Saturday, October 9, 2010

Into Obscurity

"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

The funny thing about doing "good deeds" is that our motives can get shifted, even just a tad. Sometimes it may be pure and righteous motives; but introduce an applause, a high-five, a wow-you-did-an-awesome-job...and it can tilt our motives. Sometimes we ourselves cannot even notice that slight tilt. Other times we can sway vastly between pleasing God and pleasing man.

Here's a question: That "good thing" you're dong... Would you still do it if nobody were watching? If you were the only one on the face of the planet to know, would you still do it? What if you were to drop to the bottom of the pile...to be the very least and last...to be in an obscure place where nobody knew your name (and certainly didn't know you had a blog or a facebook page...and most definitely didn't know your every move twittered)? What things would you do then...if the only ones who knew your deeds were God and yourself?

I cannot even begin to pretend to know God's plans for me. I used to think I knew...then I thought maybe I could give an educated guess...then just a plain ol' guess sounded good. But now I know that I cannot begin to understand His ways or His plans for my life. I do know that the past several months have shifted my mind and heart into a different mode. I find myself thinking of how to further His Kingdom. It consumes my thoughts. I find myself less and less attracted to the things of this world...all the STUFF we have bombarding our every moment is crazy! I find myself asking every day, "What do You want me to do today? How do I further Your Kingdom? How do I invest in eternity?"

Full-time ministry is my field of view. Full-time servanthood is the target I want to hit. I fail daily (sometimes hourly or minute-by-minute!), but it's my aim.

But it is ever so easy to let my eyes slip from intently staring at that target. It's all too easy to be tilted to the left or right...to be caught up in a million details that simply don't matter...to be swayed by the slightest breeze brought on by a pat-on-the-back or by an are-you-crazy look of disapproval.

"...Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends, from start to finish." Hebrews 12:1a-2a

It's time for me to drop into that place of obscurity where He seems to be leading me right now. As much as I love to blog, I am stripping this off of me as well. I cannot explain it in words, but I know when He needs me to do something. Maybe it's a test to see if I will continue to do the same "good deeds" while in an obscure place with nobody watching and clapping. Perhaps it's only temporary; and perhaps I will be back blogging sometime. I really don't know. All I do know is that I need to follow Him. That is the air I breathe.

So, for all of you very sweet people who follow this blog (both officially and all the others who are keeping up unofficially), I want to point you to my sweet friend's blog. She is a Down Syndrome adoption advocate, and she's a rare treasure in that she is REAL. She is also seeking to follow God, and she and her family just recently placed their house on the market with the aim of letting God place them where He wants. This will be a great "faith walk" to witness as she writes about it. If you are interested in following a blog that highlights adoption, this is one of the very best ones!

And if you stumble across my blog and just want to help on orphan somehow, I highly recommend starting here with Show Hope.

I've placed the Joshua Project on the side bar of this blog, and I encourage all bloggers to place this on their blogs and to pray daily for the unreached people groups that are highlighted. THIS is what truly matters in life...souls that will last for eternity. Not cars, houses, reputations, money, portfolios, insurance or even good intentions. Think on it. We all have a choice in how we invest our lives.

I leave with you with a quote from the book Crazy Love, by Francis Chan (which, by the way, is a book you simply must get your hands on, devour and act on)...

"How many of us would really leave our families, our jobs, our education, our friends, our connections, our familiar surroundings, and our homes if Jesus asked us to? If He just showed up and said, 'Follow me'? No explanation. No directions.

"You could follow Him straight up a hill to be crucified. Maybe He would lead you to another country, and you would never see your family again. Or perhaps you would stay put, but He would ask you to spend your time helping people who will never love you back and never show gratitude for what you gave up.

"Consider this carefully---have you ever done so? Or was your decision to follow Christ flippant, based solely on feelings and emotion, made without counting the cost?"


Be about His work, even if it seems crazy to the rest of the world!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Trip to Disney World!

When we were planning our adoption, we told our children that after we adopted, we'd plan a trip to Disney World to celebrate our new addition to our family. We waited a year after the adoption to give our daughter time to acclimate. Taking a child with sensory processing issues to Disney World was a big step for us! :)



The first night she had a very hard time with all the noises and craziness of the restaurant we went to in Downtown Disney. But by the first day in the parks, she did much better than we expected. We took it easy with her, taking her on only a handful of rides each day. Mama spent a lot of time pushing her in a stroller and seeing the more quiet things likes birds sharing her crackers and the gorilla who was eating his lunch while we watched (amazing creatures, those gorillas!). But, at Disney World, there's simply no escaping the noise and other sensory input...parades, music, people busy running here and there, screaming children. But she LOVED Disney World! By the time we left, she had grown very accostomed to everyone calling her "Princess" and giving her royal treatment! I'm afraid it's going to take some time to undo some of the princess factor over here. She's still waving at strangers and wondering why they aren't calling her by her royal title. :)



Here she is in the shadow of that towering castle. Some say it belongs to Cinderella, but this Asian princess thinks it's HERS!





Here she is at an African restaurant in one of the Disney resorts. They brought her a fun drink with a glow-in-the-dark Tinkerbell. Just look at the awe factor! For ME?!!





Here we are on a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom. Florida sun is something else! :)




Ahhh, and here's the crew at EPCOT (our favorite park!).




On the way to and from Orlando, I read a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Ever read it? It will change your life and MESS YOU UP! :) I'll post more on that later. Go get that book!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Web Page

We are pulling our orphan ministry web site off the web. Most of our traffic comes through our blog (which is free), so we've decided to stop paying for a web site and just make use of the blog. As you know, there are some definite shifts going on in our direction, but orphan ministry will remain on our plate and dear to our hearts. All of the info that was on the web site will be moved either to this blog or to another one. I will keep you posted as we move forward. :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Special Needs Orphan Ministry

I was contacted by a wonderful lady who "provides early intervention services and support to orphans with special needs." She gave me her blog address, and I wanted to pass this along to you. Click on this link to visit her blog. She is advocating for several orphans in Ukraine, and she recently delivered hats, sun bonnets and orthopedic equipment to a Baby House in Ukraine. Precious ministry! This is her "brick." She's using her specialty and knowledge to reach out to orphans, and she's also advocating for those children who desperately need families. Please share her blog address with your friends and family. Pray for the orphans she is advocating for on her blog, and pray for her as she works on her portion of the wall of orphan ministry.

If you want to help out orphans but don't know how, a GREAT place to start is to simply advocate for orphans who need a family. They cannot advocate for themselves, so they need you! Just choose a few children and become their unofficial advocate. Go to Reece's Rainbow for names and pictures of many orphans who desperately need their forever family to find them. You can put their pictures on your blogs or share information with your family and friends. You can have a yard sale to raise $ to put into their adoption fund, and you place a photo and information of the child for everyone to see as they shop your yard sale. You can pray every day for this child, as it is quite possible that nobody else is praying for him/her. You really CAN do something! It may not seem like a lot to you, but for a child who cannot speak up for themselves, your little bit of help can make a world of difference.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Changes

When this blog is silent, you can always be certain that something is going on.



It's been one of those seasons in life with a zillion questions and deep pondering... What should I pour my life into? What do I want my legacy to be? What really matters? What lasts for eternity? What should be my priority and focus?



It's been a season of reflection, seeking, praying.



It's been a season of testing and struggling.



While reading the book Live Life on Purpose: God's Purpose. Your Life. One Journey, I was hit by a statement: "Every map has an expiration date." Things change, life moves, time advances. And maps expire.



The point in that book is to line yourself up with God as a compass lines up with true north. Maps are great for the journey, but every map expires. If you're using your compass, you can still stay on course.



And this is where I find myself today. With an expired map. To be more precise, my map has some added things on it now. It's like the world globe I recently unpacked. It had been my grandmother's globe, and it was amazing all the changes that have occurred in the years since that globe was made! All the continents were the same, but some countries have changed names.



