Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Bryan and Happy Last Day in the USA!

This January we have celebrated two Pichura birthdays at my brother's house...Faith's a couple of weeks ago and now Bryan's today! Birthday cake number two for Michelle! :) (Thanks dear sister in law for making Bryan's Boston Cream Pie!)

We had a wonderful morning of worship at Mars Hill Church and, of course, it's always wonderful to be with family! It's hard to believe we head for the border tomorrow! Thanks for all your prayers and we would love and appreciate your prayers over the next couple of days. Tomorrow, we have to "register" our cars before getting to the border and then at the border, Bryan will apply for(and prayerfully get) his work visa. We have been told that, if all goes well, it should only take a half an hour. After that, we have to go to the custom's holding area to show all of our paperwork and get our "house" released. Assuming that goes well, they will drop off the trailer Tuesday morning and we will start to unload it then. I have a feeling it is going to be busy and even a bit stressful and we really do desire to glorify God through the craziness of what the next few days may hold!

Okay, back to my hubby and his birthday. There are so many things I could share with you about my husband...but the one thing that matters most is that he loves Jesus more than anything else and that love spills over in beautiful ways to me, to our kids and to those he ministers too! He is my most favorite earthly treasure!:)
Faith said it even more precious than I did in her card to Bryan:

"Happy Birthday Dad I love you so so much and I'm glad you are my Dad and I'm glad mom gave birth to me so I can celebrate your birthday with me. Love you, Faith"

Does it get any sweeter than that?

And, in is a quote from this morning's message (Mark Driscoll) worth thinking about:

"Instead of letting everything wrong get to you, first find out what is wrong with you."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vacation Time!!!

Okay, so not really :), but it helps describe a bit how I am starting to feel. You know what it is like when you are planning on going on vacation? You are so excited to go...but very quickly you realize all that needs to be done to get everything ready and you find your thoughts and emotions centered around just getting the things done that are necessary. So, until everything is ready to go, you excitement is kinda put on the back burner?

Well...maybe that is not you...but it's me! And, that is kinda where I have been the last week or so. Not able to see much more than what was in front of me!:) Now, there is a lot less in front of me :) and even our Suburban is in the shop which has meant a full day at home today...and it's starting to hit home...we really are going!!! YIPEE!

A couple of days ago, in our family worship, Bryan shared with us from Joshua 4. The Israelites were crossing the Jordan River and getting ready to enter the Promise Land, Canaan. Before the priests exited the river and the water flowed freely again, Joshua had each of the heads of the tribes gather a stone to make a "pile" and be a reminder of where they had been and God's faithfulness and handiwork in the past as they excitedly looked forward to what He had planned for them in the future!

We each took turns sharing things ways that God had worked in our lives and in our family and things we were thankful for in our time here in Yakima. It was a precious time of remembering and praising the Lord...and it was also full of excitement in the future...our kids called it "their" Promise Land and Micah was quick to point out that Canada and Canaan both started with the letter "C"!:)

I sit here tonight praising the Lord for His faithfulness in the past and the confidence I have knowing that He is a God that does not change and will continue to be faithful in the future! And the excitement is starting to well in my heart as I look toward our future in Canada and as I read verses like Ephesians 3:20-21:

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

"Look After Orphans"

That is the title of one of the articles in my most recent WORLD's all about how churches can become adoption-friendly. One of my dear friends is in the process of helping her church begin an adoption I figured there might be others of you who might be headed down that road yourself and this is a great place to start reading!:)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And I thought I would be "twiddling my thumbs"....

I was vacuuming the house this afternoon (our landlord was coming to inspect before giving our deposit back!) and I started to giggle wondering how I could ever have thought that I would be "twiddling my thumbs" this week once our furniture was gone! Life has not slowed down a bit...but we feel like we are finally getting to the top of the "moving out hill". I am praying that the "moving in hill" will be a little bit smaller...but I know that there will still be much to do and much to overwhelm me if I am trying to do it in my own strength with eyes fixed on the situations instead of my Savior! My flesh has won many battles this week but I have great hope knowing that the ultimate victory has already been won,in Christ, and that I am not enslaved to my flesh and desires but I have been freed from them. Freed to be a slave of Christ with all the rights and privileges of a son (daughter)...what a beautiful truth!!!

"Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Cor. 10:31) It was one of the easiest verses to memorize, but the weight of it is anything but easy. In fact, it's impossible apart from Christ. Something as mundane as eating and drinking, as mundane as changing a diaper or doing the dishes or cleaning the house, as mundane as packing up boxes knowing they will be unpacked only a couple weeks later...those things are the very things that I am to do with zeal for the glory of God!

So, random as they may be, those are the truths I have been preaching to myself the last few days...and when I am not preaching...I am listening to myself and losing the battle every time I do! :)

My kids have also encouraged my heart, too. I have to share a couple things from today that warmed my "momma's heart".

