Sunday, February 28, 2010

Confessions...and a goal

So I have a confession... my will power SUCKS. Literally. It just does. There I said it. My name is Andrea and I have no will power. Or as someone said the other day... I have no "won't power".

I love food. Cookies and sweets are my down fall. Chocolate calls my name from the closet. And Tagalong Girl Scout cookies.....those are the devil's food!

I have said before, I have even said here, that I was going to make a change. "THIS was going to be the time" and I was going to make changes to my life and get healthy. Well those cookies, and chocolate, and junk called me louder than my treadmill.

I tried, oh did I try, but each and every time I would have a bad food day and just give up. Too much work to eat good and exercise every day. What was the use? I have Hypothyroidism it's hard to lose weight, so why even try? Excuses. Excuses.

This year at our Ash Wednesday service I found myself at the altar praying for God's wisdom, His discernment on what I needed to change about my life during this time, to honor Him. I felt him telling me that I needed to give up this fight I have with food. The idol I have made of food has replaced Him. ouch!

I found that every time in the past, that I tried to change, it was under my own will. So this time, I have committed myself to God. I have turned it all over to Him. I have asked Him to help me daily... hourly...even by the minute to take this part of my life over and make it His.

I found a book in my personal library called 'Scale Down'. Christ based healthy life style. I have read the whole thing in 2 days...lol One of the principles I loved from the book was that no food is off limits. You can eat anything you want, when you want it. The trick is control. It's best to get a handle on your eating habits for a while with the help of the Lord, but even then if that Tagalong is calling your name eat it. Just one. Then move on ;o)

I have gone to scripture and written out those that I felt I could use when I needed to call on Him.

I am putting together an action plan, and scripture plan. I figure if nothing else, I will have an amazing walk with God ...and in the process break through this stronghold.

So my goal ...one that I have prayed over and is do-able... is 40 lbs gone by the time I am 40 yrs old which is Aug 30th. That's 1.5 lbs a week to lose. That's a goal I can achieve.... ok I can't achieve it. But with God's help... WE can.

So 40 by 40 is my new project.

I will be eating better, making better choices, learning to love me again, and getting into better relationship with God. How does one not win in that situation?!

Pray for me? :o)

This is going to be Better Than Good!

Ethiopia lunch...YUM!

Saturday morning most of the team go together at the Ethiopian restaurant in Hampton and enjoyed the food and fellowship. Most of the plates were wiped clean and I think every one loved it. :o)

This is the owner and chef. She's one busy lady!
2 beautiful smiles from 2 beautiful members!
She says it hurts her face to smile because she doesn't do it that often. That's going to change by the end of our trip...we are one goofy bunch.



Friday, February 26, 2010

Faithful Friday...

How is it Friday again?!

REALLY?!

It's been one of those weeks. Not terrible...just FULL.

Wednesday I took E to the surgical people about his g-tube site again. Looks like we have a couple more weeks with powder and cream. His gastric tissue is coming up through the hole, and only time and powder will get the hole to close back up. Gross huh? Honestly, if you had said that I would be so nonchalant about gastric tissue and g-tubes 2 yrs ago, I would have thought you had lost a marble or 2. Gastric tissue isn't a minor matter, but I know how to deal and what to do with it now. :o) Crazy man!

We also had E evaluated by the school system for speech. We found out he's eligible for services on Thursday so he will start in the middle of March. I am so glad they will be able to work with him. I know he has some frustration in not being able to articulate the way he wants to. There's alot that goes on in his head, and I know it will be helpful to be able to get some of it out. :o) The great thing is that it's done through the city, so for right now it's free. (The general assembly is meeting now and is refusing to levy taxes so are cutting a TON of programs...sad stuff really!!)

I did tempt fate.... N came home on red today. At least this time he waited 2 more days. :o) We had 9 whole days of GREEN! We are still taking him for his requested Chinese food.

We found out this morning that S's tutoring in Algebra II/Trig is working and she has an A! :o)

We are having to take our German Shepherd mix to the vet today. Found some concerning areas on his body that we are having to get checked out. I am praying hard not to waste time worrying... not doing a great job.

Getting excited about our Ethiopia trip, new things keep falling into place. YAY! I think there is a little part of me that's almost sad that it's almost here. I know it sounds CRAZY. But I have been working on this for a year now. What will I do with myself when it's over? And oh goodness I am so going to miss my family! That's the longest we will ever have been apart. It's freaking me out just a little bit. :o)

I guess I do have something to do with myself afterwards, it will just be a shift in focus. I am still the vice chair of the Mission Committee and we do some really great stuff in our church! :o) I look forward to being able to get more involved with those.

