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Fill me up

Our church has been doing a series titled “Echo” this fall. It is focused on our response to the gospel call and each week we have dealt with a different topic in the gospel.

Hear

Believe

Repent

Confess

Be Baptized

Filled with the Holy Spirit

On Sunday nights our life group meets and we go over the sermon from that morning. I always enjoy meeting with my life group. The fact that our family is with the group of people that we are is something that I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit had his hand in. While I enjoy the group though, I don’t feel like I contribute much in the way of discussion. I’m more of a sit-and-observe type when it comes to that type of situation.

Last night was different.

We talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit. About feeling convicted and led to do something and how we knew that it was the Holy Spirit. One of my friends mentioned that he felt like there was no other explanation sometimes and that it had to be the Holy Spirit because he would be led to do things that were just not characteristically “normal” for him.

That’s when I chimed in. This past year + I have felt more filled with the Holy Spirit than I ever have. I can remember thinking just a couple short years ago that a couple I knew who were adopting must be doing it because of fertility struggles. Because honestly, I had no idea why you would adopt otherwise.

Really. That’s what I thought.

Then God started working on me. Working on me in all sorts of different ways. He truly broke my heart for what breaks His. That little adoption seed had been planted and I started to get it. Instead of wondering why a couple would choose to adopt I struggled to understand why more couples weren’t doing it.

And so, when my friend last night said that he knew the Holy Spirit was working in him when he did certain things because they were out of character I agreed. And I talked. Out loud.

And I added a little twist.

What if, you are led to do something that seems so out of character but then looking back you realize it’s not out of character at all. Like adoption. That thing that once seemed so distant. Yet looking back, even as far as your own childhood, you can see all sorts of things that led you to where you are now.

And it’s then that you realize that He has been there all along. Working on you all these years and just waiting for you to ask Him.

Fill me UP Lord!

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Sacrifice

So our church is doing this 10 Days project with our local college students. When my family first started hearing about it I think we all kind of thought it sounded like something we should do. No one really mentioned it though. Until the weekend before it started and my husband and I just kind of looked at each other and said, “So, are we gonna do it?” We are.

My family is a bit too into our caffeinated beverages. We aren’t big coffee drinkers but pop is a big thing. Mostly for Brad and me. Mostly for me really. Brad can go with just water and maybe one pop a day. I on the other hand wake up craving Diet Pepsi. So I have one and then I have another around lunch time and then maybe another around 3:00 and then one or two (or three) at dinner time. I try to not let the kids drink it but they sure love Dr. Pepper/Diet Dr. Pepper. It’s a bad habit that I’ve allowed them to start early. So we figured we’d give this whole “Drink Water to Give Water” campaign a try.

We are currently on day 8 with just 2 days left. I’ve gotta be honest here…I really wasn’t sure we’d all make it this far. Last Monday when we started the Today show did a story about the cholera outbreak in Haiti. While the kids and I were up and getting ready for school and whining about not being able to have anything but water for breakfast our tv showed images like this one.


(People suffering from cholera-like symptoms lay on the floor at a hospital run by the Haitian government where Médecins Sans Frontières is treating people. October 27, 2010 in St. Marc, Haiti. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

I took the opportunity to tell the kids that this is why we are drinking water only for 10 days. The money we would have spent on other drinks during those 10 days will go towards building wells in Africa so that this sort of thing can be prevented. We know that it is going to take a whole lot more than our family of 6 drinking water for 10 days to really make a difference, but we can help. So while that news story helped a bit and gave most of us the focus we needed to get started it didn’t really do much for my 10 year old daughter Sadie. She doesn’t like water. At. All. Watching the story my youngest was obviously sad about the people she saw on the screen. Sadie…not so much. She just really wanted a big glass of milk with breakfast. And the opportunity to have some Dr. Pepper with dinner. I figured I was in for a pretty long 10 days with that one.

Then something really really awesome happened. She whined a bit. We all did really. But when one of us wanted a pop there was someone else there to say we couldn’t have one. Sadie and Teagan shared what they were doing with their classmates. Then they shared with me that some of their friends had decided to join in and participate too. On Thursday after school when we were pressed for time we stopped at the gas station for an after school snack. I was sure to remind the girls that they couldn’t have a pop and expected to have eyes rolling and a bit of whining and was thrilled when they both said, “we know.”

Then we got in the car and Sadie shared the COOLEST story with me. She told me that her friend Macy had decided to join in and drink water only. Macy’s Dad was already doing it at home but Macy wasn’t and since she saw Sadie put her milk back at school she thought she’d do the same. A little boy at their table asked why they were taking their milks back and so the girls explained the 10 Days program to him. He said, “Well, your parents won’t ever know if you have a milk at school. Why don’t you just sneak one?” to which the girls explained in a very matter-of-fact way that then they wouldn’t be sacrificing anything.

