Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The end of one story the beginning of another.

Tomorrow Johnicles and I will head down to a CPS office to read the infamous "Redacted Report" of our precious little one.

What is this pray tell?

It's an 800-900 page document citing her history (All 14 months of it) as well as any info of her bio family that is deemed as important for us to know. All of the names that we do not need to know are blacked out/redacted. And it's a major step - required to be completed prior to finalizing and signing the adoption placement papers.

And it's gonna be kind of hard. Scratch that, real hard. Coming out of the Target -Popcorn- What Errands- Need- to- Be- Run- Oh- Golly- I- Don't- Know -What- to- Have- for- Dinner- Bubble- Hard. Prayers are appreciated and welcomed and cherished by us.

Because that is a family tree that is broken, but to God not irreparable. Will you believe with me what His Word says,  "with God all things are possible...?" - Matthew 19:26

And hey, I'm not saying our family tree is perfect either. No one's is. But thank you Lord for the gift of Your Mighty Gardening Hands that can graft this little sapling on to our tree.

He is changing the story.

We think of this as Annie's Choose Your Own Adventure story and we are turning the page to page 83, where we God rescues her and brings her home to us to live with us forever.

Yes, it could have been the other page option a very, very hard life in terrible conditions. Can God still prevail? Um, He already has in that situation and others like it and in this one!

I'm so thankful for this gift. It's been very hard. I'm not going to say it hasn't been. It's only for those that God has called. And honestly, I believe that to be all Christians. I know that is bold to say. But the Word says we are called to look after the orphans and widows, does it not?

I know God has changed my story too. I'm so glad for that.

Praying for all that God has called to consider being a part of your own adoption story. God can use you too, you just need to get a little dirty in His garden.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

As Is.

We went to court for what we thought was going to be a simple status review hearing for our foster to adopt case. What ended up happening was nothing less than the Hand of God moving and speeding things along through the Judge. IT was awesome y'all.

The Judge realizing all the time that has gone on and the progress made decided to hurry it up and thus knocked 1-3 months off of the whole adoption. Praise God.

So now as we stage our home to get ready to sell, (Yes, Lord willing we are going to be doing Apartment Life ministry known as CARES) we are also knocking off a to-do list for things that have to be done prior to the finalization of our baby's adoption.

To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.-- Gal. 4:5-7
When I was a little girl, I helped out at my dad's car dealership. He sold pre-owned- actually let's be honest "pre-owned" wasn't even a term back then, "used" luxury vehicles. Mostly Mercedes. Or as we called them, "chuggers" because their old diesel engines made funny chug chug chug sounds. And I didn't really help out, I mostly played the Ms. Pac Man machine in the warehouse where we kept all the inventory. Yes, I will dominate you if you play me at that game. Don't even go there girlfriend!

What always interested me were the cars "stickers." They told the mileage, if it had a warranty or if it was to be sold "as is." Funny sidenote, I used to answer the phones and I'd say, "Alpine Auto all books and records!" I think it's because I always heard them say the cars came with all "books and records."

I just thought the term, "As Is" was interesting.

One of the slew of things we have to do before we get to adopt Annie is take her to a Psychologist for a "Developmental" or a psych evaluation.

Now the first thing I pictured was her looking at Warshak test- inkblots- and going, "Dahhh" and then "dahhh" (her word for dog) over and over. I laughed. Because that's what I do when I don't understand things. And then I realized I really had to take my baby in for a psych eval and got sweaty. Because with laughter, that's also my body's defense mechanism.

So I head down to the posh side of town- which for a SAHM is a treat no matter what kind of appt it is- Galleria, um yeah! We head up to the top floor and then I pray that I don't get the eval because sisters we all know I ain't right in the head- never have been!

The doc is nice enough and I can tell he isn't a believer straight away just tale-tell signs so I drop my faith flags- "We've been really blessed with her. We are praying for her.."

He asks me all sorts of questions I can barely answer because I don't have her medical history and I didn't carry her or deliver her- she was delivered to us. I get nervous because the info I do have is not pretty. It's the info that would devastate you to hear and it's stuff that you never that you would ever cohort with let alone take into your life as your own and raise knowing-
- you don't have and will never have all the medical, psychological, emotional details for
- your baby did not have the clean, pure womb where you measured your caffeine intake or cut out completely- no quite the opposite
- you have no blood ties to be able to predict anything
These facts or lack thereof really hit you in the face everytime you take your adopted love in for a check up or meet a new someone that's going to give them care or see if they should allow you to care for her and it makes you go, wow, I'm completely and utterly out of control on this. I have zero control.

I have zero input.

Nothing.

I'm, we, are taking this darling, precious and in our eyes perfect child as is.

I just answer the questions to the best of my abilities.

At the end he tells me that she might be predisposed to various behavioral things or she might not. She might have trouble with this or that. But on the whole, we really "lucked out" and that she is as sweet as she can be.

