For When You’re Asked To Put Your Child In The River

“Hello, Jessica? This is *Beth*. Um, bad news. I know we really expected a different outcome, but, well….. I am going to have to take Sophia this coming Friday. She will be staying at the rehab facility with her biological mother while she learns how to be a mom. I’ll need you to pack up all of her things and…….”

Her voice trailed off in my head as I pulled the car over and sat sobbing on the side of the road. Somehow I had finished the conversation and hung up, but I couldn’t tell you a word I said. All I know is that I could physically feel my heart breaking. I couldn’t breathe. It felt like the weight of the whole world was sitting on my chest. My world was spinning out of control. I could feel our little girl slipping out of my grasp.  And nothing would ever be the same.

That next week, I gave her extra kisses. I rehearsed all of our story together. I told her how I fell in love with her the minute I saw her in the hospital. How hard I prayed as she lay in that incubator and one time stopped breathing and all the nurses rushed in. I let her know how much I enjoyed feeding her and watching her overcome the milestones of getting over five pounds and breathing without oxygen tubes. How we brought her home. How she became a daddy’s girl. How cute her laugh is. How her hiccups sound like squeaks. How she loved when I danced around the room with her. How that we don’t share blood, but she was our daughter and nothing could change that. That our six months with her were the best of our lives.  And how she had our hearts forever. Yet, the whole time I could hear the rush of the river in the background….

I spent extra time telling her how much Jesus loves her. How the devil tried to get rid of her before she even opened her eyes in this world, but God saved her. How she has a purpose. Her life is part of Gods plan. How He sees her. How nothing can ever take her from His hand. That’s how I built her little ark. Made, not of bulrushes like Moses’ was, But of the promises of God. Not held together with pitch, but with the glue of His unfailing mercies and steadfast love. 

All too quickly, the day came. We had to place our child in the river. The river that had brought heartache to so many others, and now we had to purposely ~ by Gods design ~  actually place our beloved Sophia in it…. and let go.

We came to the river’s brink and its rushing rapids seemed to whisper to me all the dangers its murky waters could bring. Neglect. Abuse. Sickness. Loneliness. Even death. How was I supposed to put that tiny ark in there? It didn’t stand a chance! 

But we took a page from Jochebed and by faith, we put Sophia in the river. By faith we are hoping she will be a Moses ~ drawn out and used to glorify God. We have been through enough to know that we can trust the Ark. And whether that river pushes that little boat carrying Sophia back to us, or takes her to a Pharoahs daughter, or floats her to somewhere unknown to us, we can know that that ark follows the winds of God and she can never go where He is not. 

Maybe you are where I was a few weeks ago. You know a river of letting go is coming. You hear it in the distance. Maybe not of letting go physically, but of letting go of the control you had over your little one’s world. It could be a river of cancer. Or of autism. Or of divorce. Or of custody. So many different kinds. All just as scary. 

Or perhaps you’re kneeling now, with your knees sinking in the river bed. Your heart pounding while your fingers dig into the basket holding your child. You just cant. You beg God to let you jump in the river in your child’s place. You look into those innocent eyes and you sob your apologies. You don’t understand why God is asking you to do this to this tiny soul that trusts you. Much like Abraham felt looking at Issac, you assume. But God provided a lamb. A lamb….

Then, Through tearful eyes you look down through the ages and see a cross. And behind that cross you see a Father who made the ultimate sacrifice. And if He was willing to give up His ONLY Son for us, can we not completely trust Him with our children? Knowing that whatever river He sends us to is for the ultimate and whole good. 

It doesn’t make it easy. I sit here today holding our daughters blanket wet with my tears. All of my hope is in the One I pray to. And that those prayers are keeping that little ark afloat wherever it may be. I wish this could be a blog telling you I have figured out WHY things like this happen. But I don’t think I will ever know that. Most of us won’t know until heaven the meaning of our rivers. 

I guess this is more about the WHO then the why. And I have figured out that if He has brought you with your child to the river, that He knows exactly how you feel. There is a bond there that no one can break. He never questions my tears. He doesn’t get angry at my grief. His heart is touched by it and it moves Him with compassion. And when God moves, things happen. Good things. 

