Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This year, I want to be more FAT!

I'll never forget a Bible study that Bryan taught to teens we were ministering to in Yakima several years ago. He told them all that they needed to be FAT.

Faithful. Available. and Teachable

Faithful: Over a decade ago, when I was in the midst of some seriously discouraging parenting times, my mom shared a precious truth that has stuck with me ever since. "God does not call you to produce fruit in your child, He calls you to be faithful. The fruit is up to Him." Faithfulness does not mean you will have everything go your way. Faithfulness means you can rest in God's plan and watch HIS will unfold in HIS timing!

How many times have I been found faithless instead of faithful, though? More than I could ever dare count. Yet, my precious Redeemer has a track record so unlike mine. Faithful....every single time. And, because of His death and resurrection, His record of perfect faithfulness has been credited to MY account. It's unfathomable!

The depth of the riches He gives is unsearchable and His kindness and grace lead me to repentance and a heart that swells with a desire to be faithful. One baby step at a time....in all the mundane moments of life and in the bigger decisions, too. In all my writing, facebooking, speaking, actions, and the roles God has called me to as a wife, mother, family member, sister in Christ, neighbor, patient, and friend. Faithful to love Christ above all things and have that love spill over and affect every relationship in my life. Faithful to cling to God's Word and find my daily sustenance in His life-giving words. Faithful to speak words that build up and give grace to those who hear. Faithful in repenting of sin and asking forgiveness. Faithful to take my thoughts captive to obey Christ.

Faithful to clean up the kitchen with joy and not grumbling. Faithful to have the teaching of kindness on my tongue with my kids when they are all arguing and being rude and I just want to send them all to their rooms and tell them they are being brats. Faithful to give thanks and rejoice in God's mercies that are new every morning...especially when I find new sticky fingerprints all over the fridge handles, new crumbs and dried on "who knows what" on the countertops, and strewn articles of clothing and shoes in all the wrong places. Faithful to be a genuine helper to my husband and not a dripping faucet!

Martin Luther once said: "What you do in your house in worth as much as if you did it up in Heaven for our Lord God."

Available: My life is not my own. I have been bought with a price. All that I do should be for the honor and glory of the One who now calls me His own. There is nothing I have that I did not receive from His hands...and that includes my time.

I don't want to live life thinking I deserve "me time". I don't want to live life as a slave to the schedule that I made up at the beginning of the week. I want to live with an open heart, open hands, an open door, and open ears. I want to be quick to lay down what I want to do for the joy of obeying God and being ready and available to meet the needs of others. I want my comfort to never be the main thing. God used Matt Chandler to convict my heart with these words: "Comfort is the god of our generation, so suffering is seen as a problem to be solved, and not a providence from God."

Teachable:  In order to be teachable I have to be humble. There is no room for something that I often make plenty of room for: my pride. I don't have it all figured out...not even close. And, even in the things that God has grown me in and taught me a lot about, I still sin. I truly know what Paul was saying in Romans 7! The very things I don't want to do, I still do...and the things I want to do I don't do.

Sanctification is a lifelong process and that means there will never be a day that I don't need to have a spirit of teachability. If I can learn this truth...not just with my head...but truly believe it in my heart, I will be quicker to accept rebuke, more speedy in asking for forgiveness,  and find myself running to seek the face of God through His Word and in prayer. I'll also be more diligent to pursue the wisdom that God has given others...through asking advice, reading solid books and blogs, and listening to sounds words from pastors and teachers.

By God's grace and through the Holy Spirit's power alone, I truly want to be FAT this year. How about you?






Thursday, September 26, 2013

Knowing God

It made me chuckle just a bit to think that the post I am about to write now comes right on the heels of my high recommendation of a parenting book.

Let me explain.

I am so thankful for good, sound Christian living books. So very thankful. God has used them to grow me in my parenting, my role as a wife and pastor's wife, in spiritual disciplines, in homemaking...and I could go on. Their value has been immeasurable and the list of those I still want to read is sky high.

But.

