Monday, April 21, 2014

Scripture Weaving

One of the sweetest women who SHINES JESUS is in my Sunday school class at church.

She has come through A LOT in her life.

She has suffered at the hands of evil longer than I can believe is possible. Yet her very face radiates love, peace and true joy.

She is a life changed by Jesus.

And she is a constant encouragement to those of us who know her. (And really, I don't know her well, but I am drawn to Jesus in her...He is strong, powerful and so present. The way she radiates His love makes you want what she has!)

Today, she led our class discussion on the 23rd Psalm.

She shared about a class she took that encouraged everyone to pray this psalm aloud 5 times a day for thirty days...and see if it changed their lives.

She did this upon waking, at breakfast, at lunch, dinner and before bed. She admitted that after awhile it became too rote for she began to pray it aloud weaving other Scripture into it.

The result changed her life.

She continues to pray this Psalm...embellished with other Scriptures...on her way to a challenging job. If you heard about her job you would think she had the most important job in the universe the way she talks...but in reality she's working with difficult children from the vantage point kitchen in a school setting.

She reminds me of Brother Lawrence. 
(if you don't know about him worshiping God while washing dishes, you MUST go read him!)

Then, she offered to allow us listen to her 23rd Psalm prayer...

...and oh my it was glorious! Beautiful. Like a bird taking a thread and fluttering through the Scriptures weaving and folding them together in a most heart-binding way.

And what is so cool...this is not a static version. She testified that the Spirit changes the Psalm based prayer with different verses that come into play as her life needs change.

A Scripture weaving.

And in a bold move, I asked her if I might have a copy of what she read to I could study her method and begin to do it myself. She blushed and kindly obliged. I then stepped out and asked her if I might share it with you...and again she said yes.

I give you the most beautiful Scripture weave from Stephanie:

Psalm 23:

"(1) Oh, my Abba Father, Jesus my Savior and Redeemer, and sweet Holy Spirit, my comfort, my counsel, my encourager, my ever present help (Ps 46:1)...Lord, you are my Shepherd, and therefore I shall not be in want.

(2) You make me lie down in green pastures Lord where I find rest in You. You lead me beside quiet waters where I can be still and know that you are God. (Ps 46:10)

(3) You restore my soul. You have given back what the enemy has stolen from me, and given me life in abundance. (John 10:10) Thank you, Father, that you lead me in the paths of righteousness that I might bring glory to your name. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Ps 119:105) Hallelujah!

(4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff bring comfort and protection to me in Jesus' name.

Praise you Father for your promise to never leave me nor forsake me. (Joshua 1:5)

You are my strong tower (Ps 61:3), my strength and my shield. Thank you for the promise that if you are for me, there is none who can stand against me in Jesus' name! (Romans 8:31) Praise you that no weapon formed against me shall prosper in the mighty name of Jesus! (Isaiah 54:17) Oh, the weapons will come, I know Lord, but they have no power over me. Thank you for sending Jesus that I would have victory in this life! (Romans 8:37) According to your Word, you send your holy warriors on my behalf because my battles are won in the spirit realm rather than in this carnal world. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:12-13)

(5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. On that table Lord, you present me with the spiritual armor I need. (Ephesians 6) Thank you for the helmet of salvation. I pray it would protect my eyes and ears from that which is not of you. I pray it would protect my mouth from saying anything that is not noble. Give to me a sound and renewed mind today Lord (Ephesians 4:23), and help me to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of the mind of Christ against anything that would exalt itself. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Thank you for the breastplate of righteousness that protects my heart and my spirit. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Ps 51:10) Thank you for the shield of faith that protects me from the arrows of doubt, fear, anxiety, depression and discouragement. Your belt of truth binds me together and holds my armor in place. Guide me Father to apply your truth, your Word, your love letter in all things that come my way today. You have given me the sword of your Holy Spirit which is ultimately your Word going forth. And I wear the boots that carry me in the way that I should go. Remind me always that I can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

You anoint my head with oil; healing oil, and the oil of gladness. (Isaiah 61:3) You have given beauty for the ashes of my brokenness. Hallelujah! My cup is overflowing with your goodness!

