Archive | August 2012

“No Licky-Licky My Toes!”

It finally happened!  We had the joy of traveling to Alabama last week to meet our two newest grandchildren, James and Anastasia.  Those of you who read Sundays with Cindy know the adoption journey for our kids, Julie and David, has been long and arduous and taken unexpected twists and turns.  What started out five years ago as a quest to adopt babies and/or young children from El Salvador brought instead the blessing of two teenagers from the Ukraine!  It was very difficult; very, very expensive; and required much longer separations between them and their other three children than they would have ever dreamed, but now they can begin to build their family together in a new dynamic.

What a houseful they now have!  It was so exciting to walk in the door and see our original three beloved Sanchez grandchildren, Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah, and then to put our arms around Anastasia and James for the first time and welcome them into the family as well.  It amazed me to see Julie surrounded by all these big kids—a fifteen-year-old, two fourteen-year-olds, a twelve-year-old and an eight-year-old!  It was so obvious that they all adore their mama.  There is a lot of love in that family—as well as a lot of noise, teasing and laughter!

Poor David.  He has been transferred to California and had to go without the family.  Julie and the kids will follow once they have rented out their house—and have a home to move into out in California.  He did surprise the kids with a quick visit the last weekend we were there, but for the most part, David is missing out on all the fun, the work—and the bonding.

Bonding together as one close-knit family unit.  It does not happen overnight.  There is a genuine love there, but blending together and learning to live with one another takes time.  The three original kids grew up from babies learning the boundaries, respecting the rules, and hearing about the love of Jesus and loving Him back.  It is all new to James and Anastasia.  They have sweet, loving hearts and although they have accepted their new way of life, they do not always understand when Mama has to say no. 

Communication in these few weeks they have been together has grown by leaps and bounds.  We were amazed at how well they all get by with the simple language skills and vocabulary James and Anastasia have picked up already.  We giggled at one of Anastasia’s first full sentences.  “No licky-licky my toes!” she scolded Pebbles the dog.  It became one of those family catch-phrases that makes us all laugh.  Hopefully, as they delve more deeply into their Rosetta Stone English program, it won’t be long until they are speaking and understanding English fluently, which in turn will help them as they bond with one another.

Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  Julie says each week is a little easier than the last as the children learn to love and live together with one another and are beginning to feel like true brothers and sisters.  Oh sure, it is not always all sunbeams and rainbows.  They pick at one another now and then, like true siblings do, and they have their little rivalries.  As they mature and grow together as a family, however, those things will become fewer and farther between, hopefully, and the family will become strengthened and unified in love.

We in the family of God are called to love one another in unity, as well.  The apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1-7 says, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”  Paul is saying that we need to forget our past differences and rivalries and, with humility and patience, strive for unity and peace with one another.  After all, he says, we are One in the Lord by His grace.

Furthermore, Paul says in verses 11-16, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”   There are differences in what the Lord has called each of us to do, Paul says, but they are meant to help one another and strengthen the Family as a whole.  We need to grow up, he says, and be steadfast in the faith, in knowledge and in truth.  We are to mature and be unified in Christ, and as we do, the entire Family will be built up in love.

Brothers and sisters—don’t you just love ‘em?  Really!

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Powerless!

Yesterday was oppressively hot and muggy.  I’m a wimp when it comes to hot weather.  I prefer to stay indoors with my sweet air conditioning, thank you very much.  Yesterday I wanted to spend some time with my mom and sister, though, so I ventured out into the Amazon rainforest (well, it felt like it anyway!) and picked them up.  We only went to Taco Bell, but enjoyed our south-of-the-border food and each other’s company and then, all too soon, I took them home.

I needed to hurry home myself because Bob had work to do and Robbie was awake and needed attention, but I made a quick stop along the way to pick up strawberries that were on sale and a graham cracker pie crust.  I had some sugar-free strawberry glaze at home that was just crying out to be made into a pie, and since my husband had been hinting around all week for said pie I decided this was the day, this was the night, we were having fresh strawberry pie!  M-m-m, good!

By the time I got home and took my three or four bags of groceries into the house (well, ok, I grabbed a few other things off the shelves between the strawberries and the pie crust) I was hot and sweaty!  Ahhh—the house felt cool and wonderful, and soon I had cooled down and was ready to make the pie.

In the hour that I had been home, however, there was a dramatic turn in the weather.  The skies had been blue with a blazing hot sun, but suddenly they turned black, almost as night.  The wind whipped up and branches from our neighbors’ tree fell onto our driveway.  Bob grabbed the plants he had left on the porch outside earlier in the day to transplant in front of our house and brought them in.  Just in the nick of time.  It looked like tornado weather, but I was surprised to see no hail, and thankfully, no twister; no thunder and lightning—just wind and rain.  We were grateful to see the rain, not only for the parched ground, but also for the hope it brought that things would cool off and the humidity would drop once it was over.

