Saturday, April 28, 2012


"Zacheus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.  He climbed up in the sycamore...Airplane!"

Wait a second.  That's not how the song goes!  Unless of course we are outside, Coralyn in her swing, and in the middle of the song she looks up and sees an airplane.  Then, she will point and shout enthusiastically that she has spotted an airplane.  It doesn't matter if the airplane is only a speck in the sky, Coralyn will see it.  And let us know that she has!  Seeing an airplane is quite exciting, apparently, as Coralyn screams with great delight every single time she spots one, which is at least 5 times a day.  I don't think an airplane flies over our house, or wherever we may be, without Coralyn seeing it.

I am pretty impressed with her eyesight, not to mention her attention to detail.  Not much gets by her, whether it be an airplane flying thousands of miles up in the sky or some off-handed comment I say or a random yard ornament or a letter on a road sign.  Coralyn notices them all. 

And remembers everything. 

I pray that  God uses this "talent" for His glory.  I hope Coralyn pays attention to those around her, taking heed to the needs of others -- especially the "small" ones that may go unnoticed by most.  I pray she points these needs out and illicites the help required to provide people with the food, clothing, water, shelter, compassion, mercy, and love they need.  I pray her heart is sensitive and responsive.  I pray God will give her eyes to see what He sees, to view people and situations the way He does, and then to love others with His love.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Coralyn asked me to read a Bible story to her today before her nap.  How could I refuse?

I opened up her Jesus Storybook Bible to the "passage" we were going to read tonight before bed.  It was so perfectly fitting for where I am at in life that we might just read it again this evening.

So what, pray tell, did we read?! :)

The parable of the hidden treasure from Matthew 13.  I especially liked the part where Jesus explained the story to the crowds.

Jesus said,
"Coming home to God is as wonderful as finding a treasure! 
You might have to dig before you find it. 
You might have to look before you see it. 
You might even have to give up everything you have to get it. 
But being where God is -- being in His kingdom -- that's more important than anything else in all the world. 
It's worth anything you have to give up!" 
Jesus told them.  "Because God is the real treasure."

So, so true. 

BUT...digging is a lot of work, hard work.  Hard work that takes time, lots of time.  And energy.

And looking isn't easy either, especially when you don't see anything right away.  Or you are looking through tears.  Or if you're in the dark and can't even see your own hand right in front of your face. 

Then, there's the "giving up everything you have" part.  In no way, shape, or form is that easy to swallow.  More like gagging on a nasty-tasting pill that's the size of Texas.

Thankfully, there is a bigger "but." 

But being where God is -- being in His kingdom -- that's more important than anything else in all the world.  It's worth anything (and everything, and more, and then some) you have to give up!

Jim Elliot said it well, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
And the thing is, Jim Elliot isn't famous for just coming up with this quote, but more so for living it out.  He gave his life here on earth so that others could receive the free gift of eternal life in Christ.  Then, to top it all off, his wife (widow!) forgave the men who killed Jim (and his colleagues), lived with them, and as a result saw their tribe transform from headhunters to Jesus followers.

Certainly, Jim Elliot is a wonderful example of a person who dug, looked, and gave up everything to have the treasure of knowing Jesus and living for Him no matter what the cost.  He's an inspiration.  His story encourages and challenges me to live "openly and expansively" for Christ (like Katie Davis did with her book).  I am sure I could find many, many more books about those who have made or are presently making sacrifices for the sake of God's kingdom.  But, the most compelling story is found in THE Book.  And the main character is God Himself, and His Son Jesus.

The Jesus Storybook Bible put it this way:
God had a treasure too, of course.
A treasure that was lost long, long ago.
What was God's treasure, His most important thing,
the thing God loved best in all the world?
God's treasure was His children!
It's why Jesus had come into the world.
To find God's treasure.
And pay the price to win them back.
And Jesus would do it -- even if it cost Him everything He had.

Can't get much more inspiring, and convicting, than that.  If God Himself was willing to give up everything for me, when I was still His enemy (according to Romans 5:6-11), then surely I should be willing to do the same in return.  Only, I think I get the better deal.  By far.  Jesus died.  I get to live.  Jesus took my guilt upon Himself and paid for my sins -- with His blood!  God now sees me through His Son's blood and I am declared innocent.  My sins are totally and completely forgiven. 

How can I NOT be willing to dig...even if I have to use my bare hands and get dirt under my fingernails.  Or get callouses.  Or dry, cracked skin that bleeds.

How can I NOT be willing to look...even if I don't see anything on the horizon for miles and miles.  Or it's pitch black and I can't even see my fingers wiggling in front of my own nose.

How can I NOT be willing to give up everything I have?  Jesus gave Himself for me.  I want to do the same for Him.

I'm not a lottery player or gambler by any stretch of the imagination.  I am, however, willing to bet that living openly and expansively for Christ, no matter the cost, is the best investment I could ever make.

And in so doing, I just might "lose" everything. 

But, really, I will have hit the jackpot!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

From the Mouths of Babes

"Are you getting old, Mommy?"  Coralyn asks me as we are getting ready to head out the door to do our grocery shopping.  I chuckled to myself, somewhat taken aback by my toddler's brash honesty.  I tried to figure out why in the world she would ask this, how this idea had been planted in her little sponge-like mind.  Oh yes, of course!  Last night I was reading some books to her and mentioned that I need to get my glasses so that I could see better.  I went on to explain more as a joke than anything, "My eyes need help seeing.  I'm gettting old!"  I should have known that Coralyn considered this remark a fact, one of which I apparently needed reminding, and not just an off-handed comment. 

Thankfully, Coralyn redeemed herself before we had even made the first stop of our grocery trip. 

As we pulled up to the stoplight and prepared to turn towards Wal-Mart (oh joy!), I saw a man in the median holding a sign that read, "Homeless.  Anything will help."  Sadly, my first thought was, "I wonder if he really is homeless or if he's just trying to scam people and make an easy buck or two."  Then, God reminded me that regardless of the man's situation, He had given me an opportunity to share the love of Christ, to live open and expansively as I wrote about just yesterday afternoon.  Not only that, but Coralyn would get to see this open and expansive love in action. 

And so, I pointed out the man to Coralyn and explained how he didn't have a house or a bed and might not even get to eat today.  I went on to say that we were going to do what we could to help him; we would buy him a lunch at Wal-Mart and then give it to him on our way to Hy-Vee.  I made sure she realized we were doing this because we love Jesus and want to show the man what God's love looks like.  I told her that when we handed the man his lunch, we would also let him know, "Jesus loves you!"

