"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1 Story, 2 Photos, 3 Things I'm Thankful For

~One Story~

         Christmas 2009: Long story short, my parents had been feeling God's prompting to adopt again (I already had six siblings from Russia). This time though, we felt drawn to a different agency than we had previously used: Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project. As I perused the agency's blog, which contained short bios of some of the kids, I suddenly found my brother. That's all there was to it. Mind you, I don't make decisions quickly: I ponder options, weigh pros and cons, and deliberate before finally deciding whether I agree with something. Yet as soon as I saw that dimpled smile, I was utterly convinced that was my brother.

          I began dropping hints galore; casually mentioning the need for another boy in our girl-dominated family; proclaiming that I liked the name "Nikolai"; leaving the blog post about the 10 year old up on the computer screen for the next parent who happened by; and most often of all, putting on the song "All I want for Christmas" by Steven Curtis Chapman. My most energetic efforts, though were turned to prayer. "Oh God, please let us be Nikolai's family," I prayed dozens of times.

        Christmas 2011: the same dimpled grin that captured my heart two years before delighted me this Christmas as Nikolai, now my brother, enjoyed Christmas Day with the enthusiasm that he brings to every single day. His laugh is infectious and frequent; his spirit resilient; his heart affectionate. Though wounded and betrayed by those closest to him in his short lifetime, Nikolai is willing to trust us. I'm so grateful God answered my prayer and gave me the chance to be Nikolai's big sister.

~Two Photos~
The contents of a wonderful surprise package from a dear Alaskan "sister."

Oksana wears sunglasses everywhere these days; Dad calls her "Hollywood." Right now she speaks a language of her own that is pretty much English and Russian every other word.

~3 Things I'm Thankful For~

I have way more than three things to be thankful for, but three goes along with the number theme of this post! So here they are:

  1. A month with our goofy, energetic Jaynie! It's so great to have her home for a time, and I'm relishing a growing closeness thanks to the fact that as of earlier this year, Jaynie and I are now sisters in Christ. It's been wonderful to watch her grow as a new Christian!
  2. A break in school-though I love learning, I've been very much enjoying a chance to relax, spend time with family, catch up on emails and reading, and more time to dive into my favorite Book-the Bible!
  3. More time with Dad! He took a week off for Christmas, and we are all making the most of more time with our goofy, godly, wise, handsome, intelligent Dad. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Wish Come True

It seems only too appropriate to post a brand new video from the Piano Guys (but this video is all cello!) the day that

Jaynie Comes Home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excited would be quite an inadequate word to describe the emotion and happiness pulsing through the house right now. We can't wait to have our silly Jaynie-girl with us: home for Christmas!

I hope everyone reading this is as blessed as I am this Christmas season (warning: that's almost too much blessing to handle at one time!)


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Excellent Book with an Odd Title

As wonderful as marriage is, it is not the key to lasting joy and happiness: God is!
(Credit goes to Lauren Laplante for the photo) 
        I've often felt shy and awkward discussing the subject of "singleness" and future marriage. There are some pitfalls to avoid in talking about this subject (ha! particularly with unmarried men), but the truth is, the "unmarried" days are a gift from God as well: a gift that can open doors for unique opportunities to serve Him; a gift of time in which to grow as Christians; and even a gift of potential loneliness that can teach us to appreciate our future spouse all the more.

          And so, on that subject, I just finished reading an excellent book with an odd title. It's called, "Why Isn't a Pretty Girl Like You Married (and other helpful comments)" by Nancy Wilson. I'll admit I've felt a little goofy carrying it around (let's just say the title can spark some unique conversations with complete strangers...) but as the old saying goes, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

          This book has proven to hold Biblical thoughts on living contentedly and joyfully in the Christian community while unmarried. Wilson emphasizes the fact that it is not wrong to desire marriage--in fact that desire is a God-given one. However, taking any desire and turning it into an idol, including a wish to be married, will only result in a discontented empty Christian who is ill-equipped to serve or glorify God.

          The book was a quick read, but each chapter was well organized and packed with Scripture and practical examples. Some of the chapter titles give a glimpse of the content:
 "Unmarried Women in the Covenant Community,"
"Is this really God's best?"
 "Don't pretend to be Happy,"
 "Dressing with a Worldview,"
 "Guard your Heart,"
 and "Setting Standards of Personal Holiness," name a few.