My heart has been stirred and a wee bit convicted that I spend much of my reading time trying to learn and know what God wants me to be and not nearly enough time seeking to "simply" know God!

"But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:24

The more I read, study, and meditate on GOD means the more I will KNOW Him. And the more I know Him, the more I will become who He wants me to be in all the other areas of my life.

"We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit." 
2 Corinthians 3:18 


“Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord.” 

“The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God's presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles at God's word, who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it.”
                                                                                                                                                  -  J.I Packer

So, one of my aims this year is to read fewer books about "how to be_____", and more books on the attributes, character, and words of God.

Above all, though, may we all be students of THE Word, the Bible, as we seek to know God!



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Glimpses of Grace

I've had some help in the "glimpsing grace" department through a fantastic book that I read over the summer. You'll never guess the title?!

"Glimpses of Grace" by Gloria Furman is chock full of encouraging and insightful tid-bits that got my soul savoring and celebrating God's amazing grace. If you have not picked up her book yet (it's only been out since May), here are some quotes that just might get you asking for a copy for Christmas!

"If God doesn't rule your mundane, than He doesn't rule you. Because that's where you live." (a "re-quote" from Paul Tripp


"Peace and quiet are not ultimate. Activity and responsibility are not ultimate. Because Christ is ultimate, the loss of any of these things - solitude or circus- makes no difference in the sufficiency of Christ or in His ability to give you everything you need for life and Godliness." (Wow! I want to paint that one on my walls!!!)

"To live in the reality of the gospel each day.....means that you see things as an opportunity to talk with God, talk about God, and receive wisdom from the Bible throughout your day." (I love this quote because, in the recent years, we keep hearing so much about "gospel-living" but it is often not defined. I love the practical way she put exactly what that looks like.)

"A cheerful attitude and a sense of hopefulness are wonderful by-products of rejoicing in God while in the midst of our homes. But that's just what they are...by-products. The source of our faith, hope, love, joy, and gospel-grounded optimism is God Himself and not our stuff or our circumstances." 

"If there is discontent bound up in your heart, then there is no room in your house where you can go and feel peace. You will, as I have, attempt to create the perfect environment that is rid of distraction so you can focus. At the end of the day you will find out that the chaos isn't your environment - its in your heart." (How often I forget the sin that is bound up in my OWN heart!)

"We need faith to trust that God doesn't merely "know what's best for us," but that He IS what's best for us no matter what our circumstances are."

Hmmm...after reading those quotes, will you even make it to Christmas to read this book?!:) 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When it feels like grace has gone on a vacation...

Grace.

As born again believers, it's a word we hear so often that I fear it doesn't impact our souls as it ought to. Pastor John MacArthur has an article in which he shares some truths about grace...what it is, and what it isn't. It's a great starting point...keep reading!:

"Many professing Christians today utterly ignore the biblical truth that grace "instruct[s] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12). Instead, they live as if grace were a supernatural "Get Out of Jail FREE" ticket-a no-strings-attached, open-ended package of amnesty, beneficence, indulgence, forbearance, charity, leniency, immunity, approval, tolerance, and self-awarded privilege divorced from any moral demands.
But here's what I propose — let's start by laying down a biblical definition of grace with this simple question: What is grace?
Grace is a terribly misunderstood word. Defining it succinctly is notoriously difficult. Some of the most detailed theology textbooks do not offer any concise definition of the term. Someone has proposed an acronym: GRACE is God's Riches AChrist's Expense. That's not a bad way to characterize grace, but it is not a sufficient theological definition.
One of the best-known definitions of grace is only three words: God's unmerited favor. A. W. Tozer expanded on that: "Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving." Berkhof is more to the point: grace is "the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit."
Grace is not merely unmerited favor; it is favor bestowed on sinners who deserve wrath. Showing kindness to a stranger is "unmerited favor"; doing good to one's enemies is more the spirit of grace (Luke 6:27-36).
Grace is not a dormant or abstract quality, but a dynamic, active, working principle: "The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation…and instructing us" (Titus 2:11-12). It is not some kind of ethereal blessing that lies idle until we appropriate it. Grace is God's sovereign initiative to sinners (Ephesians 1:5-6).
Grace is not a one-time event in the Christian experience. We stand in grace (Romans 5:2). The entire Christian life is driven and empowered by grace: "It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods" (Hebrews 13:9). Peter said we should "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
Thus we could properly define grace as the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners."

