Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Deny Yourself"...

Let me start by saying... wow... conviction. One thing that I love about our sweet Lord is that if we ask Him to show us our sin, He will... because He wants to be glorified in us through the brightest of lights. He desires to purify us. And sometimes it just stinks.

It's easy for me to say "Lord, I am denying myself... I'm moving to Africa, and if that isn't self denial I don't know what is." *conviction #1 & #2: Self righteousness and Pride

Here's what the verse says: "Then He said to them all, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23 (and if you really want the punch go to v. 24)

Over the last few years, denying my "big picture plan" for life has become a "no brainer." Yes, I clearly trust Him to plan out our steps as a family... what we are to do "big picture"... I finally got so exhausted in trying to hold on to that one that it is one area I will GLADLY and JOYFULLY deny myself. Not my plans... but HIS.

However, recently, I've been convicted that it isn't "just" about the "Big Picture" denying of self... but it's the "DAILY" part I'm most guilty of overlooking. Recently, as I've begun a period of time of "intentional self-denial", I had this thought... "When was the last time I denied myself ANYTHING that I wanted during the day, that I had regular access to?" eeek. I want to run out to wal-mart... I go. I want to go to the pool... I go. I want to make brownies (and eat them)... i do(as many as I want). I want to hop on facebook... I do. You get the point. Sometimes those things become a replacement for my true need= Jesus. If you are going to follow Jesus, you can't reserve the right to enjoy the things that grieve Him.

Here's the misconception about self-denial: "If I deny myself I will be miserable." To deny yourself means that, through an act of love, you surrender your right to do what you want rather than what He wants.What I've found to be true is in the verse 24... to loose your life is truly to GAIN it! Does it make sense to me? NO! But I see that in the "denying" of our family plans and the accepting of His... there is the deepest joy! And I know I will see that even deeper as He shows me things He wants me to "let go of" on a daily basis and allow space for Him to occupy. I'm learning there is a fine line between enjoyment and idolatry.... (maybe it's just my own weakness...give me an inch I take a mile!... or better yet, give me a brownie and I take the whole pan... or give me a diet coke and I take a 2 liter...)

Thank you for never leaving us as we are. Thank you for showing us areas of our life that we aren't depending on you to meet our needs, but other things to meet our self-indulgences. Show us a deeper way to live... a more joyful way to live... help us to loose the things in our life that are unpleasing to you so that we may truly live in you! Amen...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Just for fun...

Just wanted to share some fun we've had this weekend as a family, in case you missed it on FB... and enjoying my Kodak Playsport for sure!! (same toy that taped the spider incident and the shanedance)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's that time again... This Week's Highlights

Ok, I'm starting to like the summation of the week... so much happens that I want to remember, and SO MUCH is going on right now... So... here it goes...

1. Last Saturday We let the kids play in a massive mud hole in the backyard... while we were being "productive" (as in clean out closets, pack up stuff for garage sale, make phone calls, etc)
*Yes, I did get all the mud out of the clothes!

2. Sunday evening we spent time with 2 sweet couples dreaming about a possible mission trip to visit us in Zambia! And there was good fun and swimming and jump houses.... awesomeness.

3. Tornados... not on the agenda from last week... check out these cuties sleeping in the hallway (i know, the bathtub would have been a better choice, but it didn't seem "bad enough" to cram in) ... note: Zack NEVER woke up and we told him he was in the hallway for an hour or so the night before and he didn't believe us! the other 2 were WIDE awake!

4. Family Pics! thanks to the amazing Amy Block... (who by the way is moving her family of 11 to Guatemala... if you think I'm crazy, go read her blog here.) Check out these great pics...

Truly I am so blessed to have her as my friend... as we are selling our things, and moving to a 3rd World Country... we are finding so much joy and encouragement from each other. They came over later in the week and played in the water with us... it was sweet because all our kids were talking about "moving to Guatemala" or "moving to Africa"... it was a picture of the gospel going out check this out:
2 Ethiopians: 1 going to Zambia, 1 going to Guatemala.
2 Guatemalans returning to their nation of origin,
2 African Americans going to Guatemala,
3 Anglo kiddos: 1 to Guate and 2 to Zambia

5. Passports: APPLIED FOR AND WAITING. 4 weeks we should have them back! The kids kept asking "where's my book?" (ie passport) Afterwards we went to Cabela's, The Mr.'s FAVE... and then we celebrated with IN N OUT Burgers... the drive through wait was over an hour... but we went in and had eaten within 45 minutes! YUMMY! *Animal Style

6. Meetings, phone calls, conference calls... ALL GOOD STUFF!

7. Postponed the Garage Sale... There's only so much a human can do in one week... NEXT WEEK! it's on!

So for next week.... Garage Sale... empty out this house!!... Drs apt... schedule travel immunizations... and make a list of things we "need" for homeschool...

