Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adopted for Life - Book Recommendation

By: Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at SBTS & Preaching Pastor at Highview Baptist Church

“This book is for all who have been adopted by God. With remarkable narrative flow Russell Moore illumines the beauty and wonder of our adoption in Christ and its profound and necessary implications for orphan care and the earthly practice of adoption. If you want to deepen your worship of the God who adopts and who has revealed himself to be a ‘Father to the fatherless,’ Adopted for Life will serve you exceptionally well.” -Dan Cruver, Director of Together for Adoption
"...there has never been a book that puts the adoption of children so clearly within the context of the Gospel of Christ. Adopted for Life is one of the most compelling books I have ever read — both deeply touching and richly theological. You will never look at adoption or the Gospel in quite the same way after reading this book. How could the church have been missing this for so long?” -R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of SBTS
“Russell Moore helps all believers through his very honest, transparent, and theologically enriched book to see the gospel and reality of Christ through a very fresh lens called adoption..." -Paul Pennington, Executive Director of Hope for Orphans
“Russell Moore reminds us in his powerful book, Adopted for Life, that the true Christian family reaches far beyond the biological. The poignant tale of the adoption of two Russian orphans by he and his wife Maria grows into a metaphor of Christian salvation. This book offers both practical advice and courage to every couple considering adoption. For all readers, it shows how the act of adoption actually reveals core truths about the Gospel of Christ.” -Allan Carlson, President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society
“Russell Moore has out of personal experience and with biblical accuracy produced in this work an understanding of God’s purposes in adoption and its connection with gospel compassion. Every pastor should consider the responsibility he has in making adoption a priority for the church as a viable representation of gospel doctrine of adoption.” -John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Little Birthday Shout-Out

For an irresistible little girl - Happy 3rd Birthday, Maia Moo!
With love from your Nerdy Doggy Mom

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another April Birthday for a Dear Friend!

Happy birthday to my dear friend with whom I share(d):
the same name
the same birthday month
maiden names which refer to fish
random nicknames which only a few others would remotely understand
a love for dogs (border collies!)
the awkwardness that was being a preteen
the awkwardness that was being a teen
embarrassing moments
unforgettable moments
cherished moments
the joy of being in each other's weddings
the same brute strength (oh wait, that's right, you could still whoop me)
many years of growing closer rather than apart regardless of distance
I love you so much, and I count myself beyond blessed to have walked alongside you as a dear and trusted friend all these years. You have been one of the most faithful, loyal, encouraging friends I could have ever hoped for, and I am daily thankful for the ways in which the Lord has used you as an instrument of grace in my life. So many years of my life include you as a significant role, and although we are starting to age ourselves in years (are we really 27??), I consider our friendship one that is both timeless and irreplaceable. Happy birthday, dear friend!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Song for Sunday ~ To Christ the Lord

1. To Christ the Lord let every tongue
Its noblest tribute bring
When He’s the subject of the song
Who can refuse to sing?
Survey the beauties of His face
And on His glories dwell
Think of the wonder of His grace
And all His triumphs tell

2. Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
Upon His awful brow
His head with radiant glories crowned
His lips with grace o'er flow
No mortal can with Him compare
Among the sons of men
Fairer He is than all the fair
That fill the Heavenly train

3. He saw me plunged in deep distress
He fled to my relief
For me He bore the shameful cross
And carried all my grief
His hand a thousand blessings pours
Upon my guilty head
His presence gilds my darkest hours
And guards my sleeping bed

4. To Him I owe my life and breath
And all the joys I have
He makes me triumph over death
And saves me from the grave
To Heaven the place of His abode
He brings my weary feet
Shows me the glories of my God
And makes my joy complete

5. Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine
Had I a thousand hearts to give
Lord, they should all be Thine
A thousand men could not compose
A worthy song to bring
Yet Your love is a melody
Our hearts can’t help but sing!

(S. Stennett, L. Taylor - Indelible Grace Music)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Birthday Thoughts & Highlights

I haven't figured out yet if my random bouts of emotion are due to getting older, or simply because I'm female...or both! Either way, yesterday was one of those days. From my mom's phone call at the start of the day, leading her elementary students in singing me the birthday song, to sweet emails from friends, to all of the other little surprises which came my way, I was truly touched and almost cried numerous times. I tried to capture some of the highlights from my 27th birthday:
One of my closest friends, perhaps my closest here in Louisville, gave me a huge surprise right in the middle of my workday! While I was in a meeting, she came to the office with one of her kids and left the above cake at my desk...An oatmeal cookie cake measuring about 18 inches across made with white chocolate was divine. She also left a sweet note and some new little scrapbooking items. (I think I made some new friends at work thanks to her!).
My mother sent a package which contained a recipe book and a clock. This is the clock my grandparents gave to her and my father back in 1977! It was the familiar chime I heard throughout my childhood and one of those sentimental items I always secretly hoped to inherit. I was definitely surprised to receive it now since she had given no indication that she was going to hand it off to me anytime soon. She knows I am the sentimental one in the family, so I assume she wasn't all that surprised by my emotional response when I called to thank her~

