I've journaled repeatedly how pivotal choosing a life style of gratitude has been to me: choosing to thank God's for each gracious gift that brings joy. Reading Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts opened my eyes to this truth that is constantly revealed in scripture. In Luke, Jesus walks with Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection. These men walked with Jesus, were taught by Jesus, probably touched Jesus, they were with Jesus, but they didn't know it was Him until Jesus "took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him," (Luke 24:30-31). Giving thanks opened their eyes to see Jesus.
Yesterday, we found out that quite soon our nephew Micah will go meet Jesus. How God made Micah is so amazing and wonderful, the doctors can't figure it out, so it's time for Jesus to restore Micah in heaven. It's a whirl of emotions, I can't imagine being the parent in this situation, it's heart-wrenching enough being the aunt and sister. But when despair gets too great, I have stopped myself to think...this is the hard eucharisteo, the hard thanksgiving, but I know it's there. Much for which to give thanks. I begin a mental with Micah the night before he got really ill, his love for root beer, living in Minnesota now instead of being 12 hours away in Montana... Then I recall the passage in Luke. Giving thanks opened the disciples' eyes to see Jesus. When we ask why (just as the disciples were asking why Jesus had to be crucified), we can't see Jesus in the midst of our pain of losing Micah. When we list each of God's gifts, we see Jesus, our hope. I feel led to begin at one:
  1. Having the "Sechler Seven" around my table the night prior
  2. Pictures that turned out
  3. Micah throwing his spiral with his mom
  4. Micah getting his wish from Make A Wish
  5. Micah excited about his really good book and A&W
  6. Talking "normal life" with my sister
  7. Traci taking over in my kitchen
  8. Light on the pumpkin pumpkin bars for dessert so Micah can have one
  9. Mike & the engineer laughing at how similar Traci & I are
  10. Living in Minnesota
  11. Quoting "When I am afraid, I will trust in You" Psalm 56:3 when I had a missed call from Mike and the calm that followed
  12. The compassionate one praying for the Sechler family while we waited to leave school
  13. The golden heads reaching out to comfort mom...holding my hand, hugs, rubbing my back and arm
  14. The engineer knowing to go be with family
  15. Safe travel to and from Litchfield
  16. Laughing about the boisterous one's "opinions"
  17. "Grandpa Leon is here?" followed by a big smile
  18. Being with family
  19. Peacefullness exuded by Mike and Traci
  20. The new digital camera arriving
  21. Hospice nurse
  22. Kids Club that the cousins got to go to
  23. Sitting alongside Micah
  24. Traci talking about the Big Big House Micah's going to
  25. All the good food Micah will soon get to eat: Mountain Dew, chocolate, pizza with lots of cheese...
  26. Dad and Lucas being finished in the field
  27. The engineer playing Mario Kart with his nephews
  28. The sweet sound of cousins playing
  29. Rebekah asking for a tray to play house with all the cousins
  30. Coffee and caffeine in general
  31. Getting Abi-girl ready for bed
  32. Singing and praying alongside Micah before we left
  33. Kissing Micah's head
  34. Christian Music
  35. "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller on the radio
  36. God directing steps
  37. No school for the golden heads the next few days
  38. Mercies new every morning
  39. "Break Open the Sky" on the drive...tears streaming down
  40. Good Music to lift us up
  41. Mike's silly smile and quirks despite the grief--makes him, him
  42. The boisterous one playing play dough with Abigail
  43. Abigail's big smile
  44. The engineer being girl-trapped 5 times over
  45. Mike taking a picture of it
  46. Caleb being excited about XBox and needing another controller
  47. An abundance of goodies to choose from
  48. Mom's goey lazy day bars
  49. Holding Rebekah for a long snuggle
  50. Talking with dad on the phone
  51. Sharing memories of Micah
  52. "Brother, let's make a deal"
  53. "I got a booger"
  54. Remembering the Amazing Race
  55. Seeing pictures on Facebook of Micah
  56. Being with family
  57. Giving fun gifts...Keurig
  58. More pieces for the game room delivered
  59. Seeing each golden head as a bit more precious...a gift on loan
  60. Kisses stolen while the golden heads sleep
  61. Shopping as therapy
  62. Being 2 hours from Litchfield
  63. Toby Mac tee
  64. Cousins playing outside without shoes on
  65. Dad processing grief through the truth of scripture
  66. Cuddling with Caleb
  67. The compassionate one giving up to so Abigail could have a gift bag
  68. Daniel's servant heart - bringing his computer
  69. Pictures
  70. Photo albums
  71. Lori
  72. Amazing attitudes of our golden heads 
  73. Micah's thankfulness journal
  74. Micah's letter to Rebekah
  75. A face to face visit with Lori
  76. Hugs
  77. Seeing extended family
  78. Watching Traci & Mike worship
  79. And Abigail too!
  80. Rootbeer Keg
  81. Pizza
  82. Visit with Ashley
  83. A huge real hug from Traci
  84. Vacation for the Sechlers
  85. ...


