For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mandy's Forever Family Day

The First Picture we ever saw of Mandy
Mandy's Referral Picture

"Gotcha " Day, July 30, 2007

About four years ago, we saw a picture of a beautiful little girl, and our hearts were sunk. We tried to guess from the picture what she was thinking, what her personality was like, and most of all we wondered if she would love us! Three years ago on this day, the sliding doors to the China Civil Affairs office opened and a precious little girl with a beautiful smile slipped out to greet us (we were still getting out of the van). We saw her and knew her instantly even before the beautiful words "Hello father, hello mother" were spoken. She knew her family, and she was ours forever! I wish I could say that the last three years have been easy, but I cannot. It has been a challenge for her and for us to form the bond and attachment it takes to make any relationship. Each day that relationship grows and changes. It ebs and flows just as a tide going out to sea. Many times, I compare it to those first few years of marriage. Learning what it takes to "get along", to "like" one another, to accept each other for who God made us to be. Each of us bringing "our previous life" to the family, and each of us learning the way relationships work. God has grown us all! He has taught us a love like no other. He has taught us to love beyond any love that we have ever known... a love like Jesus loved! In spite of it all, one thing is for certain, we love this little girl! She is ours, and we are hers! Daily we are reminded that God knew the perfect family for her, that He has a plan for her life and that HE is in control! She is precious, beautiful, courageous, tenacious and strong. We love the glimpses she gives us of her heart. We see the beautiful person within and the person God is molding her to be. Thank you God for giving us this child, for entrusting her to us, and for the blessing she is to our family!
Happy Forever Family Day, our beautiful Mandy!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

He Fell in Love...

 The beauty of the Honduran culture...
 Playing El Futbol...
 Ministering to the children and people of La Victoria (a poor mountainous region)
 La Fiesta... an anniversary celebration for the rehab center (Proyecto Victoria)
 The sights and sounds of life in Tegucigalpa...
 The school children... and their joy
 More visits to schools...
 This young lady who made friends (Isn't she just gorgeous?)...
 The mountains and the beauty of God's creation...
 God's amazing beauty...
I wish you could have been a fly on the wall in our house Sunday afternoon. It was amazing to feel the energy that filled this place. Not the usual energy, but an amazing excitement and joy that comes from the Lord. Nolan fell in love with serving for his Lord and Savior! He fell in love with serving alongside his dad and in serving with our church team. He fell in love with Honduras. He loved the beauty, the culture, and the joy of being a part of something bigger than himself. He loved working and playing with the children in Honduras. The gorgeous young lady in the picture above became enamored with Nolan (and to be honest, I think he with her, but she is only 8). For the entire time he was at the school, she was with his group. He said that they communicated (even though their was a language barrier), and she showed him something that she had in her hand. It was a plastic ruler with a maze like game made into the ruler. When they went to leave, she gave it to him as a gift. Nolan kept that gift safe in his backpack and couldn't wait to show me and share his story (I didn't do it justice in print because as he told the story, I had tears rolling down my cheeks).  My men had lots to say, and I sure enjoyed listening. They shared many emotional moments, and both shared with me the heart wrenching stories of the poverty and hardships of life for the Hondurans. Both are having to "reacclimate" to life back in the states. I remember that feeling so well after experiencing similar feelings upon return from both of our trips to China. God has placed amazing things in both of their hearts, and I have asked each of them to be  "guest" bloggers on my blog. I hope that they will journal many of the events and stories that they have to share. Keep checking back for more pictures and more stories of their trip.
Oh and... **UPDATE on Baseball... Our All Star Team won! ... and the team is moving on to the state tournament this week and weekend. Nolan and Brad get to rejoin the team. They will be traveling to another town about 4.5 hours away, and the first game will be played on Thursday morning. Depending on the wins/losses they might be playing all weekend. Nolan is looking forward to playing with his team.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My All Star

