Saturday, September 17, 2011

Eph. 6:5-9

First, a Review:

Ephesians was written by Paul to the church in Ephesus while he was in prison. It was a cyclical letter that would have been passed around to the churches in the area. Some of the other prison epistles are Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, while 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are known as Pastoral Epistles.
A broad overview of Ephesians would have two sections. The first section would be chapters 1-3 and would consist of the church’s blessings in Christ. The second section would be chapters 4-6. This section is a look at spirit-filled living. Now let us break it apart even more. If you remember these 7 words you can remember the whole book of Ephesians. Chapter 1: Blessings. Chapter 2: “But God” Chapter 3: Mystery. Chapter 4: Unity. Chapter 5: Walk and Chapter 6: Armor.
Chapter 1 begins with a greeting to the believers and then a reminder of all the blessing that they, and we have in Christ. First of all, they were predestined in Him. Second, they were adopted as sons through Him. And lastly, having been saved, they were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit.
In chapter 2, Paul lists the stark differences between the old, former man and the new believer. The chapter begins with the phrase, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” but then in verse 4, my two favorite words in the Bible, “But God” changes all of that. No longer are we dead, He made us “alive with Christ”. No longer are we separated from Christ, now we are in Christ. No longer are we far off, now we have been brought near. No longer are we strangers and aliens, now we are fellow citizens of God’s household.
Chapter 3 reveals to us a key theme in the book of Ephesians. Can anyone remember what that mystery is? Verse 6 explains that the mystery of Christ is “to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” This mystery had been unknown to the Jews, but Paul was now sent to reveal this mystery. Gentiles were fellow believers with the Jews now and this new entity is the church.
When you think about chapter 4, one word should come into your mind: Unity. Paul begins this chapter by stating all the ways we have in common. There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. Therefore, we are called to live in unity, even though, some are apostles, some are prophets, some are evangelists, some are pastors, and some are teachers. He gave these different offices “until we all attain to the unity of the a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Chirst.” (v. 13) Christ is the head, and we are the body, “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part.” (v. 16) Paul gives another picture of the old self being put away and putting on the new self, “that has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (v. 24) For this reason, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit through sin, but we are to be kind to each other and forgive each other.
Paul gives us three commands in the beginning of Chapter 5 that lead into the last chapter as well. We are to walk in love, verse 1. We are to walk in light, v. 8. And finally, we are to walk in wisdom, v. 15. In verse 21, Paul begins a section on submission that takes us to our text that we will be studying today. Paul says to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (v. 21). He then begins to list all the different roles where submission is to have it’s way. He begins by telling wives to be submissive to their husbands. Husbands are then told to love their wives just as Christ loves the church in verses 25-33. Paul begins Chapter 6 with telling children to obey their parents and in verse 4, parents are told to bring the children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Lastly we have come to the last paradigm. In verse 5, Paul begins to instruct slaves how to obey their Masters and in verse 9, where we finish, Paul instructs these Masters to be kind to their slaves, realizing that God is their ultimate Master is in heaven.

Now, on Work:

