Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 181: Expanding Family

A while ago, our pastor preached on our need for fellowship and community. We are created to share our lives and to have relationships, walking this life with people that we can share it with. The message challenged me. My husband and I haven't been able to develop too many deep relationships with people, and I felt like I needed to step up to the plate and really strive to cultivate relationships.

So, that's something that we have been trying to do, and I will tell you that it has been "successful" (a strange word to use, but not really sure of a better one). About two times a week, we share a meal with a couple in our church, and after dinner, the wife and myself go for a walk. We talk and share our lives with each other.

It's a bold step to commit to friendship, and in some ways it can be a little intimidating. I long to be a good friend, and I want to be someone who practices hospitality, sharing what I have and my family's time. I may stumble and bumble along the way, but I think that this effort has been well worth it.

I have been so richly blessed to learn to be a better and better hostess. I feel as though we have extended our family, and find that our own family is enriched by it. My children love when "Mr. and Mrs. D" come over. They were once shy, and quiet, but now it's just normal to have them in our home and to visit theirs. I like that.

I like that our family has expanded.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 180: New Living Room

It may seem silly to some, but the simple act of getting some new things in the living room have really blessed me. I have felt creative. I feel like I have more color around me.

Two lamp shades, originally $20 a piece, for $4.98 a piece. Fabric, originally $56, for about $26, and buttons for $6.40- it all adds up to a good deal on a little change, that will make a big difference in my home.

Thank you for the means to make pretty changes Lord. 
Thank you that something so simple can be so fun, and so rewarding. 
Thank you for letting me use creativity.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 179: The Return of the Legal Pad

There are things that are familiar, and conjure up more because of what you associate with that item. Pictures around a home can be reminders of fun times or eras in our lives that we like to remember, or a certain scent or song brings a memory or is associated with a person.

Yellow legal pads are one of those items.

They have been a familiar and comforting item in our home throughout the years. Often they are left lying around, cluttering a coffee table or night stand. Sometimes there's a legal pad sitting amongst thick heavy books on the kitchen table, and we can't eat until it's out of the way.

It's not the legal pad that is special, but it's what the pad is used for and what is written on it. Sermons, notes, ideas are captured on these yellow pieces of paper and together they have formed Sunday school lessons and sermons, and even a book.

My husband uses these canary yellow notebooks when he's teaching or studying God's Word. When that notepad is out, he's using his skills as a preacher and teacher to help others draw nearer to the Lord.

He's had opportunities lately to use those gifts, and that has brought the return of the legal pad.

I welcome its clutter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 178: Shedding the Shed and Passing

This week, the project I tackled was to go through our shed. It was not the most pleasant thing, but in another way it was. It is freeing to be rid of things and possessions that you don't really need. I can't take it with me, and it wasn't benefiting me sitting in the shed. In fact, it was making be feel worse and less free.

I feel more free now. There's still more to do because it's a lot of work to go through everything, but then I need to make sure that it's organized and put back in a way that can be maintained. So, my project isn't done, but it has begun.

It makes me glad to have dived in, and I will feel even better when it's all complete.

On a completely different note:

I passed the American Board of Opticianry test!

It's nice to finally get the results and have it be positive. Whew! Thank you Lord!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 177: It Is Well

This summer, we are studying the life of Joseph, focusing on pain and trials. It has been an encouraging series, and this week the pastor spoke about long term suffering, how to deal with that. One of his main examples came from the life of Horatio Spafford. I praise the Lord today for so many who have gone before us as examples of faith in the face of trials. God is glorified in Mr. Spafford's response, as well as his life. May God be glorified in my response to whatever he trial he may bless me with as a means to mold me into the woman he wants me to be.

"This hymn was writ­ten af­ter two ma­jor trau­mas in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the great Chi­ca­go Fire of Oc­to­ber 1871, which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a weal­thy bus­i­ness­man). Short­ly af­ter, while cross­ing the At­lan­tic, all four of Spaf­ford’s daugh­ters died in a col­li­sion with an­o­ther ship. Spaf­ford’s wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died, the Ho­ly Spir­it in­spired these words. They speak to the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth." (From the Cyber Hymnal)

It is Well with My Soul
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 176: I'm on Team Jacob

Thirteen years ago I was on a Mexico mission trip, and I was very anxious about its timing. My sister was due to have her first baby, and I did not want to miss it. So, when we stopped for lunch at In 'n' Out, I used the pay phone (for those of you who don't remember those things, they are these phones, with cords, in a booth-like thing, that you use by putting a quarter or two in the slot) and called my mom.

She was a grandma.

I missed it. I became an aunt, and I missed it. I was bummed and excited all at once. Jacob had come, and we were so blessed.

I missed a lot of Jacob's birthdays because he was born when mission trips happen. Despite missing those things, I am not lacking in love for this kid- um, I mean teenager.

This birthday is a little different. I can't call him so much a kid anymore. He's entered that place of being on the verge of manhood, but beyond childhood. One of the most important steps he's made in the right direction towards manhood is that he chose to be baptized this last year. He stepped out in faith and made that declaration that he belongs to Christ and identified with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection.

Aunt Kelly didn't miss that. I am so proud that I didn't.

Jacob has a sweet heart, a tender heart towards little ones. He has a gift for hospitality and caring for those who are littler and younger than himself. It suits him to watch over others because he is the oldest of six kids. He has five other people that are following behind him, and that he sets the example for. It's a big responsibility, and by God's grace, I know that he will carry it through for His glory.