Did you read all that? I mean...really read it? Go back, read it again! :) God's grace wasn't just appropriated when we were saved...we live by that grace....we are strengthened by grace. 
So, why do I sometimes feel that my life is not full of grace, as though grace has gone on a vacation and left me behind? Why do I often feel dry? Why are there times when I feel like there should be more but nothing seems within reach? 
Because I forget. Plain and simple.  I am not steeping myself in the truths of God's Word so I am unable to preach God's Word to my own heart and let it permeate my thoughts, actions, and focus (think tea here ladies! ) When this happens, my gaze never goes UP, it looks all AROUND me. And when I look all around me I start seeing mess after mess...inside my own heart and in the lives of those around me. At this point, because my eyes are not fixed on Jesus, the ONLY Author and Perfecter of ANYONE'S faith, I start trying to control situations and people. Of course, if you have ever tried that, you have learned (and, unfortunately, I seem to be a very SLOW learner...so I keep having to learn it over again!) that this sort of control only leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness breeds discontentment and, once we are there, we can't find grace anywhere.
Feeling discouraged? DON'T! As the saying goes, "the beauty for ashes" is that the reason I can't find grace anywhere is because of my sin, my warped perspective, and my ungrateful heart. God's grace is still amazing and unchanging. His mercies are still new every morning...and every minute thereafter. I don't have to live one more moment in hopelessness, because the God of hope is my Saviour and Lord! I can repent of my sin, find forgiveness at the foot of the cross, and run to Him and sit on the "lap" of His Word! 
God's marvelous grace can be ours...and ours in abundance...not tomorrow, not next Monday, not at the beginning of the new year...but RIGHT NOW. Let's take off those glasses that make everything look like one big mess and put on our eternal glasses that help us see everything through the sovereignty of the Lord.  Let's open God's Word and start "steeping" not just reading!
If we do that, we'll see "Glimpses of Grace" everywhere!





Monday, September 9, 2013

What you don't hear often....

....is about all the bad days people have. The sinful, ick ones that you wish you could redo, but simply have to rest in what Christ has already done on your behalf (praise the Lord)....and then go back to everyone in your family, including the dog, and say sorry!

I had one of those "days" this morning. It started with doors slamming and too much noise way too early in the morning, followed by a peed in bed. Add that to kids who forgot to do things they needed to do yesterday...so what needed to be done today was taking far longer and throwing everyone's routine into a tizzy. Did I mention that I stayed in bed a few minutes too long, and Al Mohler's "The Briefing" (which really is great and so helpful!) ate up more time of Bryan's and my morning "date" than I would have liked which led to almost no time to talk or pray together. (Insert irked attitude right about here) So, off I rushed to pull an egg bake out of the oven that had been in the oven a few minutes too long, only to have children not ready to eat on time because of all the "need to dos" that didn't get done.

Everyone is sitting at the table somber, I'm grouchy, and at this point, family devotions have officially been pushed back to dinner time as we have run out of time. None of us are all too happy with each other and the conversations that have flown around have most certainly not been "pleasing in His sight".

Yes, there were hugs and "I love you's" as they all headed off to school, but it might be safe to say that we were not "rejoicing in the day the Lord has made". The "one big happy family" balloon had popped before it had even been blown up all the way!

I don't share all this with an attitude of indifference, nor do I find it something to laugh about and forget. (Although, some laughter might have done a world of good this morning!) I don't share this to tear down my precious family or make light of our disobedience. I share it simply to say...

God is good and we are not. God is perfect and we are sinful. God is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness" and we are in desperate need of that grace and mercy every single day. God is faithful even when we are faithless. God's power is magnified through our weakness.