We didn't luck out sir, God did all of this. With all due respect to his profession, he does not know my baby's future or her past the God, Creator of all things, has that planned out and has since before time began and He made my baby and all babies just flipping perfect.

She is fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14) made by golly and there is nothing or no one that will tell me different.

She is lovely.

She is a daughter of the King of Kings!

She is absolutely not a mistake. Her life has meaning and we are so glad her mom made that one good choice and chose life!!

Amen and amen.

His office sent a report. Now, I'm a literature lover. I read every pamphlet, every syllabus, every handout, but this one, naaaah. I read the first couple of sentences and something, Holy Spirit, made me stop.

God has already given me a report. I don't need to sit and speculate on what God has planned because He has already done the thing. And it is good my friends.

"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

Thank you God for adopting me as is. Thank you for loving me how I am so I can love others just as they are.

  1. but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.- Romans 5:8
We are looking forward to signing adoption placement papers at the end of February and hopefully, we pray, the Gotcha Day in March! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Please Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Source: http://blog.history.pcusa.org/2013/02/11/remembering-mr-rogers/

When you were a little 80's kid watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, did you ever stop and think to yourself, "How can anyone be this nice?" I did. 
Yep, at 5 I had trust issues. 
I also downed mass quantities of parmesan cheese when no one was looking. Picture a little kid with glasses chugging down that cheese from a can like a little Italian girl ninja. 
I was also very confused as to why he partially changed his clothes when he came in the door. 
But golly, I loved that man. He just set my heart right. KnowwhutImeanEarl? (Oh Ernest. You were so before your time- but I got you.) 
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_P._Worrell

Before I get all Andy Rooney on this mug talkin' 'bout too-small-un-toyed cereal boxes of now and lamenting of yesteryear, I'm going to stop because I can never come back from that. 

So what's new with you guys? We are 32 days out from being done with the whole 90 days to contest our foster to adoption. Meaning, on or around Feb. 9 things will start happening. Things like petitioning for adoption and things like making plans for dare I say it: Gotcha Day. 

Let me break this down right quick.... 
For those that don't know, we are fostering to adopt a precious baby girl through an agency, through CPS. Let me stop right there and humbly educate a few. Did you know that there are agencies out there that will help you adopt through CPS -- you really should not go it alone-- and that all you pay for is legal fees. And in some cases, not even that? Did you know that the training for our agency was done with 4 different classes as opposed to the CPS's 9 sessions? I sidetracked to mention these facts because so many people see cost as an excuse not to adopt. Please, please email me if you live in Houston and need the name of a loving, great adoption agency! 

During this 90 day period from the last trial is where anyone from our dear one's bio family can come forward to contest our keeping her and try to keep her. However. we've already had 2 different people come forward prior to the trial. You know that was a barrel of monkeys- replace barrel with "glass shard" and monkeys with "sharks." One redacted her plea and one did not fit the bill in any way, shape or form. God worked that mess out. 

In my mind, this is all just earthly details. 

I'm focused on that Kingdom vision-- that we are her forever family, that God has it all under His control, on His timeline and in His Filofax. Dang, those things are expensive!!! Have you seen those planners? Like $75 for one. Nope. 

So, day 32. To have a little visual we made this: 


Each link has a different person's name or something regarding our adoption to pray for. It's been real neat. And helpful. 

In fostering to adopt, you have almost zero certainty of things. But isn't that how life is when you think about it? 

I've said from the beginning, yes we could lose our baby. There is that chance. But I also don't know how much time I have left with Johnicles, or Lbug or anyone I love. So it's been a faith journey not only for us, but also for our family and close friends who are also waiting, praying, and believing. Thank you all so much for cheering us on and for being our water breaks. Don't they do that for runners? I don't know I'm in the 0.0 club for life.

I used to run track though in middle school, no lie, my nickname was "Wonder Bread." I don't know why. I do like bread! For those that run/ran you know that feeling where you feel all shakey-leg but you see the end of the race and so your innards make a push to get there? That is where we are at in this adoption case. So close. 

What else.. What else.. Oh we have a bearded dragon, a "beardy" named Chuck Norris. And he's a big divo y'all. Almost Mariah Carey level. With his basking light he's always gotta be hot and have certain lights. His faux log. His daily salads with spring mix and various squashes.  All the things he shan't ever eat- like a silly Mogwai. There was even talk that he would need misting-- um, no line drawn thanks!

His dusted crickets. Which, I had a fit about because I really, really detest crickets. Our 8 y o daughter asked Santa for this thing. Saying, "I tend to do better with more complicated pets." And that girl has done a fabulous job I must say feeding him everyday, reading all sorts of manuals, and never complaining about his maintenance. Which is high.... 
This is the kid who has drawn up plans of "L.J's Safari Experience" -- an animal experience with animals from the continents of Australia and Africa. Oh yeah, and a gift shop that her mom can work at. She's not joking.

And I recently got my upper wisdom teeth removed at 34 years young. And subsequently died. It was horrible. I got an infection and a Godfather resemblance face. The pain meds hardly kicked it. 

