Dearest treasured ones,
Now, you may wonder why I would start out a post calling you THAT! Quite simply, I am only calling you what the Psalms call us, "your treasured ones" (Ps 83:3b)! You are like a box of hidden treasure, maybe with nothing that spectacular to call attention on the outside, but, oh, inside your heart and soul are treasures that your heavenly Father placed in you when He made you in His image, that He placed there before He even made the world! (read Ephesians 1 if you don't believe me!
Well, this past weekend at the annual Hope at Home gathering, Hope at Home 2013, I think all of us who were there felt like we were affirmed and reminded, and for some even shown for the first time, that we are indeed God's treasures!!! The 2 days together felt like a delightful meal at a fancy restaurant, with each of the successive courses of the meal the perfect fit for what had come before, as well as what was to follow. Our Lord Himself, who says of Himself that He is the "bread of heaven," had definitely cooked up heavenly nurture! So, for those who could not join us, here is a recap:
1) "Strengthen yourself in the Lord your God"
Like David did, in I Samuel 30:6b, when his life was falling apart, strengthen your self in the Lord. Those he most loved had died, and everyone else he loved had turned against him. Whether life is wonderful or challenging, this goal of strengthening ourselves in the Lord our God gives us such hope and life and joy and peace. Greg Haswell led us in some time of meditation using Psalm 40. As he looked out, it was clear that God was touching us so deeply that many had tears welling up in our eyes. But the good kind -- the "I am overwhelmed with joy" kind.
2) "You are fed to feed, raised to raise, loved to love"
In Luke 1:16-17 when the angel announces the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner who was to bring us to Jesus, the two purposes were clear: first, to call us to live as God's children, with our hearts turned back to our Father, and second, to call us to live as parents, with our hearts turned by God back to our children. Many of us have switched around this order, and as a consequence are bearing burdens that are not ours to carry. It is by walking as a child that we trust Him to be for us and for our children, all that they need. Take a moment to listen the Kathryn Scott's beautiful song, Child of God, to hear Father God's message to us through Susan Hillis.
3) God's desire is restoration"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In." Beth Templeton reminded us all of the beauty of God's work of restoration--for us mothers and fathers, and for all our children (both birth and adopted, equally!) This restoration and change was most beautifully revealed in a piece that Beth Templeton's sweet daughter Rachel had written:
I really want to emphasize is that adoption has not only dramatically changed me, but has come to define my life and my view of the world around me. As many of you surely know, melding individuals who previously knew nothing of each other into the most intimate of relationships - a family - is a weighty venture that has the potential to redeem and restore broken lives, for both those who are adopted and the family into which they are adopted. Our adoptions have changed and shaped my life completely. (Read the whole piece by Rachel.)It had us all choked up with awe of what the God of heaven wants to do for us! And this session ended with the reminder from Emma Templeton's beautiful rendition of "God, I Look to You" by Jenn Johnson.
4) Effective and Powerful Prayer
Finally, we heard the wonderful reminder from Dionne van Zyl of God's desire to bless His treasured one (1 above) when we go to Him, as His child (2 above), in need of His restoration (3 above) for us and for our marriages and for our children. We are told to pray in Luke 11, like this: "Our Father...," reminded again that I am God's child. And we are told to pray with "shameless audacity" because God's deep love inspires Him to provide for us out of His goodness. "What father, if his son asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?" No, our Father gives good gifts to His children who ask. We parents have authority in prayer and can actually change the atmosphere of our homes by our declarations of faith.
We ask for strength and food and love and restoration, Lord, for ourselves and for our families.
If I were to put into one sentence the summary of what the Lord did for us over these days, I would say: burdens were taken away and replaced with peace of heart and lightness of step. God did what we read in Psalm 81:6, "I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket"
But God didn't stop with taking away our burdens and worries and fears. He went on the replace them: "He would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." (v.16)
Now, Lord, we come to you and thank and praise you, Father, that You care so deeply for us as your children, that your desire is ever and always to strengthen us, to feed and raise and love us, to restore us and ours, and to deepen our trust in Your goodness by answering prayer. Thank you, Lord, that you are the great replacer -- always intent on replacing our burdens with the finest of Your abundance. Do this, even again, today, for every one reading these words. In Jesus Name and for His glory and for our shining for the world to see us as we are -- Your treasures! Amen.
Check out more photos from Hope at Home 2013!
Parenting Advice from Real Families--You and Me!
Prayer Requests for our Children: Give One, Take One
Where Is Your Child From?!
Some Fun Giveaways
Wonderful H@H After Party. The deserts and live Jazz made for a great night!
Breakout Sessions You Didn't Want to Miss
Evidence That We are Loved (including chocolate dipped strawberries served on a platter!)