Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mercy & Grace = Hope

**This post is slightly out of date.  I began writing it in March!**

This morning I finished reading the book of Joshua.  It ends with the Lord reminded them all He had done for them, reminding them of His patience, His guiding hand, His trustworthiness. It ends with Joshua exhorting the people to follow God's way, and choose Him over everyone/thing else - and telling them what he has chosen: "...choose this day whom you will serve, ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

I got thinking how important it is for us to remember what God has done in our own lives.  When we read the account of how God brought the children of Israel up out of Egypt, we can see constantly God's awesome power and strength - how much He loved those people, despite their sin.  We can read those chapters and wonder, "They were so foolish!  How could they have forgotten so easily all that God has done for them?"  Yet sometimes it's easy for me to forget all God has done for me! How He has saved me, how He has guided and protected me, how He has used me despite what I have done and who I am.

Almost two years ago, I wrote about how the Lord brought Tim and I to Mexico. I used to think that missionaries were extra special Christians, extra spriritual, extra everything.  I am blessed to know and have known many missionaries, and am so thankful for their godly example to me, and the strength I can see they draw from the Lord.  But now I know that missionaries are ordinary people.  They are not more important than anyone else, but just serving the Lord in a different place, and often in different circumstances.  I am thankful for where the Lord has us to be, and we have seen and experienced things I never would have back in Canada.  The Lord has taught me (and continues to teach me) so much in the circumstances He has placed us.  I am also so thankful for the dear believers back "home" who are leaving a godly heritage where they are.  They have some different struggles and temptations than I do, and some are the same.  But how glad I am that many believers, with the Lord's help, are rising above difficulties and trials, and are standing strong.  They are praying, they are witnessing and sharing the good news of salvation with family, friends and co-workers, they are living lives set apart for the Lord, they are desiring to be more like Him!

So where am I going with all of this?  Good question!!  =)  While I don't know the exact date, it was 15 years ago around this time of year, that the Lord restored my heart in a big way to Him.  I won't go over many of the details, but here is a short summary of how the Lord worked in my life at that time. 

I became a Christian when I was 6 years old - August 27th, 1983, to be exact.  I remember the night clearly, even though not all of the details are still clear!!  =)  I remember talking to both my mom and my dad and reading verses from the Bible together.  Then, I remember getting down beside my bed all by myself in the dark, admitting to God what a sinner I was, and asking Him to save me.  And He did!  Then, I remember thanking Him, and thinking it was so neat to be able to call God my Father!  My life and direction changed from that moment on - I had the Holy Spirit living inside of me, and I was a new creation in Christ Jesus!

It would be wonderful if every person read the Bible, but it is essential for the spiritual growth of every person who is a Christian to spend time reading the Word of God.  I admit my spiritual growth was stunted early on - I did not make it a priority to read my Bible or pray - and that greatly affected me.  While I still had spiritual desires, I more or less ignored promptings from the Holy Spirit, and went my own way.  I got involved with some people who did not in any way encourage my walk with the Lord (just the opposite), and I got further and further away from Him.  Interesting to note that He did not go anywhere - just I did.

Fast forward a few years.  I was 19 years old.  I was done high school, had a job, had lots of friends, and was no longer living with my parents.  I knew how I was living was wrong, but usually I managed to keep those thoughts pushed away far enough that I didn't worry about it too much.  I had not been out to a meeting (church service) in about a year, although my parents and brother often asked me to go.  I didn't like going to them though, because I always felt they were preaching right at me!  Gospel meetings began in the city I was living in - quite close to where I was living.  My mom asked me if I would attend.  For "some reason" I chose to.  The preachers were my dad and John D - whom I had never met before.  The meetings went on for 7 weeks, and I attended sporatically.  After several meetings, a couple visits with John about which direction my life was heading in, and the Holy Spirit working on me - I was ready to go back.  I honestly didn't want to leave behind everything, but knew it was my only option - I couldn't resist my Father any more!  While my restoration really was a long, slow road - at that time, I repented of my sin, and returned to my gracious parents' home, wondering what my future would hold.

