10 Fingers & 10 Toes

via Flickr”]20061126_DHo_baby feet (11)_B&W_ps

Often, in the “Do you want a boy or girl?” conversation, one innocent phrase pops up at the conclusion…

“As long as he or she has 10 fingers and 10 toes, right?”

or a phrase similar to it.  (“As long as it’s healthy, we don’t care what the gender.”)

A few weeks ago, I had such a phrase interjected into one of my conversations.  I smiled politely without thinking twice about the statement; but now I’m not so sure I agree.  Actually, I don’t agree with it all.

You see, I believe that even those people born with disabilities, diseases, abnormalities, and mental handicaps have been shaped and created by God.   I may not understand why God allows these things to exist, but I do know every person, no matter his capabilities or health, has a purpose in life and is cherished just as much as any healthy person.

I pray daily for our child’s health… but if our son or daughter should be born without 10 fingers or toes, or not “perfectly healthy”, my love for him or her will not diminish.


It Seems So Surreal

Josh and I are excited to share with you that, after 10 1/2 yrs of infertility, we are pregnant!  Baby Parks is scheduled to arrive the first week of August 2011!!

Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Child Abuse and Facebook

For the last several days, the following profile picture meme has been going around facebook:

change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood! The goal is to not see a human face on facebook by Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse! Copy & paste this message to your status to invite all your friends to do the same. Lets Stop Child Abuse.

I personally find this “game” banal and ineffective.

The instructions say the goal is “to not see a human face til Monday.”   Wait?  who’s being abused –  cartoon characters or HUMAN children?  When I, and probably most of the people on Facebook, see one of the cartoon characters on someone’s profile, we don’t stop and think “oh poor child who’s getting beaten tonight…I’m thinking of you.”   We’re thinking, “HECK YES!  I LOVED Rainbow Bright as a kid!”


There are those out there who believe in the power of prayer.  If you do, and you changed your picture, I’m curious…have you really prayed for these children?  I hope so…but I doubt that many have.  They’re still thinking about how much they loved the smurfs when they were 8.

The meme instructions also say, “Join in the fight against child abuse” and “Let’s stop child abuse.”  I understand that many people do not have the financial means to donate to charities that are fighting daily for abused and neglected children.  (Even though I have no doubt that most people are spending hundreds of dollars on their own children this Christmas but can’t afford to donate even $20 dollars to children who’s parents have neglected them during this joyful season).  But even if you truly haven’t budgeted to donate to child charities, or perhaps you’ve already donated to other worthwhile causes, just changing a picture does not fight against child abuse.  It’s trite and too simplistic.

A true fight begins with EDUCATING one another on the issue.

Share Statistics. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Child Welfare Information Gateway has a plethora of statistics.  You can search through them HERE.  Perhaps find a few statistics to post in your Facebook status throughout the next week.

Learn the Signs of Abuse. It’s not enough just to know the statistics.  You must be able to recognize symptoms of abuse and know how to intervene on a child’s behalf.  Helpguide.org gives detailed information on understanding child abuse, lists warning signs that point to abuse, and ways you can help save the abused child. You can go directly to this information by clicking HERE.

Once you’ve got down some of the statistics, facts, and intervention techniques, TAKE ACTION!  And you can do more than just donate money.  Prevent Child Abuse America has some great (and effective) suggestions for raising awareness of the issue, such as printing posters for your workplace bulletin board, or writing elected officials asking for more funding.  Check out more financial-free ideas by clicking HERE.

I understand that most people have good and honorable intentions when they participate in the “change your profile pic” game.  …

It’s just not enough.

A Must-See Video

I saw the following video on a blog that I follow (Aspire2) and had to share it.  It’s a must see…and then go hug your children and pray for those who never had a chance to enjoy this life God has blessed us with.

(for some reason, I can’t get it to embed…so to view video click HERE and then press play on the video.)

10 Full Years

Yesterday marked mine & Josh’s 10 year Anniversary!  God has truly blessed me with an incredible man, amazing husband, and the greatest friend that I ever imagined.

We celebrated by gorging ourselves at Pappadeaux (new favorite restaurant) followed by sitting on our back patio, talking, and creating images with the nighttime clouds.  Next weekend we’ll be at a beautiful bed & breakfast in Beaver’s Bend, OK…days full of hiking, kayaking, and trail biking and nights relaxing in the hot tub or dining in Broken Bow.  It’s probably the least extravagant trip we’ve been on in all our 10 years, but I’m so excited to have a weekend to get away and enjoy time together.  Our lives have truly been full of excitement and adventure.