Many people aren't as keen on the teen years as I am. I am looking forward to Jacob as a teenager. I like these years. These are make or break years. The stakes are high, and the rewards for faithfulness in the coming years are great. My prayer for Jacob is that he doesn't waste his teens, that he blesses those around him. I want to see him face trials head on, with peace that comes from his relationship with Christ.

Lord, I pray that as Jake enters his teen years that you would protect his heart. 
Protect his mind. I pray that you would give him wisdom in how to conduct himself in a manner that brings you honor and glory. I pray that he makes choices that he will not be ashamed of or regret, 
but that he would learn from mistakes, not repeat them, and gain wisdom. 
I pray that he would have a good relationship with his mom and dad in these years, and that you would give them a discerning heart and listening ears. 
I pray that they would remember what it was like to come of age, and that they would have patience and compassion with Jake has he wades through this time in his life, navigating through all that comes with growing up into an adult. 
I pray that he would have a clear view of what it is to be a man of God and that he would strive to be a man of honor who holds to the truths found in your Word. 
Build him up in the faith that he may learn to be a leader. Give him a proper view of who he is, 
and protect him from the lies of society, 
for they come from the devil. 
Protect his heart in that regard, Lord, so that he may have joy in who you have created him to be.
Thank you that he belongs to you. May he feel your firm grip on his life, 
and may that bring him strength.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 175: What do you mean, there's no 40% off coupon?!

Sometimes I need a creative outlet. You would think an attempt to write every day about God's grace might be enough for me, and although it is an amazing exercise, I require the use of pretty colored paper, or glue, or fabric.

I am on a quest for color in my living room, and little bit in my kitchen too. Without going into details, I have concocted a plan to make some pillow cases for the six toss pillows that came with our couches (there's actually eight, but two of them are in my kids' rooms covered in fleece because who needs EIGHT couch pillows?!). And today is the grand opening of a Joann Fabrics superstore. I'll wait until you get your breathe back...

So, that's where I had to look next (because you've gotta know I've already checked everywhere else!). As it turned out, I was going to meet my mom there, but before that I wanted to go to Wal-Mart with my friend. Of course, that took longer so she joined me and my mom, and my kids at the new fabulous Mecca of craftiness.

After debating for a while, holding swatches up to each other, and thinking about how cheaply I could make new pillowcases for these six pillows while still using quality fabric, I made my decision and made the cuts. My mom left, and I was on my way to the register to pay and take advantage of a 40% off coupon that was to be waiting for me at the register.

What do you mean, there's no 40% off coupon?!

They ran out. The fabric was cut. My children we antsy. The chicken in my purse was getting warmer and warmer by the second (don't ask), and they had the audacity to be out of the 40% off coupons?!

We went to work. My friend check multiple e-mail accounts, and I called one person. And then, like every other smart daughter, I called my mom.

Mom, do you have a 40% off coupon? They are out of them here.

Of course she does! She is mom! She can solve any problem, face any challenge!

She was already over 20 minutes away, but like what any mother would do, though tired, hungry, and already worn down by an indecisive daughter, she turned the car around and saved the day!

My friend, the world's most gifted and talented kindergarten teacher who puts the pied piper to shame, humored and played with my children, who, if I were on my own, would have broken to pieces in fits of whining and selfishness by this time. And I, by that time, would have been in tears myself thankyouverymuch.

But all was well. The coupon arrived safely with my mother. The children didn't fly into fits and puff into oblivion in Rumpelstiltskin-like fashion. The chicken stayed at a safe temperature for consumption. And the fabric was officially mine, ready to fill my creative outlet and beautify my living room.

I am blessed by those who are around me. My mother is a hero. My friend is a wonder.

Thank you Lord for days like these where you save me from greater stress than what I would have put on myself, had you not given me the blessings you do!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 174: Yes Father's Day

Sometimes we need a do-over. Today is a do-over.

I bombed out on Father's Day. I just did. We won't dwell on it. I have already dumped enough grief on myself. So I will move on.

Today the zoo was the cure. We loaded into the car as a family, and headed north to the zoo. We spent the whole day together as a family, and just had fun.

I love my family.

I love days like this when my children are young and we can laugh.

I love building memories like this.

Good do-over.

Lord thank you for second chances and opportunities to make up for lost opportunities. Thank you for my husband who is a godly father for my children. Thank you that they have a dad where I don't, and thank you that he is a good leader for our family. His leadership brings security and a great strength to our home, and I know that it is my your grace and your grace alone that has built that up in his character. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 173: My Husband's Mom

Fun fact: I'm not the only Kelly in the family. There are three of us. My husband's dad and uncle both married Kelly's- well a Kelle and a Kellie, to be exact.

Anyhow, we celebrate another year of having my mother-in-law in the world, for it is her birthday.

I love my mother-in-law. We have a very sweet relationship. I talk with her often, and she is a sweet woman of the Lord. She is wise, and a great blessing. She is a graceful (she would laugh if she reads that I am using the word "graceful" to describe her!) example of Biblical womanhood. The truth is, I would do well to emulate her, and I strive to.

I am grateful for her diligence to raise my husband, and her care in being a good grandmother to my children. She has taken me in as her own daughter, and I feel extra blessed to count her as another mom to me.

I can't say enough about how much I love and appreciate her, but I do know when to stop. For I can stop rambling if I set my mind to- can you believe it?!

Happy birthday, Kelle!