And my life map has been altered. Three years ago it read: "Orphan Ministry." No details. One year ago, it read, "Orphan Ministry: Rebuild the Wall." The plans of Nehemiah came into focus as a way to look at orphan ministry. We all have bricks...we all have a portion of the wall we can work on. And today the map reads, "Ministry: Physical and Spiritual Orphans." It's as if a "country" on my map has shifted its borders and created another "state."



The basic framework is there...orphan ministry. The basic blueprint is there...we all have bricks and can do this work together. But the vision has expanded.

I will soon share more details about that, as it is a blog entry in and of itself. But here's a short version that will catch you up to speed...

During every step of our adoption last year, God spoke in my spirit, showing me how it related to my own adoption into His family. The parallel was beyond coincidental. And on that day when we arrived at the orphanage and saw our not-too-receptive child who waved goodbye to us and wanted us to leave, I was struck by something. I could see the parallel so vividly in how God longs to adopt us into His family, but we don't see the need. Or worse...there are so many (millions upon millions) who don't even know that they have a Father who is longing to adopt them into His family as His very own children. Just as our daughter had never heard of us, they have never heard of this God of love. Instead, they worship idols, ancestors, etc.

These are what seem to me to be "spiritual orphans." They have a Father who yearns to adopt them, but they just don't know. They've never heard.

So, how do I serve these precious people?? Ahhh, now you know what this blog has been silent. It's a deep pondering to really truly seek God in this question. Will we follow Him to the foreign mission field? Honestly, I do not know exactly what He's leading us to do, but I DO know that I have to be 100% open to WHATEVER that is and WHEREVER that is. So, we've made ourselves available for Him to interrupt our lives in whatever way He wants. Dangerous prayers! :) We've agreed to say YES no matter what He asks us to do. That means that if He opens the doors for us to serve on the foreign mission field, we will go. So, there...I said it...I'm on call now!

There are other options that are just as powerful. I am being trained to be a prayer leader for a missionary agency, and we can enter into very focused and dedicated partnership with missionaries already on the field...to pray for them specifically, support them financially, etc. This is a support role that is just as crucial as actually being "on the field."

Options. Paths. Decisions. New maps. But same compass and same North Star.

There is so much more to say, and I will blog about it in segments as I can. But I did want to finally break the silence and spill bits of news.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One year ago...

It was exactly one year ago that we walked into an orphanage in Taiwan to pick up our youngest treasure. She was not the least bit receptive to us. Here is a picture of her sitting on the floor in the orphanage. She was very upset about us being there and all the feelings of change that she must have been having. The caregivers always gave her a wet wipe when she was upset, and she would just wipe her face over and over to comfort herself.





After several attempts at first-time bonding (giving her crackers, trying to talk to her, etc), we headed into the room with the other children where we entertained them with music for awhile. Here is our angel girl looking at her new Daddy playing the guitar. She was very withdrawn, concerned, anxious as she scanned the room for her favorite caregiver.





After we said goodbye to the other children, the caregivers placed us in a room alone with our daughter in order to bond. She was not at all on board with that plan. It was heartbreaking to hear her cry because it wasn't loud or aggressive; instead, it was a pitiful cry of someone who feels helpless in a situation but is having to give in to it against their will. SO HARD to hear her cry like that! She pushed against us and cried until she was wiped out and fell asleep in Daddy's arms.


The caseworker wanted us to leave while she was asleep, so we left with our driver and headed to the hotel. She woke up once in the car and then another time in the elevator at the hotel as we headed to our room. She was disoriented and scared and confused and very sad. She would sit in our hotel room without a single sound, and tears would flow non-stop down her cheeks in a silent mourning. Not a single sound! This was a very very hard day for all of us.


Here is a picture of her crying at the orphanage, just before she fell asleep from exhaustion.

The silent tears continued for a few months as she mourned her losses. But the tears became less and less, and now they will come every once in awhile in the form of one tiny tear that will sit under her eye while she continues to play.


She is full of LIFE! She is happy, well-adjusted and has one of the strongest stubborn streaks that would simply amaze you! :)




And here she is a couple of weeks ago. While her siblings fished at the base of a beautiful waterfall, she propped her feet up (as any princess should do!) and watched them fishing while she ate her crackers and sang songs.



What a difference a year makes! What a difference a home and family make!


We are indeed BLESSED to have this Asian princess in our lives. Today marks a very special day that we will never forget.




Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thinking of her birth mother

Tonight we loaded the birth mother gift bags into the trunk of my husband's car, and tomorrow he will be delivering these to a case worker who will take these gifts back to the adoption agency to stock their shelves. The adoption agency is so thankful and appreciative! (I emailed pictures of the bags, and just a day later, they scheduled to pick them up!). :)

Our youngest daughter wanted to come help us load the bags and baskets into the trunk. She was beyond DELIGHTED at the sight of all those gifts. She squealed in excitement! Just look at her:



And it got me thinking about her birth mother. We were planning to make a couple of these gift baskets in honor of her birth mother on Mother's Day, but our local homeschool group wanted to help us make more. So, they blessed us with a total of 13 gifts to be given to precious birth mothers in the hospital.

We do this in part to honor a birth mother on the other side of the world who gave her baby the priceless gift of a family. I don't know who she is, but she will always be part of our family. My daughter will carry part of her always with her, and I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the most amazing gift anyone could ever give. I'm thankful for the laughter and the hugs. I'm thankful for the beautiful little girl who wears a different bow every day because she feel she NEEDS to. I'm thankful for the sensitive and gentle spirit that comes wrapped up in this tiny frame of a child. I'm thankful for the extra chromosome that gives our home an extra dose of interesting events and amazingly rich love. And I'm even thankful for that stubborn streak that keeps us on our toes!! I'm just thankful for our daughter and the precious birth mother who blessed us with such a selfless gift.

I prayed over the gift bags and baskets that will be delivered to birth mothers over the next months. I prayed for healing of their hearts...and purpose in their steps...and guidance from their Heavenly Father who cares so deeply for them. It's the same thing I pray for our daughter's birth mother...with a whisper of "thank you."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lessons on the front porch

So this morning I was settling into my favorite comfy chair in the living room, but the Lord urged me to go to the front porch instead. I got situated on the porch swing, and something caught my attention out of the corner of my left eye. An ugly spider had spun his web down from the hanging pot of flowers and attached the other end to the chain of the porch swing. Every time I swung forward, he'd swing forward...every time I'd swing back, he'd come right with my swing. Now, I'm a living-in-the-woods girl, so I'm fairly used to seeing spiders and other critters. I let them live out in their area (the whole woods!), but I like to have MY territory to myself too. So, I took my pen and just broke the one thread that attached his web to my porch swing, and the whole web went limp. Mr. Spider then did an amazing thing... He sat for about 10 seconds as if evaluating the damage, and then he began to quickly roll up his web. I watched as he climbed back up the web, rolling the whole thing up as he went along. And then he retreated into the hanging basket of flowers...perhaps thinking about his next housing project.

And I knew that God had brought me onto the porch for some lessons. Sometimes He teaches me straight from His Word out here, and I barely hear the buzzing of the bees. But other times, He brings me out here and says, "Watch and learn." So, I peel my eyes open and just watch, with an open spirit that wants to learn. Today was one of the watch-and-learn days. Two thoughts came to my mind as I watched that spider:

1) Dumb spider! Why on earth would he attach his web to 2 movable objects?? Come on...he has the whole woods...trees, bushes, plants...some secure natural dwellings, no? And if he prefers to be closer to people, then why not attach onto the side of the house or garage or shed? He attached to a hanging plant on one end and a movable swing on the other end! Dumb spider! And me?? Okay, so do I hook my life securely to the immovable anchor and Rock, or do I hook onto the movable things of this life? And here's a thought...the immovable truly secure place to anchor is often the UNSEEN, and it's the thing that *feels* like a crazy unstable place to put our trust....while the movable truly insecure place is often the VISIBLE, and it's the thing that *feels* like a stable place to put our trust. (Reread that sentence until it clicks..really clicks) Do I attach to the movable or the immovable? "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there you heart and thoughts will also be." (Matt 6:11)

2) That spider could not have attached to my porch swing while it was moving. I found myself trying to keep the swing moving so that Mr. Spider wouldn't rethink this housing option. I figured that if the swing was moving, he'd look elsewhere for a place to attach his web. And I remembered how amazing it was to watch him roll up that web. All I did was detach it at its base...the point of contact with the swing. And then he rolled up the entire web (no messy web sticking to things!), and he retreated! And the Scripture came to my mind: "Resist the devil, and he will flee."

