Archibald Family

Archibald Family

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours!!!!

Christmas 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings! You need to know you have touched our lives and we are so grateful for you!

As I turned our calendar to November, my mind quickly turned to figuring out what to write about in our annual Christmas letter; panic set in. I didn’t know what to say, but as I cleared and washed the dinner dishes tonight as the family rushed out the door, it was then I knew exactly what to say!

Our lives are full! Extremely Full! Full of Life. Full of Jesus. Full of Love. Full of Fun. Full of Friends. Full of activities. Full of each other. Full of passion. Full of good times. Full of challenges. Full of laughter. Full of emotions. Just plain full! We are experiencing a bounty in fullness….and LOVE it!

Duane remains hard at work, leading our family, being the homework guru and the spiritual head of this family. After 19 years of marriage this year, my admiration and love for him has grown. I can’t speak enough about him. Duane is our stability in our very emotional household! Duane continues at Amgen, in spite of the many lay offs this year. We remain grateful for his job. Duane is a back up leader at his men’s group at church, a leader in the high-school ministry and now helps with security at our church. But mainly…he is the go to man for us. We girls know if we need a problem solved, a listening ear or just a hug where to go … Duane, AKA Daddy. He is the best!

Lindsay. Our lives are filled with anticipation as we watch her finish her senior year and what life holds next for her. But I have to admit seeing her today as she was filling out her college applications brought some sorrow to my heart. I’m not ready to see her go as we enjoy having her around. I enjoy talking and listening with her …especially if shopping is involved! Lindsay continues in piano, bassoon, clarinet and anything else she can get her hands on. She was Drum Major in her school band this year – and as always, did an awesome job in directing, as well as leadership. I stand and look at my daughter, who is now a grown woman, and see her come beside freshmen, encourage, and embrace them; it fills my heart. Lindsay continues working in the church’s nursery and leads worship at the convalescent home. She recently got back from a mission trip to China, bringing back not only many stories but a much bigger heart for the people there. I celebrate her!

Our always active young lady, Katie, is just that…still active! I can’t believe she has started high-school this year, and can believe she loves it, as social as she is! Katie has continued on in band, and is exceptional on the flute…she just got placed in fourth chair (out of 9; beating juniors, sophomores and one other freshman). This is her first year in marching band and seems to bring a lot of life and fun with her. Katie is currently playing basketball, and will be joining the soccer team as well. Katie continues to attract little kids…whether they know her or not, she is mesmerizing to them and a whole lot of fun, and she often takes the time to play and talk with them. The kids love her in the nursery at church, and seem to always look for her! Katie has a gift of life. She embraces it, lives it, and teaches me to enjoy the moments!

Courtney amazes me! I just recently told her how she is my hero. Courtney is back in school, after being home-schooled and LOVING it! The lunch room conversations have been centered on faith, as others have different beliefs. Courtney remains bold and certain as she shares her faith and belief…she stands up when things need to be said – something I would never have done at her age! Astonishing! She is now volunteering twice a week at the Humane Society: one day caring for the cats, the other – the dogs. She loves it. She just recently joined a writing club at school, a place her imagination can run wild, and helps lead Awanas at our church. We are pleased to see the confidence arise in her and just plain astonished!

Me. I am so thankful to be able to still stay at home. I see now, that teenagers need the consistency, stability, and availability now more than ever; and I have the privilege to be able to provide just that. I am now a CASA volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster care children; their voice in court). It takes much of my time – and worth every second and mile I have put on the car! I work along side of Duane in the high-school ministry and continue with my bible studies. I am fully blessed!

At the beginning of the year we were able to go to Disneyland and spend some much needed family time. We continue to find magic there, but now found as the girls are older, Duane and I could go and do things we wanted to do as the girls went on more rides. Freedom! Summer seemed so short, as it was filled with volunteering, marching band practices, VBS and our annual summer church retreats. Hiking wasn’t as much as we would have liked to do, but we managed a couple; Duane and Katie hiked a 14er. Katie and I celebrated our birthdays with my mom this year, which made a quick trip to California, and some special time just the two/three of us. We experienced sadness of putting our rabbit of the past 11 years down, but now welcome a new rabbit, Emily – who can’t seem to stay in her cage. Duane and I managed a couple nights away in the mountains that seemed to rejuvenate us for the coming school year, as well as give us the opportunity to have uninterrupted time.

Our home is full of not only the five of us, but it seems that every day there are additional kids calling me “Mom” and sitting around our dinner table or watching a movie with us…or dancing to the wii. It is true…if you feed them, they will come! And we thoroughly enjoy it. A matter-of-fact our family has also finished all the certifications for being a foster home for Denver County. Now we wait to hear what child will be joining our family. So, as you can imagine, our food budget is at its max; yet God continues to provide.

