Friday, May 29, 2009

A Musical Graduation

The other night, we had a fun time at a musical graduation featuring our dear friends and "adopted siblings" - the Loos!

John serenades the crowd with a piece by Mozart.

Now, it's Mark's turn!

Younger sister, Hannah, accompanies.
John and one of his best friends --- the cello!

My little pal, Ester.

Kelsey, Annabel, and Hannah - always happy to be together!

My "little brother"... not so little anymore!

The following photos are what I like to call:
The Evolution of a Queen Bee's Royal Following

It's amazing how a girl newly engaged attracts other girls to her so quickly...especially when there are pictures of a certain handsome gentleman involved! :-)

Notice how the crowd grows!

Stefanie's reaction to the pictures was worth noting on camera.

And of course, Mr. Sommer wasn't about to be left out! He wanted all the news too!

Monday, May 25, 2009

7 Days of Praise

Recently, I had an interesting experience at the pregnancy center that caused me to stop and think about my relationship with God in a new light.

A client called asking if she could come and get formula for her baby. Apparently, she was almost out at home and she couldn't get the right kind from WIC. I asked her what kind she needed. "Similac Advance," she replied.

I put the lady on hold while I dashed to the back storage room to check and see if we had any Similac Advance on hand. Sure enough, there were about 6 bottles of the concentrate kind. Running back to the phone, I told her it would be fine for her to come in and get some.

A couple of hours later, this client arrived. I had the formula all ready for her in a cute blue gift bag. Handing it through the window by my desk, I smiled and said I hoped it would help. Rather than replying with a relieved, "Thank you so much," like most of our clients, she looked into the bag and didn't say anything. Then, she glanced up at me and said, "Is this all you have? This isn't going to last him very long."

"Yes, that's all we have of Similac Advance, which is the kind you said you specificully needed," I replied. "We've had a lot of requests for Similac Advance lately which means that we're low on our supply right now. I'm afraid that's all we have to offer."

"Don't you have any of the powder kind?" she asked.

"No, not of Similac Advance," I replied. "We have plenty of powdered formula in other brands and in different kinds of Similac. Would another type suit your needs?"

"Well, I don't know without seeing my choices," she said.

Inwardly, I sighed. It seemed this lady was going to be a hard one to please...
I didn't want to take her back to the storage room and let her see all our forumla choices because I sensed she would be the type of person who would take ten cans if permitted! Instead, I told her to wait just a moment and I'd be right back.

Again, I trekked back to the storage room and grabbed four cans of powdered formula in different brands, including a large can of Similac that seemed similar to the Advance type. Back at the window, I showed her each one. She seemed to weigh her options briefly before saying she'd take the large can of Similac. As I passed it through the window, she finally smiled...sort of...and said triumphantly, "Now this will last him!"

She turned to put the can into the bag on top of the other 6 bottles I'd originally given her, and I assumed she would then take her leave.

Not so. Instead, she came back to the window and asked, "Do you have another bag I can put this in?"

Hardly believing what I was hearing, I stammered out, "Uh...yeah...I guess so. Hold on and I'll go get you one." Once more I hiked back to the storage room to retrieve this very particular client another bag. The whole way, I was having a very unspiritual conversation with myself. (Honest confessions!) "Another bag?! Why in the world does she need another bag for one can of forumla?! She could simply put that can in the top of the small bag and carry it out, or she could just carry the can in her extra hand. Extra bag indeed! She is taking for granted our free services and supplies, thinking she can just waltz in here and get whatever she asks. She hasn't even bothered to say thank you!"

It was at this point in my mental dialogue that the Lord interrupted my thoughts. As I rounded the corner of the hallway heading back to my desk and the waiting client, He gently said to me, "Katrina, this is just a small taste of what I get to experience being God. Do you know how many people take for granted the blessings I shower into their lives, not even bothering to stop and tell me thank you? People are constantly take advantage of my character, asking for more things all the time, but hardly ever showing gratitude for what I've already given them."

He didn't even say it, but I knew I fell into this category too, all too often. As I winced with conviction and suddenly felt very sorry for the grief I'd brought to my Lord, He gave me a boost of compassion for my client.

As I handed her the bag with a smile and an attempt at cheerfulness, she smiled fully for the first time and thanked me.

I thought about her visit all the rest of the day and what God had taught me through it. I decided that for the next week, I would make it a priority to spend time simply praising and thanking the Lord for His many gifts, rather than pouring forth a multitude of requests before His throne each morning. I called the idea "7 Days of Praise."

As the week progressed, I found it incredibly refreshing to simply focus on gratefulness to God! I loved the opportunity to pull out my journal each morning and write out a letter of praise to His name, rather than feeling pressured to get through a long prayer list. It was a wonderful week of worship and drawing closer to Jesus.