We will divide this passage into 2 sections. Verses 5-8 are directed at slaves and verse 9 is talking to masters. I want you to tell me what phrase keeps popping up in verses 5-7. Paul wants his hearers to get this message. He wanted the Ephesians to realize that everything they did should be done “as to the Lord.” Even when Paul addresses masters in verse 9, the reason they are to treat those under them with respect is because they also have a heavenly Master. Col. 3:24 actually says that, “it is the Lord Christ whom you serve,” not merely earthly masters. Now to make this more applicable. We are not slaves to anyone, but we do have bosses, and we do have those who are in authority over us. We even have work at home where we need to think about motives and attitudes of work. So, while we study this passage, I want you to put yourself into the text. Our lesson today should make us look at all of our work in a different way. We need to have a biblical work ethic and that is what we will study today.
So, let us begin to take apart verses 5-8. Paul will give the Ephesians six ways to look at work biblically. He gives them six ways to be obedient to their earthly masters. These six ways are: (1) with fear and trembling, (2) with sincerity, (3) as to Christ, (4) without eye-service, (5) not as men-pleasers, and (6) from the heart doing the will of God.
First of all, they were to be obedient with fear and trembling. This is a fear that respects, that honors. They were to realize that there was an authority over them and as such, they were to give that one in authority the honor due them. This fear is out of reverence toward God and not men. Slave owners in that day would rule their slaves with fear, believing it would produce loyalty. The Bible clearly says that the slave was to obey his owner in fear, but the fear was not directed at the owner, but toward God. One commentator says that, “their service to their masters, then, is to be rendered out of reverence and awe for [God].” We see this in other parts of Ephesians and Colossians as well when wives are instructed to respect their husbands. Titus 2:5 says that wives are to obey their husbands “so that the word of God may not be dishonored.” You are to obey your husband to bring glory to God, not dishonor.
Secondly, they were to obey with sincerity. To put it another way, they were to obey with truthfulness, with genuineness, or in all honesty. It could also refer to a wholeheartedness. Maybe this master did not deserve to be obeyed? They were still to obey, not because that master deserved to be obeyed, but because God, the ultimate Master has put that one in authority and so to disobey the one whom God has placed in authority is to disobey God. Romans 13:11 says that “there is no authority except from God.” What if the one in authority asks something that is contrary to Scripture? If you were asked to do something against scripture, you should do what the Bible says, once again, realizing that Christ is the ultimate Master. If you need an example, study Acts 5, in particular verse 29 where Peter says, “we must obey God rather than men.”
This brings us to our next point. The Ephesians were to be obedient to their earthly masters as to Christ. Notice once again how many times this particular phrase is mentioned. We see “as to Christ” in verse 5. We see that we are “slaves of Christ” in verse 6. And lastly, in verse 7, we see “as to the Lord”. Yes, Paul was speaking to slaves who were in bondage. Some of them may have even had unjust owners, but Paul wants to emphasize that they were to do everything as if they were doing it for Christ. Remember to have a God-centered or theocentric mindset. This is how you can have joy even in the midst of trials. As Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him,” even unfair bosses, hardships, and trials that seem to hard to handle.
The next 3 ways that these slaves were to obey their masters are linked to each other. Paul says that they were to be obedient, “not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” First, we will examine the first two. As you can see, they are in the negative. The Ephesians were not to only do well while their masters were there watching them, they were to do well, even when the master was not around. For instance, some people only do good works to be seen, because they want praise or they want something in return. Do you only do good when you will receive something back? Secondly, they were not to be men-pleasers. They were not to simply to try and make their masters happy, but to please their heavenly master, Christ. Do you only try to please men or do you work with a theocentric mindset, to please Christ? The last part of the phrase is our 6th way in which these slaves were to obey their masters. It is stated in the positive. They were to do everything from the heart, knowing that it is the will of God. Ultimately, they were not slaves of their earthly masters, they were slaves of their heavenly master and it is He whom they were to please. It is interesting to note that Paul calls himself a slave a Christ in Galatians 1:10. Also in 1 Corinthians 7:22-23, Paul refers to the slave as Christ’s freedman and the one who is free, as Christ’s slave.
As such, slaves and masters as well need to remember Christ’s present Lordship and future judgement. This could either be encouraging or discouraging in light of verse 8. Somebody please read verse 8 again. In Ephesians, Paul states it in the positive. There will be reward for good done. In Col. Paul states it in the negative, there will be consequences for wrong done. For the slave who does good, “as to the Lord,” there would be real reward, not simply material reward or praise from the master, but eternal, heavenly reward. This is directed at those who were free as well as to those who were not, as stated at the end of verse 8. Remember, live eschatalogically or with a heavenly mindset.
Now that we have studied how slaves were to serve their masters, let us look at verse 9, where Paul addresses the masters in his audience. First we need to notice that Paul says that they were to do the same things to their servants that he told the servants to do for their masters. So, in short they were to treat them with a mutual honor and respect, realizing that they both have the same heavenly master. It is interesting to note the stark difference between what Christ is calling for here and how the world believed the masters were to treat their slaves. Aristotle tells of the relationship between slave and master: “For there is nothing common to the 2 parties; the slave is a living tool and the tool is a lifeless slave.” At this particular time, ⅓ of the population of Greece and Italy were enslaved. But, Paul is teaching that the masters were “fellow slaves” of Christ with their own slaves. So although they have power, they were not to abuse it. They were to give up using threats to get what they want, for this heavenly Master does not show partiality between the master and the slave. Partiality comes from a Hebrew expression that literally meant, “I receive a face”. God would not show partiality based on a face. This also harkens back to where Paul told the slaves not to please by eye-service. Neither slave nor master would be able to expect God to show them partiality, and so they should treat each other with respect.
My husband leads our family Bible study every evening and right now we are going through Philemon. Onesimus had escaped from Philemon and was now in jail with Paul. Paul had led him to the Lord and now that Onesimus was being released from jail, Paul sends him back to Philemon with this letter in hand. Paul calls on Philemon to “have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother in the flesh and in the Lord.” (v. 16) In Christ, they were now beloved brothers, not slave and master. The end of verse 9 also points ahead to a future, heavenly judgement where Christ will either reward or punish.
So, I want you to think about how this might affect you. What is your work ethic? Whatever work you are given, do you do your best? Do you do it as if you were doing it joyfully for Christ? Even the most menial of things, like cleaning around the house or making supper or teaching your children. Do you treat those who have an authority over you, like your boss, or even your husband, with fearful respect and sincerity of heart? Do you always look for earthly reward, or are you keeping your eyes focused on what is ahead in heaven? Do you treat those with whom you have authority over with mutual respect and honor, realizing that your heavenly master is also their heavenly master and He will not show partiality? What is your ultimate allegiance? There is no distinction based on a social status, so how is Christ Lord in your every day life? Let us continue to consider these things.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Ok, so since the Easter Bunny is out shopping for eggs, I thought I should put up an egg post. Is there something wrong with this picture? You just never know what you'll get when you go shopping sometimes!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I love to cook and bake, so I decided to start something new. I live in Russia where cooking and baking are just a little bit more interesting. Well, I think it is interesting. I hope that others think the same thing, but if you don't, you can skip my blogposts.

In America, I didn't cook or bake much. There really isn't much need to do that since there are so many convenience foods. When you don't have to do something, you usually take the easy road, or at least I did. But then the Lord took us to Russia. So began my cooking career.

When I moved to Russia, I didn't know the language. I started learning the Russian words for the different foods. Once I began reading and understanding Russian, I started combing the grocery stores for foods that I wanted to cook. I realized right away that there were many things that I could not find in Russia, but there was still a lot to work with. I began testing different brands and found the brands that I liked the most. What made it difficult was that I might find a brand I liked, but for some odd reason, it didn't act the same. Let me explain. I can most definitely buy flour here, but I cannot make a yellow cake or a pound cake. It turns out dense and wet. I have tried so many different flours and butters and milks, but to no avail! I will keep experimenting and let you know when I have mastered the yellow cake in Russia.

But for now, I will simply tell you what I made the other day and post of picture of the ingredients. Some days I may simply just post something that I find interesting or even post when I find an ingredient that I hadn't found before. It is always exciting to shop and find something new!

