Thursday, December 19, 2013

When it just doesn't seem to fit.

At the beginning of October, we attended a free informational meeting for CT foster/adopt. We had encountered a booth at the local faire and brought some information home to look through. Domestic wasn't a route we had been really familiar with. From the beginning, I was always drawn to international adoption, though I wasn't sure why. But we both thought it was important to explore the possibility of doing domestic through the state. It was certainly a relief to hear that it would be 100% free for us to adopt through the foster care system, as the financial burden of International had us stressed. So we left that night having filled out a pre-adoptive application.

Logically, it should have felt right. I should have felt peace, because we were in the process of doing what God has asked of us. There are thousands of children in the US in need of a loving family, and obviously they are no less deserving than anyone in any other country. But I felt unsettled. I assumed the feelings would eventually go away. I don't like to make big decisions based on emotions alone, I always try to wait for confirmation from God.

We had our first home visit with a social worker, which went very well. She answered our questions, and seemed to love our family. But I just couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't right. It felt as if we had veered off onto a path headed in the wrong direction; Like we were trying to make something fit that just...didn't.

I prayed about it and still the same feeling remained. So finally, a couple weeks after the home visit, I brought it up to Justin. He seemed to agree with me. We both knew that the only reason we were pursuing domestic vs. international was because of the cost. After some time of talking, we both felt that it's important for us to follow God's lead no matter what that entails. Yes, we would still be caring for orphans if we chose to continue with domestic adoption; however, we only want to be living in God's will, and for us to allow a thing like money to come between us and God's just ridiculous. I know God can move mountains; I've seen it myself through the adoptive families I have had the pleasure of talking with.

And so we have left it up to God again. We're not allowing fear to dictate our choice to follow Him. Does this mean we are definitely going to pursue international adoption? I'm not sure. But I can tell you that once we opened ourselves up to the possibility of doing it internationally, I felt a peace inside me. So we are just keeping ourselves open to whatever He lays before us. It's exciting (and a little scary.)

We're back to focusing on paying off the last of our debt. I really believe God will make our next step clear once we have that taken care of. At least, that's what I am praying! :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Through Raindrops

Tonight, I held my 7 year old daughter while she cried. 

We were praying before bed like we always do. Justin had to work early so he wasn't with us. I was sitting on Cora's bed, thanking God for today and for the money we were able to raise for Reign. She leaned in close to me, and after I ended the prayer I noticed she was crying. Through her tears, she said, "mom, I just love Reign so much. I wish she had a family." 

Oh, my heart.

I reassured her. "God loves her too. We should just keep praying her family will find her."

She was sobbing now. "It's just so sad, that so many kids die..."

Tears welled up in my eyes. It's a beautiful thing. I am proud of what a compassionate little girl she is. But it's bittersweet....because she is right. Children die every day, many without knowing what it feels like to be loved. I can hardly think about it without my heart hurting.

But I didn't always know.

It was January. I had just returned from a girls trip to Florida, which was a rare treat for us New Englanders. I was working on getting to my goal weight; I had taken up running and had two 5k's under my belt. I had several races planned for the upcoming season. I was also hoping to get my motorcycle license in the spring, and had been enjoying weekly nights out with my friends. I finally felt like I was getting to do some of the things I had been missing. I was becoming more independent. I was enjoying a life I never had (since my husband and I were married straight out of high school.) Deep down, I knew, I sensed that I was pulling away from my family, and most notably my husband. As a matter of fact, only weeks before, he had confronted me about that very fact. I rationalized that I deserved some time away, since I was always home with the kids and had very little time for myself.

That all ended with a positive pregnancy test.

I remember that moment. I was in complete disbelief. My first pregnancy was a surprise, but nothing like this. This was beyond unexpected. This was not wanted. This had to be a mistake. It was at a time when I was finally finding myself again. I was at a weight I hadn't been in years. I felt great and had plans for the future. How could this be happening?

I cried a lot during my pregnancy. I cried because I felt trapped, I cried because I felt guilty that I felt trapped. I knew I would love the baby, but I couldn't help feeling like I didn't want to love him.

One night, sitting on the couch with my husband, tears streaming down my face, he said, "remember what the song says, 'what if your blessings come through raindrops?'" ("Blessings" by Laura Story)

I will never forget that moment. I knew he was right, but couldn't see past the wall in front of me.

Well, I can tell you...having Evan, my beautiful, third baby, changed me in so many ways. Has anyone mentioned how ridiculously insane the transition from 2 to 3 children is? It's INSANE. I felt crazy. Evan hardly ever slept (and still doesn't) and several times I reached the point of crying for hours because I was so tired. I felt like I was losing my mind.

And in the midst of this, God was whispering to my heart. He was pulling my heart strings for the orphans of the world. He was assuring me that we still had so much love to offer another child. All the while, He was doing the same in my husband's heart. I can't even believe how crazy the timing was. I could barely deal with what was in front of me, never mind even thinking about adding to it! But, that's how I know it was purely God.

