Saturday, August 28, 2010

Changes Brewing

There are some changes taking place in our family, big changes.  And no, we are not adding another family member at the moment for those that had that as a first thought.

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to word this and it's just not coming.  So, I'm going to get straight to the point.  I, personally, am going to be taking an extended leave from the internet.  That means blogs, Facebook, and e-mail, research...everything.  I've been convicted about where my time goes and a lot of it is wasted on the internet.  As a people,  I believe that so often we come up with millions of reasons why we can't do this or can't do that, when in reality our busy schedule is very unnecessary.  I know that for me, the time that I spend on Facebook, e-mail, blogs, and research (even for good things) eats up a lot of my time.  While it's not something that I feel I need to give up forever, I do feel that it needs to be taken out of my life for an extended period of time so that I can focus on the things that matter.  Top priorities first and when those are balanced then I might add some internet time back in.  Honestly, I don't know how much I will add it back in.  When we got rid of TV we wondered what the heck we would do with the time!  Now we wonder how we wasted so much time in front of a screen watching meaningless stuff.  I believe that it held me back from stepping into the fullness of who God has called me to be.  It was a great distraction.

What is it that really matters?  Well, my family matters of course, and they are getting my time already.  Sure, sometimes in the morning I will check e-mail, and naptime can have some moments for getting online, but really that's not where the bulk of my issue lies.

People matter.  Sharing the gospel and pouring into peoples lives is what matters.  Building relationships that are deep enough to feel you are able to call on each other for anything is what matters.  We were built this way.  Often it's the things that are not shared directly that cause change in our lives.  Would you agree?  There are times when advice is given to me that I listen to and make changes accordingly, but I think that some of the most powerful changes I have made in my life and in my thoughts come from watching what the Lord is doing in someone else's life, from being around them and seeing changes in them.  It is often unspoken things that have the most power.  So, while I love sharing with you here, you are only getting part of me.  You aren't seeing as much of my weak side as you would in real life (because I can't share with you what I'm not aware of for one thing).  The Lord is really speaking to me about investing time in people.  People that are here in my very close proximity community.  Not 20 minutes away, more like within 5 minutes or so.

We recently started going to church in a new location.  The small church that we attended previously dissolved and one thing that was very important to me (and Handsome agreed, but wasn't caring as much as myself) was that we attend very close to our home.  It was important to me that we live near our new building so that we had a greater chance of connecting with people that live RIGHT HERE.  People that we have more ability to spend face time with so that we can connect the way we were meant to connect.  I am not able to place my hand on the shoulder of a person over the internet.  I cannot look into your eyes when we speak and ask if I can pray for you.  There are just things that are not possible to do in this venue.  Things that are very important.  Things that I think we are getting farther from all the time.  While this location for church is not exactly what I had in mind in some areas, I KNOW that it's where we are supposed to be right now.  And things are happening.  God is using this new connection.  And it's exciting.  It can also be said that it is stretching me (but not by negative events, by good ones).

So, what am I saying?  I'm saying that I feel strongly that the Lord wants me to focus on creating strong relationships with people that are near us.  Discipleship if you will.  For my growth.  For their growth.

Couldn't I do that while not going offline?  Aren't I being a little extreme?  Well, I wondered those same things and tested to be sure that this was not from my own mind, but from the Lord.  I do feel confident that it is.  You see, there are many people in our lives that can be ministered to.  SO MANY!  There are many people that can minister to us.  BUT.  But it's about quality, not quantity.  I read recently about how Jesus chose 12.  He chose 12 men to pour his time and teaching into.  12.  That's it.  God himself in human form chose to limit himself to 12 men.  He really lived day in and day out focused on growing them, teaching them the things of God so that they in turn could go out and pour into others.  Teaching is important, but investing your time, your LIFE into others is what creates change.  And I don't just want to be a part of a church who grows in knowledge.  I don't just want MY life to grow closer to the Lord.  I want to be part of growing the love of God in others!  That's what He called us to do.  I don't want to be a person who shares the gospel and then leaves much to be desired by way of what to do next.  (Some might be called to that, but I know that's not me.)

