Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh Mercy Me what a blessing!!

I started this blog a little over 2 years ago and like most people, didn't realize just how far and wide the world wide web really is. (Duh I know) It was sort of like a journal for me and a way to let my friends see pictures of my growing kiddo's.

What I didn't know was how God would use this blog to be such a blessing to me. I had no idea how many amazing people I would meet and connect with. I didn't realize how many people who I would meet along the way that would be there by my side, who would change who I am, and who would help me to see the world through a whole different lens. I had no idea how many friendships I would develop, some of who I talk to daily and cherish more than words could say. We laugh together, cry together, hurt for each other and truly care- all through connections from a blog. (you know who you are). For some our lives only touch each others briefly and yet I still go on knowing that this person, their story, left me a little better than I was before.

Some of these friends I have never met in person and it's something I long to do. Yet sometimes God allows me to. Sometimes God works it out so we can meet in person and that is always such a huge blessing. This is exactly what happened this week. This precious woman, Abby, who had been reading my blog (which she had stumbled on through another blog) found out that we lived near each other. So, she called me up and asked our entire family (how brave was she??) over to her house for dinner.

I cannot even begin to describe to you how awesome this family is. They have 3 beautiful children, one who was adopted from Kazakhstan, and their children's joy just radiates from their little souls-obviously a testament to Abby and her husband Mikes parenting. But the coolest thing was how truly genuine this family is. I mean they are the real deal folks- and in a world full of so much uncertainty it was so awesome to witness this family and how REAL they truly are. Because what Abby didn't tell me on the phone when she called (proof of how humble they are) is that her husband Mike is the lead guitarist for the Christian band MercyMe. If you do not listen to MercyMe you are not really living.

Seriously, go out and buy every single one of their CD's like right now- today- or else you are missing something big time.

My kiddo's love to sing at the top of their lungs in the car to their music (well actually, I do too *blush*). Yet not only is their music awesome but now that I know just how incredible and genuine Abby and Mike truly are- it makes worshiping the Lord to their music all the more sweeter. I'm going to be really honest here and say that if I were Abby or Mike and I was a part of MercyMe I would be thinking I was like all that and a bag of chips. But not at all the case with Abby and Mike which is what struck me the most and left me once again changed.

Thank you Abby and Mike for opening your home to us and for your precious example. The people you are, the way you live your life- speaks volumes for Christ in a world that is full of lost people.

Lord, thank you for this amazing family and for their lives and their realness. Thank you for the music they sing so that we can worship you Lord. Bless them Lord for not only singing about you- but truly living like you live in them. Thank you for Abby and her precious spirit- I see you in her. Thank you for their friendship and thank you for their hearts towards adoption. And Lord, please bless those who too sing at the top of their lungs in the car to their songs for it brings us just a little closer to you.


image signature

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wearing your cross

Have you noticed that the cross has become to many nothing more than a fashion statement? Look around you, you will see crosses on purses...
Crosses on necklaces


And crosses on shirts...


And while there is nothing wrong with these things, I often wonder if those wearing these crosses do so simply because they like the look or because the cross has a deep meaning in their lives?

I fear the latter.



Today, me and my girls and a friend of ours, spent the majority of the day sitting at a table we had set up at the local basketball game asking people for a $5.00 donation to send a beaning baby (along with a hug) to an orphan in Africa.

Watching Aleigha and Mya boldly approach people as they entered the gym made my heart swell with pride because it wasn't but a few short years ago that they themselves were orphans, waiting for a family of their own. Even today Mya will share how she remembers how "nice white ladies from American would come to the orphanage and play with the children and tell them about Jesus". She remembers that one lady brought her a pair of pink princess dress up shoes and how she had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. Those shoes and those ladies telling her about Jesus brought her joy at a time where she was hurting- and gave her hope like no others. Knowing this made what we were doing even more important.


As we sat watching the people approaching the door we began to play a game to waste time. We would look at the person and try to guess if they would say yes or no. As one woman came closer I noticed Mya perk up and then I heard her say "oh mama, I KNOW this lady will say yes- she knows Jesus- just look at her shirt! Do you see the cross on her shirt mama? She knows Jesus-she will help!"


As the woman opened the door the sweet smell of her perfume entered with her. Mya picked herself up as tall as she could, and with a smile the size of Texas on her face she walked up to the lady and in her innocent 7 year old voice asked if the lady would like to donate $5.00 to send a beanie baby to an orphan in Africa.