I’ve also realized that His grace reaches even this kind of hurt. The crashing of the rivers waters may mock our faith, but amazingly it is overcome by the gentle whisper of His grace as it rains down on us. And it makes us look up as it hits our faces and we see Him. His perspective. We only see the point of letting go. That place of loss. He sees the whole river. The big picture. And grace will keep us until we can see it, too. 

Also, He has shown me that He can take those waters, once so scary, and He can calm them. And He leads me down to those still, quiet waters and in that place of hurt, He restores my very soul. God is the very opposite of how we think. He is more interested in making us better than comfortable. We can best fellowship with Him through sufferings. It’s not about getting answers, it’s about finding The Answer. And There, at the point of my deepest pain, I find Him ~ a reason to live again. The strength to make it through the darkest night. The hope for tomorrow. 

So don’t run away from your river. His presence will bring calm. His voice stillness. The winds and seas obey Him. Then, so also do the rivers. Your child is traveling down a body of water that is directed and under the very command of God. Stay and seek Him and let that exact same voice calm your heart. 

It is a very sobering thing to be asked to be a part of this group. But times past tell us that when God does make that call, and we follow our faith, amazing, life altering, history making events happen. But for the world to have Moseses, there must also be Jochebeds standing at a river bank ~ tears trailing down their cheeks. 

Love,

Jessica

  
 * I Already have a running list of my foster mommy friends knowing that they are too often called on to take a child they love and made part of their home and family and place them in the river. I’d love to add any of you that may be in this same place. If you’d like me to pray for you (and your sweet child!!!!) please email (jessmartin601@gmail.com) me. Prayer makes all the difference. Not because it takes our rivers away, but because it moves the hands of the One Who made the rivers. 

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Because Everyone Needs A Champion ~ Why We Foster

We walked into the hushed courtroom hand in hand. My stomach started doing flip flops as we were pointed to our seats near the back. 

My eyes took in all the people in the room ~ the judge, the lawyers for the parents, the mediator for the parents, the caseworkers… Everyone except the one person whose future they were deciding. She wasn’t allowed in. She would never have a part in these proceedings. Her life hung in the balance, yet, her voice would never be heard. Strangers would choose her destiny. 

The judge pushed a huge stack of papers aside then asked “we are here concerning…” And his voice trailed off as he looked through thousands of papers. My heart broke. They couldn’t even remember her name. Her welfare depended on people so overworked that she had become just another paper in a pile.

Sophia! I wanted to yell out. You’re here about Sophia! She just turned six weeks old yesterday. She smiles when she hears my husbands voice. She is already trying to hold her head up and roll herself all over the place. She likes music ~ especially the Disney lullabies when she lays down for a nap. But when she is awake, she really likes it when I play MercyMe and I dance around with her in my arms to “Greater” or “Flawless”. She sometimes gets scared easily from loud or unexpected noises. She has a sensitive tummy that makes it to where she will only fall asleep on one of our chests doing the “frog” with her legs all tucked up by her stomach. She feels safe in her bassinet being rocked while we talk and she follows our voices with her eyes. She is sweet. She is a person. She has dreams. She has hopes. She has a purpose. The only thing she doesn’t have right now is a voice….

My husband elbowed me out of my thoughts. The judge was addressing us. “Mrs. Martin,” he was saying, “as her foster mom is there anything you would like to say to the court on her behalf?” 

That’s when it hit me. WE were her voice. We see her. I mean really see her ~ not just a list of facts about her on a paper. We had heard her little self struggle for breath the first day the hospital had taken her off of oxygen. We didn’t sleep for days just watching her chest rise and fall. We watched her fight to live. And now it was our turn to fight for her. 

There is another courtroom. One where all of our fates are decided. The Judge there will be so righteous and holy that we won’t even be able to look at Him much less say anything. There will be an accuser there who will sift through papers trying to remember who we are since he could care less. He will spit out disdain and hate as he reads a list of all of our flaws, mistakes, and  sins. And in silence, we will watch hope fade as our destiny in hell is about to be sealed. 

But then, the Judge asks if we have an Advocate. And from the back of the room comes a Voice. “That’s not her name,” he says. “This is Jessica. We are here about Jessica. I see her every day. She likes to write and read books. She smiles every time she sees a rose. I always know she is going to be happiest when it’s Fall and she is wrapped in a blanket with hot cocoa and a pumpkin candle. She loves her dog and teaching her drama class. She struggles with fear and with getting over hurts, but even though all the accuser said is true, that’s not her. She is Jessica. And she is Mine.”

