Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Trifles"

“God’s purposes for his people is to connect us to something far greater than ourselves. God wants us to know that when we follow him, our lives always mean more than we think they do. Naomi had no idea in the land of Moab that God was making her the ancestor of the Messiah. For the Christian there is always a connection between ordinary events of life and the stupendous work of God in history.

Everything we do in obedience to God, no matter how small, is significant. It is part of a cosmic mosaic that God is painting to display the greatness of his powers and kingdom to the world and to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). A deep satisfaction of the Christian life is that we are not given over to trifles. Serving a widowed mother in law, gleaning in a field, falling in love, having a baby—for the Christian these things are connected to eternity. They are part of something so much bigger than they seem" (p. 121). John Piper (book on Ruth)


I read this quote (on Girltalk Blog) a few days ago...and I can't help but keep reading it! The part that especially stuck out to me was "we are not given over to trifles....they are part of something so much bigger than they seem." I looked up the word "trifle" for an accurate definition: to piddle: waste time; spend one's time idly or inefficiently.

Do I believe that I can waste my time and spend time idly or inefficiently...you bet! God's Word even encourages me in Ephesians 5:15 "to be careful how we walk, not as unwise but as wise making the most use of your time because the days are evil." And I Thess. 5:14 says that we are to "admonish the idle". But I also know that much of my life is made up of days that I often feel are full of "trifles"...but they aren't. Things that seem "piddly" or a waste of time...or even inefficient when it is not going how I planned or what seemed like the best use of my time.

It was a precious reminder that "those things"....cleaning, dishes, laundry, breaking up an argument and then trying to figure out what in the world happened in the first place!, making meals, playing a game with my kids...what I would sometimes call "trifles" are actually "connected to eternity".

I need to keep having my mind renewed with truths like these...need to keep putting on my "eternal glasses" and seeing beyond the "here and now"...need to keep remembering that Jesus included eating, drinking and WHATEVER else I do as part of how I glorify God...and then I need to REJOICE! This day, everyday, is the day that the Lord has made and all that fills it is intended for my good and HIS glory!

PS...I know that if you were to read my blog, this "topic" seems to be a reoccurring one...but, truth is, I am in a season of life where this is something that I am needing to preach to myself all the time and this blog is simply an overflow of what the Lord is doing in this "jar of clay"! Hope you don't mind seeing the "same scenery" now and again!:)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun on the "course"!


We had a fun day yesterday playing miniature golf! The golf course was woven around a nursery...so there were plants everywhere and it was so pretty! They even had birds for sale...peacocks, turkeys, pheasants, doves,and chickens...so, between the 9th and 10th hole we got to enjoy part of God's bird creation!:)

Bryan pulled out the win with Nanny taking second! While I didn't win myself...I did get a "hole in one" on the first hole and the last hole (the last hole gave me a prize..a free round of golf...so I am ready for some more competition!). It was Samuel and Caleb's first time golfing and they did great!

We were thankful that the Lord allowed the rain to stay away until last night...especially since it looks like it is going to continue to fall until Gramps and Nanny leave tomorrow morning!

Here are some pictures of the fun we have been having!:)







Can you guess who got these "hole in ones"? :)





And, in other news:


A sure way to get a head ache is to play "Ticket to Ride" with 6 kids!!!


Samuel's eye is looking much better...just a nice hue of black and blue now:)


The "Old Spaghetti Factory" is still as yummy as ever!

"Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
I Corinthians 10:31


Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Victoria Day


Yep...no more Memorial Day for us...in Canada, it's Victoria Day and it comes the Monday before Memorial Day. In fact, I enjoyed Challies blog post today about Victoria Day and some of the other "funnies" he posted...you gotta read the story on his post about the hockey player who lost 7 teeth in one game!

