19 December 2013

the best kind of surprise

On Sunday, Pastor Bill talked about how much he loves to give gifts at Christmas.  He said he makes a list of all the gifts he gives and then numbers it.  He doesn't give any hints and has the kids open their packages in a certain order.  He talked about how great it is to see the anticipation on his loved ones' faces knowing that he's picked the right gifts for each one.

How much more does our Father enjoy giving us the right gifts at the right time?  He delights in giving us good things.

This confirmed for me all over again the goodness of the plans our God has for us.  The certainty that He has the just-right job for Brad once this Army stuff is all over.  Its boosted my confidence to wait for Him to give it, knowing He will give it at the right time.  Sometimes I feel like begging for hints.  Maybe just give me a sneak peek... like Christmases past when I would sneak into my dad's closet and try on my clothes... but then God gives us a week like this, with special moments downtown and a sneak peek at how He is at work in the details and His presence is just so near.  And I know.  I know His plans will be the best kind of surprise and they will be just right for us.  So we'll wait to unwrap that gift until the time is just right too.

Speaking of Christmas gifts, we had our Family Christmas this past Saturday.  It gives our boys time to play with their presents from us and gives us more space in the car (because we don't haul their gifts with us!).  We had a really nice day and I think 5 out of 6 of us stayed in jammies until bedtime when we put on fresh jammies for bed.  All of the boys were thrilled with their gifts from us and it was just a lovely day.  My heart is full and my burdens are light, my hands are open for the gifts He is giving this season.

Looking forward to our trek north and the word on the street is that we'll have a white Christmas; of course, we're more excited about seeing family than seeing snow {especially me, there's only a small slice of my being that is looking forward to snow - and only for the boys' sake!}

18 December 2013

pink sparkly shoes and the God who knows

When Brad and I walked in to the Department of Family & Children Services office yesterday, we were invited in to pray with part of the staff.  It was humbling and amazing and felt a little bit like holy ground... holding hands with state workers, praying on a Tuesday morning for at-risk children and the ones that work hard to love them well.  God is at work and we are so thrilled to be a part of it.

But we aren't a part of it alone.  So many of you have helped... and given so much more financially than we have.  I wish each of you could have been standing in the supply closet when the caseworker told Brad and I this story.

A little girl came into care last week.  She came at night with only her night clothes on.  In the morning she decided she wanted to go to school that day.  She picked out an outfit that fit her just right.  They found a necklace for her to wear.  There was even a jacket that fit her.  It even matched her outfit.  Then she looked at the shoe shelf and timidly asked if she could have the "pink sparkly shoes."  She had no shoes.   Of course, the "pink sparkly shoes" were her size too.  A caseworker fixed her hair nicely.  And she stood proud.  She was going to be late to school, but she r-e-a-l-l-y wanted to go now that she was all dressed.

When the caseworker picked her up at the end of the school day, she asked if anyone complimented her outfit.  She said the little girl flashed a big grin and said, "yes!"

I tried to keep the tears pooled up in my eyes as I listened.  I could picture this sweet little one who had been through who-knows-what in the night... standing taller and proud because she had a cute outfit on, pink sparkly shoes, and even a little bling around her neck.

It's a tiny piece in a huge, messy puzzle... but it matters.  Every item donated has a purpose, we pray for the kiddos that will wear these items.  I cannot thank you well enough.  I hope somehow you understand that your gifts to these kiddos help in ways we can't fully comprehend.  When you can't buy one of everything in every size {and I know some of you wish you could}, I do believe the Spirit leads you to buy what we'll be needing.

Everything this little girl needed was there - in her size.  He knew what this little girl needed, and prompted y'all to buy the bits and pieces to make up a whole outfit.

I stand in awe. Our God loves His little ones.

I'll add an updated needs list to this post shortly.  But I wanted to get the story written for those of you that have given.  I can't be certain, but its likely that this little girl walked out of that closet with items that were sent from Hawaii, Alabama, Illinois, Michigan and Fort Benning.  How awesome is that?

Here's the updated needs list!
 Remember, clothing items must be new.  Some sizes have either pants or a shirt but don't make a complete outfit... so feel free to buy bits or pieces, the outfits will come together perfectly. I am certain of it.