I actually did not have very high hopes for my future spiritually.  Thankfully, even while I didn't have much hope, Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  I was a weak, immature Christian, with absolutely nothing more than a desire to follow what God wanted for my life.  He let me know that He wanted me to "...go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and ...I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.""  (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)  I knew I could trust Him to be everything I needed.  Just like when I received God's salvation by His grace alone, and not because I deserved it, I found out that, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) 

I didn't know any other Christian young people my age really, and felt like a fish out of water at the beginning.  Little by little I got to know some young people who wanted to be more and more like the Lord Jesus.  I began to read my Bible regularly, and spend time in prayer every day.  I learned the importance of studying my Bible, and memorizing verses.  I began to learn how to follow the Holy Spirit's promptings.

While the "anniversary" of my restoration is passed now, I just wanted to share this with you to encourage you too, in a little of what the Lord has done in my life, and how great the mercy and grace of God is!  I have not finished the course the Lord has set out for me yet - I actually hope the Lord spares me a bit longer, because there are so many more things that need work in me!  It is truly "...by the grace of God I am what I am," (1 Corinthians 15:10), and where I am right now.  We have hope, not because of anything we are or do, but because of Who He is!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Joia!!

 Today is Tim's favourite sister Joia's birthday!! ;) While looking over her pictures, I found many hilarious ones I could have put on, but decided on just 'normal' looking ones instead!!
Joia & Philip

Their 3 sweet pumpkins: Keenan (5), Caleb (6 months) and Moriah (3.5)

I love this one of the whole family!

Hope you have a wonderful day, Joia!  We love you lots, and are looking forward to seeing you all soon!!  =)  XOXOxoxoxoxoxoxo

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finding our new 'normal'

It's been a while since I've posted, and actually, I haven't felt that burning desire to write that I usually have.  I'm still pretty tired, but feel like I'm getting back to my regular self - slowly but surely.  My mom was able to be here until last Friday - definitely couldn't have made it without her here!   Two days ago, Tim (and the girls) helped me to go through the entire house getting toys, papers, etc back into their right places.  The house has been a bit of a disaster, and it's nice to have things mostly back to where they are supposed to be.  I love order and organization.  I love routine and a full night's sleep.  And we have a newborn in the house.  =)  Therefore, we (I) have none of those things!!  But oh is that newborn ever worth it!!

Nathaniel is now 3 weeks old, and continues to be very content - crying only when he's hungry or getting his diaper changed.  He's only awake for less than 2 hours a day, which is exactly like the rest of our babies at this age.  He had been nursing every 3 hours, and getting up 1-2 times a night.  He is currently having a growth spurt, apparently, as the last couple days it's been much more frequently!!  We are very thankful that his passport (Canadian) arrived on Monday - exactly 2 weeks after we mailed off the application.  Now things are all set (except for the packing part) to go to Tim's youngest brother Andrew's wedding the beginning of June.  We will all be flying from Phoenix to North Carolina, and spending about a week there.

I just finished reading through 2 Corinthians, and wanted to share a few verses that "popped" out at me:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Corinthians 5:10)  This one I wrote down and placed it on my dresser - need to remember this every day!
These are some special verses the Lord used to help me when I was restored 15 years ago. "Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)   I've been meaning to write a post specifically about this, but it likely isn't going to happen any time soon.  I have a few posts on the 'back-burner' that will just have to wait a while.

"As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)  These verses always remind me of the book, Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell (www.titus2.com).  She talks in it about how there are two different kind of sorrows - one is a godly one - where we recognize and confess our sin to the Father, or a worldly sorrow - where we are sad about our sin, but don't treat it like we ought to, and then we continue in it.  This has helped me alot.


The girls have had us on the go the last few days.  Alisa is into Everything - trying to get up and down the stairs, out the door, and just generally get into any mischief she can find (which is a lot).  I've been afraid of her falling down the stairs, but it was Kyla yesterday who flew down them, ending up with a bump the size of a plum on her forehead, plus a large scrape across it.  Gotta love concrete and tile.   Vivian too has been finding as much mischief as she can.  Her new favourite thing to do is steal toys or special things from her sisters, and then hide them.  Mika has been knitting something special, and yesterday, Vivi pulled out the needles, and hid them under the couch.  Thankfully she hadn't pulled on the yarn, and I was able to put the needles back in where they were supposed to be!!  The other day, Vivian came downstairs and said, "Mommy, you find my little shirt, and I'll wait down here on the couch!"  =)  What a corker!

