Monday, March 29, 2010

"My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him."

Derek Loux

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

What a gift we have been experiencing this year as we study and celebrate the biblical feasts.  So far this (school) year, we've celebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, and last night we celebrated Passover (which really begins on Tuesday, but it worked better for us to have our celebration on Saturday).  We've also been celebrating the Sabbath (starting on Saturday night) for the past few years with other brethren in our church body.

Our friends, The Croslands and The Bursheks have joined us for each of the feasts, and this has made it so much fun.  I have had the special privilege of being the main organizer and truly that has been a privilege.  I have learned so much about how Jesus is prevelant in many of the feasts.  For example, did you know that one of the traditional practices in the Passover feast is to have a plate with three matzos on the table?  They are called a "unity" (hmmm....sounds a lot like the trinity!).  During the ceremony, the middle matzo is broken and half of it is wrapped in a linen cloth and is hidden.  At the end of the celebration, the children find the hidden matzo!  Could there be a clearer propehtic symbol of Christ?!

I would so love to encourage you to get the book Celebrating Biblical Feasts by Martha Zimmerman, and to incorporate some of the feasts into your home, or better yet, your church body, in this coming year.  I guarantee that you will be blessed.

my little noodle-lovin' girl

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Okay, so I know that Ramen noodles have absolutely no nutritional value,
but this little girly sure loves 'em! 
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a change of plans, a slight level of frenzy and dad saves the day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We had such a fun time yesterday for Jadon's birthday. On the evening of the 22nd, we had a little family celebration. The other kids gave Jadon their gifts and he was all smiles and "thank you's." Adam always takes special delight in getting something special for Jadon.
The next day (on Jadon's birthday), Caleb and Elijah came over to play. It was a fun morning!

Caleb and Elijah usually join us for school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. So they stayed at our house, while Jadon went next door to make this fabulous cake with his nona (thanks so much, Tonja!). Jadon was so excited to get to miss school for this special event. He kept telling people, "I get to miss school on my birthday!"
The plan was to have a few other friends over after school to play street hockey and eat cake. But by the time Jadon's friends arrived, it was snowing hard!

Plan B was to play some indoor games. This game is called Ninja and Jadon loves it. As a side note, he and Lily are really good at the game and Jadon told me that it was because they were "Chinese people" (too cute!).

Then it was time for cake!

It was delicious!

After the cake, a slight level of frenzy seemed to take over. But Dad saved the day, and took the kids out for street hockey, despite the winter weather.

We had a great time (some of us indoors and some of us outdoors!). What a fun birthday and such a fun group of friends!

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Happy Birthday Jadon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My sweet little guy turns 9 years old today! This is one of my favorite pictures of Jadon, because it shows his gentle, thoughtful side. He's definitely a little boy--full of spunk and zest and so much fun! But he's also sweet, cuddly and affectionate. Jadon is a real treasure!Happy Birthday, precious Jadon! I love you!!

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Whatever happened to Acts 2? -or- Why I live in America (part 2).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:43-47

In the post below, I said that I want to be the sort of person who would love to give myself away for the love of God and for others. I said that the church in America is desperate for this sort of person.

But now I am going to say something more.
I am going to say something very un-American...

No one can do this on their own.

No matter how good a person might be, no matter how much that person loves God, no matter how wonderful of a ministry he/she might have, one person


is not
and cannot be
the Church.

In the early Church, the disciples shared with all who had need, broke bread together each day, were of one mind, had glad and joyful hearts...

When they gave their lives to Christ, it meant something. When they gave their lives to Christ they did not just pray a prayer of salvation, but they gave themselves away for the sake of their precious Lord, and for the sake of their brothers and sisters. They gave up their old way of life and took on a completely new way. They actually believed that they needed their brothers and sisters to call them on to live this new way of life.

The Way

Where is this Church in America?

Where is the Bride of Christ? His beautiful Bride, for whom He is coming back?

