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!