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.