Thursday, April 30, 2009

Indescribable...Amazing... WOW... Over The Top Wonderful!!

Ok, for those of you who have been following our adoption journey for a while, you know that I have really struggled because Abby has resisted hugging me, or any other real kind of affection. As a mom who's love language is affection, this has been indescribably hard... My heart has been wounded more times than I can count, when she has so blatantly rejected my affection but would willingly give it to someone else...

I know, I know, for some that would scream significant attachment issues, but I really don't think that was at the root of what was going on. Having had 4 'moms' in her young 6 years, I really believe that she has been having a hard time trusting me, really believing that this is for real...

I'll give you an example related to Scott... Scott has been travelling all week this week. When he left on Monday morning, he left a card for each day that he was gone for me (yes, he is WONDERFUL!! He knows how to speak my other love language, words of affirmation) but he also left a note for each of the kids for me to give them on Wednesday.

So yesterday, I brought out the notes for the kids... As I brought Abby hers, she looked at me and said, "Why daddy give me note? He not coming back?" Just writing that makes me want to cry... But it became very clear to me in that moment that she is still afraid that we aren't forever...

Well, several posts back I wrote about how God was teaching me that I needed to accept Abby's love language and quit expecting a one size fits all road to attachment (Love In Their Language)....

So, that's what I've been doing... At the end of that post I said I was going to make her a card and I really did! I made one for her and Mackenzie and put them on their pillows, of course I couldn't wait for bedtime for them to find them, so the minute they came home from school, I had them go and look for them...They both LOVED their cards...

Well, a few days later Abby brought me the most beautiful picture that she had spent days (Scott knew about it) working on... It said, "Love You...Mother's Day...Happy Mother's Day!" I so wanted to scoop her up in my arms and hug her, but I just made a big fuss and we're looking for the perfect picture frame together...

When I stopped longing for her love on my terms, I found that it was all around me... But today, was one of those amazing, miracle moments...

We rushed home from the baseball game and dinner and Nick and I had to be back at school for a high school transition meeting... So we ran in the house for a minute and as I'm leaving I hear from the top of the stairs... "Love you mommy... Mommy? Can I get a hug?" Yes, you read that right, she asked me for a hug!!!!!

In that moment, I felt like I won the lottery! It was Indescribable... Amazing... WOW... Over The Top Wonderful!!

God is teaching me such an important lesson in perseverance...He is teaching me to love beyond what I would ever dream or think possible...Not just Abby, but all of my children.

One of my favorite quotes that I read when we started this journey was by Donald Miller, "Through Painted Desserts"...

"And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home...some summer and some winter... My hope is that your story will be about changing...about learning to love a child...about learning to love others more than we love ourselves...

We get one story, you and I, one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."

I am the one who has changed, I am learning to love a love others more than myself... Wow, what an incredible journey!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shooting Sports Photos

Ok, I’m just an amateur who loves to take photos, especially sports photos, but since a few of you have asked me to re-post this (because I deleted it), here we go… This post is probably better suited for someone who uses a D-SLR, although I used to get great shots with a point and shoot digital camera before I made the leap to a D-SLR…also, as I write this, I’m assuming a basic knowledge of photography.

Ok, I shoot with a Nikon D50, older model that is no longer made. The one downside to the D-50 is that it only has 6 megapixels…since you definitely need to crop sports photos, more megapixels are better. I always shoot with my Nikkor 70-300 mm lens, I believe it’s the ED-series.

For all other pictures, I always have my Quantaray 18-200mm lens available. Definitely not the quality of a Nikkor lens, but I still love it and it’s much more affordable.

When I’m shooting sports, I always shoot on Shutter Priority… that means I can set my shutter speed and the camera does the rest. Soccer moves way too fast for me to try and shoot manual. On really bright, sunny days, I also use my Circular Polarizer to get those pretty blue skies.

I like my shutter speed to be at 1/1000 of a second or higher, but you need really bright sunlight for that. I’ve been known to shoot at a shutter speed as low as 1/250, and sometimes that gives you a cool effect, like the blur of the ball or foot, but it doesn’t give you as crisp of a photo because it’s not fast enough to stop the action completely. Remember too, when you’re using a long telephoto lens, it picks up camera shake and that can make the image blurry.


