Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Of the Father's Love Begotten

"Of the Father's Love Begotten" is another song I love. The song's opening reminder that Jesus' coming to earth was a part of God's plan from the very beginning reassures me and the hymn's affirmation of the boundless glory of God thrills me.

This particular rendition is sung by a men's choir called Sons of Orpheus. I don't know anything about the group, but they sing a lovely rendition of this song.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
-Isaiah 40:1

Whenever I read those words, I can just feel the music of them. It's not the slow majesty of the Comfort Ye My People passage from Handel's Messiah. I love that work and will post parts of it later, but the music of this Bible passage that sings in my heart moves to the livelier tune of the 17th century hymn later translated by Catherine Winkworth. Some songs capture the deep and quiet hush of Advent. However, this one rings with the anticipation of God's promises and perhaps even the celebration of what we know He will do.

I couldn't find a good professional recording of this carol (very sad!), but I did like the joy in this church choir's rendition.

What Are You Passionate About?

I do some legal work for churches and special needs families, and I tutor from home, but primarily I am a keeper of the home. Like any other calling, support and friendship and learning new skills are important, so I enjoy reading homemaking blogs. I see a lot of wonderful ideas and encouragement there, but passion is not a homemaking word that comes up all that often.

And yet there are things I feel very passionate about, and I suspect you do as well. I'm passionate about my relationship with God, with a trust and a yearning and a love that runs deep even as my own sinful nature makes the path stupidly hard to walk sometimes. I'm passionately in love with my husband and I feel a deep passion for my calling to make a real home and haven for us, and to use that home as a ministry to others.

There are other causes that I feel passionate about supporting as well. I didn't seek them out, but somehow they found me, and as I learned more, they reached deep into my heart. As regular readers of this blog can probably guess, adoption is one of these causes. As an adoptee myself, adoption stories touch my heart and I am very supportive of those seeking to help children find home and family.

When I was fresh out of school, I pretty much fell into a job working with autistic and mentally handicapped young adults. Working with them and their families gave me a fresh perspective, and seeing how many challenges they face in building a life for themselves made me deeply supportive of these folks and their families. As a result, I find myself supporting(with time, prayer and money when I have it) local programs for the disabled as well as ministries such as Reece's Rainbow which helps special needs orphans find adoptive placements.

And then there are the unreached peoples of this world. I've long prayed for various unreached people groups, but when I read Radical this summer, that really caused me to take stock of my prayer life and to focus my efforts. Around the same time, I also learned of the work of The Seed Company's OneVerse project and I could feel God leading my heart toward this project's work.

OneVerse Blogger

I originally wrote about OneVerse because I wanted to enter a contest to go to a conference. I didn't win, but something much more important than a ticket came of that blog piece. As I combed my dictionaries and called up my various multilingual friends, I felt God moving in my heart. Not only will I never look at the Lord's Prayer the same way again, I will never be able to think about the 340 million who lack the ability to read the Bible in their own language without feeling called to do whatever little bit I can to help change that statistic.

And that's why, just as I sometimes speak up for adoption and special needs individuals on my blog, I can't help talking about people who have never had the chance to experience the Word of God. I also just might be giving some translated Bible verses to my family as Christmas presents.

I know that this time of year makes many of us think of others, and of the causes and ministries that God has laid upon our hearts. So, please tell me about it. What are you passionate about?

Monday, November 28, 2011

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

The first time I heard the medieval carol, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," I was riveted. The simple beauty of that melody cutting through the dark, quiet hush of evening service rendered me still and silent. The song's cry to God for Him to come and fulfill the promises of the prophets moves me every Advent season.

And then there was the first time I heard the song sung in Latin, as it probably would have been back in medieval times. The recording I heard was on a Mannheim Steamroller tape that my parents had. I think I played that thing until it was worn through. The artist's arrangement mixing modern elements with the somber echo of a choir makes me think on those times when we feel ourselves to be standing in the dark and longing for that Light. I was able to find the old Mannheim Steamroller version of "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" online, so here it is for you:

My Advent Heart

For me, advent is a time of waiting, of anticipation. It's a time of year when I read my Bible and can feel my imagination hovering on that thin barrier of pages between the Old Testament and the New. With every passing year, I find my heart seduced less by shiny wrapping paper and crowd-packed shopping malls, and more by the promises of the prophets.

