Miss Molly

I’d like you to meet Molly! I first heard about Molly back in April of this year and I’ve been captivated with her little face ever since! This darling little girl that lives at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in China and we recently became one of her sponsors! I’m so excited to receive quarterly updates about her and to watch God work in her little life. Her picture will go up on our refrigerator and she’ll be added to our prayer list.There’s a family in the US cheering for you Molly!

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Sponsorship has a special place in our hearts since we know that Melody has benefitted so much from Love Without Boundaries and her sponsor. We’ve had the oportunity to connect with her sponsor and I can’t tell you how much it blesses me as her mother to know that there was a special family loving, praying and providing for her, even before we knew she was ours.  It’s things like this that make me shake my head in wonder at God’s love and care for each one of us. Sponsorship for Melody means that she’s able to be in foster care and has had the opportunity to know the love and care of a family, and especially a mother. Seeing Melody Joy with her foster mom always brings such relief and joy to my heart. She is loved, she’s learned to bond, she’s cared for. Love Without Boundaries sends her sponsor monthly updates and pictures and they’ve been able to watch her tremendous progress in the foster program.

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Please check out the links I’ve included above and prayerfully consider partnering with an organization and in turn, partnering with a child for their future!

Looking for Sparkles

She calls them sparkles. When they fall off your finger, they go to find a family.  So she says.

The dryer yields more of these sparkles with each load, the dress they abandoned now sparkless. So the search for sparkles and search for family continues, as the laundry cycles on.

Moving twice in 11 months, leaving behind everything known, planting and replanting – the tumbling, spinning cycle of life leaves me dizzy. Stepping out of comfort zones, saying yes to God, walking in weakness to discover Him strong – it’s exhilarating and exhausting.

This family, these kids, they’ve persevered long and given much. It’s time. Time to rebuild, time to nourish and replenish.When the walls are worn thin and there’s windy weather on the horizon, it’s time to fortify.

There are changes, just around this corner.

Another sparkle is found, she takes it to her drawer, adds it to the other sparkles. “So they can be a family.”

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In an instant, in a distant city in China, our lives will change forever. It’s going to be beautiful, miraculous, and life changing. Life altering in a million amazing and beautiful ways. Life altering in a million difficult, painful, sacrificial and still beautiful ways.

As we wait, we rebuild.

It isn’t popular to withdraw, decline invitations, pass on commitments and position, but rebuilding is a work that requires full focused effort.  The changes are difficult, but the results are tremendous. There is laughter, stories, parents hanging out with kids, kids playing together…

There is time.

Sweet, beautiful, time.

There are bibles and memory verses, routines, reading, playing, laughing, did I mention laughing. There are old ones spending time with young ones; siblings choosing to be together.

We ache for Melody Joy to come, we see her in her siblings faces (how can this be?), talk about her, pray about her, prepare for her. As we wait, we fortify. Just like a baby in the womb, we prepare to bring her home.

She opens the door, the light from the dryer illuminates the glimmer of each glorious sparkle.  With great excitement she exclaims,

“They’re all in here together, they found their family!”

When the Rooster Crowed

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“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” Luke 22:61

The Lord looks at Peter as he denies him for the third time. The intent look, the knowing eye contact.

What was in that look?

Was it remorse? Like the remorse a father feels when his child chooses to do wrong? An I told you so look? Knowing he had said it would happen, to drive in the point?

Hurt. Did the betrayal hurt, knowing his sinful nature, knowing it would happen – did it still sting? Betrayal stings. It cuts. It makes all relationship before feel like a fraud. Knowing the future restoration, Jesus still wept over Job, did this betrayal still hurt?

Disappointment? Rebuke, pity, anger, hurt – Love?

What was in that look?

What an intimate place to partake in meaningful eye contact with Jesus. What a dreadful place to have it be in such awful circumstances! When Jesus looks intently at you, even knowing his love and compassion, you don’t want it to be when you’ve just sinned against him!

What an awesome, passionate savior we have who looks intently at the individual, even in their sin.

Such Love! Such Forgiveness! What a wonder You are!

Loved You from the Start

I’ve not written a word here since that first time I saw your lovely face.

The days since you captured my heart, since we began this maddening journey to you, they’ve been bittersweet. Sweet in discovering the wonder of you, coming to realize love at first sight is real and when God has a plan – no amount of paperwork or miles can take away that love. We truly have loved you from the very start little one.

So we wait.

The bitter taste of the wait makes us cringe and we ache for you.

Your siblings all gathered around to see you this morning. They commented how much you looked like your brother, how you ate bananas and drank juice. They laughed at the cake all over your face. They celebrated your birthday, celebrated that you will be coming home to play with them. Your grandparents too, looked through the pictures of your day and rejoiced over you. Your grandma cried when she saw you with your cake, surrounded by smiling, caring people.

