Category Archives: Pot of Omar/Remembrance Stones

Set Apart

WARNING: This is more of a shot gun rant than anything.  Yeah, it’s that kind of day.

The Wednesday night time slot has LONG been abandoned by the church.  When I was a kid, that was what my folks wrestled over – ball practices & boy scout meetings on Wednesday nights vs. prayer/kids club.  Today, it’s Sunday mornings, and to my sadness, I don’t really even see a whole lot of church folk wrestling over it or challenging each other on it.

We’ve read the passages about Jesus & the Pharisees butting heads about the Sabbath & have as a Church whole, swung dramatically the other way in the last couple generations.  It is true Jesus condemned the religious rulers of His day for getting so caught up in Sabbath rules they put that above loving people.  Those Pharisees knew what God said in the OT!  And they took God seriously.  They got off track.  That is very true.  They missed the Messiah when He was right under their noses.  All that being said, I don’t think we’re in danger of over doing the Sabbath rules any time soon, do you?

This has been circulating around facebook the last few weeks.  Two words: Eric Liddell.  True, his decision didn’t effect a team; he switched his own personal races.  But his whole country had sent him to race!  Talk about pressure.  Obviously, his stand has been used for God’s glory & to get the attention of His people even almost a century later.  Here we sit these days contemplating how to “take back Sunday” from sports.   Why not just do it?  The world never took it; if you don’t have it, you gave it away.  Now it’s time for God’s people to simply honor God’s Day, gather with His people, be committed to that, & let chips fall where they may.  How hard is that?  After all, it’s not like we’ve yet shed blood here over it… (Hebrews 12:4)

Can I give you a small personal example from my life of honoring the Sabbath & God answering my prayer in it?  When I was in college, I moved to Marion for my last year to live with my grandparents.  (PRECIOUS memories, btw.  Wouldn’t trade that year for anything.  Highly recommend it!  And at the time, many kind of felt sorry for me that I had to “stay home” for my degree.  No need to feel sorry for what God blessed me with people!  Just saying.)  Anyway, I needed to get a job, so put in my application at two restaurants & one grocery store.  I was looking for a job where I didn’t have to serve alcohol or work on Sundays.  On Wednesday night, I shared this request with the prayer group at church.  Mind you, it was me, Pastor, and about 15 elderly in attendance as usual (in a church that had around 300 on the roll).  I was shocked by their response!  They shook their heads, patted my shoulder, & acted like I was soooo naive to think that could happen.   (Really, my naivety was in not understanding these people who had walked with the Lord for so many years could be so spiritually crusty – haven’t they seen God do even greater??)  But I was committed & prayed.  Within a week or so (can’t remember exactly, but I know I didn’t miss any income!), I had a job at the grocery store & praised the Lord at the small group.  They were stunned.  Within a few months, I was scheduled for a Sunday even though I had clearly told boss I couldn’t. I went to him as soon as the schedule came out & told him I couldn’t work for pay on Sunday so would fill the position since I didn’t want to mess anyone else up, but couldn’t do it for pay.  He didn’t know what to do with that.  I got switched & he never tried that again.  Again, the small prayer group watched in shock that God answered my prayer on all this.

Six months later, I got a waitress position & again, said I could work every Friday & Saturday but never on Sunday.  (Worked out GREAT for me – best tip nights!)  Nobody else wanted to work both weekend evenings so I always got them & it was never a problem.  I believe God WANTS to prove Himself in just these kinds of moments!  (Think Daniel & the lion’s den, Shadrach & friends, etc.)  I believe He GIVES us these moments.  Too often, we fail because we are too afraid of looking different, standing against the crowds, etc.

News flash: We are CALLED out of darkness.  We are set apart!  (1 Peter 2:9 – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”)  These “resolves” are what it means to be a “peculiar people”.  It is exciting!  It is a little risky.  Sometimes it’s a lot risky.  We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to lead in each unique situation.  It looks different for each person.  That makes it hard to teach or talk about.  One family may feel led to never go out to eat or shop or even buy gas on Sundays – to do so causes others to have to work on a day they wouldn’t dare.  Another family may feel it best to take an electronic fast to set the day apart.  Or maybe even a food fast (vs. fast food!) on that day.  Or making simple meals to minimize food prep.  Some have used the Sabbath principle to start the night before – setting aside sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.  To impose each other’s leadings/leanings on another is Pharisaical.  We want to love, love, love, love, LOVE, not divide & put each other under man made laws.

