Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The move is officially upon us and, Lord willing, by this time tomorrow we will officially be residing in our new home!
I think moving is a bit like having a baby...labor can leave you feeling like you can't finish and you most certainly don't want to ever do it again :) but, once you have that little guy or gal in your arms...you start to forget just how hard the labor was and before you know it, you are having another baby!:)
Let's just say that I forgot how hard the "moving labor" was and I find myself in a tug of war with my own thoughts..."I NEVER want to move again", "Kristin, just do the next thing"(wise words from Elizabeth Elliot), and "for this I toil struggling with all HIS energy that He powerfully works in me" (Col. 1:29), "Is our stuff growing...I thought I couldn't possibly pack any more boxes!"...and on it goes!
And, in the midst of it all, we have been so blessed with church friends who have amazing servant's hearts and have helped from meals, to babysitting, to loading and unloading the truck, to a meal for the guys helping...and I could go on. It's actually very humbling. I don't like to be a "burden" to others...and yet, no one has made us feel like a burden...they have truly shown a Christ-like attitude of serving (not being served) and it's been a precious testimony to us!
"Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do things beautifully."
With all that said, as of tomorrow at noon we will be without phone or internet till next Wednesday. I have often thought about going on an "electronic fast"...guess this is a good time!:) I'll let you know when we are back up and running and, until then, we'd love your prayers! I tend to be very "goal-oriented" and it is going to be easy to fix my eyes on the "goal" (getting the new house in order) instead of the prize (Christ)...and I know from personal experience that my sin will come flying out all over the place if my heart and eyes are not in the right place!:) Praise the Lord, I have a wonderful, godly husband who is very much the opposite of me and is not afraid to "tell me how it is"!:)
"Apart from Me, you can do nothing!" John 15:5
Monday, March 28, 2011
I'll be honest, I have packing on the brain more than blogging!:) But I didn't want to miss a chance to put up some pictures of a fun trip we took when we were at my parents house last week. As always, we had a wonderful time with my folks and made sure to leave behind reminders that we came...a couple of dents on their wood floor (Caleb dropped a 10 pound weight), a tear in their guest comforter (Faith got her foot stuck and ripped a hole and I "joined in" on the other side and added my own tear), and I am sure plenty of little other little marks and nicks...thanks mom and dad for allowing the "Pichura Hurricane" to come through and hunker down and lovingly forgiving the aftermath! We all missed Bryan, though, and he was our favorite part of coming back home!
Our fun trip was to the OMSI Science Museum in Portland. We tagged along with the "Upward Bound" (senior saints) ministry at my parent's church and had the fun of joining them for dinner at a German restaurant where we were serenaded by a dear older gentleman and his accordian!:)
The museum was pretty amazing and it was extra special taking in a show about Alaska in the IMAX Theater...a first for all of us! We all had our favorite spots...I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story!
Micah learned a bit more about ears...and just why the hole in his right eardrum can cause such a big problem if it's not repaired!Grace's favorite spot was what we called the "baby room". I have to admit, it was my favorite, too! We saw just about every stage of the life of a baby in the womb and my mind was full of Psalm 139..."I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!"Samuel had fun playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars" using an organ-like contraption.
Faith learned a little bit more about static electricity!
Titus loved the submarine that was outside...next time, we'll have to get him a ticket to go inside!
We made a "pit stop" on our way home to see Uncle Andrew and "swarm" him!:) Caleb found a hat of his and I thought he made one cute Ethiopian Indiana Jones!:)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I (and the kids) have been at my parents all week (that is why it's been a bit quiet on the blog) but I wanted to share a few quotes from Sunday that tied in with my post from Monday...with not only the trials and troubles that we face as believers but all the suffering that is taking place around the world. They are all taken from a message John Piper gave in 2005:
"The joy we embrace in Jesus Christ is always - always in this world - interwoven with sorrow." ("(we are) sorrowful, yet always rejoicing 2 Cor. 6:10)
"Satan is God's most powerful enemy and does much evil in the world, but he must first get God's permission."