Despite things to do... I'm really trying to take it one small step at a time. I don't want to get so busy that I allow myself excuses for not connecting... with my kids, with my husband... and most importantly with my sweet Jesus.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another side to Lifesong: Something Better

I wanted to share this story with you all. I have written and posted pictures of our project in Zambia, but LifeSong is doing so much around the world! I wanted to share with you this story, so you can see how God is working through LifeSong in the lives of children in India...

Imagine living in a house made entirely out of concrete, that heats up like an oven in the hot sun. Imagine a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling as your only light. Imagine having no toilet facilities or running water, but instead getting all your water from a community hand pump. Imagine having parents who worked in the field, barely able to provide from day to day. Imagine no hope, growing up in a hope of idolatry and severe poverty.

To Sindhu Babu this kind of life was normal. It wasn't until he (at age 10) came to Lifesong India that he knew there was something better. Something far better.

Today, at age 18, Sindhu Babu not only has a hope for a future as he studies to become an electrical engineer... not only does he live in a clean home with clean running water... and not only has he heard the word of God, but in 2003, his parents, who for years worshipped idols, gave their lives to Christ!

Praise God that He continues to replace hope for despair in the nearly six hundred children we work with and their families!

Thank you for your continued prayer and support as we serve children in India!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Zambia blooper #2: ShaneDance

Who say's Shane can't dance? (*note teachers in the background... yes, they ARE laughing at Shane...pahaha)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This week's highlights!

So much happens in a weeks time, so I wanted to make note of this week before it blows away into "just another week."

1. Spent last weekend with my family in TN. AMAZING. Smells of honeysuckle blooming, campfires and roasting marshmallows with my family, and hearing my Dad speak at a sweet country church with the most awesome pot-luck dinner afterwards. Yes, it does sound like Walton Mountain, and to me... it's just that special. I mean, seriously look at how beautiful it is:

2. Decided and ordered homeschool curriculum! What.a.task. There is nothing like the pressure of the fate of your child's educational future in your hands... haha. We had My Father's World 1st grade given to us, and I am using that in addition to the history/geography and readers of Sonlight (which I found at a STEAL here). I also made a "schedule" of balancing schooling my children and being at the school with our other 210 kiddos. ;)

3. Got our passport photos! That was quite the adventure and I must share those here.
Z's face says "seriously, they are taking me to Africa?"

Plus everyone was asking where we were going that ALL THE KIDS needed a passport. It was a fun opportunity to share what God's doing through LifeSong in Zambia.

4. We talked with several of our partners in ministry, which is ALWAYS a blessing. We have been BLOWN AWAY by how God is using this in their lives, and to have such amazing, amazing people to walk alongside us as we transition to LifeSong and life in Zambia! We love you all SO MUCH!!

5. My neighbor and sweet friend took me yesterday for a pedicure and lunch! AND her mother kept ALL 6 of our kiddos!! (that's 6 kids 5 and under, so yes, she is superwoman) Amazingly sweet, and no... they didn't have to break out the saw like on dumb and dumber...lol.

6. Shane bought his ticket to Zambia, leaving at the end of July. He will be gone for 5 weeks to start learning the job, the culture, etc... before the madness comes in September. (that would be me and the kids= madness). *sigh. 5 weeks is a LONG time.

7. Had a nurse come this am to do our medical exam for life insurance changes. That was fun. ha. BUT she did say my BP is "child-like" so I guess that is awesome. As long as it's not so low I'm dead. pahaha. The really neat thing was that she is the adult MK, growing up in Mexico. She was able to share with us things that are important to keep in mind while raising children internationally. (3rd culture kids)... But she said that she is now a nurse because it was so difficult for her to understand why kids around her would die of the measles just because they didn't have a vaccination. She said "I wanted to be able to come back and give them shots... so I became a nurse." Amazing to see how God used that in her life to direct her profession! It was a really neat blessing for us this morning!

