Looking Forward to a Glorious Unfolding

I heard a song on the radio the other day that really resonated with me. The song is “Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Here are some of the lyrics:

“Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be”

The song is right! This past year has not been anything like what I thought the story of my life was gonna be! =)

{BUT} there’s good news! Here are some more lyrics:

“There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding”

Drew and I are already seeing God’s GLORIOUS plan unfolding in our lives. This past year has been hard on us but {HIS} plan is always so much better than ours. Aren’t you glad He’s given us this promise:

Are you in a place right now where you are wondering what in the world God is doing and life is just not turning out anything like what you had thought or planned? It’s so easy to get discourage and lose hope in the midst of trials. 
I know the feeling! But I’m encouraged by the reminder that I can trust my life into the hands of the Lord, the one who knows the past, present, and future and will work all things together for His glory. 
“God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace”

We have some exciting things happening in our lives right now and we know that God has plans for us better than we could ever imagine. His ways are higher than our ways!
Please take some time to listen to the whole song below. The lyrics are worth your time!

“So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning
Of this glorious unfolding”
Advertisements

The World’s Toughest Job

This about sums it up…

Happy Mother’s Day to the best mother I could ever ask for! My mom is a wonderful example to me of a wife who respects her husband, a mom who raised her kids well, a Meema who loves her grandchildren, and a woman who seeks the Lord. I hope that when I grow up I can be just like her. =)

She truly does the toughest job in the world, and does it well!!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!!

Meema and Isaiah
Meema and Eloise
Meema and Olive


Should Christians be Happy ALL the Time?

Isaiah and Eloise love listening (and dancing) to music. We have a couple of kids praise and worship CD’s and they both know how to pop them into the computer and get their music to play.

The other day their CD was playing and a very old and familiar children’s song came on, “Happy All The Time.” You would probably recognize the song if you heard it. The lyrics are basically a repetition of these lines:

I’m in right, outright, upright, downright
Happy all the time 
I’m in right, outright, upright, downright
Happy all the time
Since Jesus Christ came in
And took away my sin
I’m in right, outright, upright, downright
Happy all the time
 
At first I wasn’t really paying attention to the lyrics, but the song is super catchy and I found myself singing it long after it was done playing. And as I sang it, the lyrics starting bothering me more and more. 
 
Here’s why: As the song above suggests, there are many, many Christians who believe that we’re supposed to be happy {all} of the time. And there are even some who believe that if we’re not, we’re sinning; that we’re doing the wrong thing by allowing ourselves to feel sorrow or pain. 
 
Shouldn’t Christians be smiling, happy people all of the time? I mean, we are followers of the one who suffered to the point of death and then was raised from the dead. We have so much to be happy about: there is a God, life after death, justice, renewal, peace…. Why would we ever be sad?
 
But here’s where some Christians get confused. There is a difference between {happiness} and {joy}. The Greek work for happiness is Makarios and it refers to freedom from normal cares and worries. It is used to describe a person who is experiencing good fortune: money, health, children, etc. And it’s also how we use the word in English. When things are going well for us, when our outward situations are good, we have money in the checking account, no death, and no illness, we feel {happy}. Life is good.
 
The Greek word for rejoice or joy is Chairo and means to experience or delight in God’s grace. It is described by the ancient Greeks as the “culmination of being” and the “good mood of the soul.” It is something that is found only in God and comes with virtue and wisdom. The ancient Greeks described the opposite of Chairo not as sadness, but as fear.
 
The Bible does not describe Jesus as always happy. In fact, Jesus was NOT far removed from sorrow and suffering. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was “despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” Jesus knew sorrow and yet we count no one more faithful to God than him. Isn’t there room for us to experience sorrow as well?
 
Nowhere in the Bible do we have a direct command to be happy all the time. What we do have in the Bible, however, is the command to have JOY.
 