Thank you for giving another mom, Lord.
I am so blessed by her and her example of faith. May I be more like her and bring you glory!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 172: Welcome Summer

Ah, the first day of summer, the solstice! God ushered in summer beautifully today. We experienced the warmth of the sunshine, something that we Oregonians often forget in the long wet winter. This year, we never really had spring either. Well, I guess we did, it just got completely drowned out by the rain.

I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that to have lovely day like this is very refreshing.

Welcome summer, welcome. I've been waiting for you.

Thank you God, that sunshine is always around the corner! 
May I always be patient to wait in you for its arrival.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 171: Noah

Noah is my nephew.

He turned 8.

I have seen this little guy grow in so many ways. He once struggled with speech, and I think sometimes he acted out a bit more because he couldn't express himself with words. Although he is still working through some speech things, I have seen so much improvement and much of that is due to his keen will to make that happen. He has grown softer and more gentle, and much of that is seen in his sweet spirit towards his little sister Seble. He dotes on her, and loves her. Her adoption has just melted this tough guy like nothing before has!

He is such a special guy to have as a nephew. I am so glad that this unexpected child #4 is a part of my family. I love being his aunt.

Father, bless Noah in this new year. 
Help him grow more and more and learn more of your Word. 
May he grow is strength and wisdom, learning to be a man after your heart. 
Bless Adam and Amber as they disciple him and help him along the way. 
Use them to teach him the things he must know to bring you glory. 
Be glorified in his life, Lord. 
Bring him to you, and may he be saved at a young age and follow you all his days.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 170: No Father's Day

I grew up without a father in my life. In fact, I haven't even spoken to my father since before I was married. He never calls. He only sends a Christmas card if we do. He never sends a birthday card or acknowledges his grandchildren. He lives in the same town as us. In fact, I live closer to my father than I do to my mother.

But I never see him.

For all intents and purposes, I might as well not even have a father. This day is a unique day for me.

I've felt through the array of responses that a childless father can have on this day. I have been angry. I have been bitter. I have been numb. I have been sad.

As an adult God's grace has moved me from those things to thankfulness and healing. Instead of being angry at his abandonment, I have compassion on my father, for he doesn't know Christ. Instead of being bitter, I am thankful that I have a mother who stood in the gap and that I have a Heavenly Father who stands in all the gaps that remain- and then some! Instead of feeling numb, I am filled with love for my own husband who is a wonderful father. Instead of sadness, I have the redeeming joy of now having a father-in-law that has become my own father.

I'll say this though, before you think that I'm all sunshine and lollipops, and have a grand Pollyanna complex. The pain of being abandoned and rejected by my own father is still carried with me. The scars are there, and they a deep and ugly at times. At moments that I don't expect or predict, the pain rears it's ugly head and hits me with the force of a bull chasing the red cape.

This Father's Day, that bull came after me. I have not felt overjoyed for this coming holiday. I've been affected by my father's absence. I have been saddened and the wound laid bare. There was definitely no sunshine and lollipops for me this year.

And that bothered me. It bothered me that I let my father have any power over me. It bothered me that I allowed the pain to steal my joy. Aren't I beyond that? Haven't I outgrown that sorrow?

That's the thing.

I don't know if it will ever go away completely. I don't know if it will ever not upset me that things are not as they should. I don't think that I should ever get to that point because if I got to that place where I wasn't upset about the sinful actions taken by my father, then I would be totally insensitive to the severity of that sin. It is a severe sin that hangs over my father's head. I don't want to forget that, not because I want to hold it against him, but because I always want to embrace truth.

The truth is, that he is under God's wrath, as we all are if we haven't come to Christ in repentance. The truth is, that what my father has done is wrong, and that it needs to be fixed. The truth is, that only the cross of Christ can cover that sin. It is only the cross of Christ that allows me to have any grace and forgiveness towards such a betrayal.

So the pain will always be there, to some degree. It has shaped me, and by God's grace it has molded me more into the likeness of Christ. I have compassion where I may not have had it. I have understanding where I may not have had it. I have an ability to comfort where I may not have had it.

There is so much that I can write about on this topic, for like adoption, the divorce of my parents has very much defined any parts of who I am. Real pain like that will do that. Real grace will take that pain and make it beautiful.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 169: Tea Parties and Fairy Wings

Today was Norah's long-awaited tea party. All the preparations were made, guests invited, and today we enjoyed the fun festivities!

It was such a hoot.

The girls started out quiet and almost shy, acting as if they hadn't played together nearly every day since this fall. Then, the adults just let them sit at the table together talking... and then giggling... and then laughing with all the silliness that should be displayed by five 6-year-old girls!

They danced, and made up games of their own. They told funny stories, and it was just adorable watching them interact.

What was even more special was my daughter's willingness to practice being a hostess. We talked about making sure everyone was comfortable, sharing, putting other before herself. She thoughtfully planned where each girl would sit, and made the best efforts she could to make conversation. She talked to the girls about being careful with the tea things, and made her best efforts to be a hospitable host.

She did a spectacular job!

I am so proud of her. I wanted this to be an opportunity to practice those skills and begin to plant seeds in her heart to want to practice hospitality. She responded beautifully. Before my very eyes I caught glimpses of what may be the future. She had inside jokes with friends. She took it upon herself to delight each guest and humor them. Mostly though, she was herself- a little bit more grown up.

I liked seeing my daughter as a friend. She is a good friend. She gave equal attention to everyone. She showed genuine happiness over each person's attendance. She's entering into a different phase. She's not so little anymore, but I'm glad she's not so grown up.

Don't blink, mom, I think to myself. Give her about a year or two and a fairy tea party won't be so cool anymore.

