As promised we will post our Marriage Study topics so you can do them on your own. Most of them you don’t need to be married for, so they really apply to all of us.
Week 1: Laundry
This is not the T-shirt kind of laundry. This is the laundry that is in your life closet. All of those things in your life that are a source of stress, challenge, frustration, sadness, and maybe confusion. No one is without them. We all have “dirty laundry” in our lives that we need to clean up.
The challenge is two fold.
First, make your laundry list. List out all the things in your life that you would like to change or work on. They can be personal (thoughts, attitude, actions), they can be financial (budget, choice making, debt, stress, work), or they can be marital (communication, different personalities, parenting, extended family). Make your list- little and big alike.
Second, if you believe that God is sovereign, then He is sovereign ALL THE TIME. It is impossible to be half way sovereign or sovereign in just part of our lives. So now, discipline yourself to go through your list and make a second list within a list. List under each “laundry item” all the reasons why God would allow you to go through this challenge. Remember, this is a list about God’s sovereignty in your life- not about your mistakes and “natural consequences”. So list it out. Why would God allow you to be challenged in this way? It’s a little like being a teacher and making a lesson plan. What do you learn from this? What will be changed about you when this is all said and done? How is your marriage going to be stronger because of this?
A while back, on day 56, our cousin Lisa asked us to share our testimony. You would think we would have it down pat, but it is harder than you think. Now those of you who know me, know that the challenge lies is a few places. Mainly, how to take the 5 million words that WANT to come out of my mouth and concisely package them into a slightly more brief form!!! As well as, what parts to include and not to include. We usually share “portion testimony” on “why we adopted” or “how God called us in to ministry”,etc. So Lisa, here is goes….
Psalm 40 is an excellent introduction, “I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry, He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth a hymn of praise to our God”
Time and time again, God has plucked me out of that slimy pit. The list is very long, but here are just a few. In jr. high and early high school I made A LOT of poor choices, dating, partying, rebellion (in summery). Though I suffered many consequences, it seemed as though I was lifted up and away from them. I was VERY aware that I didn’t REALLY suffer as I should have. I saw so many of my friends get crushed, arrested, pregnant, loose opportunities,increase of a bad reputation, and more. Somehow, I didn’t end up with as severe consequences. I kept asking myself, “Who am I that I should be saved from such disaster?” It was actually beginning to bother me. Sounds funny, you think I would be thankful, and I was, but I was also wrestling with it all and sad for my friends at the same time. Then there I was, with my friends turning to me for help. I surely didn’t feel adequate, but God kept sending them to me.
In my High School years I began to learn about Christianity, namely a saving faith in Jesus. I was taught about grace and forgiveness and God’s sovereignty. Mike, our youth leader, kept telling me that God had a plan for my life and that maybe I should consider HIS plan over mine (in summary), and that GOD doesn’t make mistakes but people do that is what is why we NEED Jesus and His grace. He also encouraged me to share what I learned with my friends. That was the first time I ever really began to consider that I actually had something of great worth to offer others.
I wish I could say from that point on I lived a stellar life of Godliness, but any of you who know me well enough know how very human I am, how much I make mistakes, and how much I STILL desperately need Jesus’ saving grace.
Psalm 40 continues, “Many , O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak of them, they would be too many to declare”
The entire story of God’s calling us into ministry, marriage and parenting is forever long (as that verse tells). My dear friend, Maggie, once said to me, “If you wrote all that down no one would even believe it!” Seriously, we have been rescued from that slimy pit over and over. God has miraculously worked out every detail of our adoptions, church callings, and our marriage. He has made it EVER SO clear it was nothing we could have done on our own. From construction companies springing up out of nowhere to pay for our adoptions, to Sam’s miraculous recovery from open heart surgery, to Joel even being alive, to the many many times throughout it all that we can claim NOTHING but GOD.
Yet by God’s grace, Sean and I were given a desire to be in church ministry, to teach others about scripture, and to be a source of refreshing encouragement for others. By God’s grace, we had a seed planted in us to have a heart for adoption even though we had no fertility problems. By God’s grace, we were led to an adoption agency that had a ministry for adopting kids with special needs. God broke our hearts. He crushed us on the inside. We were never the same again. Now we had in us a deep desire to love children (well, all people) with special needs whom the world had cast aside as a mistake or lemon deal in parenting. So we said, here we are Lord, “we desire to do your will, your law is within our heart” (psalm 40). We KNEW with all our hearts what it meant to be chosen my God, that God didn’t mess us up, that He loved us no matter what. It was now the message of love we longed to give to a child (or children as it would turn out). God didn’t mess you up just because you have a disability- God chose you for a special purpose and we CHOOSE you too, we WANT to be your parents.