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4: 4-7
 
“But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13
 
 
{Happiness} is that great feeling that you have when everything is going smoothly. {Joy} is what God gives you in the midst of trouble. Both happiness and joy have no fear – happiness because nothing is wrong, and joy because we have become willing to trust God that our suffering is serving a purpose for our greater good (Romans 8:28).
We have happiness BECAUSE of our situation, we have joy IN SPITE OF our situation.
When Paul says in Philippians that we should rejoice, he is acknowledging that Christians {will} have problems. No matter how much faith we’ve got. Some people will get diseases no matter how many people pray for healing. Some people will die way before their time. Others will battle financial difficulties, infidelity, depression, infertility, abuse, and unspeakable heartache. And in the midst of it all we are told not to be happy, but to REJOICE. To believe that God has everything under control and is working out everything for HIS glory and OUR good.
We don’t need to pretend to be happy all of the time. All of our feelings are a part of a life of faith. Just as the book of Psalms would not be complete without the Psalms of lament, so too would our lives not be complete without our laments, sorrows, and tears as part of our story of faith.
What things are keeping you from joy today? What are you anxious about and trying to control? 
These last several months have been some of the most difficult ones Drew and I have ever experienced. As you may recall from this post, we have had a very draining year physically, financially, and spiritually. We are still living in limbo as Drew is studying for a second test he has to take before being fully hired on with Edward Jones, we have to move out of our current house in May and don’t yet know where we will go, and finances are tight. Recently we’ve had a death on Drew’s side of the family. My little sister is currently facing a debilitating illness that doctors have yet to diagnose, and, as she’s currently living in Uganda with my family and cannot get stabilized enough to fly, we don’t yet know how she will get back to the U.S. to get the medical treatment she needs. (You can read more about Janae’s condition here). These are sad and scary things that are weighing heavy on my heart.
Yet the great power of faith, TRUE JOY, is in knowing that even when we’re not happy, even when we’re sorrowful, even when our eyes are founts of tears and our hearts are filled with pain, God is with us. He is the only one who can give us joy in the midst of any and all circumstances, even when we don’t feel happy.

The Blessing of $90.25

It’s easy to overlook little blessings in our lives when things are going great and running smoothly. Ironically, one of the {benefits} of going through trials is that you are often able to more easily see God’s hand at work in even the smallest of circumstances!

No matter what season of life we’re in, I think it’s really important to make sure that we remember to not only see how God has blessed us, but to also share it with others. God is so {AWESOME} and deserves to be praised publicly!

So today I want to share a little story with you of God’s blessing in our lives this past week.

Last Tuesday when I got home from Bible study and was taking off my coat, I could feel some coins somewhere in a pocket on the left side. I spent several minutes trying to figure out how to get to them but I couldn’t figure out which pocket they were in. Drew came over and started helping me and we found a tiny little hidden zipper inside my coat. He opened it up and pulled out the coins… and then a $20 bill… and then a $10… and then a $5… and then a $50!!… and then several more dollars! That day we found a total of $90.25 in my coat!

We have no idea where that money came from. Our best guess is that it has been in my coat since the winter before we left for Uganda… over two years ago! The funny thing is that I have been wearing that coat for three months already this winter and never once noticed the coins until that day.

$90.25 might not seem like a lot to you, but it’s a lot to us right now! Financial struggles are hard and I can honestly say that I am ready to be {done} with this particular trial in our lives right now. But in one sense, there is something so sweet about going through a trial like this and seeing the amazing ways that God provides. If things weren’t so tight right now, finding $90.25 wouldn’t seem like such a big deal! But these last few months my eyes have really been opened to the many ways the Lord is providing for and blessing us…. ways that I have overlooked and not appreciated in the past.

I can list off several times over these last couple of months when we could have desperately used an extra $90…. and all this time I was carrying it around in my coat pocket! And yet, God chose to give us this extra money NOW, right when HE knows we need it, not when WE thought we needed it.