After I had finished describing our plan to Coralyn, she replied, "We love him."  I wanted to correct her, "Well, we don't really know him, so we don't actually love him.  But, we do love Jesus and Jesus loves that man."  But I realized that Coralyn didn't need correcting at all.  I did.  She was absolutely right.  If we love God, then we do love that man.  Sure, we don't know him from Adam.  We don't have to.  He is created in the image of God, and therefore, if we love God, we also love that man.

It's so much easier to just give him a ham and cheese sandwich, though.  Loving him, really truly loving him is much, much more difficult.  It costs more than $3.  It requires more time and effort than zipping my cart down the aisle, grabbing a "man-friendly" lunchable, rolling down my window, and handing the boxed lunch to the man, and driving away to go buy several bags full of food (not to mention all the groceries sitting in the back of my Yukon).  It means that I will pray for that man, as if I myself were in his place.  Homeless.  Hungry.  Thirsty.  Desperate. 

Dear Jesus,
Thank You for the opportunity to share Your love with that man.  Thank You for giving me a chance to live openly and expansively, as You have been challenging me to do.  I pray that You will take our small act of kindness and use it to bless that man in a huge way.  I don't know if he knows You or not, Jesus.  I pray that as he eats his ham and cheese sandwich, he will remember what I said, and believe it.  You love him.  I pray that You will not only fill his stomach, but also his heart.  I don't know if he has a house to go to, a place to stay tonight.  I don't know anything about him really.  But, You know him, and everything about him and his situation.  So, please take care of him.  Provide him with a job, a house, clothes, food, and whatever else he may need.  Through all this, please make Yourself known to him.  After all, You made him; he is Your child.  You love him.  And so do I.  Or at least I trying to.  Teach me to love him, really truly love him, and anyone else You place in my life.  Fill my heart with Your love and please continue to give me opportunities to share Your love openly and expansively.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Open and Expansive

I finished reading Kisses from Katie, finally.  It was such a good book.  I think I would have read it all in one sitting, if only my family didn't need me for a whole day.  It was probably best that I took a couple of weeks to read the book, though.  That way I had time to think about what I had read, chew on it, digest it.  You know, have my heart ripped out multiple times as I read story after story of how Katie encountered the hungry and hurting, the blind, the lame, the outcasts, those seemingly beyond help.  And how she stopped to help every single one that she could, one at a time.  And as a result, how she watched God do the impossible time after time after time.

I was so deeply convicted.  I am now trying to process all that I have read and learned.  My heart is broken, shredded and torn to pieces.  And I am left with a sense of urgency, a desperateness of sorts, to actually act, to do something, right now.  I have no idea what that something is.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I have plenty of ideas:
     *Foster parenting
     *Adopting, either through foster parenting or internationally, or both!
     *Going to Uganda and working with Kaite
     *Going anywhere to work with oprhaned, abandoned children and/or the poor
Seriously, if Lawrence said, "Let's move to Africa."  I would start packing my bags, immediately. 

BUT, that hasn't happened...yet!

So, for now at least, I need to think more locally.  Which means that this are viable options:
     *Participating in our church's monthly WOW projects
     *Donating clothes, toys, etc. to ministries like Love, Inc. or Hilcrest here in the Liberty area
     *Serving meals or interacting in some way with the homeless or those who struggle to meet their most basic needs of clothing, food, and shelter

Or, here's one for ya (for me) that doesn't even require me to leave my house:
     *PRAY for the missionaries I know, like really, truly pray for them
     *PRAY for my church, again, in earnestness (like I did for Baby Samuel)
     *PRAY for my friends, those in our small group and others from college (but most of those fall under the first category of missionaries, so I guess I can pray doubly for them!)
     *PRAY for my family, especially those who do not yet trust Christ as their Savior (I just started reading Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and am realizing how serious and important these prayers are!)
     *PRAY for my husband
     *PRAY for my girls, that above all they would know Jesus, love Him wholehearted, and live boldly and passionately for Him all of their days (which means I have to model this for them)

I guess I really do have quite a few ideas of what I can/could do.  Besides praying, I'm not sure exactly what God wants for/of me.  But I am ready and willing to do anything, anything that God would have me to do. 

I do believe, however, that it is going to be something BIG.  You know, God-sized.  Like, it could in no way happen without Him.  As in, people would see this and have to admit that God alone had done it, that it was all Him.  Not Sarah.  Not Lawrence.  Not the two of us together.  Oh no, just Jesus.  Like Katie writes, "We can't do it in our own strength or out of our own resources, but as we follow God to wherever He is leading us, He makes the impossible happen." 

And so, she challenged me to live openly and expansively, to give everything I have and all that I am for the sake of Christ.  She used Paul's words to the Corinthians to remind me that I need to trust God completely, to give Him free reign in my life, no matter the cost...because the reward is always worth it, making up -- usually in abudnace -- for anything I may have lost or given up.  She quoted the Message version of 2 Corinthians 6:10-13,
People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly...
in hard times, tough times, bad times;
when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed;
working hard working late, working without eating;
with pure heart, clear head, steady hand;
in gentleness, holiness, and honest love;
when we're telling the truth and when God's showing His power;
when we're doing our best setting things right;
when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored;
true to our word, though distrusted;
ignored by the world, but recognized by God;
terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead;
beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die;
 immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy;
 living on handouts, yet enriching many;
having nothing, having it all. 
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. 
We didn't fence you in.  The smallnesss you feel comes from within you. 
Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. 
I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. 
Open up your lives.  Live openly and expansively!  

Then, she shares her response, her life mission statement really.  "I want to give my life away for Christ.  I want to exemplify Him in my every day.  I want to live an open and expansive live, giving myself freely to all those around me for His glory.  God answers this prayer every day of my life with new opportunities.  I want to live openly and expansively, loving my neighbor as myself, until Jesus comes back."

Later, she reminds us, though, that this type of life is not possible in and of ourselves.  "We aren't really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus does that.  We are just called to love with abandon.  We are called to enter into our neighbors' sufferings and love them right there."  Simple, yes.  Scary, definitely!  Terrifying even.  But, also fulfilling...certainly!  Truly and deeply satisfying...absoulely!  Rewarding, no question about it!

And thus, I must agree with Katie. 
I, too, want to give my life away for Christ
To exemplify Him every single day. 
To live an open and expansive life,
To give myself freely to all those around me. 
For His glory.
Until Jesus comes back.

