Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's that time of year again...

Yes, a new year is just around the corner...2010.

I was reading back through my blog entry from January 2009...when I wrote about the benefits of goal-setting.  So I dug out my daytimer and found the goals I had written for myself. I wanted to see how many of those goals I had actually implemented and attained.  
That's part of the reason I love written goals so much.  When they are written with specific guidelines, one can use them to assess whether one has achieved them or not.  And why write a goal unless you plan on achieving it???

Over the next couple days, I will be reviewing my goals from last year and refining some unfinished ones. And then I will start creating my new goals for 2010.  Once again, I will refer to a fabulous book by Anne Ortlund, Disciplines of The Beautiful Woman, for insight and practical ideas for ordering my life & home. Josh & I will discuss some ideas as we plan for our home & children.  And most importantly we will be seeking the Lord and allowing Him to direct our plans and shape our motivations for the coming year.  

And we will be referencing these wonderful questions for contemplation by Donald Whitney. We have used these before to help guide discussion as we engage the new year and new goals. You can check it out on his blog, found at our church's new website! (yipee!!! it's still under construction, but is accessible. Check it out!)

Ohhhh, I get so excited to start a new year.  I have been so overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord in the past 12 months. And in honor of His goodness, I think I'll review some of the highlights of 2009.

-Joshua had the opportunity to be in school at Western Seminary in Portland.  His time has been marked by solid teaching and lifelong mentors.

-We lived with Carey & Tarah until February...making memory after memory.  We were exceedingly blessed by living in their home and getting to spend time with them daily.

-The kids & I returned to Leavenworth and lived with Greg & Candy (Josh's parents) while Josh continued his schooling by commuting between Portland (for the week) and Leavenworth (for the weekend).  My in-laws are incredible...what can I say.

-I started back to work, thankful for a job that was simply "available" and had been kept "on hold for me", even after living out of state for months.  The ministry and influence I get to have there allows my faith to grow and be challenged.

-Grace Covenant Church, our growing church plant, blossomed by God's grace and has been a source of great encouragement, spiritual growth and joy. The Lord has blessed and continued to lead Josh and the elders as they follow (and keep up with) what the Lord is doing!

-Josh finished school in May and moved home permanently to be with us (what a happy day!). 

-Ella Mae turned 4 in June and we marvel at the gifts & abilities the Lord has blessed her with.  Not a day goes by that we aren't overwhelmed and thankful for her little life.  She is full of encouragement, sympathy and always has a song in her heart.

-We have enjoyed living with Greg & Candy, sharing in the joys of spring & summer in Leavenworth. My mind is full of great memories of trips to the farmer's market, adventures in wild remodeling, bears in the front yard and the excitement on my children's faces as they observed deer outside their windows almost every day.  

-In May, we went through the loss of a little child, who we will get to see in heaven someday.  The miscarriage was a sad and painful experience for our entire family and we are so thankful for the prayers of the saints and the tangible help extended to us during that time. 

-Soon after, we were overjoyed at the news of another pregnancy!  The Lord chose to bless our womb again and we wait with anticipation to meet this little girl. (coming in March..)

-Carey & Tarah joined the life in Leavenworth and have been a wonderful addition to our home and our church family.  Blessing others wherever they are, we are priveleged to have them so near.  They are gracious, flexible, servant-hearted, Godly people who are a joy to call "family". Their daughter Niyah was born in July and will soon be running around with her cousins.

-Levi turned 3 in November and is growing to be quite a wonderful young man.  He is full of compassion and care for his sister, a joy for the outdoors and a great desire to work.  We are so thankful that the Lord placed him in our family.

-Josh & I had the swine flu (in the fall) and are so thankful for our swift and safe recovery and the protection for our children and unborn child.  

-Challenges in our pregnancy (namely placenta previa and complete bedrest), have been quite challenging as of late.  But once again, we have been overwhelmed by the care and incredible help we have recieved from our family and friends. They have been the "hands" of the Lord in our life...and we are eternally thankful. 

I know I am leaving out so many specific events.  But it is good to recall and see the hand of the Lord in each circumstance.  May you take some time in these final days of 2009 to look back at the weaving of God's story in your life and the lives of those around you. 

Happy New Year...from our thankful family to yours.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Don't waste your...

In a recent blog post by Justin Taylor, he provided a timely link to John Piper's piece on "Don't Waste Your Cancer".  It was written by Piper back in 2006 during his battle with prostate cancer.  Taylor has offered it to the blogging community as a reflection in light of the new diagnosis and challenges facing Pastor Matt Chandler and his family.

The following outline from that talk could be read a million different ways.  Simply insert the form of suffering or challenge you are going through for the word "cancer".  (i.e. bedrest, disability, handicap, unforseen health problem, etc...)  Although many of the points are medical in nature, the concepts & truths will still ring true.

  1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
  2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.
  3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.
  4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.
  5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
  6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.
  7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.
  8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.
  9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
  10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.
  This post was of great significance for me I would consider the last two days some of the hardest for me emotionally during this time.  I know you hear me say that sufferings are for good and God is sovereign.  That is something I know to be true. 
But some days are harder than others. Especially when I fail to take every thought captive and defeat it with that truth.  There are times when the circumstances of this whole situation can be overwhelming.  My sinful nature battles to sink my heart and overwhelm my mind with pity, depression & distrust in the Lord.

And it is times like these that I continue to "preach to myself" the wonderful truths in the Word that keep me on track.

One of the most gracious things the Lord has done for me during this time on bedrest, is to remind me of the sufferings & challenges in the lives of others.  It keeps my mind focused on the things that are important, eternal & of true value.  And it keeps my heart active in prayer for the many in this world who face challenges far more daunting than my own. It keeps one from slipping into the miry clay of self-pity & selfish orientation.

However, it can be downright depressing to sit and look at the state of the world we live in.  And it would overwhelm our souls, if we did not know the One who is in control and did not have the promise of eternal life with Him.

