Thursday, December 29, 2011

Perfect Peace

If your life is anything like mine, you've probably spent the last week or two among a lot of family.  The holidays usually bring about time with family members who you otherwise might not see on a regular basis.  For us, we had my family here, and then, a few days after they left, we headed out of town to spend time with my husband's family.  In the last week and a half, we have seen more than twenty family members--though the majority of the time was spend with our parents, siblings, and in-laws.

I can't speak for your family, but in our families, we have a lot of different opinions and viewpoints among us.  Some of us are very black and white while others of us see every color of the rainbow; some of us value presents while others value presence.  We are a mixed bunch.

However, as I've pondered this time, and as I've talked with a couple other family members about this, I've been reminded of Psalm 133:1 which says, How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!  

We aren't all alike--God didn't create us to be cookie cutter versions of each other.  He designed us with free will, with differing opinions and varying interests...and yet, He also spoke throughout the Bible about living in unity with one another.

He doesn't say we all need to agree on everything.  He doesn't even say we have to like all of the choices someone makes or even like how they treat us.  But, He does say in Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

This isn't always easy for me.  There are things people do (family or not) that just flat out make me mad.  Accusing me of behaving in a way that I wouldn't, not respecting me, treating another member of my family poorly--those things make me a little crazy.  I do not like to see injustice, and unfortunately I am quick to feel entitled to "fixing that."  But God tells us that justice is His, and I have to trust that He will take care of it.  It's not my job to tell others what they've done wrong; I don't need to take matters into my own hands.  The God of the Universe is quite capable of handling it, and I know that His ruling is always just and right (as seen through the redeeming grace of Jesus) whereas mine would too often be based on a momentary feeling or hurt.

As you finish out this year, will you focus with me on the unity that God desires?  Will you willingly lay aside the hurts others have caused and "turn the other cheek" so that you can be Jesus to your family (and others)?  I know it won't be easy,--it will probably be really hard at times--and I know I, for one,will probably mess it up sometimes, but I want to live at peace with others.  I want to finish this year the way I want to live out next year--at peace with everyone.  Will you join me?  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Solid Ground?

I went this week with my family to our family ranch in west Texas.

We go often this time of year, mostly because it is deer season.  My husband and sons LOVE to hunt and be outdoors.  It is a fun time - they hunt, we ride four wheelers, the kids run and play outside.  When it gets dark, and we are all back inside, we play games. 
It is great to get away for a few days from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.  We have limited phone access and no internet, so we really do "get away."

This trip brought a couple of challenges as we left to go out there and as we came back. 

The morning we were to leave, I woke up with a severe case of vertigo. I had felt it some the night before - the rooms seemed to be spinning as I was laying in bed.  It did not subside when I got up, so I made a trip to the Urgent Care clinic.  We were headed to an area where it is a bit of a drive back to "civilization" and I didn't want to get out there and have more problems.  Luckily, it was diagnosed as a virus and was given some medication in case it got worse.  It cleared up by the next day.

The night before we were to leave to come home, it began raining (yay - we have been in such a drought, it is badly needed).  What we didn't count on was the mess it would make of the ranch road.  We have about a 2 mile drive from the ranch house to the paved road.   The kind of "dirt" is a clay like substance. When it got wet, it was like driving on ice.  One of our vehicles, pulling a trailer, got stuck several times and it took them 45 minutes to make the 2 mile trip.  As we left a little later, it seems like we slid all the way down the road - sometimes the car was travelling down the road sideways. 

Both of these events reminded me of how uncertain things in life can be.  We often feel like the world is spinning out of control.  Or we seem to slip and slid our way through situations.  Events can leave us feeling like there is no place to get firm footing.

But I do have a place to stand on solid ground.  I do have hope that my world is not out of control. 

I am so thankful that Christ came to this earth at Christmas to give me that stability.  That even as a baby in a manger, He righted my world.
I pray that you also have this hope and stability.  That you know my Saviour that can give you firm footing and help you get back on your feet.

And as you head into 2012, I challenge you to help others find their way in this unstable world.

Happy New Year!

"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the music. I confess I am one of those people that starts listening to Christmas music on November 1. Music has always been in my heart. It is part of my heritage, the legacy handed down to me from generations of musicians and singers.

Actually, more accurately, we are loud singers, singing praises to our Lord with all our heart & soul. I have many childhood memories of my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, singing in church or in my grandparents' living room, all with big, booming voices.

As an adult, I always enjoyed returning to my parents' church to hear their choir sing. My dad would stand in the center of the back row, and even over the orchestra I could hear his voice.

I missed going to their Christmas program this year, but my sister went. She shared the same experience, and said, "I don't know if his voice is really that strong and loud or if I just know his voice."

Oh, wow! What a wonderful lesson this Christmas! Do you hear your Father's voice?

In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd. He says, "The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice," [John 10:2-5 NIV]. He continues, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me," [John 10:14 NIV].

Do you hear Him and know Him? Will you follow?

Do you hear the Holy Child crying in the manger, crying "I am here?"
Do you hear the Angels singing on high, singing "Come and worship?"
Do you hear the boy in the temple, teaching "I am here doing my Father's business?"
Do you hear Jesus on the seaside, calling, "Come and follow?"
Do you hear Him, teaching, "Love one another as I have loved you?"
Do you hear Christ on the cross, praying, "Father, forgive them?"
Do you hear Jesus on the mountain top, charging, "Go and teach others?"

Over the orchestra, over the music, over all the noise and busy-ness and craziness of this Christmas season, take a minute to stop and listen. Hear God's voice. Hear Him and Know Him.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Stitches! Thank you for joining us in the journey with God. May your Christmas be rich with God's blessings and love.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bread and Stones

Here in the Herod house we celebrate Christmas with many traditions. We have some unique ones! We eat Swedish Pancakes, eat Pepparkrakor and two tone fudge, and light off fireworks, or eat shrimp and barbecue wings,build gigantic sandcastles on the beach, and play corn hole. However, we also include traditional things like sending Christmas cards, opening a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve, getting a new ornament that represents an interest each child had that year, preparing our hearts by doing Advent, and reading the Christmas story on Christmas morning. And of course, we give gifts!!