But days like today, with the friends she chose to surround herself with, I don't feel anxiety. She has chosen wisely, and she acted graciously.

Mom couldn't be more proud or thankful.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 168: Free Butterflies

We finally released our temporary pet butterflies, and it was a kick to see the kids wonder at them fluttering away. We held on to the butterflies a little too long, as we discovered two dead before we could release them. I guess I learned what their life span is! Whoops.

Regardless of my follies at predicting the longevity of a butterfly's life, it was a delight to see the Butterfly Chapter end. It was a learning experience that I'm sure we will participate in again. Seeing my children marvel at God's creation was a joy to my heart, and even as young as they are, they understand the complexities of metamorphosis and that it is an amazing design.

Our Creator has designed a marvelous world, and as we were reminded of at Bible Study this Thursday, even it isn't right. We can never be fully satisfied in this present world because it is amiss with sin. How I long to see all restored to its original glory without blemish! Won't that be a great victory?!

I would echo the words on John:

Come, Lord Jesus!
(Revelation 22:20b)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 167: And Then There Was Baking

I always look forward to Thursdays because it's Life Group night. What made today extra special was spending the day with a friend. We've become better friends through Life Group, and our husbands have kindled a sweet friendship as well.

This was something that I have prayed about for myself and my husband, and I am so glad that the Lord is blessing and granting that desire. I am richly joy-filled as we get to know each other and share more and more of life with one another.

Today was another of those "life sharing" days in which I spent the day with my friend baking pies, dining together as families and then proceeded to our Bible study. I spent the greater part of my day fellowshipping, talking of ordinary things as well as spiritual, but always grace filled.

It was lovely.

Father, you grant our every need and 
time and time again 
you meet our heart's desires when they line up with yours. 
Please line my heart more and more with yours, 
so that I always want what is best and what glorifies you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 166: Unexpected Hour Boost

Hours have been tight at work, and although I don't need many, even taking a week off is a bit of a leap of faith for the Lord to provide in that gap. So I was very thankful to have an unexpected work shift today, and more than doubled my hours. What a relief!

Another co-worker just gave up the shift, willing to take the cut, and offered it to me. They benefited in getting some time with family and a chance to get some things done; so I feel pleased that I was able to free them up as well as cushion our family's pocket book a smidgen.

God always provides. All the time. He always gives us exactly what we need and really, so much of what we want.

Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 165: Frying Tacos and Reading Level 3

I'm typing tonight using only one hand. Although it's a little entertaining making this into a fun challenge, it's also pretty annoying and, I'll be frank, it hurts.

You see, my left hand is burnt. I was frying tacos, just to do something different, wanting to give a little pizazz to the normal chicken tacos that have grown a little dull to our home. The flip of one particular taco didn't go so well, and splat! Oil splattered on my hand, and I raced to the sink for running cold water. I'm kind of bummed that I took a shift at work tomorrow. I'm pretty sure that my left hand won't be too effective in eye glass repairs!

Oh well! I'm just so glad that neither of my children weren't in the kitchen when it happened, and that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Oh! It could have been so so bad!

On a happier note, we celebrated Norah graduating kindergarten yesterday, and we were very proud of her to get an excellence in reading award. Tonight her daddy got her a present, and although she doesn't like to let on how cool she thought that was, she really liked it.

It was a sweet blessing to me to see Husband dote on his girl and show her how proud he is of her. I don't have enough words (or hands, at the present moment) to express how much the scene filled my heart. I'm blessed beyond measure (burn and all)!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 164: Sewing

You know those tasks that just sit around for a while undone or unfinished? For me, sewing is one of those. I've had 3 pairs of pants, my daughter's dress, and a stuffed whale that have needed repair just laying in a bag to be done for an amount of time that I don't care to admit (and also because it's been so long that I can't really remember).

I'm happy to report, that now there's only one pair of pants, and half a hem on another!

I'll wait for the applause to die down....

It may seem lame, but it has been gnawing on me, this bag if mending. To have finished even some if it is such a  blessing to me. I watched a movie (Ever After streaming on Netflix, if you must know), and worked on repairing the clothes. It was such a nice experience, I look forward to getting the rest finished.

Thank you Lord for every little victory. 
It is only by your grace that I can do anything good. 
Be honored in my attempts to be diligent in making my home bring you honor and glory.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 163: Saved by Sherbet and a Smack

Last night I made a mistake. You see, I have diabetes that I control through diet, exercise (in theory) and medication. Yesterday I just forgot to take my medicine, and so when I went to bed, my blood sugar levels tested quite high. Not liking how I felt, and unable to snap my pill in half as I normally do, I took a whole one thinking that I was high enough to not have a low.

After falling asleep, my son came into my bed because he's been fighting allergies, and they tend at plague him more at night when he's trying to sleep.

Some time later, he smacked me in the head because he's four and when you're four, you don't sleep still just like when you are conscious you don't sit still.

I noticed that I was really really warm, and as I was still half asleep, I just shifted positions, trying to get comfortable. I also felt very weak, and it took me about thirty seconds to figure out that I was having a hypoglycemic moment. My blood sugar was low, and by low, I mean, I hadn't felt this low and lethargic in the ten years that I have had diabetes.

So I was groggy, and I pulled myself out of bed, knowing that if I did not, I was going to drop more and possibly lose consciousness.

Walking into the kitchen, hot, sweaty, and so weak I felt like I was going to fall, I went for the first thing I could think of that would cool me off and shoot up the glucose level- sherbet. I made my way to the couch with the ice cream carton in hand, sat and leaned on the back and proceeded to eat.

