Thursday, May 31, 2012

Easy Bake Oven

Zoe received an Easy Bake Oven as an early birthday gift from her Grammie.  She's been wanting one now for five years so she was pretty excited.  She and Abby Grace have baked for us now for several nights in a row.   Good thing the cupcakes are the size of nickels.

Zoe and her new prized possession.  The gallery wall behind her is new.  I bought a bunch of cheap white frames and now display our kids' artwork on the dining room wall.  I am really enjoying it.  It was actually worth it to drill every single hole into our concrete wall. 

Here the girls are busy baking--and yes, laundry baskets can usually be found on the kitchen counter in my home. 

Abby Grace really does take after me.  See how teeny the treats are?  Also, the map on the table is a great tip I learned from another homeschooling mom.  Even if you don't homeschool, it's a great way to protect your wooden table while you have kids at home, get the world in front of your kids, and start global conversations at every meal.  The other day when someone showed Zoe their birthmark Zoe exclaimed, "It's in the shape of Sri Lanka!"  I still need to check the map for that shape. 

Camping on Izena Island

We had the pleasure of taking a small group of people from the Harbor to nearby Izena Island for camping over Memorial Day Weekend.  It was gorgeous!  God gave us beautiful weather and a sweet time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Whirlwind Trip to Denver

Our family completed our whirlwind relay race to Denver last Wednesday night when I returned with Zoe, Abby Grace, and Hannah to Okinawa.  We went briefly to be with Mark's mom who continues to suffer greatly from ALS.  It's a heart wrenching and unpredictable disease and Mark felt compelled that we should squeeze in a visit (he booked the tickets right after hearing sweet Abby Grace say, "I really hope we get to see Grammie again.").  Because Rebekah is still not allowed in the US (until she becomes a US citizen in October, Lord willing) we relayed it with Mark going first, me high-fiving him in Denver, and him running back while I visited for one more week with the kids.  Though it was fast, we are all so glad we were there for the brief time that God allowed.

Janet, Mark's mom, indeed puts her hope in the Lord, which is so encouraging.  She did not let her lack of mobility inhibit her playtime with her granddaughters.  She has two electric wheelchairs and so she let Abby Grace sit on her lap and then let Zoe drive the other one and they had races in her cul-de-sac!  She's always been a hands-on, super-fun, playtime kind of Grammie.  Though she was tired, had very limited mobility, and suffered from great pain while we were there, she tried hard (and succeeded!) to leave her girls with wonderful memories.  I count it a huge privilege that she is my mother-in-law.

As I mentioned before leaving, a crises erupted in my own nuclear family the week prior to our trip home.  It was still at its height when I arrived and drove me to my knees to ask the Lord to spare the lives of those involved and to please pursue them with His relentless grace, that they might commit their lives to His care.  That situation continues to be a source of anxiety for me and has me prayer dependent indeed.

While the situations at home in Denver were hard, we were so thankful for air travel and the means to go there.  It's hard to encourage from afar and was a blessing to be there in the flesh.  

As we do our best to wrap our minds around Mark's mom's suffering and the crises in my family, we find our humanity incapable.  It's all just too much.  The what-ifs are too many.  And so I find myself scripture dependent.  I'm reveling in the scriptures that speak of hope in God.

"...those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Isaiah 49:23

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:5

"Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."  Pslam 42:11

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." Psalm 62:5

"Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers?  No, it is you, O Lord our God.  Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this." Jeremiah 14:22

I'll close with some pics from the US.  Tomorrow I'll add photos of our Memorial Day weekend--we just returned from a Harbor camping trip to a neighboring island.

Abby Grace and Zoe about to fly out with Daddy. 

Hannah received a tie-dye kit for her fifth birthday (yes, I think the gift-giver actually hates me).  We took an afternoon when we were home alone to make some shirts for everyone.  Very fun! 

Here's Hannah and me in our new creations.  What a flower child. 