Wow.

She gets it. She REALLY gets it!

I can’t tell you how my heart fluttered when I heard that. The daughter that I thought was most likely to spend 10 days whining and crying and begging for pop is out there being the hands and feet of Jesus and shining her light. Woohoo! I’m looking forward to Wednesday now. When we can all sit down together and tally up how much we would have spent over the last 10 days and write a check to help build a well.

So. Cool.

Obstacles

When Brad and I “talked” (I say it that way because it was via texting, so it wasn’t really talking) recently about adopting he mentioned some obstacles that we needed to overcome before we could start the process.  We discussed those obstacles briefly.  The biggest ones are finances (surprise, surprise) and my ability to continue to work.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the majority of my children’s lives.  Several years ago the opportunity came up for me to get a part time job.  It was perfect because all of the kids were in school and my hours were during the time when they weren’t home.  I got nervous when summer came along because it would mean they would be home alone but my oldest was capable of taking care of everything while I was at work and it was only for a few hours a day and only a few days a week.  Within a year there were some major changes at the office and it became apparent that the office would be closing.  So when I had the opportunity to interview for another job I took it.  I was so nervouse about it because it would be full time.  I remember sitting down with Brad saying I just didn’t know how things would work out.  How on earth could I work full time?  What if the kids got sick and had to stay home?  What about field trips or parent meetings or school parties?  All those things that I was so blessed to have been a part of in the past.  Would I just not be able to attend them anymore?  And what about summer?  I couldn’t leave them all home all day all summer?  It wouldn’t work!  Brad just looked at me and I remember him telling me that mom’s worked all the time and somehow it worked.  That we would find a way to make it work.  And we did.  The kids all survived me being away and I was still able to attend things every now and then. 

The company I worked for ended up being a not-so-great company.  I had a real heart for the clients there and had some co-workers that became friends but the administration was so – for lack of a better word WHACKED that it just wasn’t worth it for me to stay there anymore.  Several months before I decided to leave I started my photography business. In December of that year I told Brad that I just couldn’t take the job anymore. We agreed that I would stop working there and take that month to just kind of regroup. I suggested that I really wanted to see if I could make the photography business successful enough that it would be my “real” job. He agreed to let me try but was doubtful that I would be able to stay busy enough that it ever really be a true means of income. Let me just tell you, God has blessed me over and over again with my little venture. He gave me a talent and passion for capturing the lives and relationships of my clients. I’m so grateful that at 37 I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!

My sessions are mainly in the late afternoons and evenings and on the weekends. I do occasionally have sessions in the mornings though so having a child who isn’t in school home with me would be a challenge. That’s one of the obstacles that we have to figure out. However, I know it will all work out. Whether that means not being able to schedule sessions during that time of day or having a sitter or friend help me with the new kiddo I’m not sure yet. But just like when I started working before and Brad told me that we’d make it happen, I know we will here too. It is an obstacle but not one that I think is going to be incredibly difficult to overcome. And certainly not one that I feel would prevent us from following through with an adoption. Can you imagine saying, “I thought about adopting but decided not to because it just wasn’t convenient with my work schedule.” Or “Yeah, I’d love to make that 147million orphan crisis one less but I just wouldn’t be able to because I work during the day and can’t afford day care.”

So that leads us to the biggest obstacle there is and one that I think is probably top of the list for anyone considering adoption. Finances. Why’s it gotta be so expensive?! It really is kind of mind-blowingly expensive. An international adoption generally costs anywhere between $20K-$30K. Overwhelming. However, there are some organizations in place that can help with the burden of those overwhelming expenses. Organizations like Lifesong and Show Hope which offer financial aid and grants. There is also the adoption tax credit of up to $13,170 for 2011. Then there is of course good old fashioned fund raising. Many families choose to sell t-shirts and other items to help raise funds for their adoptions.

At this time we are discussing when to start the adoption process. Brad would like to wait until our two oldest children are out of the house. They are currently in 8th and 10th grade, so that would be a good 3 or 4 years. My arguement in waiting is that they won’t be able to be a part of the process with us. To which Brad says they’ll still be around. 😉 True. But I think being home occasionally from college and living in the home during the process are two completely different things. I’d like for the whole family to be active in being the hands and feet of Jesus!

