Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's with the altar?

I just finished up the book of Joshua using my "Slackers and Shirkers" reading Bible plan. The name is misleading as I have decided it's one of my favorite Bible reading plans so far. If you know that you want to read through the whole Bible (and who wouldn't!) but you also know that you are in a season of life where it seems like you make more progress NOT getting the assigned reading done for a day than getting it done, or maybe you just like to take your time through the text you are reading and feel so "rushed" with traditional reading plans...this plan is the one for you! I love how there are no "dates" to go with the readings, just a box to check off when you are done...and one day, hopefully closer to a year than not, I will have all those boxes checked off! The other thing I like is that you can start right now...there are no dates to make you feel like you should just wait till next year!

So, after that "commercial"...what are you waiting for...join the bandwagon!:)

Back to the book of Joshua. In Joshua 22 there is the account of the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh heading back over the Jordan River to their families and their possessions, having fulfilled their obligation to help the rest of the Israelites get "settled" in the Promise Land. They built an alter by the river on their way back and, when word got back to the sons of Israel, the Israelites assumed that they had strayed from the commands of God and were being unfaithful to the Lord. They were ready to go to war with them and destroy them.

God had other plans and He had Phinehas the priest and the heads of the tribe go to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh to find out what was going on. Turns out, they were not seeking to be unfaithful in any way but, instead, the alter was built to help them keep their eyes fixed on God and to remind themselves, their families and the rest of the Israelites that they were apart of God's chosen people...children of the promise....though on the other side of the river.

I couldn't help but think how often I am like the Israelites...seeing something and immediately assuming the worst, "slaying" the individual in my mind without knowing the facts surrounding the situation, the words spoken or the actions that I saw. Sadly, many times I am content to let my imagination "run wild" instead of wisely doing what the leaders of the Israelites did...simply ASKING! Don't get me wrong, sin is sin and there are actions and situations that need no explanation to understand exactly what they are. But, in our day to day lives, I think we have a lot more situations with other believers in which we see an "altar" and are quick to jump to conclusions and become judge and jury. We turn them into the enemy instead of what they are, a brother or sister in Christ.

I wonder how many times I have missed out on the blessing of sweet fellowship because was too busy considering myself as more important than I ought. How many times have I "delivered a verdict" instead of delivered a "hug" and how many times I have had the opportunity to grow and be stretched through another's actions but have chosen instead to assume that "different" is wrong and my way is best?!

The Lord is teaching me more and more each day to care about the HEARTS of those around me, to ask questions way more than assume anything and to rejoice in differences and grow and learn through them and others! So thankful for His Word!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

He gently leads me

A couple of days ago I shared about the lessons the Lord is teaching me in regards to His compassion and the compassion I am to have for others...and especially my own family. Can I be honest with you and tell you that I feel so weak and inadequate?! I often feel so unworthy of the love of Christ and His compassion since I have such a hard time "passing it on" to my kids.

While I love my life and wouldn't change a thing, homeschooling, for me, is an ongoing adversity...sounds crazy huh? To willingly submit myself to something that I would actually call an adversity!:) Pastor Rob preached, on Sunday, from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 about Paul and the thorn in his flesh and how, through it, he was able to see the power of God supplied in weakness...that God's grace was sufficient and, because he was weak, all glory went to God when His power was magnificently seen through Paul's life.

I guess I am sharing, too, because I would never want any of you to think that I "have it all together" or that I am some type of "super woman" who just fly's through life without much effort. My sin is so very real, my flesh attached so much tighter to me than I would like, each day is a battle to glorify God and not exalt myself and, in that, to fully recognize and live in the reality of how weak I am so that GOD may be made BIG in my life! I only do what I do because of His sufficient grace. I truly am "just the clay"! And, for me, homeschooling is a daily reminder that I need the Lord, I need to CLING to Him (Joshua 23:8 "But you are to cling to the Lord your God..."), I need to be a Mary, sitting at His feet desperately in need of His life giving words and life changing power.

Yesterday, I was reminded of some of His life giving words that have been very precious to me over the past year and yet, had escaped my memory in the last few months:

"He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

My precious Savior loves me and leads me gently! He know that I am but dust and He knows what life with "young ones" can be like and He is a gentle Shepherd with me, holding me close to His heart. That verse is one of the biggest hugs from the Lord, in my opinion, for a mother with young children! And the verse only gets more precious realizing that He will always hold me close to His heart, no matter what I do, because His love for me is in Christ. Jerry Bridges says, "Just as God's love to His Son cannot change, so His love to us cannot change because we are in union with the One He loves. God's love can no more waver than His love to His Son can waver...God does not look within us for a reason to love us. He loves us because we are in Christ Jesus."
Oh, how I pray for a growing love like that for my kids. To gently lead them and hold them close to my heart no matter what they say or do or how they act. To show them through my words and actions a beautiful example and picture of the verse (Isaiah 40:11) I hold so dear to my own heart. To show them what it means to be loved IN Christ Jesus!

My heart is full...not with guilt or sorrow...but with hope and joy in the continued example of my Great Shepherd and the reality that all that He is can shine through me in spite of all that I am! And my heart is so very thankful for the beauty of the Word of God...that it is living and active and that every word is true. I echo with all my heart the words of Paul in Romans 15:4:
"And whatever was written in former days was for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A little "funny" to go with the serious

Okay...I'll make you laugh first.

