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Monday, January 30, 2012

Our All in All God...through others!

I do not know about you, but I find it harder and harder to do this thing called life apart from...others!  Recently, many of my friends and I have discussed facing life crises apart from God, not knowing how anyone can face such things without our God who gives us ALL we need to sustain us. 

He truly is..."our all in all!"  

However, more and more I am finding myself depending on the strength, the encouragement, the desire to persevere provided through another's connect with me.  I am beginning to understand that often the ability to identify with another as one way God brings about His...all in all...in my life.  Ultimately, our Lord is all we need and He alone can sustain us and He is with us 24/7.  While that is true, I believe He brings others along-side us to become that vehicle by which we can experience some of His...all-sufficiency. 

I believe God desires and expects us to do life with...others.  Many scriptures use the phrase "one another" and I once was given a bookmark listing some of their references.  It was eye-opening, to say the least.  Biblegateway.com shows 83 verses in the NIV translation which include that phrase, "one another".  These verses make for some strong evidence that our heavenly Father did in fact plan for us to do life this way; as those 83 verses touch on some of the most important aspects of our lives.  This is a great word study for a personal devotion, by the way.    

There are days I think it would be much easier to not include another in my activities, but after so long a time I feel a deep need inside to connect with someone besides myself.  It is true, I can and have accomplished much without another helping me, but it is obvious God not only desires, but expects us to depend on each other to accomplish the tasks He has laid out before us. Usually allowing others to help can involve some unpleasantries, but working with each other for His good tends to bring Him the most glory.

Rarely, in the Bible does God use one single person to accomplish His work.  If He does so, it is only for a time.  Those who did work solo and quickly come to mind, mostly in the Old Testament, are Job, Joseph, and Elijah.  These men faced many challenges...alone.  If I am not careful the Enemy can deceive me into thinking as Elijah did, "...I am the only one."  

In the New Testament it is obvious how much Paul is infused to do all that He does because of the impact others lives have on him.  Often it was through Paul's encouragement to others that he himself became encouraged and at other times Paul simply named someone who was an encouragement to him in his ministry.  As for Paul, seeing what God is doing in and through the lives of others is of great encouragement to me!  Another New Testament example is Jesus.  He was praying in the garden alone, deserted at His arrest and endured the cross alone, but His disciples were with Him most all other times.  Obviously, others were a vital part of God's plan for His Son.

Yes, the Lord is always there and I am almost constantly aware of His presence, but He himself desires a connect with others--the reason He created man in the first place--and obviously He has placed that same desire within each of us.  

Please do not misunderstand me, there are many who struggle with allowing this desire to become such an unhealthy focus, to the point of an obsession called co-dependency.  Deep problems can occur when we become so dependent on others that we do not think we will make it if another is not right there with us 24/7 

While the former is true, so is a life that thinks there is no need to request or accept help from others.  The self-sufficient life, too, will be far from what God desires.  Finding that "happy medium", my dad would always recommend, seems to be the best advice. 

I do have the ability to accomplish much without the help of anyone else--I know this ability is from God--and I have felt that is what I have been doing, for the most part, these past three years.  I am convinced I can only do what I do because of those of you who pray for me and this ministry.  God is reminding me that while I am the sole person working to lay the foundations for Signs for Hope I am really not doing this solo.  At just the right time He brings others alongside me to share my God-stories with, to pray with, to encourage and be encouraged by, to lend a hand for an event, and the list goes on. He is helping me realize there are so many others who are supporting me in this process.  I have been praying for co-laborers, thinking the time is right to pass the baton to someone else for some of the busywork involved in this ministry.  Maybe God is providing those co-laborers in ways I do not expect.   You know who you are.  I must trust Him to send the others I need my way; His way and in His perfect timing.

It just occurred to me God himself, is never alone.  He is always dependent on others.  He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  All working in concert together to accomplish what none can do alone.

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Allow me to share a little phrase that has stuck with me from a sermon I heard as a teenager:  "Others Lord, yes others; Let this my motto be.  Let me think of others, Lord, before I think of me."

