Friday, March 30, 2012

One Step Closer...

Thank You to everyone that has been following our blogs and supporting our journey.  We appreciate each and every one of you more than you could know.  Because of your help and support we are now ready for the next leg of our journey...our first trip.  We will be traveling to Europe before long to meet our child.  What amazing emotions we have right now.  Actually, the last couple weeks have been quite an amazing journey.  In the span of 48 hours we received news that took us from relief, to joy, to unbearable pain, to confusion, to sadness, to ultimate jubilation, to fear and then finally into the arms of Jesus....yes, all that in 48 hours.   On a Monday, we received word that we were receiving a fairly sizeable grant.  This was an amazing answer to prayer.  As we were basking in the joy of receiving the grant, we received some rather disturbing personal news that was quite saddening and confusing.  We went to bed that night not knowing what to feel.  The next morning, we received THE call we've been waiting for....our first travel date information.  The confusion turned to joy and I found myself telling God that we would deal with the other stuff later.  It was just too much right now.  Well, I think the stress of everything got to me as I had a rather scary medical "episode" in the middle of the night on that Tuesday night.  So again, fear crept into those places where we wanted joy to be.   I told a friend that evening, pastor Jerry, that I honestly found myself being afraid to go to sleep.  He called me at bedtime and we prayed together over the phone.  He commanded satan, in the name of Jesus, to back off.  He prayed for calm and for peace, for it is in our fear that satan finds a foot hold.  He helped me to see past all of the "stuff" and simply allow myself to sink into Jesus.  And you know what?  I slept great that night.  I don't think satan is too happy about us following God's commands to care for one of His children.  I believe it is no coincidence that the upsetting news on Monday night and the medical issue on Tuesday night came just when we were receiving the exciting, but anxious, news of moving forward with our adoption.  Satan uses our fears and anxieties.  He seeks for any way he can to throw us off God's path.  Jerry, I am so thankful for your prayers and your assuring words and re-instilling in me the confidence that I have in Christ, knowing that He is bigger than my junk.  He's bigger than this adoption.  He's bigger than I am, and He's bigger than satan. 
      As I write this, I wonder how many of you have felt that same way recently?  Have you allowed fear and doubt to come in?  Maybe you wanted to apply for a new job but you suddenly found that you were questioning your qualifications.   Maybe you put an offer on a new home and now you can't sleep, feeling sick with the thought that you're stretching your income further than you should.  Maybe you or a loved one are in the midst of a medical issue and you're scared...afraid of bad news...afraid of the unknown...afraid of death.  You certainly don't need to have my experiences to have fear raise its ugly head.  But know this...our God reigns.  Period.  I am not fear.  I am not doubt.  I am not anxiety.  I AM a child of God.  I know that I know that I know that my God is the God of all creation and He watches over me.  He calms me.  He gives me the peace that surpasses all understanding and He knows me.  Wow!!!!  
    So this week, I have claimed it.  I claim that which God has supplied, that we are following His will and we are so excited about what this next phase brings.  I have always been a chronic worrier.  Every little thing would become bigger in my mind and I would get sick to my stomach and fear the worst.  My weaknesses seemed to always pull me down.  Well, there's a reason they are called weaknesses, it's because I'm not very good at them.  Someone once told me to concentrate on my strengths and let God handle my weaknesses.  So we are now concentrating on the strength of stepping out in faith and following Him.
    Let me tell you some of the weaknesses that God has handled.  As I said, I'm a worrier.  I most often have worried about finances.  That is probably because I feel a sense of responsibility to provide for my family while knowing in the back of my mind that I made some poor financial decisions in my young adult life and I never want to go back there again.  So with this adoption process, there are financial responsibilities that are bigger than anything I can handle.  Guess what?  God's got it.  We have received grants so far in the amount of nearly $10,000.  We have had fundraisers that I thought (catch that...I thought) would be successful that really weren't what I expected.  And we've had others that I was skeptical about that turned out quite nice.  I think one of the greatest joys is to see how other people have joined in with us on this journey.  I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had a hard time asking for, or accepting, money from others.  Well when God lays it on someone's heart to help bring one of His children to a forever family, you don't stand in the way of their blessing.  We've had tremendous support from so many people.  One wonderful woman has sent us encouraging notes, notes of prayer, stamps, a little money here and there, and then a large sum that she had prayed diligently about and she was so excited to give and be a part of our journey.  Others had given to an organization that offered us a matching grant.  When I called about the amount that had been given so far, they said it was X number of dollars and 45 cents.  Believe me, I want each and every one of you to know that the 45 cents is every bit as important to us as the larger sum of money or as the $10,000 in grants.  They say it takes a village to raise a child and I know that it takes a lot of "45 cents" to raise the funds.  So from the very bottom of our hearts we want to thank you for blessing our family and for bringing us a step closer to having our child. 
    I still have many things swimming in my mind, but I want to leave you with this thought.  Do not let your circumstances dictate anything about who you are.  I know that I fail at that sometimes, but I have to remind myself that I am a child of God.  I am.  For just two very small words they are certainly very powerful.  Jesus said I am the Son of God.  I am the resurrection and the life.  I am the way the truth and the life.  I am the good shepherd.  I am the true vine.  And Jesus said, "most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am".   Letting go of our fears is not at all easy to do, but can you allow yourself to try to give it over to God?  He'll do amazing things in your life if you just get out of the way and let Him have control.  Can you try?....I am.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What moves you?

