Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Average Discipleship Allowed

I love this daily e-devotional! This one challenges me and I love that. I pray with all my heart that the last paragraph will be true of me every day of my life.

Jesus Knows You Can Have Exceptional Faith
by Jon Walker


“Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Mark 11:22-23 (NLT)
This devotional is by Jon Walker, editor of the Daily Hope Devotionals and author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's ‘The Cost of Discipleship.’

"Jesus saw it as a matter of fact that his disciples would be able to develop a noteworthy faith."


We often speak of a radical faith in Jesus and what we mean is an extreme faith where someone is committed to Jesus to the exclusion of anything or anyone else. We think of someone who sacrifices everything, who irrevocably alters his or her life in order to follow Jesus. The sacrifice is so significant that there is no turning back to the old way of life.

We are amazed by this sacrifice and we tend to think these people have an unusual and exceptional faith. Yet, the truth is their exceptional faith is what Jesus expects of us all.

In a sense, we’ve been lulled into believing there are two tiers to discipleship – there’s the basic plan and then there’s a premium package for the more pious. We think there are only a few among us -- monks, missionaries, and ministers – who are called to be more saintly while the rest of us must settle into an average discipleship.

Jesus, on the other hand, saw it as a matter of fact that his disciples would be able to develop a noteworthy faith. He said, “Have faith in God.” He didn’t say, ‘Only some of you should have faith in God.’ His command to have faith includes you and me. And, because he’s told us to grow in faith, we can not only be certain we can develop greater faith, we can also know he is working to help us become more faithful.

Jesus says our faith is based upon our trust in him. We will see the power of God working through us when we believe it will really happen and when we have no doubt in our hearts. As Pastor Rick teaches, our faith increases through our obedience to Jesus.

Jesus calls every one of us to develop an exceptional and extraordinary faith. He won’t allow us to settle into a ‘discipleship’ where we think Jesus may mean what he says but we’re not sure; or a ‘discipleship’ where we sort of agree with Jesus and sort of live according to his commands. He knows God created us for so much more.

For us to confidently live out our Decade of Destiny, we must learn to trust that Jesus really means what he says and that he will do what he says he will do. Instead of trying harder to be a faithful disciple, we must learn to trust him more.

That trust will allow us to see the kingdom of heaven like the man who finds hidden treasure in a field. He re-sorts all of his priorities because nothing is as important as buying the field. Our trust in Jesus will make us like the shopkeeper who finds a rare pearl and realizes everything else he has pales in comparison and so he never looks back to the things that once were important (Matthew 13:44-50). You will be someone who is characterized by an extreme faith.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Birthday Buddy!

It's a very special day at our house! Lukas is 8 years old today! Happy, happy birthday buddy boy! Oh what life you have brought to this family, the full belly laughs, the stubborness, the sweetness, the temper tantrums, the busyness ending in crashing on the couch before supper, the kind words that choke us up, the deep thoughts that are a window into your heart, and on and on.

We'll be partying it up tonight in honor of the birthday boy. I love celebrating birthdays with our family. It's so much fun to watch the events play out, the birthday boy or girl with perma-grin, the siblings doing their best to stay out of the spotlight, the opening of the gift with the inevitable help from 6 other hands, what a joy and a blessing!

Here are some pictures of Lukas through the years. Enjoy!





Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Love Story and Holy Ground

This post may come out as a whole bunch of rambling, but I'm going to give it a whirl anyway.

After what has felt like an eternity, we have received our adoption court date, February 14! This is going to be a Valentine's day for the books! It also happens to be Little Man's birthday (I can't write his name here, but it starts with A)! What a day for celebrating!

Waiting can be such a crazy thing. I thought that we had become quite good at it after having several opportunities to practice, not really the case. Although, I can't imagine waiting "well" for something so amazing as an adoption. One huge wait is coming to an end and some pretty big emotions have come up for me as I've been reflecting on this journey God has been laying out for us.

The thing I keep coming back to as I've been pondering, is the realization that we are standing on holy ground. God's Hand has been so very evident throughout this adoption process. The evidence of His work in bringing all of the pieces together at just the right time can be traced back for years. I am just in awe of Him. He has covered even the tiniest details and that makes my heart just sing. These children have endured some of the ugliest results of sin in this world and for that I am sad and even angry, but (I love the word "but" because it means the story doesn't end there!)my hope for them, and all of us, lies securely with our Mighty, Merciful and very personal God! He has been pursuing these children (and all of us) since before they were born, and that is Love. That's the Love I plan to celebrate this Valentine's day!

