Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How I love quotes!

"Your children are pieces of yourselves, and therefore ought to be governed with great tenderness and love. When you caution them, when you counsel them, when you reprove them, do it in such a manner as not to exasperate, endeavoring to convince their judgments and to work on their reason." Matthew Henry

Thanks, Mom, for this great quote...not just for this week...but for life!

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's that time again...


The first day of school always comes so fast and always comes in a way that leaves me reminding myself that "the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps"(Proverbs 16:9). It usually leaves me feeling as though there is no way I can do another year of it...which takes me quickly to the Throne of Grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need(Hebrews 4:16)...and that is exactly where I need to be!

I felt like I was as prepared as I could be...this week is more about learning about the new computer system we are using and helping the kids to feel comfortable with the style and new approach of their schoolwork. It was supposed to be a layed back week. I even read the first few chapters last night of "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quite Spirit" (I'll finish it up this week) to be reminded again of the HEART that God want's me to have! I was ready to go!:)

Hands were washed, computers were turned on and the kids were ready to begin...if only they had actual lessons to do. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten my brother's instructions, assumed it would just "pop up" and was completely baffled when it didn't! I was somewhere between laughing because God's plans are so often different from my plans, praying for a cheerful heart and attitude and wanting to throw up my hands and just say "forget it"!!! Two hours later and a phone call into the SOS technician and we were up and running!

It is going to take a full week to get settled into a new routine and learn the curriculum and how it operates...I kept telling the kids that today is the hardest day...it will get easier! They love being on a computer and the animation that comes with their lessons...and Micah as high hopes of enjoying learning French! Titus and Caleb were just plain cute and while Samuel's reading ability will keep me close to his "desk" but I am praying that, eventually, there will be more freedom for them and for myself!
When it comes to writing posts about home schooling, I walk a fine line in showing weariness or an overwhelmed attitude...there are many who would say I am crazy, it's my own choice and so I need to deal with the ramifications or just put the kids in school...and, to be honest, they are right. We both truly feel that God has called us to a season of homeschooling...but it is still a choice that we have made. So, please know that if I ever share an attitude of frustration or irritation or just absolute exhaustion...it's in a desire to be authentic about life...sin and all! There is not a superwoman cape that I keep tucked beneath my clothes.:) But I am also learning that life is hard...not bad, but hard...God uses trials to grow us and stretch us! Sure, He does lead us by green pastures and streams of water but those often do not look like the green pastures and quiet waters we have dreamed up in our mind...and the road in getting to them is often rugged and difficult! Joy is not found simply in "the journey" it's found when we have eyes fixed on HIM in the journey!!

With that said, if you have not started your school year yet...may I give you a few tips (for home school or for life in general!):

1)MAKE SURE YOU DRINK THAT CUP OF COFFEE!!!:)
2)Assume it will not go as you planned but it will go exactly how the Lord wants it to!
3)Kiss your husband...it's one of the sweetest moments of the morning!
4)Pray (often) with your kids, for your kids and for yourself to your kids...they need to see just how weak you are so they can see just how BIG God is!!!
5)Find reasons to laugh and smile..it's super contagious!:)
6)Feed your soul...you need His Word way more than even that cup of coffee I mentioned!

I am hoping that with being back into a "school schedule", my writing will become a comfortable part of that routine...I still have my sticky notes of things I want to share but just haven't yet!:) As C J Mahaney once said, "Only God gets his to-do list done each day. We are not God. We are finite creatures with serious limitations."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shades of Blue


I am not one to recommend fiction books....there are so many good books that spur us on to godly living...that those ones seem much more worth writing about and recommending. And, I will still say that if reading is a struggle for you and you'd rather be doing just about anything but sit down with a book...don't even bother to pick up this book...it would be much better for you to "dig into" a book packed with spiritual truths that will help you to walk wisely in the fear of the Lord than the fiction book I am about to recommend.

Okay...with that disclaimer in place...I read a precious book a couple of weeks ago called "Shades of Blue" by Karen Kingsbury. Through a story, the theme of the book was about abortion and the affect it has on those who have them. It brought me to tears and to a deeper level of compassion and care for those who carry the weight of that past choice (and, I have a feeling that cases like that are much more common than are ever shared...maybe over fear that we will reject them or not love them with Christ's love or that they will be forever "tainted" in our eyes...I can't help but wonder how many of our past sins lay buried under layers of fear and guilt over what others would think if they found out...forgetting that God works ALL things together for our good and can use us as instruments of His grace and love to others because of what He has brought us through).

