Saturday, February 25, 2012

Struggles and Blessings and Friends....Oh My!!

We are currently in the waiting phase of our adoption.  There isn't anything wrong with waiting and it certainly is no criticism of the process, but sometimes waiting is hard.  There is a John Waller song called "While I'm Waiting" that says "While I'm Waiting....I will serve you."   Tonight was an opportunity to serve God and we are so blessed and amazed at how it all turned out.  But let me back up just a bit and tell you how the latter part of the week went.  It was a struggle.  We drove to a town about 25 miles north of us to get a TV antenna.  You see, one of the things that God has been saying to us during this journey is that we have too much stuff.  We are addicted to shows that make us lose our minds while we're watching them.  We walk in the door and gravitate toward the TV.  All too often, our family time is spent together in front of hundreds of channel options (most of which really aren't worth the time).  So we feel that we need to downsize our lives a bit and we are cancelling our cable subscription. Sports Nut will no longer have ESPN.  This fact has troubled our son tremendously.  But what are we teaching our children about having idols before God when it is clear that the TV is an idol in our own home?  It's time to stop.  We got an antenna so that we can get just the few local stations like we had when I was growing up.   Funny, I don't recall feeling like I was deprived back then.  Half a dozen channels seemed like plenty to me.  So here's where the struggles of the week started.  Driving home, something in the car kinda snapped.  The steering wheel, which had formerly been pointed straight up at 12 o'clock, was now pointing at 10:00 o'clock and we were still driving forward.  Then the car began to pull all over the road and it was really difficult to keep it steady, even at 40 mph.  All the way home, I heard the cash register in my head and feared the worst.  Would we fix this car?  Would we have to buy a new one?  We can't get a new one right now, not with everything else.  It won't be looked at until Tuesday, but I went to bed that night with the problem running through my head. 
    The next day, we talked about some medical bills that had come up unexpectedly.  (This started the cash register chiming in my head again.)  And then, I had picked up a couple pieces of mail at home and opened them in the afternoon.  One was the water bill.  It was 4 times its usual amount.  I called the water company and they informed me that the meter reader had noticed that our meter was "spinning like crazy.  You obviously have a leak somewhere."  Gee, thanks for letting us know.  I was getting overwhelmed.   Everything was falling apart in the span of about 20 hours and I couldn't take it.  I went home to try to find the source of the leak, but I felt sick.  The old feelings of inadequacy from past financial issues was beginning to rise up inside of me.  In my head, I heard a saying that I've heard from others...God will not give you more than you can handle.  Usually, it is followed by someone saying "God, I wish you didn't have so much faith in me to handle all of this."   Well you know what?  That saying is wrong.   Dead wrong.  I think it may come from the book of 1 Corinthians where Paul tells us that God "will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."  Sounds similar, but dealing with temptations and dealing with misfortunes is two different things.  I definitely believe that we sometimes get more than we can handle.  This week I felt like it was more than I could handle.  But you know the glory of it all?  It is never...I repeat NE-VER more than what God can handle.  He knows what we are going through.  He doesn't expect us to do it alone.  Not that we should sit back and be slugs and do nothing, but what we do is in His strength, not ours.  So I was able to go to bed last night much more at ease just waiting to see how God was going to work.  That takes care of the "struggles" part of the week.  Tonight, God rewarded us for having faith through the struggles by blessing us immensley through the freinds that He has put in our paths. 
     Michelle and some friends put together a fund raiser.  We were selling necklaces and books to help our adoption and to support Amazima, an organization founded by Katie Davis.  She is the young girl I've written about before that now lives in Uganda and ministers to the people there.  She is also supported by 147 million orphans, an organization that we have partnered with.  We partnered with them to help raise funds for our adoption by selling t-shirts, the necklaces, the books and other items.  Yes, this was to help raise funds for our least that was the only intention when we first contacted them a few months ago.  But this family of adoption, and orphans, and children in need around the world has really started to grow on us.  We had so many people come to the event tonight that just have a heart for children and wanted to help in any way they could.  At one point, I was talking with one of the ladies that helped organize it.  She saw the table of merchandise that was much smaller from all of the sales and commented, "looks like tonight has been a success."  I looked at the table, and found myself telling her, "yes, it has gone well and I'm happy we were able to raise some money.  But it's strange.  This adoption has become so much bigger than us.  It's not about our adoption anymore."  Don't get me wrong, we are very excited to bring our child home.  But it needs to go so much further.  I feel burdened for all of the children that we can't help and we just have to find a way to get the word out and put that passion into the hearts of others.  Our friend looked at me and smiled.  "I know.  I can see the passion that you have and I read it in your blogs.  God will do great things."   So tonight, we were blessed beyond belief.  Blessed by God through our friends, and their friends, and friends of friends....   It was a wonderful evening and a great end to what would otherwise have been a difficult week.  Struggles and Blessings and Friends.  God puts them all in our path.  It's how we deal with them and how we allow God to work through them that matters.  Does God allow more than we can handle?  I believe that He does.  But He's a big God.  Bigger than a busted car, bigger than a leaky pipe....and yes, He is bigger than millions of orphans.  I know He is stirring in the hearts of others.  Are you allow Him to stir in your heart?  Are you listening?  What's holding you back?  Money?...God is bigger.   Fear?...God is Bigger.   Selfishness?....God is Bigger.   I'm learning new each day how much my God is bigger than my circumstances and He blesses me over and over in the process.  Be blessed my friends.  Be blessed by our big God.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Be Still...