Like I said, at this point, I don't know exactly what all that entails.  Maybe it will mean checking into something I heard on K-Love today.  New Horizons for Children is looking for families to sponsor/host an orphaned child for 4-6 weeks this summer.  I have actually already looked at the website, as the announcement caught my attention, not to mention grabbed at my heart.  It's definitely a God-sized opportunity, as it would require us to raise almost $3,000 to pay for the child's travel and program expenses.

I did get a free "make-over" today to be entered into a Mary Kay contest.  The grand prize winner gets $5,000 to donate to the charity of their choice and then $2,500 for themselves!  If I do win, the $5,000 will go to Ponca Bible Camp, and I can't think of a better way to spend the $2,500 then on making it possible for an orphaned child to come to the United States and be part of a loving family for the summer

Like I said, lots of ideas.  But even more praying, as I try to wrap my mind around what I have read and learned, as I hand my heart over to God so that He can use me in whatever way HE thinks best.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kellah Grace at 4 Months

Seriously, another month has come and gone! And so, Kellah is now 4 months old.
She's been busy these past 4 weeks!
One of her bottom teeth is completely in, and it's neighbor just popped up today. Her top two teeth are just about to make their grand entrance, as well. In fact, you can see them underneath her gums. I think they just might come out, instead of down!!!
Showing off her new tooth!
Due to these new teeth, Kellah hasn't been that great of a sleeper at night
lately. She generally wakes up every 2 hours to nurse, but thankfully she doesn't dilly dally at all. Usually she's done in just 5 to t0 minutes, and back to bed I can go. They longest she's gone in one stretch this past week is 4 hours, and for some reason that's consistently been from around 2 am to 6 am!
Kellah's always liked to suck her thumb, but she is all about that now as she gets her teeth. And it's not just her thumb, but all her fingers that apparently help soothe those gums. We've started wearing bibs too now, as she went through 4 outfits the other day, before 9 am!
One of the few pictures I got, without her fingers in her mouth!
She's still the sweetest thing ever, even with all these new teeth. On most days, she's all smiles and laughs. She enjoys "talking" with me and copying sounds I make. I love when she starts giggling and waving her arms in excitement. When she does start to get tired, in goes the thumb, and if I catch it, I can lay her down in her crib and she'll go to sleep without a fuss!
Getting tired, so in goes the thumb.
Minutes later, she is fast asleep on her blanket in the living room.
If she doesn't have her fingers or thumb in her mouth, Kellah is chewing or sucking on a toy of some sorts. It's fun to hear her toys rattling in the car seat as she plays while we drive. She definitely does better in the car at this age than Coralyn did :)
Speaking of her big sister, Coralyn loves Kellah and has been so good to give her toys or read her books. Lately, though, Coralyn has been trying to roll Kellah over more, or even pick her up!!! Usually I can appease Coralyn's attempts at loving on her sister with the suggestion of hugs and kisses. This morning, I was able to capture some of these precious moments on camera!
Coralyn is having a hard time realizing that some of the things I am getting out now are just for Kellah and not her. Like the Bumbo seat, which Kellah really enjoys sitting in while I am making supper or cleaning up in the kitchen. Coralyn still thinks she can fit in the Bumbo and wants to make sure Kellah is taking turns with her! :) I wonder what Coralyn will do when I get the Johnny-Jump-Up out for Kellah to try! I did attempt to have Kellah play in the walker/exasaucer thingy the other day, but the poor thing was too little and head dived into the tray. Guess we'll have to wait a bit on that one.
Kellah is still a wee little thing. She weighs a whopping 11 pounds now! She is about 22.5 inches long. She's still in 0-3 month clothes, and some newborn stuff. A friend so kindly gave us some disospable newborn diapers that didn't fit her baby anymore, but they fit great on Kellah. We just used the last one yesterday! So now it's back to cloth...
Even though she's small, Kellah is trying to keep up with her big sister. She's been pulling on her blanket and wanting to move during tummy time. She's even tried kicking her legs or getting up on her toes. Coralyn never really did crawl on her hands and knees (just army crawled or rolled everywhere), so we'll see if Kellah does or not.
I'm not really sure what else to say about Kellah now that she's 4 months old. I love her to pieces, seemly more every day that I get to spend with her! I am so blessed to have two precious little girls who call me Mommy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Raining!

Kellah took an extra long nap today, so Coralyn and I have lots of quality time together this afternoon after she woke up from her nap.
We did some school stuff, read books, and made banana bread. Kellah was still snoozing away.
I mentioned that it was raining outside and that the rain would make things grow. Coralyn wanted to go outside and play, as she has every day lately. I told her we couldn't because it was raining and all muddy.
"I will wear my rain boots! Then my feet won't get muddy, Mommy." As she runs and puts her boots on.
But, it's kind of cold out, I explained, really not wanting to go outside and get all wet. Granted, it really wasn't raining all that much, but still...
"I can wear my rain coat, Mommy. Then I won't get cold." As she opens the closet door to show me where her rain coat is.
There's no stopping her. She had an answer for every excuse I gave. So, we got all decked out in rain gear and headed outside to play.
I introduced Coralyn to the concept of jumping in puddles.
She wasn't too sure at first.
She tentatively stepped in, one foot at a time.
Before long, though, she was jumping with both feet.
She had a blast.
I am glad that Coralyn was persistent and wouldn't take no for an answer. This time, at least.

