Friday, April 22, 2011

Only One Friday is Good

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

-- Hebrews 12:2

Today I am reminded of how unworthy I am to be called a child of God. It's not fair that my King died for me on the cross 2,000 years ago. It's not fair that He who was perfect took my place. Your place.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
--Romans 5.8
He didn't wait until we were clean. He died for us while we were still sinners so we could be clean. And even though I let Him down and turn my back on Him. Even though I insist on trying it my way first. Even though I am less than unworthy.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

--John 3.16

God loved me so much that He gave His only Son, His perfect spotless Lamb, to take my place. He loves me unconditionally. He loves you unconditionally.

And it's not fair.

But the beauty of grace is it makes life not fair.

To say "thank you" is not enough. That's why I give my life to Him and hope to claim as Paul did,

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

--1 Peter 4.13

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday: A Tough God

The past couple months have been a sort of roller coaster ride for me spiritually and emotionally. I feel like God's been vamping up the hard lessons and trying to teach me something... just not sure exactly what. Just being a bit transparent here.

Today I'm thankful for a tough God. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

I'm thankful for a God who doesn't back down on right and wrong and isn't afraid to discipline. Now that Elliott is at the age where he's making conscious decisions about what's right and wrong, we've entered the world of discipline [OK, maybe we've been there for several months now]... and it's much harder than I anticipated! Even after he does something wrong, when he looks up at me with those big blue eyes and little smirk, he's just so darn cute! But I know that as a parent it's my responsibility to love him enough to discipline. I've failed a time or two when he's had those big tears rolling down his face, but I'm so glad to know that God loves us so much, He disciplines exactly how we need it, exactly when we need it... and then He's there to wipe our tears and help us take the next step in the right direction.

I'm also thankful for a tough God who is powerful enough to pull us through the tough times. Monday was one of the most frightening days of my life. After lunch with Richard, I had an allergic reaction that landed me in the ER. I've never had to go to the ER for anything and I'd be OK if I never had to go back. At one point, I remember thinking that I was going to die and I just asked God to pull me through. I had this strange peace and even though I still thought it might be the end, it was good to know that I serve a God that has the power to choose... and what He chooses is always what's best.

He's also a God who can handle when we turn our back on Him. He's tough enough to stick with us, even when we act like we don't want Him. I can't imagine having that sort of resilience if the person I loved and had given my only son for treated me like that. So many times I ignore Him or try it my way when He's trying to show me what's best. It's like slapping Him in the face. But every time I find that I'm at the end of my rope, when I turn back around,  He's right there waiting for me.

He's a tough God. And He's good like that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Servants of God

This morning I woke up and I thought it was Saturday. But it's not. It's Thursday.

I came in to work today and I sat at my desk and pulled up our blog. I saw that there was a new post by Katie, a missionary to Uganda. I don't know Katie and the only way I know about her blog is through a friend who recommended we read it.

I had something else in mind for my "Thankful Thursday" post, but when I finished reading her blog, with tears in my eyes, I decided that what I am truly thankful for today is servants of God. People who are willing to give up their cushy lives here in the US of A and do exactly what she's doing.

And I just pray that even before we get to the field full time, I can learn to have a servants heart like she does so that when we are there, I can see things as she describes and not through my tainted American eyes.

I don't want to try to explain it. Just read it:

[Photo from]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Trying to Out-Give God

Sounds ridiculous to try to out-give God, right?

It is.

But it's also fun to try!

This past month we've been trying to get rid of a lot of stuff, including a lot of Elliott's baby things he has outgrown. Most people would say to hold on to it all since we plan to have another child in the future, but we hope and pray to be in Brazil by that point so we won't be bringing it all with us anyway. So we were able to give most of his big items to a family at our church who just had a PRECIOUS baby boy. We were so glad that we were able to be a blessing to them.

We could have sold the items and gotten a little money to buy E some shoes and a couple of other things that he "needs" but we decided to see how God would take care of us.

The next week, He gave us $460 that we weren't expecting. The items we gave wouldn't have been worth that if we had sold them. OUTDONE!

For E's birthday, instead of gifts we asked everyone to purchase a gift card or give a donation to a single mom of four at our church that has had a rough go for a while now. If I told you the story of what this family has been through, you'd think I was making it up. Anyway, we decided it would be much better to give to this family rather than have a ton of toys that Elliott would only play with for a few minutes or some clothes he would outrgrow in the next few months. Thanks to the generosity of those at the party, we raised $300 for this family! Praise the Lord!

So what happened next? Also while at the party, someone gave us a gift of $300. OUTDONE again!

So what's the lesson I've learned? Give, give, give! Don't give so you will get, but give freely from a joyful heart and you will no doubt watch as God moves in ways above and beyond what you would have imagined. He's good like that.

And when He blesses you again... give some more!

"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20.35

[Disclaimer: We are not implying that by giving, you will automatically receive or that you should give for the purpose of receiving. We just want to share how God has blessed us recently and give Him the glory. He is good and He is faithful, all the time... even if He doesn't provide like we think He should!]

