Friday, September 11, 2009

thirsty

"For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."
Psalm 107:9


My family has been going non-stop for the past several weeks. Granted, it's all been good stuff—getting ready for the new school year, Geoff walking in the Portland to Coast, getting ready for our annual camping trip, enjoying a week camping up at Mt. Hood, getting our referral, unpacking from camping (endless laundry!), Geoff's been busy completing lots of great household projects, more school prep and now our first week of school. Sigh.

I'm tired. No—I'm downright exhausted. And thirsty.

I realized yesterday that although I have still been taking the time to spend with the Lord, I haven't been totally present with Him. Most mornings my brain isn't even functioning yet. :-)

There are definitely things that I can do to remedy that situation (i.e., slow down, plan better in the future.) However, I also think I need to allow God's grace to fill me with His peace. As I allow my body, mind and spirit to rest in His goodness and love, I'll find myself in the place of receiving all that He has for me. It is then that my thirst (and hunger) will be satisfied.

Now, to allow myself to stop and surrender. Somehow the thought of surrender seem so much harder than the actual act of surrender.

How's your week been, my Friend? Have you been going nonstop like myself? If so, I pray that you too will find that perfect place of surrender. May we both slow down enough to be able to rest in His love and receive the abundant blessings He has for us.

Slowing down and LIVING A BLESSED LIFE in Christ!

Side note: Thought I would share some more of our pics from camping. Geoff shared his kayak with the kids and myself—which made for some fun solo adventures for each of us. I was so proud of my kiddos for overcoming their intense fear of water! Even Sara ventured in past her ankles and braved the water all the way up to her neck! (Proud Mama.)

Ready to take a big drink of His goodness,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

school's in!


"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults,
and forgive anyone who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you,
so you must forgive others.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.

And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
to God with thankful hearts.
And whatever you do or say,
do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:12—17 (NLT)

A couple of nights ago, two of our children started to argue during dinner time. Geoff looked at me, put down his taco and told me he needed to go grab his Bible.

He then went on to read the above verses from Colossians. He shared that he had read those verses the day before and realized that was the kind of family he desired we be.

Granted, the verses were more than convicting for our two squabbling kiddos, but they hit home for me. As soon as I heard the hurtful words being spoken, I became frustrated and disappointed in their attitudes—again. Hearing God's Word spoken out loud convicted my own heart for it's stinky attitude.

The next day I felt led to read the verses again in my own Bible. Wouldn't you know that I had that very section highlighted. Above it, I had written "Ivey Family Guidelines." Ah, God's Spirit had spoken the very same message to both Geoff and myself, only months a part.

I love how God works. Clearly, He wasn't able to get my attention the first time, so He repeated His message through my husband. I think both Geoff and I appreciated knowing that God was speaking the same message to both of us.

And so, we pray. We ask God to begin doing a deeper work within each of our hearts. We pray that He would help us to truly honor and love each other in our actions and words. We have a long ways to go, but God is faithful!

Our family started our new year of homeschool today. My brain is mush and my children are completely exhausted. It was a hard but good day overall.

Sara started Kindergarten—a year early. Liam's learning struggles from years past seem to be behind him, allowing him to jump back up to the 3rd grade. And Chelsea, she's moving right along and started the 6th grade.

We're not quite sure where "M" will fit into the mix, but look forward to helping him learn English and acclimate to life in the US.

I love watching each of my children grow and learn. They are each so very unique and bring such different gifts to our family. We are so proud of each of our children and thankful for all they teach us.

I pray your week has been full of God's abundant blessings. May He continue to draw you ever closer to Him and shower you with His love, grace, joy and peace. You are loved!

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE and looking forward to the year ahead!

Tired but joyful,



Monday, September 7, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado


Stop. Before you read any further, take a moment and think of two or three areas in your life that you struggle with.

Is it possible that at the very core of those issues you'll find fear? I know for myself, the answer was surprisingly "yes."

Thomas Nelson sent me an advance copy of Max Lucado's newest release Fearless—Imagine Your Life Without Fear, which just hit the stores today. In it, Max addresses 13 different types of fear (i.e., the fear of not mattering, the fear that God is not real and the fear of not protecting my kids.) He digs in deep, sharing personal stories and examples from Scripture.

Before I go further, I need to first confess that although I am actually a tough critic, I'm also a huge fan of all things Max Lucado. Fiction, non-fiction, Bible studies and children's movies.

I have yet to find one of his works that has left me disappointed—Fearless was no exception.

One of the things I enjoy the most about Max's writing style is his ability to make Scripture come alive with rich detail. He writes eloquently, but in a simple manner than allows the information to be easily processed. The real life examples shared throughout the book invite readers in from all walks of life.

The only things missing from this book were pride, judgement and condemnation. And, that, my Friend, is a very good thing!

