Thursday, February 24, 2011

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Someone commented to me the other day about how strong my faith was when I was sharing with them about our going into full time missions.

And it took me off guard.

I guess that’s because I don’t always see myself as being that strong in my faith. I guess that is because I know my humanness. I know there are days that those wars inside of me are raging. Days where my flesh is stronger than my faith. Days when I question. Days when I can do nothing but fall to my knees and beg Jesus for His strength.

But it is there, on my knees, that I have grown without my even realizing it.

What the Lord has shown me is that too often we live in a ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ kind of world.

We are told that before we take that first step, before we invest-we have to have some sort of guarantee that there is something in it for us.

Before we step out in faith, before we say yes, before we move- we need a guarantee.

A guarantee that it’s safe.

A guarantee that it will be easy.

A guaranteed that it will all work out.

But there really is no such thing.

The only guarantee we will ever have in this world is in Him.

Only, even in that we get confused.

People often believe that if they are good Christians, show up at church, tithe, volunteer and read the bible that there will be some sort of guarantee in this life.

Yet that is not at all the case.

Because you see, regardless of our faith- there will still be sickness, greed, loss, war, injustice, disease, famine and sometimes- bad things just happen to good people.

Sometimes people step out in faith and adopt a child and it is not happily ever after.
Sometimes people get married and that spouse does not remain faithful.
Sometimes we bring a child into this world to only loose them in a tragic accident.
Sometimes a missionary goes out to reach the lost and it cost them their life.
Sometimes our friends doesn’t treat us like a friend at all.

And we are left with broken hearts, broken dreams, broken bank accounts and we wonder where God was in all of it.

But the truth is- God never once told us our lives would be easy. He never once told us we would always be happy or always feel satisfied.

What He told us was that when we went through the trials in this life He would always be there...
regardless of our circumstances.

Our willingness to act, to serve, to give -has nothing to do with a guarantee and everything to do with our love for him- and not ourselves.

No one can guarantee you if you adopt a child it will be a happily ever after story.

No one can guarantee you if you don’t it will be either.

No one can guarantee you happiness.

No one can guarantee you that tragedy, pain or sickness won’t come if you make all the right choices and do all the right things.

No one can guarantee you that there will even be a tomorrow.

But what I can tell you is that if you choose to live your life trying to stay safe, trying to cling to comfort, ease, and perfection- then you will never have truly lived.

And one thing I can guarantee you is that God didn’t give you this life so you could just exist.

Trust me, you and I are not here for our comfort, happiness and ease.

There is a world full of opportunities out there for you to serve...a world full of hurting people who need to know Him ... a world full of opportunities to make your life count.

One day when we stand in front of the Lord- He will ask us what we did with the life He has given us.

Did we believe He was worth the effort, worth the risk, worth the sacrifice?

Or did WE get in the way of truly living for Him?

So if you are waiting for some sort of 'satisfaction guaranteed' before you take that first step-before you step out onto the water...

Then you are missing the point.

Because one day, when you are sitting at the feet of Jesus, then and only then, will know complete satisfaction.

And that is a guarantee.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

One thing that has always been important to us is spending time together as a family. Whether it be our adoptions and now missions- we like for all of our children to know that they are a part. The hardest thing for me about going into full time missions is not the thought of moving to another country, learning Spanish, or raising the funds- it is leaving Travis and Keegan behind while they attend college. I adore my big boys and not having them go with us is breaking my heart. And yet I love how full of faith and supportive they are of our decision. I am thanking the Lord for Skype though that is for sure.

Addisyn and Kallan are especially eager to be a part of our work in Guatemala. To help them feel involved we are having them work on their Spanish, pray for the orphans and helping in our fund raising efforts. We were also blessed to hear about a sweet older gentlemen who teaches guitar lessons for only $7.00 a half hour. So, they are learning to play now in hopes of being able to help lead worship once we get there.

