Saturday, June 16, 2018

Reflecting on 40

Two days ago, on a warm Flag Day, I turned 40 years old.  That seems tremendously hard to believe.  I am the youngest child who was never interested in 'growing up too fast.'  I loved my Care Bears and Barbies and was not interested in boys until well into my teen years (except if you count my crushes on Fred Savage during his Wonder Years years or Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block).  Yet, here I sit at 40-all grown up with kids of my own who are also not interested in 'growing up too fast', although it sometimes seems that they are!  

My 40th birthday seemed like a good time to reflect on God's goodness and kindness towards me-I haven't deserved it, but He has granted it.  The first passage of Scripture that came to mind as I woke up on June 14, 2018 was Philippians 3.  The verses that first came to mind were 13 and 14, "But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  The Apostle Paul, the writer of the book of Philippians, was constantly looking heavenward-upward.  Earlier in Chapter 3, he speaks about what he could boast in-namely his ethnic and religious background.  He even says he could boast in being a persecutor of the Christian church and being blameless in outward conduct.  One thing he could not boast in was love.  Self-righteous people rarely boast in love.  But on that amazing day that God used to change the course of Christian missions forever, the risen Christ met Paul (then Saul) on the road to Damascus and blinded him for three days so that he could finally truly see for the first time.  This led Paul to write these words to the church at Philippi, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (3:7-8).  Before Paul's encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he counted gain his self-confidence in things that would never save.  Then he learned that all those things were rubbish in the face of the one true Savior.

Now that I am 40, it means that for almost half of my life I have been committed to walking with the Lord-far from perfectly, but wholeheartedly.  I have counted the things of this world rubbish compared to knowing Christ and God has given me glorious freedom-freedom from striving to be good enough on my own, freedom from striving to be strong enough to heal my own wounds, and freedom from striving for things from a world that "has nothing for me and this world has everything" (Caedmon's Call).  

It may seem strange that a major part of reflecting on turning 40 was reflecting on a chapter in the Bible that Paul wrote almost 2000 years ago, but if you know me at all, I hope that you know that the one thing I want you to know more than anything else in the whole world is what it means that Jesus loved you so much, He gave His life on the cross in our place for our sins and then He defeated death on the third day!  This is the good news of the Bible and I pray for those of you who have not trusted in Christ as your Savior to trust in Him today and for those who have, to walk in the glorious freedom that He gives to His children.  This is what I hope you know most about me.  I also took time to reflect on my 30's through the lens Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  The theme that came through that exercise most was God's kindness towards me this last decade.  He was kind to bring Ricky and me together.  He was kind to give us 4 beautiful, amazing, challenging children.  He was kind to never let us go as we experienced good times and hard times and a lot of times in between.  He is kind.  I pray that I can walk into this next decade living the inside-out life fueled by God's kindness for His glory-pressing on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Because God is always worthy of praise.

GOODBYE 30's...you were full and now your time is through..
HELLO 40's...your time is wide open as I await what God will do.

40th Birthday pictures...we took an impromptu trip to Nashville, Tennessee.  This went about as well as you would think an impromptu trip with 4 kids to a little hotel room would go, but it was filled with memories nonetheless!..
Breakfast in bed followed by sweet gifts from Ricky and the kids.

Enjoyed my birthday dinner at Rainforest Cafe Nashville in my new Rax (best roast beef ever made) shirt. :)

Spending time at a Nashville park with the kids.


Picture of all of us at Parthenon in Nashville.  There were replica Greek statues inside and Micah said, 'That one has his diaper off!' :)

Enjoying birthday treat at Hard Rock Cafe Nashville.  The waitress wished me a happy 20th birthday and Josiah said, "you don't look 20, you look 40."

Saw this sign up in a Motherhood store in the mall in Nashville and thought it summed up my 30's well!  When I turned 30, I was engaged to Ricky.  We got married when I was 30, had Isaac at 31, Emma at 32, adopted Josiah when I was 35, and had Micah when I was 37.  It has certainly been a full decade-not to mention numerous moves and many other major life occurrences (some good and some really hard)! 