We had 2 students over last night and I made lasagna. I also made cupcakes, and yes, they were not even close to being perfect, but they looked pretty, so I think I will post a picture of those as well. Notice, I am using The Pioneer Woman's recipe. You must try it for yourself now!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Fear of the Lord and how that relates to our life before the world

You have been studying the fear of the LORD and now it is time to see whether you are really taking it seriously. Do you really fear the One who created and sustains and will eventually destroy this present world? Or is this present world all that matters to you? If you truly fear the LORD, or if you have a “continual reverence” for God, then you will think and act differently. As a result, you will have a greater witness to a world that does not fear God. This will be our focus. We are going to look at how we are to think and act differently and then we will look at some examples of people who feared the LORD and their witness greatly impacted their world. Today you are going to spend a lot of time looking at your life. You are going to examine your life and it may be uncomfortable. You are going to ask yourself many questions and think about your answers. Many of you may be happy with what you see. But then some of you may look more closely and realize you could be so much more like Christ. But, if you fear the LORD, you will not take this lightly.
First, we are going to look at how we are to think as believers, as those who fear the LORD. While studying for this topic, I spent a great deal of time in Proverbs, esp. the first few chapters.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Let me just repeat that first phrase: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”. Notice, it does not say, the fear of the LORD is the middle or the ending of knowledge. It is the beginning. This is where we start. This is so basic, yet so important! We are to think completely opposite from the world. The world would say that knowledge and truth comes from within. The Word of God says that knowledge only comes from fearing the LORD. So, how do we practically live this out? Well, where do you go first for answers? Psychology, sociology, science, or the latest behavior studies? We are to answer every question with, “What does the Bible say?” In this way we show that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of our knowledge, and not something we just tack on at the end as a “supporting verse”. MacArthur says that “the fear of the LORD is a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God’s.”There is a continual turning from what I think or feel or want, to what God thinks or feels or wants. The Bible is my authority and I gladly exchange my desires for God’s.
Now, we are going to spend a great deal of our time making this practical. If you as a believer and one who fears God think biblically first, then the overflow of this will be right actions. What are some different areas of your life that you need to think biblically about? What are some areas that may differ for a person who fears the LORD and the person who does not fear Him?
We are going to look at quite a few of these. First, how about we look at our outward appearance or what we wear. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious that the world has their own dress. This was also a problem for the nation of Israel. God wanted them to look different. Leviticus 19:19 says they were not to “wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” In and of itself, mixing two types of thread is not sinful, but He wanted them set apart from the other idolatrous Nations that lived around them. Now these rules do not apply to us in the New Testament Era, because the OT law is dead to us. We are under the law of Christ, but we do have some guidelines to live by. For instance, I Timothy 2:9-10 says, “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to Godliness.” In Paul’s day women would wear costly clothes and braided hair with pearls or other jewelry and the main purpose was to get attention. If they are getting the attention, then the Lord is not. How might this apply to you? For me, before I was a Christian, I wanted to wear what every other girl was wearing and at that time, it was very short shorts and shirts that were barely there. Sound familiar? Then, I wanted boys to look at me. Why might this be wrong at a public place? At church? “Modestly and dressing discreetly” carries an idea of humility and even shame. We are to have self-control over our own passions and not desire to lead others (men) into sin. If you are humble enough to obey what the Bible says and dress modestly and you do not desire to draw attention to yourself, then you are showing the world that you fear the LORD and you do not want to be like the world.
Now that we have talked about our physical appearance, let us go a little deeper. What about how we speak? Name some ways that you might show the world that you do not fear the Lord with your speech. (swearing, threatening, complaining, arguing, crude, gossip) Let us look at a few of these. Ephesians 4:29 reads, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” This is really our standard. Our words should only be good, edifying and gracious. The word “unwholesome” refers to something that is rotten or foul, such as spoiled meat or fruit. Look at the phrase, “according to the need of the moment”. What do you think that this might mean? (Our speech must also be instructive and sometimes corrective). Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” I have young children and I am constantly reminding them of this verse. It is one that they have memorized by mere repetition. Now, be honest, have you ever gone through a day without complaining? It is so easy to complain. Another question. How many of you have never, ever argued? But, this verse says to do “everything” without arguing and complaining. We have a high standard. Now, there is one more form of speech that us women never struggle with. What is it? (gossip) But, so we can admonish our husbands. I Timothy 5:13 reads, “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” Paul is saying that younger wives who do not remarry tend to become gossips and busybodies, because they have nothing else to do, for they have no husband or children to take care of and serve. Notice verse 14, Paul says he would rather these women remarry and keep house, why? (give the enemy no occasion for reproach) The world sees what you do and they hear how you speak, and if you are gossiping, then they have a reason for reproaching Christ. If you struggle with any of these areas, pray for God to help you with your speech, so that He would not be insulted because of you. Now, lest you say, I just can’t be perfect in those areas, let me read to you one verse. Luke 6: 45 says, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fill his heart.” It will not be a secret to anyone what kind of a person you are. All you have to do is open your mouth. There are two other verses that show how we are to be different from non-believers. Ephesians 4:17 says that you are to “walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk.” Why is this? The answer is in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Now, we have talked about what you put on your body and what comes out of your mouth, but what about what goes into your stomach. I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Earlier in this passage, Paul is speaking about how you