Lessons from A to Z

From Trash to Treasure ~ May/June 2014

Abby and Zoe have trash detail in our house. At first, they couldn’t have cared less about the garbage, trash day, or the mundane details like what size of can we had. Until it became their chore and they had to invest time into doing a good job.  It didn’t take long before they started to care that the recycle bins were sorted properly into glass, paper and plastic.  They even looked forward to the promised day we would get the all-encompassing recycle cans in our town.

As you can imagine, the day the larger recycling can came was a day of much rejoicing for them! So much so, that we took these pictures. We could finally fit the vast quantities a family of six recycles. No more stomping down garbage or bagging up the overflow. They ran out to meet the truck, thanking the sanitation workers, and brought the can up our driveway like a found treasure. A treasure! Because that’s what it was now.  A valuable commodity for their investment of time into that chore.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

~ Luke 12:34

This verse shows us how wise God was in building us this way. Do you ever wish you cared a little more about something, but honestly just don’t? I have. But there is hope! This verse encourages us to invest in the stuff we know is good and worthy of our concern, even if our heart isn’t in it yet. If we are faithful to place our treasures of time and money into the hurting places of this world, God is faithful to steer our hearts toward those very things. Where is your treasure?

I Have Not Come for the Well... ~ April 2014
Last month we geared up for another fancy Easter at our house.

I got out our best china and laid out the kids’ fancy Easter clothes. All to celebrate what Christ came for…not the fancy. Not the people that “have it all together”. But for the sick, the lost, the people that have it all falling apart.  Hmmm...

So this Easter had special meaning when we got to spread love and the Easter Message to the kids at Syringa—the low-income trailer park that Resonate has adopted.

I was out of town speaking to women (about this very topic), when I received an email from one of our Syringa team members: “We had the wrong dates for the Easter Party at Syringa. It is TOMORROW and they need 30 baskets and an egg hunt!” It was too short of notice to do much, and I couldn’t start making calls in the middle of a conference I was speaking at. I said a quick prayer for help to rise up, and left it in God’s hands. But it stayed on my mind and heart.

The next day, Chad texted me these pictures. He had seen the email in my inbox and without a word from me took action! 

He called people in our church until he found enough to sponsor 30 baskets. Then he, the kids & the team bought everything for the baskets and the egg hunt. 

They went to Syringa the next morning, had a party and played with our friends there. I was so proud of my family!

We are learning as we go, folks. But this became the highlight of our Easter week by far! 

Easter is too good of news to keep it as a fancy church affair. It is news worth sharing, worth taking a basket to a child, a ham to a neighbor, or an egg hunt to a slum. It is worth taking the message of Christ to his prime audience… those who are not well yet.

And Jesus answered them, 
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, 
but those who are sick. 
I have not come to call the righteous 
but the sinners to repentance.”
~ Luke 5:31-32 

Putting on the Full Armor ~ March 2014

Chad has recently introduced Xaiver and Zander to his favorite childhood superhero cartoons. Specifically, “Spiderman and His Amazing Friends”, after he discovered the original episodes were on Netflix. Ah the memories! The boys love it (and Chad still does too)!

What I love most though, is that the boys can’t watch a full episode without running in to their room and “suiting up” into full superhero gear. They put on a Spiderman or Superman costume, or put together their own “armor” with capes, masks and bright red rain boots. Only then are they ready to watch Spidey “save the day” as they call it.

One episode and a costume is usually plenty of fuel for their imaginations. Then the TV goes off and they boys boldly fly around the house, armed with foam swords or light sabers, fighting enemies and saving an unsuspecting sister, cat or stuffed animal from the invisible perils that we were previously unaware of.

The boys are a wonderful reminder to me of the armor God has asked me to put on. I sometimes forget about the invisible perils all around me. But we have a real spiritual enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). And he often attacks when we are being most effective in taking “enemy ground”.

With all the victories going on in our family and our ministry at Resonate Church, Chad and I have felt a spiritual battle raging. (Thankfully we are on the winning side!) We want to stand strong against the devil's schemes, put on the full armor of God and be victorious in Christ. We invite you to read and pray through the following verse with us:

"10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel..."

A Year In Review - February 2014

Last year was a BIG year for our family! I think its safe to say it was our BIGGEST yet. It was full of BIG THINGS—both wonderful and difficult. And God has stretched our faith, our wallets, and our hearts because of it. Here are some highlights (chronologically):

Big Court Trials - Both in February & June, we were in two of the biggest cases in our small area, involving our boys & 5 other parties. The trials were hard, stressful, and a first for us. But good things came out of it and we have maintained healthy relationships with all sides, even now after our adoption.
Visitations & more visitations - With all this, came lots of visits from biological family. On Skype, in hotels and DSHS rooms –we did it all!

