Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

We had a GREAT worship service and fellowship meal this past Sunday. Monte preached on Psalm 100 - taking a short break from the book of John. One of the points of application in his sermon was that if we have a thankful heart, then we will voice that thanks. He shared a couple of things that he was thankful, and then invited the congregation to participate. Anyone that knows our church, knows that we are not quick to volunteer for anything - especially sharing in public speech. But this particular Lord's Day was amazing. People began popping up all around the room to share in giving thanks to our Great God! What a blessing that it was to hear our church family giving thanks!

I am so thankful for a husband that loves the Lord and loves me. We share in God's heart for adoption and so much more - for the unity God has created in us I am very thankful. I anxiously await the day that we can share in giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for bringing Abigail home to us. We have already been blessed beyond measure...with the love Jesus showed in His life, death, and resurrection. How grateful I am that He never gives up on me, He continues to teach me and offer me new beginnings! Can't wait to share all of these things with the children God gives us.

Thanksgiving is Here! We both LOVE Thanksgiving. We can't wait to see our family in Arkansas - and of course, to eat lots of yummy food! I'm also looking forward to listening to the above Thanksgiving book on our road trip...check it out...it's a great way to remember and celebrate this wonderful holiday. Don't forget to voice what you are thankful for...make that grateful heart of your's known and give praise to the Giver of all good gifts. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FIC Conference

A few weeks ago (Oct 10-12) Missy and I went to a Family Integrated Church (FIC) conference that was put on by Voddie Baucham's church in Spring, TX (near Houston). The FIC model rejects age segregated programming, arguing that these programs undermine the family and encourage parents to let the "professionals" teach their children about the faith, when the Bible clearly instructs parents to do this.

I left with conflicted emotions. Missy and I spent more than four years @ FBCWS working in youth ministry, and four years later there is very little fruit to show for all our efforts. And now we know some of why that is so. It wasn't our job! It was the parents' job. It wasn't God's plan. It was our plan. Now we're trying to use God's plan. It's so weird, because it isn't primarily just a different way of doing things. It is a different way of thinking. And that takes time.

The road that led us to attending an FIC conference was us attempting to get ourselves ready to raise Abigail. I just think, if God has used her to change us so much even before she has gotten here, what does he have in store for us as we seek to raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? I'm so looking forward to this challenge. But it does make me much afraid.

Do You Hear the Cry of the Orphan?

We didn't realize until last year that we Americans have a National Adoption Awareness Month, and maybe you didn't either. It just so happens that November is that month. In conjunction with that, many Christian organizations have joined hands to promote awareness of the plight of the orphan around the world. FamilyLife, Focus on the Family, and Crown Financial are each providing airtime on their daily programs to inform and educate us about the orphan. So, go take a listen - I'm sure that you'll benefit just as I have.

Currently the statistics show that there are 130 million children that are orphans on our planet Earth. Whether God is calling you to adopt or not, He is calling each of us to do something. The church cannot neglect this responsibility any longer. American Christians very well may be the wealthiest (in more ways than one) Christians ever. I recently heard another statistic that grieved my heart - the Christian population in America on average gives away only 4% of their income - whether that is to a church, charity, etc. Now I am NOT saying that we can just "throw" money at the plight of the orphans and produce a solution. What I am saying is that Almighty God - Commander in Chief of all creation (including us) - has commanded us to go and do...be His hands and feet. If our giving is a reflection of where our hearts are, then the worldwide plight of the orphan is probably not even on our radar. Our Great Heavenly Father has shown us compassion, and He requires us to do the same - whether it be with our time, service, resources, money, etc. He "demands my soul, my life, my all."
What is your part in that? Here are just few possibilities:
  1. Take a trip - go visit the orphan - help improve their resources.
  2. Well, maybe you are physically unable to go yourself - but you could help send someone else.
  3. You could sponsor an orphan not only with money, but with prayers, letters, and gifts.
  4. Ask God if adoption could be part of His plan for you.
  5. Help someone else adopt.
  6. Be a voice for the orphan...educate others.

Adoption is really just a small part of the solution. Most likely, though, there are more people that should be answering God's call to adopt that aren't. Above all else, the church could collectively drop to our knees and petition the Lord on their behalf - let Him reshape our hearts and transform our minds. He has given us instructions, why are we so hesitant to follow?

