Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A "Sad World"

Mrs. Beaver:
Really, the appropriate photo for this post would be of a swollen river inundating people's homes, utterly redirecting their lives.

However, during the eight years we've lived in northwest Iowa, the Missouri River has always been friend--not foe. All our photos of the river show off it's peaceful side, its wide-but-lazy course inviting recreation. We've had countless family picnics on the river's edge in the shade of the Anderson Dance Pavilion, and we've shared this favorite spot with many friends who've come to visit. The photo on the right shows Princess Bink enjoying one of those picnics. Behind her, the grey expanse is the Missouri River. On the other side of the Missouri is one of the city's nicest hotels.

Now, however, record snowfall melting in the Rocky Mountains in far away Montana has completely changed this waterway's influence on our community. As the water begins to exceed its boundaries, the river has become menacing. It is now a formidable foe. The advancing water threatens to swallow an entire suburb in what is being called a 100-year flood.

For the past two days, hundreds of volunteers, including Mr. Beaver and the teens in our family, have helped families pack their entire households in an effort to at least save their belongings. Although the Missouri River has begun to rise, residents in it's path were told by the Corp of Engineers that they had until Thursday to vacate their homes. The home owners have been told that the river level may not return to normal for months.

I've been at home the past couple of days watching our younger children, but my heart has been with those anticipating loss.

Today as I slipped in a few minutes of reading, I was struck by how appropriate the words I read were to the suffering that's just beginning in our community. In The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a Sixteenth Century Catechism, Kevin DeYoung breaks the Heildelberg Catechism into short question-and-answer portions and then comments on them. I hope the selection below may offer some comfort to to any who are suffering, whether due to the inundating force of a swollen river or some other cause:
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothingness created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ His Son. I trust Him so much that I do not doubt He will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and He will turn to good whatever adversity He sends me in this sad world. He is able to do this because He is almighty God; He desires to do this because He is a faithful Father. (pg. 54)
Here is the last paragraph of Pastor DeYoung's comments:
"[God] will turn to good whatever adversity He sends me. The Bible is not naive about suffering. Trusting in God's provision does not mean we expect to float to heaven on flowery beds of ease. This is a 'sad world' we live in, one in which God not only allows trouble but at times sends adversity to us. Trust, therefore, does not mean hoping for the absence of pain but believing in the purpose of pain. After all, if my almighty God is really almighty and my heavenly Father is really fatherly, then I should trust that He can and will do what is good for me in this sad world. Parents, don't you wish your kids had more faith in you and trusted that you knew what was best and were always on their side? I imagine God wants the same kind of faith for all of us." (pg. 57) 

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Finishing Touches

Mrs. Beaver:

Dearest Anna,

I've really missed you today. I've missed your smile. I've missed your laugh. I've missed just hanging out with you on a relaxed Sabbath afternoon.

You were a pleasure to parent. Now you bring me delight as a fun and funny friend who is caring, thoughtful and kind. I thank God every day that your birthmother gave you life. I thank God every day that your precious birthmother chose us to be your parents. I can't imagine what my life would have been like these past 20 years without you.

You are truly a gift, and I've really missed you today.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Planting trees

          Guess what Dad did today? You guessed it; he planted trees (and if you guessed without looking at the post title, you get 10 bonus points).

         Now let me explain the significance of this event. These were no ordinary trees; they were a gift from my parents to my three newest siblings (Daria, Alexander, and Oksana). To us, trees represent permanency and a putting down of roots--no pun intended. God may have built our family in a differently than most, but we firmly believe we are a forever family.

          Each of the three selected their own tree; Daria picked a Red Maple, declaring she loved the color in the fall. Alexander selected a Yellow Apple tree, surprising no one with his desire to have his apples and eat them too. With laughter lines crinkling up his eyes, he asked how soon apples would grow, saying he was hungry. Oksana chose a crabapple, and although we're not sure why, it's a lovely tree.

         The song below reminds me of my parents; in many ways every day they pour themselves into what matters eternally. They intentionally treasure each other and work at keeping their marriage strong. They don't parent from their emotions, but rather patiently guide, correct, and encourage us, keeping their eyes on the fact that they are shaping souls for eternity. Most importantly, they put Christ first in the choices they make as they live their lives. Thank you Dad and Mom, for "planting trees". I love you both so much!

We chose the spot, we dug the hole
We laid the maples in the ground
To have and hold
As autumn falls to winter sleep
We pray that somehow in the spring 
The roots grow deep

And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches 
And bless the dawn

He took a plane to Africa
He gathered up into his arms
An orphan son

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
This tree will spread its branches out and bless the dawn

So sit down and write that letter
sign up and join the fight
Sink into all that matters
Step out into the light
Let go of all that's passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting:
Planting trees

She rises up as morning breaks
She moves among these rooms alone
Before we wake
And her heart is so full: it overflows
She waters us with love and the children grow

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone 

Mrs. Beaver:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Birthday Delight

Mrs. Beaver:

We celebrated Alexander's 12th birthday last Sunday. I'll share more later, but here's just one of many happy photos recording his joy. He was an awe-filled boy, so recently living as an orphan in a Children's Home in Russia, getting his first baseball mit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How Blessed is...

