Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Update 2017

Dear friends and family,

Most Christmas letters deal with the surface overview of our year’s life, and that is needful, if we are to stay informed on the what and where of our friends’ history; however, I don’t ever remember reading a Christmas letter that revealed the inward struggles of our souls or words like David wrote, “Your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Ps 42:7).  Sometimes, however, I think a letter like that is necessary too so that we can profit from one another in the comfort of God and the eternal lessons that mean so much more than surface news.  We are creatures of soul and spirit.  So much of our time and meditations are spent plunging into the depths of spiritual thoughts, wrestling with lies, trying to heal heart wounds and overcome bitterness, sorting through the “stuff” of life to find God and walk with Him—or, as I just read somewhere, turning up the volume so as to drown out all the voices that we can’t escape.  That, of course, doesn’t heal the wounds or reconcile the problems; it delays the reckoning.  I say all that by way of introduction to the kind of year we’ve had.  It has probably been the hardest year my sister Mary and brother-in-law Caleb--along with myself and the whole family--have had to endure, firstly due to one particularly very severe trial that was foremost directed at Mary and Caleb, and secondly due to many other secondary trials that have added salt to the wound.  My goal in this discussion is to draw attention to the grace of refinement that God has worked in the furnace, without going into the nitty-gritty of the events.

I cannot go into the exact matter of the primary trial (and I will not take the time to discuss the secondary ones, related and unrelated), but we were essentially thrust into the furnace that had been heated “seven times hotter” (Dan 3:19).  Yet, looking back over the year, many—if not all in my family—who have been walking in that furnace would have to testify that the LORD has been there with us, keeping us from being consumed, yea, even refining us through it.  That is not to say that there are deep wounds that may never heal and floods of tears that may never dry up until the Day of Jesus’ return, though we pray for healing before then.  In the midst of that mid-furnace walk, there has been an opening of the well of our soul.  Some if not all of us in our family have testified to finding the most rooted truths of God’s Word called into question in our minds, the most “unshakeable” confidences in our salvation being shaken, and the most “sure” principles of our daily living being challenged.

The stroke of injustice had hit us where it mattered.  It was as though the sword had pierced our own home.  I had always asked myself how Christians in lands of severe physical persecution face and even forgive their persecutors who had maimed them or kidnapped their children or murdered loved ones in their family, including children.  Well, it’s not in the human DNA to forgive such injustice.  It’s in the divine DNA.  And the truth is, if we can’t forgive, then we suddenly come to grips with the reality that we are not plugged into the divine DNA.  This conjures up in my mind a testimony given by Corrie TenBoom when she was on tour to share her and her family’s story of rescuing Jews during World War II, getting caught, being severely persecuted in the concentration camps, and losing her family to cruelty.  She tells of seeing a guard that she recognized, who had humiliated her in the concentration camp, coming up to her with a huge smile and extended hand to tell her how her story had impacted him and how Jesus had saved him.  Her humanness was utterly repulsed, but her faith in God forced her to forgive and shake that man’s hand in spite of all the agony of her emotions.  God in His power honored her obedience and gave her true forgiveness immediately after she acted with forgiveness.  “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).  I have realized through this year that such a depth of forgiveness cannot be forced.  The best human therapy cannot bring about a true releasing and cleansing of bitterness that we harbor against our enemies.  Only God’s power can do that, and only the absorption—the “chewing of the cud”—of the truth of God’s Word regarding God’s perfect sovereignty, His bringing about perfect justice, our own eternal debt for His forgiveness of our black hearts, and His perfect love for us in the midst of unthinkable pain, can bring about the mind and heart transformation that allows our emotions to follow.

An experience like this humbles to the core.  We as a family have come to realize that apart from the power and grace of Jesus Christ, we are incapable of any good, of thinking anything good, of loving as God would have us to love, of forgiving our enemies (everyone can forgive their friends), of not forsaking the faith of Jesus Christ, of not returning to our enemies the same sins that were given to us (even if they be in the form of inward hatred and mental murder), and of walking the path of obedience in opposition to the demonic shrieks of all our raw feelings.