What amazes me the most this year, especially as we celebrate this Christmas, is how the King of the Universe, the same Creator who penned the creation and blew life into it all, the ultimate Healer, the source of love, joy, peace, strength and so much more desires to have personal time with me. Just Him and me, sitting on His lap or laughing as we walk through each activity in life. I have learned to cherish the time I have with Him, and it is that time that I’m able to see life through His eyes and love everything and everyone that comes my way. The Creator of time has time for you too, and as I have found every time I seek Him, He is right there to be found. I pray as we anticipate the coming of a child who is called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” and reigns on His throne on high that you too will experience that intimate time with Him. He came for me, and He came for you.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate Jesus!

With hearts full of thanksgiving, celebration and much love,

Duane, Karen, Lindsay, Katie and Courtney Archibald

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Joy To The World The Lord Has Come!

The last couple of weeks we have had a bit of a scare in our home.  We have had moments of peace, sometimes even a full day ... but somewhere fear would creep in, and tears followed.  We have been waiting medical tests to know whether or not I had a tumor or not.  Like I said, the waiting hasn't been easy.  I audibly heard God's voice on the exam table, saying "I will get you through this".  I didn't hold onto His promise, but instead allowed fear to come in as I didn't know what "this" was.

This morning I was reminded of a similar story.  Please bare with me.  In the beginning of Jesus' story, we are told of another ... the conception and birth of John the Baptist, who will prepare the way for Jesus.  Zechariah was encountered by Gabriel, the angel who told him of the coming of a son.  Zechariah questioned the promise which resulted in silence until John was to be circumcised.  Months of solitude - not being able to voice his say in matters, not being able to voice his insight with his fellow serving priests, not being able to voice the intimate secrets a husband says to his wife, not being able to voice his feelings and wisdom and even blessing on the birth of his son.  

Mary too was visited by Gabriel.  Her promise was even more obscure than Zechariah's .. as she was a virgin.  Mary questioned too.  Yet a gentle answer and explanation was her response. 

Do you see the difference?  Mary saw Gabriel and believed what was said.  Zechariah saw Gabriel, and doubted the words off his lips.  Mary's song glorified the Lord and speaks of How great God is, her surrender to His calling , she was even thankful to be part of His plan.  Zechariah, even after serving in the temple, being a Godly man he was and believing God full well, didn't give God praise and recognition until AFTER John's birth and AFTER his time of solitude.

So as I have been waiting, today I questioned and wondered.  Did I recognize the Greatness of my God?  Did I glorify the Lord in song?  Did I surrender to His calling?  Was I even thankful?  I would love to tell you yes ... but honestly, there were moments and days I have been more like Zachariah than Mary. 

I am so thankful God works with us, and knows us better than we know ourselves.  He teaches us through life's moments and shows us His word brought to life.  I have the hearts desire to be more like Mary ... but bottom line, Zechariah and Mary both recognized God and brought Him honor in their own time.  I want to be more like the person He called me to be, and rise up to His plan and recognize how Great our God is in spite of the circumstances!

I can't help but hear the glorious words to the song "Joy to the world ... OUR LORD HAS COME" and that is why we rejoice this time of year.  Yet I rejoice throughout the year as our God Almighty came to earth in form of a precious baby knowing He was going to be rejected and we may have eternal life with Him!  Knowing He is the same God today that He was when scriptures were written, brings me much peace and reassurance.  As I see He was a God who walked the streets, walked through the journey we call "life", with all the questions and pressures we have, but HE had ALL the answers!  Today that same God lives, continuing to bring us peace and reassurance.  He fights for us and holds our hands even before we need holding.  He wipes our tears and rejoices with us.  He is a good God and remains good to this day.  He continues to have all the answers.  Through Him and because of Him we are all set free!

And today we celebrate as He set our family free from worry and questioning ... everything was benign!  Thank you Jesus!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And God Came

As usual, Duane and I were praying this morning.  Life seems to be a bit heavier than normal this morning, and we were laying our burdens at His feet.  During prayer, I happened to look up and pondered our decorated mantel.  And then I remembered ...

I thought of all the heaviness, then lies seemed to whisper in my ear.  You know the ones when you are kicked down, the "oh, what you are going through is nothing compared to so and your prayer requests", or "you are so alone in one will care about all this", or "you deserve all this".  Yea, sometimes I hear those words when I am battling heaviness.  But this morning was different, I kicked those lies to the curb as I stumbled on what I saw .. those manger scenes.

Why did Jesus come to this lowly place...a manger?  Why did the King of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords come to a lowly place called earth, and a lowly place such as my heart?  The text book answer is to save us from our sins, so we may have eternal life with our Heavenly Father.  But this morning I am reminded of so much more.  He came.  He came for you.  He came for me.  But He came to set us free.  He came to heal us.  He came to carry our heaviness.  He came to wipe our tears.  He came to hold our hand.  He came to celebrate our joys with us.  He came to encourage, to give hope and peace and increase our faith.  He came so we can be more like Him.  He came.  And the beauty of it all ... He still comes every moment of the day, every day. 

So as I sat and started in my self pity of "why now?" and "why during this most happiest time of the year?", I told my Savior, my Lord of Lords, my Emmanuel ... thank you that it was now, as I am reminded He came in form of a baby for such a time as this!  And as the letters spell out on our mantel, P E A C E ... it still holds true today.  He came this morning picking up my heaviness and in return He gave me His peace. 