Faith came to me today during their "rest time", asking me what a word meant that she kept reading over and over in the Bible...she tried to spell it to me and I wasn't picking up on the spelling so I asked her to bring me her Bible and show me....

The word was "breast"...and she was to chapter 4 of the Song of Solomon!:) I was not at all prepared for that one and I burst into laughter and then lovingly encouraged her that the Song of Solomon was a book in the Bible that is beautiful but it is especially for Mommies and Daddies and that she needed to head back over to Psalms and Proverbs!:) I love how my kids keep my giggling!:)

As for the "serious"...

I read a blog post from a gal that I am not familiar with at all (so I can't vouch for anything else she says or recommends) but it was a needed reminder, a fresh perspective and an encouragement to my heart as I seek to examine what LOVE looks like in my life.

LOVE IS AN ACTION WORD I am going to be bold for a moment. Some of you may not like what I am going to say. That's okay. I am getting used to being unliked. There are just so many things on my heart these days and I feel like they need to be said. They keep me awake at night. And since the earthquake in Haiti and the death of Derek Loux, I have been moved to my very core. Bare with me while I try and put all of my swirling thoughts into some semblance of order. Love is an action word. Love doesn't sit idle. Love doesn't stay where it is comfortable. Love doesn't wait until there is enough money. Or until all it's ducks are in a row. Love doesn't need permission or approval from anyone. Love doesn't worry about reputations. Love doesn't weigh the cost or avoid sacrifice. Love doesn't hunker down on the couch with remote in hand, feeling sorry for what it has just witnessed, but never doing a thing about it. Love doesn't shrugs it's shoulders and let someone else do the work. Love doesn't turn a blind eye because the problems are too deep and too wide to ever make a difference. Love doesn't say "I'm not called". Love is an action word. Most people assume we are rich. They say things like "Oh you guys are just like Angelina and Brad". Um - yeah. Minus the 10 nannies, the private jets, the 7 mansions, the maids, cooks,the super model good looks, personal trainers..... oh and the MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of dollars. Yeah, we are just like them. The honest truth is, we are usually broke. We live mostly paycheck to paycheck. We give away what is left. We rely on God to meet our needs. We have a nice life. Nothing extravagant. We have everything we could ever need. Our home is small. We wear hand me downs. And most of the world would consider us very rich. There are people who think we shouldn't be adopting. The fact is this. Whatever we can offer an orphan is going to be a million times better than what they would have had. Like a Mother and Father for example. Like a family. We have went into every adoption with two pennies to rub together. We never had it ahead of time. And we have watched God provide it every single time. Some people don't agree with that either. They think if you don't have the money upfront, you shouldn't be adopting. It is baffling to me honestly. It is completely acceptable to raise money for breast cancer research. Or for the Humane Society. Yet raising money to give a child a family is not. There is nothing wrong with giving to those things, but you will never have the joy of seeing the direct outcome of where your money went. Each time we give to an adoption, we have the honor of seeing the child come home, united with their family. We get to see the joy in their eyes. We get to be apart of changing a life forever. Love is an action word. If you are an American and you are reading this on your own computer, you are far more privileged than most of the world. You are rich. Just think about it for a moment. You could have been born anywhere in the world. You could have been born in Haiti currently living in a tent. You could have been born in Africa, the 8th child to an HIV positive women who is dying and cannot feed you. You could have been born anywhere. But, you were born here. Have you ever asked yourself why? I don't think it was so you could live in American suburbia your whole life, work to make yourself as comfortable as possible, retire in a lovely golf community in Florida , and then die. You were put here for a purpose. It is not an accident you were born into comfort and safety. It was not an accident you have more than most of the world. When you come to the end of your life you will not regret what you did as much as you will regret what you didn't do. Our lives weren't meant for comfort and safety. Jesus didn't come and buy a nice house in the suburbs, raise a family, and then die. He didn't sit back and wait for someone else to do something. He didn't shrug his shoulders while the rest of world was dying around him. He gave all that He had. He revolutionized this world. He forever changed religion. His life was marked with suffering and pain. He didn't seek comfort. He acted. He loved. He was one man. I am one woman. You are one person. Together we can put love into action. We can put our comfort aside and bury the American dream. Sure it may be hard. You might get hurt. You might not always be safe. You might lose everything. But, you will never regret it. Your life will never be boring. You will find the greatest joy you can ever imagine. "faith without works is dead." James 2:20 Love is an action word. Last night I stayed up watching Derek Loux's Memorial service. If you want to be inspired, I highly recommend watching it. What a life he led. I was so incredibly moved by how many lives he touched. He had an enormous heart for the orphan. In fact all over the room were photos of children that he directly helped to be adopted. No one mentioned what degree he held or how much money he made. No one said anything about how successful he was in his career. But over and over again, person after person, spoke of how he loved. I want my life to be like Derek's. Before the earthquake there were 143 million orphans. That number has greatly risen in the past two weeks. Most of us, if we look around at our lives have the room and the resources for one more child. We can all fit one more. Even me. I can fit one more. I can feed, clothe, and love one more. And I already have ten. Did you know that if only 7% of Christians took in one orphan, there would be no more orphans in the world? Imagine a world without orphans. People think adoption has become popular, fashionable even. That could not be further from the truth. I believe it is the product of an outcry of prayers from those of us who desire to see every orphan have a home. It is a movement in the body of Christ sparked by a spiritual awakening. It is so much more than saving a child's life. It is evangelism in it's very simplest form. Think about it. A child is taken into your home. He once lived in a place where the gospel was not preached. He lived in darkness and oppression. In your home he comes to understand salvation. Think of all of the lives that will be changed from his testimony. It is so much more than saving a life. Supporting orphanages is not a solution. While orphanages serve a purpose, they do not solve the problem. God's best for a child is a family. A mother and a father. Not growing up in an orphanage. Most orphanages are over crowded. They turn away children because they cannot meet the need. And don't get me started on the foster care system. That is most certainly not a solution. Children need families. God's best for a child is not foster care or an orphanage. It is a family. More now than ever before we need to come forward. We need to take action. We cannot stay silent and turn a blind eye. In the coming weeks, more and more Haitian orphans are going to need families. But, they aren't just in Haiti. They are in Russia, Africa, and right here in your city. They are all over the world. You can make room for one more. I am sure of it. If I can, you can too. This isn't about calling. This isn't about waiting until you have all of your ducks in a row. This is about taking action. Love is an action word.

