Monday, December 21, 2009

photos of late...

here are some pictures from this fall that i just have not taken the time to post. they start back in october with keri and eric's wedding in kerrville, where our motto for the weekend was "what happens in kerrville stays in kerrville." that is why only some of the stories will be told.

this one is of my dear friend adrianne and i. i love and admire this woman! 

"ah ha, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus."


this is all of us with keri at the saloon in the YO ranch.  we just kept the party going.


this young man was my dance partner at the saloon. one of the many dares that night that i could not pass up. he was delighted!


here we are with the BEAUTIFUL bride!


all the single ladies...


on the way back after the wedding, crammed into the excursion limo. chris is not pictured here because the old ladies were busy flirting with him.



now, fast forward about 5 weeks to november 21 for a friend's awesome 30th birthday party! here are the roomies and i.



then of course, the necessary look awesome portrait.

and then on the dance floor.





then fast forward a few more weeks to my traditional thankmas party.  these are just a few pics from our photo station.and yes, i was a reindeer.

 


this was the most creative costume by far, a black friday shopping mom.  unbelievable marie!

[valley of vision] reproofs...

i did not want to pray this one. seriously. it has been a battle.

reproofs
from the valley of vision

o merciful god,

when i hear of disagreeable things amongst christians,
  it brings an additional weight and burden on my spirit;
i come to thee in my distress and make lamentable complaint;

teach me how to take reproofs from friends,
  even though i think i do not deserve them;

use them to make me tenderly afraid of sin,
  more jealous over myself;
  more concerned to keep heart and life unblameable;

cause them to help me
  to reflect on my want of spirituality,
  to abhor myself,
  to look upon myself as unworthy,
  and make them beneficial to my soul.
 
may all thy people know how little, mean, and vile i am,
  that they may see i am nothing,
  less than nothing,
  to be accounted nothing,
  that so they may pray for me aright,
  and have not the least dependence upon me.

it is sweet to be nothing and have nothing,
  and to be fed with crumbs from thy hands.
blessed be thy name for anything that life brings.

how do poor souls live who have not thee,
  or when helpless have no god to go to,
  who feel not the constraining force of thy love,
  and the sweetness of communion?
o how admirably dost thou captivate the soul,
  making all desires and affections centre on thee!

give me such vivacity in religion,
  that i may be able to take all reproofs from other men
  as from thy hands,
  and glorify thee for them
  from a sense of they beneficent love
  and of my need to have my pride destroyed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

[valley of vision] humiliation....

so i have not been able to move past this prayer in a week. i love it!

humiliation
from the valley of vision

sovereign lord,
when clouds of darkness, atheism, and unbelief come to me,
i see thy purpose of love
  in withdrawing the spirit that i might prize him more,
  in chastening me for my confidence in
   past successes, that my wound of secret godlessness might be cured.
help me to humble myself before thee
  by seeing the vanity of honour
    as a conceit of men's minds,
    as standing between me and thee;
  by seeing that thy will must alone be done,
    as mush in denying as in giving
      spiritual enjoyments;
  by seeing that my heart is nothing but evil,
    mind, mouth, life void of thee;
  by seeing that sin and satan are allowed power
    in me that i might know my sin, be humbled,
      and gain strength thereby;
  by seeing that unbelief shuts thee from me,
    so that i sense not thy majesty, power, mercy,
      or love.
then possess me, for thou only art good and worhty.

thou dost not play in convincing me of sin,
satan did not play in tempting me to it,
i do not play when i sink in deep mire,
  for sin is not game, no toy, no bauble,
let me never forget the heinousness of sin lies
  not so much in the nature of the sin committed,
  as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.
when i am afraid of evils to come, comfort me,
    by showing me me
  that in myself i am a dying, condemned wretch,
  but that in christ i am reconciled, made alive,
    and satisfied;
  that i am feeble and unable to do any good,
  but that in him i can do all things,
  that what i now have in christ is mine in part,
  but shortly i shall have it perfectly in heaven.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the lesser told part of the christmas story...

as i was preparing curriculum to teach to our kids, i just felt the lord leading me to write about things pre luke 2. to talk about things not often told in the christmas story, but the things that are essential to understanding it.  most kids could tell you the story about the baby in the manger, but many of them and many of us, lack an understanding as to why it is that big of deal. in fact, i think we know it should be a big deal, but do not feel as if it is.  that is part of the reason i think there is so much hype and busyness around christmas. the busyness can be an effort to make up for what we think we should be feeling.

so this week, we are teaching the kids a lesson that made me cry as i wrote it. (i totally used the jesus storybook bible pages 170-175 to write the lesson.)  i thought i would share it with you guys, in hopes that the lord uses it to help you start the christmas season with the right worship in mind, before we all get too wrapped up in the other fun stuff (like my big thankmas party in 2 weeks). so here is the gist of what we are teaching the kids this sunday. (it will a bit more polished by then, but you get the idea.)

Good morning boys and girls! Can anyone tell me what month it is? That is right, December!And what big holiday happens in December? Yes Christmas!!Well today we are going to talk about the Christmas story, but probably about a part that is usually not talked about that much at Christmas. Today our story is found in the Old Testament.And we have lots to cover, so lets get after it!


First, we are going to start with the story from the book of Ezra.Before we read this section, let’s talk about what is going on. The Israelites were the people of God. Remember how they followed Moses out of Egypt. Then they went into the promised land.Then they had some good kings and then they had some not so good kings and they quit following God. So God had other countries come in and attack them and they became slaves again and had to live in other countries and by others rules.Then we come to Ezra chapter 7, and we see that God is rescuing his people.He lets them go free and go back to where they were living.They are excited and Ezra and Nehemiah are helping them rebuild their cities (remember Nehemiah and the wall?). Well Ezra and Malachi begin reminding them about all of God’s law.


Now let’s take a quick look at God’s law and all he expects.
(show some slides or read some scripture with examples)


And that is only a small piece.God is a holy God and he had rules and laws that he expected them to obey. They could not. They tried and tried and they kept failing. Even their great king, David could not do it. As Ezra was reading the law to them, they were reminded that would always fail. And they wept. They could not do it.They would never succeed.


God used many men to tell his people that he would send someone to be their king that would not fail. Someone that would be able to do all God asked them to do. Someone that would rescue them. They had a feast to celebrate this good news, but not too long after this, many fell back into a sense of hopelessness. And you know what, not too long after this, God was silent. He did not speak through men for a very long time. All they had was this promise that God was going to send someone.


Many forgot. Many gave up. The hopelessness was too much to bear. BUT, then one night, there was born a tiny baby in a manger. A baby that was God with us. After being silent for so long, God sent his son in the form of a baby. And we know that baby would grow up and live a perfect life. He would be crucified on the cross to pay for all of our sins and all of the sins of those before us.And he would not stay dead, but he would rise again.


Don’t you see boys and girls, why Christmas is such a big deal. Without Jesus we, just like the Israelites are hopeless. We cannot keep all of God’s laws. We cannot be perfect. We mess up. Our hearts forget about God and run after other things. Before we know it we are in trouble, just like the Israelites. Trouble we cannot get out of. But that night, in a manger, the Hope of the world was born! The one, the only one who could free us was born! God was not silent anymore!! In fact he came closer to us than ever before!


