Friday, March 29, 2013

To Hell and back

Every Easter season something different stands out to me more than other years.  Kinda like a theme.

This year I keep going back to the fact that Christ experienced Hell.  I think it started when we were discussing it at dinner devotions one night and one of the residents was surprised to hear that Jesus went to Hell.

As I sat there and listened to Paul explain the scripture that supports it, I was reminded of this, yet another facet of the huge sacrifice Christ did for us.

When I think of Jesus' sacrifice I think about him suffering and being crucified.  That in itself is horrible enough.

But when I think that Jesus went to Hell because He took on our sins and became forsaken by God.

That just deepens my gratitude for what He has done.  This piddly little post just doesn't do it justice because






All we deserve is Hell because we are all sinners and none of us is righteous. 
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 

The wages of sin is death (Hell) Romans 6:23

To think that Jesus went through all that so that I never would.

At the beginning of the crucifixion ordeal, Jesus addresses God as 'Father'
Father forgive them for they know not what they do

But just a few hours later the separation of that intimate relationship can be seen when Jesus cries,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus experienced the wretchedness of hopelessness.  Of feeling God turning His back on His only Son, a part of the Holy Trinity, so that I never would.

I'm not sure who said it first, because I have heard it and read it in a few different places but:

For believers, this world is the closest thing to hell that we will ever experience.

Wow, that thought alone can stop me for a moment and make me think.  You do not have to experience Hell because Jesus did it for you.

Thank you, Jesus, for your indescribable sacrifice.  You literally went to Hell and back for me.  I don't deserve it, but I am so very grateful that you did.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Teach them their worth

We have this thing at our house that we go through with Hannah and Maddie whenever they come to us, asking if we think they are pretty, or if we like their outfit, or anything along those lines:

"Mommy, do you like my dress?  Does it make me look pretty?"

"Oooh, it's very pretty.  It's looks so nice on you.  But what is more important:  pretty on the outside, or pretty on the inside?"

"Pretty on the inside!" (we've done this a few times with them)

"That's right!  And who makes us pretty on the inside?"

It warms my heart when they answer with such enthusiasm.  It doesn't diminish their thrill with their twirly dress or their bouncy pigtails, but they can flounce away knowing they have a Savior that can make them pretty throughout even with their dress looks less than spectacular, or their hair hangs limp.

I know they are only 3 and (almost)5 but I want to keep feeding our girls this truth, and keep sheltering them from the lies for as long as possible.  So that when they are exposed to the lies of this world, they will see them for what they are.  Deceitful lies of Satan.

You don't have to look far to find examples.  Media is plastered with it, our schools are crawling with it, even us born-again believers can fall victim to the thought that what we look like on the outside is what counts.

The teenage girls that live with us have been fed this baloney from little on up.  Some of it has been twisted to the point of perversion.  And we see the sad consequences walk through our doors.  Girls who are 12 and 13 dressing to please the lustful eye, attract that male attention.  Shopping in stores that would have made me blush just to walk past at their age.  It makes me cry and my heart feel heavy to think of the innocence lost at such an early age.

It makes me want to step up all the more.  Be that role model to show them that there is more to life than getting that next guy, finding some boy to complete you.  Trying to be "loved" in all the wrong ways because that is really the only kind of "love" that you have been shown.

I think it is important to raise our daughters up with the Truth.  But I believe our call goes beyond that.

There are young girls all around us that need to hear this message.  They could be your daughter's friend or the next door neighbor girl whose mom is her grandma and her biological mom is who-knows-where. 

Who is it that you could be reaching out to, mentoring, teaching the Truth to?

And truthfully, it goes across the aisle as well.

If our boys aren't taught to treat girls the way that Jesus loved girls, then this is all lop-sided and bound to fall apart.

Because alongside these teenage girls who think that only thing they are good for is sex, there are boys who think that the only thing girls are good for doing their laundry and dishes - no lie, this is what one of our 13 year old boys told us recently.

We see the sad truth in all 6 of our teenagers that are currently living with us: all 6 of them come from a home where their 'mom' is not their mom at all.  It's either their grandma, sister, aunt, or foster mom.  Not a single one of them comes from a home where a dad is present.  All of these children have missed out on the opportunity to see how a man should treat a woman, value a woman.  And see how a woman can thrive and find peace in knowing they are loved for who they are, not just by a husband, but by a loving Savior.

I guess that is where Paul and I come in.  Some kids have commented that we are the first married couple they have ever lived with, or seen live together.  They often ask us if we ever fight, and if we ever yell or throw things when we are angry.

Because, well, that is all they know.

People, we are called to be lights.  And sometimes it is as simple as speaking kind words to your spouse, dressing modestly, showing respect to your husband in front of others.  And telling our sons and daughters what Jesus values, and how that is so much more important than anything this world can offer.

C'mon now.  We can do that, right?

Below are the two articles that I have read recently that have sparked this post in me.  A shout out to the girls and a followup to the boys as well.  Excellent reads, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read them both.

Raising Daughters in a World That Devalues Them: 7 Things We Must Tell Them

After Steubenville: 25 Things Our Sons need to know about Manhood



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A chance to help (again) and a giveaway!

Lifesong for Orphans, the organization that I mentioned in my last post, does this awesome thing where they help fund families adoptions.  They offer adoption grants and loans so that orphans can have a forever home. 

How cool is that?

Jarod and Molly, friends of ours from church (and former co-workers of ours here at Gateway!) are working to adopt a child from Columbia.


Molly's sister has a bit more about it on her blog, plus a giveaway!

