Monday, October 16, 2017

The Second Hunt

We did it again, we had an overnight babysitter and took off to go hunt again.

We packed up our car late at night and took off around midnight on a Thursday.  Yes, midnight.  We looked at each other with smiles in our eyes and careless laughter as we embarked on our second hunting vacay in as many weeks.

At about 2 am when we switched drivers, we were excessively less jovial.  In fact, we were downright solemn.  I was anyway.  I'm sure the pillow, blanket, and snoring from the passenger seat kept the full weight of the boringly, long drive from sending me over the edge.  It's amazing how someone can be so peacefully at rest while another one enviously watches them through side-eye glares.

I wasn't actually ticked off, but I was a bit jealous even though I had just woken up to take over the driving responsibilities.  Come 3 am and I was beginning to question our last minute strategy to leave and drive through the night.  Come 4 am when we arrived, I was really wondering where our sanity went as we got our gear on to go for a 5 hour hunt.  Gah. If you will remember, coffee and I really enjoy our morning time together.  This was not exactly an option the local coffee shop took upon themselves to accommodate my inane cravings.  

Yet, we carried on as though our brains were fully functioning.  By carried on, I mean we attempted to carry on. My legs weren't moving like they should.  Sleep deprivation and hiking were clearly not a positive combo, nor one that I would recommend.  Plus, we weren't even able to talk the whole drive there, what a waste of all those quiet hours in the car without the blissful earplug worthy little yaps from the backseat.

We moved a lot slower this time though and proceeded with a wait and see tactic where we parked our behinds down where we thought they would magically appear.  Looking back, it may not have been the wisest strategy.  Dusty took a picture of me though, "How sweet", you say.  I had other thoughts after I saw it.

If there was a deer that kicked me in the stomach and spit on my face I would not have noticed nor cared. I was in my own blissful hibernation.  Eventually I woke up and it was at this moment that it struck me: We. Are. Old.  Traveling all night at 30+ with 4 kids and expecting to stay up the entire day was nothing short of madness.  We were nuts.  Nothing else to it.  And we were already up on the mountain, so we decided to embrace it.

We trekked up to the spot where we had witnessed our one proof of animal existence (aside from the random bird or furiously angry chipmunks) from our prior hunting trip.  One chipmunk climbed up a tree to get to our eye level as we were sitting near a cliff, stared at us while squawking furiously, this lasted for a good couple of minutes straight before we told it to stop, because reasoning with woodland creatures is what happens when you're old.  I can still imagine his little fist shaking at us. He was seriously mad, too. The  deer must pay them off in some way for sounding the alarm when they see humans, because that little sucker was loud.  Dirty little bribes happening in the underbrush.

We hiked, and hiked, and hiked some more.  

Then we drove to go eat and HAVE COFFEE. Finally. Priorities were being set in their proper place again. We stopped at the local hunting shop first to chat with the owner and he shared that the deer still have not come back to the area since the fires and the smoke.  Sigh.  He told us where he did see some awhile ago so we wasted no time and headed straight there.

After, of course, we got a coffee for the road.

Our trip took a bit of a turn as my hunting partner literally blazed his. own. path.  As in, I hunkered down in the truck to sleep. He searched and searched while I slept and slept.

When that was over we went driving to see if we could spot any from the road as I was still content in my seat.  It was at this time that Dust started to yawn.  Keep in mind, we were still 4 something hours away from home and hadn't left yet.  We had "been up" for longer than any normal person ever should be.  Staying the night was not an option because of the deadline we had for our babysitter.

The drive back started well enough.  By well enough, I mean the first 23 minutes where the truck didn't traverse over the turtles or truck gates rattling me awake went well enough.

I asked Dust how he was doing and he openly shared that his eyes seemed glued shut. Guess it was my turn.  I was surprisingly awake, and am assuming I can attribute it to my continual cat naps throughout the day.  So I drove pretty well all the way home until the last hour when we switched again.

After the first 4 minutes of his newly acquired shift he realized he was still too tired to drive, we switched again.  We finally made it home--Dusty made a beeline for the bed while I chatted with our babysitter about how it went for her.

The next morning was a soccer game at 9, it honestly felt like I was ripped from bed at 3 am by a tiger shark.

On Saturday, we spent a good deal of time nursing our wounds, sleeping, and utilizing screens for the kids.

Moral of the story: We are old.  Really old. We will never do that again.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Hunt

Recently, I went bow-hunting for the first time with my husband.  It was such an exciting trip to go on... we were going for two nights sans kids... aka sans schedules! There was a glorious hope involved for freedom from work, feeding and re-feeding and more feeding of 4 little chicklets, freedom from a schedule determined by my chicklets needs to eat/survive/sleep, freedom for alone time sparked by a really long drive where we could talk uninterrupted for a cool 4 hours (I'm sure that was the most anticipated event for Dusty, too).

To say I was excited was an understatement, I was near giddy.

I learned a whole lot about hunting in our 48 hour camping trip. First, the camper we took ended up being for looks, and for terrifying me on the drive that the back tire might catch the edge of the road and pull us down the cliff that was not even a yard away from the white line.  I will say, the camper was nice for the exhausted freefall into it both nights as I prepared for a glorious couple hours of sleep because we "had to get up the mountain before the deer". Sure, okay.

Boy, does 4 am comes early when you have just driven for 4 hours, hurriedly unpacked and set up the trailer in 30 minutes, tried on and wore my hunting gear for the first time, and zipped out to hunt the night before for a couple hours, and had dinner at 9 (but let me say, it really was delicious, because again, we were eating dinner at 9... with no one screaming at us or throwing food at the waitress).  Coming off the dinner, we were headed to the one grocery store in town so we could grab food for the morning, but more importantly, creamer because, hello, it will be the crack of dawn, and coffee is a must on a normal day.

