Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Faith Like Potatoes

Ok so I am new at this. My wife Tracy is already an expert at writing. I have read all of her post and some of the ones she follows. Being a dad for me is a dream come true. I grew up in and out of foster care and childrens homes until my 11th grade year of high school. As a child I use to wonder what a real family felt like. How it would be to actually have my mom and dad tell me they love me and really mean it. You know the ones who put their kids first. I use to say when I am a dad I am going to do this and that and this and that. Now I am a dad and I have the opportunity to play baseball in my front yard with not only my boys Seth and Braeden but, others kids in our neighborhood. I am all time pitcher and quarterback if we are playing football. I get to dance with my daughter Addison in the kitchen to Cinderella by SCC. All this; when I think about it brings tears to my eyes. Daily I am reaffirmed by my awesome wife that I am a great dad. I wanna be and I try really hard at it. It's easy if you are still a kid at heart; which I am. Now we are praying and working really hard to bring our other little Cinderella home Olivia. After reading some of what Tracy has written about fear and doubt it does come up daily but, I serve a Big and Awesome God and he can move mountains. Selling a house, moving to a new house, planting a new church, and adopting a sweet little princess from Ethiopia is nothing to him. Our pastor and friend Jay said Sunday "God makes sure the flowers get sun and water, and the birds get food, how much more does he love us if we are made in his image". So the title Faith Like Potatoes is a movie we watched with our kids the other night. It is by the same people who made Facing the Giants. Sorry to tell you what it's about but, I am. It's about a farmer who was walking completely in his own will until God taps him on the shoulder in church one Sunday and says "LIVE FOR ME". From then on he starts preaching and prays for miracles for crops and ends to wars etc. His crops were dying and he plants potatoes after being laughed at by everyone. But he prays and prays for rain....Well no rain they need water to grow right? NOPE they dig up those fields and guess what was waiting for them? Yep Potatoes. Gotta have that kind of faith. Know God can do anything through anyone at anytime. His timing, His will.The Farmer knew our Father would be faithful to those who love him. (Romans 8:28) So my prayer we have Faith Like Potatoes because in our weak moments of just being us that we will have that kind of faith.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My new prayer

Luke 11:8 In a parable told by Christ, he tells about a man who, late at night, knocked at the door of his friend and persisted in asking for some bread. Christ said the man, although it was late, gave to his friend because of his persistence. - "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs."

A couple weeks back, I read an adoption post about a family stepping out in faith for God to fund their 4th adoption by setting out a pickle jar to catch loose change. They saw that jar as a symbol to God of their stepping out, just beginning the process and getting ready to watch God work. I smiled as we already had an apple juice jug set aside and the boys had pan-handled among their friends for our first $5 in the neighborhood. My Braeden has no fear. I smiled as I'm not the only dope who thinks a jar of change may one day grow.

And boy did HER jar grow!!! Ironically, my friend Beth emailed me to ask me to check out this post. It just happened to be the same family and they were ecstatic to report that their "pickle jar over-floweth!!" Someone had read their post about their jar and had contributed $20,000. Wow. (Envy - get away from me.) So this family is now doing something called, "Pay it forward adoption." Where they are still raising money for an adoption, it's just for someone else! How cool!

Now I don't expect God to fill my apple juice container with $20,000 tomorrow, BUT - I have decided that if we are going to pray, (and I am asking you to pray with me), can we follow Christ's parable and ask in boldness??

The day after we decided to sell the house, we had someone offer to let us rent to own their house. It just seemed to be God affirming our decision. And since that day, I have felt such a peace about the sale. Something that I have never felt about any move. I hate moving more than labor pains. Seriously.

And when we decided; Tony decided that if we made $5,000, or $8,000, or $10,000 - it was still more than we had and glory to God. But now I have been feeling led to pray big, and I really don't think this is selfishness in trying to get out of working to get the funds, as anyone can tell you, international adoption is not an easy road, even with money in the bank. We still have a lot of work ahead. It's just that we have had SO many people doubt we will be able to sell this house for this adoption. The economy, 2 in our cul de sac already for sale, resell values, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So I want ALL glory to be given to Him. If we make $5,000, whoop-whoop, we raise more money in the next year and thank Him. BUT, if we sell this house for the asking price - we should make around $22-24,000. And the adoption costs $20-25,000.