Just for Laughs

Both of the girls are still napping, so I actually have more time than I anticipated this afternoon. Not complaining at all, and figured I could take a moment to write down some things Coralyn has done or said the past few days that have brought a smile to my face and at times tears to my eyes.
Lately, we have been spending a lot of time outside. Every spare moment, it would seem. And I love it! However, keeping Coralyn entertained while holding Kellah (looking out, how she likes) tends to be difficult at times. Coralyn has figured out that I can't really push her very well, or at least not like Grampy does, if I am holding Kellah. I also can't lift her up to hang on the swingy bar thing. Or put her on the teeter-totter type thing. Or help her up the last step of the ladder to her big slide. Or jump on the trampoline. Coralyn, smart little girl that she is, has figured out how to solve all of these problems. If I put Kellah in the baby swing, then my hands are free to do whatever Coralyn wants me to do with her! And so, Coralyn lets me know when Kellah wants to swing. :)
Coralyn also lets me know when Kellah wants her toy, or to take a nap, or to drink her milk, or roll over on her tummy, or get out of the Bumbo seat, or swim in the pool, or go play outside. Which brings us back to Coralyn informing me, "Mommy, Kellah wants to swing."
Yesterday, Coralyn didn't get many opportunities to help me know what Kellah wanted to do, because Kellah actually took a really, really good afternoon nap. Coralyn, on the other hand, decided that she wanted to "wake up." And so, I got to spend quite a bit of quality one-on-one time with Coralyn. After we finished her "school stuff," we were playing with her cards that her grandma gave her for Easter. One set was "Crazy Eggs," and I used it to help her recognize numbers. The other set was "Go Chick," and I had her find matching pairs, sort of like Memory only with the cards face up. After she found both carrots, I told her, "That's a match," and put the set of cards off to the side. Then I asked her, "Can you find another pair?" She looked intently at the cards, searching and searching. After a bit, she looked up at me, a bit confused and frustrated. "Mommy, there aren't any pears!"
Speaking of food, Coralyn loves to eat. One of her favorites, at least most days, is bananas. She used to eat bananas all the time, like 2 or 3 day if I would have let her. Now, she is content with just one banana, as long as it doesn't have any brown on it whatsoever! Any speck of brown is met with, "This one's yucky, Mommy! I want a good one." Or, the banana will pass her inspection and she will eat it, or part of it. "I want to save the rest for later," she informs me. Well, later, the banana has turned brown, of course, and is "yucky." And so she needs a new one. Not to waste bananas, I usually eat her "for later" bananas, as well as any brown parts she finds in the initial banana. Last night, after supper, I was cleaning up the dishes, and Coralyn was happily playing with her kitchen. She came over to me with a plastic lemon, but before she handed it to me, she pretended to take a bite. "It had a brown part, Mommy." Just to make sure I understood, I asked, "So you ate the brown part and the rest is for me?" "Yep!" So sweet!
Well, the big sister has awakened from her slumber, so I will have to pause for now and finish up the next time both girls work together and sleep simutaneously!
Okay, it's Friday morning at 8 am and both girls are still in bed. Granted, Coralyn woke up at 6:15 asking for breakfast, but when I offered her the chance to climb into bed with me for a bit, she took it. She's been fast asleep ever since! Uh, never mind. She just woke up. I guess I will have to wait a bit longer to get my thoughts onto virtual paper after all! :)
Nap time...Kellah is sleeping, and Coralyn is "resting" in her room. Let's see if I can actually get anything accomplished this go around.
One of Coralyn's latest phases is, "Watch this, Mommy!" Then, she will do something she thinks is worthy of my attention. Like pump her fists together. Or shut her eyes and make a funny noise. Or mimic exercise drill she saw me doing for the 30 Day Shred. And let me just say, her plank moves are pretty cute. As are her jumping jacks, squat jumps, and oblique twists. I do believe the time went faster when Coralyn did the workout video with me the other day. :)
Another phase Coralyn has been saying all too frequently these days is, "I'm just..." and fill in the blank based on the situation. For example, we're making muffins and I tell her not to eat any of the batter until after I have filled the bread pans. I go to get the pans and turn around to see Coralyn licking the spoon. "I'm just having a taste, Mommy," she explains oh so innocently. Or this morning I was feeding Kellah and I could hear Coralyn in the other room doing something with her spoon, and it wasn't eating her yogurt. I called out, "Please don't make a mess, please." Her reply, "I'm just making a road." On the table, with her yogurt, I assumed. Sure enough, when I came to investigate, I found a nice little trail of "white yogurt" all along the edge of the table. I think my favorite though is when I tell Coralyn, "Don't touch," as we're in the grocery store and she answers, "I'm just looking," while she picks up a box of fruit snacks or a jar of peanut butter or whatever else she can get her hands on. I don't think she fully grasps that you "look with your eyes," as my mother used to always tell me.
One last thing, and then I'm done. Especially since Coralyn just "woke up" and informed me that I want to "watch the news."
Every morning Coralyn gets a vitamin. This is new, as we had been doing a liquid vitamin thing that I would just add to her cup of milk or her yogurt. But now we have changed to a chewable vitamin, and she loves them! She only gets one a day, but she constantly asks for more, like they are a real treat! The vitamins are shaped like different wild animals. As I get down the bottle of vitamins, Coralyn always, without fail, will jump up and down as she asks with sheer excitement, "What should it be today, Mommy?" I always smile and hand her the vitamin, delighted that she is so enthusiastic about being healthy!
Well, like I said, Coralyn is done "resting" and so I am going to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some more quality one-on-one time with her while Kellah continues to be a sweet little angel and actually sleep! :)

Keep Telling Yourself That

I have so many thoughts running through my head today. I have lots of ideas for blog posts -- some serious, some hilarious. But, for now, they will all have to wait.

Instead of coming up with something original based on my own thoughts, which seemed to be a tangled, muddled mess anyway, I am going to do something I always told my students to never, ever do. I am going to plagiarize. God.

David's words in Psalm 103 spoke to me when I read them today, so I figured I would just let him do the talking since he said it so well already.

Praise the Lord, I tell myself;
with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, I tell myself
and never forget the good things He does for me.

It's easy to forget, especially when life is so busy and it seems like bad/hard things keep happening one after the other. So, let me refocus. What good things has God done for me that I need to remember?

He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He ransoms me from death
and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle's!

God isn't an old miser or scrooge who begrudingly gives me good things. Oh no, He lovingly and generously and lavishly pours out His blessings into my life.

The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
He revealed His character to Moses
and His deeds to the people of Israel.

Not only does He give me good things, but better yet, He gives me Himself! He reveals Himself and makes Himself known, in a variety of ways. How exactly, you may ask? David answers:

The Lord is merciful and gracious;
He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He has not punished us for all our sins,
nor does He deal with us as we deserve.

Thank goodness!

For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our rebellious acts
as far away from us as the east is from the west.

Reminds me of the song that speaks of how much God loves us, which was best displayed when Christ spread out His arms on the cross and showed us "just how far the east is from the west."

The Lord is like a father to His children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
For He understands how weak we are
He knows we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone --
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear Him.
His salvation extends to the children's children
of those who are faithful to His covenant,
of those who obey His commandments!

And it never changes in all that time.

The Lord has made the heavens His throne;
from there He rules over everything.