Xavier’s Big Tonsils & Adenoids– The surgery caused Xavi a little anxiety, a lot of relief, & soon after better speech!
Potty training & more potty training - We potty-trained two kids, one successfully, one is still "in transition". Causing much trauma for Chad and I.  Seriously, we are on year two.  We covet your prayers.
 Craig’s Big Surgery - Star’s Dad had a major health scare in June. 2 surgeries, months in the hospital, and months in a wheel chair, he is now recovering. It was amazing to see how much he is loved though, and how much he loves the Lord. We were humbled to be a part of such a powerful thing. God is good!
Baptisms and more Baptisms - over 80 people were baptized last year at our church, including our own Zoe! Praise the Lord, what a wonderful thing!

Big House Issues - Between our rental and our house, a fridge, 2 ovens, a dishwasher, water heater, sewer line & foundation all failed on us since Fall. Ouch.

Abby’s Big Appendix - Just one week before Christmas, Abby went in for an emergency appendectomy. She was such a brave trooper! 

Paperwork & more Paperwork - We navigated through a flurry of adoption forms, interviews & certifications, hoping to squeak in the boys’ adoption before the New Year!
Our BIG Adoption - On December 23rd we drove back to the courthouse and officially adopted our precious sons. What a great ending to a challenging year!
Whew! Like I said, BIG stuff. But over this last year, we have experienced Christ more deeply, risked more for Him, learned more from Him, and clung to Him tighter. We have had seasons that are hard-fought, praying on our knees. And that's OK, God tells us these seasons will come. But He also tells us they will also go.  And wonderful seasons of laughter and dancing soon follow.
 “To every thing there is a season, 
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  
…a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; 
a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” 
  ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 ~
A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words ~ January 2014

Two years after welcoming our boys into our family, this December 23rd we went to the courthouse and finally and oh SO joyfully adopted Xavier and Zander officially! I still get weepy at this blissful thought.

Such a hard-fought emotional journey this has been. In this very courtroom. At times I think I could fill a book with all that we’ve been through. 

But other times, I’ve had no words. The moments when only God could hear the groanings of my heart— or on this day, the absolute joy and thankfulness I still can’t express adequately.

Words fail me.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So this month I offer you our adoption pictures instead.

I hope our story will always point to the most amazing picture of all— God the Father, who adopted us as His own, sacrificing The Most to go after the least.  (Read Luke 15 for three beautiful pictures of this!)

And what a celebration there is when even one is brought into God’s family! Luke 15:10 says,  
“In the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents.” 

 Now that is a beautiful picture.

Crashing Waves ~ August 2013

One of the highlights of August was our annual trip to Seaside Oregon with Chad’s extended family. This year the weather cooperated and was warm enough for the girls and I to play in the waves. We weren’t in there for long before I noticed how differently Zoe and Abby played in the waves.

Abby preferred to stay in the shallower waters where she was more mobile. As waves got close to her, she turned toward the beach, readied herself like a relay racer and ran. Once the wave had ended, she returned back to her original spot,  unscathed. She never got knocked down.

Zoe’s approach was much different. She didn’t run. She ventured deeper. She stood strong and  braced herself before each unavoidable wave crashed around her. Sometimes she screamed with the thrill of it all. Other times she would throw her arms out as if embracing the oncoming wave.

The girls reminded me of the waves that we face in life—the temptations, trials and tribulations that inevitably come. Some waves we should RUN from: temptations that could destroy our relationship with God, our spouse, or our family. God tells us to flee from temptation (2 Tim 2:22). Like Abby, watch for them while they are still far off and run!  Other waves are unavoidable and God tells us to BRACE ourselves (1 Cor 16:13): trials and tribulations that inevitably come through perhaps no fault of our own. Like Zoe, stand strong in the Word, face them head on and brace yourself!

Waves will come in our lives, God wants us to pay attention and be ready to run or to stand.

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.  ~Isaiah 48:18

Finding Rest ~ June/July 2013

Our summer started off with a bang and just kept going. In June, we had the big trial for our boys, and my Dad was hospitalized.  In July we prepared to sell our house in Tacoma, went to three weddings and a family reunion, and drove more than 60 hours to go to all of them. Now a new school and ministry year starts in two weeks. Phew!

If I’ve learned anything from doing all this with 4 kids (especially with a two year old). It is that rest HAS to be scheduled, prioritized, enforced. Or you will pay.