One good friend said to me in the midst of this trial, “Why would God allow such a thing to happen to such a wonderful family?”  I’ve been chewing on that.  That was a lie of Satan dipped in sugar.  First, we are not a wonderful family, but by the grace of God.  Second, the more righteous we are, the more Christ would glorify himself through us by exposing to ourselves and everyone else that our worth is in unshakeable faith and utter dependence on Him.  That heart exposure must come through affliction.  Third, the more righteous we look, the more Christ would strip us of our self-made “rags” (Is 64:6) of outward glory and cause us to realize that we are actually “blind and naked” (Rev 3:17) needing the “salve” (Rev 3:18) of His righteousness upon our self-righteous hearts.  Fourth, the more our Lord would seek to woo us to Himself as a bride to her husband, the more He would need to make our lives on this earth all the more loathsome so that we do not find any desire in them but only in the light of how they shine on the glory and beauty of our Beloved.  Thus, if we are chastened, we are eternally blessed!  If we are left to enjoy the morsels of earth, to feel the comforts and stability of earthly pursuits, and to sense that we “do not need a thing,” the more utterly miserable we are!  Oh that we would be given by our Husband and King an experience of the great earthquake that is to come upon this earth, before it comes: to feel the shaking of all our sensibilities, all our comforts, all our idols, all our hopes and earthly desires—all those things that in a moment are utterly destroyed at the word of His mouth!  Surely in that Day, will not all things that seem wonderful on this earth suddenly become worthless?  Will not bank accounts seem as nothing?  Will not health seem as nothing?  Will not fame and fortune seem as nothing?  Will not being known, being loved, being remembered, being saved and being upheld by the King of Kings be EVERYTHING?  Finally, we are called to suffering, that all our hopes and purpose on earth might be cast at the feet of our Heavenly Father, that all we do on this earth might be for His glory and will, not our own.  Jesus said that no one is greater than his master.  Jesus, our master, leads the way in a life of suffering unto the redemption of mankind.  God has chosen the “weak and foolish” means of this world (1 Cor 1:26-31) to bring about a great harvest of souls, and we must trust the Father, who orchestrates the big picture and our purpose and role in the midst of suffering to that end.

The Lord is so full of grace and healing.  Even in the midst of such a tumultuous year, He was so gracious to sprinkle our wounds with the oil of joy.  He has given us daily mercies, never-failing abundance of food and clothing and shelter, help and comfort in times of great need, and the miracle of new life!  On January 3rd of this year (2017), our daughter Hannah Joy was born to us, and I might add, with much less difficulty than the birth of our son.  This was a special mercy to me, as I was going into that labor very tired and ragged and asking God for just that kind of birth.  He was most gracious to answer that prayer!  This year, probably due to its intensity, has just flown by, and now, our daughter is nearly 1 year old, crawling, chewing, and growing! J  Our son, also, has made significant advancements in his maturity, having turned 2 in July.  He runs all over the place, trying to push every button he can and reach every light he can turn on!  He loves lights, pouring water (or pennies or various materials) from one vessel to another, and playing with every sort of gadget.  He also enjoys cars and balls, and when he releases a car from the top of his roller coaster toy, he does something of a dance!  Michael has also been greatly blessed in his work at Picatinny Arsenal and has received raving reviews.  He was enriched by two training trips this year, one in MD and one in GA.  The Lord has also been so gracious to provide enough financially through Michael’s job that Rachel has completely laid off the editing work to focus on home management and raising the children.

If our Lord tarries, may He bless every one of you this coming year with the kind of joy that He has given to us this year.

Much love in our Savior Jesus,
Michael, Rachel, Timothy & Hannah Joy

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Dear family and friends,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  This has been a really emotional roller-coaster year for us, and yet even in the downs, we have had much cause to give thanks to God for His grace and love and for teaching us greater dependence on Him.  I will try to recap the highlights of this year:
The spring brought us the very exciting news that a second child was on the way!  Having had difficulty conceiving our first child, Timothy, we were particularly surprised and grateful to God for this fast second conception, and we learned it is to be a girl!  Rachel is due in just two weeks: January 10th!
As we have been seeking to weigh the financial needs of raising two children, coupled with our desire to give them a Christian education, we spent a good half of the year seeking out a place to live with a lower cost of living and suitable to our Christian-education goals.  In the summer, Michael was offered a job in northern MD.  The location seemed to fit what we were seeking and we started making preparations for a move.  This was very emotional because of the realities of leaving family and all our roots here while Rachel was pregnant.  We also learned very quickly that preparing a house to sell is no walk in the park, and it was going to take much longer than the new job could wait for us.  Hence, we ended up having to decline the MD job.  The entire experience was very overwhelming and humbling but educational.  We learned a lot about how we needed to prioritize our plans, and some important factors we needed to put into the equation as we planned for and prayed toward our future.  The psychological upheaval has also elevated our priority of prayer and has been a work toward patience as we wait on the Lord, His timing, and His direction.



