Sunday, November 26, 2017

Love crosses oceans

"International adoption? Are you crazy?"

Yes, we are adopting again and yes we may be crazy. 😉 

Before I start we want you to hear this: when we adopt, it's God's idea.

We are not adopting because we think we can save the world- Jesus already did that and until He returns we will live in a broken world with sin.

 We do not think we are somehow superior parents and have it all figured out. We are sinners and have sinful children just like anyone else and we have to strive everyday to point them to Jesus. We are learning along with them how to get rid of pride and selfishness...and to choose daily to ‘die’ to ourselves and make having love and compassion for others a priority. I love this quote by Jonathon Edwards "We contribute nothing to our salvation except the sin that made it necessary." So we just want it to be clear it is out of God's love and what He has already done for us that changes our hearts and breaks our hearts for what breaks His. In this we can take no credit. 

And no we don’t think everyone is called to foster/adopt, but our family is at this time. I do believe we are all called to care for orphans, widows, and the oppressed, and I don’t need to clarify all the different ways that can manifest. That’s why it’s called the BODY of Christ. We all have a role and it looks different for everyone. We're passionate about the least of these and we believe God cares deeply for them, so yes we want as many loving families as possible to step up and care for them and I will likely talk about it to bring awareness to it until the day I die.....but more than that we know each of us will stand before God one day face to face, so we pray each of us as individuals will have a close relationship with God where we listen to the Holy Spirit and act obediently to whatever it is He calls us to do. That’s what makes the body of Christ beautiful. 

So here we go with a little bit of the back story, we've known God wasn't done for a while and for the past two years have known that He was leading us to this..we just didn't know what the path would look like. God did specifically lay some details on our hearts about adopting a 'waiting child', but I will explain that further another time.😊 We have spent a lot of time in prayer and looking into all of our options waiting for God to reveal to us which path.

When we first looked into adoption at age 22 we didn't qualify to adopt internationally due to age. Clearly foster care was undoubtedly where God led us to Sean and where he called us to stay for the past 5 years. As our reassessment came due this year a series of events triggered us to pause and realize God may have different plans. The first was seeing with our own eyes the extreme poverty of a 3rd world country back in January- when we saw kids the same age as ours digging through a landfill for food it deeply affected us. Though nothing seemed great about the timing we knew God was calling us to pursue international adoption. The biggest roadblock seemed to be that on one income we couldn't afford to adopt internationally. 

Yeah, how ridiculous of us to tell the God of all the universe with infinite resources that we don't have what we need to follow His calling. 

That's when conviction started laying on our hearts. We realized when it came to buying a house or purchasing a car we didn't think twice about taking out a loan or dropping a big amount of cash to invest in it. Why would we think a child's life is not worth the 'investment'? An actual priceless soul that God calls us to love as we love ourselves. What lengths would I want someone to go if that was me or one of my precious children to make sure we had a safe place with unconditional love to call home. So yes we fully trust God will make a way and provide.... and we will do whatever He asks on our part if it means working extra jobs, selling one of our vehicles/returning to a one vehicle family, cutting back anywhere we can to make it possible.

We already knew one of the main questions we'd get is why international adoption? The answer to that could be different for each family, but for us personally here are the reasons:
  1. God clearly called us to. That’s where our child is plain and simple. Trust me we tried to deny it and give excuses at first. Foster care had become familiar and we wanted to stay there. However, when you pray for God's will and for Him to speak to you be ready to accept it whether or not it makes sense. We pray we always stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and when he says something we obey. 
  2. As previously mentioned this was a big one for us. The circumstances of orphans in underdeveloped countries is drastically different than the US foster care system. Yes, I'm passionate about foster care - always will be and God willing it will be in our future again. For us the reality that orphans in many countries are not guaranteed food, education, access to healthcare, or clean water for that matter is one of our biggest motivators. Like it or not even the poorest people in the US would be considered wealthy by the standards of most of the world. We do not ever want a child to become an orphan strictly due to poverty if they have a loving family....so we do what we can to support/advocate for children financially to stay in loving families. However, there are many orphans and no denying that they are children who do not just need money, but need a family that will love them unconditionally. 

