Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Trust and Having Fun

So, I've never really been the one my friends call if they're looking to have fun.  I suspect my inability to have fun correlates directly with my lack of invites. I suppose it's because I'm always the one reminding everyone we might get in trouble, and for goodness sake, someone could get hurt (spoken in my best Grandma Doris tone).

I've been given many illustrations over the last few weeks, some funny and some just down-right beautiful.

Illustration #1 (funny):  So, Julia, my 11-year-old daughter tells me the following story:  Mom, this is hilarious.  You know how Steve said in his sermon about having fun driving in the snow?!  (Um, yeah.) So, we're driving home (in a snowstorm) and Steve does a doughnut right in front of a horse and buggy-to scare them.  (She's laughing and thinks it's the best thing ever.)  I was like, oh my word, were you scared?! Her answer was the kicker of the whole story...No, Nancy and I were just looking at each other and laughing.   Screeechhh, halt, stop this story...Picture this:   a pastor, doing doughnuts with his 70 some year old mama and an 11 year old, whose mama is scared-to-death of driving in the snow from home to Weis.  The whole thing just cracked me up.  It's one reason I appreciate Steve-he pushes the envelope all the time-and reminds me to "lighten up and live a little".  I'm not always certain if he's having too much fun to realize it or if he's doing it on purpose.

Illustration #2 (funny):  So, my 13 year old son, learned an incredibly fun, eh hemm, game from his youth leader.  Apparently, the point of the game is put your nose on as many unsuspecting people as you can, while in a crowd.  Only a boy could think of this-for real.  So he tells me the story of he and his friends doing this while at the Christkindl market. Apparently there was a group of Mennonite girls, and my son put  his nose on of these unsuspecting ladies.  So, I know we should definitely talk about his choice of gender and age, but him, this is just so fun.  I asked him, what do you do if someone knows you've done this?  He came up with some ridiculous answer, almost as ridiculous as the game.

Illustration #3 (hmmm):  We had the most beautiful snow yesterday.  It was just a good day.  We visited the market, the kids played in the snow, and in the evening we walked (more like trudged and I was about half-crying because the snow was blowing in our faces-think of the beginning scenes of the movie, Christmas Vacation when they're going to get their tree) to the administrative building in town to let the kids sled ride.  Ana and I returned home earlier than everyone else because she was cold.  And Jim returned Gabriel to us about an hour later while Jim and Julia walked our niece home.  After returning, Jim tells me that he carried Julia the whole way home on his shoulders.  I'm like, huh?-on your shoulders?!  For one, Julia is 11.  For another, I'm picturing myself climbing up on someones shoulders, trusting them to walk me 3 blocks in the snow, while I just enjoy the ride, uh, no thank you.  .... I'm reading in Matthew this morning and the Lord illuminates this verse, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven".  Immediately, the Lord started bringing to mind the incidents above, one by one, showing me how each child in each story trusted the leader; whether it be the driver, the youth leader, or the father.  It was apparent that each child had fun.

In my own life, it's been hard to trust because trust was broken when I was a small child, abused for years by someone who was supposed to protect me and love me.  People have walked in and out of my life several times.

I know I'm not alone in this.
I know, too, that I'm not alone in finding it difficult to TRUST.

All of us have had people walk out, betray us, say mean and untrue things about us.  Parents have divorced, husbands have walked out, children have disowned, friends have un-friended.  Each one of us have hurt others and been hurt by others.

But God.

He is a loving Father who promises to "Always be with us".  Always.
He is the only one who is perfectly trust-worthy.

Do we understand and believe the steadfastness of God?
Do we understand and believe His promise that He will never leave?
Do we understand and believe that He is a loving Father, who delights in putting us on His shoulders?

If I really believed this, I think I'd enjoy the moments of life a whole lot more.

Praying to learn to TRUST more deeply, to have fun with my Father.

So thankful for the people the Lord has put in our lives as illustrations of learning to TRUST HIM.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

No Higher Calling

Like Luke wrote to Theophilus, I write to my small group leader:

November 2, 2013

Dear Jen~

Your direct question beckons a direct answer:  My allegiance is with Christ. 

I renounce, that is, publicly declare, that I love Him more than “all these”.

Yet, I know only He sees perfectly and is greater than my heart as He says, so I declare  this knowing that He may yet reveal places of my heart that are divided and do not yet fear him.  It is with regret that I must say, until I see Him face to face, “Perfectly, No; Increasingly, Yes.

Though it’s a direct answer to your question, the path to get here as been anything but.
Several God-fearing women would challenge me over the last few years when they saw discontentment and restlessness well up in my heart.  Steve would challenge status-quo through His preaching and push me to further search in God’s Word for what God was saying.  God would one day speak directly to my heart in an authoritative and loving way that He would not “lose me” to a cause and that I am to Proclaim Christ, not Promote Him.  In the last several months, my husband has prayed that I would seek “no higher calling than that in His Word”.  I didn’t know it at the time, but my husband was calling upon the name of the Lord to grant me a deeper oneness with the Lord and contentment.  As he prayed over me time and time again, the Lord did a work in my heart.  I can assuredly say that God’s glory is our deepest satisfaction. 
Beginning with the Basics class at Freedom, I learned God’s priorities for my life, as laid out in His Word.  I learned that first and foremost, God works in my heart.  My job is lay low and listen.  The cultivated and softened soil of my own heart and my increasing willingness to surrender control, would make ready a place for God to work in my marriage, which in turn would create more cultivated land in which God could work in our children’s hearts.
I now understand more clearly how the family is an imprint of the Trinity.  I see now how the family unit works together, although people do it imperfectly, to proclaim who Christ is and the Gospel to the lost, within the framework of the Church.  All this by just being individuals who love Jesus and having people into our home to see how this works together.
There have been many times I’ve been deceived into thinking, by my own heart and listening to others, there is some “other calling” for me than being a daughter, wife, mother, and disciple maker within His church.  I now see the beauty of the church, the power of the church, God’s plan for the church, more clearly.  Christ promises to build one thing:  His church. Through the church, He gives elders to lead and protect, the proclaimed word, people to lead us in worshiping Him, groups that minister-small groups, children’s groups, etc.  God’s plan to make disciples is the Church.  His plan is clear, orderly and purposeful, not confusing, disorganized, and haphazard.   
God has taught me to get low and put others on my shoulders, so we can reach higher collectively as a church.  This means dying to self-what I want, what I think I need. It means pushing others out in my “area of giftedness” and stepping back to see God’s glory in His church.  It means taking the lowest place and loving to be last-serving others. It means forgiving others.  It means encouraging other women to die to self and live in Christ, love their husbands, children, and any others God gives.  I know God is a generational God, not a God who desires to see this generation accomplish it all.  And especially He doesn’t see ME as needing to accomplish His plan on earth alone.

