Monday, December 28, 2009

Who is Jesus...looking toward the new year

In Mark chapter 8, Jesus asked His disciples what others said about who they thought He was....John the Baptist, Elijah and one of the prophets were among the answers.  Then Jesus asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"  Peter answered "You are the Christ."

We just celebrated Christmas, the time of year Jesus' birthday is celebrated all around the world.  But who is this Jesus?  Some deny His existence altogether, placing His story in the genre of fairy tale.  Some say He existed but was nobody special, just the son of a carpenter.  Some say He was crazy/out of his mind (like those we read about in Mark 3).  Some say He was a good teacher, or holy man, or a prophet, someone who we would do well to learn from the example of.  Some say He was and is who He claims to be (here is a very partial list):
*  Immanuel (which is translated "God with us"...Matt 1:23)
*  Jesus, the one who saves His people from their sins (Matt 1:21)
*  The only mediator between God and mankind (1 Tim 2:5)
*  King of all kings (there will be no end to the increase of His government and peace...Isa 9:6)
*  Phil 2:9-10 tells us He is the highly exalted One before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

I am like many people who reflect at the end of the year upon life and how I'm living mine, and what changes I'd like to make in the new year.  I unashamedly believe, by God's gift of faith, the claims Jesus makes about Himself.  Honestly though I think that this side of glory, I will always be confessing "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (just like the man in Mark chapter 9 who brought his son to Jesus to be healed).  The question I am asking myself right now as I reflect on the past year and look forward to a new one is not so much what my mouth would say if Jesus asked me "Who do YOU say that I am?", but what answer does my life give?  

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blessed by my kiddos

I heard a quote by Cotton Mather last night (Doug Wilson quotes him while debating Hitchens in the movie Collision)...he said "Faithfulness begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother."  It made me pause and ask: "Am I using the prosperity with which I've been blessed to devour or display faith???"

Pastor Tuuri, one of the pastors at our church, taught in a recent sermon about how godly feasting includes remembering those who are less fortunate.  Not just thinking about them, but remembering in a way that alleviates their need.  Yes, enjoy the good gifts God has given, AND share those good gifts with others.  As you have freely received, freely give. 

There are all kinds of opportunities to share and give.  We're bombarded regularly.  Here is my do we respond when asked?  Do we see each asking as a bother or an opportunity?  Do we stop and consider if we're in a position to help?

I was so blessed this morning by my own kids.  We were sitting around the breakfast table and we were talking about the Facebook-athon going on TODAY for our friends (the Shubins and Walsers) to raise funds for a mission trip to Ethiopia.  These are folks who love Jesus and want to share Him with people in Ethiopia, giving tangible help and sharing Christ with those He brings them into contact with while there.  I had already sent some funds, but my kids wanted to know if they could pool their money and send more.  Of course!

So off they went to gather their change and when they came back it added up to a little over $8.  These are kiddos who do not get an allowance...this is a chunk of change they wanted to cheerfully give.  Talk about bless my soul!  We talked about how often times we cannot give a lot, but the question is whether or not we're willing to give what we can, trusting God to add it all up as His body works together to make the whole. What a blessing it is to see God at work in their hearts!  What an encouragement to me as a parent to see them bearing this kind of fruit in their God prospers us, may we use that prosperity to display our faith in Him.

Enjoy His good gifts, and share them with those in need.  If you can help, even just a little, please join the efforts going on today at Reckless Abandon . Thanks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time together...a good gift from God

This year we made our first attempt at creating a gingerbread house from scratch. 

      We had a good ole time, but found our particular dough (which we like very much for cookies) was a bit wimpy for roof tops after candy is least big roof tops.  Okay, so it was way wimpy! They were good sports about letting me take a quick picture before it collapsed.

      We had the supplies to make it much more candy coated, but due to the structure being somewhat condemnable, we opted to just jump right into eating it.  Next year, Lord willing, we will attempt to make a little village with individual sized houses (we're thinking the roofs just may hold better if they're smaller).  All in all, a fun family night activity even with the learning curve.