I'm afraid that it is all but absent.

all but absent

but not completely absent

And that is why I live in America.

Because I believe that there are still those in America who long to live like the Bride of Christ. I believe that there are still those in America who recognize that the Church in Acts 2 was just a baby Church, and that we are supposed to actually be more mature, more commited to love, more willing to give our lives away than the early disciples were.

I actually even know some of these outrageous and crazy people.

totally bizarre

They're actually trying to live as if The Book were true.

crazy, I tell ya

absolutely crazy

(Care to join us?)

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Why I live in America...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Although America has many sincere Christians, the majority of the people here have no religion. Here, where it is easy to have religion, where religion is offered at every side, and no one is persecuted for being a Christian, life should be happy and peaceful because of Christianity. But it is not. Instead, there is a hustle and bustle after money and comfort and pleasure, and that all clouds out thoughts of religion. Because it is so easy to have faith in this country, Americans do not appreciate what a comfort there is in religion. At one time the ostrich could fly, but because it did not ever use its wings, it lost its ability to do so. Just so, the people here who do not appreciate the religious faith of their fathers shall lose it.
Sundar Sing, 1920

...because the church in the U.S. desperately needs Christians who are willing to completely give their lives away for the love of God and for one another.

I want to be one of those people.

Because He is worth it.

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Flashback Friday

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh how I love this little sprite! Can you imagine if we had said that four was enough?! We would have missed out on all of the wonderful dances, giggles, hugs, kisses and I love you's. Thank you, Jesus, for this wonderful little gift of grace to our family. She is truly a treasure.

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doggie doo doo

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Update: Rosie went to the vet and she prescribed an antiparisitic medication. We have a great vet and she only charged us $20, including the medication. Rosemary is much better already, and we actually slept last night! Woohoo!!
Our poor little Rosie-girl has been sick for the past couple of days. I'll spare you the details, but I will say that the title of this post is no accident and that her breed of dog has very long hair in the back. We have been giving her a bath about 6 or 7 times per day (and some of those have been in the middle of the night!). Hmmm...not so fun!!

Anyway, we've been a little tired around here. So, Rosie is off to the vet. And me? I could sure use a nap!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

hehehe...we actually really like mondays, but I couldn't resist this picture

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buttons and other technological questions

Sunday, March 14, 2010

With Jennifer's help, I was finally able to add 3 new buttons. And it's perfect timing (after my last post), because I know that many of you LOVE to give!! It's just so much fun, isn't it?! So check out Amazia Ministries, Sarah's Covenant Homes and Jennifer's family who is working hard to bring home precious little Nathan. All of these people love Jesus and are doing wonderful things for orphans. Could you help them in any way? I know that they would greatly apprciate it!

On the topic of buttons, I wonder if anyone could give a little help to someone who is very non-technologically inclined (uh...that would be me!). I have four questions.

1) How do you link to another site without including the whole site address?
2) How do you make pictures larger?
3) Is there a way to upload higher quality videos to blogger? My camera can take higher quality video and I can download it to my computer, but I can't upload it to blogger.
4) Why can't I format a post the way I would like to format it? I especially have trouble with getting the right spacing. I space everything how I want it while I'm typing, but then it doesn't have any spaces in the post.

Thanks so much for your help!!

