Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reflections on 2014

The beginning of a new year is always so exciting. I love thinking about what God has in store for us in the next 12 months, and reflecting over the previous year. In the years passed, my resolutions would go something like this: lose weight, get out of debt, read the Bible more. Which are all good things, but if I don't stick to them, I get into a negative mindset and feel like I've failed. This year, I've been feeling compelled to drop it all. My resolution is to simply enjoy. Enjoy time spent with my kids and my husband. Enjoy the mundane and the seemingly ordinary. Appreciate the things I normally would take for granted. Slow down and spend time on what really matters.

I feel like I am finally comfortable with who I am and have learned to let go of who I am not. I'm learning to stop allowing other people's opinions to affect my own convictions or to make me insecure. I've let go of friendships that needed to be let go of. I've realized I'm much more introverted than I used to be, and have embraced that. It has given me a lot of time to be able to recharge and focus on the important things.

My due date is in the same month that I miscarried last spring. This is so symbolic to me. God has turned my sorrow into joy, and literally not one day goes by that I don't thank Him for this gift. When I found out I was pregnant with that baby, I remember fearing what other people would think about us having another. That miscarriage changed me, for the better, if you can believe good can come from something so tragic. This pregnancy, I haven't worried at all of what anyone thinks. I am so happy and so, ridiculously grateful. It's unfortunate that it took something so sad to make me truly appreciate the things I took for granted.

We also had quite a lesson in finances. Justin had unexpected surgery in July, which consequently kept him out of work for 9 weeks. Thank God we did receive benefits through his work during that time, but it was still less than half of what he normally makes. It was a hard, but much needed lesson in how we have been handling our finances. We had the head knowledge (we took Dave Ramsey's financial peace university) but needed a wakeup call. Since then, we have been humbled and have really changed course for the better.

We celebrated 10 years of marriage shortly after his surgery. We had already booked a short getaway and decided not to cancel. I'm glad we didn't. It wasn't quite what we had imagined (a beach vacation with a water-loving husband who can't go swimming because of his stitches!) but it reminded me of our vows. In sickness and in health. I wasn't going to let surgery get in the way of us celebrating a milestone I think sometimes even we doubted we would reach.

Our wedding day August 7th, 2004 as an 18 and 21 year old

Justin & I on the beach celebrating our 10th anniversary. Like a fine wine, I think we get better with age! ;)

All in all, 2014 has made me more grateful for what I've been blessed with. Even though it may not be where I thought we would be right now, I feel a deep peace that we are exactly where God wants us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Lord our Healer

Recently, I was experiencing some pain from an issue I have dealt with for all my pregnancies. Nothing serious, but the pain had been bothering me for at least a week or so, and I knew it would just get worse as my pregnancy progressed. I had an appointment with my midwife and talked to her about it, and also did some looking around on the internet. A few nights later, I was driving by myself to do errands. The pain was still bothering me, so I was thinking about what do about it when a sudden thought came into my head - pray for healing. It was a lightbulb moment. I've talked to my midwife, and searched the Internet, but I never even thought of taking this request to my God (who, by the way, also goes by the name Jehovah Rapha, or "the Lord our Healer".)

Do I believe God can heal? Of course I do. So why isn't it my first instinct to ask Him for healing? I've been challenged by this question for the last week.

A large part of it is lack of faith. I believe God can heal, but I don't necessarily believe He will heal me. Or I believe my problem is far too small for Him to even care about. An even bigger answer to this question, though, is that I am afraid of being disappointed by God. And isn't that an issue for many believers? We don't want to ask for anything from Him because we are afraid He will say no. Because we are fearful that His "no" will affect our faith.

But believing in God doesn't mean we will get what we want, or what we think we need, or even what we deserve. It means we trust that He is sovereign over all, and that He has a plan that we may not fully understand yet. We have faith that His ways are above our own. His answers to our prayers (whether 'yes', 'no', or 'wait') do not determine whether He is good or not. Our faith should never hinge on whether His answers match up with what we want.

Back to my car ride in the dark....