Monday, February 22, 2010

He....felt compassion for them

I have a feeling I am not alone...but, I can only speak for myself when I say that I have had my share of moments where I just want to get away!:) Not for weeks or days or (most of the time) even hours...many times I just want enough time to drink my coffee while it is still hot instead of reheating it 50 times in the microwave and then finally throwing out the rest of the cup at lunch time!:)

I love my family dearly...but they can be demanding. It's really not their's not like they can teach themselves, right?! And, they get so excited about so many things and always want to share it with mom not to mention that there seems to be plenty of "arguments" that need my assistance. Let's face it...I could keep going on and's called life with kids!:) It is a wonderful life...but it is not a quiet life and it leaves little time for "me". I say "me" in quotes because my life is truly so just doesn't always go my way!:)

Now, before I go further, let me state this loud and clear...I am a firm believer in a mom getting time out by herself! I love nothing better than to hit a coffee shop with the Word of God, my planner, an Ipod and a good book...or to spend an afternoon "browsing" at the store...a word that is NOT in the vocabulary of a mom pushing a shopping cart with six kids attached to it!:) If I need that type of time, all I need to do is ask, and my hubby is more than willing to give that to me!

I am talking about the day in day out activities of life that are rarely centered around me and, in my flesh, can leave me feeling sorry for myself, feeling frustrated and, to be honest, a bit irritable! Sadly, I often feel justified with my feelings, and feel as though I "deserve" a break.

I was humbled and encouraged, once again, by the example of my precious Savior. In Mathew 14:13 we read that Jesus had just found out that John the Baptist was murdered and that he "withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself". Talk about a situation that would warrant some alone time! It would have made complete sense to me if the chapter ended there or a new story began...but what makes this passage so amazing is that it doesn' goes on to share something that pierces my heart and awakes in me a passion to be more like Jesus.

You see, the crowds heard where Jesus had gone and they proceeded to follow Him and find Him. Jesus tells them to please go away, He needs some time alone; He tells them that He is having a tough day and they needed to find something else to do; He tells them He is tired and He can't deal with their needs today. NOPE, not my Jesus! Verse 14 says that He felt COMPASSION for them and HEALED their sick. And, as if that were not enough, when evening came He then performed one of the most amazing miracles recorded...He fed all 5,000 men (plus women and children) dinner.

I am left speechless and amazed. I am left humbled at my sin and how quick I am to justify it. I am left thankful...thankful for the precious example of my Redeemer so that I can be renewed, rebuked and exhorted to live that out, on a small scale, with my own family. And I am left rejoicing...that the same perfect power that enabled Jesus to be "the Servant of all" lives in me through the Holy Spirit!

I may not finish my coffee tomorrow without reheating it 50 times and I just might have to deal with more arguments or questions or who knows what else, way more than I would like...but I am not my own...I have been bought with a price. It's not about "my agenda" it's about GOD'S AGENDA and He has called me to keep my eyes fixed on Him and to be Gospel centered, God glorifying gal and there doesn't have to be any "me" in order to do all that! And that truth brings great hope and joy as I get ready for a new day to dawn!

"This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,"Therefore I have hope in Him."
Lamentations 3:21-24

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm back!

Boy, my breaks between blog posts seem to be getting farther and farther apart! I am not planning on making a habit of that, it's just been the nature of moving. I can honestly say today that we are feeling very settled and, this week, I am looking forward to really focusing on reestablishing our daily routine as best as possible.

I have found that having a daily routine is one of the best ways to maintain order and keep the feelings of "craziness" from building up. That, in turn, frees us all up to joyfully and excitedly have people in our home as often as possible!

Speaking of daily routines...remember that white board that I posted to help the kids know what was going on each day, the meal for the day and their chores? Well, it has been a HUGE asset! There have been so many less questions and the house has stayed picked up much better than it had before. And you had better bet it's one of the first things they go check each morning when they get up! They love just "knowing"!!! Having said that, I got a couple of emails when I first posted my idea...and I was SO thankful for their input! They suggested having each child keep the same chore for the week so as not to confuse my kids and add to the chaos! I gratefully instituted their suggestion and I am so thankful for their advice as it proved to be very wise!