     The next night my dear hubby brought us home a Christmas tree and the delightful squeals that are associated with decorating sprung into high gear.  On went the Christmas music while lights were strung and ornaments hung.  

     And the next morning, while most of us lounged around enjoying the sparkly lights flashing in the still semi-dark living room, my Bekah cheerfully went to work to make us all French Toast.  God has created us all in Christ Jesus for good works, and I love to see the fruit-bearing children He has given me at work serving our family, and others.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gingerbread cookies

I am listening to an audio book this week titled Just starts with a rebuke of sorts to those of us who are all to often guilty of "going on a journey but missing the adventure."  In a recent post, I somewhat disjointedly thought out loud about fighting the good fight and mining for what is valuable, and I am finding this book resonating so far with the same encouragement I've had in my meditations of late to do what God puts into my hand in such a way as to get the value out of it, in contrast to just going through the motions.  How's that for a bona fide run on sentence?

With that said, my girls and I had a deliciously delightful time together yesterday making Gingerbread cookies...laughing, talking, singing, nibbling, fun!  Here is the recipe we've been using for years for those of you who may want to dig for some golden times with your kids :-).

Gingerbread Cut-out Cookie Dough
(One batch makes an average of 2-3 dozen cut-out cookies, depending on factors such as the size of your cutters and how much dough you snitch, etc)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup softened margarine
3 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
3 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves

In a large bowl, beat sugar, marg., and molasses until light and fluffy.  Add egg and water, blend well.  Stir in dry ingredients, mixing to form a smooth dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (or more) for easier handling.  Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness, using just enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board and cutters.  Bake at 350 for 9 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks and cool completely.


Don't "just make cookies";
Dig in to these golden pleasures together!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Six years ago our family started celebrating Thanksgiving Day at our own house, inviting friends each year to join us.  At that time, the Lopez's, our newly acquired friends who had just moved up here from California, were the first to come.  We're happy to report that my beginnings at cooking the turkey didn't poison them and they have come every year since.

You want to hear something goofy?  Even though I had been an adult for years, married with children, this transition to celebrating Thanksgiving at our house and being the one to cook the turkey felt like a right of passage of sorts...I finally felt grown up.  Weird, isn't it?

Some years it has been just our two families, some years others have joined us.  This year, twas the Coombs that joined in on the fun.  Here are some pictures from our day together, which at the same time share some of the traditions we enjoy.

The coloring of the Thanksgiving Banner:
We do birthday banners for each birthday and our first year together, as we were plotting ideas for our celebration, my oldest daughter suggested we do a Thanksgiving Banner.  Great idea M!  We've created one every year and the kids have great fun coloring it as you can see from this sampling...


The creation of the Thankful Chain:
We borrowed this idea from friends of ours...thank you Adams'.  We take some time to record all kinds of things we're thankful to God for on strips of Fall colored paper, sharing them with each other as we do it.  Then we tape them together to make a decorative chain.


Then we wrap it around all the children to take the annual Thankful Chain photo:

Of course, food is a big part of our celebration too:
Here is the girl's table, decorated by my young ladies with glee

The adult and little boy table:

Lots of good food to enjoy...

The littlest guy, our friend Owen, showing us all how to eat with a happy heart:

Agata, busy in the kitchen preparing one of our heavenly desserts:

Singing together:

(here we see the three amigos with remote controls to race...can you say fun?)

All this to show and tell, we had a lovely Thanksgiving Day...singing, praying, feasting, playing, rejoicing with friends before the Lord who made us and gives us all these things to enjoy in His presence with thankful hearts.  This year was a year of plenty, but whether in times of plenty or in want our God promises to never leave us nor forsake us.  We were once His enemies, traitors and rightly awaiting His just judgment, and He sent His Son so that He might be both just and the justifier of those who believe in Him.  When we have Him as our greatest Treasure, we always have reason to give Him thanks.

From our family to yours, we end with this message:  Our banner this year had Hebrews 13:10-16 on it, which ends with "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."  We have a Father who freely gives to we journey through the holiday season this year, let us remember to imitate Him, by doing good and sharing with those He puts within our reach.