My heart aches for the Chandler family.  Their young children, his wife, their church family...all are faced with deep pain and suffering that no one should have to bear.  But they do not bear it alone.  Their faith in the midst of trial is already a testimony to the hundreds who are following their story.

I've been reading a short biography on Martin Luther and was shocked to read the severity of medical problems he endured in his life.  One wouldn't know it from his prolific and exceptional writings.  He had a deep love for the Scriptures and a desire to bring the church back to that place as well.  He said that suffering, or as he called it "tribulation", was the "touchstone" to understanding the Scriptures.  Read below as he describes it's importance.

"I want you to know how to study theology in the right way.  I have practiced this method myself...Here you will find three rules.  They are frequently proposed throughout Psalm 119 and run thus: oratio, meditatio, tentatio (prayer, meditation, tribulation)....[These rules] teach you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God's word is: it is wisdom supreme."

So in days of suffering...cancer, handicaps, temptation, trials, untimely death, unforseen challenges, wayward children, earthquakes, wars...may we be comforted by God's word.

And may we find peace in the knowledge that He is more powerful than any trial, more glorious than any cure and more gracious than we can imagine.  I pray we will not waste these days that are given to us.  They are numbered and by God's grace, they can bring Him glory.

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day...

Merry Christmas to all! 
May you have a wonderful day of joyous celebration for the birth of our Messiah...

In our house, my kid's exclaimed this morning...Merry Christmas!
And Happy Birthday Jesus!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-21

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Prayers of an excellent wife...

A last minute Christmas gift idea for the married women in your life (wife, mom, sister, friend...).  Prayers of an Excellent Wife by Andrew Case looks like a wonderful read.  I know this is on my list! Check out the reviews and see what you think. Although I have not read it comes highly recommended and appears to be Biblically saturated & theologically sound. Sounds good to me!

I have been challenged as of late to deepen my prayer life. (Long hours of silence & solitude can do that to you!)  And I have been most convicted on my desire to be in specific, regular and intentional prayer for my husband.  A good friend of mine has been praying for her husband daily for over 15 years.  Her dedication to prayer is reflected in her marriage, her children and the state of her home. 

Although one does not need a book to tell you how to pray, there is wisdom in having something like the aforementioned book to get you started and keep you on track. I hope to find this wonderful resource in my stocking this week. (hint, hint, hint Joshua!)

Merry Christmas! it might be a little too late to order this one for this year. But it would still make a great gift!  How 'bout a gift certificate for it?  Or an I.O.U.?  Maybe a birthday? :o)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Encouragement for child-rearing...

In my days of mandatory"bed-resting", I am getting the opportunity to read some very encouraging and challenging things.  Listening to sermons online, reading blogs and daily getting washed in the Word are all wonderful blessings of this time of challenge. (My husband has even helped design a "syllabus" for me to stay on task...I love the way he leads!) I realize these things would be much more challenging had I not been required to sit and be still! (Maybe that's what I am supposed to be learning..hmmm.) :o)

I pray the habits, knowledge & truth I can hide in my heart during these days will be encouragement and strength to my soul.  So that when my life's pace resumes to "high-speed-mommy-of-2-toddlers-and-a-newborn", I will have a deeper well to draw from.

In some recent reading, I found this article by John Piper. It is a short exhortation and quick read...and well worth it.

In the early days of child-rearing, there are times when one may feel that they are requiring their small children to obey only out of duty.  Yes, we aim to reach the heart-motive of our child, but at the age of 2, that is sometimes harder to discern.

This article was very encouraging, insightful and downright helpful. It provided some encouragment for this young mommy to stay the course in teaching, training and disciplining my small children. Some days, one feels that the reminding and training and teaching (and did I say reminding?) may be in vain. But no, we are to be faithful to teach and admonish our children, so that when they are old, they will "rise up and call her blessed...". (Proverbs 31: 28) and their hearts will be turned to Christ.

The truths we can place in their hearts now, by means of instruction & discipline, will reside there and be a "well-stocked pantry" for us to reach into when they are older. Phrases they have heard, prayers they have repeated, hymns they have sung...will all be resources for their little brains as they grow in their knowledge & understanding.

So it is not a waste to read the Bible to them...even if it seems "over their heads". It is not unhelpful for them to sit in church and worship with us...even if they cannot understand the sermon & it's theological depth.  It is not asking too much for them to memorize scripture...even if they don't grasp the concept of grace found in the passage.
These habits are in fact, beneficial. The children come to expect them and they grow into the fiber of their everyday lives...thus proving to these young hearts that these things are important...significant...worthwhile.

So as a young mom, I will continue on...requiring of my children obedience, discipline & order. Not because I desire to raise up legalism in the heart of my children, but rather, because I desire to cultivate in them the foundation of manners, respect, service and restraint that will do them good and be combined with grace as they grow in their understanding of Christ, the Cross & our imperative charge to reach the lost.

Blessings to you, my fellow young good friends. May you be encouraged today to stay the course and pray fervently for the hearts of your young children. May He be glorified in their little lives.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

***Announcement: It's a...

The McPherson family...Josh, Sharon, EllaMae & Levi...are pleased to announce that they are all looking forward to the arrival of another little...

            ***girl*** grow our precious family.

Now the name search begins...for us this is a very important part of their little lives.  As my husband puts it, "we want their names to serve as a sort of 'anchor' in the midst of life...".  

As many of you know, Ella Mae was lavished upon in the name department.  Her given name is Audra Mae Isabella McPherson.

Audra means: overcomer of many difficulties...
Mae means: gift of God...
Isabella (or Ella) means: beautiful...

While her nickname, Ella Mae means: beautiful gift of God...

...very fitting, I might add.

Levi means: harmony ("At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today.  That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance..." Deuteronomy 10:8&9)

Gregory means: vigilant & watchful (and is in honor of his Grandpa Gregory McPherson)

He will be reminded, everytime he hears his name, of his spiritual heritage and the legacy of his grandpa.

