Our Family Prayer

"Our Father in heaven, we write this prayer that we might live lives worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1) and knowing that the beginning of wisdom is to Fear You (Proverbs 1:7). In your love and faithfulness please hear this prayer for our family and the generations to come.

Our prayer begins that we might KNOW YOU. (Gen 1:1; John 17:3)

In knowing You, Father, that we might be a family who TREASURES YOUR WORD to us. (Deut. 6:4-9; 2 Tim 3:16,17)

Father. having spent time with You in word and in Your Word, that we would be brought to TRUE WORSHIP. (Lev. 9:23,24; Rev. 19:15, 16)

Learning and knowing Your heart and mind as a servant, we pray that our worship of You would lead us to continual ACTS OF SERVICE to you and our fellow man. (Joshua 24:15; Matt. 20:28)

Knowing that it is difficult here, Father, we pray that we would continually WALK IN YOUR SPIRIT. (Exodus 13:21, 22; Rom 8:1-17)

We also pray that we would REMAIN FAITHFUL in all the tasks that You give us and the faith that we have in Jesus our Savior. (1 Kings 13; 1 Tim. 6:11-16)

Father, You know our temptations and our struggles, please in all things here on earth, help us to PURSUE AND TO BE HOLY. (Lev 20:7; 1 Peter 1:14-16)

Lastly, Lord, would You help us to be bold and beautiful CARRIERS OF YOUR GOSPEL. (Jeremiah 20:7-12; Romans 10:14-15)

To You be the Glory FOREVER! Amen!

Two weeks in pictures....

It has been a great, two weeks! 

Snuggles before school are our favorite!


Open Play on Fridays with our homeschool buddies
Homeschool Reading Hour

The wig comes out unexpectedly on a weekly basis.  Obviously, it brings us great joy!
Eliah tried declare this day a "no homeschool day" because of the snow.  Nice try, my ninja buddy!
We spent an incredible weekend in Joplin, MO with old and new friends.  

Dear Joplin....

Dear Joplin,

You love well.  Upon our visit, you immediately greeted us with hugs that squeezed our hearts.   You made us feel like we had never left, as if 5 years was more like yesterday.  

You're always good like that.  

In just 3 days, you took the time to invest in our family.  You made sure our kids were cared for, spoken to, and listen to.  You wiped their tears when they had to say another goodbye.  And as I watched you, I remembered, these are not just our kids, they are your kids, too.

Our time with you this weekend was short, but you made it one of my favorites.     

Thank you for reminding us how to love one another well and how to live together missionally.  Joplin is not just some small town in Missouri (but of course, you already knew that).  Joplin is much bigger than the eyes of community can reach. 

Our hearts love yours,
~The Rizos

Samurai Pants

We are in a wonderful season of pushing on doors. And because of this, anxiety likes to creep into my dreams uninvited. At least this time, I awoke with a new perspective to hold onto....

I was walking through a store similar to Walgreens in my dream last night.

I had a long list of items that seemed non-existent in the store and my kids were all pitching Oscar winning fits.

It was a disaster.

I vaguely remember walking up to the cashier, placing my items onto the counter, and then wondering where the tv section was located.  

So, I asked her.  

She answered, "they are on the next aisle".  

I finished clearing out my cart and putting one child on the counter and told her that I would be right back.  

The line behind me grew longer.  

Their patience was running thin.  

I grabbed a tv and sprinted back to finish paying.

The kids continued crying.  

A beautiful couple walked past me and told me that I needed to get a handle on things.  I needed to be more decisive for the kids' sake.

My defenses went up and I was ready to fight.

I replied, "it's ok.  They are homeschooled."  --whatever that meant?!  I sure showed them!

Someone behind me sighed.  

I wanted to put one of the paper bags over my head and just pretend that I was robot.  Why? Because robots have no feelings.  

But, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the most beautiful, early 1900's buffet being rolled out of the store.  I quickly snatched up the bags and hollered at the kids to hurry up.

Mommy needed that buffet.

I dragged the kids to every antique shop in town, but to no avail.  It was gone.  

While exiting our last store, I spotted something red and shiny tucked away in the corner.

Upon touch, I knew that I had to get them.

When I got home, I presented the gift to Sergio.

He opened it and smiled back at me. 

It didn't take him long before he proudly walked back into the living room, hands on his hips, and wearing his new, Samurai pants.

Joy conquered.  Anxiety defeated.  

When I woke up, I had a new perspective on life:

No matter the unknowns that come our way, I am confident of this: Sergio looks GREAT in red, Samurai pants. 


Boldness in K-Mart leads to Prayer



It’s Christmas Eve (2013).

I’m frantically walking the aisles of K-Mart.

I turn down the baking aisle and I see him standing at the end of the aisle.

Call it curiosity, or what have you, but  I was drawn to him.