Oh, is that all?! Guess I do have plenty of reasons to praise God! I just have to keep telling myself that, over and over and over again. I guess David knew that I would need reminding, and so he ends his Psalm with this:

Praise the Lord, you angels of His,
you mighty creatures who carry out His plans
listening for each of His commands.
Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
who serve Him and do His will!
Praise the Lord, everything He has created,
everywhere in His kingdom.
As for me -- I, too, will praise the Lord.

And so, today, and every day, whether I feel like it or not, I will choose to praise God, to bless His name. I have found it helpful, today at least, to start singing the moment I start to get tense or frustrated or discouraged. I keep telling myself, "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad it!" or I sing over and over, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice!" or perhaps, "I've got joy, joy, joy down in my heart!" or even, "My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty. There's nothing my God cannot do!" As I sing, I am reminded of these truths and my perspective, and attitude, begins to change. I am able to refocus and set again my eyes on Christ so that I can "run with endurance the race that has been set before me."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kisses From Katie

After hearing so many good reviews of this book, I went to the library to check it out and read it for myself. Well, apparently, more than a few people had heard the same reviews and beat me to the library. I was put on quite a lengthly waiting list, and now, about four months later, I have the book in my hands.
I've just read the Forward and Introduction, and already, I have been challenged, moved, convicted, inspired, encouraged, and much more.
Here's some of what got me most:
"People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I've noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakeable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren't determined to revoluntionize the world all at once; they're satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world."
I remember when I first went to Haiti in 2005. I had just graduated from college and was full of spunk and energy. And I was naive. I thought that I was going to change the country of Haiti, or at least the education system! Oh my! After a few short days I realized this was going to be a much, much, much harder task than I had ever imagined. Just getting the teachers within our small ministry to do things differently was like eating nails. Not to mention having the children adjust to the new way of school and learning. I worked so hard, and saw so little change. BUT, I did see small improvements -- like a child using scissors correctly or not dumping the entire bottle of glitter during an art project. I did see progress happen ever so slowly, and rejoiced greatly every time -- like when my students could explain why ice melted or how they figured out how to divide 12 cookies among their 6 friends. But I wanted to do more than teach children how to use art supplies and do math problems. Eventually, I had to accept that I wasn't going to change the education system, let alone the entire country of Haiti. However, I didn't give up either. Instead, I focused on what I could do. I could love the children in the ministry. I could teach them how to play soccer, make pizza and chocolate chip cookies, use a glue stick properly, add and subtract, and things along those lines. I could let 5 different girls braid my hair, all at the same time! And by doing these "little" things, I was changing the country of Haiti. I was just doing it one child at a time.
In the Foreward, Beth Clark reminded me of this. She also inspired me to think of ways that I can make a difference right here, right now. Her words both challenged and encouraged me.
So did Katie's message in the Introduction to her book. Everything she has said thus far has been so good. I want to copy and paste all 5 pages, but I will try to limit myself to just a few select passages.
Like this one:
"And the fact that I loved Jesus was beginning to interfere with the plans I once had for my life and certainly with the plans others had for me. My heart had been apprehended by a great love, a love that compelled me to live differently...As I read and learned more and more of what Jesus said, I liked the lifestyle I saw around me less and less. I began to realize that God wanted more from me, and I wanted more of Him. He began to grow in me a desire to live intentionally, and different from anyone I had ever known."
And this one:
"So I quit my life...I no longer have all the things the world says are important. I do not have a retirement fund; I do not even have electricity some days. But I have everything I know is important. I have a joy and a peace that are unimaginable and can come only form a place better than this earth. I cannot fathom being happier. Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to pieces, and put it back together more beautifully."
Then, there's this:
"Sometimes working in a Third World country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eyedropper...I have learned to be okay with this feeling because I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person...And if one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. In fact, it is worth spending my life for."
Katie addresses the issue of "being safe" and reminds us, "Jesus called His followers to be a lot of things, but I have yet to find where He warned us to be safe. We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us. And there is no better place to be than in His hands."
She also writes about how she isn't living out her dreams, or at least what she originally planned or thought were her dreams. Why not? God has changed her dreams into His dreams for her, her plans into His plans. And so she can say with utter confidence that she is now living out the desires of her heart and couldn't be happier, as David promised in Psalm 37:4, one of Katie's favorite passages of Scripture.
So she must have the perfect life, right? Things must be so easy for Katie now that she is making a difference and changing the world, right? WRONG! She assures us, "It sounds beautiful, adventurous, even romantic in ways, right? It is beautiful. And the crazy thing is, it is so simple. Don't misunderstand: it is NOT easy. But is is simple in that each and every one of us was ultimaely created to do the same thing. It will not look the same. It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible. Some days it is excruciatingly difficult, but the blessings far outweigh the hardships."
And that's just the introduction to the book. I haven't even started Chapter One!!! As everyone who read this book before me said, I think this will change my life, or how I live it. And that is exactly what I want, what I need.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Is Risen!

Some of my favorite pictures of this beautiful Easter weekend!
Family shot before church
Just us girls
Daddy and his girlies
The girls sporting their Butterfly Shirts I made (with Mom's help)
Showing off her "My First Easter" bib
Coralyn showing off her name bracelet
Kellah with her Easter basket
Coralyn with her Easter basket
Another famliy picture before the Easter Egg Hunt
Coralyn finding her eggs
Going down the slide to find even more eggs
Kellah found all her eggs
Having fun on her blanket

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Great Awakening

Last night we attended the memorial service for Baby Samuel. As in most cases at Desperation Church, things were a bit different. This memorial service was like none I had ever been to before.

During the visitation time, there was a slideshow going with pictures of Samuel and the Allen family interpersed with messages from people who had written to share how Baby Samuel had impacted them during his short time on this earth.

Then, once the actual service began, one of our pastors shared a brief summary of Samuel's life. He explained how the Allen's family utmost desire was for God to be glorified and for all of us to use the momentum Samuel's life stirred up to keep seeking after God with an earnestness and passion and a sense of urgency. What better way to do that then to come together and worship our Jesus?! And so, for the next hour we sang our hearts out.

Not just any songs either, but serious praise songs. Songs that helped us remember that God is indeed good and that we can trust Him at all times. Songs like "It Is Well with My Soul" and "How Great Is Our God."

After every few songs, a Scripture passage would be on the screen for us to meditate on. Verses like Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." And then Lamentations 3:32-33, "Though He briefs grief, He will bring compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring grief or affliction to anyone."

It wasn't a part of the service, but I this reminded me of another passage earlier in Lamentations, "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."