We can learn many things from this story. God is holy and expects a lot from us. But he also loves us. He loves us enough that he sent his son to live the life that we could not.He showed compassion on us!This also reminds us that God has a plan. Even when he is silent and does not seem to be around, he has a plan.


This is why we can sing Joy to the World, because the good news of Christ should bring joy to the entire world. This is why we can talk about this Holy night, because this night the entire world found its hope.We sing come let us adore him because we love him so much! How great is our God?! Let’s pray.


Dear Lord, we are so thankful that you sent your son. Lord, we just like the Israelites always fail and we are hopeless! Thank you for sending Jesus in a manger. Thank you for saving us! Help us to remember your compassion and to celebrate you this season!Lord help us understand what this means. Amen!

(the follow scripture is what we referenced: ezra 7, malachi 1,3, nehemiah 8-10, romans 8:1-4)

Monday, November 30, 2009

recovery...


recovery is christ centered step program that the austin stone has every wednesday night (similar to celebrate recovery).  i have been going to recovery since january, when i finally admitted that i was living in anxiety and was out of control.  god has used recovery to change my life, and while that is a beautiful and hard story, that is not the purpose of this post.  i want to use this post to talk about what recovery is and who it is for.

i have several conversations with people inquiring about recovery and what it is and if it is for them.  most people say, "i have been debating about coming to recovery, but my issues are not like drugs and alcohol." i totally get that. one of my major hesitations in coming (besides my big huge pride) was that i had this idea of what kind of people were going to be coming to recovery. my judgmental heart was thinking i was not like them, i had nothing in common with them and to be completely honest, did not want to associate with them. i know horrible to type out, but it was true, and i am getting the feeling that many other people have some idea in their mind as to what recovery is like and who will be there that just is not accurate.  thankfully for me, the lord put several people in my life that were walking through recovery at the same time and i felt comfortable with them.  at some point, he also showed me how prideful and arrogant all my thoughts and judgments were.  that i do not get to decide if someone is worthy of my time or worthy of me to share my junk with.  he also showed me that my junk was not less worse than anyone who was struggling with drugs, alcohol, or sexual addiction. i was quite convicted.  i quickly learned that recovery is for anyone. anyone humble enough to admit they struggle and desiring to confront those struggles with the gospel in a community of other people who also admit they are broken.


the longer i have been in recovery, the more i realized that many of us have the same root sin and heart issues. our coping mechanisms are just different.  some are more socially acceptable than others.  programs like recovery have usually been for people who struggle with the sins that are less socially acceptable or more obvious, but really, recovery at the stone is for anyone who wants to get at the root issue, no matter what your coping mechanism is. for example,  because i did not trust god or truly believed that he loved me, i looked to people. and when they failed me, i judged them to make me feel better about not being accepted by them. i lived in anxiety trying to please them and make them want me. to escape this judgmental anxiety that was my hell for so long, i turned to daydreams and let my thought life run wild. after all, being there was way better than being in the here and now. walking through a step study in recovery helped me pinpoint my lack of trust in god. after talking to many of my friends, i realized that we have similar root problems but we just turn to different things for escape, pleasure and comfort. some are just more noticeable than others.

i can hear all the objections you are thinking already, but only because i also had them all.  "who will be there?" "what will people think of me?" "what if everyone is weird?" "i do not have time for this." "i confessed my sin and feel better, i do not need this." "recovery is for weak people" (yes i actually had this very thought). all they while i was hiding in my pride, guilt and shame.

i know recovery is not for everyone, god has used many other methods for healing his people for years, long before recovery was ever in existence.  and i know it is not the program that heals, but rather it is the gospel. but, if you have a struggle that you can't seem to shake, that has defeated you for quite some time, that you have stuffed away and not wanted to deal with, i would encourage you to come check it out. oh it will feel awkward and you will most definitely feel uncomfortable, but i think you will also find a place where your sin has to be confronted with the gospel.

i am still in recovery even though i have experienced many victories, because a) i am not fully recovered and will not be until jesus comes back. and b) i love the community there. the community that knows me and asks me boldly about my struggles, all with the intention of pointing me to christ and steering me from my coping mechanisms! there is also so much encouragement that comes from hearing other people's stories and seeing the lord change their lives.  recovery is important for me and others like me, who are not good at admitting our faults, our need for god, and our need for help. i like to always have it together but each week, when i walk through the doors to recovery, i am openly admitting that i do not have it together.

if you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask away! i would be more than happy to answer them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

respectable sins: anger... [part two]

so sorry that posts have been so slow in coming these days. i have had trouble finding time to write, which means that i am too busy. here is the second post on the anger chapters.
"we tend to think of anger in terms of episodes. we get angry and then we get over it. sometimes we apologize to the person who is the object of our anger, and sometimes we don't. but somehow the other person, apology or not, gets over his defensive response, whether an angry outward retort or an inner resentment, and life goes on as usual. the relationship has been scarred but not broken. its not a great way to live with one another, but its tolerable. that seems to be the way far too many believers view the sin of anger. they've just come to accept it as part of life" (129).
this quote describes my life. being prideful and non-confrontational has made this the only acceptable response for me.  i am too prideful to admit when i have wronged someone or when i lashed out in anger or passive aggression.  and i am too non-confrontational to tell someone when they have hurt me, i just try to take it and get over it, all the while, most of the time i am just stuffing it. this formula creates the perfect storm for me, which leads to what bridges calls the weeds of anger.  that is what this chapter is about, anger that goes on, never being dealt with.

in the last post we talked about how most of time when we are angry, it is sin because it is not righteous anger.  ephesians 4:26 tells us that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. this is because most of our anger is sin and when we let sin go, it just leaves an open door for other sin. scripture calls us to put away our anger quickly, but not to stuff it as i often do, but to confess it, seek forgiveness and address the root.  if not it will only cause trouble. weeds of unresolved anger will appear.

the first of these weeds that bridges addresses is resentment.  bridges says, "most often it is internalized. it arises in the heart of a person who is ill-treated in some way but who does not feel in a position to anything about it"(130).  it is "more difficult to deal with than outwardly expressed anger because the person often continues to nurse his wounds and dwell on his ill-treatment"(130). (i am a pro at this because i know it is not socially acceptable to blow up at someone, so if i keep it inside it is better).

the second "weed" is bitterness.  bridges defines bitterness as "resentment that has grown into a feeling of ongoing animosity. whereas resentment may dissipate over time, bitterness continues to grow and fester, developing an even higher degree of ill will"(130). you often hear people say, "i have forgiven them, but i do not want anything to do with them." this is not forgiveness.  bridges points out that "true forgiveness results in a restored relationship, not continuing animosity"(131).

the third "weed" is enmity and hostility and they "denote a higher level of ill will or animosity than does bitterness. ...[it] is usually expressed more openly. often it is in the form of denigrating or even hateful speech toward or about the objects of animosity. ...[it also] usually spreads its poison outward to involve other people."

