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Ephesians 1:5-6Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

A guest blog spot by my friend, Ryann of Woolen Wishes for Baby, who requested this colorway in honor of her daughter who joined their family via adoption.

Almost 2 years ago, my family completed one of the most difficult journeys we have faced yet. We bought our third child home. After over 2 years of battling we had our final child. Our battle was not infertility, but mountains of paperwork, and the legal systems of 2 countries. Our daughter Maya is a Guatemalan adoptee.

We fought for our daughter, we went through heartaches and headaches. We cried, and finally, in February 2007, we rejoiced when she was placed in our arms for the first time.

It amazes us still to this day that God created this child, thousands of miles away, that fits perfectly into our family. She was meant to be our child! She has the same curls as our biological daughter, her personality fits our family dynamic perfectly.

In this verse, adoption as sons refers to God taking us into his family. We are now able to inherit His kingdom. I remember when we were finalzing Maya’s adoption here in our state, and we were told that now she was an equal to our biological children in the eyes of the law, and we were to care for her as our own flesh and blood. Of course, although she is not biologically our child, she was born in our hearts, and equal in our minds from the time she was born. I do not see Maya as our “adopted child”, simply as our child. All that are children of God are equal in his eyes.

God wants us in his family. We have been adopted into the kingdom of Heaven, just as Maya has been adopted into our family. God rejoices as one of his children accepts salvation and joins His family, just as my family rejoiced when Maya joined our family.

If you would like to read in detail about our journey to bring Maya into our family, please read our blog–
http://adoptblog.blogspot.com/

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Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

This is the second in a nine part series on “The Fruit of the Spirit”. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with what to write about joy. Sometimes in my life, I don’t feel like I have joy. What is joy exactly? Well, the dictionary defines it as: “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.” and “a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.” That’s one big emotion.

As I was sitting here lamenting on what to write, my hubby asked me to think of who was the most joyful in the Bible. Immediately, the apostle Paul popped into my head. I thought about how often he was imprisoned, yet he continually wrote about having joy in his life.

The story in Acts 16 is incredible. Acts 16:16-26

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

The Philippian Jailer Converted

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.

Most of us won’t have to go through what Paul and Silas did.  Being beaten and then imprisoned. And what did they do while they were there?  They had a little time of praise and worship. How was this possible? Because they understood the difference in joy and happiness.

From a sermon I read on-line, “Paul understood that there is a difference between “joy” and “happiness.” A person can be happy and not have real joy. A person can have joy but not really be happy. The word “happy” comes from a root “HAP” which means “luck, chance, good fortune.” Here are some other words that come from this same root: “happen” “happening” “happenstance” “happy-go-lucky.” To remember the word “happy” just think of “happy-go-lucky.” If things “go lucky” then you can be happy! If things happen the way you want them to happen, then you can be happy.

For example, you can be happy if .  .  .  .

…it’s a nice day
…you get a real special gift for Christmas or for a birthday
…you do well on your report card
…everything is going your way

But what happens if your luck runs out? What happens if things do not happen the way you had wanted them to happen? What happens if . . . .

…the rain spoils the activity or event
…you don’t get the gift you hoped you would get
…you get poor grades on the report card
…you catch the flu
…your favorite team does not win
… your friend lets you down

Happiness depends on circumstances and happenings! If things go well, I can be happy! If things do not go well, there goes my happiness!

Joy is much different than this. JOY does not depend on circumstances, JOY depends on the LORD, and He never changes! Even though Paul’s circumstances were terrible (he was a prisoner!), he could rejoice.  We cannot always count on things happening the way we would like them to happen, but we can always count on God being God no matter what happens.”

This year, I hope to learn to be able to find joy in ALL my circumstances.  And I pray that you will too.

Psalm 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Inwardly Knit
10 Week Fetal picture

January is Sanctity of Human Life Month. As soon as I started this business, I knew I would be doing this colorway this month. This colorway is loosely based on some amazing pictures that were taken by Lennart Nilsson in his book “A Child Is Born”. This particular one shows a baby at 10 weeks gestation. In every state, abortion is legal for any and every reason up until 12 weeks of gestation, though over 75% of all abortions performed in the United States are performed before 10 weeks gestation.

To read more about each week of development, look at this site. It’s amazing!!

So on to my story. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and sometimes keeping them there allows you to be trapped in shame. So this is my story of freedom.

I was 16, living in a small town- where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. My mom was THE elementary counselor at our only elementary and had been since before I started school. There’s a lot of history, but basically- while I was raised in a Christian household- I was really taught by example that it’s more important what PEOPLE think of you than what God sees in your heart.

I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, where I was raped for my 1st sexual encounter. It was a date rape type of situation, and I stayed in the relationship cause I was stupid. He was a Senior, who was crazy about sex, and I was a freshman, who lacked a lot of wisdom and confidence. I had always vowed that I’d be a virgin when I married, and after that instance, I kept thinking I could say no. I never intended to be sexually involved. But somehow I could never say no. And he “hated condoms.” Since I was in denial about our sex life, I never took birth control . So about 10 months into our relationship, I found myself pregnant.