We were surprised a bit when the lights began to flicker—and flicker—and flicker.  Just then the power went off completely and stayed off.  Not to worry.  It rarely happened in our neighborhood, but when it did, it was usually restored within twenty to thirty minutes; occasionally within an hour or two.  It was dark in the house so we got out a couple flashlights and handed one to Robbie—something fun in his eyes!  So much for making the pie.  I would wait a few minutes and when the power came back on, proceed.  Bob had been prepping the walls and ceiling of our living room to paint.  That came to a screeching halt, so he decided to change his clothes and go visit a friend in the hospital.  Lucky him.  Riding in an air-conditioned car, walking into an air-conditioned hospital.  Oops—no power, no automatic garage door opener.  Easily rectified as he released the latch and opened and closed the garage door manually.  My, big, strong man!

By that time the storm had blown over and the sky had begun to lighten.  I turned off the flashlights, put a Gaither DVD in my laptop for Robbie to watch, and went out to the kitchen to cut strawberries.  An hour later the power was still off.  My pie was done, the battery on my laptop was beginning to run down, and though the house was still relatively cool, I was beginning to get a bit nervous.  There was lots of ice cream in the freezer to melt, food that could spoil—me that would melt and spoil without my air conditioning!  What if the power didn’t come back on?   We had just put more insulation in the attic a month or so ago, and it was doing a beautiful job of helping keep the house cooler, but it wouldn’t last forever.  It was still wickedly hot and humid outside.  The storm had not done much to alleviate that.

It was just getting dark (nighttime dark) by the time Bob got home with a pizza.  We ate pizza by candlelight—which might have been nice if the furniture had not all been pushed to the middle of the room when Bob started prepping to paint.  It was 8:30 and the electricity had been off for four hours already.  The evening ahead stretched before us looking long and empty.  I had tried playing a board game by myself while Bob was gone and Robbie was asleep.  Not fun.  I tried reading by flashlight.  Not easy.  Finally while Bob dozed on the couch, I sang to Robbie and played the harmonica for him.  We both enjoyed that, but I couldn’t do it all night long.

It was starting to get warm in the house, so when Bob woke up to take himself off to bed, he decided to open the doors and windows and let the cooler night air in.  Not a good move.  The air was so still outside that no cool breezes came in—but the humidity did.  Pretty soon I was sweating.  I hate to sweat.

At last, Robbie had his last feeding and had sat up for the required hour.  We could go to bed and hopefully when we woke up in the morning the long, long night would be over and the power would be back on.  I took a quick cool shower and went to bed with my head wet, and that did the trick.  I could sleep without feeling sticky and gross.

Three AM.  I woke up with a start.  The electricity was on!  Whoo-hoo!  Lights were blazing, the air conditioning was running, an electric fan was blowing on me…  I jumped up and began shutting the windows and doors.  A moment later and there was Bob.  The sound of the sump pump kicking in had woken him.  I was so excited to have our power back that it took me almost two hours to get back to sleep!

Now, in case you are thinking, “Waaah!  Spoiled baby!  What a wimp that she can’t live without air conditioning and lights and entertainment for ten and a half hours!”—don’t worry.  I was lecturing myself throughout those hours about how spoiled I was.  Think of the people throughout millennia who had lived without air conditioning!  Think about the billions around the world who still live that way!  Think about our fellow Americans who have lived for days and even weeks, sometimes months after a natural disaster without power!  Only a few weeks ago there were hundreds of thousands on the east coast sweltering through 100+ degrees for days on end with no power.  Think about them, Cindy, and quit whining! 

We are dependent on our modern comforts, are we not?  Not only our comforts, but our communications, our technologies, our transportation—all the wonderful inventions that separate us from our ancestors just a century or so ago!  What if someday it was all taken away?  It could happen, you know, if someday someone decided to use an electromagnetic pulse bomb against us, or an extremely powerful solar flare wiped out our satellites and grids.  We would be back to doing things the old-fashioned way—the way Great-great-great-great Grandpa and Grandma did—and not too happy about it, I am sure, after being spoiled with the power we enjoy today.

There is One who is omnipotent, though—all powerful.  It is by His power that this world was created and continues to be held together and sustained.  “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”  (Colossians 1:16, 17)  It will be by His power as well—literally just one word from His mouth—when it will be all destroyed, and yet He will remain and create a new heaven and new earth.  (Isaiah 66:2)  It was by His power that every living creature, including man, was created; and in His hand that we are upheld.  (Psalm 63:8)  It is beyond our imagination to even begin to comprehend the power of God.  These things are just a tiny bit of it.  To try to understand how He could create, sustain, love, protect, guide, provide for, listen to, judge, and provide salvation for every single being who has ever lived or will live is beyond us.  He is that powerful.

I am so thankful my life is in His powerful hands no matter what the future holds.  If the power that energizes our everyday life goes off someday; if the military power that protects our nation be defeated someday; if my life circumstances become  so awful that I feel powerless—I have only to rest in His hands and wait upon Him.  There is too much written in the Scriptures to even scratch the surface concerning His power but I will leave you with simply this—“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  (Revelation 19:6)

Our Lord God omnipotent reigns!

Alleluia!