Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 31: Across 11 Januarys

(Casey and I on our very first date, January 2000)

Eleven years best friends and growing romance. Eight years of marriage and growing family. Tonight I am thankful for the man that God provided for me to be a leader of the home that we build together, a shepherd and spiritual leader, a godly father to our children. I am thankful for his faithfulness to me and our life together. I am thankful for his patience and perseverance. I am thankful for his wisdom and love.

(Casey and I at our wedding January 31, 2003)

(Most recent of Casey and I, Christmastime 2010)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 30: Awww Moment

On Sunday evenings Norah attends AWANA at our church, and with enrolling/participating in the program comes a handbook that has a series of Scripture passages to memorize as well as "tasks" to do- like inviting a friend to church.

Well, Norah and her dad were looking through the book, and she's almost done with another section. The task for that section was to write down three things that she's thankful for. So her dad gave her a pen, and she started writing without any hesitation M.

Then she spelled the rest of the word, Mom, all by herself. The rest of the line had, "and Dad."


Thank you Lord, that my baby girl is thankful for me. I know that I am so thankful for her. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 29: Life is Worth It

The beginning of this week was marked with Sanctity of Life Sunday. So, throughout the week there have been different things that I've seen on the cause for the rights of the unborn.

One post by a blogger stood out to me, and I'm so glad that she shared what she did.You can read the original blog post here. (Seriously, please do!) Vivian relinquished her baby girl at seventeen years old, and she shares candidly what that was like on Carolyn McCulley's blog Radical Womanhood.  I am so thankful for birth mothers who are willing to share their experience. They are women of courage and great depth. They deserve respect and honor. As an adopted child and one who hopes to adopt, this testimony of hers is beautiful. She writes:

I am asked often enough, “Wasn’t it hard?” “Didn’t it hurt?” and other questions of that sort. It was desperately hard and terribly painful. I still cannot talk about the day I left my daughter in the hospital. Even now my heart is wrenched just writing this twenty-six years later. It was excruciating. That moment was the worst moment I’ve ever experienced, which is why I don’t speak about it. It’s too full of pain.

Yes, giving up a child for adoption is painful and hard.

But I believe those questions—the hurt and the pain questions—are the wrong questions. Obviously, giving your child up to another woman to raise as her own is painful and hard. God designed us to, generally, love our children. I did love my daughter. Very deeply. I still do.

The questions that a girl or woman needs to ask of herself and have asked of her are about value and worth. Is this child, this pregnancy, worth anything? Is going through a pregnancy and delivering a baby you do not mean to keep and then giving that child to another woman worth it?

I had to answer those questions. If I hadn’t answered those questions, I couldn’t have given up my child. Even at seventeen I had to wade through the swamp of worth, life, convenience, pain. I had to do the hard calculations of life. Was this thing I was going to do worth it in the end?

In the end, all considerations came back to my daughter’s life. I needed to answer questions about her, not me. Was her life, just her life, important? What was her life worth? Was her life worth more than mine? Worth my time? Worth suffering for? Worth anything? Did her life matter?

As I consider the gift that I have been given by being an adopted child, I haven't the words to explain the depth of my appreciation nor the emotions within my heart to know what it means that to one woman I was worth it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 28: Fearfully Wonderfully Haddon

I'm not sure if there is a way to capture who my son is simply through the writing of words. I guess you could say that about anybody, really. But my son is such a unique and special sort of person that to know him is to get a special delight that not many get to experience. His smile is as sweet as cotton candy and warm like springtime sunshine. When he plays, you get lost in youthfulness and forget that you are older as you join in the fun. He can make you feel like you're a peer right with him.

Communication is more difficult with him, but it's like being in a foreign land with a dear person you feel a connection but cannot speak with fully. You're right at home navigating slightly unfamiliar territory. Words don't seem as important, because so much can be said with a smile or a laugh. Even Haddon's sigh can be an eloquent, melancholy soliloquy.

I had a particularly fun day being Haddon's mom today. He brought joy to my spirit, and strength. My day was filled with precious moments and memories and quotes from my little boy that I can treasure up, bottle up and keep in my heart.

Thank you, Father, for making me Haddon's mom.
I am humbled by the greatness of the responsibility and the sweetness of the honor.
Only you can fearfully and wonderfully create such a treasure. Thank you. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 27

So, I've already put myself in a humbling situation through this blog, but I figured that I needed to make it complete at our Life group tonight where I broke down in tears twice. Yeah, twice.

Of course we were in our second week in Titus... ya know, Titus 2?! It's only one of the sweetest passages concerning the roles of men and women in the church. Yeah, that's where we were tonight.

So, I was set up for an emotional moment or two as my heart desires to be at home more than I am, but in our current situation, our needs as a family trump my ideal desires.