Speaking of which, the youth will be going to the Dominican Republic this summer and S is planning on going. How great is that?! :o)

I pray you all have a Better Than Good weekend. We will be enjoying some Ethiopian Food and D and I will be going on a date! :o)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Been a while

I know you have missed seeing these faces! The pics are from this past weekend when it warmed up to a balmy 56 degrees and everyone flocked to local parks and played outside. Come on Spring!!
awe mom! do we really have to smile?
Look how high I am!

Monkey bars are the best!!
oops jacket is unzipped...lol
Sweet!
Look out E-man is on the road!! This past week he told us that if we didn't fly out to WY this Christmas, he was going to get a car and drive! I guess he's practicing his driving skills?




Life sure has a way of getting away from you doesn't it?

It's been a while since my last post. With my semi-new job I am online all the time at work so no real time to get online here. I haven't really been able to get out and read other blogs. Sorry about that ya'll. :o)

Things are great here.

I am going to temp blog fate here and proclaim that N has had 7 full days of green at school. No that doesn't mean he's been eco-friendly.... it means he's been on 7 full days of good behavior! WOOHOO! Last Friday night after a full week of green we took him to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream at the mall and then to the indoor play ground. He had a blast. So far this week he's continuing his streak. It's so great! :o) I think it's building confidence in him as well.

E man is doing well also. We have run into a bit of an issue with his g-tube site. It's been oozie and yucky. I am taking him tomorrow to get it checked out. Poor guy. He has been talking about taking pills so we will see if we can get that started soon. Maybe they will be easier on his tummy as well.

The mission team is really jumping into high gear it's been great fun to see how the team has all come together and are gelling as well as stepping up to the plate to get things done. We are working on lesson plans and supplies collection now. We are all headed out to the Ethiopian restaurant near by on Saturday morning to eat some yummy food and get a taste for what we may experience. :o) I can't wait!!

S is getting ready to take behind the wheel courses so that she can get her driver's license...ugh! So so not ready for that!

Z has been busy with school and work. We have been trying to keep 1 night a week dinner's together.

Life is good. Better than Good! Praises!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cool Alternative...

I hadn't ever of nor thought about Embryo Adoption before....

Read about 2 Jens who are advocating for this adoption plan.

Their site is 3, 2, 1!!! 3 Babes, 2 Jens 1 Cause. Check them out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:1-3 (New King James Version)

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Beauty for ashes….

This phrase has been recurring in my mind for weeks now. The more I meditate on it, the more I see this as my own call while in Ethiopia. I sure can’t speak for anyone else on the Team, but this is what I feel like God is calling me to do.

I cannot heal as Christ can, but I can pray to Him for healing.
I can proclaim His liberty over their captivity.
I have arms that can comfort, and shoulders that can be cried upon.
I will Praise Him as I watch Him bring joy, righteousness and seeds of Glory planted in each life.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of a 40 day period until Easter where we can repent and focus our lives on God and the gift of His son.

We leave for our mission Team on Easter Sunday. I pray that I can use this time to turn the ashes in my own heart to beauty.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Parenting, the good bad and ugly

Sometimes when we get into the uglier parts of parenting we forget the gifts we have received in our kids.

When I say uglier parts I mean discipline, lying, cheating, teenagers, hormones, attachment, growth, attitude, back talk...all those parts that in every day life kind of set the balance out of whack.

Over the last couple of months we have had our share. We have had behavior problems, medical issues, attachment type issues, and hormones. Some of them have been harder than others. Some of them had us hiding under our pillows wondering what in the world possessed us to think we could do this parenting thing. Some of these things have threatened our sanity, and others have threatened our marriage, while some have just threatened the thickness of hair on our heads.

We have come across a new struggle. One that I can't share publicly because of it's personal nature. It's one though that has had D and I on our knees together. Just in the last couple of days we have found a place where we are solid and unified. A place where we are truly tag teaming this thing, and working together.

As I look back over the past year or so I can see how God has worked in our lives and hearts to strengthen us, as a couple and as parents.

Don’t get me wrong there are still days when I don’t know if I could get more annoyed with D….and the same goes for him.

Last night as D and I prayed together we asked God for His extra special out pouring of Grace. Grace to work through this current situation with discernment, love, and wisdom. We are placing ourselves in His hands and asking for His involvement.