There's a song that has been swirling through my mind for months now. You can listen to it HERE. I've also included the lyrics below. It's my heart's song when I think about what God is doing on this earth.

Holy by Watermark

Holy presence, gentle brush of angel's wings
Creatures strange, breathing heavenly breaths
Encircle the throne...still they are saying...

Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
All of heaven is singing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come

Mighty God, strong to save
Who can compare?
The earth is Yours, and all that's in it
Every knee will bow
And every tongue will sing...

Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
All of heaven is singing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come

May You be worshipped on the earth in this moment
As You are worshipped there in heaven at Your throne

All this time, even before, You've been worshipped
All this time, forever unending, You'll be worshipped
All creation singing...

Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
All of heaven is singing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
Who was, and is, and is to come
Who was, and is, and is to come

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exactly...

We Pray For Children

We pray for children who put chocolate fingers everywhere, who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, who sneak Popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in their math workbooks, who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed
wire, who can’t bound in the street in a new pair of sneakers, who
never go to the circus, who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who
sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish, who hug in a hurry and forget their lunch
money, who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key, who squeeze
toothpaste all over the sink, who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those who never get dessert, who have no safe
blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents watch them die,
who can’t find any bread to steal, who don’t have any rooms to clean,
whose pictures are not on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real.

We pray for children who spend their allowances before Tuesday, who throw
tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, who like ghost stories, who
shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse the tub, who get visits from the
tooth fairy, who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool, who squirm in
church and scream in the phone, whose tears we sometimes laugh at, and whose
smiles can make us cry.

We pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime, who will eat
anything, who aren’t spoiled by anybody, who go to bed hungry and cry
themselves to sleep, and who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for the children who want to be carried and for those who must,
for those who we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.
For those we smother … and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind
enough to offer it.

Ina J. Hughes

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guatemala 2010

Here are some of the pics from Chris' trip to Guatemala. He was working on an orphanage called Open Doors which is affiliated with Paradise Bound Ministries. They have a very informative website if you're interested in learning more about them.
I'm not going to try to tell you about Chris' experience there as I know I will not do it justice. Maybe I can talk him into writing about it here. Or you may just have to ask him. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Festivities

Holy long time without posting Batman!

Fall has been quite busy around these parts. Derek has been busy with football and now is finishing up the season with an All Star team. We're looking forward to the tournament this weekend!

The weather has been fantastic this Fall so the other three kids have enjoyed lots of time outside.

Chris spent 10 days away for a work project in Guatemala. I'll try to post some pictures from that. In his words, it was "life changing"! Amazing work God's got going on there!

Enjoy some pictures from our trip to the pumpkin patch and all dressed up for trick-or-treating!

(On a side note: No word from Ethiopia yet....I'll keep you posted!)





Friday, September 17, 2010

Every Time!

Drew and Hanna love to have apple slices for a snack. This is how I find Drew's apple slices when he is finished with them. Never fails. One perfect little toothy bite from each.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Look Who's Four Today!

Happy birthday to Miss Hanna today! Wow! Four years old...amazing! She woke up this morning wondering why she wasn't any bigger than yesterday. Good question. It would make sense that if you wake up another year older you should wake up larger as well!

We're very excited for the birthday festivities over here. Hanna is off to her first real day of preschool today where she will celebrate with her new teachers and friends. Then tonight she chose to have pizza and chocolate cake with her family. She's having a hard time waiting to open her presents and keeps trying to guess what they are. She tells most people that her daddy is making her a huge doll house. Not the case. Hopefully she's not too disappointed!

Happy birthday Hanna! We love you so very much!!!!





Monday, August 23, 2010

So They Say It's Your Birthday!!!







Drew B. is the BIG #2 today! Not so baby-ish anymore! He'll still tell you he's a baby though, maybe I should stop telling him that.

It's hard to believe that he's two years old already! With a busy family life, two years have just whisked right by.

Drew is still sweet as ever! He has been exhibiting his fair share of terrible two-like episodes, so we know he's normal. He loves to make us laugh and he'll do just about anything to do it, fake burps and farts at the dinner table, wearing strange things and pretending he hadn't noticed, and then my all time favorite, forcing a fall but pretending it was an accident and yelling out "booooom!!". If the old adage that children do what they see is true, then apparently we have some issues in our home! :)

Here are some pictures of the birthday boy in his first two years. I'll try to get some of the festivities soon.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pool Days

Pool days, pool days, dear old zero rule days....
Well, we do have pool rules but not having anything we must do at any given time, this is priceless. I love summer!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Favorite Things...

