Sunday, October 28, 2012

Remember how I said I wanted to go back to Africa?

Ok, so some of you may remember the post I wrote when I decided to go to China this past Summer. {You can read that post here}. The point in summary was that I REALLY wanted to go back to Africa, but God just wouldn't open the doors. Now I know why........

God sent me to China this Summer, because he knew I would be going to AFRICA...this WINTER........wait what?!?!?! thoughts exactly. So here is what happened:

When I went to Chicago to run the Chicago Half Marathon on behalf of Project Hopeful my friend Tesney and I stayed with {and finally met face to face}our BFF Deb Steiner. She is seriously one of the most amazing women I know. She is a single mom {like me}, she has two kids {like me}, she is super duper smart and a big time lawyer {NOT like me} and she is my HEEEEEERRROOOOO.

Tesney, Deb and Jenny (aren't we cute?)

As a single mom, I KNOW how hard everyday stuff can be. So when Deb was talking to us about the adoption of her THIRD child, from Uganda {which is like a different continent}, and telling us that her parents couldn't go this time {which is a pretty big deal because she is bringing her two kids ages 5 and 6 with her} I knew I would want {need} help, so naturally Tesney and I did what any true and slightly crazy friends would do........... we volunteered to go with her!

Because sometimes just saying "Oh I would love to help!" or "I wish I could go" isn't enough. Sometimes you just have to DO.

Now let me be clear: when we said yes, we thought that this adoption/trip would be taking place in the Spring or Summer of 2013. Perfect. That will work out great for my mission trip for next year! But, as God continues to teach me, in spite of my extreme stubbornness, HIS PLANS are ALWAYS better than my plans. HIS WAYS are better than my ways. HIS TIMETABLE is better than mine. So as soon as she gets a court date, we will set HIS plan in motion!

Before i even had a chance to publish this post {that I wrote last night} the plans changed! Looks like Deb will be flying out in the next couple of days, and Tesney will either go with her, or the day after. Apparently the little guys she is adopting is very sick and her friends in Uganda said she needs to get there as soon as possible. Please pray for him, for safe travels and for the court date!

But, it is not all about the adoption. While we are there, we will be working with a small orphanage called Ekisa. I beg you to please please pretty please visit their website and read about these amazing women and the kids they serve.

What would cause two girls in their twenties to pick up and move to Uganda to serve children with special needs? Two people who know in their hearts that God does not call us to just "wish" we could help....often He calls us to abandon everything and follow Him. Not to simply say "I will pray for them" or "I will keep them in my thoughts" but to give everything away and DO.
The Ekisa kids
One tangible thing we will DO for these ladies, who have become mom to many of the least of these, is bring them some supplies. We will each get a 50lb bag and we plan to fill it up with the stuff listed below! I am most concerned about the medical equipment, so if you know of anyone who might be willing to donate some of these things please let me know!

Cardiac Monitor
Oxygen Concentrator
Jesus Storybook Bible (several copies) We and our kids love this book
however the one we have is in pieces.
Ink for printer – 122 HP Ink Color & Black
Match box cars
Powder paint mix
Swimming pampers – all sizes
Larger flash drives – for social worker
Glue sticks
Clorox wipes
Sensory toys (any toy that is musical, textured, vibrates, bright or has lights, etc.)
Chewable Vitamins
Glow sticks
Duct tape
Sidewalk chalk
Sterile gauze or sterile dressings
And for the Aunties, if you so wish, here are our American cravings:
Crispix Cereal
Funfetti Cake and Icing
Parmesan Cheese

These children would literally be discarded and left to die if not for these ladies. I hope to bless their socks off with every single thing they ask us for!

So, to sum it all up, I will be taking the coming home end of the journey. I will fly over, stay for 5ish days, and fly back to help Deb with the kids on the trip home.

I am not asking any of you for money, because I know I wore you all out with the marathon! ;-). BUT, we do need to raise $ for flights, supplies for Ekisa etc. All money that is donated goes through Project Hopeful and is totally tax deductible. So, if you know of anyone who is rich and needs a tax deductible way to give away some money, please share this blog with them!!!

I can gladly take donations to purchase stuff on the list as well. And if you would like to donate some of the items or would like to send a check, feel free to mail them to me at 6166 Eagle Point Circle Birmingham, AL  35242 {make checks payable to Project Hopeful}.

What an amazing blessing to be a part of this redemption story.