So there's that. 

Oh and there's this: 

Can't quite make it out? It says, "The Grinch Lives Here" and it's 4 feet tall and it's pointing at my house. Let that sink in. 

You make one little personal post on FB all in jest and with a light heart about how the next door neighbor's music is too loud and you don't want their smoker pit in front of your house for 3 days with explicit music blaring past midnight but again I tell you it was in a funny tone and then you get - see above. I even took the post down after an hour thinking, yeah that's probably not encouraging or uplifting. But it was funny. 

I noticed the sign as I was pulling out this was early December BTW. My 8 yr old did not see it thank goodness. 

Being a mom what would you do? 

You'd get home asap after dropping your kid off. 
You'd stay in your stretchy pants.
You'd forego a shower and get dat foam brush so fast.

Print out an image of the Grinch. 
Pull out an old photo backdrop your hubby made from wood and his blood. 
And you'd paint a lifesize Grinch on that bad boy so your kid wouldn't come home and have a full on freak out sad fest of confusion. 
Right? 
So that's what I did y'all. By God's grace.

My legs hurt for daaaaaays after painting and drawing for 2 hrs.

But when my kid came home and was like- "Oh look at that. They did that. We did that. How funny!" I knew it was all worth it.

What are we supposed to do?
I realized that yes, Johnicles had gone outside and asked for the music to come down, but maybe we could have been more direct. So I typed up an apology letter, and made up a gift basket after Signgeddon day. I did feel bad. Because they had gotten us all wrong and there had to be a reason. And it was time to remedy that.

John and I both discussed when I called to tell him about the sign that we want to be Christians in this situation. Yes, I was hurt, crying and upset. But it was the perfect time to flip it for the positive. To let them know we were sorry for not doing what God has called us to do on this street- show the love of Jesus.
I say and show this story to brag on God. He turned this situation around. I wanted to just wallow and have people feel sorry for me- me, a Grinch!? And my older kid seeing this-- the horror. If ever I had an excuse to go Mama Bear/Badger- now was the time!
 But God told John and me - be the Grinch! Embrace it. He Gen. 50:20 it big time. 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

And guess what? We got a bbq invite for New Years Eve and had pleasantries. Granted it was Antarctica cold so we couldn't stay, but it was a step on the Moon for us. And things are good. And I will go anywhere for free guacamole. I'm not ashamed. It was dark and I couldn't find the chips, but I found some fries boy howdy and tore that up. Fries and guacamole can work in a pinch! John showed up with the baby and immediately had to go home because his eyes were frozen.

So many people were so sweet and rallied for us. It was awesome. I really appreciated the people who genuinely cared and didn't just want the juicy details. It was refreshing. But it was funny because at home John- whom I call JNOFB on facebook- John Not On Facebook- we had little back and forths. I'm pro FB and he's anti it. He thought it had gotten us into all this and he was right. But at the same time, I see it as a way to show off God moving.

And now, due to many reasons, we are considering moving on. It really has nothing to do with the sign at all- how silly would that be, right!? It has everything to do with where we feel God is calling us to next. We are praying, purging, garage sale-ing, and in the process of painting walls and doors and things that scream us in an effort to neutralize the personality. It might not end up being the time, but we will see!

We are seeing where God leads. We know it will be good!



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our Letter to the Birth Mother.

For some time I've had it on my heart to write a letter from our family to Annie's birth mother to tell her our hearts. Wouldn't you want that? I know I would.

This whole fostering to adopt through CPS process has grown my compassion for people that make bad choices. Not that I'm excluded from that list- far from it really. But the type of choices that leave one with their child(ren) in a foster to adopt case.

 I confess to me it's so simple, just say no! But in all this God has given my heart a tenderization towards those who make really poor life decisions. I'm thankful for this new perspective.

I don't know if you can imagine with me what writing a letter trying to explain your heart to a person that most likely hates you looks or feels like. I can't imagine it myself it's just too overwhelming for this simpleton. So I just prayed for God to do the talking.

And I pray that in showing this that it would give hope to those in need of that today.

And won't you join me in praying for those who need to know God's truth? Thank you.

Dear ___________,
We are writing this to let you know our heart for you and for precious Annie.

First, we want to thank you for choosing life for this precious baby. We believe that God gives life to babies in the womb and we prayed and prayed for this little girl before she was even born to be healthy and we know God heard our prayers as we prayed for her and you. We want you to know that we think you made the right choice in letting her live and be born and we thank God for that decision you made.

We hope you know that we love this baby as our own. We love her so very much.

 We plan to love her forever and ever no matter where God places her. She is so very dear and precious to our hearts and to her sister. She is being taken care of to our very, very best abilities and to our highest standards. We sing to her, play with her, read to her, talk with her, change her often, laugh with her, and take her to church every week and during the week. We pray for her all the time, and we plan to continue showing her our unconditional love just like God loves us and you.