So today I just want to give a shout out to the Lord! He provides at just the right time and in just the ways we need. He is faithful and today I am praising Him for the gift of a little bit of extra money. =)

How has God blessed you in these past few weeks? Has He shown up in a big or even a {seemingly} little way and reminded you that He is {real} and He {cares}? I’d love it if you would share what God has done so that I can praise Him together with you! No thing is too big or too small to give glory to God for! =)


“Don’t stay in the dark and count your woes. Step into the light and count your blessings!”
Sandra Kring

Are Children a Blessing or a Burden?

Some days are better than others in our household.

There are days when my children are amazingly obedient, kind, respectful, and pleasant to be around! Those are the days when I think I’ve got this mothering thing down and start thinking about baby number 4 already (not really… I’m not that crazy)! And then there are days when my children throw all manners out the window and seriously act like they have been raised by cave men… clawing at each other, beating each other over the head with sticks, and speaking in loud screeching sounds that don’t even remotely sound like English.

Then there are the days that I am an especially great mother… kind, respectful, and pleasant to be around. And…. there are also the days when I beat myself over the head with a stick and make strange screeching sounds into my pillow at night while I contemplate how I can convince Drew to become a stay at home dad so I can escape the madness! (I’m just kidding, by the way!) =)

But in all seriousness, not every day around here is a perfect day (although most are really pretty good!). But at the end of each and every day, no matter how the day went, I am incredibly thankful to have the blessing of my children and if I could ever rewrite my life story I would never, ever, ever write them out of it. I absolutely {love}  being a mom!

In this era, though, this is not necessarily the norm. In fact, an article published in Time Magazine in August 2013 entitled “The Childfree Life” states that the current birth rate in the U.S. is the lowest it has ever been and that more and more people are choosing to opt out of having children.

Notice the title of the article: “The Childfree Life: When Having it All Means Not Having Children“. An article here claims that the author used the term “childfree” instead of “childless” because “the most educated, highest IQ non-mothers by choice now say, “Childlessness is for someone who wants a child but doesn’t have one. It’s a lack. I’m not lacking anything.””

We live in a world where children are most often viewed as a {burden} rather than a {blessing}. And parents who chose to have more than two of these “burdens” are considered to be especially foolish, unwise, and totally irresponsible.

Even as Christians, we often take on the same view as the secular world around us. We don’t value children. The world tells us that no children or less children are better because it allows you to be more free to pursue your dreams and your passions, have {more} fun with your significant other and friends, less to worry about, less responsibility, and overall more {joy} in life. Our own experiences seem to validate the fact that children {are} sometimes inconvenient, irritating, annoying, embarrassing, expensive, and just down right a. lot. of. work.

I’m not saying that sometimes our children are not these things. Nor am I saying that children are perfect little angels all the time who will be incredibly easy to care for and require no amount of sacrifice on a parents’ part. But when the world tries to paint a picture of something it deems good or bad, a warning bell should go off in the mind of a Christian and we can most assuredly come to the conclusion that it is exactly the opposite.

This girl brings SO much joy into our lives.

The Bible tells us that:

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a {reward} from him.
Psalm 127:3

Since the Bible teaches us that children are a {blessing} and not a burden, it is our job to adjust our thinking to align with what the Scripture says, not to reinterpret Scripture to match what the world says.

Isaiah and Eloise with their cousin, Novalee. Three blessings!

So, how can we start viewing our children as blessings?

First of all, we need to stop viewing our children with an earthly perspective. Most everyone would agree that children often times cost {lots} of money, embarrass us in front of others, get sick at the most inconvenient times, don’t allow us to get as much done as WE want to, make messes that we spend the whole day picking up, whine, disobey, make poor choices, and often take so much physical and mental energy that we feel we have nothing left at the end of the day. Raising kids is not for the faint of heart!