Thankfully, I don't have a similar story about Samuel today...but he does have a nice "black eye" to show the world what happens when you take a "fast ball" from Micah in the face.
For the record, that will be the last time a Pichura catches ANY baseball without a catcher's mask on. Poor Samuel is a bit uncomfortable...but that didn't stop him from thoroughly enjoying Crescent Beach with the rest of us today!

It was our first time heading to the ocean (bay) for the day since we have lived in Canada...and we were not disappointed at all!!! The weather ended up being just beautiful and we fell in love with the area! Snow capped mountains surrounded us and the smell of "salt" was in our noses! Bryan and I can't wait to go back...and go back...and go back! The kids had fun playing baseball, throwing rocks in the water and looking for shells...and so did us grown ups, too!:)


So thankful for the blessing of only having to travel 20 minutes to have a "day at the beach"!!!

"Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!" Psalm 95:1-6

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Snapshots from the week

It's hard to believe it's almost Friday! Tomorrow Bryan's parents fly into Vancouver for a week with us. We can't wait to spend time with them and for them to see our new "digs"!:)

Life in the Pichura Family seems to keep up a very busy, steady pace! Micah has a baseball tournament this weekend and three games next week before heading into playoffs. Gramps and Nanny are going to get to know our baseball field well this week!:) The girls finished their grade 2 curriculum this week and Micah finished the rest of his grade 3 too! So, now we move on to "summer folders" full of "review stuff" for them to do...a little each day...and Micah will continue to work on his grade 4 work, Samuel his grade 2 work and Titus is going to be working on his letters! Summer break is not here yet...but the load should lighten a bit from here on out! I did a "trial run" this week and homeschooled all six...I think I am going to need a nap everyday next year!:)

I had some pictures from the week that I thought I would post and a video clip at the end of Caleb saying his provinces and territories! It's a glimpse into life here this past week!:)

The kids took a recycling box and helped Grace turn it into a barn. It blessed my heart to see them spend a couple of hours to do something special for their sister! It was one of those "I just love being a mommy to these six kids" moments!:)





Titus and Caleb were playing with play dough after they finished their school and Titus was so excited to show me what he had made...mounties and the Canadian flag!:)



This one might seem like an odd picture to add...but I thought it was so "fun" and I thought you might too! Grace got it at her girls club at church and I couldn't help but think how fun it would be for all the kids to make one (and then eat it of course). It's just a bunch of gummy candies on a wooden skewer...but it was the "catch of the night" in our house and thought it might be in your house too!
video

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Suggestions, Anyone?


I have always been pretty good about putting together a dinner menu plan ( I usually try to do two weeks at a time) but I have never really given much thought to making up a breakfast and lunch meal plan. The last few weeks, I have become more intentional about planning breakfasts and lunches and I have decided it's well worth the extra effort. The kids are a bit "fuller" after breakfast (and don't seem to need a snack in the morning!) and they all enjoy the variety. And, not having to "think" about what to make for lunch, etc...has made it easier on me...even though the meals are sometimes more involved than just PB&J.

I have decided that I need more variety, though. :) I have already picked the brains of some..but would love additional imput! The goal is healthy and simple and the more ideas the better.

So far for breakfast we have:
Oatmeal, cereal, egg mcmuffins, bagel and smoothies, oatmeal pancakes or oatmeal waffles and then a repeat of either oatmeal, cereal or pancakes/waffles ( I make enough the one day to pull the other day straight from the freezer).

For lunch it's: tuna sandwiches, PB&J, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas or bean burritos and sometimes I do smoothies for lunch along with granola.

Really...all ideas are welcome and, hopefully, others will benefit too from your comments!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Edge of the Word


I am about 2/3 through John MacAurthur's "The Gospel According to Jesus". It's been GREAT! It's not a new book...I think my husband would call it an "oldie but goodie". In fact, it's one of the top most influential books in his life (if I am quoting him correctly:)). Anyway, that's my little "ad" to get you to read it, too...but what I really wanted to share was a quote in MacArthurs's book made by Charles Spurgeon. MacAurthur was writing about the metaphor of the vine and the branches and talking specifically about the spiritual pruning that takes place in believer's lives. The pruning knife He (God) often uses is the Word of God. Spurgeon says

"The Word is often the knife with which the great Husbandman prunes the vine; and, brothers and sisters, if we were more willing to feel the edge of the Word, and to let it cut away something that may be very dear to us, we should not need so much pruning by affliction."

