Saturday, April 21, 2012


When my girls were far younger, one of the silly books we liked to read from the library was called The Can-Do Pigs.  We all enjoyed that these pigs made no excuses...they just figured out how to get the job done.  They, after all, were the amazing "can do" pigs. 

Well we're not pigs, but I welcome their fictionalized can-do influence showing up years later.  I enjoy seeing my children look for ways to overcome.  Yesterday we met for Latin class in tighter quarters than we usually do.  Was there any complaining?  Nope!  All the kids that meet up for our Friday school just rolled with it.  I love that!  Then mid-way through Latin we decided to do our 5 minute Korean gymnastics routine, again in a tight space, and again no complaint, just energized bodies in motion.  In fact, we started talking about the Can-Do Pig story and how if we just modify an exercise or two, we can still do it.  And we did.  We could have made excuses like "there isn't enough room."  We could have whined throughout the day about how many people were trying to do school in a little house.  But God is at work.  We are HIS workmanship.  And as we gave thanks to Him for a place to meet and the opportunity to learn, He continued to make us into can-do kind of people. 

My kids are great examples to me of looking for what we CAN do.  For example, we're not rolling in extra moolah at our house and yet we want so much to help Christians be able to afford to adopt.  It has been my kids that have been the big brain-stormers...thinking of how we CAN host or help with garage sales, we CAN arrange a fund-raising candle party, we CAN collect pop cans, we CAN communicate encouragements along the way, we CAN CAN CAN do lots of little things.

I told you last time about my trip to Florida.  I totally would have never thought that trip was possible, but God made a way.  He is definitely a CAN DO GOD!  He opens the doors He asks us to walk through.  But we need to listen to Him and be willing to trust Him, to take the steps towards those doors that perhaps look closed. 

Our oldest daughter suggested awhile back that we go visit our friends, the Niemans, in South Korea.  I've never been out of the country.  Ever.  My first response was NOT "can do."  But after many conversations and prayers, we have decided that for MANY reasons, we would really like to try to make that trip next year. That seems HUGE to me. The thought of going as a family simultaneously frightens and excites me.  God is stretching me, and I am so very thankful.  I have played life very safe, sitting on the side lines far too long.  He's called me and my family to be in the game.  We really are HIS workmanship and He tells us He has created us for good works.  Where's the mission?  What does He want us to be doing?  Let's live this life to the fullest, trusting Him and following wherever He leads.  If He is leading us to visit S. Korea as part of our mission, let us donne the trust hat and go. We know that if God has this for us, He is able to open all the doors.  As God enables, we'll keep walking in that direction.  We want to be in the game.  We want to be can-do people.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The joy of seeing my friends in Florida...

Last month I got to hang out with these dear friends in Florida.  Yes, that's right.  This home-lovin' Oregonian who hadn't flown in 18 years braved the journey so that I could hug and kiss on a handful of little ones who are no longer orphans, and spend some time with the families God had chosen for them.  Our family has had the incredible pleasure of being a part of our Father's work of setting the solitary into families over and over again for 11 years! 

"A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation. 
God sets the solitary in families." ~ Ps. 68:5-6a

"The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow." ~ Ps. 146:9a

For the past couple of years, we have been specifically working alongside four families in the Tampa area.  We know the Shubins in the video above originally from here in Oregon. Now they live in Florida and God has continued to grow our friendship despite the miles between us.  They, and three other families in their church, began the adoption process and God gave us a heart to want to cheer them on in whatever ways we could.  Via emails and skype and phone calls and fundraisings, our hearts were all knit together in the process.  After all the kiddos came home, my hubby very sweetly took a week off of work, planned a week of fun activities with our three children, and sent me off to Florida so I could have some face to face time with all these folks.  I split the week, spending part one at the Shubins and part two in Ft. Lauderdale with my nephew Arthur and his family.  What a week!  What a gift! 

The adoption journey is just the beginning.  God has been pleased to graft 3 children into our family and now we get to experience the grand adventure of living the day to day together.  The same is true for these families, and I count it a precious gift to have them as friends.  

I have a number of pictures to share.  Here I am with a portion of the Shubin clan on "the other west coast."  I got to visit the true East Coast with my nephew later in the week when he kindly drove me over for the sunrise...thank you Arthur :-).  This beach had beauty all its own, and the company I enjoyed was fantastic, but I'll take the easy-on-the-feet sand of Oregon's coast lands over the itty-bitty-ouchy-on-the-feet shells of the other west coast any day.  Just sayin'.

 We hung out around the house a lot,
playing games, jumping on the trampoline, coloring, etc.
It was just good to be with these friends, whatever the activity!

Erica, bless her heart, took me to an Amish Ice Cream store.
After sampling almost everything in the store, this became my new favorite:

On Sunday I got to meet Mrs. B in the flesh!  What a treat she is!  
When I grow up, I want to be like Barbara 
because she wants more than anything to be just like Jesus. 
We were partners on the cheerleading team...
what should we take on next Barbara?  
We make a good team, don't you think? 