Grace and I picked up Tessie from the vet (she spent the day there after being "put under" to get her teeth cleaned...don't even ask!!!!) and Grace stayed in the car with Tessie while I ran in the store to grab something. As I was getting close to the car to get in I hit the unlock button on my key chain. It spooked Grace and, seconds later when I got into the car this is what she said:

"Mom, I thought that was a robber and I got scared...but then I just thought, well, I'll tell him about Jesus and then maybe he will take me back to my family."

I was blown away that that is what her first thoughts were...thank you Lord!!!

And a little while ago Micah brought me a song that he wrote (he even put in what scale should be played on the guitar!)and I thought that I would close by sharing it with you. I continue to praise the Lord for how He is going before us and preparing the way both physically and in our hearts and our kid's hearts!

verse: "I am going to Canada! We are going for ministry. I liked Yakima but it is
time to move on."

chorus: "I am going to Canada!(2x)I will do anything for the Lord." (G scale)

verse: "I will miss my friends. They were kind to me. I liked Yakima but it is time
to move on."

chorus: "I am going to Canada!(2x) I will do anything for the Lord." (G scale)

end: "Jesus plans everything."

Monday, January 25, 2010

The container is officially shut!

I'll post more later...but just wanted you all to know that Bryan officially closed the container at 1:50 pm!!!:) My man has worked really hard and we are so glad to have the loading done! Not everything made it in the we have some "craiglisting" to do tonight!:)

Right now we are finishing up writing it all down and adding a value to our "house in a box"!!! All this paperwork is taking me back to the days of our "dossier" when we were preparing for our adoption!:)

Thanks for your prayers!!! Lord willing, we will be driving onto "Canadian soil" on February 1st to stay for good!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who are you following?

"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ."
I Corinthians 11:1

A friend was sharing with me last night (through email) something that Charles Spurgeon had said and I loved the truth and weight of it: "Every word in the Bible is inhabited by the Spirit and is powerful." Every word! And that includes the words in 1 Cor. 11:1 where God encourages us to follow Paul as he follows Christ. Paul exhorts Timothy to set an example for the believers in 1 Timothy 4:12. God knows the blessing that it is to have examples to look to as we seek to be like Christ! In fact, we are encouraged to follow godly examples.

That is part of the beauty of discipleship...there is always someone who knows more than you and you can look up to and learn from as a godly example and there are others who know less than you and that look up to YOU as a godly example...and, when the focus is Christ, beautiful discipleship can take place from that. Okay...that was a rabbit trail...back to why I shared the verse!:)

The Lord has given me a "Paul" in this season of life called moving. Her name is Dorothy and she is a mother to 11 children (most of whom are adopted...with the most recent adoption being that of a newborn baby a couple of days before Christmas!). She also happens to be MOVING right now from MN (and Bethlehem Baptist...yep, home of beloved John Piper) to Colorado where her husband is beginning a new teaching position. I have had her blog address on my blog for a long time under "Blogs that Bless" and her blog has been a special encouragement to me this past month as her attitude and example in the midst of packing, moving and a brand new baby has blessed my heart greatly.

I am so thankful for examples...for Titus 2 men and women. And that thankfulness spills over into a passion to BE an example. To live a life that loves Jesus more than anything else and encourage others to love Him too! I am so thankful for God's plan, for the ultimate example in Jesus Christ and for the example of so many who have gone before me or who are apart of my life right now that testify that God is enough and that live out Psalm 16:11b:

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

Day Three of Packing...

I do not have a picture to share with this blog post...but I can tell you that the trailer is about 85% full and we are praying that that means we only have 15% of our stuff left in our house, backyard and the garage. Our eyes are telling us that we might have more like 20% of stuff to fit into the tomorrow afternoon could be a bit on the interesting side!:)

Today was a bit stretching for me. If you know me well, you know that I do not like to read manuals on how to put together or work things...just tell me what to do, or I'll try to figure it out for a couple of minutes before handing the whole thing off to Bryan!:) If it is something that takes a while to figure out or put together...than, in the end, it's something I will probably never use because I won't take the time to figure it out. Is it sin to be like that? I don't think so...but I know that I have often responded sinfully when put in positions were I had to do those things! Bryan,on the other hand, is GREAT at slowly and methodically working on things, putting them together, reading the manual, etc. I am learning more and more why it is a GOOD thing to be so different! :) back to the stretching part! Today was a day full of very SLOW, METHODICAL thinking, planning and arranging. The truck became like a puzzle and our household goods like puzzle pieces. We moved from boxes that could be stacked nice and neat to things that did not stack so nice and neat and required much extra thinking and many extra trips up and down the truck ramp looking for just the right item to fit into just the right space. See what I mean by stretching?:) It took so much longer today to see progress than yesterday and I started to wonder if the truck would ever get packed. See...I started to respond with sinful grumbling in my heart to the situation that He had placed me in. I knew that I would not be a good helpmate to my hubby and would not honor the Lord and glorify Him where He placed me ( going into and out of the house all day!) if I didn't start preaching to myself.

