Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent...Do YOU live it out?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:32 "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." Many people scoff at those of us with a certainty that the Lord is moving among people and kingdoms preparing the world we know for His imminent return. There are so many headlines as well as buried stories that support this belief, but what if there were not?

Many say that it has been said for generations that the Lord is "coming back in our generation". So why would we believe it now? Every previous generation has been wrong.

What if I am wrong?

What would be the result?

I wonder... did Paul meet Jesus in heaven and say, "Wait a minute! You were supposed to come back BEFORE I died!" Did he think his life wasted that he was "wrong" about the timing?

I think our predisposition to thinking He will not return in our lifetime is the open gateway that we walk through toward a life of lazy Christianity, a sloppy walk, licentiousness. Will my life be wasted if I spend it believing that He could return before I die? Or will my down-to-the-core belief that He could return in my lifetime, or my children's lifetime, change the way I live, the way I act, the way I love and follow Him? Will it give me the courage and the hope to model my life after Jesus the Revolutionary? After Paul the Unapologetic Evangelist?

If those be the results of my belief, then I would die unashamed of being wrong and having lived fully for Him. Before everything I do I want to think "If Jesus returns while I'm doing this will I be ashamed? WHEN He returns will I be ashamed of how I spent my time? money? gifts?"

Thinking like this on a daily basis is hard. I don't live like this. Not all the time. But I want to, and I am praying that the Lord will change my heart in such a way that to live like this every day would be natural. And I trust that He is doing that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent..."His Coming...Our Hope"

As our family has begun celebrating the traditions we practice each year during the season of Advent, really as I began to prepare for these traditions, the Lord reminded me of something I wrote this past summer (which I will post later). He began to show me that Advent for the Believer is a two-fold celebration. The first being the preparation and anticipation of celebrating the 1st Coming of our REDEEMER, Yeshua Ha'Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The second being our on-going preparation and anticipation for His GLORIOUS RETURN and 2nd Coming. Last year as our church studied 2 Thessalonians our teaching pastors used the phrase "His Coming...Our Hope." I think this perfectly shows that Advent has a past and a future!

In my study of the book of Daniel, particularly the 3 weeks we spent in chapter 7, he showed me clearly that Jesus Himself specifically told us that we are to be constantly ready. That He will return as a "thief in the night". In Matthew 24 He says "be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming (v42)" and "you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will (v 44)".

Whatever Advent traditions your family holds, I would challenge you this season to examine your Advent preparation for the day-in-day-out, week-to-week grind of life. Do you let "life get in the way"? Let commitments take over time that should be set aside for family worship and devotions or personal time with your Savior.
I know that I do.
Regularly.
My prayer for this year is that my Advent "season" would continue throughout the entire year. That when the Christmas Advent season comes around next year that the only shift would be in the tools we are using - an Advent Wreath, the Advent Book, and an Advent story in addition to our Bible time; Christmas carols in place of or in addition to other worship songs and hymns. My prayer is that my life would become an on-going anticipation for and celebration of the 2nd Advent of my Savior, and that I would be "prepared for every good work (2 Tim 2:21)" because of it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent...Family Traditions

I'll be honest, our family is relatively new to the Advent traditions part of Christmas, but it has so enriched our lives and celebration of this holy-day that I thought I'd share a little about what Advent is, what we do as a family and some links to places to get Advent "supplies".

First, Advent really just means "coming", but in association with Christmas has come to mean the traditions that we carry out as believers to prepare for the coming of the Messiah which we celebrate at Christmas. There are SO many different things you can do, with your family or by yourself, to prepare with anticipation for Christmas and the 1st coming of Christ, so I will simply share with you what we do in our family.

Each night after dinner we sit down (all in one chair for now since we are only 3, but hopefully we will need a couch for next year (; ) and we begin with our Advent Wreath.

Advent Wreaths come in all shapes and sizes, some are actually greenery, some are metal, some spell out a word, some are a simple circle. What they all have in common is that they hold four taper candles with one pillar candle standing in the middle. You light a new candle each Sunday beginning four Sundays before Christmas and the pillar in the middle, called the Christ Candle, on Christmas day. Ours, which we just got this year, is a Jesse Tree Advent Wreath. The Jesse Tree is a Biblical tracing of the story of the Messiah starting in Genesis. It actually refers to Jesse's, the Father of David, family tree, which is the family tree of Jesus.

