Monday, June 9, 2014

hello there

Hello there.  Well, I just fell off for a bit.  No excuses.  Except very, very sleepy.  Still sleepy but I want to keep up a tiny bit with our pictures and happenings so here is a burst for you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

and on today we did this...

I am to full up to put anything into words.  So here is a link for ya of the day we met our sweet Paulina Katherine, one year ago today.  Such joy.

Meeting Our Sweetie

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

a year ago today

Exactly one year ago today, we walked into an appointment with the SDA of Ukraine, listened to a vast amount of Russian spoken between our facilitator and the ministry official, and then we were dealt a heart crushing blow when told we could not adopt Paulina, and should just go home.  

"In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water

    that he channels toward all who please him."

Proverbs 21:1

Within 48 hours, God did what only He can do.  He changed the hearts and minds of men.  He worked a miracle.  And He forever changed our lives.
Upon being asked by the king what god would rescue them when he threw them into the fire,
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Daniel 3:16-18

This time in our lives is hardly expressible to us.  It fills up the deepest parts of us.  Our walks with Jesus, our faith, our love for Paulina.   It is just too much to speak into words.  We are beyond thankful for our God who gave us such a beautiful gift.  

For more of our time in Ukraine, check out the Paulina page and follow those links.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

one very beautiful little word

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
     ruin and misery mark their ways,
 and the way of peace they do not know.”
     There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.


But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunishedhe did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:11-26

what a very beautiful little word.  
We are the "not even one".  we are the ones who "turned away".  We know no way of peace and we have no fear of God.  

God has made His righteousness known; freely justified us through faith.  Jesus has has redeemed our lives from the pit.    
from death to life.  despair to hope.  slavery to freedom.  darkness to light.

He is so, so good.  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

as the darkness settles in

As I sit, the thunder is booming and the rain is coming.  Darkness settles over us for the night and all things in our home slow to a stop.  I have spent these days of Lent in the Gospel accounts of the last week of the life of Jesus.  It is weighty and glorious wrapped together as one and, if I am honest, I don't always know what to do with it all.  Luke tells us, as Christ drew His final breath:

"darkness came over the whole land...for the sun stopped shining"

I know what comes next.  Yet I think I will sit here for a bit, with no sun, just darkness.  I will draw as near as I can to Jesus in His suffering, longing to know Him more, longing to love Him more, longing to be filled more deeply by my Savior who has mostly amazingly redeemed my soul.  

He is so, so good.

Monday, April 7, 2014

ladies, let's all look up and smile at one another

Have you (and I know you have) ever been walking through the grocery store, the hallways of church, the school parking lot, and seen someone you know and done one of the following: 

1. Lower your head and pretend you didn't see them?
2. Find their gaze and still act as if you don't know them?

I know the answer is yes.  Why in the world do we do this?  Are we all just really mean people?  Must this mean that we are actually really more important than the one we pass by?  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say a big no.  Instead, let me offer my personal experience reasons.  Why do we do this?  Fear and insecurity.  Generally 1,000 thoughts/concerns/comments/questions run through my mind in this situation.  I'm sure she doesn't remember me, I'm not cool enough to say hello, she surely doesn't want to speak to me, I look a mess, I'm terrible at small talk, she has better people to be friends with, I just don't make the cut.  And on.  And on.  I'm afraid.  Like crazy. 
I believe I'm not important enough to be remembered and I'm so insecure that I won't allow myself to find out if it is true.  

I just spent the weekend with some incredibly lovely ladies from my church and I had such a sweet time with the group in my cabin discussing and sharing our hearts on what comparison and criticism does to us.  It paralyzes us.  Comparison paralyzes.  When the truth is we are all women, in need of and seeking the same Jesus, longing to get rid of sins and find ourselves more in obedient step with God.  And we could use each other.  I mean we really need each other.    We are not chained to the lies that Satan sneaks into our thoughts.  We have been set free.  Let's call the lie by name and fight it.  For the sake of the gospel and the glory of God and for the edification and beauty of the community of women God has given each of us.  

This here just scratches the surface but for now let me encourage this among us women...

Let's all look up and smile at one another.  

Speak by name.  Lift your arms to embrace, your words to encourage and prayer, and your joy to fight off the lies that entangle each one of us.  You, my friends, are worth it to me.  Let's consider the value of one another and walk with our heads high and our hearts open.  I commit to remembering you, knowing you, and covering you with the love of Christ in me.  

Will you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

some Scripture for this week

"The Son is the image of the invisible God, 
the firstborn over all creation. 
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant."
Colossians 1:15-23

This is the Gospel.  It's sometimes grips me in ways that are too deep for words.  He has made me holy.  Taken me from death and freed me from all accusation.  He has reconciled me.  I'm sitting here for the week, dwelling in this truth and letting it wash over me.  Who He is, who I am, what He has done, and who I am in Him.  He draws me to worship, He is so so good.

