Saturday, June 29, 2013

An Adoption and a Wedding

What a wonderful and important time of celebration and thanksgiving for our family this weekend!  Early Friday morning, we drove to the Fort Bend County Justice Center in Richmond to meet Chad and his family.  We arrived over an hour early so as not to miss a single part of Chad’s adoption of David.  For the record, I was ready to go 30 minutes earlier than the time Larry said we needed to leave.  And yes, I did persuade him to leave a few minutes earlier than planned.
Lori’s parents and Melinda, Brad’s wife, were also there.  We were all invited to the front of the courtroom for the hearing.  Chad and Lori were called to appear and the lawyer presented their case.  Both Chad and Lori were asked questions about their desire for Chad to adopt David.  It was brought out in the case that David’s father passed away before he was born.  At birth, David was named David Joseph Hudson, Jr.  Chad and Lori have chosen for David to keep his name as they continue to honor his father, Dave.  David now has a second dad who will love, encourage, teach, and disciple him in the years to come.  And we pray that one day David will choose to be adopted by a Heavenly Father because of his faith and trust in Jesus.

All during the proceeding, David pretty much snuggled into Chad’s shoulder and neck, while holding his little truck, and listened, watched, and took in everything as Chad held him.  He felt safe in his father’s arms.  At the conclusion of the hearing, it was a sweet time to hear the judge joyfully grant Chad’s request to adopt David.  Then the judge handed David a stuffed bear to celebrate the occasion and he lit up.  With his truck and bear in hand, he was one happy camper.

On Friday, June 28, 2013, a judge in Fort Bend County and the state of Texas declared what we have already known and believed in our hearts for over a year…David Joseph Hudson, Jr. is Chad’s son…and Larry and I are his grandparents!

After celebrating with David at the outside tables at Starbuck’s (since the yogurt shop didn’t open until noon), we drove to Pasadena to pick up Mom to attend the bridesmaids’ luncheon for Melissa, the soon to be wife of my nephew, Andrew.  Andrew is the cousin that is Brad and Chad’s age.  What a wonderful luncheon and special time of fellowship to honor Melissa.

Friday night we joined with family and friends for the rehearsal dinner and today we celebrate the joyous occasion of Andrew and Melissa’s marriage.  We have already come to love Melissa dearly as she has shared in family outings, birthday parties, holidays and spur of the moment family get togethers.  It will be exciting to see how God continues to work in and through them individually and also as a couple in the days and years ahead.  So today, June 29, 2013, in the eyes of God and the state of Texas, Andrew and Melissa will be declared husband and wife.  Welcome to the family, Melissa! 
“Rejoice with those who rejoice”
Romans 12:15a

Saturday, June 22, 2013

People Count

Last week, I was a part of the Vacation Bible School Secretary Team.  The five of us had the privilege of keeping count of the people who attended each day.  Numbers are important because each one represents a child who was hearing that day about how much God loves and cares for them and all the other children in our world.  Attendance for the teachers and teenagers, many whom have been preparing for this VBS since the last one was completed, were also accounted for.  What an exciting and busy week with babies, preschoolers, children, teenagers, and adults celebrating and learning about God and His Word.  People count.

Coins, bills, and checks were also counted during the week of VBS.  The kids and adults gave from their hearts.  There were over 15,000 pennies brought as well as lots and lots of nickels, dimes, and quarters.  It was obvious that little banks had been opened so they could bring and share their money.  This year’s offering of $6,467.29 will be given to the Christian organization “Sweet Sleep” which provides new beds, bedding, and Bibles for children living in orphanages in Haiti, Moldova, and Uganda.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  (Proverbs 3:24)  Each day the children were eager to know how many kids could now have beds to sleep on.  One of the first days a little boy told his mother that they needed to go to IKEA that afternoon so they could buy a bed for the orphans since they didn’t have one.  Offerings and giving hearts count and make a difference.

After Vacation Bible School, Larry and I headed to Glen Rose for the 82nd Hackney Family Reunion.  It is so good to be with and visit with family.  There are always games to be played, snacks and meals to be eaten, updates to be given, and memories to be shared.  Growing up, the family reunion was a much anticipated event each summer…and it still is for me.  Family definitely counts in my book as a way God continues to bless and encourage me. 

Last weekend I also thanked God for his gift of 50 years of marriage for Joe Ed and Susie.  What a special couple and family.  It has been amazing to see the ways God has worked and continues to work in and through them to bless, love, and minister to others.  And that legacy continues in their children, their spouses, and grandchildren.