I have several pictures to share, but won't now - I haven't had time to go through them yet.  I am trying to get some of Nathaniel every few days though, since Mom isn't here to do it for me!  =)

Will try to get back on here in not too long, and post some pictures - but wanted to catch up while I had the chance!  Good night!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Today is Tim's mom's birthday!  It's a special birthday too!!  ;)

Dad and Mom

Their Five Spectacular Children  =)

The Lady of the day!  xo

Mom, hope you have a wonderful day today - sending you lots of love and hugs from Mexico!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Joshua!!

Today is Tim's brother Rob and Ada's youngest son Joshua's 1st birthday!!  Look at this sweet little man!!


Family picture in October 2011

Brothers - Brayden and Joshua

Alisa was born in March of last year, then Joshua in May, another cousin Caleb in November, and our Nathaniel in May - it's going to be quadruple trouble in not too long, I'm guessing!!  =)  Looking forward to seeing our Woodford family in just a few weeks atTim's youngest brother Andrew and Bethany's wedding!!  =)

Happy 1st Birthday, Joshua - have a wonderful day!!  Lots of love from Mexico!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eleven Years!!

Eleven years ago today, I married my Beloved - my One and Only - my Tim!  I never thought I could love him more than I did that day, but I sure do!  

Experiences this past year especially have rocked and shaken us, and we no longer take for granted that our marriage has lasted 11 years.  Nor do we think that the following years are going to be easy just because we've made it this far.  Love is not just an emotion.  It is a choice.  I am so thankful for a faithful, godly husband who choses to love me, and who is commited to me and to our children.  He loves me despite me, and I could never have asked for a more wonderful man.  I am blessed beyond measure!  I love you, Sweetheart, Happy Anniversary!
May 12, 2001

May 12, 2012

It's been a while since I posted, but you may have guessed that we haven't been sitting around doing nothing - although, I guess that's what I have mostly been doing!!  =)  I seem to be recovering slower than my previous c-section, but I feel that now (close to 2 weeks post-partum) I am feeling more like my old self.  There was a bit of a flu bug going around that I perhaps caught a bit of.  Two days ago I slept a good part of the day, had a headache and felt kind of miserable all day.  Thankfully I am feeling much better, and no one else seems to have got it.

Mister Nathaniel is a practically perfect baby.  He eats about every 3-4 hours, except during the night when he does slightly longer stretches, he sleeps almost constantly, and only cries when he is hungry.  It still startles me when someone talks about him using he/him, but I am getting better at remembering!!  =)  I am loving the sweet little boy clothes he has, with trucks, dinosaurs, boats and jungle animals on them - so cute!

My mom has been a trooper keeping up with our family since I have been down and out, with getting meals, doing laundry, cleaning, playing with the girls, etc.  She'll definitely need to take a vacation when this visit is over! I'm so thankful she's been able to be here!

Except for the day I was sick this week, we've done school each day.  It's been nice to have a bit of a  routine, and even if we don't get all the day's work done, at least some of it did and we have had some focus to our days!
Mom has been great taking some pictures, so I'll post some below!
Vivi loving on Nathaniel

Trying to teach Alisa to be gentle...

My two babies

I love how Nathaniel is holding Shaelyn's hand here.


Look of adoration


Vivian put these glasses on, pushed them half way down her nose, and said, "I'm Grandpa!" (Tim's dad) - which was just so funny, because that's how he holds his glasses!!  =)


Sweet, sleeping boy

One week old

Mika and Shaelyn did puzzles with Nana

Getting some schoolwork done

Kyla too!  Somehow I missed getting a picture of Mika.

Duncan and Anna came to visit, and meet Nathaniel

Debi and Dee stopped in laden with gifts, and one of the gifts was some modeling clay.  Shaelyn spent the next 3 hours playing with and making things.  The above picture is...me!!  ;)

This is a farmer (yellow) and his animals: cow, horse, dog, rooster and the orange-headed one I can't remember!