8. This is the first Saturday since March that we didn't have "something" on the calendar! HORRAY!

What's on the horizon for next week? ANOTHER Garage Sale, Apply for kids Passports, and Family Pictures! woot!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You don't have to go to Africa...

Recently, I've been giving much thought to the position of my heart, my expectations, and how even little comments can so quickly sink into my soul and pollute my mind.

I believe it is certainly evident that God is at work in our lives in ways that are what I would classify as "crazy." When I share this, I have had multiple people say "I'm living vicariously through you!" or "wow, I'm so jealous" or " You guys are amazing." So, I just wanted to share my thoughts on these things.

1. "You guys are amazing." No. And please don't argue. ;) First, I don't want to be tempted to start believing it.... God hates Pride, and it is such a temptation of mine. I want to RUN from it, but it starts to make me "feel" good about "me." Can I just say that I am weak, inconsistent at best, angry at worst, selfish, prideful, lustful, on and on and on. I am NOTHING... without CHRIST. What we are doing isn't something any more wonderful than what our neighbor does who is called to coach basketball, or our brother who is called to work in finance. Obedience is what God wants. That is truly the only thing I offer. He makes MUCH out of LITTLE. So... when I'm sharing our story... I'm doing it to reflect on our mighty, unmatchless, unbelievably loving Father... who wants to multiply my "one basket offering" and make it a feast! (and yours too... which leads me to the next point)

2. "Wow, I'm so jealous" or "I'm living vicariously through you." Don't and Don't be. (*newly inserted... don't start getting all crazy if you said that... I just don't want people to think this is the "best" or "holier" way to serve... because it isn't, and I'm certainly not trying to pass judgement, but rather cause us all to examine our hearts and not be deceived.) Why? Because God wants to do these kinds of things through you! You don't have to go to Africa to see God working. He wants to use us to love on the poor and needy. There are so many ways for us to show Christ's love. Go to the local Housing Authority (or a million other options)... you will find plenty of families there in need of a person to love them and walk life with them. I think we so often limit God's power in our lives because we aren't doing something as "crazy" as moving to Africa. BUT God, at his very nature is awesome... amazing... powerful... "wonder working" (singing hymns now) ... NOT just in Africa... but here... where you are. Don't waste your time living vicariously through me when you can live TRULY right where He has placed you!

Praying that we can all live through Him to do what He has intended for each one of us!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Zambia Bloopers Take 1...

Hey all... we made it back from the Summit VII (awesomness.. and great to meet some of you guys there!) and just needed some comic relief... so for those of you who think we are NOT scared... check this out... and think again.

*You know something is up when your lodging has a large can of RAID beside your bed.... red flag #1.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When your house is upside down...

Well, I have been MIA on the blog because I've been busy selling approximately 75% of what we own. ha. Wish I had time to take some pics... but apparently I was too busy to document! Truly, though... it was an amazing weekend. We had awesome TX weather, and the people were certainly out and about! On Friday, I was completely blown away by the generosity of my friends. Some came out to shop, when my house is on the other side of town. Some brought snacks. Some just showed up ready to stay and help! Some hauled some of my books to Half-Price for a better deal... CRAZY! I am truly blown away by so many people's generosity and kindness. HOWEVER, the highlight of my weekend was WITHOUT DOUBT... my children. We have been preparing for weeks now... and taking the time to explain to them why we can't take "everything" to Zambia. They really seem to get it (as much as they can for their age). I got the suitcases out the other day and let them "fill" theirs with their favorite things. It helped them to see how much space we have, and how they have to be strategic in their choosing. ;) I also allowed them to keep some things to send to the grandparents house for when we come home for visits. So... needless to say... we had been preparing for the big "garage sale" time. They watched as other kids played with their toys... and as other kids walked away with what used to be theirs. There was only a couple of times that I heard them protest... and it was mainly over the new bunk beds that never made it out of the box. ha. How blessed am I? I was able to say... oh, we will get you those in Africa (already checked to see that they have them).

As for me, I finally melted down on Saturday night... at Z's soccer party... in a room alone with my sweet friend. I finally verbalized that "it" has "begun." The letting go. When I walk through my house it is no longer as it was. It will never be that way again. My home is starting to look bare... and it resembles what it really is... "just a house." Our lives are starting the move... between here and Zambia. It is real.

