Recently during one of our Pastor's sermons he said something that has stuck with me "we need to stop being consumers and start focusing on being BECOMERS". As I have begun to meditate on that word .. Becomer ... I have begun to think about how in that process of "becoming" ... we must be molded and refined to be changed. Evolving and becoming isn't always an easy task and often the refining that goes with it is a grueling process! This past week, the Lord has challenged me more than ever to stop for a while and consider WHO I AM and even bigger WHO HE IS. He has chiseled yet, another part of me, and the process has been painful.
As many of my readers know, we are an adopting family. We brought home our beautiful Maliah in September of 2006. During that journey the Lord did something in my heart, creating a passion in me for his children that definitely is not of my flesh. Upon our arrival home, I knew very quickly that our journey was more than just about my daughter but a journey of my own heart. He used our adoption in countless ways to teach me about myself and him. I don't know that I have ever walked so closely with him as I did during those few years and perhaps that is why I have become passionate about adoption and being an advocate of his call for all believers to care for his orphans. When we obey .. he shows up!
In November of this past year, I coordinated a Gala to benefit the four initiatives of a campaign our agency is working on called "The Orphans Ticket Home". With the funds raised, 5,000 children will be impacted and will be given a HOPE for a future. Like our adoption, the Lord definitely called me into the planning of this event and he orchestrated every detail - boy, did he show up! While the work was hard and sometimes frustrating .. once again, his presence was intimately overwhelming.
As I look back over each time we have been called to serve his children and orphans in some way .. through our own adoption, through hosting seminars, through planning HIS events or even meeting with prospective families, I have felt his presence hovering over my life. I often find myself thinking back on those moments and yearning for that undeniable presence on the days where it feels like their is an absence of his voice and direction.
Last Wednesday, the Lord gave me the opportunity to learn just a little more about his presence and my walk with him and he used the one thing he knows I am passionate about ... America World, to make it happen. In the afternoon my phone rang and on the other end of the line was Brian Luwis. If your not an America World family, Brian is the founder and President of the agency. I was quite taken by surprise when I heard his voice on the other end. I assumed it was going to be a gal I have worked with for some time in planning Orphans Ticket Home Events with planning questions. To my surprise, however, it was Brian on the other end as well as Patrick (the COO) and Amanda ... conferencing me in. Brian began to share with me that they had been having a meeting because Amanda was moving into a new role as the Executive Director of Visiting Orphans ministry and the role she had held needed to be filled. It was the goal of AWAA to break down her job into a few positions and that as they discussed one of the roles, my name was the one that came to their mind to fill that role. As Brian spoke, I sat, a little shocked and very much surprised at the things he said. A little taken off guard, I told him that I was honored to even be considered for the opportunity and that I would pray about it. Brian said they would be sending me a "proposal" by e-mail but that I had been their obvious choice. What could be more flattering than those affirming words?
As I hung up the phone, my heart burst in excitement and I felt completely giddy about what had just transpired. The Lord knows my passion for this agency, for advocating for orphans and how much I have enjoyed working on behalf of this campaign. He also knows how much a relish those memories of serving him in other roles there. I was sure that he was giving me the desires of my heart and even greater .. the validation and the affirmation of someone I looked up to felt good in my flesh. I immediately called Doug and shared the news. He too was so excited and his validation was what I thought, a confirmation that indeed this was something I would do.
A few minutes past and in my inbox arrived the proposal ... I read through it ... my heart fluttered ... I was a little scared ... but very much excited .. all the responsibilities completely aligned up with all the things I knew I was more than capable of doing. Could the Lord have been any sweeter than to pave the way for this opportunity?
So, as the days and nights passed, we began to take a really close look at what this all really meant .. the hours, the responsibilities, our family structure, the hours ... the time ... the hours ... 3 children .... and more. My nights began to become restless and each time I awoke it was with a sense of knowing what was on my mind. I was becoming increasingly unsure what I was feeling and increasingly unsure of the Lord's direction. Was it fear or was it the Lord truly working to direct his will for me?
Saturday night Doug and I had a lengthy conversation about this opportunity and both of us talked about some of our reservations about this opportunity and how it would effect our family. STILL .. a part of me thought .. just maybe it was the fear of the unknown and the Lord would work out those details.
