We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jealousy and Pride

I'm working through my daily bible study with my friend... it's always good to do a bible study with a friend, because some days you will have good, thought provoking days and the other person won't, and vice versa.  Well, my bible study partner carries the load most of the time, and I'm very thankful every day for her insight.  I've been working harder at trying to get more out of my bible studies and sharing my thoughts with her though... because I think God has different things to share from His Word with both of us, and when we share it with each other, it's like double the blessing.  

So, another friend of mine, (who I'm not doing the bible study with), felt compelled to get me a new bible.  A NIV application bible.  I'm a KJV person - I guess just because that's what I was reading when I became a Christian.... I've always though I should try something different, but never left the KJV because I almost felt like I was "betraying" something or someone by moving to another version.  Well, I'm LOVING my NIV bible and the application part is really helpful in getting you to think deeper about what you have read.  I still have my KJV and will probably always use it, side by side, with my NIV.  

Anyway, my friend and I had gotten through the three "little Johns" and she asked me where I would like to go next... well, since it's that time of the year, I decided, we should stick with the new testament and cover the Christmas story.  We decided on Luke.  So, we are in Luke 1 right now.  We break it up into small segments - share our thoughts each morning and continue this throughout the week.

The past couple of days we have been reading about Mary and Elizabeth... Elizabeth expecting a child after being barren for so many years, and beyond normal child bearing age.  How the angel Gabriel came to her husband and told him she would bear a child.  And Mary - unwed, virgin mother.  Two unlikely candidates to be expecting....

 Do you realize how much more you can get out of the Christmas story, than the magnificent story that it is in and of itself???  There is so much more to be told.  Today, I learned about Jealousy and Pride.

Jealousy -  Look at the situation from the standpoint of Elizabeth.... Elizabeth was expecting a child, and was further along than Mary.  The Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary would be carrying the Messiah, the Son of God... and not only that, but people would called her Blessed!  Then, Mary saunters into Elizabeth's house (ok, Mary probably didn't "saunter", but I'm telling the story how I might have seen it from Elizabeth's perspective).  Elizabeth's baby (which turns out to be a son), jumps for joy in her womb at the presence of Mary and the Son of God....  So, you are Elizabeth... FINALLY expecting a child - a son nonetheless, and in walks Mary.  You are upstaged by Mary.  Oh how wonderful Mary is with her "special" child... the Son of God.... Mary... how Blessed she is.  If you were Elizabeth, you might think "What makes her kid so much more special than mine - I mean, mine's a miracle too, right?"  "God sent an ANGEL down to tell my hubby about my baby".  "And then along comes Mary - stealing my thunder".  Elizabeth COULD have though that - but Elizabeth was much smarter!

Instead Elizabeth responded with Joy - rather than Jealousy at what God had done in Mary's life.. responded with elation about the baby that was to be the Messiah - the baby that IS the Messiah, the Son of God.  She called Mary blessed - because Mary was blessed.  The fact that Mary was blessed did not take away from the wonderful news of the upcoming birth of Elizabeth's child.  Elizabeth was smart enough to know this.  Elizabeth did not display jealousy at the circumstances in Mary's life - that may seemingly overshadow hers - she was simply happy for what God was doing in Mary's life.  How God was using Mary for such a wonderful purpose.  When I look upon the circumstances that God has purposed in my life, I need to respond more like an "Elizabeth".  The plan for my life is the one God gave me for MY life... it's different than the plan He has for someone else's life and it's important for me to understand that, accept that, and yes, even celebrate that.  I need to find Joy in what God is doing in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ - rather than being Jealous about what God is doing in their life.  

Pride - Mary said "People will call me blessed".  Was she being prideful?  Was she taking the glory of what God was doing in her life and turning it onto herself?  No.  She was not being prideful - she was simply accepting what God was doing in her life.  She was excited and sharing what God was doing, with others.  When God works in your life, and blesses you though, it can easily turn to pride... Mary could have said "I must be special".  "I must be so much better than you, because LOOK at how God is using me".  "God must have HUGE plans for me".  When God gives us a blessing, we can accept it, or turn it into something about ourselves, which then becomes pride.  