Monday, February 26, 2018

4 Years Into Forever!

Since today is Micah's 2nd birthday, that means it has also been exactly 4 years since we landed on US soil from China with our then newest son, Josiah.  Those days are still such a blur.  Filled with so much joy and so much sadness.  Instead of taking our connecting flight from Chicago O'Hare to Washington Dulles, my Chicagoland brother Mike helped us pick up our rental minivan and Ricky and I drove 6 hours with 3 very tired, very jet lagged little ones to Louisville, Kentucky to say good-bye to their beloved Uncle Lance as he lay in a hospital room just hours from breathing his last breath on this earth.  After they said their good-byes, I drove with Isaac, Emma, and Josiah to a nearby hotel where a dear friend was waiting to help me.  Ricky stayed in the hospital with his mom for the next 24 hours plus until Lance stepped into eternity into his beloved Savior's arms.  The days and weeks that followed seemed impossible to bear.  We returned to Maryland to find a flooded house, with 2 boys that would make every second of the coming months difficult on their mama, plus a fierce little girl who persevered with a broken heart and many tears over the loss of her uncle.  It was so hard.  The word hard does not even come close to describing what those days held.  But, God was there and He sustained us.  He sustained Ricky through officiating his little brother's funeral.  He sustained me through long days and even longer nights with Josiah.  He sustained through an unexpected pregnancy that left me incredibly sick most days for months, unable to even keep an ice cube down.  We were weary and we were worn.  Then we packed up our life in Maryland and moved back to Ricky's old Kentucky home, as Ricky accepted the Senior Pastor position at Evergreen Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Less than 2 months later, Micah was born and many sleepless nights of infancy later, we sit with our 2, 5, 6, and 8 year olds, finding their niches in this new world.  When I take time to sit back and think about it, I am really proud of all of them.  Isaac and Emma cried and cried for their home in Maryland, the only home they remembered.  But, through tears, Isaac walked into Mrs. West's Kindergarten room in the middle of the school year.  God provided him a sweet best friend and year after year since our move, one child has left Mrs. West's Kindergarten class and another has entered.  God is with us and He always will be.

When I really first started to walk with the Lord halfway through college, I learned a lot about finding out what my spiritual gifts were and then living out those gifts in life and ministry.  This is a good and Biblical teaching.  But Jesus also tells His followers, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?"  (Luke 9:23-25).  This adoption journey has been so challenging.  Pursuing Josiah's heart as a parent has been no job for the faint of heart.  Motherhood in general has pushed me so far beyond any spiritual gift that has shown up on a spiritual gifts test for me.  It seems that too often, I have just wanted to follow where my gifts would take me, but oftentimes, denying myself and taking up my cross and following Jesus has taken me far beyond that comfort zone and into the corner of the house with a blanket over my head pleading for God to be my strength in weakness.  And He has and He always will.  He will answer each time I call.

If God is asking you to do something impossible today, something close to His heart, some radical act of obedience, I pray that you will follow Him.  There have been so many days with Josiah that I have felt at such a complete loss as to how to parent him and have grasped for wisdom and joy.  But I also see how that little boy who fought me and fought me and fought me night after night and day after day, has grown and flourished and is struggling to reach the potential God has for him.  Instead of sitting in an orphanage 7000 miles away, he followed his big brother and big sister's footsteps bravely into Mrs. West's class.  He can read sight words (usually while doing flips off the couch!) and carries his favorite Bible verse in his heart ("But God shows His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  -Romans 5:8), and he belongs in our family and he is a found treasure to us.  God will answer and He will provide and He will sustain His children.  He always has and He always will.