Monday, March 31, 2014

sometimes I eat ice cream for dinner...

and I think that's an okay thing to do.

Let me tell you why.


This word that floats in and out of our mouths all the time.  We all know what it means.  And yet it is this weird thing to me.  It is supposed to mean "a short period of time that will end soon so power on sista" but really life is just one short time that runs into the next short time that runs in to the next short time and so on and so on.

Does that mean I am always needing to power through?

I hope not.  I don't want to just make it through a season, tough it out, look for the light at the end of the season, hold on tightly because it goes by so fast, or any of those other phrases I've been told and told to others as an attempt at encouragement.

I think this phrase, just a season, can become an excuse and escape.  Factually, it's probably true.  Whatever life you are in right now is just a season.  But the implications that come with saying that need to be fought out of our minds.  Saying it isn't usually encouraging.  It's more like a conversation stopper.  It is like saying just sit and deal the best you can until it blows by.  That's sounds rough so good luck friend and all I can offer you is this, "it's just a season."

Who walks away from that feeling lifted up?

Dwelling on things just being a season makes me think drowning and feeling negative is the right thing to feel because, after all, it is my season.  Not reading the Word, losing patience with my kids, making no time for date's just a season.  This is such a huge misguided statement!  I need someone who will look me in the eye and tell me that my frustration is actually sin.  My impatience with my kids isn't excusable because it's a tough season.  My lack of getting in the Word isn't justified because I'm tired.  I need to be pointed to Jesus.  Pushed to Him and away from me.

We do live in seasons.  Seasons of rest, frustration, peace, child-bearing, no sleep, no exercise, child-raising, loving our spouses...and on and on.  Let me make this suggestion:  Live in your life.  Not outside of it, not in working toward getting to greener grasses, not in longing for something different.  I have a friend who says the grass is only greener where it is watered.

So water your own grass.

Long for more of Jesus in your day, not more of Him once you get through {fill in the blank}.  Pursue patience now.  Get in the Word now.  Fight for your marriage now.  This season will only be followed by another.  And every one you walk through without Jesus will leave you weaker for the next.  Find what works best for you but also push yourself.  If you know you process and grow through writing out your thoughts then make some time.  If you know God's Word is never crossing your mind as you parent then get it posted on your mirrors, fridge, computer screen, iphone.  If quality time with a couple of girlfriends pushes you to more prayer or encourages your week then seek it out.  You can do this.  It's not a season.  It's your life, your walk with Jesus, your example to your children.  Take deep breaths.  Don't let your season drown you.  God is so much bigger.  He has so much more.  His promises are for right now.  Hold dearly to Jesus.  And remember,

It's not about me.

He is so much more.

A few months after we came home with Paulina I was dragging hard.  I was tired, eating badly, not exercising, never getting in time with Jesus, and I was feeling low.  I knew something had to change.  For me it was getting up early, plugging my head phones in to some All Sons & Daughters, and hitting the sidewalks for some much needed exercise.  Now it is cutting out TV shows and using my kids rest time to eat something healthy and read or journal and meeting weekly with some seriously great women who lift me up.

Back to my first statement.  Sometimes I eat ice cream for dinner.  Yes, I do.  And yes, it is usually at the end of a a full and exhausting day.  I'm okay with this because neither the day nor the bowl of ice cream can defeat or sink me.  I can do that all by myself.  Give me a day where I never seek Jesus and I'm out.  So if my life calls for ice cream I will eat it.  If it calls for tears then I will cry.  Laughter?  Accountability?  Prayer?  These are the things I will do as I live my life day in and day out.

Watering my own grass and finding less of me, more of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

who do you say I am?

"Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” he asked. 
“Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”

Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Luke 9:18-22

Who do you say I am?

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, 
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:67-69

Who do you say I am?

Monday, March 24, 2014

because these ones are the "ministry" I do

Day in & day out these littles (& bigs) bring joy, pain, stretching, growing encouragement, tears and laughter like no one else in my life.  Love them like crazy.

 Ren & much laughter and love with these two!

 Father Daughter Dance 2014
And yes, I let them dress and do their own hair.

As I talked with Madeline's teacher at the start of spring break, and she told me all four of her kiddos were off on different trips, I decided to squeeze in extra tight this crazy week and embrace the good chaos of all being together.    

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"here I am, starving to death"

In the parable of the lost son there is a moment when the younger son says,
"here I am, starving to death"
Luke 15:17

I read this passage yesterday and couldn't get over that thought.  Here I am, starving to death.  This son had known and lived in the fullness of his father's household.  Yet here he was, dying.  In Mark's account of the time Jesus spent praying in the garden before His death Jesus finds His disciples, whom He had asked to watch and pray, sleeping and speechless.  