As I sat in church on Sunday, Scott began to unload his message about King Jeraboam and his two golden calfs (idols). The Israelites, wanting to look like everyone else had begged for a King - at the expense of everything they knew of the one true King they turned and pleaded to be like everyone else. As Scott went on talking about how King Jeraboam erected these statues and they bowed before these idols, he began to show the story of how the Israelites had forgotten all that the Lord had done for them and began looking to fill their lives with idols in place of God himself. Scott asked ...
"What is your golden Calf?" ... hmmmm????? (I am still pondering on this - the Lord is still showing me). Inside, however, I felt the Lord saying "look what I have always done for YOU"
The message continued and then .. in the middle ... he went off on a rabbit trail and from his mouth came these words "It's not what you do, it's who you are"! Looking out across the audience, he made a funny face, sort of laughed and then said .. Wow, I'm not sure where that came from .. I digress. In those moments it's as though the Lord himself had entered into the mouth of my pastor and delivered the message he needed me to hear ...
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU DO - IT'S WHO YOU ARE! It was as though the Lord was saying ... it's not just in those serving moments that I see you. "My presence is here .. I am here"!
My spirit wrestled ... my heart sank - I knew my answer!
The drive home was a tense one. An argument erupted between Doug and I about something petty. My heart was burning in anger and sadness because I knew what the Lord was saying. I began to lash out at Doug, taking all the emotions of HIS "no" out on Doug. Within a few hours, my stewing had turned to tears and Doug and I found ourselves in a very emotional conversation of the things I lacked and needed from what I thought was him. I shared with Doug that I felt little appreciated and that my work in the home and with our kids was seldom noticed. Doug, though amazing, is a man of little emotional expression and while I would say I'd love more of those things - I don't believe in that moment, it was Doug that the Lord wanted me to receive them from. I shared with Doug my need for more of him .. more affirmations, more validations, more, more, more! In my sadness and anger over my answer ... I lashed out at Doug and ultimately at my Lord himself! We talked about the opportunity at length and weeping, I sat on the floor and shared with Doug that there was no way I could do what my heart so wanted to do because I knew what I was SUPPOSED TO DO. We both knew I couldn't fulfill the role without sacrificing our family and yet, even knowing that, it didn't make it any easier. In my own heart I knew I had to sacrificed my own desires. Though I knew this was the obedience he called me to ... it was pure anguish and kicking and screaming that I followed! It pierced through me ... I couldn't believe just how overcome I was in disappointment and even anger at the choice I knew I had to make ...
"It's Not What you DO .. It's WHO YOU ARE"!
The conversation was interrupted and I was left to sit on my words and those feelings.
The next morning, I mustered up the energy and emotions to e-mail Brian and Patrick. I told them how honored I was that they considered me for the opportunity. I shared with them how hard it was to make this decision and even as I typed, and wept, the Lord spoke ... BUT I SEE YOU - don't you see - It's Not What you DO ... It's WHO YOU ARE!!
I get it ... I hear his message. I didn't say it was easy. I didn't say that obedience is fun and I'll admit .. I'm still wrestling if it was worth it. Actually, though I am at peace in knowing I have heard him clearly .. I am completely wrestling with my Lord right now. I do hear him ... now I need to learn to believe him. I think that's what he wants from me ... to believe in my heart what I know in my head.
HE SEES ME!! It's not what I do .. It's WHO I AM!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Posted by Cristie at 8:56 AM
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It's the long awaited TbarM camp week! We dropped Canyon off on Sunday at 2:00 for his first overnight adventure. He'll be gong until Saturday morning. WOW .. that is a long time away from Mom and Dad!
Canyon was a little nervous when pulling into camp but those nerves quickly subsided when his buddies Caden and Zachary showed up and he got to meet his counselors. We went with him to his cabin (Painted Rock), put his sheets on his bed, his toiletries away and had a few photo opps! He is off ...
TbarM is a Christ Centered Sports Camp in the New Braunsfels area. It is a incredible place! Dakota is having the opportunity to do day camp this year. She goes from 9-5 each day. Luckily, she too is in the good company of good friends (and Mommy has a few helpers to carpool with).
