Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

We don't have any plans for tonight.
We're just going to chill out at home and watch Ragamuffin.

Tomorrow, Steve has graciously said he would take the kids to Cuchara.
I get to stay home for 48 hours !!
A quiet house.
And some much need time alone.

We spent the day with the Davidson's yesterday.
Andie is such a gift.
I've had such a rough couple of weeks.
I've let my anger get the best of me ...
and my intolerance with the kids has consumed me.

It helped to talk to Andie - she had tremendous insight.
She suggested a sermon series for me to listen to.
Being a mom of 8, she has more experience and wisdom.
I need some time to process.
More than anything - I need Jesus to meet me.
I need a change of heart and perspective.

So, for now, Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas

It was a day filled with presents!
The kids got everything they could have dreamed.

Legos.
Frozen.
Hello Kitty.
Minnie Mouse.
Clothes.
Hats. Gloves. Slippers.
Balls.
Baseball bags.
Videos.
Books.

We enjoyed our annual cinnamon rolls and bacon egg muffins.

Then we were off to the parents.
The kids were buried in more presents!
Mom made a fabulous ham dinner.

Although the day didn't start out well ...
in the end, it was all the kids could have hoped or imagined.

Frozen puzzles

Legos!

Frozen hats

Baseball bags & bats

Daddy & his girl

A castle ... complete with Frozen characters

An iPod Touch

Richie and Aunt Shawn

Daddy's boy

Devastated

The last few days have been exceedingly difficult.
Landon has been pushing the limits ... and ALL of my buttons.
He knows just how to get at me.
Talk back.
Questioning every command.
Refusing to obey.
Most days, I am able to respond in love and not get angry.
But some days, I snap.
This week I snapped.
Not just one day, but all week.
Christmas week.
It was the most challenging Christmas week I can remember.
And I failed.

Then I think every insecurity I have ever battled rose to the surface.
It was Christmas Eve.
Steve got home from work about 3pm.
I was in sweatpants and was decked out in rollers.
The kids dressed in their best church clothes for the Christmas Eve service.
They all trotted off to Kings get Sterno for our fondue.

I went upstairs to dress myself up.
After trying on 4 different outfits, because the first few are never quite right ...
I chose a dress from a long gone era.
Long.  Burgundy.  Sequins.
If I hold any bragging rights, I thought I looked beautiful.
Amazing.  Stunning.
But in Steve's usual way, I went unnoticed.
I swear, sometimes he doesn't even see me.
Not so much as a, "Wow, you're wearing a dress."
I didn't do well hiding my disappointment.
It was all I could do to not allow my hurt to ruin the candle light service.
At last, after we were home, and I was back in my fleece pants and sweatshirt,
came the words, "You looked nice tonight."
And, "The fondue was excellent.  Thank you."
Seriously?

After opening a few presents, and stuffing the stockings ... off to bed we went.
I knew that the boys would be in our room at 6am and I would need to be ready.
I awoke a little after 7:30am.
The room was quiet.  Steve was gone.
I could hear the kids chattering and squealing.
What?  No one climbed in bed with me?
No one woke me up?
I flew out of bed, dressed, and brushed my teeth.
All the while, I was trying to figure out what was going on.
Why was I left all alone?

Al last, I started down the stairs ... only to find ...
all of the kids sitting on the floor, opening their stockings!!!!!!!
WHAT? ?@?#?$?%?^?^?$?$#??*?&?&
The fire was going.
Steve was sipping coffee.
The kids were opening their stockings.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
Never in my entire life have I awoken to my family opening stockings without me.
Not once as a child.
Not once since becoming a mom.
I was horrified.
I was devastated.

With tear-filled eyes, I turned around and went back upstairs.
Wow.
"I wanted to let you sleep," Steve declared.
Seriously?
On Christmas Day?
On the most anticipated day of the year?
24 days of counting down.
Many more days of planning, shopping, and creating traditions that will be long remembered.
"I wanted to let you sleep."

Every insecurity surfaced.
All feelings of rejection and dislike unearth.
Why would they start Christmas without me?

