Monday, February 21, 2011

The Misterslippi River Race

The Widder Magnolia, Big Toe, and that little orphan boy (for some reason I cannot remember his name!) who was a slave to the sly snake Moccasin and the Captain.  Remember this story from Patch the Pirate?
I do, it is one of my earliest memories of a child needing a family and Widder Magnolia (who realizes she is not a widow after all when Big Toe comes to his senses and they are reunited) and her husband Big Toe adopt him into their family.  And the bigger rejoicing is when this boy accepts Christ's gift of salvation and is adopted into the family of God!

Last August Chad and I began to talk about our desire to adopt.  We have always made the statement "That would be neat to do one day" but had never talked about it beyond that.  Once again, the talk in August did not seem to last and we continued on with our lives and this journey we were experiencing.  Looking back, I can see that the timing then was not good. God was still working on us as we walked the road He had for us at that time.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you."

Then in December we were thrilled to find out we were expecting another baby, but after only 6 weeks I miscarried and our dreams were again shattered.  It was then that we knew adopting was what we wanted to do, and more importantly where we felt the Lord was leading us.  We talked, read, and googled trying to find out more.  Finally we landed with a small adoption agency here in Murfreesboro and scheduled a consult.

And now, one month later, I can tell you again that we are expecting!

In another week or two we should receive our official word in writing that we are approved for adoption, and at that point we will begin the waiting.  We are excited about this opportunity of a lifetime and cannot wait to see how this process unfolds.  We will always miss Audrey, she is a part of who we are and nothing or nobody could ever replace that beautiful little girl.  It is because of her that we have chosen to walk this amazing road.  I know that my daughter is safe in the arms of Jesus and there will never be a day that I have to worry about her or her eternal future.  At the same time I have a heart overflowing with love for a little girl but she is not here to receive it. (Ella gets it all!!!)  We cannot take money or possessions with us when we leave this earth, but we very possibly could "take" another child with us if we are able to raise them to understand Jesus and the price He paid for us so we can live with Him forever.  Audrey is already there, and another child is here who needs love, a family, and Christ.

And one day soon that child will be in our arms.

We covet your prayers now and for the days to follow as we embark on this new and exciting journey called adoption.  We also do not know how this is going to work financially, but we know God is able to do more than we can ask or think.  So we are going to work like we have to make every penny, while we trust that only He can provide the needed finances.

We designed T-shirts, are doing a spirit night at Chick-Fil-A on Thursday, May 5, 2011, and are planning several events for Saturday, May 7, 2011.  Please see our adoption website for more information about all those events.

One more thing, THIS is why I am so excited about the piano students the Lord has brought my way. :)

Praising Him,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Piano Story

I have played the piano for 26 years, and took lessons for 14 years.  I would say I was at my peak during my senior year in high school and into my first two years of college. Unfortunately, after that time I neglected to keep up my practicing and over the last few years I can tell I have lost some of my ability.  I am a nervous wreck when I play at church and it is only by the Lord's help that I have been able to deliver the message of Christ through my music.  I do not get too upset if I make a mistake, but it is frustrating if I completely lose my concentration and the focus is immediately take to that rather than what the song is conveying.  

The last time I played at church I had chosen a more difficult piece and I remember wondering if I was going to get through it smoothly.  I had practiced for several weeks and had played it well at home, but it is always a different story when you play it during a service.  Not to mention my piano at home was very out of tune and had a much different feel than the piano at church.  I remember doing my best to concentrate on my music and asking the Lord to let Him be blessed through my playing, and prior to the offertory we sang the song that says, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus."  I focused on those words and determined to express the meaning of "Precious Lord, take my hand & Till the Storm Passes Over" in the medley I was about to play.  I picked this song because I felt that was exactly what He has done for me over the past month as well as the past year, and I know that no matter what storm comes into my life, I can continue to praise Him until it passes over or until I am in heaven.  Somehow I got through the piece (not without a couple missed notes of course) and was able to put the feeling into it, and I remember at one point knowing that I was not at all in control of what I was playing.  Yes, it was my fingers and my practice, but He was demonstrating His glory through me playing that song. 

In order to get myself back into practicing and playing more, I considered whether or not to start teaching piano lessons again.  I put together a website and considered many ways to approach it, and just waited and prayed that God would give me wisdom to know whether or not to go ahead with it right now.  It took a couple weeks to be sure that it was what I felt the Lord was leading me to do.  We had some other reasons this would be helpful to us, but I still did not want to jump into something I was not going to stick with for a long time.  Finally, I decided to do it and  I advertised and prepared.  Within a week I had 6 students confirmed and about 5 others still considering.  I was glad for the confirmation that my decision was a good one.

During all this, I also decided to start looking at craigslist for a piano to replace the one I had been using over the past 5 years.  It was not terrible, but needed some work and tuning done and that alone would have cost quite a bit.  I had been saving for quite some time and had a set amount to work with as well as an idea in my head of what I wanted.  And when I get in my head what I want, I will not settle until I find it.  