I prayed that if it be His will, that the Lord would heal this issue, or at least take away the pain so I can enjoy my pregnancy more fully. Hours later, the pain was gone, and it's now a week later and it has not returned. Praise God! I'm honestly in awe over it. I wonder now, how many blessings do we miss out on because we simply don't have the faith to ask? Don't be afraid to boldly approach God for all matters of your life. He has a plan, and always trust that His answer to your prayer is a part of that plan, no matter what that answer is.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"You'll be done after this, right?"

Four kids. 

My fourth isn't even born yet, and I'm already getting looks, questions, and comments. 

"So, you're obviously not adopting then."
"You'll be done after this one, right?"
"Hopefully it's a girl, so you can have your two boys and two girls and be done."

Let me clarify that these comments do not make me upset or even offended. I know most are born out of honest curiosity, without the intention of being rude. So I give a lot of grace. 
Here is my own detailed response on the subject. 

At this point, I know better than to say we are definitely done having kids. After having our third, I swore I was done. But God really impressed adoption on our hearts. We went forward with plans, waiting for God to direct us, and yet we were met with God's silence. My pregnancy, and subsequent miscarriage, left me desiring to have another baby. After finding out we were again expecting, (we hadn't even told our social worker yet) the state adoption licensing fell through. 

So as you can see, so much happened this year, and it has changed my perspective greatly on our plans vs. God's plans. All of our lives, we are urged to consult God on all decisions, even the most mundane. Because He cares. I believe that. But how can we ask Him what His plan is regarding how to spend our money, but not on our family life? Should believers ask God to guide all areas of their life except for how many children we should have? This question has challenged me greatly. I am not necessarily saying we should all get off birth control and have tons of babies. But I believe before assuming control of that area of our lives, we should spend time praying and asking God what He has in store for us. If we choose to go our own way, I don't believe God will punish us, but I believe we will miss out on blessings He has planned for us. In my life, even though it's a constant struggle, in my heart I truly want what God wants for me, because I believe that will be the most fulfilling path I could take.

On adoption...I still with 100% certainly believe it was God who laid it on our hearts. I struggled with wondering why He would do that, and then not allow us to pursue it. It didn't make sense. But a friend shared a video with me that really helped me understand more about how God works. Christine Cain shared about the story of David's anointing. God passed over the other sons for the shepherd David, then just a boy. The Lord anointed him as king, and it seemed like everything was about to roll into motion. Yet he waited 20 years for the anointing to be completed. 
(Here is the link to that video, if you are interested. 

Waiting is a pretty common theme in the Bible. For example, Noah received the prophecy of the flood 120 years before it actually happened. In this world of instant gratification, we assume if God seems to be putting something on our hearts, we need to get right into action. Sometimes that is the case, but not always. In our case, I believe God will use our heart for adoption sometime in the future. I honestly don't know if we will adopt or not, but we will remain open to God's direction in that regard.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Expecting #4!

What craziness! We're expecting baby #4 April 30th, in case you haven't heard. Which would explain the serious lack of updates on our blog. I've felt so awful for the last 7 weeks, some nights I went to bed at 7:00. Of course it all started right around when we started school, and let me tell you, homeschooling while feeling like you could either throw up or fall asleep = no fun. But we've gotten through it. Barely.

This pregnancy has been wrought with emotion and anxiety. When I went to my first appointment at 7 weeks, I showed up there fully expecting to not see a heartbeat. I was terrified. Every other pregnancy, I had very little anxiety. But once you experience firsthand the fact that not every pregnancy results in a baby, it ushers in a whole new height of anxieties. Obviously, things turned out well, and I left feeling extreme relief.

Today I went in for my second appointment. Right away, we could see the baby, kicking and squirming like crazy. I don't remember being able to see so much so clearly at 12 weeks. We even got an ultrasound pic of the baby waving.

I cried almost the entire drive home. I cried out of sheer gratefulness to God. In April, it was as if I had been given a gift, only to have it taken away. I am so thankful for another chance.

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing." Psalm 30:11

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Closing A Door

It's been 3 months since I last posted, and felt I should give an update.

We have been working on getting all the required paperwork done for licensing, and were maybe 2 or 3 items short. Last time she visited, we chatted for a long time. I mentioned to her that we don't have a van yet, so we cannot take a child until we buy one. With Justin having been out of work for almost 9 weeks, we were getting less than half his salary from railroad disability, so obviously we weren't in a place to even think about purchasing another vehicle.