We've had some bad Christmases.
There was the one year, 2007, when we were living in Albuquerque.
I mean ... we were living in hell.
I was pregnant with Sawyer.
I felt more alone and isolated than I can recall.
Prior to moving there, I told Steve that I was going to need him to take care of us.
I was going to need him to be intentional to not neglect our relationship.
And yet, that was the year Steve didn't buy me a Christmas present.
To this day, I still don't know why.
Something about not knowing what to get me.
Or maybe it was the fact that we were poor college students.

But this year tops that one.
This year will go down in my memory as one of the worst Christmases ever.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Words

... the tongue is a small fire, a world of unrighteousness.  The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. .. no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things must not be so.
James 3:6-10

The tongue.
It is a restless evil.
Full of deadly poison.

It's incredibly discouraging just how words can bring such pain.
I'm always amazed how much love I can have in my heart ...
yet my words spew forth like daggers.
Oh for shame.

Hurts surface and my defenses rise.
One offense is all it takes.
Then regret follows close behind.

Oh to find myself in His presence.
The place where forgiveness abounds.
The only place where peace reigns.
Without going there first ... sin reigns.

May I find myself in the place that love abounds, forgiveness reigns
... and kind, loving words dominate.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Great Red Dragon


The fall of Satan.

As early as I can remember, I was taught about the fall of Satan.
You know ...
* he was a great archangel
* he grew proud
* he was cast out of heaven with 1/3 of the angels
In every church I have ever attended, I have been taught this story about Satan.

In my 20s, I was attending the School of Biblical Studies with Youth With A Mission.
For 9 months, we poured over the Scripture, book by book, verse by verse.
I remember specific passages that stood out, and forced me to question Satan's origin.
By the end of my studies, I was no longer convinced of the old tale I had been told.
Instead, I was unsure of how he became evil.
As I studied, I found that the view I had been taught is a story compiled from
a patchwork of unrelated passages taken out of context.

I want to take a short walk through these passages.
Isaiah 14: 12-14
"How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; 
above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; 
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; 
I will make myself like the Most High.'"

This is a passage which many claim is an account of the fall of satan, or Lucifer.
It seems that these verses are ripped out of context.
They fall in the middle of a series of judgments against a wide variety of nations.
This particular passage begins with,
"you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:"
Just 2 verses after this passage, in verse 16, it says,
"Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you:
'Is this the MAN who made the earth tremble?"

These verses are talking about a man, the king of Babylon, who will fall.
For these verses to also refer to the fall of satan, it would require a double fulfillment
I'll be honest, I don't know much about double fulfillments, but when applied, scholars seem to be selective which passages they attribute this ... and usually to make a point.

The next passage isn't much different.
Ezekiel 28:12-17
"You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfection in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering,
... You were an anointed guardian cherub.  I placed you, you were on the holy mountain of God;
... You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
... so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, 
O guardian cherub ... your heart was proud because of your beauty;
... I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings."

Again, this passage is taken out of a series of prophecies against nations...
Ammon, Moab & Seir, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and then the prince of Tyre ...
and Ezekiel keeps going ... Sidon then Egypt ...
These few verses are unique, no doubt.
"Eden ... anointed cherub ... mountain of God ..."
But to they really refer to Satan and his fall?
I don't claim to be a Biblical scholar, but I'm just not convinced.

For further reading, here are 2 interesting blog posts.
I do not agree with everything this writer has to say about Satan, but these posts are worth a read.
Isaiah 14 - and - Ezekiel 28

Then there's the verse in Luke 10 - "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."
Jesus said this to the 72 after they returned from being sent out 2x2 into every town.
They were rejoicing that demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus!

But my favorite passage, and the one I read every Christmas season ... Revelation 12.
"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.  And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.  His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it ... but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

I love that this passage portrays the dragon (satan) as being incredibly powerful.
1/3 of the stars are swept down with just his tail.
(This is where we get the idea that he took 1/3 of the angels with him.)
He sought to devour a woman and her baby ... but was unable to do so.
A mighty, powerful dragon was defeated!

Then, after the child (Jesus) was caught up to God and to his throne ...
then Michael is fighting against this same dragon - and his "angels."
This is not a picture of a mighty, glorious angelic being, consumed with pride.
This is a DRAGON who is thrown down ... and his angels with him.
He was in heaven, but was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
They were thrown down!!!!!