He moved my heart. He used the birth of my son Evan to change me and mold me, to set me on the path that Jesus walked - the path of loving and defending the fatherless.

I had been living for me. I wasn't a bad mom or wife, but I was self-centered. I was self-conscious and had low self-esteem, but I was still thinking so much about myself, instead of others. The things I was doing, were they bad? Not necessarily. As the Bible says, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. I was living a life that was not what God wanted for me. That alone should be enough of a reason to make a change. But we don't always see the things we need to see until God makes us see them.

I just spent the last several weeks fundraising for a child I have never met. I have spent my money and time just for her. Today, we raised over $380 for Reign. We also raised over $400 for her during our online auction. Once all the payments from ornament orders come in, I will have reached my goal of raising $1,000. It has been hard work, and I feel exhausted. But He keeps me going. I've never felt closer to the heart of Jesus than I have since I started advocating for orphans. It's like everything suddenly makes sense, like I stepped into the light after being in a dimly-lit room. Like the last puzzle piece fitting perfectly to complete the picture. It's all so clear now. THIS is the gospel in it's purest form.

And my daughter...she gets it.

I don't know exactly what the future holds, but I know I cannot sit idly and enjoy the pleasures of this world like I used to. Once you know, you have to's a Biblical command. So I've given up living for myself, and I'm choosing to live for others. To make my life count.

Because I wouldn't ever want to live a life God didn't want for me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When Will I Arrive?

There are days I don't feel like a real Christian.

My spiritual journey is full of high mountains and deep valleys, instead of the flat plains of rock-solid faith it seems everyone else has. I struggle with reconciling my past with the present. My trust in Him wavers - sometimes daily - and there are times I want to just run away from it all, when I don't feel strong and it's like the world is a mad train rolling over me with no sign of stopping.

During these struggles, these trials, I wonder...When will I arrive?

When will I reach that place of complete trust and spiritual maturity?

When will I be a real Christian?

I have put aside the plans God laid on my heart because I'm "not ready" or "not where I need to be spiritually." I felt I needed to work on getting myself in the right place before I start helping someone else or committing to God's plan for me.

One day, God spoke to my heart, and it hit my plain as day:

Maybe the way to get in the 'right place' spiritually is by jumping in and committing to God's plan. 

Maybe I just need to DO something, instead of sitting stagnant and directionless.

I guess I assumed God wouldn't call me to do anything great until was great. But maybe the path to greatness isn't through myself, but through others. Maybe, I need to step back and stop focusing on my own shortcomings, and focus on how I can use my abilities to serve God.

The rock-solid Christians I thought had an easy spiritual journey? They went through the trials by fire in order for God to refine them into the believers they are today. No one is perfect. And no one comes to perfect faith by having an easy-going life.

I read a blog post by Jon Acuff a few days ago that was so simple, yet so true and thought-provoking. Read it here. It's short but a must-read.

His point is, God recruits from the pit, not the pedestal. He uses ordinary, doubting, troubled people to do His work. Stop waiting for yourself to "arrive" at the spiritual pedestal, because God wants you, (yes, you!) to do His work, just the way you are right now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I left my heart in...

I love to craft. I have very little practice in sewing, but tried my hand at it and created an awesome fundraiser. Check it out! Just in time for Christmas...

These are 3" customizable "Love Where You Live" ornaments. Choose your state, choose your fabric, tell me where to put the heart (if you want one), choose twine or silver ribbon. (See your choices here) Send $12 via Paypal to Order 3 or more and only pay $10 each. Every penny goes to Reign's AT fund! I love making them so I hope to be getting lots of orders!

Monday, November 11, 2013

...but can I trust Him this far?

Am I the only one who always swears I will go to bed early, and yet ends up staying up late anyway? When will I learn?


Things have been pretty busy. I have been going crazy prepping and then running the auction, preparing for two other fundraisers (selling ornaments and homemade scones) and organizing a schedule so I can have everything done for my in-home event in less than two weeks. I am great at planning parties & events, but horrible with the time planning. I end up running out of time to get things done. I don't want that to happen! So between all the AT fundraisers, homeschooling, taking care of my own family/house, my Ava business, etc...I am exhausted.

I have committed to doing a study called "30 days to experiencing spiritual breakthroughs." I've had the book for several years but never got past the third day. I have lots of books around the house that I started and never finished. Anyway, so far it has been great. The first day really hit home. The author was talking about how he was having a mid-life crisis and went to visit a good friend for advice. His friend told him, "Bruce, I can help you. Will you do what I say?" Of course, he asked him what he wants him to do. He replied, "will you do what I say regardless of what I ask?" After a while, he spoke again and said, "do you believe I love you? ... then trust me."The author then wrote:

"I knew he loved me. I knew he could be trusted. But could I trust him this far?"