And as I read the words of Isaiah 9:6, my heart thrills: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The wonders of the world pale in comparison to the knowledge that generations before Christ came into this world, God knew this would happen and used Isaiah to tell of it.

As I read and pray these weeks leading up to Christmas, I can feel the stirrings of anticipation in my own heart. Some of it comes as an echo of those people in Israel so long ago, knowing that the time of the Messiah was coming and longing to see it within their lifetimes. As the days roll by, my mind tries to come nearer to Bethlehem and to feel something more than a distant memory, passed down generations, of that miraculous night when Christ was born.

However, there is another sort of anticipation, too. After all, we are promised that Christ will come again. No one knows the day or hour, but as Christ tells us in Mark 13, we need to "Keep awake," for the Son of Man will indeed come again. And so, in my heart of hearts, the advent season is not only a time of building up to a commemoration of something that has already happened. I also find myself being reminded of that which is to come.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. This time to reflect upon the days leading up to the birth of Christ is a soul-satisfying time of year for me, and I try not to let the absolute wonder of God's gift to us be lost in the noise of the commercialized version of the Christmas season. This time of year is always a deep time of prayer for me, and I love to listen to the music of Advent and Christmas.

And I love to share it, too! I'll still be posting other things, but I will be posting some Advent and Christmas music for everyone to enjoy as well. I hope that you will be blessed by its message and by the beauty of the music as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus' birth.

Since today is the first Sunday of Advent, I can think of no more appropriate song than, "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus." I have heard this carol sung to a number of different tunes, but the version set to the classic hymn tune, "Hyfrydol" is my favorite. So, here is Twila Paris singing Charles Wesley's classic hymn.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grateful During the Hard Times

The past couple of days have been difficult and yet, when I think on them, the pain is tempered by love and gratitude. Doctors told us last night that my grandmother, who has walked 101 years on this earth, will very soon be leaving us to go home to the God that she has loved for so long. We got together with extended family from all over the state, and while it's been a very emotional time, we cannot help being grateful for all those wonderful memories.

I have strong memories of my grandmother from early childhood on. She loves to laugh, and does so often, finding delight in the world around here. And she is the one who taught me so many hymns, as they were often on her lips while working around the house. And as I sat at her bedside with family late into the night, I got to hear stories of her life from many years before, and it's a legacy of love, family, joy and life.

As I looked around the room last night, in the faces of my family, I saw my grandmother's love of books, her love of songs and singing, her wonderful cooking skills(she ran a cafe while my grandfather was away during WWII), her habit of being constantly in motion, and even her ready smile. But, most of all, through all of the stories, I saw someone who has walked constantly with her Lord. And even though this is a very difficult time, I am so grateful for all the time that I have been given with her.

This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheesy Fish Chowder

This recipe was requested from me on Twitter, and I'm finally getting around to it! This is a delicious soup that I make whenever there's a good sale on fish at the market. Cod is especially good here. It makes a nice big pot of soup - probably serves about 4-5 comfortably. I forget where I originally got this recipe, but I've had it for years and it's delicious!

Cheesy Fish Chowder

2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 lbs. fresh fish (firm, white fish such as cod is best),
cut into bite-size chunks
3 cups chicken broth
garlic and salt to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
2 cans evaporated milk
3 T. cornstarch
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar - sometimes I mix
in mozzarella if I have it)

1. Saute the veggies in olive oil.
2. Add fish and fold into the vegetables. Saute 1 minute and then add chicken broth, garlic, salt and cayenne. Bring to simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Dissolve cornstarch into 1/2 can evaporated milk. Stir remaining milk into soup (I do this gradually and stop adding milk when mixture is creamy enough to suit our taste. The full amount of milk will be pretty rich.)
4. Simmer until soup thickens, and then put heat on low.
5. Stir in cheese over low heat until just melted. Serve with or without croutons.


Also linked at Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving of Praise

Today I was given the chance to participate in Melissa's Thanksgiving of Praise series that is running all through November. You'll find me over there praising God's faithfulness even during the frustrating and scary times, as I tell a story from early in a my marriage. God was and is our rock, even if we forget that in the middle of life's storms sometimes.

