Wednesday, May 26, 2010
What are you going to be doing?
Where will you live?
I get a lot of questions about the choices we are making. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of answers. I understand peoples concern and I have some serious concerns myself. I just don't have all the answers. I am ok with that most of the time. You see, our life has been a whole lot of crazy. So moving to Africa, although a different kind of crazy, is just another thing that we are doing.
So far we are ok...
We love God.
Our marriage is intact.
Our kids love Jesus and each other most of the time.
We are healthy.
Is there more than that?
Sorry, back to the point of this blog post.
We are leaving July the 13th for Washington. Our amazing friends are letting us crash at their house for about a week so we can see the sites and enjoy their company. They are graciously having a fundraiser and making us a care package...thank you Tamara! Then on the 2oth we will leave for Uganda. Upon arrival we will be most likely staying in a hotel until we find a more permanent residence in the capital city of Kampala. Our fist couple of months will be spent visiting several people and their organizations seeing how we can help or if we can see ourselves working with them more permanently. We will also be learning the language and culture of our new home. We want to make sure that our kids are ok before committing to anything long term. So if you give us money for orphans we will be giving it to people who are already established and know where it should go. We will be spending a good deal of time getting to know people and seeing what their needs are. Jeremy and I are not the answer to their problems. We are just parents who love children and are willing to serve and share Jesus however we can.
So really that's it.
We have no mission statement other than "Here I am send me" (Isaiah 6:8)
and no real vision other than "Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for ME". (Matthew 25:4)
We are fully dependent on the Lord for everything. And He has provided already. We have the cost of living covered and the airfare covered. So far in some miraculous ways God has provided for our passports, our shots, and our travel expenses. Trust me, with a family of nine these things are all a big deal!
So we are continuing to trust God for:
a safe place to live once we get there,
a church to attend
a water purification system
the sale of our cars and other belongings
I know that Jeremy and I have the same heart in all of this. We want to live a life dependent on God. We want to see miracles and lives restored. So I will close this blog post with a favorite passage. You should read the whole thing if you never have...
7 "Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
That's a little harder than it seems.
I want to live this way. One of my biggest desires is to live in community with others. Real community like the way it was done in the early church. Sharing, trading, giving, really looking out for others. Can I just say I have not done a good job of it...
I don't know if it is a poverty mindset or if it is sheer selfishness but I have a hard time parting with my stuff! It is embarrassing really! I am ashamed at how selfish I have been hoarding up junk like one of those people on TLC.
I am very worried about how I will behave in Africa. Will I share what I have or keep my stuff locked up? Will I freak out having so little or be really freed up by it. My sweet husband is the opposite. He is worried about feeding our kids healthy meals while there are so many literally starving. Not me! I am high maintenance. I require some things like a bed and a toilet. And at least two pairs of shoes!
I have been thinking a lot about this as we have been going through our stuff preparing to move. I have cried a lot. Mourned a lot. Grieved the end of this season...a lot!
Here is what I have come up with.
I'm not there(Acts 4:32) yet.
I'm better than I used to be.
I'm trying to live like everything I have really does belong to the Lord.
Without further ado:
You are invited to an Open House
@ The Howard Residence
Saturday, May 22 10-3
If you need it or someone you know needs it you can have it.
If you want to pay for it or make a donation we will have a jar by the door.
All the money we receive will go towards furnishing our hut, I mean apartment, in Africa and a vehicle for ministry.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I do not want to move across the world and leave my son behind.
I do not want to sell everything I own.
I do not want to leave my family and friends.
I do not want to expose my children to malaria and other horrible diseases for which there is no cure.
I don't want to eat rice and beans every meal.
I don't want to pee or poop outside on a regular basis.
I don't want to live without air conditioning.
I defiantly don't want to home school SIX children.
I don't like the idea of no target or costco.
I am grieving the loss of a comfortable life. I am sad. I cried all through church today because I don't want to have a new pastor. I don't want to make new friends.
I love my house. I love my neighbors. I love my kids school. I love that my mail is delivered to my mailbox even though it is usually just bills. I love talking to my mom on my cell phone and knowing she is just a few exits down the freeway. I am sad. I don't know how to condense a lifetime of things to 18 suitcases.
Luke 18:18-25 (New International Version)
The Rich Ruler
18A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'[a]"
21"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
This is why I am doing what I am doing. It is a response to the great love that God has shown me. I trust Him. In recovery we do a Victory List. It is supposed to help us in the bad times when we feel alone and hopeless. My Victory List is long. God has saved me over and over again. He has restored relationships that I thought were over for good. He has blessed my family with health and financial security. He has given me more than I could list in this blog. And today I am willing to give it all back to Him.
I don't want to go away sad like the rich young ruler.
I don't want to live with an ounce of regret.
I don't want to get to the end of my life with anything left over.
But it still sucks.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Some days are harder than others. This would be one of those hard days. We need your prayers. Mostly for wisdom, discernment, and clarity. I will spare you the details for now...BUT I really want to throw a screaming fit like my daughter does so well. The crazy kind where she balls her fists and screams, "DON'T WANT TO!"
Even though I don't want to. I will.
I will do whatever it takes to honor God. Even if it means Be Still, which is kinda hard for me.