Of course, I didn't treat my personal, 7-day challenge in a strict manner such that I never asked the Lord for anything all week. There were many, many times when I'd catch myself praying for people or situations throughout the day, especially while working at the pregnancy center. It was encouraging to see how prayer has become such a habit of my life that I do it without planning to! However, I constantly worked at noticing the gifts He bestowed throughout each day and thanking Him. Gifts like getting out of bed in the morning free of pain, being able to walk, talk, see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Gifts like my family, my home, my country, my abilities, my job, and the list goes on!

The "7 Days of Praise" challenge I gave myself is now over. I am back to spending quality time interceding for others and making requests of my God. It's been amazine to see how those 7 days of praise have caused my focus to get re-aligned where it always needs to be: on the Giver rather than the gifts.

Of course, God wants us to pray! He tells us to ask that we may receive. But I write this post today as a reminder that He doesn't want us to get so caught up with asking that we take for granted His blessings and take advantage of His goodness. His Word admonishes us to let our requests be made known unto God with thanksgiving! (Philippians 4:6)

I encourage you to join with me in an effort to live in a constant state of gratefulness to the Lord, taking time all throughout the day to thank Him for Who He is and all He does.

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby Love

From the Bookshelf...

Recently I've read...

This is an excellent book in every sense of the word! The titles is exactly what the book is all about as Nancy Leigh DeMoss expounds upon commonly believed lies in our society and the truth from God's Word to combat them. Her writing is clear, engaging, and incredibly refreshing. There is great freedom to be found in the truths of God's Word if we will just believe and walk in it. I think every woman - young and old - would benefit from reading this book!

Over the past year and a half, I have been reading my way through this delightful series by the Thoene's known as the A.D. Chronicles. Bible fiction at its best, the A.D. Chronicles paints a colorful picture of what life might have been like for the various characters we meet in the Gospels whose lives intertwined with Yesusha of Nazareth. We encounter Peniel - the man born blind, Lily - a kindhearted leper, Zadok - chief shepherd of the temple flocks, Mary and Joseph of Nazareth, among countless others who were all touched in some way by the Lord Jesus.

In the 7th and 8th books of the series that I just recently finished, Lazarus and Zaccheus are central characters set against the background of an ever-increasing threat against Jesus' life.

With brilliant creativity, the Thoene's weave a masterful story in each book that is well written, brimming with Scripture, and tremendously edifying with every page. The New Testament has come alive for me in a new way thanks to this series! I am greatly looking forward to reading book 9 as soon as possible!

Currently Reading...

God has been showing me lately that evangelism is one area of my life that I need to grow stronger in, so when a friend lent this book to my family, I eagerly began reading it.

Wow. What can I say? This book has been LIFE-CHANGING!

With every chapter, I feel convicted, inspired, and equipped all at the same time! Mark Cahill writes incredibly practical chapters on learning to share one's Christian faith effectively, while giving story after story from his own witnessing experiences that make this book very difficult to put down!

I can't recommend it enough! You've GOT to read it. That's just all there is to it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Stirring Quote

Last night, as I was preparing for bed, the Lord began to speak to my heart. He opened the eyes of my understanding to realize that, lately, I have become so busy serving Him, I have made less time for being with Him.

When I arrived at work this morning and entered our chapel room for quiet time before the day began, the devotional reading that was sitting on the table once again struck a chord in my heart! It's as though God planned today's devotional just for me.

Here is the excerpt that especially confirmed what He's been showing me:

"If we become more consumed with our task than we are with our love for God, our lives will eventually become brittle and desolate. To restore our souls, the Lord brings us back to the essentials of our faith. Indeed, He might even stop our labors completely and direct us to the simpler realities of prayer, time in the Word, and worship. He reminds us that, of all He calls us to accomplish, His greatest commandment is to love Him with all our "heart... soul...mind...and strength." (Mark 12:30) Without this focus, we lose touch with God's presence; we are outside the shelter of the Most High...

Is not intimacy with God the very thing we most negelct? And is not the Lord alone our source of strength in battle? If the enemy can distract us from our time alone with God, he will isolate us from the help that comes from God alone."
~ Francis Frangipane

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thought for the Day...

I read this quote today in chapel devotions here at the pregnancy center. I thought it was worth passing along...

"The Lord has no plan where we succeed without Him. Life is so constructed to drive us to God." - Francis Frangipane

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pretty, Isn't It?

The Ring Set

Showing the world she's claimed!

Engagement band and wedding band together.

Mrs. Nathan Day - coming soon in November of 2009!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Katelin!

As you celebrate your twenty-first birthday far from home with your special fellow, I just want you to know I am thinking about you today!

I am so grateful to have you for sister! You are a true delight in my life.

Thank you for your constant example of cheerfulness, kindness, and self-lessness as you walk with Jesus so closely day by day. Your example has taught me so much.

I am so grateful to be able to share fun family memories with you, late night talks, crazy moments, the ups and downs of life, service in the Lord's work side by side, and most of all, a common love for Christ!

You are a true kindred spirit whom I'm so grateful to call my sister and my friend.

Love you lots, Katelin!
Hope your special day is as wonderful as you are!

