Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Coronavirus Fear: The Proper Perspective

Luke 12:22-31 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

Psalm 73:16-17 "When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; than I understood their final destiny."

I have to be honest, the last few days have stirred fear in my heart. I am sure that I am not the only one who has been having fearful thoughts surging through my brain. I have had a hard time balancing being wise and being prepared to feed my huge family for two weeks, and fearing about what all of this means, or could potentially mean, to our family. I have spent too much time reading articles about this virus than reading the Bible and that is where I believe I made my first error. 

This morning I woke up with a song on my mind that I haven't heard for years. The song was "God is in Control" by Twila Paris. Check out these lyrics! These were the words I needed to hear this morning.

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don't lose the vision here
Carried away by the motion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control
History marches on

There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan
Oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever

He has never let you down
Why start to worry now? (2x)
He is still the Lord of all we see
And He is still the loving Father

Watching over you and me

Two hours later, we were sitting in front of our computer enjoying our church service. The message today was exactly the reminder I needed...I need to have a proper perspective on this virus. God had a theme for me today...and it was to trust Him! He reminded me how He has been faithful with Wayne and has brought us so far with his cancer. How could I worry about something outside of my control? He has been faithful to us time and time again, and here I am worrying about Wayne and my kids. 

Below are some of the key points for the sermon this morning that I needed to hear. I'll link the actual sermon at the bottom so you can listen. Maybe this will help you balance the fear in your heart and mind too. We must battle this fear because fear is not from God. He is the author of peace not fear!

When we worry, we aren't trusting God. By not trusting Him, we can be filled with doubt, which could lead to disbelief if left unchecked. Worry is toxic to our souls. It keeps us from experiencing the power, presence, and peace of God. It also robs us of the joy and peace that is available to believers. Worry cannot coexist with joy and peace. Worry also neutralizes discipleship and spiritual growth. It also removes any gospel witness in our lives. As believers, if we are out ransacking the stores for supplies and constantly sharing fearful news, than the world is not going to see anything different in our lives. We have a hope that extends beyond our life here on earth. People around us are desperate. They feel out of control because they are having to face their mortality. I read that the purchasing of goods makes them feel like they have some semblance of control. As believers, this is our chance to rise and be beacons of hope to the world around us. 

1 Peter 3:15 explains this, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have." We need to be ready to share the HOPE that only Jesus can bring." This tumultuous time is the perfect opportunity to share the hope that we have in Jesus with others.

There are two things we need to remember: 1)we need to keep God in mind and 2) we need to keep the end in mind. 

Just remember this, God is sovereign, omnipotent, merciful, majestic, holy...the list goes on. He has this! Don't worry, but keep Him in mind and the end in mind. When your mind starts to worry and fear, remember that you are the child of the King and that He is still sitting on His throne and is in control. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Bigger Than Our Fears

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

Psalm 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that He will lift you up in His own good time. Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you.”

Today was Wayne’s 5 year MRI. After experiencing so many anxious MRIs, I can honestly tell you that today I felt no anxiety. I have been allowing God to work on my heart to trust Him and His plans for our surrender my will to His and fully trust Him. It is amazing how God will work in your life when you allow Him full control. I still struggle, but it is amazing to see God slowly working on transforming my heart. 

We just met with Wayne's neuro-oncologist who informed Wayne that his scan is once again clear. The praise can only go to Jesus who isn’t done with Wayne yet. I’m light of all the fear surrounding everyone right now with the Coronavirus, this is a reminder that God is in control. He is bigger than a terminal brain cancer diagnosis, and He is bigger than a deadly virus. After walking this journey of faith trusting God with my husband’s health, I need to remember that I can trust God with my health and my kid's health. When I wrote my previous post, it was a reminder to myself that God is still on the throne and I can rest in His plan. Whether I live or die, I want my life to bring glory to Him. Worrying will not accomplish that. God is bigger than any of my fears.

Unfortunately, due to all the crazy things around us, we have canceled our trip to Omaha. We need to be with all of our kids during this scary and uncertain time. We also don’t want to spread any potential germs on to Emily. Please continue to pray for Emily, our country, and the world. Pray for those who are sick and dying that they will know the love of Jesus! May we bright lights and beacons of Hope to the lost and hopeless around us. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Walking Dead: Coronavirus

1 Corinthians 15:53-55 “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’”

Coronavirus is a word we are hearing on a daily basis, sometimes on a hourly basis. My Facebook is inundated with posts from all extremes: those who say it’s all media hype on an election year to others saying we are all going to die.

