Monday, December 28, 2009

Gifts from God...Privilege or Obligation?

Sometimes during the message at church, I catch something and then my mind starts racing on that one topic and then I feel like I am scrambling to catch up on everything I missed throughout my conscious rambling! I feel like I am so extremely uneducated on a lot of topics and there is so much growth ahead of me. I think that the difference now is that I want so badly to learn as much as I do the studying myself and to read a plethora of material in my journey and yearning to become closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is embarrassing for me, it is a major hit to my pride to publicly admit these weaknesses and faults that I have carried my entire life.

Yesterday's message at church was mind-boggling to me. PM used the scripture, 1 Samuel 14 - when Jonathan (son of Saul) attacks the Philistines. Jonathan is not a passive waiter during this story, instead he practices proactive waiting. Waiting for what? That is the question my ignorance led me to ask myself...then of course PM's message answers that question, and I actually caught the answer instead of allowing my mind to ramble on and on about how silly I felt about not being more aware of what the scripture says. But, as we have learned in a previous message, my goal of wanting to learn more about the bible is not to acquire more bible knowledge, but to acquire more GOD!! (Thanks, PM for sharing that message on Dec. 20th!) (More on how I plan to solve that problem a little later!)

Waiting for what? Many times in my life and especially here lately, I've heard and said..."I can't wait to see what happens...where God is going to lead me and my family." or "I am going to wait and when I see the sign...then I will know what it is that I am supposed to do!"

Now, I have said this to several of my close friends and really anyone who is willing to listen...I have never really understood what to "listen" for when people have said to follow what God is telling me. I just kept thinking, that I wonder why God isn't talking to me, but he is talking to everyone else. The problem wasn't that God wasn't trying to lead me or telling me what he wanted for my life, the problem was that I was much more interested in what I wanted for my life. I wasn't open to hearing God because it has always been about I I I I I...and this is true, even though my parents are amazing God loving Christians. I was raised in the church, my family was there pretty much every Sunday morning, night and Wednesday night. Even though I was given more opportunity than millions of people in the world, I still didn't open my eyes to truly understand, appreciate, and know God.

Okay, back to this week's message: First of all, my homework this week is to read, read, and re-read 1 Corinthians 12. I am ashamed of the fact that I am not familiar with that chapter...or many other chapters for that matter. Here is a question that I ask myself - What is my gift that God has given me to use in service towards others? Am I living up to the potential that God has given me? How am I going to be a servant to others? (My previous posts in the past week have been all leading up to this...I just didn't know it yet!) I need to LIVE LIFE on GOD'S TERMS...NOT on MY TERMS.

Another lesson learned - I need to keep pushing forward - I am tired of sitting back "to see what happens" - I am ready to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!

In addition, we shouldn't live our life on the "sidelines" or live vicariously through others. I should be active, live my life for God, take actions and do God's work!

As I am looking at these lessons learned, I think about the thoughts, emotions, and motivations that I have been praying over and turning over and over in my all seems to go right together. I keep saying that I can't do anything about my desire or this pull toward wanting to be involved in missions and adoption. I keep thinking that I can't act on this right now, but DOWN THE ROAD...or IN THE FUTURE...or THIS SUMMER, etc...I will make a difference. I now resent that mentality that I have had...I have learned that God wants me to serve these children in our world by reaching out, teaching them, loving them, showing them God's love and devotion. I DON'T HAVE to wait, there are things that I can do here each and every single day towards this effort and area of need. This will be something that I will be searching for avenues to utilize to include my efforts!

So now that I have had this epiphany, what am I going to do about it? Well as cliche as it is...I am going to set some New Year's Resolutions! BUT...more importantly I am going to make these resolutions a habit, something that becomes a part of my life EVERY SINGLE DAY.

1. I am going to extend my daily prayer time with God by double. How can I expect to become closer to my Lord without dedicating a significant amount of time towards our relationship?