In October, Timothy, being 15 months at the time, was severely burned from a pot of scalding coffee spilling on him.  He received multiple second-degree burns on the right side of his body starting on his face and running down his arm, chest, back, and side.  We are thankful that the deeper burns did not reach third-degree, as some were close to third-degree.  This would have required surgery.  In the midst of this extremely traumatic trial, God was so gracious to give us much-needed physical and emotional strength, many friends who prayed for us, cards to cheer us, some special friends to bring us meals and other helpful gifts, and a very supportive family (particularly Mom and Dad Adamus)—all of which really got us through nearly a week of hospital time.  Timothy was remarkably brave and patient through the whole ordeal and through the trial of rooming with another burn patient (another little child), making it difficult for him to sleep well.  God’s grace was evident to the hospital staff, and there were opportunities for us to witness to our heavenly Father’s faithfulness.  The experience of rooming with another family also gave me a perspective of another world of trials that I had never really entered into before.  I now have a very new sympathy for those who are hospitalized, especially children.  We were very blessed by God to have a minimal stay in the hospital compared to others.  Even the child with whom we roomed had more severe burns that required surgery and a much longer hospital term.  Once we were home, much time and energy went into caring for the burns, helping Timothy recover his rest, and healing from the emotional scars (both Mom and Timothy).  We were very thankful for the support of Rachel’s Mom at that time, who traveled from Indiana to help with the home transition.  God is faithful, and time does heal!  We are very grateful for a highly successful recovery and for Timothy’s continued development in many other ways such as many more teeth, the ability to walk, and now his newest favorite pastimes—reading books, pushing buttons on electronics, and climbing couches!




In spite of the many events of this year that required great time commitments, we still found time for a great deal of travel!  Rachel’s youngest brother Jonathan was married to Cristilynn in May, and we traveled to California for that wedding while using the opportunity on the West coast to stop in Denver, CO to visit Michael’s sister Betsy and family.  Rachel and Timothy took a flight to Indiana in early August to surprise her mom for her birthday, and in October, we all traveled to Indiana for early holiday festivities and for Rachel’s cousin Jeanette’s wedding.  In late August, we traveled to MA to visit friends.

Needless to say, we were relieved to get a traveling reprieve in not having to go far from home for the holidays, especially as we busily prepare for the birth of our daughter any time now!  Rachel is in nesting mode and seeking to organize baby girl’s room, which is being helped along by the generous gifts of friends and family who have donated furniture and clothes.
As we have remembered in this season the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preparing for our own baby has brought the reality close to home that God Himself took on the form of a helpless baby and needy man just so that He could die as the one perfect human substitute to be found for the helplessly sinful human race.  Praise God for His gift to bring us back to Himself, to show us the present and eternal joy of knowing God and living for and with Him!  Praise Him also for the seal of promise He has given us to break the power of death, showing us His final plan of resurrection through Jesus when God raised Him from the dead 2000 years ago, and this same Jesus will return to raise up all people to Himself, some to eternal condemnation and some to eternal life!  We pray that in this season, God will show you the true miracle of Christmas: knowing God through Jesus Christ in whom your sins can be covered and you can be assured of eternal life!

Much love,

The Adamus Family: Michael, Rachel, Timothy, and baby girl

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

God's Awesome Handiwork and Faithfulness

Psalm 139:13-16

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be."
  

 

I haven't made record of the faithfulness of God the past three months, and it would be wrong for me not to do that, because God has done so much more than I could ask or imagine in the birth of our firstborn son, Timothy Louis.

It was a long and hard delivery.  Contractions lasted on and off for a week prior to his birth, and then on Saturday morning around 8:00 a.m., July 18th, I started having regular contractions.  They were about five to ten minutes apart all day.  We finally went to the hospital about 2:00 in the morning on the 19th.  After the midwife broke my water, the contractions were unbearably painful until Timothy was born at 6:14 a.m. and after pushing for an hour.  I was exhausted from all the prior labor before we even went to the hospital, yet God gave me a strength I did not fathom possible.  And when I thought I could not handle one more contraction, God continued to give me strength to go through yet one more, and one more, and one more for several hours.  And when I thought I could not push one more time, God gave me strength to push again and again, and even increase my strength.  After Timothy was born, one would expect me to have some kind of shut down or breakdown.  But once again, God gave me supernatural power to deal with all the newness and demand of having a newborn, for the two days we were in the hospital, in spite of sleeplessness and trouble with breastfeeding.