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the line

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? Luke 16:11
For the past two years, the Lord has taken me on a journey--a journey deeper into Himself. He took me through a season of testing and trial, and then He poured out His grace upon me in a way that was wondrous and glorious. This time has changed my perspective on many things, and has refined my perspective on some other things. But, perhaps the greatest change that has come about in my life is in the way that I see money--the unrighteous mammon of this world.
Now, this change has been somewhat of a surprise to me. Because, unlike many other people's experience, I have never had what you might call a "love of money." In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say that I had a "hate of money" and much of what it represented. But friends, though I believed that this hate was righteous, it really wasn't. I not only hated the money itself, I hated those whom I deemed were using money in an unrighteous fashion. Now, of course I would not say that I hated them, but in actuality, I did.
I believed that there was a line--a line between righteous spending and unrighteous spending. And though I knew that I was not fully on the righteous side, I did believe that I was generally in that category. And you know what? I thought that many others were not. I judged their hearts in a way that only God can do, and I made my agenda higher than God.
Friends, I still believe that there is a line. But, that line has much more to do with love than with a checklist of do's and don'ts. My focus has changed from judging what I think others should be doing, to being so very grateful that God has given me the resources to give generously. That line represents absolute and total joy in submitting to the Father's will for the money that He has given to me and how I can use it to help others.
He's given me so very much. Friends, He's also given you so very much. Now, please know that what I am about to say has nothing to do with judgment. I absolutely cannot know what you should do with the money and resources that God has given you. And honestly, I have given up judging others in this realm.
But friends, the fact is that people are starving. 20,000 children will die today for lack of food and water.
The fact is that there are 147 million orphans in the world. They have no parents and the ones who actually live in orphanages are the lucky ones.
The fact is that people are dying for their faith and are leaving behind wives and children who have no means of support.
I had to ask myself--Do I really need a new couch? We got the old one (which is a futon) years ago at a garage sale and it is not the most comfortable for elderly guests to sit on.
I had to ask myself--Are new cabinets necessary? They are ugly and dented.
But friends, they were fleeting questions, because I know the line that God has given to me. And that line has nothing to do with what I should do, and everything to do with love. It is such a joy to give, and if we buy those things, I would have nothing left to give. I love Jesus, and I want to use what He has given for His glory!
Dear ones, I am not saying that no one should buy a couch or get new cabinets. There are things that we have bought that we didn't need, because we thought that buying them was the most loving thing to do in that situation. There are also things that I have bought that I have regretted buying later on. We didn't need them, we only thought that we needed them.
But God is gracious and He keeps teaching me. He's not so concerned about our mistakes, but He does want us to move forward in love. I expect that some of the things that I think I need today, will no longer be needs 10 years from now. I'm immature. But, I am maturing. And I want to continue growing in Christ because I love Him so much.
And that's the point. It's all about love. It's all about His love that He wants to pour out on a lost and lonely world. And it is so much fun to take part in that sort of love!! There is a line. But, it's a line of love. Isn't that just like Jesus?! He's all about love, isn't He?!

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clean cut

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The boys' hair was getting a little scraggly, so I got out the clippers and scissors and gave them each a trim.
My handsome hubby
Precious Adam.

Sweet Jadon.

Rosie needed a trim, as well (her ears were lopsided!).

Isn't she the sweetest little thing?!

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Monday, March 8, 2010

My friend, Suzanne, is a florist with a BIG heart.
On Saturday, when she and her husband came to our house for dinner, she brought a little spring with her.
Aren't they beautiful?! Calla Lilies are my favorite, and they look wonderful with the irises and tulips.
At Christmas time, Suzanne gave us a bouquet of flowers with a separate type of flower for each member of our family. How sweet is that?!
She even brought over flowers once when we were sick (sorry, I don't have a picture of that one).
I gotta say...
I feel blessed.

By the flowers?
By the friendship?

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Homeschooling with Grace

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oh my! It is so much fun to do school with Grace! As I mentioned in an earlier post, teaching her to read is just like teaching Adam to read. Reading a single word might take them on a tangent that lasts five minutes (you'll see this happen about half-way through the video that I posted below--which is why I posted this video, instead of one where she actually reads something!). The only difference between Grace and Adam is that Grace doesn't stand on her head during her reading lesson. lol!

She's acutally doing a great job reading, though. I tried to start reading a little earlier in the year, but she just wasn't interested. Then, a few weeks ago, she started asking about words in all of her books. She wanted to read! That's one of the wonderful things about homeschooling. I can let my children go at their own pace, when they are ready. Also, Grace can wander all around the house, and I can just wait until she gets back!

