Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Side Note & A Birthday... :=)

First, a glimpse of the birthday boy last year, September 2010...
Here's the side note: we're enjoying doing these "My 1st Book" series here and there with our children...
If you're looking for ready made tools to help memorize Scripture, teach theology, Christian values and make family meals intentional, this is my recommendation. :-)

Ok, now for a kind of random photo opp: the boys (Caleb, Joshua, James & Abraham) in costume the other night after dinner. Hilarious and quite entertaining...
Here's the BIRTHDAY Boy!
(we've had his nose, eyes and teeth corrected... jk)
Victoria and Jana are trying to point to Joshua's "It's my Birthday" ribbon he wore to school on Wednesday. The first words out of Joshua's mouth every morning over the past week were the countdown to the 28th!
Then he would proclaim, "I'm just so happy... I'm gonna get lots of presents..." Joshua wakes up talking and goes to bed talking... he likes to talk... it is hilarious (less so at certain times, but overall, precious! ;-)
Joshua made a special request for an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen...


He was super excited over his new "real" (vs. plastic whiffle) baseball bat...
Thanks Great Grandma!
A guitar! Now he and James can practice together... maybe...
Probably one of his favorites = Super Mario Brothers 'Race Cart'! - as he calls it...
Wednesday night was also our growth group meeting, so we all got to sing happy birthday... he ate it up, ha....

video
We are looking forward to a quick trip to Kentucky these couple days, where we will continue celebrating God's gracious gift of our Joshua...

Monday, September 26, 2011

What a Weekend...

Monday means back to school...
Papa's favorite morning devotions and study spot...
A new favorite shirt...
A package arrived this weekend...
Here's a preview of Halloween costumes...
Transformers, more than meets the eyes...
Friday evening, we had the pleasure of hosting our first Imago Dei Church ladies' "Coffee & Koinonia"... You can read more about it on the church blog: www.idcraleigh.com/blog
We sang a couple favorites: Be Thou My Vision and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
We had 25 ladies join us for prayer and fellowship (coffee and desserts at my house afterwards... yummy and fun :-)





One of the topics we wanted to spend time in prayer over is the issue of human trafficking... a growing problem not only abroad but in our own backyards...

Sunday morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to read through my YWAM prayer journal (a discipline tool my sweet friend, Melissa Treat, introduced me to a few years ago:-). Interestingly, here was the prayer prompt for the day:
Several years ago, a friend encouraged a group of us to write a personal mission statement. So here is the simple one I wrote and seek to live by: to know God and make Him known. I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like specifically and seasonally in my life... The more I spend time in God's Word, the more I am amazed by His love and mercy and kindness towards us, as well as the reality that He is a God of justice and He calls us to action... to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)... to seek justice, correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17)... to loose the bonds of wickedness, let the oppressed go free (Isaiah 58:6-11)... to love mercy (Micah 6:8)... to visit orphans and widows (James 1:27)... and so forth... Here is a great post by Dr. Russell Moore on the subject: http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/09/26/gospel-or-justice-which/
In an effort to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking, as well as reflect Christ's concern for the oppressed, several from our church participated alongside of others in our community in Raleigh's 3rd annual "Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk" hosted by Peace College...
We had a huge group from IDC show up to walk (40+)!
Local comedian entertaining us...
The president and co-founder of Stop Child Trafficking Now shared (as well as a handful of other remarkable persons seeking to eradicate modern day slavery)...
The kids were particularly excited to receive Krispy Kreme donuts and balloons... ha.
Loved seeing IDC shirts that detail our P.E.A.C.E. plan on the back:
P - Plant Churhces
E - Evangelize the World
A - Aid the Poor and the Sick
C - Care for the Orphan and the Oppressed
E - Equip Leaders
Shauna and I were cracking up as our husbands walked ahead of us... Can you tell them apart? (Matt is on the left and Tony is on the right)
Here are two immediate ways you can "do something" regarding this issue of human trafficking:
1) Be a Voice. Call and/or write your Senators and Representative and ask them to support (or even better, to co-sponsor) the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Visit www.ijm.org or www.polarisproject.org to learn more about this bill and how you can get involved. Click on the banner that reads "Washington needs to hear your voice" found on the IJM website and details will follow.

2) Give. There are a variety of ways you can give to those who are active in engaging this issue. There is still time to give toward the Stop Trafficking Now campaign. Click here to give. See also the "Justice Seekers" listed on my blog (right hand side) for other great organizations.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Songs & Their Stories: "Not Our Home"

So, here comes a picture re-post. It just makes me smile. Seeing the kids play outside together and hearing their laughter is simply priceless... They are hilarious.
It is fun to reflect on where the Lord has brought us...

The first day we met James, Angela, Jana and Victoria (April 2009)... they entered the orphanage director's office holding hands clueless as to why they had been summoned... coming face to face then with Tony and my smiles (not to mention my attempt to maintain composure... for I was simply overwhelmed... amazed by the sovereign grace of God in bringing us together... and trying not to freak out about the reality of becoming a mom to four school age children with deep wounds and subsequent issues...)