And my Advocate, my Voice, my Champion goes on to tell how at 8 years old, He became all of those things for me when I asked Him into my heart. And from that moment on, I never had to fight another battle alone. I never had to worry about strangers deciding my outcome. I didn’t have to earn a single bit of forgiveness or love. My Champion gave it all to me unconditionally. And for always. 

There are so many kids who need a champion. Yes, they need Jesus, but how can they know our eternal Advocate if they have no one fighting for them here on earth? They can’t fight alone. They need a hero!

  
I am so thankful we get this opportunity to fight for an innocent child. It’s hard. The words “fight” and “battle” say it all. Being a champion is costly. It cost Jesus everything. But it won Him the right to be our Voice ~ our Advocate. And how grateful I am that He ran straight into the depths of hell to win my soul back. How can I not do the same for children caught in a living hell? One that they could possibly escape… If they only had a champion. 

Being a foster mom has given me a much deeper insight on all God has done for me. I am amazed daily at the heighth, depth, breadth of His love. I hope you know how much He loves you. He is your Hero, too! He sees you and knows everything about you ~ what makes you smile, what your laugh sounds like, your favorite things, your saddest memory, your deepest fears. You aren’t just a name on His Lambs Book of Life list. You are His. You were worth fighting for. You were worth dying for. And you’re worth living for. He ever lives to advocate for you. To stick up for you. To be on your side. To take up your cause. He’s got your back! He is holding your hand. You’re not alone. 

And no matter how dark the day, remember we are on the winning side ~ thanks to our all time, undisputed, undefeated Champion of Love. 

~ Jessica

  

“Who Will Judge The Fatherless?” ~ Why We Chose To Foster

I know all of my dear friends have been following our journey as we raised money to go though a private adoption. We did fundraisers and saved every penny. Many of you prayed us through when we thought we were getting twins and then the birth mother just disappeared. We wondered what God was doing. Then came the idea to become foster parents…. and with it a multitude of misconceptions. Let me share {and dispel} them now:

1.) You have absolutely no say in who they put in your home. ~ This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each family has the choice to accept each time they call you with a child that needs a home or a placement as they call it. You always have a say. As part of the licensing process, they will actually ask if you have preferences on gender, race, and age. They will only call you with a child that meets your specifications if you choose to have any. They give you a voice. It’s up to you if you use it. 

2.) The government will be in charge of your whole life if you foster. ~ As if they aren’t already, right? 😉 And I kid, I kid. The government will have a role if you choose to foster. There is a vetting process and, in the interest of complete honesty, it can be very personal, cumbersome {paperwork!!!}, and intrusive. No more so, I would say then if you went through a private adoption. They conduct background checks. They interview you multiple times in which there are personal questions. They require classes. You must be CPR certified. You have to have a physical done. They will check your home and make sure it has what they deem appropriate for child care {they provide you with a list}. But, the government pays for every class and every background check except your local one (which God paid for us! 🙂 ). You will only have to let go of a little bit of your privacy {which with social media and the Internet seems to be less and less of anyone’s concern nowadays} and will have to lose a little of your pride as you are evaluated and judged. But, a humbling never hurt anyone, right? 🙂 it was very good for me! They will come into your home and check on the child every month. They will tell you when the child has to be at court dates. They will tell you if the child needs to spend time with their birth families. But, other than that, they leave the rest of your life alone. 

3.) On the flip side: The government won’t help you if you need it. Now, every social worker is different. Personalities come in all shapes and sizes. But, on the whole, we have been treated like we were a blessing. There is such a gigantic need, that they are thrilled to have people be foster families! They WILL do what they can to help you. Once you get a placement, you actually get monetary monthly help from the government. But I know, I have heard the horror stories. We had our own moments of the trying of our patience down to the very last little bit, but in the big picture, we were helped and guided through every step. Asking God to give you grace in the eyes of your case workers is the biggest prayer you will have if you choose to go through this as they will have the power to steer your journey. It would be nice if we could all sail through smoothly. But, I’ve realized the choppy waters have made me all the more thankful for my Anchor ~ my Solid Rock. ❤