I received a call a few minutes ago from the social worker. She and her supervisor were talking about our case, and feel that if we were to go to a teaming meeting, a different family would be chosen, one with less children and a vehicle to accommodate. She suggested that we would be better off waiting a while to adopt, especially seeing as we would like to have another biological child at some point. I told her, our plan was to be licensed (since we didn't want to have to re-take the classes) and then be put on hold if we didn't have a van yet. She said our class is "good" for a year, which means it is good until March 2015. Which isn't long from now. I highly doubt we'll be ready by then, and it's extremely difficult for us to re-do the classes, as it's all day Saturday for 8 weeks...child care isn't easy to come by. So I'm feeling like this is a door God is closing. I feel very peaceful about it. And although I have so many unanswered questions, I know God will reveal things in time. It's been almost 7 months of wondering if this was what God wanted for us right now, and having an answer makes me feel at least somewhat relieved.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Show me the way I should go

"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I entrust my life."
- Psalm 143:8

As I have written before, adoption blindsided us in a way that we knew had to be God. The timing was wrong, the call too strong to ignore. It was something I had never even actually considered doing, so it shocked me when I started feeling this pull towards it. Praying, we weren't receiving any definite direction, so we felt we needed to make some sort of step in faith. Which is why we signed up for the DCF classes. We figured even if He leads us toward adoption in a way other than the state, the information would be valuable. And we were right, the classes taught us so many things that we would have never found out on our own. But during those 6 weeks of classes, despite prayers, neither of us felt a leading as to what to do next. We agreed to become licensed, because we can always say no, and if we felt called to come back to it later and hadn't been licensed, we would have to start all over again.

It was the day of our last DCF class that I found out I was pregnant. I thought, okay, God has revealed the direction He wants us to go in. Another beautiful baby for us, adoption will come in time. Yet just weeks later, I lost the baby. I was left with confusion. I wanted to adopt, and still do. But now I want a baby. I want to be pregnant again. Why would God give me that, just to take it away? In a way, it feels like it was stolen from me and sometimes doesn't feel fair.

I was talking with a close friend a few weeks ago about this confusion. She brought up a good point. Maybe, God doesn't want us to adopt right now. Maybe, He gave us the strong desire because He wants that to be fulfilled in the future. Much like how many people in the Bible received a prophecy that wasn't fulfilled until many years later. Yes, that makes sense. But why? Why would God give us a burden on our hearts for something that won't be fulfilled until later? It hurts my heart every single day when I think about all the orphans suffering. It literally aches. Aren't we called to look after the fatherless? It's hard not to feel a strong sense of urgency when it comes to this. Which is why I have a hard time even considering letting it go.

It is my daily prayer that God will use me for His glory. I will go where He wants me to. Every day I do my best to offer Him all that I am. I believe my family is my first ministry; taking care of my husband and children come before any other commitments and ministries. But I can't help but feel that there is more. That, even though my life is crazy sometimes, in a way it's just too...comfortable. I don't believe God calls us to a comfortable life.

Without a doubt, I know that He is faithful and will direct our path. I know He has great plans, and I continue to pray that He will reveal what is next for our family.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


How can I possibly put into words all of the things God has been teaching me? Through the pain of my miscarriage, and the millions of other stressors and issues that come up daily, God has quietly been making His presence known. I can honestly say, I don't understand why He chose to take our child before we had a chance to truly know him or her. I know that I cannot change what has happened, and so I must accept it. I know He does not want me to go down the road to bitterness and anger. So instead, I chose to lean into Him for comfort.

I try my best to see difficult times as opportunities for growth...the fire refining my faith. It's so easy to say that you will stand strong among the storm when you aren't in the middle of it. When the storm is raging around you, it's a lot harder to hold on...but totally worth it.

Things are moving along on the adoption front. The DCF worker came for a visit. She is wanting to license us quickly. We had our water tested this week, and I still have paperwork to fill out and physicals to schedule. And of course, there is the issue of the van. We cannot take a child until we have a vehicle large enough to accommodate our entire family, plus (at least) one. I truly believe if this is His will, God will provide, and so I am praying and researching options that will work for us.

My 28th birthday was on Sunday. I decided to celebrate by finally getting one of the tattoos I have been wanting for a long time.

