Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Young Man and His Bible...

I'm going to take a break from all things adoption today to introduce you to a very special friend of mine - and ask that you keep he and his family in your prayers.
Micah is 20-years-old and is the BIGGEST OU fan I know! He was born with a very rare genetic syndrome called Costello Syndrome. There are only about 300 known cases in the world. Micah has also been diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer) twice and was recently diagnosed with cancer for the third time. This time he was diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia.
What I love about Micah is his spirit - his passion for life! He has faced many difficult situations but he is never without hope!
I have been privileged to get to know Micah and his family through the volunteer work I do at the children's hospital and through my job with Children's Miracle Network.
Yesterday I stopped by the hospital to visit Micah (he will be in the hospital for at least 30 days and will likely need a bone marrow transplant soon) and something caught my eye.
Laying right beside Micah on the bed was his Bible. Micah can't read, but he began to flip through the pages of the worn book.
His mom commented that despite Micah's inability to read, his Bible is the most worn and used Bible she has ever seen.
The sight of Micah flipping through God's Word really touched my heart. He can't read the words, but he still clings to God's Word. God's Word is important to Him.
I started thinking....do I cling to God's word like that? How many times have I taken for granted my ability to open the Bible and read the words that were inspired by my Savior?
Yesterday Micah reminded me to always cling to God's word....it is life, it is truth, it is our hope!
Once again, please pray for Micah and his family. They have a tough road ahead. You can read more about Micah and his journey at http://waltersfamily.wordpress.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Am I Willing To Sacrifice??

A few days ago, I learned an amazing lesson on sacrifice from a 13-year-old. My friend's daughter felt led to donate the money that she had been saving to our adoption fund. How humbling! I choked back tears when my friend told me of her daughter's sacrifice for a child she doesn't even know.
Lately I have felt the Lord has ask me what I am willing to sacrifice to meet the financial needs of this adoption. With every Bible study I do, every sermon I hear and book I read, a common theme remains: sacrifice, not finding my security in the things of this world, stepping out of my comfort zone to be radical for God.
For several weeks I have felt God nudging me to sale my wedding ring. I'm almost ashamed to admit that it's worth enough to finish this first phase of fundraising for the initial cost of the adoption. At one time, I was so determined to have a big "rock" on my finger that I didn't care what it cost (or what it cost John). Now I am so determined to bring this baby home that I can't imagine choosing my ring over the child that God has chosen for John and I.
But that doesn't mean that I don't battle with my "flesh" over selling my ring. After all, it IS my wedding ring. John had it made especially for me and there are great memories attached to it (including the proposal on the beach in Maui). But I have to remind myself that it's just a ring; a material possession that has no eternal value.
On the other hand, this child that God has hand-picked for our family and this adoption have significant eternal value.
This journey is all about bringing glory to God; all about furthering His kingdom.
Sunday at church we studied the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
We learned that talents are God given opportunities used to further His kingdom. God's pleasure does not depend on how many opportunities (talents) we are given, just that we don't waste the opportunities that we do have.
I have the opportunity to make a sacrifice that will have an eternal impact on a child. A sacrifice that will also have an eternal impact on John and I - and possibly an impact on many other people who witness God's Glory through this adoption. What if our story leads someone to Christ?? What if it is only because of our adoption that this child hears about Jesus?? Eternal Value!
"Sacrifice is giving away what it hurts to give..." but we must remember "God is committed to providing abundant resources in support of those who are living according to His purpose" (David Platt)
"I have a choice. I can cling to short term treasures that I can not keep, or I can live for long term treasures that I cannot lose: people coming to Christ; men, women and children living because they now have food; unreached tribes receiving the gospel. And the all-consuming satisfaction of knowing and experiencing Christ as the treasure above all others" (Platt).
My prayer is that I will be obedient to what God is asking me to do. That I'll make this sacrifice and "not be content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is It Too Soon To Start Decorating the Nursery???

I intended to write a blog on sacrifice today - what the Lord is asking me to sacrifice for this adoption. I will have to write about that tomorrow. Today I am super excited about the artwork I discovered this weekend.....I SO want these paintings to hang in our nursery! (They're the three canvases labeled original pieces).
Aren't they super???
The artist is from Ada, Oklahoma and all the proceeds from her art sales benefit her families adoption...
Today I have been planning how to decorate the nursery around these three paintings!!! Is it too soon to start decorating???
They are just fabulous.....
Check out "Custom Art For Our Cause" at http://artforourcause.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Garage Sale Was a HUGE Success....