Galatians 6:2 -  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 

Philippians 2:3-4 -  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 

Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 15:7 -  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

2 Corinthians 13:11 -  Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Galatians 5:13 - You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Hebrews 10:24 -  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

Hebrews 13:3 -  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.






Friday, January 20, 2012

Truly blessed beyond mearsure!

This morning, I am overwhelmed by God’s willingness to allow me to be involved with some of the most incredible families as they walk this life-long journey called adoption.  Since God’s call to “coordinate the adoption of deaf orphans in the world” in March of 2008, God has been revealing Himself to me through some of the most amazing adoption stories.   These stories of unconditional love mirror God’s ultimate adoption story for each of us.  Sometimes, however, these adoption stories include pain and suffering.  Interestingly enough, so does God's.  This is one of those areas where God is teaching me His perspective, His plan, for His children through pain and suffering.   And more specifically through the pain and suffering God allows His children to experience because they obey Him in His call to adopt.

As I think what some of these families are enduring this very day because they have obeyed God, tears come to my eyes.  My heart goes out to them as they face another day ONLY by His grace! 

His grace…a topic for another day!


God has lead 9 families (7 since the end of July) to connect with me, through Signs for Hope, as they progress through their adoptions of deaf or hard-of-hearing children.   Prior to that, God has allowed me to be connected to some other precious families and their adoption journeys, as well.  The ways that God prepares us and equips us to do what He calls us to do, is mind-boggling.  I have always quoted that to others, but I can now see, in my own life, how accurate that statement really is.  I challenge each of you to stop and reflect on your own life and how God has prepared you for what you are facing today.  This will give you encouragement to persevere whatever you are facing.


As I look back at the ways in which God prepared me and continues to prepare me, for this ministry…I am in awe!  Does that mean I have the ability to do everything perfectly without any error?   Of course not!  But I can see how He has orchestrated so many different things—some positive and some negative—to give me the ability, the background, the foundation, that He wants to see infiltrate this ministry called Signs for Hope.  HOPE is His goal!

I have not always had this ability to reflect with certainty at how He has prepared me for the task at hand.  In the beginning, He had to confirm to me over and over again that He had not made a mistake when He called me to do this.  Others could see this clearly before I could.  I knew there were many others who were better prepared and equipped to do this.  From my perspective it just did not make sense that He called me and not someone else. 


Charles and I have never adopted and we have never felt God leading us to adopt.  It was a topic that came up in conversation, several times through the years, but the paradigm we had of adoption was not a fairy tale one with a ‘happily ever after ending.’  In fact, God had placed within our realm of friends several families that had experienced some heart-wrenching and life-changing experiences because they had followed God’s leading to foster and/or adopt children.   We would always end our conversations with…that would not be best for our family.  We really never felt God leading us to adopt.  Why would He think I could head up a ministry of adoption, if I had never adopted myself?  


As I have researched adoption over the past three years I have come to realize that adoption is rarely ‘happily ever after’.  Yes adoption can be rewarding and give boundless joy, but it is not easy helping little ones deal with some of the horrible things they have had to endure because they were rejected for whatever reason.  Often these children cannot accept the fact that someone suddenly loves them and helping them realize that fact is challenging…to say the least.  

We can compare the earthly adoption of a child with the adoption of our heavenly Father for each of us.  There are those who completely reject His perfect love for them.  Then there are those of us who accept that love, but then struggle in the development of that father-son or father-daughter relationship not willing to surrender our will to His.  Will we truly accept all the love He wants to give us or not?  Will we show Him that we love Him in return by our obedience.  The same is often true for those children who are adopted and so loved by their earthly parents.


I have to believe it is through those families and their sufferings they endured that God has placed within me, an undeniable urgency to provide pre-adoptive resources and training to better equip those who adopt Deaf/HOH children before they bring them home.  Resources available today were not available when some of our friends were adopting/fostering years ago.  I have had friends tell me they wonder if things had turned out differently had they had the present-day resources now available for adoptive families.

