Good Friday

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:24 NLT)

Jesus Paid it ALL

I hear the Savior say,
Thy strength indeed is small!
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

For nothing good have I
Where-by Thy grace to claim
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat

I love that old hymn. I know it would be completely normal to just glance over those lyrics out of it being familiar. But I encourage you to read it. Take it in. It’s a powerful, wonderful song.

I am STILL trying to comprehend the sacrifice He made for us. I certainly do not deserve it. And yet here it is, freely given. He gave love in the most sacrificial and selfless way. He defines love in a way that I can not wrap my head around.

He is true love.

“How He loves us, oh how He loves us….”

I don’t have it all together, I don’t know the Bible like the back of my hand, I am still learning and still having “aha!” moments in my walk with Christ. But one thing I know for sure is He loves us. A love like no other. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that compares to His love. So I ask myself how can I not love in return, when someone gives love in this way? Why wouldn’t I respond to this depth of love? There are times when satan will attempt to put doubt in our mind about our faith. But this Love, it trumps all that doubt. It says “I love you this much….” and it compels me to seek Him, find Him, know Him and love Him. And I recognize it won’t be done perfectly but “O how marvelous! O how wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!”

So that’s all I got. I would love to have something compelling and thought provoking but I am just at a loss for my own words. I have found myself singing a lot today. 🙂

He. Loves. Us.

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With Everything

Two posts in one day! I know, where does she find the time. Actually I write them all in segments so, there ya have it. 😉 And this one’s quick. I have to preface this though with a confession. Reading the girls Bible with them and trying to be as much in the Word on my own time and also filling my mind with worship music has been totally breaking me down. You see, I believe what the Bible says. I believe in this music and when I sing it its convicting and encouraging and I don’t just sing along with out it touching a nerve. What I’m getting at though is sometimes I completely stink at loving others. I mean if we’re really honest most of us are only good at loving ourselves and loving those who are easy to love. But Jesus loves everyone! Our sins nailed Him to that cross and He loves us all with, how The Story Book Bible puts it, “A Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” So this song, along with the one in my last post, (and seriously, watch the videos!) It’s so powerful. Two songs, two words, I want them to define me. Surrender. Everything.

With Everything by Hillsong (video here)

Open our eyes
To see the things that make Your heart cry
To be the church that You would desire
Your light to be seen

Break down our pride
And all the walls we’ve built up inside
Our earthly crowns and all our desires
We lay at Your feet

So let hope rise and darkness tremble
In Your holy light
That every eye will see Jesus our God
Great and mighty to be praised

God of all days
Glorious in all of Your ways
The majesty the wonder and grace
In the light of Your Name

Let hope rise and darkness tremble
In Your holy light
That every eye will see Jesus our God
Great and mighty to be praised

With everything, with everything
We will shout for Your glory
With everything, with everything
We will shout forth Your praise

With everything, with everything
We will shout for Your glory
With everything, with everything
We will shout forth Your praise

Our hearts they cry, be glorified
Be lifted high above all names
For You our King with everything
We will shout forth Your praise

Passion Week Wednesday!

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Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a really great week and that the Lord is blessing and moving on your hearts as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I got to be honest, this week has been filled with joy in our home as I’ve been doing a lot of Easter centered things with the girls.

First let me share with you a couple of sources that I have obtained all these ideas. I’m not real “original” but I’m getting better at executing others shared thoughts. Yay!

All the activities I have been doing I retrieved from another blog ministry that I follow called The Alabaster Jar. I encourage any of you ladies to wander over there sometime because this woman, Jolene, is so genuine in her faith and extremely encouraging and honest in her posts. I really enjoy reading her blog. And she has lots of great stuff to instill Gods love in our children!

The other major component in our. pre-Easter, week is this completely awesome children’s Bible, Jesus Story Book Bible. We actually have been reading through it since my sweet friend Kaitlyn bought it for the kids around Christmas time however we have skipped forward to be reading about Jesus life, death and resurrection. If you have children and don’t have this book I am telling you, you have to get it. It’s so good! Sometimes I think I learn more from it than anyone else! It goes through the Bible, Old to New Testament, including all the major stories, and it always wraps up each story with how it relates to Jesus coming and rescuing us. It’s simple and yet so powerful and the girls love hearing me read it.

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Check out that sweet book mark Ryann made me at church. Yes He is!

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A fun easy project for the artist. I can’t believe I didn’t take an after photo because it did turn out pretty cute.