I’m in a nostalgic mood…so over the next week, I’m going to share some of my favorite moments from the past 10 years.  (I was going to do this all in one post, but there’s just way too many moments)!  Today, just one picture… the first day of this wonderful life together!

how to deal

In July, when Josh announced that he was ready to return to Texas for good, I knew that I was in for some emotionally hard times.  I had my dream in my grasp, and then it was suddenly threatened to be taken from me.

This experience was not my first.  It happened once before in 2001.  After attending a missionary training school in the Czech Republic, Josh and I returned home to begin pursuing full-time mission work in Ukraine.  After looking into it a bit more, Josh decided that the timing was not yet right for us to go do full-time work.  I was devastated…so much so that I allowed myself to listen to Satan’s lies about worthlessness and discontentment.  I didn’t have a career or a plan of what I was going to do.  I became bitter and angry towards my husband for taking away my dream.  I felt like a horrible person and hated myself, my marriage, and my situation in life to the point that I became suicidal.

So when Josh mentioned that he wanted to come back home to Texas this summer, after only 4 months in Ukraine, I remembered all that I had gone through 7 years before and knew there was only one thing for me to do if I was going to survive this 2nd heartbreak – run to the throne of God and allow him to carry me through this fire.

As Josh was contemplating the move, I drowned myself in scripture, worship, and prayer.  From those moments with my Lord, I received 2 very distinct and profound words:

1.  Proverbs 14:1 – The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her own hands. This verse has hit me harder than any other verse.  Through it I came to realize that no matter what decision Josh makes (at the time, whether to stay in Ukraine or return to Texas), success will ultimately be on MY shoulders.  If I want my “house” – my marriage, my relationship with God, my ministry – to stay strong and thriving, then it is completely, 100% my responsibility to see that it stays strong.  It is MY actions, MY words, and MY attitudes that will determine the outcome of any situation.  As the head of the household, Josh is to make the decisions that he sees best.  But it is my response to his decisions that make or break my “house”.

I really had two reactions to Josh’s decision to come home:  fight it with all my might to stay in Ukraine, or submit to his decision and return quietly.  Which one would build my house and which would tear it down?  I chose to quietly follow.

2.  No matter what I pray concerning the entire exodus back to Texas, I hear one phrase over and over again, “It’s going to be okay.”

And it has.

Spoiler Alert

It’s safe to say that the majority of people who read this blog enjoy Christian music and speakers.  For myself, Christian music is practically the only music to circulate through my radio.  These musicians become a source of inspiration and encouragement in our daily lives, not only through their songs, but also by their lives.

I know we all remember that “celebrity” musicians and speakers are only human; no greater than ourselves.  God has given us talents and giftings equal to these celebrities; yet we consider them above us because they have devoted their lives in allowing God to use their talents and giftings to a greater degree, reaching millions of people that we could never reach.  We often believe that their lives are righteous, because they sing of complete devotion and sacrifice. To see them devote time to a huge missions explosion, such as Bahamafest, we assume they minister with pure motivations.

Working behind the scenes of Bahamafest and Cruise with a Cause, I have seen a different side to many of these celebrities.  In the last 2 years of my involvement, I know stories that would make you cringe and your heart sink with disappointment.  People who preach servanthood and humility on stage demand superstardom treatment on the sidelines:  transportation only in luxury cars, specific foods and drinks that have to be imported in or monitored to the exact degree, room accommodations that cost more than many people’s one month salary, and outrageous stipends are common mandates – even on “mission” trips.

What happened to the servanthood attitude?  Where did humility go? and love?

If it was my choice, I would to tell them to kiss my fat butt and fly themselves back to their mansions and yachts…we don’t need their music or their sermons to reach the people of this nation.  Let’s find the ones who truly love God and his people, and are willing to give up their name brand waters in order to reach others with the Gospel message.  It’s time to stop playing Christian and start being real, completely devoted to God and his people.

Now, before I start getting all kinds of emails or comments, let me end by saying that not all of the artists and speakers are as I described above.  Many of them participate with truly pure hearts and love.  They are not seeking stature or fame…they only want God to be glorified.  A good example is Sonicflood. Last year, there were some setbacks that resulted in decreased school performance time.  Many artists were furious that weren’t given enough time to play all their music set or to promote their music.  Sonicflood, however, said no problem and just hung out with the kids, joyfully and full of love. We need more artists like them.

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