She is such a blessing and an answer to a prayer for our family. We hope you know that we have done everything we can for her well being within our means and will continue to keep her safe, healthy and protected. Should she need anything in regards to a particular school environment, medical need, braces (she is a thumb sucker), college, anything we will do our very best to get it done for her. We will never hold back any of our resources and again we will always strive for the VERY best in everything she needs.

Since she is a part of our family we plan to teach her in God’s Holy Word, the Bible, so that she will know the love of God and the plans He has for her precious life. His plan for her is found in Jeremiah 29:11-13:
11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
And also in 1 Timothy 2:4: We see that God --
“who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
That Truth is found in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And we are praying this prayer for you too, ________. That you may know that you are wonderfully made, that Jesus loves you and He wants His best for you and that is to know Him. We have been praying that for you and will continue to do so, no matter what.

As a mother, I personally cannot imagine your pain. I pray you are healed. And I pray you know that Jesus loves you so much He died for you and wants you to know Him personally.  

We also pray that should God choose us to be her forever family that you would have peace in your heart knowing that Annie will be treated like a princess because she is a daughter of the King, Jesus, and we love her with all our hearts.

                                                                                      May the Lord be with you,


                                                                                      Annie’s Foster Family

Monday, October 27, 2014

Know Nothing

It's been a while gang.

We've got an 11 month old in the house who's cruising and babbling with some successful words thrown in. 

A growing 8 year old who says things like, "I do not fear death." and I respond, "But can you please just put your shoes where they're supposed to go." 

My beloved Johnicles that I call all the time while he's at work because dangit I just miss him and want to recall a funny movie quote, "Did you tell him they were the Lord's chips??!"  (Nacho Libre - eet's the best.) I love him so much. If cheese were people he'd be the best kinds.

Segue, you can still find me grating cheese at around 1pm almost daily. Who knows what for- lunch? Snack? Dinner? Apocalypse? 

The other day after dinner, we looked up what a wombat looks like and surprise THEY'RE ADORABLE: 
wombat
source: http://www.factzoo.com/mammals/wombats.html

I'm still walking and seeing CANIGETAWITNESSUPINHERE!? People stop me and go, "Wow! I remember you in the wheelchair!" And now I'm pushing a stroller. Jesus did it. 

Still doing the Lovely Girls Club deal even though I'm so unworthy, but have so much passion for what God wants and needs HIS girls to hear. DGMS about that I will go on for a fortnight.

We're taking pics of our precious dears, but not posting them on FB because it would not be prudent given the nature of our foster to adopt case. It's so funny, not ha ha funny, but surreal funny. We take pics, we do the events/carnivals/obligatory kid things/birthdays/etc. and yet, it's like God has taken away that I MUST HAVE THE WORLD SEE THIS rigmarole.
 Heck, I'm not judging. How else can g'ma see those fun times if she lives in Montego Bay? By the way, can I go and visit your grandmother if she lives there? Is that weird? Yes? I thought so too. 

I'm so conflicted. Maybe I haven't written in a while, because I feel too many emotions and fear I'll come off: at best a flibbertigibbet (If you've seen Joe vs. the Volcano- we are instafriends) or at worst, certifiable. 

Maybe I don't want to have a DTR with the world? DTR= Discuss the Relationship. 

But maybe that's just the enemy getting at me. 

It ain't no lie that sometimes I go through stuff that can be sort of isolating. And I remember when I am going through those moments how much I hate feeling as though no one gets it. And then I think to my self, "Self, I should blog about that."

Everybody goes through isolating trials. So we can get off people perhaps and grab on to Jesus? 

I get it. I get you in my limited human capacity.
 And really, truly, Jesus gets you always. 

This Sunday, i.e. yesterday, the one that I love had another birthday. I made him crepes and I'm the worst baker ever. THE WORST. And now, a Rodney Dangerfield-esque rant on how bad of a baker I am: 
I think I blacked out and someone actually came in and cooked them and then woke me up and made me think I did it. 
I'm so bad that I regularly look at cakewrecks.com to make myself feel better and laugh! 
I'm so bad at baking, I could have my own show: Baking Bad!!!
We can get this ebola thing under control guys because I made a freaking crepe! 3 of them! Then I didn't want to push it and stopped. Perfectionist people problems. 

We went to church. I cried and journaled and wished for a better pen collection so I could write faster to match my emotional flood writings.

We've got this darling baby girl. We've got her for who knows how long. But again I say, we don't know for how long we have anyone. Everyone's on loan from God's People Library, right? 

So we have this child we love. She loves us. She calls me mama and Johnicles, dada and Leelah, lala, and Boo, dughhhghsh. 

And in our hearts, our will for her is to be with us forever. But we have to daily surrender this to what God wants, His Will for her, and to be real honest I'm not that great at that. Most days I just go through them afraid to really let my heart guard down until some next man-made hearing/trial/appt/meeting/conference when we will FINALLY have her as ours. I know, I know, that's pretty selfish of me.

