Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A litte of this and a little of that...

I put a couple of pictures Bubba drew in school for your enjoyment.
He is ALWAYS drawing. He is definitely the artist/free thinker of the family. This first picture cracks me up since he is the one in the middle who is "just right". He said he is happy even though he looks sad. Lake's hair makes me laugh too.

This picture is of Bubba and Reece. I thought this was sweet since they spend every waking second together. They are lost without one another. That is another thing I love about homeschool... that I don't have to separate the boys.

Reece made a container out of clay to return the ring in (the one he found in the ocean). We sent it to its owner along with this verse..
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
2 Cor 4:7
What a cool story of the power of prayer! That ring has jump started my prayer life.
This is the man room.... It is going SLOW but it will be great when it is done. The boys drew a picture of Ethan (the construction worker who has practically lived with us for a month) in their family picture at Mother's Day Out.
You cannot see by this picture the size of this room but we knocked out a wall and it is HUGE now. That is a bar being built on the left. More pictures to come.

Yesterday, I had the super-privilege of going to see one of Reece's friends. "J" is not an ordinary friend. He is from Guatemala. He was found by some missionaries and had a huge tumor taking over his face and neck. The arrangements were made for him to come here and live with a host family while doctors and surgeons began the tough job of figuring out how to remove his tumor that would eventually kill him if not dealt with.
He knew no English and was taken in by a host family at our Church. He has been here for over a year. Reece became friends with him at Church. I didn't know they were friends. One night at a baseball game, we saw him there and Reece started pulling on my shirt and pointing at him. I was so scared that Reece was going to say... "What is wrong with his face, momma?" so I hushed him and said, "Reece, what is it?" He said, "Momma, that is my friend!".
Well, since then "J" has been in NYC with one of the best surgeons having surgery. He was there for 2 long weeks in ICU. He almost bled to death during surgery and so they were unable to remove the whole tumor. The surgery was a success though.
He hated being there and was in a lot of pain. But, now he is at his home in Tennessee and soon will be going back to Guatemala to be reunited with his family.
So, yesterday, Reece and I went to visit him with some cupcakes. His eyes lit up when he saw Reece. His host mom told me that the bullying had been really bad in Guatemala and that he hadn't had many friends. Friends mean the world to him. She said, "He will never forget this".
He and Reece went upstairs and played games. I could hear lots of laughing.
This sweet little boy has been through more in 6 years than most of us will our whole lives. I had so much compassion for him because of what I have been through. Both of us have been deeply affected by the sting of this fallen world. He, way more than me.
So much suffering. It definitely begs the question "why?".
But, as I have walked my road, now I see things differently. I see "J" as chosen by God for a very specific purpose. Maybe that tumor brought him here for a year to learn about Jesus in order to go back and tell his family and his country. Who knows how God is going to redeem this suffering in his life. When I look at him, my heart definitely hurts but I see the fingerprints of Jesus, of Hope, of Redemption, of THE GOSPEL.
I have seen the faithfulness of God to not waste our pain. To make it beautiful and to use it for the FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL. I believe that, in mercy, God allows hard things into our lives in order that the gospel may go out in power because He desires that no one perish apart from Him. So, if that means making us uncomfortable for a temporary time in order that more will hear and understand the gospel, then lost souls trump our temporary comfort. I think it breaks His heart to see us suffer but I also know that HE KNOWS the end of the story. He knows we have an inheritance that cannot spoil or fade kept for us. He knows how to use us in the greatest way while we are here. This doesn't mean suffering is fun. It isn't--NOT AT ALL. But, the beauty is that IT ISN'T WASTED. NEVER. EVER. EVER.
God will turn your suffering into something beautiful if you are willing to turn it over to him and allow Him to work through you in magnificent ways.
He is our REDEEMER. His plans for you are GOOD. We absolutely cannot focus on what is seen but what is unseen.