But as it would be, adopting multiple children with special needs and being in “official” church ministry don’t always create such a smooth ride! Oh, the Lord has blessed us with wonderful people in every church. People that loved and encouraged us. Thank the LORD for them ,because there were many who did not.
“I proclaim your righteousness in the great assembly, I do not seal my lips, I speak of your faithfulness and salvation, I do not conceal your love and truth.”
Sometimes it would be nice to fly under the radar, but way back in high school I clearly remember thinking, and praying, God I want to tell others so they can know. Oh the prayers we pray!!!!! Well, God has been faithful to answer and made it so that we can never hide away for too long. Oh sure we could of discreetly adopted, but no, God had us adopt three boys at once out of the PICU with special needs and pending open heart surgery. We could have quietly been encouraged by our wonderful church, but no, God had the head pastor (Sean’s boss) leave the SAME weekend we brought the boys home!! So NO “quietly” going on here! There Sean stood in front of the whole congregation…now it’s just me and I just more than doubled my family. CLEARLY we are going to need to be a team! Of and then our next kids could have been quiet, BUT NO God blessed us with our beautiful Jamie, who is in a wheelchair. So now, EVERYWHERE we go it is noticed, we must answer, we must speak, we must tell of God’s grace in our lives!
Then, here in CT, the Lord called us to adopt again, more children born from people with addictions. Our family past plus many we have known that have struggled with addiction—the Lord used theses things to break our hearts again and call us to love little children born out of that sin. Giving us our two beautiful little girls Sarah and Joanna, God had us challenge the state of CT on “family size” proving that 8 kids is NOT too many, that it is NOT ruining our life or marriage, but rather it is BELSSING it and ENHANCING it on every side. Really? At the STATE level. Oh ya, that’s right God, I prayed for that didn’t I???
Through it all I have been painstakingly aware of my humanness, my sinfulness, my ability to mess up anything! Hey, I know I have gifts and strengths too, but parenting and leadership combined give you an all too real sense of your GREAT NEED FOR A SAVIOR! Psalm 40 continues, “May your love and truth always protect me, for troubles outnumber me, my sins have overtaken me, be pleased O God to save me, …may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!”
So, who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would bother to rescue me out of that slimy pit over and over and over again – even when I messed up and put myself there??? I have come to know full well that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by our God. That God DOES NOT make mistakes, people do. That God is not just a nice idea, that He is REAL and LIVING and ACTIVE in our lives, and we desperately need him every day! I KNOW full well that I do and so I must speak, I must share. How could I keep such a thing to myself? How I could I not tell others who are longing, deep in their own slimy pit- quietly inside their hearts longing. So I speak.
That is the summary of my testimony. Thank you Lisa for challenging me to summarize it for you. I am grateful that God used you in my life to speak once again! (I did pray for that)
Thank you Lord for being so much more than I could ask or imagine! “Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere!”
So many times I am asked….”Are you crazy? 8 kids, adopting special needs, homeschooling… seriously, are you crazy?”
Well, kind of. I have spent many days answering this question both in church and in the grocery store! But the easiest way to answer it is with a passage from II Corinthians 5, “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God, if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love COMPELS us because we are CONVINCED that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he [Christ] that died for all, that those who live should NO LONGER LIVE FOR THEMSELVES but for Christ who died for them. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. THOUGH WE ONCE REGUARDED CHRIST THIS WAY, WE DO SO NO LONGER.”
It is not for us, because of us, or about us, but the great transforming work that Christ has done in our hearts. That we desire to love ALL people the way Christ does. We are human, we are not perfect, we make mistakes, but we are convinced that THIS is what we should persue with our whole life!
The section entitled “WOMEN” will really be for moms. We are starting in our church both a marriage study and parenting study this 2010. This section will “contain” those things. It is my desire that it blesses and refreshes you in your walk with the Lord.
Last week our Daddy had knee surgery. The funny part was that he couldn’t go up and down stairs!
We made him his favorite- BUCKEYES, to cheer him up. Mom says they are just chocolate peanut butter balls with less chocolate. We love them both ways. Here’s our recipe.
1 Jar (40 oz) creamy PB
2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box/bag (16 oz) Powdered Sugar
***Soften butter first. Mix four ingredients together until smooth. Scoop into small balls. We use a melon ball scooper.
1 large bag Choc. Chips
1 stick Parafin Wax (found in baking isle)
Melt choc. chips and wax together to dip the PB Balls in. Place on wax paper and refrigerate.
**If you don’t have Parafin wax, then the chocolate is very thick. But you can still make them and just put the chocolate on the bottom. Makes enough for our family!
Keeps in fridge- not long because you eat them fast.