Friday, December 10, 2010

My Challenge from Oprah

I'm not usually an avid Oprah watcher, but on occasion I'll watch if I'm home and it sounds interesting to me.  Last night Barbara Walters did a special with Oprah.  I was curious, so Pat and I watched.  For the most part it was a typical "BW Special" interview, and pretty interesting.  There was one moment, however, that made my heart stop.  In a good way!  She said that when she prays, "I ask God to use me until I am used up."

Now I'm not going to go into Oprah's personal spiritual life, but that statement was amazing.  What if we all prayed that statement?  Not just said it like we say other phrases in prayer without even thinking, but really, REALLY meant it?

Can I honestly pray that?  Am I really willing to let God use me up?  Am I willing to give back to Him all the things that He gave me?

Are you?

What if we lived this out?  What if we looked at what we have to offer, small or large, and put those gifts to use?

I am challenged!  I am so glad that I watched and have a new prayer!

Thank you, Oprah!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Busy Month full of Thanks!

 After a somewhat humorously long wait for our Turkey to cook, we did finally sit down for our simple and "small" Thanksgiving Dinner.  It wasn't small in the amount of food, but rather in the amount of company.  We typically gather with friends for this festive day, but we chose to spend the day at home, just us, this year.  Actually it was a "plan b" after we discovered that Salvation Army had enough volunteers to serve their meal.  It was a very laid-back day that we enjoyed thoroughly!  We had no worries about eating Gluten-Free, and no one was put out to fix anything special!  So easy.  It was also the first day that we didn't have freezing rain in a while, so I was also thankful to be able to take a walk with my dogs!  It did begin to snow these extremely wet, slushy snowflakes, and I returned home completely soaked, but it was beautiful and worth it!

We have been extra busy getting ready for our debut Arts and Crafts Fair!  Well, technically, I had done a crafts bazaar a few weeks ago, but this was a very large event with over 165 vendors.
We worked hard to make enough inventory for our Alaska to Africa Project.  We had no idea what kind of goal to set, so we just rolled with it.  God blessed us so much in this project!  We were able to make about 90 pieces to sell and we sold about 75!  We have been able to put all the profits from these sales to Drawn From Water (If you aren't familiar with this organization, please take a look!).  God so blessed us those two days after Thanksgiving!  In all my disdain for "Black Friday" I was thankful for others who took the time to go shop and then purchased with a purpose at our booth!  We were able to raise over $1,500 for DFW, and we still have orders coming in!  Praise God!  Plus, we were able to share about the organization and hopefully bring others into the joy of helping them.  It was amazing to hear about all the connections people in our small community had to Africa.  It was really encouraging!  We met missionaries, adoptive families, and many others who had friends in Africa.  We hope this is just the first of many years of being able to help through the Craft Fair!

Now that things are possibly slowing down, I am continuing to look forward to my days at Love, INC.  Again, if you haven't heard of this organization, please check it out!  They are local organizations (that operate nationally) that help to coordinate churches to help neighbors in need.  I am helping with taking phone calls, and I love it!  I'm also hoping to start some budget counselling (I am not a counselor, but I have successfully operated both larger and smaller budgets!).
 I also can't wait to go shopping for some food boxes that we hope will help homeless teens get though the school break over Christmas.  Our Church Youth Pastor challenged us this week to "Do One Thing."  Pat and I cannot do just one thing.  I can't imagine anyone who has the life of Christ in them to stop at just one thing.  We are praying about what God may have us do for these kids beyond the food boxes.  Kids should not be homeless and hopeless anywhere in the world.

I asked my husband what he thought our next year would bring.  Neither of us have a clue, but we are really excited!  God has blown open the doors of our hearts and pushed us to action in ways I'd have never dreamed.  I am so thankful for every small thing and every small opportunity we have to share.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful for My Morning Coffee Wake-up!

This morning I prayed for my husband as he left for work.  To be more accurate, I prayed out loud while I gave him his hug goodbye.  I rarely do this.  In fact, I think it's been years since I have done it last.  How sad.  I'm going to try to do it more often.

I am extremely thankful for the man God brought me with which to spend my life.

People are often shocked that I get up early to make my husband's lunch and see him off to work.  Right now this means getting up at 5:30.  Actually, he comes in with a fresh cup of coffee to wake me up!  Not too bad, really. He is up around 4:45 and gets the fire going, feeds the dogs, and has his quiet time. I often get looks that say, "Are you serious?" followed by the, "I would NEVER do that!" to which I usually think to myself, "That is why your marriage isn't as good as mine."

That may sound extremely pompous, but if you aren't willing to get up a little early for your spouse, are you really living in unity?  Are you giving as much of yourself to your professed loved one as you are expecting in return?  Why would you draw a line of "never" to the one to whom you vowed to love?  This always confuses me.  I would do anything for my husband, the least of which includes making his lunch in the morning and getting to start the day together.