But, to help us understand the blessing of children we need to develop an eternal, spiritual perspective.  God {says} children are a blessing, so they {are}! They advance His kingdom. They are like arrows in the hand of a warrior (Psalm 127:4-5), which we need in spiritual battle against the enemy. They force us to grow up and develop character, to learn patience and selflessness. Children cause us to get over ourselves and learn the blessing of self-sacrifice. And, as any parent knows, children are a blessing because of the sheer joy and delight they bring into a home! I think my kids are the cutest, smartest, most entertaining, and most fun kids on the planet and I could just eat them up! Drew and I video tape or take a picture of almost every cute moment and treasure every sweet and tender one. Our kids have brought unending joy and happiness into our home and I know many other parents feel the same (on most days!).

As Christians, we have the responsibility of raising up a future generation of adults who love and serve the Lord. What an incredible, huge, and daunting task. And yet what could be of more eternal value?!

If I didn’t have Isaiah who would paint my toes while I’m pregnant?!?!
“The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing; but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings.” 

This is not a post trying to guilt people into having children or into having more children. The decision about whether or not to have children and/or how many to have (or adopt) is between you, God, and your spouse! And I also realize that many out there desperately want to have children and cannot.

I simply want to encourage those of us who do have children to view them as blessings instead of burdens. Being a parent has it’s good days and it’s bad days. Not every day will you be over the top, enthusiastically thankful for the little creatures who are driving you bonkers that day. And that’s ok. That’s part of life and no matter how hard we try we can’t make every day a perfect day (because we are sinners and we are raising kids who are sinners!).

But, whether you have one child or ten, praise God for the blessing of your children and ask Him for the grace and patience to view them as the blessings they are, even when the days get rough. Ask Him to help you see the {JOY} in raising children! It’s an awesome job!

The world sees children as a burden but God sees them as a blessing to help share the burdens of life!

 

My little “superhero” helping me with the dishes last night. So thankful for him.

When Life Gives You Lemons – Our 2013 Year in Review

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the {glory} of his name!
Tell the world how {glorious} he is.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!”
Psalm 66:1-3

When life gives you lemons you …. make lemonade, right? 2013 has been a lemonade making kinda year for us!

The first half of the year was good! We were able to obtain legal guardianship of our daughter, Eloise, we enjoyed our last few months in Uganda, and we moved back to the States in late May where we were able to see friends and family we hadn’t seen in over a year.

Our transition back to the States went so smoothly! We spent our first few weeks in Florida visiting Drew’s friends and family and then made the drive up to Michigan to spend some time with my family. The kids adjusted well to life back in America and our plans seemed to be moving right along.

When we returned from Uganda we had plans for Drew to attend grad school at Harvard in Cambridge. He had job interviews lined up, he made a trip to Boston to go to interviews and check things out, we were looking at places to live, and he had already enrolled in classes. We were planning to move to the Boston area in August and things seemed to be going just as we had planned.

In late July life started to throw us some curve balls. We found out that because of the specific degree program that Drew was going into, he would be unable to take out loans for his first year of school. Having spent most of our savings on Eloise’s adoption, we knew this meant that our income was going to have to fully cover the {high} cost of living in the Boston area as well as the {high} cost of attending Harvard! No matter which way we tried, we could not make things work out to do this. Finally, in August, just before school was to start, God firmly shut the door on that opportunity in our lives and started leading us in a different direction.

Now we were left wondering what in the world God had for us? Everything we had thought about, dreamt about and were looking forward to had been taken away and we had to find out what our next steps should be. We began to really struggle with believing that God’s hand was in this and that it would all work out for His glory.

Drew began to look for temporary work in Michigan while we tried to sort things out. He got a few minimum wage jobs while we continued to pray and see what God wanted for us.

In September, we made the decision to stay in Michigan and Drew began the process of being hired on as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He had been interested in this position for quite some time but kept putting it off because his desire was to return to school for his masters and this position with Edward Jones was a career position, not something he could do for a few years and then go back to school. However, it was a position he was highly interested in, as he was planning to go back to school for finance and business anyways. After much prayer, we felt like this was the direction God was leading us in.

