Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Take the 40-Day Challenge!

Are you a New Year’s Resolution maker?!? Are you debating about what resolution you'll make for 2010? It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no because I believe God wants us ALL to commit to this challenge, regardless of whether or not we’re the New Year’s Resolution type. (Just FYI: I am not a resolution person, but God has laid it on my heart to ask everyone to commit to the 40-Day Challenge for 2010.) All it takes is a few minutes/day for 40 days, BUT the results will be life-changing.

There’s an “old” book that many of you have on your bookshelves, covered in dust, because you’ve already read it. (No, I’m not referring to your childhood Bible!) It’s Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life book, which is not the biggest hype right now, but its message is still just as powerful as it was years ago. If you don’t have a copy, ask a friend if they have a copy you can borrow, or order it from Amazon (click here) or Christian Book Digest (click here). Most Wal-Marts have these in stock as well. It will only cost you around $10 (less if you buy used), but it will make a priceless difference in your life. (Christian Book Digest sells bulk 4-packs of this book at a discount if you’re interested in buying them for your entire family or a set of friends. (click here) Consider getting a group together for accountability. There’s also a DVD curriculum and other great curricula (click here) to accompany the book if you’d like to start a Purpose Driven Bible study group.)

If you’ve already read this book, I strongly encourage you to read it again. This book is like the Bible…you can re-read the same passage over and over again, year after year, and God will reveal something new to you from the same words. The Purpose Driven Life is a powerful book that has so many life-changing insights. Even if your life is going great right now, there’s so much to learn from The Purpose Driven Life. It is SOOOO worth dedicating only a few minutes/day for 40 days!!! Did you know that this book is THE best-selling non-fiction hardback book in HISTORY?!?

Now, if you haven’t read it, this statistic should tell you that you should! If you have read it, get it back out and ask God to give you new insight for 2010.

I just completed this study with our 12-year-old daughter, Meribeth, who we adopted from Colombia at the age of 11. Meribeth has experienced so much loss, abuse and trauma in her first eleven years of life that we weren’t sure we would ever be able to help her, but we knew that God would. As I was praying and searching for yet another Christian counselor for Meribeth, God told me to use the book The Purpose Driven Life as a method of helping heal Meribeth. So, Meribeth and I committed 40 days to reading this book, and it has been life-changing for both of us. God used the book to open my eyes to why He chose us to parent Meribeth as well as ways we can help her to heal. I am amazed at how God has used this book to speak directly to the broken heart of a 12-year-old girl, and at the same time, deliver powerful messages to her God-chosen mom!

The daily messages in this book are powerful and life-changing, no matter where you are in life. Even if you think you’ve got it all figured out and your life is going great and not in need of any change, I can guarantee you that God will speak to you in this book and give you fresh wisdom, as long as you commit 40 days to reading it with an open heart and mind, followed by prayer.

I pray that in 2010, as many people consider resolutions for better health, that you will consider your spiritual health as a top priority. I pray you will ask God to help you be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) I pray that you will take the 40-Day challenge alongside our family. It is only a few minutes every day for 40 days. It doesn’t require sweat, new shoes, or a gym membership. It only requires that you obtain a copy of The Purpose Driven Life and read a daily message for 40 days.

Our entire family, including our children, is taking the 40-Day Challenge for 2010, and we’d LOVE for you to do the same! We will begin January 1st. Will you join us? (Now, don't say NO just b/c you're busy on the 1st! You can start this book ANYTIME!!!) Pretty please?!? With a cherry on top?!?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chrissie's Heart Surgery is Scheduled

This post is for those who didn't access our blog via our Caring Bridge update.  (www.caringbridge.org/visit/forgottensawranch)  This is what I posted on Caring Bridge yesterday (12/26/09):

We celebrated Jesus’ birthday with family and friends, and all of our kids proclaimed this Christmas to be the BEST Christmas ever. We asked God to quiet our hearts throughout the Advent Season, and help us to stay focused on His precious Gift, the most wonderful Gift of all…Jesus. We spent each night of the Advent Season reading God’s Word, creating ornaments for our Jesse Tree (tracing the lineage of Christ back to a shoot from the stump of Jesse), praying together as a family, admiring God’s plan to come to earth as a baby and His many fulfilled prophecies, and thanking Him for His precious gift of Salvation. We also decided as a family to receive less and give more to help orphans. It is truly amazing to witness all of our hearts being transformed daily into hearts which care less about things and more about relationships. It was such a delight to have our precious Chrissie with us, and I am confident that the gift of Chrissie’s smile and her sweet spirit is partly responsible for making this our best Christmas ever, second to the wonder and amazement of the Christ Child being born, of course. Chrissie continues to overflow with joy; I think she just might be the happiest child I’ve ever met! I continue to be amazed at God’s amazing and abundant blessings for our family.

