Sunday, November 28, 2010

My "in the vicinity" Friends

 For all the locals (Portland area peeps):

Save the dates (Dec 3 &4)...this coming Friday and Saturday from noon til 5pm, my niece Leah Marl will be kissing her job with Party Lite goodbye with this fantastic fund-raising event. Here is the info from the Facebook event page:

Leah Marl's home
17626 SE Emerald Drive
Milwaukie, OR

To raise funds for 2 adoptions!
Kenny & Amanda Marl &
Steve and Angie Shubin

Come stock up on candles, or do some Christmas shopping and support a good cause too! 50% of sales from Leah's stock and items sold from the Fundraiser brochure will go to support the adoptions & 25% of sales from the regular catalog or December specials flier. We will also have donations jars and other ways to give available. Thanks for prayers and support for these two couples!

Open house for 2 days from 12-5pm.

I should also mention to bring cash or check. Party Lite accepts credit card payment for regular catalog purchases, but not for fund-raising orders.

Also note...if you order anything, you will be given the option of writing "Shubin" or "Marl" or "both" on your order form, and Leah (having been taught well) shall do the math to make sure the appropriate funds go to the earmarked families.  We'll have treats available and hope you will stop in to be a part of this event.  This event is open to all so please help spread the word.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful to...

Hello friends in Blogville,
    Today I was reading in Exodus of God's mighty deliverance of His people from the hardened-hearted Pharaoh.  The day before I had re-listened to a sermon by one of our pastors, Chris Wilson, about how only that which is within us can defile us...we are quick to think our biggest enemies are "out there" somewhere be it other people or our circumstances or whatever, when in reality our very own flesh produces passions of all kinds that wage war against our own souls and are in opposition to the King of all kings.  I do not sin because Suzy said something mean to me first or because the snow outside is messing with my plans or because someone else got what I wanted and I didn't or any other excuse I might try to justify myself with.  I sin because by nature I am a sinner...that's what messes me up....that's what defiles me.  We confess at church our sins that we each commit as being "my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault."  Yep, that's right.  I'm my own biggest enemy.

Today, as I was considering the Exodus in connection to Pastor Wilson's sermon, I was overcome with gratitude TO GOD for His mighty deliverance of me from myself.  He has made me a new creation in Christ Jesus which is no small feat, and promises to continue the good work He has begun until it is completed.  I can guarantee He's not finished with me yet, but how thankful I am to know He is at work.  Apart from His grace, I am a hardened-hearted pharaoh with my own little kingdom of me which stands in opposition to Him.  From the Exodus story, it is clear just how foolish a notion that is.  No one can stand against the Lord and win, but until the Lord delivers us by His mighty and merciful hand, we sure give it our best shot.  Apart from His grace, we are so far removed from any appreciation of Him or fear of Him, that we go about our business suppressing His truth in all our unrighteousness without batting an eye.  When He graciously opens our eyes and we begin to behold Him in all His glory and power and wisdom and love and mercy and His every other perfection, He is delivering us from an enemy as powerful as Pharaoh...with His outstretched arms, He begins to deliver us from our own sinful selves as He brings us into His glorious Kingdom. 

I'm a pilgrim bound for the Celestial City because the Living God has rescued me and continues to deliver me from all my stumblings...He is drawing me to Himself and it is to Him I am thankful.  Every good thing I enjoy is a gift from His hand.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and many will gather with loved ones and share with each other things they are thankful for.  Great.  But let us also remember to Whom we owe all thanks. 

I'm thankful to God for...
  • making me His child and giving me His Word to live by.
  • my loving and faithful husband.
  • my beautiful and joy-filled children.
  • a great church to be a part of , and for our elders and deacons.
  • my extended family.
  • wonderful friends.
  • kind neighbors in a beautiful neighborhood.
  • health.
  • clothes to wear.
  • tasty food to eat and utensils to eat it with.
  • popcorn (yes, it get's its own listing!)
  • opportunities to serve and bless others.
  • indoor toilets.
  • clean water to drink that comes right out of a faucet in our house.
  • conveniences like stoves and washing machines, etc.
  • our cars.
  • great books to read.
  • our house with a working heater while it is below 20 degrees currently outside.
  • doctors and nurses who study so many years so they can help us when needed.
  • stores stocked with all kinds of useful and decorative things.
  • our garden. 
  • the seasons of all kinds (Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall; seasons of life such as childhood, parenting, etc; and the seasons of joy and sorrow all in their God appointed times).
  • the beauty of His creation...plants, animals, etc. in all their variety, color and wonder.
and the list could go on and on.... 
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! 

hmmm, is it okay to list more than five things?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shopping Spree

Hi there...just a very quick post today to let you know (if you are interested) about a fantastic Christmas sale going on over at Desiring God Ministries.  There are a handful of authors that I return to over and over again, and John Piper happens to be one of them.  I heartily encourage those with the means to go on a shopping spree while so many resources are greatly reduced in price (for your own edification, or to give as gifts).

