Monday, October 31, 2011

What Can You Do?

Over the last few years, I have had the honor and privilege of walking with several families through the adoption and foster care process.  Most of these have been international adoptions for children with special needs. Some have been foster care situations.  Some have been easier than others.  This prompted me to ask - are we also called to adopt? 

After much prayer and searching, I can honestly tell you that God has not called our family to adopt - domestically or internationally.  He has, however, called us to be a part of adoption. 

I know many of you have heard all you want to hear about adoption.  You are tired of people talking about it, because frankly, you were not called to adopt either.  And if you were not called to adopt, why do we have to keep going over this?  Because He has called you to be a part as well.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

James 1:27  This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

If you are to be a part, what CAN you do?
Adoption is a process and there are many things you can do to help and support those that are called to adopt.
1. Pray.  This is probably the biggest and most important thing you can do for those going through this process.  Pray for wisdom to get through the paperwork.  Pray for all members of their family to understand why they are doing this.  Pray for endurance - for some this is a llloooonnnggg process.  Pray for comfort - things don't always go as we have planned.  Pray for God's perfect timing for adding a new member to their family.  Pray for them to adjust and bond quickly to having a new family member.  Pray for that waiting child - that he or she would feel God's love and comfort and somehow know that his or her forever family is on their way.

2. Serve.  There are many ways you can serve adopting families.  Bring meals to them - just like having a new baby, they have a new family member that needs their love and attention more than anything right now.  Not having to fix a meal would be a burden released.  This could even come in the form of making a meal and freezing it - then delivering it during their waiting or traveling time so they can fix something on their own time table.  Have a "Welcome Home" party or shower.  Families may not really know what they need until they get that child home.  Having a get together, formal or informal, is a great way to support these families.  Offer to take the other kids for a while - take them to lunch with your family or on a playdate.  This will give mom and dad some one on one time with their new child.

3. Give.  Even though domestic adoptions don't have the high costs associated with them that international adoptions do, there will still be some needs come up that the family might or might not have anticipated.  A few extra dollars here and there would be a great help to these families.  You might even consider a gift card to a restaurant, Target, or WalMart.  International adoptions usually have a VERY high financial cost and most families have stepped out in faith that God will provide the funds to proceed.  God does provide - through people like you giving a few dollars.  Support their fundraising efforts.  Spread the word through social media sights and email.  Everyone giving a little will help each person reach their goal.

4.  Love, Accept, and Support.  Whether or not you agree with or understand a family's decision or call to adopt is not really important.  God has called you to love.  Love that family.  Love that child.  Accept their decision as their call from God - because it is their call.  Support them and ask them how you can help.  Show an interest in the process and prepare to be blessed!

As we head into November and National Adoption Month, I challenge you to look around and find ways you can support those who are called to adopt.  It might be a card to let them know you are praying for them.  It might be an encouraging word as you pass in the hall at church.  It might be bringing them a meal.  Whatever you can do, make a difference for that family today!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Self Condemn or Serve Christ

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Last week I wrote on my personal blog that there are times when I feel like I am just not good enough. I'm not a good enough Mom, friend, evangelist, cook. You name it. My shortcomings could change daily, but what is steadfast is the opportunity to fall into a rut of self condemnation.

The verse says it was EVIDENT that Peter and John were uneducated and common. Like, people noticed! Peter and John could very easily have fallen into the trap of self condemnation which would have stifled their voices, but they didn't. And God used them. Greatly. How was this possible? They had been with Jesus.

We don't have to be free from failures, or feel that we need to have all of the answers to be used by God. We shouldn't succumb to self condemnation and deny God the opportunity to use us for His glory- even if that means people might notice our shortcomings! How is this possible? All we really need to do is just be with Jesus.

Some additional food for thought:
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

"God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold, and loving, and sensible.
2 Timothy 1:7

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coming November 4th & 5th

The Fall Women's Retreat is quickly approaching.  This years speaker is Devi Titus.  For more info on how to attend this event go here.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Glory Days

I am writing this on Monday morning. The kids are at school. My husband is at work. The dog is laying at my feet. And I have surveyed the damage of a weekend at home together. Visions of an F5 tornado come to mind as I look around at the mess in my midst. With a sigh, I decide to sit down and enjoy a second cup of coffee before taking on the day. "It's Monday," I think to myself with a smile.

