Friday, July 30, 2010


God has been opening our eyes.  And filling our hearts.  I'm not going to make much comment on what I'll share with you in this post, as it really speaks for itself.  I know that these are hard things, but I know that sometimes it's tempting to think it would be easier not to know.  But there is so much more joy in standing right where He wants us to stand, even if it's not pretty or easy or clean.  In fact, I find that I really just want to turn my eyes away from much in my life that seems pretty and easy and clean, because it distracts me from the infinitely more glorious things that He has for me.

The following link is to a post written by an adoptive mom who traveled to Ethiopia to work with "the least of these".  She was doing mission work with Ordinary Heroes, and spent some time in a place called Korah, which is in Addis, the capital of Ethiopia (where Jim and I went to bring Gracie and Little Man home).  Korah is basically a dump, and is home to an estimated 130,000 people.  I know it's a long post, but I'm hoping someone will take the time to read it.  And to pray about what God might want your eyes opened to.
Here's the link:

And here's a video of Korah and of the hope that God can bring out of despair...through people who open their eyes.

Proverbs 24:12
Once our eyes are opened, we can not pretend that we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and hold us responsible to ACT.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reality Check

Well, this should be an interesting post.  If any of you find blogs somewhat annoying because it seems they show a skewed picture of people's lives (leaving out the messy, unflattering parts), maybe you'll like this.  I wrote the first part on Saturday.  Didn't finish it because we got the kids up and I just didn't get back to it all weekend.  It was Tiger's birthday Sunday (maybe I'll post more about that later) and the weekend was really busy.  At any rate, I am just now getting back to this, but I knew before I even opened my laptop that I couldn't really finish the post as I had started it.  Here's what I wrote on Saturday morning:

I got up this morning at 6:30.  I know, I's an hour late.  But it is Saturday.  I'm working on it.  Anyway, I got up with something on my heart.  It felt like a rock.  I came downstairs and saw Jim reading in the living room.  I got my coffee and sat down.  I tried to keep it to myself, taking sips of coffee and picking up something to read.  But then I just blurted it out.  "I miss Africa.  I wish we were in Africa.  I wish we could just get on a plane."  I was close to longing was that great. 

My wonderful husband did not skip a beat.  He looked at me and told me that what I'm longing for isn't Africa.  It's God.  It's deeper intimacy and knowledge and closeness with Him.  He's right.  We talked for a long time about Africa and about what God is doing in our hearts and in our family.  Really, Jim feels the same way I do about Africa, and he dreams of being there too.  Somehow, God had a plan to rescue Gracie and Little Man by bringing them out of Africa, but somehow He had a plan to rescue Jim and I by taking us into Africa...and beyond.  We are changed.  We talked about things that have changed in our family since we got home from Africa.  Our appetites have changed.  We don't watch TV anymore.  We hadn't had cable in a long time, but we unplugged the little black box that allowed us to receive a few channels.  We changed what we eat.  The children all decided one day that we should eat oatmeal for breakfast every day and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day in order to save some money to help people who truly have nothing to eat.  (We've kept this up for about a month now.)

I was seeing fruit from the change in our routine.  Getting up early was giving me more time with God, sweet fellowship with my husband, and allowing us to start the day together as a family and in the Word.  I was excited and longing for more.  Fast forward a few days.  The lack of sleep is still catching up to me (thought I would've caught up to IT by now).   I have struggled with insomnia for years, and often my best sleep is between 4 and 7 in the morning, so getting up at 5:30 has wreaked havoc with my normal sleep habits.  I'm still trying to go to bed earlier, but it still hasn't kicked in.  This week I have just felt defeated.  I've been irritable with the kids, and even with Jim.  I fussed at him yesterday for coming home from work and reading the newspaper when I wanted him to be helping me.  And I despised myself because I wanted to be the kind of wife who had everything all under control, and who could maintain a peaceful home and a smiling countenance so that my husband could feel free to relax with the newspaper a bit when he gets home from work.  So, I got up this morning (5:45; close but not quite my goal) feeling deeply discouraged.  This time, I sat next to Jim and again tried to keep my feelings to myself.  Again I was near tears.  Sipped my coffee.  Sighed rather loudly so that Jim would ask me what was wrong (which he did).  So I told him.  "I can't stand myself.  I just can't get it right.  All I am trying to do is to be pleasing to God; to be the kind of wife and mother that He wants me to be.  And I can't even get up early and be a good mom."  (I whined some more and cried a little, but that's the gist of it.)  Again, he came back with wise words.  He pointed out that I was focused on what "I" could do rather than what God could do.  That there's no way "I" can do any of it right without Him.  He reminded me of all that God is doing in our family, and that Satan hates it.  That we should expect to be under attack, and not expect an easy road.

He's right, of course.  And right after he said all of that he went upstairs (it was 7am) and played "Reveille" on Tiger's trumpet, as that's how he's been rousing the kids to get up in the morning for family worship.  The kids stumbled down, we heard the Word, we sang.  We actually danced around the kitchen singing with Keith Green.  (Okay, we're freaks).  It feels better.  But I know that it's not going to feel better later in the day when the coffee wears off and the day starts to wear on me.  At that point, I'll go back and read this:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

I'm going to read those words, and then I'm going to substitute some of my own (thanks to Beth Moore for that idea):  I am convinced that neither lack of sleep, or my own failings and weaknesses and junk, or the busyness of my day, or the messiness of my house (etc., etc., etc.) can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ.  Amen.