The woman in the t-shirt with the cross stopped, looked down at Mya, rolled her eyes, and then mumble no- and something about how she didn't have any money with her anyway.

Mya quickly stepped back, clearly disappointed by the woman's rude response.

I held out my arms to her and we gently reminded her once again that even though some people couldn't give and it felt like we weren't getting very far, God saw our hearts and that was all that really mattered...

And while I know this to be true, even at my age, when we witnessed that same lady with the cross on her t-shirt, the same one who rolled her eyes at my daughter and told her she had no money- later walked up to the concession stand and purchased her goodies... I couldn't help but feel physically sick.

I couldn't help but feel like I had been punched in the stomach.

And I couldn't help but to hurt knowing that once again the 'least of these' came last.


As the hours passed people came and went. Some gave, most did not.

Many ignored us completely, and many said "Not today".
Which made me begin to question when then?


When would they care? When would they quit ignoring and overlooking the least of these?

If not today- then when?

And what would it take to make them care?

And then I began to wonder how many times had I done the same thing in the past?

How many times had I said not today God- I am busy. I have other things to do, other things I am busy with.

No Lord.
Not today.

How many times had I worn my cross- yet not truly carried it?

How many times had I viewed the cross simply as a decoration and not as a way of life?

Lord, forgive me.


image signature

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Funds


Often one of the top reasons people do not adopt is the funds. Just thinking of the dollar signs involved in an adoption can make many stop dead in our tracks before they even try to raise them. But what I have found is that if you just take that first little step and say "Yes God"- He will work along side of you in the most amazing ways.

I have shared some of the stories along the way as we have journeyed through raising the money for the Pass It Forward Fund. Each time a donation comes in I can feel God there reminding me He is working, He cares and He is in control. Each dollar is a dollar closer to giving a child a chance. Each dollar shows there is a person who cares.

I have often heard people say "When it's God's will- it's God's bill- He will pay it." I believe that is so true. Not sure if it's God's will? Just pick your bible and read.... He will show you.



Today though I wanted to share a couple of idea's for fundraising. Whether you are raising money for a missions trip, for adoption expenses or something like the Pass It Forward fund- it can be fun when you grab a friend and get creative. :0) I especially love it when the work you put into it serves more than one purpose. I especially love it when it's a win/win situation for all. Kind of like the oldie but goodie fundraiser- a garage sale. Not only are you cleaning out and making some cash- but it also benefits others who are making a purchase at a bargain price. One mans trash is another mans treasure. :0)


One thing we are doing is with Valentines Day right around the corner it is the perfect time to do a Babysitting Night. We are hosting a baby sitting night at our church- a time for the parents to get a night out together and the kids will be provided excellent care, a meal (we are doing hot dogs, chips, etc) games and fun! We are doing this on Feb. 13th (Saturday) from 5-9 for children ages 3- 6th grade. We are charging $15 a child, $20 for 2 children and $25 for 3. I love this idea because it provides a way for couples to have a night out alone (because a good marriage is the best gift you can give your children) and because there is not a lot of cost put into the fundraiser. What a FUN way to bring in the funds you need for your cause.


Another thing we are doing is getting creative with what we have. At our house we had tons of beanie babies laying around still from the beanie baby crazy a few years back. They were still in really good shape and so cute-and I kept wondering what I could do with them. Then God gave me an idea. So, this Saturday we are setting up a table at the youth league basketball tournament at our school and not only raising awareness for orphan care, but we are going to spread a little love. We are doing a "Love for the Least" funding drive. For $5.00 you can send a beanie baby and a hug to an orphan in Africa. This allows those who cannot 'go' to Africa (or wherever it is that God is calling you to) but have a heard for orphans to play a part. We made up little cards that say "Love for the Least" have the shape of the earth on them and at the bottom we put Matthew 25:40 "Whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me." And oh can you image what a gift it will be to personally hand a child who has never owned a toy in their life a beanie baby and give them a big hug at the same time! If you don't have beanie babies laying around you could use McDonalds toys, make up little goodies bags or whatever you can think of that would be a blessing to orphans.
I know often times all it takes it that first step and getting the word out. Try it- you might just be surprised at what God can do with what He has already given you.

If any of you have any great ideas on raising fund please share them here. (By the way,your crockpot recipes have been such a huge blessing already-thank you so much!)
image signature

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just thought I would share some pictures from this past weekend when we visited Mattie and her family. We had the privilege of going to Mattie's house and sharing in the celebration of Mattie's 12th birthday. Once again I was so touched by this precious family, their hearts and they way the choose to do life. We had a great time at the party and at their beautiful home which they generously opened to my big old family. The kids had a blast and loved seeing a real ranch, riding their horse and even practiced their roping skills. Thank you so much Patterson family for being the way you are! We adore you all!

