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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Found these photos today on the video camera... :-)
Love seeing "the bigs" smiling like this :-)
Love Watching Him Play this Game

Gabriel's crib at the orphanage.  Ana's is below Gabriel's.

Ana's crib at the orphanage-Gabriel's is beside hers.
Sunset in Addis

We couldn't get over the scaffolding.

A's and G's Nannies
Laundry at the Orphanage


Ana-about 1 yr.

Look Out Jamie Grace

Friday, April 12, 2013

Learning to Fight Like a Girl~~~~~~~(God's Girl)

How Do You Fight?
Our small group leader asked How do you FIGHT?    Meaning:  How do you fight temptation when it comes?  How do you fight the lies that knock at the door of your brain at 10 o'clock at night when you want to sleep?" How do you fight off the enemy when you're tempted to believe you really are a n no good, dirty rotten, mom?

I used to (like yesterday, used to) try and fight the enemy like a middle-school, cat scratching girl, in my own strength.  I thought I was really tough.  Satan took me down way too many times to count.  I quickly, or not so quickly, learned that I can not fight the enemy in my own strength.

In Whose Name Do You Fight?
All my life, I wanted to be known as "So and So's daughter".  I loved when someone would ask, "Are you Lester's girl?" or when dad would introduce me as "his oldest girl".    Inevitably, people were shocked to find that Lester had a third daughter because I'm much older than my siblings, and I didn't live with them..  In my little-girl mind, to be someone's daughter, was to have an identity.  So, you can imagine my joy when I learned, as a twenty-something adult, what it is to be the daughter of God, one who never leaves, never forsakes, is all powerful. HIS is the name to which we cling to and in which we fight.  Our name is in the NAME above ALL NAMES.

Replacing Lies with Truth
Jesus describes satan like this:  He is a murderer and there is no truth in him.  He speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. There is NO TRUTH found in him. (John 8)

I once heard that the "best defense against Satan is to agree with him about the accusation he's making."  Which would look something like, "Yes, I agree, I am a sinner.  But Jesus died for my sins."  Not a bad start, perhaps, but if the specific lie is not wrapped in a Truth, satan will continue to bring it back in full force, hitting you in the same spot, with the same fiery dart. The enemy is very good at using scripture to manipulate our feelings into a pit of despair or self-righteousness.  I suppose this is a good place to add a common quote in our local church:  Feelings make a better caboose than an engine."

The Pre-Battle Plan
Preparation is important to any task, mundane or mountainous.  So it is in this spiritual battle of the mind, which by the way is mountainous and daily and often moment-by-moment.  Some ways to prepare for this inevitable battle:

1.  Know your Father.  It's easier to trust (or unfortunately sometimes distrust) someone you know well.  Our Father is faithful and true, kind and loving, tender and all-powerful, merciful and just.  All-sufficient and All-knowing.  You will not regret getting to know your Father.  You will not be let down.
But How do you get to know the God of the Universe?
First, Spend time reading His Word (the bible) to get to know him.  Study Him, His character, who He really is.  There are going to be people, christians and non-christians, who try and tell you what He's like.  Know Him for yourself.  Ask Him to show you WHO He is.  He will.  He promises that if you seek Him, you will find him.  This is not a childish game of hide n' seek.  This is a resting in the place and person your heart is longing to find.  Know He is the one drawing you.  His word says that no one comes to the Father but those who He calls.  Your desire to know him is simply a response to the desire that He's already placed in your heart.  Like a machete-wielding pathmaker in the depths of the Amazon Jungle, He's already prepared and made the path to Him clear and straight.

As you get to know your Father, you will want to spend more and more time with Him.  Promise.  This will mean saying no to "self" and saying yes to HIM often.  Purpose to spend time with Him, as you would a dear friend, your spouse, your child.  Clear your schedule by going for a walk, coffee, journaling, etc. with Him. Take time to listen and be real before Him.   (This is not Monopoly.  You cannot skip Go (knowing your Father) and collect $200.  You must first know Him or you'll be spending a lot of time talking to yourself. Talking to yourself is what crazy people do.  Don't do that.

2.  Know your identity as God's daughter, a daughter who is found IN CHRIST. For a very long time, I've wondered about individuals:  Are you a christian or a non-christian?  I found this to be a fruitless and exhausting question.  No need to ask that.  However, I have come to understand one thing.  You're either IN or your OUT.  You're IN Christ or you're not". I don't get to determine that for anyone else.  And based on the answer, I still love, whether someone is a Christian or not.  This simple, yet profound, life-altering Truth, that my identity is found IN CHRIST ALONE (Getty song, anyone?:-) and not in being a wife, mother, or anything else, has taken care of a lot of wacky behaviors.  When I realized (like all of two months ago) that I no longer have to strive to BE anything, that my purpose is to be a daughter, all that striving suddenly seemed so very useless.

3.  Know you fight in the NAME of your FATHER, which means you've already won.  How many times have we thought, this is a "losing battle".  Well, good news, this is a winning battle.  You win.  Period.  Exclamation mark!  Jesus died on the cross,  shed his blood, and trampled the enemy.  He is victorious.

4.  Know the battle doesn't really belong to you.  It belongs to your Father.  Unlike a defenseless spindly teenager who may be jumped after school in a back alley, you are NEVER alone. Your Father promises to never leave you and never forsake you. When your father claimed you as His own, you gave up your life, which included your strength and received Him, His power in Christ and the cross and the Holy Spirit.  This battle belongs to your Father.  Fight in His name.  In His strength.  Be still.  Stand Firm.  (take a look at 2 Chronicles 20)

5.  Watch
 In 1 Peter, God's Word says be watchful:  your adversary the devil  prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Stay close to your Father.  What is one of the key strategies predators use to hunt down and kill young prey?  They first divide them from the parents or pack and then attack. Stay close to the Father and stay close to your herd (that would be the church, Christ's body.)  Don't be like my 3-year-olds who think it's awesome to run ahead of me, at the grocery store, across the street, anywhere, just to prove their independence.  Proof of foolishness and immaturity, yes?  Proof of independence, no.