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Compassion's reward

"Compassion is being moved by the plight of another, coupled with action to help him or her." - Paul Tripp

There are times I lay open opportunities on my blog for my readers to exercise some compassion.  And from what I overhear, the responses range everywhere from annoyance (ugh, another plea) to joy.  There will be no plea today (but not because there are a lack of opportunities).  Today I am bubbling over with happiness and want to share some pics I saw for the first time yesterday with you.

Let me set them up first.  Over a year ago, my friends Joe and Rachel were moved by the "plight of another" and began, with only enough money for the application fee, to take steps of action to make one less orphan in the world.  This child, though still nameless and faceless to them, began to grow in their heart and they prayed for her; filled out trees worth of paperwork for her; submitted themselves to the rigors of a home study for her; raised funds through blood, sweat and tears for her; and committed themselves to loving her, providing for her, and protecting her for the rest of their days. 

But this is not just a tribute to Joe and Rachel's compassion.  They wouldn't want that anyway...they'd want all the glory to go to the One who is most worthy of all our praise.  They have gone about this journey prayerfully, entrusting themselves and the child in their heart to the One who knows ALL the faces and names.  And this One, the Living God, raised up a small army of compassionate people who would come alongside Joe and Rachel.  We started praying for them and the child God knew by name, laboring alongside them for this child, sacrificing and giving financially to them, and helping in other ways as able. 

God was (and is) at work.  For those of you who are annoyed by the opportunities laid out there to show some compassion, be encouraged to not miss out the next time (by the grace of God, we can all grow in this arena)...and for those of you who responded in this story with joy, let your joy be increased as you see what God has done and allowed you to be a part of:

Friends from church praying for them before they left for Africa:
The Walser family (eager to grow by one)
 Joe and Rachel, packed and ready to go on a very long flight
 This is Abby...God knew her face and name
and He knew she needed a family.
He put it into Joe and Rachel's heart to add her to theirs.
And YESTERDAY, in reality, God added Abby to the Walser Family!
What do you think?  Compassion has a price, but it also has reward.
And we can NEVER out-give God.
Compassion is a win/win operation of God be all glory!

We get the privilege of being a part of this!  Happy tears are flowing here!  And yet, Joe and Rachel may have the toughest stretch of their efforts still ahead of them.  Please join me in praying for them as the Lord brings them to your mind.  The Ethiopian program made some changes this past year and now requires two trips...this is their first.  They have met precious Abby and begun the bonding process, passed court and obtained legal parental status, but now they will be required to leave until the end of next month when they can return to bring her home (hopefully Christmas Day).  Talk about tearing your heart out.  Yes, compassion has a price to pay and sometimes you keep paying.  They will be reminding themselves that God has a plan in all of this, and He does.

This story overflows from His greater story.  Our Father had compassion on us in our desperate need.  We were traitors, erecting our own little kingdoms in opposition to His.  While we were shaking our fists in His face, He pitied us and sent His Son to bear the punishment due to us for our rebellion against Him.  Amazing!  His Son (Jesus) came willingly, lovingly, compassionately to rescue us, redeem us, and claim us for Himself.  Talk about a price to pay!  He had to bear the infinite wrath of God to claim us (the equivalence of an eternity in hell) ...think on that the next time you think the price is too high for adoption.  When we adopt, we're imitating the Father...of course there will be a price (financial, emotional, blood, sweat, tears, the whole shebang, but nothing compared to what Christ bore for us). We cannot even begin to fathom fully His compassion, but we can rest in it and rejoice as only rescued ones can.

Jesus returned to the Father, leaving us behind for a season to prepare a place for us, and will one day return to bring all who belong to Him home to be with Him forever.  I long for that day!  Do you? We haven't forgotten Him and we cling to His promise to return as we live out these in-between days by faith.  Little Abby won't forget Joe and Rachel either, and knowing of her longing can remind the rest of us to long all the more for our homecoming, the day when we can see Jesus face to face and be with Him forever.  The Walser's are living out a picture of the gospel story, and the heart that God rips out of them as they have to leave little Abby behind for a season will be replaced, I believe, with one that can hold even more love in it for the glory of our great God and King.