Next, we sang "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?" The words were so fitting, for many reasons: They speak of Jesus Christ, the risen one, and here we are just days from Easter. They tell of people all over the world raising up to praise Jesus, which is exactly what happened because of Samuel's life. They remind us that God is at work; He is moving; He will prevail over Satan and all his evil schemes!

So yes, shout it out:

Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of Jesus Christ the risen one
Did you feel the people tremble?
Did you hear the singers roar?
When the lost began to sing of Jesus Christ the risen one
And we can see that God you're moving
A mighty river through the nations
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord
Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope
Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice
Did you feel the darkness tremble?
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokeness
And here we see that God you're moving
A time of Jubilee is coming
When young and old return to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord
That's right, Satan. You thought this situation would cause us to turn against God, to doubt Him, to question His love for us. You schemed and plotted, just like you did with Job so long ago. Well, you should have remembered out that worked out for ya! You tried the same sneaky, dirty trick when Stephen was matyred, thinking you would put a stop to the spread of the gospel. Once again you were dead wrong! The believers fled, but they took the good news of Jesus' love with them, and more people than ever before trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior. You should have learned by now that your plans never work.
They will always fail.
You will always lose.
Just like you did today!
So take that, Satan. Punch him in the face. Then in the ribs. Now, GO AWAY! Kicking him one last time, just for good measure. AND DON'T COME BACK!
At least that is what I was thinking as I sang the song.
God seemed to confirm my thoughts as I read Psalm 98 this morning.
Sing a new song to the Lord,
for he has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory;
his holy arm has shown his saving power!
The Lord has announced his victory
and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!
He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.
The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
1 Samuel 1:28 was on the screen after that, "So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.
Then, we sang "I Lay It Before You," and I watched as Grace (Samuel's mom) moved to the back of the room and literally laid it all before the Lord. She danced for her Savior, arms lifted, her beautiful voice raised, as she gave all her pain to Jesus, as she trusted Him with all that has happened. I lost it. I was already crying, but I was deeply, deeply moved. If Grace, who just lost her 3 week old son, can sing those words with sincerity, then surely I can too.
"You Never Let Go" was next. So good to be reminded that even when things are so hard, and it feels like you are free falling, about ready to land on the jagged rocks below, that God has not let go of you, that He never will. I have to trust that God has a plan in all of this, a purpose that is beyond what I can see and understand at the moment. I have to believe that He will indeed "finish this good work that He began" and "work everything out for good." Those verses seem so cliche at a time like this, but I know they are true. But that doesn't make it any easier right now, in the midst of the pain and heartache. And so we wait, and watch, for God to reveal Himself. When He does, we will be blown away.
Psalm 46:1 promises and reassures us, "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble."
Knowing this, and believing it, we can sing, "We Will Worship You." Again, I lost it. As I was singing, pouring my heart out to God, I looked down and there beside me was Coralyn doing the same thing. She had her arms lifted up, and she was praising Jesus right along with us as she too sang, "I will worship."
Right after that we sang, "Here in Your Presence," and once again the words were so fitting. As we came into God's presence, through song, I couldn't help but think of how Baby Samuel is the physical presence of God, sitting on Jesus' lap listening to us sing. Oh yes, Heaven and Earth have become one. And all things are new; Samuel has been given a new body and is completely healed, in every way.
Found in Your hands, fullness of joy
Every fear suddenly wiped away
here in Your presence
All of my gains now fade away
Every crown no longer on display,
here in Your presence
Heaven is trembling in awe of Your wonders
The kings and their kingdom arestanding amazed
Here in Your presence, we are undone
Here in Your presence,
Heaven and Earth become one
Here in Your presence, all things are new
Here in Your presence, everything bows before You
Wonderful, beautiful, glorious, matchless in every way
Wonderful, beautiful, glorious, matchlessin every way
With this in mind, we can believe what David wrote in Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
And we can sing, "Oh How He Loves Us."
We ended the service with the reminder once again that "You Never Let Go."
Then, we all headed outside to the front lawn. Each of us were given a balloon, which we would release all together in just a moment. I had heard of that before, but this was different and special. Inside each balloon was a seed, so that when the balloons landed and popped, the seed would take root and a new life would begin. It was symbolic of what the Allens wanted more than anything: for Samuel's legacy to bring about a "Great Awakening" as people turned to God for the first time or renewed their love for Him and begin to live for Him in a radical, all-out way.
Right before we let go of our balloons, Grace shared how she had prayed over and over again for God to "wake Samuel up," and He kept answering her, "Look at how many people I am waking up." Because of Samuel, people came to God, desperate for Him to act. Our faith was strengthened. We grew bold. We sensed our total need for Jesus. We grew closer as a family of believers. So many good things happened. God did indeed wake us up! And the Allens pray that we will never never go back, that we won't go back to sleep, now that Samuel isn't with us.
Romans 13:11-12 challenge us, "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
As Paul also reminded us in Ephesians,
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Samuel, even in his short life, was a mighty warrior for our God. He came ready for war. He was born to do battle, and he fought hard on the front lines. And he won a huge victory for the Lord. Fittingly, a friend of the Allen family painted a picture with Samuel dressed in his armor.
May we learn from this precious little boy. May we follow his example.
May we:
"Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on all of God’s armor
so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,
but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,
against mighty powers in this dark world,
and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor
so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground,
putting on the belt of truth
and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News
so that you will be fully prepared.
In addition to all of these,
hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Half Way to Five