And...I am trying to remember that His will for me at all times in all situations is 1 Thess. 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks." are some things I started thanking the Lord for:

1) That Bryan's back and knee had not "gone out" with all the pulling and lifting and pushing and tugging he was doing.

2) That none of us had tripped or fallen going up or down the ramp 100's of times.

3) That it was, once again, over 50 degrees today and just glorious...and it looks like God has plans to change the weather to cold and snow on Monday...after we should be all packed up!

4) That our kids had servant's hearts and were big help when we needed them...and that they played well (hockey!) when we didn't.

5)That I can still glorify that Lord and honor Him even when I am doing something that seems as "unspiritual" as loading a truck.

6)That Bryan is my husband. He is the opposite of me in almost every way and that can drive me crazy in my flesh. But he is the most precious gift from God, apart from my salvation, that I have ever received and he is the exact person that I need to help make me holy!!! He is strong where I am weak...and these last couple of days he has been a wonderful example to me...not complaining (though I know he aches and is tired) but pressing on and encouraging me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and take it moment by moment!

With that said, it was a very fruitful day! There is more to be done, but we have the time to do it...and prayerfully, the space as well!:)I am off to bed...which is currently a sleeping bag on an aero bed in the family room!:)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day Two of Packing...

I figured I would snap a picture of our family room....that is almost all that is left (in the house) that needs to go in the truck by way of boxes and misc.!!! Don't get me wrong...there is still our room to be finished, a few more boxes to be packed in the kitchen and a whole garage to get in order and on the truck...and there are still bunk beds to be taken apart and some furniture to be loaded...but SO MUCH was done today!!!!

Bryan moved what seemed like thousands of pounds of furniture and boxes...with the help of a dolly and this huge belt that he used to tie the dressers onto the dolly. The "belt" was something he had to use for physical therapy on his knee and he just knew there would be something else he could use it for one day, so he held on to it. We both got a good chuckle with just how handy that thing came in today!:) He also had a lot of help from his kids...especially Titus. Wherever Dad is...that's where Titus wants to be! The boys also got in a couple of hours of hockey in the backyard with their new "Christmas" hockey sticks!:)

It was a long day...but there was so much to be thankful for:

-temperatures that topped 50 degrees....and we even got to see our mountains today! Truth is, this time of year we could easily be dealing with freezing temps. not to mention snow or rain!

-approval to take our vehicles into Canada! Whew...what a relief to have that one out of the way.

-a fruitful drive to find Tessie's vet:) and an appt. for next week to get the "official" paperwork we need for her!:)

-a washer and dryer that doesn't require breaks and keeps cleaning and drying away!:)

-friends who took time to come help us with the "heavy stuff" and share in our day

But most of all, for a faithful God Who never slumbers or sleeps or grows tired like we do!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Packing time!

Does that picture speak volumes or what?:)

When I saw the rig pulling the trailer up to our house my heart did a little "thump". That is OUR container...and ALL of our stuff has to be in it by Monday night!

It has been a whirlwind the last few days and that feeling of having a million things to do will probably not go away until the container is gone...then we will be "camping" in an empty house twiddling our thumbs for 4 days!:)

Moving is not the easiest with 6 kids...moving to CANADA is proving that much more challenging! Here are some examples of why:

1)We cannot take any used mattress into Canada unless it has been cleaned and fumigated and we have an "official" letter to prove it. Who would have thought bed bugs might follow us into Canada! :)

2)We have to have proof that Tessi has had a rabbi's shot in the last 3 years and we have to have a letter with that proof stating what she looks like. :) Tomorrow, I am off to try to find the vet we took her too... I can't find the paperwork or the name of the vet we went to!:)

3)In order to take our vehicles across the border (to live there) we have to get pre-approved permission. That has meant filling out worksheets, getting titles and a letter from our lienholder (on the Suburban) giving us permission to take the vehicle out of the country, scanning everything and then emailing it to the export division on the border. I just got that praying for a favorable outcome!:)

4)Car insurance in Canada is enough to make you feel sick....and, I found out the day we left Canada, that, without proof that we are 8 years "claim free" our insurance could be to the tune of $6,500!!!! After a LONG time on the phone I was able to track down our last 3 car insurance companies and I have confirmed 7 years 11 months of claim free driving. I guess we'll have to bite the bullet on the other month!:) Still, our insurance will be to the tune of $3,500 for the year...almost quadruple what we are paying now! Apparently, we are spoiled here in America with car insurance choices and much lower premiums!