"Natural evil (diseases and calamities) is a signpost pointing to the horrors of moral evil."
"The natural world is shot through with horrors to wake us from the dream world of thinking sin is no big deal. It is a horrifically big deal."
"The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is so that followers of Christ can experience and display that no pleasure and no treasure compares to knowing Christ. That is, the loss of every good thing in this world is meant to reveal that Christ Himself more than compensates for all losses."
"The losses of life are meant to wean us off the poisonous pleasures of the world and to lure us to Christ our everlasting joy."
"Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from God for the living to repent." (John Piper, WORLD magazine)
Monday, March 21, 2011
"...but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." Psalm 34:10b
It's a small partial sentence out of an absolutely beautiful Psalm...and yet the weight of those ten words is staggering. The believer who seeks the Lord lacks no good thing. NO GOOD THING. Say it over in your mind a couple of times. Let the truth of that sink in.
How many things would we call bad, painful, terrible, unfortunate, unfair, discouraging, frustrating, worrisome, ailing...and God says that, for the believer they are all part of what is keeping us from lacking no good thing. Or, in other words, they are GOOD for us.
Those things that we might label as anything BUT good, God is using to:
-produce steadfastness so that we might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4)
-test our faith that it may result in praise, glory, and honor to Christ (I Peter 1:6-7)
-make us imitators of Christ, who also suffered (1 Peter 4:12-19)
-produces endurance, character, and hope which gives us a greater confidence and trust in the love of God (Romans 5:3-5)
-remind us that this life is temporary...eternity is forever and the glory to be revealed will blow our minds away!!! (Romans 8:18)
-comfort us (2 Cor. 1:5)
-shine His power through us and be our strength(2 Cor. 12:9-10)
Those are just a few...but, truth is, the ways are limitless because God knows no bounds!
Rest in His sovereignty and in the sweet joy and peace that comes from knowing that, whatever circumstance you find yourself in right now, as much as you may not see the "good" in it...you can rest in the fact that it is good for you!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
A dear elder's wife in our church comes each Thursday afternoon to read to the kids and spend time with them. It has been such a special blessing to me and my kids just love their time with "Grandma D".
They have been reading the "Scout" book series by Piet Prins and my kids just love them. Today, the adventures in the book lead them to building forts in the family room! Donna was a great "sport" and helped them build their forts and decorate them!
I figured it was a good idea to be a good sport too and let them sleep in them tonight!:) They were so excited and I had to catch a couple of pictures to capture the event!
It's been a while since I took the time to share what's been going on in our crazy household!:) More than anything, our biggest prayer is that, no matter how crazy life may get, our hearts are at rest abiding in Christ! So, when I saw the sign "Abide in Him" I just had to get it! (if you visit Dayspring you can get one too! Not cheap...but well worth it, especially if you can find a promotional code offer!)
Bryan spent a good part of last week at the Shepherd's Conference...he had a great time away with 2 other pastors on staff and got a taste of summer as well! They had summer-like temperatures in Southern California and saw the sun in those few days more than I think we have seen it all winter!:) We are so glad to have him back...nothing seems quite the same (or as fun) without our very loved favorite man!
The kids have been doing a great job with their school work! This year has "run" so much more smoothly than past years...thanks to SOS and the kids ability to read! Speaking of reading, Titus and Caleb have been enjoying reading the well-loved Dick and Jane books. Both boys are doing great!
Micah was on a rampage to get ahead on his work the last few days and did 26 lessons/quizes in two days! When that boy gets something in his head, it's amazing how determined he can be! Another thing "in his head" right now is the start of the baseball season. He is officially a GIANT this year and is looking forward to another year of play!
Grace has had an amazing month of school and we decided that it was a good time to "make the jump" into grade 4 work and get her "all caught up". It sounds like an easy decision...but there is still a bit of hesitance. We don't want to discourage her by making her "school load" heavier when she was just starting to enjoy the "ease" of it. So, would you join us in prayer that God would give us wisdom and know when to push and when to back off?! She is becoming quite the young lady...really growing up all of a sudden!