And today I have the privilege of celebrating the life of a special lady who is continuing to let her life count for God and others.  Cleo will be 90 years young on July 2nd.  She is on my visiting path as I head to where I sit in church on Sunday mornings.  I look forward to her sweet smile, encouraging words and hug.  I’m grateful that she prays for me and my family.  Cleo is one of a group of ladies at church who crochet hats to be given to the homeless in Houston around Christmas time.  What a gift Cleo is to her family and others, even those she has never met.
Lord, today and this next week, I want to be a person who counts and makes a difference for your kingdom, too.

I was glad when they said unto me,
Let us go into the house of the Lord.
Psalm 122:1

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Luke 18:16
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
2 Corinthians 9:12

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Reason to Wait

Recently I was reading Exodus 33.  Even though I have read these verses many times, they caught my attention like it was the first time.  In this passage, God is speaking to the Israelites.

20-24 “Now get yourselves ready. I’m sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I’ve prepared. Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don’t go against him. He won’t put up with your rebellions because he’s acting on my authority. But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I’ll be an enemy to your enemies, I’ll fight those who fight you. When my Angel goes ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I’ll clear the country of them. So don’t worship or serve their gods; don’t do anything they do because I’m going to wipe them right off the face of the Earth and smash their sacred phallic pillars to bits.
25-26 “But you—you serve your God and he’ll bless your food and your water. I’ll get rid of the sickness among you; there won’t be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I’ll make sure you live full and complete lives.
27 “I’ll send my Terror on ahead of you and throw those peoples you’re approaching into a panic. All you’ll see of your enemies is the backs of their necks.
28-31 “And I’ll send Despair on ahead of you. It will push the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites out of your way. I won’t get rid of them all at once lest the land grow up in weeds and the wild animals take over. Little by little I’ll get them out of there while you have a chance to get your crops going and make the land your own. I will make your borders stretch from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Wilderness to the Euphrates River. I’m turning everyone living in that land over to you; go ahead and drive them out.
32-33 “Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
Exodus 33:20-33 (The Message)

* God had a plan.

He told his people what he was going to do and what they needed to do.

* There was a reason that God did not get rid of all of the other inhabitants all at once.  

* Otherwise the wild animals and weeds would take over the desolate land.

God knew that his people needed to little by little begin to grow crops and make the land their own before they were ready to completely take over the land. 

When I pray sometimes God answers my request with yes.  Sometimes the answer is no; I have something better.  Other times I am to wait on him.  I was fascinated that in these verses God told the Israelites what he was going to do and that there was a reason why they needed to wait on him to accomplish what he promised.  He knew his people needed more time to grow accustomed to the land and begin cultivating it little by little before they would be ready to take over.  If God would have cleared the land of the other people immediately, the Israelites would not have been ready to inhabit the land.  Thus, the weeds and wild animals would have taken over.

During the process of adopting and applying for Mary’s citizenship, Scott and Abby are learning firsthand about waiting.  Sometimes they know the reason why, but other situations don’t make much sense right now.  It continues to amaze me how pieces are coming together with the help and intervention of so many people for this process to be complete.  God is continuing to provide others to help and encourage during this time.  They are not alone.  My prayer is that those people will see and know that God is blessing through their efforts.  Whether they ever know the reasons why they are waiting, may they always trust and obey the God who does know.

In hind sight, there are times when it is obvious why I have needed to wait for God’s provision in certain circumstances.  Other times the answer is not so obvious yet.  Even when he does not reveal the outcome or reason to me, like he did the Israelites, I am learning to trust God’s timing.  I am realizing more and more that God is continually in the process of working in people and circumstances that may involve me as well.  When the time is right, I don’t want to miss out because I am not ready.  Because the Israelites trusted and obeyed, God blessed.  Lord, please help me to do the same whether I understand the reason or not.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles were a part of my childhood.  That tradition was passed down to our sons and now the grandkids have been added as recipients as well.  We had wooden puzzles at home and church where one object went into one space.  Then we progressed to the 9 and 12 piece puzzles where there was one simple picture to be put together.  Growing up, a jigsaw puzzle, with lots of pieces, was set out on a card table to be worked during the holidays or summertime.  There is always one being put together during beach week when the family is together.  As a puzzle is completed, the next one is taken out of its box to be started.  Then we begin the process over again of finding the edge pieces; forming the border; and then beginning to fill in the pieces.  Sometimes you stay long enough to find where one piece fits while other times you sit and stay for a while.  There are times that it seems to take forever to locate a place where a piece will fit.  Other times, several pieces begin to fall into place more easily because of the color or the part of the picture that it is completing.
When the boys were younger, we went to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit a friend during Spring Break.  After visiting the Coca Cola Museum, Chad decided he wanted to collect Coke items.  For his birthday in August, my sister, Vicki, gave him a 1500 piece Coke puzzle.  It was too big to even fit on a card table.  I had the idea of us completing the puzzle and framing it for Chad as a surprise gift for Christmas.  With school starting the week after the boys’ birthday, they worked on it just a few minutes each day while I spent many hours working on it after they went to bed. It didn’t take long to notice that the puzzle pieces had a lot of red on them!  Sometimes it was easier to look for pieces that went together in certain areas of the puzzle or that had the same colors or shade of red.  Having the completed picture to look at on the box helped us see where certain parts were to be placed in the big picture.