Now, granted, I have an incredibly amazing husband who is not only an excellent provider, but also a gifted leader.  He lives surrendered to God, and I can trust him to follow Him!  This makes living in submission to each other much easier.

Notice I didn't say easy.  I'm still a human and become selfish more than I'd like to admit.  I'm also not necessarily saying everyone should do exactly what I do.  Your spouse may not care a whit about the morning send-off, but I'd bet there is something that does matter to him/her.  Usually it is something relatively small, fairly painless, and could move mountains if done regularly!  I'd also like to point out that discouraging and ridiculing someone else's act of love is highly reflective of your own level of loving.  Just saying.

If God called you to be married, then this is your act of service to Him, not necessarily your spouse.  I take the verse in Luke 16:10 to apply to marriage as well, though that takes it a bit out of context!  If I can't be faithful to show my husband love in small ways, how on earth can we hold up in hard times?   Being faithful to love each other in small ways will lay the foundation of Godly strength when the storms come.  My marriage is a huge testimony of what I really believe about God.  I know I've failed before, but in God's continuing story of redemption and second chances, I have an opportunity to let God shine through my marriage.

I love the chance to talk about what I do for my husband.  It gives me an opportunity to share how far God has brought me.  It reminds me of the gift I have and my responsibility to care for that gift.  I also hope it encourages others to give more of themselves, and then they can experience the sweet joys of selflessness.

Time for my second cup of java joy!  (O.K., my 3rd!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I celebrate birthdays.
In a random google search, and from some J.W. friends, I have learned that birthday celebrations had strong pagan origins and that these celebrations weren't exactly Biblically sanctioned!  
I still celebrate birthdays!
I like to think that my God is not legalistic about where celebrations originated and that if I want to take a day to thank Him for what I have and ask Him to lead me through the next year; well, I believe He is honored in that.  I don't believe that when people give me a "Happy Birthday," they are warding off evil spirits or that a candle-filled cake honors any greek goddess.  I genuinely believe it is all just a sign of goodwill.  And on that note, I will take it!  

I do wish, however, that I could pass on the increasing amount of gray in my hair.  I know, seriously shallow and vain.  I have found some slight pleasure in knowing that my husband now has some of his own:

 You see that big light hair in his goatee?  It's the fat gray one!  You have no idea the excitement I had this night!  Obviously, I had to get the camera and document this momentous event!
Sadly, I am winning this contest.  Pat must be thinking golf score.  I wish I could convince my follicles to play that way.

Oh well.  If this is the worse thing in my life (and it's pretty high up there) then that is a testament to how amazingly blessed my life has been these 34 years.  I have to admit, I don't stress about much.  In fact, I rarely stress.  This last year has opened my eyes and heart to so much, and I am a little apprehensive but extremely excited to see where this knowledge takes me.  Ten years ago my life changed.  Eight and a half years ago my life became combined with another's and change has been my constant!  I have no idea what lies ahead, but I know that change has been good to me and I will celebrate this change in my age!

Now then, perhaps I need to change that hair color...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You could win this!  All you have to do is link to this post (on the Alaska to Africa blog) from your facebook page or blog, or become a follower, and get the word out that we are taking orders for Christmas.  Remember that all proceeds will go to help others this Christmas who have no mom or dad to care for them, much less give them a gift.  Make your purchases count.

 This 12"x7" layered cross will be the only one made, specifically for this event!  It is a beautiful blued steel background (blue/purple color comes from a careful heat treatment) with a brushed bright steel front. Help us help the fatherless this Christmas.

Don't forget to tell us that you linked up by email, commenting, or facebook!
Oh, and the winner of this unique cross will have this shipped anywhere in the U.S. in time for Christmas giving!  If you happen to live outside of the U.S., we will try our best!  We will announce the winner on December 12th.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

THE MOCKINGBIRD PARABLES by Matt Litton (Book Review)

My husband is an artist and I am not.  When I see a piece of art or hear music I enjoy, I just know I really like it.  Because of who he is, he can explain why it is a good art or music piece.  I feel the same with this book.  I feel like Mr. Litton has illuminated the reasons why "To Kill a Mockingbird" is such a great piece of literature.  Especially from my Christian world-view.

It is clearly articulated in the beginning that the author in no way attributes his thoughts to Ms. Lee.  Mr. Litton is taking a revered story and sees it through his Christian lenses and states just as much.  What is amazingly wonderful, is that Mr. Litton has expertly taken the simple and basic tenants of what Jesus taught and shows us where they permeate this timeless story.  As I read through the parables, I was sadly reminded of how timeless the issues of racism, both skin color and economic, really are.  I was reminded of what it means to be a neighbor and what true courage and love really look like, not necessarily what Christians exude.  It made me remember that my actions are truly what define what I say I believe and are noticed specifically by children.