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Divine Appointment

God never ceases to amaze me with His orchestration of Divine appointments in my life and those of other precious Christians I know!

Let me tell you about one such experience this past week...

It was Tuesday. Because of flooding all around the city in the wake of two giant thunderstorms, I called my boss to find out whether or not the pregnancy center would be open. She said yes, so once the waters had receded enough for me to manuever out onto the highway, I drove to work.

In all honesty, I did not know why we were openning our doors that day. I figured no one would come for appointments due to the rain, the flooding, and the fact that news anchors were advising everyone to stay home. Several staff members couldn't even make it out of their neighborhoods without a paddle boat. While I was more than happy to show up for work, I anticipated a very quiet day in the office...convinced that very few people, if any, would care about pregnancy tests or ultrasounds that day.

Was I ever wrong.

That day had to have been the best day in the history of our pregnancy center in terms of clients showing for their appointments! I was astounded. We even had several walk-ins we were able to accept!

As I was enjoying a delicious pecan-crusted chicken salad with other staff members over lunch (compliments of our director!), the woman who was covering for me at the front desk came in with a smile on her face. She informed us all that one of our counselors could not make it in due to high waters in her area, and that all the clients scheduled for that hour had arrived, causing us to be one counselor short. In times like these, it is policy for a staff member to fill in, so she left the opportunity up to our lunch bunch and walked back to the front desk.

My boss immediately turned to me and asked if I would like to take the client. She graciously offered to cover for me at the phones if I was interested in doing so.

"Sure!" I replied. I used to see clients on a weekly basis, but with my new position, such opportunities occurred only when emergency back-up was it was that day.

Wiping my mouth with my napkin and hurriedly popping a breath mint in, I quickly processed my waiting client's paperwork, noting with relief that she was around my sister's age. (I much prefer to counsel young women who are around my age or younger. Speaking to those who are my senior by ten years is a bit uncomfortable.) Then, I grabbed my Bible, breathed a quick prayer for God's help, and welcomed the client back to one of the counseling rooms.

We chatted easily about her life as I filled in the client intake form for her file. I learned about her family, her pregnancy history, her current pregnancy symptoms, and other bits and pieces of information that helped me to get to know her better.

By the time we came to the part on the intake form that moves into the spiritual realm with questions about a religious preference and a client's eternal destination, I was grateful to see that she felt so relaxed. We were about to enter the most important part of our appointment together.

God blessed our conversation in an amazing way. Finding her very open to a discussion about spiritual matters, I was able to take the next 45 minutes and share with this precious young woman the whole Gospel message! I started by sharing some of the 10 Commandments, having learned that this is an excellent way to show a person their sin, and thus their need for a Savior. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." (Psalm 19:7)

Then, I opened my little New Testament with its previously marked verses and took my client through each verse, one at a time, explaining the good news of God's grace and the gift of salvation that can be received only through Jesus Christ. We talked of His death on the cross and the significance it holds even now, 2,000 years later, as the only way to be saved from God's punishment of our crimes. We talked of His resurrection and the power that He has over sin, death, and hell.

As we talked, my client told me stories from her life that led me to believe God has been in pursuit of her heart for some time, preparing her for our very conversation that day. I also pointed out to her how the enemy has been battling for her soul in his own devious ways.

Gently drawing her attention back to the verse at hand, John 5:24, I asked her if she had ever made the decision to respond to God's gift of salvation, to repent of her sins and put her faith in Jesus, thus crossing over "from death to life." She shook her head no. Then I asked her if there was anything stopping her from doing so that day. When she again said no, I asked her if she was ready to trust Jesus in faith. This time, she said yes!

We had a time of prayer together and it was the most precious experience to hear my new friend pour forth her heart to the Lord with tears and anguish over her sin as she thanked Him for His death on the cross for her. In childlike faith, she humbled herself and received His forgiveness.

There is truly no greater joy on this earth than to witness a person place their faith in the Savior! As the angels rejoiced in heaven that day, I was rejoicing with them! What a privilege to water seeds that had been planted over years of time and watch God "bring forth the increase!"

I would so appreciate it if each of you would hold this precious client up in prayer as she begins her new life. I know the enemy is not happy about losing her to the Lord and I anticipate that he may increase attacks on her soul. Please pray for God's protection and grace in her life. Pray that she'll stand strong in her new found faith and that she will be a witness to her husband.

I spoke with my client on the phone this past Thursday and she told me she has been reading the Bible every day. She was up to Matthew 12 the day we spoke. What joy it was to hear her words!

I am hoping to meet with her on a regular basis at the pregnancy center for Bible study and your prayers for wisdom on my part would be greatly appreciated as well!

God is so good to orchestrate Divine appointments in our lives. Who would have thought that on a gray, rainy day in a city full of flood waters, He would bring a young woman across my path who was ready to enter the Kingdom, and just needed a guide?

I love Kingdom work! It is the most exciting of anything in life! Praise God for His sovereign workings. He alone is worthy of praise!