Monday, December 14, 2009

Miracles


The miracle of Christmas. I keep hearing those words this Christmas season. I have been thinking about them often. Wondering what they mean to different people. What do they mean to me?

When I think of the Christmas story I wonder if the people there that first Christmas night thought they were witnessing a miracle. They had been waiting so many years for a messiah, a savior. They were expecting him to come riding in and save the day. They weren't expecting a helpless baby born in a humble stable to poor, young parents. Did they see it for the miracle that it was? I can see it because I see the big picture. I am looking at it 2,000 years later so I know the end of the story. I somehow doubt that they could truly understand the miracle of Christmas. Even if they believed, it was probably beyond their comprehension.

What about today? Do we still believe in miracles? Or are they only stories from the Bible or things that happen to other people, not us? I have been thinking about this lately because we are praying so hard for a little boy, Michael, who desperately needs a miracle. I am praying for that miracle, but do I truly believe in miracles?

To be honest, if you had asked me several years ago I probably would have said no. Even though I was a Christian and believed that He is fully capable to do anything He chooses, I saw very little evidence of miracles in my own life. Or so I thought.

When my daughter, Emma, was born I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that she would be healed. I prayed that God would choose to do a miracle in her life. As time went on, I stopped praying for her healing. I just wanted her to LIVE. When she was taken from me to go to Heaven, I was so shaken. It took some time until I could look back at her life and see the miracle that had happened. She had beat the odds and lived for nine years. She had touched so many lives. On the day she went home to Heaven she was healed! Looking back, I could see that I had been given a miracle. It wasn't the miracle I had asked for but it was truly a miracle.

Two years ago, when we were drowning in paper work to adopt Anna Grace, I again started praying for a miracle. We had received the news that adoptions from Vietnam were in jeopardy of being stopped completely and my heart was broken at the thought of not being able to bring Anna home. This time God did give me the miracle I prayed for. Anna joined our family two months before Vietnam was closed.

Miracles. They still happen. Sometimes they are exactly the miracle we pray for and other times it is something different, but a miracle still. I have to have the faith that the God who knows me better than I know myself has a reason for the ways He works. I have to believe that His ways are higher than mine. I have to believe that His ways are best.

This Christmas I pray for Michael. I pray with all my heart that he and his family receive exactly the Christmas miracle they have been praying for and he is healed. But I know that even if it doesn't happen exactly that way, God is still working and I pray we see the miracle He chooses to do in Michael's life.

This Christmas I pray we all see the miracles around us. The ones we ask for and the ones we don't.

This Christmas I pray we all see the miracle of Christmas. I pray our eyes are opened to the miracle of that helpless baby born in a humble stable to poor, young parents who grew to be a homeless traveler with a band of ragtag followers. It may not look like a miracle but when we open our hearts and see the God who became man to die on that cross in our place, how can we not know that Christmas is truly a miracle! Every day spent free from the guilt of sin is our Christmas gift. And THAT is a Christmas miracle!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Whatever..." Wednesday

Wow, it has been a long time since I've blogged. I haven't felt like saying much lately but hopefully this will pass soon. I miss blogging...

Since I don't feel much like acually saying anything I will share a Whatever Wednesday in pictures. If you read my blog you know what a Whatever Wednesday is and if you don't see the post below...

With the Thanksgiving season I have had many Whatever moments with family and friends for which I am truly thankful.


We had the opportunity to hang out with some college friends over Thanksgiving weekend. It was good to see them and their children even if it made me feel extremely old...




We spent two days with family and, though I didn't get pictures of all of our family, I love and apreciate each of them.



Anna Grace and cousin Nathan





My sister and brother-in-law






Anna Grace and cousin Nikki





Anna Grace and cousin Nicholas









Allie and Nikki







Uncle Skip and the flying turkey




We also had a special visit two weeks ago by our dear friend, Debbie, from Florida. She spent a few days with us and we definitely are grateful to have her in our lives. We love you, Debbie! PLEASE come see us again!






Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Whatever..." Wednesday

Finally brothers,



Whatever is true

Whatever is noble
Whatever is right
Whatever is pure



Whatever is lovely


Whatever is admirable



If anything is excellent or praiseworthy





Think about these things
Philippians 4:8
Happy Veterans Day!



