Follow by Email

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Faith like a child

God continues to move in the hearts of His people. Including six-year-olds.
I am humbled and inspired by an interaction between Joe and Brilyn last night.

Brilyn goes out to the barn just about every night with Joe to help him with evening chores. She is a great helper. Like I always say, she is my capable child. She fills water buckets, scoops grain, carries hay, milks, etc.

While they milk, Brilyn always requests a story, and Joe obliges. Last night, Joe told her Anastasija's story. (Our kids love stories about themselves and family members. I have told Brilyn the story of her birth about a million times and she loves it. It's not even very exciting. The details don't change, they just like to hear the stories.)

Joe talked about how Anastasija had grown up without a mom or dad, and how she was hosted by our family, and how we would like to adopt her. He ended by saying that it will be very expensive and that we are trusting God to provide all we need.

At this point, Brilyn stops milking, leans around the back of the cow, and says, "Well, I think I know how to help with that." Then she got up and gave Joe and big hug and a smile, then she sat back down to finish milking.

When they got in the house, she found her piggy bank and disappeared up in her room for a while. When she came down, she handed Joe a sock full of money and said, "Here you go. This should help." In it was $24.74, which left her with only $9.63 in her piggy bank. She told Joe she gave her shiniest dollars for Anastasija. These shiny dollars are the golden dollars the tooth fairy gave her.

She has only lost three teeth, and she gave three shiny dollars. She also gave away her $20 bill. When Joe asked her if she was sure wanted to give away her golden dollars AND her $20, she replied, "Why not? I don't need anything, and Anastasija needs A FAMILY. Who cares?" 

Oh gracious Father in heaven,
Please let us become like little children. Let us give away our shiny golden dollars and our Big Money because we see others' needs- and not our own.
Thank you for a daughter from whom I can learn so much, and help me to not distract or dissuade her from trusting and obeying You with her whole heart.
Amen.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Falling forward

from Orphanology:


"My hope is that the Homes for Hope for Children story serves as a source of encouragement for those who are struggling to accomplish something great that God has placed upon their hearts. I was told along the way that the vision was inrealistic, and it often seemed the biggest challenge was just keeping the vision intact. As tough times hit and the mountain seems to steep, the temptation is to decrease expectations and standards. I encourage you to adhere to what the Lord has called you to do. There are those in need that are counting on you, and God has called you to meet their needs. Current events, a bad economy, or any other obstacle that is placed in front of you does not surprise Him. Keep moving forward, even it it requires at times to simply fall forward."
~Dr. Michael Garrett

Executive Director: Homes of Hope for Children

Read about how God is caring for the fatherless in south Mississippi through Homes of Hope for Children

It's a cool ministry. I am amazed at what God does through people who are willing to do it. Willing to take a risk and look stupid if they fail, but trusting that God won't fail, that He will come through to complete the good work He starts in us.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why not?

"All adoption and all orphan care by Christians- by those who are justified by grace alone through faith alone and the basis of Christ alone- is done by faith."
~John Piper

"We adopt as an outward working of our faith, no more no less.
Adoption is God's will. It says so throughout the New Testament...Maybe the question we should be giving families an opportunity to wrestle with is this: "Why shouldn't I adopt?"  If we know that adoption is God revealed will, and adoption is His Plan A for both bringing us into the kingdom (Eph 1: having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,) and caring for orphans (James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.), then why shouldn't we assume that adoption is God's will for all Christian families and then look for signs that God isn't leading us to adopt?"
~'Orphanology' excerpts from page 116, (supporting scripture added by me)

This line of thought resonates with me because as we were trying to discern God's will for hosting Anastasija, a friend on facebook asked me "Why not?" This question was very influential in our decision to host.
And then, it was very influential in our decision to begin our application process to adopt.

We mailed our application yesterday. Once we hear from the agency that we can go ahead and start our home study and immigration paperwork, we will let you know how you can support us.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us!
XO

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why?

What is the point? Why would we adopt when we obviously have no trouble making our 'own' babies?

Well, it follows from a basic premise to which Joe and I both ascribe: People are valuable.

All people are valuable.  People are made in the image of God.
So God says.
So we say.

Children are special. They are defenseless. God gets worked up about the defenseless. So we get worked up about the defenseless. Anyone who knows me, knows that abortion breaks my heart. Unborn babies are the MOST defenseless. I feel compelled to speak up for these who cannot speak up for themselves. I feel deeply motivated to care for those most affected by abortion- vulnerable women and defenseless children. God has called me, commanded me, to do so.