I chose this word, and this location, as a reminder to me that God has redeemed me. He paid the price and I no longer need to be bound by the chains of my past sins and mistakes. I am free! This word has stood out to me so many times in scripture, it's a word God has impressed upon my heart. It's also from my favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 43: “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."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Grieving A Loss

This wasn't hard to write, but I hesitated in posting it because of the personal subject matter. I know when most people go through something like this, they choose to do it in private. However, for me, writing is how I express myself best, and I feel strongly that writing and sharing this will actually help me to heal.

Three weeks ago, we found out we were expecting. Although unplanned, we were totally excited. I even started brainstorming four-letter names to match our other three kiddos. We planned to tell family & friends on Easter.

Last week, I had symptoms that sent me to the ER. All day, I had cried and prayed, begging God to not take our baby. By the time we were on our way to the hospital, I told Justin I was 99% sure I was losing the baby, and only that 1% remained because I believed in miracles. I had prepared myself emotionally the best I could in a few hours. During the ultrasound, we saw a healthy yet tiny baby, we saw the heart beating, they told us everything looked perfect and sent us home with no explanation for the symptoms I was experiencing. Unfortunately, the symptoms persisted for the next 5 days, and I remained unconvinced everything was okay.

An ultrasound this morning confirmed what I believed deep down in my heart - that I had lost the baby. Although I was only 7 weeks pregnant, emotionally it was a hard hit. I honestly never ever thought that such an early miscarriage would cause me to grieve like I am. But through it, God is giving me so much peace. It truly is the peace that surpasses all understanding. I know friends and family have been praying for me, and those prayers mean the world.

I want to say sorry to all the other women who have gone through this. People don't know what to say. I never knew what to say. It's something we seem to brush under the rug and pretend like it never happened. It's awkward, and sad. But not saying anything, I think, is almost worse than saying the wrong thing. Everyone grieves differently, but no matter how, we all do. Miscarriage is common, so I know there are literally millions of women who have been through this. By sharing this, I hope to at least make someone else realize they are not alone.

I refuse to allow this to dampen my joy for others. I am praying specifically that God will help me to grieve in a healthy way that will not result in jealousy or getting stuck in a "why me?" rut. It hurts, but I know I will get through it. He will never leave my side. All I can ask for is for anyone reading this to save a prayer for me, every word spoken to Him for me is so appreciated.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Scattered thoughts

Life is crazy sometimes, isn't it?

We have less than 5 weeks in the homeschool year and I am burning out big time! I feel like every day, all day, I just keep going and going. There's always something to do. I'm sure other parents can relate! Sometimes I wonder if we're ready to adopt, because my hands already feel SO full some days! But I know there is no rush and I just need to trust God. We were just contacted by the social worker licensing us (who was also one of the workers at the class) about setting up a visit in April. She said she needs to visit with us once a month until we are licensed. I still have lots of paperwork and whatnot to catch up on (physician's statements for us and the kids, vet statement for our dog, CPR class, etc). As Justin says - "add it to the list!" We plan to get licensed and just continue to pray for God to reveal His will for us.

One thing I know, and I say often, is with God, expect the unexpected. So I have learned to try not to visualize how something will play out over months or years. How often do our plans match up with what actually happens? Not that it's bad to make plans, but don't get too attached to them. I try to stop myself from picturing how this whole adoption thing will work out, because as soon as I am connected to a plan that is from my own thoughts, I find it harder to keep myself open to God's plans for me.

Through this journey so far, God has taught me so much about myself, about others, about His character. I have a greater awareness of the needs of those around me, and those thousands of miles away from me. I have met the most amazing, giving, caring people on the face of this planet. Seriously. The things these people will do to rescue these orphaned children...they literally go to the ends of the earth and back. I have never been so inspired. I can only hope God can use me in such a way to influence others for His glory.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Minivan Needed!

Hey, we've hit just over 2,000 page views, pretty cool for my little blog. :)

So, we need help.