The way to a wife's heart? Well, for this wife a sure way is to grill tenderloin, vegetables, and stuffed banana peppers~

And my husband definitely knows me well. He gave me a new coffee maker that has a programable timer, and the new movie "Marley & Me"! If you ever have the privilege of seeing me in the morning hours, you will see why having the ability to preset the coffee is just short of necessity~

As an appropriate ending to a sweet and humbling birthday, we watched "Marley & Me." In conclusion to a day of being on the verge of tears, I just went ahead bawled. And just as I did after seeing the movie in the theater, I hugged my two wonderful dogs a little tighter.
One thing I am learning with each passing year is how much the little things in life can be the most sweet and valuable. My husband and I both enjoyed quiet, fairly uneventful birthdays. The quality of the time spent together was sweet, and that's what was so treasured for both of us. This year already feels as if it's flashing before our eyes, and I want to savor every day and moment we are given. In contrast to some previous years, I do feel older in turning 27. I don't feel older in any negative ways, but rather as one more year in which I am growing both personally and in my relationships. Each passing day is a gift, and my birthday was one more opportunity to take in and really reflect on this reality of the unmerited grace I have been given. The Lord is indescribably good~

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Beneath the Cross of Jesus"

Beneath the cross of Jesus I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy that calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me hold wounds which tell me, "Come."
Beneath the cross of Jesus my unworthy soul is won.
Beneath the cross of Jesus His family is my own—
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams, now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor the ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus see the children called by God.
Beneath the cross of Jesus—the path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us to be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus we will gladly live our lives.
(Words & Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Glimpse of Sweet Resurrection Reality

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. ~ 1 John 1:1-3, ESV
As with countless other local churches worldwide, our small congregation joined together this morning for corporate worship in celebration of Resurrection Sunday. Following the worship service, some of us met at our small group leaders' home for an afternoon of dinner and fellowship. Not until my husband and I returned home was I touched by something quite profound. The New Testament writers, as seen in such passages as the one above, and witnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ spoke of the very realities we as the Church experience today. The new life inaugurated by His resurrection is the very one in which we live, and in which generations have continued to proclaim "He is risen! He is risen indeed!" Wow...I was blown away by this incredible thought as I returned home from the commotion and fun from the afternoon. His redeeming work has made such fellowship possible--and not just any fellowship, but that which can only be experienced among fellow believers, fellow recipients of His glorious mercy and grace. Below are mere glimpses of this sweet fellowship~

He is risen - He is risen indeed!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where Is Your Sting?

Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?
I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.
Where is your sting?
DEATH, sneeringly:
My sting is your sin.
I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.
Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?
Where is, my sin?
What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?
O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.
Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Husband







The more I think of the years already passed, the more I am moved by overwhelming gratitude for how the Lord blessed my life with yours. When you and I first started engaging in deep conversation some six years ago, eventually leading to our dating relationship, I was a total mess. From those first days we spent together, the Lord was at work changing my heart and tearing down the wall I had placed around me in order that I would be ready for you to enter into my life. Through some of the darkest days to the best I could have ever imagined, you have been there. You have been there to encourage and exhort, challenge and spur me on as we are in this daily journey desiring to become more like Christ. Your aim is my ultimate good, even when I am near-sighted and can't see what the Lord is doing. While you have been a gift far beyond all I could ever anticipate, I stand beside you everyday eager for the season that lies ahead for us. It stirs my heart to know that you are fervently praying and preparing for wherever the Lord leads you as a pastor, and I count myself undeserving and blessed to walk beside you. Neither of us is capable of anything great, which is why I continually pray that we will always fall at the mercy and grace of the Lord in the days ahead. The future is unknown, but I look at where He has already brought us thus far, and I know He will continue doing above and beyond all we could ever dream. As your wife and the person who knows you best, I know He has plans for you far beyond what you could ever hope for yourself. I am a better person because of how the Lord has used you in my life, and I am confident that He will use you in amazing ways to lead and teach others wherever He takes us.
Happy Birthday to my husband...I love you more than I can articulate, and I am honored to be your wife~

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Ever-Growing Vet Record... much so that Nali is a familiar name around our vet's office. I tell my husband all the time to "be careful" when he's teasing her. Nali is quite the easy mark for getting picked on (like her mother), and she does tend to randomly hurt herself from time to time. I'm always afraid that she is going to land wrong or hurt something, yet nothing has ever happened when those two are playing rough.
So leave it to me to be the one who simply rolls up a car window and she manages to break a tooth...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Song for Sunday ~ In Light of the Cross and Resurrection

(words & music by D. Webb)
Like a man comes to an altar I came into this town
With the world upon My shoulders and promises passed down
And I went into the water and My Father, He was pleased
I built it and I’ll tear it down so you will be set free
But I found thieves and salesmen living in My Father’s house
I know how they got in here and I know how to get ‘em out
I’m turning this place over from floor to balcony
And then just like these doves and sheep you will be set free
I have always been a lover from before I drew a breath
Some things I loved easy and some I loved to death
Because love’s no politician, it listens carefully
Of those who come I can’t lose one, so you will be set free
So go on and take My picture, go on and make Me up
I’ll still be your Defender, you’ll be My missing son
And I’ll send out an army just to bring you back to Me
'Cause regardless of your brother’s lies you will be set free
I am My Beloveds and My Beloved’s Mine
So you bring all your history and I’ll bring the bread and wine
And we’ll have us a party where all the drinks are on Me
Then as surely as the rising sun you will be set free
Oh, you will be set free