It should not come as a surprise then, that God has also called and commanded me to care for orphans. They are a tie for me for the position of most defenseless with preborn children. They have a little more autonomy and ability to get their needs met, but they do not have the luxury of still being with their mother.
I believe that a commitment to advocating for preborn children directly leads to caring for orphans. The authors of "Orphanology" ask a very sharp-edged question to those who spend their time and energy protesting abortion, "Would you be willing to adopt these kids if they were not aborted?" Orphan care is where the rubber meets the road for those who value the sancitity of life.

I am especially moved by the words of Christ when it comes to children: Mark 9:36 "Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but
Him who sent Me.”

I have been shown  through Bibly study and the Holy Spirit three specific groups of children God recognizes as made in His image and expects us to receive:

unborn children
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
~Psalm 139

biological children
 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it
~Genesis 1

 and orphans
5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.

6 God sets the solitary in families;

He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;

But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
~Psalm 68

All three of these categories of people have been devalued and marginalized in our culture and around the world. Babies in the wombs of unmarried women? A drain on society to be eliminated. Babies in families? Best limited to 2.3 per household. Orphans? Best to just ignore, their problems are too big to be helped.

But God calls us to receive them.
How strongly have your opinions on children been influenced by the world? Look at your heart and your attitudes. Do you freely and happily receive children? Or do you think it's better to eliminate, limit, and ignore? Honestly, don't people KNOW WHAT CAUSES children?

So, why am I applying to adopt a ten year old when I am 9 months pregnant? Why do I pray so hard and talk so much about the tragedy of abortion? Because God says these are His people, made in His image, and I am blessed to receive them.

Receive the little ones; receive Christ and the ONE who sent Him.

XO

Monday, January 23, 2012

LIFE

I don't know if anyone else sees, it, but I think Anastasija looks like my mom. And, it doesn't surprise me that God would give me the small gift of seeing a physical resemblance there. I hope there is more than just a physical resemblance- for myself, as well as for Anastasija. It's good to look like my mom, it's even better have some of her strength.

Because, I learned the lessons of caring for and speaking up for the marginalized of society from my mother. It makes sense to me that I would think of that today, my birthday, and the date of this year's Life March. Because those things have to do with my mom. She gave me life, and then she taught me to respect it- all of it. I remember her making signs to take to local Life Chains, and I remember well our trip to Washington, D.C. one January to speak out againt the violence toward women and chilren that Roe v. Wade legalized. 

Before that, I vaguely remember her as a foster mom to teen girls when I was very little. I remember her home being open to people who needed a safe place to stay. Later in her life she provided respite care for kids in foster care. She allowed God to use her home and family to accomplish His plan for setting the lonely in families.

My mother put energy and effort into protecting and advocating and caring for those who cannot help themselves. Truly, the theme of caring for the fatherless comes to mind- unwanted babies who are not yet born, and kids in the foster system.

I am glad that Anastasija looks like my mom (at least to me). I hope she lives up to her looks and her given name- the breaker of the chains. Because to break chains you need to have two things: strength and compassion. My mother had a good dose of both, and hope I've got some of it- enough to pass on to my daughters.

XO

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The most wonderful phone message ever (a transcript)

Hi this is Cathy Sawyer with An Open Door and I've got great news. I've confirmed with Daina that Anastasija, and I apologize if I'm not saying her name correctly, but she wants to be adopted by your family and she's free for adoption. Daina says that according to the, I think it's her foster mom where she's living, she looks at the hosting pictures all the time and cries. She really misses you guys. And Daina's going to look for a number and address so that you can communicate with her. I would encourage you to complete an application and let's get started right away if you're ready so that we can work together to bring her back quickly. Please call me.

Count it all joy....

 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4

This is a verse that Christians like to read, and memorize, but not actually believe and do. I know very few people (okay, I can't think of any) who count trials as joy- ESPECIALLY when they are still in the trial and not on the other side of it yet.

I shared a few days ago from Katie Davis' blog about how it is important to find beauty in God's process, not just the finished result.
I think James takes this thought one step further by asking us to count it ALL JOY when trials come. All joy means, to me, not one bit of grumbling.

Having just read 'Weird' by Craig Groeschel and being encouraged to be different from the world and even from most American Christians, and starting out pretty weird anyway, I decided to count the above situation all JOY.
God has been showing me lately that He can be trusted to have a GOOD PLAN. Plans to prosper, not harm. So, I looked at that mess and thought, "Huh, I wonder what awesome blessing God has in mind for THAT." And I had perfect peace. And, even JOY. Some humor even. I mean, LOOK at that angle, you totally couldn't have AIMED that tree to hit that van any more thoroughly.

