Saturday, November 12, 2016

How Can I Help?

November is National Adoption Month. Hopefully, your social media timelines will be flooded with posts promoting adoption and urging you to consider adopting yourself.  For some, this may be the push you need to consider opening your heart and your home to a child or children in need. For others, however, you may be wondering what else can be done if you aren't the one lead to adopt.

First, educate yourself. When faced with the orphan crisis, most people get so overwhelmed by the sheer number of children waiting to be adopted (over 100,000 in the US alone, millions globally) that they believe they can never help. But, when those statistics are broken down, they become much more manageable. In Arkansas, there are around 5000 children currently in foster care. Around 500 are currently legally available for adoption. Those numbers may seem high for a state as small as Arkansas, but consider this fact. There are close to 6000 churches in Arkansas. So,  if just one family in every church in Arkansas would agree to become a foster family and that family's church would support them, there would be no more waiting children. And what about adoption? If just one family in one church would adopt and TEN churches would rally around them, there would be families waiting for children instead of children waiting for families.

The question then becomes, how do we support these families?

1. In your church
Consider using your church building and resources to provide a parents' night out for foster and     adoptive parents. For parents caring for foster children, this is a particularly valuable resource. In order to babysit a foster child, people must have valid background checks. A church has already met these qualifications and is therefore considered a safe space to take these kids. But, for adoptive families, this is also a huge treat.

Churches can also assist by providing education and spiritual counsel for adoptive families. Frequently these families have challenges that other families don't have. Education in how to deal with these issues from a Christian perspective is needed and appreciated.

Churches that can provide accommodations for children with special needs are also a huge need for these families. Often children that come from traumatic backgrounds or have other needs aren't able to handle traditional church services. Providing a safe space for families to bring these children allows families to continue attending worship services and is a tremendous blessing for these families.

2. In your home

Think about things people did for you when you first brought your babies home from the hospital. Remember how you received home cooked meals and people couldn't wait for their turn to babysit the baby? Adoptive families would love the same care. When people adopt newborns, this is usually done. However, when someone brings older children into their home, they are often dealing with the same issues other families endure with a newborn--disrupted schedules, stress, lack of sleep, etc. For parents adopting older children this need may actually be greater because they often don't take any time off work and instead immediately transition to a brand new routine.

Babysitting is, as mentioned above, another huge need. However, many adoptive families are also large families, which makes dropping the kids at a friend's house for the night virtually impossible. Even grandparents are sometimes unable to handle large numbers of children or children who come from traumatic backgrounds and may be more challenging. For these families, perhaps you can consider teaming up with several friends to provided a much needed night out. It might mean splitting the kids up for the night (you take 2, I'll take 1, our friends can take another), but this is a small price for these families to pay to have a night of respite. You might also find out if the family already has a trusted babysitter and you can use your resources to help pay this person for the night.

Have even more time to donate? Consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Those people advocate for the children in foster care as they go through the court system. And what child doesn't need one more advocate on his side?

3. With your resources

Perhaps you have resources, but not time. Donate to a group that is already supporting these families. The CALL and Project Zero are both Arkansas-based. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is another organization that does work throughout the country, and you can support them simply by buying a Frosty during certain times of the year.  Can't cook a meal? Celebrate National Adoption Month by dropping off a gift card to the home of a foster or adoptive family. Have a little extra money at Christmas? Find a large adoptive family and drop off a Target or Wal Mart gift card. Or consider giving to CASA which helps supply foster children with Christmas presents every year.

Finally, prayerfully consider whether YOU just might be the family in your church that is being called to foster or adopt. Many people have already been called; they are just ignoring that call. Lately I have been struck by the story of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea in Exodus 14. Moses is seen crying out to God and telling the Israelites to be still because the Lord himself will fight for them. Great advice, but that is not the end. In the very next verse, this was God's response,

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! (Exodus 14:15 NLT).

Perhaps, you've been waiting until you more clearly hear God speaking to make the decision to expand your family. Consider this your call, "Get moving!"

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Testing. Testing. Is this thing still on???

I wanna be a blogger. In my head I craft sentences and say important thing. People respond and are made to think about things in a different light because of the words I type.

In reality, I just yelled at my kids one too many times and lost my temper again. I tried to explain sin and regret and the need for Jesus to a 9 year old while simultaneously trying not to lose my stuff again all over him.

I am a professional. Wrangling kids and getting positive outcomes is the nature of my job. And then my 6 year old throws his bike helmet and a kicking, screaming fit ensues, and I am clueless how to deal with it.