He is referred to as the "ancient serpent" and the "deceiver of the whole world."
I do not see this great, grand glorious angel who is filled with pride and thrown down.
No, I see a dragon, a defeated dragon.

I believe the passage in John 8:42-46 is a more accurate telling of Satan's history.
Verse 44 says, "... He (the devil) was a murder FROM THE BEGINNING, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is NO truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

This Christmas season, I find great comfort in knowing that Satan was defeated at the coming of Jesus, when He was born as a baby in that manger in Bethlehem.
A mighty dragon, powerful enough to sweep down 1/3 of the stars ...
intending to devour a baby ... was unable to do so.
Instead he was defeated and thrown down!

Christmas is a celebration of great triumph!
The Savior of the world defeated the one who seeks to destroy our souls.
The one who wants to devour us no longer has any power, because of the baby born in Bethlehem.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This Week


It's hard to believe that Christmas is this week!
The kids won't let me forget how many days ...
now it's only 3, "not including today," as I'm often told.

We haven't written a Christmas letter yet.
When I do, this family picture will accompany them.
But I do have all my Christmas shopping done.
I had such a fun time this year buying unique gifts for the kids.

Steve only works a 1/2 day on Wednesday, then has a 4 day weekend.
Next week, is the same.
So, we'll head to Cuchara for the New Year.

Amidst all the Christmas planning and anticipation,
we've also been working on our bank proposal.
Mom and Steve met with 6 bankers last week.
One more appointment is set for this week.
Then, it's wait and see.
January 31st is the deadline to have a loan confirmation.
We are hopeful ... and anxious all at the same time.

With Christmas and New Years, we will be forced to rest and relax.
Patience must set in and faith that if this is what God would have for us,
He will orchestrate all the details.
This is a great opportunity for me to grow in trust and patience.
I am a driver, a go-getter, who likes everything done now.
Some things I cannot control, and this is one.
It's a true exercise in rest.

While I wait, I'll enjoy this Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Do you wanna build a snowman?

After snow on Sunday ...
and 45 degrees today ...
the snow was perfect for building a snowman!!!





When asked, "Liberty, why did you put a hat on your snowman?"
She answered, "So he won't melt, of course!"

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tanzania

Steve is home!
After a 24 hour layover in Ethiopia due to a re-routing of his flight ...
and much grumpiness.  =(
He got home on Tuesday afternoon.
Although he was completely exhausted, he stayed awake long enough to show us video footage.
Oh how it made me miss Tanzania.

It was fun to see how much building they have done ...
and to see the water tower being constructed ...
and the foundation for the 4th house.

It seems that they had a good time.
David really seemed to enjoy it and said he's love to go back!
Steve talked of how beautiful it is ... and green.

Here's a few snippets from the emails he sent us.

November 30th - Church was interesting.  Didn't understand a word of it, but they worshipped and danced and Dan read from the Swahili Bible.  They took offering and there is a cloth covering the offering basket so people cant see what others are giving.

December 1st - I am SO tired!  Today, we got up at 630, had a quick breakfast and then David and I had to move 200 big cinder-block bricks… put them on a trailer, drive the trailer about one mile, then unload them – but the unload spot was about 20 feet from where we could park the trailer.  And by then my fingers were all sore from grabbing them so I carried them one at a time on my forearms – which got all scraped up.  I was totally exhausted by 10 in the morning!  Then, we took a short break and I was told to cut holes in a sheet of metal with an electric saw – only two thankfully.  Then, Dan really didn’t have anything for us to do and he had to repair a water pump, so he looked around and says…. “go help those guys carry wet sand/cement up that big hill in buckets”.   I was like “are you kidding? Im 44 and Im exhausted!”  but I couldn’t really say no, so up I went.  By the time I made it up the hill 4 times I thought I was about to die of a heart-attack. I was covered in dirt and sweat – easily the worst job  I’ve ever had to do.  David is in better shape than me, so he went up the hill like 8 times.

Then we had lunch and God had mercy on me by having Dan send us with a Tanzanian guide to a private school nearby.  It was good, but all the staff and little black kids were looking at David and I like: what the HECK are you doing in our school??!?!  So we left. 