No, adoption is not easy!  But when He calls us to do something He will equip us to do it and He uses all of us to do this.  His plan is not for us to walk this life alone, but rather to depend on each other to gain the encouragement to persevere to the end. 

If God has not called you to adopt, He has called you to 'care for the fatherless'.  Will you commit to pray for a family that is called to adopt?  Your life will be changed and blessed beyond measure as you pray for those who adopt and foster. 

There are many ways you can obey God's call to 'care for the fatherless'. 

Will you ask God to show you how you, personally, are to fulfill His command to ‘care for the fatherless’?
 
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For me, many of these verses were overlooked for most of my Christian life.  Oh I read them, but their meaning was limited.  Their meaning now, so rich and challenging!  Allow the Holy Spirit to wrap your mind in their full meaning.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."  Romans 8:14-16

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Galatians 4:4-6

You are the helper of the fatherless. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more. Psalms 10:14,17-18

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.  Isaiah 1:17

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  James 1:27

Friday, January 13, 2012

My burdened heart...


I have missed several days of blogging this week.  I have so many topics I could blog about, but sometimes I don’t know which one to share.  Finally, He has burdened my heart to share this with you, today.

There are many positive and rewarding aspects of being involved with the adoption of Deaf and hard-of-hearing (HOH) children and their families.
  I LOVE seeing God connect families with their Deaf/HOH sons and daughters.  I LOVE watching these sons and daughters, many with limited to no language at all, begin to thrive in their new families rich in ASL.  I LOVE sharing resources with families who adopt Deaf/HOH children that will help them help their children reach their full potential.  I LOVE watching these families grow in their own relationship with their Lord through the adoption process.  I LOVE being able to help these families raise the funds necessary for them to bring their Deaf/HOH children home.  I LOVE watching God draw these children into His forever family and then send them out to share His story with those like them.
But…

My heart ache’s for the Deaf/HOH children who will never be adopted.
  My heart ache’s for the Deaf/HOH children aging out of the limited social welfare system in the countries where they live.  My heart ache’s when I see the faces of these older Deaf/HOH children labeled “URGENT – AGING OUT”.   I was overwhelmed with heart ache this past week as I searched for the Deaf/HOH children that are “waiting” to be adopted.  On one website photos of Deaf/HOH children who had missed their window of opportunity for adoption were now labeled

 “URGENT REQUEST – AGED OUT – PLEASE PRAY!” 

These children were from China.  The picture of what happens to these precious Deaf/HOH children who “age out”—at the age of 14 in China and various other ages in other countries—is not a pretty one.  It is not one I like to dwell on, and I try my best to keep my mind from drifting there long enough to create an indelible image.  But, there is no doubt God has placed this burden for them on my heart.  Such burden, this past week, that I sent out a desperate email to a few families and individuals I know who share this burden; urgently requesting them to join me in praying for some way to change these atrocities.   I will not go into detail here about the horrific plight of these children who “age out” of the system, but if you are interested in knowing more check out the post on the Love Without Boundaries website at http://www.lwbcommunity.org/adoption-of-older-children.  One thing to keep in mind, this article is based on what happens to the hearing children who “age out”; I am convinced what happens to the Deaf children—with  very little ability to communicate about anything to anyone—the violence against them would be much worse.  

The building of the vocational trade school (VTS) in Liberia, has given me much insight into what could possibly be done to aid these older children in other countries.  Liberia does not have laws limiting how long a child can live in an orphanage.  At the Deaf Mission in Liberia there are Deaf/HOH twentysomethings still residing there and attending school. 