Can I be honest?  I don't think that I can recall one person that I have really shared the gospel with.  Ever.  You know why?  Part of why is because for the longest time I didn't even know how one would do that.  I shared parts of what I believe, but I didn't ever feel like I was spreading the kingdom of God.  When I invest my time into the depths of a person's spirit, when I spend time in prayer and sharing the deep parts of me and listening to the deep thoughts of them- I feel like I'm doing something.  I know that both of our lives are being changed.  But it takes time.  It takes investment.  THAT'S what I want to invest in.  I want to invest where it will make the most quality difference.  I want the most bang for my time bucks =).  When I stand before my Lord one day, I want to know that I did the most that I could with what I had and I am not going to let anything get in the way.  I'm not going to let fear, distraction, doubt (of myself or the Lord), or anything get in the way.  Show it to me Lord, and I will change it!

He has showed me the wasted time I spend on this box in front of this screen.  I will change it.  For if we truly fear the Lord, we will make quick changes where they are brought to our attention.

Now, I do have a few things that I want to share with you before I go offline.  I am still trying to figure out how to share them and when to do so, but they may still come in the next week or two.  After that, I will most likely be offline for the most part for a year or so.  I want to give enough time to the change to really see results happen.  If the Lord doesn't direct me otherwise, I would like to post after that time to share with you the changes that have taken place in our lives (we have a lot of changes going right now).  That is IF anybody remembers us by then =D.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I was just thinking of how thankful I am.  Thankful for so many amazing men and women that God has placed in front of me.  I thought I would share some of their awesomeness with you.  Is that okay with you?  Okay.  These are the kind of people that really make good examples of what I want to be like.  They reflect the Lord in great ways.  I figured that if they help me to see the Lord more clearly, something just might be sparked in you as well.

I was thinking about a young woman that I know that has such modesty and purity.  She is so careful about what comes out of her mouth and what she wears.  She takes great care in the choices she makes in friends so that she will surround herself with people that draw her closer to her creator instead of constantly being around people that compromise her beliefs.  Watching her life and how pure her spirit is has really shown me what longing for holiness looks like.  Her choices pay off and she is such a sweet young woman that carries herself in a very gentle way.

Then there is another that is my example of compassion.  Her heart is filled to the brim with love for people that she doesn't even know.  Well, she knows them now, but her heart was filled with compassion before she even met them.  She know resides in Africa taking care of many young children in the name of Christ.  At a young age she moved there and started adopting children.  BY HERSELF (no husband, no parents, just her and Jesus).  Her compassionate heart is an earthly view of the heart of God.

We have an older gentleman at church who is filled with such wisdom.  He has perfect answers when people are going through really hard stuff.  Something about him just makes you want to be around him for hours soaking in his wisdom.  You know those movies with the old man in the shack that people come to seeking answers to the meaning of life and such?  You know...they guy who speaks in weird, choppy, abnormal sentences that make the person think deeply to gain that fullness of what he is really saying?  Guys kinda like Yoda?  Well, he's like that.  Except he speaks in real words and he lives in the normal part of town.  I sometimes wish I was wise like that.

I know some guys who are working on a construction project that will help many people without homes have somewhere to live.  They surely use their talents for God's glory and I have to say that's been speaking to my heart lately.  What are my talents and how do I use them for God?  Watching them has brought that question to the forefront for me.

Have you ever known someone that is obscenely gentle?  Someone filled with "make you sick" gentleness and peace?  Someone that you just want to tick off so that you can see they are human?!?  No?  Oh.  Me neither.  But I DO know someone like that.  And I love to be in her presence because her peace just takes over you and it's so much easier to be peaceful when she is around.

I know a guy who is at war right now.  He isn't just doing it because he gets paid to.  He isn't just your normal soldier.  This guy is filled with righteous anger.  He wants to free the oppressed.  He has a passion for bringing justice to people's lives.  THAT'S why he is fighting.  He is inspiring and has such a way of filling you up with a passion for what is right.  He makes your desire to do things the right way.  There is a spark and fire for justice that is contageous!  I tell ya, he'll make y'all want to set some captives free!

You know what else inspires me?  The honesty of children.  Not just the honesty by way of calling people fat and telling them their breath stinks, but how they are honest about themselves.  "Did you do _____?"  "Yes." they say with a guilty, sad face.  The honesty of children inspires me too.

Then, then there is my husband.  He knows me better than I feel like I know myself sometimes.  He will be honest with me about things that I don't even see in myself.  I love that about him.  I love how he knows what I need more than I could express it and how he often does exactly what I need to make me feel better.  He sees that I've had a rough day a does the dishes for me.  I don't have to ask.  We had a time at church where the pastor broke us into groups and one person was supposed to pray for the group.  He says that he believes that the person praying for the group will hear word from the Lord on what to pray.  I believe that too...but I don't necessarily want to DO it!  But, my husband is my leader.  I must submit to him and he knows that I need to grow comfortable with praying for other he suggested that I do it.  And, I did.  He knew it would be uncomfortable for me, but he also knew it was best for me.  I might have been shaking afterward for a little bit because of it, but I did hear from the Lord!  And a man that was in our prayer circle gave his life to the LORD that day!