I have breaking news: we are all dying! What?!? Why would this crazy woman claim that we are all dying? Does she have insight on this virus that we don’t know about? Calm down. No, I do not know anything more than any of you. In fact, if I am honest, I am daily surrendering my fear to the Lord. What I am talking about is the fact that since the day we were born, our bodies are in the process of dying. Apart from Jesus, we are all dead. Yes, the world is full of walking dead. I think this is partly what is causing this mass hysteria...a sense of hopelessness and fear. As believers, we need to first of all stop living in fear. Should we be wise? Absolutely! Even Joseph prepared for a famine that hit Egypt. But what we shouldn’t do is live in fear to where it debilitates us. As our brothers and sisters in China did, this is an amazing opportunity to point people to Jesus who is our hope! He is the only one who can give people hope. I don’t care if you have 200 rolls of toilet paper, thousands of wipes, and bottles of hand sanitizer. Do you have Jesus?

If Wayne’s terminal cancer has taught us anything, it is the fact that we should live each day to the fullest for Jesus. Do I want to catch Coronavirus? No. But even if the worst case scenario happens and I die, want to say like Paul in Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This reminds me that every day I have here on earth is a chance for me to live for Christ! If I die, I win because I’ll be with my Savior! 

Where are you at? Are you in need of the hope that only Jesus can give? Nothing in this world will fill that hole in your life but Him! If you are a believer, do you believe God is sovereign? God has a plan for each of our lives. Can you trust Him I’m the midst of these unknown times? Can you even go a step further and reach out to your neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and family with the good news and hope that God offers? Many of us have been praying for a revival in this country. Maybe this is the catalyst God uses to draw hearts to Him. I doubt the early church thought that their persecution would help spread the gospel and yet God used that time in history to spread the good news. What will your choose to do? Trust God and allow Him to use you or hide in your home surrounded by 200 rolls of toilet paper?

Prayer Request:

 * Friday is Wayne’s next MRI. It is almost exactly five years from the date the doctor walked in and told us the genetics came back and showed that he had GBM, not a grade 3 Astrocytoma. We are trusting God with the results, but the hardest part is waiting for the doctor to walk in give is the results after his MRI. There is something nerve wracking to wait in an office for results like these. Just pray that we rest in God’s peace!

* Please pray for us as we travel to Omaha after Wayne’s appointment to see Emily, the young girl we have been praying for. Her brain cancer is back and I am uncertain if her mom has found any doctors with additional treatments to try. Pray that this meeting is glorifying to God!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Month of Memories

Psalm 77:11-14 "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember you wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. You way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples."

My Facebook "On This Day" memories have resulted in a mix of emotions. We are celebrating 5 years since Wayne's diagnosis with brain cancer, which means that there are so many pictures from that time. Pictures of Wayne at surgery, Wayne in recovery, family photos, and more. Seeing these pictures transports me back to that time as if it just happened. Isn't that weird the way the brain works? It makes me more understanding of the trauma kids experience who are adopted or are in foster care. One smell, sound, or picture can trigger such an array of emotions. I think this is true for our girls as well. As much as we "move on", there is still a piece of you stuck in 2015. 

There are other memories from March that pop up on Facebook. These pictures trigger great memories. It was 3 years ago that I was in China adopting our two sons. Yesterday was DJ's family day and Sunday is Shan Chen's family day. Our lives have been so enriched by these two boys. Although it hasn't been all rainbows and unicorns, we can see God's hand in it all. We are so thankful that God called us to adopt.

Whenever I see this crossover of memories, it reminds me of God's faithfulness and the importance of obedience. God asked us to adopt just a year after Wayne's diagnosis. I still remember asking God, "Seriously? It doesn't make sense at all to adopt NOW! We tried before and you shut the door and NOW you want us to adopt? That is crazy!" This was just another lesson in my life that God doesn't do things the way WE think He should, He does things for a purpose beyond what we can comprehend. It is crazy to think that on Wayne's 2 year anniversary of his brain surgery, I was in China with our two boys finalizing our adoption! Who does that? Who takes on two more kids when you have a spouse that has a cancer with a diagnosis of 12-18 months? Crazy people, that is who. We have actually heard that a lot in the last few years...You are crazy! But you know what, we aren't crazy just to be crazy and get "attention". We are so enamored with our Savior, who we know has numbered Wayne's days, that we want to follow Him wherever that leads, even if it is to crazy land! Where will He lead us next? Only He knows. But wherever He calls us, we will follow. How about you? Do you feel God calling you to do something but it feels crazy? Why not completely surrender and trust God to lead the way, even if it is to a place the world would call crazy. Being in the middle of God's will is the safest place to be! Never be afraid to step out of the boat and follow God.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

5 Year Miracle

Isaiah 45:6-7 "that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things."