We chose to be in the Foster To Adopt Program which means they will try to place with us children that have a higher probability of being adoptable. Birth parents do have the right to try to get the children that have been taken from them back, but they have to follow every court mandate given to them. They have about nine months to a year to comply. If they do not, their rights will be terminated. Then the child is adoptable. Once their rights have been terminated, we as the Foster family have first choice to adopt. We have chosen to only take babies ~ or if there is a sibling group, we will take them both only if they are under the age of three. That was our choice. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are thousands of children who need a home. Who need to be adopted. Who need a safe place. Who want to be hugged when they come home from school every day. Who want one night without crying themselves to sleep. Who want to hear the words “I love you” without it being followed up later with screaming, hitting, cursing, being burned with cigarettes, given alcohol in their bottles, or drugged with NyQuil to “shut them up for a minute”. Some just need a temporary home until out of town family can take them. Some just need to see what a real family can be like. There are many ways to help these children. The ones the Bible refers to as the fatherless. 

When we were first approached with the idea to foster, I wanted nothing to do with it. I couldn’t even bear the thought of having a child in our home, starting to love it, and have it taken away. I insisted on a private adoption even if it took us years to raise the multiplied thousands of dollars it would take. Now that I look back, I can’t believe my selfishness. As I have sat through our Foster classes and heard the stories of what these children have to deal with on a daily basis, I was actually disgusted with myself that I was holding back my love from them simply because I was afraid of being hurt. Sure, it was ok for these children to be emotionally and physically abused every single day as long as I wasn’t going to get a broken heart! As long as I didn’t have to see it or deal with it! As long as my heart wasn’t going to get used up and “wasted”! I’m appalled at what my attitude was. It is the exact opposite of what Christ did. He literally sacrificed Himself just to give me the chance at being a part of His family. His heart was broken for millions who will never return His love. His love was used up and what we would call “wasted” on those who mock Him and hate the very sound of His name. Yet, He loves anyway. He still reaches out for them just to have His hand slapped back. He is the perfect picture of unselfish and sacrificial love.

 And I will gladly take His outpouring love. I will soak up as much as I can! I ask Him to show me every day even though Calvary was enough to say I Love You for forever! I live each day on His mercy. I take every breath only by His sweet grace. Yet, I remain His spoiled selfish child. Content to be loved no matter how much it hurts Him. Refusing to love if it will even remotely hurt me. Until one day when I was reading Isaiah chapter one….

God was angry. Really, seriously angry. And He was angry with His children. His kids. He was tired of their sacrifices. He even told them He would not hear their prayers! There was sin among them. Their hearts weren’t right no matter how good they tried to look on the outside. So, He told them to wash themselves ~ to clean up their act, basically. To stop doing evil. Then He told them to learn to do well. And how could they do that? “seek judgment {wisdom, morality,}, relieve the oppressed {those burdened}, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” 

I think I had forgotten the basics of my faith. I really love singing in our huge church choir, but I didn’t want to lighten the burden of the homeless. I will throw my tithe in the offering plate, but won’t buy groceries for the family whose parents lost their jobs. I will put the fatherless children on my bus on Sunday, but don’t want them in my home Monday through Friday. I will tell the widow I’m praying for her, but I won’t clean her house for her. I’ll sit through a church service, but won’t let the Word of judgement, wisdom, and righteousness have any place in my daily routine. I’ll share the gospel with strangers on Saturday, but I won’t live like I am bought with a price and that Jesus is truly alive while I’m at home with my family every other day. 

God really broke me. I looked up all of the times He mentioned the fatherless in the Bible {which is a lot, by the way}. I studied and studied. Then, after much prayer and counsel and my awesome husband telling me he thought we should Foster out of nowhere one day <sign from God!>, we started on the Foster journey. And as hard as it’s been at times, I’ve never felt like I’ve understood the heart of God more. I’m actually excited to love a child even if just for a moment. Even if it’s never understood or accepted. Even if I never hear “I love you, too,mommy!” Or “you’re the best mommy ever”. Because it’s not about that anymore. Adoption is no longer the means to that end. It’s not about me becoming a mom. It’s about judging the fatherless. Being that moral compass that’s so lacking for them. That constant fixed point of love always pointing to the Father that will never leave them. Never let them down. It’s about having that wisdom to know that showing them unconditional love for as long as you can is more important than not loving at all until you are guaranteed you can “keep” them. It’s about wanting them to look back one day, whether they spent 18 years with us or 18 days, and say “they loved me like Jesus loves me. And Jesus loves me. This I KNOW.” 

