Common Hearts

About 10 years ago, my younger sister, Suzanne, introduced me to a new friend of hers.  They met through work related activities.  Suzanne was serving with Young Life Capernaum in Baltimore and Terri was a mom connected to the ministry through her children.  At the time, Suzanne introduced us because (hopefully I quote this correctly) “You guys are like the same person! You HAVE to meet her!”.  Of course back then, Sean and I had just little Jacob, so ONLY GOD KNEW just how much alike we really were!!!

Jim and Terri are the overly blessed parents to 10 beautiful children.  Their family is designed by God and He built it through birth and adoption.  Over the years, God had shaped their hearts, minds, and lives to willingly answer, “Here I am Lord, send me”, I will go where you lead me”.  I am sure if you asked them 40 years ago if they thought they would have ten kids, some adopted with varying special needs, they would have said- No Way! That’s Crazy! Who us? Really?

They have walked where we currently walk.  They have survived the “Diaper years”, but they are still “in the thick of it” since parenting never ends, especially when you have been blessed with kids who have special needs.  Their “baby” is a teenager now and their oldest is a pastor in WV.  We of course can finally say we have a child in the “double digits” (our oldest is 10yrs) and diapers… well, they keep coming around here!

When we first met, Sean and I had NO IDEA we would end up so much like them!!!  We have  built a friendship over the years.  A bonding of “common hearts” for encouragement, insight, Godly wisdom, laughter, an understanding ear, and did I mention laughter- we really need that one! Of course there was also, trampoline jumping, swinging, girly stuff, piano duets with Isaac and Jacob, hikes, running around outside, cookouts that became cook-INs, trips to the fire house, celebrations at church with Beyond Capernaum, and a little much needed “man therapy” for the dads- construction! The dads spent time at their church checking out the site!–as they are building a very large addition.

This past week our families gathered together for what is becoming our annual “Palooza” time of fun, encouragement, bonding, and unsaid reminders of why our families look the way they do. Everything God designs is beautiful!  Just look at creation.  Your family, our families, are no exception.  They are created by God and for God’s glory.  Keeping that perspective is ever important as we raise our children in the “day to day”. God is sovereign and He does not make mistakes!!!  Every child is a blessing from God—sometimes we just have to shift our vision…off of ourselves, and to God’s glory.

Sarah & Sarah attached at the hip!Rachel & Jamie, swinging, dolls, nails, girly fun!SamThe Girls on our "hike" in BaltimoreThe Tunnel t the end of the hike ran under the highway- very coolA definate "Martinpalooza Moment"...What do you get when you mix two large families and a big metal tunnel?...ahhhhhhhhhHhhhh! Loud gorillas!Stephen serves at the local Fire Station.  We got to visit with him there.Josiah...."YES! a REAL helmet!"Sam loved every minute of the vsitStephen "imparting widsom" to Josiah.  Sam in the background loving that he can touch A LOT of new things!!!!Brother-sister duo in the making! Jacob and SarahSarah & Sarah on the tire swingBrave momma Terri!Josiah- one of the many times Josiah was NOT right side up during our visit.  Note the chucks of dirt on his knees and the missing shoes!Hello Static Electricity!Sophie jumping for Joy!!!Rachel and Sarah swingingOur "hike" or "stroll" through the woods.Joanna thinking, "how long is this hike- I want to nap!??"Mr Black Snake-  we met briefly on the hikeFlying Turtle Rides!!!One year ago (part of the families)our visit in 2009-  how the families have changed!!!  More have moved into our home , and more have moved out of their home.  This year we didn't get a group shot- no one was still long enough!!

The 2:14 Challenge!!

The other day one of our friends talked about how she and her husband challenged themselves for a period with Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”  They were in a difficult situation in which they understood their tendency would be to complain about the situation or the people with whom they were sharing their time and space.  They committed to not allowing it to happen. 

When they mentioned this, it was not a big part of the conversation, just something that was mentioned, something they worked at, and then the we moved on.  But God would not let Jill and me move on.  Over the next couple of days this passage kept coming back to us, convicting us, as we found ourselves complaining about one thing or another…ouch!

So, we have also committed to the 2:14 challenge.  When we are in the midst of complaining about anything, the other has permission, even the responsibility, to simply say, “2:14.”  The complaining must stop at that point, and the recipient cannot react, complain or explain themselves.  They simply have to stop complaining.

I encourage you to join us in this challenge.  So often we can find ourselves complaining to others, or even to ourselves, about others or a situation.  It is easy to do something, react to a situation, and then justify your behavior by complaining/explaining why you did or said what you did or said.  It is easy to share your struggles or frustrations with someone we care about, but in an attitude of complaining rather than seeking counsel.  It is easy to focus on what is wrong with others and keep the focus away from what God may be trying to teach you. 

So, stop complaining and join the 2:14 challenge!

Happy Birthday Girls!!!

This Easter we celebrated our little girls birthdays.  We can’t believe how time flies!  Joanna just turn one and Sarah is about to turn two, but we celebrated together.  They are two peas in a pod, little opposite buddies!  Here are a few of their hilarious differences.

Sarah walks and runs everywhere- she never crawled.  Joanna crawls like a champ.

Sarah loves veges and beef.  Joanna loves bananas.

Sarah loves EVERYONE.  Joanna doesn’t like anyone! (well, not totally true- her Nauna finally gained victory in holding her!!! way to go Nauna!)

Sarah loves to sing and dance. Joanna loves to scream.

Sarah loves baby dolls and pretend food.  Joanna loves to hammer everything.

They both are soooooo joyful. They both smile tons.  They both are teeny weeny in size.  They both captured our hearts forever!  What a divine double blessing!

Sarah on her Lady Bug Scooter-go go go go Joanna- when will I grow? Big sister Sophie made two Lady Bug cakes for the girls!!!

What kind of face is that birthday girl???  Eat cake??? no way- I will CRUSH the cake!Sarah & Joanna

A Very GOOD Friday!

Yesterday was a very long day.  Our friend’s son, Logan (age 3), went into an 11 hour surgery to remove a tumor they recently found in the back of his head.  He had been complaining of next pain and been a little off balance.  He recently had a tremor in his right arm and they took him immediately to the doctor.  On Tuesday he had an MRI, and they instantly began planning surgery to remove this very large mass in his tiny little head.  The surgery was Thursday- yesterday. Our whole church was praying, families were praying, work schedules were put aside, and EVERYONE was praying.  Oh Lord, give the doctors wisdom and endurance. Protect little Logan from harm. Guard his little body and protect his brain. 

Surgeries like this are “wait and see”.  Would the tumor be attached to his brain? What would happen? Sometimes your thoughts are so full that you can’t even think!  Is this really real?  And then, in that same train of thought, your life gains IMMENSE perspective! Seriously- I was just complaining about……….  My “light and momentary troubles” have just become like dust.  Something that SEEMED overwhelming, just blew away in the wind.  God swung me around as if to say “Wake up! Get Perspective”

Logan came out of surgery last night.  After 11 hours the doctors successfully removed ALL of it!!!!!! Every bit!!!! And it was NOT attached to the brain, but the bone.  THANK YOU LORD!!! 

Logan has a long recovery ahead of him. His family and he covet your prayers and encouragement.  But OH, what a very GOOD Friday it is today!!!!

He has a “Caring Bridge” site set up for updates.  The address is http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/circleoflove.  This site is restricted, so you will need to enter some information and get approval from the author, but that will just take a minute.  Thank you for your prayers.