What else have we been up to this week?

More painting :) I accented a couple of the walls in the dining room and living room with brown (with the help of my dear hubby) and I am tickled with the result! Both bathrooms need a new coat of paint...but my body and my desire for a return to "normal" living are keeping me from tackling those projects for now. Maybe I can convince myself to one small project a week until the rest is done?:) I'll try to get up some before and after pictures sometime this week!

We have enjoyed some dear fellowship and fun with new friends several days this week and it has been a sweet blessing for my kids and well as for me!

We also had our first official day of "spring training". I guess it would be better put...Micah had his first day of spring training with Dad and we got to tag along!:)Next Sunday afternoon is "assessments" for Micah to see what his skills are and, as a result, what team he will end up on. We also enjoyed the view of Mt. Baker from the park...the weather has been just amazing this week!!!!

Our landlord graciously cleared out half of the garage for us and we were able to empty out Samuel and Micah's room, paint it, and get their stuff into it this weekend! They are excited to have their own room...but it will be interesting to see just how much time they actually spend in it. The kids all seem to really enjoy being together, not apart...the boys have learned all the rules of mini hockey from dad and they have been spending every moment they are not watching the Olympics in competition with each other in mini hockey tournaments! It's a riot!

The girls have started to really enjoy these books that I got for all of them at the beginning of summer. I would HIGHLY recommend them. They are called "The Never-Bored Kid Book" and they have them for each age. They are full of fun crafts and word searches, etc...The crafts are the girl's favorite part and it truly has entertained them for hours! They are for for boys too...but my boys are anything but "bored" right now!:)

I think that is all I have time for tonight! There is much to share concerning "matters of the heart" and things that will last beyond paint and "cut-outs" but I'll save that for the rest of this week!:) And I will keep reminding myself as I keep reminding the kids that God DOES care about how we paint and do crafts and play hockey. Really, everything we do IS a matter of the heart because whether we eat or drink or WHATEVER WE DO, we are called to do it all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)! I am learning that, in order to help the kids understand that verse, we have to talk often about what it looks like to glorify God as we play and eat, etc... It's a concept that is hard for them to grasp (and, if I am honest, it's hard for me to grasp sometimes too!) and it takes a lot of encouraging and reminders of what to "put off" and what to "put on" as we go about their daily activities and duties!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


CWA...also known as Christian World Adoption...also known as "our" adoption agency has come under some pretty serious fire both last night on the CBS nightly news and a few months ago on a CBS affiliate in Australia.

We watched the clip from the CBS news last night and we were amazed with how "damning" it was and how true it seemed. It was a good lesson on just how "twisted" the news can be and how much is opinion, hearsay and bias....on how much they show you what they want you to see and leave out everything else. It kind of reminded me of those pictures...the ones where you see just one piece of the object that was photographed and you have to figure out what the whole picture was in it's entirety. Looks can be so deceiving in those pictures and so can new's clips!

I don't speak boldly against the news simply because CWA has been our adoption agency and we have appreciated their honesty, openness, and love for Jesus and our kids and we can't imagine that they would do what they did or that we just refuse to believe that they are corrupt in any way. I speak boldly because I sat and watched an almost 1 1/2 hour interview that CBS did with CWA's lawyer and I got to see the whole picture and I actually walked away with a deeper appreciation for what CWA does and for the procedures that they do have. It was actually very informative and, if I am going to be honest, it was a bit entertaining (I actually pulled out the sunflower seeds and soda during it! :)) as CBS was exposed in so many ways.

At the same time, I do not take this situation lightly. My heart aches at what careless words can do and how wrongful, unfounded accusations can affect others. In this case, those "others" are the 4 million orphans in Ethiopia. It has all come under scrutiny and adoptions have been delayed and who knows what else will result from these clips. My hope is in an all Sovereign God but my heart still aches for precious orphans who will be delayed in being united with families who want them and love them already...and for the dear staffers at CWA who have poured their lives and hearts into serving orphans, the people of Ethiopia and many other people and countries around the world.

The battle is raging...would you please join me in praying for God to be magnified, CWA to be vindicated and their hearts to be encouraged and for the Ethiopian government to allow CWA and other outstanding adoption agencies to continue to minister, as they have been doing, to the orphans in Ethiopia and help them find forever families!

If you did not see the CBS clip you can watch it here. But, I would encourage you to only watch it if you are planning on sitting down and watching CWA's "rebuttal" (there are 8 clips total of the "Fly Away Children Response" and all of them are very much worth watching!).
I primarily wrote this blog in case there were any of you who had watched it on the evening news last night and were questioning CWA's actions...and I wrote so that you could pray on behalf of CWA and those that are "innocent" and unable to defend themselves...children just like our dear sons, Samuel and Caleb!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Color Red

The color red seemed like a fitting title because it seemed to be a theme in all of our activity this weekend!

