Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sheshe is back home

As most of you who know us already know, sheshe (Ramona) has been in the hospital since Christmas eve. This along with all the Christmas stuff has engendered the complete lack of posts recently. We hope to get back to business soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

While You Were Sleeping

We had the opportunity to attend a "sing along Messiah." They played the first part of Handel's Messiah and the Hallelujah Chorus. Musically it was a wonderful evening. There were probably several hundered singers who came to join in the sing on the choruses, and the solos were wonderful.
However, we were saddened by the almost total lack of mention of the subject of the music. The program made it clear that this church "repects all faiths." Apparently this means that you sing the Messiah, but make no mention of who or what the Messiah is. As sheshe said I wanted to shout, "let us pray" after it was over. Instead we were told about the wonders of the music and how we had "feasted on it" tonight.
The Hallelujah Chorus always brings me images of all the saints from throughout the ages standing around the throne singe praised to The Lamb Who Was Slain. This time though, I could only wonder how many of those who stood there truly call Him King of King and Lord of Lords. They certainly were not led in that direction from the stage.
In the words, the Promised One came but the hearts of the singers seemed to have missed Him. I am reminded of the song "While You Were Sleeping" by Casting Crowns. I pray that the hearts of those there will awake to the Messiah.

"While You Were Sleeping"

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had came
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I have seen the lights

This is what you get when you mix too many Christmas lights with an electrical engineer who has too much time on his hands.

HT Robert and Gradine Simpson

A Life in the Day of the Edwards

Yes, I know, the saying is wrong. Not around our house, though. Every day indeed has a life cycle all its own. I remember back when we had only three kids, and I would always wonder what the lives of large families were like. Since some of you may be curious, also, I will share our day with you (prompted by a thread on our pastor's blog). Keep in mind that this is the holiday season, so things may be a tad more busy than usual. In a "normal" day, I will have two hours to rest in the afternoon, plus usually time in the evening to sit and rest, too (and no ER trips).

We got up around 8:30 or so (got to sleep in since it was Saturday), and could hear the kids already milling around in the kitchen, eating breakfast. I took a shower, talked on the phone with my mom, then went to get my own breakfast. As I ate, I coordinated some of the days activities, had Zhenya put some clothes in bags to take to the Salvation Army, talked to various kids as they came in and asked questions, checked email, etc. Dad gathered up the kids for the "Bus Route" (he takes those who want to run errands in the van, dropping them off and coming back to pick them up in a loop), with Naomi making sure I would be there when a neighbor came to pay her for raking.

I stayed until the woman came, then packed my things up and went to run my own errands. First I mailed my Christmas cards, then went to the Christian book store to buy a gift and some stocking stuffers. Next I dropped the clothes off at Salvation Army and picked up some of their free bread (Yummy - we love it!). From there I went to WalMart, where I spent the next couple of hours, buying Christmas gifts. I was so pleased to be able to find everything on my list, almost completing my Christmas shopping. I filled the truck up with gas, then went to eat lunch. From there, I went to a bookstore for another gift, then the Far East Market, to finish up my shopping (Yeah!!).

Once I arrived home, the kids helped me unload the truck and put things away (I got groceries at WMart, too). Some more questions came my way, and then I was finally able to sit down and rest for about 20 minutes (checked email, of course!). Then I helped Shawn get ready for choir practice, and drove him to the church office. The choir director said I did not have to stay, so I went to Mike's Merchandise to look for stocking stuffers. It was exciting to find out that they had gotten in a new shipment of books that very day! I found a number of good books for myself, and some stocking stuffers to boot! (pun intended) Shawn called, saying they were done, so I returned to pick him up.

He and I stopped to order some pizza on the way home (a luxury for us), since most of the other kid would be gone to a youth fellowship. As soon as we got home, we finished lighting the luminaries that the other kids had prepared already (the whole neighborhood did them last night), helping a neighbor along the way. (In the meantime, Bob had taken 9 of the kids to the fellowship.) The pizza tasted good at that point, and we didn't have much to clean up, thankfully. I folded clean clothes that had been washed on Wednesday, then went to check on the luminaries, admiring the sight that they made in the neighborhood.