This quote explains so much of how we feel-
"I admit the orphan crisis is completely overwhelming, the numbers are astounding. It's an ocean-sized problem and we are standing on the shore unsure what to do. But I know the answer. The answer is seeing 'the one'. The 'one' is the child sitting without a family. Because when we look at the whole, we lose sight of the 'one'. 
And what it can never be about, is money, borders or politics. It cannot be about the multitude of numbers or the politics of the day. It must be about the 'one'. The simple picture of one child with a family-sized hole waiting to be filled. 
The following was spoken at the 2013 CAFO Summit by a 30 year old man who aged out of an orphanage where he lived his whole life:
"When I grew up in the orphanage it was Christians who came and built nicer buildings. Christians who bought us beds, clothing and provided money monthly for food. It was a Christian, who wrote a letter in a shoebox, who first told me I was loved. It was the Christians who met all my physical and material needs in that orphanage."
"But it was also Christians who neglected my biggest need. Children in orphanages don't need more money, nicer buildings or better clothes. I am not an orphan because I lost my home or provisions. I am an orphan because I lost my parents. I needed a mom and a dad. I needed a family. Christians treated all my temporary symptoms of need but never cured my longterm disease of being orphan. I am still an orphan."

Lastly, it makes me a little sad to need to add this last part but, it seems necessary because as we have shared where God is leading us in the past we have met some discouraging words. We faced some opposition when we first started foster care, when we initially announced adopting Sean, when we decided to open our home again after his adoption was final, when we decided to take in a teen and her baby, and now this.  I've already grieved the fact that adding a child through fostering or adoption isn’t always welcomed like a child is from your womb. And don’t think I don’t realize the heartache/loss that is wrapped in adoption, but every child deserves to be wanted and celebrated regardless of how they enter your family. We really wish you could know our hearts on this, yet everyone can't intimately know our life, but God does....and each step of obedience has brought us more true joy, faith, and made our marriage and family that much stronger. We are so glad we didn't take any other path. We can look back now and see God's hand in it all!

I don't want to leave out how truly grateful we are to everyone who has been so supportive over the years- we have been truly blessed by so many of you! We also realize the ones who tried to discourage us did it out of love and concern.

Yet, in the end it doesn't matter what we (or anyone else) *think* is best for our lives. We've really had to do some soul searching asking ourselves do we really want to follow our mere finite human perspective on what we think we should do and how we could have our *best* life.......or do we want to entrust it into the hands of the all-knowing, all-powerful, loving Heavenly Father who created us weaving every detail together that He will do what's best if we're obedient? I have seen God come through again and again...and yes there has been suffering on the roads he has asked us to walk, but I can see how it was ultimately for our good (Romans 5:3-5).

We now know we get to experience joy in another opportunity to humble ourselves to witness God's faithfulness and provision as He displays His glory on yet another adventure! 

When it comes down to it the only reason we live and have breath is for a relationship with God- to bring Him glory and praise Him - and we will do it in whatever manner He asks of us. We hope you all will join us in praying for the child God has for us and patience as we head down the long journey of bringing them home!

Monday, December 19, 2016

A little update-When yes seems harder than no.

I came here to spill some thoughts and saw the title of my last post. I had almost forgot the difficult season God had just brought me out of.....in the end it had strengthened my faith...like every trial does. The more you see God come through (or hold you up when it doesn't turn out like you hoped) then the easier it gets to trust Him the next time you feel him calling you to take a step into the unknown.

A lot has happened especially in the past 10 days. With our last foster placements moving out in October we were taking a short break with plans to reopen in January- Lord willing. It had been a great time of 'recouping' by getting to go on an awesome vacation and refocusing on the joy of this season.