The one grocery store in this remote little town decided that closing time already happened before we arrived.  I will freely admit this was my biggest concern the whole trip. Getting attacked and eaten by a black bear, falling off the cliff while driving there--these had nothing on the fact that I wasn't going to have a good cup of coffee in my hands for our early morning jaunt in the woods, nor any food for breakfast.  I was assured we would go out for breakfast after and all would be well again in my world, so we pressed on and decided to get a Starbucks cold drink and mix that in with our black coffee.  I would advise munching on watered down coffee grounds rather than ever doing that again. But we paired it well with our dried out turkey sandwiches from the "deli" section.  A breakfast for kings.  Kings who don't plan well.

We arrived at our morning hunting spot, sat down on some really comfy rocks, and began to glass.  Glass, in hunter's wife lingo, means you pull out your brand new binoculars that your husband bought hoping you would have something to do with your time instead of talk as you are supposed to be really "quiet" when you hunt because the animals have exceptional hearing.

My husband knows me well, he knows I love puzzles and used it to his advantage by telling me that glassing is essentially like taking the entire mountainous hillside and dividing it into itty bitty puzzle pieces that you spend all too long analyzing in hopes of seeing some antlers stick up higher than the grasses.  In reality he was right, it was just more like one of those 50,000 piece puzzles of a polar bear in a blizzard.

Luckily, Dusty spotted a bush swaying back and forth and although I wasn't able to see any hint of what type of animal, I imagined by the raucous nature that it was some sort of beastly creature that would not welcome us invading his space with weapons.

By the looks of it, we were a good day and a half hike away from The Bush.  Apparently, we were going to risk it anyway. We drove to a closer location to start the hike. Now, "hike" in hunter's wife lingo, means extremely deliberate and calculated stepping, all while staring at where your next step would be and simultaneously keeping my eyes on my husband because if he stops, I stop. That is all while also looking around to prevent a potential bear attack or possibly that a buck would be staring me in the face because I most assuredly would have gotten that close with how quiet I was. Except my breathing, it was horrendously loud. Looking back, the wheezing may have scared away the deer. It took me awhile to recognize that sometimes Dust stopped to generously give me time to catch up and not because he heard something. Take note that the word generously is the key takeaway from that revelation. Love him.

I had heard of hunters training in the gym for hunting season, and I'll openly admit that I scoffed. Until this trip. I had no idea just how much stamina is involved with hunting.  There's an overly tired body that wakes up entirely too early and is fueled by mostly coffee and protein bars that has to scale a mountain in a couple hours time *quietly*, hopefully have the strength after that to pull back your bow in order to achieve the purpose of the whole trip, dissect your victim, and traipse down the mountain with it (and possibly your wife) on your back.  It was nothing short of impressive to me understanding the level of endurance involved.

There was a lot of looking down while hiking which I wasn't expecting.  If there was a twig that would crack, I stepped around it if I could.  If there was a rock that might slip, I stepped around it if I could.  If there was deer or bear droppings, I stepped around those if I could.  In fact, on that hike there was a lot of poop. I had been expecting a weekend free from others' excrement but found myself getting overly excited when I would see those fresh brown berries because it felt like the deer were close.  I almost imagined the steam rising because it was that fresh. I'm a Mom, I'm used to fresh.

The first hunt we saw a lot of signs.  The next 2 hunting sessions were not as exciting in terms of fresh evidence. Yet, when we took a break to eat something, we saw our one and only legal buck. It got spooked and took off, and we unfortunately couldn't track it down after a solid 2 1/2 more hours of hiking.  I had been expecting to see a lot of deer, almost so much so that we would have our pick of the choicest rack.  That was far from reality since we ended up only seeing one during our entire trip.  It felt very much like a game of luck.  So not a game really at all. Just pure luck. If a deer was to my left and I was looking to my right I very well could have missed him.

Another thing that surprised me was how far we could travel in a mere 2 hours of hiking without stopping.  I haven't really worked out consistently for a good couple of years now and I just deliberately traveled with my legs as my vehicle for 2 hours up a steep incline.  And I made it.  We actually made it to The Bush that first day but the deer, or mountain lion, or mammoth beast had left already.  And let's not forget that if it took a couple hours to get up there, one still must come down.

With hunting, there's always another ridge to scale.  Seriously, looking up at a behemoth of an incline only to peer over the ridge and see another looming hillside is a bit discouraging... it's like a constant nature delusion that you think this is the top after 40 more carefully placed steps and it's not.

We headed back down soon after that as I was starting to get concerned my muscles would lock up and he'd have to pack me out. Packing out, in hunter's wife lingo, so I'm told, is a concerted effort by those in your hunting party to help you divvy up your proof of hunting prowess and assist you in heaving 100 or so pounds of a carved up animal onto your already heavy pack down the steep hillside to your vehicle.  This would have been most unfortunate for Dusty to have to pack out his pack, me, my pack, and a buck. I'm almost certain he would have been fine.  Since I did decide to not take a ride down, let me tell you, trekking down a mountain in exhaustion is a lot louder than the concentrated movements when anticipation of running into a buck is a possibility.

What I also didn't realize was how little down time there would be during The Hunt.  When I imagined hunting, I foresaw a hike to a destination where we would sip our coffees, eat some snacks, and wait for a buck to walk right in front of us.  I also expected that afterward there would be cuddling by the fire as we talked about our hopes and dreams, sipping our decaf coffees, after we had time to meander through the shops in town while drinking coffee.  (Again, please take note that my expectation here may better explain the intense desire earlier to have creamer as coffee clearly plays a major role in my life.)  There was none of that. Any of that.  My expectations and reality were world's apart.

We had a blast though, other than me breaking down in anxiety-racked tears on a logging road (logging road is hunter's wife lingo for a rocky, rutted 5 foot wide span of dirt and boulders that would better be termed a wider than average hiking trail) with a cliff as he backed up (on a cliff) and away from 3 Jeeps (1 of which nearly tipped over as they tried to "climb" the side of the mountain to "give us room to pass" on a cliff) (another story for another time though).  It was so much fun to hang out with each other alone, with no schedule, learning about a hobby that interests my husband so much.