Over the weekend I talked Addisyn into letting me take some pictures of her with her guitar. (Kallan is going to take a bit more bribing because for some odd reason he does not consider having a photo shoot fun~and I cannot for the life of me understand why). So for now I will leave you with these. :)

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Going where He leads

A little over 5 years ago Todd and I stood outside Eagles Nest orphanage in Solola, Guatemala, looked each other in the eyes and said “one day we would love to come back and serve full time."

Now as you all know, a lot can happen in 5 years... time goes by, we change, we grow, the days pass by and life gets in the way.

But God.

Through a series of events over these past several weeks God has been working and redirecting our path back to a place where it all started. A place where God first revealed His plans... only at the time we didn’t realize how serious He was. He began to lead us back to the place where we first said, yes Lord, all those years ago. To a place where we are honored to one day soon call our new home.

For those of you who know me in real life- know how much I love Eagles Nest orphanage and the families who have put their hearts and souls into the lives they have touched through their ministry there. Larry and Claire Boggs have been serving in Guatemala since 1978- their hearts for the people in Guatemala and the work they have done is amazing. Their daughter Felis Patlan, her husband Pedro and their three beautiful children have returned to Guatemala to serve along side Felis’s parents. For years now we have called them our friends and now and we are thrilled to announce we have been given the privilege of being a part of their team. The Radford family also serves at Eagles Nest and we are thrilled to now have the opportunity to meet them.

There are so many reasons why I love Eagles Nest. I love the beauty, I love the fact that it is the place where I first met our daughter Mya, I love that they serve 60+ children each day there through the Manna feeding program, I love that they serve over 124 children a day there at the New Day Christian school and that there is a sports ministry as well. I love that there are apartments there for mission teams to stay when they come serve there. I love that is reeks Jesus- which is exactly what we longed for.

But most of all, I love that it is a safe haven for children like J and E.

I love that Eagles Nest is a place where these children have had the opportunity to grow and thrive and learn about the love of Jesus. Because you see, J and E are children just like yours and mine. They are precious to the Lord and they matter in this world. They have dreams and talents and now- because of Eagles Nest- they have hope.

J and E moved into Eagles Nest in June of 2010 as a court rescue situation. J and E had both been abused by their mother and step father. J was born tongue tied and is partially deaf. Their biological father died several years ago leaving them with a mother who loved alcohol and drugs more than her children. When J and E would misbehave, as all children do, as a form of punishment their mother and step father would leave them outside to sleep in the rain with no shelter. I cannot imagine what must have gone through their little heads. I cannot imagine how lost and alone they must have felt at that time in their lives.

And due to that kind of upbringing, when J and E first came to Eagles Nest orphanage they had many, many scars-they were hurting and they were afraid. They had become hardened to the world and those in it- as a form of survival. Their scars would, of course, effect their ability to have a healthy relationship with others and effect their ability to love. Yet over these past several months of living in the safety of Eagles Nest orphanage something inside of these precious children has started to change.

They found hope.

They are in a place where they know they are safe and they are experiencing the love of Jesus first hand. There is a light now in their eyes because they now realize they are precious to the Lord- and they have worth. For those of you who have heard the saying Jesus heals- J and E are the perfect example of this.

Yet for J her healing doesn’t stop at a spiritual level. Recently some of the missionaries at Eagles nest took J to have her tongue clipped. Through the ability to now move her tongue there is hope that J will be able to communicate easier and be able to grow and thrive.

Healing. Hope. Restoration.

Only God.

Todd and I are so thankful for the staff at Eagles Nest and we are overjoyed that we have been given the privilege of working alongside of them serving the children in Guatemala. We would love for you too to become invested in the lives of children like J and E. We would love to have you partner with us to help bring Jesus to the children in Guatemala. I heard a speaker once say “There is one thing worse than being lost… being lost and having no one look for you.” We are going so that we may look for them. We are going so that we may bring them hope. We are going so that they will know they are worth being found. We are going so that we may bring them Jesus. We are going because they matter.

"If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep becomes lost, then the man will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill. He will go to look for the lost sheep. Right? And if the man finds the lost sheep, the man is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 sheep that were never lost. I tell you the truth. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost." Matthew 18:12-14

If one lost soul is important to God, then one lost soul should be important to us too.