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Whatever..." Wednesday

It's Wednesday again! Time to think about the "Whatevers" in my life. (Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8)

I have to be honest and say that I really don't feel like doing a Whatever Wednesday today. I have been having a rough couple of days. I have those times when life seems to overwhelm me. Not that I have anything overwhelming happening right now. It actually is pretty calm. The problem is when I start to think about the past sixteen years or so and all that has happened. I get filled with confusion and sadness and fear. The fear paralyzes me. I can't look forward without absolute fear of what is going to happen next and I just know that I cannot take one more thing. I can't do it. I will shut down. Whatever hope and life that is left in me will die if I have to face one more change, one more challenge, one more crisis. That is how I am feeling today.

I am so glad that feelings can change. I am glad I have those times when I look at the past and the future with this attitude. Because if I had to live with the feelings I had last night I couldn't do it. Living with fear, panic, anxiety, and no purpose isn't living at all.

So, I guess this is no time to skip my Whatever Wednesday. This is the time I need it most. So, here goes nothing... or everything.

I'll start with some verses I found last night when I was feeling at my worst and they brought me some peace.

Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. Luke 1:78,79

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Psalm 91:4,5

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

And, though I often feel dazed and confused when I think about the past, I need only look at these faces and feel overwhelming gratitude. I don't deserve them but I thank God He blessed me with them. They make it all worth it.


I don't know if my Whatever Wednesdays make any difference to anyone else out there but today it made all the difference to me. Thank you for listening.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Merry Christmas

I know, I know . It is just the beginning of November. Some people aren't ready to think about Christmas yet. If you are one of those people you might want to stay away from our house now. We are so ready for Christmas! We absolutely love the Christmas season and we started listening to our Christmas music today.

There is a certain song, though, that has such a special meaning to me that I wanted to share it with you all. It is a song by Third Day called "Merry Christmas". I first heard this song the Christmas that we were in the midst of the adoption process and it brought tears to my eyes every single time it came on. It is the story of a family waiting to adopt a little one from China and it talks about Christmas without her. Of course, it made me think of our little one. We didn't know who she was yet but we knew she was out there. Without a family. It broke my heart to think about it. In the end of the song it talks about her being with them for the next Christmas and it always brought me hope that it would happen and we would have many Christmases together as a family.

As you know, it did happen. Actually, it turned out that Anna Grace did have her first Christmas with us and we look forward to many, many more. It is so strange to listen to that song this year and look down and see that little face. It has really made me remember those aweful months of waiting. I get frustrated with her sometimes because, you know, she's a toddler and can be rather frustrating. Today, though, I felt the need to just enjoy her and appreciate the gift that she is to us. It is so amazing to think about the miracle of adoption.

Listening to that song now makes me so thankful and grateful for Anna Grace but it also makes me so very sad to think of all of the children out there who have no family. Not just at Christmas but every single day. If I had the money I would just keep filling out that paperwork and bringing them home. But, for now, I just look at that sweet little face and thank God for her every single day. And I will do everything I can to make her Christmas magical every single year.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall is fading...

Fast!



So...




We are trying to make the most of it...






before




it








is







gone









for









good!










Well,











at














least













until









next







year!







I hope







you are







doing the same!







Happy Fall!








Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Whatever..." Wednesday

Wow! Wednesdays seem to come around fast! It is already time to do another "Whatever Wednesday" post! So, for those of you who may not know what I am talking about, I have chosen to take some time on Wednesdays to focus on the many blessings I have in my life. I am following the advice of a verse found in Philippians 4:8, " Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.".

It isn't very hard to think of good things as I sit in my warm house on a cold, wet day drinking a hot french vanilla cappuccino. I can think of many small, ordinary things that happened this week that were good and true, and lovely even. Today, though, I want to focus on something that is excellent and praiseworthy! How often do those types of things happen to us? Not enough - so when a miracle shows up it is only right to sit back and fully appreciate the God who made it happen.