(6) Surely it will follow me all the days of my life! Each and every morning Lord, your mercies are new! (Ps 136:1) Thank you Father! I dwell in peace that reaches far beyond my understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) Your grace Father God, is more than sufficient for me, and makes me strong in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Hallelujah! I am covered in your unconditional agape love. Help me Father, to love and forgive others as you have loved and forgiven me. My heart is filled with your unspeakable joy! (I Peter 1:8) Yes and Amen!! And Father, thank you for the hope of Jeremiah 29:11, that you have plans for me; plans to prosper me in the things of you, and not to harm me; plans to grant me hope and a future...above all to spend eternity with you. Lord, you also said in Isaiah 40:31, that if I wait upon you, you would renew my strength as on the wings of eagles who rise aove the storms, tha tI would runa nd not grow weary, and that I would walk and not faint. Help me to run the race you have set before me that I would finish it well. I pray that my life would be a reflection of You, and a preparation of praise and worship when you one day call me home to dwell with you in your kingdom forever. 

Praise the Lord!

I cannot imagine how different my own days would be if I began them praying a Scripture weave like this! (Not every verse woven in was cited...but I included the ones she noted. I recognized much more!) 

How would this impact your life if you took the 23rd Psalm and wove other Scriptures into it as He lead you? 

Something else she said, was that often what God prepares the table with in verse 5 is different. Different Scriptures come to mind for the table for that day. On this particular day when she scribed this, she needed those weapons from Ephesians 6. 

I LOVE that this process is DYNAMIC.

I hope this inspires you to begin praying a Scripture Weave too! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vignette from a Weekday Afternoon

I stand in the kitchen stirring the pot. My eyes are glazed over. 
My man walks in from the day and I lean over the bubbling pot to kiss his lips.
("Every marriage is either going forward or backward…let's keep going forward," I remind him.)
He's had to step over a plethora of boots, coats, toys, dirty diapers tied in Walmart bags waiting to be taken out to the garage trash. Two kids sit at the back door making "music" blowing on a harmonica and banging on "drums." It's just white noise.
He asks me, "Who died?"
I look at him puzzled.
He has come in, stepped over the kids, kissed my lips, set his lunch container down and his mind has done something mine has not: tuned into the radio.
"Oh! I forgot that was on," I say wearily.
Apparently NPR has been reporting on some famous person's death.
And I laugh as I tell him, "Ya know, I put that on when I begin dinner…thinking I'll enjoy listening to something intelligent. Something that will remind me I am a thinking adult. Something that will lift me out of potty training, medical need monitoring, settling squabbles, reminding people to do chores and checking on homework. Reminding me that I hold a place on planet Earth."
Then I realize: I am totally in my own Land of Make Believe.
That is all.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

So You Wanna Change the World...Tracing One Thread

My hands click the bluetooth keyboard as I sit in the MRI waiting room. The TV drones on in the background.

Esty is on the table or would it be "in the tube" for a scan on her brain and spine.

It's just to get a baseline...when you adopt, you often don't get much information.

But I write today not about our present circumstances...but rather about something that happened over 100 years ago.

In Asia.

Some American missionaries made a life change to pack up their lives, say goodbye to their loved ones and board a boat bound for the other side of the world.

Their destination? The Philippine Islands.

I do not know their names. I do not know their stories. 

But they had a direct, traceable impact on Esty...a future child born over 100 years later in China. 

Go with me as I trace this.

These missionaries shared the gospel (the Truth that Jesus died once for all and we can be set free from all our wrongdoings and can join Him in Heaven one day) with villagers.

At that time, no one believed in Jesus.

Until...a man and wife heard the news and put their faith in Jesus. 

Their lives changed. I do not know the details of how.

But they had a son, and that son also believed in Jesus. As he grew up, he attended medical school. He prayed a prayer, "If you'll let me become a doctor, I'll spend some of my time serving You, Lord."

This young man DID become a doctor. And then, he moved to the United States of America.

And he lived in Columbus, Ohio.

He opened a private practice. Remembering his promise to Jesus, he ended up opening two clinics for the homeless. 

And soon, this became "not enough."

The doctor closed his private practice and began to serve fulltime.

He began to be burdened for the millions of people around the planet who have no access to medical treatment.

He moved his feet in sync with his heart. He went back home to the Philippines. He began to serve the poorest of the poor.  He performed surgeries that saved lives.

And somewhere along the way, he met a woman who shared his passion. She wanted to serve alongside this amazing doctor. They married.

The two have served now over THIRTY YEARS in an amazing 40 countries. Everywhere from Africa to Asia, Eastern Europe to South America. They have not raised money to do this, but personally funded their missions. Then, they went a step further...

They invited people to go WITH them.

And my husband was one of those who went. 

He was a tender 16 years old. His mother said "yes" and allowed him to pack a bag and get on a plane and fly to Africa.

It was his first experience leaving the country...and his luggage got lost.

He also lost his heart. He fell in love with missions.

What this doctor did, was light a passion in my future husband's heart to care for the poor in the 3rd world.