We had the opportunity to sing this at church during the worship service yesterday morning just prior to the preaching of the Word. Most in the congregation had never heard this before, and I was blessed to help introduce such powerful words and music to them. I almost wish we had put the words up for the congregation to be able to read, but even still, many were moved by the incredible message. I found it to be so appropriate not only being sung just prior to the sermon, but also as we enter into the upcoming days that many refer to as Passion Week. We talked in our small group last night about how often this holiday tends to zip by as one of many others throughout the year, and yet, this is the most crucial and life-altering event to have taken place in history... I have been overwhelmed to the point of feeling mute as I have been reflecting on passages in Scripture which tell of the agony of the Crucifixion and that earth-shattering day when the sky went dark, the earth shook, and the temple curtain was torn in two. We as believers should never let this season pass us by without true remembrance and reflection on what this all really means - one day that changed the course of history forever, one day that made it possible for us to stand blameless before the Lord, one day when the Man of Sorrows took our wretchedness, guilt and shame fully upon Himself. We can claim no other life, no other hope than that day two thousand years ago when Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah coming to initiate the new covenant with His people. Christ was born to die, and Christ died knowing that He would ultimately rise again. May we be in awe of the soul-transforming power of the cross. Oh, this would be the season more than any other when we are so fully aware of His mercy and grace that we are overflowing the passion to share this death-defying Gospel truth with others.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Birthday Thoughts for a Special Friend

The Lord is sweet to cross our paths with faithful, encouraging men and women along life's journey. He brings them into our lives at ordained times, although there are times when we aren't aware until many days/months/years later of the lasting impact a particular individual has had.
The young woman wearing the SFA t-shirt in the above picture is someone I have never had the opportunity to meet, and yet, our paths have crossed this past year. We share the commonality of not just being blog buddies, but there is someone who has been a crucial thread in knitting us together as friends. I have had the honor and humble privilege of knowing the woman in both pictures since I was an over-dramatic, obnoxiously loud adolescent. From as far back as I can remember when we met, the Lord began a work of encouraging and spurring me on through her words and presence in my life. Through her and her best friend, I was being taught from a young age that my value is in Christ alone through His redeeming work.
AJF from Absolutely His is celebrating her 20th birthday today, and her day of fun and celebration has compelled me to reflect on the ways in which I have been mentored just as she has thus far in life. We are so undeserving of the dear friends He places in our lives, and it gladdens my heart to see the fruit of the two of us having been directly influenced by the same woman. When I was AJF's age (umm...almost seven years ago? scary...), I was positively clueless as to the lasting impact both Funderstorm and PandaMom would have on me. At that age, halfway through college at the time (AJF is way ahead of where I was in school at the time), I was beginning to feel the weight of the refining process, and had accepted neither the fact that I was a work in progress nor that the Lord had far greater plans for me than I could have dreamed. I am amazed and praise Him alone that I did not sell myself short in the midst of my doubt and impatience during those immature years.
I remember when Funderstorm and PandaMom would respond somewhat awkwardly in my mind to the countless letters and cards I gave them in attempts to express my gratitude. In my immaturity, I thought it was awkwardness on their part, but how little I knew then. What they were dealing with was the fact that none of us are deserving of the very great, very weighty privilege of being used as instruments in the lives of others. From our weak and ill-equipped perspective, the task can be overwhelming when you realize the impact you may have on another at any given time. The most seemingly insignificant word can have a lasting impact in the heart of another. I look back now at the influence these two women had, and I can say without a doubt that they were fully dependent on the Lord during those times. Acknowledging that they had nothing in and of themselves to offer, they relied on Him for wisdom, that the truth of the Gospel might be heard through their words and acts of compassion.
Now that I am actually past the age they were when I first met Funderstorm and PandaMom, I am starting to realize that I am no longer the adolescent. We are always growing, always being shaped and molded into His image, but I am no longer that adolescent child I once was. I am now at an age and place in which the Lord is showing me ways I can be of encouragement to younger women. The realization is strange as I often still feel so young and childish, but in our weakness He is still sweet to move and to work.
AJF - I am thankful for the unexpected way in which our paths have crossed. It kind of weirds me out how similar we are; as I read your blog, I sometimes feel as if I am reading some of the very things I thought and wrote at your age. It can definitely be a challenging season, as you have articulated on occasion, and I see the ways in which the Lord is preparing for whatever He may have in store for you. You are nearing a new chapter in your life, and I know the changes in store can often be overwhelming. May you continue to rest in Him, hold fast to His truth in the face of changes and new individuals with whom you will come in contact. May you never lose sight of Him in whom your identity is found, and may every knew experience draw you that much closer to Him. Happy birthday, dear friend!