Drew began completing each step of the Edward Jones hiring process… a lengthy process! In the mean time we lived on his minimum wage jobs and finances became extremely tight.

We struggled with God and wondered why He was bringing us through this. So much disappointment, unmet expectations, and discouraging things happened during this time. All of the plans {we} had for our life came crashing down and we both started to become bitter. We had just come out of an incredible year in Uganda where we both grew closer to each other and to God than we ever had before. We saw Him working in amazing and powerful ways. And now…. it seemed like He had abandoned us. We were walking in darkness and we couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

We began crying out to the Lord and asking Him to give us the faith to keep trusting in Him even when everything seemed to be going wrong. Drew kept advancing in the hiring process with Edward Jones but each step was so detailed and took so much time to complete and we began doubting that it would ever really happen.

In October we came to a breaking point. We were literally living dollar to dollar and one day a check we had written out to someone several months ago was finally cashed and we were left with very little money in our bank account. No cash, no savings, no stocks. We had spent most of our savings on Eloise’s adoption, supplementing our support while living in Uganda, and trying to live on the minimum wage job Drew currently had. We felt like we had reached the bottom.

The good thing about being at the bottom is that you have nowhere to go but {up}! God did not abandon us during this time and we had the support of friends and family who wrapped their arms around us and blessed us with their love and support. We began clinging to God’s word like never before.

Psalm 66 became one of our favorite chapters and these verses are seared in our hearts:

You have tested us, O God;
You have purified us like silver.
You captured us in your net
And laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
Then you put a leader over us.
{We went through fire and flood,
But you brought us to a place of great abundance.}
Psalm 66: 10-12

We knew that, just like the Israelites in Egypt, this was a time of great testing that God was bringing us through. We wanted to come out on the other side having grown stronger because of it. We began trying to focus on our blessings. We have a wonderful house to live in that is spacious and has cheap rent, we have a sweet new baby on the way, we were able to finalize Eloise’s adoption in October and she legally became our daughter, we have wonderful friends and family, and we have a great marriage that can weather any storm! We began to see how God was using these trials in our life to make us into better people and we refocused our attitudes. We also began to look forward to the “place of great abundance” God would bring us to, whether that be financially, physically, or spiritually. We began learning to trust Him with whatever would come our way.

On December 26th, Drew completed the final step in the hiring process with Edward Jones. After that was over, we breathed a sigh of relief that he had finished all of the steps and ….. we waited to hear if he would get hired on.

Five days (felt like five years!) later we heard back. Drew had passed! Just today, after three months in the hiring process, we learned that Drew is finally being hired on as a financial advisor with Edward Jones! We are so excited about where this will take our family and we look forward to seeing what God does in and through us as we serve Him with this next step in our lives.

Over these next few months, as Drew takes several exams, attends several training seminars, and begins building a client base, we will find out where this new job will move our family. Most likely we’ll still be in the West Michigan area but we’re not exactly sure where his office will be. We look forward to finding out and getting settled so that we can begin putting down roots. We are looking forward to having the income necessary to support our family and to bless others on top of that just as we have been blessed!

I started this blog a few months ago mainly for myself. I want to remember all that we have gone through and all that we will go through. I want to be able to look back and see how my kids have grown and remember the fun family memories we have made together. But most of all I want to be able to look back and see how God used {every} situation in our lives to work together for good to bring HIM {glory}! And while it’s mainly just for me, I hope that I can in some way encourage you as well.

So here’s to 2014! It may be another lemonade making kind of year, but that’s ok, because we’re making the best lemonade we can for God’s GLORY!