(This photo shows you an example of a slower shutter speed...1/640 at f/8... See how the player is sharp but the ball was moving so fast that even 1/640 didn't freeze it, it's just a little blurred. I tend to like that effect because it gives a sense of movement.)

You can also play with your ISO (essentially your film speed, if you had film)… I prefer 200, but I’ll go all the way up to 1600 to capture a late afternoon game, the photos are just more grainy.

One thing to watch is when your shutter speed is set to high, you start compromising your aperture (depth of field) and since you’re shooting from a distance, you want a decent aperture…at least an f/5.6, or f/8 is even better.

As for focus and metering, I use center weighted for both because my main concern is the subject. The one thing you have to be really aware of when using center weighted focusing is that you are centered on the subject… I can’t tell you how many great shots I’ve had be out of focus because the center was just a little off and something in the background was more in focus than the subject.

As for capturing the moment… you need to learn to pan the camera. That means that you anticipate where the ball is headed and start shooting, moving your camera with the player. I set my camera on Continuous Focus so it’s constantly focusing as I do this.


(This photo gives you an idea of what's possible when you start shooting with the beginning of the action... This was a corner kick, I focused on the players all grouped around the goal and started shooting when the kick was made... It is cropped just a tad.)

In a typical soccer game, I will shoot 200-300 photos and keep maybe 50… I literally shoot a play from start to finish, it’s really fun because you can actually watch a play unfold in photos, kind of the old flip book idea… I keep the really good series, but I believe in really editing my photos and keeping the best of the best.

To really capture good photos, you pretty much have to keep the camera to your face... It will take practice, but since you’re probably shooting digital, go for it…take a thousand pictures if you have to. And don’t get frustrated, it just takes some time… I even have to learn how each new team plays so I can better anticipate what’s going to happen.

As I said in the beginning, you will need to crop your photos because the best action shots are the ones that fill the frame (picture)… So, it’s better to shoot at a little wider angle since the action moves so fast, but I do my best to capture what I want in the camera, because the more you crop, the more resolution you lose. The next two photos are a before and after of one that I cropped...Notice how in the second one the players really fill the photo...



I hope this helps a little… Good luck and happy shooting!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Guess What?!

I'm so excited...I'm going back to Africa!!

Back in February, mom said she was going back to Africa for her 3rd mission trip. At the time, and ever since (until last Thursday) I had absolutely NO inkling of a desire to go with her. Not that I didn't love, love, love the first trip, but I just wasn't ready to go back.

So Thursday, I'm standing at the sink getting ready for the day and out of the blue I thought, "I really want to go to Africa." And it wasn't just a passing was an OVERWHELMING desire! Who but God can move a heart like that, so I knew I had to pay attention.

My next thought was to laugh and pray, "Yea You tell Scott."

Later that evening I called my mom and just nonchalantly asked her the dates of the trip and she was so excited to tell me how her trip cost had dropped a $1000 because Delta had cut the airfare, of the flight that she was to go on, by $1000!

At that point, I knew I had to come clean on my reason for asking...and then I had to ask Scott...

Now, I'm a firm, I mean FIRM believer that God NEVER leads a husband and wife in two different directions, so I knew that if God was truly calling me back to Africa, He would move Scott's heart to be in agreement and I knew there were some HUGE obstacles to overcome.

But God did move His heart and he agreed that I should there was one more obstacle... I've booked enough flights to know that sometimes those special airfares disappear almost as quickly as they appeared...or that the number of allotted seats are somehow, that airfare had to make it from Thursday to Monday...

So I prayed all weekend... You see I'm alot like Gideon in the book of he kept throwing out the fleece to be sure that he had the right message from God. Now, I've always felt like Gideon gets a bad rap...he wasn't testing God...his heart was to obey God and he just wanted confirmation that he understood what God was leading him to do...there was A LOT at stake...