Celebrating 4 years into forever with Josiah! 
(he will be 6 in May, it has been 4 years since we adopted him)
                 Our curious, adventurous, wild, hilarious, strong-willed, goofy, brave 2 year old Micah!
                                                       Our Family of 6 last Thanksgiving!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Beautiful Sound of Being Pro-Life and Pro-Refugee

Several years ago, my musically-inclined dad leaned over to me during the singing portion of a church service and told me, his non musically-inclined daughter, 'you actually have a nice voice, but you don't sing on key.'  Believe it or not, that was a compliment.  Putting aside the fact that just singing from my heart is the joyful noise that God loves, I would never volunteer to sing a solo at church in order to spare actual people's ear drums!  I rarely sing on key and when I do, I think it is by accident.  I am what is popularly called 'tone deaf.'  I cannot hear the key.

As I sang in church this morning, it struck me how beautiful it is to listen to someone sing who truly has 'a nice voice' partnered with the ability to 'sing on key' and my heart connected that to the beauty of being 'pro-life' in the sense of caring for the unborn and their parents and also being 'pro-refugee' and caring for our refugee neighbors in our own country and throughout the world.  The title of our blog comes from Micah 6:8, a verse we also having hanging up in our son Micah's room:  "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"  In his book Generous Justice, pastor and author Tim Keller describes that verse this way:  "The term for 'mercy' is the Hebrew chesedh, God's unconditional grace and compassion.  The word for 'justice' is the Hebrew term mishpat.  In Micah 6:8, 'mishpat puts the emphasis on the action, chesedh puts it on the attitude...behind the action.'  To walk with God, then, we must do justice, out of merciful love...Over and over again, mishpat describes taking up the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor-those who have been called 'the quartet of the vulnerable'...God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we.  That is what it means to 'do justice.'"  If you look on a Bible search engine, such as biblestudytools.com, you will find almost 50 verses about God's heart for His people to care for the orphan or fatherless and dozens more about caring for immigrants and refugees.  In fact, Jesus Himself was a refugee in Egypt (Matthew 2) as His family fled for their lives from Herod, who wanted Jesus dead and mercilessly killed many boys two and under in Bethlehem and its region trying to find Him.  The Bible is clear that we must help the refugee and for those of you with security concerns about letting them in, please know that the refugee vetting process is extremely rigorous, as explained on Refugee Care organization World Relief's website:  https://www.worldrelief.org/press-releases/2016/3/2/the-global-refugee-crisis?rq=vetting.

When turning to what it means to be 'pro-life' in terms of caring for the unborn and their parents, the first passage of Scripture that always comes to mind for me is Psalm 139:13-14.  It states, "For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Simply put, I am pro-life because I believe that life begins at conception, that God knit those lives specifically in His image (Genesis 1 and 2) in their mother's wombs, and that abortion is the taking of this life and that is wrong.  It is pretty easy to 'Google' when biological life begins and learn that it begins at conception.  Some pro-life advocates use the acronym 'SLED' to explain why killing a baby inside the womb is not congruent with the belief that taking the life of a baby outside the womb is horrific.  'SLED' stands for 'Size, Level of Development, Environment, and Degree of Dependecy' (see www.sledtest.org for more details).  I also know that much of the debate today resides in not whether or not the life growing inside the mother's womb is a baby, but with believing that the mother's autonomy is a higher value than the life in her womb.  There are many, many difficult stories of pregnancies and others that just do not want a baby at the stage of life they are in and if you are in the midst of a difficult story, I would love to listen.  It is hard being a mom and I would love to walk with you through your particular struggles.  There are also amazing pregnancy care centers in this country and some throughout the world, like Care Net and also wonderful adoption agencies, like Bethany Christian Services, the agency we used to adopt our son Josiah.  You are not alone.

As a Christian, I stand with the writer of Proverbs 31:8 who wrote, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."  Refugees often cannot speak for themselves in a way that is heard by those in power.  The unborn cannot speak up for themselves.  But, we can speak for them until they are heard.  I am writing this blog by the light of the bathroom, while my oft-waking baby lies near, so I will not try to dissect why in our culture it seems that too often being 'pro-life' and 'pro-refugee' are not partnered together like a beautiful song sung by someone with a 'nice voice' who can also 'sing on key.'  However, I do hope I was able to communicate in some small way, especially to the Christian community, that these two immensely important causes should be partnered together as we seek "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God" and serve our Savior Jesus Christ who lived these truths all the way to the cross.