And there she goes!! (She did actually finish this lesson! And Adam can sit still now that he's 11!! I'm sure that Grace will get to that point...some day! lol!)

Grace loves numbers. Adam has been doing each of the activities with Grace that are printed on the back of these cards. They have a great time together!

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healing the orphan spirit

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A few months ago, I posted a promise that God had given me regarding one of our children. (You can read about it here: He said that He would give generous wisdom to us as we entrusted Him with one of our dearest treasures. This child had had a very traumatic past and was having difficulty trusting us (especially me). She was holding on to an orphan spirit, and we so wanted her to have a spirit of adoption! God promised that He was going to work wonderously in this child's life and I firmly believe that He is doing just that!

When we adopted this particular child, I decided that we could fix all of her problems if we just remained consistent, loving and firm. After all, I was a very competent person and I could take care of everything that she needed if I just stuck with it. Our consistency did bring about a degree of compliance. She seemed to be doing well and many people commented on how well-adjusted she seemed. Let me be clear--she was and is well-adjusted in many ways. She is a wonderful person! But, there was still something that wasn't quite right. There was a way that she was emotionally immature and unable to trust. This was the real issue that needed to be addressed.
So...we tried every possible thing that we could think of to help her to become emotionally secure and relationally mature. I always seemed to be attempting a new technique that might help a bit. I focused a lot on time together and specific teaching (eg. how to greet someone at the door, how to give gentle hugs, how to order in a restaurant, how to pray, etc.).
But you know what?
None of it got to the heart of the issue.
Then, one day, when I was feeling just a little bit desperate, I asked two women from our church (who had grown children) for some advice.
And you know what they said?!
Pray blessings over her.
Yep. That's it. That's all they said.
Hmmm....I wasn't really satisfied.
Where were the techniques?
Where were the things that I could accomplish?
I mean, c'mon, we did pray for her already.
But, I thought about what they said. I told David about their advice. And we began to sneak into her room after she was asleep and to pray blessings over her life. We prayed for freedom, and for the knowledge of the love of God. We prayed for a heart of love and a heart of maturity. We prayed for a zealous life, given over to the Lord.
And then, I totally backed off. I stopped giving constant instructions. I stopped trying to control her behavior (she can get a little socially inappropriate, but honestly, it's nothing big at all and I just had to get over it!). And I've stopped having expectations that her growth and maturity should look just like other children's growth and maturity.
And you know what?
She is maturing.
She is growing.
She is truly starting to trust me more.
It's really slow.
But it is happening. And I'm so grateful.
God is fulfilling His promises.
He is molding this precious child into a daughter.
She is no longer an orphan and she is starting to know this and to feel this and to live like this.
It is going to take time.
But, He's got lots of time.
We've got lots of time.
We're in no rush.
He's working.
And it's glorious!

Anyone want to join us?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If you've got a girl aged 10 or older, you've just got to look into this incredible conference. It's called Set Apart Girl, and it's taking place May 28-30 in beautiful Colorado! Here's what it's all about:

"This is not your typical girl's conference! It's an inspiring call to enter the battle for Truth. It is a challenge to die to self, lay everything on the altar before God, and discover His incredible purpose for your life. You will be challenged to let God gently purge anything from your life that is standing in the way of Him receiving full glory in and through your femininity; to exchange the frivolous for the eternal. You will be motivated to leave your comfort zone and pour out your life for the least and lost around the world.

"This conference is for young women of all ages - for anyone who is ready to leave behind the trivial things of this world and respond to the sacred call God has upon your life - to change this world for the glory of Christ. God's sacred intent for us goes far beyond adding some Christian morality to our self-indulgent lives. His intent for you and me is nothing short of absolute abandonment to Jesus Christ, entire separation from the pollution of the world, and ardent worship of our King with every breath we take. And that is the message of this unforgettable weekend."

Doesn't it sound great?! And another really incredible thing is that they have an orphan care track for girls ages 15 and older. My girls aren't old enough to go to those sessions this year, but you can bet that I'll be trying to talk to people about it throughout the weekend.