I pray you too experience His peace during this Christmas time, as well as the days that follow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Answer to the Why

I still get asked to this day about our Liberian adoptions ... some share their frustrations with not fully understanding what lies against us, some share their sorrow as they have given up hope for us and others remain in prayer for our children to come home.  I have been able to share the details to the corruption that lies behind the hold on our children.  However, I have never been able to articulate it so well.  Well, thanks to a dear friend who ran across an article ... this is what stands in our way.  The article will talk about UNICEF, however it isn't just UNICEF in Liberia, but Save The Children as well. 

Why do I share this?  Because you can make a small difference.  You may think twice about where your donations will go this year, and the purchases you make.

It sickens me to think these organizations think that our children being raised in an orphanage, who have gone hungry for days, and haven't been held ...truly held, have been sick and without doctor care think they are better off than being in a home, where they can rest, be fully educated, have instant doctor care when needed, never go hungry and be held and loved by people who have already called them their own.  It truly sickens me, and breaks my heart. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Heart Like His

I have sought God about what to write on this blog, nothing came to me - until this morning when I was watching TV.  The host this morning had a guest who was an advocate for pets...specifically dogs and cats, which just brought out the passion on this matter in the host.  I knew then exactly what I was to say. 

Please don't get me wrong.  I LOVE animals.  Anyone who knows me will verify this fact.  Anyone who has been to our home has experienced our small zoo.  Even those who do know me don't know how much I am of my great-grandmother's who had a huge heart for our furry friends.  I see God in His creative God is to create such a variety, as well as the instinct and abilities in each one.  Amazing!  I also believe these creatures have been put on this earth for us to take care of.  But I believe animals are God's fun and creativeness not the center of His heart.  We, His people are.  And it is clear He has a special place for the fatherless and widows.

Sing to God, sing praise to his name, 
extol him who rides on the clouds -
his name is the Lord
and rejoice before him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.  
Psalm 68: 4-6

As I sat and watched these furry friends on TV, my heart ached for something much bigger.   I grew in frustration as I am constantly reminded of the neglect of animals, yet knowing that 153,000,000 children across the world have lost one or both of their parents needing a home, a mom, and/or dad - needing hope. 

So many people think of adoption when it comes to orphans.  Granted, children deserve a home, a mom and dad, a bed to call their own - hope and a future.  We all have it, why can't they?  However, I am fully aware not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to care for the orphans.  I have heard excuses such as "I wish we could, but it isn't my thing" or "I don't have the space for another child" or "I just can't financially do it".   And the result remains the same as we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye toward the huge need.  What if I told you that you don't have to have space for a child?  Or you don't have to offer one penny?  and what if I told you ... this is your thing, because God has commanded it on all of us? 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: 
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 
James 1:27

Do you have a concern with all the news these days?  Do you wonder where our world is heading to?  Do something about it ... the future isn't in the dogs and cats we save, but rather the children you see on your block or in the neighborhood school or park.  The future is in the children that are on welfare, and the children who don't have to worry where they lay their head at night.  The future is those children in the cities as well as those out on the country farms.  The future are the children that are in Africa, Ukraine, China and here in the US.  Children are our future, and if you want to change the way our country is going ... INVEST in a life of a child.

But yet I hear, "How?  I have nothing to offer."  And that is where you are so wrong. 

Those of you who have a passion and a calling, and you clearly know God has laid it on your heart ... adoption is a key way to give hope to a child, and change the direction in that child's life.  Now is the time...there are boys and girls waiting for a home, waiting just for you.  Please see links at the bottom of this post.

Maybe adoption isn't fully what you are called to do, but have the room to bring a child in.  Have you considered fostering?  There are so many children who need the consistency a parent has to offer, yet don't have it.  So many counties need your help - call yours today.  (Adams and Denver county has the greatest need in Colorado.)

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate).  Get to know a child or a family of children who have been pulled from their home, protect a child's rights and ensure their safety - be their voice in court.

Can you be a friend?  What about the big-brother/big-sister program?  The children signed up in this program seek help with their homework as well as a mentor in their life.  You have so much to offer, all your hobbies and talents will bring healing, knowledge and connection.

What about the single mom or single dad down the street?  Can you bring their children over to your home and play with them?  What a double blessing!  Not only can you touch the life of these children, but give the mom/dad a break!

Do you have extra newish stuffed-animals?  Take them to your nearest police station and donate them.  Why?  These officers have the hardest job - removing children out of unsafe conditions and bringing them to a new place.  These children are traumatized, hurt and angry.  A stuffed animal can be just the ticket to prove to the child that these officers aren't the bad guys!

Maybe you do have some extra money you can give.  I have listed some websites for you to consider donating to.  I also have some sites that you can sponsor a child through, and receive letters from your sponsor child...and even have the opportunity to visit!  But I encourage you to do more that write a check.  Even though these charities are in desperate need, it is easy to write a check ... get involved with the life of a child.