We are stepping out in a huge way into God's calling for our lives. This is one of those biggie moments when we are stepping out of the boat and onto the crashing waves. (Really, more details will be coming in time as we are able to share them!) But, with stepping out comes a torrential onslaught of trials, challenges, spiritual battles. Recently, I've felt so war-torn that I have wanted to RUN AWAY from it all and just find any comfy place to slip into and hide. But that is the strategy of the enemy. He wants us on the run...he wants us scared...he wants us focused on anything and everything except for the Kingdom of God.

But my spider friend taught me some lessons. I am to hook my life onto the immovable Rock. HOW? Focus ONLY on Him and what He has called me to do...never mind the seen things that scream out security...but rather step into His calling, no matter how crazy it seems...put my whole trust in Him as my refuge and Rock. And I am to resist the devil at every turn...detach his point of contact with my life and then watch him roll up his web and retreat. HOW do I detach his web from my life? Refuse to focus on the temporal irritations, the arguments, the tensions and even the "good and fun" things that could so easily distract me from His callings. Resist the urge to fight for my rights. Resist the desire to be right in the conversation. Resist the urge to control. Resist the devil, and he WILL flee. And I love that he has to roll up his web and retreat! If I resist him and his temporal things he wishes I'd focus on, I can instead focus on what I'm called to do for the Kingdom.

I also learned a tremendous lesson from the hummingbirds this morning. There is a hummingbird who has been coming to our feeder for what seems like forever. He finds our feeder in the spring and stays until fall. He's a dear friend that I feed when he's here. But, as is the case with feeders, he has competition. Other male hummingbirds try to steal some nectar, and I'm always thinking that surely they can learn to share. There are, after all, 4 holes for drinking the nectar...and how much nectar can a tiny bird need, right? But this morning I saw it in a new light. (Remember, God brought me out here to watch and learn...so I peeled my spiritual eyes open and sat to watch).

My hummingbird friend was guarding his nectar fiercely today. Any time visitor hummingbird came by, my resident hummingbird fought him off. Have you ever HEARD them fight? I think they clash beaks or something because there's an awful crashing sound, and then they fly off squawking in their high pitch voices. It looks like it HURTS to clash like that...mid-air. If you haven't watched this, really you need to get a hummingbird feeder. It's far better than the sports channel in my opinion!

Okay, so I got to thinking about this. My resident hummingbird is guarding his nectar. It's his life source. And I remembered our pastor's message yesterday about keeping out "oil" in our house. The "oil" was a word picture for the Holy Spirit. We have to keep the Holy Spirit flowing in our home. Complacency is deadly. And I saw my resident hummingbird as a pretty smart guy. He was on guard, making sure that his life source was guarded. He has a "wife" too that he allows to drink the nectar, while he stands guard to keep other visiting hummingbirds away. He is on guard all the time. He will come out of the trees quick as a flash to guard that feeder, and he's relentless to clash and fight other hummingbirds all for the sake of guarding his life source nectar. And I saw him as quite a model to follow. We MUST keep guard all the time. Like the builders on the wall in Nehemiahs' day...some built the wall, while others stood guard the whole time. We have to be on spiritual guard. There is no complacency in nature. Hummingbirds guard their nectar out of necessity. Spiders build their webs out of necessity. And we must stand guard over our "oil" out of necessity to make sure that we are never outdone by the enemy. He wants us to be complacent. He wants us to sit back and be comfortable. Remember, complacency is deadly.

But you cannot get out of the boat and remain comfortable at the same time. It's impossible. And you cannot guard your nectar if you sit in comfort. And you'll have spiders all over your porch swing if you don't cut the web at it's source. Absolutely amazing the lessons that God can teach on a front porch!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gift bags for birth mothers

Last night several moms (and one sweet teenager!) from our local homeschool group got together to assemble gift bags and baskets for birth mothers. Every person brought some items for the gift bags, including matching baby blankets for birth mother and baby, matching bracelets for birth mother and baby, photo frames, photo albums, journals with pens, beautiful handmade note cards, and disposable cameras.

We lined the items up on the table like a buffet line. :)




Then every person grabbed a bag or basket and filled it up with one of each item.


It worked out perfectly that we had exactly the right amount of "boy blankets" for the blue "boy bags" and exactly enough "girl blankets" for the girl bags and exactly enough "neutral blankets" for the "neutral bags." (We didn't plan it that way. We just asked for blankets and bags, without specifying gender colors.). I had been praying for all the items to come in and for the right amount of gender specific items to come in. And God always is faithful! ALWAYS! I'm finding that the more I leave things in His Hands, the more perfect things turn out.


And just like He multiplied the loaves and fish, He also somehow multiplied the gift bags and baskets. We had planned on making 12. We had asked for enough items to make 12 bags, and yet somehow (in a way that only God can explain because the rest of us were confused at how it happened!), when we finished making our 12 bags/baskets, there was one extra! In case you wondered if God still multiplies, you can be assured that He indeed does!
This spoke volumes to me because how often do we wonder if He will really come through? How often do we wonder if the little we have to offer is enough accomplish anything in the huge needy world that we live in? How often do we hold back from offering the tiny bit that we can give because we think it's "not enough"? He doesn't need us to give a lot. He needs us to simply give what we have...no matter how small or insignificant we think it may be. And then HE takes it, breaks it and multiplies it! Remember...it's about HIM, not us! We still serve the same God of the Bible miracles. Let Him multiply whatever you have to offer for His Kingdom work. And you too will find His miracle of multiplication done right before your eyes!


Here are the bags and baskets all finished and ready to deliver to a precious adoption agency in our state.


Thank you to all the sweet ladies who made this possible by donating items and time. (And, by the way, with all of us working on this project, it only took 25 minutes to put these bags/baskets together!) Y'all did an excellent job, and God did the work of making sure we'd have exactly what we needed...and then some extra!



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What is His Hand upon me to do?

A few weeks ago, our pastor spoke about doing the things that God's Hand is upon us to do. Some people may become missionaries while others carry His light to the lost and lonely right in their own hometowns. Neither is more important. The factor that all things revolve around is whether or not God's Hand is upon you to do a thing.

Someone may step out to become a missionary because they long for the adventure or because they want to experience another culture or because they feel guilted into that lifestyle. All are wrong reasons to go. The only thing that matters is whether God's Hand is upon you to do it.

Someone may stay in their hometown and never consider ministry anywhere else because they like the comfort of their familiar surroundings or because they are afraid of the unknown or because they simply don't even consider such "radical" changes in their lives. All are wrong reasons to stay. The only thing that matters is whether God's Hand is upon you to do it.

What is God's Hand upon you to do? What burdens your heart? What stirs your spirit? Consider on those things, and ask God: What is Your Hand upon me to do? And then DO IT. You cannot stay if His Hand is upon you to go, and you cannot go if His Hand is upon you to stay. You want to be wherever His Hand is upon you because it is there that miracles reside. It is there that His Kingdom advances through you in mighty ways. And it is there that you will be happiest because you'll be in the center of His Hand and Will.

I've gone back again to study Nehemiah and how he led the rebuilding of that wall. In chapter 4, we see how half of the workers were working with their hands to rebuild the wall, while the other half of the workers were standing guard to make sure that nothing stopped the rebuilding of the wall. Both jobs were important and necessary. Neither job was of lesser value. It all depended on what God had created each person to do.