It's becoming pretty clear to us that we need a minivan. We should be licensed by summer, and theoretically, we could receive a call for a child anytime after that. Even if God doesn't lead us that route, adoption is in our future, and with any luck, sometime we will host a Ukranian orphan for the summer. (I'm working on hubby. LOL) We have our Camry filled with three kids in the back, and unless they make it legal to stuff kids in the trunk, we need to upgrade. We had been planning to save up once we're out of debt. We do not want to finance one if possible. So please, just keep an ear out if anyone is getting rid of one. We are trusting that God will provide if it's in His will, so we just want to keep an ear out for a good opportunity. Even if you can't help in that way, please just pray for us.


Monday, February 24, 2014

And you want another one?!

When I came out into the open about the calling Justin and I felt to adopt, I had no idea how people would react. Knowing it is really a decision that only affects our own family and people we see on a regular basis, I didn't expect much. Thankfully, most everyone has been very supportive, which is SO appreciated. I've had people praying, sharing links & great information, and just encouraging us.

But of course, there are those who don't understand. The ones who look at me like I have lost my mind.

I think they expect that someone planning to add another child to their family should have everything under control. They should never get impatient or frustrated with their children, have everything perfectly balanced. They shouldn't every look like a circus in the middle of Target, with the mom attempting to be the ringleader. (Not that I know from experience or anything.) "And you want another one?!" I hear as they watch me go through the crazy motions of trying to meet the needs of three terribly needy and sometimes demanding little people all at the same time.

The answer?

Yes. I want more kids. I love watching them grow up, I love cuddling and reading stories, I love the kisses and hugs and the insanity and bittersweetness of it all.

Most importantly, I want what God wants for me. I want Him to take my crazy little life and make it something that brings Him glory. Are there times I doubt God's calling for me? Absolutely. When I am cleaning up the milk and cheerios all over the floor while my kids fight in the next room and I lose it and yell at them because we had been trying to leave the house for the last 45 minutes...I can start to doubt. I'm not perfect. I mess up a lot, but that doesn't mean that God can't use me.

I know the comments and stories are meant to be helpful. It seems that once people know you plan to adopt, they feel compelled to share their horror stories with you. (I like to compare it to expecting a baby...everyone tells you the most terrifying and painful birth stories, as if you aren't scared enough!) I understand the intention behind it, I really do. People want us to know what we're getting into, that it's not all butterflies and rainbows. But trust me, all the horrible scenarios you have described are nothing compared to the number of ones I have run through my own mind. Yes, I am scared of the unknown. Aren't we all? But I have full faith that God will lead us down the right path. Fear is not a good reason to abandon God's will.

So yes...I know it looks crazy. But you know what? Not following God's calling on my heart is even crazier.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Your calling isn't meant to be easy"

Nothing seems to drain me like these foster/adopt classes. They are so full of great information, but a lot of it is very heavy and difficult to hear. Today, one of the speakers talked about brain development and the effects of alcohol and other drug use during pregnancy. It was SO informative! She even gave us a chart that explains each behavior, how it is commonly seen, and what the actual issue may be. For example: Not following directions - commonly seen as willful disobedience - actually can be a child's inability to connect the directions with actions, or they are unable to understand.

The second speaker talked to us about sexual abuse. It was disturbing, to say the least. Some of the examples she used from actual cases were so insidious and horrifying, I actually became flushed because I felt so angry. But it was necessary, and we learned a lot about how to handle children who have been sexually abused. The homework we have every week has been great in helping us really think about our own upbringings and helps us to relate to the children in foster care.

As far as adoption...Justin and I are still unsure of what God wants us to do. We are trying to focus on the step we are on, which is attending these classes. The information we are gaining has been SO helpful and will relate whether we choose domestic or international adoption. I do feel like the enemy has really been attacking us lately and it seems to be focused on the weekends and days following these classes. I feel like everything in the future is foggy and the only thing we are sure on is what is right in front of us. Maybe God doesn't want us to know which direction He plans to lead us, and that's ok. I love to know all the plans before they happen, but God certainly doesn't work that way. But that keeps us open to whatever is in store. It's been a great way to demonstrate our trust in Him.

A few days ago, an article from Relevant magazine showed up in my newsfeed. It was entitled "Your Calling Isn't Meant To Be Easy." The title says it all. I think inside I still believed the lie that if your are called to something, it will be easier for you. That if you are met with difficulty, maybe you "heard God wrong." But that is NOT the case! Yes, you may be called to something, and it may be hard, but God will always equip you. Most of the great men and women in the Bible encountered difficulties, some were even fearful or doubtful. But with the obedience of following their calling, they were able to carry out God's plans. THAT is who I want to be. I want to be faithful to His calling. No matter how crazy people think I am, or how much they try to talk me out of it.