Oh, how that resonated with me so strongly it brought tears to my eyes. How often do I look at God and say that? I KNOW He loves me. I KNOW I can trust Him. But I don't feel like I can trust Him that far. I have always struggled with trusting God, but I realized a few days ago, I don't allow Him a chance to prove He can be trusted. I am always trying to control things so I don't NEED to trust Him. Life is much more predictable and tidy when I can control and manipulate it into a nice, neat box.

But it never stays that way.

The raw honesty here is this - I am scared of God letting me down. I am scared that I will trust Him with something so dear to my heart, and He will fail me.

Of course, I KNOW He won't. The Bible says He will never leave nor forsake me. But I also know that terrible things still happen to those who trust God. Children die, people get divorced, sometimes no amount of prayer actually stops the destruction that wreaks havoc in our lives. Do I believe God is to blame? No. But that vulnerability...that putting myself out there and allowing His will, not my's a scary place to be. And yet it's necessary.

He is calling me to that place.

I hear this song often, and every time, I sing it as if it's a prayer straight from my heart. I ask that you please say a prayer that God will continue to lead us, and that we are not afraid to trust.

I want to live this life unsafe, unsure, but not afraid
What I want is to give all I've got somehow
Giving up letting go of control right now
Cause I'm already out here, blind but I can see
I see the way You're moving
God how I believe that
I can push back the mountains, can stand on the waves
I can see through the darkness, I'll hold up a flame
Take me to the ocean, I want to go deeper
I'm not afraid, no, I'm a believer

 - Audio Adrenaline

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our Auction is LIVE!

Phew. I never realized how all-consuming fundraising for my AT child would be! I'm always thinking about her and how I can help make her adoption grant grow.

We purchased an ornament with Reign's photo on it. (Donate $35 or more to her AT fund and you can choose to have an ornament sent to you) My daughter, Cora, who is 7, studied the photo for a long time. She asked me lots of questions, like, "why is her head shaved? Will she ever be able to walk? How is she 14 and still so small?" I answered all of her questions. She loves Reign. I am grateful that we have had the pleasure of raising such a sweet little girl. She donated a watercolor painting she made to the auction I am doing.

Speaking of the auction, it is live! Please check it out and share, share, share. We have some awesome products, everything from Pampered Chef to jewelry to cupcakes! Lots of great gift ideas, and all for a great cause.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Official Start of Angel Tree & How You Can Help

Actually, it was yesterday...but yes, the Angel Tree program has begun! Being Reign's
Angel Tree Christmas Warrior, my job is to try to raise $1,000 or more towards her adoption grant. I have some really excited things planned! Here are a few ways you can help. (There is something for everyone, so dive in and help out!)

  • Donate to her adoption fund! Click here and scroll down to her photo. Any amount is helpful! Maybe consider giving up going out for coffee for a few days? She is worth it! :) If you donate $35 or more to her fund and you can choose to receive an ornament from Reece's Rainbow with Reign's photo on it! 
  • Donate an item to her online auction by e-mailing me or sending me a message on Facebook. (Use the links on the top right of this blog!)
  • Shop her online auction which is slated to begin Sunday, November 10th. Make sure to "Like" Reign's Warriors on Facebook, that is where I will be posting the auction album! I have also been posting many sneak peeks of auction items, so check it out!
  • Come to my Hearts For Adoption event! I will have all my Ava Anderson items out on display for sampling. My commission from all purchases will go directly to her fund! I will also have refreshments. There will be a table of baked goods and homemade ornaments for sale as well, and a "Pamper Me" raffle basket full of Ava products and other goodies! 
  • Purchase raffle tickets for the "Pamper Me" basket, even if you are not local. I will ship within the US! Tickets are 1 for $5 or 3 for $10. You can pay by sending the ticket money to Paypal e-mail and specifying "raffle" and the number of tickets. So far, we have the products pictured below but I will be adding much more!

  • Purchase Ava Anderson Non Toxic products using my link and party number "17372". When you click validate, you should see "Reign's Warriors." 
  • Pray and share! Pray that her family finds her. You can share my Facebook page with friends. Many orphans have had their families find them during Angel Tree! The more exposure we get her, the better!
I will be updating the little meter on the right sidebar of this blog to show what we have raised. So far, we have $27 but we still have $973 to go! Please consider joining me in advocating for this sweet girl. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Busy making plans!

I'm really excited! I've been busy planning fundraisers for November to benefit Reign.

*As of November 1st, I will begin taking orders for my famous scones. (This is pending a few cross-country shipping trial runs!) I am not 100% sure what flavors I will be offering, but I plan to sell 8 scones for $15 which includes shipping.

*Early November, I will be doing an online auction on Facebook. I have some great items so far, like new baby clothes, gift cards, jewelry, etc. I'll post the link here, so keep an eye out! (And contact me if you'd like to donate anything!)