Many of you have asked if I will continue to blog when we are in Guatemala. Absolutely. I can not wait to show you all the ways the Lord is working in these children’s lives. I cannot wait to show you how much He cares- not only about working in their lives- but working in YOURS as well. There are so many ways for you to become involved- whether through sponsoring a child, going on a mission trip, sponsoring a missionary, advocating or prayer support. We would love for you to be a part of this journey with us. Our going isn’t just about our family- it’s about the body of Christ coming together and doing what He has called us all to do- some as goers and some as senders.

We would love to have you on the Eagles Nest team in whatever way the Lord leads you. Would you consider praying about how God might use you?

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

We've been busy working on our missions video to be able to share a little bit about what we are doing. Thought I'd share some of the footage that was taken of the kids because I think they are pretty awesome. :)

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Because they are worth it :)

More often than not the one thing that is holding a child back from being in a forever family is the cost.

And I really hate that.

But what I love is seeing family after family step out in faith and take that first step regardless of the cost. Regardless of the hard work. Regardless of how humbling it is to ask people for help.

Yet, despite how hard it is- what I love is how the Lord is able to use their fundraising experience to educate others along the way on adoption. And what I love is how lives are changed and touched through others being willing to do whatever it takes to bring a child home- because that child is worth it.

So to all you families out there who are walking the fund raising road- I get it and I applaud you. Thank you for not letting the cost stop you. Thank you for having the faith to believe. Thank you for knowing that your child is worth it. Thank you for saying yes- despite not knowing how. And thank you for doing whatever it takes.

To those of you who know someone who is in the process of raising funds for their adoption I dare you to come along side of them and help. Brainstorm with them, pray over them, be a voice for them when the load becomes too much to bare. You may just be surprised at how God will bless you in the process.

So to those of you who are fundraising for your adoption please feel free to leave your link in the comments so that others can find you- and pray for you, support you and cheer you on. After all, we are all in this together. :)

I'll go first:
Check out they are adopting from Taiwan and have an awesome auction going on!! SO SWEET!

And this precious family They are working hard to bring home a child from Africa- amazing people with amazing hearts!

Oh and this one- melts me! This big beautiful family is adopting a sibling group of FOUR from Ethiopia!! Let's support them in a big way for stepping out in faith and answer the call- times four!!

Another last I had to mention- sweet, sweet family They are doing all they can to raise the money to bring a child home. Let's help them out!!

Okay- now your turn- tell us who you are so we can pray for your family and cheer you on. Thanks for what you are doing- I know it isn't easy.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Faith like a child


Three thousand six hundred twenty dollars and 13 cents.


Say it with me out loud!!

That my friends is what YOU did through your sacrifice.

Because you cared-

together you...

Gave hope.
Dried the tears of a hungry child.
Brought change.
Made a difference.
Gave a child a chance.
Saved a life.
Showed them Jesus in action.
LIVED the word.

I cannot thank you enough for what you have done. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time, for making a sacrifice, for jumping on board and saying I will. This is what it's all about!!! This is why you and I are here- to be His hands and feet.

That $3,620.13 came from a long list of people who came together and made one HUGE difference.

The day we left the Adami Tulu preschool in Ethiopia I remember turning around looking back at the children as they waved good-bye. I can still hear my daughter Addisyns voice in my head saying "What are we going to do mom now that we know?" and I sat there and thought to myself- I have no idea. What could we possibly do- the problem seemed so big? We are a family of 11 and we have bills to pay and mouths to feed, we didn't have much extra to be able to help. But you know what? I am so thankful I didn't say those words out loud because I could have stopped her from believing. Addisyn had faith like a child. She didn't let doubts get in the way of moving forward. She knew better. She knew that she could do what she could do- share what God had given her each day- her lunch. I know she had no idea at the time how much God would bless her effort. I know she had no idea how- but she simply believed He would.