We're told in Isaiah 53:11 that Jesus 
"shall see the labor of His soul, and be SATISFIED." 
Compassion has a price, but it also has reward.

Shubins and Walser boys celebrating Abby's adoption

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Marls

Are there people in your life that you love dearly and that you would do whatever you could for?  One such person for me is my niece Leah.  And she must love me too because she is always helping me out (like when I had surgery and she came to live with me for A WEEK to take care of my then two little girls, or like ALL the times she's been there to babysit, or like when I decided to do some garage sales last summer to benefit friends who are adopting and she came over to pitch in ALL DAY LONG, etc.).  This is Leah (to the right of myself and my daughter MJ):
and this is her hubby and firstborn son (she's expecting child number two...yeah, yippee, and praise be to God!):
Ryan has a couple of brothers, and one of them (Ken) along with his wife (Amanda) reached the decision to grow their family by adoption recently.  And amazingly enough, before they could really put together a plan, they were chosen by a birthmom (a situation of someone knowing someone) who is due to give birth in late December.  Wow!  That's coming up fast.  There are a lot of hoops to hop between now and then, and in a hurry!

Leah brought Amanda over to my house a couple of weeks ago to brainstorm the to-do list and fund-raising ideas.  We had a blast!  Now I not only love Leah, I love Amanda!  It didn't hurt that Leah had shared her own esteem of her beforehand, but what a joy it was to begin getting to know Amanda for myself.  So what started out as a "do something for Leah" deal proved to be the pathway to a new friendship with built in opportunity to help another fatherless one be grafted into a Christian family...THIS is right up my alley folks!

Meet Ken and Amanda Marl
I'm telling you all this because I KNOW many of my readers live in Oregon and TOMORROW the Marl's will be having a huge indoor garage sale/bake goods/raffly sort of event in Oregon City to help raise funds quickly for their adoption and I want everybody who can to come to it.  Here's a link with the address and more info. 

If you don't live in Oregon or you just can't come, please get acquainted via her new blog, follow their journey and begin to keep them in your prayers.  Thank you to all my bloggy friends!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seventeen Years

Picture a church full of family and friends.  What a day it was!  So many sweet memories.  Mike and I spoke our vows to each other before God and man as we eagerly entered the covenant of marriage.  It has been 17 good, grace-filled years!

I remember standing at the alter overcome by the thought that THIS MAN was REALLY going to marry ME.  Did he know what he was getting himself into?  Nope.  But he understood the vow he made and has been faithful.   Day after day, he prays with and for me; reads the Word of our God with me; provides for me; makes love with me, guards and protects me; laughs with me; dreams with me; cries with me; labors with me; and diligently cares for me in every way (and on top of all that, he's a fantastic father to our three children).  I am not worthy, but I am thankful.  I'm thankful not only to Mike, who I am so very happy to share my life with, but also to the One who holds us together and is always drawing us closer to Himself. 
Here are some quotes I like that ring true on marriage from Paul David Tripp's book, What did you Expect?...we are humbled by God's grace in our lives and look forward to serving Him joyfully as our King for the remainder of our days.

"If marriage is a flawed person living with a flawed person in a fallen world, and if the war for control of our hearts still rages, then we cannot and must not quit seeking God's help for our marriage.  This side of heaven there is nothing more important for our marriage than to pray without ceasing.  There is never a moment in our marriage when we are not in need of the rescuing, enabling, delivering grace of the Redeemer. There is never a moment when we do not need His wisdom, strength, and forgiveness. There is never a time when we have grown up enough that we no longer need His mercy.  This side of heaven we will never graduate from the school of grace."  pg 249

 "It is only a God of love who will ever be able to change a fundamentally self-oriented, impatient, demanding human being into a person who not only desires to love but actually does it.  There is a word for this in the Bible -- grace."  pg 258

"Real unity begins when a husband and wife quit trying to be sovereign over their lives.  Real unity begins when a husband and wife quit trying to set the agenda for their marriage and begin, in practical everyday ways, to pursue God's agenda together.  Real marital unity begins when a husband and wife quit being kings and begin to willingly and joyfully submit to the plans, purposes, and call of the same King. The more each one individually loves and serves the King of kings, the more they will be drawn together, sharing one dream and its practical implications for their everyday life together.  Prayer reminds you of a King greater than you and a kingdom better than your own." pg 260

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Thank you again for all the interest in the book giveaway.  I'm already plotting which book to give away next, so stay tuned.  For those of you who read yesterday's post and prayed, Johanna did indeed labor and the precious fruit of her hard work was the safe delivery of Victoria Faith...thank you for your prayers.  Now you can dance for joy or eat some ice cream to celebrate in their honor!