I never thought if it like that...but boy did it give me a lot to meditate on! It was also a wonderful reminder to daily ask the Lord to help me LOVE His Word and LONG for it more than anything else!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Establish the Work of our Hands

"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." Psalms 15:14

It's a memory verse the kids and I learned months ago...but it came to mind as I read Psalm 90...a psalm that Moses wrote. There are a couple of verses that are in that Psalm that spoke to my heart and God has kept me meditating on them. Verse 12 was a pretty familiar verse to me but one I can't hear enough:

"So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You (gain) a heart of wisdom."

We are to evaluate the use of our time in light of the brevity of life (MacArthur Study Bible). We are to live out the truths in Ephesians 5:15-16:

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil."

So often, I seek to be "careful how I walk" to set goals, make schedules, menu plan, etc... but my goal is not always to gain a heart of wisdom...my goal is not always Godward...my goal is often "meward". What will make life easier for me? What will make me feel "good" about myself?

Yes, I want to be a "Proverbs 31 woman"...but it must start with "the fear of the Lord". It must start, and stay, with setting the Lord before me....with a desire to gain a heart of wisdom.

Only then can I pray Psalm 90:17:

"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands."

MacArthur says it this way,"By God's mercy and grace, one's life can have value, significance, and meaning."

I don't want the "work of my hands" to burn up because they were simply "wood, hay, and straw" instead of "gold, silver, and precious stones" built on the foundation of Jesus Christ Himself (I Cor. 3:10-15). My life has value, significance and meaning not because of anything that I do but because of what Jesus Christ does in and through me...I am just the clay, just a cracked pot that could have easily been used for garbage...but has, instead, been filled with a precious treasure...the Lord Jesus Christ!

O Lord, establish the work of our hands. Gives us hearts of wisdom...hearts that live moment by moment setting You before us, fixing our eyes on You and Your Word, not commending ourselves but looking to You for our approval, commendation and for You to establish our works. For from You and through You and to You are all things. To You be the glory forever! Amen

"For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends." 2 Cor. 10:18

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Sin of Comparing


I would have been the first person to tell you that I really don't struggle with comparing myself to others...it's not a sin that easily entangles me (believe me, I have a boatload of others that do!). But, just like the book "Respectable Sins" by Jerry Bridges, I was faced with the fact that I actually do compare more than I thought as I read "Girltalk Blog" and the series they just wrapped up on their site. I was convicted, encouraged and challenged by the Word of God, wise words from the Mahaney women and some great quotes from others!

It was a GREAT series on envy...one of my favorites in all the years I have been reading them...so I was SO EXCITED when they put it all together in a PDF file format that could be downloaded and printed off! It is well worth the paper, ink and the time to read it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In need of a Happy Hour?


Bet you wanted to read this post to see if I just went off the deep end, huh?!
Actually, I had to pass along a little bit of fun news my sister shared with me today. Starbucks is having "Happy Hour" this week (through the 16th) and all Frappucino blended drinks are half price from 3 to 5 pm! I am already trying to justify why I should go every day till the sale is over....

-one day can be to catch up with a friend

-one day can be to go on a mini date with Bryan

-one day can be to take the girls for a little "mommy/daughter" time

-and the last day, Sunday...well, that's the Lord's Day...the happiest day of the week...I think that is reason enough to celebrate!:)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Catching Up


I know that life is busy when I actually have to put my blog on my "to do list"! :) I truly do enjoy writing and sharing...but, sometimes, it is just not a reality in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life!