Addisyn has taught me so much about my faith. I just want to encourage you today that whatever it is that God has called you to- just take that first step forward. Offer up what you do have instead of worrying about what you are lacking. Our God is big and amazing and He will provide what we need- if we just have faith like a child.

As I sit here typing this I have tears flowing down my face because I am just so crazy proud of my daughter and I am so proud of the body of Christ. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the kind of people you are. Thank you for making this world a better place because YOU are in it.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

If you'd like to hear more about what one man is doing to help add more space onto the Adami Tulu preschool so more children will be able to attend check it out here and be blessed. :)
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Just to be a kid

I am a firm believer in letting kids have time to just be kids. I think that often times in our efforts to help our children 'be the best' in life we instead rob them of the precious little time they have to just be kids by filling up their days with too many lessons and too much electronic entertainment.
Growing up, most of my days were filled with just playing outside and using my imagination. We built forts, played in mud puddles and climbed trees. That is something you rarely see now a days and it really makes me sad. Being stuck inside these past few weeks due to the weather made me literally crave sunshine and I could tell my kids were feeling the same way. So today, we headed outside and I just sat back and watched them enjoy exploring the world and being kids. They climbed, ran, discovered and just enjoyed the simple things in life. It was beautiful. Thank you Lord for letting me be their mommy and thank you for the most incredible play ground in this world.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be Mine Forever

"I've fallen in love many times...
always with you."
~Author Unknown

To my Valentine,
I will never take for granted the privilege God has given me in being your wife. We have grown in so many ways together. I am so thankful we figured out along the way what really matters- Him at the center of our lives.
When I witness your love for our family, for the orphan, and most importantly for God-
I fall in love with you all over again.
What I have come to love about you the most is not just the way you love me-
but the way you show His love to others.
Because that, takes my breath away.
I love you.
Happy Valentines Day :)

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why would you want to?

As Todd and I have begun to share our calling into the mission field with others one question we have gotten over and over again is "why would you want to?"

That 'why would you want to' question is often followed by something like…

Why would you want to… risk your lives?
Why would you want to… leave the security of your job?
Why would you want to…. Leave America the country everyone else would love to live in?
Why would you want to… do that to your children?
Why would you want to... live on less?

And while I completely understand the emotions behind each of these questions- the truth is, I had to get to a point where I put my relationship with the Lord before all else... I believe God's word requires purposeful decisions- decisions that will shape our lives and how we live them.

So, why would we want to risk our lives?

The reality is, in my humanness I often attempt to cling to the things of this world and taking risks does scare me. However, what I truly desire is to live this life He has blessed us with- for Him. Sometimes I think we believe that we can somehow control what happens to us in life- and to a point we can. I can choose to move to Guatemala or choose to stay here- that is true. But what I cannot control is whether or not I am offered a tomorrow. I cannot tell you that if I move to Guatemala I get tomorrow and I cannot tell you if I stay in the United States I get tomorrow either. There are just no guarantees in this life- so I get to either choose to live for God with a purpose or choose to try to control my life- out of fear. What I have come to realize though is lack of trust in God always prevents us from receiving His best.

So why would we want to leave the security of a good job?

Our going into the mission field has nothing to do with our not desiring security. Trust me. It is not easy and it is tempting to stay put and continue on taking care of our own needs in a fashion that is comfortable. I won’t deny it- I like to be comfortable. We have a budget (thank you Dave Ramsey) and we take care of all of our needs and some of our wants. I like knowing that check will come monthly and that we will be able to pay for our needs. I like having that control. So, to walk away from that security isn’t easy. At all. And yet, what we do know is that our only true security in this world is Christ. I have no guarantees that tomorrow Todd’s job will be there. People get laid off, people get injured at work, or what if Todd didn’t make it home from work one day at all? These are some people’s realities- they have no control over those situations and neither do we. They are false securities and we recognize that now.

So why would we want to leave America- a country that everyone else is dying to live in?

