Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We love you, Treston!

This past week our #15 grandchild, Treston, celebrated his first year birthday. I worked on a short video project for his party and as my husband and I (aka Nana and Pop-Pop) were watching the final product we both found ourselves near tears because of the immense love we feel for this little guy.
Treston came into our family through New Life and we are still waiting for his adoption to be completed. But, the moment he came to us we all loved him instantly. Our love is in no way diminished because he was not "birthed" into our family, but in some ways our love for him is very strong because we can so clearly see the hand of God as He placed Treston in Jenn and Rusty's home - his forever family.
Adoption is just one way that God builds families. We see evidences of adoption in the scripture and in those instances it is a beautiful picture of God's sovereignty and His plan for each of us. It just seems more evident when you watch a family grow through adoption.
I have worked in adoption for 18 1/2 years - I am an adoptive mom and a Nana to two adopted granchildren. Often I have birthmoms and adoptive families ask "Is it hard to love someone else's child?". The answer is this - No! Though not flesh of our flesh - Treston has been grafted by God's hand into a family that will love him, encourage him, be an example of godliness and cheer him on to become exactly what God has already planned for him.
We love you, Treston!

Beautiful Feet

I know that I am going to reveal a bit of a strange side of me - but I love feet! I love to take pictures of feet. What is cuter than these two sets of chubby baby feet (they belong to my grandkids)? I love snuggling on the sofa and wrapping my feet around whoever's feet are available. I cannot comprehed the foot phobia thing. I think feet are beautiful!

Unless we have a foot problem we rarely think about the importance of feet. We move on, walking, running - barefoot or flip-flops - without a foot care. Wasn't God creative when he gave us feet with toes to give us the ability to walk and to balance.

Recently I began to experience foot pain and learned that I have a neuroma. I have tried several things to take care of this problem and now after exhausting all my option I will have surgery Wednesday morning to remove it.
I love how the surgeon and his nurse are constantly telling me "it's no big deal" - "it's just a minor surgery" - and so on.
So, whether it's no big deal or not, please pray for my foot and my patience. I have so enjoyed the ability to move around since my healing after knee replacement surgery that I can't imagine being down again.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flowers in your hair and rings on your fingers

Jess and I are doing a study of Proverbs this summer and I am struck again by the richness of this book. Did you know that when God said He would give Solomon whatever he wanted, Solomon asked for a discerning heart? It’s pretty scary to think of what we might ask for if God gave us that choice.

In working with teenagers and their families for more than 18 years, I find that a missing element in their lives is discernment – common sense – good judgment.
How do children learn these things? As a parent we have been given an incredible responsibility of teaching our children the source of wisdom – the meaning of discernment – the importance of the truth. Have you asked God for a discerning heart?

When you read the first chapter of Proverbs it quickly becomes clear that living a godly life is not rocket science. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” It’s simple – just respect, reverence, be in awe of, honor who God is and obey His Word.

The Message says in Proverbs 1:7
“Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.”

I have read verse 8 many times and thought of my own parents instructions but re-read that verse and think of what it means to you as a parent. Are you giving your children instruction that is pleasing to the Lord – something that they will hold to for a lifetime?

1:8 My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
What will they remember about your instruction? Do you feel the responsibility as a parent to be constantly in the Word – attempting to discern God’s direction for you? Do you know the Word well enough that you can easily teach your child TRUTH– not situational ethics – not “if it feels right do it” or “every man for himself” – but God’s TRUTH. You have to know it to teach it.
And then there is a promise –
9 Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
like rings on your fingers. (The Message)

We must be teachers and we must be teachable. If we do this, the rewards will come back to us in the form of children who love the Lord and seek to follow Him with all their hearts- like flowers in your hair and rings on your fingers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Temperaments: Part 3 - My Very Own Phlegmatic

My husband, the Phlegmatic - He is the opposite of me! (duh!) I wish that I had understood him better in the earliest years of our marriage. I feel that I would have been more encouraging and appreciative.

Ed is easy-going, calm (even when he is excited on the inside), peace-loving, good under pressure (except when one of our kids had an accident that involved blood) and happily reconciled to life. You might say - who wouldn't want to be married to this guy - Exactly! But, in the early years of our marriage I didn't understand that his lack of enthusiasm didn't mean that he wasn't excited. I wanted him to jump up and down and go crazy sometimes. But he just couldn't. I had a picture that perfectly portrayed this. We had just come home from the hospital with our newborn daughter, Jennifer. We had 2 boys (Chris and Brian) and we were so excited to have a girl. When we arrived home I took a picture of Ed holding Jenn with the boys on each side of him. His face was completely "expressionless". I wanted it to reflect the excitement we were feeling. He has said to me through the years – “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean I’m not excited.”

Florence Litauer, in her book, Personality Plus, says that Phlegmatics are the closet thing to being a balanced person: one who does not function in the extremes or excesses of life, but walks solidly down the middle road, avoiding conflict on either side. He does not often offend or call attention to himself (you won’t see his picture on the church billboard) and he quickly does what is expected of him without looking for credit. Phlegmatics also often have great administrative skills.