*November 24th I will be hosting an event at my home! I will have all of my Ava Anderson products out for sampling, (commission from orders placed will go to Reign!) a table of baked goods, and (hopefully) handmade ornaments for sale. I will also be selling raffle tickets for a 'pamper' themed basket full of Ava products and other goodies. There will be refreshments as well.

I pray I can raise the $1,000 for her. But even more than that, I pray for her family to find her. I know she is not forgotten! Sometimes I feel so helpless to do anything to help, but even this small act can make a difference.

A few days ago, we scheduled our first home visit with someone from CT foster/adopt. I am so glad we are moving forward, but I don't think it's really hit me. I am also very unfamiliar with the domestic adoption process, because I have done much more research into international. Although that would still be unfamiliar ground, too! I am just hoping things will go smoothly. And if this isn't the right choice for us, I pray God will close doors!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Will you rise to the challenge?

When God first burdened my heart for orphans, I will admit, it was (and still is) extremely overwhelming. The need is great, so great that it takes my breath away.

It is estimated that there are 153 million orphans worldwide. That is 153 million children that do not have a mom and dad to hold them when they are scared, kiss away their tears, or love and nurture them the way they deserve. That number does not include abandoned and trafficked children. It is staggering, and if it does not bother you, it should. 

These are not numbers...they are faces. 

I believe that once you know,  once you understand, you cannot turn away. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, God commands you to not turn away! 

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed." - Psalm 82:3

Friends, use this as your call to action! You CAN help, you CAN make a difference! I used to be caught in the lie that unless I can do something big, it doesn't matter. This is simply untrue - every little bit does matter. God sees you and your acts of kindness! And it matters to them. 

It matters to Carol.

It matters to Timothy

It matters to Eva

It matters to Tanner

These children are all in need of Christmas Warriors. As a Christmas Warrior, you commit advocating for your child and raising $1,000 for your his/her adoption fund. The Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree program is their most important fundraiser. Money is the biggest obstacle for families wishing to adopt, so by raising money toward their adoption, you can help alleviate that stress. Advocating for your child also means getting their face out there, so that their mom and dad can see them! Many children have found their adoptive families through this program. It's something small you can do to make a big impact on an orphan's life. (To see a full list of girls in need of a Christmas warrior, click here. For boys, click here. Any child without a green icon next to their name is in need of a warrior.) 

Can you take some time and help the least of these? Then go sign up to be a Christmas warrior...what are you waiting for??? I promise I will do whatever I can to help you raise funds for your child, so please comment below if you decide to take the plunge!

I want to be part of a generation of believers that rises to meet the needs of the about you?

Monday, October 7, 2013

A few updates!

Tonight, Justin and I went to an informational meeting on fostering & adopting in Connecticut. We had been feeling for a few weeks that we should explore all our options, as we haven't been feeling led one way or another. We filled out some information and will be contacted about being certified for pre-adoption. (At this point in our lives, we do not feel it's a good idea to pursue foster care.) It was great because I was able to get all my questions answered (I had a lot!) and we both feel this is the right way to go right now.

I have been doing a lot of fundraiser planning for Reign! I will be hosting an event at my home on November 24th. It will be open-house style, so if you are local, let me know and I will send you an event link from Facebook! I will have my Ava Anderson products out for everyone to sample, a table full of baked goods to buy, hopefully more crafters, and a raffle for a basket full of Ava products and other goodies! This raffle is open to those local and anyone else in the US. 1 ticket is $3, or 5 tickets for $10. ALL commissions and sales will go to Reign's adoption fund!

I am also planning an online auction in early November, so keep an eye out! I am gathering some really great handmade items and gifts, so you can get your holiday shopping done early. If you are interested in donating something for the auction, please contact me!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Because this one matters.

When God burdened us for orphans, we had no idea where He would lead us. We both definitely see adoption in the future, but as we await God's direction, I have been helping to advocate for orphans and donating money when I can. I just cannot bear NOT being a part of helping orphans, and really there are so many ways to help!

So here is my announcement: I have chosen to be a Christmas Warrior for a Reece's Rainbow child. Reece's Rainbow was created to advocate and find families for orphans with Down Syndrome and other special needs. The main way they do that is by raising adoption grants. Every year, they do their Christmas Angel Tree program. It runs from November 1-December 31 and is their most important fundraiser. To be a Christmas Warrior, you choose a child and commit to raising $1,000 for their adoption grant. Money is by far the biggest obstacle for families wishing to adopt, so making funds available can really make a huge difference. When you donate $35 to a child's Angel Tree fund, you will receive an ornament with the child's photo on it. A great gift, and a wonderful reminder of who your donation is helping.