I have had so many thoughts this weekend that I would like to expound upon in my blog...but my hands have been busy painting, not typing (so maybe I'll be able to get some of those thoughts down in print this week). The entry way got a fresh coat of paint as well as the family room, dining room, hallway, kitchen and fireplace room...I wasn't kidding....I really did paint!:) A second coat was all that was needed in most of the rooms, the entry way and stairway had never been painted and, on Sunday evening, in honor of Valentine's Day, I painted part of the kitchen and one wall of the fireplace room red! I love it!:)
How was I able to do all that with 6 kids and without completely neglecting them? That is where another shade of red came into play...the color the Canadians wear in the OLYMPICS!!! Talk about getting a kids imagination soaring...the Olympics did that for ours! Add a couple of empty boxes to the mix and, with the help of dad, they had all cut out their own skis, snowboard and even an extra hockey stick! It has been so fun to see how excited they have been to watch the Olympics and how they have had just as much enthusiasm for re-inacting what they watched! We did have to draw the line, though, when they asked if they could "bobsled" down the stairs. :) We didn't think our landlord would take to kindly to that!
Canadian TV has been showing Olympic coverage all day every that just may be a wonderful incentive to get their school work done in a timely manner! And, did you catch sight of the lone Ethiopian contender in the Olympics! Our house was full of cheering and hollering when he was announced in the opening ceremonies.
I think we also had a few moments of "seeing red" on Friday, too. We seem to keep going to the same place over and over (border crossing, Social Services Dept., bank, car insurance, licensing, etc...) and always walking away needing one more piece of paper. Friday felt like a groundhogs day of last Friday and it looks like we will have one more of those kind of days still. Prayerfully, by March it will all be straightened out!:) We had to go across the border one more time to finalize some paperwork at the Canadian crossing and we were so excited when we realized the US Border line was only a couple of minutes wait. But, for us, the Lord had other plans as Bryan was "detained" for ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms) for 4o minutes. We can laugh now, especially if you know Bryan and how foreign all three of those items are to him...but, in the midst of an already long day, we were truly having to preach the sovereignty of God IN ALL THINGS to our hearts and minds!!!! Isn't it amazing how sometimes it is so easy to "trust God" and "rest in His plan" in the big things but it can be those little things...the day in and day out "irritations" that we often find ourselves acting and thinking as though God does not exist at all and had nothing to do with what was happening!
In closing, tonight my family is all wearing a dot of red on their wrist. In family devotions Bryan spent time talking about the fact that we have been freed from sin....and we have been made slaves of God, bought with the precious blood of Christ. And, the red dot...well, it's a reminder to help us remember who we belong to and the price that was paid! And I know that I need all the reminders I can get to help keep me focused on the Cross of Christ!!! Valentines Day is extra special for the believer because we know the AUTHOR of fact, we get to call Him Abba Father...Daddy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recounting God's Faithfulness

( WARNING: This is a long post! :) I guess my "writing sub conscience" was not pleased with the fact that I never got out a Christmas lettter...hopefully, this will make up for it!:) )

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

Yesterday, Bryan and I were looking back on this past year with amazement. Amazement, not in our own capabilities, but in an all sovereign, all powerful God who has carried us through some pretty big life changes.

A year ago, this month, we were needing over $20,000 to complete our adoption; all the while facing the uncertainty of whether God's plan truly did include Samuel and Caleb or if He had other children planned for us before the foundation of the world, though the thought made our hearts ache a little.

My Gramps died in March and life and death was brought close to home...and the pain of death was so very real.

In April, God gave us the sweet blessing of hosting my grandparents, aunt and uncles, parents and some siblings at our house to celebrate my grandpa's 80th birthday! It was a full house and it was with full hearts that we celebrated and rejoiced to be together!

In May, I ended up having my appendix removed while visiting my parents and at the end of that month we were told we by our agency that we would not be adopting Samuel and Caleb.

June rolled around with the celebration of Titus' birthday and an amazing and completely unexpected (but not to God!) phone call that we will never forget...we really did have two sons waiting for us in Ethiopia and their names were, indeed, Samuel and Caleb. Following that elating news was Bryan's knee surgery that brought a lot of pain and discomfort and changed his life for a season.

Of course,maybe it did not help that we had to get on a plane the middle of July for a very long trip to Ethiopia.:) But our joy was full and our excitement was so very real! We were going to get our boys! The range of emotions we both felt that week was so intense and broad and our adoption by God into HIS family has become more striking each day as we experience the ins and outs of our earthly adoption.

All that we read about adoption said to take it VERY easy and slow the first 6 months to 1 year. To not introduce too much "different" since everything would be so different for them already. Doing so could make life almost unbearable for everyone involved. :) I smile, because, since their arrival, God has taken us through everything you are NOT supposed to do the first 6 months...and we testify to the truth that what God calls you to do, He gives you the grace to go through it. Not that it becomes easy, but His power truly is perfected in weakness...that way, He alone gets the praise!!!

Faith had her tonsils and adenoids out in August and Caleb followed up with a surgery of his own in October. October was also the month our first son, Garett, would have been 10 years old and it was a sweet month to remember that, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised,"(Job 1:21b) as we also finalized our adoption of the boys at the courthouse! In November we made a trip up to Canada to visit and then turned around the next week and made an even bigger trip all the way to New York to visit Bryan's family. Our tickets had been graciously provided for us and we were so thankful for the time back east...and for the new memories we made as a family of 8.

