Friday, July 24, 2009

she loves me

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of blessings. Not being able to spare 15 minutes to post has been driving me crazy...this girl's gotta write! :-)

Last night was our kids' final day at VBS. Before we even left home, they were grieving that camp was almost over. They had such a great time connecting with other kids their ages, learning new sports, and, most importantly, deepening their relationship with the Lord.

I have to admit, after 4 incredible date nights, Geoff and I were grieving a bit ourselves, too! However, when the coaches asked us to arrive 30 minutes early so that our children could share with us some of what they learned over the week, we were more than happy to comply. :-)

Liam really enjoyed learning to play soccer...which is a good thing, because it happens to be his new brother's favorite activity. When he scored on "the best" goalie, she asked him how he did it. Liam replied, "I must have Ethiopian blood in me!" He cracks us up. Thankfully, he explained to the confused goalie that he has a brother waiting for him in Africa. :-)

Chelsea's team performed several cheers for us. Being that she's a dancer, she had a GREAT time! I love that God has given her the self-confidence to perform in front of others with a beautiful smile on her face. She was definitely in her element.

And Sara. Oh, Sara. What can I say? She was the biggest surprise of all. As I've shared before, Sara came home to us in need of some deep, deep healing. Our journey with our youngest has been far from easy. However, it has been full of incredible blessings!

Sara is still learning to trust that when her dad or I go away, we will come back. She typically does well when we are away, but usually requires several days to recover from the emotions that surface. I honestly wasn't sure if Sara would make it past the first night without us.

Thankfully, Sara's coach was also her favorite Sunday school teacher. (Previously, her older siblings' preschool teacher.) Sara adores "Teacher/Coach Patty." (And so do we!)

When Sara's team took center stage, her eyes quickly scanned the audience to find us. When she spotted me, she started blowing me kisses with all her might. She smiled and waved and held up her little hand to sign "I love you." Oh my. It was very, very sweet.

Geoff was busy capturing the show on camera (I'll try to post the pics and/or video soon) and I happened to be seated between two other multi-racial families. Both dads on either side of me saw Sara's enthusiasm and said, "Wow. She really loves you!"

In that moment, I realized how great my God is and how incredible His love is for each of us. He has brought our family so far over these past few years. I feel so humbled by all that He has done in and through Sweet Sara's life.

She loves me! Not only that, she loves Him!

As if my heart wasn't already bursting with joy, Sara's team went on to sing and sign "He Knows My Name."

One tear fell, and then another, and another. I was all but sobbing in a matter of seconds. Thankfully Geoff noticed and started passing tissues over the head of the dad on my right.

And then, my sweet girl, knelt down for the second half of the song. She did so because Patty was and she was working really hard to honor her coach.

Sara was surrounded on both sides by other four and five year olds standing up tall while she was on her knees worshipping her Creator. Oh my. It was most certainly a sight to behold.

God is SO good. So full of love and mercy. So full of healing and grace.

I'm tearing up just remember the joy on Sara's face and the fact that God knows more than her name. He's seen each tear she has cried from the day she was born and left to be found in a cultural center in Tianjin, China.

He knows. He cares. For Sara. For me. And for you, my Friend.

His love is real. His love is free. His love can knows no bounds. His love can meet you right where you are and give you a new life.

He loves us and we are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Please pass the tissues...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the gentle whisper

"The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain
in the presence of the LORD,
for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the LORD,
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire,
but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

This morning, Liam woke up stressed about a bad dream he had last night. As he began to recount the details, I completely understood why the dream had scared him.

His dream involved a freaky looking creature that attacked him and sucked my sweet boy into his stomach. Yuck, right?

Liam continued to share some disturbing details while I listened and tried to gauge what kind of response he needed from me.

Personally, I don't do freaky. I'm careful about the shows and books I read, and teach my children to do the same thing.

I am so overwhelmed by all of the beauty in this world that I have no desire to waste my time (or brain space) focusing on anything that feeds fear or dark thoughts.

Liam had, unfortunately, caught a glimple of a computer game with scary images and that was what his brain pulled from during his nightmare. It's bound to happen in this life, but as his mom, I have to say, it stinks.

I feel so sad that children are bombarded by such images that should be too much for adults to have to process. But I digress.

Just as I was getting ready to respond to what Liam was sharing, his next words caught me off guard.

"And then Jesus came and told the creatures to let me go. But, Mom, the thing is, He didn't yell or get upset. He quietly said the words. And they let me go!"

I started to cry. Sure, the enemy was trying to paralyze my son with fear. But God had other plans.

He met my boy in the middle of his bad dream. He protected my son. He rescued my son.

His words are so powerful that He didn't need to use anger, force or a loud voice.