I loved this book, partly because I love "To Kill a Mockingbird."  I love it because it brought me to a place of realization of why I love Lee's novel, but also because the messages in Mr. Litton's parables are truth.  Some are hard truths and convicting truths, but truth nonetheless based on God's Word.  I would certainly recommend this book to others.  It is an easy read and very applicable for book clubs.  I wish I could discuss it with others!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Uncomfortably Happy

I'm skipping all the way down to the last night I was in Kansas.  My awesome brother-in-law suggested that his wife and I take a "time-out" together!  We chose our usual place - Olive Garden!  We also chose our usual hot chocolate, but splurged and looked at the desserts.  We chose not one, but two delectable dishes: a pumpkin cheesecake and a decadent chocolate dessert.  
We were pretty giddy with all the sugary delights!  

Of course we ate/drank it all!  It was a feat we were determined to conquer.  
We came.  We ate.  We conquered.
We were uncomfortable.
We were happy!

My sister has also put herself out there to be uncomfortable in order to follow her Lord.  She and I have both been moved to encourage others to push themselves out of their comfort zone if/when God calls us to do so, which He does extremely often in Scripture.  He calls us to reach out to the outcasts, love our enemies, be persecuted for His names' sake: these are all uncomfortable.  When we really live the way Jesus talks about, we will look very different from others and this can be hard.  She is there right now. 

Where am I?  I just spent the last couple weeks with my husband, albeit physically demanding weeks cutting firewood for winter.  I was able to come home to my nice house with warm wood heat (and a gas heater for back-up!); nice cozy furniture in which to curl up while I watch a little T.V. or peruse the internet; and we just finished the new kitchen cabinets/counter top.  I live in luxury.  I live in a very comfortable place.  Now, I'm not just talking about my physical conditions.  I live in an immense amount of security.  I do not fear for my life when I fill my glass with clean drinking water as opposed to young girls filling their jugs with dirty water from a water pit several miles away.  I'm able to go to the pantry and get a snack when I am hungry when others are immensely grateful for a single bowl of rice and beans for a meal that may be their only one for a few days.  

I spent the last year on a "clothes fast."  I did not allow myself to buy any clothing (except for 3 items of the undergarment variety) for an entire year.  Actually, it will be a year sometime around Thanksgiving.  One might think that this would be positioning myself to be uncomfortable.  Sadly, it was really easy.  I have a ton of clothes.  In fact, I gave away half my closet during this year.  I may not dress in the latest fashions, but I hardly lack in adequate clothing.  

My husband and I felt like we needed to increase our giving and we set up a new way to substantially do this.  When you decide to drastically change your spending habits, you usually feel some discomfort.  Again, this has been strangely easy.  It seems our finances are more than adequate for our daily necessities.  This may sound a bit arrogant and I know, know that our finances may not always provide our needs.  We have been there before; stretching every paycheck week to week.  We have learned through those times, however, that when things are going good, we must prepare for lean times.  This not only helps us, but enables us to help others.

I have quit my job in order to be more available to serve my husband, my community, and anyone else God asks me to serve.  This has been a little more uncomfortable.  I have discovered that I am less excited to follow the direct commands of my husband during a home work project than I was from my former boss.  I had previously prided myself on having tough skin and letting things roll off.  That doesn't seem to carry over to my husband!  I'm also finding it difficult to stay on task when I'm working on projects at home when at work I was an extremely focused worker.  Some of this is to be expected, but I feel a bit out of my element.  This is hardly an extreme form of discomfort, I have to admit.  

I'm wondering if God is preparing me.  I know He doesn't waste time and I have seen how He prepared my sister and has begun His work through her and her family.  This leads me to believe my time is coming!  As daunting as this may be, I am excited!  I have learned that if I really want to experience God, it will happen in those moments of being uncomfortable and stretched.  If I can do it all on my own, it's not really His power on which I rely or see.  I want to see more of Him.  

Sometimes, being uncomfortable can be a very happy thing!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Still Kickin'!

I've had a busy week!

I'm in Kansas right now, about to blow away or melt!  Actually, the wind has blown in some clouds today and it's not even 80 degrees yet.  I'm now in Heaven, but the 90's up until now have been killer.  It's not exactly a low-humidity area, so I've broken a sweat more times this week than I have in the last 5 years combined.  Probably.

Despite the weather, I have had a lovely time reuniting with my family!  I've seen everyone except my dad who will be here on Friday.  I've had some re-bonding time with these 3 N&N's, but haven't had many chances to spread myself out.  I think that will come at Christmas!  This trip was primarily for supporting my sister for this final adoption trip.  I often wish I could stay longer.  I miss my hubby dreadfully, however, so I'll be O.K. to head to back.  Especially knowing I'll be back for the holidays!

I've heard from my sis or her husband several times, and my little nephew Isaiah is doing great!  He is playful, affectionate, and ticklish!  He is also beginning to grieve for all that he has lost and is losing.  It seems strange that even a 16-month-old can grieve, but it is clear that he is aware that things keep changing and he is sad at times for those losses.  I know God will heal his little heart through his new parents and family, but it will take a little time.