Truly Jen, there is no higher calling than that in His Word.  And there is no other plan than that of His Church. 
I know this is a lot to say, but again your direct question, elicited this response that’s been stirring in my heart for some time.

So thankful for you, dear one.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Disciple Making-children-day 1

Reading through the bible w/ A and G-day 1, continuing to disciple C and J....learning to disciple my children.
*Didn't expect God's grace to pour and pour and pour-

*After reading about the light and darkness on the first day of creation, Gabriel went and got his puzzle that has the shape of a sun and moon on it.  Specifically told me to use "this" to tell him and Ana the story-blown away!
*Ana asked what "multiplied" meant when we read about the plants and God multiplying the earth with the plants.  I told her how God multiplies the plants and people.
*I wrote Gabriel's verse on contentment in our prayer journal. Then asked Ana what hers was:  "babies and babies in my belly".  She explained that she wants God to put a baby in her belly.  Told her she needed a husband.  She said she has Gabriel.
*Julia and I read "True Woman" book given by Kathy W.  Today we reread the story about the "moon reflecting the sun" and Psalm 19:1
*Jim pulled Rom. 5:1-5 out for us today.  Jules read aloud while Cole coughed down medicine.  We were precisely at the word "endure" at that moment-he said, "Oh, I know what it means to endure."  meaning the medicine was awful.

Love you, God.  Thank you for your grace.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When You're Misunderstood and Hated

Being misunderstood is probably one of the top three things I have struggled with in relationships.  Frustration  sets in when my actions have spoken to others that I don't appreciate or love them, especially when I'm trying to communicate how much I love them.  My children-case in point.  Many times I'm trying to keep them safe when they think I'm being overprotective (sometimes I am being overprotective-too many times, actually).  Many times I have to say things to my children that they really don't want to hear.   Many times I am misunderstood by my children, but I must stick-to-my-guns, for their sake, because I love them.

The thing is, I've come to expect to be misunderstood by my children, and I'm okay with it.  However, it's not been as easy for me to learn that I will be misunderstood and hated if I follow Jesus. 

My love of people causes me to stumble over this truth.  And more than that, my love of self, my reputation.
Jesus promised that a follower of Him will be excluded and reviled.  He promised that people will not only speak poorly of those who follow Him, but they will be hated.

You will be hated by all for my name's sake. Lk. 21:17

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven, for so their fathers did to the prophets. Lk. 6:22, 23

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Lk. 6:26

I shouldn't have been blind-sided by this.  It's even my kids' verse for the day, chosen by their father, for crying out loud.   Jesus said to anyone who would follow Him:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-26)

Why has this been difficult to learn?
Perhaps because it's easier to accept hard Truths when they're somewhere "out there" when you're not the one being persecuted.
Perhaps it's easier to pray for a sister who's being hated than it is to believe Truth for yourself.
Perhaps because I thought I would be hated when I did stupid things, spoke harsh words, etc.

But the truth is, 
we're hated when we follow Jesus....  
When we surrender to and obey Him.  
That's when we're hated the most.

To know Truth is to be set free.  Praying this truth, for us as Christian women, will settle deep in our souls, The fear of man lays a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Prv. 29:25) and we Fear God and not anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:6).

Trusting in this promise, that even if we suffer for righteousness sake, we will be blessed, that we are to have no fear of man or be troubled. (1 Peter 2:17 and 3:14)

I pray Father, that we will in our hearts honor you as holy, that we will always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for that hope that is in us, and may we do it with gentleness and respect.  Thank you, Lord, for showing us how to suffer well, and the only way to stand and persevere is in Christ alone.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Totally Normal, Right?

My mom has said many times that I should write a book about our every day happenings.  And, it would have to be labeled as fiction because no one would believe half the stuff that goes on here.  It's also therapeutic for me to laugh and write this stuff down, 'cause if I don't it can make me want to explode.

So, here's a rundown of the week:

#1 I'm sure my neighbors have decided I'm certifibly nuts.  As I was Shop-Vacing the yard today (yes, you read correctly) I look over to see my neighbor Russ, slapping his knee and laughing uncontrollably.  Why, you ask?  Well, yesterday was "Twash Day" (Ana dialect) here at the Laubachs.  (Guess the shredded paper should have been taken directly to the recycling bin.)

#2  I've babysat Big Boy on more than one occasion this week.  We decided that "Big Boy" bears an eery resemblance to G. when he came home.   

#3 We had a fruit fly invasion.  If you've never had one, you can't fully appreciate the following photo.  If you have, you will rejoice along w/ me. We only have a few left. Victory is mineeee!!!!Muwaaaahahh.

And then there was the cleaning of the trampoline-twice!  First was lot and lots and lots of dirt and second was cocoa powder.  Prior to that it was Old Bay seasoning.  

Not to mention needing to clean oil out of the wagon and yard. 

Gabriel was playing mail carrier today and threw a paper over the fence to both of our neighbors.

I was helping G. correctly pronounce his "v"s when I realized the little rat was laughing at me.  Apparently, he thought my face was hilarious as I overemphasized the "v" sound.

I suppose it's not all that different than other families in this season of life.  Right?

