Friday, February 19, 2016

Women of Faith

So many thoughts are going through my mind today, so here goes my ramblings.
We've all had moments where we look back at events in our lives and feel a tinge of sadness or nostalgia over a certain period of time, Not because it was a sad time but because we long to have one of those moments back. Perhaps the way you felt on your wedding day, or the day your children were born, their first steps, the day they started kindergarten and High School (Abby starts High School next year!), seeing your children marry their best friend. I had this sadness or nostalgia feeling last night when I  went to see the Women of Faith: An Amazing Joyful Journey movie.
I remember going to my very first Women of Faith conference, The Great Adventure, in 2003. I wasn't particularly looking forward to it and was doing it because it was the nice Pastor's wife thing to do since I had been approached by a few woman to organize a group to go. I had NO idea the impact these conferences would have on my life. From the moment that even started, I was was drawn in. The conference started with thousands of woman worshipping through music. Hearing thousands of Women singing together was like nothing I had ever heard. Then the speakers got up and spoke. They were relevant, funny, encouraging, and they all shared messages of God's love and redemption. When you left that arena Saturday evening you knew God loved you and you knew that the only way to experience the joy and peace was through a personal relationship with Christ and you were very clearly given the opportunity to make that decision.
Every year after that first conference I looked forward to attending. I became a group leader and brought as many as 30 ladies.
In 2009 I attended the conference in Tampa, FL and one of the guest speakers was Mary Beth Chapman. Mary Beth spoke about the tragic loss of their sweet Maria Sue and the struggles their family had gone through. I purchased her book "Choosing To See" at the conference and little did I know at the time, how God would use that book to change the Altman family... Forever. It was this book that Katie read and then felt called to take a short missions trip to Luoyang, China to show God's love to orphans. I think you know the rest of the story. Well I guess it isn't the rest of the story because our story is still being written
Women of Faith has been a blessing in my relationships. I've developed relationships that started by attending a conference with some women from my church. I don't think I would have gotten to know these women the way that I did if it wasn't for attending a conference together.
I can't say enough about the quality of the speakers I've heard over the years. I just love hearing Lucy speak and tell stories about her mother and daddy and her brothers. It has reminded me of the kind of legacy I want to leave for my children. Patsy Clairmont uses words the way an artist uses a pencil and paints. She has a way of saying something in a powerful way. Shelia's honesty and vulnerability is always refreshing. God has used her brokenness to encourage so many women who struggle with clinical depression. Marilyn Meberg has my sense of's a little quirky. I love the story about the Ajax sticker, and David better watch out for one of those stickers, you never know when it could appear (you had to be there). More than her humor, I love how Marilyn could end the conferences with an invitation to accept Christ as your Savior. Thelma Wells is a picture of strength. She allowed a difficult childhood and racial issues during her years as a young woman to mold her into the woman of faith she is today, when it could have done the opposite. Stories of God's mercy and grace from people like Sandy Patty, Tammy Trent, Carol Kent, and Jennifer Rothschild have been etched in my heart and I will not forget them. Then there is Mary Graham. You could not attend a conference and not feel welcome if Mary was there. I remember when Florida was having the string of hurricanes and life was stressful. We had left our home not knowing what would be left when we returned during one of the storms and when we came home and everything was well, there was a recorded telephone message from Mary Graham telling the people of Florida that Women of Faith was praying for us. I know it was a recorded message, but I felt like she was talking directly to me.
I feel sad and nostalgic as I write this blog, but just like with my children, God will continue to write a story of bigger and better things. I am looking forward to attending the Belong Tour with Patsy Clairmont and Jenn Hatmaker with my girlfriends and my daughter and daughter in law and I can't wait to make new memories with them!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reflecting and Remembering..... 2015

In July of 2011 I heard the first whispers of God to begin the journey of adopting Jaelynn. Once we were confident that we were hearing Him correctly we began the paperwork that would bring her home in just a little over a year. Life was a whirlwind and we THOUGHT that once we had her home things would slow down and we would have normalcy. Boy was I wrong! That first year at home brought many appointments with specialists, surgeries, and adjustments for everyone.

This year has been no exception for our family as the whirlwind continues! In 2015 we welcomed two new members to our our family. No, we haven't adopted again, our oldest two children were married. Katie married Cole last January. They had a beautiful wedding and are getting ready to celebrate their first anniversary already. Matthew married Rebecca on November 7 in a secret garden themed wedding. It was a magical day! We are so thankful for Cole and Rebecca and for the relationship we have with them. It is a great thing when you love and get along with the one God has given your child. It makes letting them go a lot easier.  Thank you Cole for loving our daughter and for making her laugh, we don't take that for granted. And thank you Rebecca for loving our son and supporting him as you both seek Gods direction for the future.

Abby became a teenager this year. I find it so hard to believe she is 13 already. I'm thankful for her sweet easy going personality and her sensitivity to the Lord. She enjoyed her first missions trip in June to Nicaragua. I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for her in the future.

Jaelynn turned 9 the day after Christmas. She is growing up quickly. She had a big back surgery in September. This was one of the toughest surgeries as far as pain goes, but that has gotten much better. Her back is still healing. She will follow up with the orthopedic surgeon soon and have X-rays to check things out and be sure everything is healing well... I have a few concerns. We also found out that she has mild sleep apnea and will need to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. We had scheduled it for the end of January, but with the doctors approval we decided to wait until summer. Missing a lot of school and making up work is tough!

David and I celebrated 25 years of marriage in June. Where has the time gone? We celebrated by going on a cruise.... Just the two of us (thanks Katie and Cole for keeping the girls!). We had such a great time! Marriage is such a wonderful gift and I'm so very thankful for my husband and best friend. God has been so good to us!

I'm so thankful God writes our stories because this is so much better than anything I could have written. Now I'll sit back and anxiously await the next chapter. 😊