Just a quick update on where I've been!  I'll have to update better when I get home and have more time/energy to put forth!  This makes me wonder how moms blog on a regular basis.  Once again, I am in awe of SuperHero Moms!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our boys!

I'd like to introduce you to our boys!

I always told my mom that I only wanted boys.  She told me that I didn't have the option to choose, so I told her I wouldn't have any.  Somehow I have both!  The only thing is that I had always said I wanted four, so perhaps these guys are our first two!

This is Ojambo!  My husband is pretty sure that this is his last name, but I don't think so.  I'll let you know when we get our email questions answered!  Isn't he just the most adorable?!  He lives in Uganda and we were introduced through Amazima Ministries.  We can't wait to meet this smiley boy of ours!  I can't wait to send him a picture of us so he can know that he has a "mommy" and a "daddy" who truly love him and can't wait to meet him.  We are praying for him to grow up and become the man God has planned.

This big guy is Remedan!  He is our tough guy.  We can't wait to meet him and get him giggling!  You can just see it behind those serious lips that they just want to break out and grin!  We were introduced through Children's HopeChest.  He is our Ethiopian boy that is in school and we are excited to be able to email him as soon as possible!  He has lots of interests that we can talk about and we will pray with him to discover God's purpose for his life!

I plan on sharing brief updates, so I thought you'd like to see their pictures!  We plan on taking these guys very seriously in our lives.  I had said before that sponsorship isn't just a check, but a relationship.  These will definitely be distance relationships, but I don't think any of us will mind, though we will be looking forward to the day we can meet in person.  I'm really excited about this new journey of ours.  I'm hoping it's a lifelong one!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


What do you wish for?

What is your greatest desire?

What fills your prayers?

My husband and I spent this morning talking together about just this topic.  We have been extremely frustrated by well-meaning Christians who "claim" promises of health, happiness, or hoards of other things and then don't receive that which they knew God would provide.  We have both had Godly people tell us that we should be very specific when in prayer and expect Him to answer favorably, because after all, God gives us the desires of our hearts.  Especially when we are earnestly praying and we are living what we believe to be God's will for our lives.  Surely then, He will give us what we want. (slight sarcasm here!)

What do we want?

When it comes down to it, for us, we only want one thing: we want God to be glorified in the life He has provided.  Period.

Our human nature occasionally makes us think we want things like new carpet, a fancy gun (that's my husbands), or a Smoothie King smoothie!  Sometimes we are cleverly told we should want things like our house to sell, good health, safety, etc.  Even our more recent desires to relinquish more of our financial blessings has tempted us to wish for more: so we can give more!  These thoughts float around us until we get back to the real center and reason for it all: Jesus.

I recently read (Yancy, Reaching for the Invisible God), "Christians in affluent countries tend to pray, 'Lord, take this trial away from us!'  I have heard prisoners, persecuted Christians, and some who live in very poor countries pray instead, 'Lord, give us the strength to bear this trial.'"

I'm pretty convinced God did not create us, provide His Son for us, give us His Spirit, strictly to make our lives comfortable.  Comfort does not generally facilitate close bonds and dependency.  I believe the Old Testament is filled with examples of this idea fleshed out.  I also believe that we are today just like the Israelites so long ago.  God created us, provided for us, lives in us to bring glory to Himself through relating with us.  When we are dependent on Him, do everything for Him, let go of our lives to be used for Him, He loves it, loves us, and is glorified through our obedience.  But He doesn't become our cosmic genie.  His goal is to make us more like Jesus, like Himself, because it really is the best option.  I really doubt this can happen comfortably at all times.  Fortunately, He does in turn provide us strength, joy, and abilities to progress until He determines we've gone as far as we can on this planet. This is a pretty huge idea that could have volumes extrapolated out, but I'll move on.

So with such a big picture, why is it so easy to focus on the little things?  I won't say I never ask God to help me with the little things, because I do, I just want the real motive to be to bring Him glory; not to have my wish fulfilled.  Who's glory is it if I get new carpet?  If I find my contact?  Why do I want my house to sell or my friend's child to be healed or my other friend's work to be calm?  Is it to bring comfort?  Is it to give God the credit and glorify Him?  Am I praying that in the horrible times my sister in Christ is trudging through, she will become so focused on Him that it will change her life, or am I just praying for ease?

Are we missing the blessing of being uncomfortable?  How can we know how fulfilling our Lord is if we never need Him?  Now, before I get an onslaught of messages telling of the blessings of God answering big and little prayers, I am not insinuating that He doesn't, won't, or shouldn't.  God does want us to ask Him for things, big and little, but secondary to living fully to glorify Him.  I have had some moments of God letting me know how interested He is in me by giving me some of those "genie wishes."  I just know that God wants way more for our relationship than that.  God wants me to grow and mature in my relationship with Him (which will serve to glorify Him, not me) and that may only come through the bond of a shared trial or other heart check to deny self.