THEREFORE, I will boast...not in my own greatness as a wife and mom (that lasted a whole 2 seconds this morning!)...but I will boast in Christ, and Him crucified. We can be forgiven because Christ bore our sin on His perfect body. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

Days like today remind me that there is not one moment of any day in which I do not need to run to Jesus and hide myself in Him. For there I find hope, joy, peace, patience, forgiveness, and strength for all that He has planned for me!





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

To-Do Lists

This blog is not just a way for me to share with others what God is teaching me or what is going on in the life of the Pichuras. It is also a way for me to document the journey God is taking us on, print it off in a book form, and have it to remind my family and me of the faithfulness of God. To remind us that He is at work, changing us and molding us into His likeness...even if it feels like baby steps much of the time!

Having said that, there are times when I come across other articles or blog posts that are fantastic. I don't want to just read them and then lose them in cyberspace. I want to be able to read them again...and I want my kids to read them, too, one day.

Here is one such post:

In my ideal world, I would have my to-do list completed at the end of each day. My plans would go smoothly, with no interruptions or unexpected events. And my memory would be so good, I wouldn’t need to put post-it notes everywhere as a backup in case I forget to read my to-do list.
I laugh even as I write that because I know it’s not reality. I don’t remember the last time I finished all my tasks in one day. And since I recently attempted to put back the milk on the shelf where the cereal goes, rather than in the refrigerator, I’m certain my memory is far from improving.
Keeping lists and making plans is something we all do. For some of us, interruptions to those plans are hard to take. It makes us uncomfortable when our day’s plans get interrupted or when we can’t accomplish all we set out to do. Sometimes, those lists and plans become idols in our heart, in first place before God.
In my own life, interruptions to my plans often make me uneasy and stress-filled. A couple of weeks ago, I learned from my husband that he wanted to take us with him on a business trip. I had two days notice to prepare to leave. This trip was an interruption to my plans to officially start our new homeschool year that week. So the school plans were put on hold, doctor’s appointments were cancelled, bills paid, plans with friends changed and suitcases packed.
Yet, rather than the interruption putting me into panic, I found myself switch gears and go with the flow. Over recent years, God has been using unexpected changes to my plans, like a trip out of town, to refine me. He has used all the little interruptions to my comfortable schedule and routine to burn away my sin and help me grow deeper in faith. He knows that my plans often become so important to me that I respond with worry, stress, frustration and panic when they don’t go the way I expect. He also knows that I need to learn to hold my to-do lists and plans loosely, trusting him for the outcome of my days. So each time unexpected events come up, like my husband’s business trip, my fingers are pried back a little more on my to-do lists.
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
We know what Scripture says about our plans and God directing our steps, yet it’s not always the posture of our heart. In reality, many of us prefer to be in control of all the events in our life. We want to know what’s going to happen next and be fully prepared ahead of time. How often do we make plans without thinking, “If God wills”? How often do we become upset when our plans fail? How often are we anxious or irritable in the face of such interruptions to our life? How often do we blame others when our plans don’t work out?
This desire for control makes us live as though we are lord over our lives. Like our first parents, we think we know better than God what we need. Whether it’s our daily schedule or even our life plan, we’ve invested time and energy in putting it together. We’ve researched all the possibilities on-line. We’ve pinned all our plans for everyone to see (and hopefully re-pin, of course). We know what we want and we intend to follow all the steps to get it.
Yet, the truth is, our all-knowing and all-sovereign Creator-God knows what we need better than we do. He knows the plans he has for us. He knows what needs to change in us for us to become more like Christ. He knows just what needs to be chipped away, refined, and sloughed off for us to grow in faith.
While we would prefer to drive where we want to go and have the GPS adjust to our change in direction, God lays out our path and directs us where to go. When changes in our well-laid plans come our way, they are opportunities for us to trust and rely on him. Instead of worrying about our plans, we can instead turn our eyes away from our lists and say, “What is it you want for me, Lord?” The interruptions to life become just another detour in the road that God has laid out for us. Detours and road blocks give us an opportunity to obey him and follow his lead.
The Bible doesn’t say to never make plans. We can make plans but we must know that God will direct us. We can’t hold tightly to the plans we make. Our heart’s posture needs to bow to God’s plan for us and not our own. Not only that, but we are called to seek God’s will when we make our plans. We need to evaluate our heart to see if it is in line with what Scripture tells us pleases God. And then we need to place our trust in his sovereign care and know that whatever arises in our day is for our good and his glory.
As for me, I still write to-do lists, but they are more like “if God wills lists.” That trip that came upon me all of a sudden was a good reminder for me to not rest in my will but in God’s. Because the truth is, his plans are always far superior to mine: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
How about you? How do you respond when your plans are interrupted? Do you hold tightly to your to-do lists?
http://toshowthemjesus.com/2013/08/27/to-do-lists-plans-and-gods-will/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=0