are to follow your conscience and not violate that, but he also speaks about not violating another person’s conscience as well. Verse 32 says that we are to give no offense to our Christian brothers, but also to the rest of the world. Do you think about that when it comes to eating and drinking? Like I said before, nothing in and of itself is sinful, but it can be if you do something to excess. You can even eat too much. That is why I liked being pregnant because I had an excuse to eat too much. And when I had twins, I had 2 excuses. I ate a lot then! I want you to look through your Bible and tell me one verse where gluttony and drunkenness are praised. It can’t be done, but I can show you many where they are condemned. I did a word search and I easily came up with 116 verses that speak of these 2 sins. It is not something we want to imitate. Look at your life. In one of his Resolutions, Jonathan Edwards writes, “Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking (#20). I think this would be a good resolution for all of us as well. I think the best way to gauge whether you are acting like a Christian is to simply ask yourself, “Would this bring Christ glory or dishonor?”
Now, I simply want to put before other areas of your life that may need to change so that others will look at you life and see that you are a God-fearing person. How about the movies you watch or the music you listen to? Do you have a criteria as to what movies might be OK to watch and which ones you should probably skip? What qualities might a movie have that you might want to not attend? (sex, bad language, excessive drinking, dishonoring to God, nudity, homosexuality…) You could think about music in the same way. Again, can you say that watching this movie, or listening to this music brings glory to God and provides a positive witness to Christ:
Now, let us talk about how we spend our time. What verse have we already talked about that could be our standard? (I Cor. 10:31) Another quality that we need not imitate is laziness. Think about not only how you spend your time, but where you spend your time. Now, that you are thinking about how and where you spend your time, you can also think about who you spend your time with. Now, I am not saying that we are to never be with unbelievers. We are not only on this earth to bring God glory, but also to share His offer of salvation to the world and you cannot do that unless you are among them. You might have unbelieving friends, but do you spend all your time with them doing things that they might enjoy? Is there not something wrong with that? Hebrews 10:25 says that we are not to forsake assembling together. You are to spend much of your time with believers because there are things that unbelievers simply will not enjoy doing. Name some of these things. (praising God, singing praise, communion, Bible reading, giving, preaching..)
To review, I want you to evaluate how wisely or unwisely you spend your time. My husband taught on this not too long ago and I just want to read a small portion of his lesson. “The Bible has a lot to say about how we use our time, which is convicting when we think about how much time we waste watching movies, surfing the internet, playing games, etc. Time is important because it is limited and we can never get it back. How proud or how ashamed will you be when your life is over and you think about how you used the time that you had: The Puritans literally grieved over their loss of time. Eph. 5: 15-16 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Advise: sit down to evaluate your weekly schedule. As a note of qualification, I am not saying that we should not ever watch TV, or a movie, or play a game, but everything in moderation. The point is to have eternal perspective. Wear yourself out for the glory of God, using every moment to the fullest for His glory.”
Now, that we have gone through the areas of our lives that either reflect our fear of God or cause the world to conclude that we do not fear Him, I just want us to look at a few examples from the Bible of people who feared God. Exodus 1:15-22 reads,
“Ex. 1:15 ¶ Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah;
Ex. 1:16 and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”
Ex. 1:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.
Ex. 1:18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?”
Ex. 1:19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.”
Ex. 1:20 So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.
Ex. 1:21 Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.
Ex. 1:22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”
Here we have 2 midwives who have been told by Pharaoh to kill babies. Only two are mentioned, but there were most likely many more, since the Hebrew population was so great. But, Shiphrah and Puah feared the Lord, and instead of obeying their earthly King, they choose to obey their heavenly King. Now, was their allegiance hidden from Pharaoh or did he know it? Yes, of course he knew it! They feared God and it was evident to all. So much so, that Pharaoh had to come up with a different plan. He had to enlist the help of everyone else to accomplish his evil plan. And what is the result of the fear of God in these midwives? Verses 20-21 says that not only did the “people multiply, and become numerous,” but also that “God was good to the midwives” and that He “established families for them”. These midwives feared God and greatly impacted their world. In the end, God abundantly blessed them.
Remember how God used Moses to bring his beloved Israel out of Egypt and how God brought them to the Sea and now they are watching Pharaoh and all his army marching straight for them. Many of them chose to fear, but Moses said to the people “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today.” (Ex. 14:13) After the Lord brought them over on dry land and then covered all of the Egyptians with the Sea, we see Israel’s response. Exodus 14: 30-31 reads, “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.” Moses chose to fear the Lord. The midwives chose to fear the Lord. The world does not fear the Lord. This is obvious if you look at Romans 3. This passage begins by saying, and I will summarize, that “none are righteous, there is none who seeks for God, They have become useless, with their tongues they keep deceiving, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” and then in verse 18 it says, “there is no fear of God before their eyes.” These are the actions of the world, but these should not come from us as believers.
There is one last example that I want to put before you. Turn to Proverbs 31. Here we have the Excellent Wife. Let us read a few verses to give us a picture of this woman. Verse 11 says that “the heart of her husband trusts her,” so she must be trustworthy. Verse 12 shows us that she always does good to her husband. We see in verse 13 and 27 as well, that she is not lazy, but she works hard. Verse 15 shows us that she gives food to others, so she must not be a glutton. In verse 16, we see that she spends her money wisely. In verse 26, we see that “she opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness in on her tongue.” We see, then, that she is not a gossip or a liar and her speech is gracious and edifying. Verse 30 says that she is a woman who fears God. Her actions and dress and speech show this for all to see. What is the end result of this? Here we see that “her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.’” Will you be one who will “excel them all”? This should be our prayer.

