Friday, April 22, 2011

good friday 2011

my father,
enlarge my heart, warm my affections, open my lips.
      supply the words that proclaim 'love lustures at calvary'.
there grace removes my burdens and heaps them on thy Son,
     made a transgressor, a curse, a sin for me;
there the sword of thy justice smote the man, thy fellow;
there thy infinite attributs were magnified,
     and infinite atonement was made;
there infinite punishment was due,
     and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that i might be all joy,
     cast off that i might be brought in,
     cast down as an enemy that i might be welcomed as a friend,
     surrendered to hell's worst that i might attain heaven's best,
     stripped that i might be clothed,
     wounded that i might be healed,
     athirst that i might drink,
     tormented that i might be comforted,
     made a shame that i might inherit glory,
     entered darkness that i might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
    groaned that i might have endless song,
    endured all pain that i might have unfading health,
     bore a thorned crown that i might have a glory-diadem,
     bowed his head that i might uplift mine,
     experienced reproach that i might receive welcome,
     closed his eyes in death that i might gaze on unclouded brightness,
     expired that i might live forever.

O that my every breath would be estatic praise,
     my every step boyant with delight, as i see
            my enemies crushed,
            Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,
            sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,
            hell's gates closed, heaven's portal opened.

go forth, o conquering God, and show me the cross,
     mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

-take from the valley of vision puritan prayer book, p. 42-43

Sunday, April 17, 2011


the pastor of my church in ohio once made a comment in passing that has stuck deeply with me ever since.  he said that the normal american thinks that life should be generally easy with periods of hardship every once in a while.  however, the bible makes it clear that life on this sin-infested earth for the believer will be consistently difficult, but in the midst of that God promises periods of rest from time to time (and ultimately when he remakes the earth, there will be eternal rest for his followers).

i am on the precipice to the end of one of those periods of rest, with mixed emotions.  for the past two weeks, the kids have been gone (part of the time in respite care, and then with their birth mom), but they come back today (possibly even before i finish this post!).

for the past few days i have been slightly dreading, slightly anticipating this moment.  selfishly, i long for more days of a free schedule, getting ready for work with no one else to get ready, coming home from work to a clean house with no noise and no one to take care of, leisurely evenings spending time with alex, sleeping in on the weekends.

today that will change, and we will jump back in to the madness.  but, "this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us a weight of glory beyond all comparison"  (2 corinthians 4:17). we will jump back into the way that God has called us specifically to care for "orphans... in their affliction" (james 1:27).

as hard as it is at times to keep up with the kids, i LOVE that we get to point them to jesus in a way that they would otherwise not get.  today i spent some time planning for this week leading up to easter, and how i can teach the kids how easter is about jesus and his resurrection and not bunnies and eggs.  if they were living with their birth mom  and not us, they would likely have zero input about the true celebration of easter (what is there to celebrate about bunnies and candy?  but there is MUCH to celebrate about freedom from sin and loosening the chains of our bondage to death.  praise Him!!)

this week in our community group we discussed in depth one of the more famous verses in the bible "and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (romans 8:28), and discussed how certainly the bad things but even the mundane things in life are being worked out by God for His glory and the believer's ultimate good.  i find this comforting.  sometimes it is easy for me to wonder why i spend hours a day changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking and running around after kiddos.  i am a college educated woman, and i used to have an "important" ministry of daily sharing my faith and discipling younger believers.  and now i spend my days doing this??  but i know that God is using this, and that he will use all time time i spend doing mundane things, when i could be doing really "spiritual" things for my good and his glory.

the next month or so (until the kids go back with their mom) will be hard.  as much as i try to take it at a marathon pace, it will more likely be like a month long sprint.  after that God will likely provide another season of rest, but then the craziness will begin again once we (Lord willing) have an infant in the house.

but i don't live so that life right now will be easy.  i "look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 corinthians 4:18).  i want to work as hard as i can on this earth, and endure the difficulties, that God may be glorified.  i will enjoy the brief periods of rest he brings, as i look forward to the eternal rest that He promises.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

march at our home

wow, the past month has been crazy, but in the midst of it, God has been crazy gracious and kind to us.

