Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mary: An ordinary girl, with extraordinary faith

Wow...quite some time has passed since I have found time to blog. Not much new on the adoption front. We finally have our appointment for the first portion of our home study next week. I am relieved that we are finally moving forward!! The next few blogs I write I hope to be about the Christmas season. I love Christmas. I love the bright lights, the flurries in the air, the joyous Christmas music, the time spent with family and friends and most of all, the true meaning of Christmas-celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Christmas is a season of miracles and the greatest miracle of all-the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary.

 I was pondering about Mary yesterday as I read the nativity story in the book of Luke. I imagine Mary to be a young, pure and simple girl excited to be on the threshold of a new adventure in life-marriage to Joseph. She probably grew up hearing all her life of the coming Savior to the world. Never in her mind had she imagined that she would be the one chosen to carry the Messiah. She must have had an intimate relationship with God and an unshakeable faith for her to respond with excitement instead of fear. If I had been in her situation, I can only imagine the thoughts running through my head. "What will everyone think of me? What will happen to my upcoming marriage? How can this be happening to me?" But Mary's concerns were not inward. She did not concern herself with what others would think of her. She did not worry about her marriage,  or the possibility that she could be stoned for her "sins"; instead, she praised the Lord for His marvoulus works. She didn't worry about how the course of her personal life would be different, but instead she ecstatically took the path that God mapped out for her, realizing that what God had for her was bigger than herself. God used Mary to change the very course of history.

I can't help but wonder what God wants to do through you and through me. He doesn't always work through us in orthodox ways; we cannot put Him in a box and the path He takes us on is not always smooth sailing (though it has been carefully mapped out!)  If you will listen to His voice, He may change the course of your life and the course of history in an instant.  He may ask you to become a missionary to take His Gospel all over the world. He may ask you to give more money than you think you could possibly make in a year. He may ask you to adopt a child, to open a homeless shelter. He may ask you to feed orphans, minister to the elderly, or pray for hours in intercession. How will you answer when God asks you to do something unimaginable and unthinkable that may change the course of your life forever? Will you respond in fear, in trepidation? Will you worry about what others think? Or will you respond with joy, able to see the bigger picture? I pray that God will give me, an ordinary girl, extraordinary faith to respond to His will in my life, even if His plans for me are not what I expected.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lesson in Waiting...and waiting...

Nobody likes to wait. Waiting at the doctor's office seems like such a waste of time. Waiting in line; waiting in traffic; waiting to hear a doctor's report; waiting for a new baby to get here; none of these things are fun. One of the fruits of the spirit is patience. I guess God is trying to teach me patience on a whole new level. We got word today regarding Mission 1:27....more waiting at LEAST until January or February to see if we get national approval. We got word on our home study....more waiting at least another week or two while the new area director is in training-- and all this waiting is coming before the acutal waiting for our referral! So I guess for now, God is trying to teach us a lesson in waiting...Please, Lord, let me learn it quickly! I am tired of waiting!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Giving Challenge-You Can't Outgive God!

Several months ago, God issued a giving challenge to me and my husband that has changed my life forever. We were at a missions banquet for Speed the Light and Missionary David Grant said something that absolutely BLEW ME AWAY!  He said that he gives 50% of his personal income back into missions.  Here was someone whose entire life was devoted to living, going and telling the world about Christ and he gave one half of his money back into ministry. One glance at my own giving record and I could see that I was barely giving above my 10% tithe. Sure, occassionally, I would give to a special project or donate to Speed the Light, but never on a consistent basis would I give out of my own pocket above what was required of me. God spoke very clearly to my heart about what we were supposed to do. He told me we were to take 100% of the money we were paying for Natalie's Christian education and put it into missions. He promised me if we did this, He would take care of our kids at public school. This was a challenge for me; you see, I had already figured on that money going to be used for other purposes. But God had other plans. He confirmed this with my husband and together we decided to take God's giving challenge for our lives. About that same time God told us to step out in faith and begin the adoption process. Now in my thinking, I was wondering why God had us give that money away when the cost of adoption was so much. Wouldn't He want us to put that money toward our adoption? But following God's clear voice, we gave as He directed. And I have to say, these past few months I have been amazed by God's faithfulness to us! Our kids have wonderful teachers and they love their school. We have had over $2,000 given toward our adoption and we have had the priviledge to be a part of some wonderful ministries including the following: Project Rescue, a ministry to young girls who have been sold into the sex slave; we have added a missionary to our monthly giving at our church; we have been giving to Speed the Light on a monthly basis...and I cannot wait to give more! It is so exciting to be a part of what God is doing in and through these ministries.

