Goodbye Ordinary

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us. Isaiah 63:7

Empowered to Connect February 12, 2011

Filed under: Adoption,Books — Lori @ 9:54 pm

I have shared about Karyn Purvis and her wonderful book entitled, The Connected Child, one of the best recources on parenting a child who has come from tough circumstances.  The website, Empowered to Connect, is a must see if you are an adoptive or foster parent. 

Please check out some information on a couple of upcoming conferences being put on by Empowered to Connect at A Bushel and a Peck website.  She is also having a drawing for a give-away of an Empowered to Connect DVD.

Have a great weekend.   ~Lori


Isaiah 40:1-2 March 12, 2010

Filed under: Books,Faith — Lori @ 2:03 pm

I just finished reading a book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “The All-Sufficient God – Sermons on Isaiah 40”.  I found it very comforting as well as convicting.  I also loved the reminder that you find Jesus in the whole Bible!  The book is based on a series of sermons that were preached in Westminster Chapel by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1954.

In the book, there are nine sermons/sections of Isaiah 40.  I begin a series of posts with the first two verses, chapter one of the book.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Is. 40:1-2, ESV)

This section of scripture is a message to Israel.  The Lord showed the prophet Isaiah (in preceeding chapters) what was going to happen to the nation – that it would suffer and exactly how it would be carried out.  But Isaiah now gives a further message, which is that these people will be rescued and delivered from the captivity of Babylon and will be restored to their country and to their city of Jerusalem. 

“Many of the verses of Isaiah 40 are quoted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where it is made perfectly plain and clear that over and above the immediate reference to the children of Israel in the captivity of Babylon, we also have here a marvelous foreshadowing and indication of the Christian gospel that was to come.” quote from book, pg. 2

The author talks about the gospel being unknown and/or misunderstood by the world. He says, “If we take as our standard, the common ideas about Christianity, then we must go astray.  If we do not come to the Bible itself, and if we do not believe its message, then how can we have a true conception of the gospel?” 

He goes on to explain where the gospel comes from:

“The first thing we must always realize about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is a message sent by God.  It is God who is speaking here.  It is God who is giving a message to this man Isaiah.  It is God who is saying, ‘Comfort, my people.’  It is God, the Almighty God Himself, who is ordering Isaiah to speak.  Why do I start with that?  It is because if we are not clear about that, we will never be clear about anything else.  The first thing we must understand about the Christian way of life and the Christian way of salvation is that it is entirely and altogether from God.”

He goes on to say that there are misconceptions about God’s character.  That He is sometimes regarded as being “opposed to us” or a God who “delights in punishing us”.  In contrast, Lloyd-Jones also states that there are many who hold another view – that salvation is the result of their own effort, that they have decided and desired to live a better life and have given themselves to that.

Lloyd-Jones says that the Bible confirms that those assumptions are both wrong!  He says,

“The first statement of the gospel is that it comes from God, it is God’s action, God’s activity.  I do not care where you open the Bible, that is what you will find.”

The first man and woman started in a right relationship with God, but they could not stay there.  They went their own way.  And, instead of God writing them off and letting them reap the consequences of their choice, He did the only thing that could be done to rescue them and to redeem them.  I am comforted by the fact that God made a promise to Adam that He would provide a way of salvation.  We see this promise repeated all through the Old Testament.

…..that her iniquity is pardoned,  that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

God tells us that he is pardoning us because he is satisfied with the punishment.  His justice is satisfied.  That is the very heart of the gospel.  Because of God’s holy and righteous character he cannot just arbitrarily decide to pardon sin.  He has said that he will punish sin and he does that.

Jesus was crucified – took our punishment and the force of God’s wrath – for us.  The Son of God, blameless and perfect paid for our sins. That sacrifice is what satisfied God’s justice.  Our sins were paid for with Jesus’ blood!  And because of that sacrifice God announces pardon and forgiveness.  The sin that estranges us from God has been dealt with.  The way to God is open again and we are reconciled to God in Jesus Christ, his Son.  Wow!

Isn’t God’s grace and love towards us amazing? 