One thing that is hard for me is having to have bug spray on all time.  I feel sticky all over…yuk!  But it is better than getting malaria, I guess.

One thing that is good is how beautiful it is here and that Dan and Bethany want to give kids a good Christian home.  I hope we can help them.

December 3rd - I so wish you could have been with me yesterday on the safari into Serengeti!  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  We woke up early to drive in the dark so we could be at the entrance for sunrise.   We right away saw wildebeest, zebra, baboons and monkeys.  Then, the driver took us down by a river!  Right there was a big family of hippos!  And then we saw……………….huge crockodiles!  I could not believe my eyes they were so big.  I was glad they were on the other side of the river or I would have run back to the car!  Then we drove and drove some more (we were in the car for 16 hours total that day) and all of a sudden, Mr VanDellen yelled “elephant”!  and WOW there was a group of big, amazing elephants!  We drove and drove…. More wildebeest and so many zebras I could not count them…baboons everywhere and then we saw wharthogs with their babies and I wanted to take a cute little baby home with me!  They were everywhere too.  Drove and drove a loooooong way and we saw…..a leopard sleeping in a tree….then a cheetah eating a dead animal right in front of the car!  Drove some more and saw two different groups of….lions!  so beautiful and majestic!  Then we came across a couple hippos walking by the car…the driver said it is very rare to see hippos out of the water….then we came across a huge group of giraffes- like a family of 25!!! The driver took pictures because he had never seen so many giraffes in one place at one time!  Driving back some more….at least 30 elephants right by the road!  One of the mamas didn’t like the car being so close to her baby and turned at our car like she was going to charge!!!  We were so scared that the driver stopped and backed up the car!  It was so thrilling my heart was racing!  Can you tell how excited I was?  Im trying to express my excitement by using a lot of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Can you now see how exciting it was??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! 
I so wish you were all with me, so I took a lot of video to share with you.  However, my battery ran out by noon, so mr vandellen has some video of the cheetah and lions from is smartphone he will share with me.

We took two Africans with us who Mr Tanner is trying to minister to and they were really funny.  We were cracking jokes and having them teach us Swahili words and phrases…like the phrase for “silly American” and then they really laughed!  J our car broke down outside of the Serengeti and for time I did not think we would make it to mavuno village!  It was sort of nerve-wracking.  But, one of the Africans had Mr. Tanners phone number so we called him and he came to pick us up.  We got back so late I could not call you last night.  It was quite an adventure and one of the most memorable days of my entire life!  And I have some really awesome days!  While we were driving along, I just could not believe that I was on safari in the Serengeti!  Words really do not suffice. 

As hard as Monday was, Tuesday 1,000 times better and more wonderful!  Today is Wednesday and we got up, had a cuppa coffee and started working.  It is lunch time now and I am just flat exhausted.  It is so humid here it feels like working with a 100 pound weight around your neck.  I really am amazed that people get used to the heat and humidity.  I think it would take me like 3 years to get used to it.  Ugh.  We are helping mr tanner build a water holding tank up on a big hill – there are 5 African guys up there making a wall out of rocks and cement …in their flip-flops!  We had to pump water up there for the mixing of the concrete…a lot of work indeed. 


Sunday, December 7, 2014

St. Nicholas

After a long day away yesterday ... the kids arrived at home to find ...
Saint Nicholas had visited.
Footie pajamas awaited each one.


And this year, just to embrace the true meaning of the season,
I bought a new advent book to read to the kids.


I have LOVED Ann's The Greatest Gift.


I'm on my 4th reading of it.
I started reading it to the kids, but it's just about their reading level.
I REALLY LOVE her new book - perfect for kids.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.
It is truly an experiential reading.

I pray that the words she has written grab a hold of my kids hearts.
I pray that the power of the Holy Spirt speaks to their spirits in a special way this year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

O Christmas Tree


Although Cuchara was INCREDIBLY windy ...
we set out to find a tree, without Steve.
Mom, dad, and Shawnie were with us.
After our first stop was unsuccessful, we went to our usual spot.
We started our search right as the plowing came to an end and we were forced to stop.