Now tell me, what do people like that do to you?  I'll tell you what they do to me, they make me want to be more like them.  They inspire me.  They rile up the inner parts of my spirit.  They change my demeanor when I am with them.  They are the kind of people I want to surround myself with.

Now.  Let me tell you something else.

Most of those people aren't even real.  A few of them are real and some are based on some truths, but most are not actual people.  The thing is, they are easy to think of in human terms.  We can see that in our minds and grasp what those people are like.  It's easy to praise them.

Do you catch my drift?

Sometimes God is so much beyond our comprehension that it's hard to really praise Him.  I'm sure plenty of people out there are beyond this, but for any that have been like me, I thought it might be helpful to share this picture that God gave me to help me relate to His awesomeness more.

Did anyone come to your mind when I spoke of the pure young lady?  God is more pure.  1,000 times over.  He is HOLY and clean.  There is not one tiny speck of unholiness in Him.  Do you believe that?

What about the young woman serving in Africa?  The one who brings hope to so many lost?  Did you think of someone compassionate as she?  (Did you think of the young Katie who actually lives that?)  God's compassion is far greater than hers.  He sacrificed intensely beyond what she has given up to serve the ones He loves.  Do you believe that?

The old Yoda man?  (I thought of Yoda after my last post =)...)  God's wisdom is perfect and He is ready and trying to share it with you!  God WILL speak to you.  Listen for his wisdom and guidance.  If you belong to Him, He WILL speak to you.  If that weren't true, he would not have said that His sheep know His voice.  Do you believe that?

Builders.  Men who use their hands to bring forth great buildings or buildings that serve many stand in awe of what their hands have made.  God's work is perfection.  The work of men leaves destruction in it's path.  It lasts for a time and then is gone.  God's work is forever.  It works together in harmony.  When something God has made breaks or begins to die, it doesn't turn into junk.  It just becomes something else.  When a tree falls, it becomes a nurse log.  When milk (real raw milk) starts to go sour, it turns to yogurt.  When an animal dies it becomes food for another.  ...and so on.  God built perfection.  Do you believe that?

God is gentle.  When we come into His presence His peace overcomes us to the core.  We need time with Him.  We need to be with Him so that we will grow in peace and gentleness.  It is something that will transform you.  It will transform me.  Do you believe that?

God is just.  He has a heart for justice and does not leave the oppressed there all alone.  Sadly, we praise men for that, valiant men who bring freedom.  But what about God.  God has brought ultimate freedom.  He brings justice for the wronged.  He sets captives free.  Free from the physical things that bring troubles, and freedom from the things that have held us on a totally deeper level.  He will free you from anger, He will free you from fear, He will free you of self hatred, He will free you of pride.  He will set you free of it all.  Do you believe that?

God is not only honest, He IS TRUTH.  He doesn't speak truth, He is truth.  There is nothing untrue in Him.  You can trust anything He says and you can count on Him to speak truth to you.  He is a friend that not only speaks truth about where you fall short, He stands beside you the whole way through overcoming.  He tells you just what to do to be healed.  He never tells you what you want to hear.  How about that?  Do you believe it?

And the intimate knowledge of who you are...God knows more than all.  The ways that I love my husband, the way he does what is best for me even when it is uncomfortable, the way he knows just what I need, the way he comforts me, the way he is always there close by and will drop everything just for me- God is that too.  He loves you more intimately than any human being can, he knows you far better than you know yourself.  He is worthy of your submission and will lead you into things far greater than what you would ask for yourself.  They may look ugly and undesirable at first, but God sees in truth because He is truth.  He will guide you into whats best for you if you give Him the chance.  Do you believe that?  Enough to step out and trust Him with everything even if it looks like a dead end?

Praise Him.  Praise Him for who He is.  Praise Him for what He has done.  Praise Him for no other reason than the fact that He is all in all.  He is Alpha and Omega, the source and the ending.  He is God!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Word on Love from the LORD

So, it is morning time.  My children are in bed sleeping and I am quietly drinking my warm cup of coffee.  Today the LORD roused me a bit later than yesterday.  Yesterday I asked, "Are YOU serious LORD?  You want me to get up this early?  Surely the baby just needed to eat extra early and I can go back to bed for a little while..."  But He said that indeed He wanted me to stay up and have time with Him.  And I did.