Samuel is one smart kid! He continues to excel at piano and masters his school lessons with relative ease considering we have not even hit the two year anniversary of his adoption! He continues to love hockey and is moving around the ice like a pro. He (and Micah) has the opportunity to play a hockey game every Saturday for 3 months starting in April and he is so excited!
You'll usually find Faith either reading or working on some arts and craft project. I recently pulled out my "Creative Memories" bin and let them make "encouragement cards" for others and she has had a lot of fun with that. A couple of weeks ago, she took some fabric and turned it into a couch and rug...SO CUTE!
Titus has been walking around as a sheriff the last few days! His imagination is such a delight to watch and that smile of his...lets just say I think he gets away with more than he should! :) In math, he has been working on subtraction and he is a whiz! Makes my "grading" job so easy!
Caleb officially has his first fever since becoming a Pichura! It felt weird giving him Tylenol! Poor guy...he is a bit miserable...and I am a bit dumbfounded that after almost a month of "sick" going through our house, it's made itself at home again! I had plans to head down to my parents (with the kids) on Saturday and spend the week with them. I am praying that the fever leaves quickly and doesn't invade any more of my kiddos...but I also know that "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it's the Lord purposes that prevail!"
Speaking of plans...we are in the midst of planning and packing for a move...not to another country, just about 5 minutes down the street!:) We can't thank the Lord enough for the blessing and opportunity He has given us to rent a beautiful home on a quiet street which "happens" to be right across the street from a dear family in their church!!!!! Someone asked the kids if they were going to have a nice backyard in our new house and one of them responded with, "We are going to have a STREET!" :) With all the rain we get here, we have learned this past year the value of living on a quiet street as opposed to a yard (because, currently, we do not live on a quiet street). The yard gets muddy and messy really quick but sidewalks and streets can be put to good use (bikes, scooters, and hockey) even with the rain! I'll be honest, the "moving" part already seems a bit a wearisome...but our hearts are so full of thanksgiving for God's wonderful provision!
"You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I received the following from a friend...and I really appreciated both what it shared and having a clearer picture of what to pray for....
It was written by the Director of the Altar International House of Prayer in Tokyo They have lived in Japan for the past 10 years.
"While this disaster is horrid and awful and every other terrible thing, it is actually a blessing that it happened where it did. The Sendai area has long been known among the missionary community to be a kind of hub for missions work. Of all of the areas in Japan that could have been affected by this degree of disaster, these regions are equipped to address the emotional and spiritual needs of the people. To my knowledge, at the time of this writing, there are actually a number of long time missionaries, Japanese pastors, etc... that are in evacuation centers. In a very optimistic perspective, they've got a very open and captive audience. If there was ever an opportunity for awakening and the fires of revival to fall en mass in Japan , it would be now.
Please PRAY specifically for the workers in the power plants, that they may receive heavenly wisdom, insight and angelic assistance on how to manage and diffuse the crisis situations at the Nuclear Power Plants. We NEED some heavenly intervention in this area
We need prayers for the following:
1. for believers all over Japan and especially in Northern Japan to have OPPORTUNITIES to put the gospel to action. this is the perfect time for the church of Japan to arise and demonstrate the works of Christ
2. for safety & protection from the effects of radiation exposure in every way, shape and form from effects on people themselves, to the land, to the sea and everything in between
3. for abundance of supplies & resources
Christianity is a very en vogue thing in Japan right now. There are books and books selling like hot cakes from the shelves in bookstores because of this interest people have in studying about Christianity. Most who read these books do not read them because they are Christian. They read them because they want to KNOW about Christianity as a religious entity. Please, I urge you, pray that the WORD run SWIFTLY through this nation and pierce the hearts of a people.
I have lived in this country for more than a decade and I tell you with full conviction, if there is ANY nation on earth that could, in the blink of a moment turn to Christ, it would and will be Japan . I believe that that time is NOW."