After you check out my guest post, I definitely recommend reading the other stories from Thanksgiving of Praise, and I hope you find it a blessing as I did.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time, Like An Ever Rolling Stream

Giant Redwoods at Humboldt 2 Time and growth intertwine in my mind with a certain sense of inevitability. Time will roll on, no matter how we try to stop it. And we will grow. That growth may not always be in a positive direction, but it does happen.

God brings different people and circumstance into our lives, and my constant prayer is that I will learn what He is trying to teach me in every season and that I live my life for HIm as he would have me live it.

Looking at my teenage self, the smugness amazes me. If I had any clue what life across multiple countries, a marriage and many blessings and lessons from the Lord would teach me, I think humility would have come more naturally back in those days. It doesn't always come naturally now, but the more God shows me, the more childlike and awestruck I feel myself becoming.

There are areas of my life that need growth and I'm sure there will always be these, so long as I am visiting here on Earth. I only pray that this growth will be positive in the eyes of God and not too turned upon the standards of the world.
NOTE: You can find the hymn I reference in the title HERE. It's one of my favorites.
This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Midweek Links - Thanksgiving!

Wow - I knew I'd be late posting today, but I hadn't realized I'd be this late. I got a little busy and lost track of time.

However, as Thanksgiving draws near, I've been thinking of the many things I'm thankful for. My family, the chance to gather with cousins, aunts and uncles, and other extended family dear to me next week, a snug roof over my head, a loving husband, the chance to meet lovely bloggers online and to find good reads both encouraging and sometimes deeply challenging, and most of all - a loving Savior that I find myself walking with in ways I never dreamed and now cherish deeply.

Out of all of this abundance, not only do I give thanks but it seems right to me to give. And I think that not only are we called upon to be generous with our resources but also to lift up others in prayer. These are some of my favorite places to give, sometimes financially and sometimes in prayer. I hope these folks inspire you, too!

- Can you imagine what it would be like to have that God-shaped hole inside you, waiting to to be filled and you don't even have the Scripture available in your own language so that you can study God's Word? There is a program out there called OneVerse which is dedicated to getting the Bible translated into those languages which do not have it. Their site is full of information on how to pray over these projects and we can also sponsor verses for translation at $26 per verse.

- I first found out about World Vision through my church, and their Christmas catalog of gifts that we can give to families of the world is wonderful. Everything from access to drinking water to farm animals to school materials. You can find the catalog here.

- It's easy to live our lives without noticing the poor and the marginalized in this country. I've tried to become more conscious of it, and as I have, I've become aware of some truly desperate stories here in my own community. For that reason, I make a point of giving to my local food bank. For my readers in the United States, you can find your local food bank here.

- Packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child is an annual tradition around here. And it's collection week!

- And I know I've mentioned Reece's Rainbow before, but special needs kids are very much on my heart. And the Angel Tree has gone live for this Christmas season!

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Plan a Fabulous Party (Without Losing Your Mind)

The Book: Plan a Fabulous Party(Without Losing Your Mind)
By Mary Carver
ebook, $7.99, available HERE

As you probably saw from my post yesterday, I'm not the perfect homemaking machine. I'm actually a little hospitality-challenged. So, when Mary Carver of Giving Up on Perfect offered me a chance to review an advance copy of her ebook, I jumped right on it. Considering that I'm the sort who would probably be awkward enough to take the advice, "Party like the house is on fire," a bit too literally, I figured out pretty quickly that I'm definitely the intended audience for this book.

If you're highly skilled with crafts, a flawless chef, ruthlessly organized, and could give Martha Stewart a run for her money when it comes to throwing a party, you may not need a hostess guide. I'd love to be on your guest list, though!

If you're like the rest of us who would love to entertain but need some encouragement, this book will be perfect for you. Carver goes through basic aspects of planning any event (budget, theme, food, venue, guest list, etc..) and gives the reader helpful ideas on how to pull everything together. The result is a step-by-step guide to party planning which breaks everything down into small pieces that feel very manageable. There's even a schedule at the back that lets hostesses know what needs to be done and when they would need to do it.

