Archive | October 2011

Precious Moments

What a special, wonderful week this has been!  This morning I am feeling so blessed!  In fact my morning began, almost the moment I
got up, with telling my daughter Laurie (with tears in my eyes) how truly blessed
and grateful I am to the Lord for allowing me to spend time with all nine of my
grandchildren at once.  That rarely happens.  I am in Alabama with Julie’s children while
their parents have been in the Ukraine on a short missions trip and visiting
with their soon-to-be son Oleg.  Laurie’s
family has been on a southern trip to Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee visiting
their supporters and several churches and they are here at Julie’s house for a
week or so  as well.  It’s a houseful, but it sure is fun!

The kids and I have been playing games, making jewelry,
watching movies, reading books and just laughing ourselves silly.  The most precious moments of all, though,
have been in the evenings before bed when all nine of my grandkids, from the
eight month old baby on up to the seventeen year old, gather around me in the
living room and we have devotions together.
I cannot tell you the joy it
brings to my heart to see the love these sweet kids have for the Lord; to share
the Word of God with them and hear their thoughts, their praises and prayer
requests; and to listen as each of them prays.
Even four year old, rambunctious Matthew knows it is a special time and
prays so sweetly.  Last night when we
were done he tenderly tucked his Bible under his arm and said something about
going to the “house of God” in the morning.

I have loved the
precious moments I have spent with my beloved grandchildren this week.  I hope I will always be the kind of
grandmother Lois was in the Bible—leaving behind a spiritual legacy for her
grandchildren and all those to come after.
When I call to remembrance the
unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and
thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” 
(II Timothy 1:5)   We
want our children to grow up to be as Psalm 144:12 says, “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as
corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”  We
want them to grow up trusting, loving,
serving the Lord. “For thou art my hope,
O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.”
(Psalm 71:5)

Julie and David have been experiencing precious moments, as
well, this week.  Their time with the
orphans has been a sweet blessing not only to them and the children, but I know
to the Lord also as they have ministered to and loved these kids.  Julie tells me they are hungry for love and even
the 14, 15, 16 years old act like six year olds when it comes to having that personal
contact and attention.  David and Julie are
sweet, gentle people and I am sure the children would respond to their nurturing
natures.  Julie tells me the kids, girls
and boys alike, have no reservations when it comes to throwing their arms around
them and hugging and kissing them, or walking hand in hand with them.

As sweet as the time has been for them, it has also been heartbreaking
as they knew they would be leaving behind these kids, most of whom would not be
adopted and would end up on the streets alone and with a bleak future.  Last night as they said goodbye, many of the
kids cried, heartbroken.  Oleg cried even
though he knows they are coming back for him.  I could see as I Skyped with Julie and David
that they had struggled as well and that they were weary with emotion.  I am sure their soft hearts were touched and
broken.

Precious moments.  Precious
grandchildren.  Precious children—all the children of the world.  Jesus loves these children.  They are precious in His sight.  Let us take every
opportunity, every precious moment we can to love, nurture, cherish, teach, and
influence our own precious children, and whatever
precious children the Lord brings into our path, for Him.

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Pants and Jeans, Hopes and Dreams

Julie and David left for the
Ukraine yesterday.  It must have been a
grueling trip.  It began with a three
hour drive to Atlanta, and then flights to Washington DC, Paris and Kiev, followed
by a drive to the village where the orphanage they will be visiting is
located.  They were due to arrive in Kiev
around 3:40 AM our time (11:40 AM local time), but I have not heard from them
since Paris, so I do not know if all went as planned.  I hope they got some sleep on their
flights.  They certainly didn’t get much
the night before they left.  I understand
the director of the orphanage had planned a concert and show put on for them by
the children upon their arrival.  I hope
no one falls asleep during it!

We arrived here in Alabama
Thursday night.  Robbie and I will be
staying with the kids while Julie and David are gone.  I was glad we had come a day early as we were
able to help with a lot of little things that needed to be done before they
left.  We had come fully loaded down as
well with bags upon bags of boys pants and jeans.