Since that time, James has recalled to us the fear that initially filled him... and the words of one of his caregivers, "They will take you home with them, have their own children and then throw you in the garbage..."
Our first Christmas together, one of my girls came down the stairs to the decorations and exclaimed with a sort of sigh, "We are staying!" I remember standing at the bottom of the stairs being taken aback by her statement. We'd been home six months. Instability and uncertainty had been the norm in her short life up until that point...

The first day we met Joshua (August 2010)...
I was a little nervous about how he would receive us. There are no choirs singing in the background. Everything does not happen in slow motion. It can be a little awkward. We, and the other families with us, entered the courtyard to the transition house excited and a little anxious. The moment he turned the corner, he looked at me and said, "Mama." My heart melted with joy and peace. What a beautiful little boy who I get to hear call me mama. I just wanted to scoop him up and never let him go...

Later that evening, the guest house we stayed in had rolled out an expandable crib bed in our room for him to sleep in. He sat up and sang the only thing he knew in English... over and over again... his "A-B-C's"...
There have been times when I've become overwhelmed with grief in imaginations of growing up in some of the situations that our kids once knew (and thousands of orphans still know today)...

Our adoption journey has made the doctrine of adoption in Scripture overwhelm me even more. I can't seem to read it enough, particularly Romans 8:15ff... In the good times, bad times and the ugly times our God is with us... and for us... for the glory of his name... in the meantime, all of creation groans for his return... when things will be made right again...

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15 For gyou did not receive hthe spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of iadoption as sons, by whom we cry, j“Abba! Father!” 16 kThe Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then lheirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,mprovided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time nare not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.19 For the creation waits with eager longing for othe revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation pwas subjected to futility, not willingly, but qbecause of him who subjected it, in hope 21 thatrthe creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that sthe whole creation thas been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have uthe firstfruits of the Spirit, vgroan inwardly as wwe wait eagerly for adoption as sons, xthe redemption of our bodies. 24 For yin this hope we were saved. Now zhope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we await for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For bwe do not know what to pray for as we ought, but cthe Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And dhe who searches hearts knows what is ethe mind of the Spirit, because7 the Spirit fintercedes for the saints gaccording to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together hfor good,8 for ithose who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he jforeknew he also kpredestinedlto be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might bemthe firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he alsonjustified, and those whom he justified he also oglorified.

God's Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? pIf God is for us, who can be9 against us? 32 qHe who did not spare his own Son butrgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?


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Reflecting on the faithful provisions of our faithful, merciful and just God overpower me and never cease to lead me to worship. So, as all the other stories go, I sat down at the piano and meditated on Romans 8:15-39, Galatians 4:4-7 and John 14:18.

Not Our Home

Jesus, we come before your throne
I will not leave you as orphans
I will come to you
Spirit, help us in our weakness
We do not know how to pray

All of creation's groaning, longing to be set free
to obtain the freedom of the children of God

Abba! Father! This world is not our home
that's why our spirit groans
Abba! Father! This world is not our home
that's why our spirit groans

(groan, groan, groan)

Jesus, we come before your throne
I will not leave you as orphans
I will come to you
Spirit, help us in our weakness
We do not know how to pray

All of creation's groaning, longing to be set free
to obtain the freedom of the children of God

Abba! Father! This world is not our home
that's why our spirit groans
Abba! Father! This world is not our home
that's why our spirit groans

(groan, groan, groan)

What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?

All of creation's groaning, longing to be set free
to obtain the freedom of the children of God

Abba! Father! This world is not our home
that's why our spirit groans
Abba! Father! This world is not our home
that's why our spirit groans

(groan, groan, groan)
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To listen to a segment of this song, you can watch here on youtube. Defend the Orphan CDs are still available for $10 (all proceeds go towards helping other families adopt).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall is on the Horizon

This past Friday brought with it some cooler weather... it was glorious :-)
My Ukrainian born son is losing his high tolerance for cold weather it appears... :-)
The girls were excited to pull out their cute-new-gently-worn-consignment-store bought sweaters (thanks Gramma K's Attic - love 'em and for such great prices!)...
Saturday, the girls and I ran out for long desired hair cuts. All 3 said they wanted "bangs"... so we got some "swoopies" :-)

BEFORE (Jana)
They got the full treatment!

AFTER
BEFORE (Victoria)

AFTER
Align Center
BEFORE (Angela)

AFTER

We were starved and topped the "girls afternoon out" with none other than chips and salsa! (and of course, we split some fried ice cream)
The cooler weather has drawn the kids outside a bit more. Saturday and Sunday afternoon they were hilarious playing hide and seek around the yard with nerf guns in the hands of the seekers... their counting and laughter echoed throughout the neighborhood drawing friends out for an afternoon walk to stop by and see what all the excitement was about... :-)