the fourth "weed" is a grudge. bridges explains that the word grudges occurs 5 times in the bible and it is associated with taking revenge. most of us do not get to the stage where we carry out revenge, but "people will plan, if only in their minds, ways to get revenge against the person they hold a grudge against. they usually do not execute those plans but they get a perverse enjoyment out of going over them in their minds"(132).  ashamedly, i can say that i have been here before. imagining conversations or situations and what i would say that would cause them to feel the hurt that i have felt. this brings some sense of relief or enjoyment, but really only place more shackles on you.

the fifth "weed" is strife.  bridges says this "describes open conflict or turmoil between parties, usually between opposing groups as distinct from individuals" (133). this is where we see church fights/splits and family feuds.

reading this quickly reveals that anger when held on to can become VERY dangerous and destructive! thankfully bridges moves on to give us some pointers on how to deal with anger.  first he reminds us again that anger is never static and must be dealt with. this has been a bit overwhelming to me as i examine my life and see how deep my resentments go and far my anger is stuffed inside of me. but the lord has been faithful over the last year to make me address stuff even though it seems enormous, rather than just continuing to pretend it does not exist.

next, bridges tells us that we must always look to the sovereignty of god. we have to trust that god is sovereign and in control and that he has allowed this harm to happen for some purpose that we do not see. now this can sound like a cop out, but i have found that when i really stop and think about this, it is the ONLY thing that brings me comfort and hope. for me, i have seen that these circumstances have often caused me to learn more about my savior and my need for him.

bridges then tells us to pray that god would enable us to grow more in love, love life he loves us. "the love that overlooks an offense doesn't just happen, it comes as we pursue it diligently in dependence on the holy spirit"(135). remember 1 corinthians 13 teaches us that love is not easily angered, nor does it keep a record of wrongs. if you keep thinking about the wrongs that have been done to you, you have not forgiven yet.  forgiveness takes time.  when we are hurt, our natural inclination is not to absorb the wrong. but the more we know christ and his love for us and the more we depend on the spirit, the more this will come.  i am in need of some serious growth here! 

the final direction is to learn to forgive as the god has forgiven us. again matthew 18:21-35 pretty much kicks my tail here.  my unwillingness to forgive others shows my lack of understanding of christ's forgiveness of me and the amount he has forgiven me.  when i dwell on the enormity of christ's forgiveness of me then my heart of bitterness begins to melt. until i am truly able to acknowledge that i am the worst of sinners, then i will always be in a place to hold a grudge or demand repayment for a wrong done to me.  a long-term unwillingness to forgive is a flag that perhaps we do not understand or believe the gospel.

bridges again makes a point to remind us that he is writing this that we may be able to bring our sin, even our respectable sins into the light and be healed. that we may be free from the bondage of sin. i know that anger is one of my favorite respectable sins in my life.  the next chapter, judgementalism, is another favorite.  lord, forgive me for all those that i have hurt in my sin of anger!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

[adoption] finances and picking an agency...

i have had many people ask me where am i in the adoption process and what am i still thinking.  well here is the latest update.  last week, i met with a couple from our church, some dear friends of mine, to look over my finances, get some advice and set some goals. as i said before, i still have about $8000 worth of dumb credit card debt to pay off and that is looking much more feasible than ever before.

i also went to an event where i had the opportunity to meet and talk with 5 different foster agencies.  i really like 2 of them (pathways and arrow). i am still praying about it, but i really felt a connection with the staff from pathways, so that might be the one i go with.  in general, i got a lot more information about where to start and how long classes are and such.  it was really great, but i initially walked away discouraged.  i realized that the paper work for my homestudy is going to take longer than i thought.  you see i was really hoping to be getting matched at this time next year, but i cannot start the homestudy paperwork until i have a place of my own (which i knew) and the homestudy paper work can take 60-90 days i was told (which i did not know).  if i was out of debt already, i could get my own place sooner and the start the homestudy sooner, but alas, it looks like it will be spring 2011 before i will begin the matching process.  i left, sad that it was going to take so long. the lord was quick to comfort me that this has been his story from the beginning and that is was his idea and that he is writing it on his timeline with his provisions.  i need to just seek him and trust.  in reality this longer period will allow me to be more prepared, but i don't like to wait.  2011 seems to far away. 

so please pray that the lord will continue to provide for me to get out of debt and that i will continue to trust him, rather than take matters into my own plans.  also, please pray for my kid out there somewhere.  pray that they already will begin to feel the love of the savior!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

rejoice in trial...

rejoice in trial. ya, i think we all know that we are supposed to do that, but if we are honest, most of the time that is the last thing we feel like doing.  so we usually resort to two things. 
  • we either fake it and make up some kind of begrudging joy, all the while stuffing how we feel and not admitting that life is really hard right now. of and we for sure don't tell anyone how deep this struggle is. after all, good christians, rejoice - so pull it together. so rather than truly rejoicing, we sink deeper and deeper into despair and isolation. 
  • the other response is to give up on god. this suffering stuff stinks and there is no way i can rejoice, christianity must not be for me.
how can we truly rejoice? 1 peter 1:3-9 tells us. verse 6 is where peter tells us to rejoice, though now for a little while we are being grieved.  what are we to be rejoicing in? our trial? partly, because through our trial we are being made more like christ and we are glorifying him. but i will be honest, but that is not usually what causes the rejoicing in my sinful heart. 

let's look at what verses 3-5 tell us.  they say that we are born again to a living hope, that we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, and that we are being guarded by god's power (THE most powerful).  i think peter is telling to rejoice in those things. when trials come, and they will again and again, peter is telling us to look to the gospel for comfort, not just try and be happy in our circumstances. he wants us to remember. remember that we were brought from death to life and that we have a god who is always with us and always in control. sometimes things are so dark that we cannot figure out what god is doing or we cannot hear him, but we can cling to what we know.  we know he was pierced for our transgressions, conquered the grave, and there is now no condemnation in christ.

so, when i am faced with the dark times and trials, please preach the gospel to me and remind that i have cause to rejoice.  rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible because my god will not withhold anything from me.

we have so much trouble rejoicing because rather than turning the gospel for comfort, we turn to friends, drinks, tv, isolation, relationships, etc. all things that will fall short of producing inexpressible joy in us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

christmas music already...

i broke the seal and started listening to christmas music this past sunday. i love it! i know that it is not even thanksgiving, but if there was good thanksgiving music i would play it. there just simply is not. so instead i will roll out my 22 hours of musical joy!  what do i like?  well check this blog post from last year where is listed my top 25 holiday favorites. enjoy it! after all, 'tis the season to be jolly!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

psalm 136...

i know i have written on this passage before, but it gets me every time i read it. his steadfast love endures forever! his steadfast love endures forever!  in each verse, the author of this psalm proclaims something about god's majesty or reminds us of his provision in the past and then follows is up with "his steadfast love endures forever." this repetitive passage is quick to remind my doubting and fearful heart that his love never changes and it lasts forever.  just like he worked in mighty ways in the bible, he works like that today! he is the same yesterday, today and forever. he is unchanging. what i know about him in the past i can cling to in the present and for the future. his is still the god that speaks and things happen. the god who let one million people walk out of slavery after 400 years. the god who parted the red sea. the god who provided water from a rock and manna on the ground.  the god who stopped the sun. the god who shut the mouths of very hungry lions. that same god is still that powerful and faithful today!  i just need that reminder like everyday!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
2Give thanks to the God of gods,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.

3Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
 4to him who alone does great wonders,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

5to him who by understanding made the heavens,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

6to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

7to him who made the great lights,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

8the sun to rule over the day,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

9the moon and stars to rule over the night,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
 10to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

11and brought Israel out from among them,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

12with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

13to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

15but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

16to him who led his people through the wilderness,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
 17to him who struck down great kings,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

18and killed mighty kings,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

19Sihon, king of the Amorites,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

20and Og, king of Bashan,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

21and gave their land as a heritage,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

22a heritage to Israel his servant,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
 23It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

24and rescued us from our foes,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

25he who gives food to all flesh,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
 26Give thanks to the God of heaven,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
- psalm 136

Friday, November 13, 2009

[valley of vision] paradoxes...

paradoxes
from the valley of vision

o changeless god,

under the conviction of thy spirit i learn that
  the more i do, the worse i am,
the more i know, the less i know,
the more holiness i have the more sinful i am,
the more i love, the more there is to love.
  o wretched man that i am!

o lord,
  i have a wild heart,
  and cannot stand before thee;
i am like a bird before a man.
how little i love thy truth and ways!
i neglect prayer,
  by thinking i have prayed enough and earnestly,
  by knowing thou hast saved my soul.

of all hypocrites, grant that i may not be
  an evangelical hypocrite,
  who sins more safely because grace abounds,
  who tells his lusts that christ's blood cleanseth them,
  who reasons that god cannot cast him into hell,
    for he is saved,
  who love evangelical preaching, churches, christians, but lives unholily.

my mind is a bucket without a bottom,
  with no spiritual understanding,
  no desire for the lord's day,
  ever learning but never reaching the truth,
  always at the gospel-well but never holding water.

my conscience is without conviction or contrition,
  with nothing to repent of.
my will is without power of decision or resolution.
my heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
my memory has no retention,
  so i forget easily the lessons learned,
  and they truths seep away.
give me a broken heart that carries home
  the water of grace.

i know that you can do all things...

then job answered the LORD and said:
"i know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
'who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'  
therefore i have uttered what i did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which i did not know.
'hear, and I will speak; i will question you, and you make it known to me.'
i had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you; 
therefore i despise myself,
and repent dust and ashes." 
- job 42:2-6
how many times have i questioned god and his timing or his method or his goodness? i know that god is good and that he reigns. well at least i know that in my head, but my heart still says "why god? why this? what are you doing? this is unfair. i never wanted this. i mean if you are good, wouldn't you do this?" for me, this questioning often reflects an attitude of my heart that really thinks that i know better, or worse, an attitude that would rather have my desires filled now and in this way, that have god and his plan.

the reason my heart has those attitudes (and more) is because i am prideful and forget how little i know and understand.  i forget that his ways are higher than mine. that he is always working. that he is not a reactive god, but a god who has a plan. how many times like job have i questioned or complained about something that i do not understand. things job reminds us that are too wonderful for us  and things which we do not know.  job 38-42 is a wonderful rebuke and reminder for me of god's control, power, plan and faithfulness. i recommend reading it (and rereading it and rereading it) if you find yourself questioning god, doubting his goodness, wondering if he is out there, etc.

how limited is my knowledge, how limited is my thinking. lord i repent! i know that you can do all things that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  help my unbelief and forgive my arrogance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

fight or flight...


fight or flight. a psychology term used to describe how we react in scary situations. can you guess what i am? i am hands down a fighter. i had my first real fight in kindergarten. it was against a boy, one of my best friends, matthew.  we were at the bus stop, which happened to be in front of my house, waiting for our bus. matthew told me he was going to get on the bus first. i quickly replied that ladies got to go first and stepped in front of him.  he then proceeded to pull my hair, and i am SUPER tender-headed (my family should have owned stock in no-more-tangles because it hurt to even brush my hair, or so i said). so i promptly turned around and punched him to the ground.  no one pulls my hair. in fact, once i had him on the ground i continued to punch him to teach him a lesson. my mom came running out and broke-up the fight just in time for the bus to arrive. i clearly had one, but sadly neither one of us got to board the bus that day. i was in big trouble.  i had taught matthew to respect ladies, but it came at a cost!

i have not been in a physical fight since kindergarten, but i have wanted to be. the thought crosses my mind a lot. it does not usually involve an argument any more though.  (thank you jesus for sanctifying me) it now involves wanting to defend those that i love or myself. for example, a few weeks back there was a really rough storm that blew through at like 5:00am.  it made our screen door open and slam.  my roommate rachel was already up for school (god bless her soul) and she thought someone was trying to break in.  she freaked out and wanted to come wake me up because she was so scared.  my response when i heard the door was, "who the heck is breaking in? they will pay for waking me up!" and i began to look for a weapon before i realized it was just the storm. had it been a person coming in, i think i would have charged at them with a bat, knife or something.  no fear! no flight, just fight!

i also find myself wanting to defend my friends. sometimes it goes beyond defense to payback. a totally non-gospel centered response, but a frequent thought in my mind.  i get to hear people's stories a lot (a great bonus to my job) and when  hear about someone hurting someone else, be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, my reaction is usually a thought along the lines of "if i ever see them i will punch them in the throat." as much as i hate conflict, this changes when you hurt someone i love. it is like my pwn incredible hulk expereince, minus the green and the muscles.  if you hurt someone i love and i am not walking in the spirit, watch out!

the funny thing is that i have not been in a physical fight since that day at the bus stop, but in my fight or flight mode, i do not seem to care. i have no idea how i would do, but in my visions of granduer, i always seem to think i will win!i have realized that this is of course a gift and a weakness. my strength is that i will not cower and i will protect, but my weakness is anger and acting on my anger rather or wanting revenge rather than trusting the lord.

just a little random fact for you. no wonder i am always going around hitting and pushing people. i have not been in a good fight in like 24 years. want to fight?

post script: this need to fight may be traced back to the karate kid movies i saw as a kid.  i wanted to be karate kid when i was a child. went as him one year for halloween even.

respectable sins: anger... [part one]

bridges addresses anger in two chapters and acknowledges that he is only scratching the surface.  i really liked these two chapters. very convicting for me. anger is for sure one of the sins that i continually fall into and then sweep it under the rug or just dismiss it. so let's dive in.