And so the search has started...with prayer and we hope to find a name to fit this lady and the circumstances that have defined her life thusfar, that she may bring glory to God and honor to His name.

Thanks for the prayers for her little life.  Please continue to pray that she stays in her small "womb-home" until the proper time.  We would like it if she remained inside until she is at least 36 weeks along (February 8th or so). For this would be best for her lungs & development. 

Trusting and rejoicing,
(for the McPherson family)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." 
Romans 15:13

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some "life" reading...

I was checking out Justin Taylor's blog this morning, in my bedrest state...and came upon this very insightful and contemplative article. Written by a pro-choice writer for the NY Magazine, it speaks of the upcoming generations view of abortion and the debate & challenges of the pro-choice argument. I would encourage you to read it in it's entirety.

The abortion debate/discussion has always been close to my heart. I have a great desire to work or volunteer at our local clinic (First Choice) here in Wenatchee when my circumstances allow.
Having gone through a prenatal diagnosis that many would consider a "good reason" to consider abortion, I feel I have some personal interest in the lives of women that face the same "dilemma".

When Josh & I found out about Ella's diagnosis of Spina Bifida...we were 20 weeks pregnant. During some initial tests, they also thought she might have some "chromosomal anomalies" that could potentially be fatal either before birth or shortly after.

In our shocked state, we were referred to Seattle to help us gain information and plan for her matter what. Or so we thought.

Our first appointment, we were told, was to be with a genetic counselor. Having never been through this, we had no idea what this appointment meant. We were ready to get information about Ella's diagnoses and then move on, in preparation for what we knew was going to be a challenging birth-day.

We were not prepared for the discussion that followed. The very nice woman, the genetic counselor, was there to tell us our risks for future pregnancies and more importantly, to tell us that we still had the option to end the pregnancy. I think it was phrased as the "compassionate thing to do".

Since all of Ella's diagnoses were unsure (Spina Bifida was the only one they knew for sure) and could not be confirmed until some chromosome tests were resulted, she said we had a narrow window to make our decision. Abortions in Washington at that time could not be done past 23 weeks, and at this point we were 21 weeks along. Thats 5 months into a pregnancy...the baby weighs about a pound and has every human body system working. The baby gets hiccups, can suck it's thumb, kicks like crazy and looks very much like a little version of mom & dad.

After she had approached the subject of abortion for the fifth time, we told her our discussion there was through. Unless she had something of greater importance to discuss with us, we had no more need of her "information".

Shaken and sad at the tenacity of her suggestions, we left the office and headed home with nothing but heavy hearts and a sadness for others who had sat through a similar experience in this woman's office.

We thought about single women, young, with little support...facing the daunting task of having a child with "severe disabilities", being told that abortion would be the "merciful thing to do". I am thankful for a supportive family, the trust I have in our sovereign God and the peace & blessing I had about the coming of this child.

Many women who consider abortion do not have such stability in place in their lives. They have no hope in Christ. Many are unmarried and all alone. Some are just kids themselves...15 or 16 year old high schoolers. Some have been through rape or abusive relationships. Some are mentally disabled; others are homeless. Some are in school full-time, single moms with 3 other children and an "unplanned" pregnancy. The situations are tricky, complex, and usually quite sad.

But the decision to end a little life is even more sad and the long-term effects even more devastating.

As I lay here and type...the computer is perched on my growing belly. The little one inside of me is kicking, causing my computer to rock back & forth, as if to say, "I'm here mom"...and "I'll see you soon".

So if you haven't thought of this topic lately, I would encourage you to do so.

Pray for our legislators and those who work to protect the life of unborn children.
Pray for our pregnancy resource clinics (like Wenatchee's First Choice) and the wonderful people that work there and deal with the real faces of women facing the decision of abortion.
And pray for the women who are dealing with this even now...the decision, the ramifications, the struggle, the pressures, and for some...the long-term sadness that they ended the life of their child.

If there is a tangible way for you to be involved in this...writing about your experience, talking with others, giving money to our local clinic or helping a young mother in need...I pray you will.

Everyday, I get to see my daughter. Remember, this beautiful little girl...full of life, personality and the one who wouldn't be here, had I done the "compassionate thing to do" for her.

I cannot imagine my life without hers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A little life...

Well, I am writing this entry from a place I hadn't planned on being this evening...
but then again, when does one plan on being in the hospital?

Yes, I am sitting in my room on the Labor & Delivery unit...officially on bedrest.

This morning, I was experiencing some more symptoms of this saga we are in called complete "placenta previa". I was diagnosed at 19 weeks and was immediately put on "decreased activity" and had to stop working at my job at the hospital. But for the last 6 weeks, we have been overjoyed because I have not had any complications or symptoms.

We were encouraged thinking that maybe this thing would right itself...
...but no.

Our doctor was here this evening and wants me to stay the night for monitoring. Oh, and I am officially on complete bedrest.

Complete bedrest...what does that really mean?

Definition: in the morning I may get up and go the bathroom...maybe take a shower, then back to bed/couch to lie down...maybe sit up for lunch...then lay down for nap...up to bathroom....lay down...etc.

Hmmmm...did I miss the part that said take care of my 2 toddlers, do laundry, vacuum, go to Christmas parties, make dinner, go to the grocery store, team with my husband to run our home???

The length of time for this new "schedule" is yet to be determined, but we are pretty sure it will be for the duration of the pregnancy.

I am only 26 weeks.

And the other kicker is that I cannot be at home to be on bedrest...I have to stay in Wenatchee. Placenta previa is so unpredictable & potentially life-threatening to me and babe, that I cannot even be as far away as Leavenworth.

The consequences of these new restrictions are fairly hard to comprehend at the moment. But I could not be more thankful for an unshakable peace that has been on me since we arrived here this afternoon.

