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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movin' On Up

Since the "big announcement" of mid April -the fact that our family is posed to hit the mission field in the next six to eight months- so very much has happened. Our excitement has met with mixed reviews. Most of them positive and encouraging. Many of them laced with cautionary tales of forgotten friends who struck out for the mission field only to meet with crippling illness, dangerous criminals or larger-than-life insects! We have had friends who want to partner with us financially (we're not there YET but we'll hit you up when the time comes - ha ha) and have offered to start saving items we can take with us to share with those we will meet along the way. God's people never cease to amaze me with their first-blush reactions to news such as ours. It's no secret we have a large family. Some of our family members have ongoing needs that are well-met here in the States. We have much to weigh and balance. This decision was not made lightly as "impulsive" or "spontaneous" are not adjectives anyone would readily apply to me. Yes, The Philippines has large bugs, diseases that no longer exist in the US, plenty of crime and no Wal Mart! But far outweighing those little annoyances are the beautiful people, the children who need the loving arms of parents around them, the beauty of the landscape, the openness of the culture, and the unreached population we hope to extend a hand to. . . more about them later in the post! In just a couple of days, I am scheduled to speak on the topic of Special Needs Adoption at the Together For Adoption conference in Winston-Salem. I was asked to do this long before the chance at the mission field cropped up. I am awed at how well these two paths converge! The group our family will serve, if God allows us to transplant, is the visually impaired orphan! I expect, as has been the case in every "good thing" we have set out to accomplish, we will end up receiving the blessing much more than those we aim to serve. God has used hearing impairment, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Down Syndrome and advanced age at the time of placement to remind us that we can not do any seemingly selfless deed without being swept away in a tide of His blessings. In light of what we have experienced, we go overseas a little selfishly. We know the blessing the Lord lavishes on us when we try to serve Him. It's a "secret" the apostle Paul discussed so many times in His letters to fellow Believers.

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ" Phil. 3:8

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

It's seems so close at times, I wake up in the morning and feel like I am THERE instead of HERE. Other times, I look around at all the "stuff" we have to sell, pack, get rid of, do, change, cancel, paint, repair and consider before we can be free of this life and I get weary. God is going to have to do so much in preparation for our family to go and yet, it seems He has already begun, starting with the positive reaction from ALL of our children to the announcement! That was not something we expected and clearly falls under the "more than we ask or imagine" category!! Certain children of ours tend to lean toward the melodramatic and can, at times, be just a teeny tad smidge self-focused. Well, shut my mouth . . . everyone is on board!!!!!!

I close this little jaunt down the bunny trail with a special "PRAY FOR US" as the time clock tics, so many pieces of the puzzle must fall into place and only The Great Commissioner can bring the longings of our heart to a full-fledged, sustainable missionary life. More than we ask or imagine . . .

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Lives

I'm pretty sure I have lived two lives.
No, this is NOT a post about reincarnation, don't worry!
I am barely over the big 4-0 and yet I am quite sure I have lived two totally separate lives.

In my "first life", I had a husband, two beautiful children (one boy and one girl), a big house, a new car, plenty of debt and quite the impressive exterior. I knew Jesus. I really did. There is no doubt about that. But I shopped a lot. On credit.
I homeschooled and never missed a field trip. I was a leader in our large homeschool support group and church circle. I thought I knew more than I really did. I liked to argue doctrine with those who were charismatic, non-reformed, liberal or just off base altogether. I wanted to serve God and at times I did. But that service was limited to what I felt I could control. My husband and I were orchestrating the American dream, a safe comfortable life with a predictable rhythm in which the biggest irritations were things like the dog vomiting on the carpet or running out of coffee. They felt so big. Then.

In life number two, things are so different I hardly recognize the first "me". Yes, I still have the same husband but now we have six children. We live in a small house, our cars are older and there is no debt anymore. I don't know nearly as much as I used to about matters of doctrine and I don't care to argue them anymore anyway. I am no longer in favor of the death penalty and I understand that Jesus did not appoint me to single-handedly change the doctrinal stances of fellow Believers. I know about the poor now. I know they are real and they aren't poor because they are lazy. Not all of them. I know that I was created for so much more than living life #1. I have learned that there is nothing that matters, that has eternal value, apart from investing in other people. I found out that people in need don't want to hear the gospel on an empty stomach, fatherless, in physical pain and that God has equipped my family to help remedy some of these circumstances for just a few people. A few is good. I am learning to be content and to count my blessings. I have almost completely stopped looking at what other people have and wishing it belonged to me. I just want God to use my short little life, that has taken such a long time to resemble Him even a little, and make it count for His kingdom.

Please know I do not believe I have "arrived" or culminated in some swath of Christ Likeness that makes me better than another Believer. I haven't and I'm not. But I am so desperately in love with life #2 that I can not fathom how I tolerated life #1 for as long as I did. I love that Jesus opened my eyes to the poor. I love that He put a longing in my heart to break out of the old life and step onto the balance beam that #2 is proving to be. I adore the husband He has given me who is leading the charge to be "RADICAL" for the sake of the lost and the poor.