I looked "J" in the eyes before I left and said, "You are so special. God has BIG, BIG plans for you."
By the twinkle in "J"'s eyes as I spoke, I knew that he knew that.
Watch out Guatemala... here comes the gospel.
We are going to have a party for him at our house next week.
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."
Job 19:25

I (the boys and I) are memorizing the book of Philippians these days. I have never challenged myself to anything like this and it is hard- but oh, so amazingly rewarding and exhilarating!!! Paul is teaching me so much about perspective in trials. He never once questions God's goodness or His supremacy over our horrible circumstances. Check out Paul's heart of faith in the goodness of God while he is in prison...
"being CONFIDENT of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (1:6)
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." (1:12)
"Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was at work. He wasn't angry or bitter about his beatings and imprisonment because his focus was always on the eternal and spreading the gospel. He had seen God deliver him by crazy ways (earthquake/angels/Jesus Christ Himself knocking him off his horse). Paul knew to pray for miracles... he knew God could return a ring lost in the bottom of the ocean if we asked Him to ;). He knew that there was no question that God was able to save Him but Paul also knew that God does miracles while we are still in chains. Paul's ministry was, in the natural sense, stopped by being thrown in prison but, in the supernatural sense, making incredible impact.
I heard Howard Hendricks refer to the Spiritual Law of Thermodynamics. The more heat that is applied to a believer's life, the more it expands. (I thought that was so cool.) I have seen God's faithfulness in this area in my life in great ways. The doors He has opened due to suffering have been unbelievable.
Be encouraged if you feel trapped by trial. God can use you in incredible ways FROM INSIDE YOUR PRISON. Just keep your focus on Christ and His faithfulness... not the chains.
Here is Bubba saying part of Colossians 1...
Don't forget to pause the music.

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."
Col 1:9-18
People ask me all the time how I get the boys to learn so much Scripture. I will let you in on my little revolutionary secret. It is very spiritual, very holy... CHEESE BALLS.
We call them Verse Balls in our house. You will be amazed at the power of a cheese ball.
Buy the huge tub from Sam's.
Oh, that we may live lives worthy of the Lord!
"But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love."
Acts 20:24
Be blessed~


Anonymous said...

Fun! I love to see Bubba's little heart through drawings, and Reece's through friendship, and yours through the wisdom God has taught you through all you've been through. I'm so glad I get to be here every day to see all this happening, and your amazing response to your stuff...and you're hot. Tim

Angela said...

You and Tim crack me up!

Wonderful post, wonderful reminder of God's love for us.

Love ya!

Erin Southwell said...

Your posts are always packed with so much good stuff, all of my comments in my head as I'm reading through have flown away by the time I get to comment. And then Tim says something hillarious and all rational thought is out the window!

1. That top picture cracked me UP because of Lake's hair!!!! I literally laughed out loud at my desk at work.

2. The ring story is still ministering to me, and that jar of clay is way cool-kinda like you, friend.

3. The story of J is incredible. I want to be a foster family like that. Incredible!!!!!! And reece is such a good friend.

4. I want to have dinner with Paul and pick his brain. Like majorly bad.

5. I'm right there with you in Phillipians, so pass the cheese balls please.


Anonymous said...


You don't know me, but I read your blog often! I am good friends with the girls whose Bible study you spoke at once- Emily, Sarah and Becca. I also know Diana Simpson because of being friends with her family, the Powers.
Anyway, I want you to know that the picture you posted of "J" with his surgeon is even more special than you already knew! The doctor in that picture is a very wonderful man who I attend church with and who in every aspect of his medical profession seeks to glorify God. The Lord has used him to change people's lives far more than just physically. I can't wait to see him and tell him the story behind "J" who he has helped!

<>< Alex

The Sharp's said...

I love stories about how different people show their love for God and for other people. It's so good to know that living the Christian life isn't a cookie cutter deal. I've got a good blog coming about the call on our lives...had some incredible encouragement today.

Anonymous said...

Steph, the boys rock!! What you and Tim are doing really ministers to my heart and helps us set goals for our teaching of our children. Keep it up, Godbless...Tristan

Mary T said...

You touch me in so many ways, Stephanie, but your stories of faith are so, so inspiring and just make me sit back and say "Jesus, you are so good. Your love is so great and your plans for us are so boundless with mercy and grace."
Thank you, Stephanie.

Anonymous said...

Missing your posts - hope you are well!