Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Maranatha.

Let me try as best as I can to explain the week from heaven we just had.  You may never believe me, because it is too good to be true, but it is true, it really happened and more….I will just give a taste of it here in this space.


As a big family, vacations are a stretch and a strain often times.  It’s an act of God to get our schedules to coordinate, and to get all the basic human needs to be met without breaking our backs and banks in the process.  If you don’t want to do all the work yourself, you’re paying 6 or 7 or 9 or 12 times, depending on who you got to bring.

*this is not a complaint…I wouldn’t change a big family for anything, I’m just setting the stage for you to see the glory I experienced last week*

It’s called Maranatha Bible Camp, and it was family camp week at this camp.
Maranatha is a word that means, “ Come, O Lord.”
I’m pretty sure He came in the form of a little wagon every day last week
 (more about that later).
 Maranatha was a  sweet taste of heaven on earth.  We had 33 people in our family come from California, Texas, Oregon and Montana and we all agreed it was worth every mile and hour of travel to get to Maxwell, Nebraska and spend the week together.

When we signed up, we had no idea what we were signing up for, but my family wanted a place to congregate and spend some time together.  Shauna, my youngest sis, threw this family camp idea out there, her family had come to it last year and they loved it.  Most of us said we could give it a whirl, having no idea what to really expect. 




When we showed up, we arrived with an extra person, our friend Mulondo Patrick, we had made plans for him to join in, but I hadn’t nailed down all the arrangements.  When we checked in and I began my apology for not having given proper notice and funds ahead of time, and the little loves at the reception desk explained that it was all fine and that we had exceeded the family limit and there would be no more charge.
  When I  initially heard "exceeded the family limit," I automatically went into despair because I thought we were being turned away or at the very least reprimanded.
 NO!!!!
 The opposite, they were rewarding us for being many and bringing more.

What?!?!?! 

I got over my shock of that sweet news, and looked around and could see there were many families with many members and nobody seemed upset or bothered by any of it.



THEN!!!!!
At meal time, the food was delicious and plentiful and served to us 3 solid times a day. 

AND!!!!
When we would  inevitably drop food, at least a plate or partial plate every meal, people would look with complete understanding and trip over themselves to help; instead of irritation and fleeing the scene in fear that our messy kid life will rub off on them.
AND!!!
In between meals, we had activities, that were fun and active and messy.
The camp would plan and provide the fun, execute it, and clean it.  
The kids were tired and wild and happy so so so happy.




THEN!!!!!
We would get up, off the beach, from a hard day of playing, and get ready for dinner, and it was, AGAIN,
 served and yummy and healthy.

THEN!!!!!

At 6:20pm, every single night without fail, this chariot from heaven, equipped with angels arrived, and took all our children. 


  This chariot, filled with angels, was what I called the
 magic wagon.
  It showed up from heaven and had all these angels in charge, and they would pick up our tired,
sun-burned kids with no hesitation, no lecture, no guilt, no glare, no charge. 
This is me when the magic wagon would arrive.

They would come happily and take our children, and love them and care for them and teach them about Jesus.
Us parents would stand in AWE and THANKSGIVING.

THEN!!!!!!
When we came out of the shock of that heavenly experience, we would wander into the air-conditioned building and worship and fellowship and pray and hear the Word and laugh and sing and clap, and listen.


  We could just participate to our hearts content.

THEN!!!!!!
We would go back outside after that piece of heaven, and our children would come back in the chariot with angels in charge, and they would bring back our children.




They were tired and excited, but not so tired they were cranky and not so excited they were out of control.  They perfect balance of tired and excited.
THEN!!!!
We happily would go to another evening fun time, or to the sweet shop for a little treat or whatever caps off a perfect day for all to wind down.


THEN!!!!
We would go to bed so tired and wake up the next day and do it all over again.
UNREAL – NO CATCH
We didn’t have to give them our first born (although I would consider it now, knowing what I know).  We didn’t have to sign over all our earthly possessions.
NOTHING!

AND!!!
Best of all, we were encouraged to draw nearer to God and  love Him more and truly enjoy Him and to love and enjoy our family
 (earthly and heavenly)
 and got to enjoy many of God’s beautiful gifts.

Land and water and food and fun and family and friends.







The ending and highlight of our week was that Maezie asked to be “bathtized”.  She said she wanted her sins washed away, and she wanted to follow God and she said she felt it in her heart when she was singing.  That’s all we could ask for.  Jesus never turned away little children and neither will we.  So she may say it wrong, but she got it right in her heart.
 We are so proud of her.




