Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Reading.... so far!

We have been reading aloud at bedtime regularly again.  That seemed to go by the wayside for a few months there in the midst of all our craziness.

I thought it might be fun to share the list of what we have read.
 Bonus- it will help me keep track....

So far this summer we've read:
Pippi Longstockings by, Astrid Lindgred
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by, Beverly Cleary

We are half way through:
Kisses From Katie by, Katie Davis
Strawberry Girl by, Lois Lenski

Also we are reading an amazing story Bible. The Child's Story Bible by, Catherine F. Voss.
I joke that it is the Original Jesus Storybook Bible, or Kids Gospel Bible... back before it was 'hip'. It is old, published in 1935. And the cover would  normally make me reject it at first Glance.... it's got one of those goofy old fashion pictures of Jesus and Children on it.... But inside it is a gem. The age range in my house makes story Bibles tricky sometimes- older kids have heard it all before but the young ones can't really sit for actual 'straight Bible' well yet. This is an amazing compromise. Written well enough for me to enjoy and truly learn from yet simple enough language that my 3 year old looks forward to it! And all the stories point to the ONE BIG story the whole Bible is telling. The story of redemption, rescue, of JESUS. Anyway, I LOVE this Story Bible!  

Anyway, that is Summer Family Reading at the Okerlund's!

What are you reading?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bragging;) Jed's art contest entry!

Jed~ our 11 year old drew this  amazing picture.
He titled it: Emancipation Celebration.
He drew it for the AFHE Art contest, the theme was Freedom. (Our state's home schooling organization)
It is a former slave family celebrating the news of their freedom.
He was chosen as a finalist.
The final judging hasn't happened yet, but he wins in MY BOOK!

I love that boy and I love his drawing, so I am bragging on my talented son!

When does a Mama become a Mama? or thoughts on grief and loss.....

I write this post tonight with a heavy heart.
I write on behalf of a grieving mama friend.
Grieving loss of a child.
No one can imagine without having been in this place what it would be like.

There are many ways to loose a child.
Each with its own story. ALL SAD.

 When does a mother become a mother? When does she have the rights, privileges, duties, and sorrows of motherhood fully bestowed upon her?

This unfolds differently in the life of every mother.  But once a mother is a mother, there is one thing ALL mothers would rather NEVER face. The loss of that precious one...

There are many ways to loose a child.
Each with its own story. ALL devastating in their own ways.

Mothers who miscarry. AT ANY STAGE OF PREGNANCY. We truly grieve. we ARE mothers.

Mothers who carry a baby to term and then that precious little one dies at birth or shortly after.
we grieve. we are MOTHERS.

Mothers who choose to abort a baby.
Only to find grieve and despair afterwards. For some this grief never heals. We grieve. we too are mothers.

Mothers who with fierce love and bravery begin the process of adoption.
Fully loving that child EXACTLY as we would love any child born of our womb.... but for various reasons the adoption is disrupted. We grieve. yes, even we are mothers.

Mothers who begin the process of raising a child, and for many, many different that child is taken to heaven WAY before that mother had ever imagined they would. We grieve.  WE ARE MOTHERS.

Mothers who loose a child for a season or forever due to choices the child or the mother makes that sever the relationship. We grieve.  All true mothers grieve.

All these mothers suffering unimaginable losses.  All unique. All painful. Some the fault of no one. Some the fault of another, some even the mother herself is to blame.

I ask this question of all of us who have ever been in a situation where we were comforting a mother in any of these places:

When its NOT our own loss are we too quick to diminish, ignore, excuse, dismiss,
or simply not acknowledge another's ?

'You were only a few weeks along.  Don't worry, you will get pregnant again soon.'
 ( Though this seems logical, this is not a kind response for a mama experiencing this type of loss. trust me. been there.)

'You know, she is the reason that teenager of hers is rebelling.... she was too_____.'
 (fill in the blank with the appropriate smug reason here)

'Cancer, SIDS, etc... (fill in the blank here) is caused by ______.'
(fill in this blank with something we all do like: drink tap water, eat food grown in poisonous environments, lack of exercise, you name it... BTW: death is caused by sin, people.  Sin entered the world and with it came death.)
I get that we all talk like we know the cause of things at times, but what if you were in the presence of the mother of a child who died of this very thing.

'That baby was never really yours anyway.  The Lord obviously has OTHER plans for that child.'
or another one:
'You should have waited to attach to your adopted child till that little one was in your arms.  Oh well, you will be wiser next time.'

~Oh Lord, help me to never be too "wise" to love fully.

Notice, all these things are more or less 'true'.  But Just because something is 'true' does that make it kind?
Is it Godly counsel for a grieving person?

When we are grieving, the things people say or don't say seem to have added sticking power in our hearts.  People can profoundly affect the grieving process with words that hurt or words that bring life.  

" A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook." Proverbs 18:4

Before we speak we should ask ourselves: 
~Is this true and in line with Gods Word?
~Is this kind?
~Is this from a heart of love, the way Christ loves this person?
~Am I doing my best to put myself in the shoes of my friend and imagine what she may be feeling     right now?
~Is my friend READY for these words now? Or should this piece of advice wait until my friend is in    a place where she can HEAR my wise counsel?

I by no means have written an exhaustive list of ways mothers can grieve.
If I left your specific grief out of my list I am truly sorry.

 I only write tonight because I know from experience that grieving hearts need love.

I have an adoptive mom friend who is grieving today.
 Pray for her, for her family, for her healing. For her child who is now not to be.... she needs our prayers.

Pray for the other mama's in your life who are grieving now.
Or who suffered a loss in the past you may have overlooked as a non-loss.
Pray for mama's you may have judged.
For mamas you admire.