One friend emailed back to ask what ideas I had in mind.
  Her family has adopted Deaf/HOH children twice from China.  Very quickly, in response, the Lord gave me some basic goals an “aging out” home/school for Deaf/HOH children might offer.  Since many of these "aging out" children will still be without language there would need to be indigenous manual language taught in the aging out home/school for them.  Ideally, indigenous Deaf adults/families would be utilized for this and for possible fostering of these children.  It might not be a full-time foster family, because of cost and other legalities, but at least some time where these older children could experience some semblance of "family."  Vocational trades and "life skills" would also be taught in this home/school for children no longer welcome in their government institutions.  In addition, if we are looking at starting something like this in China, or any country for that matter, the "aging out" home/school should be located near a larger city for better access to greater resources. 
I don’t know God’s timing for something like this.  I do know He is all over the building of the Vocational Trade School in Liberia ( I will share more about this endeavor, soon) and I have to believe He will use some of what I learn in this process to be replicated in other places/countries. 

Please join me and others in praying for a complete understanding of how, when, where, a home/school could be started to prevent the “aged out” Deaf/HOH children from being thrown out on the streets as refuse.
 
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Scriptures that are challenging and encouraging me, today!

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2


Lord, you have heard what the poor people want. Do what they ask, and listen to them.
 Protect the orphans and put an end to suffering so they will no longer be afraid of evil people. Psalm 10:17-18


For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight. Psalm 72:12-14


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27


God sets the lonely in families.  Psalm 68:6

Sunday, January 8, 2012

God Connections!


Joseph called this afternoon.  He had been to a new church this morning with a friend he met at Kanakuk Kamp (now Camp Kivu) years ago.  During the greet time his buddy introduced him to another friend of his who owns a Chick-fil-a in Denver.  Someone mentioned Joseph was looking for a job and this man told Joseph to come in and fill out an application; they were hiring.  After chatting briefly following the service the man offered Joseph a job, on the spot, and he starts work on Thursday.  Praise God!  Joseph has been searching for a job in Denver since June.  Time to “Eat Mor Chikin!”  

Joseph and I talked about how crazy it is, sometimes—the connections…God-connections—that catch you by surprise.  Our Sunday School class and my Mom’s In Prayer (formerly Mom’s In Touch) group have been praying for Joseph to visit a new church for several weeks and for him to find a job for quite a while.  I never thought both would be answered the same day.  Oh, me of little faith!

God-connections, this is something that has become a common occurrence for me since God’s call in 2008.  I am sure I had them prior to that, but they have certainly increased in number and frequency in the past three years.  Maybe, I am just more aware of them now…or more dependent upon them.  Anyway, God does this when I least expect it. 

It’s funny…it seems more often than not…God does things in 3’s.  In an earlier post this week I shared that during the summer of 2003 God confirmed to me not once, not twice, but three times, I must continue my education at Gardner-Webb University.  Has anyone else experienced this?

Another such trilogy happened this past October.  Charles and I were invited to attend an adoption conference in SC.  We arrived early, found a table, left our things and went back out to get coffee and mingle. When we came back in three ladies were seated at our table. They were completing their introductions and explanations of why they were there and one turned to ask us the same. When I told them God had called me "to coordinate the adoption of deaf orphans in the world"… Let me stop right here and tell you that I cannot say the above phrase without being reminded of the immenseness of His calling each time I hear it.  Honestly, sometimes it is almost as shocking to me now as it was on March 18, 2008.  I don’t think I will ever get used to hearing it.  It is a constant reminder there is absolutely no way I can do any of this apart from Him.  …one of the ladies quickly shared that she had taken American Sign Language in college for her foreign language credit. She later came to me during the first breakout session to say that she knew our meeting was not an accident and that she and her husband were in the adoption process and were open to adopting a deaf/HOH child since one of their biological daughters was HOH and they already knew sign language.
When I asked one of the other ladies why she was there, she responded by signing to me that both her parents were deaf. Later in the day we had an extended conversation and I suspect she will contact me in the future.

The third connect came at lunch when a woman sat at our table who was a homestudy case worker from Raleigh, NC. When I told her what I do, she looked at me and said, "That is very interesting, especially since I received a phone call from a woman, just yesterday, looking to adopt a deaf child." My husband handed her my business card and the next day I was contacted by the woman she spoke of.  I have been diligently trying to encourage this family as they seek God’s plan for them through adoption, since that connection. Mom and Dad are ASL interpreters and they sign with their three biological hearing children. And Dad is in the process of getting an additional degree in Deaf Education. 