The last wedding we attended was a good example of this. It was at the end of one of our long trips, Chad was officiating the 2pm wedding and it was a few hours away. Which meant no nap for our 2 year old. Mid-wedding, in the middle of a clearing in the forest, he had a melt down. I had no room to exit to, no door to close, we are in the middle of a clearing.  I quickly walked him to the back of the ceremony, to the edge of the woods. We stared into the quiet, thick forest and whispered about what lived there. He finally put his head on my shoulder and rested.

Rest has to be prioritized, or even in the most wonderful situations, bad things can happen. God knows this.  He not only set up a day of rest for mankind each week, but he enforced rest on our agriculture and animals. Every living thing needs rest.

So besides the things listed above, our other summer days have been filled with rest. We have lazy days of lounging in the backyard, BBQ dinners together as a family, playing by the pool, reading, and just hanging out. Chad and I are reading scripture and books to refresh us spiritually and infuse new life into our ministry and family.

There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 
For the one who has entered his rest has himself also rested from his works, 
as God did from His. 
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, 
lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.   
~ Hebrews 4:9-11

Life Abundant ~ Spring 2013

Springtime came a little late around here. In fact, we almost skipped it altogether!  One week there was still frost on the ground in the mornings, the next week it was 70 degrees outside and we were barbequing.  With the warm weather, came my eager anticipation for all of our flowers to bloom!  Each day I watched our colorless gardens, waiting for the first flowers to come out.  And finally now, a few weeks into spring, we have an abundance of life blooming!

One example that Abby marveled at the other day was a Poppy.  The Poppy has the most interesting large, pale green, fuzzy bud.  She didn’t yet know what it was, but couldn’t help break one open, just to see what was  inside.  There she found beautiful, delicate ruffles of petals just waiting to pop.  This week the first of our Poppies opened and she got to see the incredible flower in all its vibrant glory.
Zoe on baptism night.

With all this life blossoming around us, I can’t help but think of Zoe and her baptism this month.  Much like a flowering Poppy, baptism is an outward sign of a new vibrant life within.  It is the symbol of a new life in Christ. Not only that, but Zoe’s name literally means “life” in Greek.  And anyone who knows her can attest she is bursting with spunk and life! One of my favorite verses using her name is John 10:10,  “I came that they may have LIFE [zoë], and have it abundantly.”  Not just biological life (“bios”), but an abundant,  vibrant quality of life (“zoë”)!

Zoe waves to a cheering Resonate crowd.

As her mother, I have watched her life begin and grow in eager anticipation.  God put a lot of spunk and spirit into such a small little bud!  And now I am so thankful, humbled and excited to see the vibrant things God does in and through her life.  No longer just a little bud, God has given Zoe a colorful, vibrant, abundant life in Him.

I came that they may have life

and have it abundantly.

~ John 10:10

Facing The Unknown ~ Fall 2012

Well folks, I’m learning lessons from my Father like never before!  But its not  based around a cute kids story.  In this case, it is learning the hard part of  being a Foster Mom — loving these precious boys with all my heart — while facing the unknown future with them.

Fostering has its cute moments, and sweet stories.  But it also has its heart-wrenching moments and hardships.  We are holding the hands of children who are on the front lines of loss & the unknown.   And it can be overwhelming.

Our family is facing the unknown. Two potential futures lay before us: the hope of adoption or the heart break of saying goodbye.  We would love to adopt these boys who have become our sons.  But it is not up to us, it is in the hands of a lot of people, and we pray ultimately in the hands of God.

I ask that you join us in praying for our sweet sons, as their future gets determined.  Pray for God’s best for them.  That is what we truly want: God’s absolute best!  I think of Abraham, placing his beloved son Isaac in God’s hands.  Facing  potential loss, he has faith and submits to God’s will.  God has a plan that is best and I’m laying this unknown future on the alter.

 As parents, Chad & I want to protect them, comfort them, provide stability and make plans for their future.  But in this case, we cannot always do that.  We must trust God with their lives and their unknown future that lies ahead.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”     

~ Jeremiah 29:11

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 ~ Philippians 1:6

Count Your Blessings ~ July & August

“Life is not horrible. Count your blessings.”  This is what Abby doodled on the chalk board wall at the Resonate Church office.  It is something I say often to our kids (or something like it).

It can be hard to see the blessings all around us, especially when life feels hard, or worse yet—horrible.

I will ask my sweet kids things like, “Do you have people who love you?” (Yes.) “Do you love the Lord and does He love you?” (Yes.) “Has He taken care of you so far?” (Yes.) "OK, so life isn’t horrible, it just feels that way right now.  Let's count some more blessings…"

Before long, a right perspective replaces a short-sighted pity party.  A smile returns along with a joy-filled heart.  NOW we can work on the problem, now that we have a correct perspective.