Christmas Eve in the Patterson Home
(off-centered photo, courtesy of timer enabled digital camera perched on china hutch!)

Christmas morning in our home as we finished our last Jesse Tree Devotional prior to opening gifts.

One would never know this precious doll has several severe heart defects!

Chrissie’s open-heart surgery has been scheduled for January 18, 2010. I would LOVE to have someone head up a prayer chain for her. Her surgery is so complex and extreme that I feel it’s imperative to have Chrissie and her team of surgeons and medical staff prayed for continuously throughout her surgery and hospital stay until she comes home. If you would like to spearhead this prayer chain, please let me know. You can leave a comment for me on this site or you can email me directly at Lorraine @ Forgotten Saw Ranch.com. (remove spaces from email address; placed there for spam control) I have a feeling that God will lift up an army of prayer warriors for our precious princess!!!

Chrissie’s surgery is quite complex. I’m not even sure what exactly will be done, and I’ll probably not describe this accurately, but I’ll attempt to! Chrissie is a miracle child, as she should have died within the first 2 days of life since she was born without a pulmonary artery or valves in her heart, amongst other defects, such as a large hole between the lower right and left ventricles of her heart. As we reported before, Chrissie is being kept alive by 3 God-made vessels (which none of the rest of the world has) which are working independently of her heart. Our hearts pump blood to our lungs to be oxygenated through the pulmonary artery and valves; since Chrissie lacks these, there is NO blood flow to her lungs from her heart. However, God created those 3 God-made vessels to work independently of the heart to pump blood to Chrissie’s lungs to be oxygenated. There’s also a large hole between the lower right and left chambers of Chrissie’s heart, which must be closed. I know there were some other issues with Chrissie’s pulmonary system, but I can’t recall all of the details. I just know that it’s a HUGE miracle to be able to repair all that is wrong, and I thank God for His healing hands in Chrissie’s life and for sending Dr. Mary Porisch (pediatric cardiologist) into our lives.

First, as with any open-heart surgery, they will need to separate Chrissie’s sternum (OUCH!), and then they’ll need to operate on her heart. Chrissie will have to have some cadaver parts installed into her heart since she’s missing her pulmonary artery and valves. They’ll need to close the big hole between the lower chambers of her heart. Then they’ll need to take the 3 God-made vessels that are outside of her heart, and tie them into the cadaver pulmonary artery/valves. Then the heart will have to learn how to operate properly with all of the correct parts and functions. Her heart has never been a properly functioning heart, but God is the Great Physician, and I feel confident that He will allow the cardiosurgeon and medical staff to heal Chrissie’s fragile heart and pulmonary system.

The average hospital stay for pediatric open-heart surgery patients is 7-10 days. However, these are usually “minor” repairs such as a hole in the heart. Chrissie will be having so much done to her little system that no one will be able to predict how long she will stay in the hospital. (I will be staying round-the-clock with Chrissie, right there in her bed beside her b/c that’s where she wants and needs me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Stephanie will take care of our other 4 children at our home, and Matt will toggle between the hospital, his office, and our home.) We would love for you to join us in praying that Chrissie’s heart will be repaired beautifully without any complications, and that she’ll recover quickly without any complications. We are doing all we can to take all fear-provoking thoughts captive; however, it is extremely scary and downright heart-breaking to consider what all Chrissie will have to go through. We are trusting and believing God for His gift of healing, and while we must be prepared to tell Chrissie goodbye as she goes into surgery, we cannot allow ourselves to really consider the possibility that her joyful smile, contagious laugh, and sweet kisses might not be seen, heard or felt again until Heaven. That thought is just too much to consider, and that is why I am asking for each of you to join us in praying for Chrissie and her cardiosurgeon, cardiologist, and the entire medical team that will be taking care of our precious princess. Please consider the privilege of heading up a team to coordinate a schedule of prayer warriors who will be praying every minute for Chrissie’s procedure and healing. We would be so very grateful.

In the meantime, we are enjoying every second with Chrissie and trying to make the most of life together as a family before her surgery. Each day is a gift from God, and we are forever grateful and forever blessed by our King of Kings.