So at church I just felt the need to just let that guard down. I cannot hold my feelings hostage any longer. 

We love this baby. She is ours for however long God deems. So I'm just gonna love her and let my heart be broken like every other mom on earth who has to let their kid grow up, go to school, go on a mission trip, get married, and sometimes, very, very unthinkable hard times go to be with Jesus. 

Now I feel freer. I know this will be a continued process of telling the beavers to yet again stop damming up my heartworks so I can freely love this little angel without fear, but God can do this in me. 

And I know nothing. And I'm trying my best, in my very imperfect perfectionistic way to say, that's okay. 

  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Romania: The Roma People you need to know about.

I'm a question-asker. Pretty good at it really. Maybe because I'm frequently confused.

I asked our missionary trip director what is the deal with the persecution of the Gypsy population- I will refer to them as Roma- people? 

Why are they singled out from the Romanian people and from other Europeans and Americans? 

Why are they not allowed to go to the churches outside their villages in Romania (and around the world)? 

An astounding aside for you- there is a story about a man who was looking for community, looking for Jesus from India who was turned away from a church. You may have already ascertained that that man was none other than Gandhi. 

What the crap "Christians!?" Why are you turning anyone away!? Can you imagine if Gandhi had accepted Jesus!?!!!!!!!?????!!!!!!!!!!! 

That mess makes my blood pressure elevate. And I have amazing blood pressure levels! 

Good at asking questions.
Great blood pressure. 
Well aren't I a braggard! ?

GET TO THE POINT WOMAN!

The trip director, who I daresay is a legacy-leaver and wonderful follower of Jesus, asked me what people usually think of when they hear: "gypsy." 
The people on our bus went up and down- oh sorry I have a 9 month old- they said:
movers- transients,
pick-pockets,
thieves
Sadly I thought of bangle bracelets- I'm so sheltered and naive and just plain dumb about the world. Ugh. 

And then he challenged us- aren't those qualities found in every race? 

Of course! I admit, I personally didn't think of thieves. That's pretty harsh. I do live in rainbow-la-la-land though. I was stuck on the visual idea of the people. 

People are stuck on terrible stereotypes of the Roma people. It's maddening and a terrible misstep. I have not done my research on this at all. There are not just Roma people in Romania of course. There is a considerable population in America as well. There's much more I could say and research about all this of course. 

Upon arriving at the border of Hungary and Romania we stopped at a convenience store so I could exchange currency. A Roma child came up to me, must have been around 9 and at first I was tempted to begin trying to talk with her. I realized she was begging for money. The parents were somewhere in the vicinity. This was late at night.

 It was very confusing and jarring to watch. I learned then that giving her money would perpetuate the begging that her parents were making her do. 

In America, I've never seen a child beg on the streets. That was immensely unsettling. 

Here is what I know to be true about the Roma people that I learned during my mission trip to Romania.

For starters, they are people. 
They are God's children just like the people that are ignorantly singling them out are God's children. 
Ever read the Bible? (I'm working on it). You don't mess with God's children. Period.
They are beauties. 
They are treasures. 

 One of my pals!








And these photos are all unedited. These kids are that beautiful. 

I learned that education is a luxury for children from families that can afford food and clothing. The average child does not go past 3rd grade. Most times what is holding them back- lack of clothing and shoes.  It gets incredibly cold in Eastern Europe with averages in the 20's. The summers are like ours in Texas. If we only realized that a pair of shoes and some clothes are what could be holding children back from getting educated. That and the lack of education their families received. It's a cycle of course. 

And I'm over here in America complaining about back to school shopping issues. 

I must remember though that my God does not use shame! So I cannot go down the road of how I have acted and act, but what God wants me to do. 

 It costs about $300 per child to be put through the MANNA program (powers that be please correct any misinformation on here). This gives the children and adults a place to go to hear about Jesus: 
MANNA Church in Tinca, Romania

MANNA Children's church area in Tinca, Romania

It gives them access to the feeding center, i.e. a hot meal. 


 This little prayer warrior prayed and prayed and prayed before the meals. Does it get any more precious?






Maybe it was because I didn't exactly speak their language, but the one thing I noticed they weren't doing? Complaining. 

These kids were just playing and grateful and happy hearted. It was refreshing. 
They were all kinds of fun. 

And some of them are now honorary Texans as I got to teach some Bible lessons and of course taught them how to say, "Howdy!" and "Yee-Haw!" 

Thankfully I had access to a fabulous translator during the lessons. He really gave it heart! I tried God willing to teach them that they are God's Creation and that God thinks that His Creation is VERY GOOD! "Foarte Bun!" And then a lesson on God using us to do BIG things for His Kingdom. 

Then their pastor delivered messages and then we saw children go up front and become our sisters and brothers in Christ. 

And there's not much else I can add in the way of flair words to that statement. I don't need word apologetics here. It was God's work. 