The other morning I just happened to read the passage in Matthew 7 about our Father giving gifts to us. Many people view God as a spiritual Santa, and we all know that this isn't the case. His ultimate goal is not to grant our wishes and make us happy,but rather to work in our lives to complete the good work He has begun in us. But the fact remains that every good and perfect gift DOES come from Him.

My children begin discussing what they would like for Christmas the first time a Christmas commercial airs in November. They begin to ask. And, they ask. And, they ask. This is how we ought to pray! If I pay enough attention, I notice that they are asking for some of the same things over and over again.I figure out what is really of interest to them. Our prayers to God are as revealing. I try really hard to get those things for my children most of the time. Sometimes, they ask for something over and over and it is NOT in my plan to give it, or in their best interest to receive it. (Celeste wanted an iPhone...not gonna happen!) She liked the IDEA of having an iPhone because she saw an older friend that had one. What I know as her Mom, is that she will reap much more joy from getting that mini Pillow Pet to match her big one! I tend to think about God's gift giving in this same light. He knows the BEST gifts to give.

Effective Prayer
Matthew 7:7-11
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents-if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."

What do your prayers reveal about your desires? What gifts from God do you have to be thankful for today? What way can you give back to him?

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Or Is It?

Is it the most wonderful time of the year?  For many I am sure it is but there are so many that it is not. For some people the holiday season is the hardest time of the year.  With Thanksgiving and Christmas about a month apart that can make it a hard month or so.

If you have a friend or loved one that has gone through a difficult situation this year or even in years past the holidays can easily bring a range of emotions for that person.  Perhaps they have lost their job, lost a loved, gone through a divorce or a variety of other things.

I think we get so busy in our own lives with all the hustle and bustle of the season that we sometimes don't take time to stop, smile and possibly make someones day.

Christmas is not suppose to be about the hustle and bustle and having to be somewhere way too many nights of the week.  Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, our Savior.  We need to let others see Jesus in us at all times and that is at Christmas time too.

This Christmas when you see someone, especially when you are so busy you don't know what to just stop and smile and tell that person "Merry Christmas".   You may never know what it could mean to them.  You may be the only person that really acknowledges them the whole day.  You never know what a second of kindness during this time of the year may mean to so many.

Will you join me this Christmas season and make a conscious effort to slow down and let those around you see Jesus in you.

Merry Christmas to each of you and Happy Birthday Jesus!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

With Love

With a warm cup of coffee in my hand, I glanced at our December calendar and took a deep breath. Then, I decided that today was going to require something more than caffeine. This evening, alone, I have to be in three places nearly all at once. It seems that most days this time of year look the same.


"How did I let it get away from me again?" I think to myself.

Don't get me wrong. It's all good stuff. Still, every year, in the midst of the Christmas crazies, I begin to feel a bit unraveled. And every year, right about now, I begin to reassess how Christmas is going to look for our family. Clearly, I can't do it all. And, if I choose to chase after the insignificant this Christmas season, I will miss the most important thing of all...Christ, himself.

So I am taking a close look at our family calendar and I am desperately trying to scale back our "have to's" in order that we might spend more time celebrating our Savior. The world is fighting back. Hard. Commercials, marketing gifts I can't afford, bombard me and my children throughout the afternoon. Images of the "perfect" Christmas mock me as holiday movies replay on my television. And then there is the decorating. So. Much. Decorating. Still, I am holding my ground. I simply refuse to let Christ be lost in the middle of the chaos.

Over the years, I have placed some simple anchors in place to keep our family grounded in the real reason for the season. Our Nativity, a treasure from my childhood, sits in its usual place in the hallway, so that it might greet us as we walk through the door. Each evening, our family gathers together, if only for a few moments, and we read a Christmas devotional and countdown to the "big day". And every Sunday, we sit at our dining table and light a candle on our family Advent wreath. Still, I long for more. This time of year, my heart desires to look upon Christ and worship him for all that he is and all that he has done.

When I read the Christmas story quietly and simply ponder the beauty of that silent night over 2,000 years ago, I am reminded that Christmas is about just one thing. Big love. Jesus humbly left his throne in Heaven. He came as a baby and was born of a teenage Virgin. Christ, fully man yet also divine, led a sinless life and then offered that life as a sacrifice for me. He took my sin and my place on a Cross, so that I might be reconciled to God. By his sacrifice alone, I have eternal life in the presence of the LORD. It's a free gift from my Savior to me. And he did all of this for love.

So, this Christmas, I will follow the example of my Savior. In the middle of the busyness, I choose to "do everything in love". (1 Corinthians 16:14) As I hustle through the obligations that will not go away, I will take my Jesus with me. This Christmas season, in all I do, with everyone I meet, I choose to show the love of Christ. And while I hope to conquer the items on my "to do" list, I aspire to greater things as well. There is still time to trim the list and make a little more room for my Savior. After all, it is HIS birthday for which we are preparing.

Perhaps, you have a calendar that looks like mine. Maybe you have a list in your head of what you feel "must" be done to make this a "merry Christmas". This year, I challenge you to prayerfully sift through the distractions. You can't do it all. The best part is, you don't have to. This is one Christmas party where you are free to just come and be. For, Christ has already prepared everything that really matters. And he did it, for you, with love.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Christmas Tree...

We put our Christmas tree up yesterday and it was just so much fun!  I tend to be a little "particular" about how things are decorated...and I gave up on the tree about 3 years ago...when we had a little one in the house trying to sabotage help.  :)
And it is actually very liberating!!!  I know...I know...who finds this "task" to be liberating???  It sounds a little cooky, but I really did.  I don't have a theme.  There is no ribbon or tinsel.  There are lights and there are ornaments.  The ornaments are SO VERY sentimental, and they each tell a story.  There are some that have been around longer than my kids!  This makes me want to put them all up myself so they don't get broken, but I hold back on the freaking out and let the kids do it.  And they are so careful and gentle - for the most part!  When needed...there is hot glue.
The tree is lop-sided and crooked.  It is uneven and totally not symmetrical like it should be - trust me...I have major issues with things being "just right".  Ha! are we!!!  We are sometimes a little "off"...and messy...and broken.  But we are just right in the eyes of our God...  Just like our Christmas tree is perfect in my eyes.
Thank you Lord for this time to celebrate and think about the birth of our Savior!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is Jesus Enough?