Thanking Jesus for so many many many things.

Psalm 34:8English Standard Version (ESV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!



http://maranathacamp.org/

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day Charlie

Happy Father's Day to my man.  



As this man is watching his friends empty their nests and slow down a little, he has had to grab another gear and keep going.  He never complains, he just puts his head down and goes to work.    

The things that bless me the most, is the many kids that Charlie provides for, far beyond his own children.  He is a provider and he goes beyond  financial provision,
 Charlie supports with his heart and soul.  He invests beyond the checkbook. 
 He gives himself, he gives his heart and his back and both are strong and constant, and can carry heavy things.



I love my man's silver hair.  I have helped him earn every last one of those beautiful hairs.
Charlie can be a pretty strict dad with a lot of expectation, but he never expects anything he isn't willing to do himself.  He leads by example.  
The most important leading this man does is that he leads in following
JESUS.
Jesus is the Lord of his life and he spends time studying the WORD and instructions of his God.

Some of the hardest things I've ever seen this man do, he has done with a strength and faithfulness that only comes from the Jesus in which he follows.

  He is not usually the first to respond in situations, but he is there soon and with strength, he is a finisher. He will always be the one to see it thru.
 He will clean up the mess that everyone else has left and be the last to leave every single time.
  He always leaves things better than they were.  

I believe this is why God has entrusted Charlie to be a father for so many years, to so many kids and still raising little ones, when all his peers are finishing up, he is a clean up guy, he perseveres longer than most, and so God is using his gifts and talents to keep going and raise up many kids.


Look at the way this baby looks at her daddy, she knows he loves her.  
She knows he has her full attention.

 And they have the same expressions.






Charlie is a strong finisher, but once he knows he has done his part or if he feels ineffective he will move to the side with resolve and strength.

I have watched him marry off 2 of his girls and he knew he had done his part well, and he handed them over to the men that God had designed for them to be with.

This man of mine is a father to all our kids and more and every day I know him he looks more and more like our Father in Heaven. 

Psalm 127:3-5English Standard Version (ESV)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Strengthening Our Core

We had a word of encouragement shared about our family that has caused me to 
SIT UP 
and take notice, and has made me realize I better get in the habit of SITTING UP
and 
STRENGTHENING MY CORE!
It was shared with us during a very early prayer time with some friends, and it was so sweet and simple and profound. 
 He shared how he saw our middle kids. 
 (I literally braced myself for a minute.)
 He felt like the Lord given him some insight and he was ready to share it with us.
  He was talking about our middle kids being the 
CORE and STRENGTH
 in our family. 
We have 9 kids
 (that we have had the honor of raising in our home)
 from birth and from adoption. 
 I have always kind of grouped them in my mind as 
3-3-3. 

3 older
3 middle
3 littles

 Partly because this is my favorite number and it also makes it easier to put them into groups.

  As everyone knows....middle children just fall in the middle.  
They are the ones that have to look up to the older kids and look out  for the littles.
  I've always seen the middle, as the filling.
You just look at the olders and know how things turn out, because you learned a few things along the way with the olders, and then you have the littles that cause you to have to grab a gear because they are gonna give ya a workout.  
The middles are just caught right in the middle. 
They have to go with the flow and fit in with all that is goes on.

 Our middles are the most diverse in the whole bunch.
There is not a flow or fit to this bunch in the middle.

The middle stands out and makes ya 
SIT UP STRAIGHT.

When they line up like this, they call it the Brewer Oreo.  


  Luke, our middle (in age) of the middle children, is the only birth child in the middle 3.  
When I was pregnant with him, I had 5th disease, which can be very dangerous for the baby, then in labor, his heart rate would drop frighteningly low, then when he cleared the birth canal I had a FLOOD of postpartum hit me like a tsunami.
 I had never had anything quite like that. 
 I literally called Charlie from the hospital and told him if he didn't come get me I was taking a taxi home.
  I couldn't stop the crying, and I'm not a typical big cryer. 
 Then, when Luke was a toddler, he had food allergies that almost sent me over the edge.  He has definitely kept me learning and experiencing new things.  Just when I thought by #4,  I had a little bit of experience to draw from,
Luke came along. 