Just days before they were due
to leave, Viktoria, the orphanage director, had told Julie that the boys there
were in desperate need of pants.  Could
she please bring pants for the boys?
Another orphanage nearby needed clothes, also.  Julie was happy to help as much as she was
able, but at that late notice she did not have all the resources needed to
furnish them all herself.  I put in calls
to two of my sisters who have boys and asked if they had any gently used pants
or jeans they could donate to the orphans.
Did they!  They were delighted to
pass on nearly new pants of every sort—jeans, cords, athletic, dress—so much in
fact that we could not get them all in our trunk!  Way to go Carleen and Corinne and sons!  I had to regretfully leave one large bag with
perfectly good pants behind.  I consoled
myself with the thought that when Julie and David go back in a few months they can
take it with them then.

Julie nearly cried as she went
through the bags of pants and jeans.
“Praise the Lord!” she kept saying over and over.  “Isn’t He a wonderful provider?!”  We could picture the joy with which each pair
would be received in the Ukraine.  The
next thought was “How did we get them all in the suitcases with everything else
they were taking?”

No problem for the Lord!  Just as He multiplied the fishes and loaves,
and made the widow’s oil to keep flowing seemingly without end, He stretched
the space in those suitcases to hold the multiplied pants and jeans!  Forty-five pairs filled the two
large bags along with gifts for all the children, candy, supplies for their
Bible camp, food, etc. for all!   And
then there were the much-needed and lovingly gathered gifts for their own
soon-to-be son, Oleg.  A warm winter coat,
shoes, hooded sweatshirt, long-sleeved shirts, a Russian-English Bible, a few
Lego toys among other things.  They were
taking two small bags for themselves with the clothes and items they needed for
the trip.

And then came the phone
call.  Julie had just finished packing
the two large bags for the orphans and was praising the Lord that she got it
all in with room to spare, when she got a call from the lady heading up the
trip.  “I’m so sorry,” Larissa said, “The
airline has changed the rules!  Instead of
two seventy pound bags per person, we are only allowed one fifty pound bag
each!”

Eeeeek!  We looked with dismay at the suitcases lying
open on the floor with all those wonderful pants and gifts for the
orphans.  No way!  “Hmmph!” Julie said.  “It’s all going!  The Lord provided and somehow He’ll make it
possible for it all to go!  And I am not
unpacking those bags!”

David got online and discovered
that as active military he could take a second bag for free.  They would have to pay for Julie’s second bag.  So be it.
When they got to the airport however, the airline let it
go for free, too!  God at work once again.  Coming home would be another story, they were
told.  They would have to pay for both
bags.  They have a plan, though—they will
leave one suitcase with Oleg for when they go back to get him in a few months,
and they will nest one small bag inside the other empty large suitcase.  Case solved!

God will provide.  When He calls us to do something for Him, He
always provides the wherewithal to do it.
I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He that calleth
you, who also will do it.” 
It is a blessed thing to the Lord when we
share with the poor and needy, the afflicted, widows and orphans.  Take a look at what He commands:

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  (Psalm 82:3)

Blessed is he
that considereth the poor: the
LORD will deliver him in time of trouble
.
(Psalm 41:1)

He that hath
pity upon the poor lendeth unto
the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again
. (Proverbs
19:17)

Pure religion
and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their
affliction…
  (James 1:27)

Caring for the poor and needy, widows
and orphans demands sacrifice.  Are we
willing to give up some of our bounty, some of our time and energy in order to
allow the Lord to use us as His instruments?
He will provide, but often it is through us that He meets the needs of others.  Our church back in Indiana is having Compassion
Sunday today as part of their Missions Month.
I am sorry to miss it.  I saw Pastor’s
outline for his message when he sent it to me to do the Powerpoint for it.  I am thankful for a pastor and church that not
only preaches and teaches right doctrine, but also has love.  Sometimes we shy away from preaching a
“social gospel.”  The true gospel is Christ
crucified, buried and risen again, but we must not forget that faith without
works is dead.  They will know us by our
love.  Jesus had compassion on the poor
and needy around him—both those poor and needy physically, and spiritually, as
well.  And let us not forget that we
were once poor and needy in His sight, as well.