And I'm going to keep praying for sweet sleep, and I'm going to try to keep obeying even if it doesn't feel good.  But I'm going to remember that I can't do it.  But He can.

Oh, and I also will add this one more detail purely for your entertainment.  At the end of our conversation this morning, after exhorting me to trust God, etc., Jim also said one more thing (in answer to my feelings of discouragement and defeat):  "Stop it.  Stop it or I'll bury you alive in a box."  And that dubious statement was a sort of inside joke in our marriage, referring to this hilarious video we saw a few years ago.  Here it is:

There you go.  A little up, and little down, and a little funny.  That's the way my life is going.  Not so bad, really.  :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The 5:30 Club

I've set a new goal for myself this week; actually Jim and I both have.  We made a new schedule for our family, and it includes waking up all of the children just before 7am so that we can start our day with Jim leading family devotions before he leaves for work.  Our normal "family worship time" is in the evening, but we really wanted to start our day off with at least a short time of being in the Word and in prayer together.  In order to do this, though (and have time for everything else that needs to happen in my morning), I need to be up at...(gulp) 5:30am.  I'm sure some of you just don't think this is a big deal, but it is quite a challenge for me.  It's been 5 days now, and it's catching up to me.  By 3:00 in the afternoon I am dragging.  But I'm convinced that God wants this, so I'm going to push through.  My plan is to try to get up pretty early even on Saturday and Sunday so that my body keeps adjusting to this new insult accomplishment.  We'll see how it goes.

At any rate, the 90 minutes I have between my wake up time and waking up the children allows me to have a more extended time with the Lord, as well as some conversation with Jim.  And finally, if there's time, I can be on the computer.  I have to say that so far this weeks the results of this new plan have been mixed.  Though I'm excited to be up and in the Word, the family devotion time is precious, and it feels good to be ready to start the day by 7:30, I have also been feeling a little down and grumpy as the result of not getting enough sleep  (the fact that I'm getting up at 5:30 doesn't seem to be kicking in to my nightime brain, and I can't seem to fall asleep early enough).  I was needing a little encouragement, and this morning I found the following post, which I hope might enourage you as well:

It's really nothing new, but just what I needed to hear this morning.  So I'm starting my day off eager and motivated.'s only 7:30.  We'll see how it goes!

If any of you are up at 5:30, please let me know.  I'd love to think I have some company (and honestly I could use the accountability!  NOT that I want anyone checking on me at that hour of the day.  But you could always ask me later...)


Monday, July 19, 2010

A Summer Update

Is anyone still out there?  I know I've done an awful job keeping up with this blog.  I went back and counted; only 5 posts since we got back from Ethiopia over four months ago!  I'm planning on stepping things up a bit.  Honestly, it's for my accountability that I want to keep up with this blog.  I want to share all that God does in our family, but also I want to be faithful in what I am doing, and if I'm sharing it publically that just gives me a little more motivation!  We'll see how this goes; I started a new "schedule" this morning which I hope will allow me a little more time, including some time to write on this blog.  But here's the kicker...I have to get up at 5:30 am (which is quite a challenge for me).  My time with God comes first, then time with Jim, then (if there's still time) some time on the computer.  So here I am on day one (glad for coffee).

I'm not going to try to write much about what we've been doing this summer, but I'll post some pictures.  Little Man and Gracie are growing so much, and sometimes I can't believe how far we've come.  Here's a little review of our summer so far:

This technically happened before summer, but a precious friend visited from NC to meet Little Man and Gracie.  We love you, sweet friend!

This was the first day of summer, so of course the Popsicle Tree bloomed.  It always blooms on the first day of summer, and it always seems to happen right after the children go to bed.

Of course, you have to eat the Popsicles right away, in your pajamas.  Do you have a Popsicle Tree?  If not, they're very easy to cultivate.  (But very difficult to explain to a four year old with limited English.  Though to some extent, Popsicles seem to be a universal language.)

Picking peaches.  This is definitely one experience where a picture is worth a thousand words.

A day at Busch Gardens.  None of the children had ever been there, so this was a very fun "first" for everyone.

I'm learning a new skill this summer: 

Jim took some vacation time, and we were able to go camping.

Isn't this a funny picture?  I think he messed up her sand castle.  He's saying, "Who, Me?"

Yet another first; the first S'more!  (I think it was a hit.)
This was my favorite "catch"; an enormous bullfrog!
 Unfortunately, our camping trip was cut short by 6 hours of torrential rain. Still, all in all I think the trip was a success.  Even the rain didn't dampen everyone's spirits.

Hard to believe it's not even August yet!  Who knows what adventures may be waiting for us before the end of summer.  By the way, does anyone have any fun ideas about what might bloom on a "First Day of Fall" tree?  Pumpkin pie, maybe? 

By the way, I really did start this post at 6:15 this morning.  But I just had to come and finish it up at 10:00.  I'm glad I have a few weeks before school starts to hammer out this new schedule.  But I'm also glad it's July and that it's a slow, rainy Monday morning.  :)