A BIG Thank You goes out to the Aga's, Jackson's, Shuler's, Wiley's, Hands and LeeAnn for donating items for our garage sale today. We raised $700....more than I ever dreamed we would! Today marks one month until we turn in our application and "officially" start the adoption process. This adoption has been on our hearts and one of our top priorities for over 8 months now. I can't imagine how we are going to feel when we mail that application off on October 25th (our 2-year wedding anniversary!) 
As of today, we have raised $9,150. WOW! God is providing in such amazing ways! We are over half-way to our goal of $18,000!
Today during the garage sale, we met several people who have adopted children. It was neat getting to hear their stories. One lady shared how she and her husband adopted a son, but he passed away at the age of 18. She reminded me that children are really loaned to us by God and sometimes it's only for a short while. She told me not to take a single moment of this journey for granted. I almost bawled my eyes out. But what a humbling reminder that God has chosen John and I for this journey. He is entrusting one of His precious children to our care. 
Here are a few photos from the garage sale. We sold almost EVERYTHING! We also had some local firemen come visit our sale in their firetruck :)

 John and I. We aren't big fans of garage sales (our last one was a huge bust!) but we'll do about anything for our Missing Linck!
 Shelli and I. Thank you Aga's for letting us use your garage and driveway. Garage Sales are just better in Norman!!!
 There was a constant stream of people all morning.....
 Shelli and I thought we had done something wrong when the firetruck pulled up :)
  This was all that was left!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Golfers and Puzzle Pieces....

We are knee-deep in golf tournament planning. So far we have 12 teams signed up. We just need 3 more teams to meet our requirement with the golf course. I must say I am a little anxious about getting enough players for the tournament. John and I hope and pray this event is a success because it is something we hope to host each year to help other families who are wanting to adopt. We know the financial burden of adoption and we hope that in the years to come we can help others who have the same desire to adopt as we do.
If you know of anyone who likes to play golf, please spread the word about the Birdies for Babies Golf Tournament on October 23rd! It's going to be a fun-filled day of golf, for a great cause....to help bring home our Missing Linck! It will also be a chance to spread the word about Able Ministries! We are so thankful that Able Ministries has partnered with us on this event. We can't wait to work with them in the future to help other families. Our prayer is that God will get all of the glory for this golf tournament. It's because of Him that we have 12 teams signed up so far!

The Puzzle Piece Fundraiser is still on-going.....we have had 20 people sponsor puzzle pieces. We just have 40 pieces to go....remember, we are planning to frame the finished puzzle in double-sided glass so that our child will always be able to see the names of those who helped bring them home to their forever family. If you would like a puzzle piece, you can purchase one here on the blog...just press the "Buy Now" button on the right....or you can e-mail me and I will get you a puzzle piece.

I have been reminded A LOT over the past few days that God is ABLE! I know that He will provide the resources we need to make sure we bring this baby home. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us, donated to our adoption fund and supported us on this journey so far. We could not be doing any of this without you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God is ABLE! But do I really believe that He is able, with all of my heart, soul and mind? Does my life reflect that I believe this truth?
I think far too often I put too much trust in people (who are going to let me down) and not enough trust in God.
This week during my Bible study I learned that our foundation (what we believe about God) is critical to our spiritual growth.
Two key concepts to a good spiritual foundation are: (1) Knowing God is ABLE (2) Knowing He is trustworthy and faithful.
"Unless we are convinced that His character is trustworthy, we may be tempted to doubt either His ability or His willingness to meet our needs." (Priscella Shirer)
This week I have doubted. I have forgotten that my God is ABLE to provide the finances for this adoption. ABLE to provide 4 more teams for the golf tournament. ABLE to move in the frustrating areas of my job.
I've had a rotten attitude and God reminded me that He doesn't like my grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:14) I am supposed to give thanks always - in all circumstances! (1st Thessalonians 5:18)
I have been trying to do things in my own strength. I've allowed the unfaithfulness of other people to affect the way I perceive the faithfulness of God. Overall, I've failed the faith test over the past few days. But Praise God that He is ABLE! That when I fail, He is right there to pick me up, to carry the load and to help me to overcome my unbelief. All I have to do is cry out to Him!
All I have to do is fix my eyes on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:2) Turn my focus away from my "impossible" situations and instead focus on Jesus.
In my Bible study, I am learning that "the abundant life means pouring out honor, praise and worship in spite of difficult circumstances." I have not done a good job of that this week.
I must remember:
  1. My God is ABLE!
  2. My God is able to surprise me
  3. NOW is the time to start considering the ability of God.
  4. The abundant life is when, in the midst of my impossible situation I say "Now is the time!"