The other good news I get to share today is that our friends, the Walsers, are fully funded now to complete their adoption of little Abby.  Believing God was calling them to walk this road, they used their grand total of $100 to send in an application to adopt from Ethiopia, trusting that He who calls will indeed make provision.  God loves little Abby, a four year old orphan living in Ethiopia. And He loves the Walsers.  And He loves us.  God is busy grafting Abby into the Walser family here in America and all the while touching the lives of many of us who have been given the incredible privilege of being a part of this story that He is writing.   Rachel wrote a wonderful post telling it from her vantage is well worth the few minute jaunt over to her blog to read.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Whose name was drawn?

Happy Monday to you all.  A few days ago, we awoke to the news that a friend of ours had given birth to healthy twin boys...their sweet pictures brought happy tears to my eyes. David and Rose, we're praising God with you for Adam and Oliver! 
The next morning I woke up to a FB message from one of my nephews that his family is expecting their fourth baby to be born in cool is that?  

Saturday I had the pleasure of having a soon-to-be-adoptive mommy at my house to talk about how we might help her and her hubby get through all the hoops and fund-raising quickly...I love love love these opportunities! 

Our news this morning doesn't exactly compare to the wonders of new babies, but we are still happy to announce the winner of our latest giveaway (a book written by Greg Lucas titled: Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace).   The proofreader in me had to ignore a few typos (so if that sort of thing bugs you like it does me in published works, at least you are forewarned), but with that itty bitty disclaimer, I heartily recommend it. The content of this book is a 100+ pages is beautiful encouragement and well worth the read.  It will be my pleasure to give a copy to.....

Congratulations Johanna.  As fun as winning a giveaway is, I hope that later today I can rejoice with you over way better news than this.  Readers, please join me in praying for Johanna today because she thinks she just may be in labor to bring forth the newest member of their family!  WOO we celebrate giveaways and babies, let's thank the Lord for the day He's graciously giving and live it for His glory.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday

November is the official "National Adoption Month" and today is "Orphan Sunday", a day for raising orphan awareness in the sphere's of influence God has placed us.  If you know me very well at all, or have read my blog for very long, you know I don't wait for Orphan Sunday to roll around to plead the cause of the fatherless.  But in honor of today, and with prayers asking God to move in the hearts of His people to unite us and equip us to "visit the widow and orphan in their distress," here are a few links I'd like to share with you:

First, I could give you overwhelming statistics or I could point you to an incredibly easy opportunity to make a difference in the life of one child. Let's start easy. For the whole month of November, is featuring the Mayernick family and for every comment left at this link, $2 will be donated to offset the expense of adoption.  PLEASE take a second to leave a comment and spread the word.  You might think $2 isn't worth your time, but look at it this way.  Everyone who reads this times zero is still zero, but if all my readers take less than five minutes of their time to leave a comment, and pass the word, it could multiply amazingly and at the end of the day, you got to play a small part in this story of God's grace.  This is what it means to work do what you can, I do what I can, and together we make a difference in lives that are eternal.

My friend Rachel, gifted with words, captured the heart of the issue better than I ever could here. Do yourself a favor and read what she has to say.

Next, my friend Erica beat me to writing what I wanted to write about simple ways we can help and did a fabulous job as she so often does, so I'll keep my post short (or at least shorter than it might have been) and send you to hers.

But I can't leave you entirely yet...I've mentioned these families before, a handful of friends of mine who are at various places in the adoption process, friends who love the Lord and want to open their hearts and homes to more children via seems good to mention them again today.  Please pray for these friends of mine, and if the Lord leads you to help them financially to raise what is still needed to complete these adoptions they each mention how that can be done on their respective blogs.
David and Erica Shubin (adoption advocates extraordinaire, and adopting again)
Steve and Angie Shubin (yes, they are related...David and Steve are brothers...they are friends of mine from church and we're so so so excited to see them begin this journey of adoption)
Joe and Rachel Walser (they get to go meet their new 4 year old daughter in Ethiopia THIS MONTH...woo hoo!  Then they will return, Lord willing, in December to bring her home...let's help little Abby get home!)
Jon and Melissa Maser (Melissa is in the process of telling their story on her blog...feel free to pour yourself a cup of coffee and "get to know her" a bit).