The Lord is constant & unwavering as He supplies all our needs. I am so thankful that the life of our little one is in His hands...not mine.

The baby is moving, kicking...a whir of activity. Heartbeat pounding along at 150 healthy beats/minute. A little life...growing & developing...a miracle only designed by a brilliant Creator.

And so I am overwhelmed by the things I have to be thankful for this evening...
-thankful for that little beating heart I hear on the monitor...
-thankful that my husband is home from Europe...
-thankful that I am surrounded by loving friends & family...
-thankful for Uncle & Auntie and Grandma & Grandpa...for their competent and loving care of our 2 children during this time...
-thankful that this little one was not born today...for we might have only held him for a moment, before he went to be with Jesus...
-thankful for the prayers of many saints...for they are not in vain, but an encouragement to my heart and a petition to our Heavenly Father...

I pray that a thankful & trusting heart will be mine during this season we are now in...for there is no other way I desire to be as our Lord leads the way.

I will be updating as I can...for now, I will be following doctor's orders, being on bedrest & letting the Lord continue to create this little life inside me.

With joy,

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Harvest of Traditions...

Last Friday night, 84 women from Grace Covenant Church gathered for an evening of great food, wonderful fellowship and the challenge to keep Christ at the center of our traditions. The turn out was incredible (oops, ran out of cornbread!)...and the outcome was, I think, about the same.

I was so blessed to hear from our 2 speakers that evening, Linda & Susan. They both did a wonderful job of sharing their hearts for our encouragement and God's glory. Thank you for showing some Titus 2 qualities!!! We all enjoyed and appreciated it.

And I couldn't be more impressed with the people who volunteered their time, creative brains and cute stuff to make the night just that much more special. A huge thank you to my main crew...the elder's & deacon's wives of our church. You (and your families) were all a huge help and the evening would never have made it without you. And thank you's to all the people who "stopped by" to help for a even just a little all know who you are and I thank you.

I am so excited to see the next phases of our ladies' gatherings. The next one is November 21st and I couldn't be more pumped.

We are using a book called "Becoming God's True Woman", formerly called "Biblical Womanhood in the Home". It is edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and is packed with God-centered, complementarian-rooted teaching for women in today's skewed and feminist world.

We will be discussing the first chapter on "Femininity" by Carolyn Mahaney, well-known speaker and wife of C.J. Mahaney (Covenant Life Church).
Our hope by our monthly meetings is to restore some Biblical perspective on the glorious role and high calling of womanhood and to effectively equip our women to engage the culture with the information and knowledge needed to spread the name of Christ to all people.
Anyway, just wanted to share the delightful outcome of our first GCC Noble Women event..."Harvest of Traditions". We are blessed and thankful. (sorry, no pics...coming soon!)
Will keep you posted on the following meetings and maybe even some highlights from the book!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ella's Singing Debut

A couple of weeks ago, GCC had family camp in Easton, WA. It was a wonderful, albeit rainy, time with the people of our church community. One night was "GCC's Got Talent"...and Ella had been asking to sing since she heard about it.

Here's how it went...

...followed by a standing ovation.

Proud mommy had some tears at the end. And proud brother did too because he didn't get to "play the dwums". Maybe next year Levi.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The pace of summer...

Summer is such an awesome season...

We have been blessed in recent days with warm-evening fellowship with friends, hard work in the hot sun and the refreshment of cold peach iced tea. We have also been experiencing the joy of being with family...

This time of living with Josh's parents is proving to be a precious one. Our children are logging invaluble hours with grandpa & grandma...reading stories, wrestling, hammering nails and making muffins. It has been a time of creating countless memories for our children (and grandma & grandpa) to enjoy for many years.

We know this is only for a short time and so we are enjoying the long days of summer...for we know they are going to be over too soon.

Yesterday, Levi was making up a song as we rode in the went something like this:

"I love my mommy,
I love my daddy,
I love my Ella Mae,
I love my grandma,
I love my grandpa,
I love my hammer..."

He loves living with grandpa (and grandma) and his favorite thing to do is "do some work" with grandpa. Wherever grandpa is working...on the tractor, hammering nails, hanging doors...Levi is there. A little shadow, watching his every move.

It's priceless.

Thank you Dad & Mom McPherson, for having us here in your home...for loving and mentoring your grandchildren, for sharing your "space", for teaching us through your examples...
we love you and are treasuring this time together.

Ahhhhhh...sweet summer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thinking about December...

(Ella with one of her favorite babies...A.W. This was last summer. Aiden was just 3 months old.)

December 15 was to be the date.

I found out while Josh was in his final push of this semester of school. He was in Oregon for 10 days straight...pumping out the papers, cramming in the Greek and generally trying to survive finals at the graduate level.

I was pregnant.

We were overjoyed and excited to increase our little family by another "two feet". :o)

I was feeling pretty well...except for all-day nausea and some good ole' fatigue. But having two little ones to care for proved to be a good distraction.

So our 10 week appointment arrived, followed by the ultrasound.

Many old feelings flooded back during the ultrasound, as the tech grew quiet during the procedure. We had found out about Ella's diagnosis in the same way. The tech does not have the authority to make a diagnosis...and her silent demeanor was an indicator that something was wrong.

I actually felt sorry for her...she wouldn't look me in the eye and she really wanted to get out of the room in a hurry. I don't blame her.

She didn't want to be the one to tell me that the pregnancy was over.

A miscarriage.

It became reality over the next couple days as lab tests and my own body comfirmed the loss.

A week of physical exhaustion...due to blood loss and pain, found me back at the doctor's office. He was concerned for my health and future pregnancies.

So after being in the doctor's office at 2:30, I was in surgery by 4. I had to have a D & C.

Graciously, my recovery was uncomplicated. With much care and help from family and friends (everything from food to childcare and everything in can we ever say thank you), I was back to full-time wife & mama in a week.