I had already set in my mind that I would ask for prayer. I haven't ever really done that before. It's always implied. I mean, duh, of course we need prayer, but to actually ask for it was a very powerful thing. I am thankful for that. And to sit there, trying to get a hold of myself as my husband rested his arm around me, being lifted up in prayer by the sweet saints around me, there was peace in that moment for me. I had done something that honored God and something that wasn't "natural" for me (except the crying... oh for goodness sakes! I cry so much, it's ridiculous.)

I am glad that I had that experience tonight. As snot-nosey and awkward as it is to cry in front of people, I think it was an important thing for me and I am grateful for God's work in my heart to get me to that point.

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness in working on my heart.
Thank you for never letting go of me, and for being the Potter,
always molding me and making me more like my Jesus.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 26: Confession

Fact: For the last week, every time I drive home from work I nearly cry or flat out cry.

I haven't really realized how much I've been impacted by recent events, but tonight I think everything just kind of came together for me. I'll explain.

Since June my husband has been looking for work, and I have been needed to step in to fill in that gap. It is a joy to serve my family in this way and I am very grateful to do so. But what that does, is it puts me in a different situation than anything that I've ever been in before. It puts my husband in a different situation than he's ever been in before. Sometimes I've described it as a "role reversal"- temporary, of course, but I have to say that's not the right way to put it. My role doesn't change. I'm still called to be a godly woman and fulfill my roles that God has given me. What's different is that there is a "task reversal". Who I am doesn't change but what I do or sometimes how I do those things has had to change.

Recently, there were two interviews. As each day passed when there wasn't a phone call with a job offer, I think I got more and more discouraged. As last week ended and this one began, I knew that those moments of hope had passed, and we were right back where we were before there were those interviews.

And I know that's okay. It's okay because that's not what God would have for us right now, and if He doesn't want that for us, then it means that it's not the best.

But I'll be honest. Having hope deferred has taken a toll on me this week. I haven't been myself. I'm not sure I have words to describe that, but I just haven't been "right". "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

So, for anyone who may read this, I need to confess that I need prayer. I need to confess before the congregation that I am beaten down and tired. I need to be humble and real and honest in that I need God's people to petition the throne of grace on my behalf because I need strength to keep going.

My goal is to daily glorify God through thanksgiving, acknowledging His work. I guess today is a day that I need to glorify Him through humility and allowing others to be used by Him to lift me up. This isn't a ploy to grab attention, nor is it meant to make anyone feel sorry for me, but to simply give others the opportunity to experience God's grace through living out Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." It's an honor to live this out, and I know that I personally am blessed to do this on the behalf of others. So, I think it's my turn to need to be on the receiving end of that. I think I really need to be receiving that.

I can't be breaking down every evening or on the verge of tears at work because I'm so broken up about our life situation. That's not okay. That's not God-honoring, and it's not healthy for me.

So Lord, please be honored in my humility. Be pleased, be glorified.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25: At Least

Kind of had a rough ending to the day but...

at least I was able to get off work early.

at least I was able to get a couple things done before things started going awry.

at least I was able to have a car to be able to travel out of town to see my mom- who I missed because of the errands.

at least I have my mother who was willing to purchase something for me so that I could save money.

at least I had the money to purchase this something.

at least I was able to say a quick hello to my sister and her family on my way home.

at least I was able to order a pizza for dinner, even though it wasn't made when I picked it up.

at least I didn't have to head north on I-5, which was a parking lot.

at least I have a home to come home to.

*sigh* At last I'm home.

Thank you, Lord.

Good night.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 24: The Lord Will Provide

And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!”
And he said, “Here am I, my son.”
He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
So they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:7-8

Genesis 22 has got to be one of the most incredible passages. God tests Abraham's faith by asking him to offer up his own son Isaac as a sacrifice. With child-like faith, Abraham takes his son up the mountain, and in verses seven and eight there is this interaction between father and son.

Isaac knows what it is to go and worship through sacrifice. This is obviously something that he and his father had done before on many occasions. How Abraham could even answer his son at this point without breaking down and turning back is beyond me.

God's word doesn't give any details about what happened between father and son once the altar was built, but we do know that Issac was tied and placed on the altar with his father's knife raised above him before God stopped it.

Abraham called the place where this happened, "The Lord will provide."

God provided the sacrifice.

God provided The Sacrifice.

All the lambs, calves, goats, and doves that have been slain as a sacrifice for sin cannot truly cleanse away the sin. But God provided "for himself the lamb for a burnt offering..." when He sent Christ, the perfect Lamb.

God loved us so much that He did not spare himself the grief that he spared Abraham. Abraham held the knife and dropped it, but God let the nails to be pounded, the whip to strike, and the sword to pierce.

...“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea,
and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”  
Revelation 5:12-13

And all God's people said, "Amen."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 23: Norah, Most Colorful

Tonight was a fun time at AWANA because Norah entered the Grand Prix Car Race. Hers was a "rainbow trout". The car was shaped like a fish and painted in rainbow stripes. It looked like a car that Norah would create. She won a special award for "Most Colorful Car"- of course. It fit.