SO - I have been praying for nothing short of a miracle. For God to sell this house, the house He provided us, for His glory, to show that His plan is perfect and can not be thwarted by a bad housing market, our doubt, or the economy. To show luke-warm Christians in this Bible belt that our God is still living, and active, and moving.

(Plus, we have a real estate broker and a mortgage broker who have donated their time and efforts to helping us. Again, what seems like an affirmation. )

So please join me. Let's be bold. And get this party started in bringing this angel home sooner than later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Strength and Weakness

The last few days, I have been so happy to have been blessed with a husband who is a believer. Because when I am strong, I can help lift him up. And when I am weak, he is there to support me. And when we both collapse or shrink in fear, our God is there with His mighty right hand to lift us up.

This week I have gone through a range of emotions. Maybe it is because we sent the application for the adoption off. Maybe it is because we are working on getting the house 'back in shape' to sell. Maybe it is because I have been drawing like crazy; pictures to try and sell. But for me - it has all seemed futile. It's too long a process - we're better off stopping now before we get started. It's not going to happen - this house is far from the only one for sale now. It's not for us - we don't look as good on paper as we do in person. But then I get excited when I talk to Addison about her new little sister, or see the artwork for Olivia that came in the mail today - she's really out there waiting, isn't she??

Add that to outside issues which have exploded, work related stresses, and the above doubt - and you have a recipe that Satan is chuckling over. A dear friend wrote me last week when she heard of the adoption to say, "prepare yourself, you know that by doing God's work, Satan will be coming after you." And she was right. We just didn't expect it this quickly.

But even when I doubt OUR efforts. I shake my head in denial at OUR attempts. I know that HE is powerful, majestic, and faithful to finish a work that He has started. MY best laid plans will always be lacking unless He is the architect. As Tony keeps telling me, "unless God tells you differently.... this is His will. Nothing changes that."

One of the things I have struggled a bit with is the thought "is this about us? or is it about doing God's will? will this really make a difference in His world? or are we looking for applause and respect?" Then I read this week a comment which hit the idea of adoption home - rescuing one child may not save them all, but the process of adoption serves to open the eyes of so many around you to the need that is there. If we all sit in our air conditioned homes, eating out of our well-stocked pantries, and deny the rest of the world even exists - there never will be a problem, in our own minds or worlds anyway. But to go, to bring back, a beautiful token of that world. A little being who has escaped poverty, disease, and death. Is to open other's eyes to the fact that that little one was not alone. To open other's eyes to see that doing God's will may be hard, and may be painful - but it carries with it a reward and a blessing that you will never know if you don't try. God's will may be for me to be able to gain sweet little Olivia as my daughter, but His greater purpose in bringing her home may be even wider reaching.

Our pastor linked to the following video today which again, brings that idea home. That God commanded us to go. And if not to go, to send others. It's not an option and it's not something I can wash away in doubt or in distrust of my own efforts. Sometimes it just takes a bit for us to remember that. I know I am so guilty of in the past living my own life, just for me. And just because we felt we couldn't afford to support that missionary, or give to that charity, or go on a short term mission's trip - it's not about us and our wants and needs. To not follow His commands, is to disobey. And I never really thought much before about the sin of omission. That He has a plan so much bigger than just me - and it's a plan that He commands us all to hear. Fearful or not, this life is not my own. So I need to quit whining and get to work.

Isaiah 41:9-11

9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant';
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's official, kind of

It's official - at least within the walls of this house - the newest Wages angel will without a doubt, barring future difficulties, discussions, or events - be forever prayed for and thought of as :


I....LOVE.....IT. The reason? Olivia is derived from Olive. Olive oil was a life-sustaining product in the Hebrew culture. Olive oil was also used as a symbol for the spirit of God. And since the Holy Spirit is what started us out on this journey, I think it is perfect.

Tony was finally won over when he saw a super-cute baby with an embroidered dress on which said "Livvie". Which was just super-cute (obviously), and I finally got my way. Yeah!!!

