Monday, June 25, 2012

Adoption Benefit Yard Sale - New Jersey

              Early on in our adoption journey, an amazing friend called with a question.  She wanted to know if it was okay to host an Adoption Benefit Yard Sale of her own where she lives in New Jersey.  Of course this was a no brainer for us, and we were blown away that this couple would be so willing to help us in this way!  They too began recruiting the help of friends and family to collect items for their yard sale.  Even better, their neighborhood hosts an annual Memorial Day Weekend Yard Sale so there was no need to publicize and no worry that people would not come.  So on the day of our second yard sale here in RI, some miles away in NJ, our friends had another sale going on in an effort to help us raise funds for our adoption. 
              I won't forget that phone call.  It was so early on in the process, and the thought of raising close to $50,000 seemed near impossible and almost too daunting a task to even think about.  I knew even then that God would provide because it was so outside of our ability, but I also knew we'd have to put in a great deal of effort.  That phone call brought me to tears because it was one of the early sources of encouragement for us.  One of the now many ways that God has confirmed what we are doing, and provided in ways that continue to amaze us.  We are SO incredibly grateful to you Jeff & Shayna, for your friendship, for your partnership and support in this, for your coming alongside us and for being so willing to follow God's leading in your own life. 

                            So as with each of our yard sales, I wish to share two things:

               First, the profit of Adoption Benefit Yard Sale - New the three (or four) days the yard sale lasted that weekend they raised a total of $1,000!!!  Such an AMAZING blessing!!

               But second, we also want to thank all of the family and friends, church family, and anyone else who donated to this yard sale, gave of their time to help, and made it all possible.  We wish we knew each of your names to personally thank you, but please know that in your sacrifice and giving, you have followed God's command to "care for the orphans" and you have blessed our family beyond measure.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Real Wait Begins

            Our paperwork was sent to Krasnador last week and should arrive anytime if it hasn't already.  Now we are waiting on them to choose a child for us!  We've certainly done a lot of short term waiting throughout this process....waiting for documents from one agency, waiting for passports, waiting for USCIS approval, etc. etc....but this is the wait I have been waiting for! : )  I know people say this is the hardest part, but I'm excited (this may not be true if we are still waiting in a couple of months, but for now it is genuine!) I have a brief break in paperwork and running here and there to get things notarized, apostilled etc.  Now I am enjoying reading more about how to prepare, studying Russia and preparing for our it is starting to feel real!
             Please join us in praying for this child who the officials in Russia will choose, but really God has already chosen for our family.  We have been praying constantly for their health, safety, continued hope and that they are receiving love and care!  Also for continued provision in financially getting us to our child and home again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This Way

          Our now 2 year old son Caleb has recently begun speaking in short's one of the many amazing aspects of parenthood - being able to watch someone experience everything for the first time and develop a sense of independence even at this early age.  Being mobile certainly contributed a great deal, however this increased ability to communicate verbally has significantly impacted his independence.  He clearly knows how to let us know what he wants to do, where he wants to go, who he wants to see etc.  While this is incredibly precious, and increasingly helpful in many situations, it can also bring forth many times of testing.  It seems that his favorite new phrase is "dis way" (this way), combined with holding your hand and pulling you in the direction he desires to go.  Of course many times I entertain this and allow him to lead me here and there, and he revels in the fact that he feels in charge for that moment.  And then there are the times when "dis way" is just not an option!  It may be that we simply have somewhere else to be and can't take the desired detour, or it may be that "dis way" is downright dangerous, harmful, or prohibited.  Sometimes Caleb will allow me to gently share the reigns in these cases and with a slight adjustment to our direction he can continue to lead me elsewhere.  Other times I have to completely alter our direction and a battle of control ensues.  These are the times that prove more of a challenge, but that offer a great time to teach. 