We made it back and would do it again in a heartbeat! I would anyway, I might need to double check with Dusty whether or not he came to the same conclusion.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Grace

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I'm losing bad
I've stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it'll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can't
It's easy to sing
When there's nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I'm held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
You've been faithful, You've been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You're able
I know You can
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
Songwriters: Bart Marshall Millard / Benjamin Glover / Crystal Lewis / David Arthur Garcia / Tim Timmons
Even If lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Music Services, Inc

Friday, October 6, 2017

Rearranging Deck Chairs

We heard an amazing sermon last year that was incredibly solid. We have been blessed with an amazing church where the preaching from the pulpit is the truth of the Bible.

There were a couple of one-liners that struck a cord with me.

Confession is not the same as conversion.
I had lived most of my life without knowing with my heart what conversion entailed.  Sure, I had confessed.  I had confessed with blind eyes, silent ears, and a proud heart.  This is not the confession of the Bible.  It is a false confession that was meant to selfishly appease my conscience.

Repentance without Christ is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

My understanding of what the word repent meant had been head knowledge only. It was a false assurance I told myself to satisfy my sinful ways. What I failed to realize was that repentance without Christ is futile.  There is no salvation in empty repentance.

We might affirm Christ but do we know Him?

Again, you can't fully repent without Christ, so do you have a right understanding of Christ?  Do you know the Savior from the Bible? Have you concocted your own version of Him to meet your needs or justify your sin?

If you are not sure, I would encourage you to start in Genesis 1:1 and begin a read-through plan of the Bible.  I'm participating in our church's Bible read-through this year and each book, chapter, verse, and word is weaving together a more complete understanding of who the true Christ is.  

In order to repent, you must know to whom you are repenting.  In order to confess, you must know the true understanding of repentance.

This standard can also translate to other areas of life, although in a lesser degree of importance.  In order to rightly confess, or repent your sin against another, you should know in your heart and mind what you have done; there should be a heart knowledge involved if you are in a situation where an apology is necessary.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Baby Steps

A constant reminder for me lately has been about baby steps.  Not in the sense that I miss having newly toddling babies at my feet. More that the greatest lessons I have been learning have come and gone through baby steps.
When I look back at what we have been through in the last couple of years, I see the baby steps leading me to where we are at now.  The Bible constantly talks about baby steps: in trust, in faith, in finances, in trials, etc. 
In our lives, we have had a barrage of opportunities to recognize and see the continual progress we have made in many different areas of life. Bit by bit, my faith has been determined and founded; the persistence of one tiny step forward toward the goal has been foundational in my understanding of the sovereignty of God.  The trust I place in God has been instrumentally established as a result of the journey we are walking.  Our marriage has been at times a day by day practice, working on one thing at a time while we each work to change and recognize destructive behaviors in ourselves so that we might better contribute to our covenant relationship.  The financial path we have traveled has been full of ups and downs but when we abide by the truths of the Word, we see that to be wise with our money is to be wise through baby steps: to earn wealth bit by bit, when we are wise with a little than we can be trusted with a lot.
When we get overwhelmed with life, it is Biblically wise to take it step by step.  Take everything one step at a time. You may falter, you may fall, but keep getting back up and strive to take that next step.  And when you look back, you can see just how far you have traveled and grown.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Grace

"He will keep in perfect peace
all those who trust in Him, whose
thoughts turn often to the Lord."

-Isaiah 26:3

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Beautiful Babies

My children are really adorable, the world tells me so. But I won't let them be limited to that.  The world's standard of beauty will not define how I raise my kids.

I refuse to teach them that beauty is the ultimate standard to attain to.  That if you have beauty you are one step ahead of the rest of "them".  That if you have the right look, body, clothes or type of makeup, that you will get further in life.  I have seen the detrimental effects in adults who grew up with that idealization.  It creates many footholds for sin to enter in with relation to jealousy, comparison, pride, lust, covetousness.

Instead, I will encourage them to use their voices, to expand their knowledge and their abilities. I will encourage them to not conform, to be their own person. I will not try to box them into my own definitions or criticisms. I want them to fly one day and they won't if I clip their wings with my words.

So will I complement them? Yes, but rarely on physical aspects.  I will focus my encouraging words to heart issues: the kind thing they did that day, the thoughtful action they showed their sibling, how they asked to pray for someone hurting, how hard they tried at something, that they pulled out their Bible for devotions, that they had great attitudes even though they lost their game, that they are willing to learn, that they apologized, that they changed their behavior.

There are obviously too many to list, but enough to focus on that I don't need to be so shallow as to only show them I think their worth is limited to external features.

If your kids have flown out of the nest already, this still applies to how you compliment them and any grandchildren you may have in your life.  Let your legacy be that you care for their heart.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Marriage Prerequisite

(Insert about 15 more spoons, a couple kid plates, and 7,000 sippy cup pieces and you pretty much have our dishwasher....)

One of the things I wish I had known before I had gotten married was how my husband-to-be loaded the dishwasher.  One of the things I wish I had known before I had kids was how they would load the dishwasher.

I kid you not.

I prided myself in being thee ultimate in loading so as not to leave any dishes remaining on the counter. I put some in, took some out, rearranged, and spent entirely too much time figuring out the best dynamics so the dishes fit well, utilized the space, and still got clean. It's a science.

But when it's not me who does the dishes I'll find cups spaced out, maybe a bowl thrown in here or there, plates not in a row but strewn in haphazardly, or sippy cups laying on their sides. No rhyme or reason to the degree of difficulty and time it should take to property load. I mean, C'MON!

What really stupefies me is when I open the dishwasher and find that we basically just steam cleaned all of the little pegs inside, plus 3 dishes.

I know I should just put those 3 clean spoons away and smile. Because really, I know that when my husband loads the dishwasher, it is a gift of service he is giving to me to lighten my load (pun intended).  When I have taught (and taught and guided) my kids on how to load and unload the dishwasher, I am teaching them a basic  skill and responsibility (just like folding towels--help me!).

My moral of the story, I'll just continue my run of staying out of the kitchen after dinner as I consider the likelihood that Dusty is probably writing his own Marriage Prerequisite post about me and my "issue" with dishwashers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our Adoption Story

{This post was originally written in May of 2009, before our babies were in our arms that year.}

Okay, warning that this is a bit long.  Enjoy!