I can't make this stuff up!  I love God-connections...they aren't just good, they are the best!

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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:1-5

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pain & Suffering...His plan? Part 1

I am beginning a multi-part posting today on a topic that I have been working through for quite a while.  Not sure when I will post the additional parts or how many parts there will be.

Pain and suffering is a topic that many of us try to avoid until we or someone we love are forced to face it. This is one of those things that my mind tends to play with from time to time as I watch those around me deal with it. Rarely, have I had to deal with, what I would call, pain and suffering.  Many books have been written about why good people suffer bad things and many conversations, of believers and non-believers alike, revolve around why would a "good" God allow pain and suffering.

Obviously, as usual, our opinions and musings about a topic, as such, can easily be influenced by what "we think" is right or wrong and not necessary what God has established as right and wrong. Trying to mold our skewed thinking to align with the righteousness of God's thinking is a life-long challenge for the follower of Jesus Christ. The only way this can be done is by becoming immersed in scripture and then allowing it to permeate our thinking and by obeying the command "to take every thought captive to become obedient to Christ".  Obviously, God knew our thinking would not align with His, naturally, but would have to be trained to do so.

Do we really have to have an answer for everything? Or in this religion of Christianity, which is supposed to be faith-based, can we not simply accept some things at face value trusting in God's sovereignty, because of His character and His plan? After all, He is the creator of all and we are simply one of His trillion plus creations. 

I am convinced our humanness is the reason for our relentless pursuit in wanting an answer or reason for everything. We want to explain away any mysterious misunderstandings about our God, so we can present Him to others, and ourselves, as completely rational--humanly speaking--in all His actions.

I don't know about you, but I certainly do not want God, the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient--the  infinite Holy God over all creation--to fit into my human thinking which is sinful, self-centered, finite, and focused, almost solely, on the here and now.  Will we EVER get that God is so much bigger than we can EVER comprehend?  I don't know about you, but the more I think I learn about our God, the bigger He gets and I begin to realize just how very little I truly know about Him and understand Him and His ways.

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
                  Isaiah 55:8-9

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.   Ephesians 3:20-21

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”   Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.   Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”   As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.  James 4:13-17

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back to the past


It was the summer of 2003.  After completing the 2-yr Interpreter Training Program at Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC), I knew my ASL skill was not what it should be.  There was a 4-yr ASL Studies program offered at Gardner-Webb University (GWU), with an interpreting minor, and a 4-yr Deaf Education program at Lenoir-Rhyne College.  Both were about the same distance from my home—in opposite directions—about 140 miles round trip.  


Rachel had graduated from high school in May of that year, but Joseph was a sophomore in high school and very involved with after school activities. I didn’t want to miss any of them.  I really struggled to decide whether or not to continue my education, especially so far from our home.   But God…  (Don’t you love…But God?  That phrase is all through the scriptures.)  But God…confirmed that I must three times within two days during that summer. My preference was the program at GWU (remember ASL Interpreter was the goal), but I had to pass an ASL skills test before I could proceed.  I really doubted I could pass the test, knowing my limitations.  I registered for the test and was amazed that I did pass it and felt that was the final confirmation from God for me to be there at GWU.


Rachel had been seeking God’s plan for her college decision and He lead her to Gardner-Webb, as well.  I certainly did not want my decision to attend GWU to negatively impact her college experience, so I asked her if she would be opposed to my attending GWU at the same time she was there.   She instantly said “no” reasoning it was a big campus and we would probably never see each other.  That first semester she asked me to take her to lunch at least once a week.  I was thrilled to be able to see her that often.  The weekly lunch was something we enjoyed throughout our college years together.  We never had classes together, but several of Rachel’s close friends and I had classes together.  Rachel confided that felt a little strange, sometimes.  