But I do want to challenge each family who loves the Lord to really wrestle with & pray about what God is calling them to do about this issue, and may I suggest you start with Hebrews 10:24 & 25.  Have you noticed how MANY times God talks about setting the Sabbath apart in the OT?  It is perhaps the most mentioned commandment.  And He is serious about it!  There are blessings & curses associated with honoring it or not.  (See a few links here if you’re interested.)  It was & is a pretty obvious way God assigned His people to be different.  Other nations worked for their own gain all week.  They didn’t give a thought to what God said to do or how to live.  We, God’s people, are supposed to be different here.  (Ezekiel 20:19-21 – “I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules,and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths.”)

I hear you…  “That’s Old Testament” you say.  “We’re under grace so get out of my face!” you say.  “The Sabbath was Saturday & we celebrate on Sundays now” you say.  Okay.  SO DO IT.  Celebrate Sundays.  SET THEM APART.  Make them holy.  Whatever that means for you & your family.  DO IT.  Stop twisting into pretzels with excuses as to why you’re out there & not in church on Sunday mornings.  Stop so easily giving in to the world’s squeeze on making it just like any other day.  Stop using Colossians 2:16 as a crutch & add a little Hebrews 13:8 & Malachi 3:6 in there.  Let this be the year you commit to setting God’s Day apart & see what He does with it.  “If MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY name… THEN I will heal your land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)   I know this is talking about prayer, but it applies in that it speaks of God’s people getting their act together THEN God heals lands.  (Don’t even get me started on the current state of (way too often anemic) prayer meetings in the American Church these days.)  I’m praying this is the year the American Church gets real about holiness; gets out of the muck & gets set apart as intended.

Imagine an American Church Body that looks different, is set apart, holy.  May it be so, Lord!  The world’s waiting…

10, 9, 8…

We’re all geared up & almost ready to hit the road with Burton Reading next week. (We’re testing the site tomorrow night, so if you click the link before March 1, 2011 won’t see much but the promo. We don’t want to go public until all the kinks are worked out.)

Yesterday at lunch, Keith & I talked with the kids about all the ways God is showing Himself HERE in all this. So, thought I’d list some of these so we will remember. I do not want to forget next month all these little ways where God reminded us He’s got it handled. I don’t want the kids to forget. These are the exact things you look back on over the years & say, yep, God can be trusted. He is here. He is with us. God wants us to remember. He told His people to put up memorial stones, have annual feasts, TELL their children. So here’s the start of a list…

We had a mix up with the schedule & flights at one point. It looked like one of us would have to fly separately or have a bad situation back home or have to pay $600 to change things – no good options. We prayed not having any good choices, but trusting God to have one. And He did! The conflicting appointment ended up getting cancelled with no repercussions. God worked that all out & in fact, He worked it out BETTER than if we hadn’t had the mix up. God knew what we needed & even worked through a “mistake” to get us all on the same flight, the day before conferences start, etc. We can trust Him to work through even our mistakes, forgetfulness, etc. if we are doing our best before Him.

Yesterday, we found out some interesting information about these “big four” homeschool conferences we will soon be attending. Keith & I checked into conventions last fall thinking we should start looking at what’s out there & how to get Mom in to speak, get a booth, etc. The only conference we’d attended was CHEO, once like ten years ago & again last spring. We had noticed that CHEO was about half the size the second time we were there, but thought perhaps it was because the online academies were skimming off families? Just a guess. Well, when we got on to explore what other conventions were going on around this area, the big four popped up right away & we got excited. No wonder CHEO shrunk! They’ve made these conventions a circuit now! How clever! Well, NOW we know this is the first year for them doing that, however Cincinnati has had the largest convention in the country & it started up five years ago. We also didn’t know until the other day, when we scanned the exhibit hall to check out our booth number, etc. that Greenville is in it’s first year & it’s already rivaling Cincinnati. In fact, three out of the four conventions in “the big four” are just starting this year, but they are already very popular. Wow. I can hardly wait to check them out. AND see how they grow in the next few years. Exciting!! And it was just perfect timing for us to get in on it all – both for four conventions as well as checking into all of it just in time to squeak in as a presenter & exhibitor.