I saw a photo a few weeks ago that broke my heart into pieces. It was one of those photos that stays with you. When I closed my eyes, I saw it. It never left me. So when the child in this photo needed a Christmas Warrior, I stepped up. Because they ALL matter. Every last one.

Meet Reign.

Reign spends her days laying on her back in a crib. Let me rephrase that...she spends her YEARS laying on her back in a crib. Years. Because sweet Reign is 14 years old.

Can you imagine? 14 years of laying there, with no mom or dad coming for her. Alone. Forgotten.

But she is not forgotten! I am determined to do my part to raise funds and advocate on her behalf. Maybe, if we spread her information and photos around, her mama and daddy will see her. And come for her.

Reign has cerebral palsy. There is no knowing whether or not she is a prisoner in her body. She may not even be mentally delayed! There are therapies here in the US that could help her. She could learn to communicate in some way. She would be cuddled, kissed, touched, loved. All the things every child deserves.

Fundraising officially begins November 1st. I am brainstorming ideas for how to get this sweet girl's grant higher. I am hoping to do an online auction, so if anyone has anything to donate, or services to donate, please contact me. In the meantime, please keep Reign in your prayers, and search your heart! I am hoping you will consider joining me in raising her grant!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sparrow Adoption Auction

If you know anything about adoption, particularly international adoption, one of the biggest obstacles is MONEY. The cost of adoption is daunting!

I try to help out when I can, and one way to do that is by shopping adoption auctions. If you have gifts to by for birthdays, Christmas, etc. consider checking out this auction to benefit 4 adoptive families.

They have some awesome stuff so take a look! (I also donated a $25 gift certificate to Ava Anderson Non Toxic!)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Faith to move mountains

  Photo by Len Matthews 

 "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." - Isaiah 43:1-2

There are over 300 Bible verses on the topic of fear, so it's pretty obvious this is something that has always plagued believers. As human beings, we purposely avoid situations that may cause us physical or emotional pain. This can be extremely beneficial for us; even life-saving, depending on the situation. But those same instincts can also betray us, and keep us from experiencing the life God desires for us.

Being afraid or fearful is often a symptom of a spiritual problem. Fear takes hold when we choose not to trust God. It holds us back from doing His will. It keeps us from taking risks that have the potential to lead to great blessings for ourselves and others.

When we overcome our fears, we can step out in faith. Because faith is when you choose to trust God without knowing what the future holds.

This is where I am right now: stuck in a cycle of fear. I know adoption is going to be hard. Mountains of paperwork, a VERY large sum of money to raise, not to mention creating a bond and attachment with a child who has never had an adult to count on. It's scary!

But it's also worth it.

If we choose to say "no" to God because we fear the process, the pain, the difficulty, we miss the blessings on the other side. We also miss the blessing of the process itself, which can be just as important as the end result. Yes, pain and difficulties included, because without those, why would we ever choose to see our need for God?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." -James 1:2-4

Love is not without risk. When Jesus redeemed us, it cost Him His life. 

Yes, the road will be difficult, especially when there are fears to overcome. But if God has called you to it, He will walk with you the entire way. 

And in the end, it will always be worth it.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Two months without a post. I can promise you, it isn't because I've had nothing to say. Actually, I've had tons to say, but just haven't been sure how to say it. I've been so busy it's been difficult to organize my thoughts into words, or to find the time to sit and write.

Justin has been blessed with a lot of overtime work. We will have one of our credit cards paid off by our next paycheck, which is a load off our backs! One more to go. My Ava Anderson business has been successful, and it's nice to be able to contribute toward paying down debt. We've been waiting for God to direct us, so we are trying to keep open minds, and focus on paying things off and then, God willing, saving up for a minivan. Because our car will NOT hold more than 3 car seats across the back.

Lately I have been strongly sensing that we will begin the adoption process sooner rather than later. I've been fighting a lot of fears and anxieties, some are understandable, but ALL are signs of distrust in the Lord. When I think about saving a child through adoption, I feel a peace in my heart. As soon as I started to question things, the fear creeps in. I believe God wants me to step out in faith and truly trust Him. It's something I have struggled with my entire life; trusting.

Every single day, it's in the back of my mind. When I am out and about, I'll have all 3 children in my view, and yet I subconsciously look around for my other kids. This happens ALL THE TIME! It's like my family doesn't feel right without more children. It's the oddest feeling, but for months I've felt like someone is missing. My family doesn't feel complete.

So where are we with adoption? Mentally, we are there. Otherwise, we aren't really anywhere. (I feel like I am writing a Dr. Seuss book!) I hate trying to answer questions when people ask me where we are hoping to adopt from, because we don't know. God knows all of it, and He is only giving us small pieces at a time. I am being patient as I can be. I know His timing is best.

Continued prayer for direction would be great!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My ministry

It was one of those days today.