Mrs. Beaver:

"How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 146:5)

A Sparkling Adoption "First"

Mrs. Beaver:

When I included this photo in my last post, it didn't occur to me that this was Alexander and Oksana's (on the right) first experience with sparklers. I'm surprised I missed it! I LOVE former orphan first-evers! I wasn't outside so I'm sure glad Lissie used the family camera to catch the expresssions on the faces of the faces of these 7-year-old and the 11-year-old former orphans. These newbies looked pretty intense!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adventures with the Millers

Mrs. Beaver:

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that on our way home from Ohio, we visited our friends the Millers. When we get the chance to stop by, we always enjoy the fellowship our two families enjoy on their beautiful farm.

I've learned so much about happy hospitality for a LARGE crowd from my friend, Mary. No matter how many children we add to our family, it doesn't seem to phase her. She's a great cook, capable of massive scale!

Fun is always on the menu at the Millers!

After getting the younger children to bed, we played Speed Scrabble. We were tickled when Mary hauled out Webster's 1828 Dictionary to check a spelling and then got distracted reading definitions.

In the morning, Chris and Mary's oldest daughter, Megan, walked over from her nearby home with her children for pancakes.

Chris and Mary are blessed to have six grandchildren already.

Jaynie and Natasha enjoying Megan's oldest two sons as they eat breakfast on the deck.

I wish I'd been more careful to capture a better photo than this of Megan. She's a beautiful young mother who's not only given birth to four children in five years, but she's given of herself as she's stayed home to care for her husband and children full time. She's doing a great job--her little ones are well-behaved, respectful, confident and charming.

One of the reasons we repeatedly leave the Miller's home encouraged is that they have a multigenerational vision for drawing their children and grandchildren into surrender to Christ as their Saviour. That vision is already being lived out by Chris and Mary's adult children, who live to serve the King of Kings whom they love. Now Chris and Mary's children are training the next generation to love God with all their hearts. What a beautiful picture of Psalm 78:1-8:
Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come
the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works
that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children,
That the generation to come might know,
even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.

Megan took most of the children in both families to see the 125 chicks living in her laundry room due to the unusually cool weather. While they were gone, Lissie was SO happy. She got to held Megan's 3-month-old son. Lissie is a baby lover through and through!

We thank God for our friends the Millers! We thank Him for their willingness to open their home and their hearts to our LARGE family. We thank Him for the way they live out the Bible's commandments to be hospitable. We thank the Lord for their kindness and their generosity.

We love you, Miller family!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jaynie's Birthday

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

With all the travel we've done recently, we've yet to post about Jaynie's 18th birthday, which was in early May. This birthday was a real milestone, as she is the first of our older adoptees to reach adulthood. And we are grateful to God for the healing He has done as He has grown her into an adult!

When we first met Jaynie at her orphanage in Zhukovka, Russia, she was just eight years old. We met Jaynie and her siblings, Cassandra and Speedy, on the first of two trips required in the Russian adoption process.
It was a hot, hot, hot day, and, of course, there wasn't any air conditioning...

...which made for some hot, sweaty, sticky people getting to know each other.
Incidentally, heat and lollipops made for an interesting combination with these young children.
In a way, our "bonding" began with their first lick.

But we all seemed to manage to have fun and get to know each other anyway. We shared candy and new shoes with them, looked at books together, colored with them, spent time on the play ground and just generally 'hung out' with this precious 8-year-old and her siblings. 

Jaynie and her younger siblings especially loved their new stuffed animals,
which were gifts picked out for them by Anna, Joe and Lissie before we left home.

In some ways it was just a 'normal' family kind of day. But, upon further reflection, it was anything but a 'normal' kind of day.

For Jaynie and her siblings, this was the first time someone had really cared when they fell on the playground. It was the first time someone had really watched with interest as they performed their daring gymnastic tricks. It was the first time someone had gone crazy over their drawing and coloring. It was the first time they had 'parents' in the sense that God meant for children to have parents. It was anything but 'normal' because it was the day that God started a healing process that only He could orchestrate. Jaynie and her siblings had sustained deep wounds of rejection and hardship that only God could heal... but we were blessed to be used by Him as part of that process.

As for us, God has called us over and over through the past 10 years to trust Him through the journey. And, of course, He has been ever-faithful. Don't get us wrong--the journey has had plenty of challenges. But God HAS woven together sweet, easy times with challenging, turbulent experiences to build us up in Christ, both Jaynie and her parents. 

And the result? Parents who have made many mistakes, but, by God's grace, have learned much from those mistakes. More importantly, an 18-year-old young woman who knows God and is ready and willing to be used by Him for His glory. Like the rest of us, Jaynie would not claim to have become conformed yet to the image of Christ, but reaching forward to what lies ahead she presses on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)
We love you, Jaynie! We're very proud of who you are... and of who Christ is shaping you to be!

Mom and Dad

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Girls and a Kitty

Mrs. Beaver:

On our way home from Aaron and Anna's, we stayed with our friends the Millers. Our youngest girls had a wonderful time with 7-year-old Eva, who was very hospitable. Eva is the younger sister of Therese, one of our wedding photographers.

One Last Time...

Mrs. Beaver:

Before leaving "Skyline country" we indulged in eastern Indiana on our way west. 

This was just the second time our new threesome have eaten at Skyline. Two of them love the spaghetti topped with chili and cheddar cheese. One of them...not so much :-).

Daria ordered a salad. The chocolate and cinnamon in Skyline Chili are just too much for her Russian taste buds, which for 15 years were trained to value heavy doses of garlic and onion rather than strong seasoning in foods.

Our youngest two still need to learn how to eat Skyline neatly. Lord willing, they should have plenty of opportunities since their sister and brother-in-law live in Skyline country.

All of us enjoy the family fellowship of a lunch at Skyline.