"anger is a universal problem, prevalent in every culture, experienced by every generation. no one is isolated from its presence or immune from its poison. it permeates each person and spoils our most intimate relationships. anger is a given part of our fallen human fabric."
- uprooting anger by robert jones

bridges defines anger as "a strong feeling of displeasure, and usually of antagonism. [and]... it's often accompanied by sinful emotions, words, and actions hurtful to those who are are the objects of our anger"(121).

he pauses here to define righteous anger so that we can differentiate between sinful anger and righteous anger.
"righteous anger arises from an accurate perception of true evil - that is, as a violation of god's moral law. it focuses on god and his will, not on me and my will. second, righteous anger is always self-controlled. it never causes one to lose his temper or retaliate in some vengeful way"(122).
nine times out of ten, my anger is somehow about me and how i have been wronged. it is not because my lord is being defamed. and my lack of self-control is proof that it is sinful.

bridges then comes at us with a dagger and says:
"no one causes us to be angry. someone else's word or actions may become the occasion of our anger, but the cause lies deep within us - usually our pride, or selfishness, or desire to control" (122).
boom! i often play the blame game with anger.  i am so angry because so and so did this... when in reality, when so and so did such and such it made me look bad, embarrassed me, let me down, or hurt me.  bridges reminds us that we chose how we respond to someone's sinful actions towards us.  [1 peter 2:18-20]

so when we find ourselves angry, we need to stop and acknowledge and confess the sin.  we need to ask ourselves, why are we angry. what is the deeper issue here?  take time to examine what really made us angry and what would a gospel centered response look like? we need to remember how scripture teaches us to treat one another. [1 corinthians 13:4-8, ephesians 4:32] if we have expressed our anger toward someone, we need to seek their forgiveness.  i do not do this well. i just hope that it will just blow over and that they will know that i am not normally like that, or that they will not do that again to make me mad. lastly, bridges points out that we need to trust god and his sovereignty over everything, even the affairs of our daily lives. when we remember that god is in control of all and that he is all powerful, it makes it a tad easier to see the current situation as a way to make us more like christ in our response.

bridges takes a brief section of this chapter to point out that anger towards god is a sin. i think we can all think of a time when we were angry with god about something. sometimes it is something big and life changing but most times it is something that we do not understand and it begins subtly as questioning. then the questioning turns into a manipulation of proverbs 3:4-5 "god i need/deserve this and if you were real you would provide it."

a specific example of this in my life is singleness. i have wrestled with this a lot. "god, why have you not brought me someone? why do you say that it is not good for man to be alone, yet you have no one for me? you have given me this desire, you owe it to me to fulfill it." the lord finally humbled me and showed me that what i was essentially saying was, "your plan stinks. i don't trust it. i want to be married now, in fact i should have been a long time ago." after this humiliation, i had to remind myself that the lord withholds no good thing from me and that he is in complete control and knows what is best and will provide for all my needs. see what this anger revealed? thankfully after much wrestling, the lord has brought me to a place where i trust him with my future mate or future singleness.  he changed my view from wanting to live this life married to wanting to live this life for the kingdom, married or not.

so when you find yourself angry at god, and you will if you are human, we need to acknowledge it as sin and repent.  why is it sin? god is big enough to handle it right?  it is a sin because "it is a moral judgment, and in the case of god, it accuses him of wrongdoing" (127).  bridges is quick to say that the solution to this problem is not just stuffing away the feelings because we know they are wrong, but rather to focus on the heart issue: not trusting in god and his sovereignty and power. 

but what about the sin against us? what about how we were wronged? don't we have a right to be angry about that? i will let scripture answer that for us. matthew 18:15-35 ought to be convicting enough. this is a VERY convicting passage for me. i always want to look at how someone has wronged me and i forget how christ has forgiven me. that my wrongs meant he had to die for me.  bridges poses a great thought.
"do i believe that this difficult situation or this unjust treatment is under the sovereign control of god and that in his infinite wisdom and goodness he is using these difficult circumstances to conform me more ot the likeness of christ" (124). hebrews 12:4-11 romans 8:28
that is enough to read and think on for one blog post. i will write another that covers bridges second chapter on anger: the weeds of anger and how to deal with our anger.


Monday, November 9, 2009

[valley of vision] the "nevers" of the gospel...

i have been praying through this prayer from valley of vision for the last several days. i love it! it has become another favorite.

the nevers of the gospel
from valley of vision

o lord,
may i never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth,
never rest in a system of doctrine, however
scriptural, that does not bring or further salvation,
or teach me  to deny ungodliness and worldy lusts,
or help me to live soberly, righteously, godly;

never rely on my own convictions and resolution,
but be strong in they and thy might.
never cease to find thy grace sufficient
in all my duties, trials, and conflicts;
never for forget to repair to thee
in all my spiritual distresses and outward troubles,
in all the dissatisfactions experienced in creature comforts;

never fail to retreat to him who is full of grace
and truth, the friend that loveth at all times,
who is touched with feelings of my infirmities,
and can do exceeding abundantly for me;
never confine my religion to extraordinary
occasions, but acknowledge thee in all my ways,
never limit my devotions to particular seasons
but be in thy fear all the day long;
never be godly only on the sabbath or in they house,
but on everyday abroad and at home;
never make piety a dress but a habit,
not only a habit but a nature,
not only a nature but a life.

do good to my by all they dispensations,
by all means of grace,
by worship, prayers, praises,
and at last let me enter that world where is
no temple, but only thy glory
and the lamb's.


(i promise, i will finish the respectable sins blogs. they are coming, i just have been too busy to write.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

[valley of vision] the great discovery...

i read this prayer on monday this week. tuesday i attended a hard funeral in the morning and a baptism service that night. then i read this again and it made me weep in gratitude to remember my salvation. to think of life without christ (as i saw at the funeral) and to remember that i LIVE in christ (as i was reminded of at the baptism). thank you jesus!



the great discovery
from the valley of vision

glorious god, 
i bless thee that i know thee.
i once lived in the world, but was ignorant of its creator,
was partaker of thy providences , but knew not the provider, 
was blind while enjoying the sunlight,
was deaf to things spiritual, with voices all around me, 
understood many things, but had no knowledge of thy ways, 
saw the world, but did not see jesus only.

o happy day, when in they love's sovereignty thou didst look on me, and call me by grace.

then did the dead heart begin to beat, 
the darkened eye glimmer with light, 
the dull ear catch thy echo, 
and i turned to thee and found thee, 
a god ready to hear, willing to save.

then did i find my heart at enmity to thee,
vexing thy spirit;

then did i fall at thy feet and hear thee thunder, 
'the soul that sinneth, it must die',

but when grace made me to know thee, 
and admire a god who hated sin, 
thy terrible justice held my will submissive.

my thoughts were as knives cutting my head.

then didst thou come to me in silken robes of love, 
and i saw they son dying that i might live, 
and in that death i found my all.

my soul doth sing at the remembrance of that peace;

the gospel cornet brought a sound unknown
to me before that reached my heart - and i lived -
never to lose my hold on christ or his hold on me.

grant that i may always weep to the praise of mercy found, 
and tell to others as long as i live, 
that thou art a sin-pardoning god, 
taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly, 
and washing them form their deepest stain.

Friday, October 30, 2009

[adoption] a picture of the gospel in my life...