Mattie raised another $625 towards the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund (Abby's wish). Does this 12 year old girl make you want to jump and shout "Holy cow" or what???


















image signature

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dear Crockpot Mama's


Would you be ever so kind as to share your favorite crock pot recipes with me (and anyone else who happens upon this post)? I am in dire need of some new crockpot recipes (the simpler the better) so I have more time to hug and snuggle and stare at my beautiful children. I will be forever grateful!

I'll start:

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

2 lbs chicken breast
1 48 oz. jar of great Northern beans
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 8 oz. shredded Montery Jack cheese
1 8 0z. can chicken broth

Throw ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Crunch tortilla chips on top and serve.


image signature

Monday, January 18, 2010

We got the...

BEAT

(Thanks Patterson family for our new drums! We haven't stopped drumming yet)

And now for your viewing pleasure...

video

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gods gifts...



God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

image signature

Friday, January 8, 2010

The invitation



I received the most wonderful invitation today- it was to Mattie’s birthday party. You know 'Mattie with the amazing heart' Mattie? Anyway- I received an invitation to her birthday party and once again I was blown away by God. I don’t know why I am constantly blown away. I guess it’s just that I know that there is no way humanly possible that I can ever predict God.

And I love that.

Love that He always holds the ace.


Loves that He always has something better than anything I could ever have dream of myself.


Mattie is not having your typical 12 year old birthday party- because Mattie is wise beyond her years. Her birthday party is not about presents, balloons and a birthday cake. Instead she is inviting everyone she knows to come celebrate- life.

The life that God gives us.

The life that God gives us- so that we can give it back to Him.

No presents for Mattie. She requested nothing for herself. Only donations to go towards giving a child a chance at life.

And then I got to thinking about how in awe I am of God that I was invited to this celebration of life for a child I only met a couple of weeks ago. A child who I would have never even known existed had I not said yes to God- and had Mattie not of done the same thing.

And then I got to thinking even further about how every day we receive an invitation from God.
God invites us to celebrate the life He has given us. The life that He created for us- with a specific purpose.

Yet so often we are too busy to respond to His invitation.

Too often we have other plans- Our own.

I had no idea the day we said yes to God and started saving for our Ethiopian adoption that a single donor would step up and say Yes to God too.

I had no idea that Mattie Patterson even existed- or that her answer too would be yes.

I had no idea because God’s plans are always better than any we could ever imagine for ourselves.

There was just no way I could have guessed, no way I could have seen this coming. No way I could have planned any of this. Only God.

It's all God.

So, how about you?

Did you RSVP?
He is waiting… and all you have to do is say yes Lord.

It’s okay if you don’t have any gifts to bring.

It’s okay if you have nothing fancy to wear.

It’s okay if you are not prepared.
He's got all the preparations covered.

Just say yes. - and then enjoy the celebration of your life time.



image signature

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Heart Like Matties

From the moment the Pass It Forward Fund started God gave me a peace to trust in His perfect timing. I know that when we do something outside of ourselves- for Him- it always has the ripple effect and so I was excited to see what He was going to do. I admit that there were some days though where I would feel a sense of urgency to accomplish my goal. Days where I would become obsessed in trying to think of ways to raise the funds, putting it all on my shoulders. Then God would gently remind me that this was not at all about ME and accomplishing any goal I might have- but that it was all about Him and His glory.


He would remind me I needed to rest in knowing He was working and rest in knowing He was in control.


And so, I would wait and I would continue to pray.


These past couple months I have not talked a lot about the Pass It Forward Adoption fund because quite frankly, I didn't really have anything to share. Our family was still working and saving and praying- and trying to fill up our pickle jar here at home. Yet the money we were able to save wasn't adding up as quickly as I had hoped. And the spare time I had left to dedicate to working on the fund didn't seem to be enough. The holiday season was in full swing and we were adding blessing #8 to our family. There just didn't seem to be enough time in the day. And, while we had received a few donations (thank you so much to those of you who gave) the numbers on the chip in were not going up as quickly as I had hoped.


There were times where I wondered if we would ever be able to do it.


Times where I doubted what I had heard God say.

But once again- God would give me a complete peace and remind me that the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund means as much to him as it does to me. And I would remember that God cares about the orphans more than I can even understand.