Most importantly of all, not only does the author take a very encouraging tone as she tells readers how to plan that fantastic event, she also starts things off by helping readers get right to the heart of what they're doing. We are urged to consider the purpose of any gathering we might be hosting, and then to work from there. Being purposeful in our hospitality is so important. I also appreciated the reminder that every person attending an event brings his or her own perspective into that event as well and we need to keep those in mind while planning. It's easy to get wrapped up in the details of budget, invitations and food prep and to lose sight of the reasons we may have in our hearts for wanting or needing to bring others together.

So, whether you're trying to figure out the practical side of extending hospitality or you're an experienced hostess who would love to throw a party without getting overwhelmed by the planning details, I think you'll find Plan a Fabulous Party(Without Losing Your Mind) well worth reading. It's a wonderful resource - and I know I'll be using those checklists!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Open Hearts and Homes

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
- 1 Peter 4:9

So many conversations on homemaking focus on the nuts and bolts of cooking and cleaning, or on family discipleship. However, there is one homemaking talent that often gets neglected. We are called upon by God to extend hospitality to others and as the holiday season approaches, I suspect that many anticipate opening their homes just as much as I do.

That's right. I love my friends and I love making new friends, but the thought of opening my home makes me all but break out in hives. You see, in real life, I'm a rather bookish and somewhat introverted sort. And like a lot of bookish people, I have a houseful of books. It's probably hazardous. And that doesn't even touch the admission that sometimes I think I know more about relating to books than I do about entertaining people.

It's paradoxical, really. I love my friends, and I truly enjoy getting to know people and hear their stories. Big crowds make me tired and sometimes I'm shy about reaching out, and yet my heart knows that God created me to live in community with others. And so that still, small voice brings me out of myself seeking to connect with other people.

In that longing for connection I also feel called to bring people closer. We celebrate Thanksgiving, thanking God for all of the wonderful blessings He has showered on us. And we celebrate the birth of God's own Son. These are mighty things and even shy as I sometimes am, I want to share them with others and I feel God's call to extend hospitality to other people ever stronger this time of year.

Autumn table decoration

Somehow in the busyness of everyday life, it seems like an indulgence to throw the chores aside and sit down to tea or coffee with a friend, or with someone new that might be a friend someday. Or the thought of changing up routines in order to have a Christmas open house might seem like too much. Yet I can tell you that I've never once regretted having done any of these things(not even the time I burned the turkey and we had Thanksgiving nachos and pizza from the only convenience store in town that was open!) and I know that God will give me what I need to reach outside my comfort zone and do it again.

When I do things to make my home cozy and inviting, I cherish the warmth that it creates for me and my husband. However, the more I think on it, the more it really does seem selfish not to extend that warmth. If I get lost in my own fears over not knowing what to say to people or my own sometimes disorganization, I'm not only missing a chance to make or deepen friendships for myself. More importantly, a chance to show love to others in Christ's name gets lost in the shuffle. Hospitality is an important part of our ministries from home and it is a way that we can, "love one another with brotherly affection," as Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:10.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares
- Hebrews 13:2

So, how do you normally extend hospitality to others? Do you have the gift of hospitality or is this something about which you need to be more purposeful? What do you plan to do to show hospitality this holiday season?

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

"Expect the unexpected." I've heard that said so many times. Growing up, I thought I had an expected path for my life. I grew up in a Christian home, trying(mostly) to honor my parents. I figured that I would go to college, marry a good Christian man, perhaps become a ministry wife of some sort, and raise a family.

And God showed me early that his path for me was an unexpected one. After 8 years of Spanish class, I followed Him into the refugee camps of Eastern Europe. Because all that Spanish would sure come in handy, right? From a human perspective, it made no sense, but it taught me to rely on God and His provision. And provide He did. My memories of that time are of being wholly out of my element and yet of learning skills and discovering gifts I never dreamed could lurk inside my shy, retiring self.

And God did have a good Christian man in mind for me. This child of missionaries is the love of my life and a godly husband, but we have far from a quiet life in ministry. He has a sometimes hair-raising job dealing with some very dark corners of life, and I've had to learn to manuever the alphabet soup of law and law enforcement. And God has again taken us to unexpected and beautiful places I never knew existed. I've travelled almost my entire state, met incredible people and gotten to see unexpected beauty in old fishing villages and fine mansions and ramshackle cabins high in the mountains.