I ate what was about a large bowl's worth, and began to slowly feel better and feel more like my brain could process what was happening to me. The sweating stopped, I put the empty carton in the sink, and went back to bed grateful that Haddon had smacked me.

I'm not sure if I would have woken up when I did, if Haddon hadn't been in the bed. I'm also not sure if I would have woken up in time. It's very possible that my children would find me unconscious in the morning, and that thought scares me. I would rather have a higher blood sugar level and be a little uncomfortable with that than to scare my children and put my life at risk.

So I'm thankful that the Lord orchestrated events in my day to protect me, my children and my husband from a very terrifying Sunday morning, as opposed to what it was. This morning was a nice morning. We all got ready and headed to church as a family. Sure, I was sleepy from the ordeal from last night, and Haddon has swollen eyes from rubbing them so much, but we were together and generally healthy.

God gave me a smack from my boy, and some sherbet to keep me here. I'm so glad he uses all circumstances for his purposes and for his glory.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 162: Happy 1st Birthday, Seble

Before my beautiful niece came home, I wrote her a story. It's a story that I wanted her mom and dad to have and cherish. Today I gave it to them in a shorter storybook version that will be easier for them to read, and way more colorful! But here is the original.
Happy birthday little Seble!
Seble’s Story
For my niece Seble
May you grow to be a woman like Ruth, a woman a great character and strength, and may you reap a harvest of grace from the Great Redeemer.

    Understanding the story of Seble takes understanding another story, a true story, a great story. And like all great stories it begins…
    Once upon a time many many years ago, far, far away, in a small town called Bethlehem, there lived a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi. They had two sons. In all of Israel, Bethlehem was a town known for farming. In fact it was sometimes called the House of Bread, for it was where wheat, and barley grew in abundance.
    But something very sad happened in Bethlehem. A famine came, and there was no food. Desperate to care for their two boys, Elimelech and Naomi left their home and headed for a strange land called Moab.
    The people of Moab weren’t like the people of Israel. They did not worship the one true God, and so the family was very different from all the others around them.
    And it was there, in the land of Moab, that Naomi would suffer her greatest heartaches. First, her husband died. Then her sons married women from Moab, and for ten years neither could have any children. Finally, both her sons died leaving Naomi alone with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth./
    After all these long, hard years away from her homeland, Naomi longed for home. She had heard that the time of famine was over and that food was plentiful again. So Naomi decided to go back home.
    She turned to her daughters-in-law and told them to return back to their own people and their own families. She knew she had nothing to offer them. She had no other sons, and the life of a woman with no husband was hard, and she wished better things for them.
    Orpah hugged Naomi and said good-bye.
    Ruth hugged Naomi and wouldn’t let go.
    Ruth believed in the God of Israel, and she trusted Him to care for her. She loved her mother-in-law and promised to always stay with her and care for her.
    So Naomi and Ruth traveled back to Bethlehem, and were welcomed back by the people.
    Now, these two women had nothing. They had suffered great sadness, and didn’t have any way to make money. They were alone.
    But Ruth wanted to take care of Naomi. So she went out to the fields at the time of the harvest. She picked up pieces of grain so that should could make bread.
    The owner of the field noticed Ruth, and saw that she was a hard worker and honest. He had heard of how kind she had been to her mother-in-law. So he told the field workers to make sure that Ruth could gather lots and lots of grain!
    Oh what wonderful fortune! Oh what amazing grace! Ruth and Naomi were able to eat and had grain left over to make bread- enough bread to last them a good while!
    You see, it was no chance that Ruth went to the field she did. It was no chance that the owner of the field was a man who could take care of Ruth.
    It was planned by the God of Israel. At the time of the harvest, when two women had no hope, God gave them the chance to be saved, redeemed.
    Ruth married the owner of the field, and even though she was never able to have children, she had a son. And one day Ruth’s great grandson became the greatest king of all of Israel. And from that king came the greatest King of all.
    Many, many years later in another land far away, under one of the last harvest moons, in the darkness of night, a shadow passed along a dirt road carrying a bundle. The bundle was placed gently behind a sheet metal gate, and you could heard the smallest whimper. It was a sad moment as the sweet bundle was left. Out of sadness and despair, with no other hope, the shadow walked away.
    Cold, hungry, and sick, the little bundle waited for the morning. Finally dawn came, and the bundle was discovered.
    Oh the treasure that was found in that bundle! For it was a sweet baby girl. Desperate for care, she was taken away and placed in the care of the police.
    It was there that this little girl was given her name, the name of the harvest: Seble. Under the careful watch of the God of Israel, she was brought back to good health. Grace had smiled on her.
    In yet another land, far, far away, the telephone rang, and an anxious mother answered. All the waiting and hoping and praying had led to this one moment! “Yes! We will redeem her!” the mother cried.
    Just as a farmer rejoices in his harvest, so did the family rejoice over the gift of their redeemed bundle. For where there was no hope, there was now a future. Out of sadness had come joy.
    So just as Ruth found redemption, so did baby Seble, and because the One from Ruth‘s family, all may be redeemed into hope and joy. Seble’s story is not just about Seble

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 161: Talkative Neighbor

I was looking forward to a quiet train ride home. I thought I would be able to read plenty and was prepared to attempt reading Timothy Keller's Prodigal God in its entirety. I thought that I would maybe take a little bit of a nap. I don't know. I just thought that my train ride home would be different than what it was.