I found one piano after another that looked great in the picture and was within or close to my price range.  However, looking at the piano in person often revealed why it was priced so low.  Or if it was in great shape and exactly what I had in mind it was so far out of my price range that I just could not do it.  But I kept looking, and it consumed me for several days.  I would spend all day researching and looking at all the different ones that people were trying to sell.  Finally, I saw one clear up on the north end of Nashville on a Monday morning.  It looked fantastic and they stated that it was like new.  I made arrangements to go look at it, even transferring my money so I could pay them if I decided to buy it.  I also had called a piano mover and he was able to be there that afternoon to pick it up!  The puzzle was fitting together perfectly, just missing the biggest piece right in the middle - would this piano be as great when I saw it in person?  I was confident I had found what I was looking for.

We arrived at the house, and for some reason people who have dogs think that everyone should love dogs.  We were standing there with two little dogs barking at us and I got the impression we were expected to play with the dogs for 20 minutes before going to see the piano.  AHHHHH!
Finally she took us to look at the piano, and after taking one look I was slightly disappointed.  I had not expected it to be so small!  It played beautifully and was in excellent shape, but for the money they were asking (which would have completely wiped out what I had saved) I just didn't know if it was what I wanted.  I made an offer, although very low, and she said she could not come down that much.  After several minutes trying to decide what to do I left without buying it.  I just didn't think I could put that kind of money into something I was not completely sure about.  After all, I had in my mind what I wanted and after taking one look I knew this was not it.  

I returned home, very disappointed but glad for the decision I had made.  I decided the piano search (to the magnitude I was making it) needed to stop.  I was taking way too much time working on this just to find out I was using a lot of gas to go look at pianos that were not worth the money, especially after considering the additional price to pay someone to bring it to my house and have it tuned.  I decided to get in touch with a piano tuner and get mine fixed up enough to use until I could save enough to buy something I would be completely happy with.  

By the next day my disappointment was gone and I received an email from the lady saying she would take my offer on the piano.  But I had already decided I did not even want to spend that much on a piano I was not sure I wanted. 

The next morning (two days later) I was getting my Publix list ready and I quickly checked craigslist to see if anything new had been posted.  I was not going to search day and night, but I thought I would keep checking because some of the best deals go quickly.

I saw an advertisement for a baby grand piano in excellent shape and it was just 9 miles from my house!  I contacted them, all the while doing my best to not get my hopes up.  I had learned my lesson so I decided to go look but prepared myself that it might have more problems than the investment is worth.  Around noon I followed the directions onto the Bill Rice Ranch to the house where they were selling this piano. Bill Rice Ranch is a camp ministry right outside of Murfreesboro who ministers to kids as well as the deaf, and we share the same faith.  

I met the young family who had two little daughters and a small house, they just needed the room that this piano took so they were selling it.  I looked at the piano, very impressed with what I saw at first glance, and played it.  I checked every key, every string, and asked about any damage.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  It looked great, sounded great (to be honest there are just some pianos out there that don't sound good!), and was less than my maximum price!  We came to an agreement, and two hours later I was there with a piano mover and technician.  He made sure there was no major damage to it, then it was loaded on the truck and on the way to my house.  

I was so pleased to see how God would work if I just took time to relax and let Him.  And this was not a necessity, I had decided to keep what I already had and yet He still provided something I wanted.  Looking back, I could see why I had not yet found the piano God had for me, he wanted me to provide a blessing for this family while they were doing the same for me.  I am so glad i did not make a decision sooner because now I know it would not have been the right decision. 

And just wait until you hear more of why this was so exciting to me!  


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Prayer ...

First of all, let me apologize for the wording of my question to begin with.  Asking "Does prayer change God's mind?" would be similar to asking "Can God create a rock big enough for Him to move?"
It really isn't a question that can be answerd, or one that even deserves and answer.

I did some studying yesterday afternoon.  One thing I have learned over the years is if I try to figure out an answer to a Biblical question on my own is usually frustrating and not very profitable.  I do not always interpret scripture correctly when I read it myself, so I consult some scholars who have spent their lifetime studying the Word of God and writing commentaries.  The following is some of what I gathered from Wiersbe, MacArthur, and The Bible Knowledge Commentaries.  

James 5:16 "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
(From the BKC "Pray for one another that you may be healed")
  • This is a way to combat discouragement and downfall
  • Healing is not referring to bodily healing but healing of the soul