It all started since before I can remember; it being, of course, the desire to adopt. Before Dusty and I were married, the love and passion held for adoption had started … in both of us.
Once we were married and settled, the thoughts of growing our family began to take root. Dust wanted to try naturally first and to adopt next but I was adamant about wanting to adopt first. The reason being that I wanted our adopted children to know that they were chosen; it wasn’t an option because we couldn’t have kids naturally. I really didn’t want adoption to be a second choice for the growing of our family or maybe just that I wanted to show that adoption really doesn’t have to be seen as a backup, basically that you don't just have to adopt because you can’t have your children naturally. (That being said, of course I completely understand why parents do adopt in those situations, but this is our story of how we came to adopt and the reasons leading to it. One of the reasons why I actually love adoptions so much is because I feel such pain for parents who want so badly to have kids and can’t naturally… and then realize that all of that love is just as prevalent when they choose to adopt!)

We entered our third year of marriage and I had baby on the brain for about 6 months when we were presented with a business opportunity that would allow me to stay-at-home (or at least work part-time) with kids. As that had always been a holdup for us starting our family in the past, we started talking seriously about expanding our duo. One day Dust said to me, “Why don’t we just try for both (adoption and natural) and hope for 'twins'?!” That sounded like the best idea as I have always wanted twins.

So we started the process for both in the summer of 2008. We got pregnant the month after we sent our first application in to our agency! It was a blessing beyond belief that I did not have a terribly difficult first trimester as I had about a bajillion paper chases to tackle with the adoption.

The process of adoption is a strange one that a person cannot understand unless they have actually been through it. It is much the same as how the hormones affect a pregnant woman. You have your ups and downs, your in-betweens, your days where you feel like weeping, and your days you feel ecstatic. On the days I was low, I was encouraged by a positive pregnancy note. On the days I was feeling low with the pregnancy, I was encouraged with progress of the adoption. It has been a great way to pass the time and also a stress reliever to have each to look forward to. In fact, I find that adoptive parents react much the same as pregnant woman to questions and situations. One of the most common pregnancy complaints it seems I hear is “I hate it when people touch my belly, especially strangers.” Of course it’s all relative to your attitude that day (and lack of hormonal spikes) that get you through the awkward situations. With adoption, there are quite a few ignorant people out there, and to no fault of their own (obviously throwing the benefit of the doubt out there), they ask some pretty inane questions that can either be taken as extremely rude or with the potential to educate people on adoption. The responses and fluctuations in emotions that the adoptive parents retaliate with are much the same as the pregnancy-induced, shall we say, passion.

I read on a fellow adoptive parent’s blog this quote:
“Adoption is totally different than pregnancy because you feel for this baby who is already here, that you cannot hold or comfort. The strain when your child is already there somewhere, is so different. It's a mom thing that is anxiety and trust in a way like you've never experienced. I am so thankful for that time of waiting because I feel like I understood far earlier that God is 'loaning' my kids to me from him and that he is in control, not me.”
I love the fact that we are not bearers and creators of our children, but rather are the people chosen by our Heavenly Father to watch over, to guide, protect, and raise our children in a way that is holy and pleasing to Him! I absolutely love that, especially because, for us, going through both types of situations really does grant us the awareness that both our children are “loaned” to us. We were assigned by God to raise them, whether or not they came directly from our genes.

We found out in February that we were having a girl and couldn’t believe that we would be having a boy and a girl! In March, we were given our referral (this is the point at which we are matched with our child: our very first picture of him, medical history, and any information that the agency has will be sent to you to decide if you “accept” your referral) of our little IZ. He was born in January in Ethiopia and brought into care at our agency’s orphanage when he was about a week old. We took all of about a minute to respond and “accept” our referral!

March 19 was one of the most exciting days I have ever experienced, as well as quite an emotional one. We were informed at our last doctor visit that our prior ultrasound revealed that our Baby Girl’s umbilical cord was not attached properly to the placenta and that we needed to go back in for another ultrasound to see how she was doing. That ultrasound was on March 19, and we found out that she weighed more than average and that it did not look as though the cord would present any problems. What a relief! We went and celebrated with a Costco mocha then headed home, I was exhausted after working myself up emotionally over the potential issue with Baby Girl.  I sat down at the computer to look at any emails that had come in. I saw that we had received an email from someone from our agency, and I got extremely excited and called Dusty over. Okay, I yelled at him to get over here because of the “E-MAIL FROM OUR AGENCY!!!!” Keep in mind, we had been expecting our referral any day, and I had been checking my phone methodically every 5 minutes, or every minute just waiting for that call. So we opened the email together and read about our little boy. We received two pictures of him, one at a week old and one at one month old. And that’s when the tears started flowing! I could not believe I was staring into the precious face of my little child. The feelings that flow through you at such a time are indescribable. I haven’t experienced birthing a child yet, so I don’t know the emotions that are associated with that, but wow, I just was in shock. Dust kept smiling at me because I could NOT stop crying! Even now, as I’m writing this, the tears are just flowing thinking back to that special day when I saw my son for the first time! What a blessing to see pictures of both of your children on the same day, even when you can’t hold either of them.

After I somewhat had gotten a hold of my emotions, somewhat being a very vague description of sniffling, snuffling, sobbing (still), and wiping tears away, Dust proceeded to tell me that our agency had first called him to let him know about our referral that morning. He didn’t want me to know about the phone call because he wanted me to see his picture first and not anticipate the email. I’m not one for surprises, but that was the best surprise ever!

Going through these last couple of months has been trying in that I know who my child is, where he’s at, and that he’s not with me. We were told by a traveling family that he cries when he’s hungry… which makes me cry because I can’t be the one to feed him. I will have missed out on 6 months of his life (Lord-willing that is all, as you really never know timeframes with international adoptions).