Esther came to us when she was 9 and that threw us all into a crazy spin of a new love and learning how to be a family to our adopted Ugandan daughter and navigate all the ups and downs of learning and growing as a family, that comes with this kind of change and addition.

Mik came to us when he was 10 and we had only known ANYTHING about him for less than 30 days when he came to live with us forever. 
 Within the first 12 hours of ever meeting him face to face he became ours forever. We once again, were off to the races trying to stay ahead of the waves of changes and uncharted territory.

So to think these 3 are the core of the family had never crossed my mind.
 Not even close.

But once he said it and the more I think about it, of course this is God's plan. 
 He has seen it and planned it all along.

 It is a beautiful picture of what God has given us in these 
3 middle kids.

 They are strong and they are solid and they just need to be strengthened  together and not just hanging out in the middle, but truly focused on and encouraged and strengthened as a core group.

I have never been good at core exercises.  I hate working my core.  I like to start and finish with running, and that's about it. You hear all the time, you are only as strong as your core.  This makes a lot of sense to me in our family.  
It's that middle bunch that connects the olders and the littles.
  The middle bunch are the ones that have seen the olders off and watched the youngers come on in.  
  Our middles have had the most challenges in life, in all different ways.  They all come from different places, different countries and backgrounds even.
 They have dealt with the most pain and challenge and change in their lives.
  I have felt like the middles are the ones I just hang on for dear life  and hope and pray for the best.  
Doing that necessary "core" work, sounded too far gone, like we should be satisfied with a healthy soft intact middle.  Strengthening the middle and believing they are the core sounded out of the range of possibilities, like it requires some new work out  that I'm just not equipped to do. 
 I didn't even realize I was thinking like this, until our friend was kind enough and brave enough to speak it out in love, what he saw in our family.
It's amazing to me, that often times takes someone one foot away  to see things so clearly and give encouragement and dig out the beauty that has been there the whole time.

 This core bunch will all be in high school this year.  We only have a few years left to strengthen this core together under our roof before they are stretched in different directions.  I think this was such a timely and positive and beautiful word over our family.  It's funny how just a change in perspective can change the focus and the work out routine.

Here's the other part to this that has been such a gift.....God uses His people to help change our perspective and see our strengths when we can't see them or feel them.   I have prayed plenty of times for these 3 middle kids and never got anything like this out of my time with the Lord, but He was saving it to be shared by another part of the body, a brother in Christ who was willing to listen and pray and share.
   I am so encouraged to gather and pray with others, I think God has special words to share when we gather for the sole purpose of praying together in unity, not just in spirit but in body.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-21English Standard Version (ESV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bossing Jesus. *Praying Like a Mother*

I was feeling especially burdened for my kids yesterday.  I had an opportunity (bliss) to drive to town with no kids in the car, so I just started to pray for them.

  I thought it would ease the burden I was feeling in my heart, but it did the opposite.  I felt discouraged, like every kid that came to mind was battling something hard. From the grown kids to the grands.





  It felt like too much, not too much for God, but too much for me.  I was like, why do I even have to know some of this stuff?  Why can't I just say a little prayer asking God to watch them and care for them and move on to thinking about what I should make for dinner.

I told the Lord, it's too much.  You know what they need, why not just leave me out of it?  What came to my mind startled me.  I instantly thought of Jesus first miracle.  And the part that came to mind was that Jesus had no intention of bothering with the wine supply at the party, it wasn't really a life and death situation by all means.  But, HIS MOTHER, was concerned.  She was a mother and that's what we do.  So she asked Him to fix it.  She went to Jesus, because even though He was her son, she knew He had what it took to fix this little party problem.  Jesus, was maybe a tiny bit annoyed...like, he thought it was just not His issue to solve. 
 Mary was kindof bossing Jesus around, along with his friends.
  But,  He did it, He stepped in and fixed it.  He made wine and He made it the best wine.  He solved a party problem at a mother's request.

Here's what I get out of this, Jesus hears our requests, he even cares about a party problem.  But, He has a special ear for mothers.  God has equipped us moms with a special gift to see something in our kids, that maybe nobody else knows or sees.  We have a unique way of seeing into their little hearts, maybe because their hearts were put together in a mother's body.  I think we can go boldly before Jesus and ask for things nobody else knows they need.  We can also encourage our kids in a way that nobody else can, because we see something others don't. We can call out their gifts like nobody else. 
Dads have their special role, but I know in my house, it revolves around leading and providing and discipline. 