In addition to living a bit of high adventure sometimes, God teaches me a greater lesson. We deserve none of these blessings He sends us, yet send them He does for He loves us. And viewed in that light, everything of life is unexpected - and for all of these unexpected blessings and gifts I am thankful. I could never have envisioned this life but neither would I trade it. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I know Who will be with me.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
- Psalm 23:4

This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quick Pepperoni Spaghetti

This recipe is adapted from one of my little local/regional cookbook finds - from Capitol Cooking, cookbook of the Alabama Legislative Club, in this case. I received this book from a friend while I was in Alabama for a wedding and it is full of great recipes. While I reduce the recipe when I'm just cooking at home, this Quick Pepperoni Spaghetti serves 12 when you make the whole thing. I've made it for all kinds of church dinners and I never have any left to bring home. Best of all? Kids love it!!
Quick Pepperoni Spaghetti

1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 3 oz. pkg. pepperoni, chopped
1 32 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce w/mushrooms
1 12 ox. pakg. spaghetti
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
fresh grated parmesan cheese

1. Combine onion, bell pepper, beef and pepperoni in skillet. Brown, stirring until crumbled, and drain. [NOTE: If you use 93% lean grass-fed beef, there is almost no grease to drain!]

2. Return mixture to skillet and add spaghetti sauce. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Cook spaghetti in separate saucepan and drain. Place spaghetti in 9 X 13 baking dish.

3. When meat sauce is done simmering, spoon it over on top of spaghetti. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.

4. Bake dish at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.

5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese to taste.

Dig in!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Midweek Links - Adoption Edition

Since adoption has been on my mind all this week already, I thought I'd round it out with some interesting reading I've found around the web. I hope these reads encourage you, too.

First of all, I thought this piece by Kara over at The Chuppies was just a beautiful reflection on adoption. Warning: You will not be able to read this without tearing up!

And then there are those who are still waiting to adopt. Every week or so, Ashley Wells from Putting God First Place puts up updates about her own family's journey to adoption. She has been so real and vulnerable, both on her blog and in her recent ebook, and I really like visiting her site and praying for her future adoption along the way.

I know that not everyone is called to adopt a special needs child, but my own life has been touched by knowing a few very special families who brought children with various special needs into their families. For this reason, I am thankful that a group like Reese's Rainbow exists. They not only help pair families up with children, but they offer opportunities for those of us who are not adoptive parents ourselves to pray for and to help support those who adopt. And they have their Angel Tree up now!

And lastly, just as we are not all called to serve in the same exact capacity within the body of Christ, the church, we do not all have the same callings when it comes to adoption. This article from Ligonier Ministries discusses how we and our churches can involve ourselves in adoption and orphan care issues. For someone interested in the issue, but not sure where she (or he) is called to serve, this is a very inspiring read full of good ideas!

Thank you for being with me as I blog about some very serious adoption stuff that's been on my heart. I think tomorrow might be a little lighter. I might even cook for you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Adoptees Want Their Parents to Know

Thinking about adoption makes me thankful for God choosing a loving and wonderful family for me. And it also makes me think of things I saw and felt growing up, or that I've heard from other adoptees. And even though it doesn't dive into some of the special needs of abused or neglected children(I don't pretend to be enough of an expert for that!), I couldn't help coming up with my list of

Top Three Things Adoptees Want Their Parents to Know

1.We're your children - period. Sounds basic, doesn't it? However, if you really think about it, the way we respond to an adoption shows the children in a family what adoption means. When we read of adoption in the Bible, are we adopted children separated from the rest of the family? No, God has taken us in as His chosen sons and daughters.

My parents didn't do this, but I have been around several situations where parents constantly differentiate between their biological children and their adoptive children. I knew one woman who would talk about "my son Bill" or "my daughter Jen", but always spoke of one of her daughters by calling her, "Mary,my adopted daughter." The poor child never got to be simply, "my daughter Mary" or even "Mary." She was always marked out as different in this woman's speech and I couldn't help but wonder how that might play out in other parts of her life.