Dust and I had started the discussion of names: ones we liked, potentials, ones we didn’t like, etc. Now, as easy of a task as this is for some people, we were really not agreeing on anything—but we had time to figure it out! We knew for sure we would be naming one boy, so I was rattling off names I liked and said the name “Isaiah”. Dust perked up and said, “I really like that name.” I tentatively said, “Is that it? Is that the name of our son?????” And we just smiled and knew. And of course, more tears (it comes to be expected with me in any situation). Isaiah means “Salvation of God” or “Yahweh is salvation” and how true that is! We had actually named a child of God, the child that God was going to loan to us!

The point we are currently at in our adoption is rightly deemed the worst waiting of your life. It is the time when you know who your child is and you just have to wait for the process to happen until you can go and pick your child up and hold him forever! We are in the middle of this stage. We have our Ethiopian court date on June 8 and if we pass, then travel is approximately 6 weeks later to go pick up our son and take him to the visa appointment. June 8 will be a VERY nervewracking day around our house because it is the day that when we pass... Isaiah will officially be our son! And that means I can finally post pictures of him! The Ethiopian government is very nervous about child trafficking and any internet pictures of waiting children and they have actually taken referrals away from families who have posted pictures prematurely (how sad!!).

Governments in foreign countries work differently than in the United States (obviously) and on a schedule that is all their own. The courts in Ethiopia actually shut down during their rainy season (which ends up being about a 6 week period of closures starting around August). There are many reasons why a family may not pass court on their first try, and we ask for prayer that we’ll make it through on the 8th: one of the reasons being as simple as lack of electricity so no cases are even heard; another that a government issued letter (that has to be in the file to pass) has not been submitted timely; or even that a Judge decides just to not show up that day. There are many things that could go wrong, and they’re all out of our hands. Just as in pregnancy I cannot imagine how one could not believe in an Almighty God who created us so intricately, I also cannot imagine the lack of belief in God when you need the trust and peace knowing you are going through an adoption with God guiding you through!

Once we pass court, Isaiah is officially our child! And then we just get to go pick him up… well, I will need to stay home with Baby Girl while Dust picks him up and takes him home!

We are currently (over-anxiously) awaiting the arrival of both of our children. We have been told we’re crazy for inviting the chaos to come, but know that it was all part of God’s plan for our lives and that we’ll be able to handle it all (maybe not graciously at times, but we’ll handle it nonetheless). We have been blessed beyond belief in our adoption and pregnancy and are so grateful that God is choosing to grant us virtual twins to raise (they will end up being about 6 months apart)!

The Lord has led us both in separate ways to adoption and I am so glad He did, I feel we were let in on a secret understanding of just a little bit how God feels about us as His adopted children!

After we have both of our kids home I have my work cut out for me… not only in the raising of our new children, but also in convincing Dust that 3 natural and 3 adopted children may be just a bit too much to think about! :) At least for now… we’ll have to wait and see how big our family will get, you can’t ever put a limit on God, especially if He calls you to it!

Monday, September 18, 2017

My Idol

Honest moments here.  For a long time I had a certain idol in my life.  It was pervasive and constant and always around me.  I liked it's presence, I wanted to be around it, I enjoyed the attention I got back from it. I turned to it first for advice, consolation, strength, and love.

Except that "it" was a person, my husband.

For a long time in my marriage, I was fearful of what I would do if Dusty ever died. I just could NOT imagine my life without him all while I was cutting God out of it and replacing Him slowly with my husband. God honors marriage, He does, but not when it overtakes the place in your heart specifically designed for Him!

This acronym from childhood always plays in my head:
J - Jesus
O - Others
Y - Yourself

I was not submitting to JOY in my life, I had tweaked it to YOJ. I desired earthly pleasantries and joys instead of looking for my joy from Heaven.  I selfishly created Dusty into an idol which did neither of us any good.

Needless to say, since then I have correctly placed my husband (in my life and in my heart) right where he needs to be, number 2. My awareness of my idolatry brings me back to the 10 Commandments--commandments which I will always fall short of but will strive ever so hard to (impossibly) perfect.

"You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in Heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." Exodus 20:3-4b (NIV), emphasis added

Even your husband can become your idol. Be daily aware of how Satan will try to slip things past you until you start eliminating God and raising up your idol above HIM (whatever or whomever that may be).

Do NOT let what was meant to be a Godly union be twisted by Satan by shoving God aside in your life.  Be aware that anything and anyone can fill that slot if you allow it.  It was my fault that happened, and it is well within my control to ensure it doesn't happen ever again.

I have a stronger marriage now than before as I have recognized and applied what God desires for a marriage.  I have learned what unconditional love looks like from God so I can then apply it toward my husband.  I have learned to turn to God first and then my husband after.  I have learned to begin my day with God and then will communicate with my husband.  I have learned to seek God for comfort in what life throws at me, so I can turn to my husband and share how I have been comforted.  I have leaned on God so I don't lean on my husband expecting him to save me.

The sanctification process has taken years to uncover and develop, I was not a quick study.  I am very grateful that God blessed me with grace to get me to the point I am today.  He has truly guided my steps so I see that I should have no other gods before Him.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Grace

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings,

who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

"Your God reigns!"
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the LORD returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.

Friday, September 15, 2017

R and F, baby!

Are you curious why the title for the blog anyone? Why the repentance AND faith? Let me explain why....

It seems to me in our modern day evangelical state of witnessing, our prayers of acceptance of faith in Jesus into our lives (the "Sinner's Prayer") can be quite deceptive.  Before you attack, listen to my explanation. In and of itself, the acknowledgment of yourself as a sinner is not what the Bible says is needed for salvation, but it IS most certainly a step.

I would like to point you to Jesus' ministry of witnessing to people, it was nothing if not riddled with absolute love, all while presenting the necessity of continual repentance for breaking ALL of God's commandments. This stems from the entire Old Testament and the Israelites and this branches into our lives, not only in the ways we sin but showing us that we have been granted opportunity upon opportunity to also learn from Jesus' words and learn from the past mistakes of others.

Jesus would always lovingly let people know that they have done wrong, they aren't inherently good people, and that they need to repent.