 P.S. Buy this book. As soon as I finish it for the second time, I am going to write more about it. But the guy who wrote it loves Uganda and that is no coincidence....I am pretty sure we will all be BFF's by the time this is all over with. Bob, you are going to love being friends with the 3 of us.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sunday School, Plastic toys, and other random stuff that is currently ticking me off.

I just feel the need to get some things off my chest. None of these things necessarily have anything to do with each other. Enjoy.

The words "You deserve". I hear those words in what seems like EVERY commercial on T.V. and radio right now.

"Come to us and get your teeth whitened for the smile you deserve!"
"We will get you the money you deserve"
"Drive this car because you deserve more!"
"Don't you think you deserve a better cell phone company?"

Makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. Know what we deserve? Hell. Because we are sinful people before a sovereign and just God.

The words "You Need" or "I need". I wish we could all strike this language from our vocabulary and that of our kids. We need a Savior. We need food, water and shelter. We don't need a new iphone. We don't need a new car. We don't need a new outfit for the weekend.

The words "I am starving". Trust me when I say that if you have ever laid eyes on real people, who are actually death....then you would stop saying that. I know that because I used to say it all the time.....I don't anymore.

The phrase "I just don't feel called". I find that people throw this phrase out most often when they know in their heart that God is calling them outside of their comfort zones. But we American Christians can't like that. So, in order to avoid following a call that might alter our cozy lives, we say we don't "feel called". We say there are plenty of ways to serve God! I don't have to adopt or care for widows! You do that and I will just go to church and be on the greeting team. know....the body has many functions and .....stuff. So mine is greeter....every.single.Sunday. And I give my 10%. So I am good. You guys adopt a kid (I am not called but if I was I would adopt locally because what about the kids in our country?), or foster a kid....right here in our country (oh well....maybe I will look in to it but I just don't think I could take care of a child and then have to give them up), or sponsor a kid (I can't afford that), or care for a widow (I don't know any!), or go on mission trips (not my what about the people right here in America?), or go to low income neighborhoods and serve the poor (I have to work on.....that day), or financially support people who are adopting or going on mission trips overseas (aren't there are grants and stuff for that?), or advocate for the overlooked (I am busy advocating for people to...... go to church) I need to go on?

The Bible calls us ALL to so much more than church attendance....and I am over the "I don't feel called" excuse.

For some reason it has really been bothering me lately when people talk about kids being in Bible class, as if Sunday morning attendance is the only way they will ever become Christ followers. If people go off the reservation and stop attending church at a church building, friends and family freak out. "What about the kids and Bible class!" Other people say "I just really wish _______ would get those kids in to Bible class on Sunday mornings.....". PARENTS, it is OUR JOB to disciple our children. I know I need to do a MUCH better job in this area....probably why it is bothering me so much right now....

When did Halloween become all about dressing up girls of all sizes as sluts?

It is Christmas time. Oh don't get me started. I was cleaning out toys the other day and looking for stuff to donate. So we can make room for more stuff. More plastic toy stuff. Don't get me wrong.....we have cut WAAYYYY back at Christmas time. We give away the same amount we spend on Christmas to urgent physical and spiritual need around the world (more on that soon). BUT, I am so tired of all the plastic toys that are in our house. We feel like we "need" a bigger house so we can have more room for all of our plastic stuff.....while others in our world have no food, water, shelter OR Savior.


That's about all.......for now. :-)



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crazy Quiz. How crazy are YOU?

(this post was written for the Brook Hills women's blog

When I was asked to write a blog post for Brook Hills Women, I thought about a lot of "normal" things I could write. Something about single parenting. Something about finding peace in divorce. Something about using your singleness for God's glory. But, God has really laid a burden on my heart lately to live my life in such a way that other Christians around me will think I am crazy......and maybe they will start to get crazy too.

What do I mean by "crazy"? You know. "Those people". The ones who have giant multi-colored families. The ones who have perfectly good American lives, but choose to move their families to some unknown place in the Middle East for the sake of the Gospel. The ones who choose to adopt a child who is HIV+ or has another special need. The ones who just refuse to live like "normal Americans" because they are on the Jesus crazy train.

Let me clarify one thing: I think there is a big difference in a Christ FOLLOWER and a BELIEVER.