Our Adventure Upon Returning to Russia

I have been asked to put down in writing our little adventure. We learned so much during this time. I hope that it will encourage many of you and that you will not feel sorry for us but that you will praise God for how He works in our little lives in every situation.
On Thursday, Aug. 26, we, as a family, began our trip back to Russia. Our first flight from Huntsville to Washington is about 2 hours and then we usually leave Washington around 10 at night. That flight is about 8 hours, but there is a little relief in that we stay in Frankfurt in a day room and we usually sleep very soundly for at least 6 hours. The last leg of the trip is only about 4 hours, but we arrive in Samara at about 4 in the morning.
Upon landing, I glanced over at the Samara sign on the airport and let a tear form in my eye because I wasn’t quite ready to be back. The next few hours would change my heart drastically. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly and I almost voiced that to Jonathan when our border patrol lady started taking longer than usual. She mentioned that my Visa didn’t match my Passport. I had renewed it during the Summer because it would expire during the winter. Jonathan remembered that he had brought the old one, and he pulled it out. I was amazed that he had actually brought it. We thought everything would be fine, but she kept asking her authorities questions. They had us sit in a room off to the side, so that they could let every one else through. They brought a translator in so they could tell us plainly what was happening.
All this time, our friends Jon and Natalie Rehurek who had also been on the plane with us were waiting for us to come through. We were able to motion to them that we were having problems. When the translator came she explained that because I had gotten a new Passport, even though my Visa was still valid, my old Passport had been invalidated with the issuance of my new Passport. Thus, I could not come into Russia, since the Visa and Passport didn’t match up. She said that I would be on the next plane out at 9 AM. There was nothing we could do.
I couldn’t tell the children, so I had Jonathan do it. We both still believed that we could work this out before I got on the next plane out. We even told the children that I would at least be back by the next morning. After this, though we were able to talk with the Rehureks and they mentioned that I would not be able to clear this up quickly. It started to sink in that I wouldn’t be going home with my family, so I pulled out a change of clothes that I had in my bag. I then had to hand Miriam off to Natalie and kiss all the boys goodbye.
The police came escorted me back to the waiting gate for the plane. We had to go through a large crowd who were waiting for the next plane and I almost felt like a criminal. All I didn’t have on were my handcuffs! The police told me to wait in the room and they left with all my documents. For 3 hours I simply waited, but when the man who had taken my Passport didn’t come back, I asked someone about what was happening. The word that kept being mentioned was “deported”. The Russian word sounds almost the same as the English.
This whole time I had tried to call Jonathan, but my cell phone wasn’t working so I had no idea if he was able to get anything done so that I didn’t have to get on the plane. Finally, someone came and gave me back my documents and asked if I wanted to go to Frankfurt or on to Washington. I told them Washington and so when the plane boarded, I was on it. This would at least give Jonathan some time to work with the University, so that I might not have to go all the way back to the States, but it also gave me the option of going all the way back to the States, in case I needed to do that. There were so many questions going through my head, but all I could do was pray and trust God that He already had it worked out. Getting back on that plane was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am not very fond of planes and to be away from the rest of my family at the same time, was heart-wrenching. I really couldn’t stop crying, but this verse kept going through my mind: “God orders my steps.” (Proverbs 20:24) I couldn’t believe this was happening! For a moment I was with my family and then the next, I was traveling thousands of miles away from them and it was completely out of my control. But no matter how “up in the air” my plans, or lack thereof felt, I still kept coming back to the fact that God was in control of everything that was happening and not only that, but that He had also planned it. One of the greatest comforts to me during this time was that God is sovereign. He is not only completely sovereign of the big things, but even the little situations we find ourselves in. So, since God is sovereign, He knows what is happening and will happen and since He is in control of everything and I am not, then I needed to be praying for wisdom and comfort as well. I began to pray that God would give me wisdom in every situation and every decision I would have to make. Once I began to pray, I stopped worrying about what was happening or what might happen.
When I got to the airport, I tried to call Jonathan, but of course, I had to buy a calling card first. I called him and he gave me the number of the Russian embassy there in Frankfurt for me to call. I did call, but no one answered. After all, it was Saturday afternoon. I talked with a border patrol for the States and he encouraged me to go on to Washington and take care of things. I realized if I stayed in Frankfurt, I might still have to go all the way back to the States, and I wouldn’t want to have to buy another ticket then. So, crying, I got on the plane to the States. All of the above took place during about 30 minutes. All of these decisions were very difficult to make, but since I had prayed for God’s wisdom, I did not worry or even doubt. I knew that God was helping make the best choice and I simply prayed, made the decision and then went on in confidence that I was in God’s will. When I did get on the plane, I sunk into my seat, determined to trust God and just rest. I enjoyed talking with the lady sitting next to me, not only about my situation, but also about the Gospel. I watched a few movies, rested, cried a little, and prayed.
One way that God used this time was by allowing me time and opportunity to witness. Since I was alone, I was able to talk with many different people and since many of them asked about me and what was going on in my life, I was able to share what was happening and then point directly to Christ and how I was trusting Him not only in this situation, but in every situation in life. I am thankful for this time of undivided attention, so that I could proclaim Christ in a way I hadn’t been able to do for so long.
Upon arriving in Washington, I realized that it would be best to stay for the weekend. It really was a blessing that I flew into Washington. On Monday I could go to the Russian embassy that was not too far away, and hopefully have everything worked out, and from there, fly back to Russia. I was able to get a decently priced hotel that had a shuttle not only to the airport, but also to a shopping center. I would be able to buy some much needed necessities, since I was not able to bring any of those back with me.
That night I made it to Target and I bought a phone, so that I could at least call my Mom and the shuttle and not have to find a Pay Phone. You never realize how important and helpful little things like a phone are, until you don’t have them (and also how scant Pay Phones are these days, but I won’t go into that).
The next day was Sunday, and since I had to wait til Monday to go to the Embassy, I planned on visiting Washington, D.C. for the day. I had never been to Washington, and so I had a wonderful day! At one point, I was walking through the Smithsonian Garden and thought about how, when we had flown through Washington on the way to Russia, I had mentioned to Jonathan that I would love to visit D.C., but realized it would have to be when the boys were bigger. I just paused and smiled to myself. I could almost hear God laughing with me. Here I was, right where I had wanted to be, though I would have never asked for these circumstances. Just the same, God had given me a gift and I really did enjoy that time.
Monday came and after some lengthy transit time, I was told by the Russian Embassy that I would have to go through the whole process again. Moments later, I called Jonathan in tears, but he said that he would start the process again with the University. I would have to receive a Letter of Invitation from the University and have it sent to the Embassy in Washington. There they would make me a new Visa. This was going to take a week, at least. I decided to go stay with my parents in Atlanta.
While in Atlanta, we realized that I was going to be there for a few weeks. I have to say that I had a wonderful time with my family. We joked with Mom about my being there and her prayer life. We kidded her that she had very effective prayers, since she prayed to God to let her spend a little more time with her children, and it happened. I enjoyed great time with my parents, my sisters and brothers and niece and even got to meet my sister in law in Savannah. My time in Savannah was another one of those thoughts I had had earlier in the summer. I had told Jonathan that I would love to able to travel to Savannah and meet my sister in law and spend some time there, since I grew up in that area. This also was yet another gift from God.
I really enjoyed being “home” again, but there was a tugging at my heart. I missed my family in Russia. I missed my family so much. I thought about the “what if’s,” like, “What if I never see them again or never have any influence over their lives again?” One blessing that we enjoyed was video chats on Skype. We were all able to see each other and talk every day. I missed them, but I also started missing Russia. I have struggled for two years to try and be content where God has placed me. I tried in vain to be content until this summer. It became obvious to me that wherever my family was, that was my home. This time away from my family and Russia changed everything for me. The other missionaries have told their stories about when Russia became their home and I would say to myself, “that will never happen to me.” But, now I have my own story. This adventure changed my heart. I started to miss Russia. I couldn’t wait to get back!
On Aug. 20th, I started my journey back and arrived at 4:30 in the morning on the 22nd. Jonathan was there waiting with a dozen roses and a huge smile. It felt so good to be back together again. I was definitely not made to be single. I am always the most myself when I am with Jonathan. We arrived at the apartment and it was so early the children were still sleeping. We couldn’t wait, so Jonathan woke them all up and I held them all again. We were together again. Almost every prayer since then has contained the phrase, “Thank You God that we are all together again” or “Thank You that Mommy is back.” Life is pretty normal again. We have school in the morning, and try to make it outside in the afternoon. Jonathan is gone during the week, but we spend the whole weekend together. I am very thankful that God has taught me how to be content with where He has placed us.
Let me not forget to mention that I have the most wonderful husband anyone could ever have. He took care of the children, even through jetlag, for almost a month while I was away. Jonathan never once complained. He told me at the beginning that he didn’t know how I did it, and that he had a better appreciation for me. I told him that what he was doing was much harder than what I ever did. He was doing everything that I did on top of everything that he was supposed to do. He started teaching his class the week after he arrived back in Samara. He did have some help and we are very thankful for all of those who helped us out so much. So, I am very thankful for a wonderfully, loving and gifted husband. And I am very thankful to be back together again ministering together where God has placed us both.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It has been a long time since my last post, but I wanted to post my lesson on Submission as some of you have asked for it. I hope that it is as much a help for you as it has been for me to study it. Enjoy.