2.We do get curious about where we came from. I remember as a child, even though I knew I belonged with my family and I loved them, I still wondered about my biological family. I didn't love my family any less; I was just curious. And I know from my own experience that it helps to know that it's okay to talk about it with our parents or to ask questions about being adopted.

3. I need to know you'll be there. In my case, I was adopted as an infant, so the dynamic was a little different. However, there comes a point when a child gets old enough to realize that in order for there to be an adoption, a child was either orphaned or given up by someone. Not surprisingly, this made me slightly clingier than some of my peers. I needed to know that when Mom dropped me off at school, she really was going to pick me up at 2 just like she did every day. And later on, as I got to know other adoptees, I learned that I wasn't the only one. However, in the end, dealing with this fear of abandonment helped my relationship with God. After testing them time and again, I knew my earthly parents would be there and so when the topic of trusting in God's presence came up, I just knew that I could trust my Father.

I have been blessed by getting to know more and more families who have followed God's leading to adopt and I'm so thankful to see adoption becoming more common. It's an issue that's very much on my heart, but I am also conscious that adoption is not for everyone and God does not call every family down this path. However, for everyone He calls to adopt, I'm starting to notice that He calls some of us to encourage, to pray and to love our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ and their families. I hope this information blesses and encourages you whether you are an adoptive family or simply walking with one along the journey!

Also shared at

Monday, November 7, 2011

November is National Adoption Month!

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:5-6

"Abba Father" - woodburning by Jake Griggs

November is National Adoption Month and that's something that has special meaning for me. There are more than a few bloggers online who have adopted children or seek to adopt, but as an adoptee, I've lived this journey from the other side.

When I encounter Bible verses on adoption, I have a different understanding of them. I've lived a human reflection of this relationship and I know what it means when God tells me that I have been adopted and He is my Abba Father. My adoptive parents loved me from the time I was a baby, and I know what it is to be a part of my human family, completely accepted as if I had been born into it.

So then, when I think of what it is to be adopted into God's family, completely accepted as if I had been born into it, it's almost mindblowing. God, in all of His perfection, claims us in all of our inperfection as His very own children. That is love that we don't earn and that He gives to us completely. Small wonder so many great hymns have been written extolling the wondrous love of God.

Scripture shows us what an awesome responsibility adoptive parents have and it's one I did not appreciate when I was growing up. I treated my parents like pretty much any other kid I knew treated her parents. We weren't always quick on the uptake with that whole "Honor thy father and mother," bit every single day of our lives. And yet, my parents were parents to me and they loved me. I wasn't their charity project, I wasn't the household help, and truth be told, I wasn't treated any differently than any other child under that roof.

And this is important. Because, just as the relationships biological parents have with their children impact in some way how their children encounter God and Scripture, so too do the relationships adoptive parents have with their children. Just imagine how an adopted child will react to what the Bible says about adoption! It's a beautiful gift, but also a huge responsibility. Thankfully, God helps us all through the big responsiblities in life. And in this situation, that's a real blessing because there are so many children out there who need home and family. And as an adoptee, I can tell you that having a home and my own family to belong to made my life much richer and happier than it would have been otherwise.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
- 1 John 3:1(a)



Friday, November 4, 2011

What a Time That Was

"What a time that was!" Whenever these words came from my grandmother's mouth, we knew she had been somewhere worth remembering. Graduations, weddings, a long walk with her friend from across the street - these were all times to remember.

Even at age 100, with her memory starting to fail her, there are still times to savor. I had seen her starting to forget little things over the past year or so. And lately she has started to forget the bigger things and as she comes closer to the day when she will meet her beloved Lord, she needs more and more help with her daily tasks.