Psalm 103 gives us a great example of how to do this: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” It goes on to list so many benefits (aka blessings) that we have when living with and for the Lord.  I encourage you to read Psalm 103 this week!

So when I get stressed or short-sighted, I stop and think of that simple message Abby wrote on the chalk board:

“Life is not horrible, count your blessings.”

“Rejoice always,
pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

20/20 Hindsight ~ June 2012
This month we surprised Abby and Zoe with a trip to Disneyland.  As the trip   approached, we told the girls we were   flying to Seattle for a day.  But as I packed, Abby started to ask questions. “Mom, why are we packing so much?”  and “Why are we bringing swim suits?”

But once the big surprise was revealed, Abby began understanding all the strange details better.  Periodically, as we were walking thru Disneyland, Abby would blurt out, “Oh, that’s why you did that!”

I often feel the same way about God’s plans for me.  I don’t know why the strange details in my life happen, but many times I see His provisions for me in hindsight.

I have been reflecting on this especially as we are moving to a new home this month.  As you may remember, two years ago we     struggled to sell our Tacoma house and find a rental home here in Pullman.  I wanted to ask God “Why?” about a lot of things at that point.  But then He surprised us with a big beautiful house in the country - bigger than we imagined, for less than we ever thought possible.  What could have been a very temporary arrangement (staging the house while it stayed on the market), was our home for over a year and a half!  It has been a beautiful place to rest and recover after a somewhat difficult move.

And His surprises don’t end there!  He has timed this upcoming move beautifully too.  Just a month ago, Chad and I were talking about how we were looking forward to moving closer to town when the time came.  We were not only ready emotionally, but   financially too:  We were just days away from buying a 2nd car, when this house sold.  Perfect timing for us to redirect our “car money” into a down payment for a house.

God is good.  All the time.  I just don’t always see it until after His plans have been revealed.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”   ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Letters for Children ~ May 2012

Last Month Chad and I were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Mediterranean for a cruise with Chad’s family.  We were gone for a total of 11 days.  It was amazing, and humbling to be given such an opportunity. 

But with any major trip, the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to relax & enjoy it.  And we fully intended to enjoy this trip!  So Chad planned trip details, I prepared the home-front for our kids and their sitters. I made a notebook with house and kid info for the sitters.  We talked to our kids early on about what we were doing, what we planned for them and what we expected of them while we were gone.

Someone gave me another great idea: We made a big map of our trip, with daily letters for the kids to open, read where we were, what we were doing, and move a  little cruise ship around the map.  We added in a personal note and a present for each of them mid-way through, to encourage them.

It was a success!  Each day, the kids excitedly read our letters, and moved the ship around the map.  When we got home, I was surprised at how much they remembered and how it helped during the time we were away.  Their example made me think about how I approach the Bible—God’s own letter to His children

As His child, do I eagerly run to His letters each day?  Do I remember the words He has written?  Words of encouragement, instruction, even correction?  The Bible is full of personal encouragements and information for each stage of our lives as children of God—whether babies in our faith, young and growing, or those who are more mature and helping care for others.  This is His letter to His children until His return.  I want to follow the examples of my children and eagerly run to it each day.

What words does He have for you today?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Putting Words In My Mouth ~ April 2012
Last month, I had the privilege of speaking to 90 women at our Resonate Women’s Retreat.  I was the large group speaker, slotted to speak before the smaller break-out seminars.  And let me tell you, these were going to be some amazing seminars led by           incredible speakers and women of God.  I knew, because I had booked the speakers myself, met with them & got the privilege of reading their notes.  I was sharpened and challenged in my walk, and was so excited for what our women were in for!

But how could I adequately prepare these ladies for the pearls of wisdom they were about to receive?  All I could think to say was, “Pay attention cause you are gonna get The Word spoken into your life and you don’t want to miss it!”

It reminded me of something I hear every week with our 3-year old      foster son.  So this was the illustration I gave the women, and now I pass it on to you….

Our 3-year old has weekly speech therapy, in our effort to help him catch up verbally.  Each week, his speech therapist comes to our house with all sorts of toys, flashcards & games to play with him.  To him, it seems like any other day playing on the floor.  But she is teaching him; and when she wants him to pay attention she says enthusiastically, ”Are you ready?  OK, look! Now listen!”  Then she speaks the word clearly and carefully and he repeats it as best he can.  This happens over and over, in the hope someday he can   repeat it with ease and others will understand what he says.

So I ask you friends:  Are you ready?  OK, look.  Now listen!  God has a word to tell you, to teach you, so that you can hear it,      understand it and repeat it to others.  Listen to and learn God’s Word, keep it fresh in your heart and in your mouth, so that you too can speak His Word clearly and carefully to others and they will also understand.

