Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A little of this & that...

So, these past several days have been quite exciting, if you will... Experiencing an earthquake, the start of the semester for seminary, first day at new school for the kids, second weekend in our facility for Imago Dei Church, Hurricane Irene, busted water heater, flooded basement, shingles (and no wonder, I suppose ;-)... a LOT of firsts. Despite it all, we had the joy of hosting new friends and fellow church planters from the Outer Banks as they spent the weekend with us for their evacuation. The girls particularly had an exciting "hurricane party"...
They made jewelry, played dolls, watched movies and shared lots of laughs. It made the "stress of the unknown" back in the Outer Banks subside. Tony and I enjoyed the fellowship of Winfield and Kay. We are grateful for their friendship and ministry!

We are also very grateful for the generosity of friends (another set of church planters, Nathan & Elizabeth) from Winston Salem who donated a rear projection screen to Imago Dei Church! Thank you so much! It did, humorously, take us a near hour to get it all set up. Ha ha... What a blessing!
My girls assisted the hospitality team as they worked on a few preparations...

Donnie & Meghan working out sound & tech... I'm personally loving the shirts: an Imago Dei Church shirt & a Defend the Orphan shirt (which, by the way, I still have a few more Defend the Orphan shirts particularly long sleeve versions if you're interested...)

Winfield Bevins sharing a little about his personal experience as a church planter... an encouraging word for us (you can listen on the livestream from the past Sunday - see the right hand column of this blog for the link)...
Monday morning was quite the adventure for me... a laugh and then cry kind of day :-)... First of all, I spent the weekend watching a painful rash spread from my spine all the way around to my navel on my right torso. Very weird. I planned a Monday morning trip to a doctor...

Our house was busy beforehand with the kids getting ready for school and the Bevins packing up to make their post-hurricane journey home... We were all running around before noticing a gushing sound in the basement. The kids opened the door and all I heard was "Mom!!! Oh no!" The adults made their way around the corner to find the water heater spewing water everywhere and about an inch of water covering a third of the cement floor. Winfield rushed to shut it off while I called Tony in his office to call facilities for help. I just want to brag a minute of the 5 minute response time of SEBTS facilities! By the time I walked the kids to school and back, they were downstairs dry-vacuuming and replacing the water heater. What a blessing! Been running a dehumidifier ever since. So grateful...

(I was trying to take a quick picture of this cute girl's pink boots she got for her birthday and was dying to wear... adorable :-)
(James is growing up. I'm so proud of him. To answer someone's question, he like his siblings had a great first day of school. He is showing a real interest right now in reading. This is exciting. Thanks for your prayers!)
I made it to the doctor and found out, as I had begun suspecting, that I have Shingles. Some antiviral medicine and some ibuprofen and I'll be as good as new in 7-10 days... (Lord willing:-) In the meantime, I'm attempting to rest a little more here and there. I must give praise in response to our Gracious God who knows our needs, satisfies them completely and who is our ultimate need meeter! God has faithfully provided and will, to which I am overwhelmed. His grace is sufficient! Makes me want to sing! I pray you may find rest in His care today too...

Have I mentioned yet, that my children are a gift from the Lord?!. :-) This was before our walk to school today. We decided to take another route this morning (longer and likely the least traveled one in the future - ha). They are all doing well so far, minus a few cavities in 4 of them! So far, just four days in, they are loving school! This particularly brings joy to my heart! I LOVE that they are at the same school and can share this new journey together. They love it too. As for the question someone asked about school uniforms: the kids don't miss them, ha. I miss the simplicity of uniforms. I think uniforms are more cost effective as well. However, I must smile seeing my son pick out his own clothes and wanting earnestly to sport his Washington Redskins tee. I know I'm back on the East Coast when there's a restaurant down the street with tons of Redskins gear. :-)
Tuesday morning, Tony had the honor of preaching in chapel at SEBTS. I'm glad I was able to make it (was questionable for a minute with the lovely slight nausea inducing meds - ha). I can not get enough of the call to pursue holiness message! He shared from 1 Peter 1:13-2:3, 11-12. May it be written on our hearts, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." My favorite (today anyways) points were his last three: 5) Preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. 6) Feast on the Word of God. 7) We must believe that Christ is better than sin!
Within a few days, the message will be up and available to view here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

1st Day of School

The kids were full of excitement today with a slight hint of nervousness...
A quick look back...
August 2010
August 2009
Look how much they've grown!

"Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!"
Psalm 103:1-3

Monday, August 22, 2011

Imago Dei Church

Sunday was an exciting day for our church family...
we were able to move from gathering for corporate worship in homes
(which has, by the way, been such a rich time together and will continue through community groups)...
... into our new Sunday morning facility!!!

Our team divided into groups in order to begin familiarizing ourselves and brainstorming ways to make our Sunday mornings run smoothly in the days ahead. Below, the worship and set-up teams are getting a tutorial in sound equipment...
A couple of our "safety & care" team received some informal security training (compliments of our good friend, JJ, who drove down with his beautiful bride, Kate, from Virginia for this special occasion... all the while, a couple of my daughters twirled in the background, ha ha...).
During set-up, several others were busy exploring the facility, brainstorming ways to do hospitality and effective childcare ministry, as well as prayer walking the grounds...
We gathered back up for corporate worship at 10:00 AM (which will be our regular time to gather once we officially launch on 9/11)...

Tony read Psalm 100..

"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his,
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the LORD is good, his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations."
We sang a couple songs and then Tony preached from Ephesians 3:14-21...
* Paul's Posture - one of humility (see Ephesians 1-2)
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,..."

* Paul's Petitions
"... that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

* Paul's Perspective
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
We took the Lord's supper together and sang of the "Deep, Deep Love of Jesus"...
We concluded our time of worship with a church covenant signing ceremony with some of our core team members...
"The church is the vehicle by which God is accomplishing His purposes in the world. The church exists to display the glory of God because all things exist for His glory. Followers of Jesus have been invited graciously into God's redemptive purposes for the world through the church. In light of this reality, the opportunity to join a local church is much more than a commitment to consistent attendance or active involvement in community. It is also a sacred call to be involved in the redemptive work of our sovereign God and to be a microcosm of the universal household of God. Therefore, we will covenant together to fulfill these purposes and hold one another accountable to this high calling." - an excerpt

We sang one final song, Mandi Mapes' "We are the Body" (which I recommend to you :). We shared many tears of joy in humble celebration of what God has done, is doing and will do. May He grant us much grace as a church in the days and years ahead receiving all glory that is due His name! What a mighty, gracious, loving, merciful God we serve!

(Eyasu & his fellow Ethiopian born friend, Abraham, after worship - adorable)
A brief snippet of worship singing Matt Papa's "O Fount of Love" (if you have not already, order his "This Changes Everything" CD... anointed, rich lyrics, sound theology and great musicianship)
Thank you for your continued prayers as we seek to reach Raleigh and the ends of the earth for the glory of our great God! Keep up with us at: www.idcraleigh.com

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Songs & Their Stories: "Seek Justice"

A couple years ago, I had the privilege of traveling with my dear friend, Kate, on a research trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Kate was tasked with helping develop curriculum to teach children, particularly those vulnerable to being tricked into the labor and sex trafficking trade, about being made in the image of our creator God... imago Dei.
Some of the precious faces of children in Southeast Asia we visited with...
Kate & I visiting expats in Cambodia...
Touring Vietnam in style, the only way to go: by moto...
This experience was life changing in many ways. One of which was confronting the growing and very real problem of trafficking in persons worldwide. I will never forget some of the things I saw while in SE Asia, nor ignore the reality of the existence of modern day slavery on our own soil.

This is how my songs are typically born - trying to process experiences through the lens of God's Word, the Bible. Isaiah 1:17 was resounding in my head, "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." (ESV) So, I sat down at the piano, repented of my inaction and wrote this song:

Seek Justice
I hear Your voice as You call me out of comfort
To loose control for the glory of Your Name
I'm letting go of this self-centered thinking
Lord, I need Your help to walk as Your Word says,

Seek justice
Rescue the oppressed
Defend the orphan
and plead the widow's cause

I hear Your voice calling me to action
To not stand idle in this world of desperate need
I lift my hands offering my all to you
For Your Name and Your Renown
is the desire of my soul

Seek justice
Rescue the oppressed
Defend the orphan
and plead the widow's cause

Is not the fast You choose?
To go and feed the hungry
To be Your hands and feet to everyone around me
To care for the broken-hearted
Showing mercy to the least of these
So that Your great name will be praised!

Seek justice
Rescue the oppressed
Defend the orphan
and plead the widow's cause

Will you seek justice?
Rescue the oppressed?
Defend the orphan?
And plead the widow's cause?

[Click here to listen to the Song]

Throughout the Scriptures, God is called the Father of the fatherless and shows particular concern for the oppressed. I find encouragement in His Word, particularly passages like Psalm 10:17-18 that reads:
"O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."