As I was reminded of yesterday, parenting is a gift. I have been digesting that in my heart. Truly, I love being a parent. I love my kids. I count them as blessings and a joy. I love the smiles on their faces, I love their inquisitive minds…even the ones of the teens :o) oops Z is 20 now, guess I can’t call him a teen huh?

Parenting is hard. All of it.

But it’s also the best gift I have ever been given. I love being a mom. I love being called Mom or Momma. I love sitting on the couch snuggling with N watching cartoons, or playing Candy Land with E, or going shopping with S or giving Z his required back rub whenever he visits. I love when they say out of the blue, “I love you momma” I love the smooches and hugs and nose rubs.

So as we deal with the current crisis, I am reminded that I was given a gift in my children. I have been chosen to be their parent. I have also been chosen to be the partner to my husband and together we are a team. With God we are invincible…no matter what get’s thrown our way.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's a non-issue

E has been home now for a year and a half. Lots of things about our lives have changed, and many have just become the new norm.

I have been thinking alot more about E's hiv (I read somewhere recently that it didn't deserve big letters...I liked it) and how it effects those around him and us. A couple of things have come up recently that have had me thinking about it.

We were at his PID recently and he asked me how things were going in life, then asked how things were going at school. I began to answer basic school type stuff until I realized that wasn't what he was asking. He wanted to know about the hiv and how they were handling it. I will be honest with you, we haven't told this school.

With the first preschool being over the top and asking to have him removed, and the other one being just weird with him, we decided to let them get to know E first ...then if we had to...bring it up later. I see wisdom in this decision....and I see folly. We have recently been given the opportunity to possibly speak about him and our experience in a pretty public way, and if it works out we will have to go to the school and share with them the situation so they will be prepared.

I don't think it will make much of a difference, but I didn't think it would with the first school either. We are praying that the opportunity given to us will bring more understanding and peace than strife.

I was reading a question the other day from a mom that wondered about disclosing to a sleep over party that her daughter wanted to attend. I totally get her indecision.

Because for us this, the hiv, is a non-issue.

The fact that our kids have hiv is a non issue to us. We do not worry about contracting it, we don't worry about our kids contracting it because we are educated and careful. We just don't think about it. Some times we forget but we know that other's don't have the same luxury.

Many people just don't know that it's so very hard to share hiv. That our kids aren't a threat. I honestly don't blame any of them, I am a momma bear and if I thought someone was a threat to my child indirectly or not... I would be protecting what is mine.

This is where I run into a tough spot. I protect what is mine. I know my E-man can't hurt another child... at least not with his hiv. He may throw a toy at the kid, or knock him over on the play ground (hypothetically...he's not a violent kid...lol)

I also don't want to borrow trouble for him. We don't hide his status, except from daycare for now, but we also don't flaunt it. I hurt for the fact that as we struggle with this conundrum of who to tell ...who not to tell...it's not the half of what he may have to deal with as he grows.

We want to instill in him that he's special, he's amazing, he's strong and worthy... and the hiv...it's a non-issue.

I know I am rambling... there are just times when our non-issue seems to be an issue ....I want people to love E for who he is, not some stupid blood issue. I don't want to have to explain him to people... I hurt for the fact that there will be those that will not want to talk to him, or play with him, or love him because of those 3 little letters.

For us...it's a non-issue...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Family...another perspective

This story was on Erin's blog, and since it's private I am reposting it here.

It's another story about family... love...and loss...and redemption.

This story is from Dr. Albert Mohler's blog...

Arno was inseparable from Mr. Penguin. The little Haitian boy was almost three years old, and the plush penguin with the word "love" inscribed upon it was his most treasured object. The orphan and his penguin were always seen together.

The boy had been given the penguin just after his birth. A Dutch couple was in the process of adopting him almost from the start of his life -- they had been matched to him when he was only two months old. The penguin represented a promise.

The process of adoption took two years -- the length of time considered adequate to determine that no living relatives might claim him. According to official estimates, there were over 50,000 parentless orphans in Haiti before the earthquake came and orphaned many thousands more.

Richard and Rowena Pet were the young Dutch couple who wanted so badly to be Arno's mother and father. They had struggled with infertility for years before deciding to adopt. As they awaited the adoption of Arno, Rowena became pregnant. Last August she gave birth to Jim, who was left in the care of relatives as Richard and Rowena flew to Haiti in January to claim Arno and complete the adoption process.