And now, in actuality, Olivia has two pieces of gorgeous art:
From her big brother Braeden, who in essence, named her -

And then a gorgeous piece of art coming all the way from CROATIA!! I have a dear reader friend and artist who found my blog through Compassion and has been following our story. She felt the Holy Spirit leading her to paint a beautiful painting of an olive tree for Baby Olivia which is on it's way to the US to be hung in her nursery. How cool is that?!? I wanted to wait until I had it in hand to show off, so I hope you don't mind SiLa, but I thought it was too perfect for this post to not share with everyone else Olivia's gorgeous painting:
She also shared the following verses for Olivia:

"I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?” He replied, “Do you not know what these are?” “No, my lord,” I said. So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.” Zechariah 4

SO... our adoption agency application and application for the home study agency were both sent off Friday. We should hear within 10 days whether or not we are approved. So pray, pray, pray! Our next step would be the home study which we may have to delay until we sell the house or raise the money to begin as it is only good for 1 year. And since most adoptions take 12-18 mos., we don't want to begin it too early and have to pay to have it renewed. But Lord - we took that first step, now keep us walking (or running would be nice) on the right path!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The priorities of a 9 year old

My son loves baseball - his glove is permanently attached to his hand. He loves playing with his buddies in our front yard. We usually have at least 7 little boys running bases in our little grassy area, from afternoon to sunset. He loves his GameBoy, and Pokeman, both of which I would gladly throw into our local trash dump.

But when a letter from his new teacher told him to email her this summer and tell her about him, this is what he wrote:

Mrs. XXXX,

I love science, it is my favorite subject. I have a brother that is going to 1st
grade and a little sister going into 3k. My mom thinks I am an artist and my
dad thinks I am a good baseball player. I have 1 dog named Gracie and 1 turtle
named Turdy. My family and I are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. My mom
and dad are helping start a church. My mom is a volunteer for Compassion, she
has gone to Africa. I love steak and I love to go fishing. I like to go to the
mountains and camp or stay in a cabin.

Seth W.

Once again I am in awe. Here we have a little boy who loves all things slimy, dirty, and smelly. And yet he didn't talk about his friends, or his toys, or his new baseball team with the cool uniforms. But he did feel like the fact that we are adopting, the fact that we are helping to plant a new church, the fact that I volunteer - he found those things important to tell her about. And I didn't even have to tell him those things were important. That putting God's work in a place of priority is important - he just figured it out on his own. And I think that's pretty amazing.

(However, I did have to correct 'my mommy is a missionary' with my 'mommy's a volunteer'. What a promotion!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When is enough, enough??

My heart is beating like a madman just writing this. Not sure why, this is just a computer, with a keyboard attached. It's not like I'm talking to the Queen of England.

But here's the deal - we are sending the application for the adoption agency off this week. We are also sending off the application and fee to apply for a home study to begin. So this is for real. What is also for real is that more money owed will be right around the corner once this train leaves the station. And a home study is only good for one year. So starting it and waiting for 6 months is not an option.

And I go back and forth - faith = "believing in that which you cannot see". Well, I can see my house is not on the market yet (although soon). And I can see that my bank account will be good and low after the above fees. I also have a wonderful blogger friend in the same position we are with adopting and she is also struggling with when to begin, what to do, what to trust in. I want to be faithful but I also know you have to have wisdom. And I'm needin some wisdom.

So I need some advice and feedback - PLEASE. (that being said in a completely whiny and irritating voice). After prayer, I just know I am suppose to step out in faith. But is selling the house and forfeiting all our equity enough? Is having an apple juice jar to collect all our coins enough? Is putting mounds in my garage to yard sell enough? Or do I ask others?

Guilt tells me that wouldn't be fair. I just asked for support last year. And God provided mightily. Embarrassment also says we should just try on our own, it isn't anyone else's burden. But am I keeping God's blessings from others by not asking them to help bring our little girl home? And would it be a burden or a blessing? I just found out recently I had offended someone with my last support letter asking for money, and I felt horrible. I know that many families send out support letters for adoption, but usually they haven't just asked for support one year prior.

Just looking for input, feel perfectly free to comment anonymously. I can take it. But I really need some back up on what to do. Just keep praying for the house to sell or elicit help??

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Adoption - So what's happening?

Nada. Zip. Zilch. Unless you count that we had another 'Movies in the Park' last night and all potty-related slash 'peeing in the woods' accidents were safely avoided.

The adoption - at a stand-still. Last Saturday we went to an agency meeting for Christian World Adoption. We arrived 10 min. early to anything for the first time in our adult lives. Sat for 30 min. in an empty parking lot, started realizing we must have went to the wrong church, called everyone in town asking them to check my email to see where I went wrong, and ended up arriving 45 min late. All I could think of was, "wow, aren't we showing how responsible parents we are??" Hey, anybody could mistake Shandon Presbyterian (itty-bitty church) for Shandon Baptist (huge mega church), right???? No, I know, most would have actually READ their e-mail.