If you’re thinking about fostering or adopting and need someone to talk to, PLEASE email me {jessmartin601@gmail.com }!!!!!!! Even if you have your own children, think about becoming a respite (temporary) home family. But especially if God has chosen for you to not be able have children ~ methinks God needed judges. Judges for the fatherless. So He chose YOU. Like I truly feel ~ with all my heart believe~ He chose us. 🙂 Don’t let fear stop you. Believe me, I understand the fear. I understand the ache of empty arms and the fear of having that hurt happen to you over and over if they take away “your” baby. I understand the fear of hurtful comments. The fear of people not understanding or judging. The fear of never feeling like you have your “own” kids or being told “too bad you couldn’t have “real” or “your own” kids”. The fear is genuine. It’s frightening. And it can be a paralyzing fear. But, the only thing that casts out fear is perfect love. And perfect doesn’t mean happy, white picket fence love. It means love like the Perfect One has. Mature Love. Love that has grown up and realized that the only love that makes a difference is painful, sacrificial, and completely selfless love. 

It’s not an easy road. There was a cross at the end of Jesus’. But with that cross He paid to adopt us all. And so now there is a heaven ~ a home with Him ~ that awaits us when we get to lay our crosses down. ❤

~ Jessica  

  **this is our story. How God worked in my stubborn heart to do something I didn’t want to do. I am in no way saying fostering is better than any type of adoption. Adoption is our goal and good in any and every form. 🙂 I’m just hoping God uses my story to encourage those who maybe shut down the idea to foster like I did for so long. I just wanted them to know that it IS doable, it IS an option, it IS worth it! Contact me with any questions!! 🙂 

My Grown Up Birthday Wish

Birthdays. When did they become something to dread? When did I become worried about the calories in my piece of cake instead of that I had to share my cake? At what age did everyone become too busy to stop no matter what day of the week it was and celebrate with you? Which birthday signified the drastic drop in the number of presents, actually dwindling down to a couple of cards? 😉

I really couldn’t tell you exactly. But one birthday I remember with out a doubt is the one where I started hearing my biological clock ticking. It was my 28th. I had been married 5 years and still no children. That day it hit me that I was really close to 30 and had no future glint of hope on the horizon. It was the first of my sad birthdays. I cried…. The whole day. I thought of all of the 17 and 18 year old “kids” having kids, and that made me skip the birthday cake all together and just feast on the ENTIRE gallon of ice cream. Don’t get me wrong. I have a beautiful life, blessed by a wonderful God. I enjoy every day! But sometimes when your life isn’t where you dreamed it would be, birthdays can be a haunting, restless reminder of that.

The years kept passing as hard as I tried to slow them down. I dragged my heels into every July 18th. Then came my 31st. I was still getting over my miscarriage I had had right before our car accident. 3 years were gone and the only possibility, the only hope we had, had died… literally. Then there was 32. We had stopped treatments and trying and were focused on adoption. But it seemed that door after door kept closing ~ at this rate we wouldn’t be able to have a child until my 37th!!!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Today I turn 33. Ten years. Still childless. I woke up almost expecting the sadness. And it is there. But, this year, there is a peace. The frantic “you’re-getting-older-and-running-out-of-time” pressure is gone. There is acceptance. There is grace. And a tiny bit of excitement….

I really feel God is at the precipice of doing something amazing in my life. Whether it is finally using this year to bring us the child He created for us and our situation, or perhaps the knowing with a surety that He has other plans than motherhood for me…..and I will be ok with His sovereign choice. And just typing those words for me is a huge step. Massive, actually.

When I was younger I insisted on getting my way. You know, kinda like you used to write out that birthday “wish” list, and all the while your parents knew if they didn’t get you everything on that list you’d throw an epic tantrum? There were times that, If something I wanted wasn’t going to happen “naturally” or in the course of human events, then I would MAKE it happen… Come hell or high water. Unfortunately, it was usually hell. I don’t know how many times God has had to show me that even though I may have the right intention and wish, method and timing matter just as much. And His way and His time never seemed to match mine. So, I would bull doze ahead and tell Him to follow me.