And I received an email from another friend with a link to a precious prayer (on Desiring God) for the people of Japan. What a great template as our families lift up this situation and these people before the throne of God:
Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.
O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.
And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.
Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.
Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.
May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures' pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.
In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.
Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.
And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.
O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.
In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I read the following on "Girltalk" last week and I was so blessed I thought I'd share it again here
"Are we really being guided as we thought? How do we know we're on the right track? Is there any such destination as the place we think we're going to? Here faith simply has to suspend judgment on what God is doing. Faith does not know why, but it knows why it trusts God who knows why. We do not trust God because he guides us; we trust God and then we are guided, which means that we can trust God even when we do not seem to be guided. Faith may be in the dark about guidance, but it is never in the dark about God. What God is doing may be a mystery, but who God is is not." Os Guinness, God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt, p.176.
"Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside."
"Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." Is. 50:10
Thursday, March 10, 2011
"....there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink.....why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" Exodus 17
I'll be honest, when I read about the Israelites blaming Moses at different times throughout their journey I find myself mentally saying, "Hello, Israelites...did you forget it was God who led you out of Egypt, not Moses?! It was God who led you to a place with no water. Stop blaming Moses! If you have a problem take it up with God Almighty! And, don't forget, He always does what is best!"
But the Lord convicted my heart that I have, many times, been just as guilty as the Israelites. I momentarily forget that everything that comes to me has come through the hands of God first. I forget that "all things are His servants"(Psalm 119:91) and that even my afflictions are given to me because of God's faithfulness to me.
I look at the person(s) through which that affliction or trial has come and I grumble and complain. I take off my eternal glasses and see the situation only through eyes of flesh and sin. And, instead of resting, trusting, and yes, even rejoicing in what God is doing, I am pointing the finger at someone else and feeling justified in having a complaining spirit. I forget that that person or situation is in my life FOR MY GOOD, and for my sanctification so that God might receive the glory and honor that is due Him!
And those are the times I start preaching to myself the same thing that I tell my kids every time they start to complain. "When you complain, what you are really doing is saying to God, "I don't like what You are doing!" And, is that really what you want to say to God?"
It's the perspective we all need and it's the perspective we must fight for every time we find a complaint rising in our hearts!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I read the following post on a blog called "Kisses from Katie". She is a young woman who has given her life to serve the people of Uganda and reminds me a bit of an Amy Carmichael or a Gladys Aylward. I do not necessarily endorse all that she might suggest by way of reading or all that she might do, but this is one gal who blesses my heart in her pursuit of Christ and love for others!!! What she shared went along so beautifully with my thoughts this week, I just had to pass it on!
“I am so old. My whole body hurts. I have suffered much,” her eyes shine with joy as she speaks, “oh, I am suffering. But whatever He wants. Whatever God wants!” And she laughs and she laughs.
We sit in our circle in the dust of a slum and we share our hearts and our prayers. Jja Ja Maria, who looks to be a hundred years old and reaches no higher than my shoulders, is the last to share.
Her life, it has been hard. She is in Jinja because she had to flee from the war in the North that tore apart her life and her family. Her son was shot last week by a soldier on the border of Uganda and Sudan and frail, little Jja Ja had made the 13 hour bus ride in the stifling heat and watched as they had lowered her last living child into the ground. The journey had taken almost a week and when she came back she found her grandchildren sick and even though her whole body ached from travel she still took them to the clinic and continued bending over her work so that she could make enough money to put food on the table. Now she is back and we are happy to embrace her and ask about her journey and ask how we can pray for her.
“What ever He wants," she chuckles.
I look at the joy that is spilling out of her wrinkled face and I repeat the words that she has spoken in my head and that doesn’t make sense. She is hurt and she is suffering and she is laughing about it and sparkling with beauty and radiating Joy.
That doesn’t make sense. Not to me. Not yet.
But she already knows what I am just learning. That even this, it is from Him. Even this, it is Holy ground. This thing that I label suffering, it is really Joy.
“Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” Amos 3:6
I live with these human eyes, and with these human eyes of mine I label. I label one thing as good and one thing as bad. I label moments as blessing or burden. And I forget that all this labeling, it is not my right, not my place, not mine to do. To declare what is a gift in my life and what is a curse is to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, to sit in the garden full of abundance and beauty and choose the forbidden. The knowledge of good and evil, that was never intended for me. Could I, like Jja Ja Maria just quit my labeling and say, "Whatever God wants. Whatever HE wants!"
Because God IS. “I AM.” He tells Moses and still today He IS. And if every good and perfect gift is from above, and a Good and Beautiful God can create only good and beauty then these moments that I choose to label as loss and suffering, they are really good and beautiful, perfect gifts?
“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and I who give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal.” Deuteronomy 32:29
Suffering, pain, loss, shame – all these things I have blamed on a broken world, Satan even. But can’t a broken world and even Satan only give what God allows? Suffering, pain loss and shame are only these things because I label them as such. Because I, a sinner, choose to eat from the tree, choose to turn away from nail-scarred hands and ignore the grace and miss the gift. He is beautiful and everything He creates is beautiful and if I choose to label it suffering I am choosing to miss the beauty that is freely offered me.
On Friday I got a call from Jane’s birth mom that she had gotten her leg stuck in the chain of a bicycle. Five hours later I walked into a hospital room where she lay sedated, her heel bleeding and her tendon exposed, but untouched. The nurse saw my appalled, grief twisted face and shook her head. “God is good,” she whispered. “God's grace...She could have lost that foot.”
“God’s grace,” I thought, and I wondered what if she had? What if the tendon had been ripped clean through and she never were to walk again? What of when she was ripped from my life and left with a woman who doesn’t even care to supervise her and so she lays here hurt and bleeding and so far, far away from me?
What if God’s grace is not when He saves us, but that He saved us.
“Surely, just as I have intended, so it has happened and just as I have planned so it will stand.” Isaiah 14:24
Just as He intended. Even this, planned by God.
And if this is what He intended (and it is), then that means that every moment – the moment when my daughter’s tiny fingers were pried from around my neck, the moment in that hospital room, the moments when I hold babies and watch as they breathe their last and their mothers crumple to the floor and the moment when a dear grandmother hears that her son has been shot, and the moments when the laundry piles over my head and the children bicker and hurts from their past make them do the unspeakable and I don’t even know how to parent – every moment is His grace, a gift. Could I look and say, "whatever He wants, this is my gift for today."
God, who is Good and who is Beauty, and who saved us, even me undeserving, He can only give grace.
And I have a choice. I can let those wounded hands pull me close and I can choose to see the grace in this moment or I can again label, choosing to ignore the gift.
I see it deep in Jja Ja’s eyes, she knows. Even this suffering, He did this. He did this, not because He doesn’t know the ache – He does. He did this, a gift to me.
For the good of me. For the good of her. For the good of us, those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. For the good of all this world and the glory that is His.
And I know in that moment, I can choose to label the ripped open heel and the ripped open family or I can choose to count it as a gift, God’s grace. And the beauty is not in the circumstance or the label but the fact that in His graciousness He is here with me anyway, regardless of the circumstance or the way I choose to view it. The grace of being near to Him in trial, as long as I can chose to see it, is certainly the greatest grace of all.
This is what Jja Ja knows and this is what I am learning. God’s grace is not blessing, earthly reassure, our security or even the security of our children. God’s grace is not that all is “well” and right in my eyes. God’s grace is not when He saves us but that He saved us.