The really cool thing is that these very traits are what makes him a great pastor. He exemplifies the passage that says “When at all possible, live in peace with one another.” He can diffuse conflict and can be a great listener. He can show compassion to those who are hurting and bring words of peace to a marriage in trouble.

My very own phlegmatic brings calm to my craziness. He reassures me when I can’t achieve the perfection I was striving for. He brings order to my over-committed lifestyle. He loves me and protects me. He is generous and selfless. He is always looking out for my best interest or the best interest of his children and grandchildren. This family would not be what it is without the deep love and the peaceful balance that he brings.

Everyone should have a phlegmatic of their very own!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Celebrate Life

Every day we have reason to be thankful for life but this past Saturday (July 14) is my personal anniversary to thank God for His gift of life.
On Wednesday, July 14, 1993, my daughter, Jennifer was admitted to Hermann Hospital to have brain surgery to remove a tumor from her pituitary gland. Jenn had had a long journey with many doctors, lab tests and MRI's before finally learning that there was a tumor in her head that was causing some of her problems. When we were given the diagnosis, we were told that some people chose not to have the surgery. When we told Jenn of the diagnosis she immediately said "I just want them to get it out of my head" We researched the surgery and God gave us a great surgeon. Jenn was convinced that it was the right thing to do. She was 18 - had just graduated from high school and she was the one that had to make the decision.
We arrived that morning feeling "prayed up" and ready to go. We have had many experiences with illness, surgeries and accidents with my children, but I was not totally prepared for this one. The idea that someone would cut into my daughter's brain was more than I could take. Being a nurse I knew exactly what they were going to do (I will spare you the details). When they took Jenn to the holding area they told me that because she was 18 she was not allowed to have a parent wait with her. I kissed her and walked away bravely so as not to upset her. I kept walking - bypassing the waiting room full of friends and family who had come to support us - and eventually ran to the bathroom where I fell apart. I found myself in a bathroom stall bargaining with God. I wrestled with God until I realized that what He really wanted me to do was to give Him my daughter and then trust Him. When I did that a peace that "passes all understanding" washed over me.
God was with her during the surgery - HE gave skills to the surgeon and brought healing to her body with great speed. We give Him glory for all of that. But on that day, 14 years ago, I gave my daughter to Him and with much gratitude to the Lord we can celebrate her life and ministry because of who HE is.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Temperaments - Part 2

The four temperaments were originally proposed by Hippocrates (the "father of medical science") 350 years before the birth of Christ, to explain differences in personalities, based on the predominant bodily fluid—hence the rather unappealing names: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic. Even today these same terms are used to describe temperament, by which we mean an individual's tendency to react in a certain way throughout their life, forming an identifiable pattern.

For example...
The choleric tends to react quickly and intensely, and to take action immediately and decisively- believing that he is always right.
The sanguine is your classic "people person," known for their warmth, enthusiasm, and cheerful optimism.
The melancholy is deeply thoughtful and analytic, slow to respond, skeptical, sensitive, somewhat idealistic and usually creative.
The phlegmatic is usually a "peace-maker"—slow to react, calm, cooperative, and reserved.

In the late 70’s (why do I feel the need to date myself like that) I read Tim Lahaye’s book "Spirit Controlled Temperament" and it clarified for me why I was so intense and so different from my husband. As a melancholy, details meant everything to me and since it meant so little to Ed, who is phlegmatic, I assumed that I was right and he was wrong. Of course, my goal was to change him. We both began to look at temperaments and discovered that we are pretty much opposites and that we could be very different and both be right. This was more important for me to learn than him. It was huge for us to finally understand HOW we were different – what made us react to life the way we did and then how we could work together to blend these two very different temperaments into a successful marriage. This may sound trivial to some, but for us it freed us both to be ourselves and allowed us to enjoy the process of understanding each other and appreciate who God made us to be.

One of the dangers of studying temperaments is allowing ourselves to make excuses for who we are - the “God made me this way so get used to it” mentality. For instance, I’m a melancholy – I need a plan – I need order- so of course I’m right and everyone else needs to follow suit mentality. The main purpose of identifying your temperament is to help clarify your strengths and your weaknesses- thank God for making you just the way you are and then allow Him to use your strengths in serving Him and obviously, through the Holy Spirit in our lives to minimize the weaknesses. It cannot be an excuse to justify our sin!

If learning about your temperament has helped you "get" yourself - has contributed to improving your relationship with your husband or has allowed you to see your chid's God-given bent, would you share that with us?

I'll be back soon with more on each specific temperament type.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rainbows on my way to church

This morning as I was driving to church I turned a corner and had an unexpected surprise. There in the sky was the most beautiful rainbow. The colors were almost fluorescent. Because I always have my camera in my purse, I pulled over, got out of my car and took pictures. A little farther down the road I looked up to find a double rainbow. It was such an sweet blessing this morning and it started my worship early. I can't see a rainbow without remembering that it is a picture of God's covenant with us - a promise that He will always keep His word. (See Gen. 9:12-17)
We don't often get to see rainbows in the sky but we can find joy in the reminders all around us of God's faithfulness.