Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

I have always loved this verse from Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Two Sundays ago, we had the privilege of hearing from International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.  It was such an amazing message and picture of how God's people are intended to respond to injustice in the world.

As the speaker Rev. Larry Martin noted, God has a passion for the world and for justice.

He then asked the necessary question to follow that statement:

Are our passions the same as Gods?

Well, I'd like to hope that my passions are in line with God's, but what does the way I spend "my" time, "my" thoughts, "my" money, and "my" resources really reflect?

Martin went on to say that nobody has to remind us to love ourselves.  We don't have to wake up in the morning and say, "Jessica, don't forget to think of yourself. Don't forget to set up your personal agenda and meet your personal needs."  Right?  That seems to come pretty naturally all by it's self.  

It's easy to love ourselves (at least in the sense that we usually don't forget about our own needs and desires).

It's easy to love our friends and family (most of the time).

It's easy to like those that like us and that are like us.

But, as we take a look at how Jesus lived his life out on this earth, he was pretty good at hanging out with those who were outcasts of society. The poor and the sick and the weak and the shamed and the unlovable and the unwanted.  THOSE were the ones Jesus sought out.

And so we pray that God would grow our hearts to be more like his because the truth is, with all the bad in the world, some people have a really hard time believing that God is good.

People all around the world are in such desperate circumstances that they are without hope.

When you lose your family member to preventable or easily treatable disease because you happen to live in a third world country, it's hard to believe God is good.

When you spend your childhood days in bondage to slavery and are brutally assaulted day after day in the darkest of places, it's hard to believe there is hope.

When children lose parents and become orphans and are left alone in this world, it's hard to believe in redemption.

When the helpless are unjustly imprisoned, oppressed, and forgotten, it is hard to believe there is light.

But the bible tells us there is hope and he beckons us to be the light in the darkness, to stand in the gap for those that suffer.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." 
Matthew 5:14,16

We are the ones called to go and to meet those in the darkness and to be a light.

As I thought of those people who are right now in that place of feeling so alone and forgotten and hopeless, I couldn't help but think of a video I recently viewed of this precious girl Selah who was once in the darkest most hopeless place in her life.  God used one family's obedience to show her His love for her and restore her.

There are so many like Selah.  People in desperate situations. Praise God for faithful organizations like IJM who are battling evil to bring hope to the oppressed and for faithful families like the Twietmeyers who have stated Project Hopeful to bring hope to other kids like their daughter.

You see, it only takes our obedience to make a difference.

God doesn't expect us to have all the answers or all the resources, he only asks, "What do you have?" and "Will you give it to me?"

In the familiar story of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus tells the disciples to feed the hungry.  Now we all know that Jesus could have easily done this himself, but he wanted to teach a valuable lesson here.

The disciples say it would take way more money to feed these people than any of them had (which coincidentally Jesus already knew).

But one boy steps up in obedience, shares his lunch and God works a miracle providing baskets of food in excess of what was even needed.  God doesn't ask us to be miracle workers, he just asks us to obey. What do we have?  Will we give it to him?  Our time, our energy, our thoughts, our prayers, our money, our talents......when we obey, he takes responsibility for the miracles.

I want to point out that God never asks if we have "enough."  God works despite our inadequacy.   He simply asks for our "yes" and then takes care of the rest for his glory.

Martin concluded by telling us that if you want to see how brightly your light can shine in this world, take it to the darkness.

So I'll ask myself and I'll ask you again:

What do you have?

Will you give it to God?

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:17

Friday, August 9, 2013

School is in Session

We're back at it and it's so good to be back to some routine around here. 

The school room was relocated to our old playroom.  The big kids got big kid desks and our school grew by one with the addition of Colton, my newest Kindergartner.

Rahel is in 6th grade (so glad middle school is happening right here in our own house)

Caleb is in 4th grade.

Hermela is also in 4th.

Caroline is in 2nd grade.

Meron is our other 2nd grader.

Colton is starting Kindergarten and is very excited to learn to read this year.

And this little guy, while not actually in school yet, seems to do a good job of making his presence very known during the school day.  He is IN TO EVERYTHING right now.

And while everyone one looks peaceful and angelic in these pictures, rest assured that my house looks like a tornado by the end of the day (I had to take these pics at creative angles so you couldn't see the piles of books that I still haven't put on the shelves and the collection of pencils, paper, toys, and books littering the floor).  We are using Robinson curriculum which focuses on reading, writing and math and also My Father's World Countries and Cultures for our biblical world view which I am loving.  Lots of emphasis on missions, prayer and God's miracles.

My 2013-2014 Class

Praying this year is a blessing to us and to others.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Difference of a Year

A year ago today, I met our sweet 7th child for the first time.  The weeks and months leading up to that meeting were filled with continuous pleas and prayers for a court date before the Ethiopian courts closed for the rainy season.  Our court date was issued and miraculously scheduled for August 8th, just 2 days before the closures.  We were overjoyed!

I believed God for this miracle from the day of Eli's referral and had faithful prayer warriors who petitioned along side of me for whom I will be forever grateful.

On this day last year, August the 4th, I scooped our precious new son into my arms with overwhelming gratitude for God's gracious gift.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.  I knew from the minute we saw his sweet little face that he would be pure joy!

That is exactly what he has been.  We could not be more blessed to have Eli in our family.

Eli and mommy August 2012

One Year Later

 Eli has a special love for his daddy.  He lights up whenever Nick is in the room and can't get enough of him.  I think this too is a miracle.  Nick was VERY sure that we were DONE adding to our family, but now that Eli is here, that tune has changed.  God did a mighty work in his heart to start the adoption process again and I believe God has rewarded that act of obedience with this amazing bond he shares with Eli. Just the other day, Nick said to me as Eli was squealing and running around the house, "I love having him running around here."  It's really cool to watch and I know it is totally from God.  Now when we're asked if we are going to ever adopt again, he may say NO as a knee jerk, but he has admitted that if it's God's plan, we will follow.  I love that!

And this baby couldn't be any more loved by his siblings.  He is treasured by the whole family.  I keep thinking that he'll either end up super spoiled, or he'll be super loving because of all the love he's given (almost smothering love I should add :-)


In just a few days, Eli will have been home with our family for a little more than 9 months.  That will mean he will have been in our family longer than he was not.  

I'm looking forward to that day.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them....
Psalm 127:4-5