So I embarked on more education on a real college campus, at the age of 44—70 miles from my home—with the vast majority of the students being college-age appropriate.  This was much different from the community college campus where older students were much more common.  The students at GWU accepted me without any questions and I became “Momma Becky” to many of them.  I quickly, realized that my time at GWU was not only about gaining increased ASL Skill and knowledge of the Deaf Community, but it was also about impacting the lives of the students that sat in the classroom with me. Needless to say, they had a great impact on me, as well.


I knew the classes at GWU would be more academically challenging than the classes at the community college level, so I registered for only one class my first semester, ASL III.  The class met MWF.  My instructor was Keith Cagle.  Keith is Deaf-of-Deaf (that means he was born Deaf to Deaf parents) and has recently received his doctorate in Educational Linguistics.  Keith was strict, but it was obvious he loved teaching.  Teaching is Keith’s gift!  What joy it was to be in his class with a true teacher.  There is no doubt God wanted me to be under Keith’s ASL instruction.  I have no doubt my desire to continue to improve my skill and continue learning about the Deaf was influenced greatly by Keith Cagle.  I missed an “A” in that class by only 2 points.  Keith’s grading scale was stringent and an “A” was 93 – 100.


I never took “a full load” of classes at GWU, because we could not afford the tuition.  Remember, Rachel was also a full-time, living-on-campus student and Joseph was attending Asheville Christian Academy.  Our support of Christian education through the years seems to be unending, as we are still paying on Rachel’s college experiences.  What a great investment!  


 I did take advantage of GWU’s willingness to accept a limited number of classes from other approved educational institutions, so during my first three years at GWU I took classes on 4 different campuses, 1) GWU – Boiling Springs, NC;  2 & 3) AB-Tech – Asheville and Transylvania campuses;  and 4) Online classes – my home.  In addition, during my 2-yr. community college program, I attended classes at Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC), distance learning classes (for BRCC) at AB-Tech, on the UNCA (University of North Carolina Asheville) campus and on-line classes in my home.  My college career—which spanned more than 8 years (3 at BRCC and 5+ at GWU), including all summers but one—was split between 5 different educational institutions, plus my own home for on-lines.  Whew!  What was I thinking?  God knew all along how those years would prepare me for the future.  Needless to say, I became very familiar with all the different campuses and with my new bff (best friend forever), my computer, something that would prove to be invaluable to me, in my research in the future!

One of my favorite "But God..." verses.

"When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died:  ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.   But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them."  Genesis 50:15-21



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

God's Will


In honor of Joseph's 24th birthday, today, I decided to repost this blog entry from January 2012.  Joseph is a lover of hiking the 14-ers in Colorado, mountains whose crests are greater than 14,000 feet elevation.  So thankful it is God's responsibility to protect him, or not...and not mine.  I have added some of Joseph's own pictures from his trek's across God's awe-inspiring creation over the past few months. They are incredible!

Sunrise at Long's Peak  09/23/12

Well, Joseph’s 10-day Christmas visit home flew by.  My life, pretty much, revolved around him while he was here…so thankful my schedule is flexible like that.  Charles was able to take off some from work and be with us, often, as well.  We were also able to spend some extended time with Rachel and Marc— because Joseph was here—and that was good, too.  


We had not seen Joseph for more than nine months.  The last time we saw him was during his spring break last March.  He graduated from college in May.  At his request, we did not attend his graduation…he said it was too costly and he was not planning on “walking”.  He then moved from Fayetteville, AR to Denver in early August.  During that time I cherished the few times we got to talk with Joseph by phone.  We did text with him regularly, but there is just something special about being able to hear his voice.  


Sometimes when you have very little contact with your adult children (Joseph is 23) you wonder if they are still following their Lord or not…or at least I do.  There was no evidence that Joseph’s focus had changed, but…  Thankfully, for some reason, God does not allow my mind to dwell on thoughts like those—but they do come in, from time to time. Yesterday, Charles shared with me, as we drove back from taking Joseph to the airport, that he had “lost” Joseph on Monday afternoon.  I was out and the two of them were home together.  He said he looked in his room, downstairs, our bedroom…no Joseph.  Then he looked in the room where he does his daily Bible study.  Joseph was seated in his daddy’s chair reading his daddy’s Bible.  Priceless!

