Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Sweetness for the Soul!

Every now and then I read a book that I wish I could buy by the truckload and give to every woman in my life...and by every woman in my life....I mean every woman that I have ever met...even if it was just one time!

Betsy Childs Howard wrote "Seasons of Waiting: Walking by faith when dreams are delayed", and she wrote it beautifully! In all my years of ministry and in the hundreds (maybe thousands?!) of conversations I have had with other women over those years, there is a theme that has almost always emerged as we talk. All of us are waiting for something. All of us are praying for something to end or something to start. Be it big or small, there is a level of waiting that fills every heart. Sometimes waiting brings with it a level of excited expectation as we see the thing longed for approaching. But, many times, waiting can be painful. It can feel like a cloud that follows us around or a burden that never quite seems to leave our shoulders.

I have often cried out to the Lord in seasons of waiting, "Please, help me learn what I need to learn, Lord, so the wait can be over." Sounds like a Biblical prayer, right?

I was only a few pages deep into "Seasons of Waiting" when I was confronted in regards to that very prayer! Betsy says, "You may have picked up this book in the hope that it will help you learn your lesson (and thereby bring your waiting to an end). My hope is that it will help you learn to love waiting, to want to wait well, and to see that God has a beautiful kingdom purpose that he is bringing about through (not in spite of) your waiting."

I couldn't put the book down after that. I wanted to learn how to love waiting, to wait well, and to see God's story in the midst of my waiting so that I could give Him glory, even through the painful waits. As I read, I found myself experiencing a wide range of emotions as she dealt with very real topics (singleness, bareness, sickness, unsettledness, prodigal children/spouse). I often found myself in tears over the pain that waiting can bring (in my life and in the lives of others)...and yet, over and over, I couldn't help but pause and give glory to our faithful God as my heart was filled with hope and JOY over the gift that waiting can be and the testimony it can be to a watching world as we proclaim Christ and His forever promises in the midst of the temporal and as we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:18).

I'm not sure I can use strong enough words to encourage you to BUY THIS BOOK and then READ IT! Outside of your time in God's Word, it just might be some of your sweetest reading this summer!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Christmas in least the letter part!

It's been a long while since I took the time to give a Pichura update....a window into this crazy, blessed life that God has given us. Of course, a window is just a window. This "glimpse in" just shows part of what God has been up to in our lives this past year. I'm choosing to (mostly) share the blessings...not all the tears and trials. But our year has been full of those, too. How could we expect less when God has promised that we WILL have trials?....not just because of the fallen world we live in, but also because of our own flesh. We rejoice greatly that God has "overcome the world" and we look forward to the day when He comes back or calls us home where we will see Jesus face to face and no longer fight sin!

We moved to Chilliwack, British Columbia, June 29th of 2015. With the move came many changes, one of which was the kids and school. All the kids were homeschooled this year. After being at the Christian school in Hood River for 3 years, it was a bit of an adjustment for us all. And by "bit", I mean "huge, gigantic, and massive". And that is just how the change felt to me. ;) It took us about half the year to get into a rhythm and the other half of the year to warm up to the change. We officially found ourselves enjoying school as of June 1st and I'm happy to say the school year officially ended June 3rd. :)  Okay, okay....maybe I'm the only one giggling at this point! In all seriousness, we have finished school for the year, we did have lots of adjustments, and it wasn't always easy. BUT, we are thankful for God's grace and provision, thankful for the sin that was weeded out of our hearts as we all worked in close proximity to each other, thankful for much forgiveness, both from God and each other, thankful for the time we were able to spend together, thankful for the learning that took place, thankful to have made it, and looking forward to what God has in store for us in the coming year!

With each year, like it or not, our kids keep growing up!

Micah will be a junior in high school this fall and turns 16 in October. read that right...although we have a hard time believing it! He's got his sights set on driving...and we have our sights set on a bus pass. :)

Grace finished 9th grade...adding inches to her height and taking several more off her hair this year. Grace isn't a big fan of change...but once she determines to do something,  it's a joy to watch her bloom!

Samuel turned 14 in April and is ready for high school in the fall. He loves all things basketball...though he made a fantastic goalie in ice hockey this winter!

Faith decided she could use homeschooling to her benefit and skipped the 7th grade this year. She'll join the ranks of her older three siblings as a high schooler come September. She also entered the world of contact lenses this week...and will be praying she can babysit enough to pay for the damage :)

Titus turned 12 on Saturday....and is excited to join the youth group this summer as an incoming 7th grader. He continues to love all things water and still has his sights set on the Coast Guard one day.

Caleb turns 11 in just a few days. He's our last elementary kiddo with 6th grade just around the corner. He's got a smile to melt your heart...and a retainer to help hold it in place :).

(Note: most of our kids have a bit of metal in their mouths....apparently they got the "metal mouth genes" from both Bryan and I)

Bryan and I celebrated 18 years of marriage this past January. I was 18 when I married Bryan, so I have officially spent half of my life married to my other half! ;) And he truly is my other half! It has taken time and years to grow in deep appreciation for all the ways Bryan is different than me. Those early years, I found it easy to grow frustrated by the wish that he would see it my way....or at least to realize that his way was not the best way. (yep...I really did think that)  I am SO THANKFUL that those God saves, He changes! That He is the master potter transforming lumps of clay into useful purposes for His glory, our sanctification, and for the good of all who love Him. The longer I am married (and the more God sanctifies me through His Word and Spirit), the more I see just how much Bryan's differences strengthen where I am weak, complete what I am lacking, and are a beautiful match to my half. The two shall become one. What a beautiful gift!

Andrew Peterson has a song called "Dancing in the Minefields" and it's a favorite of ours. When we got engaged on June 24th, 1997 we never imagined the many minefields (the daily and not so daily trials of life) that our married years would hold, or we might have jumped in a fox hole and given up before we even started. But, by the grace of God, we have been able to dance through them. The dance has not always looked pretty, but we have always been sustained by our Saviour, held up by God's mighty hands, and encouraged by His glorious Word. We have danced, not because our eyes have been fixed on each other but because they have been fixed on our Heavenly Father...the God of all comfort and HOPE!

A minefield of this past year was that our church, here in Canada, went through a church split not long after we arrived. It's painful, it's hard, it's so far from what you ever desire to see the church be and do...and yet, it happens. So, you cling to God's Word, you seek to walk faithfully in His truth, you pray, you keep serving, you keep reaching out, you keep loving, you keep being the body of Christ. And there is beauty for ashes, there are fresh blooms that rise out of what looks like barren land, there is dancing after the mourning. And the roots of steadfast faith grow deeper in the God who is faithful and promises to complete each and every work He has begun!

We look back on this past year with a thankful heart...not because life has been a bowl of cherries...but because the Creator of those cherries has chosen us, called us, saved us, rescued us for His glory, and has promised to use all things to accomplish His GOOD purposes.

We stand right now with the prayer that we will be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord."

And we look forward to God's plans for the Pichura Family in the coming year for we know that every moment, of every day, of every month of the year is held in His hands...for "from Him and to Him and through Him are ALL things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!"