So, as I think about my daughter, I think that's just so right that she got that special award. She not only made the most colorful car, but the colorful car reflects her colorful personality. Everything about my girl is colorful. Her sense of style, the way she likes to make her arts and crafts, her character- all are colorful. She loves putting together colors and patterns. Nothing is done halfway. Subtle does not suite our Norah. She lives by the motto "More is More!" If a little bit of glitter is good, than more must be better!

I'm so glad that she is who she is, and I pray that the Lord will take her colorful self and mold her into a bright shining beacon that brings Him glory. I'm glad that God can use colorful clay, like my daughter. Oh, how I want Him to use her and call her to Himself!

One of the reasons I liked the name Norah was that it means "light". I can't think of a better thing for her to be than a light for Jesus in this world. She is so passionate, and friendly. Norah has the sweet gift of hospitality, if she has the courage to use it. She's goofy and fun, and what a bright light she can be! I'm so thankful for my most colorful girl.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 22: Surprise Visit

I worked today, and I have to say that the best time of the day was getting a visit from my sister's family. I haven't seen my beautiful new niece for a couple weeks, and just the other day I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't made my way over to their house to see her or visit the rest of the family. But today they all came to me! I got to give hugs to my nieces and nephews and parade the newest little one to all my co-workers. It was so fun for me, and I am so happy that I got to visit with them even if it was just a few minutes.

It's so nice when a familiar face comes into the store, and now that I've been with LensCrafters for a year, I'm getting familiar with some of our "regular" customers. It's really a unique opportunity I have there to get to know people and, in some cases, a whole family.

I'm just glad that I get to help people out, and even if a day starts out kind of difficult (like today did), I always enjoy helping the people that I get to help out whether it's helping them understand their insurance, finding that perfect frame that makes them feel good about themselves, or adjusting a painful frame that's been digging at their ear.

And as much as those things are a blessing to me, I'm most of all happy just to come home. That is where I belong, and I am trying to patiently wait on the Lord to get me back there. That's what was hard this morning. I didn't want to be there because I just wanted to be home, but because I get to make a difference for people and because I got to dote on my nieces and nephews, my day turned around. I'm thankful for that.

Day 21: Yesterday in Retrospect

Ugh! I've made my first slip-up of the year. If I know myself, I'll probably make more. So this morning, I want to take time to thank the Lord for yesterday.

It was a very relaxing day. After a night when we were up often caring for our little girl, we all had much needed rest yesterday. Movies were a must for the kids, and mom and dad did minimal house work. We needed to do housework, but boy, were we tired, and just needed REST.

I'm thankful that we were able to just be a family together, playing quietly, or not doing anything in particular. My daughter actually snuggled with me on the couch, as she watched tv, and that is a very rare occasion. It's even more rare the older she gets! I think that would be the highlight of the day for me. Just to have her close, and granted, I zonked out, but to have my 5-year-old come and want to snuggle up to her mom and actually stay there, still and relaxed, for any length of time is a very rare and sweet treat.

I'll take it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 20: Timing

Before we arrived at my husband's parents' home this evening, my daughter said she wasn't feeling well. She started talking about how maybe she could take a nap at Nanna and Poppa's, and that's when I knew that mommy wouldn't be going to Bible study with daddy tonight. So we dropped the kids off at their house, and we went to get the second car so that my husband could get home from Bible study.

We had enough time to do that. That will be important later in my story.

So, I got back to my in-laws' and watched Scooby-Doo, because that's one of the shows that my kids are into now. They think it's funny.

After the show, I gathered my dear ones to get into the car.

My daughter was nervous that she might throw up at her grandparents' home.

She didn't.

So in the car we go, and as we pull into the driveway, I'm told that, "I feel weird." I know what that means.

"Go to the bushes," I tell my little girl. My hands were full of Pillow Pets and pajamas, and little brother wasn't even unbuckled. The house was locked, and I was awkwardly maneuvering the keys to unlock it.

We got in the house (little brother would have to wait in the care, bless his heart), and within 30 seconds, um, you know. The door was open, cold air was coming in, the keys were still in the door, and the stuffed ladybug and turtle were dumped, and hair was held back.

It was all in timing.

Dad's on his way home with supplies that he is able to get because he has a car and isn't getting a ride home from someone else.

Thank you Lord, for covering my little girl from the embarrassment of throwing up at her grandparents. Thank you that she was with me, as I could tell she wanted me with her. Thank you for giving my little boy a sweet spirit to leave his grandma and grandpa's house earlier than he would have wanted and to wait patiently in the car while I cared for big sister. Thank you that we got in the house, and she didn't have to be afraid of getting sick outside or in the car. Thank you that I didn't have to clean anything up. Thank you that You will heal her and care for her. Thank you for being the Great Physician. We love you, Lord.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 19: Sleeping In

Last night I was woken up by my sweet little girl, and from that moment on, I couldn't sleep.