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Micaila being a good big sister and helper. Often I’ll be doing something and Caleb will start getting bored and fussy and on her own initiative Micaila will go hold him for me.

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Okay so this was super fun and easy too! Actually they all were, precisely why I liked them! The Empty Tomb, He is Risen! We did this Monday morning. Everything you need is pictured, directions here and it was extremely simple for the girls to assemble themselves. Big thumbs up!

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After the fact I thought, “Should have used darker font color!” Oh well, “He is RISEN!”

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Here we are doing the Resurrection Rolls. And beware, they are really yummy and you might eat the whole can of crescents in one sitting,….. maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. 😉 Directions here. And I coated the crescents with extra of the melted butter sugar mixture. :-/

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Not only has it been a lot of fun doing all these activities but it’s been so cool because the girls, Micaila especially, are really getting Easter and why we celebrate it. Y’all know how I feel about the bunny and baskets. We did our “Welcome Spring” and let them dye eggs. But doing this leading into Easter and reinforcing what Jesus did for us has been so gratifying. Micaila doesn’t want me to put the Bible down! Now that is something to be excited about!

And not only have we been immersed in His story and explaining through these activities, Jason has been basically having a Hillsong concert every evening when he gets home, blasting the worship music through out the house. Check out some of their songs, get wrapped up in why we will be celebrating this weekend.

lyrics from I Surrender by Hillsong

Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me

Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me

Passion Week, getting ready for Easter!

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

I am in complete awe over what my Savior has done for me. I am genuinely speechless, except I can say I am extremely excited for Sunday to celebrate that He is risen. I’m praying for all of us this week. My family, friends, acquaintances, and also every person who walks into a church setting Sunday or over the weekend, that we would see and know and experience the realness of God. That we would fully understand how much he loved us by sending his Son. I’m praying for those of us who believe and those who do not believe. We all need Jesus and I pray that this weekend, maybe for some the first time, that we completely, 100%, with all that we have embrace Him. It’s His weekend, I’m so ready!

Overwhelmed by His love

Westridge

Initially I was including all this in my other post, but then it just got a little lengthy so I thought, “better break it up…”

Finding a church home can be somewhat of a challenge. There are so many things that play into whether or not a specific Body of Christ feels like family. It was particularly difficult for me, coming from a church that actually was family.

We had been attending a church during a season of “settling” when we first moved to GA. We needed to make choices, that we had not made before, completely on our own as a family and I really believe for the first year and a half God was teaching us how to do that. Jason and I were learning to depend more on him and each other, in a new way. After I had Caleb and a few trips visiting Florida (back home) I started to realize that though this church we were attending was a great place of worship and a truly genuine body of Christ, we were missing something. That something was intimate friendship within the church. It was not enough to go and have good worship on Sunday morning. We needed to connect with people. We did try to connect through bible study and serving but something was not clicking. The lack of connection and accountability was stunting our growth in Christ. Not a good place to be.

We are now members of a new body of Christ. And as God would have it we even have some family here. Another thing that has confirmed this decision to move on, Jason has been so enthusiastic about this church. Being that Jason is the head of our family, the spiritual leader, it’s absolutely vital that HE feels connected to the body of Christ. He’s excited about the mission of the church, he’s talkative after worship (like about the worship, not just lunch, lol!) and he wants to be plugged in and connected with the fellow members of the body here. We are at a place of unison right now in regards to who we, as a family, want to be in Christ. That’s not to say we are perfect, have a perfect marriage and agree on everything! But it sure is beautiful and clearly God’s will for us as a married couple to be united spiritually.

On the heals of our coming to Westridge something very tragic happened to a staff member, the lead music pastor. He was killed while out cycling and left behind his beautiful family, a wife and 3 young children. This shook the congregation, myself and Jason included. We didn’t even know him personally but we worshiped with him and our hearts still ache for his family and the church family, our family in Christ. It woke us up though. He was young and healthy and more importantly it was obvious he was in love with Jesus! It made us remember that we can be taken from here at any moment and life is too short to waste on meaningless things that hold no eternal value. As I have heard so many say of Andrew Pray “He made it count. He finished well.” He didn’t even know he was nearing a finish but he was obviously living in such a way that was prepared to finish well whenever that time came.