"Whatever God has asked me to pursue, He will accompany me to complete. I can move forward with confidence since His ability will equip me to accomplish any task that He places before me." (Priscella Shirer)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"To regard a race, group or individual as less important than another is sin in view of the fact that Christ died for all people and for each one in particular. At the foot of the cross, we are equal." (Spirit-filled Bible Commentary on James 2)

My friend Liz posted this quote on her facebook this week and I think it speaks volumes about God's view of race and discriminating people because of the color of their skin.
Race has become a topic that John and I have had to think about a little more often these days; considering we'll be adopting a child of a different ethnicity.
I've never considered myself racist, but growing up i was taught that white people marry white people and black people marry black people. That if God had intended for them to mix, he wouldn't have made so many different races.
When we decided to adopt from Ethiopia we realized we would probably face some criticism for adopting a black baby.
At first I wondered how I would handle people's negative comments, questions and stares. How would I protect my child from the ugliness? Those concerns faded pretty quickly after digging into God's word and reading this quote, which literally brought me to tears.

"The color of love is always the same in the eyes of a child." ~Unknown

I also kept replaying this song from my childhood over and over again in my head:

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

All of those split-second concerns have now disappeared. Now I can't imagine NOT bringing home our Ethiopian baby. I see photos of babies like Solomon and Sophia and my heart just melts at the sight of their precious faces - but my heart also aches because I can't wait to meet our baby.
After years of being told that people of different races weren't supposed to intermarry, I was surprised to discover that the Bible had something completely different to say.
Moses (a Hebrew) was married to an Ethiopian woman! Her name was Zipporah. Moses' sister, Miriam, judged him for marrying Zipporah (likely because of her race). Because of her judgement towards Moses, God caused Miriam to have leprosy. (Numbers 12)
WOW! I think God makes it pretty clear on how He feels when people judge others because of the color of their skin.
We are not to judge. We are to love!

"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another." ~1st John 3:11
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fundraising Update....

Just wanted to update everyone on how the fundraising is going. Since we started fundraising on July 30th, we have raised $7,605 for our adoption. God is SO good! That means we need to raise about $10,000 more to cover the initial adoption fees. I know that God will be faithful to provide the resources we need to bring home our Missing Linck! We are currently selling puzzle pieces for $20 each and working hard on plans for the golf tournament that will be held October 23rd. Here is a breakdown of our fundraising so far:
  • 75 Dozen Cookies were sold!
  • 10 puzzle pieces have been sold (only 50 pieces are left - remember that your name will be written on the back of the piece you sponsor so that we can share with our Missing Linck the names of all of those who helped to bring them home!)
  • 9 Golf Teams have been filled - we need at least 6 more teams!

God is SO faithful! A BIG Thank You to all of you who have contributed to our adoption fund and helped us over the past month. We are humbled by your generosity and your willingness to pray on our behalf!

"God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine, guess or request in your wildest dreams..." Ephesians 3:30

Friday, September 3, 2010

God's Not Finished With Me Yet....

Since the moment John and I decided to adopt, I have known God would use this journey to mold me into the woman He wants me to be. Our adoption will be about much more than becoming parents.
Over the past few months God has been showing me just how much work He still needs to do in me - I need to have a bigger heart for the poor, I need to stop being so selfish and consumed with the things of this world. I need to trust God MORE! Period!
I have realized in the last few weeks that I still rely too much (and find a sense of security) in money. I need to pray that God will "help me overcome my unbelief." I need to step out of my comfort zone and the security of my bank account and trust the "Only One" who will never fail me.
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." ~Hebrews 13:5
This adoption has opened my eyes to the world beyond myself, to the world beyond Oklahoma, and beyond the U.S. God is starting to give me a heart for the poor.
I recently read the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I don't think you can read this book without being changed; without wanting to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus.
Chan writes about our dependency on money and lack of trust in God - and about being "lukewarm" Christians. I read this book and walked away changed - desperately desiring more of Jesus and wanting to be a person who depends less on money and the things of this world.
Chan writes: "What is more messed up - that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don't think we're rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves "broke" or "poor." We are neither of those things. We are rich. Filthy rich."
He adds that "being rich is a serious disadvantage spiritually because "prosperity hardens the heart."
Chan then challenges the reader to desire God more than security. He says, "When it's hard and you are doubtful, give more."
In Malachi 3:10 God says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse....test me now in this, says the Lord. If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."
Chan shares: "Nothing has strengthened my faith more than seeing God bless what I give back to Him, what I surrender at His feet. If you really want to experience God's supernatural provision, then do as He says. Test Him. Give more than you can manage and see how He responds."
Chan's argument that we rely too much on money and not enough on God, goes hand-in-hand with his descriptions of lukewarm Christians. This description hit too close to home:
"Lukewarm Christians do not live by faith - their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens - they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them - they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live - they have life figured out and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis - their fridge is stocked and for the most part, they are in good health. The trust is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God."
OUCH!!! God has some work to do in my heart!
I don't think I can travel to Ethiopia to bring our child home without a heart for the poor; without God drawing me out of my comfort zone to rely more fully on Him. The good thing is that God's word promises that He will finish the work that He has started in us - He will NOT leave us unchanged!
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 1:6