Early in the morning, my son came into bed to snuggle with mommy. I couldn't get back to sleep.

So, my husband let me stay in bed while he got our children ready for the day and got our daughter off to school.

He let me sleep in.

I needed that.

I am thankful that I have a husband who knew what I needed and did what he could do to make things easier for me today as I went to work.

Little did he know that it would be one of the latest nights I have worked, and I really really needed that sleeping-in this morning.

Thank you Lord for providing in the littlest and most significant ways.

Thank you for using my husband as an instrument of your grace to me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 18: Sulfur and Fire, Mercy and Hope

Sometimes we want to not think about all the aspects of who God is. For instance, thinking of God as wrathful or just doesn't always settle nice and pretty in our finite minds.

I was reminded of God's righteousness and His wrath today when I read the account of how He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19). Abraham pleaded with God to save the town is there was just ten righteous men in the whole area, and God promised that He would spare the cities for just ten. Guess what? Not even ten people who feared the Most High God could be found in all of Sodom and Gomorrah.


It was better for the earth for the sinful people of Sodom and Gomorrah to be wiped off the face of the earth than for them to live one more day in that sin. Only Lot's family was preserved, and to do so they had to be mercifully whisked away! (Gen. 19:16) And even they weren't the greatest bunch. Lot's wife, just had to look back (v.26), and later, his two daughters got their father drunk on consecutive nights (v.31-38) so that he could be tricked into impregnating them- which was a success, marking the creation of the Moabites and the Ammonites (The Moabites, interestingly enough, were used by God to  bring about a righteous young woman named Ruth, who became the great grandmother to King David, through whose line came Jesus, thankyouverymuch. Talk about a post-opportunity about that little tidbit!). So yeah, not exactly a great family tree there!

This isn't one of the prettier narratives of Scripture. In fact, it still has me thinking tonight. I hardly know all that I would like to write about it.

Except, I know that I am a wretch, and I have sinned against God; and I have violated His perfect standard of holiness. My sins are no less a blot against holiness than those of the corrupted people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just like Lot and his family, God plucked me out of destruction, and undeservedly gave me mercy and grace and hope for a better future.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 17: Praise Language

Tonight was the second opportunity in a few days that I had to get out on my own and be around other adults. In tonight's case it was to meet at a dessert place for, well, dessert. Our church participates in the MOPS program, and so I went to tonight's "Mom's Night Out" and was able to spend some time getting to know some other ladies who have younger children.

It was very nice and easy going. I got to try champagne cake, which was very delicious (and pretty, I might add).

It's one thing to come home and write on a blog about God's grace, but it's another to have the testimony of God's grace on your lips daily. And something that I was able to do was practice giving God glory "in the moment".

The ladies asked what I do, and how I came to work at LensCrafters; and I was able to share with them how the Lord orchestrated bringing me there and providing work when I needed to enter the workplace. I was able to tell them about His perfect timing in His perfect provision.

As I drove home, I got to thinking about whether I take every opportunity to tell of God's mighty works in my life, and if I don't, I want to. After all, that's why I began this blog and that is what my goal is this year. I'm hoping that I create and cultivate in myself praise as being habitual. I want giving God glory to become a language that I speak.

Lord, may the language of my lips always be Your praise.
May I never cease to recognize the works of Your hands, and tell others about them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 16: Praying

Our family has seen a lot of moving. When we moved back to our home town about two years ago, we began a search for a home church, and with a lot of prayer and struggle to find a home for our family, we are where we are. We became members and have slowly become part of the body there. We meet with a small group for Bible study. I serve about every two months in children's church. Our daughter joined the AWANA program, and for the past two weeks, we have been able to go to the prayer service.

To call it a "service" is a bit of a stretch as it's not very formal at all. In fact, it's about 7-8 people sitting in a circle in the youth room, spending time in prayer.

Nothing flashy.

Nothing formal.

Completely delightful.

Tonight, for an hour, I sat with my brothers and sisters in Christ and prayed over members of the church who were hurting or needed wisdom. We prayed over the ministries. We praised God for who He is and what He is doing. My hope is that we are able to attend and attend often and consistently. It's a lovely time, and I think a beautiful opportunity to get to know more people in our church.

I am so thankful that we can approach the throne of grace, through Jesus. That curtain, that separation, was torn in two by the power of the cross, and I am so thankful that I can sit in the company of fellow believers and pray to a sovereign God who listens. I am thankful that I live in a country in which we do not have to whisper quietly or play music to shroud the sounds of voices lifted to God in prayer. I'm thankful for the body of believers at church, and for the faith they have and the encouragement they are to me.

I am blessed tonight by the simplicity of prayer, and the complexity of it. I'm blessed tonight by the privilege of prayer and the responsibility of it.