I believe God is asking His people to take the giving challenge. The giving challenge is a personal challenge God has for you. First of all, if you are not giving your 10% tithe, God says in His word that we are to give 10%.  Trust me, He will take care of you if you will obey Him in this. Secondly, He is asking His people to give above and beyond their tithe. For our family it was about an additional 5% of our income. For others it may be an additional $15 per month or 2% of your salary or maybe for some even 50% of your income....and I encourage you to examine your giving often. As God blesses you, keep giving more--You can NEVER outgive God!

Here's a list of some awesome ministries you could give to above your tithe (your 10% should go to your local church body.)

Project Rescue: a ministry to girls or women who have been sold into sexual slavery. http://www.projectrescue.com/
Assemblies of God Family Services Agency: a children's home, a maternity home and much more. http://www.agfamilyservices.org/
A brand new ministry near and dear to my heart (The next one I am going to make a pledge to support!)
Mission 1:27- An adoption and orphan care ministry, meeting special project needs of children's homes around the world. http://www.mission127.com/.
You could "adopt" a child through Latin American Childcare ministries (another thing I want to do!) For around $30 per month you can help with the basic necessities for a child who has nothing. http://www.latinamericanchildcare.org/.
Speed the Light- a ministry devoted to providing vehicles, media equipment and sound equipment to missionaries around the world. http://www.stl.org/

These are just a few ministries which I know are personally sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray about what God is asking you do to and then act in obedience! God will bless you in ways you cannot even imagine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mission of Mission 1:27

Wow, it's been a while since my last post. Time has slipped by, with not much happening on the adoption front. We are in the waiting game, before the REAL waiting has even started. We are waiting for our psychologist to finish up his reports before we can start our homestudy. So today I want to write a little bit about Mission 1:27, the ministry birthed in our hearts for the orphans of the world. As my husband and I started on our adoption journey, our hearts were broken by the great need in our world and by the lack of churches and Christians reaching out to meet these needs.  In our research for adoption we discovered there are 147 million orphans around the world, and millions more children who live in complete poverty, with barely one meal a day. The more we researched, the more we found misionaries and ministries in the Assemblies of God reaching children around the world, but needing funds for many of the projects. Projects such as: feeding hundreds of children, providing winter coats for those with none, giving scholarships for children to go to school or providing funds for medical needs for children who cannot afford medical care.  There are many churches and people who would be willing to help with these projects if they only knew the desperate needs. We also discovered that many people in the Assemblies of God would be interested in adopting, but our Fellowship has no formal place to find information on adoption. From this discovery, along with lots of prayer and discussion with several others in our church, an idea was formed in our hearts. We call it Mission 1:27, based on the Scripture James 1:27.

Our mission is twofold: to encourage churches or individuals to become involved with orphan care ministry by partnering with our missionaries throughout the world to reach the children in need and also to provide adoption information and resources for those interested in adoption.

God cares for the children of the world. He sees their hunger and feels their pain. He wants us to do the same. God has blessed us for more than our own pleasure. He has blessed us so we can use our resources to help others. So think about it and do something to help. Start an orphan care ministry in your church. Adopt a child through Latin American Child Care. (It's only about $30 per month!)  Give to Mission 1:27. Do something to change this world. Show God's love by changing a child's life. If you want more information on Mission 1:27, please contact me or my husband at info@mission127.com. We have a passion and a desire to help children throughout the world through this ministry, but we need your help.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"152 Insights into my soul"

I had one of those moments today: totally, completely, uncomfortable, out of my element and wishing I was anywhere but sitting in the psychologist's office. The Philippines requires both parents to take two psychological exams and then meet with the psychologist to go over the results. Staring at the written analysis, it was eerily accurate. I don't know if I have ever had anyone read me so clearly, and it made me feel very exposed. I felt like the girl from "You've Got Mail" ---"152 insights into my soul!" Oh, the things we do for our children! Now, just a few more hours of adoption training, waiting for our final psychologist report, raise another $1,000 or so, fill out several more stacks of paperwork, and we'll be ready for our homestudy. This adoption process is much more emotionally and physically draining than I ever imagined. Please pray with me for strength, finances, and especially for our little boy or girl who is somewhere in an orphanage or children's home tonight.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting children