I’m seriously considering starting an account to raise funds. The ideas in my head on ways to do that are whirling around like crazy. I’d love to be able to get a head start on things so that when we do start all the proceedings we at least know where some of the funds will come from. I know a lot of the funds will just have to be prayed like crazy for. It’s so hard sometimes to step out on faith not having all the funds to move forward. I’ve been really thinking about that lately because I know that’s a big issue in our situation. However, there is a quote from a speaker at the Together For Adoption Conference that has been floating around and really makes you think. What do we mean when we say “I can’t afford to adopt”? We are saying God won’t provide for His children. Are we saying He’s a deadbeat dad? Not so. He will provide! – Robert Gilenas

Ouch.

In the mean time. We must get our home sold. Prayers for a buyer are so so so appreciated. The sale of our home and subsequent move to something much more modest would help us to make it one less much sooner.

Dreaming big

I follow several people on Twitter and Facebook who are adoption advocates or have their own adoption blogs that I like to occasionally read. This past weekend was the Together For Adoption conference in Austin, Texas. I kind of wish I would have known about it earlier and been able to attend. I think it would have been amazing to be a part of. I wasn’t able to go but a lot of the people I follow were there so I was constantly being updated with news of the conference which was pretty cool.

One person I follow on Twitter is Missy from It’s Almost Naptime. She updated constantly with all sorts of awesome info which I really enjoyed reading. Her blog entry from yesterday was something I felt was worth sharing. I sometimes worry that my whole entire blog could end up being re-posts from other people’s blogs and websites but there is so much great information out there that I really want to share that I guess it doesn’t really matter. Right? Forgive me if you’ve already read this. If not, read on. And be sure to watch her blog the rest of the week as she promises to share information daily from the T4A Conference.

Last night, after spending two days at the Together for Adoption Conference in Austin, I laid down with the feeling you have after a funeral. You know the physical, emotional, spiritual exhaustion that makes you want your bed more than anything? That feeling.

I slept. I slept well.

This morning when I woke up, I had an email from Joel Osteen. (He emails me often, thanks to my friend Jolie who thought it would be cute to put me on his list.)

And here’s what Joel had to tell me:

Dear missy,

Victoria and I want to invite you to join us tonight for our LIVING YOUR DREAM webcast. You’ll be encouraged during this wonderful time together as we share life-changing stories about God’s goodness and what He wants to do in your life!

We want you to know that you can experience God’s best every single day. We serve a God of more than enough, a God who loves you with unconditional love. Today, you can be confident in God’s promises and start believing for your dreams!

Click here to share your dream with us!!

I’m thinking I should click there to tell Joel my dreams.

Something tells me my dreams would be a little different than the prosperity “gospel” he loves to sell. Something tells me that my idea of God’s best and Joel’s idea of God’s best differ a little.

I dream that some of the 160,000,000 orphans in the world would ‘experience God’s best every single day.’ I dream that more Christians would ‘be confident in God’s promises’ that the ‘God of more than enough’ will provide the funds to adopt one of his children. I dream that the Church would notice the many verses in the bible about protecting the fatherless and be determined to share ‘life-changing stories about God’s goodness’ to a toddler who scrounges for food on the street. I dream that the Church would make it her mission to share stories of ‘God’s unconditional love’ with the foster child who has not one person alive who loves her. I dream that the Church would care more for orphans than Hollywood does. I dream that the Church would do more for orphans than the UN does.

I dream that the average soccer mom who loves Jesus was the spokesperson for orphan adoption, instead of Angelina Jolie.

It’s going to take more than watching a webcast to see these dreams realized.

I’ll be blogging about the conference all week. I’ve got lots to say. Most of it hurts. Still, I pray you’ll read.

Then, let’s live the dream.

Sprouted…and growing!

I just went back to look at some of the first few entries into my blog. I started this blog almost a year ago. That was after several months of feeling like our family was being led to adopt. I remember that at the time, I thought that it was something that needed to happen NOW. Like, let’s fill out the paperwork. Get this ball rolling. Pronto.

After an initial mention of adoption from Brad, he really started to act like it wasn’t something that we would ever really do. And that if by chance we ever really did it would be years down the road.

Ugh.

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. As scared as I felt about the process, I just really felt like it was what we were being called to do. Then when Brad was so reluctant I felt doubt. Why would I feel so strongly about this when my husband so seemingly felt like it was not something we needed to be doing?

My friend Ashley brought her sweet little girl home from Rwanda right around the time that I started this blog. In her own blog posts, she often mentioned that she hoped that perhaps through her family’s adoption journey that seeds would be planted for others to do the same. I felt like that seed had definitely been planted but worried it would never sprout, let alone grow.