The story of Arno's adoption is movingly told by reporter David Charter of The Times [London]. As he reported, "Arno was shy at first but within 30 minutes of meeting his adoptive parents he reached for Rowena’s hand and took the Dutch couple on a tour of the orphanage in Port-au-Prince where he had spent most of his short life. He began to call them Mummy and Daddy."

Richard had shared their joy with a friend in an e-mail:

“We got to the orphanage feeling a bit strange. We went around a corner and immediately saw Arno walking towards us. He was OK until he was about half a meter away, but then he panicked. The woman from the orphanage helped out and half an hour later he took Rowena’s hand for the first time. I’m sorry but I can’t help crying at the moment as I type this. Arno has been showing us everything in the orphanage. He showed us an old car they have for the children to play on. He was holding a birthday card we sent for his second birthday.”

According to Charter, adoptive parents often stay at the Hotel Villa Therese in the PĂ©tionville district of Port-au-Prince. That is where Richard and Rowena took Arno. That is where they were when the earthquake came. And that is where they died together.

David Charter tells the story, with comments by Chris Spaansen, the friend to whom Richard had sent the e-mail:

Dutch TV cameras were on hand during the frantic search by an international rescue team with members from the Netherlands, Britain and Canada. . . . Lying there amid the rubble was the unmistakable blue and yellow toy bird, Mr Penguin, marked with the word “Love”, that went everywhere with Arno. “That toy helped them to make their first contact with the little boy. It had a really special place in the family. It was a very emotional moment for all of us,” Spaansen says.

Then this:

What the cameras did not show were the three bodies, found intertwined together, as if Rowena and Richard had tried to put protective arms around Arno as the masonry began to fall. The disaster cruelly destroyed the new family, creating its own orphan back in the Netherlands. Jim, just five months old, will be brought up by Rowena’s sister, who already has her own three-year-old boy.

The bodies of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet were taken to the Netherlands together, just as they had been found together in the rubble of the Hotel Villa Therese. They had been a family for a few hours, but a family all the same. Arno had a tragically short life, but he ended that life in the arms of a mother and a father.

Who can read this account without heartbreak . . . and a heart warmed? Is there a heart so cold that it does not feel the pathos of this report, and sense the sentiment of this family's tragedy? At the same time, this is not a tragedy in the classic sense. The love of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet transcends tragedy. That is why The Times published this report, and why it stays with you so long after you read it.

Of course, for the Christian there is far more to this story. In the story of Arno Pet we find a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. [Galatians 4:4-7]

Adoption is perhaps the most powerful depiction of the Gospel found in the Bible. We are all orphans, born under the curse of sin. By the sheer grace and mercy of God, those who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are adopted as sons. Redeemed sinners are adopted as sons "through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." [Ephesians 1:5-6]

Arno Pet began life as an orphan, but he ended life as a son. He was abandoned at his birth, but he died in the arms of his parents. He did not die as Arno, he died as Arno Pet.

In the rubble of the Hotel Villa Therese the film crew found the bodies of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet. In that same rubble, we find a picture of the Gospel of Christ. He who has eyes to see, let him see.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Family

What do you think of when you hear the word family?

Do you have siblings?

Do you have a mom and a dad?

Maybe you, yourself are a mother or a father?

Maybe the time for you to become a parent hasn't happened yet?

How many children are there out there that have not had the comfort of a mother's arms?

Being a part of the adoption world I have learned so much about what family is.... or how it's now defined in my mind.

I am not one of those people that always knew I would adopt when I grew up. Never really even thought about it until God planted that seed. Man has he been fertilizing it since then!

My world now is entrenched in the adoption community. My best friend is an adoptive mom who lives most of the way across the country. I have other 'sister's in Christ' that don't live near me but are the people I call...or text :o)...when I need a pick me up, or just to let them know I am thinking of them. I have found 'family' in these women that aren't blood related, but whom I love dearly.

Just this week there was a sweet little boy who needed a family. A plea was made to the community and a family stepped forward. The nanny who cared for him in his orphanage developed a bond with him. Loved him, cared for him, slept with him on her chest... he called her momma. She stepped in until his new mommy could come take her place.

Today he died.

He didn't have a biological family with him when he died, but he was not short on love. He wasn't alone, and he won't be forgotten.

How many other children out there will not be able to say that? How many other children pass quietly into the arms of Jesus without the love of a family? Why isn't there more I can do?

I think of the children that we will encounter while we are in Ethiopia and wonder....is it enough? Do we just make it worse to come in, show them love and then leave? Have they had enough of that? Will we be able to plant the seed of love and hope in them? Share with them that they aren't alone, that there are people out here that think about them all the time, that pray for them and love them...even if we don't know their names? God does. God knows their names... He sees them. His heart is breaking because they hurt.

