Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Diary of a Maine Sunset


"I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord..." Isaiah 63:7a

Jim and I continue to relish our week-long celebration of God's goodness in granting us 30 years together. Tonight the Lord gave us the sweetest gift tonight ~ a spectacular sunset.

Just as we finished dinner, we realized that something very special was about to take place to the west. We left the dishes as they were and dashed to the property's dock. We sat hand-in-hand on the dock in the slight chill of a late September evening, watching as the heavens declared the glory of God.

Once the sun dropped below the horizon, the sky was painted every shade of orange.

Until at last the evening purple of the Atlantic stood in stark contrast to the rich curtain of color adorning the heavens.

As darkness began to replace the unrivaled fireworks we'd been privileged to witness. We readied ourselves to climb the staircase to our temporary home.

When we reached the top, we stole a final glimpse of a sunset neither of us will soon forget.

Thank You, Lord.

"I  shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord,
the praises of the Lord,
According to all that the Lord has granted us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has granted them according to His compassion
And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses."
Isaiah 63:7

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Most Important Meeting of Your Life


Denise and I are in Maine celebrating God's goodness in giving us three decades together!
While we are here, we are immersing ourselves in God's word as well as a variety of other books, including a powerful book about marriage called You and Me Forever – Marriage in Light of Eternity, by Francis & Lisa Chan. We have just cracked it open and are already excited to see how God will grow our love of Him and our love for each other as we read together.
Even though we’ve just started the book, I feel compelled to share something important that Francis shares right up front… and it applies to far more than just marriage. Specifically, Pastor Chan reminds us vividly that our relationship with God and our eternal destiny is the only foundation on which to build a healthy marriage (or a healthy life, in general). He says,
“FEAR GOD. I’m guessing those are two words you didn’t expect to read in a marriage book. But nothing could be more foundational for marriage. Without a healthy fear of God, we will not fully enjoy life and love. Without it, our priorities will be completely off. Yet if a healthy fear of God is at the foundation of who we are, a beautiful life and marriage can be built upon this.”
He goes on to say that most people underestimate how terrifying it will be to see God. And yet, the examples we find of people in Scripture who have had the experience should get our attention:
  • Job came face-to-face with God after complaining about how God had been treating him and said: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” ~ Job 42:5-6
  • Isaiah saw the Lord in His throne room in a vision and was sure he was doomed because of his unworthiness:  “And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’" ~ Isaiah 6:4-5
  • John encountered the risen Christ in a vision and said: “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.’” ~ Rev 1:17-18
  • And Jesus said: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” ~ Matt 10:28
Pastor Chan goes on to encourage us to frequently contemplate meeting God face-to-face, consciously preparing for the day that will matter for all eternity!
“Oddly, I meet very few people who think about that moment. Is it because we don’t really believe it’s going to happen? We think about upcoming vacations and imagine how much fun we will have. We think about upcoming trials and worry about how difficult they will be. Why don’t we think about seeing God for the first time? I try to think about it often because it keeps me centered.”
Further, he insists that we must lift our eyes off of self and stare at God. We must stop focusing on our transient life on earth and contemplate what our eternity will be like. He rightly points out:
“If we don’t stare at God, we’ll spend our time staring at lesser things. Namely, ourselves. When we focus on ourselves, we naturally begin to structure every aspect of our lives around the few years we have here on earth, rather than the millions of years we will spend in His presence… or out of His presence. We live as if we are not dying. We live as though the King is not returning!”
But He is returning! And Scripture is clear that His return should inspire awe and reverence in His children, not to mention abject fear in His enemies. Notice that both Old and New Testament passages convey the same terrifying image of God's judgment:
“The pride of man will be humbled and the loftiness of men will be abased; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, but the idols will completely vanish. Men will go into caves of the rocks and into holes of the ground before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty, when He arises to make the earth tremble. In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, in order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty, when He arises to make the earth tremble. Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” ~ Is 2:17-22
“Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” ~ Rev 6:15-17
In closing, I need to admit that Pastor Chan’s admonitions hit too close to home. I spend entirely too much time chasing counterfeits like wealth, pleasure, respect and esteem of others instead of intimacy with Him. I need to lift my eyes to heaven and stare at God. I need to spend time and energy contemplating life from the perspective of eternity. I need to proactively prepare to meet my Maker. I want the most important meeting of my life to be filled with awe, reverence and blessing... not terror.
How do you want that meeting to go for you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

An Anniversary Adventure


Jim and I are thrilled to be in Maine celebrating our 30th anniversary. Today we visited the jewel-like seaside town of Camden. The sailboats were stunning. Here's a sample of what we were blessed to see:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Next Time...