"He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly.  The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the way of the wicked"  (Psalm 146:7-9).

Resources:
Sometimes it is hard to know exactly how to help during this refugee crisis.  That is something I am currently praying through and seeking to gain insight in order to know how to best help.  I know that both World Relief (www.worldrelief.org) and World Vision (www.worldvision.org) are on the ground with refugees throughout the world and their websites are a good place to start.

As for the pro-life movement, Care Net Pregnancy Care Centers (www.care-net.org) are doing amazing work in caring for the unborn, their parents and the families post birth.  Avenues for Women's Health in Frankfort (http://avenuesforwomen.com/) is connected with them and is a wonderful resource.  There are many great adoption agencies in this country.  Bethany Christian Services website (www.bethany.org) has good adoption and refugee care resources.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year One in the Bluegrass

As I look back on my journal from 2016, I see that there are exactly 2 1/2 entries.  Four kids, including a baby who will certainly never win any sleep awards (if those existed, although some doctors who have crossed my path seem to think that there are!) have not lent themselves to an abundance of journaling time.  Exactly one year ago today, when I was 7 months pregnant with Micah, I drove down with the kids from celebrating the Christmas season at my parents' house north of Cincinnati and pulled into our new driveway at our new house in Frankfort, Kentucky (actually, a man rummaging through all the trash the previous owners of the house left on the curb was blocking the driveway, but after he moved, I pulled into our new driveway with the kids!).  This year has been a blur, filled with sleep-interrupted nights, helping the three older kids adjust to a life away from the only home they remembered in Maryland, encouraging my husband in his new role as senior pastor at Evergreen Baptist Church, and serving in different ministries myself.

Much of my everyday life can feel small to me as I pray and ask God to help me reach refugees and orphans and the unborn and their parents and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people around the world.  However, I know too that this everyday, stay-at-home mom life is important kingdom work that God has entrusted to me.  I hope others are pointed towards the way Jesus never leaves His church when I love and respect my husband and that I am pointing my children towards Jesus in the way I love and discipline and persevere through the power of God's steadfast love-the love the Psalmists talk about time and time again.  The steadfast love that the dictionary defines as 'unchanging, unwavering, unhesitating, unfaltering, unswerving, unyielding, unflinching, and uncompromising.'  That is amazing love.  "But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Psalm 86:15).  God abounds in this type of overflowing, unyielding love and that is the love that has flowed into my heart through faith in Christ's sacrificed blood on the cross of Calvary.  Therein lies the source of contentment and that that is how I persevere and find joy.

As I sit on the edge of this year, I am grateful for God's mercies.  Ricky has been teaching the book of Romans in our Sunday School class and the truths of this study have really struck my heart about God's gifts to me-His mercy, each breath, each of my husband's and children's breaths, how I deserve nothing, but He has given me all things, as the verse on the front of our wedding program states:  "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"  (Romans 8:32).  Obedience to God's call is never small in this world.  It is good and it matters.  God is growing me in embracing this season of my life-to watch Ricky grow as a faithful teacher and preacher of God's Word, to be grateful as my children grow and when sometimes they don't, and to pray for God to allow me to be found faithful.

May God's blessings be yours in the new year!  May you know the depth of His steadfast love;  the love that came to earth and was born in a stable to grow and die on a cross for sinners like me and you.  May you know the hope of Christ's resurrection and how following Him is worth everything.  That is my prayer for all of us.