After we got home from the hospital, God used my mom to take over to provide for our needs.  Her nursing care gave me the rest and meals I needed to recover--and it took all three weeks that she was here!  And after she left, God used the church to continue providing us with supplemental meals for nearly two months! This was a huge blessing to us, as cooking has been a great effort in all the adjustment of parenting and exhausting nights.

Timothy is two and a half months old, and God is providing in many ways--every single hour and day--and enabling me to mother this little boy in spite of my physical limitations.  When I have felt at the end of my rope in exhaustion, God has always providentially worked so that Timothy would have a restful day so that I could sleep and recover.  God has also given Michael much grace in the adjustment of fatherhood and the extra house chores he has taken on since Timothy's birth.  And God has given Timothy a contented disposition most of the time so that it does not require as much energy to care for him.

There is so much more I could say, such as how God has materially provided for us and our son through the generous, ongoing gifts people have given us and the many hours of time people have spent helping us prepare for Timothy's birth and then helping us care for him afterward.

I just praise my Father in heaven for doing the impossible and giving us a child that we thought we could not have or would not have the strength to care for.  And as the temptations of worry and doubt buffet me regarding how I will have the energy needed to educate and discipline him, I daily preach to myself God's commands and His promises ("Cast your cares on the Lord..."; "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."; "Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough worries of its own..."; "Consider the birds of the field: They do not sow or reap or store away in barns yet your heavenly father feeds them..."; "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well"; etc.).  And then I recount all the ways God has provided for us in His gracious faithfulness.  Will He let us down just because it seems to get harder and more demanding?  Is His provision limited?  Is the power He provides impotent?  "Oh you of little faith, why do you doubt?"

Finally, I want to praise God for the unspeakable blessing of making us part of His covenant family and for blessing our son by placing him in a family and church in which he will be raised under the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In acknowledgment of Timothy's discipleship in Jesus, we are having him baptized on Sunday, October 25th at 9:30 a.m.  Everyone is welcome to witness this covenant before God and man that Timothy will be held accountable before God of the gift of light he receives and that if one day, he repents of his sin and looks to Jesus Christ for his cleansing, the symbol of the cleansing water of baptism will become for him a reality.  And if he does not embrace this grace of which he is taught, the water will be to him a symbol of God's wrath, even as the water was to those outside the Ark of Noah (1 Peter 3:18-22).  To this end, we pray that God gives him a tender heart toward the Word and redeems him for the Kingdom of Heaven at a young age.  Please pray with us!  There is no greater hope or desire that we have as Timothy's parents!
If you are not in the area and would like to witness this special service, you may see it on Ustream live with no commercials via Roku (type in keyword "Preakness" in a search) or go to:
http://preaknessvalleyurc.org/live-stream/
 

 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!





We are praising God for another year of blessings and mercies far above what we deserve, except in Jesus Christ, our Savior, of whose birth we celebrate.  This is a year of babies, as Michael’s sister Betsy and husband Bryon had their second child, Abigail, on December 29, 2013!  Rachel’s brother Daniel and wife Katherine had their firstborn son, Landon, in February.  Michael’s brother Dave and wife Rachel are expecting their second child, and we are expecting our first child in July!

Michael has transitioned into two different jobs this year, first a contract that lasted about nine months and then a full-time position at Picatinny Arsenal as of November.

Rachel continues editing from home and just finished up a semester of weekly tutoring for the home-school group Classical Conversations.  She is now focusing on prepping for an addition to the family!  Please rejoice with us as we celebrate the goodness of our God this season.



Here are some great spring memories!





Paul is now 2 years old!
We got to meet Daniel's new son Landon!

 


We enjoyed Easter with Mom Adamus' family...
...and met baby Abigail!


And of course we enjoyed her brother Ricky :)



  

Here are some great fall memories!

The first time Michael and I went camping...Thanks to Mary & Caleb who brought the tent! :)




A week later, Mom & Dad came to visit, and we visited the Ringwood State Park botanical gardens.


...and picnicked at the Ringwood Lake.



Michael and I got to visit a historic site in Morristown, NJ, where General George Washington camped his army one winter of the Revolutionary War.




We had a blast at Angie's bouncy birthday party!


We loved the Thanksgiving reunion with the Wesner family!!

 Thank you, Lord, for another special year of love.






Sunday, May 11, 2014

Joy Through Tears?