Yesterday the He gave me some great words.  He told me some very important things that included a call that is very long term.  One of my lifelong callings.  You know, the kind of mission that the LORD gives you that will not be finished in a year or even five, a mission that you are to walk out for an extended period of time...  Anyway, it was a morning that left me thanking Him for the very early wakening and I almost felt as though I would have liked more time.  Not because there was more to hear, more to do.  Just because it's nice to sit out in the quiet with Him longer sometimes.

But I know myself.  I know that I do not like to keep up with getting up in the early morning even though I know why it is the best time of day to do it for me.

And I am going to take a second here to explain that because I used to think it was just some rule that someone added saying that you should start your day with the LORD because your day will go better.  Now, that might be true sometimes, but getting up in the morning to spend time with Him is not something you should do.  Should is a word that means something is done out of the wrong heart.  Should will get in the way of you growing a deep love for the LORD every single time, so please do right by yourself and God by letting go of every single should that you have regarding Him.  Trust me, if you seek Him then He will bring you back to most of those "should"s later, but your heart will be right about it.  And as I was saying, your day will often go well if you spend time with Him in the morning, but that's not why I think it's important.  For one thing, that has a ME attitude.  It is about what God can do for me...and that's not what it is about.  Have you ever noticed how your mind is more in tune with spiritual things at night when you sleep?  There is a lot of "noise" in your life that can drown out the things of God, the things of spiritual nature.  At night, things slow down and you are not on hyper-stimulus mode, this opens up some room for your ears to actually hear what is going on in the spiritual.  So, in the morning, I find that I am more open and can hear God more clearly because I'm more "clear".  The waters of my mind and spirit are clear and calm, ready for God to make the first waves.  And then...well, then those waves are what directs the rest of the day.  Does that make sense?

Okay, so back to the fact that I have shown myself to be lazy it was an hour later than yesterday when I woke.  I looked at the clock and said, "Are you serious LORD?!  That can't possibly be enough time!"  HA!  Isn't that just like a human being too?  We aren't happy with anything =)  So, I got up and made my coffee and started praying over the time we were about to have together and I asked God to give me a stronger love for Him.  I said something about having a taste of great hunger for Him and how I know that it is easy for that to dissipate and asked Him to grow that hunger for Him ten-fold.  Strangely, He stopped me.  I felt a disconnect in the prayer and I'm not sure if that makes sense to you, but I knew He wasn't pleased with that.

"WHAT?!  LORD, what can be wrong with that?  What don't you like there?  I am asking you to grow my love for you...I don't understand."

You know what He said?  He said, you are thinking in thoughts that are focused on YOU.  He then said, "Out of commitment, real love grows."  (Yes, I see how that sounds to God about that, not me.)  He said that love is a choice, which I know.  Then he quickened my heart to think of Ana as an example.  We did not have true love for her before we met her, and even after we brought her home we were still in the beginning stages of love with her.  We made a commitment to be her parents before we loved her and we acted out that commitment, but love didn't come right away.  I guess love did come right away because love was that act.  Love was being what she needed before we felt connected with her.  Love was action based on choice, not feelings.  And then the feelings came.  And feelings that grow out of an uncomfortable act are very deep.

Just remember, if you make a choice to love God, don't do it because you should.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Daddy Hairstyles

And that's what happens on OT mornings when Daddy is in charge of hair.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tonya's Family

You remember this sweet face?

I don't know why I haven't blogged asking you guys for prayer, but I haven't had the thought cross my mind until today.  And then I was like HELLO!  Why haven't you done that!

So, Tonya's family is in country right now and has hit some bumps in the road.  They are having a different experience than ours by quite a bit and I would appreciate if you all could take a moment right now and pray for them.  They didn't have an apartment to rent when they got there and had to get a hotel.  They have had a paperwork issue with the family of origin that is turning out to be very difficult and things are taking longer than expected.  Please pray that the issues are resolved for them and for the remainder of the process.  They have met their little girl and things have gone well with that, so we praise God for His blessing on their connection.  She wouldn't hold still enough for pictures last I heard =).  She ran into her Mama's arms when they met.  That is a blessed moment for a Mommy to have.