This is the Bible reading we do each night. There is Scripture for each night of Advent leading up to Jesus birth. It is wonderful to watch the story of our Redeemer unfold throughout the entire story of Scripture. So we begin with the lighting of the candle, or candles, and read from the Word for that evening.

After our Jesse Tree reading, we read our Advent story book, this year we are using a WONDERFUL book recommended to us by dear friends. It is called "Jotham's Journey". It tells the story of a young Isaelite boy, Jotham, and his travels as he learns about the Messiah who is about to come. The story is broken up into nightly readings for the season. (I believe it is also a trilogy...)

Finally, we finish with "The Advent Book". This book is probably the most beautiful book I've ever seen. Each page is a door with a small portion of the Christmas story, from The Gospel of Luke, behind the door. You open a new door each night until Christmas day. The cool part is that by the time you get to the last door you've read the Christmas story 25 times!

After the Advent Book we finish our time together with prayer and, sometimes, a song.

So that's what WE do. What do YOU do?

Feel free to post a comment and share your Advent traditions.

If you need some additional ideas, I would HIGHLY recommend celebrationsandtraditions.com/. This is the website of the couple who wrote The Advent Book and they have some truly fabulous ideas. I would also HIGHLY recommend aholyexperience.com. This is one of my favorite blogs and is written by Ann Voskamp. She always blogs about their family Advent time and even has written her own Jesse Tree book titled "The Glorious Coming" which is wonderful. My husband and I have used it before.

So go, prepare, anticipate, and share the Good News: He has come and He is coming again!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

advent...her coming

This season of waiting for our referral has gotten a lot harder. Many friends and family ask us regularly if we have "heard anything." It is getting harder and harder to answer that question. The "Not yet" gets stuck in my throat. The "No" is not naturally said with a smile. Thank you for asking. Please keep asking. It is not the asking that is hard. It is the answering.

We periodically hear about referrals other couples at our agency have received. Until recently, this was hopeful news, but as the holidays draw nearer, I am reminded with each one that my daughter is somewhere and will not be with her family for Christmas.

This is what happened yesterday. I heard about 2 more referrals of girls to couples from our agency. My MIND says "Well, obviously, these were neither one YOUR daughter. They were the daughters of these two families. The Lord has built your family, and you must wait for its completion." My heart cries out, "WHY NOT US????"

As I took my sorrow to the Lord in prayer, He reminded me of Psalm 121:
Psalm 121
I will lift my eyes to the mountains
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip,
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper,
The Lord is the shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forevermore.

So I wrote it out in my journal. As I was writing He reminded me of something else, as well. Our family is in the midst of celebrating Advent. Advent means "coming" and in the context of Christmas, we are awaiting the coming of Messiah. As we wait we prepare - watching, waiting, and anticipating with joy and excitement - not sorrow and mourning.

I began to examine how I am awaiting the advent of my daughter. Am I preparing, watching, waiting and anticipating with joy and excitement, or sorrow and mourning. I am sad to say that, of late, I have been lazy with my preparation - constant prayer for her and her transition to this country and our family, reading books on adoption, seeking out support groups to know where we will fit best when she arrives, etc - and my anticipating has turned into a 1st class pity-party of "torn-robes and ashes".

I pray that as our wait continues that the Lord would continue to faithfully remind me that He will never leave me nor forsake me - or my precious Rebekah - and that "He will keep [my/her] soul. [He] will guard [my/her] going out and [my/her] coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Ps 121:7b,8)"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Caleb-isms IX

This weekend was a VERY busy weekend at our house. I am co-director for the children's choir at our church and our Christmas Musical was Sunday night. I was at the church...well...all weekend. On Saturday after dress rehearsal, I met my men for a quick lunch. While we were eating the following conversation happened:

(Conversation set-up: Last week was also a Global Summit at our church and my Caleb got to meet 2 of my friends from Africa. When he met my friend James, Caleb said the when he was "9 or 10" Mommy would take him to Africa with her...ummm...probably not....but I love his heart! We did ask him why "9 or 10" and he said, "You know when I'm a grown up" so we explained that 9 and 10 year olds are still kids and he wouldn't be a grown up until he's at least 20 (; )

Mommy: So, buddy, you want to go to Africa with me when you're 9 or 10.