        I think that in so many ways I am often that stubborn two year old.....wanting to be in control....sure I may be holding Jesus' hand but I'm the one trying to pull him in my direction, commanding him to come "this way."  I so often have ideas and plans and then try to fit Jesus into them.  Meanwhile at times he is gently pulling my hand to slightly alter our direction and remind me of where I should be going.  Then there are those all too frequent times where a battle of control is suddenly in front of me.....Jesus is reminding me that I need to stop, allow him to change my direction and then follow him.....maybe because it's simply not the time, maybe it's not beneficial, perhaps it's downright harmful where I'm headed...or maybe it's just not His will!  And then I realize, for maybe the millionth time....oh yeah....I want to be the one following....I really do want Jesus to lead me....I want to be the one responding to his command as he says "this way my child...."   

       So right now I am learning so much about what "way" Jesus wants me to be going.  I am coming to realize that I need to stop ruling things out and truly, 100% depend on Him and trust Him.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to see, but I am realizing how much our culture places incredible importance on making our lives more and more it is crucial to get to a point where you are set and comfortable for the future.....all of this is exactly opposite of how we as Christians should be living.  In comparing my life to the lives of those described in the book I just read I realize how all of the comforts and conveniences of my life continue to create the illusion that I can do everything on my own!  I'm all set!  What reason do I have to rely on God when I can just take care of everything myself and am living in such comfort and luxury compared to others.  Why are we caught up in this tunnel vision of creating a secure future for ourselves rather than living for Christ NOW and relying on Him for the future.  I'm not saying we should be irresponsible and not consider the future, spend every last penny and live in a box.  I'm just saying I've begun to re-examine what I actually need and where I'm putting my security.  I say I don't have money for this or that, but if all I really need is a home, food and clothes and my real joy is in Christ and in serving others....some things need to change.  Why on earth do I not consider that it could very easily have been me that was born in Uganda...or anywhere else for that a slum to a poor family who struggled to even have one meal a day?  Why do I act so privileged, as if I am more deserving of the blessings in my life just because I was born here.  Why do I need five coats and countless pairs of shoes?  Why can't I live without excessive luxury in order to help others who just happened to be born somewhere else and have a different story...not by any choice of their own.  I don't think the God of the universe created a place where there just wasn't enough people to take care of the less fortunate...the widows...the orphans....the poor......I think we've distorted the plan, we've neglected our responsibility.  I've neglected my responsibility. 
        I've done several searches through our house since this adoption journey began, taking all seemingly unnecessary things and putting them aside to be sold.  I thought for sure I'd found every last thing we could do without the last time and then I read that book and my eyes were opened a little wider.....and suddenly there were more things we could do without.  I'm wondering how many times God will have to tug my hand and prompt me...."this way....come on this way...." before I finally get it.  I'm so grateful he hasn't given up on me.  I'm incredibly thankful He has called us to adopt this child, who has already blessed me beyond words in all that I have learned in preparation for their arrival.  I am also relieved that I did not miss what He was saying when He least this time.....and I never want to miss His call again.  My life has held so much more purpose and so much more joy just in these few months of surrendering to His call.  In January when we signed the contracts with our two adoption agencies we had $4,000 in our savings, having just started really trying to save.  We knew that this would be a step of faith, not just financially, but in so many ways and God has proven faithful.  Just six months later we have paid just over $18,000 in adoption fees and still have about $2000 in our savings.  God doesn't ask us to follow Him and then leave us to fend for ourselves.  He is who He says He is and He does what He promises to do!  I hope that you will experience the fullness of life with Him....follow Him wherever "this way" may be for you!

         1 John 5:14-15 - This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.  And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of Him.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