Mom DOES finish projects for church well (VBS, cantatas, SS programs, etc) and she has always been a top notch teacher (other teachers would scrounge around in her trash can to use sheets over & over that she’d just thought up, used, & pitched) but NEVER has she ever gotten these genius works WRITTEN DOWN so others could use them. So this whole project in my book is really nothing short of a miracle. The fact we’ve got Mom’s expertise in writing for keeps… well, it’s a first! And we all couldn’t be more thrilled. Including herself!

Since we’re on Mom, she has a propensity toward chest colds. Every winter she gets one, and it usually lasts longer than anyone else’s does. Here we sit on the verge of March, on a winter when EVERYONE in the extended family has been slammed with an unusually high volume of coughs, fever, runny noses, and yet Mom has so far been unscathed. KEEP PRAYING. This most certainly is a miracle. She has not avoided sick family members, etc. & still is healthy. We need her to STAY healthy through these conferences. We would appreciate prayers on her behalf in that area.

These are just a few ways God is showing Himself in this project. I’ll try to write them down as they continue to show up these days. I’m planning on blogging here & there throughout the conference months to keep people up to date on any fun tidbits, stories, people we’ve met, etc. so if you’re interested in hearing, hop on here. I’ll probably put more pictures on facebook, but will try to throw some on here for those of you who aren’t on fb. Pray for us as we head out on this adventure. Can’t wait to see what God’s got in mind for all this. So far, it’s all good. : ]

Pray, Then Watch What He Does!

I really don’t know why I’m so surprised. Lately I’ve been asking God to really soften my heart; send revival to ME first, then our family, church, area, country. If you haven’t heard, the Christian radio broadcasters have been calling for a concentrated 40 days of prayer for revival. I’d been kind of putzing with that prayer myself for the last few months, so hopped on to their website for Scripture, inspiration, daily emails, etc. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been doing some excellent podcasts on revival & prayer these days! Family Life Today has had some great ones on prayer as well. So, all that in & of itself has been an answer to my prayers.

Now He’s broadening things…

I heard my little boy getting himself ready this morning (he didn’t know I heard), softly singing his own new song to the Lord, “Jesus! You are holy. I love You. I lo-oo-o-o-ove You! Holy! Holy! You are great. You are good…” Some of you know how he’s been struggling to “get motivated” in the mornings for school. There were tears rolling down his cheeks even yet today as he crawled into the van. But he started his day with a new praise song offering to the Lord. In spite of his sadness at it being a school day. : ] I love it when my children challenge me! It also made me think about the songs we’re teaching him. When I was a kid & wanted to sing to the Lord, (& even now) hymns were usually what came out of my mouth. A lot of the worship & even kids’ songs these days aren’t real singable without a background band or tape. We’ve GOT to give our children songs they can sing alone if we hope to have them do it whenever! (Don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else, but it was something that came to mind & I tried to get it down so I’ll remember.)

My daughter has brought up several times the last few weeks/months her concern for sharing Jesus with others & the fact she’s never gotten to lead anyone to the Lord yet. This is really bothering her. She knows it’s a great thing & she doesn’t want to miss out! I keep telling her it’s not really her that does it, but the Holy Spirit drawing people to Himself. We just need to be ready to tell others about Him when the opportunity comes up, not force the subject in awkwardly. This whole thing was talked about yet again Sunday night with our session on Elisha. We were reviewing last week’s talk on Naaman & the little girl who shared what she knew with him – there’s a man of God in Israel who can heal him. This led to Naaman getting healed, declaring the God of Israel THE God, & taking all that back to Syria for others to hear. Now this week, Elisha prayed his servant would be able to see the great army surrounding & protecting them (2 Kings 6:8-7:20), one of my top five favorite Bible stories. Callie is a bit frustrated with Elisha being able to see while his servant could not. She wants to see those things, too! How cmoe some can see & others can’t? She also wants to tell others like the little girl. She wants to be used by God to do great things. She wants it all spiritually! YOU GO, GIRL!!!! What can I say?? I want it, too! But it’s been a while since I’ve had that zeal. I guess God’s answering her prayer even now by using her to stir me!