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright,
in the congregation.
Psalm 111:1

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 15: Nose Pads and Mini Tabasco

The two highlights of my day are very simple, but I am so thankful for simple things. If we cannot take pleasure in the little gifts that God gives, then what in the world are we doing?!

Highlight Number One: Delighting Customers.
Today was my first day back to work in three days, and I appreciated the break as well as the rest- well, it was rest-like. At LensCrafters won of our missions is to: "Delight every customer every time." I like that. It's simple, and it's the right thing to do. And today I truly enjoyed taking care of people. I had a gentleman in with very specific optical needs, and I was so pleased to be able to find just the right product for him. He was absolutely thrilled with my help, and I can't wait until he gets his glasses. Having those glasses is going to really help his quality of life, and that makes me happy. I am so thankful that I can help someone in that way every time I go to work.

Highlight Number Two: International Imports of Little Import
After work I went to World Market with a co-worker, and it was so fun exploring the store. It was nice to have a little outing as an adult, and discover the interesting things they have in the store like mini Tabasco bottles. You could buy a six-pack of mini Tabasco bottles to pack in your lunch, you know, so you can have a little spice in your life. They also had travel-like sizes of Nutella. I was able to buy Christmas ornaments for my children for a total of $2.49. How delightful is that?
They had such lovely things there, none of which I needed or really wanted, but it was fun to look at it all just the same and enjoy time with a friend.

That's it. Nothing profoundly spiritual or deep, and really, this is what I'm glad for tonight. Praising God doesn't always have to be "deep". Sometimes it's as simple as helping someone discover softer nose pads that don't hurt their nose or finding interesting things that I've never seen before. All things, deep and shallow, large and small, that bring any level of joy, are gifts of grace. To not acknowledge God for little things is just as sad as it would be to deny Him praise for the mighty things.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 14: If You Can Number the Stars

I am reading my way through Genesis, and this morning I read about God's promise to Abram. I can't hardly wrap my mind around what it must have been like to be him. First, God spoke to him! Wow! Second, the promises made to him are amazing! In his old age, God promises that he will have a son, and that son will lead to a great nation. To top that, all nations will be blessed through Abram.(though this part of the promise isn't revealed quite yet in chapter 15, but I know what is coming!) And Abram is promised some serious land for his descendants. The Lord says to him, "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." (Genesis 15:1b) No kidding!

And he [God] brought him [Abram] outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them."
Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:5-6

I'm thankful for Abram's faith, that he believed the Lord. Tomorrow I'll read about how he tried to take matters into his own hands, but for now, in chapter 15, his faith is more sure. I'm thankful that God used a man like Abram and a woman like Sarai to make a heritage that would bring us the Christ.

This is what I love about the Old Testament. The name of Jesus is whispered throughout it. And I didn't even mention that I read about Melchizedek! Melchizedek!

That alone is absolutely fascinating.

I am delighting in the works of the Lord in the Old Testament. 

Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Psalm 111:2

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 13: Trailblazer

Every Thursday we meet with a small group for Bible study. There are several things that I really like about this group, but one of them is that it is so diverse. Ages vary, marital statuses vary, and life stages vary. It is beautiful. It's beautiful because we come together each week to pray for each other and study God's Word together, and it's beautiful because in our group we represent so many parts of the body of Christ.

Tonight we surprised one of the couples in our group with a baby shower. They are expecting their first, and it was a sweet opportunity to bless them and reflect on what godly parenthood looks like. My husband shared a short devotional that was applicable whether you are a parent, grandparent or not even there yet!

I can't get into it tonight, or really I won't because I have one of my yucky headaches coming on (yes, I have such dedication to keeping up on my 365-day challenge thankyouverymuch!) and because of that I just don't feel as sharp as a normally am (stop laughing), but I will share something that stood out that I want to praise the Lord for tonight.

For it was fitting that he [Christ], for whom and by whom all things exist,
in bringing many sons to glory,
should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Hebrews 2:10

1. I am so thankful for who Christ is. All things exist by Him and through Him and for Him. May He be glorified in all things! Amen?!
2. Christ is the founder of our salvation. Other translations use the word "author", but what the Greek word really means is similar to "pioneer" or what I would also think of as "trailblazer". It is a term that means someone who has gone ahead and made way for others. Christ did that for us! He became a servant, taking on human flesh, giving up the glory of heaven, to blaze a trail for us. He lived a perfect life that we can't. He died in our place on the cross, and in His resurrection we have life in Him. Hallelujah!

There's more. There's much more, and there is much more to be written- and probably has been written, though not by me obviously. It's a humbling thing, sitting down and writing about such marvelous things that the Lord has done. And it is an act of self-control to not write a book at times. But I try to be concise.

