Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leading the Home: Quotes from Doug Wilson at Desiring God Conference

Mr. Beaver - Just a quick post to encourage and point my brothers in Christ to some vital truths being shared at the Desiring God conference. I'm not there, but am benefiting from a report by Jonathan Parnell dated January 30, 2012.

I'd encourage everyone to go to the website to see the live streamed presentations or to look at more detailed reports, but I just had to share these few quotes that hit home and my brief thoughts regarding fathers leading in the home:

"Begin with gospel, walk in the gospel, end with the gospel." This is what our parenting should be all about. It's not about shaping our kids to fit our ways... it's about asking God to use us to reach them for Christ and His glory! Our goal in shaping them should be to do whatever we can to help shape them into the image of Christ!

"In the gospel, the fatherless no longer are." God, our Father, is the perfect Father. With respect to our own children, our goal should be to point our children past our own flawed image to the image of our perfect Father in heaven. With respect to the fatherless in this world, our responsibility is to step into their lives and do the same. We don't have to be perfect to point them to the perfect Father, but we do have to make a choice to do so. He is the perfect Father of all His children.

"Masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility...If you want to preach the gospel to your wife and to your children, then die." It all begins with denying self, taking up our cross daily and following Him. Real men don't lead by lording their authority over their families... they lead in sacrificial love... in dying to self.

"When men take up their responsibilities to provide and protect it resonates with their being. When men walk away from their responsibilities, they walk away from their assigned masculine identity...Men don't carry things because they have broad shoulders; they have broad shoulders because they are meant to carry things." God's design for the family is perfect. What a tragic mess we make of it when we look to selfish desires or any other excuse to step aside from our God-given responsibilities as men. The mess we find ourselves in, both in society and sadly in the Church as well, all starts in the home.

Men, let's "man-up", take responsibility and enjoy the blessings of living according to God's plans. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

433 Moms

Mrs. Beaver:

When Mr. Beaver and I launched into adopting our first older Russian child 11 years ago (yes, at first we set our sights on one older child--but the Lord had vastly other--and more wonderful--plans), we knew of NO ONE who was considering adopting for the sake of Christ's name. We were ALONE. We were utterly alone. And we often felt LONELY and MISUNDERSTOOD, even by Christians...even by friends.

How things have changed! This weekend my friend, Heather Nordstrom, and I are surrounded by more than 400 adoptive moms and women waiting-to-adopt at a conference in northern Georgia. These women (and the husbands they represent) share a heart for seeing that the least-of-these are cared for, just as Jesus commanded.

I wish I had some pictures to share of the long registration lines. I could have easily taken photos filled with the bright colors of the t-shirts and jewelry and other items that vendors are selling to raise money for orphan care. I had hours wandering the conference center hallways with this opportunity. However, I didn't take a single picture of those sights.

Instead, I walked around in a awe-filled stupor. I was overwhelmed by the change in the adoption landscape since we began our first Russian adoption just a little more than 11 years ago. I stood amongst the crowds of women and quietly wept over God's goodness in answering our family's many prayers that He would raise up His church to provide homes for at least some small portions of the staggering 147 million orphans globally. He has done just that. Mr. Beaver and I are no longer ALONE.

Interestingly, it hasn't been our peers who have answered God's call. Many, if not most, of the women at this conference were in their twenties or early thirties. I'm old enough to be the mother of many of them! These couples, who've had their hearts moved by God and have said, "Yes!" to His call to "deny self and take up their cross daily and follow him" Luke (9:23), aren't the same generation as Mr. Beaver and me. They're the next generation. Often they already have three or four very young children in tow. Despite the heavy demands on their lives, they are ready to make a difference for orphaned children, to make a difference for Christ. Our prayers of 11 years have been answered; the Father of the Fatherless is on the move!

Since I don't have photos of first-day conference sights, I'll post pictures from a walk Heather and I took this morning on the beautiful lodge grounds. Georgians probably wouldn't have considered the weather balmy, but it sure felt good to two women from the upper mid west.

My friend and fellow-adoptive-mom, Heather

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why Adopt a TEEN?