That should be enough to get you started.

Get involved!  You will not only be changing a life of a child ... but I guarantee yours will be changed too!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When Two Worlds Collide

I have to confess that when I received my CASA badge, a whole lot of fear came with it.  There was so much to remember and I was afraid of messing up and forgetting the little details, let alone fear of what the case members were going to think about me.  But I see now that when I received my CASA badge I received some pride right along with it.

Truthfully, I came in thinking I was going to change a life or lives of some children...I never knew what I had coming.

Most of the cases in the social services system are cases with poverty, and truthfully I am dealing with people I wouldn't see in my day to day life.  I wouldn't see them at my church, at my grocery store and the schools and the list goes on.  It is interesting that poverty hangs out with poverty, and middle class hangs out with middle class and so on, and it is sad to say for the most part it is true. 

In November was my youngest child (on my case)'s first birthday.  I scrambled to get a little something for him.  I specifically remember asking myself; "what didn't he get for his birthday, so I don't duplicate it?".  I picked him up an outfit, and a little toy on my way.  I was in such a rush that I didn't do a great job wrapping, but through the items in a bag and called it good. 

I walked into their home, and the boy was sleeping, so I brought the bag over to the great-grandmother and said:  "this is for ____".  I'll never forget that moment, as I was in a moment of panic...wondering if I had the dates right, as she looked at me in bewilderment.  She asked what the gift was for.  I responded, "isn't it ____ birthday?"  And then she remembered - her youngest great-grandchild had had his first birthday the previous week, with no cake or any mention of birthday wishes ... and then proceeded to say "this is his only present". 

You know, if I could relive these moments I would have done things a little better.  I would have wrapped that present with the finest paper and the biggest bow, and perhaps would have brought some cup cakes for everyone to celebrate a little boy who turned one.  But I can't.  I was so humbled and just wanted to cry.  Not because God used me through this, but because I realized how much I take for granted.  I mean truthfully, even in our hardest times we haven't gone least there is credit.  But these people don't have anything to their name, and they make do. 

I am not there to change their world...they are there to change mine.  And this next month, when another child celebrates her birthday, I am going to take a little extra time and make it something special ... because you know what?  They are something special - not only to me, but definitely to God!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Judge vs. Love

"and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love,
I gain nothing." 
1 Corinthians 13:2-3

God aligned me clearly to be a CASA advocate, and put it in my lap this past summer.  Out of obedience I took the classes, and shortly after I received my first case.

I can't share with you about specifics in my case, but I can share that it involves three children, one mom, two dads, one girlfriend, two great-grandmother's and one grandfather, two grandmothers...not to mention now all these lives have not only me, but a GAL, a caseworker and judge.  There are also some special respondent attorneys, a supervised visit place and observers, therapists, UA's and parenting classes.  I think all this sums up the case in a nut shell.  I remember during the first couple of weeks after being assigned the case how overwhelmed I was with all the names and positions as I tried to figure out their role, and then I questioned if God had the right person for the job! 

I have enjoyed getting to know these children, and even the adults that are involved.  However, I haven't enjoyed the responsibility of making judgemental recommendations, as I witness visits and discern each atmosphere that the children are involved in.  Judge.  That is God's role, not mine.  I have worked and worked to remove judgment thoughts from me as I meet new people, or worship with others at church, and even as I interact with my family.  But now with this new role, I feel as if now that is what I am asked to do.  I ask God before every visit, to give me discernment and wisdom but to not have to judge.  God reminded me that it is NOT my role to judge but to just be a vessel of love...that is why he called me to this, not for anything else.   

So I'm not to judge, but I am to love.   Before one of my visits I had to get honest with God.  I asked Him, "have you seen what these parents have done?  Have you seen the lack of parenting they have done?  Aren't you aware of what these children have seen and participated?  You have to see it, and agree that these parents don't deserve to have these children!  Don't you see how the roller coaster of emotions are affecting these children?"  And then as I was pointing my finger at them, I saw three fingers pointing back at me.  I have yelled at my girls during their growing up.  I have hurt their feelings.  I have been late picking them up from school.  I have given them ice-cream and popcorn for dinner a time or two.  I skipped their baths when I just was too tired.  I haven't gotten out of bed and have let them tend to themselves.  So as those three fingers were pointing back to me, and I saw all of this, I saw not only do I not deserve the children I have, but these parents deserve as much grace and mercy that I myself ask for each day.  I picked up a role that wasn't mine to fill and I wasn't loving.  I confessed all this and sought God's forgiveness, and I asked for God's love to shine through me and love the parents I was about to meet, to let me discern and witness anything I need to be aware of, and I spent the rest of the time praying over two complete strangers.

You know what?  He did just as I asked.  The parents saw that I was there to not judge them, that they could talk to me.  I was able to see strengths and concerns that needed to be documented.  I didn't see how God is going to fix these parents, but I rested knowing that the God of the Universe loves them just as much as everyone else and has everything under control.   