We talked about how when we go to the store, the library, etc. we are lights in a dark world at times without even knowing it. When we go out to eat & stop to pray, we have suddenly told everyone around us that we are Christians & they are watching. How does a Christian brother & sister talk to each other? Differently? How does a Christian man & wife treat each other? Any better? Our job is not to really DO anything differently, but to BE AWARE!! And be ready to share if anyone asks. But so many times, I go into town & just click off the list, never really thinking about the crabby librarian who KNOWS I check out Christian music & books for years so she knows I’m a Christian. Shamefully, instead of praying for her & for a chance to reach out to her in her crabbiness, I’ve in stead been stubbornly taking my stuff to the self check out line in an effort to totally avoid her in fear of my giving her a taste of her own crabby medicine. Is that what Jesus would do? Of course not!! Callie, meanwhile, is busily making a bracelet to wear when we go to town to remind us to pray before we go in anywhere. To remember to keep our eyes open for opportunities to share Jesus with those around us. *gulp* I have a sneaking suspicion God’s going to answer that little heart cry. Stand by for further updates.

I am HUMBLED! That God would listen to my sad little prayer for a softer heart. That God would use my own children to challenge me. These little ones whom I so often worry over whether I’m teaching them all they need to know to follow Christ better than I. The ones I wonder if I’m spiritually equipping them to meet whatever crazy satanic things the future throws at them, etc. I guess they’re catching it in SPITE of my sorry self! Thank You, Lord!! He is so good to me! Nancy Leigh DeMoss gave me a nugget to mull on last week: “If your children’s faith depends on how often they see God answer prayer in your home, how strong will their faith be when they become adults?” I know MY faith is pretty linked to all the many times I saw God answer our prayers in my childhood home.

That leads to yet another area I stand amazed at His work. Our church has what’s called a Great Commission Fund where all the churches in the country of our denomination pool their offerings to send missionaries to tough unreached people groups & this fund totally supports them so they can do their mission without having to mess around with coming home to gather finances. October is a time to promote it a bit more than usual & a special offering is taken. Our family usually study a few missionaries that month, do special missions month activities, etc. & then K & I talk about what we want to set aside, then give the kids opportunities to earn that money so they can turn around & give it; so they can feel like they participated & gave of their own efforts, too. Anyway, we mentioned that it’s that time of year again in the van on the way home Sunday, so we thought we should review the year & talk about what we want to give to close out the year, etc. I just got done “looking over the books”. I really hadn’t added up what we’ve given this year, but when I did I was blown away. We have been able to give more this year than ever in spite of the lousy economy, higher prices for things, etc. & our savings is as big as ever! We just can’t out give God!! I shake my head, really not understanding, but thinking back, we haven’t had many outside extra expenses this year. Not to say that when financial storms come, they are punishment or anything, but I just have to praise the Lord on this one. Instead of pouring money into our vans or whatever, we’ve had the joy of giving to our brother & sisters’ needs – thank You, Lord!! It’s so fun! And He has been so good to us!

I write these down as a journal, testament, remembrance for myself, our children, whoever needs to hear it today. Hope you don’t mind my ramblings. I just had to share what God’s doing around here! It’s exciting! And I know He’s only just begun – I’ve got a lot to learn & so much more praying to do!

To My Single Friends

I meant to post this before Christmas, but you know how that goes. Anyway, I found this old draft of a letter I’d sent to a friend right after Callie was born (eight years ago). She was feeling down about her singleness & this was what I sent her for encouragement. I know so many friends out there waiting for God’s best. Another holiday of waiting is hard to take! Facing yet another year with that dream still allusive. This is a long post, but I hope it brings encouragement. It’s what I plan on sharing with our children if/when God calls them to wait…

This morning, after our phone conversation, I awoke at 4am & couldn’t sleep. So, I got up, took a hot bath, read Oswald Chambers, & the Lord brought to mind some things I should’ve shared last night but didn’t think of. So, I thought I’d write them down & share them in a letter.

In thinking back to Keith & me, the critical point for me was when I gave him up “as my Isaac”. Let me explain. There was a point when I knew I loved him & was pretty sure he loved me, but he didn’t know it (women usually know before men i find!). This was about the time I had signed up to go teach in Korea & he was all “excited for me”, remember? Well, that Sunday, after wrestling with all this over a very long weekend, I decided to give him up to the Lord. And not just him, but any & all relationships with guys. My heart’s desire was to be married & have/raise godly children, & God knew that – I felt he gave me that desire. But I had to (as Abraham) literally place that whole desire on the alter, give it up to God by walking up front at TRBC that night, & leaving it all on the prayer steps before the Lord. I told Him that I would give Him my dreams of a family & if He chose to give it back to me, great. But if not, I would be happier with Him alone! And I had to really let that dream die. I think at that point, I was able to make the right decisions about Keith – as far as not writing him, totally letting him go & leaving it up to God to bring him back to me if that’s what was best for me & Keith, etc. & not get “mopey”.