True Religion from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Lord, teach us to pray"

In the days that Jesus walked on the earth, His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.  How did He answer? Let's take a look:

Luke 11:1-13
     Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."  So He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one." 
      And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;  for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him';  and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
     So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" 

He gives the example of what has become known as The Lord’s Prayer. He tells a story of a friend in need going to a friend at midnight and persisting in his request until it is granted. And by implication, He instructs His disciples to ask the Father to give the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus packed a whole lot into His answer.  There is SO MUCH here to chew on.  For starters, let's ask ourselves:

    Are our prayers concerned with the coming/increasing of God’s kingdom on earth?  Do we think and pray globally?

    Do we ask for the Holy Spirit?  How can we even begin to understand His Word, which is spiritually discerned, without His Spirit teaching us?  How can we bear the fruits of the Spirit without the Spirit?

    Does a love for God and neighbor consume our prayer life? 

    When we ask for something, is it to the end that God’s name would be glorified or do we just want to be stronger, richer, feel better, be more comfortable, etc. for our own sakes?  Do we treat God like a Genie in a bottle?  Or is the heart-cry of our prayers as we lay our requests before Him that the name of our Father in heaven be hallowed?

    Are we filled with praise to God in our prayers, thanking Him for who He is and what He has done?  

    Are we persistent?  

    Jesus has risen and all authority in heaven and earth have been given to Him. Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever, we can be sure that His words spoken long ago can continue to answer us when we ask Him, "Lord, teach us to pray."  And because all authority in heaven and earth belong to Him, we should all be asking with eager hearts.

    Lord, teach me to pray.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    "Which window do I trust?"

    A few days ago, my kids and I were driving along a stretch of road that was bordered on one side by a cliff right up next to our lane, while the view from the opposite window overlooked a river.  One of my daughters was attempting to stare out the cliff-edged window and asked if I was speeding.  Finding it advantageous while driving to focus my attention on the traffic needs of the moment, I was unaware of where she was looking, but I assured her I wasn't speeding and asked her curiously why she asked.  She told me she was watching the cliff zoom by at lightning speed and seemed sure that I must be.  I recommended she look out the opposite window to see if it presented the same speeding feeling (knowing it wouldn't because things in the distance appear to move more slowly than those things up close).  After a moment of thoughtful silence, she questioned..."which window do I trust?"

    It always strikes me funny the kinds of opportunities God lops into our laps to share the importance of His trustworthy Word with our kids..."which window do I trust?" led right into a discussion among the whole carload of us about how our eyes will often deceive us and how we need something dependable to rely upon.  In the car, assuming the instrument is functioning correctly, we rely on our speedometer.  In life, we'll be pulled by this, that, and the other thing at different speeds and different directions.  We NEED God's Word to direct us in every way.   If we don't have time for Him, we can be sure we are going too fast and in the wrong direction.  We make time for what we value.  Have you ever heard anyone say "I don't need God, I can take care of myself?"  Do you think this way in any area of your life?  His Word tells us in truth that we cannot make our heart beat a single time...oh, we need Him alright...we are 100% dependent upon God.  Let's freely admit it, humbly depend upon Him, and joyfully travel the road He has us on with His Word as the light that leads us along the way.   Don't trust "windows", trust Jesus...He won't steer us wrong.

    P.S.  Only a few more days to enter my give-away drawing for Greg Lucas' hot-off-the-press book, Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace.  For the easy-to-enter details, go here.  We'll draw a name on Monday, the 8th. 

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Another giveaway: the book Wrestling with an Angel

    Today I want to introduce you to someone named Greg Lucas who I've never "met", but have enjoyed learning from via his blog.  God graciously grafted 4 children into Greg's family through adoption, one of whom is severely disabled.  He also blessed Greg with the beautiful ability of seeing His grace in the midst of difficulties, and the giftedness to write about it in a way that encourages many readers to walk in that grace wherever God has us.  

    To give you a taste of Greg's writing, you can find one of my favorite posts by him here.  But my guess is that you won't want to stop with that one.

    Hot off the press in October was a book that he wrote from a compilation of his blog posts, and because I suspected it would be good, I ordered 3 copies.  One of those was for me (and let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed), one is for a friend, and one I'd like to offer to one of you in another giveaway.  The book's title is Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace

    Here is how you enter:
    1. Become a follower of this blog (if you are not already).
    2. Tell me you'd like to be in the drawing (you can email me, FB me, or leave a comment below).
    You're in. It is THAT easy!

    To get your name in the bucket more than once, you can:
    *  Facebook about it. For each DAY that you do it (and you let me know you did), you get an entry.
    *  Blog about our giveaway (again, let me know that you did this).

    We will aim to pick the winner on November 8th so you have one week folks.