 2009

Walking in David's Shoes


There is a passage of Scripture that I have been "chewing on" a lot lately. It's found in 2 Samuel 24 where David decides to number the men of Israel to find out just how many soldiers he had. Joab advises against it (and, the passage makes it clear that David also knew that he should not have done it) and, in the end, the nation reaps some serious consequences.

The MacArthur Study Bible puts it like this in it's commentary on verse 10: "David's insight saw the seriousness of his error in relying on numerical strength instead of on the Lord, who can deliver by many or few."

I find myself often in David's shoes. No...I may not be counting an army...but there is always something else that I want to know about. While I know that I can fully trust God's promises, trust His leading and plan....and know that He will take care of me and my family and give us what is best I find that my flesh is quick to rear it's ugly head to want to "know for myself" to "be sure" to "be in control"...and often it does not look as ugly to me as it should. It is often cushioned in..."I just want to be a good steward" or "I want to plan wisely" but, in my heart, it is nothing more than a lack of trust in God...a questioning of His Sovereignty in all things.

God took David's "questioning" seriously and a lot of lives were lost as a result. My prayer is that the Lord would help me to take MY "questioning" seriously and be quick to repent instead of quick to excuse my thoughts. That I would be quick to be satisfied completely in Christ come what may!

Spurgeon had some sweet words of encouragement this morning and I thought it was a fitting way to end this post:

"The Lord is my portion, saith my soul."—Lamentations 3:24.

It is not "The Lord is partly my portion," nor "The Lord is in my portion"; but He Himself makes up the sum total of my soul's inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not His grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Jehovah Himself. He has chosen us for His portion, and we have chosen Him for ours....The Lord is our all-sufficient portion. God fills Himself; and if God is all-sufficient in Himself, He must be all-sufficient for us. It is not easy to satisfy man's desires. When he dreams that he is satisfied, anon he wakes to the perception that there is somewhat yet beyond, and straightway the horse-leech in his heart cries, "Give, give." But all that we can wish for is to be found in our divine portion, so that we ask, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Qoute week Day 5

I'll end the week with a long one by J.C. Ryle in "The Duties of Parents"...but well worth the read!

This is an object which it is worth any labour to attain. No habit, I suspect, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you, though it may cost you much trouble, and cost them many tears. Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying, and answering again. When you give them a command, let them see plainly that you will have it done.

Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith incarnate. It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord's people. "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they do whatsoever their parents command them. Where, indeed, is the honour which the fifth commandment enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully, willingly, and at once?

Early obedience has all Scripture on its side. It is in Abraham's praise, not merely he will train his family, but "he will command his children and his household after him" (Gen. 18:19). It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that when "He was young He was subject to Mary and Joseph" (Luke 2:51). Observe how implicitly Joseph obeyed the order of his father Jacob (Gen. 37:13). See how Isaiah speaks of it as an evil thing, when "the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient" (Isa. 3:5). Mark how the Apostle Paul names disobedience to parents as one of the bad signs of the latter days (II Tim. 3:2). Mark how he singles out this grace of requiring obedience as one that should adorn a Christian minister: "a bishop must be one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity." And again, "Let the deacons rule their children and their own houses well" (I Tim. 3:4, 12). And again, an elder must be one "having faithful children, children not accused of riot, or unruly" (Tit. 1: 6).

Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care, then, that you train them to obey when they are spoken to, – to do as they are bid. Believe me, we are not made for entire independence, – we are not fit for it. Even Christ's freemen have a yoke to wear, – they "serve the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:24). Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in which we are not all intended to rule, and that we are never in our right place until we know how to obey our betters. Teach them to obey while young, or else they will be fretting against God all their lives long, and wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.