Monday, September 30, 2013

When You Just Want to Be on Your Own and the Pursuit of the Father~lessons from horse camp

It was a late Friday night, just before sunset, and I was sitting outside the round pen on top of a hill, at Above the Sun Ranch with 5 teenagers.  It was the first ever Christian horse camp for older teens.  We looked on as Amy prepared to begin a training session with Bailey, a young and new horse on the farm. Amy explained that she would start by running Bailey around the outside rail and when she stopped running her, the goal and desire was for Bailey to enter the center of the circle where Amy was standing.  She explained that she was trying to win Bailey's trust.  Bailey's willingness to enter the center would be a sign of submission, an outward sign that she wanted to be led by Amy.

The training session started.  Amy asked her to run by clicking her mouth and using a rope that she would periodically move toward Bailey. All the while, Amy ran by her side, patiently, lovingly, and mightily, pursuing her. With wide eyes and restless twitches, Bailey ran and ran and ran some more.  I was thinking, um Amy, I think that's enough. But only the leader, the one doing the training, gets to make that decision.

And so it is with God.  Only He knows how to pursue us perfectly.  Others can tell us about Him, proclaim who He is, what He's done, what He promises to do.  But only He opens hearts.  

The first time Amy stopped running Bailey, she quickly entered the center with Amy. I was like, Wow, I could totally be a horse trainer.  That was easy.  And then Amy said, "Let's see if she means it."  So, Amy started walking around the pen, and it wasn't long until Bailey was doing her own thing, looking around, distracted by the littlest thing.  Amy said, "Nope, that won't do.  I need her to stick right with me," and immediately put her back on the rail.

As she ran, Amy explained to us that she makes the right thing a pleasant experience for Bailey and the wrong thing a hard experience.

And so it is with us and God.  When we come to Him and allow Him to lead us, we experience a deep peace that we don't understand.  Often in our walk with God, the outward circumstances aren't pleasant or easy, but knowing Him and resting in Him is.  He is jealous for us and knows how we need Him.  A partial, half-hearted following will not do.

Amy explained that she was looking for signs that Bailey was starting to acknowledge her.  Signs that were unrecognizable to the rest of us.  She was looking for one ear to be on her at all times.  How many times had my God asked me to listen to Him, to listen for His voice above the crowd?  She was looking for a bowed head that reflected submission to her leadership.  How many times had God beckoned me to fall to my knees in surrender and rest?

As I watched Bailey run the rail, I could see myself in that horse.  How many times had I run and run and run some more, at times, wanting to be free and at others, clinging to the safety of the rail. All the while, my Father loving pursued.  After watching Bailey run the rail several times, I wanted to scream at her, "STOP RUNNING! for Pete's sake.  Aren't you tired?!"  Don't you see her, standing in the center of the ring, the one who will love you and feed you and care for you?!"
How many times had I run away from the One my heart desperately wanted and needed?  How many times had I pulled away from God and from others, thinking I knew best.  But God didn't create us to run on our own. He created us to be in relationship with Him and with His other children.

About half way through the training session, Bailey was clearly distracted by a piece of equipment and then some of the girls.  I couldn't help but think of how many times God stood in the center, watching me, while I turned to other things, other gods. How he lovingly looked on, while I piddled away with created things, rather than looking to my Creator.

As Bailey ran the rail again, Amy explained to us that she sees the potential this young horse has.  The rest of us didn't see it, but she does. It's why she chose her.  She knows her bloodlines.

And so it is with us.  God sees our bloodline.  He sees Jesus' perfection when He looks upon us.  He knows how He wants to be in relationship with us and allow our lives to reflect His glory, which results in our deepest satisfaction, our joy.  But, if we're running the rail, whether it's to be free or safe-both a sign of wanting our own independence-we can't be in a right relationship with Him.  

I listened to the girls as we sat around the campfire later that evening.  Their words showed that God had spoken through Amy's words during the training session. I watched the flames of fire flicker on their faces as they shared how hard it is sometimes to want God over other things.  Oh, how I knew what they were saying.  Sometimes those here and now things-those relationships, those experiences- look so good, so promising.   We were able to discuss how people will fail us, but God-He never disappoints. I think each of us could see herself in that young horse, ripping around the ring at breakneck speed.

I am so thankful for the way God pursues us even when we don't know we want to be pursued. Just as Bailey was purchased and brought from far off,  we too, are brought near by God.  We could never get ourselves into His presence if not for His grace in drawing us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

As His daughters, when we want to run or hide, He draws near. He places people in our lives to teach us about Him, so we can know Him and love Him.  Knowing Him is loving Him.

Praying for these 5 young girls that God will relentlessly pursue each of them until they're willingly walking by His side, running hard after Him.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When You're Looking to Get Through the Wall in Front of You

I was walking along the path when suddenly I came to a wall and not just any wall.  It was a solid stone wall that went up, for as high as the eyes can see.  I tried to turn to the left, but there was more wall.  I tried to turn to the right, but there was wall.  I tried to turn around, but oddly, the path that I had so easily tread just moments ago was no longer behind me.  So I called out to one of my most trusted friends nearby, and like always, she came and grabbed my left hand.  I turned to another, and she too came and grabbed my right.  We stood there for a moment, discussing the wall-how to move through it, how to remove a stone, should we go around it.  Weary from much discussion and dead-ends, there seemed to be nothing for us to do but stay in place. Exhausted, we fell to our knees, and as night covered the earth, we eventually fell asleep, right there on the path.

Sometime in the night, I was awakened from my sleep by a voice.  It was a deep, authoritative voice.  It echoed off the wall, thundered around my friends and I, and even within.

"I will remove stones from the wall in front of you, and you will pass through."  There was no wavering in His voice.  He was so sure, so certain.  I was so relieved.  He knew what we must do to move forward.  

I started to wake my friends, but He spoke again:  "You can't take them with you. There is only one way through this thing.  I will pass before you, and then I will remove just enough stones for you to fit through.   You must trust me in this.  For there is no other way to be saved."

And so it is with Jesus...

It is true what Keller says, that at the beginning of following Jesus, we could never know exactly how far He'd ask us to go. We could never know many times He'd ask us to die to ourselves.  How many times He'd lead us to a wall, only to strip off everything but Him.  

If you find yourself at a wall, a stone wall-high and long-trust Him. Follow Him through the very narrow hole in front of you. 