Well, here's where we are in the process.  We have all of the paperwork done that needs to be done in the US.  We put all of that paperwork together in one packet which is known as the dossier.  That dossier has been sent to the country where our child is.  Now....we wait.  And it's hard.  We feel there is so much we could be doing.  But we continue to wait.  There is no reason at all to wonder or worry about whether or not everything will be "accepted", but still the anticipation of getting that call that tells us when we can go to meet our child is hard.  Remember being ten years old and having a birthday coming up?  We used to count down the days....2 more weeks....1 more week....5 more days....2 more days...  I think we made it harder on ourselves by wishing so badly that the time was here.  It's like with expectant mothers.  Perhaps your actual due date is still weeks, even months away.  But when you have a dr. appointment where you know you will have the first ultra-sound and it will be the first time that you hear your child's heart beat, it's a hard wait.  I can't wait to give my child a hug and hear his heart beat against mine for the first time.  I'm ready.  I want to go now.  Fortunately we do have some things we can do in the meantime.  We do still have funds to raise.  (Perfect time to mention the 147 million link on this blog's home page to help with our fundraiser).  But even with that, it's not getting us to our child.  As I sit and realize how hard it is to wait, I can't help but think about Psalm 46:10.  "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."   Now I have no problem knowing that He is God.  And what's neat about the latter part of this verse is that He will be exalted among the nations.  Multiple nations.  In our case, we will exalt Him here in the United States and we will exalt him in southeastern Europe when He takes us to our child.  That's really cool.  I know that Michelle and I can't do this ourselves and that God is doing this.  God is making a way for these children.  God is making a way for our child.  He is a loving enough God that He is bringing us along for the ride.  He is gracious enough to give us HIS child.  So we are waiting for God's child to come into our home so that we may raise him to know God more intimately.  To know the very one that created us and brought us out of our own seclusions and became our Father.  To that glorious end, I think I can wait.  But "be still"?....c'mon.  I can't be still.  My mind is always racing about what I need to do next.  What's the next step?  What should we do to prepare to travel?  Is the room ready for another child?  How will we introduce this child to our family and friends?  Do the schools know that we are bringing another child into this community?  Will he learn English quickly enough to be at his age appropriate grade level or will he need to take a step back to have time to learn?  So many things to think about and to prepare to.....WHOA.  Easy Tony.....Be Still.   Ok, Lord.  I hear you.  I know the verse.  Be Still.  But how does sitting around doing nothing and acknowledging that you are who you say you are get anything accomplished?  Be still.  Really? Just give me something to do.  Well, I would imagine that many of you have had similar thoughts when you've faced a tough decision or you've prayed about something and have not yet gotten an answer.  How do you just be still?  I did a little digging and found that the Hebrew word that we translate as "Be Still" is rapah.  Rapah does mean to be still, but as such to abandon or to stop.  It's like God is saying, "Stop!!!  Enough!!!"  "Give it a rest already."   Here is what I hear God saying to me; "Look, I've got this.  You've done your part.  All I ever asked of you was to be willing and to follow the steps laid out before you.  I've got the rest.  Actually, I've had it all the whole way.  I gave Michelle this vision long before you were ready for it.  I brought you along slowly, even allowed you to have doubts, so that when you jumped it would be with both feet.  I closed doors that you THOUGHT you wanted to walk through, just to bring you to where I wanted you and gave you the heart and passion to want it as well.  I've orchestrated everything.  When you went to get your fingerprints and you had a cut on your finger to where they said you would probably have to reschedule, and how they gave it a try but didn't hold out much hope that the computer would read the print, and how it came out perfectly on the first try and they said 'wow, that worked so much better than I imagined' really think that was YOU?  C'mon Tony.  Relax.  I've got this."   Wow, thank you Lord.  Thank you for reminding me that I am your servant and that this entire process is not about me.  So I will wait.  In the the abandonment of my anxiety...I hear God telling me to delve into His word.  To be as into Him as I can be so that I can be into my children the way that a father should be.   Why do I need to spend more time with God during this journey?  Because I want our child here with us.  Because I want our biological children to grow in their love and their knowledge of God.  And if that's what I want, I need to get as close to Him as I can to allow Him to do that for me.  Psalm 37:4, "Rejoice in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."   I'm learing that as my heart desires Him...and Him only...that He will then give me that which pleases me as it brings honor to Him...fatherhood.   Be Still?  I won't be idle, but I will relax.  "Relax", He says, "I've got this.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride.  You won't believe how it will all come together!!!"  Actually Lord, I DO believe.  Thank you for giving us the unwarranted priviledge to love your children and to see you at work.