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach…  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

~ Deuteronomy 30:11, 14

Modern Day Foot Washing ~ March 2012
Laundry. 9 piles long, 3 piles deep, and more in the washer and dryer.

     A picture speaks a thousand words, so I’m starting this lesson with the picture above—please observe.  This. Is. A lot. Of laundry. At least, it’s a lot for me!  With four kids now (one who sweats in PE, one who attracts all the mud from our long country driveway, one who has diaper blow outs, and one who drools chronically), I have entered a whole new realm of laundry.  Multiply that by a few days of not doing laundry, and you get the above picture.

     At first, folding this much laundry was like conducting a scientific experiment.  “How much dirty laundry can I find throughout the far corners of our house?”  But after the novelty wore off, fascination was replaced with my own pity party.  And as the piles grew, so did my pity party.

     “I did post-graduate work in seminary for this??  What a waste.”
     “I should be out there, ministering to the multitudes! Not in here muttering to piles of laundry.”   I pictured Jesus preaching the sermon on the mount.  “I want to be more like Jesus.”  Sigh.

     Then another picture came to mind.  Jesus—God incarnate, the Great I AM—washing the feet of his disciples.  Washing Peter’s feet who denied him, washing Judas’ feet who betrayed him.  And it was in NO WAY a waste of His time.

     In that simple, humble act, He demonstrated what it means to be a servant, and what it means to truly minister.  Humbling stuff. I am in no way “too good for this”.  I am in no way wasting my time or ministry.  But through serving my children, I will better understand how Christ served us, sacrificed for us, and modeled how leadership and ministry should be done.  My new prayer while folding, cleaning (or washing little feet!) is that I will be a better leader and minister “out there”, because I also served here.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, 
you also should wash one another’s feet.  
 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” 
~ John 13:13-15 ~

Resolutions ~ January/February 2012

       February is not only a time to celebrate love, it is also a good time to check in on January resolutions.  By this time, they’ve  either been long-forgotten or better yet, are   taking root as new habits.

     It was during Christmas that I was inspired to make one of my resolutions.  The kids had asked me what they could get me for Christmas.  My answer was probably similar to what millions of parents have said before me, “I just want you to be good kids, love one another, mind your parents and God.” Maybe I asked them to color a picture for me too.

    But it got me thinking—what can I give to my own heavenly      Father?  He gave His only Son, so that I may be His child too.  What can I possibly give Him? 

     Doesn’t He want the same thing for me, as I do for my children? To love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and strength.  And to love others as myself (Luke 10:27).  What can I give Him that would help me depend on Him more to do this? 

     For me the answer came easily and humbly… my impatience.  It is a gift certainly only the Lord could appreciate and handle!  With foster parenting, going from 2 to 4 kids, and now having two in  diapers—it hasn’t always brought out the best in me!  How quickly and easily I realize I can run out of patience: with myself, with my situation, with these 4 precious children.  It has been humbling.

     Thankfully, God brought this verse to mind (and continues to bring many others!) that help me with this new resolution...

Humble yourselves, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up
in due time.  Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.    
~ 1 Peter 5:6-7 

     So I cast my impatience on Him—as a “gift” only He would want,   as my resolution for the New Year—asking for His grace, patience and strength in return.       What does God want from you this year?

 “My grace is sufficient for you,
 for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s strength may rest on me.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Yes Zoe, There is a Santa Claus ~ December 2011

     It seems every family has a different approach to Santa - whether he subtracts or adds to Christ’s birthday and our kids’ Christmas mornings. This year Zoe tested our approach as she seemed more curious than ever about him. 

     Here was our answer to her: “Yes Zoe, there is a Santa Claus. He was a real man named St. Nicholas, who loved Jesus.  He became known for his generosity to the those in need and his love for children.  By obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give your money to the poor,” (Mark 10:21) he is a good example (and a fun reminder!) of how to show Christ’s love by being generous & thoughtful to others.”

     And what better day to do this, than on Christ’s birthday?

Buckled Up & Ready to Go ~ November 2011

Buckled up and ready for a fun journey!
        Just recently, we have become a one-car family.  Which on the plus side means we get to spend more time together as a family!  One of the things we find ourselves doing more together is running errands or picking up Chad from work.
       Often times, Abby and Zoe don’t know exactly where we’re going, what we’re doing, or how long it will take.  I just say, “OK, get your coats and get buckled up, so we can go!”  They are so good at doing their job, sometimes I’m the last one out to the car.  What a sweet sight to see them strapped in and ready to go!