Last weekend we got to see Alison, our second oldest daughter, at 36 weeks pregnant.

The next time Alison and her daddy see each other, she will be a mother.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Anna!

Before I post any photos, I want to share the thought that runs through my mind over and over this time of year. I thank God for our Anna's birthmother. When she found herself pregnant, she was a young, vulnerable woman. She lived in a culture screaming at her to abort the "inconvenience." Instead of doing that, she had the courage and selflessness to choose to give up much in order to give the child she was carrying life. Thank you, dear woman, for giving us the chance to parent your beautiful and precious baby. There are no words that could ever express our gratitude. You are a hero to us! We love you!


Twenty-four years ago today a daughter was born to a single girl several states away from us. In an act of great love, that young, hurting mother placed her child in our arms and made the baby girl our baby girl. That child has brought us unspeakable joy.

Anna has now been married for 3-1/2 years and lives several states away from us. I visit her and her family as often as possible ~ not just to see our grandchildren ~ but also to see Anna. She is one of my dearest friends!

Not long before I visited Anna this summer, I had done a maternity photo shoot of her sister, Alison. The two of us had a blast! As Alison and I were laughing together during her shoot, I knew that I wanted to share similar fun with Anna by doing a shoot with her on my next visit.

As I contemplated the idea I came upon the perfect inspiration, a stunning post by Sarah Bradshaw of Sarah Bradshaw Photography. After seeing the artwork of this Washington D.C. photographer, I was on a hunt for the right tools, so to speak, to attempt to capture something somewhat similar. I stumbled upon a lace dress at a vintage store in Lawrence, Kansas and felt like I'd found treasure. I called Anna from the shop to see if she was willing to don "play clothes" again like she did as a little girl, and she said she was game.

On Anna's birthday, I want to share these photos with the world and proclaim how good our God is. He took a severely infertile couple and made us parents through her adoption. Happy birthday, my beloved daughter!

Here is the story of our shoot:

While Anna's sister, Christina, babysat Anna's little girls, we left the house just after sunrise. We started our photography adventure at the grocery store. There we purchased a bouquet of flowers. I knew I just had to incorporate flowers. Anyone who knows Anna well knows that she adores them. We then went to a local park for our first attempt at a mother-daughter photo shoot.

After we'd played around a bit with our first "prop", the flowers, we moved on to a second one ~ a deep purple silk scarf that I had picked up at the same vintage shop where I found Anna's black dress for this shoot.

Anna immediately wrapped the beautiful fabric around herself. As she did, I couldn't help noticing how the early morning light played up her rich brown eyes.

I then asked Anna to play with the scarf in the light breeze.

As the light, luscious fabric wafted in the wind, Anna was inspired to pull it in front of her face like a veil.

We were both tickled with the result.

We then moved to another part of the park which has a stone arch. 

Next I moved my daughter to a short stone wall. We pulled one flower out of the bouquet for the last few photos. The gerber daisy is Anna's favorite type of flower.

Our mother-daughter photo shoot was a great success in my mind. Anna and I laughed together and enjoyed every minute of our special morning.

I'll finish this post with a close-up of Anna Mackenzie that makes this mother's heart sing.

Happy 24th, my beloved Anna! You are a gift from God!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Every Good Thing Comes from Above ~ Family Reunion!

Much missed and sadly missing from this photo is our beloved daughter, Kirsten (19), who was unable to get away from her internship
(from the left) The Nix family ~ Our oldest daughter, Anna, with husband, Aaron, and daughters, Brielle (2) and Evelyn (1); Denise and Jim; John (22), Sarah (20); Nathaniel (15), Christina (16), Faith (14), Hope (12), Zhenya (21) Eliana (10), Matthew (19); and the Moores family ~ Alison, Eric and Baby Boy