Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In Awe of God. . .

In awe of our Creator today! Boy does He love the orphans. He moves mountains for them. Please don't ever underestimate how much any little (or big) part you play means.  It is incredible when you see God's people come together to get something done that God has set in motion.  We are working feverishly on a new adoption blog/website. I do not get giddy about these types of things. In fact, Jim wanted to do this and I was incredibly hesitant. But I am really excited about this one. I feel like God is putting a plan in motion so much bigger than us. Call me crazy but I do.

For this adoption, the website will serve several purposes. First, I will begin posting all adoption related blogs there. Second, it will be the location for our online auction and so much better than doing it on Facebook. And thirdly, we are going to have some amazing adoption T-shirts available there.

After this adoption, we don't know what the plans will be but perhaps it will be used in some wonderful way to continue to get the message out and helps others. Praise God for whatever He will do!  The 1:27 Mandate

Pertaining to the t-shirts. . .have I told you how big our God is and how much He loves the orphans. Whew!!! We have an amazing friend who is donating professionally designed beautiful soft t-shirts to sell!!! God moves His people! Praising Him for ever puzzle piece, every auction item, every t-shirt and most of all for bringing hope to a little girl who would otherwise have none. Don't you love when God takes hold of something and all you can do is watch in awe. Humbled. . .

Friday, September 19, 2014

Is this real?

One of the things that I love about God is that often where He takes you would not be where you would go on your own.  During the very early morning I laid awake listening to thunder roaring.  I begin to let myself think about what it will be like to bring our new daughter into our lives. What will she be like? Will the transition be hard for her? Will she grieve greatly all that she will leave behind? What will her personality be like? How in the world did we get here? How did we get to the point that we are willing to adopt an older girl from the other side of he world? God! It is the only explanation.  I remember just a month or so back saying to our pastor that it would take an act of God for us to adopt again. Well, I wonder if God laughed as I said that?

For the past couple weeks, I have struggled. I came to terms pretty easily with God's general plan. Just not so much the specifics. But He is teaching me, sanctifying me, and humbling me. This too I must fully lay on His throne. Hands WIDE open! Life lived for eternity!

Today. . . the "to do" list is long. Too long. And that is not helped by this growing passion that I am starting to feel that we need to work hard to go get our daughter as soon as possible. Is that my impatience or God's prompting. I am not sure. We don't know for sure how old she is so we have no idea if she is close to aging out. We don't know what if any special needs she has so we don't know if she needs other issues cared for. Thankfully, what we do know is that we serve a mighty God that day-by-day changed our hearts and minds sending us back to China for our new daughter. He is much more able than we are to care for her. And He is able to provide the way for us. Praise God!

So far, we have sold 16 puzzle pieces. 984 to go.  When people help, not only does it help financially but it also helps us see God's hand in this. He moves His people. I know that for these kinds of things people like to be the eluding "last piece", but we need 984 pieces before that. Would you be willing? Would you buy a piece today and maybe even ask a couple friends or family members to also buy a piece? Have you watched "God's Not Dead"? Our suitcase is in the car (so to speak). Will you put yours in with us? Faith.

Which piece will you be?

1) Brian and WendyWatson
2) Brian and WendyWatson
3) Brian and WendyWatson
4) Brian and WendyWatson
5) Brian and WendyWatson
6) Brian and WendyWatson
7) Brian and WendyWatson
8) Brian and WendyWatson
9) Brian and WendyWatson
10) Brian and WendyWatson
11) Jason Owen
12) Amanda Owen
13) Allan Owen
14) David and Ann Ess
15) David and Ann Ess
16) David and Ann Ess
17)Rocky Carswell
18) Evelyn Carswell
19) Rico Carswell
20) Taylor Shelton
21) Taylor Shelton
22) Taylor Shelton
23) Taylor Shelton
24) Taylor Shelton
25) Edith Page
26) Evelyn Carswell in honor of Vesna Solheim
27) The Temple Family from Missouri
28) The Temple Family from Missouri
29) The Temple Family from Missouri

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

So here we go. . .step of faith

So.  . . Here we go.  With fear and trembling talking a step of faith.  Honestly, the whole fundraising idea makes us feel vulnerable and I gotta say that we still prefer the $30,000 miracle.  Wouldn't that be a story?  But while we know our God is able,  we know He may have other ideas including some that are $10.00 at a time.  So our step of faith will begin with a “puzzle fundraiser” for our adoption!