Meet the four adoptive Mama's...from left to right
 Rachel Walser, Melissa Maser, moi, Christy Waulk, and Erica Shubin.
I love these gals!

Right after church, Zahra (Shubin) and Abby (Walser)
grabbed handfuls of the remaining communion bread.
I found them giggling in a corner, munching away
and they let me join their little party.  
These two are SO MUCH FUN!

Speaking of fun, the party continued after church at the Shubins!

Karis (Waulk) is a hoot!
A few Sandra Boynton books later, she had warmed right up to me :-)

The last of the four to come home and the last for me to meet
was precious Caleb (Maser)...his smile melt my heart!
And those dark, handsome eyes!  
What joy to see him HOME in his family!
It was a wonderful trip and I am so grateful
for these families,
for my family who sent me to see them,
for the privilege God gives to love and be loved.
Now it is a new day.
New choices to make.
God entrusts us with time, talents and treasures...
Let's put them all to use lovingly for His glory!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So what's the big deal?

What is God like?  Really?  He is NOT the "man upstairs" that mankind likes to imagine Him to be that winks at sin and just helps us out of tight spots when we become desperate.  The Babe born in a stable and nailed to a cross in His 30's didn't match up with man's idea of what the coming Messiah was going to be like?  Do we care to know the One who created all that is?  What is His character?  What are His aims for this world?  Do we want to know Who put skin over our flesh and makes our heart beat and our lungs take in air?  What pleases Him?  What grieves His heart?  He has graciously revealed Himself in His Word and gives His Spirit to those who cry out to Him.  Are we crying out?  Do we really give a hoot or have the things of this world lured us away from delighting in the incredible glory of our great God and King?

We're studying Ezra together as a family.  God had delivered His people out of captivity, showing them great mercy, and  He instructed them so that they would know how to live as His redeemed ones. "You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever'" (Ezra 9:11-12).

But we have a problem.  A common problem.  Mankind neglects the word of God and exalts his own thoughts as superior...with arguments like "we deserve to be happy" or "God just doesn't want us to have any fun" and other such nonsense, we justify our pursuits of whatever we damn well please (and I use that phrase intentionally because this mindset is indeed damnable).  In chapter 9 of Ezra we see that the people joined right in on the abominable deeds of the peoples, including intermarrying with pagans, and verse 2 tells us that the leaders/rulers were the worst offenders.

So is this a big deal?

Ezra thought so.  "So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished." ~ Ezra 9:3

The people who trembled at God's word thought so.  "Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive..." ~ Ezra 9:4

They knew God was patient and merciful...they knew He was the One who had just delivered them by His mighty hand and had given them the favor of kings to rebuild the temple.  They also knew God is just, and the reason they had been in captivity in the first place was because of their rebellion against Him.  And they feared.  They rightly feared.

"At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.  Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day.  And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.  And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments...... And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this,  should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!" ~ Ezra 9:5-10, 13-15

Ezra may not have personally been guilty, but he cries out "our iniquities."  Do WE see ourselves as part of the "body of Christ" or just as individuals?  We've been talking about this relative to our day.  We have plenty of reason to fear as Ezra did.  The God who delivers the rebellious into the hand of kings, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation is still on His throne.  Surely He is merciful, and in His mercy alone can we hope...but that does not negate His justice and our reason to fear.  There are plenty of abominations being committed by those claiming to be among God's people: abortions, no-fault divorce, turning a blind eye to child trafficking and all kinds of social injustices, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and yes, even marrying outside of the faith just like in Ezra's day.  Personally I know people who have married outside the faith and got counsel from parents and pastors saying that it was fine to do so...I know a pastor who is a big-time homosexual advocate...I circulate petitions to get it on our ballet in Oregon to be able to vote against taxpayer funded abortions (because the sad reality is that many still want to argue their "right" to murder infants in the womb and at present taxpayers still must pay for it)...and I know that every time we exalt our own plans over God's commands we forfeit our joy and rob Him of the glory and praise due His name.   We should fear...we should rightly fear.  As God brings us into relationship with people who name Him as their savior and yet live in such a way, are we engaging them, pleading with them to trust His goodness and to live in obedience to Him as God gives us opportunity?  Or do we live and let live without any concern beyond our own personal life?  God's people are called to mission...we are to be His ambassadors of reconciliation, fountains of truth and love, spreaders of the good news of His gospel.  We are His body, and many members of His body are in rampant we care?  Do we care enough to cry out to God?  Do we care enough to reach into people's lives and speak truth in love?  Do we understand our own deliverance so that our approach with others has the aroma of humility versus a self-righteous pride? 

One of my husbands favorite verses is found in Ezra 7:10 which says: "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel."  I need to do a better job of preparing my heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to share it with others with humility and love.  I need to be better at seeing myself as a member of His body, not an isolated individual, who cries out to Him because of "our iniquities."

Having read Ezra before, I can be filled with hope in the God of mercy even though our studies this round have only taken us as far as this problem...Ezra cried out...those who feared the Lord cried out...and things changed.

2 Chron 7:14 "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Let us be people who cry out!