Finally, I got a chance to sit down and rest! After doing my daily Bible reading, I checked email and blogs as I unwound. The phone rang around 8:45 - it was Bob checking in from the youth fellowship. Tessa had just fallen down a spiral staircase and needed to go to the ER. Ugh. I waited a few minutes, put the two kids who were at home to bed, and went to meet them at the hospital. After filling out the forms, I brought the other 8 kids home, while Bob stayed with Tessa.

Kathryn wanted to talk for awhile, which we did. I put in a load of clothes to wash, then urged her to go to bed. Bob and Tessa made it home around 11:00, with her foot bandaged up and in a "boot". They gave her a choice, and she chose to not get stitches, although it would mean wearing the boot an extra few days. (Sunday update: after looking at her foot today, I really think it is broken. It is quite swollen and bruised, but the treatment would be the same, so I guess it does not matter.)

Blessed rest! It was great to finally get to bed, after a full day! Our lives are full, but organized (out of necessity) and fun. The kids are great about doing their chores, for the most part, which helps the household run well (they don't do chores on Saturday - next time I will tell about a "typical" school day).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Another new link

I have added a link to Purgatorio in the links section. Marc Heinrich does a brilliant job of commenting on Christian culture. In and of itself that is not anything new. What is brilliant about it is that he does so with images, not words. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christian Culture vs Christianity

A discussion on at Paul Lamey’s blog, got me to thinking about the difficulties we face sometimes separating artifact’s of our “Christian” culture with true Biblical Christianity. The discussion was over Christmas. Many Christians seem to think that it is a fundamental part of the Christian life. Just look at the fact that some are boycotting retailers because they have removed the word Christmas from their marketing. Christmas must be really important to spend so much energy over getting unbelievers to just use the word. The problem is that no where in the Bible are we told to celebrate the day of Christ’s birth. The reality is that the celebration of Christmas is an artifact of our culture and tradition.

Our nature is such that we tend to believe that how we have always done it is the “right” way to do it. No matter what “it” is. This was brought home with several of our adopted children. Since most of our children were older when they were adopted, they had already been acculturated into their native culture. Many of the normal things they did when they came just seemed “wrong” to us. As an example, toilet paper is thrown into the trash not the toilet in Russia. If you are not aware of it, this can cause some problems, particularly if you attribute ulterior motives to the child.

This forced us to examine many of the things we did to see if there was a purpose to them, or if that was just “the way we had always done it.” In some cases, we allowed them to keep their ways of doing things. In others, we trained the kids to conform to our culture so as not to offend others.

When we are saved we become a member of a different kingdom, a different culture, if you will. Because of this, we need to make sure to learn the behaviors and demands of our new culture. Unfortunately, in America there is a distinct Christian subculture. Even worse is that, within that sub culture, there are even further distinctions based on denomination and even the local church. If we are not careful, we can confuse the rules of our Christian subculture with the rules of the Kingdom.

Therefore, we need to examine our traditions, out practices, and what we consider “the right way to do things,” to see if they line up with Scripture. This may mean discarding some of our well held traditions where they do not line up with Scripture. It may mean going counter to not just the worldly culture, but the culture of our church environment. It means not only applying Romans 12:2 to the world, but to the Christian culture.

A Contest for all you word freaks.

A lot of my friends and family are work freaks. So let's have a little contest. Post a comment, and look at the "Word Verification" word. The contest is to see who can make up the best definition for the word.

Grace and Truth Books

I have added a link on the side bar to Grace and Truth Books. They are run by our pastor from our Tulsa days, Dennis Gundersen. They specialize in "Character building Christian books for Christian families." They carry lots of other good books too. Check them out.

Another one from Segei

If you look closely you can even see the photographer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Sergei always amazes me with his ability to see things that I cannot see. How he took this picture, I am not sure. But this is an unretouched photo he took. Pretty amazing, huh?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Anyone guess what this is?

Another photo by Sergei. Anyone want to guess what it is?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Kathryn's Testimony

This is Kathryn's baptism testimony.

