Friday, December 30, 2011

“Here I Am” by Downhere

I have heard this song a million times but the lyrics just hit me tonight. It’s a really awesome song and my prayer for my life! Lord, use my life story, all of it’s broken pieces, and make it a part of your amazing glorious plan! (I have bolded my favorite parts.)

“Here I Am” by Downhere

Sometimes Your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes in comes in the Spirit's breeze
You reach for the deepest hope in me
And call out for the things of eternity

But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say

Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands
Are You not the closest when it's hardest to stand
I know that You will finish what You began

And these broken parts You will redeem
Become the song that I can sing


Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness
And the fear that I'll fail You in the end
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but You can


Here I Am, all my life an offering to You, to You
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan
Here I am


You can listen to the song here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Desert Experiences

Some thoughts for your day…(summarized from none other than Girlfriends in God)

“Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today ... the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)

We all probably feel like God has led us through the desert at some point in our lives. If you are currently in that desert, do you trust Him? Do you trust that He can and will make a way for your broken paths to be made straight when you call on Him? Instead of keeping our eyes on the circumstances of our desert, lift your eyes to your Savior. Call on God, and say to your soul: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today...the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV).

Ahhh…all we need to do is be still and listen for God’s guidance through that desert. He is faithful!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Heartbreaker Christmas Song

“Father of the fatherless be with your sons and daughters this Christmas…Father let us not forget the children who are all alone this Christmas…”

Do those words bring tears to your eyes? Cause they sure do to mine. The lyrics come from an older song by Toby Mac that I had heard before but never heard the words until a couple of days ago. It just breaks my heart to think of all of the children around this world that are fatherless…at least fatherless on this earth.

While you are enjoying your family this Christmas, remember the 147 million children who do not have families to spend their Christmas with. Many of them don’t even have anyone to share the true meaning of Christmas with them. Pray that God will bring forth willing adoptive families all across this world to bring these children into loving homes so that next Christmas they will have a real home!

“This Christmas” by Toby Mac

Woman: Joy to the world
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing

Toby Mac: Now Johny never got his wish on December 25
That's what he said when he left the orphanage
9 years old, but Johny was an old soul
Gonna spend his first Christmas in a real home
Showed me a picture that he drew the night before
Was a picture of a man standin' outside a door
I asked him who it was and he said someone I only
see in dreams
Comforts me when I cry myself to sleep

Woman: Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
This Christmas

Toby Mac: Believe in angels?
Johny asked me starin' at the sky
I said I do and saw a sparkle in his eye
Big brother for the weekend respondin' to the season
Took the chance that givin's better than recievin'
Two nights, a new family, some holiday cheer
We laughed and sang
Came on a midnight clear
We gave, received, and as we headed to close
We looked to the heavens and it started to snow
Down blessings

Woman: Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
(Toby Mac: You ain't livin' til you choose to give love and joy and peace to one of His)
Father let us not forget
The children who are all alone this Christmas
(Toby Mac: You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til You choose to give)

(James 1:27)
Little Boy: Religion that God our Father
Accepts as pure and faultless is this
To look after orphans and widows in their distress
Merry Christmas everyone

Woman:Joy to the world
The Lord is come
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing

Toby Mac: Believe in angels Jonnie asked me starin' at the sky
I said I do and saw a sparkle in his eye
9 years old, but Jonnie was an old soul
Gonna spend is next Christmas in a real home

Woman: Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
(Toby Mac: You ain't livin' til you choose to give love and joy and peace to one of His)
Father let us not forget
The children who are all alone this Christmas
(Toby Mac: You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til you choose to give)
Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
Let Heaven and nature sing
Let Heaven and nature sing
Father let us not forget
The children who are all alone this Christmas
(Toby Mac: You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til you choose to give)

Toby Mac: You ain't livin'
You ain't livin'
You ain't livin'

Woman: Let Heaven and Nature sing
Let Heaven and nature sing
(Toby Mac: You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til you choose to give)
Don't leave me all alone
This Christmas

Little Boy: Merry Christmas Everyone


You can listen to the song here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Can you believe Christmas is in 5 days?!? What in the world? How did that happen??

I hope each of you enjoy this holiday season! I know how hard it is when you are struggling with infertility and loss but I pray earnestly for each of you, that God will comfort you and give you the strength to get through this holiday season. Know that what you are feeling is normal and it’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to ask for space. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and always remember that Jesus is right there holding you up through it all.

For those of you that have new additions, through birth or adoption, enjoy your new little families and make many many happy memories this Christmas!!

Merry Christmas blogging world!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Reason for the Season

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to really make Jesus the center of this holiday season. Things have become so commercialized and Jesus is so often left out of the celebrations. Not cool.

I was talking to a coworker a couple of weeks ago that had the conversation with her kids about how Santa was not real because they had started putting Santa in a higher place than Jesus. They were concerned about behaving for Santa when we should all be concerned about behaving for Jesus! In a child’s eyes how can Jesus compete with a man who brings you tangible presents? Ouch. Made me really think about how we are going to handle Christmas and Santa and everything else about this time of year with our children.