Mrs. Beaver:

Mark, Samuel, Alexander, Tatiana (hidden) and Daria (left to right)

My title is too big for what I can accomplish tonight. In fact, this title is too big for a post of any length. After 14 months of parenting a teen who most Americans--most Christians--would write off as too damaged, I could write a passionate book on "Why Adopt a Teen?" In my few words here I can only say that our God IS big enough! Our God provides grace freely but only once we trust Him and thrust ourselves into a vulnerability that demands we depend fully on Him. The Lord has amazed Mr. Beaver and I at every turn as we've been blessed beyond measure to parent Daria.

Some day I'll try to tackle "Why Adopt a Teen?" in a more concrete manner, although the subject is so beautiful, so well--magical--so "of God" than I'm not certain there are words equal to the wonder experienced.

For now please read the post of my dear friend and co-adopter, Jamie. Her insight about teens who are seemingly unadoptable carries an profound insight about OUR adoptability by God.

We spent Thanksgiving with Jamie and Marcos and their son of four months, Samuel. Mr. Beaver and I first met Samuel in Moscow two years ago on the trip which allowed us the chance to meet our children-to-be Daria, Alexander and Oksana. All four kids were in the same orphanage in rural Russia.

Above, I've included three favorite pictures from our Thanksgiving vacation in Minnesota. Please follow their sequence carefully to get the full impact of Samuel's act of kindness. To me, the pictures seem prophetic of the role God will grow Samuel into--reaching out and helping others in need.

Our couragous, faith-filled friends on their family's first Thanksgiving together -- Praise God!
And just to think, Samuel could have easily aged out of the system, lost to crime, desperation and possibly even suicide.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Knit, Pray, Love

I was sitting in the car this afternoon, waiting as Alexander and Mark finished up their guitar lessons inside their teacher's little blue house. Since I was working on some school, I paid little attention to the murmur of the radio...until the male DJ started talking about his new hobby: knitting. I had to smile at the thought of Scott of KLOVE taking up the rather delicate craft generally reserved for women.

          However, when he went on to explain why he had, I was all ears. He spoke of the partnership Klove and CURE International had formed, allowing Klove's listeners to knit baby hats and send them to newborns in Afghanistan. As I heard Scott describing the plight of the many needy and oppressed women and children, it rang true with the stories Jaynie had shared with me of her time in Central Asia. I felt a wave of sadness, not just at the many physical trials of the Afghani moms and babies, but also at the fact that they know fear and turmoil, instead of peace and joy. They are imprisoned by the rites and rituals of their culture and religion, instead of being freed and empowered by eternal life in Christ Jesus.

         Nevertheless, I couldn't help getting excited as well, because I knew "I can do that too!" So tomorrow I will begin my first baby hat. And as I work my way through stitch after stitch and row after row, I can pray for the little head that will make use of it. I can pray for the worn and weary mother who will receive the hat for her child. I can pray that they too can come to know the peace and love that can only be found in Jesus.

Anybody want to join me?


CURE Knit Pray Love from CURE Video on Vimeo.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Perfect Birthday Gift

Mrs. Beaver:

Tomorrow I turn fifty. That's right...the big FIVE-O. My gift from Mr. Beaver? Togetherness. Now that one of our children is married and another is living on the other side of the planet, together is the perfect birthday gift.

Jaynie is home for a few weeks. To complete our family unit, my wonderful husband flew in Anna and Aaron from Ohio:

Oksana attentively watched for her oldest sister's arrival. We adopted Oksana just four months before Anna was married last March. Even in that short time a strong bond grew between the two girls.

This was Anna and Jaynie's first time to see each other since Jaynie returned from Central Asia in late December.

Anna and Aaron good-naturedly let me decorate my perfect birthday gift.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Unusual Football Commercial

Mrs. Beaver:

Just saw this commercial on the playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the NewEndgland Patriots. I didn't just "like it", I LOVED it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two Become One: The Ceremony

Mrs. Beaver:

Not long after Anna and Aaron's wedding we shared a number of photos from big day. One post I never got to, however, was the actual ceremony. With Anna and Aaron visiting this weekend, I've been thinking about the two of them a great deal. Thus with a hint of a smile on my face as I relived the joy of their wedding day, this afternoon I gathered these photographs from mulitple files.