During my recovery time (of quiet rest at Nana & Papa's house...thank you both), I was journaling...praying...reflecting on the whole experience. And some things have stayed with me (as only they can during such times of trial)...

-that the Lord in his grace and mercy would choose to take my little one He saw fit. I can only imagine the ache of mothers who have lost their little ones at 6 months, full-term or in the middle of childhood.

-that I am already immeasurably blessed by the 2 little ones the Lord has entrusted to our care thus far...

-that if I was already this attached and devastated by the loss of this little one (only 11 weeks along), what agony and pain must women feel who choose to end their little one's life through abortion...

-that the Lord is still sovereign and the same time.

-that I have a renewed passion to press into God and pour into my husband & children...while I have the energy, strength and health...

There have been hard days, encouraging days, faith-filled days and days of mourning. But it is with a joy-filled heart that I write today.

Our omnipotent Lord knows so much better than I...and I am trusting Him day by day to sustain, lead and use the events of our life to bring Him glory.

So today, on this 85 degree day in June...I am thinking about December...

...and about a little one I will get to meet in heaven someday.

We love you little one.

Mommy, Daddy, Big Sister Ella Mae and Big brother Levi

Monday, May 25, 2009

Beautiful girl...

Just wanted to post the most recent pics of our little girl, who is fast approaching birthday number four.
These fabulous pictures were taken, once again, by our friend and truly gifted photographer Jocelyn Edlin. Who uses her camera to bless many.

We had the joy of hosting her and her sister in our home last weekend. Jocelyn blessed our church family with her creative gifts and we can't wait til she comes again.

Thank you Jocelyn...we loved hosting you and spending some time with you and your sister! We hope you will return soon.

And thank you again for these wonderful pictures...we cannot pick a favorite.

(all photos were taken by Jocelyn And used with permission...please check her website out and use her to bless your family with pictures that will be cherished for years to come!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Our Daily Bread

Bread is an easy topic for me to talk about.

Most people know for instance that I am a "card-carrying gold-level 4-star" super fan of Great Harvest Bread Co. (now conveniently located in Wenatchee!). If you haven't been there...please go and check them out. I want them to thrive in Wenatchee so they will be here for generations. (ok, so maybe that's a little dramatic...)

If I could go there every week, I would. I enjoy the aroma of the bakery and the selection to be made when I walk in the door. I usually do not make it home with an intact loaf of bread.

I eat it almost every day.

And it is so filling, hearty, delicious...

And as of late, my trips to the bakery have been reminding me of my time in God's word...the "food" that should fill my soul. It may sound funny, but let me share with you my thoughts...

Our church started a "read through the Bible in a year" challenge this year. I am remiss to say that in my many years of knowing Christ as Savior, I have failed to ever read His Word all the way through.

This is more than embarrassing. So this is the year to correct that wrong. And I am loving it.

As I started the journey, I received some good advice from a close mentor..."Do not be discouraged if you get behind a couple of days. Don't look at the date...just keep reading".

And of course, between my traveling husband, 2 small children and the pace of life (lame excuses)...I am a little behind. But not discouraged. In fact I couldn't be more encouraged.

Life these past couple weeks has proved to be quite challenging to my Bible reading. I ended up going for a number of days where I didn't get to read the Word.

I could not believe the impact it had on me. It had become such a welcome time of my day...a time to soak up some of the Word, to see the story of Christ weaved into the Old Testament, to read familiar passages again. My whole schedule and pace was "off" when I didn't make God's Word a priority.

In fact, it made me feel like I was "wasting away" so to speak, when I was without the sustenance of the Word every day. I thought of the simple need for bread, to fill us, nourish us and energize us. And I was overjoyed to find that the Word had become so important to me that I needed it to feel full, complete, and nourished.

This is a joyous gift from the Holy Spirit as I have asked Him to make the Word come alive in my reading times...that it would become so precious to me, that I would not want to go a day without it.

And so it is.

The scriptures are a shelter & anchor in the midst of suffering...
they are a guide & resource for parenting...
they are a comfort & help in discouragement...
and they are a sword & spear to combat the enemy and sin.

I should not go a day without them. I should commit as much as possible to memory. And I must pass on a passion for them to my children.

For it is life-giving, sustaining and nourishing for their souls. And mine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Latest endeavors...

Here's the thoughts and happenings of the McPherson clan as of late:

1. First of all...a belated, but no less enthusiastic, "Happy Easter...He is Risen!" to you all.

We had a wonderful Easter weekend celebrating the resurrection. It is always such a joyous day as we celebrate the event that has allowed us the gift of eternal life. Thank you Jesus.

2. We are in the final countdown of Josh finishing out this school year. He is currently in the middle of a 10 day spree of research papers, preaching finals, Greek tests and much more.

We miss him so much.

So today I am posting some pretty cute recent pics of the encourage daddy and to say that we love him. Keep it up! We love you and are so proud of you!

3. I am also posting a picture from a delightful evening last week. Some young women from our church got together to celebrate the birthdays of two special ladies, Sarah Rose and Helen Chase. We had a fabulous evening of volleyball, food (namely the "Latte Punch", more affectionately called "Buckaroo Brew") and great fellowship.

It is always so encouraging to be around women of like-minded convictions...women who can encourage one another and sharpen each other to be Godly wives, mothers and friends.

Thanks to all the ladies who could make was a wonderful evening. And to those who couldn't make it...we missed you. But will look for an opportunity to do it again soon.

4. The Lord continues to show me His infinite wisdom in His timing and His plan for my life. It seems that I am reminded almost daily that I need not fear or fret about the future, for my Lord is all-knowing and has His glory and my good in mind as He leads me.

And what could be more comforting than that?

Happy Tuesday to you all.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Music for the soul...

One of my favorite things is to hear the sound of my children's little singing voices...drifting from their bedrooms.