Honestly, I never even thought about keeping it. I knew it was wrong, yet I couldn’t imagine the shame I’d bring to my family by carrying a child. My parents expected me to appear like a “good Christian” and if I was pregnant, everyone would know. I coerced my parents into taking me to have an abortion. I cried and cried. And honestly, I lost a part of me that day. And on the way home the shame began, as my dad mentioned that I NEVER needed to mention this to anyone. Like it was our little shameful secret.

And I didn’t learn from the first encounter. Approximately a year later, I found myself in the same situation. But the precedence had been set and everyone knew what we would do. My boyfriend and I broke up for good shortly after my second abortion. Really, in some ways, I was a shell of a person for all of my high school days. It was as if I had to pretend that it never really happened because I didn’t know what I would do if I had to really face it.

Fast forward to college. I went through some counseling for my rape. I came to a place where I forgave my ex-boyfriend. But I was constantly swallowed up by shame. I got involved with a Christian sorority. I grew closer to God than I ever had before. I came to a place of repentance, true repentance. I cried out to the Lord and begged for forgiveness- for my immoral relationship, for the murders I committed. I knew that the Lord forgave me. His word promises us that He does. Yet there was always something in the way. It was like this invisible barrier to every relationship I had. Still the guilt. Still the shame.

Sometimes, I’d think about who those babies would have been. But not for long. I couldn’t stand to hear about abortion or anything like that. I really renewed my position on pro-life in college, just based on the pain I’d carried and the shame I felt. Especially, when I’d read in my local paper about loving couples who were desperate to adopt. I knew I could have given that gift to someone.

And in college, there was a girl who shared her story. She was not a Christian when she got pregnant and had her abortion. She met Jesus in a personal way, and wanted to absolved of all her sins. She went through post-abortion counseling and shared her story with us. The girls in my Christian sorority who she shared with were so supportive. I was in awe of her courage to talk about it. I saw how openly these people loved her and held nothing against her. Yet, I still continued to believe that it would not be the same for me. They’d judge me, because I was a “Christian” at the time I made the decision to kill a baby. So on and on I carried the guilt and shame, though.

I married my husband right after I graduated, and when we started talking about starting a family I grew really concerned. Often, women who have had abortions have trouble carrying children in the future. Right before we were planning on trying to conceive , we really spent some time in prayer and fasting. I confessed my sin and asked the Lord to heal my uterus. I honestly believe that He did. My cycle had been wacko before this, and all of the sudden, I was regular. My oldest daughter was conceived 3 months later, on our 2nd month trying.

When I got pregnant with my second daughter, it was laid on my heart to work with the local crisis pregnancy center. But to do that, you have to go through post-abortion counseling, if you’ve ever had one. I scheduled that and I have to tell you that this experience was a life changer for me.

You see, I believe that Christ came to make me into a new creature. And that I am no longer the person I was a long time ago. And that we all make mistakes. And whether it’s killing a baby (like me) or stealing a pack of gum from a gas station, we have all sinned against God. Yet, the blood of Christ is able to cover even the greatest of sins. And in that I have freedom. I think that I was carrying around shame that I no longer had to carry.

Am I proud of what I did? NOT AT ALL. But am I forgiven in Christ? Yes. If I could go back and change it, would I? In a heartbeat! And I believe that I’ll meet my babies (who I believe are a boys) in heaven. In Christ, I have freedom from my past. And I think that God can use my past to help someone else someday.

Though I am not proud of my decision, I am so grateful for what I’ve learned through it. I can honestly say that abortion is NOT the answer. The scars that you bear are wicked and invisible. Many women can not bond with their future children, if they can ever even carry them. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. I am so glad that I was spared that route. Though bearing those children during my teenage years would have certainly changed my life, I could have looked out for the rest of my life and known I had given someone a gift- the gift of a baby. Instead, I bore the shame and scars that were self-inflicted for 16 years, until I found Freedom in Christ.

To read about my process of finding forgiveness in Christ, read my blog about “East to West”.

Esther 2:5, 7 ” Now there was at the citadel in Susa a Jew whose name was Mordecai… He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”

Esther 2:17- “ The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. “
Esther 9:30-31- “He sent letters to all the Jews, to the provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, namely, words of peace and truth, to establish these days of Purim at their appointed times, just as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had established for them, and just as they had established for themselves and for their descendants with instructions for heir times of fasting and their lamentations. “

Esther

Esther 011

We also recently watched the movie “One Night with the King”, which is about the story of Esther. What an amazing story. Esther wasn’t in this city because she chose to be. She was a Jew, living among Persians because her family was there.

She was beautiful, and her beauty and character won over the king, Xerxes. He brought her into her harem.  She was a good Jew who had kept herself pure.  The king would have one night with her, and seeing if he liked her.  If he didn’t choose her, she would remain in his harem.  Her life would have been drastically different.  Fortunately, God caused Xerxes to find favor with Esther, and he made her his queen.