2. I am going to commit to reading and studying God's word each and every day. It may not be an entire chapter, but I want to read and study something from the bible until I understand what it truly means! Some ways that I plan to do this is by making the scripture something that I see on more of a regular basis (with post-it notes, index cards, or perhaps pictures made by my boys after discussing a bible lesson, etc.).

3. I also want to get involved in a women's bible study as soon as they get started again at church! I have actually learned a lot from reading some very inspirational blogs written by women who have extremely amazing faith in our Lord!

4. GET INVOLVED - research and discover ways that I can reach out to the children across the can I help from here on an EVERYDAY basis? Plan for this summer: missions - as soon as possible! (I used our finances as an excuse or an explanation as to why I wouldn't be able to participate in missions for a long time...but through prayer and dedication, God will help me to find a way).

5. Show my children and my husband each and every day God's love through my actions and words.

Finally, I have always been hesitant in setting goals such as these publicly, primarily because my failure would be known by many people whom I admire! However, by putting my self out on a limb, showing my insecurities, faults, and weaknesses I am asking for your prayer, support, and to help hold me accountable! Please know how difficult it is for me to make myself vulnerable in this way, but I am feeling drawn to share these things with many and to ask for help. (Help has also been something that is very hard to reach out for!) Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts! I will try to keep my blog updated with my progress...I know that as I continue to open myself up to my Lord that the changes that will take place will be evident without a need for explanation!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

As I was browsing through various blogs today, I found this video on my friend Laura's blog! It surprised and amazed me! I thought I would share...thanks for visiting!

The Christmas Holiday

As amazing and wonderful as Christmas always has been for our family, this year was no different. However, the major difference this year is that I have had my head in other places. I have mentioned numerous times to friends and family that I feel like I have been living my life in a TUNNEL. I have been aware but also extremely oblivious to the lives of God's children all over the world. As I am proudly watching the joy and excitement in my boys' eyes as they are experiencing the traditions of Christmas morning and unwrapping all their gifts...I am wondering to myself how many children across the world are not celebrating the birth of Christ. There are so many children across the world who have never received a gift on Christmas day or who have never heard the TRUE reason why we celebrate Christmas.

I can't help but think that God has been directly telling me that he has bigger plans for our family and I have a lot to do to prepare myself for our future. I don't think that we will be making any life-changing decisions in the near future. However, the weight of the emotions and thoughts that I have been having leads me to believe that I can start working towards supporting various families in missions and children who need love and care.

There are so many areas that I can help in from here, I just need some direction and guidance for delivery. When these thoughts first came to me back in September, and then multiplied by thousands on Dec. 19th, I thought that God was opening my heart only toward adoption. I believe that adoption is something that God is opening our hearts to and that it will come to us in the future. (As sad as it is, financially there are so many restraints that keep many families from opening their hearts and home to adoption. For our family, we are no different than everyone else! However, we are striving to overcome this obstacle so that we will be in a position to adopt in the next few years. Though the thing about life with God is that His plan may be completely different than ours! I am anxiously waiting to see what door He opens next for our family!)

In addition to adoption, I am feeling pulled towards the world of missions. This started when having a conversation with Laura from church! Alex and Laura are moving their family (4 beautiful children) to Honduras in the late Spring. I can't wait to learn more about their mission work and the plans that they have for their work and for their family! In addition to Laura's story, I have found numerous blogs of families who have committed their lives to missions world-wide. I would love to devote my time to gathering donations and supplies, and to spend time in prayer for these families who are making such a huge difference to people who would have never heard thee word of God if it weren't for them. I wonder where God is going to lead our family in the years to come!

Now, even as my head was swarming with all of the thoughts and wonders...we did have a very blessed Christmas! We are so lucky to provide for our children and to be close enough to all of our family so that we can enjoy their wonderful company during the holidays! Christmas is exhausting but only because of all the family we go to see and the meals we get to eat, and the gifts that we are fortunate enough to share and receive from our family and friends. This is all a wonderful problem to have, I just wish that we could make sure that we all remember the WHY in the day! It is easy to forget the WHY when you are running from house to house!!!