Things like "glowious an' mighty, yor awsum in buty" and "gwace upon gwace flows down, flows down..." (Levi) or "...that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found..." and "let your kingdom come, let your will be done, so that everyone might know your name." (Ella).

They both have such a vast repertoire of music in their little minds. Ella knows many more than her brother and has an incredible knack for retaining ALL the words and the tune. She sings when she is resting, she sings when she is playing and she makes up songs to talk to me.

Her soul is full of music.

And it is good music.

Sound, solid, Christ-centered stuff that is filling her mind and heart.

I was encouraged by a recent post on Girltalk that was helping mothers of young children find ways to preach the gospel to themselves throughout their busy days. The whole series was good...actually excellent. Their final point was "listen to gospel-centered music". (They linked directly to Sovereign Grace Music...which is a personal favorite of our household as well.)

I don't have music on all day. I relish quiet moments that are fleeting. :o)

But when I do listen to something (which means my kids are too), I want to be sure that it is going to uplift my soul and keep my mind in the right place. I don't want mindless "easy-listening", "soft-rock favorites" that leave me empty, without any hope.

I want something with words and melodies that enhance my relationship with the Lord and instill attitudes and actions of peace, joy and praise in my children.

Sounds like alot to ask from a song, doesn't it?

The song is not what saves, but it is a part of the list of good things I want "taking up space" in my children's (and my) brain.

Instead of "the wheels on the bus", we are singing "Fairest Lord Jesus"...instead of "the farmer in the dell", it's "Holy, Holy, Holy".

I love it.

And it is just one of many ways to feed my soul and more importantly...

the souls of my children.

So if you are a busy person :o)...then I would encourage you to use the gift of music God gave us as a tool to feed your soul and stimulate your mind. You can use it while you're washing dishes, playing with children or running errands. The possibilities are endless and the rewards can be great.

I wish you could hear my daughter in her bed even now..."then sings my soul, my Savior, God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art..."

That precious little voice...high and squeaky...

and beautiful.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things to unpack...

So you are probably wondering...what is taking her so long to unpack?:o)

Well, I have been thinking back through this past year and the events that took place. Starting back in April when we moved out of our home in East Wenatchee and Josh stopped real estate and started seminary.

We moved in with Greg & Candy for 4 months and then moved to Portland. Living with Carey & Tarah, Josh was in school full-time, I was coaching volleyball and Josh was commuting to GCC every weekend.

Now we have returned to Greg & Candy's while our homes are rented and Josh continues his commute weekly to Portland for school. I am back to work at the hospital and we are worshipping as a family once again at GCC.


Tiring?...maybe a little. Enjoyable?...every minute of it.

The opportunity for growth during this time has been here are a just a few things I have learned during our time in Oregon…

-For me, home is where your kids and husband are…it’s not a certain city or a specific house.

-Family is a wonderful blessing. Treasure them while you have them. Especially if you have them near.

-Don’t let your worldview get small. (Don’t get so wrapped up in your own challenges that you miss an opportunity to help someone in theirs. I am sure there is someone out there who has it worse than you.)

-Portland isn’t really as rainy as I remember

-I really, really wish that Wenatchee had a Trader Joe’s.

-The Lord truly sustains and upholds us when we completely trust in Him. He does not fail…ever.

-Change is a wonderful catalyst to increase our faith

-God created order for a very good reason and I do a lot better when I have somewhat of a “routine”…

-“Routine” does not necessarily mean “the same thing every day”
(It means that some elements are staples in your life and no matter where you are…they are a part of your day. Don’t wait until you are fully settled to have routine…make it a priority wherever you are.
Time in the Word, prayer, being with family…these things shouldn’t be affected by your “schedule” and shouldn’t go on hold while you “adjust". There will always be something new and your life will always be changing.)

-I don’t need half of the “stuff” I have accumulated in my lifetime…

-Paper plates work just as good as china…and even better, they are unbreakable and disposable.

-My hair behaves a lot better with Portland’s hard water and the moist climate…oh, well.

-Being a part of God’s church, His community, is an amazing blessing.
(It was a joy to experience fellowship with another body of believers there in Portland. And it made me miss the people of our church here…)

-Small living spaces are way easier to clean

-Small towns are really fun to live in…I like it that the bank teller knows my name, the post office woman is friends with my in-laws and my husband waves to an average of 3 people a day while we’re driving around town.

-There can be great joy in reconnecting with old friends…it’s well worth the effort.

-I love being married to my husband…he is a wonderful visionary and gifted leader who brings me along with him on his fabulous adventures.

-Communal living is a blast…sharing meal prep, dinners together every night and memories that will last a lifetime...these are only some of the benefits.

-Big cities are fun to live in…no one knows your name, there are really cool coffee shops on every corner and you can learn 3 new languages while you stand in line at Fred Meyer.

-The Lord has called my husband and I to be here in the Wenatchee Valley…serving these people and living in this community...

...and we call this “home”.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Returning to Washington...

We are officially back on "God's side of the mountains", as my husband so affectionately calls it. We made a "little" move on February 20th, bringing only the essentials...clothes, important papers, cell phones, and my food from Trader Joe's. :o)

We have been settling back into life here in Leavenworth, where we are excited to again be sharing a home with Josh's parents (although I think they feel like they are in an old Cosby show episode where the kids always come back...and they even bring their small children!) :o)

I am excited to share some things I've been learning during these days. In fact, things I've been learning over this past year. What a ride it has been...and what a blast! From April of last year until now...we have enjoyed some of the most wonderful fellowship with family, adventures in moving and growing relationships with friends, old and new.

So as I am unpacking here in Leavenworth, I will also start unpacking some of those wonderful memories to share with you. I think you will enjoy them.

Stay tuned...

P.S. Here's a couple pics of our recent days here in Washington...enjoy.

Puzzles with Nana

Snow in March?