I tend to be a black and white gal (often that makes me a Pharisee, sadly!) who can be quick to see the sin and not care about the sinner or even begin to imagine how that sin has affected their lives. I know from my own life, just how painful the consequences of my sin can be...but often, I don't take the time to see life through the eyes of someone who is facing the consequences of their sin...in the case of this story...aborted their baby or had a hand in helping a girl make those decisions.

This book helped give me those eyes...and I am so thankful that the Lord laid it on Karen's heart to write a book about such a painful subject. If you chose to pick it up at the library or bookstore...don't forget to read her letter at the end of the book. I am thankful that she chose to allow choices she made in her past encourage others in Jesus today!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Old and New


I often refer back to Deuteronomy 6:5-9 so that my heart can be reminded about the calling God has placed upon my life as a mother to my children:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."


This past week, I found a "parallel" New Testament passage that excited my heart and encouraged my spirit in the calling God has given me! 2 Timothy 3:14-16:

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..."


I think we are all familiar with verse 16...but verses 14 and 15 got me so excited! Our job is to continually "acquaint" our kids with the Word of God...because God uses His Word to save His people and our job is to help lay that foundation of them becoming wise in the Word of God! And the Word of God is profitable for every single situation we encounter with our kids...so, in the end, we are not only "acquainting" our kids with God's Word...His Word will actually become a dear friend...one in which they not only learn but "firmly believe". It is just so amazing that we have been given such a high calling...we are like modern day John the Baptists' for our kids!!!! WOW!!!! (and I am putting all the exclamation points because it is so easy for me to bemoan the hard work of this high calling instead of REJOICE in it!!!!)

I was also thinking what a dear encouragement this passage is for moms who are saved but their hubbies are not...or single moms...or moms with husbands that are gone a lot or not the spiritual leaders that they need to be...or grandmas that are a big part of their grand kid's lives. Timothy was taught all these things by his grandmother and mother. He didn't grow up in a "perfect" family. In fact, it's just like God to show that He isn't looking for perfect families and that He can bless mightily even in the midst of a family structure that is far from "ideal"; Because He blesses faithfulness...He blesses hearts that love Him above all else and proclaim His name...He blesses those moms and grandmas that teach their dear children and grandchildren the precious truths of God's Word, in season and out of season, with help or without it. And He is glorified and made much of as we sit and watch His sovereign hand in our kids lives! Who knows, you may very well be raising the next Timothy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods....

The kids and I returned this weekend from spending the week in Oregon with my parents and an overnight at my brother David's house. I always love any reason to visit my parents...and this time it was to pick up computers that we bought and had sent there (gotta love the no tax in Oregon!);and to bring back my mom's piano from when she was a girl. Grace and Faith will be starting up lessons this fall with a dear woman in our church. The keyboard worked great for Grace last year...but it was time to start thinking about the "real deal"!:)

We started our trip with a stop in Tacoma to visit some friends from Yakima (who had moved to Tacoma). We had a couple of sweet hours of catching up that went by way too fast and got to say hello and cuddle with the newest addition to the Chargualaf family, 2 week old baby Luke! They sent us off with a picnic chicken dinner (thank you Matt...what an unexpected blessing!) and we enjoyed it a couple hours later as we made our way to my parents!
We ended up having a full week! I don't know if my parents are tired but I sure am!:)






Swimming, two nights of camping with my parents (Papa kept all the boys the second night and the girls went home! Thanks for the special memories, Papa!)and then a visit with my brother and his wife, Michelle. I was so humbled by their hospitality and extra loving care they gave to us in the less than 24 hours we were there....David spent 6 hours working on the computers to get them ready to be used by the kids and Michelle made me a belated birthday cake...I wish I could have shared a piece with all of you...it was chocolate cake with coffee frosting....AMAZING!!!! Thank you so much for serving us while we were with you!

I towed a little U-Haul trailer home with the piano in it...and we spent a lot of time listening to music...Jeremy Camp's CD "Carried Me" (an "oldie" but wonderful!) was a favorite this trip and it was exactly the truths I needed to hear and preach to myself...especially as I have been looking ahead to a new school year beginning...but not feeling rested like I hoped I would be from this past year!

Jeremy Camp wrote "Carried Me" in and around the marriage and then death of his first wife (she died four months after they were married from Ovarian cancer). His songs share a passionate love for his Savior and remind me a lot of David's psalms to the Lord in the book of Psalms. One song in particular resonated within my soul and is the cry of my heart as I get ready to add to my plate and feel so unequipped to do so! You can listen to it "here")

"Holy fire burn away, my desire for anything that is not of You and is of me,I want more of You and less of me. Empty me, fill, won't you fill me, with You."