Monday, November 23, 2009

dishes and fellowship

My beautiful 7 year old daughter Rebekah came into the kitchen while I was doing dishes and asked if she could help.  "Sure", said I.  She grabbed a towel and started drying the dishes and we chatted away about all kinds of things while we worked together.  When we were done, she cheerfully said "Mommy, I like helping you because when I do, we get to talk."  What a delight to me she is.

How is that for a simple, but beautiful illustration of the spirit of adoption?...glad to be part of the family, jumping into whatever I'm doing so we can share each others company.  That is the kind of heart I want to have more and more in relationship with God...jumping into His mission, serving and sharing His company.   One day I want to hear "well done"...therefore, I'm off to live today, if the Lord gives me breath for another day, doing all that He puts into my hand to do, by His grace and in His presence.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Little Black Boxing Gloves

I have little black boxing gloves hanging in my bedroom as a reminder that on this side of glory, there is a fight we're to be engaged in, the fight of faith, the fight to run with endurance the race set before us when so many paths posing as easier, funner, safer, richer, etc. tempt us to turn away from the grace laden "Jerusalem" road that has a cross before a crown.  One glove has the reference 1 Corinthians 9:16-27 written on it...verse 26b says "Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air."

My question this morning as I found myself "doing my exercises" at a lazy pace, was:  Am I really fighting or am I just going through motions that make it appear that I am fighting?  How's that for a brutally honest question?

I'm reading the book of Job this week.  I love the book of Job!  I chewed on some of the imagery of chapter 28 and compared it to fighting while I was working out...Job talks about how men take risks and work hard in dangerous, creepy caves to find gold and other precious things

Questions came to my mind:
*  How many miners stop mining after they find a nugget or two?  How many fighters think the battle is over after they've poked at their opponent a few times?  Am I still digging and fighting?

* Don't miners work harder after finding one nugget with the hope of finding more nearby? Job moves on to talk about wisdom as fearing the Lord...a miner digs to find little pieces of creation which cannot compare with the infinitely more valuable worth of Wisdom...what kind of effort do I exert in growing in my knowledge of and devotion to God? 

*  Don't fighters "go for the kill" when they see that their attempts are having an impact on their enemy? Job also tells us "to depart from evil is understanding" often do I try to make peace with my flesh by gratifying it (thinking foolishly that it would be appeased, rather than believing the truth that what you nourish grows stronger)?  Does a fighter make peace with his opponent in the ring or does he give all his effort to knocking him down and keeping him down?

*  Based on the premise that we seek what we value, does the use of time and resources in my own life regularly demonstrate a hunger for God, a thirst for His righteousness, a desire to know Him and make much of Him in every area of life? 

This morning I was moved again to ask God for His mercy, and to thank Him for it in the same breath as I picked up the pace in my exercises by His grace.  Honestly, I think my beginning exercise pace reflects my "going through the motions is enough" mentality as of late. It is by God's grace alone that I am not a completely white-washed tomb or worse. 

Is a miner content to walk through caves without a desire to gain treasure?  NO!  But how often am I like such a miner who walks through a cave, maybe even swinging a pick, but without effort to work for what is valuable?

Here is a cursory look at the daily To Do List:
* Bible reading - check ( I may not be able to tell you what I read, but I took the time to scan my eyes over the black marks on the page)

* Exercise - check (the pace may have been so easy that there will be little or no benefit, but I took the time to do them, isn't that what counts?)

* Various labors - check (may have been cranky with the kids, disrespectful to my husband, but the dishes got done and the laundry is put away)

Ouch...There is none who do good, no not one...oh Lord, thank you for Your mercies which are new every morning.  Thank You for Your grace, which is sufficient every day.  It is time to put the gloves back on again.

Yes, we have a fight to fight and I want to beat more than air.  I want to become more and more like Jesus and put to death the deeds of my flesh.  I read recently on a blog that a 90 year old was encouraging someone with the truth that whatever we're dealing with right now, these are momentary afflictions...she said "the first 100 years are the hardest."  I liked that!  The road of faith may feel long, but truly this life is a vapor and eternity is stretched out before us with the promise from God that both now and then, He will be with us.  For now we have tears, we have to fight, we have to run, we have to be miners...but one day, we will see Jesus face to face and the tears will be dried and we'll have rest and joy which right now we cannot even fathom fully.