And there is salvation in no one else,
 for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which
 we must be saved.
Acts 4:12


Sunday, September 22, 2013

When Your Father is Calling Your Name

She sat on the porch swing beside me.  One of the toughest 20 something young women I know.  But at that moment, her legs crossed, eyes intent on the man in front of her, all I could see was a little girl, 5 years old, being called upon, as a father calls upon her daughter.

I couldn't help but see myself before my Father in Heaven.  It was as though He was whispering to me, "Pay attention daughter, this is my heart for you."

I watched my husband choke back tears as he told her God was asking him to love her like a daughter.  He knows the mistakes he's made and the broken inside of him, yet when God calls upon him to do something, he doesn't take it lightly.

Two nights prior, this young women called across a yard to me and a few others she trusts...   I'm looking for a dad...she yelled as she blanketed her horse.  I looked at the other women and asked what she said. Someone repeated her words.  I've seen the determined in this girl, and I've listened to her life goals.  This girl knows how to work.  to fight.  to move and shake. We had been talking about looking for a husband.  No one said anything about looking for a father.

But isn't it always in a child's heart to find her Father?  Hasn't God promised to write eternity on hearts?  An eternity with Him?

My heart stilled and stuttered.  How could I break it to her that you don't just go and find a father?

Later that night, "looking for a father" came up again.  I told her that it may not happen here on earth.  I told her that sometimes God doesn't answer that prayer.

The next morning, my husband comes home from work and says, "I need you to call her.  I need to tell her that I will be there for her-we will be there for her.  That we love her.  That I will love her."  He's talking about the same girl I had just told less than 24 hours ago that her hope of a father figure on earth may be in vain.  I hadn't said anything to him about the conversation that went on in the wee hours of the night.  I hadn't even had time to talk with him yet.

Overwhelmed,  I broke down sobbing at the Sovereignty and love of God. She'll think we're lying, I told him.  She'll think we talked and we planned this.  He looked at me crooked, and I went on to explain how just.last.night she told me she was looking for a father.  And I told him how I pretty much told her to close that book  'cause you don't just go looking for a father.  Of course, in her determined way, she looked at me and said, "Well, I'm going to try."  hmmm.

He knew it would scare her if he called.

Doesn't a Father always know the best way to reach His child?

I called her, and she came within hours. She admitted she was scared 'cause why would Jim want to talk with her. I've known this fear of being offered something.  I've known this fear of someone offering a free gift of love and being so very scared.  I watched my husband unfold his heart for this young woman that we've both grown to love so much. I know how hard it is for him (how many times has he asked God to give him a love for people anyway???).  He told her he was offering the gift of a father, imperfect love, for sure-he told her. I watched him walk headlong into what God was asking of him, yet muddling his way, clinging to his Father, as his words came out.  I'm not sure of even what it looks like, he said...You don't have to accept this offer.  There are no expectations of you.  I just want you to know you have a place here.  A safe place here.

When she finally spoke she told us that her father died this month, twenty some years ago and how she often struggles during this month.  She told Jim how she doesn't even know what to say.  Later she whispered to me as she walked out the door:  I hope I responded right. (smile).

Can one ever respond wrongly to the free gift of love?

Along with my husband, I don't know either.  I don't know how this looks-uncharted territory for sure. I do know my Father and His heart for the fatherless.  I know He loves and loves and loves. His love is steadfast.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When You're Needing a Song in the Night

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, 
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
~psalm 42:8

The time:  3:25 am.  I hear a cry from his bedroom.  "Mommy, Come quick!"  I rush to room to see him sitting on his bed.  No tears.  He's quite excited, actually.  "Mommy, my song is on.  Turn it up."  Kristian Stanfill's "One Thing Remains" has begun on the radio and Gabriel is singing the all too familiar to our family (and our visitors, not to mention our poor neighbors) lyrics. 

Your love never fails,
never gives up,
never runs out on me.

After retrieving him a drink of water while he listens to his song (sigh), I turned to pick something up from the floor.  When I turned back to him, he was drinking his water, eyes closed, hand raised to heaven, and moving in rhythm to the song.  I was reminded once again of the prayer I prayed for him so many times over the last almost 4 years:  God, I give him back to you, to use as you choose.  He is yours.  If there is anything I can do to encourage him in his love for music and you, please help me to be sensitive.

Truth be told, I was awake anyway, just minutes before I heard him yell for me.  I had already decided to get up to pray, after laying in bed for a minute, realizing prayer for others would be a better use of my time than runaway thoughts. So thankful for God's grace in turning my heart to Him, through Gabriel's cry, through his love for this song.  

Father, those you love are hurting.  May they know you are in their midst.  May you remind them you are a mighty one who will save.  May  you rejoice over them with gladness and quiet them with your love.  May you exult over them with loud singing.

The Lord you God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you with his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
~Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When You Need an Anchor

As many people I love are going through a time of suffering, mourning, and loss, I am reminded once again that there is ONE who does not change.  There is ONE who is True.  There is ONE TRUE GOD. There is ONE Jesus. He is the only ONE in whom we hope.  All other things in which or whom I put my trust seem so very dim in the light of Jesus Christ.  It is true...

in the midst of pain and suffering, the anchor of hope in Jesus Christ holds.  

When I was a little girl, my grandma was ever so important to me.  She took me church, taught me to bake bread, how to garden.  She had a lot of time to spend with me, and she always included me in what she was doing. As I watched her grow older, I would plead with God not to take her from me.
I didn't know how I could go on without her.

There was no sign that Grandma's time on earth was so so near. But unbeknownst to me, God began to prepare my heart-a gift for sure. Two weeks before my grandma fell ill, someone gave me a book on Heaven.  One week before she died, someone gave me a cd on Heaven.  After reading the book and listening to the cd over a period of weeks,  I got the call while leaving the West End Fair that grandma had fallen and she wasn't well.

I don't remember a lot of the details between the call and grandma's final day on earth.