Reader, this hint is only too much needed. You will see many in this day who allow their children to choose and think for themselves long before they are able, and even make excuses for their disobedience, as if it were a thing not to be blamed. To my eyes, a parent always yielding, and a child always having its own way, are a most painful sight; – painful, because I see God's appointed order of things inverted and turned upside down; – painful, because I feel sure the consequence to that child's character in the end will be self-will, pride, and self-conceit. You must not wonder that men refuse to obey their Father which is in heaven, if you allow them, when children, to disobey their father who is upon earth.

Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Qoute week Day 4

"Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others or our tight grip of control." Francis Chan

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you." Psalm 55:22

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It really does fall within my quote week....

I just had a chance to read "Katie's Blog" called "The Journey"...it's on my toolbar on the side of my blog. Boy, does that girl and her ministry bless my heart! I know it will bless your, too...that is why I am encouraging you to read it! :) Oh...and in case you are wondering how this fits into my quote week...she does have a great quote by Francis Chan in her post...so I am good to go! :) tee-hee

Qoute week Day 3

"Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you." Oswald Chambers

Okay...I've made it to day 3...can I comment a little?:) I love this quote because it is the very thing I often struggle with. Seeing everyone else's life through the lens of MY life instead of seeing my fellow believer's lives through the lens of God's Word. The whole point of the "body" of Christ is that we are DIFFERENT, or, as Chambers said it "original". I want to rejoice in the differences and see God's creative plans instead of thinking they should do it just like me! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quote week day 2

Maybe a poem does not necessarily fit into the category of a quote, but when my son brought this to me after writing it during his devotions, I couldn't help but share it with you. It's amazing the theology that comes "out of the mouth of babes"! Boy did he bless my heart!

God is strong;
Men are wrong.
God killed His Son Who was strong;
Jesus was killed even when He did no wrong.
Hallelujah! Jesus has made me strong!

Micah Pichura

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho It's Off to the Doctors We Go!


I know it is quote week...but I had to throw this update in!:) We found ourselves back at the doctors again today (that makes two Mondays in a row!!!) because Faith has just not seemed herself this past week. Saying that she does not feel good, that she is tired...and, as the week progressed, her cough got worse and not better. Yep...you guessed it and x-rays confirmed it...she has pneumonia. Thankfully, it is not a "bad case" but still one that needed an antibiotic!

Have a mentioned in the past what a fantastic doctor our doctor is?!? Of course, it's an added blessing that he goes to our church and we call him our friend, too! Dr. Taylor took the time to show the kids the x-rays and explain it all to them which was such a neat blessing because that is what we have been studying in science this month...the main parts that make up all bodies....skin, organs, bones and muscles! How cool that they got to see Faith's bones and the organ called her lungs!

So, in the end, I would say you could call our trip to the doctors as much of an appointment as it was a field trip! Thanks Dr. Taylor for your wonderful care and concern and for giving us a science lesson while we were there! I wonder what it will be next Monday?!:)

Quote week!

I am going to try something new this week and take each day to post a quote. The part that I am going to "try" is to JUST post a quote.:) That will be a bit more challenging for me as I love to write and I love to talk and I love to share...but, the reason why quotes are "quotable" is because they can stand alone and be pretty thought provoking all by themselves. So, this week, I'll let YOU share YOUR thoughts in the comments instead of the other way around!:)

"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." Tim Kizziar

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Grace's Piano Recital

video
Yesterday was the big day. Grace was so excited all day and almost as nervous. The nerves really kicked in about 10 minutes before the recital began and my heart just broke for her as she sat next to me with tears running down her face, the whole time trying to act like she was fine. She was so precious.

We prayed with her in the car on the way there and I prayed with her while we sat waiting...but, in the end, I just had to pray FOR her. This was something she needed to do even though it was so hard for her and, in her own words, "I was shaking so bad I didn't think I could move". When she was done and had sat back down I could feel her heart pounding and she was just as close to tears as she was right before she went up...but, this time they were tears of relief and she was all smiles again!