Emotions are a funny thing.  You hear people say things such as, "that was hilarious, I needed a good laugh."  Then the same person might say at a later time, "I need a good cry."  I'm not going to get into any kind of biological, physiological, hormonal explanations about emotions.  Basically because I wouldn't have a clue of what I was talking about.  I do, however, know that I want to be moved.  I find myself watching YouTube and being drawn to the "tug at your heartstrings" videos.  Sometimes we even find ourselves watching video of terrible disasters just because the story is so "moving".  Why do you think the news leads off so often with a tear-jerking story?  It's moving and they know that is what will keep the watching public on their channel.  So as we've been in this adoption journey, I've been thinking a lot about being moved.  But in a slightly different way.  Yes, there is certainly emotion in it, but I'm being drawn to move closer to God.  I find myself asking God where He wants me.  I want to be moved, but moved to act in accordance to what He wants of me.  When you get down to it, I think that is the whole reason that I finally jumped on board with this adoption.  And quite frankly, I believe it BETTER be the reason I'm on board.  Because if it was just emotional.....well, we've got problems.
     Think about this for a moment.  Have you ever bought a sports car because the commercial made it look so captivating that you just had to have it?  How about a vacation?  Ever go to Florida because your friends went to Florida and they made the beaches sound so awesome that you just had to experience it for yourself?   Were you still happy with the sports car after you had it awhile?  What about after filling the tank with gas far too often because of the low mileage?  And the vacation.  Oftentimes we have a great time, but sometimes we find ourselves thinking, "this isn't as good as our friends made it sound and it was awfully expensive.  Maybe this was a mistake."   You see, emotions sometimes lead us to poor decisions.  Ever eat a gallon of ice cream to emotionally handle a heartbreak?  You see my point.
     So in our adoption, when I say I want to be moved it is to be moved by the One that created me to have these feelings to begin with.  That is a movement that I want to trust, not my own hormonal reactions.  Now, here's where it gets tricky.  I believe we can be moved to do wonderful things, but I find myself being very confused by the fact that we have to be SO moved to act.  Let me ask you a few questions:  If your brother or sister and their spouse were terribly taken from this world in an accident and left behind a young child, would you take them in?   What if it was a close neighbor that perished with no other family around, would you take that child?   How about someone in the community that was in a tragic car wreck, the whole town talked about it, and the child had no place to go at all?  Would you offer them a room and a loving family?  How about an earthquake in a totally different country that destroys villages, homes, orphanages?  If the children from those orphanages are displaced with nowhere to turn, would you step up and say, "that's terrible.  Yes, we can help.  We'll come to their aid"?   I'm guessing most, if not all of you answered yes to at least one of these questions.  I know that many people joined in when the word was going around about children needing homes after the terrible earthquakes in Haiti.  So many people were willing to come to their aid.  They had seen the devastation on TV and on the internet.  It was terrible.  It was so......emotional.  So why does it take the media blitz of a tragedy, or something that is more "personal" and hits home to make us act?  What, you think it's not tragic enough that 165 million children in the world don't have a family?   Children world wide are longing for someone, anyone, to hold them at night and tell them that they love them.  I know that my children sometimes have bad dreams.  It completely tears my heart out to think about a child waking up with a bad dream, only to discover that the bad dream is based on the reality of their own life, and not having anyone to come sit with them on their bed and tell them it's going to be alright.  Is that in the news papers?  Nope.  Do we see it on the evening news?  Nah, it's not "moving" enough.  It's an everyday occurence in all corners of the world.  Nothing special about that story.  Wake Up People!!!  If being without a family or homeless or abandoned or neglected as children is not tragic enough for you then we are in a sad, sad state. 
    Now please here me, I am not judging.  I struggle all the time with doing the right thing, doing enough, following God's call.  It's not easy.  But how can we know about these tragedies and turn our heads and do nothing?  165 million seems awfully overwhelming.  Surely I can't make a difference.  That would be like trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun.  But if not me, then who?  If not you....who?  Who will step up and say, "you know, I really meant it when I said I'd take in a child after the earthquake.  So if that didn't play out, maybe we can take in another child that just as desperately needs a home."   Dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people responded to the urgency of the situation after the earthquake.  What if we go ahead and act, not waiting on another tragedy?  If we follow God's command to care for orphans and then ask God how to spread that truth to others, how long before the orphan crisis is gone?  165 million....that's a large number.  But I'm a math guy, so let's break it down.  If I adopt and it get's two others to adopt.  And they get two each to adopt and so on and so on, then after a series of 15 relational connections, over 16,000 children would be adopted.  That's the power of God's word spreading through his family of believers.  Can we make a difference?  You bet we can.  We just have to start.  Every mile ever run began with a single step.  Every building ever built starts with a single shovel to break ground.  So how do we start?    That all depends.  The real question is....what's moving you?