Caleb: No, probably when I'm like, um, about 20. (NO JOKE HE TALKS LIKE THIS!!)

Mommy: Oh, like 20?

Caleb: Yeah, when I'm a grown up.

Mommy: What will you do there?

Caleb: (coloring...) I want to give out the food to the people who don't have any. I'll go and I'll give them some. I'll hand it out.

Mommy: Wow. That's a good thing to do.

Caleb: (still coloring...) Yeah, and maybe if I find my honey, I mean my wife, she can come too and she can learn them about Jesus while I hand out the food if we don't have any kids yet.

At this point I just smiled. I mean what do you say to that? Got to love his heart...and his mind...though!

PS - stay tuned for my soon to come series on Advent...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How great the Father's love for us...

Well, I already told you all what kind of strange day we've had. Poor Caleb is, I'm happy to say, feeling a little better, thanks to the pain meds the doctors gave him.

We went to dinner at Cracker Barrel tonight because it is one of Caleb's favorite places to eat. About half way through our meal, our waitress came over to ask us if everything was good, and if we needed anything. Then she informed us that another customer had already paid for our meal!!

Just one more "I love you!" on a day when He knew we needed to hear it as often as possible! What an amazing God we serve!

Broken arm, broken heart

My sweet baby has not been so sweet lately. Precious, yes. Cute, yes. Funny, absolutely! Sweet...well not unless you consider continued, persistent disobedience sweet. Me, not so much.

So yesterday, when he was PLAYING during NAP time, this was just another in a long line of examples of the current state of his heart. And when he fell from the top of his HIGH footboard to the floor, I felt pretty comfortable calling the fall a "natural consequence" of his disobedience.

As is often the case in scripture, the Lord will cause a small amount of temporary pain in order to teach us a lesson of eternal significance. The Lord knew that what Caleb was dealing with in his heart was the fact that he is "wise in his own eyes", always thinking, "I know what you said, Mommy/Daddy, but I'm sure I know better!" And as the Lord sees the heart, He knew exactly what would reach the heart of this child.

Since his fall, we have been talking and he told me that he fell because he disobeyed. He told Steven that he "won't do that again". Now, he is 4, so we can all safely assume that he will, in fact, disobey again. I do think, however, that the lesson landed. Mommy and Daddy have rules that he must obey, yes for his safety, but more because God teaches us to obey our parents...that this is pleasing to Him.

This morning we found out that the arm IS broken. He has to go back
to the hospital in the morning to be sedated so that the arm can be set and a permanent cast can be put on. He will be in the cast for 6 weeks. Again, my "mama's heart" wants to cry for how frustrated he will become over the next 6 weeks with his RIGHT arm in a cast...then I remember how desperately I've prayed that the Lord would work in his heart, showing him where he is wrong and prompting him to change. All I can say is that God is good, God is sovereign, and He sees and cares for the hearts of men...and 4 year old boys.


6 weeks of training in being grateful in all circumstances,
here we come!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A lesson in humility

This morning, after breakfast, our amazing hosts took us to a mountain just on the outskirts of Comas where we are staying. We were told that we were going there to "pray for the city". I thought, "That's nice. Let's go pray for these nice people."

As we made our way up the STEEP street that lead to the overlook we were to pray from, we were met along the way by an precious and delightful woman named Daisy and her precious son Antonio. They walked with us up to the overlook.




When we reached the top, we took a few minutes to take in the view and take some pictures...



We gathered in a circle and Pastor Enrique shared with us from Psalm 24. He said that we could have gone to a higher mountain to see more of creation, but we came here to see the city. We went up to a mountain, he said, because in the Word, it was very important, spiritually, to go up to a mountain and talk to God. Moses went up a mountain to speak with God and receive the Law. David talks in the Psalms about going to God's holy mountain, Jerusalem. Even Jesus went up on a mountain to pray.

In Psalm 24 it says,

"The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.
For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.
Selah.
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift {them} up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.
Selah."