Nolan as a t-ball player... he has always been serious about baseball (could it be because his name is Nolan?) Nolan as a 13 year old All Star!
Nolan and his Dad...
Last night was supposed to be the first game in the All Star series...
Nolan and Brad (as one of the coaches) practiced night after night for three weeks. Nolan was dedicated to playing for his team. He has always loved baseball, has always played the game well, but this year he has improved immensely...he is really,really good! He was asked to play on the All Star team.
The scenario was supposed to go like this...our boys were supposed to practice for three weeks, play a tournament game on Friday evening, play a second game Saturday evening and if they win 2 out of three, move on to state. Going into this,Nolan (and his dad) knew that they would only be able to play the one game Friday night as they would have to leave for their Honduras mission trip on Sat. early am. Our plan for this scenario ends there, obviously our plans are not His plans.
The time arrives and the whole family got decked out in their "royal blue", support the team, t-shirts. We climbed in the car, watching the weather radar the whole way...the game was in a town about 45 min. from our town. We had no rain, there was only a slight chance of rain in the surrounding areas, so, we traveled on with positive hopes that we could get the game played before any thunderstorms could delay or end the game. We arrived with some really ominous dark clouds hanging over head, but no rain. Is the storm going to move on? Parents get out of cars, boys go to the dugout, and we think we are playing the game. Then, it starts...parents make a wild dash for their cars, and the boys hangout in the covered dugout. Our hope is that it is just a rain shower, and it will pass quickly. No such luck, it comes a downpour, and it rains and rains. We wait it out a while, but the game finally is called... the field looks like a small pond. As we are driving off, the rain stops! No hopes of a game that night because the fields are just too messed up to play.
Nolan doesn't get to play the game after is only the second he has ever been selected to play as an All Star (lots of "politics" in our small town, but that's another story). He is disappointed to say the least! He handled himself very well last night in spite of the disappointment. He was looking forward to playing the game, but he was looking forward to serving his Lord and Savior more. He knew it was more important for him to serve and to enjoy being with the people of Honduras.... he and his dad together. I AM SO PROUD OF MY ALL STARS!!

**P.S. The team will play a double header tonight and if they split the games, another will be played on Sunday. We want our boys to win... let's go to State!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Until the Whole World Hears

[18] Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.* [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,* baptizing them in* the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,* [20] and teaching* them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you* always, to the very end of the age.”*
Matthew 28: 18-20

Imagine that you have a bird's eye view of the world that God sees. You can look down and view the earth and see all the people groups and nations. Which one of these children of God do you suppose He loves more? Do you think he loves anyone less? We are called to spread the word of's right there in the Bible (our family's standard of truth)! It is our prayer that it will someday be the standard of truth for the whole world, that those who choose to believe and hear will have the hope of eternity with our Lord and Savior. So, when opportunities arise for us to go out and share that is what we do. This year God has placed on our family's hearts the people of Honduras. A group from our local church is going to serve on a short term mission trip to Honduras (many are already there this week as I type this). Nolan felt God's ever so gentle touch and felt a calling to serve Him on this trip. His dad and I felt the same call. Although we would love to take the whole family, we felt that financially and for the health of the family as a whole that some should go and some should stay home. I elected to let Nolan (because he felt so strongly about it) and his dad take the trip, and I would stay behind to care for the other children. I am not claiming to be the martyr here, and in all reality, I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for the "father/son duo". I am almost as excited to see what they will be doing as they are. I cannot wait to hear about the way God is using them to minister in that country. I cannot wait to hear about their shared experiences and to see the stronger bond that God will create between two of my favorite men in the whole world. I cannot wait to hear about the joy they will experience in serving others. God is doing and is going to do AMAZING things with our Honduras team during these two weeks.
Would you please join our family in prayer over the next 10 days?
*First, pray for the safe travels of our Church's Honduras team...Group 1 has been there this week and will be returning on Sat.7/17. Group 2, which includes Brad,Nolan and three others will be leaving early morning Sat 7/17 , flying to Honduras, and joining the remaining portion of Group 1.
*Pray that God will be glorified in all that they accomplish there in Honduras.
* Pray that hearts and minds will be touched and will hear the message of Jesus our savior.
* Pray for the missionaries in Honduras who serve the Lord faithfully year after year.
* Pray that that our team serving will experience all that God has in store for this trip, that they will be forever changed by their trip,and that they will carry with them always the time they shared with the people of other nations.
(Special thanks to Mr C.J. for the beautiful analogy of God's love for all nations and peoples)

Happy Birthday to my sis...

I will always remember the birthday I turned 4 years old. You see God gave me a special gift, a baby sister! That of course has been many, many years ago but the fact remains that she was an amazing gift to me and my family. It wasn't always fun sharing our birthdays. Even though our mom always tried to make it special for us both, we had a hard time sharing the one day we each wanted to be special. As I look at that now, I see the "child" in us both. As we have grown older their are many birthdays that we wish we could be together again. It is fun to have the claim that we share the same birthday, and we aren't twins; although, my mom would claim that we should have been because we are alike in many ways. It is fun to pick each others birthday presents ...we are assured that we will like what the other has picked out!
I love that I can claim that my sisters are my closest friends! Here is to hoping that we can celebrate together sometime soon...
Happy Birthday Ceci !!