Coralyn is officially 2 and a half years old today! little girl is growing up so fast!
This precious child brings me so much joy and can make me laugh so hard sometimes! And of course, at other times, she can make me so mad and frustrated. But I wouldn't trade her for the world.
Speaking of the we were getting into our car in the Aldi parking lot, and out of nowhere Coralyn announces matter of factly, "Mommy, there's China," as she points towards an empty lot and closed down computer store. We've been learning the letter J this week, and J is for jungle, so I thought perhaps she meant the trees and such in the empty lot resembled a jungle. I guess there are jungles in China; that's where the Panda Bears live anyway. I was so off track though. As I took a closer look at our surroundings, I noticed there was a picture of the world on a clothing donation bin. That -- the picture of the world -- was China! Of course! After all, I had told her China was on the other side of the world!!! She also associates the moon being in China during the day when it's on the other side of the world! Or if she sees an airplane in the sky, and I ask her where it might be going, she usually answers, "China."
Trains, however, are almost always headed to the zoo. Why the zoo? Because when we ride the tram over to the Africa section, we pass over train tracks. So of course, train tracks lead to the zoo! Where else would they be going?! :)
Coralyn has an extremely good memory. I think if you tell her something one time, even in passing, she remembers it, forever. For example, the first time Lawrence was helping her get her swimsuit on, he mentioned it might be a little bit tricky. It was her first one-piece and so she had to step in the legs and then pull up the body part, and then finally slip her arms through and get the straps on her shoulders. Every single time since then, whenever we get her swimsuit on she explains, "It's a little bit tricky."
She also has an amazing sense of direction (which she most definitely has to have gotten from Lawrence and not me!). She could tell you how to get to the library: across the street, pass the fire station, up the hill, and then you're at the library. From there, she knows how to get to church, and loves announcing that church is on her side as we pull into the parking lot! Backing up to the point where you would cross the street to go on to the library or church, she knows if you turn right you can get to the Community Center (aka Swimming Pool) and Kinsey's house.
Coralyn with Kinsey at the park
Even more impressive though, is when we are driving along and she knows where to turn to get to Lawrence's gym -- you have to go over the highway, down other road and wind your way to the gym! Seriously!!! And lately, she points out Worlds of Fun when we are still miles away. She apparently has great eyesight as she notices the "Rollercoasters!" the very second they appear in the horizon! That announcement is usually followed by, "When I'm older, I'm going to ride the rollercoasters."
She's also going to ride a school bus when she is older. And go to high school, which we pass on our way to Chick-fil-A and Hy-Vee. She definitely knows those two places well! Chick-fil-A means storytime with Miss Julie, and Hy-Vee means several things: cheese would the be most important, followed by a car cart, and then free samples. I was so confused one day as we pulled into Hy-Vee, and Coralyn shouted out that she wanted a cookie. She has no idea that places like Wal-Mart and Price Chopper and perhaps Hy-Vee too give free cookies to little kids. She only knows the deli gives a free slice of cheese, which she is very prompt to remind me about, over and over and over again. But a cookie? Oh yes, in the organic health food section there are almost always samples of mini sunflower seed cookies. I should have remembered...
While on the topic of remembering, Coralyn can remember exactly what happens in a book, after we have read it one time. If I am busy with Kellah and can't, "Read this book, Mommy," I have Coralyn read it to herself. She will sit there and repeat the story, almost verbatim to the real text. She's really likig Curious George books right now, and if she watches an episode of Curious George on Netflix, she is super quick to point out, "Just like the book, Mommy!" The same goes for anything she sees on Diego. When we go to the zoo, she knows the specific names of animals like emus, red-eyed tree frogs, organutans, and so on. She also recognizes the difference between a turtle and tortoise!
If the girl doesn't have her head in a book, she is probably singing a song. She sings songs that I have taught her, and thus she usually sings off key, much to Lawrence's disappointment :) Or she will make up her own songs. I love listening to her sing to her animals -- all 27 of them it seems -- at nap time. And every night we have to sing her three favorites: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star which leads into Away in a Manager (the stars looking down at Baby Jesus must be the same!), and then we end with "Wee Little Man." But with her memory, I am afraid that this list is going to get longer and longer over time. The other day she requested, "Round and Round" (which is about David and the stone that killed Goliath). I had just introduced that one the day before when we were in the car on the way home from the zoo. To keep her from getting grumpy and waking up a peacefully sleeping Kellah, I started to sing songs with Coralyn. "Another one, Mommy!" the second we would finish each song. After about 30 minutes of non-stop singing, I was running out of songs! And another frequent request lately has been "Larry" which means Veggie Tales, as we recently found it on Netflix. She started singing, "Keep Marching" the other day when she saw the picture of Joshua and Jericho in her Storybook Bible.
Her knowledge of the Bible and things related to God and Jesus is growing as well, which blesses my heart to no end. Each week when we learn a letter, we memorize a short Bible verse to go along with it. She can quote them all from A to J, with very little help! I play the "So Big" game with Kellah, but I change it to "This Much" and ask her, "How much does Mommy love Kellah?" and then stretch out her ams as I say, "This Much!" We always end with, "How much does Jesus lvoe Kellah?" and I make the "This Much" even bigger, and louder. I then remind the girls, "Jesus loves you the most." So now when I ask Coralyn, "Who loves you the most?" She doesn't even hesitate before saying, "Jesus!" Well...sometimes she will be honery, and smile when she answers, "Not Jesus!" She surprised me the other day when I asked her, "How do we know God loves us," and she aptly repsonded, "because Jesus died on the cross." I love that she was reading her Bible all on her own the other day during nap time. At that point I was delighted she wasn't sleeping! :) I also enjoy hearing her pray, "Amen. Thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for the new day. Thank you for the food. Amen." No matter what meal, or what time of day, that's the prayer Coralyn will pray. I can't wait for the day she prays to tell Jesus she trusts Him as her Savior!!!
"What else?" As Coralyn would say. She tends to try to enlongate our bedtime conversations so she can stay up just a little longer. So, when we go through everything we did that day, she always asks, "What else?" She does the same thing when we talk about all that we are going to do tomorrow when she wakes up. "And what else, Mommy?" no matter how many things I have already mentioned!
So, what else? Oh, yes. She now does a good job of telling people her name when they meet her for the first time. Coralyn can also inform them that she is 2 years old and that her birthday is on October 6. To go a little farther, I've started working on her with our address. When I ask her, "Where do you live?" She answers, "The United States." So I agree and then try to get a bit closer to home and explain that we live in "Liberty, Missouri," which she can now tell you herself. A few days ago she even told me our address when I questioned her on that. I had been going through the questions: What's your name? How old are you? Where do you live? What's your address? and I guess she caught on lots faster than I expected. I should have known though, with that memory of hers!
It does scare me in some aspects! She is very good at repeating exactly what I say and how I say it. I got frustrated the other day and exclaimed, "Darn it!" annoyed at myself for whatever it was I had done or forgotten to do. Without skipping a beat, Coralyn mimicked, "Darn it!" She did the same thing with "Holy Moly," "URGH!," and "Let's go, people!" Yeah, now every time we have to stop and wait at a red light, Coralyn shouts out, "Go people, go!" much the same way that I do when the person in front of me doesn't respond to a green light as quickly as I would like. :)
A few other accomplishments:
*She knows most of her letters. Lawrence brought home a sheet used for Kindergarten Round-up, and did identified all but a few. She will point out letters on signs when we are driving. "Chick-fil-A starts with a C like me, Mommy!" was one of her most recent discoveries.
*She can count to thirteen, and then jumps to eighteen, and then eleventeen! :)
*She knows her basic shapes, and all her colors.
*She can get dressed on her own, when she wants to. She can put boots on by herself, and thus LOVES wearing her pink rain boots, ALL the time. Who cares if it's not actually raining outside?! She also seems to think that stickers are a great accessory!
And some of her favorites:
*She LOVES to eat, especially white yogurt (as she calls it) and peanut butter sandwiches. If I ask her what she wants to eat, it's usually one of those two things, or both! But make sure you put "so much" peanut butter on her sandwich.
*She really like animals and going to the zoo. We have gone so many times that she is now convinced tigers and monkeys and such live at the zoo, not in jungles or forests or such.
*She also likes going to church. "There's Miss Jeanne's car!" she will point out as we pull into the parking lot. She loves Jeanne (and so do I!). She also knows that church means animal crackers, goldfish, and other snacks that she never gets at home. When we are in the grocery store, she sees those boxes and announces, "I have those at church, Mommy!"
*She LOVES to be outside, no matter what the weather. She likes playing at the park, jumping on the trampoline, picking flowers, and anything else that involves being outside.
Coralyn is a super big sister, and friend. She remembers all the activities we do with our various friends and then thinks that the next time we go to the zoo or park or wherever, that those same friends should be there again.
Coralyn and Adi at the zoo
When we get ready to go somewhere, she will get excited, "Me, and Mommy, and Kellah, and Daddy, and me, and Kellah!" She might repeat our names several times, just to make sure we are all going to be there to get in on the fun. One of her favorite "trips" to make is into the big city (Kansas City) to go to the "big city library" (the Plaza Branch). If someone tries to come near Kellah or worse yet actually touch her, Coralyn is quite quick to act and wants to protect her little sister. She is good about bringing her toys, but doesn't always understand the concept of sharing her toys with her little sister. Of course, it's perfectly fine for her to play with Kellah's toys, though. I recenlty got out the Bumbo Seat for Kellah to use, and now Coralyn is all about sitting in it, even though she gets stuck!
Oh, yes, my little girl is definitely growing up! If I misspeak and call her little, Coralyn is very quick to remind me, "No, I"m a big girl!" She might even add, "I'm getting bigger and bigger and bigger," or "I'm so big!" stretching out her arms like I do with Kellah. I love my Coralyn to pieces and am so blessed to be her mommy. I am so very thankful for the past two and a half years with her. I pray we have many more years ahead of us to make more special memories together.
At my cousin's wedding