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8

Right now, I am waiting for definite directions. But I am trusting that I am waiting for a reason. I trust in His timing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Doubts & Trust

We had our first foster/adopt class on Saturday. It was mostly an introduction, they went over what would be covered in the next 4 weeks, watched a few (very) outdated movies, and talked a bit about how the foster care system works. A few things really stuck out to me, one being that they are very up-front about the fact that we as foster/pre-adoptive parents will be expected to communicate with and have at least some of a relationship with the birth parents. I guess I had believed that we would have limited contact. They also stressed that whether we are pre-adoptive or foster, we are all considered foster parents. It seems to me the only difference is that those who are pre-adoptive hope to adopt the child, while foster parents expect (in most cases) a child to be with them temporarily. I already knew this going into it, but DCF's main goal is reunification with the birth parents...the next being placed with a relative...third choice is being placed with a family in the system, such as us. At any time during the process to adopt the child, a birth parent or other relative could easily disrupt it. 

Does all this scare me? Totally. I still don't feel 100% that this is where God is leading us, but I am willing to find out. This is all way out of my comfort zone. I honestly can't even try to imagine what it would be like to love a child and have him or her taken away. I cannot comprehend it, but I feel it's fair to assume it will be incredibly difficult. 

Those things are ones that I honestly don't want to deal with. It makes me want to run in the other direction. It makes me want to re-think the entire adoption thing. If it weren't for how strongly God laid it on our hearts, I probably would have run away by now. But I know without a doubt that God has called us to care for orphans, and how can I not answer that call?

I know that God doesn't call us to walk the easy path in life. No matter what route we choose, adoption isn't going to be easy. And it's hard to say "yes" to something you KNOW is going to be challenging. This is where I lay myself down. I'm one of those living sacrifices that is always second-guessing and trying to crawl off the darn altar. That's just me! I know God is asking me to step out of the boat and trust Him. I don't know exactly where we're going but we're not supposed to know...or else why would we need to trust? 

This whole trusting thing has become a common thing for me, huh? :)

I am just trying to take as much from the class as I can. I know all this information will be invaluable for us at some point, so I absorb it all. Prayers are appreciated, that not only God will give us direction, but also that we will be able to find babysitters for the next 4 Saturdays of the class. It's not easy to find people willing to babysit 3 kids for 6 hours or more on a Saturday! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dying To Self

"Dying to self."That term sounds horrible but it doesn't even scratch the surface of how difficult the actual process is. There are some days my humanness wants to come out and take over. I certainly don't always feel like behaving the way I know God calls me to. Sometimes I don't want to stand up and fight the battles ahead, because I am worn, weary, exhausted. Sometimes the mountains seem too high. Sometimes I don't see a way around them and would rather curl up in a ball than climb them.

When I feel like that, and yet choose to get up and fight anyway...that, my friend, is dying to self.

Because this life isn't about me and what the world can do for me, or what God can do for me. It's about being instrumental in changing the world and reaching out to those around us. It's about saving souls, loving those in front of us. Doing something to have an eternal impact.

The dark moments when I yearn to just give up, those moments are when God's strength can really shine. Because I reach out and He grabs hold and somehow...I find the strength to keep going.

Friday, January 17, 2014

PRIDE Classes

We decided to sign up for the PRIDE classes, which are the mandatory classes offered by the state of Connecticut for those interesting in fostering and/or adopting through the state. It's a bit of a time commitment for us, and those watching our kids - 5 hours per day for 5 Saturdays in a row. I was feeling very undecided on whether we should go or not, because we were doubting whether this is what God wants for us, but we have yet to receive definite confirmation either way. The classes are free, so we decided it wouldn't hurt to go through them and see if it leads us any closer to the right choice.

I'll be honest, I am feeling very negative about the idea of adopting through the state. I have heard many, many more negative stories than positive ones. If we foster to adopt a child age 5 or under, our bedroom has to be on the same floor as the child's, which would mean we would need to move our bedroom upstairs and one of the kids bedrooms downstairs. I am not at all comfortable with having any kids on the bottom floor of the house alone, and it's a huge hassle for us to be moving everything around. I don't want to deal with court dates, and birth parents, and not being able to go away for a weekend, and the very real possibility of falling in love with a child only to have them taken away and reunited with their birth parents. I don't know if I can handle that emotionally.