It doesn’t end with marriage. God brought me to a similar “test” later – just last year. We got pregnant right away with Nate & I just assumed we’d be able to “control” & “decide” when we had our kids. Boy, did God show me Who’s in control & teach me through this one! (And I’m so glad He’s in control & not me!!) We “decided it was time” for another child in our family when Nate was a year & a half, but God wanted to teach us something about Himself instead. We prayed – no baby. After over a year, I was really sad about it & (of course) everyone around me was having a baby. There was a time I even prayed for twins thinking, “Well, Lord, since there’s this gap here, maybe You could make use of the extra time between kids & ‘double our money’.” : )

Then Keith’s cousin got pregnant with twins! I struggled with that one. The twins were born & I was still not pregnant & very sad. A week later, while taking a meal to a friend who’d just given birth to her 8th baby, I finally came to the end of the struggle. I had to again totally give my dreams to the Lord & say, “Lord, this is not my life, it’s Yours. You are the Master planner & You have a master plan with my best interest in mind. If Your will is for us to raise one child, I will raise that child happily with all my heart. I will not waste any more of the precious time You have blessed me with all sad about something that obviously isn’t best because You haven’t given it to me & if it was for my best, You would give it to me. You know what’s best for all involved & I trust you. Thank You for being trust worthy!” And I left the dream of any more children totally with God, not to worry about it again but to instead rest in Him & thank Him for this time in my life. A week later, the twins were found to have CP & one almost died. That family went through so much. I was able to pray for them a lot through that because I felt a “connection” to them having prayed for twins & all & feeling that if God had let me “have my way”, that could’ve been me sort of thing. They came to mind very often through all that. Anyway, long story longer, a year later (note: we found out Callie was on the way literally the next month after I gave it all to the Lord!) the twins have been healed completelyno sign of CP now – it “disappeared”! We have a beautiful baby girl! And again, I’ve learned Who’s in control & knows best. It was not until I totally died to my dreams & gave them completely to God that my dreams were fulfilled – as with my relationship with Keith. But I couldn’t lay my dreams on the alter to “manipulate” God into giving me my heart’s desire – I had to just die to them & rest/trust in Him PERIOD.

The other part of that was to find JOY in my dead dreams & to really believe this was all for good. This is where real faith comes in. With Keith, it was going & teaching in Korea – pouring my heart into ministry. I did that before I met Keith, too – teaching Sunday School with all my heart, and I loved it. I really miss not being able/having the time to teach SS like that now! I loved it! I really felt God was using me to make a difference in those kids’ lives. With waiting for Callie, it was praying more for others focusedly (is that a word? Cuz I just used it.) Like, praying for pregnant women, for barren couples, for the abortion issue, etc. I am now much more keenly aware of infertile couples & their pain – I was clueless as to that before! Now I can pray with knowledge for them. I can also testify to God’s perfect timing & encourage them (as with you & relationships) that God does have a plan & His timing is perfect – REST in the mean time! Concentrate on your relationship with the Lord through it all. he is bringing these things into your life & using these circumstances in your life to make you into the person He wants you to be, which is where you will be most fulfilled as His child.

Matthew 6:25-33 = “…don’t worry about everyday life…Look at the birds…your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than they are. Can all your worries add to a single moment to your life? Of course not…why worry…if God cares so wonderfully for the flowers that are here today & gone tomorrow, won’t He more surely care for you?… So don’t worry…your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, & He will give you all you need… if you live for Him & make the kingdom of God your primary concern.”

Oswald chambers wrote, “Pay attention to the Source, & out of you will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense & reasoning, & Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in Heaven. Our Father knows our circumstances, & if we will stay focused on him, instead of our circumstances, we will grow spiritually – just as the lilies of the field.”