Getting three kids ready for church is no easy feat in itself, especially since Justin was catching up on some much-needed sleep, so I was doing it alone. We had tears and a few minor tantrums, but we made it, and we were only 5 minutes late. I shuffled Cora & Noah to class, but Noah refused to go in. After several fruitless attempts, I decided to take him with me to drop off Evan in the baby nursery. By the time I got into church (with Noah in tow) the last song was just finishing. We had missed all of the worship, my favorite part. We settled in to listen to the message. Less than 10 minutes later, a nursery volunteer came to tell me Evan was really fussy.

Have I mentioned that church is during his nap time?

So we went back to the baby nursery, where I ended up staying. At first, I was a little peeved. I had really hoped to go to church and be spiritually filled after a long, (LONG), tiring week. But then I picked up a friend's sweet little baby girl and cuddled her for a while. A precious little toddler came up to me and handed me a book, then settled in next to me in expectation. As I read to her and bounced the baby on my knee, I realized something....

There is no place I would rather be.

It's as if God said, "This is your ministry. This is your act of worship."

We just love kids. There is no doubt in our minds that we want more children, and want to pursue that through adoption. I know God gave me this love for children, because I used to pray I wasn't asked to help out in the nursery. (Embarrassing, but true.) I liked children, and knew I wanted my own, but was never really interested in spending most of my time surrounded by needy little energy-draining people. But God isn't interested in what we want as much as He is interested in teaching us to care for those He loves.

I met an adoptive mom once, shortly after my oldest was born.  I remember reading a sentence in her Facebook profile. It said something along the lines of, "I'd rather be reading a children's book to little ones than the latest novel." I thought to myself, "that's crazy, that'll never be me. I love my daughter, but I'll never choose a children's book over a book I want to read!" It sounds selfish, and it was. I didn't understand why someone would be that "into" hanging out with their kids. I didn't get it.

Now, I do.

I understand.

Because taking the time to read to a sweet child is something beautiful.

Seeing those big smiles and hearing those giggles fills my heart with unspeakable joy.

Hugging them while tears fall are moments that shape them for eternity.

See, we're not just loving these children. We are shaping them, molding them, teaching them. This is a legacy, something that will last, something worthwhile.

God has flooded my heart with love for these children. All of them. The least of these.

This is my ministry. And I would have it no other way.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father to the Fatherless

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling." - Psalm 68:5-6

Today, while celebrating the fathers in my life, my mind kept going back to the above verse. I love that God has always referred to Himself as a Father, with us as His children. I think it's the closest we can get to understand just how much He loves us. As a mom, there is nothing my children could do to make me stop loving them. Sure, they can disappoint and hurt me, but I love them still. It's crazy to think God loves us even more than that.

So, here's a legitimate question. If God is in His holy dwelling, how can He be a father to the fatherless, and a defender of widows? There are tangible needs the fatherless (orphans) and widows have. How can God meet those needs?

The answer: WE are the hands & feet of God!

"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - Saint Teresa of Avila

God works through believers. He prompts them to say or do certain things. You may feel led to give money to a family in need. Or God may draw you to consider adoption. Or it may be something much simpler than that. The point is, if we are in tune with God, we will hear from Him on when to act. Whether we pay attention to those prompts or not says a lot about the condition of our hearts. 

"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed" but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:15-17)

I believe a lot of people misinterpret these verses to support a works-based salvation plan. But this is saying that works are a RESULT of our salvation through grace. It's the natural following of a saving faith in Jesus Christ. When we assume someone else will take care of it, we are choosing to ignore what God has called us to do. Not only do we miss out on blessings, but we miss out on the chance to be a powerful light to those who may never before had the chance to see faith in action.

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." - Psalm 82:3-4

The bottom line is this: If every Christian allowed themselves to be used by God, for HIS glory, and HIS plan, we would impact the world in such a HUGE, AMAZING way. But as I said in my last post...we need to be willing. Are you willing to be God's hands & feet?

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But I'm afraid He would ask me the same question."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I remember before adoption was ever really even a thought on my horizon. I had this picture of the family that adopts orphans. They have it all together! They make good money, have a large house, a rock-solid faith in God, know all the parenting answers, and have everlasting amounts of patience. (I wish I were kidding, but that is what I always pictured!) Yet what I have found out, in my research and conversations, is that this isn't the case.

Adoptive parents are normal people. They argue with each other. They struggle with how to discipline their children. They don't know everything, and sometimes feel completely ill-equipped to handle the situations they have been given. And they aren't always patient.

Now that we've come out into the open about our desire to adopt, I want to make this as real as possible. We definitely DON'T have it all together. We live in a modest, 1285 square foot cape, and if we decide to adopt a girl, it will take a bit of demolition and handyman work to fit our 2 girls in the smaller bedroom upstairs. We currently don't have anything set aside toward the daunting $20,000-$40,000 it will cost to adopt. We sometimes yell at the kids. My patience runs out more often that I would like. Going to the store with 3 young kids is sometimes still a nightmare. We have a car with 3 kids crammed in the back, and have no idea how we'll afford to get a larger vehicle when we add to the family.