I thought I would try to catch you up by giving you a snapshot on each of the kids.

Micah is "full swing" into baseball (no pun intended!) and loving it as always! He has been pitching 1 to 2 innings a game and really is getting into a groove (last game, he only threw 23 pitches between those two innings!). He's serious about the game and handles the wins and losses well...he has also been handling getting hit pretty well, too. He has taken his share of walks to first base after being hit by the pitcher!

Micah has made a lot of friends at church and, most of them, although they are his age are a grade above him. Micah wasn't so thrilled about that and his "go get em" attitude has propelled him into working extra hard to get caught up so that he can begin 5th grade in the fall instead of 4th grade. He is working on 4th grade math and language arts, has read a whole book on Canadian history and is waiting on mom to teach him the metric system (mom actually has to study that one out on her own first!:)).

Grace continues to love taking care of Tessie and we continually see Tessie dressed up in the craziest things or being "dragged" around doing something you can tell she does not want to do (most recently, it was an obstacle course that our landlord had up in the backyard for his collie dogs!). Tessie has taken to hiding under our bed!:)

Grace is working on developing a love for reading...she would be the first to admit it's not her favorite. We got a couple of "horse books" since she loves horses and, right now, we are reading "Black Beauty" as a family. Grace is also working on her "skating skills" with her new carpet skates. She and Faith both spent the rest of their Christmas money and bought carpet skates off of Ebay. They are not much more than pieces of plastic that have velcro on the top to secure your foot...but they really do glide across the carpet and, after taking a half an hour going back and forth in our living room, I have deemed it quite the workout!:)

Samuel has been losing teeth faster than any of our other kids ever had. He lost 4 teeth in the matter of about two weeks...now, both he and Grace are both missing their two (top) front teeth! He is also "plowing through" grades of school! He finished up Kindergarten at the end of March (and we took him to our charter school to be tested to see where he was at..right on target!) and then, last week, he finished 1st grade math and has started on 2nd grade math this week. He is a little bit farther behind with his 1st grade language arts...but I think he will be moving to 2nd grade by the end of the month. He has had a great attitude through it all! I keep praising the Lord for how well he is grasping concepts and catching on. The Lord has been so gracious to him and to me as his teacher...He knows how much I can handle!

Samuel is not without his struggles though...and I am sharing the following...not in a desire to "air his dirty laundry" or "make him look bad" but because I know there are many of you who have either adopted or are in the process of adopting and I believe this info might be helpful. Plus, we are praying that the Lord would give Samuel victory over this area of sin in his life and that He would receive all the glory and praise over his changed life (just as He does in our lives as we repent of sin!). The Lord has brought to our attention that our dear son continues to lie. He lies so well, we have not been catching on to it, he lies almost an naturally as he breathes it seems. There are real tears, looks of complete innocence and sadness that we would even question him...and yet, by the grace of God, we have been able to see that all of those things are simply a cover to self preservation, to lies that he so badly does not want exposed. He is so good at lying...we can't help but think he is believing his own lies.

We have spent hours with him...correcting, instructing, spanking, encouraging, praying reminding him of the sweet hope of the gospel - of sin paid in full...we have felt sick to our stomachs to see how deep this root of lying is embedded in his soul but we are praising the Lord that He has not allowed this to go unnoticed any longer. It's a long road...and our hearts break not being able to trust Samuel and take him at his word...but we are excited to see how the Lord is going to use this to mold and shape our dear son and to stretch and grow Bryan and I.

We really believe that lying just might be one of the biggest "issues" that adoptive parents of children who are older will face. I can only imagine, in an orphanage full of children, how easy it must be to lie and get away with it. A little lie results in a punishment avoided and soon the lies become part of everyday vocabulary as they seek to look out for themselves. Then, the Lord gives us these precious children and we begin to forge a relationship with them. Everything is new, the language barrier is real...and it's easy to start assuming that the things said that "don't add up" are all related to confusion of language...not to actual lying. But we found that, as language issues cleared up and confusion began to leave...one thing remained strong...the truth was still missing.