What I'm saying is that most bloggers seem to have it all together. They use things like grammar and appropriate punctuation and even this thing I've heard of called a topic sentence. And they don't text people for advice because one of their children has decided to make an F word part of his regular vocabulary.

So comma in conclusion comma (see what I did there? proper grammar and stuff), what I'm trying to say is, once again, I've proven I'm not a blogger. I'm just a failed human trying to process stuff through words.

Maybe I'll do more of this processing. I've got Haiti and Jesus to talk about, after all.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Middle Age

I think it was my husband that first used the term. And I'm pretty sure I got a little perturbed at him when he did. Yep, he said it. Middle-aged.

I initially resisted the term. Old people were middle-aged. I might be 40, but that's not old! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he might be ((gulp)) right. (Please don't tell him I admitted that.) Yes, 40 is half of 80 and, although I expect to live well past that, we all know there are no guarantees.

I've started to embrace the term, though, because it means there is as much of life in front of me as there is behind me. And this time I don't have to spend time learning things like tying my shoes, coloring inside the lines, and multiplication tables. If, in fact, I've got 40 more years and the wisdom gained from the previous 40, then how on earth am I going to spend them?

I recently finished reading Anything by Jennie Allen. First, let me preface by saying, don't read the book unless you want to be a little messed up. Like, "maybe I'm supposed to go to Africa and adopt ALL the orphans" messed up. But I just can't get some things out of my mind. Jennie herself writes that she was inspired by reading Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. (If you don't know Katie's story, you can read a little about it here.) In Jennie's book (and I'm paraphrasing here based on what it said to me) she describes a ship's captain making an announcement to "abandon ship." And everyone is just sitting there sipping on their fruity drinks, reading their magazines, and working on their tans. But people like Katie are running for the life boats and waving frantically for everyone else to join them. In other words, they see the end in sight, they know the only way to survive is to get in the life boat, and they want to take as many people as possible with them. "Coincidentally" that was also the topic of our sermon at church last week. Living with the end in mind.

I was basically born in a church pew, and I've lived most of my life trusting Christ for my salvation. But I don't think I've ever lived with the end in mind. I accepted Christ and believe I will be in heaven one day, but am I really living like that? If that is my ultimate home, and I am assured it is, then why don't I live like I have nothing to lose? Why don't I love the hard to love? Why don't I serve the least of these? Why don't I risk more? If God wants me in heaven, He can take me there on my way to check the mail. But, since He didn't take me at the moment of my salvation, I can only assume He has left me here because there is more left for me to do on this earth.

With those things in mind, I've been pondering lately what to do with this second half of life. My first priority is, of course, my home. The Great Commission tells me to "go and make disciples" and in Acts 1:8 the Bible makes it clear that is supposed to happen "in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In other words, start at home (Jerusalem for the disciples) and then branch out from there. So, if I'm not discipling my own children first, then things are out of whack.

But, what else? That's the part that I've really been wrestling with God about. Since the If:Gathering I have been more convinced than ever that God wants me to do more with the gifts He's given me than just sit quietly and hope He's glorified by that. He has given me a voice and a testimony of His grace and mercy in my own life. If I don't share that, then what good is it? If I have walked through something, and then I'm willing to let others walk through the same thing without so much as a word of encouragement, then my pain was for naught. If I know the way to the life boat, and I don't try to compel as many people as possible to join me there, then what?

Not to mention, I have a secret that a lot of Christian are missing out on. We can have FUN in the life boat! John 10:10 says Jesus came to give us ABUNDANT life. And He doesn't just mean when we get to heaven. Walking with Him can be an absolute blast when it's done in community with people who are also in on the secret. Salvation is not just fire insurance. It's spending the rest of this journey on earth walking side by side with the creator of the universe and THEN spending eternity with Him. Not such a bad gig.

What will that look like for the second half of my life? I have no idea. But now that I've thought about the image of the life boat, I can't get it out of my head. I want to live this second half so that, when I reach the end, I'm so exhausted I just collapse into the arms of the Savior waiting on the other side of the finish line. So, here I am, waving my arms for all to join me. The party is starting and I don't want to miss out on any of it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


I've thought all day about how to write this post, and I'm still not sure. I think I could write for hours about all the things God taught me and is still teaching me from this weekend's If:Gathering. The teaching was as amazing as I expected, and the worship was better than I could even hope for. But the things that stick with me the most are the ones that happened all around the event.