Here's part of the problem: (cited from an IJM resource)

* There are more children, women and men held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade

* Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 32 billion dollars a year for those who sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage

* Nearly 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry

* Visit http://www,ijm.org/ourwork/whatwedo to view factsheets and learn more about trafficking

* Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states. For more information on trafficking within the United States, visit www.polarisproject.org

As image bearers of the Lord Most High, we must do something. What will you do?

Right now there is very important legislation set to expire THIS SEPTEMBER. Here is one thing you can do RIGHT NOW: Call your senators and ask them to cosponsor the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). To learn more about this bill and ways to get involved, please visit: http://www.ijm.org/justice-campaigns/tvpra

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Last Days of Summer

A year ago, this little guy came home to us... such a gift from God.
This is a picture our agency took of him and sent us after we had successfully passed court June 2010. We had to wait until August to bring him home, oh but so worth the wait... so blessed.
It is hard to believe it has been a year, although some days I feel like he (and all of our kids) have been with us forever. Each unique, each a gift.

The last few days of summer are dwindling down. Our kids have been on an extended summer break with our move requiring early withdrawal. I think we're all experiencing the "it's time to get back into the school routine" feeling. It will be exciting to start in a little over a week, yet sad to say goodbye to summer fun and family days...
The kids are showing off their new school above...
Joshua and Jana are two peas in a pod...
A little restaurant outing while papa was out of town... What can I say? I love the soup and salad lunch with bottomless chips and salsa at Chilis... :-)

I finally made it to SAMs Club to stock up on a few things. I braved it with the kiddos...
My strategy? Well, we enjoyed $1.50 lunches (amazing: hot dog and a super sized soda) first and then I mandated they keep both hands on their giant soda cups while following me throughout the store... ha ha. It worked for the most part. Then I had helpers to unload once we got home. :)
We had fun.
This little ham, (ha), started kindergarten back in Georgia! I could not resist posting my sister's pictures of her precious children. David Isaac - you have grown up too fast!!! :-)
LOVE this: David Isaac saying goodbye to his sis, Isabella...
A great first day! (Soli looks to be more interested in whatever is in that box - ha ha)
Thursday of this past week, I loaded the kids up and headed to my parents' house in Virginia. Here, Victoria is modeling her new outfit - thanks mamaw!
I've been doing some reading workbooks and a little math with each of the kids all summer. James loves it, let me just tell you - not! Ha. He has the most to overcome in learning how to read. It is hard work to try and catch up, with a major gap in vocabulary from 9 years of speaking Russian/Ukrainian. Your prayers are appreciated for him especially as he enters school with this obstacle... as well as from kids who look for anything to poke fun at. He is so sweet. I am proud of him.
Random: my mom's dog, Joy, loves to curl up making Titus jealous when I get home to smell the traitor scent...
My parents' front door... a nightly reminder of our soldiers deployed... Rick & Jess, we can't wait to have you home!!!
Friday, late morning, I hit to road back to North Carolina leaving my kids behind. It has been a bit strange without them. My senses are still alert as I keep thinking I'll hear, "Mama"... that mama radar, you know?!. Funny. :-) Dad sent me a few pictures...
James - Mr. Project Man...
Meanwhile, Tony and I went out on a date: shopping for school supplies! Woo hoo! We were successful and it was actually fun... just being together.
This is what you do when you have five kids... ha.
Meanwhile, back in Virginia... Camp out with the kids...

Saturday morning we had our last in house core team worship with our IDC Raleigh crew... first of all, check out the new shirts to help at upcoming community gatherings...
It was such a sweet time in the Sigmon's home with Nate teaching through our church covenant... The room was wall to wall with some really special people we've particularly grown to love as co-laborers in the faith... There is much work to be done, but we are excited about what the Lord is going to do...
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise...
After lunch, Tony and I headed over to Cary to join in for the last portion of the Pure Religion Orphan & Adoption Conference. It was great to see friends, old and new. It was great to sit under Geoff Moore's worship leadership. He is also an adoptive parent and has such a humble spirit...
Tony spoke on adoption in Galatians 4:4-7.
Tony and I parted ways after the conference: he flew to Chattanooga, TN to preach and I went out with some Raleigh friends to dinner & a movie: The Help. What a great movie. They did a good job of capturing the book. It was a fun girls' night out with new friends.
Meanwhile, back in Virginia... (ha)...
Random refrigerator art... but I love it. It's about time to purge it (since it was from my birthday last month!), so I thought I'd capture it on film...