Now, a disclaimer. I did not get this way through any strength or goodness of my own. This faith. It is a gift of God, through and through.

Romans 12:2-4
New King James Version (NKJV)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
 
Ephesians 2:8New King James Version (NKJV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

I would be an imbecile to not trust that God has a GOOD PLAN in everything by now, after seeing His hand work in so many amazing ways throughout my life and especially over the last few months.

And, God gave me little encouragements throughout the day to keep my JOY right up where it should be- He gave me the verse from James 1 right away in the morning, and He gave me the song "I'm a Child of the King"

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the King.

I have a rich daddy- who cares if my van is squashed? No biggy for Him.

Well, after having this especially weird peace and JOY over my poor, squashed minivan, the Geico guy showed up yesterday. He came into our house and handed us the paper entitled "Total Loss Notification." And he had listed the estimated value of our van.

Now let me backtrack to another God-story here. When we were shopping for that van, we had to do some waiting on God, His time frame for when we would get a van was different from ours. But when He supplied that van, He gave us a RIDICULOUSLY good deal on a MUCH NICER van than we really needed.

So, the value written on that sheet? Was just about $3,000.00 more than what we paid for our van just over two years ago. Let me just say that it is only in God's economy that vehicles APPRECIATE in value.

I do not know what God's plan is for that extravagant gift of money. Maybe He knows we are going to need a bigger car. Maybe He knows we are going to need the cash. Maybe He knows of a BIG NEED somewhere in the world, and when we hear about it, we will be prepared to give this money to folks who need it. We are waiting on Him to see how He wants us to use that money. I'll let you know.

But in the meantime, Glory to GOD.

So, back to the 'count it all JOY' thing. Friends, I would like to challenge you to find your JOY in the trials. Because, as weird and not-normal-human-response as it is, it is GOD'S desired response. He has a GOOD PLAN. He is RICH RICH RICH. Paul prays in a number of places for Christians to come to know and understand the ENORMOUS RICHES that are in Christ Jesus. I am starting to understand why. Because, when you understand that God is all-powerful and all-loving and that He is on your side, you can have perfect peace and JOY in the face of any difficulty. (On a random side note, please do not mistake this for prosperity gospel, God does not want to make you rich. I am just saying that HE is rich.)

God wants you to put your emotions where your mouth is and be happy when you see a problem because you KNOW KNOW KNOW in your heart that even if the enemy meant it to harm you, God WILL use it to PERFECT you.

Laughing at trials and smiling at troubles,
XO
Joce

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mommy and Daddy

I think this goes even more strongly for Joe and 'daddy':


“Mommy." She said it and I knew. She was mine. I was captivated. Because "Mommy" is forever. It's such a powerful name. Mommy means "I trust you." Mommy means "you will protect me." Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited. Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad, or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place - a safe place. Mommy means "you are mine and I am yours and we are family.”

― Katie J. Davis, Kisses from Katie

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kisses from Katie

I am now reading Kisses from Katie. She posted on her blog today, and it was such a good reminder. She talks about seeing the beauty in God's process, not just in His end result. It reminds me of the idea to count it all joy when we fall in trials. Not just after we fall into trials and can see God's lovely result- but during the trials. Here's a link to her post.

Enjoy.
XO

Friday, January 13, 2012

Care package opportunity

From New Horizons:

Dear families,
As a mission team fundraiser, NHFC offers to personally carry “Ziploc” care packages and deliver them to former host children. We accept a gallon ziploc bag of gifts for a $50 donation, quart ziploc bag of gifts for a $25 donation or a flat envelope with flat items/letter/photo/stickers for a $10 donation. The bag must close and a contents list should be showing through. List some type of identifier on the bag such as the child’s name, orphanage, city, country and/or ID#.
Do NOT send items that are not allowed during hosting, no cash and no chocolate, it WILL melt.
Watch the weight and keep it light.
In most cases, we can deliver the package personally and photograph the child. If we cannot for some reason, our in-country coordinator will personally deliver or mail.

Bags to Latvia are due by January 20th and must be mailed to:

New Horizons for Children, 3950 Cobb Parkway Suite 708, Acworth, GA 30101.
Checks are due WITH the bag and are payable to New Horizons for Children

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Conference call

We participated in a conference call last to find out more about the adoption process for Latvia.

I'll keep you updated on how things move along. Our first step is to contact An Open Door Adoption agency and find out if Anastasija is truly available for international adoption.

Another question we will ask is if/when we can contact Anastasija, and what we can tell her. There are funny little things that can mess things up over there, so we want to be very careful.