Right now, I sit in a house that is honestly... upside down. Stuff everywhere...I can't find anything... the organization is gone. AHHHHHH... I am leaving tomorrow for the most amazing time of the year... The Summit VII... and I can't find my jeans!!!!!!!! I'm trying to remind myself that when my house is upside down... my heart can remain peaceful. And when I can't find my favorite jeans... well... I don't know what to do about that one..... (did I sell them in the yard sale?)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Zambia Reflections... Posts written in Zambia...

Blog posts for Zambia trip:

I’m sitting in traffic, as me and the Mr. drive our kiddos to meet my daddy to “hand off” the kids. We leave for Zambia in 48 hours. This past week has been pretty crazy, and somewhat distracting. Starting at the beginning of the week, E was dx with inactive TB. The next day some pretty amazing ministry opportunities unfolded before our eyes, and 2 days later we were confronted with the “are you sure you want to remain on hold” from the adoption agency. (that means they more than likely have a referral for us). Stress, grief, confusion. That’s where I’ve been this week. Grief over a child I may never hold, yet have dreamed about for over a year. (if you are wondering why we can’t “do both” click here). Stress for getting the details in order and feeling a little like I’m floating on my own. (which is know isn’t the case, but just an emotion). AND I’m theologically confused. Does God really care where we serve as long as we are serving? Is there a right or wrong answer? Has He equipped us better for one than the other? WHAT IS HE DOING? ARE WE CRAZY? All of the things came to a culmination last night around 2am. I’m always most vulnerable in the nighttime. Fear came flooding over me. “I don’t want to be across the world from my kids for a week.” “What if…” or “What if…” “I don’t want to do this anymore.” It’s like being all strapped in and ready to sky dive and once you step out onto the wing you say “Umm… I’ve changed my mind.” Fear and anxiety continued to build as I lay beside my sweet Z snuggled up next to me. “I don’t want to leave the comfort of this place. “ I just took this before the Lord… and He brought this verse to mind. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. AND THE PEACE THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING will guard your HEART and MIND in Christ Jesus. “ I literally quoted that a couple of times and drifted off to sleep peacefully. Today, He gave me this verse: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen 28:15 Now, I won’t say that there isn’t butterflies in my stomach. That I’m uncertain of what to expect, or that there isn’t a “rupture in my peace” throughout the day. However, I must keep my eyes locked onto Jesus eyes. Do not sink. Do not pay attention to the waves and madness around me. Do not take the bait Satan is casting my way. Eyes. On. Jesus. So for now… 42 hours left before we board a plane to Zambia… I’m drowning myself in the word… in prayer… tuning my ears and shutting my mouth… waiting to hear the voice of the Lord. What I know is that He desires for me to know Him. I will seek Him and the rest will follow.

Post 2:

It’s Sunday at 8pm… we have said our goodbyes to the kids, and are waiting on our flight to board. We are ON OUR WAY TO ZAMBIA! I have to say that currently, I am at peace. We skyped with the kids here at the airport… and they are having a BLAST with my parents on the “farm.” It’s just a great place and such a gift to see them have such fun and for us to be blessed with such amazing parents. It’s so weird for me not to be able to process on the blog. That is why I’ve blogged… not for you, the reader, but for me… for our family. Writing is a process that helps me “process” things emotionally. So I feel a little deceptive not blogging on “real time” and being all elusive.

Ultimately, in 32 hours We will land our feet on Zambian soil for the first time. What will it be like? Are we crazy for thinking about moving to a country we have never been to before? What is God going to do? (because I KNOW HE WILL do something!) My heart feels focused and ready. I’m going to let go of the distractions of the past week… of the possibilities and options and frantic fear of “not being in God’s will” and I’m going to cleanse my heart and mind of those things. I’m envisioning me, my hubby, and the Trinity on this trip. I’m going to walk with the Holy Spirit each day, enjoying this journey and I’m going to STOP trying to figure out what my mind will never know. Rather, I’m going to listen for His voice… I know He wants to be known. He loves me. He knows my heart wants to do WHATEVER He wants. I will rest and walk with Him…. Trusting He will speak in His timing and I will be ready to listen. My heart is quieting and I am eager to see what God does this next week. London here we come… then to Jo-Burg… then Zambia. Ahh, yeah!