Romans 5:18-21  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 1:7 -10  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Take the time to know God through His Word.  We are so privileged to have it.


Trusting in God’s Sovereignty February 15, 2010

Filed under: Books,Faith,Grief,World Events — Lori @ 4:02 pm

I think that learning to trust in God’s sovereign hand in my life and in all of creation is a lesson that I will be learning my entire life.

I have had several hard “valleys” come along in my life in order to learn this lesson.  I have found that God has been merciful in preparing me ahead of these great times of darkness so that I was able to grope my way through them – knowing that the Lord was walking along beside me and with a knowledge of His love for me and his promise to cause all things to work for good in my life.  Just so you understand where I am coming from, God’s “good” he brings into my life is that He is making me into a more perfect reflection of Christ to the world. (Rom. 8:29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.)

It might be the earthquake in Haiti, the collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis, 9/11, or a personal trial that stops us in our tracks.  These tragedies leave people hurt and questioning God’s involvement.  We have two choices, don’t we?  We can believe that God is in complete control of His creation – which includes people and nature – OR – we can believe that God isn’t able to stop bad things from happening, but is hoping that He can make something good come out of them after the fact.

Matthew 10:29-31  are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

With a belief in the first choice we may not always “like” what has happened, nor do we understand “why” it has happened, but we can safely and securely rest in the knowledge that God was in complete control of the circumstance and has ordained that it come to pass – either by His allowing or causing. 

In the second choice, we are left to wonder what may hit us next and will we have any idea of any purpose in these tragedies when they come.  There is no comfort, no security in this choice is there?

Thank goodness we do not make a choice!  Whether we choose to believe it or not God IS in control of all things.  He is almighty and sovereign over all his creation.

Daniel 4:35  He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.  No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?

I was just re-reading an article in Tabletalk magazine by R.C. Sproul, Jr.  He says this about God’s sovereignty:

……….How, though, can we move from simply affirming the sovereignty of God to resting in it?  We will rest in His sovereignty when we remember not just that He is almighty, but that He who is almighty loves us with an everlasting love.  It is because He is with us in the valley of death that we do not fear.  It is because He has prepared a table in the presence of our enemies that we can be assured that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives……………………Psalm 46:8-11  Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.  Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I think this is an important step – remembering that we are children of God and that He loves us.  We are not making a choice between believing that God is sovereign OR that He is good and loving.  He is both.

Jerry Bridges says in Trusting God, “The one element that should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God; our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good.”

Psalm 33:10-11  The LORD fails the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.  But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Romans 11:33-34  Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

Isaiah 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Another quote from “Trusting God“,

“As God’s rule is invincible, so it is incomprehensible.  his ways are higher  than our ways.  His judgments are unsearchable and His paths are beyond tracing out.  The sovereignty of God is often questioned because man does not understand what God is doing.  Because He does not act as we think He should, we conclude He cannot act as we think He would.”

This is not an easy doctrine to grasp.  I am, however, so thankful that God taught me this before Grant died because it would have been SO MUCH HARDER to go through that if He had not.  As I said in the beginning, I am still working on this.  Every day.  The Christian walk is a road of faith in a God Who has revealed Himself to us in His word and we seek to learn more about Him every day.  It is a journey.  How thankful I am for the hope and security we have in eternity because of what Christ accomplished on our behalf!

Augustine said, “Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen: he either permits it to happen, or he brings it about Himself.”


The Power of the Resurrection February 11, 2010

Filed under: Books,Faith — Lori @ 2:18 pm

Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes EverythingI just read about a new book by Adrian Warnock entitled, “Raised With Christ“.  There is an interview with the author at Justin Taylor’s blog

I sincerely encourage you to go read the post and listen to the video – it is only about eight minutes long.  I promise you that it will fill your eyes with tears and your heart with wonder when you are reminded of the benefit that has come to us through not only Jesus’ death, but His resurrection!