Thanks for the prayers.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Mother's Day is my second favorite holiday to my birthday. It is so great to be catered to and loved on. It is also a time for traditions. My favorite Mother's Day tradition is fairly new but so special. It is a weekend away with my oldest and dearest friend...Love you Jen! After my night off and room service the next morning I came home to my precious family. We had a wonderful morning at church and a delicious lunch of hot chicken fingers and pizza then watched a movie.
Looking back I see now how choosing the Blindside might have been a bad choice. If you don't know it is the story of a young man who is adopted into a family and how his life and the family's life is changed dramatically. So now you are probably asking why that would be a bad choice for a Mother's Day movie...Well because I am very passionate. I probably will have to take something to be able to fall asleep because I am soooooooooooo mad right now. I will call it RIGHTEOUS ANGER. How many people have watched that movie and been so touched by it that they went out and became foster parents, or adopted an orphaned child? Odds are not very many.
147 million Orphans
147 MILLION Orphans
And that doesn't include children who are wards of the state.
I go through these emotions often. It happens when I think of what my adopted children have given me.I became a foster parent to help kids, but my kids have helped me...so much more than I ever could have imagined.
There are literally MILLIONS of kids just like:
Big Mike (Micheal Oher)
Just waiting for you. YOU! They need a compassionate, committed, loving family. Just like yours. And you know what? You need them! You need them to learn more about compassion, commitment, and love.
That is what my kids have taught me. That is what my bio kids have learned even more about.
We have witnessed miracles. Very real and very profound miracles all because we chose to trust God and walk through the process of fostering children.
James 1:27 (New Living Translation)
27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I suppose I should explain a little bit of how we got where we are….
It is super hard for me to keep it short but here goes. I met my gorgeous husband in high school. I would love to tell you we were high school sweet hearts that never kissed or dated anyone else but that is not how it happened. Jeremy and I sang in the choir together and although we did like each other our lives where very separate. Jeremy was very smart and motivated and I was very cute and social. Our circles of friends were very different and while I ditched school and smoked pot Jeremy graduated with honors and a 4.3 GPA. I was having fun and keeping my options open and Jeremy graduated from text books to diaper changing. Yes, it’s true. Jeremy had a baby without me when he was 18 years old. It was quite a shock but ended up being a wonderful part of God’s plan for our lives. Matthew was born to his teenage parents in 1994 and I went off to college the following year.
I am so grateful our story doesn’t end there.
When I came back from a year of dropping out of college I started dating all of my old boyfriends again. What can I say, I am very loyal…Jeremy was getting ready to graduate from college and we had several starts and stops to our relationship. On November 29th, 1997 we were married and our life together became official. Jeremy likes to refer to the next four years of our married life as “the dark times”. It was surprisingly difficult for me to become a step mother at 19 then a mother at 20, 21, and 23. Luckily Jeremy had his education and was a practicing CPA so we could feed all of these children.
While on the outside it looked like we had it all together a beautiful family, our very own home, two cars and even a dog, our life was not so happy. We had much success but we really wanted significance. We were Christians and attended church regularly heck, Jeremy even taught Sunday school, so why weren’t we happy?
We had both brought some baggage into our marriage. Some things that were hidden but God wanted to heal us. We are so grateful that He met us where we were and loved us through a really hard time in our marriage. We decided we wanted to change our lives dramatically and serve the Lord full time. Jeremy enrolled in Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and we began the very humbling journey into full time ministry. Little did we know it would take four years, three jobs, and nine months of living with friends before we would see our dream become a reality.
Those years were a different kind of hard than “the dark times”. God used that time in our life to teach us firsthand about His timing, His provision, and His grace. After all of those years of struggle and hope and healing we found ourselves living our dream. Jeremy was hired to be the youth pastor of our home church. We could not have asked for a better place to serve God.
Our kids were growing up and I found myself a bit lost. What was I going to be when I grew up….I was a bit surprised to figure out that I was doing it. My calling in life is to be a mother, but with my baby fast approaching kindergarten how would I fill my days? I didn’t have to ask that question for very long. After a series of events in our family, and a dear friend sharing her story, I became aware of the need in our city for foster parents. I had been asking God for years why I couldn’t just get paid to be the mom and here was my answer. Over the course of ten months our family went from four children to seven. Sheesh! That deserves its own story but I will keep it short and tell you that our God is a God of restoration and still very much in the miracle business! Our adoption was finalized just this past November and it was an amazing end to our amazing story.
Just when we were finally settling down from all of the crazy that we had been living God began to stir our hearts again. There is this passage of scripture that I have read many times. But suddenly it began to haunt me. It is the parable of the rich young ruler…Jesus tells the man he needs to sell everything he has to be a follower of Christ. Jeremy had been leading a bible study in our home for his youth leaders and it was very convicting. We were trying to teach these kids about discipleship and God was using it to teach us. It became more and more clear to us that God wasn’t asking us to just be willing to sell everything we have but that HE was really asking us to LITERALLY sell everything we have to follow Him.
And that brings us to where we are right now. However uncertain we are of our future we are for certain that we can and will trust God with our lives. Everything we have and everything we are belongs to Him. We cannot choose to share in only the joy and none of the suffering of Christ.
Isaiah 6:8 (New Living Translation)
8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”