Post #3: Wednesday, April 14th

Well, we have been in Zambia for 2 full days now. Jet lag is leaving, and sleep was great last night. I’m getting used to the mosquito net, barking dogs, and time change. The first night and am I woke up, I wanted to go home. I missed my kiddos so badly, and hate being away. However, I have prayed God would give me a peace so that I would not be distracted, and the anxiety is gone. GONE. I am not scared being here. I’m not consumed with crazy thoughts about black mumbas or malaria. It’s beautiful. The kids are amazing… not perfect.. but amazing. I can certainly see our life here. Yesterday we ran errands with David. He has quite the work cut out for him. We bought food, went to the grocery store (Its actually nice) , and did some other things. This area seems like a nice place to be when it comes to people, etc. Today, I became “Auntie Mitzi” … it was kinda nice, I have to say. The boys have David and Luke to pour into them, but the girls are craving that same attention. It was nice today to let them just play with my hair, and talk… it’s what girls do no matter where you are from! I also got to play “Miss Mary Mac…” remember that one? I broke up one fight, and also consoled a couple of kiddos today. There is so much potential in these children, and in this program that it is exciting to be a part of. I have to be honest, I have prayed that we would be able to leave the madness of home behind and just be able to focus on “Is God calling us to Zambia?” I believe the answer is Yes. While we want to hold back, not be emotional about the decision, We both can see our lives here. Our children’s lives here. It will be SO different, SO HARD, SO MUCH CHANGE. I know there will be times that I just want to “go home.” Fear and grief is what keeps us held. Caution, loyalty, etc. BUT none of those things are being confirmed from God. God has said “wait” in the past, and I don’t sense that here and now. We shall see. (*and of course, now we know… because one week after this post, we confirmed and put our final “Yes” on the table.)

*I have so many stories to tell, and I will tell them in the coming weeks... so many things that I couldn't possibly post it all... I just want to say again... that tonight, as I'm "pricing" the stuff in my house to sell tomorrow... and starting that shedding process of what is comfortable and "known", I focus on 2 things... Jesus and those children. Love them both deeply. It's worth letting go of my "stuff."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Timeline before 1st trip to Zambia post #8 or is it #9?

At this point... here is the breakdown:

*Went to Lifesong HQ... met the amazing people who work there, plus got to see how strawberries are freeze dried + try some tasty kids yogurt bites... who knew that Indiana was the food production capital of the world? (I'm not sure that's true...but it felt like it) While we were there, we felt a peace about moving forward. We knew that going to Zambia would be the next logical step, but when Andy Lehman showed us our possible flight itenirary... I think I almost passed out. So. real. So. real. So. real.

*We had 2 1/2 weeks before we flew to Zambia. Our families were 100% supportive and on board with however God led us. The kids knew we were going to Zambia "to see how we could help some children there" but had no idea of the possible move ahead. Why rock their world unnecessarily? Although, we had MANY conversations that this was not a trip to bring home baby sister... and it didn't sink in because KG still told everyone while we were gone that we went to get her. *disappointed upon our return.

*Fear... so.much.fear. click here and here to read the posts in "real life" time on how God dealt with me through His word.

This is really happening... this could really happen... oh.my.word.

*tomorrow morning I am going to post at once all my posts from Zambia... with a video of our pics. Then this story will be all wrapped up. It will be a ton of reading...so beware...

Post #8: Calls and such...

Now that we have felt "yes... God is clearly leading us in this direction." , we are moving forward and "officially" in the pool of people they are looking at for this position. Yes, after all that... we still aren't sure if THEY "FOR SURE" want us and if we "FOR SURE" will go. BUT, we needed to know our stuff before getting involved on their end. We sent in our resumes and now have had a call and a "Skype" conference with the staff in Zambia.
The call was great. Trust me, at this point, while YOU may be excited... reality is certainly the main focus currently. We have a million questions, and have been asking them! That is another amazing thing. God has provided another Mom in Malawi to converse with me about life in Africa with young children... about Malaria... nets... insecticide... cooking... filtering water... shopping for groceries/market... schooling... etc. It has been GREAT. So, the call was no different. We were able to hear more of the realities of living in Zambia, along with what is going on there currently... as well as the needs they have. BUT the BEST part for me (Shane would probably disagree) was when I found out that a family from Florida lives around the block and they have 10 kids!!! WAHOO!! No kidding, last night I was praying "God, give me just one other mom who can speak English" ... and He answers so faithfully.