Shawnie was the one to find this beauty.
Being out in the forest, I wasn't sure just how tall it was ...
but it is about 14 feet tall!
And one of the best trees we've cut, if I do say so myself!!!
And with our new floors and remodeled living room, it's just perfect.

Let the Christmas season begin!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving


Steve is on his way to Ethiopia.
A 12 hour flight .. followed by 2 more flights to get to Mwanza, Tanzania.
This is my first Thanksgiving without him in 17 years!
I'm sad he's not here ... but I'm so very thankful he gets to go!
His trip is more than funded!
Between he and David, they raised an extra $900.00!

That made it possible to give the Tanners an extra donation,
as well as buy them tools, gifts, and more.

Meanwhile, we are going to head down to Cuchara, after having Thanksgiving dinner at the Rock.
We'll cut our own tree ... and decorate on the 1st.
We have CC next week and have some events in place to make the time pass more quickly.
It's going to be a hard 12 days ... but I hope it goes fast.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankfulness

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.
Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

-Jesus Calling


I have a certain child who is simply ungrateful for nearly everything.
He's quick to be critical, and complain about what he doesn't get.
If I give him one, he wants two.
If I let him play on the iPad, he'd rather play Xbox.
No matter what I do, it's never enough.

It's infuriating!
Truly.
It drives me completely crazy.
He's rarely happy ... or content.

The worst part for me is that no matter how much I try to speak to his heart,
no matter how much I challenge him, or correct him ...
no matter how much I instruct him in Biblical truth ...
none of it seems to make any difference.

It breaks my heart.
I feel so helpless to help him, to guide him, to instruct him.
I simply don't know what to do.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Littleton Museum

I love our CC community.
After 3 1/2 years in Castle Rock ...
and 2 CC communities later ...
we have dear friends with whom we can share our homeschool journey.


Yesterday, we went to the Littleton Museum, a working farm.
Many of the buildings are from the early 1900s.


We had fun "schooling" in the school building - singing the timeline song and history sentences.

We are blessed, so very blessed to have these families in our life!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Craft Fair Season



It's a busy time of year for our family.
Nearly every weekend is a craft show for Mavuno Market.

Castle Rock
Lakewood
Evergreen
Broomfield
Centennial
Arvada

We've sold out of all the metal art, nativities, and most of the new ornaments.
We still have 2 events and a couple of home parties.

I love craft shows.
I love talking about what we do.
I love casting vision.
I love creating jobs.

Steve leaves for Tanzania in one week.
It's hard to believe it's almost here!
I wish I was going with him.
... but I'm thrilled he is finally going!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Daddy Princess Ball

It was our 3rd annual.
Daddy and Shiloh have gone 2 times now.
And finally ... Liberty was old enough to join in on the fun!

Dressed in matching Christmas dresses, and braids, they could hardly contain their excitement.
Dinner, a chocolate fondue fountain, carriage rides, and dancing ...
they were even given a necklace with a key - a key to heaven.

Steve said Liberty cried when it was time to leave.

Liberty's highlights were dancing to Let it Go ...
and Steve let her use her knife for dinner!  That made her exceedingly happy!

Shiloh's highlights were her dress that finally fit
and the chocolate fountain !!

They can hardly wait until next year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Best One Ever

That's what Landon said about Halloween this year.
With Trunk or Treat at Ridgeline ...
and then a fun fest at The Rock.

We just went to the dentist, who told them he is offering $$ for candy.
A $1 coin for every pound that is taken to him.
So, the kids wanted to get LOTS of candy ... to earn some money.

It really was a fun night.
And as always, they were stinkin' adorable!
Shiloh was Laura Ingals.
Liberty was a Snow Princess.
The boys were baseball players.



I love Liberty's age.
The excitement, and the innocence.
It's always a new experience for her.
She doesn't yet remember year to year what we do or where we go.
So, she experiences it through new eyes.


We even carved pumpkins this year.
The kids got 4 big ones at a pumpkin patch.
And we have 5 that we grew in our garden.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Beaver Creek


We have been visiting potential locations for the 2015 Passion for Orphans retreat.
It's a good excuse to get out of town .. and into the mountains.