Thursday before last I answered my phone and one conversation changed everything. We were presented with the opportunity to take back in our previous foster placement. I can't go into detail of all the events that had transpired over the month and a half since they had left our home, but it had not been good. Honestly, my gut reaction was to say yes...but my head kept reminding me of all the reasons we had to say no. I had just gotten rid of ALL baby items because I was so sure we would not be having a baby come through our home anytime soon(we were set to take on ages 4+ only) . I already had my hands full with three busy children. I did not want to potty train another child for the third year in a row! Then there is the what will our family's say? What will everyone think? Will I go crazy? Lol
All the unknowns and fears around the whole situation seemed overwhelming. After all this could likely be saying yes to forever...and were we ready for that!?

God didn't give me all the answers, but through my husband He made it clear I needed to say yes. The rest would fall into place when it was time. I'm so thankful Mason had such a confidence that this was God's will and that we would make it work. It gave me the strength to say yes even though I was full of doubt and fear. I'm writing all this down to be a reminder to myself and to tell you- of the miracles God has worked in the past 10 days.

Every baby item we needed was given to us: a crib, car seat, highchair, and clothes all provided before we needed them. That's the small stuff though. The big thing was my heart.

God changed my heart in a way that I never could have done on my own. From the moment baby K was back in our home I had a love for her that I couldn't have 'manufactured' on my own. God didn't give me the grace I needed until the very moment that I needed it. As usual He just wanted me to yes even though I didn't have the answers I wanted. Then in that moment He took care of it all. Man, I would have already missed out on so much if I had let my worries or my 'what about me' thoughts get in the way. Our 'fleshly' nature prefers the path of least resistance- It's just that we sometimes take God out of the equation when we let our minds race with excuses and fears.

God has lavishly poured blessings over my heart and attitude the past 11 days. I couldn't put it all in to words because there are no words for some of it...but for example this past Thursday is the day that Sean and Lyla attend a kids day out program at our church and I look forward to my almost weekly few hours 'off'- something I haven't had in 7 years! This week I knew I would have K here while they were gone and normally my reaction would have had a slight pity party that I had to give that up. I did not have those feelings come over me once, but was able to rejoice in the time I had alone with K that day. I know one on one time was a blessing for forming that bond and attachment that she needs right now. I'm telling you this was all God. It is not my natural nature. Lol

Sweet little K is a blessing I didn't know we wanted or needed. God has used her to show me once again that this has nothing to do with me or what I think my limitations are. It's about putting blind faith in my God who has no limitations. He is capable of anything. He multiplies my sleep, He gives me more energy to face each day, He gives my kids a joy in giving a helping hand, and He provides peace in the many unknowns that are left. A peace that I could never have apart from Him.

If your standing on the edge of a big unknown and have the choice to say yes then let me tell you it's worth it. It's never a sacrifice to say yes to God. Even if you will think it is, He can turn it around it to something you never expected. You won't think you can climb the mountain in front of you until you just do it. I truly believe He does not give you the strength or grace for the situation-until you are in it. Then He just shows up in a way that only He can. It defies logic or reasoning, but it's undeniable real.

You won't know it until you experience it for yourself, but I'm telling you what God can do with your 'hard yes' is far better than how safe or comfortable or secure you thought saying 'no' would be.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

'I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.'

As usual it's been awhile since I've wrote. Where to even began, so much has happened! I'll skip the small talk though and get into what is going on recently.

This weekend our teenage foster daughter(T) and her daughter(K) move out. They are being allowed to return to T's bio dad. I haven't talked about them much due to keeping their privacy and I've just had such a heavy heart I have kept it to myself. I have spent the summer wrestling with God on some heavy issues. It can be such a burden to have a heart that so strongly empathizes with others. I can't just go on about my day or life when I hear of tragedy or have it live in my home...and trust me between my husbands job and what he sees daily, being foster parents, and having people in my own family have drug addictions...the tragedies and struggles are all around.  I carry it with me and honestly the weight of it all was just drowning me. The big part of the problem was I couldn't give it to God. It's hard to admit that I was faced with questioning Gods sovereignty and goodness in the face of so much evil around. I guess I feel like I can talk now that I'm coming out of this hard season....I can't say I got the answers I 'wanted', but He gave me what I needed. I can say I truly wrestled and questioned my faith and what I believe and came out more sure than ever that God is God and I am not. He is good. He is loving. He is for us. I have seen it and I choose to believe it even when I can't see it. 

