Thursday, December 27, 2012

Good intentions...

Christmas is over and I'm putting away decorations, partially used wrapping paper, gift bags that we recycle year after year, etc. I decided to sort through a corner in the storage room where we store our Christmas stuff.  (It's a quiet afternoon, and I'm trying to "simplify" our lives but who am I kidding - these shelves will quickly be filled with other "goodies" at a great price that I couldn't resist!) But alas, for now, these unwanted, unused "treasures" are going to the Goodwill.

In my simplifying, I found a tote bag filled with cross stitch/needlepoint projects. (That may be the first clue as to how long I've been meaning to start/complete them.) Some were unopened, some had one small part done, some were almost completed, and ONE was finished, but was sadly out of style with our "modern" decor.

I took a picture for you to see my good intentions.

I moved a bag filled with these projects when we left Delaware 12 years ago and hadn't even opened it.

All my good intentions piled in one bag!

Why is it to so hard to part with things?

Not just stuff, but why is it so hard to part with bad habits, wrong ways of thinking, unhealthy choices...?
Or it could be that I hang on to things thinking that someday I will work on them, but that day never comes.

Whatever.. I've gathered these up and they're GONE! (unless I run across them at the Goodwill and have a change of heart HA)

Hope you have a good new year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I asked Jenny Hall to share their adoption story with us and here's what she wrote:

I wanted to share some exciting news with you in case you haven't already heard. (Please forgive me for sharing if you already know these details.)

Last Thursday, December 6, our adoption agency let us know about a baby boy who was born on November 27th. He weighed 7 lbs 8 oz and was 20 inches long. We told them that we were interested in our profile being shown to the birth parents.

The next day, Friday, our adoption worker called and said that this little guy would be our new son!! Evidently, the birth parents did not want to choose the adoptive parents, and we were the family waiting the longest. We were ecstatic!

We have always wanted to adopt again, and Allison has been praying for a sibling ever since she could talk.

We started this journey almost 3 years ago in 2009 when a young woman in NC asked us to adopt the baby girl she was carrying because she didn't feel she could parent. Feeling it was the Lord's will, we contacted Bethany Christian Services in Lancaster, PA, and began the process to adopt a second time. We were very excited as we planned to bring home another baby girl!

As the time for the birth mom to deliver came closer, she decided she wanted to parent. Our family was sad, but understood and trusted that the Lord is in complete control.

We finished the pre-adoption process with Bethany and became clients waiting to adopt.

At the beginning of this year (2012), we received information that birthparents in Illinois were looking for an adoptive family for their unborn baby girl due in February. We were open to whatever the Lord had for us, so we pursued the possibility. We had to update our clearances, update our homestudy, and do many other things personally and through the agency to prepare to bring this baby girl home. Once she was born, however, the birthparents decided that they would parent.

Again, we understood, but were completely heartbroken. So much so, that Allen and I had decided privately in our hearts that when our clearances ran out in January, we would not renew them. Financially, we were very invested with Bethany for the adoption process, but the two times our hearts, especially Allison's, had been broken were almost too much to handle to try again.

We continued to let the agency know for which adoption situations we would like to have our profiles shown to the birthparents. However, our family had not been chosen. In our own hearts, we kept asking the Lord why we had ever begun this journey if He didn't have plans to bless us with a child. We were trying to figure out how this was supposed to impact our lives for Christ.

Added into this mix, our family needed a newer vehicle. We figured we would look into it the first of the year. However, in October, Allen's Mom called and said some friends of ours in North Carolina were getting a new vehicle and wanted to give our family their nice 2006 minivan. We were so tickled!

Interestingly, we had just finished watching the movie Facing the Giants. The coach on the movie was given a new vehicle. If you've seen the movie, you know what else happens at the end. We gave all the praise to the Lord and were quite overwhelmed, but we wondered why He wanted us to have a minivan with just 3 of us.

Well, we found out what God had in mind when we brought our new son, Joshua Allen, home this past Thursday, December 13th! There was no way we would have been able to get a newer vehicle and also be able to adopt a new baby!

God's ways truly are higher than our ways! He composed every note, even to the precious family of 7 that was asked to take care of our son in respite care until he could come to his forever home. We had the privilege to go to their home on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday to spend a few precious hours with our baby boy. What a special time we all had together! We will treasure those moments forever.

We enjoyed a precious placement ceremony with the birthmommy and the respite care family present. At one point in the ceremony, the birthmommy placed Joshua into my arms. Words cannot describe the ache my heart felt for her and the excitement I felt for myself. I was in awe as I looked down into the face of my son. My son!

For years I have prayed that God would bless our home with a child for Christmas. He did not forget me. I am so thankful for a faithful Heavenly Father!

It is amazing just to sit and watch Allen interact with his son and Allison with her little brother! My heart overflows with gratefulness and love. Please help us pray that all of the legalities will go through easily and quickly. We still have legal risk until about the end of January. (That means the parents can contest the adoption.)

Thank you so much for your prayers over the years. Just as the angel told Zacharias concerning John the Baptist, God heard our prayers. He also heard the prayers of our family and friends. We look forward to a new family picture soon!

May God bless you and yours with a precious Christmas season!


Jenny, Allen, Allison, and Joshua Hall

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Please pray...



Tim and Robyn Osborn are home missionaries to Oakland, Tennessee (a suburb of Memphis). Tim was diagnosed with stage-three colon cancer and underwent extensive chemotherapy. Things looked good for awhile, but he recently had a PT scan and more spots were found so he started another round of chemo.

On November 28th, he went back to the doctor and received bad news. The doctor said the chemo was not working and didn't know what else to do. He was to contact Vanderbilt or MD Anderson to see if they have anything new that might slow the progression of the cancer. They are still waiting to hear.

