Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving thanks

By Mary

Life has been full the past couple of weeks and internet time hasn't been my top priority. With holidays, weddings and looking for a house, there's been lots of time away from our apartment and lots of decisions to be made. However, it's also meant extra time with my husband and new friends so I can't complain.

We put an offer on a house 5 minutes away from the military base where Nick is stationed. If everything goes as planned, we may be able to move in before Christmas.

On Thanksgiving Eve my sister-in-law and I were invited to a Thanksgiving fun day at a private Christian school that some of the kids in our church attend. They had the cutest little program in their Pilgrim and Indian outfits, loads of games and prizes, hay rides and a pony ride and a big Thanksgiving lunch.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon and evening at a friend's house, playing with their dog, their boys, their Catchphrase, Mad Gab and Phase 10, and of course eating another big Thanksgiving meal.

And time after time my mind goes wandering back to last year, the first time I spent the holiday away from home. Alanna and I had the fun of shopping and cooking for twenty people from over seven different countries who of course had never celebrated Thanksgiving.

This year I missed my family, Alanna, the children of my heart. And God is just as worthy to be praised, glorified and thanked as if I had all of them here with me this very minute.

Thanks-giving is not a day but an attitude of the heart, something that should be based not on circumstances but on the Giver of every good thing. He has blessed me and continues to do so every day in a thousand ways.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I'm once again far from home, sitting on a couch in South Africa as I wrote up this blog on a scrap of paper. Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to love....
Putting the Lions to bed last night was a good summary of what I'm thanking God for. I remember mostly sitting on the little blue baby couch with Solly, Warren, and Kingston. We were just cuddling, reading books, and listening to the Tarzan soundtrack. Solly on my lap, thumb in his mouth, hand touching my face. These are the precious moments- the ones I'll never forget.
I had another such moment this morning, when someone carried sleepy Martin into the nursery, and he slept on my shoulder for close to an hour. When he woke up, he leaned back his sweaty head, smiled at me, and leaned forward with his lips puckered for a kiss. Really it's hard to believe that God's given me this gift of being with him again.
My heart is so full for all of them today. Last night was one of those nights when I could cry just for loving them so much- for wanting so much for them. I just knelt on the floor of their bedroom as they fell asleep and prayed for them. I can't explain the intense longing in my heart that they'd come to know Christ. I want for them a double adoption- into God's family and into an earthly family of their own. In the meantime, I'm so blessed to be here to love them. Here to kiss their sleepy foreheads in the dark, to pick them up when they stumble, to cheer for them when they succeed. And this- the opportunity to love them and to tell them about God's love for them- this is one thing I'm thanking God for this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Faithful Father

by Alanna

On Friday night we got the news, unexpectedly, that Siyabonga will be going back to live with his dad on Sunday. It was such a shock to me and I did nothing but cry initially. Now that I've had time to think, I have so many questions. I wonder if Siya will be safe, if his dad truly loves him, if he will come to know the Lord. I can no longer influence his little life by telling him about his Creator. He is going to be gone and I will never see him or hear anything about him again. The thought of it breaks my heart, and it hurts. There's another part of me also, the part that likes to feel like I am in control. That part of me feels so utterly lost. I was never in control in the first place though. Siyabonga has always belonged to God. Through the past fifteen months that I've known and prayed for him, he has never been mine. His future has always been in God's hands, and even though I'll never see what that looks like, God knows. My Father, full of lovingkindness and compassion, sees Siyabonga and loves him more than I ever could. My Father, who is so infinitely faithful, will pursue Siya even now. I pray that He pursues him with His love until Siya relents and falls into the arms of his heavenly Father-the One who will never let him go.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

this too shall pass

By Mary

Recently the phrase "and this too shall pass" came up in conversation in our house. It's in the Bible right? At least we'd all heard it mentioned in sermons, or at least had it thrown out in Christian circles. Of course none of us had any idea where it might actually be--Paul's letters maybe? Jesus speaking?--but it seemed like it should be in there somewhere.

Obviously we had no luck finding the actual quotation in the Bible.

Reading through the Bible however, that same encouragement and the hope of that promise-- though not phrased exactly the same--is found throughout the Old Testament and the New.

Our God is mighty and powerful and He has an eternity more wonderful than any imaginations in store for His people.

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them lights. And they shall reign forever and ever.
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly."
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

(for trivia's sake, other Bible-like phrases not directly quoted in the Bible include "spare the rod, spoil the child", "the eye is the window to the soul", "the lion shall lie down with the lamb", "pride comes before the fall" and perhaps most controversially "do unto others as you would have others do unto you.")