Honestly, I don't intend to pray for trials to come.  I imagine they will all on their own.  I may just take pause, however, before I pray for them to pass or be removed.  Instead I hope I will look for my God's perspective and pray to grow through it.  I hope I do the same thing through positive experiences as well!

So, what do you wish for again?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I just had to share a little bit of my trip to Valdez.  Yes, you can see the evidence of the oil field all around, but God's creation far outweighs a few (enormous) tanks and pipelines.  It was truly a vacation for me to go and serve my husband.

You see, my whole purpose in going here was to help my husband ... well ... live out here in a tent while he worked 12 hour shifts for 7 days in a row for 3 weeks straight.  Yep, he was gone for 12 hours of every day.  When one is reduced to living in a tent, there is little housework to be done and fewer bills to pay, etc.  The one meal I prepared was by necessity simple and quick to make every evening!  I had the luxury of gallivanting all around the area and exploring on my own.

Occasionally, I would wait and explore with my hubby when he got home, but most of these sights were mine alone.  It gave me some real time to rest in Jesus.  I wish I had some really profound revelation that He gave me, but really I felt like I was just enjoying dessert!
One thing this time did do for me, however, was prompted by reading Brother Lawrence's "Practicing the Presence of God."  I was in the middle of a rather lewd novel based in 17th century England when I realized that I would be really embarrassed if Jesus caught me with that book.  Oh yeah.  He already knows.  He's been right with me the whole time.  I, in my humanness, skipped right over the to the last half of the last chapter.  I just couldn't throw it out without knowing the ending (by the way, justice was done at the end)!  I did know, though, that I didn't need to read it anymore.  That is actually a really huge thing for me.  I love to read and I am such a "check the box" type of person, that to not actually read the entire book was difficult.  Sort-of.  This one was actually easier than I would have thought to give up.  It was a small, but profound moment for me.

I also had some confirmation of some major decisions while I was gone.  Until those all come out in their own time, though many already know, I am just really excited about where my life is going.  I have sensed a real growing in my and my husbands relationship with Jesus this last year and I feel that things are going to be different.  I don't know anything other than that, but in another month or so, I'll be in a much better place to find out!

I feel like I could write an entire post on this next subject, and likely I will, but before it escapes my brain I wanted to share!

My husband and I have received the name of our first child!  (pause for effect!)

No, I'm not pregnant and if I were, I'd have some serious explaining to do!!  We have not adopted, and I am certainly not referring to an animal.

Just today we received the name of the child we are going to "sponsor" through Childrens HopeChest.  I got the email and read down through some of the apologies from the gal saying it had taken so long because of their ongoing move and then she shared the name of the person who is the sponsor coordinator for Ethiopia.  I'll share more about all that later, but at the very end of the email, was the name.  I am still choking up.

You see, this is not just a "sponsorship" to us.  If it were, we could simply set up an automatic withdrawal and likely never even notice.  An easy check in the box.  Instead, this is a child who desperately needs someone to love on them and care about them.  It is so much more about choosing a relationship than writing a check.  Yes, we will provide money to provide schooling and meals, etc., but we are truly hoping to develop a lifelong relationship and someday even meet and love on in person!  If we are really blessed, we will visit many times.  That's what you do for family.

This is not our only child.  We are anxiously awaiting information on our other child from Uganda.  We also hope to meet this special one and share our love in person.

Again, it's just at the beginning, so I will wait until I have more information before I share it all!  Actually, I'd also like to show my husband first - he gets home on Friday!

I just love Dessert!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Valdez Vacation

O.K., for all those who are wondering where I went:

Alaskan Adventures

is "our" blog of all the crazy stuff we do up here in Alaska.

I have taken 10 days off work to come out and stay with my hubby while he works out here in Valdez (a 9 hour trip by car).  I am trying to make his stay easier and more fun, so if you'd like to see what I'm up to, check it out there.  To be honest, I don't have anything all that deep to say, I'm just enjoying being a part of God's creation that is absolutely breathtaking!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lucky 13!

Isaiah is my 13th N&N, and I happen to find that a very happy number!  
If you'd like to see more of their Ethiopian journey, click here!

I think this is my most favorite picture!  

He likes to read in bed.  Of course we're related!

Beautiful family!  Can't wait til it's a full family portrait!

And seriously; how precious is this?  

I've had the amazing opportunity to see two sisters adopt and choose two of my nephews.  It has been so surreal for me to watch.  I wonder why more people don't adopt.  I know the reasons why more people don't, but for all those reasons, Jesus answers. 