I'm a mom. Most days, you will find me running errands, folding laundry, settling disputes between my kids and chauffeuring them from place to place. After that, I take on the additional tasks of homework, dinner, and bedtime. Whew! It makes me a bit tired just writing all that down! On the surface, these don't exactly appear to be my "glory days". I am not running for office. I am not powerfully influential. I don't receive a paycheck for the work that I do each day. In fact, if I am foolish enough to let the world define my worth, I might feel pretty insignificant.

However, that would be a short-sighted mistake on my part. For God wants me to look at the reach of my life with an eternal perspective. His perspective. He wants me to build a lasting legacy that points to Him in everything I set myself to do. In that, my life brings him glory. Both the menial tasks that fill the hours of my busy days, and the bigger moments that shape and mold the hearts of my children, are opportunities for me to glorify my Heavenly Father.

As a mother of three, and a woman of faith, I have tremendous influence on tomorrow. The way I interact today will shape and mold the hearts of my children forevermore. For a piece of me goes with my kids wherever they may go, both today and far into the future. If I am to see God glorified in a task this big, my heart must be aligned with His. Daily, I must remember that I am the heart of this home. In the quiet of the post morning crazies. In the middle of the afternoon chaos. In the midst of the evening grumpies. I must remember...these are my "glory days".

This is my legacy. Therefore, I must live well, for little eyes are watching and learning in everything I choose to do. It's true for us all. As women of faith, we must remember that we are building tomorrow in what we choose to do today. So, ladies, "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17 NIV) These, are in fact, glory days.

Whether you are serving at home or your responsibilities take you further into the world, you are shaping the future. So, get up. Finish your coffee. And then confront the day with passion and purpose. Believe me, I know it is hard to get too excited about laundry, coupons, or sibling squabbles. Consider this is your chance to build a legacy. So, be the woman God made you to be, smile knowingly to yourself, and then "do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

How God used Africa to change our family...

My husband and I were reflecting recently on how God works.  How He uses places, things, change us.  We have no idea what is going on at the time, but it is pretty great to look back and see what He did.  And why would we go through it, then keep it all to ourselves???  That would be pretty here goes.  :)