So, on Sunday we make up our mind about agencies. After a long phone call with an America World (AWAA) parent, we decide to yes, go with them. Yeah!!! One step taken. Making Tracy's mind up. And that's a big time step.

On Monday I fill out all the paperwork for the application. Need $250 and a Drs. note for each of us explaining what medicine we are on. Go by my Dr., who never sees me because I'm usually healthy (or hate going to the Dr. one). No problem.

Tony goes by his Dr., whom he sees every other week (as he loves going to the Dr. for every sore throat and strained pinky finger) - they can't fill the form out without an official appointment. What???? Can you say money-hungry anyone??? (I can.) He makes an appointment.

On Tuesday, evil attacks our house. He's angry at the dust bunnies, spoiled milk, puppy poop, everything. I'm crying over spilled milk, papercuts, and excessive soap scum. (All completely fabricated, BTW). But you get the drift. I go into melt down mode. WE.... CAN'T.... DO.... THIS. TOO..... MUCH......STRESSSSSSS! And it's what, Day 2???? I cancel his appt. and decide to wait until the house is sold to actually begin the process.

On Wednesday. My glorious and God-given husband informs me about what a baby I am. How I can talk faith, and belief, and love... until it gets hard. Very gently he says, "Um Tracy, do you think God just decided to say, "Oh, hey, I was just kidding. I really didn't want you to adopt. It was all just a joke." HE knew it would be hard. HE knew that it would test our faith and our strength. HE still told us to obey.

So we are back on. Waiting on the Drs. letters. Just beginning the waiting process that will be the next 1-2 years of our lives. And what I did realize, was that for God to want me to step out in faith, and trust him - I have to be willing, and not scared, to actually take that first step. If I never take that first step and just wait until I think I have it all under control and planned out, I'm not really allowing Him to work, now am I??? Lesson #1 learned of about #4,658 I'm sure.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


It would be an understatement for me to say that Compassion International is doing a 'good' job at it's task. It would be an understatement to say they are a 'good' organization. It is also an understatement to say that I'm 'glad' I was led to join with them on their journey in fighting poverty.

A good job is an A on a physics test. An unbelievable task would be to score perfect 100s for 8 years straight on every test you have ever taken, physics and algebra included. But Compassion has done just that. Charity Navigator is an independent auditing company that analyzes how wisely a charity utilizes the funds it receives. For EIGHT straight years, Compassion has scored 4 out of 4 stars. Yes, I know, last year I was bragging about seven. But eight?? Just this year, Compassion has scored higher than the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and the Boy Scouts. And they are still in the top 1% of ALL charities. How about that for the over-achiever? Yet still, I just heard another person tell me that their family member thinks these 'child sponsor things' don't work and are just for stealing money. Huh???? Don't think I have heard anyone question giving money to the Boy Scouts lately.

And to say they are doing a 'good' job - here's the latest proof of how great a job they are doing:
I was so excited to get the following pictures of my beautiful Ethiopian sister.

So here's the journey = born in poverty, enrolled in Compassion at the age of 8, saved at the age of 13, and now, as a successful young woman with her ENGINEERING degree, Eyerusalem has graduated and will go on to rock this world with her passion and love for Christ. Read Jerry's own story here.

And me? Am I glad that I got an email years ago which made me wonder, what am I doing to further His kingdom and help others??? Or that I got a postcard a couple days later telling me about being a Compassion Advocate? Am I glad I had so many people turn me down on child sponsorship, giving me that look which says, 'good for you but I'm just too busy / too cash strapped/ too uninterested / too skeptical to help out a child in another part of the world? Yes - I guess I am. I'm glad I saw the skepticism so I could go see the miracle for myself in Africa.

So what's stopping you from doing something that will not leave you with a 'good' feeling for helping, but leave you with an unbelievable experience in being the hands of Christ? Stop being a skeptic of yourself and your own abilities. God didn't create you to live within the boundaries of your comfort zone. He created us to be exceptional; kinda like an organization which can bring a girl out of poverty and turn her into an engineer who has brought 32 people to Christ. Just sayin..