F=Follower. Followers are typically the crazy people. They take what is in the Bible and actually apply it, in tangible and visible ways to their lives. Their lives look different to the world. They stand out. They get labeled "do gooders" or "Bible beaters".
B=Believer. Believers are those who claim Christianity. They believe the Bible. They believe in Jesus. But, unless you catch them at church on a Sunday, you likely won't see them living out what they believe.

{Disclaimer: This part is important. The answers in this quiz are based solely on my experience and how I THINK a follower or a believer would answer these questions. Neither of these are my answers. I want to be a follower, but I don't claim to be one. And I don't think I will ever fully arrive, and neither will you. Because the only perfect follower was Jesus.}
So, now that you have the picture in your mind of what crazy is, let's find out how crazy you are:

The Crazy Quiz

1. Do you believe that all disciples of Christ are called to be disciple makers?

F: Yes. If you are not actively working to create disciples then you are being disobedient. That is the whole point of being a Christ follower. We are called to be like Christ, and making disciples is what He did.

B: That is what missionaries are for. I am not called to be a missionary, so I give my money to the church each week and I am sure they are making disciples because we get new members all the time.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age". Matthew 28:18-20

2. How do you feel about missions? What about orphans and widows?

F: I believe John Piper said it best: "There are 3 types of Christians when it comes to missions. Zealous Goers, Zealous Senders, and Disobedient.". Everyone doesn't have to move to a village in Africa, but we should all give our time to serving and spreading the Gospel in a different context (i.e. outside of our comfort zones) whether here in the US or overseas. I think the same holds true for orphan care. You don't have to adopt to care for orphans, but many Christians are called to adopt and don't. Adopt or care for those who do. And that means a lot more than writing a check. If the church was more supportive of those who do adopt, maybe more Christians would step up and follow the nudge in their hearts to adopt as well.

B: I think missions are great but I just don't feel called to actually go anywhere. I don't feel called to adopt either. But I will write a check to those who do feel called to it. I don't know any widows, but if I did I would certainly try to care for them!

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15

 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

3. What do you think happens to the THOUSANDS of people who die every day in our world without ever hearing the Gospel?

F: Unfortunately, I believe they perish eternally. God is loving and just. That is why the call to take the Gospel to the nations is so important and urgent. Jesus died so that all may have eternal life. The church needs to step up and do what it takes to get the Gospel to the nations because that is our job.

B: I don't think God would send someone to Hell just because they never heard of Him. That doesn't seem fair or merciful at all.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:16-20

4. Do you want God's kingdom to come?

F: This world is not my home. I desire to be with God and spend eternity worshiping Him! There is so much pain and suffering in this sinful world, and I long for the day when Jesus will return for His bride. That is why I am so compelled to be a part of taking the Gospel to the nations.

B: I know that everyone will die someday, but I don't WANT to die. I like my life and although I know it will come to an end someday, I am not looking forward to it.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, 
and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

5. Do you expect to suffer as a Christian or do you think Christianity guarantees you an easy life?

F: Here in America, being a true follower of Christ goes against everything that our culture believes. Culture says get more stuff even if you can't pay for it. Culture says you deserve freedom, and happiness, and prosperity. Christ says deny self, and follow Him. I don't think we will all experience the same types of suffering, but the Bible seems to say that suffering and persecution go along with following God. So if you aren't suffering, maybe you aren't truly following..........

B: I think as long as I am going to church and being a good person, I shouldn't have to worry about suffering. I think God loves us and wants us to be happy and have good lives while we are on this earth. I got saved so I know I am going to heaven......

    In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. II Timothy 3:12

 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33


I could go on and on with this quiz. Actually, I did in my first draft. But, the point of this post is not to provide an exhaustive list of answers that will make clear whether you are a believer or a follower. The point is simply to make us think about our faith and if it is evident in our lives.

I struggle daily with the knowledge that the Gospel is so lacking in many places in this world, but it is so widespread here in America. But what do we do with this great Gospel? How do we live as Christians in America? Do we really believe that Jesus actually meant all that stuff He said in our Bibles or have we created our own version of Christianity that suits us and our culture? Have we decided somewhere along the line of history that being a Christian in America means simply going to church on Sundays and spending the rest of our time focusing on ourselves and our stuff?

The Bible tells us that even the demons believe.

So I don't want to be just a believer anymore. I want to be a follower.

  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he
 does and not by faith alone. James 2:19-24

So...............who wants to hop on the crazy train with me?