It was August 10, 2007, when she took her last breath. I stood in the room of the cardiac unit of Geisinger Hospital with my two aunts.  The end of life on earth for my grandma was but minutes away.  I had watched the numbers that counted my grandma's heartbeats, descending on the screen, over a period of an hour.  Like a countdown clock, the numbers served as a  visual reminder that time on earth is but a breath in light of eternity.  As the numbers started dropping more rapidly, trying desperately to love my grandma and not think of myself in the moment, I fed her with word pictures of what was coming, of Heaven.  I tried my best to love her and serve her, as she had done much of my life.

I began speaking to her of Heaven.  What else do you talk about in these moments?  But how does one describe a place she's never been...

I reminded her of her infant daughter she would see once again, of no more pain, of seeing Jesus face to face.  I remember searching every crevice of my brain for description that might tell of how wonderful Heaven would be.

Finally the screen on the monitor beside grandma's bed was still.  I remember looking at my aunt, begging her to tell me I was wrong.  I knew my grandma had passed from this earth, but in a surreal moment, I wanted everything to rewind.  Just a few more moments.  A few more minutes.  Time is a gift.  But I would learn in the next few moments what my dear friend quoted today, "to surrender to the Creator's control is not onerous or burdensome.  To the contrary, that is the place where stress, struggle, and strain, give way to blessing, abundance, and peace."

I didn't want my aunts to have to tell the family, so I told them I would be the one to go to the waiting room to deliver the news.  I made it about 10 steps out of my grandma's room and the pain of loss and various emotions hit me.  I literally dropped me to my knees.  I remember a young nurse stooping down by my side, gently asking if I was okay and a man, another nurse?  or doctor? coming to the other side of me.  It felt like time stopped.  It seemed as though they picked me up, and I felt like I half-walked, was half carried, and half floated to another area.  They walked me past the waiting room to a sanctioned off hall.  I told them I was okay.  They left.

I remember for a brief moment thinking, "What do I do now?"  I did the only thing I knew to do.  I turned my eyes upon Jesus.  I looked to God for some type of direction.  This looking to God, turning from self trust and preservation-a surrendering of one's thoughts and desires-does indeed bring a deep peace.  Peace, beyond understanding, flooded my soul.  My grandparents' voices filled my mind, and it was as if I could hear them lovingly calling my name, "Angie, Angie...oooh, come on now", just like they did when I was a little girl.

I didn't know what the next few days or years would like without my grandma, but I knew it would be okay. There was enough light for the step I was on.  I was learning to surrender my thoughts, my hopes, my desires, to a loving God, a loving Creator, a loving Father and Trust Him.
I was learning in these moments that God's grace truly is sufficient.  He is faithful.  He is ever present. He alone is my comforter, my protector, my Savior. I was learning...

in the midst of pain and suffering, the anchor of hope in Jesus Christ holds.

This song comes back so many times when I don't understand what's going in me and around me.  

Remembering to surrender today, trusting the only Worthy One.

Father, we look to you for wisdom.  For hope.  For peace.  Help us Father, to surrender to what we can't see and Trust You and love you and know you more.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

On Moments Becoming Memories...

Many people have asked me in the last few weeks, "So, what are you going to do with your time while Ana and Gabriel are in preschool?"  I've pondered, analyzed, prayed about this, thought about this day for a longggg time.  Truthfully, I've pictured myself skipping home, so excited to have some uninterrupted moments. I've also pictured myself crying.  In short, I really didn't know what to expect.

  Today was the day.  

I dropped Ana and Gabriel off at school, a few tears for G, but for the most part, smooth sailing.  (Thank you, Mrs. Grove, for talking of candy-dropping planes :-)  I wore a smile to the parking lot after passing by some teary-eyed mamas and even some mamas who looked half scared themselves.  Poor things-A mama's love runs deep.

I drove home, happy to be alive, happy to have a complete thought.  Heck, I even had several complete thoughts as I drove through town, all without screaming from rear of the suburban.  As I was parking, I saw another preschool mama warming up in our alley, preparing for her run, no children in tow today.  We exchanged words of exercise, shower, and then back to pick them up.
That was MY plan.

Instead, I walked into the house and it was literally as if time stood still.  I looked around at the evidence of the many moments I'd had with my children this morning.  My eyes went from Cole's unfolded jacket to Gabriel's unplaced puzzle pieces.  I glanced down at Ana's blanket strewn on the floor and then to Julia's favorite, soft grey shirt hanging over the side of the bench.
Normally these things make me about half crazy.  

Not Today.

The unexpected happened. I dropped to my knees. Gratitude filling my heart.  I couldn't believe I had been given so much.   I started thanking God for my husband. For Cole.  Julia.  Ana.  Gabriel. Sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder apparently.

The evidence of the brevity of moments was crystal clear.  Moments become memories in a the blink of an eye, I resolved. Just a breath, and a moment is over.  My mind reverted back to just a few short minutes ago, as I passed by the Lutheran Church, glancing at Andre as he prepared for today's funeral.

This must be how one feels at the end of her life.  
Counting memories of loved ones instead of bills.
                              Counting the slightest of touches from loved ones instead of forgotten chores.
                                                        Counting how many times you turned them to Christ instead of yourself.

Nancy has said countless times, You start letting go before they're born.
So many empty nest mamas have said, Enjoy them...they'll be gone before you know it.
And I get it.  I didn't expect all this.  To ponder life and the brevity of it all.  To be drop-to-your-knees thankful.  To cry-poor mama-a mama's love runs deep.

So I give them back to the Giver of Life. Thankful for all He has given.

For from Him and through Him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever.  Amen.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ana Grace Feven Laubach...

She sat on the counter helping me do the ordinary.  Making a peanutbutter banana almondmilk. Something we've done countless times.

And I was struck.  Suddenly, drop you to your knees, struck, by the reality of her.
Of her life.
Of how my life has changed because of her-for the better.
How my heart has been changed-for the better, through this little life.

My mind played back the first time I saw her:
The nanny walked into the room with her and announced her Ethiopian name:  Feven.  It was a moment I've had only 3 other times.  The mama-laying-her-eyes-on-her-child, for the first time, moment.  She was a wonder.  She laughed a "what took you so long" giggle?  I truly thought my heart was going to burst, or I was going to explode, drop to knees, something..because how can a heart contain this joy, this wonder?  I watched as she wiggled her little body across the carpet of the guest room in army crawl fashion.