I've heard it be said (and I've said it myself), "Jesus is enough. Jesus + nothing = everything. Jesus is all I need." And it's true, He should be enough. If I received no other good gift in my life, it would be enough because it would be eternity with Jesus. But I am spoiled.

You see, I've been given a lot of good gifts in my life. From the beginning, God has given me other good gifts, "bonus" gifts if you will. I was raised in a godly family. I was surrounded by people who loved God. I went to a Christian university where I was surrounded by more people who loved Jesus, and who taught me more about what that meant. I married a godly man and I birthed two amazing children. I was allowed to go to South Africa three different times and learn more about reaching the world while also falling in love with a whole different group of people--people who have influenced our decision to grow our family as we now are adopting from Africa.

We now live in an incredible town with more than I could ever ask for. We have great neighbors, schools, sports teams, our church family, and, of course, friends. Nothing beats the friends I've made in the last nine years. And I mean it: NOTHING beats the friends we have here. We have been abundantly blessed.

So, what if God took it all away? Would it still be "enough" for me?

I've been thinking about that this week, and I have to tell you, it's rather unsettling to me. You see, I want Jesus to be enough, but I find myself saying, "but, God....". And I find myself becoming rather pouty at the idea that God might ever take away anything that I'm not comfortable losing. Selfish? Yes. Honest? Yes.

What about you? If God told you today to do something that didn't fit into your plans of what your life should look like, how would you respond? Would you immediately find joy and peace or would you struggle? (Please tell me I'm not the only one who would struggle!)

As I move forward in this Jesus life, I want Jesus to be enough--even though my humanity argues it even as I type it. My spirit wants Him to be enough; my flesh says I want it all. It seems like a battle that may not be reconciled fully until Christ returns or I join Him in Heaven. But, I want to continue to fight the battle. I don't ever want to grow so comfortable that I fail to reach the lost. I don't want to grow so comfortable that I no longer grow.

I want to live the Jesus life, even if it hurts.

Monday, November 28, 2011


As we go through November, I am always thinking of ways to make the upcoming holidays - both Thanksgiving and Christmas - more meaningful for our family.  Now whether or not that always comes to fruition is another story!  My main goal is to focus more on Christ - as He is why we celebrate Christmas.  My secondary goal is to do things as a family.  In the busyness of the Christmas season, it is easy to get caught up in the activities and parties.  All of that will fade, but the memories we make with our families will last forever!
I wanted to take a few minutes and encourage you to find something that works for your family.  It could be something you do once, or something that is repeated every year.  Some may work when you have younger kids, and you may have to change the activity when they get older.  Maybe you need to start a new tradition with your grandkids!  Maybe you need to "adopt" some kids whose grandparents live far away!  Here are a few ideas to get you started - or maybe you have some great things you love to do with your family that you could share with us!

Advent activity or Jesse Tree: Both of these are great ideas to focus on Christ throughout December.  The Advent wreath/candles would probably be better for older kids, while the Jesse Tree could be a great one for younger kids.  Don't stress out if it does not go just as you planned.  Doing something like this over and over really does pay off in the long run! There are also some great books and ornament activities that are just as good  - we have a ornament for all the names of Christ and an explination for each.  This doesn't get done every year, but it is something worth doing!

Christmas programs:  Find out when different churches are presenting their Christmas programs and pick a few to go to as a family.  There are so many GREAT presentations out there, this is a great family outing. When it is over, go out for hot chocolate and talk about your favorite part!

Christmas Eve: Make plans now to attend a Christmas Eve service.  I have found this ALWAYS sets the mood and puts our focus back on Jesus!

Birthday Cake for Jesus: Make a birthday cake/cupcake/cookie for Jesus.  This is something that should be done before ANY presents are opened and, again, brings our focus back to the reason we celebrate.

Christmas cookies: Make and decorate Christmas cookies with your kids/grandkids.  Then share them with your neighbors or take them to an assisted living center/fire station/ police station.

Angel Tree: Adopt a child from the Angel Tree and take your kids/grandkids shopping for that child.  It certainly is a great teachable moment for your kids and a way for them to give to others.

Now for some ideas that are just for fun!

Camping by the Christmas tree: After you have finished decorating the tree, let the kids sleep by the tree for a night.  They will think this is the best thing EVER!  I have to admit, I have never introduced this one at our house, but know several people that make this a daddy/kid event. :)

Christmas lights: I don't know anyone that does not like looking at Christmas lights!  Find out in advance some neighborhoods that have great Christmas lights.  Get your kiddos ready for bed.  Have them go get in the car!!  You might want to have some fun snacks to take in the car.  Then spend an hour riding around looking at Christmas lights and listening/singing to Christmas music.  We have done this a couple of times and our kids think it is great!

Christmas PJs:  One of the gifts our kiddos get every year is new pajamas.  They have always been matching PJs - although I am not so sure that is still going to "fly" with a 10 and 13 year old! They get to open these on Christmas Eve and wear them to bed.  They don't have to be Christmas themed - it is just fun to get new pajamas.

Ornaments: We also get our kiddos an ornament to commemorate the year.  I try to make sure their name and the year is on the ornament somewhere.  These will be the ones I give to them when they are out on their own.

As I said before, you have to find what works for your family.  I hope these have given you some new ideas, or inspired you to come up with some new ones of your own (we would LOVE to hear from you).  Treasure this time with your kids and/or grandkids! 
And don't lose focus of why we celebrate. Our God gave US the greatest gift ever when He sent His precious child to earth to be our Saviour.  Jesus was born in the shadow of the cross - for He came to earth as a baby so He could die in our place.  We can spend eternity with God because of His sacrifice.  If you would like more information about this, I urge your to call your local church or FBC McKinney (972-542-0041).  There will be someone there that would love to talk to you.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crazy Love

Have you read this book?  This fall my Bible Study group decided to read this book rather than do one of our normal studies.  As we were looking into it we realized there was a workbook and DVD's that go with it.

We are not finished with this book yet as we just went through chapter 5 this week but let me tell you, this book will make you really think!  It is amazing how when we go back and read scripture like we have never read it before what we read.  I want to start reading scripture like I have never seen it before...even if it is a scripture that I have memorized. This book really makes you examine your walk with God.