Some people may step into adventures that take them across the globe to bring light into the darkness, while others may stay home to stand guard to make sure that work gets done (praying, supporting, advocating). We all have a divine calling, and every job is necessary and important to furthering His Kingdom. The deciding factor should always be: What is His Hand upon me to do?

And then go do that thing with all your focus and energy and love!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Following in His Footsteps

I've been quiet on this blog lately. The past few months have been spent limiting distractions and trying to focus completely on hearing His voice as He leads us into another chapter in our lives.

I will share more in time. For now, I want to pass along a very short but very powerful message that says things much better than I could ever say it. Click here to listen to that 5-minute message, and let this sink into your spirit.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Keep at Your Work



The Lord has given every man his work. It is his business to do it, and the devil's business to hinder him if he can. And as sure as God has given you a work to do, Satan will try to hinder you.


My dear Christian friend, keep at your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do no stop to stone the devil's dogs; do no fool away your time chasing the devil's rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let religious sectarians quarrel, let corporations resolve, let editors publish, and come what may, let the devil do his worst; but see to it that nothing hinders you from fulfilling the work God has given you.


Keep at your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. Let the world brawl and babble and bubble. Keep at your work. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends and despised and rejected of men, but see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and the object of your being, until at last you can say, "I have run the race...I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."




---Author Unknown (quote taken from K.P. Yohannan's book Living in the Light of Eternity)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Live To Be Forgotten

Elijah's birthday came and went this year as quietly as he arrived in the labor and delivery room 3 years ago. A few sweet people remembered his birthday, and that warmed my heart. But many didn't remember. At the close of his birthday, I had a moment of sadness. When I was alone that night, I was praying out loud and asking God, "Does nobody remember him? Do they not remember that he is real? Have they all forgotten him??" But just as quickly as that thought came into my mind, another thought came right in to take its place...



God brought to mind a video I had just seen a few days earlier. Patrick Fung is the President of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship, which works to reach Eastern Asia), and he wrote a book called Live to Be Forgotten. Click this link to see a short 12-minute interview with Patrick Fung. It is so worth the time.



Patrick Fung talks about living to be forgotten...living our lives in such a way that Jesus is seen and we are forgotten. What a thought! Don't we deep down inside want to at least be remembered? We are willing to give up our lives, but don't we hope that we will at least be known for giving up our lives? Countless missionaries have lived their entire lives in order to reach the unreached...they've given up comfort and safety and have lived simple lives among the people they wanted to share Jesus with. Most of these people we have never heard of. They lived in such a way that we cannot recall them but can only see what Jesus did through them. They lived to be forgotten.

And as that thought entered my mind, I was so pleased with my little Elijah. He is not remembered by many. In fact, his Daddy and Mama (and a handful of nurses) are the only ones on earth who laid eyes on him. And yet countless people have been touched by his life story. Orphans have been reached because of his life. Our family's entire direction and purpose were altered by this under-one-pound baby boy. Elijah's life was not his own but instead reflected God's love and life amazingly. Elijah lived to be forgotten. Instead of being sad that he isn't as remembered as he "should" be, I find myself wanting to be more like him.

I want to live to be forgotten.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time of Reflection

I find myself in a very reflective state of mind this morning. On this date three years ago, I was in a hospital room in labor with our 4th child, Elijah. He arrived into this world very quietly. Stillborn. The following photo was taken just before we left his funeral. This was the last time our human bodies were near each other. There simply are no words to describe this pain.


But there IS healing! And placing that sort of pain into the Hands of God has this enormous ripple effect that just keeps reaching into the next stage of our lives...and then the next... I cannot even begin to explain all the blessings we have experienced as we've just TRUSTED Him.

It's the pain in our lives that propels us to really seek, isn't it? Attending the funeral of a child is an event I wouldn't wish on anyone. But, while it's unimaginable and impossible in human terms, it is the very place where I HAD to rely on God fully (what else could I do?). Though it was indescribably painful, it was also the place where I felt God's soothing Hand of healing the most prominent in my life. Many many mornings found me out on the front porch crying in the early hours of the day, but also in that time, I found God to faithful to be "close to the brokenhearted," making His voice crisp and clear in my spirit. I took great joy in Him during that time. There was a dimension of my life that opened up during that hard experience, and it has propelled me forward with faith and purpose. And so it is that JOY and SUFFERING go hand-in-hand.

Sometimes things are just down-right HARD in life. Loved ones pass away, things change, hard decisions have to be made, feet have to be redirected (when they'd much rather stick in a comfortable rut!). We tend to hate the hard things, the disappointments, the pain, the s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, the painful changes, the losses. But aren't those the very things that propel us towards relying more on our Heavenly Father? The hard things, when placed in HIS HANDS are miraculously altered. The disappointments give way to new hope...the pain becomes a springboard for reaching others...the stretching brings on strength and flexibility we've never before had...the changes break us out of stale molds and make us dig deeper and seek Him more earnestly...the losses propel us to again examine "where our treasure is." The hard things bring amazing focus that we tend to lack in the easier times.

So, today as I reflect on Elijah's birthday, I'm feeling amazing peace and joy. His first and last moments of earthly life were inside my womb. I cannot think of a more precious place, and I'm humbled to have been that for him. And I'm absolutely sure that he is now enjoying life fully in paradise. And us...well, we followed through that valley and into His calling on our lives. And we feel that calling constantly realigned and refocused. And He is still teaching us how to follow Him, reminding us always how to distinguish His still quiet voice, and encouraging us to be thankful for the hard times. Remember, joy and suffering very often go hand-in-hand.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Honoring and Serving Birth Mothers

Mother's Day will soon be upon us, and I wanted to take a moment to honor all the birth mothers who have selflessly chosen to place their babies for adoption. We have personally been touched by this gift, as our youngest child joined our family through the miracle of adoption. This is the first Mother's Day that we've had this added facet to consider. We find ourselves taking some time to reflect on our daughter's birth mother and her beautiful gift that she chose to give to her baby...the gift of a forever family. How could we possibly thank her for that gift, especially with the reality that we don't know her birth mother?





I'm brainstorming ways that we can honor her birth mother this Mother's Day, and I'll get back with you on what we decide to do. But, in honor of all birth mothers, we have hooked up with a Georgia-based adoption agency and have volunteered to help serve them. One thing that they needed was a service for birth mothers. They provide counseling and support as birth mothers place their babies for adoption. When they leave the hospital, the birth mothers are often leaving empty-handed. This can be very very hard. So, the adoption agency gives each birth mother a gift basket when they leave the hospital. It has special gifts such as a journal, a frame for the baby's hospital picture, etc. The adoption agency needed people to put these gift baskets together, and we thought it would be a creative and fun way to serve birth mothers.





Last week we invited some sweet young ladies and their mamas to our home to assemble matching bracelets for birth mothers and babies. We heated some tea, enjoyed some scones and had a precious time of fellowship together as we beaded bracelets.








Here are the girls showing off the bracelets that they made. :)








Here are the bracelets that we've made so far. They are tied together with a ribbon, and birth mother will untie them and give one bracelet to baby and keep one for herself. The bracelets are one of the many little gifts that will be included in the gift baskets.




Thank you to all the sweet people from different churches across our town who have donated items to go into the gift baskets.




If you live in another area of the country, you can contact an adoption agency or hospital in your area and ask them if you can volunteer to do something similar for the birth mothers in your area. You can use your gifts and talents to serve birth mothers.




When we have a full gift basket assembled, I will post that and share the details of all the items inside it.




On Mother's Day, please take a moment to remember birth mothers and to pray for healing to come to their hearts.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WATOTO!

