Monday, August 30, 2010

God's Healing Touch Through Adoption

Princess Bink a couple of days after we adopted her (age 3)...


...and today (age 8)


We thank and praise God for the remarkable healing He has done in her life.

~Mr. & Mrs. Beaver

Saturday, August 28, 2010

God's Heart for Orphans (part 3)

This continues a series of posts highlighting what God’s word has to say about caring for orphans (see parts 1& 2 - May 28 and June 5, respectively).


(Princess Bink, Tatiana and Gigglebox on the day they became ours. The girls are standing in the director's office in Tatiana and Gigglebox's orphanage. The photo captures the reunion of the three sisters after having been separated in different orphanages for 11 months. We had picked up Princess Bink first early that morning. She was so frightened by all the change and sobbed quietly for about two hours. April 2005)

In parts 1&2, we saw that God’s heart for the orphan is unmistakable. He views them as very important, and worthy of His special care and attention. He sees them as naturally vulnerable, and warns us not to take advantage of them or oppress them. And He warns us that He will be their care-taker and father, defending them against us if we fail to heed His warnings. (Ps 68:5-6a, Ps 146:9, Ex 22:22-24, Deut 10:17-18, Deut 27:19, Zech 7:10a)

God tells us in His word of many specific ways we should care for orphans. And, by principled extension of His word, we can imagine many more ways that would likely fit with His instruction to care for them. everyone can do something to care for orphans. This is just a short list of ideas based mostly on some work done through the Christian Alliance for Orphans:
  1. Pray for them – Matt 7:7-8, Phil 4:6-7 - Tape a waiting child’s picture up and pray for the child every time you see it (get picture at AdoptUsKids.org or RainbowKids.com).Organize a prayer vigil at your church to pray for children in foster and orphanage care.
  2. Speak up for them – Prov 31:8-9 - Carry a waiting child’s picture and ask believers you know if they or someone they know would give the child a home. Use every means at your disposal to spread the word of waiting children (email, phone calls, etc.)… you never know who God has in mind for them.
  3. Provide for their needs – James 2:15-16, 2 Cor 9:6-7 - Give sacrificially to a reputable orphanage (HelpOrphans.org).Organize efforts in church to collect school supplies, shoes, etc. for orphans overseas (GainUSA.org, ShoesForOrphanSouls.org, we particularly love the ‘Both Hands’ concept that helps both orphans and widows!)
  4. Support those who support them – Heb 10:24 - Mow, babysit, organize meals, pray for foster or adoptive parents. Encourage a family adopting older children – they face special challenges. Stick with them… their needs don’t go away after the first couple of weeks… or years.
  5. Protect them from harm – Ps 146:9, Isaiah 1:16-17 - Become a foster parent or emergency foster parent. Raise money to build a children’s home to help kids stay off the streets (WorldOrphans.org).
  6. Visit them where they are – James 1:27 - Go on a short-term mission trip to an orphanage (GainUSA.org, HelpOrphans.org). Take dinner to a foster group-home on a regular basis.
  7. Give sacrificially to them – 2 Cor 9:7 - Support reputable orphan care organizations on a regular basis. Contribute to an adoptive family to help offset their costs (ShaohannahsHope.org, LifeSongForOrphans.org, Katelyn’s Fund, your own church).
  8. Encourage them – 1 Thess 5:14 - Sponsor a child and encourage them through letters (VisionTrust.org). Become a mentor or tutor to a teenager in a foster group-home.
  9. Mobilize your church for them – Matt 28:18-20 - Be a catalyst in the church for starting a sustained orphans ministry (HopeForOrphans.org).
  10. Brainstorm other ways – ‘crawl’, then ‘walk’, then ‘run’ for the Lord!
The range of options we have to participate in God’s plan to care for the orphans is limitless. Some options are easy… some are difficult. Some of them come at no cost… some come at a high cost.

But let me ask the question you probably don’t want to consider… what challenge is too difficult and what price is too high? Consider the One who gave His all to reconcile us to Himself? It is He who commands us to care for the vulnerable. It is He whose heart breaks for them.