God provides.  Let us allow Him to use us His instruments of
compassion and love.

Brisk, Busy and All A-Buzz

 Our days lately have been what you would call “brisk”—cool, almost on the verge of chilly but still sunny and nice.  The trees are changing colors in variant shades of green, red, gold and brown, and soon we will have mounds of their leaves on the ground.  Yes, autumn is upon us and before you know it, the holiday season will be, as well.  Did you know it is only five and a half weeks until Thanksgiving and ten weeks exactly until Christmas???!!!  I am in no hurry to see this year end, but whether or not I like it, 2011 will soon be gone.

The pace around our house has also been brisk.  Whether it is home-schooling five kids between preschool and high school ages; cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry for a family of eleven; packing and unpacking for weekly trips; crossing one church project after another off my to-do list; helping Julie with some of her projects for the Ukraine trip; or dealing with some pretty intense issues that have come up in the last few weeks, Laurie and I have felt like our heads are spinning and by eight o’clock at night we are ready to drop.  We are planning to steal away for a few hours on Tuesday for our first real mother-daughter time-out since they’ve returned to the States three and a half months ago!  We live in the same house, but it is sad to say that even a morning cup of coffee together or a late-night girl-talk session are very rare occurrences.  I know when they return to Ecuador in January we will look back on this time with regrets that we didn’t get to have more time together just enjoying one another’s company.

This week and the coming week ahead will be even crazier.  The Naranjos will be packing for a three-week trip to visit churches and other supporters in Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee.  Bob will be taking Robbie and me down to Alabama, as well, to stay with Julie and David’s children while they go to the Ukraine to visit the boy they are adopting.  Our planning and packing lists are long, and by mid-week we will be tripping over a dozen or more suitcases and other paraphernalia that have to go.  We were planning to leave at the same time on Friday morning and then realized that wasn’t going to work.  Can you imagine two vehicles needing to be loaded with mountains of “stuff,” and this huge family all vying for the bathroom at the same time in order to be on the road by 7:00 AM?  Bob and I decided instead to leave a day earlier to make it easier for the Naranjos and also possibly to give Julie and David a hand as they prepare to leave for the Ukraine on Saturday.

As crazy-busy as it is, I am still so excited to go on this trip!  Robbie will be thrilled to get away from home and see his other nieces and nephews.  I can see when he looks at pictures of Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah that he misses them.  Having our Naranjo kiddos here with us has been so good for him and he just loves it, but you can never have too many nieces and nephews, (or grandkids!), can you?!  As for me, I’m looking forward to getting away, too.  I see Bob and the Naranjos and other family members traveling, and although I am content to stay home with Robbie, it will be nice to have a change of pace and a change of scenery.   And at one point while we’re in Alabama the whole family will all be together for the first time in over three years!  What could be better than that?!

There are a lot of things going on at our church, as well.  This is Missions Month and several of the projects I have been working on have been for that.  Tonight there is an international fellowship dinner before the service.  Missions are very near and dear to my heart, and normally I would be so excited to be a part of it all, but I must admit, I was tempted to skip the dinner and church
tonight.  I have so much to do and so little time left in which to accomplish it all.  I mentioned to Bob that I was thinking about not going.

He said, “Uh-uh.  The Lord comes first!”  Of course.  I overheard someone just this last week repeat an old phrase, “If you’re too busy for God, you’re just too busy.”  Our busy-ness may not be self-centered at all.  It may be for Him, and for others but when it infringes upon our time to just sit at His feet, then, like Martha, we must listen to the Master’s gentle rebuke.  Luke tells the story:  Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.  But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore
that she help me.  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 
(Luke 10:38-42)

I don’t want to be so busy that my daughter and I don’t have the time or energy to spend quality time together.  I don’t want to be so busy, even for Him, that I neglect time with Him.  If I am so busy, even busy doing good, that I neglect relationships with the people I love and with my Lord, then I am just too busy.