I am at a place in my life right now, where God has blessed me. It's not because I'm special, or more worthy than others... it's simply because it's what God had planned for my life.  My blessings come with heartache to me - as I'm sure Mary's did.  Look at the HUGE blessing Mary had - but she could have turned it away because of all of the negative that came with it - the ridicule, the criticizing looks (for those who didn't believe she was carrying the Messiah, she was just a pregnant, unwed mother).  I'm sure it was a hardship on her whole family... her husband-to-be included.

I've seen God work some things out for me as of late, that in my opinion are really only a God thing... God has taken care of things that I could not have taken care of on my own - and through the process, is working some things out in me.  To better me, to make my walk with Him closer.  It's not because I'm "special" that God has blessed me, it's because I'm HIS.  My blessings do come with some heartache - but when I stop and think about it, I would have had the heartache with or without the blessings.  Some things we just have to work our way through.... but I am VERY thankful that I'm able to work through those things with the blessings God has provided during this time of my life.  I think with accepting the blessings God has provided, there comes a responsibility.  A responsibility to be thankful to the one who provided them for me - remembering to give thanks.  Also, to share those blessings with others.... maybe not the exact blessings that God has provided, but share the story with others and to somehow make a difference in the lives of others, maybe as a result of the blessings I've been given.  

I guess it's appropriate that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I have so very much to be thankful for.  Maybe I will share that in tomorrow's post though....

On another note - the Christmas decorations made their debut yesterday... have to finish that up today and get the house in order for family coming over tomorrow for Thanksgiving.  Then Friday a friend and I have decided to venture out for some Black Friday shopping!!!  I'm actually looking forward to it.  Normally I would stay away from the stores at this time, but I have nothing particular that I HAVE to get, and neither really does she.  We just get some nice time together and if it gets too crowded - we'll leave and go get a cup of coffee or lunch together!  I'm just happy to be spending time with a great friend....and maybe find some bargains along the way :)

In Christ,

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Hospitality....it's something that we really don't think much about anymore.  I mean, what really is hospitality?  I have my family over to my home and I really enjoy having them over.  I prepare the house, make a special dinner, make sure the kids' rooms are clean, bathrooms freshly cleaned, floors cleaned and things like that.... but that really has nothing to do with hospitality.

I do a "virtual" bible study with a friend of mine.  We read the same verses, and then share via e-mail our thoughts on the verses that we have read.  Today was 3 John - all of it.  It's not that long...

So, as I was reading today, one of the things I got out of the reading was "hospitality".... it's something we all need to be aware of.  Hospitality isn't planned.  It's not the Thanksgiving dinner that you host at your home - although that is a form of hospitality, it's more "hosting"... hospitality is different.... it's spontaneous and unexpected.  It's opening the doors to your  home when your floors are not polished, your bathrooms are not perfectly cleaned, the toys are not picked up and the kids' beds aren't made.  There may be dishes in the sink and the garbage maybe needs to be taken out..... but you open your door anyway.  You don't have a dinner bought and made, ready to serve your guests... instead you look in the fridge, see what you can offer them to drink, if anything.  Then you pull things together out of the cupboards / freezer and offer something that resembles a dinner.  You don't use your fancy china, because it's not dusted off.  You don't have the nice silverware or serving dishes because those are stored away... instead you offer the everyday existence of your home.

The thing about hospitality is it's WELCOMING these impromptu visits and making the person feel like they are genuinely welcome in your home at ANY time - planned or unplanned - and that they are not an inconvenience. It's not about stressing over their presence, worry about not putting on a good show... hospitality is not about a "show".  Hospitality is about a warm welcome.  It's about making someone feel like they are not an inconvenience.  It's about opening the door without having a formal invitation.  It's more about the other person than it is about you and your home.  

So what if the floors are not at their best?  So there are a few crumbs on the table or the floor, and there's a basket of laundry on the couch.... Hospitality is the relationship that is established between  you and the person who stopped by unexpectedly.  Hospitality is BEING READY for the unexpected, by not fretting over when the unexpected shows up at your door step! Hospitality CAN mean a planned event, but without welcoming the spontaneous, impromptu visitor, the planned event is just that - a planned event.