Taking in a teenager has proven to be the most difficult thing God has asked of us and I endured through struggles because I believed the outcome would be worth the struggle. However, here we are at the 'end' of her season in our home and it did not have the outcome I had hoped. I know this doesn't mean our influence in her life is over or that this is really the end...but it sort of feels like it. As they leave I can feel a sigh of relief, but there is the knowing they take a piece of my heart with them. We are tied together now. They have shared our home for 5 months and they aren't just a statistic or a name on a paper, but real people with real souls that matter deeply to us. They may have not have made changes or choices I would have wished for them, but God has used them to greatly change me. 

This verse has been my prayer through many tears hoping that they can overcome generational chains that are so hard to break: "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!"
‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:24‬ ‭

I love this picture and I am thankful for good moments tucked in between....like how I am so proud of this boy^ who struggles greatly with an entitlement attitude(don't we all though), but I see how he willingly served those in our home. I watched K(the 1 yr old) while T would go to work most afternoons and I had not planned on caring for another baby at this point. I couldn't have done it without the help of my three kiddos! Without being asked they would offer her snacks, get her drinks, hold her hand, bring her toys. They didn't even realize they were getting to be the hands and feet of God with their actions. Though I have spent many nights worrying about the effects of fostering on our children I think I should spend more time worrying about raising kids who lack empathy or have an entitlement attitude towards the blessings we have on a daily basis. 

This week I realized our physical presence in her life may be done for now, but that won't stop the prayers that will go up on her behalf. I have to believe that seeds sown WILL reep a harvest and we may or may not see it....but it will happen. Gods word does not return void. It's a changing of season for us as we close our home again for a little while. We will be open to T and K whenever needed. Just taking a few months to refocus on our family of 5 and enjoy some much anticipated vacations.

Lastly, I wanted to tell you about the 'Compassion Experience'. It's here in town this weekend- ironically in the parking lot of Von Maur at Quail Springs Mall. What a contrast of our excess compared to the worlds poverty. We took the kids this morning and Breyton is at the age where he can understand a little more of what we are seeing. It's a small mobile trailer/tent thing that has replicas of real life 'homes' in the slums of Africa and the Philippines. While you are in there you listen to the true story of a child's life that attended one of Compassion internationals programs in their country. I'm grateful Breyton got to experience that to hopefully make it more real when we recieve letters from the kids we sponsor. That it's truly by the grace of God that we live where we do and that it's our privilege to help others who aren't as fortunate. It's something we GET to do that should bring us much joy. It brings a joy that can't be taken from us that has eternal value compared to the very temporary pleasure we get from spending that money on a material item.  I know this to be true and pray our kids will learn that compassion for others requires action and some self sacrifice. 

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more."
Luke 12:48

PS if your considering giving in some way or wandering organizations that we find to be trustworthy we have done research on many...we currently sponsor kids through Compassion International, Komeo, and Childrens Hunger Relief fund. 

Here are few pics from The Compassion Experience this morning.

Monday, March 21, 2016

New life:)

New life IN CHRIST that is:)

Breyton asked Jesus into his heart last Monday and for us it was the most important moment you can have as a parent. My greatest desire is not for my kids to be happy, but to witness first hand that their dad and I without a doubt put Jesus first(even before what made us happy or comfortable).....and then for them to do go and do the same. I feel like I can handle anything else with my kids as long as they come to know Jesus. I had struggled with this a bit knowing I got saved when I was young and Mason was a little bit older. I honestly figured it may be a few more years before Breyton was ready and that would be OK....what mattered is that when he accepted Jesus it was of his own doing(no peer pressure) and that he grasped what it meant as much as he could for his age. Prior to Monday when Breyton and I had conversations about God (or him even saying he wanted to be saved or go to heaven) I occasionally would think how much can an almost 7 year old grasp of the gospel and think it was 'too young'.

