Pastor Ron gave me a CD with some old pictures on it. This one is of Mollie, Jillian and Amy at Amy’s birthday party. This was taken 8 years ago when the girls were in fourth grade. All three of them graduated this past May. Where does the time go?
Raising a family isn’t always easy, but with a little work can be very rewarding.
Our son, Nathaniel, graduated from “A” school Avionics Intermediate Level in Pensacola, Florida on March 5, 2008. From there he went on to graduate from “C” school at Camp Pendleton in California on June 12, 2008. He is now certified to work on CH 46/CH 53 Rotary Wing Electrical and Weapons Systems. He also earned his gray belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program on June 5, 2008. It is his desire to advance as far as he can in the Marine Corps. In the Marine Corps, you can advance quicker if you are deployed over seas. Nathaniel is hoping to get a tour in Iraq some time in the next three years. On July 9 He will be flying out to Permanent Duty station MCBH in Kanoche Bay, Hawaii. Congratulations, Nathaniel on your accomplishment and thank you for serving your country.
In just two short weeks our family will say goodbye to the church family we’ve grown to love. Nine years of our life have been spent here. Most of my children grew up in this church. My first daughter was married here and gave us two grandsons. Eight of my children graduated from this school. My daughter and son-in-law served with us here on staff. All of this we have shared with our church family.
It is a hard thing to say goodbye to friends who have over the years become more like family. It’s hard to say when that moment actually happens – perhaps somewhere between joy and suffering. It is good to make friends, but it’s even better when they become family. Family to me is a person who has knit their heart to mine. Family is who you tell your hopes and dreams to or share your burden or hurt with. When suffering is shared, hearts are melded. It’s not in the telling, but the receiving. Your burden must be received and carried. Your load becomes lighter when you’ve shared it with someone who actually cares. I have experience this here. Some people call that person their best friend, but how do you do that when you have more than a dozen? You don’t have to share my blood line to become family. But then, that’s obvious when you look at our family. When we adopted, it was like taking a friend and telling them we wanted to be a part of their future.
So, we are at a close here where we serve. God is calling us away, but we can’t take our friends with us – the friends who have become family. This doesn’t seem right, but our ways are not God’s ways. We cannot know what God will do with the love that must be fragmented and sent on it’s way to develop in the hearts of others through us. It does make the yearning for heaven grow stronger where we will never have to part from those we love, those in our homemade family.
We’ve spent almost a decade here in this church. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve rejoiced and we’ve grieved. Some have loved us, some have cast us aside. Still, we’ve taken immeasurable treasure away with us that could only have been discovered here – to use in another place, at another time, to grow God’s family. I have to admit, God had to pry my fingers off one at a time, for I held on very tightly to this ministry we now call family. But I am not ashamed of that. I think it right to hold on to those whom God brings into our path, those we vow to serve – to hold tightly and not want to let them go. Only then, when my fear of losing them is so very great do I claim them. And, most likely, if you are reading this, you are counted among them – my very precious family.
You have been used by our Lord to change and shape us, to point us to Him and gain a better understanding of who He is. You have comforted us, encouraged and uplifted us. He’s used you to challenge us, to push us to pursue excellence, to become better in His service. Thank you, my church family. I will miss you beyond what I am able to express.
Devin and Scott have been married a little over a year now. They live in Indiana in a cute little apartment close to where Scott works. Scott just got a new job where he’s been working for ABC and NBC at Indiana’s News Center (21 Alive) as a video editor for the past year. Our family recently went to his job site where we were given the 25 cent tour. It was very interesting! He has just received a promotion as head of the Web Production Department. The job entails on-air reporting and online management. On the side he will continue to do some video editing for the evening anchors.
Jillian and I enjoy talking with Scott about the things he works with since we both are dabling in visual communications ourselves. It’s not unusual for us to be shooting the breeze over one of the Adobe programs that has us stumped. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts a little over a year ago with an emphasis on Computer Art and Design. He’s our resident expert! Last time Devin and Scott came up to visit they brought their Wii. While Devin and her dad were playing Cow Racing, Scott and I were chatting about our mutual interest – which is anything to do with computers. With a little coaxing, we even had Grandma playing the Wii! Devin had made me a terrific birthday lunch and brought accessories for Jillian’s senior banquet. April and Adam and the boys came over and we had a very nice cookout that evening.
It is such a small world. Who’d ever imagine we’d have a son-in-law that has a degree in the area that Jillian and I are so interested in. Devin and I were laughing about how much Scott is like Dad. It really is true about daughters finding someone to marry that are like their fathers. She is fortunate!
Mollie is graduating May 25 from Lighthouse Academy boarding school. It’s her plan to eventually go to college for writing. Since she’s not had opportunity to earn college money while in boarding school, it is our hope that she’ll join the military where she can go to school on the governement’s dime and serve her country at the same time. Please pray that she will allow God to direct her future.
Mollie is gifted in the area of music. Many times while she was still home, she accompanied our church choir. I really miss listening to her while she worked on perfecting her specials on our living room piano. Her piano teacher told us that she has perfect pitch just like her brother Nathaniel. It would be great if she could further develop this talent for the Lord.
Levi has become quite the artist these days. For the past couple of years he’s sketched a few things here and there but hasn’t put much effort into it until recently. It was obvious from the beginning that he had some real talent. He’s never received any formal training, yet lately he’s drawn some pictures that have amazed us all. Pictured here is the 300c that he drew for this year’s MACS Competition (Michigan Association of Christian Schools Fine Arts) and received an honorable mention for his work. We’re all hoping he’ll go to college for formal training since he’s obviously been blessed with a great gift. He and brother Jacob, another budding artist, are working on putting together a comic book. He plans to be trained in architecture at Pensacola Christian College.