Here is what one reviewer says about the book:  “Raised with Christ is wonderfully accessible to ordinary Christians because Adrian Warnock is, in his own words, an ordinary Christian. Those who follow his popular blog will recognize his sincere and straightforward style, as he explains why the resurrection is not merely a dry doctrine about a past event but a promise that the life of the risen Christ can transform our lives today.”
—Nancy Pearcey

I can’t wait to get this book!


Free Online Books January 5, 2010

Filed under: Bible Study,Books,Faith — Lori @ 4:14 pm

I found a link to some free books you can read in PDF files online by D. A. Carson.  One of them is a fairly short book (93 pages) entitled The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God that was written from several lectures he gave on this subject.  An excerpt explaining why the doctrine of the love of God would be described as “difficult”:

Suddenly the Christian doctrine of the love of God becomes very difficult, for the entire framework in which it is set in Scripture has been replaced. To put this another way, we live in a culture in which many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved.  I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity.The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.

This process has been going on for some time. My generation was taught to sing, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love,” in which we robustly instruct the Almighty that we do not need another mountain (we have enough of them), but we could do with some more love. The hubris is staggering.

He goes on to say that is isn’t just the world that believes incorrectly about the love of God.  Unfortunately, we often hear a one-sided view of God’s character even from believers.  This is a really good book that will get you thinking about what you believe about the Biblical teaching of the love of God and how that affects the way you view Him.

Take a few hours and read this book.  I think you will enjoy it!


Must Read Adoption Books January 4, 2010

Filed under: Adoption,Books — Lori @ 8:37 pm

I remember frantically looking for good books when we began our adoption process with the girls and I felt like the resources available for information on older child adoption was scant.  I wasn’t even given many ideas from my agency and so I felt a bit unprepared. 

I did read some material, but I have to admit that I read it with some skepticism.  The one book I did read about older child adoption before the girls came was “Adopting the Older Child” by Claudia Jewett.  Quite frankly this book scared the pants off me.

I think that is a problem with many people who are entering into adoption – we don’t really want to know the possible reality.  The problem with that is if we come home with a child who has some fairly serious issues we may want to give up.  This isn’t what we signed up for! we may say.  I have heard too many sad stories of disruptions (if you aren’t in the adoption world, this means that the family has the child for a period of time and wants to give them back).  It often seems like the family isn’t even giving the placement the time to know what the outcome will be.  Adoption must be entered into realistically and with resolve to see it through.

Our agency for Levi’s adoption is Journeys of the Heart and although I think they are a bit overboard on their education requirements 🙂  I have appreciated a few of the books they required that we read.

One of those is  “Our Own, Adopting and Parenting the Older Child” by Trish Maskew.  It is full of useful information for a first time adoptive family.  She asks and answers the questions that are in your mind when you enter into the unknown of adoption.  She even states the questions and fears that you will find flooding your heart and mind once you finally meet your child.  Let’s face it, adoption is not easy.  We have to be honest and talk about the feelings we have and the problems that we face.  We can’t be afraid of these issues that we may or may not face when we bring our child home.  We make a committment to these children – to love them and give them a home and security – FOREVER.  We have to be realistic about that process.  This is a book that EVERY family thinking of adopting for the first time should read.  I found my copy at my local library.

Another one of the books I recently started to read is called,  “Parenting Your Older Adopted Child” by Brenda McCreight, Ph. D.  She has a list of challenges for the adoptive parent and then a list of strategies to overcome those challenges.  I think it is very good information.  A few of the challenges are:

A belief that love is enough to heal the child and maintain the family.

Unrealistic expectations about your child’s abilities.

Unrealistic expectations about how soon after the placement you will feel like a “family”.

One statement she makes that I really think is key is that we need to emphasize commitment over love.  Adoption is a commitment to a child.  Here is a quote from her book:

Emphasizing commitment, rather than love, is a key element to long-term success in an adoptive family.  The feeling of love can be elusive to parents during times of prolonged stress and unrewarding parent/child relationships.  Our child, too, may find it easier to love us at some stages rather than others.  Still, if commitment is a sacred and articulated value within the family, then your child will learn from you how to hold on as the adoption relationship undergoes the twists and turns of family life.”