As Pastor Enrique spoke about clean hands and a pure heart and then prayed that the Lord would give us these things, I was convicted of my ugly, hateful pride. I am consumed by it in even the smallest tasks of my life. Particularly, he convicted me of my prideful heart where this trip is concerned. That learning songs in a foreign language has not been an uphill battle for me is NOT of my own doing or because of any knowledge or understanding I have given myself, but because of the way the Lord created my strange brain to function. Because of the work of His Spirit in my mind to prepare me for a trip I would otherwise not have been prepared for.

I have not done this on my own, but until today I had not acknowledged that fact. I my heart, I had lifted myself up as special, intelligent, capable. In fact, I am none of these things apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. If I am special it is His hand on me that makes me so. If I am intelligent, it is from the wisdom He has granted me that apart from Him I would not understand. If I am capable it is because "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" and not by any capability I possess within myself. My prayer tonight is that the Lord would change my heart to reflect Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves".

O Lord, give me clean hands and a pure heart that I may ascend the hill of the Lord and stand on Your holy mountain!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Peru update

Well, here we are. A short two weeks from our departure for Peru. We are planning, working, rehearsing (did I mention we are leading worship...IN SPANISH - YIKES!!), praying, preparing, packing. I am very excited, but I would be lying if I said that I was not also intimidated. Reading the information we are given about the church in Comas we are visiting, I am left wondering, "What can I offer them?" These are not people devoid of belief. This is an explosively growing, and expanding church. The Lord reassures me that He has called me to this trip, so I sit. Anxiously awaiting what He will teach me, for I am certain that He will bless the children of Peru through e-camp, and knock me off my feet by what He will teach and show me through them.

For now all I can say is please continue to pray for us. Many of us have not reached our fundraising goals yet (myself included). We are trusting in Him who has called us to this work to complete it and I ask each of you to prayerfully consider supporting this trip. If you feel that He is asking you to support our trip you may visit www.fbctn.org/globalgiving and click the "Give Here" button under the picture labeled "Peru Worship Trip". I also ask for your prayers, from now until we return, for our health. A few of us on the team (myself included) have specific health oddities :). (Mines is to do with my digestive system...) Please pray that the Creator of our bodies will sustain our health through the final stages of preparation and throughout the trip. Please pray for those doing the "planning" part of the trip Rob Howard and Philip Morlan. They both need God's grace and peace and His continued reminder that His hand is upon them as the complete the task He has set before them. Last I ask for your prayers for the rest of us who are planning and preparing classes for the kids and struggling to learn songs in a foreign language. Pray as He leads you for all of us. He knows our needs more even than we do ourselves. God bless and thank you, in advance, for interceding on our behalf.

Monday, August 17, 2009

God is...

The Lord has been dealing with me. You see, last summer I studied Daniel and Revelation and blogged about it ALL SUMMER. It was an amazing experience.

This summer I have been in a DEEP study on marriage. It is a Precept Upon Precept study by Kay Arthur called Marriage Without Regrets. The reason He has been dealing with me is that I have NOT been blogging about it all summer. He has asked me, "Was this a less amazing experience?"...ummm...no. "Was it less impactful?"...ummm...definitely not. "Have I taught you less?"...no, Lord..."So then marriage is not in crisis? You don't know anyone who could benefit from the information I am giving you?...Share, My love...write and share"

So, now I begin. This study has had a deep impact on my life. I pray the Lord shows you places in your life where this His teaching on relationship needs to be applied. He has in mine and walks with me daily as I struggle to apply all that He has taught and continues to teach me.

One of the most foundational lessons in the study was the study on Love. Let's start with the fact that we, in English, have one word for love. When I say "I love you" to my husband, it means something different than when I say it to my son or to my sister or my best friend, but still it is the word "love". Not so in the Word. In the Word, God inspired the writers to use different words that all mean different KINDS of love! This way, if we look up the words, there is no confusion about what the writer meant.