He spoke and the enemy obeyed. My son was delivered from fear. How incredibly powerful is that?!?

In the end, my words didn't matter. God spoke and Liam listened.

Liam went on to say (with a huge smile on his face), "Mom, I can hear His voice right now. He's whispering. 'I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.'"

And to that, I tearfully said, "Amen."

Friend, what is the Lord whispering to you, today? Sometimes we have to really make an effort to look away from those things that cause us stress and worry and allow ourselves to hear what He is saying.

He is there and He loves you. Today I pray that you are able to find peace and rest in His goodness and love.


Learning from my son and His Savior,

(with special thanks to Liam for sharing his dream)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

lessons from Deuteronomy

"It is a good land which the Lord our God gives us."
Deuteronomy 1:25 (AMP)

One of may favorite books of the Bible is Deuteronomy. There's just so much wisdom and so many examples to learn from. Not to mention the Ten Commandments. :-)

I've been studying Deuteronomy this week so that I can better teach my children about God's laws and the choices He gives us.

I have several different Bibles that I flip-flop between. Over the weekend, I pulled out my Amplified version. Here's what the introduction to Deuteronomy said:

"Deuteronomy is a book about our never-ending need for God and His presence in our everyday lives. It is about trusting Him for daily miracles, learning to live in the blessings He gives us, and relying on His guidance in every situation we face.

In Deuteronomy, we see that the Israelites had to learn to worship God in the wilderness, to honor and obey Him while they were on the way to the Promised Land, when the journey was difficult. God asks us today, just as He did the Israelites, to worship Him and trust Him when life's journey gets tough. He knows that we will not consistently worship during the good times if we will not worship Him in the hard times. He also knows that our trust in Him is developed and strengthened in difficulty and not when everything is going well for us.

Let Deuteronomy provoke you to trust God and to seek His presence more fervently than ever. Remember that we do not live 'by bread alone," but by the Word of God and in the presence of God. Let this book encourage you to live in the blessings of obedience to God and teach you to handle those blessings wisely. Let it inspire you to worship your way through the wilderness times in your life and to keep choosing life in every situation."

I couldn't say it better than myself.

I love that my Creator made me fully alive with the gift of choice. I'm thankful that He loves me even when I choose curses and death, and that He uses my poor choices to grow and shape me.

I'm thankful that His gifts of blessings and life make me yearn to choose Him over and over and over again.

(I'm looking forward to sharing more about what God has been teaching me this week. However, I have three kids who are BEYOND excited for me to take them to VBS. Gotta go lather them up in sunscreen. It's been HOT here in Oregon this week!)

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE means continuing to seek Him and follow Him both in and through the wilderness.

Getting closer to my Promised Land each day,

Monday, July 20, 2009

the right conditions

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens
our confident hope of salvation."
Romans 5:3—5 (NLT)

It seems like every time we try to spend a day at the beach, the weather just doesn't seem to cooperate. Our biggest challenge has been the wind making it too cold to want to play and relax.

My favorite kind of beach weather is when the sky is completely blue and the temperature is about 75 degrees. Oh, and I like a nice, gentle breeze. But please, no wind!

It makes for a beautiful and enjoyable day, doesn't it?

Unless, of course, you want to fly a kite. And then some clouds in the sky help shield your upward looking eyes from the blaring sun. And the wind, of course, helps your kite to actually fly.

As I looked at our photos from last week's beach trip, I remembered how disappointed I was that it was windy. Again. And cold.

Until I across the photo of Chelsea and Liam with the kite and remembered just how much fun they had flying it.
The truth of the matter is that I can't have my perfectly warm and wind-free day at the beach and be able to enjoy watching beautiful kites flying in the sky.

I know that most of us would prefer to enjoy a problem-free life. We enjoy those days where things go as we expect them to, we get along with everyone, everything on our to-do list gets done and we are full of peace and joy.

Those kind of days are really nice, aren't they?

Unless of course we also want to live a faith-filled, God-honoring life.

The fact of that matter is that God desires each of us to live our lives to the fullest and to be open to all that He has for us.

Which means that the conditions need to be just right. In other words, there may be some wind, some clouds, some rain, or even some storms. (Or, there may be lots!)

Our challenge in all of this is to appreciate the calm, peaceful days that allow us to relax and simply enjoy life. And then expect that life will bring problems our way, while also recognizing that problems bring growth and blessings.
Remember, Jesus told us that we will face troubles in this world. The good news is that He also assured us that He already overcome all of them.

Blue-sky days are great; but, truthfully, kite flying days are even better.

Keep looking for God in the midst of the challenging days, my Friend. He is there and He is working in and through you to bring about His very best!

Aren't you thrilled to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE?

He is SO good,