I'd love to have some of you join us for this conference. And if you need a place to stay, we live just 15 minutes from the place where the conference is being held. So if you don't mind a little squishiness...:)

Here's where you can get more information:

a pearl

Monday, March 1, 2010

God is so gracious. This past weekend I went on a retreat, and God spoke to me about many things in a very personal way. In one sense, this made the weekend difficult. I have come home, wrestling with some things, seeking the heart of God and what He wants for me and for others. In other, ways, of course, the words that the Lord gave to me were a sweet balm for my soul. He is always so kind.

One of the speakers at the retreat shared two stories that were very personal to her. She called them "pearls". And though she was hesitant to share them because of their personal nature, she really felt that the Lord had asked her to do just that. Friends, I was so blessed by these stories. They were from the very heart of God.

Often, I am hesitant to share the things that the Lord is telling me because of their intimate nature. But today, I believe the Lord wants me to share one story from the retreat. He wants me to share it because He wants you to know how insanely much He loves you, how much a heart that is towards Him truly touches His heart, and how much it means to Him when we love Him in the midst of difficulties. Here is my "pearl":

On Friday evening, when we arrived at the retreat, I was feeling in a bit of a slump. I have had a cold that has been hanging on for almost two weeks now, I was tired and I was totally preoccupied by thoughts of the 147 million orphans of the world, and the 20,000 children who would die that day for lack of food and water. I was not really in the mood to socialize!

We spent a little time in worship and then listened to a speaker. My mind was totally not there. But then we started to worship again. I moved to the back of the room, so that I could have a little space and also so that I could stay awake. The song that we were singing was truly beautiful and I felt God bringing me to a place of worship. After a little while, I glanced to my right. There was a woman standing a little ways away, worshipping. She looked beautiful...I mean absolutely radiant. And then I felt the heart of God for this woman. "I just love her so much. Isn't she radiant?" He said. It seemed as If our Lord was choking back tears. He was just so in love with this woman.

I looked around me. There were many other women worshipping. They were beautiful, as well, but none of them even came close to the radiance that this woman exuded. "What is it about this woman, Lord? Why is she so radiant?"

He didn't answer me. Instead He told me to go and tell her how much He loved her.

Okay....I guess that I could do that. I mean, who wouldn't like to hear about God's love for them? So, after a few minutes I walked over to this woman and said. "You know, when you were worshipping, you looked absolutely radiant. The Lord wants you to know how much He loves you."

That's it. I hardly even looked her in the eyes. I just delivered my message and walked away. I thought that it was over...but I was wrong.

The next evening, we were getting ready for worship again. The woman whom I had talked with the night before, walked up to the front to share a testimony and to encourage us in our worship. She talked for awhile about some of the things that God had been showing her over the past few years due to illnesses in her family, and then she shared something very personal. Her one year old son had cancer. He had a 50% chance of making it through the year. But, through this incredible trial, the Lord was showing her what it meant to worship Him because He is worthy no matter our circumstances, no matter what might happen to her son. He is worthy.

Friends, I was in tears. This woman had endured so much pain and still wanted to worship our precious Lord. No wonder He was so taken with her. No wonder He wanted her to know of His deep affection and care for her. No wonder He had to choke back tears when he spoke of His love for her. She truly was a jewel in the crown of our beautiful Jesus.

After the woman got down from the stage, I went over and hugged her. Through tears, I tried to explain more of what the Father had conveyed to me about His love for her. "I didn't know last night why he wanted me to tell you this."

"I knew," she said, with a face still radiant with His love. "I knew."

My friends, do you know that He loves you in the same way? He loves you with a love that is uncontainable. He loves you in such a way that He has to choke back tears when He speaks of you. And when you worship Him in the midst of trials, His heart is completely ravished by you. Dear ones, His heart is completely for you. He will move heaven and earth so that you will know His love. You are radiant to Him.

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