Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lessons from a "Mommy Retreat" to the Beach...

One of my favorite authors is Max Lucado. To me, it seems as if he writes in pictures and parables the messages God lays on His heart. He describes times and lessons so vividly, it’s as if I can close my eyes and imagine myself there with Jesus… like a little child, who has come to sit upon his knee or sit at his feet and simply listen with childlike trust, love and simple understanding.

Our adoption journey that last four months has been difficult for our family. Each new week has brought with it the excitement of “Could this be the week we receive travel clearance?” and for 18 weeks now, the extraordinary disappointment of “Not yet.” It has been difficult to simply trust in God’s timing, to understand how he could purpose such a long wait for His glory, to calm the “Mama Bear” instincts that passionately rage inside my heart to have our daughter home.

God has blessed me with a husband who recognizes that God has created me as a “social introvert” (gotta love labels!). It simply means that while I love being around friends and family, I gain my energy from time alone… with God’s word, my bible, my guitar and a stack of sweet “chick-flicks”. Together we realized that I had not had such a time of refreshment since our first child was born… so 5 years later, here I am, in a quiet room at the beach… 36 hours later, refreshed, renewed and missing my hubby and kiddos like crazy! Exactly what this Mama needed!

Yesterday, I took a three hour walk on the beach. The beach wasn’t crowded, so many times I walked along with my eyes closed and simply listened… and prayed… and listened… and this is what I heard…

“Listen to the sea. What do you hear? How does it reflect Me?”

“Now look at the waves and beyond. What do you see? How does it reflect Me?”

“Close your eyes and feel the wind in your face. What is its purpose? How does it reflect Me?”

So, I listened.

The sound of the sea is constant. While the roars may ebb and flow a bit, the sound does not cease. While every once in a while I would become distracted by a sea gull, barking dog, or child giggling nearby, the sound of the sea was still there… constant. Not shattered by the other sounds. Constant. Not muted. Constant.

“How does it reflect Me?”

The presence of the Lord is constant. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. However, I realized that I’d let other “sounds” in my life mute His voice. Even in the constant chattering of my children, His voice is still whispering to me… constantly… if only I’ll listen. Even in HOA meetings, ministry work, part-time consulting work from home, laundry, groceries… His presence is constant, He is longing to direct my words and actions… if only I’ll listen. He is constant.

“Now what do you see?”

In the waves I saw bold strength crashing down upon the shore. I saw gentleness sweeping across the sand as the sea retreated back. As I looked beyond the line of crashing waves, I saw a vast sea of power and softness… so far beyond my vision… stretching beyond the horizon as-if completely endless.

“How does it reflect Me?”

It reminded me of how one of the children’s bible story books describes God’s love. His Unceasing, Unbreakable, Never giving up, Always & Forever Love. In two words “Be still”, Jesus calmed a raging storm. His powerful love brought gentle peace and safety to His children. Even to His children who were not fully trusting Him. How very much like me. His love is never-ending… His love endures forever. He is strong and powerful… yet gentle and wise. In His love, He has written the pages of each of our lives… given up His own life so we can spend eternity with Our Creator. His love is endless.

“The wind… close your eyes and feel the wind.”

On the first half of my walk, the wind guided me gently down the shore. On the second half, it pushed against my every step… strong, *chilly*, and gusting now and then.

“How does it reflect Me?”

The wind gave the gulls strength not just to fly but to soar! Sometimes we can feel the pressures of the world beating upon us at the wind in our face, but God is there to lift us, strengthen us, help us to soar above for His glory. I’m reminded of these words: Even the winds and the waves obeyed Him. Do not be tossed by waves of doubt and uncertainty. Hold fast to the Rock upon whom your foundation is built.

In 36 hours, I’ve spoken less than 1,000 words… no words of correction or discipline to my children… just simple words to my family of “I miss you. I love you.”

In 36 hours, I’ve listened… I’ve been corrected… I’ve been lovingly disciplined by my Father… and I’ve been restored.

His presence is always with me, strong, powerful and gentle… I simply have to listen, recognize His voice and obey!

His love is unceasing, always and forever. It is unstoppable… I simply have to choose to accept it, share it and live in and through it!

His purposes are always for good. Trials may come, but in them He does not leave. I am a work in progress, under construction… He has purposes for our family as we remain steadfast in His love. He is the foundation of our home and He reigns victoriously. I simply need to remember these things… and consistently put them into practice.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SPARE CHANGE!!! YOU changed children's lives!

25 families joined us in collecting spare change (and/or donating during our SPARE CHANGE campaign!)! We launched the campaign in honor of our sweet baby girl's first birthday... While we missed having her with us... it was precious to see children bringing in their piggy banks to share with the children of Ethiopia!

We were excited to receive BAGS of coins on our front door;

checks in the mail from Oregon, Washington & Iowa;

on-line donations from Oregon, California, Colorado & New Mexico!

And... the final result? Over $900!!!!

And now... for the winners!!!! You can only win once (so everyone has a chance to win!!!)

Most combined: The Skeele Family... a huge bag of coins: $117.48... you win a t-shirt & chocolate!

Most quarters: The Moss Family... 124... you win a t-shirt!

Most dimes: The Durbin Family... 442... you win a t-shirt!

Most nickels: The Corrigan Family... 108... you win chocolate!

Most pennies: The Schneider Family... 492... you win chocolate!

Thank you to EVERYONE who donated. YOU made a difference... and touched our hearts and our son's heart as he saw the coins add up... and more and more children "fed"! :)

Once again, stay tuned for the next EXCITING fundraising campaign!

Adami Tulu - What now? A critically needed add-on project!

Upon receiving the incredible news that the classroom expansion project for Adami Tulu was fully funded, we stood in awe of how quickly God perfect provision for the project came about!

However, as our fundraising team (our family and our awesome friends the Williams) was really just getting started and our SPARE CHANGE campaign in mid-stream, LifeSong for Orphans Ethiopia was contacted to see if there was an additional need for the school.

Indeed, there was. In fact, they have a critical need for new restroom facilities that were not included in the original construction costs because the original fundraising goal was so high already. But, God is good!!! and He provided those funds!!!

Now, we have the opportunity to continue our fundraising to help make an even greater impact. This is what the current latrines look like in Adami Tulu... Cassie & Ryan Williams saw these first-hand on their latest trip to Ethiopia last month when they brought their handsome son home!...

Beautifully constructed restroom facilities in Ziway, Ethiopia (just north of Adami Tulu) where Lifesong also operates! This is what the finished project in Adami Tulu will look like!!!! What an incredible difference for the children and staff of the school!

So.... our fundraising continues to help provide for God's children... a chance for a good education, nutricious food, discipleship... and now... good hygiene! Praise the Lord! The cost... $7,500! So, let's get going! :)

Be on the look-out for our newest fundraising campaign in the next day or so! It is bound to peak your interest!!!

Or to give now.... simply click here.

Adami Tulu Classroom Expansion... the Lord works His wonders!

On 3/20/2011... our fundraising team received amazing news!

One generous donor read another team's latest blog post and saw that the overall need remaining to fund the classroom expansion project was $12,000. That day, the donor provided a single check to fill the gap!

The Lord worked in mighty ways to show us His goodness and generosity of His children for His children. We had donations ranging from $1.55 to $12,000... each giving what they could, with what they had for His purposes! THANK YOU!!!!

A team will be traveling to Adami Tulu, Ethiopia in August to help with the classroom construction, run a VBS, and perhaps provide small medical clinic sessions. If you would like to help support the team's travel costs, they are selling awesome t-shirts here.