Here I am face to face with Jesus in the dirt and all I have to do is choose to see, accept the grace offered freely. His compassion and His mercy, this Grace, it never fails. Each moment each breath, is a gift simply and only because I get to spend it with Him.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Whatever He wants. And I am thankful.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Here is some of the sweet encouragement we received!:
"Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24
Just a reminder of what I read in my devotions recently…God promises to give us enough grace for today, for the moment, for the minute, not for tomorrow or for next week, but for NOW, His grace is sufficient! Also, I read Habakkuk yesterday and he begins by basically yelling…”Violence!”, "this is terrible!”, and then continuously calls God his “rock", his “holy one”, his faithful stability. He says all this stuff that isn’t going right and then says, “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord”, and ends the book with nothing solved but still says, “The sovereign Lord is my strength….He enables me to go on the heights.”
"For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." 2 Cor. 1:5
I look forward to seeing how God upholds you all in His Righteous, Right hand (Isaiah 41)
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3
Jesus, I thank you these events are no surprise to you, and that before the foundations of the world were laid you saw fit to orchestrate and bring about your plan. I thank you that you love us and the Pichura's so much, that you want our joy to be found in you and not in our circumstances. I pray that these events would drawn Bryan, Kristin, Micah, Samuel, Grace, Faith, Titus, Caleb, our family, and the Cloverdale family, into a deeper trust and faith in you. I thank you for the picture of the shepherd and the sheep you give us in scripture. That as dumb sheep, you don't call us to clean ourselves up and stop being sheep, but to come in all our frailty, anxiety and fear, and even unbelief and to just follow and trust the shepherds leading. I thank you that you are patient with us, and although you have your glory and our best in mind, you also meet us right where we are at. And so Jesus, I pray for the Pichura's, that you would meet them right where they are at, and open the doors for what you, and only you could do. Father we want to see you name proclaimed, we want to see your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And so I pray that you would allow a miracle to take place, and that through these events, a taste of your kingdom would be revealed in this "mess." For your glory, Jesus.
I know we all know Romans 8:28..."And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." I know this verse is true, but sometimes it is just hard to see the reality of it! Well, Seeds tags on verse 31 as well, and that was the part that really hit me! "What then shall we say to these things? If God if for us, who can be against us?!"
It is my prayer that God will sweetly remind you that He is ALWAYS for us, and never against us. And since He controls every little, and BIG circumstance, NO ONE can stand in His way...NOTHING is ever against you (well, people and things CAN indeed be against us, as they are now, but they are not against what God is doing!), even when it seems so much the opposite, God is always FOR you! I have been fervently praying for a miracle, and that God will continue to sustain you and reveal His goodness to you, even when He seems to never relent in throwing you one thing after another.
"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me."
Monday, March 7, 2011
Tuesday started out with gusty winds that shook the windows and littered the ground with a little bit of everything. The rain came down so hard and so visible, I thought it was snow from a distance. The gray of the sky was closer to black than white. It was a stormy day, plain and simple.
And it was exactly how our life felt. Long story short, a phone call that we placed to find out why we had not received our new visa ended with being told that Bryan could not work for the next 5 months while we waited for a verdict on our appeal. We needed to make an appeal because we had applied for the wrong visa (a mistake that didn't look like a mistake after reading Canadian law!). Because they were a couple of months behind on work visas, we didn't find out that we were denied (or that there was a problem) until AFTER our visitor record expired. Now we had further problems because a lapse in documented "residency" put our medical and tax benefits in major jeopardy even if we DID get a new visa. And that was all on top of the fact that we had just begun signing papers to rent a new house that very morning.
It was a stormy afternoon and evening on Tuesday. And the clouds stayed till Thursday evening during which time we contacted an immigration lawyer, spoke to border agents, and got as much counsel as we could on what we should do. We had prayers and encouragement coming at us full force and we were so thankful for those as we held tight to the Anchor of our souls!
Thursday night, we headed down to the border and, after waiting about 45 minutes, we walked out with the documentation we needed to ensure Bryan's work status as well as preserve our "residency status" in Canada for medical and tax purposes!!!!!!!!! God had made a way in the midst of the uncertainty and had provided for every single thing that was needed!!!! The clouds dissipated as the sun (or, rather, SON!) broke through!
