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Monday, June 25, 2007

All we need is Love, 72 women, and a bunch of Kleenex

The women's retreat was awesome! Had such a blast!
I have no time to fill you in fully but let me just say that God was so gracious to us ladies who attended the retreat!! I have so much to chew on from that weekend that I am sure it will take me weeks, possibly months, to feel like I've digested all the spiritual food presented to us. Really Loving Well is an endless topic. It is such a lifelong journey to learn how to love others (and allow ourselves to be loved) with Christ's love!
For me this Loving Well retreat tied right back into the call to obedience I have been hearing God speak to me over this past year. I don't know how all these message quite fit together for my personal life but I am so excited to move forward and find out. God is so good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Step Two in Radical Obedience

So I know a few of us are on the same journey here. We're hearing the same call toward obedience. I figure we should just keep up our pace and continue plugging away, so here's day two of Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed. I am sure thankful Lysa TerKeurst wrote such a gem. I told ya this book changed my life!

"Whatever God says do, do it."

Have you ever experienced that urge to do something really crazy, something like, oh I don't know, adopt a child from a far away nation without any clue how you will afford it and how the whole thing will play out? You too! Awesome!

What if it's not as blatant a call. I need to confess that while I have been faithful to answer the call to adopt, I have been very disobedient about doing some other things I've felt the Lord tugging me towards in the past. You want an example? Well, once I felt that I ought to bake a bunch of goodies during Christmas and hand them all out to my neighbours with scripture attached to the gift tag. Next came the laundry list of reasons why that was a crazy idea. 1) you are no Betty Crocker, and you know it! 2) That's just weird these days! Who does that kind of thing? 3) They'd probably just throw them away 4) If they didn't throw them away they'd gag because of the awful taste, so just spare them. 5) It's a nice thing to do, yes, but it's optional. You can let this one slip by. It's no big deal.

Ladies. I am absolutely sure that I missed a HUGE opportunity to connect with my neighbours and ENCOUNTER my God. And, talk about consequences! I never did what I have come to believe now was a direct order form the Lord. I blew off the Holy Spirit. The biggest consequence of all is hardening my heart to the calling of the Spirit. Oh no! I certainly didn't intend for that to happen but it's a risk I took. You just can't ignore the Holy Spirit and not reap consequences.

Another consequence is this: My neighbours aren't very friendly with us (which, I think, was number 6 on my list... I just forgot to write that one down) and it might have been different if I had taken the step of faith and reached out to them in love. Unabashed, unashamed, gracious, outgoing, I'm gonna get you first, Christ-like love. The kind of love I know I'm called to share with the world through Christ who gives me strength. The kind of obedience that for shy (Yes, I am shy!!!!) me would be radical obedience. I hate unknowns. I hate putting myself in vulnerable situations, especially socially. This was one area of my life where I told the Lord, "Nope. Not gonna do it." It makes me so sad!

I am grieved over my disobedience. I am thankful God forgives me. I am glad, however, that He let me know deep down that that kind of behaviour is not acceptable to Him. I pray that the Lord will mature me more and more until the trend of my life is to be more obedient than not!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Call to Obedience

I had been asked by Karina if I'd be interested in hosting a summer reading group for PV when I suggested a book that I enjoyed. In light of all that we have going on lately I decided that I should sit this one out. But, I figure there's nothing keeping me from blogging about the book. It's a small little treasure I stumbled upon, who knows how, around September of last year, and let me tell you, it changed my life. It's titled Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst.

I decided I would reread this book mainly because I have experienced some radical callings to obedience in my life lately. I wonder how much I've grown and how much I've stayed the same.

I was on page thirteen when I jumped up to write you all. I just had to share.

" God reveals Himself and His activities to all of us, but very few really want an encounter with Him. Encounters cause extreme changes in our plans, our perspectives, and our personhood, and most of us hate change. In reality, though, the very act of trying to protect ourselves from change is the very thing that makes our life the boring mess that it is."

Oh, isn't it true? How many times have I listened to someone's testimony about the amazing work God was doing, maybe I even witnessed it myself, but having been on the outside of the "encounter" my soul wasn't stirred. I wasn't able to share in the moment, or the joy, fully. Oh sure, you know I said all the hallelujahs but what I was really thinking was "what am I missing?"

I think the missing link would be that personal encounter. One that probably required some action on my part. You know..... some (oh no here comes that word) obedience. Some risk. Some trust. A little of that stick your-butt-out-on-the-line cause you believe, I mean really believe, Jesus has your back kind of trust.

There's one last point I want to chew on for tonight. One that Lysa makes on page 11 before she defines for us the difference of the encounter with God and the mere observation of Him.

"They (the radically obedient) expect to see God, to hear from Him, and to be absolutely filled by His peace and joy- and, therefore, they do and they are."