Our Uganda story started in 2008 when Josh (firefighter/paramedic, all around everyone’s favorite, nice, funny, sweet guy) felt lead to go on his first mission trip.  Our family was struggling at the time…holding tight to the promises we made to one another, but not enjoying life together.  When I heard that Josh felt lead to go to Uganda…I thought…maybe God would wreck him while he is there.  Not because I didn’t love him, but because I knew he needed to be broken.  We both did…though I wasn’t aware of my need for brokenness at the time.  My hope was that Josh would leave for Uganda and come back a different man.  I wanted it to happen in 2 weeks.  Ha!  When he returned some kind of different, but the same person…I was heart broken.  Though Uganda affected him in a big way his first time there... it wasn’t the way I wanted.  He was able to work with the hospitals and people of Uganda and make a difference in their lives.  It changed him.  But…what we didn’t realize at the time was that the change taking place was only the beginning of a very long, broken, and beautiful journey. 
It was the very next month after he returned that I decided I could no longer live with his alcoholism.  It wasn’t good for our family…and I was done fighting.  So, I hired a lawyer and pursued a divorce I said I never would pursue.  The decision wasn’t one that I took lightly.  I had wanted out for years to be honest.  I struggled with it and fought with it…but felt like it was what needed to be done.  I prayed and pleaded with God and felt like the only way we could reconcile our marriage was if he went to treatment and got real help.  Did I think he would do that?  Of course not!!!  Was I going to tell him that if he went, then I would stay???  Of course not!!!
So, when he called me a couple weeks later to tell me that he had checked himself into an inpatient rehab facility…I was pretty irritated.  I was finally out!  But, I was reminded of my promise to God…and forced myself to be thankful…thinking it wouldn’t last.  When Josh asked me to come to a family session with his counselor, I forced myself to do it.  And when I got there…I saw a different person.  A broken person.  One who really wanted to change and one who felt God move in his life.  A man who was fighting for his life…who wanted to do any and everything he could for GOD and HIMSELF first.  Part of me knew he was different the first time I saw him, but I didn’t want to seem foolish so I told myself to be cautious.  Reluctantly, week after week, I visited with our little girl.  And, week after week I saw the same, new, broken man.  So…I started to take my focus off of him and place it on myself.  What I saw was a broken woman.  One who needed help just as badly. 
After lots of work, prayer, growth, and pain…I was able to surrender my life to the Lord.  A God that I knew very well…and had walked with for a long time prior.  But, until then…He was a God that I was afraid to trust.  I lived life differently now.
After 3 months of treatment, Josh was ready to join the “real world” and get back to work.  He moved into an apartment and we started dating again.  It was so much fun!  Like falling in love with him for the first time.  With counsel and lots of prayer, we renewed our vows on the day he celebrated one year of sobriety.  Josh struggled with the decision to miss going to Uganda again at about the same time.  He felt like the Lord was tugging at him to go back, but he had just gotten hired on with a new fire department and we had a lot of rebuilding to do, so he stayed home and we spent more time together as a family…the 3 of us.  It was a beautiful thing!
With more work, counsel, prayer, and growth we came to realize that our lives were a direct result of the grace of a powerful, amazing, beautiful God.  Slowly, but surely, we lived as much for Him as we could.  And we started to feel called by Him to move forward with growing our family.  After lots of discussion (and more prayer), we decided that the way we would do this is through adoption.  I felt like God wanted us to adopt from another country.  Josh was very sure that it was from our own.  So we prayed for guidance.  And then it was time for the Uganda trip again.  God made it very clear that He wanted Josh to go this time around.  And we did all that we could to make sure it happened.  When he left, he was so excited to see it through his new eyes.  And I like to think that God was too. 
When he left I started to pray.  Not really sure what it was for…but I knew that He had something for him.  When the phone rang and I was literally journaling prayers for Josh…I was awestruck.  I wrote the prayer “Move in Josh so much that he won’t be able to deny what you have for him.”  Not a minute after I put the period on the sentence, the phone rang.  It was Josh…standing at Sanyu Babies Home in Uganda…letting me know that the Lord told him clearly that our next child was in Uganda.  And I knew that he was right!  It was exactly what I thought too!
It wasn’t 4 months later and we were standing in that same babies home preparing to bring our son, Owen, home.  This 4 months was full of twists and turns, pain, fear, trust, and so many other emotions.  God made it crystal clear that Owen was our son and that he always intended it to be this way. 
After my own experience in Uganda…and Josh’s 3 trips…it’s as if a part of our hearts reside there.  We have grown to LOVE this country and it’s people.  Not only is our son from there…but we truly believe that God has used this place to teach us things that we could not have learned anywhere else.  We both hope to go back soon.  We collect medical supplies and ship them to the people of Uganda…to help the people who have helped us so much more than we could ever give them. 
So, as you can probably see…in 2011…our hearts are still being changed and effected by Uganda.  It will forever be a part of our family and our hearts.  We can’t wait for the day we get to take our whole family (whatever that may look like) to this place that has blessed us so much.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Sometimes "church" doesn't happen at church. Tonight I was fortunate enough to go for a run/walk by myself while my husband and the kids were at church (as in the physical building). I had planned to meet a friend, but she wasn't feeling well, and I knew I needed the exercise. So, I went--alone. And really, I think I was a little grumpy about it. I prefer to walk with someone because it makes the time go by so much faster, and I was dreading doing the miles by myself. But, get this, I wasn't alone. You know why? Because as I went around the lake, God joined me. (I mean, really, He was there all along, but I let the world get out of the way enough to allow Him in.)

He spoke to my heart, and though it isn't always easy to hear, I listened. I felt Him asking who I depended on. My thoughts turned to the book I'm reading, Kisses From Katie (which I highly recommend by the way). In the book, Katie talks about returning to America for 4 months after having lived in Uganda for a year. She struggles with her time back in the States, and one of the key things she realizes is how in Uganda everything she did was dependent on the Lord. However, in America, she depended much on herself or those around her. We have so much stuff that it can get in the way of God.

After reading that yesterday, I saw the Truth in my own life today. I thought about how when I am sad, I will oftentimes seek out a friend. I thought about how often I depend on my happiness rather than the joy that is found in Christ alone. I thought about how I depend on myself to get things done rather than relying on the Holy Spirit who lives in me. And though I don't think God calls us to do this world alone, I do think He wants me to find my strength in Him alone. He longs for me--for us--to get away from the clutter that fills our days and to look to Him. He longs for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He promises to be with us, so why do I sometimes act like I am all alone?

If the only thing Christ ever did for me was die for my sins, I have still received the greatest gift ever given. And yet, He blesses me with so much more than that. Why then do I so often blow off the One who has given me everything I could ever need? Why do I find my worth in my spouse, my children, my friends, my church? The Lord is everything we could ever need and more.

And so, my walk became "church" tonight. God reminded me that I can lean fully on Him. He is my refuge, my strength, my strong tower, my rock, my salvation, my peace, my joy....He is everything I need. He is the only One worthy, and I will choose to rely on Him rather than the temporary things of this world. He is my all in all, and on Him I will depend. Thank you, Jesus!