It is hard to believe that on this date five years ago, I received a telephone call that would forever change my life. If you would have asked me five years ago if we would be celebrating five years with Wayne, I would have told you most likely not. You see, in case you are new to this blog, Wayne was diagnosed in February 11, 2015 with a brain tumor. We later discovered that it was glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive type of brain cancer. The normal life expectancy for this kind of cancer is 12-18 months. We have so many friends that we know and love who have lost their loved ones to this awful cancer. It is a daily struggle with trusting God with our future. 

I have experienced such an array of emotions the past few weeks leading up to this moment: joy, relief, excitement, love for Wayne, thankfulness, sadness, grief, and guilt. The last three emotions have really dragged me down the past week. I have seen many friends on Facebook lose their husbands and fathers to their children. I have a few more friends whose husbands are on hospice. My mind often struggles with "why". Why have we made it five years? Why is Wayne still here and others have been taken home? On one hand, I prayed for this miracle, so I shouldn't be surprised that the same God who parted the Red Sea, healed the lame and blind, and rose from the dead, could heal my husband. And yet, my mind can't help but think about so many other godly women who have prayed the same prayer for their husbands. I start to question why God didn't answer their prayers. Here is where the emotions of sadness and guilt start to settle. It's hard to celebrate when others have lost what you fear most...losing your husband to this dreadful cancer.

How do you juggle trusting God, while at the same time realizing that the next scan could change our story again? I don't know how to explain this paradox in which I live. Others try to understand, but until you walk this path, it is hard to truly understand and get it. On the other hand, it's hard to share with the ones who understand because most of them would love to have their husbands back, would love to have five years, or are in much worse places than us. So what am I to do? What am I to do with all of these emotions and thoughts?

I do not have the answers, only that God is sovereign and He has kept Wayne here for some reason. Our job is to daily live our lives to the fullest serving God and bringing Him glory! We leave the future in God's hands and rest in the assurance that He has a perfect plan for our lives, even if we don't understand how He always works or why He does things. That is where faith comes in...will we trust or will we worry? I can tell you from experience that there is so much more peace in the place of trust than in the place of worry. 

All of us face this daily challenge - will we trust God or worry? It may be about your job or it may be the fear of some unknown virus, like what is going on in China. We can either sit and fret about the future, or we can rest in knowing that God is in control. So for today, we will choose to trust God and enjoy the blessings that God has given us. Let's celebrate 5 years of God's healing!!

In these 5 years we have managed to make many memories with the kids, celebrated our 20th (and now 21st) anniversary, we added two more kids to our family (another crazy God story), moved closer to family, celebrated five more birthdays with Wayne, taken many photos as a family to treasure, and taken numerous memorable trips (East Coast and West Coast - Wayne has now been to 46 states). 

Wayne after his biopsy

Wayne after his brain surgery

Wayne at rehab working on re-learning how to walk and talk

Wayne's bald head from radiation side effects

Wayne's MRI which shows how much of his brain is missing after surgery

Making memories together as a couple (21 years and counting)

Making memories together as a family

In April, we will be taking a trip with Inheritance of Hope. This amazing organization sponsors families with parents who have a terminal illness and helps them make memories with their children. They also help the parents create legacy videos, take family photos, and offer support groups for the kids to learn how to express their emotions and feelings about all that they are going through. We can't wait to spend some intentional days away with our kids to make lifetime memories with them.

As a way of paying it forward and marking Wayne's 5 year anniversary, I am running a half marathon in New Mexico in April. I am trying to raise money to help other families like ours attend a future retreat. If you would like to help, please pray about sponsoring my run!  

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

2019 In Review (Super Late)

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope."

2019 was a year of change for our family. Last Christmas we were visiting my parents in Kentucky when God showed us that He wanted us to move. 

January-April: The first few months of 2019 consisted of celebrating 20 years of marriage, packing, tears, finishing school, and goodbyes. 