But as the years have passed, it has started to sink in that He is ever working and always with my best interest at heart. The last few months, I have even stopped asking Him for children. Every time I feel the loss or am frustrated with waiting, I surrender my will and wants to Him. I’ve come to experience that you actually get more out of surrendering and rejoicing than you do through begging and pleading. And it only took 33 birthdays to learn! 😉

All that to say, I have one birthday wish for this, my first grown up birthday ~ where I’ve lost some of my childish selfishness and am embracing contentment. Could you take the time that you would take to wish me a happy birthday to pray for me? Instead of typing an email or FB post, pray that God would do a miracle in my life and my heart, would you? Pray that this is the year for all of Gods behind the scenes work to come to light. And pray for the grace for me to face whatever it may be. And could a faithful few keep this on your running prayer list? Selfish, I know. But it would be beyond appreciated. I would be eternally indebted.

That is all I want for my birthday. His presence. His manifestation of working in me. His grace. His love. His will. Yes, we are still trying to adopt! 🙂 No, I am not asking for birthday donations. God knows how much I don’t like doing that ~ especially as I see my friends bombarded by other couples and blogs and good causes. I would rather you all support them. Give to charities. Support missionaries. Help others! And I say that sincerely and with all of my heart.

I am looking forward to this year like I haven’t in a loooooong time. 🙂 Perhaps this time next year, I will be posting pictures of our child! But come what may, I only want to journey it with Him.

Only this time, instead of trying to drag Him along, I’ll just let Him carry me.

Love you all!

Jess

PS. If you pray for me, let me know, along with a prayer request of your own. I’d love to pray for you, too!

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When Saying “I love you” Isn’t Enough

Don’t get me wrong. Words are powerful. God, Himself, says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. But have you ever had one of those moments when your words seemed to fall short? Your “I’m praying for you” sounded hollow? Your “I love you!” didn’t fill up the emptiness? The “You’re gonna make it” or “this too shall pass” seem shallow?

Me, too. And, yes. There are those times when there is nothing you could say OR do to assuage someone’s grief or loss. But, how many times are there things we can do, but we settle for spouting off platitudes or saying a quick prayer? It eases our conscience, but really does nothing to help.

I am the guiltiest of all. I have known of times I could’ve reached out or met a need, but it was so much easier to type a “prayers!” message. It was easier to fit a “thinking of you” email into my schedule than actually helping someone out. We are all busy, and it seems there are SO many needs. But, our first purpose is being there for each other. God’s word talks more about loving the brethren, dwelling together in unity, lifting each other up, praying for each other, bearing one another’s burdens, than He does pretty much anything else, yet it is what we give the least amount of time, energy, and purpose. We forget that we are family. We are blood through Christ. And while we are apart from the Father He left us here to watch out for each other. Help each other. Encourage each other. Bear burdens. Love unconditionally ~ even when it’s inconvenient.

It was with these thoughts swirling in my head that I began looking through our leftover things from our garage sale. We had begun planning to do another in early August since God blessed the first one so much. As I was resorting all of the kids things and kitchen things, I began to wonder why they didn’t sell. Everyone told me those things sold first. Then my friend, Estela’s face swam before my eyes. This past week, her family (husband and children) had lost everything in a fire. Everything. And here I sat with things she needed in my basement.

I fought with the Holy Spirit for a bit. I mean, people had donated this stuff for our garage sale. And we still needed lots of money in order to adopt. I mean, weren’t there people closer to her that could help? But, finally He broke my selfishness and I determined to get a box ready for Minnesota right away.

I hope those of you that donated for us don’t mind. But I can honestly tell you that I believe with my whole heart God didn’t have those things sell just for Estela. Not for me. Who else would have this many kids things and home things just sitting around at just the time Estela lost them all?!? This is how God takes cares of us ~ through our brothers and sisters. With each other we should feel the most safe, the most loved, and the most accepted. I am so glad God wouldn’t let me leave it at a Facebook message. I am so thankful He will ~ in some small way ~ allow us to be His hands. 🙂 I pray Estela and Jose and their children will now FEEL His love instead of just hearing it.

I will be sending a box to the Rodriguez family soon. If anyone would like to add things, I’ll gladly take them. They lost everything. Only made it out with the clothes on their backs. Or perhaps you could give to defer the cost of shipping. If so, please let me know. If not, please pray for them as they start over. ❤

Words are good. Pray all the time! For every one. Every need. Every hurting heart. Send a card. Say that compliment. Type out that message. Sometimes that is the only part God has for you in that situation. And that's ok. 🙂 But, when you can…. Go the extra mile. Pay the cost. Make the sacrifice. Give your time.