We had thought that the battle for truth had been fought and won (though Caleb still seemed to struggle from time to time)...what we didn't realize was that dear Samuel just got better at it over time!:) We love our son, we are so thankful for his beautiful life and his adoption in our family...but we would also love your prayers for him and for wisdom for us, as well. And, if any of you have found yourself in the same situation...you are not alone...but His grace is sufficient, isn't it!!!!!

Okay...now where was I? FAITH! Faith keeps showing herself to be a miniature version of me!:) Her expressions, her "zest for life", her love of books...and yes...her loud voice, incessant talking and love for food all take after me, too! Speaking of books, she got 75 Boxcar Children books for her birthday in January (great deal on Ebay!) and she just finished the 75th one this week! We have actually had to limit her reading...she is such a bookworm!

She is not much into joining the rest of her siblings for games of floor hockey or baseball...but I did crack up watching her "umpire" a baseball game the kids started up while at the ballpark for Micah's game.:) She beats to her own drum and we love her for it!

Titus continues to keep us laughing. Whatever he does, he goes all out...and the more "uniform" or "equipment" in whatever he is doing, the better! We went for a hike a few weeks ago...and Titus came to us dressed up in the following:
We "understood" most of it, except for the gloves...he informed us those were to keep the "pricker bushes" away!:) He has taken to playing goalie in hockey...much like he has taken to playing catcher in baseball...the common theme seems to be that they are the players with the most equipment!:) Titus is growing up so fast...yet, he still has a boyish sweetness about him that charms everyone, especially his mommy!

Caleb is growing too...he is understanding more, articulating more and feeling more and more secure in his new family! He has learned almost all the names of the provinces and territories in Canada...right alongside his siblings...and he is working very hard on his memory verses. There is still much to learn, though...I told the kids they could go and play in the backyard after lunch and Caleb looked at me with a funny face and said "Where is the backyard?".:) (We still work on the meaning of words almost daily with Caleb and Samuel) Caleb and Titus truly continue to be best buddies. Titus is a bit bossy, but Caleb seems to handle it pretty well. He is starting to use his "way of escape" more often, though, by coming to me when Titus won't have it any other way but his own!:)

Speaking of the backyard...we could officially use ours as of Mother's Day...which made Mother's Day very sweet indeed for this Mommy!:)

Bryan is loving work and those he works alongside. This summer will be a busy one for him as he gears up for summer projects and kicking off his first "start" (Sept.)in regards to Sunday School and other family related "stuff". A bigger church means just that...bigger....more people to shepherd, more Sunday School classes to oversee, more families to get to know! In the midst of it all, he has done such a wonderful job of being "there" for us as a husband and a daddy. He is an amazing shepherd of our home and my heart rejoices greatly in the gift that he is! It's been a precious start and we are both so thankful for what God has done!

Me...explaining all that I just did should make it clear that life is never dull!:) I am so thankful for the privilege of being a mom to six children and wife to a godly man! Homeschooling continues to bring my sin quickly to the surface...but it also is growing sweeter,too! I am so thankful for this season that the Lord has placed me in! I am seeking to be "all there" in whatever I am doing and just "doing the next thing" because each day has enough trouble of it's own as Mathew puts it. When I look too far ahead, I am easily overwhelmed and find my eyes fixed on days and situations instead of the Lord and the sustaining grace He gives for where I am...not where I think I will be!

"So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom...Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:12,14




Friday, May 7, 2010

A Friday Favorite


I know I said I would post some pictures...I will before the weekend is out...but I did want to tell you about one of our Friday traditions and a new find!

We are a big family and that means eating out, going to a movie, mini golf (is there mini golf in Surrey?) and well...just about anything for an extra special treat really adds up and makes a nice dent into our living expenses!:) We are always looking for ways to do a cheaper version of something extra special.