 "but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of god." 
- john 1:12

"for all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of godfor you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “abba! father!” the spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of god, and if children, then heirs—heirs of god and fellow heirs with christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." 
- romans 8:14-17



"for in christ jesus you are all sons of god, through faith." 
- galatians 3:26

"but when the fullness of time had come, god sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. and because you are sons, god has sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, 'abba! father!' so you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through god." 
- galatians 4:4-7

one of the things that stirs my heart the most about adoption is the picture of my adoption in christ.  i am a part of the family of god, i am a daughter of the king.  i can cry out to him as my abba father!  but that came at a price.  i was helpless and under the law. left to care for myself. to try and survive. to try and succeed. to please others so that i would feel loved. to prove to others that i was worth something.  to try to and be strong and defend myself. i tried to keep all the rules. i fought to be noticed and desired to be wanted.  hoping someone would choose me.

this was the story of my life and as hard as i tried, things never seemed to improve. until jesus entered. he bought me with a price. he paid my debt. he chose me.he chose me in all my filthy rags, failed attempts, dysfunctions, disorders, and he knew that i would even leave him and seek love elsewhere. but he chose me. he loved the unlovable. he has taken the girl who has tried to prove herself and told her that she has nothing to prove. she is fully loved and accepted.  of course i have trouble believing this sometimes, and i resort back to my old ways.  but he even loves the girl who forgets how much her father loves her and runs after other things. he loves the girl who can blow through an entire day without thinking about him, when he has been thinking about her since the creation of the world.

every time i think on such things, my mind goes to think of the millions of little ones out there who have no one here on earth to care for them. they are unknown, unwanted, despised, looked down upon or just overlooked. what a picture of the gospel! my child is out there right now and it scares me to think what he/she is going through right now. i can't wait to hold them in my arms and whisper the love of our redeemer into their ears. to tell them of the one who loves us like no one else can.  the one who really adopted us.

when i think of these things, all the challenges that i will face seem to not be so scary anymore. i know that my kid will have problems and that i am not going to be a perfect parent and together we are broken. but i know i have a redeemer who loves us more that we could imagine! how could i not share that. how could i not tell these little ones that?

oh i can't wait! i want to do it tomorrow!

[valley of vision] living for jesus...

living for jesus
from valley of vision

o savior of sinners,
they name is excellent,
thy glory high,
they compassions unfailing,
they condescension wonderful,
thy mercy tender.

i bless thee for the discoveries, invitations,
promises of the gospel
for in them is pardon for rebels,
liberty for captives,
health for the sick,
salvation for the lost.

i come to thee in thy beloved name of jesus;
re-impress thy image upon my soul;
raise me above the smiles and frowns of the world,
regarding it as a light thing to be judged by men;

may thy approbation be my only aim,
thy word my one rule.
make me to abhor that which grieves thy holy spirit,
to suspect consolations of a worldy nature,
to reprove evil,
to instruct with meekness those who oppose me,
to be gentle and patient towards all men,
to not only be a professor but an example of the gospel,
displaying in every relation, office, and condition
its excellency, loveliness and advantages.

how little have i illustrated my principles
and improved my privileges!
how seldom i served my generation!
how often have i injured and not recommended my redeemer!
how few are those blessed through me!
in many things i have offended, in all come short of thy glory;
pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

trip to phoenix...

a few weeks ago i got a free standby ticket to go see my friend ginger, who lives in phoenix. here are a few pictures of the adventures that we had. love this girl!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

inconspicuous...


i came home to this yesterday. what it is? i am sure you can't tell. but it is two boxes covered by my doormat so that no one can see them.  our UPS man does this every time we get a package.  i think it only attracts more attention, but hey, he's the professional.  to give him credit, this technique has worked so far. no packages have been stolen. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

respectable sins: impatience and irritability

a short chapter that calls out a sin we all deal with. be it with our spouse, our kids, our roommates, behind the wheel of a car, with our co-workers, etc. it does not take a hard search to see this sin in our lives.  we tend to exhibit this sin most easily with those who we spend a lot of time with.

bridges defines impatience as "a strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others. this impatience is often expressed verbally in a way that tends to humiliate the person (or persons) who is the object of the impatience"(116).

he defines irritability as "the frequency of impatience, or the ease with which a person can become impatient over the slightest provocation"(118).

impatience exposes our pride. we think our way of doing something is better. we think our time is more important. we think we are smarter, sharper or better, etc. we are hardly putting someone else before ourselves. we do not think that someone else is as valuable as christ would see them. as with pride, in the midst of our impatience, our own faults diminish. 

bridges also points out that someone else does not cause our impatience.  they just provide an opportunity for the flesh to assert itself. "the actual cause of our impatience lies within our own hearts, in our own attitude of insisting that others around us conform to our expectations"(117).

in the latter half of the chapter, the author talks about our response if we are the object of someone elses impatience.  there are two improper responses: 1) start a "war of words." say something back that is sharp and cutting so they will know they cannot talk to you like that. 2)inwardly seethe and resent the person who has sinned against you (i think bridges wrote that one for me.)

he says that biblically we have two options: 1) follow the example of christ who "when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued trusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 peter 2:23) and 2) confront the person, but "only when you have resolved the issue in your own heart and can speak to the other person for his or her benefit, not just to make your own life more pleasant" (119).




impatience is an easy sin to let slide, but i know this chapter has made me examine why i get so irritated and annoyed and 9 times out of 10 it is purely selfish. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

respectable sins: lack of self-control

for me this chapter exposed many things that i know, but that i have yet to do anything about. good stuff.

"like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit." proverbs 25:28

bridges opens with this verse, reminding the readers that in biblical times a wall was a city's main line of defense.  if the wall was down, they were vulnerable to so many attacks.  a lack of self-control in any area of our life should be a good warning sign to us that trouble is on the way or it has already snuck in without us knowing it. bridges is quick to tell us that many christians think they have self control because, "we have boundaries from out christian culture that tend to restrain us from obvious sins, but within those boundaries, we pretty much live as we please. we seldom say 'no' to our desires and emotions"(110).

bridges goes on to talk about three areas that most christians fail to exercise self-control. the first is eating and drinking.  he is quick to point out that this is not just for people who have a "weight problem," but for anyone that lets their craving for food or drink or even their enjoyment of food or drink drive them.  be it ice cream, chocolate, alcohol, soft drinks, or whatever. if we cannot live without it or cannot stop after a reasonable portion, we lack self-control. and it is dangerous. secondly he talks about temper. if we lash out quickly with any emotion, it shows a lack of self-control. and finally, he talks about personal finances.  the fact that most americans, yes even american christians, live above their means shows our lack of self-control. and just because someone is not in debt does not mean that this is not a struggle. many affluent people, indulge themselves in whatever their heart desires. this is obviously not a comprehensive list.  there are many other seemingly harmless ones, like too much time on the computer (guilty), watching too much television, impulse buying, watching or playing sports, exercise, etc.

bridges does not talk about this, but i wanted to make this point. this lack of self control can definitely be used to expose what our idols are.  the reason we cannot quit them is because we need them or we need to do them to serve our idol, the thing we consider most important.  it is going to be hard to quit these behaviors or control them without taking a look deeper to expose our idols. 