"I was saved by Jesus Christ a long time ago, but I never realized it back then. I was abandoned by my birth mom on the street when I was three days old [in China]. Then a guy passed by on the road. He heard a little girl crying ,and he picked me up to take to his home. After that I never thought he wasn't my own father, I found out by an accident. But he told me it didn't matter. Right after I was twelve years old, he lost his job and he couldn't take care of me anymore, so he sent me to an orphanage. I was almost thirteen when he sent me to the orphanage, then I got adopted by a family in Tennessee. Somehow we didn't work out, because back then I didn't know anything about God, I sinned against Him and them. Then they thought they didn't want to keep me anymore, so they tried to find a different family for me.They found the Edwards family for me. At first I didn't obey them, I even hated them, because I was very angry from my other family. Back then I was a very naughty and unlikable person. One morning, when I woke up I felt the things I did were different than before. I started saying sorry to people which I had never done before, I also started caring about people. I was confused because I didn't know what was going on, I didn't know me anymore, because things I was doing, I would never able to do by my self. I picked up my Bible, and I found a verse that helped me understand, why I have been doing bad things against God.

Roman 7:18-19 For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.These verses helped me understood why I'm a sinner, for I understood that all people are sinners.Having faith in Jesus Christ,and believe what Jesus has done for us, he died for our sins. He was resurrected in 3 days.

Luke 9:22 The son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief preists and scribes,and be killed, and be raised the third day.

Romans 5:8-9 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. God has taken care of us, a long the way. He sent me here to hear about him and believe Him. I'm really thankful that God has chosen me, I'll try to live my life to serve Him."

Update: Our pastor has likewise posted it here.

Manifold Blessing, Also Known as Our Kids

Friday, December 02, 2005

Loving without liking

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and seeshis brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18 (NKJV)

A common complaint from adoptive parents that also have biological children is that they do not feel the same way about their adopted children that they do about their biological children. We have also had these feelings with the children that we have adopted and have struggled with the feelings of guilt that it brings.
However, as with all feelings of guilt, we must examine the source from a Biblical standpoint and see if the feelings are correct. It is possible that we truly are being sinful in our unloving spirit towards them. In that case, the feelings are showing us where we need to repent and to drive us to seek the forgiveness of our Lord.
However, it is often the case that some of our guilt is false and we have allowed our culture’s view of love to permeate our thinking. Our culture views love as this sentimental feeling that has us feeling all warm and squishy toward the person we love. When we do not feel this way, we think that we should and start to feel guilty about it. The problem is that this is far from the Biblical definition of love. The Biblical definition of love is an act of the will where one does what is best for another person, even to the point of self-sacrifice. Biblical love has little to do with what we feel; it has everything to do with what we do for and how we treat another.

The Bible does deal with our feelings and emotions. However, it does not place nearly the emphasis on them that our culture does. Our culture runs on its emotions. Love is something you fall into and out of. After all “Love just happens and you can’t change how you feel about someone can you?” However, the Biblical picture is very different. In fact, the New King James
Translation of the Bible never uses the words “emotion” or “emotions” and the word “feelings” only appears once:

Proverbs 29:11 A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. (NKJV)

Yet some will say that they cannot act loving towards them, because they do not feel loving towards them. This is simply unbiblical. The Bible teaches us that if we act rightly our feelings will follow. In his book “The Christian Counselor’s Manual,” Jay Adams talks about this in relationship to husband and wife, but the principle is equal valid to child and parent.

Living According to feeling rather than God’s commandment is a fundamental hindrance to godliness and is a factor with which every Christian counselor must learn to deal. It is a clever “wile” of Satan to tempt men to think that they cannot do what God requires because they do not feel like doing it, or that they must do what they feel like doing and cannot help themselves.

Often the argument takes subtle forms, which at first seem plausible, even pious. For instance, a husband and wife may say, “I guess there is nothing left to our marriage – no love – no feeling – nothing,” and thereby hope that the Christian counselor will concede that a divorce is allowable on other than scriptural grounds.

If they can get him to agree to this, they hope that their bad consciences over what they have already determined to do may be salved. They vainly look for balm in Gilead.