December brought a time of transition. Bryan finished serving at SVC the middle of the month and we could only watch and wait to see what the Lord had in store. We spent Christmas with my family and enjoyed the sweet fellowship of a shared love and passion for Jesus above all things!

January is not only the first month of the year but it was a month that began a lot of "firsts" in our lives. January was the month the Lord called us to Canada!!! Sunday the 17th was our final full day in Canada before we headed home to wait for news about the outcome of the vote. 6 months before that, to the day, we arrived home from Ethiopia and our family of 6 was a brand new 8. We could have never imagined on that day where the Lord would lead only a half a year later...but our whole beings rejoice in what God has done!!!!

As a family we have learned much, been humbled much, cried much, been in pain much, rejoiced much, and given thanks much. But, most of all, we look back in awe over what God has done. There were many things that we had planned but it was the Lord's purpose that prevailed (Prov 19:21) and we joyfully concur that He has done great things! I love how Jerry Bridges puts it:

"God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about."

"No plan of God's can be thwarted; when He acts, no one can reverse it; no one can hold back His hand or bring Him to account for His actions. God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and works out every event to bring about the accomplishment of His will. Such a bare unqualified statement of the sovereignty of God would terrify us if that were all we knew about God. But God is not only sovereign, He is perfect in love and infinite in wisdom."

"O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will praise Your name; for You have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure." Isaiah 25:1

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Virtual House Tour :)

Here it is...the moment you all have been waiting for (drum roll please!)...the first pictures of our new house!:) Okay, seriously...they are not the best...but the sun was shining so the lighting seemed good. The kids thought it was funny that I was taking pictures of the rooms and tried to get into as many of them as they could.So, pardon the bodies...but, hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what we live in! Especially for much of our family who live far away!

I think, if you follow the flow of the pictures you will be able to see how the "pieces" fit together and make up our house. Just a couple of notes: The first picture I took from the entry way of our house. Immediately to the left off the entry way is what will be Samuel and Micah's room (it is full of garage stuff while we wait for space to be made available in the garage). There is also a hallway to the left that wraps around like an "L" with two door. Go through the first one and you hit the garage and laundry room. The second door leads to our landlord's place, though he uses a different entrance.

Also, I didn't show pictures of the kids bedrooms...but there are two bedrooms upstairs plus ours. The boys are all in one room for now and it is a jumble of beds and dressers. The girls picture just didn't get downloaded for some reason.:)

Off the french doors in the family room is the deck and there is a pretty good size backyard!

We feel so blessed to be living where we are and my prayer is that the Lord will use this home for His glory and that in it we might joyfully minister and encourage those who come to visit...whether that visit be for 5 minutes or for days! And, although we have been busy trying to make our house look physically appealing, my greatest desire for our home and family is that of Proverbs 24:3-4:

"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Home:Both Old and New

I was trying to think of some witty way to start this post to no avail...and then one of the elders and his wife stopped by and the card they gave us was the perfect way to start...

"Home is where your story begins and your heart lives"

In some ways so many things feel new and in other ways so many things seem the same. It's true...there is a new chapter that has been started in the story of our lives (a chapter that I pray is the longest chapter ever and goes right to the end of the book!:))....a new house, new church family, new funny looking money :), new stores, new playgrounds, new friends, etc. But this is also the place we call home now and home is where my heart is...seeking to be a godly wife and mommy and to encourage others to love their home (not necessarily house!) that God has given them...and that is not new for me...that is something I am very passionate about and very comfortable in...though FAR from perfect in any way!!!

And, no matter where we go or how things change, God's Word remains the same and His truths transcend location or situation. He is constant in a world of change and that is such a precious reality! Last night I was thinking about Psalm 16:8-9 which says, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices!", and felt joy welling up in my own heart knowing that we can live unshaken each and every day when our eyes are fixed on Christ. What got me thinking about Psalm 16 was a book I am reading for one of the Bible Studies at our church, "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges...more to come on that in the future...but you know a book is good when you start to underline the things that really stick out to you and then realize you might as well just underline the whole book!:) back to what has been "new" and what feels familiar this week. We are back to home schooling...which means back to some serious sanctification for mom!:) We started homeschooling a few years ago for various reasons...but the one that has come to the forefront was never a reason... that it would grow me and stretch me like crazy and show me just how sinful I really was and am and how much I need to be fully dependent on the Lord!!!:) Homeschooling doesn't come naturally, I can tell you that much!:)

As far as new goes...we walked to the park/baseball fields that are just a couple of blocks from our house yesterday and we loved the "new" view! We also got a table and chair set for our kitchen on Craiglist last night for a song and a dance!:)We have officially had our first cup of Tim Horton's coffee...they make a very yummy mocha! And I have hung up a new white board in our hallway that I hope creates a bit of extra order.