Hmmmmm. God loves when we expect Him to be Who He says He is. I confess I have been expecting some small things out of my uncontainable God lately and I've gotten just what I've asked for.Not tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I declare, I expect to see my God. I can't wait to hear from Him. I will rest my weary body tonight in His peace and joy. When I rise tomorrow I will have a new song of praise!

Psalm 5:3

Romans 15:13

Ex. 15:11 "Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

Additional Reading

Our agency requires that we read 3 required books and another two each of our own choosing. I had already begun to do my own reading but now I will add to that list all of these. So here's the reading list for anyone who's interested. Amy, you'd be happy to know your suggestion is in there!

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge

Are Those Kids Yours? American families with Children Adopted from Other Countires by Cheri Register

the New First Three Years of Life by Burton L. White

The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building a Healthy Adoptive Family by Jayne E. Schooler

How it Feels to be Adopted by Jill Krementz

Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents by Deborah D Gray

Raising Adopted Children: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent by Lois Ruskai Melina

Books on adoption: $220.00 (so far)
Time spent reading in preparation for adoption: 20+ hours (so far, not including this list!)
Having some sort of clue as to how to parent our adopted son..... priceless!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

I'm not a huge birthday person. Gifts and acts of service are not my "Love Language" so I usually don't get ga-ga over gifts or a big to do over my birthday. I am never offended if someone forgets my birthday mainly because I have even been prone to forget it. This year was no different. My mom called early (to be first of course) and I asked her "What's going on?" thinking something must be wrong for her to be calling me so early.

"Happy Birthday," was her cheery response.

So imagine my surprise when almost everyone in the world decided to celebrate my birthday which is weird because 28 isn't usually one of those mile stone b-days. Loved ones sent cards, emails, and voice messages. I received no less than two cakes and a menagerie of gifts.

About mid-day during all the hullabaloo and after coming to terms with my embarrassment over all the attention (which is usually why I like the day to slip by unnoticed) and while listening to my third or fourth Birthday serenade via long distance phone call it hit me. God is sending me lots of love via all my beloved family and friends. I really needed the encouragement and I hadn't known it. Once I received all the gushing, lavish attention I realized it was absolutely the thing which I needed. All the love and support bolstered me up after being discouraged. God's hand of provision, once again proving faithful!

I went to bed feeling very special..... and thanking our Dear Lord for the beauty of the relationships in my life. Truly, it was a Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"M" to the "E", Me Me Me!

I am in tears at the moment. Whenever I am upset I simply have to write. It's the only way my thoughts ever make any sense. Whether it be my journal or this blog I write most when I am upset.

Cathartic for me. Distressing for you, possibly. But still, I ask you to come along with me as I try to process my life through the Scriptures.

Go read this.

Good. Now let's talk.

Don't you think it's neat how God got Moses' attention? A burning bush? Yea, I'd go have a closer look too. What I love even more that the burning bush is what vs 4 says. 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."

I have been praying so hard for a personal calling from God; for a "Jen, Jen" calling. I want to be able to answer "Here I am" too,

But look what I noticed the other night: What does the Lord say to Moses during Moses' personal calling?

After God reminds Moses just Who he's in the presence of, the Word says: The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

Whoa now people. Not what I'd expect to hear during MY PERSONAL CALL from the LORD if I was Moses. After all isn't it all supposed to be about me!? Where's the ME for Moses in all the Lord had to say there?

That's right. There's nothing in verses 7-10 that deals with Moses specifically. Not as far as I can tell.

Now I wish I had a better knowledge of the far side of the Horeb desert referred to in the beginning of the chapter, but I'm guessing that it's a safe distance from the slave labor that the Hebrews were performing. I wish the Bible would have told us if Moses had been praying at the time he saw the bush burning. Maybe God was coming in response to Moses pouring out his heart over the suffering of God's people..... that would be good info to know.

But, let's just go ahead and see how things would play out if we assume that this is an experience which is out of the blue for Moses; one he had no clue was at the top of God's to-do list. Let's imagine that Moses was wandering the desert and (like me) wrestling with his woes. Maybe, the moment in which we find Moses here is defined by him desperately seeking God on an intimate level, over personal needs.

I suspect my imaginings may be more the case only because of the craziness that Moses displays as he argues with God over being chosen as the leader of the Hebrews. I mean, Moses goes on arguing with the Lord about what a bad selection He has made. Not exactly the stuff of someone with a good handle on the situation.

God breaks into Moses' everyday world and speaks to the BIG picture. He comes bearing His heart to Moses, telling him He's got big plans to rescue the Hebrews from the Egyptians and guess what Mo? Those plans include you!

That's HUGE. You'd think Moses would have been ready to join right in. But, he's not.

To be honest I probably wouldn't be either... not at this moment. Not the way I feel right now, and with all the things I've been choosing to focus on.

If I was in Moses' shoes that moment here's what I would probably do: "What Lord? I'm so not talking about the Hebrews right now! I'm only talking about one Hebrew in particular and that's me. Remember me!? I'm having a bit of a hard time right now. Let's just talk about me!" (I think you get my point... or should I throw in another me?)