So those reduced fares were my fleece... I'm all for going to Africa, BUT only if I'm certain that it's God's will and not just my good idea... Well, I'm happy to say that those fares lasted through the weekend and my seat is reserved!

I have no idea what God has in store for me, but last time He gripped my heart for the people outside the gate...especially the children.


You see, the children's home that we were at had a HUGE gate and fence around the property...the children inside the gate were safe and loved...they heard about Jesus every day, but it was the ones outside the gate, where life was not so secure, that really, really moved me.


I just longed to be around them...I loved planting gardens in the community...I loved being able to talk to them...they were such an incredible blessing. Of course, so were the children and staff at the home, I don't mean to diminsh what AMAZING people they's just that God gives us all different passions and He placed my passion outside the gate...

(One of the gardens we planted and the family that owned it)


So we are headed back to Swaziland in August where we will be blessed for 10 days to work and minister to the children at the orphanage and the people in the community...

I can't wait to see what He has in store...I'm sure it will be perfect, in the community or at the Children's Home! God is SO visible in Africa and He is a TOTALLY amazing God!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Love In Their Language!


Ok, first...April, the photo is for you! LOL!! Yeah, I read your message about how you like blogs better with some photos and I haven't posted a photo in a while... This one is from Easter!

So, for the reason for this post... I've been wrestling A LOT lately with Abby's reluctance to hug and be hugged... Actually, I've wrestled with it for 9 months, since Gotcha Day. We worked out a compromise this week, at the suggestion of her older foster sister, who was adopted at the same time.

She suggested that we establish the times when we would hug and how long the hugs would be... So Abby and I agreed that it would be twice a day...when she left for school and at bed time and that they would be short, gentle hugs, no bear hugs!

Interestingly, she opens her arms to me for hugs now...she seems to be much more willing to give them and receive them...

But all of this got me thinking... (uh...oh!)

I love the book "Love Languages." I'm sure most everyone has read it by now, but there are 5 love languages... Physical touch/affection, Quality time, Gifts, Words of Encouragement and Service.

My love language is DEFINITELY affection and words of encouragement! But Scott's is service... He has the most amazing servant's heart, he will even clean the toilets for me....he's amazing.

But when we started dating, I was such a dope... I demanded that he love me with hugs and words of encouragement and when he didn't, I was annoyingly insecure in the relationship. It took a lot of time (and a broken heart for a few months) for me to finally understand that I needed to hear his "I love you," in his acts of service...which frankly, requires a whole lot more of a person than my love's easy to give a person a hug and a few words of encouragement, that doesn't require that I give so much of myself...but acts of service and quality time require something of the whole person.

So anyway, in mulling over the 'hug' thing with Abby, it hit me square between the eyes (and in the heart) that I was falling into the same trap with her as I did with Scott, over 20 years ago!

Abby's love language is quality time and I think maybe gifts...she loves, I mean LOVES to draw beautiful pictures for wants to know their favorite color and then she creates the most beautiful works of art.

So all this time that I've been worrying about attachment and the lack of physical touch, maybe attachment isn't a 'one size fits all' deal... Maybe attachment is more about love being expressed from the heart in the ways that say I love you to them...instead of what says "I love you" to us.

I realize that physical touch is necessary, and she doesn't shy away from that anymore...she's ok with being tickled...she lets me wash her hair...she'll sit close to me in the chair to watch a movie...

But what I need to take away from this is that I need to stop pushing the "hugging" thing and love her in her love language...

But isn't that just the way our heavenly Father does it for us... I think I've said this a million times since I became a Christian... "I'm awed at how God meets us right where we are." I could tell you a gazillion stories about how God spoke (not audibly) but visibly into my life in a way that I could TOTALLY get... Some might call them coincidences, but there's comes a point when it happens so many times that it takes more faith to believe in coincidences than it does to just see it for what it is... God reaching out to us in a personal and intimate way.

So, I'm turning over a new leaf... I'm going to seek out fun and creative ways to love Abby everyday in way that clearly says, "I love you" in her heart language...not just mine... Hmmm...think I'll go make a card!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today Should Have Been A Fun Day, But...