So, today we'll look at the 3 words God used that we've translated "love" and one other Greek word for love that God did not use in His holy Word. (The following is copied from the Precept Upon Precept Marriage Without Regrets study published by Precept Ministries)

1. Eros: 1) erotic love, 2) a love of passion that seizes and absorbs itself into the mind, 3) a love of emotional involvement based on body chemistry, 4) basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction, ie - "I love you because you make me happy"; the foundation of it is some characteristic in the other person that pleases you - if the characteristic were to cease to exist the reason for the love would be gone; this type of love looks for what it can receive and only gives in order to receive and when it fails to get what it wants or expects, bitterness or resentment could develop.
Eros is a CONDITIONAL love. God did not use this word to describe love.
2. Storge: 1)has it’s basis in one’s own nature, 2) a natural affection or natural obligation, 3) natural movement of the soul for husband, wife, child or dog 4) a quiet, abiding feeling within a person that rests on something close to him and that he/she feels good about. In the New Testament this word appears in the noun or verb form with the prefix “a” and therefore negates the love and means without this type of love. In other words, it is used as “unloving”. It is also used with our next word and translated “devoted”.
3. Phileo: 1) companionable love, 2) speaks of affection, fondness or liking, 3) responds to kindness, appreciation, or love, 4) involves giving and receiving, but when strained can collapse in a crisis, 5) called out of one’s heart by qualities in another, 6) it is a higher love than “eros” because it is our happiness rather than my happiness.
4. Agape: 1) called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved. It is a love of esteem and evaluation. It has the idea of prizing and is the most noble word for love in the Greek language, 2) is not kindled by the merit or worth of its object, but originates in its own God-given nature, 3) delights in giving, 4) keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. 5) desires only the good of the one loved and is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.

So what kind of love do you live in? What kind do you show to your husband? your children? your friends? your family? What about those who “don’t deserve it”? What kind do you think God calls us to? We’ll look at that next time. ‘til then, my prayer for you is that you would be open to the conviction of the Spirit and that He would show you how to love better...like He loves.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peru, here I come!

***Update: As of today August 13th, $710 has been given toward my trip. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please consider giving if you have not already, and feel free to forward this post on to anyone you know who might be interested in giving and/or praying for our team. We leave in 5 weeks!

I know it has been a long while since I have posted anything to my blog, but you’ll soon see why! I have spent the better part of this summer working toward a brand new children’s worship camp our church is putting together called e-camp. The “e” stands for “everything” as in “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6.

We are SO excited about this camp and the opportunity it presents to share the gospel and teach kids about their awesome, majestic Father in heaven. We were each created for the purpose of worshiping our Creator. The purpose of e-camp is to give children an opportunity to spend a week of their summer in a fun engaging environment where they learn about worship - what it means, why we do it, how to do it and where to direct it. The camp will culminate in a Family Worship Night, Friday night, where the kids will be given the opportunity to express their worship to their Creator. True worship takes practice and discipline. It needs to be explained, demonstrated and taught. We believe that e-camp will be the perfect environment for kids to learn, experience and grow in their adoration of the Father.

We have been overwhelmed at the response to our fledgling camp. We have seen the numbers swell from the 20's to the 30's to more than 90 children registered as we prepare to launch this coming Monday! The Lord is drawing new worshipers to Himself and we simply stand in awe as He moves to accomplish His purposes.

As if this isn’t enough of an honor to work on, the Lord had more (as He usually does!). The same day that our children’s ministry department got the green light for e-camp, our worship department approached the staff member working on it, just in conversation, and told him that our sister church in Comas, Peru had asked the worship and arts department to bring a children’s worship camp to Comas in September! Coincidence? I think not!

So here we are 2 weeks from e-camp and now happily and excitedly planning for “camp-t” - Campamentos Todos. We will be taking e-camp’s format, 16 team members and a documentary crew to Comas from September 18th - 26th. I am overjoyed that the Lord has again asked me to participate in going to another part of the world to love on children!

Here’s where each of you fit in:
Pray!
First, I would so appreciate each of you praying for our team as we prepare and translate e-camp. Would you pray that e-camp would have a deep impact on the worship of the children who will attend. Will you pray for each of our small group leaders as we prepare to teach the children about dramatic speech, percussion, singing, dancing and art, each as an expression of worship. Will you pray also for the hearts of the children that the Lord would prepare them to meet with Him and be eternally impacted.