As for now, we are still waiting. But as of today, my heart is in it. God has melted away the majority of fears, and freed my heart to love the people of Zambia fully. At this point, I'm in... my heart wants to be there. At the same time, I know God has been in this journey and He is revealing himself to me more and more. And if nothing else, for that I'm completely blown away.

On Monday, another phone call. Waiting Waiting... trusting, and being thankful for the things that in a few months I will miss greatly (dishwashers and hot showers and drive thru's)

*In real time here... I only have a few more posts... I will post one more tonight that gives a timeline to leaving for Zambia on our trip in April... and then I will post all of my entries while in Zambia at one time. Then... I will be done back-blogging... I'm usually not this wordy of a blogger... really!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Post #7: About that blank sheet of paper...

On Friday, I spent much time in the word and in prayer... and God spoke to my heart deeply. That's when He gave me the post: God's invitation. That day, I told Shane that I will go to Zambia, know that God in this, but at the end of the day... my prayers have turned to him. "I will stay if God tells you to stay, and I will go if God tells you to go." While we have been praying with and for each other for the last 16 days now, I knew God was asking me to release the burden of the decision. I am in it, feeling completely called, or I will wait if God is leading us to wait. Since Friday, I have felt a huge release, and joy in knowing that God will confirm to Shane His will for our family... and I don't have to make that decision.

Shane has been absolutely experiencing God's call, and he has certainly seen God working in this situation in amazing ways. He is cautious, and should be, because we are his responsibility. He has already relinquished "perceived control" of provision to God ... and now he has to do that with "perceived protection." It is hard for a man, because God wired them to provide and protect. Shane does this, amazingly... and honestly, I'm grateful for a husband who is clearly depending upon the one true source of our provision and protection rather than believing He is enough. That brings true security. But, nevertheless, that is a process that is H.A.R.D.

After spending time in the word yesterday, He indicated that God had spoken to him clearly and directly, and that more than likely we would let Lifesong know that we would like to continue walking this path, feeling God is clearly opening doors and possibly putting before us the work He has prepared for us in advance to do.

Today, on the way to church, He said... "Yes, we want to move forward." Our "yes" is on the table and God can do with it what He wants. wow. That feeling in my stomach was a mix of complete joy in Christ and bats flapping around! But don't you know, God doesn't leave room for doubt... I am so grateful. We get to our small group for church, and one of our friends is teaching in James 3 about wisdom. Wisdom, Discernment, and Knowledge. At the end, He basically handed out a blank sheet of paper and asked us to consider "putting our yes on the table to God"... (exact words he used, mind you)... signing a blank sheet of paper and giving it to God... no exceptions... no expectations beyond what we know is true about God... and allowing Him to use our lives however he wants. Well... we had officially done that in the car on the way to church... and now we have the blank paper... signed by us to prove it... ha. God is good to speak to us in so many different ways, even when the speaker is COMPLETELY UNKNOWING about our situation. God is good... and this is just another way He is showing us that He loves us dearly, and has invited us into something amazing that He is doing... on the other side of the world. So, we will send off our "yes" and see what God does with that... nothing definite, but God's certainly up to something...
Completely Undone...

Post #6: Mix of current day + another amazing God thing...

Currently, we want to let everyone know where we are in our process for AJ...
We have revisited this subject more than a million times over the last couple of months. Without a doubt, this has been the most heartbreaking aspect of our decision to move to Zambia. (sorry mom, I'll miss you, I swear). The thought of walking away from the adoption was SO HARD. We prayed, cried, grieved, and even asked God to "leave us alone" and let us stay on the course we were one before February 11th. We wrestled with the decision, and begged God to make it clear that this is what HE was asking us to do. And, of course, you are about to read how He did just that within DAYS of our begging. I have always prided myself (first mistake) of saying "I'm allowing God to build my family, one child at a time... from whatever place." He convicted me that in this process... I was holding out tightly... and NOT allowing Him to do HIS work. "Do you trust me enough to let go?" "Do you trust me enough to believe I want to bless your family with more children through adoption?" "Will you hold onto how I've revealed myself to you even in the absolute hardest circumstance?" Yes. Yes I will. BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT! ha. I grieved terribly. Call me crazy, but I love this little girl in Ethiopia... although I do not know her. I have prayed for her. I envisioned her sleeping beside me. And now... will it ever happen? But in Zambia, He showed me that I do not "need" adoption to allow my heart to love like a mother. I fell in love... and I will love them like I would love my own. And, when God chooses, He will add to our family. So, in February... we went on "hold" and 2 weeks ago, we officially withdrew from the Ethiopia program. Any money that we get back from our adoption will be given to our church to help with their adoption grant fund they are starting. Our adoption story isn't over... it is just becoming more unpredictable than ever... I can honestly say my heart is at peace... as He has done amazing things... read about it yourself...