The weather was beautiful, Zack was finally able to play soccer for the first, real time in 2 months because of an ankle injury. The icing on the cake was that we didn't have any other conflicting commitments, so the whole family was able to go and our best friend's daughter, K., had agreed to join us to keep Abby and Mackenzie company. We took two cars because in between his two games, the girls had plans to go see the Hannah Montana movie (which by the way is GREAT!)...

I was so looking forward to today... I LOVE soccer and it is so much fun to watch at this level of competition...and I have really missed watching Zack play.

So it really should have been a fun day, but... there were parents there today. You know, I'll be the first to admit that I have said things before that I shouldn't have. I'm still ashamed of how I behaved at a game a couple of years ago...

The refereeing gave new meaning to pathetic, every body was up in arms. I didn't say anything horribly ugly, but my voice was among the many picking on one of the referees. At one point, when things got really bad, this other mom that I loved being around, got up and walked away. That stopped me in my tracks...

The next day I went to her and apologized for my behavior and acknowledged her wisdom in moving away from the crowd... she very wisely looked at me and said, "I was angry too, and I just know in those situations how easy it is to get caught up in the mob mentality." Ouch...'mob mentality...' that's EXACTLY like we had behaved. And how would I have felt if that had been Zack refereeing that game? I would have been a mama bear! Regardless of how that kid was calling the game, he didn't deserve what he got that one does.

So back today... my intent in writing this post is not to judge or even maliciously criticize... my heart is finally in the right place after a nice long walk with Chris Tomlin blaring on my IPOD...

But, my intent is hopefully to challenge anyone who is reading this post to think... It's a game... Nothing of any value is at stake... It won't affect their future in any way... Their college or professional careers (even if they're that talented) are not on the line... It's JUST a game...

But today, it was so much more than least from the way the parents behaved... One mom yelled at me for having my chair 3 feet over the midfield line on their side of the field. I heard curse words...BS, the 'F' word and other choice words... a dad, in another game, threw his cup of coffee at the field... and a parent applauded a player for getting a yellow card for going into a tackle with cleats incredibly dangerous and illegal move...and one dad, for the other team, looked at ME and threatened to kick one of our dad's 'a'... I hadn't said a word, I was just standing there taking pictures!

How sad is it that you can't take young children to the soccer field without having to be concerned about the language they will hear?

Funny, my cousin asked me just yesterday if soccer parents were any better than baseball parents... S., if you're reading this... I change what I told you...the answer is a resounding 'NO!"

At first I was really angry about the whole thing... Why can't we all just behave like adults and cheer our children or well or not? Why do we have to behave like there's something significant at stake? News Flash...there is absolutely NOTHING at stake.

Yes, I love it when they's fun...but when the whistle blows, it doesn't mean a thing about those boys...just that one team lost and one team won. But how they behave on the field, says EVERYTHING about their character...and that does matter in the long run.

Not surprisingly, the kids weren't much better than the parents... Zack complained because it seemed that wherever he was on the field, the ball was played to the other side. The coach put him on the left, and the other team played the ball to the right side...the coach moved him to the right side...and the other team played it to the left. I just smiled and said a little prayer of "thank you." As nasty as it was on the field, maybe God was just looking after him! Clearly though, the kids were just acting out what had been modeled for them... How sad..

So, I'm not really mad any more, just sad... From the overflow of the heart, come the words of the mouth... What today really did was allow me a glimpse into some hearts... What I saw was anger and bitterness... A world that seriously has it's priorities all mixed up.

If you have kids in sports, remember, no matter what level of play it is, it is just a game... No one's life is at stake... But what our children see reflected in OUR character, is what we'll see reflected back in theirs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We Seem To Be Getting Somewhere...

Attachment is a funny steps forward...giant steps back...standing still for a while and then one day, magic...

The other day she came bounding in the door from school and said, "Mommy, I make you something." She immediately ran upstairs to where she loves to do crafts and I didn't see her for a while... When she reappeared, she had a beautiful card... The outside said, "Happy Spring You Mommy..." The inside was decorated with a heart and inside the heart, the words, "Love You."