where to start?  first i will update on what is going on with the kids.  after asking for them to be moved to a different home (due to my pregnancy and inability to keep up with them; we got the van issue resolved), they were supposed to be moved in mid-february.  from mid february to early march they kept telling us that there were no homes available but that they were looking.  at the beginning of march, they told us that they are going to try to expedite the reunification process and that the kids will most likely go back with their mom in early may.  after praying and thinking about it, we decided to agree to keep them until may, because it would be best if they just have one stable home between being taken from their parents and going back to them.

however, since then it is really beginning to look like the social workers are just telling us what we want to hear so that they dont have to deal with the headache of moving the kids to a new home.  the kids were supposed to start overnight visits with their mom more than a month ago, and now they wont be starting for another 2 weeks at least.  we are pretty sure that no judge in his right mind will put the kids back with their mom after just one month of one over night visit per week.  but in the midst of this, we know that God has a purpose for keeping them here longer and we want to be faithful to loving and serving them and teaching them about jesus while they are with us.

over the past two weeks, lovely girl and i have bonded in a big way.  i dont know exactly what happened but we have just grown much tighter.  i love the way that any time i get near her she clings on to my shins for dear life, or the silly, giggly faces she makes all of the time.  her walking has exploded, and she went from taking a few steps here and there to walking all over the house all of the time.

this month middle brother had a birthday, which means that we no longer have two two-year-olds in the house (that was the case for about a month and a half)!  now we are at an even 1, 2, 3 and 4 years old for the ages of our kids.

we have requested a week and a half of respite care, so tomorrow night i will be driving them to the homes they will be staying, and we will pick them up next friday.  we have really needed a break for a while, and this is much needed.  we plan to take an overnight trip to san diego next weekend (it will be our first outing alone since getting the kids last july!).  in addition to relaxing, i will need to spend a big chunk of time figuring out our taxes (which will be really complicated this year due to the fact that alex started his business in november, and we haven't kept good financial records, shhh dont tell the irs) and getting a couple major things done around the house.

please pray for us, that we would be really refreshed with this time off and connect with one another and with God.  please pray also that this would spur us on to finish our last month with them well, and that this time away would not cause us to take steps back in our relationships with them and influence on them.

our day to day life has also changed in a big way in the past month.  at the beginning of march, i started up again at my job (i had told them that i could start again, thinking that the kids would be moved before march!).  i am just working about 5 hours a day and the kid that i work with has pretty easy behaviors to deal with (this was literally an answer to prayer, praise God).  this has been both hard and good.  its hard to have to wake up and get ready and get out of the house at a certain time each day (while helping to get the kids ready as well).  it is hard to be away from the house each morning since so much of my responsibility lies here.  its hard to not be the main influence in the lives of my children any more (though we are very fortunate to have it work out that my mom is watching them while i am at work).  on the other hand, i see God's grace in it a lot.  the kid i work with is usually pretty good, so my mornings with him are not too stressful.  even better, he usually comes about a half hour after i start and leaves about a half an hour before i finish, so i get paid for about an hour each day that i am doing nothing!  when i come home, i usually feel pretty refreshed (minus my normal pregnancy tiredness), and ready to jump into taking care of the kids and keeping up with household duties.

another change is that alex isn't around nearly as much any more.  this is because he started a second job about the same time that i started working again.  he is really enjoying his job so far and is doing really well at it.  an added bonus is that many of his coworkers are christians.  he has to wake up at about 5am to get there and has a fairly long commute each way, but he doesn't complain at all.  in fact we both feel that this really is God's grace to us in many ways; not only financially, but also in giving alex more structure to his day.

my pregnancy continues to go well, by God's grace.  i am feeling less tired these days (though still more tired than my un-pregnant self) and much less nauseated.  i have had fewer food aversions, which is also nice (especially since i am responsible for feeding 7 people 3 meals a day!).  i am starting to show a little bit, which is fun. alex is especially excited for when i am showing even more and we go out places with the kids.  the judgmental stares will be just great. (i have already gotten the comment, when people see the 3 boys and then lovely girl, "oh now you can finally stop")

that was march at our home!  never a dull moment here with the costas :)