Our going to Guatemala has nothing to do with us not loving America. Trust me, we know how truly blessed we are to live in such a great country. One cannot travel outside of America and return without noticing how truly blessed they are. Blessed by things that way too often (almost always) we take for granted. Clean water, paved roads, immunizations readily available (even for those who cannot afford them) excellent educations, opportunity and churches on every corner. And the truth is, I don’t want to leave all of that behind. But, my comfort is not more important than someone else’s chance to know about the Lord. I cannot imagine living life under difficult circumstances like polluted dirty water and sickness without the hope of Jesus-because while He is my only true security in this world- He is theirs also. No clean water, immunizations or paved roads can replace the gift of knowing Jesus. I simply cannot go on living and taking for granted all that I have without giving thought to those living without. And while yes there is a need for those in America to know Jesus as well- God has asked our family to go. Who am I to question an all knowing God when He told us to Go?

So,why would you want to do that to your children?

One day awhile back I was talking to my older children and I asked them what was the one thing I had taught them in life- and unanimously they said “that it isn’t about us." Now don’t get me wrong- raising your children to know 'it’s not all about them' does not mean that you don’t make them feel loved, special or cherished. My children know I would die for them in a heartbeat and that we are crazy about each and every one of them... yet we are more crazy and in love with our God. And because we love our children from the depths of ours soul, I DO want the very best for them in life- I want them to know Him. But not just know of Him- know Him in such a way that they desire to live their lives knowing it is 'all about Him'. And the only way our children are ever going to learn this is by our example. If we are not willing to put Him before all else- how will they learn to? We must teach our children how to think of others, how to see others needs and to have the desire to meet those needs before their own. We want our children to love serving others. We want our children to learn to love others- regardless of what's in it for them. We want our children to desire Him over popularity and over having stuff. We are teaching them that happiness is found in giving and not getting. We do desire for our children to have the best- and He is the best.

So, why would you want to go knowing you are going to have to live on less?

About 8 years ago God began working in our lives and opening our eyes to a lot of things that were at the time not easy to face. One huge eye opener for me was to realize how often I put my desire to have ‘things’ before anything else. I truly believed that if I had it all- I would be happy. I honestly believed that a big house would bring me happiness. (And can I just tell you that more square footage does not bring true happiness) I put the desire for things before my marriage, my children and before my God. I was living for ME. About ME. And to please ME. It was like this fight was going on inside of me to prove I was good enough. And I guess I figured that all the things that I owned would somehow prove that. So you know what? God let me have those things- as well as the bills that went along with them. :) Cause yah, he’s good like that. And what I realized was those things didn’t make me any happier and that those bills were sucking the life out of me- and my marriage. Yet the funniest thing happened in my pursuit of happiness... I stumbled upon joy- in Him. Joy is so much different than happiness. Happiness has everything to do with our circumstances- but Joy is from the Lord- and it cannot be taken from you... regardless of our circumstances. Joy comes from simply knowing the Lord and living your life full of purpose for Him. So we let go of the 'stuff'' and the stress that went with acquiring it and moved towards simply living out our faith.

The bible tells us our purpose in life is to have a relationship with Him and to tell others about Him- so that they too may know Him. Therefore, all of us are to be missionaries- some as senders and some as goers. Some right here where we are- and some in foreign countries. We get to decide whether or not we will answer His call. Even as I sit here writing this, I don’t have all of the answers and I don’t know how everything is going to fall into place. But what I do know is because of who He is and what He has already done for us- I can trust Him completely.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Because of you...

and because of your sacrifice,
these children will be blessed.

My heart is so full of gratitude to all of you who stepped forward and said "I will". Your being willing to sacrifice for your neighbor and give is such a beautiful thing. I cannot help but to think of how this must make the Lord smile.

The donations for the One Day- One Lunch project are continuing to come in at Lifesong... so we probably won't have a definite total for at least a week. Remember though even if you couldn't participate on February 3rd you can choose any day to skip a meal and give. :)

Thank you again for giving and for going without so that these children have a chance. This is what being a part of the body is all about- and it is awesome. :)

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Because Jesus...

ALL I have is yours...
even my lunch.

Remember to join us TOMORROW.

One day- One Lunch.
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