Again, thanks to MANNA Worldwide for not sitting by, but for doing something and being the "hands and feet of Christ." 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Messed up in the Head. In the Best Way...

Speaking of the post title, did you know Hans was going to be such a turncoat?!! I'm usually all over those types of switcheroos in movies, but I guess I just blindly turned off my brain and kicked it in to: Disney Mode when I saw Frozen....

Hey guys! This is me, post-Europe! 

Don't worry, I'm not going to start saying Ciao and driving a Vespa on I-10 (although I have ALWAYS wanted to own Vespa). I did frequently say "ciao" to my Romanian friends though seeing as how that was their word for hi and bye, kinda like "aloha." 

It was weird and I'm all kinds of extra crazy now seeing what I've seen. 

In the same week I went from using Google Translate English to Chinese (simplified) to English to Hungarian then to English to Romanian. 

I time traveled overseas which is just about the most surreal deal ever. 

I saw that movie Transcendence on the plane and it was the most awfulest. I wanted to jump out and swim home it was that bad. Johnny Depp. For shame!!!!!!! I saw The Queen. Dang. That Helen Mirren. What can't she do!?!?!?!

Oh, by the way, thank you to all that helped fund and prayed for my mission trip to Romania! God showed out in a big way as my trip was funded in the first five minutes from when I posted the need on FB -when I got the text from a family friend through church saying his company (if you are in Houston- Total Package Turnkey remodeling/renovation does great work- have used their services!!) would pay for whatever I didn't raise and sponsor me! This family has inspired me as being on fire for the Lord in wherever or through whatever He sends their way. I pray I can be as good of a steward with the provisions God gives me as they have. So that was all God!! 

If you were following- not that I have anyone following what I do except concerned family members- my facebook posts the day I left I was delayed and got to spend the night in Miami- AI PAPI! 

I looked everywhere for Gloria and her MSM entourage, but alas, it was me and 300 British people trying to get back across the pond to their home. I did what anyone would do: Sociology experiments, aka people-watch. 

Talks with a Pretend Michael Caine. 
After not talking to a human being for 9 hours and befriending a "Smarte Carte" who became my "Wilson" (think Castaway) I got up the courage to chat up a Brit who looked like Sir Michael Caine on the bus ride to our overnight (paid for- holler!!) stay at the Best Western Plus (it was REALLY nice to be honest- I would vouch for that with where I've stayed, but I don't want to sound pretentious-- it rhymes with "Raylord Talms" and "Pairmont...."). 

We really hit it off me and the pretend Michael Caine. I could have talked with him for hours. He reminded me of a British version of my dad. For real. I learned he was retired. He had gone on "holiday" to Miami, his first time to the states. 

I began our convo by trying to figure out why there were so many Brits coming from Miami by hilariously imploring, "So. Why are all you British folk here? Is it another invasion?" He laughed and assured me, "Heavens no! I'm trying to leave!" 

We talked about so many things on the way to that Best Western. 
What the deal was with all the Italians (my people! there were like 10 of them I think) and the man-bags?
Doctor Who. Is it really that big of a deal in Britain? What was a police box? 
How he was asked to dance by a Tranny in Miami and declined. 
The amazing patience of the British (MANY hours delayed, not one visible fit I saw!). I told him that Americans would be cussing and eating each other if that had been us. I saw this one couple just look at each other and shrug when they announced we'd be staying overnight. SHRUGGED. As in one shrug and done. 
British people. I want to know more about you. Pretend Michael Caine, you are the best. Maybe you're even better than Real Michael Caine. I do hope you find a beautiful lady gardener chum someday because you can't keep all that charm to yourself. No!

Why I'm Even More Messed up in the Head Now...
I've been hoarding all that I've seen in my brain. It's just done a number on me. 

I'm going to try to break it down, but the main point of everything was said by one of the amazing people in the group I went with (I really mean amazing- not like the word they throw out on the Bachelor meat market show!), he or she said this, 

"So many people go to change the world on a mission trip. But what changes is you." I might have paraphrased or screwed that up.

 But yes, I'm changed. I pray it lasts. 

Seeing more of the world makes me realize how much less I can do with what I think is my world. 

Meeting new people who can see miracles happen around them because they are so undistracted and unrushed. 

Seeing children, beautiful children, that have been pushed away by society because of their race, the Roma people (we know them as Gypsies here in America)- seeing them and their joy. 

Watching the kids confess sins in front of all their friends. I'm talking real deal sins (Not that one is above or bigger than the other) but stuff our kids are not confronted with. And then, become sisters and brothers with me in Christ. Powerful. 

Watching broken men and women, made not only whole in Christ, but redeemed and restored and and wholly refurbished, cleansed to spread their new found faith and restoration with their people. 

We heard a sermon on the prodigal son and then watched a prodigal daughter return from her travels as a prostitute and accept Jesus and come into His glory as a new creation. 

I saw 100 kids wait patiently, barefoot and with sores all over them, for a donated pair of shoes from one of the churches I went with. Then I saw them walk out with their pair with huge, grateful smiles on their beautiful faces. 