Your sisters are preparing your room, making plans, saving clothes, waiting, waiting for you to join them. Your big sister made sure that your pictures were nicely framed by your birthday cake, made sure to have pictures taken. She lovingly anticipates the day when she can show you how you were celebrated and loved for so long. She’s secretly been working on a painting for us, a painting that reminds us just how much we’ve loved you – right from the start. Only God can do that.

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You are never far from our thoughts, always weaved into our conversations. Often, when we sit at dinner, we will look around to see who is missing… it’s always you. At every dinner your little sister, who happily calls herself mèimei, prays for you. For you to be safe.

Your Daddy is in love with you. From that first day, you captured his heart and he longs for you, longs for you to be home. He started looking for a car that would have room for you, even on the first day he saw you. He’s been preparing and making everything ready for when you come home. He wants you home.

Your mama loves you, I’m so glad you had a happy time, I can’t wait until we can laugh and play together. Tonight, I go to sleep knowing you smiled and enjoyed your birthday. I smiled too. Smiled at the images of you enjoying your special birthday cake. Tonight, I go to sleep, reminding myself this is the last birthday you’ll spend far away from your family. Tonight I’ll rest, knowing you were happy; I’ll rest better when you’re here beside me.  I pray you understand that we are coming for you. We are working so hard to get to you. To be with you.

We’ve loved you from the start baby girl. I can’t explain it, but it’s true.

Happy 10th Birthday sweet Melody Joy.

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The Peaceful & Undivided Heart

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I’ve just finished chapters 7 & 8 in The Church Planting Wife and have recorded some of my thoughts of them below:

Chapter 7: The Peaceful Heart – Battling Stress

A battle I’m all too familiar with, one that included panic attacks and a call to 911. I have had to willfully fight several times during this church plant to keep my heart beat steady; my breathing calm. I’ve learned how to purposefully relax, gathered techniques from trusted friends on how to steady my body and mind. God has been faithful.

In chapter 7, Christine Hoover shares how she went on a personal retreat to rest and as she returned home, all the stress also returned, and she wasn’t even home yet! She listed 6 different stressors that church planting wives face in varying degrees.

She goes on to discuss various examples in scripture on how to be “Busy but Balanced.” Speaking of Jesus:

“Although He experienced fatigue, He never grew frazzled.”

A part of a quote by Paul Miller that I particularly identified with and wanted to gather up and put in my pocket was this one:

“If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy….In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet.”

An inner quiet. A peace and contentment in God, no matter what is going on in life, this trust in God sustains. That’s what I’m working towards. That’s why I get up again, keep pressing forward, keep trying and not giving up. Ms. Hoover talks about Jesus stealing small windows to be with God; I’m trying to incorporate these appointments of devotion into my daily life. As a means of sustenance. As a means of survival. As a means to obtain this inner quiet.

We’ve settled into a happy routine around here. Our nights are busy, but our days are mostly our own. There’s a lot of laughter and joy in our household as my family has learned to enjoy being with one another. Those days set apart were not in vain, God had a plan He was working out, He always does! I identified with this quote:

“A well-arranged soul and a kingdom impact for that matter – comes from a well-arranged life.”

There’s a juggling act here, being open to the Spirit moving and allowing schedules and routines to be changed, but also living an ordered life that has predictable encounters with the Lord. I’m learning how to live in both worlds. Meaning, my husband’s fast paced, ever moving world, combined with my ordered, structured and predictable life. I’m learning to have inner quiet in the midst of this.

Other notable quotes:

“…people are priority over tasks.”

“… an integral aspect of ministry is silence, rest and reflection.”

In the section that interviews pastor’s wives, Amanda Jones speaks of the spiritual warfare that comes with church planting. It was good to read that others have experienced the presence of darkness trying to infiltrate, the dreams, the spiritual battle that has emerged with church planting.

Chapter 8: The Undivided Heart – Choosing to Please God Alone

I read this chapter on an airplane with a 3 year old so the impact may have been thwarted, but I did draw some truths out.

She starts by talking about a silent conversation in her head, her thoughts leading her down a path of lies in an imaginary conversation that concludes with someone not liking her, thinking ill of her, etc. Yeah, I’ve had that conversation. She goes on to talk about the lies that the enemy speaks to us and how easily we grab them and run with them. People pleasing, comparison and jealousy are all discussed here.

I’ll have to come back and update this section when I read it again with our pastor’s wives, I suspect that much of the stresses in chapter 7 are in some ways rooted in the issues brought up in chapter 8.

Still enjoying this book, just 2 chapters to go! I’m also enjoying reading it again with other pastor’s wives and drawing new insights from it, as I’m in a different stage of church planting this second time around.

Thanks for reading!