 Those things are needed first and foremost, but as a mom I have the ability to see deeper.  It's not always a blessing, it feels heavy and dark many times, but I know who to go to to "lighten" the load.  The things that I have prayed for on behalf of my kid, God hears and He steps in.  I have prayed for everything from acne to salvation.  There is nothing too big or too small, and God could totally do it all without me even whispering one prayer, but I would miss seeing and knowing that He hears me, and I get to be part of what He is doing in these situations with each of them.  


Praying is hard work people.  Jesus prayed until He sweated blood. There is so much work to be done, especially for our kid,s and I think  praying for them, is the most important and most effective WORK we will ever do for them.  


John 2English Standard Version (ESV)

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Transplant Transition

I’m a firm believer that in order for healing to take place, we have to be honest.  I don’t necessarily think that means we tell everybody everything
 (although for me, I have a hard time with this, I seem to tell it all to everybody or nothing to nobody).

When we are honest about an issue, first with God, and ourselves, and then with others, we can heal up and move forward.

Most times, I just want to move forward and act like some stuff never happened.  The problem with this, is it isn’t honest and it doesn’t allow for complete healing, it leaves people feeling awkward and fake.
I am really good at being awkward and I'm really bad at being fake, so to help avoid as much of both of these as I can, it's just good to give some honest clarity.

I don’t think a blog or social media is a place to vent or process things, but I do think it’s a place for honesty.   If I’m going to put myself out there it needs to be honest and if I’m going to call people friends, even facebook friends, I had better treat them like a friend, even if it’s pretty surface, it can still be an honest surface.

I also believe addressing the elephant in the room can make room for a lot of other things that belong in that space.

We have processed with the peeps that were part of the process, and now it's time to get up and move on.

We have had to make some changes.  We have had a body change. 
 We have transitioned into a different body.
*OK…I know in our culture, in our time this is not funny…well maybe a little*
I'm talking about a church body.  
*For people unfamiliar with
 “church talk”
We worship in a different local church; we belong to a different body of believers.*

We still worship the One and only true God and believe the only TRUTH is God's Word,
 we just worship with a different  group of  people corporately, on a regular basis.

When you are part of THE CHURCH, you are part of God's family no matter where you attend.

This change has felt more like an amputation than a transition at times.
 We are now feeling like we are going to live again, and it’s more like a transplant that was necessary for our health and growth.

It’s taken awhile to realize and accept that we needed a transplant, and then we needed to find a healthy match, and now we are learning how to function and healing is taking place.

Many of us tried together in many ways to make it work with the body we were in, but it became unhealthy for everyone involved.  These kinds of transplants hurt, and take a lot of time to diagnose, and they cause a lot of pain in the process, but they are better in the end.

Where we worship is a big deal to us.  We don't take it casually.  Charlie and I spent too many years just taking it casually and it was dead feeling.  We knew we were supposed to go to church, and we loved Jesus, but it was pretty boring.  We have learned how precious it is to be a part of a body and live it out, and there is nothing casual or boring about it.

 9 years ago, for the first time, we began to understand that we can actually be a part of what God is doing, in our lives, in our time; that God has invited us into His Kingdom work.
We jumped in and made a big splash, and also muddied some waters.
When this bunch is invested, we come with a lot of energy, and we add a lot of diversity, and we come on strong and roll in hot. 
We pour all we have into where we are, and sometimes it’s too much for the people around us.
  We can freak people out. 
 I understand this, as I’m freaked out by us on most days.

  We realized THIS was the only way to live and feel truly alive.
We don't do any of it perfect and many times we flail (thus the muddy water), but thankfully we have a God that takes care of us and the people around us and never gives up on any of us, and He can use all that we offer to Him, even if it's mud sometimes.


Charlie will forever be grateful for the opportunity to build a church building.
 It has been a highlight of 27 years and running of his building career.  To be a builder and a  Kingdom builder at the same time and place, was a privilege and an honor.
 Charlie was humbly honored for the opportunity to preach on several occasions, and officiate the wedding of his daughter, on the same stage that he literally laid the wood on and  hammered the nails into.
 He poured out his blood, sweat and tears both physically and spiritually right in that same spot. 

Hebrews 3:4 (ESV)

(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)


We have experienced some amazing works of the Lord in our own lives and many of the lives we will be connected to for eternity in that body.
 We will always remember with thanksgiving.

I believe when we sit around in heaven and talk about the things we experienced God doing in our lifetime, for us, there will be some good stories to retell about this part of our journey.

