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Monday, November 23, 2009

291 Reasons to Say Nice (and True) Things to People

I'm a people person to the core. That is not to say I typify a people person, (sometimes I can be introverted and reserved, shy even.) only that I value relationships above anything else.

People are some of God's best gifts! One of my favorite things to do is to thank God for his handiwork in making people. I love to take attributes that I enjoy in others and thank our Creator for them. I think God enjoys this act as much as I do.

I discovered something about myself a few years ago. I realized that I have an ability to express my emotions with ease and that it would be beneficial for me to take my inward act of thanking God for people and make it a bit more public.

It rarely costs me anything to give a compliment, in fact I enjoy it. I never flatter. I have only trained myself to say what I naturally believe to be true. It seems so silly to me that I should ever withhold a kind word from anyone who might benefit from it in some small way. And so I have given myself permission to speak my mind freely in all matters concerning the positive attributes of others and my emotional fondness for them. I assume that the Maker of my BIG mouth has a purpose for it and that purpose is to use it in a way that honors Him while blessing others. So, I use my mouth often. I'd say as often as I can. (wink, wink) My intention is to love Jesus by loving others through words (at least. But not only).

This week I've felt God nudging me over and over again to consciously apply my efforts toward continually thanking Him. I tried to do this for as much as I could think of. I decided on a whim early this morning that I wanted to write each of my Facebook friends and express my gratitude for having them in my life. I have 291 friends on Facebook which meant that I would be typing out 291 personal notes. No copy and paste garbage for these precious folks.

I have been more blessed by this expression than I ever could have imagined.

As I took time to think about each person on my friend list I was blessed to recall the richness they have personally brought to my life. Fond memories, shared struggles, common bonds all came flooding back to my mind resulting in a deep and satisfying gratitude toward God and a genuine worship of Him.

But, it's just like God to never to be out-given. He's placed so many truly wonderful friends in my life that they all began writing me back and sending me kind words to bless my socks off. Thus they increased my thankfulness and joy a million times over.

Glory to God!

2 Corinthians 9:6-15*
*I know this passage is speaking about financial giving but I believe it applies to the kind of giving I referred to above; That kind of generous expression of good will and love toward others. I am also reminded of Galatians 5:22

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Friday, November 20, 2009

So Thankful

Who says miracles don't happen? They're crazy.

People, I haven't written to relay our good news, because, well, I've been speechless for a while now. I've been treasuring things in my own heart. I've been enjoying thanking God quietly, just between the two of us but I can't keep quiet any longer. I have to share our wonderful news.

Between the donations we received for the garage sale, some generous Paypal donors and some Just Love Coffee sales together with the generosity of certain married couple who are humble and extremely generous donors the Lord has provided for our dossier submission fees. ALL of them.

*GASP* I can't even believe I am able to type that sentence out!

Who does that kind of thing?

People who care about orphans more than they care about themselves. That's who.

We are so humbled. It's hard to find the right words to express the amount of gratitude we feel for such gifts. It won't keep me from trying, though! It's super important to us to make sure people know just how much we've benefited from the faithfulness and support of others. We couldn't have done this alone.

What more is there to say than THANK YOU!? Thanks to all of you for loving us and for loving A* even while you don't know him yet! Thank you for living life with your eyes, hearts and hands wide open and with a willingness to live a faith that bleeds. WE. LOVE. YOU.

Thank you God our Provider for answering our prayers in an unmistakable and unexpected way. May You receive ALL the glory, honor and praises You are due!

We are still saving for our travel fees and airfare but are confident that we are able to cover those expenses quickly. I feel as if a weight has been lifted off knowing that money will not prevent A* from coming home in a timely manner.

This is another door flung wide open to prepare the speedy arrival of our second son.

I'm in danger of becoming a broken record but I have to say it one more time: God provides for special needs kids and the families that endeavor to rely on Him to meet their needs!!! If you are a family that is standing on the edge of taking a leap of faith for a special needs child I encourage you to keep praying for God to move mountains and watch what He does!

Galatians 6:2- Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

John 13:35- By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

1John 4:7- Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

John 13:14- A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another.

Our official theme song for this adoption:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Okay, We're ready now!

We met with some of the team at the Bill Holt Clinic today. They will be treating A*'s HIV.

The Doctor was so gentle. There's no other way to describe her but that she has a sweetness about her that I imagine translates extremely well with children.

The one nurse I was able to meet was very informative and supportive.

Together they informed us of what to expect and how things will progress when A* comes home.

As we slid into our private elevator Dustin and I waited until the doors closed to begin sharing our excitement and thoughts about the meeting. By the time we got to the ground floor Dustin looked at me and said,"I'm ready"

I responded with the redundant "For what?"

"For A* to come home!"

My thoughts exactly.