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pray for the Entire World

Yesterday, I mentioned that David Platt ended his book Radical with the challenge to partake in a one-year experiment. The plan includes five components, which will provide pratical ways for you to live boldly, radically, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The first step is to pray for the entire world.
If you are like me, you have trouble praying for your closest family members and friends on a daily basis. At least something more than, "God, please be with so-and-so," or, "Father, please guide and direct them," or maybe even, "Jesus, make Yourself known in their lives today." I think what Platt has in mind is a little bit more earnest than that. So, how I am going to pray for the entire world when I can't even manage serious prayer for the people I actually see every day?
Platt suggests using a wonderful resource, the book called Operation World.
Each day you read about a different country and learn what the specific prayer needs are for the people there. I used this book when I taught 5th grade. Every morning we would skim over the facts about the country for the day, find it on the map, discuss the prayer requests, and then pray for God to be made known in that country. Since I became a stay-at-home mom, all my school stuff got put away in boxes in our storage area downstairs. It's past time for me to go dig out that book, brush off the dust, and start using it once again. I think it would be fun to get a huge black and white world map as well. We could post in somewhere in the house. Then, as we pray for a country, we could color it in and watch our world grow more beautiful throughout the year. Kind of symbolic of what can happen as we pray for the entire world: God will hear our prayers and act; the gospel will spread; people will come to know Jesus, and they will experience life abundantly.
While praying for the entire world can seem quite overwhelming at first glance, if you break it down and just take it one day, one country, at a time, it's really not that hard at all.
Plus, Platt explains, as you pray for people around the world, you will develop a heart for the nations. As you learn about people who don't know about Jesus, you will be motivated to share the gospel with them, or make it possible for others to do so. This is where it gets radical. You move from "simply" praying for the entire world, to actually going into all the world.
Right about now, my mom is going to pick up the phone and call me to see if we are planning on moving overseas and taking her precious granddaughters with us. Not yet...
We are certainly open to leaving the United States and serving God wherever He leads us. While we are more than willing to go, we haven't felt like God is calling us to pack up and move out this instant. (Insert huge sigh of relief from the grandparents.) He hasn't shown us that path yet, and so we just keep following Him one step at at a time. If He does lay a specific place or people group on our heart, we will walk through any door He opens. (Now all the grandparents are praying that He wants us right where we are, forever.)
Once again, this is where the rubber meets the road, where the going gets tough (pun intended). And as they say, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."
But it's not safe. What if something happens to you? What about your children? They're so young; you don't want to put them in any sort of danger.
Life won't be easy. You'll have to give up the things you are used to here in the States. What about doctors? What about safe drinking water and electricity and paved roads?
Lots of reasons not to go. Excuses, really. But "reasons" is more politically correct.
Platt takes all those reasons, excuses, and turns them back on the people who question the practicality and safety of going.
It's not safe. Jesus never said following Him would be easy, let alone safe. In fact, He promised hardship, persecution even, for those who believe in Him. And what if something does happen to you, or your children? If you don't go, if you don't take the gospel to the nations, then it's guarnateed something is going to happen to the people who never hear of Jesus. They will spend eternity in hell. Now that's dangerous!
Life won't be easy. What's more important, our personal comfort now or people's eternal destiny? If giving up electricity and running water and paved roads, or whatever else, means that people come to know Jesus, then I think the "sacrifice" is worthwhile. Platt shared multiple stories of missionaries who not only gave up modern conveniences, but risked their very lives, to share the gospel. Many did indeed die. Take Jim Elliot, for example. However, their deaths were not in vain. As a result of their sacrifice, others gained life, eternal life, as they trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Well, Kellah woke up from her nap, so I guess I will have to stop here. And later today, I'll have to find that book so we can start using it tonight. As we begin to pray for the entire world, and start living more radically for Jesus, who knows where our journey will take us?

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