We stand on the TRUTH that God is a God of reconciliation and restoration, and we don’t get to be in charge of how or when that happens in any given situation.
We know that He works all things together for our good and for His glory.


Ephesians 1:6-11New Living Translation (NLT)

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.


God is amazing and we will do whatever it takes to grow in the grace and the freedom and the joy that He bought and paid for us on the cross.

So, if you see us every week, or you see us once a year, or at church or in the park or grocery store, we are confident that God’s Kingdom is ever growing, and it is big and beautiful and messy, and it's His Kingdom, not ours, so we must follow His Way, and His leading in our lives for our good and for His Glory.

Ephesians 2:8-11English Standard Version (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fight or Friendship

 I asked these three young men to share a piece of their story with us this last weekend.
 I can't get over it.
 When I tell you these guys are world changers, I mean it.
 They are all different and wild and full of life.
These guys are all bright and spread out all over the map in every way.
When they come together it's a feeding frenzy.
They feed on food and knowledge and friendship.


It seemed like a pretty simple moment sitting in a restaurant, and it turned into one of those times that we all knew was special and deep and different.
These guys are beating the odds. 
They are not going with the flow of the world or taking the easy route in any aspect of their lives.
They do the hard stuff.  They work hard and play hard; they learn and love hard things.


Claiborne took us on a journey of what his college life was, and the changes that he has made in the process.  He has had quite a journey and non of it easy, but very amazing.
 He has learned to mature and to own who he is and what he knows about himself and the world. 
 
He reminded us of how him and Kole became best friends.
 They had a class together their freshman year and they were literally going to fight, and walked away best friends.  I think they felt a connection and it was going to be a fist and face connection or a heart connection.  I'm so glad for the connection they decided on.  Claiborne's freshman year, he came to Oregon and met us, and when I learned a little bit about him I knew he was in our lives forever.  He remembers the day we were taking family pictures and I told him it was a commitment.  I don't take family pictures lightly.  It's a bit like a covenant to me.  He made the decision to be in the picture and from that day on he has been a part of the family.  Claiborne was pretty quiet when I first started "mothering" (pelting with questions) him, so I learned that he loved cookies.  I would bake cookies and tell him he owed me 10 minutes of conversation per cookie.  He liked my cookies, and I liked baking them and learning more about him, so I got to know him pretty well when he lived with us for a summer.

 

This weekend we had the honor of meeting more of his family and they are the best.  They cheered on their Claiborne with such pride and excitement. 
 
 They did a family huddle before parting ways after the graduation and it was so sweet and powerful.   I can tell these people stick together thru thick and thin and love each other strongly.  I'm thankful our circle widened, and now we have even more "family" to love.
  Claiborne had us cheering on one side, and his family cheering on the other side.
 
  We had him surrounded on all sides, with love and support and cheering and whistles and pictures. 
There were over a 1000 graduates and Claiborne stood out among them in every way. 
He is a special guy and we are blessed to have him in our lives.

Brady shared with us his journey in deciding to go to medical school.  I'm excited to watch him become all he is called and equipped to be. Brady is crazy smart, and he is also one of the most polite people I have ever known.  He knows how to treat people with respect and he knows how to relate.  He also shared how he is learning thru teaching, and the things he is learning are about looking deeper into the kids he is teaching.  I know whatever he does will be profound and will make this world a better place to be for everyone.

 Kole, very unwillingly shared a poem that he wrote for a class at Eternity Bible College.  It was good, really good.  He was not very excited to share it, but Kole can be bought.  So.....I paid him to read it, and now I feel like I own that poem (just saying).  Kole has a passion inside of him and a thirst for knowledge and it is all pointed straight at Jesus.  I feel like he is being refined and matured and when he gets his orders from above he will be ready, set, and  he will GO with everything in him.

We ended our time together with Charlie and I getting the privilege and honor of praying over these guys and also for Claiborne's beautiful girlfriend, Erica. We joined hands right in a simple Mexican restaurant and felt connected to God and to each other.  We left knowing more and loving deeper. 

This is what I know to be true....this is only the beginning for these guys and our continued prayers for them. These guys are world changers, and I pray that they put all their big passions and hunger for knowledge into knowing and loving the God that gave them their  amazing lives. I pray they continue to live full speed ahead, taking in everything they can, and pouring out the love that has been given to them for the
 GLORY OF GOD.