PS- As I type this our SW is typing up our Home Study. I know this because she's emailing me with questions about the proper spelling of our doctor's names, etc., as she types. If she can get this thing submitted before the end of the month we hope to have the HS back before the end of Dec (which may or may not be realistic with the holidays). Then, we can submit our dossier and it should be in Addis Ababa before the end of Jan.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Books for Kids with HIV

I was just made aware of these books published in Canada for children living with HIV/AIDS. I plan to purchase two of the titles- Hope, Wishes, and Dreams, as well as Bye-Bye Secrets. I'll be sure to review them here once I finish them.

I've been discouraged to find that there are few books written for children living with HIV/AIDS. If anyone has suggestions for children's books on the topic I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Taste of Fall

Today I'm making one of my favorite seasonal dishes. If you like pork chops and apple sauce then this slow cooker recipe is bound to please.

Harvest Pork
2 cups Apple Cider
1 1/2- 2 lbs Pork Loin
2 Large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 whole butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I use about half of that)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage

Heat 1 cup cider in hot skillet and sear all sides of the pork tenderloin.

Season pork with salt & pepper. Add pork and juices to slow cooker. Add second cup of cider to slow cooker.

In a bowl combine apples and squash with raisins and seasonings and toss well.

Cover pork with apple/squash mixture.

Cook low for 5-6 hours. Makes 4-6 servings

To serve: Slice pork thickly and serve topped with apples/squash mixture

I like to serve this dish with a side of mashed potatoes. I use the left over juices to make a tangy-sweet gravy. If you need more liquid for gravy simply add chicken broth. The key to a yummy gravy, in my opinion, is lots of pepper. It balances out the sweet of the cider.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The Bible teaches us the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1- Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Not to qualify the language of that verse, but I like to include in my mind the thought that I ought to be actively taking steps in my life that are congruent with my sure and certain faith. In other words I like to recall to my mind James' counsel on the subject:

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

~James 2:26

James' point was highlighted for me recently in an unexpected way.

My mom and I were in a cafe enjoying each other's company when she asked for a full update on all things concerning her eldest child. As I recounted for her all of the great need Dustin and I had, and all of the many trials we were facing my heart grew heavy. Her first response was, "Wow, that's alot!" She immediately followed up with, " I can't wait to see how God works through all of this!"

In that moment my conscience was pierced. Somehow, since those first weeks of stepping out in faith in pursuit of A*'s adoption I had allowed myself to feel sorry for our circumstances. And in my feeling sorry for myself I had allowed my faith to slip off track. It wasn't just that I didn't verbalized things in the same way my mom had, it was something deeper. I was no longer moving forward expectantly, actively looking for God's glory in the situation.

I wondered how my thoughts and emotions could translate into faithful deeds during this time of testing? For if they couldn't would my faith be genuine at all? I wondered even further: How could I go from telling anyone who would listen that Dustin and I were full of confidence in God's future grace for our family and His sustaining provision to wrestling hard with feelings of discouragement?

Talking the talk and walking the walk.... well, you know which is easier.

In that very moment I came to believe God was demanding some deeds out of my professed faith. I became very aware that there is a very fine line between lamenting and grumbling for me and I didn't want to cross it. I knew the Holy Spirit was pointing me toward being very careful about how I chose my words as I relay our current struggles in the future. Why? Because Matthew 12:34b says- Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

My mother's inadvertent statement of faith that God would work through all of our difficulties stood in cheerful contrast to the dim emotions I had been feeling deep inside and was convinced was bubbling up through my speech.

Since that lunch date with my mom I've worked hard to express my faith through deeds by tempering my thoughts and speech with thankfulness for blessed opportunities to walk this faith walk.

I'm not here to say that expressing anything other than a chipper expectancy that God will work all things together for a person's good is what is required of anyone facing trials. I'm simply saying that, for me, my faith expressing itself through deeds happens to require that I make constant deliberate decisions about how I will frame my circumstances in thought and verbalization. For, how can I say I'm confident in God's future grace out one side of my mouth and then say woe is me out the other side? Either God cares deeply about me or He doesn't.

I'm happy to tell you today that I am grateful for God's redirection of my attitude. He has shifted my focus off of our circumstances at present and on to Him. His gift to me in all of this is Himself and the comfort I find in knowing Him. I love that God is able to shepherd me even when my emotions wander off on a tangent. His faithfulness is so comforting!

Through these trials, while all the strings are still left dangling, and the questions are yet unanswered, God is refining mine and Dustin's faith and developing our perseverance. That's a good thing. And so, I'm still working hard to:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4

*In an unrelated note I wanted to tell you that is offering free downloads this entire month of John Piper's Desiring God audiobook. The coupon code is DG2009. (just enter the code at checkout)

I've just begun the book but can tell you that I already love it. There is a lot to process and pray through.