See what I mean? 
I'm messed up now. Even more than I already was. 
And I've felt weird about going there as almost a voyeur of sorts to watch these beautiful people. I prayed that I would tell their story the way Jesus told their story to me. 

Humbled is the word. Just what I've been praying for. 

More to come. 

Thank you MANNA Worldwide for providing opportunities to get messed up in the head for people like me. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why Romania?

What in the world?!!!

Today was so awesome. I got to see people be brave and donate to this cause- basically I got to see God move- how cool is that??

So I'm sure some of you are like, "Say whaaaa?" How random is this chick wanting to jetset to Romania!? Doesn't she have like a baby and kid and stuff?? What up with that!?

Let me explain a little more.

 I've been praying like I said in the previous post for God to point me in the direction of a mission trip. And it became clear to me through prayer that I should keep my focus on what is already a focus: ministering to young girls to let them know their true worth in Jesus and their God given loveliness. Check.

I've been looking at mission trips provided through my church and nothing hit home to me.

That's when God planted "Manna Worldwide" in my brain. I've always heard my "Bonus Dad" talk about the orphanages he's helped build in the Ukraine and Romania with this organization. And so I searched through their current offerings and this trip came up!

I saw these girls and immediately grabbed my phone!

Aren't they just so lovely!? YES!

The trip will take me to a "Gypsy" girls home in Romania as well as to a Bible Club for children there where lots of families with lots of kids like 150- will come to hear the Word and play.

I'm going solo from Houston to London and then will meet up with a church from Virginia along with the trip director from Manna Worldwide and one other person from Pennsylvania. I'm hoping she will be a she so I can befriend her. BEFRRRRIIIIIIEEEEENNNNDDDD HER. That was weird. Watch her hate cheese or sci fi or cakes (that has happened to me- it never went anywhere from there and it was a guy...) and then I'd have to reassess. Do you like how I've already pre-dumped my only future friend over a fake falling out over food differences!?

So I shared with the trip director my heart for girls-- specifically my mission from God- Blues Brothers reference- to let every girl know she is LOVELY because she is His through verses and lessons that are girl relevant in the Bible. And basically it will be me just pouring out Jesus love on these girls.

God has told me He would provide! He is going to have to provide even more than all the funds- but also confidence and courage!

I've never been on a mission trip.
Never been to Europe.
Had to look up exactly where Romania is on our Ol' School Globe (It says USSR y'all!).
Don't have a passport- applying tomorrow after I retake my pic (apparently tank tops are controversial!-- thank you friend who told me this!!).
My 7 yr old is none too pleased, but is coming around to the idea...
And I hate to raise funds or solicit money. I had a pampered chef party once and sweated like a popsicle in August in the Katy Mills Mall parking lot.

And I just gotta say thank you to everyone who doesn't think I'm crazy like a fox. I am and y'all are sweet. But seriously, thank you for your prayers- the best gift. Thank you for the encouraging words. And thank you for your donations!!! I'm giving away my coveted photography tips to anyone who donates $50!!!!

Here's my fundraising web page... Did I mention I only have 4ish days left to raise the rest!

So that's the news! Thank you for being a part of this journey with me!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I've Lost It. Please Join Me!

If God wants me to go and spread His Good News to precious, lovely girls in Romania then I have less than 6 days to raise all the funds. I've lost my mind completely. Will you please help this become possible? I know it's nuts!!!! To be honest, I'm scared!

But I've been praying for a way to spread God's message to girls that they are LOVELY because they are His and then I saw this trip to visit a Girls Home in Romania as well as help lead Bible Clubs to the Gypsies there and now I'm asking for Big things from our Big God.

If you would like to pray and support- I'm so grateful in advance! Thank you!!!

Get Gillian to Romania

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Thursday: Hoping in Grief.

Tomorrow will be six years since I've seen my dad on earth.


With this blog, I try but I know I fail ("We all stumble...") to purpose my posts for "building others up" a la 1 Thess. 5:11.

 You know what's interesting? I get a lot of hits on a post I wrote several years ago: Teaching Kids about Heaven.

It's not me that is doing the teaching, it's the Bible. And honestly we Christians are being bullied on this certainty. There is major fear concerning this topic, naturally, the topic of death, passing on, etc. And I completely understand it.

But I also understand that in that fear and bullying, the ultimate bully, the devil wins. And I do not mean that in a facetious tone. I fully believe that the devil is real. Funny that as I was typing this sentence I got this weird message on Blogger: "An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again." Oh, I will keep trying.

Because you need to know, without doubt, and your kids need to know that "death has lost its sting."
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Cor. 15:54-56
  
As Christians, we have victory through Jesus Christ over death. 

 Yesterday while we were driving Leelah began to divulge her confusion regarding Tornadoes. Leelah has bouts of anxiety about certain issues: flu shots (she's already worried for a 3 sec. shot in Sept.), random things, and tornadoes.  We all have things we have to work on for our missions here on Earth, this is just one of hers and it's been one of mine as well. 