That really struck me this morning. Isn’t that ultimately what life is all about? We are here to glorify God. PERIOD. God uses life circumstances to shape us into glorifiers (is THAT a word? cuz I just used it!) give us His character so the world may see Him through us & know him. His whole theme throughout the OT & NT & on to Revelation is to “make Himself known”. Psalm 59:13b says, “Then the whole world will know that God reigns…” If I can do that best single, than let it be so, Lord! If I can best do that married, let it be. Best with no children, one child, many children…Your will, not mine! Let me be like Mary & sit at Your feet, learning from You, loving You; rather than getting so caught up in life around me like Martha.

In conclusion, as I was flipping through Psalms to find a verse (they are all over if not looking for them, but not as obvious when you are looking!) about God’s aim of “letting the world know I am God”, these popped out at me & I’ll just list them – you can look them up. I have the NLT which is what I was reading when I found these. Hope they bring the needed encouragement…

Psalm 84:5-7/10-12 Psalm 81:10b/16 Psalm 73:25-28 Psalm 71:5-7 Psalm 66:5,7,9,12b,19,20 Psalm 63:1-8 Psalm 62:1,2,5,8 Psalm 56:3,8,9b Psalm 46:1-3,7,10 Psalm 43:4,5 Psalm 42 Psalm 40:1-3,10,16,17 Psalm 37:3-5,7b,16,18,25,34 Psalm 34:1-19 Psalm 31:5a,14,15a,19,23,24 Psalm 30:5b,11,12 Psalm 27:1,4,8,10,13,14 Psalm 16:2,5,6,8,11 Psalm 4:3,7,8 Psalm 5:3,12

Your sister, Leigh Ann”

2009 Update: The girl I sent this letter to is now married with two sweet boys, God has given us two more children so far, & the twins are still healthy! Saw them over Christmas up in MN – cute. Until I read this letter again, I had totally forgotten they ever had CP. Oh, and God continues to teach me He has a great plan even in the twists & turns. It always turns out better when you lay your plans in His hands!

Also, since writing this to my friend, I’ve found Nancy Leigh DeMoss. If you’re a single woman (or married!), check her stuff out. Run! Really!! She’s that good.

Adoption Day

Keith was adopted by the grace of God when he was three weeks old. I was four weeks from birth myself. He always teases how much older & wiser he is because he’d been in like three different homes through the adoption services before I was even born. I’ll tell the story from two sides: his birth mother, & then his parents’ side.

Keith’s birth mother had never married. This was her second son & she was alone. She knew she couldn’t care for another child, so in an act of great selflessness, put him up for adoption. When Keith was in college, she contacted him for the first time. They’ve met & talked a few times over the years. She said she would have called him Brad. His last name would’ve been Morgan. It’s really strange to think about how different his life could’ve been. When I came into Keith’s life, we invited her to the wedding. She came with her boyfriend (they married soon after us) from Minnesota all the way to Ohio! She stayed in the background; just wanted to be there. Now, anyone could tell she was Keith’s mother – they look exactly alike! They even smile sideways the same way. Since first contact, she’s continued to call Keith’s mom every once in a while & we’ve exchanged Christmas cards a few times, but that’s about it. I do want to share about Keith’s half brother, though. To me, it sheds a floodlight on God’s grace in Keith’s life.

Rob, Keith’s biological half brother, struggled though out life. He got into drugs & the party scene. We never got to meet him because, at age seventeen he killed himself by letting the car run in the garage with the door shut. He audio taped himself as he sat in the car his last minutes. Keith & I listened. He sounds so much like Keith it’s eerie!! He looked like Keith, too, except with dark hair (long in the back in the 80’s fashion) & he was really pasty looking – his eyes looked so empty & sad. He was so utterly lost. My heart breaks even writing it out. I say all this to compare & contrast his story to my husband’s…

Keith’s parents had been married a few years when they started the paperwork to adopt a baby & spent nine months praying for God to give them a child. They got the call & had Keith in their arms within a day. He grew up going to church every Sunday with both sets of grandparents in the pew beside him, along with two generations of aunts, uncles & cousins. At age nine, he gave his heart to Jesus & was baptized. He went on to go to Liberty University (his parents & grandparents had long supported Liberty ministries) where we met. Our lives would both be completely different if Keith had not been adopted.

Every March 10th in our home we celebrate Adoption Day – a practice Keith’s folks started the day they officially adopted him. For me, it’s a day of reflecting again on God’s incredible love for us. To be able to see directly how much it changed Keith’s life to be adopted into a God fearing home vs. Rob who was raised in a single parent home without God, is stunning.