My heart wanted to jump out of my chest and take flight... She'll say "I love you" in response to my saying it, but she's never written it in a card before...she's never seemed so eager to tell me... I wanted to take her in my arms so badly I could hardly stand it, but I didn't want to the spoil the moment by forcing it, so I said, "Abby this is so beautiful, may I please give you a hug?"

She looked at me for a moment and said, "I don't think so mommy." Oh well, I'll take "Love you" over a hug any day... I'm still trusting that the hugs will come...but on her terms.

Today, she brought me two envelopes, one for me and one for Scott. I was told that I couldn't open it until Scott came home, we had to open them together.

Inside... she had colored us each a beautiful cross... God is working in this precious child's heart to draw her to us, but even more importantly to draw her to Him!

Such simple moments that bring so much joy and hope that God is indeed at work!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus' Favorite Color? (Updated with an answer to a question - the update is in red)

It was sweet listening to Mackenzie try and explain Easter to Abby yesterday. We were on our way to church for our Maundy Thursday service, where we take time to remember Jesus' last night before His crucifixion on Friday, and Abby wanted to know why we were going to church in the middle of the week.

And once again, we found ourselves in the dilemma of explaining Jesus to a child who doesn't have a complete grasp of our language and who really has no concept of who Jesus is and what He did for us...yet.

I got tickled as I tried to listen through her ears and her little mind... (Mackenzie) "Well, we're going to church because Jesus died..." (Abby) "He died?" (Mackenzie) "He died, but then He came to life again." (Abby) "He...?" (Mackenzie) "3 days later He rose...He came to life again." (Abby) "Oh..."

You could just see the little wheels turning, trying to figure out exactly what we were talking about... I tried to explain to her that it happened 2000 years ago and that we just take time to remember because He loved us so much.

Well then we got the brilliant idea to try and explain to her about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, how they disobeyed that caused us to be separated from Him and because He loved us so much He wanted to make a way for us to come back to Him... So Jesus allowed Himself to be killed, to take the punishment for what we did, and now someday we can go and live in heaven with Him!

Yea... a little much...but how do you explain the greatest gift in the history of mankind?! I just don't think it's something you can put into words, it's something she will come to understand, over time, in her heart.

I was a little concerned about how this conversation was going...she got really quiet for a while and then I hear, "Mommy, I think I'd like to go to heaven someday.... What do you think Jesus' favorite color is?"

I don't know why but that question has captured my heart... Jesus is becoming so real to her!

(UPDATE... My friend April asked a good question in her comment... why Abby wanted to know what Jesus' favorite color is... Abby LOVES color...she has a beautiful eye for color and it's very important to her to know what colors we like...she often asks me to choose colors that I love when she is making me a bracelet or a that's why it said to me that Jesus was becoming very real to's a question that she often asks of people who are important to her.)

Last night, Mackenzie had a friend sleepover and so I let them stay up a little later than usual... When it was time for them to go to bed, Mackenzie said, "Can I keep reading to Abby?"... "Sure...what are you reading to her?" ... "The story of Adam and Eve and now I want to read her the story of Jesus and the cross... I'm reading to her from the Rhyming Bible since it's easier to understand."

Sweet Mackenzie went back to the beginning, she took time to simplify it, even when she had a good friend over, she was concerned that Abby understand what Jesus did for us!

Happy Easter... May we all take the time to remember what Jesus did for us!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just Thinking...

Yesterday was Abby's second trip to the dentist since we've been home. I was hoping that it would be much better than the first when they had to use the 'power washer' on her teeth to get them clean...but that was not to be the case.

Apparently power washing gets the heavy stuff off, but they still need to be scraped with that annoying little torture device, so Abby had to sit through that yesterday. She was not happy but I unashamedly bribed her with a play date today and it worked...she opened her mouth wide and let them get it done. But bless her heart, I felt so bad for her.

I mean think about it... being adopted is supposed to be a HUGE blessing (and in reality, we know it is better that she has a forever family, better medical and dental care, more educational opportunities, etc.,) but from her 6 year old perspective, in the last 8 months she's been to the doctor numerous times...been poked, prodded, given shots, water squirted in her ears (by the pediatrician...not me!!), had her teeth power washed and scraped...she has to go to school, clean her room, help around the house...some blessing from her perspective!

