2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Africa?

After many conversations with God about adoption, I still had no clue of where to adopt from.  There are so many options.  After doing research, I learned that there are nearly 163 million orphans world wide!  Can you believe that?  So many children who cry out for a mom and dad.  Proverbs 19:22 says, "What a man desires is unfailing love."  We are hungry for love that we can count on. 

Why wouldn't we reach out to a child in the United States?  There are plenty of orphans in the United States that need a loving family. We wouldn't have to travel.  The cost could be less.  But I kept thinking, we have a system here that takes care of those who need help. We have a foster care system. As an American, I am so blessed to live in a place that cares for the those who cannot care for themselves.  I serve my local community and have seen the needs first hand.  I have experienced American poverty and know the joy of God meeting my needs.  I am so grateful that God worked thru my neighbors, family and friends when I needed that support. 

I read more.  I read about the many orphans in China, India and Africa.  I read about mission trips to support orphanages and learned that some of the trips purpose was to simply hold and care for orphans.  This just blows my mind!  Then I saw this video and my world was changed. 

I could not wrap my mind around the fact that human beings live at the trash dump to survive.  Their friends, family and neighbors cannot help because they are in the same bleak situation. I believe that this is where God wants us to go because of the degree of need in Ethiopia. I know that God has a good plan for each of our lives.  Part of His plan for our life is to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia.  We have requested a boy between the ages of 5 and 11. 

So why the Blog name, "Running to Africa"?    I love running. Please understand that I have not always enjoyed running.  In fact, in high school I did whatever I could do to get out of running.  I may have even made up some story that I had sports induced asthma to get out of running.  It was not until I was in my late twenties that I realized I needed some physical outlet.  Some crazy friends introduced me to running.  It still took some getting used to.  Then my world came crashing down.  I faced a huge family transition with my husband's return after a long military deployment.  I received a promotion at work which turned out to be high stress.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed in this new role.  Then, I was involved with a big "falling out" with some very close friends.  My heart was broken.  I lost my will to carry on.  I wanted to end my life. 

I thank God that He surrounded me with loving friends and family.  I am grateful that I knew the signs of depression and what to do to get help.  That does not mean that the road traveled was easy. It was dirty and difficult.  But God brought me through it.  He brought healing and restoration.  The best treasure He gave me in bondage was running.  I signed up for a half marathon with a dear friend.  Running brought healing and joy.  It is a big stress reliever and I have the added bonus of making so many good friends who share the passion of running.  So, how can I use running to glorify God?

What if I use running to raise money, awareness and support for Africa?  What a great idea!?  I thought that it might be a neat idea to run as many miles as it is from Utah to Ethiopia.  The closest measurement I can find is 8,190 miles.  Wow!  Okay, that is a lot of miles.  I am not putting anything close to 8,000 miles in a year, or even two years.  But, I know some other people who love running.  Maybe I could even include some biking miles, right?  I am currently dreaming about how to put it all together.  I can't wait to see how it works out.

On the other hand, there is the spiritual aspect.  For years I have dug my feet in and disobeyed God's direction for adoption.  Now I trust God.  Now I am running to Africa and adoption. 

While I run I dream about our son to be.  What he is like.  Who is friends are.  I pray for him.  I pray for God to keep him safe.  I pray that he will know that he is loved.  I pray that God will prepare me and Brad to be parents to two children.  I pray that God will prepare Tyler to have a brother.  I pray that God will prepare us all to be a family. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Why can't you be normal?"

One night at the dinner table Brad asked, "Why can't you be normal?"  Good question.  My husband is full of good questions. 

Adoption has been on my heart full time for the last three years.  I knew it was a seed planted by God because there was nothing inside of me that longed to adopt a child. As a girl, I never dreamed about how many kids I would have. The only thing I knew I wanted was to meet "Prince Charming."  Well, God answered that dream by giving me Brad - cheesy, right?  I know, but it is true.  I thought all my dreams would come true if I could only have "Mr. Right" in my life. 

Through life's journey, I have learned that God is the only one who can meet all my needs, not Mr. Right. or anything else for that matter.  If I don't seek Him, my life will not be filled with the joy that he has in store for me.  I tend to overlook this fact, I get busy and put quiet time to the side.  Sure, I pray and read the Bible, unfortunately, I get into the habit of doing it to "check the box".  I don't take the time to apply his direction to my life. It does not take long for me to realize that something is missing, like I am just going thru the motions. So, I cry out to God for help, again.  I admit that I can't do it without him and that I need him.  He begins to speak to me and show me where my sin is.  It is uncomfortable, but worth it.  I read verses that tell me that if I love God, I will obey him.  I begin to study the book of James.  James 1:25 "The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." The "doing it" part is key here. 

He reminds me that I am adopted into his family because of the work of his son - Jesus.  He reminds me that he wants me to adopt.  Wait, what? 

I believe that God works thru the things and people around us.  I started hearing about adoption on the radio and on tv.  I was moved to see the millions of children who don't have a parent making sure they are safe, loved, fed, dressed, warm, etc.  3 years went by.  More orphan stories came to my attention and God began prompting me to adopt.  I immediately came back with many excuses, I mean reasons why we were not meant to adopt:
  • We only have a two bedroom house
  • We have debt
  • There is no way we can afford adoption, have you seen how expensive it is? 
  • I am comfortable with one child and he is at an age where he can take care of himself
  • I love my job and don't want to stop working - how do I manage another child with a great career?
  • I would not even know where to start, or this is too hard
  • What if I don't bond with the child?
  • This is way out of my comfort zone. (I am a control freak)

The best "reason" we could not adopt was that Brad said, "No."  I could not start this journey with out my husband on board.  So, I decisively put the idea on the shelf. 

When I came back to sitting at God's feet, he said, "Elisabeth, I did not give you a spirit of timidity, but of love and power."  I was scared to bring up the topic with Brad.  I should just wait for God to change his mind without my help.  That was not what God had in mind.  Through prayer and time in God's word, he helped me approach Brad again.  I told him the adoption plans that God had placed on my heart.  Brad was not interested.  I told him that I needed him to pray about it.  He reluctantly agreed. 

This brings us back to our conversation at the dinner table.  My response to being normal was , "Normal is not good enough."  I am tired of just going thru the motions.  I want to continue to look intently in God's word and apply it to my life. I have asked the difficult questions:
  • Are you doing this because everyone else at church is doing it? 
  • Are you doing this because you recently lost a baby?
  • Are you doing this because you only have one child and he is growing up so fast? 
  • Are you doing this to seek the approval of others?
  • Are you doing this to fill the "gap" in your life?
I could confidently answer "no" to all these questions.  Jeremiah 29:11-14a says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity."  I know with out a doubt that God loves the orphans and he wants me to love them too.  I am confident that he will provide the resources that we need and that he will never leave our side on this journey. I thank God that Brad did seek God's guidance and direction and that Brad said "yes".