Recently she moved in with relatives and I went one day to take her to lunch. Given her frailty and her new tendency to forget a conversation partway through it, I didn't know how it would go. We had to move slowly, eat simpler things than usual and the mind that was once quick with family stories and wild tales needed for me to do more of the talking. Compared to days of hunting Easter eggs all over the farm, of huge extended family dinners with music playing far into the night or of looking over old photos and hearing tales of huge church picnics, river swims and nights spent on country porches listening to long-gone great great uncles playing music, we had a tame day. And yet when I took my grandmother home, she whispered faintly,

"Oh, what a time that was!"
This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review - A World Lost by Wendell Berry

The Book: A World Lost by Wendell Berry
Counterpoint(2008), $13.95

A World Lost is a deceptively short book, only 104 pages. However, it packs a punch far stronger than its small size and gentle, unassuming language would lead one to believe. This story of a 9 year old boy whose life and family are changed forever by one terrible event draws one into an unforgettable world and really makes the reader think.

As the story opens, 9 year old Andy Catlett is spending a carefree summer with his grandparents in rural Kentucky. His world is a peaceful one, and he is secure in the love of his parents and extended family. The wild uncle for whom he was named has gone away to work and in his absence, Andy enjoys a peaceful morning and goes for a swim. His idyllic world is shattered when he learns that his uncle Andrew was murdered in a brawl.

What follows is a bittersweet tale of remembrance. Bitter because we see how deeply the loss of Uncle Andrew grieved Andy's grandparents, father and friends in the town. Bit by bit the story also unwinds to show us the senselessness of what happened. However, there is a sweetness to this book, too. Partly it comes from the beautiful language. One gets the sense that Wendell Berry chooses his every word with great care.

And part of the sweetness comes also from the obvious love that Andy had for his uncle. Though Berry uses genteel language to describe a rather indelicate person, one quickly senses that Uncle Andrew was deeply flawed. And yet he was deeply loved not only by his family but by others in the small town. Though this is not an expressly Christian book, I suspect this running theme of a deeply flawed person being deeply loved even though he did not deserve it will resonate with readers.

If you're looking for good fiction to read, this tale is well worth the time. Stylistically, the writing is beautiful and the author has such insight into human nature as well. I found myself wanting to savor the words as I read them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Midweek Links - The Rose Edition

I've been thinking lately about how much I adore roses. Perhaps they're not the first thing that comes to mind on a crisp fall day, but this photograph by blog designer extraordinaire H. Rae has stayed in my mind since I first saw it.

I'm also a bit of a perfume lover. Evelyn Rose perfume by Crabtree & Evelyn has been a favorite since college. And my husband found me a beautiful new perfume treat that is perfect for fall and winter. Rose Absulute is a delicious, almost spicy rose. I love wearing this one in the fall and winter - such a lovely interpretation of God's creation.

And speaking of being inspired by roses, I love the English Cottage and Petite Rosebuds cozies over at Cozy Tea Treasures. I discovered this Etsy shop via a giveaway at Raising Homemakers, and I have enjoyed browsing all kinds of adorable cozies over there. I'm co-hosting a bridal shower tea party in January with a good friend, so I may get one for the occasion.

I actually read this piece by Angela Nazworth earlier this summer, but it stuck with me. I love her thoughts on literally stopping to smell the roses and appreciate God's creation. And the Heroines of the Faith blog has all kinds of lovely rosy images on it, and there's even a homeschool unit study focused on roses in the archives.

So, what do you do to "stop and smell the roses?"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Being Dragged into the Modern Age!

I've heard it said that since I was under 25 when this century began, I should be embracing of new technologies. Um...maybe we shouldn't be so fast on those generalizations. I was the last holdout among my friends to get an email account (and that was just because a professor required it). I still write letters, I don't have an iPhone, and I just got my laptop last year.

I started blogging in May and figured I'd never wind up on Facebook. As you can see from my sidebar, I'm there now. Then I thought Facebook might be a fun way to interact with bloggers and readers that I was starting to become friends with, but I decided Twitter would just be too much time commitment on my part. Are we sensing a theme here?

I had a little below-the-radar Twitter account just so that I could enter a contest this fall, and I kept meaning to delete it. And every time I went to do it, I could just hear a little voice holding me back. I've prayed about it for the last month and even though I still have concerns about the time commitment, I am officially up on Twitter! In offline life, I tend to be one of those people who likes to be listening to conversations but I don't always talk a lot, so I'm not sure how much I'll be tweeting (famous last words). I figure I'll see where God leads me and if you tweet, you'll find me at @JoyfulHomeAmy. I'd love to hear from you!