When I was asked to teach, I was given a list of topics to choose from. The reason I chose Submission is because it is something that I most needed to work on and learn about. Submission is quite possibly the most unpopular subject to teach, mostly because it is the most misunderstood as well as the hardest to practice. I grew up thinking of submission in a very negative sense, even though my mother was a very Godly example of the way a woman should submit to her husband. Submission, to me seemed outdated, meant for a time when women were mistreated and thought of as someone “lesser than” a man. In my mind, America, where I grew up, was far ahead of those cultures that considered women to be unequal to men, and so, since they were equal, there was no need for submission. I have been married now for 10 years and have had ample time to study submission as well as practice it. I do not come before you to say that it is easy for me to submit, but having studied it more, I am able to say that I now look at submission as something attractive, instead of negative, and I do believe that it is something for women today because it is God’s design for us.
Today we are going to look at submission in God’s very essence - the Trinity, as God ordained it through creation and as the Apostles taught it in the New Testament. To begin, let us define submission. The greek word for submit is “hupotasso”, and according to a Greek-English Lexicon means “voluntary yielding itself in love.” Mary Somerville, in her book “One with a Shepherd,” defines submission as a military term meaning “for the wife to arrange her priorities under those of her husband”. John Piper defines submission as “a disposition to yield to the husband’s authority and an inclination to follow his leadership.” According to Wayne Grudem, it is “an inner quality of gentleness that affirms the leadership of the husband”. One last definition, and this is my favorite rendition. In Carolyn Mahaney’s book “Feminine Appeal,” she says that “submission, in its simplest form, is trust in God, who is completely trustworthy. He is our loving Father who controls every detail of our lives-past present, and future. He lavishes us with goodness and blessing, and He measures our pain and diversity-all for our good and His glory.” This definition speaks about how we are to submit to God. We will learn later that we are to submit to our husbands in the same way.
Let us begin by looking at God in His very essence-the Trinity. Many of us were taught from our earliest years about the Trinity. We teach our children as well. If you asked our boys about God, they would reply that we have one God and God is three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Now if we study it further we know that each person of the Godhead is equal, but that they each have a different role. If we look at the incarnation, we see God the Father is in the leadership position. We read in Phil. 2:5-8 that God the Son, even though He was God, still submitted Himself to God the Father and became man. So, does submission mean that we are less important or inferior on unequal? No, we have different roles, as did Christ. He was obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. In Gen. we read that God created both man and woman in His image. We were equally created in God’s image. Just as Christ submitted Himself, even though the Son is equal in essence to God the Father, we too, are called to submit to our husbands.
Now, since we have already looked at submission within the Trinity, now let us go to the beginning at creation, where God not only created everything, but He also gave everything a purpose. Can somebody please read Gen. 1:26-28?
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
This is the sixth day of creation. In Genesis, chapter 2, Moses (the author of Genesis), goes into more detail about the creation of mankind. Somebody please read Gen. 2:15-18.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; “I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
The next few verses tell us that Adam began to name all the animals, and God did this to show him that he was alone and needed a companion. So God put Adam to sleep and you all remember how God used Adam’s rib to fashion the woman and when he awoke, think of his delight to see the most beautiful creation in the whole world before him! He sees her, calls her woman and later he will even name her Eve. Let us take notice of the woman’s purpose in verse 18. She is to be Adam’s “helper” and not visa versa. So we see from the very beginning of creation, God ordained woman to be man’s helper. This was before Adam and Eve sinned as well, so submission is not a result of the curse. God gave woman a purpose and at the end of the day, God looked over all of his creation and creation order and said that is was “very good”.
Now we come to Genesis 3, where Satan enters the garden as a snake and tempts Eve. Can someone please read Gen. 3:6-7?
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
Here Eve chooses to lead and Adam chooses to submit. They both sin and God addresses their attempt to reverse their roles in their curse.
Somebody please read Gen. 3:16-17.
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying “You shall not eat from it; Cursed is the ground because of you In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.”
First, take notice of Adam’s curse at the end of verse 17. God curses Adam for “listening to the voice of your wife.” Adam was supposed to protect and lead Eve, but instead he chose to allow her to lead and he put her in grave danger by not obeying. Secondly, for Eve’s curse, go back up to verse 16. God says that Eve will have great pain in childbirth, which I and many of you can attest to. The end of the verse says that her “desire” would be for her husband. To get a better understanding of the word “desire”, let us look at Genesis 4: 5-7. It reads,
“But for Cain and for his offering He (God) had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it”.
As we see in verse 7, sin’s “desire” was for Cain, but he needed to rule over it. The same word for “desire” is used in both passages. As sin desired to rule over Cain, so also Eve’s desire would be to want to control Adam. This is our curse. We often find ourselves wanting to rule over our husbands as well, but we are plainly instructed, as we shall see in more scripture, to submit. One last thing, go back to Gen. 3:16. The end of the verse says that man would rule over Eve. This is also part of the curse, but this is ruling in a negative sense. This is a domineering, overbearing, harmful, unjust rule. In Ephesians, we see that this is not how a husband is to lead his wife. Eph. 5:25-33 speaks about how the husband is to love his wife, even as his own flesh. He is to nourish and cherish his wife, just as he would his own body. He is to love his wife, just as Christ loves the church. This is Godly leadership.
So, we have seen how submission is exemplified in the very nature of the Trinity, how God ordained it from the beginning of creation, and lastly we will study it through the teaching of the Apostles. We will fist look at the teaching of Peter. Please turn to I Peter 3:1-6 and somebody please read it.
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
If we look back at Chapter 2 of I Peter, he speaks about submission to authorities in our lives. Now here in Chapter 3 he begins to talk about the submission of wives to husbands. We see from the start that this submission is qualified. The wife is to submit to her “own” husband Further in verse 7, Peter points out that even if some husbands were unbelievers, they might become believers simply by observing the wife’s behavior.