We are selling each puzzle piece for $10. You can buy one piece, or as many as you like. We will then put your name/family's last name on the back of the puzzle piece. Once we have sold all the puzzle pieces, we will have it framed (glass on both sides) and hang it the room of our new daughter as a lasting treasure. She will then be able to see who helped bring her home from China.

You can donate through PayPal or mail us a check. Please indicate what you would like written on the back of your puzzle piece(s).   Please share this information with your friends too!   it will take a huge amount of support to bring her home.  We will post updates on the progress of the puzzle as it is coming together. Thank you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Orphan Ministry and next steps. . .

Orphan Ministry. . .how do you define such a thing? I don't know that you do. You might start off trying to define what it means to you but then it just grips you. God opens your eyes and peels back your heart. You no longer have much choice. . .you just move out of love and compassion.

Our journey with orphan care started out of infertility and not passion. It started as self care. That is a harsh but true statement. Oh, we were interested and compassionate about the plight of the children  but only to a certain degree. Then God brought two little boys into our lives. We were young and naive. They were traumatized and in many ways broken by the many hard places they had been. Their family failed them and then foster home after foster home failed them. Honestly, it was six years later before we came up for breath. It was that hard. One day we realized that we had breath and stated out loud how wonderful it was. But God saw hands that were about to relax and He said no.

It was time for the next part of the journey. But as I said, we were content and had no need. But He told us as clearly as writing on the wall that we had a daughter in China. What could we do but go get her. The Lord God had already pronounced her on loan to us. And the second journey began. We paper chased for a year. But then one day a FedEx envelope appeared at our doorstep with a picture of our baby girl. I cannot say it was instant love but it was as if I had always known her. This child that I had prayed for over the past year was already there with me in many ways. So we anxiously jumped on a plane for the long flight and brought home our daughter.  She has been a joy and delight. Finally, our family is complete.

Fast forward seven years. God opened our eyes to even a deeper level to the plight of the orphan and His heart for these children. Specifically, the many children that are forever orphans without families many of which are trafficked. So we began advocacy and began to really get involved in other families who foster and adopt. We even licensed to foster parent. But we felt like God clearly said "no, this is not where I want you." That took some time and prayer to digest and understand.

So we settled back. . .what next Lord? He began talking to us about "living life for eternity" and living "hands wide open".  These terms are still proving hard to grasp. After all, only our Savior could truly master that.  Meanwhile, we tried making plans for the next steps in our life but doors keep getting closed. While I am so thankful to not be allowed to go in the wrong direction, those doors are starting to get a bit bothersome even painful at times.  Yet at the same time it is clear to see God is up to something. He is preparing us for something. Both my husband and I are fully aware of this but what?

To my surprise, discussions from the most unlikely of places started surfacing about adopting again from China. But this time an older girl (in China they age out at 14). What???? Since we decided long ago that we were too old, too poor, too tired, etc to adopt again and that we would never adopt an older child. . .where did this come from? Hum? It is overwhelming and it will take a HUGE step of faith. Financially, we are not at a point to do this. God will have to provide it ALL. We have seen Him do that before but yet it feels more daunting now than ever. We covet your prayers. I jokingly said a few months back as I watched others do adoption fundraising that I would go back in a heartbeat if someone handed me a $30,000 check (that is how much it cost roughly). Um well, I think God is testing me on this but without the $30,000 check.

I have no idea what. . .if. . .when. . .etc.  We need desperately to see God's hand. There is nothing our God cannot do. We are sure of that. Prayerfully, we can be fully willing to do whatever He ask of us. Even if that is to prepare pile upon pile of documents, travel across the World, fund-raise tirelessly, parent patiently a little girl who has spent too many years as an orphan already. Again your prayers are greatly coveted. Please pray that we see God's plan more clearly, that He provides provisions and resources if we are to move forward, and that we will be His willing servant.

In order to help us take the first leap of faith,  would you consider purchasing a piece of the puzzle?If so, go to the next blog entry. . .Be a piece of the puzzle!

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A fresh new tilling. . .

I love when God gives my heart a fresh new tilling especially when it is in the morning. The hardness is gone and I am filled with awe and humility even joy. But I do know there are times that people spend time with God and they don't feel like their hearts are tilled. In fact, they fill nothing. I personally have had plenty of those times.  And with myself, I see a pattern.

A farmer would never go out to plant a field where the ground was hard. He would first till the field and prepare it even painstakingly. But we often rush to take a bit of God's Word from Sunday morning, a really quick devotion, or a flick of the radio dial and plant it in the hard soil of our hearts. Then we get busy again and fail to add anything necessary for the seeds that have fallen there to grow. So they simply lay on the hard soil of our hearts until the next time we take a few minutes to seek Him.  Sadly, then many come to a very false conclusion such as: "I don't understand the Bible", "That preacher is boring", or "I can never feel God's presence".