Tonight I learned exactly what recitals are for...especially for the younger kids. They really have nothing to do with showcasing their "vast talent" as there really is none at that point.:)
It's all about teaching the kids to overcome their fears and learn to share the gift God has given them with others. It's a valuable lesson and I am so glad that Grace is learning it now and that, through tears, she still persevered and didn't give up!

We celebrated her recital with Grace's favorite dessert...brownies and cookie dough ice cream. Let's face it, after sitting through over an hour of watching a bunch of kids play piano and flute pieces...everyone deserved some ice cream!:)
Way to go, Gracie Girl! We can't wait to see all the ways in which God will use your hard work of learning to play the piano to continue to glorify Him and spread the Gospel to those around you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amost forgot this tid bit :)

I can't believe I forgot to post this "funny" last night....earlier this week, I asked the kids to clean up the dishes after dinner for me. I know that should be a regular request, but it is not something they are in the habit of doing. Well, I stayed out of the kitchen and let them do the job to the best of their ability. I guess Grace and Titus were the driving force of the clean up and Titus was given the job of loading the dishwasher. Here is what I found when I opened the dishwasher:
And,yes, it really is 8 plates shoved into one slot! :)

Also, if you have not had a chance to read the comments under my post from Monday,"How Do We Weep With Them" I would encourage you to scroll down and check it out. I was blessed and encouraged by those who shared and gained some new insight and some needed reminders on how to minister!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tid Bits and Big Bits

There have been a few things that have happened that I have just not blogged about and I thought today was as good of a day as any to let you into some of the laughter and sights that go on in the Pichura House...and some of the special joys too!

It has been getting pretty cold out lately and so the rule is pretty simple...if you want to go outside, you had better have a coat on. Although the rule may be simple, the implementation of that rule is not always as simple...especially in the case of Caleb. I looked outside my bedroom window when I was in there putting something away and I couldn't help but bust up laughing as I watched Caleb run around the yard. This is how I saw him:

He and Samuel had me giggling and then amazed all in the matter of a few seconds yesterday. We were all in the car and I noticed Caleb was pretty quiet so I said, "Hey Caleb, are you okay?". He replied, "Your okay", instead of saying "I'm okay" and that got me giggling. It wasn't but a moment, though, and my mouth dropped open when I heard Samuel say, "No, Caleb. It's not "your okay" it's "I'm okay""!!!! How's that for learning English? And speaking of learning English. I was encouraged today to see just how comfortable Samuel is when it comes to speaking English. In the past during Bible time when we have gone around the table to pray he has done so very hesitantly and not very willingly. This morning at breakfast, though, he asked if he could pray at lunchtime! Of course, I said yes and was delighted to hear the following as we bowed our head to say thanks for our lunch: "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this lunch. Thank you for school. Help no be rude, no cry, no unkind help Jesus. Thank you for this food. In Jesus name, Amen"! It's more precious than words can express!!!

It blows my mind to think that the boys have been in our home for 3 1/2 months! Where does the time go? I can honestly say, it feels wonderful and normal and right and comfortable and genuine and amazing...and it has taken time to be able to use all of those words!!! Don't get me wrong, there are 8 sinners living in this house, there are 8 people who want their own way WAY more often then we should, there are 8 people who are moment by moment have to make the CHOICE to love and to self-sacrificially serve one another and there are 8 people who fail at making God glorifying choices all the time. But we live under grace, we forgive as we are forgiven and we all have the best example you could ever have...the Lord Jesus Christ!