This was on mother's day.  I took Rebekah and Hannah to a walk-up Thai restaurant.  It was pretty fun! 

The girls in Denver with their cousins--my brother's son Thor and his daughter Axel.  Such sweet kids! 

The girls with Grammie.  

The girls plus Axel with my mom. 

When we flew back this is how my kids looked in Tokyo.  We still had one more plane to catch and they were all out COLD when it was time to deplane. 

We were the last people off after I relentlessly harassed them to wakeup! Traveling with three kids across the Pacific isn't exactly easy--but like I said, we were so grateful for the chance to fly "home" and enter into life with our loved ones. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Poem By Zoe, age 8

Zoe wrote this poem to me before she left for the States.  I had to share.

To Mom:

What does mommy do at night?
She tucks me in and turns off the light.
If my mom isn't the best mom ever,
I'd like to hear about some mom that's better.
Could you tell me about this mom that's better?
No.  Not ever.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The book I loan out the most

I have loaned out this book about six times per year for the last nine years.  It's a thorough, biblical, God-honoring discussion of sex.  I think it answers questions and concerns that all married women have but don't necessarily know how to discuss with others.  I've used it as a Bible study, too, which was really productive.  I wouldn't recommend it to single women, but I think it would be beneficial to every married woman on Earth.  It's nice to have around to loan out too--the average read time is about three days--it's a page turner.

Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Does the birth control pill cause abortions?

Last weekend we here at the Harbor hosted a seminar in which the speakers (not me and Mark, but a couple including a husband who is a Chaplain and a wife who is a Physicians Assistant), presented a biblical framework for children, as well as medical evidence that the birth control pill does indeed cause abortion.  It was a controversial and compelling presentation.   I urge my Christian brothers and sisters to cease using the Pill and educate yourself by reading the following short book, available online:

"Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?" by Randy Alcorn

The audio from the seminar will be podcasted soon and I will post that here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

God is Enough

This afternoon and evening I have felt almost tempted to despair--as mentioned two days ago in my post entitled "Raw," we are walking through three hard things right now.  In addition to these three things, half of my family is now flying to America.  Zoe, Abby Grace, and Mark are in the air over the Pacific.  Them traveling, coupled with my heavy heart, can be a recipe for fretful, unbiblical thinking.  In this weary state I am more prone to take worry to the next level and actually visualize what would happen if their plane wrecked or if we had a massive earthquake here on the Ring of Fire where I live.  I'm asking the Lord to control my thoughts and keep me from going there.  In addition, I led Bible study tonight (on contentment--perfect!) and so being in fellowship and the Word allowed my heart to be engaged in battle on the side of victory.

Tonight, as many other nights, I have to ask myself, "So?  So what?  So what if the worst came to pass?  What if you did lose everyone?  What if all your babies and your husband did die?  What if?"  And my heart has a choice to make now and everyday that is a walk of faith.  By God's grace only and by the power of Christ in me, I am able to say, "God is enough."  I have to decide NOW that God is good and sovereign and that nothing, NOTHING, is outside His will.  If those things did happen, God is enough.

I'm praying Psalm 73:25-28 tonight--Lord God please align my heart with this Psalm and make it true of me to the very depths of my soul:

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

If you have 2 minutes and 50 seconds I urge you to watch this video of a portion of a sermon by John Piper proclaiming that God is enough.  We are tempted to worship the gifts (children, safety, family, security) more than the Giver (God Himself).  This poignant video combats that and I long for a heart that truly, always, and fully believes God is enough.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Looking Back

A dear friend and fellow adoptive parent is aware of our struggles as we wait on the Lord to bring healing in the way I mentioned in my last post.  This friend emailed Mark and me today with an excerpt from the second page of John Newton's autobiography, "Out of the Depths."  So good.