Sometimes my life is like the simple puzzle where I put my piece into the slot where it is designed to go.  Since those pieces are not with any others, it is like a picture of isolated events.  Other times, like the 9 or 12 piece puzzle, I look at how God is fitting my life pieces together to make my life picture.  But more and more I am desiring to view life as being a part of God’s 1,500+++ piece puzzle.  He surrounds His world with love, faithfulness, and sovereignty as the border and everything that is pictured inside is by His design, for His purpose and His glory. Instead of me completing a small part of a little picture in the puzzle, God chooses for me to be a piece in one part, two or three pieces in another section, and joining several other pieces in another area.  I am fitting into God’s picture by joining and working alongside others in the process.  Sometimes little sections come together and I get a small glimpse of what the completed process of that part might look like.  Other times I wait for other pieces to go together before God is ready for my piece to be added to that part of the picture.  It might even be necessary, at times, to go to a completely different area of the puzzle for God to fit another piece in His masterpiece.  On rare occasions, I may even be the first to place a piece in a section.  Since I don’t have the benefit of a box with the completed picture to look at, I must choose to walk in faith, trusting God’s plan, and responding in obedience.  And someday I’ll see the completion of the picture of God’s love, faithfulness, and sovereignty through the ages. 

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Psalm 24:1-2

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 
Ephesians 4:16

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hope, Prayers, Obedience, and Worship

I went to a worship service at Tallowood on Wednesday morning.  The music and scriptures that were selected and read were a reminder of God’s power that is at work in His children. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)   They spoke of the importance of finding rest and hope in God because he is our rock, salvation, fortress, and refuge.  (Psalm 62:5-8)  We were encouraged to praise God with all that we are and to not forget all of his benefits – he forgives us, heals us, redeems us, crowns us with love and compassion, satisfies our desires with good things, and renews us like the eagle. (Psalm 103:1-5)  Then we were challenged to take refuge in God as we asked him to deliver us, hear from us, come to our rescue, be a strong fortress and save us, lead and guide us, keep us from the traps that are set for us, and deliver us as we commit our spirits to him. (Psalm 31:1-5).  In Ephesians 3:17b-19, Paul’s words reminded us of what we need to claim and proclaim:  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

We worshiped as we heard a message of love and an original song about “Hope” that was written for a special family.  Worship continued as we sang “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord),” “A Mighty Fortress,” and “Healing is in Your Hands.”

The purpose for us joining in a time of corporate worship on Wednesday morning was to praise and worship God as we remembered and honored the life of Lyla Hope.  Lyla Hope was born on May 24th and lived on earth for 3 minutes before going to her heavenly home that had already been lovingly prepared for her.  The reason we were invited to such a special service of worship and praise is because Lyla’s parents love, believe, and trust God with their lives and the life of their precious little one.
After a few months of pregnancy, Leigh Ann and Brent were told that their baby would be born anencephalic.  Even though the recommendation was for them to end the pregnancy, they did not want to give up what God had given them.  Their desire was for Leigh Ann to carry the baby as long as God chose.  They trusted and believed that God was the one to decide how long their baby’s time on earth would be.  There were tears, lots and lots of prayers, and hope as they waited.  I’m so glad Lyla’s parents asked others to share their journey as we prayed and believed expectantly along with them.  These past months have been a beautiful glimpse of what God must want the church body to look like as people have walked alongside this dear family and ministered to and with them.  May we continue to love and serve them well. 
Brent and Leigh Ann pleaded with God for the life of their baby.  They entrusted Lyla Hope to Him knowing that He would know and do what was best.  And when God made his decision, they believed that God was good no matter what the circumstance.  They continue to trust Him to see them through these days.  And they chose to go into the house of the Lord and worship and praise God for the gift He had given.  Even though Lyla Hope will not grow up on earth, her parents will be reunited with her one day because they have placed their faith and trust in Jesus.
During these days, we have seen a couple live out what it looks like to be obedient to what God asked of them, especially during the tough times.  Because of their example of obedience, we have been challenged and encouraged to do the same.