 You might ask me why I don't: a valid question if I pose it so blatantly.  All I can say is that God hasn't put it on our hearts to have children, instead we want to do the most we can for as many as we can through our "five loaves and two fish."   Is it enough?  Well, are there still orphans?  We want to do more and I know we will, and what we do can be exponentially increased by the Spirit.  Won't you join us?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Six Hundred

This is a post from Ali's African Adventures - a link is on the right as well as a button.  This broke my heart and I hope it does the same to yours.

Tuesday, August 3. 2010

six hundred

Monday, August 2, 2010

Awesome August!

This week has already been an incredible week!

If you read the previous post, my sister and her husband are in Ethiopia meeting their new son!  It's been an incredible experience so far for them and if you'd like to know more details they are on her blog here.  I've felt so excited for them and a bit bewildered at this entire experience!  I'm so thankful for modern technology, even though it's tough to connect with the even the phones there.

I read a different blog a while back that shared a very special perspective about how their 2-trip requirement emulates Jesus.  In this first trip, Isaiah has now seen the people who have chosen him to be their son.  As adoption is so close to God's heart, this is a perfect example of how God has chosen us to be His children.  Just as in adoption, the ages can vary of when we get to join this perfect family, and it never matters to our Father.  He want's us all, no matter how old we are!  Right now and for the rest of the week, my sister and her husband will be investing a little bit more each day into their son, just as Jesus did for us during His time on this earth.  They will have to say good-bye, but they will promise that they will come back for him to take him home with them - permanently!  Jesus said the same thing!  Isn't this just perfect?!  Fortunately, my little nephew will not have to wait long, possibly 4-6 weeks, before they return to bring him home.  I think our time perspective when Jesus returns will be similarly short!  For a much sweeter rendition of these thoughts from the original author, click here!

So, as we all wait for this special time to come, I am constantly in prayer for my sister and her husband and her 3 kiddo's who are waiting for them to return home.  I'm calling her everyday to get their updates and keep everyone else informed and praying!  I'm so glad that they are not only going to be able to spend more time with their son, but also meet another friend's little boy!  Her friend B just got their referral and got in touch with them to share the news!  What an amazing opportunity to love on another little boy!

This has been an exciting week so far, and it will only get better since my beloved who has been gone for 2.5 weeks, will be home on Thursday!  Three weeks is a long time to be separated, especially knowing it will happen again.  I'm praying already that our week together will be sweet, long, and fun!  Knowing my husband, it will definitely be fun!  I miss him!  I'm beginning to really love August!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Part of my Heart is in Africa Right Now!

The star is where my sister and my brother-in-law are likely just getting up "tomorrow" morning!  It is so absolutely incredible to comprehend.

Several years ago I went to spend a week watching their 3 kids while they took a trip to Jamaica for their 10th anniversary.  It was a very special time!  I remember her telling me later that they had talked, ever so briefly, about adopting some day.  (I think this was when, so if I'm wrong, I apologize!)  I remember my sis saying something about a little girl from Guatemala, but her husband said that he thought it would be a little boy from Africa!  I remember thinking that it sounded a bit far fetched, but as they weren't serious about it, it was just a "huh!" moment!

And now here they are: in Africa getting ready to meet their little boy on Sunday (Saturday night for us)!  I had no idea my brother-in-law had the gift of prophecy!  O.K., that may have only happened as a special gifting for the moment, but I'll probably think hard about any predictions he'll make from now on!

Probably like many people, my sister and I weren't exactly "kindred spirits" as we were growing up.  She was a fairly typical oldest child and I was certainly a second.  I didn't have very much in common with her, it seemed, until we got older and realized how much we truly do.  Mostly we just discovered that we like each other and our differences and have grown to appreciate what God is doing in each others' lives.  Actually, I absolutely adore my sister!  She has shown me love and forgiveness more than any one person in my life.  God has blessed me immensely by putting us together and I'm so grateful that I can come along on her spiritual shirt-tales!

I'm also so incredibly fond of my brother-in-law!  He's a definite tough guy, but I'll never forget how he waited for my sis to figure out that he was the "one!"  We all knew, of course.  I have been so impressed at how he has led in his relationship with my sister.  He takes such wonderful care of her.  He is a pretty cool dad, too!  Watching him with his little girls is so precious and it cracks me up how boys and their dads can be!  He's taught his children well.

I would do just about anything for these two people.  I wish I could do more; be there more; give more.  They are two ordinary people who have let the Extraordinary God show through them.  They are an example of what I want to be.  For the next week, these two are moving forward on bringing my nephew home, even if it won't conclude for another 6-8 weeks.  So, for now, I am praying that their trip is smooth, they will be well-rested, and they have wonderful visits with their son in his home country.  It won't be long until they can bring him home, but til then, we all have a little of our heart in Ethiopia!