I love that our family is open to selling everything we can't fit into a suitcase and returning to the country of our hearts.

I stand amazed that the opportunity to do just that is before us.

The Lord will have to move mountains but He has moved them right before my eyes, just as an act of love and faith building.

We stand on the precipice of life #3. A life on the mission field. A new start right smack in the middle of our lives. With kids. All of them. We stick together. I need each one of them. They need us, too.

I don't want to be cryptic any longer but I have said all that is allowed until a few more details mesh together.

I covet your prayers. They sustain us now just like they did through four adoptions, our journey with reactive attachment disorder and all the other refining tools the Lord has used to whittle us down. And He is still whittling. We have come so far and yet have so far to go.

If you are willing to hang with us, I believe this blog is going to take a very distinct turn.... To the East....Asia-ish...

We are humbled. Again.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Good" Friday : What Are We To Do?

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

I've always found the notion of the day the Savior of the World was brutally executed being called "GOOD" Friday a little confusing. Sure, the outcome for mankind was very good, perfect in fact. Yes, the obedience Jesus modeled was nothing short of miraculous. But the pain, the suffering, the having your father turn away from you, the lonely walk down the Via Dolorosa, the knowledge that your father did NOT take the cup from you but is allowing everything to go on as prophesied, it must have felt many things other than "good" to the man part of our Messiah.

I think we tend to assume Jesus had an unusually high pain tolerance. Some scholars have theorized that the whippings alone would have killed any normal mortal and the fact that Jesus made it ALL THE WAY to Calvary is evidence of this fact. I don't know. God's word doesn't say and where it doesn't say, I hesitate to guess. I'm afraid others assume that Jesus somehow ENJOYED the pain and process of His death because He knew it would atone for the sins of mankind. Again, the Bible does not speak to any "enjoyment", only ultimate obedience, acquiescence, surrender to that which you would prefer to be taken away, far away, from you.
We forget that when Jesus took on flesh just like ours, that flesh was full of pulsing arteries, nerve endings, a spinal cord that transmits messages of pain just like yours and mine. Every whip, every step, every pulled out hair and every bitter insult were FELT, just as any human body "feels".

Please don't misinterpret this post as an emotional anthropomorphic word fest.
I would never WANT to make God like me in any way. He made that choice when he wrapped Himself in flesh and agreed to submit Himself to the human experience.

Why? Was it "all for me" as some songs so wrenchingly communicate? My reformed tendencies make me shun such a notion as man-centered and somehow off base.
But the book of Isaiah clearly says that "He was pierced for our transgression, crushed for our sins . . ." Yes, it was for me. My own personal discomfort with this idea is utterly irrelevant here.

So, what should our response be to so sacred a knowledge that the REASON for the life blood to drain from the Holy Creator of the Universe was our own sin???? What can we do? Are we to just take it in and ponder this news? Are we undone with no hope of repayment for this ultimate act? We are.

So we gratefully thank Him, we acknowledge that we did nothing to earn this sacrifice and we can do nothing that holds a candle to it in exchange. We realize how valued we are, for no other reason than that our Father just CHOSE to make us the objects of His affection and we lay our lives before Him to use as He sees fit.

We tell others, we do good, we serve the poor, we selflessly give of ourselves inasmuch as we are able with the sin sickness and it's grimy deposits coloring our deeds and we say "yes, Lord. Good Friday was good indeed"!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Plain Speak and Hidden Joy

God is up to something. I can feel it in my spirit. I can feel it when I read His word. It has taken on that extra vibrancy and speaks to me extra clearly lately.

No, we're not adopting again . . .yet . . .I don't think. I DO have a feeling that reminds me of our pre-adoption time with the Lord. There's an expectancy in my heart that we are on the cusp of some big family changes.

Are we finally hitting the mission field after my years of praying? Maybe. Only the Lord knows. Seven years ago I left a piece of my heart in Manila, among the poor, and I haven't been able to go back and retrieve it. Oh, how I have asked. The timing hasn't been right . . . so far.

I honestly can't say with perfect certainty what God is preparing us for but I know one thing: I want to take the plunge - wherever it is, whomever it involves and no matter what it costs. I just want to be where HE wants me to be doing the good works that HE has designed before the foundation of the world for me to walk in. I don't want to miss a single thing my Heavenly Father has planned.

I don't mean to be so cryptic. The few details that are shaping up are, in fact, few. Too small and too unformed to type. But I don't think they will be for long.

I'm not a prophetess . . . shoot . . . I'm not even Pentecostal (ha ha)! I'm just a Believer who is hoping that God will use me up to the very last on this ONE RIDE we get here, on Earth. In so many ways, I'm JUST a mom. JUST an ex-public school special ed teacher. JUST a housewife. JUST a homeschool parent. JUST me.

But, like you, I was created for so much more than the "justs". I was created to make a mark for Jesus. So were you. I have been warming up for a long time and I feel like the starting gun is about to fire.

I covet your prayers. I will share more when the time is right. I think it will be soon. Very soon.

Until then, dear friends, "let us reason together as to how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds" Hebrews 10:24-25.

Watching, Praying, At the ready . . .