Then there is the packing....we have had to "go nuts" once we found out the container would need to arrive much earlier than we had thought in order for us to have it delivered to our new place in Canada on the 2nd of February. A dear friend came over and helped me tackle picture frames and the kitchen today and what a blessing that was! Both of the kids rooms also got packed today...but if you looked at Bryan's and my room you would think we just threw everything in there! :) That is my big project for tomorrow morning while Bryan starts loading the truck.

Sunday, the title of the message Pastor Rob preached was "Prayer: A Supernatural Response to Trouble" (from the text in James 5:13-18). I am so thankful for his encouragement from the Word and so many of the things he shared have echoed over and over in my mind these last few days. Praying to my Lord should be the first thing I always do in response to Who God is and what God is doing. Prayer must come first...showing my dependence on God and my need for His help in every situation must be my primary response. EVERYTHING else should be secondary.

Yet, I find myself so quick, when a trial/trouble arises (and there have been PLENTY of them this week!) to immediately start strategizing and start growing fearful if my plan does not seem to help the situation. God's will for me is that I "rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks." I am so thankful for the message preached and how God has used it in my life this week to turn me towards Him first and foremost. And, because I am learning to go to Him first...I can already tell you the sweet blessing that has been mine in being given a peaceful heart and seeing HIM work out situation after situation...instead of seeing myself as the one who "pulled it off".

I can only hope I am making husband says I keep repeating myself today and saying weird things...hopefully I have had a moment of clarity in this blog post!:)

Thanks for your prayers and your emails of encouragement. Forgive me for being slow to reply (or maybe not even replying at all)...the time is just not there at the moment...but know that you have encouraged my heart and I am so thankful knowing you are praying. I wish I had time to list out all the little details that God has continued to beautifully take care of when, any one of them, could have kept us from entering Canada on the 1st!

I will try to keep you posted as I can but know that we are doing well, by the grace of God, and that we are as busy as bees and rejoicing in the reason for being so busy!

Isaiah 42:8 says, "I am the Lord; that is My name; My glory I give to no other" and we continue to pray that we behold the Lord in all His glory (even in this really crazy time) and that we give HIM all the praise and glory in this move!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Well, the votes are all in...and they want us to come!:) Let the craziness begin!

I will try to give more of an update tomorrow...but, for now, just wanted you all to hear the good news.

Long story short, although we just got back last night from Canada...we had to head back out to Hood River to go get our dog today. We planned to make the trip later in the week...but plans changed! I have a feeling there just might be a lot of that going on the next week or two!

Thank you for all your prayers!!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Sun is Shining and It's A Beautiful Day!!!!

We woke up this morning to clear skies and the sun! It's the first day without rain and the first day we got to see the view from the Hampton Inn...and what a view it is!

Speaking of view...we also got to view a house today...and it is the one!!!!!
Lord willing, we will be renting the top floor which contains about 2,000 square feet of living space and four bedrooms at a price we can afford. WE ARE SO EXCITED!!! Besides the pink carpet:) it is beyond our expectations and we stand in awe of how the Lord has provided. The set up is perfect for entertaining, homeschooling and there is a yard for the kids to play in...complete with cherry,apple and pear trees!:) Our landlord will be living below us and he is a really sweet single guy who is as accommodating as ever! He even said I was free to add some color to the walls...whatever I would like! If you know me, you know I like color and just knowing that makes it feel way more like home! I will share more details once we are moved in and I can show you some pictures to go with it!

And, as the cherry on top, he had a beautiful couch and love seat (something I would have bought myself) that he GAVE us!!!! We would have had to buy something to fill the extra room (there is both a living room and family room) and, just like that, the Lord provided!!! I was BLOWN away! Cherry number two came when we drove around the block and found a baseball park only a couple of blocks away!!!!! We can't stop smiling!

We had a wonderful "celebration" dinner at "The Old Spaghetti Factory" and it felt good to eat something that was not fried!:)

We had a family movie night tonight at the church with the "M & M's" group (married and multiplying). Then it's the "big" day with church, Bryan teaching Sunday School, church again :) and an all-church potluck and Q & A session. We'll try to get some more swimming in too!

Monday we head home and Tuesday we wait for a phone call after the meeting Tuesday night! Our hearts are rejoicing in what the Lord is doing and we are excited that it looks like that means living in Surrey, BC and calling Cloverdale Baptist Church our church family!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers on our behalf. Believe me, we know you are praying! And, speaking of prayers answered, we also found out yesterday that our kids do not need passports to move to Canada...their birth certificates are good enough!

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Faith!!!!

It's official! Faith is really 7 years old!:)What a fun birthday week she has had and what fun it has been to celebrate her life.