Monday, July 26, 2010

THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL by Richard Stearns * Book Review

The Hole in Our Gospel: The answer that changed my life and might just change the world by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision International, U.S. explores the concept that there is something missing in our "Americanized" Gospel.  He suggests that as a whole, the American Christians have, perhaps in their zeal, left out the social revolution part of the Good News that Jesus brought.  Throughout the book, Richard brings out the statistical references that should make all who proclaim to be followers of Christ fall on our faces in shame.  Fortunately, he also shares in his own struggles to live out what he knows to be the "Whole Gospel" and in doing, encourages us all to to take a second look at what it is we profess and how we live out our faith.  Do we embrace the whole gospel that Jesus proclaimed, and if we would, how radically would it change our world?  Instead of letting others outside the church lead in social revolutions, we ought to be like Jesus and be the leaders!

This book was extremely wonderful and terrible to read.  My passions are ignited, and to that I am excited!  I am also heart-broken and horrified to not just read statistics, but to hear stories of how "we" are dropping the ball on so many of our brethren.  I never felt that Richard was trying to "guilt-trip" anyone into doing more or giving more; instead he had an encouraging style where you felt caught up in his passion and excitement to become involved.  Because his story includes so much of the World Vision organization, there is a lot of reference to them, but again, no pressure to choose them exclusively with which to invest.  I felt as though he was trying to open the eyes of those who simply do not realize the extent of what is going on in our world and to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds."  (Hebrews 10:24)

I would recommend this book to anyone who claimed to be a Christian, and even those who do not.  It is an eye-opening book to the struggles of the poor and the effects of non-action, both real and perceived.  In a culture who's greatest goals seem to be to take care of our "own," and to simply walk by, Mr. Stearns reminds us of who our neighbors really are, and what we do or don't do reveals who we are as well.

*This book was provided to me at no cost by Thomas Nelson Publishers for the purpose of reviewing.  All thoughts are solely my own and I receive no benefits for positive reviews.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Can Do It - BY MYSELF!

It seems I am a toddler at heart.

I can do it all by myself!

For the past 8 years or so, my fabulous husband has been on a mission to get me to a higher plane of self-sufficiency.  He has enabled me to see past the perceived need of tents, bulky food, trails, most cooking utensils, and much more.  I have been able to learn that I truly need very little to survive in fairly comfortable environment that I can create for myself.  

This self-sufficiency fed into my deep desires to be independent.  I have wanted independence from something or someone since I could remember.  While growing up this manifested itself in wanting independence from my family, whether in name or actual physical location!  As I grew, my goals were very centered on creating an independent persona for myself - all by myself.  I was going to be someone people would admire, wonder, wish they were, etc.  I was going to do this all alone.  All through school, even through college, I detested group projects.  I felt as though they were a socialistic standard that only served to bring me down to average, which I truly aspired to be above.  I thrived when I finally got to do my relatively independent study for my Horticulture degree.  It fit me perfectly!  I got all the credit!

Even now, I feel tremendous satisfaction in completing a project or tackling a problem successfully on my own.  Just tonight, I was changing the water filter in our crawl space (more like a stoop-space), and as I was opening the water line back up, water began to pour out the pressure relief button.  This was no exaggeration.  It was pouring out.  (Did I mention we are supposed to have a showing this weekend?  No?  Well, yes, this added to my panic!)  As I shut off the water and pushed my panic into a box in my proverbial emotional shelf, I realized that the button was likely gunked up (yes, I made up that word) by some sediment.  Fortunately, I had just sprayed a thrip-covered petunia with a soap/water mix that I thought may help along with some Q-tips.  I went ahead and texted my man just in case he had any other thoughts!  In the end, I was able to clean out the valve and stop the leak, averting the crisis.  I was quite proud of myself!

Then I remembered that we aren't supposed to do anything by ourselves.

Jesus Himself said:
"'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'"  John 5:19
"'For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.'" John 6:38
"'My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me."' John 7:16
"'I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.  And the one who sent me is with me - he has not deserted me.  For I always do what pleases him.'" John 8:28b-29
"'At my Father's direction I have done many good works.'" John 10:32a
"'I don't speak on my own authority.  The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.  And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.'" John 12:49-50

Now, I don't want to take this all out of context and say that I cannot do anything, ever, on my own.  I do believe that God gives us challenges that only we must go through, but am I by myself?  No.  I'm not.  I have to admit that when I was putting the filter back on that last time, I was praying that God would seal it and keep it from leaking.  Not only does He help in moments like these, but He uses these situations to bring us into a deeper reliance on Him.

Sometimes, He desires us to draw upon our community for support.  Earlier today I had a dentist appointment.  That may not sound that big to some of you, but I have had less than stellar dentist appointments in my day and I have a tendency to get a bit panicked.  My jaw locks up and hurts when they put the block in, I almost always have sinus drainage that collects in the back of my throat, and that doesn't help my claustrophobic tendencies which cause me to have brief panic attacks thinking I can't breathe, and gosh darn it: it hurts!