My dear husband is in the home stretch of finishing his masters degree. At the beginning of his last semester, upon receiving his syllabus for one class, he saw that one of his papers was to be "concise, comprehensive, and complete as possible." I guess that's what I'm aiming for here, if that's even possible. 

But I digress.

Time to nip it in the bud. Goodnight. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 12: Blah

I'll be honest here. I'm not in the mood to be writing. I'm tired, and I'm sad. Being a mom is hard. Being a good mom is even harder. There is joy in parenting and great sadness in seeing your child's need to be parented. Stubborn wills, and disobedience, whining and selfishness make my heart sad. And when you have a big battle against even one of those things, it makes for a rough day. When I have had to battle all of them, it makes for a day that can only be described as blah. I'm not sure I have words.

So when I'm feeling like this, what is to be my response? No matter what happens in my day, at the end of it, I always belong to Christ. I am His. I am saved. He is my light, my guide, my shelter, my rock. He is the great I AM. My hope is in Him and Him alone. My strength is in Him. He is my portion.
Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 11: Optics Learnin'

I just passed my first anniversary at LensCrafters where I am an "eyewear consultant". There is a lot more to getting glasses than just picking out some frames to stick lenses in that magically make you see better. A lot more.

It took about six months to feel remotely comfortable understanding prescriptions and having some basic knowledge of what in the world I was doing. And as I hit a year, I'm having "optician moments", in which I actually have a clue of how to fix optical problems or know what kind of lens is right for a certain prescription. It may seem lame, but this is a big encouragement and victory to me! Just this evening I worked with a co-worker on the lensometer (a funny gadget that reads lenses in glasses), and I actually felt a little proficient!

Again, this may not seem like that big of deal, but it is to me. I really want to do well when I help people. Picking out a pair of glasses that are comfortable and stylish and that you can see well out of and meets all your needs is very important to me. I've had times when because of my limited optical knowledge, I've missed a detail that an experienced optician wouldn't. And when that happens, I just feel awful!

But with this anniversary, I feel like I'm turning a new corner. I'll be studying to take the American Board of Opticianry exam to be a certified optician in May. And I think that will be a neat experience.

So I'm just thankful that I can learn these things and in learning them, I'm going to help others. I hope that I can continue to bless the people I come in contact with and give them a positive experience as I help them look and see better. The entire experience of working where I do has been such an edifying journey and a sweet grace blessing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 10: Leaning

Yesterday at church our pastor posed the question, "Can you trust God?" And that's been something that I have been thinking about- trust, belief, faith. Can I trust God? Do I trust Him? Can I let myself fully lean on Him? And when do I lean on Him most? Is it when things are really hard or when it's easy? When am I most secure in His Word and trust His Word?

Last year was a very difficult year. It's been a struggle to figure out what in the world the Lord is doing or to understand what He's trying to do. My husband hasn't had a job since last June. He has had interviews and no job offers. In fact, he's going on another interview on Wednesday. We get glimpses at hope only to have further desert wasteland to traverse. I'm working outside the home while my husband stays home. We have had a traditional sort of role reversal, and we do not like it.

We're learning a lot though. In the desert we're learning a lot about what our hearts truly desire and what we truly need. God always provides. We can always trust Him to provide exactly what we need.

You see, He's offered enough moments of hope to keep us going. He's offered provision. He's offered peace and sanctuary.

Our pastor shared a story of a man who was on the mission field and was translating the Bible into a tribe's language. He had been wrestling with finding a word for "believe" in the native tongue of the tribespeople. One day in his office an exhausted native rested his whole body on two chairs, putting all his weight on them. He said in his language how nice it was to relax, but he used a word that the missionary had never heard before. It meant "to lean or put your full weight on"- he had found the right word for believe.

More than any other season I have ever been in, I'm learning what it means to completely lean on the goodness of Christ and to put the full weight of my whole self on Him.

"I can lean against your throne and find my peace." [lyrics by Jennifer Knapp].

That peace comes when I fully fall on the grace given to me.

I'm thankful for that tonight.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 9: Sisters

All families have stories, little anecdotes about vacations and whatnot. For instance, my grandmother tells the story about when I was little and like to call devilled eggs, "angel eggs" because it sounded nicer. As cute as that is isn't, my favorite story is about my sister. And just recently, another story has unfolded that I believe will become part of my family's legacy and heritage. The two are connected in a very special way.

As long as I can remember I was told how much my big sister wanted a little sister. Every night, I'm told, she would pray to have a sister "just like me". I grew up knowing without a doubt that I was wanted by my big sister and that I was a direct "yes" answer to her prayers. On April 15, 1981, when I was held on one side of the door to my new home, the first person to open it was my sister. In fact, I'm told she could barely wait to hold me! I don't have it, but the other amazing picture from that night is my sister holding me, right in front of the door with one of the most beautiful smiles you'll ever see on a six-year-old. This is me, held by my mom, and my sister sitting very close- a very excited big sister!