But wait...

It's not about me.

Mmmm yes, back to that. This isn't about me and what's comfortable for me. No, I do not know if this is the right path. But I know I need to be open to WHATEVER God has in store for us. I can't pray "Your will be done, unless you want me to do this, because I don't want to deal with it."

Classes start February 1st. Prayers are appreciated as we continue to find the path God desires for us.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The god of our society

Our country has it's own god. We worship him every day. It is evidenced by the millions of dollars spent as offerings. This god can cause people to become physically aggressive, rude, and self-centered. He offers no salvation or long-lasting benefits, but can give you some short-term satisfaction.

We, as a country, worship the god of materialism.

Do not think I am exempt. I always loved to shop. I used to be able to spend hours weaving in and out of stores. I never had the bank account to support my habit, so I became highly skilled in the realm of bargain hunting. To this day, I can smell a clearance aisle from a mile away. I love that I rarely make purchases for items like clothing without them being deeply discounted. It saves us a bunch of money on the things we need.

Key word being, things we need.

There is a flip side to my shopping ways. I have a difficult time passing up a very good bargain. I can usually talk myself into making the purchase because "it's something we will use." I am a fairly practical person, but many times, the "things we'll use" are not the same as the "things we need."

Once God started turning my heart towards the least of these, my perspective on shopping and money completely changed. Instead of debating whether I should spend $12 on the item I believe I will use, I remind myself that the same $12 could feed a family in a third world country for an entire month. I suddenly saw how meaningless material possessions can be. I once watched a documentary filmed to create more awareness of the horrors of orphanage life. It broke my heart to see a beautiful little girl reduced to skin and bones, in severe pain due to her obviously broken leg...and she received no medical treatment. Through my tears, I looked up from my laptop and around my living room, saw the photos on the wall, the curtains, the decorations, and all I could think to say was, "none of this matters."

That, I believe, was the moment I truly understood the heart of Jesus. It is like my eyes were opened and I finally could see everything from His perspective. How could that not change me?

I see the changes everywhere I go. Today, we visited one of many shrines of materialism - a shopping mall. We don't normally go, but we wanted to get out of the house, and weren't interested in being outside in the single-digit temps. Walking down the crowded aisles, there were store windows full of expensive advertisement campaigns, all aimed to get consumers into stores with their wallets wide open. Uncluttered stores decorated with pillars holding up $650 purses. Display cases with thousands of dollars worth of diamonds. Racks upon racks of clothing in every color and style. I used to go to malls all the time without a second thought. I walked around for hours, tried on clothes, and enjoyed myself. This time, all I felt was a mix of disgust and sadness. Disgust at how much money is spent every day on things people do not need, and sadness because many consumers do not see that physical possessions do not bring any sort of lasting happiness or security.

Am I saying that shopping is evil? Of course not! Unfortunately it's just so easy to become carried away and sucked into the realm of materialistic thinking. It's difficult to avoid when our entire society doesn't see it as a problem. But it IS a problem. I see it as a problem when people purchase a $650 purse while in the meantime, somewhere in the world, a mother is watching her child die of hunger or a preventable disease. We need to stop focusing on what we can acquire with our money and figure out what we can spent our money on that will have a lasting, positive impact for others.

I write this in an effort to create awareness. I believe people simply do not realize how desperate the situation is. When we do not see the pain and suffering, we turn a blind eye and end up with an 'out of sight, out of mind' philosophy. I know because I used to do it. I felt powerless to help or change anything, and so I did nothing. I pray that someone reading this would take the initiative to find a way to help. Sponsor a child. Give up getting coffee for a few days and donate the money to a worthy cause. Pray. Go on a missions trip. Create a care package for the homeless man holding the sign in the Walmart parking lot. The possibilities are endless, just get out and do something.

I do not believe money evil, not at all. Money is a tool. The love of money is the root of all evil, but when seen as a tool, can be used for good. Today, choose to use some of it for good. I bet it will feel better than buying that new purse. <3