Like many things in my life, it didn't turn out the way I thought. It was generally quiet. I read a good part of the book I wanted to. I did not nap, at all.

I sat by a talkative gal. You know, a friendly person that chit chats, and makes polite conversation. You know, one of those people. Ahem. Like I am sometimes. Ahem.

Uh, anyway...

I got to know my neighbor because that's what you do, when you're next to someone who is a talker, and when you are a talker yourself. I learned that we both have children the same age. We both got married in the same year, and we were both on the train due to visits to friends. So that was kind of cool.

In the course of sitting next to this woman, I also shared with her about Casey's book. She thought that was pretty cool, and asked what it was about. I showed her my e-reader, and she proceeded to read about half the book!

I will tell you, I was having a difficult time paying attention to Keller's wonderful book. I kept praying that the battery on the reader would hold out. I prayed that the message of the book would be used. I prayed that I would get to open up conversation that might lead to sharing the gospel. It was a wonderful distraction!

I have no idea what she thought of what my husband wrote, nor do I know what affect the words of truth in the book may have had. What I do know though, is that she read about the gospel whether I personally got to share it or not!

She gave little feedback, and what little she did share was positive and had no bearing on whether she was thinking about the contents or its truth. All I can do is just simply pray that whatever she absorbed may bud into bloom in her heart.

So, I'm glad that things didn't go how I wanted them to go.

Yes, Lord, give me the talkative neighbor that I may share your truth. 
Use me in whatever way you see fit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 160: More Refreshing Than Sprite

The fizz. The citrus. The sweet taste. All so refreshing. Whether it's Sprite, 7Up, or Sierra Mist, I think that lemon-lime soda has got to be one of the most invigoratingly refreshing beverages.

But my time in Seattle has been more refreshing than that. I think I really needed time away. When my husband planned this trip, I don't believe he could have foreseen how much this would be an encouraging time for me. It was worth the time spent on the train. It was worth leaving my babies behind (yes, I know they aren't babies.)

I was able to read, and dink around. I attempted to sleep in later, and did to some extent.

Yes, it was nice to get away. It wasn't for very long, but it was restful, and good for me. I think that it was just what I needed.

Thank you Lord, for this special time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 159: Lead of Love

This song by Caedmon's Call played in a video slide show when my husband and I were married. It's a beautifully well written song about looking back and being able to see God's hand leading us through difficult times.

I was reminded of this song as I spoke with my friends that I'm visiting. Our friendship began under very trying circumstances when my husband served in a church that was poisoned with sinful actions and hurtful deeds, that eventually split and then split again within about three years. My friends and their family, along with Casey and I, bore the brunt of much of the controversy- their family even more than ours.

So, it seems natural that some discussion comes up of those times and its affect on where we find ourselves now. This time long past had such a profound impact on the lives of some, that I would consider it quite the catalyst for change both for good and bad. Even for those who were deeply wounded and find themselves lost as a direct result of the events in that church, are still on a journey that God has yet to reveal its end. It has been the work of a patient God over the last five years, as he faithfully and lovingly works in all his children for their good and his glory.

In my separate talks, I was struck, though not necessarily for the first time, at how truly profound the events of my husband's first pastorate have been on our lives.

I shared with my friend that had I not gone through that journey, there are so many things that I have endured since, that may have crushed me had I not been seasoned and weathered that storm, now over five years in my past.

The events surrounding the church's split brought some major points of doctrine to a focal point in my life. Before I had nuggets of truth, and after all the truth had come together to create a solid boulder of biblical truth that is a foundation for withstanding life, and embracing the all encompassing grace of God. Understanding the doctrines of grace has solidified faith in God's sovereignty and control over all things. In every thing I have faced, from parenting dilemmas, relational issues to deep hurt, these doctrines have been foundational in approaching all aspects of my life with grace and with the gospel at the center.

In leading me through a time a great stress and hurt, pain and confusion, God has set me free to stand securely in the truth scattered throughout his word.

If we had not gone through that pain, my friends and I would not be where we are today, nor would we have come to a place of faith and trust in a God who leads always in love. My husband wouldn't be the man he is today. Our dear friend and pastor who was in the firestorm would not be the man he is today. Evidences of the strength gained are in stories of battling cancer, financial stresses, lost children, relocation, and in pains so deep, God's leading guides you to the only source of strength- himself.

It's an honor to have traveled that love-led path alongside friends in the faith. It is a journey that will be forever remembered and cherished, for it brought me closer to the loving Guide who brought me through it and continues to lead in love and grace.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 158: A train! A train! Could you, would you on a train?

Yes, I would Sam I Am. I would ride a train. I would ride a train up to Seattle with a net book, e-reader , Bible and snacks that my husband bought. I would spend five hours relaxing, reading, and dozing. Then I would get off the train, and visit with dear friends Erin and Lauren.

I would visit and talk, play with little Tommy and enjoy time with friends.

That's what I would do, Sam I Am. I'm not sure about the Green Eggs and Ham.

Thank you for bringing me safely to my destination, Lord, and thank you that I have this time to spend with good friends being built up and encouraged. May I be an encouragement to them, and may you be glorified in this time. Refresh me, and bring be back home renewed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 157: Mini-Me

There's something that I have had to come to terms with as a parent, and it's a truth that all parents cringe from- at least a little. That is that children are like little mirrors. As you watch them and their behavior, they reflect back your flaws, strengths, weaknesses, habits and tendencies. It's a shocking thing to come to grips with. They handle conflict the way you do, although it is a more childish way- or not. They value what you value, what you truly value, not just what you say you value. They have your mannerisms and pick up on the verbiage of your daily conversation, so they learn to express themselves in a manner that reflects you.