But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
Or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
Psalm 66: 19-20


Facebook Lies

Do you have Facebook friends who lead perfect lives? You know the ones I’m talking about…The ones that home school 10 kids at once and cook all their food from scratch and {always} have a clean house and they look fabulous all of the time and their children {never} fight or throw a temper tantrum and everything they place in their mouths is 100% organic and they sew all 10 of their kids’ Halloween costumes themselves each year and they always find the cheapest gas prices and make homemade crafts with their kids every day and they lead 5 Bible studies and are president of the rotary club and… well, basically, they’re perfect. At least that’s how it appears on Facebook, right?
Facebook can lie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. I use it often and it’s a great way to keep in contact with people, especially for someone like me who grew up in several different countries and have friends all over the world. I appreciate Facebook. But, sometimes I think it could be called Fakebook, because it’s {so} easy to appear {fake} on Facebook (not necessarily on purpose!).
I get it. Most people don’t want to post the worst pictures of themselves or list out all of their failures or constantly comment on how terrible their lives are. You actually probably have some friends who often do the latter and that gets old real quick! But in posting about mainly the best parts of their lives, some of our Facebook friends really do seem to have it all together.
But Facebook doesn’t always tell the whole story. For instance, when I take a picture of my kids and they are smiling nicely and have their arms sweetly around each other, I post it! But I don’t post (or comment about) the 50 pictures I took before that where my kids were refusing to smile or had their fingers up their noses. And I certainly don’t comment that as soon as I snapped the picture one of them smacked the other in the face which caused a catastrophic meltdown which ultimately led to an early nap time (for me!)! I post the picture on Facebook and everyone thinks, “Wow, what perfectly adorable children. I wish mine were that well behaved.” Ha! Right!
I’m not saying that we should all start posting about the {awful} parts of our lives or start using Facebook as a place to constantly complain. And I’m not saying that we should stop posting about the {good} things in our lives and the things we can praise God for. I’m simply reminding you that Facebook doesn’t always tell the {whole story}. The perfect life you think your friend is leading because of his or her status updates and pictures may not be as perfect as you think.
Don’t let Facebook cause jealousy or feed bitterness or stir up discontentment in you. Use it as a fantastic way to keep in touch with people and their lives and to share about the wonderful things in your life or the not so good things you need prayer about. But don’t let it lead you to feelings of failure about your own life and how it doesn’t seem to measure up to others’. Facebook can be real. But remember, sometimes it really can be Fakebook.

A New Beginning, A New Baby, and A New Blog

You may be wondering, why all the changes around the Hutcheson household lately?
God has been doing some {BIG} things in our life lately! They haven’t all been easy but we’re trusting that God’s ways are better than ours and trying to trust Him with every new step we feel led to take.

Many of you may be wondering, what happened to Boston? When we returned from Uganda in May, we had everything lined up to move to Boston this fall where Drew would be attending Harvard extension school. Little by little, though, God closed slammed doors shut in our face. The last door that closed and finally caused us to see that God had different plans in store for us was our finances. We found out at the last minute that because of the specific program Drew was entering,  we would not be able to take out student loans until his second year at Harvard. With the high cost of schooling and living in the Boston area we were simply unable to make it work any which way we tried. And that’s when God finally pried out of our hands all the hopes and dreams and plans we thought we had for our family.

God’s ways are better right? An {easy} saying to say but a {hard} one to live.

Things are tough right now as we’re in the in-between stage. We’re trying to decide where God wants us next. Should Drew choose a different grad school? Should we stay in Michigan? What career opportunities should he pursue? We just came off a high from an {incredible} year in Uganda and now we’re experiencing a {low}. But God is in them both. We believe that He has great things in store for us. He has been faithful in our lives thus far and we trust His faithfulness through all generations.

And in the midst of hard times there is always hope to be found. We have many blessings: a wonderful house in Michigan, a brand new baby joining our family this Spring, the overwhelming love and support of awesome friends and family, and the way in which the Lord has drawn both me and Drew closer to Him and closer to each other though our trials.

I started this blog as a way to document our journey as we {trade our dreams} and lay down what we thought was God’s plan in order to pick up the new things He has in store for us. We don’t know what the future looks like right now but we do know the One who knows the future. And because of that, we give God {glory}!

tumblr_m95tlhY5uj1qabkyxo1_500