And what should her behavior look like. 4 qualities: She is to be chaste, respectful, having inward beauty, and to have a gentle and quiet spirit. First of all, she is to be chaste. Her life is to be pure. Secondly, she is to be respectful. She is to have reverence or honor for God, as well as her husband. Thirdly, her beauty is to be inward. Verse 3 says that women are not only to concentrate on her outward appearance. Notice Peter never says that she is not to take care of her outward appearance, he says that she is simply not supposed to be preoccupied with what is passing away, and changing, as many of us know all too well. She is to be more concerned with the inward, hidden part of her life, her true personality, or that which is eternal. This leads us to the fourth behavior of a Godly woman-a gentle and quiet spirit. Another way to describe her is meek or humble. These words mean “not insistent one’s own right” or “not demanding one’s own way” or even “not pushy”. This would make her very attractive not only to her husband, but Peter also confirms that a gentle and quiet spirit is “precious in the sight of God.” Grudem asks the question why is this precious in God’s sight? His answer is that “no doubt because such a spirit is the result of quiet and continual trust in God to supply one’s needs, and God delights in being trusted.”
Peter then gives us Sarah’s example of submission. There are 3 things we need to take notice of in her submission. First, Sarah’s hope was in God. She knew that God loved and cared for her and if He called her to submit, she knew that He would bless her obedience. Secondly, Sarah obeyed Abraham even to the point of calling him lord or master. I am reminded of the fact that Spurgeon’s wife, Susannah, called him “Tirshatha” (a title used of the Judean governor under the Persian Empire) meaning “Your Excellency”. Just another example of a Godly woman who reverenced her husband. Lastly, Sarah submitted to Abraham without fear. God is sovereign. Again, I love the definition of submission from Carolyn Mahaney in her book, “One with a Shepherd”. Let me read it one more time. Submission, in its simplest form, is trust in God, who is completely trustworthy. He is our loving Father who controls every detail of our lives-past, present, and future. He lavishes us with goodness and blessing, and He measures our pain and diversity-all for our good and His glory.” Grudem puts it this way: “A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit who continues hoping in God will not be terrified by circumstances or by an unbelieving or disobedient husband.” If we can submit to God, then we can also submit to our husbands because of who God is. A few questions: Do you reverence your husband? Do you trust God enough to always submit to your husband without fear?
Now that we have looked at Peter’s teaching on submission, now we will look at Paul’s. Peter taught us what our behavior is to be like, Paul is going to teach us the extent of our submission. But, before we continue, we need to look at two other passages penned by Paul that give us background into why we are even to submit at all. First of all, we will look at Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Somebody please read Col. 3:18.
Wives, be subject to your husband, as is fitting in the Lord.
If we are under the Lordship of Christ, or in other words, if we are Christians, then we will willingly submit. As George W. Knight III writes, “The apostle thus asserts that such submission is proper for Christian wives because it is what our Lord expects.”
So, we are to submit, because God purposed it to be so.
Now let us turn to Paul’s letter to Titus, where we are given even yet another exhortation to submit. Somebody please read Titus 2:3-5.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Please take notice of the very last phrase. We are to submit to our husband, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Any number of us could give countless examples of people who say that they are a Christian, but they do not live like one. This is exactly what James spoke about it James 1:22. There he exhorts us to “prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Not only do they delude or fool themselves, but all the people who watch how they live their lives. These people then curse Christianity and Christians because they see no difference in a Christian and someone who doesn’t claim to be a Christian. This is dishonoring to the Word of God. If we say are Christians and then we do not submit to our husbands, we bring dishonor to our God. When we submit to our husbands, we bring honor to God.
Now, since we are believing woman who want to follow what God deems best for us and we do not want to bring dishonor to our God, let us look to the extent of our submission. Let us turn to Eph. 5:22-24. Somebody please read this passage.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
So, how far are we to submit to our husbands, or to put it another way, to what extent: as to the Lord and in everything. First let us examine how a wife would submit to her husband as to the Lord. Let me ask you a question. Are we, as Christian women allowed to pick and choose when and whether we will obey and submit to Christ? Or better yet, do you, if you have children allow them to pick and choose when or whether they have to obey you? Certainly not! Our children are called to always obey us, and you are called to always obey your husband, unless what your husband asks you to do is sin. We can also look at it from another angle. When you obey or submit to your husband, you are obeying and submitting to Christ for He is the One who commanded you to do so. The next verse even says that the husband is the head of the wife, or that the husband has authority over his wife.
So first, a Christian wife is to submit to her husband as she submits to her Lord, and secondly, she is to submit to him in everything. There is not much to be said here; it is quite clear. Unless your husband is asking you to sin, you should submit to him in everything. Now, truthfully, this is not easy, but if God commands this of you, and He does everything for your good and His glory, then whey would you not want what is best for you and most glorious for Him.
In closing, let us review. God’s very essence, the Trinity is an example for us of willing submission, in that Christ willingly submitted to God the Father and became flesh for us. God also ordained submission at the very beginning with the creation of male and female and their different roles. The Apostles also teach us more about what a wife’s submission is to look like. Peter teaches about a wife’s behavior: she is to be chaste, respectful, having inward beauty, and she is to have a gentle and quiet Spirit. We have many Godly examples in the Old and New Testaments, but Peter chose to show us the example of Sarah, who without fear obeyed Abraham, even to the point of calling him lord. Last of all, we learned that we are to submit to our husbands as to the Lord and in everything and if we do, we will not dishonor God and His Word.
If I may, I would like you to look back at Genesis 1:31. After God created male and female in His image, and had given Eve a purpose, to be Adam’s helper, and this being the sixth day, God spoke about his creation and this is what Genesis says: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was VERY good!” Will we always buck and complain or will we simply obey and believe that submission to our husbands really is what is best for us and most glorifying to God? I pray the latter!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Decade in Review