Tonight I decided to look through the list of waiting children on the special link of our agency's website. The little faces cried out to me, begging me to adopt them. It is so difficult to see their faces, read their stories and wonder if any of them will find forever homes. There are a few on there from the Philippines, which we requested more information about.  What makes me so sad, is that many of those children will never find a forever home or be a part of a family. I pray that God will speak to many families about considering adoption of a waiting child. These children need to find the love of Jesus. They need to find the love of parents. Many of them were abandoned in the streets by moms, dads, aunts or uncles because they couldn't take care of them. Many of them are completely orphaned, with no mom or dad alive at all. Many of them will end up back on the streets when they reach a certain age, with no means to support themselves. What better way to show them the love of Christ than by taking them in as your own?  As I look at each little face, each one loved by the Heavenly Father, I pray for them, asking God to give them someone who will show them His love. I also continue to pray about Mission 1:27, the orphan care ministry which God has birthed in our hearts through this adoption process.  I pray that God will use this ministry to touch millions of orphans throughout this world. And I especially pray for the child He has for our family--for God's protection, care and love to surround him or her even now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wow! Another step closer!

Wow! That is about all I can say! We recieved another check today toward our adoption costs--$600. I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness and by people's kindness. This check was from someone we hardly know, but they have adopted two children and they understand where we are coming from! Thank you so much! I really believe that God must want this child to come home to us soon. We are planning on adopting a child between the ages of 4 and 6, so I can't help but wonder where he or she is today and how he or she is being cared for. Does he or she have enough food, clothes or clean water? Does he or she have someone to hug and say "I love you?" Is he or she in a safe place? I  am praying for God to protect our little one and send someone to care for him or her until we can bring him or her home to be a part of our family. I really just want to get through all these piles of paperwork for our dossier and get our homestudy done. Seeing the money come in confirms it to me that God is in this and He is going to provide the way. With every check that comes in, we are one step closer. From what I can figure, we still need about $1,200 for the completion of the homestudy, the first $200 in country fees and the filing of the intial paperwork with the government. Thank you so much to everyone for their prayers and financial donations to help bring our child home from the orphanage!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Praising God for Miracle #1!

I'm dancin' a jig, I'm shoutin' from the rooftops, I'm so excited! My husband called me today and said we recieved a donation from a relative for $800 toward our adoption! When we mailed out those letters, my expectations were low. I figured if only 10 or 15 people sent in a donation for an average of $50, we MIGHT end up with between $500 or $1,000, now here we already have $800 and have already recieved a few other dontations! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, to everyone who has donated!

 Just last night, as we were looking at our dossier and home study paperwork, I noticed that one of the next things we have to file is a government form that costs $670 and our FBI fingerprinting that cost $80 each--for a total of $830! God has provided the amount we need, JUST IN TIME!!! Wow! We serve an amazing God! I can't thank you enough for giving what God lays on your heart to give! It means so much to us because we can't do this alone. The next big cost is only a couple months away, our home study fees (I can't remember the exact cost, but I think it is around $1,500.00) and $200 toward the country fee.After we complete our home study and pay those fees, we will be eligible for many more grants and other funding. I'm praising God today for what I am calling "Miracle #1" of this adoption journey. I can't wait to see what other miracles are waiting in the days and weeks ahead!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

These Autumn Days

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the cool crisp days, the swirl of leaves in the air, and the smell of apples. The changing colors of the leaves on the trees paint a portrait so perfect and unique every day.  One of my favorite drinks is the pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks with its creamy whipped topping mixed with nutmeg and cinnamon. It is a good thing there is not a Starbucks on my way into work; I am sure I would not be able to resist the temptation! I savor homemade soups and stop in often at Panera bread for my favorite chicken and wild rice soup, which I just can't seem to make at home. I enjoy watching the kids play in the leaves and going for walks as a family. I love the pumpkin patch, God's Creation party, which we put on for children every October at our church, and at the end of Fall, the very best meal of the year--Thanksgiving! These Autumn days I am wondering....where is my little Filipino child? Is he or she well taken care of? I am praying that he or she is in a safe place, sheltered, and well cared for. I am praying that possibly, by some miracle, next Autumn, he or she will be here with us, joining in all the family fun. *Sigh* I guess I better get to work on the on-line adoption classes and the dossier paperwork, taking me one step closer to our special "gotcha day" when we bring our little one home to be a part of our family forever!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trust in the Lord!