I've asked my family to bury me with those little black boxing gloves.  REALLY.  Not because I want to take them with me, as if I could or would want to, but because when God takes me home the battle ends and it's symbol can be buried right along with me.  The reference on the second glove is Hebrews 4...there is a day of rest coming!   A day when the fight ends!  At the end of the fight, I want to be the one still standing. 

All my hope is banked in the One who promised to complete the good work He has begun in me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sweet 16

Sixteen years ago today...

I stood trembling with joy at an alter where Mike took me as his bride. 

Last night we laid in bed recounting sweet memories we've shared.  As every couple that weds does, we promised before God and witnesses to be loving and faithful to each other in every sort of circumstance.  Our Gracious Father has brought us through much TOGETHER so far...we've known some of plenty and want, some of sickness and health, some of joy and sorrow...and through it all, God's tender mercies have been new every morning. God is the perfect loving and faithful One!  We cannot say the same about ourselves, but by His grace, we continue to enjoy our union very much!

Because we know the One who does love perfectly, and we entrust ourselves to His care, we look forward to the future TOGETHER.

Please join us in giving God thanks today as we celebrate our anniversary.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


 I grew up with a warped view of God...fear was readily found within me, but joy was missing because I saw God as an angry judge with a list of arbitrary laws that stood ready to turn anyone who crossed Him into toast.  And I knew I crossed Him.  I was inwardly fearful all the time, though outwardly I likely resembled a Pharisee as I sought to please Him on my own work-ish terms.

I became a Christian when I was 15 years old and began to taste and see the goodness of the Lord, to know His mercy, to rejoice in His salvation.  The Word of God was tasty bread to me now.  I also started reading who I referred to as Old Dead Guys a lot (John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Spurgeon, Thomas Boston, Jonathan Edwards, and others).  They preached Christ so powerfully and helped me to understand the Scriptures.

Then I was introduced to a few living authors that didn't succumb to self-esteem jargon and health, wealth, prosperity talk...people who stick with Christ crucified as their message. One of my all time favorite books, besides the 66 of them found in the Bible of course, became John Piper's Desiring God.  What a perspective changer it was for me!  He wrote a follow up book to it, which was also helpful, titled When I Don't Desire God, How to Fight for Joy.  It is from that book, on page 157, that the following acronym came from.  I share it with you because it has proved so good for me.

IOUS - an acronym for praying in regards to reading 
God's Word
I - (Incline!)  The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and His Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life.  I must want to know God and read His Word and draw near to Him.  Where does that "want to" come from?  It comes from God.  So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, "Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!"  Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination.  We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O - (Open!)  Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas.  Who opens the eyes of the heart?  God does.  So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."  So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful.  Its reading does not produce joy.  So what can we do?  We can cry to God: "Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful."

U - (Unite!)  Then I am concerned that my heart is badly fragmented.  Parts of it are inclined, and partes of it are not.  Parts see wonder, and parts say, "that's not so wonderful."  What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful YES! to what God reveals in His Word.  Where does that wholeness and unity come from?  It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, "Unite my heart to fear your name."  Don't stumble over the word fear when you thought you were seeking joy.  The fear of the Lord is a joyful experience when you renounce all sin. A thunderstorm can be a trembling joy when you know you can't be destroyed by lightning.  "O Lord, let your ear be attentive to...the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name" (Neh. 1:11).  "His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD" (Isa. 11:3).  Therefore pray that God would unite your heart to joyfully fear the Lord.

S - (Satisfy!)  What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of His Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world.  Where does that satisfaction come from?  It comes from God.  So Psalm 90:14  teaches us to pray, "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."

Monday, November 9, 2009

In the way of allurement

Years ago I taught a Sunday school class on "being a disciple of Jesus."  This week I found myself looking up the notes because I needed to whack myself upside the head with them.  They served me are a few thoughts to serve you too:

To be a disciple in the simplest sense of the word just means to be taught by another, but that doesn't go far enough when talking about being a disciple of Jesus because you can learn from someone you don't admire, you can be a pupil of someone you care little to nothing about as a person, you can be a student of someone without caring a hoot about their personal goals, and you can sit under someone's teaching simply as a means to an end (like getting a degree) without  having any interest in putting that knowledge to use.

