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Sunday, November 28, 2010

What a great trip to Montana for Thanksgiving! Despite driving in blizzard conditions/snow both ways, we made it safely and had a wonderful time! Great food, fun, family and even fit in a little skiing!



Maddie Grace's first Thanksgiving dinner! Sweet taters and mashed taters for the first time! YUM!


Post-feast bath complete with mohawk!


Watching football and hanging with Uncle Lee



Football with the boys (she loves it for real!)


Post turkey tryptophan comma


Grampy and Maddie


Hanging with Grammy


Big Horn sheep on the way to the ski slopes


In the lodge


Kylie, Lee, Erin and Brad



Ski pose


Erin and Brad



Me ready to point 'em down!


Pretty in Pink


Super airplane Madison!


Me and "G"

Oh how I LOVE my punkins!


Quite possibly the most precious picture I have ever seen!






Post dinner entertainment
























Early morning play time











Hello furry cousin Daisie, your ears taste good!

Daisie kisses tickle!







































Sunday, November 21, 2010

FUN STUFF

Some pics and videos of my trip home, family and MADISON GRACE!

Jennifer, Carla and Aunt Joan
Brad, Gayle and Maddie Grace


Me feeding "G" some pears and cereal



Cousin Gayle LOVES Maddie



Num Num Num GOOD!


Ryan T. Bear and Maddie G. Bear

Cousin Gerry LOVES Maddie (and so does Grampy)

Ker-ry-Bear LOVES Madd-ie-Bear


Carla LOVES Maddie (see a trend here?)



Picking from all of Uncle Dick's hats


Maddie gets a hat too...or maybe two!

Finally, Aunt Joan gets a turn with Maddie Grace!

Aunt Joan LOVES Madison!

MaKenna playing with Madison
I got to fly the last leg of the flight with Brad, Erin and Maddie. This is post flight, 10pm in Wichita with the adorable pumpkin hat Erin knitted for her! Yes, she really is my punkins!

Grammy giving Maddie a bath in the sink

Her hair lays flat with soap! Look at that doll-baby face! What a pretty baby!

What's up Grammy?





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Life and Death

This was an incredibly difficult week. Two deaths in the same day. Two funerals in one week.

First, my beloved Uncle Dick, sweet Uncle, passed away after an infection. He was in his 80s, so while unexpected, it was not a surprise. He had been living in a nursing home facility for quite awhile and had progressively gone downhill. I flew back to Kansas for the funeral and despite the reason for our gathering, seeing my 40+ family members was a treat, as it always is. Hanging out in my cousin's garage with my "little cousins" was the highlight for me as well as visiting Uncle Dick and Aunt Joan's farm. I can't remember a time of late when the memories of my childhood came flooding back as vividly as they did on that Sunday. The site of the old house, the barn with its John Deere and Oliver tractors. Dodging cowpies to visit the cows in the pasture, and walking into the "shop" to see the boats, trucks and other treasures. Walking past the "cat house" and remembering my childhood and opening the door to a shed full of kittens. And best of all, the blue bike. Aw, the blue bike with the bell and white basket attached to the back. I had ridden that bike more times than I can count and carried my little cousins in the basket while I rode down the "big" hill around the block over and over again at my grandmother's house. The memories were clear, strong and pure and a wave of contentment washed over me.

Upon returning to Utah, I was faced with another death. Lee had told me over the phone that our 33 year old neighbor Kris had suddenly passed away in his sleep. Supposed cardiac arrest. He left behind a young wife and 4 children. We had come to know the family well, with the youngest child Clayton coming over to play most summer nights and standing in the street chatting with the family and our other neighbors. The 4th of July was particularly fun with Kris and the other neighborhood men lighting fireworks and concocting other ways to blow things up. We attended Kris's funeral and I can honestly say I cried as much at that service as I did at my Uncle's. The church was full to capacity and the service was entirely made up of eulogies from family and friends. It was painful, heartwrenchingly so, but I am grateful we were able to be there and to get to know our neighbor that much more from the stories we heard about him.

It has been a difficult week. Death is part of life. I admit I grappled with the meaning of Kris's death more than I did my Uncle's. I had peace about Uncle Dick's Passing. But the death of my neighbor left my soul in agony, as I imagined the reasons why God would take him so suddenly. It seems extremely unfair, and I am battling internally with God over why these things happen and praying now that Kris is in heaven.

Lee and I know that Kris had battled cancer and Crohn's disease for years. He was sickly, but you'd never know it. We learned that though they had no life insurance and his disease had left him unable to work for extended periods, he would give his last dime, and the shirt off his back to help others. Lee and I immediately vowed to take care of this family, the best we could and prayed that God would use us to shine our light for them in their hour of need.