The Gift of Time

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There is a certain safety, a quiet comfort that comes with time. Lately, there’s been a quiet contentment settling in my heart each time I spend time with him. I can’t explain why this is different than the awe and marvelling that we’ve done all our married days at how easy this comes for us, and maybe that’s it, it doesn’t always come easy anymore.

This man knows me more intimately than anyone has ever known me. I carried his children in my body. He was there as I delivered each of our 6 children, stayed by my side, strong and steady. He’s seen me in my most vulnerable state and been a pillar of strength to draw from in it all. We’ve only been at this for 15 and a half years and I am starting to sense this steady comfort that grows with having a protector of my life, my body, and my heart . A man who fears God and leads me to Him again and again.

I was merely a girl when we married, 18 years old, insecure and unsure of who I was. As I discovered who God was making me to be, he was always there to cheer me on, push me a little; support me a lot. There’s been a new transition as I’ve turned thirty and discovered my voice, my opinion that doesn’t always match his; as I learn to assert myself with respect and love. This dance becomes more complicated as our days go on, our life together is more detailed, intricate, complex and full. But, dance we do, stepping on toes and reorienting ourselves to dance in sync.

There’s something unique and special in being blessed with time, extended time, with the same person. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, and I’m not promised length of days, but I’m thankful for the days I’ve been given. I’ve truly seen the goodness of God in the land of the living; I rejoice.

I’m thankful for you, Anthony Huy.

Seen & Heard: 10 Apps I Use (Nearly) Everyday

I use my phone a lot, for a lot of things, there are many apps that I use everyday and I thought I would share them with you.

10 Android apps that I use everyday or nearly everyday:

Kindle – This is a must have in this household. This app is on all of our devices for reading and the kids also use this for many of their schoolbooks.

Feedly – I love this blog reader and switched to it when Google Reader went away. I use this to read all of the Gospel Coalition blogs, Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, etc. I also have some crafting, organizing and money saving blogs that feed here, but I don’t read them much right now. 🙂

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Amazon MP3 – I used to buy all my music on iTunes, but now everything is in the Amazon cloud. I use this in the house with my bluetooth player and in the car through auxiliary port. Many a calming moment provided here!

Facebook – For a while I deleted this one, I prefer to not make it easy to be distracted by Facebook. I finally just turned off notifications so that I wasn’t constantly being pulled back in.

Runkeeper – There are probably better running apps, but this one has kept all my runs and walks since I started running so I like to keep using it.  It is also tracking how many miles I’ve gone in my running shoes since I got those at about the same time! 🙂

Expensify – I love, love, LOVE this app. It’s probably not useful to anyone else, but it allows me to take a picture of receipts and turn in all of the items I purchase for the church.  This little app saves me a huge amount of time.  I’ve taught Katie Ann how to use it too, so when we are at the store I run the church purchase first and she records the purchase while I complete our personal order.  Once a month, I go online to their website and turn in all our expenses, quick and easy! YAY! (There was underground chatter about discontinuing the use of this program at church, much moaning and groaning came from me about this so I’m going to put in one more, I LOVE EXPENSIFY, just for good measure!)

Cartwheel – Oh my. I just discovered this app. It’s a terrible app for saving money because it makes shopping at Target like a game for me and I just want to go spend more so I can earn more dumb badges in Cartwheel.  All of that to say: I really like this fun app!

Goodreads – I had hoped that when Amazon bought Goodreads we would see some better cross-app integration, but alas – we have not.  Never the less, I do enjoy being able to go on my phone and update where I’m at in books and see what my friends (my daughter) are reading. This app helps keep me on track for my 2014 booklist.

YNAB – This is for the You Need A Budget budgeting program that we’re trying out.  It’s still not a perfect fit, but I like their app because you can see how much money you have in each category while you’re out and about spending money! This assumes you’ve updated your bank account and budget recently, which is something I TRY to do everyday, but I’m not always on top of it.  It’s a pretty app.

Path – I use Path a decent amount of time. I’d use it more if it’s notifications worked properly and I actually knew when I had new content. We use this privately for my parents and my siblings that have moved away. This is where all the pictures and topics that we don’t want everyone in the world’s 25 cents about. It works well for this, but like I said, I’d be closer to my family if it would tell me my niece or my brother posted.

One of my very favorite apps is my alarm clock. I don’t know if it’s the one that comes with my phone or what, but it just works great. Goes off every morning without fail! Go figure! 🙂 No, but really, it’s easy to set alarms and easy to use. You can even set it to make you do a puzzle in order to turn it off, ha ha!

I also use Brightest Flashlight, messaging program and navigation a lot, but those aren’t worth mentioning, except I just did.

One app that I do not use, but would love to is Gqueues. I use their website everyday, all day, to keep track off all the different things I’m doing. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to pay the $25.00 a year it takes to be able to use their app. The app would be the only reason I’d be upgrading, that’s a $25.00 app that expires! Yikes!

What are your favorite apps?

Happy Friday!