Family comes in all shapes and sizes...some family we have no choice in claiming...some we choose...to God we are all the same. We are all adopted into His family.



Friday, February 5, 2010

Chosen?

There's a movement afoot.

If you go to this blog you will find some amazing shirts that say "Chosen". The money raised goes to Project Hopeful. It will help families that want to adopt HIV+ children with funding as well as their project Almost Homes in Ethiopia.

What does it mean to be chosen?

When we started the adoption process I orginally felt that N was chosen for us. We put our paperwork in with the list of health and back ground issues that we were 'comfortable' with. I thought we were actually pretty liberal in our openess, but would be lying if I didn't say I was a little hopeful we wouldn't be faced with having to say no to something out of fear.

God set the plans in motion, and we were called with the information about our sweet N within a matter of days. He was 'healthy' and young and beautiful. He was what God knew we could/would handle.

What God did with our hearts through that adoption has been nothing short of amazing to me.

When we started our second adoption, I sort of felt like we were choosing...and to be completely honest with you, it was a little weird. How does one choose a child?

We moved forward. We accepted that referral for our E and then were plunged into a place we weren't even remotely expecting. Honestly we felt like we had chosen this sweet little boy while the smile that just stole your heart and the cutest little shoulder shrug you ever saw. (Never did I know how much that shoulder shrug would drive me batty later! lol)

My heart struggled with our choice of E when we were told he was near death and in a coma in Ethiopia. Had we chosen wrong? Had God not been speaking to our hearts? Was he to die before we could get there to save his life?

What I have learned in the past year was that we were in fact chosen for E. Not the other way around. If we had not chosen his referral I don’t know that anyone else would have. He was so very sick, and honestly looked so so sad and bad after his time in the hospital. Would another family have looked at his pictures and moved forward with his adoption? I don’t say that in away to toot our horns, just wondering out loud. When we got home and found out that 2 out of the 3 meds he was taking for his HIV weren’t working we realized that he would probably have gone back into the hospital in ET and not come back out.

That thought brings me to tears as I write it.

What would life be like with out my E-man? I don’t really want to know to be honest with you. There is something about him that makes him special, a light that shines to me.

We were chosen to be his parents. We were chosen to be N’s parents. N my beautiful brilliant drama king… he was chosen to be ours without a doubt.

What I have learned in this whole adoption process is that when God chooses you for something, He opens your eyes to so much more than you ever could imagine.

He can do so much more with a heart that chooses Him.

I don’t know why God chose me for this journey. I can’t wait to see what He will choose for me in the future.

Right now I stand in awe of His choice. I stand in awe at His Grace and provision. All those days we have worried about our finances, about medication, about health, about disclosure, about behavior, about other’s opinions… all those wasted days.

God has never failed us. Not once.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Need sponsor's and a GIVE AWAY


As you may know I am co-leading a mission team to Ethiopia this April.
We are leaving on April 5th and returning on April 17th.

What you may not know is that I am also running in the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon in Va Beach. So while I was running on the treadmill tonight (still snow on the ground) I had an idea. That idea is to ask for sponsors for my run.

Here's where the give away comes in!! If you sponsor me, I will write your name on my Ethiopia Team shirt (pictured above) and wear it in the race. Excited?!

So what's in it for you? For every person that sponsors me, their name will go into a drawing to win their own Ethiopia Mission Team shirt. (not the one I will be wearing while running :o))

If you have a blog, and you blog about this, and leave me a comment your name will go in the drawing.

So will you please help support me and our team? Every little bit helps. And if your donation is to pray.... I will take that as a priceless offering. :o)

Email me at andreag _ 98 @yahoo. com (without the spaces) and I will send you the info on where to send your donations.

Thank you!
May your day be Better Than Good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Weakness...

Do you ever have those days?

When the 'human' in you slips in and takes over. Steals your joy and peace?

I have had 2 of those...perhaps it's being snowed in and stir crazy, although I have actually enjoyed it. Or maybe it's hormones?

My arms have been hurting for a sweet baby girl again. I am still standing on God's promise that He will provide, but the last 2 days have been hard.

Because we have been snowed in D and I have been cleaning and purging. We did the boys play room, their dressers, as well as the closets and dressers in our room.