God is about relationships. He loves each of us more than we can comprehend and wants to spend time with us. The more we spend time with Him. . .the more we began to understand Him. With each time of reading His Word, prayers full of humility, and authentic worship the soil of our hearts is tilled. Then the next time we hear a sermon or read His Word it falls on soft rich soil ready to receive the gift of relationship with God. NOTHING compares. There is no other way to obtain such a feeling. It is a sweet gift from our Savior. Have you ever felt so incredibly loved it blows you away?

So if you haven't spent any real time with the I AM lately. Today is a great day to change that. But if you don't sense His presence today, that is ok. Tomorrow the soil will be tilled a bit from the day before and so on. You wouldn't expect to build a relationship with a new friend in one quick sitting. Relationships take time and require something to build.  Your relationship with God is no different. If you want the greatest experience in all of life. . .let Him till the soil of your heart.

Reading Revelations 4-5 is a great way to begin to let the magnitude of God penetrate your heart. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Patience is but faith

This year marks one of those times in life that is truly hard to put into words. In some ways it has been wonderful. I have been blessed with some of the most amazing friends that walk the face of this earth (no kidding). Every time I ponder it, I am blown away at the realization. These are people who are real. They love hard, have lots of fun, give unselfishly, and most importantly are head over heals for their Savior. How I rated friends like that I will never know. The crazy thing is that there even lots of them. There have been times in my life that I have pleaded with God for just one or two like them. Boy did He answer that prayer. I am not telling you this to brag but just so you know at the conclusion that there have been some incredibly fabulous things about this year.

For lots of the rest of the story have been hard.  There have been so many times that I have wanted to sit down to my keyboard and bang out the details but always I knew I could not.  Some were too personal. Some would hurt others. Some would reveal things about others that weren't mine to reveal. And the list goes on. Still details will be left to the imagination. But I felt like I might could safely share some lessons learned.

I remember days when our boys were little. People would say, "these days will pass too quickly" or "it will get easier", etc. Ha! What were they talking about? Yes, it did get easier for a time and there are easier seasons. But all in all, adult children are the hardest of all! Figuring out how to continue to gently guide and disciple young adults is the hardest. They are working to gain their independence and determine who they are themselves. It is so hard watching them hit dead ends but not want any help finding the right path. Heart wrenching pain. Nothing prepared me for this season. Nothing! Without love it would be a breeze but I wouldn't give up loving them for anything.

Secondly, when you put yourself out to love easily then you put yourself out to hurt deeply. Yep. But those who hurt deeply hurt others because they are hurting so much themselves. It is almost like a self destruct pattern. Forgiveness is golden. Vengeance is mine says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35). Holding unforgiveness only hurts the one holding the unforgiveness and it will cut right through the bone. Forgive. . .no matter what forgive. Doesn't matter if they ask for forgiveness or even want forgiveness. . .just simply decide to forgive. And truthfully it may take many times determining in your heart that you will forgive to fully do it. The enemy loves to remind us of the pain and heartache.

Health issues are destructive to ones life and it doesn't need to be cancer or anything life threatening to cause havoc. All things answer to God. Everything in creation. He is sovereign!!! But I do feel that many of the health issues are from our lack of ability to lay things at His feet and leave them there. Stress is the stealer of health and all things good if allowed. Stress is not from God but rather the enemy.

People need to feel appreciated and loved. Most anyone will do anything they can for you if they feel appreciated and loved. Even knowing this. . .at time it is nearly impossible aside from God. He can whale up a great love for anyone inside of us when we surrender to Him. But be careful, once the eyes of your heart are opened to this unconditional love there is no going back.

Some days over the past year have seemed so dark. I have felt like hiding away although it is rare that my incredible friends would allow such. They never even know. They are just so in tune with God that they call or message at just the right time (I never want to spread the dark days so I put on a smile).  But through it all I have had the most personal intimate God. It could seem so hopeless at times but I would have this pin light of faith shining through. The kind of faith that reminds me that God has this and that He is in control. It reminds me that He loves me more than any kind of love I can comprehend. I have often prayed for this kind of faith because when I have it I feel so close to God and so assured of Him.  But I have also realized that it is not the kind of faith that I can have without His empartation of it. I just can't. It is not within me. So my advice, pray that God would increase your faith and keep praying it every day. Recently, I realized something so amazing. That kind of faith brings patience! That is mind blowing for me who has absolutely no patience of any sort. But God. . .