If you polled random strangers to ask if they think they are a good person, almost everyone will answer that they think they're a good person. A "good person" does not need a Savior. Why would a "good person" need Jesus? Why wouldn't a "good person" go to Heaven, when they feel they are good enough? Who needs to humble themselves if they're a "good person", or throw off all pride to get down on their knees to ask for forgiveness? How in the world is a "good person" bad when their relevant truth and beliefs don't tell them that?

(As an aside, here is a fun little quiz to take to see if you ARE good enough according to God's standards... and if you ARE good enough to go to Heaven.)

The sinner's prayer acknowledges your sin and need for a Savior which is great, but please ensure that they are not empty words, you need to follow it up with a fully repentant life-your heart will guide your actions and your thoughts when you truly seek God.

You view sin differently after you repent, you don't enjoy living in sin, you cannot stand sin, you pass it by and don't even look over your shoulder with longing, you're excited about renewing your mind with Godly things, and you just plain hate sin! We all know that even Satan professes Jesus' name, so next time you hear someone say the Sinner's Prayer please further encourage them to go onto the next step for true forgiveness of their sins.

In light of all that, I ask you, when you became a Christian and as you daily walk with God, if you have had a different outlook on sin and it's effects on your life and your relationship with your Creator, your grace-grantor, your GOD? And if not, I think you know the next step to take.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Personal Struggles

My mind has wrestled itself now for quite some time on one specific issue.  I can't completely grasp the concepts surrounding it so I am failing at understanding it. So let's dive in.

Two of my favorite theologians are A.W. Tozer and J.C. Ryle.  They would be deemed "conservative" Christians in today's terminology.  I liken them more to unashamedly Biblically based.  They both speak the truth of the Bible without mincing words.  Very direct. Very truthful.  Very convicting.  Very Biblical.  (Some say Facebook holds little value or purpose but I look forward to reading their quotes every morning and I end up 'liking' about 95% of them. If you wish to follow them as well, here are the links: and

A majority of the quotes have to do with: being a true follower of Jesus, it is a very narrow road, the truth of the Bible will separate and divide, you need to stand up for God's truths even if it's not popular or loved ones ridicule, etc.  These wise words reinforce that it will be a lone journey between you and God of living your life in right standing according to His Word.  It is refreshing to hear those reminders. I wrote someone a letter awhile ago and stated that never in my journey through this life would I have imagined that the hardest stances I would have to take would be against those I was closest to. I had assumed and expected we were believing the same truths of the Bible, living those out, living life differently than the world,  and living with similar motives.

I was wrong, and that was a hard lesson to learn. I rather enjoyed my naivete of choice to not clearly see the errors and sins surrounding me (both in my own life and in those around me). 

I knew I sinned, but I didn't realize I was wretched to the core.  That my thoughts were so corrupt, that I even had evil intentions.  It took for my pride to be stripped away before the ugliness of sin in my life was made known to me.

Now, I know I sin, I know my sins.  I'm aware of a lot of them thanks be to the Holy Spirit residing in me and cleansing me daily.  And I'm praying that more and more they are revealed for the ugly vileness that they are. I repent of what I know and don't, but overall for how wretched I am.  I am nothing without Christ.  And if I'm not actively moving away from sin and toward God, then I am not living a repentant life.

But that isn't the case for all who attend church.  We started making stands to put up protective barriers around ourselves, our marriage, and our children, yet we were attacked for that. The slander that has been relayed has been hurtful and disheartening, especially during a period of time when the Holy Spirit was preparing a dwelling place in our hearts and cleansing us from the inside out.  It was emotionally exhausting, which then made it incredibly disheartening to hear words, attacks, angry looks, passive aggressive facebook posts, whispered comments... the attacks kept coming from those who knew not the fullness of the situation.

We have been advised by the Bible to let our light shine.  Truly wise people know there are two sides to every story and to not make a judgment call based on only one side. But it seems majority opinion floats on the boat of which side they have heard from first. A judge would be flogged and ridiculed if that was how they led their courtroom. So our character should shine through and people should be able to discern if something they are hearing about us doesn't jive with what they know to be true about us.

And that is where my struggle lies.  I struggle with where that all falls into place when dealing with this in this life, on the one hand I am okay with the negativity now surrounding my name, because Jesus said this walk would not be easy but on the other hand, it's still hard... and how do you also be a light? If this walk is supposed to be so narrow, then how can it also be that you will be such a light for others if what is being said about you is not true?  How can you live as a light while your name is being torn to pieces by those who claim to love you?

I remain conflicted, but eager to learn so I pray for continued unity with my husband, peace, wisdom and direction.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spray paint your lawn

In my husband's industry, he works with his teams to design, build, and maintain outdoor landscapes.  We feel as though we have seen all the gizmos and gadgets, the tricks of the trade, the smart ideas, and the not-so-smart ideas.  For me, there is one that has always taken the cake.

Grass Paint.

Yes, it's a thing.  It's not that I can't see the use in it, we have even recommended it in the past where it was a worthwhile investment for our customers as they celebrated a special occasion at their place.

It is the metaphor I associate with it that intrigues me.  When I see grass paint, it represents the covering over of what something truly is to look more presentable.  To me, it symbolizes the cloak of the modern day pharisees within our churches. God knows our hearts, and He will not be mocked.  So when we put on a fake persona of holiness, speak Christianese to those around us, or live with hatred of others in our hearts; know that you may hide it well from those sitting next to you in church, but you have already been found out.

What grass paint is designed to do is literally paint your grass a rich, green color. Imagine taking off your shoes to step onto that beautiful patch of lawn to relax only to be stabbed repeatedly in the feet by the hardened blades beneath.  It adds a facade of beauty to what is ugly.  The blades have not changed at their root, they are still the same, but are masquerading now as healthy and beautiful.

So to it can be with our lives. It is a dangerous position to actively put yourself in and choose to live by the world and not truly for God.  Your heart can be ugly while your outward persona is beautiful and desirable.  Please check yourself and examine your own life against the Bible to ensure you are not merely living behind a cloak.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Attachment in Adoption

{This post was written years ago; a mere three months after our oldest two were both home in our arms.}

For a child who has been adopted into a family, it takes a bit of time before their attachment to the mother solidifies. Bonding happens quickly, but attachment takes time.