For myself, I enjoyed reading the entire book. However, the chapters that related to the areas of fear that I personally struggle were definitely the most powerful.

I felt inspired as I read the book to take a closer look at how fear has been controlling my life and stealing many of the great things God desires to do in and through me.

I look forward to spending some additional time working through the Discussion Guide included at the end of the book. (The three parts of each lesson are Examining Fear, Exposing Fear and Battling Fear.)

Fearless left me hungry for more of God. For that reason alone, it is my privilege to recommend this book to you. If there are areas in your life that you long to have victory over, I trust that God will use this book to bring awareness, healing and freedom to you.

For more information about this powerful book, I encourage you to check out these links:

The Fearless Times

Thomas Nelson: Fearless

No Fear Year Devotional Challenge

60 Second Video Intro by Max Lucado

My desire is to continue LIVING A BLESSED LIFE—fear is the only thing standing in my way!

With grace & JOY,


joy & sorrow

"For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

"A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance."
Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NLT)

The long-awaited call came early Monday afternoon. We had been anticipating it since we first saw his face in nine months ago.

Our official referral call!!!

Of all the places to be, we were up at Mt. Hood starting our annual camping trip with our very good friends, the Ponds.

I heard Geoff talking on the phone and literally went flying out of the tent (OK, tripping!) so I could hear the good news myself. (Thanks, Jessica, for repeating the news for me!)

We received our new son's file soon after the call via email and learned a few fun surprises. (The one and only time I have been thankful for Geoff's Blackberry!)

The first is that once we successfully pass court in Ethiopia, we will be the proud parents of TWO eight-year-old boys! Yup. It appears that our new son isn't a year younger than Liam. He's a few weeks older!

We were a bit worried at first, but Liam assured us that he truly just wants his brother and it doesn't matter who is older. (Oh, I love that boy!)

The other fun thing we learned is that our Ethiopian son is described as being "very active, friendly, sociable and funny." Did I say twins?!? Yup. We have often used those very same words to describe Liam.

As I've shared previously, both boys have similar facial structures and expressions. Granted their hair color and skin tone are very different, but somehow, they both resemble each other.

Only God can take two children half-a-world apart and create them to be so similar, yet unique in their own beautiful ways!

We are in awe of how wonderfully He works through the smallest of details. I absolutely cannot wait to see all four of our children together.

We returned from our camping trip to an email full of photos of our new son...M*****! As well as two DVDs. :-)

The first was from back in February when he learned that we desired to adopt him. The second was from June when our care package finally arrived. We were able to hear his sweet voice talking to us and watch him while he saw photos of our family for the very first time. Incredible.

You'll have to believe me that he has an absolutely beautiful smile. Oh, and very long eyelashes.

We were all so excited to watch the DVDs that we didn't even bother to unpack or shower. Our hearts were so full of joy as we got a glimpse of our precious boy.

After watching the DVDs twice, we decided to open the rest of our mail. In it, Chelsea had received a letter from Tengetile, our precious 10 year-old Swazi 'daughter.' We have sponsored her through World Vision since she was three.

Tengetile had handwritten a sweet note of thanks for our sponsorship in English, sharing some of the benefits she has received. She also decorated the page in colorful, hand drawn flowers.

I read her note over Chelsea's shoulder, smiling. It has been such a joy to watch this sweet girl grow over the years.

My joy was quickly ended when I heart Chelsea gasp and say, "Oh no."

She pointed to a note at the very bottom of the page written in a different person's handwriting. The note read:

"Tengetile is now an orphan. She has lost her father."

I cannot even begin to describe the utter grief and sorrow we are all feeling on behalf of our precious little girl in Swaziland. We have prayed for her every single night as a family for the past 7 years.

One moment, we were rejoicing over our new son and the next minute we were reeling in the devastating loss that our Sweet Tengetile has experienced.

Sheer joy and extreme sorrow. One child no longer an orphan, another now an orphan.

Sometimes life just really stinks.

And yet, God is still God. And, God is still good.

"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 1:21b (NASB)

The more I learn, truly, the less I know.

The one thing I am sure of, however, is that it is possible to hold both joy and grief in tandem.

More importantly, I am absolutely certain that God's promises hold true.

He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Nor will He forsake Tengetile.)
Despite the losses and pain life brings our way, God will use them for our good and not our harm.

His goodness always prevails. His love never fails.

Wherever God has you today, I pray that you know how very much He loves you.

The joys in life are meant to be fully enjoyed. The sorrow God allows always results in growth.

Don't give up or give in, my Friend. New life is just around the corner. I promise!

Today I am thankful for the joy God has granted in our family through M***** and I am trusting Him to bring healing and new life to beautiful Tengetile.

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE means embracing both the joys and sorrows.

Abundantly blessed,