But here's what we do have: Faith. Trust. Willingness. Compassion. Love.

You don't need to be the best parent, have a big house, or the perfect marriage in order to give a child a loving home. I'll be honest, I still struggle with feeling inadequate for this undertaking. But then I am reminded of two things:
1) I am 100% confident I can love this child
2) I can do all things in Christ

Sometimes, all God asks of us is that we are willing. We look around at other Christians and ask, "why not them? They are (smarter, more patient, richer, etc)" and God can point at us and say, "why not YOU? I will equip you. Just trust me."

What it comes down to is that God cannot use someone who isn't willing.

Giving up control to someone you cannot physically see is a bit daunting. I don't care what anyone says, we all like to feel in control of our own lives. I personally hate feeling out-of-control! But we must be willing to give up that which we hold closest, those things we clutch with white knuckles because we never, ever want to let it go. Will God make you give those things up? I don't know. It could be like Abraham and Isaac, where God only needed to know Abraham was willing. Or He could be calling you to sacrifice your dreams, your desires, your treasures at the foot of the cross.

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." - Jesus (Matthew 19:21)

I am working on focusing on the eternal. The things of this world are all temporary. They don't last!

But a legacy, that is something that lasts.

Beautiful souls going to heaven, that is eternal.

These are the things that matter, and I never want to lose sight of that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Step by Step

What a crazy weekend, spiritually and emotionally. We spent a lot of time praying and talking about adoption. We were asking for answers, and in particular whether we should look into adopting the girl I briefly mentioned in the last post. I could think of 10,000 reasons NOT to adopt her. But God whispered, "why not?" I decided to get in touch with someone to discuss it in more depth. After a few e-mails back and forth, later that night, she wrote to tell me a family committed to adopting the girl. My heart really truly is filled with joy for her, and I am grateful that God gave us an answer so quickly. But I don't think it was all for nothing. I think God is wanting to stretch us and open our minds and hearts to ideas, and children, we may not have normally considered. I honestly don't know when we'll adopt. We could start the process in a couple weeks, or it could be years. Right now, we're doing out best to follow what God asks of us. It's step by step, we don't see the whole plan right now, just the step directly in front of us. It can be frustrating, but I think that is how He needs to grow us in this whole process.

One thing that began this weekend was some pretty intense spiritual warfare. Thankfully, my husband recognized it for what it was, and we were able to get through it. Everyone tells me when you are following God's will, the devil will be right there with you. I'm sure we should be expecting more attacks as we pursue this.

Church was wonderful yesterday. It was one of the rare times where you almost feel like the pastor has been spying on you because his message was so perfectly tailored to what you are going through. Of course, it was God, and I knew that. He spoke about treasures, and how God asks us to trade our 'treasures' - things, money, etc. - for the real Treasure. We need to open our hands completely to God in order for Him to take control. I picture myself holding one hand outstretched, the other closed tightly behind my back. Boy, does God have more work to do in me!

He also talked about the enemy, and how he will do anything to get us to turn away from God. He will even allow us to have good things - material things, good experiences, etc. - in order to distract us from our goal. He wants us to get to the point where things are going so well, we feel like we don't need God. With the spiritual warfare that had been going on, it was all so timely.

I am so grateful for a good Sunday because I desperately needed to be refreshed.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

God shows up...again

It's been fairly quiet on the adoption front up until today. My husband and I decided to work on paying off our debt in order to pursue possibly adopting in the future, so the idea was kind of put on the back burner of my mind. And in the process, I put God on the back burner too. There's just been some issues and I have felt like God was far away. I became increasingly aware of this and decided yesterday that I needed to sit and read my Bible. I picked up in Hebrews and gained some great insights. It was actually a fruitful quiet time, though not as "quiet" as I would have liked. (It never is with 3 children, is it?)

Then today, somehow, adoption came up again in my thoughts again. I came across a photo I have seen many times over the last few weeks. Of a girl. This particular girl is 12 years old. She also has a special need.

I wasn't prepared for the reaction I received after showing her photo and talking about her to my husband. All I can say is, whether or not we choose to pursue this particular child, God is making it abundantly clear that this is going to happen on HIS time, in HIS way. Both of which seem to be completely opposite of my own! I know I wrote about this lesson in my last entry, but it seems God knows I haven't fully grasped it yet. There's a difference between knowing something and embracing it.

With God, is that we should expect the unexpected.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Raw honesty

I wrote in my last entry how God wants us to do this adoption on His terms. What we have to do is let go of what we envision in order to embrace the life God has planned for us. I really want God to take my life and use it for His glory.

But here's where God called me out. 