Adoption isn’t getting a puppy from the humane society to see if it will work out.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but I am distressed when I hear about a family who wants to disrupt an adoption after one month.  Either these people were not properly educated beforehand or they were living in a fantasy world.  Adoption has no place for either of those scenarios.

We do not choose the child that is born to us do we?  We have no control (or very little) in what their health will be, what their personality will be, what their struggles will be.  We don’t look into getting rid of them as soon as the going gets tough.  We must have the same amount of desire to make things work for our adopted children as we would for our biological children.

Sorry, off my soapbox now.

A MUST READ book for understanding the mind and heart of a child you are adopting who has come from a “hard place” (author’s term) is The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis.  This book is absolutely wonderful.  I cannot say enough about it.  She has practical help for disciplining these kids and it works!  You cannot expect to discipline your adopted child in the exact same way that you have disciplined your birth children.  I had to learn that lesson.

Another wonderful book that addresses the sometimes complicated issue of attachment is Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray.  I read this book before the girls came, but really want to read it again.  As I have found with other books, it is just different to read them now that I have experience.  My eyes are now open and I resonate with what is being said and I am much more eager to hear what they have to say.

There were a couple of books I had to read on transracial adoption.  I wrote a post about one of those books (Inside Transracial Adoption) if you want to look it up.  If you are adopting a child from another culture – whether or not they have different color skin from you – you should read some books on this topic.  I was shocked at my lack of knowledge in this area.  I live in a white world and didn’t know what it is like outside of it. 

If you have read a book on adoption that you think is a “must read” please leave me a comment.  I would love to hear what you have to say!  Remember – knowledge is power.


Books I Read in 2009 December 28, 2009

Filed under: Books — Lori @ 2:16 pm

I was talking with my sister in law about the books she got for Christmas and was planning to read for next year and it got me thinking of all the good books I read this year.

I try to spend time reading every day.  I don’t get to read as often or as much as I would like, but I squeeze it in when I can.  This year I also spent a lot of time reading adoption books for the education requirements our adoption agency has for its families.

Not in any particular order, but from what comes to mind first, I read:

The Prayer of the Lord, R.C. Sproul – a great book on prayer.

In Christ Alone, Sinclair Ferguson – a reminder of the inportance of the cross in our daily lives.

A Chance To Die, Elisabeth Elliott – a biography of Amy Carmichael – so inspiring!

Jesus Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias – a great book that shows the differences in beliefs between Christianity and other religions.

Discovering God’s Will, Sinclair Ferguson – very straightforward and convicting book on trusting and obeying God.

The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood, Susan Hunt and Barbara Thompson – a call to biblical relationships between younger and older women.

Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper – neat ideas for keeping Christ the center of your family celebrations all year.

Keep a Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliott – an easy to read, daily devotional style book of personal anecdotes and spiritual wisdom.

The Gospel According to Jesus, John MacArthur – a heart changing read!

The Word and the Spirit, Charles Spurgeon – this book is about the person and work of the Holy Spirit – I have enjoyed it (not quite finished!).

Trusting God, Jerry Bridges – this has become one of my favorite books!

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges – ouch!  (very convicting!)

The Character of God, R.C. Sproul – the second time I have read this book on Who God is.

Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Ginger Plowman – the best book I have EVER read on discipline.

The Connected Child, Karyn Purvis – the most wonderful and practical book you can read if you have a child that has dealt with hard things in their past.

A Taste of Heaven, R.C. Sproul – a book about worship.

The Ultimate Priority, John MacArthur – another book about worship – I loved it!  His premise is that we need to worship God with our lives every day of the week – not just on Sundays.

Family of Adoption, Joyce Maguire Pavao

20 Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, Sherrie Eldridge

Inside Transracial Adoption, Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall

Attachment in Adoption, Deborah Gray (still working on this one!)

Whew!  I may have missed something, but that gives you an idea.  I honestly have a stack of books I want to read this coming year and I will do my best to tackle them! 

I would love to hear from you if you read a great book this year and want to pass it on!  I am always looking for reading ideas.

Happy reading!


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