I am grateful God said "I so love the world." Those words soothe my soul. But I am eternally alive and saved forever because He GAVE His Son. He loves us not only in word, but in deed.

And He asks us to do the same. Be a friend in DEED.

Indeed! 🙂

Love,

Jess

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(Jose and Estela’s house during the fire)

When God Showed Up ~ Our Yard Sale

It’s over!!! That might sound horrible when talking about our first adoption fundraiser, but… I. Am. Exhausted. Two days of setting up, tearing down, sitting in the sun, organizing and reorganizing tables of stuff really takes it out of ya! So, let me apologize if this post doesn’t make the most sense. My tired brain is a little fuzzy, but I wanted to update our faithful friends.

I have no paid days off of work, so we could only afford for me to take one day off. That’s why we had our sale Friday & Saturday. I know most people do it differently, and give advice or steps on how to fund raise ~ that is not my forté. This is just me telling our story. 🙂

20140614-200459-72299932.jpg Day 1 went better than I expected! We sold all of our bigger ticket items quickly, but there was still a steady stream of people. Thanks to ladies in our Spanish department, I was well prepared and had help on Friday. Also, my friend Brittany baked 3 dozen… Yes, she works a full time job and made THREE DOZEN cookies to give to those who donated at our garage sale. Then she sat with me, talked, made sales, and helped clean up. She can do it all folks! I was so thankful for her being there. At the end of the day we had made $350.

20140614-200619-72379557.jpg Then came day 2. I was a little worried because we were going into it with no bigger ticket items. Thankfully, Bro. and Mrs. Francis decided to give us some furniture and household items for our day 2. That was awesome! We decided to sell most on Criagslist, but a few we put out and I can honestly tell you, they drew people in. It was all God. My mom was there ALL day and we fried in the sun together. Good company always makes it more enjoyable, right? And I could hang out with my mom all the time! We closed up and were finished with clean up at about 5 PM and I literally fell into the sofa. Never to stand again 😉

I really felt the prayers from literally around the world. I just knew God was there. Almost the end of Day 1, the most beautiful butterfly landed right on the table in front of me next to my hand and stayed there for awhile. All of us girls were “ooo-ing” and “ah-ing” over it, but in my heart I said “I see you, Jesus, and I love you too.” Day 2, He loved on me in words. Strangers telling me God was doing this for me, He loves me, and His grace will see me through. He showed up. No, I couldn’t see His face, but I could see His smile through their words. Until heaven, I won’t hear His voice but I could hear His whispered love in the whir of the butterfly’s wings. I can’t touch His hands, but I can touch each coin, every dollar given to us and know His hands our holding us, guiding us, leading us through this journey.

Please pray for all of those we gave a tract to, and witnessed to, and befriended that they will come to church and that we will use this opportunity to be good examples of Christ’s love. I again want to thank every person for every single donation. This wouldn’t have been possible without you all. Thanks, Anne, for making our donation jar (and starting it off with some change!) Thanks to all the few of our local friends that went the extra mile and came by and saw us at our sale. I will never forget that. It was beyond encouraging! 🙂 I will never be able to say thanks enough to those who helped, gave, made signs, worked, baked, supported, prayed. Maybe we could name our baby after you all….. That would be one looooong and interesting name 😉 I am giggling now thinking of some of the combo possibilities, but maybe I will just stick to praying that God blesses in a way where you will know its because you selflessly gave.

20140614-200849-72529178.jpg After all is said and done, we are going to be able to make a deposit of $692.16 in our adoption fund! This does not include donations being sold on Craigslist. If we include that, it will be a $900 earning :). Plus, we are sending some to the Murillo’s and their orphanage in Mexico. Our hearts are full and we feel tremendously blessed. And tired. So, now we will eat some Subway and watch the World Cup. And not MOVE again! Until tomorrow…. 😉

I am taking away good memories of this weekend and can’t wait to tell our child all about it one day. But my favorite part was that of all the people that came by, HE showed up. ❤

Love,

Jess

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A Beautiful Disaster

IMG_3844My house is a mess! I mean like ¨a tazmanian devil had a fight with bags of random items causing them to fly everywhere¨mess. I have piles of clothes tucked in every corner of the house. I have plastic bins of Christmas ornaments, children´s books, and puzzle games stacked as high as my ceiling. Junior and I have both tripped over boxes lined up across the floor. It´s a complete and utter disaster. And I have never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life. 🙂