Anywho, here is a recent Girlfriends in God devotional and I wanted to share.

How to Have a Joy-Filled Christmas Part 2

Today’s Truth
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I believe the secret to a holy and joy-filled celebration of Christmas is found in giving. It always has been. Are we giving the wrong gifts to the wrong people? Maybe we are not receiving the right gifts with the right attitude. Over the next few days, we will examine several truths about Christmas that will lead us once again to the manger, where we will worship the Christ child and experience a Christmas holiday filled with love, peace and joy.

First truth:  We must receive God’s gift to us.

Luke 2:8-12“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them; and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (NIV)

Second truth: We must give the right gifts to Him.

Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ. Yet, we celebrate His birthday by giving gifts to everyone but Him.  What gifts does He want from us? What gifts are fit for the King? To answer that question, let’s go back to that first Christmas and see what gifts He received that first Christmas night.

·      The gift of trust

The gift of trust was given to Jesus by Mary, a teenage girl who was engaged to Joseph. I can only imagine what thoughts raced through her mind when an angel appeared to Mary announcing she would give birth to a son named Jesus. I am certain she could not have possibly understood what the angel told her, but she knew the one who sent the angel, and that was enough for Mary. I can almost guarantee you it would not have been enough for me if I had been in her place. After all, she was a virgin and last time I checked, virgins cannot be pregnant. What would Joseph think? Trust shines best in the darkness. Trust is a gift fit for the King.

Proverbs 3:5-6“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (NASB).

·      The gift of obedience

Joseph gave Jesus the gift of obedience. He was betrothed to Mary, and in Jesus’ day, a betrothal was legally binding. While engaged, Mary becomes pregnant. Joseph knows he is not the father of this baby because he has never slept with Mary. His first reaction was to divorce Mary quietly, but an angel comes to him and explains that Joseph is to keep her but not sleep with her. Joseph’s response could have been many things but he responded with obedience.

John 14:15(NIV) "If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

Obedience is not just an outward action, but an inner attitude. I love the story of the small child who was riding in the front seat of the car. Wanting to be close to his dad, the youngster stood to his feet. Dad said, “Son, please sit down and put on your seat belt.” The little boy said, “But dad, I want to stand by you!” It took several attempts but the boy finally sat down. When his father bragged on his obedience, the little boy responded, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m still standing on the inside.” Obedience is a deliberate choice to do what God wants us to do. Obedience is a gift fit for the King.

·      The gift of praise

When the shepherds heard the news, they went to see Jesus for themselves. Afterwards, Scripture tells us they went on their way - praising God. Praise is a continual choice we must make again and again until it becomes a habit. A young hippie was sitting on a park bench, reading his Bible when he suddenly began shouting, “Praise God!  What a miracle!” A cynic walking by stopped to ask the man why he was so excited.  The hippie replied, “I was just reading how God parted the Red Sea and the whole nation of Israel walked on dry ground!” The older man snapped, “That’s ridiculous! Don’t you know the Red Sea wasn’t a real sea at all?  It was only a few inches deep.” He then turned and walked away. For a moment, the young man was confused and discouraged but it was only minutes until his shouts again filled the air. The unbeliever returned to ask, “What are you shouting about now?” “Well, I just read how God drowned the entire Egyptian army in only six inches of water!” Don’t let anyone keep you from praising God. Don’t let any circumstance deny you the joy of praise. Praise keeps us kneeling before the manger and is a gift fit for the King.

Psalm 150:6 (NASB) “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

·      The gift of sacrifice

The wise men came, bringing gifts that required sacrifice on their part because they knew true worship always involves sacrifice. They brought gold, a precious metal, myrrh, an expensive perfume like Mary later used to wash the feet of Jesus, as well as incense, a rare and expensive product used in worship.

1 Chronicles 21:14 (NCV) “I won’t offer a burnt offering that costs me nothing."

Sacrifice goes beyond what is required or expected. The best gift, the most expensive and extravagant gift should go to the one whose birthday we celebrate. This year, give a sacrificial gift in His name.

As the Christmas season approaches, I encourage you to examine your heart and life. What gift does Jesus want from you this year? Is it whole-hearted trust? Is the Father waiting on your willingness to obey before revealing the next step on your journey? Do you live in the gear of attitude and praise? Is He asking you to lay everything down as a sweet-smelling sacrifice unto Him? The best gift we can give Him this year is our heart, soul and mind.

Yesterday, I revised my Christmas list from last year and it occurred to me that the name of Jesus is not on that list. To have a joy-filled Christmas, Jesus Christ must be in the backdrop of every gathering…every preparation… every plan and every holiday celebration. May it be so in our lives this Christmas.

Let’s Pray
Father, I celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ who is the very reason for the Christmas season. My gift to You this year is me … every part of my life in full surrender to Your plan and purpose. Please help me keep my eyes firmly fixed on You as I celebrate Christmas this year. May others see the joy and peace only You can give as I honor You on Your birthday.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Consider the following gifts you can give to Jesus this year. Read and memorize the verses listed below. Record them in your journal. When you are tempted to get side-tracked by the world’s materialistic view of Christmas, remember the gifts that are fit for the King.