Happy hiker at Aunt Helen's

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mentoring...the final installment

The man pictured here is one of the most wonderful examples of a husband mentoring his wife. (a little authoress bias? Nah...) If you know me well, you have heard me say that I have become the woman I am because of Christ and the amazing man I married.

Eight years ago today, my husband proposed to me on a snow-covered mountain…with surprise beach picnics, mountain-view dining and a red rose-lined path in the fresh snow…the story can rival any I have heard. (Just ask someday, and I’ll share all the amazing details!)

But that’s not where it all began…let’s go back a little further. It was our senior year at George Fox, when our courtship began. And it was then that the man I would one day marry began a lifelong commitment to mentor his bride.

His willingness to lead me, teach me and encourage me to grow have been life-changing.

He charts the course for our marriage & family…In our journey through Ella’s diagnosis, birth and ever-changing challenges, his strength and leadership were and have been paramount in the formation of my healthy and right thinking about our sovereign God and suffering.

He provides leadership and proactively plans for the future…the formation of our marriage constitution, the reshaping of our budget and his convictions on the attitudes & behavior of his children…are a few examples.

He is motivated & pro-active…staying in tune with his wife and household and staying ahead. He is not a man who would rather not be bothered in regards to “all the home-stuff” or “can’t we just deal with it when it comes up?”

Parenting challenges, financial hurdles or personal struggles are not annoying interruptions, but rather opportunities to properly lead, encourage and model for me the best way to bring glory to God in that situation.

He is vigilant…keeping watch over his family, his home and his wife. The things we read, watch, and dwell on are of great importance to him, and are topics we often discuss as we model and mentor our children.

Some of my favorite gifts are the books I’ve received from him. Titles like “The Ministry of Motherhood”, “Biblical Womanhood in the Home”, “Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God” and “Future Grace”, have filled my mind and encouraged my heart. Through these intentional gifts, he is often the one who “introduces” me to some of my most influential mentors.

He is confident in me, his wife…consistently affirming my gifts and encouraging me to follow through with the leadings the Lord has placed upon my heart...whether they be in parenting, my friends or my vocation.

And my mind is flooded with many other memories in days past where he has taught me, guided me and asked questions of me that opened the truth to my mind. And more importantly, encouraged me to seek Christ and know Him more.

Now let me reiterate one of my first comments…this mentoring did not start after we were married or about year 3…no, it began when we were courting and it has never stopped.

The Lord has used this man to bring me closer to Himself.

And that is the greatest blessing of all.

Happy Engagement Anniversary to you my husband, my mentor, my love.
I love you.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing with the word,

so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,

without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Ephesians 5:25-27

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mentoring...Part III

One of my most recent mentors has been Ruth Bell Graham. I was gifted a great little book entitled “Celebrating An Extraordinary Life” (from another woman I would consider a recent mentor, Sono Harris). It is a compilation of observations and notes on the life of Ruth Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham. Some notes are by her, but most are from those around her, closest to her…those who knew her best.

Although I am not married to a world-renowned & famous man of God (while this may yet be his calling!), I am still gaining wisdom and insight on how to manage a home, engage the culture and handle the different challenges that come with marriage to a man in full-time pastoral ministry.

One of my favorite portions is this recollection by her daughter…

“The way she thinks, the way she talks, and the way she encourages is based on her faith. The Bible is truly her favorite book. How do you become that way? She was forced to make Jesus her best friend for a lot of reasons: because she was alone a lot, because she had to be private. I’m sure that desire grew and it just became natural to her…”

Since her husband was more or less a “celebrity”, Ruth kept her life and that of her children very private. Not many friends, not a lot of outings, etc… And her husband was sometimes gone as much as 9 months out of a year.

I don’t know about you, but I am blessed to be married to my best friend. And in these past months of him being gone half of every week, I have not always sought my Savior as my best friend.
There have been times that I have been quick to do so and the fellowship with my Lord has been sweet, the encouragement almost tangible, and the blessings remarkable.

But there have been other days when I think selfishly, “I just want my husband to be home…and I think I want him to be a plumber”.

Obviously this is not my true heart’s desire, for I know the talents and calling the Lord has placed upon my husband and I joy in being his wife and supporting him in serving the Lord.

And I am finding joy more and more in seeking the Lord as my best friend and only constant support. Especially in those times when my husband is away.

For He is never gone and never busy…His love is unconditional and His promises are true…my greatest joy is in Him and He will never disappoint.

And really, seeking Him in these days is one of the best ways I can serve my husband. And cherish my Lord.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mentoring...Part II

My father-in-law should be the “poster-boy” for mentoring. He thrives on it, teaches it, lives it and has seen it work over and over. I remember hearing him speak about the mentors in his life. Each one for a different topic…time management, theology, finances, ministry, family, etc…

And I remember thinking, “He hasn’t met half these guys, in fact, most of them are dead”.

My thought had always been that a mentor had to be someone you knew. But no, a mentor is someone whom you allow to speak into your life, either by being physically in their presence or through their books or teachings. It is someone you admire and want to emulate, usually in their area of expertise. You see their fruit, and want to grow your garden the same way.

My father-in-law has filled his mind with reading, information and teachings of countless men, each an expert in their field. And he has taken their things to heart and they have changed his life. He has allowed himself to be mentored by them.

And then, he mentored his sons in this passion for mentoring. And each of those sons is in turn mentoring their wives…and their children. (I am speaking confidently because I know Carey and Tarah will mentor their little one-on-the-way!)

To prove my point, and to add some credibility to my thoughts, I would encourage you to
click here to view a recent blog by my brother-in-law, Carey. (His second point is a favorite of mine.) He is speaking of and exemplifying the exact things his father taught him.

They are challenging. And they are good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The video...

Well, I figured it out...the quality is not perfect, but the sound is priceless.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Mentoring...with guitars???

"The Three Macs"

The big jump at the end...

Oh yeah...
These pictures capture some serious mentoring going on in the McPherson basement. Levi is obsessed with his guitar and wants to be just like Daddy & Uncle Mac. He wants a pic, a capo…whatever daddy & Uncle Mac have, he needs.