I have not read the whole book but I think this would make a great Christmas gift for someone.  It is one of those books that I think you could read many times and get something out of it every time.

If you have Crazy Love I would love to hear what you thought about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Child Of God

For the past few weeks, I have been studying the Hebrew names of God. One of my favorites is "Abba" which means "God the Father". It literally translates into the word Daddy". Furthermore, I was surprised at the revelation in my Bible study class that Christianity is the only religion where God reveals himself as our Father. The Bible assures us, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18NIV)

Because of what Christ did for us, we have been adopted into God's divine family. Scripture teaches that "even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure." (Ephesians 1:4-6 NLT)

Hear the truth about whose you are and understand the depth of God's love for you.

He is your Father.

He loves you.

He chose you.

He adopted you.

He approves of you.

You bring him pleasure.

You are His child.

Truly, our enemy has been on the assault against fathers for decades, for he knows the power associated with such a role in a child's life. Too many children are growing up without a father. Some of us go our entire lives without knowing the unconditional love of an earthly father. For many, the absence of a father leaves an empty place that leaves us continually yearning.

Fortunately, we are never alone for God claims himself as the "father to the fatherless". (James 1:26) As your Father, he will not fail you. And "just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him." (Psalm 103:13). He is Abba. God the Father. And He loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a wonderful earthly father. Count your blessings. But if you are amongst the multitudes who are wandering through this life fatherless, take heart. Lift your eyes to Heaven and are a child of God.(1 John 3:1)

Monday, November 7, 2011

What a coincidence!!!

As we celebrated Orphan Sunday this weekend, I was reminded of several things, but one that I couldn’t shake is how God seems to work things out so…PERFECTLY.  It just seems to come so naturally for me to think for a moment how “neat” something is and then move on…without really thinking about it.  I may even think…what a coincidence that is…but that would just be crazy.  I truly believe that there is no such thing.  What some people call coincidence actually is just God’s awesome, perfect planning.  And nothing less.

For example:
·      While we were in Uganda adopting our son, we went on a day trip to Jinja to see the beautiful sights.  While we were there we were introduced to another family adopting a little boy.  That little boy is now one of our son’s favorite people.  And their parents…whom we met in Uganda…and who also live in the DFW area…are some of our favorite people too.  Our families have become great friends!
·      We met some friends who have a heart for Africa and orphan care.  We have so much in common and become friends!  Then they decide to commit to moving to Zambia for full time mission work.  They need to rent their house in August.  Our lease on our house is up in August.  We now skype with them from their own living room.
·      We have a little boy who was hungry before we brought him home…like the real kind of hungry.  Today he sat at a table with us at church and helped  find sponsors for children who have no food to eat. 
·      A man shared his heart  about the orphan…and how God is calling each of us to do something.  He is currently waiting for a court date so he can bring his little girl home from Ethiopia.  We then watch a video about a father’s heart and how a father will do anything…travel across the world…to get to his child.  (You will want to watch this video, by the way.  Check out “depraved indifference” by Eric Ludy on youtube.)

These are just a few examples of how God has the most impeccable timing.  It reminds me that we need not worry about the details of this life.  He has it all taken care of for us.  We just need to pray, take one step at a time, and follow His plan for us.  What is God perfectly working out for you…right now?  

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1: 2-4 MSG

The past several months have been challenging for our family. It seems like each "challenge" on it's own has been manageable, and yet when we've had them all happening at once, it has led to a hard season.

One of my husband's co-workers left the company and left an unfilled position in the process. The company is reorganizing, so they are not hiring right now--which means my husband has two people's jobs while only getting paid for the one. To say this is stressful for him feels like an understatement because of the amount of extra work it has added to his life (and the amount of sleep it has taken away from his life!). And I don't know about your house, but in my house, one person's stress can cause an unbalanced household pretty quickly.

Besides his job stuff, we have now been on the wait list for our adoption for ten months. (That is longer than a pregnancy in case you were wondering--ha!) We anticipate possibly another year of waiting. This in and of itself is hard as we long for a daughter we don't yet know, and our biological children pray daily for us to get our call soon (aka our referral). It is difficult enough as an adult to understand why this process takes so long--try explaining it to a 5 and 7 year old as they want their sister here now.

We also have had to deal with the fact that the financial piece of the adoption has left money tighter than it's been since I first became a stay-at-home mom. We know it's all worth it, and we trust God to provide, but it is challenging.

(Aren't you glad you're reading this right now?! Don't you feel encouraged?!)


In the midst of these challenges (and I won't list anymore, as I fear that I will just depress those reading it), God is at work. Let me say it again, God is at work.

We may not see the whole picture (and right now we don't), but God uses trials to mature us and develop us (I love how James 1:2-4 says it in the Message version quoted above.) He does see the whole picture, and He knows the beautiful outcome.

In the midst of our trials, God reminds me:

*Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

*The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

*The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. (Psalm 138:8)

*Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

*We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

I recently heard a quote from Hudson Taylor that says this, "I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done." And though I have no idea what all God is up to in our lives right now, I know that as His children, we are a great work of God. So, though it sometimes feels impossible, and oftentimes feels difficult, we are on our way toward "done." And when I am done, I pray that I have fought the good fight and finished the race in a way such that my Lord will tell me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

It may be hard; it may feel almost impossible, but I don't want to get out of life's challenges prematurely. I want to grow and mature in the Lord until the end of my days. Let's fight the good fight together. As believers, we know we win in the end. These momentary trials are nothing compared to the eternal glory we will one day see.

My hope is in the Lord--no matter what. Will you, too, rest in Him today?

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Can You Do?

Over the last few years, I have had the honor and privilege of walking with several families through the adoption and foster care process.  Most of these have been international adoptions for children with special needs. Some have been foster care situations.  Some have been easier than others.  This prompted me to ask - are we also called to adopt? 

After much prayer and searching, I can honestly tell you that God has not called our family to adopt - domestically or internationally.  He has, however, called us to be a part of adoption. 