This week has been a painful one, though the journey I have traveled and lessons learned are beautiful. Lately I have been standing on my soapbox of preachy righteousness, telling everyone who will listen that they must do something to help the widows and orphans of the world. I still agree with that platform, and know it is God's as well. However, my vision has changed. God so graciously humbled me in such a way that I would liken it to being hit upside the head with a spiritual 2x4. We all are commanded to do something. That is true and I do not falter from that notion. However, the scope of WHERE we must do something abruptly changed for me this week. I knew in my mind that there were orphans and widows in our country too, but until this week, I did not realize they are in my own backyard, or rather, across the street. And until this week I would have never been able to fathom how deeply they would affect me.

And so, we are called to serve and help those in need. Lee and I plan to make it our mission to help this family. It's easy to assume someone else will do it and turn our backs on others. But as much as I am convicted to do so, I encourage you to look in your neighborhood for someone you can help. Not everyone is called to adopt, or help orphans and widows financially but take it from me, this experience has taught me that I can do exceedingly more than I imagined as God has done the same for me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday---Lessons Learned





Did you know today is Orphan Sunday? It is the day that churches across the world observe the plight of the "least of these."

Sadly, when inquiring at my church, I learned that being a small church, no one has ever done anything for Orphan Sunday. When talking to my friend Vickie, she suggested I speak to the pastors and see if we can start something for next year! The cool thing is that there is already a website devoted to this special day, and it includes sermon notes, posters, videos, tshirts, and tons of other resources!
Check it out:
Yippee! A project!!!

So today my plan was to escape to the mountains and be still. Our agency called us to pray for the orphans today and even go a step further and fast. I decided to fast from sunset yesterday to sunset today. and oh was I weary and weak! I'm one of those people who has to eat every 2-3 hours to keep my blood sugar even. This was a LONG time and I quickly realized that hiking was out of the question (due to hunger, shakiness and snow on the trail). So I retreated to a secluded spot where I planned to journal, read scripture and pray.

My spot


Well, I lasted about 20 minutes. It was FREEZING, windy and just plain miserable. I was hungry and weary and shaky and I opted to come home and finish at home. The entire drive home I beat myself up. Since I was so hungry and all I could think of was food so concentrating on prayer was difficult. I got home, completed my study in my warm bed and felt the hunger pangs so strong that I had to ask God to quiet them!

However, I was able to pray, read, reflect and write in my "baby journal" that I have been keeping for our child. I want him/her to know every detail of this journey. And, luckily I was able to pen a few pages before leaving the woods
(thankful for gloves!)

So, in conclusion, I'm a pansy when it comes to this. I had this great day built up in my mind and didn't succeed (by my standards). I ate again at 5 pm and thought I would pass out just opening the fridge. And yet, I prayed with each hunger pain that God would remind me that orphans don't just miss meals, they miss DAYS of meals. They are cold, hot, dirty, hungry, tired, sickly, weary, weak and shaky EVERY DAY. I felt like a complete failure and yet, I got a small glimpse of what an orphan experiences.

And I prayed that God would care for our child and other's children and that the adoptions in progress would go smoothly, quickly and that He would finance them. I prayed that our agency would continue to do its amazing work and keep prayerfully matching children with forever families. I prayed God would hold each child in His arms, safe, warm and fed. I prayed that God would use us to touch other families to consider adoption. I prayed that there would be a SURGE of families coming forward to support orphans financially, support families who are adopting financially, foster children without homes and even adopt themselves.

I found these amazing verses to share with you. Sprinkled through out the Bible are unending passages about adoption. We're ALL adopted you know! Before Jesus, we were living a life of sin and destitution. We were all lost as an orphan is lost. We had no father, families or anyone to care for us. THEN came the savior of the world, who adopted us into His keeping, into His family. Don't we OWE it to him to care for the orphans and widows of the world?

"Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

James 1:27

"I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you..."

John 14:18

"Do not oppress the widows of the fatherless, the alien or the poor..."

Zechariah 7:10

"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out 'Abba Father'"

Romans 8:15



One lesson I have learned is that caring for orphans is NOT an OPTION. It is a COMMANDMENT. NO CHOICES. NO EXCUSES! There are 147 million orphans. That's enough to fill the Denver Mile High stadium to capacity 8,823 times! But if only 7% of all Christians adopted, there would be
NO. MORE. ORPHANS.
AMAZING!

Another lesson I have learned is that God has no "Plan B." I've said it before but its worth saying again and again and again. God only has "Plan A." I would URGE you, if you are considering starting a family or expanding yours, to prayerfully consider adoption. Don't be afraid. Its so much easier to live in denial of those 147 million orphans. It is so much easier to live in our bubble of life in America, thinking we have it so hard, without realizing that there are SO MANY who are in need of so much more. So don't live in DENIAL.
GO FOR IT. TAKE A RISK.

We ALL have to meet our Lord face to face one day. Do you want HIM to ask YOU
"Why didn't you do more to care for MY orphans?"

I DON'T.

I want to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done my daughter."

Can you imagine?

That thought sends shivers down my spine!


So, could you throw up a little prayer today for the orphans of the world?