If you've visited our website, you have probably heard of Watoto. It is an amazing children's village in Uganda, Africa. They serve orphans in Uganda by rescuing them, raising them in Christian homes and eventually rebuilding their country with this new generation of Christian leaders. The children are not adopted by families in other countries but rather are raised up to be a wonderful Christ-centered generation in their own country. I encourage you to go to the Watoto web site and read about it for yourself. You will be blessed. And if you really want to help orphans but cannot adopt, this provides a wonderful opportunity for you to place a child into a Christian home within the Watoto village. You can sponsor one or more of these precious children.

And they ARE precious! We had the chance to meet some of the children last Sunday morning when they traveled to Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA. To hear them sing about how they are not forgotten because God knows their names...well, it brought me to tears! Beautiful ministry!

Here are some pictures we took Sunday...


This was our family with some of the Watoto children. They are beautiful!





And the last 2 pictures are of some of our close friends and the Watoto children.
This MADE MY WEEK!!! Go visit Watoto's site. :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Quiet Place

When I want to be completely alone with my Heavenly Father, this is one of my very favorite spots...the front porch swing. I can hear the wind through the many trees, the variety of birds' songs, and the crunching of leaves under the feet of tiny critters running through the woods. This is part of who I am, and I soak it in. But mostly, I find such clarity in my spirit out there in the quiet air.

This first picture was taken one day when I was having a rough time. A sweet friend gave me a biscotti, and I took a 20-minute break to have some hot tea, some Scriptures and my treat.


There's nothing as deeply refreshing as a word from God when I really need it.


And this morning, I shared my favorite quiet spot with one of my children. This is my child whom I call "a balm to my soul." He woke up before everyone else today and came downstairs to ask if he and I could do our Bible time side-by-side on the front porch. This was such a beautiful impromptu time together. He wanted to read I Corinthians 13 about love. Really, what more could a Mama want?


No matter what happens today (and no matter how good or bad of a day it is), deep inside my spirit will be this treasured time in our quiet place.

Monday, April 26, 2010

CALLING ALL PRAYER WARRIORS!!!




Please take 10 minutes to GO TO THIS BLOG and pray for little Chrissie today. We are praying in Jesus' name for a MIRACLE MONDAY! Please keep that blog in your favorites and check it often, as Chrissie's mom updates it frequently. And please tell all prayer warriors that you know. We are claiming Psalm 118:17 as our prayer of faith today.




Thursday, April 15, 2010

To Live is Christ - Gospel for Asia

This video was in my inbox tonight, and I wanted to share it with you. Here is the link. Please let this sit in your spirit and stir you to action...

To Live is Christ - Gospel for Asia

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wholly Possessed By Love

I woke up at 5am with the thought sitting in my spirit: "God, I want to be wholly possessed by Your love."

Something bothers me. When it comes to love, I stink! I used to think I was pretty good at it, but the older I get, the more I realize that giving the kind of love that is altogether selfless is not how I'm naturally cut out. Sure, I can write love notes to my family...I can spend time making them their favorite treats...I can make sure my husband's clothes are ironed and his lunch for work is packed...I can spend hours cuddled on the couch reading with my children...I can even give up that last brownie when everything in me screams to eat it before anyone notices it! But when it really comes down to the nitty gritty of TRUE love...the kind that doesn't take offense when someone hurts my feelings or the kind that takes no thought to my own sacrifices...well that's when I know that I simply STINK when it comes to love. It's not that I don't try. I really really DO try! But sometime in between dawn and dusk (and usually closer to dawn!), I fail at loving with this whole-hearted love.

So, this morning my spirit must have been tossing this around even in my sleep. When I woke at 5am, I lay in bed and prayed adamantly that God PLEASE possess me because I cannot love on my own initiative. I wanted to be so overtaken by His Love that I was simply saturated so densely that all I would need to do is just let it ooze out...hey, even just a drip, drip, drip would be improvement on my dried-up can't-quite-muster-enough-in-me-to-wholly-love-you love. I lay there for an hour and a half trying to do something, say something, pray something that would result in an incredible overshadowing of me...where He would possess me so fully that I'd get out of bed a new woman. But alas, it was getting late, and I needed to get my day started...so I got out of bed the same person I was yesterday. But really, the thought of failing again at the greatest thing (love) was too much for me to bear!

I found my cozy spot to be alone with God, and my faithful cat curled up on my lap. And there I sat again, going over it all again...praying to be fully possessed by God's love...reminding Him again that I'm a failure in this area and that He simply MUST do it through me. BUT HOW??? That became the search I was on again this morning. HOW do I become fully overcome by His love so that it saturates me and drips out on everyone I come into contact with?? I really wanted to know HOW.

I read in my Bible and in the book I had just finished for the 4th time (Compelled By Love by Heidi Baker). (Really...you'd think that after reading that book FOUR times, I'd have a handle on the love issue, right?) So, in Heidi's book, she says, "God does not want us to merely love like Jesus. His desire is to possess our very nature with His love." Yes, that is what I want! But HOW??? I read through several parts of the book that I had highlighted. The theme started to rise to the surface: be meek, empty ourselves, go lower still, humble ourselves, give our lives.... Slowly this answer began to surface...again (this answer always bobs up and down, but I've yet to grasp it fully enough to claim it as my own)...

HOW do we become fully possessed by His love? We drink deeply of Him every day...seeking Him in quiet times, reading His Word, praying fervently. Then, filled up, we seek the rest of the day to stay put in the lowest place...to look at everyone we see as better than ourselves...to look to each person's needs as more important than our own (in fact, to meet the other person's needs, while we trust God to meet our own needs)...to empty ourselves over and over again, trusting God to fill us back up. It's about wearing the "brown robe of holy humility," as Heidi puts it...the same way Jesus did when He walked this earth.

On the day when Mother Teresa realized the importance of serving others, she was on a trip to attend a spiritual retreat. She looked out the train window and was overwhelmed at the plight of beggars. God's voice was heard in her ears: "My dear, you must see your beloved Jesus in each one of these miserable people. You must love that Jesus, serve that Jesus and look after that Jesus. Never forget His voice when He says, 'Whenever you did if for the least of these My brothers, you did it for Me'."

2Corinthians 5:11-21 talks of being compelled and controlled by His love. He died for everyone, and we have died to our old life we used to live. We no longer live to please ourselves but please HIM.

So, HOW do I get what I asked for this morning? HOW do I become wholly possessed by His love? By letting Him fill me as I soak in His presence...and then making a conscientious choice to seek out the lowest spot in my home, in my community of friends, in my ministry...to humbly go lower still...to become poor so that I can make others rich in His love (do you see it...we POUR OUT all He's given to us...we empty out...we become poor so that others can be soaked in His love)...to do as Mother Teresa did in seeing Jesus in every person and choosing to serve Jesus, love Jesus and look after Jesus by doing that to those we come into contact with every day.

How can I (a love-challenged person!) actually do this though? God answered me in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." It's not about me...EVER! It's all about Him...and His favor is all I need. My weakness in this area gives Him more room to work because it will be HIM doing it, not me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Free-Falling

First, I wanted to share some pictures that are close to my heart. The first one is of our family on Easter morning just after a sunrise service at a beautiful ranch. I don't know why it took so long for us to be able to do this, but this is actually our FIRST family photo (with all of us in the picture!) since we adopted our youngest princess 8 months ago.







This second picture is of our youngest son. Last week we were watching a movie about the life of Jesus (one of our traditions right before Easter), and this little guy began to feel convicted in his heart. For the first time, he realized that Jesus died for HIM. He climbed up in our laps, and after the movie, he wanted to talk about it. Right then and there, he decided to follow Jesus. He asked Him into his heart, and this Mama was so happy to lead him in that prayer. And he was positively BEAMING! I've never seen anyone so radiant with that fresh joy that God gives when His Spirit is given to live inside them. I told him I'd like to take a picture of him because he was glowing. Here he is...




Now to the subject at hand...free-falling...