Faith brings so much life to our family. She is our drama queen, our giggler, our easy-going, play with whatever and with whomever child. It was not long ago that I could not think of specific things that she loves more than others because she really did join in with what everyone else is doing. But since she has grown enormously in her reading ability, you are more apt to find Faith reading a book than doing anything else! She got an early birthday gift of oodles of "The Boxcar Children" books (thanks Ebay!) the beginning of January and she is already on book #10!!!

She loves stuff and I will often find her drawers full of misc. items that she has collected! But she is also one of my first kids to share and give away what she has to bless someone else! Her smile and laugh is contagious and I can't wait to see how the Lord uses the gifts He has given her for His glory and for the good of others.

The Proverbs say that "a joyful heart is good medicine" and Faith truly is just that!My heart is full of thanksgiving to call her my daughter and I praise the Lord for the day all 8 pounds 11 ounces of her came into the world! :) Love you, Little Miss "P"!!!!

On the Canadian front, the house hunt went okay...but no real "stand outs". Faith, the gal who took us around, was just precious and spent so much time behind the scenes looking for us and we are so thankful! All but one house we could only do a "drive by" and a "hop out and look at the outside" and the one we did go in was in pretty bad shape! It is looking more and more like we may end up in a townhouse...but we are still confident that God can do so much more if He chooses!:) We are following up on a couple of other houses (good ol' Craigslist) and we would love your prayers concerning those. We also figure that, if the vote goes through, that will mean a lot more people keeping their eyes open on our behalf! So, for now, we keep would be nice to "tie up" some loose ends...but today was not that day.

Bryan met with an immigrations lawyer via the phone to go over our move and everything seems to look very simple...except for the fact that all of our kids need passports...their birth certificates won't cut it since we will be moving there and not just visiting. So, we are looking into that further...and praying that we might be given clearance as long as they know we are in the process of getting them. Otherwise, the time table might look a bit different! Lots of unknowns for us...but the one thing we do know is that none of this is unknown to God.

We had a great time of fellowship tonight with those in teaching positions in the church. Bryan shared a great devo and there was a time for questions and answers. A real blessing! There was also a sweet surprise for Faith...a birthday cake...sitting on the table when we arrived!
Our hearts are full, our heads are swimming and our eyes are heavy...but our souls are at rest! And, speaking of rest, the kids are not getting as much as they need so we are praying that God graciously gives them a REALLY good night sleep!

I can't help but mention Haiti while I am at it. I sit here trying to figure out where we can live and there are precious people in Haiti wondering if they are going to live and if those they love are still alive. My heart is heavy. Bryan reminded us tonight that, unlike Haiti's government, which has been reduced to rubble, God's government...God's sovereign rule....cannot be shaken. He is on the Throne and ruling and reigning both here and in Haiti. May we be Christians who do not only love in word and tongue but in action and in truth. May we seek to be apart of the aid that is going to Haiti both in physical ways and, more importantly, in gospel centered, Christ exalting ways! I know Sovereign Grace Ministries is seeking to do so and has posted how we can help with that effort.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another "Happy" Day

Today was a light day as far as meeting people went. Bryan enjoyed his time meeting the staff and I enjoyed meeting the other pastors on staff and catching up with the head pastor's wife over lunch.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel's swimming pool and two story slide. (I forgot to take a picture of the slide...I'll have to get one later this week). We started with 5 kids wearing life jackets and, by the time we left, Grace and Faith were feeling pretty confident without them and Samuel had swam the width of the pool without his on as well!

Then we headed out to dinner and had the fun of watching Faith as she was told to stand on her seat as the restaurant and staff sang to her!

We ended with "Happy Birthday Donuts" back at the hotel! This girl is getting quite the birthday week!:)

Tomorrow is a full day...and we start the day looking for a place to we would LOVE your prayers that God would give us wisdom and we might find a place to call home!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We made it!

Two months after our first visit to Canada we are back here again! The trip was much like the last trip...lots of rain!:) We did have a huge ray of sunshine in the midst of it...we had the blessing of visiting friends that we met when we were in Ethiopia. They adopted two children as well, Taye and Seri. They also have a Micah and an Austin and the boys were right at home playing with each other. My girls...well...they were right at home too...playing with Seri!:) Grace commented on the fact that "this" (playing with a little girl) was how our home might be one day! She loves to make sure adoption is at the fore front of our minds!:)

We spent this evening at the church for Cloverdale's boys and girls clubs. It could not have been a better way to start out our week here as the kids got to meet and "make" some new friends and were talking up a storm about how much fun they had all the way back to the hotel.