So .. if your thinking about it this week, please pray for my kiddos. Prayers for health, safety and great fun! Pray that the Lord make himself overwhelmingly present each day .. that they would deeper their walk with him! Pray for them to soak up his word, learn to walk in his truths and obey his word! Ultimately ... Jesus is showing up in tennis shoes this week .. pray that my kids grow in relationship and intimacy with him there!
Here are a few pictures of Canyon's drop off. Some of Dakota are to come ...
Posted by Cristie at 7:13 AM
Thursday, July 16, 2009
In June, Dakota embarked on an adventure that she will not soon forget .. a week of horse camp. My girl has loved horses for years now. Her favorite all time movie is "Dreamer" and we watch it as much as Mommy will allow. She has always dreamed of riding horses and so horse camp was definitely a special week. This past weekend was my niece's birthday. Andi turned 9 and had her festivities back out at James Town Morgans Farm with Mr. and Mrs. James - Horse camp Central! Dakota was thrilled about Andi's birthday but perhaps more thrilled to get to ride Zorro, the beautiful horse, again. During horse camp I really didn't get the chance to see what she learned. On Saturday, I got a sneak peak into some of the things she had been doing and got a window into the heart of my little girl. She seems to light up on a horse. Though she is still gaining confidence ... I was extremely impressed at how well she could handle such a large animal. When Mrs. James would give her direction, she'd follow and know just what she was saying. Mommy's eyes welled up ... it is pure joy to watch your child shine and to see the desires of their heart lived out!
So, I couldn't go without posting a few pictures from the day. I am not going to label all of them. Each pictures can tell a thousand words. My favorite is the one of Dakota and Zorro looking eye to eye. As Dakota led Zorro to the side of the ring, she stopped and Zorro stopped aside her. He dropped his head to her belly and looked at her as if to say "Will you give me some loving". Dakota looked right into his eyes ... I wonder what she was thinking in those moments as she grinned!
Posted by Cristie at 7:54 AM
Friday, July 10, 2009
On July 3, we set out for a memory filled night to celebrate Canyon's 9th birthday. We had a delayed "celebration day" until we arrived home from our trip to South Padre. Canyon chose a fun filled night and adventure to see the San Antonio Missions baseball team play. I was able to organize a little fun while we were there, complete with a picnic for all our guests and some great seats (in the shade .. whoo hoo) to cheer on the team!
Here's the gang
The surprise of the night came when Canyon was called down to the field after the 6th inning to chase the team mascot "The Puffy Taco" .. is that so Texas or what! Doug and I had our reservations at what Canyon would think .. would he get on that big field by himself in front of a crowd of people to participate? Boy, were we wrong! Reservations aside, Canyon took off after that Taco, tackled him to the ground and in Victory STOOD ON HIS BACK in front of a roaring crowd! I don't know if I have laughed that hard in a long time. Canyon is very quick on his feet and I believe, that Puffy Taco must have underestimated the little guy he saw take the field. Canyon, starting at first, had to round the bases and catch up with Mr. Puffy, who would be taking off from third base, before the Taco made it home. With a sprint, Canyon rounded those bases at full stride. The crowd began to cheer louder and louder and by the time he made it past third, Canyon jumped onto his back, tackled him to the ground and then as the crowd roared in cheering laughter, he proclaimed Victory by first getting up on his knees on his back and THEN .. to his Mommy's surprise .. STOOD on his back, arms raised and declared himself Victor - I can't even make that up - My boy really did that!!!! What a sight! Of course, Canyon's buddies who were in tow cheered on their buddy and he was greeted with high fives, boy chants and bowed out chests full of pride as he came up from the field! Could it get any better for a nine year old?
The Play by Play ...
Starting at first!
Mr. Taco .. do you see how fast he is running?
Faster, Faster ..
Mr. Puffy ... you better run .. he's right at your back and ready to pounce!
The crowd roars ... GOT HIM!
Down he goes ..
And he celebrates .. Victory!
And then ... I die in laughter as he proclaims ON HIS FEET .. VICTOR!