May: Mother's Day weekend, we officially moved to Kentucky. Between doctor appointments, working on our fixer upper, and VBS in Chicago, it wasn't until July that we were at our home in Kentucky more than in Chicago.

June/July: We took a family trip out west to go visit family in California and Washington. Wayne wanted his family to meet our boys. It was fun catching up with all of our family. While we were out west, we also took a mission trip. We were honored to help serve at a camp in Canada. It was an exhausting week of hard work, but it was so rewarding.

On our way home, we took the kids to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Devil's Tower, the Badlands, and Mount Rushmore. 

July: Friends from Chicago visited the girls, VBS in Chicago, doctor appointments while in Chicago, and house remodel work.

August: Started unpacking and getting settled in Kentucky. Wayne continued traveling back to Chicago to help oversee our house project. The kids all started school.

September: the older kids attended a retreat with their new youth group. This was a turning point in their attitudes regarding Kentucky. They started making friends and connections. We all started getting plugged in at church: Wayne joined the prayer group, I help with AWANA, Wayne and I are part of great Sunday school groups, and the kids love all the programs they attend. The kids and I also got plugged into the local community Bible study that meets once a week. 

October: More work on the Chicago house, Wayne's MRI came back clear, we got a cat, and changes in school were made (Sophia started attending public school).

November: Our house in Chicago finally was done being remodeled and was listed on the market. Wayne and I took a quick trip to Texas to pick up Wayne's "dream" car. While down in the south, they enjoyed a day in New Orleans where I ran another half marathon (state 29 of 50). Unfortunately, I picked up food poisoning on our way home, so our Thanksgiving plans were thwarted. Instead of having international students and my extended family at our house, we ended up with just our little family enjoying a great meal.

December: More school changes: Naomi started school at the local Christian school. I was matched up with an international student from Taiwan to be an English partner. We had my friend over during December to hang out and get to know each there better. But where did December go? Did it fly for you this year? We squeezed as much memories and fun as we could into December as we celebrated the birth of our Savior. On Christmas Day, some of our best friends came and visited us from Chicago. It was some memorable days! Right after they left, the girls had some their best friends, who were our old neighbors, visit for three days. Everyone had fun ending the year making memories with our Chicago friends in Kentucky.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Adventures Continue...

Deuteronomy 11:19 "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up." 

There have been some new and exciting things happening in our lives:

As a parent, we all want what is best for our children. The most important thing for us as parents is that our children know God and have a deep relationship with Him. It takes priority over, sports, success. From the first day we started homeschooling, we decided that we would take a year at a time. We also discussed that each child is different and we wanted them to feel successful wherever they are. For example, Abigail and Grace are part of Torrey Academy, which is through Biola University, and are taking College Prep Science online this year for school. These programs challenge them and it allows someone outside of their mom, to give them grades. It has been amazing to see them rise to the occasion and work hard in these classes. 

DJ attends a local homeschool co-op Monday-Thursday from 9-2pm every day. He has been loving the program and the kids at his school. This is what he needed to succeed. Let me just stop right here and say what an awesome God we serve. Wayne and I had been praying for months what to do for DJ for school. Public school wasn't the best option for him, and neither was homeschool. He needed his parents to be his parents and not also his teachers. He had a hard time differentiating the two. Meanwhile, God moves us to Kentucky to a smaller town near Lexington and what do we discover? This answer to our prayer...a school perfect for DJ's needs with amazing teachers with special needs experience! God is so good!!! God also provided a counselor for DJ who not only is an adoptive mom herself, but she has had experience working with kids with autism, kids adopted from China, and uses connected parenting methods/play therapy. We have seen DJ get stronger and grow so much since we moved to KY. 

The rest of our children have been doing more traditional homeschool with me, with a few online courses as well. Sophia has been desiring to go to school for about two years. In the last few weeks, she kept asking about going to school. She said she needed to be motivated by others. She is very competitive and she said she didn't have anyone to compete with at home and she really wanted to be challenged. Last year, she had kids from church that participated in a once a week class. She was able to compete with them and it kept her appeased. Since we moved, we haven't been able to plug into anything like that in KY. After praying about her request, Wayne and I decided last week to enroll her in the local public school. It was a heart-wrenching decision, but one we felt was best for Sophia. The first week I doubted our decision when she came home sobbing that she hated school and wanted to come home. We had agreed before we sent her that she would need to finish the entire year to help teach her follow through. By the end of the week, Sophia was enjoying school and meeting new friends. Sophia is most excited about being part of band and getting to finally learn how to play her clarinet! We pray together each morning about Sophia using this opportunity to be a light in her school. This is where all the things she has learned at home and at church get put into action. This is her mission field!