They are looking for people willing to help them on their adoption journey.  Click here to see how you can help, and enter her awesome giveaway as well.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing...Psalm 68:6

Friday, March 15, 2013

Who's with me?

I mentioned a few posts ago about my personality type

Along with that personality comes the difficulty with making friends.

Well, back up.  I think I can make friends OK.  It's just getting those really close friendships that I find hard.

I've had just a couple people in my life that I have felt that I could completely be myself around.  I feel awkward 95% of the time, but with those few people I have felt like I can just be me and can even let my guard down, and still be liked at the end of it all.

One of those such friendships has developed over the past 8+ years with a dear friend from church.  Our personalities have their differences.

She is SO laid back.

I'm, well, pretty up tight.  Anxious.  You know.

She's seen my ugly side, heard some of my confessions, and she is still willing to hang out with me. (thank you)

Even since I've known her, I've known she and her husband have had a heart for the fatherless and for missions.  (They were houseparents at Gateway a few years back).  So I guess I knew that this was coming down the pipes at some point.

But my little world was still a little rocked when I found out her, her husband, and their 4 kiddos were headed to Zambia for full-time missions.

And rocked a bit more when I found out they were going to be headed out in less than a year.

I cried.

I admit.  They were selfish tears.  Why would God give me this friendship when He knew they would be moving away.  Didn't he know how hard it is for me to make friends?!?

But, as the index card on my bulletin board says "If there is one lie I have ever contended with, it's this, "Life is a story about me." (thank you, Donald Miller)

Thankfully my self-pity was short lived because I know this isn't about me.  It's about Him.  Perhaps He gave us this friendship because He knew that she could need a close friend to be praying for her and her family as they head overseas.

Now they are in the throes of purging their material possessions, getting things ready to go, raising support.

Pretty heavy tasks.

Will you join with me in praying for Eric and Carrie and their kids as they prepare to head to Zambia?  Will you prayerfully considering supporting them, whether it's ongoing or a one time gift?

You can find out more about the area and the school that they are going to be helping with here.

You can read some more of their personal accounts on Carrie's blog.

Also, I am so excited to be a part of the Blogger Team for Lifesong for Orphans.  Monthly I will post a story coming from one of the many places that Lifesong is reaching with their missions.  Here is one posted yesterday, about a young boy that is living in Zambia, right where Eric and Carrie are headed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

just calm down and listen to me

Here at Gateway we have to do monthly fire drills.

Kinda like you remember doing in school.

The alarm is pulled when everyone least expects it.  Everyone files out to the 'safety zone.'  Heads are counted.  Alarm is reset.

Bada-boom.  Bada-bing.  You're done.

Well, our kids kinda freak out because this alarm is REALLY loud.  The type of loud that causes the sound to echo in your ears for minutes after the alarm is shut off.  Which I really am glad for.  I want it to wake us all up if it's needed.

So, in an attempt to keep our children from freaking out, I take them back to our apartment, have them stand right outside where they can clearly hear the alarm, but not be smack dab in the middle of it, and when the alarm sounds, ask them what we should do and go through the procedure.

Usually this works out great.  In fact, we were off duty once when the alarm went off and all three of our kids raced out the door.  So I guess they sort of have it figured out.

Well, we must have caught Hannah on a bad day.  I did the usual bringing of them back to the apartment, explaining we were going to have a drill-

Begin Hannah Meltdown.

I am not sure what all was being said by her, but I do know this child was seriously scared and worried.  I tried my best to explain through the tears and screams that we were just going outside but she was not having any of it.

She for sure thought I was leaving her.  She thought for sure there was a fire.  She didn't want to lose her blanket.

Meanwhile Owen and Maddie calmly headed out the door.

It was so ridiculous if I was watching it on replay I would probably laugh.  Mean mom? Perhaps.

But as I was thinking back on it I saw a kind of parallel.

How often do I freak out over something that really doesn't warrant a freak out?

How often is God looking at me as I wring my hands and cry and worry and think "just calm down and listen to me"?

If you know a bit about me, you will know that I am a worrier.  The type that worried about the ozone long before it was cool to do so (like 2nd grade, circa 1990)  The type that had to take Rolaids as a 3rd grader because of ulcers I was giving myself.

And, as I would like to think that I have gotten better since I have become a Christian some 15 years ago, I would say this is still one of my biggest struggles.

I freak out over the little things.  I want to have control over it all and when I don't. 




Instead I need to look to God's word -  
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 
2 Timothy 1:7.

A sound mind.  That sounds relaxing.  Stress-free.

Sounds like a life that rests in God's promises.

A life that trusts.

Trusts that HE has is all under HIS control.

A life that can let go of the things that I can do nothing about and TRUST.

Sigh... Yeah, that's what I want.

It is so much better than the freak-out.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February Lookback

February felt like the month of paperwork - filing taxes, registering kids for school for next year, finding a new insurance carrier as ours decided to drop us (hrmph...) amongst other various papers that needed filled out and filed and mailed.

Secretly, I enjoy that stuff, but I can allow it to stress me out knowing there are timelines attached.

Thankfully, we had some good, non-paper work times between all the paper flying around.


Traveling to see my grandparents (it did my heart a world of good.)

3 generational engine building

And a first haircut.

Thank you, February.  I enjoyed all of it.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Madeline (and her precious Baby Pink Heart)!

 Most of these decorating credits go to the 4 year old...
 Kids loved Grandma Jane (of course!) and did a few Highlight magazines with her
 LOVE this man
 Heavy reading (I think the title was Aeronautical Engineering)
 It was just a trim but it still felt big to me!

A Christmas gift from Grandpa - a model of an internal combustion engine (all assembly required)