The kids have all come so far...especially my sons. Titus was lost for a while...his place as "the baby" was replaced and it has taken him these past 3 months to fully grasp that HE was not replaced but is loved just as much as ever. And, in turn, we have seen him RETURN to our little hugger, our sweet encourager and our smiley guy. There is not a couple hours that go by without a hug and words of love from my little man and, as I tell him often, my heart is blessed by his little life! Caleb and Titus have become the dearest of friends and their giggles echo throughout our house all morning long while the older kids school. They play together wonderfully...football, hockey, coloring, playdough....they really do love being together.
Samuel truly did put a "kink" into Micah's "ordered" life. Micah was the "top dog". Rarely was he challenged or was there any type of real competition. Titus was more than willing to follow along with whatever Micah said without questioning a thing or having ideas of his own. Samuel changed all that and Micah's heart was constantly tested. I'll be very honest, it has been hard for him and hard for us trying to shepherd his heart. Many times there has been nothing left to say except encouraging him to pray that the Lord would change His heart. He knew what he should be doing, he just couldn't do it. I am not sure exactly where Micah is at in regards to salvation...but I do know that the Lord has used our adoption to show Micah that he can do nothing good apart from Christ, that our situations reveal what is in our heart...they do not cause us to sin, that God's strength is perfected in our weakness and that God truly is opposed (an enemy) to the proud but He gives great grace to the humble.
These last few weeks we have seen sprouts of life in their relationship that are growing bigger and bigger and bearing sweet fruit. There is sorrow over sin, there are smiles exchanged that are real and from the heart and just precious to see, there is a real desire to listen to Samuel and enter into the world that he lived in in Ethiopia and understand what life was like and how that affects his life now. Just tonight, they spent 1/2 hour together...Micah was teaching Samuel to play a simple song on the guitar. HUGE!!!! Samuel wants to be like Micah and Micah is starting to see that, understand the weight of it and respond in joy instead of irritation. The steps are small...but they are steps and they are beautiful to watch!

Grace and Faith continue to grow into little ladies. Faith LOVES to read and has just finished a 10 book series and is ready for more! She has really enjoyed the books on missionaries that we are reading at lunch and has declared that she wants to be a missionary one day. She also loves watching the Duggar Family on TV (yep...the family with the 18 kids...we record it and then watch it together...it's GREAT!:)). Last week she asked me if we were going to adopt any more kids because she thinks we should have 12 kids in our family. 18 is too much, she said, but 12 is a good number!:) I think she is going to have to take that one up with her Daddy!

Grace is still all about babies ( I keep wondering and praying if the Lord just might not use her desire to bless and help us one day if the Lord allows us to adopt again!). She wants to grow up and have "lots of babies" as she puts it! She is playing the piano and doing so well. Finally feeling more and more confident...which is a very good thing as she has her first recital this Saturday night and is SO excited about it! She just got a piano book full of Christmas songs from her teacher and she and Micah are working hard so they can play and we can sing together as a family!

When I look at our life as a family, I can't help but think of that brand of clothing called "Life is Good" and want a shirt for each of us that says just that. Because it is, it really is!

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."
Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes....


Today I am very thankful that we were able to stay at the "head" part of that song when we went to the doctors today!:) Our poor doctor's office must just take a deep breath when they see all of us come marching in! Today, I got smart and they came marching with school work in hand and successfully completed math while we waited!

Samuel and Caleb have had some "funk" going on on the top of their head since we got them and we tried a few topical things to no avail...so they are going to have to go on a "fungus" oral medicine for the next month or so. It really is not that gross looking...most of you would just think it was dandruff but then there will be some really thick spots that go pretty deep and stick out pretty far and I knew to throw the whole dandruff idea out the window!:) They have to be on it for 4 to 6 weeks...enough time to make sure it is ALL gone! I couldn't help but think of how many things in my life that I need the 4-6 week prescription of faithfully pursuing what is needed and fighting against what is not and instead I keep trying the 1 week dose and I end up constantly battling the same thing over and over...hmmm...just thoughts I am thinking about!:)

Poor boys also got more immunizations (yea! we are done for 6 months) and had to have blood drawn to check their liver levels before being put on the fungus medicine. I think the thing that "redeems" all these tough visits for them is the jar of lollipops that they get to reach into at the end!:)

Micah joined the boys in being "inspected" by our beloved doctor. He started complaining about his ear hurting last night and that he was dizzy. YEP, there is an infection brewing nicely in his right ear again. I am starting to think his right ear only feels "normal" if it is red and draining puss!:) And, yes, I got thinking about Micah's ear on the way home too! At the first sign of pain, we have learned to get him in to the doctors because we know what will happen if his infection goes for too long and the damage it causes. I couldn't help but think of one of Jonathan Edward's resolutions:

"Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination."