The words reminded me of the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
The more I see who I am apart from Christ (i.e. all my sin!)...the more that all I want is to become so very small so that God can be seen as so very great...for who He is...the Creator, Sustainer, Saviour, Life-Giver, Redeemer, Justifier, Grace-Giver...He is everything our soul longs for and so much more that it will take all of eternity to grasp who God is!

So, my prayer is that God will continue to weed out the sin, to take away all my selfish desires, my plans that, though they seem good are not necessarily God's plan; and that He would fill me with great desire for what He desires!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parenting Confession


I am thankful for how the Lord so often uses my relationship with Him to help me in my relationship with my kids...or, to put it another way, to gain a greater perspective!

There are times where I can be busy "doing" things for the Lord...good things, Biblical things...but not really enjoying the Lord. The watching world would say that I was putting the Lord first, but inwardly, He has taken second place under the priority "duty". Instead of being caught up in a love relationship with Jesus, I am caught up in all that I should be "doing"...forgetting that God's chief concern is that I love Him with all that I am...that I desire Him above all else...that He would be my life and the length of my days!!! That I would live with sheer rapture and delight in my engagement to the King of Kings. Though it should never be, it's often so much easier to be a Pharisee than to bask in the light of my Savior, my Redeemer, my Love. Praise God for His forgiveness and open arms!

It can be the same way with my kids...in fact, if I am being really transparent, it is OFTEN that way. I am so busy doing things for them...good things...things that need to be done like cooking and cleaning and teaching and instructing...that I am not really enjoying them. Not really delighting in them. Not really treasuring them as I ought to.

Micah informed me last week that he is halfway to college! He's actually more than half way and as I thought about that I found myself crying out, "Oh Lord, teach me to number my days that I might gain a heart of wisdom." Lord, help me to be "careful how I walk not as unwise but as wise making the best use of the time". Time is fleeting, life is a vapor...I am learning that more and more with each passing day.

And I am also learning more and more what it means to truly be "in love" with Jesus and, as a result, what it means to "love my children" as Titus 2 tells me to! And I am so thankful that, just like Jesus, my kids are full of forgiveness and keep their arms open wide for this woman that they call mom! God's mercy and grace is truly amazing!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Day at the Beach

I have no pictures to show for our wonderful days (yep, we were blessed to sneak away the last two afternoons!) at the beach...but I have many new memories! The last two days have been pretty warm here in British Columbia...and living on the second floor with no air intensifies that a bit...so, we heard the beach calling our name! We are so very thankful to have a beach less than a half an hour away! It reminds us just a little bit of our year in Florida!

The boys (Samuel and Titus) spent their birthday money on skim boards and Bryan pulled out his decade old skim board and the last two days have been spent learning and trying to perfect the art of skim boarding. Faith and I have failed the class both days...but I am not giving up hope!:)There are many bodies with various cuts on them from crashing into shells in the inch deep water...but they never gave up!

We also did something for the very first time...we "went" clamming! We actually didn't have to look much further than the spot we were set up on...just a foot or so under was a world of clams...and the kids had so much fun collecting them and we had so much fun steaming and eating them tonight! How could I forget to take more pictures????!!!!

I was able to finish another book ( I just finished "The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family" by Martha Peace and Stuart Scott...it was good...covered issues from infancy all the way through the teen years, children who "walk away", single parenting, etc...) at the beach. "Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood" by Ted Kluck. It was basically a memoir on his and his wife's two adoptions and years of infertility in between. He talks about the heart aches of infertility and the joys and heart aches of adoption. His book is as real as they come. He shares emotions and situations they were in, both good and bad, and yet he writes with such wit that you often find yourself laughing through both! It's a look at a man in the process of sanctification (as we all are) and he is transparent about his sin but also the truth of God's Word that leads to repentance. There are times I believe he says more than he needs to and will offend some of his readers...but, in the end, if you have adopted, are thinking about adopting, are in the process of adoption, have struggled with infertility or you just want to learn more about the joys and struggles of adopting children...I'd definitely add this one to your reading list. And, it's actually a book your husbands will enjoy reading...I can almost guarantee it! I know my husband will!:)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Helpless


I am reading a book called "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller and one particular chapter has just jumped out, grabbed me by the head and infused itself into my brain. I can tell you that it is transforming the way I look at prayer. Because, if I am being honest, here is how I have looked at prayer:

1)How we talk to God
2)A Discipline
3)Deepens our Relationship with Him
4)A command in Scripture
5)Something I am to do without ceasing yet seem to be able to cease very easily!