During "Living Jewels" (the girl's time) we sang "I Stand In Awe of You" and my prayer is that, in the midst of so many things that can keep my eyes pealed to the things of earth and, in the midst of everything that feels so new and makes me feel like it's my first day of high school :), that I would stand in awe of Jesus. That I would love Him most of all and grasp even a bit of His infinite wisdom and fathom a little bit more each day the depths of His love for me!

P.S. Bryan is now 0 for 2...I just received my second bouquet of flowers from Cloverdale Baptist Church! Better get going, babe!:)

Monday, January 11, 2010

What a trip and we havn't even hit Canada yet! :)

These last few days have been a whirlwind of activity...I am starting to think Canada might actually afford a bit more rest!:) It has been WONDERFUL being with David and Michelle and two more of my brothers, Paul and Andrew! Hosting our family is no small job and we are so thankful for their hospitality and self sacrifice on our behalf.

Our day began yesterday worshiping at the church that my brother David works at and my brother Paul interns at, Mars Hill. We have wanted to go for a very long time but Sundays are one of those days we have just never been able to get away!:) Mark Driscoll preached a message on the genealogy found in Luke 3. It took a couple of minutes to get used to watching him on the "big screen" but, after that, I was lost in his preaching. His message was great and, at one point, I found my eyes filling as he talked about Jesus being adopted by Joseph and the beauty of adoption in that story and in life now. It was one of the first times I had heard a pastor speak on the subject of adoption (outside of my hubby) and it was such a sweet encouragement to my heart. Not because adoption is more important than anything else we do in our sanctification or that it makes someone more spiritual or holy but because it's there in scripture and it is so neat to see it talked about! Regardless of what you have or have not heard about Driscoll :)...I'd encourage you to take an hour and tune in via video or're heart will respond in affirmation to the truths in the Word of God that he expounded on!

After catching a quick lunch we headed off to the Ethiopian church of our friend, Bea. I'll be honest, there were a lot more "joyful outbursts" :) than I am used too but it was such a blessing to stand alongside others who were worshiping the Lord from a different nation and tongue. I couldn't help but wonder what it will be like when we all stand before the Throne praising the Lord from every tribe, every nation and every tongue!!!! And speaking of languages, it also helped us to better understand what it must have been like for Samuel and Caleb when they were first here. Every once and a while we could pick out a word or understand the gist of what the pastor was speaking but, overall, we were lost (unless Bea translated). There was light at the end of the tunnel knowing that the service was only an hour and a half...and yet, that was LIFE for the boys in the beginning. Not easy!!!!

From there we headed over to Children's Hospital in Seattle to visit friends of ours from the church we were at in Yakima. Jessica, who is in 6th grade, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last month, had surgery to remove as much of it as possible, and is now going through radiation treatment as well as rehab. There is still a long road ahead of them all...but what a sweet blessing it has been to hear of God's sustaining grace and peace in the midst of it all and what a gift it was to have the privilege of visiting them ourselves.

Today we woke up to rain (or, as they call it in Seattle...liquid sunshine...I guess you have to find a positive way of describing something that you see more than most places in the USA :)...and, I just may have to adopt that "nickname" as Surrey seems to get its fair amount of rain too!) and it made for the perfect day to go to the Seattle Aquarium. After figuring out that a family pass for one year was cheaper than paying a one time admission, we jumped on the band wagon and I can already tell you we will be back! We had such a wonderful time. The exhibits were great but the staff and volunteers were just fantastic as they made the ocean and sea life come alive and helped us learn more about what God created on the 5th day. And we thanked the Lord for the timing of our visit as we were able to see just about everything possible being fed!!!

We went outside and stood in the rain while we watched seals be fed and get their teeth brushed and get some exercise. Can you believe they use a Sonic Care Toothbrush on their teeth?!!!:)

The kids also got to feed the starfish. They stuck muscles as far under them as they could and watch them close in around it. The starfish only get fed once a day every other it was a real blessing that they got to participate in that!

We also were there for the feeding of Buster the octopus. It was AMAZING to see this sleeping, curled up octopus come alive once the scent of food entered the water.

They even got to talk to a diver in one of the big tanks and give her "high fives"!

Every time I have the chance to see life "under the sea" the title for God, CREATOR, just takes on new and fresh meaning. It's a world that, for the most part, is hidden from our eyes (much like most of our universe)but was created for God's glory and delight above all. HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!!!!

Then, tonight we celebrated Faith's birthday. Her actual birthday is not till Thursday...but we knew that it would be a little bit harder to celebrate in an extra special way with all that was going on in Canada. Once again, an aunt (this time Aunt Michelle) came to the rescue and made an ADORABLE cake! Faith asked for a cake that looked like Tessie (our dog) and Aunt Michelle did an amazing job!

We were able to celebrate with Bea's daughter's Promise and Gloria and, when we dropped them off back home, Grace was able to see one of the dogs that we gave away, Fenway (remember the puppies back in September?!). It was a great way to end a great day!