Please pray for Anastasija at this time, since she has no idea that we are pursuing adopting her. She is a resilient girl, but I am afraid that she might feel abandoned by us, and that thought hurts my heart.

She told me before she left that Jesus is her friend. I pray that her friendship with Christ will sustain her while she is apart from our family. I also know that God has been taking care of her for years and He continues to care for her. She is out the reach of my arms, but not God's.

XO
Joce

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Big Decisions

God is good. He has a good plan.

And, He is faithful to guide those who will wait on Him.

Thank you for your prayers, and thanks to those of you who followed God's nudge and contacted us via email or phone call or FB and told us just what God was telling you.

Thanks to the sister who stayed up at night praying and followed God's nudge to tell us to read His word and trust and obey what it says.

Thanks to the brother who got woken up by a powerful dream about adoption and shared it with us.

Thanks to the sister who got a vision of the permanance of Anastasija in our life.

Thanks to the sister who got a vision of God's Big Plans for Anastasija, whose name means 'resurrection, breaker of the chains,' (from the very first time you saw her picture).

Thanks to the MANY people who have felt burdened to pray for us and have done so diligently over the last few days and weeks. Your prayers have made a difference in our lives.

Thanks for the words of encouragement.

Thanks thanks thanks.

Thanks to God for being SO ABUNDANTLY CLEAR with us that it is a good thing, a God thing, to pursue making Anastasija a permanant part of our family. I do not know what the future holds, but I know that God loves to place the lonely in families, and that our family is a part of that plan for Anastasija.

One of the coolest things so far has been the way that God has nudged and spoken to various people who we don't even get to spend a lot of time with. Just good, godly folks who spend time talking to God.

Our first step is a conference call tomorrow night at 8. Please keep us in prayer at that time, that our kids will stay (quietly) occupied and that we will learn all we can about this long, complicated process.

XO!
Joce

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Verse of the Day

A verse:

"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17 NKJV (biblegateway.com verse of the day)



And a thought:

When a needy person stands at your door, God himself stands at his side.

Hebrew Proverb

Christmas Tree

Brilyn wants to take the tree down on Saturday, before Anastasija leaves, "While the whole family is still together."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Verse of the Day

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 NKJV

And a thought:
"... not because we are rescuers, but because we are the rescued....."

Monday, January 02, 2012

God's (elusive?) will

WARNING: Very honest post ahead.
-----------------------------------------------
In the middle of a Christian culture asking. “How do I find God’s will for my life?” “What do you want me to do God?” The answer is clear. The will of God is for you and me to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the gospel and the glory of God known among all peoples. The question, therefore, is not “Can we find God’s will?” The question is “Will we obey God’s will?”

The message of biblical Christianity is God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness- known among all nations. God centers on himself, even in our salvation. Remember in Ezekiel: he saves us, not for our sake, but for the sake of his holy name. The most glorious reason you exist is for the proclamation of the glory of God to the ends of the world.
~David Platt, Radical
---------------------------------------------------------

Joe and I are faced with a Big Decision (BD). Should we wait for a(nother) miraculous sign from God to let us know we should say 'Yes' to the BD? Or are we just shuffling our feet, knowing in our hearts that God has already made His will known? Or am I just leaning toward "yes" for my own reasons and God is actually trying to tell me "No" or "Not now" and I have my fingers in my ears? LALALALALA.

I have been reading George Muller's biography over the last few months. He, like me, had good and bad tendencies- good tendency: trusting that God can and will provide all we need; bad tendency: getting ahead of God because we are just so excited to do His work.

God's plan for George (and for me) had times of waiting and growing, not doing. God worked that out so George would be ready when it was time. God's time.

I know God has a plan. A good plan. And I know that the plan He has is one to prosper, to give a future and a hope. OOH! OOH! I KNOW SOMEONE WHO NEEDS A FUTURE AND A HOPE! Is it MY heart and MY home that will help provide that future and hope? Will I be Christ's hands and arms and hugs to This Person?

I know God sets the lonely in families. OOH! OOH! I know a lonely Person who needs a family. And, I HAVE a family!

I know God wants me to care for orphans and widows. Oh! Look- I have an orphan RIGHT HERE.

Adoption is obviously something God is into. He DOES that kind of thing. He COMMANDS us to do it. Adoption is a major theme in the gospel.

Please pray for us. Pray that God will draw us to HIM, and that our hearts would be quiet and good at listening to His still small voice. That we would be willing to WAIT on Him, having faith that He will answer.

XO
Joce

About Me

About Me
I love Jesus, my hubby, my 6 kiddos, my farm, good books and good food.