"I am adopted, I'm a special kid you see. I'm proud to be a member of God's royal family." I remember singing that song as a child and singing it at church when dad taught the children's sermon bringing in an orphaned baby calf... Adoption is truly a picture of what God does for us.
Four years ago, I watched my sister and her husband adopt little Abigail. I've watched many at our church in Billings, adopt internationally from Ethiopia. I've see the sacrifice made on the part of the adopting parents and how the adopted children receive all the rights of natural-born children.
However, reading in Hosea 2:23, "I will call those who were not My people, 'My people,' and her who was not beloved, 'beloved.'" In 1:10, "In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' instead they shall be called sons of the Living God." As I contrasted those words not My people with sons and beloved, and see that God says I will call, meaning He chooses to call, it totally struck me that God chose to adopt me. Just as my sister and brother-in-law chose to adopt Abigail, God chose me. I am awed by this. I don't have much to bring to the table. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that He would decide to call me beloved and daughter, but totally humbled!
As I further study the idea of Christ adopting us in the Word (I'm realizing how much I find, so this is by no means extensive) I began a little list contrasting life as adopted or not adopted. Paul teaches in Romans 8:15, that we are not given a spirit of slavery which leads to fear but a spirit of adoption as sons. As a daughter, I am not called to be fearful for John says in 1 John 4:18, "perfect love casts out fear." As a daughter, I am heir to God and His glory (Romans 8:17). And reading through John, I am surprised to find how much Jesus talked about sonship or adoption. In chapter 8:34-35, Jesus says the the "son abides forever in his father's house," but a slave to sin (not adopted) does not live forever. In John 10, Jesus gives us the word picture of a good shepherd. As His daughter, He's my good shepherd and He knows me (verse 14). Contrast that with not being adopted, where Satan is given the title of "hired hand" who doesn't care about his sheep (verse 13). As the parents of an adopted child really get to know that child and truly care about their precious child, so Jesus cares about His children! In John 11, upon Lazarus' death, I believe Jesus weeps because He cares that His children are hurting.
Not Adopted
No fear
Abides forever
Does not abide
Jesus is a good Shepherd
Satan as a hired man
Knows His sheep/children
Does not know his slaves
Cares about His children   
Doesn't care about his sheep/children
Look at the list, there's no doubt in my mind that adoption is a better way. The only way to life that never ends! But seeing this list convicts me and breaks my heart for those who haven't yet been adopted. May I live my life and love unbelievers so that they too may be adopted by the One who knows them.

Pointing them to Jesus

I was caught a bit off guard yesterday when a neighbor asked me for  parenting advice. Maybe she wasn't serious, but it got me thinking, maybe people are watching me parent. I sure hope I am pointing them toward Jesus. Which is one of the many gifts I was thanking Jesus for yesterday.
As it happens in any home (at least I hope this is normal), sometime my golden heads wake up crabby, bickering, complaining, blaming...ugly! What's I've come to realize in the past six months is that it's not just a fact of life. It's a spiritual battle. They wake and Satan already has a foothold on their little lives. Imagine how the bulk of the day is going to go when Satan has squelched part of the Holy Spirit out of you. How do I redirect them when we start out this way? The same way I redirect myself: at the feet of Jesus.
This is sometime a tricky part, but I try persevere without being annoying. Sometimes, they are open to reading their devotional book. Sometimes, we start singing a song that pops into my head. Yesterday, I asked the boisterous one to sing her sisters, "The Butterfly Song" that we learned in preschool. At first the sisters resisted, but before too long, everyone was singing and SMILING. Sometimes all we need to get our eyes off self and on Christ. Praise be to God for His wonderful gift!