We have found a yummy mocha mix at Costco that makes an amazing frappucino right in our own kitchen (the stuff online costs a lot...but at Costco it's only $8 for a hug tub)...who needs Starbucks?!:) We try to keep our eye open for family friendly movies that get great reviews by Christian review sources that we trust. And we LOVE to eat pizza!!! Our Friday tradition (as best as we can keep it) is to have homemade pizza and either do a movie night or a game night.

I found a new dough recipe about a month ago on "All Recipes" and we all agree that it is the best pizza dough that we have had yet! My favorite part is that it's the EASIEST dough I have made to date. In fact, you don't have to let it rise at all...which means you can have a pizza in the oven within 20 minutes of starting to mix everything! (The only thing I change is doing 2 cups of white flour and 1 cup of wheat flour...and, of course, doubling it so I can make 2 pizzas!)

Word of warning...mixing and rolling is a killer. I even chuckled under my breath to Bryan that the reason the Proverbs 31 woman was to "dress herself with strength and make her arms strong" was probably because she spent so much time making bread with a dough similar to the pizza dough!:) See it as an opportunity to get some cardio and conditioning in!:)

We also found a great tomato sauce for the base at Trader Joes. Unfortunately, it's a bit high on the fat side...that is probably why it's so good!:) It's their Tomato Basil Marinara. And don't forget about the toppings...they make pizza so much fun. Last week (on my side!) I put chicken, spinach, artichokes, olives, onion, red pepper and feta cheese...AMAZING!

Let the traditions roll!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Building our Homes Part VI


Okay...this is the last of the series...I am having too much fun adding "Roman Numerals" to the end of the same title!:) Plus...my sister says she would like to see some pictures of the kids...I have to agree, I have been terrible at taking pictures, let alone posting them lately!

I think a fitting way to end looking at Psalm 127 is actually to take a look at the beginning of Psalm 128:

"Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you."

They key to building our homes, to walking wisely, to making the best use of our time, to training our children is: the fear of the Lord. One persons definition of the "fear of the Lord" is:

The fear of the Lord is an attitude of respect toward God, which includes a healthy dread of displeasing Him. The fear of the Lord is about reverence toward God, respect for Him, love and appreciation, holding Him and His beloved Son in high esteem. And this is the attitude necessary in order for us to know and do what's right!

We grow in our "fear of the Lord" as we study His Word and cling to Him "for he is our life and length of days"(Deut. 30:19) and, as Peter said about Jesus, "You have the words of life" (John 6:68).

And, we can cling to the promise that we "shall eat the fruit of the labor of our hands". We can hold tightly to Galatians 6:9: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up". We may not see the "fruit" right away...we may not feel blessed all the time...but we can persevere and faithfully, joyfully keep plugging along, as we fix our eyes on Jesus, knowing that God is true and what He says He will accomplish. Ginger Plowman said it this way, "You reap what you sow, you reap more than you sow and you reap later than you sow." Wise words, don't you think?

Building our homes is not easy...in fact, it's all in vain if it's not done in the fear of the Lord and for His glory...not our own. Sowing can be a laborious task and waiting for fruit to spring up can be downright wearisome. But, if we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), we will know the joy that He had as He approached the cross. Not because he was excited to die...but He knew what the outcome meant. O, how thankful I am that Jesus did not give up, did not lose heart or grow weary...but pressed on toward the cross and was victorious over death, securing my salvation and that of all who believe!

"For all the promises of God find their yes in Him (Jesus). That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory." I Corinthians 1:20

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Building our Homes Part V


"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep." Psalm 127:2

So many times it feels as though there are just not enough hours in the day...not enough time to get all the needs to be done, done. When that happens I start to grow anxious, start to grow even frustrated...I lay in bed at night thinking about what needs to be done and, the little sleep I do get, is delayed even further by my heart of unrest.