This bike was passed along to us from a family in Phoenix, who thought we might have a need for one.  It arrived 2 days before Vivi's birthday, and fits her perfectly - was a neat surprise!
This might be one of the cutest toys I've ever seen.  This is Sir Prance-a-lot - with a knight on his back - how adorable is that!?!
This also is one of my favourites - a very cute Hedgehog


I guess these are slightly out of order, as it's going back to Nathaniel's one week photo shoot - cutie-pie!

Shaelyn thought he needed Sir Prance-a-lot in the picture!

Miss Alisa


A clown!

May 10th is Mother's Day in Mexico - Tim got beautiful red roses for me, and remembered my mom's favourite roses are pink - is he sweet or what!!!!

Alisa LOVES the kitties.  She's getting better about being gentle with them, but still has a ways to go!  As a joke, Tim laid her down on Holly the other day.


Holly is SO patient!

Mom took the girls swimming the other day - here's Mika and Vivian

Some pictures from today


I love this little man!

Being gentle (kind of...)

Snuggling with my little boy

Marika made this anniversary card for us - I love it!

With my Mother's Day flowers

We had some visitors today - Victor, Rosario and family

Daddy playing with his girls

One more of our newest cutie

This past Christmas we were given a really neat devotional by Millie Stamm, called "Be Still and Know".  The other day I read about the verse in 1 Thessalonians 8:18.  In KJV, it says, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

In ESV, it says, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

She wrote about how the Bible doesn't tell us to be thankful for all things, but in all things.  I've just been appreciating that so much recently - definitely a change in perspective, and I thought I'd pass it along for you to enjoy too!  =)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Picture Post

So, here are finally some pictures of the last few days!    Tuesday morning we left bright and early for the hospital.

Unfortunately, things did not progress as desired, and, as in the case when Vivian was born 3 years ago, we decided the best option was to go with a c-section.  Also like Vivi's case, the cord was wrapped around Nathaniel's neck, so we are thankful all went well. 

I was well-drugged, so I needed them to repeat the fact that our new baby was indeed a BOY!!  =)
So happy to meet our sweet Nathaniel!


10 minutes old

Daddy and Son

Glad to finally have a proper snuggle with my boy




The girls were able to come with my Mom the night he was born, but at that point, he was still in the nursery under the heat lamp.  Cuddles with the new baby had to wait until the next day

In the nursery

Finally, around noon on Wednesday they were allowed to come in for a short visit.
Nana
We decided to hold off on a picture with Alisa and Nathaniel - she thinks he is quite a delightful doll, and doesn't understand why no one lets her too close!!  =)
Vivian

Kyla



Shaelyn

Mika


Our sweet children!


The 8 of us!!




A "complimentry" meal for Tim and I our last night there.

Just about to leave the hospital on Thursday

Arriving home

We received lots of fun surprises - confetti!!

They sure enjoyed that one!  =)
There were special signs, flowers, balloons and notes all over the house.  On our way upstairs:

Our room:

Over the school table:



A monkey in our bathroom!!  =)

Marika made this note for us - "If you can't get out of bed, we can:"

"Room Service"

My favourite part: "Leave tip beside the bed!" =)

Marika was pretty disgusted with me the first day when I came down stairs after I'd taken a nap.  She informed me that I was to have stayed upstairs for 3 days!!  I informed her I would go quite crazy if I had to stay there that long, and it was better for all of us (and good exercise for me) if I made a few trips up and down the stairs a day!  =)  The next morning, we were served breakfast at our "hotel" - yummy egg, bacon and cheese on English muffins!!




While I normally wouldn't be out and about so quickly, yesterday morning Tim, Nathaniel, a couple of the girls and I went out to get Nathaniel's birth certificate.  It requires both parents there, but is a bit of a walk, and then a loooong climb up stairs.  I was pretty tired at the end.  Then we got his passport and Canadian citizenship pictures done so we can get his passport in time to head to Tim's brother Andrew and Bethany's wedding next month.

Just before lunch, Papa was feeling the need for more than hearing voices and seeing pictures, and we got a little Skype session in so he could "meet" Nathaniel.

Showing him off!

Last night we decided to have some fun and have a real tea party.  The girls were a little disappointed about how we incorporated supper into it at the same time, but their special "tea cups", the hot chocolate "tea" they were served, as well as finding out that this is real tea over in the UK, helped a little!!  =)