Aaron and Anna chose to keep the decorations in the sanctuary simple. White bows decked the pews,

While two bouquets of white roses adorned the alter. The bulletin said this about the roses, "The flowers on the alter are in gratitude to Anna's birthparents for giving her life." Both Anna's birthmother and birthfather were part of the day's festivities, making the day extra special for her. 

After hours of preperation all was ready. The flower girls, bridesmaids and the bride were lined up just outside the sanctuary.

Inside the sanctuary, Anna's 17-year-old sister, Jaynie, played one of Anna's favorite classical pieces, "Carnival of the Animals: The Swan."

The mothers lit the Unity Candle.

Pastor Dave Sowers, the groom and his groomsmen marched to their places to await the arrival of the bridesmaids and bride.

Lissie, the maid-of-honor, was the last in the bridesmaids' processional.

I swung around eager to catch a glimpse Anna.

Sheepishly I realized I'd forgotten about the flower girls--my own daughters! Anna's youngest three sisters delightedly filled the role.

Oksana (left, age 6) and Cassandra (age 10) came down the aisle used by the bridal party to enter, while Amy (age 8) decorated the aisle which the newly married couple would use to exit the sanctuary.

Once the petals were strewn, the bride stepped into the sanctuary on her daddy's arm.
(You can just make them out in the background of this beautiful photo.)
As I peeked around friends and family from my front row seat, I saw:

The impatient groom waited patiently as Anna and I embraced one final time.

Then the bride's father presented Anna Mackenzie to her groom...

...as Arianna, Elizabeth, Emily and Lissie (l-r) watched .

As Aaron and Anna met, Pastor Dave Sowers waited in the background. He has been our family's pastor for nine years and is a dear family friend. His daughter, Emily (also newly married), was one of Anna's bridesmaids.

Aaron and Anna met at the alter before God and those in attendance who would witness as they...

...vowed before the Lord to put the needs of the other first. To fight selfishness....To lay down their own agenda...To live to serve the other...To learn to love out-serving the other.

They would vow to cling to the Lord--together...To seek the Lord--together...To abide in the Lord--together.

They would acknowledge before God and man their inability to live up to these vows without the Lord's help--minute-by-minute, each day for the rest of their lives.

Anna's brother, John, and her sister, Daria, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. John read each verse in English. Then Daria, adopted from Russia just four months earlier, read the same verse in Russian.

John returned to his place as best man. (Daria is in the background on the right.)

We sang, "There is a Fountain" and "And Can It Be" as Aaron's sister, Amber, played the piano.

At one point I let my thoughts wander as we sang. I was wondering how often a bride and groom are flanked by twins serving as their maid-of-honor and best man.

After we sang, Anna's friend and mentor, Tanya, read Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.

Aaron's friend, Pete, then shared Colossians 3:12-16.

This was followed by Pastor Dave's message on Joshua's famous words to the Israelites, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," (Joshua 24:15), a passage Aaron and Anna had picked during premarital counseling.

When he finished, the two exchanged vows.

Followed by the exchange of the rings.

After vowing fidelity to one another until death parts them, Aaron prayed over their union for the first time in his role as husband and spiriutal leader. We all watched on as the rest of the world faded away for the two of them...

After Aaron's prayer, the parents surrounded the couple while both dads prayed for their marriage.

All that was left was the kiss...

which went on...

...and on...

...and on...

Until, finally, Pastor Dave good naturedly urged Aaron and Anna from his position behind them to remember those in attendance and finish the ceremony.

Really, though, who could blame the two of them for lingering?

They had waited. They had waited through the months in which they were getting to know one another. They had waited through their courtship. They had waited through their engagement. They had waited to share that first kiss until they were husband and wife. And the reward was sweet!

As a mom, I cheered the two of them on. All four parents had urged Aaron and Anna to wait for a physical relationship until their wedding day. How sweet it was to be able to celebrate that with God's enabling power, they had stood firm against the wiles of our culture and saved the best for once they were "one flesh." (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31)!

Once they'd finished the kiss, Pastor Dave introduced Mr. & Mrs. Aaron Nix.

Anna retrieved her bouquet from Lissie and...

...the newly married couple departed. Well, temporarily.

They returned to hug friends and family, starting with us.

We then made our departure, filled to the brim with joy. Our first child had just left the nest. While knew we'd miss her terribly, we also knew she was just where God wanted her.