The night was fun and even I actually enjoyed watching the Missions play! We had perfect seats in the shade right behind home base so the heat wasn't actually too bad. We had lots of friends and family in tow for the special night .. even Canyon's big cousin Rhett (age 14) who was in from Oklahoma was able to join the fun. Such a joy for a little boy who has asked year after year for one thing "do you think Rhett could come to my party"? Rhett truly was a special treat! Aunt Susie also drove in from Austin as she loves a good game of baseball and who could say no to a great night, a great sport and the worlds cutest 9 year old. THANK YOU AUNT SUSIE for helping us celebrate our awesome guy!
Aunt Susie and my sweet boy!
Even the girls enjoyed the fun!
So, I thought I'd post a few pictures from the night. The best are the play by play Puffy Taco tackle down! These truly are memories that will last a lifetime!
Posted by Cristie at 12:11 PM
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Right before we left for our trip to Padre, I had the pure JOY of reuniting with a precious friend since I was in SECOND GRADE!
In life, we all have those friends who simply leave footprints on our heart! In mine, that is my life long and childhood friend Leslie Anne Wood - now Leslie Anne Plumb!
I have such amazing and wonderful memories of my time with the Wood family and specifically Leslie. I was living in Denver, Colorado (Littleton actually) the day we met. It must have been a warm day (I don't remember if it was summer or spring) because I had on shorts and I can remember even the feeling of the warmth of the sun! Weird I know ... but the memory is so vivid!
There were new neighbors moving in and my friend, Erin O'Rourke (by the way .. where is she???) and I watched as they unloaded the moving van and were curious at the little curly haired, thin girl that looked just our age. I remember going to the door, ringing the door bell and a shy girl coming to the door to answer. Leslie was wearing those little shorts (the ones with the stripe going down the side) and a pair of tube socks ... she was definitely COOL! Erin and I asked if she could play and that was the beginning of many many many days and memories together.
We played in her basement days on end. Never ending days of flashlight tag, doing flips on the mattress (yes, Leslie .. my knee is o.k. now!) and crunching away on "crushed ice". We used to spend many of our vacations together as my extended family was in Texas as most of her were out of state as well. We spent Thanksgiving together as families every year .. also celebrating Leslie's birthday as it fell on November 25th. I can remember the year that there was a blizzard and it snowed so long and hard that their were drifts that went over our fences. Leslie's Dad and mine shoveled a path across the street to one another's home .. from our front door to their back door (as they sat caddie corner on their lot). I can still remember the picture of our Dad's standing in the middle of the street, in the middle of their path with the snow coming up to their chests. Leslie and I thought it was so fun .. a pathway to each other's home. I can remember my first day of gymnastics with Leslie, countless baseball games watching our brothers in Little League. Well, actually, playing and eating candy from the snack stand while our brothers played was more like it. We had countless sleep overs and too many giggling nights to ever keep track of!
I can remember the day we moved .. us to Wyoming and them to Texas. It was a SAD SAD day leaving my best friend! We still kept in touch .. visiting her in Drippin' Springs and California and a trip to Schlitterbaugn along the way - wherever we each moved and wherever life took us, we kept in touch and we made more memories! Leslie, do you remember running for our life down the country road in Dripping when we saw the tarantula right at my feet??? WOW .. we could LAUGH!
I can remember her wedding .. there to see her say her "I do's" to her military man in the most precious little church in San Angelo, Texas. I can remember the day she came to my Mom's home in Houston with her new baby .. Jonathan - was my friend really a Mom - we were supposed to be eating Tang Mix, Crushed Ice and riding our brothers banana skate boards down the driveway!?!
I can remember when my Grandma passed away and Sally, her Mom, showing up to the funeral. There was something so wonderfully comforting about her presence .. just like a second Mom to make it all better! I can remember the day that I married Doug .. Leslie stood there with me and Sally and Perry and her husband Dan and John there to share in the day!
11 years passed since my wedding day and the last time I saw my sweet friend! There was never a time that went by that I did not think about her .. wondering what happened to Leslie. We lost touch, Dan was moved with the Military and the last I heard They were in St. Louis but I had no clue how to find my precious friend. We heard rumblings of her parents being in Virginia but still ... I never knew how in life I had lost contact with such a special person!