They say that if you double the amount of time (for a baby, it is different for older children) in less than ideal care (foster care, orphanage, etc.) then that is approximately the length of time it will take for your child to bond with the primary caregiver (usually the Mom)! So... we are 3 months into our attachment with IZ: some days I do really well, others are harder when Gabs needs more attention. In the very beginning, we followed the advice of (many) others who had gone before us and limited interaction, holding, feeding, changing diapers, etc. to only Dust and me to really ingrain who his primary caregiver now is! It is hugely important to establish this at the getgo! Now, in the process of doing so, we had to hurt people's feelings... unintentionally of course, but it was in the best interest of our son so it had to be done. When you think about IZ being only 6 months old and already having 4 primary caregivers that were taken away from him, it could make ya cry! His sense of trust has not been established.

When you think about a typical newborn, they are placed immediately in the Mother's arms to smell her and feel her. That smell establishes so much in that little newborn, especially a sense of trust and love that will stick with them for the rest of their lives... that is their mother (their primary caregiver). So what happens when a child doesn't stay with their birth mom? Here's a story I found that (is quite long, and also) quite self-explanatory. So to give credit where credit is due, this was garnered off of (I'll be posting more from their site in the future).

Imagine for a moment…

You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.
The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.
But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay.

But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him

Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.

Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.

More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.

The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.

You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy.

The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

This makes me cry every time I read it, but I think that attachment is such a huge issue in adoption that not everyone knows about or thinks twice about.

Monday, September 11, 2017

MIV - Most Influential Verse

Once the Holy Spirit began to reside in my heart, the cleansing began on an entirely new level. By cleansing, I don't mean a simple, "Oh, let me purell my hands because I just touched the garbage can", I'm talking "Let me scrub and scour myself clean inside and out as my entire core is corrupt."

There were specific areas in my life that all pointed back to specific sin issues of pride encompassing my heart where the Holy Spirit was to dwell. I thought I had my life altogether: our marriage, our family, our extended family, our business, our friends, etc.  After all, these were clearly a direct result of us working hard.  Except that they weren't. I didn't see it then. I chose not to see it.  I chose to live in sin.  I chose daily to uplift my pedestal so I couldn't even see God in my life.  This isn't to say I was living a non-"Christian" or immoral life; I went to church, I said the right things, I knew enough of the Bible to defend my stances.  To the world I was a Christian; to me, I was a Christian.  This life on earth was relatively easy and I intended to coast my way into eternity.  Until....

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
~ Galatians 6:7
I had stumbled upon this verse in context; I kid, clearly it was not stumbling but a very directly timed read for me.  It brought me down.  It shoved me off my self-concocted pedestal where I crashed hard.  You see, I had heard of God's sovereignty, I had read about it in the Bible, I had studied verses about it, I had claimed it as my own, I had stated I knew it--and while my head and mouth were hot with conviction, my heart was cold.

This verse represents a true acknowledgement as the life of a sinner in need of a Savior.  It represents just HOW SOVEREIGN our God truly is.  He will NOT be deceived.  You may live your life claiming His power over you, but you are mocking Him if you think you're good enough on your own merit.  God will see right through our pride, as much as we can veil it and hide it from prying earthly eyes; He will not be deceived.  He can see right through our half-truths, our underhanded comments, our jealous eyes. 

If your heart does not align fully with God and His sovereignty, I fear you are in danger of reaping what you are sowing.  The Bible makes it very clear that the way is narrow. I guarantee you, the Holy Spirit will cleanse His home, you will not be left in your sinful state but will be taught (HARD) to strive to live a ceaseless repentant life solely to glorify God through every circumstance.

Are you also claiming the world as your god?  Are you in love with your life and your material blessings?  Are you patting yourself on the back for doing good deeds in His name?  Are you singing loudly in church while silently critiquing the person standing in front of you?

I don't doubt that the Holy Spirit's timeline is different for all true believers in their sanctification process, but I also don't doubt that the pride that hinders a truly right relationship with God will be cleansed away bit by bit (not fully, as the Bible says none of us are perfect), but your life will be utterly transformed.

Again, please hear what the Word says, God cannot be mocked.  He knows everything.  He knows.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday Grace

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

[B]ut those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

 ~ Isaiah 40:28, 31

Friday, September 8, 2017

Blessings Indeed

"Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."  -Psalm 127:5a
Children, they are a blessing indeed.  Solomon's Psalm seems so well forgotten in this day and age where technology, media, and people constantly guilt us with messages that "YOU time" is most important, what matters to YOU is what should hold ultimate value in your life, YOUR feelings rule above morality and truth.  While some of those, within reason, are not in and of themselves bad (boundaries, knowing who we are and whose we are, etc.), we need to keep in mind that our standard isn't ourselves.  The Bible is the living, breathing Word of God that we are blessed enough to have available at our every whim.  So I encourage you to read the entire Psalm that this verse originates.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.  In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for He grants sleep to those He loves.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Psalm 127

When you think about a builder, you may think about the final stages of construction and them pounding in that final nail to exhibit their accomplishments.  We need to take the time to consider that a builder is not solely a finisher.  A builder literally builds the house.  He researches his plans, where to buy the right size of materials, he researches the price needed to come in at budget (or hopefully under!), he researches the wood, the strength needed for the beams, etc.  Then he purchases the materials and secures a work force. A builder has the ability to start with a concept and create a masterpiece; so, too, with us when we are building our families.

We can birth or adopt or foster many kids in our house and claim that our quiver is full. We can bide our time with them and then fling them off as arrows into the world wishing the best for them--all the while completely oblivious to what life should look like as a true Christian. We can claim that they are a blessing without counting the cost and providing a stable environment rooted in the teachings of His Word.  We can help them to knowledgeably learn without ever truly understanding in their hearts.