       Do you ever feel like you’re on a ride with God?  I do!  He’s in the driver’s seat (which is where I like Him!), but I have NO IDEA where we’re going.  I want to ask God things like, “Where are you taking us?” “What am I supposed to do?” “Why can’t I just stay where I am?” or “How long will this take?”  As His child, He has things he wants me to do and places He wants me to go. But He doesn’t always give me any more information than, “Let’s go.” 

       Our journey in pursuing Foster-Adoption is very much like this.  We know God has some things He wants us to do—sharing our hearts, home, and space in our family with a little one (or two!).  I don’t know how long this will take, or where we’ll end up.  But I don’t need to know.  God has just asked me to get ready, buckle up and prepare for a ride!

       So I take an example from my daughters:  Be quick to do my part, get ready and strap in for the ride.  God’s got some business to do and I’m going to do my best to enjoy the journey.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
Since you cannot do this very little thing,
why do you worry about the rest?

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning... 

Luke 12: 26, 32

The Pumpkin Patch ~ October 2011

       This last month my sister Emily and I took the girls to a pumpkin patch.  It was actually a big fall event at a nearby farm.  They had crafts, balloon animals, a bounce house, hay rides, live music, cider and even an antique sale.  There was something for everyone and we all had fun!  But no matter how much fun we had, the day would not have been complete without finding a few choice pumpkins.  

       This tradition has become all the more sweet since we have discovered a wonderful “Pumpkin Patch Parable” book.  It brings such light into what  can be a somewhat dark holiday.  Since the Lord Himself created pumpkins, it seems appropriate to redeem this familiar symbol of the harvest season for His good purpose.

        The story follows a farmer who grows and cares for his pumpkins.  He cleans out their icky stuff inside, puts a smile on their face and a light inside them.  In the darkness, they light the way for others.  And when people see the smiling pumpkin they smile back! The Farmer had turned a simple pumpkin into something simply glorious.

       Our prayer is that through this simple pumpkin parable your own heart will be filled with the light of God’s love and you too will “let yourself glow!”

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," 
made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 
2 Corinthians 4:6 "

You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven." 
Matthew 5:14-16 "

Harvest ~ September 2011

“The combines are coming!
     The combines are coming!”
This was what I heard as the girls burst through the front door and pulled me out into the yard to see all the excitement. 

     As I’ve mentioned before, we live 3 miles off the nearest paved road—out in the middle of no where the wheat fields.  So this change in our quiet country setting was all very thrilling!  Sure enough, 6 huge combines had suddenly descended onto the fields surrounding our house.  They worked quickly together, plowing and dumping their grain into nearby semi trailers.  We watched in awe, wanting to be part of the action and waving to the harvesters each time they passed.

     With Fall upon us, I can’t help but apply this scene to our own ministry at Resonate Church.  As our numbers grow, it reminds me of a bountiful harvest.  We’ve been spared the fires and hail that sometimes come in ministry (no matter how hard you are working!)  I find    myself standing nearby, watching and gaping in awe at this crazy-ripe harvest that is happening.  Praise. The. Lord.

     And harvest happens fast!  I witnessed our staff working that first few weeks of school—much like the combines.  They descend on the campuses of WSU and U of I, working quickly together to reap as many as possible before they set to planting the winter crop. 

     Honestly, “harvest” can sound scary to me.  To talk to someone about God and hope that it ends in the “sinner’s prayer”… that’s a lot of pressure!  And let me tell you, I’ve suffered through a few droughts in my 18 years of ministry!   All I could do was pray that if I didn’t harvest something, maybe I at least planted a seed.

     But this season I am seeing the bounty of what Christ describes as a field “ripe for harvest”.  In fact, we find ourselves scrambling for more “silo space” and more workers.  It is exciting and I am drawn to it, without worry or fear.  But like Abby and Zoe, I am marveling at God’s harvest, excited to jump in!

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! 

They are ripe for harvest.

~ John 4:35

The Beauty of Sea Glass ~ August 2011

This month we spent a few days at my parent’s beach house on the Hood Canal.  One of our favorite past-times on the Canal is beach combing.  We usually each pick a different treasure to hunt—this time Zoe chose sea glass. I love sea glass, so I happily helped her hunt. I love the smooth, rounded edges, the pretty colors and the way the light is reflected.  But treasuring beach glass seems ironic.  Its trash.  I wouldn’t pick up a piece of broken glass on the street, but I can’t resist if its on the beach!

As Zoe searched and carefully added each piece to her growing mosaic, I couldn’t help but think of how God values us.  We are much like treasured pieces of sea glass. 