After all day spent in God's creation last Monday evening Breyton kept bringing up questions about the world and God. At one point he said, "I wish God could just come live with us"...I responded that God does live in our hearts when we welcome him in. He said he wanted God to live in his heart and asked how can I do that? I began to explain all this means and we had a long discussion. Then I asked if he still wanted to follow through? To which he said yes. Afterwards I realized God doesn't ask us to have full knowledge and wisdom of everything when we accept him. We come as we are. I'm 27 years old and still learning more everyday what it means to have Jesus as Lord of my life and to follow him. So no my 6 year old doesn't have to understand everything right now he just has to have a sincere heart and continue to grow in his love for God. I'm so excited we get to do this along side of him!! Since Monday Breyton continues to ask more everyday and has surprised me with how much he can grasp. Then he has even helped remind me of some truths: He helped me prepare for the caseworker to come re-do our house assessment to open back up for foster care...as we got ready for this I let the boys get comforters for their beds since they have never had them before (they always had mismatched blankets on their bed). I found some on sale and asked Breyton what color he wanted and he picked blue of course. I then realized they were out of blue, but I asked if grey would be ok? Breyton said, "You don't have to ask me mom. Some people don't even have beds, so it doesn't really matter what color my bedding is." Proud to see moments where some of that self-centeredness, which we battle daily, is overcome with a heart that cares for others! He also keeps asking me if something he did honored God and genuinely cares. At bedtime one night we read some psalms and he told me he loved God and would do anything for Him when he grows up. I used to question if I would know when it was real, but how could I ever doubt the transformation of a heart given to God.

Breyton is still a 6 year old boy and will have many moments where he is selfish, rude, disobedient(just like I still do;) BUT thank God we have freedom from being a slave to these things. As he continues to learn more about what following God means the desires of the flesh start to fade and righteous living is what you truly desire. Like Roman 6 tells us: "Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living."
Romans 6:16-18

Parenting done right and raising up true disciples is the undoubtedly the hardest thing I will ever do. It is also the most rewarding, eternal, privileged opportunity I have been given. Thank you God for glimpses of hope in this dark world and reminders of what really matters!!!

...but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 19:14 ESV

Sunday, February 14, 2016

One CRAZY week.

So we turned down an offer on our house Friday and we spent this weekend moving back home.

 We are officially crazy. Lol 

This week has definitely been the craziest ones of my life and that's saying something for me;) 

It was at the moment that we were given an offer on our house that the clarity we have been needing came. We knew there would be closing fees etc, but I don't think we had set down and actually calculated how much they would really be. So let me put it in perspective- to pay the buyers Realtors commission(which the seller is expected to do) and pay closing fees the total would be just about $13,000. That's on the current house. Then when we buy land to build or another house we would pay closing costs again bringing our total closer to $17-18k just to move. These totals are just about unavoidable, so even with a wise investment its difficult to truly come out ahead selling a house! We paid a lot in cash down when we bought this house and have a 15 year note which pays off a lot more of your principle and is less of a rip off in the long run;) All that being said we can have this house paid off in 12 years and not waste all that money in fees selling to downsize a little. Mason also got a raise in January that we weren't quite expecting...so now we can live in our home and give away quite a bit more like we were wanting to do when deciding to sell the house. Also, if the point was to be more generous then we can be more generous with the thousands of dollars we would have wasted on so many fees to sell our home. 

Mason had came to this realization about a month ago, but I was being stubborn. I just couldn't believe I felt God had led me to move out just to move back!!!

Then the big deal breaker was my sudden terrible outbreak of hives last week. I've never had hives before in my life nor has anyone in my family, therefore, I didn't even realize that's what they were at first! After dealing with hives that feel like fire ants and itch like crazy for several days along with what felt like an anxiety attack one day I had my emotional breakdown. I had been praying and praying for God to get Mason and I on the same page about the house. After all this was a big decision and I wanted to feel in agreement about what we thought God was leading us to do...though ultimately I would let Mason make the decision either way. I just flat out told God that he needed to make something happen to change one of our hearts. Little did I know that me getting hives like crazy for a week would be one way he would do that..I might have prayed differently haha!! 