It is through Haman’s vengeful behavior, that Esther has an opportunity to stand up for herself and make the Jews known.  She had never revealed her identity to the king, and at the thought of death, she decides to confront him.  She prayed and fasted, and her people did as well.  I believe, God revealed to her the way to approach Xerxes, so that he would be able to listen to her.

She goes to him, unannounced.  Someone who approached the king without invitation was subject to death.  She was amazingly brave in her willingness to go before the king, in order to save her people.  She arranged for a series of 3 banquets, where she wined and dined Xerxes and Haman.  Just enough time for Xerxes to remember Mordecai and the deeds he had done.  And just enough time to show what an evil man Haman was.  God’s timing was perfect.  I think that God had Esther there for such this time.  So she could demonstrate the saving power of her God and how his timing is perfect.   He is a great God and is able to save us from even the most unlikely consequences.


Genesis 1:14-19 “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”

This colorway is one of my “Days of Creation” series.

Day 4!

“Eventide” and “Dusk” are both names for Evening. I love sunsets that are just amazing! I was thinking about a sunset we saw in Washington D.C and how lovely it was. I found this picture of a sunset in Hawaii at http://www.hawaiipictures.com
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I’m sure that if I think it looks absolutely stunning in a picture, I can only imagine how spectacular it is in real life.  When God created the sun and the moon and set them into orbit, he gave us such an awesome gift. Each day we see the handiwork of his creation in the beautiful sunrises and sunsets!

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” has some wonderful information regarding Day 4 of creation: the sun, moon and the stars.  On page 26, “The moon orbits the earth at a perfect distance at about 240,000 miles which creates the necessary tides upon the oceans. These tides clean up the oceans and their shores, but if the moon were to move in just 1/5 of this distance, the contintents would be plunged under water twice a day. ”

“It is difficult to examine our amazing universe and not conclude that there was a Designer. Psalm 19:1 says,’The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.’ Romans 1:20 says, ‘For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.’

“Although there are only 4,000 stars that can be seen without a telescope, the Bible has declared that the number of stars are as the sand on the seashore. (Genesis 22:17.) Modern giant telescopes have verified that there are about 10 ^25 (ten million billion billion) known stars in the universe.  It is of no small wonder 90% of astronomers believe in God!”


Genesis 1: 11-13 ;2:8-9 “Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.”…
“The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

This colorway is one of my “Days of Creation” series.

Day 3- Part 2!

This colorway actually came from a lei I got at a MOPS retreat. I’ve been staring at the colors for months now. I love the way they go together. It made me think of Hawaii. I’ve seen pictures of the lush vegetation there. I would really like to visit there someday.

Eden is often a place I’ve often thought about. It was this garden that God planted for Adam and Eve to enjoy themselves in. And God caused “every tree that was pleasing to the sight” to grow there. Can you imagine the beauty of it? I’m not sure I can.

God wants us to know him in everything. Even the plants shout out that they were loving made by a creator. I found 2 incredible articles from Answers in Genesis. One is on orchids and how complex they are and point to a creator. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i1/orchids.asp
The other is “God’s little green machines” by by John V. Collyer

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v16/i3/machines.asp

“God’s little green machines all run on solar power. Long before man discovered how to harness solar power, the Creator had installed miniature ‘solar panels’ in every green leaf.

We sow a seed. The seed is programmed to remain dormant until water and warmth are available. With moisture the stored food in the seed becomes soluble and growth begins.

First, little roots go down seeking more water. Then little leaves come up searching for light and air, exposing their surfaces at right angles to the sun. Another of God’s little green machines has come to life, instructed by the miniature program within it.

The leaves expand, and expose their solar panels to the light for energy to power the chemical factories within each leaf that marvelously combine air and water to form sugars. This amazing process has been taking place ever since the Creator said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding see, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself’ (Genesis 1:11)

In this incredible process called photosynthesis, solar energy is used to manufacture chemicals, whereby sunlight falls on the green cells in the leaf, empowering them to make such chemical changes as splitting molecules of water into their components oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is released into the air for us to breath, while the hydrogen is used in the making of sugars as it is combined with carbon dioxide from the air.

This whole wonderful process (infinitely more complex than this simple explanation) is being performed while ever the sun shines, all over the world, by countless numbers of God’s little green machines. It has proved to be beyond the ability of the most skilful scientists to replicate. They, and we, marvel, at the wonder of it, and if we are wise, learn the lesson that it teaches.

This process, the basis of all our food supply, was created before any animals were placed on earth, and is evidence of the practical loving care of the Creator for His creatures. His ‘green machines’ are a universal reminder of the fact of divine creation, and that day three, when plants were created, was quickly followed by day four when the sun took over the task of providing energy for God’s plants.”

I hope the next time you see a beautiful garden, you don’t overlook the details God has placed before you.  He has shown you some of Him in His own special way!