At times you may feel like fragile glass that has been tossed in the waters. You wash up on an unknown shore, and endure the crashing waves, over and over again. You may have moments that you feel will break you.  Or moments you want to get back out to the open water to avoid it all. And yet, God keeps you there for a purpose. To turn you into a treasured gem, beautiful, refined, something of value, that reflects the light beautifully.

We aren’t always sure how we will endure different circumstances in our lives. But I am reminded with each piece in Zoe’s collection, that a shard of discarded trash can become something beautiful and valuable.  God is doing the same with me. He is refining me. Smoothing the rough edges that can bring harm. He values me and with each wave, I am becoming more of who I was created to be.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds,

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

Let perseverance finish its work

so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  

~ James 1:2-4

July 2011 ~ Ch-Ch-Changes

We are witnessing changes every day in our house!  Right now it’s mostly in "A".  She’s growing like a weed, getting taller & taller, her hair getting longer. And let’s just say the tooth fairy has had a busy year!

Before & After - A on her first day & then last day of 1st Grade. 

Just this week she lost one of her front teeth.  And the one next to it is going to follow soon.  Do you remember loosing teeth?  I had forgotten what a tricky milestone it can be! One filled with anxiety over the pain, but then relief and joy follow with the new change (both physically and for what’s under your pillow later).

I’m reminded of all this as I watch A go through it.  She nervously protects her tooth, and sometimes cries over the potential pain (more than she ever does once it’s out).  After she looses it, she is filled with excitement and joy, for being a big girl and growing up a little more, for being brave, and at the thought of putting it under her pillow.

We grown ups often face change in the same way.  Change usually means loss and risk and can often come wrapped up in those tricky milestones in life.  I recognized A’s fear, because I do it too!  I nervously protect what is mine, scared of the pain and loss.  Many tears are shed when facing change!

But change always makes room for new growth - beautiful, exciting GROWTH!  I watch A’s growing beauty, maturity and joy with each milestone.  And I love it!  It is what every parent wants for their child.  It also inspires me to face change bravely.  I can trust that God has something good on the other side of that change - beautiful growth, strength, maturity and joy wait for me with each change.  Why wouldn’t I want to make room for that?

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:5

June 2011 ~ Camping in the Front Yard 

This summer we have a bit of camping planned.  We bought a new tent and are excited to put it to use.  But before any of the big camping trips have approached, our kids have already tested it out in our front yard.

On the last day of school, A, Z and two of their friends had a camp out to celebrate summer break.  We had four giggly girls with jammies and stuffed animals, so excited for a slumber party in the tent.  Of course being the female parent, I was the chaperone, sleeping in the tent with them.

That night, I thought about how different this would be if I was actually on a camp out with four kids by myself.  It’s a lot less risky camping in the front yard!  The kids asked me all sorts of   jittery questions—”What if it rains?” “What if we have thunder & lightening?” “What if we get scared?”  It was a relief to us all that the answer was always, “We can go inside the house.”

It would have been a whole different night if those things happened and we had ventured out on our own, with no nearby shelter.  But we had nothing to fear, no storms, no crying girls. Shelter & safety was just a few feet away.

I feel the same way in my relationship with God.  I want to be careful that I am in the shelter of God’s will, that my plans & my relationship are close to Him.  I never want to risk pursuing something outside of His will, outside of His protection.  Because when storms come in our lives, in our jobs, ministries, or in our marriages (and they do!) I want to make sure that I am close to the Lord - right in the “front yard” of God’s shelter.  So that I can run to Him, and trust that He has a plan and a way through it. 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…
...no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
Psalm 91:1,10 

May 2011 ~ Talking with Dad
On our way to Cannon Beach last week, we stopped at a beautiful overlook of the Columbia River Gorge.  It was a great chance to take a break from our 7 hour drive, let the kids run and take in the expansive view. It also provided a great photo opportunity for me!  Just before leaving, I found Chad and Z sitting on this rock, talking and enjoying the view.  I confess,  I had no idea what this article would be about yet, but I thought this  picture might be my inspiration!

As we headed back to the car, I asked Chad what they talked about. (Hoping for some deep spiritual lesson I could write about!) Then he answered, “Mermaids.”

Huh.  Well, at least I got a cute picture.

I don’t exactly know what I was expecting.  Our little 5 year old probably wouldn’t be contemplating the deeper issues of life with her Dad.  She’s going to talk with him about her favorite things that fill her imagination and her days.  She talks with her Daddy daily, and he loves hearing about even the little things.

And there is the lesson.  When do I talk to my Father?  Is it only when the deeper, harder issues come up that I get on my knees?  Or is it every day, with the little and big things?  The Bible says God knows the number of hairs on our head and cares for our every thought.  He wants to hear from us daily, and cares about even the little things that fill our thoughts & time.