I had the honor to spend some time with Michael's mom today. Michael and his parents started to attend our church very shortly after we moved here. They had been to our church just twice when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Michael is just two years old. They were told, at first, that the brain tumor was benign and we were all so excited and relieved. After two months he started to display some more symptoms and more tests were done. It was not good news this time. The tumor was aggressive and malignant. His parents were told that the tumor was inoperable and resistant to chemotherapy. He was given a 10% chance to survive. They were told that he may not make it to the second round of chemo. It did not look good.



Michael has undergone two rounds of chemo now and just went in for an MRI yesterday. His parents are to go in tomorrow for a report on the tumor and he will start his third round of chemo. Stephanie and I met for lunch today and as we were waiting for our table her phone rang. It was one of those moments when time seemed to stand still as I watched her scream "NO!" into the phone and crumple into tears. I stood there thinking the worst and trying to figure out what I should do when she turned to smile and say, "The tumor is shrinking!"! We stood in the lobby of Eat-n-Park and hugged and cried as people stopped to stare and some even cried along with us. It was an excellent and praiseworthy moment! And Stephanie did praise God. Right there in front of everyone with no shame.



We did go into the restaurant and eat then. We sat and talked about life. We laughed. We shared our fears and our mistakes. We shared our stories. We shared ourselves. I was able to tell her how proud I am of how she is handling this crisis and how I can see her growing through it all. I look at her and I see myself. I was just two years older than her when our Emma was born and I was faced with loss head on. I realize how young I was. How young she is. So much for a young person to handle and she is doing it with grace and beauty. We sat and listened to each other. A difference in age, maybe, but equals. Friends.



As we sat there, I experienced another one of those miraculous moments that only come every so often. One of those moments to savor. I had a moment when I knew, without one doubt, that I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing exactly what I am supposed to do. So many times I question myself, my decisions, my purpose. But, in that moment, I felt clarity. I saw the big picture.



Like the pieces of a puzzle, the pieces of my life were coming together to form a picture! A God-given, excellent, and praiseworthy picture!




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Have you hugged your pastor (and his wife) today?

This month is officially Pastor Appreciation month which was started by Focus on the Family. It is a time set apart when we are supposed to honor our pastors and let them know that we appreciate all they do throughout the year. I think it is a great concept and I can tell you as the wife of a pastor that it is well deserved. No matter if you agree with everything your pastor says or does I am pretty sure that he is working hard doing the things that need to be done to keep your church moving in some sort of direction. There are so many things that he does that you are probably totally unaware of and will never know. You may personally disagree with some things that are being done in your church or the way they are being done but I am pretty sure that he is not taking those decisions lightly. If he is at all like the pastor I am married to he is praying, agonizing, searching, and seeking to listen to God's voice as he leads you. He is trying to let go of his agenda and follow God and he is, above all, praying that you will follow. It is a job that doesn't allow you to relax or leave at the office. There are always people who need your help, your prayers, your counsel. It is truly all consuming. So please take some time this month to tell your pastor that you care. Give him some slack, some benefit of the doubt that he is a good guy who wants the best for you and your whole church.

That actually isn't what I wanted to write about today. I started this post thinking about several friends, former pastors, acquaintances that I have heard about lately. They all have two things in common, they are pastors and they are getting divorced or have already. It just seems like it is happening so much more often and to people you would never expect. People I grew up looking up to or people my age who seemed to have it all together. On the outside it appeared that they had this ministry thing all figured out. The divorce rate for pastors is now the same as the general population, over 50%. This epidemic doesn't seem to favor any type of pastor. They come from all different types and sizes of churches. I have been thinking about it alot. Why is this happening?

One recurring theme I am hearing is that it isn't necessarily infidelity or some major crisis that causes the marriage to fall apart. It is stress that builds over time and is never dealt with in the right way. In many of the situations I have heard of recently it is the wife who just decides she can't do it anymore. She is tired of the whole thing and just decides that she wants out. Several of the situations I am thinking of are ones where the children have grown and are on their own and the wife just decides it is time to leave. Before you start throwing your stones at these women, take a moment and listen to one share her heart. Listen to me as I let you know my side of the story.