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go, he's the one who will keep you on track." Prov. 3:5-6 The Message

Trust is a difficult thing. Sometimes, when times get rough, we begin to second guess ourselves and our ability to hear from God. It's not that we don't trust in God, but we wonder if we heard from Him correctly and if we are really on the right path. We often view the center of God's will as the 'perfect' place to be in that everything will be smooth, easy, and beautiful. While being in the center of God's will for your life is the "perfect" place to be, it doesn't always mean there will be no bumps in the road. God's will for Jesus' life was not easy. God's plan was for His very own son to die on the cross, a horrible wicked death; however, His ultimate plan was resurrection and power over the grip of sin--Victory! If Jesus had not trusted God the Father and continued in the path of His purpose through death on the cross, we would never know grace and forgiveness for our sins.

Sometimes, we walk through difficult times and we wonder if we are on the right path at all. The verse above states, "Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track." If you are listening for God's voice and you know you are in His will, don't second guess Him. You might hit rough times; finances might be tight (or non-existant!), but He will provide for ALL your needs! We cannot figure out the mind of God and His answers to our prayers may not be the way we expect them, but He will take care of His people if we will trust Him and follow His voice.

I know He has called us to adopt and we will take one step at a time. As long as we are following God's will, I beleive He will make a way.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Faith and Fundraising

When my husband and I first began talking about adopting, the one thing that made me balk was the money. I was not worried about adding another child to the family and the expenses involved in that, but I was worried about the cost of the actual process. Adoption from a foriegn country is not cheap!  I take care of paying the bills in our household, and money (or the lack of it!) is always somewhat stressful for me. As we prayed about it, we felt like it was time to step out in faith and begin the process. There are grants and loans and all sorts of things to help with the funding; however there are many costs that come before you can even apply for assistance. There are doctor's appointments, FBI fingerprinting, passports, required adoption classes, and the home study, all adding up to several thousand dollars. At the same time we decided to step out in faith and start the adoption process, we also felt impressed to give a generous amount of money in monthly support to several missions projects above our tithe. When God asks you to do something, He will always bless your obedience. While I don't know where the money will come from for the adoption, I know that God is faithful. He will not ask us to do something without providing the means to accomplish it.

So, the fundraising begins. We are sending out letters to many friends and family members, I have entered a blog contest, and we are selling things on e-bay. We are asking all our friends and family to support us especially in prayer; however, if God leads you to be a part of helping us financially, we would greatly appreciate it. You never know how God might use you to be a part of our adoption miracle!

PS. I have added a link for donations through paypal, or you can mail donations in to the adoption fund set up at our church if you would like to receive tax giving credit: Mission 127 Adoption Fund; 10710 Taylorsville Road; Louisville, KY 40299.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dare to Be

Last night during worship at our youth group, I felt God speak to my heart."Dare to be the woman I have created you to be. Dare to follow the dreams I've placed in your heart." While this message was spoken directly to me, I began to ponder the bigger picture. What if the church dared to become who God has created them to be? What would the church look like? So many Christians are paralyzed by insecurities, fear of failure and guilt from the past. So many who call themselves Christians are sitting in churches, indifferent to a lost and dying world, going through the motions. God has called us to live a life full of vitality, generosity and confidence in Him. What would happen if we chased the dreams God has put in our hearts, so deep in our hearts that maybe we haven't even shared them with anyone else? I believe we would be vibrant, undeniable, unstoppable world changers for Christ. We would help the poor, care for the orphan, give to the needy, pray for the sick, love one another and have compassion for the lost. We would meet the needs of the lost physically and bring them hope spiritually,

God is a God of creativity. He has made you to be exactly what He wants you to be and He has a specific purpose for your life. No one else can do what He has called you to do or be who He called you to be. Chase the God-given dreams in your heart. Become the man or woman God has created you to be. God is asking many of us to do more, to go farther in our giving of our time and money. To trust Him to provide if we obey. Speed the Light started out as a dream and now provides millions of dollars worth of vehicles and media equipment to missionaries around the world. Lillian Trasher started out with a dream, and even though she is gone, her ministry to orphans thrives today. God is daring you today to trust Him enough to shake off your insecurities, step beyond your fears, resist the temptation of sin and take a journey He has mapped out just for you. Will you dare to become the man or woman He has called you to be? Will you dare to follow His plan for your life?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Adoption--The very heart of God

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had an interest in adoption. It started out because I wanted a little sister. I remember begging my parents to adopt a little girl, so I could have a sister.  A few months after I got married, God answered my prayer. My parents adopted not one, but two girls.  God doesn't always answer prayers in our timing!