The story really begins with a "chance" meeting in August with a "random" mom whose son was about to be in the same kindergarten class with my son. From there, she and I ended up in a Moms in Prayer group together. Again, just a "random" moment. Who knows why, but after that very first prayer group, she sent me a FaceBook message that basically said, "I think God wants me to ask you if you know about If and if you might want to help." I didn't even hesitate. I just replied, "yes, I've known about If since they first launched, but I've never done a thing about it. Maybe this is a sign that I'm supposed to."

And all that is true. I initially heard about If on social media over 3 years ago. A lot of the people that I follow started talking about it and from there I started following along on Twitter. Truthfully, I was a little scared of the concept. It involved people from different backgrounds and denominations coming together to wrestle with the question, "If God is real, then what?" I knew what that meant for my own life, but I also know that not everyone's theology is exactly like mine and perhaps hearing from other viewpoints might challenge me a little bit. Yep, I admit it. I was scared that if my beliefs got challenged, I might have to think a little bit or possibly adjust my worldview.

Knowing all this, I'm still a little surprised at how quickly I replied back. I think the main difference between now and when I first learned about If is that I'm now a parent of some kids who don't look like me. That alone with change your worldview. I've also started reading and listening to a few more people who don't always think exactly like me theologically. Sometimes they anger me, but they make me think without offending me. Regardless, I said yes and never looked back.

I figured out this might not be your ordinary "women's conference" way back in October when we had our first meeting. My first clue was when there was no agenda. Just meeting to worship, pray, and see where the Spirit was leading. For this Southern Baptist girl, that was different to say the least. Then those of us who were going to be putting together If:Fayetteville started talking a little more and I was the only Baptist in the room. What?? I mean, we're in Arkansas and it's a women's event.

From that first meeting, the pieces started to fall into place in amazing ways. The first actual planning meeting did involve an agenda (which, I came to find out, is not unusual when you are working with elementary teachers), but it also involved more unbelievable "coincidences." We started the meeting by simply going around the circle and introducing ourselves since very few of us actually knew each other. Someone suggested we not only introduce ourselves, but also tell our personal area of gifting as we went around that circle. I sat in awe as we reached the end of the circle, and almost EVERY AREA OF NEED had been filled. We had gifts of administration, gifts of prayer, gifts of encouragement, gifts of hospitality, and everything else we needed.

From there, I'm sure the details exhausted and stressed out some that had more responsibilities than I did, but I never heard complaining. Instead, I just heard calls for prayer over some specific areas. Need food provided at a reasonable price? Let's pray over that. Weather forecast calls for snow? Let's pray about that (and watch God change the forecast in less than 24 hours time). Need to know who to invite so we won't be the only ones there? Yep. Just pray.

And they came. Almost 200 of them. And they came ready to worship and receive a word. And all along we just kept praying. We prayed for the hurting and for the lonely and we praised God for his providence and provision all along the way.

The weekend was amazing and I hope to never forget some of the words that were spoken directly to me, but my biggest takeaway was this--the body of Christ is beautiful. Regardless of the labels we place on ourselves or the signs on our churches, when we come together, miraculous things can happen. And that's not scary at all.

Monday, January 25, 2016

We have winners (sort of)!

Just didn't want to think I'd forgotten about you. That last post generated some views, but apparently people are still having trouble commenting. SO, I am going to extend the the giveaway to next week when I am back on FB and can check comments on there. For those of you who have already commented and shared, you get BONUS entries. Happy commenting!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The One With the Giveaway

I mentioned in my previous blog post that I have a goal of memorizing more Scripture. I've realized lately that most all of the verses I know by heart were memorized when I was a child. Thanks to some great Sunday school, VBS, and Children's Church teachers, I hid words in my heart when I was very young and those are the ones I can still call to mind now. Most of the ones I have memorized the best are the ones that were set to music.

With that in mind, a few months ago I asked for recommendations for Scripture songs to introduce to my own children. The music needed to meet a couple of criteria. First, it needed to be just Scripture so they could memorize the verses and not just another song. Second, it couldn't be BAD MUSIC! I think, specifically, I requested "non-cheesy" music. I've tried to download similar music in the past and the quality was just cringe-worthy.

Upon the recommendation of a friend, I discovered Seeds Family Worship. The mission of Seeds is "to get God's Word through Seeds into as many homes (and hearts) as possible around the world." As part of their method of spreading the gospel, they even give you a free CD (or download) for every one you buy.