All these things are I love you´s from God. Donations from friends. How can the piles of stuff frustrate us when they are the reason we will be able to adopt? How can we growl in irritation having to move things out of the way when one day our baby will sit on the floor those things are now covering? How could we ever be embarrassed of the mess that will help put us together as a family? We can´t. It´s impossible. In fact, as I sorted and schlepped boxes, I smiled and sang. This is the best disaster I have ever had to clean! IMG_3129

God has really been showing me today that He feels the same way about me. There have been so many times in my life that I have come to Him a broken, helpless mess. I hand Him shattered pieces of my heart and soul. And over and over He molds me and makes me. He painstakingly fits each piece together with the eye of the Master and with the heart of a Father.

A couple of times,the really dark and sad times, I have entered His presence with only ashes left. Everything I had been was desecrated. Destroyed. Dead. Ugly. Burnt. Worthless. Hopeless. Until He leaned down, scooped up the ashes of my life and breathed on them His breath of life. Hope. Unfailing Love. Redemption. And out of the ashes, beauty rises. A beautifully restored mess. His favorite disaster. The one He will be cleaning up until I get to heaven.

Oh, how I can hear Him hum and sing as He works on me! I can hear Him chuckle as I resist the refining. I see the warmth in His eyes as my life begins to take shape again. I notice His intensity at accomplishing His vision. I get choked up as I feel Him dream for me, believe in me, pull for me. Tears stream down my face as I tell Him not to bother with me ~ I will only mess it up again! His fingers brush away my tears, then put them like diamonds in His bottle. And He works and reworks. Creates and recreates. And all He does is good. Pure. Sweet…. Beautiful. And He won´t give up. He NEVER throws the clay away!

I hope He is pleased with His workmanship on me today! I wouldn´t be where I am in my life today if He hadn´t of put me back together. I am not just saying that because it sounds good or makes for good writing. I had come to a point where I didn´t think happy was possible. Peace was a myth. Joy… a joke. But He just kept glueing my heart back together with His love. His grace filled in all the cracks. And now I know that He has me right where I am supposed to be to best know Him and show how wonderful it can be to find beauty in the disaster. To find the miracles in the mess.

And you, my friends, are one of those miracles! Thank you for all of your support! If I can be VERY transparent, I was worried that no one would care about us anymore when we came back from the mission field. That we had somehow lost value. And, that has happened to a degree. We have received some ugly messages telling us we are not fit for the kingdom of God since we left the mission field. Hurtful emails, phone calls, and letters made me question my faith in Christianity. I withdrew and we both just tried to heal silently. We focused on God and each other, and I am so glad we did (for reasons I stated above! He makes the ugly, beautiful!!!). But when we made the choice to go ahead and start the adoption process, I really wanted to share it with those I knew had been praying for me for so long. I worried and fretted on how it would be received or if we had just been forgotten. Boy, did God show me how silly I was being!

Thank you to each person who have said our names in prayer. Thank you for each donation. For wanting to hear my stories. For listening to me rattle on about paperwork and home studies. For asking about it! For being excited about it! For all who have told me I will be a good mother. For simply caring. You have no idea what that´s done for me. You all have restored my faith in Christians. And thank you will never be enough.

The pictures above are actually of my house! 😉 So, please don´t drop by! As much as I think my mess is beautiful, I doubt anyone else would! But, pleeeease, if you are in our area next Friday and Saturday, stop by our sale! Even if you don´t buy, I would still love to see you! Let´s talk. Let me hear about you! Let me know what I can pray for for you! Allow me to love you back.

Please keep praying for this fundraiser ~ and share this with anyone you´d like. We have many things for sale and every penny will go for a good cause! If you didn´t catch my last post about that, it´s here: https://acceptedbelovedredeemed.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/pure-religion/

I told you this is where we would be updating & I am keeping my word! (Pause to give myself a high-five!) If any of my NWI friends read this, we still need a few things for the sale (hangers, plastic bins, a money box/bag…) message or email me if you think you have something for us to borrow ~ thanks! 🙂

And if you walk away from this with nothing else, take this:

You might think you´re a mess, but He´s still working on you.

You don´t know you´re beautiful, but He thinks you are!!!

Love,

Jess

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Me with the crib donated to us 🙂