God of the Impossible

        I have just finished reading the book "Kisses from Katie," and although I sometimes passionalely reccomend books, I would recommend this above all others, second only to the bible.  It is truly a humbling and convicting example of Christ's love being lived out in a very real way.  So much of what God has been teaching me through this adoption process about His call to care for the orphans, the widows, the less fortunate, is echoed in this book.....times a million.  It seems that this young woman, who so willingly gave up everything to live and serve the people of Uganda, is doing something so extreme, so extraordinary.  And while I had those thoughts time and time again as I read her story....I also kept being reminded that maybe this should not be so....maybe it shouldn't be so hard to conceive!  This book helped me to make sense of some things I have been feeling......sometimes it's easy to hear "what a great thing we're doing" and to view this adoption as a wonderful gift to this child, and a very difficult and costly process that we are willing to endure.  What I have come to understand is that we are simply ordinary people, choosing to respond in obedience to one of many of the things Jesus commands us to do.....we are just doing what we should be doing.  I'll be the first to admit that this seemed like a radical idea when we first started to research and consider it.  But why?!  Jesus commands us time and time again to care for the less fortunate and He often works in ways that don't seem to make sense to us.  I challenge you to read this story of one ordinary girl who said Yes to what God was prompting her to do.  The other amazing truth I have begun to see with more and more clarity in the past couple of years is also echoed in Katie's experiences.....we often try to fight what God is asking of us, but once we relinquish control and live in the center of His will, we can't imagine being anywhere else...and we never want to be anywhere else.  His plans make our lives have purpose and bring joy like nothing else....even when they seem to be the last thing we would plan for ourselves...

       This is a long video, but in the beginning is a short video that details who Katie is and some of what is in her book.....

And here is one journal entry from the book that I just had to share................

One Day....
Sunday February 8, 2009
God of the Impossible

This is my life.  My real life.  People say to me sometimes, "There's no way that is real, right? You do know how to tell a story, though!"  Let me tell you, as I fall onto my bed at the end of the night, I look up at the sky amazed and wonder, "no way is this real right?" Yes. It is.

Even those closest to me sometimes voice their disbelief: "how is that possible?" Most of the time, I really don't believe it either.  Sometimes I pinch myself to make sure I am awake.  I am.  Yes it is happening.  Ten children, then seven who were abandoned. Then four burn victims.  In the last three weeks we have added almost seventy-five children to our program.  When I get ready to serve lunch, I have to take a new head count every day, just to make sure I have the number right.  It's happening.

As I lay in bed in disbelief at the end of another beautifully exhausting day, I marveled with God at the "impossible" things that happen in my life.  And I realized, when have you ever read a story of God's great work that made a lot of sense, a story that didn't seem a little over the top, a little impossible?  Not often.  Radical, extraordinary love just doens't make sense in a fallen world; that doesn't mean it can't happpen.  But it is the very nature of God.

Moses parted the Red Sea, and I bet people thought, "No way this is happening!"  Noah spent 120 years building an ark and I bet people thought he was crazy.  When Joshua went to Jericho, God told him to march around the city once each day for six days and seven times on the seventh day with seven priests blowing trumpets made of rams' horns. I bet Joshua didn't think that made much sense.  I bet Abraham didn't think that it made a whole lot of sense when God asked him to kill the son through whom He had promised to send nations. Jesus told his disciples to pass out five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed over five thousand people and I bet they looked at him like he was crazy!  Later Jesus told Peter to walk to Him on the water through a storm and I know that Peter was afraid.

We read these stories and think they are awesome examples of God's amazing power and love and yet sometimes we don't really believe they could still be possible.  We think that maybe Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Noah, or the disciples had something we don't.  But I don't think that is true; God is the same yesterday, today and always,.  And we are all created in His image. This means that all these impossible things could just as easily happen for us too!  Radical, different, extraordinary....they still exist!

Here is the thing.  I want big things from God.  We want big things from God and then think it's strange when he asks us to build an ark, or feed five thousand, or march around a building for seven days with seven priests blowing trumpets made from rams' horns.  I am asking for big things from God.  Big things like a van I can take my whole fmaily to church in and a house with ten showers.  Bigger things like 147 million orphaned children in the world to each have a mommy who knows what they like for dinner.  So really, I am not surprised at the craziness of my life.  Every morning, as I wake up with some impossible task in front of me, I know that God will meet it with impossible strength and love.  I serve the God who used Moses, a murderer, to part the Red Sea; a God who let Peter, who would deny him, walk on water.  A God who looks at me, in all my fallen weakness and says, "you can do the impossible."