His dark, long hair, deep eyes, & pale skin.   Who was he?  What is his story?

He must have felt my stare and simply gave me a smile.  With sincerity in my eyes, I smiled back.

We passed by each other and I went back to looking for sugar, secretly harboring jealous thoughts of how he can pull off that amazing dress and blue high heels.

He must have been as curious as I was for he came back around to make conversation with me.

“The choices are slim tonight aren’t they?”  he jokingly asked.

“Yes, they are.  It seems as though I’m out of luck when it comes to finding what I need.”  I replied.

With a 6-pack of Blue Moon and a few cans of soup, he said, “It looks like my items will have to hold me over until after Christmas.”

“Do you not have plans for Christmas Day?”  I genuinely questioned.

“No, I don’t.  I’m in town and am not partial to celebrating holidays.  They’re not really special anyways.”  He said.

By the tone in his voice, I didn’t buy it.  He stood in front of me in despair.  His life seemed to take some dark turns.

“Why don’t you come over to our house?”

As the words slipped from my mouth, my heartbeat soared.  I began to question myself.  I don’t even know this guy.  Some may call me foolish.

But, I don’t really care what the world will call me.

“Oh, no.  I couldn’t do that.  I’m so shy that I would just sit there.  I wouldn’t want to intrude.”  He gratefully explained.

“Oh, but you won’t intrude.  Trust me, all of us need someone to spend Christmas with.  If you change your mind, let me know.  I‘ll be in here for awhile.”

With that, we said our goodbyes.

I walked a few more aisles.  My thoughts were consumed with him.

As I turned down one end of the chips aisle, he turned down the other end.  We faced each other again.

My palms became sweaty & I looked into his sad eyes and smiled again.

“Hey, what’s your name?”  He asked me.

“I’m Jackie.  What is your name?”

“I’m Jayme*.”

We shook hands.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Jayme.  I’d like to give you my phone number.  If you change your mind, our dinner starts at 4pm tomorrow.  Give my husband and I a call.  We’d love to have you over.”

He handed me his Iphone and I plugged my number into his cell.  It wasn’t until I left the store that I realized  I had made a mistake.

I didn’t get his number.

In our brief interactions, I realized that most of us celebrate Christmas as the day of our Savior’s birth.  The day that brought us hope, love, peace, joy….

Joy.

It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, coming just second on the list behind love.
It captivated the focus of Jesus Christ. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, scorned the shame and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.

Joy.

Joy stakes everything on the truth that death could not hold Jesus Christ in the grave. Any circumstance, past present or future, cannot alter that.

For we will one day be reunited with Him.

But to some, like Jayme, it’s just another holiday without any real significance.

I desire for his phone call.

I desire for Jayme, born a man, but now living as a ‘woman’, to come into our family.

The radical love inside of me wants to share with him the hope that Christ brings.

We don’t just get together on Christmas to celebrate his birth.

No, we celebrate His life, love, & resurrection on a daily basis.  For He is that GOOD!

For Christ can redeem even the worst of sinners, trust me on this.  I once was one of the worst.

I believe without a doubt that Christ can do this for Jayme.

So until I receive his call, I will pray.

Not like a “I’ll pray for you” type of statement, but a bold, begging woman prayer.

A prayer that sends a nagging tug on his heart for something greater.

A prayer that ignites a bush to catch aflame and make his knees tremble.

A prayer that strips away despair  and replaces it with joy.

For it is our Mighty God that can move mountains.

And without a shadow of doubt, I know that He can tap the shoulder of one man.  A tap that turns him
around and into the arms of His grace.

Of His mercy.

Of His forgiveness.

As Jayme left the store, he shouted out to me, “If I see you again, don’t be a stranger, Jackie.”

I smiled and secretly promised, “I’m going to carry you to the feet of Jesus.  You deserve just that.”





*Name changed.





God Gives and Takes Away

"I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. 
Bend down and listen as I pray. 
Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. "
Psalm 17:6-7

It was a rainy night back in August 2005 when Sergio and I decided to pray for another child.

It had taken us a few years to have Josiah, and at this time, he was only 11 months old.

We knew we were ready to grow our family.

With tears in our eyes, we knelt down by our bedside and prayed.

"Lord, give us a child."

Sweetly embracing one another, we fell asleep in each other's arms.

5am came early that next morning.

We were awaken by the doorbell.

I had begun to nurse Josiah when Sergio walked out the door.

"Quien es?" He shouted.

You see, we were living in Mexico and had recently taken on the role of houseparents for 13 children.  The orphanage was inside a gated area.  The wall stood at least 13ft tall.

Sergio heard nothing.

So again he shouted, "Quien es?" or in English "Who is it?"

Nothing.

He began to turn around when he heard a whimper.

"Surely not", he thought.  For this was a sound far too familiar to him.

He climbed up the side of the wall and saw nothing.