We are off to a new adventure tomorrow (we will be meeting the church in Canada and Bryan will be candidating through this weekend...and the vote will be on Tuesday, the 19th) and so thankful that, in all of this, we can rest in the One Who held today and all our tomorrows in His hands! video

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Checking In

I sit here wanting to share, needing to share but feeling like my brain will not be able to tell my fingers what to do and what to say. I am tired...not a "I need to go to sleep" but more of a "everything feels mushy and fuzzy" kind of tired!:) The kind of tired that cries easy.:) The kind of tired that comes from having your brain running a hundred miles an hour with all that needs to be done but you can't seem to get your body to move even a mile an hour!:) And, if I am not making sense at this point...well, it's because I am tired!:)

Life is good...God is good...but life is not always predictable and there is much that is "up in the air" right now in our lives. There have been times this past week where fear has griped me...all the "what ifs". There have been moments of mental temper tantrums..."demanding" things of God that are not mine to demand. In the end, it boils down to a lack of trust and a lack of believing all that God is for me in Christ Jesus. I have forgotten that I am a pilgrim and I have wanted more stability. I have forgotten that rarely are God's ways the way I would have chosen or even imagined for myself and yet, my sanctification has depended on it and those trials of "fire" have refined me and caused me to love Jesus more. It has caused the things of earth to "grow strangely dim" and to be able to see with eternal glasses that truly "in His presence there is fullness of joy".

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
Isaiah 40:28-29

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is a Rock Eternal."
Isaiah 26:3-4 that is where my heart is far as where life is at....

I started a new reading plan this year. I am very excited about it. Instead of taking different sections of the Bible each day it focuses on a "theme" each day and you do your reading within the theme of the day (ex. Sunday - poetry, Thursday - prophets). The title of the plan is called "The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers...but don't let the title fool you...I think it is a great idea! And, the best thing about it, is that you can pick up the plan at anytime...your not way behind because you didn't start on the 1st!

Three of our six children have managed to outgrow their off to the store we went today to rectify that problem. I took the girls with me and we found their shoes at Target and shoes for Samuel at Ross. I think buying shoes is right up there with getting a tooth "filled"....slightly painful and a bit numbing! :) Grace and Faith also spent some money they had saved up and our home now has a double stroller wheeling around it! Grace is tickled pink!

I just read a great article from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I couldn't help but read it when I saw the title "Don't You Already Have Kids? Adding to Your Existing Family Through Adoption". We have heard that one before:). The article was short, simple and encouraging!

-interjection- Faith just came out from her bedroom (she should be asleep by now) to inform us that her eyes were not working right. She said one eye likes to see things up close and the other one only wants to see things far away. My dear daughter also informed me today as we drove passed Macy's that she LOVED Macy's. I couldn't help but giggle as I said, "How come, Faith, you have never been there before?" She informed me that Macy's had great commercials!:) Where she has seen those commercials beats me...but she sure keeps us laughing!

And, in other very exciting news...being the competitive person that I am, I can't help but sharing the good news with you all. I won my family's 4th annual gingerbread decorating contest this year! It was close, but I pulled it off with my brother David coming in second and his bride, Michelle, taking third for her "Annie" gingerbread..

Grace blew us all away with her gingerbread house. In a few years, I think we will all be in big trouble!:)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary, my Beloved!

Today Bryan and I celebrate our 12th year of marriage. I can honestly say that it keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. Sometimes I wonder if it is because we are growing in our knowledge of each other and how we "tick"...but, there are still so many things that I just cannot figure out about Bryan, and I am sure he would echo a hearty "AMEN" to that one concerning me.:)

No, I truly believe the reason it keeps getting sweeter and sweeter is because we continue to grow in our knowledge and love for God and the bigger HE becomes in our lives the sweeter our lives become with each other. It's that whole "triangle analogy"...the one we learned in premarital counseling. Bryan and I are the two bottom corners of a triangle and God is at the peak. The more our eyes are fixed on CHRIST, the closer we grow with each other. Such a simple but true analogy!

With much joy in my heart and only because of the grace of God in our lives...I can still echo the Bible verse we had inscribed on our wedding invitation over 12 years ago:

"I have found the one whom my soul loves." Song of Solomon 3:4

Happy Anniversary dear husband of mine!