Game On
You wake up and it seems like any other ordinary day and suddenly an onslaught of negative emotions hit you.  Suddenly your thoughts are negative and self-condemning.  Honey, you're in a war.  You have a choice.  You can fight in your old strength, (you'll lose, by the way) or you fight like the daughter you are.  If you choose not to follow the god of your feelings and instead follow the only True God, He promises victory.

Flesh or Spirit-How Do I Know?
You will know if you fight in the flesh if you often feel like you've just broken loose of a rabbit snare, with one of your legs still stuck in the darn thing or if you are resting in the strength of your Father.  Fighting in the strength of your father, in the Spirit, is much like a trusting child, riding on the back of her father, as he wades through some very deep waters, waters that would be way over her head if she tried to do it alone.

I'm a lover, not a fighter.  Do I Really Have to Fight?
As Paul often reminded us, we work hard, though it's not really us, but God's grace in us. (1 Cor.15:10)  We do have a part in the battle, but all within the context of who God is and who we are in Him. When you're in the heat of battle and your Father, your commander tells you to pick up your sword and fight, FIGHT for crying out loud.  FIGHT WITH THE WORD. Fortunately, your defense is the same as your offense.  Remember, satan knows he can't kill you, but he'll die trying  Take the lie, that fiery dart coming at you, and shield yourself with it.  Then, take the same truth and replace the lie.  It goes something like this.

Fiery dart comes flying at you at warp speed:  "You are a horrible mother.  Really.  Why did God ever give you children?"
You evaluate the thought:  Is this TRUTH or a lie?  It has taken me a long time to understand the difference between condemnation and conviction.  
Truth will focus on Christ. Lies will focus on you and your performance. 

If you choose to accept the lie, satan will be pleased to go on and on and your flesh will deceptively follow this talk about yourself. 

If you choose to reject the lie, you fight the lie with TRUTH and PRAYER, remembering WHO He is and the GOSPEL:

  Father, satan is trying to confuse me right now by tempting me to believe that I am to focus on self and performance.  I know I am to behold Christ, not behold Ang.  While I am tempted to believe this lie by following my feelings,  I know if I carry this lie out to the end, from thought to action, only condemnation, discouragement, and self-pity will come.  
My identity is found in Christ alone.  I have died and my life is now hidden in Christ with God. (Col. 3:3)  
Father, I trust you.  I trust your faithfulness, your power, your goodness.  And I trust that Jesus died for my sins-past, present, and future.  He lived a perfect life, knowing full well I couldn't.  He gave me His righteousness and paid, in full, for my sin with His blood.  

Worship in the War
Worship is a weapon in war.  Often times as I'm fighting and praying, there's often a song that comes to mind.  I find myself singing one of Tomlin's latest these days...nothing formed against me shall stand, you hold the whole world in your hands.  I'm holding on to your promises.  You are faithful. You are faithful...

Father, I thank you that you have won the battle. That once, I was far off and you brought me near.  Once I was in darkness and you delivered me into your light.  I praise you for your are awesome and perfect, good and true.  Faithful and never-leaving or forsaking.  May you be glorified in our minds, in our actions.  May we worship you in the battle.

Lest I read this in 10 years, or one of my daughters reads this, and think I had this all figured out, rest assured, I don't.  I've not arrived. Yet, I know I have fought this battle with the flesh for far too long.  I have fought out of fear.  Fear that my father is not who He says He is.  I've often chosen to trust self rather than God.  I turn.  I turn (repent) from this and ask my Father to empower me with His strength in my weakness.  I pray, my daughters, that you learn at an early age to rest in Him and ride on His back across the muddy and deep waters of life, and sing all the while.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Babies in Bellies and a Teenager in the House

So, unbeknownst to us, our youngest daughter has been going around asking every.single.woman if she has a baby in her belly...ugh.  The worst part-she seems to target them when they're alone-probably at, um, that time of the month, when you're feeling a bit bloated.  Isn't this just the worst question ever?!  I SO want to go onto facebook, but I'm taking a break from facebook and I announced it to the whole world.  So now, if I go back on and post, people will not only be thinking ill thoughts of my daughter but will be wondering about her mother's lying skills.  So...I will not post.

Here's the backstory:
We got Netflix a while back.  I was sure all my problems were solved.  Jim was happy-$7.99 a month-yay for us.  Until A and G decide they only like shows the other one HATES.  So, along comes Rugrats.  I know.  No self-respecting mama lets her kids watch Rugrats probably.  I did for an instant think it was a bad idea and then they both started chanting, "rugrats, rugrats", so because they we're in agreement over one stinkin' show, I let them watch it.  And then we found the Rugrats Movie.  These two do not sit still for more than 10 minutes-tops.  So when they both sat down and watched the whole thing, I was like, this is the best movie ever.  Until...the blasted question that keeps popping up all over our church and who knows where else.  Apparently the mom on the show has a baby in her belly.  This has brought up all sorts of questions in our house.

A funny from today:  Ana says to Gabriel as we played restaurant:  "Extuse me, Sur.  I would like some caffeine."

Tonight we will celebrate Cole's 13th birthday by taking him for Chinese, going to BU field house, and then for raspberry ice cream-some of his favorite things. So excited to love on him.