Here is a list of the shoe sizes we need as well:

Other items that are needed:
toiletries for older kiddos
like-new small toys, stuffed animals, balls, coloring books

As always... if you have ANY questions feel free to ask!  Thank you so very much for caring for these kiddos in crisis! 

09 December 2013

when you feel less-than

There is this one lie that exists in certain circles that makes my blood boil.  I get angsty and want to blurt and holler and cry all at once. 

Likely, because I thought that lie was true for awhile too.

I saw a familiar hurt last week as I listened to a discreet story.  The one about past sin that haunts.  Do you know it?

This lie lodges in - somewhere between confession and freedom - this lie that some sins are worse than others.  Some sins render you worthless, useless, broken for kingdom work -- that somehow you will always be less-than because of it.

If you've never heard this lie, and never believed it to be true; then you are probably shaking your head in disbelief.  Shocked that people fall for this junk.

If you are like me, you've battled this lie and by the power of the Holy Spirit you've won; but you haven't forgotten how heavy the weight of it is. 

Or if you are acquainted with that lie right now, if today it is lingering in your heart, then you might be thinking, "but you don't know what I've done."

It's true.  I don't.  I have no idea what you have done.

But I do know what God has done.

He won.

Sister, there is not one thing on this whole earth that you can do that He can't redeem.  Not. One. Thing.

There is not one sin that cancels out your potential for God's kingdom work.  Not. One. Sin.

The accuser would rather you remain feeling less-than.  Believing this lie that although you are forgiven you are broken, saved but sidelined.  But that is just not true.  The best way to battle a lie is with Truth.

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 NASB

The accuser wants to keep you cowering low.  But, sister, hear me.  You are free.  When you walk in your freedom the glory of God will shine through.  The accuser would hate for that to happen.  If you feel condemned, it is not from God.

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Romans 8:1 NASB

Deny the accuser a place in your thoughts.  Call him a liar and kick him out.  You have sisters cheering you on through tears, because we've been where you are.  Our deepest prayer is that you will know :: You are free. You are whole. You are redeemed.

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?  I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19 NASB

When He forgives, He does so in a way that our minds can barely comprehend. 

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." Psalm 103:11-13 NASB

You are not less than.  You are a child of God. 

02 December 2013

simple advent

Advent has begun! And I r-e-a-l-l-y just wanted to tell you about what we are doing this year... mostly because its low-key yet our guys love it.  None of these are original ideas of my own, just things pieced together to work for us. We do a pretty basic advent countdown calendar.  We hung our bags up Saturday night and the boys were quite delighted to find them.  Each bag has a sweet treat {usually a piece of candy for each boy}, an advent Scripture passage, and an activity.  The activities are generally things we do each December anyway but its more exciting when its in a bag I guess.  {Examples: Watch Rudolph, Go see lights at Calloway, Drive to Michigan, etc}

I wanted to tell you about it, though, because this year we also added a reading from the Jesus Storybook bible and we are loving it. 

We had the best discussion this morning at breakfast about how mind-boggling it is to think about "the beginning."  Such sweet treasure!  

As you can see, I used markers to number our bags, and randomly cut pieces of construction paper to write the details on.  You don't need to go all out or get crazy fancy.  {Or you totally can if you want to; but I want to assure those of you that feel behind that it is SO NOT about the level of fanciness!  I promise your kiddos will not care a bit.  Not a single boy murmured a word about me not using cute-scrapbook-paper for the numbers!}  You won't see a pin on Pinterest of these paper bags and that's ok.  This is just a simple way for us to slow down and connect each morning in December and help build the anticipation of our coming King.  If you don't have bags, use envelopes!  Or just put it on the counter in the morning.  Whatever! 

If you have The Jesus Storybook Bible it'll be easy to jump in today.  Click here for the list of readings. And guess what?  I just found out there is a printable there if you just want to print off the list.  Bonus!  {If you don't have The Jesus Storybook Bible you might want to add it to your Christmas list.  It is beautiful.}

If you want to read the other scriptures we are using this year, I found them right here.  I am sure there a bunch of places you can find advent readings.

This is really just for those of you that were hoping to do something for Advent this year but didn't get it together yet.  You can make it simple.  You can make it work for your family.  It doesn't have to win craft awards or be pin-worthy.  Keep it simple and enjoy your kiddos.  I promise you won't regret it.