Gift of trust

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Gift of obedience

John 14:15(NIV) "If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

Gift of praise

Psalm 150:6 (NASB) “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Gift of sacrifice

1 Chronicles 21:14 (ICB) “I won’t give an offering that costs me nothing.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Almost Pretending

It’s a weird feeling…being stuck between waiting and getting a referral. When our paperwork first got registered in Volgograd it all felt so real. We registered and bought our nursery furniture, all getting ready for that life changing call…and now we wait some more. It almost seems like we are pretending, if that makes any sense.

For people who are having a child biologically, they have a constant reminder that things are real and that there really is a baby on the way. They even have an approximate time that baby will arrive. For those of us that are adopting…no constant reminder…besides the lack of money in our checkbooks… :)…and no clue when that time will come. We have to go ahead and prepare so that when we do get that call we are semi ready, but it sometimes seems silly at the same time because we have no idea when that child will be arriving.

One of the things that I learned through our miscarriage though is to live in the moment. What I mean by that is that it’s okay to get excited about the future and prepare for things. I don’t have to worry about protecting my heart because God will protect my heart. We can be joyful and rejoice in what God has given us today and not worry about what tomorrow may or may not bring.

After the miscarriage, part of me wished that I hadn’t starting thinking of baby names and looking at nursery furniture and preparing for the future with my child. But through prayer and a little God given insight, I came to realize that God wants us to live joyfully each and every day. He blessed us with the pregnancy for 14 weeks and wanted us to live each of those days to the fullest, enjoying His blessing.

Today, God has given me the promise that there is a child on the other side of this that He has created for us to parent. I will rest in that promise and trust Him each day that He knows best and will bring us to that child when the time is right. So, until that time…We will continue preparing even though it does feel like pretend. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Russia Process

I have gotten many questions lately about the Russian adoption process…I guess I have never blogged about it. Silly me.

Basically, right now our paperwork is in Russia, registered in Volgograd. We are waiting on a referral. That could happen today or in several months…no way to know. :) When we get that referral we will receive a picture of the child and the background information. Sometimes this information is questionable…they might have diagnoses on the background information that are not accurate, they might have diagnoses that are not identified, etc. For this reason, we will take all of the information that we receive and let a doctor from the UAB International Adoption Clinic review it and let us know their professional opinion. All they do at the clinic is work with international adoptive families, so they are used to reading these referrals. They will give us their opinion as far as if it looks like the child has fetal alcohol syndrome, if there are any troubling diagnoses in there, etc. At that point we will have the opportunity to accept the referral or turn the referral down and wait for another child. I can’t even imagine turning down the referral once we have seen the face of that child, but…it’s part of the process.

If we choose to accept the referral we will then wait for a travel date. The last family from our agency that adopted from Russia waited 6 weeks between accepting the referral and traveling for the first trip. We will travel to Volgograd for one week (well, we will be gone one week…but travel time is about 24 hours each way, so we aren’t exactly in the country for a whole week) and get to meet our child and spend some time with them each day we are there. At the end of the trip we can officially accept the referral or again, choose not to accept.

We then come back to the US, :( BOO, and do some more paperwork and wait for the next travel date. During this period, there is a possibility that we could lose our referral. The Russian government puts first priority on Russian families adopting, so if a Russian family comes forward interested in our child, they will get priority. This is something that I just can’t think about because I can’t imagine how hard that will be after meeting that baby. Please pray that this doesn’t happen, that God allows the referral that we get to be our child that we bring home!

At some point, typically 1-4 months after that first trip, we will head back to Russia and do some more stuff - court hearings, physicals, psychologicals, etc. The second trip we will be in Russia 3.5 weeks! Loooong trip. Sometimes this trip is broken into two trips, so we would have to make THREE trips to Russia. Yikes. All of this traveling is what makes adopting from Russia so expensive. At the end of the 3.5 weeks we finally get custody of our child and can come back to the US!

So, that is basically the process in a nutshell. Hope that helps answer some questions! :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Prayers for our Child

Becky had mentioned on her blog a while back about a neat (Neat? Who says neat these days?) baby present that she had received. I got her to send me the details and here is what came of it…

IMG_0563 Sorry about the reflection of our chandelier (Jamie would be so disappointed in my photography skills).

“Prayers for our child” prayer cards! There are 31 of them each with a prayer and corresponding Bible verse on the back that gives you guidance about how to pray for your child each day. For example,

IMG_0564 ANDIMG_0565 ANDIMG_0566   Aren’t those fun?? Barry thinks the scrapbook paper is too girly, but I thought it could work for either gender...

I have loved using them to pray for our own child and have also been able to give a set as a baby present. The most time consuming part of making them was getting the Bible verses and prayers typed up and with the right spacing. If you are interested in making some I can give you further directions, just shoot me an email. You can also use my pattern here. 

Thanks for sharing Becky!!