Our Precious Princess!  Please pray for her upcoming surgery!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My First Post!

It's my very first post...YAY! I have wanted to start a blog for a long time now, but my busyness has kept me from devoting the time to sit down and set it up. Now, the pressure of what to write in my very first post...hmmmm...there's so much to say and so many topics to discuss!

First, let me begin by declaring that I am merely a sinner who has been mercifully saved by the blood of Jesus. I haven’t always been the “home-schooling, van driving, adoptive mom, Jesus Freak” that many might classify me as today. In fact, I spent most of my life rebelling against my Father, my parents, and any authorities who were placed in my life. I was a rude, mean, disrespectful, selfish, egocentric person who always thought of myself and MY needs, wants and desires more than I ever thought of others.

God’s work in my life has been a slow miracle in progress, to say the least. Although I was raised going to church, I never had an intimate relationship with Christ. I believed that Jesus was God’s Son, and that He died for my sins, but I was happy with just that, with nothing else being required of me. Therefore, I lived a life of selfishness, greed, jealousy and ugliness. Never was I once bothered by it, either.

Until God began to soften my heart and open my eyes.

He began this work by sending me my first-born son, Parker. God forced me to take the focus off of ME, and He forced me to pour myself out for someone else. He did this by sending me a son who wasn’t a textbook baby…he was far from it. While he didn’t have any diagnosed “special needs”, he was one high maintenance baby!!! (And I LOVED babies, worked in a day care center in high school, babysat from the age of 11 until…well, until presently!, and I’d never cared for a baby as high maintenance as the one God sent me.)

But God knew all of this and sent me Parker for a very good reason.

God loved me and wanted me to begin to learn to love others as He loved me, which meant chipping away at my selfishness and opening my heart to His love in an intimate way.

God’s work in my life had officially begun on May 25, 1996, and since that date, He’s never given up. It’s taken him many years to chisel away at the hardness of my heart, carefully circumcising away all of the areas that He desires gone and replacing it with more of Him. God showed me His message in Deuteronomy 30 regarding circumcision of the heart. Ever since He opened my eyes to His desire and showed me how I didn’t love Him the way He loved me, I began praying for God to SHOW me, TEACH me, GUIDE me, and CIRCUMCISE my heart to be more like His.

What a mighty work He has had cut out for Him! But, because He is so mighty and powerful, He has faithfully been chipping away at this heart of stone, tenderizing and circumcising, and I am forever grateful and forever blessed.

Little did I know what this prayer of circumcision would mean for my life. I wholeheartedly and faithfully prayed for God to circumcise my heart, to teach me how to love the way He loves me. I never once considered what that might look like in my life, but that’s a good thing, because I probably would have been too scared to pray that prayer had I known what it would require!!!

Circumcise my heart, dear God.
Remove this piece of stone.
Enable me to love you, Lord—
To live for you alone!

It would take a novel to record all that He has done in my life, but in short, let me just say that yes, He is definitely a miracle-worker! He has taken me from living a self-centered all-about-me life to realizing and rejoicing that my life is not my own. I am His, my life is His, and I want Him to do with me what He desires, even if I don’t always “agree”! I have learned that He will replace my selfish desires with His desires, and He will graciously give me and grant me the desires of my (His) heart. He has basically taken everything I said I would NEVER do (because it involved too much emotional risk or too much selflessness), and taught me how to do it for His glory! Everything I used to freely judge (as the all-knowing authority on every subject I used to be), He has humbled me by having me DO those exact same things, and in the process, He has begun circumcising my heart.

He has taught me (and is still teaching me!) how to have an intimate relationship with  Him, how to put others before myself, how to serve others with joy, how to treat others with respect, how to have compassion, how to home-school, how to drive a 15-passenger van, how to parent “special needs” children,  how to have a heart for the orphan, how to cry, how to be a mom to our children of various needs, how to be a wife to the man I love, how to be a household manager, how to minister to the hurt and abused, how to be inclusive instead of exclusive, how to speak/understand Spanish for the sake of an orphan, how to be an ESL teacher, how to counsel the older orphan, how to be a nurse, how to be obedient to His call of adopting a child who needs MAJOR open-heart surgery to save her life, how to love the unlovely, how to say I'm sorry, how to say yes, how to say no, how to discern, and, most of all, He has taught me (and continues to teach me) how to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. It is only by His abundant love and amazing grace that this wretch has changed, and while I still have a long way to go, He is faithful and mighty to save.

I am forever grateful and forever blessed.
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