Looking Back
For us, however, there is a time coming when our spiritual warfare
will be finished, our perspective enlarged, and our understanding
increased.  Then we will look back upon the experiences through which
the Lord led us and be overwhelmed by adoration and love for Him!  We
will then see and acknowledge that mercy and goodness directed every
step.  We shall see that what we once mistakenly called afflictions
and misfortunes were in reality blessings without which we would not
have grown in faith.  Nothing happened to us without a reason.  No
problem came upon us sooner, pressed on us more heavily, or continued
longer than our situation required.  God, in divine grace and wisdom,
used our many afflictions, each as needed, that we might ultimately
possess an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, prepared by the Lord
for his people.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


It's been a rough five days.  It's been a week on which I will look back and say, "Yes, that was a very sad time, but God was and is good, in spite of the circumstances that seemed to be shattering around me."  Three things in particular are troubling us now.

As I have said before on this blog, physical, earthly adoption mirrors our spiritual adoption as children of God.  Just as God the Father pursued us to make us His own children when we were far from Him, adoptive parents move towards their helpless adoptive kids and make them their own.  And in both adoptions, a work of the Spirit must happen.  When we are born again as Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us and converts us from children of darkness to children of light.  Well, I am learning anew that the Holy Spirit must also convert earthly adopted kids--only God can convert their spirits from the heart of an orphan to the heart of a son or daughter.  Only God Himself can bring healing and restoration and convince a once-orphaned child that he or she is now a dearly loved heir.  Waiting for that conversion is painful and brings with it a host of burdens.

In addition to the above hard lesson, I have become aware over the past few days of a crises taking place in my own nuclear family back in Colorado.  It has me saddened to the core.  Someone exceedingly precious to me is suffering greatly and no end seems in sight.  I am on my knees begging God to bring healing and I do indeed feel so worried.

Lastly, as you may know, my sweet mother-in-law continues to suffer from ALS (a terminal and painful disease).  Mark and I are having a sort of relay-trip to Denver over the next two weeks to see her.  He'll go first, then I'll go, and he'll come back.  Mark has felt his mom's suffering pressing on him and he wants so badly to alleviate some it.  The three little girls will make the trip with us (in shifts) but we are forced to leave Rebekah here, as the US refuses to grant her a second visa.  These travels, too, have me anxious.

It's no coincidence that in the Bible study I lead here at the Harbor we have just memorized the following verses, which I am taking to heart and trusting to be true and life-giving:

"6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of Godwhich transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
--Philippians 4:6-9

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A few of my favorite things--Spiritual Growth Books

I truly believe you are what you read.  Smut in, smut out.  Fluff in, fluff out.  Reading and watching crap isn't profitable.  That's why I avoid vampire romances.  Really, ladies, you're reading that?  C'mon.  But I digress.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul teaches us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praise worthy and "the peace of God will be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).  

I have a few spiritual growth favorites and can't encourage you enough to read them.  I feel especially strongly about the first two, as they have played a strong role in shaping my faith.

1.  Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, by John Piper--a true classic and powerful exposition of the Christian faith.  The thesis of the book is a slightly tweaked version of the Westminster Catechism and is my life mission statement: The chief end of man (the reason we are alive) is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever (is to enjoy God fully, which gives the Him credit and honor that He deserves).  The book is dense and challenging but so worth it--rich truth in, rich truth out.

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

2.  Heaven, by Randy Alcorn--I began reading this book after Mark's mom was diagnosed with a terminal disease in 2009.  As she suffers in her sickness our family is increasingly heavenward in our thinking and dreaming.  Heaven is a lengthy study of what the Bible says about heaven, what we can expect, and what the Lord will bring to pass on earth and in heaven in eternity.  One of my favorite ideas from the book is that this life is the before life--heaven is the real life (not the after life).  We were made for heaven and it's coming for those who believe.  After 13 years of following the Lord, this book changed my life, in that I began to truly imagine, expect, and live for what is promised to come.


By the way, Alcorn also wrote Heaven for Kids, which both Zoe (8) and AbbyGrace (6) have read and enjoyed very much.

3.  Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow

4.  Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream, by David Platt