It sounds so "cut and dry" when I type it all out...but those 48 hours involved a lot of preaching to ourselves and a lot of pressing into the Lord. We truly were unsure about the outcome. The Lord brought sweet encouragement to our hearts through our dear church family here as well as friends and family afar.
We had an opportunity to live out, before our kids, what we say we believe...that God is good all of the time no matter what He does...and that what He does is ALWAYS for our good. They were so excited about our move to a new house (it's a beautiful home that we feel so blessed to be able to rent) and we had an opportunity to help them see that God was just as good whether we got to move or if we continued to stay where we were. His plan is best, even when it is not what we would plan and even when it involves pain!
Tomorrow, I want to share some of the verses and encouragements that others shared with us. There was nothing sweeter than being reminded of God's precious promises and being given more of His Word to fight against our flesh, against grumbling and complaining, and to help us as we sought to take our thoughts captive and renew our minds! I thought what others shared might encourage your heart, too, if you are going through a trial...or, they may be beautiful words that you can use to share with someone else in their time of need!
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Thursday, March 3, 2011
"There can be many explanations for our diminished zeal for God. Sometimes the most obvious reason is that we're feasting regularly at the world's table of delights....God never intends His gifts to replace Him as the object of our desire and delight."
The above quote came from the book "Worldliness" and made me think about the post I wrote on Monday. As I examine my life and how I am or am not fulfilling the role of "watchmen", this quote is a good one to remember. When I am feeling low on energy and effort, it may not always be that I am "doing too much" it may be more about where I am getting my nourishment from. Is the primary consumption of my soul "food" the Word of God or I have I been "snacking" on the world leaving me with a weak appetite and little energy to pursue God as the object of all my desire and delight.
So, if I want to be a woman who honors the Lord in the call He has given me, it's not just about looking at what I do...it's also about looking at what I "eat".
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I know this post was written to pastors...but, stick with me...it's well worth the read and I'll try to tie it all together at the end!:)
To Be Forgotten (by Darryl)
If you’re a pastor, you may struggle with the temptation to rise from obscurity and to become a great pastor. Ecclesiastes 4 speaks of such a man. He comes from nowhere, but because of wisdom he rose to power as a king. It sounds good: “There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led.”
I can see the book and conference right now. What’s not to like? Young man, wise, obviously skilled, making a big impact.
Ecclesiastes sounds a caution: “Those who come later will not rejoice in him,” he says. They’ll have moved on to someone new and better. Yesterday’s leaders are so yesterday. “Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.”
No matter how many people we pastor, our leadership and influence is temporary. We will be forgotten. Even those who rise from obscurity to become leading leaders, so to speak, will be passed over more quickly than we think.
As I wrestled with this text this week I thought of a conference blurb I read. Most blurbs are easily forgotten, but this one stuck. It announced the conference lineup, including this description of one of the speakers (Daniel Montgomery):
Daniel, the senior pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, says his vision statement is, ”Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.”
I love that. That may be the best vision statement for a pastor I’ve read. Don’t aspire to rise from obscurity; aspire to attain obscurity, but preach the gospel in the meantime. That’s the type of pastor we need.
I couldn't help but be blown away with the humility of this post...of the statement made by Pastor Daniel."Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten." In my flesh, I want anything BUT to be forgotten when I die. I have prayed before that God would use my life to minister to my family and others in such a way that it leaves a lasting legacy. I never saw that as being a "bad thing". And, I don't believe it is. It's like so many other things in life...it's the motive of my heart. Do I want to leave a lasting legacy so that I can be remembered as a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend....so that I can be placed on a pedestal? Or is my desire to leave a lasting legacy that exalts Christ and shows His surpassing greatness, grace, power, and mercy to me, a very great sinner...a jar of clay made from dust!
Wherever our sphere of life is, whatever season we find ourselves in, whatever our days may hold...may we all preach the gospel, embrace the life God has called us to as well as the death that we will inevitably face, and pray that what is remembered about us pales in comparison to the greatness of the God we spent our life living for!
"He must increase but I must decrease." John 3:30