With your mama heart, pray with fervent love.
The fervent prayers of a righteous women will avail much.... (Christa paraphrase of James 5:16.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

When God Himself is truly enough for me.....

When God Himself is truly enough for me......

1. He is my supply- and my portion.

'And my God will supply every need of yours according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus.' Philippians 4:19

'My flesh and my heart may fail- but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!' Psalm73:26

No earthly supply is preferable to God HIMSELF. If I have zero physical resources and yet have Him I am the richest of all!

2. He is my truest source of joy.

Not him answering my prayers how I want them answered.
Not how I feel at the moment.

But Him. His presence. His grace. He gives himself.

'Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, The Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deers; he makes me tread on MY high places.'
Habakkuk 3:17-19

-Though all my best layed plans fail.
-Though all our labors fail.
-Though the things we attempt in His name, For his glory seem to be lost....

We rejoice in Him reguardless of success or failure.
His perfection is always worthy of our rejoicing.

The high places he puts me upon to tread are for me. They are the unique trials, difficulties, joys and victories he has for me.

3. He is my salvation forever my strength and my refuge. He does cause me to walk in victory whether it appears that way to me or those around me or not.

My victory in Him is totally dependent on Him, not on me.

'He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Psalm 62:6-7

4.He is my victory.

'But thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.'
2nd Corinthians 2:14

5. He is my reward.

No other prize is worthy. He, himself is the ultimate prize.

'I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.'
Philippians 3:14

6. He is my peace.

'For he himself is our peace....' Ephesians 2:14a

7. He is my righteousness.

'For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the rightousness of God.' 2 Corinthians 5:21

8. He is my hope.

'For God alone, o my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.' Psalm 62:5

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” `~John Piper

He is my:

..the list goes on and on.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quote for the Day

'Waiting on God requires 
the willingness
to bear uncertainty,
to carry within oneself
the unanswered question,
lifting oneself to God about it, 
whenever it intrudes upon 
one's thoughts.'
        ~Elizabeth Elliot

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Father's Heart for those who don't even know He exists....

When you love someone (or in our case two someones) as deeply as the Lord has allowed us to love Felix and Betty, The Lord teaches you a few things...

So far here's my musing of  some of the things God has taught us. (so far)

Our whole family loves those kids.  We are so bonded to them in our hearts, we were and still are willing to endure any and every hardship and inconvenience to get them for our own.  If we could, we would give anything and everything for them.  We would spend any money, endure any sickness, give up any and every earthly good.

I would travel to Africa and give birth to this new baby there, as terrifying as that sounds, if it would mean we could adopt those kiddos.

But as of right now, God is saying no or at least wait.

So here we sit.  With all this love and broken hearts.

All this desire to know and be known by them.  To hold them, to tell them we love them. And that we will always be there. But, at least right now, we can't.

All this while they don't even know we exist.

And there it hit me.

This is the heart of the Father.  (Only times about a million) for those children of His who he loves and is literally willing to (And Did in fact give up ALL THINGS for)

All those children of His who DON'T EVEN KNOW HE EXISTS.

See, we have payed some of the costs for this adoption.

But God in Christ payed everything.  He payed it all.  And he payed for EVERYONE.

Would I, by choice, fully pay for the adoption of a child who would NEVER actually be mine?
Just because I loved them so much,and I wanted to by any means I could, to make it possible for them to come into my family? Would I be willing to make the way, just because of my love, with full knowledge they would NOT be mine?

God, In Christ, Did exactly that.

He payed for EVERY person for all time to be brought in to his family.

Fully knowing they wouldn't all come into his family.
 Yes, clearly many would. But not all.
But imagine his heart for the ones who have never heard?
It must be breaking, beyond anything I can imagine.

My heart is breaking for children I have known for a few months, from afar, in pictures and written words.

Imagine the heart of the Father, who designed, made, and knows each one, every tear, every thought, every little bit about every single one. He fully knows them.

See Felix and Betty don't know about us.  I mean, they know their need. They are probably well acquainted with their lack of a mommy and daddy.But they don't have any idea that there is a mommy and daddy somewhere who love them and want them so badly.

So the other morning, I was sitting there pouting about this thought to myself. And as he often does, God spoke to my heart, and said.... 'Christa, There are millions of people who are in this exact place with me.'

Well acquainted with their lack.

But no idea that Jesus loves them.  That he payed the ultimate and costly price for them to know and be known by Him.  To be a part of His family.

an estimated 2 billion people, to be exact.

Romans 10:14
 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

We have to be passionate about the lost.  It can't just be numbers. We have to go. We have to tell them.  We have to send people to go. We have to Give generously to the cause of sharing Christ with the ones who have never heard.  And we have to pray for those who are there. We all HAVE to do something.

Its a lot like adoption. Clearly not everyone is called to adopt. But we are all called, as believers to care, and not just mentally feel sad for, but actually serve practically in some capacity the fatherless and vulnerable children in our world.

It is not enough to be sad about orphans, or about the fact that there are millions who haven't heard the gospel.  We have to move.

What if we had adopted Felix and Betty, fully and legally, and all that lacked was for us to get on the plane and go tell them, to go help them actually experience their adoption?

I can't think of anything more tragic than that.

But God.

Ephesians 2:4-5
 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Go. Send. Pray. We have to.

If we don't, well, I can't think of anything more tragic than that.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Family Photos we took for our dossier.....

 I wanted to share these beautiful photos Abby Breyer took of our family for our Dossier. Even though we can't use them for our dossier now........ 

She did such a good job and we really appreciate it!