I have been reading what others have written about the last decade and thought that it might be fun to reminisce what has transpired. Wow! Where to begin! Well, I have to start one year earlier. Aug. 14th, 1999 was the day that I married the man that I desired to spend the rest of my life with. We were married in Huntsville, Alabama and it was the best day of my life! I was a Jr. at The Master's College and Jonathan was working on his MDiv at The Master's Seminary. We lived on Walnut Street in Santa Clarita, CA, or better known as Seminary Row.

Spring 2001, we spent a Semester in Israel with the Israel Bible Extension. Not long after, our first little boy, Nahum James was born (Jan. 9, 2002). That summer we moved to Dallas, TX where Jonathan began work on his PhD, since he had finished his MDiv and ThM at Master's. We lived at Swiss Tower, Seminary housing, and made so many wonderful friends and had so many wonderful opportunities. On November 11th, 2003, our second little boy, Isaac John was born. Almost a year later we found out that we were having identical twins and on Jan. 20th, 2006, Jesse Ray and Jonas David were born 5 weeks early, but each weighing in at almost 7 pounds! Life was very busy and very fulfilling.

The end was in sight for Jonathan's doctorate and we began looking into what ministry we would go into. After much prayer, we realized God was leading us to Russia and so, we started making plans to move there. About this time, we were very much surprised to find out that we would be having a baby girl in December of 2007. With only a dissertation to finish, we moved to Huntsville, Alabama, to be near family and have our baby girl. She was due the day after Christmas, but she decided to wait. We were induced on Dec. 28th, and Miriam Katherine was born, nothing short of a miracle, due to serious complications. In September of that next year, we left for our new home in Samara, Russia, where we have been living for the past year.

Those are the main points at least. So much more happened, but that would take years to dictate. What an eventful decade! I can't think of any other decade with so many life-changing decisions and events. Looking back, you certainly come to the realization that we are so blessed by God! So blessed! So blessed!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17