I think that that is the point of Psalm 127:2...if our eyes are not fixed on Christ and are, instead, fixed on all there is to do...it doesn't matter how early we rise or late we go to bed...it's all vanity. Our toil is full of anxiety and vanity because it is not being done "in the Lord"(I Cor. 15:58)

I also think that I forget that TIME was created by God. He ordained 24 hours to be in each day and there is nothing I can do to change that. And instead of thinking of all the things that still need to be done...the things I have started but not completed or the things that I want to do but have not found the time to begin...I need to rejoice that I serve a God who completes everything He started...including the good work that He has begun in me (Phil 1:6).

I was reminded of this truth in the most beautiful of ways...through song! Sovereign Grace Music put out a new CD this past fall called "Sons and Daughters" and it is just WONDERFUL!!! One of the chorus' kept me meditating on it's truths way beyond it's one line. It said,

"What You complete is completely done."

Think about that. All of God's "to do lists" get done. There is nothing that He started that will not be completed exactly the way He wants it to be. There is no vanity in anything that He does and there is not one moment of anxiety in the God who gives all men "life and breath and everything else". And if we are resting in, clinging to, and seeking Him with all our hearts we, too, can rest without frustration or anxiety, we can toil in the strength that God provides (Col. 1:29) and we can rejoice knowing that we cannot miss His ordained plan for us! That should lead us all to simply, as Elisabeth Elliot once said, "do the next thing" for the glory of God and the good of our souls, our family and those around us.

He will complete the good work He has started in You and me!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Building our Homes Part IV


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

Our children our gifts...and we need to look for ways to show them that we are so thankful for them...we need to let them know that they are our favorite gifts from God after our salvation and our husbands!

Speaking of husbands, my husband illustrated this to our little Titus this past week. He sent him the following email in the middle of the day(to my account...and then I read it to him):

Dear Titus,

I was thinking about you today and praying for you and I wanted to you
to know that I love you and look forward to spending time with you
this afternoon when I come home! See you then
Love Dad


Seems so simple, so "no big deal"...not so. Titus was in tears...he literally sat on my lap and sobbed happy tears. He said that he couldn't believe that Daddy spent time (his exact words were "wasted time"...but I knew what he meant!:) ) to write him and tell him he loved him and that he was thinking about him...that it really blessed his heart.

I was blown away at how far a small gesture went...and so thankful that the Lord has laid it on my hubby's heart to do that once a week for each of the kids.

I was also convicted and encouraged in my spirit that another way I can help show the kids that I see them as a gift and as so very special is by looking them in the eyes when they talk. Sounds simple, huh? But it really isn't. There are so many times that I am in the middle of things when the kids come to share something with me or ask me a question and it is very easy for me to answer them without looking at them even once or listen half halfheartedly while I continue typing or writing or measuring. I realize there are times when I have to "do" other things while they talk...but I am going to be working really hard to stop, look them in the eyes and show them that I am listening with ALL of me when they are sharing with me.

There is a saying that the eyes are the windows into our souls....and, while it may not be a Biblical saying...there is much truth to it. In our children's eyes we can see joy, sadness, rebellion, uncertainty, questioning and so much more. Their eyes often tell what their heart feels. I want to know what their heart feels so that I can shepherd that little heart, by the grace of God. Looking them in the eyes is one way to help with that!

They may be small ways...but, sometimes starting small is the best place to start!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Building our Homes Part III


Going back to Monday and how I shared (as I remind myself) that we need to see our "job" of wife and mother not just as a responsibility but as a precious gift from God...I read a GREAT blog post on Raw Christianity about gifts and how our attitude should be as the receiver of gifts. Being a wife and mother is not just the gift...all that makes up our role as wife and mom is the gift too! That includes making meals, being interrupted (which I have been countless times since starting this post!), cleaning up rooms, teaching the same thing over and over, fielding endless amounts of questions...do I need to go on?:)

I think it's so easy to forget that each one of those things are also gifts from God...given to us at exactly the right moment to accomplish exactly the purpose it was created for...our sanctification! But, if we don't have our eyes fixed on what is "unseen" and eternal, we will find ourselves quick to forget and quick to grumble and complain at the very gifts that are "good and perfect" (James 1:17) and we'll spend our time with eyes fixed in the wrong places looking for some other kind of gift!