(Speedy on the day we met him, as well as his sisters Jaynie and Cassandra, in his orphanage in western Russia in July 2001; he was 5-1/2. We were eating our second meal together in the "apartment" in which the two of us stayed on the orphanage grounds. Speedy was just determined to cut an apple with his butter knife. The activity kept him busy for about 30 minutes.)

Yes, everyone can help care for the orphan. The impact of even our tiniest steps will be multiplied by His grace and power. The list of ways we can step up and participate in God’s plan to care for the orphans is limited only by the hardness of our hearts. Will you pray for a soft heart?

In part 4, we’ll extend our learning to see how adoption fits into God’s thinking about these special little ones.

~ Mr. Beaver

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Announcing...a Sister Blog

Our oldest daughters, Tessa and Lissie--who are only 15 months apart--have been fast friends from the beginning. Here Tessa is giving her younger sister an exotic hairdo while they stand in Lissie's crib.


They enjoy laughing together...


...and working together.


Tessa and Lissie's newest collaboration is a blog of their own. They hope Impassioned Purity will encourage girls and young women to give wholehearted devotion to Christ as they navigate today's culture. We invite you to take a look by clicking on the link above or on our blog's sidebar.

~Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Musing: "Calmed and Strengthened"


I'm still struggling with rising on time to spend enough time in God's word. (for background see Monday Musing: Hungry) In an effort to encourage myself, and hopefully to encourage others, this Monday's Musing is a second quote by Elisabeth Leseur:
"The farther I read into the Gospels and Epistles, the more I do find a charm, a strength, a life that is incomparable. God is indeed there; from this reading I come each day calmed and strengthened; my will is reinforced there and my heart warmed. God, the Supreme Teacher, through this book of books, educates my inmost being. It helps me to understand life, to smile at duty, and to will strongly."
My Spirit Rejoices, Elizabeth Leseur, Journal entry dated March 29, 1900

~Mrs. Beaver

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Supremely Beautiful Book"


"I read the Gospel, and by that sweet light I discover in myself many a nook of egotism and vanity. Unique book, perpetually new, supremely beautiful, resplendent with truth, of exquisite grace and charm, from which one can draw unendingly and never exhaust it!"
My Spirit Rejoices, Elizabeth Leseur, Journal entry dated March 29, 1900

~ Mrs. Beaver

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Delicious Detour

On our way home from Texas, the kids and I stopped in Kansas to see Uncle John and Aunt Carol. They've been long-term, enthusiastic supporters of our family as we've grown by adding trios of older Russian siblings during the past nine years.

When we arrived, they crowded into our 15-passenger van filled with luggage and 10 tired travelers. We were refreshed by dinner at a favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. Uncle John purchased the meal for all of us--with a family our size, this amounts to a mammoth act of generosity!


As we were leaving the restaurant, Aunt Carol asked if she could buy each of us a treat at the candy store next door. Again, what generosity!


We went in and immediately with some deep concentration debated what delectable to select.



Eventuallly we each decided which type of candy we wanted...


...and Aunt Carol made sure no one was missed as the order was filled.


My family left Sweet Caroline's happy...


...and this mother of nine left relieved after reading the small store's rules--especially the last one. ~ Mrs. Beaver

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday Musing (a Day Late): "Dying to Live"

Cadgwith, England--April 2005

On the long drive back from Texas, I began to read a book that has long been on my "Someday..." bookshelf. Just a few chapters in, I can already tell that Passionate Housewives Desperate for God is perfect preparation for me because hopefully we're within just weeks of adding three more children to our tribe through adoption.

I've already read the following paragraphs several times. The words resonate with what I have learned about motherhood, about serving my King, and about joy since we adopted our first trio of older children almost nine years ago. Despite having learned the truth below through many hard real-life lessons (encountered repeatedly because of my stubborn self-will), authors' Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald reminder will help me to get through today. And I will need their reminder again and again and again as I learn to parent 12 children. Their words give me hope and encourage me:

"The truth is that biblical motherhood doesn't mean we're promised postcard perfect days where we lounge together with our little ones on  the porch swing in white starched dresses sipping lemonade and singing in harmony. Homegrown children take a lot of hard work--and sometimes 'it ain't pretty.' Other times, it's breathtaking.