Thank you to all of our family for the amazing gifts and love that you have extended to us this year. We pray that everyone has a fantastic New Year! I will soon be posting our family resolutions...we will be sitting down and setting some goals as a family that we are going to try and work towards in 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The World Is Our Classroom: A Hungry Child Has No Ears to Hear

A friend of mine from church posted this today, and it is right along the lines of everything that I have been thinking about, praying about, and dreaming about. Are you willing to stand up and take action to make changes?

The World Is Our Classroom: A Hungry Child Has No Ears to Hear

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aaron Gebre Pratt - changing lives

December 19, 2009 - My brother in law, Aaron, and his wife, Whitney, came home from a journey to Ethiopia, Africa with their new son, Aaron Gebre Mekele Pratt. Mekele (this is what we are calling him) turned 7 months old on Sunday, December 20th! I would have never imagined how life changing this experience for them would be for me.

They began their adoption process at the end of December 2008. The adoption agency they went through is called All God's Children and this process has changed their lives forever.

I fell in love with their baby this past September when they received pictures of their beautiful baby boy that they had been matched with. It was at this point that the realization of God's miraculous hands were at work in the lives of these 3 individuals. The months following this initial phone call, Brian and I were fortunate enough to see the amazing growth and development in Aaron and Whitney as they prepared themselves, their home and their lives for their precious new addition.

Even though at that time I was aware of the significance of this experience, it was not until we were at the airport greeting Aaron, Whitney, and Mekele home that I realized that as I was watching and listening to everything they were going through in the past year, what was happening in me...God was constantly planting seeds in my heart. I will never forget the EXACT moment that I grasped what God was doing in me through watching them.

Now, Aaron has always been a caring individual, and I know he has passion for various things in his life, but I have NEVER known Aaron in this capacity. A father with unconditional love for his new son. The amazing work that God has done in Aaron's heart has moved me more than I could have ever thought! As I was witnessing this moment, I realized that there are so many more things in this world that are so much bigger than anything I had allowed myself to see or think about. I thought about the fact that I want so badly to reach out to the children in this world, God's children and to do whatever I can to make a difference in their lives. I have such a strong desire to share God's word! I know this is a bit confusing, but I truly believe that after having seen everything that it took for Aaron and Whitney to expand their family and the exhausting journey they travelled, and then to see this moment and to try and grasp the entire magnitude of everything combined from the last year, everything about this was God's work and it has effected many people.

Aaron and Whitney were also extremely generous in sharing their video footage that they took in Ethiopia! On Saturday afternoon, I was only able to watch a little bit of the video, enough to see all the many children at the orhpanage who were not being taken home to their permanent homes that day. There was more video to see, including the conversation that Aaron and Whitney were able to have with Mekele's birth mother. But, before that part of the video came on, I had to leave to go get Mason from the children's church singing practice and Christmas party.

Aaron, Gebre, and Me (THE VERY PROUD NEW AUNT!!)

The entire welcoming committee!!! Everyone is so very proud and extremely excited for Gebre's long-awaited arrival!

Aaron, Whitney, Gebre, Brian, Mason, and ME!!

So I went back to church and as Mason was playing with his friends from church during the children's Christmas party, I found myself in a very thoughtful, enlightening, emotional, and eye-opening conversation with an amazing woman. She is someone whom I admire a great deal and who lives her life for Christ each and every day. Laura and her family have adopted two beautiful boys from here in the United States and they have been called to serve God by working with orphanages internationally. Through our conversation, various thoughts and emotions that I had been experiencing the past couple of months, and throughout this past weekend starting falling into place. I feel that I have finally opened my heart and my mind to listen to what God is telling me, and to accept what possibilities there are to serve Christ and to share Him with others, especially children. There are still many ideas and thoughts swarming through my head. There are many more aspects to consider, to learn about, to study, and to pray about.

However, one thing that I am absolutely positive about...God is calling me to do bigger and go farther in His name. I can't wait to follow this path that he is leading me down and to see what He has in store for our future.

Me and my SWEET SWEET SWEET new nephew!! Aaron and Whitney are great parents and this precious boy is so amazing! The Lord is AMAZING!