(Wiersbe on James 5:13-16)
  • In Times of affliction we are not to grumble or criticize saints who seem to be having an easier time, but we are to ask God for the wisdom we need to understand the situation and use it for His glory.
  • Prayer can remove affliction, if that is God's Will.  But prayer can also give us the grace we need to endure troubles and use them to accomplish God's perfect will.
  • "the prayer of faith" that heals the sick 1 John 5:14-15
    • It is a prayer offered when you know the will of God.  
    • Elders would seek the mind of God in the matter then pray according to His will.  We do not always know God's will in a matter, for example when someone is sick.  So all we can pray is "If it is your will heal Your child."
1 John 5:14 "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
  • In this verse it is assumed that those things we are asking for are according to His will.  This phrase constitutes a strategic key to answered prayer.  To pray according to God's will is to pray in accord with what He would want, not what we would desire or insist that He do for us.
  • He always hears the prayers of His children but not always in the manner they were presented.
  • "Confidence" in this verse is the same confidence we have in the judgment meaning "freedom of speech."  We can come to Him freely and tell Him our needs.
  • There are conditions to answered prayer
    • A heart that does not condemn us
    • We must pray according to God's will.  Robert Law said, "Prayer is not for getting man's will done in heaven, it is for getting God's will done on earth."
    • George Mueller who fed thousands orphans with food provided in answer to prayer, said "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance.  It is laying hold of God's willingness."
  • Often all we can pray is "Not my will but thine be done.
"But if it is God's will for me to have something then why should I pray about it?"

  • Prayer maintains that close walk with Him to meet my needs.  (We are acknowledging our dependence on Him.)
  • We pray because God has commanded us to pray and because prayer is the God-appointed means for a believer to receive what God wants to give Him.  Prayer keeps a Christian in the will of God, and living in the will of God keeps a Christian in the place of blessing and service.
  • The most important thing about prayer is the will of God.  


So what I came up with in my own words from this, (and I plan to do even more digging into my Bible and various commentaries) is that we cannot answer a question about changing God's mind.  He WAS, He IS, and He IS TO COME, and His thinking is the very same in the beginning of time as it is today, and as it will be for eternity.

I think the better question is "Does prayer change things?" or "Does prayer change ME?"
  • Yes, if we know His will we can pray specifically for it and expect it to come to pass.
    • We know it is God's will to supply our needs, so we can pray that knowing that He will do it.
  • We also know that sin will hinder our prayers.  Sin in our own lives as well as others.
  • If we do not know God's will in a matter then all we can pray is that His will be done.
  • God wants us to pray so that we come to Him for our needs and desires.  It is how He reveals His will to us, so He can change our thinking so that it will be in line with His will.
Oswald Chambers in "My Utmost for His Highest" said on February 7, "Whenever we insist that God should give us an answer to prayer we are off track.  The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer."


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Purpose of Prayer

Why do you pray?

As believers, why should we pray?

This has been on my mind a lot over the past year, at this time last year we were praying that our child would be healthy.  We made our requests known to God and let Him know what we wanted in this situation.  In a couple of weeks we will be nearing the time last year that we learned of the possible chromosome problems we might be facing.  At that point I started to pray even more.  I asked the Lord to let the doctors be wrong, to let us keep Audrey, and I asked Him many times to let us have a Down Syndrome baby.  We knew the other possibility was grave and we did not want to face that, we did not see how we ever could face that.  So we asked God to let her be OK.  At first I honestly do not remember asking Him, with me entire heart, to let His will be done through Audrey even if that meant we would not get to have her here on earth.

Then, as you know, we were faced with the deafening news that God had not answered our prayers.  We and the multitudes of people all over the place who were praying specifically for Audrey could not change His mind.

Is that how it really was?  Did God just choose not to answer the requests we begged of Him?  No, I do not think so.

So why didn't our prayers change His mind?  His answer to us was "No," and we tend to think He was still deciding during all that time we were praying.  The truth is, this was a situation where He had enabled His perfect will to be done through Audrey the moment He created her.  Yes, to us we see it as "No," but maybe if our prayers had been different we would have gotten a "Yes" even through the circumstances that were, to us, horrible.

In a Bible study I did recently I read that when we pray, rather than "Lord, please heal my child and please allow me to keep her here so we can love her and raise her etc., according to Your will." Maybe we should be saying, "Lord, I don't know what your plan is through my life and the life of this little child you are forming, but please let Your perfect will be done and I will give you the glory for what You do.  And if that includes healing her while she is here on this earth I will continue to give you praise."

Do you see the difference?  If we could change God's mind by the way we pray, or the number of people that are praying, then we would have the power to alter what God has already decided.  Prayer is not for God, it is for us.  Aside from doing a study on prayer, (which I may do one day soon!) all I can say is what I have learned through my own experience.  I recently came across a blog post from a friend of my brother's about this same subject and I thought it was very well written.  About a year ago his sister died from cancer.  She had only found out she had this cancer approximately a year earlier, and from what I have heard she was the most godly and loving woman you could meet.  Her husband and four small children were left as she went on to glory.  I joined in the many who prayed for Penny, asking the Lord to allow her to stay here to help raise her children and continue her ministry on earth.  But God still took her home.  Through this difficult time, I remember hearing how the family continued to give God glory for what He was doing even though that did not include healing her of the cancer.  Is it possible that through my prayers I could learn to trust God's will in whatever he brings into my life and let Him have glory even if the end result is not what I would have chosen?
Read Jamie's blog post here:

Like I said, this is a lot of simply my opinion.  I do not know the answer, but I have learned that my reason for praying should be to change me, not to get God to do what I want.  I cannot see the big picture, but He can and I have to trust that the things He allows are for my best and ultimately for His glory.


Audrey would have been 9 months old today.