No, I haven't left my husband and I'm not planning on it. I would be lying, though, if I told you I never thought about it. I would be lying if I told you I never fantasized about a life with a husband who went to work, did his job, and came home ready to just be with his family. A husband who has the weekends off and no meetings or hospital visits in the evenings. A husband who doesn't receive those phone calls right in the middle of a family event. I'm not talking about true emergencies or needs, but the ones where someone wants to be heard loud and clear. A husband whose job doesn't require his wife to be a silent partner. Just smile and do what we want from you but, by all means, don't have an opinion or feelings.

I'm not trying to whine and complain about being a pastor's wife. I love our church and appreciate the people. I try my best to see the good in everyone and to believe they want the best for my family. After fifteen years of being married to a pastor I am still trying to figure it out. Trying to be myself and use my gifts, not because I am the pastor's wife, but because I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Trying to seek God's best for me and my family without allowing the expectations of others to cloud my vision. It is a hard journey. And sometimes I am just tired and I want to quit. I don't want to try anymore. I look at all of the odds that are against us and I feel overwhelmed. Having a special needs child and facing the loss of a child put us in a category of people who face a divorce rate of 90%. It is a tough battle with that alone.

I can hear what you are thinking. I have heard it so many times when I pour my heart out to someone. They say with all sincerity and good intentions, "You knew Dean was going to be a pastor when you married him. You chose to be a pastor's wife." And to that I say; Yes, I knew Dean was going to be a pastor when I married him but did I know what that meant? Was I called to be a pastor? No, not at all! Was I called to love my husband and serve God? Yes, and that is what I try to do everyday. I love my husband. I will love him no matter what occupation he has now or in the future. I serve God, not because I am married to a pastor, but because I am His servant.

So, I say all of that to say this, Have you let your pastor and his wife know that you are praying for them, loving them, pulling for them? They are pulling for you and they need your support. They are fighting against the odds and many are losing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Whatever..." Wednesday

Well, I have not been good about doing my "Whatever... Wednesdays" every week but I am not going to give up! In case you do not know what I am talking about here is what a "Whatever...Wednesday" is...




I am trying to take some time on Wednesdays to focus on all of the good things going on in my life. I got the idea from the verse found in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." In our world today we need all of the whatevers we can find!! So here are a few of mine: (with a few random pictures thrown in)



I am so very grateful for a wonderful church family who honored us for Pastor Appreciation Month with so many cards and gifts! We will be enjoying many meals out as well as some Meadows custard and Sheetz coffee for many months to come!






I was so amazed at the thoughtfulness God showed when He sat me beside just the right person at MOPS last week. As we talked we found that we have both experienced the loss of a child as well as international adoption. I am looking forward to getting to know her better!




I am beyond thankful that Anna is sleeping better though we still have far to go IMO!!





Wow!! The fall colors are amazing this year! I have been looking forward to this for so long and it has been prettier than any of my memories!






I am relieved and thankful that a health scare Dean had turned out to be okay.





Allie has been working so hard at school and she has straight A's right now so we are so very proud of her!






God has blessed me with many friends, new and old, who I can laugh with, cry with, and just be me with and I have been reminded this week that this is a gift I should appreciate and treat with care. So, you know who you are ,friends, and I love and appreciate each of you. You are definitely "Whatevers" to me!!





Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall is in the Air!! Campfire smoke in my Hair!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." - George Eliot




"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."- Elizabeth Lawrence






"Once more the liberal year laughs out O'er richer stores than gems or gold: Once more with harvest song and shout Is nature's boldest triumph told."- John Greenleaf Whittier






"Leaf falling on leaf,on mounds of leaves, rain splashing in pools of rain ..."- Gyodai








"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."- Eric Sloane










"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."- Stanley Horowitz





"A solitary maple on a woodside flames in single scarlet, recalls nothing so much as the daughter of a noble house dressed for a fancy ball, with the whole family gathered around to admire her before she goes."- Henry James





"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."- Albert Camus















"The winds will blow their own freshness into you,and the storms their energy,while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."- John Muir






"Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change."- Edwin Teale







"I am rich today with autumn's gold, All that my covetous hands can hold; Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod, A goldfinch on a milkweed pod, Huge golden pumpkins in the field With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield, Golden apples heavy on the trees Rivaling those of Hesperides, Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread Over all like butter on warm bread; And the harvest moon will this night unfold The streams running full of molten gold. Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss With autumn glory such as this!"- Gladys Harp