It's that time of year again...time for making strawberry jam!! I love it. It feels like Grandma and Mom and Summer and childhood all smooshed up into jars....mmmmm....delish!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pocket Change

I'm a slow learner. It's true. I've been witness to some really amazing God things in my 33 years. You would think I'd have learned to wait with excitement and anticipation for Him to work in unexpected and mighty ways.

A few of our friends, along with their families, began collecting pop cans and bottles in order to raise the funds necessary to ship some baby supplies to our missionary friends in Ghana, West Africa. These friends are starting a baby home to care for little ones no one else will care for. I honestly didn't expect that we would get very far with this fund raiser, maybe a few hundred dollars. Care to take a guess at the total?

One thousand, eighteen dollars and forty cents!!!!!

No joke people!

Ten little cents at a time (plus one check). Just amazing!

The picture is from Saturday. We had the kids help out by going door to door collecting pop cans and handing out flyers. They did such a great job! They were racing from door to door and arguing over who got to talk once the door was answered. Kids helping kids! Love it!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

These two...






Today is the last day of school for Derek and Lukas. I'm just amazed at how quickly time is flying right past. Derek will be in 4th grade next year and Lukas will be in 2nd. They've both grown a lot over the year and they are looking so HUGE! I can imagine far enough down the road to the day they will tower over me. At the rate we're going, it's not far off!

These guys have their moments of not seeing eye to eye, or getting on one another's nerves. They also are GREAT buddies. They really both have such kind hearts. I feel so blessed to get to watch God growing them into young men of faith. Derek's prayers can make the hair on my body stand up straight. Lukas leaves notes around the house that bring tears to my eyes every time.

As they're getting older and gradually they are gaining more and more responsibility for their lives, I feel less and less able to protect them. I feel a bigger and bigger sense of urgency for bold prayers on their behalf. I know that the only One who can offer any real protection to them is God. In reality, I can't protect them from this world. I would leap tall buildings and climb high mountains if I needed to. But the bottom line is that the protection I want for them and the protection they need isn't physical. So I carry on as Mom, prayer warrior.

Endings and beginnings, they always make me sentimental and reflective.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Beach Babe

Hanna is a gal after her Momma's own heart. She l.o.v.e.s. the beach! She doesn't lie in the sun sipping delicious beverages like her Momma. But she really likes scooping sand and combing the beach for treasures. I forsee many'a lazy beach day in her future. Smart gal, that one.





Friday, June 4, 2010

Again!!

Drew may be one of those people who loves living on the edge of danger. He loves to be tossed and flipped and spun. He can NOT get enough! Chris was tossing him in the air at the beach last night and he cried and cried to get him to do it "again". These pictures make my heart pound but they're stunning at the same time.





Thursday, June 3, 2010

Love for Orphans Transforms

This is a great article by Jedd Medefind who is the President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. I love it!!!

Unwanted infants in ancient Rome were often disposed of via the practice of “exposing.” Whether undesirable because it was malformed, female or simply inconvenient, the child would be left alone, outside the city walls, without defense before glaring sun, icy winds or roving animals.

In 374 AD, the Christian emperor Valentinian banned the practice. But for centuries prior, a marginalized group gained a reputation for rescuing these children: Christians. The early church was known, even among many who despised it, as a people who defended the orphan. Believers went outside the city to find infants abandoned there, taking them in, and often raising them as their own. This witness was one powerful factor in the vibrant life and growth of Christianity in its first 300 years, and at other high points in history as well. It can be that way again.

Last month, 1,200 Christian orphan advocates from across America and beyond gathered in Minneapolis. At moments, the ethos and interactions felt almost electric. As one band leader expressed, “It felt like that was the first time I’d been worshipping and every person in the room was really a Christian.” I understood what he meant. From families with adopted HIV+ children, to foster parents, to individuals serving the fatherless around the globe, the spirit of that community carried the feel of the early days after Pentecost. As best I can discern, here are four key reasons why:

Caring for orphans reflects the heart of God. From Isaiah’s call to “defend the cause of the fatherless” (1:17) to James’ placement of orphan care at the heart of “pure and undefiled religion” (1:27), the biblical mandate is clear. But this is not merely God’s expectation of us; it is a mirroring of His own character. “He defends the fatherless,” declares Deuteronomy 10:18. Describes the Psalmist, “He places the lonely in families.” To be like our heavenly Father, we’re invited to do the same.