I am learning so much about God and his love through CASA.  And what I have seen, God's love is greater than I can ever imagine, and if I would just rest in it and let it flow through me ... truthfully, nothing else matters.

Happy Birthday Our Little 4 Year Old!

Ruthie, I don't know if you even remember me, as you were only 1 when we met.  But it doesn't matter ... you are on our hearts, and you continue to remain in our prayers.  We are so thankful for you - the life God gave you, the joy you bring to those around you.  We are thankful that God does have a plan for you, and we will continue to pray that you will see the path set before you and choose to walk it.  It is Him that will make that path straight.  May your days to come be filled with so much joy, peace and favor.  We love you greatly!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So Thankful for You!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess 5:16-18

Thankfulness was my topic in my Bible study today. The following statement hit me between the eyes:  "Not everything that happens in life is His will.  He didn't cause the crisis that an individual or a nation may be facing.  He actually cannot give things that are not good, because he does not have them.  God can give only good gifts because He is good, and He has only good gifts to give.  So giving thanks in everything does not mean that the adversity came from God.  But when you give thanks in the midst of an adverse situation, a difficulty that was intended to undermine your faith and even destroy you enables you to take hold of that situation and set it apart to God and His purposes."  Bill Johnson

What does that mean to me?

To this day I receive question after question about our children in Liberia.  No one understands.  What I understand and share doesn't make sense.  But in the back of their minds they question how God could allow these children to be raised in an orphanage. Some question if we heard right.  Some doubt.  Some condemn.  And I totally get it, because I have been in the same place. 

I have allowed anger, bitterness, and disappointment fill my heart and close parts of my heart from God.  But when I sit and ponder all that God has done through my life...the big things as well as the minor, God has proved Himself faithful and true.  He has never left me, and has continued to pour His love on me.  He continues to show His goodness in my life.  Bottom line, a good God doesn't do something bad and I have reason to be thankful in spite of Elijah and Ruth being here or not.

And that is where I'm at - a heart of thankfulness.  Thank you God for providing Elijah and Ruth a home, food and provision.  Thank you for keeping them healthy and well taken care of.  Thank you for the people who have been placed in theirs and our lives to give us connection.  I am thankful God, you have allowed me to go and hold them.  Thank you for the hope that you have shown us throughout the past four years as we wait.  Oh God, I so appreciate how you have held our hearts, wiped our tears away as well as theirs.  Thank you for not walking away from me when I have been bitter and angry toward you, but instead you held me that much tighter.  Thank you that I don't have to understand any of this ... but I can trust you know what is best and will take care of it all.  Thank you for your love for each of us.  Thank you for never turning your heart away from me and remaining so good.  Thank you, thank you and thank you for you...I love you so much.  I choose to be thankful as I have so much to be thankful for, and through it all I can see how big you are.  I open my heart fully to you, asking and receiving your love in all areas of my heart.  I give everything over to you completely, today and everyday.  No more hiding, no more doubt ... but rather my mind, heart and soul fully devoted to you - and thank you for receiving it always. 

So on this very special day I say THANK YOU GOD for all these things, and blessing our son with another birthday.  Thank you for being the perfect parent in His life.  This special day we celebrate the evidence of YOU in his life.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

God Is Good!

It is the simple things that bring my life so much joy.  Those simple things are the animals we bring into our family.  Earlier this year we had to put our beloved bunny down.  As you can imagine it was a sad day in the Archibald home.  When we put that bunny down, we remembered all we went through with him and felt as if we were putting all those memories down with our Daisy-Doodle.  Sorrow remained in our hearts, and a yearning in my heart grew more and more for another bunny.

I look through my journal and see conversations I was having with God, laying my heart before him and confessing the reasons I wanted another bunny, but then trusting him in his infinite wisdom to do what was best.  But every corner I was looking to see he was saying yes. 

We went into a new store, Duane wanted to explore.  I came around the corner of the aisle and there was a troft and in it...the last bunny!  It also had the lopped ears I was hoping for!  I looked at Duane ... and he looked at me, knowing he just couldn't say no to me once again.  And now my yearning was filled ... or was it?

This year seems to be a year of hardship for us.  Everything seems to be breaking down around us:  car (a couple of times), appliances, home repairs, yard stuff and the list goes on.  Also I am learning that the older your children become the more expensive are the needs.  So needless to say we have been watching every penny that comes and goes through our home.  So when the summer came with all its repairs, it also opened a door of guilt as I contemplated "Did God give me my hearts desire or did I choose this bunny and the expense that came with it?".

Duane took me away for a much needed retreat for the two of us.  We didn't go far, but just needed that time alone.  The phone rang, and it was clear that our bunny who was only months old was at the vet's office and needing emergency care.  I let it all go, as I knew Duane could take care of it.  But then the next day when the vet called me, it was then I heard this was life or death.  It was asked how much we want to invest in this bunny.  It was then, I had to let our bunny go.  I knew I made a decision on my heart about this bunny, not God's in the first place and knew I had to give her back to him.  But in that knowing I took on shame, and even a deserving of punishment for it. 