Here's what I'm thinking God might be saying to Moses by deliberately avoiding the ME in all if his questions: I am so much bigger than you Moses. I have plans for you. My plans also happen to include more people than just yourself. Which means you're gonna have to be stretched more than your comfortable with, because stretching is going to reveal your weaknesses but fear not because I AM.

Before I end this post let me say one really important thing. I deeply respect Moses as God's chosen leader. Moses rocks! I would not dare compare myself to Moses, cause we all know I ain't that faithful!

What I am trying to do here is relate to Moses' humanness. I think God has laid Moses bare for our study for one reason, so we can see God's glory. God shows us how Moses lacked perspective and how God gave it to him. The perspective Moses gained better understanding of what that his future wasn't going to be about him or his abilities, but rather about the Lord and all the Lord would do for him and for all God's other children.

Oh yes. It's all about perspective. And, I've had enough of my own perspective. It's been putting me in tears tonight. I want to go to bed in peace!

Lord, help all of us girls who are struggling with our inaccurate perspectives! We want to trade in our own. We seek Yours instead!! Let us look out and see with Your clarity. Amen!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Home Schooling is so much FUN!

After our first week of home school I can emphatically say that I love it! We had fun, we made progress, we haven't wanted to kill each other yet. It's all positive so far.

I have enjoyed our kids like never before. I think God has really changed my heart in the last few months which is the very reason why I can feel this way today. Not that home schooling is for everyone, but for our family it was just what was needed. Time moves so quickly and I feel that home schooling gives us back a bit more time. A little more time to grow my children's faith and character in the loving environment of our home. I feel privileged to be able to do this.

Suzanne asked about the curriculim we chose for this year. We are using the Alpha and Omega LIFEPAC curriculum and I am supplementing with some Konos activities and learning styles. For my first year I wanted something very structured and more formal (mainly because I lacked confidence and wanted something to more rigid and formal to fall back on) but I can see that as we grow more comfortable I will be able to do what many HS families do and mix and match our curriculum to suit our interests and learning styles. A custom education. What's more fun than that!?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Meant to be?

It's funny that I came across this article today when a very similar event happened to me yesterday during a conversation about our up coming adoption. I was turning over this idea of loss and gain in connection with our upcoming adoption. I was wrestling with the very reality that one family's loss of a child and more specifically our future son's loss means our future gain, when I heard the dreaded comment... "it was meant to be..." and it didn't sit well with me. The above article states perfectly what I had been wrestling with and why such a comment makes me feel sort of queasy.

Unlike a natural pregnancy, our paper pregnancy is grown out of someone else's loss, need, and suffering. When a woman is pregnant and can't afford to raise or feed her children due to extreme poverty that's not meant to be. When she dies because of an aids epidemic that's not the way we imagine God intended it to be. Sure, the hand of God guides and directs every detail of this life, but some things are just not a part of His plan A.

Adoption is never second best to a biological birth, please don't misunderstand what I am saying. To be sure it is God's loving solution- His reaction to something that has gone a wry- God's blessed way of meeting needs, mending brokenness, and healing wounds which are a result of living in a broken world full of broken people. I believe God intends for wholeness and healing. He'd much rather that happen without suffering and pain, but He can, as the saying goes, turn lemons into lemonade. Adoption is the lemonade made from a very lemony situation, so don't be surprised to see me cringe if I hear the words "It was meant to be" again.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our first day of Home School

We did it! We made it through. We completed our first day of Home School. In fact we finished way too quickly! The kids sailed through most of the activities and worksheets so I will be thinking of more creative reinforcement activities for tomorrow. Most of everything was review for Rienne so once we complete the review portion in the coming weeks I have hopes that she'll slow down a bit. Aurora did exceptionally well and proved that she indeed has a wonderful
attention span. She was highly motivated today and was excited to be an official Kindergartner!

All in all I feel pretty good. We are doing a year round format with 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off. This first 2 week break should provide a nice opportunity to reevaluate our classroom dynamics and tweak things. I am happy with the schedule I came up with. The one thing which will require work on my part is making sure we actually get out of this house more than once a week. I want to plan many more outdoor activities and field trips. This will take some careful planning (to keep it educational and related to our curriculum) and some coupon clipping.

Our daily schedule is a follows for anyone interested:

7am- Wake up, personal grooming, eat breakfast, morning chores

8am- Morning prayers, pledge, praise music, Bible class

8:30am- Language Arts

9:30- Math

10:30 Science or History for 1st grade Art/Crafts or activity for Kindergarten

11am- LUNCH

11:30- 12:30 Music, Art, Spanish, Story/Reading hour or Field trip depending on the day of week

Since I have only one day under my belt I am not confident yet that I will be able to maintain this schedule but it worked well today and in theory it should hold up the rest of the week. We shall see.........