When I hear the word 'vain', my mind drifts to vanity, a useless series of thoughts that ultimately lead to nothing, I did not know that the root of the word stems from devastation. The Hebrew word for vain is shav'/shav and stems from the word show'/showah/shoah.  Strong's Concordance defines it, in part, as follows:
to rush over; a tempest; by implication, devastation:-- desolate, destroy, destruction, storm, wasteness.
Strong's Concordance defines vain as:
shav' (vain) stemming from show' meaning that the uselessness is to be seen "in the sense of desolating; evil (as destructive), literal (ruin) or moral (especially guile); figurative idolatry (as false, subjective, uselessness (as deceptive, objective), false, lie lying, vain, vanity.
With that meaning in mind, let's journey back to the first couple lines in Psalm 127.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.  In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for he grants sleep to those he loves.
It is no longer a passive setting in which we ought to read this.  It is very active with very real consequences to follow.  There is a personally invited destruction if we do not have the Lord as our builder; a secret acceptance, if you will, in the background of our homes encouraging a hidden life that does not silence evil, idolatry, destruction, or ruin.  If God is not our cornerstone, the house will crumble.  There has been an all too common thread among how my generation was raised to outwardly present a Christian life.  I cannot passively raise my children "in Christ" without expecting that I am inviting destruction and ruin upon my household.

Back to the builder, we remember that he starts with the small things. He starts with a piece of paper and slowly adds to his list things to do in order to build a house.  Like the man in Proverbs, it says:
"Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow." (Proverbs 13:11 NIV, emphasis mine) 
So also is this true with us as Christians, so also is this true with us as parents. We have our cornerstone, we have the Word, now we need to be diligent in training them from birth to truly follow the Lord AND His commands, to seek out in all they do to honor HIM and bring HIM glory.  No other goal should come higher than this in raising our kids.  If our children can fully grasp this concept, then morality naturally follows.

Let's start with a plan as well, the Bible, and begin to teach our children the real Truth.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dating Advice

Lately, I have come across many women who are in challenging marital stages in their lives. Oddly enough, they are usually relating to a relative (or spouse) with personality disorders.  But through that, I have come to analyze my station in life.  There was likely a .2 percent chance in my twenties that I would have the wherewithal to foresee all of what we have been through.

When my husband and I were dating, we spent nearly every second together.  We enjoyed each other immensely.  We were best friends.  He was a Christian, and I knew it by his actions, his heart, his words.  I loved that about him.  I was confident he would lead our marriage by Biblical standards if we got married.

And we did get married.  And he did lead us.  But I have sinned. He has sinned. Through it all, we seem to eventually conquer our issues though. Some issues are quickly resolved, while others are so deeply ingrained that it is taking years to heal.  But I rest assured that through it all, I see in him (and I pray he sees in me) that he learns from them, grows from them, acknowledges them, and effects appropriate change.

So whenever I am asked for advice or my thoughts on a dating relationship, I share what I know will be an indicator of the future stature of someone's marriage. A marker of a true Christian.

You need to live your life with a repentant heart.

You need to ensure your spouse-to-be lives with a repentant heart.

A proud heart can easily destroy a marriage.  I love what the Bible says about repentance.  It is the acknowledging of sin and the complete about-turn in your life to turn away from sin.  It is fleeing in the opposite direction of sin.

The majority of references of repent in the New Testament mean (according to Strong's Concordance):
To think differently; afterwards (reconsider); change the mind.

Implying pious sorrow for unbelief and sin and a turning from them unto God and the gospel of Christ.
And I can truly say my marriage will survive because I am married to a man with a repentant heart.  Again, I pray he sees the same in me.

I pray that dating couples be aware, truly aware, of what it takes to live a life of Biblical repentance and to flee from a potential mate who is not living in that accord.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

YOLO - A twisted version

YOLO.  You Only Live Once.

Not even 10 years ago this acronym surfaced and took off with young people.  I knew it to be slang for excusing behavior you wanted to pretend you had no need or desire to take responsibility for.

The thing of it is, though, is that we do only live once. During our one chance to be on this earth, we are called to be salt and light in this world.

You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.
~ Matthew 5:13-16
This set of verses trails on the ever popular Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1:3-12).  The blessings that ensue are blessings you can see in those around you--when I consider who I know that portray those qualities, it is those who have suffered through trials and come away from their anguish on the other side, truly beholden to God and His sovereignty.  It is not limited to only those, and these verses should bolster in us encouragement toward being bold in our faith, we will be blessed--maybe not in this lifetime on earth, but our reward is in Heaven.  There is no greater blessing than that, Heaven will make any persecution or suffering worth it!

When we break it down to mere points, the conclusion becomes obvious.  We need to be living our Christian lives with a YOLO mindset.  We only have one life to affect those around us and point them to Christ.  We only have one life to proclaim His Name.  We only have one life to prepare our hearts for eternity.

In the same chapter, the two verses immediately preceding the salt of the earth set of verses, we read:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
~ Matthew 5:11-12
 I don't bring this up to give you a false sense of assurance that if you get verbally attacked for defending the Word that you have arrived: that you're in, that you're golden, that your reward is waiting. It is meant to give you a foundation for the truth you are upholding.  Our goal in this life is to give God glory in everything we do and say... can you say you are upholding this in your life?

I have failed many times to be bold in my life, but it helps to remind myself that I do have one life to live so why would I not be bold in my faith; if I claim it defines me and cleanses me from the inside out, if I claim that God is my Father and I seek to give Him glory, have I not, then failed as His herald if I shy away from speaking truth?  I have succumbed to fear too often and kept quiet, hiding away what God has done in and for me.  I have been through trials in the last couple years and God has guided me through them all.  Through those trials, I have found my worth in Christ and a lot of the fear that crippled me has been washed away with my newfound value as one of His.

But... know your worth. Know your disposition. Who you are matters as we seek to honor God with our lives.  If you are terrified of speaking in public, open air preaching is likely not the avenue you should lean toward.  It is important to understand we all have our roles, we are not all called to the same area in ministry but we are all called to it.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
~ Romans 12:4-8

So I will try to remember YOLO, and my role as a herald for Him is a necessity if I claim Him as my own, which I do.
Related Posts with Thumbnails