Please visit http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/ Learn more, PRAY, and take action.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

8 Things...

So, Jill shared this tag and I liked it - so here goes(by the way, these are Missy's choices, although Monte does share in many of them!) :

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:
1. Lost (Looking forward to it's return and getting some answers...would love to have a watch party for the season opener)
2. Psych (the 80s and 90s references are great fun)
3. Burn Notice
4. Jon & Kate Plus 8
5. 17 Kids and Counting
6. Heroes
7. America's Test Kitchen (all-time fave cooking show)
8. PTI (had trouble thinking of 8, so I let Monte pick one all his own - definitely all his own)

8 Favorite Restuarants:
1. Panera Bread
2. Yen Jing (the BEST Chinese ever - and it's local)
3. Pappadeaux's
4. Macaroni Grill
5. TaMolly's
6. Carraba's
7. Carino's
8. UNO's

8 Things That Happened Today:
1. Made some homemade blueberry buttermilk pancakes for breakfast
2. Went to visit some MIA church members
3. Went on a lunch date to the Dairy Queen
4. Went shopping for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes
5. Picked up some last minutes groceries
6. Watched Facing the Giants with our church
7. Completed most of the cooking for tomorrow
8. Sadly, I left the kitchen a mess!

8 Things I Look Forward To:
1. The Lord's Day...getting to worship together tomorrow!
2. Tomorrow's fellowship meal - we've started having lunch every week
3. Whatever Monte will teach and preach next
4. Discipleship with my"lil sisters"-fellow daughters of the King
5. Going to Costco this week
6. Thanksgiving
7. Finishing When Joy Came to Stay by Karen Kingsbury
8. Christmas

8 Things On My Wish List(it just so happens that I keep a running list on our computer...sorry if that's a little weird):
1. Digital Piano - I want to start taking lessons again and this would definitely be helpful - can't wait until I have enough saved up for it!
2. "God's Design for Women" - a message series from Alistair Begg
3. To Kill a Mockingbird on dvd
4. A Potato Bin - we desperately need one!
5. Eat It - it's a board game I found on a toy store website last year...it looked fun!
6. Some of those pie crust cutters like Jill has...they look Awesome!
7. Pajamas...for some reason I always love a new set of pjs!
8. The Ever Loving Truth by Voddie Baucham

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The Necessity of Persistence"

This book has some great encouragement on so many levels. We found it in the clearance section at a Mardel, and we were immediately drawn to the title. For us, we desperately long for the little girl we know as Abigail. We eagerly wait to see her and however many more children God wants entrust to us - whether He gives them through adoption or birth. With that said, one particular day - back in September I believe - I(Missy) was especially discouraged because China was still extremely backlogged. As a matter of fact, things haven't changed much at all. America World received only 3 referrals this past week, and they were all for families that have been waiting since February of 2006. In case you weren't sure what that means - these families have been waiting for almost 3 yrs - which means that our estimated wait time is....you guessed it I'm sure - almost 3 yrs. We have only put in a little over a year now. Oh, how our hearts ache at times! We may not know what it's like to see the visible effects of a child growing in a womb that will one day be a part of our family, but our hearts definitely already know Abigail. She is no less real to us or a part of us than if God had created her through us. So, what do you do in situation that is completely out of your control? The way I see it, there are 2 choices - despair or rest in the hope of the One that holds the hearts of kings in His hand and directs them like a watercourse wherever He pleases.(Proverbs 21:1)
With all that said, back on that discouraging day in September, as our Great Heavenly Daddy would have it, I read this fitting devotional for the day - and here is a piece of it:
And will not God bring about
justice for His chosen ones,
who cry out to Him day and
Will he keep putting them off?
I tell you, He will see that
they get justice, and quickly.
- Luke 18:7-8
"In the tale of 'the persistent widow,' an indifferent, arrogant judge refused to handle
a widow's case. The widow kept coming to his home and begging him to rule on her behalf. The judge finally agreed to grant her request, but only because he grew tired of her consistent pestering. How do you picture God? Do you see God as the indifferent judge who must be worn down by your repeated prayers? Do you feel exhausted and even angry that your any pleas have gone unanswered and wonder if you should keep on asking? Jesus reassures us in this parable that if an evil judge can be swayed by sheer persistence, a loving God surely listens to repeated cries and, at the appropriate time, will move quickly to act...Jesus tells us not to lose heart as we 'cry out to Him day and night' because He is going to act on our behalf...It is His good pleasure to act on your behalf, in His perfect timing."
What a wonderful reminder this was and still is - our God is so much bigger than anything we face. His timing is perfect and His ways are so mysterious to us - and all motivated by His love. Please continue to PRAY with us that many sons and daughters would come home from China and around the world (in case you weren't aware - our enemy has been at work in international adoption - many countries are experiencing long delays and setbacks) before 2008 comes to a close.