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Mommy, I want to see God."

Early last year, God began to show us again that we are not done with orphan ministry. This is how it goes with us.  We take a step and think we are done but then our Savior shows us more of His plan.  It all began 16 years ago as we adopted our first two children through DSS. Years of healing were required and then we were called to adopt again. More healing, more growth, more time . . .we were sure we were done and our family complete but we started being heavily burdened to do more.  Being sure we were getting too old to adopt or foster, we began getting involved in local orphan ministry.  But the needs kept pressing down upon us and it was never enough. Then one day, I felt God say “You have breath which I supply. I decided your days and when you are done.” Still yet, would my husband ever agree?  Finally one day, I ventured to ask.  It is so cool when you venture to ask a really hard question fully expecting a negative answer but God has already prepared the heart. And so, he said “I was thinking about it too.” Thus a new journey began into Foster Care Ministry.

That is what we call it. . .Foster Care Ministry. It is a hand wide open ministry every day of our life. It requires living in faith that it will never be too much and it will make a difference. For what God has called us to is never a waste. After all, He is God!  We feel that God has given us a vision of generations being changed by Christian families stepping forward to love, nurture and teach of a Savior’s ultimate love. We know that fruit won’t always be seen this side of Heaven and that there will be times it seems hopeless. . . but God.  We will simply do our part in praying for these little ones in our care and their families. While daily depending on the strength of our Lord, we will do our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The rest we must leave up to God.

Our new journey officially began the week of Christmas. Amidst travel and traditions, we took in our first little one. He was sick when he entered our home but so very precious.  He still had a look of hope in his sweet eyes even though he was filled with so much fear. We loved on him and cared for him. He is, for the time, ours and we are his.  Soon after, his brother joined us as well.  What a sweet, fulfilling and tiring journey.  But this journey is not just about giving. We have received so much from it.  When life is simple and comfortable, we don’t require too much of God.   But if you want to see God work in miraculous and amazing ways, then take that step in orphan care.  It will simply blow you away.  Over these past months, we have seen God open doors, change lives, and bless our socks off. 

A few Sundays back, we took our tired selves in and sat down to hear the morning’s sermon. As we listened, we were reminded of the widow that gave her last two coins and Jesus was pleased. I thought, it doesn’t have to be coins. What if we give the last of our time, the last of our food, the last bedroom or bed in our home? What if we just live with our hands wide open and let God choose what He will use? The one thing we are sure of is that He will never ask more than we can give. Yes, at times it feels like more but it is not. It is those times when our Savior is so close we can feel His presence.  Then there are the sweet reminders. . .a few mornings back one of the sweet little ones entrusted to our care said, “Mommy, I want to see God.” He is too young to fully understand but yet he is beginning to. Nothing could make this journey more worthwhile than for him to see God!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Dusting Lesson

Last week I was busily trying to get the house dusted.  All dusters of homes know that it is a never ending process.  But I love when I am doing the mundane and God shows me something new.   That is exactly what He did.

As I carefully moved each item I began to think about how much stuff we collect.  Just loads of stuff.  We fill our rooms, closets, attics and garages and when they will hold no more we pay for a storage unit.  Have you ever wondered how much the stuff in your storage unit actually cost once you pay to store it monthly?  As I get older, I hate clutter more and more.  God continually reminds me that we are to lay up our treasures in Heaven and not on earth.  So no, I am not terribly sentimental.  I know that just seems wrong. I am sentimental toward people but do not transfer that value to possessions.

So I continued to dust thinking "I will do this all again next week" and the next and the next and the next.  Then I realized that taking care of so many possessions is being a poor steward of what God has entrusted me with. Clearly not making good financial choices is poor stewardship but what about spending my time to care for all the things. The things cost a lot more than the price the store charges.  They keep me from taking time to be the hands and feet!

How many times has there been something worthwhile to do but I just didn't have time? Was it because I had loads of clothes to wash, a big house to clean, lots of possessions to organize or to dust? How many times could I have been used to make a real difference in someone's life (maybe even an eternal one) but I was too busy taking care of our stuff.

So the Lord convicted me where I stood, dust cloth in hand.  Now I need to practice what has been revealed. Next time there something I would just love to purchase, I hope I will consider the full cost. How much will it cost of my time, talents and resources? It just might not be worth the eternal cost!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Life Interrupted

That is truly what it is.  We lay down our best plans and say to God we are willing.  It is hard, painful even. Our clean neat pretty packaged lives look more chaotic than we ever dreamed we would allow. Our churches look different when we openly invite the troubled, hurt, impoverished and suspicious to join us.  Our families look different when we open our arms to the least of these. But are we willing?