But, instead, the nouthetic counselor replies: “I am sorry to hear that. I guess you will have to confess your sin and learn how to love one another, then.” Their reaction to this is usually sheer astonishment. "But,” they protest, “we told you that we don’t feel anything for
each other any more.”

I understand, but that is irrelevant; God says that you must love one another. When you learn to do so, the feelings of love will follow. Love is not feeling first; it begins with obedient living.”

“What? Do you mean to say that we must try to love one another contrary to all of our feelings?”


“But wouldn’t that be hypocrisy?”

“No, that would be obedience to God, who has commanded:
‘Husband, love you wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).

Joe, God says that you are responsible to love Phyllis; love begins with the husband, whose love must reflect the love of Jesus Christ (I John 4:19).

So if we are not to operate on feelings, what are we to operate on? We are to operate in obedience to the Word of God. God commands us to love one another. We are even commanded to love our enemies. Surely if we are to love our enemies we ought to be able to love a child who God has placed in our home.

You may ask then, “If love is not a feeling, what is it?” Let us examine what God does say about love:

1 Cor 13:4-8a Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

Love is defined by what it does and does not do. How it behaves toward the other not how it feels towards them. It does suffer long, it does not envy, etc. Based on this definition of love, there is no problem loving a person, even though we do not like them. I cannot believe that Jesus liked those who mocked and tortured Him. However, the Bible is clear that He loved them (and us) enough to die for them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Trey

Trey is officially a teenager today. We now officially have ten teenagers in the house (assuming we cannot count grandma who is 80 but acts like a teenager).

Trey is one of our home grown kids (as compared to the hand picked ones). Trey has been voted for thirteen years running as the child most likely to kill himself. He has the distinction of having been to the emergency room more times than all other ten children combined. I think this comes form being so exuberant, which has always been our word for him. Trey is best described as the child who at age four “accidentally” swung on the curtains. His exuberance makes him a fun, entertaining guy.

Trey is bright young man. He is doing well in his studies, but is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up, which is happening quickly.

Trey is also going to be a very large young man. At age thirteen he is 5’7” and is growing about ¾” a month. At that rate, he will be over 6’ in less than six months.

Happy birthday, Trey!

You'll never think of ukulele music the same way.

I did not know you could do this with a ukulele. And for another example look here.

The First Pet Church of Christ

They appear to be serious. For only $9.95 you can get a certificate dedicating your pet to God and signed by a church officer. I am sure all of you will head right out and buy serveral.

Widows and Orphans - Ruth 2:8-9

Over the next few days I am going to look at one of the best examples we have in the Scriptures regarding the care of widows and orphans: Boaz. In particular we will look at his care for the widow Ruth. Let us start in Ruth 2:

Ruth 2:8-9  

Then Boaz said to Ruth, "You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women.  "Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn." (NKJ)

First it appears that Boaz observed the Deuteronomy 24:19 admonition to not over harvest his fields and to leave some for the “stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”  More than that, he makes sure that Ruth knew she was welcome to glean in his fields.  We can imagine that many in Israel did not observe this custom as the law commanded.  Ruth might fear being viewed and treated as a thief for taking grain from someone else’s field.  Boaz set her mind at easy by telling her she was welcome in his fields.  Boaz even gave her provisions that went beyond what was required, offering her drink.

We also see in Boaz more than just a wooden obedience to God’s Law. He went beyond the command to leave some unharvested and made sure that Ruth was welcomed as one of his own telling her to “stay close by my young women.”  Rather than making her an outcast he brought her close so that he could make sure she was cared for.

Boaz insured her safety.  Knowing the way of young men, Boaz commanded the young men not to touch her.  A young woman who has no protector can often fall prey to young men of the rougher sort.  Boaz used his authority over them to protect her who had no protector.  Again this was more than was required of him by a simple interpretation of the letter of the Law.

Finally, we note in all of this that Boaz was active in caring for Ruth.  He recognized her need and set about meeting that need.  More than passively allowing her to glean the dropped grain, he made her welcome and met her needs.  He went beyond what was strictly required, capturing not just the letter of the law, but its spirit as well.

May there be more of Boaz’s kind in our midst today.