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Protests into Praise

 "The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, "Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don't know how to speak since I am [only] a youth." Then the Lord said to me: Do not say: I am [only] a youth, for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you."  Jeremiah 1:4-8


I love God's Word. It's living and active. It's convicting and encouraging. It was written thousands of years ago and but could have been written yesterday...for It's truth endures forever!

Today, three words of Jeremiah hit home to my heart. 

"But I protested..."

Here was God telling him magnificent and wonderful truths. Jeremiah was chosen to be God's child before the foundation of the world. Just like Ephesians 2 says....all the works he was called to do were prepared in advance for him. And what a ministry he was called to! Wow! Can you imagine God talking to you and telling you exactly what you were going to do?! How amazing is that!!!

Yet, the response is anything but excitement. Instead, he utters those three small words...."but I protested". Jeremiah had what he believed was good reason for why he could not live out the life that God was calling him to. He must have thought his argument was a fair one to have uttered it before God Almighty. I read those words and wondered, "What was he thinking?!!!"

And then God pushed me off my pedestal of pride and opened my eyes to see that I utter those three little words almost every day and, often, multiple times a day! 

God has given me the gift of Himself, chosen me before the foundation of the world, appointed me to spread the surpassing value of knowing Him as I live out my life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Each and every day was planned out for me before one of them came to be. 

But I protested:

-I can't take the time to instruct my kids in the way they should go tonight. I'm so sick of the bickering! I'm tired, they are driving me nuts, and they don't seem to listen anyway. 

-My plan is better than what Bryan wants to do. I know that I am supposed to submit to him and respect him...but, seriously, this is a no brainer and it's not that big of a deal. 

-I know that all that God does is for my good and His glory, but I just can't see the purpose of this "situation" or the good that it will accomplish. It doesn't make sense to me and I can't find any reason to give thanks. 

....and there are a hundred other scenarios just like these ones. A hundred other ways that I protest what God is doing in my own life...often, without even realizing I am doing it. And, many times, justifying my protest with what seems to me to be a very good argument! 

So, I love what God does at the end of this passage. He doesn't walk away from Jeremiah and deem him a lost cause. He doesn't scream at him and call him stupid and absolutely frustrating. He simply, but strongly, repeats Himself. He tells Jeremiah that he WILL do all that God asks of him...and the reason he can do it is because the Lord is WITH Him. His weakness would beautifully highlight God's strength! Jeremiah is simply the vessel by which God would accomplish His purposes. 

"I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will."  Isaiah 46:10

God does the same with my protests. He leads me to His Word...His precious promises. He reminds me that it's not all about me, it's all about Him. He shows Himself powerful in the midst of my weakness. Then, He continues to give me glimpses of the treasure that He is so I'll humbly keep remembering that I am "Just the Clay". 

Jeremiah's ministry was one of proclaiming the Words of God and magnifying the greatness of His name. My prayer is nothing less....that my own protests would turn to praise!






Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A "Me Party"

I admit it....on my birthday this crazy, ridiculous, fleshly, ugly selfishness creeps up and grabs hold of me. I begin thinking the world should stop revolving around the sun...and revolve around me instead. I take "me-time" to a whole new level. Of course, I can't find this type of attitude anywhere in the Bible...but, for some reason and somehow, I have made an "exception clause" within the pages of Scripture called "my birthday".

To steal a line from a Muppet's movie....it really has become a "me party"!

With that in mind, and knowing the tendency of my own sinful heart, last night I asked the Lord to help me have a day filled up with His fame, His renown, and His glory. A day where my world...my life...revolved around His Son. A day of taking servanthood to a whole new level.

To steal a line from Casting Crowns...."Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done. Not because of what I've done, but because of who You are."

How gracious of God to answer that prayer by placing me in the midst of the book of Isaiah for my Bible reading and meditation today.  You see, there is only ONE who is not selfish to have the whole world bow down and worship Him. Only ONE who is not greedy or fleshly to make all of life about Himself. Only ONE who is not sinning by exalting Himself. The King of kings and the Lord of lords....Jesus Christ. Yet, look at what Isaiah 53 says about Him:
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
To appease the Father's wrath and make a way for me to be clothed in His righteousness...He humbled Himself and bore all the punishment I deserved. It's staggering. It's mind blowing. It's amazing grace!

So today, just as in days gone by and in all the days yet to come, my prayer is the same as that of John the Baptist....that Christ would increase and I would decrease. And on this, my 34th year of life, may my actions and my words be filled with "proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called (me) out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Precious Memories....How They Linger

We have had an amazingly wonderful, crazy month. It's been full of laughter, memory making, and family fun. What an incredible gift it is to walk heavenward with not only our church body...but our family. So thankful!





 



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Four years ago right about now....

....we walked in the door of our home, no longer a family of six but a family of eight.

No longer wondering what it was like to travel to a foreign country, greet children we had never met before, and bring them home with us...not for the weekend, or a month, but for always.

Four years ago we adopted...and, in a moment, our lives changed in little ways, big ways, and all the ways in between.

All because of Jesus and all for His glory!

Samuel Aaron Pichura and Caleb Moses Pichura.

Once they held a last name of Aziz, and now they are Pichuras. We can't imagine what life was like without them. It's hard to remember the days when we were just six. The number eight just feels right...and it should since it was a number planned out before time began.

Adopted.

Once I, too,  had a different name and a different father. My situation, like many, was desperate. I was a child of darkness and my father was Satan. Then, one day, it happened...

Adoption.

In the moment of my salvation, I received a new name, child of light, and the perfect Father, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. I can't imagine my life without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Jesus covering all my sin and guilt, and welcome I have into God's very presence through His Word and prayer. My new life in Christ feels right...and it should since it was planned out before time began.

Twenty-three years ago I was adopted....and, in that moment, my life began changing in little ways, big ways, and all the ways in between.

All because of Jesus, and all for His glory!

(and, if you want to read more about our homecoming, the precious help of so many who made it possible, and the adjustments that took place....just head back to July of 2009 on my blog. Plus, there is a hysterical video of Caleb "rapping". We had so much fun tonight eating brownies, sharing memories, and looking back at the blog and all the pictures from 4 years ago :))

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

To Finish Well

I have had a hard time explaining the craziness of our life this past year. The blog posts that have gone unwritten, the macaroni and cheese dinners that have graced our table a bit too often, the emails that have taken months to respond to, the thank you notes that never went out because I lost the reminder sticky note and didn't find it till two months after one of the kid's birthdays (!), the layer of dust on our furniture that has become like a family member, and the blank look on my face that really does beg the question, "Is anybody home?". 

After all, I don't want to seem like a whining, complaining baby who is not thankful for all the amazing, precious gifts that God has given to me (namely Himself). There is never a reason NOT to give thanks....but I have found those to be words that I have had to preach to myself often and, many times, through tears. Tired tears. Overwhelmed tears. Good tears. 