Give!
Second, there is a cost associated with this trip. The cost to each team member will be $1400. I am asking each and every person who reads this post to consider giving just $10. If 140 of you give $10, my trip cost will be covered! If more of you do this, then the overflow can bless other members of our team and help us with other costs such as the gifts we love to take to the people of our sister church. There are two easy ways to give. First, send a check to Fellowship Bible Church at 1210 Franklin Road, Brentwood, TN 37027. Write “Peru trip Mandy Reutter” in the memo line. Second, go to www.fellowshipnashville.org/globalgiving and click on Peru Worship Trip and choose my name.

Thank you all so much for your concern and love for our family, for your prayers and for your support.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Caleb-isms VIII

Shortly after Steven met Francis, we invited her to our home for lunch so that Caleb and I could get to know her. When she came in, she and Caleb started talking, and she asked Caleb if he was looking forward to being a big brother...

Caleb: "Yep! My stister is in ma Phiwapines" (the Philippines - HA!)
Francis: "That's right!"
Caleb: "Yep. That's where Goliath is from...oh..no...wait, that's the PhiliSTINES!"

CRAZY KID!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Family time in Holy Week

In 2007, we bought a book that has become a favorite family tradition for the Christmas season. It is called "The Advent Book" by Jack and Kathy Stockman. When we bought it, we were added to the Stockman's email newsletter "Celebrations and Traditions" that they send out in correlation to holidays. It gives wonderful ideas for creating Christ-centered family traditions for various holidays. We received one for the Lent season with ideas, also, for Holy Week that has been wonderful.

On Tuesday, the focus was Loving God. Below is the anagram Caleb did (mostly on his own) with Steven. He came up with "Love" and "Trust" all by himself. Steven tried to explain that "Trust" wouldn't work because the word starts with 'T' not 'R', but Caleb was so excited about "Trust" that he told Steven, "It's okay, Daddy, because there is an "R" in "Trust"!"Steven helped out with "Obey" and they both came up with "David". Then they prayed and asked God to help us love Him, trust Him and obey Him and have a heart for Him like King David.

Caleb had the best time coloring the word "Lord" and writing all the words "All by myself"!

This was the most precious time we've had during Holy Week so far. I can't wait until Sunday morning!


Caleb-isms VII

Another example of how much my Savior loves me...

This morning, after sleeping poorly in a separate bed from my sweet husband because he was THAT sick, and being absolutely exhausted not only by the break-neck pace of the past few days and weeks but also by the thought of the content and length of the day ahead of me, this is how my Lord used my baby to wake me up:

Caleb: "It is weeeelll, it is weeeelll, wif my sooouuul...it is weeeel, it is weeeel, wif my sooouuul!"

And mine, as well. Thanks for the reminder, Father. Amen.

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's been awhile...

So, a dear friend informed me last night that I have gone far too long between blog posts and promptly instructed me to post something immediately. It's nice to have friendships close enough that we can speak the truth in love!

What we've been preparing for over the past month is our upcoming fundraiser. It is the most unique fundraiser that I've ever come across and we are so very excited about it. For today I'll just give you an overview of our project in the form of the letter we - and our team - have sent out to raise awareness of what we're doing. Stay tuned to find out more...
________________________________________________________________

I am writing to you to enlist your support in an unusual opportunity to serve. More about that at the end. For now there are a few people I want to tell you about.

The Widow
Francis Lee is a precious woman who’s been through a lot in the last five years. After marrying Harold Lee, and having two children Michelle and Amanda, the family began building a home in Nolensville, TN. Harold and Francis did not want to take on a large 30 year mortgage, so instead they began building a home on their 11 acres piece by piece as they were able to save cash to buy materials. They would go to Home Depot, fill up their Yugo, go back to their property and build the house themselves, from footers to trusses!
On their 24th wedding anniversary, Harold began having pain and heaviness in his chest and was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 66 years old. With Chemo and radiation, they battled it into remission only for it to return within the year. After one month in the hospital he was released to hospice on January 7th, 2005 and passed away January 9th.
In July of that year, Francis went in for a routine colonoscopy and was diagnosed with colon cancer. Following surgery, chemo, radiation, blood clots in her lungs and double pneumonia, she was forced to retire after 31 years of teaching in the inner city.
Since the loss of her husband and the decline of her own health, Francis has been unable to continue work on her home, and is overwhelmed at the outpouring of support and help that our team is offering.