The other story that will be held dear to our hearts is for another big sister. But Cassidy's story is a little different. While her mother had a lack in the sibling department, Cassidy has been blessed in the brother department. Born with two brothers, one of which she shared a womb with, Cassidy welcomed two more after them. Long had she waited for an ally, a female playmate. When her parents started the adoption process, Cassidy was all on board! For two years she waited and walked the long journey with her whole family.

Finally, waiting in an airport, Cassidy met her sister on January 7, 2011. I had the privilege of being there and seeing the most beautiful smile that was ever on an eight-year-old. As many greeted little Seble, big sister was never far away. In fact she stayed very close that night, like another big sister I know. Like mother, like daughter.

So tonight, I give God glory for answered prayers both old and new. I thank Him and Him alone for building families in His perfect timing. I thank Him for sisters. I thank Him for my own big sister, and for her daughter- a new big sister. I thank Him for letting me be a little sister, and for bringing a new little sister into our family.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 8: Fruit of Lips

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Hebrews 13:15
Lord, thank you for always providing in ways that are unexpected and perfect. I pray the You would give me the grace to always trust in You for that provision. I pray that I would wait patiently in peace and contentment, in faith, for answers that You have yet to reveal. I pray that instead of growing anxious or nervous that I would simply hold on to the truths found in Your Word, trusting You to fulfill them perfectly, on time, and in the best way for me.
Thank You for the work that You are doing as we wait. Thank You for the work of Christ on the cross. Thank You that it is through Him that you are working and through Your Spirit. Thank You that by the Spirit I am sealed, and that You will never leave me. Thank you that I am your own, that I am Your child.
This is my prayer tonight, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 7: Homecoming

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
Ephesians 1:3-5

Tonight my niece came home.

There we are, two adoptees just meeting each other in the airport.

There's no better way to summarize why adoption is so significant than with Ephesians 1:3-5. It's what I was getting at here.

It's why I'm thankful tonight. A two-year journey comes to a close, and a new one begins for my sister and her family. Praise to the Lord!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 6: Consistency is Consistently Difficult

For three nights in a row, our daughter has decided that any reason that pops into her head is worth getting out of bed for- and getting punished for. I know that being consistent in setting boundaries and requiring obedience is what I'm supposed to do. And I also know that in doing so, I'm honoring God by being faithful to His charge of teaching my children.

But sometimes I just don't want to. At the end of the day, in a day that can often be filled with consistency in discipline, I'm not in the mood for the last battle.

But I know what is right. And I know what is good. And I know what is best. Because I love my daughter, I will require her obedience. If she understands and knows the love of her mother and father, then she can know the love of her Heavenly Father. And if she knows how to obey her parents; she will know what it is to obey her Maker.

So I am grateful that He will fill in that gap for me. Where I am not consistent or fail, He never will. And where He gives me the grace to discipline and disciple as I ought, He will bless.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

As for you, brothers,do not grow weary in doing good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13

*sigh* Deep breath, and go...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 5: Pleased Punch Rest

I worked overtime last week. This week I'm working nearly full time hours again, and next week is the same thing. My days off are like gold to me. Today was a day off. I relaxed for part of the day and the other part was filled with organizing and getting some chores done that have needed to get done.

I praise the Lord that today was a day of fulfilling rest, but also one where I was home and was able to get things done for the betterment of my home and family.

I praise the Lord that He created the concept of rest. I am so grateful that He established this principle as he created the world, resting on the seventh day, and establishing the sabbath.

Tomorrow is another day off, and I am pleasing as punch. How punch can be pleased, I do not know, but there it is.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 4: Nahor Married WHO?!

"Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them." Psalm 111:2

I guess you can say that Psalm 111 is a sort of credo that I have adopted this year. I intend to memorize it and study it. I think there is so much there. One of the first things that stood out to me in the psalm is the second verse. I've been thinking about this. How can I follow this? How can I apply this? The works of God are indeed great, and delighting in them should lead to studying them. At least that's how I see this verse being applicable. And I know that as God's word, where His works are revealed, is studied, I delight in Him more and in the mighty works of His hands.

It can be easy to let the words on the page of scripture grow dull and maybe even familiar, but I know that when I strive to dig in deeper and understand what the text is actually saying, it's very enriching. I'm thankful for that.

For instance, I was reading in Genesis the other day, and really paid attention to some of the details of Abram's family (later named Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, through whom Jesus Christ came). My husband and I discussed some of these interesting details, and he looked briefly at some commentaries. And I got to thinking about how amazing it is that God chose to use Abram to bless all the world. His background and family ties aren't exactly pure. (You can look it up, and see if you catch the interesting marriages listed towards the end of Genesis 11.)

I think this is a great example of how you can just read through things (especially those genealogies!) and not really see all that's there. If I didn't dig in a little and pay attention, I wouldn't have known what kind of family Abram came from, nor would I now have an even deeper appreciation of the great work that God did in the life of this patriarch. I am so delighted that He chose such a man.