But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him……. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:17, 19, 20 ESV)

I believe God used these events to light our fire again, awakening us. It has stirred up our desire to pursue adoption and/or foster care. It is enabling Jason and I to grow together in Christ which affects every area of our life. I feel as if our hearts are in sync and aligning with what we believe Gods will is. I’m witnessing my husband lead more and make decisions based on convictions. I’m finding myself being more submissive to Jason’s leadership, which only encourages him to lead better. We aren’t perfect, but I am seeing our priorities shifting. Imperfectly in the works, but praying we’re looking more like this.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 22:37 The Message)

Seems like a perfect time to introduce something. It’s been in the making for a while. We are no longer The Georgia Grahams. Now you can be looking for us as: GraceBecause he was full of grace and truth, from him we all received one gift after another. (John 1:16 NCV)

 

Christian Community

I am so excited! God has been orchestrating some really awesome things in our life that I’ve been wanting to share but just have had a hard time working it all into a post. I have felt as if He is opening our eyes to so much and I have wanted to write but when I’d sit down to do it, nothing was congealing! And it had occurred to me, “ya know Katie, sometimes the things God reveals to you isn’t for everyone else.” Because certainly there will be things that he shows us that are specific to our unique situation. God is awesome like that!

With that said I think the Holy Spirit has made it clear what He wants me to write about.

God recently answered a specific prayer I have been praying since we moved here. I have been praying that Jason and I would find community with other Christians. Not that we would find other Christians to “hang out with” but people we would go deeper in our Faith with than we ever have before. That we would develop friendship with other followers of Christ who will hold us accountable to grow and challenge us to be all we can be in Christ.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 25, 27 NLT)

As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other. (Proverbs 27:17 NCV)

It turns out that this type of community we had been praying for was right under our noses. See Westridge post to hear how God brought us to our new church family.

We have started diving in at Westridge. And praise God we are beginning to establish community and fellowship with some members there. I recently started attending a women’s prayer group and what a blessing it has been. There is so much life within this group as we all come from different walks and seasons and generations. I love learning from these ladies and being encouraged by them and their lives that they so openly and honestly share. Yesterday morning though I was reminded that it’s not enough to be attending church and bible studies and prayer groups if you still are not living as an effective Christian. The verse in 2 Timothy came to my mind:

These women are always learning new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth fully. (2 Timothy 3:7 NCV)

If you haven’t, (ever or in a while) I encourage you to read that entire chapter.

I don’t want to be one of those women, “always learning but never understanding fully….” As long as I’m here on earth I will be in a state of continual learning but I want that learning to result in actions that glorify Him.

We also have been invited to meet with current friends in a “small group” setting. The individuals who formed this meeting, prayerfully considered each couple, and within this group I think God is very much at work on each of our hearts in new and different ways. Right now we are meeting monthly which initially I thought “I need more time together than that.” But we do see each other pretty frequently and I’m so grateful for that kind of time when we gather. Since we already had friendship in place this new focus is bringing us together on a deeper level. Exactly what we needed! I love how God works and truly does give according to our needs.

 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

God is so faithful and gracious to begin this formation of intimate Christian community on the forefront of our foster care journey. I’m so thankful and can see how he is at work building us a solid support system. He’s equipping us with what we need to be effectively advancing His Kingdom. That is something to praise Him for!

Caleb 8 months, the park, photos, thankfulness

Mainly pictures. 🙂

Baby boy is now 8 months old. Here are some adorable pictures we took on his 8 month “birthday”.

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The weather the last couple of days has been so enjoyable so we went to a couple of parks and here are pictures from one of our favorites White Oak. I went well prepared this time with plenty of bread for the ducks and the girls really had a great time feeding them. Can I just say that we are so excited and ready for Spring to be here?! I mean I really can’t wait. There are these yellow flowers (or maybe they would be considered weeds but whatever!) blooming everywhere and I told Jason I’m anxious to get back in the yard and add a little color to our dead grass haha!

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This girl could be our future runner, she’s got great form right? And in boots!

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Snack for the ducks and for the children, hehe.

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And then there is this guy, obviously having a blast at the park with all the mulch and dirt. 😉

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I was thinking the other day about Micaila. Feelings of thankfulness, in regards to her health, filled me. And then this morning noticed a few returning spots on her feet from the HSP. Still thankful. It’s only a few and I don’t think she’s experiencing any discomfort from it. I thought to myself though that I need to exercise thanksgiving in every situation and more often. After the onset of the HSP and then it easing up we went right back to normal life and it occurred to me, “I am so thankful! And I haven’t told you God. Thank You, God, for her healing. Thank You for her HSP not being ‘worse case scenario’. Thank You for the time so far without another intense flare up. Thank You!” I just was reminded I need to be more conscious of always being thankful. (Ephesians 5:20)

Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (CEB)

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Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.