"Biblical motherhood means sacrifice, selfless love, and faithful dedication. It means we're there with our families--body, mind, and spirit. To recognize our purpose in motherhood, we must see the godly generations beyond our own children (Genesis 24:60, Deuteronomy 4:9, 7:9). This means denying ourselves (Matthew 16:25) and being consumed with God and His love for us. It means starting each morning on our face in repentance and thanksgiving, pleading for His grace and for the strength to glorify Him in our daily endeavors. It means loving God more than our children--and consequently, He will equip us to truly love them and prepare us to serve them through Christ our Lord. It means impacting future generations by our faithfulness now.

"We must die to self on a minute-by-minute basis. "Die to self?" you may ask. What can that mean? Jesus said that anyone who desired to come after Him must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:25-26). He didn't say, "Of those who desire to come after Me, some will need to take up their cross..." He said anyone. Do you feel like you've been "losing your life" lately? Perhaps you've been trying to save it...

"Since Scripture tells us 'it's not all about us'--it is all about Him (Matthew 10:38-39)--we can be assured that He will help us to continually persevere in steadfast service to Him. We must reject the vain philosophies of this world that distract us with selfish pursuits and instead embrace the magnificent paradox of the Gospel. If you feel desperate, are you willing to die--to self? If your answer is yes, then hang on! Because you are finally ready to live!" (pgs. 21,22)
Pleading with God to help me die to self minute-by-minute,
~Mrs. Beaver

Monday, August 16, 2010

On to Texas

After our delightful detours in Kansas, we drove on to northern Texas to join in the graduation celebration of my sister and brother-in-law's oldest child, Amanda. She was born just 15 days before our twins, Joe and Lissie, and has been an important part of our lives ever since. Amanda and her three siblings are dear friends to our kids.

Amanda's family waited until mid August to celebrate her high school graduation because they have been in the middle of construction on a new home.


Amanda's family helped us with many of the last minute details in our celebration of Joe and Lissie's graduation in May (see Multiple Milestones for a Dynamic Duo), so when we arrived we were eager to bless them in a similar way. Tessa helped with the baking, which, of course, is a familiar role from home.


Joe and Speedy, on the other hand, got to try their hand at something new.




We also helped put some of the finishing details on the new house so that it would be ready for the big dinner on Saturday night. 


Each of the three days we were in Texas the thermometer read 108 degrees--a bit overwhelming for those of us from the upper midwest!

By Saturday afternoon, we were ready to celebrate. First, we went to a local dude ranch for an afternoon of English Country Dancing -- Amanda's all-time favorite way to spend time with friends. Amanda was blessed with a large turnout of her friends and their siblings, making the event great fun.

The event's caller, Tiffany, is in the center of the photo below. Tiffany learned the skill in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she and her family have vacationed for several years. 




In addition to traditional English Country Dancing, the groups did some line dancing. In the video below they're learning "Cotton-Eyed Joe." This dance turned out to be the afternoon's favorite, and the dancers requested it two more times before the close of the event.

(You'll want to mute our blog's music on the sidebar before viewing the video.)

video

The day culminated in a dinner in the new home. Although not completely finished as hoped, the house was still a perfect venue for the fellowship of a great meal.

The gathering of family and friends was the "christening" of a home that has been a dream for many years. About five years ago, Amanda's parents sold their home in northern Texas and the ten acres it sat on to buy a larger piece of land. They prayed and waited for the right time to begin construction of a home while living in a small, temporary dwelling that had been a hunting lodge for the previous owner. Even Hurricane Katrina played a role in the timing of their construction, as the price of building materials rose sharply in the south after that historic storm.

Our family was honored to be present for the event that served both to celebrate Amanda's graduation and to acknowledge the Lord's goodness in giving her family a beautiful place to live.


~Mrs. Beaver

Friday, August 13, 2010

Video: Purpose... Real Purpose

What is our purpose in life? How can we find fulfillment in life? Why are we here? If these questions plague you, God has the answer. You will find it wall-to-wall in His Word. And this video provides a head start in your discovery. The answer is really very simple... the answer is not a mystery... but the answer is challenging... the answer is...



~Mr. Beaver

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Delightful Detours

We're on our way to northern Texas to celebrate my niece Amanda's high school graduation (The party is  later in the year because Amanda's family is just finishing construction on a new home).