Today, on October 1st 2010 I am pleased to announce that the seed planted in my heart that has sprouted and grown now seems to be doing the same in Brad’s. I’ve prayed so much over the course of the last year and I know that other’s have prayed as well. My biggest prayer has been for Brad and me to be united in this decision. It hasn’t been easy and there have been times when I thought perhaps bringing another child into our home wasn’t what I should be thinking about and that I needed to be concentrating on helping orphans in some other way. That just never really felt right though.

There is an adoption conference going on right now in Austin, Texas and I tweeted a link to the live feed earlier this morning. Brad texted me and asked what that was about and then jokingly said, “You getting us a baby?” I let him know that no, I didn’t have us signed up to bring anyone home anytime soon and his response was, “I’m on board. We just have to work some stuff out.”

Praise God!

He has totally worked in Brad’s heart and I’m so thankful. And now as much as I want send off an application like yesterday I know that it will all work in His perfect timing. We need to sell our home, find a new one and figure out how I will be able to continue my job with a little person around. So for now I will keep busy with those things. Praying for a buyer. Praying for patience during this time of waiting. And of course just praising God for all the amazing blessings He has provided!

One less

A friend shared this on Facebook yesterday. Her family is currently going through the adoption process and waiting for their referral.

I’m anxious for a day when I can say that my family made it one less.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/15064039

Today I will

We have our house on the market right now. Have I mentioned that? We both thought it was the right thing to do. We’d become too worldly. But we resisted that nudge to sell until it got to a point where it was something we really had to do. Instead of a nudge or a gentle push it was a stick-your-foot-in-front-of-you-and-fall kinda thing. It’s been on the market for a while now and still hasn’t sold. Which in itself is frustrating. Because we felt like we should do it, and then we did it so shouldn’t it just all work out? Shows you what we know.

In addition to that we have a house that hubby built that still hasn’t sold. He’s built many houses over the years and they always sell either during construction or soon after. This house has been done for a long time now. Like, almost a year.

So yesterday we had the realtors tour at our personal home AND we had someone request a showing at the spec house. Finally! Things were looking up! I had wild visions of realtors coming through and one of them knowing exactly the right family for our home. Visions of the showing at the spec house going great and an offer coming through. GREAT things were finally going to happen.

Yeah. Not so much.

The tour did go well and there were apparently lots of great comments regarding our home. That’s fine. Hopefully someone who came through yesterday will find the perfect family to live here. The other showing didn’t go so well. In fact, it didn’t go at all. The buyers cancelled the appointment because they decided they wanted a bigger lot. So frustrating.

Then I came home and hit rock bottom. Well, I felt like it was rock bottom. I think back now and roll my eyes about it. The gas company has our account in hubby’s business name so our bills sometimes inadvertantly end up in his pile. So I hadn’t seen some of the notices we had gotten recently saying that our bill was past due because I was just automatically putting them in his pile. So while the tour was going on yesterday the gas company came out and shut off the gas. Sweet.

Embarassing? Yep. Hurt our pride real bad. Eye opening? Absolutely. I was so upset. It was my fault that it had happened because I didn’t get the bill paid on time. I had a bit of a pity party thinking about how our two houses for sale still hadn’t sold and now THIS. Seriously?! Why are all these bad things happening?

Then I really got upset. Because here I am feeling sorry for myself when I have SO much. So things aren’t going the way I thought they would. So what! I have a roof over my head. My husband has a job. We have health insurance. We aren’t wondering where the next meal will come from. We all have clothing and shoes for every single season.

Eye. Opening.

We got our gas turned back on by the way. After being told that it would be at least a day (there would be a service fee and a large deposit due) hubby called someone who he had dealt with at the gas company when doing construction stuff. Within hours there was someone here getting it back on. Know what else? We had a leak. Was the whole thing a blessing in disguise? What if that had gotten so bad that we all passed out and died? What if the house had blown up? We never would have known there was a leak if this hadn’t happened. God takes care of us. Even when I feel like I so don’t deserve it, He is there.

So today I will be thankful. I have no idea what the future holds. I have no idea if we’ll be in this house for another week or another 10 years. I have no idea what is in store. But I will be patient and endure and trust. Hard as that is for me, my prayer is that I will stay strong and do these things. Today I will shoot a senior headshot session and a family session. Today I will edit a couple galleries to send to clients. Today I will remember to thank God for the gift he has given me in my job as a photographer and all the blessings He has brought me through it. Today I will not have a pity party and whine about what we don’t have.

Instead, I will pray for those that don’t have enough. For those who have no idea where their next meal will come from. Who have been wearing the same clothing for several days because that’s all they have. Who have no idea where they will rest their head tonight.

Break my heart for what breaks yours Lord.