    This doesn't fly for followers of Jesus.  His own call to us is to "Follow Me."  Those two words involve His person and His plan.  Disciples of Jesus join Him in His mission; loyal to Him and His purposes.

    • Luke 14:25-33 helps us understand that we need to rightly esteem Jesus and be devoted to His person.
    • Luke 11:1-4 and John 8:31 show us to cry out "Lord, teach us"  - we ought to be eager to know His ways.  What are His goals and His principles for how to pursue those goals?
    • James 1:21-27 makes it clear that we need to be doers of what He says; cheerfully, not grudgingly.
    • If we don't want what He wants, which we often find is the case while our old man clings to us, we need the Holy Spirit to work in us to line our desires up with His (Matt. 16:24-27; Rom. 8:5-9; 1 Cor. 2:14; Gal. 5:22-25; Eph. 5:8-17). 
    In an earlier post I wrote about the four living creatures in Rev. 4 who never rest from taking in the beauty and glory of God nor from praising Him.  Why is it we're not overtaken with awe like that all of the time?  Well, a part of it may be because this side of resurrection, we see dimly...I have every hope that one day, when I see Jesus face to face, being filled with awe will never be a problem again.

    Another possibility is that we need to feed our souls better.  Jonathan Edwards wrote "our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can't be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value...[Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement...There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting."  This is not to the end that we become so heavenly minded that we're of no earthly good, BUT so that the things we do on earth are full of God's glorifying purpose and joy.

    I let life get busy, too busy these past few weeks...busy with things that didn't keep in mind Christ's person or plan directly.  Distractions can lead me down wrong paths quickly (it only took a few weeks to lose God-exalting purpose and joy), so I praise the Lord for friends who confront me with grace and remind me to lay myself once more in the right "way of allurement."  I thank the Lord for old notes that remind me to keep Christ's person and His plan in focus.  God has graciously restored the joy of my salvation.

    Let us faithfully follow Him: His person and His plan.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    H1N1 - walking by faith in the fog of hysteria

    I have a confession to make.  As we've approached piggy flu season, I have been weighing whether to immunize my son who is in a high risk for complications category...with the hysteria about the flu mixed with hysteria about the vaccines themselves, it is easy to get caught up in the fog of fear.  This week I met with our pediatrician and truly had a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" mindset as we talked through the options.  What a statement of unbelief!

    Later that day I was reading in Ephesians, about how we're blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, chosen from before the foundation of the world, predestined to adoption as sons, made accepted in the Beloved, redeemed through His blood, and on goes the Apostle Paul with all kinds of reasons for us to bless the Lord and trust Him fully.

    My kids will be reciting their memory verses this morning at our Honeycomb Kid's meeting (a home school group of sorts for those of you unfamiliar with it), and they've memorized a good portion of Romans 8, so in addition to reading Ephesians, God brought to my mind the text we've been memorizing together...nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, not tribulation, not distress, not peril, not flus, not shots, NOTHING.

    And I sat there ashamed of my unbelief as the conversations I have had recently about H1N1 replayed in my mind.  What was I saying, by implication, about my Father?  We are not "damned" if we do; "damned" if we don't!  We are in the arms of the Sovereign God who is our Father, who loves us and works all things together for our good, who can be fully trusted.

    That doesn't mean hard things do not happen.  But as God's kids we shouldn't be walking around gripped with fear, expecting the worst.  Hard things are not a result of bad luck or chance, they are not a matter of statistics.  When we face difficulties, we do so by design and the design belongs to the One who loves us best.