This post is already ridiculously long so I might as well make it a bit longer and tell you about my new "idea"!:) I don't know about you...but I can honestly say that it drives me NUTS having six children constantly asking me what we are going to do next?, where are we going to go?, who's coming over? Not to mention the questions about food and what we are going to have for dinner. Then there is the daily reality of keeping the house picked up...except I have 6 children who seem to think it was some "other" 6 children who actually made the mess!!! In comes my new white board. :)

The picture may not be very helpful but, basically, the board is an information station for my kids. They can find out what day it is:), if we have any plans to have people over or to go out, what we are having for dinner and then there is their names with a list of daily
"touch-up" type chores that will rotate each day amongst themselves. We are only on day two, but I think I just may be on to something.:) Actually, you are probably all laughing at me because you have had something like this in place for a while...I am just finally catching on!:)

When I think about the word "new" though, the greatest joy is an unfading one:

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reflections on this morning's worship

A bigger church means more people, of course!, and it also means more services....two to be exact with Sunday School "sandwiched" in between. Sitting through both services is a new experience for me...but I have a feeling it is going to prove to be a sweet joy! Not only does it give greater opportunity to get to know as many people in the church as possible, but it means I get to hear the same message preached twice. And, though I wish it were not true, I can often be a forgetful hearer and it is harder to forget when you have sat through the same message twice!:) I also found myself meditating more on what was being said and focusing more closely on the verses being read the second time around. The first service was like chewing up food and swallowing and, for me, the second service was spent digesting what I had "eaten". Sorry if the analogy is a poor one...Bryan is the "analogy" giver in our family!:)

All that to say, some of what Pastor Rob shared and the passages of Scripture he talked about hit me afresh and I wanted to share them with you....

One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." Today, another verse was read that parallel's the above one. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:23 "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it."

Here is what pressed upon my heart....If I am going to do everything for the glory of God then it has to be done in light of and for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. THAT is HOW I glorify the Lord in what I am doing. So often, I do what I do to simply feel the accomplishment of a job "well done" or I do what I do because I like the order that it brings or I know it will make someone else happy or...well, the list could go on.

But too often, it is not the GOSPEL that spurs on what I do. Often, it is my own standard of what is right and wrong that compels me to do what I do...not a passionate overflow of my love for the One Who gave His very life, taking my sin upon Himself and covering me in His perfect obedience.

The way that I "do all to the glory of God" is by "doing all for the sake of the Gospel". That must be my motivation and heartbeat...and sadly, I often am content to see life thru temporal eyes instead of through the lens of eternity and the Gospel. One "tool" that has blessed my heart so richly in the past (on helping me live Gospel every day) is a book by Milton Vincent, "A Gospel Primer for Christians". After reading it through once, I determined to read a little bit of it each day to help keep my focus where it belongs. My determination was short lived! So, I am so thankful for the message preached and the Word of God that is living and active and admonishes, corrects and encourages...and that has encouraged me today to be zealous for Gospel living and be purposeful in pursuing a Gospel centered focus. I found my copy of the Gospel Primer and I am excited to begin reading it again tomorrow!

In closing, I don't want to forget about the end of 1 Corinthians 9:23, "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it." Gospel living may not be an easy road but it is the road full of all the blessings that truly matter! The gospel is the treasure that turns all other treasures to trash!!!

2 Peter 1:4 says it best:

"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Adopted for Life...and in Death"

I went online to catch up on some of my favorite blogs...that tells you just how much has been done, huh?!:)...actually, I am waiting for the fireplace mantel to dry so I can give it a second coat!:) Anyway, Girltalk Blog has been encouraging women with some pretty exciting stuff, so I headed over there to get caught up. They took me to an article by Albert Mohler on a couple who was adopting a little boy from Haiti.

I sit here typing with tears in my eyes after reading their story unfold and, seeing the Gospel in a very visible way, through their lives. Grab a tissue and take a few minutes to read will leave an imprint on your heart far beyond writing about the details of my day. And you will be reminded anew what a beautiful thing it is to be adopted by the KING of kings!

"Adopted for Life . . . and in Death"

Arno was inseparable from Mr. Penguin. The little Haitian boy was almost three years old, and the plush penguin with the word "love" inscribed upon it was his most treasured object. The orphan and his penguin were always seen together.

The boy had been given the penguin just after his birth. A Dutch couple was in the process of adopting him almost from the start of his life -- they had been matched to him when he was only two months old. The penguin represented a promise.

The process of adoption took two years -- the length of time considered adequate to determine that no living relatives might claim him. According to official estimates, there were over 50,000 parentless orphans in Haiti before the earthquake came and orphaned many thousands more.

Richard and Rowena Pet were the young Dutch couple who wanted so badly to be Arno's mother and father. They had struggled with infertility for years before deciding to adopt. As they awaited the adoption of Arno, Rowena became pregnant. Last August she gave birth to Jim, who was left in the care of relatives as Richard and Rowena flew to Haiti in January to claim Arno and complete the adoption process.

The story of Arno's adoption is movingly told by reporter David Charter of The Times [London]. As he reported, "Arno was shy at first but within 30 minutes of meeting his adoptive parents he reached for Rowena’s hand and took the Dutch couple on a tour of the orphanage in Port-au-Prince where he had spent most of his short life. He began to call them Mummy and Daddy."

Richard had shared their joy with a friend in an e-mail:

“We got to the orphanage feeling a bit strange. We went around a corner and immediately saw Arno walking towards us. He was OK until he was about half a meter away, but then he panicked. The woman from the orphanage helped out and half an hour later he took Rowena’s hand for the first time. I’m sorry but I can’t help crying at the moment as I type this. Arno has been showing us everything in the orphanage. He showed us an old car they have for the children to play on. He was holding a birthday card we sent for his second birthday.”