A few months ago, Seeds offered a free download of Seeds of Courage (Volume 1). We quickly discovered those songs are perfect for our boys. What boy (or child, period) doesn't need to be reminded that, "lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who love the Lord lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10)." Or, "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)." Bonus, the music is actually GOOD!

Recently, Seeds gave me the opportunity to review their new project When You Lie Down: Lullabies and Scripture Songs. I have to admit, I wondered at first how I would like it since my kids are past the age of lullabies. I quickly discovered that it is the PERFECT music to relax ME. During a tough week at work, I actually looked forward to getting in my car and unwinding as the word of God calmed by soul. This CD is a wonderful way to instill Scripture in your children, but it would also be perfect for you to listen to during your commute, or your quiet time, or anytime you just need to relax and let the Word of God comfort you.

As a special bonus, in addition to giving me a CD, Seeds has given me THREE copies to GIVE AWAY! To be eligible, just leave a comment in the comments section below. I'd love for you to tell me your favorite verse or just tell me hello. Since I'm not on Facebook right now, you can earn a bonus entry just by sharing this post with others for me. Just include in your comment that you shared it (on Facebook, Twitter, or some other form of social media) and I will enter your name twice. Next Monday (Jan 25), I will use a random number generator to choose the winning commenters and I will send you your FREE CD.

Good luck and I can't wait to see your comments.

Monday, January 11, 2016

21 Days

Hello bloggy people.

I haven't forgotten about you, I promise. But, in the interest of trying not to bore you to tears, I haven't been blogging about my exciting life. For instance, I feel quite sure you don't care that not one, but TWO of the last 10 days my children have stayed in pajamas all day. Seriously. They took off pajamas only to bathe and put on clean pajamas. That's just how we've been rolling. There's been a new computer system at work that has caused me to audibly growl a few times, but other than that we've just been laying low. And that's just fine with me (see also: December is Trying to Kill Me).

Despite all of that "excitement," I've found the time to start something new. Our church started a 21 day fast yesterday. In addition to fasting from social media (more on that later) and sugar, I'm endeavoring to memorize 21 scriptures in 21 days. I've been using a handy app called "scripture typer" and I'm amazed at how well it works.

Y'all know I'm not a devotional writer, but I thought I might try my hand with blogging about a few verses as I memorize them. I most likely won't be doing it every day, but I want to share the ones that are particularly meaningful to me.

Yesterday was the first day of the fast and my first verse was one I discovered several years ago. Genesis 15:6 says, "And he (Abraham) believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness."

The striking part of the Genesis verse is that Abraham BELIEVED and it was credited to him as righteousness. He believed and by faith he acted, but the verse in Genesis says that he was credited with righteousness BEFORE he acted. God had promised to give him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and Abraham believed despite the fact he had no heirs. He believed despite being old and married to a barren wife. And he was called righteous.

The next chapter of Genesis is where I really identify with Abraham, however. Because he believed, and God called him righteous, but then he decided God didn't have a clue what He was talking about. So since he was married to a barren wife and God somehow wanted him to have a slew of descendants, he took it upon himself to take another woman and have a baby with her. You know, because his plan was better than God's plan.

And here's the part of the story that gets me the most. After that poor decision, he forfeited all that righteousness, right? I mean surely, after God had commended him for his faith and then he went and tried to take matters into his own hands, God would find someone else to make a covenant with. But that's where grace kicks in. For years I didn't seen grace in the Old Testament, but there it is. In Chapter 17 of Genesis God comes back to Abraham and makes a new covenant with him. And he promises AGAIN to make him the "father of a multitude of nations." And, just so Abraham doesn't get confused again, he gives him the details this time. "Abraham, you know that old, barren wife of yours? Sarai? Yeah, SHE will give birth to a son. His name will be Isaac and he is the one through whom I will fulfill this covenant."

Of course, you know the rest of the story. Abraham fulfilled his side of the bargain and God did just what he promised. But righteousness? It was credited to him BEFORE any of the rest of that.

So, during this 21 days, I am seeking to believe more. As Pastor Nick said yesterday, this fast may not lead to getting specific prayers answered the way I want, but it will definitely lead to getting more of God. And that is the ultimate goal.

As a final aside, you may have clicked here from Facebook, but I won't see any of the comments you leave if you leave them there. I am planning to share the blog there (since that's where most of you find me), but I won't be going on there to read anything. I welcome any comments here, of course, but don't feel obligated. I hope this blog encourages you, but, more importantly, these are truths I need to write as a way of rehearsing them to myself.