The Adoptive Family
Steven, Mandy and Caleb Reutter live in Franklin, TN where they attend Fellowship Bible Church. Steven and Mandy have known since before Caleb was conceived that they felt God’s call on their life to adopt, but did not know when that would happen or what it would look like. In the summer after Caleb turned 2, God’s adoption plan for their family began to take a shape they could see. Since Steven’s family on his mother’s side is Filipino, the Philippines seemed a natural choice to begin research of international adoption. Their paperwork was submitted to the Philippines in July of 2008 and they were approved by the country’s adoption board on August 21, 2008. They are now in the middle of the 12 - 18 month estimated wait time to receive a referral. They are expecting to be referred a little girl between the ages of 6 and 24 months. The stories of the ways that God has both lead and blessed this journey are many. If you would like to know more about the Reutters’ adoption story, please visit the weblog they are keeping at www.ephesians15journey.blogspot.com.

How do you fit in?
We’re not all called to adopt, but each of us is called to care for widows and orphans 
(James 1:27). First, please pray for the Reutter family in their adoption journey. Second, please pray for Francis as she continues to adjust to life as a widow and that her health would continue to improve. Third, the adoption process, while more than worth it, is incredibly expensive. The Reutters are trying to raise a portion of the money necessary to bring their little girl home. They are trying to raise $20,000.

Both Hands - www.bothhandsfoundation.org
To do that, we are having a workday at Francis’s home. I am part of a team of folks who have come alongside the Reutters to help them on this journey they believe God has called them to. The team will spend the entire day Saturday April 25th installing all kinds of trim-work throughout the house, and kitchen countertops, as well as cleaning, decluttering and organizing inside and out to let Francis know that she is loved and not forgotten. Think of it like a charity golf outing; but instead of us golfing to raise money, we are going to support a widow in need.

With your tax-deductible sponsorship of my work that day, you will accomplish three things: 1) You will help serve the needs of a widow who deeply needs it 2) you will be helping an orphan find a forever home and 3) you get a tax break in the process. How often do you get to feel that good about yourself in a single act of kindness?!?

How to Help
1.) Pray for Francis, Mandy, Steven, Caleb and the precious little girl waiting in the Philippines.
2.) Consider sponsoring our work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Caleb-isms VI

Well, I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything from the mouth of my crazy son, but tonight, he said something so sweet and so cute that I couldn't resist:

At bedtime, Steven was tucking him in and he said,

Caleb: Daddy, what's this ring? (Steven's wedding ring) Where's your other ring, the Auburn one?
Steven: I take the Auburn ring off every night, but I never take this (his wedding) ring off. This ring tells everybody that I love your Mommy and I never take it off because I always love your Mommy.
Caleb: (with an awed look on his face) I want a ring to tell everybody that I love my Mommy.

He never stops surprising me and making me feel LOVED!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miracles

I have to say that before I went to Africa, I believed in miracles.

I really did. I believed that God gave Gideon a sign. I believed that He supernatually killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers before they could assault Jerusalem. I believed that Jesus healed a blind man, and a crippled man and even raised Lazarus from the dead.

I believed that God raised His Son, Jesus, from the dead after Jesus voluntarily sacrificed His life as an atonement for my sins.

I really did and do believe all of those things.

I also believe that God caused me to miraculously become pregnant with our son when all the doctors said "No, chance, babe. You'll need IVF"

What I had never really given a lot of thought to was whether or not I really believed that the God of the universe still works miracles - personal small, everyday miracles - today.

And lets be real. The miracles I listed above are personal miracles. Yes they had huge impact and significance on a nation or even on mankind, or on my life as I knew it, but they were personal.

God gave Gideon the specific sign he asked for. Twice.

God defeated 185,000 Assyrians after King Hezekiah went into the temple, spread out his problem before the Lord and sought His help and counsel.

I think it is safe to say that to the blind man, the crippled man and Lazarus, their respective healings were very personal.