I've seen the awe of the ocean in Delaware.  I've gazed over Addis Ababa from Entoto Mountain..  I stood in Antigua, Gautemala, staring at a volcano.

But this-this little girl-given to love-was a wonder above all these.

When someone asks me, "Is adoption hard?"  It's difficult to give a straightforward answer.  Ask any adoptive mama.  Because yes,  Some moments excruciatingly hard.  But there are moments of pure joy at the wonder of it all.

Motherhood-a calling.  Through adoption or biologically.

When God showed us we would adopt two babies, ages 0-12 months, at the same time, I was downright scared.  It was not in my plan.  One child, yes.  And then another should God allow.  But two at the same time, never ever was I a mama who thought it would be "cool" to have twins.  At least I don't recall that now, cause well, living in reality sort of helps you to forget all the crazy, rainbows and unicorns thoughts you had.

So very thankful God saw fit to allow Jim and I to have 4 precious children.  So very thankful He saw fit to have me home with them.  It's been SO much harder than I expected.  Being a wife and a mom is definitely a full-time job.  Praising him for these lives.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When Souls are Hanging Between Life and Death, and You're Worried About Your Hair...

Having just been given the gift of bread and juice, a reminder of *the greatest act of love the world will ever know, something happened.  It was unexpected I'd done this hundreds of times hadn't I, taking the bread and juice, praying and giving thanks for what I've been given-LIFE itself.   A weighty reminder.  But this time, something different happened.

As I started back the darkened aisle to return to my seat, the sea of people became individuals.  Eternal Soul #1, Eternal Soul #2, Eternal Soul #3...How many people are here anyway, I wondered, figuring somewhere around 400.

400 eternal souls.  There really is little time to talk about the weather these days.

As I padded back to my seat, as each sandaled footstep hit the concrete floor, God whispered:   (step) Notice him...(step) Notice her...(step) Do you see him... (step) Look at her... (step)...
It was as if God was turning my heart to each one, for a nanosecond of time, as I passed by.  Not turning my head, but oh-so-wanting to, I knew I was passing by custom made, worshiping souls.

Worshiping God or NOT.
In Christ or NOT.
Life or Death.

How does one hold the weight of eternity in his human mind?  

As I passed by Mr. Disinterested, I felt myself wanting to grab him like you'd lovingly grab your little brother who's about ready to get into a fight, shake him by the shoulders, look into his eyes, and yell down into his soul, "Do you know him?"  Do you really know him?  Do you hear the lyrics to this song?  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I!

But you can't wake someone up by screaming or manipulation or sheer will.  It's taken me a long time to get that.

Only God can save a soul.

As I sat back down in my seat, I was reminded of what He tells me in His word, that I did.not.choose.Him, I never would have I tell you, for dead people don't make choices. But He chose me, He woke me up. I was as surprised as anyone.

How could I have been so consumed with that unruly curl of hair this morning when people are dying here?

So we plead with our Father for souls, and He is the sole soul-winner.  Wake them up, God.  The One who makes things out of nothing and calls people to life.  Call him to life, Father.

Almost too much to hold in this head.

Amazing Grace was playing in the background and words scrawled and scratched upon my heart once again, reminding me of my salvation: sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.  My chains are gone, I've been set free, my God, my Savior, has ransomed me, and like a flood, his mercy rains, unending love, AMAZING GRACE.

Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

*Curt Brubaker used this phrase in our service on Sunday, and it grabbed my heart.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eager Longing for the Completion of Adoption

In just a few short hours, we'll load A and G into the Suburban and travel 2 hours to gather more evidence to prove to someone out there, that "Yes, Kibrom James, indeed is, Gabriel John Kibrom Laubach.  When He crossed US lines, he was a citizen, they tell us, but there's really no way to hypothetically prove he belongs here unless every.single.piece. of paperwork is accurate. (Ah, the world of adoption.)  Due to a typographical error, we're still jumping through hoops and fingerprinting our 4 year old to prove he is who we say he is, that he has a new name. That he has the inheritance, obligations, and privileges of James Laubach.  And furthermore, he's not only a "permanent resident", he's a "citizen" here.  As if he's always belonged here.  Yes, in the adoption world there is a difference.

I've scrawled the words "sons of God" in my journal countless times and today I read, when we read "sons of God" in the New Testament, it refers to our adoption.  Because of Jesus, we are adopted as "sons of God".  Under the law, we were slaves, awaiting adoption.


He was the ransom that allows us to be adopted children of God Almighty.  A few tens of thousands of dollars in the adoption world is nothing compared to the priceless blood of Christ, because we can bring a child 7,000 miles, from continent to continent, but only Christ can bring many sons from death to life, slave to child.

Like, Gabriel John Kibrom Laubach, who has been given the Laubach name, we who have been bought with blood, have the inheritance, privileges, and obligations of God.  Unlike we fallen, prone to inaccuracy, people, God completes His work perfectly, right down to every drop of blood, nail, and thorn.  When He says, It is finished, well then, It.Is.Finished.  No need to travel back and forth, complete more paperwork, wonder if it the adoption really went through.

Praying for the completion of the adoption of this son of ours because paperwork really can make you temporarily insane-ask any adoptive mama.

Praying, yes humbly pleading, for those this coming Sunday as siblings gather and heads bow.  Adoption taking place in the heavenlies, long before we with finite minds perceive it.  Is there anything more joyous, more can-hardly-even-breathe in, than when a child is presented by the Father to the rest of the family?
Praying the tears never stop falling and joy never fades, as one more child joyfully and willingly proclaims, "Yes, I want to be adopted."
Romans 8:19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

God's Family-the Church

Something clicked as we sat there talking, Nancy and I, reflecting, as our church family picnic drew to an end..

This truly is an adoptive family.  Each of us adopted into this family by our Father, broken and being healed.  A larger picture of Freedom, seen last night, as the pieces came together for a gathering. This family-what God intends for us as His children, as we work together, strive together, play together, deny self for the sake of the gospel.  Freedom Fellowship, part of a bigger picture, God's children, His church.