But yesterday, as I was standing in her shoes (in my heart) for a while, it occurred to me that this is alot like it is when you are adopted older, in a spiritual sense (aka...when you become a Christian at an older age, like I did...age 33).

I think many people have this idea that when you become a Christian, everything is going to get better... that somehow Jesus is Mr. Fix It and He'll make your life work. But that's not how it is at all... He goes to work on your heart and it's a long, and often painful, process.

As you start to read your Bible, He pokes and prods at thoughts and attitudes that aren't very Christ-like... Maybe He'll shine His bright light on your selfishness...or critical attitude...maybe He'll tear down some idols in your heart.... it can be very similar to going to the doctor or's a cleansing and healing, a sanctification process that is often painful and makes you want to run in the opposite direction... It kind of helps you understand why the Israelites kept wanting to go back to Egypt.

Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

When I first became a Christian, my heart needed some serious power needed to be scraped and cleaned...and those early years were tough as I learned to trust Him and let Him do His work in my heart.

But I'm so glad I did... After 10 years I know a peace and joy like I've never known. It doesn't mean there's never a problem...there's plenty of them...but I can rest that I am not in this battle alone and I can know for sure that He loves me and will never leave me or forsake me, that He loves me unconditionally and He will forgive me when I mess up (which I frequently do)!

And I'm happy to say that while my heart continues to need daily maintenance and cleansing, it's not nearly as hard as it was in the beginning!

I think I understand a little better now where Abby is coming from and that will make me more empathetic as I walk through things with her that my other children don't even blink at... You see, they were like those who become Christians early in their's what they've known their entire doctor's appointment and dental check-ups are just as natural to life as lessons that God has for them everyday...

What an amazing journey this continues to be!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Right In The Midst Of Conflict

We've just finished our study in Daniel... 4 more weeks in Colossians and our year will come to an end...another 30 week study completed, they never cease to amaze me how quickly they pass.

For the last 2 weeks, we've been in the last 3 chapters of Daniel and something has not left my mind and heart... As we studied the last vision in chapter 11, I looked at a map to see exactly where Jerusalem was located in relation to the kings of the North and the South. I was shocked to find out how it sits right in between them, some call it a land bridge.

And it dawned on me that God had given this land to His people hundreds of years before the battle between the "North" & the "South" would occur... God strategically placed His people, the smallest and weakest among nations, right in the midst of conflict... What better way to make His Name known to the nations? To shine His glory into a dark world?

But He's done the same thing with His church...we are still strategically located between the North and the South (if you get my drift)...we are strangers in a foreign land...strategically placed in a world full of conflict and our mission is the same as the Israelite's thousands of years ago... to make His Name known to the shine His glory to the world.

But just like the Israelites, we are falling so far short... John Stott wrote the following in "Christian's Salt and Light" for Preaching Today...

"You know what your own country is like. I'm a visitor, and I wouldn't presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.

Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That's what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, "Where is the light?"

If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, "Where is the salt?"

If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there's no sense in blaming society. That's what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is "Where is the church?"

Many of us are living through very difficult times...times of tremendous conflict...the circumstances may all be different...but the theme of conflict is the same. We have a divine opportunity...a privilege to shine God's glory into the make His name known by the way we live through our sorrow and suffering.

I am not in any way saying that we shouldn't angry for a time...or struggle...but I am saying that there comes a point when we need to let Jesus, the lifter of our heads, raise us up so that we can shine His glory into the world.

A friend of mine is living through what I would consider "the perfect storm," some of the most unimaginable circumstances, that all managed to collide at just the right time... But she amazes me. Yes she grieves... She's frustrated... I'm sure she's afraid sometime... But the joy and the peace in her soul is radiant in her face.