I have seen this phenomena in my own children, poor dears, but there's another side of the coin that is actually quite endearing- and convicting.

Remember that trip to Wal-Mart?(Who knew a trip to a giant big-box sort of store could be so profound, huh?) Well, while we were in there, I looked a bit at the clearance sections in both the boys and girls; it's one of those times that I envy families that have just boys or just girls. Oh, how nice it would be to just deal with one section and hand things down!

But I digress. I do that sometimes. Ahem.

Norah was looking at the clothes, and she saw a shirt that caught her eye. I thought was kind of funny because about a month ago we were in the same said store, and after choosing a top for myself, I suggested the exact same top for Norah commenting that we would kind of match. Of course I was joking around with her, knowing that she would be appalled at such a suggestion, and the idea was soon predictably rejected.

Without reminding her of my previous suggestion, I proceeded to look for the right size for my girl. She was delighted. There was no mention that this top was akin to the one I had already in my possession until we got home, and she said, "Mom, if you wore your shirt we would kind of match."

"That's right, baby. We would."

The whole experience was a reminder to me of how much she watches me, and although she would never admit it, she wants to be like me. The fact is she already is. I see my faults being inadvertently taught to her and my sins emulated by her. My greatest hope is that any good in me would be mimicked as well. I pray that by the grace of God I can be someone worth looking up to and wanting to be like, and that she would know that it's only by his grace that she can reflect anything righteous.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. 
They are to teach what is good, 
and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 
 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, 
that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5
It starts with me at home with my little girl. Moms are to be that older woman to their daughters. I often have wrongly thought of this passage as just a mentor-like relationship within the church, but it's not just that. I starts within the walls of my home, and spills into the church where I seek to minister to all those younger and seek out wisdom, watching the example of those who are older. It is every woman's model to follow, and I hope that God gives me the strength to be diligent in the pursuit of that model.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 156: Fight, Value, and Trust

Ah, Sunday.

I needed Sunday this week.

I mentioned that I would mention how the week has been overwhelming to me, but I think the best word  would be underwhelming.

I have felt like there had been a cloud over my head and like I have been in a fog. Motivation has escaped me. My attitude has felt droll. I have lacked attentiveness in parenting, housework, and in general, every aspect of my life. I haven't been able to shake it. It's been a very trapping feeling.

I don't need to be medicated.

I don't need counseling.

I don't need to search my past pains and do some sort of program for healing.

I just need Jesus. I need him to fight with me and beside me. I need to fear and trust him more and more. I need to delight in him and value him. That's what I got out of Sunday morning services as pastor preached the last lesson in Ecclesiastes.

Jesus! Jesus! Precious Jesus! Oh for grace to trust you more!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 155: What Wal-Mart Does to Me

It hit me pretty suddenly and without warning. I was in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, and I saw a group of beautiful young ladies with beautiful dark skin. I immediately noticed the beautiful tone they had, and thought of my niece, Seble. I just dote over that little girl, and think she is just beautiful.

So far so good right? Nothing dramatic. I just was people watching and marvelling in God's ability to create beauty. No big deal, but by the time I was pulling out of the lot and into the main road to take our groceries home, I was fighting tears.

Let me explain.

From the subject of Seble, my mind wanders to adoption, and then I wander to the desire to adopt. I was overcome with this burning and passionate desire to speed off in my car, children, groceries and all, racing towards a destination that I didn't know to a child that I don't know. I was overcome with the sensation that I had lost something and the desperate need to retrieve it and find it.

You know that feeling you get when you can't find a child? Whether it's your own child or one that you have charge over, when you cannot locate that little one there is a panic that seizes you and won't let go until the lost lamb is discovered.

I felt that. Without knowing the child to come into my family. Without knowing their skin color, their likes and dislikes, age or personality, I felt like I was torn from someone who I needed to get to. Even now as I write, there is a slight lump in my throat.

I have to wait though. I don't know when it will be time, but I know that the time will come. The Author of my family's story knows the plot and is very intentional about how it will all build. So I will sit back and be patient.

I didn't mean for my sudden outburst to show that I am not content or am not patient, but I think that it did. There's a lot of things that I know about waiting and being patient in the Lord and trusting His control in my head, but there is always a fight against flesh to make sure that it's not just in my head but in my heart.

I believe that God will move in my heart to prepare me for adoption's journey, and I know that he will work on my husband's heart to prepare him as well. That means that he will draw us together to be of one mind and to think the same way about when and how we should adopt. He will prepare us and give us faith to endure the path, with all the ups and downs, twists and turns.

So I'll wait. I'd much rather do things on God's terms than my own. Things don't go as well if I try on my own.

Father, please, by your grace, give me the faith to wait and to wait with patience for your timing in building our family.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 153: Here's to June

May has ended, and so has the time of my husband's book being the featured book with Cruciform Press. We have absolutely no idea how the book performed in sales, whether it was successful or a bit of a flop. We just don't know. All feedback has been positive. All reviews are positive.

It's an interesting thing, books are. You never know what book is going to take off and be a best seller, or if it will resonate with people or not. I'm really proud of my husband for having the courage to write something and put it out there for people to critic, read, review. I don't know if I would be brave enough to do that. I think about too many people reading even this, and it makes me feel a little shy.