She asked why God would allow horrible things like Tornadoes to happen. She just couldn't wrap her head around it. 

A dear friend gave me a wonderful, wonderful devotional about 2 weeks after my father graduated to Heaven. The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.

Up until this moment, I was in my late 20's I had not watched very many sad movies and I had only been to one funeral. It was natural for me to omit deeply sad events in my life. To me, I was protecting myself, but ultimately I was stunting my growth in learning to process grief. Process. Not get over. You do not get over grief. 

Anyone that tells you that is not a friend who has experienced or grown through trials of grief. Their intentions may be the kindest. And that is another thing, for those grieving, get ready to be a Grace giver. People will not understand your pain, how can they? They will forget. They will ask too much or too little and you will have to cut them some slack. You might want to prayerfully ask for help with that. I sure had to.

In the book there is a particular devotional (that's just a verse or thought usually written in a devotional book designed to get your mind focused on God and it gives you a little nugget of knowledge) that talks about why bad things happen to good people. This resource was huge for me in my grief.

So I quickly prayed for God to help me explain to this little one, to build her up, to encourage her that God knows what He is doing even when it seems so horrendous. "ALL things work together for good for those who are called according to His purposes." Romans 8:28

We talked about Gigi (my dad) and how he had not known Jesus personally for 60 years. God used the storm of cancer to bring him home to Him. I told her that Gigi could see Jesus when he had cancer in people bringing us meals, people paging his prayer pager, us praying continually for him, people loving on him, random money from kind people (God) showing up, etc. He was surrounded by Jesus. I told her it was the sweetest times even though it was the hardest. Just like the disciples. Joseph. And so many more. 
I think she got it. She told me she did. I can't worry about it. I will just have faith that God will work it out in her heart with the Holy Spirit. 

My mom, dad and I were sitting in Murphy's Deli inside Methodist about 5 days before my dad graduated. We were trying to grab lunch, but none of us could eat. We didn't know at the time that the cancer had returned, it should have been obvious as my dad weighed 88 lbs at that point. 4 months prior he had the cancer on his bone in his hip and had a hip replacement. I don't know why God kept us from knowing it had come back with a vengeance that week. The devil has tried many, many times to beat me up about this. God won't let my heart succumb to this spiritual battle. 

This was the last time we would eat together as a family. 

And my dad looked at us and I now know he was aware of what was happening. I was not. I just wasn't and I don't know why. Forever optimistic I guess. 

We were waiting on a room for him in the hospital because he had a nasty bout of bronchitis he couldn't shake. He looks at us, and asks if he was going to be okay. I assured him he was going to be fine. How tough he was. He started to worry more aloud. He never did that. Finally, I reminded him that he knew Jesus, "Right dad? Remember?" 

"Yeah I know." He said. This is his testimony if you have time. He accepted Jesus one month prior to his passing with the help of my mom and I'm sure, hundreds of friends praying. You are never too late to know Him. 

He had said his last words several days prior/ They were very strained and so precious, "I love you Gilliebob." I used to bob my head while learning to walk as a baby. 

I was at home when my mom called. I was really sick with a stomach bug and had been sleeping at the hospital and was told I needed to go home and rest. I hate that I wasn't there.

 I cried all the tears in my body. John got me off the ground and we called my best friend, Lesly to come and watch our princess. 

I could only cry and say to her, "It's okay." And she with the words she always has said, "No, it's not." It was exactly what I needed to hear. 
  
I have no words about what I saw at the hospital. It was surreal and I just know he was gone even though he was right there. He was with Jesus I just had to keep saying. 

The kind chaplain came and held our hands and told us about perhaps starting a new tradition, like planting a tree. We took that to heart and planted a rose bush in honor of him on the one year mark. 

Because I'm a Christian, hope defines my life. And that's why I will end by telling you that my dad visited me in a dream a few days after May 29, 2008. He was smiling. There was gold light everywhere. He was restored. He told me, "I am okay. I love you." 

It pardoned my heart from the horridness I felt telling him that he was going to be okay. He really was! 
It also helped take away the horrible image I had of the shell of the man who had always been the strongest. He was healed. 

I know God used that as a vision to give my heart peace. It was a miracle. You don't have to believe, I do. 

This past Spring in Lovely Girls Club, I got to talk about Jesus' BFF, Lazarus. And this morning I reread his story again. Highly recommend- John 11. Something I realized today was that it was that event, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (4 days of death in fact) that seemed to be a real turning point in the conversions of many Jews. It spurred even more interest in The Way (Christianity) and it also drew a lot more heat from the Pharisees, the non-believing Jews.

The death of Lazarus was one of the tipping points of Jesus being crucified which was the way we, that believe, could all be saved from sin forever and have that victory over death.

Yet another demonstration of God using bad things for good, the "saving of many lives." Gen. 50:20

Have hope friends.