Because, it's been a tiring, overwhelming, good year. It's been exactly what God ordained before time began, and it's been a hard, wonderful road. I am so very thankful. I have learned a lot, sinned a lot, repented a lot, and rejoiced a lot in the faithfulness of my Redeemer. His gifts are good...always! 

A very precious friend of mine said it better than I could in a prayer on my behalf (thank you!):

Thank you for the opportunities of learning You have given her this year.  
Though Kristin was a “teacher” – she has been in Your classroom – learning and growing through You – THE TEACHER.  
May her efforts bear fruit for You.  In times of reflection, may she recall Your lessons of learning, Your faithfulness, 
Your grace, Your steadfast love in the school year that You have brought her through.  And then Lord, may her heart 
sing Your praises as she sees YOU there in all those moments.

(Amen!!!!)

So, I enter this final week of school with one prayer. To finish well. To finish in a way that magnifies the Lord. To finish with a thankful heart. To finish with a smile, not because of what I have done but because of the strength the Lord provides. To finish with the joy of knowing that whatever God calls us to do His grace WILL be sufficient to get us through it! 

AND

To finish with LAUGHTER....lots of laughter. If you need some help in this department...if you want to laugh...really belly laugh...you have to click on this link! I'm just glad that I am not the only "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever" :)


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

From my brother's blog to mine...had to share!


Adopted for Life


On December 28th, 2012, we had the immense joy and privilege of officially welcoming our daughter (Eliana Hope) into the Parker family! It was such an beautiful day, and we are so thankful for those who came out to fill the courtroom with their love and support. We have been humbled by God's grace these last 4 months, and we are rejoicing in the story that He continues to unfold in and through our lives!

I couldn’t help but be struck afresh that day by what God has done for us by adopting us into His family. I love the fact that Eliana had nothing to do with her adoption. Now she not only is a permenant part of the Parker family, but I particularly love how our decree of adoption words the transaction. It says that the state of Washington “is authorized to issue a new birth certificate, indicating that the child is the natural child of the petitioners(!)” So, not only does Eliana get to join the family, but legally, her birth certificate will list us as the birth parents. As if she was blood!

I don’t know of a more beautiful picture of what God has done for those who place their faith in Him. In the same way we wanted Eliana to be a apart of our family before she was even born, Eph 1:4 says that, "He (God) chose us before the foundations of the world" to be in Him. Then, in the same way we entered into the legal binding agreement to adopt Eliana, Jesus purchases us with his blood and adopts us into his family (Eph 1:5). Removing all of our past sin and history, and giving us His righteousness, a new name, a new identity, a new family!

There’s nothing that Eliana can do or say that will change how we love and feel about her, and that she's now a part of our family. In the same way, no matter what I feel like tomorrow morning when I wake up, I’ve been adopted by the King! I can know that God loves me, delights in me, and has my best, because He died for me to bring me into a right relationship with Him! (1 Jn 3:16) How awesome is that?!


There’s so many parallels that I continue to process, but one last one for now; In the same way when the judge asked us if we’ll take care of Eliana for the rest of our lives, God makes the same covenant with us. When I’m tempted to sin, and the enemy would love to tell me that I’m an orphan, an alien, and a stranger (Eph 2:10), I can cling to the promises of God. That I’m adopted for life, that he loves me, will never leave me or forsake me (Heb 13:5), and that He’s working ALL things out for my good, and His glory (Rom 8:28). He just lovingly and patiently continues to invite me to trust Him. Trust that He’s not only a good Dad, but a perfect Father. (Matt 6:31-34)


Michelle and I are deeply thankful and humbled by God’s grace and the story that He is writing. Even through 11 years of infertility, we can rejoice today not only because he gave us a baby, but because He’s chosen and adopted us for life! We are praying that Jesus will be made to look as good as He is through our lives and the little girl he has entrusted to us!

Adopted by the King,
David and Michelle

Rom 8:15-17 "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…"
If you want to learn more on theology of adoption, I would highly recommend reading "Adopted for Life" by Russel Moore.