One of my favorite chapters, though, was "Cheerfulness is Good Medicine," and one of my favorite sections was this:
          "If an unmarried woman is glum, she will certainly take that glumness with her into marriage. Even if she thinks the reason for her sadness is the fact of her unmarried state, after she is married she will find new reasons to be unhappy. We are to rejoice in the Lord, not in our circumstances. Our reason for cheerfulness is found in Him, not in any situation or creature. 

          In other words, for every Christian, the source of our happiness is God, and the direction of our happiness is toward Him as well. He bestows a spirit of joy upon us, and we return it to Him in our praise and thanksgiving. The unmarried woman must make use of God's grace to walk in a spirit of joy and cheerfulness, paying attention to her demeanor and conduct, striving to please God and to be a source of comfort and blessing to those around her. This is a duty for all Christians of course, but I am making particular application here for those women without the joys of a husband and children. It would be easy to slip into a negative mindset, and this is unhealthy, unbiblical, undisciplined, and unattractive. A cheerful attitude is a grace that bestows loveliness." 
                                             ~Nancy Wilson, "Why isn't a Pretty Girl Like You Married?" pg.60.

Whether it is God's will for me to be married or not, I thought those words were helpful! And now my brain is melting down, so I will go to bed. If you don't "see" me again before then, a very Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all!


Thursday, December 15, 2011


I get a break from textbooks!!!! Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love to learn, but I was ready for a break from assignments. Ready to stop telling my siblings, "I'm sorry, I don't have time to be with you." Ready to read something other than textbooks. Ready to help my parents more. Ready to sleep a little more!

Here's some things I've been enjoying in the last few days:

  • Baking dozens of Christmas cookies with my siblings.
  • Playing Christmas duets with my violin-playing sisters.
  • Reading..and reading...and some more reading! I've gotten the chance to dig into the Word more, particularly in the book of Hebrews. I've also been reading Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Holiness by J.C. Ryle, and a book by Nancy Wilson about living in a joyful and contented way while unmarried. All have been good! 
  • Running some errands--some are fun Christmas errands!
  • Getting back into Scripture memorization. Watch out, there's a post about the blessings of hiding His word in our hearts coming up soon...
  • Learning more about some exciting possibilities post-graduation next year. 
What do you enjoy doing during the Christmas season? 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Need a Little Hair Gel?

Sometimes, it's the little things in life that make me laugh. I love that God has given us so many things in life to laugh and smile and be joyful about, from big things like salvation, to little things like the funny tuft between a donkey's ears.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not Home Yet

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, 
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world"
- CS Lewis

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Baby Like No Other-Video

Now that we've officially entered the Christmas season, I thought I'd share a Christy Nockels song that I've actually been enjoying for a few months now. It is incredible to pause and remind myself that the tiny baby that entered the world in a dirty lonely stable that night so long ago was...

a Prince on a Rescue Mission.

A King set on rescuing His people, no matter the cost.

God Himself intent on redeeming the glory due Him.

A Son willing to be obedient to the point of death.

God and yet also Man, ready to suffer to redeem His creation.

The Word of Life come to fulfill all that was promised of Him in His Word, the Bible.

A Great High-Priest ready and able to propitiate for the sins of all.

A Lamb prepared for slaughter so that the angel of death might pass over His chosen people.

A Lion come to conquer the sting of death and vanquish the prince of darkness.

Is this baby your Savior? Is He your hope for eternal life?

"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." ~John 14:6

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm Still Alive!

Hello friends! Yes, I still live and breathe-though I wasn't sure I was going to make it through that 20 page final paper. I'm glad to be done with that! Now just two more finals and then it will be Christmas for real!

To prove that I survived the month of November, I'll post a couple pics from our recent trip up North for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful time! Hopefully I'll get back into the routine of blogging before long.

The best part: Anna and her husband Aaron joined us on vacation!! Oh and of course their baby (Pixie, as we're calling him/her) came along with the new mommy. I'm looking forward to being "favorite aunt."

My sweet and silly littlest sister, who absolutely loves snow.
 Way back when Aaron first started courting Anna, Joe dubbed him "Spiderman," claiming he bore a strong resemblance to Peter Parker. Aaron has consistently denied this, but when he started nimbly scaling this rock outcropping, we all told him that the truth was out. Spiderman it is.

 Anna and Daria hugging. Anna's friendship has meant a lot to Daria as she has adjusted so bravely to a new life in America.

 It was a grey chilly day, but we enjoyed the snow and the beauty of the hike.

The family Gigglebox!

 Aaron and Anna graciously demonstrated different "levels" of romance: this picture was rated "G" (Don't worry, they were good in front of us unmarried children)

Alexander: "Aaron, you ready for this snowball???"

 Oksana and Joe

That's all for now, folks.