According to Charter, adoptive parents often stay at the Hotel Villa Therese in the PĂ©tionville district of Port-au-Prince. That is where Richard and Rowena took Arno. That is where they were when the earthquake came. And that is where they died together.

David Charter tells the story, with comments by Chris Spaansen, the friend to whom Richard had sent the e-mail:

Dutch TV cameras were on hand during the frantic search by an international rescue team with members from the Netherlands, Britain and Canada. . . . Lying there amid the rubble was the unmistakable blue and yellow toy bird, Mr Penguin, marked with the word “Love”, that went everywhere with Arno. “That toy helped them to make their first contact with the little boy. It had a really special place in the family. It was a very emotional moment for all of us,” Spaansen says.

Then this:

What the cameras did not show were the three bodies, found intertwined together, as if Rowena and Richard had tried to put protective arms around Arno as the masonry began to fall. The disaster cruelly destroyed the new family, creating its own orphan back in the Netherlands. Jim, just five months old, will be brought up by Rowena’s sister, who already has her own three-year-old boy.

The bodies of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet were taken to the Netherlands together, just as they had been found together in the rubble of the Hotel Villa Therese. They had been a family for a few hours, but a family all the same. Arno had a tragically short life, but he ended that life in the arms of a mother and a father.

Who can read this account without heartbreak . . . and a heart warmed? Is there a heart so cold that it does not feel the pathos of this report, and sense the sentiment of this family's tragedy? At the same time, this is not a tragedy in the classic sense. The love of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet transcends tragedy. That is why The Times published this report, and why it stays with you so long after you read it.

Of course, for the Christian there is far more to this story. In the story of Arno Pet we find a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:

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

Adoption is perhaps the most powerful depiction of the Gospel found in the Bible. We are all orphans, born under the curse of sin. By the sheer grace and mercy of God, those who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are adopted as sons. Redeemed sinners are adopted as sons "through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." [Ephesians 1:5-6]

Arno Pet began life as an orphan, but he ended life as a son. He was abandoned at his birth, but he died in the arms of his parents. He did not die as Arno, he died as Arno Pet.

In the rubble of the Hotel Villa Therese the film crew found the bodies of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet. In that same rubble, we find a picture of the Gospel of Christ. He who has eyes to see, let him see.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coming up for air to say HELLO!!!

This post was a bit delayed...I guess moving does that!:) It has been a WONDERFUL move! We made it through customs in about an hour and a half...the kids did well while we waited and Tessie (our dog) occupied herself quite nicely in our car by peeing and pooping on my coat!:)

We spent the evening on Monday and the beginning of Tuesday cleaning the house and preparing for the truck to arrive. It arrived around 2 pm and angled nicely in the driveway. That gave us some time to unload the odds and ends in the back before the men arrived to help us unpack. Dear men from the church started arriving around 4:30 and by 6:30 the truck was unloaded!

I am not even sure where to begin to share the outpouring of love and welcome we have been shown by our new church family. It has blessed our hearts so deeply. They have been used by God to minister to us exactly how we have needed it and over and over I have found myself thanking the Lord for bringing along just the right person at just the right time! We have been blessed with meals, flowers, food supplies, fellowship while helping unpack our kitchen,family room, bathrooms and bedrooms, a trip to the park for our kids while the men were unloading the truck and so many more "little" things that have helped along the way. And once again I am reminded of the precious gift that God gave us called the "Body of Christ". When you join a local church you are not joining an "organization" you are uniting yourself to and with a FAMILY!!!! It's a beautiful thing!

There are still plenty of "kinks" to be ironed out. We still do not have a working phone and I lost the power cord to my computer and have been left with one "dead" laptop since Monday. Thankfully, Bryan pulled out his little "acer" and I am doing my best to type on it's mini keyboard! We have a full day tomorrow and would continue to ask for your prayers. Somehow we "missed" the turnoff before the Canadian Border to get our cars "exported" from the USA. We took care of all the import paperwork with Canada but we have to leave and go back into the US to legally export our cars. If it sounds confusing, it's because it IS confusing!:) We also have to get a social insurance number (like the United States social security number) in order to get a paycheck or open a bank account and who knows what else. So, we are headed out in search of that tomorrow as well! In some ways our Friday may feel a bit more like this past Monday...but, this time we have a HOME to go back to! On Monday it just felt like a "house", it feels like home!:)

And, speaking of our home (drum roll please!), thanks to the help of some dear gals, my husband and myself...48 hours after the truck was unloaded, I just unpacked the last box a couple of hours ago!!!! It feels so good! I'll be honest, Tuesday night as I looked at all the boxes I thought it would take forever!:)

So, it's on to hanging pictures on the wall and then tackling some of the "projects" that became visible as we moved in! I wish you could see my big smile!:) And that is the temporal point of view. The eternal view is that this week started the beginning of a "love relationship"...a marriage, if you will, to the body here at Cloverdale Baptist Church and my smile is even bigger when I think about that!!!

Tonight I close with praise upon my tongue and leave you with Psalm 148! Pictures to come!:)

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!