Of course, there are so many other reasons to pray and so much more that I could write about why I should pray and the need for it....but chapter 6 was like looking through the lens of a camera and finding the focal point of picture; and that point helps bring everything else into it's proper focus and balance....Learning to be Helpless. That's the title and that's the focal point of prayer! Here are a few quotes from the chapter (he explains it much better than I could):

"We tell ourselves, "Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I'd pray more." Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don't try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allows them to access grace."

"Little children are good at helplessness. It's what they do best. But as adults, we soon forget how important helplessness is. I, for one, am allergic to helplessness. I don't like it. I want a plan, an idea, or maybe a friend to listen to my problem. This is how I instinctively approach everything because I am confident in my own abilities."

"We received Jesus because we were weak, and that's how we follow Him. Paul told the Colossians, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him."(2:6). We forget that helplessness is how the Christian life works."

"Surprisingly, mature Christians feel less mature on the inside. When they hear Jesus say, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), they nod in agreement. They reflect on all the things they've done without Jesus, which have become nothing. Mature Christians are keenly aware that they can't raise their kids. It's a no-brainer. Even if they are perfect parents, they still can't get inside their kid's hearts. That's why strong Christians pray....It didn't take me long to realize I did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God. It was actually quite relaxing." ( He was speaking of his teenage children in the last section)


When I am not "praying without ceasing" it's not because I just need to be more disciplined or need to stop being so busy...it's that I need to be preaching to myself just how helpless I am. Because, when I truly live that "apart from Him I can do nothing"...I won't just sit at the foot of the cross, I will be clinging to it...every moment of every day! I will echo Solomon's prayer in 1 Kings 3:7:

"...I am but a little child; I do not know how to go our or come in."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to love sad people


Okay, I'll be honest, I am itching to write...I have decided that it really is something I truly enjoy doing because when I go many days without getting my thoughts down on paper, I actually start to miss my fingers on the keys...thinking, typing, backspacing, rewording, finding the reference for that verse that is swirling around in my head, praying, smiling, tearing up, editing...there is so much that goes into putting my thoughts on paper (er...computer screen) and it's actually a real relaxing, fun time for me!
So, all that to say, I hope to actually put some of my own words down on this blog tomorrow...but for today, I hope you'll read the words of Nancy Guthrie. A friend sent me the following link and I thought it was just too good not to pass on. We all know people who are sad...lets face it, that is often us over one thing or another, right?! God does allow pain into the life of believers....and it comes in the form of various trials from death to a baby that will not sleep through the night...He uses it to grow us and keep us dependent upon Him. But sometimes it's not easy to minister to someone who is "sad". We don't know what to say exactly or what to do. Nancy gives some great wisdom on the subject that I think we can all learn from. Check it out HERE!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our life is a stage


It might be easy after a post like yesterday to get the impression that life is "pie in the sky" for me and that I know little about about how difficult life can be...at least at the moment. So, I figured it was a good time to tell you not to begin to think the grass is greener on the other side! It's exactly the color God wants...both in your life and mine!

I am in the midst of planning a new year of school. Between the combination of planning and realizing that school starts back up in less than a month (and, other hormones to boot) I feel like my blood pressure has been rising and that it's lifted my head off of my shoulders...leaving me feeling a bit lightheaded and dizzy...but don't worry, it comes crashing back down again leaving me with a headache and a strong aversion to being joyful! It's a feeling of wanting to crawl underneath the covers and leave a note on my pillow that says wake me up when life gets easier!:)

But that is life, right? It's full of one situation after another that pushes us into the arms of Jesus as we realize that "apart from Him we can do nothing". It's full of our failures and sin but overflowing in God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It's lived out moment by moment either "taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ" or drowning in a sea of worry, self pity, and frustration. It's lived by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone or it's lived in a state of utter delusion and pride.

We can't wait for "easier times" while we sinfully respond to the situation we are in because it's so hard. That's an ordinary response (and one I am often guilty of!)...that's excusing our sin instead of repenting of it and turning from it. We serve an extraordinary God Who calls us to live before men (including our husbands and children!) in an extraordinary way...giving thanks in the midst of trials, living hope-filled lives in the midst of what seems like hopeless situations and recognizing that even the mundane, ordinary things of life like cleaning, cooking and lesson planning are the stage on which our extraordinary God is seen as great!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What we have been up to...