As he climbed back down, he decided to open the door.

And there a life was laid on the rocky driveway.

A baby.

Sergio looked around and saw no one.

He gently swooped up the baby and brought him inside out of the rain.

"Jackie, you are not going to believe this.  It's a baby."

And in that moment, my heart was stolen.

He was beautiful.


I quickly noticed the afterbirth still on his head.

I opened up his thin blanket and saw his sweet (very long) umbilical cord.

The mother must of known nothing else, but to give her baby away in hopes for a better life.

I saw the bottle of apple juice with stuff floating inside.  "Did she give him apple juice to clean out his mouth?  Or to feed him?"  My chest ached as a new mother desiring to give nourishment to her baby.

Sergio made several calls that morning to see what we should do.

Since our doctor on staff was on the other side of the mountain and out of reach, we decided to take him to the clinic where Josiah was born.

It is a decision that still haunts me.

While we were there, I was able to cut his umbilical cord down and hold him as if he were mine.

But, he wasn't.

It wasn't soon after this that the authorities took him from us and placed him in an orphanage a few hours away.

All we had was his bottle & his ID number given to him by the state.


We knew of a missionary couple in the same town and asked them to visit him for us.

After their visitation, we were informed of his name, Cristian (Christian in English).

Sergio and I fought hard.  We sought out legal counsel.

Our knees bled in prayer.

After a period of time, we were asked to back off.  We were Americans.  We were stirring up things that we did not quite understand.

So, we had to say goodbye not knowing what would become of him.

We grieved.

We still grieve.

A lot.

It's been almost 8 years since that early August morning.

But, we still remember him for he took a piece of us that will never return.

We don't know what would've become of him.  He might have been given to another family on staff or taken in under the orphanage's care.  There are so many things that we do not know.

And I will be honest with you, I sometimes scream at God.

(Don't worry, in my weakness, He is made strong.)

He can handle my tantrums.

But, there are still times that I want to know why.....

Why would we pray for a child one night and the next morning a baby is placed at our doorstep?

Why, God?!

Thousands of times I've cried out to Him.

I've boldly demanded Him to answer me as if He hasn't already.

But, He has.  It just took me 8 years to hear Him.

He consistently speaks one word to me.

"Presence."

One word.  One powerful word that shouts of His glory.

For He is here.

He is present.

He is Emmanuel.

God with us to be Him towards others.

He calls us to open the door and pick up the helpless.

And in that wounded moment, He requires love.  Love others with His extreme love that begins by being present.

"Go be Me," He commands.

For I AM HERE.

And You are here.

Be present in the lives of those who can not help themselves.

Be present in the lives of those who can not do it alone.

Be present right where you are.

You can do this.

For I am with you Always.


And I hold Cristian's bottle as tears fall from a wounded heart.

"Presence."


Stripping Away & Redefining "Fairy Tale": A Letter to My Girls

My Dear Daughters,

I write this letter to you after watching you dress up, dance with laughter, and ask if you are "as pretty as a princess".  I feel it time to share with you the true meaning of your royalty.

Sweet Ones, you are daughters of the One and Only, True King.  Therefore, you are a princess.

I have watched you get ready as you take on the role of a princess.

One by one your feet enter into a beautiful gown.
Remember to dress modestly.  For in your modesty, that is where your true beauty lies.  

As you slip on your high heels in preparation to "leave", I encourage you to go.
Go into this dark world.  Take your King with you and He will Light your path.  There is beauty in His presence.

I watch you gently place your crown on top of your head.
Wear it confidently as if you were wearing a crown of righteousness.  Speak for the unjust.  Stand up for what is right.    

And lastly, you slowly put on your gloves as if they are treasured riches.
Serve the broken with hands of love.  Give generously to the poor.  

And when you start to dream of your prince, I promise to pray alongside of you.
May he be a man of strength who fights the battles of the flesh without losing hope.
May he have the courage to stand up for what is right and to do so boldly.
May he love others fiercely and humbly make right the wrongs of what he does.
May he serve your King faithfully as you faithfully serve him.

Your fairy tale life will not be like those viewed in Disney movies.  Not like Cinderella's story.  Not like Sleeping Beauty's story.

Your fairy tale life is completely unique.  Completely yours.

Treat it as so.  Do not compare your fairy tale to your neighbors.  For there is no one who is the "fairest of them all".

This is your story.  Yours alone.  Find joy in the hardships of your story.  Find comfort in your King's love.

Rejoice in your story.

From the beginning pages, your story has been filled with strength, hope, and kindness.  I look forward to seeing the rest of your story unfold.

You are uniquely you.  For your King created you...all of you.

And you are so beautiful.

So go ahead, twirl around in your gown.  Dance wildly in the kitchen.  Enjoy these days.

Be you, my daughters
.  For you are the only you.

Love,
Mommy