One day, low and behold, the wonderful world of Facebook reconnected me with Leslie ... oh, how I am thankful for technology!! On June 22, I got the chance to see Leslie, her Mom and her beautiful little Addie (her four year old daughter) .. who looks just like the Leslie I knew growing up! It was a sweet and precious time .. too short for sure .. but savored just the same! So, I couldn't let the opportunity to go by without posting a few pictures and thanking the Lord for bringing my sweet and wonderful friend back into my life! I will say, the best part of reconnecting is knowing that she now loves the Lord and is truly my sister in Christ and that someday .. wherever life takes us ... we'll reconnect again and maybe even share many more giggles when we are called home from this earth! It is a wonderful thought knowing that no time and no death will separate good friends!
Leslie, you will always be my dearest friend that life has brought me! I think of you often and praise the Lord for your life, the life of your amazing Mom who is so strong and brave, your Dad, Woody, your wonderful husband, Dan, Jonathan and Addie! Thanks for a fun lunch ... let's not wait so long next time!
Many sleep overs, tons of giggles, wonderful memories, 5 kids, two marriages and 28 years later ...
My Mom and Leslie's Mom (Sally). Sally is a breast cancer survivor and is fighting Non Hodkins Lymphoma. They too were wonderful friends
I wish I could say I got a good picture of our kiddos .. I didn't. Canyon, Dakota and Addie were struggling with the sun, Maliah refused to participate and Jonathan (age 14) was home with Daddy. Here is what I could capture!
Posted by Cristie at 11:12 AM
O.K. so in the busyness of summer, it's really hard to get on and post updates and pictures. Along the way, I have forgotten a few great entries .. one being some great pictures of Dakota in her ballet recital from this year - WAAAAY back in May. I say ballet .. it was actually tap! So, get in your time machine and turn your clocks back to May ... and check out this beauty!
I have a few pictures that I can't forget to share .. she was so great up there doing her thing. The girl can MOVE! So, here she is, debuting ... Dakota Martine ....
Posted by Cristie at 10:28 AM
Friday, July 3, 2009
It's taken me a few days too many to upload and post our summer vacation fun. I think that's what happens when life happens, right? Summer is FLYING by and I have had very little time to look up and take a breathe which in actuality has been so great. We are really enjoying every moment of this summer with lots of activity and special days. This week has been spent trying to regroup and recoup from an awesome adventure to South Padre Island. This was our third year to head to the Island for summer fun and I would say probably our best yet! We officially made it through the trip without any injuries, no quarreling and bickering, all the kids (7 of them) getting along and enjoying one another and having great fellowship time! The water was perfect, the weather was superb and our condo/amenities couldn't have been more perfect! I think I could have tacked on a few more days just to sit on our balcony, read a book and relax. With 7 kids though who LOVED the sand and soaking up the waves and the sun fun, we were blow and go ... with little time for shut eye or sitting unless it involved building a castle in the sand.
Joining us this year was the Wall family. They have four children ... 3 boys and beautiful Ava who is also adopted from China and was born 6 days before Maliah. It was so fun to spend our vacation with them. Canyon loves their boys as they speak his love language "SPORTS"! Dakota and Maliah had fun with Ava - and I had a blast really getting to know beautiful Ava in her element! Dakota also enjoyed hanging out with the boys during a fishing trip and numerous times of "second sandbar fun". Is it possible to arrange marriages .. I think she and Grant sure would be a cute pair! We can pray right?
Rhonda and Jason are incredible parents and are walking life a few steps in front of us. With an almost 14 year old and in club sports .. we have much to glean from watching and taking in their parenting moments and their experiences. It is so refreshing knowing that I have a friend who really gets life with so many kids in tow and a busy husband with a very busy career. During this last trip we had multiple times of laughter as Rhonda and I and our men conversed. It seems Rhonda and I could overlap our life stories and growing up years .. they are so eerily alike. I have no doubt that the Lord brought them in our life so we could help encourage one another and learn from each other. Thank you Lord for good friends ... and the good wine they bring. HAHA.
So, enjoy some Padre pics. Rhonda has a few great ones that I hope to get my hands on. Here are a few of mine.
Posted by Cristie at 6:44 AM