Throughout my life, God has spoken to me about adopting. I remember going on a missions trip as a teenager. We went to a couple orphanages in Romania. My heart broke as I saw those little babies. The workers were few and worn out. There was no way they could physically take care of all the children in their orphanage. I wanted to take every one of the children home. I had to walk away and leave them there, but God planted a seed in my heart.

Over the past year or so, God has revealed to me how His very heart is reflected through adoption. He says in His word that we are adopted as His sons and daughters. We are grafted into the family of God. I know He is talking about a spiritual adoption, but stop and think about it. What if you had never been adopted into God's family? What if God had never taken you into His family as His very own daughter or son? Where would you be right now?

There are so many children out there who need a family. If they are not adopted, most of them will end up in the streets, begging for food, or as prostitutes, because they have no other way to make a living. Many of them will end up dead before they turn 18. What if you could make a difference in a child's life through adoption? Not only could you save them physically, but you could give them a chance to hear and see the love of God. I have read story after story of how God has asked families to reach out and adopt and how He has changed not only the life of the child, but the life of the entire family and even community. There is one church congregation, I believe it is in Texas, who has adopted over 200 children. What a picture of God's love and grace! I know God has not asked everyone to adopt a child, but I believe there are many Christian families whom God is tugging at your heart. Will you become a reflection of God's love to a child through the wonderful gift of adoption? If God is not asking you to adopt a child, is He asking you to help someone who is? Is He calling you to sponsor a child in need? Is He asking you to go on a missions trip? To provide supplies for an orphanage? God's very heart is for the lonely, abandoned, helpless and lost. What is He asking you to do? Take a step of faith and come closer to the heart of God.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The journey--the very beginning

Several people have seen my first blog post and asked me the question, "Where are you in the adoption process?" In answer, we have really only just begun and the journey ahead is long. In our case, it will  likely be two years or more before we take the 24 hour flight to the Phillipines and we become our child's "forever" family. In the mean time, we gather paperwork, have physicals done, go to training, complete a home study and gather more paperwork for our dossier---and pray. Pray for strength, pray for our unknown child,  and pray for finances. We are taking some very big steps of faith. Honestly, adopting a child is expensive and we don't have the money; thankfully, we serve the one and only God who can and will provide for our needs.  Though this journey has only just begun, I feel God drawing me closer to Him and His heart for the lost, abandoned and abused. He says,  "Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight." (James 1:27 --Message)  I can hardly look at the pictures of the "waiting" children without tearing up. So many of them will never know the love of a mommy or daddy or the love of our Heavenly Father. While I know our family can't reach them all, God has called us to reach one and we will take this journey of faith to do what He has called us to do.

Please join this blog, as I will be sharing some of the things God is teaching me throughout this experience and I am sure I will have some financial miracles to share! I am expecting God to provide in awsome ways!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's official! I'm an international momma to be!

Well, I guess it's official! Darren and I are expecting a new member of the family. No, I am not pregnant, so don't start any rumors. We have started the process of adopting a child from the Phillipines. After several months of gathering paperwork, filling out forms, and today enduring a 2 hour psychological examination, we are well on our way to begin the home study process. It is overwhelming and exhilerating all at the same time. I've decided to start a blog to share our journey with friends, family and anyone interested in adopting. I will be writing over the next several months about our experience and I invite you to join us on our journey. Please pray for us, as I know it will not always be easy. I pray as you read what I write that you will be stirred into action for the millions of orphans throughout the world. God may not ask you to adopt a child, but He may ask you to support someone else who is adopting, or to go on a missions trip, or to start an orphan care ministry in your church. God's heart is for the orphans, the helpless and abused. I pray as you join me in this journey, God will challenge you in some way to become involved.