Okay...time to stop typing...because what I really want you to read is not my words but David Gundersen's words! Let's rejoice today in the gifts of God...and, ultimately, in the Giver, God Himself!


Gift Exchanges
April 27, 2010

These last few weeks before graduation are always filled with public thank-you’s, gifts of gratitude, and tokens of appreciation. The academic excellence of students and the sacrificial faithfulness of leaders calls out many well-deserved expressions of honor.

On the Deans’ Staff this year, we’ve had the privilege of serving alongside a very rare student leader — a three-year Resident Assistant named Jesher Loi. To honor and thank him at our final staff meeting, I brought him up and presented him with an ESV Study Bible. As I spoke about Jesher, every head in the room nodded in a unison that demonstrated the consistency and power of his campus-wide influence during his time at the college.

After the meeting, Jesher met me at the front of the room and thanked me. Since I had chosen the color and cover style of his gift, I had planned all along to tell him that he could exchange it at the campus bookstore for a differently-styled ESV Study Bible of his own choosing. Earlier in the day I had even confirmed with the bookstore clerk that Jesher could come in on his own and make the exchange without having a receipt.

Jesher’s gracious response to my offer was surprising: “No, I wouldn’t want to exchange a gift; it’s special because it’s what you’ve chosen for me.”

I don’t know if it’s his Singapore roots where leaders and teachers are highly honored, or his social graces which give him relational wisdom beyond his years, or his spiritual maturity that exhibits a rare perspective. No matter the source, I was struck by his response because it’s as instructive as it is uncommon.

We function in a society of gift receipts and post-Christmas exchanges, an atmosphere in which it’s entirely normal and often expected for the gift-giver to provide as many post-gift options as possible: exchanges, store credit, or even complete refunds. We expect many of the gifts we give to be altered or even completely bartered away for something more preferred. To put it crudely, we expect many of our gifts to be unaccepted.

But far more importantly, we even reserve the freedom to alter the gifts we receive.

Certainly it’s sensible and practical to grant each other the social freedom to exchange an oversized shirt or trade in an already-owned board game after the Christmas festivities have wound down. With all the travesties in our world, this custom surely isn’t too high on the totem pole.

Yet this type of mentality has a liquid quality — it tends to seep into the rest of our thinking, seeking the lowest level, at times even infiltrating the very foundations of our worldview. Who can deny our tendency to be customizers of grace, those who would rather pick and choose what we’re given instead of trusting the Good Giver of all? How many of God’s gifts do we accept hesitantly, putting on a smile and mouthing the obligatory thank-you while examining the box for a gift receipt? A tray of well-prepared food in the school cafeteria, a ministry opportunity in the form of an interruption, a morning of needed rain on our one day off?

How many of God gifts do we miss entirely because we’re looking for something else, something more in line with our preferences, or even our mood? A stunning sunset on the horizon when we’re looking for a traffic-less commute home; a strong exhortation from a knowing friend when we were hoping for some soft pushover sympathy; a short night’s rest when we’re really wanting to wake up fully rested and fully independent.

How happy we might be if we were to accept each of God’s gracious gifts in simple faith, trusting the Giver, even telling Him, “No, I wouldn’t want to exchange Your gift. It’s special because it’s what You’ve chosen for me. It’s good because it’s what You’ve chosen for me. It’s good because You’re good.”

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Father of Lights, teach us to happily receive each of Your gifts according to Your wise providence instead of customizing our own according to our worldly preferences.