Trekking up Long's Peak


One morning, at the age of 4, Joseph announced to us that he had prayed and asked Jesus to come into his heart the night before.  We did not doubt his decision as he knew full well the “plan of salvation” even at that early age.  He followed through with baptism when the Lord convicted him to do so.  


While Joseph is all boy, and has always been, I noticed at an early age a tenderness for others.  I prayed he would not lose that tenderness as he grew and the Lord has answered that prayer.  


Joseph LOVES people…especially those oppressed and in need.   His heart is tender to their neediness.  We saw this manifested during his high school years when, one day, he began sorting through our coat closet asking could he have this one or that one.  He was planning to give them away to the homeless people living on the streets in downtown Asheville.  It was not uncommon for him to go downtown and hangout with the homeless.  

Trekking up Pike's Peak two weeks ago!

In college, one of Jo’s (Joseph’s nickname from kamp) good friends was in need of some desperate financial assistance.  Joseph somehow became aware of his need, and called home to see what we thought of him meeting this need for his friend— anonymously.  Joseph had money in savings that could alleviate this burden for his friend and he certainly didn’t need it as much as his friend did.  These are only two instances that we are aware of, where Joseph’s tender heart was so visibly exposed.  Joseph also has a strong heart for the orphan and still believes God will use his life some way to support them in their plight. 


Joseph’s main reason for moving to Denver has diminished but he has fallen in love with the city of Denver and the surrounding landscape and would like to stay.  His degree is in social work, but he has been unable to secure a job in that field—honestly, he has been unable to find any suitable job at all.  He has applied at grocery stores, restaurants, Starbucks, etc.  He was given the opportunity to sell insurance—commission only—but, he decided this was just not his ‘cup of tea’.  He told us yesterday that the next logical step would be for him to get his masters, but he has no idea how he would pay for that.  Apparently, he has the option of completing his masters in a single year if he had the funds available for it.  Please join us in asking God to reveal to Joseph the next step in His plan for his life. 

Added 9/26/12 (Joseph's 24th Birthday): Not long after the above post, the Lord opened a door for Joseph to begin working at Chick-Fil-A in the Denver area.  Still, not what he wants to do with his life, but it does pay the bills, sort of, and he LOVES the people he works with. 


God has also provided him the opportunity to coach soccer, this fall, at a large Christian high school there in the greater Denver area.  These are just two of the things God is using to prepare Joseph for the future.  I have no idea what God's plans are for Joseph, but for now, he is right where God wants him to be.   

The Rocky Mountains - Long's Peak



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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-2

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012...JUST DO IT!


When I told my men last night that I was blogging, Joseph quickly pulled it up on his phone. When he saw the length of my blog for the day, he shook his head and said, “Way to long, mom!” Then they both began to make fun of the fact that I am a very “wordy” person and my emails, newsletters, and whatever else are always “ six pages in length.” I simply told them I had a lot to say and God had given me all those words. They just laughed even more.

Today’s blog will be short and sweet…sort of. I will return to “His saga” later in the week.
Today, the second day of 2012 I want to ask a few questions. Hopefully, these questions will help you (and me) be able to focus more deeply on our Heavenly Father and His plans for each of us in 2012. Keep in mind; I am challenging myself with these same questions and scriptures.

1) If you could change one thing about your relationship with your Lord, what would it be? Change it, in 2012!

Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you, asking God that you will know fully what he wants. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God. God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient. Colossians 1:9-11

2) Is there something from the past that you promised God you would follow through with, but haven’t? Do it, in 2012!

Anyone who knows the right thing to do, but does not do it, is sinning. James 4:17

3) Is there someone dear to you, who does not know the Savior? Pray for that person daily, in 2012!

Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

Whatever your answer is to the above questions…”Just Do It!” Make 2012 the “Just Do It” year. Do not procrastinate. Do not justify. Do not accept compromise. Do not allow the Enemy to deceive you by causing you to think it’s too late, or that God just doesn’t care. JUST DO IT!