I'm not a spontaneous person... but I've somehow surrounded myself with friends who are VERY spontaneous.  Maybe it's a God-thing... in fact, I'm SURE it's a God thing... God challenging me to live outside of my comfort zone, to welcome the unplanned, let go of my habitual planning, throw caution to the wind, and just ENJOY my friends.   God doesn't care if I'm "always prepared"... He wants me to be prepared for what He needs me to do.... and what He needs me to do, may just be to move the laundry basket to the bedroom, push the toys onto the floor, and offer my impromptu visitor a place on the couch for a chat and a warm welcome.

So, if you read 3 John and DON'T get that out of the verses... that's fine.  God has something special to tell all of us.  Today, that is what He had to tell me... maybe because it's something I've been struggling with.  I've read it many times and get different things out of it every time.  I've always felt that I was an hospitable person.... I learned today that it was always  more about me though... did I present myself, my house and my family well, did I offer the right food and drink, was it good enough?  Today I learned that the real hospitable person, moves the junk and makes people feel welcome, even if it's not the most convenient time.  I'm going to make a real effort to sharpen my "hospitality skills".  

My friends don't care about my house, my appearance, what I have or what I can offer - my friends care about me.  God cares about the relationship I establish with my friends and family and that I offer them what He has blessed me with.  

Loved my bible study today!

In Christ,

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some Good News...

Had to share some good news that I received today... I was sharing a wonderful day with a friend today.  We were eating donuts, drinking coffee (we were SUPPOSED to walk 7.5 miles before all of this, but it was COLD and RAINING - darn), making baklava, drinking diet cokes (needed after donuts and lattes :) and just having some plain old fun "girl time".  As we were in the middle of one of our bazillion layers of Philyo dough (yes, there were actually that many layers... I counted them all) the phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number and almost didn't pick it up - then I recognized the area code - it was from Michigan, so I grabbed it.  It was the Leader Dog school.

They called to inform me that I am scheduled for a class, and it is February 4th.  I will train from the 4th through the 17th.  I thought - well, it's about the same time that I went when I went to get Pearl, so I should expect cold.... BUT... then she said these words 


Seriously?  I didn't understand.  The school is in Rochester, Michigan.  Well, last year they started a program for students coming from "warm weather" states.  They bring the school to a warm weather state and train us there.  How cool is that?  It's also an accelerated program.  I'll get there on a Saturday and receive my dog that same day!  That's so exciting.  Typically you work with the staff for awhile before getting the dog, and there's always a bit of anxiety / excitement waiting the three days until you get your dog.  

They bring the program to a hotel in West Palm Beach and the training takes place around the West Palm Beach area.  We may have opportunities to go out and do some training on the beach and things like that.  They also do some promotional work while we are there that we will be able to attend.  So, that will be nice - to have an opportunity to get out to some functions with the dogs and help support Leader Dogs for the Blind.  It is such a wonderful organization!  I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in this new program too!  This way, I only have to be away from my family for 13 days!  Much easier than the month I was up in Michigan last time.  I'd do what I needed to do, but it's hard to be gone that long with small children.

So - the date is set and we'll just see how it all unfolds with the dog.  My heart ACHES that I don't have my Pearl, and in the back of my mind I wonder what dog will live up to the standard that Pearl has set in my head.  BUT, I do have to realize that Pearl had her faults too - and every dog will be different.  Remember Pearl, who would not go to the bathroom if there was dew on the grass because she hated water - for goodness sake, she was a RETRIEVER!  She was stubborn as a MULE - but she was MY dog and she worked with me beautifully!

I NEED this!  I'm so thrilled at the thought of having some of my independence back!  Some of my security!  I have to take this new dog for what it is, and learn to love it for what IT can do for me.  My guess is that this one will like the water!  It will have issues as well - kinda like people, we are all different - and it will NEVER replace what Pearl was to me, but I have confidence that the school will give me a dog that will definitely benefit me and be a positive addition to my life!

Looking forward to my time in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Thank you to Leader Dog for this opportunity!  Never expected that news when I picked up the phone today....

In Christ,