I'm trying to post a video of the latest jam session (once I figure out this whole YouTube thing!)...these concerts are taking place most evenings before bed nowadays. What a great way to end the day.

Levi picks up new things everytime…a new way to strum, a jump at the end, a cool new facial expression…

He’s learning, he’s paying attention to his daddy and uncle and doing everything he can to be like them.

And thus in the process, he is being mentored. Okay, so it may sound like a strong word for such silly pictures…but the concept rings true.

Levi is seeking someone older, with experience and expertise in the thing he wants to be good at and is learning and imitating all that he can.

Don’t worry, we’re mentoring him in other things as well. You know…hunting, fishing, bravery, protecting his sister. Good old boy stuff. :o)

But it is a good way for this mother to be reminded of the influential little minds that sit under my teaching, my mentoring, every day.
They will probably act like me.
They will view Christ the way I portray Him.
They will judge others by how I speak of them.
They will value God’s Word based on the impact it has on our daily life.
And they will handle suffering the way it has been modeled to them.

Whoa. The thought is motivating to say the least and is what causes me to be on my knees, breathing prayers for wisdom as we parent these little ones in our care.

And mentoring…influence…imitating, is not limited to the mothers and fathers I know.

The young woman, maybe in her teens or college years, should be seeking out a woman whom she admires…to learn from and listen to. Another woman of influence, along with her mother.

The young nurse should be observing and approaching a veteran to ask questions, build support and learn all she can as she starts a new career.

The “older” woman, whose children are grown, should be seeking young women…maybe newly married or new mothers…to mentor, support, pray for and love, passing on the experience and knowledge of their years lived and challenges faced.

The husband, should be leading, mentoring, assisting and encouraging his wife to grow into the Godly woman he knows she can be. Being a gatekeeper for his home and protector for his wife.

The opportunities are endless and the excuses are almost as many.

I have been challenged, encouraged and convicted in recent days on the benefits and long-term effects of mentoring. Mentoring has always been important to me and I have benefited from many mentors in my life.

I’d like to take some time to reflect on some of them individually over the next couple of days.
Rock on...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Favorite Place...

I was looking at the weather report on Friday and just happened to look at the beach weather report...ahhh, 60 degrees, no wind, blue skies.


And so, in true last-minute, go-for-it, "if I don't do it now, I may not be back for a long time" style, I decided to make the 2 hour trip.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves...

A special thank you to Mom & Dad McPherson for their sweet sacrifice to drive 20 or so hours just to see their grandkids and enjoy a little time on the Oregon made the trip. Thank you.

And thank you to our friends at the beach who so graciously offered their home in Rockaway to stay in. It was adorable, cozy and a blessing to all of us...

And today, we prayed during family worship and Levi whispered to daddy "and tank you for miss it".

So do I do I.

"But the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hands are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" Psalm 95:5&6

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lessons from my Kids...

Not only are these pictures adorable...they capture the faces of the 2 little daily "reminders" that God has placed in my life to have faith...even like that of a child.

Ultimate trust...unwavering confidence in their father...absolute joy as they follow along the path their parents are walking.

These kids have moved around some in the last year or so (not as much as some, I know) and been through some changes...and yet, every step of the way, they follow their dad & mom in ultimate trust.

Their joyous spirits and optomistic observations have lifted me on more than one occasion. Their attitudes have been challenging for my own heart...for I would not be eager to show you my picture sometimes when my heavenly Father chooses a path for us that I may not have chosen.

And how much more does our Heavenly Father care for us and our families as we follow His sovereign plan?

You know the answer.

And I'm gonna take a cue from my kids...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The goal of a new year...

Happy 2009!

A new year begins and in honor of the joy of a fresh start...I have renamed my blog.

It may go through some name changes, so please bear with me. For now, it derives its new name from an excerpt of the most recent book I have been reading. "Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman" by Anne Ortlund. Wife of author Ray Ortlund, Anne wrote this book way back in 1984. (whoa, I was in the 1st grade)

I found it in the bulging bookshelves of my in-laws home, over the holidays. My mother-in-law told me it was one of the first books she read after she became a married woman. She remembered it fondly and I decided to start it (because if she says it's worth it, then I want to read it).

It is an easy read and has been a wonderful beginning to the new year. You know...resolutions, optimism, goals, a clean slate. The book is full of practical ideas on ordering your home, life, closet, schedule.

In one chapter, she is speaking of the order of your invisible life, as she calls it. You know, the part that not many people see...your quiet times with the Lord, the thoughts or worries that fill your mind, tender moments while reading the Word, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit as a mother plans her day to bless her husband & children.

She explains "our invisible times of quiet determine the stability of our lives...the quality of your life will be determined by the amount of time you spend alone with God in reading, praying and planning." Needless to say, it has proved to be very motivating as I have been seeking the Lord for the goals He would have for me in 2009.

I am a very goal-oriented person. Ask my volleyball team at GFU...they heard the 20 minute speech I so passionately exclaimed about the benefits, joy and productivity goals can bring.

I blame my love for goals on my high school track coach. He made us have goals for everything...not just track. And it stuck...really well.

I like short-term goals, long-term goals, spiritual goals, physical goals, emotional goals, service-oriented goals, personal goals, educational goals, goals for my children...the list goes on and on.

You get the picture.

And so I have been writing down my goals for 2009...books to read, relationships to nurture, principles to practice. And I love it. It infuses me with motivation, excitement and anticipation to see how the Lord will work in, around and over the top of any expectation or goal I could ever set.

And one thing I have learned in my years of ultimate goal must be Christ alone.

For without Him, I can accomplish nothing.

So I encourage you to join me in setting goals for the new year. It is a great way to stay steady on the course...and watch the evidence of growth in one’s life.

But remember...

“...Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...

...forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-10, 13 & 14