This forever impacted the path of my husband. He returned home and nothing looked the same. He knew that he would grow up and serve others overseas.

Meanwhile, God had done a similar work in my own heart. I was called. I was committed. I had gone and served.

And this brought us together as a couple. We married and began "us."

"Us" has ALWAYS revolved around missions and being on mission.

We served together in China. Then, while we were in process to serve career to India (why I have a nose ring...not just for "style" in America!), our son was tragically taken from this life. We reeled.

But then, in the years that followed, we discovered that God's calling on us included adoption. Children from those countries we had prayed and ached for.

We had our hearts broken for the "least of these," orphans who were in desperate need for families to choose them. And they have brought the MOST joy imaginable.

This brings me back to Esty. She was an orphan. Waiting in an orphanage with a whole host of medical issues, and no one stepped forward for her.

For years.

And God called us to her.

I am convinced that we are here today, at this American hospital, with this child as my daughter in an MRI tube because over 100 years ago, those American missionaries gave up their present reality to serve in far-away Asia.

You see...those missionaries led the first believers, who had a son who became that doctor, who took that young boy overseas, who married me, who adopted her.


Do YOU want to change the world? You don't have to do something ENORMOUS.

You don't have to become famous, write a book or get win American Idol. You don't have to find a cure for cancer, bike around the world or become a CEO.

All of those would be nice, I'm sure.

But you don't HAVE to, to be able to play an integral part in changing the world.

Those first believers in the village? What was their role in this thread? They parented their son. They encouraged him to become a doctor. (I don't know any direct stories of them, so these are educated guesses.) But they did what was right before them.

Do you want to change the world?

I do.

And the awesome thing is that you just need to be obedient to what is right in front of you.

Who knows? You might be able to trace the hand of God through your life. :)

That doctor? 

His name is Pedro Obregon. His wife is precious Judy. We got to spend an evening with them just this past weekend as they were inducted into the Medical Missions Hall of Fame.

What was so cool was that when we lived in China, we got the JOY of bringing him into the village where Brian worked! It had gone full circle...the boy who traveled with the doctor to then-Zaire, was hosting the doctor in his own "stomping ground" -- the remote mountain villages of rural China. It was truly an AMAZING thing.

I love the way God plans our lives! He has tucked so many joys into so many corners...just waiting for us to discover them!

And what a joy when we can trace His hand back through time and see it!

I'd love to hear the story of those American missionaries who left back in 1900 for the Phillippines. They also had a hand in what's happening now.

Isn't it fun to think about? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

He's Been A Shaw for a Year (an iPhone photo review)

I can hear my furnace running.

That's AH. MAZ. ING.

That's because my heroic husband took all seven children to Wednesday night church so I could have some quiet time.

I've been needing it. 

Oh me. Oh my.

I don't know where you are as you read this, but I am writing this from the corner of Ohio North Pole. Snow lingers. Ice still lines the edges of the driveway. Winter apparently believes it is mid-December and we are all excited for a white Christmas. But alas, I do believe officially spring starts in a matter of hours.

We do not have a viable basement, and last I checked, our square footage has not increased as we have added children. 

It has been A.LONG.WINTER.

Kids (and Momma) have been cooped up.

But I must hand it to Zeb though, he has inspirationally gotten out his bicycle to ride on the ice. When Daddy told him that might not be the smartest move, he returned to the garage and came out with stilts.

Anyway, this peace and quiet is incredible. The furnace kicked on again. And it's quiet enough that I can hear it! I am choosing to ignore the phone ringing. I wouldn't normally be here, right?


I want so much to reflect.

But now, in the stillness, I remember.
I remember the joy of making this child our son.

(and just for fun, all these pictures have come from my iPhone. It's a great snapshot of daily life…not a single shot from our "good" camera.)

It was a year ago.

We were in China again, the four of us, to bring home our baby.

We were replaying something that ten years prior had us living in China.

10 years of growing did a lot to us. :) (yeah, yeah, this photo WAS pre-iPhone, but I snapped a picture of it with my iPhone!)

 We were given our boy ONE YEAR AGO YESTERDAY. It was Jensi's 13th birthday. He clearly was NOT sure he wanted this to happen.

This was our official adoption picture. He still was pretty freaked out. This was exactly a year ago today. He became Toby Shaw that day. (note his right hand position…that's gonna change!)

 After these first days, we have never ever seen this look on this child's face again.

When we met him, he had never eaten solid foods. We quickly changed that. We distinctly remember teaching him to use his teeth! He delighted in being fed noodles at a local Chinese restaurant.