The last weekend in September, we visited the Charter in Beaver Creek.
This weekend brings us to Beaver Creek / Arrowhead Village.

The Vail Valley is simply breathtaking.
It's nice to get away from the rat race and take a deep breath.

As a friend said years ago, "It's like an ice cream sundae for the soul."

Since the retreat one month ago, I have been praying, thinking, and writing.
What is the vision God has given me for this retreat?
What is my hope for the ladies that come?
Does the venue matter all that much?

God is giving me a renewed, clear vision for this retreat.
I now know that I want our retreats to be a
transformational experience rather than a training intensive.

Passion for Orphans exists to serve women involved in worldwide orphan care, adoption, and fostering, in an authentic and Christ-centered manner
… primarily through retreats that provide quality Biblical teaching that will equip and transform the lives of women to more effectively lead those around them and bring glory to God through their heart for orphan care.

The Target audience includes 

Orphan Care Advocates
P4O exists to educate and inspire women to be involved in orphan care in avenues other than adoption.

Adoptive & Foster moms
P4O exists to encourage and Biblically equip adoptive/ foster moms to create a Christ-centered environment at home.  Our desire to connect you with like-minded women and help you gain a fresh perspective through real life, Christ-centric stories that will give you renewed strength to carry on. 

Fine tuning the vision is critical if I am to bring others along side.
A leadership team can only help execute the vision if I have a clear vision.

With much excitement, I sense that God has fine-tuned that vision within me.
He has made clear the things that became blurry.
With a clear vision, I feel that I can, and must, press on for the sake of these precious ladies.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Password Protect, Or Not?



I started blogging in the fall of 2006.
That was 8 years ago!
There was a short season when I made my blog accessible only by password.

Occasionally, the privacy question comes up.
Should we keep our life private?
Is it ok to write on a public blog for all to see?
These are questions that have caused conflict in my home from time to time.

I want my story to be a witness, a testimony to others.
I would hope that God would use it to minister to others.
The hard pieces - and the everyday pieces of my story.

I really don't like the idea of using a password.
I want my ramblings to be easily available to others.
BUT is it worth it, if it brings about contention?
Probably not.

I want to be honoring and respectful.
But I also have my own thoughts and opinions on this topic.
I need to spend some time weighing it out.
And I welcome any input.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Unworthy Servant


"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, "Come at once and reline at table?"  Will he not rather say tho him, "Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink?"  Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?  
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."  
Luke 17:7-10


It has been years since I have had my feet washed.
Foot washing is not practiced in our culture.
But the very act of foot washing is steeped in symbolism.
This morning, I had my feet washed.
I was so incredibly blessed

This sweet gal prayed over me and read Scripture over me, while washing my feet.
It was a precious time.
I was blessed.
Her words spoke to my heart.

Her timing was totally of God.
It followed on the heels of a difficult evening.
The kids & I had dinner at some friends house.
Let's just say, a couple of my kids were not on their best behavior ...
bouncing the exercise ball in their house, writing on their walls (seriously),
putting toys in each other's drinks...  Shall I go on?
I put them to bed ... in my anger.
I felt shamed and embarrassed by their behavior, and my inability to stop them.

I was reeling over how I was going to discipline them when I went to bed.
This morning, as I sat with my feet in a bucket of water, I was convicted.
She was reading Scripture about forgiveness.
The passage in Matthew 18 cut to my core.

"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife, and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything."  And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.  But when the same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, "Pay what you owe."  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him.  "Have patience with me, and I will pay you."  He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.  When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.  Then his master summoned him and said to him, "You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?"  And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

I have been forgiven much.  And yet, sometimes I choose to withhold forgiveness.
I have been forgiven ALL my debt.
I must show mercy.
I am an unworthy servant, who must do my duty.
I must forgive much, others who are unworthy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

CC

I absolutely love CC.
When we started 4 years ago, it breathed life into our homeschooling days.
We were already using the classical model ...
but CC fine-tuned what was already in motion.

The songs brought memory work to life.
The classroom environment provided community.
Just having the material laid out helped get us all on the same page...
and made lesson planning easier for me.

Now, having just started our 4th year, it's fun to see the kids even more excited.
They know the material already.