Highlights of 2016:
-Moving to Kentucky and watching Ricky faithfully teach and preach God's Word as Senior Pastor at Evergreen Baptist Church
-Time with extended family as we now live closer
-The specific ways each of our children have grown:
     Isaac-watching him blossom as a reader and bravely walk into a new school in the middle of the year, even though he was sad and scared.  Seeing him grow as a big brother and loving his baby brother so well.  Learning to think about godly things on his own:  the other day we were watching 'The Jungle Book' and in the movie it was stated that the elephants made the jungle and he said that could not be since God is the Creator.  Loved watching him recognize this on his own!
     Emma-watching her grow into a little girl with beautiful prayers to God, trusting Him, even when she was so very sad to leave her home in Maryland.  Seeing her learn what she is passionate about (ballet and tap) and bravely go on stage to perform.  Sharing tears the night before Kindergarten and being so very grateful for all the moments we shared together before our big girl walked into school with her big brother.  She is also wonderful with her baby brother!
     Josiah-watching him work so hard to have his brain finally start figuring out how to put words together into sentences.  Seeing his heart to serve others grow and to love his baby brother with all of his heart.  Josiah's heart to pray has also grown and so has his persevering spirit.  In his first soccer game in the Fall, the ball hit off his leg and he cried for the rest of the game.  But, all of the following weeks, he was out there playing his heart out!
     Micah-from feeling his kicks to all that sickness to the birth of our beautiful baby boy.  You know when people ask if your baby is easy?  Well, he is not easy, but he is so sweet and generally happy and already has a smile (complete with a dimple) that lights up a room.  His laughter and joy has brought laughter and joy to all of us.  He is already growing up-learning to walk and climb and destroy.  What a kind and unexpected gift God gave us with the birth of our littlest one!
-And many more highlights, including good schools for our kids, growing in trusting God's plan and time and goodness, learning how to help lead the children's ministry at our church, and God sustaining through the hard days, the good days, and all the days in between.




Happy New Year from our Family to Yours!



Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Thank You to Birth Moms this Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day, I want to take a few moments to say thank you to the birth moms all around the world who chose life for their babies.  Near the end of February, God blessed us with our fourth child, a little boy named Micah.  His birth reminded me even more of how grateful I am to birth moms who endure the challenges of pregnancy and birth to give their child the gift of life.  My pregnancies are mostly miserable-filled with so much sickness that the term ‘morning sickness’ is a serious under-exaggeration of what I endure well past the end of the first trimester.  I know other moms who have persevered through much more serious maladies than I have to make it to that beautiful moment when their child is born.  Some of these moms have gone through this knowing that they were going to make the brave choice of giving life to their child and then placing their child in another’s care. 

Since Micah was born, I have thought of and prayed for Josiah’s birth mother more often.  I will probably never know what her pregnancy was like.  Did she have morning sickness?  Was she exhausted?  Did she also have another little one to take care of while enduring the demands of pregnancy?   I don’t know, but I wish I did.  Was Josiah’s birth an easy one or was she is labor for hours upon hours?  Does her body still bear scars of pregnancy and childbirth?  Did she breastfeed him for the short time he was with her?  Did she name him?  Was his birth father there?  I don’t know, but I wish I did.  What I do know, is that she loved him enough to put him down in a place where we were able to get to him, even though we were 7000 miles away at the time of his birth.  This is what I will always tell Josiah when he asks me about his origins.  I will tell him that God placed him in our family as a precious gift and that his birth mother loved him enough to give him that opportunity. 

Now, Josiah is a proud big brother to Micah.  He loves to hug and hold him and is overjoyed when Micah smiles at him.  I am grateful Josiah’s birth mother has allowed us to have these moments.  Of course, not all moments in a family are this sweet.  Some are sad or difficult or filled with making it through a 3 year old’s frequent struggles for power.  But, they are all worth it and are all part of being a family.


In closing, I want to publicly say ‘thank you’ to Josiah’s birth mom.  Thank you for this beautiful, curious, strong-willed, smart, extremely energetic, and precious little boy.  And thank you to all of the other birth moms out there who chose life for their precious babies.  Thank you for the gift of the children you carried in your wombs.  Thank you for enduring whatever you endured in pregnancy and childbirth to bring these beautiful gifts into the world.  “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).
Proud Big Brother holding his little brother at the hospital!