So often, I let the twinge pass, I let the uncomfortableness of what I have done disappear in the ocean of excuses and I do not cry out, "Search me O God and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be anyway in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24 And the pain only increases and my attitude only gets more sinful and I am left with such a bigger mess than what might have been.

Yep...all that from the doctors!:)

I am also pleased to report that there is no need to add "stomach" to the list of ailments either! Bryan is doing great and, whatever caused it has passed without any further issues at all! We are ALL praising the Lord for that! We had a sweet reunion last night and it was such a blessing for me to just sit and talk with my hubby as he shared about his trip. God is at work all over the world all the time and we forget because we just don't see outside of "our world". What a joy to hear about how God is at work in the lives of men, women and children in Mexico. I am hoping he will find some time for post a few of his stories for you! Thank you so much for all your prayers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

How do we weep with them?


I just started the book of Job last night as part of my reading plan. (Hard to believe another year has almost come and gone!) Boy are those two first chapters weighty, beautiful, painful and oh so encouraging in the midst of trials. As I read, I couldn't help but have the words of one of my favorite Sovereign Grace songs play in my head. "As Long as You are Glorified" must have been taken from these two chapters!(Side note...the CD it's on, "Come Weary Saints", is on sale right now!)

Anyway, I got to thinking about suffering and pain and Job's 3 friends. They get such a bum rap, but they sat for 7 WHOLE DAYS with him in silence before they even opened up their mouths. It appears that they truly came alongside of him in his grief and grieved with him. They were broken to see the situation that he was in. Unfortunately, it also seems as if their thoughts shifted in those 7 days from mourning to accusing...from grief to assumption...from bearing his burden to heaping burden upon Job.

The reality of it is, we have or will all go through situations in which we suffer intensely. We feel pain so deeply, physically or emotionally, that it takes our breath away. And I know so many of you who read my blog have been in situations like that already and I thought I would pose some questions today:

How were you encouraged most by other believers during that time? What would you share with someone who was seeking to minister to someone who was hurting deeply? Was there anything you needed most but didn't receive or something you received but that only hurt more?


As I think this through, I realize that there could be as many different answers as there are people and that doesn't necessarily make one right and the other wrong..we are all different. I know that there are different times for everything...a time to speak and a time to be quiet and time to laugh and a time to cry. I remember so clearly the times of being thankful for just having someone there who cared when Garett died, so thankful for those who gave me a hug and cried with me and said nothing at all. But I am just as thankful for the truths of Scripture that were woven in the cards that we got and the words that were said...God's words are the words of life as Peter himself said. And I needed those sweet words of life in the midst of death.

I guess I am just asking because we live in a fallen world. Pain is inevitable and, in the end, I want to learn from the mistakes Job's friends made and I truly want to be a faithful friend to those who are suffering. I am guessing you do to, so that is what prompted me to "throw out" these thoughts!

And I also know that intense pain may very well hit me again by the Sovereign hand of God, so I also want to be prepared and be so in love with Jesus that I can echo, in all sincerity, the words of Job:

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord...Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" Job 1:21a and Job 2:10b


P.S. I'll be the first to comment on my post!:) I read an article by Molly Piper (John Piper's daughter-in-law) on her blog about something that was a precious encouragement to her in the midst of losing a baby and it was a really neat perspective, so I thought I would pass it on.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Odds and Ends



Weekends seem to often be filled with odds and ends...finishing up things that were started throughout the week, or should have been started sometime in the week!:) So, I thought this post would fit perfectly with that theme...because it really is just a bunch of random thoughts or points of interest.