Just the other day, Landon was doing a math lesson.
The problem said, "Put the following dates in order from least to greatest ...
1620, 1773, 1492 and 1776."

He came to me and said, "Look at this problem, Mom.
1492 is Columbus, 1620 is the Pilgrims, 1773 is the Boston Tea Party,
and 1776 was the Continental Congress."

Math and history collide.
I love that all the subjects intersect with each other ...
and my kids are starting to see it too!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vision and Values


Vision and values are critical to life and ministry.
Without vision, a marriage or ministry is easily led off track.
I can absolutely attest to this!
There have been times when Steve and I have lost site of where we are going (vision)
... only to find ourselves in significant conflict.
Vision keeps us on the same path ... moving in the same direction.

The same is true in ministry.
I cannot lead a team of people anywhere if I don't know where I'm going.
This too I have experienced first hand.
I have led people ... and given them complete freedom to plan and take us ...
... anywhere ...
only to find out when we get there, it's not exactly what I had in mind.

So, I've been doing a tremendous amount of soul searching the past couple weeks.
What is it that God has for our family?  For our marriage?  For our ministry?
Where does HE want us to go?
How does it align with who He has created me to be?
How can I best honor God by pursuing the vision He has laid before me?

What is it that I value?
Not just the things I care about or want to be about ...
but what do I truly value, at my core?
What are the non-negotiables, that are true to who I am, and glorifying to my Father?

I remember the day I felt that God called me into missions/ ministry.
I was in high school and my family was attending a church in Arvada.
Some missionaries came through and shared their stories from the field.
I was in awe.
Then, they challenged each person to ask God if He would also call them.
With Steven Curtis Chapman singing "For the Sake of the Call,"
I went down front and asked them to pray for me.
I knew then and there that my life would never be the same.


That experience has taken me to serve with ...
Youth With A Mission for 6 years
Campus Crusade for Christ for 6 years
and on 8 mission trips to 11 different countries.


Although now, married, and in my 40s, ministry looks quite a bit different.
My kids are my first ministry.
Four little people clamor for my attention every day, all day long.
They look to me for guidance and direction.


Mavuno Market and Passion for Orphans also provide ministry opportunities.
Church and our CC community provide more.
In fact, ministry opportunities abound.
The needs are endless.

The question becomes ... what is it that God has called me to?
What is my vision and what are my values.
I have no doubt that God is taking me through this time right now ...
to prepare me for what lies ahead.

I'm thankful.
I'm thankful for Steve.
I'm thankful for my family - my parents and my sister.
And I'm thankful for friends, who are wiser than I, who can help me process.
This is a sweet time.
One I hope makes me wiser ... and clearer in my vision for ministry.

The end.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Vision

Vision.
It's absolutely critical.
Sometimes, it seems that we lose our way.
We don't know where we are going ... why ... or how.
It becomes necessary to re-evaluate.
That's where we are now.

As a family, we are asking hard questions.
We're digging deep for the answers.
What do we want to be about?  What do we value?
Steve is thankful to have a job - but it is certainly not aligned with his gifts.
Some days that's ok.  Most days that's just plain hard.

We love where we live, our church, CC community, friends and family.
But knowing that Steve's job is no more than a job ...
we have to ask - what would we do if we could something else.
What would we want that something else to be?


Having just hosted our 3rd Passion for Orphans retreat ...

and with Mavuno Market's craft fair season just getting started ...
both of those send me into deep reflection and evaluation.
Where do we want to go as an organization?
What is our vision?  What are our values?
Where are we going and why?

I'm thankful for the friends God has brought into my life who are more experienced than I.
They challenge my thinking ... and are a great sounding board.
Although I'm uncertain what the future holds,
I have no doubt that my Father already knows ... and will show me at just the right time.

We are in a good place, but are hoping to be in a better place.
We are pursuing some ideas ... and praying that God will make all clear.

For me, that means being patient.
That's not easy for me.  I like to have answers immediately.
I cannot push and force.
Decisions will be made in time.
I must trust that God will open the right doors at the right time.

I believe that change is coming.
Although I don't know when or exactly what it will look like.
I have hope that God has something good in store for us.
The last 8 years have been filled with many challenges and trials.
I am praying that God will bring us to a place where those become fewer.
And to a place where we (especially Steve) can operate more in our giftedness.