We picked up our lifeless bunny on the way home, seeing she wasn't eating, drinking and hearing her gasp for air.  Instead of waking to death the next morning as we expected, we awoke to a bunny that was still with us.  And in the few days that followed, we saw a  HUNGRY and very enthusiastic bunny who couldn't get enough of each of us. 

I then realized that God loves the littlest desires of our hearts.  And I think he loves those desires because it is those desires He can show how GREAT he is.  He takes that shame, dusts it off and restores us with fulfillment and makes it all OK.  He showed me the desire of my heart wasn't a bunny but instead God to fulfill the emptiness I was experiencing.  I see today as we hold our newest member of our family and see how he redeemed what was probably not the best decision we made, and made it good and even brought our family closer to Him through it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

God is on the Move

It has been five months since I have posted anything on this blog!  WOW!!!!  I admit the busyness took over my life, and thus there wasn't time to blog, but I confess laziness then just took over. 

I have been pondering the past couple months as to the reason to this blog:  1.  to keep our family and friends who are far from us informed as to what is going on in our crazy life and 2.  to bring honor to God.  So because I yearn to bring honor to God in all that I do (including writing in this little piece of cyber space) I write when HE gives me something to write.  So simply put; God has been doing a lot of stretching and pulling, trimming and growing in me during these past months.  We have gone through some pain through it, and I wish I could say we are done with this growth spurt...but instead I can say:  God remains faithful, and has never left me through this season of life and never will!  AMEN!

I looked back through my journal to see exactly what we have been doing. May 18th, I wrote:  "I was set on finding your voice yesterday, and knowing your will.  Isaiah 61 has been a calling you have on our family.  I believe it is letting loose on us."

Aren't there times you wish you could fully understand what God is getting ready to do?  I know I get that way every time I sense He is getting ready to do something.  I want to know what exactly it is, not out of lack of trust in him, but rather I am so excited I can't stand it!  Five months later let me tell you what I know so far. 

Gates were opened wide for me to be trained as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer for Adam's county. What exactly does that mean?  I have the privilege to get to know a child(ren) on a particular case who is in the social services/foster care, make sure their needs are well taken care of, they are safe and be their voice in court for what they would like happen, and also be the voice in court as to what I recommend should happen.  It is something I thought I would NEVER do, and something God clearly said "oh need to do!".  When God laid foster children on our family's hearts I thought fostering was where he was calling us and so we are qualified in that area, but instead he has me in this role as of now.    I remember at our high school youth conference this past summer God saying to me "I want to do a ministry through you.  I don't want you to do a ministry for me." and giving me the sense this ministry was going to be in our own backyard.  At this time, this is where He has me...but I know He isn't finished with me yet.

Katie was enlightened at that same conference.  She was overwhelmed with a call God put on her.  She has had the desire to be a pediatrician all she is aware of the HUGE need in Africa, and knowing her brother and sister are there without the basic needs intensified that awareness.  She has her eyes set on medical school and from there will go and stay in Africa to truly care for the orphans and bring them under her wing and teach them her love to read.  I can't wait to see that day!

Courtney has always had a heart for Africa.  She desires to teach, but right now I see the hunger in her to learn God's words and His ways.  God is building her faith.  I can't wait to see when her calling is much more clear to her.

Duane has been saying "yes" to God, and is ready to go on a mission trip of his own.  He doesn't want to be the person sending his family off at the airport anymore...he wants to go and serve in such a way, and to experience his own adventure with God.  Now he just waits to know what he has said "yes" to.

Lindsay.  Well, as I write this she is in China.  I remember so clearly the day she came out of her kindergarten class and said "Mommy, I'm going to be a missionary to China when I grow up!".  Now the day is here...not that she is totally grown up, but she is off and sharing the love of Jesus to so many who don't even know of him.  Lindsay is speaking in a college classroom, helping the students practice their English and when she is asked she talks of Jesus.  The last email I received started with an introduction of "In the most loving way possible, I want to say I don't want to come home."  I believe that sums up her trip.

So as I write and share with you all of these GREAT things God is doing or getting ready to do, it also paints the spiritual battle we are under.  When God is leading us on the paths he has set before us, Satan is doing all he can to get us off that path.  Sometimes he has, but God's mercy has put us back on.  I would love to say honestly my heart's desire is for God's will in my life, but I confess I struggle with earthly desires.  You know the ones:  new car, new appliances, a new paint job in our home, furniture, clothes...and the list goes on.  But I'm determined to cast my eyes on Him, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I Am and trust He knows and sees my needs and will lead and care for me according to his plan.  He remains my peace ... even in the midst of our storms, and that is where I choose to stay. 

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoner,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
Isaiah 61: 1-3

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

It seems the older I get, the more I experience and the more I appreciate my mom.  This year is with no exception. 

I love you Mom!  I wish I could be there to celebrate, but having a cup of tea over skype in our best china, and remembering is the next best thing!  Turn off the music at the bottom of the page and enjoy! 

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lindsay and Her Music...Whatelse?????

