Saturday, September 22, 2012

Our Adoption: Urgent Prayer Request

At the orphanage -- September 2012
Our little girl is the one in the middle!
We would be so grateful if you would pray one simple prayer for us perseveringly until we get news that God has answered our collective cry.

Please pray that we will get a court date before the end of the year. We were told this week by our adoption service provider that this will be nearly impossible. She also informed my husband, Jim, that if our case goes into the next calendar year, many of our documents will have to be redone simply because the year 2013 now appears at the top of the calendar. This redoing of paperwork is not a quick process. The cost in time is likely to slow down our ability to bring home our four siblings by two to three months.

So, please, would you cry out to the Father of the Fatherless that He would do the impossible for us--yet again and give us a court date in Russia before January 1? After all, "For nothing will be impossible with God." (Luke 1:27). In your prayers, you partner with us in orphan care (James 1:27)! Thank you, we simply couldn't do what we do with out an enourmous prayer team!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learning to Love, Part 2a--"Self-Sacrifice"

A restaurant in which my husband and daughter, Lissie, ate a couple of weeks ago in a Central Asian capitol.
Like this beautiful ceiling, I want my love for others to be lavish and rich
As I said in Part 1 of this series of posts, I want to share Paul Tripp's wisdom when it comes to a biblical understanding of a very misunderstood concept--love. Here's his definition:
"Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving."
Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect??, Crossway; pg 188--hardback
For me, this definition comes at my soul with pricks and pokes. This isn't really how I want love to work. I want love to be about me. I want attention to be focused on my needs and my wants. In fact, I want to be the center of attention.

However, Tripp makes it painfully clear that there is no such thing as self-focused "love." In his book, Tripp not only defines love. He carefully breaks down each of the thoughts embedded in his scripturally-based definition. Today we'll look at love being an act of self-sacrifice, which, of course, is as far as you can get from the selfish, self-focused "love" our culture touts and which, truthfully, my natural self craves.
"Love is willing self-sacrifice. There's no such thing as love without sacrifice. Love calls you beyond the borders of your own wants, needs, and feelings. Love calls you to be willing to invest time, energy, money, resources, personal ability and gifts for the good of another. Love calls you to serve, to wait, to give, to suffer, to forgive, and to do all these things again and again." (pg.188) 
I mentioned in my last post that Tripp's book is on the subject of marriage. As things so often are in God's economy, the choices I must make to have a strong, healthy, delight-filled marriage are the very same choices that will enable me to be the parent which I long to be.

Whether my focus in any particular moment is on my husband or my children, I cannot do what Tripp lays out as he expounds on the term self-sacrifice. I can't. Not without help anyway. Thankfully, I have a Saviour who has promised me the very strength I need to die--to self that is. All I have to do is ask. Experience--28 years as a wife and 22 years as a mother--tells me that I will, however, have to ask again and again and again and... But God sets no limits on His willingness to come to our aid in our desire to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Paul Tripp has more to say about the concept of loving self-sacrificially. I don't know about you, but I need to chew on just these few sentences for while before I'm ready for more. So, Learning to Love, Part 2b--"Self-Sacrifice" is yet to come.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Learning to Love, Part 1

A restaurant in Central Asia--May my love be large and expansive like this beautiful place!

In his book on marriage, What Did You Expect?, author Paul David Tripp shares some of the best wisdom Jim and I have read regarding getting along with people in any relationship. Period. With a family of 15 (soon to be 19 as we add four siblings through adoption), Jim and I are keenly aware of our need to live well with others!

In fact, we've taken Tripp's definition of love as our family's. He boils down so much Scripture into one powerful (and sometimes powerfully convicting!) sentence.

In the next few posts, I'm going to share Tripp's break down of each of the components of his definition. I need the reminder. If you do too, may you be blessed!
"Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the other person being loved is deserving."
Paul Tripp, Crossway, pg. 188 (hardback)
Tripp says:
"Love is willing. Jesus said, 'No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.' (John 10:18 ESV). The decisions, words, and actions of love always grow in the soil of a willing heart. You cannot force a person to love. If you are forcing someone to love, by the very nature of the act you are demonstrating that this person doesn't in fact love." (pg. 188) 
What if my heart is, when I'm really honest, unwilling? As many commandments as there are to love in the Bible (Please, if you're not familiar with them, get out your Bible and go on a hunt!), it's time to fall to my knees, confess my sin, and ask God to make me willing. And then ask again, and again, and... Just like the nagging widow (Luke 18:1-8). We know this is a prayer He will answer because we are praying for His will to be done. And, what He commands, He enables!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Just a Couple Favorite Photos

I've been sorting photos today following our very recent international trip. While sorting, I stumbled across this photo of our daughter, Anna, and her dear friend, Emily. The two grew up together, and then both were in each other's weddings in early 2011. Emily is holding our first grandchild, Brielle.

Here's Emily with her mom (my very dear friend, Angela) and her sister, Alexa, a dear friend of all of the girls in our family.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

We're NOT Hopeless

This morning, I picked up a book on my nightstand preparing to put it away. Before I did, I opened it and saw the quote below. Octavious Winslow's words (written in the 1800s) capture why I named my personal blog A Deep Breath of Hope. I often need the reminder--and perhaps at times my reader do also--if I keep my eyes fixed upwards, I'm need not be hopeless, even when my circumstances would logically overwhelm me.
"My reader, are your circumstances trying? Are your resources depleted?Are clouds gathering? Do you find yourself tempted to to succumb to despondency and despair? There is hope for you in God! All other sources and gleams of hope may have expired, but God is the God of hope, and in His power and love, in His word and faithfulness, you may hope even against hope. Take heart, then, and look up. Never yield to despair while there is hope in God. If things look discouraging, and prospects are gloomy, there is one Being to whose providence you may always turn with the full assurance of hope; in His divine love and infinite resources, you will find compassion, support and help."
Our God, Reformation Heritage Books, pg. 22