Elliott devouring his cake at his first b-day party!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Confessions of a Not-So-Super-Mom: Part Dos

Kind person: Here you go, Ashley. Elliott's paci fell on the floor.
Me: Oh, thank you. *takes paci, checks for hair and/or visible dirt, shrugs, gives it to Elliott* It'll build his immune system.
Kind person: *look of shock*

That's a good way to summarize my first year of parenting. 

As I reflect over the past year I'm reminded of something: I'm not a super mom.

You know what I'm talking about. Those moms who have it all together with their paci-wipes and phenomenal diaper changing skills [cloth only please] that put the seasoned daycare worker to shame and schedules that are precise down to the minute. The ones who breastfeed for at least the first year if not the second [more power to them, by the way!] and know all the dos and don'ts of parenting because they read every book and article they could find before baby arrived [and they'll be happy to share some advice if you want... or even if you don't]. They read at least five books a night to their child and know exactly which toys are appropriate for their age to stimulate their ever-growing brain. They don't miss a routine visit to the pediatrician and could recite the vaccine schedule to you if you'd like to jot it down. 

I'm not that mom.

I'm the one who can't for the life of me remember to pack everything I need. More than once [ok, MANY times] I've had to stop at the closest Wal-Mart or CVS to get the most basic of supplies that my diaper bag has lacked. Bottles, diapers, wipes... you know name it, I've forgotten it. So you can bet there wasn't a paci wipe within reach.

I looked like [and felt like] a deer in the headlights at least the first three months as I fumbled about changing diapers, sometimes 3 or 4 within a 5 minute span, getting sprayed in the face and mixing bottles [yes, formula] and trying to remember if I had scheduled that appointment....

I work full time so after six weeks of trying to figure out what in the world I was supposed to do with this crying, pooping, sleep-all-day-up-all-night little bundle of goodness, I was back at the workplace trying to now figure out how to function on no sleep and be decent employee and maintain my wife and motherly duties.

The items on my plate had multiplied but for some reason the plate itself was the same size.

I could have probably filled a small swimming pool with the tears that I cried those first few months. I just knew that this kid was going to be warped for life. How could he not be? After all, some nights I was so exhausted I didn't give him a bath or *gasp* read one book, much less five. I quit breastfeeding after one month and had to experiment to get the right formula for his little tummy.

To top it all off, fast forward to 5.5 months and we're traveling internationally with him to the Jung|e. Before he reached one he had been to four countries outside the US, all of which were third world. He's been passed around Indian villages and ridden backseat in our laps in a taxi more times than I can count. He's played in mud and eaten leaves and torn butterflies in half. He's a very ambitious boy and has the bumps and bruises to prove it.


I think I'm the most unconventional mom I know. The first kid is just trial and error anyway, right??

I used to feel guilty that I didn't follow the rules. Should I really let him cry it out? Is it too early to discipline? I don't think they're supposed to be exposed to sweets until they're at least one....  Is it ok for him to be in this walker? Is it safe to travel overseas? What about vaccinations? Is soy or milk based formula better? Is this toy too advanced or not advanced enough? Am I stimulating his mind enough? I don't think he can watch TV yet... Is it time to take the paci away? Will his teeth be ruined because we gave him a paci in the first place??

The choices are endless when it comes to how to parent your child and EVERYONE has an opinion [and their's is the right one of course]. Fortunately, the Bible has more than a little to say about it and one verse that I've claimed more than anything in this past year is James 1.5:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

I've found myself everyday saying, "Hey, God. This is me coming to you lacking a lot of wisdom. Can I make a withdrawal from your wisdom bank, please?"

And the best part is, every time I've asked, He's come through.

He's good like that.

So, while I may not be a super mom and may not do things like they're "supposed to be done" all the time, I have a resource that far exceeds today's parenting gurus. I have a God that has given me wisdom and a healthy baby boy to prove that no matter what the "professionals" may say, my God knows best.

My plan for parenting? I'll continue teaching him, loving him, picking him up when he [once again] loses his battle with gravity, and most of all raise him to know a personal God who loves Him so much He gave His only Son.

Seems to be working so far....

Elliott with the locals at 5.5 months.

Elliott playing in the Jung|e mud at 9 months.

 My happy, healthy boy at almost one year! Praise God!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Faith Unmatched

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me
[lyrics from "How Many Kings" by Downhere]

The lyrics of this song have resonated in my heart since the first time I heard it. When I look at other religions, I am saddened by the hopelessness that they have. So many are about finding yourself, working hard to get to that next level, or being "good enough" all of which lead to a dead end.

The Christian faith is about a God who loved us so much that He Himself stepped down from His throne, abandoned Heaven, became the least, poured out [and continues to pour out] his heart to a world that hates and despises Him, and gave His only son for me.

For you.

He knew we couldn't find ourselves apart from Him. We couldn't work hard enough or be good enough. So He did all the work for us so we can have something even more than peace, hope, or love.

We can have Him.
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