Writing has seemed a bit foreign to me lately...and, I'll be honest, I miss it! The pace of life since we have been home from vacation is such that leaves me ready for another vacation!:) But it has been full of special blessings and new memories.

Last week, a girlfriend and I took our kids to our little Cloverdale theater to see "Despicable Me". It's the first time that Samuel and Caleb have ever been to the movies...so, you can see how long it's been since we have taken an adventure to the "big screen". At $4 a ticket, it was not too bad and it had a real "small town" feel. If you brought your own container for popcorn it was cheaper, they did a drawing for a free candy before the movie began (Grace won it!)and they got a lollipop at the end of the movie as they were leaving! It was a blast! As far as the movie went, while I am always hesitant to mention movies on my blog :)...we really did enjoy it! Don't take my word for it, though...check it out on Focus on the Family's "Plugged In" to make sure you'd feel comfortable with your kiddo's seeing it!


Last Friday (July 30) was my birthday and we went into Vancouver with friends for a delightful evening of dinner and exploration (that's the Olympic torch we are in front of). A couple gals who are interning at the church this summer watched the kids for us and it was SUCH a blessing!!! Of course, our kids LOVE being the center of attention!
In the midst of all this we finally have citizenship certificates for both Samuel and Caleb so we have made a couple of trips down to the Social Security Administration to get the boys social security numbers. It's the last and final step to making it all "official" and it's such a blessing to know that it is all done! But though all the paperwork may be complete, there is still a piece of our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers in Ethiopia...because there is still an Ethiopian mommy there who we love and pray for...a reminder that, while adoption is beautiful, it has come at great sacrifice. Just as our adoption into God's family came because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

We also completed our paperwork for permanent residency in Canada. There was so much paperwork that it felt like we were adopting again!:) It's a long process...hopefully by next year at this time I might have some good news to share in regards to our residency!:)


This past week we went blueberry picking with a friend from church. So that makes 3 berries this season!!! It amazing just how many blueberries are on one bush...but how long it took to fill up our ice cream buckets with those little "marbles". The kids were troopers...especially Grace...she was determined to fill one whole bucket herself and she worked diligently to accomplish that goal! And, just in case you thought it was no big deal to pop a few blueberries in your mouth before washing them...I had to throw in a picture of just how dirty our hands were simply from picking the berries. We didn't play in the dirt once...I promise!
And we spent the better part of Friday sailing! Well...I did little more than sit on the sailboat...but since the boat was moving...that means I was sailing, right?!!! Bryan was in our church golf tournament with a fellow elder and a couple other men and they took first place...which meant a trip out on English Bay (Vancouver) with a family in our church! I was so tickled to be able to join them and their wives and it was absolutely beautiful...and so quiet! The most peaceful quiet that I have had in a long time! It was a first for both of us...and we have walked away quite the fans of sailing!:) What a blessing it was for both of us! Thanks Art and Nancy, Bob and Helene and the Baergs for watching our clan for many hours!!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

You're already there....


My aunt shared a story with me about a time,after college, when she was biking through Europe with a buddy and, upon entering the next town they were biking to, realized that her buddy was nowhere to be found. She had been so fixed on the goal of getting to the town she had literally left her friend "in the dust". What he said when he finally caught up with her has stuck with her ever since...and now has found a permanent place in my ponderings...he told her "Sharon, you are already there." In other words, my aunt was so focused on getting to the next town that it was like she was already there...and missed out on the actual biking and enjoying the trip.

The reason why that story resonates in my own heart is because often that is exactly how I live. I am very goal oriented and that is where my eyes seem to be steadfastly fixed. Then, once that goal is completed, I am on to the next goal and then the next...all the while, "life" is happening all around me and I often miss it completely or don't stop to enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed.

Yes, goals are good...and they are even talked about in the Bible...but not the way I might define goals. See, in the Bible, the goal is GOD, Christ-likeness, making it my aim to please the Lord and passionately pursue Him. Often my goals do not start and stop with Christ...they are about MY agenda, MY plans....and so much gets lost as I seek to pursue MY goals. Martha was rebuked by Jesus for that very thing and that rebuke echoes down through the years and pages of Scripture right to my very own heart.

I want to be "careful how I walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time" (Eph. 5), I want to "enjoy myself in all my labors in which I toil under the sun during the few years of my life that God has given me" (Eccl.5) and I want to truly "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). I want to live the way Jim Elliot lived who said "Wherever you are, be all there!" Each moment is a gift from God and I don't want to miss out on enjoying Him and His good gifts each step of the way!