"So, tonight as I was doing the dishes, He gently reminded me of a provision yesterday that I had completely overlooked. I received an email from a girl that I had met briefly a few weeks ago... but we had no contact info for each other. The girl had gotten my email address inadvertenly from our caseworker (we have the same adoption agency) who put her in contact with us because of our pursuit of the adoption of a child with HIV (when we went on "the list" we were the only family pursuing HIV adoption specifically). She and her husband are, too, pursuing the same type of adoption with our agency. It is NO coincidence that they are requesting a child with the same parameters as ours. God has provided another family for the little girl that I thought was mine. They will be ready to BRING HER HOME, while we end up GOING to beautiful children of Zambia... and possibly to where my future children are. I do not know what God has planned, but what I know is that He has provided ultimate peace... a family for the child I thought would be ours, and the peace to move into a life I could have never dreamed of just 3 weeks ago.

The thought of this answered prayer is really unbelievably overwhelming. I have begged God to show me that "this is OK." I feel so grieved about this, but yet have peace. I can't believe that God cares SO MUCH about me... about my heart, that He wanted me to see that there is another family... and I trust HE is raising up many families for children living with HIV. If you want to know more about that... just let me know, and I can hook you up with some pretty amazing people!!"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The TRUTH about our adoption... Post #5

We must be completely transparent at this point, only because we feel it is significant to our story at this point. While some of you know, because it wasn't a secret, many of you do not, because it wasn't necessary for you to know... God had moved in our hearts when starting our first adoption (with E)... as we went through the infamous "check list" of things we will "accept" and "not accept"... what a heavy, heavy task. I was sitting on an airplane. We first, without thought, went through that checklist with our flesh. Then, God said "YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING NO TO"... specifically when we came to HIV. So, Ok, I can at least educate myself on an issue that I don't have to bring into my home. cool. Sure, God, I'll educate myself on what I'm saying No to. cool.
The next few months we spent reading... I remember when I read "HIV is easier to treat than diabetes in children." WHAT? surely not! I remember reading things like "they can live a normal life expectancy with the medication." WHAT? "There is no known transmission of the disease within normal household environments." WHAT? "It can actually become undetectable in the system, they can grow up and get married and have children." WHAT? and, that truly it is a matter of medication availability and diet that determines if a child with HIV will live or die. In addition, YOU can't pick them out.. nor can I. We also read Red Letters by Tom Davis. We were ruined... gloriously, for the sake of children, specifically orphans, living with HIV around the world. So, maybe to your surprise, over the last 2 years we have prepared ourselves, our home, and our family for the welcoming home of a child... our sweet AJ... who would be HIV +. We didn't want it any other way... God had given us that passion and desire. We WANTED her. and we still do. Only, now, we don't know when that will be and... there will be many of them who I will love as I would love her. Living among the children deeply in need. In Zambia, 1 in 5 children have been infected HIV/AIDS, and 10% of the population are orphans...largely due to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Zambia has one of the highest HIV rates in all of Africa between 15-20%. God was preparing us, educating us, and removing fear and replacing it with passion for a group of people largely ignored by the church. We thought it was for our one, but now we see it was for loving many.
Don't be scared, "Know what you don't know now" ... God truly spoke to my heart to be educated. YOU can be educated, too. It is FAR different than you think. Now, while I really can't speak about who God will set into my family at this point, nor if they will be + or not... know that We as a family will live among and hopefully with those living and fighting a disease that doesn't HAVE to take their life. It doesn't have to take their mommy or daddy. It doesn't have to take their little child. Educate yourselves... and maybe even consider checking the "yes" box on that checklist if you are in the adoption process.
Some of our favorite resources on HIV/AIDS:
*Next post will be current time about our adoption process and hopefully answer some of your questions...