And I think that being restored to communion with the Father was a personal miracle for us all.

So what's the point, Mandy? Why all this talk about personal miracles?

Because, in Africa, He performed one for me.

When we landed in Lietnhom, Sudan, I stepped off the small, twin engine aircraft into a world I arrogantly thought I had imagined, but had not begun to understand.

The sights, smells, heat, dry air, crush of beautiful people - adults and children - who want to be exactly where you are, and the overwhelming desire to love, hug, and otherwise intimately know each and every one of them was, to say the least, overwhelming.

When all our luggage was off the plane, we began to walk. I wanted to see everything, as did everyone with us. To visit places they had seen before, that I wanted to see for the first time. To assess the damage that had been done in the attacks launched against this precious people seven months before. To visit those they knew, that I would come to know.

We stopped at the area where the team had stayed last year, then the River, then walked through the market, all on the way to the Alarm compound where we stayed.

About three-quarters into the walk, I started to feel faint, and strange and realized that I had not been drinking enough water and had not applied sunscreen before the walk. I was getting burnt and dehydrated.

In Nashville, this would not be a big deal. I would come inside my nice air conditioned, cool house and have a nice tall glass of ice water and lay on my couch until I felt better. Not so in Sudan.

For the next two days, I was very sick. I couldn't eat or rest. I questioned my decision to come to Africa - as if it was my decision in the first place - HA - I cried, missing my family, and I prayed asking God why I was even there if I was just going to be sick the whole time...pity party anyone?

I wrote a prayer in my journal asking God why I was there if only to be sick and begged Him to heal me. To "make me whole" and "fill me with Your peace and calm and make my body strong."

Right after I wrote those words, I "suddenly" had the idea to get my MP3 player out of my bag to listen to it. Interesting considering the battery was completely dead. On the plane flying into Lietnhom, it had died and cut itself off. NO CHANCE it would turn on...except it did.

I sat in the middle of my bed, staring at a battery indicator that read 3/4 full still holding my prayer notebook.

I should also tell you that there is NOTHING more soothing to me than music when I feel sick. It helps me rest. It soothes my soul. The Lord knows this because this is how He created me. He knows that the best way to give me "peace and calm" is through music.

I laid back on the bed and pressed play. These are the first words I heard:

"The universe is vast beyond the stars,
But you are mindful when a sparrow falls.
You're mindful of the anxious thoughts that find me, surround me and bind me."

From a song entitled "Jesus, King of Angels" by Fernando Ortega - my NUMBER ONE choice for calming music.

For the next hour and a half I laid on my bed and listened to Fernando on my "dead" MP3 player. I even slept, which in Sudan in the middle of the day is quite a feat...it's very hot, and therefore not comfortable napping conditions.

When the rest of the team returned from a walk they had taken, I woke up and went to join them to sit outside. I was already beginning to feel better and was even able to eat dinner that night.

I didn't have a moment's feeling of illness for the rest our stay in Sudan.

A couple of days later, on a whim, I decided to try the MP3 player again, just because I wanted to...it was dead as a doornail and did not come on again until I had charged it back home.

Falling Whistles

Today I am brokenhearted by a story I read.

I know this blog is supposted to be about the process that our family is walking through in our adoption story, but today, it's going to be about more than that.

Today, it's going to be about the story of precious babies on the other side of the world who have been ripped from their homes - if you can call them homes - and their families. Babies who have been abused, neglected, used and then forced to kill or be killed.

Today it's going to be about the story of the helpless children in the DR Congo, Africa.

The link at the end of this post tells the story of some of the children of the Congo. They have been abducted and forced fight in a war they did not start.

But more specifically, this story is about the youngest of these. The ones, too small to hold a weapon, and so, given a whistle to scare off the enemy, are placed on the front line to be a human barricade.

Read it. Then bring these precious ones before the Father.

http://fallingwhistles.com/SOS-82644-FallingWhistles.pdf

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Lord is my Helper and my Redeemer
In a time of pain, He is my Strength
And in illness, my Healer
When I am hurt and alone, I am not
Because He never lets go of my hand
He is with me every moment of all the days He gives me
I am never alone
Though I may feel fear, He is my Peace
For His protection is perfect and everlasting.