 This is a shot from our orphanage visit. He is sitting on the orphanage director's lap following our big dinner out. Do you see that loving interaction? He was so blessed to have such an amazing place care for him for the first 2 1/2 years of his life.

 Now THIS is the face we began to see emerge! And then we went home to America…

Then many "firsts" began to happen for Toby. First time riding on a horse!!

 A common activity of playing "drums" with absolutely anything! We kept a bike helmet on his head 24/7 at first as he fell CONSTANTLY and would split his head open. He had not walked around much at the orphanage and had some serious balance issues, especially missing toes.

 He and I went out to Shriner's Hospital for Children to visit with the Arthrogryposis specialists.

 This picture reminds me of how before his arm surgery, Toby did most things with his toes/feet! His hands and arms limited him greatly. How quickly I have forgotten!

 We visited on "clown day" apparently!

 Daily summer life having lunch with his siblings.

 This is the way we go to the library…

 Posing with me and his bro…this took so many shots to get it right!

 July 1st Toby went in for some very serious surgery to rotate the position of his arm/hand and release his elbow. Also some work was done on a toe.

 Recovering in Momma's arms. Right where he belongs.

 Not happy, but a serious trooper. At the hospital waiting for release.

 Just a few days after surgery. His spirit amazes EVERYONE!!

 Fourth of July…he celebrates his new country!

 Four Shaw boys in the back of our new 12 passenger van waiting for fireworks!

 Flying back to Shriner's in a Cessna!! Woo hoo!

 Getting crowned by the Shriner Queen…this was more than hysterical!

 Attending an Arthrogryposis picnic and delighting in meeting new friends with the same condition.

Ice cream!! He looks so little to me here!
 Lunching it up with another AMC Chinese adoptee…FuXia. (I love this boy, seriously. If I ever feared older child adoption, this kid sealed the deal for me.)

 Cray cray road trip with 6 kids and bikes!!

 First time to the ocean Lake Erie. :)

 Laughing at the Bible story at night. Seriously, this was not canned. I can't remember what made them all laugh so hard but I felt like a rock star catching it!

 His first ever birthday cake. This is "Bu Ow" which is his name for his favorite bulldog stuffed animal.

 Family picnic day!
 Too cute not to share!

 Back to school preparations were underway…and these three where hiding in lockers!

 Nightly homework had begun. Toby was working hard alongside his brother.

 Painting while others were in school.

 The day we re-adopted Toby in America…6 months after we actually adopted him we were allowed to do this. This gave him an Ohio birth certificate.

 Giggling with his sister. I love so much about this!

 Running outside with Toby in his too-small pjs to let him experience his first snow! (This was back in October. WE.STILL.HAVE.SNOW!!!!!)

 Didn't choose every picture of his multiple broken arms…but this is his second or third. Dear boy falls and that arm that has not had surgery (elbow release) yet snaps easily and breaks the top of the ulna…and tears his tricep muscle.
 Playing with siblings…pretending they are a Chinese dragon in a parade!

 Playing on grandma's piano with his big brother, Zeb.

 Putting the star on his first ever Christmas tree.

 Playing "Joseph" and kissing baby Jesus' knee.

 Silly Toby!

 Snuggling with a black baby doll. I love our multicultural toys!

 At his first ever movie in the theater: Frozen! (and we still are!)

 Getting ready to bring his new sister home from China! (Back when we thought she'd use a wheelchair around our house!) What's that on his nose you ask? He tried shaving with Daddy's razor.
 A return trip to Shriner's gave him a straight splint for when he naps to continue working his elbow into both flexion and extension.

Joint child dedication for our littles at church…we love our effervescent pastor! (this picture is a cheater…not off iPhone!)

 Talking on a "shell phone." Seriously? How could he be so funny!?

Esty has come home! First picture together as a sibling set of SEVEN!!

 A sibling with is same cultural roots! What a joy!

Playing in the snow with sisters.
 A 4th time breaking his elbow/arm. But so cute, eh?

Snuggling with siblings.
Starting preschool…attending with his big brother and even riding the bus together! (I'm loving the new brother-bond I see emerging between these two!)
So yesterday we came full circle…this is Jensi's 14th birthday…and the one year mark of getting Toby out of his orphanage. Look at that face of pure joy!!

What a year! What a joyful addition this dear boy whose file sounded scary but was code for "Biggest blessing in disguise" and I am sooooooooooooooo thankful we said YES in faith and made him part of our family!!! We are the winners!!!

And…in case you've wondered…the house has gotten noisy once again as little feet have pattered in leaving a massive wake of boots, shoes, coats as kisses and hugs get dished out. Time for me to go do some g'night rounds.

Goodnight o first-year-with-Toby!!!

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