I know many of you have heard all you want to hear about adoption.  You are tired of people talking about it, because frankly, you were not called to adopt either.  And if you were not called to adopt, why do we have to keep going over this?  Because He has called you to be a part as well.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

James 1:27  This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

If you are to be a part, what CAN you do?
Adoption is a process and there are many things you can do to help and support those that are called to adopt.
1. Pray.  This is probably the biggest and most important thing you can do for those going through this process.  Pray for wisdom to get through the paperwork.  Pray for all members of their family to understand why they are doing this.  Pray for endurance - for some this is a llloooonnnggg process.  Pray for comfort - things don't always go as we have planned.  Pray for God's perfect timing for adding a new member to their family.  Pray for them to adjust and bond quickly to having a new family member.  Pray for that waiting child - that he or she would feel God's love and comfort and somehow know that his or her forever family is on their way.

2. Serve.  There are many ways you can serve adopting families.  Bring meals to them - just like having a new baby, they have a new family member that needs their love and attention more than anything right now.  Not having to fix a meal would be a burden released.  This could even come in the form of making a meal and freezing it - then delivering it during their waiting or traveling time so they can fix something on their own time table.  Have a "Welcome Home" party or shower.  Families may not really know what they need until they get that child home.  Having a get together, formal or informal, is a great way to support these families.  Offer to take the other kids for a while - take them to lunch with your family or on a playdate.  This will give mom and dad some one on one time with their new child.

3. Give.  Even though domestic adoptions don't have the high costs associated with them that international adoptions do, there will still be some needs come up that the family might or might not have anticipated.  A few extra dollars here and there would be a great help to these families.  You might even consider a gift card to a restaurant, Target, or WalMart.  International adoptions usually have a VERY high financial cost and most families have stepped out in faith that God will provide the funds to proceed.  God does provide - through people like you giving a few dollars.  Support their fundraising efforts.  Spread the word through social media sights and email.  Everyone giving a little will help each person reach their goal.

4.  Love, Accept, and Support.  Whether or not you agree with or understand a family's decision or call to adopt is not really important.  God has called you to love.  Love that family.  Love that child.  Accept their decision as their call from God - because it is their call.  Support them and ask them how you can help.  Show an interest in the process and prepare to be blessed!

As we head into November and National Adoption Month, I challenge you to look around and find ways you can support those who are called to adopt.  It might be a card to let them know you are praying for them.  It might be an encouraging word as you pass in the hall at church.  It might be bringing them a meal.  Whatever you can do, make a difference for that family today!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Self Condemn or Serve Christ

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Last week I wrote on my personal blog that there are times when I feel like I am just not good enough. I'm not a good enough Mom, friend, evangelist, cook. You name it. My shortcomings could change daily, but what is steadfast is the opportunity to fall into a rut of self condemnation.

The verse says it was EVIDENT that Peter and John were uneducated and common. Like, people noticed! Peter and John could very easily have fallen into the trap of self condemnation which would have stifled their voices, but they didn't. And God used them. Greatly. How was this possible? They had been with Jesus.

We don't have to be free from failures, or feel that we need to have all of the answers to be used by God. We shouldn't succumb to self condemnation and deny God the opportunity to use us for His glory- even if that means people might notice our shortcomings! How is this possible? All we really need to do is just be with Jesus.

Some additional food for thought:
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

"God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold, and loving, and sensible.
2 Timothy 1:7

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coming November 4th & 5th

The Fall Women's Retreat is quickly approaching.  This years speaker is Devi Titus.  For more info on how to attend this event go here.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Glory Days

I am writing this on Monday morning. The kids are at school. My husband is at work. The dog is laying at my feet. And I have surveyed the damage of a weekend at home together. Visions of an F5 tornado come to mind as I look around at the mess in my midst. With a sigh, I decide to sit down and enjoy a second cup of coffee before taking on the day. "It's Monday," I think to myself with a smile.

I'm a mom. Most days, you will find me running errands, folding laundry, settling disputes between my kids and chauffeuring them from place to place. After that, I take on the additional tasks of homework, dinner, and bedtime. Whew! It makes me a bit tired just writing all that down! On the surface, these don't exactly appear to be my "glory days". I am not running for office. I am not powerfully influential. I don't receive a paycheck for the work that I do each day. In fact, if I am foolish enough to let the world define my worth, I might feel pretty insignificant.

However, that would be a short-sighted mistake on my part. For God wants me to look at the reach of my life with an eternal perspective. His perspective. He wants me to build a lasting legacy that points to Him in everything I set myself to do. In that, my life brings him glory. Both the menial tasks that fill the hours of my busy days, and the bigger moments that shape and mold the hearts of my children, are opportunities for me to glorify my Heavenly Father.

As a mother of three, and a woman of faith, I have tremendous influence on tomorrow. The way I interact today will shape and mold the hearts of my children forevermore. For a piece of me goes with my kids wherever they may go, both today and far into the future. If I am to see God glorified in a task this big, my heart must be aligned with His. Daily, I must remember that I am the heart of this home. In the quiet of the post morning crazies. In the middle of the afternoon chaos. In the midst of the evening grumpies. I must remember...these are my "glory days".

This is my legacy. Therefore, I must live well, for little eyes are watching and learning in everything I choose to do. It's true for us all. As women of faith, we must remember that we are building tomorrow in what we choose to do today. So, ladies, "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17 NIV) These, are in fact, glory days.

Whether you are serving at home or your responsibilities take you further into the world, you are shaping the future. So, get up. Finish your coffee. And then confront the day with passion and purpose. Believe me, I know it is hard to get too excited about laundry, coupons, or sibling squabbles. Consider this is your chance to build a legacy. So, be the woman God made you to be, smile knowingly to yourself, and then "do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

How God used Africa to change our family...