I am so delighted that He has chosen such a woman as me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 3: An Embassy is a Terrible Thing to Waste

While I prepare to go to bed tonight, my sister is waking up in a hotel room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with her newly adopted daughter. On January 3, 2011, baby Seble became part of our family in the eyes of the United States of America. And that was the best thing to wake up to this morning. I got to see pictures of my niece, and see her in full custody of my sister, brother-in-law and mom. That is a beautiful thing.

Anyone who knows me long enough or has enough conversations with me will learn that I am a huge fan of adoption. I am a pro-life, pro-adoption nut- well, not in a bomb-a-clinic sort of way, but passionate. And I will tell you why because I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for these reasons...

First, one of the defining things about myself is that I am adopted. I have a built-in definition of family that is not based on blood, but commitment and love. That is an amazing gift. And it is an honor that God chose to choose me for that. I am humbled at His supreme sovereignty and grace to place me in the family that I am in. Every adopted child has a story, and every story is special for it is written by God.

Second, adoption is very important in understanding the gospel. To understand what it means to be redeemed, and brought into the family of God through nothing that you have done on your own is an absolutely essential doctrine. Doctrine isn't all that popular sometimes, but knowing these things and understanding them is so so so important. On this truth, we must stand. If you are in Christ, you belong to Him. You are adopted. What a precious gift to be adopted twice!

Third, we need adoption. Our world is made better one adoption at a time. Many lives are saved through adoption. My niece Seble is no exception. She literally has been saved because she was taken into the right orphanage at the right time, and was referred to the right people to be part of a family. If all those things didn't fall into place, the little four-pound baby found behind the gate of a church would have died. Countless children adopted out of the foster care system are saved from a life without family. The number one cure for homelessness isn't money, but a family. Because there are childless parents, a woman can have the courage to choose life. We need adoption because adoption changes lives.

I could go on, but I won't. I have to go to bed, and frankly, I have a whole year to write about whatever I want and thank the Lord for adoption. Tonight I praise God the work of Christ on the cross. I am thankful that it is through his sacrifice that I am adopted as a child of the Most High. I am thankful that He worked in life to save me from a choice that birth mother could have made and I was given life. I was placed in a family that loves me and where I was able to hear the Good News. I am thankful that my family has grown one member bigger today through adoption.

Welcome to the family, Seble. I'll see you soon, dear one. We have some bonding to do!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 2: The Lord's Day

This morning I struggled to get up. It was just one of those mornings. This last week I worked over forty hours, and I'll be honest- I just struggled a bit with having the wrong attitude. I had generally been a Negative Nelly, and that's just not the way I would like to roll. That's just not the way that I'm going to live a life that brings glory to my King every single day.

So of all days that I really needed to get out of bed, it was this day. The Lord's Day. (That's a term people don't use much anymore, and I don't really know why. Just so you know. I think it should be used more.) Praise the Lord for my husband, who could have taken pity on me and thought, "Oh let her sleep. I"ll take the kids to second service while Kelly goes to work and misses church." But no. He's better than that. In a gentle way that only my husband has, he weaseled me out of bed, and although we were late, we got there.

And that's what I'm thankful for today. I'm thankful that I was among God's people today. I was with my eternal family- at least a very small portion of it.

"And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day- and there will be no night there." Revelation 21:22-25 (emphasis added)

One of the pastors of our church returned just recently from an 18-day mission to South Africa. He shared with us all about being in a service worshipping our Lord God the Almighty, and in that service there were several people groups. But in Christ we are all one people, made of all nations. He read the above passage concerning the New Jerusalem, and highlighted the words that I did- that nations are in eternity.

I am thankful for that today. I am thankful that the gospel is for all nations and all peoples, and that one day there will be no separation. There will be no prejudice. The invisible lines between races and peoples will be gone, and together, with one voice, each from our own nation, we will give glory to God for all eternity.

That will be a good day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 1

Psalm 111
Praise the LORD!
 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

I'm going to start on a journey today. I don't know what it's going to look like or whether I will be able to endure to the finish, but I have a goal. I'm going to live out Psalm 111 daily in 2011. I can guarantee that I will not do it perfectly, and I know that I will stumble along the way. No matter what comes my way each day, I'm going to make myself sit down and recount the great works of the Lord in my life each day. I am convinced that He is at work in my life daily, and that every single day that I am given breath on this earth is meant for His glory.

So that's what I'm going to do. I am going to find the everyday grace that the Lord gives, through my sinful discontentment or pouting or anger or grumpiness or impatience.

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation." (Psalm 111:1)

So here it goes. I'll begin my own quest to daily give thanks and honor my Maker publicly in the congregation, in the company of the upright, not for my own esteem or glory, but so that His name may be praised among the peoples... or whoever might stumble upon this dinky blog.