1) I was tickled to find that CWA put one of my posts on their blog...praying that it will encourage some of the guys and gals who are in the midst of their adoption and wondering if they will make it to the end! You can see it here:

http://www.cwa.org/blog/

2) A dear friend at church posted a CBD coupon on her blog for free shipping and I just had to share the code with you. They have not been giving out many coupon deals lately...and with Christmas shopping right around the corner, I thought it might help some of you out, too!

promotion code 289147MS

And, not that you have asked for my two cents...but a few good books I would encourage you to add to your list for Christmas are:

"Womanly Dominion" by Mark Chanski
"A Gospel Primer for Christians" by Milton Vincent
"Practicing Hospitality:The Joy of Serving Others" by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock

We have been spending time at lunch each day reading through books (for kids) about missionaries. What a wonderful time it has been to talk about the precious role of missionaries as well as hear beautiful stories of how God has used the lives of other believers in amazing ways. Two that I would highly recommend are:

"These Are My People" by Milly Howard
"With Daring Faith" (biography of Amy Carmichael) by Rebecca Henry Davis

And, I can't help but highlight the DVD "Torchlighters Series" put out by Vision Video which highlights men and women like John Bunyan, Gladys Alyward, William Tyndale, Eric Lidell, Jim Elliot, etc...a great resource!!!

Don't forget the Christmas music...it's playing in our car already! :)

"Shout Praises: Kid's Christmas"

And you can get it all at CBD! Boy, maybe they will pay me to do "commercials" for them!:)

3)I made pumpkin pancakes for the kids yesterday morning (actually, I made a ton! Nothing like lots of pancakes in your freezer for a quick extra special breakfast!). Anyway, I like the recipe so much I thought I would share it with you! Click HERE for the recipe. I tweaked it a little bit: just added 2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice instead of the individual spices and I doubled the eggs based on other reviews). Bake them at about 325 on your griddle and they do take longer to bake but are WELL worth it...especially in combination with a pack of instant coffee from Starbucks. Those little packets are pricey but well worth a special treat!!! :)

3)Cutting the heads of 6 children took WAY longer than I thought it would last night! Good thing we got an extra hour! :)
I took 15 pictures of the kids...and I still couldn't get a good one! Oh well! :)

4)Next weekend is National Orphan Sunday (November 8th) and I was sent an email by CWA sharing a neat event that will take place that day...thought I would pass it on to you!

CRY OF THE ORPHAN

Greetings! It's my privilege to alert you to an upcoming live simulcast event that promises to be a moving and inspiring time for all who participate. We ask that you join our team here at Focus on the Family® as we help mobilize believers to provide tangible assistance to orphans.

In conjunction with National Orphan Sunday on November 8, 2009, Focus on the Family, Show Hope, and Hope for Orphans (a ministry of FamilyLife) will come together at 4:00 p.m. (EST) to serve as a voice for more than 140 million orphans around the world. Listen live to Grammy award-winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman in a special acoustic performance, and to Dennis Rainey, President of FamilyLife, and myself as we share our deep burden and compassion for orphans.

We're exhorted in Proverbs 31:8 to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." While not everyone is in a position to visit an orphanage or adopt a child, this verse reminds us that there is something each of us can do. One person advocating for one child can make all the difference.

Please consider how you and your church might participate in this special live broadcast, which will be made available through a Web-based video stream, a satellite feed, and on many radio stations across the nation. To learn more about this historic event, visit:

http://www.CryoftheOrphan.org

Thank you for joining us as we come alongside children in need of a forever home. May God guide each of us toward that end. Blessings to you and yours!

5)Last, but most important...I just got a call from my hubby earlier this afternoon and he is not feeling well...really bad stomach pain. Please pray that it goes away or that his symptoms do not get worse as he is supposed to be flying home from Mexico tomorrow morning with two teens from our church and the rest of the group! Last year he got really sick when he got home from Mexico (he got a parasite) and I know that he is nervous that this could be the beginning of something again. Please pray for peace for my dear hubby!

Happy Lord's Day!