    So flu or no flu, shots or no shots, complications or no complications, I want to live each day by faith in God who is eternally worthy of our praise and trust and obedience.  He says if we lack wisdom, which I certainly do, to ask and He will give it liberally and without reproach (James 1:5)...that is my new course of action. Will you join me?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Happy 5th Birthday Paul

    Last night I kissed my four year old son goodbye, and am looking forward to welcoming my 5 year old to a new day within the hour.  Today is Paul's birthday and I welcome you to rejoice with us as you go through your day, giving thanks to our Father who sets the solitary into families.  We are so glad He set Paul into ours!

    Through the brief number of his years so far:

    Year 2,

    Year 3, playing with the gift Legos he'd opened earlier in the day:

    Year 4, the year he REALLY got into weapons, and learned better how to protect the women in his life from "the bad guys":

    And since today IS his birthday and he is still sleeping,
    I don't have this year's pictures,
    but here are a few we took recently at Bauman Farms:

    I am off to finish preparing his banner which was printing while I wrote to you ...he'll be awake soon.
    Yeah, let the celebrations begin!

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Beatrice's story

    Good morning.  I am back after a week of a crazed schedule, and I so enjoyed the simple pleasure of sitting quietly at my desk catching up on my friend's blogs.

    This morning, I want to direct those of you who don't mind reading more than 50 words in a row to a blog I follow:  Loving the Least of These.

    This post by Amy so beautifully illustrates the overflowing love of God that is described for us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.  Be encouraged to share the comfort of God you've received with others, then be amazed at what God does!  Thank you for sharing Beatrice's story with us Amy and Ben!

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    A day to celebrate!

    Today is the anniversary of our B's finalization and thought I'd share the joy that continues to fill our house as we celebrate our little Sunshine, a full fledged member of our family for 6 years now! 

    This little darling loves to help in the kitchen so we are off to create the dinner of her choice TOGETHER...there is no place I'd rather be.  Have a great day.  By God's grace, we will  :-).

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    What is our message?

    Very near nine years ago, we received news that a newborn boy who we hoped to name Mitchell was not going to join our family as we had hoped.   His birth mom [referred to here as T] changed her mind at the last moment.

    This is what I wrote in my journal: 
    It has been five days since we've received the news that T's boy was welcomed into arms other than ours.  By God's grace, we have accepted this news as coming from God in love.  It was hard news, painful news, news that has brought many tears from our eyes and those who have been weeping with us.  BUT, we trust that God's arm was not too short to bring this baby to us if it had been His good pleasure to do so...we also trust that He has not disappointed us out of cruelty, but out of love.  We grieve, but we do not despair.  God is all-powerful and He is good.
    The manifestations of His love through the body of Christ have moved me to tears as often as the pain I have felt in my heart...we have been carried in God's arms of mercy and are filled with thankfulness for His compassion and comfort and His people, for the simple providences like songs that come on the radio, the call from our caseworker extending T's apology, the cards and phone calls and hugs and tears of friends, etc...our God is faithful and He is all-wise...we trust that this too is being worked by Him for our good and His glory.
    My good friend Gina sent me this quote from "The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart" in response to her hearing the news: 
    She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship and was securing the accomplishment of His will and working out His own designs.  Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, to the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God's ruling hand and to allow herself to be guided by it.
    Can we recognize God's ruling hand when we see our plans upset?  I long to say yes with greater faithfulness, for I still respond according to my old nature all too often. I heard once that when we suffer, in whatever way (loss, sickness, injury, persecution, etc) that it is like God holding a megaphone up to our life...we are always preaching a message by the way we live and what we speak, but that message is magnified when there is pain or sorrow attached to it.  What is my message?  What is yours?  I so want to declare the goodness and love of my Savior at all times.  Please pray for me to be more faithful in declaring His unsurpassed worth and glory every day that He gives me breath.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Quotes from All Things for Good

    All Things for Good, by Thomas Watson, is a book I've been recommending to people for are a few quotes I like from the book:
    • If it is good for us, we shall have it; if it is not good for us, then the withholding of it is good.
    • The mercies of God make a sinner proud, but a saint humble.
    • Faith keeps the heart from sinking in despair, fear keeps it from floating in presumption.
    • As in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another, but all carry on the motions of the watch: so things that seem to move cross to the godly, yet by the wonderful providence of God work for their good.
    • God's rod is a pencil to draw Christ's image more lively upon us.
    • If God does not give you that which you like, He will give you that which you need.  A physician does not so much study to please the taste of the patient, as to cure his disease.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Last but not least, meet P