I say all of this because too many homeschool families get lost in the concept that homeschool is the only way. I love homeschooling and it has been the best decision for us up until this point, but we also know that everyone is in different places and each person needs to do what is best for each individual child in their family. In this case, we are praying that Sophia's needs for her education will be met at school. No school is perfect, including homeschool, so we are excited to see her do her best in this new environment and see how God uses it go grow her.


Another exciting adventure took place last week. Last week we participated in an outreach at UK regarding international missions. About a month ago, we met with Christian Student Fellowship's (CSF) missionary. We wanted to find out ways we could get involved with international students at UK. Two years ago at Thanksgiving, we hosted college students at our house in Chicago. It was such an amazing experience for our entire family and we wanted to participate in something like that again here in KY. Not only did we find out information about hosting students at Thanksgiving, we discovered a huge outreach through the college to international students. There are two things that God has given me a passion for, missions and orphan care. 

Wayne and I signed up to be language partners with an older student. We also discovered a group that works with refugees in the area. Wayne and I are so excited to get plugged in and participate in these ministries. This is another HUGE answer to prayer. We had tried to get involved in Chicago, and God kept shutting the doors. We weren't sure why, and then we moved. Since arriving in KY, God keeps opening doors. It reminds me of our attempts to foster/adopt years ago and God shutting the doors. Then when we were least expecting it, God opened the doors. We aren't sure what God has in store for us, but we will place our seeds out and see where God wants us to serve. We know that He will guide us and will open/shut doors as He deems to fulfill His purpose. 

The event that we attended this last week at campus was so encouraging. There were about 350-400 students from the different Christian organizations on campus that met together to talk about how to serve the international community on campus. The worship music was filled with the Holy Spirit and the testimonies of people who have been called out of these groups to serve the Lord as missionaries was touching. One couple serves the Lord overseas in a special country. Their testimony was one of my favorites. They were called by the Lord about 20 years ago to go. My favorite part of their story was an older missionary grabbing the husband by his hands and with fire in his eyes telling this younger man to take his family and just go. Don't waste time, just go to the people, they need to hear about Jesus! God has used them in amazing ways because of their obedience. 

It reminds me of Matthew 9:36-38 "When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'" We were challenged a few weeks ago by a visiting missionary to take part in the 9:38 challenge. At 9:38am and pm, the challenge is to pray that God would rise up laborers to go to the field and reap the harvest. When you hear of people responding to God's call to go, it touches your heart. At the UK event, they stressed that not all of us are called to GO, but we are all called to take part. So either you go or you send others (support them in going). To take this a step further, John Piper said, "If you are not going, and if you are not sending, then you are disobeying." We are all called to take part in the Great Commission. In fact, we are all missionaries. Wether we are called overseas or right at our jobs, we are called to share the gospel with everyone we meet. 

The most convicting part of Tuesday night at UK was the poem that the missionary read from a local Asian believer to others around the world. It reminded me about what we read in Hudson Taylor's life story. A man spoke to Taylor and said, "I have long sought the Truth, as did my father before me, but without finding it. I have traveled far and near but have never searched it out. In Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, I have found not rest, but I do find rest in what we have heard tonight. Henceforward, I am a believer in Jesus...How long have you had the Glad Tidings in England?" Taylor was ashamed to tell him and vaguely replied, "For several hundred years." The man responded in astonishment, "What? Several hundred of years! Is it possible that you have known about Jesu so long ,and only now have come to tell us? My father sought the truth for more than twenty years and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner?"

I will end with this poem. Pray that God shows you what He wants you to do in response to this powerful message from our sister in Christ!

Where Are You? 

You who are fortunate enough
to know what it means to be saved?
Where are you who have been 
washing in the blood of Jesus Christ?

Where have you been?
Can't you see that we are in agony?
Didn't Christ command you to come to us?

The world is perishing in it's darkness.
Thousands are dying in the flames of Hell.
Have mercy, and come to us;
we beseech you to come!

We are clad in rags of ruin;
totally bankrupt; only God can help us now!
But will we have a chance to hear His voice?
His peace and His salvation...
will we have access to them?

Where are you?
Where are the bears of light?
We call out to you, but there is not answer...
have you fallen asleep?
Where are you?

~Poem by a Central Asian believer