My husband and I were reflecting recently on how God works.  How He uses places, things, change us.  We have no idea what is going on at the time, but it is pretty great to look back and see what He did.  And why would we go through it, then keep it all to ourselves???  That would be pretty here goes.  :)

Our Uganda story started in 2008 when Josh (firefighter/paramedic, all around everyone’s favorite, nice, funny, sweet guy) felt lead to go on his first mission trip.  Our family was struggling at the time…holding tight to the promises we made to one another, but not enjoying life together.  When I heard that Josh felt lead to go to Uganda…I thought…maybe God would wreck him while he is there.  Not because I didn’t love him, but because I knew he needed to be broken.  We both did…though I wasn’t aware of my need for brokenness at the time.  My hope was that Josh would leave for Uganda and come back a different man.  I wanted it to happen in 2 weeks.  Ha!  When he returned some kind of different, but the same person…I was heart broken.  Though Uganda affected him in a big way his first time there... it wasn’t the way I wanted.  He was able to work with the hospitals and people of Uganda and make a difference in their lives.  It changed him.  But…what we didn’t realize at the time was that the change taking place was only the beginning of a very long, broken, and beautiful journey. 
It was the very next month after he returned that I decided I could no longer live with his alcoholism.  It wasn’t good for our family…and I was done fighting.  So, I hired a lawyer and pursued a divorce I said I never would pursue.  The decision wasn’t one that I took lightly.  I had wanted out for years to be honest.  I struggled with it and fought with it…but felt like it was what needed to be done.  I prayed and pleaded with God and felt like the only way we could reconcile our marriage was if he went to treatment and got real help.  Did I think he would do that?  Of course not!!!  Was I going to tell him that if he went, then I would stay???  Of course not!!!
So, when he called me a couple weeks later to tell me that he had checked himself into an inpatient rehab facility…I was pretty irritated.  I was finally out!  But, I was reminded of my promise to God…and forced myself to be thankful…thinking it wouldn’t last.  When Josh asked me to come to a family session with his counselor, I forced myself to do it.  And when I got there…I saw a different person.  A broken person.  One who really wanted to change and one who felt God move in his life.  A man who was fighting for his life…who wanted to do any and everything he could for GOD and HIMSELF first.  Part of me knew he was different the first time I saw him, but I didn’t want to seem foolish so I told myself to be cautious.  Reluctantly, week after week, I visited with our little girl.  And, week after week I saw the same, new, broken man.  So…I started to take my focus off of him and place it on myself.  What I saw was a broken woman.  One who needed help just as badly. 
After lots of work, prayer, growth, and pain…I was able to surrender my life to the Lord.  A God that I knew very well…and had walked with for a long time prior.  But, until then…He was a God that I was afraid to trust.  I lived life differently now.
After 3 months of treatment, Josh was ready to join the “real world” and get back to work.  He moved into an apartment and we started dating again.  It was so much fun!  Like falling in love with him for the first time.  With counsel and lots of prayer, we renewed our vows on the day he celebrated one year of sobriety.  Josh struggled with the decision to miss going to Uganda again at about the same time.  He felt like the Lord was tugging at him to go back, but he had just gotten hired on with a new fire department and we had a lot of rebuilding to do, so he stayed home and we spent more time together as a family…the 3 of us.  It was a beautiful thing!
With more work, counsel, prayer, and growth we came to realize that our lives were a direct result of the grace of a powerful, amazing, beautiful God.  Slowly, but surely, we lived as much for Him as we could.  And we started to feel called by Him to move forward with growing our family.  After lots of discussion (and more prayer), we decided that the way we would do this is through adoption.  I felt like God wanted us to adopt from another country.  Josh was very sure that it was from our own.  So we prayed for guidance.  And then it was time for the Uganda trip again.  God made it very clear that He wanted Josh to go this time around.  And we did all that we could to make sure it happened.  When he left, he was so excited to see it through his new eyes.  And I like to think that God was too. 
When he left I started to pray.  Not really sure what it was for…but I knew that He had something for him.  When the phone rang and I was literally journaling prayers for Josh…I was awestruck.  I wrote the prayer “Move in Josh so much that he won’t be able to deny what you have for him.”  Not a minute after I put the period on the sentence, the phone rang.  It was Josh…standing at Sanyu Babies Home in Uganda…letting me know that the Lord told him clearly that our next child was in Uganda.  And I knew that he was right!  It was exactly what I thought too!
It wasn’t 4 months later and we were standing in that same babies home preparing to bring our son, Owen, home.  This 4 months was full of twists and turns, pain, fear, trust, and so many other emotions.  God made it crystal clear that Owen was our son and that he always intended it to be this way. 
After my own experience in Uganda…and Josh’s 3 trips…it’s as if a part of our hearts reside there.  We have grown to LOVE this country and it’s people.  Not only is our son from there…but we truly believe that God has used this place to teach us things that we could not have learned anywhere else.  We both hope to go back soon.  We collect medical supplies and ship them to the people of Uganda…to help the people who have helped us so much more than we could ever give them. 
So, as you can probably see…in 2011…our hearts are still being changed and effected by Uganda.  It will forever be a part of our family and our hearts.  We can’t wait for the day we get to take our whole family (whatever that may look like) to this place that has blessed us so much.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Sometimes "church" doesn't happen at church. Tonight I was fortunate enough to go for a run/walk by myself while my husband and the kids were at church (as in the physical building). I had planned to meet a friend, but she wasn't feeling well, and I knew I needed the exercise. So, I went--alone. And really, I think I was a little grumpy about it. I prefer to walk with someone because it makes the time go by so much faster, and I was dreading doing the miles by myself. But, get this, I wasn't alone. You know why? Because as I went around the lake, God joined me. (I mean, really, He was there all along, but I let the world get out of the way enough to allow Him in.)

He spoke to my heart, and though it isn't always easy to hear, I listened. I felt Him asking who I depended on. My thoughts turned to the book I'm reading, Kisses From Katie (which I highly recommend by the way). In the book, Katie talks about returning to America for 4 months after having lived in Uganda for a year. She struggles with her time back in the States, and one of the key things she realizes is how in Uganda everything she did was dependent on the Lord. However, in America, she depended much on herself or those around her. We have so much stuff that it can get in the way of God.

After reading that yesterday, I saw the Truth in my own life today. I thought about how when I am sad, I will oftentimes seek out a friend. I thought about how often I depend on my happiness rather than the joy that is found in Christ alone. I thought about how I depend on myself to get things done rather than relying on the Holy Spirit who lives in me. And though I don't think God calls us to do this world alone, I do think He wants me to find my strength in Him alone. He longs for me--for us--to get away from the clutter that fills our days and to look to Him. He longs for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He promises to be with us, so why do I sometimes act like I am all alone?