Showers of Blessings

I love to shop for baby shower gifts, don’t you?  All those tiny clothes in pastel pink and blue, yellow and mint green, or maybe in bold and bright primary colors—or these days in beige, brown and black, as well!  I especially love the frilly little girl clothes, but I must admit, baby boy clothes are much cuter than they used to be.  And baby toys now are so clever and funny—and expensive!
How fun, though, to shop for a new baby—especially when that new baby is your own grandbaby!

I went shopping for our newest soon-to-be grandchild yesterday—but he’s no baby!  Oleg is a 14 year old orphan in the Ukraine, who will soon join Julie and David’s family as their beloved son, and eagerly anticipated brother to Benjamin, Joshua and
Hannah.  I had the same feelings yesterday as I shopped for Oleg as I would had I been shopping for any new addition to the family—anxious to meet him, curious to know more about him, and already loving him.

I have been with Julie and David on a daily basis on this four-year journey to adopt, so the joy to see the Lord bringing Oleg into the
family has been intense for all of us.  Oleg entered the orphanage four years ago—very nearly at the same time Julie and David began their adoption journey.   Coincidence?  No, I think not.  I believe the Lord started directing David and Julie’s path to Oleg at that very moment.

I can still hear the excitement in Julie’s voice a few days ago.  “Mom, I finally got to talk to Oleg this morning!” she exclaimed.  They
had been trying for weeks to Skype with him, but technical difficulties and the lack of a translator at times had made it impossible.  “It was wonderful!  He told me he had had several dreams about us since he went back to the Ukraine.”  Best of all, she was able to tell him herself that in less than three weeks she and David would be there in person to hug him and spend time with him and finally get to talk to their hearts’ content!

He was so excited—and so are they!  An opportunity arose for them to go with a small group to Oleg’s orphanage for a week and to actually stay right there at the orphanage, eat with the kids and put on a week of Bible “camp” for them.  The children at the orphanage will be on their fall break from school, so the opportunities for them to be able to spend quality time with Oleg and really bond with him could not be better.

Julie and David wanted so badly to be able to go, but there were several obstacles in the way.  One by one, the Lord cleared those hindrances away and now here we are—preparing to shower Oleg and the other children at the orphanage with as many little blessings as we can!  I am making bracelets for all the girls and Julie is buying little gifts for all of them, as well as taking candy and other goodies and even whatever winter clothes she can get together for the orphans.  Of course, they are taking “special” gifts to Oleg and we are sending presents to him from his new grandpa, grandma and Uncle Robbie, too!

It is always a joy to share with others.  We love giving gifts to our family and friends.  As parents (and grandparents) we delight in giving to our children.  It is a blessing, as well, to share with those we know are poor and needy—a blessing both to them and to us.  Whether it is helping out someone on the street, or doing a Christmas shoebox for a child on the other side of the world, or giving of our time and assistance to an elderly neighbor, it blesses our hearts and theirs—and the Lord’s.

Remember the old hymn “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing” ?  That phrase came from Ezekiel 34:26, “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” The Bible tells us that God showers us with blessings and every good gift.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  (James 1:17)  And as much as we love giving gifts to our children and grandchildren, our Heavenly Father delights in giving His children good gifts
even more.  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”  (Matthew 7:11)

He wants us to be givers, as well—not only to those near and dear to us, but to the poor and needy.  Paul said in Acts 20:35, “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  The words he was referring to were from a parable Jesus spoke, “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.  But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:  And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”   (Luke 14:12-14)

Jesus says when we give to those in need, it is as if we are giving to Him.  “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  (Matthew 25:35-40)

We are thrilled to be able to send gifts to our new grandson—but just as excited to send “showers of blessings” to the rest of the kids there, too.  I so wanted to do Operation Shoebox again this Christmas with Samaritan’s Purse, but with our income being cut by more than a third recently, and all the other expenses we’ve had lately, I just didn’t think we could do it this year.  I’m going to have to reconsider, though.  Jesus’ words remind me, we still have far, far more than most of the world and surely out of our abundance we can give a little more.  And what a blessing to know when we give to those in need, we are giving to our precious Savior, too!

I’m excited to shower those kids in the Ukraine with little gifts; excited to fill shoeboxes with little blessings for poor children somewhere in this hard world—and excited to receive showers of blessing and joy in the giving!