So anyway, I humbled myself and asked for my group and my mom to pray for me today.  Mom's are great for that, aren't they?!  I admit that I felt rather silly asking for prayer for something fairly trivial.  I should surely be able to get through this by myself.  I was reminded of what a privilege it was to be able to see a dentist at all, but I was still not looking forward to my fillings.  Today I felt so thankful for those prayers and support.  I prayed for me and the dentist throughout the appointment, and I felt a calm and relaxation that was foreign to me in that place before now, and I know it was due to the prayer support.  The dentist seemed to feel the need for urgency and made the appointment go quickly.  I now have a molar that no longer has the metal filling, but a composite one, along with a little extra that needed to be filled.  It was as pleasant an appointment as it could have been.  I didn't even feel the shots, though it looked as though I'd had a stroke for the next 5 hours.  I kept hoping I wasn't drooling.  I digress...

I had just had an experience where the coming together of sisters had blessed me, and yet I was still determined to find pride in doing things by myself!  My problem stems not from the ability God has given me to accomplish things like fixing a leaky pressure relief valve, but in taking the full credit.  I am so thankful that God has worked in me and used my husband to teach me how to take care of things.  Jesus, who was God's own Son, again and again reminded us that even He relied on the Father for direction and strength and then gave the glory back to Him.  It was never about Jesus' story alone.  He didn't do it all by Himself, and I don't want to either.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tom Davis's Plea for India's Girls

Update:  Praise God this specific endeavor has been fully funded.  Please feel free to support Children's HopeChest for their continuing efforts to bring these children into safety.

Red Letters

Red Letters

Living the Words of Jesus

by Tom Davis

How to make a profit selling virgins for sex

Wednesday July 21, 2010

It's apparently very simple.

First, you establish yourself as a respected community leader who heads up a women's rights group in India. This will solidify your reputation as someone who protects and defends young girls.

Next, you need to really specialize in something to keep the customers coming back for more. You need, as the marketers call it, a "unique value proposition." You decide to focus on virgin girls. Highly prized and more expensive than girls with experience.

For clientele, you cater to corrupt police officials, local authorities, and the occasional visiting VIP or dignitary. That way, you'll always remain safe from raids and prosecutions.

Last, and most importantly, you need a good supply of virgins. For that you have an arrangement with the local boarding school for girls. Potential customers browse through your photo book of potential child sex victims. Once they make their choice, you bring the girls to your brothel to be raped for profit. 

Sadly, this true story is unfolding right now in India. 

A well-respected women's leader and her husband run a trafficking and prostitution ring specializing in virgins and young girls. The description above is true in its details, documented by our partners in India.

A rescue operation is in the works, and I am raising funds through this blog to free as many girls as we can. Will you help us?

They have documented at least five minors--all girls--being held as slaves. The rescue plan involves using the local television station to expose the operation, and thereby force the police to conduct the raid.

Will you join me in supporting this rescue operation? Here are the details:

Rescue Operation: $1,250 - ($125 per girl we plan to rescue)
If we successfully rescue 10 girls, that's just $125 per child saved. This involves setting up the rescue operation, getting the investigative team in place, coordinating with the media and police, and conducting the raid itself. Even if $1,250 rescued only one girl, it would be far worth the investment.

Rescue Kits for Each Girl: $450 - ($45 per girl up to 10 girls)
These kits are the first step in restoring a girl's dignity. They contain clothing and personal hygiene supplies. The girls are taken immediately to a government after-care facility, and these kits provide each girl with needed supplies for the long journey ahead.

Professional Social Worker: $6,000 - Salary for 12 months
Once in the government after-care home, our partners will send a Christian social worker to meet with each of the girls and begin to counsel them toward long-term recovery. Until the girls are allowed to leave that facility, our partners will provide consistent biblical counseling from a licensed and educated social worker. Providing this victims' advocate is critical because in many cases girls are returned to the parents or relatives who sold them to the brothel in the first place.

Our goal is to rescue up to ten girls. Although in a similar attempt a few weeks ago, only one girl was freed from her captors. 
I will keep you posted, and encourage you to continue to pray, to spread the word, and to give as you are able.

Here are two ways you can be involved:

Join our Prayer Conference Call TodayOur prayer team, iFast58, will pray for this operation on their weekly sex trafficking prayer call. Please join them today (July 21) at 1:30pm Eastern Time.  Call 760-569-9000 ID: 968101. If you can't make the call, please commit to pray for this rescue.

Make a Gift to the India Rescue OperationClick the donate button at the top of this post to make a gift toward this rescue operation. A gift of any size will make a difference. Give even $5 to stop this horror. A $45 gift buys one girl a rescue kit. A $125 donation helps rescue one girl (if we are successful in freeing 10 children). A $500 gift pays for after-care social work for the girls. Make a gift today. All donations are processed by PayPal and received by Children's HopeChest, a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation. We are members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability also. For more information about our ministry, please visit

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