I am so thankful for adoption. It’s a beautiful picture of what God has done for us. We were born into sin. We had a miserable life of pain & foolish pointlessness to look forward to, until Jesus came to bring us hope! Because of Him, we can become sons of GOD!! “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1) That is incredible! We are, when we receive Jesus as Savior & Lord, adopted into God’s family. He is our Father! What a wonderful Father we have in Him. Everything about our lives are changed. Thank God He chose us, for without Him, we are utterly hopeless.

Friendly Reminder

I looked & looked last night. This morning, I looked some more. Nate’s state report & Ohio History test had to be somewhere! Last I saw them, they were in an orange history folder. When Nate got up, I had him search some more. Every place we could think of had been covered already. Where could they be?

The kids went out to play after lunch & while tidying the kitchen, I prayed, “Lord, You know where those things are & I know they didn’t get thrown out, so please help me find them.” No sooner had that been prayed, I turned around, and there, laying on the counter, they were. I had checked the counter but not seen them until now. Granted, they were under one of Callie’s books, but the orange folder was still in plain sight. I don’t think that was coincidence that I overlooked it yesterday & this morning, nor that it was found right after that prayer.

One of the big prayers being repeatedly taken to the Lord right now is wisdom as a parent, especially with Anders. As a home we are working on living out the Fruit of the Spirit, praying for them daily by name. It seems the more you pray for stuff like that, the more you see how painfully far you have to go!

God was reminding me in the search for a folder that He hears every little prayer & cares about what’s going on in each detail of our lives. He walks right beside us on this journey, never missing a thing. Thank You, Lord. I hear You. 🙂

HOPEful Memories

(Note: This was originally posted as private, but now that almost a year has gone by, I post it for the extended family.)

Dad’s passion for the lost…

“Dancing” down the street in overalls & a wheelbarrow full of water bottles, tracts, & a boombox blaring kid’s songs as we invited kids to the park for our outreach/VBS the last summer. He was 60 years old, but lead the pack! We also had whistles & horn blowers – we were trying to get he kids out.:)

Going door to door in the neighborhood Dad grew up in for hours putting flyers on doors telling about our new church, talking to those we could. That is one of my most precious memories with my dad. He took one side of the street & I took the other. His stubby legs could really move! I had to book to keep up with him! He was six footish, but mostly torso. BUT, he’d also been in THE marching band (tbdbitl) & never got over the high step in his walk. We stopped for a cold pop at the gas station when we were almost through for a quick break. Sweet memories of sitting in that beat up old truck, tired but happy, chatting & sipping together.

Dad wearing that bee costume for visitor day. Dad was very particular about his hair, but he was the only one willing to wear that thing that day. Afterwards, we had pizza & he sat getting all the info (name, address, etc.) while his hair was all crazy & didn’t say a word. I know that sounds stupid, but love him for that! If you know Dad, that was his heart right there shining for all to see!

Making the frog voice for the children at the park. He enjoyed children. He & Mom were taking care of the children for us the Wednesday night before he died. There were what, eleven little ones? The oldest was seven & the rest were four & under! But they did it & had great plans for those little ones each week. That last week, the boys were out with Dad in the garage revving up their three-wheeled trikes & Dad had made a track for them, complete with music & a target rigged up for them to hit every time they got up to the top of the little ramp. Dad also took care of the babies the whole last year at church on Wednesday nights for us. What other pastor do you know that does that? He watched five little babies for two hours every Wednesday night while we had Kids Club & prayer meeting to give us time to bond as couples & the older kids to learn.

Years of Dad & Mom leading the VBS. Dad always wearing the crazy wig & getting out the “binoculars” made of two glass pop bottles duct taped together with google eyes on the end.

Prayer meeting held at incredibly early hours for the lost! When I was in high school, Dad started an early morning prayer campaign to reach our church’s neighborhood. For several weeks we met at the church at 6 am if I remember right. It was Mom, Dad, me, my little brothers, an older couple, and one little family with two baby boys. Then there were the church plant early morning prayer meetings. We had to find a time all could meet without running into schedule problems.

The prayer notebooks, earnestly filled out to pray for individual lost all around us & strategically show God’s love to them. Dad was very purposeful & intentional about life.

Christmas caroling in the neighborhoods together, giving out candy canes & Christmas cards to those who had visited our church or come to one of our outings (steak dinner, free movie tickets, movie night at the church, small groups, park VBS, etc.)