The hives themselves caused me to pray like crazy for answers...and finding out they were stress hives that wouldn't go away till I eliminated stress (which was causing my immune system to attack me basically) was a big motivator to surrender. The Dr was telling a women who is married to someone in law enforcement, has three kids, a large dog, living in 800 sq ft, on top of a pile of other life situations that just come up to eliminate all stress. That's just my normal though!;)
Despite all that I knew it was the house situation with my husband that was driving me to have such anxiety though. I needed clarity and rest from it. In my desperation to find relief from hives God led a dear friend who I hadn't seen in awhile to my house and she (along with two others the next day) told me I needed to step down and realize I don't have to have the answers or all the 'whys' figured out. Even though it had crossed my mind it took two people bringing up the story of Abraham and Isaac to remind that sometimes God 'tests' us...just maybe to prepare us for something down the road. I know I was asked to give up my house which I held dearly and in the end I was willing to let that go. It didn't really matter to me all that much after all in comparison to obedience to Christ. And for reasons not all yet revealed we felt led back here. I know we made some friendships in the apartment complex that will continue on and my kiddos made friends with a group of kids that will likely be able to attend church with us in the future and other events like VBS. Those opportunities alone can make it all worth it.

Since turning down the offer we recieved on Friday and surrending my plans to God~even if they didnt look like I thought~ my hives have pretty much disappeared!  Praise God! 

My whole family came up today to visit and we are planning to have some friends over soon and we can start fostering again without as much of a delay. All things not really even possible in the tiny apartment. Today is the 3 year anniversary of Sean being placed in our home as well- always makes Valentine's day worth celebrating!! I forgot so many of the ways this home was such a blessing(also taking many of them for granted) and plan to use it to God's glory as much as possible from here on out!


Here we are three moves later back in the same spot haha, but not the same people! We've learned a lot and let go of so much materially that held us back. Looking forward to what's in store!! Just hoping it doesn't include any more packing and unpacking for awhile:)

Such a fitting song that comes on every time I'm in the car:

"Trust In You"

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

Monday, February 1, 2016

It is well.

As usual it's been awhile since I wrote anything here! I believe my last post was an update on moving into the apartment and saying goodbye to our foster daughter back in November.

There has been a lot of changes in my heart, but not so much in my circumstances since then:) I can't tell you our house has sold just yet or that God has showed us what the next step is right now- other than continuing to place our future in his hands even with the unknown surrounding us. I think I've accepted that is what He wants from me right now. To quit fighting and asking for answers and just trust that He has a plan and maybe I'm not ready to see all of it yet. I think most of the time if God told us ahead of time what was next then we'd get too scared and run the other way ha. God strengthens you (typically through enduring trials I'm learning) to prepare you for what's ahead. He is still having to chip away and pry my fingers off some things that He knows I need to let go off that keep me from becoming more like Christ. He doesn't give me the grace I need for tomorrow or next month yet only what I need for today.

  I often find myself relating a little too much like the Isrealites in the Bible. I look at their story in Exodus and think how can they so quickly forget the miracles God has performed and go back to grumbling and chasing meaningless things. I have seen AMAZING 'only God' type things happen in my life and testimonies of those around me yet when I get the next assignment from God and it doesn't play out the way 'I' would have done it...then I let the enemy get his toe in the door trying to fill me with doubt. I find myself asking, "God, are you even in this? Did I hear you wrong?".  I will start to think because my house hasn't sold that God is silent. That since everything keeps feeling like it's falling apart since we moved into this apartment that maybe this isn't right. That since he hasn't healed my brother that he isn't listening. The list could go on.

However, he has been far from silent the problem is I don't always like what I hear!