    Hello Friends,

    Our last cherub, unless the Lord should add to our number, is P.  His story is also filled with wonder and tender mercies as we look back and see the hand of God bringing us together.  I have started a journal for each of my children from the beginning of heart pangs and in January of 2004 I started one for P.  In the very first entry, I mentioned that people have often told me over the years how great it would be if I just got pregnant...though that would indeed offer obvious reasons for rejoicing (children are gifts, whichever way God gives them), I found myself fighting the sentiment for a couple reasons.

    The biggest reason is that God has grown in me a passion to help fatherless ones get grafted into Christian families, and I love the privilege it is to be one of those families.  The lens of earthly adoption has helped me see the glorious gospel of God adopting us into His family so much more clearly.  I am moved daily to adore the Father of the fatherless, knowing I am no longer fatherless because of Him.  He is so worthy of imitation!

    Secondly, the sentiment seems to implicate, whether intentionally or not, the idea that homegrown kids are preferable over grafted ones, and that adoption is a plan B sort of deal.  I believed those implications when adopting M, initially...I have since repented.  God tells us children are a heritage from Him, and truth be known, that includes grafted children EVERY bit as much as homegrown ones. 

    So now, let's meet P, our son who just woke up asking how many more days until his birthday...he'll be 5 in a couple short weeks and excitement is brewing in his heart.  Ours too! He came home to us on May 18, 2005 (3 days shy of being 7 months old).  Here we are, at the airport, meeting him for the first time as his escort came off the plane:

    At home, he let Daddy feed him his first bottle, with two strange girl faces watching him:

    P was content and cheerful for the most part, from the get "grieving screaming" with this round of adoption, but what we did experience was a boy who would respond to just about everybody the was many, many months before he bonded to us as a family in particular.

    The night before his homecoming, we received a call letting us know there was a question about whether he would be on the plane or not...he was sick and he hadn't passed the initial flight physical.  My anxiety-resistance muscles got a serious workout that night as I exercised trust in the Lord (who works all things together for good to those called according to His purpose).  He did make it on the plane, and we had fun trying to decipher the medicine packets that came with him (written in Korean).  We are good friends now with our Pediatrician, who we've seen often with P (and with R, especially early on)...he's had breathing issues, many trips to the ER/hospital for various things, and couldn't hear for about a month when he first came home, but I think it was nursing him through it all that bound us together so tightly.  He is so our boy!  And God has restored him to good health which we give Him all thanks for.

    Every child comes with a labor all their own...but the labor itself is also a gift from God who draws us closer to Himself in such times.  Part of the labor in P's story was the need to raise funds for his adoption.  I'll write about that another day because this post is already getting long...for now, just enjoy some more pictures.  By eleven months old, P was able to swing on his own...his co-ordination continues to amaze us to this day:

    In May of 2006, his adoption was finalized (we had 55 people at our house helping us celebrate!)...woo hoo!

    I love my family: 

    If it has to do with sports, weapons, food, music, or tools, P wants to be involved:


    Oh yes, and exploring...this boy is the energizer bunny personified with a mind that competes with Curious George:

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Memory Lane with R

    Good morning,
         In the last post, you got to "meet" all my kids with the focus being on M.  Today, I'd like to share a little bit of R's story with you.  All three of our children were adopted with the help of HOLT and we are very thankful for our social worker, Sharon, who we count among our friends.  After M joined our family at the end of 2000, we knew we wanted to adopt again.  We mailed our application the day M turned 9 months old, and the journey officially began once more.
         We planned to adopt within the States again, but God tells us clearly that as we plan, He directs our steps.  There was a lot of redirecting that took place in this journey, but how thankful we are to God for His leading and for grafting R into our family...her story is amazing, as is she!
         We got to meet R for the first time on Oct 24, 2002 when she was 4 1/2 months old when our own social worker was able to escort her home for us.  Here she is when we first came home, still with her ID tag on her wrist, not sure what to make of all the changes she was enduring.