If the only thing Christ ever did for me was die for my sins, I have still received the greatest gift ever given. And yet, He blesses me with so much more than that. Why then do I so often blow off the One who has given me everything I could ever need? Why do I find my worth in my spouse, my children, my friends, my church? The Lord is everything we could ever need and more.

And so, my walk became "church" tonight. God reminded me that I can lean fully on Him. He is my refuge, my strength, my strong tower, my rock, my salvation, my peace, my joy....He is everything I need. He is the only One worthy, and I will choose to rely on Him rather than the temporary things of this world. He is my all in all, and on Him I will depend. Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Voice do You Hear?

A few weeks ago, I woke with a start in the middle of the night from one of those super-scary, way-too-real nightmares. I sat there in the dark, too afraid to move, questioning the reality or non-reality of the dream, experiencing pure fear. And I heard in my heart and soul what must have been angels singing, “But the voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of truth says do not be afraid.” Thank you, Lord (and Casting Crowns) for this wonderful song. I immediately felt at peace, recognizing the dream as false. My fears were calmed. I drifted off to sleep, singing those lines over and over again.

I heard the whole song on the radio yesterday. Truthfully, I don’t know that I ever paid attention to all the lyrics. It was just one of those songs that played on the radio enough that the chorus was familiar and comforting. The verses hit a chord with me this time. The first verse:

Oh, what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And He's holding out his hand.

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
You you'll never win.”

I wonder what lies we – as women, wives, moms, friends – are listening to these days. Lies that steal our faith and courage. Lies that poke at us and laugh at us. Lies that leave us shaking with fear, that leave us unable or unwilling to act.

- You’re not good enough.
- You can’t make a difference.
- You’re too busy.
- No one loves you, cares about you.
- You’ve messed up too much.
- You’re all alone.
- You need more (fill in the blank).
- Your opinion doesn’t matter.
- Your small contribution doesn’t matter.
- YOU don’t matter.

Lies. All lies. And there are so many more. What lies are you hearing? Satan is the Father of Lies. His desire is to trip us up, to stop us from looking to God, to remove us from God’s army of mighty warriors.

The chorus of the song:

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story.
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me,
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.

The Voice of Truth is calling out.

- You are my child.
- I love you.
- My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
- I forgive you. Your debt is paid.
- I am all the strength you need.
- I will give you all you need.
- I am enough for you.
- I know you and care for you.
- YOU matter to ME.

Commit to the Lord today (and every day), “Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.” I pray that as you go through your day you can discern the truths, God’s truths, and ignore all the rest.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life...One Puzzle Piece At A Time......

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

Sometimes, life is just not what we thought it would be, is it?  It may not be what we thought it would be but it is the life God has given us and he sees the big picture when we only see very small pieces of it.  Think of it like a puzzle.  Isn't it amazing how you may have 1000 pieces laying on the table and one by one they all start fitting together and then you have an awesome picture at the end.

We never know how many pieces there are in our puzzle of life.  One by one the pieces fit together.  I think we sometimes try to force a piece of the puzzle to fit somewhere that it doesn't and then we are kind of stuck until we take that piece out and put the right piece in and let God do with our life what He wants to do.

Think of all the different puzzle pieces in your life.  Your family, friends, work, church, situations you have been through, and the list goes on and on.

Are you trying to make pieces work that don't?  What a comfort knowing that God is in control of our life and he can carry us through any situation if we let Him.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Forget Me Not

If you were a fly on my wall on a typical morning before school, you would hear the following...

"Got your lunch? Your homework? Your cell phone?"

Like many other preoccupied teenage boys, my son is forgetful.It's not his fault. In fact, I am sad to admit that he most certainly inherited this trait from his dear mother. Still, each day, we go through a checklist of tasks before and after school so that nothing important is left forgotten.

Like any other dutiful mom who is memory impaired, I have tried to pass on tricks to assist my son with his affliction. We make lists. Use an academic planner. And I confess, I even sometimes resort to good old fashioned nagging.(A technique proven to be completely ineffective I might add) Still, he remains forgetful.

Many of us are...

We forget God's love.

We forget God's promises.

We forget God's character.

We wake up, the world dark all around us, and we forget.

But what if we made a pledge to ourselves to NO LONGER forget? How would our present circumstances appear differently if we remembered the truth in God's word?

Never forget...

We are chosen. (You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." John 15:16)

Dearly loved. ("I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me." Proverbs 8:17)

Secure. ("For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39)

And God is FOR us!
("And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28)

He remembers us in our darkest moments and leads us into His light. ("The Lord remembers us and will bless us." Psalm 115:12 NLT)

While our enemy attempts to lure us into desperation with fear and lies, we are empowered by God's unshakable truth. So today, I must make a choice. Rather than allow my challenges to tell me who my God is, I must choose to look up and remember. Despite how circumstances appear today, I "will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me." (Psalm 103:1-2 TLB) For He is worthy of remembrance.

As a beloved daughter of the King most high, I must pause and remember whose I am. He is the great "I Am". The LORD of Lords. Almighty God. And He will forget me not.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Afraid of the Dark...

I was doing my “Mommy duties” (can’t remember exactly which one) when I tuned into what the kids were watching on PBS.  It was a show that was all about not being scared of the dark.  They had all the kids go around the classroom and observe what they saw.  The backpacks were on the shelf.  The fish was in his bowl.  The board was there, and the chalk.  All the usual things were in their usual places.  She then turned off the light and asked them what was now in the classroom.  The kids, of course, walked around and felt the backpacks, fish bowl, board, chalk…and you get the point.  Everything was the same.  Lights on or off…exactly the same.  So, there isn’t really anything to be afraid of, right?
It struck me immediately after hearing them talk about it…us adults are afraid of the “dark” too.  I know that this is something I am consistently telling myself to overcome.  My dark is the future…the unknown…what I am waiting for…the offer…the answer…the hope.  It is SO VERY EASY to get anxious about what we don’t know.  The “what if” can really overcome us.  We often think of the worst case scenario…though that isn’t often what really happens anyway. 
Why are we worried?  Don’t we have a God who lives in the light?  We don’t need the light to see what is happening…if we trust that God sees it and that He will take care of us.   Our awesome (I use that word intentionally AWEsome), all-knowing, powerful, thinks-of-it-all God…loves us more than we are able to comprehend.  And He tells us in His word that He will never forsake us.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  HE KNOWS.  He is bigger than darkness.  He overcomes the future, the present, even the past. 
So…if we can teach our children that things are the same whether we can see them on not…that we need not fear because it is OK…then shouldn’t we do the same?  Because it is truth.  We need not fear.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In My Seat

As we near September 11, many of us find ourselves thinking back to where we were that morning in 2001. I was a middle school teacher at the time, and my classes were doing research in the library that day, so I was standing in the library watching it on TV as it happened. My sister-in-law lived in New York at the time, and my thoughts immediately turned to her as I tried to remain calm for my students while checking in with my family. It was a day none of us will forget, but for this man in the video below, it was a day when someone "took his place."