I had a dream last week. I was falling through the air high above the ground (perhaps I had jumped out of an airplane), and I could feel that sickening feeling that I absolutely hate: free-falling! In my dream, I was screaming, "God, I don't like free-falling!!!" And I heard Him say something like, "Enjoy it. Try flipping and flying. Enjoy the fall." Something in His voice was very calm and soothing. I could heard the smile in His voice, encouraging me to enjoy the fall. So, I stopped flailing my arms and instead began to fly or "swim" like the skydivers do. And as I began to enjoy it, I could barely notice the feeling of free-falling. And then I woke up. I had no doubt that He was encouraging me, even in my sleep (that has only happened this one time...I wish I could dream like that every night!).

In time, I will be able to share details of what this dream means in our real life. Suffice it to say, we'll soon be free-falling...not a physical jump from an airplane but somehow even more intimidating because this is a spiritual leap of faith, with nothing physical to "see." But there's a complete sense that God Himself is in full control of the free-fall. I pray that we can ENJOY it instead of screaming the whole way! :)


I sense that someone reading this is also in position to take some spiritual steps of faith...that in some way God is calling you to step out into something unknown and way out of your comfort zone. I wish I could have pulled you into my dream because there was a deep deep sense of peace in that free-falling...that leap of faith that feels like thin air. Remember, he LOVES faith...faith pleases Him...and in those steps of faith, we can experience amazing miracles and peace that passes all understanding.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Continuing Lessons

If you are seeking God sincerely...if you are pursuing Him with everything you have...you WILL find Him. Midday yesterday I had an intimate encounter in God's Presence (I'll share more about that in another post), and I was flowing in His Spirit. It was one of those times when you know that you know that you know that God has spoken. His calling was very strong, and His direction was more clear than it has ever been. It was a good morning. I found myself slipping off by myself for a few minutes so that I could soak it in. I pressed up against the window and looked out at the clear day..the squirrels running up the trees, the birds eating out of our feeder, the crispness that marked that moment in time. My soul was unclouded and clear, and I whispered a prayer, "I just want to stay here basking in Your Presence for a bit longer. I want to impress this moment in my mind and heart and soul so that I don't forget it. I don't ever want to doubt that I indeed heard very clearly from You." So, I lingered a few moments in that certainty of His calling...those moments when all my seeking resulted in finding Him. This was honestly a thrill to my soul!



But the flesh is always with us, isn't it? By last night as we were at some friends' house watching the Baylor/Duke game (sad day for us Baylor fans, I must say! :))...I got to talking about a recent situation with my husband's employer. In my mind, it's an ufair situation that is not good for our family. I can definitely see God's Hand in it, but my flesh was upset with certain things that have happened. As I talked about it, my flesh was jumping to the top and not walking in peacemaking. But even before I got home last night, I felt correction in my spirit. Remember my post yesterday about "blessed are the peacemakers?" Well, by last night, I was forgetting to put it into practice. I apologized to my Father for not walking in that peacemaking business.



Today I read a quote that I've read a zillion times, and I yearned more than anything to LIVE this quote. To live this out, I have to crucify that flesh that so easily entangles me and instead walk in the Spirit. Lord, help me to be more like YOU!



I will close today's post with this quote from St. Francis of Assisi:



"Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace that, where there is hatred, I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that, where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that, where there is error, I may bring truth; that, where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that, where there is despair, I may bring hope; that, where there are shadows, I may bring light; that, where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted, to understand that to be understood; to love than to be loved; for it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is forgiving that one is forgiven; it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blessed are the Peacemakers

I've been struggling lately. The well of my soul is being churned. I've found myself lately being in constant pursuit of God. I want to know which way to point my feet, and the only One who holds the answer to that is God. So, I pursue Him day and night. I wake up early, and even that warm bed isn't tempting lately because I want more than anything to know Him, understand Him...and to know which road He's leading us down.

I've been studying the life of George Mueller by reading some of his own writings. It is affecting my mindset greatly and causing dramatic shifts in the plates beneath my feet. If you don't know who George Mueller is, then google his name. Someday I will post more about him, but one thing I wanted to point out now is that George could have missed out on God's plan for his life. In the beginning of his life, he was involved in many sins that could have dominated his life and stolen his purpose (I can relate to that one myself). But I'm not talking about that. I learned recently that while George was busy about the work God gave him in England, he was asked to go as a missionary to Baghdad. In the natural, this offer looked like an open door from God: They offered to pay all expenses to relocate him...the need was very great to serve in Baghdad...he had always been drawn to serving as a missionary in a place like Baghdad. Some of us (ME) would have jumped right away and said, "Look at this incredible open door!! I'm leaving tomorrow for Baghdad!" Right? I mean...all the signs seemed to be pointing in that direction...and even the expenses had been paid (and George Mueller was trusting God to provide for all his needs). But George didn't jump at it. He sat on it for awhile. For days he prayed and submitted it to God. He spent hours in prayer and Bible study to allow the Holy Spirit to guide his steps. In the end, he didn't go to Baghdad. He stayed in England, and as a result, thousands of orphans were helped physically and spiritually.

So, back to us... We can see several roads stretching out before us with life choices that are all very different. I think of George Mueller, and I realize that some of those options are simply distractions that would keep me from God's true plan. The ONLY way to know is to pursue Him...not just with a quick prayer on the way out the door...but in the kind of seeking children do when they are playing hide-and-seek. Seek and ye shall find. So, I find myself seeking with persistence. I think God enjoys watching us seek His Will, and I think He DELIGHTS to give us the answers.

For months now, I've been seeking Him intently. And that's where the depths of my soul are being churned. Because...ya see...as we seek Him with all diligence, we begin to find answers that we may have heard many times but never grasped. And sometimes those answers are SO HARD. Really, don't we always want the easier route???

Today was one of those mornings. Among the many things I'm studying is a book called Compelled by Love. I've read it four times now, but the concepts are so life-altering that I have to keep going back to sink deeper into it. It's based on the Sermon on the Mount. I know the Scripture and this book almost by heart because I've read them so many times. But today the reality hit me on a deeper level: I have to actually put this stuff into practice!

Compelled By Love is written by a woman who works among the orphans in Mozambique (and, like George Mueller), they rely on God for their every need. They have been persecuted numerous times by people in the country who do not understand their work. Once, when a $20 reward was placed on their heads, they chose to LOVE those persecuting them instead. Their land and buildings were taken from them, and their orphans were mocked and traumatized, and still they all (even those children) chose to love their persecutors and not react in revenge or hate. Love won out, and God provided ultimate protection and deliverance for them. Years later, they were given 7 times as much land and buildings, and the persecutors apologized. That is SO EASY to read, applaud and admire. But so very hard to step towards DOING.

This morning I had an internal struggle that had me restless in my seat. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. But inside me were some very good objections. What about the things I'm standing up against that I feel are really wrong...the people who are doing things that are not right in my eyes? What about the things that come so strongly against my faith...I'm not talking about the world...but Christians who live contrary to the faith that I cling to? What about the person in my own family who said hurtful things that I know are not right? What about when WE are stepping out in faith, knowing God has called, but others are putting up road blocks that we know are not right? What happens when we KNOW we're being wrongly accused or wrongly treated? What about when someone says or does something that hurts our children's feelings? Now, it's getting TOUGH (we could talk all day about that "Mama Bear" that rises in us when someone does something mean to our children!). But blessed are the peacemakers.

God was leading me to something that holds the key... Will I DO what He calls me to do? Or will I take matters into my own hands? One path is hard, the other convenient. One choice is natural, the other supernatural. One way is God's way, the other is my human nature's way. One path holds my life's purpose, while the other is a mere distraction to keep me from my purpose.

And I think of those paths in life...the crossroads. Sometimes I wish it were just one big step...so that I can take it once and be forever pointed the right direction. But it's a moment-by-moment walk. And I don't want to miss God's best. WHEREVER He calls, I want to go. WHATEVER He has planned, that's what I want. And this morning, He called me to come close and listen. He says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Oh how my humanity struggles with that! But that is the road He's calling me down. Why in the world would I seek so intently, only to go the opposite direction when He calls??