We are currently in the process of licensing for foster parenting. Not the first time, as we did this years ago with the intention of adopting. This time it is much less self serving. This time it is truly because God has moved mountains (selfish desires, plans, etc). We are down to one child being at home full-time and in the world's economy it is time to relax. After all. . . our laundry piles have dwindled to being crazy small, cooking, cleaning, having quiet times, spending one-on-one times, going and coming as we please, and oh it is so much cheaper to have a meal out. These are just a few things that are so nice right now. And yet. . . the Lord called.

He whispered in our ear over weeks of time. He beckoned us. But one day it seemed louder. I said, "We are too old". He said, "you are breathing". I said, "but it is too hard". He said, "I love them and they have no home."  What more needed to be said. From that day on I knew what needed to be done but feared greatly that my husband never would consider it.  He likes writing on the wall (LOL) and practical. But I was wrong and I greatly underestimated him.  The first time I asked, he said "I have been thinking about it too." Wow, God is incredible! It blew me away. We still talked and prayed for a while but I knew. The instant my husband answered that way. . .I knew.  God would have us do it! And why not? His Word commands us over 50 times to take care of the orphans.

So we began the process.  Our worker came out to meet with us and gave us a huge pile of paperwork. Honestly, it looked daunting.  During the process, more than once I have felt it is just too much and there are many other ways to help. But God keeps reminding me that they are His and He loves them as much as He loves me.  He sets the lonely in families. He reminds me of our boys and how hurt and broken they were. A good Christian foster home makes such a difference.

So we plug forward.  The paperwork we got through quickly.  It was best that way. Then you don't spend too much time thinking of all the very personal details you must share.  Done! But each other step takes time as you wait on various people to do their part.  I keep thinking, Why are we waiting when some child may desperately  need to be in a home during the Holidays. But God is sovereign! He is in control! So I rest in Him!  He sets the lonely in families.  And yes, I still at times think that the Holidays will be much easier and more peaceful with our family as is.

But would it be best? Is an uninterrupted life where we find joy? I think mostly not.  It is those very situations we would not have chosen for ourselves that prove to be the most meaningful.  It is when we go out of our way to do something we wouldn't ordinarily do or we are put in a difficult situation and see the Lord's hand.  Life interrupted is most often (in my estimation) where God paints the most amazing experiences into our lives. We see Him most clearly then! So this morning, once again, I laid the fears of moving ahead and the aggravation that we would need to wait at the Lord's feet. Such mixed up feelings. :)

This morning, I also had an opportunity to watch a video from a local church. It was remarkable. They get it!  They have an incredible vision for what God would call a church to do in the face approximately 1,000 orphans in our states foster care system and a great shortage of foster homes. Please watch.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Love. . .

I write this post at risk that some dear sweet friends are going to think that I write about them every time we spend time together.  But they are so inspirational.  The thing is that I don't even think they know how amazing they are.  They just do life. . .loving out-loud their Savior.

So through the night I was thinking (yes I know I should have been sleeping) about all the little snippets of conversation and what makes spending time with them so special.  By morning, the Lord in His great mercy and grace showed me.  They really get it! They understand more about Jesus than any lay person I have ever known.  They don't speak Christian-ease or rush around doing church work.  They definitely serve at church but they serve with their lives.  They live so much like our Savior would if He walked earth in the flesh today.  It leveled me with humility. It made me re-evaluate the way I think and what I do.

Do my actions, motives and words show my love for the Savior? I want to guard those more closely but how?  And then I wept before the throne. For only He can change those things.

When I choose how to spend my time, talents and resources. . .who does it serve? What difference does it make? Is it the way Jesus would spend them? Am I willing to do the hard stuff to really serve Him and the least of these? Or do I do the easier stuff? I especially see this with my passion for orphan ministry (my friend showed me this). It is easier to try to motivate others to help than get dirty in the trenches myself. But my friend, well she is like Jesus telling the children to come to her.  She is their shelter even when she is dead tired herself,  She and her husband awaken the love that was nearly forever lost in these children.  The love that their fragile little hearts had almost decided to be a myth.  Because of these sweet lovers of Christ Jesus, these children know love and thus will be able to understand that God can love them too.  It is a clear reminder that working with orphans has eternal consequences.