Archive for April 2013 | Monthly archive page

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So, Josh and I try to have family worship pretty regularly in our house. Of course we, like most people who try to do this, go in and out of seasons of consistency. But on the whole it’s a goal that we strive toward and we think it’s important.

If the term “family worship” is foreign to you, all I mean by that is regular time spent reading the Bible, praying and singing as a family. Josh has preached about the importance of this before and if you’re interested, you can check it out here.

Anyhow, sometimes it’s awesome and we feel like our kids are really getting it.  They listen well, ask questions, pray and then grab shakers and sing and dance while Josh plays the piano. Aw, what a nice image you have of our family, now, right?

But most of the time it’s just complete bedlam and we both look at each other thinking, “what the heck just happened??” once it’s over.

And usually I just laugh uncontrollably the whole time because I love it when kids say ridiculous things. And kids almost always say ridiculous things.

One time Reagan pointed at this picture of Gabriel visiting Mary from The Jesus Storybook Bible, and said, “Mary is really afraid of that chicken, isn’t she?”

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Or one time Josh, after listing some of God’s attributes, said, “God is…”

And after a long pause, Charlotte replied, “A bear!”

You get the gist.

Well, tonight was just such a night. Typically we read a story out of the aforementioned Bible, go over memory verses, do a catechism and sing. Tonight we started with the catechism. We never got past it because I couldn’t take anything seriously after it. I wish I had gotten this on video, but I was too busy laughing to think of that, so I’ll just try to give you a transcript of our conversation.

(Note, we had this conversation after eating dinner, and neither of our children were wearing clothes. ‘Cause that’s how we roll)

Me: Reagan, who made you?

Reagan: God did.

Me: What else did God make?

Reagan: God made everything!

(so far so good, right?)

Me: Charlotte, why did God make you and all things?

Charlotte: For his gwowy! (We are going to have to spend so much money on speech therapy for this kid…)

Me: And how do we give God glory?

Charlotte: By wuving Him and He takes cawe of me!

Me: Actually, it’s by loving Him and doing what He commands.

Charlotte: Wight, He takes cawe of me and doing what He commands.

(time to move on, we’re clearly not getting that one)

Josh: Reagan, why should you give God glory?

Reagan: Because He made me and He takes care of me.

Josh: Charlotte, Is there more than one God?

Charlotte: Noooooooooo. (Holds up 5 fingers) There are TWO powsons.

Me: (laughing too hard to talk)

Reagan: Charlotte, there is only one true God. (In that big sister tone. You know the tone I’m talking about)

Josh: How many persons in the one true God?

Charlotte: (counting down like a space shuttle is about to take off) 5! 4! 3! 2! 1 powsons!

Reagan: (sighing) I’ll answer this one. 3 persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Then we started the whole thing all over again and the answers got progressively more ridiculous.

Now our kids are watching Caillou, quite possibly the worst children’s show on television, while I type this. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Keep at it, people! Even when it’s crazy, we know that it honors God when we heed this command.

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

 

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Usually when I pick Reagan up from school I ask “What was your favorite thing today, Reagan?”

And usually she responds with something like “the playground” or “stations” or “devotions.”

But Friday when I picked her up, before I had a chance to ask, she goes, “Mom, you HAVE to hear the story Mrs. Hickey told us in devotions today.”

That’s quite an opening, and indeed, I HAD to hear!

It was the story of Saul who became Paul from the book of Acts, and her telling of it went something like this:

“Once there was a man named Saul. And he was not nice. And he didn’t like the people who talked about Jesus. So he trapped all of Jesus’ friends in jam (translation: jail). So a bright light shined on him and he couldn’t see. And Jesus told him to go see…I can’t remember his name (that would be Ananias). So he went to see…I can’t remember his name. And that man told Saul to go do what’s right. And THEN…

Mom, this is my favorite part

And THEN…God changed his name from Saul to Paul!”

Don’t you just love that?

Because she’s right. That’s the best part of the story. It’s the best part of my story. God revealed Himself to me through Jesus, called me to follow Him and changed my identity.    Like Paul, I was a hater of God, doing what was right in my own eyes, but God chose me and made me new. I am no longer that person. And though my name wasn’t changed, my heart was.

Too often we lose sight of who we are and look back to who we used be. Like the Israelites looking back on Egypt with longing, forgetting that Egypt was slavery and that being in the presence of God is freedom. Because the journey is sometimes long and hard, what was old looks easier, more appealing.

BUT

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

I’m so grateful for the reminder from my little one that my story, like Paul’s, is a story of God changing a heart, and I get to live in the joy of that “favorite part” of the story every day.

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I’ve told the story of this weird, brief little trip to Uganda so many times now, and the one thing that strikes me again each time I tell it is how evident God’s hand was and is in everything that’s happened. I find myself saying repeatedly, “we could not have planned this.” And it’s true.

I have never been more confident of the sovereignty of God, the perfection of His plans for His children, the moving of His Holy Spirit.

My time in Uganda was very brief, so this won’t be a long recounting of all that I learned about the country in my time there. Our primary purpose in visiting was to spend some time in an orphanage, meeting and caring for children. Though I will say that the little time I was able to spend with a Ugandan family was wonderful and I saw through a sleepy, over-travelled haze, both the beauty and the poverty of this country.

More than anything, I was reminded that Jesus Christ is the same Lord and Savior of His people no matter what language you speak or what culture you belong to. So in a weird way, I felt at home there.

It takes about 24 hours total of traveling to get to Entebbe, Uganda. No matter how you slice it, that is a long time and it is exhausting. But all that flying was actually one of the great things about this trip.