I was looking at the Facebook feed tonight, and since it is Mother’s Day, it was inevitably full of related comments.  Two comments, one right after the other, were polar opposites.  One was by a grieving mother who had had a second miscarriage after a recent previous one.  One was a rejoicing woman who had been barren and just brought home this week two siblings for adoption.  My first thought was, “Why does God give to some and take away from others?”  Both serve Him, both love Him, both wait on Him.  The two had a Mother’s Day like the contrasts of night and day.  And there are those like me caught in the middle, not exactly bereaved but having no one in her nest and telling herself that she is a mother to the world—though any barren woman knows that is a weak consolation.


So what do we say to all these different women today?  I did a word search in the Bible on rejoicing, joy, and delight and found that people found joy in the Lord in a great variety of circumstances—some found joy in people and some in God’s material blessings, including children, but these were least the focus of Scripture, and the material blessings were not separated from God Himself, such that joy in the blessings carried over into joy in God who gave them.  But beyond the material blessings, the unchanging, steady joy frequently described in Scripture was found in God Himself, in God’s unchanging law, in God’s love, in God’s attributes, in God’s justice, in God’s deliverance, etc. This joy was not only associated with prosperity, as we see in Job, for he said, “Then I would still have this consolation— my joy in unrelenting pain— that I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10).  Whether in weeping or feasting, may our joy always be found in the unshakeable desire to honor our all-wise and good God.  Who can know the mind of the LORD in individual circumstances?  But whatever else His purpose, I do know that God uses the joy of the new mother to praise His goodness, the longing of the barren woman to praise His sufficiency, and the grief of the bereaved mother to praise His comfort.  For when we don’t deny Him in pain, He proves to be our all in all, and when we don’t forget Him in prosperity, He proves Himself more glorious than the earthly blessings.  Happy-in-God Mother’s Day.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!






Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech 9:9).

Those who love God’s laws and justice continue to be dismayed at the ever-increasing injustice that reigns in our land.  But instead of growing fearful and anxious, we have been called to look to Christ the solid rock on which we stand.  He is our King who reigns over all, He who is God and took on flesh to live the just and righteous life we could not and die the death we deserve, in order to set up a Kingdom that has no end, a perfect Kingdom for which He will return to bring consummation!  This is our hope, and in this hope we live every day and every year, looking to our Lord to guide our steps in the way He would have us proclaim that Kingdom as we make it our aim to please Him.

Though in many ways, we have continued in this year without much change—living in the same house, attending the same church, working in many of the same ministries—we have also seen many blessings that are different from last year. To best narrate these blessings, I will use pictures.

In October, we celebrated our nephew Paul’s first birthday.  We have greatly enjoyed watching him develop from a helpless infant to a high-energy toddler who can practically run from place to place.

 



 


























In early fall, Michael and I got to take a trip—just the two of us—for the first time since our honeymoon.  It was a fairly local trip, and just a few days, but we loved every minute of it!  We went to see the Hershey Factory, bought too much chocolate, and then headed to Lancaster, PA.  There, we enjoyed an excellent production of “Noah” at the Sight and Sound Theater.  We also visited a replica of the Old
Testament Tabernacle, did some window shopping of quilts and other Amish market items, and ate some delicious Amish cooking!




Moving back in time, we received a visit from Rachel’s parents the week of her dad’s birthday, so we relished celebrating with him and enjoyed a couple days of nature outings in the surrounding countryside.


 












Immediately following a visit from Rachel’s siblings in early July, we found out that her brother Daniel’s wife was expecting her first child!  So Rachel celebrated by trying her hand at quilting.










In the spring, we had to give our dog Hezzy to another owner in PA, because he was too big and energetic for our house, but our dog is much happier now in an environment much more suitable to him (wide-open land, and, as you can see, a pond—and Hezzy loves swimming!).  We sure miss him, though!

 




In late spring, we visited Mike’s sister and family, including our nephew Ricky, just before they moved from Ithaca, NY (the land of gorges and waterfalls—gorgeous!) to Denver, CO for a permanent job.







Also in the spring, we celebrated the wedding of my cousin Heather and her husband Robert in Indianapolis, IN.



As you can tell, it’s been a very busy year!  As always, God has been faithful and good.  I trust He will continue to take care of us, even in the present unknown circumstances of job loss and needing much wisdom in the give and take of job searches.  We covet your prayers for God’s sustaining grace of patience and hope and peace and joy and trust and wisdom, as no job or a new job can put quite a different spin (for more or less stress) on life.

God is still our guide in the minutest details of life’s twists and turns, even as He was in the details of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection and all the prophecies He fulfilled perfectly.  We take comfort to rest in the arms of our all-sovereign God.

Merry Christmas in the peace our Savior brought through the joy of living for Him, knowing Him, and rejoicing in eternal hope!

With love,
Michael & Rachel