See, I do want that. I want God to use my life for His glory. But I just don't want to give it to him. Romans 12 talks about offering ourselves as living sacrifices. Have you ever heard the phrase, "the problem with a living sacrifice is that it's always trying to crawl off the altar?" Guilty as charged. 

I don't want God to change the parts of my life that I like. That's a raw, hidden part of my heart that I like to pretend isn't there. But I need to call it what it is. I want God to use my life...but not at the expense of my own comfort and desires. This came to mind because I was researching adoption today. As I looked at photos of yearning, lonely orphans, my heart breaking for them, I saw words next to their names: "special needs," "HIV+", "downs syndrome." I thought to myself, "we couldn't ever adopt a child with special needs." But, God hit my heart like a ton of bricks. I sensed Him saying, 'hey, wait a minute! Who is in control of this adoption, anyway?!' I don't necessarily think we are called to adopt a child with special needs, but the point is, who am I to pick and choose who I will 'allow' God to lead us to? 

What if God chooses us to become the parents to a child who will need lifelong care? I am only human. My husband and I were married young and had children quickly, so we never had the chance to really just enjoy being married. Sometimes we will talk about how we will spend our empty nest days. I have always wanted to travel, and look forward to getting the chance to as our children get older. Do I want to give those dreams up? Not at all. And therein lies my struggle. 

I've heard that many times we should choose to act out of obedience and the feelings will eventually follow. I don't know how long it will take, but every day, I will make the choice to surrender my life for what God has planned. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

God's crazy idea

Have you ever had something come to you and you just know, deep in your heart, that it was from God?

I have always said I was open to adoption. But to be honest, I never really thought I would do it. I thought it was great that others chose to adopt, but I never had much of an interest in it. Then God spoke to my heart.

The first time I really thought about it was on our family beach vacation in North Carolina in the summer of 2011. For my birthday that spring, I had bought the book "Choosing To See" by Mary Beth Chapman (Steven Curtis Chapman's wife) and decided to read it on vacation. A lot of the book focused on their journey in adopting their two daughters. It was the first time I really considered adoption as a reality for my family. I decided that I wouldn't mention the idea to my husband. I felt that if God wanted us to pursue it someday,  He would give my husband a heart for it as well.

I became pregnant with my third child in early 2012. It was an unexpected pregnancy, and I dealt with a lot of emotions and difficulties through those months. We discussed whether we were "done" or not. Three kids is more than enough, we reasoned. Kids are expensive. I am homeschooling and 3 is more than enough to keep me busy. We would have to buy a new vehicle. We don't have the room for more. The list goes on.

After having my son in the fall, I went through a long several months of adjusting. It was probably one of the hardest times of my life. I had almost no problem adjusting from one child to two children, but going to three really threw me for a loop. I was overtired, overemotional, & overwhelmed. And yet, God kept whispering "Adoption!" to my weary heart. I began to feel like I was crazy. How in the world can I even imagine adopting when I can barely handle what God already gave me?! But His voice just got louder, and my heart became burdened for the orphans.

God blessed us with the opportunity to purchase a home that is absolutely perfect for us. We closed on March 11, 2013. The details were so perfect we knew this was a gift from God. When we were in the process of buying it, I kept picturing bringing our adopted child home there someday. It really is perfect - no more than we need, and no less than we need. We love it here.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I told my husband that I may sound crazy, but I feel like our family isn't complete. I also told him I don't think I want to have more biological children. We have talked about this a lot over the last few months, but nothing was definite. I asked him if he felt anything at all about it. "I don't feel like we're done, if that's what you mean," he said.

It was just crazy enough that I knew it could only be from God.

So here I am now. A busy mom with a 6 1/2 year old, 3 year old, and 7 month old, researching adoption in my spare time. Praying constantly. Reading adoption blogs that make me cry every.single.time. I know without a doubt that God wants us to adopt. The more my husband and I discuss it, the more I realize that God really has been preparing both our hearts. There has been no need to convince each other of anything, we are on the same page. It's amazing.

Right now, we are just praying for direction while we work on paying off our credit card debt. We believe God will provide the funds for this adoption. If He brings us to it, He will provide. Today I came to the realization that if God is going to do this, it will need to be done His way. Up until today, I pictured adopting a little boy or girl from 1-3 years old, from a country where adoptions are relatively quick and painless. But God reminded me that this will be done on His terms, not mine. I felt a tugging at my heart to look into adopting an older child (over 3 years old). These children, along with those with special needs, are the ones that are adopted last. I mentioned this to my husband, and he told me that he had always had in mind adopting an older child but that he didn't think I felt the same way.

Whoa, God. Talk about keeping our hearts on the same page!

It was also a direct answer to prayer, because I have been specifically praying that God would give us some direction. It gives me something, a little sign that we are going the right way! I am really excited, and maybe a little terrified too. I want to tell so many people, but I feel it's best to keep it quiet until we have more details or are closer to knowing when we should pursue the adoption process.