some of you may say, "i am not doing this because i am enslaved to something. i am doing this because i enjoy it and it brings me pleasure. or it helps me take my mind off of stuff." i would caution you to take a more careful look. look deep!  if you want to see if you are really controlled by something or if it is controlling you give it up cold turkey for period of time.  how many times a day do you think about it or want to do it?  do you have to do something to keep your mind off of it?  then sadly my friend, you are bowing to an idol or using this to numb you to the pain of the world or as a fix to keep you from something else. all wrong responses. if you are bowing to an idol, it often stems from something you do not understand of believe about the gospel.  why do you need that to feel good? wholeness never comes through the blessing, only through the blessor!

so how do i practice this self-control?  it is a bit deceiving because it sounds like we can do it on our own. but we cannot!  to have self-control in all areas of  our lives we need help.  that is why self-control is listed as a fruit of the spirit. the same spirit that raised christ from the dead resides in us and can give us self-control.  we have to be dependent on him.  he is probably going to have expose our idols and why we love some things so much before he enables us to have self-control. he will reveal to us how the gospel is all satisfying and we do not need this.  then our desire for it will be conquered with the sweet taste of the gospel. and each time we battle it, we need to remind each other of just that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

respectable sins: selfishness...

this is not one of my favorite chapters in the book, not because it was the most convicting, but because i think it could have addressed more and pointed us more to the gospel. bridges does tie it in a little bit at the end, but for a behavior oriented moralist like me, this chapter sounds all to familiar to the "change your behavior stuff" i grew up thinking.  i will go ahead and summarize, but i am also going to expound a lot too.

bridges starts the chapter with an illustration about kids not wanting to share and taking a toy and saying, "mine," or "i don't want you to have it." children hardly looking out for the interests of others.  he points out that as we get older, those thought patterns do not go away, they just flesh out in more socially acceptable ways.  none of us would throw a temper tantrum if someone else got what we wanted, but i think we could all admit to a time when we were jealous or mad that someone got some thing that we did not. we all struggle with selfishness.  and it is much easier to point out in someone elses life rather than our own. in fact we can identify it easily because we act and think the same way.

he addresses four specific areas of selfishness in this chapter, admitting that there are so many more!

first, he talks about being selfish with our interests and talking about ourselves and what we like rather than listening. i think we do this for many reasons. a) we like ourselves. we are our favorite subject. everyone should know about something as great as us. b) we are insecure. if we sell ourselves as great or noble or generous or whatever, then people will like us and think we are great and affirm us. c) or we just do not care about someone else and don't want to get involved with listening to them, so we will just keep talking. we are indeed "lovers of self" (2 tim 3:2).

secondly he says we are selfish with our time. "i am entitled to my time and don't ask for any of it. "do you know how busy i am? i have things to do." "that is not my job. someone else needs to do that." the root of what we are saying can boiled down to this, "sorry, i have my own kingdom to build." bridges points out that we are called to bear one another's burdens (gal 6:2). sadly, we often do not want to or we are just too busy to even notice others burdens.

thirdly, bridges talks about being selfish with our money. i don't think anyone could argue against that.  the bible tells us over and over again how we are to care for those in need (the poor, the widow, the orphan, the homeless) but how much of our budget actually goes to that?

lastly, he talks about being inconsiderate. we often do not think about the impact our words or actions have on someone else. we are often so concerned with our agenda or our pressing need, that we do not think about how we express it or we trample over others in the process.

bridges writes, "the selfish person not only is indifferent to the needs of others but actually expects them to meet his needs and desires" (106). so true!

so what is the gospel response to this? it is more than just "quit thinking about yourself and think about others." it is a call to look at the gospel. not only is jesus a perfect example of someone who was unselfish, but his gospel frees me from my selfishness. because i am loved by him, i do not have to worry about talking about myself, i can actually listen and hear others. because i know that he is on control, i do not have to worry about interruptions to my plan or my time. in fact, the notion of my time does not exist. i know that all is his and that the reason i am here is to glorify him and if there is an interruption, i know that he has something that will bring glory to his name, more than my plan, even if it ruins all of my plans. his power and provision in the cross and resurrection free me from the love of money. rather than storing up here or working to buy things here that will make my life more comfortable, i look for how i can use all that i have so that he can be glorified and i trust that he will provide.. and because i do not have to worry about myself, the gospel causes me to think of others to want them to know love like this. as i look around, i seek ways to build the body and serve others so that christ can be glorified. i am not worried about me because i know that christ is more than enough.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

[adoption] so now what?

so if i am going to adopt, what are my next steps? well, first things first, i need to finish getting out of debt. i still have about $8000 worth to pay off. i am meeting with a couple who does financial counseling to get a better grip in this and pay it off faster, hopefully by may!

i will also need to take some classes/training required by the state. my lease is up in may, so i will need to find a new place to live that has a room for a kid. then i will need to have a home study done and then just wait. i am not sure if i will foster or if i will just wait to adopt. i have heard that for older kids, if you do not care about race or gender you could get a kid like 2 weeks after you have your home study!

please be praying for me as i follow the lord on this new venture. i am going to need lots of support and prayers. when i doubt or question, or worry or freak out i am going to need you guys to point me back to the gospel and to remind me that the lord is big enough to take care of all the impossibilities.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

[adoption] the adoption conference...

since i had been feeling led to adopt and i wanted to know more about it, i decided to go to an adoption conference in tennessee with several other couples on staff who are interested in adopting, have adopted or want to adopt. the conference had a lot of info on adoption for you personally and info on how to mobilize your church to care about adoption.

most of the main sessions taught about adoption in reference to the gospel. which were great! i am sure i will write another post about that, but where the Lord really revealed himself was in the breakouts. one of the breakouts i attended was called beginning your adoption journey. i learned all about different kinds of adoption (embryo, domestic, international and through foster care). as i read over all of the descriptions, foster care stuck out to me. i read this quote "Withing the foster care system, there are 135,000 children who are legally free for adoption." i kept rereading it. then the lady leading the breakout said that if you wanted to adopt older kids the foster care system is full of them, because typically, people want to adopt babies. my heart broke! i had felt the lord leading me to think about adopting an elementary school kid and now the thought of them being unwanted broke my heart. then she went on to say that if you adopt a child through the foster care system, it is free. the state pays for everything. i began freaking out inside. then before she moved on to the next type of adoption, she tagged on that this is a great type of adoption for single parents. excitement was building. i knew this was right and this was just the beginning...

another breakout i attended was a panel of people who spoke on foster care and adoption. my friend jamie and i snuck into this one. i had to hear more about adopting through the foster care system so i skipped out on the one i had signed up for. there were 4 people on this panel, but 2 really stuck out to me. on was a single guy who had adopted 3 boys out of foster care. he was sharing stories. i think the lord put him on that panel just to tell me, "see, it is possible." the other person that stuck out to me was a woman who had grown up in the foster care system. she was never eligible for adoption because her mom would not give up her parental rights. so this woman bounced from foster home to foster home until she was 18. 4 out of the 5 homes she was in, she was abused. she was pleading with us to get the word out to have christians either foster or adopt. her story broke my heart. i teared up as i tried to imagine how she must have felt growing up. then to top it off jamie turned to me and said, what does she do for thanksgiving? where does she go for holidays? she has no family.

i could not bear the thought of kids growing up like this that had the freedom to be adopted. kids that no one wanted. that no one loved. kids that had no one to call family. kids that will will never experience what it is like to be wanted and chosen. kids that do not have the opportunity to know christ's love.

as i flew home that night, i just felt the lord continuing to affirm what he had already told me. as i thought about this, i could not help but think about my adoption in christ. and i wept. i love crying on planes.

so, i am moving forward with this in faith. daily questions arise in my mind about all of this. and i just feel the lord saying, "trust me."