Jillian is graduating this May from Prairie Baptist School and going on to Pensacola Christian College to pursue a Visual Communications degree (graphic design, WEB design, etc.). Her journey began about six years ago. I had an interest in Graphic Design, so I took over the school yearbook position at PBS. I taught myself the Adobe InDesign and Photo Shop programs because I didn’t like the canned yearbook pages that so frequently adorn high school yearbooks. I passed on my knowledge to Jillian when she joined the yearbook staff a couple of years later. From scratch she and I learned to design professional pages, bringing our yearbook up to industry standards of professional design. She is amazing and can whip something together in just a few moments. My student has turned teacher and has gone beyond what I have taught her. She is now showing me how to use certian elements in the programs. I am anxious to gleen from her all the new information she’ll be receiving at PCC.
I’ve teased her that when she graduates and opens her own graphic design firm she’ll have to hire me – and that I can do anything I want because I’m her mother and she can’t fire me! It excites me to think that she’ll be trained in what I love – to put together professional publications for ministries. She’s hoping she’ll be apart of a missions minded company that will allow her to take short term missions trips to meet the publications needs of missionaries. She calls it “Traveling Missions.”
A few months ago, Jillian took her first missions trip to visit the Secrest family in Uruguay. The sole purpose of her trip was to take a look at how she could serve missionaries in the area of publications. For two weeks she spent most of her time designing a billboard for the church (to be placed in Montevideo), flyers, logos, letterheads, tracts, and anything else the missionary thought up during her stay. We are praying for the Lord’s leading – this could be such a grand adventure for her to be able to use her God given abilities for missions.
This year Jillian submitted the publications that she designed for the Secrests, missionaries to Uruguay, to MACS (Michigan Association of Christian Schools) Fine Arts Competition and won first place in Graphic Design. The judge told me that “They were blown away by her work.” I am very excited to see where this might take her and hope that I will be able to join her on her quest. Regardless of where God takes either of us, through the use of the Internet we’ll be able to share projects and help each other in ministry.
Jillian has two blogs, one a cheerleading site called cheer4life, and a personal site called, luv4him. Both are on my links listing.
Daily my thoughts turn to my son, Andrew, who’s serving in Iraq. He joined as a Marine reservist the summer after his first year in college. Little did we know that just a couple of years later he’d be sent to Iraq to use all that training he received from the military. I am thankful for his desire to serve his country and I am also thankful that God has been working on him. He’s in a barren, broken down village where all there is to do is patrol, watch for dissidents and play movies on his 15″ laptop. His latest quest for entertainment took him and his fellow Marines out to the countryside to throw rocks at cows. He’s definitely going to hear God speak to his heart if He hasn’t already. There’s lots of down time and little entertainment – so there’s little to distract him from the quiet voice of his God. I am hoping that his quest for manhood turns into a quest to know God better. In doing so, he’ll end up with both. My prayers often fly up to my God requesting safety for my son. I am proud of him and his desire to serve our God by serving his country. Though I miss him and am concerned for his safety, I am glad he is turning out to be the man I had anticipated so many years ago. When I first saw the picture of a little orphan boy from Korea, little did I know that he would turn out to be one of America’s honored men. God is good.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
I have made it my goal while living here on earth to lay up treasures in heaven. This short span of time that I call my life on earth is not all I consider. Yes, I want to live a good, productive life while here, but my main concern is Eternity. Eternity will last a whole lot longer than my mere 70 years here. That is what I live for.
I realized a long time ago that the only “things” that I can take to heaven with me are people. I can take 15 of my children with me – both those whom I actually gave birth to (2), and those who I’ve adopted into my family (13). I can think of no other better goal in life than to take my children home with me to heaven.
That said, now you know my reasoning behind the ultimate discipleship – adoption. I am doing what Christ did, inviting lost souls into my family to partake of Christ’s goodness. He adopted people into His family and called them His own. How can I do less? He put no conditions on His adoption other than that which is required in salvation (believing on His finished work at Calvary, acknowledging we are sinners, asking forgiveness, placing Him on the throne of our lives). I wish to parallel His example of adoption in my family – to give others what He has given me so they may know Him. Though I didn’t require salvation to enter our family, I did present it to each one of my children, hoping they would receive it. We look at adoption as an extreme form of discipleship. We not only offered salvation and training toward godliness, but we committed to being a discipler for each of our “disciples” for the rest of our lives.
Christ took in people who needed Him, dusted them off, set them on their feet and gave them His name. I am one of those He’s adopted. Yes, I’ve failed Him. No, I’ve not always done what He’s expected of me. Yes, I’ve disappointed Him. But I’m still His and He doesn’t regret taking me in and calling me His own. He keeps forgiving me. I didn’t have to change my behavior to be considered His, but I did because I love Him. I didn’t have to be perfect or follow His ways to be in His family, but I did because He bought me and I belong to Him. I’ll always belong to Him no matter what I do or don’t do.
Though some may not understand why or how, we have committed to follow Christ regardless of the cost. The cost in some instances has been high, but nevertheless we are sticking by what He has told us to do. Along with the “costs” have been immeasurable blessings that I believe only someone who has had a family like ours can receive. Is it worth it? Well, you answer that yourself. To most, it wouldn’t be worth it, obviously, since not many do it. Even if we never saw “results” from sacrificing ourselves for the children of others, we’d know the peace of mind that comes from knowing we tried to do what Christ did.
Mt 10:42 “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
Mt 18:10 “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”
Mt 18:14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”