Brothers Forever!

Our Family of 6 this Mother's Day after Micah's Baby Dedication at church! :)



Monday, July 27, 2015

When Baby Makes 6...And That's What You Had Planned

As many people know, recently, videos emerged on the Internet showing Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the sale of aborted baby organs and body parts over casual meals.  They call this 'fetal tissue' and say it is for 'scientific research' and there may be disputes over just how much money is being made (or not made) over these 'transactions', but no one is disputing that they happen.  Babies, some well into their second trimester of development, are being aborted out of the mothers who are sustaining their lives and then subsequently have vital organs cut out of their tiny bodies and sold to researchers.  This is horrifying and heartbreaking to me, but the horror especially resonates with me right now because the day before Father's Day, we very (very) unexpectedly found out I am pregnant (due date is February 26, 2 years to the day we came back to the United States from China with Josiah).  While amazing, this was a very overwhelming moment for me.  I cried for two days.  The fact that we already have a 3, 4, and 5 year old in the house is a constant reminder of just how much children ask you to give-everything!  And it is really, really hard.  My Father's Day began with throwing up in the shower, just the beginning of weeks and weeks and weeks of miserable and severe pregnancy sickness.  And it is really, really hard.  But, as I listened and read about these babies' lives ending, on purpose, before they barely had a chance to begin, I am reminded that God is the Authority on life, not me.  He is the One who knit these lives in their mother's wombs (Psalm 139) and made those heartbeats start (our baby's heart started to beat just 2 or 3 days after I found out I was pregnant) and no organization or doctor or mother is the ultimate authority on taking another's life.  It only took about 14 hours after I found out I was pregnant to start getting sick-because a true life was already there, taking and taking from me so she or he could continue living.

Like the title of this post states, we did not plan on having another baby (we were open to adopting an older child in the future, but did not plan on starting all the way from the beginning again!).  In fact, I felt like shouting from the roof tops when Josiah turned 3 that we were finished with the baby and toddler stage!  I love my children, but the pregnancy/infant/toddler stage is very difficult for me.  Anyone who truly knows me, knows I have never been good or natural with young children!  I am reading a book right now called The Color of Grace by Bethany Haley Williams in which she talks about the amazing therapy and rehabilitative care she and her organization Exile International are giving to former children of war in Africa.  She is doing the exact thing I set out to do when I decided to get extra schooling for my counseling masters 8 years ago.  But, a baby puts most plans I would have in moving towards that calling on hold.  (Side note:  her organization is doing amazing things to help former children of war and I recommend checking out her website to see how you can be involved:  www.exileinternational.org).  Nonetheless, like I said earlier, God is the ultimate Authority on life.  He is the Author of life and if He has given us this child as a gift, for however long He has the days of our child to be, then I trust He will give us strength and wisdom for this calling.  In her book, Williams quotes Mother Theresa as saying, "I never look at the masses as my responsibility.  I look at the individual.  I can love only one person at a time.  I can feed only one person at a time.  One.  One.  One."  As I read those words, thousands of miles away from the life saving work she did in India and from these amazing surviving and courageous children in Africa, it encouraged my heart to know that loving this baby is my responsibility.  To speak up for him or her.  But what about the babies who have no one to speak up for them?  I hope our baby's heartbeat speaks for them too.  I hope that even now, God's different plan for our family than we had will speak life and light into this world.  Please consider the truth that no one needs that beating heart more than the baby in which it resides, just like the heart I beautifully saw beating today on our baby's 9 week ultrasound.


Friends, if you are pregnant and contemplating having an abortion (or know someone who is), please contact your local pregnancy care center (we have CareNet here in Frederick, MD) or me or a trusted friend.  Every day I am grateful that our precious, rambunctious, mischievous little boy Josiah's birth mother chose life for him.  If you have had an abortion and struggle with that decision, I hope these words do not feel condemning to you.  I hope and pray that you know that there is hope, redemption, and healing found at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.