I contacted Robyn and this was her latest update yesterday, "The doctor said Tim's cancer will become life threatening in 6 to 12 months. Right now Tim is trying some natural therapies trying to slow it down himself. He would really like to be around for our new church, which is doing very well and our precious children, 5 of which are still at home. We are praying that God will heal Tim and give him more time to finish his work here. Our youngest is only four. I don't believe it is God's will for our kids to grow up without a dad."

Please put Tim and Robyn on your prayer list. We do not always know God's will or understand what He is doing, but I believe it is not wrong to ask for healing on his behalf.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Part 3... Defeating Depression

On Monday, I shared some insights from the book, Defeating Depression by Leslie Vernick. Wednesday, I shared a Biblical example of Elijah. Today is the last part of this "series" on Depression. (I would encourage you to read this book, if you are interested in learning more.)

When Elijah was depressed, he withdrew from people, yet God never lost track of him and cared for him. Even in our darkest moments, we can be sure that God knows and cares about us. When Elijah shared his feelings with God, he then listened to what God said back to him.

Talking with God (prayer) is always a dialogue. It's the listening part that is so hard for me - the listening and the really believing it part. Oh, I can read it, but then I ask, "Is this really true for ME?"

Jesus repeatedly said that He is the truth and that His words are truth, but do we really believe Him?

Leslie Vernick, in Defeating Depression, gives two questions that we should ask ourselves:

·         Would you feel different today if you really believed God loved you with His whole heart and deeply longed for you to love Him back?

·         Would you see yourself and your life more hopefully if you believed that He has a plan for your life that is good and for your good, even through this depression?

We may believe things with our heads, but not really believe them in our hearts. Unbelief is one of the reasons that Israelites missed out on God's blessings. (Hebrews 3:19)

"Connecting in a personal, heartfelt way to God is one of the most potent things you can do to feel hopeful when life is painful," Vernick writes.

How do we do this?

There are many ways to listen to God. Probably one of the best ways is to read portions of the Bible and reflect on them. This requires being still before God. Vernick says that she even visualizes Jesus coming and sitting in a chair next to her. Writing out her feelings in a journal helps to get things out. Then she reads a passage of Scripture - maybe a whole chapter, maybe just a couple of verses - reading until something speaks to her. Then she says that she imagines Jesus gently asking, "Do you believe me?"

This is often hard to do on our good days, but it is especially hard to read and reflect when depression is camping in our house. But I've found that slowing down to hear God's voice can give me the faith and what I need to keep going. There are other ways to hear God --- sometimes I listen to quiet music, sometimes I go through the hymnal and play the old hymns paying attention to the words, sometimes I re-read my journal and remember God's faithfulness. The key is focusing on God and who He is and what He can do. Connecting with God in a meaningful way gives me hope and renewed faith.

Elijah's experience with depression shows that it can happen to anyone, even the most spiritually minded. His story reminds us that God cares. God, first, took care of Elijah's physical needs with adequate rest and food (a good starting place), but then He personally spoke to Elijah. God is there for us, we must not isolate ourselves from Him. He is waiting to reassure you of His love, His plan for you.

 Do you believe that?  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where's Your Hope

On Monday, I posted a blog about depression and discussed where our hope should be God alone. Having our hope in temporary things, which can be lost or destroyed, can cause us to lose hope and feel depressed.

Today, I'd like to give an example from the Bible: Elijah. Elijah was a well-known prophet of Israel and a godly man. Obviously, he was a man of great faith as he prayed that it wouldn't rain and it didn't rain for three and a half years! He was no spiritual slacker, but walked with and was obedient to God.

At God's instructions, he had a great showdown with the prophets of Baal in order to prove whose God was more powerful. (The story is told in 1 Kings 18:18-39.) After this great spiritual victory, why does Elijah suffer such a severe depression that he asked God to take his life?

Vernick in her book, Defeating Depression, suggests a few reasons. Elijah was probably physically and mentally exhausted. But Vernick suggests one thing I had never really seen or thought of before. She says that in order to understand the why, we need to understand who Elijah was and what he hoped for. She says that in the whirlwind of his ministry and the miraculous things he did, his "treasure" began to subtly shift from hoping in God alone to hoping in what God would do next.

Elijah's deepest desire was to see Israel turn her heart back to God. His sole purpose for the confrontation with the prophets of Baal was for Israel to see the greatness of God and repent. The people gave a verbal assent, but they did not really allow God to capture their heart. And Elijah certainly did not convince the king, Ahab, who then told his wife, Jezebel what happened and she ordered the prophet to be killed.

When Elijah heard this, he immediately was filled with fear and ran for his life. He grew despondent. "I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." (1 Kings 19:6)

Vernick says that Elijah became depressed when he lost his "treasure." He had hoped that his life and ministry would have a significant impact on Israel and that she would finally turn back to God. But when this didn't happen, he felt disappointed and even hopeless.

We can become depressed when we put our hope in anything but God.

Like Elijah, we can even put our hope in good things, even godly, spiritual things. We can hope for a restored marriage, a repentant prodigal child, or even a meaningful ministry, but when it doesn't happen we feel crushed and disappointed. Our heart is broken. Satan loses no time in these moments and causes us to doubt God's love or goodness.

God tenderly cared for Elijah in his depression; he didn't scold or reject him. First, he cared for his physical needs and then, gently spoke to him. Elijah honestly told God his feelings and God answered him. (1 Kings 19:10-18) God reminded Elijah that HE was in control and there was more to the picture than what Elijah was really seeing (truths he had forgotten in the midst of his depression).

What can we learn from Elijah's experience? How can we make God our hope, our only treasure?
More on that on Friday...