What have you been talking to your Heavenly Father about? 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 
~1 Peter 5:7
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. 
~ Matthew 6:30 

April 2011 ~ Taking the Scissors into our own Hands 

One morning last month, after I brushed through one-too-many tangles in Z’s hair, she asked (or rather begged through tears) if she could get her hair cut.  I heartily agreed and we both sighed for the relief it would bring our mornings.

I took her to the salon and we discussed with the stylist the haircut that would be best for Z. She loved it!  It was perfect for her..  All was well. 

Fast forward one week later:  As we’re rushing out the door for bible study, with dinner for 12 in hand, I noticed something odd about Z’s pigtails. 

“Did you cut your hair?!?”
“No...” Z said hesitantly.
“You did! You cut your hair!!”
“Yes!” She admitted and started to cry.

I quickly took her into the bathroom to surmise the damage.  New, jagged bangs framed her face, and one pigtail was slightly shorter than the other.  “Oh honey, your sweet haircut is gone… why did you do this? And after we already paid for a perfect one?”

“I liked getting my haircut, and I wanted to do it myself.” Tears continue to flow as she sees the results in the mirror. “I miss my pretty hair!”  I shaped it up as best I could, and now time will have to take care of the rest.  But as time passes, I realize she’s not the only one who takes the scissors into her own hands.

I often forget that God has a perfect plan for my life.  And He's already paid a great price for it.  But I so easily want to take things into my own hands and “do it myself”.  Whether it’s an opportunity, a relationship or trusting God with the unknown, it’s easy to take control.  Its been going on since the Garden of Eden and it reminds me again of how much we need God in control of our lives.  We are wonderfully made by a designer who has the very best plan for us… isn’t it time to put down the scissors? 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:14

February 2011 ~ Home is Where the Heart Is
During the last 6 months the word “home” has had to be carefully defined in our family.  Since August, we have lived in 3 different houses, sometimes alternating between two at a time.  That’s a lot of houses for a 5 and 7 year old to keep track of!  We were careful not to say, “we’re going home” without specifying which one - our “Pullman home” or our “Tacoma home”.

It’s still a little hard & strange to hear my 7 year old ask people, “Do you rent this house or own it?” Or when we’re visiting overnight somewhere and my 5 year old asks “Mommy, are we going to live here now?”  I know its just a result of a season in our lives.  And I’m OK with that.  It has allowed us the opportunity to define with them what is a “house” and what is a “home”. 

I say to them, “My sweet girls, I know it can be hard to understand.  The houses we live in may be temporary and change from time to time.  But our HOME is wherever we are together as a family.  It will always be a treasured place, a safe place, filled with love, and God will be there with us.”

I can’t help but think of our future home too...

So I say to you, my sweet friends, I know it can be hard for us to remember.  Our earthly house is temporary and will change soon.  But there is a HOME being prepared for those who love the Lord, where moths & rust do not destroy.  Keep that as your heart’s treasured place… your true HOME, a place filled with love.  And God will be there with us.
Our current house in the fields of the Palouse
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~ Matthew 6:19-21

“ Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
~ John 14:1-3

January, 2011 ~ Early Mornings

My oldest daughter "A" & I have much earlier mornings now - due to her morning commute on the “Rural” School Bus. (Ah, the   country life!)  She is THRILLED though to be riding the bus for the first time & doesn’t want to be driven in by us.  But it means she has to wake up while its still dark, catch the bus at 7am, transfer to another bus and eat breakfast at school.   (Yawn!) 

That first morning, I found myself dressed & outside at the crack of dawn, waiving goodbye to my girl on the big yellow bus. “Hmm.” I thought, “What should I do now?” So I started jogging.

Weeks later, we’ve both developed our morning routines.  She reads insatiably on the bus.  I’m jogging a few miles, then having prayer & time in the Word.  It’s a beautiful thing.

But when we first wake up, it doesn’t feel so beautiful!  Its pitch dark & cold.  We feel alone in our early morning burden. (Is anyone else awake right now?!?)  But I always    remind her, “It feels like night-time right now, but the sun is always up by the time we get outside.” And its true!  I never have to wonder if I’ll be jogging in the dark.  The sun always rises by then.

Having just gone through a somewhat “dark” time,  I am    reminded of God’s faithfulness.  Just as the sun, God is always there to meet us.  Daily.  Without fail.  When you feel cold & alone in your burdens, or are facing a long road, its easy to wonder if He’ll show up.  But He is as faithful as the sun!  You NEVER have to wonder.  He will always be there to light your path if you walk in faith with Him.

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.  As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.

Hosea 6:3