Josiah is wearing Isaac's 'gege' shirt.  'Gege' means 'big brother' in Chinese. :)  What a blessing that this little boy gets to be a little brother and a big brother!

Okay, so I know ultrasounds can be hard to decipher, but that is our littlest one in the middle of the oval.  His/her head is to the right.  The baby is looking right at the camera (did not pick up this skill from his/her big sister!) and his/her body is to the left, with arms out at the sides.  It never gets old seeing and hearing that little, precious heartbeat.  Amazing. 



Monday, April 13, 2015

Let Me Be Singing When the Evening Comes

One of my favorite parts of any day when I am driving in the car with my kids is when we sing Matt Redman's '10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)' together.  The days when everyone sings and no one is complaining or whining or talking over the song sometimes take my breath away.  "Bless the Lord, O my soul...worship His holy name.  Sing like never before, O my soul, worship Your holy name.  The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning, it's time to sing Your song again, whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes..."  Sometimes after a really, really hard day, I especially think of the line 'let me be singing when the evening comes.'  Last night, I was walking Josiah home from church (I use the term 'walking' loosely...mostly because he was 'toddlering' me most of the walk home.  If you have a toddler, you know what I mean.  You know, making his body like dead weight and then laying down in the middle of the sidewalk instead of actually walking) and I started singing this song.  I think some of the people I passed on the way thought I was crazy, but I know God was walking with us.  He saw me struggling to walk the several blocks from church to our house and never once did He say the things I sometimes say to myself in moments like these.  He didn't tell me I was a terrible mother or that I was messing everything up.  He didn't become angry, like I often do in moments like these.  He saw us and He walked with us.

Through many of the trials of motherhood the past 5 1/2 years, I have asked God if He sees me.  If He sees me struggling and barely holding on and questioning Him entrusting me with my three children.  But, in the midst of praising Him, He reminded me that He is indeed always with me.  Sometimes that is the greatest encouragement we can remember as parents.  We are not alone.  On our walk home last night, Josiah was upset because I wouldn't let him walk with his bare feet on a part of the sidewalk that was covered with broken glass.  I carried him over it.  I protected him because I could see the big picture that he didn't understand.  And that is what God has done for me on this journey of motherhood, even in the moments I have tried to 'toddler' Him!

On Easter Sunday, Ricky had the privilege of baptizing Isaac.  This was a beautiful moment as Isaac made an outward profession of faith in Christ that he first made inwardly in his heart in our kitchen.  Isaac and I have had our struggles along the way too.  There were times and books and people who seemed to point me to the truth that I was indeed messing everything up.  But, take heart, God's Spirit is much bigger than our mistakes and He is working!  As we have told Isaac about God's love for him demonstrated in the truth that 'while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' and that Christ defeated death on the 3rd day, God's Spirit has worked to implant that truth in his heart.  It was never up to us.  Every day has been about God's grace and mercy towards us and He has been merciful to reach Isaac's heart.

These two examples may seem worlds apart, but my greater hope in thinking through these events is to encourage those who are struggling today.  I wish I had all the answers for the moment by moment struggles of parenthood or singlehood or whatever struggle you find yourself in the midst of today, but I know God walks with His children.  I know you are not alone.  I know He sees you and that He loves you.  I know He is worthy of our praise and I hope that no matter what passes, we will stand together 'singing when the evening comes.'


Josiah's sweet smile on the other side of the struggle.

Ricky and Isaac preparing for Isaac's baptism.

Emma and I have had our fair share of power struggles too, but I want to note some sweet moments from her encouraging heart.  Sometimes she will tell me, 'you're beautiful, Mommy' or 'you are a beautiful Queen' or 'you're a precious treasure, too' and I don't want to let those moments pass from memory because sometimes it is easier to remember the discouragements.  It is important to carry these moments of encouragement in our hearts.