"But God..." is a book that I want so many people to read. I just don't know how to get it into people's hands. Word of mouth is an obvious way, and I think the best way. We haven't told a lot of people, but any profit we make from book sales is going into a savings account for adoption. So that's pretty cool. We've been able to put about $100 towards saving. It's not much, but every little bit is exciting to me.

I'm not sure what all will happen in the coming months. We need to be in prayer about how God would have the book be used. We need to be in prayer about how Casey will be used in ministry and for doors to open for that. We need to be in prayer seeking wisdom in when and how to proceed with the adoption process. I don't know how all those things will affect the other or whether all those things will be separate or intertwined. I just don't know.

I kind of like not knowing though. I think things can often be better when we don't know. I think that God protects us and keeps us moving forward by not letting us know. It's like when a horse is blind-folded when it needs to be guided through a place that would frighten it; so does God with us. It's for our own peace of mind, allowing us to calmly proceed in faith of our guide instead of being distracted by what which frightens us.

The unknown has its own possible affect on us, and I don't deny that. It just seems that right now, the unknown it's very frightening. Knowing what is coming ahead might be. I don't know if that makes sense, but in whatever circumstances I do want to simply rest in my Good Shepherd to guide and protect me. He'll always look out for my best, and always do what is best.

I'm a little rambling today, but I think that's okay. I'm delighted in this journey that we have been on. It's been a up and down, easy and difficult, path that has kept me guessing and relying on God. That is a delightful thing. It's delightful because that's the safest place to be, and because he always proves himself faithful in his sovereignty and provision. My hope is that the ways in which I react to each twist and turn delights him. That's the whole point anyway. If I don't bring glory to my Guide, than the journey is for naught. The journey's not about me, but about how he's going to glorified in it, for my own benefit.

That is a long topic in and of itself. So I will stop there. Here's to June and whatever it may hold.

Day 154: Reverse Track

Okay, so this is totally cheating! But if I reveal my tricks is it really cheating?

I've been a bit overwhelmed this week, and I'll explain in another post why, but I realized that I could date something earlier than when I really wrote it! Ta-da!

This will make it less confusing for me when I look back at my posts and read through this year. So sometimes things will be posted on different dates to coincide with the actual date it happen as opposed to when I get to posting it.

So, my quest goes on. I think daily about God's graces, whether written about in a timely manner, that remains to be seen. But I think this discovery gives me a little more freedom and makes me feel less like I have to write things in a certain way. I'm grateful for that.

I think this journey that I'm on to daily recognize God's grace and mercy each day has helped me give myself more grace, but I know that needs to be balanced. Giving grace to myself doesn't mean giving myself liscense for laziness, and that is a big temptation!

So as I ride here on this train (I'll write about that too), I feel like I'm back on track- just a little reverse action happening. Pun intended, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 152: I'm Pro-Life

When a butterfly enters the world from its chrysalis, there are some things that need to go right in order for it to survive. First, the wings need to get out, allowing its legs to push itself free from the shell of the chrysalis. Second, the wings need to air out and dry, so the butterfly needs to spend some time being undisturbed to allow the wings to unfurl and become strong and dry.

Four out of our five chrysalises brought forth perfect, healthy butterflies. They came out, dried out, and fly about. They are beautiful and normal; my children delight in them.

The fifth chrysalis is one that I have had a special eye on. I have been very concerned about it. This particular specimen was the first caterpillar to get very large. It was the first to form a chrysalis- a day ahead of the rest. And it was the first to begin to emerge, but it never came out completely. I kept watching it, hoping that it would break through, but it never did. I thought about trying to help it, but was too nervous to do anything about it not wanting to hurt it.

Well, tonight I just couldn't help it anymore. I would slightly move the partially-outed butterfly, and see that it would move, but it just didn't make any progress in coming forth. So I took matters into my own hands- or little sewing pins, to be precise.

As I peeled away the crust of the chrysalis, it became clear that Number Five is alive. It struggled with me to break free, but something has gone very wrong. It didn't get dried out. Well, really, the wings did dry out, but because they weren't unfurled, they dried in a squished heap on the sides of the butterfly. This created a problem- Number Five's legs and antennae were stuck underneath now deformed wings.

I labored with Number Five just now for a good half hour, and now it is sitting before me, with wings scrunched, legs deformed and it's barely able to move. But it is on its own legs. It's alive!

I'm going to keep it alive, if I can (I have yet to see if it has its little tongue to extend- that'll be key). I value this little butterfly. It has value. It's value isn't in whether or not it's a "perfect" or "complete" butterfly, but it's value lies in the fact that it is a living creature made by God.

Unlike it's peers, Number Five isn't pretty to look at. In fact, he's kinda hard to look at. I'm not sure what part is what in some ways, but I don't really care. I'm going to enjoy its life and value it, keeping it alive the best I can so that it can live to its fullest.

I think there's a lot to be said about this little guy, and the lessons that it's deformed and possibly short life may teach are very special. I want my children to understand this lesson, that life is valuable.

So I'm hoping that Number Five will live. I'm letting him stand in peace so that it can dry out, and we'll see what the future looks like for this little one.

Day 151: In Which I Ditched Blogging to Watch a Movie

Instead of writing an entry on this blog, I chose to watch a movie and relax spending time with my husband. I worked in the morning, got home to have my mom come over and cut my son's hair, and then make dinner and have friends over. So after a full day of being blessed and blessing others, I just wanted to sit, relax and just enjoy being around my husband on his day off.

So that's what I did.

Such a nice way to end a full day.

Thank you Lord, for a husband to spend each day with.