Caring for orphans makes the Gospel visible. At the heart of the Christian story is the God who pursued us when we were destitute and alone. He adopted us as His children, and invites us to live as His sons and daughters. Perhaps nothing makes this truth more tangible than when Christians follow in their Father’s footsteps, opening heart and home in unconditional affection to the child that has no claim upon them but love.

Caring for orphans defies the gods of our age. Darwinism’s sole ethical imperative is to ensure one’s own genetic material carries forward. So like Gideon tearing down his father’s idols (Judges 6), we assault this dictate when we seek to ensure the survival, and thriving, of a child that does not share our genes. Meanwhile, the purposeful sacrifices required to love this child flout the demands of other gods also, from materialism to self-actualization to comfort. The cost must be counted. But—compared to the depth and richness found along the path of caring for orphans—these false gods are shown to be as lifeless and unsatisfying as statues of bronze or wood.

Caring for orphans invites a journey of discipleship. “I see these kids changed,” explained a woman who helps Christians get involved with foster care, “But I think the parents are changed even more.” It’s true. Every family I know that’s opened themselves to parentless children has not gone unaltered. And though the road can be hard, even painful, virtually always it leads closer to Jesus. Expressed one adoptive mom recently, “People have said, ‘Oh, aren’t they lucky, you rescued them from whatever.’ And I think, Are you kidding? I’m the lucky one. I get to be their mom. And I get to be daily rescued from my selfishness, and my impatience, and things that are just as disease-ridden in my soul.”

Ultimately, here’s the result I see again and again: love for orphans transforms. It transforms children as they experience love and nurture they’ve come to live without. It transforms individual Christians, as we encounter Jesus deeply and personally in a destitute child. It transforms the broader community of believers as well, pulling us corporately beyond a religion of self-development to a costly-but-muscular faith. Finally, love for orphans transforms a watching world, as it sees—perhaps for the first time—the Gospel embodied.

Close friends from Washington, DC, Tom and Leah, adopted a little boy from an African nation two years ago. He’d been found, abandoned, at the edge of a forest, umbilical cord still attached. “He was left for the hyena,” described the old woman who discovered him when the newborn’s cry startled her milk cow.

When I heard that story, I couldn’t help thinking of the early Christians, going outside the city walls to take in abandoned infants. I feel the same about what’s going on in Colorado, where so many Christians have adopted from the foster system that the number of children waiting for adoption has been cut from nearly 800 in 2008 to just 365 today. The same goes for countless partnerships between U.S. Christians and churches abroad to care for orphans within their home countries as well.

Christians are again becoming known as a people who defend the cause of the fatherless. As we do, the world won’t be left unchanged. Neither will we.

Jedd Medefind serves as the President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day Maker

Lukas came home today with the most precious thing in his backpack. It's a writing piece done by a classmate. She writes, "Dear Lukas, The important thing about you is your heart is so wonderful to me!" Your friend, "L"

What a sweet little girl! I'm certain she has no idea how much this brightened his mommy's day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lord, may it be so!

Care for those Jesus cares about
by Rick Warren


The Lord replied, "Don't say, 'I'm too young,' for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you." Jeremiah 1:7 (NLT)
"Maybe you've been waiting for some supernatural feeling or experience, but God has already stated his call for you. The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance."


Whether it was Sarah claiming she was too old to be used by God or Jeremiah claiming he was too young, God rejected their excuses. "Don't say that," the Lord replied, "for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you." (Jeremiah 1:7-8 NLT)

Maybe you've believed that you needed a special "call" from God, and you've been waiting for some supernatural feeling or experience, but God has already stated his call for you. He doesn't want to use just some of his people; he wants to use all of his people. We're all called to be on-mission for God. He wants his whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

If you want to be like Jesus, you must care about what he cares about most; you must have a heart for the whole world! You can't be satisfied with just your family and friends coming to Christ. There are over six billion people on earth, and Jesus wants all his lost children found.

The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance. Jesus said, "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live." (Mark 8:35 LB

Sunday, May 16, 2010

...oh and a couple more...





20-ish Months

So much for 18 month pictures for Drew. That milestone has come and gone. He is, however, the only child in this family to have ever had 21 month pictures taken! Enjoy a few...