"When we choose the low road--the only road--we never lose. When we respond in the opposite spirit---fight war with love, fight hatred with forgiveness, and repay evil with good--we always win." (Heidi Baker, Compelled By Love).

Friday, March 26, 2010

What It's Really All About

I've spent the past couple of years (and even deeper in the last few months) RE-learning how to think like Jesus (not like a church or like a good person...but like Jesus). I have more to say about that journey, but for now I will simply post this video. I just stumbled upon this song, and it so deeply echoes my heart and renewed mind that I felt my spirit tune in on every level...I could have SHOUTED because it meshed so exactly with what God has been teaching me. This is what it means to truly follow Jesus WHERE HE IS WALKING. Let it sit in your spirit and ask His Spirit to teach you...it may very well change your life.

(The video box is cut off...someone help me with HOW to change this! The first few scenes have words that are cut off, but you can get the gist...and you can hear the song fine. If you want to view it in full screen, CLICK on this link).





Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mac Powell Testimony

While visiting my friend E's blog, I saw that she had posted this wonderful video. I knew she wouldn't mind if I also posted it. It's only ten minutes long and very worth watching. God's call on my life is to pour out my life for orphans and to share their story. This information is part of their story. If you don't have the time to watch all ten minutes, please watch the last couple of minutes to hear the statistics. It may very well surprise you...and humble, encourage and speak to you. Please pray about what your role is. You may not adopt, but you CAN help in some way (see our website at www.letsrebuildthewall.org for details on HOW to help). And please pass this on to your circle of influence.


Favorites

One of my sweet friends and fellow workers in the fields of the fatherless recently posed a request on her blog. She reminded us to be appreciative for the little things in life, and she asked that we post our 10 favorite things. I actually thought on this for a day. Many little blessings came to mind, but here is a list of the ones that float to the top:



1) A cup of hot tea (preferably decaf English Breakfast or English Teatime...we cannot buy these in our small town, so my husband sometimes surprises me with picking some up on the way home from work). Oh, and tea must have milk and sugar like they taught me to make it in England.



2) Scottish bagpipes and Celtic music



3) The smell of bookstores



4) The quiet hours of the morning before the sun comes up...the way the morning smells...the sound of the birds waking up for the day...the warm place I cuddle up for my time alone with my God



5) Being on the front porch in the spring and fall when the weather is perfect here in the mountains



6) Snuggling with my children to read good books (we try to do this every afternoon during the little one's nap time)



7) Seeing my children grasp onto their own faith in God...the times they have read amazing accounts of God using someone for His Kingdom, and they say things like, "I want God to use me that way too!"



8) The word "MAMA," especially when it's attached to the rest of a sentence that makes my heart warm (like, "Mama, I love you so much...you're the best Mama in the whole world!").



9) Watching my husband lost in worship with his guitar in his hands...not for performance but rather lost in the Holy Spirit...and my very best memory of him with his guitar was when we were in the orphanage, and he was ministering to those precious children (who had never seen a guitar!)



10) My worn Bible, with notes all through it...and all the pages that have been torn by little hands and then taped back up...the way I know exactly where to find anything in that Bible because I remember having underlined such-and-such in purple ink or having written something on the right side of this or that page



11) (Hey...I just thought of one more that is by far near the very top of my list!!) The absolute exhilaration of stepping onto the thin air of following God fully...the free-falling feeling that I absolute hate in the natural (don't make me go on those rides where you drop a million miles!!)...but in the spiritual, I'm sweetly addicted to free-falling! (Really)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

They are Taking a Faith Step

Several months ago, I "met" a precious Christian woman who learned of our adoption and then contacted me via email. We share similar hearts for orphans, and I've been blessed to get to know her. She and her husband wanted to host an orphan from another country. If you're unfamiliar with this, it's a program where orphans from other countries come to live for a month with an American family. The ultimate goal is to introduce them to Jesus and to find them a forever home if God opens the door. My friend and her husband didn't have the money to do this program, so they waited. The next time the opportunity came up, they didn't have the money again. But soon they learned one of the mind-boggling ironies of stepping into God's heart of caring for orphans. STEP FIRST, and then He will provide the means to do it. She tells this story in her new blog. I encourage you to read it and to become a follower of her blog so that you can have a front row seat as God opens doors to care for His child.





I have heard people say many many times: "Well, we would adopt IF we had the money. Adoption is just so expensive!" Or "We'd host a child if we had to money to do it. Those programs aren't cheap!" I always love to share the story that when we committed to adopt our daughter, we had ZERO money saved for her adoption...not a single penny! And if we had waited until we had enough money to adopt her, I'm almost certain that we would have NEVER had enough money to adopt her. I know this sounds crazy and counter to common sense, but one thing I've learned is that God does not fit into the boxes that our common sense neatly sets up. I believe that God is glorified when we step forward into His calling WITHOUT the means to do it. Hang with me here a minute...





When God calls, it's our job to say YES. It is NOT our job to make sure we have the means to do what He's called us to do. When we wait until we have the means, often it won't happen. WHY? Because when we absolutely cannot do something in our human state, we are brought to the point of HAVING to rely on God to do it. He steps in and performs this amazing miracle of providing all we need...and then HE gets the glory because HE did it! This sounds crazy. I always call it crazy faith. God is pleased with our FAITH...not our human way of coming up with the means to do what He's called us to do. He calls, and we say YES...even if (especially if!!!) it seems impossible to do in our human skin. This is where we see the line between doing things in our flesh and doing them in His Spirit.





Anyway, I was thrilled when our friends stepped out without the money to host this precious child. They stepped FIRST...and then God supplied amazingly (and quickly too!). Please follow their story because it is a walk of faith...so I can assure you that God is going to do some amazing things!





This is what it's about...stepping out to work on your small portion of the wall of orphan ministry. Really...there is something ALL of us can do. Just STEP and trust your Heavenly Father to be faithful to provide all you need.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What if we lived this out every day...

This was written by John Henry Newman and was one of Mother Teresa's favorite prayers (said EVERY DAY by the Missionaries of Charity):



Dear Lord:

Help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go.

Flood my soul with your spirit and life.

Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me, but only you, O Lord!

Stay with me, then I shall begin to shine as you do; so to shine as to be a light to others.

The light, O Lord, will be all from you; none of it will be mine; it will be you shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise you in the way you love best, by shining on those around me.

Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you.

Amen.





(quoting from the book Compelled by Love by Heidi Baker)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Trading Up

This morning when I got out of bed, it was cold in the house. I slipped on a light sweater but still had goose bumps on my arms. The room had that pre-dawn dark that only shows the shadows of things. I could make out the outline of one of my warmer sweaters on our cedar chest where I had left it last night. I reached down to get it, but for a split second, I stopped myself. I was really chilly, and the sweater I was wearing was starting to get warmer with my body heat. You may not understand this unless you are as cold-natured as I am, but I actually dreaded those few seconds when I took off one sweater and before I could get the other one on. Plus, the new sweater (though it was a fuzzy and much warmer than the one I was wearing) would actually feel colder because it had not yet had body heat in it. The thought of putting on a colder sweater was not appealing, so I paused to weigh this minor choice that felt like a major choice so early in the morning.

As I reached for my fuzzy sweater and took off my other sweater, in my spirit I could hear my Shepherd's voice: "See...this is what it's like to trade your plans for mine." Again, the training and the guidance of my Shepherd was at a moment when I least expected it...but again so very clear. It's trading up. It's not like trading your peanut butter sandwich for a pimento cheese sandwich (although, for me that IS trading up!). But it's much much more. It's like trading your peanut butter sandwich for a 7-course meal (the kind at an elegantly set table with more forks than a person reasonably knows what to do with!).

Why do we hang onto the old sweater? Why do we insist on holding on to the less-than-best when the very best is only one decision away? Why do we cringe when we hear that we are to lay down our lives in order to find them? I think it's because we don't want to lose what's familiar to us. We don't want to lose what is easy for us to control and exchange it for something that is not within our realm of control. We like control, don't we??? We forfeit the BEST in order to have the comfortable. Sounds crazy, but we do it every day of our lives.