Some of us come, just as adopted children, totally broken and bruised from our former way of life.  Some of us come, perhaps a little less scarred.  So, we encourage, and yes sometimes, push and pull through sweat and tears, each other along, reminding one another what this "inheritance" means. Reminding one another that "you were chosen and you belong in this family".   Reminding one another that we're alive (no longer dead), we've been made new, we're each accepted into this family-always-no place for jealousy-ever, we are blessed in Jesus, we have a strong Father-a strong God, our Father is FOR us, we will NEVER EVER be abandoned again-ever, our Father fights for us, we are for one another-we will fight for one another, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, there is JOY here...for the praise of our God's glorious grace.

From my small place at the pool (just one perspective among many):

The dads of the littles, played in the pool with them...a blessing to watch.

The dads of the bigs...they jumped right in.  Keith, Steve, and Curt clumped down that oh-my, will-it-hold-together slide, screamed like little girls once or twice, for the enjoyment of the rest of us.

Rachael, with her laughing eyes, tried to bully Christine into going down the slide...way to stick to your guns, Chris! (or perhaps you're a wimp :-)

The joy that Rachael and Tish showed, just playing in the thankful they help to lead our young ones.  So thankful these sisters lead me to joy in my Father.

The young boys/men lined up to go off the dive...brave young thankful for them.

Ruth, flipping and turning, right off that dive...Yes.  You.go.girl.

Manny (aka Mr. T.) chomping down chips beside Mr. "I'm Bigger Now, beside two white mamas who often wondered if they'd ever be home.  Thank you for your faithfulness, God.

Mike, a brother behind the scenes, cooked chicken for everyone!

Missy, leaving dripping wet, well 'cause, someone thought she looked hot.

Liz spotting Jules and Cole 50 cents for much needed chips :-)

The Keefers shared a chair with a woman, whose husband watched her children, 'cause she needed to her older sister.

The missing members of the family were missed, all the while, given blessing to go.

The "older" girls, caring for the littles, so the mamas could have an entire conversation.  Love them.

Family who served the rest by dishing food, carrying water, carrying chairs, police-ing the bouncy things-go Megan!, making signs, organizing, reminding us week after week in the bulletin...

Eddy, in his new role in our family, serving, loving, and playing well, right along with Libby-loving, laughing, talking, and taking photos.

Christine and Curt were able to drive to the picnic together-blessing.

Our boys on skateboards and rollerblades and things looking like fun.

Wearing someones flip flops home, 'cause I guess other women like black Old Navy flip flops, too.

Thank you, God, for this family, this place to learn and grow, into the likeness of your Son, for your glorious Name.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Coffee Face

The Fall

Look Out World

G and A with their Chicken (thanks, Katie :-)

Happy B.Day, Daddy.

Goof Troops

FINALLY "bigger"

Father and Son

Cousins are Awesome

15 Years...


Goofing in the Ocean

Daddy's B.Day @ Penn's Creek


Daddy's B.Day...We took way too many pics, Jules.

Pants going down...

Hope this never gets old for you, Cole.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rethinking our Role Models :-)...

So, Julia announced last night, since everyone was present (she said), that she wants a goat dummy (for tying-sorry goat lovers) for Christmas...thanks Amy Good.  I guess it would be better than her using Ana, as she's been doing.

Ana comes in this morning, and asks for a grocery bag for her chicken, 'cause it's dead, after viewing Katie Benner's blog (Katie Loves Haiti)  on which she shares how she bought a chicken at the market, and then butchered it in the backyard...oh my.

Many mornings, Gabriel tells Ana to get her "horse boots" on...they're heading for the stable (aka bikes in shed).

We are so thankful for Godly young women in lives of our children.  We love you, Katie and Amy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

This Truth

When you receive a command from God, do not go looking for the power in yourself.  The only power you'll ever receive is found in Him, from Him.  HE is all-sufficient.  The fullness of God is found in Christ.

Know Him

Cole, Julia, Ana, and Gabriel~

Know Him.  I may not be able to make you love Him, but I pray, that more than anything else, I will rightly introduce you to the Father.  That I will teach you of WHO He is.  I pray to constantly take you before our God, that one day each of you may KNOW Him and be KNOWN by Him.  I will fail you as a mother.  You father, though oh so good, will fail you.  Our heavenly Father will never fail you.  He is thoroughly good.  Thoroughly gracious.  All together kind.  He is just.  I love you, dear ones.

Some say there's no use crying over spilt milk-we beg to differ.  One drink spilled per meal per day-good use to cry 'cause shoutin' doesn't work.  Daddy says he spills more than anyone.

G. woke up today and immediately went to the washing machine and tried to start a load of laundry.  Hmmm.  What do you do w/ that?!  Perhaps teach him.  Could this be my answer to prayer for help w/ lots and lots of laundry??  He also can unload the groceries and put them away.

Jules faced her fear of kayaking head on yesterday and went out and enjoyed herself...go Jules.  Thanks to Jeff for helping her along the side of the pond while she got used to it.

Ana caught 2 fish...go Ana.

G. loved riding in the kayak w/ Dad.

Cole and Trevor had fun in the kayaks, too, went over to the stream and paddled around in the pond.

Mama did dishes, read, played guitar and worshiped.  Love you, dear husband, for giving me these times of rest.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Because Someone Was Praying

We walked across the lawn of the little white Methodist church in Rebersburg, two unlikely souls, Ruth, an Amish woman, wife of Abe, a spunky man who would tease me often about his Amish fits, and a mama to at least 10.  Me, a wife of a steady man, mama of two (at the time), who had plunged herself into more trouble over two decades than I care to recount.  It's still a wonder to me that God reached down and pulled me out.  Amazing, Hard-to-Believe Grace.  My grandma's funeral had just concluded and we were moving to assemble in the Hall for a meal.

She quietly said as we walked, "You know, Angie, we prayed for you."

We moved in step with one another as I glanced at her, not understanding.  She went on to tell me about the day we left, the day my mom and I moved to another town.  My parents' impending divorce was becoming a reality.

As we walked, Ruth's words rang in my ears, We prayed for you, Angie.