And that is why God sent Mattie.


Through a path that only God could ordain He sent a beautiful 11 year old little girl with the smile that lights up the room into our lives.


This little girl didn't even know us-and yet God had placed a desire in her heart to make a difference in this world- and the courage to do it.


While I was busy praying asking God what He wanted me to do- He was already busy working through this amazing little girl.


And you know what blows me away most?


She listened- and she obeyed.


She could have chosen to spend her time on herself doing the things that many (most) 11 year old little girls do- and she didn't. She chose to give of herself and of her time to make someone else's life better.


Every day we are given the choice to make a difference in the life of someone else somehow. I wonder how many times we listen or how many times we just look the other way- hoping someone else will do it?


But not Mattie.


She didn't look the other way. She didn't place the responsibility in someone else hands. This little girl said Yes Lord, use me. She chose to do something. She chose to act. She chose to give of her time, her talents and her resources and do something for someone else that will be no benefit to herself.


Oh how I wish I could be more like this little girl.


The first Sunday of Advent Mattie's parents asked her and her siblings to pray about what their gift to Jesus would be this year. Mattie remembered her mom telling her about our story of the beans and rice challenge and knew we were who God was asking her to help. Over a series of weeks this little girl put her heart and soul into raising funds for the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund. Her goal was to earn $1,000- a steep goal for an 11 year old. Her awesome parents cheered her on even though they knew her goal was high. Mattie baked 27 pies and sold them. She babysat, went door to door asking for donations. She wrapped Christmas presents for donation and put cans at local businesses. Mattie also sent an email out to everyone who would normally give her a Christmas gift, including her parents and her grandparents, to request that she not receive ANY material gifts for Christmas. She just wanted to receive donations for the Pass It Forward Adoption fund. Her parents requested the same... as did their parents and sister and good family friend. They all requested donations to the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund be given in their honor instead of gifts. I am blown away.

On New Years Day I had the privilege of meeting Mattie and her incredible family. To blog about how amazing this little girl is doesn't even do her justice. The way she smiles, the way she talks, the way she acts REAPS Jesus.


I had no idea I could learn so much from an 11 year old little girl.

Once again I am changed.


Mattie handed me a check for $3,000 that day for the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund. $3,000 that this 11 year old little girl earned herself all because she decided she wanted to make a difference in someone else's life. All because of her love for Jesus.


As for me, I didn't just walk away that day with a check for the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund. I walked away knowing that the world is a better place because of people like Mattie Patterson who really CAN make a difference- and do.

Thank you Mattie (and family). I am blessed because of who you are.

If you'd like to meet Mattie and her amazing family you can check them out here: http://www.allarepreciousinhissight.blogspot.com/

Also, can I ask you a favor? Would you please say a prayer for them? Matties youngest sister, Chrissie, adopted from Serbia just 2 and a half months ago will be undergoing open heart surgery on the 19th of this month. Your prayers for complete healing are so appreciated. I have been so blown away and touched by each one of them. Their hearts are full of love for the Lord and even during this difficult time of uncertainy they are reaching out to others in such a mighty way.

(For those of you who are wondering- the total raised to date for the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund is now just shy of $10,000. Thank you all so much for all you have done! Go God!)


image signature

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The adventures of Potty training...

You never know what you are going to find...
Mr. Perfect in every way (Carson) decided that he was going to potty train himself. There was just no way he was not going to keep up with his big brother and do everything he does. It has been 'interesting' to say the least. Today he left me a surprise. :0) Oh how I love that little boy. I feel so loved and I feel so "protected". They say little boys are protective over their Mommy's- I had no idea to what extent.

image signature

Friday, January 1, 2010

Waste


There are so many things we can waste in our lives….

We can waste food

Waste time

Waste opportunities

Waste money

Waste resources

Wasted relationships

WASTED...

But the biggest loss is when we waste our lives.

Live today like the gift that it is.

Don’t waste a single second of it.


You have a whole new year in front of you to live big for God. I don’t care who you are, where you have been or what you have done- God wants to use your life if you are willing to let him.

Really let Him.


There is nothing He cannot overcome. Nothing He cannot change. If you are truly willing to let Him.

It's a waste spending your life
Being selfish,
Being greedy,
Being hateful,
Being unkind
Being scared
Being worried
Being bitter

Let them go... choose to be useful to God.

So today begins a New Year. Make it happy. Make it good. Let Him have your life today. I promise it won’t be a ‘waste’ of your time.


If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV)


image signature