Guys, it's a rough thing to be away from family for so long and to be in such a different place doing something that is all legal and in your name when you have no clue what is going on half the time.  While there are wonderful moments in country, it. is. hard.  It's very emotional.  You hit moments when you just long to be home and have your babies in your arms.  ALL of your babies.  Prayers for that are needed too I am sure.  She hasn't told me such, but I know it to be true.  I know because I remember it.  They are living out a lot of faith.  Visibly it is faith in people that they do not even know.  But in truth we know that their faith must be in the LORD.  He is the one in control and He will make everything what He intends it to be.

Let us battle together on our knees for Tonya's family.  Thank you for your prompt prayers friends.  I will update on any further information that I can.

You Become the People You Spend the Most Time With

Sometimes a Mom needs a woman like herself to talk to.  A person who is in the throws of child-rearing and has similar situations to her own.  I don't exactly have that person at this point, but I hope I meet her.

Sometimes you need a person to spill your moments with who will understand that that doesn't mean you don't have things under control and you are about to fly off the deep end.  Someone who understands that the day was all wonderful until that moment (and it can happen in an instant) when everybody needs something all at once and you have three to four screaming bodies that need you and you suddenly revert to the age range that your children fall within and you get the urge to just drop everything, sit on the floor, and sink your teeth into one of them as deeply as you can because you are SO. DONE. and  you just want them to stop screaming so you can think long enough to decide who the heck has the highest priority need at the moment...and then the waters are suddenly smooth all over again and tranquility reigns.  But.  Most people don't understand that.

Because there are moments of chaos- I'm in over my head.  I have too many little kids.  Or I am doing a great job "under the circumstances".  Or, "It gets better than this, I promise."

I don't know that it will get better than this.  How can it get better than this?  I love this, even if this has moments of intense craziness where I feel like I am literally going to explode if they don't stop...I don't want it to change.  And while there are people that understand that I'm not going crazy, and people that get how fun and also insane my life can be, I still sometimes need someone that I can tell about a situation that can say, "I KNOW!  Seriously!  The other day..."  And perhaps that someone can help me to refrain from loosing all sanity someday and becoming like the little people that I spend all your time with...and giving a big hard bite to one of them*.

So for now, know that there are moments of craziness, but they are just that.  Moments.  The rest of the time we have a lot of fun.  And those crazy moments sure are intense.

*I did not bite one of my children.  However, the feelings of wanting to bite someone or something HAVE come to me before.

Also, for those that might have thought that Gumby's fat lip happened because I dropped her out of my arms, I'm sorry for writing that unclearly.  I was holding her hand and she slipped out as she was falling because suddenly there was her entire body's weight resting in one of my hands and I didn't have a solid grip on her hand.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Look Who's...

now wearing a 3T and 4T!  Miss Gumby has grown a lot since we brought her home.  She was wearing a plenty loose 2T when we hopped off that plane and now she is in a 3T bottom and 4T top.  Her hair has also changed bundles, from brittle and dry hair that didn't grow very fast, to a silky texture that shines and grows much quicker.  How do I know how fast it was growing compared to how quickly it grows now?  Well, the frequency of need to cut her bangs of course.  And while we're at it, those finger and toe nails are growing WAY faster too.

And this poor little cutie has some other news for you too.  This week while we were on our "Tuesday with Daddy" date, she had a little mishap.

While we were walking from curb to parking lot I looked back at Smiles who was doing something (can't even remember now) and she slipped right out of my hand (and if you have a little one with like Gumby you will know what I mean when I say how easily she slips out of your grasp).  She fell face first onto the pavement and blood was all over in her mouth.  I was SO afraid that I might have knocked out one of her teeth!  Luckily Handsome was less troubled than myself and cleaned her up quickly.  She was fine enough to walk down to the beach and have a jolly time.  It hasn't seemed to bother her since either...other than a little bit of feeling around with her tongue on it.  But really, that's pretty expected from Gumby even when there isn't something there to feel.

Clearly it hasn't stopped her from playing and dancing with the other squeezers.

On another note, I realized that I just don't know as many of you as I used to.  I used to make an effort to know who read my blog and to try and know at least a little bit about them.  I looked at the numbers for the first time in...well, in months...and I realize there are some hiding readers.  So, if you would be willing, I would like to know something about YOU.  If you are up for it, please leave a comment telling something about yourself, short or long.  And if you have a blog of your own, please make sure that I can get there to come and see a little bit about you.

Also, if you have any questions that you would like to ask, please ask away.  I'll be sure and answer any of those (so long as they are appropriate ;-).)  I realize that I've been off the blog a lot since Gumby came home and you might have questions that I haven't answered.  Questions can be about anything and don't have to be adoption related.

I hope to "meet" some of you soon!