-Thanks Dad and Mom for watching the kids while we had a "Starbucks Date" today! :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

To resolve or not to resolve this new year

Boy, the start of a new year can seem wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time. It's wonderful anticipating what God will do this coming year in my life and the lives of those around me and it is also overwhelming thinking about all the things I want to do, should do, need to do, etc...We live in a day and age of endless possibilities and so many forms of communication that let us KNOW that there are endless possibilities!:)

Where do I start? Do I set goals? Do I reevaluate? How do I find the balance between resting in the grace of God and HIS work and working out my salvation with fear and trembling? Should I cut back on certain things or add others to my daily routine? Just thinking of "New Years Resolutions" or goals leaves me feeling like I have failed before I even have begun!:)

It's the midst of all my chaotic thoughts, I am so thankful for wise men and women whose council (through the pages of paper and cyberspace) have spoken to my heart and encouraged me immensely!

My first words of encouragement came last week (gave me ample amount of time to start preaching to myself!) as I read the book "Just Do Something" by Kevin De Young (what a blessing that small, easy to read book was...hint, hint...small and easy to read!!!). The premise of the book is all about how we can know the will of God for our lives and then, as a result, move forward in confidence...whatever that "forward" may be.

"God's will for your life and my life is simpler, harder, and easier than that. Simpler, because there are no secrets we must discover. Harder, because denying ourselves, living for others, and obeying God is more difficult than taking a new job and moving to Fargo. Easier, because as Augustine said, God commands what He wills, and grants what He commands. In other words, God gives His children the will to walk in His ways - not by revealing a series of next steps cloaked in shadows, but by giving us a heart to delight in His law."

At the same time, we are also called to "examine ourselves" in 2 Corinthians 13:5 and I was thankful for the link on Tim Challies blog that took me to a man I very much respect, Donald Whitney, and some thoughts he had and questions we could ask ourselves as we start a new year. I am planning on taking a couple of questions a day and talking them over with my hubby! Good stuff!

Like anything in life...there is a balance to all that we do. A balance that can only be attained (and, even then, not without a struggle!) through the transforming work of the Word of God and the "iron sharpening iron" of other believers in our life...primarily the church!

These truths leave me hopeful and excited as I look at this new year...and the "overwhelmed feeling" is replaced by a quiet rest and trust as I seek to make the Psalmist words in Psalm 16:5-6 the cry of my heart as well this new year:

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 in Review

As we all look forward to what God has planned in 2010, I wanted to close this year of blogging much the same way a ribbon adorns a ties it all together neatly and beautifully.:) A way of ending one chapter and starting another...or, as I try to put my blog into book form for my family (using Blurb)...a way to close out this first "book".

As I look back over this past mouth hangs open a bit. Many things were not as I would have planned and...some were more painful than I thought I could endure and others were more beautiful than anything I could have dreamed up! But both came from the sovereign hand of God for our sanctification and His glory and, as I look back, I would never have wanted it any different than what God had ordained.

2009 was full of more medical adventures than we have ever had in our family before. Bryan's knee surgery and rehab, my appendectomy, the removal of Faith's tonsils and adenoids and her pneumonia,Caleb's surgery, Swine Flue, Giardia, head fungus, Strep Throat and numerous trips to the doctors for ear infections, blood tests and immunizations!

2009 was full of children....6 beautiful children to be exact. Our adoption is the highlight of our year and a defining moment in the life of the Pichura Family. A family of 6 became a family of 8 overnight and has grown into a family of friends ever since then. It is God's doing and it is beautiful in our eyes! We are a work in progress but who isn't?! We don't expect to hit perfection till glory but we are so thankful that God put us together to grow and learn as we are being sanctified!

2009 was full of God's provision. Every year is...but this year we got to see His hand at work in ways we had not before through our adoption and, even now, through Bryans time without work. We have been humbled, blessed and, most of all, reminded that what we have is not our is God's. He want's us to be faithful stewards of His money as we disperse it as well as glorify His name when He provides for us through the "hands" of others!

2009 was full of laughter and tears. Tears from the physical pain of injury and surgeries, tears from the emotional pain of adoption and job loss and all the little things that creep up and remind you that your eyes are not fixed on the Hope of Glory, Jesus Christ. It was also full of laughter...the giggles of children fill our house daily! We have laughed to the point of tears over the things our children say...both those learning to speak English and those who try to make phrases they hear apart of their vocabulary!

2009 was full of trips. Trips to Seattle, California, Oregon, the beach, campgrounds, Ethiopia :), New York and Canada. Many miles were logged and many memories were made!

2009 can be summed up with a myriad of Bible verses. Daily the Lord is awakening our hearts to sin that "so easily entangles" and has tangled up in our heart. Daily He is showing us His heart of grace and mercy and, through His Word, exhorting us to walk in His love and with His heart as we serve those around us. Daily He is using His Word to transform our minds and help us to treasure what we once thought was foolishness and to regard as foolishness what we once thought to be a treasure! Through studying His Word we are confronted daily with the "Godness of God" and that changes everything! There is a verse,though, that resonates in my heart almost every week and seems a fitting way to describe this past year as well as encourage our hearts with this coming year...a fitting way to end this year of blogs....

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