          We had been told many transitional stories so we had some ideas of what we might expect.  R struggled a lot with being "home" for about a month and my heart ached for her and all the changes she was having to caretakers, new sights, new sounds, new food, new smells.  Essentially, EVERYTHING she was familiar with was taken away from her in an instant.  I would cry too!  I cried with her.
         We hugged her, sang softly to her, and tried to comfort her the best we was like watching a flower unfold or bloom as she began to relax and fall in love with her family over the course of time.  Her two names in Korea, which we kept as her middle names, mean "love" and "bright" (like the sun) suits her very well.  We call her our little sunshine much of the time. Take a look at this smile and you won't wonder why:

    Here is the day R became a big sister:

    She has been in a number of she is loving on her Daddy at one of them:

    Here are a few friends who came to celebrate R's 4th birthday...she is well loved.

    She LOVED being in ballet: 

    And gymnastics:

    This past winter we were given a Winter Wonderland in our own backyard...many days of playing in snow and coming indoors for hot cocoa, which all the kids seemed to enjoy thoroughly. Truth be known, I did too!

    We homeschool...R prefers the floor to the table when given the opportunity:

    Here she is celebrating her 7th birthday:

          R is one of the most generous souls I know; she would give you the food off her plate and go without in order to give food to a hungry person.  She amazes me with her giving spirit.  She has been described by more than one person as an old soul in a young persons body, and I agree...her thoughts are deep and often full of wisdom far beyond her years.  She loves to read.  I finished a 500 page novel recently and she asked if I liked it...I had, so she wanted to read it.  Two days later, she had devoured the whole thing and we were able to discuss it. There are many things I could write about R that give me great pleasure!  I am so glad she is my girl.
         One of the ways God redirected our steps when adopting this second time was to shift us from a domestic program to a Korean one.  Then, when we were #6 on the waiting list, our social worker called and asked if we'd be open to looking at some "waiting kids" because there were a number of them all of a sudden with minor special needs.  We were open.
         Before I tell you more, I have to say that when we adopted P, we requested a boy in the process with no reservations, but in the process with R, Mike and I were divided...He wanted to request a boy and I had a hard time agreeing to it.  Before making the call to the "waiting children" program coordinator, we had to have a hearty talk about this, and I was ready to submit myself to his decision...if he was set on a boy, I didn't want the coordinator to talk to us about any girls.  When it came to the minute of decision, he said we should consider boys and girls.  So we made the call, and the coordinator sent us profiles on three children:  2 boys and 1 pathetic looking girl who seemed to cry out to us both the moment we laid our eyes on her!
        We talked with our pediatrician and based on medical reports, she was the least healthy of the three.  We discussed what we needed to know in order to care for her (just a list of minor "special needs" like gastrointestinal issues, recurring infections, a hernia; risks associated with low birth weight, etc).   
         It took us a few long weeks to get R assigned to us.  They had wanted us to get an updated medical report before making a final decision...we fought to get represented in committee, arguing the medical report would be what it was, a report about our daughter.  We simply wanted her growing up here with us, not in Korea due to strange regulations and paperwork.  It is a very odd thing that happens in adoption...she was not technically our daughter yet, but in our hearts she already was and we found ourselves fighting for her.
         The day came when we were brought before Committee and R was stamped with our name.  That very same day we got a call telling us our "healthy child" profile arrived that day:  Did we want to reconsider?  Nope.  We knew we were following where God was leading...we didn't even ask if it was a boy or girl.  We weren't buying a truck and being offered a "better deal"...we were gaining the daughter God had for us and we were more convinced than ever that this little girl was to be in our family.
         Later, that SAME day, we got another call.  R's updated medical report had finally reported her developmentally on track, the hernia had "spontaneously resolved" and other matters had significantly cleared up.  Praise the Lord.  Parents love to hear this kind of news about their child, but their love doesn't alter based upon it.
         I know this is lengthy, but believe me this is the extremely condensed version!  You're only still reading if you are interested anyway, right?  So R is our "special needs" girl...she is needy just like all children, and she is certainly special.  We give God thanks daily for her!