Sunday morning we woke up it was one of those days where we were just done with apartment life. All the thoughts were flooding in... its like the devil wants to whisper into my ear "You have this almost brand new 2400 sq ft house with a fenced in backyard just sitting there..why are you living in an 800 sq ft apartment with three kids and a large dog? God clearly isn't doing anything..wouldn't you be more comfortable if you went back home?".

I was just at that point where I told God, "I know you showed me before, but can you please give me something to confirm that your still in this? That we are on the right path?"

Then I was unexpectedly handed a book Sunday at church and it was just one way God would confirm that he didn't bring me this far to leave me. The title of this book is 'Anything' and its a testimony of families praying to God that we will do anything that you ask. Anything. Whatever the cost and seeing what God can do with a willing heart. Here is a page out of a chapter called 'scrapbooks' meaning we tend to have these mental scrapbooks of how we think our life should go and in what order...except God comes in.

Pay attention to the circled and underlined parts...the top one she is listing possibly curveballs God may throw in. If that doesn't tell me God is here then I don't know what will;)

Then yesterday's daily devotional I recieve by email was undoubtedly sent at the right time. Wednesday was one of the hardest days I've had in a long time- and remember I thought Sunday was my bad day for the week lol. The devotional said when we go to a new level with God then we tend to experience the devil at a new level. I can attest to this truth. Since we moved into this apartment and started witnessing to people here we also started reading our bible through in an 8 month plan together, then I started an in depth study on learning to use the armor of God, on top of sermons I listen to online when I can squeeze them in. The more I've immersed myself in truth the more the spiritual warfare around us has been undeniable...I talk to my mom daily and we can (almost) laugh at how obvious it is. When you step out into what God has called you to do then that's when you realize just how real the spiritual battle mentioned in Ephesians is.

I've talked about it before but when we are 'half asleep or lukewarm' walking through this Christian life then we don't really pose a threat to the devil, so we just kind of slip off the radar it seems. When we take a step of obedience into what God has called us to do then suddenly it gets real! Let me encourage you though that this is when you see just how REAL God is as well.

  Currently, going through a study called the 'Armor of God' by Priscilla Shirer and I'm learning so much about how we have been fighting wrong all along. The devil is real and seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, but God has given us all the tools we need to defeat him. I mean in the daily battles because we know in the end God has already won the war.  We read in that we can have peace in all circumstances, but don't you really want to know how to have this peace in the midst of chaos and confusion??  We can't fight correctly until we have learned to utilize this 'armor' and DAILY put this put it on. Otherwise, we are left with weak spots and unable to stand against his schemes.

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm."
Ephesians 6:12-13

I can stand firm and not lose my joy or focus because God is bigger than any thing we will face and He is worth any suffering or temporary discomforts we will go through. He is worth following into callings that upsets your own family. His calling isn't that we always pick the safest neighborhood, the best school district, have perfect children, and play our whole lives safe. I have to let go of this mentality that I have to to set up my life, so that we are ok if God doesn't come through. I believe we may miss out on the glory of God.

So here I sit in our apartment letting go of my anxieties about how long I may be called to be here. Or how this next big thing God is asking for obedience in may be the hardest 'yes' we've had yet.

When I start dwelling on how things are not going like I planned then I set my thoughts on the negatives. What about the group of kiddos my children have built relationships with here that desperately need God in their lives? What about the couples around us that are lost?  I want to have the mindset more of not how quickly can I get out of this trial or waiting period...but think more of "How can I glorify God in this?".

And that way of thinking goes against everything in my nature. So I have to do as Colossians 3:10 says, "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him."....allowing myself to be renewed daily.

In conclusion, yes I am continuing to learn that being a disciple of Christ always comes with a cost...I think I was hoping this was just some of the time haha....and as I pay that price taking the next step I learn without a doubt that truly knowing Christ and walking with Him is WORTH ANYTHING. It really is. As I fall more in love with my Savior and seek to know him then I start seeing so clearly how much he loves me! I learn what the peace that surpasses comprehension means. It's not a peace because life is going good...its a peace that doesn't even make sense because everything is going wrong and somehow it's ok. It's even good sometimes. I believe it will all be for my good. To quote the book mentioned earlier, "The hardest things I've been through have given me more of my Savior. So who's to even say what's good or bad on this side of eternity?"