We made two fun stops as we traveled yesterday. First, we stopped briefly at the home of Samuel, one of the young men who stayed at our home during the CollegePlus! gathering in early July (see CollegePlus! Gathering). Samuel's mother, Brenda, graciously laid out a beautiful spread of fresh fruit, cookies and ice cold drinks.

An added bonus to our stop was getting to meet Samuel's lifelong friend, Andrew, who is also a CollegePlus! student. In the short time we were together,we enjoyed plenty of laughter.




We then stepped onto the porch for a quick group photo.


Our next stop was at the home of the friends who've recently adopted from Rwanda. (See Adoption: Long-Awaited Daughters) It was a delight to turn our "web" friendship into a face-to-face friendship. We relished the chance to meet their new family members so soon after their adoption. Their Rwandan-accented English is precious!


Elizabeth is another CollegePlus! friend. The program's flexibility has allowed her to work on her degree while also being at home as her family has grown through adoption.


Elizabeth's mom, Sarah, had a delicious frozen desert waiting for us...


...which we enjoyed while fellowshipping with the family.








We're grateful to the Lord for our new friends!




Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Peace... Real Peace

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
- Rom 5:1

As usual, Matthew Henry helps us see the power of God's Word far more clearly than I ever could. Regarding the amazing impact of justification by faith he has this to say:

"A blessed change takes place in the sinner's state when he becomes a true believer... being justified by faith he has peace with God. The holy, righteous God cannot be at peace with a sinner, while under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. This is through our Lord Jesus Christ; through him as the great Peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man. The saint's happy state is a state of grace... we could not have got into it of ourselves, but we are led into it, as pardoned offenders."

The amazing blessing of God's grace shed upon us should make us all fall to our knees, trembling with humble thanksgiving. It is only this kind of peace that is real, lasting and meaningful. It is this kind of peace Jesus left with us. Praise be to God!

~Mr. Beaver

Video: Intercessor

A family favorite... "see with your eyes, hear with your ears and understand with your heart and return and be healed..." (Matt 13:15)

(You'll want to pause the music on the sidebar)



~ Mr. Beaver

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Musing: More Than a Leather Accessory, Part II


This week's Monday Musing is yet another encouragement to me to spend considerable time in the Bible each morning:

"God's Word is not a rule book. It is not a list of external religious rituals that we are required to adhere to or memorize. God's Word is a love letter from a Father to His child. It is truth. It is full of  promises, principles, and precepts. It contains God's warnings, His wisdom, and even His wit. It is His divine revelation and the riches of His grace. It reveals both humanity's ruin and God's remedy. It is the story of redemption by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is full of hope and heaven. It declares Jesus to be God's only begotten Son and the one and only way to be forgiven and reconciled with God the Father. Who would dare to deal with it casually or carelessly?"

~Mrs. Beaver

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Courtship: An Early Birthday Gift

During Aaron's visit, he wanted to give Tessa her birthday gift, even though the big day is next month. (For background see I Got Flowers!!) We had a gift opening ceremony his first night in town with plenty of onlookers to "ooohhhhh" and "aaaaahhhhhhh" as she opened the mysterious box.








It was a beautiful aqua marine necklace! Obviously, Tessa was thrilled!

Part of the benefit of courtship is that a gift opening like this can be an innocent 'first' in the lives of those courting, making it a special moment of joy.

~Mr. and Mrs. Beaver

Friday, August 6, 2010

Waiting is Worth It

My friend, Aaron, is visiting for several days. Right now, as I type, he is having lunch with my dad.

These have been days of absolute sweetness. When I take a moment to step back, I realize how much waiting has been worth it. I decided as I entered my teen years that I would not date, turning my love story over to my wise Heavenly Father. It hasn't been easy. Oh, it has been so very hard when there didn't seem to be anyone, nor even a possibility in sight, but I can honestly say that every minute of that heartache was worth it. I would even go so far as to say it has been blotted out and overrun and erased by the absolute joy and bliss of seeing God's plan unfold. Isn't God wonderful? His plans are always so much better than anything we could have planned or hoped for or even dared to dream about! Why can't we be content to wait when He says, "Wait my child, rest in Me, in My arms. Have patience, your turn will come"?
But the waiting for God's will is worth it. Every second of every day.
~ Tessa