"They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. 
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"" Mark 14:32-42

I am overwhelmed by this truth as it hits hard right in my inner being.  I am weak and needy and God has provided in full.  Yet I fall asleep instead of drawing near Him, I die hungry and thirsty sitting in sins He has removed from me.  Some days it is me looking for approval and affirmation by comparing myself to other mamas out there.  Or other days it is me longing for more Jesus but making no time or effort to meet with Him.  Why do I hold on to the life of the flesh?  Why do I starve myself and fall asleep in His presence?  Because I see me more than I see my Rescuer.  I trust me more than Him.  It's not outright and we are tempted to say we are trying to trust Jesus more or something like that but truly it's sin and I believe we should call it that.  My spirit may be willing, but my flesh is so weak.  In my pride and self-centered state I miss this giant truth of God:  

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” ― Timothy KellerThe Meaning of Marriage

It's all about Jesus.
Remove me from me, Lord!  Always this is what I need.  More of Him, less of me.  

It's not about me.

He is so much more. 

I will leave you with this LaCrae song that is a fav in our household.  Enjoy.

"dying of thirst, yet, willing to die thirsty"

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

do as I have done

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. Lewis

There is so much packed into these following Scriptures.  Rather than any ridiculous attempt at delving into them, I have one little focus point that I can't get away from.  

In humility follow Jesus.  

That's it.  He has set an example, given His life.  Loved us to the full extent.  And asked us to follow Him.  We can become consumed in trying so hard to "figure it out" that we miss Him completely.  We are seeking understanding, clarity, a guarantee, great insight, writing in the sky.  When He has given us the example already of how to follow His will in our lives.  Take on humility, die to yourself, become a servant of all.  

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant"
Philippians 2:3-7

I generally want to make more of myself than nothing.  I want to be known, understood, seen, valued.  I mask this desire with spiritual cover ups saying I know I need that to come from Christ but sadly I'm still searching for it from the world more than I am finding it in Jesus.  

But praise the Lord that He doesn't quit on me.  He is reminding me daily it seems of these two great truths:

It's not about me
He is so much more.

As I read through the washing of the disciples feet, I'm praying for a heart, mind, and active life that lives in light of the example of my Savior.  Giving my all for the glory of God.   
"It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him,and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 

Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
John 13:1-17

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lent Devotions with LIttles

As we prepare ourselves for Easter we attempt to walk our whole family through Lent devotions.  This year we are using the Hands On Bible for pre-schoolers.  We have family night on Wednesday nights so we add our Lent devo's into these nights and then read through these 6 stories throughout the week.  

Hands On Bible
1. Jesus Rides A Donkey; Mark 11:1-11
2. Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet; John 13:1-17
3. The Last Supper, Matthew 26:17-30
4. Jesus Prays in the Garden; Mark 14:32-42
5. Jesus Dies on a Cross; Mark 15
6. Jesus Comes Back to Life; Luke 24:1-12

For our Lent devotions we focus each week on a verse, some words to understand, and some ideas to talk through.  We've done this same thing for several years but still feel it fits with our kiddos ages and understanding.  We also choose a song to teach them and talk through.  This year we are learning Hallelujah! What a Savior.  

Week of Sunday, March 9th
Memory Verse: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5
Words to Know: Light, Darkness
Ideas: Jesus is the light, hiding

Week of Sunday, March 16th
Memory Verse: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5
Words to Know: Sin, Holy
Ideas: Holy/sin (Clean vs. Dirty)

Week of Sunday, March 23rd
Memory Verse: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Words to Know: Remembrance, Repentance
Ideas: Last Supper

Week of Sunday, March 30th
Memory Verse: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Words to Know: Crucifixion, Sacrifice
Ideas: Death, Suffering, Christ’s Sacrifice/Punishment

Week of Sunday, April 6th
Memory Verse: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live & not  die.” John 11:25
Words to Know: Forgiveness, Resurrection
Idea: Crucifixion/Resurrection, Death/Life
Week of Sunday, April 13th-Palm Sunday
Memory Verse: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live and not  die.” John 11:25
Words to Know: Salvation
Ideas: Salvation/Redemption, Savior/Rescuer
Thursday, April 17th-Maundy Thursday
Words to Know: Remembrance, Repentance
Ideas: Last Supper

Friday, April 18th--Good Friday
Words to Know: Crucifixion, Sacrifice
Ideas: Death, Suffering, Christ’s Sacrifice/Punishment

Sunday, April 20th-Easter
Memory Verse: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live & not  die.” John 11:25
Words to Know: Forgiveness, Resurrection
Idea: Crucifixion/Resurrection, Death/Life, Rejoice