Thursday, November 4, 2010

the music we feed our children

by Alanna

The past week of mine here in South Africa was spent on nightshift-which involves mostly cleaning, and also feeding the younger babies. During nearly the whole night the radio is on, tuned to 94.7 South Africa's version of Colorado's 107.1 (in other words, typical secular music) Although I used my ipod quite frequently and switched off the radio until someone else turned it back on, I was still subject to quite a lot of trashy music-for hours on end sometimes.
I am literally horrified by the music we listen to in our culture.
(Thanks be to God, because not long ago I was putting up with probably half of what they play on such radio stations)
Listening to this music makes my soul feel oppressed-there is nothing edifying about it. Next time you turn on the radio or your ipod, please analyze what you're listening to. If you are not willing to analyze lyrics honestly, you are most likely listening to trash. Explicit songs about perversion and using other people's bodies for your own pleasure are a mockery in the face of Christ who died to pay for such sins.
I am grieved that the babies here are subject to so much of this type of music and also grieved that I'm not in leadership and so there is only a limited amount I can do to fight it.
Anyway, someone mentioned to me that maybe we shouldn't let anything into our home on the TV that we wouldn't allow in real life. If we wouldn't want our children to see a murderer in their home, why do we allow it on TV? It was thought-provoking to me and I am concerned about the things we feed our children. Is there such a thing as movies that "go over their heads" because they are "too young to understand"? Should we play trashy music while our babies sleep?
I think that children absorb much more than we suspect. From even before birth, I wonder if children are being saturated with the kind of values we want them to hold as adults. If we want our children to grow up with their lives focused around the Lord, then why do we so often fill their minds with just the opposite?
Let's consider how we can influence our children by the things that we watch and listen to. It is more than just our words and actions that speak to them. It is the values embedded in music that w allow to soak into their little minds and hearts. Let us mold the children entrusted to us into the kind of men and women that respect and love each other rightly, pursuing God with their whole hearts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

News of the day

By Mary

This morning it was hard to muster up the courage to get out of bed, to throw off the warmth of the covers and face the cold. It's been chilly lately. Gray skies and blustery breezes. My new slippers have become well-acquainted with my feet and I always have a blanket handy when I sit down to read.

It's the kind of weather perfect for baking cookies and stirring up a pot of hot apple cider.

Snow is on my mind--the sad fact that I most likely won't get to see more than a dusting this winter. I've always believed that cold without snow is the saddest sort of cold. I'll just have to follow the advice I've been given and bundle up in sweaters for a walk along the beach. If I can't have the things Colorado has to offer, I might as well enjoy the things Colorado doesn't have.

Like the parades and the festivals and the craft fairs, or the little Parson's General Store just down the street. There's the historic district of Beaufort and the once a month free concerts held on the docks there throughout the year. Or the twice a month movies in the summer.

There seems to be plenty to enjoy if you know where to look.

We're halfway through our college class, with midterms this week. We'll be going over everything we've learned about Bibliology and Theology and starting on Christology the next week.

The Awana program at church is settling down into a pattern...though several of the leaders have been discussing changes that need to be made. My brother is currently the acting commander as our commander is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment throughout the week. Please be in prayer for his healing. He's such a wonderful, godly man.

This is my first year working with the T&T girls and I'm completely amazed sometimes at how little basic Bible knowledge they have. Or basic vocabulary and memorization skills. We've begun sharing prayer requests with one another (though one of my girls didn't understand that concept either) I want to be faithful in prayer for them and that Wednesday nights would be about more than playing some games and earning candy and Awana bucks.

The election results I've seen so far last night and this morning have only shown me that all the things I voted for were voted against by the majority.

Sometimes life seems like a hopeless struggle against the world, against darkness and ignorance and vice. At times it's hard to care, the passion dies down, for what's the point of putting in the effort? But the future is so bright. We don't have to save the day, only follow God through each moment of it. He's already taken care of the rest.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

White as Snow

By Beth

Driving to work today, I looked up. For days clouds billowed in the west and hid, as under a veil, everything in that direction. But today, as I looked up, there was revealed the clearest range of snow-capped mountains. Cool, crisp, pure perfection.

"God," I said, "What purity! Lord what beauty..."

And ever so gently He said, "This is how I have cleansed you. Whiter than snow. Purity, perfection."


"Yes, you."

He sees me spotless because He has washed me with His blood. He sees me spotless because He that was spotless has exchanged His white robes for my filthiness.

How can I not thus conclude that that Lord is good?

"Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."-Isaiah 1:18

[the above was shared by our dear friend, to help keep us connected to the home life in Colorado while we're both many miles away]