Monday, April 28, 2014

Passion, Conviction & Doubt Whispers

A few weeks ago I announced I would be joining a team in China to serve in an orphanage. The decision was a surprise to me and everyone else. In a matter of a few minutes, in the time it took my husband to pick up a pizza, God worked in me to say YES to Him. He equipped me to blind myself to my usual "comfort zone issues." You see, I have never went camping. The idea of the hardship of camping and the yuckiness of roughing it outweighs the potential beauty of nature I might encounter. I also abhor stickiness, smelly stuff and general ick. Yet when called to go to serve I didn't hesitate. I didn't think about those things. What went through my mind? I needed to God to grow me more. He has asks me to do hard things and has blessed me. I have seen tangible proof of God's work in my life. It hasn't always been rainbows and unicorns. There have been significant costs. I gave up a lot of freedom in this lifetime. What is the cost of freedom? The cost of my freedom from the eternal flames of hell was Jesus giving His life in the most horrific way. I can NEVER repay the debt. I am not trying to earn my way to heaven. It has already been paid for at a great cost. Jesus has asked us to be His hands and feet. To love and help those who cannot help themselves.

This little boy lives in China. For reasons which cannot be made public, he will never be eligible for adoption. He will never know the love of a family. The only opportunity for children like this little boy and even the nannies to ever know of God's love is for the Gospel in real life action lived out to come to them. I first read about his story here and it was just one more confirmation God was calling me to go.

Lately doubt has been clouding my thoughts. I have let the craziness of life distract me from putting on the full armor of God and I have been vulnerable. The area I have been attacked is whether or not I should self-fund this mission trip. Every penny it seems, when a person fund-raises, whether it be for an adoption, mission trip or charity event is scrutinized. Some discernment when donating to such causes is responsible. A person should  make sure money is being used for what it is supposed to be. Charities need to be transparent. There is a fine line, however between discernment and judgement. Judgement should be left to God. Some how though, when it comes to donations, it's acceptable to judge the recipient.  I've seen adoptive families judged for eating out or driving a reliable vehicle. I've heard whispers about church leaders who drive cars which are too luxurious. Judgment which typically comes with out having all the facts. It's beyond painful for those who are attacked.
This week I wanted to give up. To withdraw my spot on the team and hold my application fee over until I could fund the trip, perhaps in a few years, on my own. I thought about a personal loan or a credit card. I realized then I would be robbing God and those chosen to be blessed in my journey. I would be robbing God of his glory. I would be taking the easy way out by giving up.

Journeys like adoptions and mission trips and ministry all have one huge component. They cost money. Raising money is sometimes part of the faith journey. To rely completely on God and to do some hard work.  I propose to do the hard work. I am planning two fund raising yard sales this summer. I taking individual and family portraits with all proceeds directly going towards my trip.
I am not asking you to fund ME. I am asking you to share in the blessing of what God plans to do with this trip. I am asking you to come along, in the comfort of your own home to share in God's amazing plan of bringing LOVE to those who don't yet know it. I am allowing you to share in the blessings. I am NOT giving up! 
That little boy is worth it. The people I will meet and serve are worth it. Pray for me and my "armor" to with stand those fiery darts. Pray for me and those who will support my efforts. Pray for my ears to be deafened to those judgmental whispers and self doubt. To quote a dear friend Jane, pray for those waiting to see "God with skin,"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hear, Follow, Trust, Obey

Oh how I never get to that level of comfort which I always believe is coming. When we brought Ellie home I thought I would coast back in life with this sweet, adorable baby girl. Wrong! With in three months we were called again to adopt. To begin a complicated and stressful paperwork process. We faced adversity and judgement by folks who did not understand our call to obey God. There were actual attempts to stop our second adoption and yet we believed God was in control. He provided everything we needed and deafened our ears to those who did not understand our motives. He provided big. I never doubted for a second we wouldn't be successful in the journey. He blessed us with a son who's Chinese name was translated literally into "Gift from God."
So when Chris returned from China and we began the challenging task of raising four kids, two special needs toddlers and two teenagers again I believed life would be simpler. We completed some much needed small home projects and began focusing on our Orphan ministry we felt we were called to pursue. I was looking forward to a stress free summer finally enjoying friends and our home again, free from paperwork or fundraising. Life was gonna be EASY!

Since Isaac has been home I still advocate for waiting children. I still see our agency's  list of kiddos needing homes and on several occasions begged God not to "send me back to China to adopt again." Apparently I was too specific in my prayer! This week I have been given a unique opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ, joining a mission team to an orphanage in China for eleven days in October. The orphanage is located in Ellie's province which would connect me once again to her homeland and the province/culture she was from. When I read about the opportunity I immediately went "all in" for God. I wasn't scared of long flights, being in China again (I was a tad bit overwhelmed on our adoption trip) and the idea of seeing an orphanage first hand and serving was intense. I had a life changing experience all in the time it took my husband to go get a pizza! Let's just say I overwhelmed him a little when he returned and I dropped this bombshell. After several days of praying I don't feel any less called to do this. I KNOW God is calling me.

Photo credit: Ben Leaman

Photo credit: Ben Leaman

Photo credit: Ben Leaman

Photo credit: Ben Leaman

After two years I am ready to brave that long plane ride again. I am ready to see China for it's beauty and culture. I am ready to connect and come along side with people I have never met who have also been called to serve. I am so blessed my husband is retired and we would not have to work out logistics of childcare. I am ready to see first hand nannies and staff who care for the children with the resources they have. I am told the director of the particular orphanage I would be serving at is an actual orphan himself. I am excited to see God's light where there is a lot of darkness. I am ready to be refined and stretched beyond who I believed myself to be.

First and foremost I need your prayers. I need your encouragement. I also will need to fund this trip.
When we adopted Isaac we had zero. We had exhausted all resources when we adopted Ellie. I never doubted we wouldn't get Isaac home and God provided all. We were fully funded and came home without debt after Isaac's adoption. Friday night when this was placed on my heart I had zero fear to take the plunge. I knew God had provided before when He called and I knew He was calling me, alone with out Chris to go and serve. I need to raise approximately four thousand dollars.

Help in funding.I would love any assistance in fundraising you can offer. I know in these current times many are stretched helping other ministries. I also do not want to detract from our Orphan ministry which has just begun. I am planning on a fundraiser yard sale sometime in July. Any gently used, sale-able items would be appreciated. Please begin thinking about Spring cleaning now!
I am also booking photography sessions for outdoor individual/family sessions. I took many classes over the winter and am pleased with some news skills I have acquired. Sessions will be approximately one hour and you may choose to donate what you are able to give. All images will be on CD with a release for you to print at lab of your choice.

For those of you who know me personally, you know this is a big leap for me. I solidly believe God is calling me to this. I would love for my Christian brothers and sisters to join me in my journey.

Acts 20:35
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'