[adoption] how i came to this conclusion...

so how did i come to this decision to pursue adoption? great question. it has been a process over the last few years. a couple years ago, i started thinking about adoption. i thought it would be cool and i thought it would be good for health reasons. it would be easier on my diabetic body and i would not have to worry about passing my diabetes on to my kids. but i always thought, i will cross that bridge when i get married.

well, several of my friends and co-workers have been talking about adoption, and i feel like i hear about it constantly. it was on my mind quite a bit. this past summer, i was reading crazy love by francis chan. in one of the chapters, francis poses the question, "what part of your life really requires you to live by faith?" i was totally convicted. even being on church staff, i realized that aside from being healed from my junk, there was not really any part of my life that i was desperately depending on the Lord for. i realized that when the lord does big things through people in the bible, it is always when they totally had to rely on the lord. so i started praying, asking the lord to reveal what needed to change in my life.

as i finished up the book, there is a chapter at the end where francis chan writes some stories about people who the lord has used to impact the kingdom. there was one story about a girl that moved to tanzania right after college and ended up adopting a baby... as a single woman. as soon as i heard this story, i felt the lord say that is what i want you to do. and i was like, "sure, i will adopt when i am married." then i felt him say, "no, i am not calling you wait, i am calling to you start this process now." i told the lord, "um, but i am still single." and he said back, "i know. i will take care of things." then there were a series of questions that i shot back at the lord (typical of my independent and controlling personality). i quietly submitted to the lord, but i was still really unsure.

i got home from the gym (where the lord and i had this conversation) and i had an email from a friend, inviting me to go to an adoption conference in tennessee. i freaked out! what? why would she send me that? i decided that night to go and see what this was all about and see what the lord was doing. no harm in going right?

so over the next several weeks, i prayed. i told a few friends and asked them join me in praying for this. everyday, my mind was flooded with a million questions. how could i adopt and work? when would i work out? is it right to adopt a kid into a single home? what would i do on the weekends or for vacation? what would i do with my kid on a sunday? (i mean i work like 14 hour days) where would i live? can i afford to live by myself? i really don't want to move again. how would i still invest in the lives of my kids at church, families at church and my volunteers if i have a kid? i would not have my evenings free anymore. can i do this? there were many more questions and every time i felt my mind reeling, i heard the lord say, "trust me." and every time doubt crept in, i had a conversation with someone that pointed me towards adoption or encouraged me to do so.

after weeks of praying, i still felt as if i was supposed to adopt and i began to feel led to adopt an elementary school age kid. so where do i go now? what do i do now? i was excited to get to the adoption conference and see. i will write about that in the next post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

adopt... yes i am going to...

this series of posts has been in the works for several months now. as the title indicates, i feel the lord leading me to adopt. yes, adopt children, well at least one for now, let's not get crazy. yes now, not later. no i am not married. no there is no man in the picture right now for me to marry. yes, i realize that this seems crazy. yes i have thought about how much i am going to have to give up as a single parent. yes i know how much it costs (free through the foster care system). yes i know my life will look radically different. if you have a question or an objection, feel free to ask or comment, but i can almost guarantee you i have already thought of them all.

so i am going to write a few blogs that explain how i have come to this decision and what i am going to do now and how you can help, if you feel led. rather than just writing one big long blog, i will break it up in chunks. this is going to be a great journey, really hard at times, more than i can imagine for sure. so here we go...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

respectable sins: pride


this is another chapter in jerry bridges book, respectable sins. he does a pretty good job of talking about a few aspects of pride, but he for sure cannot cover them all. in fact, if he did, it would be a book. i tend to define pride, not just as arrogance or thinking highly of yourself, but as any time you do not acknowledge god. so really all of these sins that bridges addresses, stem from pride or as he calls it, ungodliness. but here is a recap of the chapter.

bridges addresses pride in 4 areas. all of which i can see active in my life.

moral self-righteousness
this form of pride "expresses itself in a feeling of moral superiority with respect to other people."

"because we don't commit those sins, we tend to feel morally superior and look with a certain amount of disdain or contempt on those who do."
"But though it is so prevelant amoung us, it is difficult to recognize because we all practice it to some degree. in fact, we seem to get a perverse enjoyment out of discussing how awful society around us is becoming. when we engage in this kind of thinking or conversation, we are guilty os the pride of moral superiority."
some where inside of us we think we are stronger than those sinners. if they only were like us, and could get it together. but we forget that where we are has NOTHING to do with us. but for the grace of god!! i am always 2 seconds away from committing the most heinous sins without god. a good assessment of this is to look at paul. can we like paul say and believe that we are the worst of sinners? if not, we think we are morally superior and we have forgotten the cross and grace. until we understand the depth of our sin and what christ did for us, we will ALWAYS think we are better than someone else.

pride of correct doctrine
this is "the assumption that whatever my doctrinal beliefs are , they are correct, and anyone who holds another belief is theologically inferior."

we must be careful that our knowledge does not puff up, but rather we use our doctrine and theology to sustain us in our calling. to equip us in our kingdom work. if we are just storing up our knowledge, we will do damage to the body rather than strengthen it. [good sermon on that here]. those with this attitude often teach and speak with selfish motives and actually rarely care about others, we just want them to think we are right.

pride of achievement
these quotes pretty much sum it up:
"paul wrote, 'who sees anything different in you? what do you have that you did not receive? if you then received it, why do you boast s if you did not receive it?' (1 corinthians 4:7). so what do you have that you did not receive? nothing. you have nothing that did not come to you as a gift from god. our intellect, our natural skills and talents, our health, and our opporunties to succeed all come from god. we have nothing that will enable us to achieve success that we did not receive from god."
"another aspect of pride is the inordinate desire for recognition. all of us appreciate commendation for a job well done or for many years of faithful service on the job or at church. but what is our attitude when we do a specific job well and don't receive recognition? are we willing to labor in obscurity, doing our jobs as unto the lord, or do we become disgruntled over the lack of recognition."
"luke 17:10, 'so you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.' when we have done a job well or served faithfully over a long time, our attitude should be, 'i have only done my duty.'"
an independent spirit
bridges is talking about those who show a resistance to authority, especially spiritual authority, and an unteachable attitude.

how do we respond to authority? are we eager to soak up wisdom from others are always thinking about how much we have to offer. or even worse, how they are disqualified from teaching us anything because of such and such... (yikes, i do this.)

so there is a recap of this chapter. i only wish he gave some practicals to battling these sins. like i have mentioned before, piper's book battling unbelief is a great resource for this and so is beth moore's book, praying god's word.