But for now ... we wait ... and hope ...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Evolving Idea

Land in the mountains.
A retreat center.
This idea is enough to start us looking.
Homes dot com
Realtor dot com
We thought maybe there would be something in Evergreen.
As I searched online, I found that there are no retreat centers up there.

We found a property.
An absolutely incredible property!

It's in Evergreen, on 11 acres.
It has a wedding barn
a residence
a small "cottage"
and a 10,000 sf building, that is currently a school.


Steve and I found it on Thursday.
I emailed my parents the link.
On Saturday, at the P4O retreat, I showed it to my mom.
We called the realtor and set up an appointment to see it.
Mom, Dad, and all 6 of us piled into our Suburban and went to see it Monday night.
It was absolutely amazing!!

In addition to all that is already there, 5 acres are zoned for a future private residence.

The barn is simply beautiful inside!
They've been hosting weddings in there for years.
The sister, who runs the wedding business, lives in Pennsylvania.
Without even trying, they host 45 weddings a year.



There's also a place in the trees for an outdoor ceremony.


The school is an incredible building .. with so much potential.
Maybe a retreat center?


And then, there's the private residence.
It's about 2,800 sf, fully updated - and beautiful!
The landscaping that surrounds it is immaculate.
It has a 3-car garage, a storage shed, and a little building, which has been used as an office.




The small "cottage" down the road is about 1,000 sf.
Right now, it's a storage building, but with water and a kitchen,
it would make a super cute home for Shawnie.


Oh my goodness.
I'm so excited about this possibility!
It would totally be a God-thing if we got it.
But I am super hopeful!!!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Finding Hope and Healing in Brokenness


This past weekend was our 3rd Passion for Orphans retreat.
We were at Aloft in Broomfield, near Boulder.
50 ladies joined us this time, with 10 of those ladies commuting for various parts of the weekend.

Our theme was Hope and Healing.
I loved this theme because I myself have experienced much healing ...
and my hope is certain.

I gave the talk on Sunday morning and just wanted to recap some of what I shared.


I addressed the difficult topic of suffering.
With a room filled with adoptive and foster moms, they know, and have experienced much suffering.
Both personally, and through the kids they have brought home.

Suffering looks different for each person.
I think it's important to identify some different types of suffering,
and determine what our personal suffering looks like.

Adamic suffering - the fall of Adam and Eve
Victim suffering - one who has been sinned against, sexually, physically and emotionally
Consequential suffering - reaped because of foolish decisions
Collective suffering - happens by virtue of being part of a people who are suffering
    .. those born into poverty, famine, hardship, war and conflict
Empathetic suffering - comes when someone we love is hurting
Preventative suffering - warns us of greater suffering that will happen if we don't heed the warnings
Mysterious suffering - we simply do not know the details and God doesn't reveal why

The suffering we endure often leads to a Shattering.
What once was is now unidentifiable because the pieces are shattered into tiny pieces.
Broken glass, where the pieces cannot be put back together again.

BUT we need to be reminded of Who's in control of what often seems like chaos.
An offense can be taken up, but must not be.
We can not ask how or why this could happen to me ...
but instead Surrender and Settle by letting go of our offenses and lay them at the foot of the cross.

It is through our suffering that God builds in us a Steadfastness.
I love what James says ...
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Where there is Suffering - Shattering - Surrender - Steadfastness
   there is a great need for Healing - and Hope!

Our Creator is the one who, piece by piece, picks up the shattered glass.
He uses each piece for the larger picture.
We must have HOPE!

Hope requires that we are born again (1 Peter 1:3-9)
Suffering leads to hope (Romans 5:3-5)
Hope demands that we hold fast, without wavering (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Hope is coming!! (Romans 8:18-25)

One day, all will be made new!!!!

But while we wait ... we must find Shelter.
Shelter in our Savior - ultimately, our hope and healing are ONLY found in Him.
Shelter in other Saints - God uses fallen, sinful people in our lives to help bring healing.

We must Share our story!
- For the goal of exposing darkness
- For our own healing
- For the encouragement of others
- For our good and His glory