At this time of deep sorrow and loss, the end of my earthly relationship with my grandma, God was giving me a sweet gift that reached far down into the soul.  Knowing someone was praying over my life was a reminder from my Father that no matter how the circumstances appeared when I was little, He was prompting people to pray.

I have no idea what they prayed, but I know the prayers of a faithful woman avail much.  I was 5.  If my life from the age of 5 to 22 were to run on a movie screen, you would never have guessed there was power in prayer.  I lived in direct disobedience to God and His Word and the sporadic visits to my grandma's church throughout my childhood seemed to have little affect on my life when I went back home.

But God.

At the age of 22, He pulled me out.  I can see now, looking back, how He tenderly drew me and wooed me with the love of a Father over years, patiently waiting for His runaway daughter to come home.  My story is not unique.  I've sat and listened to testimony after testimony of women, whose God loved them and pulled them out of lives of sin and despair, despite their best efforts to run in the opposite direction.

So thankful that someone was praying.  So thankful that our God was covering my parents and me at a time when things must have looked so very bleak to onlookers.  So thankful that He draws us, based on nothing we do, but by His grace alone and for His great name.

Consider your calling brother, brothers, not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong:  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, (why?)
So that no human being might boast in the presence of God. Because of Him, you are in Christ Jesus... 
Cor. 1:26-30a


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Spirit of Adoption

Prompted by the Spirit months ago, I've been praying about FEAR lodged in the crevices of my heart, praying that God would remove it.  Fear of flying, Fear of standing in front of a church-load of people, and certainly Fear of singing into a microphone in front of a church-load of people.  I've done all of these things.  I've flown to Ethiopia and back (not very gracefully, I might add), I've stood in front of groups of women, and I've sang with worship teams in the past and present.  But here's the thing, I do it AFRAID.  I stood before our worship leader weeks ago, tears welling after worship and said, "I don't want to do this anymore.  I don't want to FEAR.  It's threatening to consume me."

As I sat down before the Lord this morning, my Father quietly whispered, You have not been given the spirit of fear, but adoption and He took me to Romans 8:15:  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba!  Father!

One thing I've learned through adopting two of our children, is that  it is a long and arduous process, and there is NO way a child can choose and work his way into a family on his own.  The child is often in midst of desperate poverty, darkness, and just so far-off from his family.  There must be someone to step forth, to give a ransom, and to claim the child as his own, giving him his name.

While signing the official paperwork for A's and G's adoption, the official looked straight at us and asked as more of a statement than a question, "You know this is FOREVER."  Tears formed and a lump caught in my throat.  Jim and I looked at each other and together we looked back at the official and and said in agreement, We know.

Baby Feven, with no last name, abandoned near a market in Dire Dawa, would now be Ana Grace Feven Laubach.

Baby Kibrom, with no last name, abandoned in the Dessie Region of Ethiopia, would now be Gabriel John Kibrom Laubach.

Many people will often say, "Oh, you renamed them."  Well, actually, we believe God had these names chosen for them.  We were given the names in 2007, two years before they were born.  I'll never forget the day I looked up the meaning of the names, as we considered naming Ana, Hannah.  I was stunned to read:

Ana means "gracious" and Grace well, it means Graceful.
Gabriel means "devoted to God" and John means "God is gracious".

This is not a plug for adoptive families to rename their children because I believe the last name, the family name, it's the name with the most significance.  Although the children were given new names, they flew home on their father's name, James Laubach.  They could not fly home on their own names, so their passports would read, Feven James Laubach and Kibrom James Laubach.  Much like us, as children of God, claimed for His own, our personality is not taken from us, we're still individuals, but we're part of a bigger family, and we're known by the name, that is, the character, of our Father because of His son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

After leaving the embassy, and signing official paperwork, we went to sign Ana and Gabriel out of the orphanage forever.  There was one outfit, a little white shirt and skirt, that Ana wore while visiting us throughout the week, as we transitioned them into our family, that I was tempted to ask for in exchange for an extra outfit we had brought.  But something occurred to me as I pondered this.  This is who Ana was.  Symbolic of our spiritual adoption, these clothes were to be left at the orphanage, and she would receive the new clothes from her family.  Much like us, as adopted children, we are to take off the old self and put on the new.

When we pray "in the name of Jesus", we're not just praying in the superficial name, J-E-S-U-S.  We're praying in the name, the character, all of WHO Jesus is.

Little Ana, was leaving behind her former self, all of what her life entailed, and was being placed in a family, receiving the family name, a new inheritance, a father.

I often say to Ana as a means of disciplining and teaching, "Ana, that's not who you are.  That's not what this family does.  When she was two, I would often have to say, "Ana, in this family we use our hands for gentleness and hugging.  We don't use them to hit or scratch."  Now that she's three, I find myself saying, A LOT, "Ana, we don't throw a temper tantrum to get what we want.  Ana, I am for you. I am not against you.  I am here to help you, and I love to give you things.  However, I know what's best for you.  Sometimes that means you get what you ask for and sometimes it means you don't.

As I continue to look to my Father for guidance thought-by-thought about fear, I hear him say, Angie, that's not what we do here.  You are my child, and my child does not fear.  My child trusts.  I will never leave you.  I will never forsake you.

Learning to be a child, loved and cherished, can be a tricky thing for us who have once been far off and now brought near (Eph.2:13). I recently heard it called "Spiritual Amnesia".

We forget WHO we are because we forget WHOSE we are.
We forget we're loved.

But God.  He draws us tenderly (Hos.2:14).  Promises to protect and never leave (2 Cor. 4:9, Josh 1:5)  His name, that is, His character, is Faithful and True. (Rev. 19:11)

I believe it's just one of the many reasons our Father delights to spend time with us upon waking.  First, He knows we need Him.  He knows were weren't created to live a moment on our strength.  Secondly, He knows we have spiritual amnesia, and just one night's sleep can allow us to forget who we are, whose we are.  Praying for my children, all 4 of them, that they would know who they are IN CHRIST.  Praying they will seek the Father daily to learn to know Him, all of who He is.  Exhaustively, no.  Accurately, yes.