From the book Living in the Light of Eternity: "Have you seen how the wind comes and carries off the dry leaves from beheath a tree? That is the best way for me to explain what I mean. Let the wind of God blow you away and carry you wherever He wishes. And then what? Don't we need to know more than that? No. I do not know where the Lord will have you or me go tomorrow or next year. All I know is that I am standing on emptiness and declaring total dependence on the Lord. I am but a handful of dust. I have nothing in myself that I can cling to, no strength of my own to carry me. It is He who leads me, whether that means having everything or having nothing. All that matters is Him."

I went downstairs (in my fuzzy warm sweater!) and curled up in my favorite quiet spot. I did some reading and praying. And while I was praying, an interesting vision filled my mind's eye. I could see a long white/blank path...it stretched on for what seemed like forever...just a blank road with no markings, no buildings, no anything. And down the road I could see Jesus. So, it was me and Jesus and in between us was this empty blank path. This picture came to me as I was praying because my prayer was, "I give it all to you. I lay it all down...all my ideas and plans. All I want is YOUR plan for my life. I don't even know the details of what that means, but I'm committing to doing whatever You lead me to do." So, I could picture the road ahead that looks blank and empty...at least as far as my human eyes can see...because there's nothing that I'm inserting into it. There's no "well, I'll follow You if you include this in my life" or "I'll agree to Your plan if I can be assured that I can have this in my life." No...it's a blank path. This is the path that cannot be navigated by sight. Faith is the only compass for this one. But this is the better path...the best path. It requires trading up...giving up the familiar warm path in order to gain the unpredictable, every-winding path of unending adventure and unseen treasures. It may carry me where I never wanted or dreamed I'd go. It may wind through some valleys that I wouldn't want to walk through. It may feel like thin air every step of the way. But up ahead on that path, I see Jesus. He's a kind Shepherd, and He's beckoning to "Come follow me." I'm glad the path looks blank because it makes His footsteps much more visibly pronounced.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Standing on Emptiness

From the book Living in the Light of Eternity, by K.P. Yohannan (book can be found at Gospel for Asia's web site) :


"God wants us, in our life and ministry for Him, to stand on emptiness. What is emptiness? It is a void, a vacuum, total nothing-ness. It is like holding onto something you cannot tangibly feel. Your eyes see nothing but still you follow. Your feet step out onto what looks like thin air. Standing on emptiness means we are stripped of not only tangible things but intangible as well. Everything we are, everything we trust--our own know-how, abilities, talents, strength--all are gone. Nothing we do for the Lord can ever come from our own resources.


"The Lord wants us to come to a place where we are drawing on nothing but Him so that, as Paul said, 'this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' (2 Cor. 4:7). There is no way we can say, 'I did that.'


"Throughout the Bible we see God drawing His people to a place where they were suspended over empty space, where they were challenged to operate out of faith and total dependence, where there was nothing tangible to cling to but Him."





This is where we're being drawn...to stand on emptiness...to step into the unknown...to jump into His Plan for our lives, even though we cannot see or feel the ground beneath us. We are praying that we will indeed count the cost and choose the road less travelled...the road that stretches out, suspended over empty space.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Jesus

My oldest daughter is always asking me what my favorite things are...favorite color, favorite movie, favorite book. Most of the time I cannot give a solid answer because I tend to like many different things. Favorite color...well, I like when there are several bright colors all together. Favorite movie...it all depends on my mood. Favorite book...there are just TOO MANY great books for me to choose just one as my favorite! (I'm a book-lover!)



She recently asked me about my favorite song, and again, it really depends on my mood or the place I'm at in life. But, topping my list is this song because it mirrors my deepest desires and most intense thoughts...it challenges me...and it just cuts to the core of the meaning of my life. I tried very hard to get this YouTube video pasted right into this blog, but for some crazy reason it allows me to copy it but will never give me the option of pasting it no matter which way I go about it. So, I'll simply include the LINK TO THE SONG so that you can listen to it and see the video. *** For those of you who have children who sometimes watch online with you, I will give the PG-13 warning on this one...for violent scenes and one word that you wouldn't want your children repeating to Aunt Bessie! :) I love this song, and it forces us to look at things the way they really are...not a sugar-coated version of what we'd rather think about. ***

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making decisions

As I was enjoying my quiet time alone with my Father this morning, I was seeking Him on a very specific question.



Well let me back up a bit... We are at a crossroads in our lives. We are at the edge of a few different paths, each of which will lead us in a certain direction...life choices, job choices, security choices, ministry choices, lots of choices all at once. Early yesterday morning, I was seeking Him about which direction He wanted us to go. (One thing I've learned is that no matter how great something seems, I do NOT want to go that route unless God is walking that road with me!) So, I was drawing close to Him yesterday in the pre-crazy hours in our home, and I wrote a question in my journal, asking Him which direction He was calling us.



He led me very directly to 4 passages of Scripture that all tied in together in a way they never had before in my heart. Two of those Scriptures I really poured over were Matthew 13:44-46 and Matthew 25:31-46. One talks of the Kingdom of Heaven being like a treasure in a field that is found accidentally by a man. In his excitement, he hides the treasure again, sells all he owns and goes back to buy the field and to get the treasure too. The other Scripture talks about those who will inherit the Kingdom. He says that those who have served "the least of these" (fed the hungry, clothed the naked, invited strangers into our homes, etc) will inherit the Kingdom because whatever you do to the "least of these," you also do to Jesus. I sat pondering and soaking in these 2 passage of Scriptures. Later, my husband and I discussed them at length and in light of all the life choices we were making. If we decided to grasp the message, we knew we were being called to "sell all and buy the field."



I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in divine appointments. And yesterday morning we had one. After a long time of pondering Matthew 13 and Matthew 25, I went about my morning things. I made brunch for my family. After Sunday brunch, we almost always watch a sermon online from a nearby church that always challenges us in our spiritual walk. This has been our Sunday morning routine for a long time (we go to our local church on Sunday nights). We tuned in and found that yesterday we just couldn't get their live message. We tried 3 times, and by then I knew that there must be another message we were supposed to hear. I looked on their main page of online videos and saw one about Haiti (the pastor had traveled to Haiti last month). We love Haiti and were intrigued, so we settled in to watch his message that had been recorded over there. The title was "Treasure in the Field---Haiti." If you're interested in watching it, here's the link: www.jentezenfranklin.org/watch/ And as we listened to his message, my husband and I exchanged glances several time because Pastor Franklin quoted Matthew 13 and Matthew 25...the EXACT same Scriptures that God had given us that same morning. We KNEW beyond a shadow of any doubt that God was speaking to us.



His message? The treasure is in the field...go where the need is...pour your lives into serving "the least of these," and you will find hidden treasures of God's Kingdom...sell all and buy the field. Clear as day, that is His message to us. That is the direction He's calling us...to sell all and buy the field.



So, back to today...I was up early praying for direction. The question I wrote in my journal was this: "What does 'selling all to buy the field' look like in our lives?" We want to understand what specifically that means for us. My husband and I have committed to praying about it until we have very clear direction. This morning, I found a note in my Bible that said, "MAKE YOUR CHOICES FROM AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE."



What a concept! Stop and think about that one for a few minutes, and you'll find your whole mindset shifting. It's almost mind-boggling to consider what our lives would be like if we "sold all to buy the field," whatever that means in our own personal lives. Whatever form it takes, it means living with an eternal mindset...investing in things eternal. It speaks of giving up everything we THINK we are secure in and exchanging it for what FEELS insecure but in reality is the best security we could ever grasp our hands around. This mindset is upside-down, backwards and inside-out from the way we are trained in our society to think.



Those phrases keep running through my mind over and over: Make your choices from an eternal perspective. Sell all to buy the field.