If you have this same restlessness and feeling that there is more then I encourage you by first and foremost praying and reading your Bible daily. It's honestly just been this past year of my life that I can consistently say I'm in God's word every single day. There is no replacing God's word. However, for the sake of me not quoting every single word from the following books I would highly recommend these written by people who are radically following Christ which challenges us to see what America calls radical is really what is expected of all believers. Most people have heard of 'Radical' and 'Crazy Love'. Those two books were the beginning of this evolving mindset years ago to challenge my faith in Christ. The three other books I'd recommend that I have read this past year are 'You and Me Forever' by Francis Chan,  'Anything' by Jennie Allen, and the study 'The Armor of God' by Priscilla Shirer.

"We want God to knock out suffering and poverty. Ironically, he gave us just about everything we would need to do it. We give our lives to him and he gives our lives away. Nothing on earth is more fun or will satisfy like being distributed by an all knowing, compassionate God, who knows exactly where our ridiculously blessed lives would best be spent."

 THEREFORE, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also throw aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (Emphasis me)

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:12, 14 ESV

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hellos and goodbyes.

The new place. The main living area is set up like a studio sort of with our bed in the dining room. It could change later, but currently works best to accommodate the children sharing the rooms and to give ourselves our own space...Since we stay up for awhile after they go to bed this set up has been working great!

Letty chilling in the living room.

Our very small kitchen. We definitely feel the loss of space most here! I didnt realize how much smaller appliances were in the 80's lol. I remind myself that when Mason and I first got married we lived in the back of a building(with good reason lol) with no kitchen just a hot plate and toaster oven...we did that for about a year...so this is totally doable!

I do love the simplicity of it. It's small and therefore quick to clean.

Well we are about 85 percent settled into the apartment! It took a little longer to unpack the second time we moved because I had lost all enthusiasm lol. Mostly just some shelves to be hung and organizing of bedrooms left. We are not hanging up much decor because we don't intend to be here super long term and we just decided not to waste the time doing that this go around. Just trying to keep things as simple and de-clutered as possible.

Surprisingly 830 sq ft with all 6 of us has been going fine. Much better than expected truthfully. My only complaint is not being able to let the dog out in the backyard, but having to take her out on a leash;) Oh, and I'm proud we have been making it for weeks without a microwave since there is not one in the apartment. Really pretty easy to do without if you have a little more patience!

Our foster daughter was not supposed to be in the apartment for more than a few days with us, but that turned into weeks and it's been snug... but more than enough. God has continuesly given us peace that we made the right decision with this move despite many obstacles we have faced.  Many good things are ahead here!

Miss A does officially return home tomorrow so tonight will be her last night here. She came to us in August right before her birthday and so much has changed in those few months! It's all been far from easy, but oh so worth it. We've all been a little bit forced to give of ourselves to welcome in A and sometimes that's painful, but I truly believe it's in everyone's best benefit. Naturally I want to protect my children and make their lives easy...but if we take that too far by assuring they are always comfortable then are we really benefitting them or protecting them?? I want my children to be exposed to some of the heartache and brokenness of this world while we are still here to walk them through it. I want them to see how clearly life is not supposed to revolve around just our own happiness.

That often times love hurts, but we keep loving anyways.

I pray to protect them from dangers in this world, but also from the self entitlement that so many in the coming generations will have. Our lives are not our own and I hope that caring for the least of these just becomes the normal part of who they are because we made it a priority for our family.

So tomorrow we will have a mini celebration and write about special memories in a children's bible to send with A as she reunites with some birth family. Though our job of being her family she lives with has ended we will take up the job of praying for her protection and future. Most importantly that she finds her heavenly Father who loves her so very much!

So new hellos have come with this move and now we prepare to say goodbye to A tomorrow...or hopefully a see you later. All of it in God's good timing.