He does an amazing job of not only telling us how September 10-11 played out for his life, but also explaining how Someone else has taken the place for all of us. This video is a little long (15 minutes), but it was worth every minute of it--not merely to remember September 11, but to think about the One who died for each one of us. Christ, the One and Only, took the place that we deserve and did what we could never qualify to do--He saved us from certain eternal death. I will be forever grateful....

*Thanks to Pastor Richard for posting this video yesterday on Facebook.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Parenting...There Is An App For That!

I have really been enjoying this new series started by our pastor. This past week was so relevant to where I am in life right now! I desire more than anything to train up my children in the way they should go. It certainly is challenging!

There is one website in particular that I have been using a lot lately, and I thought I would share it with you now. It has really helped me! It provides Scripture, object lessons, parent prayers, kids prayers, and activities that focus on character traits for which we all strive. I hope you find it helpful as well. I especially like the prayers that are written for the parents. I'd love to hear your feedback about it if you decide to use it as well. Go check it out!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adventures and Lessons in Motherhood...

Being a Mom has been the most amazing blessing I have received.  It has also been the most difficult thing I have ever done.  I guess that makes sense…I mean…I want to do this right!  I love my children more than I can even begin to explain, and I don’t want to mess them up.  Can you relate?
So...I will be real..and go ahead and admit it…I…worry…sometimes.  Am I doing this the way I am supposed to?  Why did I yell like that?  Will they become who the Lord wants?  Am I getting in the way?  Why the familiar “Mommy guilt” feeling?  Am I careful with my words?  Do I build them up?  Do I pray for them enough?  I could go on forever…really.
I spend SO MUCH time thinking and worrying…analyzing…that I don’t notice what God is using them to teach me.  Isn’t God capable of taking care of them?  He has shown Himself worthy over and over.  So…I have decided that I am going to do something different.  Instead of spending time worrying…over thinking…and occupying my thoughts with junk, I am going to thank God for the priceless, miraculous, life changing things I have learned from Him through them.  I don’t think I can possibly fathom them all…but I can certainly appreciate a lot more.
First…my sweet Gracie…4 and a half, biological…beautiful, freckled, full of life, little girl. 
  • ·      Control does NOT belong to me.  Things can go wrong in pregnancy (and life) and there is not a thing we can do about it.  BUT, God is bigger than the human body. 
  • ·      Trust that God will take care of His child.  Gracie is His first and on loan to me.  God loves her more than I ever can.
  • ·      When my Mom smiles and says that God has a good sense of humor…she knows what she is talking about.  Strong-willed Mommy = Strong-willed baby…toddler…and hopefully it stops there.  J
  • ·      Prayer changes things.  Our God is mighty to save.  If we give Him our life...He will use us.  Mold us.  Teach us.  Show us where to go.
  • ·      Love isn’t really a word that can be explained…or described.  The love I have for her…is SO deep…I can’t even understand it.
  • ·      Most Moms feel the same way as me and struggle with a lot of the same things…but don’t always talk about it.  Why is that???
  • ·      Sometimes we have to go through hard times and so do our kids.  But, God is there the whole time.  I don’t always understand why things happen, but I trust that there is reason.  And I find it incredibly important to remember that it could always be worse.
  • ·      It is SO VERY IMPORTANT to laugh.  On those days where you are counting down the minutes until bed time…laugh…it really does help sometimes.
  • ·      Coffee is a gift from God.  Really.

And then there is Owen…just turned 3, adopted from Uganda…smile that could light up anyone’s heart, strong, inspiring, handsome little boy…
  • ·      Boys really are different.  They dump things out, and crash things into other things.  They are loud and kinda smelly.  But…so gentle with Mommy and  those times are cherished that much more.
  • ·      A child is not conceived only in the belly.  Owen has a Mom who carried him for 9 (or so) months.  I’ve never met her and never will.  But, I love her.  Without her…our family wouldn’t be right.  And he fits in OUR family perfectly.  Like he has always been here. 
  • ·      Being a Mommy is about taking a deep breath, apologizing, and starting over sometimes.  It is OK to not be perfect.  It is OK to make mistakes.  We all do it. 
  • ·      We have too much stuff.  It gets in the way and takes my focus off of what really matters.  A trip to Africa will teach you so much…but that is for another post.
  • ·      Adopted children take after their adoptive parents.  My husband and Owen have the SAME sense of humor…from the moment we met him.  God is so crafty.
  • ·      Life isn’t supposed to be easy.  It is actually kinda hard.  But, there is growth in those hard times.  It isn’t fun…but it makes us better.  And the gift is finding joy in those hard times.  Because IT IS THERE! 
  • ·      Eye contact, feeding, touching your child’s face, telling them how much you love them, holding them, listening to them…builds strong bonds.  You would think this is a given…but it isn’t always.  There is no over doing it. 
  • ·      It is OK to forget everything.  It is OK to be walking down the hallway and forget where you intended to end up.  This is normal when life is hectic and a bit crazy.  Happens to the best of us. 
  • ·      Espresso…also a gift straight from above!

The list here can go on and on forever too.  Some things we learn rank much higher than others.  Some are funny.  Some are life lessons we can’t live without.  The variety is so perfect.  They are useless lessons, though, if we don’t stop and allow them to marinate in our thought life.  We have to appreciate them.  Thank God for them.  And then, live as if they matter.  What are you learning from your children?