Just a snipet of our life at home....(Don't forget to turn the music off at the bottom of the page!)

District Honor Band....

Jazz & Choir Concerts...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Do you know what my favorite part about Easter was?

Nope, it's not the beautiful dresses!

Nope, it's not the traditional cup of tea in fine china, with homemade cinnamon rolls that follow.

Nope, it wasn't watching a bunch of home movies; laughing and remembering and some even being a bit embarrassed.  Fun...but not it.

Nope, it's not coloring eggs!

Well, it could be going to church in full celebration ...but sorry, not it!

Nope, it's not the Easter baskets with all the candy!

Nope, it's not even the delicious food.

Nope, it's not the family bike ride we enjoyed this year, or getting caught in the rain at the end.

Nope, it's not even the puppy enjoying his new finds!

It could have been the girls putting a surprise together; playing and singing a song to one of my favorite Easter movies (Veggie tales Easter Carol)...very close, but still not it!

Nope not watching all the Easter movies...not even the Donut Man's Easter Celebration.

All GREAT guesses, but not it.  Give up?

My favorite part about Easter was the five of us coming together in our annual tradition of reading Benjamin's Box, opening Resurrection Eggs and Reading through the Scriptures and hearing the Easter story all over again, as if it was our first time.  As the years move on, there isn't much of a surprise anymore as to what is in the eggs, there isn't a different ending to the book.  But what I love is that God's word is alive and there is always something new to find.  I also stand on reassurance God's word will not return void.  This is the foundation of what is to come in the lives of these girls and generations to come - Jesus! He was, He is and is to come!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He has Overcome!

The goodness of the cross I thought was enough.  But God had bigger plans.

He is risen!  He has overcome the grave!

Today with much joy, we celebrate...with dance and gladness.  Because Jesus did just as He said He'd do and overcame the grave.   Nothing can keep my Jesus down.  Nothing!

Grief.  Finances.  Parenting.  Marriage.  Strife.  Illness.  Adoption.  Loneliness.  Depression.  Emotions.  The deepest pain.  The most impossible situation.  Death.   Nothing can keep my Jesus down.  He overcame the grave, so He can and will overcome it all!

And that is the power of His Resurrection.  He overcame the grave thousands of years ago, and He overcomes today.   

I celebrate with much joy of my Jesus.  Because my Jesus is very much alive today as when He walked this earth.  Today I celebrate He has overcome the grave and will continue to overcome it all.  Nothing can keep my Jesus down...nothing! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

His Timing Is Perfect

Sometimes it isn't fun to celebrate your birthday with a holiday/special day.  This could be one of those times, but it got me thinking as we celebrate Courtney's 13th birthday and Good Friday. 

I can't help remember these past 13 years.  

 It was over 13 years ago, I was to be unmoved from a couch for over 3 months.  Doctors wondered if she would make it until her due date.  Worry and frustration came over me.

Courtney was 10 months old when illness struck, and left her sick until she was 4.  Our new "normal" would be life at the doctors office and Children's Hospital.  Peace and Joy remained. 

Courtney was diagnosed and misdiagnosed time and time again, before the correct diagnosis was given.  We grew tired.

Courtney endured two major surgeries.  I held Jesus' hand as worry struck me.

Courtney had a G-tube, which made her feel abnormal as we would "plug" her in so she could burp or get sick.  We thought this was her healing and rejoiced.

Courtney had to change her diet.  We needed to learn more.

She endured bullying and "not" fitting in.  Our hearts were broken.

God remained faithful and overcame!

By His stripes He has made her whole and healed!  Today she remains free from illness and pain.  She lives a life as any 13 year old would.  She knows the source of her healing and goes to Him without any hesitancy for anything.  God grew her faith. 

She speaks of her belief even in her public school classes - no matter how "foolish" she may look.  He has given her boldness.
She is quick to let go and forgive.  He is her gentleness.   

Jesus overcame the cross and overcame in Courtney and our lives. 

This year we celebrate Courtney's birth and have the privilege to be reminded of how much He has overcome.

Good Friday?

"God himself will provide the lamb..." 
Genesis 22:8

Good Friday.  When Lindsay was about 6 years old, we attended a church that did the Stations of the Cross.  We literally carried a cross, as we thought about the sacrifice years ago.  I explained to Lindsay how Jesus was mocked, beaten and then nailed to a cross on what we call Good Friday.  All of a sudden, in all of her innocence and with much concern she bursted out and asked "Mommy, what's so good about that?"

Yes.  What's so good about that? 

Jesus was ridiculed.  Beaten.  Stripped of any dignity.  Spit at.  Laughed at.  Cursed.  Brutally murdered when innocent.

So what is so good about that?

That mean thought I had for that someone earlier this week.  The harsh tone I gave my husband last night.  The healings our family had experienced.  The freedom, joy and hope that fill my soul.  The slanderous thoughts I have had for the Liberian government.  The judgement I fall into with people I meet.  The curse word that came across my mind.  The anger that can get the best of me.  The meanness I may offer.  The jealousy of the people who have a new car.  Taking life for granted.  Not being thankful when I should.  How I have dishonored my parents.  My unfaithfulness.  And the list goes on.