My first task was the boy's dressers. E's in particular because his was kind of small and over flowing with clothes that he keeps growing out of. As I was pulling out all those little clothes I was suddenly emotional. No more little boys to save these clothes for. :o( The love and joy that went into buying those clothes for our little men. They aren't tiny any more. They are growing...and growing.

I wondered as I packed, would there be a little girl to buy for someday?

I got a surprise and wonderful call from a sweet friend asking if I was ok. As we spoke, she said something that struck a chord in me. I wondered if my desire for another child was a selfish one (she didn't imply that I was, in any way) ... but does my desire stem from me...or from God? Thank you for the call!!! It was so great to hear your voice!
I have truly felt this desire was from God, as He's the only one that could have put the desire for more kids in our hearts back in the very beginning. Remember, we had teens at home, we were ready to be empty nesters. :o)

Last night D and I were out looking for a book that he needs for the new Bible Study that he's doing. We walked into the Christian book store and the song on the over head was "God of This City". I had to go into the corner to pretend I was looking at pictures so I could compose myself. Weird. When we got out to the van, D asked what was wrong. I told him that he probably didn't want to know. He pressed, so I just said "Some days are harder than others". He said nothing but held my hand the whole way home.

There is perhaps a bonus to all this longing, my boys are getting all kinds of extra lovin'. Not that I didn't love on them before but every time they pass by I grab 'em and smooch 'em. :o)

I am still working on keeping the peace that God had given me. Life is ramping up. Mission team is getting busy as we get to our last steps. Mission Committee is focusing our efforts on Haiti relief. Kids are busy in school. N will be in soccer soon. Work is getting busy and God has so truly blessed me with the ability to work from home when I need to.

Life is good. I am happy and I am blessed. Some days I am weak. I continue to trust in Him, and His plan for our lives.

ETA:
After I wrote the above, I went to my inbox to find the devotion below. Thank you God for providing in the times that I need them!
February 02, 2010
Eliminating Doubt
John C. Richards Jr.

Tap! Tap! Tap!

All of sudden, the once rowdy group came to order. The crowd's chatter died down. It was time to start the show. The maestro had arrived and the concert was to begin. There's just something about the presence of a maestro. His presence brings order out of chaos. It signifies the beginning of a wonderful musical masterpiece.

The atmosphere becomes reverent when he shows up. He demands respect that is comparable to that of a king's coronation. Jesus is no different. He has the ability to make order out of chaos and to qualm all fears. He also has the uncanny ability to eliminate doubt in our lives. How does this happen? It happens when we follow orchestral protocol. The word 'maestro' is Italian in origin and means 'master or teacher.'

Jesus is often referred to in scripture as master or teacher. He, in essence, is the Great Maestro in our lives, tapping on the strings of our hearts to bring to order the chaos in our lives.

One of the amazing things about a maestro is his ability to maintain eye contact with his ensemble. Eye contact represents attentiveness. Any good date, interview, or business interaction is characterized by great eye contact throughout. Christ is attentive to every one of our needs; so much so that he will supply each and every one of them (Philippians 4:19).

However, our own doubt causes us to lose eye contact with our Great Maestro. Peter was well aware of this fact. In Matthew's Gospel he found himself walking on water (See Matthew 14:28-31). However, his inability to maintain eye contact caused him to doubt the very thing that Jesus already told him that he could do. Eye contact with Jesus was so key when Peter walked on the Sea of Galilee that when it was lost, Peter began to sink.

Many times we can get bogged down in the waves of life and forget about the necessity of eye contact. How am I going to pay this bill? Splish. Will I ever get married? Splash. When can I start a job in the field in which I really want to work? Splash. Ask any tight rope walker and they will tell you: the key to reaching your destination is found in your ability to keep your eye on the goal. Don't look down. The apostle Paul said it best: We are called to “press toward [our] goals...” (Philippians 3:14).

Maintaining eye contact with Jesus is important when trying to eliminate doubt. Even the best musician in an orchestra can wind up being a failure if he misses his cue from the maestro. Without that visual cue, the orchestra member begins to doubt his/her role in the composition.

Where are your eyes?
Where is your focus?
Are you beginning to doubt your role in God's great composition?

I want to encourage you to refocus on the One who wrote the piece and knows your role better than anyone else. It is then, and only then, that you can begin to eliminate doubt in your life and live the life that God has called you to live. You play an important role in God's work. Without you, the harmony is slightly off.

Without you, the composition is incomplete. Stay focused, give the Maestro your undivided attention, and watch the masterpiece unfold before your eyes.

John C. Richards, Jr.