On the way there it provided me with hours to get to know my new friends and hear about their experiences with adoption. Adoption is very real in their lives and so it became very real to me as I heard their stories. I don’t know that I would have been as ready as I was to consider adopting these 2 children, our children (that is who they are to us already), had it not been for those conversations. God knew I needed to hear their stories.

On the return trip it afforded me hours upon hours to talk to God. To tell Him about my fears, my reservations, my hopes, my confusion. To hear from Him in return. He knew I needed that as well.

Since we arrived there so late at night, we went straight to the home of the man who runs the orphanage. His wife had prepared us a dinner, though it was midnight, and we sat and chatted briefly, but then went straight to bed.

I woke up the next morning feeling disoriented (my body was telling me it was 2:30am and I had just slept 6 hours induced by Tylenol PM). I can remember trying to pray but never quite getting through a full sentence without being distracted. But that’s OK, God knows our hearts when we don’t know what to say. And at that moment I was grateful for that fact.

We spent the morning with this family we stayed with. They made us a wonderful breakfast and I was able to hear the testimony of this man, a Pastor who loves his people, loves his family, loves children. But most of all loves Jesus. It was funny to chat some with his wife and watch her interact with her kids and think, our lives are really similar in a lot of ways! After breakfast we got to take a little tour of the land around their home. It’s very beautiful, with a view of Lake Victoria and crops growing and cows grazing.

Yet when we emerged from this safe haven to drive to the orphanage we could see that which is not so beautiful, the effects of extreme poverty and disease. People living in shacks or holes in the wall, trying to make a little money off the land to support themselves and probably several children. Yet on our drive we were met with smiles and waves. From what I can tell, Ugandans are very friendly.

We turned off of a main road onto a red dirt road that took us up a hill (Uganda is known for it’s rich red earth). The orphanage sits on this hillside, with a beautiful view that so starkly juxtaposes the sadness of so many children left without a home and family. There is one building, with the first story built and the second in progress, as well as a second foundation laid for another building. When we arrived there was a woman cooking over an open fire and another washing the childrens’ clothing in a bucket of water.

The building is surrounded by a concrete porch, where the children were all gathered, looking at us with curiosity and eagerness. We greeted them all and then sat down in some lawn chairs they insisted we sit in. The children sat on the floor.

Two children climbed into my lap, stroking my skin, touching my necklace, smiling shyly. One of these two, who will soon be my daughter, laid her head on my chest and remained that way for quite some time. She was wearing a boy’s sports jersey and her head, like all the other girls’, is shaved. But she was beautiful, nonetheless.

This Pastor and his wife went around and made the introductions and told us about all of the children, how long they had been there, who was related to whom, whether or not they were in the process of being adopted. He pointed to the girl I held in my arms and told me she was sister to one of their youngest boys, a stout, serious little guy who they have nicknamed “Bishop.” (Best. Nickname. Ever.).

Now the skies didn’t open up or anything, and I didn’t hear the audible voice of God in that moment, but the Spirit was moving in me at that moment. I simultaneously thought, “We have to come get these two children,” and “I’m not ready to adopt, yet.”

The little boy was familiar. We had received a picture of all of these children before I left and he stood out. Staring seriously at the camera while the other children smiled and waved. Josh actually said at one point, “I feel like he’s asking me to come get him.” So when I found out that this sweet, shy girl was his older sister, I knew. If we come to get him, we’re getting her, too.

At one point, while we were talking and playing with the children, I remember turning to this pastor’s wife and saying, “It’s hard to think of a reason not to adopt these children. But we’d be doubling what we have, and that seems crazy and hard.” She very simply responded, “It wouldn’t be so hard. You’d be surprised at how quickly they adapt. And four is not hard.”

When she said that I think the Lord began to open my eyes. To show me that my “hard” is not actually hard at all. Two children without parents, with no hope of a future – that is hard. And when I said hard, what I think I meant was uncomfortable. A stretch. Challenging. But when is it ever for our bad that God sends us a challenge that will stretch us?

We spent a few hours playing with the children, giving them some gifts, hearing them sing songs about Jesus (what a beautiful sound). We prayed for them and hugged them and then left, knowing that we needed to get some dinner and head back to the airport.

We had dinner, packed our things, and set off for yet another 24 hours of long flights and little sleep. Before we boarded our first flight in Entebbe, I was able to talk to call Josh and talk to him for about 5 minutes. I was exhausted, emotional, and confused. I told him about the kids, and I’m pretty sure I used the phrase “I don’t know…I just don’t know” about 30 times in those 5 minutes.

I’m so grateful for that super long flight that followed. Technically I should have slept that flight, but I probably only dozed for about an hour before waking up. God wanted me to talk it through with him. I prayed as I never have before.

I was open, I was honest. I told Him I was afraid. I told Him that I liked my comfortable life. I told Him I didn’t know if I would be a good mom to 2 more kids. In other words, I told Him, “I’m sinful. I need you to help me.”

And He did.

The wonderful thing about studying the Word of God is that it becomes a storehouse in your heart, and as I prayed, the Spirit opened the storehouse and I remembered all that I know to be true about God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His salvation, His plan. He answered my questions with His Word.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

There is no lasting joy to be had in treasuring comfort or ease or reputation or anything other than Christ. If I treasure Christ, I will treasure these children. If He’s calling me to be a mother to the orphan, then there is fulness of joy in it. Because where He calls us He is present with us.

It turned out to be a wonderful gift that Josh and I couldn’t talk to each other for a full day. Instead we turned to our heavenly Father. And when we were able to talk again, there was no hesitation. He had given us both such confidence and peace.

We’re ready. We rejoice that God works the way He does. We anticipate much joy in the coming season, though we know it comes with its challenges and struggles. But if there is more of Christ and less of us, we welcome it with open arms.