God took my list to the cross with him.  He thought of me as he endured the thorns on his brow, and the nails in His flesh.  God provided the sacrifice, because He loved me that much.  And that is the good of this Friday.

And the greatness of His goodness, wasn't just for me...but for us all.  One cross.  One Jesus.  One God.  One gloomy day.  For you and for me.

I will be forever grateful! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Are You on the Game Board?

I had a vision at church a couple of weeks ago.  I love when God speaks to me through pictures, because I "get it" that much more and it impacts me so.  I don't believe this vision was for just me and I want to share it with each of you.  May it be an encouragement to each of you.

What I saw was a game board.  As I pressed in to see exactly why, I was extremely amazed.  It was Chutes and Ladders.   Anyway, I saw we were His players.  The moment we accept Christ we are on that board.  I also saw Satan having a tantrum, because he knows once we are on that board, he can't have us.  The game was beautifully loud - as I heard testimonies and praising as each player moved a square and up those ladders.  It was that very act of praising and speaking our testimonies that moved us forward to be closer to God.

But what else I saw were those "chutes" (slides).  I saw people slide down them. 

If you are a lot like me you may beat yourself up when you fall into an old habit that you broke off.  Or you may beat yourself up when you think a way Christ wouldn't.  Perhaps you may loose your temper, be tempted to turn your eyes on something you shouldn't.  Whatever it is, how do you react?  I have been ashamed so much of myself, that I just can't look at God because I believe He is looking at me with that very same shame.  I have even believed the lie that if I can't overcome my mistakes then how can God even love me?  My heart is for Him, and I hate disappointing Him.

But I saw something as those people slid down those slides on that game board.  THEY WERE NEVER OFF THE BOARD!  We may have our set backs and failures.  We may feel we"ll never get close to God but the truth of the matter is...You are still in the Game.  God loves us that much!  It is His love that keeps you and me on that game board.  And whether we have the same issue that keeps us falling down the very same slide, we are still in His presence!

So where are you?  Are you going to stand with me with praise and shout our testimonies to move forward in the game?  And even overcome those slides?  I'm in!  Are you?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

This Crazy Journey called Life - Part Two

"She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said." 
Luke 10:39 NIV

Martha vs. Mary.

I always thought I was both.  God has shown me otherwise.

I thought I could be caught sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking in His words.  God has shown me otherwise.

I look now at this familiar story and see that it was Martha that opened up their home, not Lazarus (the head of the household) or Mary who is so consumed by Jesus...but Martha.  Martha opened up the opportunity for her siblings to soak in Jesus!  That is the gift of hospitality!

But the problem is:  Martha is distracted by the responsibilities.  (I can relate.)  She is probably making sure the kitchen is cleared and ready for the next task at hand, just in case her guest wants some coffee, or perhaps some chocolate chip cookies.  She wants her bathroom candles lit, and the home environment welcoming.  She doesn't want Jesus to have to worry about a thing, or feel He is imposing.  She is fretting over His encounter at their home, that she forgets to encounter Jesus, herself.  (I can so relate!)  She exhausts herself as she does the cleaning, cooking and planning, and is so absorbed on how Jesus is going to see her through these tasks at hand, instead of allowing Him to just see her.  She grumbles as the tiredness that takes hold of her emotions, and her spirit cries out "I would like to be sitting before Jesus!", but just doesn't know how when she sees more to be done. 

And that is where I am at! 

I am a Martha!

God has been calling me to encounter Him.  To sit at his feet, drink from His cup and just allow His love to shower upon me. 

I have been fretting.

I don't feel comfortable "sitting" or allowing Him to take care of me, when I see there are other people to take care of, or when I see what kind of person I am. 

Yet God still wants me to come and experience His fullness.

I have confessed to Him that this is so hard for me.  I pleaded with Him as I told Him how much I love to experience Him through serving.  Yet He wants more for me and calls me to Him.  He is answering the cry of my heart to go deeper with Him (I just didn't know it meant this way). 

A couple of weeks ago, I couldn't get moved as I tried to worship God at our women's Bible study. I struggled coming into His presence because I hadn't been serving or doing, I was just simply coming.  I know He wanted me to come, but I remained uncomfortable.

A week later, I went into the same worship setting, knowing I could come and worship the King of Kings because I was given a heart to serve once again and had another task in my hand.  And then it hit me!  My worship was according to me...not God!  OUCH!!!!

So the selfishness I felt before Him, as I wasn't serving but "just" sitting turned into just that...a worship of selfishness!  NOT what I want!

So each day I seek His voice.  I am learning to sit still (which is still a challenge) and truly enjoy the love our God has for me.  I see His hand on my shoulder, and His smile upon me.  He is helping me as He teaches.  He wants to do "simple" things for me.  I am experiencing doors closing and a quietness behind them that I have never experienced.  And I am beginning to hear the heartbeat of God!

And I am learning it is OK.

And you know what?  It feels good to be so loved!