She commented to me that she realizes that there is absolutely nothing in her control, that all she can do is get up each day and put her trust in God. She is living in the midst of terrible conflict yet she is making His name known...she is shining His glory into the world. She is a beautiful picture of the abundant life that is available to us in in the midst of in the midst of the ashes...hope in the midst of despair... Jesus in the midst of conflict.

That's why we're here, you make Him known so that others who don't know Him will come to know Him. We have a mission...this life is just not about this's about eternity. Someday we will be able to revel in our eternal reward, but for now, there are others who don't know Him, whose eternity hangs in the balance.

We have a choice, every single day, about how we will live in the midst of conflict... Will we wallow in our own misery? Or will we be salt and light? Shining the glory of God into the world?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Do You Explain God?

How do you explain God to a 6 year old child? How do you explain God to someone who has never heard of Him? Thought of Him? Or in her little mind, seen much evidence of Him in her life?

Well, after our day on Monday, things got very interesting last night. As with the anger and tears that we've experienced in the past, Monday was like a cleansing rain. Yesterday, she was back to herself... talking to me constantly, coloring me a beautiful bookmark and soaking in our praise of her amazing creative ability.

From my last post, I mentioned that she had a place on her hand that was causing me concern... It started about a week ago as just a little bump that was all of sudden starting to get red and look infected. I immediately started applying antibiotic cream and covering it so that it wouldn't spread. But by Monday night, it looked terrible... really red, swollen, just yukky. So that was what brought the angry words about God on Monday night, when we looked at it, even she knew I was going to have to call the doctor on Tuesday.

Well, when Scott put her to bed on Monday night, he prayed for her hand and yesterday morning, when I checked it, it was GREATLY improved...the swelling was gone and it was just a little red! By the afternoon, it looked even better!!

When I put her to bed last night, I pointed out that daddy had prayed for her hand and look at how much better it is... And that brought a barrage of questions...

On Monday night, she started with Is He a boy or girl? Then last night... Where is God? Why can't I see Him? Is He in the sky? Is He looking over us? Is He nice or mean? Who does God pray to?

How do you explain that God is Spirit...that He's not a boy or a girl? I told her that He tells us to call Him Father so I think of Him as a boy... But Jesus talked about how He longed to gather Jerusalem to Himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings...

So God is Father... He is a Warrior... He is a Shepherd... But He nurtures us, cares for us and loves us like a mother for her children...

How do you explain that just because we can't see God, He is still there? How do I explain where He lives? That yes, He is watching over us every moment, that He never slumbers nor sleeps?

How do I explain to a 6 year old, who has never heard of Him...who has never heard the word sin...who has no concept of how desperately we need a Savior to be reconciled to God, that it's not a matter of nice or mean...that it's about the most AMAZING love we could ever imagine? That we can't measure who He is by our circumstances but by the single greatest act of love in the history of creation?

And how do I explain to her that God doesn't need anyone to pray for? That He is the Creator of all things...that He is above all things...that all things were created by Him and for Him and that He answers to no one?

Some pretty deep questions for a 6 year old!!

I've been thinking about "unreached people groups" (people who have never heard the gospel) since our church showed us a video. I had no idea that, according to the Joshua Project, 40.8% of the world's population is still unreached with the gospel. That was shocking to me!

And now, as we struggle to teach Abby about God, I have a whole new appreciation for the struggles that missionaries face... In America, even if you don't believe in Jesus, at least most everyone has some concept of God. And to even begin to have an understanding of Jesus, you have to get the magnitude and awesomeness of God.

(Side trail... I think if people would really stop and consider the implications of God they might be more able to see their need for a Savior. I think I'll flesh that thought out in another blog though...that could be a long side trail.)

But how can Abby even begin to grasp the idea of Jesus until she begins to get the magnitude of God? Even though I didn't become a Christian till Zack was about 5, God was not a foreign idea to them...

I know it's not anything I have to worry about... God is holding her in the palm of His hand and He loves her beyond anything I could imagine... So I trust Him to speak to her heart, at just the right time, to give her understanding at just the right moment and to give Scott and I the words of wisdom that we need for every conversation...

But as her questions make me stop and consider our awesome God, I am once again overwhelmed at how truly AMAZING He is!!